Warming Up

We have been living with my in-laws since January, when we sold our previous home. It’s been a really hard 6 months. Absolutely nothing has seemed to go our way in these few months. So when we went under contract on this house, I had a very hard time believing something wouldn’t go wrong. The seller is a bit odd- he’s very unpredictable, a little unethical, he lies and I think he has a touch of dementia as well. Not a great combo. Each week that went by, I held my breath for The Big Let-Down. News that he decided to keep the house or that he wants to renegotiate to a higher price. News that there were structural issues or that the house didn’t appraise and the deal would fall through.

I realize how impossibly pessimistic that sounds. I’m quite aware of how far I’ve fallen from my previously endlessly-hopeful self. But I think that is starting to change.

We are now 2 days away from closing and the seller has officially moved out. I went over to the house yesterday to try and match flooring samples. I had a key and I let myself in (with his permission of course). And there it was. This beautiful, empty home sitting before me. A home we have prayed for. A home that made me cry when I first walked in. A home we have agonized over. A home we almost lost to a higher bid. It’s lovely really. And in 48 hours it will be ours, Lord willing. I stood in the doorway and let it sink in a little bit. This house, this wonderful, quirky house is about to be ours.

For the first time in a long time, I allowed myself to warm up to the idea that maybe the winds are shifting. Maybe a stream of good luck and God’s favor is coming our way. Maybe things are going to be less hard. Or maybe not, but at least we’ll have a cute house to weather the storms in haha! 🙂

I would love for this house to represent a new chapter in our life. I don’t want to walk into it with armfuls of baggage. I’d like to carefully store those bags in the garage and walk into the house with a fresh sense of hope and a renewed perspective on life. If our old house represented the ICU ward of a hospital where we recovered (sometimes literally and sometimes figuratively) from the wounds of life, then I want this home to represent a retreat center.  A place of restoration, refreshment, relaxation, healing, inspiration, peace and wholeness.

And as I stood in the empty spaces of what will hopefully soon be ours, I was overwhelmed by the possibility of what could be as I picture us enjoying summer evenings on the patio and snuggling around the fireplace at Christmas. I finally let down my guard and allowed myself to indulge in the possibility that this house will be a place of comfort for us. It is evidence that perhaps the seas of life are getting a bit calmer.

Picture time! This was the first time I have ever been in the house alone. The first time where the seller wasn’t sitting around in his pajamas eating food and brushing crumbs everywhere (this was a For Sale By Owner situation, so he didn’t play by any of the traditional real estate rules like leaving the home for a showing or not getting in a fight with the inspector etc). The first time where I haven’t been distracted by his incessant talking to actually have a solid look around. The first time I’ve seen it empty.

Photo Jul 12, 2 36 04 PM
Looking down from the loft onto the main great room. Yes, that is shiplap you spy above the fireplace 🙂
Photo Jul 12, 2 38 18 PM
The master bathroom and closet have these gorgeous tiles with radiant heating underneath. That is going to feel so good in the winter!
Photo Jul 08, 3 00 09 PM
Our seller ripped out brand new white carpet and installed  navy carpet (with polka dots!) in the lower level of the home.  We want to replace that (obviously) and do hardwood. The wood in the rest of the entire house is solid strand bamboo and it is in fabulous shape. My attempts to match hardwood have been fun. In the 3 years since the initial wood was laid, the stains have changed ever so slightly and now nothing is a perfect match. I stalked  was able to get in touch with the prior owners and she graciously told me where they purchased the wood from so I think I’m getting closer to a good match. And if it’s not perfect, that’s ok too!

Photo Jul 12, 2 25 56 PM
Our precious patio. This spot sealed the deal on my love for this house!

Photo Jul 06, 5 28 42 PMI’ve been staring at various shades of white paint for a long time. I’d like to find one with just a subtle undertone of grey which would contrast well with bright white trim/fireplace/doors/kitchen cabinets. There’s not a ton of natural light in the house so anything we can do to brighten things up will help, like skylights and solar tubes (getting an estimate on those next week!).

