The End and the Beginning

Well, why not introduce myself a little by sharing the story about how my family and I closed one chapter of life in Atlanta and began a new one in Seattle 4 years ago almost to the day.  There are many factors that lead us to move out here, which I’ll explain in another post. For now, here is a story about the in between stage of our life filled with uncertainty before we began settling our roots here. The post below was written several years ago on our family blog. It’s long, but worth the read. Hope you enjoy.

. . . . .

So.  We moved.  Five months ago we said good bye to Atlanta, and hello to the great wide West.  We drove for nearly a month all across this gorgeous country, visiting with family, catching up with friends old and new,Airbnb.com-ing it, hiking dusty trails and stopping at tourist sites like The Grand Canyon and Vegas.  All with an energetic toddler and hungry infant in tow.  What an adventure we had.  And we survived! Actually more than survived, we had a blast!

So to all those nay-sayers who said we were absolutely crazy to think about road tripping with two little ones, we did it all without hitting our children, getting into an accident, or getting into a fist-fight (with strangers OR each other).  That, my friends, is a victory.  Eventually, though, we were glad to retire our road warrior days (for the time being) and land on the east side of “The Emerald City”, in Kirkland, home of Costco.  This is where we call home now, five minutes from Lake Washington, fifteen from Seattle, an hour from the Pacific Ocean and thousands of miles from Atlanta, the place we began our lives together as a family.

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But let’s go back. Back to where the story is a little more heavy before it got a lot more light.

Seven months ago, I birthed our second baby boy in the living room of our first and only home in Atlanta.  After having a pretty unexpected c-section with Will, this could not have been a more redeeming experience.  It was beautiful, empowering, ILLUMINATING.  That moment will live in my heart forever, and our family will be eternally marked by that experience in that house.

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Two months later, that house was on fire.

Here’s how it went – we spent weeks packing all the things inside the house that made it our home, and put them on a Penske truck.  On the night of May 30th, Mike began the drive across the country with all our belongings rattling around behind him while I took the boys to a friend’s house in Atlanta for a week while we waited for his return.  THIS WAS IT!  We did it, everything was on schedule (and that’s huge for this often-disorganized-and-late mama).  In a week we would begin our adventure, all four of us, in our car, headed to the next chapter out west.  We even had friends lined up to rent our place in Atlanta.  They were scheduled to be moving in the next morning.

But that next morning, two hours before our friends moved in, our house caught on fire.  At 5 am, the fire department received a call about a small fire under the porch that some passing neighbors stomped out.  Firefighters came out, investigated, no damage done.  Then around 7am, another call reporting a chair on the porch in flames.  The officials said they believed it could be arson.  By the time the firefighters arrived that second time, the whole front half of the house was in flames.

It was all a blur in the moment, but when I think back, it is crystal clear.  Mike woke me with a phone call telling me the news.  He said it was big, really big. I could hear the tightness and fear in his voice as he told me a friend had called to tell him there was a fire in our house and it sounded bad.  It was unreal, how do you process your house being on fire? Go-mode switched on, emotions needed to wait.

I had to rush to get the boys ready, drop my oldest off with a friend and go to the house to answer questions for the investigators. The fire was out at this point, the house charred to it’s core.  Fire trucks lined our little residential street. Neighbors stood around asking if I was ok, speculating what happened. Someone said they thought Georgia, our dog, got out alive (she had stayed in the house over night to scare away any possible trouble makers). The girls who were going to move in were there, they stayed with me and watched my 3 month old, until every last question was answered.  I will never forget their care and kindness in those hours. They were there for me while Mike couldn’t be because we had decided it was best for him to keep driving.

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The house was black, the front wall burned down, windows busted out, holes in the roof, front porch demolished, a thick black coat of soot covering the entire upstairs.  Just writing this hurts my heart so much as I remember.  The home we made there, it was gone.  The home we first called ‘ours’.  The kitchen I bumbled in night after night trying to figure out how to cook on a 40 year old stove that was missing 2 burners.  The bathroom Mike and I prayed in when we took our first pregnancy test.  The basement we remodeled to open our home to friends and strangers.  The porch we built to welcome neighbors.  The living room I birthed our second child in.  THE LIVING ROOM.

Here’s the thing, we knew we were moving.  We knew we were saying good-bye.  In fact, we already had.  It was emotional and all, but we had been reminding ourselves that we are not tied to buildings or places, we find our home when and where we follow God’s leading in our lives.  And we believed that, and it gave us peace, REAL PEACE, in a time I would normally be a basketcase of emotions and goodbyes and memories and tears.

But to have that place, that home, BURN DOWN?  And to suspect it as arson???  It felt like a dream, a really bad dream.

Fast forward fives months later, I’m happy to say now, even through tears remembering that sad day, God has been faithful to us more than we can express.  Through friends and neighbors caring for us, through insurance agents going above and beyond, through the relief that the damages were completely covered, through our dog Georgia surviving the fire without a scratch, through none of our important possessions being harmed.  All these things have given us hope in the midst of a crazy time.

I’ve come to describe it as the best case scenario of a terrible situation.  But most overwhelming was the strange feeling that this was indeed the end of our chapter in Atlanta, there is no turning back.  And we are really ok with that.  We’ve both felt a sense of relief with it all.  Like I said, it is strange, and confusing and we still feel hurt by the questions surrounding the start of the fire.  But God has given us an incredible peace and assurance that we are headed in the right direction, and the confusion is not for us to fret over.  God is not a God of confusion, so we choose to let it lie.  Regarding this, our heads and our hearts are clear.

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And so what a time to explore the great Pacific Northwest and refresh our souls.  Arriving in early July, we had the most incredible sun-drenched summer filled with as many trips to the beach down the street as possible. And now, Washington is wooing us with all it’s rainbow bright, apple-filled autumn beauty.  We are resting here, in a big 4 bedroom century-old family home, with anticipation for what this new chapter will hold.  But if anything we’ve learned through this, it’s to hold our things loosely, and hug one another closely wherever we go because we never know what can happen overnight.

 

UPDATE—- After writing this post, months later we were able to purchase a home in Seattle, our dream home.  We are beyond grateful for the way our story has unfolded and how we have experienced God’s provision in our lives. It would have taken us a LONG time to be able to afford our home had it not been for the housefire in Atlanta….and that my friends, is how God replaces beauty for ashes, LITERALLY. It seems crazy but we are beyond grateful and firmly rooted in our faith in a mysterious and generous God.

View More: http://ampostaphotography.pass.us/nienaberfamily

Mojo on mommas.

 

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