I had no idea when we kicked off our small-town summer shortly before Memorial Day, this month’s Encouragement of the Month post would be all about the messy middle.
But here are.
Right in the thick of it.
The day before we left, I got 8 inches of thick curly hair cut off.
I finally let myself get a new phone after needing one for years.
Despite additional pandemic pounds, we packed fresh summer outfits, planned our “must-have meals” and got a solid game plan together for how to revitalize all things “goat.”
We were pulling out of the driveway when I said, “We forgot to take a selfie!” and right then and there we stopped the car, determined to commemorate the moment.
I was beyond thrilled to getaway.
This was our chance to rest, rejuvenate and restore what had been lost over the past year and a half.
By the time we reached our first small-town destination, we were full of hope and promise, excited for the adventure to begin.
The house we had rented was built in 1910 and on the outside, it could not have been more charming or picturesque.
Everything seemed fine, but we could not get our rescue dog, Piper, to settle down.
Like at all.
She was wild and extremely uncomfortable.
On more than one occasion she seemed to be reverting to the behaviors she first exhibited the day we brought her home nearly four months ago.
I mean she really, really struggled.
At first, we thought she was having trouble adjusting to a new place.
Now we realize she was seeing and hearing things we weren’t. I still can’t talk about the experience because it keeps me up at night.
All I can say is it’s amazing how easily the meaning of “clean” can be misconstrued and grossly misrepresented online.
Determined not to let it spoil our small-town summer kickoff, we drove home early, quickly changed clothes, and headed out to lunch.
And this is where the messy middle starts to get crazy (as if having to cut our trip way shorter than we had planned wasn’t enough).
We were leaving the parking lot when we realized we had a flat tire.
Not thinking it was a big deal, we found a quick spot to pull over to change it.
Trouble was, unbeknownst to us, the tire that needed to be changed had been cross threaded by the service department a week earlier and there was no way we were strong enough to take the lugs off to change it ourselves.
Not only that, the kindhearted sailor helping us was not strong enough either, which is saying a lot because his arms were huge.
So, our choice was to have the car towed or to inch our way on the flat tire to the nearest tire service station which just happened to be a few hundred yards away.
Thankfully, the sailor followed us to safety, the service manager of the tire store got us fixed up and sent us on our way.
It was definitely a Memorial Day this Army brat and fellow Navy brat will never forget though.
And as I fell asleep that night, I was deeply grateful for the people placed on our path at just the right time.
I wish I could stop this messy middle story right here.
I would wrap it up in a bow and we could sail off into the sunset thankful sometimes things actually *do* turn out roses and rainbows even after a rocky start.
But the truth is, the disappointing Airbnb cottage rental, spur-of-the-moment vacation change, and flat tire was only the beginning.
We’d go on to experience…
- The air conditioner in our home go out.
- Ants in the pantry thanks to a leak in the seal around the window that had developed after multiple days of heavy winds and rain.
- A slow oil leak in one of our cars.
- Deliveries for the One Room Challenge completely different than what we had ordered.
- Several packages we were depending on arriving early got delayed by weeks.
- It took 4 tries to get the perfect shade of blushy pink paint. Turns out, the sample pot I originally fell in love with had mistakenly been taken from the “oops” pile and was a shade made by a former employee.
- Our rescue dog, Piper, slipped out the back door, broke her harness, and ran through the woods quicker than we could catch her. It took what felt like FOREVER to find her and once we did, she was hung up on brambles. We ultimately had to cut a path to get to her.
- The power to my office at The Crowned Goat Cottage went out.
- We had to delay finishing the guest bathroom makeover.
- There were 16-hour workdays at other jobs, more days than we can count.
- I threw my back out and stress ate WAY too much candy.
- We’ve called our blog hosting company so many times, we’ve been assigned a quality control contact. Moving just one section of the database took over 16 hours and contained more than 25K files. There were 14 sections to move and that doesn’t even count building the new one.
- A corrupt file took the entire website down just 2 hours before the One Room Challenge Guest Bedroom Reveal post was set to go live. It took us almost 8 hours to get it back up.
- My aunt, one of my favorite people on the planet, found out she had an aggressive form of breast cancer.
- A week later my Mom’s sister, brother, and my Dad also got less than favorable doctor reports.
- The refund we were promised from our small-town summer kickoff cottage has yet to appear in our mailbox.
The messy middle indeed.
Even as I look at this list, it’s hard to believe ALL these things happened in the month of June.
The month I *promised* myself I would slow down and finally address our burnout issues and need for sacred rest.
I mean, you can’t make this stuff up.
But I also know, at some point, you just have to surrender because the real estate in our hearts and minds is just too valuable to hold on to all the disappointments.
My natural tendency as a list maker is to immediately start ticking off points when something crazy happens where 1 thing can easily snowball into 10 things in a matter of days.
This month though, I tried something new.
Whenever I felt the need to rehash the setbacks or conjure up the “crazy list,” I instantly started adding the good things that came from the disruptions.
Here’s a look at our messy middle with a silver-lined faith-filled frame…
- My Dad was able to help us troubleshoot our a/c issue and specifically advise the service tech of our problem. After 2 service calls the tech found the cause, apologized for not finding the issue sooner, and only charged us for 1 service call instead of 2. He also bought us an extra year on our current a/c unit saving us around 4K.
- We were able to fix the window seal right away, get rid of the ants, and only lost a few food items in the process.
- Electric cars are totally cool.
- The messed-up deliveries allowed us to work together as a team and come up with ideas that were far better than our original plans.
- We were able to problem solve new solutions almost immediately when only 2 of 10 packages arrived on time.
- Terry’s Perseverance, named after the Lowes employee who refused to give up on creating the perfect shade of blushy pink paint, is now set to become the official color of The Crowned Goat.
- Piper has a new (even sturdier) bright pink harness with a handle so we can see her immediately if she ever gets out again.
- Fingers crossed power to The Crowned Goat Cottage will be restored next week.
- The guest bathroom continues to make solid progress despite the postponement.
- It’s a blessing to have a job and steady income, even though 16 hour workdays are rough.
- I listened to my body and rested my back far earlier than I usually do. Also, stress eating can be addressed.
- I’m thankful to have the skills and expertise of others. Especially, S who has been working nonstop to make sure the new site is not only pretty but also built for solid growth.
- While the website going down just 2 hours before the One Room Challenge Reveal post was set to go live was incredibly frustrating it was also a much-needed reminder timing is everything
- My aunt has an amazing team of doctors, friends, and family who love her and are willing to step up and support her every need. Even having one of those things is a HUGE blessing.
- Early detection can save lives and we’re believing big for my Dad, aunt, and uncle’s long-term prognosis.
- We have met some amazingly kind people in every small town we’ve visited so far in the most unexpected ways. And it goes without saying, there’s no place like home, refund or not.
I’ll be honest, it took me a while to process all the frustrations, address the feelings of disappointment, manage the emotions, and grieve the heartaches on this list.
There is absolutely a reason toxic positivity is called “the dark side of optimism.”
But what I learned most this month is that life is full of constant interruptions, breakdowns, breakthroughs, scary situations, divine interruptions, and missed opportunities.
And while I don’t always understand it, I trust these faith-filled pivots are serving a purpose.
Even in the messy middle.
PS: Just to be clear, NONE of the photos shared above are of our cottage rental. They’re homes we loved and admired while walking around some of the small towns we visited.
Other Encouragement of the Month Posts to Enjoy: