Saturday, June 5, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Last night I was sitting on the couch and Josh walked in with two champagne flutes. Clearly sensing my confusion he said, "One year ago today we didn't get married, but we..." expecting me to fill in the blank. Instead, he got a blank expression. "We closed on the house!" he exclaimed. Actually, that's not exactly what he said. He actually reminded me of how he drove 27 hours in a Uhaul to get our stuff up here, which I am truly thankful for. You see, we were getting married the following weekend and it was really important for him to have a home to bring me to afterwards. I stayed back in Florida to get all of the last minute wedding details taken care of and he moved all of our stuff in so that I could officially come home after the wedding. It was one of the most thoughtful, generous things he has ever done for me- and he has done many.

So last night we sat in the living room and reminisced a bit about the first year in our home. The changes we've made, the obstacles we faced (although we had surprisingly few), and the good times we've had here. I don't think either one of us would have ever guessed that our first home would be in Small Town, Illinois, but man it's been a good year! The funny part about it is that the first time we ever visited this town for Josh's job interview, I was 100% convinced that we would not be moving here. I was under the impression that we would be right outside of Chicago, but "right outside" meant about two hours west. Think Iowa. We had an interview with the elders at the main campus, which was pretty standard and not unlike any of the other interviews we had been to, and then we drove down to the town where our campus would be. On the drive I sat in the backseat with one of the other pastor's wives and while she chatted my ear off, I stared out the window at the rows and rows and rows and rows and rows of corn! Field after field, barn after bar, farmhouse after farmhouse, cow pasture after cow pasture, and corn as far as the eye could see. Well actually, the corn was between harvest and replanting so they were mostly empty fields with chopped down cornstalks, but you get the point. When we finally arrived into town, I was blown away by how small it was! I spent a few of my childhood years in a small town in Louisiana, but this one seemed tiny in comparison! Aside from Main Street, which I thought was adorable, there was nothing to see! There was not a mall, much less a department store, and hardly any place to eat aside from Dairy Queen (which I am a fan of, so that might have been a plus) and a Hardee's! On the drive back to the main campus, my mind was made up... there was no way we would be moving here.

That evening we attended the church service at the main campus and everything turned around. The music was outstanding, the energy was electric, and the message was literally written just for me. I think I've told this story before in a previous post but I will tell it again because it was one of the most powerful moments of my life and one of the few times that I knew without a doubt that I was listening to the voice of God. The question at the end of the message was, what have you ever sacrificed for the kingdom of God? And BAM! Just like that I felt so convicted and absolutely certain that this was where we needed to be. We walked out of service (after I managed to clean up my face after bawling through the last two songs!) and we were bombarded by a group of people who had driven an hour and half to come to church from the town in which we would be planting our campus. They were SO excited to meet us, so enthusiastic, and genuinely happy- er, ecstatic rather- that we were there. It was incredible to be surrounded by so much love from a group of people we had just met.

I flew home the next day (Sunday) and Josh would be staying until Wednesday. Before I left I told him that if the job was offered, he had better take it! He felt the same way (way sooner than I did actually, but he let me make up my own mind before pressing his opinions on me... see? Isn't he the best?). And so when he came back to Florida, it was with the news that we would be heading northwest in the near future.

A couple of weeks later we both traveled back to look for a house. We literally had one day to find one because I couldn't stay long. We had whittled down our list from the Internet to a manageable size and Josh drove by a few of them the day before my arrival to narrow our search further. When he passed by our house, he called the realtor and wanted to see it immediately! It was in the next town over, which is a little bit bigger (meaning it has a McDonald's and a Wal-Mart) and was basically on the list as a far-fetched wish. Upon touring it, Josh was in love. When I got into town, it was the first house he took me to look at. Because of this, compounded with the fact that he told me not to act too excited about any of them (for negotiating purposes... which we have since learned that I'm the much better negotiator than he is due to the fact that he can't hide his excitement the way I can) I walked through it stone faced. In all honesty, it was at the top of our price range, so I didn't want to get my hopes up. He was so disappointed that I "didn't like it as much as he did," but again, I was just trying to act cool and did not have anything to compare it to. For the rest of the day we visited jackpot after jackpot, not finding anything that would even come close to the one we both loved. After sleeping on it, we decided to put a (fairly lowball) offer on it the next morning and spent the morning doing paperwork with the realtor. That evening as I sat on a plane waiting to depart (again, Josh was staying an extra few days), a text message lit up my cell phone screen and it said, "THEY ACCEPTED OUR OFFER!!!". At which time I was told to turn off my cell phone and had to wait a whole three and a half hours to call him and scream with excitement. It all happened so fast, and very easily, and was just meant to be. And now we joke that we can never move because we both love this place way too much. I guess we'll be in Small Town, Illinois forever!

Just for fun and in honor of this anniversary, I searched through our photos and pulled out some of the improvements that we've made over the past year. Here they are, in no particular order:

For insurance purposes (and aesthetics) we were told that our porch needed a railing. Here is the front of the house before:

And after. Thanks to our brother-in-law, sister, nephews, and mom for helping us out!

Due to the dogs (well dog (singular) actually) running rampant in the neighborhood, a fence was one of my top priorities. Here's our yard before:

And after. Remember this post? I love our yard now! Granted, Teeny is still finding every tiny spot she can squeeze through to escape, but aside from that, it really has completed our backyard.
This purple bedroom had to go (note: this is a picture from when we looked at the house... it's not our furniture but I forgot to take a before picture with our actual furniture):

And here it is now. We think this will be Jake's room once he's out of the nursery, but for now it's one of our guest bedrooms. It still needs some decor, and I've already figured out what that entails, so it will get there eventually.

I did this post awhile back... our upstairs bathroom before:

And after. The colors did not come out in the picture, but you get the idea.

And the biggest project of all? Jake's room! Oh my gosh, it was such a mess and took us months! One project led to another from wallpaper removal, to patching and spackling holes in the walls, to putting up an entirely new ceiling and crown molding. Here's the disaster before... check out the awesome paint color combination:

And after... now my favorite room in the house by far!

So we've come a long way and there is still so much that we want to do. Eventually we'd like to build a deck out back, plant some raised gardens along the fence corners, plant flowers in the front flowerbeds, and redo the gutters just to name a few. I also have my own long-term wish list which includes updating the bathrooms (although Josh would choose to update the kitchen first) and turning an upstairs bedroom into a master bathroom, closet, and laundry room. I doubt we'll ever see that last one happen unless we live here for thirty years, but a girl can dream, can't she? Regardless of what gets done from here, we feel so blessed to have this place to call home. It's the place where Josh carried me over the threshold and it's the first home of our little Jake. But the part I like best is the two people and pups who live inside of it with me... now that is what I call home sweet home.
Feel free to come visit us anytime... if the door-knocker says "The Mauney's" on it (thanks, Mindy), you've come to the right place.

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