In part 2 of this back story saga, we had just decided to begin homeschooling. I need to tell you that this decision and literally all my big decisions start with a moment of God clarity. What do I mean? I’ve always had this thing-where I have a moment where I know what I’m supposed to do-a conviction if you will. It might be a word dropped quietly into my mind. It might be a swirling twirling feeling in my gut, or just a moment of complete clarity and understanding-like you can see where you’ve come from, and where your going next.
With homeschooling, I was praying, worrying, thinking about the girls school situation. I was considering speaking to the school, the teachers, the principals. The word “homeschool” literally just fell into my brain. I say this because if you knew me then, you would know that I would never have considered homeschooling on my own. Like never. Ever. Never. And then the next sign? Everything fell into place. My husband was on board, the girls were on board, I found my curriculum….I had PEACE.
With this move-yes, I’m finally getting to our move-it was a similar situation, although a much longer and more difficult decision. In fact, thinking back on that time frame almost makes me tear up, because I still have a little sadness about this move. I have peace, but I’m a little sad too. Sometimes we are in valleys where there is a knowing trust, but it’s still an effort, there is a tangeable need for Christ. When all the questions are not all answered, I find myself leaning into my faith so much harder.
So back to the story. When I quit my job and started homeschooling, it was like the light was turned on in our life. We felt suddenly like we understood the value of home, of time together, we also found new freedoms. There was no morning scurry, no yelling at the kids to hurry up, no stress about what to wear everyday. The girls woke up when they woke up. I drank my coffee from my bed, and we’d start school when we started. My husband also started working from home more and more.
We started talking about the possibilities of accessing more of these freedoms. Could Bob work from home full time? Could we do this life from anywhere? Even an RV, perhaps? We also began to explore other ways to make money-at the time, it was a reach into transitioning Bob out of corporate work. We started a vending business with a good friend, and also began to partner with my nephew Joel to find a home in PA to buy as an investment, to rent out. All of this gave my husband some internal hope that perhaps he could pursue other interests-not be bound by the 9-5. In early Spring, a potential house was located near the college in Beaver Falls, PA. It was something ridiculous, like $18,000. A foreclosure.
I need to juxtapose this story with another that was happening at the same time. We had decided that same Spring to attend the men and women’s conference with our church. They were separately held, but identical, one week from each other. Bob went first, but we couldn’t talk about it, because I was going to go the following weekend. When I returned, he left the very next day to head to PA, to potentially close on the foreclosure he and my nephew wanted to buy. Without going into a ton of detail here, these retreats were intense-like breaking into the fault lines of our hearts-spiritually and emotionally. Bob and I had never experienced anything like it together.
Again, this is one of those things-and you’ll just have to trust me, but during this month, this month of retreats, potential house purchasing, I started to have this sense, feeling, thought, foreknowledge….whatever word you like best, and it sounded like this. “We’re going to end up moving to Pennsylvania.” Simple as that. Now. I did not like this message. I was definitely not able to see it at that time. Bob returned from PA, they had decided against the property, so he came home empty handed, so to speak. And I had this weird sadness that the property didn’t work out-a disappointment if you will.
FINALLY, we were going on a date to discuss the retreats. We decided to go to a local pizza place that has a huge tap list-Parry’s Pizza. I spent most of the date in tears. (Bob loves it when I cry on dates). (I have a history). And amidst the discussion of the house, the retreat, everything, I said to him, “I just keep thinking, are we supposed to move?” And we both agreed-it was one of those ideas that had teeth, but neither of us were ready to seriously consider this. We talked about the absolute unbelievable lightness of not having a mortgage, we talked about the chance to really seek freedom, maybe travel. We also talked about how we loved Colorado, our friends, how could we move? My mom had just moved to our neighborhood from Massachussetts not even 3 years earlier. There was no way I could approach her with this hairbrained idea. She would flip. (Her move was very hard-70 years in one town, sold my childhood home, it took a mental toll on her). Top all of that off with Colorado feeling so much like home to us.
The girls and I spent 3 weeks in Pennsylvania in April, soaking up as much time with the family as possible. Bob came for a week, continued to brainstorm with Joel, dream up business ideas. But then spring led to summer, summer led to fall-no investment house purchased, nothing really changed. The lingering hint in my mind had never left, but I had buried it pretty deep, lets just say.
