Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bloom Where Planted

 It has been six months since moving into our new home. Almost exactly one year ago, I was packing up a house with three littles while fighting morning sickness and single parenting, preparing to move into the unknown.  Is it possible to fit an entire lifetime into one year?

All our earthly goods - one year ago!
July 4, 2016

July 4, 2017
Since moving into our home here, we have become a family of six.  Talk about transitions! I keep waiting to arrive at that elusive "settled" status, and the truth is, it's just different.  I think I was under the impression that once we got the house organized, and went through the process of adding a new family member, life would return to the way I knew it in Iowa.  But living here is not the same as it was there.  Nate's job is different.  The people here are different.  We are different since moving here. I am still adjusting to the reality that I can never go back to "the way things were."

We have each enjoyed celebrating a birthday in our new house. We have enjoyed visits from friends "back home" and had the chance to welcome family here too.
5 Generations with Great Grandma Schwalm!
We have enjoyed exploring the local parks, and the zoo!  Summer has been good to us, and we have had the joy of spending lots of time outside. Probably the biggest adjustment for my country loving heart has been the major downsizing of green space. I miss the quiet, and the wildlife. Parks have been a welcome respite for me!

Olivia, 6 (going on 16)
Levi, 4
Daddy and Isaiah (and also a photobomber), 3 Months
Peaches (A.K.A. Julia), 2
One of the highlights of the Summer for us so far has been the chance to take the kids to their first Major League baseball game.  Going to any kind of baseball game is fun, and they had very high expectations! But Miller Park did not disappoint.  They had a blast!  And made lots of special memories.

We had great seats! The kids loved the view.
Almost exactly 10 years after attending our first Cubs game together - and more in love than ever!

Although our transition here has been bumpy at times, I really am so grateful for the life God has given us.  We have a beautiful house that we're making into a home, and wonderful people around us that we've had the pleasant blessing of building relationships with.

We've certainly put the fancy kitchen through it's paces!

Taking Daddy Mini-golfing for his birthday!
God has given me lots of grace as I've stumbled my way through these past 6 months, and I am thankful as he continues to sustain me - and remind me that although I'd like to think this was our idea, He is the one who brought us here. For his purposes, and for his glory.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Children's Hour

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
That is known as the Children's Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Julia, and laughing Olivia,
And Levi with golden hair.

A whisper, then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up my turret
O'er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O brown-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you at all!

I have you fast in my fortress, 
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there I will keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And molder in dust away!

<3      <3     <3

From: "The Children's Hour" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
(lightly edited)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Our New Home!

It has been the craziest two months of my life, but I feel like we are finally getting settled into our new home!  I have been just itching to share it with all of you, but alas, this post just kept getting pushed to the back burner.  We have had just a few other things going on in the meantime, like say, having a new baby . . . so you know, priorities!  ;)  I am so excited to finally share a few details with you all!


Moving day was a huge success, thanks largely in part to our wonderful new Classical Conversations community here. Nate's parents came out for the day, and my sweet Mother-In-Love even brought us dinner.  My parents also got in on the action - with Dad coming up for the day to help move furniture, and Mom coming after the chaos died down to bring our kids to us!

The day could not have gone more smoothly, and we know it is in answer to the many prayers lifted up on our behalf!  We had a few minor glitches with furniture initially: our queen sized box spring would not fit up the stairs to our room, so we ended up just sleeping on the floor with our mattress until our "foldable box spring" (yes, really!) arrived.  We purchased new bunk beds for the kids, but when we put the girl's together, there was a hole punched in one of the headboards.  Again - more waiting until the new headboard could be shipped.  It was kind of fun just to "camp out" in the new house though! We were scrambling to get as much unpacked and put away as we could before the new baby arrived, since we had T-minus 6 weeks from closing until my due date.  I was relying heavily on Nate to carry boxes around, and help get furniture into place, etc, as I really couldn't do a whole lot at that stage in the pregnancy.  Two weeks after we moved in, he fell down the stairs, and broke his tailbone!  Really, I cannot make this stuff up.  While at the time, we were dismayed, now it really does seem funny.  He is fully recovered, and we are still so grateful that the outcome wasn't worse (he was holding a drill when he fell!!).

While we are still adjusting to the area, I at least no longer need the GPS to get to a grocery store!  :-P   We have missed our friends from "home" tremendously, but we are grateful to have forged fast friendships here already.  We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is where God has placed us - that he had planned before the foundation of the world to put us here - now, for such a time as this.  We are taking comfort in that on the hard days, when homesickness beckons, or when the new reality can feel harsh.  We are encouraged by the church we have been attending, and prayerfully considering making it our home.  We have already met several of our neighbors, and we are praying that God will use us to minister to them, and that we can be a testimony of the Gospel!  The days are s l o w l y getting warmer, and we are looking forward to exploring more as a family.  Thank you all again for your prayers!  For those of you who have sent text messages, emails, and general "hugs", what a beautiful, tangible example of God's love you have been to me!

And now, for the much anticipated house tour!  I have battled with the computer for weeks to try to get pictures uploaded, and it does not play nicely with my camera.  So, I ended up resorting to a video tour instead.  Hopefully as we get more settled, there will be more updated photos to come, but in the meantime, enjoy "walking through" the house!

