We Bought a House!

This new decade is overflowing with twists and turns at every corner. 2020 was the year of uncertainty. 2021 is currently a real estate nightmare. If you’ve read my blog, you’ll know that, as a family, we are on the Dave Ramsey financial plan. We graduated to baby step three and fully funded our emergency fund. We then saved more for a down payment on a house. My husband and I were ecstatic when we finally set up a meeting with a realtor! It was time to look for our family home. We recited our wish list, put in the numbers and specifications on the realtor website, and reality hit hard. Only five houses showed up.

Our realtor reassured us to not worry and to stay positive. Yet I had to wonder if we were ever going to find a house. I shook off the doubt and did not let that hinder my excitement. We plunged into the world of buying a house! We looked….

And looked…

And looked…

Until it was becoming a nightmare. Houses (in Michigan specifically) were selling for at least ten thousand over asking. Have you ever heard of an appraisal guarantee? Yeah, I had no clue either. It’s basically bribe money for the seller. Let’s say you offered $250,000 on a $225,000 house. If you offered an appraisal guarantee of $10,000, and the house was appraised at $225,000, then you would have to pay $235,000. No matter what, you would have to pay $10,000 over what the house appraises for. This is on top of closing costs and your down payment. Does that make sense?

At first, we refused to offer an appraisal guarantee. We didn’t have the extra money to give away when we were already shelling out thousands of dollars. Yet my husband and I quickly learned that the sellers aren’t even considering offers without one. The white flag was raised and we agreed to offering an appraisal guarantee on a house. Our offer was still blown out of the water. My positivity quickly grew to discouragement and anger.

I’ll admit it – I was angry. I’m going to get brutally honest with you all. I was a selfish child complaining to my father in heaven quite often. Why haven’t you given us a house yet?! Why are you giving other people houses and not us? What did we do wrong that you’re holding out on us?? I feel horrible just typing those. However, that’s what I was thinking at the time. I would hear stories of friends having houses dropping in their lap, and my bitterness grew. My husband and I took a drive and I vented and cried my heart out. I couldn’t understand God’s plan. I was panicking because it was messing up my timeline. Fast forward to our house.

My husband showed me the nice colonial style house online (check number one – I did not want a ranch) and I numbly agreed to go take a look at it. I was used to rejection at this point so I was indifferent about any house we saw. The kicker was, they hadn’t posted any pictures of the inside yet. However, since they put the house online before it became officially on the market, we assumed they were waiting until the launch day. We got to the house and it was on an acre of land with woods on one side of it (check number two – we wanted to be more in the country). My spirits were slightly lifted when our realtor called the seller’s and told us some interesting news. They were installing new carpet and it hasn’t come in yet, so that’s why they still haven’t posted the inside pictures yet. On top of that, we were the only people scheduled to see the house that day. We walked in the door and it checked every box on our list. My husband and I looked at each other and I knew we had the same thought – we might actually have a chance at this house.

Since there was no other interest in the house, we decided to take the plunge (again) and send in an offer. My hopes were not high, in fact, I had no hope at all. We’ve done this dance before, and our previous dance partners have left us in the dust on our butts. Yet while we waited for an answer, my Mom had me listen to a new worship song called “Wait on You” by Maverick City Music and Elevation Worship. As the music and lyrics enveloped me in God’s presence, I broke down. God brought my feelings of anger and bitterness to the forefront of my mind. I felt so ashamed. There is a verse in the song that says:

“It’s about what you do when you wait,

Why complain? When you can praise…”

With tears streaming down my face, I said I was sorry over and over. I was so sorry for the irrational, childish way I was behaving. I started to praise. I listed everything I was grateful for; everything that was a blessing in my life. I drew in a deep breath, and smiled genuinely for the first time in a long while. After the song was over, my husband came to me and told me that we had to schedule an inspection. It took a moment to sink in, but I realized that WE GOT THE HOUSE!

Needless to say I bawled my eyes out again.

