I remember pulling up on that Wednesday morning nearly two years ago, the air so crispy and the sky so clear.
Our new neighborhood seemed a bit janky with potholes and missing sidewalks.
The first time we walked the few blocks to the Water Tower Park, our nieces were with us and I kept thinking to myself how I was sure my brother and his wife would never come over again because of how incredibly unsafe our little roads were. People whizzing by, splashing puddles of mud our way, our coffee sloshing in the stroller because of all the potholes and cracks in the cement.
It was so cute of us.
But man were we ready for a "fresh start."
Though, fresh starts are never actual starts...they're just a continuation of your story in a new space with new faces. Either way, we were grateful and ready for a new neighborhood and community and titles and jobs and life.
I always love making a house/apartment/duplex my home, even if it's janky at best. Which is exactly this tiny duplex.
The duplex-half we somehow snagged was on a dead end street. It had a plot of hardened mud-clay as an excuse for a yard, but it was fenced in so that was cool. Equipped with a tree out front and beautiful blue paint, this duplex quickly became our haven.
We didn't know then how deeply our hearts would wrap around this blue, tiny, 650 square foot duplex-half and its neighbors.
Moving day started mightily early, packing up the UHAUL in Corvallis and driving the 2 hours to Portland, the day before Thanksgiving. Why didn't anyone tell us the traffic would be an absolute terror?
My brother and a couple trusty friends were with us that day—the day we boxed up our life in one small town to begin a healing journey which continues to unfold two years later. Turns out, healing takes time.
I was around 15 weeks pregnant at the time, feeling sick but feeling hopeful. We were also in the process of domestic infant adoption, available for a mother making a big decision—we were hopeful potential adoptive parents.
The leaves were transforming, some even falling, and the season was surely changing in more ways than one.
We said goodbye to youth ministry life, to a community so integral and dear, an entire chapter infused with a multitude of memories imprinted in our hearts forever.
Less than two months later we became parents to our first sweet son. We brought him home to our duplex-half, still packed full of unpacked boxes, a mess if there ever was one. But it didn't matter because we had him and we had each other and we were thrilled to be a family of three.
We welcomed our second little man less than 5 months later.
This blue, tiny, 650 square foot duplex home has been fuller than full of blessing and goodness, tears and growth.
It marks the beginning of the long nights I wanted so badly, an insanely absurd amount of poopy diapers, sleep-deprived decisions, and the season I wrote my first book with two babies under one (and then two one year olds).
It marks a messy marriage with more bumps than we'd yet known. It marks joblessness, new jobs, business building, working from home as a mom to two infants, so many tears, physical healing, maybe some emotional healing too.
This duplex home marks loneliness, grief, transition, joy, blessing, and chaos.
For so many moments, I've cursed its size and layout, the ratty carpet and holes covering the walls. Only to follow my frustration was the reality I knew I'd miss this space.
I would be so mean to this little home, telling it how much I hated it and couldn't wait to be done with it. Only to quickly realize how precious this little home has been to us—how precious the memories hosted here are.
Here in this blue, tiny, 650 square foot duplex with terrible carpet, smelly cupboards, and the ugliest, yellow tub you've ever seen...we became parents to two miracle babes.
We celebrated their very first of nearly everything, right here in this space. Both Sage and Ira took their first steps here.
We planted grass which died when we dumped fertilizer on it.
We put in a patio (well...my father in law did), which we ate countless meals on.
We planted garden boxes, grew tomatoes we never ate, and raised baby chicks into chickens we are about to give away.
The memories here are plenty and I know without a doubt this tiny little home will forever hold pieces of my heart, because I'm just that way, okay?
And the neighbors. Something about me is I'll dig my roots in and plant my heart right there. No matter what, I value neighborhoods and the people living in mine. This is possibly the biggest loss in our little move.
I wish I were more spicy than I am, but here we are.
Are you ready to hear about this new space? It's a real jaw-dropper if you ask me.
Our new home is twice the size of this one. It's an actual mansion. We have been wanting to move for awhile..I mean it's squished you know? The one time I tried to create some space between the babies and I, this happened. (You should really watch that video, it's awesome).
I'm going to keep this short. Ready?
This townhouse we are moving to is a bit more in rent than our current home, because paying to live is nearly impossible in Portland. A week before we applied to this townhouse, a photography-client-turned-friend emailed me telling me she felt God really pulling her and her husband to support us for $___ / month until Loren graduates.
This number matches the exact gap in rent.
Because Loren isn't bringing in any income (finishing grad school = full time student teacher + classes), we rely mainly on my income. Which makes me laugh and squirm and terrified. Because...well I am a writer (first time author without a giant advance) and a photographer. If you know anything about these things, it's that the income is entirely unreliable and unstable.
The chance of a landlord—who wants to actually get paid from their tenants—accepting us as their renters was slim, if any.
But here we are you guys. They accepted us.
And then... we put out a plea and tricked our current landlords into not charging us the $1,000 lease-break fee.
They even said they'd prorate our rent if we can help find a tenant AND will return any deposit to us that would otherwise be returned. Let's hope I can magic-erase this duplex like mad. I mean, what kind of awesomeness is this?
I am terrified and excited, all in one.
But that's the story. I'm sharing it because I want you to know that God is so freaking big. I'm sharing because I believe He really does work in the details if we are willing to take steps forward. I'm sharing because it's always worth the ask. The worst that would have happened was hearing "no." We'd just keep living in this sweet duplex until someone said "yes."
Here's to new chapters and seasons and all the cliches we say about the next parts of our lives.
PS. I've got a secret I'm letting my email community know about this evening...so: