936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
This past week my family moved from Milwaukee, where my husband and I met, fell in love, married, and had two beautiful boys, to Kansas City– a strange and confusing land we do not know.
My husband, Grayson, was offered an internship with a mission organization we have grown to love over the past four years. This is the opportunity we’ve been praying for since we got married, and so we found ourselves leaving behind everything we knew and heading south.
Forgive me if my thoughts seem fragmented. As I write this out, I am at the same time for myself processing through the events, thoughts, and emotions of this past week. So here goes my best shot; here is the story of our move.
I was excited at the prospect of entering a new phase of life, but I had no idea how difficult it would be to say goodbye to our current phase. The week of the move we had family and friends stopping by and lending a hand, but each visit brought with it an inevitable goodbye.
And so began the most difficult, and possibly the most emotional week of my life. When once I realized just how arduous this week would be, I determined that amidst the tears and hardships we would encounter, I would capture the moments to be cherished.
I found solace in those brief moments of pause hidden in the chaos; the moments I told myself to stop packing and play on the floor with my boys.
The time I laid down with my two-year-old, my fingers entwined in his white curls, trying to calm his frightened and confused heart with an episode of Chip And Dale. He had awoken from his nap to find his nursery walls eerily bare, the adorning decorations he’d known since birth now packed away in boxes, and he was scared. So was I, but I dared not let him catch on to my fears.
In the great disorder I found refuge in my infant’s schedule; it was one of the few things I could still predict. Despite the chaos which was our life, every three hours my little boy would nurse. As he was soothed, so was I; a constant calm in the midst of frenzy. He was completely unaware of all of the change ensuing around him; oblivious to the uncertainty. At times I envied him.
However, I’m not so fortunate. In fact I am brutally aware of the uncertainty surrounding our move. Yet this chapter of our life is a huge part of my family’s story, and I have resolved to make it into a time we will look back on fondly, however difficult it may be. It is an essential stepping stone laid down on the path God is guiding my family down.
For months I have pictured the morning of October 1st so vividly in my mind. For the first time, I would drive down our street. We would pull into our driveway. We would receive the keys to our first home!
That afternoon, Ezekiel would run and play in his big, fenced-in yard with his own trees and my garden! We would watch him play as we took a break from unpacking to sit on our deck.
With each day passing we found ourselves one more day closer to that morning, and my excitement grew ever greater; the roots of anticipation digging themselves deeper as I allowed the reality to set in–we were buying a home!
But then October 1st came, and things weren’t exactly how I had pictured them. In fact, instead of driving up to our adorable little property, I was vacuuming out cat hair and bird feathers from a mangy carpet in a musty old apartment that I loathed!
Instead of sipping a perfect cup of coffee out on our quaint deck, I found myself cursing the cat who left his entire coat of hair, and somehow the hair of all his mangy feline friends, on what are now my carpets—the carpets my children will roll, crawl, and play upon.
Let me back up a couple of days. You see, our house fell through. We were told on Friday, two days before our move, and four days before we were to receive our keys, that we were not going to get this house. My house.
With the loss of our house came a loss of all motivation to pack. The only thing that kept me pressing on and filling those boxes was the harsh reality that we had to be out of our current apartment in two days. We had no home.
Through a connection, we were told there was an apartment available to move into as soon as we reached Kansas City. It seemed like the perfect scenario, for a Plan B, anyways. The lady who owns the building was quick to admit to us, “I make a terrible landlord”, only because she doesn’t ask for security deposits, she doesn’t require leases, and we can move out whenever we want. Sketch? Sure. But it’s exactly what we needed.
The downside to not requiring security deposits? Renters don’t clean before moving out, thus explaining the cat hair. Although we could move in that day, the apartment was hardly move-in ready. The landlord rushed to get it clean, asking the tenants below to run up there and wipe things off.
She hired her friend to rent a carpet cleaning machine and run it over the carpets (while we were moving our things in). I think it only served to “freshen up” the cat hair. Before leaving she asked us this rather important question: “You guys do know that you’re, well, in ‘The Hood’, right?” We had figured that much out.
And then I turned on the kitchen faucet to find brown water. I gagged at the discovery of cat poop caked into the carpet of what would be Ellison’s room. The door to the outside balcony was missing for two days. The old tenant showed up here and there to replace some stained ceiling tiles. As he removed the bowed, stained tiles, roofing materials dropped down from above, leaving our kitchen coated in black dust, and completely unusable.
