The House Blessing, Part 4

29 02 2008

At first the painting went fast because I was so full of adrenalin.  However, it became harder and harder to put my paint clothes on.  I also still had boxes of stuff in the living room that had to be unpacked.  Dogs had to be walked, dishes and clothes had to be washed and meals had to be cooked.  I tried to have the dogs out for their walk by 5:30 a.m. each morning.  Then I would put in a load of wash and get some dishes done.  I actually never got started on painting until about 8:3o a.m. each morning.  Then there were days that I took off just to do things like grocery shopping or going to the doctor.

As I was finishing up the kitchen–Maria graciously offered to put the first coat of yellow paint on the walls of my big living area.  I had finally gotten all of the boxes of stuff put away.  I had given my kitchen dining room set away– not knowing what I’d replace it with.  Then I found the most beautiful oak dining room table with six chairs at a garage sale.  I had them in the living room already. The only other furniture in that room were two bookcases, a small end table and my piano.  Thus, Maria had plenty of room to maneuver about while painting.

I finished the living area with three more coats of paint.  That room was the same aqua color as the kitchen.  Finally, I was finished painting. I had been a messy painter throughout this project.  Thus, another time waster for me was having to spend time cleaning up my mess.  I had made the mistake of using sheets instead of professional drop clothes–so when I finished the big living area–I spend several hours trying to get paint spots off the floor.

I had to spend another week scrubbing the upstairs.  I wasn’t going to paint those rooms.  I was too tired.  However, I didn’t want those rooms blessed until they were thoroughly scrubbed.  My last week was full of cleaning, hanging curtains, and shopping for my open house.

Ben and Linda bought me two large pots of yellow Mums to place on my front porch.  Two of my neighbors bought me a silk flower arrangement of fall flowers to place on my table.  I found a white linen tablecloth for my oak table.  I cleaned and polished even the rooms that had been  cleaned in the painting process.

Finally, the twentieth of October arrived.  I got up early to finish all the last minute details.  Fr. John and his family had a delay and didn’t get to our home on time.  Nevertheless, folks kept arriving.  It was a buzz of talking and laughing.  Fr. Isaiah and his wife came from the Ft. Campbell Orthodox community.  A car load of friends came from Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Finally, Fr. John and his family arrived.  He took the opportunity to have a teaching moment to my non Orthodox friends.  He explained in detail what he would be doing during the house blessing.  Anything an Orthodox priest does is like a mini Orthodox service. He took water that had been blessed and began chanting Orthodox hymns.  His family and my other Orthodox friends followed him throughout the house–singing those same hymns.  He would dip a brush into his water and sprinkle this water– throughout the house.  The animals were upstairs in one of the bedrooms.  When he got to that room–he stopped and blessed the animals.  He especially blessed my kitchen where all of our family meals would continue to be prepared. 

What a joy to have so many of our friends over that day.  It was fun to see all of the laughter and joy.  I especially enjoyed having one of my Mennonite families visit with us.  Actually, several years ago–they left the Mennonite community.  Peter, the father, had to learn how to drive a car after having used a horse and buggy most of his life.  They now run a little bookstore that is located in their home.  They have six beautiful children.  What a joy to see their happy faces.  Peter really liked talking with Fr. Isaiah and Fr. John.  Fr. John wanted to see his bookstore but got lost in trying to find it.  I still hope that someday–they will connect with each other again.

It was one of those beautiful sunny days in October.  Everything was lovely and perfect that day.  I always felt that I was given a special time to decorate and paint my home.  The entire time I was working on my home–I had a sense that it was a gift to me.  That it was a Divinely appointed slot of time in my life that would not come again so easily.

That proved to be true.  The week after my house blessing and open house –I went to the Vanderbilt Breast center to have my yearly mammogram.  I didn’t think a thing about it–as I had been in the habit for l9 years of having a mammogram.  My husband and I made a day of it–enjoying Nashville.  A few days later, I was called back for more pictures.  By then, I had already started this blog to have a channel to write about my faith.  By the time I had written the six parts of my Orthodox journey–I had a diagnoses of breast cancer.  From then on–I chose to use by blog not only for my faith but to tell of my journey of breast cancer.  Never could I have imagined during all of my days of painting and looking forward to the house blessing–that I would become a cancer patient.

Life is full of all kinds of bends and turns.  As I get older, I’m afraid to take life casually.  It is much too fragile.  I encourage each of you to look within and fan the flames of faith within  your souls.  Never take the gift of life for granted.  Be kind and gentle to all who come your way.

May God bless each of you!


The House Blessing, Part 3

29 02 2008

I had been very influenced by my Mennonite friends to simplify my life.  I liked the pattern of the Mennonite homes I had been in.  They had one large room that was the central living area.  Then they had a small parlor.  I decided to make my living room a large dining area and music room.  I had always hated the fact that my bedroom could be seen as one walked in the front door.  However, when we were raising our family–that was the biggest bedroom with the biggest closet.  After 22 years, I was ready for a change.  I decided to transform our bedroom into  our family room. 

The other bedroom on the main floor had been converted to a family area many years ago.  It was stripped down to nothing after we began giving things away.  My priest had called me up and told me that he would like to come and bless our home.  He knew how disappointed I was with not being able to move to the country.  I told him that I would rather wait until I could get some painting done.  I suggested the twentieth of October for the House blessing.  I also decided to have an open house after the blessing of our home. By giving myself a goal–I began to feel the needed adrenalin to accomplish my goal.

I found a book entitled :The Perfect Palette, by Bonnie Rosser Krims.  Her idea was to use three colors throughout one’s house that enhanced each other.   She had fifty different themes of suggestion–each with clever titles.  I chose her  Appalachia Spring theme using green, purple and yellow.  She actually had all the paint numbers available through a certain company.  I wasn’t familiar with the company that she chose–so I went to Lowes ( a home supply company) to look at their choices in my colors.   I found a paint decorating station called: Seaside Retreat that had many soft pastel colors.  A green called Secret Garden and a light purple called Violet Cloud were paired together.  I decided to wait on the yellow, for I had plenty of painting to do–until I needed the yellow.

K-Mart had a clearance sell on Martha Stewart bright white paint.  I bought five gallons at $5.00 a gallon.  It was premium semi-gloss.  One can’t imagine how thankful I was not to have to pay a premium price for white paint.  In previous years of painting different rooms in my home–I painted an entire room -ceiling, woodwork and all in one basic color.  I was determined to do everything correctly this time.  That meant a great deal of hard work in painting the ceilings, doors, woodwork in white before I could get to using my main color.

Thus, I began in the old family room.  Each day I would put on my paint clothes and painted until about 1:30 p.m.  Then I would have to take my bath and get ready to get my grandsons for the rest of the afternoon.  They wanted to help.  They had their little paint clothes.  I let them work on doors and woodwork.  I know it was time well spent–because to this day–they talk about helping me paint.  If they made a mistake, I gently went over the area with them–showing them how to use their paint brush in a better way.

I  finished the family room which would become our bedroom in that first week.  I painted it the purple color with the white trim.  Then I painted our dresser and a little bookcase in the green color.  I had put the word out to my family to check their closets and attics for curtains and paintings.  Maria had a beautiful set of curtains that I could use in my new bedroom.  I finished that room the last day of August.  Jim and I moved our furniture in to our new bedroom that evening.  We put our family portraits on the walls, hung the curtains –only to feel quite strange at sleeping in a different room.

The next room I painted was my old bedroom.  It was Labor Day weekend.  My sister-in-law came over to help repair little holes throughout the house.  That was a real gift to me –as that is not something I enjoy doing.  It took another whole week to paint our family room.  I decided to paint one wall the purple color and the other three walls the green.  Ben’s wife had some beautiful lace curtains for me to hang up.  We had a collection of rural country life pictures to hang on the walls.  We moved our couch in this room, along with our desk, computer and entertainment center.  Later, when all the rooms were painted , I painted some older chairs to complement the walls.  For instance, on the green wall with big windows, I have a little yellow rocker and a purple chair. 