Grace and Peace,

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

At Journey's End

It's been a long journey, but at last, we've reached the destination.  When the last home fell through shortly before Thanksgiving, our realtor actually quit.  We really struggled with what to do next.  After a lot of prayer and discussion, we decided together that if we couldn't find a home to purchase before the end of the year, we would try to find a place to rent.  Our family had been separated for too long.  Even finding a rental was not for the faint of heart!  With a 70 lb. dog, and four kids to think of housing, our prospects seemed thin.  Now, after a long, arduous search for a new home, we have finally found a place to call our own!

The fourth home that had fallen through (refer here for reference) actually came back on the market several weeks later. It was the house we had liked best out of all we had seen in this price range - really, we were amazed that a house this good was even within our reach!  We both received an email with the same house under a "new listing" for $5K more than what it had been listed at the first time.  When Nate noticed it back on the market, he called me from work that morning, and asked "should we try again and make another offer?"  I had still not seen the house in person, but I knew how much Nate loved it and he felt like it would be perfect for us.  We decided to go for it! 

Christmas Eve, after waiting nearly 24 hours to hear whether our offer had been accepted, we got a phone call that yes, the homeowners had accepted our offer to purchase!  Needless to say, we had a very happy Christmas present.  :)

We hesitated to make an announcement too early this time - after the many homes that had fallen through, but we remained cautiously optimistic.  At this point, I think it is safe to get excited.  :)  We are scheduled to close on this home, Lord willing, on February 3rd! 

While we have compassion for the previous buyer whose financing fell through, we are grateful that so many of the steps have already been completed for us.  The home inspection had showed an issue with one of the walls in the basement (although minor) and the sellers had already gone through the motions of having it completely repaired!  We elected to follow through with our own home inspection, and the inspector just kept walking through the house saying "this is such a nice house!  I'm really happy for you guys - this is so nice!". 

There are certainly many other things about this home that just thrill me to think about: it has a fenced in backyard, and the sellers decided to leave behind their wooden play set, which makes me so excited for my kids!  The kitchen is completely remodeled, and beautiful besides (for someone who loves to cook, I am eager to make it my own!).  The layout of the upstairs is absolutely ideal for a playroom/homeschool space, which will make this home practical for us for many years.  The house has much of the original woodwork and hardwood floors, stained glass as well as leaded glass windows, a built in buffet that is original to the home, and other little "touches" that add so much character and charm.  The largest surprise for me is the location of the home.  It is really smack in the middle of the city, which will be a huge adjustment for my suburb/country heart.  Even our home in Cedar Rapids, though located centrally in the city, had a very unique location just across the street from a creek, and close to 100 acres of wooded land.  We really were spoiled with the best of both worlds - deer in our yard (a blessing and a curse?) and the ability to walk with the kids with little traffic and quiet conditions, while still being 5-10 minutes from everything.

This weekend will be a big one for us - we plan to move our belongings from the storage unit into the house.  After so many months, I honestly can't remember half of what I packed where . . . so hopefully moving things into the house will go smoothly.  We have been so grateful for the kindness we have already been shown by our new community.  We have had offers of meals, and even help with moving!

While we are overjoyed to be together as a family again, we are also trying to be realistic about the fact that we have been separated for so long, that coming together again may be a hard transition.  We would ask you to come alongside us and pray for wisdom, grace, and patience as we bear with one another in love, and seek to glorify Christ in our marriage, and our role as parents.

Our children have been remarkably resilient throughout this journey - with the uncertainty of the future, having to say "goodbye" to Daddy every Sunday afternoon, and sometimes going two weeks before seeing him again, the long drives back and forth to Milwaukee, and navigating the tricky boundaries of living in their "sort-of" home.  Please pray with us that they will transition well into their new home and routine.

Certainly one of the largest concerns we had with moving to a new area is finding a new church home.  While we have a few in mind to visit, we would ask for you to pray with us for God's direction and wisdom in becoming part of the church body he has ordained for us.

While Nate has not been living locally, he is at least vaguely familiar with the area from working there the past 7 months.  We will still have a lot of "settling" in to do!  With our baby coming only about 6 weeks from now (give or take, ha!), there are lots of other considerations as we adjust to the area. Selecting new doctors, finding our way around a new hospital for the birth, locating grocery stores, etc.  The first few weeks will be challenging, but exciting! 

By default, my personality type does not handle chaos in my home well.  I thrive on routine and order, and struggle to choose joy and gratitude in the midst of a noisy mess.  Though my midsection continues to grow and swell with new life, my energy and physical abilities are starting to wane.  I want to make this next journey more about seeing and savoring Jesus in all circumstances, than about how quickly or efficiently I can organize my home.  There will be days when I get multiple boxes unpacked, and laundry put away, dinner made, and happy, contented children to tuck in to bed.  Then there will be the days when nothing gets done except the unseen, eternal work that God has called me to.  Those are the days when I want to remember that in both cases, it is His strength, and not my own ability that I need to rely on. 

We are so very thankful for the gift of this house - and we are looking forward to filling it with many happy memories.  We want it to be a place where the Gospel is proclaimed, and the love of Christ made evident to all who come through its doors.  We are filled with gratitude for the many who have prayed for us along this road, and encouraged us to trust in God's Sovereign goodness over our human sensibilities.  Nothing now remains, but to go on to the next chapter!

Grace and Peace,