space

Eight years ago we moved into the perfect house. It was 100 years old, with all the tall ceilings and crown mouldings and creaky floors and unique peccadilloes that come with an aged house. It lived in a neighborhood with brick streets and enormous trees and broken sidewalks that carried me and my babies and my husband over and over and over again on long meandering walks.

It was perfect.

One day on the phone my dad wondered if we’d ever want to sell the house to him to use as a rental. “But Dad, we’re never leaving this house.”

He was surprised. “You don’t think you’ll grow out of it?”

Two of my three babies were toddlers at that time; the third baby wasn’t even on her way. We had lots of room. And I had plans to expand when the kids were teenagers: finishing off the attic, adding a second full bath to the second story, strengthening the stairs to the basement for the kids to use as a hangout space.

“No, Dad, I really don’t think so.”

But then my kids grew and what I didn’t anticipate was how much space their limbs alone would take up. With longer limbs we could no longer sit together on the couch to watch a movie; in came a sectional and out went the ease of movement. With longer limbs and bigger feet the floor space in the kitchen became tighter. With longer limbs came stronger limbs, prompting Shannon’s frustration, “I can’t even throw a ball in the yard with my kids.” Where we’d once had plenty of space for the kids to run had become cramped as they grew taller.

2015-06-24 05.57.16

I read a lot of blogs, a lot of Apartment Therapy, am in love with Tiny and Tiny House Hunters, Shannon and I have had a loose plan for years to sell our house and live in an RV once our kids are out of the house so that we can travel to see them all the time. If toddlers in New York City can happily have their bedrooms in closets [edited to add: a closery], our house was a mansion. Yet as the walls of our house continually grew tighter around us I battled with my greed. How much space does one family need?

This is my theory that I’m not going to take the time to research but I am positive I’m right: houses started getting larger when parents became too scared to let their kids play outside all day every day. The threat of predators and kidnappings took away the safety of the outdoors so parents pulled their kids inside, and as kids were inside they needed room to play, which necessitated larger houses.

A good number of the people on Tiny House Hunters are placing their properties on large swaths of land. The houses are merely a place to rest before heading back outside. My sister-in-law grew up in a family of 11 in an 1100 square foot house on gobs of acres; she and her siblings were outside all the time. That is just not an option for our family. My town kids cannot spend all day outside unattended.

And so we started looking for a new house. One with a big backyard, a basement for the kids, a separate bathroom for me and Shannon. Each house we went through we came back to our perfect old house and thought, “Nah, I like this one better.”

When we finally decided to stop looking a great house came on the market: established neighborhood but not 100-years established; enormous backyard; lots of bedrooms and bathrooms; a finished basement. And so I’d drive by that house and when it went off the market I was curious about the family that got to live there. Would they appreciate it as much as I would have?

Last spring it was Shannon’s parents who approached us and asked to buy our house to use as a rental. And then the great house came back on the market. Nobody had moved into it a few months prior. It had been waiting for us.

So we moved.

God worked out the timing. The previous owners fixed up the house a bit more, a sweet family from our church who loves old houses as much as we do is renting our 100-year-old house.

The first night we were here in our new house we took a walk by the lake that is almost outside our back door and there was an enormous, brilliant sunset. And I thanked God for His housewarming present.

It’s taking time for this house to feel like ours, to not feel like we’re living in someone else’s space. But it’s getting there. Slowly I move things around, take time to hang things on walls in just the right spot, paint rooms, shuffle things around again. The kids have a yard, a basement where they can yell in goofiness, Shannon and I have a bathroom that we don’t have to share with our babies, we still take family walks, only now instead of down tree-lined streets it is around the lake. It is good.

Moving takes a lot of energy, and a lot of mental energy for me. But I’m so glad we did it. And pretty soon the walls of this house will envelope us and it will be our home.

Elijah

The word of the Lord is hard to read, man. It is not for the faint of heart.

