“Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.”
~Bill Morgan, Jr.
Crisp, inimitable and entrancing, January is the first full month of the hushed Winters season that always brings us an abundance of new beginnings, and peaceful times of reflection .This season undoubtedly exemplifies a rare beauty all of ifs own. Brighter night skies with the air eminently cooler and refreshingly crisp. The stars shine lambently and the moon graces us with its tranquil radiance… the trees, now stark and bare, silhouetted against a galvanic sunrise or sublime and flawless sunset, causes our hearts to skip a beat with its stellar beauty. It also is the one month that motivates us to begin looking ahead, creating new goals as well as giving ourselves second chances for things we may not have accomplished the year before…For Kit, Graham and I, it brought us a great hope and excitement that we would finally after years of longing, have a home that we could settle into together, (with everything we owned) for however long the Lord desired us to be Delawareans.
Living life at the beach and alluring bay during the winter season was a gift within itself…Its waterways and marshlands deserted, quiet and serene…. with the wind howling in an harmonic melody, accompanied by the pristine snow, blanketing all of nature with peace. Even though the polar winds were biting, and the waters restless and a bit daunting, it embodied the perfect ambiance for spending time in prayer, dreaming, journaling, and writing. ( Oh and I can’t forget , it created the perfect backdrop for some great movie marathon days!)
Kit and I were brimming with excitement, yet also a little bit nervous as we sat down to work out a budget, letting us now what we could afford as far as rent, (and all the extra bills with running a house) as we began our search for our new home. The one thing we knew for sure was that we both desired to live in the quaint city of Milford where all of our friends were and believed God was A-OK with that. We got a few newspapers, asked Tina, Sam and Dina, (as they all lived in Milford,) to keep their eyes and ears opened for any rentals and placed our desires before the Lord and believed that in His perfect time, He would bring about the Home he had in mind for us…
The New year brought many a change for the entire household….but one thing that Lilian did not want to change was her Christmas decorations. Filled with such a childlike joy and enthusiasm, she asked if I would leave them up through January… She loved the soft glow of the white lights intertwined in the green garlands, and the warm and enchanting ambiance it bestowed upon her home. I assured her, she could keep everything up until her heart was content.
Vito and Lillian took off for a ministry trip out of state for about 10 days, which gave Kit and I the welcomed task of of “Keeping down the fort.” It was a nice change. I enjoyed making a few of Kits favorite comfort meals, Carolina bacon chili over rice, homemade beef stew, spicy chicken curry and homemade bread. (You know what they say; “The table is not truly set until some freshly baked bread is at its center.” ) We enjoyed watching TV in the living room on the big screen, invited a few friends over for dinner and to make sure Kit did not get too lonely, working by himself in the office with Vito gone, Graham and I took him a hot lunch everyday and came back for an afternoon hazelnut latte.
Our first dinner guest was Mark. He stopped by one evening on his way home from work in Ocean City to join us for a homemade meal…it was more fun (and such a blessing,) to be able to cook for him and serve a special meal after all he and Tina did for Kit, Grahammy and I. We all laughed so hard as we sat at the table eating Carolina chili …during our conversation, I noticed Marks big blue eyes begin to water up and he started breaking into a sweat… the poor guy was not used to so many hot spices. Tina does not cook with red pepper flakes, Tabasco and cayenne pepper, (I do not even think she keeps the spices in her home.) Mark assured us that he really liked it, ((finished his entire bowl,) but I do not think his stomach was ever the same. We had a wonderful time of fellowship and promised him if he stopped by again for dinner, I would make something very bland!
