Our Annual Coastal Relaxation & An Easter Revelation

A Community Reunion

Spring Break is one of our most looked-forwarded to times of the year. For almost the girls' whole lives, we head to the coast with Kevyn's family for a week of sand, wind, and waves.

Each year, Kevyn's parents generously rent out a large house to sleep all of the uncles, aunts, and cousins, usually ranging around 10 to 15 people. It can get cramped some years, but the blessings of being around family, making wonderful memories, and the gorgeous views far out weigh any inconveniences.

This year's travel plans were significantly different now that we are two states away. However, we timed it so we got to see a few friends along the way before heading out to Dillon Beach with the family.

We were blown away at the views of our beach house this year. We typically stay at houses that are directly on the beach or a row of houses away—making quick strolls to the beach at any time a pleasant treat. But this time, we were up in the hills at Dillon Beach. Although we lost the instant access to the sand, we gained an incredible view of where Tomales Bay and Bodega Bay meet.

Sipping our morning brew on the porch, as the fog burned off to reveal the coast, was a daily ritual. After which, we had different plans each day for hiking, exploring, and relaxation.

Some days we went down to the beach for a leisurely stroll, while we talked about life, and on others we drove around to seek adventure. One day we went out to the Point Reyes Lighthouse to climb down and back up the insanely steep 313 steps. We saw whales and dolphin pods, and even some elk roaming the pennisula's hills. Then each evening we came together to share a meal and play games.

Game nights, like with most families, were a raucous affair. We had zealous players, indifferent players, grumpy players, and those that really hate losing. But out of all the games, each year, we take shifts to put together a large puzzle that always seems to be completed on the last night for all to enjoy and marvel. This year, it was a particularly special puzzle. One of Kevyn's nieces used photos of previous beach trips to create a custom collage jigsaw. Memories were relived as each image was assembled.

It wasn't all sunshine and ocean breeze

A day or so leading up to the trip, I was not feeling well. I'll spare you the details, but let's say I couldn't be too far from a toilet. Since it wouldn't go away by the time we had to leave, it made the 14hr road trip even longer, as I needed to capitalize on as many highway rest areas as possible.

Once settled into the beach house, and an established regimen of Imodium, I felt much more comfortable exploring the coast with everyone. Sadly, once I started feeling better, Kevyn had a day where she wasn't doing well. She ended up missing the trip to the lighthouse, but got some much needed rest and eventually got over it faster than I did. Each of the girls, also had some physical difficulties as well, at various points, but we never let it get us down. It was still a beautiful and relaxing place.

Rolling away heart of stone

Due to scheduling, we typically end our spring break vacations on Easter Sunday. The last morning, is a routine of packing, cleaning, a brief egg hunt for the girls, and goodbyes before spending three hours traveling back home to unpack, do laundry, and prepare for the return back to work and school the next day.

If I'm being honest, I've always had difficulties with this schedule. Easter is my second favorite holiday, after Christmas. It's a day I hold very deeply. It's the day our savior, Jesus Christ, rose from the dead, defeating sin and death in order to bring us, who call upon God, back into fellowship with Him. It's the defining pillar of Christianity, and I've struggled over the years with how I couldn't spend it in more reverence.

I've longed for the day we could forego the rituals of combing through a house to make sure nothing is left behind, cramming our car with luggage, an egg hunt devoid if its meaningful origins, being stuck in a car for hours, and the chores of returning back home, only to be left with a few hours to reflect on God's sacrifice before going to bed exhausted.

However, this year, I believe I had a breakthrough that kept my frustration at bay.

"One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living."
Romans 14:5-9

I realized that although I may not be able to control the schedules of 10+ family members to line up how I would prefer things to be, I can still control my attitude and heart. Just because we have to travel on Easter, doesn't mean I can't make it meaningful. Just because practical and mundane tasks may dominate the day, doesn't mean I can't have a heart of joy and gratitude. To spend the day in judgment, resentment, or anger for what it's not, would be to ignore the very reason for what it is: ultimate love, self-sacrifice, and forgiveness.

