11 October 2005

winds of change

At last, autumn is tip-toeing into our world (albeit slowly here in the south), and I am luxuriating in the milder temperatures, varying cast of shadows around my neighborhood and the crispness of the air. I find it quite invigorating.

However, far more lurks beneath the surface in our lives—a multitude of changes.

The first thing happened while I was on vacation, though being out of town, I did not hear until the afternoon we arrived home.

Prior to getting married, I lived in Seattle for one year—a space of time in my life to become more independent as a person, yet also more dependent upon God. While there, I lived in a house shared by several Christian women (not always an ideal thing, having so much estrogen under one roof, but. . .). However, a few of them became dear to my heart. One friend in particular was Janel. She was indeed a free spirit and a deep-hearted person who helped me maintain my sanity during the lower spots of that year (I “knew” I’d be getting married, but we were 3,000 miles apart and neither of us had email at the time). I spent many a lovely evening with Janel, trouncing around town in “L.C.”, her “Little Car”—an old Honda hatchback. (I recall that later she was sad to have to replace that car when its day was done!)

Once I moved home to get married, Janel and I infrequently stayed in touch. We emailed some, chatted some, and about six years ago she came for a visit. That visit was one stop of many on a trip she’d longed to go on for years. She had traveled part of the US by train and then went to Romania for a few weeks, spending time at an orphanage there. I remember that her heart longed to bring home one baby in particular and that parting was difficult for her.

The day I returned home from our vacation last month, I learned that Janel had died. It has been one month today. She and two friends were on their way home from a concert at 1 a.m. when a freak rockslide occurred and crushed their vehicle, roughly an hour from Seattle. It was so sudden and so shocking that it has taken me some time to process all of it.

A few other housemates and I have reconnected through this tragedy, and I felt our bonds grow a little tighter. Life is so uncertain. I believe that God knows the number of days we have here on earth. While Janel was only 28, and had not yet fulfilled her dream of marrying and having a family, her life was indeed complete. The news of her death has not rocked the core of my world as others have done, but losing a peer is very sobering to me and I certainly feel a deep loss.

The second big change that is just beginning for us is the desire to move. We have lived in this house for over seven years, and it has served us well. However, the area we are in is slowly going downhill and we do not want our children around what we are seeing as they grow up. Every once in a while we have considered moving, but never felt the peace that it was the right time.

The house we currently live in is now 23 years old, a split-level (which I adamantly wanted when we were house hunting), and has a considerably large yard—something we wanted for our kids someday (though parts are really steep, which is bad with toddlers). Over time, we have decided we absolutely want a ranch style home the next time, and a much smaller yard, as for us, taking care of it only takes away from the time we want to spend as a family on the weekends. Interesting how our two most important things in a house have completely changed. Confession: I actually hate taking my kids outside. I know, bad, bad mommy. I despise bugs and sunburn and sunscreen and sweating while watching to make sure my kids are safe. Ugh.

So, about two weeks ago, we were talking about some things and it began to occur to us that we felt a sudden, unexpected peace that now is the time to move. How or when or where had not yet begun to sink in. Just, “It’s time.” Yes, God—we will follow. There is a lot we will miss about this house—the one mile I drive to Little B's school, a “Teddy Bear Picnic” mural my husband painted when we were expecting Little B, the close proximity of certain friends, and knowing that our immediate neighbors are great people (we won’t mention what we see going deeper into the neighborhood. . .)

After a day or so, we began to grow quite excited—we have things we desperately need to do to make it more sellable, and originally planned to put it on the market at the beginning of spring. One thing we were determined to do is drive the areas we were thinking of to make sure we found a neighborhood we love, a reasonable drive for my husband to and from work, and either a school we are comfortable with or an acceptable distance from the current one (Little B is in a very small private Christian school that is moderately priced and goes from preschool to 6th grade—they have also been adding a grade a year for a while). We assumed this would take us a few months, while we got our house ready to sell, and we’d have zeroed in on where we want to go, whether we'd build or buy used.

However, God’s timing is not our own, is it? We narrowed things way, way, WAY down. When His peace hits, it lands perfectly and contentedly within and all there is to say is, “Oh,” and “Wow,” and “Amen.” Right? Right.

By way of explanation, my husband is a civil engineer in residential construction. Basically, he designs and lays out neighborhoods (I will spare you the nitty-gritty). There is one client he has been doing a lot of work for, and occasionally meets with. Last week (yes, last week), during a meeting with said client, he asked oh so nonchalantly, “Do you have any ranch plans in such-and-such subdivision?” Why, yes, they did. Let me insert here that “someday” in the far off future, our dreams included building “the house of our dreams”—some day way off, right? No, not way off, according to God.

The architect gave my husband two full sets of plans for himself, and my dear husband comes home that night jabbering on and on about this—he had a strange light in his eye and I was hell-bent on taming it—“Honey, we can talk about this, but you are acting like it’s a done deal—remember, we agreed to take some TIME.” I like spontaneity, but preferably with smaller decsions, not the big ones.

I finally agreed to sit down and look at it. One of them fits every single thing we’d ever wanted in a house. Except maybe the fact the yards are incredibly tiny and the homes are squished next to each other (it’s a “conservation subdivision”, therefore if they do not touch some surrounding areas they can make us spitting distance from one another’s homes—literally, my friends). Of course, we did say we wanted less yard to take care of—we could do our yard work in, oh, say, 20 minutes flat each week. It started to hold a bit of appeal. There are great parks nearby, and some open land that could not be built on, so playing is not an issue, if truth be told. Our current, huge backyard stays too neglected to be of much use anyway. OH—and a mere one mile away live my husband's aunt and uncle who have a massive amount of play area that we are always welcome to use. So, I won’t need goats to keep my grass short after all. Yes, we could see ourselves living here for twenty years.

Okay, that peace we were starting to feel? It grew stronger after we went through a model of the same home in a different subdivision (“our" neighborhood isn’t being built yet—a few more weeks). It grew even stronger when we drove through the actual site of “ours”.


By Saturday afternoon, we knew this is where we were supposed to go. We kept waiting for the apprehension that would indicate a wrong choice, or panic that our house wouldn’t sell, but all we received was peace. God is in the details.

I feel I am entering a new season in my life. Where it will take me, I do not know. The transition makes me curious but I intend to ride on this peace we have and try to go with the flow.


kim said...

It was so nice to read your entry...thanks for sharing your heart. I'm glad to hear the changes...the peace....the happiness....the blessings God has given to you and your family! Just an uplifting post. You are always encouraging!

-many more blessings<><

AfricaBleu said...

gVery nice post. Good luck with the move!

cjoy said...

So now you're gonna decorate for me, right, africableu? :) Such a daunting task. . .