The house on the hill

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The rain came down, the stream rose, the winds blew, and beat against that house.  Yet it did not fall, for it was founded upon the rock.

Matthew 7:25

I recently moved. It’s closer to my fiancé, his children’s schools, a new life. I wanted a place similar to my old one.  I longed for land and privacy, gardening and chickens.  I’m here right now, writing to you upstairs from my new office.  I’m seeing the trees beat against the wind that rages atop this hill.

“You have an amazing view,” people say.  I nod.  But the breezes blow the deck chairs practically into the pool, and the wind doesn’t match my fire–based personality. “Have patience,” I tell myself.  We will ground this place.  So I drink warm things and cuddle underneath my blankets. I am searching for the perfect picture of a tree and I’m finding cozy small spaces.  But inside it all, I am unsettled.

The first time I saw this house, I was generally disgusted.  It was buried in the middle of overgrown weeds, on the top of a hill, a great divide between two valleys.  It was just an old stone house with an open-air atrium in the middle.  Too much work, too little interest, too much wind. The nice lady who lived here walked me around to show it off, but I thought “no thanks, honey.  I’ll pass.”  I especially loved the carpeted walls, which added that “if lieu of an insane asylum, just head to your living room” touch that we all so desperately need. I showed the real estate agent photos from my phone and we both laughed and laughed.

But here I am looking out from the upstairs window, nonetheless.  Because with a bit of time and reflection, and a healthy respect for the bathroom tub which fits seventeen people (go ahead and shovel me some shit in this life because I’ll just lolly-gag around in this ginormous tub and then bounce against this walled carpet, yo), it seemed to have great potential. It sits on several acres with an amazing view and is in a neighborhood with no homeowner’s association.  This appealed to my anti-seeing-people-all-the-damn-time sentiment. And it was close to Whole Foods. So no fights with folks about the height of fences, turkey chili at the ready.  SOLD. Perhaps it would hold great promise, with the right contractor, designer, and sweat equity.  I’m sure in time I’d come to love it.

Who are we kidding.  I am only one person.  Why do I need such a large tub? But mostly, I’m not a lover of change. Most the time I cling to the old like shoes, despite a busted heel or broken sole.  Because of what they used to be.  Because of the memories they hold.  I cherish the past even when it’s terribly broken. Maybe it’s my own soul that needs repair. What I’m certain of is that this house needs some tenderness.  And I wasn’t sure I was prepared to give it.

In theory, I was on board with this house-buying decision.  I signed all the paperwork and nodded my head and put a for-sale sign in my yard.  I told the children it was for the best and it was good to put the past behind us and got a new mortgage.  It was symbolic – a new future, a new life, a new start.  A marriage and new family loomed ahead, so let’s just go ahead and dive on in. But I was terrified. Also slightly amused at the cartoonish nature of this place.

The day I closed on my (now former) home, I sobbed. I cried out in pain for the ripping again, the tearing of things.  I brought my son home to that house.  I walked around it over and over, circling it in prayer.  I touched every wall for blessing and I baked grease into the kitchen stones and worn down the wood with my pacing.  I woke up in the morning and saw birds dancing and making love. I saw the changing seasons and the dew and the tiny buds of flowers.  This was not just a home, but a part of me that I needed to feel complete, to feel loved, to feel surrounded.  Oak trees in the back yard were bent by the wind just so to form a canopy, and when I walked underneath them I felt held.  And for that time in my life, I needed to be cherished by something. That house held me, and I loved it so.

And then it hit me. Who was I without that place? I began to feel my identity was lost.  When people come to visit me in my new house, I practically grab them the moment they pass through the entrance.  “This isn’t me,” I want to explain.  “I don’t like that wall or that set-up or those cabinets.  I promise this will all be changed. This isn’t my vision. This isn’t my home. I don’t do paneling.”  Hello, insecurity crisis.  Like my worth is placed inside the walls of a white kitchen. No one cares.  It’s me who has placed so much emphasis on a house like an idol.   It’s me who placed all my worth in something that could literally burn to the ground. I put my priorities in the wrong place.

I’ve never really worried much about idols.  The Bible mentions them like they were some threat – a mistake of the Israelites when Moses was gone for a while. But whether it’s golden calves or Baal or other strange looking statues, I’d never for the life of me consider bowing down to any of them. It’s one of those old fashioned notions that’s not practical to today’s lifestyle. “Have no other God before me.”  Check.  Duh.  Obviously.

And yet here I was feeling lost and alone without that old shoe. Like it was what had saved me, those stones my only protection.

This weekend, there was a horrible storm. It woke me up with a vision of demons, and I prayed for hours upon hours.  I begged God to bless this home, and to place upon this hilltop a beacon of light to others, a place where people can come home to instead of fall back upon.   This home may be on a solid rock, and the wind may blow, but it will not falter.  Because it’s not the home that creates blessings, it’s the Father who blesses.  Let this home be a haven and a light, based on a firm foundation. I wrestled with God about this for a while as the wind howled.  And then ceased.  I got up and went about my day, drinking coffee and sitting wedged inside my small front porch, looking at the rising sun.  I sang at church with all my heart.  I practically attacked my pastor and blubbered something about my house having a good spirit.  He was like “okay crazy lady.  Go on now and eat some more donuts.” Luckily, if his predictions are true about the crazy, I have padded walls so I’m totally covered.