No matter how I may spend Easter, I can still observe it in a way that is honoring to my convictions and to the Lord.

House Project #2: Insulating the Garage

Our Longest and Coldest Winter

At this point, it's been months of freezing temperatures—often times in the single digits or below zero. Each sporadic storm is treated with caution as they can quickly intensify on a whim. As we slide back the curtains in the morning, a pillowy, monochromatic landscape greets us. However, despite the dynamic and unrelenting winter, we haven't felt like it was harsh or bitter. We find tremendous beauty and warmth in it all.

The birds are extremely lively in the morning as we laugh at their playfulness. The ground glistens in the afternoon sun, although rather blinding if you catch it at the wrong angle. And the early evenings' dense air exposes the glow of the town, so thick you could almost reach out and gather a fistful of it.

However, no matter how much we are enjoying a proper winter, we can't escape the realities of the cold and how certain house projects are limited due to it. So to change that, I needed to insulate the garage to increase our workspace when it's cold.

Since the walls were already insulated (but not sheet rocked yet - more on that later this year), I only had to focus on the roll up door and the attic. My buddy, Jason, helped me with every step of this process, making working in the frigid temps that much shorter.

Phase 1: The garage door

This was the quickest and cheapest tasks to tackle, and surprisingly offered significant warmth performance. In one day, roughly four hours, we installed a double layer of insulation onto the door for a combined R-value of 24. I would have liked higher, but it is just the garage, so that was perfect.

Our first step was stuffing each section with a pink fiberglass panel. After a little bit of trimming, the sections were filled in. The garage was already starting to stay warmer.

Next, we unrolled and cut to size sheets of a thinner foam & air-celled insulation. This would go over each section keeping the fiberglass secured, offer more insulation, and have a cleaner, finished look.

This last step took the longest as it was more finesse work and the cold temps made the adhesive tape less adhesive-y. I finished putting up the last few layer on my own in the evening. It was about 15-20 degrees, with flurries, for much of the day. I prolonged my hand washing to bring feeling back to my fingers under the warm faucet.

Unfortunately, not all of the panel stayed secure. By borrowed Jason's heat gun to warm up the ape again and that eventually did the trick to keep them in place.

Phase #2: The attic

The next weekend, we had 32 rolls of pink R-32 fiberglass batt to carry up into the attic to lay down. This was the simplest, but most laborious task to complete.

The access panel to the attic was smaller than the rolls so pulling them through was quite sweat inducing. After we squeezed up enough rolls, we began stuffing them into place. Jason, slithered on his stomach towards the edges while I fed him rolls and filled in the center sections between the joists.

It wasn't easy. Jason got a bit scratched up, we both hit our heads on a few exposed roofing nails, he unknowingly had his pocket knife fall out of his pocket and now it's covered by a foot of insulation somewhere, and my foot slipped twice almost punching holes through the drywall panels.

We took breaks between each cycle of pulling up and laying rolls, but eventually finished up in a few hours.

The End Results

With the garage fully insulated now it's much warmer and temperature stable. Before it was within 15 degrees of whatever it was outside. Always trailing behind like a snake's tail. A bit colder during the day and a bit warmer at night. Now I'm seeing a 30-40 degree difference!

This now means the garage can be used as a workspace. For colder days, I will still need a heater to take the edge off or when working with paint or stain so it'll dry, but a whole new world is open for us now as we continue to work through our home improvement list.

Snow has Arrived: Living in a Winter Playground

WINTER CAME EARLIER THIS YEAR

After a couple of small flurries in late October, we got some decent snowfall early November, which has stuck around since. We have been told the amount of snow we've received so far has been rather normal, but it is unusual for it to stick around for so long.

Like most of the U.S., we have been experiencing some bizarre weather this year. The colder than normal nights have been turning the snow into ice. Keeping the driveway clear is a must.

Eventually, we would like to purchase a snow blower and possibly a plow. Just to make life a little easier and fun.

Unsurprisingly, the girls took to the snow and frigid temps extremely well. Almost every afternoon, once their homework and reading was done, they would race outside to play. In their excitement, they would leave the house not fully suited up—Usually hopping on one foot as they slide into their boots, or forgetting to put on their beanies and zip up their jackets.

