Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Team Dreamers

So many of you are so dear to continue to ask about an update on our house in Nashville. It is with great JOY that we share with you the most recent update...we are going to be LANDLORDS!! Yes, the Lord has led us to rent out our house instead of sell it - at this time. After more than ten showings (and still zero offers), we sent out an email a few weeks ago to a bunch of our contacts in Nashville to keep praying for the Lord to either bring a buyer by the end of August or for it to be made clear for us to put renters in our house. Within a few short hours, a sweet Nashville friend responded to our email and said that this in fact was sent at just the perfect time...she and her roommates are looking for a house to move into in September!! God is sooo good.
Our First Home ... Nashville, TN 

To sum it up in a few words or less...the theme of this whole process lately has brought it to the surface of how God has made Brandon to be a DREAMER and how God has made me to be Brandon’s SUPPORT. Brandon shared with me over a month ago how the Lord kept laying it on his heart to possibly rent out the house (if God brought along the right renters, to sign at least a year’s lease, and so on and so forth)... The “get ‘er done” part of me thought it would be best to sell the house and be finished with it - once and for all. One night when we were at dinner, B looked me in the eyes and said, “Babe, you know I’m a dreamer. I feel that the Lord has put this on my heart as a way for us to have a rental property as an investment piece - and actually make money in the long run from something that could have originally been taking a hit. I need you to pray about this as well and get on board with seeing what the Lord is showing me!!” WOW...that’s all I needed to hear...HE needed ME to get on board with him and his it! Hearing it put like that, I was all in!! After much prayer, seeking advice and wisdom from people more seasoned than us who do this kind of thing for a living, we have continued to be affirmed in this thought and encouraged to move forward. 

It’s been SUCH a neat process for this “Team Dreamers” unit and we truly could not have done this without love and respect for one another - and continued encouragement and support through the people we have sought counsel from - and each other. We are happy to share with you that these precious renters will be moving in during the month of September and living there for a year! Then we will re-evaluate on whether or not we want to continue filling the house with renters OR try and sell it. Speaking from where we are at this very moment, we like the idea of continuing to rent it out. We love, too, that this will be a tangible way for us to be plugged in and connected still with our very first home and a city we love so much. Thank you for your prayers and all the times you’ve checked in on the status of this whole process. We feel very blessed. 

Closing statement from the man of the house: “If Whit is not on my side, my dreams would die. And who knows what might happen if my Whit would just believe, trust, and share my dreams!! Ladies, be aware when your main shares a dream. Keep in mind that we don’t talk much anyways - much less, share something so vulnerable as a ‘dream’ don’t miss it when it comes!! Seize the opportunity for adventure with your man and see what God will do!! I can’t wait to see where the Lord takes this team of dreamers!”

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Lord Determines Our Steps!!

“In his {her} heart a man {woman} plans his {her} course, but the LORD determines his {her} steps.” -Proverbs 16:9
Resumes, interviews, emails, calls, networking meetings and so forth have been the theme of the song since we set foot in our new city of Birmingham in June. Well, the resume first got edited back in April when we had first accepted Brandon’s new job and knew we’d be moving. There have been days when it felt like we were in a “drought”...not just because it was 100+ degrees in the state of Alabama and it hadn’t rained in a few days...but because there weren’t tons of opportunities available at certain times. Then we’d go in and out of times of feeling like there were definitely solid options and neat opportunities on the table - but still not totally something I could get behind 110% and be completely passionate about. 
Then around two weeks ago the flood gates opened wide and interviews galore started happening - and every other phone call was a new exciting door opening. We really began praying for opened AND closed doors. When you’ve ever walked this road, you know what we mean when we say that closed doors are just as much of a blessing as the opened doors. It was a true answer to prayer to get the opportunity to interview multiple times with amazing organizations in Birmingham like Samford University, Children’s Hospital, Lululemon Athletica and so forth. Then a curve ball came out of no where and it was one day when I received a call from a local chiropractor that I had visited back in July when I was “interviewing” chiropractors to see  if they’d be a good fit to be our new family chiropractor. It was a God-thing that she had remembered me and asked me to interview for her “Wellness Education Coordinator” position. She and I hit it off from the start, she is a believer, she is passionate about health and wellness, and I could name a number of ways God was answering our prayers through her. Not wanting to rush into any decisions - and wanting to dot every “i” and cross every “t” - we gave it some time since our last meetings and I continued to go to other interviews and really be open to any and all of these opportunities that were on the other side of the open doors.