I had many interruptions throughout my weeks of painting.  I didn’t always get to stick to a Monday through Friday schedule.  This greatly frustrated me but I kept pressing on.  I painted the bathroom with the purple and green.  The shower curtain, towel rack and towels have yellow to complement the purple and green.  Then I painted my hallway the purple color. 

I finally chose the yellow that I thought would be best with my purple and green.  I chose another Seaside Retreat color–a lovely pastel yellow they called  Sunrise Beach.I decided to paint  my kitchen and big dining area this color. My cabinets were already white–so I painted them with a fresh coat of white.  I had to tackle painting the ceiling , doors and woodwork in white.  Finally, I got to the yellow.  It was breathtaking.   I had an aqua blue color on the walls and it was extremely hard to cover up. It took took four coats to finally cover the blue.  I only used the most expensive, premium grade of semi-gloss but it didn’t want to cover up that blue very easily.  I had one wall that was a whitish, grey paneling that I decided not to paint.  I painted an old bookcase the yellow color to place on that wall for my cookbooks etc.  I had two wooden chairs and a little wooden chest of drawers that I painted the green color to go on one  yellow wall with the windows.

Would I ever get finished by October?….stayed tuned to find out.

God bless each of you!

The Shades Of Beauty In Our Lives

28 02 2008

Ben , our son, is repairing our roof this morning.  I could hear the steady pounding while teaching my 68 year old piano student and later while I worked on a beautiful Claude Debussy piano work entitled : Reverie.  Debussy is an early 20th century composer who broke all of the musical rules when he wrote his lovely pieces.  They have a strong impressionist theme.  One can feel the shades of beauty so intensely while listening or performing Debussy’s music.  I’ve been enjoying working on this piece– for it reminds me of early spring after a harsh winter.  That is my interpretation of it.  Layer after layer of musical shading is so strongly felt.  It helps me find joy in the midst of trouble.

I would not have even known how to interpret Debussy had I not had some professional training in college.  One of my piano pieces the spring of 2004 was another Debussy piece entitled:Clair de Lune.  Over and over my piano teacher coached me to feel the poetry in that piece.  Debussy is musical poetry.  There is no other way to describe his compositions. 

If one has read any of my Vera stories–then one knows that our family has not had an easy life.  I’ve always suffered with a tendency towards depression.  Many turn to alcohol when depression is a constant irritant.  I’ve had a faith in God since I was a young girl.  Faith is not a magic potion though.  It doesn’t mean that one will always be happy.  Faith, to me is the foundation that we can rely on in the midst of suffering.  However, I admit that I’ve not always relied on my faith.  I have had an addiction to sugar that at times as been to me like alcohol is to others.  When I was young, I walked all of the calories off. Since I never could afford store bought treats when our children were growing up–I baked a great deal.  When depression hit me–a handful of chocolate chip cookies and a strong mug of coffee helped me cope.

Yet, one can’t live one’s life on a continuous binge of cookies, alcohol, drugs etc.  Eventually, one has to begin healing from the inside out.  My Christian Orthodox faith has helped me so much with inner healing.  In a day when there are so many church splits and ministers change their mind about their doctrines easily–I can count on the beautiful unchanging rhythm of the Christian Orthodox Church.  When I know that I am having trouble coping–I make an appointment to talk with my priest.  Since we live a good hundred miles from our parish–he is always so kind to meet with me after the service.

An Orthodox priest listens and does not condemn.  He offers some suggestions for inner healing.  Lastly, he offers absolution of my sins.  For the Orthodox church is like a hospital to the soul.  During my walk with breast cancer–I made regular appointments with our priest.  There was much  work to accomplish in my soul.  People have noted that my cancer walk has been gentle, peaceful and encouraging. That is because in the shadows of my private life–I’ve struggled to hand any bitterness or animosity over to God.  Meeting with our priest on a regular basis certainly helped me to extinguish anger.

There are so many shades of beauty within our reach.  There are healthy coping mechanisms. Music, writing and reading are my favorite ways to cope.  Another priest I know of says that people of faith ought to be out writing,singing and dancing to the glory of God.  We of all people should endorse the beautiful works of art. 