The large cul-de-sac in front of our house accumulates a nice mound of snow, on which the neighborhood kids will climb and slide down. Despite the drier snow, meaning little chance at making snowballs, they still find a way to make up games and enjoy the cold.

ICY ROADS AND WARM TUSHIES

Like most California natives, we have little experience driving in the snow. However, I feel we might have slightly more than the average with our increasing frequency of snow camping the last few years. We are genuinely excited to drive in it. Well, I am more than Kevyn.

Since it is a small town and many of our destinations are close, there is no desire to drive fast. It's a much slower pace of living here. This is even more imperative when the roads are icy. I don't think I've driven over 40mph in weeks, maybe even a few months. It's quite enjoyable not being in a hurry.

After each snow storm, I wake up early to clear the drive. By the end of October, I got the garage cleaned up enough to put the car inside. And just barely in time, I might add. I cannot stress enough how having your car in the garage is necessary. The car is only slightly warmer than it would be if left outside. However, the time saved by not having to brush off the snow or scrape the ice sheets off the windows feels luxurious.

Our new (to us) Pilot, has seat warmers. A perk we have never had in a vehicle before. A few minutes on high heat reminds me of being stuck in commuter traffic back on Business 80 in the middle of a classic California heat wave. It warms my heart knowing I'm far from experiencing that again.

The air is so crisp and fresh. After living much of my life in the Sacramento Valley, I feel so spoiled and blessed to be breathing such clean air all day and seeing the beauty of the snow everywhere.

Giving Thanks: Milestones and Going with the Flow

CELEBRATING 15 YEARS OF MARRIAGE

This year Kevyn and I had our 15th anniversary. We punted the girls off to our friends and headed out of state. Our anniversary falls between Halloween and Thanksgiving, which is highly convenient when we want to travel. Jackson, WY was no exception. Being off-season, we were able to find wonderful lodging, close to the town square, visited the beautiful Wildlife Art Museum that overlooks the massive National Elk Refuge, and sampled much of the local (and very much over-priced) cuisine.

There is a certain conversation we have during our anniversary dinner. We recap the year—sharing our favorite things, how we've grown, what we appreciate about each other, and what we're looking forward to in the year to come. We highly suggest every couple do this. It'll evolve and be a little different each time, but it's important to reflect on and mark the completion of that year.

We've had a few years of mostly sharing how tough the past year has been. On other years, we've discussed mainly the boring and practical elements of our lives. And some years, it's been very romantic and loving. It doesn't have to be a certain way. Simply and truthfully acknowledge the year you've had; share your dreams of the future and how to work towards them, and appreciate each other in all of your flaws and wonderful qualities.

GOING BACK TO CALIFORNIA, BRIEFLY

After our relaxing weekend in Wyoming, my travel plans weren't over. We bought a Honda Pilot from my wife's godparents back in CA. That meant I needed to fly there and drive the car back. Two flights and 700+ miles of driving in one weekend by myself? Totally doable.

However, my wife and I created a plan to surprise our daughters. Not only was I going to drive our new car back, I was going to bring my sister and her two kids along as well. We had to keep it a secret for almost two weeks and there were a few close calls at blowing the surprise. Seeing the girls' eyes widen and slightly swell with tears as their aunt and cousins popped out of the car was worth all of the secrecy.

They stayed with us during the week of Thanksgiving. It was so great for the cousins to hangout and visit after so long. There were still some disagreements and a kid or two got sick, but that's just the realities of families during the holidays.

Every year I get older, I enjoy Thanksgiving even more. Although it is an American tradition, it aligns with God's word to "...give thanks in all circumstances..." and "...always giving thanks for all things...". I have so much to be thankful for and I never want to lose gratitude towards my family, my community, or to my God.

WHEN THINGS DON'T GO AS PLANNED...

Due to a storm and the policies of a "soul" crushing airline, my sister's flight was delayed multiple times. After being stuck in the terminal for nearly 12hrs, boarded their first flight. They then had an overnight layover in Vegas and eventually made it back home the next day.

