Sunday, January 9, 2011

Humility by Valance

We’ve been living in our new digs for four months now.
The house is just perfect for us and I’m finding it to be absolutely fabulous.

I think you’ve heard me say before, that I really loved my last house. We picked it out from a model home, made a few modifications and had it built from the ground up. I got to pick out the floors, the paint, the counters, the cabinets, the molding, the hardware, all the things that make someone just love their house, love their house. My friend Christa helped me paint my living room and dining room a gorgeous Gothic Amethyst. My Monday night prayer and accountability group helped paint the girls’ bathroom a fun Startling Orange. My friend Angela painted murals on the girls’ bedroom walls. It was MY house. It was my HOME.

(prayers and painters)

Then the long story of financial better-ship and listening to God’s plan all happened and we found ourselves moving 6 miles north-east of my beloved house. It was hard to leave it and leave the girls’ beloved backyard play structure that my parents so generously and lovingly gave to us as an adoption gift. It was on this that Yolanta and Katie learned how to play at a park. Swings, slides and monkey-bars are not common in Haiti. Nonexistent in the orphanage.

We needed to move, so we did.
Oh yes, there were tears, but there was no sobbing, for I remember that all this is just
dust in the wind.
I proudly left the house, trusting God.

I’m going to skip over the part about our house selling & buying experience. It’s a fine story, but it’s not all that exciting and probably doesn’t need to be documented.
I’ll recap a few things:

-We sold our house in 5 months in an economy that is having record lows (thanks to our fab realtor George Huertas)
-We expected to downsize but ended up renting a house 100 sq feet BIGGER
-We stayed well within our new price-range that was originally showing us considerably smaller houses

Okay. You’re all caught up.
We moved in on our 16th wedding anniversary in August.

The house was built in the early 90’s and it’s pretty obvious. However, let me remind you, we are reeaaalllly lovin’ it here.
The basement is such a bonus. The homeschool room, the entertainment center for movies, Wii and Yoga, Husband’s office, the game room… it’s all in the carpeted basement where it stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer. There is a chandelier in my entryway. I LOVE the chandelier. For real.

(my gorgie chandelier, the double doors, the gold trimmed mirrors)

But there are gold trimmed mirrors, pink tile in the kitchen and the entire house is covered in Desert Sunrise colored carpet. And if you are a color wheel expert, you will know that this is on the brink of PINK. Yeah…growdy. There is an added-on yet funky sun-porch that I’m struggling to know what to do with. There are three gas fireplaces in the house. The one in the master bedroom is awkwardly situated and doesn’t allow for a comfortable room set up (because husband and I enjoy an entertainment center in our room).

But the prize exhibit, the piece de resistance, the tip-the-scales into barfy is the valance in the living room. It is just gauche!

(the pinky carpet and the valance. yes, those are gold tassels!)

This one day, not too long after we moved in, I had a dinner party. The guest list was 10 adults and a handful of kids. My husband and I were group leaders for the Love & Respect class being offered through our church. It was a 6 week course that met every Sunday evening. We had never met the 5 couples before the first class. So at the end of the course, we wanted to have everyone over for dinner to strengthen our friendships that had only begun 6 weeks prior. I knew much about them for we’d been discussing our marriages with each other for a month and a half! But I didn’t know everything.

While preparing to have them over, I got properly stressed over what to serve, and called my friend Sarah who’s used to cooking for big groups. Then, I started to get embarrassed about the thought of showing the carpet. Then I started to stress over something totally ridiculous. The valance in my living room! Oh, and the disgusting matching one in my dining room. They are not the easy to remove kind, they require a screw driver to get the hardware off to allow for the removal of the fabric. Nothing hard that I can’t do, but I just hadn’t done it nor considered doing it before they got there. Instead, I decided to make sure I let everyone know, THIS IS A RENTAL. No way did I pick those out! My thought process was, if I just make fun of them and ensure they were not a reflection of my personal style and taste, then everyone would forgive them and no one would look at me sideways and wonder why I’ve decided to decorate my house from 2 decades ago. I mean, SHEESH.

As the group started to arrive, I took coats, checked on my soup and offered people a drink all at the same time. While in the kitchen, I heard a small commotion. A sound that was foreign to the normal coming-in-the-door sounds. I walked around the corner and noticed that my front doors (French doors) were both open. This is unusual as we normally just open the side that has the doorknob. Other people had just gotten there and were standing in a group taking off shoes and chattering so I was having a hard time figuring out what was making all that noise and why in the world both doors were open!?

Then I saw.
A ramp had been placed from the bottom of the front porch, up the stairs and laid across the threshold.
A wheelchair bound teen boy was being wheeled up and into my house for dinner.

Now, I knew this couple and learned about the private struggles they had in their marriage. But I didn’t know they had a highschool son in a wheelchair. Thinking back to their input in the conversations, I could better understand their desperate need for ‘alone time’. I then knew what they meant when they said they were exhausted at the end of the day and didn’t often have time for their spouse. It made better sense now that they discussed schedules and transportation more than they did about their dreams for the future.

I was instantly humbled.

-Here I was fretting about the valances when this lovely couple was just simply trying to get their child out of the car and through the door.
-Here I was preparing conversation starters that would allow me to announce that I have better taste than the original homeowners, while my guests were preparing to have, yet again, the conversation about why, how, their son is forever in a wheelchair.
-Here I was worried that they’ll know my soup wasn’t homemade, that not all my dishes match and that my carpet is pink…and they were, they are, anticipating the day when Muscular Dystrophy will take over the most important muscle and stop beating life into their son’s body. This will happen very soon.

I had been proud to be an obedient daughter of God and leave my house that I loved so much, but then very quickly forgot that all of this is dust in the wind.

God, creator and owner of everything, please give me a love for people and for righteousness and a disdain for materialism and covetousness. I want to serve you with an undivided heart that cannot be swayed by the material things of this world. Amen.

I know it’s okay to decorate our houses in a way that makes us happy and to spend money on things that make us pretty. But it’s another to have a lopsided focus on the important things in life and instead worry about what other people think of me and my home. Do I have my eyes on Jesus? Am I honoring my husband? Am I raising my children to love God? Those are the most important things in my life.
It’s okay for me to find the decorations in this house to be ugly. But when it consumes me and my focus gets off joyfully serving others and being content with what I have, then I AM lopsided and need a dose of humility.

I'm so glad I got it. I can have friends over and not worry about the valances. Yes, I do still think their ugly, and yes, I do still plan on taking them down. But I'll be taking them down with a different motive. I'm not going to worry about other people's opinion or be embarrassed. Instead, I'm going to think about pleasing my family with a beautiful home. Until then, I'll have people over without being embarrassed. And I'll have a thankfulness that I have a house with windows, and healthy children and friends who love me.

(our cool new friends playing Nertz on NYE, making faces at me under my lovely valance)