Thursday, October 9, 2014

Home Sweet Home

When I moved to Idaho nearly ten years ago for college, I never would’ve thought then that I’d find my dream home here. I came here for an adventure, and what an adventure it’s been!

And although it wasn’t the adventure I imagined--marrying an Idaho boy and leaving behind my home and family to make a life here--I know it’s exactly what God had in mind. My life here so far has tested me and brought me times of both pain and unimaginable joy. There were also times I wasn’t sure if it was worth it, but I see now that what I’ve gained is much greater than what I’ve given up. That’s always God’s way.

So here we are, and we’re here to stay...and we’re very happy! We feel extremely blessed to have a home of our own. Things have fallen into place over the last year in a way that’s nothing short of miraculous.



Update on Caleb

As you already know, we welcomed our miracle baby, Caleb, into our family last November--almost a year ago. He’s the healthiest, handsomest, smartest, most amazing little boy anyone could dream of (that’s the absolute truth, no bias here)! He’s a constant source of joy to us, and we love watching him grow. If you’ve been following the blog over the last year, you’ve been watching him grow, too!

Update on Ben

Also, Ben is now working in a job that he loves, where he helps manage medications for patients in assisting living or nursing homes. This opportunity practically fell into our laps after Ben had looked everywhere from Alaska to South Carolina for a better start in his pharmacy career.

He’d been working a hectic schedule as a floating (fill-in) pharmacist at a grocery chain here in Boise for about a year. And even though we were very grateful for that job, especially when so many of his classmates had struggled to find work anywhere, much less in Idaho where they were licensed, it wasn’t what Ben wanted to be doing long-term.

His current job is exactly what he’d had in mind all through pharmacy school--his “dream job.” I know we don’t always receive such direct answers to prayers, but this one absolutely was.

We’d been feeling like we were supposed to stay in Boise, but after months of searching, we weren’t finding any real job opportunities here (or anywhere in the state, for that matter). Ben even put in hours of studying to retake his exams, then traveled across the country to interview and earn his license in two additional states. We figured if we knocked on as many doors as we could, God would open the right ones. And, of course, He did!

After Ben met a fellow alum of his pharmacy school at an alumni event--only through Providence, as we were halfway out the door with a cranky, tired baby--Ben kept in touch with him. One day Ben stopped in to visit him at the private pharmacy he owned, and the man offered him a job a couple weeks later, saying he knew from the start that Ben was the kind of person he wanted to have working for him. Smart man! And, like I said, it was a direct answer to prayer. 

Update on Me

I’ve got my “dream job,” too, and the truth is, life is better right now than I ever imagined it could be. But I know there will still be hard times and struggles--maybe even worse than I can imagine. Life has its good times and bad times, and so right now I’m just trying to soak up every moment of bliss.

About the House

And this is where life gets really fun. After Ben started his new job in June, we knew we’d be staying in Boise for at least a few years, and since we’d been saving for a house for quite a while already, we started house hunting. We didn’t think we’d find a house so soon, but as soon as we walked into this place (in fact, even before then, when I saw it online), I felt a distinct warmth and familiarity...it immediately felt like "home."

In spite of this, we ruled it out at first, because it was more than what we were looking for. But we couldn’t stop thinking about it, so after a few sleepless nights and many prayers, we decided to make an offer. Negotiating came with a surprising amount of stress and uncertainty. Once they accepted our offer, though, everything fell into place. It wasn’t effortless--the process was a lot of work--but we found an exceptional lender (thanks, Lisa!), who gave us an unmatched rate on a 15-year mortgage because of our good credit, plus they were able to close within 30 days and saved us several thousand dollars in closing costs. Amazing!

So, miraculously, we ended up with about the same mortgage and closing costs that we’d planned on, only we ended up with more “house” for our money. We can’t take any credit for that--we owe it all to God! He must’ve meant for us to be in this house, in this place, in this neighborhood at this time.

