We'll lower our asking price by $1,500, keep (well, sell the tractor we were going to throw into the deal) and our buyers will come up with an additional $4,000 for a down-payment which will make its way to us. It's a fair compromise. As I've been saying, they really, really want this house. Frankly, they're welcome to it.
Thanks so much for your prayers! I think Tom and I mostly passed this test--no one threw a temper tantrum, nobody begged God over and over for his/her own will to be done nor made silly, frantic promises. We stayed peaceful and viewed it all as a win-win situation.
Maybe we're finally catching-on after all. Growing-up. Maybe.
Oh, I have a treat for you today.
I met Cheryl way, way back when I was 14 and she was 13 and she has always been the sweetest thing since chocolate cake. Well, this past week Cheryl became a grandmother for the very first time and so at Facebook (where lovely reunions and sharings of joy happen everyday) she showed us this photo of her and her husband first meeting their tiny, new grandson. Now prepare yourself, for this is one lovely picture:
Oh my. Do you love that? As her aunt (who I've also known nearly 40 years) said at Facebook, the raw emotion shows through. And what a sweet baby.
I adore that photo and I just wanted to share it with those of you who understand why. We all get slapped with tons of bad news online and so I believe we need extra, mega-doses of good news to remind us that, yes, right and sweet and holy things still take place every single day.
Never let anyone steal your joy. Instead keep it, enjoy it--then spill it over onto others all over the place.
Have a blessed Saturday. Let's all count how many things are going right today.
Cheryl's mom and I kept in-touch by way of snail mail for more than 30 years and now we can chat any time we wish by way of Facebook. Jeanette is one of the blessings nearest the top of my blessings list.
I've been hiding a dark secret from you. (Uh-oh!)
Remember when my big garden used to look like this each summer?
Well, now it looks like this:
Sad, I know. And yes, I'm embarrassed to show that to you!
And yet? That's what happens when you become so overwhelmed that you don't even want to look at a tomato plant. And I am that overwhelmed. That burned-out from trying to do more than God called me to do.
But there's something good in all this. I know myself so much better now. And knowing oneself keeps oneself from taking on more than she can handle. Stops her from saying, "I wish I had a ______," ten times a day.
From now on, my wishes will be few and wiser. I'll be more content because I lived-out my farm fantasies--and in doing so--discovered a fantasy need not be experienced over and over. Rather, long-held fantasies can be lived once (say, over a few weekends), appreciated, savored.
We need not own a farm (or a boat, a lovely house or a horse) in order to appreciate it. And dreams are lovely, but some dreams are loveliest when they remain inside our heads.
These are truths I've discovered, ones I'll carry with me when we drive away from this old farm the final time.
We need not own a thing in order for it to belong to us.
You should see my house right now.
No, you really shouldn't. Boxes and guitar cases and amps, oh my! And it will remain this way for three or four more weeks. What a test for my must-have-order-and-control personality.
Awaiting to return to one's real life is difficult. I can't wait to slip back into the real me and the happiness I don't have to create myself, but rather, the kind that just falls on me. You know, as it seemed to, anyway, during my enchanted 40's.
I'm waiting for a fresh start.
Of course, it's not this house's fault that too many cats and friends and yard animals died these past 3 short years, nor is it to blame for Tom's being downsized or Naomi's break-up from Carl nor Tom's mom's heart attack or his parents now spending their final days in a hospital.
Nor do I blame it for Naomi's losing part of her van's brakes last night (she's ok, thank-goodness, but couldn't come home), nor my current sadness--the impending any-hour-now death of my former high school teacher's wife. I've been in-touch with this man (who taught me writing secrets) by snail mail, email and now Facebook for 36 years and it's hurting me that he's hurting while slowly losing his still-young wife (she's around 67), the woman he's adored for 41 years.
I understand you can't blame a house for all that. But still. I need to leave these rooms where I've spent too great a portion of three years, grieving.
Anyway, this is meant as a reminder that all of us go through hard times. All of us bloggers and neighbors, relatives, people in the news and folks pushing around their carts at the supermarket. Nobody gets out of this world without experiencing hair-pulling, hang-your-head times.
May we never believe otherwise. May we never foolishly covet another person's life.
Yes, even in the middle of our pain, it's in giving that we receive. Always. Even if our gift is ever so tiny, for God has ways of multiplying our smallest of offerings, especially when they were the best we could give during our own time of need.
