Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Laying It All Out There ...

I have been writing this post in my head for weeks now. I have been struggling with how much to put out there and how. I so do not want to create high drama and become a downer blog, but I feel that sharing is necessary in order to - as my sweet Frannie suggests - keep it real. I want to be REAL and I want to show how REAL my God is. How He cares and provides through it all.

So, I am just gonna start typing and not look back. I am telling ya now - there WILL be typos! So, ya know, try not to judge ...

Three years ago in April, Hubbs and I (and Hattie Grace) moved up here to the frozen tundra from AZ. It was a move that we felt completely called by God to make. He had placed every single piece in succession to show us the way. We obediently followed Him on this new adventure. Hubbs found a job quite quickly - a true miracle in this state's economy! And we found a beautiful home that we felt was our dream home! The only draw back was the fact that the job was a temp position adn due to be outsourced. So, 3 months after buying the house, when he was offered a position that was not only permanent, but also closer to home and offering benefits, we took it happily. He was promised opportunities to advance and pay increases on a regular basis. We eventually realized that those were not promises that were going to be kept. PROBLEM NO.1...

In the winter of that year, we entered into an online business opportunity. We liked the products and LOVE the people involved and figured it couldn't hurt. PROBLEM NO.2 ...

THe next spring we felt the call to add to our family - we wanted Hattie to have a sibling as she grew up and felt that the time had come to start the adoption process. We figured we would be on a waiting list for at least a year and then have a few months after that to prepare for baby. We though we would have plenty of time to save up for the adoption costs. PROBLEM NO.3 (the money, not AT ALL the baby!!!)

It seems, in a business you have to SPEND money to make money. We only got the first part of that equation going ... money was going out at a much higher rate than it was coming in. And that aint good! We continued to try to make it work and we kept sinking further into debt. We should have slowed down, but we didn't. We didn't want to fail and we didn't want to let anyone down. LESSON LEARNED ... the hard way.

And, it seems that God had a much faster timeline in mind with our Sophie Bug. We never even made it to a waiting list before we were chosen by our birthmom. Plus, Sophie is a twin, so the medical stuff was amplified, leaving Kim unable to work during the pregnancy so the "pass through" fees (pregnancy related costs, paid by adoptive parents) were much higher than anticipated. Add to all of this the fact that the agency is paid in CASH, so our day to day expenses found their ways to our credit cards. Not to mention the gas costs of driving over 120 miles twice a week for Dr visits and the babysitters to watch Hattie while I did! Now, I want to be sure that you realize that this is one part of the story that we would not trade for anything in the world! Sophie is worth everything that it took to get her into our home - she is the PERFECT child for our little family!

Last January - one year ago - we decided to purchase a new car for Hubby. Now, this was not a spur of the moment, willy-nilly, flying by the seat of our pants decision. We researched our choices, looking for something economical, fuel efficient and safe. His old car was literally falling apart. It had close to 200,000 miles on it and had been sporting the "Check Engine" signal for about 90,000 of them. The air did not work and the heat had only one setting - SAUNA! I watched him leave every mornign afraid of where and when he would break down. Now, we had been gifted some money that we had pigeon holed for the car. We could have bought a used car for the amount that we had, but chose to buy new instead. We wanted to be sure that we would not have to buy again for quite a while, so we financed a portion of the car. At the time, we were still good. Our credit scores were still high enough to get us a great rate, so we figured it would not be a problem.

Not long after that we began to sink. The debts began to snowball, the business REALLY began to cost us each month and, well, we ALL know what happened to gas prices! Steve has a pretty good drive to work, so that was not an easy adjustment to make.

By fall we were struggling - REALLY struggling. Going backward in fact. And in November we learned that Hubb's hours an dpay were going to be cut. Drastically! He went from working over 50 hours per week to no more than 32. At that point, we were done. We jsut could not keep going.

On top of everything else, this country - as a whole - is in financial distress, which leads to panic, rising costs of everyday items and lack of opportunity for new employment. Put these factors all together and you come to where we are today.

We have chosen - I say chosen, like it was a choice! - to walk away from our home. We tried negotiating with the mortgage companies to get a short sale or some kind of deal. However, every time we tried to talk to anyone there we would get a different story and no real answers. We simply cannot make our payments right now, so we are just going to walk away. We have to make decisions so that we can do what is best for our family. We have to keep food on the table and clothes on two growing girls little bodies and those needs are much more important than the house we do it in. So, we are looking for a new home. We have found that we can rent a home for the same cost of renting an apartment. We have even found a home that we love that is a lease with option to buy. They know our history and where we are and have accepted our application. The catch is that they do not want the house vacant until April and we cannot move until April. SO, they are going to keep the house listed and if they find someone who can take it sooner we will be out of luck. HOWEVER, if it is still empty come March, we will get the house. It is a sweet 1920's colonial with much of that old charm - built ins and wood floors. It does need some work, but we are not afraid of that. Structurally it seems sound. The good thing about being able to lease for a year or two is that we will have a pretty good idea of what all it needs and if we can do all of it. We are just waiting to see what God has in store in that area. We are trusting HIM and HIM alone!!!

