January 19th, 2017, we officially transitioned from our Temporary Lodging Facility (TLF) to our house. Of course, we still do not have our furniture or the majority of our belongings…. but after living out of suitcases in 6 different locations (over the past 31 days), we were thrilled to be moving those suitcases to their final destination.
At this point, our Unaccompanied Baggage (UAB) had been delivered — meaning we had “enough to live” in our new home. Thankfully, in that delivery we had packed a folding table and 2 chairs, some extra clothes and toiletries, kitchen supplies, and some goodies to keep us from boredom (books, coloring books, cards, etc).
*BONUS: We bought a new mattress before moving and had the option to have it shipped to Germany instead of St. Louis — so it was waiting on us when we arrived! aka NO air mattress!*
We spent that first day cleaning up, grabbing groceries at our new market, and trying to get somewhat ‘settled’. The house felt abnormally chilly, as we ran around unpacking boxes and putting together newly delivered furniture… but we were too busy to think much of it.
As the sun was setting, the temperature was dropping with it. Still wearing my jacket and boots, I started to prepare (our first) dinner and William started really questioning why the house had never warmed up.
A couple of the radiators felt warmer, while others had not changed at all. Being new to this style of heating, we were unsure of the normal amount of needed time or what setting they should be on — especially for a house that has been vacant for a couple months.
So we decided to put on another layer, build a fire in our new fireplace… and keep waiting. After all, nothing could stop us from finally being in our new home.
After dinner, not much had changed, as we jokingly tried to guess our current ‘room temperature’. Due to a lack of internet, we had intended to play cards before bed, but as it continued to get colder we couldn’t get motivated to do anything other than get into bed.
Thankfully, our new bedroom was the warmest room in the house. When you entered the closed door from the hall way, there was a significant difference in temperature. We ensured our bedroom radiator was on the highest setting, grabbed a few more blankets, and climbed into our new (cold) bed for our first night’s sleep. Both wearing 2 layers of clothing and socks, covered in 5 layers of down comforters and blankets, we fell asleep praying that this room/house would warm up sooner than later.
The next morning, we woke up bright and early … still shivering. Turns out our room wasn’t actually warm, it was just the warmest room. Big difference. Completely amazed that we had slept through most of the night on pillows that were as cold as ice, I started to voice my lack of enjoyment for “camping” in our new home.
We were both laughing at the situation, yet afraid to get out of bed — knowing it was most likely the warmest place in the house.
With the day’s temperature being a high of 30, my attitude started to lack Jesus, if you know what I mean. In true fashion, William got up and tried to fix the issue as I stayed in bed and began to sulk — frustrated that our German dream home was quickly turning into a nightmare.
I literally could not get myself to get out of bed. I was so cold and inflexible to idea of our situation not being ideal. William brought me a warm tea and decided he would go take a shower to try to warm up.
Minutes later I could hear howling from the bathroom. Turns out it wasn’t just the house that wasn’t warm — the water wasn’t hot enough either (something I hadn’t noticed from just cooking or washing my hands).
It felt like our smooth transition to Germany had suddenly hit a pot hole and the complaints started flowing — I really need to shower! … We can’t stay here if this doesn’t get fixed! … This is miserable! … The fire isn’t even helping! … What should we do? … Where can we go?…. and the most frequent — I’M JUST SO STINKIN’ COLD!
But then William found the courage to interrupt me: “Hey babe… let’s try talking about something else…. like….. What DO you have to be thankful for?”
We both paused and quieted our mouths and hearts for a minute. The second I allowed my brain to clear, it was flooded with gifts from the day before……..
Specifically, Marissa, a girl I met via Facebook 2 months ago, and in real life, 1 week ago. She, like me, grew up in Georgia, loves Jesus, married an Air Force officer, moved to Germany, finds planning and organizing fun, and does her best to eat more salads than cookies. Over the last 2 months, she has answered ALL of my crazy questions (in detail) and, second to the Lord, has been the main reason I felt confident and prepared for this move.
The day before, she had helped us move from our Temporary Lodging into our house — patiently hung all of our clothes in wardrobes, organized our pantry, and even cleaned our windows — ALL without being asked.
Oh, how thankful I am for a God who believes in community — and friendship — and not walking alone. How thankful I am for Marissa’s willingness to selflessly be available to
complete strangers us, as we navigated through very new water.
Then I remembered the meal we had cooked the night before. How we had the resources and an income to DRIVE to the store to BUY healthy food to cook in our KITCHEN. Yes, it was colder than our liking — but our heads and bodies were covered and our bellies were full.
While living in a home with a comfortable temperature is our norm… it isn’t everyones.
“If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of the world.”
My heart shifted as I started to pray for those who are truly homeless.
The third (but certainly not the last) thing that came to mind was my sweet husband, William.
The previous day, January 19th, is a date that is usually fresh in my mind — but had been over looked due to all of the commotion. January 19th was the day William came home last year with the news he was deploying — a day/moment I am confident I will never actually forget (although the date of it had slipped my mind).
I was humbled as I thought about all of the spouses (and widows) that were currently missing an even more important piece to their home, than the heat, that day.
Isn’t it amazing how quickly your thoughts guide your perspective — (for good or bad)?
It’s so easy for me to get caught up in my own little world and to lose sight of what matters, when the smallest things don’t go as planned….
So, in the midst of your less ideal day or week or month or season, I ask you the same question…
“What DO you have to be thankful for?”
Maybe try letting those things be what guides your thoughts and tongue today…
It sure was good (and necessary) for me.
**And for those of you who are wondering…”Um SO what happened with the house?!”**
Turns out, to our and our landlord’s surprise (he recently purchased this house), the radiators were not all properly functioning (obviously)… anddd the water heater needed to be replaced.
Our sweet, sweet landlord was horrified and so apologetic and started the work immediately. (The radiators are already fixed — now just waiting on the water!)
In the meantime…. remember that girl Marissa, I mentioned above? Well, William and I are currently staying with her and her husband, Michael, and pup, Ryder… and definitely making the most of all the things we DO have to be thankful for…