Archive for June, 2011

Holding on…Barely

I have always been the sort of person that likes to hear numbers. For example, if someone says, “so-and-so, had a really big baby”, then I want to know how big. If someone says they made a lot of money on something, I want to know how much.

Yet, it seems like I am a loner in this mentality. I want specifics. I want details. I don’t want generalities. I want the whole story. So this is generally how I write…with specifics, details, numbers. I have actually tried editing that stuff out, but it seems so not me! So for today’s blog, I am going to give numbers. Sorry to those of you who like generalities.

Our current rent is $600 a month, which after looking at other 2 bedroom/1 bath homes is a lot, but we also have one acre. Most rentals don’t have acreage. Also, our landlord has said we can paint, fix up the place, have goats, whatever. Most rentals don’t allow that.

There have been two other possible rentals available to us. One is 3 bed/1 bath (I think) and $845. The other is 4 bed/2 bath for $875. While the 4 bedroom has almost everything we are looking for, there is no way we could possibly swing that much money (and we wouldn’t be able to keep our goat). Right now we take no salary from the store. When we have a bill, we figure out a way to pay it. There is no extra. None.

Through my tips, I am usually able to scrounge enough together to pay for Zumba classes (which means a lot to my personal well-being). But I don’t have enough for hair cuts, shoes, clothes, or dog grooming.

So it is looking like even though we would like to move, the expense is just too much. Actually, it is too much to stay and too much to move. The electric bill and repair costs are a lot, but moving would be more.

I am feeling quite discouraged with the whole thing. Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Will all this hard work ever pay off? Will our children just grow to resent us for having this store and this small run down house?

I am trying my best. I am pressing on. I holding on to hope.

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Alaskan Man

Several months ago, a man walked into our store for a cup of coffee. There were no other customers in at the time, and I struck up a conversation with him. He was visiting from Alaska. Now we get a lot of visitors from all over the world in our store and have had many from Alaska, but this guy was different.

At about 5’3″ and about 100 pounds, what he lacks in stature he makes up for in personality. He is dressed rather like an Indiana Jones with khaki cargo pants, Eskimo boots, and trusty hat. He also wears two leather straps across his chest loaded with knives, phone, stop watch, and who knows what else.

I give him his coffee in his mug and he pulls out this big knife to squeeze honey onto and stir his coffee. But his arsenal doesn’t scare me. No, he has a quiet way about him and a ready smile.

I saw him a couple of times that week and then not again until recently. Then I got to see him a lot!

Alaskan Man came in almost every day. We would chit-chat, and I got to know a lot about him and him about us. Soon he was in a predicament. He needed a place to stay. We didn’t help him, but I often wondered “what would Jesus do?”

He still came back. His friendship was not based on our ability to help him. Over the next month, Alaskan Man came several times a week if not every day. Towards the end of his visit, he even came with us to church a couple of times. Once he even scrubbed our bathroom to help us get ready for an event. He brought me morel mushrooms that he had hunted in the woods. He gave the kids little tokens of his gratitude.

You might start thinking that maybe this man was a con man. Well, I thought he might be too. So I decided to do a little research on him. Every thing he told us was true. I even asked him questions that I could research out. All legit. He even offered once for me to talk to his wife in Alaska, but by then I knew he was the real deal.

At one point,  I thought to myself, what if this was Jesus? What if it is like the scripture says?

“Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me.”

It isn’t very often that you meet someone as genuine and true as Alaskan Man. One Sunday, my pastor was preaching about the people God brings into your life. People that have a great impact. People that you would never have thought could influence you. I am honored and humbled to have known Alaskan Man, and I look forward to his return to the lower 48 some day.

May we all be so blessed to meet someone like Alaskan Man. And may we have the courage to trust and share our lives with them. Would you have?

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So Called Christians

No follow-up on the property management company. They never called back. Interestingly, I was told to call them because “They’re owned by Christians.”

