Encourage one another…

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13

I have this verse on a card in my bathroom, and it’s such a great way to start the day by reading. It has one very simple instruction – encourage each other today. Just today. Not tomorrow, not next week, but just today. It’s so easy in our supremely future-oriented culture to forget about today and only think about tomorrow or next week or the next thing.

It takes intention to only think about today – to only deal with today’s problems and situations. I want to do a better job dealing with only today and not worrying about tomorrow. After all, we can only prepare for the future so much and beyond that, we can do nothing. We can only move from one day to the next, handling one day at a time.

I am going to try to do a better job focusing on just today and encouraging those around me. Who knows? It just may start to change my attitude and move me closer to contentment.

One thing after another…

We are finding quite surely that homeownership is one never-ending project. This is something that people have told us, but it’s definitely something else to figure out on your own. We’ve been here for two weeks now and we’ve replaced this and fixed that only to have this break and that clog and on and on it goes. Add to that the normal housekeeping duties, and we’re busy almost all the time. Weekends are spent fixing and planting and growing and mowing and weeknights are spent just trying to conserve what little energy we have left to make it through the next workday.

It’s not all bad, though, and I know it. I think the right word at this time is ‘overwhelming’. It’s the eternal homeowner’s debate of ‘can we fix this ourselves and if not, can we afford a professional?’ In apartment life, it’s definitely easier because you just call up the maintenance guy and he shows up the next day and fixes the problem. If it’s not fixed, he just keeps coming until it is. No money exchanges hands and you keep going. Owning a home is a completely different story.

Overall, I am enjoying it. I am just finding myself drained of energy. Work drains me so much and then I come home to boxes that still need to be unpacked and hoping that we can get through another day without something else breaking and hopefully no one telling us that we bought an old house and this is what comes with a house.

It’s these times, as tough as they are, that show us how blessed we really are. We are able to buy a house, able to fix the things that need to be fixed, able to replace worn out appliances and the like. We have friends who support us and counsel us, who let us borrow their things, who bless us with just being there to listen. We are blessed with family to help us when we need it in the numerous ways they help. We are definitely not down on our luck. We are simply learning what it takes to own a home, though I would think we’re probably learning on slightly hard-mode given that so much has happened in the first two weeks. All in all, it’s wonderful to be HOME. To put paint on the walls and nail holes wherever we like and take this down and move that and watch movies wonderfully loudly. To have a place to call our own and to care for it in the way we see fit and not in the way the landlord would see fit.

As tired as I am, I find it harder and harder to complain about the things that are going on. Not because I’m too tired to do so, but because I see that our blessing outweigh everything else that’s going on. Hopefully in the next week I’ll find some energy to take some pictures of the homestead and let everyone see what’s going on around here.

my new favorite word…

… is ‘pithy’.

For some reason, I always thought this was a negative word. Perhaps it’s because it is kind of looks like pitiful. It kind of sounds like a depressing word to me. All of that because I honestly had NO idea what it meant. So when someone used it to describe the comments I leave, I wasn’t sure if I should be offended or not. Then I looked it up:

pithy: concise and forcefully expressive.

wait, what???

concise. forcefully expressive.

PITHY IS TOTALLY A COMPLIMENT!!

For probably my whole life, I’ve not been one to beat around the bush or try to sugar coat things I’m trying to say. Diplomacy isn’t exactly my greatest strength. In fact, just this Sunday, I was at church for the Sheet Music q&a wrap up session on the sex series we’ve had at church. Someone asked a question and I answered it in 5 words: “It depends on your motivation” and was pointed out as being honest and straight to the point. Was it meant as a compliment? I don’t know, but I took it as one.

Something I have noticed growing up in the church is that critical or sensitive issues are often treated quite obliquely and in a beat-around-the-bush nature. Either that, or the answer to every question is Jesus. That frustrates me. While I agree that focusing on our relationship with God will indeed begin to wipe out our insecurities, sometimes a more practical answer is needed in the moment. Sometimes questions need to be answered in a straight-forward manner. Sometimes the truth needs to come out as blunt and bare as it is. I would even vote that it’s way more than just sometimes. Most times.

I would love to see more brutally honest questions followed by brutally honest answers in the church. I’d like to see people challenged and then GROW in their faith because of a hard answer. I’d love to watch people chew on a truth for a while and then figure out how to apply it to their lives. That doesn’t seem to happen very often and I’m not sure why. I am a thinker and I like to have things that make me think, that make me process, that make me consider how best to live my life. It’s not comfortable thinking that how I’m living is wrong or the choices I make are not the most godly choices. It’s not comfortable knowing that there is more I could be doing to make my life healthier and to grow closer to God.

Life is not meant to be comfortable.

Especially as a Christian.

(see that pithy thing again?)

We as Christians have willingly stepped into a life of discomfort. We choose to swim against the stream of this world. We choose to be different. We choose real life – painful, gritty, beautiful. We choose Christ. To choose Christ is to not choose myself, is to not choose my desires, is to not choose looking out for only myself. It’s to choose servanthood and self-denial – probably the 2 most difficult things for humans to do. To put others above myself? To deny what I want now in favor of something better later?

Jesus addressed these things and he was pithy in his statements as well. Jesus did not mince words. Jesus cared for this world. He had grace and compassion. I strive to be the same.

