Friday, August 30, 2013

Reflections on the "end of a season"...

What our home looked like in 2006 when we purchased it.

At 10:00 am PST today, our house was auctioned off in downtown Seattle.  The likelihood that an investor purchased our foreclosed home is very high.  

  • Yes, we made the decision to allow our home to return to the bank.
  • Yes, we knew what the outcome of our decision would be:  foreclosure.
  • Yes, we felt that we didn't have a choice in the matter when faced with a financially devastating discovery in 2012; our foundation was undermined by underground water.  

When we purchased this home in 2006, we could not have imagined the 7 year journey ahead of us...  Had we known, we would have said, "Thanks, but no thanks."  And, in reflecting about the purchase of this home ~ had we listened to God and been obedient, we never would have purchased this home.  WHAT?

It's true.  Throughout the years, God has told us to "Get out of debt!"  It's a simple and specific statement.  It's not difficult to understand what is being said to us, but, for some reason, it's nearly impossible for us to make this a reality in our lives.  When we sold our home in Marysville we could have paid off all our debt (from the profit of that sale), and if we had, we would be debt-free today.  But, we listened to the voices of the world around us.  "Re-invest your money, protect the profit made from Capital Gains Tax, you will be better off owning your own home."  And so, we did as the world encouraged us to do and purchased a home outside of our desired neighborhood, at the time ~ and now, we've lost all of our financial investment and still have outstanding debt.  Looking back, we discovered that we learned numerous lessons equal to (or more than) the cost of putting Blaine and I through college (without having an official degree awarded to us).  

This illustration does pretty much sum it up though...  sigh.

Place Your Life Before God

Romans 12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

It is so easy to get caught up in the world's way of thinking.  Even as a believer in Christ, who is in God's Word and praying, we can get caught up when we don't take every thought captive and we forget to look at our "road map" (the Bible), especially when human emotion is in the mix.  And, God always gives us a choice.  We had one:  get out of debt or choose to buy a new house.  He does not force us to take the road of His choosing and He will bless us when we choose our own path to follow (though the level of blessing will not be what would have been in choosing obedience to Him).  He is a gracious, merciful and loving God.  He truly is.  And, He chose to teach us and help us to grow in His Truth.  Discipline is not easy to live with, but it does make us better people in the end.  For that, I am so thankful!  God has taught us much in our time here:

  • Learning not to "judge" people who live different lives than we do or believe differently than we do.  Everyone has a story and God is at work in each person's life.  As a believer, I am to love other people, as God has loved me.
  • Learning that other believers will treat us badly and inflict wounds; sometimes deep wounds.  Revelation:  we are all human and prone to make mistakes and can cause hurt whether intentional or unintentional.
  • Learning that when things happen in people's lives there is often more to the story than just what is known by others or told to others.
  • Friendship is a precious gift.  Sometimes we don't understand the value of the gift until that person is gone.
  • Blessed to be a blessing to others ~ allowing God's blessings to flow through our lives to others.
  • The greatest difficulties can bring about the greatest freedom and healing in our lives.
  • Learning that no matter how far we may get off the path, God provides a way to get back on the path to Him.
  • The importance of obedience.  

I still have so much to learn, but these past 7 years have been an amazing time of learning and growth in our lives.

Hebrews 12:11

The Message (MSG)
4-11 In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?

My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,

    but don’t be crushed by it either.

It’s the child he loves that he disciplines;

    the child he embraces, he also corrects.
God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.

For 6 years we lived in our home, developed the garden, got to know the neighbors and remodeled our home.  We also had many heartaches that occurred during this time too, as never before in our family.  And then, in 2012, we were told by a structural engineer that "the foundation of our house is broken and sinking..."  Believe me, the spiritual significance was not lost on me.  While we were overwhelmed by the great financial loss that was before us, the realization that there was a much deeper and serious spiritual issue at hand was devastating!

We've gone from Bounty...

To Bare!

The countless hours (years) of work, the financial investment, the fruits and veggies and chickens and fertile soil, the wheelbarrow loads of soil and compost, and the harvests...all gone in just a few weeks time.

And, the people ~ one cannot even begin to find words to share about being part of a neighborhood; a community ~ for the first time in our lives.

We have also been in anguish regarding the scale of damage to this house and that someone else will buy it (not knowing) and then possibly cover it up and pass it along to another...devastating their lives financially.  It has been an terrible burden to bear in not being able to warn another of the path that lies ahead of them.  How often I must remind myself that this is God's story, not mine.  

And, once we move next week, it will be as if we had never been here...except for the footprints we have left on people's lives (and they on ours) and our tangled heartstrings.

And yet...  In the midst of great sorrow, beauty remains.  Hope is all around us. I am overwhelmed by His grace in God saying, "Enough and it is finished" with this house.  It's time to rebuild our foundation strong and reinforced in Him.  

Today, this is the beauty I saw in the garden; reminding me of my amazing Creator ~ 

A sunflower planted by the chickens blooms today...

A strong storm passed through the area yesterday afternoon, but the sunflowers continue blooming despite the power of that storm...

A reminder to stop and see the beauty in reflections...

Calendula blooms late in the season despite the maple tree suffering in this hot, dry summer...

My precious maple tree greatly suffering in the heat, but I know that a season of rest through the winter will bring new life in the spring.

Despite being pounded in the storm, the amaranth is still gorgeous!

Revelation 21:5

The Message (MSG)
3-5 I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.”

