Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Many Mansions

Today is a happy day.  This morning, we met with our new home builder to have the "groundbreaking" meeting, which officially starts the build of our new home.  What a relief it is to know that we won't be living in an apartment indefinitely.

But today is also tinged with sadness for me, as we just received news that our former home, which we loved so much, has also sold.  Of course, this is good news financially, and a blessing to have it sell so quickly (and over Christmas!), but it's just making me a little teary this afternoon.

Have I ever told you the story about our old house?  It's a good one, and one that is full of proof that God knows who we are and knows the end from the beginning.

When we first moved to Lewisburg Pennsylvania, about 10 years ago, we bought our first home.  And it was wonderful.  But originally, I didn't want to look at it because it didn't have any trees or any landscaping on the property.  Over the five and a half years that we lived there, my husband and I worked tirelessly to landscape and put in trees.  We like to do things ourselves, so we bought the largest trees we could find and stayed up way past dark digging holes and putting them in the ground.  I spent many hours with my three little children running around, through, and to and from greehouses in our area, bringing home all sorts of plants to try and make our yard more private, lush, beautiful, and fun.

Soon, we were pretty happy and proud of (at least the back yard). Although, not every plant took, because of the poor soil, it was becoming quite lovely.

I remember destinctly one day, I went to a playgroup at a local Mom's house. I parked in her cul-de-sac, which was tucked away in a wooded neighborhood that I didn't even know existed.  I remember stepping out of the car and noticing the house next to hers.  It was only partially exposed, because the vegetation around it was so thick, lush, and green.  It was the strangest feeling, as if someone had taken my face with their hands and turned it toward this mysteriously hidden gem-of-a-house.  I stopped completely in my tracks, and thought, "Someday, we'll live in a house like that."  Then, of course, I immediately stopped myself.  "No, you won't.  Why are you even thinking like that??"  We weren't in the market for a home.  This house wasn't for sale. And there were no other properties that I knew of like this one in our town.

I forgot about that moment completely and a few years passed before I ever thought of it again.

Then about four years ago, right after the birth of my 4th child, I found that my husband had been looking for houses online sort of on the down-low. One day, soon after giving birth, he said to me, "I've found the perfect house for us, do you want to see it?"

I looked at him with disbelief.  Why would he be looking at houses? We loved our neighborhood, dearly loved our friends on our street, we'd made memories here, I had just had a baby and was in no condition to pack up and move, and it was almost Christmas for crying out loud.

But I looked...just to humor him.

He turned his laptop toward me, and in about .5 seconds I saw what I had seen that day in the cul-de-sac outside of my friend's house.  

I said, "I know exactly what house that is. I've seen it...It's amazing."

And so the story goes.  I cried when I left my first home, but I was able to move on to the next place that God had waiting for me, because I had had that spiritual impression years earlier.

When we moved in to what my Dad calls "the sacred grove house" it was nearly spring.  What I was able to see when the trees and bushes bloomed was that trees which I had painstakingly planted at our old house were already in my yard (only there were nine of them, instead of one), the soil was rich and every type of beautiful, flowering, evergreen plant you would want was growing there.

There were like 5-10 different things about that house that were absolutely fulfilling things that were on my wishlist...things that only God could have known would make me personally happy.  And the thing was that those "things" were put there 20-30 years before we ever lived there.

I came to respect the fact that God really does know the end from the beginning, and admire the fact that He loves us so much that He orchestrates so many small details in this world to create a place for us to grow to love Him in...whether He is giving us our dreams or asking us to wait for them...or even only letting us experience them for time...He has it all in His scope.

I also came to understand that we are all just stewards of this life and the things in it.  We landscaped our home for another family to enjoy.  Other people came before me and created something beautiful that our family was able to enjoy.

Now we have passed that beautiful property and all of its blessings on to another family to appreciate (and I hope that they do!)  Either way, our turn is up and we've traded the beauty of the woods for what is, for the moment, a three bedroom apartment and a pile of rocks...that will soon be the foundation of another new home in which we will learn and grow together.

It isn't easy to leave the old and familiar behind for the unknown, but having a past to look to gives me more capacity to hope for an eternal future.  I never thought the Lord could create something so particilar to me, something that I would love so much. It was a masterpiece that took years of foresight to make...and yet, because He proved to me He was capable, I leave open the door to trust that He can do it again....and I can open my imagination--just a little bit--to believe that just like he prepared our last house for us, He prepares Mansions in eternity for us to inhabit some day.

Continue reading... »

Monday, January 16, 2017

So Many Ways to See

Yesterday, as I watched my husband hold out our baby so that a blind woman sitting near us in church could feel his baby tie and then his chubby hand and finally his soft face and silky, fine hair, I was reminded that magic really does exist. 

With each gentle touch she smiled brighter and exclaimed, "You're just so beautiful." 

This whole interaction began when the woman in front of her turned around to help her take the sacrament (which was also so sweet, kinds, and magical) and mentioned to her, "You can't see this but there is a baby next to you wearing a sweet little tie..." 

So much was magical in this moment but the happiness she found in experiencing something she could not see with her eyes is what I'll always remember.

Have a great week, guys!  And take time to slow down and "see" the blessings that are right in front of you!

Continue reading... »

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Work and work and wait and see...

Well, we made it to Pittsburgh.  We moved two days before Christmas.  I picked the kids up right after their last day of school.  They bawled.  It was the saddest sound I've ever heard.  It was the sound of their first broken heart.  

Other details about our move.  My baby threw up in the packed car, but, thankfully, didn't make too much of a mess.  We headed back to say good-bye to our house and clean up the baby.  While there, my 4-year-old started throwing up all over the kitchen.  She threw up all the way to Pittsburgh. I stopped 5 times in four hours to empty the barf bowl and clean it out with snow from the side of the road.  But even that wasn't that bad.

There have been many tender mercies, but still it's been really hard. We're living in an apartment until our house is built.  But we've all been sick over Christmas and New Year's, especially my baby who threw up for a week straight, had a cold, and now is battling a fever. And the kids, who are all sharing a room, never want to go to bed nicely.  Not at all.

I know that the Lord is watching out for us though, as he sent many friends to help me move (My husband was already in Pittsburgh. He came a month earlier.).  He has sent other people to befriend us.  In fact, the first night here, I met a woman in Target at like 10:30pm.  I asked her to be my friend because, well, we kept getting in each other's way, and I was feeling like I just needed a friend, and she agreed. (It turned out her son is my son's age and in his "teaching team" at school.)

One night soon after, I found myself making a late-night Walmart run.  I suddenly realized I didn't know a soul (and at Walmart back home, I usually know many of the people working and shopping!)  I felt really lonely, so I said something about it on facebook.  Wouldn't you know, the friend I met in Target invited me out for pie at like midnight.  She dropped everything for me, a stranger, and came out in the cold at midnight to cheer me up.  Super cool, good woman.

I had to stay home from church today to tend my sick baby.  As he slept, something caught my eye.  There were three deer running past our apartment window...something that happened frequently at my old house.  It might not mean much to someone else, but to me it meant something.  

I know the Lord is watching over me.  I know He sees me struggle and feel sad and miss old friends and old ways and the comfort of a home and my things around me.  But I know He knows what's best for me and for my family, and so I keep going.  One day at a time until I learn the lessons He wants me to learn and arrive at the places He wants to lead me through.

It's a little scary.  It's a lot lonely.  It's very draining.  But I trust in Him.

And for now, we work and work and wait and see...what the Lord has waiting for me.
Continue reading... »