After countless hours of prayer, weighing pro’s and con’s, talking with mentors, hearing wise words from parents, and consulting with my dear suitable helper about our family’s future and the best long-term fit...I happily accepted a position with Chiropractic Today!! Brandon and I are SO very excited about this opportunity to share with the Birmingham community the positive message of how to live a healthy lifestyle. God has given us a real passion and energy for this topic...we’ll save our personal “health & wellness testimony” for another blog post!! In the meantime, we wanted to personally thank each and every one of YOU for all your prayers, emails, calls, texts, and words of encouragement to us during these months. It’s never easy to go from two jobs and one house to two houses and one job...but oh can we ever testify to how the Lord provides...He is SO very faithful. As Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a man’s {woman’s} heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” ...AMEN!!
Closing statement from the man of the house: “I’m so proud of my wife and admire her for her hard she has treated this job search as a full-time job! I’m thankful for her desire to work and testify to her living as the Proverbs 31 woman with ‘no time for idle hands’. It means a lot to me that she uses her talents for a great purpose and for a source of income. One of the main things we have been looking for in this new job is something that will keep us functioning as a team and promoting our marriage in a healthy way. We are so thankful to God for His faithfulness to provide!!”

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

We Have To Be On Guard

This week has been full of eye-opening occurrences with bill after bill where we must be on guard about where our money is going. As you may have read before, in our post “It’s That Time Of The Month...Get Your Budget On!!”, we are big budget people. The boundaries don’t frustrate us, they give us freedom. Each month we sit down and go line by line through our account and put each charge in one of four columns: Food, Other, Fuel, and Income. Then on our main spreadsheet we have our monthly bills and so forth. We can see from month-to-month how much our usual bills are. In other words, it’s flat out obvious when a bill is super high. You take into account, “Did you have the AC on more due to the hot temperatures? Did you go over on your minutes on your cell phone?” and so forth. 

Our next purchase is going to be a new washing machine...

Well, this month it seemed like there was a discrepancy here, there, and everywhere...from the Dish Network...and so on. We had our marching orders set out for us the next day - phone calls that we needed to make to get to the bottom of this. There are always these little charges they try and slide in - which is why we have to be on guard. We have decided to go back to the “old school” way of writing a check for each of our bills instead of having the auto draft payment option. When you have auto draft, they go ahead and charge you (even if the amount is wrong) which takes even more time to spend time on the phone to jump through the hoops to get the refunds. For instance, our Verizon bill for June was over $600 and that was because they did not switch us to Unlimited talk and text in our plan (like we had asked them to) when we bought Brandon’s new phone in May. Now we have spent two months jumping through hoops to get the credit and it’s hard to know what our actual bill should be. Brandon and I were genuinely heartbroken as we saw the sin of the world so clearly through these bill discrepancies and deceitful ways of people trying to get extra dollars here and there. We have seen that we can’t put a ‘blanket’ statement over the fact of all people in all businesses trying to slide in a trick here or there. But we can say that it’s a battle out there and we have to be on guard. better believe we're doing our homework & finding the best bang for our buck!!

A few days after we went through this whole process with the budget, I was walking out of the Whole Foods and did a quick look over my receipt. I noticed that the bunch of grapes I bought was $8 and the tomato I bought was $6. Are you telling me that ONE tomato and a little bunch of grapes was going to be $14??! Well, I calmly pushed my cart through the double doors and walked around through the other set of doors by the Customer Service desk. I told the ladies that nothing was wrong with these items - I simply couldn’t pay $14 for one tomato and this little bunch of grapes. They totally understood and one of the ladies even told me that the sign by the grapes is deceiving - so much so that she even had to return the grapes she bought earlier in the week when she saw the total price. Goodness gracious!! Point and’s a battle out there. We are learning that we have to look over our bills, receipts, and so forth with a fine tooth comb...and then not to feel bad when we need to bring up a discrepancy. Thankful to have Brandon as our fearless leader. He’s teaching me more and more each day that I can’t worry about what people think. Our end goal is to be good stewards of the money that is on loan to us from the Lord...

Closing statement from the man of the house: “I am thankful that Whit and I are on the same page about how it’s time to ‘go to war’ in a sense, being on guard at every corner for where our hard earned money is going. Ecclesiastes 1:18 says, ‘For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.’ I read this to us the other night - as a way to really put into words what we were feeling about going through our bills and seeing all the little issues.” 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Togetherness Without Words

As we were driving back from a ‘lil weekend getaway at our favorite place [Seaside, Florida], I commented: “Ya know, babe, I really do see that we can be together and enjoying quality time without always talking about something serious or even talking at all” and that’s when Brandon looked at me and said, “Babe, that’s got to be the blog topic for this week!!” 

For the longest time, I did not feel like we were really having great quality time if we were not talking. Growing up in my 'Christian girl bubble'...I had dreamed about the days I would have one day with my husband as we would spend the majority of our time talking about what we’re learning in The Word, when our next trip would be overseas to do missions, which night of the week we’d take dinner to the widow down the street, and so forth. When we were first married, I asked Brandon if we could get involved with some kind of ministry - to really invest our time in together and make an eternal difference. At first, I had pictured us spending time at the Nashville Rescue Mission or something. Little did I know that it would look like me being the Community Relations Manager at Mercy Ministries. Wow - God sure did fulfill my heart’s desire to do something that I was passionate about, that Brandon and I could both be involved in, that was literally our “mission field” in our backyard. 

My comment in the car coming back from the beach was really just to emphasize what special time we had just enjoyed by the ocean - not even talking about “world changer” topics or “how to be a better spouse” type of conversations. It was truly a sweet time to get away and be together - just the two of us - in the midst of a fun and busy summer. A summer that started out with a big move to a new city, weddings, babies, weekends at the lake, trips to California, and so forth. To go to our favorite little corner of the world and just eat cheese, sit in the shade, and read was just what we needed. Speaking of which, not only have I learned over time that you don’t always have to be talking when you’re together to have ‘quality time’...we have BOTH discovered a love for the following three things: cheese, shade and reading. Random...I know! Who would have thought when we were younger that one day we would have an appreciation for a good cheese [FYI: Whole Foods always has great samples of their fantastic cheeses!], that we would rather sit in the "umbrella forest" [Three umbrellas setup on the beach to provide a shady retreat on a hot summer day], and to choose "Summer Reading"...even when the required reading for school days is long gone! I do not think I have ever read a book before watching the movie in the theater...but that is my goal with reading The Help. And Brandon's book of the moment is The Rainmaker by John Grisham. Here's to many more days of enjoying the simple cheese, shade & reading...while spending time with your favorite person...without always using "words"!!

Closing statement from the man of the house: “It was a pretty monumental moment when I realized that it clicked with Whit that quality time together without words is still special quality time. Sometimes at night when I am all 'talked out', I will even mention that I would love to spend time together...without words. Now it's fun to know that Whit gets what I mean by that. I'm not trying to put off having a solid, worthwhile conversation. There are sometimes just times where 'togetherness without words' is what says more than talking things through so much."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Company, Weddings, & Triple Headers

As we came home from our trips to California (my trip to Los Angeles and Brandon’s business trip to San Diego), I was excited about the “chill week” we had to look forward to in Birmingham. I didn’t have a clue how busy the chill week would be as it was packed with fun - yet busy things like having company, a good friends’ wedding weekend, and then a triple header day at the baseball park. Needless to say, there were a few “marriage moments” scattered here and there throughout the week.

