Sunday, August 23, 2009

our time vs. His time

Do you ever struggle with patience or with trusting that God is working in a certain situation? God is ever faithful to do with and for us what He wills - WHEN He wills it. This summer has been one of me, yet again, forgetting that and, yet again, learning to embrace it.
"Even if the message is not fulfilled right away, wait patiently; for it will certainly come to pass - it will not arrive late." Habakkuk 2:3b (NET)
I've fought the battle of my timing in respect to God's timing nearly my whole adult life. Most frequently, it has reared its ugly head in relation to being single. For as long as I can remember, my biggest dream as a little girl was to be a good wife and mother - and yet as an adult, with few exceptions, I have watched all my friends get married and have children. Nearly all of them have two children by now, and several have more. While it has brought such joy to my heart to watch their marriages and families flourish, I'd be dishonest if I denied that there has been a bittersweet edge at certain moments that my own life hasn't yet followed that path.

Still, I know God has a wonderful and perfect plan for my life. As he says in Ecclesiastes 8:6 (NIV) "There is a proper time and procedure for everything." I have faith that He will bring marriage and family to my life when it is right. I've played the game of trying to finagle my way around His timing and instead force my time upon Him. While I have some wonderful memories of that time, I also know that I was not in God's will and as a result, encountered a lot of unnecessary pain and hurt (not to mention, years of time that I can never regain). So most of the time, my patience in His timing where this is concerned remains steadfast and my heart is trusting in Him.

But this summer brought a whole new test to my struggle to live within God's timing. Those of you who know me will realize that I am a little ... hmmm ... shall we just say organized? I like to have a plan. I like to know what to expect. I do not like surprises, unless I know they're coming (kind of defeats the purpose, huh?). I like knowing the processes, the reasons, the method to things - and when I don't, I feel somewhat bewildered and a tad stressed.

Thus began my summer. After several months mulling over and mentally planning my move to a new RENTAL home of some sort, I walked into the first weekend of summer with plans to attack the search on that Monday morning. That gave me most of June and a part of July to find a place to rent, all that time and the rest of July to pack, and if I paid double-rent so I could move in on August 1, I could be moved and settled in with plenty of time before returning to work on August 14th. All planned out and perfect - just like I like it.

Ahem. Of course you see it coming, right? God had other plans. His timing was NOT my own. Even more, His PLAN was not even my own. And He had no intention of allowing me to even put a single foot down on the path of MY plan before completely changing my course. On Monday morning, a few mere hours after discussing my plan of action with some friends at a picnic (while steadfastly defending my plan to rent and not buy, mind you), God orchestrated circumstances so that I was suddenly taking my first steps down the path of a first time home-buyer. By noon that day, I was preapproved for a loan and had an appointment to go look at houses with a realtor that afternoon. (Remember how I said that I don't like surprises - and I like to know what to expect? How I must amuse God sometimes!) Needless to say, I was probably more shocked than anyone at the sudden change in direction.

In my first few days, I was reassured by my realtor and my mortgage guy that if I found a house for sale under normal circumstances by the end of June and had an accepted offer, I could still be moving in August 1st and settled by the time school started. My realtor cautioned me against considering some houses on the list of sales within my price range because they were short sales, whose names are deceptive as they're anything BUT short. Ahem. Yep, you've got it. Despite my adament refusal to consider a short sale because it did not match MY timing, which house did I ultimately grow to love and put an offer in on ? Of course! A short sale.

With an accepted offer from the seller on June 17th, I settled in for a wait that is still not over - you see, the long part of the process is waiting for her bank, investor, etc. to get things all in order regarding any funds she may have available, the comparable prices of homes in the area, and so many other things - and only THEN does her bank decide to accept or reject my offer. 67 days later, and I still sit waiting. Now I know my offer is a strong one and chances are good that this house will be mine - but I do not know that DEFINITIVELY.

The time between about June 17 - July 25th was the hardest span, because in this span I heard almost NOTHING. I wish I could tell you that I spent this time praying and trusting in God's timing. I didn't. Don't get me wrong - I prayed fervently, but I failed to trust. It was so frustrating to sit and know nothing - all the while knowing that my apartment lease ended August 31. On July 1st, I had to give my 60 days notice to vacate without knowing what I would do come Sept. 1 if I was not in a house.

Not having a plan was a challenge ... by July 31st, I knew that I would not be able to move directly into my house from my apartment and had to come up with a Plan B. Something about finally "knowing" that much at least brought some measure of comfort.

