The Paint Me House: Out of it’s Misery

photo 3 This eye-sore was chock full of eye-soreyness since the day we moved in across the street in 2006. It didn’t have any graffiti on it yet, but it was in horrendous shape. My neighbors who have lived around this neighborhood longer than I could tell me more I’m sure, and I’ve heard bits and pieces as to why the house at 705 was in the shape it was in, but frankly such recent history is none of my business. Whatever the reason it can’t be a happy one.

We begged the city to tear it down in 2011 and 2012 – we had our house on the market and though values on all houses were down, this pile of wood and blocks was not helping. Scrawled on it in white spray paint for the last 7 years was “Paint Me” and “Mom” and “I ❤ Ashley”. And so we all called it “The Paint Me House”. Sounded better than the Mom House or the I Heart Ashley House, I thought.

The family next door to it shared with me last fall it would be torn down in November. I guess things needed more time. And then last week flags started going up. Water line. Gas. Phone line. I was hopeful.

Yesterday the big excavating equipment was brought in. (Need an excavator? Call my sister’s boyfriend!) The kids loved seeing the show. They started away at the porch, then took a dinner break. We left for the evening and when we came back- gone! We missed it. I know I have a good picture of it from a few years ago, but I have to find it.

This morning we got a better look:photo 1 (1)

I’ve done a few posts about the history of my house, and as intriguing as that is for you readers (hardy har har) I decided to do a quick search about the beginning years of the heap of bones of a house across the street. In a way, it’s kind of bittersweet. It lost it’s dignity years ago and if I had grown up in that house and seen it meet it’s end like that, it would make me sad.

 A Brief History of 705 Eastern Avenue. Or affectionately known as The Paint Me House.

My 3 year old house on Banning watched as it was being built in 1923. Soon the Patrick McKay family bought and moved in from their house on Edgehill. Patrick immigrated to the US from Ireland at the turn of the century and made his way from New York to Akron to Ashland. He worked as a pump assembler at the FE Meyers Pump Factory. They lived right next to his wife Rosene Marie’s mother, Rosa Yeagle. They and their young family grew to have four (that I know of) children, Mary, Cecilia, Theresa and Patrick Jr.

I could find 3 of their graduation pictures from the page.

Image Cecilia graduated in 1939 from Ashland High School.

 ImageTheresa graduated in 1945 from AHS.

ImageAnd Patrick Jr. in 1949.

The McKay’s made a home in that house for more than 3 decades, and watched as their son and youngest child went off to serve as a Corporal in the Korean War. Then in 1959, his father (now in his mid 70’s) died at Samaritan Hospital. Right up the street.  I can’t find much in City Directories online or info after that to see how long Marie stayed in the house.


That was a chapter in someone’s life. It held memories of new babies, school days, war times and losses. No house will stand forever. Miles was worried that would happen to our house, but I assured him we’d never let it go that far down hill while we owned it.

Miles also consoled me when I shared my disappointment with not getting to see the actual demolition of the whole house. “Mommy, don’t worry- they can just build a new house, let it get old and then they’ll do it again! You’ll get to see that one!”

I hope not:) It would actually just be great to have green space there for a while.

See the video:

 (Sources from Census records from 1930, 1940, Ashland City Directories from 1919-1959, the Ashland County Auditors website, and the Ashland County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society’s webpage.)



A Little Nostalgia About Grandparents

I stayed with my grandparents (my mom’s parents) most weekends when I was a baby. Then after my sister came along it was still often we got to see them or stay the night at their house in Lorain. When I visit now, not much has changed, except how fast my grandparents move, and I feel like a 10 year old little girl again. I feel at home there and have memories of them and their house that will never leave me.

They moved to Lorain from Baltimore in 1963 when a friend of my grandpa’s (Ralph Myers) told him there was work. Grandpa headed out to the ship yard in Lorain and got the job, staying by himself until my grandma and the three kids could join him. They stayed in a tiny apartment until their house was built in a new neighborhood. They have been there ever since. Fifty years next year. Twenty-eight years of those years I have had the privilege of being around to call it a second home.

I’m sure you all have wonderful memories of your grandparents whether they are still with you or have passed away. Please share those with me in the comments section. I’m fortunate to have one set of grandparents still living, and at 81 and 82, I soak up the time I get with them and still feel as cuddly and as loved as I did when I was five.