Lessons were learned during this ordeal. It was tough trying to figure out all of the logistics for my sister and her kids from a far, especially as the weather was changing, a lack of airline customer service, and us still needing to work and be parents. We were definitely frustrated, but mostly felt helpless.

As silly as it may sound to do this, especially for winter weather delays that are all too common, we were simply trusting in God to help us work it out. It was not easy maintaining proper attitudes as we scoured airline websites, called hotels, and tried to figure out email confirmations and account login information. We were trying everything to make sure we found the best option for their speedy return. In the end, they made it home safely. And that is a prayer answered.

...REMAIN GRATEFUL

Years ago, I would have easily looked back over the last few weeks and thought of how terrible all of the travel hassles had been, or how tired I was, or how cold it was, or how sick we all were, or how expensive this or that was, or whatever. But I've lost too many precious moments befriending such a perspective.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
Philippians 4:6 (ESV)

School Bells & Grass Stains: How Everything was Falling into Place

FAMILIAR TRANSITIONS AND NEW BEGINNINGS

Only a mere five days after carrying the first moving box into the house, school began. Not much of a breather, but it brought some normalcy to a chaotic season.

To celebrate this fresh beginning, the girls were outfitted with new backpacks, new lunch boxes, new clothes, and a pair of cute new shoes. Back in California, the girls attended a charter school just one town over. This meant, many of their classmates never lived close by. Now they ride the bus home with, not simply their classmates, but their neighborhood friends as well. Seeing them build new friendships within our community has brought so much joy to our hearts. It's difficult to describe the peace and happiness we have as their parents that they have made friends so quickly.

MORNINGS

Every morning the sky seemed to cheer at our arrival. Kevyn and I would sip our coffee in peace while the sun's rays slowly crept over the back deck. We would briefly break the silence with comments of the morning's beauty as the sunrise, and steam from our mugs, warmed our faces.

Despite the welcoming tones of Autumn, we knew Winter was right around the corner. After our daily moments of appreciation, we got to work. We had much to do in the yard to prep for winter. Kevyn tackled the garden and I made way too many trips to Home Depot for tools and supplies.

AFTERNOONS

The lawn was finally wrangled back into shape after almost two months of neglect. Daily, Kevyn harvests from the four raised garden beds. We were eating what we could and giving away everything else to our neighbors and friends.

For a brief weekend, Kevyn's parents visited and helped us knock out a huge chunk of our to-do list. Being Master Gardeners, they gave Kevyn tips for the garden and pruned one of the backyard trees that was encroaching on the roof and rotting out. We were so grateful to have the extra sets of hands around to help, that the girls had some quality time with their Papa and Nana, and to explore our new town a bit more that weekend.

It was no small task, but Kevyn eventually got the entire vegetable garden cleared of all weeds. She covered everything in cardboard (to prevent future weed growth) and laid down a generous amount of bark an top of it. I, after a fair amount of time researching and watching tutorials on YouTube, winterized the sprinkler system. I cleared the pipes, turned off the system, and shut off the outside water line. I'm still crossing my fingers hoping that I did it correctly. No leaks or burst pipes so far.

The first frost was on its way quickly and hit the week of Halloween, so it was great that we were able to complete these tasks in time.

EVENINGS

Settling in has been quite the experience and a lot of hard work, but through it all there has been so much peace beyond words. So much appreciation for what God has given us. At the end of each day, we were tired, but satisfied with everything we were able to accomplish. That amazing feeling of crawling into bed when you're exhausted never gets old.

Every evening the sky lit up with a different shade of pink or orange, like a wide hug welcoming us home.

Let's Go Camping: How to Reconnect with Friends and Avoid Responsibilities

CAMPING. IT'S WHAT YOU DO WHEN YOUR TO-DO LIST IS OVERWHELMING.

A month after moving into our new house, our list of projects seemed to be growing daily. This needs to be fixed. That box needs to be unpacked. New furniture needs to be purchased. What does this switch do? We need another tool. In which box did we pack that one thing?