The house is a little over 20 years old, but it’s in almost perfect condition, thanks to the original owners, which is what really appealed to Ben. This is the man who, at age 30, has kept all of his Lego sets perfectly preserved from the very first time he built them as a kid (“Lord Business,” as he likes to refer to himself now, has never taken them apart and never plans to...if that name doesn’t make sense to you, go watch The Lego Movie). But yes, Ben can be particular, and he appreciates when things are kept nice, so this was the first house that Ben was actually impressed and not disappointed with in some way.

I was impressed, too, of course, although there’s nothing about this house that’s designed solely to be impressive. There’s nothing showy about it--no crown molding or granite or stainless steel or trendy tiling--and I wasn’t interested in any of that, anyway. It’s just comfortable. It’s just what a home should be--a safe haven for my family, a place that’s welcoming to others, and just roomy enough to accommodate visitors. And since we’re on the other side of the country from our furthest loved ones, and still several hours from our nearest ones (with the exception of Christie & Co.), that’s very important to us.

Solid wood, hand-carved door...I wish I knew the story behind it.

The porch (taken before we bought the house)

We have our own white wooden swing here now, as well as matching rockers on the porch. One day we'll sit here and watch Caleb play basketball or ride his bike in the cul-de-sac.

A lot of empty space right now...2100 square feet of it...4 bedrooms, 2 that have nothing in them yet, and 2 1/2 baths
We used camping chairs and a folding table as furniture for a few weeks. The laundry/mud room is off the kitchen where the fridge is (leading to the garage), and the family room is behind whoever took the picture. Also, the half-bath is off a little hallway to the left, and the pantry is across from the island. The cabinets are in good shape, but the finish is getting worn in places, so eventually we'll refinish these in a more neutral tone.
Here are the stairs. And Ben's backside. Ow-ow.
The master bath (taken before we bought the house)
The deck off the master bedroom
There's a road behind that fence, so that's the downside. We don't love the sound of cars and the occasional siren going by, but it still feels private, thanks to the trees and fence.

The other half of the backyard...and Ben looking hot on that work call

More of Ben's backside, I mean, the backyard...

Room to play!

Our own piece of heaven

Caleb approves!

Just because I love this photo

So while we were originally looking for more of a 5-year starter home, we ended up in our 10-15 year raise-a-family home...maybe even our stay-forever home, although our next dream is to own a little property in the country somewhere. Anyway, I guess since we’ve been living in apartments for most of our 6 years together, we kind of skipped the “5-year starter home.”

It’s what my dad would refer to as an “embarrassment of riches”...in other words, I feel so blessed, I’m a little embarrassed about it. Ok, so that’s actually a phrase used to mock opulence, but I like the way my dad uses it. I know some people see marriage, a house and a family as a package deal that comes with life, and if that’s all you look to get out of life, you’ve somehow settled. But there are no guarantees in life, and how many people live without love, without family, without a real home, and without even basic things like safety and freedom? I thank God for everything that I have, and I try to never take it for granted.

I’ve seen again and again that God has a plan for every one of His children. He is constantly blessing us in ways to help us fulfill His purposes for us. Sometimes those blessings bring happiness and sometimes they bring sorrow, but they always lead to gratitude and joy when we recognize God’s Hand in all of it and see how much He truly loves us. And whether we get out of life what we hope to or not--while some dreams will come true and others will be shattered--when we live with Him again, it will be as if we've only just begun to live out our truest joys and sweetest dreams. It will truly be Home Sweet Home.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Caleb: Eight Months Old

Disclaimer: I hope no one is offended by the way Caleb is holding the American Flag in any of these photos. He waved the flag with all of his might and I sang patriotic songs while I took his pictures. We both enjoyed it, and he'll be a Boy Scout Color Guard yet! (Confession: I always enjoy these photo sessions more than he does...He only looks like he's enjoying it because I pick the five photos in about a hundred in which he's actually smiling and not crying or trying to escape the camera.)