People from the Palace Beautiful

AustinSkylineLouNeffPoint-2010-03-29-bThis week I moved into my apartment! I officially live in Austin, Texas!

Of course, none of this would have been possible without my friend, Exodus. I’m both thankful to the Lord as well as for her faithfulness to Him too. She reminds me of the part of The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan where Christian finally gets to rest in the Palace Beautiful.

“Atop the Hill of Difficulty, Christian makes his first stop for the night at the House of the Palace Beautiful, which is a place built by God for the refresh of pilgrims and godly travelers. Christian spends three days here, and leaves clothed with the Armor of God (Eph. 6:11–18),[14] which stands him in good stead in his battle against the demonic dragon-like Apollyon, (the lord and god of the City of Destruction) in the Valley of Humiliation.”  (ref. Wikipedia)

I’ll admit. I’ve gotten pretty used to things going south on me. Since Chef and I split up, I’ve encountered a million financial problems along this 3 year stretch. Broken-down cars, dangerous neighborhoods, and lower than median wages, which is the norm for most women. When the income was a dual one, that wasn’t a problem. But supporting myself alone has made me really take notice of the glaring differences in what women earn for doing the same job a man does. We’ve come a long way, but we still have further to go. So, when a problem presents itself these days, I immediately assume it will be almost insurmountable, and the solution will suck almost as bad as the problem.

Yeah. I’m full of sunshine and rainbows. I know. Life has just kicked me down enough to make me wary of it.

When things went wrong in Red Rock, I found myself literally adrift. Yes. My aunt and father would never let me be homeless; but somehow, that was just as bad. Being separated from how-to-wait-upon-the-lord-for-your-breakthrough-3-638my pets, squeezed into an already full home, and interrupting a very peaceful, positive atmosphere was just not something I really felt I could do. For about a day, I considered returning to Tulsa, to Chef, who has his own home, and is generous enough to allow me to stay there with him if I ever should need to. But, as Exodus pointed out, I hadn’t really given Austin much of a chance. I’ve only been here two and a half months. So, with her help, we set about finding me an affordable home that would allow me to keep Sparrow and Oliver. Most places here are very dog friendly, but mastiffs are on the lists of breeds not accepted in most apartments. Plus, remember when I left the ghetto apartment that first year Chef and I split up? Well, that broken lease was causing me problems too. In Tulsa, it didn’t matter. All you had to say was it was in the 6 – 1, on Peoria, and landlords would just nod knowingly and move on. Here, they have no idea how dangerous that neighborhood is. On paper, I just looked irresponsible.

I got rejected by the first place I applied. I intentionally picked one in a bad neighborhood, mainly because it was cheaper than everywhere else. When I got rejected, I was borderline depressed. If the Austin ghetto won’t have me, who will? For several days, I used breathing exercises to calm panic attacks, plus Exodus talked me off the ledge practically daily. However, when I found the apartment I’m in now, I had a feeling I was going to get in. It is much nicer than the first one, located 4 miles from work, and I could keep Oliver. I explained the broken lease, and the importance of using my middle name for the background check — (there’s a Catherine Irene Martin lighting the world on fire in Oklahoma), and paid the non-refundable fees. I, then, set back to wait the excruciating 4 days expected for a decision. You can imagine my gratitude and relief when I was called a whole day early to say I was approved. Yes, guys. The Lord had mercy on me.

I’ve spent two nights there now. Thanks to Exodus, Rebekkah, Dad and some of my friends at work, I have amassed a small amount of necessities to really make the place feel like my home. Today, I get some furniture!!

Getting in is only part of the journey. Now I need to maintain it and rebuild my bad credit; but the joy I feel is just amazing. I don’t remember the last time I’ve slept so peacefully. I just don’t.

How do you genuinely say thank you, both to the Lord and to those who sacrificed their hard-earned money and time to give a financially strapped person like me something as big as a home? I don’t really know. The words seem so cheap in comparison, and a card seems even worse. I’ll figure something out, but whatever it is, it won’t compare. I’ve spent some time with people from the Palace Beautiful, and feel refreshed and strengthened again!

