Saturday, December 27, 2008

La la la la la la means "I love you"

Last year, Justin and I celebrated Christmas in my college apartment a few days before I made the 8-hour drive back to my parents home, knowing I would see Justin in a few days when he flew into Houston to meet my parents for the first time and to celebrate New Years Eve with me.

Spending the holidays in Oklahoma this year was wonderful, tiring, and sad all at the same time. It was the first Christmas I had truly spent without my family. I spent one Christmas in Brazil during my junior year of high school, but I pretend as though that Christmas away from my family didn't actually occur because, well, Christmas with my family didn't mean as much to me then as it does now. As hard as it was to be away from my family and my traditions, I had a wonderful, though exhausting, Christmas with Justin's family, my new family.

Many of Justin's relatives had asked his mother if I was there for Christmas 2007, and my sister in law remarked that it was hard to remember a Christmas without me there. In some ways, it is the same way for me. Since meeting Justin, my life has changed in a million exciting ways, and I struggle with how the heck I survived without him for so long.

Our big Christmas present of 2008 is the house we are working towards purchasing. There are so many things we have to coordinate and purchase and figure out with this house, and it's overwhelming. At least, it's overwhelming for me as I am the sort of person who wants to have everything lined out perfectly and planned early. Of course, after looking at the price tags of the items we need to purchase, I am beginning to understand that there is no way everything will be lined out perfectly and planned early.

Justin and I are still waiting to hear back from the realtor regarding the exact date we will be closing on. There's a large part of us that wants to close and then move as soon as possible, but there is another part of us that is willing to wait until January 16th to close, simply because then we will not have a mortgage payment until March 1st. Either way, I know the closing date will occur when it is meant to because I can't believe this opportunity to purchase the house is from anyone other than God.

Justin and I are well-aware of the fact that we would not be where we currently are without God and His plan for our lives.

It doesn't make any sense that less than four months after getting married we can purchase a house, especially with the debt we have and the fact that neither of us make a ton of money. It doesn't make sense that we've been blessed enough to find a house within our price range in the area of town we like. There are things wrong with the house, and its a house that will require love and work while we live in it. We are both well aware of this. Still, its a house that is opening huge doors for us. Its a house that will provide so much for us and in turn provide so much for others. And I can only think of that as the reason for our being able to purchase it right now.

The church Justin and I attend is one we want to serve in. But not only do we want to serve in the church, we want to serve the population that the church serves, the population of Oklahoma City. With this house, we'll be able to entertain people, to open our doors to people and invite them it, and we'll have the chance to truly plant roots in Oklahoma City, something that I don't think either of us ever truly expected to do.

We planned on moving to Fort Worth or possibly somewhere else. We never really planned to remain in Oklahoma City, and while it is still strange to think of remaining in Oklahoma City for quite some time, we're both certain that this is God's current plan for us. We just hope that we don't fully screw it up.

Watching: The Family Man

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Few Quick Thoughts

It's early on a Sunday morning, and I stayed beneath a mountain of blankets with my husband for as long as I could. Soon I'll have to brave the chilled, winter air to get ready for a busy Sunday, but for now, I'll remain comfortable in my sweatpants and Paris sweatshirt.

Justin and I are moving along with the process of purchasing a house. It's exciting and full of anxiety as we are not quite sure what will happen, when things will happen, or what we need to do. Still, it looks as though we will have the chance to move into our very own house in a matter of weeks.

We are so thankful for this, as we survived a fire in our apartment complex earlier this week and could not be more ready to get the heck out of here! We are also thankful for the move as we now have the opportunity to purchase our own washer and dryer, which is so exciting as we have spent over $10 each month on laundry in the apartment laundry facility. I am also thankful for all the furniture shopping I will get to do as I decorate and fill my very own house. And I get free reign on the decorating, which makes it even more exciting.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Make This Go On Forever

Over the past week, I pouted a lot. Mainly, I pouted about the house that was not. I told people about this perfect house and all the great amenities. Then, I sighed and stuck out my lower lip to explain that the house was under contact by other buyers and that I cried over this. I am positive Justin loved being around me while I did this.

Yesterday afternoon, I left work a bit early. I grabbed two hot drinks from Starbucks, and then I made my way to a house in the Central Park addition of Oklahoma City. Looking at the pictures, we knew that the house had a lot of potential, and that the house also had the possibility of requiring a lot of time and attention. I'm a fan of any show on TLC, which drives Justin crazy at times, so I know how big of an undertaking it can be to flip a house. Because of my love of all things TLC, I also know that right now Justin and I are not prepared financially or otherwise to flip a house.

After walking through the home and peeking into the backyard, we decided that the house had a lot of potential, a lot of great quirks, but that we just weren't ready to take it on.

