A Big Transition…A New Chapter

A thriller, a comedy, a tragedy, poetry, a fairy tale, and a historical narrative all rolled into one. This is the book I am writing as I continue walking “jeaniesjourneys.” Thankfully, God is the author and perfecter of my life story (Heb 12:2), and we are writing this thing together. I’m starting a new chapter. A scary chapter. An exciting chapter. A sad chapter. A happy chapter. A chapter requiring faith. Lots of it.

For a while, I have known I would sell my house. It is time to downsize. Amazingly among ministers, I have been one of the few to stay in a house for a long time, over thirty years. My kids went through their elementary, middle school, and high school years based from this house. My grandchildren have visited my house as newborns and most recently the oldest as a high school graduate. They have slept over, played in the park across the street, and built their own memories. My youngest son, who spent his first twelve years in Romania, walked through the front door of this house as a member of our family in August of ‘98. It is more than a house. It is a home. At our wedding, Sam Laing, who now has his own health challenges, read this poem which now hangs on my wall. heap of living It’s authored by one of my favorite poets, Edgar Guest. I will include several stanzas:

It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home,
A heap o’ sun an’ shadder, an’ ye sometimes have t’ roam
Afore ye really ‘preciate the things ye lef’ behind,
An’ hunger fer ’em somehow, with ’em allus on yer mind.
It don’t make any differunce how rich ye get t’ be,
How much yer chairs an’ tables cost, how great yer luxury;
It ain’t home t’ ye, though it be the palace of a king,
Until somehow yer soul is sort o’ wrapped round everything.

Ye’ve got t’ weep t’ make it home, ye’ve got t’ sit an’ sigh
An’ watch beside a loved one’s bed, an’ know that Death is nigh;
An’ in the stillness o’ the night t’ see Death’s angel come,
An’ close the eyes o’ her that smiled, an’ leave her sweet voice dumb.
Fer these are scenes that grip the heart, an’ when yer tears are dried,
Ye find the home is dearer than it was, an’ sanctified;
An’ tuggin’ at ye always are the pleasant memories
O’ her that was an’ is no more—ye can’t escape from these.

Ye’ve got t’ sing an’ dance fer years, ye’ve got t’ romp an’ play,
An’ learn t’ love the things ye have by usin’ ’em each day;
Even the roses ’round the porch must blossom year by year
Afore they ‘come a part o’ ye, suggestin’ someone dear
Who used t’ love ’em long ago, an’ trained ’em jes’ t’ run
The way they do, so’s they would get the early mornin’ sun;
Ye’ve got t’ love each brick an’ stone from cellar up t’ dome:
It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home.

Let’s just say there has been a heap of living in this home…by us, and likely by some of you who have sat at our table and in our living room. Joy and laughter have rung within these walls, as has precious time around a loved one’s bed, knowing death is nigh.

It is time for a new chapter, so I put my house on the market for showings last Tuesday. On Thursday, I sold it. my for sale sign

I have learned that home is not really a physical place, rather it is a place of rest in the deepest part of my soul; a place that only God fills. I carry home with me wherever I go. The memories of loved ones and conversations, good food and fun, arguments and conflict resolutions, soul-searching conversations and discovery, the mundane and the thrilling, sickness and health, laughter and tears….the memories are in my heart and will go with me wherever I go all the way to heaven, my ultimate home.

That said, I soon realized the stark reality that selling my home would bring. I would have to land somewhere. I prayed fervently for the best place to land… to cut expenses in preparation for my pending retirement, and to provide meaningful ways to serve and love God and people, helping as many as possible make it to heaven. To be honest, something within me questioned whether I should go to a remote place where I could tell people who did not yet know about the amazing news of Jesus. However, given the fact that I don’t know other languages and that my first priorities next to Jesus are my children and grandchildren, I knew I would stay local and contribute to remote places in other ways.

Local turned out to be about an hour and forty-three minutes from my current home. I plan to move to Connecticut, near my daughter Kristen and her family. She said it was “her turn.” While it is so hard to leave so many I love here and there are so many precious (as well as difficult) memories, I feel the Spirit’s guidance and commendation on this new chapter. Through my wonderful realtor (Kristen), I found the perfect place, ten minutes from her family, that fulfills more wishes for a home than I could imagine. Small enough to be cozy but large enough to host friends and family, full of character and charm, near water and town, and full of so many other “hugs” from God. And, to top it off, there is a studio apartment next to the house—the perfect place for Jacob. We are both excited about our new adventure.

roses in my yard

roses in my new yard, overlooking the park across the street which begins the Riverwalk.

