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  • Writer's pictureKara Larson

Planting Roots or Burning Rubber?

Our moves in life have never been conventional! Some might call us modern day hippies, but we would say not in the truest sense. In our first ten years of marriage, we lived in 10 different homes and 3 states (plus traveling the East Coast)! Our 3 sons were born in each of those states!

One of our unconventional homes was this Class C, RV. At that time, we sold our townhome in Fort Mill, S.C., took all of our profit to buy this beauty, and lived in it full-time with our 6, 4, and 18 month old boys and our mutt dog, Abby. We became homeschooling RV full-timers before it was a thing! I think most families who give full-timing a try somehow still have a permanent address to retreat to, and a job that is mobile. We did it to fulfill my husband's dream to be a musician full-time. We traveled from show to show along the East Coast, which made an adventurous homeschool year! But when our 6 year old son played us a song he had written on his toy guitar and the lyrics were all about feeling locked up and wanting to get out of this place, we thought maybe we should plant some roots somewhere!

We ended up landing back in my hometown of Peoria, IL. At first we rented a little 3 bedroom house in Peoria Heights, and two years later bought a slightly bigger little 3 bedroom house two doors down. It had one bathroom and one big loft-like bedroom in the upstairs area. After the first two years, the itch for moving again hit us strong! Over the next 8 years, this feeling to make a change would come and go in waves! For the parents that is... not the kids! The kids were always content and happy in our tiny home with just one bathroom and no dishwasher!

Matt and I would religiously start looking to see where the wind would blow us next, but the high real estate taxes in IL meant bigger was not in our future. We reflected on this desire we felt to move, and we realized that both of us moved often in our childhoods. It developed this inner pull to seek a new horizon somewhere, but our need for change only unnerved our children. They loved the security of the familiar, and over time, we did too. So to satisfy our itch, we just changed the way we lived in that house. Matt and I actually moved our bedroom to each room over the course of those 10 years. Our boys moved from sharing one room to going to two of the other rooms. Matt's office/recording studio moved from floor to floor. We added an office for me, gutted our bathroom, and painted vibrant colors in every room! Those colors changed too. I guess we will always crave change, but it has been redefined.

Even though that house felt small, it did not stop us from taking kids in. We made room! Even our boys gave up a room to let a person in need live with us. As our kids grew up and saw their friends having more than we did, I saw the value of not moving up. When my husband worked at Dream Center Peoria, serving the homeless in our community, our boys met and played with kids who lived in the center. They had the unique privilege of living in between the two worlds of having plenty and having little. Any big event or item that came our way was always celebrated and appreciated.

When we decided to adopt a girl, maybe two, my first thought was this house will not do! While we had taken in different students, they were all male. It was a little easier to bunk up and make do. And use the yard when the bathroom was preoccupied!!! (oh yes! it happened plenty of times!) But having a girl in the house would change that. So once again we did our search, and quickly discovered the same predicament we always had. A house that had more room and bathrooms in the price range we could afford was either run down and needing a lot of work or had super high taxes, or both! There was just one house we saw that fit all our criteria, but it would mean our house would have to sell at a high price for our neighborhood. Especially with the realtor fees added. We went ahead and made our offer, which was accepted, and then prepped our house for showing. We had a lot of views and interest, but the price was too high. As the work for our adoption process increased, the continuous showings became too much. So after renewing the contract once, we let it go the second time around and made our peace with yet again making our house work!

For the next 6 months, the paperwork and fundraising preoccupied our thoughts. When we finally finished and mailed in our dossier, my time and mind was finally free to begin the work of reimagining our space. Somehow we would make it work! As I was deep in redesigning our basement to make a room for our son, an unaddressed letter appeared in our mailbox. The letter was from the owners of that one home we could possibly see ourselves in and could afford. They wrote that they had a contract for deed that fell through, and thought of us. They knew we were adopting and needing space and had hoped their home would be a good fit for us. He asked if maybe we could make it work out now that we do not have realtors.

The letter came at a time that I had really let go of ever moving! If our space was not an issue, we would not desire to move at all! We had great neighbors we could trust and call on. We lived walking distance to trails and quaint shopping areas. And the thought of having to prep our house again for showing felt too daunting! So I politely declined. His response was not at all what I could have predicted! He texted, "We thought we might buy your house as part of the exchange"! What?! Of course we had to agree to meet for coffee! We were curious to hear what he was offering. I prepared myself for a low offer for our house and how I would respond. The anticipation was unnerving! When my husband and I sat with this man and his wife, it was not what I imagined at all! They were just really kind people who were looking for a win/win! His offer was that he wanted our house plus $40,000 in exchange for his house! It was up to us to set the price for our house and what our purchase of his house would be for our mortgage to be paid. So in the end, we got more than I thought our house would sell for and got their house for less than our original offer! He didn't even want to see our house! We had to insist he come so we could point out our current unfinished projects and what our plans had been. Two months later, we sat in the office of his lawyer friend who did both our closings at once. The amount of money we saved allowed us to put in some updates we originally thought would take us years to get around to. His plans for our little house was to sell or rent it out, but during our process, he learned of a newly widowed mother of two in need of a more affordable home, and decided to help her out. I'm really not sure he's making much money from it!

When I think about how many houses we looked at over the years and ended up doing nothing with, it blows my mind that the one house we voiced our interest in just so happened to be owned by one of the kindest and most generous couple we've met! They were so happy to hear that we are now adopting two girls from India to fill their once empty-nest home. Only God!

We now have 5 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms, and a kitchen to cook and hangout in! Sometimes God calls us to grow roots where we are planted, and sometimes he replants us so our roots can spread! We are learning to let the Spirit lead and not try to force our adventurous ways to happen. When we do that, true joy, peace and contentment are found! No matter how small or big our home may be.

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