Finding contentment where there seems to be none…

I shared about our home escapades in the last post, and despite all the shenanigans, we’re happy to be in. We’re happy to have our own space. We’ve been blessed with this house, with friends all around and yet, I find myself wanting. I’m not entirely sure what it is I’m wanting at this point, but it’s there, gnawing at me.

Maybe I’m overwhelmed by everything we still have to do to get this house feeling homey. Maybe I’m not wanting to wait on things and I’m irritated that I have to because we’ve had to spend money elsewhere. Maybe it’s my job, once again feeling like I don’t want to be there and wondering what I could possibly be doing that makes a difference. Maybe it’s irritation with those who were supposed to be batting for us buying this house and I feel let down by them. Whatever it is, I’m feeling it.

These are the times where it’s easy to slide down that pit into perpetual discontent and wanting more. It’s hard to make the choice to be content in my circumstance. It’s hard to look at the positive, but that’s what I need to do. I want to be mature, to be an adult, but that requires choosing the harder path. That requires setting aside the things I want and focusing on all the blessings I have.

I wanted this to somehow turn into a really inspirational post about climbing out of the dirt and brushing myself off and being able to look into the sunset knowing that another day will come, circumstances will change and I will one day have the things I want, the job I want, the friends I want. However, as I thought about that line, it ended up having a ‘wait for the future and contentment will come’ flavor. The truth is, I have to choose to be content now, in THESE circumstances otherwise I will never be content anywhere. I will always be looking toward the future.

I’m reminded of Paul writing to the Phillippian church, saying that he was grateful for their concern but that he has learned to be content in all circumstances – in plenty or in little, in freedom or in jail, with friends or alone. He is content because Christ is within him, strengthening him through every trial. That’s where I need to go – back to the source. I need to find myself and my strength and hope in the love and life that Christ offers. There is no other way to live. If I live like everyone else running the rat race, I act like everyone else in the rat race. I want to be set apart and that requires making different choices. That requires choosing Christ over all things and knowing that whatever the situation, he’s got it under control and I need to let him carry the burden of my worries and cares.

Easier said than done, right?

Moving in…

We moved into our house on Friday and what an adventure we’ve had since! We were very excited to get in and get going and then within hours of closing, we found our first MAJOR project on the house which yes, does require getting a structural engineer out here. Super fun. He should be coming tomorrow.

We then went to put things in the fridge and found that a) there is no light on the inside and b) the door shelves have holes in them, which is perfect. It shimmies and shudders before THUMPING when the refrigeration cycle ends. Also, it’s probably as old as me. We WERE going to replace that right away, but problem #1 kind of put a damper on that plan.

Next to go was the washer. First it took about an hour and a half do wash one satin bed skirt and then failed to finish the next cycle of clothes. Our dryer also has a wonderful THUD sound every revolution, which is not exactly what one likes to hear when clothes should be drying.

None of our hallway lights work and when we bought some night lights to put in the hallways, there are no outlets to do that either. All the carpet needs to be replaced because it’s either old, stained, or frayed and falling apart. We have to paint the shed this summer so it doesn’t rot to pieces. Finally, pretty much every surface that isn’t wood or carpeted has been painted beige. Yes, even ceilings.

Home sweet home, right?

Now, onto the good parts. We painted the kitchen a WONDERFUL red that complements that beige color, so that’s a win. We also painted the basement Red Wings red and white. It looks AWESOME and completely changes the feel of the basement.

We have a garden and a sandbox. With toys. We also have 3 flowerbeds around the house.

Every window in the house has been replaced with nice windows and the main bathroom was redone and has heated floors.

We have a gas range that I haven’t had a chance to really cook on yet, but it’s nice. We also have a pretty awesome dishwasher that admittedly, takes a while to wash the dishes. The dishes come out clean though, and that’s the important part.

We have some nice shelves in the basement storage room that will definitely come in handy.

The most important thing we found over this weekend actually aren’t things at all. They are people. We have amazing friends who took time out of their weekend to help us move, paint, and deal with all of the things that have been dumped on our heads in 6 days. We have family who is willing to help us buy things that we couldn’t otherwise afford. We have friends who let us complain and cry on their shoulders when things get to be too much and offer comfort when there is nothing to be said or done.

We are truly very, very blessed to have who and what we have in our lives. Even if we end up having to shoulder the entire burden of the issues in this house that we are certain the previous owners omitted, we know that God will get us through this. With his strength and power, we can handle this. With the friends placed in our lives, we can handle this. Are we justified in being mad and annoyed? Of course. For a few days, I was. I was mad, annoyed, upset, frustrated, you name it. Now, I’m choosing to focus on the blessings we have and the blessing we have of being able to even own our house. Not everyone can do that. We are truly blessed and we should focus on that.

I’m really looking forward to the future and what it can bring in terms of growth and friendships. I’m looking forward to less exposure and technology by getting rid of facebook. I’m looking forward to the freedom that offers and the intentionality it brings in keeping up with friends and family. I’m looking forward to simplifying and enjoying this short life I have. There is too much else out there to waste my time browsing a web site that too often is unedifying and leaves me feeling worse than when I logged in.

Here’s to looking to the horizon and seeing the opportunities it affords.