Goings on of late

Well, life here in Charlotte has been rocking along just fine here lately.  I mean, besides the riots and such going on in Uptown.  That has, obviously, not been “just fine.”  A sad situation, indeed.  It makes the sermon from last week (before any of us knew what was about to happen in this city) even more meaningful. One of the points of the sermon, after exhorting us to realize our address is a sacred place and to settle in where God has us, was to SEEK the peace/welfare/shalom of my neighborhood and city.  Jeremiah 29:7 says, “Seek the peace of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its peace you will have peace.”  The word peace sometimes reads “welfare,” but both are translated from SHALOM. Therefinersfire.org explains it this way: Shalom is more than just simply peace; it is a complete peace. It is a feeling of contentment, completeness, wholeness, well being and harmony. According to Strong’s Concordance 7965 Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full. 

This past Sunday we were challenged to see each person as one made in the image of God and to continue to let this affect how we interact with anyone, in particularly, our neighbors.  The church we have been visiting has had a Word from God each time we’ve been there.  I love how God is so personal to His people!  Another example of this was that Josh and I discovered a leak from the girls’ shower before leaving for church.  We discussed how it could be a source of anxiety and worry–even frustration that would distract us from tuning in at church. Josh prayed for us before we got out of the truck and rolled our concerns over to the Lord because He cares for us!  We went into a class and on the power point was the title of the lesson, “Anxiety, Worry and Frustration.”  Ok, then.  Amazing how God just knows.

Ok, that’s enough words.  Let me see if I can share a few pictures with y’all.  Some have wanted to see what our house is looking like.  It’s a slow process, and we still aren’t settled, but we are getting there.  This Wednesday we will get a wood burning stove installed, and I am happy about that!  I think it will cozy up our living room.  We also hired a yard guy to help get our grass looking better and to keep it clean when all of the leaves on those trees start to turn and fall!

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So this is what our house looks like from the road as you drive up.

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This is the side door that we use; it opens up into the sun room with the kitchen on the right.

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This is the backyard from under the carport.  It needs a ton of work, but for now, the sweet spot is the hammock…which I am sure will get even sweeter in the fall weather.

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This is our front door, and that little black box is our mailbox.  The postman walks the mail to my front door and puts it in that box.  Isn’t that interesting?  I have only lived in neighborhoods with mailboxes at the road, so this is different for me!  The kids love it.  They fuss over who gets to unlock the box and get the mail each day.

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This is looking down our driveway from the carport.

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This is one side of our living room.  That little door opening to the right is my office area.  Small, but quaint.

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Here’s the other side.  Still a work in progress, but it is much more “homey” than a couple of weeks ago!

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This is the grocery store I go to.  The Publix is literally going to be across the street from here.  Also, there is a Chickfila, Bojangles and Krispy Kreme across the street.  Dangerous.

So, that’s a little peek into the house.  Maybe one day when it is all cleaned up and a little more settled, I will post some other pictures.  The girls room is cute when it is clean.  The school room works just fine, though it needs a rug.  Mack’s room is great.  Our room is just not coming together very well yet.  I make the bed every day and then leave as soon as possible.  One day I will be inspired to make it whatever it needs to be, but for now, it will have to do.

Happy Monday to you.

 

Home-a sacred place

I still remember distinctly driving away from our Woodstock home. Ruby was with me in the front seat and was playing a song on her ipod. “His Eye is On the Sparrow”—very appropriate. And very true.

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It was a song I should have played non-stop last week when no hot water was flowing through the pipes here in our new “old” home! The hot water heater had died, gone kaput. It was under warranty, but waiting over a week for hot water was not going to cut it. Call me a wimp (I can just hear my sweet missionary friends sighing and see them shaking their heads at me). I admit, I was not able to function without hot water. I needed it in order to be clean, to wash my hair, to wash dishes. My kids needed it. My husband needed it. So after five days without any hot water and a warranty company moving at a turtle’s pace, I took matters into my own hands and hired a plumber. He showed up with a water heater and realized it was damaged. He returned the water heater and picked up another one; he opened it once he returned to my house and saw that it was also damaged. He decided to go to another store and to check the water heater before coming all the way back to my house. So, four hours after he first arrived at my house, he was able to start working. It took him quite a while to get the new hot water heater connected and working. I had 20 minutes to shower before taking Mack to his first flag football practice. But I was not leaving the house again without a shower. Just gross.
The conversation with the Lord was kind of hilarious. I kept telling Him that I was sure He had a plan. I even waited for someone to randomly ring the doorbell and tell me that they felt impressed by the Lord to install a new hot water heater for free for me. I was really praying about this hot water situation. I also asked the Lord some questions. “Did we buy the wrong house?” I haven’t doubted for one second that we are where we are supposed to be as far as this move to Charlotte and the job the Lord gave Josh. God has made that abundantly clear. But aside from moving to Charlotte for Josh’s new job, did we pick the wrong house? We prayed and prayed about that decision as well. And it happened super quick, yet we both felt this was the place for us. HOWEVER, when things start getting difficult, it is amazing how quickly we start doubting the whole kit and caboodle. As if somehow this was in my control. I asked God to quiet my doubts, clear them from my head, and give me (another) anchor from His Word to help me KNOW that He planted us right here in the city, on this street, and in this specific house.

