Chicago, Here We Are!

5:18 PM

Growing up in my family, my parents were great about taking huge family vacations.

We traveled to all lower 48 states plus Alaska, Canada and Europe. One reason we did this is because when my mom was growing up, she traveled only one place and that was to her grandparents' house, the Farm. And that's the only place she traveled.

She had big dreams of seeing the world and that wasn't possible until she married and had a family of her own. It was then that the traveling began in earnest.

She made sure her children experienced places she had longed to see as a child. can almost blame her for my falling in love with Chicago. :)

One thing about traveling to all the cities and states and countries we did is that you get a taste for those places. 

A taste for different climates, cultures, a love for big cities, etc. You are changed by what you see and experience. Which is as it should be.  

The first time I went to Chicago with my family on  vacation as a college student, I fell deeply in love. Something about the city spoke to me - I felt at home. 

I loved the tall buildings of downtown, the huge lake that felt more like an ocean, the fact that they experienced REAL winter instead of a few cold fronts sandwiched between two summers.  

I stored away in my heart a desire to live there someday.

Interestingly, Kyle has always felt the same way. When the company he works for opened a Chicago office 11 years ago, he made it clear to his boss that when the time was right, he'd love to go work there.  As the years have passed, the time wasn't right.

And that was ok. 

We were content to live in North Little Rock and very happy with our family being all around us, 

the church we were very involved in, the gym we went to, our neighbors, 

our beautiful house with our was a great place to be.

 But that didn't mean we didn't harbor a deep desire to move to our city....and that desire intensified as Kyle began to travel to the Chicago office more and more frequently. He developed a familiarity with the city, the train system, the lay of the land...while on the home-front,

I completed all my renovations to the Goshen house and had it pretty much exactly as I'd wanted it. Meaning I was project-less!

Around the end of 2015, we began to talk seriously about the prospect of moving. We had prayed for YEARS that God would make it possible for us to move, and I think I was waiting for a huge green light or sign saying, NOW IS THE TIME!

And that wasn't necessarily going to happen. It could happen, but did it have to happen like that? If we took steps to move, would that mean we were going against God's will?

Again, not necessarily. Kyle and I both struggled with how to accurately discern God's will for our lives in this matter. Did God have a "will" specifically about this? 

Without going too deeply into our search for that answer (because I may do that in a later post and it could take a long time here), I will say that a conversation with my brother Jeremiah led me to a sermon by John MacArthur called "Taking the Mystery Out of Knowing God's Will."  It literally changed my life by changing my perspective. If you have ever asked yourself the question - what is God's will for my life or for  ___________, rather than simply guessing about it, I highly recommend you listen to the referenced sermon. It is an eye-opener.

The next steps in our journey were not rapid ones.

Rather, baby steps. I have never felt more like God was teaching me faith and trust in such a day by day manner.  

Every day, something new would develop or unfold that would put us a tiny bit closer to our dream. This happened beginning in January and literally leading up to our departure on November 14th, 2016.  All the while, I was pregnant with our fifth child, and I didn't even know where the birth would happen!

In December, Kyle and I had started sort of looking online at houses in Chicago and the suburb of Highland Park where a friend of ours lives. In February, I distinctly remember opening my emails and seeing a notice from Redfin that new houses were on the market and there was this one that jumped out at me!

 It was a beautiful old home that needed work, but was large enough for our growing family and seemed to meet most of our criteria. Of course, in February, we had no clue if we'd even get to move to Chicago, so it seemed silly to fall in love with this house.

And we weren't really sure where this house was or if it's a place we wanted to be. We still hadn't figured out if we wanted a suburb or a city neighborhood? These were questions that could only be answered by seeing things in person.

In June, Kyle needed to spend almost the whole month working in Chicago, giving him a chance to visit several neighborhoods in the city as well as some suburbs to get a feel for them. The kids and I visited for 10 days towards the end of the month and we explored some places together.

Surprisingly, our old house was still on the market, so Kyle set up a showing and he fell in love with it and its neighborhood, Rogers Park.  When we joined him, we set up showings of several different homes - some in suburbs, some in the city.  While we appreciated certain aspects of the suburbs, we had already experienced that in North Little Rock.

We really wanted something more urban, something that felt more like the city. Plus, the taxes in the suburbs were outrageous, particularly since we weren't intending to utilize the public school system.