My cancer journey will continue as I work to take care of my body. There is no guarantee that the cancer will not return.  I’m reminded of that fact each week –when we attend our cancer support group.  This week a lady found out that her cancer has spread to several parts of her body.  My heart aches for her.  This kind of information keeps me from getting too comfortable with my present good health.  It keeps me thoughtful and prayful for others.

I have found my own shades of beauty this week as two of my children have gone through tremendous personal blows–of which I don’t have the freedom to write about.  As I struggle with them through their sorrow–I turn to working harder on my piano piece by Debussy.  It is a healthy coping tool.  I work to keep my blog up.  I love to write about adventures of the past.  I’ve been working on a series called: The House Blessing, yet I had to come up for fresh air and think about this week. 

I’ve not been able to wipe away the tears of my adult children.  I can only offer my continual support and love.  A certain spot in my bedroom has become a favorite place this week.  I have a rocker in a corner by a heating vent.  At night , after all of the chores have been finished –I sit in my rocker and read.  I love to hear and feel the hot air coming up through the vent.  I have a small light hanging by the rocker so that I don’t disturb my husband’s sleep.  I have a favorite blanket that I cover myself with. The blanket is long enough to fall to the floor.  One of my dogs likes to sleep on that part while I read.  I have a cat that likes to sit on the vent.  However, I have to shoo him off–as I love to feel the heat. This  cat then climbs into bed with my husband.  All of these cozy things help me find joy and solace. 

Thus my faith is the rock, but on that rock are many shades of beauty that I employ to cope with the challenges of life.  Debussy, writing my blog, reading in my rocking chair helps paint the beauty in my inner life. I ask each of you–“How do you cope with your pressures in life?” I would love to know.

May the peace of our Lord be with each of you!

The House Blessing, Part 2

26 02 2008

Our desire was to buy some of Maria and Kirk’s land and place a trailer on it.  I could envision all of the fun that we would have being close to them.  Kirk gave his okay for us to start planning in that direction.  First, we had to have a special test done to see if our part of the land would be able to handle another septic system.  We had that test done . The results were that the land would be fine with another septic system. 

I had completely forgotten that Maria and Kirk had a mortgage.  Thus, our plans shifted a bit.  We would have to buy the land from the mortgage company.  Maria requested the proper paper work.  However, after looking it over–we found it to be too complicated and too costly.  My other children didn’t want us to buy a trailer.  Trailers are usually the first to be blown away in tornadoes. (And our recent sweep of tornadoes did destroy many trailers in Western  Kentucky ).

I just would  not give up on the idea of a trailer.  I knew the risks but I wanted a small, simple living space.  I was very influenced by the  voluntary simplicity movement.  Maria called to tell me that there was a home for sale not far from her home.  The catch was that it had no indoor plumbing.  At first, I wasn’t even willing to look at the house.  However, I finally agreed to at least take a look.  Jim  relunctantly went with me to look over the house.

It was quite a cute cottage.  Except for no indoor plumbing, it was in excellent shape from all outward appearances.  I envisioned Ben, our son, building the bathroom.  We made arrangements to meet the owner.  Ben and his wife met us out at the house.  Although he wasn’t thrilled with this project–he agreed that the home was in good condition.

We walked all through the interior of the house.  It had beautiful stained woodwork that had not been painted over.  There was so much potential to make this little house– a  place of beauty.  I began thinking of color schemes.  Everyone said that they would help with painting.  The catch was that the couple that owned it– wanted to say that they were selling it for one price and then later collect the rest of the money.  I kept trying to talk them out of that way of doing business ,because I wanted that home so badly.

Now we couldn’t buy this home until we had sold our home.  We had a man who wanted our home with much the same passion–  as we wanted the home close to Maria.  All of the events looked like we would have our home sold within thirty days.  The next problem we had to solve was a temporary place to live.  Ben had bought a home  in 2003 and fell in love with his next door neighbor, who was a widow.  When they married, he decided to keep his home.  (He joined his wife in her home adjacent to his.) We asked Ben and Linda if we could rent Ben’s place while he was building us a bathroom.  They were hesitant because he was in the middle of remodeling his home –so he could rent it for a good price. 

