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New Year, New You

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It’s been a while since I’ve written on my blog. Life came at me hard in the last part of 2019. We decided to put our house up for sale–the home that had been ours for 13 years and had seen us start as a family of two, then become a family of three, four, and five, and then, for a while, a family of seven as we became a foster family for a season. It was hard to let go (I hate change), but we were practically on top of each other and really needed some room to breathe. For those of you who like tiny home living, my hat is off to you. But with kids who have sensory needs and a husband who works third shift, our family needed room to grow.

And so the search began for us to find a home that fit our tight budget and met the needs of our growing family. We had a very patient realtor, who time and again would hear me say, “This just isn’t quite right.” My husband just needed a roof and four walls. But I needed more living space–a place to homeschool our children, a quiet place for me to work, and a place where we could all play together. But as the search continued, it seemed less and less likely that I would be able to find a place that would fit our needs, our budget, and our desire to be closer to my family.

Until one day, our realtor called us with a house that had potential if we would just open our eyes to its charm. I was skeptical. I needed four bedrooms. This house had three. I wanted to live on a farm. This place was in a neighborhood. But it was the neighborhood directly behind my parents’ house. It was the neighborhood where I rode my bike, made friends, and babysat when I was growing up. So, we decided to take a look.

When we pulled up to the ranch-style home, we were convinced that it wasn’t going to work out. We didn’t particularly want a ranch house. But when we stepped in, we were amazed to find that the one and only owners of the sixty-year-old house had taken great pains in expanding and making the home quite unique. As we wandered from room to room to room, we began to see how we could make this our home. Of course, there were many updates that would be needed, but the house charmed us immediately.

We saw how we could make it a four-bedroom. We dreamed of turning the sunroom into a school room. We envisioned knocking down a wall to make one big living area. We shopped around to figure out how to enlarge the kitchen. And we saw the potential to finally have a space where others could come and fellowship. We knew this was going to be our home.

And so the bidding war began. It had only been on the market a few days, and we were asking for a significant decrease in the price. It was the only way we could work it in our budget and get the updates done that would be needed to make it work for our family. I was told I was being foolish. I was told that we were letting the “perfect house” slip through our fingers. I was told that I would never find what I wanted in a home.

But I believe that God works all things together for good (Rom. 8:28) and that He would either bring it down to our price or help us find something else. My husband and I agreed that the only way we would buy this house was if we could get them down to our asking price. They said no. So we prayed…and waited.

Trust is a funny thing. You have to keep living your life and moving forward, but you also want to demonstrate your faith that God has this all under control. We didn’t even look at any houses that weekend. In fact, our realtor couldn’t even find any houses that were in our price range with four bedrooms. It was the first weekend in quite some time that we weren’t meeting him somewhere to go through a house. He hated to see it slip through our fingers after months of searching, so he tried to convince us to go up on the price. So did some of our family. Even some of our friends thought we were being stubborn. But we knew that God had a plan for us within this budget. So we continued to pray…

When Monday came, our anxiety levels were at their highest because we just knew that God had this house for us and couldn’t wait for the phone to ring to confirm our belief. And then it happened. They said yes!

And so began a month of paperwork, inspections, planning renovations, and getting our finances together. And when we finally moved in, it was a couple months of renovations (some of which are still being completed) and unpacking (I still haven’t found my frying pan!).

Picture of front of house

But what if God had told us no? Would we still be rejoicing in His goodness?

You know, the last few years haven’t been very easy on us. We have had some extremely dark times–times when our marriage was in ruins, times when the children were so far from God that we couldn’t see His plan, times when money has been so tight that we have had to ask for help from our parents to buy groceries. We are still going through some hard times.

As I write this, my father-in-law is in the emergency room yet again. His pancreatic cancer diagnosis has thrown us all through a loop as we have watched this once strong, healthy man (who never took a sick day) become lethargic, feverish, and weak. The dynamic has changed from us relying on him to him relying on all of us. My husband struggles to see his dad–the one whom he always turned to when needing help with home projects–unable to even help us unload boxes from the U-Haul. The frailty of life is ever before us, and we are struggling through this season–my mother-in-law especially.

Over the Christmas holidays, I was saddened and burdened for the many who lost loved ones–a nine-year-old girl who suddenly became ill and passed away; my friend’s best friend, who left behind a young family when she succumbed to her battle with metastatic breast cancer; a father who had been struggling for years with Parkinson’s; a grandmother who celebrated Christmas in Heaven. These people were important to those who loved them. They left a hole behind that will never be filled. And life continues to move forward.

It’s the new year. There are so many opportunities, so many dreams to live out in 2020. But there is heartache ahead, too. That’s just life in this broken, sinful world.

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9).

So, strive to eat healthier this year, but enjoy a little bit of chocolate, too. Rid yourself of toxic relationships, but reach out and make amends with those you can. Work hard, but take time to play. Turn off your t.v. Put down your phone. And take time with your loved ones.

And when you mess up–as I know we all will–remember that God never changes. He doesn’t have to. He is the One Who is making all things new. He is our Hope, our Purpose, and our Reward.

The ads may say, “New year, new you”! But we all know that we are striving after the wind. Our old selves are always there, dragging us down and reminding us of who we are. We will never be perfect or completely new on this side of eternity. So, we look to that blessed hope of one day when we will be completely transformed; one day when our earthly bodies will endure no more sadness, pain, or sickness; one day when we will be perfect in mind, body, and soul. Until then, be encouraged by Lamentations 3:22-23:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

 

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