Sequence and Surprise

Woe! What’s happened? Two months have swallowed me rather like Jonah in the whale. As I’ve come up for air, rather dizzy and sea sick, I’ve needed to take in the journey’s views quietly. Now, as 2021 ends, what is there to think and to say?

First, the journey has taught me again (repetition is a key to learning) that, no matter how wise or foolish my thinking or choices may be, I am not in charge (control is an illusion), and to underscore the elementary lesson, the journey has  also illustrated that “you” (today’s “everyman” you) are not in charge either.

Are we lost in the cosmic darkness?

How necessary that we hear again the angel say, “Fear not!”

But how can we not fear, o we of faux control?

“Fear not, for I bring you tidings of great news.”

The angel-messenger indicates that we are not alone in some cosmic emptiness. Someone is in control. The Someone outside of “us” (transcendent), but near us (immanent), and is named Emmanuel — “God with us.”

I observe that our “God with us-God,” the “I AM-God” who claims to be in control, demonstrates His rule in our lives and in the world. He doesn’t offer to us His rule as an option; then we would be in charge.  But He does offer as on option to us His comfort. “Fear not.” “Good news.”

So what is so good about bad news? (Or, what is so bad about good news?)

Now we are getting into deep, theological territory. (Sigh. I only wanted to catch you up on the last few months, but my mind always goes to meaning — to the themes behind the unfolding sequences of events.)

If your life is anything like mine, the sequences of events at certain turns this year probably surprised you. Anyway, the turns in our road (almost always hidden from view) surely caught me by surprise and surprise, but the Apostle Peter counsels us not to be surprised (I Peter 4:12).

You know the political, social, and pandemic climate that has been the back setting for all of the plot lines and road turns each of us has experienced. Not in control of the climate, we aim to weather-proof our circumstances or at least our hearts. As we can. We want to be good stewards of the resources God has provided. We want to love one another in practical ways. We’ve tried.

My surprises revolve around the following people, events, and themes:

A Tale of Two Houses in One City. Cousin Sherrie. Paul Haney. Mike and Loretta (whom I dubbed Mick and Lilly in some older posts).  Friend, Judi. Jayne Russell and Jeff Olson. My soiled and sanctified soul. “O, Love that Will Not Let Me Go.”

I’ve been too overwhelmed to blog about any of this. So, I’ve just made a list to give me direction for the next few posts. I think I can write again. “Things” aren’t attempting to drown me now.

A Tale of Two Houses in One City.

If you’ve followed JNC for some years, you’ve followed me from Prescott Valley, Arizona where we lived from 2007 -2018 to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where we moved in 2018 to be closer to most of our family.

We found our Fort Wayne house on Zillow. “I could just buy that house,” commented Paul as he examined the listing while sitting at his desk in the study next to a wide window showing off the Bradshaw Mountains edging the valley not far away.

“Well, call the realtor,” I replied. Paul further explored the option, and God provided this home for us. It had many features Paul was looking for, and a few we were not. Since all the bedrooms were on the second floor, and since the beautiful property was large (to us — .76 of an acre), we expected that we’d move again at some point, after we learned to know Fort Wayne and its options better.

We moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, a place we’d never lived before, to settle down, grow old, and graduate to heaven from this area. Yes, it would be ideal to have a home area to return to, for our family to come back to their roots. However, here in FW, we are midway between each of our daughters (one in a Chicago suburb and one north of Cincinnati).  My sister’s whole family lives in Indiana, and many of them in Ft. Wayne. My niece, Elisa, was God’s prophet, as it were, to draw us to Fort Wayne. She takes her influence on us seriously, and we enjoy her little family (one football player-big husband and  two bright, little boys, ages 4 and 3. What a hoot!)

We made this FW house our home and put our finger prints all over it. Now at our new FW house, we miss Paul’s charming shed — a “she shed” on the outside and a “he shed” on the inside. We miss the two, cement deer standing guard in the rear of the property in front of the nature preserve woods. We miss the patio and pergola and great entertaining area. Ha. We wanted less yard, and we’ve got it now! No patio or pergola or large entertaining area. However, we have a beautiful, one story home. We are enjoying not having stairs to climb! And I love the gas fireplace, so cozy and easy to light. I’m composing this in front of the fire right now.

Moving from Arizona to Indiana had its challenges, but the Lord protected us and blessed us. We loved our cul-de-sac and our neighbors at our first FW house. We’ve already had a number of them over to the new house. Some of them helped us move.

Moving within Fort Wayne, just 2.8 miles from one house to another seemed like it would have to be easier than moving 1,800 miles across country. However, it became complicated. We contracted on the new house in July. Why?

Well, we weren’t looking to move yet. We were really getting to love where we were. But this opportunity presented itself (skip the story) and God opened the way. Another advantage to the new house is that it is in a neighborhood with a community center and two pools (and tennis courts and trails).  The development has a community spirit, and I’ve joined a group of women who meet at the club house every month.

When you don’t live in your home town, a community within a community that promotes community can be quite meaningful. I was also able to use the pool, meeting new neighbors before it closed in September, even though we hadn’t moved yet. This was encouraging.

We couldn’t take possession of the house until November because the sellers were building a new home. We put our house on the market in August and sold it in less than two days (after seven showings and three bids), but eight days later the buyers backed out. We put it back on the market and sold it within a week, but now it was September. We scheduled to close at the end of October, but at the closing, we learned that our cash buyers couldn’t access their money because of a recent, IRS lean put on it. We lost them.

Now our house was going back on the market in November, and the Fort Wayne market was cooling down. We sold it a third time, with a closing date set for Dec. 21!! Wow, from Mid-July to December — just to move 2.8 miles to a ranch on a smaller lot. Fortunately, the closing day was moved up to Dec. 8. The moves are over. We thank God.

We didn’t get what we had expected for the house, but it all worked out, and God has taught and re-taught us many lessons. My husband, Paul has always said that we are stewards of the resources God provides, that is, all we have is His. I have said that money is a tool (not a god).

For me, God showed me the war going on in my heart between wanting to honor Him and desiring more, revealing greed in my heart disguised as good stewardship. Paul doesn’t think he had the greed temptation, but I did, and God used this six month real estate episode as a tool to show me that my character has far to go. I’ve been reminded: just because you’ve known Jesus since you were a young child doesn’t mean your propensity to sin is less or gone: trust God and not yourself. Always.

What grace, that God’s reprimand to me, felt in my conscience and spirit, was marbled with great kindness, as God has honored my husband’s faithfulness, and God has provided us with yet another beautiful home. I recognize that people around the world would love to have many of the struggles I have. Whatever our challenges, God teaches us through them and is always there with His children.

Here are a few pictures of our old and new Fort Wayne homes. In the next blog, I want to tell you stories about the sweet people I mentioned in that list above, so stay tuned!

The house that brought us to Fort Wayne.

There is as much yard behind this picture as in front. Great for the grandsons!!


The She-He shed that Paul utilized so well.









The new house is in a wooded development. We are up a bit on a hill. Ours is probably the smallest house in the neighborhood, but this is our retirement home. Our final retirement home, Lord willing!!


Living room in the new house. We had a bit of snow this week, but it soon was gone.


Grandsons in front of the Christmas tree at the new house.


Our daughters, Charissa and Amanda. Charissa means grace and Amanda means love. We have grace and love in our family.










For me, the sequence of events (the plot) this year took me by surprise. God needed to show me my heart’s need, to reveal some blind spots, and to show me within my own, daily context His loving faithfulness.

Next time: Tales of Two, Three, or Four Friends.

A God-blessed 2022 to you all.

Categories: Moving, Spiritual Growth | Leave a comment

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