A Trip Down Memory Lane

Joining with Jen at “Finding Heaven” and the women at Soli deo gloria:
And, at the end of the week, choosing this one for Amanda’s great linky party at “Serenity Now”:

Weekend Bloggy Reading
This little journey to yesterday began on Wednesday night of this last week.  My husband’s first cousin was in town for a conference – he teaches physics at a famous university in northern CA and we seldom see him.  The two men are six weeks apart in age, and until late in high school, they did a lot of growing up together, never living more than a few miles apart. 

He sent Dick an email and asked if we could meet for a late meal after his workshop, so we made reservations at a favorite spot. The dinner was good, the conversation interesting and it was really fun to re-connect. 

But it was also a little disconcerting. Sometimes we get so used to our own faces in the mirror, that we can brush over the fact that we are getting older as the years go by. Then you see a face you haven’t seen in a while…and you remember.  Both he and his wife are doing well and look terrific – they just look a little bit older than the last time we saw them!  Funny thing about that – it happens to the best of us.

I refuse to make these pictures ‘large,’ for obvious reasons. {smile}
On Friday, we drove the 120 miles south of here to spend the night at our daughter’s home so that I could meet with my Birthday Breakfast Club (which I wrote about here ) on Saturday morning, and on the way, we opted to get off the freeway early and drive around our old haunts. We have owned four homes in our 45 years of marriage, three of them in Altadena, California, a foothill suburb of Pasadena. This is the first one, found for us by my mother-in-law, the one to which we brought our 2-year-old and newborn daughters in 1970.

When we lived in it, it was about 1400 square feet of living space with an added on ‘lanai’ that was long and narrow across the back of the house.  It has been added onto a couple of times in these intervening thirty-six years (!!). 

The driveway was asphalt and very cracked and there were tree roses lining the walkway.  I also made the hideous mistake of painting the house ‘green.’  We had NO money for a paint job by a professional, so I went to the local hardware chain and bought what I thought would be a lovely, soft yet cheerful shade of green.  And I rolled that stuff on the front and driveway side of the house and proudly crossed the street to admire my handiwork. 

Where I was SHOCKED to discover that the house was now a vibrating shade of chartreuse. Many additions of white pigment later, it was toned down enough to look at without going blind.  Oh, the joys of youthful enthusiasm. 

After our third child arrived in 1972, we began to look for a larger place, one still in the same school district because our eldest was thriving there and her sister was just about to join her.  I looked at so many houses!  Finally, in 1975, we had an accepted offer on a larger home on the very same street, so we listed ours and it sold pretty quickly. 

Then the owners of the house we had bought backed out – and we were panic-stricken.  I was sure that we needed a 4-bedroom so that each of our kids could have their own room, and that we would never find another house so well-suited to us as the one we had just lost, and…, and…And then, the Sunday after escrow fell apart, we heard an excellent sermon about keeping our wants in line with our needs – and I prayerfully said, “Time to look smaller than I thought, right Lord?” 

The next weekend, a very small, for-sale-by-owner ad showed up in our local paper.  It immediately caught my eye. I went to see it the next day, and thought it might be TOO small, at least as much as I could see of it from the street.  But then the owner opened the door, and lo and behold – the hallway just stretched right on back! And we were SO blessed to find this wonderful place:

Our children were 7, 5 and 3 when we stretched ourselves to buy this home (it was a few thousand dollars more than the one we had originally tried to buy – but remember this was in 1975, long before the housing boom! And the subsequent crash of the last few years…)  We lived there for 13 years and loved, loved, loved it.   We had some great neighbors who became lifelong friends (she is in my BBC group) and my kids all remember this house as the one where they grew up.

