Last week I needed to come up a list of all the addresses that we've lived at for the past 7 years for some paperwork for the hospital for Glenn. I discovered that over the last 7 years our mail has gone to 11 addresses (one of which we've slept at a couple of times but never actually lived at). If I had filled out this paperwork last month it would have been 12. Abigail, our baby, is 7 years old. All 6 of us have been there for all 12 of those address changes. A complicating factor in the paperwork process was that we were homeless for 2.5 months at the beginning of medical school and 3.5 months at the end. I just decided to put down the address that our mail went to for those time periods because it is most likely for a background check so that is where the government assumed we lived. I don't think we have even gotten a parking or speeding ticket over the last 7 years so I doubt his background check will turn up anything.
After doing my research to come up with our old address list (and saving it to google drive for next time) I came across this post that I had written a couple days after a FMF on Remember back at the end of March (hence the title). It is a trip down memory lane of places we've lived. I have several posts in my drafts list that I've written or started over the last several months of transition that I'll be posting here over the next month or so, Lord willing. Here is the first:
Now that we know what city we are going to be living in for the next 3-4 years the next hurdle that we need to overcome is housing. We've been living out of our van sleeping in the homes of friends, relatives, and occassionally people who are practically strangers to us for the last almost 10 weeks. Oh, we also slept for almost 4 weeks on a docked ship in the middle of those 10 weeks and for this past week we've been sleeping in an old schoolhouse that's been renovated to be a nice vacation rental (if you're looking for a nice vacation spot near the Adirondacks check it out!!). It's been an adventure and we've been able to help people at several of our stops but I'm growing weary.
As we've been weighing the rent vs buy question and scouring the internet for homes it has made me think back and thank God for our previous homes.
Our first home was a two bedroom apartment that was part of a 4 apartment house that we rented from TTU for only $150 a month. I think it was originally supposed to be more than that but that is how our lease came to us. It was ridiculous how cheap it was but it was God's provision because that was about what we could afford at the time with both of us still being full time students and newly married. Young and foolish, yes, but God took care of us.
A year later we moved from our first apartment to our first little two bedroom house. We wanted to move to a nicer neighborhood since we were new parents of little Caleb. Our rent doubled at that point but God continued to provide since we were making a bit more more money with both of us working at least part time.
Late the next spring we were thinking about moving again just south of the border into Georgia because Glenn was looking at going to the Medical College of Georgia and to go there at the time you needed to be a GA resident. God had other plans though and, after mom's heart attacks and subsequent problems, we went up to New York to be there to help out. It was decided we should move up there so Glenn drove down and, with the help of our Sunday School class, packed up our little house in a day and moved our stuff up. We stored our stuff and moved in with my dad for a while to help him out. (I'm wondering if this was technically the first time we were homeless).
We lived with my dad until about Christmas when we moved into a 3 bedroom apartment that we rented from my grandparents. While there we continued to help my dad and visit my mom. Glenn had various jobs including substitute teaching, working as a tech at a hospital and working in a factory making portable bandsawmills. We welcomed Hannah home in that place.
After mom passed away we decided that we needed to get Glenn back in school so he could finish his education. Through a series of events it was decided that we were going to go to Houghton. It was only about 2 hours from Waterloo and we made several drives down there to try to find a place to live. We finally found the apartment over the mini-mart in mid-July and made the move in early August.
In late November I was getting a bit nervous looking at our bank account and wondering how we were going to be able to pay rent on our apartment for the rest of the school year with the whole no jobs available in the area thing I mentioned on Friday. A few days later I was approached by a friend of my parents who lived in town. He asked me if we would be willing to house sit for them for the spring semester. They always spent the winters down south and had often had people house sit for them. They told us that we could stay in their home and they would just have us pay half of the utilities (since they would have had to keep the heat and freezer running even if they weren't there and would have to pay at least that much anyway they reasoned). We saw it as a gift from God so we said "yes, thank you!" and put most of our stuff in a storage unit and moved into their home before leaving to go to Georgia to visit Glenn's sister for Christmas. That beautiful home was the place we welcomed Lydia home to.
The thing with house sitting for a semester for snow birds is that semesters end and snow birds come north for the summer. I really can't remember exactly what we did after we moved out during finals week. I'm with Dory... "I'm a little vague in the details." Hmm. Anyway, that summer we lived various places... between dad's house, our friend's one bedroom apartment, our Burb, our tents in various locations while Glenn worked for STEP. They fought over who actually claimed us in our Christmas letter that year. I was really grateful to move into a 4 bedroom house that we rented from some missionaries for the next 23 months. Abigail joined us there.
After Glenn's job for the year was done and he didn't get into medical school the first time we found out that my grandparents had tenants move out on them in the middle of the night. We decided that we should move to Waterloo and rent from them again while we tried to decide what to do. Glenn substitute taught and retook his MCATs while I homeschooled Caleb and worked a day a week as a secretary. After a few months we moved across the parking lot to a cheaper, smaller apartment also owned by my grandparents.
