Little Yellow House on Memory Lane

Sometimes life throws a bit of a curveball. Such times call for reflection, prayer, and introspection. And for those who are human like me, also tears, confusion, numbness, and a whole bunch of questions that rarely have ready answers.

We saw ourselves living in this house long-term. Maybe even for the rest of our lives. But we know what often happens to the best-laid plans of mice and men and sentimental saps of my sort who tend to live life full throttle by heart.

A couple of weeks ago, our plans were interrupted by an unexpected notice from our property manager that they are not renewing our lease. The booming housing market had enticed the selling of the little house we’ve called home for the past ten years, and there wasn’t much we could say about the matter.

I was home alone when I got the notice, felt the blood rush to my head while my mouth went dry. With my heart pounding out loud and echoing from wall to wall in my little home office, I instinctively prayed that God would hold me together. He did.

The notice said we had to be out by the end of the month, a mere three weeks away. I was in shock, but as soon as I had regained my wits, I started thinking about what we would need to do. The only thing that made sense in the moment was to pack up, put our belongings in storage, and stay with Steve’s mom till we could get our bearings and figure out the next step.

There was a hurricane heading our way that day, both literally and figuratively, and I was feeling the pressure.

Steve happened to be at his mom’s house at the time, making sure her house and yard were ready for the storm, so I called him and told him about the notice. I explained that under normal circumstances I wouldn’t be sharing such news over the phone, but he might as well talk to his mom about the whole thing and ask if we could stay with her for a little while. She was happy to help us, which was unsurprising, and we were profoundly grateful.

I hung up the phone and cried for about an hour. We let our family know and contacted our school family so they could be praying for us. I sat heartbroken in my desk chair, grieving the loss of something that wasn’t exactly ours but felt like a part of us being amputated.

But even there in the middle of the numbness and pain, God kept whispering His peace.

We had work to do. School friends met us the next evening with a truckload of boxes they had recently used in their move. They treated us to dinner and encouraged us to hang onto our shared faith. We thanked them for their kindness and thanked God for the gift of having such lovely people in our corner. We brought the boxes home and unloaded them, the tidy harmony of our little home punctuated by stacks of folded cardboard.

The following day, two days after receiving the notice, we got a call from the lady we normally talk to at the property manager’s office. She apologized for not having called sooner to let us know that they were going to give us a little extra time to move out, so at least we weren’t staring at moving in three weeks. We also got a call from a friend with a rental offer we gratefully accepted.

And so, we are preparing to move from our beloved little yellow house the middle of next month. Yesterday I packed my office, all but the school-related bookshelf that I need to access while I finish lesson planning for the coming school year. This morning, with our stuff in boxes stacked all around me, I reminisce over the past ten years of life in this house.

Our youngest three children (and even our oldest, for a short span) lived here, then moved out and got married. Brand new grandbabies, birthday parties, family gatherings, bonfires, Christmases and Thanksgivings, sporting event watch parties, binge-watching favorite shows, playing catch under the massive oaks, riding our bikes around the neighborhood, being startled awake by sandhill cranes knocking on our bedroom window, playing corn hole in the front yard, chasing our grands around the kitchen island after pancake breakfasts or chicken nugget lunches, peering through my office window at the ducks floating lazily on the lake.

I will miss this place so much.

But God is not taken by surprise, and I figure if He’s allowing this to happen, He has a purpose for it. As much as this hurts, I will continue to look for what He is teaching us and what He is providing for us in the midst of the upheaval.

Steve and I celebrated our forty-first anniversary last week. We’ve made many lovely memories and had great adventures over the years, the last ten of which were spent right here.

And now, with misty eyes looking up and hands clasped firmly to one another’s, we prepare our hearts to bid a fond farewell to the little house on Memory Lane and move ahead into our next adventure.