Thursday, May 28, 2009

Crow's Feet

People go bald. They turn gray, gain weight, get sick, get skinny, get married, have babies, grow up.

I was looking through some pictures tonight on Facebook (I am totally a Nosey Nancy), and I was struck by what aging does to us. This is not the first time I have felt this way while looking at friends' pictures on Facebook. I am quite sure that lots of other folks have felt the same way looking at my pictures.

Our bodies change, our lives change. In most cases, does who we are change? I don't think so. (See: why I have not married the dudes I have not married.) I think things about us change. I think that's inevitable as we grow, we hurt, we risk, we lose, we win, we love...but I think that at the core, we typically remain the same. I'm struggling to find an analogy to more accurately illustrate what I'm getting at here, and I'm coming up empty-handed. I'm not sure there is one. Hm. Maybe chemistry. Chemical changes vs. physical changes. A physical change is an alteration to a substance's external properties, while a chemical change forms a completely new substance. I think who we are - that's our chemical makeup. What we look like, where we live, where we work, that's our physical makeup. Maybe what I'm suggesting is that physical changes can occur in spades and never truly alter our chemical makeup. That's not always true, not for every person. For the sake of this blog, let's pretend that it is.

A woman that I am privileged to know told me recently that she has learned the secret of surviving criticism and opposition. She told me that she knows that nothing anyone says will ever change who she is. She said it with such conviction that, even though I have heard some form of that sentiment over and over again, I really stopped to think about it. And I've been thinking about it ever since then. It makes me feel free. Giddy, almost. I want to be that convinced of who I am and my worth as a beloved child of God, that I can let all the other words just fly around overhead. My friend literally used that metaphor. She said, "Those words, they're just flying around, just words up in the air, that's all." I'm telling you, this woman, she is a book waiting to happen.

I don't really have much beyond that. Just the thought that I can be okay with who I am. You can be okay with who you are. No matter where I live, or where you live, or where either of us works or whom either of us has or hasn't married. No one can threaten who I really am, or who you really are. I'm okay, you're okay. We're all okay.

Friday, May 22, 2009

What are you waiting for??

Three weeks ago, I was confronted with the reality that our previously scheduled move-out date of December 31 of this year was being moved up to June 30. In a very roundabout but very gracious way, the Lord had prepared me for this bit of news and had vanquished fear from my heart over hearing what I somehow knew I was going to hear. Just the same, I needed to cry, and I thought Amy's house would be a good place to do that. So I drove out there. We had a nice visit - I always feel so safe at Amy's house. After some talking and sighing and trying to get Olivia to be okay with petting Layla, the babe and I headed back home. As we were driving away, I began to pray for our situation. With no small amount of boldness, I asked for a house of our own. And by "own", I mean, a mortgage instead of a rent check. The thought of moving into an apartment after living in this huge wonderful house just made me sad, mostly for Olivia.

I prayed that God would perform the impossible and allow me to buy a house, a place where Olivia could have a yard to play in, where it could be just me and her, where we could put down some roots and really dig in. I asked for a home where we could really and truly settle in. I thought of the verse in Hebrews that says: "anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." So I grabbed hold of those two truths and declared them outright. And then I cried some more.

I struggled over the next couple of days with the thought that maybe the best thing for us would be to move into an apartment. It was a very difficult thought, but I prayed earnestly for the willingness to obey if that was the case. I love the "willing to be made willing" clause.

I had found a few ADFA programs online that offer first-time homebuyers a chance to get into a house without an enormous down payment, and I had pursued that route to what I thought was no avail. Several folks I had spoken with in lending had complained about these programs and basically refused to work with them.

Then my precious baby fell and broke her arm and had to have surgery. So I was a little preoccupied, and the stress of that situation had me thinking - you know, an apartment would be an easy place to get into, move into and be in. Maybe I should just do hassle of trying to get a mortgage, trying to find a house, etc. I'll just do that.

Through a curious turn of events, a friend of mine ended up giving me the number of a loan officer who works with the ADFA programs often, and she thought she might be of help to me. I had really reconciled myself to getting a rental, but I thought I would make this one last phone call and then be done with my dream of buying a house.

It's two weeks later, and I am scheduled to close on my new house June 26.

My friend Samuel has probably been one of my biggest cheerleaders through this process. He has expressed unwavering faith that I would be able to do this, even before I knew it was the remotest possibility. So when I sent him a text telling him my offer had been accepted, he told me to give God praise for what He has done. And my first thought was, "But we haven't closed yet. I don't have the keys. My stuff is not in that house and I have not filled out a change of address form."

Yes, the facts of buying a home state that the home is not yours until you take possession, and you do not take possession until after closing. But the facts of my situation state that I prayed for a house and I am getting one. So I will praise Him because He is answering me. I definitely don't deserve this amazing brand new house with a wraparound porch, and it is above and beyond what I was even asking for to begin with! I wish I had the boldness in praising Him that I found in asking for the house. Something in me tends to think that I should just lay low and be real quiet - maybe if I don't rock the boat, everything will go through at closing, and then I can give my thanks. But where is the faith in that response? It is covered up by fear, and to that fear I say, you have got to go. The Lord has heard my prayer, and He has answered me.

Some years ago, I was returning to the Lord after a long period of rebellion, and He used Psalm 107 to illustrate His goodness and love. At the beginning of this whole process, I went to Psalm 107, really just for comfort, you know, for a familiar spot in the Word to help shore up my faith a little bit. This is what the first part of the Psalm says:

1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say this—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
3 those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.
4 Some wandered in desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle.
5 They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away.
6 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
7 He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.

8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for men.

He is so good to us.

Pictures of my new home will be posted soon. :)

Friday, May 15, 2009

All the Federales say...

Because I promised it, and because there was at least one person long suffering enough to read my previous post about how Lefty came to be mine, I thought I should tell you the story of Poncho and Lefty.

My first full day in the Highlander, I thought, you know, I need to name this thing. Then, three - count them, three - separate times by the end of that day, I had heard "Poncho and Lefty" on the radio. So random. Or was it?

See, Rachel had just bought a Honda CR-V. So I had a brilliant thought. That we would name our trucks Poncho and Lefty and thus form our very own car clique. Holly and Sharla have a car clique, too, but the story of their car clique involves grand theft auto and truancy.

Then we had to decide who would be Poncho and who would be Lefty. We decided mine would be Lefty, since Olivia favors her left hand (and my alignment favors the left), and Rachel picked Poncho, since it is obviously a much cooler name than Lefty.

So here they are, folks. Poncho and Lefty. Lefty is clearly the one on the left, and there's Poncho, hanging out beside her.

The desert's quiet and Cleveland's cold,
And so the story ends we're told
Poncho needs your prayers it's true, but save a few for Lefty too
He only did what he had to do, and now he's growing old

All the Federales say they could have had him any day
They only let him slip away out of kindness, I suppose.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Livi Lou

My darling, my daughter. We have had a trying couple of weeks. But she is on the mend. And I am on the mend. And right now, that is good enough for me.