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Building a Commune-ity

scott's frat house

scott’s “wcc” frat house

In my youthful years, the Haas’ hosted a party in their basement every Christmastime, spending hours on end erecting the most creative – and often incredibly intricate! – gingerbread houses.  Having fond memories of this, and believing God put us here to share our resources, we opened the house to friends and strangers to carry on the torch of gingerbread house making.

What started on Friday evening went on through Saturday evening, with powdered sugar glue and sticky floors, outside games in the dark and sleepovers.  And lots of tiny houses.

When we moved here last April, one of the first things we noted was how Christmasy this house was.  It’s easy to be festive in this home.  I swear, it was made for Christmas.  It’s design is so warm and inviting.  So homey and bright.

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It may sound like I’m boasting.  But I’m not.  It’s not ours.  None of this is.  It’s just stuff.  And stuff isn’t what makes us happy.  Sure, it helps with temporal cheer.  But when I look around, it’s not the stuff I see, but it’s the reminders.  It’s the amazement at the things that God has bestowed on us for now.  It’s the responsibility to share those gifts.  It’s the JOY that comes with that responsibility and desire.

Every Sunday my Grandma opened her house to anyone who would come when I was a little girl.  She’d cook up a big amazing dinner and we’d all make ourselves at home for the entire day.  The urge and desire to have a home like that has yanked at me over the years, but our old place did not allow it so freely.

When we lived over the hill, we’d talked (in the name of joking) for years and years about building a commune, cooperatively buying farm equipment and land, naming who we’d have in the event of world catastrophe (Gertrude as our doctor, Jed as our gunsmith, Deston our land manager, Jim our vet, etc etc etc)…  It just never came into fruition, but still lingers as “a plan”.

Once we moved here, very quickly this house became an open home to many people.  And so it began.

When Scott was in the hospital, our house was even less ours, and more the community’s.  Every single day new people arrived, bringing dinner or to be with the kids and Papa.  When we returned home, people stayed with us and helped us regain some normalcy.  Since then, it is perpetually crawling with – more oft than not – young adults looking for conversation, a warm meal, a bed-sized bean bag; to work on something, or just to hang.

I thought it may get old.  I mean, we love people.  But we also love our privacy, right? Continue Reading »

Holidays Shmolidays

With no vacation time remaining for Scott, and flying our first year solo for holidays, I was a little nervous as holidays were approaching.  I’m a pretty sentimental gal, and have always appreciated traditions.  This year has brought a lot of change, which would definitely be presenting itself more up-in-our-face as November and December arrived.

Once again, my fears were unfounded.  For Thanksgiving, we had a full house of comfort and familiars.  With Christmas speedily approaching, we’ve already felt overly blessed with loved ones and warm reminders of God’s mercy and grace.

we have much to be thankful for

we have much to be thankful for

We view Christmas as a family-oriented holiday – and it IS, don’t get me wrong – but that’s not at all the point.  Instead, we celebrate the coming of Christ our Lord.  The Savior of this Earth.  The one who became Man only to suffer and die a torturous death.  Even more horrifying, a death drowning in all of the worlds wickedness and sin.  He did that for me.  He did that for you.  There is no room for me to sulk or fuss about my life circumstances – which are significantly brighter than they could have been, considering the scary and dark moments of this past year.

And so our focus this year is of anticipation.  Of hope.  And of joy.  No matter if this holiday looks or feels different than ones past.  No matter what the future holds, or what differences we’ll see then.  May this be an encouragement to you: The eternal hope of Christ’s coming stays the same.  The surplus joy of Christmas isn’t to be made, it’s to accept.

In honor of awesome young-hood memories with the Haas', we are carrying the torch of annual gingerbread house making and a pot o' dinner.

In honor of awesome young-hood memories with the Haas’, we are carrying the torch of annual gingerbread house making and a pot o’ dinner.

We are so thankful for all of the time we’ve been able to share festivities at home this season with loved ones. We are thankful for a season that brings people together and melts our hearts (sometimes painfully), but more importantly, we are thankful for this time to intentionally celebrate our Savior’s coming!

 

Purpose

No matter your “plan”, or where your life takes you – No matter how far you stray from what you expected – there is *always* purpose. Thank God!

“Kepler began making observations of the heavens in the late 1500s. He desperately wanted to be a minister, but he had terrible financial problems that forced him to accept a job as a teacher instead. While he taught, he studied the heavens, hoping his observations would bring glory to God. In a particularly revealing letter, he wrote, “I wanted to become a theologian. For a long time, I was restless. Now, however, behold how through my effort God is being celebrated in astronomy” (Scientists of Faith, Dan Graves, Kregel Resources, 1996, p. 49).”

Honeymoon stage.  A term we hear often.  But I think we shouldn’t, and here’s why…

I recently read John Macarthur’s Found: God’s Will.  It speaks quite a bit about being filled with the Holy Spirit.  About how we, as christians, often ask for strength, etc, in our prayers that we already have.  That the Holy Spirit doesn’t come in ebbs and flows, but rather lives within us always.  When those “ebbs” come, they tend to be when we’ve neglected our Bibles, or have grown comfortable in our own mundane patterns, forsaking or quenching the Spirit.  When we stop giving and seeking.

Parallels.

I used to be afraid that the pitter patter of my hearts desires toward Scott would wane.  That they were built on emotions that would subside in time.  That our life would become so patterned that we’d fall into periods of lulls in our relationship.  That the emotional high that came with loving Scott would dissipate.  Just as the Holy Spirit is in me forever, my marriage is forever.

Sure, our lives have had many seasons of slow, with mediocre routines and contentedness, if you will.  But it never applied to our marriage.  Our goal has always been more.  More sharing, more caring, more giving… more.

I used to feel guilty and psycho-analyze why we never lost that “honeymoon stage” that people – even christians – said most assuredly always ends.  I used to think that the reason ours stayed vibrant was because I knew Scott had this looming medical issue that left our relationship so intensely purposeful.

Maybe it was true.

“Someone is walking on the water!” Sure enough, with robes flowing in the wind, here came Jesus, walking arose the whitecaps.

Peter cried out, “Is that You, Lord?”

The Lord answered, “Yes, it is Me.”

Peter said, “Can I come out to You?”

You may wander why Peter said that.  Why didn’t he wait in the boat till Jesus got there?  But that wouldn’t have been like Peter.  He said to himself, “Jesus is over there.  I am over here.  That is not good.  I must go over there.”  It never entered his mind that normally he was not able to walk on water.  That was not even a problem.  When he saw Jesus, he had such a desire to be with Him that he went.

Knowing full well that he is a flawed man that isn’t perfect by any stretch, I want to share my all with Scott.  My longing is for him.  I adore him completely.  I admire him and respect him.  And I’m blessed beyond measure to be the mother to his children, his wife and lover.

Perhaps it was the more obvious reminder (his health) that he may not always be here with me…  Anymore, though, I don’t believe that is why we are still in the honeymoon stage.  Instead, I give all thanks to God, for I believe He has given us the blessing of constant desire for each other.  Just as He gives us perpetual desire for Him.  Never waning if we allow Him to bless us so.

I challenge you: Consider that God’s desire is for your relationship to be in the “honeymoon stage” all of life long.  Consider accepting that the stage of fresh adoration for your wife/husband may be a life long possibility.

As a marriage is an emulation of Christ and the church, there is no room for finding any amount of comfort in accepting less.  Just as being filled with the Holy Spirit can (should) be perpetually exciting or advancing personally if we allow Him to work in us constantly, so ought a marriage.

How does a Spirit-filled life express itself?  “In psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the father.” (Eph. 5:19-20)

That sounds pretty honeymoon-like to me!  What utter joy to follow my Savior!  What a witness to the world a church is who has fervor for it’s God!  Just as the church and christian individuals should be set apart from the world, so should our marriages be!

Sure, we’re going to fight.  There will be grumpy times.  There will be frustrating times.  But they won’t characterize our marriage.  What will?  The honeymoon stage, Lord willing.

I no longer fear that our marriage will end up stuck in a rut.  Just as I no longer fear that the fire that started in my heart for my God will die.  I don’t fear because God promises He is faithful and rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Heb. 11:6, Jeremiah 29:13, James 1:5 come to mind).  And I truly believe God means for marriage to be more than mundane – even thriving, joyous, and, well, honeymoon-like.

If my fervor wanes, or discontentment arises, it is by my own fault (and wrong).  We pray often that neither of us will allow that in our marriage.  We pray that we will always be on fire for each other.  That we will never allow our relationship to wander or drift.  That life never gets so ‘big’ that we lose track.  That we will always allow Christ to be our center.  That our marriage may be a good testimony of God’s unending love, and a light to the world.