Glenn was able to get a job working at a hospital in Rochester the next year and we spent a bit of time and many a day driving around looking at apartments there. God provided us with an apartment less than a block from the hospital at a decent price and we moved in with a 11 month lease assuming that we'd be starting medical school at the end of the next summer. It was a great apartment and we loved living so close to Highland Park.
Well, it turns out that Glenn was put on two different wait lists but didn't get a seat in a medical school class that year. Since we hadn't signed a new lease our landlord rented our apartment to others and we were not sure what we were doing since we assumed we were starting medical school. A gracious couple from our small group invited us to stay in their home for a couple of months while we tried to figure out our next steps and they spent a good bit of that time on a mission trip.
While looking for a place in Rochester again we really wanted to live near the park again and God provided us a little house (2 bedrooms, about 600sq feet) with Highland Park as our back yard. We lived there when we got the news that Glenn was accepted to medical school and found out that we got to move to Syracuse.
Craigslist and Orange Housing were both helpful in finding a place to live in Syracuse and, since Glenn was taking summer anatomy, we decided to sublet for the summer instead of get a year's lease to try to figure out where in Syracuse we wanted to spend our 4 years there. Our 3 bedroom apartment sublet (with two porches) was great and we loved the neighborhood but before the end of our time in that apartment we found out that we were approved to buy a house. Thus started our painful house hunting/ adventures in homelessness 2009 version. God provided a place for us to sleep every night but it was tiring and stressful moving around, living out of our van and constantly looking at houses, putting in offers, and having things fall through all while Glenn was starting medical school.
That's where I stopped in March, so I'll finish our walk down memory lane now.
Graciously in October, after 2.5 months of being homeless, we were able to move into a 3br 2bath flat just a block from the place we had sublet. We moved our stuff out of the attic of the house we had sublet (where the landlord had graciously let us store our possessions for free) and into the apartment that wasn't really ready for a family to move into yet (There was a sink, toilet and bathtub in the living/ dining area and piles of saw dust and debries everywhere because of a problem that had happened in one of the bathrooms and the reconstruction that needed to be done. Within a week or two it was cleaned up and there was a complete, working bathroom for us.) We thoroughly enjoyed living there. We think that our landlord saw that and decided that, since it was such a great place for a family, he wanted to move back in and told us on Easter that he was going to fix it up and move in himself.
That was, again, not part of our plan but God was gracious and quickly provided another 3br apartment just a few blocks away for us to live in for our last 22 months in Syracuse. After that Glenn started his RMED track in Lowville, about 2 hours from Syracuse. The hospital graciously found and provided a 3br apartment for our 10 months there. We had no idea what it was going to be like, having not seen it before moving all of our belongings there, but it worked out great and we are so thankful for our time there.
Well his rural rotation ended in January, as did our lease, as did most of his medical school requirements. We weren't going to find out where we were moving to until mid-March at the Match so we put our stuff in storage once again and set out for our mystery months adventures, living out of our van visiting programs, friends and family and volunteering a bit along the way.
After finding out we were moving to Fort Worth for residency we did some searching online for housing then packed all of our stuff up in an ABF UPack trailer and headed south so we could see places in person. We arrived in the DFW area in early April and started looking for a place to live while friends in Dallas graciously let us take over 2 of the bedrooms in their home for a while. Our belongings were put into another storage unit down here while we looked for a place to live. We finally found a place (some more details on that process available here) and are now living at address #11 in the past 7 years, address #20 in the past almost 14 years of marriage.
As I was writing I noticed I wrote the word "gracious" a lot. Grace. Getting what we don't deserve. We have moved a lot. It hasn't always been our choice but God has abundantly provided in places to live, in food to eat, in friends to share life with, in churches to serve in and to challenge us to grow and so much more. We don't deserve any of it but I can honestly say God has been faithful and so generous.
One day this past week in my GMG Anything study I read Acts 4:32-27. That passage talks about how in the early days of the church no one really considered anything that they owned as theirs but as belonging to the whole of the body of Christ. If there was a need the followers of Christ would do what they needed to do to meet that need. Reading it made me think of how many times over the past 14 years we have been the recipients of that grace. I'm so humbled to think of the number of people who have opened their homes to us and who have shared with us what they had just like the church did in Acts. It is humbling to be on the receiving end of that grace. I have learned a lot about hospitality and giving by being on the receiving end of it. I look forward to being able to be on the giving end of it more in the days, months and years to come.
At the end of this time of remembering I just want to stop and say thanks to God for how He has always taken care of us. I also want to say thank you to countless dear friends who have been His hands and feet and have offered us beds and couches and places on their floors and at their tables over the years for anything from a night to over a month. How grateful we are for each and every one of you and the example of generosity you have been to us. We are so grateful!