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Friday, July 03, 2015

My Fantastic Day

I have had a fantastic day today. 

It is Friday July 3rd and since our office was only going to be open until noon I decided to take the day off. I am so glad I did.

First of all the weather has been awesome. 80 degrees and clear skies. But I shouldn't start with the weather. I should start with the start. I woke up Jacob at 7 and he and I went to the Tavern in Northfield for a special one-on-one breakfast. The house was still quiet when I got back so I was able to enjoy more coffee and some time with Andrew laying on my lap (watching Curious George) and my reading a book called The Harbinger. It's a great book.

I decided instead of reading the morning away I would do a little work outside so I went out and spent an hour cutting branches in my backyard. Then I changed clothed, hopped on my bike and did a 22 miles triathlon training ride. My TRI is July 26th and I can't wait.

After the bike ride I had a big bowl of salad for lunch. Next Jacob, Izzy and I went to Menards for fireworks, bird seed and a few others things. Then Stephanie, Jacob and I picked up our van from the repair place in Farmington and Jacob and I grabbed ice cream cones from McDonald's before finding some great clearance deal on men's sandals at Target.

When I got back home from shopping I spent an hour weeding and working in my garden. I picked some radishes and have a great crop of tomatoes and squash coming soon. Then I borrowed my neighbor's truck and hauled away all the wood I cut down earlier this morning. 

For dinner I made homemade veggie tortilla pizzas and I watched Undercover Boss with Jacob. Now I'm headed outside to have a driveway fire and watch the kids light sparklers. 

Like I said, it has been a fantastic day.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Northfield as Base Camp

Yesterday Stephanie and I went to a going away party for some good friends of ours. They are moving to Montana. It is a beautiful place they are going to go, and they are moving to begin a new adventure where the husband has taken a leadership role at a private college in Helena. How exciting is that! The party was a wonderful time celebrating them among family and friends. It was really nice how the man hosting the party (the boss of the wife) gave some beautiful gifts and shared some touching words.

What really struck me during the celebration was how many people mentioned the unique way the people of Northfield love and care for one another. It really is true. Of course I was too young to notice while growing up if things were like this in the town where I was raised but I have a strong suspicion there were not. Northfield is like no place I've ever been. It is a town of 20,000 that seems so connected and tight knit. A place where the people know one another and enjoy being with one another.

Seeing our friends leave is sad because the mean so much to so many people. We have crossed paths on backyard decks, at the swimming pool, in the gymnasium, at the theater, in the classroom, on the neighborhood sidewalk, and at the football field. Now those connections will be much much less, but we are excited to hear about all their new adventures they will have (any maybe some we can go out and have with them!). I love how the husband described the connection between Northfield and now Montana. He said, "Northfield will always be our base camp, the safe place we come back to for rest and encouragement. And it is from here that we will launch out into new adventures!" Isn't that great!

Sunday, June 07, 2015

We Sold Our Townhouse Last Friday!!!!

Last Friday, June 5, Stephanie and I closed the door on a chapter of our lives that began almost exactly twelve years earlier. On Friday afternoon we drove to St. Michael and signed the papers completing the sale of our townhouse in Monticello. It has been a long journey coming to this point and we praise Jesus in how He guided us through the entire process.

Stephanie and I built the townhouse in 2003. We found the property online and worked with the builder to design the townhouse we wanted. It was a wonderful end unit in a cul-de-sac right across the street from an elementary school. We never talked much about the idea of our son Jacob going to school there (Stephanie was on bed rest in the seven month of pregnancy when we moved in) but we loved the location. It was so fun to have our very first home. It was new, it was just how we wanted it and it was beautiful. We hosted many parties, small groups, ministry gatherings and events at that house. We met a couple of great neighbors, invited them to church and continue to watch in amazement at how God has transformed their lives. Becker's we love you!

In 2007 we made the decision to move to Northfield. The year leading up to this decision was a very difficult time for us. There was a lot of pain and growth and change happening and we needed to move out of town to keep our growth moving forward. Packing up our stuff and saying goodbye to the place (and people) we loved was a hard thing to do. It was a sad day. 

For the next 8 years we rented out the townhouse. We briefly tried early on to sell it but the market in Monticello was so bad we knew that we'd lose way too much money if we kept it on the market. God was so faithful in bringing renters. We had three tenants during that time frame. It was hard being a landlord. I learned a lot and I'm not sure I'd want to do it again. I liked having the checks come in each month but I didn't like dealing with the problems and the little troubles that came with the responsibility. There was never really too much to deal with but I always dreaded seeing the renter's number show up on the caller ID.

