Saturday, January 29, 2011

And If Our God is For Us...

"And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?!  And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?!"

I had an ESL certification training this morning in the OC and I heard this song on my iPod... I listened to it when I was in the car, on the way, several times... and I haven't been able to get those lyrics out of my head all day.  I have felt a spiritual attack in many different ways since I started at my job.  I have felt a deep sense that I was right where I was supposed to be until recently, despite the attack.  The past month or so has been the hardest in so many ways, but the biggest thing is that I was doubting my call to my school and just teaching in general, as well as doubting our call to Oak Cliff.  I was allowing impatience, caring what other people thought, difficulty, and the fear of the unknown rule my heart.  As I said a few blog posts ago, I know now that no matter what comes my way, we are called there.  I fear saying that because I know that Satan will continue attacking... especially if God will be glorified... But I have to speak truth.  I know now that because of all the spiritual attack that I've been experiencing, God has some big plans! 
I will just keep pressing on and trust that God will iron out all the details :).

Things Possibly Coming Together

I'm not going to get my hopes up YET, but I think things are coming together :).  We will most likely be moving forward with the house that I showed pictures of last week.  We saw it last Sunday and fell in love with it.  The issue that we ran into is that the owner is not willing to take less at all... so we have to offer full price if we want it.  But he will most likely pay closing costs if we offer full price (that's something that we're waiting to find out for sure).  It's more than we wanted to pay, but we also feel like it is a house that we could see ourselves growing old in, so we feel like it will be worth it.  We can afford it, we just didn't plan on that much :).  It's also worth more than they are asking, and in a few years, it'll be worth even more (the area is growing quickly!).

It feels like a bed and breakfast!  It's cozy, yet spacious (2030 square feet, but divided up well), has a wood burning fireplace, hard wood floors, original kitchen is in amazing shape, it has 2 living areas and a dining room, and the upstairs master suite is amazing!  It is an escape!  It has a desk area, sitting area, a walk-in closet, and a cute bathroom.  The backyard is HUGE and we would have plenty of space for a garden and for the kids to play for hours :).  The lot is almost a quarter acre (which, for the city, is a good size!).  The neighborhood is wonderful... I drove by the house today and saw families out and about riding bikes and walking around.  Very family friendly.  There's a grocery store a few streets over, and it's a short drive to Urban Acres (the local health food store).  It's also just a short drive to my job (and church!).  It's really the perfect house for our family. 

Here are some pictures that we took:

Some wallpaper would have to be removed in a few rooms, but as we can see, that's all that would need to be done!  The house is in good shape and is well taken care of.

I'll keep you updated on this house... I'm pretty sure this is the one!  Of course, I've said that before so I am still guarding myself a little :).  

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A New Possibility

Today was an interesting day.  We had plans to go see about 10 houses this afternoon (without the kids), and it didn't happen because our realtor was sick.  BUT, Robert and I decided to go ahead and check out the outsides of the houses and the neighborhoods to just make sure that it would be worth looking tomorrow when we go (because we will have the kids with us tomorrow).  We ended up narrowing our choices down to two, and one of them we found out is under contract (and they are about to close).  That was the best neighborhood out of all of them so we were a bit sad :(.  We also saw another house that we are very interested in.  I can't wait until we go see the inside in person tomorrow, but I can already tell it's a great house.  The house was built in 1939, partially updated, 2030 square feet, large lot (for the area), in a nice neighborhood, large backyard, 2 living areas, an upstairs master suite with little office area, etc.  It's a little higher than what we initially were going to look at.  But we decided that it's worth it to pay a little more and have a house that we LOVE in a good neighborhood than to pay less and have a house that isn't in a good neighborhood, etc.  Here are some pictures:


