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Keys, moving, good bye

We picked up the keys the other night. Third time walking through the house. It surprises me that we (collective there) buy a home after only walking through it a time or two. When you consider that a home is most likely the most expensive decision you will ever make by a long shot, once or twice is simply not enough time. And yet, it works.

Walking through the home again last night, I just kind of fell in love with it all over again. It’s just the right home. The previous owners were there, and it was good to talk to them. They wanted to meet with us to give us the keys, walk through the house and show us things they were leaving behind, and also make sure we knew where things were and how to handle the house (sprinklers, filters, etc). I don’t know that they’d admit to it, but I think they were also hoping to tell us some of what the experienced during the sale.

They shared with us the spiritual side to it all. They had prayed that the home would go to a family who would love it and grow well here. When it went under contract the first time, they weren’t necessarily disappointed, but they also didn’t see how that was going to work out. So when that fell through and we walked through the door….

Let’s just say there’s a reason they waited while we battled through those issues we faced. And let’s also just say that the feeling was mutual in return.

When we went to see the house that first time, Courtney and I slipped into what will be Courtney’s office/art room and said a quick, private prayer. We then went upstairs and offered on the home verbally. It was that palpable.

The home is just right. It’s a peaceful home. A good feel home. Even with all their stuff out and the mess of late-stage move around us, you could just feel that it was a home. A real home. And the kids running around happily added to that. Room for them to run, too!

The previous owners left–there’s really no other way to say this–a plethora of stuff for us. Furniture, shelving (SHELVES!!!!), storage bins, tools, gardening equipment, appliances, curtains, and I could go on and on. There are a few things that I found out about that I did not tell Courtney. Those’ll be a surprise for her to find. And they are probably above some of the things that she’s already just giddy about. hehe… And now she’s wondering what they could be. :-)

Walking away from the home last night, we just felt… gratitude. What a wonderful gift to us.

These last two years or so have been traumatic for us. Hard. Duly impossible. I would not want to claim that this is the Lord saying, “Thanks for hanging on, here’s a cookie,” but…. I think that the Lord knows what the last two years have done to us. Done to me personally. I’m not the same person I was just a few short years ago. Refined I would like to think. Impurities burned out, whatever those may be. But also… damaged. Hurt. Still recovering. None of the scars can leave permanent damage because, frankly, they aren’t worth being damaged over, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t hurt.

This new direction for us isn’t a reward for making it through the fire. It’s a new opportunity. It’s a chance to reground, reset, and prepare for the next battle and the next curve. And it’s a blessing.

As I’ve approached the opportunities of coming into this home, this neighborhood, I’ve been especially cognizant that we are in truth coming into a ward. That’s why the Lord is leading us here. At least a large measure of it.

When all was falling apart, I read about Alma the Elder and his people in the land of Helam (Mosiah 23-24). Before the Lamanites came and invaded the land but after they fled from the wicked King Noah, they had a time of incredible peace and strength. We are leaving Noah behind; I don’t know when the Lamanites are coming.

Welcome to Helam.

One of my very most favorite versions of this beloved carol.

 

I’m always looking for a new book to read, and about a month ago I found Michael Grant’s Gone series. I’m on book 5 (of 6) currently, and they are a wonderful read.

The plot surrounds a fictional community on the coast of California that becomes trapped within a large dome. To add a twist, everyone over the age of 15 disappears as well. The story is very fast-paced, engaging, and entertaining, dealing with how the kids in the dome adapt and struggle to survive. Michael  doesn’t shy away from some really horrible thoughts and ideas that, frankly, everyone else seems to avoid because they are uncomfortable. For example, when you watch these apocalypse films, am I the only one that wonders what happens when mom and dad die and the infant doesn’t? Well, this book doesn’t avoid that.

And it’s really hard. Like… uncomfortably hard. Shocking.

But at the same time, I think that’s part of the story and impact of the book. He doesn’t try to sugarcoat the disaster. It’s a disaster, not a love story!

I won’t say more because, really, this is a fantastic story across the board with each book building rapidly into a full-throttled roar that continues to the very end, but you need to know that book 1 is especially hard.

For Parents: These books fall into adolescent lit, and as is typical of the genre include many coming-of-age themes, friendships, betrayals, romance, and questions of authority and place. There are also sexual themes (tastefully done as of book 5). The book is violent, but the violence is not glorified. Michael does bring up many hard topics and does not, as previously mentioned, shy away from death in these books. A LOT of kids die, some through tragedy, some through murder, and some through monsters. The book also deals with racism, though not in a way you’d expect. There are even strong lessons on capitalism, free market, and economics!

The book has strong religious overtones with several characters grappling constantly with their ideas of God and religion and how they relate to God. I would note that those overtones–generally Christian in nature–are not overt and in your face (this isn’t the Left Behind series…).

It has mild language, which I later found out Michael was sad that he didn’t dial up the language some. I admit to being disappointed by that. I was actually impressed that he had crafted such a believable world without having to add the language that is so degrading.

