It's official. We are bonafide home owners once again. The past 10 days have been a blur of activity, excitement and work, work, work.
Last Friday night, the kids, our dog and I pulled into our driveway, van loaded down with various treasures like TP, baby wipes and rugs, and nearly tackled our realtor Kim in our excitement to get the keys. Katie, our 6 year old, took the cutest picture, from her perspective, of Miss Dittler giving me the keys. Curt met us at the house and we unpacked the first of about a bazillion loads from the van while the kids ran around screaming with excitement in the empty upstairs.
The original plan was to stay at the rental until the 29th and each day leading up to the big move, schlep stuff over in the van while Curt painted like a mad man. We scrapped the "staying in the rental" on Friday night over pizza and tore back to the rental to dig for sleeping bags, air mattresses, folding tables, and toothbrushes.
Our first night in Big Blue was really memorable. Curt set up the loft for the kids with a TV, a movie and camping chairs, and while the kids watched High School Musical 2 for the hundredth time, Curt and I worked ourselves silly schlepping loads and sealing the granite and the grout in the tile. I somehow muscled the futon mattress into the back of the van since the camping mats were nowhere to be found, and at midnight, we collapsed in a heap and tossed and turned with excitement all night. Our two-year-old, Paige, abandoned potty training weeks ago, but was put to bed in underwear by her big sister Alli, so in the first 12 hours of our occupancy, our carpet was christened with charcoal smears from the camping chairs, baby pee from Paige's accident, and dog diarrhea, from our nervous puppy who we thought would be fine sleeping one night outside of her crate. And all my cleaning supplies were at the rental house!!!!!!
We essentially ignored our kids for the next week while Curt painted and I moved the rental house over van load by van load by van load. I'd unpack the boxes, load the empties back in the van, referee fights between the kids, get Curt's list of supplies that needed to be bought, and head out for another load. We worked ourselves into the ground, but the euphoria of a new home kept us motivated and fighting through the pain of exhaustion. Curt wore holey jeans to church cause I grabbed the wrong ones from the rental, we ate way too much fast food, caved into way too many pleas for candy and gum, griped at each other on occasion and were forced into breaks to comfort kids who were crabby and resisting change, but we relished this time as a family getting to know our new home. And as the week progressed, it started to feel more familiar.
In less than a week, Curt painted the bonus room (3 coats), three kid bedrooms (some with multiple coats), the master bedroom, the family room (2 coats) and the kitchen, all done with precision and ease. He is a painting ROCK STAR! As he'd finish a room, I'd come behind him with dressers and bookshelves and stuff to fill them. By Friday night, all the kids rooms and the bonus room were set up and functional.
I had my kitchen set up by Monday, so we decided to break it in on Thanksgiving Day. We worked on Thanksgiving morning, painting and hauling stuff over, then quickly showered and started preparing a feast. We threw a 16 pound turkey (the smallest one Costco had) into our new oven, whipped up some home-made mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green beans, and some pumpkin and apple pie. When all the food was ready and the table was set, we woke Paige from her nap and Curt led our family outside for a dedication ceremony.
We each picked a rock from our lot and then Curt read the story in Joshua 4 when God parted the waters of the Jordan River at flood stage and the Israelites walked across on dry ground. God instructed Joshua to construct a rock memorial as a constant reminder of God's miraculous deliverance and provision in a seemingly impossible situation. God told Joshua, "Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever." We each placed our rock in a pile, then laid hands on our memorial and thanked God for His miraculous provision of Big Blue.
We moved to our front door and Curt read to us Isaiah 61:1-3: "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor." Curt explained to the kids that God expects us to use our home as a safe haven to welcome people, no matter their status, race, or personality. We prayed that people would find salve for their wounds and that our home would be filled with the oil of gladness. As we prayed this out-loud, Curt followed ancient Old Testament tradition and anointed the door posts of our home with oil.
We moved to the center of our home and gathered in a pile on the landing of the stairs. We are studying the book of James at church and Curt wrote out a prayer for our home, based on the book of James. Here's what he prayed, based on his notes.
"Lord, you have brought us through the trial of uncertainty, unfamiliarity, all things new and searching for a home. And we hope that through this trial, You have developed perseverance and maturity in us. We ask that the faith born out of this trial would lead to much action to advance Your kingdom. We know there will be future trials and we welcome them as a chance for You to continue to build perseverance and maturity in our lives.
You've given us wisdom when we asked and You've given us the crown of life. You have given us Big Blue, a good and perfect gift that comes from the Father of Heavenly Lights. We pray that this gift would never become an idol, taking Your place, but that it would always be a blessing to bring You praise.
LORD, we have heard and read Your word and we have tried to do what it says. We want to use this house to serve others, because we know You will always meet our needs. We pray against showing favoritism or partiality toward the rich, and we pray against envy and selfish ambition that could evolve as a result of this blessing. Help us not to hoard or go after luxury and self-indulgence, but to be generous. Show us when we fail and give us hearts to repent quickly.
LORD as we live in this house, help us keep a tight rein on our tongues. May the words we speak be sweet, fresh water that edify and build other ups and may our words always give praise to You, LORD and Father. Help us not judge our neighbors or speak evil against them in any way. We pray that our home would be pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
God, we have asked and received. You have poured out a blessing from heaven. Help us always to submit ourselves in humility to You and Your perfect plan. Help us not to boast about tomorrow and we ask that if it is Your will, that we would live long in this home. LORD, we ask that You will make Big Blue a House of Faith and that prayers of righteous men and women would be offered here. That healing would happen here. That sinners would turn from their ways and find repentance, grace and new life in our home. We give Big Blue back to You. God live here. Rest here. Reside here. We ask in Jesus' name, Amen." And then we feasted. It was beautiful.
On Saturday, a crew of guys from our house church and my mom's husband Terry, came and loaded up the UHaul (times two) with what was left in the house and the garage. Our new garage belched the contents of the UHaul into our driveway, so we tackled that project on Sunday. By bedtime on Sunday night, we managed to give away and sell a bunch of stuff on Craiglist, had the contents of the garage contained to within it's walls and finished setting up our bedroom. Today I supervised while the rental home got a thorough spa treatment and every nook and cranny got cleaned. I turned in the keys at 4 p.m. and closed that chapter of life.
Grant and Katie will catch the bus in the morning and begin their first day of school at Mabel Rush. They met their teachers today and some of the neighborhood kids over the weekend and I'm sure will do fine with yet another huge transition.
As I glance around the corner at the pile of laundry larger than Mt. Hood, I realize that we are really living in this home. Praise God from whom all blessings flow - it's official!