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Today we celebrate 15 years of marriage.  Fifteen years of change.  Of hurt, anger, pain, fear, excitement, joy, peace…  But most importantly, love.  Lasting love.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:2

It is by God’s grace and mercy that we celebrate this day.  Earlier this year we weren’t sure we’d be on this earth together for this anniversary.  But truly, we still do not know the days we will have together, for life is fleeting.  Celebrate every day.  And please, I urge you, never give in to the “norm”.  Don’t quench your marriage.  Cultivate it continually.  Honor and praise God in your life-lasting honeymoon with your spouse!

Not What Is Easy

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Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:17-21

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out. – Proverbs 10:9

“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. – Luke 6:32-42

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:31-32

A Chapter Closed

We sold the old farm!

This. Is. HUGE.

Our God is an awesome God!

In a seemingly impossible situation with our old property, He gracefully allowed us to hit our knees in defeat and re-give our all to Him, reminding us to trust in Him completely.  Not in todays “rights”.

In order to rent the house or sell the property, we had some hurdles to overcome that would require some amount of legal action, so we were sitting stuck.  After a lot of prayer (and admittedly, crying), council from my family and church, we decided to not pursue it, even at the detriment of us being potentially “trapped” into paying that old mortgage potentially forever, our property being damaged and losing value daily.

“If you’re in God’s will, it will be the best possible outcome.”  ~ Pastor Scott.

Truth!

And so we let go, trusting Him to give us what was needed to continue on peacefully.  What a relief!  Tho’ nothing had changed as far as our circumstances, our hearts softened, and we chose to live the words we know to be truth; God will provide (Phil. 4:19).  Even if our circumstances have to fall apart.

Listen folks, God is faithful. He is a mighty and awesome God. And tho’ circumstances will not always go the way we want them to, He WILL take care of us if we let Him.  And He wants our ALL.

The NEXT DAY we received an offer. 

When we got the offer, it did not require a typical Water Flow Test or our septic to be pumped (just inspected), together which would have been over $750.  It did not require a Road Maintenance Agreement or perimeter fencing, both which renting (and most selling options) would require, neither feasible.  And because they were not going through a finance company, it didn’t see the ancient mobile home – tho’ updated and lovely – as the detriment it was for any “normal” purchase.

The new buyers wanted to close in as soon as ten days.  What ended up taking 24 days from offer to close, yesterday it became theirs officially!  The day we would have owed the second half of the years property taxes.  The day before we owed another mortgage payment.  The timing of everything has been so impeccable throughout this journey.

Yesterday morning, we CLOSED on our old property! Our debt has been relieved, our investments paid off, and a huge weight lifted!

People have asked “What are you going to next?”  Our answer: Live as peacefully as possible.  We are looking forward to a few months of quiet before the next big thing, whatever and whenever it may be.

We prayed that this situation would be a blessing to my parents, (neighboring the old property), and that it will continue to be beneficially both logistically, as well as relationally. The new neighbors seem like lovely folks!

We can’t help but hold a very warm place in our hearts for them and their investment into our lives, which have blessed us SO!

What is love?

What is love?  Baby, don’t hurt me… no more!  ~ the Haddaways, early 90’s

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There are a lot of cute meme’s going around the internet about how much love should feel good.  It always itched me the wrong way when people said this.  It just didn’t seem right.

Does someone not love you if their actions don’t feel good?  I’ve always felt secure in love, even when actions “spoke” against it.  Am I too confident in love?

I went to the Bible.  Well, in this case, the Bible came to me!  Our pastor did a sermon on LOVE a few weeks ago.  It was a real eye opener.  I’d encourage you to listen to it here.

There are several kinds of love, Eros, Storge, Phileō, and Agapaō.  Some of them are “feel good” loves.  Some are longer lasting.  All are love.

Longer lasting love does not depend on feelings or behavior.  Our Savior loves us with this love.  Nothing we can do or say will take that away.  No painful actions on our part will remove His love for us.  It’s unconditional.

I want to love like that.

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As one could expect, life (and almost death) at OHSU really changed me.  As I write this blog, I’m reminded of lines from my entry, Saga XVI: Anointing, where I said:

Our faith could not waiver just because it doesn’t go the way we want to, if it must end [to us] horribly.  I remember worrying that the thousands of people watching Scott’s story may lose heart if Scott died.  I wanted to reassure them.   I remember feeling urgency, like I had to tell them now that God is good, even in the bad.  To explain that we cannot base our faith on what we want and feel.

God created this Universe.  He has the power to alter any aspect of it He chooses.  He doesn’t always choose rainbows and unicorns for us.  Does that mean, if Scott would have died (or even that we had to go through that), that He doesn’t love me – that His actions were “mean” therefore unloving?   Continue Reading »

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