We have our closing set at 11am on Friday, then we’ll grab lunch to celebrate before a few contractors come by for bids on flooring install and random jobs to be done. Our POD is scheduled to be delivered on Saturday. Can we just talk about what a huge surprise opening that thing is going to be?! David and I were in the hospital when the movers packed it and it was carried away, so I never supervised any of the moving process. To be honest, I still don’t know where our POD is being stored. All I know is that we will see it soon. It should be fun to rediscover our stuff after almost 7 months! Thank you Jesus that the end of our nomadic basement-dwelling life is near and that we are about to have a space of our own again. This is going to be a good good good weekend!

 

This & That

  • We put an offer in on a house this week! We found the cutest little ranch house on the west side of town. It had an open kitchen, large deck (with a built in fire pit!) and spacious backyard. It is just the cutest. We knew the second we walked in that we loved it and wanted it. We wasted no time at all and had an offer submitted within 3 hours of seeing the house. We really wanted the house so we put in a really great offer of 15k over asking price + waiving inspection. Sadly, we still lost the house to another buyer. Turns out we were one of 5 offers (all over asking price) and the “winners” were cash buyers who also waived the appraisal, in addiction to the inspection. We were (still are…) incredibly disappointed.  
  • We have officially found a church that we loooooove! We made the tough decision a few months ago to head out in search of a new church. We didn’t have to look very long before we stumbled upon a gem. On our 3rd Sunday, one of the pastors introduced himself to us and invited us to join his small group. Whoa, what a blessing! The teaching is solid and biblical, the worship is incredible, David is already involved with the men’s ministry and we have made some new friends through our small group. I keep waiting for something bad to happen, but as time goes on I’m starting to realize that this is just a really wonderful godly church, no catch. 
  • David is doing much better these days. Still short of breath at times and gets tired easily if he’s had a big day, but overall he is getting stronger and healthier as the weeks go on. He will be meeting with a hematologist in a month or two to have some blood tests done to see if he has a blood clotting disorder. We’ve been really impressed with the level of care from his new doctor too, it feels like everyone is really watching out for his best interest. It’s crazy to think that just 6 short weeks ago we went through such a scary time. I’m so happy to have my smiling, strong, wonderful husband back!
  • I don’t have the time or space to write out all my thoughts on approaching my 1-year mark for my craniotomy, maybe in the near future. My standard response to those who ask how I’m feeling these days has been: “I don’t feel as good as I did in 2014 before SCDS started and I’m not sure I’ll ever get back to 100% or normal, but I’m better than I was before surgery and I’m learning to let that be enough and rest in the healing that God has done.” There are still areas were I desire more healing (balance, cognition, headaches) so I have been reading a lot of research on The Migraine Diet and it’s relation to patients with SCDS and there seems to be enough positive correlation that I thought it would be worth trying to see if I can regain some things that I lost in SCDS and surgery. The Migraine Diet is not just for “standard” migraines. It’s really for anyone who suffers from chronic (or even occasional) headaches, neck pain, vestibular migraines, brain fog or other certain neurologically related issues. The diet is incredibly restrictive, but thankfully it is only short term (6-12 weeks) to give your brain time to “reset.” It calls for complete elimination of all: caffeine, alcohol (goodbye wine*sniff*sniff) yogurt, cheese, citrus, nuts, yeast breads, MSG, all artificial and natural flavoring, most preservatives and a variety of beans and lentils. There’s quite a few other random items on the “do not eat” list like overly ripe bananas, avocados, marinated meat, onions and gelatin as well. Basically anything that is in a box, package, can or bag is going to be off limits unless it’s a natural frozen food….so pretty much anything that is delicious is off limits. I already miss pizza haha! 🙂 I sort of eased into it over the last week and have only been strictly adhering to it for 4 days so far. Time will tell if it’s helpful at all!
  • Grad school has been nothing short of amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever had an educational experience where I just can’t get enough, where I wish my 3-hour class was an 8-hour class because I love it so much. Even my research papers get me excited. I love my professors, my books, my classes and I even (almost) love waking up at 4:45am so I can get to campus on time for class. Every week that goes by is further confirmation that I am walking in the right direction.

