Thursday, September 15, 2011

Looking Back -- And Forward

(Our garage from my upstairs window. I'm always reminded of the little house on the prairie, the original one from the book. I imagine Pa holding Laura up to the window to see the coyotes at night ... and smile...)


"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths."  ... Proverbs 3:5,6

I've been thinking about that verse (and similar ones) lately and how God's timing is always so perfect and hindsight really is quite clear, indeed. I mean, for 14 years here in New York Tom and I were happy in the suburbs, but then zap! It's like Grace packed up, went to the airport and flew away. Then after her departure, uh-oh. The suburbs felt cramped and noisy and downright uncomfortable.

So in the midst of the discomfort (and Grace's being gone), Tom and I sold our suburb house and moved into an apartment, awaiting further instructions from God. Our plan was for Tom to get an out-of-state job, yet we didn't sit there and try to force any plan or figure things out late into the night. We didn't make pro and con lists nor did we worry. No, we just enjoyed apartment life where livin' was easy, especially with the return of Grace (!) and waited for some kind of direction from God.

A few months later we set aside our ideas of moving out-of-state and rather idly began looking at local real estate, instead. And alas! A couple weeks later we saw a 4-acre farm for sale not too far away and suddenly we thought, "Every weekend we drive out to the countryside, so why not move out there, especially before we get too old? Why not finally do this thing which we've talked about doing for years?"

Suddenly, it was as though this Plan B just dropped from the sky.

Well, two weeks later we found a tiny farm, the sale went smoothly and suddenly we found ourselves living our long-held farm dreams. Although, the farm came with plenty of not-so-dreamy aspects. Er hem. Tom and I had to practically learn to communicate and work together all over again (after 30 years!), but throughout the ordeal we learned a whole lot, not only about farming, but about ourselves (as in, we weren't as angelic as we'd believed ourselves to be. Especially me. heh.).

But mostly, Life was good and it scares me just to consider what would have happened if we'd followed our own out-of-state-something-else plans? If we'd done what made much sense to our heads? (Shiver.)

Then two years (and three summers) later, Tom lost his job. Wow. Naomi moved back home, too, but that thing about Tom's job loss was enormous, a real shock, and what followed were months of making huge adjustments. And yet? With Grace around, we managed. I even recall thinking the following January, "Wow! Usually by January's end, I'm sick of winter and pining for Spring. But this January, I feel great."

But then came February.

Gah. Grace left for the airport again (it seemed) and what followed were 4 months of struggle. Hard times, deaths, one after another. Even  when Springtime came again with all our pretty, green acres, hundreds of trees, my dreamed-about-for-years patio and everything else I'd ever wanted in a farm--even then--I couldn't even make myself appreciate any of it. Everything felt flat. Stale. Vanilla-ish.

The joy of country life was gone. So we talked about making long-procrastinated changes to the farm and then selling the following year, and again, began speaking of moving out-of-state.

But while I  wearily mowed the lawn one hot May afternoon, I thought, "Oh my goodness. I physically just cannot do all this mowing or gardening for another 6 months!" It was a scary feeling, actually. My whole life, I've physically been up for any challenge. (Trust me, I'm grateful.)

And that's when I heard a still, small voice inside me say, "Just how bad does it have to get? Why not put the farm up for sale this year instead of next?"

Wow. As they say, "and that made all the difference." We spent the next two weeks finishing a few projects around the house (but not nearly all the ones we'd planned to). We put the house up for sale and it sold in four days. A couple glitches came along, but the seller wanted the house so badly that she made certain sacrifices in order to get it.

And it took us the full three weeks of our contract to find our new house, but we found it, here where our love for the suburbs has returned. And it now belongs to us--no more house payments, which made this a good financial move since Tom still has no job and will probably need to go on disability when the unemployment checks run out.

And that's another thing--physically, Tom has been struggling more than ever these past few months, so I'm seeing his being downsized as God's timing, as well. God gave him a break just before he needed it, also giving us plenty of adjustment time before we moved here to our new, smaller home.

And the whole timing of living on the farm! Those three years were the perfect window for that. Had we waited, we'd have had a shorter time there--had we waited longer it would have been an impossibility because of Tom's not having a job, nor having the strength to run the place. And for the rest of our days? We'll never have to wonder, "What if we had...?" For we did.

Why did I write all this out? To get it all straight inside my head. I mean, it's pretty clear now --hindsight being 20/20 and all--yet it certainly was not all crystal clear while it was happening! Heavens, no. But that's why trust in God's leading is so comforting, especially there in the middle of the foggy patches when you know He's walking beside you, even if He's kinda hazy-looking.

Yet I also wrote this to remind myself that God's plans for me are much better than my own plans. He sees what's ahead--I certainly can't--so I'd be wise to wait for His directions, to follow His leading, rather than thinking (even subconsciously), "I won't get what I really want if I wait around for God."  Running out and making things work, forcing stuff to fit, will only lead to headaches galore.

God's ways will--eventually--lead to peace. And to deepest dreams of the heart coming true, dreams so deep that, sometimes, we can't even see them until God shows them to us.


Proverbs 21:1 "The king's heart is in the hands of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases."

To me, we're not just talking kings' hearts there. I find that a comforting verse for myself and one to recall when I see loved ones doing things in a different way than I would do them. :)


Mrs. Mac said...

It is good to be in God's Grace and not go against the flow of His timing. You 'done' good!

Anonymous said...

Life's path holds so many hard places, but you are right, we just need to listen and do what GOD puts ahead for us to do and go...and all will be well. We wish we could live out in the country too...but not here and not now (we have already lost much of our strength too, plus living in snake is more appealing). We do not know our exact destination yet, but we are trying to pare way down (and that is taking do it reasonably). So that when we do know, we will be ready or more so than now, to make the jump.

Hope all will go well there in the new neighborhood. It is a real blessing to find a quiet one!!
Elizabeth in NC

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

I think you are in a good place now, one you can manage without huge stresses on either you or Tom. (There are always adjustment, of course, following any change.)

Surely you have been following Grace. I also love the way your furniture looks so "just right" for the style of the house and the woodwork...

I love the view of the garage and wonder what you will plant there in time to come........Of course, it may not be sunny with trees all around, and I don't know what direction it faces, but it is so pretty and I can imagine foxgloves and hollyhocks later on, and peas on lattices........But whatever you do, it should not be too much.
I love to think of you and Tom as cozy as hobbits in your new cottage.

Blu-I'd-Blonde said...

I am going through a paring down time. I've recently realized that I won't be using all the stuff and nonsense I've collected. Just today I finally let me dear husband go through files and boxes and he found a lot to shred or throw away. I'm feeling lighter already.

I love what I've seen of your cottage. I have a feeling that we will have to move to something smaller in the near future. I appreciate your honesty, and enjoy reading your blog.