In the fall of 2000, I took my journal and walked around outside of their house and inside, jotting down notes of the things and the senses that stood out to me or brought to mind memories of visiting that familiar house on Skyline Dr.

Sitting on the front stairs, eating a bowl of grapes. Not just eating them like normal people, but peeling the skin off and taking mini-bites of each one. It was juicy and messy. And fun.

Playing in the leaves in the front yard under the big tree they had planted when they moved in. Closer to the house, the birch tree that shed its many seeds on the grass gave me something to collect. Like I needed another thing to collect as a kid.

Hearing the “Ca-lump Ca-lump” of the cars passing by on the concrete blocked street, slowing for the stop sign but mostly not stopping.

Hiding in the bushes and behind the big spruce tree while playing Hide n’ Seek.

Taking walks to the park down the street. 

Running, jump-roping, riding the plastic tricycle, then naturally falling down on the sidewalks and in the driveway-they must hold many blood stains from my knees and elbows. They were perpetually scraped. I still have a few scars to prove it. The cure? The red dyed Mercurochrome. Grandma would get mad if Grandpa tried to fix our scrapes with Iodine, she didn’t want us to feel it’s sting. 

Grandma would let us have washed out butter containers (which we used a knife to poke holes in the lids) to catch lightning bugs in.

Stopping to smell all the different kinds of flowers, mostly the roses that my Grandpa takes meticulous care of and knows all about. Petals so delicate, so silky to touch. Pink ones, yellow ones, pink and yellow ones, red ones, light pink ones, peachy ones, dark purplish red ones. And the snapdragons, forget-me-nots.

Swimming in the neighbor’s pool, learning to dive. Hearing about how Grandpa’s dad taught him how to swim- “Tied a rope around my waist, and threw me in the river”. The water and swimming is in our blood, we come from a long line of watermen and crabbers and oystermen on the Chesapeake Bay. Lake Erie is a familiar place for us, with my grandpa’s boat he passed along to my mom and dad, we’ve been out fishing and boating many times. Docked at Beaver Creek, I know the winding way we took with no wake under the bridges to the spot near the marina where the creek widens and becomes Lake Erie.

The picnic table with an umbrella I used to draw and color with marker and pencils under.

The windmills in the flower gardens- the sunflower, the rooster, the flamingo.

The barn (shed) in the back yard with the sign over the door said “Wilkom“, where inside lay an old canoe, lots of “junk” as my grandma defined it, and the old croquet set we would play over and over in the backyard. Wiffle ball, “football”, playing catch with Grandpa, who liked to use his old catcher’s mitt from the 40’s or 50’s.

Grandpa teasing me that my birthday was his birthday. (Ours are only a week apart.) Or teasing about whose rock it was…”My rock!” Little inside joke I guess.

The Mickey and Minnie kiddie pool we’d spend all afternoon in.

The crab-apple tree I spent many days in, barefoot and climbing towards the sky, hanging monkey-like from limb to limb. 

Chasing butterflies with the nets Grandpa would always have for us.

The spinning swing that hung from the crab-apple tree.

After a day on the boat on Lake Erie, fishing and/or swimming, Dad and Grandpa would clean the fish for dinner or for freezing, and they’d pop a few eyeballs out for us to examine and play with. I remember collecting them in a little plastic bag like they were marbles.

Hearing all the stories from being in the Navy, growing up in Baltimore and visiting his mother’s family on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake, endless genealogical findings, maps and pictures. Present day stories of the how the neighbor “Rainey” did this or that to tick him off. 🙂 Or swimming with the boys in Oberlin. It’s always entertaining and endearing.

Bird watching and being especially on the look out for Orioles.


After a weekend of playing and fun, leaving with pink polka-dotted skin. (From the calamine lotion on mosquito bites, of course.)

The goose on the front porch always donning the appropriate seasonal attire.

Grandma letting me use her lipstick and teaching me how to blot. And her cold cream. Thick, cold and always made my skin feel soft!

Sweet tea. Always cold, always with a hint of lemon. The hot tea, always with milk, always with sugar, and always always with 5 or more choices of desserts. If mom and dad weren’t looking, Grandma would let us try them all. The menu of desserts usually went like this: Tasty cakes, pie, cookies, Klondikes, Orange Push-ups, Pineapple sherbet, Eggnog ice cream, banana popsicles or fudge-sicles. Or, for special morning treats, Dunkin Donuts- the cake ones filled with white or chocolate frosting- the old way they did it, now they are  just not the same. For snacks, Jones chips in the bag or Mike-Sells potato chips in a big tin can, pretzels, fruit pebbles, apple jacks and Chicken In A Biskit. 

