#actuallyhomeowners

So, you know, we moved to Indiana this time last year. You remember “From the Mountains to the City.” In  many ways, this was such a good thing. It gave us the chance to get to know Not the Mama’s family a lot more, we had some fabulous adventures, hello Children’s Museum and State Fair!… as if living in the 6th largest city in the US isn’t an adventure in itself.
But, the fact is, we moved to Indy out of desperation. Not the Mama had lost his job and our rent had doubled.  We debated and cried and talked and then we were offered free housing for a “year or two” by a family member who has an empty second house. In Indiana. We could live with them for a month or two at most and then move into that house. 
It wasn’t until we were on the way that we realized that the house wasn’t “livable”…in fact, so much so, we were never even shown the house once we got there.  The point is, our whole goal has been to own a house for so many years. Living somewhere free for a year or two would allow us to save money so we could have a down payment. After being denied financing in 2013, homeownership had almost become The Thing everything rotated around. The whole decision to move to Indiana hinged on that house. So, we moved to IN to live in a free house that couldn’t be lived in and ended up living with family for many moons. Until someone in TN offered us a house rent free for six months and the kids and I returned. You know the rest of that part of the story. (Cows! Generosity! Blessing! Back to Tennessee!)
Well, we knew our time on the farm was coming to a close and so we reached out to a realtor: we wanted to try again. Six months of no rent didn’t get us to a down payment but that and some other circumstances found us with So.Much.Less.Debt. We started searching houses…and in March, with only weeks to go before we had to move out of the little house on the farm, our realtor-turned-friend took us to see a house we loved in downtown Johnson City (not my ideal location) and her grandmother’s house she and her family had been remodeling (perfect location). We fell in love with her grandmother’s house and I guess the rest is history.
Fortunately, they let us take early occupancy of the house (I didn’t even know that was a thing) and we ACTUALLY CLOSED on May 6. I still can’t believe it’s true. It’s doubly special when they gave me a part of a yo-yo quilt Ms Hazel (whose house this once was) was making as her last quilt project. It’s in my kitchen now. 

Our adorable house is right in the middle of all three major towns around us. We are 20 minutes to ballet, 18 minutes to our favorite two restaurants, ten minutes from Greg’s job and just right here, so close to where most of our people reside. It’s not a big house, it’s a regular people house- we are regular people, in case you didn’t know. It has a huge beautiful yard that backs up to farmland (thank God for cows in my kitchen window view once more) and even a great front yard the kids love to play in and are safe in. They can climb trees and I can sit under trees. We are nestled in an older neighborhood where my neighbors invited us to a get together complete with gluten-free desserts and coffee (this is my love language) and kids ride their bikes down the streets and folks are out digging in their yards. There are flowers sprouting up in my own flower bed. The den is a fantastic room with a 10 foot brick wall and fireplace and rough-hewn barnwood walls. (Perfect for me and gives this cute place amazing character). Also did I mention a completely remodeled kitchen? Sigh.

But best of all, our time as renters is over.  This is OUR house. Our home. (And I’m never moving again, y’all.)

#actuallyhomeowners:
-never have to ask permission to paint the walls
-don’t have to worry about old ladies who don’t want their flower beds touched
-don’t have to worry about old ladies who want you to do crazy yard work (and still not touch certain flower beds)
-don’t have to keep up mini-blinds
-don’t have to stress when the kids scratch the floor (it’s already happened, y’all)
-can put as many holes in the walls as they want to

-get the chance to be stretched in whole new areas of responsibility

-don’t have to leave behind swingsets or things that wont’ fit in the moving truck (this is how we lost our grill, filing cabinet and several chairs and bookshelves)
-don’t have to move every year or have the worry of moving over their heads
-don’t dread the changes in leases or rent amounts
-get the chance to grow food (and flowers)
-never have to change their address or school zone again
-can say ‘this is my home’

  

And That’s Enough

I can’t wait for them to go to bed. It’s around 7 PM and I’m thinking- I just have one more hour until it’s quiet.  And then it’s 8:30 and it’s quiet and I’m wishing they were still awake. Only calm and adult-like, or maybe actually adults. I’m lonely.