As we visited areas, we narrowed our criteria to: 1) the city, 2) as close to Lake Michigan as possible, 3) on the north side. Turns out, the house we liked was in Rogers Park, the northernmost neighborhood in the City of Chicago and only a few blocks from Lake Michigan! It was also a few blocks away from a train stop, which was important to Kyle since he would be taking the train to work, should this all come together for us.

We visited the house together and while it was eye-opening to see the work that it needed up close and in person, it somehow didn't turn us off the house.

 It was a challenge, a whole SERIES of projects, something that could keep us busy for years and years!

 Hehe! I know. It sounds sort of crazy, considering I was pregnant, but it also seemed sort of perfect.
I am passionate about old houses, and this one was built in 1893. 

The previous family had lived here for 50 years and raised 4 children in it. It had ample space, rooms aplenty, a back staircase which I LOVED, a room which could be turned into a library, a garage and plenty of parking space (which is at a premium here in the city) and so much character! It had original plaster walls, many with cracks that needed repair. MANY. That was the most obvious issue. So we noted all these things and just prayed that God would continue to lead the process while we waited.

Shortly afterwards, Kyle got the go-ahead from his bosses to move to the Chicago office, and we took the necessary steps to put our house on the market.

That was heart-breaking in many ways. We loved that house, had put years of sweat equity into it making it just how we wanted. I'd given birth to two of my children in that house.

Nevertheless, we still wanted to move. Almost immediately, we had tons of showings.

Within a week, we had an offer, but it was a contingent offer. We accepted it, and made an offer on the Chicago house.

After a period of counters, we got to a price we agreed on - which was remarkable since we had been told most Chicago sellers wouldn't even mess with a contingent offer, which ours was, since our buyers were contingent.

Time kept ticking by and my due date got closer, so it seemed logical that we'd be delivering the baby in North Little Rock.

Meanwhile, we knew we could still lose the house in Chicago. There was no certainty to anything. It was still being shown!

So was ours....We got another contingent offer that we accepted as a back-up. Kyle continued to make trips to Chicago for work, and we set up an inspection and structural engineer analysis of the house. It came back as expected - the house wasn't falling in or anything - it had good bones - but there was lots of work to be done. No deal-killer surprises.

Fast forward to the week of September 29th - Wyeth's 3rd birthday. We had continued to have showing after showing and it was wearing me out. 

I was 38 weeks pregnant and I knew I could go into labor at any time, and I was planning a home birth! This complicated the whole "house showing" aspect! And so far we hadn't received a non-contingent offer which was what we needed. 

Then, the day before Wyeth's birthday, we got a call for a showing the next day. I wanted to turn down the showing, but Kyle reminded me this could be the ONE.

Grudgingly I agreed to it, and we prepared to clear out of our house around noon on Wyeth's birthday.  But as we were leaving, the prospective buyers showed up early and we introduced ourselves.

Turns out this wasn't the first time they'd seen our house and they did NOT have a house to sell.  They were eager to buy, close and move in as they were expecting their third son in February.

That was music to our ears.

We got an offer from them that afternoon, and they are the family that eventually bought our house!
And they even wanted our chickens! (Interestingly, everyone who made us an offer specifically requested the chickens. I love it).

On October 20th, Wilder was born and thus began the craziness.

The wheels were set in motion for our move.

An intense period of packing commenced. We held a big moving sale a week after Wilder's birth.

It was madness!

It was boxes everywhere, chaos, mess, cleaning, sorting, organizing...

It came together really fast.

It was incredibly surreal. 

It was bittersweet. Leaving so many people we love  right after I just had a baby...headed to a house that we knew needed plenty of work....were we nuts? 

The hardest part was leaving my family.  They are more than my family.
They're my best friends.

Their kids are my kids' best friends.
I love them with the same ferocity I love my own children.

But Kyle and I both believed it was the best thing for our family.
So we closed on the sale of our house and on November 13th, loaded up our house...

Or should I say BlueTruck loaded up our house for us.

It was sad. Bittersweet. Exhausting.

We'd spent almost 11 years building our family in this home.

Creating countless memories.

And it was time to do it again.

We drove up to Chicago on Monday, November 14th
 and closed on the new house on the 15th.

We spent the day unloading and moving in!

It was a very big job.

And so it begins for us...

our next Grand Adventure.

Stay tuned. 

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  1. Love this post. Such an exciting adventure for your family. So happy for you!