Ben explained to me that he was reluctant to take on building our bathroom because he would lose contact with his regular customers.  (Ben does contract work for several families who are in the rental home business.  He gets regular work by doing repair work on those  rental homes.)  Finally, he agreed to let us stay in his home if necessary.  The little house we wanted would also get a custum made bathroom built by Ben.

That dream was disolved when the couple who owned the house would not do things legally.  Our Realtor found us another home in a small Kentucky town about twenty miles from where we live.  The home was old but seemed to be in good shape.  We would be able to buy it outright when we sold our home.  We felt like it was a good choice and I looked forward to living in this small town which had a lovely town square.  If we couldn’t have the home near Maria–this seemed to be a good second choice.  Ben was relieved that we didn’t have to rent his house .  He was also glad he didn’t have to build us a bathroom.

The inspection process began on our home.  Since the man who wanted our home was having to get a mortgage–certain requirements had to be met.  An inspection man came and spent several hours going over everything in our home. On a general measure, we met the basic requirements.  We were delighted to know that our home was framed in oak.  That was a bit of knowledge that we had never known.  There was some question about one wall in the basement.  It had some cracks in it.  Ben had strengthened that wall with huge wooden beams many years ago.  The man who did the inspection said that he was fine with that, but that the appraiser might not let it sell that way.

The appraiser came out and spent several hours in our home.  He didn’t like the basement wall at all.  He said that buyer’s loan would never go through unless we had it fixed.  The Realtors we were dealing with got someone out to give us a bid.  The cost would be $2,700.00.  At first we told the Realtor that we would just withdraw our home from the market.  We thought it over a few days and changed our mind.  Jim put the paper work in to his work place– to get the money from our retirement fund.  As soon as we had the money available, the Realtor called to tell us that the deal was off.  The man’s loan was not approved anyway, because he had damaged his credit report in the past 30 days. 

At that point , all of our dreams went up in smoke.  The drought was in full force and my nerves were on edge.  We had already packed our things.  The house was full of boxes.  Everything would have to be unpacked and put away.  My grandsons hated the boxes.  They had hated the fact that we were moving.  In a way, I broke a promise to Sandy, my oldest daughter.  I had told her last March that I would pick up John from Kindergarten and keep him each afternoon.  I had already started doing that in early August.  Sandy never made me feel guilty, but I knew she had been disappointed when we started talking about moving.

We were not in good shape to continue our search for a country home.  We were burned out by our negative experience.  The heat just would not let up and our central air system broke right in the middle of the drought.  That would be another repair we would have to make in order to sell our home.  Sandy’s husband who works in the heat and air business told us that it was beyond repair.  An entire new unit would have to be installed.

In the middle of August, we told the Realtors to take our home off of the market.  We owed just a small amount on our second mortgage that we had taken out in l995.  We paid that off with the money that we would have used for the basement wall.  I knew I had to create a new dream.  What would it be?  I was surrounded by ugly boxes and it was 1oo degrees in my home day and night.  A new dream did take hold in my heart.  Stay with me for part 3.

God bless each of you!

The Story of Vera and Her Family, chapter 12

23 02 2008

A New Roof, Dad Rebuilds The Car Engine, Mom Becomes A Substitute Teacher

I can remember so well the January day that the roof was replaced.  I had stayed home from my teacher’s aide job, because one of you girls was sick.  We snuggled in bed with our cats Max, Tinker and Julie.  Oh, yes, how could I forget about Max.  You brought him home from Hazel St. in October of l987.  He was a special part of our family for many years. (He died in l999 of cancer)

My last obligation to my teacher’s aide job was to help take the children on a field trip to a nearby state park.  You and Maria were already out of school.  I asked the teacher if you could accompany us on the field trip.  The kindergarten children really enjoyed both of you girls.

I was so glad to be finished with being a teacher’s aide at the academy.  I finally qualified to be a substitute in the public school system.  I had made an A in my developmental psychology class.  That class turned out to be very important to my own personal life.  I used the material I learned to help me understand my own life. 

