Monday, June 28, 2010

Saturday Mornings

One thing about Brett working weekends that has always bummed me out is that I have had to go to the Farmer's Market by myself, which isn't really any fun so I just never went. But then after chatting with one of my friends Caitlin, we realized that her husband works Saturday mornings too....we could go together!! Whoo hoo! This last Saturday was our third time going and it was so much fun. The sun was shining, it was warm and the girls got a chance to play which they love too. Emersyn and Emery are only about a week apart in age. I met Caitlin at our birth class and figured out that she was cool when our choice of names for our daughters were so similar. :)

Emery loves the fountain.

Emersyn prefers to just flash the fountain and not really get wet.

This hat has been the highlight of my weekend, hee hee. We got it for $5 at Marshalls on Friday. Emersyn tried it on at the store and wouldn't really keep it on so Brett didn't want to get it and put it back. Emersyn screamed throughout the store, "Emmy hat...Emmy hat" and I took pity on the poor thing. Plus, she doesn't have any sunglasses or anything to keep the sun out of her face so this was perfect. She kept it on for most of the day yesterday, whoo hoo!!

Stroller swap & Starbucks stop

Emersyn couldn't quite figure out how to eat the fruit from these patches. I am pretty sure that by the time she got her first sip, Emery had downed hers, ha!

After we wandered around the market and got some amazingly delicious strawberries, we went into a play store that is right in downtown Hillsboro. We played in there for about 30 minutes and it was so fun! After all our fun we dropped off Emery and Caitlin and headed home for our traditional Saturday afternoon lunch of cottage cheese and fresh cut up strawberries from the Farmer's Market.

I love Saturdays!!! Caitlin, thanks for being my Saturday morning buddy. Our girls are too darn cute and it's so fun to watch them interact and grow up together!!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Belated Father's Day

Father's Day 2009

Father's Day 2010

Due to a variety of circumstances we weren't able to celebrate Father's Day on the actual day. Brett worked and we helped out at church that night because the pastor's were out of town so I decided to designate Friday, the 25th as our Fathers Day celebration.

We woke up and I drove us to Biscuits, a cute little cafe where my friend Roxanne works!! We love their breakfast and the portions are super generous. We even split a meal and it was still a ton of food! We also got to visit with Roxanne which was fun too.

Then I drove Brett to one of my very favorite places, the Euro Institute. My massage therapist leases a space there and her massages are divine. I scheduled a one hour massage for Brett. When I scheduled the massage, Mary (the massage therapist), told me that I should tell Brett about it the night before. I told her that I didn't want to because it was a surprise and she warned me that sometimes surprise massages don't go so well because it's such a personal procedure. I decided to NOT heed her warning and we just showed up at the place.

Brett was not thrilled.


He wasn't like mad or anything, just totally caught off guard.

Oopsie. My bad.

I told him that he would LOVE it and even if he was doubtful that massages are life changing and amazing. He reminded me of a conversation that we had once where he said that he wouldn't ever want a massage. I told him that he said he wouldn't even want a facial which is very different.

Then I started to stress out. And I told Brett that I was stressed out and he didn't even try to make me feel better. Not a good sign. But then the massage therapist pulled up and it was too late to do anything. Brett went into his therapy room and Emersyn and I went to Target. I prayed it would all go well.

Guess what?

HE L.O.V.E.D IT!!!!!!!! In fact, as I type this I asked him again, "are you sure you liked your massage?" and he said "YES!!" and that he would totally do it again. Yippee!!! See, sometimes wives do know best right?? :)

After the massage we ran a couple fun errands and then headed back to the house for a chill afternoon. At 4pm my friend Roxanne showed up to surprise Brett and we went on a date night!! We went to PF Changs happy hour (which was soooo cheap and soooo good!!) and then saw Toy Story 3 in 3D. Too cute. We ended the night at Home Depot looking for something for the yard. Brett asked if we could stop by there on the way home and I said "of course" because it was his special day and he was giddy that I agreed because I can't STAND home improvement stores.

Brett is very worthy of celebration and I hope he had a wonderful day.