Throughout my life, the majority of the time when things got tough, I assumed that it wasn't God's will and I quit.  I took the tough time as a "sign" that we weren't doing the right thing, and I decided that it would be easier to just stop doing whatever it is that we were doing.  Now, I wouldn't say that was the case for every situation, but I have done that many times.  When things didn't seem emotionally "right," I moved on or stopped trying. 
I had a breakthrough this week.  I finally came to the realization that at the times in which I KNOW God is wanting me to do something and it gets really hard, Satan is trying to break me down.  He's trying to get me to quit.  So, he pulls out all of the things that I struggle with (all lies) and points them out and makes things very difficult.  I am thankful for people in my life that are blatantly honest with me even when it's difficult... many people reminded me of my call, what we KNOW God wants us to do, and my passion... even in the midst of my wanting to just quit.  Robert, my mom, my friend Cindi, my principal at school, etc.  I'm thankful for people pushing me to do what I know to be God's will even when I don't want to.  I'm thankful for the reminders that it's not about feelings or emotions, because those can lie to us... It's about truth and following His will even when it's tough. 

Life is just hard, and if we quit everytime things get hard, we will never do anything. 

So, today I am confident in what the Lord has called our family to, and I will not allow Satan to convince me otherwise.  With Jesus' power, we WILL get through the hard times and God will be glorified. 
I am thankful for a supportive husband and someone that doesn't follow what the world says to be truth, but what the Lord calls us to despite the pressures.  He is good at ignoring those pressures :).  In doing what we're doing, I'm truly following my husband's lead and letting go of that control.  I'm not meant to be in control (and thank goodness because I am SO emotionally lead). 

I'm nervous but excited about the times ahead!  At the moment, we really have no clue what's going to happen even in a month, but that's a good thing.  If we knew, we would be living in the future and not in today. 

So if you're having a hard time, and you KNOW that what you're doing is the Lord's will, just hang on to that!  Don't allow Satan to sway your belief just because things are hard.  Keep pressing on!

We are going to be headed out this afternoon to look at houses and I'm excited!  I know that whether or not we find a house today, we will find one in His time... when He feels that we are ready.  It will be just the right house for our family (even if it's not perfect!). 
I'm just ready to be a part of our community in Oak Cliff!  I'm thankful for our church family, my job, and that God has called us to such a cool area :). 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Back Out on the Hunt

Well, just as I suspected, the Homewood Place house isn't working out so far.  Sunday we figured we would have a house soon, and Monday we didn't hear anything... Tuesday we heard a "verbal" counter offer but never saw anything in writing, and the seller's own agent hasn't heard anything from him since.  So, I'm not sure what's going on, but I'm assuming he's not wanting to sell his house. 

So, tomorrow we are back out on the hunt.  It's so hard to not question our call to the area when things keep not working out... but all I can do is hang on to our call there.  It's only been like a month since we started looking... so I'm going to try to be patient!  It's just getting harder and harder to not have our own place!  I'm just ready.  I'm praying that either the Homewood Place house will work out, or we will find one soon that is OURS.  I know it'll come in time... and it'll be RIGHT, but I'm just ready!! 

Did I say that I'm ready?  :) 

Okay, I'm going to go to bed!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I think God knew that I needed yesterday more than I did.  I was able to rest, take a nap, and reflect.  I spent a lot of time thinking and praying through things, and Robert and I talked a lot about things last night.  I came to a place in which I am at peace with the fact that God has called us to Oak Cliff and I am called to teach where I'm teaching. 

When I was thinking through things, God reminded me that 1) I need to follow my husband's lead, 2) God has used me to affect the lives of others and He has more in store, 3) He has placed us in the church family that He has for a reason.  All of that was enough to finally just stop trying to control everything and allow Him to work in my life.  I have been at peace ever since.

This morning/early afternoon I had ESL training, and I had even more reminder that I am right where I'm supposed to be.

Then... we went house hunting this afternoon.  We saw a lot of houses that I am NOT interested in, but we also found a house that we LOVE.  It has 1757 square feet, hard wood floors, two living areas, huge windows, a dining room, has been taken care of WELL, backs up to a creek, has a nice deck in the back, the neighborhood is great, and it just felt like home (and the street name is Homewood Place :).  It seems like it's just right for our family!  We're working out a few details, but we'll be putting an offer on it asap.  My realtor has already talked to the seller's agent and they know what our stipulations are already and made it clear that they are motivated.  So, I'm praying that all works out!

