Karl and I are currently in the middle of the whole "house-hunting/becoming-home-owners/achieving-the-American-Dream" process. It's been alternatively exciting and discouraging, stressful and fun, and a new perspective on the many differences between the two of us and how we do things. Karl likes to have all the facts laid out first: price, exact location, miles to work, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, parking, etc. Then and ONLY then does he look at aesthetics, and he never, ever considers how the house "makes him feel." My technique tends to start with the feeling a place gives me, moving immediately on to mentally arranging all my furniture, painting walls and hanging pictures. Then I re-evaluate how my menally decorated house makes me feel, and imagine daily life there. Karl just shakes his head when he sees me doing this, and worries that my mental furniture arranging means I've fallen in love with a particular house and will be heartbroken if we don't end up buying it. In reality, though, it's just my way of measuring the livability of a place, and getting the most fun possible out of this process.

I've always loved open houses, home tours, visiting someone's house for the first time, or just looking in lighted windows at night to catch a glimpse of a room. I have stacks of pictures and ideas clipped from home decorating magazines starting from when I was ten or so, and somewhere a pile of graph paper with painstakingly drawn house plans (usually with at least five bedrooms, a "theater room," a library, and a guest house). Growing up, I'd rearrange the furniture in my room about every six months or so; usually starting, for some unknown reason, late at night. For me, all these possibilities are almost as exciting as the idea of actually finding our first home. I've been spending some time on craigslist seeing how much furniture I could buy for $500 or less, and trying out various arrangments in my head. There's a lot of no-nonsense practicality in it, too - from the lists of "must-haves" and "would likes" I wrote out for our realtor to my need to know that a house is livable.

We've been looking in DC itself (around the Capitol Hill area), and in a few little communities just outside the District. Karl grew up in the middle of the city in Philadelphia, so he's very comfortable with the row homes, tiny (or non-existent) yards, walking and urban feel. I've never really lived in a city, so there's a lot for me to wrap my brain around when we consider those options. Houses outside the city give Karl more to think about, especially the idea of lawn care and what that entails. We're not sure where we'll end up yet, but we're both really excited about all the possibilities... and the idea that we'll be in our own house in another two months or so. Owning a house - it feels like such a big, grown-up step to take! And it's just a short mental step from there for me to imagine babies, and family visiting, and parties with our friends, and a garden, and a dog... I think I see exactly why home-ownership has always been such a big part of the "American Dream."

kindred spirits

You know when you meet someone and immediately "click" with them? As if you've known them for years, even if you've only just said hello. Something in you recognizes something in them, and your very soul rises up to meet theirs? L.M. Montgomery called these people "kindred spirits," and finding one is a true joy. I've written before about how difficult it can be for me to make friends - this is something I've struggled with all my life, questioning whether there isn't a flaw in my own character that makes it so difficult for me to really connect with people. This is difficult for me, an odd mixture of shyness, a desperate need to be liked and that basic extroverted demand for social contact to recharge me. In marriage, I have found a best friend and playmate who meets so many of those needs, but I still find myself longing for girlfriends and other social interaction.

Since Karl and I moved to DC, we've spent a lot of time looking for a church home - trying each church for several months before ultimately deciding it wasn't the right place for us, and moving to the next. Both of us have been frustrated with this, and wanting greatly to find where God wanted us to be. Within the last two months, we've found ourselves suddenly a part of a "church plant" in the local area, currently made up of about twenty folks.  Sundays have become one long playtime, with lunch together and church services and often boardgames or talking until late at night.  All of a sudden, we have friends to share with, talk to, cry with, and plan outings and activities with... it is exactly what I believe was meant in Acts 2, and what Christian community should look like.

I struggle occasionally with doubt and despair, and with the weight of my burdens every day - having kindred spirits surrounding me now gives me strength, and peace, and hope for where we are now and where God is taking us. Even being so far from family now doesn't hurt quite as sharply as it did just eight weeks ago. Thank God for answered prayers!

*As a side note, I am writing this from just outside LA where I'm putting on a conference for work, and one of the attendees - whom I'd never met before - just struck up a conversation with me that sequed seamlessly into a discussion of Christ in marriage, church planting, and spiritual growth. Neither of us know each other, neither of us said anything outright to indicate our spiritual state, but somehow... we just knew. Family, recognizing family. I just LOVE that.