Our Dear Friends in Kansas

My friend Jaelle and I have been writing to each other for about 2 years now. She was pregnant with her little Hannah while I was pregnant with Benjamin. They were born a week apart. We have lots in common… lots, even though we look different, our spirits connect through the Lord. He has brought our families together somehow and well, we just love them.

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The kids had a wonderful time playing together. Our children went crazy over the remote controlled airplane of theirs. They were all squealing in delight throughout the house last night. They made us a wonderful dinner with deer backstraps as the main course… Jaelle shared that it is like filet mignon so we were all “game” for it.      : )  Oh my, she was right. Her husband Brett grilled them on the barbeque and they tasted like the best steak. He shared that many hunters just hunt the deer for that part and do away with the rest of it… that’s sad.

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We met Brett for the first time last night. Brett is a very humble man… while he and Jaelle founded and manage  Trash Mountain Project, he kept telling my husband that he “helps” there. We know from working in ministry before that the body all helps so we understand but still cannot help admire their humbleness… both of them. Brett shared some very moving stories with Matthew last night. He is often in the way of great danger and death while he travels overseas to help families and children who live by digging through mountains of trash.

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Hmmm, I wish I could  do an “edit”  to make me about 25 lbs lighter.  ; )

Jaelle and I share a special bond. She is such a dear friend to me and she is soooo good about seeing the Lord in this that we have to see what He wants for us in our lives. It makes me love her so much more. She is such a mature Christian to be able to put the Lord and His plans over her own wants. While we can still e-mail each other, we have met now and interacted so it makes it harder to leave. The kids get along wonderfully. Their children are such givers and sentimental. They gave away some of their most special little jewelry to our kids as a keepsake. Some of the kids were a little teary eyed… Susan and Hannah.  We’re so open to what the Lord does over these next months… who knows, we may come full circle and still end up buying in Kansas by late Spring. We will miss you all…

The Lord Has Different Plans for Us

So much has happened in such a short amount of time. Even the past couple of hours has brought about a lot of confirmation of things. Let me go back, I’ll try to keep this simplified.

As some of you know, the home we were buying just south of Topeka the inspection came back bad… roof damage to the home and guest house, foundation problems on the guest house, mold in attic and basement and electrical problems as well. It was a pretty extensive report that revealed a lot of neglect on the maintenance on the home. We felt that for the price of the home it was time to pull out.

We then found a home in Holton, Kansas – a community that we love. The home was priced well, on 5 acres and we just loved it. The first sign of trouble happened when we made an offer and they came back stating that they decided that they wanted to just give us two acres as they wanted to sell the other acreage as lots. We decided to not buy the home when we found that the listing was inaccurate as well due to an error.

Our time here hasn’t been favorable. The place we are staying at is kept up well and the inside feels homey but we’ve had many situations in the few weeks we’ve been here:

School boys throwing rocks at our vehicles and not stopping while we asked them to do so. They called our children names. We called the owner of the home here when they started to try to break into one of her sheds. She got them to stop but a few days later their grandfather approached my husband. My husband got scared as he could tell that he was coming over and it wasn’t to be friendly. He shared that the boys told him that he was videotaping them and cussing at them. My husband shared “I’m not a cussing man, I’m a man of the Lord so it must be someone else.” This seemed to subdue the man but still…

A pipe bomb scare about 5 blocks away on Kansas Avenue… they shut down the entire block and later found it to be a homemade fire cracker.

Fighting, yelling and drunkenness in the back alley behind our bedrooms… for a couple of hours one night.

Someone got arrested right in front of the home last week.

A few nights ago the kids ran in saying they heard gun shots.

Lots of adult shops and other places like that around here… we are just not used to all of this.

When we first got here, I was in such culture shock I could barely drive in the city. When a car would come from a side street, I would put my brakes on as it scared the dickens out of me that they were going to hit me. Silly, but we’re just not used to the city.

We have looked at homes all over Kansas and are a bit surprised at the taxes and insurance. Our home was insured in Oroville for $640,000 (though we didn’t pay that much for it) because they said they couldn’t build it for less than that. They would not insure it for less. The insurance was going to be more for the home in Topeka than it was there and for a home under $300,000.  : (  Lots of dead ends and disappointments… many homes in bad, bad shape for $200,000 or less. Not all, but most.