Our next house to view was in the Jefferson Park area of Oklahoma City. The price was low for the home, but my women's intuition kicked in and I just didn't feel as though this house had the potential to be our home. I felt chaustrophobic in the kitchen, and the floor plan was a bit too cramped for my style.

Next, we headed to the heart of the Paseo District to look at a house that I had counted out from the pictures I'd viewed online. Walking up to the front door, however, I began to notice that the pictures online did not do this charming 1,761 square foot home any justice.

We walked through the home, and I felt like I was in the house that I wanted to call and consider my home for a long time to come. The wood floors were in great condition. There was no real settling to be seen. The kitchen was updated. A brand new central air conditioning unit as well as central heater had recently been installed.

The house was dilapidated not too long ago, and someone bought it for a steal and flipped it. We fell in love with it, and I had almost decided that this was the house. We had one more home to view, and while I was 95% sure it wouldn't be a great fit, I went in with an open mind. Very quickly, though, we realized that the house in the Paseo District was where we wanted to be.

We met with our realtor at her office and began the task of signing paperwork, making an offer, and ultimately decided that we truly wanted to pursue purchasing the house in the Paseo District, with the understanding that we could possibly close in the middle of January and move in prior to Justin and I's belated honeymoon in Costa Rica this February.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

People Go And People Wait

We didn't get the house. The house was already under contract, which we learned yesterday afternoon. Justin and I are doing our best to trust God that He has a better house and a better plan for us. I am very much struggling with the trust right now because my heart is a bit broken. However, I do know that He is in control; I just don't particularly like the direction His control is steering us. Which is normal for me. I fight Him quite often, though He is always right.

There's not a lot to report in the world of Justin and Leslie. Justin is already at work, loving on autistic children and serving people in an undeniably loving manner, and I am about to close my computer and step into a warm shower to prepare myself for a day of serving others and learning how to better trust God.

Stay warm all!

Listening To: Rufus Wainwright - Spotlight on Christmas
Thinking Of: What awaits me today

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Oh, The Possibilities

Justin and I met with a realtor this afternoon. The house we planned to see (and did see) was a house that would be a perfect project for "Flip That House." We, however, are not perfect contestants for that show.

There just happened to be another house for sale on the same street, and this house, while in need of some work, is not a perfect project for "Flip That House." Instead, it could quite possibly be the perfect house for Justin and I to call our first home. That is as long as God says okay and gives us the blessing to make an offer on the house, an offer that is about 15% under the asking price. Then we'll just have to trust that God will take care of all the details we can't wrap our minds around.

Right now, we just have to trust, and trust we will. And while we trust, I will trust you all to look at some pictures of the house and fall just as in love with the home as Justin and I did this afternoon.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ones Who Entertain And Ones Who Observe

We attended a class from 9:30am until 2:30pm today. The class was titled "The Way", and it was put on by the church we have been visiting for the past several weeks, Frontline Church. 

Justin and I have been consistently moved by the sermons at Frontline Church. When I say moved, I mean that we have felt as though the words being spoken were Truth. I do not mean that the sermons made us feel good or gave us goosebumps. While I am not stating that those things are bad, I want to clarify what I mean by the statement that the sermons moved us.

After the class "The Way", Justin and I planned on beginning the official task of house hunting. We were scheduled to meet with a realtor to see a house in the Paseo District of Oklahoma City. About 20 minutes prior to our scheduled meeting time, however, our realtor called and said that she did not have the code to get into the house. We're hoping to see the house tomorrow, and we're hoping to possibly stumble on a few open houses tomorrow afternoon.

Life is moving quickly for us, and it's exciting to think of how many changes might await us in the coming days. It's also exciting to watch the number of presents increase under our Christmas tree and to think of the first married Christmas we have to look forward to.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Like A Splash Of Water To My Face

My friend Emily recently tagged my blog as fabulous and provided me with a "your blog is fabulous" award. There is a catch to her compliment, and that catch is that I need to list five fabulous addictions as well as tag five other people as having fabulous blogs.

I can easily compile a list of five fabulous addictions, since I have far too many addictions. It might be difficult to tag five other people, but I will do my best. Who knows if they will see the tag or not.

1. Ugg Sweater Boots
Obviously, Ugg Sweater Boots are something that I find fabulous to wear. Justin does not wear Ugg Sweater Boots, so I am not 100% clear on whether or not he finds them fabulous. To me they are fabulous for many reasons. First, they are warm, and I enjoy almost anything that provides me warmth during the cold winter, especially since I am doing my best to keep the heater off as much as possible. Second, the boots look amazing with dresses and leggings/tights or with jeans, and that alone makes me love Ugg Sweater Boots.

