It’s actually Rob’s turn for a post. In fact, he wrote a beautiful post and sent it to me so I could stick it here, but I can’t help it. The funny part is that he even said to me, “No, don’t have me write this one, you are going to want to write about the garage sale…”
At the time (which was a few days before the sale) I thought there couldn’t possibly be anything interesting to share about the garage sale, and I really want to stay away from the blog style that merely itemizes the events in our life. I’m working hard here to offer you a glimpse into our experience and not just a record of the days. But that weekend is so much a part of our experience and quite frankly, offers such great writing material, one can hardly resist. Rob called it. I want to write about it. Stay tuned for Rob’s post next week, he is a great writer. Sorry Rob! I love you!
The last week of September was awesome. As we prepared for the closing on the sale of our home, we packed and sorted. The landlord of the rental is so incredibly flexible, she even allowed us to move a few things in early, which to us, was critical. We were selling everything in our home, so to get some of the things we wanted to keep out of the way meant there would be no mistake of selling something by accident. We signed the lease and began the process of setting up all the utilities.
On Thursday evening the day before the big sale, we scrambled to get everything ready. If you know us at all, you realize that for us that means staying up all night to get it done. Are we the only ones who wait until the last minute? It’s like when we go on vacation, we stay up all night packing bags and cleaning up because for some strange reason we can’t seem to get it done during daylight hours… same scenario.
We re-arranged the furniture to fit more in. We have a friend who gave us furniture that she no longer wanted so we could sell it, and we emptied shelves and drawers. The plan was to sell everything. The rental is furnished so all we really needed was our beds and kitchenware. The buyers of this home wanted the appliances and the little stools that go around our counter so those things weren’t for sale, but EVERYTHING else was.
Back to Thursday night…. we get a call from guess who? Our realtor. She had apparently been trying to reach us Thursday, but with the big “un-stuffing” we missed her calls. She had a very important message…. the buyers of our home didn’t qualify. They couldn’t come up with financing. The deal was dead. What? We had the perfect set-up… a furnished rental that we could pay month-to-month. Our plan fit so neatly into how we would make our exit to Swaziland. Surely this was a mistake because God approved our plan… right?
We went forward with the garage sale. Yes, our realtor advised us to cancel and maybe we should of, but we were already set up for this monster (no small task) and we also recognized that garage sale season was quickly coming to a close. On top of that, we still needed to get rid of our stuff; might as well buck up and deal with it.
Over the course of the weekend, we sold everything we own (almost) and the deal on the house completely unraveled. The house emptied and it felt weird to be in what now seemed like someone else’s house. I can hear my own voice echo in the living room. I admit, I sat in my empty nest and wondered what on earth God had in mind with this one. OK… that’s an understatement. Those first couple of days I pretty much unraveled too. It wasn’t that we sold our stuff. (I am not much of a “stuff” person, in fact too much stuff drives me nuts) but rather somewhere in my head I thought that if it isn’t smooth sailing to Swaziland, perhaps it isn’t God’s plan. It was as if this fail was some kind of sign.
You are probably thinking, “Really Jen? Are you that immature?” Seriously…
I absolutely know, inside and out, that life isn’t like that. In fact, I believe we are presented with life’s challenges as a process of refining. In other words, often the tough stuff makes us better people. And for the really bad things… there is evil in the world and that is the only explanation needed. So why would I think God’s blessing is displayed in prosperity and comfort? Is anybody out there on the same page with me?
Over the next few days I started to realize some things. First, that a bad attitude wasn’t going to make things good. It was only going to make things …. well … bad. Attitude is everything, isn’t it? But I also realized that we had exactly what we needed. We didn’t sell the appliances and the stools, (the buyer wanted them) we didn’t sell our dishes and our beds, (we needed them for the rental) and just a couple things that didn’t sell: my desk, one chair, our TV cabinet, and a super-old TV we had up in the granny flat. We could function with the appliances, we had a place to sleep, a place to eat and we could even watch a movie.
I have wondered if all of this, what seems to be a disaster, isn’t actually a gift. Now, we are staying in our own home and we are not in the position of having to mess around with moving. Also, maybe we are close enough to Swaziland that it just makes sense to go from here ….
There are a lot of good things that could come from this.
So this refining thing … the tough stuff … is it making me a better person? Maybe. I know that God provides and He cares about the little details. I also know in a more real way that smooth sailing isn’t a measure of God’s blessing. I don’t know if all of this has “refined” me any more than before, but I do feel like I am better prepared and am more practiced at seeing God’s fingerprints in life’s situations. The bottom-line truth is that we will face difficult things in Swaziland … really difficult. Even situations that don’t directly impact us will be hard … how will we reconcile injustice? Poverty? Disease? How will we reconcile these things in the midst of God’s world? If blessing is demonstrated in comfort and well-being…. ease of life and prosperity … what will we tell these people who live in under a hard-ship that we cannot even fathom? Are we going to say that God doesn’t bless them? Of course not, but it leads me to take hold of the tough parts in life and not let go until I can see God at work in them. I want to keep at it until I see God in everything. Can I see God at work in my life without interpreting every event as a message in the bottle? I think so. I am compelled so. My little lesson this week was a brilliant reminder from the Lord on how my attitude in life’s tragedies vs. life’s celebrations can carry its own message to those around me. My hope is that now, and when we are in Swaziland, and always … the message I convey is that we all have access to God’s blessings despite our circumstances and no matter how difficult or dark it may be, He is with us.
PS. Some house-keeping (no pun intended…) On November 6 we will be sharing our mission, complete with a 15 minute video, after both service at Chapel Hill. (If you come after 2nd service you can have Tacos with the Taylors!) Come listen! We realize that even some of our partners have not heard the details of God’s call for us. We will share, you can ask questions, and bring a friend.
Also, it seems we are at about 50% for raising the support for the one-time expense of getting to Swaziland and about 35% of our monthly support. We are getting closer! Please consider making a monthly commitment to this mission, we would love to partner with you!