Friday, August 28, 2009

Home Life

Why do I like turtles? Because God made them to be home wherever they go.

Today is a rainy day, reminding me of my Seattle years. This would be a fantastic time for a cup of coffee. The aroma and the smell of rain together brings back fond memories. I would go to Starbucks for a grande Verona or anything bold, take a walk to the muffin store on the Ave for something large and decadent and head to Greenlake for a morning with my Bible or my memory Bible verse pack. It didn't matter if it was raining or not. I had a hood on my raincoat and wore 2 sweaters on top of each other. It actually felt cozy to be outside, with my breakfast and time with God. Reading His Word about how much I was loved and how wonderful Jesus is probably added to the warm feeling.

Right now, I am in our living room looking at the rain through the still broken window. The replacement is in, but the installation won't happen until next week. I can't wait. Plywood is covering the hole, and clear plastic is covering the whole window. Our current window has a large segment in the middle plus two narrow windows that slide open on each side. The replacement window will be energy efficient with double hung side windows instead of sliders. We were tempted to replace the triad with two larger double hung windows, but it would impede the view. I was thinking that it would bring down the value of our house to go a cheaper way, and it wouldn't fit the rest of the houses in the neighborhood. Dennis was thinking about the cost, mostly because the triad window had to be special ordered.

I finally agreed with my husband that the estimate given to us by Lowes was too high, and I was willing to be patient as Dennis searched out other options. Dennis looked into buying the window from his old employer, Menards, and putting it in himself with the help of friends. He told Lowes why he changed his mind, and they negotiated a lower price. Dennis accepted, because he really didn't want to do the work himelf anyway. Lowes had a stipulation that all windows ordered through them had to be installed by them.

So, by the time the window is installed, it would be a whole month that our house has been an eyesore in the neighborhood. For several weeks, I was upset everytime I rolled up our driveway and saw the wreck from the outside. Nowadays, I don't even notice anymore. Having an imperfection so obvious to all has been good for my humility.

Yesterday, I spent extra time cleaning and vacuuming our home. I rearranged furniture, dusted, organized the laundry room, washed several loads of clothes and cleaned some traffic areas of the carpet. By the time I was done, it was 7pm and time to make dinner. There is still a lot more to do, like organizing the linen closet (again), cleaning the upholstery on the couch in the den, washing the curtains in the living room and dining room, straightening out under the bathroom and kitchen sinks, washing the walls and the woodwork, and mopping the wood floors. I might get to some of that this afternoon. But now, it's time for coffee.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Prayer Life

I've been thinking more about prayer than actually praying, lately. But that is actually an improvement from where I was a few weeks ago.

When I was single, it seemed like I was always praying. As a single woman living in Seattle, I was more aware of my needs, desires and hopes. And my weakness and inadequacies. I worked hard and prayed harder. I prayed because it seemed like there was only One whom I could turn to who understood me completely.

As a newlywed, I was also driven to God in prayer--so much going on with marriage that I needed God to help me grow up and be a wife. I was experiencing a deep healing in my life and God brought me through one of the deepest depressions I've ever known.

As a woman in her 30's, longing for a baby and not coming to terms that time was against me in this matter, I dove into my conversations with God with desperation. At the same time, I was cultivating a faithful heart in order to pursue "a long obedience in the same direction". I had to grow up in my faith that I would serve God whether He gave me children or not. My walk as a Christian was no longer about my fulfillment but on obedience. Most of my prayer life was about hanging on when I was dealing with doubt and disillusionment.

So, what's wrong with me now? I'm rounding the corner and heading to 50. I am not going to live forever in this world. And this is what preoccupies me the most. How much time do I have and how I am going to make it count to glorify Him the best? I rely on Him to help me do His will and I trust Him completely in whatever He chooses to do (Proverbs 16:9) but in the meantime, I don't have long and I don't to waste my life. The only thing that matters is God's Kingdom.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


This December marks the seventh year Dennis and I have lived in the same house in Michigan. In our 20 years of marriage (anniversary coming up in a week and a half), this is a kind of milestone. Before this, the longest we lived anywhere was our home in Acworth, Georgia for almost three and a half years. We've been rolling stones. Even when we lived in the same town, we still moved from one residence to another.

Our Michigan move was unique in that we decided to buy our home before moving to Lansing. We drove out, looked at homes for a week while staying with our friends, Bob and Donna Tobey. We put a bid on one home, but it fell through, and I had a backup plan for another, the current one we live in. We left our car with the Tobey's and took a memorable train ride back to Denver.

It's a three bed and two bath multi-level with a basement, garage and a storage shed. I've always liked multi-level homes as opposed to a ranch style or a two-story. They have a more contemporary feel to them, and are adaptable to any decorating scheme you decide on. For the price we paid, I feel we got our money's worth. When we bought it, it was only eight years old. I've just realized that now our home is fifteen years old.

Prior to moving in, we painted the family room and the living room, as well as put in some shelving, an automatic garage door opener and a ceiling fan in the master bedroom after buying our appliances. A year after, we replaced the light fixures with more modern ones, and since then, we've done little besides some landscaping and painting inside the garage walls and the wood trim around the windows and chimney. I'm looking around and seeing that we have a lot to do before the end of the year. The Honey Do list is starting to grow.