Five years ago we tried to find a home to buy here and finally decided to rent and then had trouble renting… we were about to and they sent us to the home to check it out. The landlord came over and shared he’d be by to “check on us” every month. We didn’t rent from him and felt it was time to go elsewhere. After the home in Iowa we came out to Kansas AGAIN to look at a home to buy in Phillipsburg. The floors were so bad that you could roll a ball from one end of the room to another without pushing it. We’ve really, really tried here – three times in five years. My husband believes the Lord does not want us in Kansas. I agree. So where then?

We are going to stay in some cabins for a month in Missouri near some of our dearest friends, next week on the 28th. We may not have internet there. It is a place to rest and regroup and to continue in prayer about what the Lord wants in our lives. It’s a furnished vacation home so she will only allow us to stay a month. We wanted to stay longer but it’s just not going to happen. Next, we are going to visit some dear friends in Pennsylvania… you all know who you are.  : )  : )  Dan…. Susanna…. we’ll talk to you very soon. I’m sure Matthew will give you a call tonight Dan.

Then we have some other very close friends in Maine. Yes. Maine. They are in Princeton and we have known them for about 9 years. We have been approved to rent a farmhouse in Lubec on the ocean that is furnished and has 3 acres for only $800 a month until June 1st…. starting in January. We should be there in the middle of the month. A place to rest for a while and visit with good friends. They assured us that the highways are usually kept very clear, despite what we’d all think of Maine. We will keep tabs on the weather conditions and the roads and if they are anything short of clear we will stay in a hotel until they are. So, don’t worry Mom.  : ) Remember, Oroville is way North near Canada, Maine is too… just more cold and more snow, but four seasons there.

Our children are very excited to meet more new friends. We have met with some friends already in Kansas when we first came here. I’ll share pictures before we head to Missouri. This Saturday, we are going to have dinner with a very dear friend. We are both torn up over having to depart as we both had different plans than this but we both know what it is to follow the Lord’s guidance… and sometimes it’s painful.  : (  Jaelle, is a dear friend and I will miss her… especially when we have to leave.

So, while this may all sound irrational and irresponsible as sometimes things do with the Lord, we have actually gone back and forth for a long, long time about whether to just go buy a home in Kansas or go meet and spend a good amount of time with our friends before seeing what the Lord wants before settling down. We have struggled and prayed about this month after month for a couple of years – quietly, between the Lord, my husband and myself. Deeply, fervently and not hearing a clear voice on the matter from the Lord as we sometimes do. So we cannot help but think this is the way to go now. The doors keep closing in Kansas… but they are open somewhere and for some reason. Marriage for our children in the future? Something else pertaining to people and associations? These are big things we’ve gone to the Lord about for a long time.

We have tried to get into vacation rental homes since leaving Washington State, about 25 times. Always a decline – (probably due to the amount of kids we have to adults). Thank God we were able to get into this place here for a while, though it’s been very hard here… other than having a wonderful, Christian landlord for a month. The only place we could get a place for more than a few days is 30 minutes from our friends in Missouri and a short lease near our friends in Maine. You would have had to see the rejections and rejections over and over again to understand how we are seeing these doors swing open wide. The woman who wants to rent to us in Maine, she shared with my husband a couple of hours ago that she was going to rent to a couple with one child and one dog but “would rather rent to our family with eight children”. It sounds like their dog was all over the place and the child as well. What a beautiful thing to hear! But, once again we are seeing the Lord in this. We were praying all weekend and so many things have come to fruition. IT’S NOT BORING TO BE A CHRISTIAN. Sometimes it painful but not boring. So, we are nearly just starting our journey….

Milestones

Two days ago, Benjamin just being shy of his 16th month, pulled himself up in his playpen that he sleeps in at night (as we’re in transition during moving). He then proceeded to pull himself up at least four more times that day with various furniture. Yesterday he started to lightly sidestep around furniture and even turned to step from an ottoman to a chair just a foot or so away as Dad had some food for him. Progress, progress…  : )  I’ll add a picture of him later today.

