Thursday, July 29, 2010

Family Prayer Box

5 and Joshua said to them, "Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' 7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever." Joshua 4:5-7

This last month has been full of blessings. I have lived a very blessed life but I cannot remember a time where I felt like I was being overloaded with such unmerited and unexplainable gifts from God in such quantity. As we prepare to move into our new home next weekend, I am more and more convinced that God has given us that home to be a memorial for our family to remind us of God's provision and blessings.

A few years ago, Tim and I wanted to create something tangible that could help us remember the many ways God has answered our prayers and provided for our family. We talked about journaling but wanted to have something that could be set out in our living room and be noticed. Our desire was that whatever we used would be a conversation piece for those who came to our home so that when we were asked, "hey, what's that?" we could share the many ways God has blessed our family.

We decided on this cool photo box I found online, and had "The Kanallakan Family Prayer Box" engraved on the top. We filled the box with index cards and periodically fill them out with our family prayer requests and praises of God's provision.

As I was filling out new cards filled with the many blessings of this month, I was so encouraged and filled as I read through the many cards we had written throughout the last 3 years. Answered prayers for a new (and free) car when ours was totaled, finding out I was pregnant the same day Tim was offered a job, God leading us out of a unhealthy church situation into a place where we could heal. God's provision and blessings again and again, written in our own hand writing for our children and their children to read and be encouraged.

Here are a few of the things that went into the box today:

  •  New, beautiful home
  •  Incredibly low interest rate
  •  Escrow closing a week early
  •  Keys handed to us on our Anniversary
  •  $3000 gift from builder for window treatments
  •  Our Realtor gifting us one of the garage door opener units ($300.00)
  •  Notary finding mistake in our paperwork and, as a result, our monthly mortgage payment dropped   $60 a month
  •  Mortgage is now less than our rent in Ventura
  •  Tankless water heater was stolen off our house the night after we took ownership. The lead contractor worked it out to replace the heater at no cost to us
  •  Apartment Manager allowed us to break our lease with no penalty fees

Thank you Jesus!!!


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Beauty of New and the Joys of Old.

Since entering the world of home ownership, both Tim and I have been able to think of little else but how blessed we are. We are incredibly overwhelmed by this gift of a home and have been trying to enjoy the adventure of buying the needed appliances and furnishings. I say "trying" because it is not natural for either of us to spend money. We have lived on a very tight budget since getting married and have always tried to be frugal with our purchases. This whole "go to Sears and buy a new fridge" deal is new territory.

The idea of "buying new" is also tough to wrap my brain around because I have always been happy to fix up old things. Actually, I LOVE to fix up old things. So, though we are blessed to have so wonderful new things in our new home, I am thrilled about a few of the old things we are working on fixing up as well.

Here is last weekends project...

My in-laws have had a pile of old wood in their back yard since they built their home 20 years ago. The wood pieces varied in size and were left over from the beautiful beams they used to decorate their house. Tim and I have had our eye on the wood for a few years now and always imagined using the wood for a reclaimed coffee table like this lovely piece from Restoration Hardware:

After thinking it through, however, we decided a rough wood coffee table was an unsafe option for small children and that at this point in our lives, the stuffed ottoman was still the way to go.

We began to dream up new ideas for the cool, weathered wood and settled on making a headboard for our new bedroom. Though we saw a few ideas that were inspiring, we had our own vision for what we wanted and began working on it this past weekend. 

First my very talented husband and father-in-law cut the boards and arranged them into 2x4s. 
Sawyer helped draw up the plans :).

Then they put in the big black bolts, first- to hold up the beams, and second- to make it look cool.

We thought we were done once the bolts were in but then my father-in-law brought out these beauties from his shed...

My in-laws bought these antique door hinges at a garage sale over 25 years ago. We cleaned them up, painted them,  roughed them up again and set them on the headboard to see what they would look like...

Now we have the option of making the headboard look like an old door. We haven't bolted the hinges on yet because we ran out of the right sized bolts. What do you think??? Should we go plain and just have the wooden planks or do we add the bolts and make our own door-like headboard?

Either way, I am in love with this headboard and thankful to my husband and father-in-law for putting it together. 

Here is the bedspread from Anthropologie that I think would pair well with the headboard:
Of course I would never pay the $300 dollars to purchase this beauty so here is the affordable alternative from West Elm that I am seriously considering: 

What do you think???

