Category Archives: Love Where I Live

Our house, our home.

It’s taken me one day shy of a month to continue my saga.  You might want to go back and read the last post, because I’m going to pick up where I left off:

I wanted to quit.  I wanted to pack up my kids and our stuff and my books and head back home to the safety of our house.

Next up:  the apocalypse continues . . .

I finished that post in such a clever way, setting things up perfectly for this next installment in  Apocalypse Now.

January was dark.  I really did want to quit.  I doubted everything.  But then the semester started.  And my very first class on that very first day of my fresh start was with my very favorite professor in all the world.  I walked out the door into the cold January air at eight o’clock in the morning on January 22nd.  My fall semester had been the most challenging of all of our semesters in this fine institution.  It was very heavy on the Church History.  When I arrived for this degree program, I really was all fired up to study American Church History.  I had left behind my former academic passions and was ready to pursue this new one.  But as the semester progressed and I found myself in history classes and required, given the discipline, to bite my tongue on my judgmentalism strong opinions, I realized I’m no Church historian.  My passion for missional theology was reignited.  So when I headed off for that first day of class in January, it was to reengage my passion with the professor who had ignited it in the first place: missional theology.  

The first week of class held such promise for me!  Professor Awesome’s words washed over me, feeding my spirit-hungry self, reminding me what it is all about.  All of it.  All of life.  All of our lives:  participation in God’s mission to the world!  Once again, I was looking at Ph.D. programs.  This time, in missiology.  The future was bright.

And then.

Then.

then.

On January 30th, 8 short days into this semester, I received a phone call at 7:15 AM.  No one is dead, I’ll just take that fear right off the table.  But some thing died that day.  And it has taken me two full months to stop hemorrhaging from my heart.

Our house.  Our home.  The home we loved and wanted to hang on to forever.  The home we daydreamed about.  The home we planned to honor and do up right when funds were available.  Our home  had been irreparably broken.

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When we got to the bottom of things, we learned that our furnace had failed, turning off the heat.  This led to water pipes freezing and bursting and gushing water for over a day through from the second floor to the first floor, where it drained down through our basement.  7,700 gallons of water.

Our kitchen that we had renovated five years ago as part of operation “honor and do right by this house” took the brunt of the blow as it was below the affected pipes.

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Insurance will cover most of everything, though we’re still working through all of that.  I’m grateful for that.

But.  The people that the insurance company sent in to “prevent further damage” ripped up our hardwood floors.  Likely unnecessarily.  Certainly in a manner that raised all sorts of questions for us.

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Our house.  Our home.  My first home, really, despite the fact that I’d lived six other places in my life.  This one was home. We knew we had entered a phase of moving about here and there, but our plan was to keep the house where it was, renting it out, so that we could some day return to it.

I can’t really put into words how deeply this blow has impacted me.  I think that’s why it’s taken me a month to sit down to write this post.  I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t face it.  I couldn’t think through it.  My floors that have eighty-eight years of footprints and memories embedded in them are gone.  And this house will never be the same.

People have tried to point me toward the positive.  And I appreciate their efforts, I really do.  But our house was like the sixth member of our immediate family.  It’s not about its value, it’s not about being fancy.  It was our home.

I’ve spent the last two months reeling from this blow.  I think I’m finally coming out of it, coming to a place of peace about it.  But how I have arrived in this place is part of the larger story of these past two months that includes other blows, other challenges.  It’s been a time of despair, of confusion, of more darkness.  And through all of this, I’ve been trying to work on this degree.  Dragging myself through classes, trying so hard to make it happen.  That, too, is a story for another day.

For those who are keeping score, the apocalyptic signs have now included natural disaster in the form of a hurricane and now tragedy in the form of flood.  Hold on to your seats, there are more to come . . .

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I’m dreaming of a white . . .

Halloween?

That doesn’t seem right.

And, I guess, to be technical about it, there wasn’t any real snow left at my house on Halloween. But at my mother-in-law’s house, a mere 26 miles south of us, I’m sure there was snow left on Halloween. 14 inches of the white stuff fell on them! I’m so jealous. By my best guess, the actual storm ended just a couple of miles south of my home. We just got snow because we were on the edge of the storm, so there was some wet stuff in the air and our elevation and lower temps made that wet stuff snow. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, was right in the midst of the storm. And she got dumped on.

