Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Hug from God in the Meat Department

written Sunday, September 27, 2009 3:30pm

I blogged this morning before church about the last 3 weeks and God has continued to work in my heart about my ingratitude. During Growth Groups this morning we were asked how progress is coming on securing more permanent housing. These people haven't known us long but I think that they have gotten the idea that we are a bit more transient than most :) We told them that we had decided to rent and that, Lord willing, we will be able to move into our apartment next Monday because, Lord willing, the landlord will be done with the repairs on it by then. Dallas said something about us being given a discount on rent on the apartment and we realized he was thinking about the other apartment and I was thunderstruck again by God's grace and shared that the apartment is actually $150 less a month than the discounted price on the other apartment and we weren't responsible for things if they broke and it has two bathrooms. God is so good to us, better than we deserve.

After church we followed Julaine to her house that she is letting us stay in until we can move into our apartment then headed over to the apartment to pick up a key from the landlord so we can get in and do some cleaning in the apartment sometime before we move in. We called about a block from the apartment and found out that, though he planned to be at the apartment noon to 9 today, he was still at home because he had gotten really sick last night. We found out where he lived and went to his place to pick up a key. Glenn chatted with him a minute and found out it would probably be two more weekends so we won't get in there until the middle of October. Again the 'Lord willing' of timing comes into play :)

After getting the key we stopped at P&C to pick up some milk and butter and to let Lydia go to the bathroom. I picked up a flyer and saw that their boneless skinless chicken was only $1.88 a pound. That is a great price so I thought that I would go over and pick up a pack to have some chicken sometime this week. When I got to the chicken I discovered that there were “Manager's Special” tags on all of the boneless skinless chicken and it was discounted to 99 cents a pound or less. I don't know if I have ever seen it that cheap before. I stopped and thanked God and bought 7 packs and a box of freezer bags. They weren't on my list but I figured since it was such a great deal, how could I not? As I was leaving the grocery store this song from Paul Baloche and Benton Brown was on my heart:

O Lord you are gracious, and full of compassion,

You're slow to anger, abounding in love,

As high as the heavens are above the earth

So great is Your love for those who fear You

You heal our diseases, You forgive our sins

You remember that we are formed from dust

And all that we are depends on You

You do not treat us as our sins deserve

You will not accuse or your wrath preserve

We rejoice that You have removed our sins

May the world now see that

Our God saves, Our God saves

There is hope in Your name

Mourning turns to songs of praise

Our God saves, Our God saves

Thank You God for being gracious to me. Thank You for blessing me beyond measure in things great and small. Thank You most of all for saving me and not treating me as my sins deserve. I love you Lord!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Adventures in Homelessness Part 6

Has it really been 3 weeks since I blogged? It has been more of a roller coaster for me. I spent most of our first day back in Syracuse prowling the University neighborhood and calling phone numbers that I found on houses for rent. I found one about a block from where we were living over the summer and called the number and the man was there showing it at that time so the kids and I ran right over. It was a pretty nice 3 bedroom flat but when I asked how much it was he told me a price far out of our price range. I swallowed hard and said thanks and took an application knowing that we could never afford that much money in rent while Glenn is in medical school. The flat wasn't that nice. I took Glenn to see it and the man seemed really interested in having us come live there since he thought our kids were great and his daughter and grandchild live in the upstairs flat and told us that he would consider taking less a month in rent if we would cover some of the maintenance things around the house.

Knowing that we couldn't afford that apartment we decided to go and look at more houses to buy. We went to two houses that Friday, one was a "no" and the other one was an estate sale a little farther out than we wanted to live that we instantly fell in love with. It needed quite a bit of work but at the asking price we figured we could make it work. We offered the asking price since we knew it would sell that day because there were two other groups waiting outside to get in. On Saturday we went to look at another house that might be a backup plan and found out that our offer looked good but there were at least 6 other offers on the estate house.

