“I wonder if loving and losing a place causes our hearts to fracture. Or does it enlarge our capacity for loving and making some other place well? Placemaking asks that we love a place with all of ourselves, but placemakers don’t always get to stay in the places they have made. Placemaking offers no protection from all the many forms loss can take. Am I brave enough to risk my heart again?”-Christie Purifoy, ‘Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty and Peace.’
We’ve been in Tucson 204 days. That’s 204 days without a hospital visit. Without an ER visit. Without a surgery. That’s 204 days my body has been healing instead of undergoing a new trauma. That’s 204 days I’ve been a wife and a mother to a family that truly felt I was slipping away. This is exceeding, abundant above all we could have asked or thought when God clearly made the providence and provision for us to come here. It still feels like a dream we might suddenly wake up from.
Everyone asks if things are really that much better here. Yes. So much better. There is hard. I’m just not posting about it, and I’m not writing about it, because that was the ONLY story for too long. I know this seems like a betrayal to some in my chronic illness community, because EDS and all the demons it spawns cannot be cured, especially by relocation. Those closest to me know the truth. I’ve had bad days. Stay in bed under my weighted blanket and take pain meds bad days. Monday and Tuesday were two of them. A front moved in with rain. The pressure was relentless. Perhaps the worst since we moved here. I was dizzy and nauseous. And my heart ached. I’m still keenly aware of every tube from my shunts and the whirring of fluid being pulled from my brain and spinal cord. But I didn’t feel desperate. I could see the forecast bringing warmth and sun and knew I could endure the suffering. Real hope changes everything.
We’ve had house guests and company since early February. I’ve been well enough to offer hospitality to dear friends and family. God is in the details, and I’ve loved serving and caring for others in the specific ways only having them in your home allows. Early in Dan and I’s marriage I had beautiful guest rooms. There’s something in me that thrills at the opportunity to say, “Come, rest here awhile.” Having the space to share these stunning views and new desert life has been gift. It’s also nurtured the dream I have to offer respite to other EDS warriors here. I won’t let that go. God won’t let me.
My parents were some of the guests we hosted. They were able to visit us for eleven days. It’s their second time out. They’ve fallen in love with the mountains and the sun. And they’ve missed us too. They were the ones who showed up whenever we called. Mom would stay with the girls. Dad would drop everything to drive me to Virginia or Pennsylvania for an emergency surgery. They gave us a place to live in their basement for a year and a half after Danica’s second brain surgery and fusion when I wasn’t able to lift my head and needed my own. They were willing to buy our sweet little ranch in their name and rent it but never made us feel like it was anything but our own. They know the absolute hardest part of our decision to move here was to let that home go and our greatest fear is we will never have another one.
They are retiring. They are wanting to move here. In all their love for us they have been trying to find a way to help us again. Beginning last May when they traveled here with us to explore even the possibility of moving we looked at new homes here in Oro Valley that allow two generations to live together under one roof with very separate living spaces. It seems like a great idea and a possible work around for the higher cost of housing here and Dan’s income relative to our medical debt and the reality of the cost of ongoing care. Perhaps we could make it work. This week we realized it’s just too expensive and Dan and I can’t contribute what we don’t have. It was painful and also a strange relief.
Here’s the most beautiful thing. My dad called me to talk about the dead end. What would we do? Would we stay in Arizona? Could we without the miracle help we’ve been given this year? Did we still want them to move here if we couldn’t make a housing fit work? I cried. Dan and I only ever wanted them to make the best decision FOR THEM. They’ve worked hard in education and ministry. They did not begin saving for retirement until very late. Nothing about them putting a large home loan for us both onto their plates at this stage in their lives seems right to us. Yes, dad, come. The same God who brought us here will keep us here and provide for us here.
