Thursday, April 18, 2013

God winks

I know I've referred to this before, but I heard someone use the phrase 'God winks' to describe how God uses coincidence to answer prayer and work in your life.  I loved it.  We have seen many God winks as we have been praying through this decision to move, so I decided to write them down.

I'm so thankful that God is threaded into our marriage, because we were able to place this decision in His hands.  Praying that if this is a good decision for our family, that doors would open and the transition would go smoothly.  Praying that if we are supposed to stay here, that doors would close and God would make it obvious that this isn't His plan for us.  We agreed that if at any point we felt like God was closing doors, we would no longer press forward with plans to move... and if God was opening doors, we would cling to our faith and trust that He has plans for us down there.  Proverbs 3:5 says, "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."

We knew we needed to be near Los Angeles (so Adam could commute to work), but weren't super familiar with the area.  A good friend of ours grew up in a place called Santa Clarita (about 45 minutes north of Los Angeles), and was telling us how much he loved it.  We decided to visit last May and I was pleasantly surprised with how beautiful the area was.  Small enough to have that home-town feel, but big enough that it has all of our favorite restaurants, stores, pools, an enormous mall, and a lake within 15 minutes.  Santa Clarita also has some of the highest rated schools in all of California.  We kept hearing and reading so many great things, most of all, that it's an ideal place for families to raise their kids.

In October, once our plans started growing a little more serious, we flew there again.  This time, with the goal of checking out a few different churches.  We were excited to find that we both really liked the first one we went to.  (Actually, we had a family vote after attending two churches and it was unanimous. :)   We met the pastor and his wife, who were adoptive parents, so there was an immediate connection.  We told them our story and they prayed for us.  The pastor then introduced us to his sister, whose family had moved here from across the country to help plant the church (did I mention they had also adopted internationally?)  As if that wasn't enough, once we were in the car, Jacob told us that there was a little boy he met at church who prayed for him, that he would move here.

The first big step we took was changing Adam's position bid from Seattle to Los Angeles.  This was a scary step because we had NO idea if everything would work out.  The position bids typically don't take effect for about six months though, so it was a risk we had to take.  Once the position bid was confirmed, we knew we either had to find a place to live down there or once again, be temporarily separated in two different states.

We found an amazing real estate agent who truly went above and beyond to help us.  The only problem was, houses are hard to come by down there.  Once they go on the market, they are typically gone the same day... with several offers often above asking price.  We also found out that they usually don't even acknowledge VA offers, simply because they don't need to.  So our best bet was to either rent or find a new build.  With the interest rates as low as they are, Adam really wanted to move in the direction of buying a house. He figured not only was it a good investment, but it might be the only time we can actually afford a new build in Southern California.  We were approved for a loan, found a reputable builder in a great neighborhood, and were placed on a waiting list.  The way it works is they have "releases", where you show up at their office with other families and they present the houses that are being released.  From there, families (starting with whoever has been on the waiting list the longest) either choose one of the houses or make the decision to defer and wait for the next set of houses.  It is a really stressful process because for some reason, they won't tell you where you are on the list... so you have no idea if you have a chance at a house until the actual release.

We were trying to time the release so the house would be finished before Adam's position bid takes effect (August 1st)... also, preferably sometime after school ends here and before school starts there??  Is that too much to ask, God??  Yikes!  We were supposed to attend a release together last month, but it ended up getting delayed and I had to go down by myself (since it was re-scheduled to a weekend when Adam had to work).  I was so nervous and scared, but cherished the time I got to spend with God about it since I was there on my own.  Even though the timing of this release would be ideal, above anything, I just wanted to give it to God.  The next morning, I walked into the office and nervously waited.  I'm not one to make the first move when it comes to meeting people, but I convinced myself I needed to.  After all, these people could be our neighbors!  Nearby, I saw a mom with two little kids talking to her husband, so I introduced myself.  She said that they had moved here from out-of-state a few years ago and decided to buy a house because they loved the area.   As we were talking, the woman in charge started explaining how the release was going to work.  She would start with the person who was highest on the list, they would choose a house, and so on, until all four houses were taken.  They happened to call the name of the family I was talking to first, who looked shocked and relieved at the same time!  Then, to my surprise, they called our name next! We were able to choose the house we were hoping for (mostly because it was the least expensive :).  So the mom I was talking to IS going to be my neighbor... and she is a stay-at-home mom too!  When I told Adam everything that had happened, he quietly told me that he had been praying often and specifically that I would meet a friend down there.  God is good.

