Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Land of the Living :: Volume III

I think I knew all along, in spite of those pesky fears that snaked around my ankles, that this was where we would be. It was what we just kept coming back to, this neighborhood with the two houses for sale.

So Cory put in a few more calls and for a week or so there was nothing but static. But one random evening our call was returned and we got the rest of the story, which was that the entire block is owned by La Casa. Those crumbling-down houses up the hill would eventually be torn apart and carted off, then rebuilt from the bottom up.

The goal, the whole purpose behind what La Casa is doing is to take a forlorn, mostly-forgotten neighborhood and pull it back up to its feet. They call it Neighborhood Revitalization. I call it Neighborhood Redemption.

Having been/being a girl who was/is forlorn and broken-down, mostly-forgotten and scarred by mistakes, I know the potential for redemption when I see it.

The La Casa guy said they were hoping for a stable family to be a part of what they were doing in its early stages. I don't know if they are praying people, but their hope was answered with our prayer. God was guiding us right where we needed to be.

And that's the rock-bottom truth of it all. This move has always been more about what we needed than what anyone else needed. We never set out to solve anyone's problems. We know that God doesn't let willing hands remain empty for long, we have seen that first-hand. We're sure He'll put us to work. But all the while, He'll be working on our own foolish hearts and I can't begin to imagine who or what He'll use to exact that work.

The stupidest part about the whole blasted thing is that I momentarily balked (internally) about a new house. It didn't make a lick of sense. I've never been a new-house kind of girl.

God does everything backwards a lot of the time. That's something that I'm learning. He creates us with certain things in our hearts and then He nudges us toward something entirely different. I don't call it a test. He's got better things to do than  pass around final exams and tally them all up. I think He just wants to show us something new - a revelation, a shiny-new possibility. He shakes the dust off our feet and gets us all riled up. We're left shaking our heads, but not in a bad way, more of a "life is insane and I love it" way.

I gathered pretty quickly that I'd be a Class A loser if I inside-whined too much about a new house. We'll figure it out. It'll be fun! A new adventure.

The house will be ready this Summer. We'll move in, settle in, get our bearings. The kids will start school a few blocks down in the Fall.

That's something people around here have trouble with - the school thing. When you happen to live in one of the most desireable school districts in the area, people are slow to understand why you would choose to move your family out. A typical response to finding out we're moving to Goshen is, "But your kids will still go to school here, right?"

This is at the root of everything, because there was a time when I might have thought the same thing. There was a time when I believed having your kids in the best, "safest" school should be the top priority. I don't think that anymore. I'm tired of this elite idea that one thing is so much better than another.

I understand the pull toward what feels most comfortable. I understand the deep desire to keep my children sheltered and protected. But what I feel even stronger is the hope that my kids will learn very early that God goes with them. He goes. With them. Everywhere they are, there He is. I want them to be around kids who are like them and unlike them and every variation in between. I want them to see beauty in every face and to feel their faith grow as they relate to the world around them with each new day.

It took me thirty-four years to start to understand some of this. My hope is that they won't waste as much time getting around to the truth.

 My kids won't automatically go down the pipes because the new school doesn't test as well as the old school. They won't lose their faith because more kids don't believe the way they do. I wish I could say that I came to these conclusions overnight, but I didn't. They came slow and painful over the course of months, even years. It hurt to realize that some of the things I hinged my faith on were false.

All of these steps, all of the wrestling and the arguing and the "I'll do this God, but I won't do that", they have been part of our journey. He prepared us, always, for what came next. He reeled our hearts toward exactly where they needed to be and He planted joy and excitement way down deep.

So maybe God is upside-down and maybe He's totally nuts, but He sure is kind and His mercy makes me cry.

This life, this adventure? I wouldn't wish a moment away. Thank you for playing along while I write it down here. I want to remember all of it. I want to remember the fear and the doubts, because that's what makes the Glory beam down ever-brighter.

**

A sweet reader sent this quote tonight, just as I was sitting down to type. I love it so much. Thanks, Mindy.

“And the only life worth living is the scandalous one: scandalous love, offensive mercy, foolish faith.”