Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Millers Pursue the Impossible

This week has been an emotional roller coaster.  (The part about me locking my keys in the car while it was running is a story for a different time...)

We decided to start moving in the direction of purchasing our first home.  As I'm thinking about it, I'm not really sure why we started this early.  We had always agreed on and talked about doing it later in the spring, even into the summer.  The lease on our apartment isn't up until the end of October, so we've got plenty of time.  But something made us both go, "Now.  We need to do this now."  And anyone who spends any amount of time with us knows that when one of us feels like we need to do something RIGHT NOW, even if it doesn't make sense, we do it.

So we met with a mortgage broker on Monday.  Without going into too much personal detail, there may be an issue with our ability to get financing right now.  A lot of this has to do with my being self-employed, which lenders often think of as "risky," despite the fact that we think of it as "awesome."  There are other issues that could impact that, but we are working with several different folks to figure out what our options are.  So that was a bit stressful.

And then...never to be deterred, we met with a realtor on Friday.  One thing I love about Adam and I is that we talk about everything to death, but when we are ready to execute a plan, we are ready!  We looked at 6 houses in 6 hours.  It was overwhelming.  We had an ice storm the night before, so it wasn't the best conditions to be driving around and looking at homes.  Many of the homes that we are looking at have land and out buildings (which Adam mistakenly calls "outhouses"), so we basically just traipsed around outside for 6 hours.  All of the houses were nice.  They were very nice.  But they weren't for us.

Except for the fourth house.  Oh, the fourth house...

A client of mine is currently looking for a new house, and she had repeatedly said, "Houses will speak to you.  You just have to listen."  Since we've never looked at anything bigger than an apartment, I thought it was as good of advice as any.

This house almost brought me to my knees.

We walked into the kitchen from the porch and the smell hit me.  It was comforting and something that I had longed for for the last five years.  We moved into the dining room.  Adam was leading, with his back to me.  The realtor was behind me, still in the kitchen.  I kept gulping the air, just hoping that the smell wouldn't go away, trying to make it a part of me.  And then I started crying.  Sobbing.  Big, heavy, wracking sobs.  The house smelled like my grandma's old house.  Old wood.  Old house.  My grandma.

Adam turned around and was, obviously, very concerned that his wife was now crying hysterically, almost out of control crying, in this house.  I told him what was going on, and we kept looking around the house, while I cried.  I was able to finally get myself somewhat under control, but I still cried quietly through the whole house.  Our poor realtor kept looking at Adam with the shifty eyes, and Adam kept saying, "She's okay.  She likes the house.  She really likes the house."

We went downstairs into the creepy cellar basement, and our realtor (who used to be a home builder) was pointing out several features in the basement.  There are a lot of things about buying a house that probably should be important to me, but aren't.  Because, honestly, I was going to fight like hell to buy this house simply based on the fact that it smelled like my grandma's old house.  It could have been falling down around us (don't worry, it's not)--I'm not sure that I would have heard anything the realtor said.  But, anyway, back to the basement.  The realtor pointed out this weird wooden tunnel thing that came into the basement from up above--a laundry chute!  Wanna guess who used to have a laundry chute that I thought was the coolest thing ever when I was kid?  My grandma!

And did I mention that the curtains in the dining room are the same curtains that we had in our living room when I was a kid, except ours were blue and these were cream?  And the ones that we had used to belong to (you guessed it!) my grandma!

I couldn't talk to Adam until later about it, but my experience in this house caught me off guard for one major reason.  Since my grandma died three weeks ago, I've really struggled with not being able to feel her spirit.  I'm not necessarily sure that I'm entitled to that, but I think I definitely expected it the instant that she died.  And it didn't come.  And I just miss her so much sometimes, and I was so astounded to find her all over this house.  (And in the aisle of Easter supplies at the grocery store last weekend.  My apologies to the nice people around me trying to buy their groceries around the Crying Lady...)

So, right now, Adam and I are going to pursue this house until someone else takes it away from us.  It may take us up to 2 months to get the whole financing thing squared away.  The house has only been on the market for something like 25 days, so we are definitely working under a time crunch.  We are praying constantly about this.  And I mean constantly.  The kind of prayer where you finish up and start right back in again.  Please join us if you feel so inclined.  

