In April of 2008, after searching over 100 properties, John and I bought a beautiful piece of land in Pisgah Forest and began plans for building our own home. We chose a modular based on a layout I drew, and we were so excited when we were finally able to move in on December 23rd. We didn’t even have permanent power yet, but that didn’t matter; we had our Christmas tree and a propane heater. We were set, and it was a beautiful gift, one we enjoyed for nine years.
When I realized I would be moving to South Carolina, it was my desire to rent out this sweet home. I thought it would be a great retreat for us at times, and it was an opportunity for me to stay connected to the community that was so special to me. Last month, I decided that by holding onto it, I was keeping myself from fully moving forward from that season of life with John. If you’ve experienced the loss of someone you love dearly and saw daily, you likely understand the struggle between moving forward and holding on. Our memories, which are so meaningful, can become crippling without the balance of excitement and hope for the future, and we are at risk of dwelling in despair over a season that has ended. On the flipside, focusing only on what’s next without acknowledging and remembering both the beauty and the pain of the past leads to unhealthy grieving and an impartial picture of God’s grace. Holding onto the house was encouraging me to dwell, and this gift that was so instrumental in showing me the faithfulness of God, was keeping me from embracing my new home and God’s plans for me here.
I’ve known all of this for a while, and yet, I ignored it; I allowed other issues to push the house plans to the side. Unfortunately, though Tom’s old house has had dozens of showings, we have received no offers to purchase. While we are grateful we have been able to pay for three houses for seven months, that won’t last, we have accumulated more debt than we would like to hold onto, and the maintenance and responsibility of additional houses is a heavy burden. So it was out of a desperation to simplify that I chose to let go, and it was time to deal with the question of why it was so hard. It’s just a building. Why did the thought of saying goodbye hurt so badly? Did I really think I would forget the memories of John there? I evaluated my motives and searched out my fears. I knew that when I walk in those doors, I am overwhelmed by peace, something this new life doesn’t readily offer, but I also knew that true peace comes from God, and I could not allow my feeling to dictate this decision, so I moved forward with getting the house ready. As I cleaned each room, God revealed more of my heart’s struggle as He flooded my mind with memories. I remembered sitting in the dining room when I realized Erik was autistic and Jason’s whimpers on the couch after his leg was broken. I remembered crumbling to my knees to cry in the kitchen after John was diagnosed with ALS and Erik asking me if John was going to die when I sat with the two boys in their room after telling them John was sick; and I remembered John - him sitting in the shower with his head hanging down while I bathed him because his neck was weak, and that morning in our bedroom when his lungs were finally too weak as well. Despite the countless memories of joy and laughter in that home, these were the ones that mattered most that day, which I found strange at first but quickly understood. Peace doesn’t come from the lack of hardship but by the presence of God when we surrender ourselves to Him in the midst of it. The Lord is near to the broken hearted and will not leave us. He is faithful, and He is good, something He proved to us over and over again in that home.
So the question then became how to say goodbye to a place where God drew close and His presence is still so palpable. The counselor Tom and I meet with challenged me to find something from the old house to bring with me that would offer a connection. I do want to try to bring John’s tree we planted after he died, but other than that, I wasn’t coming up with much, but my realtor asked me for pictures of the winter view the other day, though, and I found a beautiful sunrise shot from the back deck, which I immediately set as my desktop background. I love that picture and what it represents, and I thought that maybe I had other images from the house that I could put up in my prayer spot. I found one after another sharing moments when I was still enough to see the beauty of God around me, and as I arranged them, it was not lost on me that many were not from my house, or even Western North Carolina at all. Views from California, Virginia, New York, Minnesota, Utah, Arizona and, yes, even South Carolina adorn the wall and remind me clearly that God is not confined to my little house in Pisgah Forest and confirm that He is establishing a home of peace in my new life, even if it is hard to see now.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
Jesus’ death on the cross reconciles us to God. It was His sacrifice that paid the price for our sin and grants eternal life and the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who believe. It is through the Spirit living in us that we have access to the peace of God here in this life. Though I have not lost my faith, the everyday challenges of life often distract and exhaust me, which keeps me from fixing my eyes on Jesus and actively trusting Him with each concern. BUT He promises His peace, and He keeps His promises, something all of those pictures loudly called to mind. I’m so grateful He doesn’t get tired of teaching me the same lesson. ;)
Please click here and share if you know someone looking for a beautiful home in Pisgah Forest, or if you know of anyone moving to the Clemson area, this is a great home! And to all who have loved us so dearly by helping us maintain, repair, renovate and even pay for this home in the past, please know that those memories are also cherished when thoughts of this home come to mind and your gift is invaluable to me!