More Than I Deserve – Part One

On the first day of this year I won a draw.
Me. I won.
I have never won anything that was valuable.
I have never won anything that I really wanted.
I haven’t won more than three times in my life.
Honest!

I won these gorgeous paintings. Not one, but two. Two amazing paintings.
They are beautiful! I am so excited.

I felt a lot of different emotions about this win.
I was thrilled.
I felt grateful. So thankful.
I felt undeserving. I hadn’t done anything to win. Not really. All I had to do was participate in three small steps. It hardly took me any time at all. It didn’t cost me anything.
I was overwhelmed. I probably won’t quite grasp it until they are on my wall.
Someone jokingly, maybe jokingly, accused the Artist of rigging the draw. I get that. Other people probably needed them more. Were more deserving. But I was picked. Me. It really doesn’t seem right.

I remember the last time I felt this way.

Fourteen years ago, at the end of summer, we welcomed our third child into our family. We had three children, three years of age and under. We were living in a small duplex at the time. The first home we had ever bought.

It was a tight fit. I used to joke that we could have my Mom or my Dad for dinner but, both would split the house at the seams. It was very, let’s say, cozy.

That spring a new family came to rent a house on our cul de sac. As the weeks went on, I told Craig I thought the man was a drug dealer. He sat around in a bath robe on his front steps. Small groups of teenagers started dropping by his house. They would walk down the pathway and smoke weed behind our fence. I would have to quickly usher our kids into the house.

I was so frustrated, our neighbours were dispatchers and they were busy reporting incidents. I felt angry that just to make a dollar, this man manipulated kids into poor choices and consequences they couldn’t comprehend. I felt afraid for those who were yet to be targeted. So I started to pray. I prayed for those who had been roped in and those who would be next.

Then I added onto my prayer. I asked God to either change that man’s life, move him out of my town or move us out of our house.

Morning, noon and night, I would pray. As I looked out my kitchen window and see what was going on. I would pray when I had to scurry my children back into the house. I would pray when I saw kids strolling over to his house. I prayed and he bought a limousine.

Six months later I saw them get a visit from some very official looking people. A while later, I noticed that he was leaving the house at the same time, dressed and coming home 8 hours later. Amazed, I told my husband that I thought the neighbour had gotten a job. I was shocked. But, I still had to hurry my kids out of the back yard frequently.

I kept praying, change his life, move him out of our town, or move us out of our house.

Another six months after that, we got news that they were leaving, going back to where they came from.
Wow! I was amazed and thankful. So thankful.

In the mean time, our kids had continued to grow and I was feeling very cramped in our little home.

I kept praying the same things. Grateful he was no longer a threat to the kids in our neighbourhood.

At the end of summer, I asked Craig if he was open to listing our home regardless of the previous answers to prayer. He was not keen, but thought about it for a while.  A week later he said he thought it would be okay to list the house. We prayed about what we could accept as a lowest offer and approached a Realtor.

It was exhausting and challenging keeping the house ready to show. The kids were now 4, 2 and 1. Thank goodness our daughter was so helpful in tidying and our 2 year old loved to join her in anything she did. Even though he may have taken toys out while she was putting toys away, he was happy and safe, not climbing cupboards. I would put the youngest on my back and we would tidy up and go play at the park.  We had many showings but, no interest.  Our Realtor worked hard for us, but lets face it, as good as our reno’s were, why buy a duplex when you could get a house? Even with fresh flowers and baking going, it was a hard sell. That was my fear even when we purchased it. The three months ran out and our house came off the market. No offers made.

In my mind, it was a long shot. I was discouraged. I felt trapped. I was worried we would never be able to sell. On the other hand, God had answered all but one of my prayers. He had protected the kids in our neighbourhood. He had worked to change the life of that neighbour and he had moved them out of our city. I never expected him to grant all my petitions. It seemed greedy. I was praying for either/or, not for all.

I set my mind to accepting that we were staying put. The best thing to do was be content.

Two weeks later, after our house was off the market, our Realtor came back with an offer.

Talk about emotional whip lash!! We couldn’t believe it. It was the offer we needed.

December was full of preparing for Christmas and birthdays, packing up a house and madly looking for a new one. There was not much on the market that was in our price range. We were determined not to become house poor. We would not move up in our purchase price.  Again, we had agreed to what we could afford and we prayed hard about it.

My problem is I am a dreamer. I can walk into a house, and if it has “good bones”, I can see it’s potential is.  I am not always realistic about how much it will cost or how much work it will take.

My husband’s strength is, he can do the work, he knows how much it will cost and how much time it will take.  He knew what kind of work load we could handle and kept my feet on the ground.  That was not an easy task, I am persistent and get very caught up in the vision of what can be.

I love taking an old home and making it new. I love recreating rather than starting from scratch. I enjoy the challenge of working with existing limits and making it work, maximizing it’s potential. Envisioning what it can become.

I haven’t quite developed the skill set to do the major work and with 3 kids keeping me busy, I wasn’t likely to.  The major part of Reno’s, removing walls, gutting bathrooms, land in Craig’s department. The poor guy already has a job that is more than full time.

It felt like we had looked at one thousand houses. Clearly we hadn’t. But even if we had the option to see that many homes, it felt like the right one wasn’t out there. Nothing appeared that we both agreed on.  We were feeling very discouraged and pressured about our limited time frame. Mom suggested that we make a list of what we felt were reasonable needs and then an additional list of what we would love, our wants.  She figured, with that list, we would have an easier time knowing the house when we saw it.

Our list was modest. Craig want a location that was close to his work. Three bedrooms up, around 1100-1200 square feet, a new roof.  The basics really. Our wants included a decent back yard, green belt, a carport, en suite and a Saskatoon berry bush. The previous summer, I had rescued a bush from my Mom and Dad’s lake lot.  We had snacked on it every year while playing in the water since I was 9. The shore line was eroding and threatened to destroy the bush. I had rescued and replanted it in our back yard, the back yard of the house we had just sold. I was sad to leave it behind.

To be honest, I felt guilty wanting a bigger house. It felt an awful lot to ask given that 80% of the world, maybe even more, had less than me. I felt even more guilty for adding wants to my list of needs. I wasn’t sure how to ask for so much!

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