Ahhh, finally wrapping this series up with the 31st post. Strangely I am pretty chill about the fact that I didn't get this all in during October. That's growth people, the old Stephanie would have lost sleep over it because it's something that didn't fit neatly in a package, tied up with a bow! But I'm grateful I've taken my time through this and now that I have 31 posts about our home to go back and read down the road.
I thought it would be appropriate to answer the question we get all the time, which is "Now what?" Now that we've done all these updates and we're still bursting at the seams, "What's next for the Armstrongs?"
When we look back at the last few months, we can see how beautifully the Lord has woven all of this together. He really impressed on my heart back in the spring that He was about to do something and this Fall needed to be open for me to follow Him. That didn't make a lot of sense to me then except that I can't explain how over and over I heard Him put that same thought on my heart and I just felt so sure, I wanted to obey Him with an open schedule. After He made that clear to me, He began lining up a series of things that indicated to us to go ahead with some of these plans we've been thinking about for years. With a generous gift and so many "coincidences" that I've shared in this series, He really laid out for us the ability to do a lot of work in a few months time. All along the way we've prayed about what this all means for us. Do we rent this out? Do we rent ourselves? Do we try to buy another property while renting this one? Is it possible for us to sell this in the near future? I can't say that we have crystal clear answers yet, but so far the way that He's worked in this is to give us just enough light for the next step. We try to look ahead and predict the future and it seems like we're staring down a dark tunnel with no idea of what's on the other end. I keep thinking it would be so much "easier" for Him to just send me an email, or a quick text that says "Here's what I'm doing, work to make this happen!" Ha ha! Wouldn't that be nice?? But instead He is requiring us to keep knocking at the door, to put all of our faith in Him and to trust that He is very active even when it may seem like we're walking in the dark. He keeps faithfully shining a little bit of light when it's time for us to take a step but that's all He's giving us right now and I know that is totally for our benefit. It's been a very good exercise of faith to walk in obedience and to trust Him. I can't honestly say I always feel this great about it, I have days of discouragement too or times when I feel like I'm not sure whose side He is on. But those are the days when I have to let truth dictate and my feelings indicate. When I get those backwards it's not pretty.
We still have a desire to move on, to get some more space to grow and stretch out as a family. At this point, selling doesn't seem to be an option yet, but we have high hopes that a few months from now the situation might look brighter. The market is improving and we are seeing other condos in our building with improved pricing on the market. That is a praise! It's been so dismal and discouraging for years now, to see some signs of recovery and health again is very promising. Renting this out isn't outside the realm of possibilities but we aren't seeing as much fruit there as we'd like to make that step of faith. More discouraging however is finding a rental for us that affordable. The rental market is crazy expensive right now and we have not had success at finding something in the area we'd like to stay in, at an affordable price, with any more square footage than we already have. We aren't giving up but right now it feels like the Lord is giving us pause to move in that direction. Buying another property in faith also feels like a huge risk that on paper, doesn't seem wise. The well is not deep enough to make a big mistake and absorb the loss, so we are proceeding with a lot of prayer and caution while trying not to live in fear of the unknown either.
More than all of those factors though, we are just TRUSTING the Lord with all of it. I can get lost in a headache of low interest rates, deals out there to be had, impulsive choices, etc. and before I know it I am a wreck of emotion feeling like we need to do something and it has to be now or we'll miss out. That's such a ploy from the enemy and I'm so grateful that the Lord keeps reminding me that He doesn't work on deadlines and He is greater than all the details that can trip me up. Interestingly, I realized a long time ago that I can be the impulsive one in these situations and gratefully, I'm married to a man who is a good voice of reason and wisdom. He is not a fast mover with big decisions and I think that has saved us time and time again from making choices that aren't from the Lord. We both feel a lot of peace in just taking a break through the Holidays from all of this and just resting in the Lord, enjoying the fruit of all of our remodeling and praying about the future. I also have been convicted to not live in this perpetual state of waiting for what's next, hanging my hopes on that. I miss out on a lot of life and daily graces when my eyes are always straining to see a future I can't predict. There is joy in the here and now and I have to say, we are both really content in our condo right now. This is my favorite time of year to settle in, to enjoy the coziness of a warm place as the temperatures start to plummet outside, and to just be together. Our kids don't know any of this struggle or "what if" that can keep their Mom and Dad up at night, they're just loving life and are grateful for the new, soft carpet to play on! They each tell me that very thing about once a day, ha ha! Who knew kids could appreciate carpet as much as ours seem to??
Life is good, God is better and we are thankful for this home. I've loved this series and taking the time to write about the graces of God here. He's not abandoned us yet, nor will He in the future. I still pray almost daily for a miracle because I know He could move mountains to get us out of here but I have a feeling He doesn't see us being "stuck" here with the same eyes that I often do. His blessings come in all sorts of ways and sometimes the very thing that causes you to struggle the most is His greatest blessing actually, because it requires a dependence on Him that might not have come otherwise.
Thank you for reading along with me, for letting me process "out loud" and for the many ways you've encouraged me or shared what the Lord is teaching you about your home too. I've been blessed by every word, even when I forget to reply back! I won't lie and tell you I'm sad to be done, I'm actually pretty relieved. I have a million pics of my kids that have been tabled for the last month and I'm ready to write about lighter, sillier things too. I'm wrapping this up today in a quiet house, with Ava at school and Carter getting a little time with Daddy this morning. As I look around at the piles of shoes, the leftover dishes from breakfast and Trav's keys on the countertop I'm struck by how gracious God has been to me, not only because He's met my needs over and over again, but also because He's given me three of the best blessings I've ever known in the people I love the most who share this home with me. They are HUGE gifts of grace and I hope I never lose sight of that. We could be without walls to call our own, closets full of clothes, and toys spilling out of every corner and STILL be the richest family because of what we have in Christ. There is no greater gift of grace than Him and He's got my heart forever, just as I pray He has yours.
Happy Wednesday, friends!
Thank you for sticking with me this past month (and few extra days, ha ha!)...