New Home- part 2

Part 2
Last time we talked, I announced we had just purchased a new family home against the advice of… well, pretty much everyone. But then in true storybook fashion, I left you on a cliffhanger by not telling you where the house is or why our friends felt so strongly against the location or why we chose to go forward despite the probable future resale suicide. Well, hang no longer, part 2 will answer all these questions and more.
So let’s dive in. Starting with location: Our new address is….

via GIPHY

(I invite everyone to live in a world where you think your announcements require a drumroll)
2759 Carl Stuart Road!!!!

Ok….So, why did this address cause so much concern among our friends?  Let me zoom out to show you the neighborhood:

To our right, you can see Marguerite Vann Elementary. And to our left, behind a thin tree and brush line, we have… Carl Stuart Middle School.

Here is a bird’s eye view of the property courtesy of AR County data.

While living ON the campus of two schools might not be conventional, it was NOT our scholastic neighbors that caused our friends concern. No, 100% of the concerned remarks were ALL in regards to the parent carline that evidently rallies outside my future front door every morning and afternoon during student drop off and pick up times. As a parent of 2 former Julia Lee Moore Elementary and 1 Simon Middle School graduates I have not personally experienced this carline, but based on the reactions of my experienced friends, it must be quite traumatic. Apparently, we will be held hostage in our home every day during the hours of 7:30am-9am and again from 2pm-4pm when Carl Stuart Road converts from a 2-way street to a 1-way conveyor belt of parents lined up on both sides of the street to transfer their learned passengers back and forth from car and school and school and car.

And even if your end goal is not to deliver or retrieve a student, if you find yourself on Carl Stuart Road during the aforementioned hours you will be forced to ride the belt to the front of the line until you have reached the freedom of Salem Road….or so I have heard.
We were wisely advised to witness the carline at least once before signing on the dotted line to adopt 2759 as our own….. but I never seemed to find a good day to go willingly subject myself to traffic, so we did not heed this advice. Plus I knew once Rory was sold on my vision for the property no amount of cars were going to deter him from the plan (especially since his work hours will conveniently protect him from ever personally experiencing “the line”).
Since closing, I have purposely tried to shield myself from seeing the line-up because I do not want any feelings of dread or regret to cloud the renovation ahead. Therefore, I purposely do not arrive at the job site until after the morning tardy bell has rung and I flee the house like the storm is approaching tilted towers at the first site of a parked car in the afternoon. Luckily, we will complete the bulk of the project during the summer break when Carl Stuart Road will pretty much be abandoned…at least on my side of the street. I’m hoping by the time we experience our first Carl Stuart carline we will be so in love with our house and fully immersed in the mission of the property that we will view each carload as a blessing and an opportunity rather than a curse….. anyway that is the story I keep telling myself.
So what is this vision/mission I keep referring to? Well, for you to fully understand I feel I need to give you some background information:

This past January, Rory and I enrolled in a 16-week mission-oriented course called Perspectives. This intensive course walked us through the biblical, historical, cultural, and strategic perspective of the world Christian movement and opened our eyes to see that from the beginning of time God has had one purpose- to be known, worshiped and glorified among all peoples. During the first class, we were warned that taking this course had the potential to change the whole trajectory of our lives. Supposedly, many unsuspecting students sign up thinking Perspectives is just a “special” bible study only to find themselves on the foreign mission field 16 weeks later. While Rory and I did not feel called to change our zip code, each week’s lesson made us long to join in God’s purpose and to make our lives count for something bigger than ourselves….we just didn’t know what that might look like for us as individuals or as a family.

