Archive for the ‘houses’ Category

Best Selling Self-Help Books

October 7, 2009

For the past 30 or 40 years there has nearly always been a self-help book on the bestseller list.  Some of the personal stories are quite astounding and very inspirational.  I’m very happy for the people who beat addiction or crime and now have a nice life.  I saw a television interview with such a man.  He beat crime and drugs by changing his thinking and his self talk.  Now he is a best-selling author with a family and a nice life.  Very inspirational, but I caught myself thinking “now what?”  So many addicts were very successful people with a family and a nice life.  They all said their life felt empty, meaningless and without purpose.  A meaningless life is painful and drugs numb the pain.  And I asked myself “Where is God in this success story?”  It is from God we achieve our sense of meaning and purpose.  He made us all for a purpose and He tells us what the purpose is.  Without that taproot of purpose I’m like a rose I planted that blooms great for awhile and then dies for lack of a root system.  Getting off drugs is wonderful.  Getting off drugs without God has its limits.  If my car has an empty tank and I need to make a 10 mile trip, I can push the car 10 miles and write an inspirational book about it.  I may receive loads of admiration for my feat in achieving the 10 mile push through sheer will power.  I can also fill my tank with what the car was made for and drive 400 miles in that time.

Keeping Stuff

August 19, 2009

I helped Michelle move last week, and oh my goodness, do they have a lot of stuff!  It got me to thinking about why people keep so much stuff they absolutely can’t organize a closet or a garage or an office.  I think there are a number of reasons.

First, I think people who felt deprived in childhood save things because deep down they believe they will once again be deprived and might need these things.  They may save old clothes that are out of style, old excess goods of any kind, too many linens, old furniture in the garage, old home decor from previous houses.  Its just a hedge against the possibility of future want.

Second, I think people save things because they spent too much money on them, and even though there is no likelihood of their being used again, its too much money wasted if they give it away or sell it at garage sale prices.  However, considering the costs involved in keeping a lot of stuff around, keeping unused things might be throwing good money after bad.

Third,people save things because they have a memory attached to them.  They are afraid if they get rid of the item, they might lose the memory.

Fourth, people save things because someone they love gave them the item, and they are afraid to hurt the person’s feelings.

Fifth, people save things because they don’t take time to regularly clean out.  They keep stuffing things away without thinking about whether they need it.  This is how magazines, paperwork, “freebies” etc get stacked up to overflowing.  Its just too much after a long day or week to go through things and THROW STUFF OUT.

All this stuff is eventually enslaving.  Living amid clutter is low level stress.  Having things organized where you know what you have and where to find it is liberating.  There are a lot of good books out there about how to organize anything from your house to your life.  Go for it!  It may be one of the cheapest and most refreshing vacations you ever spent.

A Dream House

April 16, 2009

Recently I toured a number of very beautiful homes.  Some were so especially delightful, I felt upon exploring them that I had somehow truly come home.  They almost felt like something I had once designed for myself, or a nearly forgotten home I’d long ago lived in and loved.  They brought out such pleasant emotions!  I believe the mansions God has promised–the ones Jesus said he is preparing for us in Heaven will be like that.  We will love every detail of our heavenly homes, because Jesus knows every detail of what we love.  Homes we have loved here may be a foretaste of our forever homes in Heaven.

Miracles Part 1

November 17, 2008

Some say the age of miracles has passed, but I don’t think so.  I saw my first miracle when I was 11 or 12.  My family was very poor, and our roof was very old.  We were using nearly every container in the house to catch the leaks during one of the slow moving frontal storms with day after day of rain.  Daddy went through the kitchen in the dark one night, and kicked over yet another new, leak catching bucket.  He called the family together and announced we would pray for a new roof.  He reminded God that he usually only asked for spiritual blessings, but wanted to make an exception this time because our situation was getting serious.  That week he got a free estimate and learned a new roof would cost the equivalent of two months income for our family. 


A couple of days later, a letter came to my mother from an elderly, maiden aunt.  She told Mama “you are in my will, but something prompted me to wonder if you might not need help now.”  Enclosed was a check for the amount of the roof estimate.  The check had been written before the roof estimate!