P.S. I totally have to brag too. I came home from work on Thursday and when I went upstairs to change, our room had been cleaned SPOTLESS. I literally screamed with excitement. Our room had gotten super messy with laundry, Emersyn 's toys, and life in general. I can get really down when things get too messy because I am the kind of personality that gets really overwhelmed in messy situations. Brett DEEP cleaned the entire room, like used the vacuum attachment and got the corners, deep cleaned the bathroom, washed the sheets and made the bed, reorganized stuff, and the cutest part of all.......we have these boxes that go in our nightstands that have a space for a label. I haven't ever actually labeled the boxes though (three years later, hee hee) and Brett did it for me. Look at the labels....

Yeah...I swooned just a bit. I was literally on cloud nine that whole night and still am actually every time I go into the room. My love language has definitely evolved. I will take my man working hard on our house versus bringing me home flowers ANY DAY. :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Five Question Friday

I've got some surprises up my sleeve for Brett today....we're celebrating Father's Day a little late because he had to work on Sunday. Fun times are in store. :)

Thanks to Mama M. for hosting this fun little Friday meme. I haven't done one in awhile so I figured, why not? :)

1) Do you know how to play a musical instrument? Yup! I played the clarinet in jr. high and high school and it's perhaps the most awkward instrument ever. No one looks pretty playing the clarinet. Fact. I also know how to play a little piano....I can play off a chord chart decently. I love the piano though and would love to really learn to play someday. Emersyn will get piano lessons for sure and perhaps another instrument too.

2) What is your pet peeve while driving? People not using blinkers!!!! People that slow down drastically to merge on a highway. People that don't let you in when you are trying to merge or change lanes.

3) Housekeeper or unlimited spa services? HOUSEKEEPER!!!!! Preferably one that cooks too and knows how to blow dry and style my hair daily. And gives massages? Okay, that's asking too bad....

4) Is there a song that you hear that takes you back to a moment? Whenever I hear Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby" I am reminded of high school. Despite my dislike for high school, I actually really love this song and it makes me happy to hear it.

5) What song represents your life right now? Hmm...this is a tough one. I would pick this Rachel Lampa song, "Blessed". :)

I may never climb a mountain
So I can see the world from there
I may never ride the waves
And taste the salty ocean air
Or build a bridge
That will last a hundred years
But no matter where the road leads
One thing is always clear

I am blessed, I am blessed
From when I rise up in the morning
'Til I lay my head to rest
I feel You near me
You soothe me when I'm weary
Oh Lord for all the worst and all the best
I am blessed

All along the road less traveled
I have crawled and I have run
I have wandered through the wind and rain
Until I found the sun
The watching eyes ask me why
I walk this narrow way
I will gladly give the reason
For the hope I have today

You've given me joy
You've given me love
You give me strength
When I want to give up
You came from heaven
To rescue my soul
This is the reason I know, I know

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Heart

{Seaside, OR} June 2010

I am really really enjoying my book club read, "Strong Women, Soft Hearts" by Paula Rinehart. Last night I got together with three other gals (the rest of our group was busy or couldn't come) and we shared some really great thoughts amidst coffee. I wanted to share some of my thoughts will you all so grab a cup of coffee and let's chat! :)

This book is offering a whole new perspective on my "heart". I have believed for a LONG time that you shouldn't really "follow your heart" in many senses. Your heart is very full of emotions and emotions are fleeting, temporary things, often based not on logic but on what feels good or sounds good or worse, hormonal. ( I am pretty sure that sentence is not puncutated properly, commas and semi-colons and their placement confuse me. Anyways, I digress)

This book is all about following your heart and so I am having to re-shape my opinion on this issue. And I love what that is doing to my head, my thoughts and of course, my heart. :)

The first chapter is called "Awakening: God Calls Our Hearts". Paula starts the book with a quote from Lee Smith. Here is an excerpt "Your life is nog going to start later. This is it, it is now. It's funny how a person can be so busy that they forget this is it. This is my life". So true are these words and this is actually a concept that I don't struggle with. Because I am not in what I would label my *ideal* situation, I have to make the most of every moment with my daughter and not wait to enjoy life until things become more *ideal*. That would be such a waste. I have lived much of my life like that already and it is unfortunate.

Rinehart goes on to say that "the underlying premise of this book is that we must have our hearts intact in order to make the journey of life well. We must have access to the inside stuff- the longing and desires and dreams and vulnerabilities that make us who we are. God placed those in us. He means for us to live from the heart. It's the palce where we first hear His voice and respond". (I seriously could write out this entire chapter, it was so so good. I am pretty sure that is against copy right laws though, hee hee).