But the time since has been the most rewarding to me, because I finally realized that my time is imperfect, but God's timing is absolutely perfect. At the APPOINTED time, each facet of my life will be revealed - and God alone knows when that will be. God will never, ever be late in anything. But sometimes I think we forget that this also means that He will not be early, either. When this phase in my journey to home ownership is complete, God will wrap His loving arms around me and walk with me into the next phase - but He will do it in His perfect time. And for one of the first times in my life, I am truly, deeply okay with that. I'm still the same plan-loving, non-risk-taking, surprise-fearing gal that I always was - yet the last three weeks has brought a peace of mind and a calm that I've rarely experienced. What a lightening of the load it is to know that God Himself holds every single detail of my life in His loving, perfect hands.
But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, "You are my God." My times are in Your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me. Psalm 31:14-15 (NIV)
God, Thank you so much for being a God of details. I am so glad to know that You care about every tidbit in my life, and that You understand my sometimes untrusting, impatient heart. I am sorry for sometimes trying to force my time onto life's path - please remain with me, helping me to trust in YOUR time - your perfect and loving time. Help us all to do more of that and less of running our own paths, wasting precious moments, fretting over details that You've already worked out.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lessons Learned

Some time ago, when God really convicted me at a Bible study, I began to feel like this was going to be a huge summer for me. Outwardly, apart from the home-buying adventure, there has been no drama. Yet somehow amidst all of that, God has really revealed a lot of lessons to my heart and mind. I'll share a few of them with you in the hopes that perhaps he will speak to your heart somehow, too:

  1. Contentment and faith are perhaps the two biggest struggles in my life, and perhaps in many Christians' lives. Also, the two often go hand-in-hand. When we are not content, often it is because we do not have unwavering faith that God knows what is best and will provide for it. When we do not have faith, discontent often sneaks in.
  2. I need to learn to ask for help when I need it! This is an okay thing.
  3. I've learned that it really annoys me when people, no matter who they are, presume to tell me how I think or feel about something. It seems to me this is like they're saying they have the "inside scoop" to my heart and mind while I, on the other hand, am in the dark. I'm working at not showing my extreme irritation when they do this. :-)
  4. I've realized that I still have a tendency to want to please everyone, yet the only One who truly matters is God. If I am following Him and seeking His path for me, I am right where I should be. Besides, it is impossible to please everyone!
I am sure there are many more lessons learned, both that I've chosen to leave unspoken and that just haven't come to mind tonight, but for now, those are the ones that have really been closest to me over the past few weeks.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Giggles, Tears, and Uh-Oh Moments

Here are some random moments from the summer. I'll let you decide to which category they belong:
  • Observing my niece dancing along while watching "So You Think You Can Dance," using the folding two-step ladder as her partner. It was definitely a sight to behold. Although I was sitting five feet away, she was in her own world and obviously had no idea I was watching. (How could I not?)
  • Finishing Firefly Lane in the wee hours of the morning and realizing just how connected to the characters I had become.
  • Realizing that when the cats went on their wild rampage chase through the apartment and knocked over the potpourri tart burner on the counter, the counter was not the only thing that got wax on it. Ever tried to get a 3"x1" strip of cooled, solidly stuck wax off a cat's front paw?
  • Taking my niece to Medieval Times and realizing just how quickly she's growing up as I noticed the extreme blushing after our Red Knight presents her with the "Queen of Love and Beauty" sash. Too cute.
  • Hearing a gigantic crash from the kitchen early one Saturday morning while in the shower (with a head full of lathered shampoo, mind you). Then, realizing the crash was one of the decorative jars on top of the cabinets above the refrigerator that had fallen to the linoleum floor. Note: it is not often that a ceramic jar falls from that height to a hard floor and DOES NOT break or even.
  • Realizing in a single moment that nothing has really changed over the years, though you thought (hoped?) that perhaps it had.
  • Stepping out in faith that everything that's "out-of-order" right now in this oh-so organized and risk-phobic person's life will somehow work out all right.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Whoa, what a ride. My house-buying adventure so far.

When summer began, I was adamant that I would be renting a new place come August - whether it be a house or townhouse, I didn't care. But it would be as a rental. Little did I know that God was working things out to catapult me into buying a house almost overnight.

The "how" and "why" is irrelevant now, but suffice it to say that my conversion into the ranks of home-buyer instead of renter was shocking and moved much more quickly than I, a person who does not like to take risks when I do not know the plan, was quite ready for. However, it was unmistakeable that this was what I needed to do, so although it felt like I was jumping off the highest cliff and into the deepest ocean, I made the leap and abandoned the rental process. In a matter of hours, all the plans I'd made for that situation for weeks and weeks were thrown to the side with never a second thought. Wow!

