9.26.2011

Provision Transition

Dear readers,

You may remember, back when it became clear that we were going to move, I was more than a little anxious about the fact that we would need to sell our house and find a place to live, like, pronto.

Today I would like to share with you how this actually came to pass. Because it really is worth sharing.

When we put our house on the market, we got a few calls right off the bat. The phone would ring, it would be the realtor saying someone wanted to come and look, and we would go into fire drill mode. “All right kids, hop to it! Toys picked up, dirty clothes in hampers, everything else shoved in closets! GO! NOW!”

As for my part, I would launch into a mad flurry of surface cleaning and spastic vacuuming, and we would all manage to exit the house, with minutes to spare prior to the appointment. We would come back to the house some time later, seeing a realtor’s signature on the paper on our kitchen table, business card tossed there, too. And then we would speculate about who might have just walked through our rooms…what they thought of our paint colors…and our carpet…and the scent of lavender surface cleaner still hanging in the air. Did they like it? Did they hate it? Were we relegated to their “maybe” list, one that was a mile long because there were sixty (sixty!) houses on the market in our area that were our direct competition?

The thought of strangers looking upon my house and all my things with a critical eye was disconcerting. But I hoped that someone would soon arrive to look upon it with an interested eye and open mind. One who needed exactly what our house could offer.

After each appointment and upon each return to the house, we would hope for the best. We would wait to hear the news we were hoping for…that we had a buyer. We wanted that news as soon as we put the sign in the yard, especially as it became clear to us that two house payments in our immediate future would not be good math for us. Not good at all. I’m not sure anybody could consider that good math. Eventually, the time came for us to begin packing for our move in earnest, without a single buyer in sight.

You may also remember, my friends, that we planned an ill-advised trip to the beach prior to the weekend of the move. So as we packed for the beach AND the move, we knew that departing for the beach trip would essentially be the last time we would walk out of that particular house as a family.

Our return from vacation would be to a new home, a new town, new everything.

So, here is the scene on Monday morning, August 1. I am packing bathing suits, inflatables, sunscreen, and Ollie the parakeet, while simultaneously doing the lavender/vacuum thing, in the hope/fear that potential buyers might be coming. My husband is preparing to haul the beach junk out to the minivan, and the kids are bouncing off the walls, naturally having been ready to go hours before. I am literally Windexing the glass on the back door when I hear a knock on the front door.

It’s a realtor I’ve never met who doesn’t have an appointment, but she has a client in the car, and may they please come in and look at the house?

Okay, sure, fine…but we’re about to leave on a trip (and also, incidentally, leave for good and forever)…so can you please come back in, say, 10 minutes, and we’ll be out of your hair? Forever?

Well, certainly…we’ll go look at another house for sale in your neighborhood and then come back.

(Oh, shoot! Wait! What if they like that house better?)

Can’t worry about it now. Just let them go and come back. Must move heaven and earth to get my family into the swagger wagon and on the road to the beach right now. Goodbye, house. Goodbye, town. God, everything else is in Your hands.

We knew He had called us to the new place. But that was all we knew.

Exactly four hours later, the swagger wagon is on final approach to Panama City Beach. My husband and I are having a serious conversation about the house. He’s saying to me, “One day, somebody is going to walk in and they’re going to like it. They’re going to want it. And they’re going to buy it. It only takes one person.”

Shortly thereafter, the cell phone rings. It’s our realtor, practically bubbling over with the news. “You have a contract on your house!” The client from the drop-in visit that morning had been hooked. She was the one.

Upon hearing those words, my husband and I proceed to break out into the happy dance, sitting in our respective seats, while trying to maintain normal phone voices during the conversation and maintain control of the car, all of this to the children’s amusement.

This week, we closed on the sale. And now that the dust has settled and everything is final, it occurred to me what was happening that day in August.

The very day we were leaving, the Lord brought a person across the threshold who was coming. Not a moment too soon, and not a moment too late. It certainly didn’t have to be that way. It could have been a much messier transition, and a much messier transaction. Even if that had been the case, I know He still would have taken care of us somehow.

In Joshua 5, when the Israelites entered Canaan Land, they didn’t need that manna from heaven anymore, the stuff they had been eating for 40 years. The manna stopped, and they ate the produce of Canaan right after that. “The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan.” (Joshua 5:11).

They experienced a seamless transition of provision. They were not left to starve. To fend for themselves, with no divine help. To be abandoned. That’s just not how He operates.

So I guess, all things considered, I really shouldn’t be so surprised when He takes care of me.

SOLD

9.16.2011

Do Everything

It was a regular day. I was driving around town, running errands, flitting like a butterfly from destination to destination, knocking out the responsibilities one by one. My mental checklist was whirring in predictable fashion: don’t forget to pick up milk and bread and fruit roll-ups. Drop off those letters at the post office. And when you get home, for the sake of all that is righteous and good, get that laundry out of the washing machine before it mildews. And for the sake of all that is sanitary, address the kids’ bathroom!

But then, the left-brain mental checklist started to falter a bit, as it sometimes does, and was eclipsed by the more free-thinking right brain.

The side that says…

man, this is borrrrring. Blaaahhhhh. I need something interesting to happen! Some earth-shattering revelation. Some unique observation to make about the world. But instead of setting the world on fire, I am just living. Like normal. And tomorrow will probably, more than likely, (definitely), be a lot like today.