Change of Scene

In other news regarding major life deicsions, we are listing our sweet house on the market tomorrow. *sniff*sniff* 
This has been a long time coming, but we finally felt God’s prompting to pull the trigger on this. We first started talking about it last September when we came back from the Cayman Islands. It was like in the span on 2 weeks while we were gone, our area grew by 50,000 people and all of the sudden David’s commute to work was a stressful, accident-riddled mess. It was taking him upwards of an hour to drive 20 miles home from work on any given day. Add snow into the mix and his drive home was even longer. 
Fast forward 18 months and the situation has just gotten worse. In the span of one year, they have built or are currently building within 1/2 mile of our house:
  • 500 apartment units 
  • 300 new homes 
  • shooting range 
  • mental health facility
  • church
  • Marriott
  • Comfort Inn with a “mini water park” 
  • 500,000 square foot Scheel’s, complete with shooting range, 65 foot ferris wheel and an “indoor mountain” where you can test products. 
  • 4 million square feet of spaced zoned for future commercial retail
  • serious talks about the expansion of the Interstate which is right next to us

We knew when we bought and built our house that there was a ton of open land around us which would likely become developed. We also knew that we live in a very desirable area and that there would likely be people who move here. I guess we just didn’t expect everything to happen all at once! Consequently, the roads by our house are always closed for construction, David’s commute is awful and I personally am feeling a little suffocated by all the development and change.

We were planning on selling our house last year at this time, but when I suddenly began having health problems and the prospect of brain surgery was on the table, we decided to wait. It was a wise decision for many reasons, one of which being our neighborhood appreciated by 19% in one year. Dang!
We met with our realtor this week and in the span on 6 days, we got our house ready to sell! Our area has been selling like hotcakes with most houses going under contract within a week with multiple offers above asking price. The Colorado real estate market is absolutely nuts right now, so we’re going to hopefully take advantage of that!

The next logical question is…where are we going to move to? The short answer is…we don’t know. Somewhere in the town where David works so that he can get closer to his job. It would be great if he could ride his bike to work or at least be within a 10 minute drive. That’s a pretty big radius with a lot of options in terms of neighborhoods and areas to look at. The plan is to move in with his parents after we sell our house and then take our time looking for our next house.

We decided to do a “private listing” first, where our home doesn’t actually go on the public MLS. Since Christmas is less than 2 weeks away, there is a chance that no one is actually looking for a house right now. We don’t want to just sit on the market and risk people thinking “what’s wrong with that house? Why hasn’t it sold in such a hot market?” So we’ll list privately first and if we don’t get any bites, we’ll list publicly in January. Private listings basically just means that your house is for sale, but it’s not going to show up in the MLS database. So our realtor can market to other agents and put the word out, it just won’t show up on-line yet.

Truth be told, I’m kind of sad about this. We love this house so much, I can’t imagine ever living in a home I love as much as this one. We spent so many years saving for this house. We spent so many hours helping design it and watching it be built. It’s going to be hard to walk away.

At the same time, I’m also looking forward to it. This house has often felt like more of a recovery ward than anything else. I’ve had 3 major surgeries while living here and I feel like all I’ve done in the last 4 years is attempt to heal and get back to normal. Honestly, some of our worst years have been spent in this house.

So I’m excited about a change. A fresh start. A new town. A change of scene. My hope is that wherever we wind up, we will be walking solidly in God’s will and that His hand will have favor on our next steps and decisions in the weeks and months ahead. We’re trusting Him to help us sell this house and bring us to a home that is exactly what we need. I’ll definitely be updating on the house hunting process!

The Flood

The whole thing started almost like a movie last week. I was making dinner with the news on in the background. As I chop onions I hear a muffled weather report “a very wet system is moving into our area and could bring record levels of rainfall…” And then life goes on, onions get chopped, errands are run and you don’t think much of it.

