Thursday, June 28, 2012

Coming and Going

I've been meaning to sit down and write this post for quite a while. But as you will read . . . there just hasn't been a quiet moment.

{Fair warning . . . this post is serving as my journal of the past few months. It is LONG. Read only if you are my family or if you want to see some really cool God stuff or if you are simply looking for an easy summer novel! HA HA HA}

So, we are moving to Louisiana. I know. CRAZY.

Here's how we got to that decision and all that God did to show us His goodness in the process . . .
Early October 2011
Mark called me from work one day and said "I am going to look into going to grad school." Now, it wasn't a complete surprise, but just a little sudden. I said, "OK." We had already planned a trip to Louisiana for the fall to visit friends and go to homecoming festivities at Louisiana Tech. So one evening after Mark had begun the process of thinking through what he might study and where he might study I {almost} laughingly said "You know . . .  Louisiana Tech has a good business school ..."

We continued to talk cautiously (for my own heart) about that possibility as we were living the dream in our still newly built dream home. Mark began researching their accounting program along with Iowa State in Ames. He also went ahead and made an appointment with a professor at Tech since we were already going to be in town. I begged him {seriously begged him} to NOT go to the meeting if it wasn't a real possibility that we would go there.

You see, I've been in Iowa NINE years now. I moved here as a single gal and had absolutely no idea what God had in store for me - an "Iweegun" (that's what my dad calls Mark) husband and two little red-headed Iowa boys. I had put any dreams of moving back to the sweet south to rest a while ago. I just didn't think it would ever happen.

But as we continued to pray and Mark met with the professor at Tech, Mark continued to feel more confident about pursuing a Master's in Accounting at Tech and moving our family to Louisiana. He said all along, "I think it would be very honoring to your parents to move the boys closer to them."

Janauary 2012
We finally felt a peace about putting our house on the market (which would have been necessary even if Mark stayed in Ames for school) and really started to investigate a move to Ruston. Mark began an accounting class at DesMoines Area Community College to put the feelers out about school in general. (He set the curve for the class and the other students called him "professor Mark.")

February 9, 2012
I sent a message to Ruston friends (folks affiliated with the university, friends, etc) and it included this little excerpt:
"There are a couple things that need to line up to make this happen.
1) First and foremost, for God to settle in us the decision!
2) Possible waiver of out of state tuition (I'm thinking it is possible as a spouse of an alumni - but not sure)
3) A place to live that is reasonable for us on a limited budget as Mark will attend full time grad school
4) A part time FLEXIBLE job for me so I can still be a mommy first!"

And the responses came pouring in! Almost the same day our house went on the market (and THE NEXT DAY after we had prayed for some very specific things) I got a response from Elaine Caston regarding the out of state tuition waiver. After talking to a sweet lady in an office at Tech and faxing (because email attachments just didn't seem to work for her!) a letter asking for Mark to be considered a Louisiana resident based on "number 5 - married to a resident of Louisiana" - Mark was declared a "resident" of Louisiana within hours! CRAZY. No out of state tuition - check.

April 19, 2012
A conversation began between us and the director of housing at Louisiana Tech about a graduate assistant position for Mark. Melanie and I worked in housing together back in the early 1990s. CRAZY. She basically offered a job to me for Mark over the phone before he was even officially accepted as a student. The job just "happened" to include a 3 bedroom, 2 bath (nearly 2000 sq. feet) apartment RENT AND UTILITY FREE as a part of the stipend. CRAZY. Affordable housing - check. Oh, and go ahead and cross off "part time job" for Mandy too - because with FREE housing, I am clear to do my mommy job ONLY.

We were simply stunned by God's goodness and faithfulness to us while we walked this path.

All the while, our house was being shown, but no offers were coming in for purchase. We kept trusting and believing that God would sell our house in His time. We knew He would not bring us this far just to let that be what stopped us.

And indeed, true to His goodness, He sold our home. We closed June 15.