My friend and I were driving back up to my home from her home near where my show was and we had a remarkable experience. There’s a place in the drive where you go up, up, up, a hill, then round a corner onto a different highway. At the bottom of the hill, it was October. Autumn leaves, no snow. At the top of the hill, a little snow. Around the corner: a foot of snow! All of a sudden, it was January! How fun!

While we didn’t get the piles of snow others in our area did, we did get some snow. Enough to play in:

But it was bizarre. Because there’s a tree full of green leaves there on the left. And snow on the ground.

And here’s the hill behind our house, with the Autumn leaves and white snow:

My poor brain. It works so hard to keep a handle on the world outside of it, keeping track of all that stuff around it, and then the world throws this at it. Here, poor sensory-deprived brain, make sense of this: green leaves, orange leaves, snow-covered branches, and trick-or-treating in two days.

What?!

My brain may not have been able to make sense of it all, but I sure did like all the fun!

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s Fall. It’s actually late Fall. It’s actually almost winter here. We’ve had our heavy frosts, the thermometer made it down into the 20’s (F), most of the pretty leaves are gone, I’ve seen some frozen precipitation. And I have loved every minute of it. It’s a good Fall when there’s some frozen precipitation in October. It’s a great Fall when that happens before the last week of October as it did this year.

Fall is my favorite time of year. It’s when I feel most alive, when my outlook is the brightest, when I feel I can take over the world. Winter is a close second. You don’t want to know me as Spring rolls around and, for heaven’s sake, stay out of my way in the middle of July when it’s hot and sticky. I whine worse than my three kids combined on their worst day. But Fall. Glorious Fall. It is simply the most wonderful time of the year. I don’t care what the song says. It’s actually the one season of the year for which I do any house decorating. Here. Look. Look closely. You will see mums (in crummy plastic, straight-from-the-farm-market containers) and a cute little scarecrow. This is my house at its homiest best.

The leaves have been beautiful, as they are always beautiful, but not strikingly beautiful this year. Some individual trees have been breathtaking, but when you get a view of the rolling hills, they’ve been dull this year. Beautiful, but not vibrant. More like the colors we people wear in Fall. Subdued tones, orange-brown, red-brown, tan. (I’m no good at colors. That whole sensory thing, you know.)

Why do we wear those colors in Fall? I mean, I don’t, but that’s because I look like death in those earth-tones. But I’m thinking of those seasonal sweaters that people pull out. Where I lived in Georgia they seemed especially popular. October came and all the church ladies pulled out their Autumnal-colored wool sweaters. Subdued browns and reds and oranges, leaf patterns, matched with similarly-hued corduroys. Pretty. But I just didn’t get it. It was 80-some degrees!! 80-some degrees for crying out loud!! And there they were. In wool. And corduroy. And this Northerner was still roaming around in shorts and a tee-shirt. Because. As I said. 80-some degrees!!!

But it gave the illusion of Fall. It’s October, it’s Fall, they make these pretty Fall sweaters, we simply must wear them. No mind that it’s hot hot hot and wool is decidedly not made for hot weather wear. Now I’m sure I’m offending my Southern readership (all two of you). But my intention is not to offend, simply to marvel. I don’t know how those women walked around in those sweaters when it was so warm outside.

I was suffocatingly hot and I couldn’t find any clothes to wear at the store because I had no idea what was seasonally appropriate for a sweaty October. This was a real dilemma for me. I think the church ladies had it right. They wore Fall clothes. But I was too hot. So the calendar was telling me it was time for long sleeves and sweaters, but the thermometer was telling me to put on a bathing suit and go swimming. Strange. It was all very strange. And I have totally digressed. I want to return to the color scheme of our Fall fashions.