We must have our hearts intact....something to ponder. What does that look like? How do I align my heart? I have gotten up with Brett for the last two mornings and written in my prayer journal. I am aligning my heart with His and choosing to start my day intentionally. I need to fill my heart with good things in order for it to be intact and protect the images and content that it comes into contact with. This challenges me.

Rinehart writes, "How we slowly drift from the domain of the heart to a focus on efficiency and performance- as though this whole thing was mostly about doing and duty". So so so true. Efficiency is something I strive for constantly. I don't want my life to be described as efficient though...I mean, that is a nice word and complimentary in a sense but I don't want it to define me. I don't want to only call my mom on my way home because I need to kill time anyways. I want to be intentional and make her special. I don't want to only have meaningful conversations with my husband while I am folding laundry or doing the dishes in an effort to multi-task. I want to sit down, hold his hand and look him in the eye when we talk. Efficiency and multi-tasking are something I pride myself in greatly, mainly because of the place of life I am in. And that is okay sometimes. It's great to empty the dishwasher during the 8 minutes it takes to boil Emersyn's mac and cheese. But I don't want to strive for efficiency in my relationships or the matters of my heart. I feel guilty of doing that too often with friends and that isn't fair, nor who I want to be.

The rest of the chapter goes on to talk about the importance of being in tune with our hearts and following it, even though that may pose some risks. Following your heart can lead to heartache in the event that things don't work out. However, "trust is our gift back to God" (quote by Phillip Yancey)

The next chapter is called "Desire: The Language of the Heart". This was the chapter we discussed last night. Instead of quoting a lot of the book, I will share what I came away with.

Desire is an interesting thing. Rinehart states that "the heart is actually a bundle of longings and desire". Desires can lead to feelings of being incomplete and misplaced passions.

Right now when I ask myself, "what do I desire for my life" my answer consists of mostly events and milestones that can be put into a box and labeled easily. I desired to get married. Check. I desired to have a child. Check. I desire to stay home with her full time. This box is blank. I desire to have a one level home someday with a large yard. Another blank box. I desire to get a small dog for our family to enjoy. Again, blank.

Upon reviewing my list, I am troubled because nothing I desire matters in a way. It's all fluff. Of course, I desire to do much more in life then what I listed, like raise a happy, healthy daughter, etc. But initially when I think of desire, it's about stuff or even social status. (Becoming a wife, mom, SAHM, etc.) What about my desires says, "Lord, use me". Nothing.

I am challenged to strip away my titles and find out who what I am working towards as a woman, as Patti. Not as Brett's wife or Emersyn's mother.

Last night we discussed misplaced passions, a way that we deal with desire. Desires can fuel addictions and voids are meant to be filled. Some of us struggled with watching too much TV. Some of us struggled with dwelling on past relationships. Some of us, myself included, struggled with being online too much. I have a desire in my heart to connect with people. I can misplace that and only maintain relationships via Facebook, blogging, etc. Instead, I need to take that desire and figure out a way that the Lord intends me to use that for Him, not for myself. Sending someone a quick Facebook message isn't nearly as meaningful as handwriting a note. This reflection isn't intended to make me feel bad about myself, just to be in tune with my heart and be wise with how I spend my time. Rinehart says that "psychologically, addiction uses up desire" and that is why we numb ourselves with addictions be it TV, substances, or even something like shopping!! God has put desires in our hearts, what are we going to do with that?

The challenge that we walked away with last night was to form a recovery plan from any of our misplaced passions and tune into the desires of my heart. I want to have goals that I working towards that don't have anything to do with being a wife or mom. I want to have a heart that longs to be used by God and bring Him glory through my life. Someday when I am able to stay home with Ems, is that all I will have worked for? Will I somehow *arrive* at that point? Certainly not. My life has to have more meaning then that and those are the kinds of thoughts and goals that I am wanting to tune into. It's an interesting place to be in and I am looking forward to diving more into it!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesday Morning

This morning I am thankful for some quiet time. I got up with Brett a little before 8am, made him a lunch (which he will thank me for 100 times...seriously, the man is TOO easy to please bless his heart) and was able to read for nearly an hour. Emersyn is awake, I can hear her making silly noises but she is content and happy.