The flag pole in front, with the American flag raised high, and directly below it, the Royal Scottish flag.

The garage that Grandpa has filled with junk (as Grandma calls it:) – neatly stacked boxes upon boxes, carefully labeled with a draftsman’s handwriting, fishing rods over head, buckets, rakes, brooms, mowers, tools galore, straw garden hats, old bikes, rolled up maps, sprays and fertilizers, bumper stickers on the wall and a checkered clock by a framed paper with a cartoon drawing of a foot in a sock with a hole in the big toe that states “The only hole in one I ever had!”

The deer heads and mounted fish in the den, always decorated with bulbs and santa hats for Christmas.Cat’s Meow everywhere.Playing Jenga, UNO, Yahtzee.Crab cakes. Enough said there.Kleenex found under the hutch, baths in the sink, chocolate pudding and tapioca in the fridge, the grandmother clock I heard chime and how I prided myself in the early morning figuring out what time it was by the sound it would make at the quarter hour, half hour…

The candy dish on the coffee table that held Werther’s candies or those strawberry hard candies in the wrappers that looked like the fruit. 

Grandma’s slippers. Grandpa’s perfectly sharpened pencils.

These are just some of the things I remember and some of the things I still get to enjoy about visiting my grandparents. It is a special relationship and they are lovely, kind, wonderful people. I hope I make my grandkids feel at home someday by just being with them like my grandparents have made me feel when I’m with them.

Time For A Change…Of Plans. Again.

So after laboring over this post for too much time, I’ll just get to the point. Change has finally come our way. We don’t have all our answers, but some clarity has finally found us. I don’t even know how to tell this story, but I’ll do my best.

If you really need caught up, I’d suggest starting HERE, for the 2012 “beginning”. Or if you want to start from the beginning in 2011 go HERE. 🙂 That post actually comes full circle with something I want to share.

As I suspected, events have unfolded not as I suspected. Nothing has gone according to our plans and I shouldn’t been surprised by now. With 5 weeks to go, we knew God said He would act in the last moments, so to just hang tight. In my mind, we couldn’t pull the plug on any of this until God intervened. Or unless someone intervened  on His behalf. A big piece of the puzzle was the funding, and when Jason’s meeting on Monday was ended, he told me it was over. The DC move was over. Is over. The funding wasn’t there. And with that we had our clarity. Our intervention. If the money would have been there, if we had jobs, if our house was selling, if, if, if…None of it was coming together. We had held out hope that it would. His acceptance to school was why we were risking so much. For the second year in a row people were saying goodbye to us, we were preparing ourselves emotionally and physically for moving. It was scary, but we looked forward to the change and the challenge. I was disappointed. Jason was relieved. The weight he carried to take care of us all and go after his dream was beginning to take a toll. It would be one thing if the money was there, if we knew we wouldn’t struggle with money or with each other in DC. We knew we would. And without jobs secured there and the potential of foreclosure back home, we knew we couldn’t continue with our plan any longer. It had all hinged on this meeting about funding on Monday and that was the final word on the subject.

The goal is still the same. We still feel called that the PhD is in Jason’s future. It’s the path to get there that has changed. As of now, this fall, Jason will once again apply to Duquesne, and now to University of Dayton. We will try to refinance our house, stay in it, and he will commute a couple days a week to one of those schools, assuming his acceptance. Job wise? We’re working on it. We have 4 weeks to find something. God will provide.

As I reflect on what happened this week, I realized that I had my “Isaacs” confused. There was nothing that would make me believe that what we were putting on the altar wasn’t the idea of living in D.C., Jason getting his PhD there, living in a safe neighborhood with many wonderful cultural experiences at our fingertips. We put a lot on the line in order for this to happen. What I thought God should have provided didn’t come. I still don’t understand it fully. My faith is not shaken- I just don’t have the hindsight to see the “why” yet. The little bits of the “why” that I see shining through, however, are that maybe our “Isaac” was actually Ashland. It was our house, our friends, our church family, my family, comfort, stability, a job, familiarity, our home. We could have avoided the stress of the last two years by just keeping that off the altar, just going about our lives here. But for reasons I still don’t know, we felt we should give it up to move on to something new and exciting. I wanted an adventure. I think the last 2 years have been just that, and I didn’t have to go anywhere. We were taken to the point of putting the dagger in our home, our life and delving into a risky plan with no jobs, a lost house, no place to live and two kids. But God stepped in and provided. It wasn’t a job (yet) or a school with 100% funding that starts this fall, but He provided a lack of funding through someone else to force us to stay.