The rain started last Monday and I guess it never really stopped. By Thursday, our area had seen over 10 inches of rain in 48 hours with no sign of letting up. I wasn’t concerned at first, it seemed like just another rain storm. And then I heard people talking about the river.

We live right next to a beautiful river. A river that flooded 40 years ago and killed 144 people. A river that we love. A river that is the heart of our town and one that has surrendered lots of fish to David’s fly rod. And it’s a river that carries much of the runoff and drainage for the Rockies Mountains above us.

As I was out grocery shopping and running errands on Thursday and everywhere I went I heard rumors of evacuations and flash flooding in a town just above us in the mountains. People whispering in the grocery store line “I heard they’ve evacuated the hospital because the the road is washing out…” “They say it could be worse than 1976…” On my way home I decided I wanted to see it for myself. I drove to the river by my house and my heart immediately sank. That’s my neighborhood in the background. Normally about 20 feet wide, the river had grown to about 1/4 mile across and was quickly creeping towards our neighborhood.

Upon coming home, I was greeted by frantic neighbors, the fire department, police department and reverse 911 calls all saying that I had to evacuate immediately. They gave us 20 minutes to get out. I grabbed our kitties and some clothes and left. In tears, I drove away and thought of all the possibilities of what might become of our home. We evacuated to my in-law’s house who graciously let us crash at their place.
Overnight Thursday, the river rose about 10 feet and spread out about a mile wide next to us. The road that runs in front of our home to the north and west was completely flooded and water was everywhere. It eventually turned into this on Friday…
We took a quick trip Friday morning to see if we could see anything or get close to our area. We started at the river access point I was at on Thursday where I took the first picture in this post. We were greeted with the pictures below. The river looked like it was about to swallow up our sweet little neighborhood. We attempted to talk with a department of transportation guy who had one of our roads blocked off, and he basically laughed in our faces and told us “yeah,that whole area is under water” when we asked about our neighborhood. Awesome. So that’s all the info we had to go on as we headed into the weekend.
At its height, the river was running at 10,000cfs, which is absolutely crazy considering that a typical September flow it’s often just below 100cfs. The town above us has a dam that was overflowing and they had to release a huge amount of water to release the pressure. That dam water, combined with the flooding rainfall made for a disastrous combination for my town and everything in between.

We felt pretty helpless as we watched the news on TV showing our entire town swiftly being destroyed. Bridges washed out, churches flooding, homes being swept away into the water, people drowning, livestock stranded in 5 feet of water. It was terrible….it still is terrible. Currently in Colorado there are a lot of people who are unaccounted for, 11,000 evacuations, (including over 2,000 that had to be evacuated via helicopter), over 17,000 homes damaged, 1,500 completely destroyed, 2,380 square miles and 17 counties of flooded land. If this rain were snow, we would have had 15-20 inches of snowfall.
The destruction in our area is almost beyond my comprehension…the pictures we have seen are absolutely unreal. My heart just breaks for my little town. 
One of the worst areas is a canyon just went of us that heads into Rocky Mountain National Park. We are on this road all the time. At an emergency evacuee meeting we attended, the fire chief said there were about 50 sections of this road that have been 100% wiped out…there’s no asphalt, no road bed, just canyon walls and water.
Above is an arial view of near next to our neighborhood
The National Guard allowed us into our neighborhood today after 5 days of being evacuated and I am so happy to say that our home is okay. I really can’t describe what a miracle it is. Our neighborhood has sustained flood damage and by the looks of our street, the waters came right to our house, just not into our house. We are literally surrounded on all 4 sides by water, it feels like we’re on a little island.
I’m so humbled by God’s mercy on us, especially as many many many people surrounding us have lost their homes and everything they own. I definitely have survivor’s guilt…our house really shouldn’t be okay. Not with as close as we came to the river and with flooding on all 4 sides. We should be underwater right now. But for some reason, He had mercy on us and I am so incredibly humbled and grateful.
Please keep my precious state and all the people who have been affected by these floods in your prayers. Colorado, and the area where we live specifically, has already been through so much with wildfires and draught, we just need a break! My town, my friends, my church…everything has been affected by this, so please pray!