At Christmas 2014 we wrote down prayers requests for 2015 and one of our family's requests was to sell the townhouse. We saw the market shifting and we wanted to capitalize. We wanted to be done with having the property hanging over our heads and sitting in the back of our minds. My plan was to have the place listed by Stephanie's birthday on March 18. However, my plan was not God's plan. 

Our renters decided to move out in early April. That is when we discovered how much damage they had done to the place. The cigarette smell was horrible. The carpet needed replacing. It looked as though nothing had been cleaned for months, maybe years. The first time back into the now empty townhouse was painful. To see the place we loved so much, the place that was once so beautiful, now so nasty broke my wife's heart. And so we started the processes of prepping the place for sale.

The story of how the townhouse sold is completely a God story. IT WAS NEVER EVEN LISTED!!!!! People this is so amazing. God was so faithful to us. We learned on a Monday (5/4) that the owner of another unit in our cul-de-sac had signed a purchase agreement to sell his home the previous Thursday (4/30). Later that day Jim called and told me that two parties had been very interested in the other townhouse and that the party that lost out on the bid wanted to see our place immediately. We scrambled, completed the flooring and some cleaning, had a showing on Tuesday and then received an offer Tuesday night!!! It was incredible. The next day we countered and by Wednesday night we had a purchase agreement of our own!! God is so amazing!

We couldn't have done it without our realtors Jim and Barb O'Leary. They were so great to work with.  Again and again they went above and beyond our expectations to make sure that our place looked as nice as possible. If you are looking to buy or sell in the northwest suburbs please let me know and I'd love to connect you with Jim and Barb! 

There was some sadness on Friday when we handed over the keys for the last time. The townhouse was a link to Monticello and a link to the past. It gave us an excuse to go back and see old friends. Part of my still lived in that house and as long as we owned it there was always the chance (albeit very, very small) that God would call us back up there to finish the work we started there. That is gone now. I don't know how often we'll be back to Monticello. Although I am relieved to have the weight of being a landlord off my back the finality of it all hurts a little.

Through it all God has been faithful and I am fully confident in the promise of His faithfulness going forward.

I want to thank a few people who mean so much to us and who all helped in one way or another in the sale of our townhouse.

- My mother-in-law Barb
- My brother Aaron
- Jim and Barb O'Leary (realtors)
- Jerry Charlebois (painter)
- Tim Becker (carpet)
- Daryl and Amy Becker (handyman work and emotional support)
- Michael Grose
- Tonya from Home Depot in Monticello

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Triumphal Entry

Found this quote compelling…..

The story of the triumphal entry is [....} the story of the King who came as a lowly servant on a donkey, not a prancing steed, not in royal robes, but on the clothes of the poor and humble. Jesus Christ comes not to conquer by force as earthly kings, but by love, grace, mercy, and His own sacrifice for His people. His is not a kingdom of armies and splendor, but of lowliness and servanthood. He conquers not nations, but hearts and minds. His message is one of peace with God, not of temporal peace. If Jesus has made a triumphal entry into our hearts, He reigns there in peace and love. As His followers, we exhibit those same qualities, and the world sees the true King living and reigning in triumph in us.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Christians Fat on the Bible Need to Start Moving in Obedience

God save me from this.

"We've created a church culture in America where we assume we do nothing until we hear a voice from Heaven. And so if I go to church on Sunday, the pastor's going to preach a sermon [and] we pretty much assume we're not going to do anything radical in response to it unless he gives a really great sermon and gives us steps right afterwards, or this or that or really, really, think that we hear a voice from the Lord." 

As a result many Christ followers live selfishly while listening to Bible teachings every Sunday, said the Crazy Love author. He writes that these Christians remind him of "the fattest people on earth" who have consumed so much food that they can no longer walk. "They are fed more and more knowledge every week. They attend church services, join small group Bible Studies, read Christian books, listen to podcasts and are convinced they still need more knowledge." Chan explained that continually listening to the Word without applying it has made Christians' ears dull to God's call

"That's the first thing I was taught in seminary before we even started classes: the president of the seminary said, 'look be careful because once you can hear the word of God and do nothing in response then the next time you hear it, it'll get easier, and the next time and pretty soon it becomes a habit and a pattern of you're able to hear the Word of God without a practical response,'" said Chan. 

"That's a very dangerous place to be and yet, man, that's happening. Every church across this nation, we've fallen into that pattern." The solution, Chan stated, is to act. "Why not assume action? Why do you hear a verse and assume I shouldn't do something in response to that unless the Lord is stopping you?"


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