ANd that leads me to this - our most fervent prayer in all of this is that we want God to be glorified. Not just at the end of this road, when we are back on our feet, but with every step in between. He is our constant source of strength and provision. He will get us through this and we want to live this journey out for all of the world to see. We have really struggled with justifying walking away from our home and filing bankruptcy against our faith, but God has been faithful in this area as well. He has shown us that we can still pay our debtors back, but in our time and on our schedule without all of the deadlines and interest rates weighing us down. He has shown us that we can take the forgiveness of these debts and pay it forward by getting back to some of the ministries we have had to stop supporting and by being able to give to our community and to our church body the way we have not been able to lately. He has shown us that we can move on from here and end up in a much better place for our family. He has provided grace and mercy and HOPE! We are truly humbled by the way that our fRamily has reached out to help us and support us in prayer. We are on our face in thankfulness on a daily basis.

And THIS is the part of the journey I want to live out loud. We want to show the ways He has blessed us, is Blessing us and will continue to Bless us on a daily basis to the world. Let this be our mission field and let us help to support others in this position in the future.

I hope that this all makes sense. I am not even gonna go back and proof read, because I don't want to be tempted to change or delete ANYTHING! Please pray for our family, especially the girls, as we make and adjust to all of the changes ahead. I know we will be fine - we have each other, our fRamily and our GOD, what else do we need?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Her Sweet Face

So, Hattie is not a fan of having her picture taken. And by "not a fan" I mean she will do anything in her power to avoid it at all costs. That being said, we have long since given up on taking her to a portrait studio - it is just not money well spent. Instead, we have become experts in the sneaky, ninja-like approach, method of photography.

Last spring, we took a day off of school to our advantage and headed to the beach. I needed some pics of the girls for Father's Day gifts I was working on, and I figured the warm day and sunshine would be an excellent canvas.

This particular picture was taken from afar with a telephoto lens. Hattie loves three things - wind on her face, movement and mud. This is a picture of her enjoying all three - she was swinging (movement and wind) while splashing in a ginormous mud puddle beneath the swing. I could not recreate the pure joy and contentment on her face if I tried.

Can I just say that I love being this girl's mommy - it is a challenge at times and not at all what I expected, but she seriously ROCKS MY WORLD and I would not trade her for the world!

Be sure to stop by the I <3 Faces sight for more fun face pics!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Project 365 - Week 3

Project 365
Welcome back to Project 365! Have I mentioned that I am LOVING this?!?! Well, I am - sooo much! And I think it is gonna be great to look back at our year this way. In fact, I have been thinking that it would be fun to make a book of the pics in order, with the stories of each, for the girls to have when they get older - one for each of them. And I may even keep doing it for years to come ... Yeah, ask me again in July, right?

Well, here is our week:

Jan. 12 - We are looking for a new place to live (long story and one that I have been trying to write for a few weeks now ... it is coming, I promise!). This is the house we fell in love with on Monday ... at least I did! It is a 1920's farm house with quite a few updates, but still all of the old charm. THIS is a shot of the front entry hall - toille fabric on the wall ... this is the room that sealed the deal for me! We are just waiting to see if we get it!

Jan. 13 - this is what my house looked like at the end of this day ... and truthfully, I was so happy for the day to be done, that I just left it this way ... Shhhh, don't tell my mom!

Jan. 14 - Double Blessings: I needed a pick me up, it had been an emotional day. Within 15 minutes time, I found a bag of popcorn in the pantry and a post, by my PBFF Beth Moore, on her blog that was soooooo encouraging and uplifting! I LOVE that girl!

Jan. 15 - It was COLD y'all ... I had hoped for a snow day, but no such luck. I tried to get ya a picture of my little eskimo getting on the bus. However, it was SO COLD that my camera would not work outside. I had to run in and get the shot from the window as the bus was driving away. Didn't even have time to open the shades!!!

Jan. 16 - NO SCHOOL!!! And, of course, that means, PAJAMA DAY!!!! And, this is what happens when you put a certain fave movie of mine in the DVD player (Mamma Mia!!!) - little girls, and a big girl too, all start to DANCE!!!
Honey! Honey!!!

Jan. 17 - Hubbs surprised me with some Chinese food! He certainly knows the way to this girl's heart!!!

Jan. 18 - One of the moments that I live for - snuggle time on the couch with my man! Soph was napping and Hattie was playing happily by herself, so Hubby and I got a few moments in. Sadly, he caught Sophie's bug, so kissing was out, just snuggling!
Ah well, gotta take what I can get, ya know?!?!?!
So, how was YOUR week?!