There are so many reasons this is impossible:
 1.  As of this second, we don't have a loan.  We're not sure how long or what it will take for us to be able to get one.
2.  This is an amazing house and anyone who sees it (in our opinion) will want to snatch it up.
3.  The house is a bit pricey for us.  It's in our range, but it'll be a stretch and a sacrifice.
4.  This house is huge.  We don't know anything about owning a home.

But here's where things get cool.  NOTHING is impossible with God.  NOTHING! 

I love Matthew 21:21-22:

 So, surely, if we have the power to tell the mountains to throw themselves into the sea, we have the power to claim this house as OURS.

And so we have.  

Stay tuned...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I Think It's a Sign

We have great friends.

Friends who are always kind to ask, "What's new with the adoption?" even though they know that there is probably nothing tangible for us to report.

People who are waiting expectantly with us.  Hoping for progress.  Even though, repeatedly, nothing has visibly changed.  If I were in their shoes, I don't know that I could keep asking that question, knowing the answer.

But, I tell you, things are changing.  We are moving in a direction.

Adoption is not a sprint.  If we've learned anything, it's that.  The idea of adoption was planted in our hearts far before it even become feasible for us to do anything.  I feel like the first year after our decision to adopt was really just spent getting our hearts and brains wrapped around the idea.  But that second  The second year was amazing.  We saw things happen that we simply could not explain.  Things that stunned us, made us laugh, and made us cry at our good fortune.

A year ago, we were living paycheck to paycheck, with a substantial amount of debt, and with nothing in the savings account.  In ONE YEAR, we got rid of $25,000 worth of debt.  Some of that we were able to pay off, and some of it just disappeared.  (Either way is fine with us.)  My business doubled from the year before.  Several business opportunities were put in my path over the last year.  For the first time ever, we have money in a savings account for the adoption AND money in savings account for a down payment on a house.

God has found favor on our adoption. Anytime I start to doubt if we are on the right track, I am constantly bombarded with proof that confirms that our decision has been the right one.

As some of you may know, Adam and I have been looking at houses.  We don't really plan to buy a house until the summer, but we just can't help ourselves.  It's fun to wander around and dream about our family's future.  "Is this the yard where my garden belongs?"  "Will my kids grow up eating breakfast in this kitchen?"  "Is this the living room where we will celebrate our Christmases?"

A few weekends ago, just for fun, we were looking at some houses and, on our way home, drove by a house.  It was huge and stunning and had a lot of land.  As we looked at it lovingly, we realized that it was for sale!  We immediately pulled into the driveway, hoping that no one was living there.  When we were sure the house was empty, we decided to just trespass walk around the outside of the house.  Initially, we were thinking it might be a bit of a fixer-upper, but we got closer and realized that it was A-MAY-ZING.  And appears to have everything that we are looking for. 

This is the first house that Adam and I have completely fallen in love with.  (You might remember that I fell in love with a house last fall.  Once we looked at it, I realized that it was far too small for the family that we intend.  Case closed.)

This house has everything I never knew I always wanted (name that movie!).  As we stood outside, in the dark, staring at this house, we were both just like, "This is what I've been picturing in my head the whole time!"

This is not the actual house.  But this is sorta what the house might look like if we didn't buy it!  

But the reality is that it's going to take some major favor on God's part to make this happen.  Adam and I both feel like there is one house that is meant for us.  And, if this is the one, then God will make it happen.

Right now, we are praying that:

1.  No one else has the desire to buy this house, allowing us to save more money for a down payment.
2.  We get a tax refund to use toward this house.  Since I'm self-employed and our business doubled this year, this is close to impossible.  (But so was paying of $25,000 in debt, so it stays on the prayer list.)
3.  That the sellers will accept a lower price or keep dropping the price.
4.  That the home stays on the market until we can afford it.
5.  If this isn't the house for us, God will let us know and shut the door.
6.  If God wants us in the house sooner, that He paves a way for that to happen. 

Please join us in asking for guidance about this house (or other houses that we may come in contact with).  This is such a huge step in the adoption process; because, once we are in a house, we can start the paperwork almost immediately to begin the adoption.

I am warning you now...2013 is going to be a BIG YEAR for the Millers!