Reflexively, I turned on the radio. There was an infectious intro to a song I had never heard, and then the unmistakable voice of Steven Curtis Chapman took over my speakers. The man still knows how to write a song that will hook you right from its opening bars. I felt compelled to turn it up when I heard something about matching up socks. Hadn’t I just been comtemplating my laundry? And then he said something like…do you wonder sometimes if it matters at all?

Well actually, Steven, now that you mention it, I kind of do. Then came the hook…the bouncy chorus that is running through my head, even now:

“Do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you.”

And that particular line wasn’t even Steven’s original thought. That’s Paul. 1 Corinthians 10:31. A great reminder to me that day…that it ALL matters. He made us to do even our little things to bring a smile to His face.

What do my daily, mundane responsibilities have to with God? They are part of what He made me to do. Part of living. Little things, big things, it doesn’t matter. So therefore, I can do them, do everything, unto Him. For his glory. If we say we are living for God, we don’t just live part of our lives for Him…we live it all for Him.

So please, if you are on the roundy-round, over-and-over again daily ride, take a minute to listen to Steven’s song today. Lyrics are below and youtube link is below that. I can assure you it will give you a lift…and a renewed sense of purpose. It did for me.

You’re picking up toys on the living room floor for the 15th time today
Matching up socks and sweeping up lost Cheerios that got away
You put a baby on your hip and color on your lips and head out the door
And while I may not know you, I bet I know you wonder sometimes, does it matter at all?
Well let me remind you it all matters just as long as you…

Do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you
Cause He made you to do
Every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face
And tell the story of grace
With every move that you make
And every little thing you do

Maybe you’re that guy with the suit and tie, maybe your shirt says your name,
You may be hooking up mergers, cooking up burgers, but at the end of the day…little stuff, big stuff, in between stuff, God sees it all the same, and while I may not know you, I bet I know you wonder sometimes, does it matter at all?
Well let me remind you it all matters just as long as you…

Maybe you’re sitting in math class
Maybe on a mission in the Congo
Maybe you’re working at the office
Singing along with the radio
Maybe you’re dining at a five star
Or feeding orphans in Myanmar
Anywhere and everywhere you are
Whatever you do it all matters
So do what you do, and don’t ever forget to

Do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you
Cause He made you to do
Every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face
And tell the story of grace
With every move that you make
And every little thing you do

9.06.2011

The House That Built Me

Our new place has inspired me to remember my only prior experience with the country.

When I was growing up, I made frequent visits to Grandma and Grandpa's house. They lived in a town that was much more country-fied that the suburbs of Birmingham. Their grand house, with its dramatically sloping roof and unusual architecture, was nestled into a thickly wooded lot. It was built in 1978. I have a vague memory of being 2 and holding someone's hand as I toddled through the construction area.

Grandma made me "coffeemilk" in the mornings (mostly milk and sugar, with a little coffee) and served it to me in my favorite mug of butterflies and flowers. She would join me, with her stronger coffee, out on the back deck, where we listened to the country wake up and admired the morning sunbeams streaming through the trees.

There was a creek running through their property, only about 3 feet wide at its widest point, and I was always interested in the way that leaves and sticks made little dams at various places, creating that sweet sound of trickling water. A hop across the creek at a strategic point would bring me to a clearing in the woods, marked by an old, rotted tree that had fallen over and opened up its hollowness. I could peer over the sharp bark edge into a weirdly fascinating black abyss of nature and wonder what lived in there.

It was ironic that the name of the neighborhood was Bent Tree Estates.

My legendary black lab, Jude, was buried in a trunk up on top of that hill behind the creek. I remember my dad wiping tears with the back of his hand as he dug the grave.

I have not been back to see that house since my grandparents moved out of it years ago. But there have been times I've wondered what became of it and if it still looks like the 70's. Had the carpet been changed? The walls painted? I daydreamed about walking through it.

Then, not too long ago, I heard this sentimental song by Miranda Lambert. As always, leave it to CMT to take sentimentality to a whole new level. (Of course, the part in the song about the dog buried in the yard kind of got me.)

So after hearing that, and upon moving to a place where the smell of wood decks and the quietness of the morning takes me back to Bent Tree, I turned to google.

The Internet is so weird. Have you noticed? Everything in the world that exists, or has ever existed, is on it somewhere.

I googled "Bent Tree Estates."

I clicked on the first link that came up. A real estate site. A house for sale. A "view slide show" button. 24 pictures.

And I didn't recognize it at first. A unfamiliar fence, shade where there was no shade before, a deck that had been enclosed, another deck that had been added...blogpic7

Then...oh my stars. This was really it. I scrolled through the 24 photos. What are the odds it would turn up on google on the first try?

Yes, the carpet was different. The walls were painted. New architecture on the back of the house completely changed its look from behind. It felt like the facebook vertigo I used to get, when I would find an old friend, a blast from the past, and I would see how much their architecture (their life) had changed, as well. No, I am not referring to plastic surgery.

So my virtual walk through that house satisfied my years of curiosity. And let's all be glad that I didn't even have to go knock on the door and ask someone if I could poke through their house (which, by the way, I am pretty sure I would never do) while singing Miranda Lambert to some poor, befuddled current resident: "Promise I won't take nothin' but a memory...from the house...that built me."

Have you ever thought about doing that? Or have you ever done it? Or if somebody knocked on your door with that unusual request, would you let them in?

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