Wednesday, January 4, 2017

31 Days: Painting the Foreground

"Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content."  I Timothy 6:6-8 ESV

Chris and I were married the summer of 2001. I can't tell you what our combined bank accounts amounted to but it wasn't much. We rented an old trailer for our first little place to live. Actually, the trailer belonged to a kind, old couple who let us live there if we paid all the utilities.

We were happy in our little, old trailer. We shivered in the corners in the wintertime and wore extra clothes and put plastic on the windows. We set up our thrifted card table, covered it with a table cloth and enjoyed our meals there. We swept old, brown carpet and put wallpaper on some of the dark, paneled walls. We stored extra canned goods in the half bath that didn't work and put our freezer on a porch outside. When the need arose, we slept on an air mattress and let overnight guests use our bedroom.

Five and a half years and two children later found us owning 15 acres of land. We had bought a double wide that had been used as "cabins" at a resort, moved it on our land, gutted and remodeled it and called it home. We bought a fridge and a stove, a second hand couch and chair, an old table with four leaves that we re-finished and a bookshelf we paid a friend to build. Our "new" house wasn't fancy, with it's unfinished corners here and there, but it was clean and roomy and ours. The outside of the house was another story, with it's old, dilapidated siding and the yard that never became much of a yard but it was a work in progress and we loved living there.

As the years passed, Chris' countertop work dwindled to almost nothing and his business ventures in other directions produced more stress than gain. Times were tough. In 2011, when a job opportunity presented itself in Chris' home state of Ohio, it felt like the door we had been waiting for.

If having less is a key to the kingdom, moving to Ohio took us to the head of the line. For a year we didn't have a house to call our own. Our family of six lived with Chris' parents, storing all our earthly goods in boxes in a musty old storage building and keeping out only the essentials. Our bedroom was our only personal space and two of our children bedded down on the floor there every night.

If ever we had achieved "stranger and pilgrim" status, it had to have been then. We had each other and a shed full of boxes and that was pretty much it. Except it wasn't.

We had family, and a place to live. We had friends and people who cared. We had health and a will to survive. We had a Father who was teaching us lessons in the hard places and who continued to lead us, one door at a time. And we had a shop building that had once belonged to Chris....

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