Good Bye to Pokeberry Hill...


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How Joseph Lived in Egypt

A dear friend sent me an email with the story of Joseph in it this morning. It was good to read, I hadn't thought of it in a long time. Joseph was the son of Jacob that was cast into a pit and sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers. They meant it for evil, the Bible says, and yet God meant it for good. Joseph was many years in Egypt as a slave and as a prisoner before he finally rose to a place of great power and realized the dreams that God had given him as a youth. He waited many years.

But there is something I was struck by in Joseph's waiting time. He lived his life to the fullest as he waited. He didn't 'just wait' so to speak. The bible tells us that in every position Joseph found himself he was faithful, he did his work as best he could and he had the outlook of serving God in whatever it was he had to do.

I like that. When we left our home in Wisconsin the circumstances were awful. I felt so much like a refugee, having had to sell the house for less than we owed on it due to a pending foreclosure and trying to make ends meet with about 75% less money than we had been living on a few years earlier. It was a slow painful collapse, we tried to fix things as it went along but it went along anyhow and the time came that we did have to give up and go. Go where? We went many places after that, this is the 2nd state we've lived in after leaving and the 4th rented house. Life has been nothing like the way we envisioned it to be when we were younger.

I remember though, several years ago, in the first rented house--which was not a pleasant place to be for us-- I thought-- I am not going to wait to live, I am going to live waiting. It was a decision I made. I was not going to allow my life to be on hold so to speak while I endured this difficult season. I was going to live in it the best I could and I was going to enjoy it too. Enjoy it? Living in an old drafty cold farmhouse with landlord problems (and I'm sure he thought he had tenant problems too) our first experience renting after being homeowners for years--it was really an awful situation. And yet-- near my kitchen window I put up my bird feeder and bath and planted a few things I had brought from our house and I had a garden. The only birds I saw were sparrows--but every morning I sat there and journaled and had my coffee and enjoyed my morning before I went to work.

My job then was 44 hours a week in retail and hubby had a job loading bread trucks 3 nights a week. I had left being a stay at home mom, he had left being a highly paid software/hardware guy. Our kids, three in highschool at the time, had left behind friends and were trying to adjust to a world that kept on changing on them. It was upheaval in every sense for us. Not long after we moved into the old farmhouse I got pneumonia and missed a week of work, I then went back to work and coughed for months. I did my best at my job, and I was promoted--though there was no raise. (retai) I knew I was doing my best in every area of my life--though it was all hard every day.

After almost a year of this situation in which we did not make enough to pay our heat bills and our family had to help us out with so much. Hubby got a good job again--finally. It meant we needed to move to Fargo ND. Well this also split the family, as our two oldest boys had other plans. One had already moved to WA state, and one decided to stay in Wisconsin. The youngest came with us, but not happily. We spent a year in Fargo, I worked in retail again, though now I could work less hours as hubby was doing better. After a year we transferred to Charlotte--and this again meant some splitting in the family. Our daughter wanted to stay in the Fargo area, she had met someone special.

In any case, kids moved in and out, we moved to a neighborhood in Charlotte that turned out to be just all wrong for us-- violent crime was very high and we were very obviously in the wrong neighborhood--which we knew every time we came out of the house and got 'stared at' for being white. Sigh..

Well so when that lease was up we moved again, and I think--this move is perfect--except that we don't own this house still. I don't know what we will do to own a house. Our credit is nothing like what it was before our 'collapse' but even if it were-- neither of us is keen to sign on a dotted line again. We do not trust mortgages or banks anymore. We would at this point rather rent than owe money on a house and pretend we own it.

In any case-- over the past several years, in four rented houses I've had four little gardens. In this one I've had more garden than ever and the landlord also allowed us to put up a pool. I have lived waiting--waiting for owning my own home again--but I haven't waited to live. In fact I think--I could most honestly say that I am more in the moment and contented and happy in this rented house than I ever was in my so-called 'own home'. I've enjoyed all my jobs, and my life has been good. In adversity it was good--except for the painful parts and I just got in the habit of 'doing it' when you have to and not dwelling on it.

Going through painful things--you can deal with it like changing nasty diapers--of course you have to change that diaper, but you don't have to give it much thought do you?

There have been a few things that have kept me going--for me--I am a writer--so journalling helped--and later on--blogging as I began to learn about it. It helped to write because often I had no one to talk to. Prayer helped--I am a Christian--I do pray. I'm pretty much alone in my faith in my home-- which is different from how it was before the collapse. Things effect folks differently and the problems we had took a toll on faith in some in my family. So I know we aren't all faithful--but its ok cuz I also know that God is.
Gardens, nature and birds-- getting to know my surroundings in every place. That helped! When we lived in Fargo I got a prairie field guide and learned about everything I could find in nature there. I enjoyed the big sky and the flat land and the smell of prairie in spring.

In Charlotte it was somewhat easier to enjoy nature as there is alot more of it here than there was in Fargo.

Pokeberry Garden was born in Charlotte, when I discovered the beautiful wild shrub--the poke salet plant--that mockingbirds fight over when its berries are ripe. At our last house I had one pokeberry plant in my garden. Here they line the fence on 2 sides and I am so happy as I know when late summer comes they will be brilliant with red stems and purply berries and full of birds.

It was nice this morning to read and ponder the life of Joseph--to think--there have been many folks in history whose lives took turns they weren't expecting and many folks who had to live in places they didn't expect and do things they didn't think they'd have to. Its no strange thing what happened to us or to anyhow in such a situation--its all just God's plan for that person. I think that.

Would it be right then, while living God's plan--whatever it is--if we were to be sour and unhappy over it? Shouldn't we enjoy what good we have in life and live our lives while we wait for the next thing--not wait to live until we get it?


  1. This is really lovely, Mary. I can relate to this so much! I had no idea you had a foreclosure/short sale - here you've been reading about my terrible situation all this time! I also didn't realize you were doing all this gardening in a rented place. My wife and kids really feel that the place we were at before was the perfect place, so there's a real feeling of exile. And I have some guilt that I wasn't able to keep this "perfect" place (even though it wasn't perfect for me). Thanks for pointing me toward Joseph, and toward your experience.

  2. I can relate. I loved my old house so much I used to call it 'zion'. I know that sounds funny- but we had 7 acres of woods and I used to go walking whenever I was stressed and I would say to myself "walk about Zion" as I would go. It always calmed me. But what's funny is I have found Zion is in the heart-- you do not have to be in the physical place to have the spiritual blessing. ;) May you find that too, and you will.

  3. When one of your doors closed, God opened a very large and beautiful window called Pokeberry!!!