Monthly Archives: May 2009

Update and nostalgia

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Hello all, I am coming to you from a brand new address. Our house SOLD! It was on the market all of 4 days and was bought by the second people who looked at it. So thankfully we never had to endure endless showings and the dreaded “Open House”. What was even more incredible and insane was that the couple who bought the house wanted to close super quickly …like seven days quickly! We decided to take the money and run and thus began a marathon packing session completed at a break neck pace. Thank God for family because we needed help BIG TIME! The Neagles are blessed with amazing brothers, sisters and bro and sis in laws. They came and helped pack, load, unload and unpack. Amazing. And thanks to Michael’s mom for keeping Ephraim so Mommy and Daddy could get the job done.

 

I am not going to say that this has been an easy time. While it is an incredible blessing to have had the house sell quickly and to get almost full asking price, it has also been exhausting physically and emotionally. When we made the decision to sell it was not without a little trepidation. We made a decision in favor of wisdom and not comfort. Michael will begin clinicals next semester which will severely restrict the number of hours he is available to work setting tile. We knew that we could either keep the house and I would have to work probably full time again. Or, we could sell, downsizing our expenses and I could continue to be home with Ephraim. That was pretty much a no brainer. I want to be home with my little boy. It is still an incredible sacrifice though. 

I have battled my emotions from the moment we put the sign in the yard. I was counting on the fact that it would probably take some time to sell and a month to close. Wrong on both counts. In hind sight it is definitely for the best … better to go ahead and rip the band aid off rather than draw it out. I think what has been difficult is knowing that we are not really moving onto the “next” or “bigger and better” thing. It feels like we are sort of on pause. We decided rather than rush into getting into something else by renting that we would accept a more than gracious offer from my mom to move in with her. She is single and has a house that is much to large for her. It has a very unique layout that allows for a lot of privacy in the master suite. Because of that mom moved into one of the guest rooms and Michael and I are now settled into her old room. (We are secretly hoping that we will just buy this place from her and she will downsize into something smaller that will better suit her needs.)

So here we are mostly unpacked, but not quite settled. We painted E’s room the same color as it was at our house and although the room is slightly smaller it looks almost exactly the same and he seems none the wiser. He has been battling a fever for a few days so we finally took him to the doctor today. He has an ear infection and got a shot. He was pretty whiney and clingy all day (mama doesn’t mind), but is sleeping away right now.

Stress has been pretty crushing for Michael and I. We are both just wiped out from all the transition. Michael severely cut his hand at work on Monday with a box cutter. He got five stitches, but is almost good as new. He starts summer school next week so it will be back to the daily grind. We are looking forward to this weekend for some serious R&R. We are contemplating a beach vacation in the near future. I think we deserve it.

I will post some pictures of the new place soon. I am doing a lot of updating here and we have moved in a lot of our own furnishings and decor. My mom said the only hitch is that we have to leave it all when we leave because it looks so much better. Michael told her that the stuff could stay, but one of us would have to go then. I think she is actually very relieved to have us here. I can imagine that a big house can get very lonely when you are the only one living in it. It is also going to be nice for her to have a man around who can work on this place. She has been here about seven years and the wear and tear that comes with home ownership is a bit to evident in this house. We plan and helping her out with all that stuff in exchange for room and board while here. So begins a new season in our life. One we really did not see coming. Life has been nothing but transition for us ever since Ephraim was born. Slowly but surely we are figuring it out and just know that ultimately Jehovah Jireh is our provider. He always has been and we are blessed with His favor and grace.

 

 

 

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Remodel ( A photo essay)

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So this is what we have been up to for the past 2 weekends: remodeling our hall bathroom. Michael started demoing before I could get full on “before” pics, but I think the fugliness of this room is discernable even from what I was able to capture.

Countertop and what lies beneath the mirror when it was removed.

Countertop and what lies beneath the mirror when it was removed.

The cabinet and countertop

The cabinet and countertop

 

Where the big ugly mirror was

Where the big ugly mirror was

 

Tile floor, mid removal (layer one)

Tile floor, mid removal (layer one)

 

Cabinet gone ... good riddance!

Cabinet gone ... good riddance!

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New backer board on floor

New backer board on floor

 

Tub surround pre re-glazing (it has freckles)

Tub surround pre re-glazing (it has freckles)

 

Bead board up

Bead board up

Daddy's little helper

Daddy's little helper

Side note here:  This is not the first “makeover” this bathroom has received. When we moved into the house almost 4 years ago all of the woodwork in the bathroom was a maple stain (brown) and there was purple brocade wallpaper on the walls. I knew we couldn’t do a full on re-do then, but I also knew I could not live with it as it was. So, I painted the would cafe au lait (creamish) and stripped off the wall paper. I then textured the walls and painted them a light khaki color that I bought for $5 for a gallon off the mistint section at Lowes. 

