You may not know that one of my favorite musicals is Rent. Ive loved it ever since Beth and I first saw it at the Paramount Theater as teenagers. We had no idea what we were going to see (and some of it is a bit racey for Mormon teenagers) but we both fell in love with the characters and especially the music. And like all good music, it frequently pops into my head when I hear a phrase from the music. Like: "How did we get here? How the hell?" (Sorry for the swears, but it's from the bible so it isn't a swear word, right?)
I keep hearing that song lately, whenever I think about where we are at right now. More than half way through PA School, on the cusp of a new career, with an almost 8 year old daughter, nearing 10 years of marriage, and in a basement. How did we get here? How did we go from a great job in Real Estate, newly weds with two small children, and our first house to the place we are now?
I'll tell you how, Inspiration. Ny sitrapon' i Andriamaniatra. ("The Will of God" in Malgasy, one of my favorite, while slightly overused, phrases from Madagascar.) That's how it all happens, right? God's will. The interesting thing about His will is that it is rarely centered on one of us completely as an individual. He usually includes quite a few of His children at once to carry out His will.
I'll tell you how we ended up in a basement.
We bought our first house 5 years ago, and with that came a new ward at Church. Among the many amazing people we met in this new ward was a soon to be beloved Nursery leader. Riley was barely 2 years old and took right to Sister Tingey. Of course she instantly dropped the formality of "Sister" and went straight to calling her Tingey. We often called them Kindred Spirits because there was a true connection between them. It was instant, and effortless. It was love. I don't know who adopted who first. Did "Tingey" and David adopt us or did we adopt them? I guess that is part of love, you never know who started it.
The friendship evolved from Sunday lessons, to stopping by to play with the porcelain doll collection, shopping trips, pictures with the Easter Bunny, movies, and an annual trip to the Tulip Festival.
|The Tulip Festival|
|One of the beautiful pictures Jennifer took of Riley in the tulips.|
|I can't help it, I love our Tulip Festival pictures.|
|Seeing the movie Brave|
But three years ago, on March 30th, Tingey lost the love of her life. We watched as she nursed David, we cried with her, prayed for, and mourned with her when he finally passed on. Of course, as memory fades, my kids remember his bird Edward better than they remember him. But the thing that they have always known, is feeling loved whenever they were here in David and Jennifer's home.
When it came time for us in 2012 to move to Seattle for PA school (to rent out our own house and save money while we are living off of student loans) things just weren't working out. The stress of the past few years of hard choices, disappointment, and finally acceptance to school was overwhelming and our family needed a break. So we took a vacation to Disneyland. One night, while the kids slept in the stroller and JT and I walked back to the hotel after a day of fun, we started talking about how things were going to work out. We knew that Heavenly Father had a plan, we just wanted Him to let us in on it. And then, as we talked, a "random thought" popped into my head. Why not live in Tingey's basement until the housing comes through in Seattle? She would probably be willing to let us live there for a few months. She might even like the company with her daughters away at school, and her sweetheart gone on to Heaven. It wouldn't hurt to ask.
And here we are. Almost two years later. We got here on a winding path of friendship, love, loss, and a kind Heavenly Father who knew how to meet both of our families' needs at once.
Jennifer has not only adopted my children, but she has totally adopted JT and me as well. She opened up her home to our family, and we are still here almost two years later. I am amazed at her generosity, and I probably take it for granted sometimes. She has sacrificed her home, her space, her privacy, and her refuge with our family. (Not to mention sharing her Easter Peeps with my kids!) I have never heard her complain (even though she has every right to) or regret letting us move in. My kids have had her love at a hard time, with their Dad gone so much and their Mom exhausted. She is thoughtful, and extremely aware of each of us. She knows the things we love and the way to each of our hearts. And I think that we have found the way to hers as well. I think that we have blessed her life almost as much as she has blessed ours. I think that we will all miss each other more than we realize when JT graduates.
|Tingey's Green Bay Packers Birthday|
|Papa Joe and the Popsicles|
|The beautiful Chestnut Tree|
|High Tea with Tingey|
|The first trip to the Circus!|
|Trans Siberian Orchestra Concert- so awesome!|
I am grateful that Heavenly Father answered our prayers through each other. I am grateful that he knew we would need each other at this point in both of our lives, and I am sure that will not end even when we move out and she gets her whole house back.
When I look around our comfortable, homey, happy basement, and the words from Rent ring in my ears "How did we get here?" I remember Ny Sitrapon' i Andriamanitra, and Tingey's generosity and feel very thankful.