I don’t regret any of this, I’m just still a little thrown off. I’m also starting to feel a huge burden lifted off my shoulders knowing that we did all we could do and we hung in there faithfully to the end. It was the most trying time in our lives so far. We were so prepared to sacrifice a lot of important things and I was so geared up to do it, that when I heard the news, I think I was just in shock. And then I cried a lot. My first thought was kind of mad at God and thinking what the heck was the point of the last couple years? Now I’m starting to realize He may have saved us from a lot more stress and heartache. I can’t know for sure, and maybe I’m just trying to make sense out of something that doesn’t make any. Someone who cares deeply for us told us we’d be on a fast track to divorce if we pushed on through the closed doors of our situation and jumped deeper into debt, stress and time away from our kids and each other.  Again, I can’t know for sure and I would like to think all that wouldn’t affect us, but maybe God saved us from that.

You wanna know something funny? The afternoon after Jason’s important lunch meeting, he gets a call from a church he sent his resume in to in DC. They were interested in him for the position he applied for and wanted to do a phone interview.

We had been sending resumes since March. This was the first reply back from any of them.

Tuesday (the next day after the meeting), Jason gets another call from an unknown number. The message? From a place in DC he put his resume- they wanted to do a phone interview with him.

Wednesday. I check my email. From Mike So-And-So, employee. They reviewed my resume and wanted to set up a phone interview with me for the position of Archival Digitization Specialist.

Timing is everything.

While I groan about the timing of those job possibilities, they were still just that. Possibilities. None of which would have solved our problems anyway. One of us would still need part time work on top of that and still make time for Jason to do full time schooling. It was flattering that we were considered for those positions at least.

Let’s be clear about one thing. I love Ashland, and I’m fine living here if that’s where God calls us. I was just willing to leave and try something new. But this all kind of confirms my and my neighbor’s theory that Ashland is a black hole (in a “relative you love but don’t want to spend every second with” kind of way) that you just can’t leave. We now have started to look at our house not as a temporary space, but a place of even more potential, and we’ve already started talking about how we want new carpet in all the bedrooms someday and I’m thinking about repainting our porch. Maybe matching end tables for the living room finally, and maybe we’ll get around to fixing the lighting under the kitchen cabinets. Maybe even making the doorbells that haven’t worked since we’ve moved in actually ring again.

Seeing hot air balloons in the sky last evening gave my seemingly shrinking roots here a jolt downward into deep soil. There are things I get frustrated with Ashland about, but I was born a few blocks up the road from where I live now. My mom and dad and sisters are here. My closest friends are here. We have wonderful neighbors, who are wonderful friends. We have a support network that we are humbled to have. We have the opportunity to stay in our home and are doing just that. Thanks for all your prayers during this stressful uncertain time. We’ve felt them.

Let me end with some apologies:

To those of you friends and family around the DC area, I’m sorry we won’t get to be near you and spend more time out of the year hanging out with you. We really did try. We will still visit and you are always welcome to come north and visit. Maybe you’re sighing with relief. 🙂

To those of you in the World Headquarters of Nice People looking forward to our departure from Ashland, I’m also very sorry. You’re probably stuck with us for a long time.

Orchestrating More Than We Can Imagine

I’m tired.

I know that it’s not unheard of for a mom to be tired, but I still feel like a bad one sometimes. I wish I had the energy right now to do lots of activities with Miles, most of which would require more baths. I’m blessed to have a husband that helps with and does most of the laundry, dishes, cleaning up. I’m unmotivated to exercise, and have little time to do so. Taking walks with the family occasionally is about all the exercise I’m committed to right now. I go to yoga class when I can. I think a lot of it has to do with the stress of all the unknowns in our life still and on top of that I’ve had an annoying amount of minor health issues lately. I’m so thankful none are serious, but they are distractions that get me in an irritable mood and suck the energy from my body. I’m sick of doctor’s offices, prescriptions and driving. Hopefully that’s over now and I can focus on my kids more, and all the next steps we need to take for our future. Future. A cloudy one, indeed.