Maybe God was waiting for my attitude to change. Maybe He was protecting us from a house we thought we loved but would end up hating in a year. Who knows? All I know is that I serve an amazing God who knows the very hairs on our heads; the God who sees you and listens to your grumbling, yet still loves you. The God who turns our mourning into dancing. The God who blesses us with more than we deserve.

I am beyond thrilled to start making this house our home. Through my (uncomfortable) vulnerability, I hope our testimony shows just how much God cares for us. I don’t want to pretend to be a perfect Christian, because I’m not. We all go through seasons where the valleys are just plain tough. Yet I could not agree more with the song; it’s about what we do in the waiting. Once I corrected my mindset, God gave me an answer. I believe these lessons are designed to help us grow. We need to lean on God entirely for our strength. While we wait, let’s praise.

With love,

Em

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3TYG7Q_fj4

Mackinac Island | Travel With Me

Mackinac (Mack-in-aw) Island is one of the most beautiful places in Michigan. I have not been to the island since I was a young girl, so reliving everything again was breathtaking (even in the frigid, rainy temperatures). There are no cars or any motorized transportation on the island, so the only way to get anywhere is by a bicycle or by horse. With there being no cars allowed, you have to take a ferry to get onto the island, which makes the experience more memorable.

Though I have biked around the island many times, this was the first time I experienced riding in the horse-drawn carriage. Even though it’s pricey, I highly recommend the private tour if you take a carriage. The private tour takes you around all of the private cottages on the island, plus you get to see the governor’s summer home.  I felt like I was in Pride and Prejudice. One of the benefits to biking around the island is seeing the beautiful views around the island, which is only eight (approx. 8.2) miles around.

Besides bikes and horses, Mackinac is known for its decadent fudge. There are at least three fudge shops to choose from. Plus, they give you as many free samples as you want! The restaurant I would recommend is Millie’s for their kid-friendly meal selection and great selection of options for adults as well. The truffle oil fries with blue cheese appetizer is one to definitely try. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of my food, but I got an olive burger with swiss cheese and Millie’s olive spread. It was a pretty good burger, even though it was messy.

If you have never been to the UP (Upper Peninsula), or at least at the top of the mitten, I would put it on your bucket list. Michigan is a beautiful place, and I’m glad I get to call it my home.

(Click on any image to enlarge)

Confessions of a Maid of Honor: Five Tips to Rock the Job

Recently I was given the “honor” (see what I did there?) to be my best friend’s maid of honor at her wedding. I was absolutely ecstatic! We have been friend’s our entire lives, so this is one of our daydreams coming true. Little did I know everything that a maid of honor entails. There’s so much more to being a maid of honor than giving a little heart-warming speech at the reception. Coming from a now experienced mindset, here are five tips that I’ve come up with to help those new maid of honor’s who are saying, “What did I get myself into?”

  1. Plan Everything Ahead of Time

I can’t stress enough how vital it is to plan everything ahead of time. You are there to make the bride’s life easier – especially when it comes to planning. Your duties are the bachelorette party and the wedding shower (before the wedding – shower is optional depending on the bride). Coming from a true procrastinator, it will make your life so much easier if you plan on a theme and games and prizes ahead of time – and that means more than two weeks prior to the event. Even if you’re not a list person, they help tremendously! Lists make things more manageable and you can focus on one thing at a time, as opposed to looking at everything you have to do and become a huge stress ball. Another suggestion is to enlist the help of your fellow bridesmaids – they are there to help you and can come in handy! If your all far away and can’t get together as often, enlist the help of a close friend. Remember, you don’t have to do everything on your own!

2. Give Options, Not a Million Questions

Your bride to be is already stressed out with a million wedding details; not to mention everything else she has to worry about like the honeymoon, where they’re going to live, etc. Instead of attacking your bride with a million questions as regards to her taste and wants, give her options. She picked you for this special position for a reason, so obviously you know somewhat of what her taste and style is. Instead of asking, “What centerpieces would you like for the shower tables?” Try asking, “I’ve looked at a couple options for a centerpiece for your wedding shower tables. Which one do you like best?” Get planning and researching as soon as you can, because it comes up faster than you can blink. If a plan falls short or something needs to be changed, have backup options. One thing I’ve learned is that sometimes you don’t get everything you want or planned – things happen. Be prepared with options she will love, ask for the go ahead, and get going!