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Hard Season

What a way to start the long weekend... I woke up this morning with my eye stuck shut.  I am about 99% sure I have pink eye, so I called in to work and will be calling the doctor in a little bit.  What's frustrating is that I only have one more day of paid time off left, and I am having to use it for PINK EYE.  I'm not feeling bad... it is bearable.  If it wasn't so stinkin' contagious, I would just go to work.  But, it's not allowed :-/.  So, Karis and I are hanging out. 
I guess I'll just take advantage of the day :).  Get some rest in, work on some things, and possibly catch up on laundry (we are SOOOOO behind).   

We're actually meeting my mom today to take the kids for a few days.  I'm a little torn about this decision because I want to spend time with them (I already see them very little), but tomorrow I have ESL training and Robert desperately needs to work on our car (the heater isn't working and the high has been below freezing all week).  Also, we are going to look at houses this weekend...  It would almost be impossible to look at houses with the kids "in tow."  If they lived closer, I would just have my mom watch them for the day, but because of the distance, that wouldn't make sense!  She really wants to spend time with them anyway.  I'm hoping that we'll get a good idea on a house this weekend.  It's time.  And I hate this process of house searching.  I'm hoping that things go smoothly and we can get this over with.  We'll see :).

I found out that the "Clinton House" that we've had our eye on for a while (and thought wasn't a possibility because it doesn't have appliances) is actually a possibility.  There are ways around the fact that it doesn't have appliances.  The only appliances that matter to FHA are ones that should be built in.  And there is something called an escrow holdback in which we pick out appliances, bring that money with us to closing, and the lender purchases the appliances with our money.  So, we're going to go look at that one for sure.  Then, we plan to look at some houses a little further north, which would be exactly between my job and Robert's job.  It's hard because we love the Oak Cliff area, but there just aren't houses in our price range there... in neighborhoods that we feel good about.  There are a lot more houses just a little further north in our price range, and with more to offer (more bedrooms, square footage, nicer neighborhoods, etc).  So we're just going to open our options and see what happens.  We'll bathe this decision in lots of prayer and allow God to make it clear!  I'm pretty sure we're going to stick with the Oak Cliff area because we're pretty sure that's where God wants us to be.

These past few weeks have been interesting.  I'm having feelings and thoughts that I didn't think I would have a few months ago.  I LOVE my job, but I've been struggling with working full time.  Anytime I talk to Robert and my mom about it they really just think it's because of the time of year.  I always struggle more this time of year.  They've been really focusing on telling me all of the things that I've been telling them this year about how I know that I'm called to this school and area, but I'm still struggling with wanting to continue. 
I am aware that next year will be very different because Karis will be in school, the boys will be older, it won't be my first year, and we'll have our own place... so I'm just trying to hold on. 

I had a great conversation with my pastor's wife and was reminded that we had a clear call to Oak Cliff.  I had a clear call to this school.  And until this past month, it may have been hard, but I didn't doubt my call.  Satan is using the difficulty now, memories of the past, and my exhaustion against me.  He is trying to make me doubt my call.  I need to go back to the place of my call and stick with that unless God makes it clear that He is changing my path (which, at the moment, it appears to completely be anxiety and confusion which aren't from God).  I love it that she spoke words of truth to me.  Most of my friends/family tell me that staying home makes more sense.  But I'm not sure at the moment that me staying home is God's will for our family.
I have a possibility to teach part time at an online Christian school, but I'm not sure if that's the direction that God's leading me either.  It lacks the part that I love about teaching... working in person with students.  I started filling out the application and quickly felt that it wasn't right.  I think I'm at a point right now in which I just need to hold on through this season and see what God has in store. 

