I haven’t had any time to write! But follow some of these photos and you’ll be able to see the topsy turvy life that’s going on in our world.
These pictures all represent pieces of the last week. One thing that I didn’t photograph was me applying and interviewing for jobs. I think I told you my summer goals. They were: buy a house (check), sell my SUV and buy a more economical car (check), and get a full time job. I haven’t gotten the full time job yet, but there is a real momentum going and I’m energized by the hopeful possibilities. And while I continue to look, I’m scheduled to sub all next week. God is blessing us with productivity, and He knows how much I like that!
Life has not stopped, even though I need it to, in order to make sense of our new home. In spite of getting rid of so many things over the last five years, I still have more things than for which I have space. So, I stayed up until 2:30ish two nights ago. As I unwrapped boxes of kitchen ware that had been stored over the last year, I became giddy with excitement, as if it were Christmas. Items I’d forgotten we had:
A Waffle Maker
An Electric Tea Kettle
More bakeware than I probably need; and yes, a few items did go into the Goodwill box.
The next day I cooked on the stove for the first time. It is crazy how happy our new stove makes me. It is crazy how in love I am feeling with having our things again. I wouldn’t wish loss on anyone. Yet, I would wish that everyone would get to experience the joy of appreciation for things we so often take for granted. The last five years have been so hard. Had God given me a choice: “Joni, I have a deal for you. You can continue to live the life you’ve been living. Life will go on as you know it. You will remain in your beautiful comfortable home, but you will never know the joy of regaining something that has been lost.” I think my answer would have been: “God, I think I’ll stick with the predictable. I am comfortable, and I like comfortable. There’s no reason to seek something, a feeling or sensation, I don’t need. Especially when everything I need is here.”
But here’s the thing. God doesn’t ask. God is God. Like a favorite song, Blessed Be Your Name says: “You give and take away”. I didn’t understand it all at the time. I don’t pretend to know at what point our situation was God’s and at what point it was the consequences of my decisions. But what I do know is that as I unwrapped our belongings, and had the privilege of making a pot of rice on a beautiful gas stove, I felt like I was in love again. I’m not in love with the stove (well, somewhat). But rather, the feeling I have of appreciation, belonging, and arrival, after a long hard fight. Paul says in Philippians 4:12
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.“
I was talking with a friend today about God’s perfect timing. When we experience it, we cannot deny it. Again, had God asked: “Joni, do you want a house right now? If you choose now, you will not have to live without a garbage disposal. You’ll be able to unpack all your belongings. Your kids will be able to sleep in their own beds, and won’t have to sleep in used twin sized beds. You will likely find a house that has air conditioning. However, if you wait for my perfect timing, I promise you that I will give you what you need. It may not come in the form of things, but rather in spirit”. Matthew 11:28 says:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
I have been chasing a home for us since our family changed through divorce five years ago. There were many complications I won’t go into here (please feel free to message me and I am happy to share my experience. It will give you hope!). The complications created a huge learning curve for me, which caused constant stress, because I didn’t know what I was doing, nor did I want to do it. And, it prevented me from having the financial peace and security that I longed for. But now, the check mark after “buy a home” means peace. It means, putting that project behind me, and moving on in life, hopefully with a job I enjoy, and living a life free of confusion and anxiety about a home. It is time for me to feel the rest God can provide.
The big move with 2 UHauls and friends helping us occurred last weekend, on August 23rd. Bradley discovered that we had moved exactly one year ago to the day last year. I didn’t know how he remembered that, so I asked him. He said, “Mom, remember last summer when you took us to Crater Lake before we moved? When we were there you said, ‘We have to be out of our house by eight twenty three.’ I asked you, ‘Why do we have to be so specific? Why does it have to be 23 minutes after 8 o’clock?” He didn’t understand why I didn’t just say August 23rd. That vernacular didn’t make sense to him. I believe God created that little exchange between the two of us so that on this moving day, one year later, we would remember that it was He who provided to us the perfect timing so we would experience His perfect peace, which was possible because of our obedience in recognizing the closed doors as they occurred, and did not force them open. That translates to things like canceling a loan application, not buying a house simply because it was in my price range, and more red flags that weren’t always red, but sometimes a very faint pink.
When heartache comes, it’s hard and fast and devastating. It’s life changing. But if you can make it to the other side of the pain, the hope is worth all the scraping it takes to get there. We are in a mess of a house right now. I don’t know when the back yard will be mud free and when we’ll have a living room which I can enjoy. The sprinkler system isn’t working. As a full work week looms ahead, with two birthdays to celebrate, school and college starting, football and doctor appointments, I wonder where I’ll find time to tend to these things. But I’m completely in love with a God who granted us this home, this stove, and a spirit of gratitude that I could have only received by losing what I loved so much. I am truly learning to be content in all circumstances. That has cost me a lot, but I love the return.