Step 1 in the divine plot to get us to PA:
In November my mom travelled to my sister’s for Thanksgiving. She was gone for nearly a month. It was a busy month for her there, my nephew Sam had been able to bid on and get the house directly next to his brother Joel’s, so exciting-they now owned half of their little street. This meant that Sam and his family would move out of the apartment downstairs from my sister. And little did I know, this is where the family plotting began. Mom and Suzanne cooked up a plan where mom would sell her home in Colorado, and move to PA. This would simplify her expenses, and set her up for the future. My sister was super excited about the idea of having my mom so close.
You can imagine my surprise when mom returned to Colorado and told me. In fact, I was furious! And then like God does, a few minutes later, He reminded me that He just removed the biggest obstacle from us moving to PA. My mom would move first. Unbelievable. Sometimes God can be so annoying.
Step 2 in the divine plot to get us to PA:
So as we were celebrating Christmas, we were beginning to plan my mom’s move. In January, my sister called and said, “Hey Kristin, there is a house near Joel and Sam and it’s up for sale-it’s a foreclosure. Do you want to see if Bob wants us to look at it for an investment?” I remember this moment-I was sitting in bed. Bob was getting ready for work. I asked him, he immediately said, “Sure, why not-have her facetime us when she’s in the house.” This house had a reputation. Both my nephews and my sister had heard that there was some sort of nasty fire or flood in the house, and that it was rotting inside. The house had been abandoned for 5 years. It was ugly, people.
And then the phone rang-it was time to take a look at this wreck. To all of our surprise, it wasn’t nearly as bad as we thought. Yes, there was mold, yes, it was damp, yes, it was UGLY. But-turns out, it had a functioning furnace, new electric, new air, and sanded original hardwood floors! Jackpot! Perfect rental. Our biggest job was to make the outside less pitiful. We decided to make an offer. Since it was only selling for $39,000, we wanted to make a full offer. We’d heard from a realtor that 11 people had bid on the house, but were lowballing. Coming from Denver, $39,000 felt like buying a pack of gum, so we didn’t balk at making a full offer. I’ll wrap this up quick. We were told it would take a month to get our home equity loan. It came in 7 days. We closed on the house a month or so later. Somehow, I still really don’t know, we ended up only spending $35,000 with closing costs. With a mortgage of $400 per month, we were anxious to get out to PA to renovate and get our little eyesore rented.
Step 3 in the divine plan to get us to PA
Just before Easter, I flew with my mom to move her to PA. I saw the house, and then went back home for one week. Bob, Sophia, Lilly and I went back one week later to begin renovations on our rental property. We were planning to be there for 10 days, we had cleaning, painting, renovating, and assessing to do. I cant really explain it, but even as I was picking paint, I felt a personal connection to this house. Bob and I had run the numbers to see what it would look like to sell our house, what we’d save, what our budget would need ot be. The numbers were compelling. Just right out of the gate, we’d save 2,200 per month in mortgage. House and car insurance would be cheaper, etc….
Step 4 in the divine plan to get us to PA
(I’m starting to think maybe I should’ve written a book, not a blog). Anyhow…bear with me! Okay, so we’d pretty much decided that we were going to pursue moving here. We told family, we talked to the kids. Everyone was on board. The spiritual confirmation momentum was in full swing, and honestly, folks, nothing would stop me. This was happening! Bob was working from PA during our trip, so he put in the confident request to be able to work from Pittsburgh. We waited for the response. I was so sure that this was going to work out, that I never even contemplated the alternative.
The email came back. The answer was no.
WHAT? Read it again, Bob, are you sure they said no? I was so surprised. I was completely devastated-which I look back on now and say judgmentally to myself, “Where was your faith?” (But I’m really not the kind of person who would ask that, so I take it back). My sister and brother-in-law assured us that God would find a way, and that truly if this was supposed to happen, nothing would stop us. That was easy for them to say. They have story after story of God showing up in ways that could’ve only been him.
Bob and I went back to Denver, and just kind of sat in our confusion. We didn’t make any big announcements, or anything like that, we just sort of waited. And then.
Ultimately, how we got our hearts from A-Z was to just go forward. We moved from inactively worrying and just started investigating what it would take to get our house ready for a sale. We met with our realtor, we started to talking to our friends. We just looked in one direction, and moved. About 2 weeks before our POD was to come and pick up our stuff, AT&T gave Bob approval to work full time, from anywhere.
It had been 2 1/2 months since we considered this move, and our house was sold, both houses paid for, POD shipped, cars packed. And off we drove.
24 hours later we arrived in New Brighton, PA.
Listen, I know this is not the most compelling story, nor is it miraculous, or even clever. I can sincerely tell you that for us-these three “back stories” have changed everything. And that’s why we started this blog. There are changes too big in life that need documenting.