All we know for sure is that there are enough funds available that Jason will start school in DC, but not until January 2013.

Jason’s job ends here at the end of July. Thus creating a five month gap of ______?______ (fill in the blank).

Our house is still for sale.

Money is tight.

We have applied for a number of jobs (mostly Jason and mostly in the DC area). I’m hoping to find a part-time or telecommuting job so I can stay with the kids. Or, just beef up my freelance clients so I have more regular jobs coming in. (Easier said than done.) Babysitting would be another option as well.

One job for Jason in particular we are really hoping he gets. It involves campus ministry at Georgetown University.

We have good connections when it comes to finding a place to live in DC (family and friends) once we find a source of income to move there sooner than when school starts. It would be nice to get acclimated to the area before Jason starts full time school and full time job all at once.

I’ve been working on more freelance jobs. I go to bed very late.

That’s about all we know.

I wish we knew more details! But, while I’m listing things, let me take a moment to list the things I’ve either learned or have been hearing from the Lord lately.

We have been doing all we can do, now it’s God’s turn to make things happen. A good friend used the word “orchestrate”. I love that. We’ve taken the first steps and obeyed the direction we’ve felt Him call us to, now He will orchestrate the rest and we need to trust that He’s going to do that. We’ve stepped out in faith- as crazy and irresponsible as it seems and feels even to us at times- and now we have to rest in the knowledge that He’s going to work it out for our good. It hasn’t been the way we envisioned it yet, so I think I’m getting it through my thick skull that the rest of this story probably won’t go as I envisioned either. It’s stretching Jason and I and it doesn’t always bring out our best sides, but I think it’s also brought us closer together. I would say we’ve never bickered as much since our first year of marriage, but we’ve also never have prayed together as much either. Normally, when there are constant roadblocks and problems that arise in life, we’ve decided that route isn’t the way to go, etc. But with this situation, for some reason, every hurdle we come to, our resolve becomes stronger. I feel like things are being thrown at us right and left to distract us and bring doubt to our minds, and sometimes it starts to work. But then one of us comes to our senses and reminds the other what the goal is, or some God-send comes along to encourage us, and we are back on track.

Basically God’s been telling me “I see you. I got this. You don’t need to worry. I love you. I love your family. I want to do a lot of things through your family. This stuff you’re stressing about is going to happen at the last minute, so just hang in there.” I’ve been hearing that in my heart and through others. And lastly I keep going back to Ephesians 3. I had a dream where I heard “read Ephesians”, so when I woke up I re-familiarized myself with it and the third chapter stuck out to me most. Especially the prayer for the Ephesians:

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

*Photos by Aemee Ellis 🙂

Walking and Lavender

Some may find it morbid that our normal place to walk (aside from our neighborhood loop we do) is the cemetery. A lot of people walk there. Plus, our love of history, names, and quiet stretches of paved roads without a lot of traffic makes it a perfect place to walk. It can be a good workout with those hills- they can be a killer. No pun intended.

That’s a lie. It was intended, I am just a slap stick nerd.

Miles did his regular fall down and get a skinned knee, but other than that we just enjoyed the temperate weather and got some exercise in after dinner. Clem was wrapped to my chest, head a-bobbin’ as I wandered around trying to find a few shots of cool textures to take. The Mykrantz mausoleum everyone has seen, and forever I hadn’t really thought about how the name was really pronounced. In my head I always thought “myrkatz”. But no, it’s not like the animal, I was wrong. And dyslexic. I learned online that the vault was established on April 8, 1898 and holds 9 family members. I snapped a few pictures of the ornate door, looks very Art Nouveau to me.


A few cemetery walks ago, we stumbled upon grave sites of the Sharr family. (Click on the name to read what I’ve already learned about the Sharr Family- the second family to reside in my house.) There was Carl and his wife Velda, who were both newlyweds and starting their family in my house by the 1930 census. Their 3 year old, Richard, grew up in Ashland and is living (now in his 80’s) so I wrote him last year and he wrote back! The sad part is that a stone next to his parents was for Robert Sharr 1932-1932. They suffered a loss of their little boy in my house. I can’t imagine the pain they must have gone through, and then to think dealing with it in many of the rooms I move in and out of every day. Then I looked back at Carl and Velda’s stone. I had to move a plant out of the way to see the dates on Carl’s side and realized I was touching lavender.