Did I mention that during all of this, we found a website where we could rent our house to a family in the military?  Unfortunately, I didn't feel like I could get our house ready to take pictures any time soon, but fortunately, I had to take pictures of every room in our house when we were in the process of adopting Ella... so I used those!  There were a few families who seemed interested, one of them already knew they would be moving here in July.  After lots of emails and questions, they asked us right before the release if they could rent our house for THREE years.  Since my biggest fear was paying a double mortgage for any amount of time, this was a total blessing and completely unexpected.  So a few days after going to the release, we signed a contract with them... how's that for timing??  Especially since the loan for our new house is contingent on having renters in our current house, and we needed proof of everything 30 days before closing, which is pretty much now.  God definitely seemed to be working out all the details for us!

Our house should close late May/early June, which makes Jacob's hope to finish out the school year possible, the renters will be in our house by the time we have to make our first mortgage payment, and Adam only has three weeks of reverse-commuting before he is officially based in Los Angeles.  So that is our series of "God winks" that help me to feel confident (especially on the tearful days) that God is opening the doors and that He has a plan for us.  There was one day in particular where I heard a song on the radio and I could feel God speaking to me through it.  I had heard this song several times before, but it was as if God was saying stop... and listen.  Then it came on again while I was at Zumba... and again later that day!  The lyrics have gotten me every time since.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


 More than anything, we really want our kids to understand the true meaning of Easter.  When asked what Easter is all about, I don't want them to say candy or Easter egg hunts or the Easter bunny.  We still sprinkle a few of these things into our day...  I just want the focus to be on Jesus, talking about His incredible sacrifice, and celebrating the joy of His resurrection!  Our MOPS group made resurrection eggs, which I have always wanted to make, so I was really excited!  Starting twelve days before Easter, there is a plastic egg with something inside that tells part of the Easter story.  I truly underestimated how much they would love and look forward to this each night.  I can't wait to continue this tradition in the years to come!  We also took Jacob and Gavin to the Good Friday service at our church.  There were stations, each one with props that told part of the Easter story (many were the same props that were inside our Easter eggs!)  Adam sat down with Gavin and I sat with Jacob as we talked about each station and prayed with them.  Then there was a team leading worship and communion.  It was such a meaningful night!

On Easter morning, the kiddos woke up to baskets and the Old/New Testament Brick Bible (Bible stories with pictures in legos!) for them to share.  

 Ella was in awe

 Checking out their new book!

 Helping mommy bake cinnamon rolls!  Mmmmmm!
 I think I see some eggs hidden out there??
 Gearing up for the hunt!

 And they're off!!!
 I found one!

Ella carefully and patiently picked up a few eggs... 

 ...then sprawled out to see what treasures she found!
 Casey spotted the golden egg (after Daddy gave him LOTS of hints!)
 He wasn't about to let his brothers try to take it either!
 A squinty cheese!  Thankful for the beautiful day!!
 Then we went to church!
 There was an Easter egg hunt there too.  :)

 Happy Easter!!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

This is what happens...

...when Mommy is away and Daddy "forgets" to put Ella down for a nap ;)

Coloring Eggs!

Ready to dye some eggs!!
 Doesn't she look like she is just paying such close attention to detail?  ;)
 Daddy helping Casey

Jacob and Gavin were totally on their own!


Ella had her own method.  Dye the eggs... then color them some more!

Gavin was super proud of his swirly egg
 The thing I loved most about this year was that Jacob and Gavin just started writing things on their eggs all on their own...
Gavin wrote family
 Jacob wrote Jesus
And of course, there was Kirby!

 Ella loved the hard-boiled egg!
(There is definitely a correlation between who likes scrambled eggs and who likes hard-boiled eggs in our family!)
 She also thought it was super fun to peel it.  :)
  Our masterpieces
And an Easter treat!