Little Bits of Happy

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I’ve decided that lofty blogging goals are going to be impossible in my current life season. We returned from a much needed vacation last week then our oldest daughter flew in Friday, my parents drove in, our youngest daughters have been sick and were kind enough to pass it on to me, a college friend will be staying with us while she’s in town and we have a conference, church and meetings all weekend. We are sprinting toward the end of the year.

Oh yeah, we homeschool too!

I’m thankful for all of it (well, except the sickness). I’m so happy that our house isn’t just for us. Travis and I really wanted whatever house we bought to be big enough for people and for whatever ministry God called us to. So far we’ve had people stay with us and have had at least one party so I think we’re off to a good start.

In light of all of this and because I want to keep blogging as a hobby, I thought I’d take the house stuff in manageable, bite-sized pieces. Which also means I don’t have to wait until my house is completely clean before I write :D

Today I’m focusing on the fireplace and mantle.

When we were looking for a home I was convinced that only a wood burning fireplace would do. I love the smell and the crackle of the wood burning but I’ve actually become very fond of just flipping a switch to start a fire. We still have a fire pit so I can have a wood fire outside. The benefit to me is that I don’t have to deal with cleaning up ash inside.

I’m not sure that I love the configuration of the TV and the ugly chair needs to go (I’m almost serious about it this time since it’s gotten less comfortable) but that’s how things will stay for now.

I don’t expect the house to be completely personalized for a while. It made me crazy at first to have to live with beige walls… okay it still makes me crazy. I’ve got too much going on though to paint right now. Which is why I chose teal curtains for the living room. A splash of color helps my psyche.

Until next time,

Amy

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Finding the Good

Travis asked me a few days ago if I was ever going to write again. Of course, I immediately took that as a challenge because that’s what my type A personality does. I informed him that I was already working on a blog post but I hadn’t published it yet. So there. I’m sort of kidding. I know that he asked just because he likes to read what I write. It’s nice to have a husband that is also a big fan of mine.

I’ve thought and sorted and thought some more about what to write because I imagined that once I did write it would be a great post about the house with pictures of what we’ve done- and I’ll get to that- but if I’m going to be completely honest, this move has been a much more difficult transition for me than I thought it would be.

I loved living in Franklin. Anyone that knows me well knows that about me. Living in Franklin was the closest to home that I’d felt in the years since we left Florida. The historic homes and buildings were what I loved about my hometown in Lakeland. For years my family attended church that was a 30 minute drive from where we lived and since there was no interstate to make the commute faster, we had to drive through the center of town…a lot. Four times on Sunday, twice on Monday and twice on Wednesday. I never, ever tired of driving around Lake Hollingsworth with it’s big historic mansions. I loved taking Success Avenue past the historic Mediterranean, Foursquare & Cottage homes. Through downtown I could see historic hotels, some had been converted to assisted living and another was full of homeless people until it shut down and was later refurbished and reopened but I always thought they were beautiful. I tend to see things for what they could be rather than what they are presently.

When we moved to Franklin I loved it. Once again, every Sunday, we were driving through the historic district to get to church. Franklin has a decided advantage over Lakeland in the lack of crime and I always felt safe walking there. I instantly felt at home. We’d already lived in Tennessee for about 7 years and although I had really tried to, I hadn’t felt at home before we moved to Franklin

So why didn’t we stay there? Well, after years of living in a house that was way too small, that was older and needed so much expensive work, I was tired. We were tired. All of us, even the kids. The real estate market had gone up drastically, very quickly, which was good for us in that we were able to sell our house but we weren’t going to be able to go up in space as much as we felt that we needed to for the price we wanted to pay and we definitely didn’t want another fixer upper. We prayed about it, of course. We talked to our leaders at church, we talked to our Realtor- who also happens to be a leader at our church- we talked to friends that we love and respect their advice, & we talked to our parents. We didn’t want to make a mistake because real estate mistakes are expensive and can bring a lot of misery. Been there, done that. So, having talked (a lot) and having prayed (a lot) we decided that we were going to move to Spring Hill.

And you know the rest of the story, we found an amazing, brand-new house that had everything we wanted and a lot of things that we hoped for but were sure we wouldn’t get. It’s truly amazing. I’ve said to some friends that it’s like God peeked inside my head and put everything I wanted into our home, stuck a bow on it and gave it to us. Just the space alone has made so many things easier for us and I have been so thankful.

We’ve hosted my parents and friends and Amanda and Daniel have already visited and we had room for everybody. Travis and I remarked over and over about how much less stressful it was to have four extra people stay in our new house. There were plenty of bathrooms and bedrooms and we could have everyone in the kitchen at the same time and still have room for more people. Our home is beautiful. We have granite countertops and wood floors, a fireplace and front porch. Our yard was fenced in before we ever moved in so Daisy is safe, the neighborhood has sidewalks and a swimming pool. It has everything that I said I wanted and more.

So imagine my surprise when I started waking up depressed.

