A Punch to the Face

Plans: intentions or decisions about what one is going to do.
“Everyone has a plan…until you get punched in the face.”
Mike Tyson may have been referring to the boxing ring when he said this, but am I the only non-boxer who still feels like they totally get what he was saying? I couldn’t count the number of times I have been punched in the face in my life time. I mean figuratively of course; I think I would rather give birth than willingly receive a punch in the face.
When I started this blog, I shared about how all of my plans for my life (and my fiance’s) had so drastically changed. One of David’s favorite quotes is “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” After some very hard years, we have begun to see the better plans God had for our lives and for the lives of our children.
There is nothing wrong with making plans. In fact, you would probably not get far in most cases without some element of planning. But plans must be held in an open hand. The tighter you keep your grip on your plans, the bigger the black eye your punch to the face will produce! Life can be a gruesome opponent.
I got myself a black eye this week. A big one. You would think I would have learned by now to be a bit more flexible, a bit more trusting, a bit more go-with-the-flow, but as I said last post: I am definitely still a work in progress.
The boxing ring (also know as the plan): I will make this the short version since I have shared it before. We had planned to buy my grandmother’s house which is the house we are currently living in. The set up allows us to begin the process of becoming blended without fully living together. The rent is amazing. We wanted to buy by March, renovate until our wedding on December 2, then live here in a house much better suited to our needs for 3-5 years. Floor plans had been drawn, numbers had been crunched, materials had been priced, timeline had been drawn up, and the process of buying had been started. We had been to look at a few of the home builders in our area so we would have a back up plan just in case, but that was plan B.
Right jab: Buying my grandmother’s house didn’t work out.
To the corner of the ring to regroup: This was ok. Not plan A, but we had a back up. We quickly refocused to see all the good: less work, less time apart, less chance of something going wrong, less chance of timeline errors. We went back to our favorite home builder to re-discuss and get all the facts. Biggest fact learned-a home build takes 8 months. We were getting married in just under 9 months. We had a decision to make. Cue a long evening of floor plans, spread sheets, pro lists, con lists, and coffee.
When we had finished, we had a new plan for a new house, a number we thought we could comfortably afford, and a journey to becoming blended that would look a little different. We returned to the home builder, not sure if what we had picked would even be possible, picked all the things (for the only floor plan we had seen that fit all of our needs), and were surprised to hear that all of it still fit into the price range we had set. It was close but it fit. The only problem was that we had set the price range, not a lender. We still had to be pre-approved for what we thought we could spend. We applied that afternoon, ready to wait, and got a call a few hours later-we were pre-approved for the exact number we set for ourselves. Was this for real? Was the house a go? We went the next afternoon to sign the paperwork and commit to something very different than we had planned. New plan: Continue to rent my grandmother’s house until the wedding. The house was set to be done a few weeks before the wedding. We would move as much as we could over so that after the wedding and honeymoon, we could all move in to the new house and finally be able to live all together and be a family. It was a good new plan, an exciting new plan. This picture is from when we took the kids to look at where our new home would be. We spaced them all out on the dirt and then told them “Where you are standing is where your new bedroom will be!” We were blessed by seeing their faces get excited.
Left hook: My family told us they had to put the house we are living in up for sale. My grandmother just moved into assisted living with her husband. Expenses are higher for them now. Having this house has also been giving her undue stress. When we could no longer purchase it, plans had to change for them too. She needed to be able to disconnect from the anxiety it brought her and move on.
To the corner of the ring to regroup: This was still ok. The house being listed didn’t mean it was going to sell right away. There were many factors that could slow the process down. There was no reason to panic at this time.
Uppercut to the chin!: The house sold in a week.
To the corner of the ring to regroup: That was a strong, sure, strike. We were seeing some stars. What did this mean? What could we do? The closing date was set for April 30. David’s first instinct: “To the spreadsheet!” You see, David has a master spreadsheet that is really quite impressive. It holds a picture of all we have incoming, all we have outgoing, all we have upcoming, all we can save, and all the possible scenarios that could change it. With it, we had a very clear picture of what we could save over the course of the year to still be able to make the down payment on our new home and have a wedding at the end of the year. We looked at rent for homes in either the current school district or the one where the new house was. We plugged in a new probable rent number and watched our wedding budget disappear……
We started to rethink everything. Our minds were reeling:
-We couldn’t afford a wedding now, but we wouldn’t be able to in December either, so why were we waiting?
-We were no longer waiting for renovations to be done to get married.
-We were now looking at having to rent a home that wouldn’t have a separated room for David like we have now. We would be living together. We wanted to be married before that. Splitting everyone up at this point is not an option for us.
You are thinking it seems simple-Have a small wedding now. There were problems with that too:
-We had booked my dream photographer for December 2.
-We had printed (and addressed!) our Save the Dates. I had to pull them from the mailbox an hour before the mail ran when we realized everything was changing.
-While the money for a wedding wasn’t going to be there either way if we had to rent a new place, the money for the booked photographer would at least be there by December, but not now.
-Call me crazy, but I booked my dream photographer because I want the moment we become a family to be beautifully documented; not so that a party celebrating an event that happened months before could be documented.
On Tuesday morning, we sat down to figure this out. We plugged in so many different scenarios to the master spreadsheet. We talked and talked and talked. We prayed and prayed hard. We talked to others, who had great advice, but still didn’t have the whole picture. Hours later and we still didn’t have an answer. I reached a point where the stress of the figuring got to me and I started to cry. David looked at me and told me we needed to recapture the joy of all that lay ahead of us. This is not what we wanted our wedding planning to look like. He told me he was going to go to work and get his computer so he could work from home. While he was gone, he told me to take some time and get dressed and ready for going out. He told me to call my mom and see if it was a good afternoon to go look at wedding dresses (I had been telling him I wanted to go with my mom when I went). When he returned, he took me to pick out a wedding band. That afternoon, my mom and I joyfully went through the process of picking a new dress for a new beginning that was as beautiful as the story being written. I had a wonderful day and I smiled that I had someone who loved me enough to see a need in me and put me first. I was ready to jump back in the ring!
So here is where we are:
-There is a current option that would allow us to still save for a December wedding, but it isn’t ideal and it isn’t for sure that it would work.
-There is a possible current option that would allow us to save for a small wedding in December, but would mean us living together in a one level house until the wedding.
-There is the option of a small wedding now and a reception in December.
-There is the option of moving the wedding completely and scrambling to figure it all out in two months, but we don’t have a plan yet for how we would pay off the photographer in time. Taxes could be the key, but there is a hold up on being able to file mine that there is nothing we can do about and we can’t just tell our professional photographer “We’ll let you know when we know.” She has commitments too.
We still don’t have a new place to live. We still don’t have a wedding date. We still don’t have a new plan. But we know the One who knows all of these things and more. We have each other. We have 7 beautiful children. We have a reality that we know is plenty to be thankful for. Our hardest days now are better than our best days a few years ago. I suppose this is just another example of the beautiful chaos that we claim as our reality. It wouldn’t be a good story if there wasn’t some chaos!
Alright, life. Let’s have a clean fight. Touch gloves. DING!
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Ashley Karaffa

Ashley is mother to a blended family of 10 and appreciating the beautiful chaos of it all. She enjoys creating systems - because how can you survive a family with 8 kids without systems - and spending time celebrating her family.

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