Allow me to backtrack a bit…..When we were searching the internet for a home before coming to Charlotte to house hunt, the houses we liked were either too expensive or under contract in a day! It was kind of crazy and got me worrying. I wanted to be able to move one time—-not move to an apartment and then move again or rent for a year and then move again. I just really, really was praying that God would open up a home just for us within 5-10 miles of Josh’s office. I was a little too consumed for a few days with how few houses were available in this area. I decided to give myself a break and when I was tempted to look online for houses, I would read scripture and pray about our house. Then, the day before we were going to come house hunt in Charlotte, I decided to hop online and just see what was available. Sure enough, this house popped up that I had never seen before in all my perusing. I sent it to Josh. He said he liked it. He called our agent. At the time she said that she was with a client and would go by and see it later in the day for us. However, her client only wanted to see one of the houses that our agent had lined up for her, so our agent was able to swing by a lot sooner than anticipated. She called me on FaceTime and walked through the house with me. Sure enough, we still liked it and put an offer in and then drove up that next morning to see it. There were other offers on the house, but since we were first we had another opportunity to put in our best and final offer before the seller made her decision. She went with our offer, and we proceeded from there. In less than thirty days we were in Charlotte, closing on this house. In the midst of all of that, our Woodstock home sold in six days.
It sounds so simple and easy when typed out on this side of all of it. But in the middle of making high pressure decisions and praying that the other offers weren’t chosen over ours unless the Lord wanted us to NOT have this house, and making all of the small repairs to our Woodstock home and all of the good byes that nearly did me in, life seemed hard.
Somewhere along the way, because the decision to move to Charlotte seemed clearer than anything ever before, I had adopted the thinking that the move would be easy. Things would be simple and clear and….easy. Now, if I was taking some sort of Christian questionnaire I would have never answered that life would be easy for a Christian who had heard clearly from God on a decision. But sometimes we know one thing, but believe another. So, yes, I was surprised that God allowed our house buying time here to be so “heavy” and “high pressured.” I was surprised that we had so many things to do at our Woodstock house that really took a toll on our last couple of weeks in that city.
And I was frustrated that the upstairs bathroom needed a new toilet and that the hot water heater had to be replaced our third week here and that the chimney either needed thousands of dollars of work/repair or we could get a wood burning stove installed for thousands. We’re going with the latter next week. There are more frustrating little things around here that will need to be taken care of, but that doesn’t mean we are in the wrong house. Just because it isn’t easy doesn’t mean now it’s time to doubt that we made the right decision.
There’s this thing called the providence of God.

Dr. J. Vernon McGee says:
“Providence is the means by which God directs all things — both animate and inanimate, seen and unseen, good and evil — toward a worthy purpose, which means His will must finally prevail. Or as the psalmist said, ‘his kingdom ruleth over all’ (Psalm 103:19). In Ephesians 1:11 Paul tells us that God ‘worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.’ Our God is running the universe today, friends, even though there are some who think that it has slipped out from under Him.”

Sooooo, back to the week when the hot water heater was not working I asked God for more confirmation that we were in the right house. One morning my quiet time scheduled reading was Acts 17. I started this scheduled reading back in January with a group of girls in Woodstock. During our history lesson that day I read about Paul’s missionary journeys and one of the scripture passages we focused on was Acts 17 when Paul was in Greece. THEN, the pastor of the church we have been visiting sent out an email. He challenged us to read Acts 17:26 and Jeremiah 29:4-7 because he was starting a series about “Loving Where You Live.” The first Sunday was going to be about your address and considering the theology behind where you live. At this point, I was like, “OK, Lord. Forgive my weak, feeble self that needs so much of Your patience and encouragement and help.
Acts 17:26 says, “and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,”
And Jeremiah 29 is a passage to the exiles in Babylon who didn’t want to be there and were tempted to believe false prophets that said they wouldn’t have to be in Babylon long. God said they would be there 70 years and that they should, “Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. 6‘Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. 7‘Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’ 8“For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream. 9‘For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,’ declares the LORD.

When Josh returned from a business trip, I was telling him about these verses and how I thought the Lord was really helping me. He shared that while he was away he heard a devotion from Jeremiah 29 on those same verses.

The Lord was obviously speaking to both of us. The sermon on Sunday was amazing. We were challenged to 1) see the sovereignty of God in making this address a sacred place, 2) settle in to where God has you, and 3) seek the peace and welfare (shalom) of your neighbors and neighborhood and city.