Our second set of dinner guests, were our two fun loving friends Dina and Sam. We had driven down to their home a few times while living at the shore and were blessed with wondrous evenings, filled with laughter, intriguing stories , accompanied by gourmet cuisine. Sam, while living in London, had conquered the English’ secret of their non published and private recipe for Fish and Chips with a side dish of mushy peas. (I know it sounds a little strange,) but it was delish! I felt a little intimated cooking for he and Dina as they both were profound chefs! Sam called and asked if along with our dinner party, would it be OK if we celebrated Skittles birthday, (their precious Cargo,) and that they would bring the cake, hats and birthday balloons. We were so excited to have them all over . ( Kit and I tried to prepare Graham ahead of time , explaining to him that the evening would not be about him this time… and to be gracious to his girl cousin that was coming over with Sam and Dina.) The dinner was delicious…the candles burned low as the conversation flourished amongst us, as if we had known each other all of our lives. We sang happy birthday to Skittles and she ate up all the extra attention. Dina and Sam were enamored with the breathtaking view of the rough and unsettled waves of the wintry bay. We had dessert and coffee sitting beside the warmth of the pot bellied heater until it was plainly obvious by our constant yawns, we were all tired and they had an hours drive back to Milford. We hated saying goodbye and all agreed, we needed to find a home in Milford VERY SOON! We also decided that Skittles was a female Lilliputian ,carbon copy of Grantham. The two of them had a wonderful evening together as well.
Our days were peaceful for the most part, though we did experience our first Nor’easter storm since first arriving to the eastern shores. It was actually quite thrilling and breathtaking, viewing the choppy waters of the bay outside our windows accompanied by a collage of Brobdingnagian grey storm clouds forming over the inlet, along with incredibly high gusts of wind, howling as they created prominent waves with caps of white. It was a perfect milieu for a ‘stay inside’ kind of day…lighting candles, baking brownies, making popcorn and challenging each other in a few table games,while playing some of Kits all time favorite action thriller movies in the background. (Yes, we were both still exercising with all the abundance of winter carbs we were devouring.) Before we knew it, the tides were so high that the bay water had risen to the top of Vito’s beautifully built wooden deck. Our feelings of bliss began to lessen with each passing moment. We kept asking ourselves as well each other; “What if the water begins to rise over the deck and up to the glass doors? ” “Had this ever happened before?” We did what any two people who were protecting the home-front would have done…called Vito on his cell.
Of course we could hear him grinning as he heard the angst in our voices…(OK, more my voice than Kits.) The happy go lucky guy that Vito is, (never worrying about anything,) tried to calm us , saying; “Lillian and I have experienced these storms before and if things get to a place where you are in any danger, someone will come to the front door to evacuate you both and Grahammy….so until that happens, (if it even does,) enjoy the storm.” (Only Vito could say that!) So, feeling a bit calmer, we tried to do just that! (The waters receded in time and all was back to normal…it was a little exciting, I have to admit.)
Vito and Lillian were back from their trip and glad to be sleeping in their own bed once again… Every now and then I would catch a smile on Vito’s face and I just knew he was thinking about how scared I was with the storm…He and I were on the opposite side of the fear-stress spectrum..(I wanted to think it was because of his inherited genes, but it was his intimate walk with the Lord…he never got stressed over anything…oh how I wish I had arrived to that place.) So far, we had a few possible homes of interest that had come up in Milford but nothing had transpired as of yet…we were hoping for a quick work of God and that the perfect home would happen right away, but it had not…we were still at peace, trusting God and so very thankful that we were not in a rush or on a tight time schedule.
Already the end of February, with spring right around the corner, I asked Lillian if she wanted me to decorate her house for the new season, leaving up her lights that she loved so much, but using spring garlands along with a medley of enchanting grapevine birds nest with a few of her favorite winged creatures. As much as she hated to “let go” of Christmas, (I think we all did,) she excitedly agreed that it would be a welcomed and cheerful change for the new seasons arrival. I put it down on my project list and was looking forward to coming up with something she would love…(one of the things I enjoy doing more than anything else is to create, especially when it grants someone elses wishes.)
We got an unexpected call from one of my life long BFF’s, Margo, who lived in southern California…She and Kit hit it off immediately when they met while he and I were courting…its not often that one of your best-friends becomes one of your husbands best friends too, but the three of us had a blessed and anointed bond. Margo was in our wedding, has always been one of our strongest cheerleaders for our marriage, and supported Kit and I through prayer, love gifts, and a never ending listening ear throughout our entire “journey” thus far. She wanted to fly out and stay with us for few days in Delaware. We were so enthused…We weren’t sure where we’d be living but we started talking about some possible dates for her mini vacation.
