Pray, cry, laugh. (a new season and an old hope problem)

It snowed today. (or rather, by the time I get my act together enough to post this: It snowed yesterday). Enough that when I was sneaking down the stairs before the kids were up I saw it covering our car and was a bit taken aback. I don't know why. I live in Rochester, NY. Snow, enough to stick, before Halloween is kind of par for the course. I know what season follows Fall (it's winter, guys. Winter follows Fall.). I knew the forecast for today. But as I stumbled, foggy-eyed down the stairs before 6 am, I was still startled. (I might have also been a bit startled I was out of bed before 6 in the morning. I am trying a new thing. It's called "pretending you are a morning person without becoming a family annihilator". So far, so good.) Anyways, the snow. There it was. It reminded me of what's coming.

Sometimes seasons change quick.

I haven't really mentioned it here, but we are in a change of seasons here too. Two months ago Peter started a new job. If you read any of my past annoyingly vague posts (if you missed them but love annoying vagueness then read here and here ), you probably know that this past year and a half or so the monies, they have been tight. Like poverty line tight. Like breezing right past "after Thanksgiving dinner loosen the belt a notch" tight and onto "that shirt is two sizes too small and 20 years too late" kind of tight. Peter is in sales and while he is pretty stellar at peddling the goods (goods meaning cable and internet...c'mon. Although it got pretty bad. I won't say it didn't come up in conversation once or twice) his company changed his pay structure last September making it nearly impossible for him to make enough money to support us and our small herd of children. Hence the inappropriate tightness.

After months and months of working two jobs, praying, crying, applying, praying, crying, interviewing, praying, crying, selling furniture out from underneath our tired behinds, praying, crying, finding out he was chosen for the job he had tried to get for years only to find out when he went in to sign the offer sheet that there was no job, yelling, crying, praying, then finding out that his position was terminated because of a merger, just flat out losing our crap, God gave Peter the exact job he thought he had here in Rochester, just in Buffalo, NY. (In case you aren't from around here, that's a hour and a half away, so he is commuting.)

There are at least a bazillion details making this story stunning beautiful, achingly ugly and just plain long. I will spare you those. God could not have made it more clear to us that this was Peter's job. The fact that he didn't have another one was a key indicator as well.

We are thrilled. And relieved. Sometimes we look at each other and say crazy things like "hey, maybe let's pay all our bills this month!" Or "I can breathe." And then we high five and maybe snort-laugh. Because we are dorks. Some people think Peter is a bit looney to commute 3 hours round trip every day in one of the snowiest parts of the country. I am here to say he is not that looney, just majorly desperate because our kids are majorly hungry...all the time. And food doesn't grow on trees...well at least not the trees in our yard. Besides being desperate we are grateful. God answered our prayers and has brought us into a new season.

Photo by Hayleigh Gavenda
 But can I peel back the layers of honesty a bit more with you and say that I am other things besides just desperate and grateful? Well, I am going to anyway. Here it is.

Looking for the Somethings

This past weekend my family, including my parents and sisters, went to Geneva, NY for the day. My dad grew up in Geneva and even though it is only about an hour from home, we had never spent the day there all together seeing the various places of significance in my dad's childhood. We kept referring to Geneva as my dad's old "stomping grounds", which was humorous and fitting for me, mainly because my dad is not a small guy (6'5) and he is not exactly what you would call fleet of foot. In fact, God love him, my dad is probably the noisiest walker I know. I can still hear the rapid, booming thump-thump of his dress shoes down the front hall when he came in from work each evening. Or what sounded like a rock-slide when he ran down the stairs.

We all have the sounds of our childhood. Mine included my mom screaming at the TV during Syracuse Basketball games, the echos of which weaved all through the house and curled up the stairs to my bedroom while I drifted off to sleep. Who needs a lullaby when you have that? And who needs an alarm clock with you have a an entire men's varsity rugby team and the cast of "Stomp" going up and down the stairs outside your bedroom.  As an added bonus, my has a habit of leaving his shoes everywhere. His size 14 shoes. In the most random and hazardous spots. I don't even know how many times one of us has tripped over his shoes growing up. Conservatively I would say, at least 12 million times, because that seems both accurate and fair. Somethings don't change because now my kids will regularly collide with one of his giant sneakers and go flailing. My sisters and I are eternally indebted to his hazardous shoe placement because without having to stick those landings we would never have grown into the graceful, coordinated women we are today... So yes, the idea of his former stomping grounds made me laugh to myself, because I can just picture my dad as a kid and teenager tromping all around the streets of Geneva, leaving giant footprints (and shoes) wherever he went.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day. We walked all afternoon as my dad pointed out the landmarks of his life. The house he grew up in, with his bedroom window in the top left-hand corner. The front door is a different color now. The rectory he moved into when his dad became the head priest at the Episcopal church in town. That house was his favorite. It was big, like a maze, perfect for exploring. And his best friend Billy Summer's house, right across the street. We saw "Dead Man's Hill": the story behind one of his scars, where he went sledding head first into a guard rail. The florist shop where one holiday when he was in elementary school he bought his mother a cardboard flower. My dad had saved up his money but couldn't afford a real flower. Timidly he offered up what he thought was a meager gift to his mother, my grandmother, and to his delight she pinned it right onto her fancy dress and showed it off to everyone at their high society holiday party. The college where his dad taught. The frat house my dad lived in when we attended the same college. The store his mom used to shop at for knick-knacks. And the grassy area overlooking Seneca Lake where he first learned to hit a baseball.

It was strange and pleasant to put a "face" to all these places, from all these stories I had heard. I had never envisioned Dead Man's hill to be snack dab in the middle of some cheery 19th century row houses. The church was ornate and grand, one of those old grey stone main street churches I would have commented on if we had driven by on any other Sunday afternoon drive. As he spoke telling a story about being woken up by the sound of car accident below, I could almost see his five-year old face peering out the window under the street lights.

When we came home and in the days afterward I have felt a restless feeling in me.  It's nothing new, really. Often times I find myself wrestling with some event or circumstance, searching for a metaphor.  I scrolled through pictures from our day looking for some lesson to come from the day, some inspiration. I toured over the the streets of Geneva again in my mind. What symbol held deeper, spiritual meaning? You might think it's a little strange at best, and down right pathetic at worse. And you'd totally be right. I'm just a girl with a weakness for symbolism and deeper meaning. A good metaphor is my Kriptonite. Along with apple crisp.

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