Who knows what all will be written in this new chapter, but with God editing it I am in safe hands. I suppose the upcoming chapters will contain the various genres mentioned above, but thankfully I know how the story ends. Meanwhile, I pray that the heap of living that takes place in my new home will bring joy to many, especially to God. My friend, Susan, who is currently in Connecticut helping her son’s family as he recovers from extensive cancer surgery, rode by my new house while her son was in surgery. Just as she pulled up to my new house, she got the call that the surgery was a success. So, she named my house the “good news house.” I like that name. I think I will stick with that. Please pray for me in this transition as I move to the “good news house.”

150 Naubuc Ave

Thirty-Seven Years

How do you tell someone you have loved for nearly forty years that you love them…in such a way that you really express the depth of your heart?  I met my husband 40 years ago when my “then boyfriend”  invited him to church with us.  He was the resident adviser in the dorm where my boyfriend lived.  His girlfriend went to school in another state and so we often invited him to do stuff with us.  We became best friends…and the rest is history.  As today we celebrate our 37th anniversary, I feel like the most blessed woman in the world.  Genesis 2:24

December 14, 1974

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

I’m so grateful for God’s plan for  husband and wife to be united as one person, as repeated again in the New Testament.  I’m also amazed at God’s plan for His dearly loved church.  The lessons are endless.

Ephes. 5:31-32

    “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” [32] This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church.

However, today I want to express gratitude to my husband.  I fell in love with him because of his integrity and sincerity.  I loved the way he loved God with such passion, had courage to obey the truth he read about in the Bible, and led from a tender and serving heart.  His spirituality and God-given wisdom was evident.  I deeply respected him from the beginning of the time I got to know him.  He was (is) also very athletic, smart and handsome, which I also admire(d).  37 years later I still feel the same way, only the feelings have grown exponentially.  The following poem, by my favorite poet, Edgar Guest, was read at our wedding:

     It takes a lot of living in a house to make it a home,
A lot of sun and and shadows, and you sometimes have to roam
Before you really appreciate the things you left behind
And hunger for them somehow, with them always on your mind.
     It doesn’t make any difference how rich you get to be,
How much your chairs and tables cost, how great your luxury;
It isn’t home yet, though it be the palace of a king,
Until somehow your soul is sort of wrapped around everything.
     Home isn’t a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute;
Before it’s a home there’s got to be a lot of living in it;
Within the walls there’s got to be some babies born, and then
Right there you’ve got to bring them up to women good, and men;
     And gradually as time goes on, you find you wouldn’t part
with anything they ever used- they’ve grown into your heart:
The old high chairs, the playthings, too, the little shoes they wore
You’d hoard; and if you could you’d keep the thumb-marks on the door.
     You’ve got to weep to make it home, you’ve got to sit and sigh
And watch beside a loved one’s bed, and know that death is nigh;
And in the stillness of the night to see death’s angel come,
And close the eyes of she that smiled, and leave her sweet voice dumb.
     For these are scenes that grip the heart, and when your tears are dried,
You find the home is dearer than it was, and sanctified;
And tugging at you always are the pleasant memories
Of those that are no more – you can’t escape from these.
     You’ve got to sing and dance for years, you’ve got to romp and play,
And learn to love the things you have by using them each day;
Even the roses around the porch must blossom year by year
Before they become a part of you, suggesting someone dear
     Who used to love them long ago, and trained them just to run
The way they do, so they would get the early morning sun;
You’ve got to love each brick and stone from cellar up to dome:
It takes a lot of living in a house to make it home.

Adapted from “It Takes A Heap ‘a Livin” by Edgar Guest

I believe this expresses well so many sentiments that have made our love even sweeter as the years go by.  Every year, every event…happy or sad, and however difficult or even easy… has added depth to the stones and mortar of our home.  Wherever in the world I am with my husband – is home to me.  I am so grateful that our marriage and family is built on the foundation of God and His word.  This is what has made it strong.

 Joshua 24:15

    But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”