In our 22 years of marriage, Brad and I have lived in fifteen different residences. We got married while we were still in college at OBU, and lived in a little HUD apartment (#1). Because we were still students and basically had no income (we were living off money we had saved), we were able to live there for free. After I graduated and got my first job as a speech pathologist, the rent was going to skyrocket, so we moved into another apartment that we could actually rent a little bit cheaper (#2). When Brad graduated from OBU, we moved into a triplex in Springdale (#3), and completed our master's degrees in one year. By the time we graduated, we had jobs lined up in Fort Smith, and since we had no reason to stay in Springdale, we got ourselves a housesitting job in Mountain Home (where I was from). For a couple of months, we lived rent-free in a mobile home way out in the country (#4) and babysat a grotesquely obese chocolate lab named Dusty. Brad 'affectionately' called her "Musty." It was really quite comical...We had to promise to keep the temperature in the trailer at a constant 68 degrees and take Dusty for a ride in the car every day. But hey, it was a free place to live!
After a couple months with Dusty, we moved into a duplex in Fort Smith (#5), which is where we brought our first baby, Hannah, home. Good memories there! Then, we bought our first home, a brand new, 1380 square foot home (#6) for $67,900. That is the house we brought Bethany home to, and we lived there longer than we had lived anywhere else up until that point...about three years. Brad's master's degree was in educational administration, so when the Ashdown School District offered him a junior high assistant principal's position, we took off again. We sold our house within just a few days and moved into a rental house in Ashdown (#7). We were there for a year (maybe two...I honestly can't remember right now), when we moved to Crossett, where Brad became the high school assistant principal. In the school administration business, when they offer you a job, they usually expect you to be there within a week or two. The only place we could find to rent on a such short notice was a trailer in a trailer park (#8). It was dirty and hot, and I hated to move my two little girls into it. We started looking for a house to buy right away, found the perfect place for us, and moved into it as soon as we could (#9). It was a great house, but on a very busy through street. Brad's position at the school meant that he was the primary disciplinarian, and before long, we began to have problems with vandalism and harrassment from angry teenagers driving by the house. So...we sold that house and bought another one on a much quieter street (#10), which pretty much solved our teenager problems.
Then, Brad's alma mater came calling, and he was hired as a high school assistant principal in El Dorado. We sold our house in Crossett, (again within a matter of days) and bought a great house in El Dorado (#11). We lived in that house longer than we had lived anywhere up to that point, and we all have very fond memories of that time. Unfortunately, we began to have problems similar to those we had in Crossett, and we decided to sell that house and move to a more secluded location. God sent a sweet older couple to buy that house, and we moved into a rental house out in the country (#12). In December of that year, an assistant principal position (not involving student discipline!) arose with the Cabot School District, and Brad took a position there. We moved into a rental house (#13) and eventually bought a house there (#14). After only a year and a half, we had the opportunity to come to Magnet Cove where Brad would be the high school principal, and we took it. We bought a house (#15), and have been here ever since...almost five years now.
Wow...I really didn't mean to go into so much detail, but once I got rolling, I couldn't stop! I could really make this a long post by telling you how God's hand has been apparent through all of these moves, but I'll save that for another day.
I've been continuing my videotape dubbing project today, and I think we have video in every one of these different homes. Well, at least the ones from the time Hannah was born...that's when we got our video camera as a gift from Brad's parents. We moved so often when the girls were young that we began a tradition of videotaping them giving a tour of each new home. They took great pleasure in showing off every detail of their new bedrooms, the living room, the kitchen, the bathrooms (which always resulted in lots of giggles, for some reason!) and the backyard. The tours always began by the cameraman (usually me) coming up the walk to the front door, which was opened by the girls, who would say, "Come in, come in...let us show you around!"
And as I watched some of these tours by the girls this week, I couldn't help but think about what it will be like to see Hannah again in Heaven someday. I can just imagine her greeting me at those pearly gates, giving me a hug, tucking her arm in mine, and saying, "Come in...let me show you around!" And we'll walk around together, taking all the time we want, her showing me all the sights, which will be far beyond anything I can even begin to dream of. Waaaay better than anything we have on videotape. And there will be no more packing, no more U-Hauls, no more moving. Isn't it great to know that this world is not our home...we are just passing through!