Remember this morning? When the world was full of sunshine, rainbows and hope… when we were high-fiving about how great our kids are turning out and about how we have less than a month to figure a roof out?? Ohhhh….those were the good old….hours.
This day. There are so few words to describe this day…I mean, it’s a family show. I don’t even know how to describe our personal current crisis to people in under…I don’t know…an hour…then add in sobs…brain fog…and dysphasia. Gracie Kelly is a Hot.Mess. Friends. If I were to try to wrap it up in under, let’s say… one season of ‘This is Us’…it would go something like this-
Hi! I’m Gracie Kelly
Looooong story a little shorter- My husband (we call him sweet B) and I got married in August of 2015 with our feet in the sand at sunrise in auth Florida. Well….we have to back up a little. Our bridesmaids & adorable best little man were our four daughters and son. Just as a family who adopts a baby from birth wouldn’t refer to their child as formerly being anyone else’s…our children will forever be referred to as our children (even if they don’t always want us to) because as of that day in August…we are a family and they have since been every bit as much sweet B’s babies as my own. Then, as if God wanted to fully solidify this already concrete (for us) belief…an unexpected opportunity was presented for him to adopt those amazing, beautiful, talented…(proud much? #OurKidsAreAllIncredible) kiddos…he of course, never skipped a beat. Only 8 short months from the time this guy said I do…he said it again, only this time to a judge. To loving kids, even when they don’t like him. To try again and again, every time he falters, never giving up on them. He told the judge it was just the paperwork confirming the vows we made just eight months before. Normally the judge turns and asks the mother some questions as well…his heartfelt answers satisfied everything she needed to know. She smiled for photos, hugged our family, and wished us well as we finished our hearing.
Okay…fast forward again (throw in new husband/new dad…of 5…3 of which are teenage girls…and lots of other fun speed bumps life threw our direction for sake of time). Just as fast as sweet B became a new father of 5…year 1- our oldest graduated and moved out on her own. Year 2- our 2nd oldest graduated and moved away to college…2 hours away…the 3rd oldest & I (sorry if I embarrass ya Smurph) cried the whole way home together and wanted to turn right around to pick her back up. Year 3- the 3rd oldest (Smurph as you may have guessed…& just for the record- not her legal name….;) ) graduated and is off going to school and changing the world as we knew she would. So in his first three years of marriage this new dad of 5 began the empty nesting process each of the subsequent three years. And did I mention in June of this year our family was the first family baptism at our Church’s new facility?? Life crazy much???
And yes, this mommies heart and arms ache daily still for each of our grown babies…
All the while…. I had gone from working 3 jobs as a single mom of 5 down to just 2 jobs as a new (& incredibly excited but also chronically ill and worsening) bride & mom to 4 at home, affording me a little more time for wifely things…like learning to cook without using the smoke detector timer…who knew?!
This past year we made the decision for me to drop to one job…that’s another season entirely. Loooooong story short- I surrendered my position as a headmaster to preserve a mission I ran, loved and invested so much of my life into for over a decade, which was also now my sole income after expecting not only to continue my tenure…but to expand my mission and eventually, professional position. Unfortunately, life had different plans- but as with everything, God had us. I wept in the office of the pastor I worked with as I read the 5 page resignation letter explaining my heartache at the realization after unexpected expansion expenses and lack of expected funding…that I was surrendering my position to allow the school to reabsorb my salary allowing them to continue the good work as they sought funding for the needed move. It was heartbreaking. I had been valedictorian in a male-dominated education field, hold a masters from ERAU and a pilot’s license. My ability to draw a significant salary was there…but my heart never was. My heart, even in my short absence from mission work into the world of high paychecks and booshie parties…knew I wasn’t where He wanted me to be. So back to mission-work I went. It made my heart happy. Unfortunately, it didn’t make our bank account happy (hence, usually working at least 2 jobs at any given time), it didn’t make my student loan creditors happy (education does not pay what the aviation education costs…I assure you), and it did not make for much of a much-earlier-than-expected happy retirement. All the years I was there, I never put money into my retirement…because the school would have been required to match it…and the money at the school needed to go to teachers, students and supplies. Real World- 1, Gracie-Kelly- Big.Fat.Goose.Egg
Okay….are we rewound or fast forwarded? I can’t remember.