"Take my life and let it be given holy, Lord, to Thee.  Take my lips in ceaseless praise and I will give it all to Thee."
"All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give.  I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live. 
Jesus, Jesus how I trust Him.  How I've proved Him o'er and o'er.  Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus.  Oh for grace to trust Him more."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Trying to See the Bright Side... But Struggling

I feel as though I can't shake this depressed state... I feel like things are so far from what I ever imagined, and some days that's hard to take in.  I have no motivation to clean up the house, work on school stuff, etc.  I don't know if it's just that time of year or what, but I'm not sure what to do about it.  I have a constant nervous feeling in my tummy and am very anxious.  Just a few weeks ago I felt as though everything was exactly the way it should be, and now I'm feeling the complete opposite.  It's truly depressing.  It's hard to understand things.  It's hard to function right now.  I have piles of laundry to wash, the house is getting messy very quickly, a pile of papers to grade, etc, and I just have to desire to do anything but sit here. 

Yesterday we went and looked at two houses.  One of them felt like it was great for our family, and it is very inexpensive (the one I posted about yesterday). 
Then, we went and saw this house:
I fell in love with this house!  It is on a double, HUGE lot.  It is almost 2000 square feet.  It is the model home for the neighborhood, and it was built in the 20's.  The backyard is amazing... I could see the kids playing back there all the time... Making forts... Sleeping in tents during the summer.  It took my breath away.  And best of all, it is in our price range!  It's at the very top of our budget, but it's still in our budget :).  So I decided to contact my realtor (who is out of the country... I feel bad for bothering her!), and she decided to find some things out about it.  She found out that it needs some repairs... so unfortunately we wouldn't be able to get FHA financing. 

So, then I went back to the house on Clinton.  I found out that that house won't get FHA financing either because it doesn't have kitchen appliances.  How silly is that?!  How does that affect the safety??!  So... then we were back to square one. 

Robert and I were talking last night.  Maybe we won't be able to get a house in Oak Cliff at all because houses that we can afford are either in awful neighborhoods, or they're foreclosures and have some kind of issue.  And what's annoying is that we don't mind making repairs... but FHA won't approve houses that need repairs.  So we started looking in other places (other parts of Dallas, Carrollton, Plano, Richardson, etc).  There are TONS of houses that are in good shape, are bigger, have more bedrooms, and would pass FHA inspection in other areas.  But, we talked about how we just don't feel right about looking elsewhere.  Right now we're sifting through whether Oak Cliff is where we're called or if it's just where we want to live so I can be closer to work.  Because I can't move somewhere just because I work there... who knows if I will work there in 2 years?  But we LOVE our church and already have developed a community there... so we can't imagine being anywhere else.  And we have felt a definite call there for several months.

I then decided to look into the Clinton house a little more.  I had read that it was available for 203k FHA financing, but I didn't really know what that meant.  Well, apparently it's a type of financing that you can get to fix up a house (it's called the 203k Rehabilitation Loan)!  And it's an FHA loan so if you qualify for a typical FHA loan, you qualify for a 203k loan!  The requirements are something that we can deal with ($5,000 minimum, you have to make actual repairs before you can do cosmetic work, etc)... in fact, it may be just perfect for our family.  It really could use a new roof, and the laminate floors ripped out (and refinish the hardwoods, the kitchen completed, etc).  Even if we end up putting $20k into fixing it up (which would just go straight into the loan), we will still be buying an inexpensive house for the area (right about $100k).  And not only would we get a great house, but we could fix it up before we move in (and we can choose any contractor and possibly fix it up ourselves)!  Robert has been talking about even adding a bedroom to the back (which could be done pretty easily).  So, it's an ideal situation IF the house isn't gone before my realtor gets home!  I'm just praying that it'll still be there!  I'm trying really hard to let go, but it's hard.  We know that the 2 week slow down period is there for a reason... and I believe that reason is so that we can refine our calling... and to gain a little patience... And to learn to trust... But it's so hard!  And right now I just feel gloom about the whole house search situation.  I have to remind myself constantly that if God wants us there, He will provide the perfect home for our family.  And if He doesn't, then He will make His will known.  I just know that things would be so much easier if we had our own place.  It's hard to wait!

Ugh... I would love it if this gloomy feeling would go away!!  (the gloomy weather doesn't help!)

Off to pray and spend time with Jesus.. I need Him desperately. 