But I don’t want to deter you from reading it! You should. There are blessings in those pages as you read, gentle ways the Lord shows His love and reveals more of who He is. But if you start reading the Old Testament (and really, if you start reading anything in the Bible) you need need to be in prayer as you do it.

(My prayer, each day before I read, is that God would pour out on me His spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I may come to know Him better. I copied the prayer from Ephesians 1:17. If you’re gonna copy something copy the word of the Lord, ya know?)

A couple of years ago my Sunday School class studied Elijah and Elisha; the kings who reigned in Israel and Judah before those two prophets came on the scene; the kings who successively committed “more evil in the eyes of the Lord than all those before him.” (That line, or a variation of it, is used a few times.) Which often meant setting up shrine prostitutes and engaging in child sacrifice. The word “evil” is not used lightly.

So now that I’m reading the Bible from front to back I came to the part last week where Solomon’s heart turned after other gods because of his wives and he built high places (places of worship) to detestable gods.

I had to close my Bible and pause there. My stomach was sick because I knew what was coming: a split kingdom and evil committed by the Israelites such as they had not committed before. Oh Solomon. How long-lasting the consequences of your sin! Each king made his own decisions, yes, and was punished for his own sin, but Solomon is the one who invited that sin into their country.

Today I came to Elijah, who spoke the Lord’s words and turned off the rain in Israel as a consequence for their Baal worship. The Lord then hid him by a ravine and fed him there, but once the brook in the ravine dried up, the Lord told Elijah to go to Zarephath of Sidon, THE VERY HEART OF THE VERY LAND FROM WHICH THE BAAL WORSHIP NOW BEING PROMOTED IN ISRAEL HAD COME.*

I remember us discussing in my Sunday School how Elijah had to make his way thru a barren and drought-stricken Israel, remaining hidden, all the way to Zarephath. Instead of questioning anything or hesitating, Elijah turned and went. “So he went to Zarephath.”

That is a lot for the Lord to ask of one of His followers. But the thing is, God never expects us to do it on our own.

Jesus left so that the Holy Spirit could live inside those of us who claim Him as our Savior. Elijah didn’t have the Holy Spirit inside of him, that is only for believers after Christ’s return to Heaven. If Elijah could go to Zarephath with God’s leading and protection, how much more can I do with God dwelling inside my very being?

Immeasurably more, I do believe.

The Lord is good, you guys. You should follow Him.

1 Kings 11:1-8

1 Kings 17:7-10a

John 16:7

Ephesians 3:20-21

*From the commentary in my Bible, emphasis added by me.

throwback thursday + one day = flashback friday

[From September 2010.]

[I edited the pics cuz they were too small. You’re welcome, all my people who don’t like to squint at their tiny screens.]

ANNIVERSARY

I am so grateful for our Father in heaven, who came through on His promise to always guide those who seek Him.  We didn’t know if we wanted more kids, if we could handle more kids.  But He knew.

Sunday was the 101st day of Baby Chickadee living outside my belly, which also happened to be the anniversary of the day she most likely started growing in my belly.  The day the miracle of life began, when one cell divided into two, into four, into eight, again and again and again until we got her:

The perfect addition to the three who already made my heart explode with love:

 

reading and thinking, september edition

Still reading.

Sometimes my eyes go a little cross-eyed, sometimes it’s hard to pay exact attention to what I’m reading. I try to stay focused on the words, but when I’m reading about how Solomon built and decorated the temple to the Lord, it’s hard to absorb all that I’m reading, what with the cubits and all; when I can’t visualize it, it’s hard for me to stay in the story.

But the Lord is sweet and reveals to me interesting things each time I read.

When I got to the part about the ten lampstands of pure gold I focused anew on what I was reading: this temple must have been spectacular. And it is where the Lord resided.

Only now, I am the Lord’s temple. You and I are. Which is a little whack to think about.