There really is something magical about mornings. It's like the beginning of unknown potential in a chance to start my day right and get my mind into the right focus. Physically getting out of bed is always torturous for me, probably definitely because I need to get to bed earlier, a topic I am always discussing, yet fail to do much about. But if tomorrow morning I can just remember how great this morning felt, maybe, just maybe that will be enough to jump out of bed. A cup of coffee never hurts too.

I have started a physical prayer journal that has been exciting to write in. I think that for awhile, I was okay with just blogging about my spiritual thoughts. But sometimes blogging can become a little too much about receiving feedback or posting something with the expectation of praise or comments. I think that sometimes the Lord wants us all to Himself and that is what I was sensing. I can get very distracted with technology I am finding. I have an iPhone, laptop, desktop....the Internet is at my fingertips whenever I want it. I think that starts to dilute life a little though. I think it is a great and therapeutic thing to get out a pen and paper and write down our thoughts from time to time. It takes more time and effort then opening a window and posting a blog; for me anyways. I want written proof of God's faithfulness in my life. I write down my prayers for myself, for my family and for my friends and I can't wait to look back and see those prayers answered. I want something tangible to show my daughter someday, in the event that her faith is ever wavering. You can't deny someones testimony. I am looking forward to the mighty things that God plans to do within the pages of my journal. And it feels good to do what I say I will do in regards to praying for friends that I have committed to pray for. It is so easy to flippantly say, "I'll pray for you" and then never follow through.

I was supposed to go to my "Love & Logic" playgroup this morning but instead, I chose to spend a morning at home. Sometimes I just need that. And I am so glad I did! Emersyn got to sleep in and now I think we are going to have some breakfast and then go on a walk, her favorite thing to do with her stroller and baby. Like mommy like daughter. :)

Have a wonderful Tuesday friends!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Emersyn Update

Sometimes I realize that it has been awhile since I posted an update about Emersyn so before details escape me, I decided to write out as much as I can......

Emersyn's Stats:

*Weighs a little over 26lbs and seems tall for her age. I need to measure her. And speaking of stats, I should probably get her 24 month dr. appointment on the calendar Ems has lost all of her baby chub except in her sweet little cheeks. Her legs are long and slim. Such a toddler. I miss her baby rolls.

*Favorite foods: since Emersyn insists on feeding herself now, meal time has gotten messy to say the least. She loves cottage cheese with almost any kind of fruit. Most often I mix it with tomatoes, strawberries, or mandarin oranges. She loves mac and cheese, pancakes (she just eats them plain), peas, broccoli (if it's seasoned just right), spaghetti, pb&j, cheese quesadillas (only with orange cheese, she doesn't like white cheese), sweet potato fries, apples, blueberries, oatmeal, rice, black beans, kidney beans, black olives, Clif Kids bars, freeze dried apples and pears, crackers, applesauce, yogurt, eggs (sometimes), and I can't think of anything else right now. Sometimes I feel like she is in an eating rut but hopefully her tastes will expand as she gets older. It will be nice when she can eat what we eat. Right now, she doesn't eat a whole lot of meat (except for steak) so that limits what she can eat from our dinners, as we usually eat chicken.

*Emersyn loves to dance. When she hears music sometimes she'll say "party party" and want to have a dance party. Right now our favorite song to boogie down to is "Undo It" by Carrie Underwood. We also like "American Honey" by Lady Antebellum.

*Emersyn loves airplanes. If she sees one in the air in the car she will scream out and try to say hi to it and if we are outside, she will lift both hands in the air, as high as she can and yell her word for airplane (which I can't understand at all enough to quote) and then when she can't see it anymore she says, "bye bye".

*Emersyn loves trucks and points them out on the road. The bigger the truck, the louder the squeal she makes. :)

*She loves animals. Her Nana has two dogs and Emersyn calls them by name (Sadie Mae & Gracie) and is constantly giving them kisses and loves.

*Emersyn is obsessed with her cousin Annabel, even though they don't see each other that often. It is really cute how much Emersyn talks about her. Often times I hear Emersyn singing, "Happy Annabel....Happy Annabel" to herself and she must be remembering Annabel's birthday party several months ago. So sweet.

*Last week Brett told me that when Emersyn fusses at bedtime, if he's the one to go and calm her down he goes into her room and doesn't look at her, just cuddles with her, says he loves her and puts her back down. He said that that last night she desperately gripped his cheeks and tried to make him look at her in the eyes and was yelling, "nunch, nunch". She knows if she says she is hungry, we will often back down. This may not strike you as funny but it cracked me up.