I’m alone now, with the dog beside me on the floor.
Since October, my husband and I have lived in separate states. He has work there, but not enough to afford housing around the big, loud city in the flat, flat, flat land. And I have housing here in the mountains, with our people at hand, but he can’t find work. It’s one of the stranger in-betweens we have been in.

This time last year, Not The Mama had a well-paying job with a wealthy businessman, full of great promise and potential. We didn’t know a couple months later his boss would decide that vacationing was more important than paying a salary (or even a severance) and we would be without income. We didn’t know we would lose housing, twice. We didn’t know when we chose to live with Greg’s family that it would drag on and on without inclination of realistic income. Or that two weeks after we left, Momo would die and we wouldn’t get back in time to say goodbye. We didn’t know that just a few months later, my oldest friend would suddenly and shockingly pass away as well. And we would be living seperatly, once more living in a house that’s a temporary solution to a bigger problem, the prospect of moving a certainty. And soon.
I didn’t know I would begin to question if I could continue homeschooling. That I would worry that I would be forced to find a job at minimum wage and only spend a couple hours a day with them. That I would find myself questioning if could continue in some of circles without feeling as though I’ll never fit anywhere.

I didn’t know 2015 would be so hard. That’s what I mean. And I’m glad it’s almost over.

So here I sit, another night alone, the stress just tampered by the Christmas lights on the tree and the sound of sleeping children and the patter of the dog as he moves from spot to spot, the dryer humming steadily to catch us up on the laundry I let get behind for two days worth of haircuts and coffee dates and throwing a little birthday celebration for my friend’s three year old who will not remember her. I remember how I got here but I don’t know why.
A year ago I would have thrown my hands up and asked why. A year ago I would have dug through every last sin and ugly thought and blamed myself. I would have pondered and questioned and agonized. But that is for fools, I know. That is for Job’s friends and that’s for the past.
This is a season.
And I’ve had enough hard years, goodbyes and losses, difficult decisions, tough conversations and seasons almost just exactly like this one to know that they end. There is an ending to these seasons and beginnings to new ones. There will be a spring once more.
Today, twice, when people asked me how I’m staying sane, parenting four kids alone on little income, grieving deeply, wondering about the next day and the next job and the next year, I answered “who says I am sane?” without laughing. Because, really, I’m getting through. And that’s enough.

Sweet Meg

Megan loved Lifetime movies. I mean, we would watch them and discuss them 10 times. She literally lived off of coffee. So. Much. Coffee. She loved to eat cheesy bread and pizza. She loved the ranch dressing at Chef’s- and drinking Vanilla Coke. Jersey Mike’s was the way to her heart. She loved rocking babies, that was her happy place, truly. Anybody’s baby, especially her own babies. She loved playing video games. Megan could beat any Mario-related game…and has, several times. We even talked about renting a cabin in Gatlinburg for just me and her and taking only food, coffee and the Nintendo’s for a weekend-long gaming session uninterrupted by kids and chores.She could cook me (and most of us) under the table. She made the best dips and soups. She made the cleverest Walking Dead meals (chicken parm with olive eyes, anyone?) She loved DB football and the Florida Gators.
She was so funny but she didn’t know she was funny, and that’s the best kind, really. Megan loved holidays. Loved parties. She loved having people in her home, I think that may have been her favorite thing, a house full of people laughing and talking and eating. She loved her dog, Reba…and she is why we have our dog, Olaf. She loved patios and picnics. She loved watching our kids play together and imagined a world where at least one of her kids married one of mine and so we often called each other ‘the mother in law’. She never has met a stranger and every where you go with her, someone knows her, and to know her is to love her.
She loved Tim Johnson with a fierce, undying love ever since we were young kids who didn’t even know what love was. She adored her mama, counted her siblings as her best friends, loved time with her Grandma, her aunts and her cousins. She was their biggest fans.
Meg was a champion of the forgotten….she noticed the person alone in the corner, she recognized the lonely, the friendless, the lost, the orphan. She valued the people others had ignored.
She would not let you quit her. She would forgive over and over, she has given me grace so many times over so many years. And she literally would not let you remember the wrong you’d done against her. She loved so hard, so deep. I believe you could call her love true devotion, for once she loved you, she always loved you, through every flaw and every wrong.
Megan could get so ticked off…and be over it two seconds later. She would give you anything she had- her last cup of coffee, clothes, food, money- you would have to literally offend her to get her to keep whatever she had decided you needed. I failed at that a lot. Once she wanted it done, she did it. I’m sure you can ask Tim Johnson Emma Clark Marisa Moore Clark Russell Clark about that one.
Megan loves her kids. She loves Marlon so hard. I remember when she brought him to town for the first time and that look in her eye: completely devoted. She fought for that boy. It’s hard for me to even talk about it, to talk about Marlon, because is my boys’ favorite friend and I love him like he is mine, like I have shared in her love for him as a mom somehow. Megan, I will never let him forget all the days you had with him and how much you loved him. I will never stop loving him either and I look forward to a million more slumber parties and visits to bounce places and putt-putt and games and midnight movies and Michael Jackson dance-off’s. I will love you, my friend, by loving your boy, just like I promised you.
Megan loved being pregnant with Edie, loved expecting a daughter. She loves how much Edie looks like her (and has her sass!!!) Her mini-me with fair hair, we say. Edie is a special girl, she is special like her mama; she has never met a stranger, will make you laugh so hard you cry, and has that light- just like Meg. She was a dream come true for Meg and I know she will know it. I know she will grow all her days knowing what her mama gave to give her life and how very, very loved she is.
Megan was determined, I mean, DETERMINED to rescue Levi. When she overheard that he had been called undesirable, unadoptable, well, that was that. The battle armor she donned and fought for him she did. He knew her for such an unfairly short time but she is how he will know love, Megan is how he will grow up in a family. She gave him that. And that beautiful boy may only remember her through our stories, but tell the stories we will!
I will never forget Meg’s call when she had learned about Mila, her tiny mini-Marlon. You can’t know the work it takes to parent a child born drug addicted until you do it, or watch someone do it but Megan did it. She and Marisa and Tim have worked endlessly for that baby and it has paid off. Mila is bright and smart and beautiful and happy. You did that, Meg! You did that. Mila, your mama took such delight in you, you gave her so much joy. You’re a little spark, tiny friend, and you are loved so much.