Half of our time in this house is up. We promised we weren’t going to talk about it until March. It’s March 17th. We have 167 more days in this place. And then what? A man came to the door Tuesday night and said the mortgage wasn’t being paid by the lienholder. I broke down in tears. This house is rented under a trust for two children after their mother died in July of last year. She built it in 2005 as a healing place. I wanted to know the story of the family who lived here before us, and I’ve found out pieces and parts. It’s made me feel connected in a deeper way than I’d imagined. It’s made me let down my guard. Hang pictures. Scatter rugs. Unpack the last box. Exhale. All the while knowing there is an expiration date on this miracle. What if we don’t even have six more months? How behind are they? If this is true what does this do to our lease?
A little broken part of me frantically wonders if this is where the miracle ends. When there is no acute need are we finally on our own? Or maybe this is the most acute need we’ve ever had. Home is essential to be rooted. My heart’s cry for 2019. “Oh God, how I want a simple little place to settle in and exhale. Please God.” Home is essential to my continued healing and the hearts of my family, especially my Dan. It seems too hard. Our medical bills. My lack of access to insurance other than Medicare which limits my access to care and the need to come up with cash for continued treatments. Dan’s career. My disability. Danica’s braces, Delaney’s college visits and actual college…How can a family try for so long and come up empty?
But it’s never been empty, has it?
It’s always been Dayenu.
It’s always been enough.
More than enough.
One thing I know for sure about our God. He is always working behind the scenes preparing all the details long before He reveals the plan for deliverance. Isn’t this what the entire Old Testament teaches us? It’s always through a story we can best see how mighty to save He really is. The weaving of tragedy and heartache along with blessings and kept promises keeps us looking for the glorious Hope in the wilderness.
“The wilderness is not necessarily a desolate place. It has to own unique beauty, and that beauty is enough. It does not need us. It does not ask for our participation…The gift of the wilderness is that this is the place where we go to simply receive. This is the place we go to listen. In the wilderness, we are given the opportunity to lay down the burden of our desire to make and remake so that when some other place invites our participation and our creative efforts, we are ready to offer those things in humility.”
Our Heavenly Father longs to give us good things. He is the top broker in desert real estate and specializes in wilderness homes. He knows what we need and the deep desire of our hearts. More than anything He’s changed these hearts to trust Him with whatever He has planned. If it’s a cleft in the craggy side of the mountain we will go. If it’s a tent by the wash we will go. We know who He is. We trust His character and see His faithfulness. We believe God will make a way, even though we can’t see it now. We also believe there is no way for us to coordinate this plan for ourselves. There is freedom in this trust. Help will come. “God, please bring help. You know we give you every glory.”
We’ve had the most lovely past few days as a family. Thursday we went to bake goodies for the Ronald McDonald House. Friday I took the girls for haircuts. Dan came home to us hanging on the back patio listening to a family favorites playlist. We stayed out to see the sun set and much later. I whispered under my breath, “God I’ll never take this for granted.” Saturday we went downtown to an art show and had dinner with one another. Danica’s friend came to spend the night and they giggled and goofed off and Dan made a bonfire for S’mores. This morning was church and then Dan and I went for a long walk together. That’s a lot of life. Life I would never have if not here. I whispered as we walked quietly, “God, I’ll never take this for granted. Not ever.”
” . . . This is the story of how we reclaim the things that are lost. It’s also a story about how a home can be become sacred, and how in the process it can sanctify us as well. I can tell you these things because I have been in dark places–which is the only way any of us learns to love the light. . . Home is more than a place where we eat and sleep; it is where we learn grace, where we glimpse heaven. It is where we find or lose God, or perhaps where He finds us if we will only be still long enough to listen for Him.”-Tony Woodlief, Somewhere More Holy
Will you please pray for our family? Nothing is too hard for our God. Please pray for Dan’s work. That he will be recognized for his skills and commitment. Please pray for my sweet girls. They know the uncertainty about where we might live, and it’s hard on their hearts. Please pray for me. May I not miss a single glorious day in the place God’s given us and trust Him completely for everything we need for every good work. And I humbly ask you to pray for provision. Even so boldly as to ask for a secure long term home for us. Oh how I long to be rooted.
Thank you dear ones. You are God’s hands and hearts to us. Our Hope remains!