Reasons I believe in God part 1

July 4, 2008

I have given a lot of intellectual reasons to believe in God, but I have some experiential reasons to believe.  Answered prayer, specifically, dramatically answered prayer is something not easily written off-particularly when it occurs more than once in a lifetime.  I will write a series about my life, recounting some of the answers to prayer, partly as a way of thanking God for His goodness to me and my family, and partly as a way to build your faith.  God is real, and He is involved in the lives of people who are reaching out to Him.

When I was young, possibly 10 or 11 years old, our family was very poor.  My father had become disabled and unable to work, and my mother could not earn enough at her clerical job to support a family of 5 people.  Things were gradually falling apart around our house.  Our roof was leaking, and during the April rains, we were running out of containers to hold the drips.  One night as my father was walking in the darkened kitchen, he kicked over a bucket of rainwater–one he didn’t know was there.  This was another new leak!  He gathered our family in the living room and told us we were going to pray about our situation.  This was new.  Although our family gathered for nightly prayers, it was unusual to ask God for mundane things.  Dad prayed something like this: “God you know I have always believed we should only ask you for spiritual things, or really serious things.  I know a new roof isn’t all that important a request, but it is becoming very uncomfortable for us to live with all these leaks, and it may permanently damage our house.  If you would please understand our need, would you help us?”  In the next couple of days, he got an estimate on a new roof.  It would cost $800.  That was over two months salary for Mom, and it might as well have been two years salary.  It was an impossible obstacle.  A couple of days after the estimate, Mom got a letter from a maiden aunt.  It said something like this:”  My dear, you know you are in my will, but I don’t intend to die for a long time yet, and it occurred to me you could use some help now.  Please use this for your family as you see fit.”  Enclosed was a check for $800!

One Month to Live part 2

March 16, 2008

I started a post some time ago on the “one month to live” movement.  I have given it some more thought.  Its a very heavy subject.  Imagining myself with only 4 or 5 more weeks on this earth, helps me put into perspective what is really top priority.  One thing I now know to be low priority is “stuff”.  I recently talked with a friend who has moved into a retirement apartment.  She and her husband (now deceased) had already downsized twice, and each time it was painful to try to give away their “stuff”.  Things that seemed valuable to them weren’t wanted by most of their loved ones.  They had to twice watch their “stuff” picked up and dumped unceremoniously into a Salvation Army van.  This move was the hardest for her.  For her most recent apartment, she had saved only her most favorite possessions, the ones she considered most valuable, most beautiful, or special family heirlooms.  Now she was, as a widow, having to downsize again.  She really wanted to keep what was left “in the family” …and the family wanted very little of it.  While sad, this really changed my perspective on “stuff”.   I’ll keep something as long as I need, love or enjoy it, but not for my heirs, unless they have specified they want it.   Then I’ll learn to enjoy things in the “here and now”, and let go when I must.  There will only be a few things from this life in eternity.  Just God and relationships with people.  Heaven will be too full of new things to even think of what is left behind.  “Stuff” will be as missed as baby things are missed by a teen.  As Paul said “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the mind of man what God has prepared for those who love Him.”


Buy a House or Lease/Purchase part 3

March 10, 2008

We left the “House of 1000 leaks” joking that there must have been a poltergeist in it.  We moved across town to a rented house.  This house was about 80 years old, but was brick and looked to be built like a fortress.  We saw no signs of leaks or anything.  We finished moving in on Friday and had a nice weekend.  The house had a pretty little brick courtyard, and I had dreams of a New Orleans style garden.  On Monday morning I opened the back door and couldn’t believe my eyes.  The brick courtyard had disappeared in a massive sinkhole.  It turned out the 80 year old rain sewer had collapsed!  My husband and I each denied bringing the poltergeist in with any of our moving loads.  Each of us is also eternally glad we didn’t buy that house either.  It was a great house, no problem there, but the whole yard was dug up by the city for an entire year, and the courtyard had to be replaced–thankfully not at our expense!