The RV park in town is also managed by a Christian. But after a long wait we got a letter that they would not make an exception to renting to us on the claim that they are not a long-term RV park. Let’s forget about the fact that I was only looking for a short-term stay, and I know someone who was there at that time “long-term”.

It really irks me that people make claims about doing business with someone because they are a Christian. I am not looking to only do business with Christians. No, I would much rather to business with people who are ethical…moral…honest. And it seems that lately these are not the qualities of most Christians.

For each person who comes into the store, I try my best to treat them with as much kindness and love as I can. It doesn’t matter to me if they are buying a Christian book or devil worship book. I appreciate tips in the cafe when I get them, but I’m not expecting them. I would much rather the person keep their tip money if they need it.

I find it interesting though that most of the Christians that come into our store never tip. When we have “Christian” events, I’m used to the fact that I won’t get many tips. We once had some heavy metal bands come and perform in our Lizard Lounge. We had 100 people in, and I made like $15 on tips that night. Couple of days later we had 80 people in for a Christian band. I made $2.

This isn’t going to stop my loving on people or having Christian events, but I really think it is sad. As Christians, we should be known for our generosity…not our cheapness. We should give freely…after all we have a wealthy, generous God. We should be know for our honesty, our kindness. Something is really messed up if we aren’t known as such.

We need to wake up, Christians…myself included. Just because something is legal doesn’t mean that it is moral or ethical. Just because it is social acceptable doesn’t make it right.

Have a moment? Go and read this blog.

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Big Break???

I called around to an apartment complex and some property management companies. Same response as always.

“No, we don’t have anything large enough for you.”

“It doesn’t have to be large. Would you be willing to rent to a family of 10?”

“No, we would have to rent a 5 bedroom, but we don’t have anything like that.”

Thanks.

Called another property management company.

“Would you be able to rent to a family of 10?”

“Umm, we don’t really have any thing that large. But I could always ask the owners if they would be willing to rent it to you?”

“Really? You mean, you would rent it to us if the owner’s were OK with it?”

“Umm, maybe? I really need to ask the manager. I’ll call and let you know.”

Wow. Could this be the break we have been looking for?

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Moving by Prayer

We live in a very cute 2 bedroom house with about 800 sq feet and an awesome laundry/mudroom. We also have one acre that has fruit trees, a fire pit, room for our goat and chickens, and a play structure for the kids to have fun on. It’s a great property, and a small old house.

Yet, we have to find a new place to live. We only just moved to this house 6 weeks ago, but it has gone downhill from day one and today became the last straw.

From home repairs, cleaning, poor heat, not able to have renter’s insurance and, now, aggressive neighbors, we find that we must move and soon.

This is no easy feat for us. No, it is not because we have a lot of stuff. It is because it is difficult to find a place that will rent to us.

By law, we have to rent a 5 bedroom apt/home. This leaves us very few options since currently there are no 5 bedroom anythings in Prineville. We would buy a place, but lender’s won’t even give us the time of day till we have 2 years tax returns for our business. We would rent a space for our RV, but we exceed the park’s occupancy restrictions. So we are at the mercy of hoping to find a homeowner willing to rent to us…and prayer.

It sure is a good thing we have prayer.

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My Friend

So I have this friend. She is my closest friend. I almost feel bad saying that since I haven’t spoken to her in a couple of months. I also haven’t seen her for several years. But I know that at any moment. I could call her and she would be there. I know that if I needed a place to stay, I could stay with her. I would really, really love to see her, talk with her, catch up on our lives.

But I have a life…a separate life…that at the moment doesn’t allow me much free time. On my family’s one day off, we are usually having to catch up on cleaning and laundry and trying to hang out a little bit together. It’s hard. Times are hard. We are doing what we have to do to get by.

A local bus driver came into the store today. I asked him how his summer vacation was going. He said he just got back from Florida. I asked if his wife had been able to go with him (since I knew she owns a business). He said, “No, you know how it is when you own your own business.”