So, for one weekend, instead of dealing with our mountain of tasks, we headed for the mountains of Eastern Idaho. Of course we couldn't just go by ourselves, so we went along with our friends who also recently moved here to Idaho.

It was a much needed break. It gave us the opportunity to see more of our new state, spend some time catching up with old friends, and reflect on God's provision and grace in our lives.

All weekend, we joked and tried one-upping each other about how long our to-do lists were. Our friends had recently moved into a new house as well, so we had many relatable tasks, shared our wish lists, and made plans to tag team it on bigger projects.

REFRESHING & REFUELING

It had been 14 years since we last went camping with our friends. This was all before we had kids, mind you. So we had much to reminisce about and swap stories about our lives since.

All day long, the kids ran up and down along the river, collecting sticks and unique rocks, and making little hideouts in the tall bushes. Us adults had a routine of sitting by the fire with a beverage, helping the kids get food, doing some clean up, then sitting back down with a new drink. We repeated that until bed. The dogs roamed around the campsite like little Hoovers looking for food scraps and dropped snacks, all the while performing the Hoth maneuver on our legs with their leashes.

It wasn't particularly fruitful, but us boys did manage to get out our rods and do some fishing. I got a couple of bites, but couldn't land any of those wriggly Browns. This year, with the move, I wasn't able to get out camping and/or fishing nearly as much as I normally do each year. Even though nothing was caught by any of us, it was still rather enjoyable to be on the water's edge, hearing our lines whip through the air, and feeling the sunshine on our faces.

SNAP BACK TO REALITY

Sunday morning came far too quickly than any of us preferred. After a simple breakfast, camp breakdown began. With school or work waiting for each of us the next morning, no one was in a hurry to pack up and load the vehicles.

Over the last decade or so, our irregular visits were followed by months or years of not seeing each other in-person, sporadic phone calls, and too much radio silence. This time was different. We now live within minutes of each other. As we left the campground, it wasn't the typical goodbye of "See y'all in a couple years...if we're lucky." We had plans for later that week. It felt weird, but natural. We were so thankful to be living in the same state again and to be so close.

As we drove back home, my thoughts drifted back to all of the house work awaiting me. But instead of being overwhelmed, I was filled with anticipation. I was rejuvenated and excited to take on and climb that mountainous list of projects.

House Project #1: Painting Everything and Dealing with Chaos

MAKING IT OUR OWN

After moving in, we quickly created a list of things we needed to fix or wanted to update around the house. Some tasks are quite simple, like installing window blinds or fixing the sliding glass door handle. Others on the list are major to-dos like renovating the whole kitchen (new cabinets, and layout, and lights, etc.) or replacing the flooring throughout the entire ground level (due to the damage caused by the herd of cats the previous owners had). The first, and crucial, task was to paint the whole interior of the house. Especially, the basement. That bright blue has got to go!

At this point, much of our belongings had not been moved in because we knew it would be in the way once we painted. This meant the house was bare bones for the first month or so. The girls' mattresses were on the floor, clothes were still being stowed in our travel bags, and my wife and I worked in random, quiet places around the house sitting on boxes or anything we could find.

After reviewing our budget and some quotes, we hired a small crew to paint the house. In order to save time and money on the paint job, I planned to remove all of the trim and baseboards throughout the entire house, then in the Spring I would put up the new ones. The week before the painters started, I removed all of the boards, of which I estimate at almost 1000 linear feet, that needed to be pried off. Whenever she had time, on her lunch or in the evenings, Kevyn followed behind me to pull out any nails left behind from the trim.

It took much longer than I thought or hoped it would. We just barely got it completed before the painters came to prep and paint the house.

SETBACKS ARE NOT TRAGEDIES

About ten years ago, we heard a pastor teach on attitudes when dealing with life's setbacks and disappointments. At the time, we were living rather meagerly, just had a newborn, my wife was working towards her bachelors, and I was recently laid off. It was not an easy season and the pastor's message was a relevant and much needed topic for us. However, it did not sit right with me one bit.

