Saturday, January 8, 2011

in the beginning

In January of last year I started writing, it was a fire on the inside that consumed me. I spent every spare moment I had writing and having no idea what God intended to do with it. Some of it has been copied and pasted into blog posts and other parts have stayed safely tucked away on my computer.  My story dates back fourteen years and this is the beginning.

I was 26 years old when I rolled in Minneapolis, recently discharged from the Army with nothing more than a duffel bag stuffed with my belongings in tow and no idea what I was doing.  My childhood friend that I grew up with back home in Wisconsin had moved there years before with her family, and since I had no real desire go back Wisconsin, Minneapolis seemed as good a place as any to start my new life. 

It wasn’t long before I got a job and went from sleeping on a mattress on my friend’s floor to a small downtown studio apartment, later that same year I enrolled in college and  bought my first house. Since I wasn't making much money at the time I bought what I could afford and although it wasn't a bad neighborhood it was in a lower income part of town and the previous owners were selling the house and moving because of the increasing crime in the neighborhood.  Fast forward a few years, the city started  a revitalization project in my neighborhood and brand new high end homes were being built just a few blocks from where I lived in my tiny cape cod, and just two semesters shy of graduating I landed a job in my field of study and I was largely ignoring God, after all what did I need Him for, my life was going just the way I wanted it to.  I didn’t exactly leave God out but I didn’t include Him either, I treated Him a little like the Wizard of Oz.  On the one hand He was the phantom in the sky that was angry at me for no other reason than I believed He was an angry God lying wait to punish me the moment I stepped out of line, yet He was my best friend when I needed a little wave of His magic wand to make whatever was going wrong in my life right again, stuffing Him back in His little genie bottle until I needed another miracle. My prayers, which were few and far between, were a laundry list of requests, a wish list of sorts that I wanted God to fulfill, He was the grantor of miracles and the maker of dreams and when I didn’t get what I wanted I thought I was being punished for some sin that I committed 10 years ago and He was now getting revenge on me.  Even though I largely ignored God He was not ignoring me, in fact he was fiercely pursuing me, I just didn’t know it yet.

It was September of 2001 and my sixth year of living in Minneapolis when life as I knew came to a screeching and abrupt halt with just a simple phone call on an otherwise rather uneventful Saturday evening.  It was my sister calling to tell me dad had a heart attack and was in the hospital, she didn’t know anything more than that, but someone would call me later.  It was one of the few moments in my life where I felt nothing there wasn’t even a thought in my head, just paralyzing numbness, barely able to move I felt as though I were in a pit of quick sand frantically trying to claw my way out and going nowhere, I probably could have been hit by tractor trailer and not felt it.  I didn’t even open my little genie bottle where I kept God safely tucked away, I didn’t see the point, I knew my father wasn’t going to live and no amount of prayer was going to change that.  I can only describe what happened next as feeling as if I were punched in the chest with such force that it almost knocked me over leaving me struggling to breath when the phone rang, still trying to recover from being pummeled by the invisible boxing champ that was taking his best shots at me I don’t even know if I said hello I just heard two words, dad’s gone. 

I can’t tell you what happened after that, I only remember standing alone in the chapel of the funeral home, looking into my father’s casket saying my final goodbye.  I placed my hand on his chest and disturbingly I felt nothing, no heartbeat no breath of life just the eerie stillness of the body that once housed my father, in a way he was almost unrecognizable to me, and that is when life as I knew it was over, it was time to go home.  My dad was the fourth family member to be buried that year and unknowingly there were two more to come.

With winter right around the corner and Minnesota winters are brutally harsh and unforgiving I decided to wait it out and put my house up for sale in spring, God had other plans.  That summer had been unbearably hot and humid the air was so thick outside that it was hard to catch a breath and it forced many people indoors for most of the summer including me, so I went on a frenzy of home improvements.  Every room got a fresh coat of paint, I refinished the oak floors on the main level, remodeled a badly in need of it bathroom, cleaned and purged closets, and not really knowing why I started packing up my house. When winter finally rolled around it was unseasonably warm, I am talking spring like temperatures in February unheard of in Minnesota, even lifelong Minnesotans said they had never seen a winter like that, there was no reason to wait any longer and many months before expected a for sale sign went up in my front yard and thus began the daunting task of selling my beloved home and mentally preparing myself for life back in Wisconsin, never imagining that I would ever be living there again and the revitalization project that was started years earlier spiked my property value. What I once wrote off as luck and really good timing, was actually God's plan and perfect timing, He took really good care of me and threw in a few extras on top of it.

  As I stared down the for sale sign that had taken up residence in my front yard, it was joyful sorrow, I was sad to be leaving Minneapolis, life had been good to me there but I was happy to be going home, I was looking forward to being closer to my family and watching my nephew grow up, I would be starting over in the place where it all began. 

As people shuffled their way in and out of my house, looking in closets and cabinets, scrutinizing every inch, unsolicited and almost unmerited comments during open houses didn’t quiet the underlying fear that no one would want my house, but it was only a matter of weeks before I had three offers and I met my realtor for lunch to discuss them.  I sold my house that day, the little fixer upper that I spent enormous amounts of time lovingly taking care of was essentially not mine anymore, closing was in one month.  When I got back to the office my boss confronted me and asked me if was I  planning to move to Wisconsin.  I was dumbfounded, I had no idea how he found out since I had not told anyone the only person who knew about it was me.  Before the day was done I was called to HR handed my last paycheck that included unused vacation time and a two month severance package with full benefits, since I was leaving in thirty days money was one thing I wasn't going to have to worry about.  Looking back it is not hard to see God's fingerprints all over that, the sweltering summer that forced me indoors to get my house ready to sell that at the time I didn't even know I was going to be selling, an unseasonably spring like winter that allowed me to put my house up for sale months before my planned date, loosing my job the same day I sold my house, not having to work so I could get my affairs in order for my impending move and having my needs more than sufficiently met during that time.  Moving turned into a full-time job and I would have lost my mind if I would have had to go to work in addition to it all.

I spent the next 30 days arranging for movers, boxing up my belongings, sleeping in and saying goodbye, it was strangely happy and sorrowful all at the same, I would wander around my half empty house remembering a life gone by.  The next month slowly flew by and before I knew it I was sitting in the my realtor’s office closing on my house and 3 hours later I was making the bittersweet 6 hour journey home to Wisconsin, and the beginning of a 5 year downward spiral that would land me square in the pits of hell.

until next time, same bat time same bat channel.....


  1. I loved getting to know you a little more! We all have a story to share don't we?? It's always beautiful to me how (in hindsight) we can see God's fingerprints all over our lives even when we might not be walking with Him at the time. I'll definitely be tuning in to hear more of your story. :)

  2. Hey girl, thanks for stopping by Living Power. What an amazing story you have here. I can see why my post resonated - you know blessing through sorry too. Kindred spirit! Glad to meet you!