It was small, so I’m sure it wasn’t planted at the time of either of their deaths, but I suddenly realized some thing we had in common besides sharing a home: Three years ago I had decided to buy two lavender starts and plant them in the front flower bed of our house in between the small shrubs.

It was a meaningful moment.

The Year Ahead

So as many of you have began to find out, by our conversations with you, that you will get to (or have to;-) see our smiling faces in Ashland for another year. Not what we expected, but we are open to what God wants to do with us. We know we still feel Jason is being called to a graduate school in the future, not as an end in itself, but using the degree as a tool to place us where we’re meant to be, so we can be used to serve others, grow in love and follow God’s call on our life. We can do this anywhere, but we are excited that we feel He has a specific plan for us, and we want to be as obedient to that as we can be. It’s a humbling and frustrating transition, nonetheless. And the process of being in residency for the degree will surely stretch us in new and profound ways. We want to dream big and expect God to work in amazing ways. I refuse to live in the cynicism and negativity that often tries to cloud my mind.

Somehow, God has made it possible for us to keep our home for another year. Jason will be working in some capacity, and while not sure of the details yet, we will up and try this application thing again this fall and wait wait wait during the winter till next Spring and see what comes from it! I will continue to freelance, work at catering, babysit, pick up dirty pennies off parking lot pavement and accrue Swagbucks. Our house is officially off the market as of the end of last week, but by all means, I am still planning my “Moving Staying Sale” in June. Plenty of house detoxing happened, and I am not keeping it around for another year! So mark it on your calendars…June 9,10,11th- 3-4 family yard sale, our driveway- or yard. Christmas decorations, housewares, adult clothes, picture frames, shoes, a TV, random furniture, lot of BOOKS, much more.

Okay my commercial is done. Thanks, friends, for praying for us. You’re friendship, encouragement, prayers and thoughts have meant a lot in really uncertain and trying times for us this year. There’s been so much more going on that hasn’t been brought to this blog, but your prayers have affected those things too, whether or not you knew it. We’re looking forward to this opportunity to stay in Ashland at least another year and what that might mean for our lives. I don’t want it to be wasted time, and we don’t see it as such. Whatever reason we are in Ashland for the next year, we want to make the most of it. Sometimes we don’t realize the things we need, and the blessings and life giving opportunities are disguised as setbacks, until we see them on the other side.

For instance, I always saw myself, with a tall, dark, handsome, uniform type man. (it’s okay to laugh) Then I married Jason. (it’s okay to groan at the lousiness of this joke) For those of you that know him, he is only one of those things I mentioned,  but God knew me better than what I WANTED for myself. He knew what I NEEDED. And Jason balances me in every way. He has helped strengthen my walk with Christ, he has encouraged and supported my interests, and challenged me when I needed it. Our personalities balance each other. The cool thing is, we’ve only been married close to 5 years. So there is so much life yet to experience with one another, God willing, and so much to learn about each other and to teach Miles together. I am a blessed woman to have those two in my life. And blessed to call Ashland “home” for at least one more year.

He Wrote Me Back!

Well, in previous posts I have been sharing about my research of the history of my house. I found out that the Sharrs, were the 2nd owners. The young couple lived here from around 1930 till about WWII, when they sold it to the Dunlaps. Their son, Richard E. Sharr was just a toddler when they moved in, and I found his AHS senior picture on the Ashland Genealogical Society website. I also learned he only lives a short ways away from my house, his old stomping grounds. So I wrote him. About a week ago.

And today it came. The letter from the 89 year old Richard who was once just a little boy in my house and did much of his growing up here, I suppose! He wrote a full page and little bit more to me, saying how he was surprised and glad to get my letter and to correspond with me. He didn’t say anything about the house actually, but kind of wrote about his life in a nutshell, what he did after high school, married, raised kids, have grandchildren, etc. I’m taking this as a friendly sign that it’d be okay to stop by some afternoon and just introduce myself and say hi. I’ll write him back again though.

