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Homelessness, Interrrupted

Yesterday I shared the story of saying goodbye to my apartment and how God provided a new place for me to live throughout the summer. Until the end of May, I believed I’d be living in a homeless shelter, so the gift of an acquaintance’s garage apartment was enormous! Every little thing was a blessing to me, but the greatest joy was its country setting. My neighbors were horses and chickens and lots of little goats. I highly recommend being lulled to sleep by the whinny of a spirited stallion. This past summer provided the peace that my body and my spirit needed the most.

paint horses

My health has fluctuated back and forth for 20 years, from mostly manageable ailments to fully debilitating disorders, and 3 years ago early menopause was added to the mix. This past June, my health took another turn for the worse when I began experiencing extreme menstrual bleeding accompanied by vertigo and blackouts. For 8 days straight I could only lie in bed. I could not work, and even restful activities like reading and watching TV were out of the question. I had no rest, no true sleep, and the fatigue stayed with me for weeks after. The heavy bleeding continued more than 50 days. My doctor finally confirmed what I suspected: the need for a hysterectomy. But for the moment my only option was medication.

With the end of summer quickly approaching and the likelihood of entering the homeless shelter, dozens of questions entered my mind about how to live in a communal setting while experiencing such a personal health issue. How would I manage symptoms like pervading vertigo and persistent bleeding while sharing a bedroom suite with 3 other women? As the days of summer dwindled, my nerves and fears threatened to overwhelm.

My prayers had been tender-hearted for many months, expressing my desire for rescue while also acknowledging that I may have much more desert to cross before comfort arrived again. Over and over I was reminded of God’s provision for His children. Bible reading led me to scriptures about His care for even the smallest of creatures, about His joy in giving good gifts, and about His constant presence as we walk through every valley in life (and any other time, as well). Songs on the radio described the peace that comes even in the midst of life’s worst moments, and Paul’s words reminded me that circumstances should never change my contentment in life. At every turn, I encountered Jesus, and by the end of August I was ready to enter the homeless shelter as a missionary for Christ. My heart was perfectly at ease, and my prayers changed from cries for help to joy at the prospect of a missional purpose. How like God to slowly strip away the “things” of my life so that I might be unencumbered as I move into a new phase. I became excited at the possibilities!

On the morning of my intake at the shelter, however, I was incapacitated with another bout of bleeding. I was sure I needed to visit the emergency room, but my doctor said there was no reason to worry. The new medication would require a few months to reach full effect. Unfortunately, the morning setback meant I lost my bed at the shelter, and I had nowhere else to go.

It was my parents who offered an immediate solution. In their capacity as full-time volunteers, my parents travel around Texas and work at Christian camps. This month I’ve joined them, blessed with a place of respite while my body recuperates. It’s just another pause in ever-changing circumstances, but I am so grateful for this option. These days are a chance to regroup and strengthen, and I praise God for carrying me every step of this journey.

Homelessness is still a definite possibility, but in the past few months God has taken the fear away. I’ve learned to see my future as wide-open. I’ve come to understand the freedom of having very little “stuff.” Though I still have much more than 2/3 of the world’s citizens, I’m less attached to it than I was six months ago. This is the way God works, and I’m excited (even if a bit nervous) about what He could possibly be up to in my life. What a story I’ll have to tell!

country sunset

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.

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So long. Farewell. {saying goodbye to my apartment}

apartment exterior

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.
apartment packing

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.
living room move-out

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.

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Married to God

Texas sunset

 
It was such an innocent statement but so very true.

“So, you’re married to God?”

We were on our way to Baskin Robbins for a quick Camp AJ moment. I was trying to delicately explain how some women get older and experience crazy changes in their bodies and that’s why I’d had to cancel our big day at the park the week before. But the boy is just barely 11 years old and doesn’t know the depth of differences in girls and boys. He doesn’t understand how “that time of the month” can wreak havoc on a girl. I did my best to explain without really explaining, and eventually settled on the fact that women get older and their bodies experience all kinds of crazy things on the inside and then they can no longer carry babies. Which is what had been going on with me throughout the summer.

“But you didn’t have a baby yet,” he interjected.

“No, I didn’t,” I replied, “And I won’t ever have one. You’re the last of the grandkids.”

Then in his matter-of-fact manner he asked (not for the first time), “Why won’t you have a baby?”

I answered, “Because I didn’t want to have a baby without being married, and I never knew anyone that I wanted to marry.”

And then he answered his own question. “So, you’re married to God?”

I smiled. “”Yes, that’s exactly right. Sometimes God has plans for people that don’t include getting married and being a parent. I knew a long time ago that’s what God wanted for me.”

The boy’s questions continued as we drove to our destination — the questions always continue — and we talked of how Jesus is called the bridegroom and those of us who believe in Him are His bride, the Church. And we talked about how much I want to be well again and how hard it is for me to live with so many health problems. I told him how much I hate to cancel plans with him.

He doesn’t really understand, of course, and I don’t expect it of him. I just do my best, as much as I can, and I pray that the days of disappointment will be lost to time and his memories will be full of the moments we get to share.

I suspect there will be a day when I’m not living 15 minutes away and we won’t see each other every week. There might be a time when I’m half a country (or half a world) away. So I want these days to count for a lifetime, and I want him to know that God does awesome things in people’s lives. Even when some years seem empty. Even when every day is a challenge just to sit upright. I want him to remember our honest conversations and our great friendship.

And I want the boy to love our God. The same God who kept me for Himself.


 
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.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 
 
 

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