3. Calm and Collected are Your New Names

With everything that’s going on, you are the solid rock your bride is leaning on. Don’t forget that you are there to be for her, but not just for the wedding details. Everyone else is bombarding her with those questions. Make sure you ask how she’s feeling and try to take her mind off of things once in a while. Bring her back to reality and when things were a lot less hectic. Let her vent, cry, laugh, or get out whatever she’s feeling at the moment. If you’re a person that can’t handle stress well, remember this: this too shall pass. The months leading up to the wedding won’t last forever. Word of advice, the last two weeks leading up to the wedding are the most stressful weeks of her pre-wed life – so that’s a good time for getting her mind off of things.

4. Tips for a Clean Bachelorette Party

As a Christian, bachelorette parties are very tricky these days. I had next to no luck searching for clean bachelorette party ideas on Pinterest. So I basically had to make up a theme, find classy decorations, and come up with clean games. With the enlistment of my fellow bridesmaids and a close friend who is a great host, I came up with a spa themed party; complete with facials and mani pedis. Party City has pretty nice bachelorette party decorations if you’re in need of a place to shop (I don’t know if they’re everywhere in the US, I’m from the midwest). There are a ton of games that you can turn into a clean game. Just swap out dirty questions for clean versions, or trade out alcohol for something else. One of the biggest hits was a game called how well do you know the groom, where the bride has to answer questions about the groom and when she gets a question wrong, instead of taking a shot of tequila, she puts a marshmallow in her mouth and keeps it there until the end of the game. It was a hilariously funny game – especially when she turns into a chipmunk and is trying to get out the answer as clearly as she can. A clean bachelorette party is more work planning-wise, but totally worth it and is just as fun!

5. Wedding Day Duties

Ah, the wedding day. What all the months of planning and preparing was for. This day is the most crucial for a maid of honor. You have to help your bride get ready, keep her from having a panic attack, have everything she would need, hold her bouquet, make sure her train looks good on the stage, remember how to tie the bustle, keep everyone in check for pictures, sign the marriage license, remember your speech for the reception, and remember to breathe. It is a very stressful day for you, but your duty is to make sure the bride has as carefree a day and you can manage. You want to make sure she remembers this day as the happiest day of her life. It’s a long list, but it goes so much faster that you’d think. Remember: you’ll have time to relax after your speech. Then it’s time to party! I would suggest you bring some Tylenol for your head and aching feet. Don’t forget to drink water and eat something prior to the reception meal – it wouldn’t be ideal if you pass out before then. I know because of the adrenaline you don’t feel hungry or thirsty, but trust me. Once the adrenaline is gone, you won’t feel so hot. Make sure the bride is hydrated as well! When you look back at the day, if the bride is happy, that means you did well. :]

Photo: Pinterest

What I Wore | Sweater Weather

Wow it’s been a while since I’ve done my last post in this series – sorry about that! It’s hard to find the time to take pictures and have to schedule with someone else to do them. Anyway, taken again by the lovely Samantha Cushman. I’ll put a link to everything down below (click on an image to enlarge it, too). Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hat | Charming Charlie

Sweater | Forever 21

Necklace | Forever 21 (Similar Option)

Skirt | Target (Similar Option)

Purse | Charming Charlie (almost exact)

Booties | Madden Girl

What I Wore | Autumn Plaid

Shot by the lovely Samantha Cushman – I realized there were no pictures of my shoes…oh well. I’ll link them with the other items so you can see what they looked like. :]

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  • Hat | American Eagle (N/A)
  • Necklace | Forever 21
  • Lips | Nyx
  • Shirt | Forever 21
  • Jeans | American Eagle (N/A)
  • Booties | Target