Fast forward to bedtime on the day Rory and I first toured 2759 Carl Stuart with the seller. I climbed into bed fully expecting to be entertained all night with thoughts of decor and floor-plans as is customary after I tour any home; but instead, my thoughts raced with ideas on how we might use this home because of its location. The following paragraph will walk you thru the highlight reel of my thoughts that night. I am adding in punctuation for your benefit but as you get deeper into the narrative just know that my thoughts picked up momentum to a pace that would not support even a comma, much less a period in real life. Exclamation points will be used to show excitement, but again, try not to pause too long while reading to get the full effect. If anything, an exclamation point should be a signal to pick up the pace. Ok, you ready?? Let’s do it:

It all started with the simple thought of how great it would be that Cohen could walk to and from school. He could literally roll out of bed and be in his homeroom class in 3 minutes. And how awesome would it be to not have to rush away from a job site every day at 3pm to go pick up kids from school, especially if Colby continues to think riding his bike to school is cool. From here I thought it might be nice to offer our home as a drop-off and pickup location to Cohen’s friends so their parents could also enjoy a little more flexibility in when they took and picked up their kids. AND then out of nowhere I had the idea for Taco Tuesday!! Every Tuesday, kids could come over after school and stay for Tacos until it was time for Tuesday night K-life club! How cool would that be! But wait!?! That would limit the number of kids to only those that could fit in my car. So we are talking 4 kids max… who am I kidding my car will never be cleaned out enough to hold an additional 4 humans. Maybe Rory could drive?, or we both could drive? Or…. instead of Taco Tuesdays and K-life we could HOST OUR OWN BIBLE STUDY!!! (thoughts of Perspectives and the great commission sweep in.) We could host a once a week breakfast and bible study at 7am! Morning would be great because I don’t ever get to a job site until after 8am so there would be no reason a project would get in the way of being consistent. And the fact that kids could just walk across the yard to get to school means I wouldn’t have to worry about maxing out seatbelt capacity. We could have a limitless number of kids.  But what about Colby? His friends could come too, but again, we are limited to how many can fit in my car to deliver them to Junior High. YOUTH GROUP!!! Of Course! Colby is in the youth group and this home is literally just 1 field away from our church. Colby could have all his friends over for dinner before Wednesday night youth group and then they could walk across the field to church. What food starts with “W”??? (I’ll admit, I spent quite a bit of time and brain space trying to come up with a good food theme night for Wednesdays.. to no avail.) Wait just a minute!!!! Our church PARTNERS with Marguerite Vann Elementary, our other neighbor!!! Our children’s pastor is always looking for volunteers to go read with the kids at Vann. Now that I will live so close I could totally do that on my lunch break! Maybe I could read to a little girl. Oh my goodness GIRLS!! Maybe I could host a once a month breakfast and devotional for 3rd and 4th-grade GIRLS from Marguerite Vann! But who would drop their daughter off to a total stranger’s house? Oh- oh-oh!!! THEIR MOMS COULD COME TOO! Oh my goodness, maybe we could even have a TEA PARTY!!! I’ve always wanted to have a tea party. Tea, scones, and Jesus!!! “ahhh” (contented sigh) And then there are the TEACHERS! God bless the teachers. Our home could be a respite. I should get one of those coded locks for our back door and give all the teachers of Carl Stuart and Marguerite Vann the code so on a rough day they could sneak over for a cup of coffee or nap during their planning period. Could they do that??? Probably should talk to their principals. I could at least host a prayer breakfast for the teachers!!! Hmmm, that’s a lot of breakfasts and food. How am I going to pay for all that food?!?! I could have a concession stand outside our house selling coffee and donuts to those dropping off kids in the morning and soft drinks and water for those waiting to pick up in the afternoon? Is that allowed? Would I need a special license?… But what about the nations? How can we reach the nations from our home on Carl Stuart?? Ding! Ding! Ding!!! This house is just a stone’s throw from UCA! We could reach out to the foreign exchange students! I’m sure they would love an opportunity to leave campus and come hang out with an American family. We could invite the exchange students to come spend Sunday afternoons with us and then invite them to walk across the field to attend Sunday night church which is attended by mostly college students. That would give us a chance to learn about different cultures and perhaps share the gospel with students who have never heard the name of Jesus. And then they can share the gospel with their friends and family in their native land when they go back home. I should probably learn some different languages. Wonder if that Rosetta Stone really works?