Our Move From Washington To Kansas

Our last day at our home in Oroville, WA was spent moving in a flurry. We had three hired men come and help load the ABF trailer, our sweet neighbor Rosie brought over some cookies, cooked chicken and some apples from our other neighbor Carol. I was so grateful for this as I didn’t want to really take the time to make lunch. When the movers were gone, the house empty and the kids loaded into the SUV and truck, Matthew and I went back in for one last look. I went from room to room and when I got to Benjamin’s room I started to cry. This was my baby boy’s room and I was overcome by emotion. I went to the kids room next door where some of our kids slept but all of the kids had made into their playroom during the day. I wept. It was so very hard to leave because at the moment those rooms signified our children and what they mean to me. As we drove out, Matthew told later that he looked in the mirror and saw the home and prayed and thanked God. I was sobbing in the SUV ahead of him. I am glad we are gone, very grateful. Whenever I refer to something from that house my mouth says the home in Westport… it’s like it skipped over the home. I can’t remember it much and don’t want to. What mattered to me there was our children and our neighbors…. dear, sweet neighbors. It’s so hard to make relationships and leave. You never know what people will mean to you when you meet them but you sure know what they mean to you when you part.

The next morning after spending the night in a hotel, we went to sign at Baines Title and Escrow to be released from the home. We then drove down the 97 to Redmond, Oregon and visit with my mother – Grandma Pam. We had a wonderful time with her that evening and the following day at the park where we spent 4 1/2 hours there. p1030341

It was a beautiful day and the kids enjoyed playing while we all chatted and had lunch together.

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Even Benjamin enjoyed his time at the park. p1030332

Here’s a picture of the kids and I with Grandma Pam… p1030331

Another with the kids, grandma and my husband… p1030338

My mother saw this as a good shot – the twins (they may have been in trouble and having to sit down). p1030324

Hot kids from playing all day…p1030325p1030326p1030343

Sweetie taking a nap in the warm outdoors. p1030346

My mother and I hadn’t seen each other since the year before so it was hard to say goodbye. I cried. We had spent some good time together and I think with us getting older, our relationship means more to us than it ever has. After driving East for a couple of hours, I could see the Three Sisters mountains that she had showed me the day before. I kept seeing them get farther away and felt sad, I felt like we were moving so far from her. It hurt. I kept looking in the mirror at the mountains…. I should have taken a picture.

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One of our first stops after leaving Grandma, the kids were running around at this rest stop. An 80 year old man walked out of the restroom and started to run in circles like a kid with the children. He ran and ran, waving his arms for several minutes saying, “Can you imagine that, an 80 year old man running?” He was sweet. It was fun. p1030355

The kids still riled up from the funny man. We had a good time. When we got on the road again, I noted that I couldn’t see the Three Sisters Mountains anymore.  : (

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Then, when we were 3 hours out of Idaho we came across this park. A good place to eat and stretch our legs. The fountain of youth must be in Oregon… look at the older man climbing the ladder to the slide.

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Look at him sliding down… I felt free to be gone from our home, it didn’t seem real but oh, it was. And it was such a joy to see these older men having such a good time.  What a delight!

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The kids eating lunch… p1030367p1030365

Benjamin’s eyes are read from not taking his normal naps. Poor baby…

Next post on our arrival to Kansas…

 

A HOME BEFORE HOME

Oh my, we are having too much fun. What a reprieve we are having. We got a great monthly winter rate (cheaper than the hotels)  at this wonderful place:  http://www.thewoodward.com/   We are staying in the “Garden Guesthouse Two”. We have the upstairs and the downstairs and have plenty of beds to spread out, two kitchens and the homiest decor around. This is just a dream after being in hotels next to a man who sleeps all day so we had to tiptoe and put socks on the door latches to they wouldn’t hit too hard.  : (  After being turned down from probably 20 requests I put in for cheap vacation homes on homeaway.com (probably due to the ratio of kids to adults), the owner of these beautiful homes was open arms in letting us rent one of her homes. Her name is Elisabeth and she greeted me with a big hug, she’s a Christian too.  : ) After taking us into this home and making us feel at home right away, she took us down the street to her own home which she purchased 23 years ago and has hosted weddings, used as a B&B for years and served wonderful meals. It was by far one of the most beautiful homes I’d ever been in. It was just breathtaking to see all the beautiful woodwork and stained glass, high ceilings with arches everywhere. She bought her place when it was ready to fall apart and lovingly restored it. She then bought a home here and there on this block – two (this one), that she bought for only $2,000. What I like the most is that she loves what she does, she shared that it is her ministry and she loves meeting new people and serving them. How special. Anyways, we are just so happy to feel at home now. Now I can catch up on some e-mails and feel at home before we get in our home. What a joy and what a blessing it is to be here. I can’t tell you how it felt to buy things like butter and meat and spinach for salad today to put in the two kitchens (one in the upper unit and one in the bottom).