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Blessings in the Central Valley

(A very photo-shopped  image of Visalia)
I know, I know. This blog post is way over due. I've been meaning to sit and fill in the details of our recent move to the Central Valley but I feel like so much is going on I don't know where to begin. But I know a few of our friends and family are interested in the details so I will do my best to present the condensed version of this past month...

We moved to Visalia just over a month ago and, to be completely honest, came dragging our feet a bit. Though we were excited about making a fresh start, Tim beginning a new job, and the housing market possibilities, we LOVE living by the ocean. We were not one of those families who live by the beach but never go. We played at the beach all the time.
Plus, we had just started to settle it at a new church, I had just found an amazing new group of mommy friends and was enjoying amazing weekly fellowship with the mentors in my women's Bible study. We were not ready to move. Especially not to the Central Valley. 

But we came. We packed up our little beach bungalow and headed North. After a bit of a hiccup with which apartment unit we would actually be living in, we unpacked and began to settle in.

After about two weeks of figuring out where the nearest grocery store was and the easiest way to get to our bank, I began to feel myself going insane. First of all, its flippin' hot in Visalia. Monday we enjoyed a lovely day of 106 degrees. Oh my. Since we are currently living in a second story apartment and know very few people in our new town, it did not take long before the boredom set in. My initial solution was to hang out in air-conditioned stores. That got expensive quickly. Then I tried getting back into crafting/sewing. This was a good solution for a few days but the end result was still me with no friends, in hot Visalia. At least I now had a cute pillow to talk to.

Two weeks ago, a friend of a friend, who heard we were new to the area, sent me a facebook message inviting me to a ladies evening Bible Study she was involved in. What a God-send that invite was. I (all to eagerly) agreed to come and spent the entire day anxious to meet new people. I was thrilled to discover the ladies were all around my age and are all seeking to be more like Christ. I had a wonderful time that first night and am leaving for my third evening with them in a couple of hours. Thank you Jesus for providing sisters to share my burdens with and pray over me!

As far as the church search goes, we have some really good options on the table. We have been attending a fairly large church for the last couple weeks but I'm not sure it is where God will have us end up. After our experience in Ventura at the beginning of this year, I am having to deal with some fears that I am afraid will keep me from being able to settle in anywhere. My prayer is that God will make it abundantly clear to us where He wants us to get involved and that we will feel... "safe" among that body of believers very quickly.

Ok so now for the house stuff.

So we weren't planning on moving forward with any home purchasing decisions until September ish. Our goal was to be in a new house by Christmas. Because of some less than ideal things that have happened at our apartment complex, we called our Realtor and spent our second weekend in Visalia looking at homes. The first house hunt outing was primarily to get to know our Realtor and for her to get to know us and what we were looking for. We had an interesting afternoon discovering what our price range looked like in the form of homes and attempting to keep Sawyer from driving the nice Realtor crazy. The following weekend my lovely in-laws came up and watched Sawyer so we could get a bit more looking done. Our Realtor took us to a neighborhood I had fallen in love with when we drove through Visalia for the first time. The homes are amazing and so right up my alley as far as color and style go. At the time, we were all sure they were way out of our price range but decided to ask about incentives and deals anyways. We met with the seller and crunched numbers and were amazed that with the builders incentives, we could afford to buy my dream house. We took the information and went home totally overwhelmed and trying not to be too excited. Saturday night we talked and prayed until late and Sunday morning we called my parents to see if they could come up and look at the house. They hopped in their car and made it to Visalia by dinner time that same day.

My parents, like my in-laws, loved the home. Tim and I spent the next couple days praying and seeking council from a few other people and on Friday, signed papers to begin escrow. Today, almost a week later, we had our initial walk through with the builder to ensure all structural and cosmetic aspects of the home are perfect and move-in ready. It looks like escrow will close on July 30th and we will be home-owners!!

The house is so much more than anything we could have ever imagined we would buy. We both know it is a gift from God and are so thankful. I was struggling last week with feeling guilty about living in such a nice home while so many people live in poverty. I shared my heart with my new Bible study sisters and one of them spoke straight into my heart when she said, "Amber, stop asking God how it is that you get to live in such a beautiful home and start asking Him why He has given it to you. What is it He wants you to do with it?"

Her words came straight from God and since then I have been asking God what it is He wants us to do with our new home. I am excited to hear His answer. I look forward to hosting Bible Studies and Christmas parties and fellowshipping with our brothers and sisters in our new home.

So thats our update as of July 1st. Thank you to all of our friends and family who have been praying for us during this transition. Greater things are yet to come...