"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pitchers of silver." ... Proverbs 25:11
"And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever--" ... John 14:16
It's official now. I want my 40's back.
I walked out to the mailbox yesterday and the first envelope I saw? A summons to jury duty.
On August 22nd.
At the big downtown court 35 miles away. (I never drive there. Too scary to even imagine doing such a thing.)
They want me there by 8:30 in the morning.
I've got to get out of this. Although I don't have one of their official excuses, I do have some darn good ones. Where they ask you to circle the dates you are unavailable, I've got two weeks of those because of moving-in and out and having to be at a different courthouse to sign final sale papers on a day yet TBA. And Tom told me to tell them I have a disabled husband who is no way gonna do all the moving by himself.
Gah. Already I'm praying for mercy and favor and anything else I can think of. I so don't need this right now.
As I said, I want my 40's back. Like, yesterday.
And yet, this, too, shall pass (she reminds herself)!
Well, I just now finished filling out the jury duty form and I used-up all the lines under 'explanations' to descibe my predictament(s) and to ask for a postponement. Then I prayed over the paper and slipped it into the envelope. And now I shall release the dread, believe for good things and go about my packing and decluttering.
So. Today would have been Lucille Ball's 100th birthday.
Where was I when I heard she'd died? In my kitchen in Nevada, dishing-up Tom's birthday cake and ice cream for him, two friends of ours and a nine-year-old Naomi. They were watching tv and Tom called from the living room, "Lucille Ball died today." I paused, then rushed into the living room to view the news report. by the time I returned to the kitchen I finished scooping the ice cream with tears in my eyes.
I Love Lucy was always one of my comfort shows, one of the programs I'd watch for hours on those days when thoughts of too many changes crashed inside my head. How much better to watch Lucy's crazy antics and be nudged to laugh rather than to stare into space or at news programs and drown in problems, mine and others.
Not until a couple years ago did I realize why old tv shows, movies and books, ones pre-watched or pre-read fifty times, comfort me. It's because--though my surrounding world may be flinging changes--those shows and books never do. Always it's the same lines. The same exact plots. The same audience laughter or dance scenes in the very same places. No danger of anymore unexpected surprises or bad news in old films and books!
And I think that's rather why I (and lots of other folks) also seek places alone, by ourselves (or with our spouse only), during rough times. We don't wish to bother other people or risk their possible busyness or ill-timed advice or I-told-you-so's. We crave sameness so to counteract the out-of-our-control changes. And we just wish to lick our wounds and heal, alone, or alone with Jesus, Who's got the best bedside manner around--and Who heals all the painful diseases of our sorry, sorry heads.
But. (You knew that was coming, right?)
There arrives a time to leave the tv or our books of the hide-away, comfort places. A time to step outside the door again so we can jump back up on the merry-go-round of Life. The time returns to test our healing on wobbly legs, to listen, again, to our teachers, even those whose lessons we don't always appreciate and to care for others who need the help we, ourselves, have received.
But anyway. Happy 100th birthday to Lucille Ball, a woman who did not hide her talents beneath any bushel baskets, but rather, allowed them to shine brightly, sharing what she was given, offering comfort to all the rest of us even now, long after she went away.
Corinthians 1:4,5... God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
So. Mostly, Naomi has moved out and into her apartment which is only fifteen streets away from Hobbit Cottage.
Yet still she has a few boxes upstairs and in our barn--and--her three cats still live here. But don't get all twitter-pated, for we volunteered to keep them until she buys an air-conditioner.
Besides, Sammy, Farrah and Ginger give Tom and me our necessary, daily kitty fix. Holding them (well, not Mean Kitty Ginger) has comforted us since we lost both our sweethearts. Always, we must have cats.
Naomi's coming to this farm and staying for one year was a gift.
Before she arrived, I often wished we could have experienced farm life with our daughter, and well, God allowed us to do that. A bit late in Life, ok, or perhaps right on time (His timeline not resembling peoples').
And although Naomi was gone much due to her busy life, she helped with the care of this huge place and saw for herself its highs and lows, its delightful points and dreadful ones. Our choosing this country life will help Naomi make future wise decisions about how much land is enough. Growing her own food is her dream, but now she realizes one doesn't need four acres in order to do so.