Getting that letter in the mail today almost made me giddy. I mean, he could have never responded at all, and been a total grouch or something. I know it seems like nothing, but I think there are enough unanswered questions out there, that getting a response from someone who happens to be kind and helpful, gives me hope and joy in risk taking- no matter how big or small the risk might seem.

And Then There Was One

With only a month left before we have to technically give our “yes” or “no” answer to the last two schools, we still had no word. I voiced this frustration to Jason today when he came home around lunch time, seeing that neither the mailman nor the email man brought us any news still this morning. He apparently took my words as a call to action and emailed both UVA and Duquesne, asking (very politely) what the status of his application was.

We headed to my parents house to celebrate my brother-in-law’s birthday, and thought nothing more of it.

Once home, Miles already up the stairs, shutting all the bedroom doors, and standing tip toe on a basket of books attempting to shut off the little winnie-the-pooh lamp beside his bed, Jason went in the office to check his email. As I pulled Miles away from the accident waiting to happen, got him down to his diaper and socks, I hear from the other room, “I got rejected. UVA rejected me.”

I walked in and read the email with him, both of us not expecting his emails of this afternoon to produce a result so quickly, since it was obvious they weren’t in a rush up until now. “I’m sorry” I told him, and be both just stared at the computer screen. Meanwhile, half-naked Miles is plunging both arms into the toilet, along with helping a start of the roll of toilet paper into the water as well. After walking around like a baby Frankenstein monster, still trying to shut all the bedroom doors, this time with toilet water hands, I grabbed a soapy washcloth and cleaned him up. Jason and I tag-teamed the new diaper and pj’s, prayed with him, he kissed our cheeks and we laid him in his crib with his favorite two blankets and of course, Bear.

Jason said he’s disappointed, not devastated. I think I’m still processing. I think I’m numb after all this waiting. And after three say “no”, it’s pretty clear that God wants to make His plan clear to us. I think.

I mean, if we had two or three schools to decide from, it’s harder to know if it’s what you want or what God wants, right? But now that it’s up to Duquesne to say yes or no, what will it mean if they say no? Yes will be easy. We’ll go there. But if this door shuts, I don’t know what God will provide in it’s place. Provide, He will. But what? When?

That’s for us to find out another day, I guess. More waiting. What’s new. There are always other options. Just don’t ask me what. There are options and rumors of options for all I know. I think I’m just bummed because UVA meant an adventure outside of Ashland for a few short years. I always wanted us to make it back to Ashland, but for 2, 3, 4 years- it would have been nice to experience the beautiful city of Charlottesville, it’s art scene, it’s climate, it’s close distance to family we don’t see a whole lot- all of Jason’s family, and also my aunt and uncle in DC, my cousin in Charlotte, NC, my dear friend Lauren in DC; and it would have been a change of scenery. It was near to our hearts.

I think I just see the huge potential in my husband, too, and it makes me want to tell these schools, “your loss.” I know what he is capable of- no matter how hard the programs would be, he would put his whole heart into them, and he would excel. But they don’t know him. They look at papers with words on them from him and his referrals and decide. They look at standardized testing. They don’t know him. They don’t know how ambitious or driven he is. They don’t know what good he does. How smart he is or how passionate about community he is. I think I am taking it harder than he is. He’s too humble to say these things, but I know he is made for something great.

He’s joking “Et tu, UVA?” on this, the Ides of March, and I laughed, but it’s still disheartening. I know Romans 8:28, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

We had an open house Sunday afternoon and three people (couples, groups, not sure), came through. I don’t know if that’s a lot or not. But our realtor said two showed some interest. Some interest. That might mean they thought it looked nice, or it was on their top 10 list, or maybe they’d keep it in mind. It’s early though, so I’m not worried. She said it showed very well. We fixed up and cleaned everything we could have possibly fixed and cleaned, and I thought the house looked pretty flippin’ good Sunday morning.

I think I’m making a crap-load of chocolate chip cookies tomorrow.

A Long Winter


Is it just me, or has it been a long winter? Maybe it’s been the teasers of nice weather that we had in February, making us forget that in fact, it was February, and not its more cheerful cousin, April.

