When you blog about your life pretty openly (and extensively), people get a little “concerned” when they see hints of major events going on in your life but don’t know the whole story. I can’t count the number of Facebook comments/messages/emails I’ve gotten in the last month or so that all say the same thing: “Did I miss something?? What is going on?!?!”
Depending on the person asking/my mood/how much time I have, I reply with either, “We’re moving. (smiley face)” Or, “We’re moving to an apartment a mile down the road.” Or a big paragraph explaining the story as best I can in a short space.
Sometimes I say, “I’ll blog about it soon,” but then I don’t. Because well. Sometimes I don’t have the energy. Or we’re too busy just surviving. Or the story keeps getting more complicated. Or I’m feeling raw and vulnerable and really don’t want to be any more exposed.
Yesterday, for whatever reason, I got bombarded with messages. Maybe it was because I listed our window air conditioner for sale on Facebook, which led to the logical conclusion that we’re moving somewhere very cold? Or far away?
So, Gabe and I just had a little chat. I asked for his blessing on this little series of blog posts, explaining in detail (maybe much more detail than you care to know) what’s going on in our lives in the moment and our plans for the immediate future.
He told me to have at it.
And so with a deep breath and a quick prayer, here we go.
I’ll start in May 2006. We lived in Bellefontaine, OH. We’d lived there for 2.5 years. A record for us at the time. Gabe had been self-employed that entire time but it was getting really hard to pay our bills (we’d just had a baby in January and paid for the entire pregnancy/birth out-of-pocket), so Gabe found a job in Columbus. We put our house on the market and waited for it to sell.
Meanwhile, Gabe was driving an hour to work and an hour back each day, and gas was $4.00/gallon. Our house payment was $425/month (beautiful), and we were spending about that much in gas.
Our oldest was getting ready to start kindergarten, and we agonized over sending her to school in Bellefontaine and then uprooting her and moving to a new school in Columbus once our house sold.
So we did something stupid. We moved to a house in Columbus before our house sold in Bellefontaine. In hindsight, holy cow, but that’s what we did. We figured the savings in gas (Gabe’s new commute was 5 minutes) would pay for our old house payment, and we fully expected to clear $20,000 on the house which we’d use as a down payment on the new house (we’d refinance once we had the $).
Seven months later, our house finally sold. After putting a new roof on it and lowering the price a kajillion times, we walked away with $1000.
Fast forward seven years to December 2013. We owe more on our house than what it’s worth. We’ve paid a very happy bank lots and lots and lots of money in interest with nothing to show for it.
Back up almost 2 years to January 2012. We came back from Cambodia with the intention of moving there. We would sell our house, pray for a miracle, and hope to break even or pay off what we still owed in the shortest time possible.
Then Gabe’s panic attacks, loss of job, emergency room visits, piles of hospital bills. No need to get into all that here. (you can do some digging in the archives to read the gory details)
No move to Cambodia in the foreseeable future. However. We still talked from time to time about selling our house, moving to an apartment, paying off whatever we still owed, and then being free (FREE!) to go (if not for good, then on another trip) when God said go.
But nothing felt right. So we stayed put.
God did some amazing things and put a lot of stuff together and answered a lot of prayers (both mine personally and those of our pastor and people at our church) all at once. In September, our church rented out an apartment at a complex about a mile down the road from us. They share the apartment with an organization called World Relief. The apartment complex is roughly 70% refugees (mostly Somali). We’d be tutoring kiddos there every Tuesday night with the hopes of expanding our ministry opportunities.
From the first time we stepped foot into the ministry apartment, the girls and I knew.
We’re supposed to move here.
It wouldn’t be Cambodia, but it’d be the next best thing. It would be like moving to another country, because most of our neighbors were from other countries. And it’d be one step closer to going back to Cambodia one day. Win win.
We immediately started praying that God would move in Gabe’s heart as well. And while he wasn’t exactly opposed to it, he wasn’t feeling the urgency/desire that we were. So we kept praying.
On October 11, out of the blue, Gabe said, “Let’s do it. Let’s sell our house and move into the apartment complex.”
I was shocked. Even more shocked than I’d been just five days earlier when he said, “Let’s do it. Let’s stop eating meat and dairy and everything else fun and go to a completely plant-based diet.”
Hole. Lee. Cow.
We immediately called a realtor friend, and he said he could come over that very night.
He showed up with all kinds of paperwork and research of the homes in our neighborhood and some bad news. No way could we break even on our house. We’d absolutely lose money on it.
We knew this. We were prepared. “Can we just take out a loan for the amount we still owe? We’ll be saving money by living in an apartment and we could just pay off that loan as quickly as we can?”
“I have a better idea,” he said.