I never thought that a new house would make me happy. I was pretty sure that a new house would make some things in my life less stressful and I was right about that. It’s much less stressful to have a garage and closets to store things in. It’s much less stressful because when I open a closet door, nothing falls on my head. But I’ve known for years that the thoughts of, “if only” were nothing more than a diversion. If only we were out of debt, if only my house were bigger, if only…add whatever you’re struggling with here….my life would be better. “If only” keeps us from facing things inside of us that need healing, it keeps us from facing our misery head on. So we sit and stew and focus on the big things that we think are making our lives miserable instead of the root of the problem. I can say this because I used to live in the land of “if only” and it never helps.

Okay, so “yay” I was right. My house didn’t make me happy but I can say with all certainty that I didn’t expect it to depress me. So, I did what I always do.

I mentally freaked out.

For days and days I tried to figure out why in the world I could possibly be depressed. God had moved mountains for us. He sold a house that I was convinced we would never be able to sell and had given us everything that we wanted. I had no right to be depressed and I told myself that over and over and over. I was being ungrateful. Except that I knew I was thankful for everything and for where God had brought us so that couldn’t be it. But maybe it could. So I tried to forget about it. And I didn’t want to get out of bed. So I told myself I was being lazy. Over and over and over again. It was a merry-go-round of misery. I read my Bible and I prayed but I didn’t feel like doing either thing. I was crabby and irritable and I wasn’t sleeping- again. I wondered what terrible sin I’d committed that would cause me to be in such a funk. I looked for things in my neighborhood that would make me feel at home. I walked and took pictures and was determined to find something, anything that would help me not feel so out of sorts.

The walk actually really helped.

Something else that helped was taking a walk with Travis through our neighborhood and just talking to sort it out. When I’m depressed I’m very quiet. If you’ve followed my blog through the years you could probably pinpoint when I’m happy and optimistic and when I’m depressed or dealing with big things just by how often I write. I’m not a terribly mysterious person. Although if I’d just talk it out I’d make things much easier on myself.

So, Travis and I talked and talked and walked and walked and imagine my surprise when he brought up the subject of possibly buying 5 or 10 acres and building a house at some point in the future. Wait, what? I suddenly had permission to dream again. This house wasn’t the end of the road. If Travis thinks of wanting to do something else in a few years, then maybe I’m not being ungrateful for feeling hemmed in by houses and a privacy fence. Maybe it’s okay for me to dream of someday having my own orchard and a couple of goats.

Then for Labor Day we had some friends over that hadn’t seen the house yet. These people are so dear and went through every single bit of drama with us last year. The old house’s remodel, Travis getting laid off, us trying to figure out where to move, and they fasted and prayed with us for the sale of our house. During the course of the evening we talked and laughed and we also prayed for each other. At the very end of the night, I don’t remember how it came up, I was very honest with them about how difficult a transition this has been for me. And I was so surprised to hear my friend say that she had been concerned about that for me. I said that it shouldn’t matter because Franklin is only 20 minutes away, I can still visit, but I was actually depressed and didn’t want to get out of bed. She told me that she’d experienced the same thing when she moved. She told herself that she was moving from a small town to a small town but she still cried when she went to the grocery store. In that moment she gave me permission to feel sad that I’d moved away from a place that I loved. Suddenly everything made sense and I felt a giant weight roll off of me.

It wasn’t complicated or mysterious anymore. I’m a girl that misses her adopted hometown. That’s it.

I don’t let myself feel sad, angry, disappointed, etc. without spending a whole lot of time berating myself for having “bad” feelings. My feelings were an indicator that something was wrong but because I’ve been trained to believe that every feeling that isn’t happiness or joy is of “the devil” it kept me from getting to the bottom of what was actually wrong. Because something was wrong, I was sad. Denying it, rebuking it, trying to pray it away didn’t do any good. Understanding that we made the right decision to move here, for all the right reasons hasn’t exempted me from the consequences of that. Consequences is a word that’s typically taken as punishment, ie, “you disobeyed and those are the consequences” when all it really means is, “a result or effect of an action or condition”. We moved to Spring Hill and I’ve had to deal with sadness because I moved away from Franklin.

So why would my first blog post after I move be about this? I can’t say anything other than I felt like I should write about it. Because I’m never the only one. I like to think that I’m completely unique but I struggle with the same things that everyone else does. And also so that I’ll remember the next time I’m in a situation like this. I should have called someone and been honest about struggling. But honestly, everyone was so happy for us that I didn’t want to bring anyone down. I also didn’t want to be the woman who just wasn’t going to be happy no matter what. I didn’t want to be called ungrateful or deal with being reprimanded over feeling sad- yes, that’s happened before. I felt pressure to be only happy and whether or not that was justified I felt that way anyway. I’m writing this so that next time I can pray about who to talk to about it because God knows who I needed in that moment and for every other moment. I had no idea that my friend and leader would understand that even though I was happy and excited and thankful about our new house I could also be very sad about leaving Franklin. But God knew and even though it wasn’t part of my plan to talk about it, it was part of His plan. And I honestly don’t feel so sad anymore. I’ll keep looking for the good and I have no doubt that I’ll find exactly what I’m looking for.