Always, this farm-living was meant to be temporary, just a taste, one lasting five years at the very most. Tom and I wished only to live-out a dream and a few pent-up farm fantasies so to arrive at the end of our lives with fewer regrets and some lovely memories.
And that's what we shall do now.
Naomi's one-year return home--what a season it was! Mostly harmony-filled and dear, but I did miss my private space upstairs (and learned I must always carve such a space out for myself) and oh! the interrupted night times I had. I'll miss Naomi, yes, but not the nights when mother-curiosity would yank me from bed at 2:00 or 3:00 to check the kitchen for Naomi's keys, the sign she'd arrived home--or not. Usually, it was not. Sigh.
Oh dear, I'm almost tempted to tell you, "Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be musicians," but of course, I can't. Naomi is so ridiculously gifted to be a drummer and it would be a sin for Tom or I to ever beg her to become something other than what God made her. Always, we've realized that.
But still. :)
So life goes on, revolves and changes into something altogether different. Naomi has moved-on to a whole other place in Life and Time--and soon--Tom and I will move-on, also.
We create our own pain whenever we try to force any season to last forever.
"To everything there is a season, a time, a purpose under heaven." ... Ecclesiastes 3:1
In September when we move to Hobbit Cottage, I will be moving back to the 1940's.
In the three years we've lived on this farm I've driven our car maybe just 20 times (though I may be exaggerating), but look-out when we move! I'll often drive the 7 or 8 blocks to town and drink coffee at the supermarket alone while perusing magazines. I'll visit the Dollar Tree and window shop through Target. I'll take my time and no longer have to stand outside waiting for Tom to come get me and our groceries.
Then I'll return home with a 1940's lifestyle in full swing and store my extra groceries below in the basement in the cupboards of the 1920's kitchen I'll have created down there. Winter stock-up will be more fun than ever, filling the Hoosier cabinet, the 1800's pie cabinet and the old white hutch, all which will surround our 1930's formica table.
One of the many things I've learned on this farm? Know yourself well. And realize that--if something about your life isn't working--you can usually fix it. Do what you can to make changes and then God will do the rest.
"Yes, come," Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus." ... Matthew 14:29
First, Peter stepped out of the boat and then Jesus held him up on top of the water. No getting out of the boat = no excitement of walking on water.
Naomi just now took her three cats home to her new apartment and I'm all teary-eyed. You'd think I just had a lovely week with the grandkids or something. Sheesh.
Yet this is the first time in 18 years that we've not had a cat in the house. Oh, how I will miss chirpy greetings in the mornings, especially, and holding them mid-morning for my kitty fix.
I'll survive the next few catless weeks. I will. Right? :)
So I was sad about being catless and Tom and I had finally begun working on decluttering the garage/barn so when we'd grown tired I asked him to buy us some sherbet. Which he did, gladly.
And as we sat watching an American Pickers rerun suddenly I thought, "Hey! I can take back my room upstairs now."
So that's what I did and oh, the excitement! Tom went out to mow upon his tractor and I skipped upstairs and began cleaning the room I'd not slept in for one year. I removed Naomi's things (she still has a bit of stuff left here) and vacuumed and dusted and then when I went downstairs to bring my clothes back up, I stopped at the computer for an email check.
That's when I saw it. The email from the Buffalo Court. And this is what it said:
"This letter is to inform you that your request to have your Jury service postponed has been approved. Your jury service has been deferred by this court."
Oh my goodness... I screamed. With joy, of course.
And then I whispered, "Thank-you, Jesus" probably 8 times while running out to Tom where I shouted into his ear (over the din of the mighty tractor), "I got an email and I don't have to do jury duty!"
I ran back inside, grabbed my clothes and returned back to my upstairs room with I Love Lucy playing and my veins pulsating with glee.
And too? I felt thankful that I'd been firm with myself when I mailed-off my form to the court (with my whinings of why now is a horrible time for me, personally, to do jury duty). I told myself that in no way would I allow myself to spoil the next three weeks with dread. Instead, I'd choose to believe I would not have to drive those 35 miles to downtown Buffalo and not have to explain there just why this was an impossible time for me.
So I didn't. Allow myself to dread that possibility, I mean. Whenever that temptation arose I chose, instead, belief for a good outcome. And then firmly chose to think about something else.
Again, oh wow. I have my own special room back during these days of packing, a getaway place of peace, plus, I don't have jury duty. And well, let's just say I hardly slept last night there upstairs, for the excitement was too great.
