Wednesday, June 29, 2011

From Our Garden

When I got out of bed the other day and went to the kitchen for breakfast, I noticed that Adam had set out the bounty from our garden. Try not to be too impressed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Baby Shower!

First of all, let me just start by saying we STILL have no idea about the appraisal dispute/closing date etc. Which is just ridiculous, and I'll leave it at that.

However, the good news is that we had a really great weekend and got to meet lots of the neighborhood kids. Although to be honest we've already been pretty thrust into the thick of some hard ministry stuff with the kiddos, which is slightly overwhelming on top of being 36 weeks pregnant and still trying to close on our house. . . but hey, that's what we signed up for right?

Anyways, the highlight of the weekend was the sweet baby shower that some of my friends threw for me on Sunday afternoon. Since Jayci is (obviously) a girl, we don't of "boy stuff" in terms of clothing etc. Plus, we dont even know what we DO have because it's all in boxes somewhere . . . Needless to say, I've been feeling more than a little unprepared for the arrival of our little one. Luckily, my sweet friends and family helped remedy that this weekend. And they went all-out with the cute details and making it a perfect shower that made me feel so so special and loved.

Oh and in case you didn't pick up on it from the pictures, we've decided on a name: Caden Thomas. Just don't even tell me if you don't like it, ok?


 Aren't my friends so creative and fun? Seriously.
 Jayci and her bff Ava with their chocolate mustaches - cute AND delicious.
 Jayci (aka nana) got her brother a cute "little brother" onesie that I just know he is going to love!

It was so so fun and I cannot thank everyone enough for making us feel so special!
(and thanks to emily for not only helping throw and decorate the shower, but also for taking the pictures!)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Reasons #127 and #128 that Jayci loves camp

She gets to eat red velvet cupcakes with the big kids.
 And especially, because her daddy let's her go on the zip line into the lake.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Appraisals and stuff

Want to hear a really long, boring, depressing story that still doesn't have a happy ending? No? Well, unfortunately for you, I'm going to share it anyways.

This is the story of our house/loan/renovation/moving-in process. I'm sure y'all remember that a few times now I've mentioned "just one more week til we close." And yet, we somehow STILL haven't closed on our house. I don't even understand how it is possible for so many things to go wrong with one house. Well, not even the house itself so much as the paperwork and loan process surrounding the house.

It all began many many many months ago with the original loan process. We wanted to get a 203k loan, which would allow us to do the needed renovations to our house. We filled out pages and pages of paperwork, faxed over a detailed life story, and an accounting of every penny in our account (which wasn't all that many pennies).  Anyways, we got an appraisal based on the work we planned on doing in the house - and that appraisal was for $105k, well above the amount we were going to be spending, meaning everything was good to go. And then we got the "as is" appraisal (remember those "before" pictures?) and it was about $25k LESS than what we were paying for the house. Although one might think that shouldn't matter as long as the FINAL number is less than the final loan amount -- one would think wrong. They told us we needed to bring them $25k or we couldn't get the loan. And since we obviously don't have $25k just sitting around (hello working in the ministry), we had to scratch that loan process.

Then we went to the investor who owned our house. He owns many of the houses on our street, in fact, and is renovating them and listing them and hasn't sold any yet, but seems confident he will. Anyways, we went to him and asked if he might be willing to finance the renovations (which we would do ourselves) and then we would buy the house from him when it was completed. We felt like it would be a good deal for him because he's getting more for the house as-is than the house is worth, and free labor out of us . . . plus he hasn't sold any of his other 7 houses on the street, and it might look better for him and the market if he has one sold. He agreed, but it took about 8 years to get the contract together to his liking.

Finally we said forget it, thinking that if he was this hard to work with to try and put together a contract, how could we be sure we would get our money and that we would be able to buy the house from him in the end (foreshadowing?) Once we said "see ya," he decided to sign the contract and we were finally able to actually start working on the house.

But don't worry, things didn't go smoothly from there. Because everything was going smoothly, until we tried to get the last $12k we needed (and had agreed upon in the contract) to finish our renovations. And suddenly, the investor decided we might run away with his money and he wasn't going to give it to us up front but rather would reimburse us once we completed everything. Unfortunately, if we had $12k just laying around we wouldn't have needed him in the first place. As a result, we were stalled on our work for weeks because we couldn't order anything or move ahead with anything until we had some money.