2. Gossip Girl
If you were at our reception on September 13, 2008 and stayed for the toasts, you were able to hear my best friend and roommate from college explain that I have an obsession with television. She also listed several of the shows I am a fan of, such as The Hills, One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl, and Grey's Anatomy. And she informed all of the guests still at our reception that Justin now enjoys watching Gossip Girl. I am sure he appreciated this, and I am sure he appreciates that I am writing this for all of the Internet to read. Dan & Serena, forever!

3. Christmas
I used to love Christmas because I loved getting stuff. To be honest, I still love the idea of getting stuff, though it is much harder for me to think of what I want for the holidays in comparison to the lengthy lists I used to make. This year, Justin and I will be spending our first Christmas together, ever. Obviously it will be our first married Christmas. We have small budgets set for each other, and we are planning on spending more money on adopting a family who would be unable to have Christmas without our help. I may have put the Christmas tree up over a week prior to Thanksgiving, and I may have begun listening to Christmas music a week prior to Thanksgiving. However, it truly began to feel like Christmas when I bean thinking about providing for others.

4. Starbucks
I love Starbucks. I am certifiably obsessed with the way soy milk enhances an already delicious vanilla latte. I love how coffee warms me from the inside out. I love that when Christmas begins to approach Starbucks celebrating by offering even more overpriced Christmas flavored drinks. I just do not love how expensive Starbucks tends to be; if it were cheaper, I might be able to swing purchasing it on a daily basis. As Real Simple, Real Life on TLC pointed out, I could save $100 a month by not purchasing a coffee drink on a daily basis.

5. Marriage
Its odd to put marriage down as an obsession since I was against the idea of marriage for so long, but now that I am married to someone I fully intend to spend the rest of my life with (unless Edward Cullen from Twilight comes to life and realizes he loves Leslie and not Bella), I love marriage. I love falling asleep next to someone each and every night. I love laughing with him on a daily basis. I love cuddling on the couch and watching television. I love making decisions with someone else. I love having someone to cook for, instead of just myself, and I love waiting for the next season of my life with another by my side.

Listening To: Kate Voegle - Only Fooling Myself
Deciding: Whether or not to work out at home this morning or to go to the gym following work.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Good And Evil Against My Chest

Justin and I both have a strong faith in God, and we have both felt our faith in God waiver during different periods of our lives. I can't speak for Justin, but I can say that there have been times when I have strongly questioned God's presence in my life. I've known that God existed for quite some time. I even stopped denying His existence in high school. However, I've always felt that He didn't exist in my life the way He did in others lives. I always decided there was nothing I could do to fix this fact because I felt as though I had already done everything and received nothing from my efforts.

On Sunday, Justin and I attended the church we are considering making our home church, Frontline Church in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City. Pastor Dave chose this Sunday to preach on what we do to stand in the way of God' full and amazing power. There were 6 things, and I wrote them down on a piece of paper that is currently stuffed in one of my purses. While I can't remember all 6 things, I do clearly remember thinking "holy crap, I am totally guilty of doing all those things...whoops?"

I spent time last night reading Genesis, in my attempt to hopefully read the entire Bible in 365 days, and then praying. And today, my prayers were answered in a way I did not expect. While I can't go into the details of how the prayer was answered, I can say that I am blown away by God's ability to leave me speechless and practically in (joyful) tears while sitting in my cubicle at work.

There have been so many times in the past when I have felt as though there was so much more out there for me. And I still feel that way. I can also recognize that I stood in my way in the past and that I am still currently standing in my way. I'm just stubborn enough, though, that I don't usually want to change my ways until God takes a 2x4 and whacks me upside the head. Usually, the whacks hurt and leave a huge lump. This time, the whack was wonderful and has left me with a goofy smile.

What this comes down to, I guess, is simple. God is showing me that I need to stop planning so much. While I know He doesn't want me to walk through life blindly, He does want me to let go of all my plans and ideas and need to be in control. I know this to be a fact because the place I am at in my life right now is a place I, honestly, never wanted to be in.

I planned to move far away from the southern region of the United States. I planned to reside in New York City or Los Angeles or Chicago or Paris or Beijing or some other equally amazing and gigantic city. I planned to never marry, at least not before I turned 30. I planned to teach. I planned.. a lot of things.

Instead, I stayed in Oklahoma City. I married right out of college, at the age of 23, after knowing the man for (not even) 12 months. I'm not a teacher. The salary I make at my current job is much smaller than I planned for or hoped for. Still, the job I have is one I feel is a perfect fit, a little ironic gift from God that tells me He has a better plan for my life than I could have imagined.

And all of this makes me realize how in control He is. It also makes me realize that He will continue to bless me as well as my husband and my marriage. And while it will be difficult to give up my oh so careful planning for the future, as well as some of my materialistic desires, I know it will be worth it.

Listening To: Alli Rogers - Eden
Reading: Text message from Justin - "Cool! I'm getting off at 9."