Here's a couple fun little extras:
1) I called to see about getting Callen in to our pediatrician for his 4 year check up. You know, sometimes if you wait too long, they are booking WAY out. I had an appointment already for Jack for August 13 at 9a. Would you believe that there was an opening for a check up with our doc at 8:45a that same morning? Seriously. CRAZY.
2)  I haven't mentioned yet that the last few days in our home were ... yep, CRAZY.  The week before we were to move out, I experienced pain like I've never known in the form of cluster headaches. Saturday-Thursday mornings when I needed to be packing, I was completely debilitated by a headache that started somewhere around 8:45a and ended around noon. And I was an emotional wreck about leaving this house where my boys had spent all their early days. I would NOT have finished packing were it not for the selfless service of friends (Courtney, Sarah, Mindy, Hanna). On Friday, before moving Saturday, the headaches just stopped. We loaded our trailers (one driven by my sweet cousing Bret and his wife Alidya all the way from Arkansas to move me "home!") on Saturday with the help of more incredible friends (Tom, Jordan, Jack, Carl, Bret, Alidya, Timothy, Justin, and the one and only Vicki Squib!) and I left that afternoon to spend a few days with my sister and bro in law and new nephew Cade Marek. Yep, in the midst of all that, I went to Texas. CRAZY. but worth it.
3) We had our carpets cleaned on closing day. The guy doing the work (husband of a friend from church) was there when the new family came to do their walk through. He called me when he was done with the carpet and said, "Mandy, I just want you to know, this family is so excited about their new home. They love it. They walked in with their two girls and the girls were dancing and running and giggling all over the place. They are thrilled and full of joy. It is such a good thing." And yep, I was crying my eyes out on the other end.

So, its June. And most folks are VERY confused about where we are and what we are doing. That's why I called this "coming and going." Cause I feel like I am meeting myself on the road these days.

Here's our past week:
June 16
We headed to Huxley for Callen to play his final BamBam Baseball game. But before we got out of town, Mark saw smoke from the trailer. (Let me interject here that I was already a nervous wreck about driving this trailer all the way to Louisiana.) So we turned around and headed to Entire in Ames, where we discovered the new tires that had been put on at another store were the wrong size. And so began an hour 1/2 wait to get new tires so all of our stuff wouldn't go up in flames.
We got the tires (missed the BamBam game) and got on the road, finally arriving at my mom's house in central Arkansas on Sunday for a few days of R and R. My boys were so happy to see their MiMi and Poppa. My mom is a wonderful hostess.
June 20
We turned south and went to Ruston. Pretty easy drive from my mom's house really. We saw our new home . . . and it is a blessing! Both Mark and I set our expectations low - just knowing the dorm is OLD and there was a chance the apartment was well old too. But we were VERY pleased. Callen said in the car before we arrived, "Mom, when we get to our new place, I"m going to say, "home sweet home." and Then I'm going to say, "Thanks God for our new home." What a sweet reminder!
June 21
We moved half our earthly junk into our apartment in Harper Dorm smack in the middle of  Louisiana Tech campus. Thanks to friends who gave up an evening we got it done in an hour.

{Another quick side note: when Mark pulled out one of our mattresses, we realized just how much God had our trip in His hands . . .
a burn hole where the mattress was resting against the wheel well. Oh MY. PRAISE God for new tires!)

We stayed with Kelly and Billy Smith in Ruston and were given the royal treatment by that queen of hospitality. My boys think she hung the moon.

June 22 and 23
Mark met with his professor and laid out his grad school plan. He could be done after Fall Quarter 2013! Friday night we took Callen to the Peach Fest rodeo. SUCH fun! Saturday we enjoyed the Peach Fest parade. IT WAS HOT. But the boys loved it. Then we met cousin Bret and family at the apartment to unload the second half of all our earthly possessions. And we unloaded his horse trailer in a record 30 minutes! After naps, we got to spend the afternoon/evening with my old gal pals and all our kids. Just a taste of God's goodness - these ladies still love me!
June 24
We hook back up to our now empty trailer for the long journey back to Iowa.

Yes, this is where confusion usually sets in . . .
Mark didn't want to leave his family business high and dry for the summer. And he can't start his job till August 20 anyway. So we needed him to work through July. We are now at our home sweet {temporary} home with his mom and dad in Ames. We'll stay here through the last Friday of July. Then we plan to head up to Clear Lake for some SERIOUS down time for our little family before school and work starts for Mark. Our plan is to be in Ruston no later than August 15.

Tuesday, June 26
And finally . . . .
Today we are able to say with confidence after hearing a strong heartbeat . . .
We'll be taking along a little hitchhiker on the move.
Yep, baby number 3 due early February.

Monday, June 04, 2012

On the move . . .

I'll post our moving story soon (how we got to this decision, all the things that led up to it, etc) . . . but I wanted anyone who might care to know that I WILL be updating this blog more frequently. But for now, know that this family will miss Iowa and all that goes with it - friends, family, food, fun. More to come soon.