*Please also remember that we are doing all this work ourselves. Adam is working on the house from 5am-10pm every single day, and I'm massively ill with pregnancy nausea and throwing up.Clearly, we would be straight-stupid to walk away from that amount of dedication and work for a measly $12k. Not to mention the fact that we had paid $10k in earnest money, which means we would lose far, far more than he would if we ran away. And he's rich and we're not.

Anyways, we FINALLY worked all that out and finished all the work on the house. We got ALL the paper work to the lender (and if anyone has bought a house recently you know I'm not even exaggerating at how much junk you have to fill out and send in these days in order to buy a house). Then we got another appraisal on the house, and it appraised for $90k which was more than what we needed. So closing was scheduled for last Tuesday morning at 10:30am.

Last Monday we were driving down to camp and chatting about the process and feeling a little excited about the fact that almost a year later it was about to be ALL FINISHED. Adam asked if I could even believe that the next morning we were going to be done with it all. I told him "no" and that I'd believe it when I saw it (ok I realize I might have grown slightly pessimistic and negative at this point). Not ten minutes later, when we arrived at camp, Adam checked his email and saw that the lender had decided they needed another appraisal before we could close. Someone was going to come out that day and they needed us to let them in so we could close by the next afternoon. Too bad we were two hours away at camp. Luckily, Adam's dad said he would let the appraiser in. However, the bank was unable to find an appraiser to do it so last minute, and just like that, closing was no longer scheduled for Tuesday morning. OF COURSE IT WASN'T, because why would anything actually work out?

After trying unsuccessfully most of the day to figure out what was going on and what we needed to do next, they told us the one thing we didn't want to hear: WAIT. They would get another appraiser out as soon as they could, but they didn't know when, and they didn't know when we would be able to close because it depended on when the appraiser came out (remember, I'm eight months pregnant at this point and would prefer for our son to HAVE A HOME to go home to when he comes out of my belly).

Finally, they send an appraiser out last week Thursday. He loved the work we have done on the house and assured us that he will get the lender the info by Saturday at the latest, so we should be able to close on Tuesday (yesterday). We talk with the lender on Monday and they still haven't heard anything from the appraiser and it takes at least 48 hours after receiving the appraisal. Which means (surprise surprise) we wont be closing on Tuesday. We decide to head to camp for the day on Tuesday instead, because nothing drowns our sorrows like some good old-fashioned fun with our favorite kiddos.

Last night we leave camp super-late (because Adam was determined to catch an armadillo), and once we get home we see an email from our lender that the appraiser valued our house at (wait for it) $43k. Ok seriously? It's a four bedroom, two bathroom house that has been COMPLETELY renovated and restored with hardwoods throughout, and is four sided brick. Oh and we know of two houses in the neighborhood that have been bought for $115k in the last month or so.

I'm thinking the appraiser might have bought a little something-something from the good fellows on our street corner. Because I don't know how else he could come up with that number, and screw us over so royally while he's at it. Especially since we have two previous appraisals for 90k and 105k . . . So now the lender wont lend us money and we have to dispute the appraisal and try and get it adjusted. Which is all fine and good, except it pushes our closing back yet again, and did I mention that I'm about to have a baby?

I warned you that story was long and there's no happy ending as of yet. I think Adam and I are both feeling slightly (ok majorly) discouraged and uncertain of what in the world the Lord is doing in all this. We feel like we are following Him, and that we sort of took a step of faith right off a cliff and we're still waiting for Him to catch us.

It reminds me of that Mother Teresa quote: I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish He didn't trust me so much."

Because the truth is that there have been many, many points along this journey that I've thrown up my hands and said that I was done. That I'd reached my limit, and that this was going to LITERALLY be the death of me. But guess what? I'm still here. We're still working on this. And somehow, somehow, God gave me the grace and strength to handle that which I was sure would be my undoing.

Granted, I still don't get it. And I certainly still don't like it. But I see that I have been and continue to be strengthened through this whole ordeal. Right now, however, I could sure use some prayers that we can somehow buy this house before I LITERALLY pop and have a homeless baby.

Monday, June 20, 2011

I Heart Faces: Let's hear it for the boys

I realize it has been sweet-forever since I participated in an I Heart Faces challenge. But I am bound and determined to get my life back on track in the next few weeks (before, you know, we have another baby and I basically lose my mind in the sleeplessness that is newborn-hood). So hey, what better way to start than to try and get back into some sort of regular blogging schedule (ha like I ever had a "regular blogging schedule").

That said, this sweet new baby and daddy just about did me in completely. I couldn't help but be super-duper-excited for my own little one to make his entrance soon (but not too soon, ok buddy?)
I cant wait to see all the beautiful boy entries this week - head over to I Heart Faces to check them out for yourself!