Our intention had always been to rip out the existing bathtub and replace with a jetted tub. And of course take out the tile tub surround and floor and replace with natural stone. However, since we have decided to sell our house we wanted to get this done quick and on a serious budget. The tile was free (left overs from a job. Handy that the hubs does tile huh?) We got a bid for the reglazing of the “freckled” tile. It was $500 + so we decided to do it ourselves with a kit from Home Depot. Cost for two kits $100. The sink was a $99 all-in-one set (meaning it included all the plumbing and hardware as well as the faucet) Paint was left over from the color E’s room was when it was a guest room. Beadboard and trim were about $30. And my favorite bargain in the mirror that I found at Ross for $25. All total we estimate we spent approx $300 or less. 

Results:

 

New mirror

New mirror

New sink. Not my original choice, but it was a bargain!

New sink. Not my original choice, but it was a bargain!

 

New tile set on a brick joint

New tile set on a brick joint

Re-glazed tile (no more freckles!)

Re-glazed tile (no more freckles!)

 

Ignore the frog pod!

Ignore the frog pod!

Ten days of sporadic work and $300 dollars later, we are pretty happy with the finished product. Should all a lot of value to the house!

So, I have some thinking to do (and homework too!)

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Greetings friends. Sorry I have been absent of late. Lots of things happening around the Neagle house that I will catch you up on later. We have been busy, busy, busy. This weekend Michael and I both spent time at different church retreats. Michael was a part of the First Presbyterian Church Men’s Retreat in Glorietta, New Mexico (I was sooo jealous, love Santa Fe!) He led worship for the event, but was also just blessed to hang out and get to know some the men from our new church family (I told you guys we were Presbyterians now, right?) He got home this afternoon and E and I were soooo happy to see Daddy after a few days apart.

I wonderfully got to be a part of the More Women’s Retreat this weekend. My wonderful sister, Samantha, was able to keep Ephraim for me during the evenings so that I could attend the night time sessions of the conference. The retreat started Friday night and ended Saturday night so I actually only missed one session. Since Michael was out of town I was not able to spend the night (the retreat was in Amarillo at a local hotel) or really hang out much after, but it was still such a blessing. I didn’t think I was going to be able to go for lack of babysitter and finances. As the weekend was drawing near I just felt so bummed to be missing out and made a simple request of the Lord, “If you want me to be there, work it out so that I can go.” By that afternoon he did. Babysitter, check! Scholarship money, check! So I knew that something good must be in store! 

The speaker for the event was Jenn Johnson from Bethel Church in Redding, CA. If you do not know of Jenn I cannot encourage you enough to check her out. She and her husband, Bryan, are the worship pastors at Bethel where her father in law, Bill Johnson (AMAZING), is the senior pastor. I had never seen Jenn before and only heard her and her husbands CD a few times. She was at another church in Amarillo this past fall and although I did not attend the event I heard incredible things about her. I have to admit though that going into this I had some doubts. I just wasn’t sure what the experience was going to be like …would I enjoy it, would it be “worth” the time away from home, etc.

She opened up the evening with worship which was so wonderful and sweet. She has a great voice and her song choices were just spot on for what my heart needed. Then she began the evenings talk explaining that when the retreat organizers contacted her last fall about speaking she immediately knew she should come because of the theme of the event “Seasons of Life”. Turns out she was/is in the process of writing a book called “Seasons” about that very thing. It didn’t seem like she had a specific “message” (read: 5 point sermon) to share with us. It was more like she was just speaking from her heart and in the moment. She is an incredibly gifted communicator and also very beautiful. She is also hilarious. At 27, she is mom to three kiddos, married and in full time ministry. On top of that she has written books and recorded CD’s so you could say that any doubt the older set might have had about receiving from someone younger was quickly put to rest.

I can’t remember exactly what she began speaking about. She tells lots of stories and is very animated but it did not take long for her to get right to the heart of the matter. She told us to get out pen and paper and be ready to write down a few questions because we were going to have homework. Okay … What she said next is that we were called to have an action plan for our life and that it begins by answering a few key questions:

#1. Who am I?

#2. What do I love?

I was floored right there in that moment and left completely broken. For perhaps the first time in more than a year or two she encapsulated the biggest thing I have been struggling with … I have completely lost sight of who I am. I am utterly at a loss for words. This is something that my husband has been delicately trying to broach the subject of for a while. In vain attempts to be subtle and sensitive at the same time he has hinted at what I have known deep down for quite some time: I am floundering. I have lost my way and have had no clue and really no motivation to find my way back.