Now that we are settled, I’ll put out my camera cable tomorrow and start catching up on the blog soon.

Furnished Home

We are getting into a furnished B&B/vacation type home tomorrow for the duration of our wait to get into our home December 1st. I do not know if it has internet so if it doesn’t, I won’t be able to write e-mails or respond to any. If it does have internet, I’ll delete this post.  :)

 

WE FOUND A HOME

We put an offer on a home and it was accepted. It is 135K less than the one in Washington… while we wanted one much cheaper, this home has a second home on it in which my mother can stay when she is ready… she has Parkinson’s disease. I always wanted a second home to help others and to help my mother. It is very close to Topeka so my husband would be 15 minutes from the VA hospital instead of 4 1/2 hours…. I am going to have to adjust with having to go from going to Walmart with a town of 1,500 to a Walmart in a city with 127,000.  : (  That is my heart pain right now, but God has a plan for us here to help others… it’s not all about us and that’s what we’re trying to remember. The house is the most beautiful home we’ve ever been in with so much character. It’s like a French Victorian in excellent shape and craftsmanship. Matthew is very pleased with the structure of it…. it was built in 1880 but is solid like it was built yesterday. Nothing, absolutely nothing needs to be fixed.  It has 18 acres, a park like pond… very pretty, not like the typical muddy pond in Kansas, some barn like structures and two beautiful silos with ivy or something growing up them. I’d show the listing pictures but they are so bad, they don’t show a good representation of the house at all. I’ll share pictures when we move in or when the Inspector shows us what needs to be fixed. We looked at homes from 55K to 200K here and found to our disappointment after 25+ homes that they had water flowing in basements bad enough you could float a rubber ducky in it, floors so crooked that the fridge was tipped against the wall, horrible, horrible structural problems, smells of mold or just too tiny for our family (1400 sq ft with no basement or storage). The realtor shared that it is few are far in between that you could find a home for under 200K in Kansas anymore that are in decent shape… we have seen this and contemplated going elsewhere. So, while we really wanted a much cheaper home, it’s still going to give us an extra $700+ more a month to our benefit…. and we get an extra house on the property to help others. Now we’re trying to figure out if we have to stay in motels until December when the house closes or what to do. It’s hard to rent when they want you in a home for a year and we don’t want to bring the ABF truck out until we get into the home…. so that’s our update. I am only able to type now because we don’t have to drive to Timbucktoo to look at homes anywhere… oh, the miles and miles of endless dirt roads with my GPS not working and taking me in circles, kids getting carsick, having to use the bathroom, change diapers with no running water…. Whew. We’re done with the hard part. One of the kids had to go potty so we stopped to let her go in the potty seat, I decided to go as we were in nowheresville and here comes a truck. I had to cover myself, it got on my dress…. : (  I tipped hot tea all over myself in the hotel to the point of very red skin, I tipped over a bowl of oatmeal on the floor as I was preparing it in the motel lobby… I am never a clutz (my husband is somewhat naturally), but this move brought it out in me. Just overdone. Please pray for something other than the hotels for us until we get moved in. We are spending $1000 a week on the two side by side hotel rooms. We are in separate buildings at the same hotel right now as there are 3 events going on in Topeka right now. We’re in Holton Kansas, a very lovely town just North of Holton – we were able to take the kids to the park this morning for a good run around after sitting in the cars for over 2 weeks. They are acting up of course and talking back more than normal… pray for them too. It’s hard on them as well. Thank you….