This is not a series I would just leave in the hands of just any child; it’s a hard series that faces many of the angsty questions of youth head on and often with little in the way of definitive answers, and it deserves conversations. It deserves the wheels that will spin in your mind as you consider how you would respond to the situation and the themes. This is a series you talk about. One you learn from.

Rating: A very solid 4 stars! I have rushed through these books with as much anticipation as I felt for Harry Potter or the Mistborn trilogy. The writing is smooth, comfortable, engaging, and thrilling. I’m not kidding when I say that he typically arrives at the climax about mid-book and holds the throttle down to the last page. It can become quite Deus ex Machina in handling the plot as it goes, but it works.

Perhaps the best rating I can give is that I will probably buy them. I don’t buy books anymore unless they mean something big.

Closed!

It’s been quite the journey, but we closed on both our old house and our new house this last Tuesday. Now starts the rush to getting packed and moved out on time!

The plan right now is to move over the Thanksgiving holiday. I will take the first half of the week off work to pack, clean, and prepare. Then we’ll move Friday and unpack Saturday. We’re very excited to move on and get ourselves reestablished in a new home, neighborhood, and ward.

As I’ve thought about leaving, there are a few things that I’ve thought I’ll really miss both about our current home and the people/neighborhood around us. I will miss the character of our home. The woodstove, the organized, clean calm of it all. I’ll miss the familiarity of closeness. This new house is so big that it’ll be possible to get lost. That is both good and bad.

I will miss many of the people around us. Close friends and members of our current and past wards who were big supports, friendly smiles, and happy arms. It’s amazing some times how distance, no matter how small, changes relationships. I hope we can avoid it even knowing now that we won’t.

I will miss the Provo Bakery. :-) I’m not ashamed to say that.

I will not miss the speed. I will not miss the crowds and the large numbers of people. I will not miss being surrounded by apartment complexes.

I will miss being a block from the library, a few from the grocery story. I will not miss being only a block from downtown.

I will not miss the school our kids go to.

I will miss my sycamore. It’s ugly since it dropped that monster branch two years back, but it’s still one of the key definers of our home. I will miss the tulips and daffodils I’ve watched spread and grow for over eight years now.

I will not miss the grape hyacinths that have plagued the entire neighborhood.

I’m not sure if I’m going to miss missed opportunities. I’ve done my part. I refuse to miss that which wasn’t in my power anyway, especially when I made the effort.

I will miss my bee yard. Has any urban bee yard ever been more perfect? And I will miss the abundance of food sources for my bees. Few of my neighbors ever cared for their lawns, and the bees had a bounty of early dandelions and other “weeds” to feast on along with thousands of fruit trees.

I will miss being close to BYU. I love the atmosphere that school creates. Some people call it the bubble. I’ve always seen it more as a shield.

I will not miss a tiny back yard except when I have to mow the new one. I will not miss not having a place to just throw the kids outside without worry and anxiety of neighbors speeding down the driveway.

I will not miss the past. I’m looking forward to resetting and renewing… life. I was talking to Courtney last weekend, and I realized that we have missed what may be an unknown development stage in our marriage. In our area, people get married in college typically, mature in that environment with all their friends, and then move and see their marriage turn inward. Courtney and I never left the college environment. In some ways, we have yet to experience that really strong inward turn that comes from moving away from the speed and pace of college life. That will be a wonderful change I expect.

But… I will miss Provo. I will miss that home. The new buyers told us last week that they plan on holding it for a few years, buying out the neighbor, and then tearing the property down and building a six-plex. That breaks my heart. I don’t want to come back in ten years and show my kids the lot they lived on. I want to show them, the home.

And I hope it’s still yellow.

And I will surely miss the yellow. :-)

And yes, it definitely helps that the new buyers call our house, the Bee House.

97.3

That, my friends, is how many emails I received per work day over the last 12 months. It comes out to be a bit more than 22,000 emails. Oh, and that only counts the emails I kept…. I think it’d be fair to add another 4,000 or so to the number, which would increase that to… You know what, I actually don’t want to know.

And as if that weren’t horrifying enough, here’s another number:

48.9

That would be the number that I sent per day.

Nice to know I’m part of the problem…. sigh….

House updates

It’s been a wild two weeks on the house front. We were supposed to close a week ago, but due to some complications, we’ve been delayed pretty severely. Everything is off then on then off then on again. Right now, we’ve found a solution and are pressing forward.

On the new house side, we’re ready to go. We have our loan approved and can close just as soon as our buyer figures out the problems on their side. The only thing that is making us nervous is that the new house sellers are growing impatient. Can you blame them? We’ve asked them for a two-week extension, which should get us there, but who knows what they’ll do.

Just because…

This has always been one of my favorite stories about President Grant. It paints such a clear picture of who he was even as a young man. We showed it for FHE as part of a lesson on gratitude (we focused on the poor boy, not Heber).

Oh, and I love the animation style. Really well done, especially for kids who don’t understand or sit well through long dialogs.

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