Happy days are here again.
So let this encourage you. If you are facing a hard time and just hanging in there as best as you can, putting into practice all the good things God has taught you, well, a reward is coming if you keep believing, even when things look ridiculous. Do what you can and then God will do the rest.
And let me add--jury duty is a wonderful responsibility. Truly. But there are times in each of our lives when--emotionally--it would send us over the edge. And for me, this was one of those times.
Having a huge moving sale on a warm summer day is not for the wimpy.
But we survived.
Today is Day Two of our play-like-you're-American-Pickers moving sale. Day One was wild, what with hundreds of people coming in a steady stream (ten or so even returning again!), hundreds of very friendly Western New Yorkers, as most are. Our friend, Donna, helped Tom and me to sell tons of stuff, though we still have tons left out on our back lawn, driveway and barn.
For nine hours yesterday I worked (so not used to that) outside or escaped to the shade, though at 12:30 I drove down to our favorite mom and pop take-out where the gal behind the counter told me, "Don't forget to take your pop from the refrigerator, or wait!--you always get the bottled water, right?"
I laughed and told her, "Yes! Very good!," then walked out to the car a bit teary-eyed because oh, though I won't miss our farm, I will miss this sweet tiny town where people know us by name as well as all our habits, too. Always, even when our farm didn't feel altogether-delightful, our small town did.
Tom and I will need to frequent the same shops in our new community though it's much larger, and perhaps the shop clerks and cafe staffs will know us that way. I will refuse to make comparisons and instead, sow some good seeds and see what comes up.
So I just thought I'd check in before I dash back outside for more selling and greeting neighbors and seeing our stuff fly out of here at record speed in a sort of wild succession. Toward the end I think I'll contact our local Freecycle and tell everyone to come and take what they want until 6:00 or so.
Is it bothering me to let all this stuff go? Not even. This past week I kept thinking that maybe the winners in Life are those who own the least amount of stuff when they die, not the most. That sounds better to me and lately it's been feeling better, as well.
I wish each of you could come to our sale! :)
Often Tom and I have driven to huge yard sales in the country where lots of smiling bargain searchers stepped through dark barns crammed with old junk and then picked through yards full of cardboard boxes and stuff on tables. We've come away with trinkets, or even better, lovely new memories and a rather enchanted old-fashioned feeling draped over our shoulders for the day's (or week's) remainder.
This weekend Tom and I held that type of yard sale, ourselves.
That's what came to me while I laid back on Naomi's retro orange chaise lounge in our own dark barn near the end of our sale, so worn-out but happy, with my thoughts of the hundreds of fun, nice people we'd met over two days. The way we were able to actually give them (I hope) a rather enchanted old-fashioned feeling. Probably thirty people even returned for more (items I flung away for free? ambiance? laughter? a listening ear?), some of them even three times(!)
It was a bittersweet feeling, though, for never again can Tom and I provide that country sale experience for others. Though yes, one should never say never, but oh! This weekend we were permanently cured of owning tons of junk (sooo exhausting)--and earlier this year--we were cured of ever wanting a farm again, gratitude for living-out long held farm fantasies, aside. Never, ever again on both counts.
So I'm thinking never does mean never in this case.
And you know? At first I felt sad about the never-again-ness of it all. I mean, you realize how we people tend to be, right? If we have one terrific experience we want fifteen more exactly like it. Or pick up one pretty plate at a shop and suddenly we must collect an entire matching set. Yet I asked myself, "Why not just treasure this gift of a weekend I'd been given? Why not just memorize it and be grateful you held one such yard sale?
A single memorable time can be enough for a whole lifetime, especially when we're contented with our everyday living. When we're balanced and traveling with eyes wide-open to new magical experiences and not expecting the same Life Highs with the very same people in the very same setting, doing the very same things as before.
And that is what I'll remind myself.
So! Last night our closing date got moved up about a week. Eeks!
Although that means we'll get into Hobbit Cottage sooner. Gotta love that.
But it also means we'll need to be out of here by next Saturday, Sept. 2nd. So guess who's stepping-up her leisurely packing pace?
Yet all is well. Grace returned a few weeks ago and she's been helping me in huge ways, like with the moving sale which is now only a memory. And all our remaining items got carted away--no trip to Salvation Army necessary, at least not yet. Tom and I are thinking after we get settled--most likely--we'll need to make a Salvation Army run (or two) with our stuff which will not fit into Hobbit Cottage. The more I pack, the more I'm thinking still! we own too much stuff.