And then Zeke took a tumble down the concrete steps.
Oh, and the place needed to be bug-bombed, so we spent the first evening in a hotel. It was a third night spent in a different place, and all of us were feeling the physical and emotional toll of having no place to call home. I commented to my husband that I felt as though we were living out of our car. “No we’re not,” he countered. “Well, at least not like the family we saw bathing in the fountain at the park.” He had a point. I guess things could actually be worse.
I dreaded returning to our grimy apartment, only to be met by the brown water coming from the faucet, pigeons living in the wall behind our stove, and shards of glass on our balcony. It was anything but welcoming. My husband said to me at one point, “Think of it as camping. What’s the best part about camping? Going home!” I couldn’t wait to have a place to go home to.
At times my anxiety grew too much to bear, and I simply succumbed to my anguish, allowing it to overtake me. There was just too much disappointment for what was supposed to be a celebratory week. When tears sprung to my eyes, my husband would hold me, console me, assure me we’d be fine; we’d find a home. He was our strength, keeping us afloat in a great sea of uncertainty.
But then he got food poisoning.
Right when I thought things could not get worse, I awoke from fitful sleep during the first night in our apartment to sounds of my husband hurling in the bathroom. Because we had been on the road for days, and now our kitchen was under construction and we could not cook, we’d been living off a diet of Jimmy Johns, IHop, and Chipotle. Our stomachs were weary of road food.
The next morning Grayson had to cancel a job interview that had been scheduled for months. He was basically out of commission for two days. I sunk deeper into exhaustion and confusion as to how, exactly, we found ourselves in our current situation.
I was in a perpetual state of processing, and I wondered if this is what it’s like for my infant. So new to the world around him; absolutely everything is new and unfamiliar, and he doesn’t know whether he should be afraid or excited, or whether something is good–or harmful. It is too much for him to process, and so he breaks down. This is how I felt.
Then came Wednesday, and with it came a new resolve. I had had enough of my own moping around, and I needed a distraction from my festering misery.
And so I cleaned. Boy–did I ever clean! For three hours I deep-cleaned our kitchen, removing from it years of grime and filth. On my hands and knees, I buffed out shoe skid marks with magic erasers. I used all the elbow grease at my disposal to scrub the base boards. I guarantee that stove has not shined as it does now in many, many years.
With a clean kitchen came a new perspective. Maybe, just maybe, this place was not so bad.
This past week, I have muttered my fair share of four-letter words. I have yelled at Zeke for the smallest of annoyances. I have mumbled and grumbled, and made my great dismay known to my husband by both my words, actions, and silence. My heart has been ugly.
And then I turned to the Lord. Why–oh why does it take me so long to turn to the Lord?
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Psalm 27:14
Oh heart, take courage.
In this unfamiliar place. In uncertainty. In the face of fear. Take courage; it is there for the taking, sitting on the throne of grace.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
With a clean kitchen and a clean heart, things began to look up. Slowly our apartment transformed into a home.
I washed the windows and hung a shower curtain. We acquired some furniture. An older gentleman sold us a kitchen table, he also gave us some home-grown tomatoes from his garden. We bought a couch. We washed a load of laundry. We cooked our first meal in our kitchen. We put up some decorations, and hung a chicken on the kitchen wall.
Months ago we bought a painting at an art auction benefit. It was an impulse buy. We never hung it in our old apartment because we could never find for it a spot on the wall; because, well–it is dark and creepy.
We hung it in our new apartment. Stepping back, we were surprised to find that it somehow fits perfectly in our new home. “This apartment was made for that painting.” Grayson said. I’m not sure what that says about our new place, but somehow, our creepy painting has found a home.
This has been the most trying week of my life. In 2,200 words I have hardly done justice to the great span of emotions I have experienced, or the great lessons I’ve learned.
Last week when we first found out we were not getting the house, I found console in reminding myself that home is not the building or location we find ourselves in, rather home is wherever I am with my family.
I was tested in that this week. I failed that test. I stopped rejoicing because of circumstances. But in God I found strength and refuge. And I am reminded now, at the end of this arduous, trying week, that I am home. Because at the end of it all, I am with my three men. And I would not trade this adventure with them for anything.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!