Still no word from our other two schools. I’m getting numb to the waiting, but at the same time, I don’t like what it’s doing to my spirits and my attitude. It’s making me a very impatient, snappy, irritable person at times, and I feel the weight of it grow every day that we don’t get an answer. I know I’m to be learning from this, and growing and strengthening my faith, but on these cold, extremely rainy days where I am a prisoner in my house most every day all day long, I can feel my back tensing and my eyes puffy and heavy and twitching, and my breathing short and shallow. The unknowns are slowly getting the best of me, and when God is begging for me to give Him control, I’m screaming “But Lord, I feel so OUT of control, I can’t even think straight! The control is floating around here, just take it please!”

But maybe He’s not asking me for control, and He knows I’m not in control either. Just because He is in control doesn’t mean I need to see things lining up perfectly or knowing exactly when I want to know if we have a school to go to in the fall, or if we’ll have the money to start paying our student loans again once they come out of forbearance this month, and then mine next month, and then another one the following month, at least until Jason gets into a school???? so we can defer his loans again? I know, TMI. Or to know exactly when our house will sell.

I know no one made us decide to have a baby when we did.
I know no one made us decide I would quit my job and be a stay at home mom.
I know no one made us decide to act on the call that Jason would have more schooling.
I know no one made us decide to put our house up for sale in a horrible market before we even know where we are going or what job Jason will have if all schools say “no.”

“You made your bed, now lie in it.” I get that.

I also know that we are genuine, real people. People that are doing our best to listen and obey our Lord. We love people and we want to have deep, meaningful relationships with them. We want to grow in the areas we’re passionate about and use them for Christ to the benefit of others, and in turn, making ourselves richer, more alive people. We’re human and we screw up and we fight and we jump to conclusions and we can be stubborn and aloof and selfish…but what you see is what you get with us. But we truly want to dive into the life we were meant to have, and that might look out of order or irresponsible to our society, but this is small potatoes compared to some of the risks and trials our brothers and sisters are enduring here and all over the world. And when I think of them, I feel totally selfish for worrying about my petty problems of paying bills, moving and selling a house. Do I think God would call us on this journey and not take care of us and our little one? What kind of faith do I own? “The flesh is weak…”

So for all the times where we’ve felt irresponsible, out of control, pessimistic, and “what if”-ed the day away, those have been wasted hours of my life. The times I have felt such peace and hope are equal to those days of doubt and wallowing in self-pity. I don’t want to have anymore of those days.

Even if it takes another 2 months for any glimpse of the future to reveal itself, I don’t want to have another day gone to waste. I want to enjoy the last weeks of a house that Jason and I started our life together in, brought home our first dog, our first baby, had neighbors who became more than neighbors- they became dear friends.

So, really I should be thankful for a long winter, and thankful for the blessing of time God has allowed us to have together in our home. We are all healthy, our bills get paid, we have friends and family who love us deeply; our list of how we are blessed is beyond measure, and we take those blessings for granted every time we fret about the future.

Thank you, to all the friends and family who have been praying for us and giving us encouragement,  words of comfort, helping us carry our burden, anxiously waiting with us for God to reveal His plan. Your love for us and hope of our future  overwhelms me. Long winter or not, thank you. If my grandma were still around, she would say “This too, shall pass.” That is one thing we can know for sure.

Photo from: onealchristopher on Flickr

More of the Past Uncovered: The Outside of my House, 1950/51

So the outside has changed a bit as well. When the Dunlaps owned it, they improved on many things, since the house was then getting to be in it’s 30’s. The first two pictures show porch pillars (new brick to replace rotting wooden ones) and a chimney, all still untouched by paint. In the later photos from the next year(s)? they have been painted the white you see today. (Of course, I can tell from some of the peeling paint, it went through a few colors since then, but obviously back to white!)

This was a photo where our side patio is, then grass, gravel and a stone walkway, no paved over fully. Here, 4 generations of Dunlaps pose for a picture.

Below is a better picture of what our patio area looked like then and now. New awnings, paved over, and the stairs leading to the side door for the upstairs apartment are on the opposite side now! Interesting fact: The circular lid thing on the left lower part of the picture, was an inground trash bin that grandfather Dunlap had put in. His granddaughter shared with me that at the time you didn’t have to put trash on the curb, and that the trash men hated hoisting the can out of the hole every trash pick up day! Hahaha!

A view of the detached garage, where Sue used to play in her sandbox, with her Dad, Marion L. Dunlap.  I wish the car that was in the 1950s garage was still in there today!

The driveway view. Miles has ran on that driveway, but only not with a mini stroller for his baby doll. He doesn’t have a baby doll, trust me:)