Megan has been my friend over a lifetime. I remember the first time I talked her into going to Rascal’s, organizing something for our senior float (mostly that we were both cranky about it- she always said it’s because we had yet to discover coffee), talking about boys (uh-hum, Tim) and a million teenaged things. And then those talks morphed after some years into talking about diaper brands and ear infections and trading clothes for our kids.
She was a real person, with real flaws. Honestly I think she would hate for people to remember her as perfect or flawless. She might even have a few creative choice words about that. But she was doing her best and trying her hardest all the time. I believe that with my whole heart.
When I had surgery a couple years ago and developed an infection, she was there for me throughout that time, she changed dressings and helped with the IV’s. When I have had hard days, she’s been there. When I have had hard years, she’s been there. When I sat at my Momo’s funeral a few months ago, she sat right across the aisle from me. I wish I could see her face at everyone’s sweet words and memories of her. She didn’t value herself the way we all value her. She couldn’t see how lovable she was, she didn’t believe people loved her this much. She just didn’t know how beautiful she was. She just didn’t know. But now she knows.
She has been my cheerleader as long as I can remember. I never deserved her friendship and how very good she was to me. I will miss her every day.

Megan knew the Lord and she was never ashamed of that. If her life could stand for one thing, she would simply choose this- Love God and Love Others. And so we know our sorrow is not without hope and we will see you again my sweet friend

  
   
  
  
  
  

  
  

Let’s Make A Way For Them to Choose Life, Not Abortion

 

I think maybe some things need to be said. Here’s me throwing in my two cents.

I have a lot of friends on either side of every issue.
I like this about my friends. I like being challenged to consider what I really think and believe and why.
I like that I am not surrounded by people who all look like me, think like me, or even worship like me.  I think it is terribly sad when people only entertain others in their life who are in agreement with them.

And because I have this rich integration of people, I see.

When it comes to pro-life or pro-choice, I know very few who sit on the fence. And I have a number of people I call friends who are pro-choice, although I am not. And what I want to say today is that from time to time, someone will make such a darn good point, I can’t pass it up.