This pastor shared how he and his wife recently had a kitchen renovation take a day longer than expected. What was supposed to have been a two-day project turned into three days. This experience was extremely hard for the pastor and his wife to work through and to maintain godly attitudes.

He also shared that during a recent rainstorm, there was street flooding and slow moving traffic that caused him and his boys to miss a movie they had bought tickets for in advance. He described both of these events as tragedies. I could not believe what I was hearing. Needless to say, that was one of the last sermons of his I heard.

Although it left a rather sour taste in my mouth, there was one thing I got from it: Never complain about privilege. And I don't mean "privilege" in the social justice sense. That pastor had the means to improve his home for his family and he complained it took an extra day, while my wife and I weren't sure if we could pay next month's rent. He complained about missing a movie, while people in his community were experiencing water damage to their homes or possibly running late to their jobs, which could jeopardize their employment. There is more I could share about this season in our lives, the maturity of that pastor and the church we were at, but I'll leave it there for now.

It's all about perspective

All that to say, recently, that pastor's message came to mind. Now I am the one with similar means to work on house projects and enjoy outings with my kids. But after some thought, in no way have I considered the imperfections of my home, dealing with the plethora of boxes, the inconsistent pace of home projects, or changed plans due to weather as "disappointments."

There are definitely momentary frustrations, but, as I've said before in other posts and will continue to do so, I choose to be thankful above all else. It would be absurd not to.

Why would I complain about the opportunity of painting my own house, when years before I had to fight our property manager to fix the AC unit or remove the mold from our bathroom? Why would I complain about the weather when my life, and the people I love, and my house are safe through the storm?

Life isn't perfect and to complain or see things as disappointments when it doesn't work out should never be a default attitude. That mindset diminishes the truly terrible or tragic events that do eventually come in our lives, and that's not okay. Setbacks are not tragedies.

THE HOUSE WAS IN A ROUGH STATE TO LIVE IN...SORT OF

Admittedly, our house was rather chaotic during the few weeks it took to paint the house. For almost two weeks, the girls didn't even have doors for their bedrooms. Every evening, we had to pin up blankets or sheets to block the light and every morning take them down for the painters. Tools, dust, and plastic drop cloths covered every inch of the house. Our backs were hurting daily from sitting in awkward, temporary office locations throughout the house and then working on projects into the evenings. It wasn't easy when so much was in disarray, but how dare I think of it as anything to complain about.

The opportunities God has given us is something we are extremely grateful for. We're proud of the wise decisions and sacrifices we've made to get us to this point of having the means to buy a house, having the ability to work on it, being able bless our neighbors whenever we can, and to experience adventures as a family.

I'm excited for our future home projects. I do not assume they will all be easy or convenient to accomplish. Instead of complaining about house projects, I will give thanks to God for the home He has provided for us and take pride in the work I have before me as a steward of my home and my family.

SO WHAT'S NEXT?

Once the painting was finished, we got the house back in order and I began to work on a running list of electrical work. Replacing every socket, every switch, and almost every light fixture. I also created schematics of the house, so I could properly relabel the breaker box. The labels were worn, mislabeled, or vague and I need to fix that in order to quickly know what to shut off for future projects or in an emergency. Thank you, Jason for the assist in that!

Tasks next on the list are to insulate our garage, so it's more useful in the winter, putting on the new trim/baseboards, and new flooring. Chances are rather high that the priorities of these tasks will change as we move forward, but we'll be sure to keep you posted on our progress, our learning, and maybe how to avoid any mistakes we might make along the way.

The State of the House Address: How to Turn Disappointment into Joy

BUYER'S REMORSE?

We expected leftover junk from the previous owners, but not to the degree to which we found it. We fully admit it could have been a lot worse. There are horror stories littering the internet and we don't want to add to the pile of lost faith in humanity material out there, so we wanted to share how we dealt with it and the opportunities that came from it.

Before we could even move our stuff in, Juan had to clean the garage. Practically top to bottom. Cob webs in every corner. Rodent droppings behind boxes. Hundreds of dog treat bits soaked and crusted to the floor. Broken appliances on the shelves. After three hours, it was swept and cleared of all of the left over junk. Just in time for the movers we hired to show up and unload the truck.

