It has taken me quite a while to write again on the blog. Partly because I am an admittedly lazy blogger, but also because we have been dealing with an unending wave of problems and I didn’t quite know how, or even if, I should write about them. We know that we would not be here in Chattanooga if it were not for Yahweh moving mountains to make it happen, and I didn’t want to sound like a whining Israelite and complain about our current circumstances. We know that everything we have experienced is just a bump in the road on the way to bigger and better things. Yahweh is faithful to complete the work he has begun with us, so we didn’t want to focus on the problems and get bogged down with our current circumstances.
After much thought, I feel that it is important to document the entire process. Not as a means of complaining about it, but because so many times (usually when I’m in the midst of a trial) I forget how Yahweh was faithful to bring us through previous trials, and it’s encouraging to look back and see how He provided for us.
Allow me to start from the beginning… We had been paying rent on our apartment in Chattanooga for two weeks and were about two more weeks from our “official” move-in date. We decided it would probably be easiest to split our move up into two separate trips (at that point we didn’t know a single person in Chattanooga and thought it would make the move more manageable, considering it would be just Shawn and I unloading all of our belongings).
When we arrived at our new apartment, they looked confused and claimed they could not find our keys. This made us a little suspicious, but they did find the keys and turned them over to us. Before we left their office, they asked us, “You aren’t moving your stuff in, are you?” All of this sent our “Spidey senses” off. We had been paying rent since the beginning of the month and couldn’t figure out why it was such an issue that we were moving in “early”. Once we entered our apartment it was abundantly clear why they hesitated. They had not done a single thing to prepare the apartment for us and were thinking they could bleed us of rent money for three weeks and we would never know. The apartment was filthy.
We threatened to leave and find another apartment to rent. It took a good hour of negotiations with the apartment manager to work out an agreement for us to stay. Of course, we were still left with the responsibility to clean up the apartment and make it livable. So off we went to Target for cleaning supplies and a few other necessities. It was late at this point, around 8pm, and everyone was getting tired and hungry (We decided to bring our son’s friend along for the trip so he would have some company, and we could focus on getting the apartment ready, I’m so glad we did). So we go to check out at Target, and my husband slides his bank card, only to hear the cashier say “I’m sorry, but I can’t take that payment. Do you have another card?” No problem, I had my bank card so I slide it through the reader. Again, the cashier says “I’m sorry, but that card was declined.” Here we were, with carts piled full of stuff and no way to pay for it! We knew there was plenty of money in our account so my husband quickly got on the phone with our Credit Union to sort the problem out and we asked the cashier to suspend our transaction. I prayed. “Lord, I can live without cleaning supplies, but these children are hungry and I have nothing to feed them.” It took about 30 minutes on the phone to sort out the problem (we were trying to use our bank card in a different state than the address they had on file and they flagged our purchase as possible fraud), and the staff at Target was amazing and patient, but we were finally able to purchase everything we needed and head back to the apartment.
After feeding the boys, I set straight to work, cleaning the house. It took 3 hours. I was bone tired when I was finished, but at least I could take a shower. In a nice, clean tub.
The next day, we woke up feeling a renewed sense of purpose and set to work on making our apartment our “home.” We knew that we wanted to repaint, and make the house much brighter. We were used to living in homes with high ceilings, and the apartment was painted a dark, dingy yellow that made the ceilings feel even lower than they were (only 7 ft. in some places); So we decided to paint all the walls, in every room, the same white as the ceilings to open it up (crazy, I know, but it worked). After painting for 12 hours straight, it was time to clean up (our least favorite part). Shawn took all the brushes to the kitchen to clean them while I folded up all the drop clothes and put outlet covers back on, when I suddenly heard him yelling. I ran to the kitchen, only to see water bursting from the kitchen sink pipes and spraying everywhere! All I could do was laugh. The kind of crazy, hysterical laughter that happens when all you want to do is cry.
Shawn was finally able to fix the pipes (whoever had replaced the pipes had installed one of the gaskets backwards) and we carried on with cleaning up our paint mess. When we went to bed that evening we began to recap all the events that had happened and could not stop laughing. We felt pretty confident that the worst was behind us and we were looking forward to finishing up our painting the next day so we could take the kids out to see some sights in Chattanooga.
The following afternoon, while Shawn was cleaning up our paint supplies, I ran to the Hardees around the corner to grab some lunch for the kids. I pulled into the drive through, made our order, went to pay, and the nice woman at the window informed me that my card had been declined….again. I knew that the bank had just flagged the purchase again, so I parked the car, went inside, and proceeded to call the credit union. The woman on the other end started accusing me of making fraudulent purchases and eventually hung up on me. There I was. Standing in the Hardees with two kids asking me for food, and no way to pay! The manager had overheard my entire conversation and offered to let me take my order and come back with the cash later, once everything had been resolved. Gobsmacked! What a blessing. So I grabbed the bag of food and rushed back to the apartment to tell Shawn about my little misadventure.
When I arrived at the apartment Shawn was already on the phone with the credit union (they called him to tell him I was trying to make a purchase and they stopped it). It turns out, that (at least with this particular credit union) we could not use our bank cards for purchases in another state, only in our state of residence. So, in order to continue to use our card we would have to call the credit union every day and inform them that we were “on vacation” and get permission to swipe our card. They removed the “flag” and allowed us to use our cards for the next 24 hours. I promptly ran to the nearest ATM with both cards and pulled out the maximum allowed on each card in cash. From then on, we would pay for everything in cash. After stopping at the Hardees to pay for our meal, I went back to the apartment. When I walked in, Shawn told me to follow him to the kitchen where he showed me this…
and it wasn’t just the kitchen sink that was backing up. Every sink, shower, and bath in the entire place was backing up. We ran to the front office and showed them our pictures, they called the emergency maintenance staff to let them know (it was a weekend) and told us that someone would be there in 30 minutes. Turns out that the problem was bigger than the maintenance crew could fix and would require a call into a professional plumber. So, for the rest of the afternoon and evening we would have to use the outside water spigot and go without showers. The kids didn’t seem to mind, and by Sunday we packed it up and got on the road again to South Carolina. Because of our many mis-adventures, we weren’t able to give the kids a day to play in Chattanooga, but we were at least able to eat out at Cheeburger Cheeburger and stop at the local bakery and cafe.
You might be asking, “Um, Tiffany. What’s the blessing here?” Well, we were able to discover all these problems before we had officially moved in. So that gave the management two weeks to fix everything. In the meantime, we were able to live in our nice, functioning apartment without crazy bursting pipes, or backed up showers and when we came back with our big moving truck everything was almost normal at the Chattanooga apartment…almost. More on that later…