One was when we went to pick up Whole Foods for dinner one night because company was coming to the house and we needed some good food (fast!) to eat. Let’s just be honest, I feel completely relaxed and at peace when I go in Whole Foods. I love looking at all the options, sampling the cheeses and the cherries, the color schemes of the store are soothing, and I always leave with a little hop in my step. I’ve noticed the trend lately that Brandon gets in there and feels pretty stressed. He loves the food, the samples, and so forth - but the main difference for him is the fact that the high prices make his heart race. He knows that we could make a piece of salmon, sweet potatoes, and asparagus for a LOT cheaper than we could buy it at the counter of Whole Foods. What I was trying to explain is that buying it there saves us the time of cooking it on these “need something fast” type of nights. The other main difference is that I can get full on a hearty salad there - where he would need to have three hearty salads (and maybe still something from the hot food bar) before he starts to feel satisfied in the stomach. We realized that we were both making good points - and it wouldn’t be a habit to go there for our every need. We will continue to do the majority of our grocery shopping at the Publix and Costco. This is just one of many comparisons where you realize that men and women see things differently sometime. No wonder someone wrote a book called, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.
Another moment that sticks out was when we were about to leave the rehearsal dinner on Friday night. It had been such a fun night and I was looking forward to going home that night and being together before the busy Saturday and Sunday came upon us. It was in the moment of the plan all of a sudden changing that the marriage moment occurred. Brandon decided to go and spend the night with the groom (which I was fully supportive of given all the circumstances) was just that we had planned on this night being the two of us and all of a sudden the plans were changing. The longer we’re married we see how Brandon is a-ok with the sudden change of plans and I like a little advance notice *wink* We were able to talk through all the expectations involved and really see where the other person was coming from - and also practice loving each other in the midst of these tough moments when you feel torn between two things. A huge thing that I am learning for the moments after we have these talks - is that I have to move on and not keep hashing through every detail. Brandon is so quick to forgive and forget with me. Sometimes I notice that it’s hard for me to forgive and truly let something go. In my head, I am often thinking, “I wish I hadn’t said this or that. Does Brandon really forgive me?” and so forth. This weekend I feel like I experienced firsthand the freedom that comes from believing that he has truly forgiven me and then seriously moving on and not being so hard on myself. Part of the Jesus Calling devotional on July 31st said, “Rather than scolding yourself for your humanness, remind yourself that I am both with you and within you.” And Matthew 28:20 reminds us that God is with us always

It’s amazing how as “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17), God brings us closer to himself and to each other. Not that we wanted to wish away the company, the weddings, or the triple header baseball game(s) of this past week and weekend - but it was refreshing to have two “normal” nights on Monday and Tuesday. It really does change everything when you can have quality time with one another and really give each other time to speak and time to listen. It was such a blessing to me on Monday night when Brandon walked in the door from work and wanted to go play tennis and “give me the night off” from cooking and dishes - so we ate dinner out!! Perspective is a funny thing. I probably would not have appreciated the tennis and Chipotle as much as I did this week had it not been for the learning moments of last week. Thank you, Lord, for giving me a husband that is willing to learn as we go and hold my hand as we walk this narrow road together. 
Closing statement from the man of the house: “Whit and I learned a lot about ourselves this past week. In God’s perfect timing, the pastor at the wedding on Saturday read the passage in 1 Corinthians 13 about LOVE. Verses 4-7 say, ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’ We’ve heard this verse our whole lives but it stuck out to us in a whole new way after all we’ve been learning. God is still speaking through the WORD.”