On Sunday we went to church and Pastor Mark preached on "Lord Willing" from James 4:13-16 which says, "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.' But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil." It was a very convicting sermon for me because I had not been thinking "Lord willing" in anything. I had been that arrogant person who made my plans trusting that the plans I made were going to work out, that I knew exactly what tomorrow held. For four different houses at that point I had said, "We are going to buy such and such a house," but my gracious, sovereign God had other plans. We had fun on Sunday afternoon touring the new Golisano Children's Hospital at Upstate and checking out the Wescott Cultural Fair then on our way to a friend's house for dinner we got a call from our realtor telling us that our offer on the estate house was accepted! We were very excited and made a detour on the way back to Joel and Michelle's house to drive by and see it. We were finally going to buy a house, Lord willing!

On Monday while Glenn was at school I was so glad that we had heard that sermon on "Lord willing" the day before and had had 24 hours to let it work in our hearts because we got another call from the realtor telling us that the owner decided to not accept our offer because on the way to her attorney to check out our offer she got another offer that was cash and about $10K more than ours. I was crushed but trusting my God that He knew what was best. On Tuesday Michelle opened up some apartment websites on the internet for me to check out and I looked but did not really found anything in the price range we wanted with a place to store our bikes being a necessity. I went back to orangehousing and found a listing I had never seen before for a 3br, 2bath flat on Roosevelt, the street we had lived on this summer in our price range. I called about it and Glenn went to check it out that night. The landlord was working on it because the bathroom upstairs had exploded and so he is having to completely redo the bathroom upstairs and then fix some walls downstairs so it wouldn't be ready for a couple of weeks because he is only able to work on it on the weekends.

We had a visit from Glenn's Grandma & Grandpa Reynolds from Wyoming from Wednesday to Monday. It was fun to see them since we hadn't seen them in over 3 years. They stayed at a hotel close to where we have been staying that had a pool. The kids loved the pool and it was a lot of fun visiting with them. They even got a suite for us for a couple of nights at the hotel and we stayed with them which was a fun experience.

We went to see one other house while they were visiting us, a foreclosure that was an amazing house for not very much but it was going to require a tremendous amount of work to move into. It was not livable at this point so we decided to say no and say yes to the rental so we could get in sooner. I have been struggling with contentment with the decision to rent. God answered my prayers. Early on in the summer I had said that if we were to find a 3br apartment in the neighborhood that we were living in for less than $700/mo I would take it and live there for all 4 years. God provided that (and we even have a second bathroom!) so why am I so discontent? Buying a house would have been fun and provided us with more space but it also would have provided a lot of struggles and unknown financial expenses and stresses. I think that I am struggling because so many of my friends have been able to buy houses and get this first time home owners credit that is being offered that I really wanted. What is God's best and His plan for them is not necessarily God's best and His plan for me, for us. I am deciding to trust Him that He knows best and that He will take care of us and lead us and guide us day by day as we seek Him, Lord willing.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Adventures in Homelessness Part 5

We have been back in Rochester this weekend visiting friends because our friend Joel's parents were in town so we couldn't stay at their house and we wanted to come back anyway because Glenn had a 3 day weekend and we were hoping to find his Bible that we thought that we had left at church. When I heard that the sermon was on "God's Prescription for Your Depression" and that this weekend was Church at the Beach I was very much looking forward to the Sunday of our visit! While at church though I was reprimanded because I have not blogged in a while with an update.

So, last I blogged we had just found out that our offer on a house had been accepted. We were pretty excited but when we had our inspection on Tuesday afternoon it did not turn out that well. The first thing that he noticed was the roof. On the disclosure the owner had said that 2/3rds of the roof was new but the inspector only figures it was 1/3 and it was a poorly done patch job over too many layers. There were also problems with the plumbing (the upstairs toilet and sink weren't working) and the electrical system (there were scorch marks above the light switch upstairs) among many other problems with "amateurish workmanship." We still really liked the house but our offer didn't really leave us room for putting on a new roof with no real paycheck coming for 4 years so we asked for some concessions from the owner which she didn't want to give us so today we discovered that it is back on the market. I know that God has a plan in all of this so we are trusting Him.