Boy, do I ever!

Even though I would love to see my friend, and I know she would love to see me, she isn’t mad at me for not coming to see her. She isn’t holding a grudge. She isn’t complaining or whinning. No, actually, if she could arrange it, she would find a way to come see me.

That’s love. That’s why she’s my friend. And sometimes friends are more valuable than family.

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Fed Up

I woke this morning a little depressed and feeling sorry for myself. It was cold in the trailer (yep, we are somewhat back in the trailer). The neighbors played horseshoes a mere few feet away from where I laid my head till about midnight. This made for a late evening. Coupled with the chilled temperatures and my achy body, I was grumpy, tired and, well, depressed. I rose since that seemed like the right thing to do, went into the tiny house where the kids sleep, and made breakfast. I scrounged together leftovers and surplus of this and that to make breakfast burritos. My middle kids where having a blast outside using wood pieces to make miniature houses. The little kids were with me. I really wanted to have some alone time…maybe go back to bed…but knew that wasn’t going to happen. So I settled into a chair in the living room which was receiving the full light and warmth of the sun. I pulled out my phone and decided to catch up on reading a friend’s blog.

My friend is going through the same things we were going through a year ago. Her house is being auctioned any day now. I know the agony. I know the heartache. I read through some of my old blog posts and realized I never really shared about it. I never told about sitting in the lobby of the county offices nursing my baby about 30 feet down the hall, since that was the only available chair; trying to listen for our property to come up on the list. I wondered if anyone would buy our house. I wondered if anyone was going to profit from our horrendous loss. Thankfully the bank bought it back. That gave me some sort of relief.

I think I was working so hard on being positive that I just didn’t have the ability to put it into words what was going through our hearts.

The bank bought our house for 2/3 of the appraised value (which was $75,000). So for $51,000 the bank got back the deed and also received over $110,000 insurance monies as a result of PMI. And let’s not forget the $70,000 in principal and interest we paid over the seven years of our ownership. Then the bank sold our house earlier this year for $29,500. So this makes the bank gaining roughly $209K (since the $51,000 is only virtual money). Oh, yeah, and banks aren’t doing too well…they need gov’t help.

The real kicker for me in all this…a pastor from a church we were familiar with bought our old house. Yep, a pastor is getting to profit from our loss. I’m sure he was so excited about getting such a great deal. You hear it all the time on the news. Cheap houses are there. This bad economy is great for the buyer…it is amazing how much house you can get for really cheap! Try 2000 sq feet and two acres…for only $29,500! What a steal!

I recall a Bible story about Abraham, I believe, whose wife had died in a foreign land. So he went to buy a cave/field, and the owner said he could have it. Abraham said no, he would pay a fair price on it. That was the honest and right thing to do.

Is it right for us to take such gains from those around us who are suffering such loss. Should we charge $4-5 for a cup of coffee when it only cost us a buck? Do we squabble over $2 more for a different necklace when all the money goes to an orphanage? Do we fail to give a proper tip because we are on a “budget”? I know times are hard, but even a dog is fed the crumbs.

I am fed up. I am fed up with being nice…being PC. Don’t come to me complaining about how my kids need to know the “other” side of the family. I am busy trying to make a difference. I am busy loving on a girl whose family has given up on her. I am busy listening to an old man who desperately wants to get home, but doesn’t have enough money to get there. I am busy selling jewelry made by children in Uganda who can’t afford the medicines they so desperately need. I am busy fixing up my rental so that it is a pleasant place for my family to live. I am busy giving what little money I have to a group of kids who want to change the world through music. I am busy listening, caring, loving the people…my “family”…that God has placed in my life. These are the people I want my children to know.

So while you complain about poor service in some restaurant, rave about the great steal you got on a foreclosed house, or gripe about taking a stay-cation this year…I am making coffee and listening…missing my kids and hoping that I am right and God is in control.

Yeah, I am fed up.

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