Category Archives: Places I Go
maps of my world
I had always been able to make rent on my apartment during these 3+ years of unemployment, but the time came this past March when I certain that I shouldn’t renew. During the two previous renewal periods I’d felt confident that I was to stay in the lease and trust God to provide each month’s expenses. And He did provide! But this year I knew it was time to move on.
At the time I was still partially employed as a website content manager and that monthly stipend covered 80% of my rent. But I sensed this job would soon be off the table, and with no new leads on other employment, my future income looked very bleak. Much prayer confirmed that it was time to find a new place to live – and this time I needed to find a way to live within my means, insignificant as they were. I submitted a move-out notice for May 31st.
As only God can, the next two months brought provision after provision. Within the first week, I received an unexpected phone call from a personnel agency that I’d thought was closed to me, and a couple weeks later I was working 30-hour weeks for a Christian organization. Though the salary did not cover cost of a new living space, I’ve seen God work with much less, so I proceeded with the packing process.
By the end of May I was shoulder-deep in boxes bound for storage, piles of paper to be recycled, and stacks of items for giving away. I spent every free moment purging 20 years of my life and 8 years of accumulated “stuff” in order to fill a 5’x10′ storage unit (the only one I could afford). As the days progressed I became less attached to things and more willing to toss them aside. While I hoped to be in a new place by end of summer, I packed up my life on the assumption that I was heading to a homeless shelter on June 1st.
God has a crazy great way of waiting till the last minute to reveal His plans to me, so it was nearly the end of May before I received a phone call that changed my “plans” once again. An acquaintance of my parents agreed to let me stay in a garage apartment used for visiting missionaries in need of a temporary home. And, just as God always works things out, I didn’t have to pay living expenses throughout the summer. It turned out to be the greatest of all blessings when my health issues became debilitating and my job could not be maintained. I shouldn’t be amazed – though I always am – how God makes provision for a future that I could never predict.
Saying goodbye to a home is never easy, and this 8-year residence was the longest I’d had since moving from my parents’ home. It was only the second time in my life I’d felt fully independent, fully adult. That feeling waned a lot as I became more emotionally dependent on my family and financially dependent on workforce assistance, but the majority of my time in this 700-square-foot flat was filled with great memories and easy circumstances.
On the day my family helped move the bulk of items to my storage unit, I stood beside my parents’ truck and thanked them for their continual help. As they drove away and I walked up the hill to my building, I felt months of suppressed emotion welling up in my throat. Tears formed at the corners of my eyes, and I could not have spoken to anyone. It was the first sense I’d had of finality. Despite all the prior weeks of packing and sorting, it was only in that instant when I felt the sadness of leaving. In that moment, my life was taking a turn down an unknown path.
I’m still walking blindly, but I fully trust God for direction. I trust that it will be revealed to me at the exact right time. It’s this faith that carries me through, but it’s a Great Hope that makes me keep searching. Moving from this place of comfort is just one more chapter in a long life of learning how God works, who He is, and who He created me to be.
Throughout this month I’m participating in 31 Days, a challenge issued by The Nester to post on your blog each day in October. If you’ve missed any of my 31-day Blogging Catch-Up, you can see a list of the posts on this index page. You can also receive new posts via email by completing the form below.
Growing up in the Dallas area meant a yearly visit to the State Fair of Texas each fall. As a child I was even privileged to have an annual school holiday and free ticket to attend on “Fair Day.” My parents made sure that their daughters’ tickets did not go to waste, and we had a regular family outing to Fair Park in mid-October each year. I have only a few memories from those childhood days, but I do recall the feelings of thrill, wide-eyed excitement, and some boredom when we were forced to spend far too much time walking through the Creative Arts competition submissions. The few memories I do have involve deep-fried fair foods and loads of vendor booths hawking their latest and greatest products. This was the seventies, so infomercials did not exist and the products were truly enticing to a fair-goer. My parents enjoyed these booths the most, so we spent much of our day in those buildings, listening to sales pitches and enjoying free samples. And each year my folks looked forward to returning to the Fair just to restock some of the items they had previously purchased. Once upon a time, the State Fair of Texas equaled the Home Shopping Network in my eyes. But I loved it all the same.
Schools stopped handing out free tickets by the time I began adolescence, but I did get to return to the Fair a few more times in the following years. I most recall a visit with my best friend Valerie when we were freshmen in high school. This was my first time to tour the grounds “on my own,” and I took advantage of the freedom by spending as much time as possible in the Midway. Though the Fair has permanent rides, my sisters and I were never allowed to ride very many of them because they were generally considered unsafe. They are, in fact, just carnival rides, and a much safer option was just down the highway at Six Flags. But a child wants what a child wants, and when finally I had the freedom to roam the Fair on my own, I wanted to ride the Midway rides. That particular day with Val, spending all of our money on cheap thrill rides and rigged carnival games, has always been my personal measure for a good State Fair adventure. That memory has grown in my mind through the years because it was my last visit before moving out of the region. Our Fair adventures became less frequent after that.
In October of 2011, I was finally able to return. I can’t even recall when last I was there for the State Fair event, though it was within the past decade. But this time I went with my friend Mere and had a similar experience to that day with Valerie: I saw the Fair through different eyes. Several times I found myself surprised at the smallness of the fairgrounds, as they had always seemed so vast before, and I realized also that I had never even visited some of the standard exhibits in years past. Mere had her own agenda for the day, having attended the Fair almost yearly since moving to Dallas, and she introduced me to areas that I’d never given any thought before. Because of her knowledge and research, we were able to walk through the Food building right at free sample time, and we also strolled through the special exhibit celebrating Texas’s 125 year anniversary, which featured artifacts from Texas history. I might have never done either of those things on my own. Likewise, I made Mere join me in the Auto exhibit despite her lack of interest; I’m certain my visit would not have felt complete without walking through and checking out all the bright and shiny new vehicles for 2012. It’s just something my dad always wanted to do, so in my mind it’s become intrinsically linked to the State Fair. Thankfully, both Mere and I agreed on one thing: the food. No visit is complete without a deep-fried Fletcher’s Corn Dog and tart-sweet freshly-squeezed lemonade. I also had to stop for a sausage-on-a-stick before day’s end, though Mere was more partial to deep-fried cookie dough. Regardless of what else happens on a visit to the Texas State Fair, it is simply not complete without partaking in these ridiculous (and delicious) foods.
There is more to do at the Fair than a single day would allow (if you are taking time to really explore, that is), but I had one single purpose on this particular visit. In all the years I’ve been to the Fair I have never taken a ride on the giant ferris wheel. This year I vowed to make that happen, even great cost to my limited funds. We planned the entire day around this one event so that I could be on the ferris wheel as the sun was setting over Dallas. From above the fairgrounds you can see the full expanse of the city, and I was determined to get some photos. Our ride to the top occurred at the exact right moment, allowing for a series of breathtaking photos and an even more thrilling experience. Nothing else could have made this day any better. And the blessing came in being able to share it all with my good friend Mere.
Now, of course, I can’t wait to return again this year. I think I’ll try to save some money and do the Midway this time. Surely those carnival rides are better than they seem, right?
Take a look at my complete State Fair of Texas photo gallery for 2011…