When push comes to shove

Dear people,

I’m sitting here in my quiet living room, with the sunshine streaming through my sparkling new windows, taking a breather after a seriously intense couple of weeks.  I’m exhausted but I’m also deeply joyful, grateful, satisfied.  

I know in theory that God’s timing is always perfect but I’ve never quite felt the truth of that fact so strongly.  This fall has been busy.  I always think that we are busy but things kicked up yet another notch in October and we were busier still. And through all the busyness loomed the nagging reminder that this house of ours that has come so far was still not ready to handle winter.  But the weather kept lulling us into a false sense of security- it was just.so.warm.  We were comfortable, the sun was shining, the temperature hovering around 80 degrees.  

But then the first cold struck and it was time to do a little panicking.  At least, I did.  We had the heating systems in place but still, due to all the myriad little things that always seem to accompany final inspections, we had not been granted permission to actually turn on the gas.  We prayed, we worked, we worked a little more, we prayed and finally all systems were a go.  The heat began to blow.  That night, the temperature dropped to thirty degrees. I breathed a sigh of relief- but just a little one.

We had heat now, but not much to actually keep it in the house.  Plywood and plastic can only do so much.  We had managed to install most of the windows in the two bedrooms upstairs, so we were comfortable up there but the downstairs was just so cold.  So every evening after work, the hubby and I bundled up and headed down to work.  Not only were we in a race to beat the bitter cold, but we had also made the slightly risky decision to host our first Thanksgiving here this year.  It was now or never.

I am continually amazed at the human psyche- how it can go from thinking a project impossibly big and never ending to a weary resignation that the task must be done to a grim determination that ‘as God as my witness’ (and helper) we will get this job done and in record time. And so we did.  The process went something like this-

-Pull one of the empty, half painted window frames into the workroom and put it on the table.

-scrape any paint residue off the interior and prime the wood with clear primer. Let it dry.

-apply the first coat of glazing. (For those who don’t know, glazing is kind of like clay- pressed into the inner edges of a window frame, helping to insulate and hold the pane of glass in place) 

-cut glass to size (after hunting around town for salvaged windows, prying the glass from the old frames and cleaning it) 

-carefully tape all panes to 1/16th of an inch from the edge for easier painting later. (Each window had an average of eight panes)

-install glass and staple it in place, praying that it won’t crack and need to be replaced. (This happened with about one out of every eight panes)

– apply second coat of glazing, scraping and smoothing it as straight as possible with the special technique your hubby tries to teach you.  This step usually took about two hours.

-scrape and remove any excess glazing from both sides of the window.

– allow to dry at least three days and then sand it.

-prime and paint again.

– carefully remove tape and clean the entire window.

– finally install.

-repeat 28 times

With three days left before Thanksgiving, we really went into overdrive, working late into the nights, getting up early, trying to clean and prepare for guests and getting what cooking done that we could. Wednesday night, while the turkey brined and as I prepped stuffing and sweet potatoes, the hubby and his brother installed the final window for the front of the house.  It was an amazing feeling folks. And the next morning, coming down into the blindingly bright rooms below, I was overwhelmed with thankfulness.  Happy Thanksgiving indeed.  

Now I wish I could say that this is the end of the window saga. The windows we completed were only the original ones we had refurbished from the front of the house.  There are still some to be made from scratch for the back of the house. But the biggest hurdle has been jumped and those remaining ten will come and now I will know how to help when they are ready. For now, they are insulated against the cold and we are toasty warm, incredibly tired but looking forward to a joyous Christmas season in our increasingly beautiful home.  

When I think back to where we were last year, I can hardly believe that things have come this far and I thank you all, from the bottom of my heart for the faithful love, prayers and support you have extended during this time.  We can’t say it enough. God bless.  Now here’s a photo dump for ya.






The roller coaster called Emotional

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I’m not sure what to write tonight, but I feel like I need to write something to update y’all on what is going on in our crazy lives since so many of you keep asking and it is difficult for me to give you a very clear picture as we pass in the hall at church or bump into each other around town.

As you might have guessed from the title, life has been really up and down lately.  I often find myself asking God to please just give us a few quiet months, where nothing dramatic happens, either happy or sad so that we won’t either be holding our breath in worry or anticipation or letting it out in a terrified yell or a burst of relieved laughter.  I’m just feeling emotionally drained.

I told my hubby the other day (not that he needed telling as I’m sure he noticed the fact) that I have cried more in the last six months than I have in my entire life combined.  But not all the tears have been sad.  Happy tears are kind of a new experience for me, but I am finding that joy is just as prone to turn on the water works as grief these days.

Take my dad, for instance.  A few weeks back he had a pretty serious brush with illness involving a collapse at home, an emergency surgery and a gangrenous gall bladder removal.  His subsequent painful recovery was incredibly difficult for my family nearby to watch and incredibly difficult for those of us living far away to feel so helpless and useless.

But this painful recovery was very short lived and he was up and about and released from the hospital far earlier than his amazed doctors thought would be possible.  We know how heartily he was prayed for by hundreds of people and it is always amazing to feel that kind of love and support when it comes in the hard times.

And yet, in the midst of all that joy, it was brought home to me stronger than ever the realization that my father is fading out of this life and that his ultimate recovery will not come this side of heaven.  And so the ride continues.

Of course, the saga of the house rolls on.  This trailer life (combined with a dismally rainy autumn) seems to wear us down little by little so that by every Friday night, I feel as if I just can’t make it another week.  But then Saturday comes and another work party and the sight of those good people with their servant’s hearts tromping up through the muddy yard to help us realize our goal makes me feel ashamed for my complaining spirit. And then comes Sunday and the refreshment of worship at a wonderful church and comeraderie with fellow believers riding their own roller coasters and encouraged again, we find the strength for another week.

We have had to give up on the dream of getting into the house by Christmas (definitely some sad tears there) and are buckling down to endure the winter’s cold as best we can, but I am currently snuggled up cozy in my sister’s bed with the prospect of a little house sitting while she and and her husband travel the world to help orphans in far away Romania. A very welcome gift from my amazing and generous little sister.

And let me just say, all of my sisters (and of course my mother) are amazing women and I have cried and laughed so much with them of late- the last few months having impressed upon me on a whole new level that the bearing and nurturing of children takes a special kind of courage that the world will always underestimate.  Motherhood ain’t for the faint of heart, folks.

The hubby’s business continues to grow slowly, one step at a time and there are days when my patience wears thin and I want him to realize success all at once- I want to see that all of his hard, hard labor will pay off sooner rather than later.  But then I see the evidence of how far we really have come, how much he has accomplished, how people are coming to recognize not only his remarkable talent, but his upright character and integrity as a man of business and I am ready to burst with pride that I get to call him my husband. And his brother is here for an extended visit to help push things forward and lend a hand where needed.  Another joy.

My work at the church continues, and although I am often physically drained at the end of a long Wednesday of cooking for 300 and singing in the choir, they are deeply satisfying days for me and I am enormously grateful for a job so well suited to my talents and one that has allowed us (in conjunction with some very generous people) to finally purchase a new and reliable van.  I still can’t turn the key in the ignition without ‘feeling all the feels’ as some folks say. 

So as we enter this season of Thanksgiving, I can’t say that everything has turned out exactly how I would have planned or wanted but through all the ups and downs, I am above all grateful for a God who doesn’t change and who can be depended on in all seasons of life.

And in spite of the fact that He doesn’t change, he loves us enough to meet us where we are- either rejoicing on the heights or wallowing in the depths and even, in clearer moments, gives us the ability to enjoy the ride.