The Hill Country

This has turned out to be a year for me of laying claim on some new territory, in the spiritual and the natural, in the personal and professional.

My husband Rick and I have made a move from the Houston area to the beautiful hill country of central Texas, between Austin and San Antonio. While Houston is a place of wondrous diversity and opportunity, it is also a place of endless urban sprawl and a lot of everything. Too much sometimes.

The hill country, on the other hand, still has a rural feel, a wildness without curbs and straight lines in every direction. The boundary lines are softer, more textured, inviting exploration. The sheer beauty of the landscapes stirs and inspires my heart.

It has taken some faith to get here, and a lot of waiting and wandering, with our little dog in tow. Because of COVID and economics and miscellaneous calamities that have affected everyone, we have faced seemingly endless delays, awaiting the day that we would move into our new house and begin to make it a home.

We sold our home in Montgomery Memorial Day weekend, almost the minute we listed it. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the buyers (who offered $10 K over asking), needed to move in by July 15. They were between homes, staying in temporary lodging with small children, and needed to get settled. Having been told that our home in the hill country would be ready by mid-July, we vacated the house and had movers put everything on a truck on July 14.  We closed with the buyers the next day.

We told the movers we would let them know within a week or so when to deliver our possessions. For a daily fee, they would store our things on the truck until we were ready. They wound up holding on to them for a full month before the builders agreed to let them bring the truck to the house and store our belongings there. This is not a typical way of doing things, but this has been far from a typical year in the construction industry or any other.

On July 15 we headed to our first Airbnb destination in Wimberly. I have used Airbnb quite a few times in the last few years—in Great Britain, Ireland, California, Boston, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and various parts of Texas. I’ve enjoyed the social aspect of it and have met so many wonderful hosts and fellow travelers. I love the concept and have found my stays in peoples’ homes so much more interesting than staying in hotels. So, Airbnb would be our means of finding lodging while we waited for the go-sign to move into our newly constructed house. We thought it might be a week or two.

Little did we know at that time that our move to the hill country would require 10 separate moves over 3 months. We bounced around to various locations, some that fit our needs better than others. Because my job is all on Zoom, accommodations had to include reliable Wi-Fi. And because I am a therapist, there had to be some privacy for sessions, a space where I can be alone, where Rick can’t hear the conversations. Sometimes Rick had to wear noise-cancelling headphones and watch the captions on TV hile I facilitated a group on the other end of a one-room tiny home! And we had our dog, Maggie, so all accommodations had to be pet friendly.

At one point, my daughter and her boyfriend flew in for a visit that had been planned a few months earlier, and we found a place with extra bedrooms, so we could have a family gathering. My son and his family came too. That was a happy high point—albeit a rather pricey one.

I spent countless hours online searching for the next place to go. We spent many thousands of dollars on housing because the builders would say, “two more weeks” or some such vague promise like on “The Money Pit,” so we were reluctant to book something long-term and more affordable. Most rental property owners require non-refundable payment for the whole stay up front.

Somehow, I managed to keep my job going, seeing clients and running recovery groups, sometimes on porches, in closets, or sitting up in bed. Thankfully there are virtual backgrounds on Zoom so I could maintain some image of professionalism!

Two weeks ago, after the tenth move, I finally had had enough. My nerves were frazzled. I was angry and stressed, eating too much sugar, not sleeping well. I ran out of steam. Uncharacteristic of my accommodating nature, resiliency, and adventurous spirit, I stated to my longsuffering husband, “I’m not moving again. I’m not going to do it. If I have to pitch a tent in the back yard of our house, I’ll do that, but I’m not getting online to find another place to go.”

He looked at me like I was nuts, which I kind of was. I had a doctor’s appointment that day in San Antonio. Seeing how serious I was, he told me he’d get on the phone and see what he could do while I was gone.

By the time I got back to our last Airbnb, he had gotten permission for us to move into the house. FINALLY, the water company had installed our septic tank and grinder pumps (that had been purchased in February!). They hadn’t been fully tested and proven, but the house was habitable. I guessed the builder’s representative was convinced that I had run out of patience and created a lease document to allow us to move into the house rent free before closing. As I write this our closing is just a few days away.

We are more than blessed to have finally landed in such a lovely place. I am in my study getting ready to see a client, Maggie is lying outside the doors, and Rick is puttering around while he drinks his morning coffee.

What have I learned from all of this? Many things. Thankfulness at a whole new level. Deeper patience when things don’t go as planned (which is most of the time these days for all of us). Graciousness and forgiveness toward those whose incompetence, arrogance, or poor planning cause hardship and inconvenience for so many.

I’ve seen the faithfulness of God. I’ve decided that most of the uninvited hard things I face are more like inconveniences than true problems. Having been a therapist for almost 30 years, I’ve learned to discern true problems from the issues of life that simply require making decisions and taking action. Addictions, abuse, marital failure—these are true problems. All the rest I consider debatable.

Nevertheless, the Father cares about me. He upholds me, whether I have serious problems or more minor issues of life to resolve. He lets me know when it’s OK to say I’ve had enough and start holding others accountable for keeping their agreements.

The LORD has given me a deep-seated desire to serve him and obey him from this new place. I’ve been reading through the Bible this year, and happened upon this in Deuteronomy 8 just last week:

“Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.For all these forty years your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t blister or swell. Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good.

“So obey the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills…When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.

“But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God…He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful…”

I’m not saying that our sojourn resembles the 40 years Israel spent wandering in the wilderness. But I have sensed the LORD’s provision throughout. We have metaphorically eaten his manna and drunk his water from the rock. He has led us into a land and a time of abundant life.

We have confidence that he has led us to this place “for such a time as this.” We don’t know all that he has in store.  But we believe that we had to face some waiting and some opposition before receiving his promise, and that he was able to form in us a greater obedience and carefulness to follow his will.

Rick climbed up to the attic a few days ago when I had just gone to bed. He came to the bedroom and told me to get up, because he had to show me something. He said it was worth getting up for. This is what he found, written on one of the joists:

We don’t know who wrote this. For some reason I don’t want to know. I want to picture some workman who sensed something supernaturally about the home, or about the people who would live in it.

This Scripture is from King Solomon’s dedication of the spectacular temple he had built in Jerusalem, that would hold the Ark of God’s covenant, and would host the holy presence of God.

We agree with this dedication and blessing of our own house as a house where prayers will be prayed, and God will hear and respond from heaven.

Thank you for reading the story. We welcome you to visit and fellowship with us in this wondrous hill country!

2 thoughts on “The Hill Country

  1. Ruth, I am absolutely delighted to know you and Rick have settled in to your beautiful new home and surroundings—and what awesome stories of the Lord’s presence and provision throughout your wilderness journey! Can’t wait to see firsthand where He has planted you! ❤️

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