In the mean time we have had a pretty good week. We went to the New York State Fair on Wednesday which was a lot of fun. Glenn had Wednesday off from classes so we made a day of it. I think you could probably make a day of it everyday for the duration of the Fair and still not see it all but we had a fun day exploring and learning. On the way back "home" from the fair and after having dinner with some friends it was about 10:30 and one of our tires blew about a mile from Joel and Michelle's. Glenn walked to their house to borrow their van to come back and get us then they put our tire that we had taken off because it had a slow leak back on it and in the morning we drove to Dunn Tire to get 4 new tires put on. Getting 4 new tires was actually on our "to do" list for last week because we knew it needed them ever since we bought the van back at the end of February but Thursday was definitely not the day I would have picked to do it nor was I planning on getting a flat tire but I am so glad that it happened when Glenn was with us and when we were not on the interstate! Michelle laughed at us that Glenn walked the mile to their house instead of calling and later when we were talking I had to laugh too. We are so independent. I am not sure when we are going to learn that it is OK to ask for and accept help from others. You would think that in the last month and a half of living with various other people we would have learned it by now but, obviously, we have not. 

On Friday we headed west and stopped in to visit my grandparents on the way to Rochester. The kids took a quick swim with Grandpa and we shared a apple pancake dinner, Hannah played Grandma in checkers and we watched the end of Beethoven. Glenn had school work to do so we hit the road and got to our friends' Dave and Hannah's house where we have been staying. It is fun to visit them here because we lived in this house for 2 months when it belonged to Brian and Kristina in our last time of homelessness. 

Yesterday, to allow Glenn time to study for his first exam which is on Friday, we headed out to Hannah's friend Heidi's house for the afternoon. It was fun to visit with them, the girls all played dress-up and had shows and the boys did boy stuff while I got to visit with Leah and Peter. 

This morning we went to North and I was really challenged by the sermon and the life of Elijah in 1 Kings 19. It was good and I would really challenge you if you ever struggle with discouragement or depression like me or know anyone who does to listen to the sermon.  We had a lazy afternoon that culminated in Lydia possibly getting a sprained ankle on a trampoline. I am not exactly sure how she did it but she is in a lot of pain. After that we headed up to Durand Eastman Park to have a picnic before Church on the Beach with Dave, Hannah & Hudson then we heard testimonies and watched 19 people get baptized in Lake Ontario. It was an awesome service. It was so neat to hear how God had worked in all of those people's lives. One thing that I thought was really neat was that 3 different couples got baptized together. What a neat opportunity. 

Well, back to the grind tomorrow. Glenn doesn't have class tomorrow but he does have a study session that he would like to go to so while he studies the kids and I are going to drive around some more and look for a place to live. This seems to be the theme of our lives lately and we are all so tired of looking at houses and not having our own space. I feel like I have cried wolf 4 times on our 4 different offers. I don't know if even I will believe myself next time I say a house looks promising but I know that God does have good plans for us. This song by Brenton Brown based on Well with my Soul by H.G. Spafford is on my heart today and with it I close for this edition of Adventures in Homelessness:

Sometimes it's hard sometimes I cry
Sometimes my heart wants to know why? 
But Your yoke is easy and Your burden is light 
And though my heart is aching
And there're tears in my eyes 

Whatever my lot, you have taught me to know 
It is well, it is well with my soul 

It's not always easy, I'm not always right 
Sometimes I do things that are wrong in Your sight 
But I have decided I'm going to follow Jesus 
And there's no turning back,
There's no turning back. 

You have reached down to me,
You have rescued me 
And have shed Your blood for my soul
And I live now knowing that the sky
And not the grave will be my goal 
And just as in life, also in death
This truth will comfort and console 
That soon I will see Your face
And hear Your voice and know that it is well...

Whatever my lot, You have taught me to know 
It is well, it is well with my soul 

But please hold my hand Lord and hold on tight 
'Cause the road here is narrow...