One of my happiest memories in all the months we stayed with Vito and Lillian was the evening of Vito’s birthday. They did not celebrate their birthdays per say, so Kit told Vito it wasn’t a birthday gift. Kit had heard Vito share (and he remembered it,) that one of the things that he treasured most in his life, was when he was younger and he and his dad , after a day of fishing or spending time together, would share a glass of his favorite, after dinner, sweet liquor together as they would reminisce over old times. So, Kit bought Vito a bottle of his fathers, (and now Vito’s) highly favored liquor. As Kit gave it to Vito, it was the first time I EVER saw Vito start dancing. He was like a little kid. His eyes lit up and his countenance was beaming with joy…after a few whirls around the room, he thanked Kit and said, “Please will you join me tonight for a glass… it will make it all the more special for me.” I think that Kit and Vito spent a sundry of wondrous evenings finishing that bottle together and as far as I know, never bought another one…It wasn’t the liquor that was so cherished, but the camaraderie and love shared between father and son, and now, between friend and friend.
Once again, Vito and Lilian’s friends offered our guest from California one of their suites at the Victorian Bed and Breakfast on the ocean, free of charge for her stay in Delaware. We were all ecstatic …so thankful an humbled. Seeing Margo at the airport filled our hearts with so much joy…she looked wonderful and since our drive was over two hours to get back to the beach, we were able to get all caught up and were ready for a little FUN and R&R! Our first night and most memorable of all, was ordering a famous Nicolas pizza and hot wings, accompanied by the perfect bottle of wine to go with our “comfort dinner,” as we all got comfy in Margo’s luxurious suite to watch our ‘much beloved’ Television show together, American Idol. It felt as if we never had left California…the three of us laughing, cheering on our favorites and just so happy to be together again. The Lord could not have blessed Margo’s stay any more than He did…Margo is a history buff and wanted to tour Lewis and hear all about its history…Did I know the intriguing and magical history of this romantic seaside beach city? NO, But I was praying like crazy that God would fulfill her inquisitive mind in some way, (besides with the very little info I new.) “It just so happened” (which I do not believe ever happens as Christians, ) that as we drove up to Cape Henlopen Beach, a wildlife Biologist had also just arrived as he was closing off a portion of the shore due to the nesting of a shorebird that was threatened by extinction. After we all said hello, he kindly offered to share the history of the entire area with us. (Is God great or what?) We immediately said “yes,” to his friendly gesture. The first thing I did was look for a wedding ring on this handsome young mans hand, (being the great friends that we are, Kit and I are always on the look out for Margo as she is an excellent catch for just the right guy of course.) We took her to Cracker Barrel for breakfast, walked the boardwalk, Vito made his famous clam spaghetti one night and we had a wonderful evening with the 5 of us getting to know one another and to top it all off…Margo was the honoree at one of our ladies lunches. It was that surreal feeling again that occupied my soul as someone from my long ago past, so dear and cherished to my heart was in the midst of all my new beloved friends …and they all loved one another as if they had been friends forever. Dina’s country home was decorated so warm and inviting, a fire in her hearth and the menu was out of this world. Tina prayed and ministered to Margo which made me cry… I knew how much it meant to her and was so blessed Tina had offered. Perhaps the highlight of the day was a visiting redbird. As we were getting ready to head back to the beach, Margo stood up and went to the window , tears welling up in her eyes as she said, “Oh my gosh, look at this beautiful cardinal.” All of us, (who saw these inspiring birds often, didn’t really understand the fulness of her enthusiasm or what it meant to her until she shared with us;)
“I had asked The lord before I flew back to Delaware to see Susan and Kit, that on this trip He would bless me with bringing me a red cardinal…its my favorite bird and one I never see in California. ” As we all stood at Dina’s paned windows looking out on her blooming tree…seeing this beautiful redbird had an entirely new meaning to all of us …it was Gods gift to Margo and a perfect way to end her trip. (I always look at redbirds differently now.)
There were tears and lots of hugs as we said our goodbyes to Margo in Maryland. We promised to keep in touch through letters, e-mail and lots of phone calls, but we all knew we probably wouldn’t see one another for awhile and wished so much we lived closer . As Kit and I drove back to the beach, we both felt such a restlessness to be settled into our own place and wondered when everything would fall into place. A few more homes had come up but they all had red flags and we had no peace. God continued to give us hearts full of ease, and a hope…we were getting close!