I've no doubt that buying a house is stressful for anyone, but I will admit that I am still fearful about it as a single woman. It's all those things that I know nothing about, that I can't anticipate, and that I can't necessarily plan for. Then, too, it is a matter of always having to wonder if a repairman or whomever is trying to pull one over on me - kind of like taking my car to the shop! Hmmm...wonder if God's push into this direction for me has something to do with my struggle to trust Him - for EVERYTHING?

Here's what the road so far has held for me:
  • Found a HUD house I loved. Bid on it. Came in 2nd place by $863 and was devastated.
  • Found another house I liked - this time a short sale (where the seller is going to have to sell it for less than they owe). Why can't I find and fall in love with NORMAL homes for sale??
  • Made an offer on the short sale house. The seller accepted on June 17th. Still waiting to hear from her bank/lender on my offer since they're the ones who really matter in the deal. Suffice it to say that there is nothing "short" about a short sale. This is the long part of the process ... once the bank and I have an executed contract, I should be closing within a month. Please pray with me that this part of the process comes to an end quickly!
  • In the meantime, the HUD house offer came back to me as 2nd place bidder - VERY unusual for it to happen so late. Ultimately, after another walk-through, I declined the offer. Even though it would have me moved in by the end of August, there was just so much that needed to be done to that house before moving in. It was a tough decision to make as this was really the first house I fell in love with, but it was the right choice.
  • Turned in my 60 days notice at my apartments. My lease is up August 31st, and I am required to notify them in writing 60 days before if I didn't plan to renew (so by July 1). I am taking a leap of faith here, because I have no guarantees that I'll be able to move into my new house by then, but staying here any longer is NOT an option. I am very ready to be out of this management and complex. Love the apartment layout, but everything else has just become a miserable situation. So, I turned in my notice. We'll see what happens!
  • Listened to WAY more helpful advice than my brain could possibly hold. Everybody has an opinion, and everybody wants you to hear it - and some want you to agree with every opinion they have!
  • Began packing, packing, packing. I am NOT a last minute person and have been packing as many boxes as I can ahead of time so I don't feel a crunch in August, especially given that I'll be back to work then.
  • Started considering a "contingency plan" for what to do if my lease ends and I have not yet closed on my new house. Scary stuff! But, planning for possibilities tends to make me feel better about it.
  • After taking everything off my walls, I spackled and painted all the nail holes in the walls (with some help from my eager niece while she visited). It's amazing how just that one act can make me feel like my time in this place is actually close to an end.
  • Cleaned my bathroom from top to bottom, including baseboards and all that grout. Note to self: never, never, never live in a place with carpeting in the bathroom again. Even if you are a fastidious cleaner and organizer like I am, still, it is gross. (Yes, I did go look at the pictures for the house I like. Tile. I'm safe.)
  • Finally found the right stove drip pans for my stovetop, because I am NOT going to let the apartment management charge me $20 PER pan (yes, you read that right) for a set that only cost $10. Woo hoo!
  • Watched my 2 cats observe all the packing and cleaning with great curiosity, mixed with a little suspicion. Who knew it was so fun to create-your-own chase path through all the boxes and such?
So that's where things stand at the moment. I am truly ready to hear back from the seller's bank/lender about my offer. I know they've finished the broker price opinion, which I can only assume is a good thing.

If you will, please pray for me on the following:
  • That I have an executed contract before July 31 so that I can hopefully be closed and moved by August 31.
  • That I don't have to store all my things and camp out with friends during any "interim" time. Though I know I have some willing friends, it would mean not just storing my things, but also rerouting mail and, most of all, taking my cats up to Amarillo to be with my parents for however long. Not only do I not want to be without them, but it's also two long weekend trips during a time frame that I really can't afford to be gone all weekend.
  • That I will remain feeling the same peace I've felt the last two weeks, despite the concerns about the timing and everything.
I'll keep you all updated as things develop!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Once Upon a Summer...

So I realized tonight that it has been over a month since I have posted anything, and what I did post was written during a really rough patch of time. Sorry about that, friends!

Summer has marched on and now, here we are, over halfway through it and I haven't yet caught my breath. Unbelievable to think that a month from tomorrow is my first "official" day back to work for our staff retreat. (BTW, if I hear any snide comments about teachers getting summers off, I will probably vomit. Repeatedly. If you only knew.)

