March 2015 archive

The training wheels are off

This has been a hard season for us, but not without merit.

You never know what the classroom of your life will be until you find yourself sitting at an uncomfortable desk with a bloody hard test in front of you that you are pretty sure you didn’t study for.

I’ve been waiting to write this post until we were on the other side of the lesson but there is no guarantee when that will be and that’s okay. If anything the last five months have taught me in spades is “God’s got this.” He has the answer key, he wrote the test, he’s proctoring it in fact.

He’s got this.

We bought a house 7.5 years ago. At the time we knew we paid a little too much for it but we found it the day it went on the market and we had thirty days to move and they weren’t willing to dicker on price. We’ve never had any desire to be house poor and this was still on the low end for what we qualified for. We just had that “Aww shucks” feeling that if we had a little more time we could have gotten them down a few thousand more. Still, we loved that little cottage in the city. A 90 year old Craftsman bungalow with charm oozing out it’s pores. We upgraded the plumbing, kitchen, master bath, landscaping, anything we could save up for to make it nicer. Who knew in 2008 the realty market would begin a very rapid downward spiral. We can only work with the facts that are presently in front of us and we made a financially sound decision at the time. Sadly my crystal ball was broken or we would have chosen differently.

Isn't she darlin?

Isn’t she darlin?

You have all heard the stories of whoa over the last few years on the news about people foreclosing and going bankrupt left and right. Hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt over houses they couldn’t afford or unload. Scary stuff. A good name is better than great riches Psalms tells us. Who wants their credit smashed into tiny shards of glass like that? Devastating.

When we moved out to the country almost three years ago, we moved with our city house being under a lease purchase contract. What that means is the couple agrees to buy the house at the end of a year. They put down a hefty deposit because they just need a little more time to get their credit up to snuff and get their loan in place. There is definitely risk involved. If I had more time to tell you the beautiful, DETAILED, way the Lord brought us to our current house you would have the same peace we did in moving forward with the lease purchase offer. It’s a great story.

Much to our shock and dismay the couple at the end of the year had actually worsened their credit and decided to bail. (Cue our jaws on the ground…nervous laughter….what in the what????)

You ever been faced with the reality of two mortgages….it’s super fun, you should try it. Nothing has hit my panic button faster. Along with my broken crystal ball our money tree wasn’t growing either.

NEWS FLASH….YOU CAN’T MAKE YOUR HOUSE SELL!

I don’t care how awesome your realtor is, how great their marketing is, how much people LOVE your house (and believe me…people love this house). Only God can decide the timing of lifting that burden. And so we can submit with grace or go pout in the corner and lick our wounds.

Last year we ended up renting to a great couple. Did we want to be landlords? Nope…not one bit. Due to the awesome economy we could only charge our mortgage cost so we made zippo every month to put into savings to help us out if anything went wrong with the house. So zero times 12 months equals zero right? It’s almost a 100 year old house…so you can imagine things happen. Heck, stuff happens to brand new construction houses…that’s home ownership.

The couple moved out on Halloween night this last fall and there we were again, for the third time in a row, trying to sell this house. The unfortunate thing is what we owed the bank and what that neighborhood was going for since the market crash didn’t end in the same numbers. Me thinks this is a problem.

Due to all my health drama last spring, our car needing repairs, a trip we already booked to Costa Rica before we knew this was all going to go down, our savings account was about at zero when November’s mortgage was due. You know what’s sad? They won’t let you pay in charm at the bank. I’ve tried. Bankers need to lighten up for reals.

Haha…someone figured out how to add gifs to her posts (I know that’s so 2000…but come on they are fun….we were bleeding hundred dolla bills ya’ll)

And so we did a hail Mary with our photography business and we offered “mini sessions” for the first time ever in November and low and behold they filled up lightning fast. November and December mortgage paid for….whewwwwww….. A little bit of margin and financial breathing space.

Don’t you wish you had booked with us? I mean this is one just one amazing family we photographed. Our buds and fellow photogs. If you are in NC…book them!

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We listed with an amazing realtor after much prayer and started to swallow the golf ball reality that now we had to come out of pocket for commission (and that’s if we sold at full price.) I laugh that that was the worst reality we were trying to absorb in November…ha…HAHAHAHAHA…oh if we only knew what was ahead.

Praising the Lord for Ryan’s Christmas bonus so we were able to pay for January and February mortgage. Want to know what’s hard, incredibly hard actually….giving money to an empty house. Want to know whats gotten easier every month….giving money to an empty house.

God’s economy works mysteriously. What a beautiful and freeing thing to rest in. He gives and takes away…blessed be his name!! This is a season of our finances being taken. They just are and it stinks but it doesn’t end there. It never does.