These guys were great. Locals making a living with their many side hustles. They made quick work of our 20' truck loaded to the ceiling. They even carried away a full truck bed of the leftover garbage to the dump for us, at no extra cost. Garrett, you rock!

One of the items left was a sound machine, which our oldest daughter quickly claimed. There was also a free-standing cabinet in the kitchen that looked like the previous owners intended to take with them, but ended up leaving it instead. It's in poor shape, but I'll repurpose it for the garage. Can't complain about extra storage, amiright?

In the backyard, it appears the previous owners didn't dispose of their dog's waste, but instead piled it behind one of the trees in the back corner. I've been told we can use it as fertilizer. Anyone have any tips on that? Is that safe for a vegetable garden or just flower beds?

Lastly, they utilized command strips for much of their wall pieces. They work rather well in not peeling off the paint when you remove them. However, the previous owners never removed them when they repainted, leaving highly noticeable unpainted strips throughout the house. This honestly made us laugh. You can see the brush strokes around each of the strips, as if special care had been taken to preserve these temporary fixtures. It would have been far less time and effort for them to simply remove the strips in the first place. People are truly silly sometimes.

Because we want to be truthful, the first day or so we felt a bit disappointed. If this is how they managed their house, what other shortcuts are we bound to find? But we quickly got over it and chose to feel blessed with what God has provided us. We knew there was a lot of work we wanted to do to make this house our own, so what's a few extra tasks on our to-do list anyways?

We don't know the situation of the previous family that lived in this home. We won't ever know the struggles they had. So why hold onto bitterness? At the end of the day, we know all of this leftover mess is trivial. Extending forgiveness and grace is what God calls us to practice, and that is just what we did.

We are truly grateful for this house—even in its current state. We're excited to start working on our projects to improve it, make it our own, and ultimately leave it better for the next family when it's time for us to move on.

Follow along with our home renovations as we tackle each project, make mistakes, and learn to trust the process.

Leaving California: The Long Haul Through the Desert

OUR LAST DAYS IN CALIFORNIA

Nostalgia sat in as we did some minor cleaning to our place and gathered the few remaining items. It felt like it was only the day before that we were filling that empty condo with our stuff. How time flies.

We had so much help packing up our home into one 20' truck and two vehicles. Loading an entire home in four hours has got to be a record. Thank you to everyone that came to pack, load up the vehicles, or help us during this gigantic transition.

750mi | $550 in Gas | 2 Vehicles (towing a 3rd) | 6 Humans | 2 Pets | 1 Jungle of Houseplants

Early the next day, Juan took off in the moving truck with a friend who agreed to help drive with us. The ladies had a later start, but we all happened to meet up at our first gas fill-up in Reno at the same time. Every two hours or so, we made gas and/or food stops. At which point, Juan made sure to check on the plethora of houseplants stowed away in my car. Because it was being towed, the AC couldn't be on, so ensuring they weren't being fried in the August heat made Kevyn more at ease.

Nevada, which made up the majority of our trip, was beautiful, but it's easy to dismiss the desert dust and dry shrubs in the summer. Our guess is that it's stunning in the spring.

Dinner was a welcome break from the drive. We stopped in the city of Twin Falls, ID to meet up with some new friends, who also recently moved to Idaho. They took us to a fantastic local restaurant. Our planned 45min pit-stop turned into two hours of delicious food and laughs. No regrets.

We rolled into our new town a little after midnight. In my tired state, I accidentally slammed a car door on my thumb. It required a splint for a few days as the swelling and pain subsided. Now I just have to wait the next month or so for the blackened nail to grow out and heal.

After all of the gas, food, truck rental, and plane tickets (for our two friends to drive out with us) this was definitely the most expensive road trip to date. I don't want to down-play the stress involved in such a move, but honestly, it felt so smooth and rather painless, aside from my thumb, that is. It had it's moments, but in the end we made it.

We're so thankful for the friends and family that helped us pack and load the truck, and to the two who made the drive out with us. Y'all are amazing!

Can't wait to share how we're settling into our new home and town.