Paper routes were  an excepted part time job for children in small towns.  My brothers , when I was growing up–always had paper routes.  Now, a paper route opened up for you and Maria.  You actually split the route.  I saw it as an opportunity for each of you to have spending money.  Goodness knows–your dad and I certainly had no extra money to pass out.  Ben and Sandy made good money. They were looking forward to getting Christmas tips.  Again, I promised to help fold the papers and deliver them if needed.

With the fall of l988 –I was finally on the public school substitute teaching list.  I had a rude awakening–when I never got a call.  In those days, the principals called their own substitutes.  They had their favorites– and of course–no one knew me at all.  At last, in late September, I received a call to help accompany some deaf students back to the deaf school in Danville, Kentucky.  I was reluctant to take that job as it was Sandy’s birthday.  I got the call on Sunday afternoon–so I went ahead and baked Sandy’s cake. 

By October, jobs started coming to me on a more regular basis.  The principal of the new 5th and 6th grade center started using me a great deal.  He gave me ample work for many years–until I took a break in l992.  One of the middle schools also provided me with steady work.  It was hard to get to my jobs.  Once again, we had car problems.  I had to call my aunt up to take me to work.  Your dad just rode his bike to his job.  The engine was gone in our blue station wagon.  It was very disheartening.  I wondered if we would always have to live with broken down cars, sickness or other mishaps.  I did have a beautiful figure though–with all of the walking I did.  That didn’t comfort me though–I lived with a kind of low grade depression.  I functioned through my day because I knew I had too. 

We had been so excited to visit my brother Brad and his wife Susan over Labor day weekend.  They had bought 18 acres of land out in the country.  We only made it about ten miles out of town before the engine started smoking.  On the trip back to our home–the engine completely gave out.  Dad knocked on a door of a stranger to use the phone.  Some friends came and picked us up.  Later, we had the car towed home. 

We had no money for a car or to even fix our car.  Some friends in our Sunday school class helped us pay for a used engine from a junk yard.  I can still picture your Dad hoisting the old engine out of the car.  He spent a couple of months in his spare time , working on putting the used engine in the car.  Again, he had to hoist it up and then down into the car.  When he was done–a dentist in our church paid a mechanic to look over dad’s work.  We didn’t get the car project done until the week of Thanksgiving. 

Jim’s boss gave us twenty dollars for Thanksgiving.  We celebrated by eating out –rejoicing that our station wagon was on the road again.  Finally, we were able to visit with Brad and Susan in their new home on Thanksgiving Day.  What a joy it was to be in the country.  We took a long country walk before eating.  After our meal, we enjoyed the warmth of the fire in their fireplace.  It was great fun seeing Harpo, their dog.  They also had a cat named Rusty.  Rusty was enjoying sleeping in their rocking chair close to the fire. 

Christmas was fun for each of you children because of all of the Christmas tips that were received.  We also enjoyed Julie’s kittens that had been born in September.  I didn’t have a teaching job that day in September. I had seen Ben through a terrible time.  It hurt me so bad to see signs of depression in his young life.  I just cried and cried for Ben the day Julie’s kittens were born.  Those little kittens provided a much needed relief from worrying about Ben.

We knew the kittens had to have homes–so once again–we placed an add in the newspaper.  A home was found for each kitten.  I especially missed the little kitten that had a large mane of hair– almost like a lion.  You missed the little brown one.  You begged me not to give that kitten away.  However, a poor family can’t keep acquiring animals.  The humane society had a program that neutered or spayed animals.  We had Tinker, Julie and Max taken care of.  There were never any more kittens in our household.

We ended up the year of l988, with a man dressed like Santa Claus knocking on our door.  He handed us a check for $300.00 dollars.  We never found out who the man was and the check was made out so that we couldn’t know who the giver was.  What an exciting way to end l988.


The Story of Vera and Her Family, chapter 11

21 02 2008

We Are able to buy our home!

Carolyn bent over backwards to help our family.  She arranged to get some testing for Dad.  We found out that he had an IQ of 127.  For awhile, Dad was under the Kentucky Rehabilitation program.  They worked with him to help him find a better job.  To our deep disappointment, they were not successful.  The economy was very bad.  Your dad was over qualified for many of the jobs that were available.