I could psychoanalyze the situation pretty easily and surmise that for so long the quest was to get pregnant and once I was the focus was on the pregnancy and eventual child. Child is born and new mommyhood takes you over (literally) and before you know it a year has gone by and you wonder where it went and how you spent it. I think that is correct in part, but not completely. I am moved to go a little bit deeper, but as Jenn said this weekend, it really doesn’t matter. The why or the how I got here is irrelevant at this point. The objective is to move forward. So that is what I am going to do.

I have only just begun to ask God these two questions and I can’t say that I have heard a lot back yet. I am trying to decipher his voice from my own and really lay down the idols of self that have been erected in my mind. I also can see now that he has been moving me or preparing me for this over the past few weeks. About 3 weeks ago I was cleaning out some stuff in our attic an unearthed a box of treasures from the past. One of these was a home made “yearbook” from my freshmen year in highschool. (Those suckers were expensive and we were broke so I made my own for people to write in) As I read threw the pages and pages of  things people had written about me I found myself quite perplexed. The girl they were writing about was pretty unrecognizable to me. I couldn’t conjur her up if I tried. It made me so sad for I have no idea what happened over the years. It reminded me somewhat of when people experience some sort of trauma and completely forget or “block out” a part of their life. Weird, I know. Then I found a scrapbook containing tons and tons of photos from college. Party Time pictures from fraternity parties and date party events. Pictures from Tech football games and Carol of the Lights, Young Life camp and Kanakuk as a counselor. The pages of this book contained the smiling faces of people who had become a surrogate family to me while I was in college. I loved them and thought that with at least a few, if not many, I would remain close friends. It didn’t happen. Somehow between graduation, moving to Amarillo, working full-time, getting engaged and married and embarking on a new life, I let the old one slip away …for better or worse.

I think this probably happens to a lot of people. Maybe it is the norm and not the exception. I don’t know, I can’t speak for anyone else. What I know for me is that it sets a dangerous trap for me to fall prey to in that I can drift very easily into isolation. And I think that is where I have been for a long, long time. You know the saying “Jack of all trades, master of none?” I think what I could say about me is “Known of by many, really known by few (if any).” What really scares me about this is that I have no idea how I got here. It is like I woke up one day and changed places with someone who was extroverted socially and introverted emotionally and intimately. Who wants a friend like that? OUCH.

The second question seemed a little vague at first. She said not to over think it, keep it simple. And not to say stuff like “Serving Jesus” or “Ministering to the Body” We all love that, or should anyway. Be real and personal. She surveyed the crowd. People said things like “Books” and “Skiing down a mountain” “Being a mommy”. I said, “A damn good cup of coffee” (outloud) and “Red wine” (quietly). I do love both of those. What else though? I used to love to run. Loved it. Then I hurt my back and yada yada … I love music. I love to drive on a cool night with the sunroof open and listen to great songs that tell great stories. I also love pop music. I love it to be fun, especially when I am working out. I love the mountains and the beach, but the mountains more. Old Rachael loved a great pair of worn out mens Levi’s that cost her like $5 at some thrift store. Recent Rachael loves expensive denim. Why can’t I just be both. Old Rachael could go anywhere alone. Not because she was a loner but because she wasn’t afraid. She wasn’t afraid. And it just hit me. Fear is what changed it all.

Somehow I opened a door to fear in my life that has eaten away at the very core of who I am. At times it has stolen my  joy, my peace, my health (mentally, physically and emotionally), my sleep, my confidence. I have been robbed blind and I think I just realized it.

Something else Jenn said confirmed my answer to the following question she asked. She said

“Fear can hold you prisoner, but HOPE can set you free!”

That will preach, I don’t care who you are!

So knowing all that, here were Jenn’s next questions:

#3 Jesus, what is my most effective gift in my life in this season? (I felt like He said hope)

#4 Jesus, who in this season of my life, should I be friends with/parter with?

#5 Who am I supposed to be affective to in this season? To give to? To equip?

Can you hear the crickets y’all?

So here is where I am. I am praying and asking and waiting and I am not moving until I get an answer. I do not want to go one step forward in this life on my own. I want to take the steps that He is leading me in and follow the path of his making. I don’t want to flounder any more. One thing Jenn said that really hit home was “There is no pause button for your life and your role in building His kingdom. Get over it.”

I have been living in pause land too long. So here I go. Tomorrow is my new beginning and I am really excited and really ready to set what is next for me. For my marriage. For my family. And for my giftings.

I’ll keep you posted as I know more. And hey, if you knew me then/know me now do me a favor and send me your thoughts on this stuff, specifically about changes good and bad you have seen in me. I could use some direction.