Update:  We filed our taxes this week.  We were squared away and resigned to owing a sizable chunk of money and, despite a short moment when the accountant said, "This is bad.  This is really bad.  You're not going to like this...." and Adam almost stroked out...WE ARE GETTING A REFUND!   As we sat at our Family Meeting Restaurant, eating wings, Adam said, "I think this is a sign.  I think this is a very good sign." 

Indeed, it is.  


Sunday, February 10, 2013

My Favorite

"Grief makes one so terribly tired." ~The Dowager Countess, Downton Abbey

I am always quick to tell my clients that there is a huge difference between grieving and when someone dies.

Because of my job, I can listen to people talk all day long about death and the horrible circumstances surrounding some deaths.

But grief...oh, grief is different.  Grief, even when you see it coming, is all encompassing.  It takes your breath.  Grief makes you cry for 36 hours, even when you're sleeping.  It steals your appetite and makes you ravenous, all at the same time.  It starts the slideshow of memories and sets it on repeat.  Grief, even when you're at peace with it, is fierce and does not leave quickly.    

My grandma died.  My favorite person in this world...gone. 

Somehow, in this sea of grief, there is peace with her death.  Alzheimer's is an ugly disease, and I always said that it would be a fascinating disease if it weren't happening to the one person that I loved the most in this world.  The grief comes from a place of remembering who she used to be and being sad that person doesn't exist anymore.  And didn't outwardly exist for a long time. 

My cousin asked me what my favorite memory of Grandma Ruth was.  And I couldn't pick just one. 

There are so many...


I used to dream about her a lot.  I read somewhere that it was a "psychological fact" that if you were dreaming about someone, then they were dreaming about you.  I'm pretty sure that this is not a fact, and was indeed an idea invented by 14-year-old girls.  And, while I have a million reasons to hope this is not true, I always hoped that it was with her.  I was hopeful that, somewhere, over time and space and this ugly disease, we were able to connect somehow. 

My grandma remarried when I was three.  And, honestly, my grandpa is the real hero of this love story.  My grandma had been a widow for 6 years, and I think the other grandkids had gotten used to having Grandma all to their own.  Being the youngest, I don't really remember Grandma before she got married again.  My grandma had always said she didn't want to marry a farmer or a truck driver, but she ended up marrying both.  My grandpa was really her knight in shining armor, and I'm so grateful that she got a chance at love like that.  He would visit her in the nursing home, every single day.  That's commitment--doing the same thing over and over, despite the total lack of feedback.  No matter how hard it is.  No matter how heartbreaking it is.  I remember, when I was little, my grandpa saying that he'd promised Grandma that they'd be married for 50 years, even if they had to finish up some of those in Heaven.  Now, I know that most Christian theology says that there aren't married relationships in Heaven, but I think there might be exceptions for devoted old men. 

About a year ago, my aunt sent me a package of old letters that I had sent my grandma over the years.  I always get compliments on my handwriting, which I attribute to the years and years of letter-writing that occurred between me and Grandma over the years.  But in this package, there were also all of the things that my grandma had clipped out of the local newspaper over the years.  Some of them were scholarships I had won or times my picture was in the paper.  But what stopped me was the tiny cut-out of the time I made the honor roll in the sixth grade.  I was a great student--I always made the honor roll.  And she always cut it out.  And she always put it on her refrigerator, like it was such a big deal.  There are few times in this world when you get a cheerleader like that. 

And then there's the rock.  When I was little, my grandma redid one of their rooms with a peach color.  I found a rock in the field behind our house that was a light peach color and just KNEW that my grandma had to have it to match her new room.  So we washed it and varnished it, and I gave it to her.  And you would have thought that I gave her a million dollars.  And that rock sat in her living room, on the floor by the TV, until I was almost finished with college and they moved.  That's a good grandma right there--to act excited about and then display a varnished ROCK for 15 years. 

My aunt also shared with me this picture that I drew of my grandma.  I'm not sure how old I was...obviously, not old enough to spell "Grandma" correctly.  Adam's questions were things like, "Did she wear a lot of turtlenecks?"  (no) and "Did she wear a lot of make-up?" (yes, when I was little).  Again, it makes my heart ache with love that she saved these all these know that I was so treasured that she saved my little kid drawings of her. 

So here's to 87 years of life--two husbands, three kids, seven grandkids, twelve great-grandkids (three of whom are named after her), and three great-great-grandkids. 

And a legacy of love.