Buy a House or Lease/Purchase part 2

March 10, 2008

Summer was coming and it soon got hot.  One Sunday morning looked like it was starting out to be a scorcher.  We went to church, and when we got back shortly after noon, the house didn’t smell right.  We couldn’t imagine what it was.  We checked all the bathrooms and in fact, checked every nook and cranny, but couldn’t find the source of the odor.  By late afternoon, we could hardly stand the smell.  We called the estate agent/property manager to complain.  Of course, she wasn’t going to come out on Sunday and acted like we were being ridiculous.  We slept with all the windows open, and in the morning we turned the air conditioning back on.  It was a holiday Monday so my husband was home.  He again called the property manager and insisted she do something.  She drove out arriving about 2 p.m.  She nearly got ill when she entered the house.  She promised immediate help.  An hour later a teenage boy with arrived with some lawn and leaf bags, a flashlight and a face mask of the sort you would use if doing some sanding.  He wanted to look in the attic.  My husband put on a mask and went up with him.  What they found were a couple dozen dead pigeons with all their nest material, dead baby birds and rotten eggs.  They removed  14 bags of nest material and dead birds.  They put them in the back of the pickup to take to the dump.  However, more birds had fallen into the wall between the house and the garage and would have to be retrieved the next day.  We again slept with all the windows open, and the next day the painter had to cut holes in the garage side of the wall.  Several more bags of dead birds and nest material were removed and the wall repaired.  The odor, however, lasted quite a few more weeks.  I used every deodorant known to man, but it took awhile for it to finally go away.

Meanwhile, as the summer wore on, the house had several more air conditioner leaks, the leak in the upstairs bathroom over the kitchen sink returned, and the laundry room floor developed a bounce, not quite as bouncy as a trampoline–but way too bouncy to be normal for a wood floor.  It was determined the floor joists were rotten and the whole laundry room floor was in need of repair, and we determined this was not the house we were going to purchase.

A hurricane came up the coast the following month.  We were all advised we’d only catch the remnants of it in our location.  We were told it was necessary to put away the light patio furniture and trash cans, but no further precautions were needed.  We were to expect some high winds.  About 3 a.m. we were awakened by the scariest groaning sounds we’d ever heard.  It sounded like somebody had a horror movie on full blast.  The tv was off.  We looked outside, and saw that the vinyl siding was coming off one whole side of the house.  Indeed half of it was already off and hanging over fences and shrubs through several neighbors gardens.  We threw on our sweats and began dragging the siding into the garage to try to protect it from further twisting.  Of course, now the cars had to be outside and exposed to winds themselves.  In the morning we surveyed the damage, and we had virtually a “naked” house on the one side.  We called the property manager, who was understandably swamped with other calls and said she’d get back to us. 

The next months were very rainy.  Since the homeowners insurance was still being held by the owner and not ourselves, there was nothing we could do to hurry the process of repairing the siding on the house.  So, the “naked” wall remained exposed to all that rain for those months.  It got quite thoroughly soaked.  In fact, the plaster on the inside of the house got very thoroughly soaked, and began chipping off and falling on the carpet.  Whenever a door slammed somewhere in the house, plaster fell on the carpet on that side of the house.  Also, the thermal windows fogged up between the panes so we could no longer see through any of the windows to the outside.  We had someone look at them, and he said it was due to all the humidity in the house, and it would possibly get better in the winter.  It would cost thousands of dollars to fix the problem, so how badly did we want to see out of the windows anyway?

Eventually, the winter rains came.  The roof leaked then.  We had two leaks in the hallway upstairs and the fireplace leaked.  In fact when it rained hard, you could hear the rain coming down on the fireplace shelf inside the wall.  It was so wet inside the fireplace, you couldn’t build a fire.  After weeks and weeks of rain, the back fence fell over in a couple of places, and when I stepped outside onto the back deck, I fell through.

By now we were all counting the days till the lease would be up and we could move somewhere–anywhere else.  The last week in the house, I was trying to get the garage open from the inside and it was stuck shut.  Going around to the front, I could see the rain gutter had fallen down diagonally across the garage door.  I couldn’t move the gutter, either to get it back up or all the way down, or in fact do anything to move it at all.  I was late to an appointment and had to once again call the property manager to have someone move the rain gutter and let me get the garage door up.

Six months later, we were in another rented house.  I happened to see an old neighbor.  Guess what happened to “your house?”, she asked.  “The owners ex-wife got it in a divorce settlement, and moved back in it.  She fell through the laundry room floor.  They said it was termites.”

So, I would say, its a good idea to do a lease/purchase before buying a house whose warranty has expired.  I have been forever grateful we didn’t buy that one.

Wait till you hear what happened to the house we moved to next!  Next post