And then I came home to this house on a hill. God bless this home, founded on a rock, wild and windy.  We named it “Hilltop,” because for some reason it needed to be named. Soon I’ll put a little iron sign in the yard stating such. Of course I will, because that’s the crap that I do. God also bless Mark, since he’ll be putting up with me.

What is founded upon rock will stand.  We will stand, and will keep on standing. For it’s in God we place our trust, not a pile of stones.  So let the wind rage.  This light will still forever burn.

Odd and curious thoughts (about moving)

 

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  • We are moving into a new house. This should be an opportunity to purge and go through things and start anew. One in this situation might say lovely things like “ah what nice closets!” or “my, this place is spacious!”  My new house, however, has shag carpet, a sunken living room, and smells slightly like cat urine.  There is no talking.  Only quiet weeping and the unpacking of books.
  • I’ve decided the cedar wall paneling in the bedroom is really just ship-lap that Joanna Gaines uses in her hit show “Fixer Upper.” It’s just that the boards are angled and facing the wrong direction and not painted white and gross. Basically the same thing.
  • The best thing about moving is getting to eat pizza and eat on paper plates. But you do that for two days, which leads to a solid week, and you start to feel bloated.  Then you don’t fit into your jeans and you haven’t unpacked the loose ones yet.  But don’t worry, because if you are depressed it matches the living room that’s two feet lower than all the other rooms so you are really never alone.  We are all sad here.
  • I will say that the new dishwasher works. My last dishwasher thought washing dishes was optional, maybe it would happen on Tuesday and if the spray head wasn’t tired.  I’d give it little inspirational talks, like “You can do it this time! I pre-rinsed the muffin tins!”  She’d groan at me and a random mug would still have coffee stains just for spite.  I felt that was highly disrespectful and this time around I’m not being such a pansy to the dishwasher and showing it who’s boss from the get-go.  You have one job, appliance.  I’m not even going to name you.
  • I’m getting advice from a decorator, since we are doing a large-scale home remodel. She ends up drawing me pictures and floor plans which I change and say things like “well I don’t much like this.”  Then I went and bought a chandelier that was so large it didn’t even fit in my SUV and her comment was “Oh dear” followed by some really nasty language that frankly, I don’t appreciate.  What does she know.  Except for design and style and interior expertise and color and whatnot.  WHO ASKED HER.  I did.  It was me. This is complicated.
  •  I hired a really good moving company who looked at the contents of my previous house and said it would easily fit within two trucks.  What they did not realize is that the contents of my closets were just like Mary Poppins purse where things just kept coming out one after another. Pole lamp with tassels.  Cupcake travel holders.  Party napkins.  Silver chargers. The pole lamp was from Mary Poppins.  The rest was mine, Tetris style, packed in tight.  It didn’t fit in two trucks.  They worked until 10 pm.  They almost broke their backs.  I gave them all fat tips and scolded each one of them, telling them to get nice-paying air conditioned desk jobs.  The one with all the tattoos just glared at me but said thank you and yes ma’am.  Do they not have mothers? Should I be like a foster mom for mover employees?
  • The previous owners tried to remodel the kitchen before they moved but we were like “no seriously please stop.” Like for real put down the tiles and lay down the hammer, because you’re making things worse.  The vent hood hangs directly over the stove-top on the island at eye level, so every time I cook anything I give myself forehead lacerations when I bang my head on it.  Every time.  Because I’m not four feet ten inches, as it turns out.  Also you can’t open any of the kitchen drawers because they ordered the wrong fronts so you have to sort-of pry them open with your fingernails.  Unless you have talons, you aren’t getting any silverware my friend.
  •    The first weekend in the new house, we let my future stepson invite some friends over.  One girl whom shall never be allowed to marry anyone in my family or friends of family and basically needs to move let the chickens out and our chickens ran all over our 2.5 acres in a state of panic.  One ran into the neighbor’s yard so the introduction to the neighbors was “hey there you don’t know me but I have this box in my hand and is it cool if I just catch this rogue fowl in your back yard and slam it down into this cardboard box super quick? If it helps it’s free range and organic! Sorry I’m in sweat pants!” Remind me to join the neighborhood email. They are going to LOVE ME.
  •   One room, which I shall assume they used as a dining room, is raised six inches off the ground and is covered in parquet flooring.  Why?  Did they need to peer down upon others at dinner? It looks like a stage instead of a room.  I may put spotlights on it and leave it alone. Why in heavens name they needed so many levels in this house is beyond me.  It’s like they are intentionally sticking it to the handicapped.  Don’t get me started on the staircase.  It has three landings.  Need I say more.
  • The home was built in the early 80’s encircling an old oak tree. So naturally it made sense to create an open-air atrium to show off the tree. The tree died.  The atrium remained.  You literally have to walk all the way around the donut hole in the middle of our house that is open to nothing if you want to get water in the middle of the night. I now refuse to eat donuts in protest. If I hear anyone else say “you should leave it! It’s cute!” you can eat my construction dust. Who I am kidding I still eat donuts.

We are all so excited about moving.  I’m sure you can tell. My daughter says “moving’s not so bad except that our house is ugly. When can we move back into our old one.”  It’s going really well indeed.

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