Friday, July 11, 2014

Love Your this Case, Our Neighbors

 "…"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.…" Matthew 5:43-45

You have heard it one time or another, "love your enemies," and depending on your situation at the time, this may sound easy. However, if you are faced with someone who has deeply wronged you, you know how incredibly difficult this is to put into action. In my recent devotions I have come across forgiveness and loving your enemies several times. Little did I know that the Lord was preparing me for the huge bump in the road just ahead of me.
My husband and I are very easy going, sweet people. Sometimes we are TOO nice. It takes a lot to get us upset and we don't like confrontation and tend to trust others more than we should. We were living in a rental house for the past 3 years with the landlords living right across the street, literally. Most people when they heard this looked at us with that expression of "yikes." We used to defend them saying how they are great landlords and never bother us and have been pretty sweet to us. All of that changed when our lease was about to expire. They informed us that we were going to have to move out because their son was "having financial difficulties" and they were going to rent it out to him, his girlfriend and their two children. When we first moved in there, they said "don't worry, we would never kick you guys out so that our kids could live here." I didn't bring this up but instead just tried to be understanding. We were never late in the 3 years we had lived there and have always been courteous and sweet with them and had a really great relationship (or at least I thought so) with them. We did the "initial inspection" walk through to where they replied, "Wow, everything looks great! You guys took great care of the place. Don't worry about the carpet, just vacuum because we are tearing it out. Don't worry about the kitchen counters, we are replacing them with granite." I was happy to hear this because it meant one less expense to pay to have the carpets shampooed. We were in such a financial pinch with moving expenses and my husbands low hours recently and the only thing we had agreed to have taken from our deposit was to replace all the blinds in the house which were CHEAPIE plastic blinds that all broke within the first year of living there. The only other major issue we needed to deal with was painting both of the kids rooms that I painted one was a light grey and the other was a pale aqua. They told us to only "Primer" the walls because their son was planning to paint whatever color when he moved in. I did TWO COATS in both rooms of primer and a little bit of the paint showed through, but they were primed and any coat of paint you placed over it would cover it completely.  I thought I cleaned it really well and literally spent HOURS scrubbing the floor with bleach and a toothbrush and bleach-bombed the rest of the house as I normally do when I clean.
So the dreaded e-mail came...they complained about EVERY.SINGLE.THING. They marked just about everything as "dirty" and painted us to be dirty slobs. Anyone who knows us personally or have ever been to my house at any time knows how clean we are. As a matter of fact, they have been in there un-announced  several times and each time the place was "so cute and clean," according to what she would say. They took $700 our of our $1,100 deposit. They charged a cleaning service to clean the place over and replaced the blinds and charged $40 per room to "re-paint and primer." The move out itemized list was even worse. They blamed us for things the previous tenants did and placed responsibility on us for MAINTENANCE issues that are the landlord's responsibility such as the return air filter on the AC being dirty even though we paid for a new one to be nice and left it for them in its original, unopened package. 
This was pretty much my reaction at the e-mail.
I was hurt. I felt betrayed. We both (my husband and I) felt we were taken advantage of. We did not take pictures because, silly me, I thought they were decent, reasonable people. I wrote an e-mail of how upset I was, how unfair it was, etc but I deleted the whole thing because that still, small voice was saying,
"love your enemies."
But it's not fair, God! They are wolves in sheep's clothing! They misled us!
At this point, my whole body was trembling from anger and my face was red-hot. If I had a punching bag at the time, I'd have two tickets to the gunshow with my buff arms. But then, I recalled something I was told by someone who had this advice passed on to them, " You have to forgive them, you don't have to trust them." Whoa, mind blown!
It really put it into perspective for me, I don't have to be friends with them, I don't have to trust them, but I do need to forgive and move on. Another verse that kept coming to mind was one I came across in my devotion time from 1 Corinthians 6 when Paul was addressing the issue of "suing" one another in the church of Corinth.
"Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?" 1 Corinthians 6:7
This seems to be "unfair," but is it really worth the expense, the headache, the stress, for a few dollars won in court? Is it not more mature and godly to accept the injustice and in turn leave more of an impact on our enemies by choosing to forgive? Jesus Christ was treated "unfair" and even put to death for it! He was the only sinless man to have ever existed and in being so and being God, could have easily demanded justice and defended himself by all means, but He didn't, and I believe He left an incredible example for us to follow. Our landlords are not Christians. We may be the only Christians they are exposed to. We have an incredible responsibility to represent Christ, especially to our enemies! Would my angry email reply have made a difference? Would they have opened it and thought I was right? Most likely not, so what would have been the purpose? In my flesh, I may have felt better about giving them a piece of my mind, but we are called to have self-control and restraint. I can pray for their salvation, and show them Jesus through my actions and witness to them. I'll be honest, I really wanted to defend myself and my character, but God knows and will honor my restraint. It took a while to cool down, but in the end I feel better knowing I held back at my fleshy urges in order to honor God. We are grateful to receive almost $400 out of our deposit, just enough to pay off our marriage retreat for later this year.