*Yesterday I was on the computer, writing my Father's Day blog and Emersyn ran up to me with a wipe in her hand and said, "baby pooped!". I got up to go put away the wipes so that she didn't tear out the entire container and saw Elmo laying down on an open diaper, ready to be changed. Get this, so Emersyn goes over to wipe Elmo's bum and she starts making this snorting/breathing noise with her nose....I realized that she was totally making the exact same noise I make when I change her poopy diapers because I breathe through my nose and kind of make this gagging noise, ha ha ha. It is CRAZY what these little ones pick up from us. She wiped his bum and then finished diapering him up. So cute.

*Yesterday afternoon we went to Costco and I had to go to the bathroom really bad, so I go into the large handi-capped stall so that Emersyn and the cart can come in with me. I sit down, go potty and amidst the very full bathroom Emersyn starts yelling "Mommy's pooping, Mommy's pooping". I could hear several snickers. I tried to shush Ems and told her that I was just going potty and she kept insisting it was poop. Ha ha. Ems likes to talk about poop...the other day she was walking around the house saying "Emmy poops....Mommy poops.....Daddy poops....." over and over. Lovely.

*I was watching Emersyn play with her kitchen the other day and she has several bowls, pots and even a few sippy cups that she plays pretend with. She was putting away her dishes and I noticed that whenever she got to a sippy cup, she would take the lid off and sniff it repeatedly and then put the lid back on and pretend to drink. I thought this was kind of strange. Then, that afternoon I went to give Ems a sippy cup that she had had since the night before and so I took off the lid and sniffed it, making sure it wasn't bad. Then it clicked, that is totally what Emersyn is mimicking!!

*Last night we went to a movie night with our young adults ministry at church. We kind of headed the night up since the pastor's were out of town. During the movie, which was very quiet by the way, Emersyn decides to let us know that she DOES indeed know her ABC's (or some of them at least) and starts singing "a...b...c...d..." over and over and over. Stinker.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day Daddy!!

My Daddy
by Emersyn Grace

He loves me even when I'm naughty; he loves my mom, thinks she's a hottie

He's not afraid to be silly and fun, likes to cuddle and loves me a ton.

Works hard for our family, trusts the Lord as His guide; He can't resist my pouty lower lip, trust me, he's tried.

My mommy tells me everyday that I'm one lucky little girl; for out of all the Daddy's I could have gotten, mine is the best in the world.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Portland Timbers Game

Brett is watching the playoff basketball game so I decided to post a quick blog about our evening!

Brett got 4 tickets to our local soccer team the Portland Timbers. We invited Brett's dad and his brother to come along with us too.

Here are some pics from the night....

Emersyn did really good. She has been really into sports lately....she loves to watch them on TV with Daddy. In fact, if we say it is night night time sometimes Emersyn will run and climb up into Daddy's lap and point at the TV and say, "ball ball?". Little stinker.

Emersyn watched the game, had some snacks, snuggled with Mama, sat on Uncle Brock's lap, cuddled with Daddy, had some more snacks, looked through pictures on Mama's phone and then danced her heart out to the half time show. I could tell a lot of people were looking at Ems and thinking she was pretty cute when she was dancing. She shakes her booty and raises her arms and cracks me up. During some exciting moments of the game, Emersyn would yell "YAY" and clap very enthusiastically. I loved watching her be so excited and happy. During the last five minutes, I took her for a walk because she was getting really restless. Overall it was a fun night though and I would take Emersyn again.

I am looking forward to our weekend! Tomorrow (Friday) I have a massage therapy appointment (hallelujah!!) and then I think we are going to go to the beach for the afternoon. We are dog sitting a little dog named Brandy and I think Brandy and Emersyn will have fun at the beach, running in the sand and enjoying *hopefully* some sunshine. On Saturday one of my best friends is graduating with her MBA and Emersyn and I are going to the ceremony. Saturday night Brett's family is coming over for dinner to celebrate Father's Day since Brett has to work on Sunday. Sunday we have a pancake breakfast at church in the morning for Father's Day and then Brett and I are leading the young adults group at our church in the evening since the lead Pastor is out of town. Fun times. I don't want Brett to feel ripped off in regards to Father's Day though so I have a fun celebration planned for next Friday. I love surprises!! :)

Hope everyone has a wonderful Friday and weekend!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wordless(ish) Wednesday- Social Butterfly

Here are some pics of Emersyn and her buddies over the past couple weeks. They are all within about 1-2 months of the same age except for the tiny baby at the end. :)

Emersyn & Ellie

Estella & Emersyn

Emersyn & Emery

Annabel, Genevieve & Emersyn (her cousins)

Rowen & Ems

Estella & Emersyn

Estella, Emersyn and Kaypha (he was a 10.6lb "preemie".... born 3 weeks early!)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thursday Five

.....because sometimes it's a blessing to reflect upon the GOOD in life!