- Marry Sweet B
- Go from 3 to 1 job (s)
- Resign headmaster position in tears
- Give up entire salary with no plan (but total family support- love you B, littles & Mom)
- Decide to stay home for a bit to restore my health.
Great right? Right! Wait. No…
So then we go to our new primary doctor (who by the way is literally the best doctor with the most incredible staff you have ever hoped to come across in the fanciest, most expensive research facility…okay, he would probably be stopping me at some point in there…but seriously, how he doesn’t have a waiting list 10 yrs long for his care is beyond us)…and he (in my first visit, although I’ve told him I know it’s unrealistic to expect this of him every time for every patient…) diagnosed my MS this past July. Like. Nailed it. First visit. This guy. Keep him and his family in your prayers please because he has been an answer to ours. Anyhoo…after much turmoil and talking, we decided to forego Mayo (sorry if you already read about that) and continue under his incredible care until we absolutely have to go anywhere else (& even then we’ve threatened crying, begging, 😂). So this coming Friday- the 8th, is my Lumbar Puncture (spinal tap) followed by several days of bed rest because my body is a punk (keeping it clean, we usually call it much, much worse names…). We had hoped B would be off of work, but it looks like it’s just Mom, Me and Doc with a giant needle in my back draining out a few tablespoons of CSF. Prayers please? Thank you! (& again…for the sake of time, we won’t go into insurance fun, denial for prescriptions that would only improve ‘quality of life’ tell me again what insurance companies cover with money we have to pay each month regardless??? Because evidently quality of life drugs and things of that nature do not rate the price tag…but that’s a post for another day…, and fun things like that).
Sooooooo, where are we again? Okay…B & GK. Add 5. Stir. No, shake. Actually, put it all in the blender, put it all on high, take off the lid. Now you’re seeing it…Okay. Add in MS (Again- for sake of time, add 1 lb numb hands/feet, 1 gallon tears, 5000 bruises, 6,000 falls/trips/stumbles, 4 c of dysphasia, about $5000 in counseling, over $10,000 in medical bills fr useless tests…etc, etc)… This is not a recipe you give to a friend (not one you want to keep anyway)…
So – B & I make the decision to list our (then) current home and downsize to something smaller, easier to manage and where it will have room for me to improve my health without our financial complete implosion. So grown up right?! We thought so too! Not so much. First we were told the house would list for (are you sitting down?… It’s okay, I’m sitting down), over $30,000 more than we owed on it. Great! Right?! We thought so too! (Are you always this agreeable?!) So we went about fixing and repairing everything we could, praying for the homes future family and purging through over a decade worth of “stuff”…
Meanwhile… while we entirely expected to have at least an offer on our (then) current home before really getting serious about looking for our new downsizer/fixer upper…we found our farm. Seriously, from the first time we saw the listing. It was the one. First one we fell in.love.with. There’s a great many details in here that we’ll save for an entirely different time (as you might imagine…it’s a doozy).