One thing I would highly advise to would-be renters out there, go for a complex rather than a house rented out by a personal owner. Companies seem to be more fair and decent on move out inspections rather than owners. Might just save you your deposit ;)

For all those out there who struggle with this, know that God will reward you for making the right choice. Being kind to your enemies could leave a profound impact on them, and show them their need for Christ. Thanks for bearing with me through my blog therapy! Lol :) God bless <3

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Things I Learned from Moving and a tour of our New Place

I HATE moving!!! Where my haters at?? The process is so stressful and tedious and expensive one way or another its no wonder hiring a moving company can cost an arm and a leg and maybe even an eye lol! Our lease at our previous address was over July 1st and we had planned to do a few more months but our landlords had other plans for their son to move in so we were forced to find a short-term place (less than a year hopefully) until we are able to purchase our forever home. We had in mind the place my husband and I lived in our BC days.. (Before Children, that is lol) and luckily they has one opening just in time for us to move in! They are luxury townhouses and we LOVE being here!! It is a gated community, with a pool, playground, gym, lounge, and its very family oriented. The kids are over the moon about being here because of the amenities of course.
Our moving experience definitely taught me a few things though and I would love to share some tips that will hopefully help anyone else out there who may be moving.

1. Plan Ahead
We had about 2 months notice to find a place and plan our move. We had to quickly find a place and begin making calls to see if there was availability, we also called our utilities and notified them of our move-out date and the post office was notified of our new address and transfer date. This way, everything was ready in time for us without having to worry about it while moving. Ask friends in advance if they could hep with the move, the more strong hands you have that day, the faster it will go! We had my mom watch the kids for us overnight and we had help from my uncle, cousin, and mother-in-law. We were unable to rent a truck but luckily borrowed a pick-up and flat trailer from an aunt. We did our whole move loading up the truck beds, cars, and trailer.

2. Start Saving
If you are fortunate enough to have a bit of an advance notice, start saving for your moving expenses. Consider whether you will be moving yourselves, or hiring a company, gas, truck rentals, tips for any help you get, money for fast food for a day or two while you settle in, groceries, Deposits and first month's rent, and packing materials. 

3. Use a box numbering system
Instead of labeling everything on the sides of the boxes, assign them a number and keep a paper where you list in detail all the items you place in that coordinating box number. This way, if you need to find something specific, you can look on your sheet to find which box it is in. Also, use color codes for each room it belongs in, for example, red=kitchen, blue=living room, etc.  

4. Pack away decor in advance
I began packing about a month and a half in advance beginning with things I knew I wouldn't need immediately such as decor. I got free boxes from local stores and my father-in-law's work. I asked family to save newspapers so that I can use them for packing delicate items.

5. Keep your plastic grocery bags!
When it comes to moving food and other small items from your kitchen or even other parts of your home, these are very handy to have!
Using re-useable bags to carry small appliances  and other items is great too!

6. Use kitchen trash bags to move your clothes from the closet
Turn the bag upside down, cut a slit in the middle (on the sealed part), and feed about 6-10 hanger hooks through the hole (with the clothes still hung on them. The tie the drawstring closed, this helps to keep the clothes together and easily hangs right up in your new place.

7. Have a "First night" box ready
Pick a box and fill with your immediate essentials. A couple bath towels, coffee maker and cups and the like, a bar of soap, shampoo and conditioner and other basic toiletries, toilet paper, pjs and an outfit for the next day, and any other items you may want to have on hand right away. You definitely don't wanna be stuck without something to wipe your bum should the urge occur know what I'm sayin? 

8. As tired as you might be, try to get as much done as quickly as possible in the first day
This isn't to say you should forget about sleep and stay up all night unpacking, but try not to take more than a 15 minute break here and there and don't forget to HYDRATE!! We moved in the heat of summer in the desert no less, and water was DESPERATELY needed! Moving heavy things in the heat Will make you sweat like a sinner in church! Just saying...

9. If you really want to get done fast, Have one person stay at the new place unpacking
I was fortunate enough to stay behind after a few runs and start unpacking. This really helped get everything done quickly and made it feel like home faster. This isn't NECESSARY but if you can do it, go for it!

10. If your new place is a downsize or temporary, live minimalistically!! 
In our case, it's both. We are not hanging anything on the walls and the very few things we will hang will be done with command hooks so that we don't do any damage to the walls. We kept a lot of decor in boxes/storage, and took out only a few things that fit where they could.

                                                             And now...The tour!!
 This is the dining area. We squeezed in our portable fireplace and entry table.

I made these mason jars right before we moved.. I was on a bit of a crafting spree almost like a pregnant mother nesting like the apocalypse!

This is the only view you will see of my sofas because I am so embarrassed of them, they are in terrible condition and we plan to replace them as soon as we have funds.
This is my relaxing corner of the living room. My late grandparents chair and a wooden crate filled with magazines and books.
this is my son's bedroom..not very thrilling and not very organized lol
my daughter's bedroom...she had her cousin over.
this is the master bedroom tour.

This is the master bath

I apologize for the bed photos :/
This is the guest bath.
This is the Kitchen.

And here's a shot of us chillin on a VERY HOT day in the pool and at the playground!

We really do love our place and will enjoy every minute while The Lord has us here. We have been truly blessed and now He has great plans for us! It was just stressful being in "Limbo" and not knowing what was ahead of us but we have really learned to trust in God through the fog and He has never failed to provide for us even in our darkest times. I hope these tips help any of you or encourage you if you plan to move and I hope you enjoyed the little tour! :)

**If you would like to see tons of ideas on how to decorate rentals, check out my board on Pinterest labeled  "Portable design for the renter"