Happy Happy Thursday!

It's that super fun time again to post 5 things that have made you feel..


1) I got to meet this precious little bundle of joy on Wednesday.

Charlotte Joy

I met Charlotte's parents at our birth class when I was pregnant with Emersyn. They have the CUTEST little guy, Rowen. Him and Ems are buds and about a month and a half apart. While holding Charlotte I am pretty sure Brianne (her mama) could hear my uterus aching because she asked if looking at the baby gave me an itch. I started talking about how crazy it is to think that if I got pregnant now it wouldn't be like that unheard of, meanwhile a friend of hers was in the room that was super prego with her second child and was holding her 10 month old baby. I totally felt like I stuck my foot in my mouth (something I do often) because I wasn't meaning to imply that having babies close together is wrong or crazy, just for ME it would be crazy and it's hard to believe that if I got pregnant now, my kids would be at least two years apart. Whew. Had to get that off my chest, could you tell I lost sleep over this last night?? :) Anyways, I hope that Brianne and her friend can forgive me for sounding like an idiot.

But back to the baby....she is the smallest baby I have ever held, by several pounds. She was a little under 5lbs on Wednesday and I couldn't take my eyes off of her. She looked like a real life doll. I am so happy for the Happel family and can't wait to get to know sweet Charlotte. :)

2) I had a great time at book club on Monday night discussing "Strong Women, Soft Hearts". Some of those thoughts shall be written soon on another post. :)

3) Emersyn has been saying "I love you" when I leave her to go to work without me asking her to. My heart MELTS every time she says it.

4) I got a massage this morning (thank you auto insurance) and I actually woke myself up snoring, LOL!! You know a massage is good if you pass out.

5) Emersyn and I have been having dance parties to Carrie Underwood's "Undo It". We dance our heart out, clap, raise the roof, twirl, you know...all the essential cool dance moves. I love my daughter and love that she is every bit the little nut that I knew she would be.

Happy Thursday! Tomorrow it is supposed to be *gasp* sunny!! We are going to the zoo with Stella and her parents. Gotta love a BFF playdate for Emersyn. She is a lucky girl. :) I can't wait to see MY BFF in July!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The blessing of Obedience

Our home.

**Warning: this is a long one. :) This post deals with kind of a personal issue (finances) but I believe in sharing with each other for the purpose of encouragement and learning, even if that means admitting to failures or foolishness at times. :) **

Brett and I have dreamed of owning our own home long before we even started dating. We would drive for HOURS as friends, looking at homes in various neighborhoods throughout Portland and dreaming of our futures. We had very similar tastes and I remember now some silly conversations that Brett and I would have about loving a particular neighborhood and thinking, maybe someday we'll be neighbors. (Even though I know that secretly we both wanted to occupy the same home someday...) It brings a smile to my face to think of how innocent and unaware we were of our future together. God is so good. So so good.

I got my real estate license when I was 23, a relatively young age to start a profession that relies so heavily on referrals and a sphere of influence. I certainly wasn't going to find any clients in my friends for awhile; most of them were still in college or trying to get established in a career. Despite that, I had a very successful start and found myself making a good income with the Lord's assistance. I have some miraculous stories of deals I have done. I have sold homes to people that I met at open houses just by luck. I have sold a house to a client that I found in CA who purchased her home sight unseen. A lot of hard work and long hours has gone into my career but it can be a blessing financially, that is for sure. Brett and I decided during the real estate boom of 2005 that it was time for us to purchase a home, at the height of the boom really. Prices were just going up and up and we thought that if we didn't buy now, we may not be able to afford a home for a really really long time. A lot of it was motivated out of pride to be honest; I felt silly as a Realtor not owning my own home. Plus, it was such a great investment....home prices were going up monthly and from the time we started the building process (July 2005) to the time it was complete and we moved in (January 2006), the home had gone up in value by thousands of dollars.