Our God, who is perfect and without fault, sent His perfect Son to seek the lost, came to seek those so dead in sin we didn’t even know we needed a savior. And yet there He was and is, chasing us like the Hound of Heaven, following us, so that we might accept Him and then He will live in us and we will be His temple.

It is too good to be true.

If the Baha’i are right (they’re not) and every religion were just as true as another, why follow any God but the One of the Bible, the One who seeks you every day and longs for a relationship with you? Just give in already. Follow Jesus. He’s totally worth it, I promise you.

the best lines

So you all know how I read approximately one book a year, and when I do I have to share it with all of you. I must verbally process everything, and yet I’m trying NOT to do that very thing because I tend to dominate conversations with my friends. Sooooo even more reason to type it out here; it’s practically the same as talking it out and you guys can choose whether or not you read this post instead of being forced to feign interest while I talk to your face.

[I’m also copying my clever and interesting friend Heidi who has a hashtag on Instagram #heidijoesbookreport. She reads a lot more than I do so you should totally check her out. But if you are ever so inclined to read all my “book reports,” there ya go, a new category on this here blog: erin’s book report.]

[ALSO, I would like to dedicate this post to Emmy who forced me to read the book and Jayme who dropped off her copy on my porch. A small delegation from a pretty amazing tribe of women.]

Ok! The best lines from Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love.

“I see a generation of people ON THE HOOK. Man, we are tough on one another, starting with ourselves. When Jesus said to ‘love your neighbor as yourself,’ I don’t think He meant judgmentally; but that is exactly how we treat our own souls, so it bleeds out to others. Folks who thrive in God’s grace give grace easily, but the self-critical person becomes others-critical. We ‘love’ people the way we ‘love’ ourselves, and if we are not good enough, then no one is.”

“We are called to this work, and it might not seem like much, but if you play your one note and I play mine and she plays hers, together it will create a beautiful song that sounds like freedom for the captives and good news to the poor. May the broken-hearted be healed and ashes turned to beauty in our generation.”

“As Scott Stratten, author of UnMarketing says: ‘Don’t try to win over the haters; you’re not the jackass whisperer.'”

“At your age, it takes courage to march to your own drumbeat. So few kids try. Popularity is a terrible goal, because you have to lose yourself to find it. If you sacrificed one precious part of yourselves, it would be a calamity. At no point, in no environment, among no friends must you be anything but exactly who you are. There is never a need to act less weird or more enthusiastic or extra eager or remotely mean to please someone else. When you want to say no, say no. When you want to say yes, say yes, even if no one else does. Dad and I have your back.”

“The best we can do is give them Jesus. Not rules, not behaviors, not entertainment, not shame. I have no confidence in myself but every confidence in Jesus. He is such a relief, isn’t He? He is always the true answer, the strongest touchstone, the best example. When I am grasping as a spiritual mentor to my kids, there He is. When words and ideas and ‘right answers’ fail me, His life and legacy deliver. With good reason my kids may doubt their parents, church, Christian culture, and their own understanding, but it is harder to doubt a Savior as good as Jesus. He is so incredibly dependable.”

“… So don’t let anything stop you, because a messy kitchen only tells me someone cares enough to feed me, which is a good key.”

“The early church involved small, organic communities who gathered around tables, lived simple lives on mission, and loved God and neighbor. That was kind of it. The first believers assembled for renewal and teaching and dinner and togetherness. It was so basic and lovely. Everyone pulled weight, pitched in, pressed into God. The early church wasn’t fancy or entertaining, impressive or complicated, but it managed to take the gospel to the whole world.”

“Loved people forgive and encourage, serve and uplift, because they are precious to someone. They live within a ridiculous ‘others first’ paradigm that only secure, beloved people can pull off.”

“Let’s treat each other well, making more space for every sort of ragamuffin… The breadth of God’s family is mercifully wide. Grace has no discernment, apparently. Jesus created a motley crew, plucking us from every context and inaugurating a piecemeal clan that has only ever functioned with mercy.”