The message could not have been any more for us. It was amazing how clear the Lord was and how personal He chose to be with me. I sure did need it. And I am so thankful for His kindness towards me.

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

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Settled Heart >Settled Home

Moving to a new place ushers in one question above all others: “Are you settled?”

I have asked it a million times to friends who have moved or to new people I have met in my neighborhood or at church who have recently moved to our area. It’s a logical question. You just unsettled all of your stuff and your life, moved it to a new place, so have you settled it all? Is it all in its place? Do you feel settled in your new place?

And it’s what we all want–to be settled in our homes and with our routines, for all of our stuff to be in the right place. Curtains, books, dishes, pictures, furniture, etc.

I am not settled here yet. And, honestly, it’s been a good process—this unsettling of routine, of familiarity, of stuff. Such a good process.

Being settled is overrated. This earth is not our home, our place to be settled, and I am reminded of this every day when I wake up and need my GPS to go anywhere or when I look at my room and wonder if it will ever be inviting and pretty or when I pass the tool box, open with tools strew on the floor, waiting for another project where they will be needed. This is not our home. Not just this home we moved to in this new city, but this daily life on earth.

A theme of my life has been wanting to be settled. We moved so many times as I grew up that I lost count; from 13 years of age until I left home to get married, we moved nearly every year on average. Cra-cra, yes.

But anything God uses to remind you that this earth is not your home is a wonderful thing. And this recent move for our little family has included that wonderful reminder. The lack of familiarity and routine ushers in a sensitivity to the Lord. I have been leaning in to hear what He wants to say to me. I am reminded that back in January 2016 the Lord impressed on me a picture in my mind. He was scooping me up and carrying me away. Away from what, I did not know at that time. I shared it with Josh and just told him I didn’t know what it meant, but I was certain the Lord would show me eventually. And many times over the past 8 months He has reminded me of that picture He gave me. He has tied the impression with scripture— Psalm 139: 5 says, “You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand on me.” Psalm 5:11-12 says, “But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may exult in You. For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord, You surround him with favor as with a shield.”

And He has surrounded me with His presence. He has been a steady friend and encourager to my heart. I have recently heard a song that has become my prayer—“Set My Heart’ by Vertical Church Band.

When I wonder if I will ever be settled here, I can know that the only thing that matters is a settled heart on God.

Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the ROCK of my heart and my portion forever.”

Settling and Surprise Visitors!

It has been rainy here in Charlotte, so the kids and I are just staying here today.  I worked on my picture wall (you can see most of it in the first picture background) and that’s when I spotted someone walking across the yard in the rain.  She is a friend of a friend and that friend connected us via text, and this new friend decided to come by and say hello.  It was so nice to talk with her and visit with her little girl.  I didn’t think to snap a picture while they were inside, but the cute little scene of them as they walked away caused me to reach for my phone and snap their photo.

She mentioned that she read my last blog post…it has not been easy to move, but it is still so clear that we are exactly where we are supposed to be.  Hopefully I didn’t muddy that message.  It’s just hard to unpack and try to settle in such a brand new city. I really do like it here!  The other day there was a Sno Cone truck in the neighborhood, so the kids and I all walked down and met some families.  We’ve enjoyed walking while the kids ride their bikes around the neighborhood.  I love all of the trees!! They are everywhere and are beautiful.  The houses are each very different.  There is also a  house up the road that has a little library box thing built out at the corner; anyone can take a book and leave a book.  It is so cute!  We went by once already and left a few books and took a few to read.  I will have to snap a picture next time we walk up there.

The girls have been watching videos from Cute Girls Hairstyles and then trying them out.  Today they wanted to try buns.

And Ruby has been reading to Mack.  He does know how to read, but enjoys when Ruby reads even more.

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Yesterday we went out and about to buy school supplies and just toodle around.  We were all proud of ourselves for navigating different places and figuring out the mall.

The kids talked me into getting them new Converse.  We ran into our neighbor, which was fun.  She is a 76 year old lady and so kind.  She walked right up and said, “Well, hello neighbors!”  We were so surprised to see someone we actually knew while we were out.  And we drove by Josh’s new office area while we were headed to the mall.  He has had plenty to do; his days are flying by as he learns a whole new role.  I can tell he likes it, and i am so grateful for that!

And here is my new little chair that sits in our sun room.  Josh’s chair should arrive in a couple of weeks, and then we can sit together and talk in there every evening while we look into each other’s eyes.  I’m kidding.  But it is a great spot for us to connect–with no chairs for the kids.  Our living room has enough seats for all of us though.  The sun room is where we go in the morning with our coffee and Bible.  I love the large windows in the doors so I can look outside.

This weekend I have a few jobs left for Josh–hanging curtains in our room, hanging my chalk board in the school room, setting up my new printer, and picking up our rugs for the living room and office.  I am sure he can’t wait to get home this evening!

Happy Friday!