They’re all so subdued, those Fall fashion colors. But right now I’m looking at two maple trees out my front window, and there is nothing subdued about it. Bright, almost neon yellow-green and yellow-orange. These are the colors we wore over-sized in the 80’s. The 1980’s, that is. Not the colors that the Georgian church ladies wore in the 80’s. The 80-some degrees, that is. And my current church ladies of the North wear the same sweaters in the 50’s or 40’s, so I’m crossing the Mason-Dixon line now.

But seriously, the colors of Fall are vibrant, other-worldly. My husband, a quirky, wonderful man, has some peculiarities with regard to colors. Both wearing them and eating them. He won’t wear or eat something whose hue he can describe as “not being found in nature.” He is most suspicious of maraschino cherries. Those are just entirely unnatural to him. The color is “not found in nature,” the consistency is too reminiscent of plastic (I’ll give him that). He’s convinced they’ve never been cherries but are strictly factory-made.

Clothing? Same story. He wears “earth-tones”: tan, gray, tan, brown, black, beige, tan, green, an occasional burgundy, but only after repeated reassurances that it’s not too bold. Countless times have i heard, “I can’t wear that! That color does not occur in nature.”

But in the Fall, his whole schema falls apart. Because in the Fall, all bets are off. God pulls out the 64-box, maybe even the 96-box, and goes to town with all manner of colors and color combinations. Colors I can’t name put together in ways we would never wear, yet all amazingly, breathtakingly beautiful.

Well. Maybe we would wear them. And did, depending on how old you are. Think back to the 80’s. The 1980’s that is. I wore these colors. My friends wore these colors. My husband did NOT wear these colors, he would have called them unnatural. Much of the 1980’s was extraordinarily unnatural. But the color of our clothes was not. Our permed and blown out and sprayed hair may have been. Our heavy blue eyeliner and matching blue shadow may have been. But our neon clothes? Straight from God’s palette.

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I love where I live

One of the amusing things about our VBS this year was its theme. “SonHarvest County Fair.” It was amusing not for the theme itself, but how the theme played out at our particular church. It was a county fair theme, with all of these ideas for making our church look “country.” Our usual decorating crew really struggled with the theme this year. Normally their wheels start whizzing away the moment they hear the theme, and I have been amazed at how they transform our church building, transporting the kids and all who attend VBS to a whole other space and time. Beautiful.

This year, however. This year was a real challenge. The challenge, of course, was that we were in reality already sitting in the country, all eagerly awaiting our own, actual County Fair, which indeed draws everyone’s attention and focus for a week. To decorate the church with a country theme was to make it look like the vast majority of our living rooms, and if not our own living rooms, that of our grandmother’s. We had stuffed animals–cows, chickens, horses–all over the place, when most of us have the real deal within a mile of our home if not in our own backyard.

There was no transportation this year. There was no fantasy. We live the County Fair every August. We prepare for the County Fair all spring and summer. The whole thing just made me laugh.

The perks of “staging” a County Fair 2 miles away from the real County Fair? Real animals. In our vestibule. Not many churches have that, I suspect. We had a new live animal brought in each night and two of the nights were rainy, so where else would we set up the goat and the chickens and ducks? In the vestibule. Right next to the rope for the bell tower. Doesn’t everyone?

So, three weeks after our VBS, the real County Fair took place. We took our city slicker friends to enjoy the festivities. We all had a ball. Rides to ride. Cows, pigs, horses, and sheep to pet. Sheep being shorn. Chickens and turkeys and peacocks to oggle. It was great. And I was amazed at how fascinated my children were with the chickens, given we have about three dozen next door to us, essentially in our backyard. I pondered how long it would be before my son realizes that cotton candy doesn’t have a hint of manure to its flavor as he generally gets some from the vendor right next to the animals.

It was great. Beautiful. Fun. All the gingham and stuffed animals in the world couldn’t recreate it. You could never capture the smell. Although the goat in the vestibule did help.

Hannah and the big white turkey

Hannah and the big white turkey

On the Ferris Wheel with Auntie Marilyn

On the Ferris Wheel with Auntie Marilyn

Sheer joy and sheer terror
Sheer joy and sheer terror

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Filed under Family Life, Hannah, Isaac, Love Where I Live