The next morning as I shared bits and pieces of my late night revelation with Rory (I have learned he does best with my ideas in small doses) I really had no doubt he would love the idea based on our Monday evening conversations driving home from Perspectives and the fact that Rory has such a heart for kids. Rory was poured into by one of his friend’s family growing up and he has always had a desire to do the same for other kids. He has used sports as an avenue to do this by coaching pretty much every sport our boys have ever participated in. He and his coaching buddy, David Tapp, approached each team they coached as an opportunity to better their young athletes in both the skills of the game and in life. Each athlete was taught the importance of having H.E.A.R.T. Being Humble both on and off the field, Giving their best Effort in the game, in the classroom, in their chores etc. Having a good Attitude, Being Respectful to their coaches, parents, referees, teachers, etc. And finally to be a good Teammate. But our oldest son decided sports wasn’t his thang early in life and our youngest is quickly advancing out of Rory’s coaching ability so this outlet for investing in kids lives is nearing an end for Rory and I know this has been hard for him. So when I shared that this house would be a strategic location to be hang-out central he was all in. When I told him how I thought this could be our “mission field” to launch the gospel to our neighbors and the nations…. let’s just say no amount of traffic would sway him from this house. While each warning planted a seed of doubt in my heart, it became fuel for Rory. To him, the location challenge of this house became like Noah’s Arc or David’s slingshot….something laughed at by man but something God could use to show his Glory.

But despite Rory’s steadfastness, the further I got from my night of revelation the more I starting doubting the plan. In fact during the interim of going under contract and signing the ownership papers I spent many more sleepless nights worrying that we were about to make the biggest financial mistake of our lives. This fear stemmed from the following:

1.) At some point, I remembered I’m not a kid person. Yep, this could be a big deal.  I mean don’t get me wrong, I LOOOOOVE my own kids and my boys have some of the sweetest friends on the planet but if given the choice to have a kids sleepover or a quiet night at home, I’ll choose the quietness every time. So if the boys want to have a friend over they know to ALWAYS ask Rory first.  Rory is the fun parent, the one joining the kids in a game of whiffle ball or flag football while I’m the one inside yelling “no running in the house” and “keep your drinks in the kitchen.” Nothing illustrates this “fun factor” deficiency more than the fact that I instigated “the obedience game” at Cohen’s 9th birthday party.

Afraid so. Here is proof…

In my defense, the game was a hit! In fact, I had at least 3 requests to play it again at Cohen’s 10-year-old sleepover. But seriously, this is what I’m talking about- I’m not fun! So even though my heart has a BIG desire to love on kids and provide a safe fun home that welcomes all kids at all times…. my head is afraid I will need a personality transplant to be chill enough to keep an open door at all times. Therefore, my daily prayer since going under contract has been “Lord, Please give me a heart for kids.” And can I just tell you, one of my FAVORITE parts about my surprise birthday party at our Carl Stuart house was seeing and hearing all the kids playing a spontaneous game of kickball in the backyard. It was like I could sense the Lord showing me that he was already at work.

2) Another personality hurtle I know I will have to clear to make this vision a success is my need for a clean house. Honestly, this one gives me heart palpations. NOT because my house is always clean-oh no! NOT HARDLY!!! But because I NEVER invite anyone inside our home unless I have spent at least 1/2 a day cleaning it; otherwise people might see that I am not a “perfect homemaker.” But this plan has all sorts of people in our home at all hours of the day and night so I know there is no way I can keep up that facade.
Ya know…. I use to think “hospitality” was my spiritual gift because I LOVED having people over for dinner but based on the paragraph above I think I am more gifted at “entertaining” then truly practicing hospitality.  Do you know the difference? Entertaining focuses on making the host look good while hospitality puts all the focus and attention on the guest. When someone leaves the home of someone who is a good entertainer they can often feel inadequate or envious. But when you have been in a home of someone who has the gift of hospitality you leave feeling welcomed, served, and loved. That is what I desperately want for myself and this home…. and a housekeeper, yeah that would be nice too (I’m only human).