And for those of you who are also needing to downsize? I say go for it, with as much wild abandon as you can. Concentrate on the giving away to others and it won't be so hard. Like, at our moving sale, I'd tell sweet little ladies things like, "If you'll pay fifty cents for that fabric panel, I'll give you that stack of dishes for free."
Oh, how I delighted in all the happy smiles I made over those moving sale days! The following ones, also, when people responded to our Craig's List ad and came for free stuff. "This is free?" they'd ask. And I'd respond, "Yes! Please do us a favor and take it far away."
Give, give, give and it shall be given unto you. Revel in all the smiles and gratitude and your obedience to God. You'll love it.
P.S. Did you know it's possible to change your home address with the U.S. Postal Service online? Just found that out today and oh! How nicely convenient. Costs a dollar, but I loved the ease of it all. Go to usps.com for details.
Guess who is thoroughly sick of stuff?
Oh, it feel good to know oneself better. Live and learn and make changes. Toss clutter away. And be free.
Two-and-a-half days before Hobbit Cottage is officially ours! (But it's not like I'm counting the days or anything....)
It also looked much smaller.
Oh well! I'll just play up the 'cozy look' and also, living there will be such marvelous discipline for Tom and me after having been such bad kids, you know, for bringing home so much junk over the years.
We decided to take a different route home so we drove down just one block, turned left, and then 7 or 8 blocks later poof! We were at the light in front of our favorite supermarket(!)
My oh my. That may sound like a tiny (or even unpleasant) thing to you, but to us it spelled bliss. For three years we've traveled over 8 miles just to shop for groceries and now we'll be only 8 blocks away, a trip made even more delicious because that street totally bypasses a very busy boulevard. Our own private, quiet, short, pleasant way to the market.
Now that's my idea of the simple life, something I never did find out here in the countryside (though I certainly searched).
And yet, of course, we'll miss our tiny idyllic town. These kind, country folks who walk a slower pace, and how you can go anywhere and be recognized, the sweet town library and friendly cafe's, etc. And yet? From the 'burbs we can drive out here anytime to see what's new. Some of our neighbors have already invited us to drop by to see them, even.
Want to hear a wild 'coincidence'? Exactly one year ago today Tom was laid-off from his job. And now on this day, we are buying a house. Is God good or what?
What a wild ride was Moving Day! Oh, the extreme humidity and heat and oh, those poor movers. All three of them brought no extra water or lunches(!) They said they never bring a lunch, which sounds kinda like either slave labor to me or foolishness. I mean a 10 or 11 hour day with no food? I know they get an hourly rate and their customers want to get the most from their money, but hey.
So Tom and I bought them (and us) cokes and pizza and made sure the guys had water all day long. To us, that made more sense--keep your workers strong and even with a half-hour lunch break they'll still get way more done.
The best thing? Around 6 p.m. when Tom and I were starving, exhausted and drenched with sweat (each smelling like a crowded gymnasium), our lovely realtor-friend, Cher, brought us a whole dinner! Oh my goodness, I nearly cried. She'd made a large pan of ziti (which we ate for days), and included an amazing salad, some sourdough bread and cupcakes with chocolate frosting. Oh truly, one of the kindest things anyone has done for us in a long time. Wow.
The day after, Tom felt awful (later we realized he had heat exhaustion), but we needed one more trip to the farm for things left inside the barn and yard. We crammed our poor car full, including the passenger seat area where I sat beneath junk we fancied we can't live without.
Backing out of the driveway, I stared at our old farmhouse and waved good-bye--with not a single regret. No, only gladness that we'd stepped through that tiny window of Time and into living our farm fantasies. And oh, all the lessons, the memories, the blog fodder!
But also, the bad times, the deaths, the adjustments--all made us stronger, exposed our weaknesses where we still need growth and showed us that for three years we needed the country experience, but now we'd grown beyond it.
In working on a farm, our hearts too often longed for work of a different kind and now Tom and I will return to tasks better suited for our God-given abilities. Never did we find the simple life out in the country--for us, it exists only in the suburbs. How good to be delivered from wishing for 'the simple country life.' How much lighter our shoulders feel!
We're anxious to see what comes next--and so--on to new adventures!