Soooo we begin the process of purchasing the farm (as you know, we’ve been talking). We hit lots of speed bumps, had LOTS of new heroes (Mel <3, Jay, Mr Jones, …) and were able to get the loan to get our farm. As you may (or may not…if you’re like me- a spoonie w/crazy brain fog) remember, we bought the house because
- Sweet B is a sucker for his wife falling in love (this time w/a farm), and
- Sweet B used to be a lender (not a fun industry) & knew that the advertised ‘recent appraisal $40,000 above asking price’ was the equity we would need to borrow against to make the repairs the farm required to be insurable. Soooooooo…… the appraisal that we ordered didn’t come in until 3 days before our closing…also, sadly, days after our underwriter made us close ALL credit lines in order to approve our loan. If that was the only way to get our home, we were willing to make that credit-destroying decision (breaking my banker-B’s heart a little). Now, credit destroyed, all other options effectively off the table…we got our appraisal back…within a stone’s throw, and no where close to even $10,000 above asking. So there we were…(at this point, with a new realtor dynamo duo who averages 2 wks to sell a home…who also gently broke the unfortunate news that we would be lucky to break even on the sale of that home…and that they not only read our story- but were doing everything in their power to help our family…God bless these amazing women. They have done everything they’ve promised & then some… All while dealing with our current crisis mode, flairs and challenges with Grace and kindness! We, just- tonight- accepted an offer, just days after listing, on our old home and –YAY?!– SO Very excited not to pay to give up over a decade worth of daytime, nighttime, weekend working, nighttime college and ridiculous sacrifice…Praise God for you ladies <3), to get back to my original point before the run-on tangent (sorry…squirrel)…there we were…no $40,000 equity in the farm that needs a minimum of $10,000 in repairs in 30 days for the insurance to continue covering our home…so the bank doesn’t take it back… No profit in the sale of our old home….no money in the bank after months of my not working…no credit left after being required to close them all to get the loan…from falling in love with the farm, to getting the farm in the final hours…to homeless for Christmas- Not. Okay.
So. I reached out today to our sweet, sweet insurance gal. She is amazing, got us bids, quotes and unicorns at a moments notice for us to get our farm. I called in hopes of good news, extensions, anything. She is looking to see if she can find us a policy that will buy us some time…but as it stands, we technically had until Dec 8 to make ALL the repairs on our FIFTY PAGE inspection report…that’s in 3 days. Also the date of my Lumbar Puncture followed by days of bed rest. Okay. Still praying. Still trying. Anything to find a silver lining. Even our amazing insurance gal, not only is doing anything in her power, but offered love and encouragement to my pathetic sobs into the phone. It was Mama-Bear Panic Mode…except now I’m demylinating. I can feel it. The flare is setting in as the stress level rises. Sure enough, within hours my vision was fuzzy, foot was being a jerk & this hot guy beside me is likely to have a shiner tomorrow with my current lack of peripheral vision. Today as I learned that we may be homeless 1 day before our son turns 13 and 3 days before Christmas, I reached out to anyone I could think of. Incredible friends reached out to offer love, referrals to friends/family roofing companies. I contacted someone we were referred to who was calling around to see about helping us. He had come up with nothing. Another roof bid tomorrow…but pay with what?! And installed by Dec 22, nonetheless Dec 8! We were presented with an interruption. A completely unexpected alteration to our life. It’s hard to ‘plan ahead’ for interruptions of quite this magnitude. Even still, I thought we were adulting pretty impressively all things considered. We made the decision to sell the house, we knew we couldn’t financially withstand AND reduce stress/me not work. We decided to get a less expensive home, 40 minutes out of town, in need of love and repairs, in order to afford a farm we just love, a farm we were ecstatic about and a property for me to rest, recuperate and soak up all the vitamin D this MS body could take.
Sounds like a pretty good plan all things considered, right?! We sold nearly everything we owned knowing we would have little help for the move (C, J, Dad, other momma, mom, B, Dan, Dave & Couch…can you imagine if we hadn’t?!?! #MisFitFamRocks #DidntWeHaveFriendsOnce) and with my unsure footing, randomly numb/burning hands and often inability to drive…I wasn’t really tallied as one of the ‘adult helpers’ for the big move (at least as far as lifting/driving/walking… You know… Qualities you want in people carrying dishes, fragiles,…). At this time, mind you, we fully anticipated making between $10-30,000 on our last home and having plenty of equity for the repairs at the farm. So, we’ll just get new beds at the farm and planned to keep ‘stuff’ pretty minimal anyway. Well…here we are. No credit. No cash. No equity. No roof. No floors. No way to pay for fifty pages of repairs way out of our skill set. No idea what to do. Here we are. In love with our sweet farm. And facing losing that too. Despair? We’ve arrived.