Things around the homestead were quickly changing… Vito was traveling more often with his ministry trips and Lillian was staying behind due to a few health issues. It seemed that more and more Kit and I were eating by ourselves unless Vito was present…Every time he arrived home, the house perked up and we all felt a new joy that permeated throughout the house. (A much welcomed gift.) In my spirit, I began to feel a turnabout…that things with Lilian and I were returning to our earlier days where there was an underlying tension between us. This was accompanied by a sadness that the bond I believed may have been forming during the fortuitous season of Christmas, now lay dormant. Just months earlier, where the house was filled with a felicitous and warm atmosphere, I now perceived a more somber, almost gloomy mood evading its ambiance. Kit felt it as well and it was nothing we could put our finger on, but we knew that we would be leaving soon, so we just continued to keep that as our focus.
The first time a friend of mine gave me the book “Boundaries,” I began reading it, felt enormously intimidated with my comfort zone tremendously threatened, so I placed the book , (OK, hid it,) in my bottom drawer under my winter sweaters and pretended I never got it. Growing up in a family without boundaries and being the peace maker in my family of 9, (since I was a little girl,) boundaries seemed exceedingly frighting and forbidding to me…totally out of my realm of peace. Being that God Himself is a boundary maker, sooner or later, He is going to help us grow into making boundaries whether it is comfortable or not. For me, the same level of uncomfortableness arises when God asks us to “Speak the truth in love.” I don’t know about you, but every time I have tried to do this, for some reason, conflict, rejection, and turmoil seem to follow…not always, but many times and enough times to make me shy away from it. At times it seems so much EASIER to stuff our hurt and emotions, choose to forgive and move on…. not so good for our digestive health but easier at the moment where we are experiencing and overflow of conflict.
I share this because a miff occurred between Lilian and I and no matter how much I prayed or talked to Kit , I could not get to a place of peace or resolve. Kit and I prayed together and felt led to go to Lillian to speak the truth in love to her. I think all of us can attain that one of the hardest things to do is to be brutally honest with one another, especially housemates. (IMHO) I know in my heart, I embodied a sincerity, a conviction as well as a longing to resolve our conflict so that we could move ahead and that I would no longer be stuffing my emotions. Kit and I both were hoping Lilian and I could reconcile and that things would be better as well as less stressful, (as everyone in the household felt it during this time.)
I probably did not share my heart perfectly but I ventured forward, hoping to do my best accompanied by Gods grace , to bring peace and needed change, between two people who had lived together for 11 months… Kit was there for support and prayer if needed. Lillian, (another person who did not like conflict,) (IS THERE ANYONE WHO DOES?,) listened, shared her heart and thoughts about the matter and we ended our talk agreeing we would all be in prayer. In close relationships, it seems easier to “speak the truth in love,” because the both of you already feel so loved and accepted by one another. Perhaps this is what was lacking in my attempt. I did not know Lillian well, and we were not close girlfriends, thus I had no clue of how she would respond, or how to share my heart in a more productive way.
The next morning, as Kit and I went out to get some coffee, Lillian had left us a card on the dining room table. She expressed to us that within her heart, after praying, she whole heatedly believed that the best way for her to not bring forth anymore offense was to no longer engage in communication with Kit or myself. As I finished reading the card, my heart sank, and I wished I had never said a word. I had so hoped for reconciliation. In Lilian’s heart, it was the one way she could feel she was pleasing to God and not create any more conflict for Kit and I, (mostly me.) She was not trying to bring hurt in any way . Her resolve was peaceable and right for her and the Lord. For Kit and I , (with our natures being what they were,) we both felt like we were receiving “the silent treatment.” (Again, this certainly was not her intent.)
In a nutshell, the next weeks were perhaps some of the hardest times I have endured on a daily basis. I am a firm believer that there are two types of people in this world…The first type, the person who absolutely cannot stand the silent treatment. They have such a desire within to be at peace with all people and know that everything is OK. The second type? The person who could careless if someone decided (for whatever reason,) not to communicate with them. It doesn’t bother them one bit and they actually can be happy and get on with their life, KNOWING that if and when that person wants to communicate again, they will make an effort and come back to them. OK, perhaps there is a third type..someone who is effected somewhat, when someone closes off communication, but does not develop and ulcer.) I am person number 1.
