All of the Change

I could say that we are busy–but if you know me at all, I never like to admit that Andrea and I are busy.  I could be wrong here–and I’m not trying to be dogmatic–but I have noticed that people who are truly busy never go around saying how busy they are.  I never hear my pastor saying, “Oh, I’m just so busy!  I don’t have time to do anything!”  And I know that he is one of the busier people that I know.  So, it’s hard for me to confess business…

A baby is on the way, due on February 6th, and we are overjoyed and blessed to have this responsibility to raise a child for God.  Summer at church has been full of our camp, Vacation Bible School, and a blossoming bus ministry, all of which we love serving in.  Along with the baby, which will change our way of life completely, we have been in the midst of another huge change.

It all started in 2008, when the bottom started to fall out from under the housing market, which caused housing prices to drop dramatically.  Two years ago, soon after we were married, we moved into a beautiful apartment right on the main drag in Red Lion, PA.  We could never complain about how nice it has been for us.  We created a multitude of memories here, and it has always been more than we thought we deserved.

Earlier this year, I started to get curious about actually purchasing a home.  We then started to save at or above half of what we make for whatever God might have us do with it–whether it be a home, or vehicle, or something else.  I talked to my parents and many others about what our options might be with buying a home and what we could responsibly afford.  Starting in May, I began to gather every last bit of personal financial information I could find to begin the pre-approval process.  We waited several weeks; then sat on it, took a deep breath, and observed what we could and could not do.  In early June, I was convinced that we would wait for another year or so.

Camp was coming in a little over a week.  The mortgage company that we were dealing with called and said that we were “pre-approved” for a certain amount, and the interest rate was actually much better than I expected.  I began to look intently at neighborhoods that would like, and then specifically at houses–and without a real estate agent: we did not feel quite ready for an agent yet.  In late June, just before camp, my parents came to bring Adam and Catie (my brother and sister) to camp.  Just after church and bus Sunday afternoon, they said, “Hey, let’s go look at houses.”  So we piled into the car and left.  I had neighborhoods that I liked, but nothing particular in mind.

We came to a brand new neighborhood about a mile and a half from where we live now.  There was a model home open as well.  We went into the beautiful home, of course knowing we could never afford it.  The neighborhood manager that worked for the builder told us the price range for it, which was less than I expected, but still well out of my range.  Then, he told us of a house just across the road that had been custom built by someone, but in the end, that person ended up not purchasing the house.  It was close to perfect from the moment we stepped in.  My parents even said that the styling of it is very “Dustin and Andrea.”  The manager told me the price, which was still out of my range, but fairly close to what we could afford.  He then said the magic words, “We really want to sell this house.  I’m willing to take any reasonable offer, especially if you can close within a month or two.”  Hey, that was us!  Our lease expires on our apartment, we have no property to sell or other contingencies.  If we can get the price within our range, we could definitely do this.

Well, camp started the next day–all day and night every day for the next week.  That was a perfect time for me to take a step back, think, pray, and get advice if this was the right path and right timing for us.  I was sure that it was.  I called the builder on Wednesday of camp, and told him that I wanted to meet with him and make an offer right after we get back–two hours after we got back home, in fact.

So I wrote up the proposal (I wanted them to build a deck and get us a refrigerator as well, on top of our price).  I wasn’t really low-balling either–reasonable is the word.  We met with the builders, handed them our proposal, and then I expected to wait over the weekend before they countered.  Nope.  She called her manager right there, and five minutes later, they had a counter proposal, and still with the 10 foot by 10 foot deck and refrigerator!  And only $5,000 more than we had offered!  I came back $2,500 less right there.  She called her manager again, and a couple minutes later, they were $2,000 above my proposal, and still with the added things.  Then we left.  Just for 15 minutes though!  We wanted to take one more look at the house.  We still loved it.

We came back, I gave her a nice little speech about compromise, and we ended up settling right in the middle, still with the two things that I wanted as well.  It was all done in an hour: offer, counter-offer, counter-offer, counter-offer, sign papers, make a deposit, done.  We had a tentative closing date of August 10th!

Now, over the last month, we have jumped through all of the financing hoops, and now, as of last Wednesday, our loan is approved with contingencies. (They still want to see that we have the cash for closing, as well as one clarification on tithing, of all things!  They thought it was undeclared debt at first –well it kind of is!)  So, as of now, the only thing left is to pack, close, and move.  I have a few pictures below.  We will have more as we start to make this house our home in less than two weeks!

The front of the house.
The kitchen, and part of the dining area.
View from the back, looking out into the PA countryside
Looking out the back from the living room area.



Writing from Northwest Indiana:

I have to admit, change can be a hard thing to get used to at times.  It’s hard to believe sometimes that we have not been in this part of the country, the part I grew up in, since last June…just a few days short of ten months.  Our lives have genuinely changed since we have last been at Fairhaven.  Looking back, I can recollect exactly when we first started noticing all of the change…

For my entire senior year of college, I still felt like I was in college.  Yes, I knew soon after graduating I would be married, and moving almost 700 miles away to the foreign state of Pennsylvania; but I never realized how much would be different–and at that, a GOOD different.  Even up until the point I was waiting at the altar for the door to open so I could catch a glimpse of my beautiful bride, everything still felt the same.  Nothing was changing yet.  Just another event in the life of Dustin Speckhals.  We said our vows, walked out of the auditorium, shook hands, cut the cake, took a few pictures…still the same.  The change hit me, though, at an interesting time.

After our pictures were done at the wedding, we walked back to the dining room where the reception was, and I told Andrea that I was going to carry her through the crowd (yes, I admit it was a show!).  So I picked her up, carried her through the cheering and jubilant wedding crowd, and into the limo that was going to take us to Chicago.  We got into the vehicle, the driver shut the door, and the change came.  The driver pulled away, and off we went.  It was finally here!  Life was completely different after that.  All of the family I loved, some of the best friends a man could ask for, the best college teachers and mentors–they all faded into the distance.  Soon the steeple of Fairhaven faded away too, and our new life began.

Even after we came back from our honeymoon to pack our stuff up for the move in a few days, so much seemed different.  It was just like God was moving us right along to our new life together!  It never seemed quite like home during those packing day.  At least for me, it was easy to move.

Now, ten months later, we return for a visit, and ironically, not much has changed!  Sure my parents live here now, there a few new people, new family, and a new status (we have a “real life” now–no more college!), but so much hasn’t changed!  It seems like home again…not our home, but a place where we love to be, and believe it or not, were people love to see us!  The best part of all is that some of the things that are different from when we were here are great changes!  After all of that,  though…here are some things I have noticed that are different or the same:


  • College students still sit in the same places in the auditorium
  • All of the verses of the songs are still sung…maybe a little bit slower tempo than our church too.
  • Same ol’ dating couples–minus a few of us who got married
  • Tom Almanza is still himself
  • Lindsey still wonders why there is no band or PE during candy sale
  • NW Indiana still looks as dilapidated as before


  • A great new mother-in-law
  • Two new houses for us to visit (Leslie and Murdock side)
  • I can hold my sweetheart’s hand walking down the path
  • A few folks that were struggling spiritually when we left are making HUGE steps for God!
  • The kids are getting taller, including by little brother and sister

It is great to be back to all of the memories and people, and we look forward to the rest of our short stay here.