Qualifying for our home was not easy. I made more money then Brett but had bad credit. My income didn't "count" because I hadn't been self employed yet for two years yet. Brett had okay credit but technically not enough income. So we did a stated income loan and paid for it, 6.5% on our first and 10.5% on the second, ouch. Brett's credit needed some help before we could qualify for the home though. When we first applied for our loan it became clear that his score was going to need to go up before we could close on the loan in June. We disputed things, wrote letters, etc. We were able to get Brett's score up by nearly 100 points. There were still some challenges with qualifying along the way though, and I became kind of desperate. I begged and pleaded with the Lord to help us get into this house. Not because we needed to move, not because of anything vital, but simply because my pride didn't want to have to tell our friends and family that we weren't able to close on our house. It was 100% pride. I remember listening to worship music and almost hearing the Lord say, "Are you SURE you want this house? If you want it, I'll give it to you but are you SURE?" and of course, I said yes yes yes!!! I didn't really stop to think that maybe the Lord intended for us to make a better choice in the future; for me it was all about the now. I didn't ask the Lord to guide and direct us; it was more like me telling the Lord what the best option for me was going to be.

On January 10th, 2006 Brett and I became homeowners. We had built our home and selected all the upgrades that we thought would make for a beautiful home and it turned out just lovely. We were very naive with our first home purchase and as many older people can relate, sometimes you don't know exactly what you want until you have a lived a little longer. I didn't' realize how important a yard would be once we had a family so our backyard is TINY and unfortunately not very private. But it's something and for that, I am grateful.

Okay, fast forward a couple of years. The real estate market plummets, along with a large portion of my income. Buyers are having trouble qualifying for a home, sellers are having trouble selling their homes and I take a pregnancy test that turns positive. All of these are factors for financial trouble. :) Brett and I got behind on our property taxes because we had elected to pay them all in one big lump sum once a year, an option that no longer exists probably because of people like us. Come November for two years, we simply did not have the money to pay our property taxes. Obviously our mortgage company started to get cranky when THEY had to pay our taxes and they decided that we either were going to have to come up with a large sum of money to pay them back or they were going to take our house. I panicked. We had just had Emersyn when all this started happening. Because of the delinquent property taxes, they had jacked our payment up beyond our means to pay and we were growing more and more behind. We spoke with the mortgage company and explained our situation. They offered to help roll the taxes into our payment as a way to get caught up. Their solution was to increase our mortgage payment by over $500/month for quite awhile. Having just had a baby, there was no way this was feasible.

I remember going into Emersyn's nursery and just crying at the thought of having to leave our home. I panicked when I thought of how our friends and family would judge us. Yes, we had made some really poor choices financially and the Lord showed us incredible lessons, some that I will share at another time. I wouldn't go back and change a thing about the times that could be considered *wasted*. I am a better person for all we have been through and I think that if we skipped all the ugly things in our lives, we would miss out on becoming who God intends us to be. I felt the Lord telling me that I needed to trust Him with our home and hold loosely to it. If it was something that we needed to be released from, I needed to trust Him and not let my pride get in the way AGAIN.

For the last 20 months we have worked with our mortgage company on a loan modification. Thanks to Obama (never thought I would say that), mortgage companies are able to modify existing loans to work with homeowners. With all the homes that are in foreclosure and being short saled, I was discouraged if this was EVER going to work out. There were SO many times that we thought about just walking away from the house. We could find a rental home in a WAY cooler area and even a cooler house. I dream of living in a single level someday. :) But I felt morally obligated to stick with our house. We had signed a contract to purchase it and I felt like the Lord was providing a way for us with the mod potential.

Last week we got the final paperwork for the loan modification and it is better then I would have ever imagined. We were able to get our rate negotiated down and without going into too many details, we are now in a better position then if we were going to rent. I feel so blessed and I 100% know it is because we were obedient, have been tithing consistently, and have been trusting the Lord in the area of our finances. **Side note: we have had many friends that have been unable to get loan mods because not every mortgage company is the same. We each have our own story and I believe there are blessings in every situation if we look hard enough. I consider this to be a miracle for our family and even if we had have to move, that would have been a different post but the same blessing of provision, just in a different way. :) My husband was hesitant for me to share our situation in fear that it might seem like *bragging* but I believe in bragging about the Lord's blessings in our lives for the purpose of giving Him the glory. If anyone reading this has been unable to get a loan mod, I don't believe that is the Lord NOT blessing you, maybe He's just blessing you in a different way that will make more sense someday. Okay, that was a long side note..... :)

The Lord truly longs to be gracious to us and I am so grateful for His mercy. He had every right to take away our house from us; we haven't been the best stewards with it or with our finances over the years. But God is so much like a parent; He just wants us to learn but not always have to punish us. This has been a stressful time, full of a lot of uncertainty and I have yet another testimony to add to dozens others about the Lord's faithfulness.

I decided to write this out for Emersyn to read someday and also for any of my blogger friends that might relate or need encouragement in the area of finances or provision.

We are so excited to know that we are staying in our home. We have big plans of going through the entire house and re-organizing, de-cluttering and perhaps even some redecorating. I would like to paint; actually I would love to hire painters but that isn't going to happen so instead, we will paint. We are going to really clean out our guest room and get it organized. We have a lot of storage spaces that aren't well utilized and that is totally up Brett's ally. He can reorganize like nobody's business. It is exciting times for us. :)

Thanks for letting me share.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Miscellany Monday

A new favorite blog of mine is "Lowercase Letters" by Carissa Graham. She wrote a blog post awhile back on comparison killing contentment that really spoke to me. It's always fun to find new bloggers that you really connect with. She just gave birth to her second child on Friday but she is hosting this little blog carnival this morning already. What a woman! The idea is to keep it as random as possible which shouldn't be a problem for never is. :)

{1} Brett and I watched TWO movies this weekend! We rarely watch moves. One of us (don't want to name names) suffers from the inability to sit still for very long. However, I this person decided that a movie night sounded like fun and indeed it was. My brother and his wife were off house sitting for the weekend so we had the place to ourselves. We rented "The Informant!" with Matt Damon. Kind of weird but also kind of interesting. That was Brett's pick. Then I picked "Dear John". I had heard to be prepared for tears so I had my Kleenex all ready to go. I nearly fell asleep during the movie, in fact, we had to watch it over two nights because I couldn't take it all in one sitting. At the end, Brett and I looked at each other and laughed. Not what I was expecting at all. I didn't cry at the end of "The Notebook" either. And I don't like the Twilight series. Do all of these factors disqualify me from being a woman!?!?

{2} Though I didn't cry at the end of "Dear John", I did cry during the Missionette's ceremony at my church on Sunday morning. Missionettes is kind of like a Christian girl scouts. When the girls have completed their studies and badges, they have a ceremony where they get to wear white dresses and they get a crown for their accomplishments. Yes, I was an Honor Star (what they call the girls that complete the program) and I pray that Emersyn will be too someday. As I was watching the sweet girls get their crowns, they played a slide show of all the girls as babies and young kids and I was so emotional knowing that Emersyn is going to grow up so fast. I don't want to be one of those moms who gets depressed about transitioning into new stages in life but still, it makes me want to savor each and every day.

{3} I really like Avon's nail polish. I painted my nails LAST Saturday night and the polish is just now starting to chip. Amazing!!!

{4} I baked two different kinds of muffins this weekend, made pancakes to freeze for the week, and took dinner to a friends house on Saturday night. I felt very domestic.

{5} My daughter is OBSESSED with her car seat and it's buckles. We have one that goes in and out of Brett's car and his mom's car so it is often inside, awaiting it's next location. If the car seat is inside, forget about Emersyn needing ANYTHING else to play with. She loves closing the buckles but she doesn't know how to open them so she gets super frustrated until someone helps her. The joys of toddlers.

{6} Speaking of nail polish, I painted my own toes for the first time in like ten years (literally) the other day. (And yes, it was with the fabulous Avon nail polish that I purchased through my BFF) I felt like I was betraying myself, seeing as I am a firm believer in pedicures but I was desperate. Toes were chipping and I knew I was going to get a pedi with my friend this week so last week I had to take matters into my own hands and guess what? They looked great. I am getting a pedi on Wednesday though so my toes will be back in the hands of the professionals.

{7} It's sunny outside and that makes me happy. We have had record rainfall in June already and I am over the gloomy weather. Hoping for more sunny days to ride our bikes this week.

Happy Monday everyone!!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010