I spent many a day crying out to God. I knew in her heart Lillian was truly doing her best to bring resolve to what I shared . What was now happening was just something I could not conceive happening in a home and did not know how to live that way…I kept questioning if I spoke the right words? Did I say them in the right way? I asked the Lord to change me during this time, to heal the hurt I felt as well as the root of why it bothered me so much. Like the popular saying goes; I truly wanted to be the ‘pigeon and not the statue,’ being able to soar above yet another challenge at this home upon the bay…and glean from god what He desired me to. I have learned in my walk that God will always deliver us. .When we are hit with adversity, He rescues us either IN, THROUGH, BY or FROM the trial I did however, in all honesty, ask The Lord in His grace, to deliver Kit and I from this situation if it was His will.
I will never forget sitting on our bed…being reminded of our blissful Christmas… it was a perfect gift from God. As I sat on our beautiful , feathery , pristine white comforter Kit surprised me with …the window cracked with the nostalgic breezes blowing off the shore, the warmth of the spring sun was so welcomed. I could hear the sound of the seabirds as they glided above the marshes. Graham was out in the office with Kit and Vito fellow-shipping as it was a Sunday, and I was alone with the Lord… feeling such a glorious peace with His sweet presence, but still a little sore from all the battle of the last 5 weeks with Lillian, Kit and I not speaking. Suddenly, I heard the Lords voice loud and clear ;”In one week ,you and Kit will have your home.” Don’t you know I just about fell off our bed, quickly asking Him; “Lord is that you? Did you really just say that to me?” I called Kit and told him to come in as I had some great news to share with him…. our hearts were a lot lighter that evening with Gods wondrous news… as well as Grahammy’s as he was so intuitive with our emotions, he could not help but feel our happiness and excitement!
Monday morning arrived and we got the Milford paper and made sure we were doing everything we could do to be open vessels for God to use to bring about His word. The week seemed much lighter as our hearts were overflowing with HOPE!
Tina and Mark invited us to come down on Sunday to spend the day with them and of course we said yes…It would be great to get out and let the pups see one another and spend time fellow-shipping. I had shared with Tina what the Lord had spoken to me the Sunday before and that if it truly was His voice, God was going to show us our home that day…she was so excited. Before I knew it , she was up, grabbing her purse and car keys saying; ” What are we doing sitting at home, lets get in the car and drive through Milford looking for rental signs.” We got our Starbucks coffee and began our house hunting adventure.
After hours of driving, (and it was a beautiful adventure as Mitford is a an eminently esthetically breathtaking town,) we did not find even one home for rent that was what Kit and I were looking for. As we started heading back to Tina’s, my heart felt heavy and discouraged. Within my spirit I whispered to the Lord; “Maybe I misheard you.” Just the thought of staying much longer at Lillian and Vito’s was more than I felt I could take…my eyes welled up.
At the very last minute, Tina blurted out; “Oh my gosh, I just remembered my friend telling me that the house on the corner on the street next to ours was going to be up for rent the beginning of this month…lets run over there real quick.” Even though the home was located on the next street over, it was catercorner-ed to Tina’s backyard with a untrodden path between the two houses…in other words, the two backyards met at a property line in the undomesticated meadow.
We drove by the home and already there was a family waiting to meet the landlord on the front porch. It was not love at first sight, (Kits and my dream home,) but it certainly was a possibility and of course, we needed to take a look on the inside before making any rash decisions. As we were driving away, taking down the owners phone number, I noticed the sign said NO PETS. HMM?
As soon as we arrived to her back porch, Tina handed-me her phone telling me to hurry and call…I reminded her about the NO PETS sign and she, (being the woman of faith she is,) said; “what can it hurt, give it a try.”
My talk with the landlord Alex, a long time resident of Milford was going infamously well until the subject of Graham came up….he said under no circumstances would he allow a dog…so (because you all already know how we feel about our Grahammy) I told him; ” OK, then there is no reason to continue talking about the home as we have a dog and he is part of ‘our package.’ ” There was a long pause and then Alex said; “OK, well… what kind of dog is he and how old?” When I told him Graham was a Briard and his age, he replied without one bit of hesitation…(and I believe it was God as most people I know, do not have a clue of what a Briard is,) “That’s fine, you can have a dog.” After we talked a few more minutes, he asked if I would like to see the home… OF-COURSE, I blurted out before he could finish his sentence. Being that he only lived around the corner he met Tina, Kit and I there in 10 minutes.
