Thursday, September 1, 2016

Open Hands and Letting Go

It's been 1 year and 3 months since we moved to Florida. We love living here. I especially love the year round sunshine, being near the beach, our church family and all the amazing friends we've made. I also really, really, really love our house. We have gotten much use of the guest room and the pool and all the closet space it has to offer. The location is great - close to his school and the dog park where we spend lots of our time. Close to the highway and most anything you could need. It has truly been a blessing and I'm so glad this is where we landed.

Here's something I didn't plan on though - putting the house up for sale less than 2 years into living here. But that's exactly what I'm doing. Why? Because sometimes God asks us to open our hands and let go of things, gently and lovingly reminding us that we need to trust Him and that He has a good plan. For me, I feel like that good plan is selling this house and paying off all of my debt and getting into a rental condo or house (will see what we find) and getting out from under the financial burden of owning a house. Sure owning a home can be a great investment but when something breaks like our AC did 3 months in or when you know the roof will need to be replaced in 2-3 years, and you just find yourself in over your head financially because you have debt and no savings toward those repairs, it's a good reminder that this so called American dream isn't really all it's cracked up to be. If you have savings and you can cover those kinds of things, great. But if you're like me and you don't - well I'm just in the place where quite frankly the stress of it all is not worth it. Because at the end of the day, we don't need to live here to be happy. We love this house but it's just a house. God will provide us a place to live. And if I can sell my house and make enough to pay off all my debt after owning it for only just over a year - sweet.  And oh the freedom that will come with that will be more than worth it. Being in this place financially is causing a lot of stress and that overflows into life at home too which isn't fair to my kiddo. Plus it limits us from what we can go do and I'm all about adventures with my boy. A few months ago our mortgage went up almost $200 a month. It's a fixed rate loan but the taxes and insurance are built into the escrow and the taxes had been estimated really, really badly for year 1 and when the actual tax bill hit my escrow, it wasn't enough so the escrow went in the negative so I have to catch that up plus you have to have a surplus too so thus the huge increase and so I'm paying almost $200 a month to catch up for that first year. Anyway, all that to say, it's been tighter than usual since that happened. And ever since my AC died, the hot water heater died, the pool timer broke, paying for lawn care and pool chemicals and utilities being way higher than I expected plus $1000 in van repairs last month too. It's just tighter than I planned on, especially with the increase monthly. So... this is what led to me to try and come up with ideas to bring in some extra funds. It was a fun idea to do airbnb and I actually have it rented out this weekend for 2 nights and have gotten a ton of interest - it's a sweet way to make a good amount amount in a short amount of time. But as I prayed and prayed about it all, I really just heard so loudly and so clearly from the Lord that I needed to sell the house.

I am sad, don't get me wrong. I've had a few cry fests honestly. I really love this house. But I hear God saying "do you trust me?" and asking me to let go. I'm sure I will cry a few more times. But at the same time, I am excited to see what He has next for us. We've gotten connected lately with some new friends who live in a condo development nearby and a lot of the condo owners rent them out. We're hoping we could get in there or the condo's right next to those. Mihretu has already made a bunch of friends who live over there. They have a ton of families with young kids too. If a place opens up to live over that way in our price range for rent, there's a really nice community pool and clubhouse, a playground, a workout room even and they do allow dogs too. I won't have to pay for or do yard work (oh how I hate yard work), or pool maintenance, or have the responsible of paying to fix things when they break. That sounds so lovely. As does just not being so financially burdened. It's a lot more expensive to live here than I was prepared for. So while I didn't expect to move out of this house this soon, the plan has changed. And I'm embracing the new plan.

Why am I sharing all of this with you in a blog? Because I just want to be real. I think sometimes our lives look so perfect and polished on facebook and we feel like we can't be honest. You've probably already figured out by now that that's not how I roll. I hope to be real and hopefully in doing so, an encouragement to others who may have to give up something they love or make a hard decision or whatever it may be. I was trying to come up with all kinds of alternatives to not selling this lovely home - like listing it on airbnb. Not a bad idea at all but at the end of the day, I just had to put all my ideas aside and ask the Lord what He wanted me to do. And when I got in my prayer closet and just listened, I heard very clearly that I was to sell this house and let go. And that God would have good plans for us. And that we needed to trust Him. I continued to pray about it for several days just to make sure I heard right. Peace came in that decision and I know that this is what He's leading me to do. When I know God is telling me something, I go for it. I signed all the contracts a few days ago, have photos scheduled this week and have been rearranging, cleaning and "staging" it to get ready. Once the airbnb renters leave on labor day monday, I'll come home and clean and we'll list it the next day. I'm praying the Lord would send the right buyers that first week and that this home would be a blessing to whoever buys it, just like it has been to us. We've certainly loved it well and taken full advantage of all of its potential this past 1 year and 3 months. I'm sure there are things I will miss. I'm sure I will sob like a baby a few more times but I'm also sure that God is good and that we will do great wherever we end up too. And maybe, just maybe, He will have some new blessings waiting for us there that we didn't have here. Like lots of kids to play with for my little man. And possibly even some new friendships that a year from now I'll look back and think "I can't believe I didn't know this friend 1 year ago." I don't know all that God has in store. But I am excited to see.

Is there anything in your life that God is asking you to lay down? It may be hard but if He's asking you to do so, there is surely a good reason. In our obedience, we not only can walk in peace and the comfort of knowing He is faithful - we are oftentimes freed up from a lot of stress and burden we were carrying around unnecessarily in the first place. If that's speaking to any of you right now, seek Him and I encourage you to keep your hands open. Don't be afraid to let Him take some things you love. He can be trusted with all things.

LOVE our Ethiopian family

We just returned from Ethiopia and oh boy - my heart is completely wrecked. Mihretu and I traveled on our own last March (2018) over his ...