Being pro-life should not be limited to infants.
To those who believe in “the woman’s right to choose,” it is heinous that there are 500,000 children in America’s foster care system. There are half a million children in our backyards who have no home, no parents, no family. This is a number and a problem that is often ignored by those of us on all sides- but very much so in the conservative camp.
Ever heard a conservative talk about cutting free medical care to the poor? How about cutting food stamps?
Of course you have! So have I! I hear it constantly.
This is a contradiction, my dears. If you expect the woman living in poverty to NOT abort her baby because of poverty, you must help her live. This is being pro-life. She can’t feed the baby as he grows up without assistance.  So take away her welfare? And expect her to keep her child? This makes absolutely no sense, folks.

In fact, it makes less and less sense as you consider it, am I right?

Upon sharing that we would like to adopt from foster care again one day, perhaps when our kids are a bit older, we were told by a family member (a conservative) that we wouldn’t want to do that because we will want time to “spoil our grandchildren.”  This is part of the problem, folks.  Our life has revolved completely around ourselves for so long that we can’t even think about the meaning behind our words…we aren’t even ashamed of saying: “Don’t adopt again, it will take too much of your TIME, MONEY, FEELINGS. Don’t you want all that to yourself? It might be an inconvenience to take in an orphan.”

But people aren’t inconveniences.  They are people.

And so are unborn babies people.

Foster kids, kids in poverty, hungry HUMANS in this world are not SOMEONE ELSE’S PROBLEM.  They are my problem.  They are your problem.

This should all go hand-in-hand. Pro-life means Pro-LIFE!

I want Planned Parenthood defunded. I find it disgusting that tax dollars pay for their practices.  I find it depressing that women are desperate enough to abort their babies. I am not defending them. I do not support them.  I am saying that if we want to be a pro-life nation, we have to be a PRO-LIFE nation. We have to support moms who want to keep their babies and are homeless or jobless or need help in any way. Let’s make a way for them to choose life, not abortion.

We have to support foster care adoptions and foster parents.  We have to press our government to change laws that allow birth parents to be harassed, ridiculed, and even sometimes charged for abandoning their children. Leaving an infant at the hospital to be adopted should be an option that goes without penalty. Let’s make a way for them to choose adoption, not abortion.

We have to press our government to make foster care adoptions more available, to not leave adoptable children in the system for years and years without true plans for permanency. People should be able to adopt without so much trauma in our own country.  Let’s make a way for hopeful parents to choose adoption.

We have to support the creation of places that are like Planned Parenthood’s good side- free medical care and support for those who are living in poverty.
We have to bring light to the staggering statistics regarding abortion and the seemingly obvious targeting of specific races. We have to read the numbers and watch the videos and BELIEVE THEM.  And then change.

Momo and Clock

She told me a few years ago, while we were doing a series of ‘interviews’ that she felt he is who taught her to truly love; that he loved her with such a depth and so unconditionally in a way she hadn’t known was possible or even real. Whenever she spoke of him she would say “I know I was loved” and that love had changed everything for her, to know all her flaws and her mistakes were covered by this great love he carried for her most of his life. That he saw her for who she was and not who others told her she was.

When we told the kids the news, that Momo was gone, Noah, through tears told us he was so sad to lose Momo but he was so happy for her because “now she can be with Clock again.” Even the babes knew their love was special. A rare gift.

Their life together, their true love, is a testament to so many of us, friends and family alike. May we all be able to say “I know I was loved.”

John and Marie Throp, married 1962.

My Momo

I don’t know what you say about an entire lifetime of love.


 What I can say is that my Momo loved everyone SO WELL. Her legacy is one of love for all who knew her.

Momo, Marie, had a particular way of making you believe you were special, she lived out not just “I love you” but “You are loved by me” and not just for those of us in her family but for all who knew her. She had the same best friend her entire life and they talked on the phone every evening with few exceptions. She had deep relationships with cousins in distant lands and “aunts” who had long since changed last names.

Momo valued people, valued discussion, valued emotions, valued positive thinking, valued kindness. She modeled forgiveness and she found joy in every circumstance, even if it took some time. She spent many years building a beautiful legacy for all of us who choose instead of judgment, acceptance and instead of anger, kindness and instead of conditions, true love.

I don’t know yet how to live in a world without my Momo but I have to begin learning as she left this earth today.

As Lily and I stood in an unknown parking lot and cried together too far away from her, I know for sure that we have learned to love from her and will continue on in her legacy.


  
  

 You are Loved.