Thanks for allowing me to be real with you.  It helps me SO much to sift through things on my blog. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Re-Evaluating Life and Further Refining My Call

I was naive to think that the week after Christmas would be cake.  Not only did I have the opportunity to do abbreviated lessons, I had two weeks off of rest, have family time, and spend alone time with my hubby.  I figured since we all had some time off (including the students), that everyone would be rested and ready to go! 

Boy was I wrong!

Monday went well.  The students were responsive, paid attention, and listened well.  I was ready to be back into some routine.

Tuesday... not so much.  We all had a rough day Tuesday... Wednesday was better, but then Thursday and Friday were rough.  In fact, I had a small anxiety attack yesterday.

For me, the biggest thing that I struggled with was not being home with my kids.  I went from seeing them all the time to not seeing them much at all again.  Monday and Tuesday I got home after dark.  I saw Levi for maybe 30 minutes to an hour those nights.  Evenings were exhausting and stressful.  It's tough to come home after working for 9-10 hours then sitting in traffic for 40 minutes or so to jumping right into taking care of the kids. 

I'm at a crossroads right now in which I have to decide whether this is God's call on my life, or I'm not doing what I'm supposed to be and God is trying to make that obvious.  Either I need to re-think what I'm doing, or God is further refining my call.  I LOVE my job, but no matter how much I love my job, if it negatively impacts my family, something needs to change.  Now, I'm definitely not saying that it means I need to leave right now.  I wouldn't do that to my students.  But, I'm re-evaluating what will happen next year.  

What's interesting is that Tuesday I had an awful day... all I wanted was to move to the suburbs and live a comfortable, cushy life, working with kids that don't need a lot of help and intervention (the majority of our kids are reading below grade level... which makes life interesting!).  That night into the next day, I felt that God was making it clear that despite how hard it is, this is my calling, and He's calling us to live there.  That we aren't called to live comfortable, cushy lives.  Robert had the same confirmation.  Then the rest of the week I felt so much attack!  So I'm pretty sure it's just spiritual warfare...

I've stayed home with the kids... many times... and everytime I decide that being a stay at home mom isn't for me.  But when I work, I have constant guilt. 

As I've been re-evaluating things, I have thought about what is best for my kids.  Is it best for them to be at home with a very stressed out mama, or to be in "school"?  The kids have grown so much in school.  Who they are now is so much different from who they were even a few months ago.  When I'm home with them, as much as I have good intentions, I don't spend much time teaching them.  I don't spend much time playing with them.  Or working with them.  So, really, I feel it is best for them to be doing what we're doing.

I have to remind myself that once we get into our own home, life will change drastically.  As much as my in-laws have made their house a home for us, it's still not our home.  It's hard to just let the kids go free.  They don't have a yard that we can send them out to.  We don't have a kitchen on the same floor as our living area, so it's tough to cook/bake.  AND, if we find a house in the area where I work, I will be home in 5 minutes instead of 40-50 minutes!  So, life will be much different.  I think I'm at a point in my life in which I just need to be patient and wait for God's plan to be made known.  Bumps in the road are normal.  My dad reminded me that I can't want to leave just because it's hard.  Life is hard.  If I leave everytime something gets hard, I will NEVER stick anything out.  He reminded me that in a few years, life will be so different.  The kids will start really helping out with things around the house.  The kids will be old enough to be more independent.  This stage of life is just hard, no matter what.  If I stayed home it would be really hard too.  Life is just hard.  Life is full of bumps in the road.  Unfortunately, there is sin in the world so until we are Home, life will be difficult. 

Yesterday would have also been my brother's 30th birthday... so that was another thing that made the day difficult.  That's pretty self-explanatory.  I miss him.  I wish that I could have helped him more.  I wish that he could have seen all that he had.  But, that won't ever change... so all I can do is continue living life.