~ Bird

Psalms 30:10-12

“Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me;
O Lord, be my helper.”
 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness,
 That my [d]soul may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever”

 

Wisdom to Combat the Moving-Forward-And-Leaving- the-Past-Behind Blues

35015Rebekkah and I were driving from Red Rock to Austin the other day. It is about an hour drive, and we were conversing about some research she had heard about. She said anthropologists noted that whenever they arrived in the place where they would immerse themselves in a new culture, surrounding themselves with new people, new customs, new smells, new tastes…everything unfamiliar, they would experience a deep depression. But, she remarked, they also said that this black feeling would go away on average, about two weeks into the experience.

Texas isn’t a new place for me, but it has been over a decade since I cs-lewis-quote-better-things-550x320lived here for real. Last year, I was here two months, but Dad was really sick, and the wounds from losing my husband were still tender. This time, I blew up my bridges in Oklahoma. I did this on purpose. I learned a lot from my nomadic childhood, and leaving foundations in places that are, as a whole, not good for you, will leave you open to the temptation to return again and rebuild. It isn’t really necessary to go into detail why Tulsa is bad for both my kids and me. Suffice it to say, we simply should not go back and try again. But, I did not blow up bridges to people I love who were only good to me. Tulsa as a whole, is not where I should be. But I will carry a piece of her with me forever, in the shapes and memories of people who I love.

download (2)I left behind people that I will miss terribly. The Lord gave me Janice and Larry, who both taught me to stay calm, and not be so extreme all the time. Holly taught me what it looks like to walk and not faint, and walk and walk and walk, and still, not faint. Sonya and Kendra, some of my very favorite people, gave me Oliver. ‘Nuff said, right?

Stephanie made me feel like there were other eccentric souls just like me, and I 14feae356bda6cfe978afc0e40e434a3don’t have to feel alone so much. (I have every intention of using all my persuasive skills to lure her to live here in Texas among other weirdos like us!) I left behind Rob and his sweet little girls and some of my other Red & Gold friends, and my very best Oklahoma friend ever, Kim. I will miss you most of all, Kim-alicious!!

24772This move cost me something, as they all do. But most of all, I left behind Chef. I cried like the first day I realized my marriage was lost to me forever, and then I wiped away the tears, put the car in drive, and left that sadness behind with the rest of the broken hopes and dreams born, burned, and buried in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Chef is truly on his journey with the Lord alone now. No more interference from me.

Unlike a whole unfamiliar culture, Texas reminds me daily of its own c-s-lewis-quoteunchanging personality, and in a way, it welcomes me back. I recognize the smells of wildflowers and mesquite trees. I can pick out the cicadas’ songs from the choir of other nocturnal insects that sing at night. The heat is different here, and every single allergy I’ve had in Oklahoma has instantly disappeared. I was born and bred here, and my immune system is delighted.

download (2)My Oklahoma dogs, despite their rocket scientist rat poison incident, run and play like I have never seen them frolic.  They don’t know why, but they are positive they deserve this slice of heaven as a reward of some kind.

It’s been less than a week, and I’m finally emerging from the fog of a new life thatQuotes-C-S-Lewis-the-golden-trio-char-jezzi-and-anj-32352771-528-199 looks so different than any I’ve had before. This time, I’m not a freshly separated woman, wounded and still bleeding. I’m just another girl, moving to Texas to be near a family I love. The future looks hopeful, though unfocused. I’ve learned throughout my life, just because I can’t imagine what something is going to feel like, it doesn’t mean I won’t like the way it feels. I am relaxed. I am cheerful. I am hopeful. And I am excited.

17abc9dd53eb1a7f5a6a8d56132c2b18Whenever I find myself down, I like to drag out C.S. Lewis’ books, and peruse through his unearthly wisdom about being a foreigner longing for home. I thought tonight, EHAS would share a little of his timeless quotes. We are all trying to walk and not faint these days, wouldn’t you say?

I hope you have a new forest of dreams growing in your lives! Life shouldn’t be full of droughts! Yes. Sometimes, fires of life can wipe out acres and acres of hopes and dreams; but, don’t grieve too long for what once grew in your heart, and is no more. Instead, delight yourself in the new life that will begin to grow there. There is a time to weep; but remember, there is time to laugh again too.

~ Bird

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