Thursday, June 2, 2016

a short story long : finding our new home in Ottawa

Two weeks ago today, we piled into the car and headed north, driving through New Hampshire and into Vermont. We were on a hunt for a place to live in Ottawa for the next two years. I was a little bit nervous, a lot bit excited to see Ottawa again, and praying that God would provide.

Spoiler alert: He did.

We planned to stop for the night just north of Burlington, Vermont, in Grand Isle State Park, where we camped beside Lake Champlain last September. As we entered Vermont, I had a thought, and said to Chris, " Did you check to see if the state park is open for camping yet for this season?!" I grabbed my phone, Googled, and found out that we were one day early, and the park's campsites opened the next day.

Whomp whomp. 

So, we pulled over to a rest stop, and constructed plan B. We ended up in Burlington, camping at a little campground there, dipping our toes in the chilly lake, and making the best of our plans being sidetracked. When it comes to derailed plans, I get flustered and sometimes a tiny bit grumpy, but thankfully, Chris is excellent at rolling with the punches and letting me have some time to come around to the new plans.

In fact, I think I would have fallen apart on this trip if not for Chris' positivity and knowledge that God was going to provide a home for us, in some shape or form.

The first house we looked at was a sweet little two story with a beautiful backyard, but it was on a very busy street and just a bit too small for us.

The next morning, we visited a beautiful home with a tall brick fireplace, the most exquisite bathroom, and lots of character. But the backyard was paved, the space was not ideal for our needs (one bathroom for all of us, plus guests!), and we weren't entirely comfortable with the neighborhood.

Then came a string of BAD houses, and a cloud of discouragement. A disgusting cat pee house, a strange house with a greenhouse attached and 70's colored bathrooms. A house in a great location, but an awful kitchen, and too few bathrooms.

We were discouraged, and prepared to continue the search again after we moved up in June. Not the end of the world, but it would mean a summer of hotel living, and the thought was disheartening. The feeling was familiar-- an echo of our house hunt when we moved to Boston. Our kids were a mess after living in a hotel and on weird schedules for five days, and we were exhausted-- more emotionally than physically.

On the night before our last day in Ottawa, we silently scrolled through the same websites we'd been searching through all week. Most of the listings were old, still listed even after we had called and been told they were taken. I found one new listing, but there were very few pictures, and no address. We looked at the general area and it was a great neighborhood. The description sounded nice, but with so little information, it was hard to tell.

But Chris called about it anyway, and after 30 minutes on the phone, he came back in from our hotel balcony grinning. I asked, "What took so long? Did you rent it off the bat or something??"

He had spoken with the actual owner of the house, who would also serve as the landlord (previously we had just dealt with realtors), and the guy was gregarious and helpful. We were hopeful, and nervous and praying, praying, praying that we'd found the one.

So the next afternoon, we left our hotel room once more, excited to see what was in store for us. We drove to a park that was two blocks from the house. A gorgeous, green park right on the river, lined with willows, and boasting several different playgrounds and even a wading pool. I wanted to weep with joy. What a beautiful space.

We met the current tenants there at the park, and headed over to the house. As soon as we stepped foot inside, I felt like a giant weight lifted off my shoulders. A  built-in mudroom at the entrance, and a bright white brick fireplace greeted us. Plenty of rooms to host guests from the US, and perhaps best of all, a fenced-in backyard with a swing set. Looking past the ugly bathrooms, and the less-than-ideal kitchen appliances, I knew we had found the place. I could picture our family there, walking to the park in the summer, cozied up by the fireplace in the winter. I gave Chris "the look", and he gave one right back to me.

So that's how we found our soon-to-be new house rental on the last day of our house hunting trip up North.

When I think about the way God provided our Boston house, how He provided a house in Ottawa, and how He continues to pour blessings on us, I feel completely undeserving and humbled. There is nothing about us that makes us deserving of such Love, and that just amazes me. I can't wait to bring our newest baby girl home to that house, host lots of birthday parties and cookouts, and fall in love with Canada in that home.