We found a house that we are looking into more.  It's a foreclosure, so even though it's worth about $150k, it's being sold for $81k.  And, I have been told that our approval for an FHA loan is sufficient.  We can use an FHA loan on it.  We have looked at it outside, and we have looked through all the windows, but we haven't walked through it.  From what we can tell, someone updated it a couple of years ago, but they did it pretty cheaply :).  Instead of stripping and re-finishing the wood floors, they just put cheap laminate on top.  But, that's not a big deal.  That's something that can be re-done eventually.  My realtor is out of the country, but she's working on finding someone to take us to look at it.  Spending $81k on a house would be wonderful!  Our payment would be so low... which would be nice!  A low payment would provide us with a lot of flexibility!  And, it's in the right schools and the neighborhood is pretty good (for that area anyway).  We'll see what happens.  Here is a link to pictures of the house: Clinton House.

I'll probably have more to say later.  My brain is moving a million miles a minute right now... I'm spending a lot of time thinking/praying through things... and God is at work.  I'm thankful for the life that the Lord has given me, despite the challenges. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year, New Beginnings

My family just got home after spending a few days at our camp reunion.  It was a great way to end last year and begin this year.  It was a bitter-sweet trip... filled with reminiscing, laughs, and talking about how life is so different.  I miss the community that we once had at camp, but I also left knowing deep with-in that the "camp" chapter of our life has come to an end.  In many ways this is hard to believe... we have been a part of that place for a long time.  Robert was on a rec team that stayed there almost the whole summer in 1999.  He was an SMT (summer staff) in 2000, I was an SMT in 2002, and we both were in 2003 (that's when we met).  He was on full time staff from August 2003 until August 2006, then again from February 2008 until this past summer.  It has been home for us for most of our adult life.  We have so many memories there.  Robert and I met and married there.  I had two of my babies actually on the property!  We will always be a part of the camp family, but it is very clear that we have moved on now.  We are starting a new chapter in our life. 

The end of 2009 and most of 2010 was filled with many heart aches and huge changes... I lost my brother to a very gruesome suicide on November 30th.  We moved to a different house at camp three weeks later.  I had my third child in 4 years in February.  I went through postpartum depression in the Spring.  We moved to a new city in the summer.  I started teaching full time in August.  Life has been crazy and non-stop.  I have had some really hard moments, but God has taught me so much... about myself, about others, and about life.  As hard as this year was, I'm thankful.  I have so much more freedom to be me now than ever before. I know that God has created me for a specific reason and purpose.  I know that I am who I am because that's who He created me to be.  I'm far from perfect... and I'm okay with that.  I won't be perfect until I am home with Jesus.  Until then, I strive to know Him and make Him known.  That's why we're here... we're not here to be happy.  We're not here to have a bunch of things.  We're not here to be comfortable.  We're here to know Him and make Him known.  To have a broken heart for the lost and hurting.  To love others like He loves us.  To see past what the world sees and see a child loved by God. 

I'm not expecting an easy year.  I'm not expecting everything to go my way.  I'm not expecting my ducks to line up in a perfect row.  I'm realistic and know that there will be hard times.  I will have moments in which I'm not sure I can go on.  I'll have moments in which I doubt our move to Dallas.  I'll have doubts about working full time.  I'll have times when I'm so exhausted that I'm not sure I can function.  But that's just life here on earth.  Life isn't perfect and it never will be.

I am hopeful, though, that God has some good things in store for the year as well.  I have seen Him use me in ways that I never thought I'd have the opportunity to be used.  I will continue growing.  I will continue desiring more of Jesus.  I will continue learning how to love my husband better.  I will continue learning how to love my kids more.  I will continue learning how to be a better daughter, teacher, friend, etc.
Lord willing, we will find the home that is perfect for our family, in His time, in the location that He wants us to be.  We will begin to create new routines and traditions as a family.  We will begin developing a community around us.  We will continue getting to know new friends at our church. 
And if God says to make some changes, we will :).  I'm not surprised anymore when that happens.  I am learning to just go with His flow and allow Him to lead (as hard as that is some days!).   

I'm not going to make any resolutions this year because life should just be lived... I have made so many goals to not be able to live up to them... and for now I'm not even going to come up with specifics.  I have some things that I would like to begin or continue to improve in, but I will just take one day at at time because that's all I can do.  My priority is Jesus, and everything else will fall under that priority.