But I better back the truck up and start from the very beginning:
More than a year ago when we were doing the long drive down country on our way back from our annual summer holiday up in the Waikato I read a wonderful blog post by Sophie (formerly of Little Gumnut) challenging me to 'dream the impossible'. The words that really spoke to my heart were these:
'What is it that you believe God cannot do for you this year? Why don't you ask him to do the impossible and see what happens?'
This sparked a conversation between Mark and I about the prospect of moving up to the Waikato - to be closer to family and to live in a warmer climate being at the top of the list of reasons why we would make the move. As the months progressed, we talked and discussed the whys and hows, but somewhere along the way the wheels fell off and the idea just stagnated. I think looking back the timing wasn't quite right and God put the brakes on.
So we just had to hand the idea back over to God and I instead threw myself into developing a passion for landscape photography. I'm grateful that things turned out the way they did as if we'd progressed our plans last year I may never have had the opportunity to meet a whole bunch of new photography friends, nor take any of the shots that came from my camera in the latter half of the year.
So it was with a sense of deja vu that we were in the Waikato again at Christmas still with the thought of moving in our heads just bubbling away on the back burner. We talked and discussed the idea with family more and came home and started going through the motions of mentally preparing ourselves for a move - cleaning, tidying, de-cluttering.
Hence the water blasting marathon effort Mark put in:
But we still didn't really have a definitive plan. One day in church I prayed the prayer - 'God if this is your will, if this is what we are meant to be doing, then you need to smooth the way and make it easy for this to happen, otherwise I'm not sure it ever will'
The very next night I got a call from a real estate agent out of the blue asking if we were thinking about selling in the next wee while. So we lined up a provisional meeting with him. Then we went out with our zone pastors from church for lunch and they recommended another agent who they had used in the past and couldn't rate highly enough - so I got in contact with him too - and it was this agent we ended up listing with and sold with!
So by mid-February we now had a rough plan - we needed to do a little bit of repair work on the exterior of the house - which actually turned into us getting a whole paint/re-coat done on the house as this would give a new buyer a 7-year peace of mind warranty since it's a monolithic texture clad house (i.e. the type of house that has the 'leaky home' stigma attached to it and can make it difficult to sell). This wasn't a cheap exercise by any stretch of the imagination but we just gave this extra cost over to God and said 'we trust that when the house sells we will recoup this money'. We also tried to put ourselves in the best position by getting an invasive builders report and the LIM report done up front to reduce the number of conditions people would come to the table with their offer.
We also got the carpet repaired - both a stair which Murphy had picked to death as well as some old battery acid stains from Thomas the Tank Engine trains that had leaked in the lounge years ago. Then we got the carpet cleaned as well.
In the background we were cleaning, tidying, decluttering, planting to get the place looking ship shape. Photos were taken, adverts were written and the house went officially on the market on 17 March with a short 2 week deadline sale process - offers had to be in by Wednesday 1 April.
Here's what the house looked like went it went on the market:
We had 3 open homes - a Thursday night and 2 Sundays - even that proved challenging as Mylo had a tummy bug the night before the first Sunday open home and we were desperately trying to avoid any vomit on the newly cleaned carpet. Luckily, he was a trooper and made it to the bathroom each time. The poor sausage was not well though and as we had to be out of the house for the open home we ended up driving up the road to the local Countdown and sitting in the carpark there while it was on as we couldn't go to church with a vomiting child! While Mark popped in to get some things, Mylo sat in the back seat - ice cream container at the ready - and eventually fell asleep!
There was good interest in the house but getting the feedback reports through was still nerve wracking as most of the comments seemed quite negative - and much as you want to be realistic about the limitations of your own property - it's also hard to hear someone slating it when you've loved living there for the past 8 years!
Early on in the process I'd been praying just for the house to sell, but along the way I changed my prayers to 'God I really want 2 good offers for us to be able to choose between of at least xx' so that we would not lose money on the house.
It came down to the deadline day - and we nervously met at the real estate office in town to see what (if any) offers we had. There were four offers - the first two were (we felt) quite low with building report conditions and I admit my heart sank a wee bit at that point. The third offer (which was unconditional) was about $10k higher and was the minimum amount that I'd been praying we would get just so we didn't walk out having lost money on the house during our time here. The last offer was higher still and blew us clean away. It was towards the top end of the range that the agent said we might be able to get for the house and just wow....
Not only that but the buyers had written us a lovely letter accompanying their offer telling us about them as a family with three kids why they loved our house and wanted to buy it. I tell you I was a blubbering mess at that point. Yes the extra money was nice but even more so for me was the knowledge that a family with kids aged 12, 9 and 7 would be moving into our little cul-de-sac - the exact ages of the other 7 kids who all live around us. In the past 18 months, our boys have spent so much time playing outdoors with their friends and not only will we be very sad to leave these families behind but we also wanted the reassurance that someone good would be following in our footsteps.
This news was such a massive relief - and I think played a big part in why my body just basically shut down at that point and I got very ill - we had been working up to this day for months with all our preparations and then suddenly everything was resolved in the blink of an eye. The internal release of stress must have played a big part in the Crohn's taking hold at that point. But back to the story at hand.
So stage 1 of the MNM's move north is complete - house sold - tick!
I do have to say how utterly blown away by God's faithfulness I have been all along this journey - there were moments (like having to fork out a lot of cold hard cash for the external repair and re-coat) where I was questioning what on earth we were doing. What if we'd invested all that money and then the house didn't sell? But as always is the case, He had it absolutely in control. And my very specific prayers were answered through the offer process giving us a very good price for our house, and He has also blessed our neighbourhood with exactly the right family to replace us in this little close-knit street which meant so much to us as well.
I don't want to leave you all hanging too much but this post is already WAAAAAAY too long, so tomorrow I'll share about our plans for our new life up in the Waikato... where we will be living and working and the like so stay tuned.....!