By the end of June, I knew that I wasn’t able to cope with finishing my education.  I just couldn’t concentrate on a full load of studies when our family was falling apart.  Sadly, I turned down my scholarship to APSU. With all of the stress of possibly losing our home–I developed awful pains in my abdomen.  My family doctor could find nothing wrong.  I was referred to an OB/GYN doctor.  He diagnosed a fibroid condition and placed me on the hormone progesterone. 

The adventures never ceased!  Ben broke his arm walking home from Vacation Bible School.  I think he jumped over a fence.  With no insurance, I set up payments of $5o.00 a month.  If I remember correctly, the total bill was $600.00 dollars. That was a dark, dark day for me.  I cried and cried.  It seemed like our lives were constantly in a pressure cooker.  One mishap after another complicated our lives.

One evening in July, while we were eating supper–a lady knocked at the door.  She was from the Veteran’s Administration.  I thought doom’s day had finally come.  However, miraculously, she told us if we wanted to buy the house –that she would allow us to remain.  We admitted to her that we hadn’t paid any rent since March.  After explaining that we were saving our rent towards a down payment–she smiled.  “That’s a good plan that Wally encouraged you to start.” Secular agencies such as the VA don’t manage their business by showing mercy.  I look back on that evening and I’m in awe of God’ mercy.  We could have been forced out of our home that week.

Another event happened in July that influenced our family for the next decade.  Ben and Sandy were offered paper routes in a prosperous nearby neighborhood.  I not only encouraged them to take the routes–I knew that day–that I would be their loyal substitute and helper.  The paper routes provided Ben and Sandy with some good spending money. Moreover, many of their customers were elderly folks who had known my mother and grandmother.  They were so happy to have Ben and Sandy delivering their newspapers.

I applied to substitute teach in the public schools.  However, I was short by 3 college credits.  My Bible education didn’t count in those days.  It took another decade for our local board of education to accept my three years of Bible college credits.   I had to take money from our house account to enroll in a night class.  I chose a developmental psychology class.  Meanwhile, a lady from my Sunday school class called to tell me about a Kindergarten aid job available at the private academy.  I applied for the job, was interviewed and landed the job.  I worked 20 hours a week at minimum wage.  After taxes, I earned $215 dollars a month.  That certainly was not much money but it helped our family in a tremendous way.  Little did we know how important that job was in meeting our goal of buying our home.

In September of l987, that same VA lady called to tell us the she would be making an official VA inspection of our home.  We cleaned and scrubbed our home–especially the basement.  She came one afternoon, while you children were in school.  She thought the house was in fair shape for us to be able to buy it.  We were going to have to start paying the VA rent.  Thus, we began paying $200.00 a month in rent.  We had lived six months in the house without paying rent.  It was the grace of God that the VA didn’t demand that money.

Wally continued to push us to live as frugal as possible.  He called me up one day and asked me if we had anything valuable to sell.  By this time– he was officially representing us and looking for programs to help us.  We had to come up with $1200.00 for a down payment.  We put down $500.00 dollars in October as earnest money.  Wally thought of different jobs for us to earn as a family.  Our entire family raked leaves for a commercial business.  The pay was $100.00 dollars.  Wally kept the money and put it in a fund for us.

My little job was interesting at times but disappointing in other ways.  I was always trying to second guess what the kindergarten teacher wanted me to accomplish.  Once again, your dad dropped me off each morning.  Again, I walked almost 5 miles home each day.  However, we would never have qualified for a home loan if I hadn’t had that little job.

When Christmas arrived, there was a little more merriment.  We knew for certain that we could get to buy our home and close by the last day of December.  Some very nice families at First Baptist church gave us a check to help with buying Christmas presents. 

December 30th, l987 was our actual closing day.  I can still remember Wally picking us up for that event.  I wore a white dress sweater with the long blue jean skirt I had made during the summer.  What a celebration that day was!  And to top it off –the VA agreed to put a new roof on our home!

The House Blessing, Part 1

21 02 2008

Although I’ve written a little in previous blogs about our desire to sell our home, move and start life over somewhere in the country–I’ve decided to write more detailed blogs about our adventure.  The adventure ended with our staying put, my painting some rooms and having a house blessing.  So here it goes……

About this time last year, I gave up substitute teaching.  I had gone back to work when Jim was just returning to work–after having been home recovering from an aortic dissection .  I was very pleased to have one of our high schools welcome me back.  This school gave me steady work from that time until I chose to resign the end of last February. 

I was longing for a new adventure.  Those first weeks home I began to read as many Jesse Stuart books as I could.  He is a Kentucky writer who grew up in the hills of Eastern Kentucky.  His books date from the l930’s through the early l970’s.  He can describe the beauty of nature and the character of people better than any author I’ve ever read. (Speaking of nature, Maria just called to tell me that she is watching six deer in her backyard.)

We’ve lived in the city all of our married life.  I wanted to enjoy country life the way Maria does.  I just germinated on those kinds of thoughts through early spring.  Finally, around my birthday in April, I presented my thoughts of moving to Jim.  At first, he was very reluctant about such an idea.  I must have painted a pretty picture for him because it wasn’t long until he agreed with my plan.

I knew we’d have to simplfy  our home to make moving easier.  Our basement hadn’t been cleaned out in 10 years.  It was full of ancient computers, printers, old washers and dryers, an old refrigerator and a sundry of other things.  Maria was eating dinner with us one evening when we just decided to take the plunge.  Maria wanted to be in charge of helping us get rid of our junk.  We offered to pay her for her help. 

She began by rounding up our son, Ben, to help take the old appliances to a company that pays people for scrape iron.  Maria and Ben loaded up all of the appliances and took them to the scrapyard.  It took several trips.  I was more than happy to let them have the money from the appliances.  Next, Jim was in charge of sorting through all of the computers and printers he had acquired through the years.  Jim had a habit of picking up every computer that he saw was being thrown out.  I mean– we had quite a collection in one area of our basement.  He was not very happy to give up his collection , but he knew that we would never be able to sell our home–if we didn’t thin out our possessions.  He took most of the computers and printers to a second hand shop.  They seemed glad to have them.  A few days later, Jim stopped by to see if they had actually been put on the floor to sell.  All of them were there! 

Now my weakness is collecting desks.  I had a couple of desks in the basement.  I also had two desks upstairs in our main living area.  I also had a desk in one of the bedrooms upstairs. I had a habit of using them to store stuff I didn’t  exactly want to throw out–but I didn’t know where else to stash the stuff.  I cleaned them out and gave them to the Mennonites.  I just can’t handle desks.  We now have one large desk on which our computer sits. 

Another weakness that Jim and I both have is collecting too many books.  When Jim was sick, we gave away about 600 books.  Yet our living room and family room still had too many bookcases with too many books.  We sorted through all of the remaining books until we only had two bookcases of collectibles.  We gave approximately another 800 to 1,000 books away.  We also gave away the bookcases.  Collecting books and bookcases is another temptation that we’ve decided to avoid. 

The next area was musical instruments.  In my living room, I had a spinet organ, an old upright piano and the piano that I inherited from my childhood.  I had the organ and the upright piano long before I acquired my childhood piano.  In 2003, we bought my childhood piano from one of my first cousins.  I had tried to give away the old upright piano many times.  No one wanted it.  Finally, a friend of Maria’s came and got it.  I gave the organ to someone else that Maria knew.  Thus, my living room and family room were free of two musical instruments,  two desks, and several bookcases of books.

This process went on from April of 2007 to July of 2007.  Finally, we were ready to place our home on the market.  I’ll finish today’s post by describing our home just a little.  It was originally built in the l940’s.  It was orginally just  a large square.  The living room being the largest room about 21 ft by 15 ft.  The original floor plan  for the remaining of the house was two bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen.  In the l960’s a family turned the attic into two large bedrooms and a half bath.  A stairwell had to be built.  Also, two large porches were added on.  We have a lovely front porch and a porch on the side of our home. The house also has a large basement that runs the whole course of the main floor.  Thus, over a period of 22 years, we had collected way too much paraphernalia. 

Stayed tuned for part 2 of our story!

God bless each of you!