Kit, Tina and myself were the first to begin the newly trodden path through the untamed meadow as we walked over to Alex’s home to take a look at the house…My heart was bursting with excitement accompanied by a little bit of anxiety as I thought, “What if the house smells funny or I don’t like the carpet or its just doesn’t feel like a Susan, Graham and Kit home ?” The other part of me remembered what God had spoken to me the week before and He knew our desires and needs more than we did.
Alex unlocked the front door and it should have been my first confirmation the house was for us as it had a storm door and as he swung the wooden door back, there was a hardwood floor, just the size of Grantham, right there with a front row seat to view the neighborhood kitties, UPS man and an abundance of bunnies and squirrels. God had always given Graham this special place (all of his own,) in every home we had ever lived in, except of course Motel 6. The front porch was adorable…I could envision it filled with wicker furniture, junoesque hanging flower baskets and riveting throw pillows to beckon each visitor to come, sit a while and feel welcomed. It was the perfect place for morning coffee or catching the sunset during the gloaming hour. The living room was immense and the adjoining dining room, graced with hardwood floors along with a beautiful hanging chandelier. (So far, it was looking promising.) The kitchen was newly decorated with burgundy counter-tops, handcrafted, real wood cabinetry and a newly tiled bright floor. There were two large bedrooms, a beautiful bathroom newly refurbished in a serene sky blue with a very important factor…a nicely sized bathtub.
More than anything, what I loved most about this house was the property it was lodged upon…a few acres of land with antiquated trees, a beautiful wilding meadow amidst the captivating woods with a sylvan charm. We fell in love with the old creaky barn, perhaps in years past a renowned landmark, now embellished with untamed ivy covering its rustic wooden frame. It gave Kit, Graham and I the the feeling of living out in the country. The home had 12 double paned, wooden framed windows… many of them very large bringing an overflow of sunshine into every room… That was huge PLUS for Kit, Graham and I.
After our quick home tour, Kit and and Alex were ready to leave but Tina and I stayed as we continued to check out all the nooks and crannies. . (Women are just that way about their homes.) Alex asked us if we were interested in renting the house and if we were, we could move in on June 1st as he needed to finish painting the bathroom. WOW! It was so surreal to even think about moving into our own home in a months time. We told him we would get back to him in a day or two.
Kit, Tina, Mark and I, comfortably settled upon the porch with our coffee, bantering back and forth about the house and all its many possibilities. We were all beside ourselves and so excited that we would actually be next door neighbors…None of us had ever dreamed we’d live so close to one another. (Even though the Lord knew it, 27 months earlier when we first stayed with them, practically strangers at first.) ( I KNOW GOD WAS SMILING! )
By Tuesday, we knew it was a go… by the end of the week we delivered the signed lease and monies to Alex and he gave us a key so that we could come in an measure the rooms for our furniture. We secured a Penske truck for Memorial day weekend to go back to South Carolina and retrieve all of our things out of storage and enjoy a quick visit with all my ‘kissing cousins.’ I was so excited I could hardly see straight. Within three weeks we would be in our own home…It gave us great hope and helped with the way things were progressing at Vito’s and Lilian’s. My stomach still ached at times with the non talking status between Kit, myself and Lillian, but having a date to know we would be gone was a light at the end of the tunnel.
I will never forget this day….It was the 14th of May and our cell phone rang. It was Alex, our new landlord. As I heard Kit replying to his words, I could not believe my ears…my heart and spirit began racing with hope and excitement…OK, actually, it was more than excitement, it was pure jubilee. The Lord is so gracious and continuously blows me away with His loving heart for His kids along with His special surprises and gifts, especially at the times we least expect them. Everything changed for us in just a moment of time. Thank you Jesus for your goodness and deliverance.
We find faith in the battle…by fixing our eyes upon Jesus…He bestows to us more grace than we ever knew we needed…not only does His gift of grace and strength, get us through, but it brings us to a new place of intimacy with God Himself, peace and the long awaited dreams of our hearts being fulfilled… Gotta love this song!!!
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