I’m telling ya…Satan was all over this stuff pounding us with discouragement and jabs. We would just come up for breath and another punch would be thrown. Our heat got all jacked up in the house through unknown reasons and we got a $355 gas bill…FOR AN EMPTY HOUSE in February!!! Not gonna lie…cried when I opened that bill. Next month a $270 gas bill. Whoa satan….you aren’t playing. Consequently, the gas company will also not take charm as payment. Whats wrong with people? Don’t they know I’m an adorable 5’2″ girl with a big gummy smile??? Let’s call it even!

As each month rolled on and each bill came in things went from stressful to kinda exciting. We knew we couldn’t make money appear so it would HAVE to be Jesus pouring out His provision. We decided to offer spring mini sessions to figure out how to pay for the March mortgage.

This time….one day filled up and NONE for the other day. Head scratcher. Okay Lord, we are availing ourselves and our gifts to you….let’s go….bring us some people to photograph….come on…what’s the hold up?

A wise couple came to pray with us one night and we were sharing the story how the mini sessions weren’t booking up and he said, “It’s like training wheels guys. That which seems so indispensable to keep you safe is now hindering you the most from trusting God.” The photography is our training wheels. It’s that skill we try to play like our trump card. We know it, we rely on it and fall back on it. When he took that away…..well, it really was “Let’s wait and see what GOD does.” Here is the mortgage bill God, here is that crazy huge gas bill God.

Ryan has the gift of faith. It’s a gift that very few people intrinsically possess. He has the ability to absorb devastating news, rapid change of circumstance and stressful situations with barely a flinch or emotional response. It is wonderful and annoying. (I kid… I’m thankful we are not both in a heap of snot and tears at life’s greatest trials)

I’m Philip. Maybe you are Philip too. Look at these familiar verses in John 6 when Jesus and Philip come upon the crowd near the sea of Galilee.

5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”
7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

You see Philip’s response? He LOOKS WITH HIS EYES and CALCULATES WITH HIS BRAIN the exact solution. An impossible problem to solve with the resources in front of them. Did you notice I left out verse six? Check out this gem (face palm for glazing over it my whole life.)

6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

HE was TESTING HIM. He already knew what he was going to do. (ummmm…fish and loaves miracle anyone?)

Here is Kelly seeing with her eyes our bank account and looking ahead at what is booked on the calendar and it is an IMPOSSIBLE problem to fix with the resources we posses.

Guys….this season of continual financial loss, waiting month after month for our house to sell which has come with setback after setback, extra bills, service calls, repairs, hours and hours on the phone, etc… This is my test much more than Ryan’s. Oh this is a test I want to pass. I want to be the teacher’s pet in fact. I’ve needed to learn ruthless trust and not just saying God is good and his provision boundless…but I want that to be the very air I breath in and out.

Jen Hatmaker spoke about “Real Faith” at IF GATHERING last month. I want you to read an excerpt of my notes:

” Faith does not mean you understand the whole definition of God or that you don’t doubt. Faith does not demand that God explain himself. He is mysterious and Paul says his was are “unsearchable” Don’t wait until you have full possession of knowledge before you take full possession of God. No one ever has or ever will leave this world unscathed. Suffering is a part of life while satan still rules. God is good. You want it to be true in the day, but it’s even better in the night.”

You want to know what I saw happen on March 15th?

The day our mortgage bill was absolutely due. As in the LAST DAY of the grace period of paying it. The huge gas bill was also due that day. Up to that point we had seen some deposits trickle in for the one day of mini sessions we booked. We had half the money we needed to pay those two bills on the 15th. I was giving it to 2:00pm that day for the mail to come to see if a miracle would happen or if I would have to call in those bills on a credit card. I was not crying guys, I was excited. Do you know that morning two people asked if they could PayPal me their full mini session payments today, Ryan called to say he had received a reimbursement for some doctor bills at work and in the mail came two more deposits. God did it…..to the minute. We had the money to pay those bills. It was amazing.

This calls for another GIF!

Do you know it’s been a year since we have booked a wedding? We have been slowly leaving the industry over the last five years just taking a few a year for fun and extra income. For some reason the Lord has all but dried up this area of our photography until two days ago when we booked a wedding, or should we say…God blessed us with April’s mortgage payment. I mean really Jesus? So incredible.

It’s 12:50pm on Friday. In about ten minutes an inspector is coming to our city house because we have a contract on it!! I have asked our prayer circle to pray what I am calling a “Daniel and the lion’s den prayer”. Whatever could kill, destroy, maim or stop this contract from going through… may it be silenced. We have an inspection and an appraisal to get through. We also have to come to the table with a sickening amount of money in order to close on this house. I don’t know how this story will end, or how we will ever recoup the tens of thousands of dollars lost but I know that this has been one of the hardest and best seasons of my spiritual walk.

Jen is right, God is good in the day….but he is even BETTER in the night.

Don’t be a Philip. Stop calculating with your eyes and your brain your circumstances. Don’t dwell on scenarios that may or may not come to fruition. Let God fully have your trust for His ways are unsearchable and they are always, Always, ALWAYS good.

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