And now, the time has arrived for Blaine and I to move on; to move forward into a new season with God.  We cannot look back, but we must keep our eyes focused on Him.  He is writing an amazing and beautiful story in our lives for His purposes and to share His love with others.  He brings healing and hope.  We lift our eyes toward heaven and say, "Here we are, Lord, use us; send us"  For this, we do give thanks.

And, we rejoice, once more, in knowing that God makes all things new.
He has a plan for our lives.

For 2013:  Hope, Health and a to possibilities!  Jeremiah 29:11

***Update:  The house did not sell at auction (where the starting bid was $210,000 - which was the appraised amount a year ago, but it was noted in the appraiser's report that the value may not reflect the actual value depending on the basement foundation issue.  Sad to see bank greed, but thankful the house did not sell at auction.  The bank must now take possession of the property.

***Update #2:  The bank did take possession and flipped it as expected.  The work crew even told a neighbor what a bad, bad house this is (condition).  They need work and money, so they did the work they were told to do.  It's now back on the market:  $224,000.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Repost: Blessed to be a Blessing!

As I continue packing up our home, I took a few moments to look at my blog, facebook, etc.  I came across this post from June 30th and it touched my heart again, so I just had to share it with you too.  This is the calling on our lives.  The power of love. 

God Calling: June 30 ~ Understand Them

Take joy wherever you go. You have been much blessed. You are being much blessed.

Such stores of blessing are awaiting you in the months and years that lie ahead. Pass every blessing on.

Love can and does go round the world, passed on the God-currents from one to the other.

Shed a little sunshine in the heart of one, that one is cheered to pass it on, and so My vitalizing joy-giving message goes.

Be transmitters these days. Love and Laugh. Cheer all. Love all.

Always seek to understand others and you cannot fail to love them.

See Me in the dull, the uninteresting, the sinful, the critical, the miserable.

See Me in the laughter of children and the sweetness of old age, in the courage of youth and the patience of man and womanhood.

“Dear Friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  1 John 4:11

As God's children, we truly are.....

Keep your hands open and pass on the amazing and wondrous blessings you are given!

Live out His love daily.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Powerful Blog post...from a friend.

click on link above to read his post

Everything was created through him;
nothing—not one thing!—
came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out. 
John 1:3-5 The Message

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Summer of 2013

This picture sums up our summer!

Ups and downs and twists and turns - not knowing which way was up at times and wondering if this crazy ride would ever end...  Hair raising, sick-to-your-stomach, certain you are "going to die", completely out-of-control and having to trust that nothing bad will happen.  Yep, it was one of those kinds of summers for our family.  

Now, this was not the kind of summer we had planned at all.  We had a totally different picture in our minds:

Quiet.  Slower paced.  Idyllic....  Country living every day.  

Joy Bell Farm ~ from dream to reality

We prepared to transition our 7 years experience of building an urban farm toward building an organic, biodynamic permaculture production farm on acreage...

When suddenly, God interrupted our plans and asked if I would lay it all down and move back up into the city....and I said, "Yes, Lord."  And, upon sharing with Blaine and spending time in prayer, we were in agreement that it is the direction God is having us go.

From a growing season that rejoiced with early harvests due to incredible summer weather in Seattle (although the heavy rains that arrived in June ruined the strawberry crop) to hoping to sign a long term farm lease in Olympia to searching and searching and searching some more for a rental house in familiar Seattle neighborhoods.... Returning after 14 years away.  Wow!  This summer has held beautiful blessings and tearful goodbyes (and more to come still).

Where this has been the norm:

And now, with our foreclosure auction set for August 30th (oh, how we hope people do their homework and discover the serious environmental impact of this neighborhood and the underground water issue and how it has undermined the foundation of this house), we are not only packing up our belongings, but I am also giving away my entire garden.  I've kept just a few small pots and two of my dear maple trees...

This is going with me.  I couldn't bear to leave all my beautiful soil behind... 

Knowing soon, we will be seeing this in our new neighborhood:

And, I will have to trade this:

....and, eventually, this ~ 

For this:

Becoming a volunteer with Seattle Tilth and assist with garden classes (and in various ways they can utilize my service - events, in the office, etc) ...

Plus, visiting local Farmers Markets to purchase local, organic produce

...and find sources for local eggs, chicken, beef and pork

And, make this and Metro buses my main forms of transportation...

Instead of a car trunk, I will have panniers on my bike.

And, I will certainly continue my role in cheering on (and supporting) our local farmers.  You'll find me delivering farm guides every spring for Cascade Harvest Coalition!

In the midst of loss and laying down my farm dream, I am eagerly and excitedly embracing this new season/new lifestyle ahead of me.  And, I am so ready to learn more of who God is, what He desires to do through my life in sharing His love with others and to continually discover the wonders He has done.  

My people, hear my teaching;
    listen to the words of my mouth.

I will open my mouth with a parable;

    I will utter hidden things, things from of old—

things we have heard and known,

    things our ancestors have told us.

We will not hide them from their descendants;

    we will tell the next generation

the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,

    his power, and the wonders he has done.  Psalm 78:1-4

And, praying that scripture shared with us, as we take a big step of faith into this new season of our lives, is truly evident, in some measure, daily!

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,

   because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
   to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
   and release to the prisoners; 
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour,
   and the day of vengeance of our God;
   to comfort all who mourn; 
3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
   to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
   the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
   the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. 
4 They shall build up the ancient ruins,
   they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
   the devastations of many generations.
Isaiah 61:1-4 

Phillips, Craig and Dean sang a song that is still a favorite of mine.  So I guess, it's really time to:  Let go of the wheel, take a reckless ride of faith!

I'm ready!  Are you?