Since we have had a lot of animals, including an elderly german shepherd mix and a golden retriever puppy, as well as a destructive mother cat and her six kittens, the carpet needs replacing in some rooms. Our living room is small, so we are thinking of installing a wood floor ourselves. I've tolerated the wallpaper border in the dining room but now I'm sick of it. The kitchen is showing on the walls that I love to cook and that my eyesight is not so good, as well as a lot of wear on the laminate countertops. The cupboards are simple, but they are oak and I like them. When we bought our stove, I didn't insist on buying an overhead microwave/hood that matched it and now I wish that I did.

For all these projects, plus more, I'm planning to post some before and after photos as well as document all the decisionmaking that Dennis and I have to do. The first project is the window project, which will be posted in a few days. Dennis and our friend, Youngbae, went up on the roof a few weeks ago and had an accident with a ladder. Everyone is safe, but the ladder went through the living room window. A replacement had to be special ordered and with the plywood covering the shattered picture window, we ascended to the top of the list of the worst looking houses in the neighborhood. I'm looking forward to the new window installation on Tuesday.

Living here has had its ups and downs. There are other places I wish we could live, like closer to family in California. But I'm celebrating the fact that we actually have a home at all.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Love Rescue Me


"Love Rescue Me" written by U2 and Bob Dylan, performed here back in 1988. It's a plea for God's mercy and grace.

"I'm here without a name
In the palace of my shame"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Read Well

I've finished reading "Testimony" by Anita Shreve, a novel about the aftermath of a sex scandal at a private high school in Vermont. Each chapter is told from a viewpoint from a character in the story--the students, a few parents, a dining hall worker, an administrator, a newpaper reporter, a sheriff and a researcher. Shreve accomplishes the difficult task of finding a different voice and angle for each one, as well as letting each have information that others in the story don't have so the reader puts together the puzzle as he reads along.

The story begins with a flashback of a school headmaster going into shock as he watches a pornographic tape of three of his senior basketball star players with promising futures have sex with an underage freshman girl. I didn't want to read it, and Shreve means it to be that way. The consequences are devastating as well, the sins of the students as well as their parents cause a chain of events that haunt you all the way to the end. The video's subjects all have hearts and souls, and you will get to know each one. Some you will like, some you might not.

Through her dissection of a Vermont small town and its prep school, Anita Shreve is making a statement about the society at large and about the lack of character and sexual morals in America's youth these days. She is particularly alarmed that teen drinking is out of control and that little is done about it. "Testimony" is meant to be a wake up call, that there are more important things than success and prestige for American teens to aspire to, things like decency, honor and responsibility. Perhaps these would be good for American adults as well since the compass is set by the older generations.

As for me, I am tired of listening to how small town life is best to raise children in. I grew up in one where everyone knew a little to a lot about everyone else. Shreve gets it right in how gossip and rumors are spread--everyone has an opinion based on very little knowledge. In a way, our media is the same way. We hear a ton about nothing. Small town life can make most people watch their backs carefully and present a facade instead of the true self.

Then again you meet people like Silas and his father Owen who are real, caring and honest--people I remember meeting while growing up and wishing I could be like. Anita Shreve also gets it right that the ones who seem to have the most to lose end up paying the highest price. And that a sin harbored in one's heart doesn't just hurt you but also the ones you love.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The last month has been a flurry of activity for Dennis and me as we got ready to recieve 2 male international students to our household. We have a three bedroom house with two baths, but we occupy every square inch of it. The process of making room for more people to live with us has been a hard one, but it has been good.

For one, Dennis and I now have to share some space. The closet in our bedroom is tiny so I claimed it while Dennis got the closet in a spare room also designated as his office. As we contemplated having to empty that extra closet, I realized that I had to clear half of mine. Dennis also occupied the second bathroom downstairs while I dominated our masterbath. We like this arrangement because of our different standards of what is acceptably clean--Den is a little more relaxed while I'm a lot more obsessive. Sharing a bath together to make room for the students means making a compromise--i.e. Den will step it up and I will stop nagging.

Small, cramped quarters make for possible friction and irritation. Mostly for me, because I like my home a certain way. Organization equals peace to me in my physical surroundings. It kind of goes against that purpose if the way I have to achieve it is to harp, get impatient or mad. Living with me can be hard if all I do is insist that everthing has to be my way, and the only way I know to deal with it is to take responsibility for my feelings and put a higher value on the feelings of others than my own selfish desire for being a neat freak. Even the cat doesn't mess with me.

On the other hand, I need some cooperation from my husband and the students. Living with all guys will be a challenge for me, and I need their sensitivity to what I expect. A home is not a crash pad and consistent maintainence and cleaning is required. I want excellence, not perfection. So, Saturdays are chore days and everyday all members of the household have a task in daily upkeep. I don't think I'm asking for too much.

So far, the last three days have been fun ones with the students. One is from Africa and the other from South Korea and they are both learning English. They don't yet know Christ, but we are hoping that will change somewhere in their futures and that God would use us and this home in the chain of grace. It's worth it.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above