Back to Reality…Sort of

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These last few weeks have been a whirlwind of showings and offers and complete craziness. So much so that I had to get out of town. I decided that I’d visit my parents for a few days because 7 showings in 5 days was just too much. My right eye had started twitching and was getting worse and by the time I was on I-65 driving south my left eye started twitching too. I have to say that it’s hard to drive that way.

As it turns out, if I’d just stuck with things around here a few days longer it would have been fine. After the last two showings we didn’t get anymore requests until after we’d accepted an offer. Which means that Daisy didn’t really need to be boarded and the Buttons wouldn’t have caught the sickness that my parents came home from Romania with. Sigh. But I hadn’t seen my parents since Amanda’s wedding and before that it was Christmas and I was able to have a birthday dinner with my dad so it was worth it. I just wish that we weren’t all feeling so crummy because we have *too much* to do.

The contract on our house has an inspection contingency and the inspection is Friday. I’m not too worried because of all the work we put into the house before we even put it on the market. I would honestly be shocked if there was anything major that needed to be repaired because the house is not that big and we went over it with a fine toothed comb beforehand.

Tomorrow is the day that we plan on placing an offer on another home! Like, for real! I don’t want to say too much because this is real estate and stuff happens. The house is brand new and beautiful though, I’ll say that much. It’s also in Spring Hill which is farther south than we live right now. I imagine that people who know me well might be surprised about that but the market in Franklin has gone up in price significantly in the last year and we just aren’t willing to do another fixer-upper or to buy a house that’s too small for us. We can still visit downtown and that kind of thing but in the new house we’ll be about 5 minutes from the interstate which makes it much easier to get to the places we want to go. And we’ll be living in a house that we want to live in. I’m so excited!!! In a calm, keep my distance until it’s for sure kind of way.

I mentioned Amanda’s wedding and I haven’t written about that yet but I want to. Of course, this morning while in the shower I realized that it had been a *long* time since I’d shaved my legs. I have no idea how long but I’m usually on top of that kind of thing. My stress level is starting to decrease to the point that I’m sleeping at night, my eyes are no longer twitching and I’m not having heart flutters. I’m also having somewhat coherent thoughts although when Travis and I are talking I do often drift off into thought about some detail that needs to be worked out. It’s hard for us to get through a conversation right now. I say all that to say that while I intend to be back at my blog, don’t expect a great American novel or anything. Maybe I’ll post pictures though. Later.

This is Real Life

So, last week when I posted I very much wanted to correct the previous days failure. I did go to look for the woman that I should have prayed for but I didn’t find her. The girls and I circled half the store then some of Chloe’s friends found her and I let her go look at clothes with them while Halle and I searched the rest of the store. I even asked a cashier if she was there but she wasn’t. Chloe and I went again yesterday and looked all over the store again but she wasn’t there. The lesson here? Obey the first time. We’re still praying for her and I expect that at some point I’ll run into her again.

If I’m going to be completely honest, this has been a tough week. Our house has been on the market for two full months now and we’ve had so.many.showings. I know that I’m tired and off my game because for the last two showings I did things I’d never done before. I accidentally left hair in the bathtub drain (it’s embarrassing and I know they looked in the tub because the shower curtain was mussed) and yesterday morning I left a towel hanging on my closet door. Those might not seem like big things but quite frankly people are very picky so I don’t leave anything to chance. I’ve never fully appreciated how difficult it is to have your house on the market for a prolonged period of time. I do now and I’d like for it to be over with.

That’s it, this is what my life looks like right now. That and dance lessons and doing my best to make sure that Chloe and Halle get some school work done. Oh, and feeding people and cleaning and planting things. I planted raspberries this week- in pots so that I can take them with me when we leave. I’ve wanted to plant raspberries for years so I’m excited! And that is it. Have a great weekend!

Amy

Today

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Today I have to find a woman and I have to pray for her.

I’ve seen her at Target many times, her neck twisted at an awkward angle, immobile. Day in and day out she works, standing behind a cash register. I’ve seen her and my heart breaks.

But not enough to follow the voice that says, “Pray for her to be healed”.

Fear. Again.

It isn’t that God hasn’t given me the courage, He has. But fear is easier.

I can choose to walk in faith and obedience or fear and unbelief. I say that, “He is with me”, “He is trustworthy”! But my actions are the antithesis of those statements.

I can’t control where she is today but I have prayed that I will find her. I’ve prayed that God would work on her heart ahead of time. I’ve prayed to find her away from the cash registers so as not to fluster her (yesterday in my internal struggle I accidentally entered the wrong PIN #¬†for my debit card and flustered her quite a bit). But ultimately my goal is to find her. To finally be Jesus to her the way He’s asked me to be.

I can’t heal her but I can be obedient. Today.

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