Saturday, March 25, 2017

As for me and my house...

In some ways, 15 years seems so long ago.  In others, it seems like just yesterday.

I can vividly remember pulling into the subdivision of our soon-to-be home for the first time, with our excited boys in the backseat.  They eagerly bounced into the empty rooms, laughter and racing footsteps echoing off bare walls.

Tim had discovered the house through a friend and had already inspected it prior to showing us.  He quietly guided me around the space, letting me imagine our life in this home.  I could envision the boys growing up here, playing in the backyard and making friends in the culdesac neighborhood.  The green street sign seemed to welcome us, displaying the word HOPE, symbolizing the dreams we had for our future.

As I wrote the check for our last mortgage payment this week, tears threatened to smudge the ink.  Emotions overtook me so I stopped to praise God in the driveway before heading to the bank.  Not just because home ownership at our age is an accomplishment but also due to the journey we traveled to get here.

I'm not sure those two young kids realized the roller coaster they were signing up for when they signed the loan papers to purchase this home.  It was the first major purchase for either of us and we knew nothing about interest rates, property taxes or insurance.  By the grace of God, we listened to someone along the way and chose a somewhat higher payment to ensure a fifteen year mortgage, instead of thirty.

At the time, the price difference didn't feel a burden.  I had recently been promoted at my job, Tim had managed to move up in his and we were doing well.  We would never have guessed that a few short months of moving in, Tim would lose his job.  Unemployment as new home owners was a scary awareness that we weren't prepared for the real world.  Somehow we made it through that hurdle and lots of smaller financial roadblocks along the way.

Midway through we suffered the greatest loss ever and questioned if we could still live here without our oldest son.  So many memories in every corner of this little house.  Many offered opinions about it being better for us to move.  In the end, we realized those imprints and moments were all we had left of Austin and they brought more comfort than pain.

For both boys, this was their childhood home.  They grew up along with the pear trees we planted our first year.  Birthdays and celebrations were held here.  Basketball games and bicycle lessons given in the driveway.  Homework and family meals shared at the table.  Giggles and wrestling in the living room floor.  Tent sleepovers, pool parties, and barbecues in the backyard.  A lifetime of precious moments over the course of a decade and a half.

Noah was only two when we moved in and couldn't even reach the light switch.  Now he has to duck to not hit his head on the ceiling fan!  Soon, we'll become empty-nesters, free to tinker around with the someday tasks we've put off through the years.

As we reached the tail end of our payments, we would be hit with job losses for both us and a significant change in income.  Prayerfully, we clung to our trust in God and turned to him for guidance.  Somehow he made less stretch into enough.  And though these last few years have been the tightest, it has taught us much.

Less is more.  
Comparison is the thief of joy.  
Live like nobody today so you can live like nobody tomorrow.

Ours will never be on a home tour for Christmas, as it is more of a "before" pic than a show-stopper after. But there's more love and stories in these faded walls, tinged with fingerprints and dings from rowdy boys than any model house will ever have.  I'm beyond blessed for this simple home, even more so now that it is paid in full!

Thankful. JOY-filled and giving God all the glory on this milestone!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Forever Young

Noah catches me staring at him often.  And sometimes sneaking pictures.

But I still can't believe my boy has gone from baby to grown in the blink of an eye.

I wish someone told me how fast time flies.  Like really told me.  Life goes by so much quicker than you imagine.  Because in my mind, he's still a rambunctious, rowdy, spunky toddler running through the house, superhero cape flapping behind.  Well, some things never change I guess -minus the cape.

I'm sure no matter how old he becomes, I'll always see a mixture of childhood mingled with man.

About a moment after snapping the photo above, a pillow went flying through the air toward my head.  (He thoroughly dislikes having his picture taken.)  Yet amazingly, a few days later, he actually sat and smiled for a pic.

I reminded him we hadn't taken a good photo of his healed tattoo.  Still proud to show it, he gladly paused and let me.

A tattoo in honor of his big brother, representing everything he stood, band and being a firefighter.  And of course, Austin's life verse - 1 Timothy 4:12.

first tattoo
 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, 
but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

Noah's first view

After many drawings, revisions, discussion and final artwork by the tattoo artist, we're all happy with the end design.  Noah most of all, who moments after seeing it, breathed, 
"I've wanted this for so long."

I'm sure there are some who think he's way to young for a tattoo.  And in some cases, I would agree. But this wasn't a rash decision made by an inexperienced youth. 

Sadly, he's been envisioning this tattoo for nearly eight years.  He went with both his dad and me to watch us get memorial ink. For years, he's shared his desire to have one of his own.  He wanted our blessing and we were by his side every step of the way.   He now has a tangible piece of Austin looking over his right shoulder.  

My prayer, when he looks at the black and grey lines, is that he remembers the pattern and mark Austin left behind.  That he'll recall the happy memories they shared more than the pain of loss.  And that he will, in turn, share with others the legacy of Austin.  Age is just a number.  Anything is possible, achievable, no matter how old - or young you are.  But whatever you do, live your life to bring glory to God.

Austin will always be forever young.  He may have left us too soon but lived more in his 14 years than most do in a lifetime.

Noah lives each day with the same passion and drive.  He never doubts or questions if he can do something, especially when others might think age is a factor.  I know Austin would be proud of his little brother.  We certainly are.  

I hope he continues facing life forever young - full of ambition and excitement, eager to learn, willing to be an example to others, ready to face the next chapter, whatever it holds.

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