That is why I absolutely LOVED that Rory chose to host my party at our new home. NEVER in a million years would I have EVER hosted a party in a reno zone. I mean the place was filthy and dusty from sheetrock debris, all the cabinetry had been removed, and insulation was falling out of the ceilings and yet my friends and family were all gathered in this imperfect space and it was absolutely PERFECT.

3) The last fear that threatened to choke out my dedication to the plan was my fear of not following through. I mean, I know myself pretty well; so trust me when I tell you that while I am FULL (practically bursting) with great ideas and awesome intentions, only a handful of these ideas ever make it to fruition.  I mean, HELLO, remember my New Year’s Resolution fetish?!?! Out of the 60+ I make every year MAYBE 3 will take. And then there is my front porch. I am haunted by all the good intentions that went unrealized with my porch. I TRUELY (with all my heart) believed if I put a front porch on sister I would be a better neighbor. I even fantasized about neighborhood sing-alongs and morning bible studies around the porch table. But did I ever slow down long enough to invite one neighbor over for the last 5 years??? Nope! So what makes me think I will fulfill the mission at Carl Stuart?!?! I mean let’s face it, I could have just as easily viewed my current home as my mission field for the last 9 years…. but I didn’t. This terrifies me. So because of this, my prayer for the 1.5 months it took to close was “Lord, please do NOT let this house become just another renovation. If You know we will not use this home to bring YOU glory, please do NOT allow the sale to go through.”  This is also the main reasons I wanted to share this vision with you- I am hoping you will hold me accountable and perhaps join me in praying that this home will be a place that God will use to do a mighty work.  I’m trusting that He will because we successfully closed on April 20th.

******************************************************************

In addition to the ministry plans, we have for this home, I, of course, have a plan for its renovation. In fact, knowing the stigma that this location carries we are renovating for the long haul just in case we are unable to resale in the future. We are making sure the renovation meets our needs for many years and stages of life. 

Stay tuned throughout the summer for alternating updates between this project and our Oliver Street New Construction. Thanks so much for letting me stray from the norm on this blog and share a little bit of my heart.

And if you want an opportunity to join us on the mission field…. believe it or not, there is ANOTHER house that shares our proximity to the schools and the epic carline and It’s FOR SALE!! Wink Wink

Won’t you be my neighbor?

Here is a link to its listing.

5 thoughts on “New Home- part 2

  1. Chrissy Miller says:

    Wow, Niki! I am so inspired by you and by reading this. You have so much energy and are such a wonderful servant! I wish you and Rory all the best and know you will do amazing things with this place. Can't wait to read the updates and hopefully come \”drop-in\” sometime!!

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  2. Aimee Ashcraft says:

    Wow! You don't know me but I went to school with your husband for some time. My husband and I are now pastors in Houston, Texas where we have a dream of transforming our community by living a life of intentionality and purpose. I stumbled onto your blog by way of Rory's fb post and I am SO glad I did. We have five kids and two of them feel called to the mission field. Reading about the Perspectives course has piqued my interest and I know in my heart it is something that I must get for my kids and others at our campus who feel the tug of ministry outside the four walls of the church. Thank you for blogging and allowing strangers like me to stumble upon greatness.

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  3. Niki says:

    Ah thanks for sharing Aimee. I am just nearly positive you will find a Perspectives organization in Houston. I can not say enough good things about it and I’m sure your family would love it. They even offer it as course credit. The majority of students in the class were college age in our group but there was a few high schoolers. Best wishes and thanks for the comment.

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