Still, it's been a good summer - though fast and right now, HOT. I didn't plan any big trips this summer, which is OK with me. Sometimes it's just better to stay put. Maybe next summer! Not necessarily in sequential order, summer thus far has included:
  • A relatively sudden decision to buy a house. Oh my! I started the summer planning to move to a new rental situation by summer's end, but my course changed direction quickly and dramatically. Update post on that to come in the next day or two.
  • Administering Credit By Exam & Exam of Acceleration to students - I get the CBE for older kids, but why, WHY try to skip a trade early on? As an upper elementary teacher, I don't get it.
  • Saw lots of good movies, some with friends and some catching up at home!
  • Lots of great catch-up lunches and dinners with friends I don't see nearly often enough!
  • Dogsat and/or housesat for a couple of different people. Fun times!
  • Welcomed my parents into town and with them, worked at the Youth Evangelism Conference, where we've been working for about 20 years! Not only is it a great time to see my parents; it's also a great time to see old friends who are almost like family.
  • On the same weekend, saw my brother-in-law, sister, and niece as they drove up to send my niece back home with my parents for a week.
  • The next week, picked my niece up at the airport for a week with her aunt! We did SO much and had a blast together: American Girl Store, Studio Movie Grill, Ice Age 3, Hannah Montana Movie, Medieval Times, PJ/Movie day, Barbies, painting pottery, magic tricks, and more!
  • Read lots of great books! I love summer reading.
  • Reformatted my PC. Had to be done - that's all I can say about that. But, glad it's done now.
  • Took my vacuum cleaner apart until I found the clog that was keeping it from working. Yay, me!
  • Tried desperately to begin catching up on reading magazines. I subscribe, and then never read them. I have stowed them away until they're too numerous to conquer. I'm trying though.
  • Tried to stay cool in this horrible heat! If it's like this already, August scares me!
  • Watched way too much TV.
  • FINALLY joined the ranks of iPhone addicts. Why did I wait so long? Yet another technology addiction for me to add to the list.
  • Went walking with a friend from work as often as our schedules would allow - I have enjoyed that time! We have had a couple of weeks of schedule conflicts, but I have been trying to walk event when we couldn't.
I think that's about it. There could be more, but it's escaping me at the moment!!

Soon to come - some laughs and uh-ohs from the summer, and a house-buying update!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday Night Confession

Yes, it has been a long time. I've gotten a few emails wondering. Oops! More than five weeks since I have posted to this blog, and if I am honest with you, actually much longer than that. (That is because I have to "fess up" that the last three weeks of entries were saved in bulk one Saturday when I had some time and set to auto-post. Sorry about that.)

I could tell you that the past 5-8 weeks has been chaotic. This would be true. Unfortunately, it would not be the real reason I haven't posted. There are many people who live lives far busier than my own who still manage to post regularly and integrate it into their daily lives.

So while I am confessing, I might as well be real with you here....

1. I haven't posted because I haven't felt like I really had anything interesting to say.
2. I have become a stubbornly independent person (not always a good thing) - those of you who knew me as a teenager would probably be surprised at how rarely I talk about anything serious with people, even when I know it would be a good thing.
3. I adore writing. Sometimes the easiest and best way for me to think through something is to write it out.
4. Because of #2 & #3, blogging feels at times like I am opening up my heart and soul for everybody to see and that's not exactly a comfortable feeling when I make a habit of not doing that, even when I could/should.
5. Around the time that I dropped off, work got busy. However, I was also involved in a Bible study where God really managed to convict me and batter away at my heart in a profound way. I am still seeking to listen to all that He was/is trying to reveal.
6. That time began with nothing but questions upon questions upon questions. How could I put those here? The only thing harder than sharing so openly is admitting that not only do I not have all the answers, at that particular moment, I didn't have ANY of them.

So, that's it folks. The battered, convicted, and absent heart that rests before you on this page. Now don't feel hurt or think I am suffering, because what God has been revealing to me is a good thing. It's a grand and life-changing thing. It has not come easily, though - it's brought many tears and more than a few humbling moments. It has challenged me to my core. But in it all, I have such a peace in knowing that God holds my every moment in His hands. Even more, God has loved, forgiven, and sought me out! How miraculous is that!!!

If I didn't know it before, this week has proven to me that God is doing a great thing, because I've been under attack with a couple of huge circumstances. Nothing dire or tragic, but certainly ones that I know are re-introduced with the intent to sidetrack me and get my focus off of Christ.

We all have defining moments ... the past two months will certainly be one of mine. Today I could not put any words to it that would do it justice. Someday, perhaps. Until then, I am resting in the faithful hands of my Father and trying not to figure it all out on my own. His answers are so much better. :-)

Until we meet again on these pages, know that I pray for each person who visits these pages - in fact, sometimes I wish there was a higher purpose for these pages like sharing your prayer requests with everyone. May God reveal to you the power of His grace, forgiveness, and love in a mind-blowing way today!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009