Monday, April 29, 2013

A Crazy Acquisition: Serendipty or Providence?

While my last post focused on the details of the house that we are buying, it did not include the story of how we acquired this particular home - and it's a pretty wild story! But the question I keep asking is whether it was was mere serendipity or God's providence that has allowed us to purchase this home?

Mandy and I knew, when we moved to Bozeman, that we would start shopping for a home pretty quickly, but we also wanted to be patient. About a month ago, we were at a garage sale and noticed that the house we were at was also for sale. After perusing this house, we suddenly found ourselves interested in beginning the house-hunting process. The very next house we looked at, our second house overall, was awesome. We loved it.

We had yet to talk with bankers and realtors, so we figured we would begin that process and hope that this home was still on the market when we were ready to make an offer. It wasn't. Within about 24 hours it had already received multiple offers and we found ourselves needing to move on to other housing options.

Over the next few weeks we probably looked at about a dozen houses, and by last Wednesday at noon, we were pretty sure we had found our future home. That decision lasted about 2 hours, when our realtor called us to let us know that the house that we had originally loved was back on the market. The contract had fallen through and it was back for sale. Seriously?!!? Amazing! And to top it off, the sellers of that house were willing to wait for us to see the home again and make a decision about it before re-listing it and making it public. The next morning we visited that house, fell in love with it all over again, decided it was the one for us, and made an offer that afternoon. The next morning we heard that they had accepted our offer, and we are now about a month away from being homeowners. So fun! So exciting!

What a story, huh?

So, back to my original question. Was all of this just dumb luck? Did this house just fall back into our laps by mere coincidence? Or was God's hand involved in providing us this home?

Well, that's a tough issue. On the one hand, I definitely believe that God is actively and intimately involved in our lives. God hears and is impacted by our prayers. God cares about what happens in our lives. But on the other hand, does God act in the world through things like providing houses for people? In a world where people die every day of hunger and lack of basic needs, is God really focused on making sure I have just the right home?

Or put another way, does the idea of God providing us this home mean that God took a home away from someone else. We found out recently that the original buyer's offer/contract fell through because the woman lost her job and could no longer afford to purchase a home. I certainly don't believe that God caused someone to lose their job so that Mandy and I could have our dream home. But there definitely are a lot of 'coincidences' that had to happen in order for this purchase to fall into place. It's difficult. I don't have any answers, just lots of questions. Simply put, the circumstances around the purchase of this home have invited me into exploring a topic about which I don't often think, the providence of God, the nature of God's interaction in the world.

What are your thoughts on the topic? Is God actively involved in the day-to-day happenings of our lives? Is God orchestrating the seemingly mundane details of our existence? What is the nature of God's interaction with the world?

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Fun Announcement

The past 12 months have been insane - so we figured we should just continue the insanity! Last April, I graduated with my Master's degree after four years in seminary. Then in May, Zoe was born and forever changed our lives. Then this past fall I accepted a new job and in December we moved our little family from Seattle to Bozeman, MT. That's a crazy year of life!

But now we are adding in one more enormous life change/decision. Yesterday we put an offer down on a home and this morning the sellers accepted our offer. So by the end of May we will be homeowners. Holy crap! So exciting! Mandy and I have been extremely itinerant and nomadic during our marriage, to the tune of 9 different apartments in 9 years. That's a lot. Needless to say, we are pretty stoked to put down some roots and stay somewhere for a while.

So, about the house...

It is a tri-level, 3 bedroom, 2 bath home in a great location in Bozeman - basically across the street from a great elementary school. The house has a big, 2-car garage and a nice backyard with a great deck to hang out and host parties. One aspect that we were really looking for, and that this house has, is 2 living spaces. Most homes we were seeing in our price range only had the one communal space, so we are really pleased to have the extra room.

If you are interested in seeing more pictures of our home, please CLICK HERE. And most importantly, please know that if you are ever passing through Bozeman we have a place for you to stay and would love to see you.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Confusing Rise in Readership

I've been writing at this blog for years. Like seven or eight. A long time. And I've never had a sizeable readership. Now I didn't begin (nor do I continue) writing here in order to be a famous blogger with an avid reader base. I write because it is good for my soul, I need a place to process my thoughts, and I am hopeful to engage with a few others in real, honest, and thoughtful conversation. But deep down my ego still wonders if anyone cares and I find myself periodically checking the readership stats for my blog. As expected, for most of my blogging life, no one has cared.

But lately, for reasons of which I am unaware, there has been an upward trend in visitors to my site. Take a look at this screenshot from my blog stats:

As you can see, in the seven or eight years in which I have been writing at this site, I have had a total of about 29,000 visitors to my site. That's not much. Some bloggers have hundreds of thousands of pageviews per month. But take a look at my pageviews for the past month - 4,621? What the what? That's a huge increase. Why are people visiting more frequently - and who are these visitors? I haven't even been blogging very regularly.

Surely some of the increase is a result of Facebook. When I first started this blog, my posts would automatically export into a Facebook note. So people could read my thoughts without ever having to visit my actual blog. But now Facebook has changed and I simply have to link to my new blog posts as a status update. But not all of these new visitors are from Facebook. Some are reading posts from 2009 about my irregular posting. Some are reading posts about the 2010 Seattle Mariners. Why? That's strange.

I realize that this is a highly uninteresting post to EVERYONE but me, so I applaud you for reading this far. I'm sorry for wondering aloud (or as I type). But it's just a strange occurrence in the life of this blog and I thought I should share the oddity with my (ever-increasing?) readership.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The God Who is With Us

I'm currently reading through Rob Bell's latest book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God, and am enjoying it immensely. So far it is not his best book he's written, but I still find his thoughts intriguing, inspiring, engaging, and beneficial. I would recommend you pick up a copy.

I just finished the chapter about how God is 'with' us and thought I would share a few memorable quotes. Enjoy!


"...what our experiences of God do at the most primal level of consciousness is jolt us into the affirmation that whatever this is, it matters. This person, place event, gesture, attitude, action, piece of art, parcel of land, heart, word, moment--it matters."

"When we talk about God, we're talking about that sense you have--however stifled, faint, or repressed it is--that hope is real, that things are headed somewhere, and that that somewhere is good."

" can be very religious and invoke the name of God and be able to quote lots of verses and be well versed in complicated theological systems and yet not be a person who sees. It's one thing to sing about God and recite quotes about God and invoke God's name; it's another to be aware of the presence in every taste, touch, sound, and embrace."

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A New Adventure

Sometimes it seems like Mandy and I are always up to a new thing. Just a few months after moving to a new state, beginning a new job, and embarking on a new life, we are now in the process of buying our first home. And like most of our new adventures, this one is both exciting and terrifying.

Buying a home is such a huge decision...especially when you have no idea what you are doing. There have been a few times in the last 9 years that we have pondered a purchase of this magnitude, but we have never truly been serious about it like we are now. This is happening folks! Over the past 36 hours we have decided on both our lender and our realtor, and now are at the stage where we can go find a home, make an offer, and become first-time home owners. So sweet!

I have been talking for years about the importance of place, neighborhoods, and long-term community, but have never actually matched my words with action. In our 9 years of marriage, Mandy and I have now lived in 9 different places. That's crazy. I'd say it's time to put down some roots and stay somewhere for a while...a long while. It sure feels like Bozeman is the place where we would like to raise our family, so here we are on the precipice of this massive financial and familial decision. And we couldn't be more excited!