Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Wonderful Brent

We were supposed to close on our house today, but as you know that's not happening.

Well, I do have the sweetest fiance ever, and it turns out he's been working on a house-warming present for me for quite some time. He knows how much I've been missing my family and friends, so he made a beautiful collage as a great reminder and tribute to them. He hasn't even gotten to meet everyone in the pictures yet, but has heard stories of how important they are to me!

As you can imagine, I cried when he gave this to me! We've talked about framing some of my photographs as art for our home, and haven't started doing that yet, but he's been gathering up these pictures for a bit for this wonderful gift! This collage is about 3 feet tall and will look good in any future home we have!

Thank you, Brent, for loving me so well!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Highest Highs to Lowest Lows

(this post got long, but there's a bit of life-changing news to share)

If you've been with me on blogger for a while, you might have heard me mention that most things in life relate to music or movie lyrics or titles. This past week it's been Chris Tomlin's song "Indescribable" and the first line "From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea". It's actually my National Park song (I highly recommend playing it as you drive through a National Park), but this week it's all I can think of.

The highest of highs, to the lowest of lows.

Actually, since time helps heal all wounds, I'd say it's not the lowest low. Close, but not quite. The week did seem to start out that way, but it's a little better now. Let me clarify... In fact, let me start at the beginning...

Last weekend Brent and I were able to go to Fergus with the purpose of getting our engagement pictures done. We went to my parents house on Friday night, then left by 7:30 am on Saturday for Fergus (and if you know me, you know that's pretty early in my world!). We had a GREAT photo session with Eric Strom, so I'm checking daily for the previews on their blog. If you want to check with me, look here.

After the photo session, we were able to have lunch at Dairyland (where, by the way, Brent was proven right. I actually DO know everyone in Fergus Falls!), we registered for our wedding at Nordic Galleri, and we went around town to compare some prices for things related to the wedding. We were invited to Ryan and Jenn's for dinner and that was a fun adventure, as always, with their active family! One highlight was seeing A's flower-girl dress, and then watching her and her sister show us their tumbling skills (not in the dress... it was a separate activity). It is SOOOOO good to spend time with friends! After dinner we went to Candis and Wally's place, where we were staying. It's so wonderful to be at their place as it's easy and relaxing, and Candis and I could chat weddings while Brent and Wally talked theology. THANK YOU again for letting us stay there, and for the yummy sweet rolls!

Sunday morning we got to go to Bethel, and I was so looking forward to this. I really wanted Brent to experience worshipping at the church that feels most like home to me. And, I was really excited for him to meet many of my friends there. I have to say, I walked in the door and felt so embraced with love. THANK YOU to those of you that helped that! Thank you for welcoming me home, and thank you for welcoming Brent so well!

Yes, we were the last to leave the church (almost), and then we hopped right in the car for the eight hour drive back to Appleton. While in the car, we talked about the wonderful weekend. We weren't able to see everyone (we were only there 24 hours with an agenda), but we completed everything on the agenda, and we left feeling so incredibly loved. I'm getting used to Appleton, but the weekend was just what I needed.

On the ride home, I made the statement to Brent "I am just so amazed at how everything is working out even better than we could've ever imagined. Everything is falling into place so well. What an incredible blessing."

Then Monday morning came...

Before the school day started, Brent was told that his position as Director of Library Media Services would be cut. He works at both schools in a smaller district near Appleton, doing all the library stuff and also teaching some technology classes as well. His position along with two others would be cut down in hours significantly due to budget deficits in the district.

We found this out 10 days before we were to close on our dream house.

Monday became very busy trying to contact the realtor and lenders, knowing that with him at 50% of his current salary, we couldn't buy the house. It breaks my heart to give it up, but I knew instantly that's what we needed to do. We can't get into the commitment of a house if we're not even sure what he'll be doing or where the next job might be located.

We then had a few days of lots of back and forth with the lender, ups and downs emotionally, and Friday we found out that we can get out of buying the house. I'm sad that I won't get to live in my dream home, but so relieved that now we're able to move forward with our next decisions without feeling stuck to one location due to home-ownership.

We feel like there are 1000 questions to answer, and we're at number 50. We've already answered the first bunch: Can we actually commit to a 30-year mortgage when Brent doesn't have a fulltime job? Can we get out of a house that we've promised to buy? Will the sellers sue us for backing out?

Now we're able to move on to the next bunch: Where should we live? What will Brent do for work? If he's been thinking about getting out of education (he's been wondering that) what would he like to do and what career will match his skill-sets? Sure, he could stay at the 50% position and find something to supplement it, but maybe this is the time to start out on a new adventure. Should we look for jobs outside of Appleton since I miss family and friends in Minnesota so much? If I stay in my apartment where will Brent live since he was going to move in here when I move to the house?

Will this change any of our specific plans with the wedding? Should we just get married now since then we only need to find ONE place to live? We have all the money set aside for our wedding so that we can walk away from that day without it causing us any debt. Praise the Lord! But, can I justify spending that if we might need it for food in a few months? Do we still invite all the people we've been planning on or do we cut it down to a super small number? Would I be happy with that? If we still have the larger sized wedding will our guests understand if we have less food at the reception? Do we even need to do that if the money's there and now we don't need a house down-payment or start-up costs for the house so there's even more cash?

Obviously a thousand questions and we're trying to take them one by one. Some moments I'm very calm about the whole thing, knowing with certainty that the Lord has His hand in all this, and other times I get a bit overwhelmed. If you talk to any bride 2 months before the wedding she's probably starting to get a bit stressed, and now throw in the fact that the groom is without a job and that there's no place to live and you can imagine the stress level increases by leaps and bounds. But, I can live in truth. The truth is that the Lord has a path set out for us, and we need to just keep taking each step, trusting that He'll be guiding our way. We know that to be true. I also have been going back to what I talked about in this post.

Will you pray for us? Pray for wisdom and faith for both of us. Pray for Brent as he considers his career future and what that might look like. Pray for the students in his district that will now be lacking in a few areas. Pray for unity in our decision-making. This is going to be a hard way to start a marriage and sure adds a lot of stress to the last 2+ months to the wedding. The answers we DO know are that we still love each other very much and will be leaning on the Lord and one another so much more during this hard time! I'm so thankful we're in this together!

Thank you for praying for us. We're so thankful to be surrounded by family and friends during all this!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Three Months

I have really wonderful friends! This great countdown to the wedding was made by Jenn, a friend since high school. It's hard to believe it's only three months until I get to marry Brent. Sometimes it seems like that time will just fly by, and other times it feels like it will take FOREVER! :)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sunny California!

I'm in California right now with Brent, introducing him to Jim and Marilyn and seeing other family as well. We got to go to Laguna Beach today! I LOVE THE OCEAN!! I've missed it and have realized that I'm definitely someone who needs to be near water. I'm glad we have a huge lake (25+ miles long) right near us, and our new house is just a few blocks from the river.

But, there's something so wonderful about being at the ocean! Here's a little preview to our fun vacation:

It's back to winter in Wisconsin tomorrow, but I'm so thankful for this fun time away!