Oh and as a completely unrelated side-note, I realize that lots of you have been asking for house pictures, and I promise that they are coming soon. Right now, however, we have nothing moved in and nothing is 100% completed and everything is a hot mess. Which, I realize, is how we tend to live most of the time anyways - but I'm determined to get things looking at least a little more presentable for y'all this week. Adam said I should I have a date for our big house tour and then y'all could have something to look forward to. But a deadline makes me nervous, because at the rate we're going we might never even close on our house, let alone get moved in and cleaned up before little man gets here. . . .

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day . . .

Since the moment he laid eyes on her, Adam has been wrapped around Jayci's 'little tiny finger' (as she calls it). And I couldn't be more happy about it. You see, Adam is basically the best dad I know. He helps with everything, LOVES spending time with Jayci, really and truly PLAYS with her every day, and teaches her new things about herself, her life, and about the Lord. I love watching him with her, and I know I've mentioned it on here before but I think it makes me fall more in love with him every time I notice what an amazing dad he is to Jayci. He disciplines and corrects with patience and kindness (which is far better than I can say for myself), and then turns around and pesters her and tickles her and chases her all over the house. She loves it. In fact, one of her favorite things to say is: "Daddy, you're a pest!" Which is so true.

So Adam, today i want to celebrate YOU as a father. To thank you for all the hard work and love you put into your job. And to make sure everyone knows that you're the best daddy ever - and I can't wait to see you with two little rugrats!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Day at Camp

Yesterday was the first day of camp, and we couldn't resist heading up there for the day. What can I say? We love camp!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Snapshots of a Renovation

Now that this whole renovation process is drawing to a close, I'm feeling a little reflective about the journey it has been. I've been asking myself, "why did we renovate?" And believe me, I asked myself that same question MANY times throughout the process. But today, I felt the Lord nudging my heart with a slightly different answer to that question.
The heart of renovating a house is taking something that's been overlooked, abandoned, neglected, forgotten . . . and restoring it to the beauty it was intended for. Looking beyond the scars, the holes, the hurts and even the termite damage to see what lies deeper than that. Finding the value in something that others look at and LITERALLY say: "you're going to live in that junky house?" And then responding with certainty that we believe this house has worth, value, and beauty that goes deeper than what meets the eye.
And isn't that exactly what the Lord does with each of His children? I know that's what He did for me. He took the parts of me that I thought were un-fixable, the parts I fought hard not to let anyone see. And He redeemed them. He carefully restored, rubbing away grime and dirt from years of neglect and abuse, and He made those parts beautiful. Beauty for ashes, joy for mourning.
And Adam and I believe that we are being called to this very work of renovation in the hearts and lives of those in this neighborhood. To take that which has been forgotten, hurt, scarred,  neglected, abandoned and abused, and to let God redeem it. To chip away until every person sees what we see: something beautiful. Something worth saving and restoring, no matter how long or how much work it takes.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Where have you been?

I know I've been MIA the last few days - and there's a perfectly good explanation for it all. Because we have been. . . IN OUR NEW HOUSE.  Now to be perfectly honest, we've only slept here once because we didn't have air conditioning and though I like to consider myself fairly "tough" (ha Adam is probably laughing right now) I'm not 90 degree heat tough. My Canadian blood won't allow it. And also, there's some strange circumstances surrounding everything right now (just like every step of this process right?), so basically our house is empty save our bed and Jayci's bed. But nevertheless, we are finally FINALLY seeing the light at the end of this tunnel! Hip hip hooray!

I promise I'll be back soon with pictures and updates. And after I can actually move in ALL our stuff, I'll even give you the full grand tour.

Oh and so far everything is going great. We have thoroughly enjoyed sitting out on our new front porch and waving at the many neighbors who walk by on a regular basis. At all hours of the night. We also may or may not have witnessed a few drug deals already. Which means there are some things we are wrestling through regarding our stance, our position as grace-filled Christians who want what is best for people (hint: best does not equal drugs) . . . and we are also talking a lot about how to protect our little ones from an environment we feel called too and are eager to be a part of. We know they will probably see and experience more than we ever did, and that most other kids their age ever will . . . but we also know that we are serving a God who is faithful and who will provide us with the wisdom to set up appropriate boundaries and guidelines for our own kids in this neighborhood, as well as wisdom in approaching the unique situations we are sure to encounter in our new hood!
Look! I match my room :-)


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