So…I’m not sure where in our little time warp we were last. But here I sit. With you. B beside me, running his hands through my hair to calm my nerves as my fingers soar across the keyboard searching. For answers. For hope. For enough words to leave my thoughts to let me rest these weary bones. Today we reached out to many places. We are so blessed to have some really amazing people in our life. They are praying along side us. They are reaching out on our behalf. They are holding us up as we get too weary to. We close tonight’s chapter Praising His Name. Knowing that the only way will be by His Hand. Truly the way all things are. And as an incredible stranger prayed with me today, fear is not of Him…so I’m focusing on His promises, His peace and our many blessings. This kind stranger has joined arms with our out-of-the ordinary and unexpected army of prayer and life warriors doing all they can to help us save our farm. Tonight- it’s that love and support that nourishes our burdened hearts and calms our weary minds.
So tomorrow- it’s back to figuring out how to make 50 pages of costly and skilled repairs happen in…3 days. Just as I went to make a quip about the impossibility of the magnitude of the things we needed happening in that amount of time…seriously, what could be possible in 3 short days… well, let’s just say it was a timely reminder that put me right back in my place. 😉
This morning I woke up excited about a fun Christmas surprise I want to create for our amazing kiddos. This evening I worried that it may be pointless if we’re facing losing our sweet farm before Christmas is even here. As I thought about a prayer from earlier today…going to bed on this note would be living in fear. So…I’m off to work on a Christmas project that involves our children’s rooms- here at the farm. If you would join us in prayer- THANK YOU. If you want to help with repairs- we have lots of tools but not enough skills or supplies. If you are interested in purchasing a 2015 white Nissan Altima- we purchased one just before my diagnosis currently for sale for whatever we owe on it (?$15,xxx?) also desperately need it off our shoulders. If you want to help with a roof, garage door, supplies, discounts, grants or loans…you are welcome to send me a message here, text if you have my info (or call & try to decipher through tears if you dare) or you can shoot us an email at email@example.com.
In other news- a few quick thank you’s and prayer requests. Let’s do requests first- you know me and real names…for incredible warrior Kat & her co-worker who are kicking cancer’s rear at the moment (& even still reach out to encourage us- xo). Also Frank and his family. To be entirely honest…I don’t know what he does. A dear, dear friend & her husband sent his number (J&CC- BIG thank you <3)…so I called. I called, I cried, and this amazing man prayed with me and offered to do anything he can to help our family. He called sweet B this evening. I still have no idea what he does, isn’t that ridiculous? I’m not sure if he’s a contractor, a community resource hero, no clue. But tonight he’s on the shout out & Thank You list as well as the ‘keep this earth angel & his family in your prayers’ list. Thank you kind sir. Mom…how many stores did I walk out of bawling on my phone as you took care of everything, making dinner,….so many etc’s. You are priceless- we love you. Kiddos…who, seriously, would smile this big if we told them this was their new bedroom (Oh yeah, I’m SO not ready to joke about that…but also so not kidding- these guys are way incredible warriors for the King with hearts too big to fit in their sweet little yet much too grown bodies).
Adopted fam- you know who you are. We love you so crazy much. ❤ Sweet C- always checking in & encouraging in our darkest hours. xo M&D- thank you for your love, patience & support. There are more…but everything hurts…and I’m determined to end this night working on the Christmas idea for our amazing little people and leaving everything else in HIS Hands…at least for tonight!
For tonight, a very exhausted & weary B & Gracie in need of prayers…and a serious real life Christmas Miracle.