It’s been 23 years since we lived here.  This oak tree was a lot smaller then and where the hedges are, we had a beautiful white picket fence that another of my husband’s cousins built for us.  Our eldest daughter left this house to get married at the tender age of 19 and our middle girl went off to college from here. 
When our son was the last one home every day, we bought this house.  Sort of a strange purchase for us, one that we debated about a lot.  But it turned out to be the perfect place for us at this stage of our lives.  It was the largest of our homes – sort of strange as your family is getting smaller, right?  But guess what?  Funny things happen when your kids leave home – they come back.  

When we lived here, there was an absolutely gorgeous bougainvillea climbing up the left side of the house, framing that balcony.  Hated the thorns, loved the vibrant magenta blooms, even when they fell and coated the walk with their color. 

In this house, our second daughter’s future husband and our son’s future wife came and lived in our guest room while they each explored the possibility that God might be bringing them together. That was a great experience, one for which I have always been grateful.  And I went to seminary from this house, using that downstairs room with the large front window as my study, pulling way too many all-nighters for any age, but especially for a woman in her forties! And our older daughter brought her first two babies to visit us in this house – what a joy that was!  I was 46 when Ben was born – and now he’s 20! 

We had so much fun driving this neighborhood, remembering our story.  It was lovely to see that each home still looks loved and cared for – a reminder that new families are learning and loving and growing and changing within their walls. 

And as we drove from house to house, we were each simply overwhelmed with the goodness of God, with the faithfulness of God’s leading, with the ways in which we learned how to be a family of faith in each one of these special places.

We finished this little remembering journey by eating Chinese food at a favorite restaurant, eating way too much Honey Walnut Shrimp, Beef and Broccoli and Mu Shu Pork.  When they brought out the Pan Fried Mixed Noodles, we knew we had overdone it and wrapped it all up to take out to my mom’s the next day. All three of us enjoyed the leftovers as we gave my mom a photo memory book of her special party (the one I talked about here ), the one celebrating her 90th birthday.

How many times in scripture are we called to remember?  Over and over again, God reminds the Israelites and God reminds us that it is in remembering our story, our journey with the Lord, that our faith is strengthened and we are reminded of grace.

When is the last time you’ve taken a trip down this particular lane, the one where the memories are?

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  1. Beautiful stories and memories and photos! I’m like you, I am (in my old age) coming to realize how important it is, from God’s perspective, to remember all He has done for us. I’ve enjoyed walking down your memory lane with you and seeing how God walked it with you all these years.


  2. We do this often Diana and love every minute of it

  3. Oh my gosh…I am all choked up..I have all these children and you describing bringing your babies home …and this certain house is the one your children consider the one they grew up in…and then another you welcome your grandchildren in…iiii- yiii- yiii!
    Loved reading it.even if it got me all teary eyed at the thought of all the memories I have to come.

  4. This is such a delight to read and walk through with you! I love hearing a little more of your story and getting this little glimpse of your past. No worries about the links–I can clean that up, no problem. I’m so glad you shared this today.

  5. I love walking down memory lane, especially the older I get. Helps us remember all of God’s blessings.

  6. What a gift to go back and see your previous homes so loved and cared for. Thanks for the peak, Diana.

  7. Oh, Diana, this post is just beautiful. I love reading about your family and your memories.

    Your second house really stood out to me. It carried the feeling ‘home’ all throughout the picture. It’s interesting to me that you considered lowering your expectation of the size of house you needed. We currently have a four bedroom, and I told my husband I would love to downsize. Trying to clean the house well with three little kids can be challenging, and, honestly, I think having my daughters share a room would be good for them , too.

    Thank you for reminding me to remember all the blessings God has given me.

  8. What a fun idea to chronicle the places a family has done their living, and laughing, crying and learning in…

  9. i love love love the second house. that is how i picture my house to be:)
    the food also looks really good..i am starving as i type;)
    it was fun hearing your story..the homes you lived in and a little history with each..

  10. God does call us to remember and such for reason as you describe here — the joy of the time swells. I loved seeing all of these pictures and being let in to more of your story.

  11. Oh how I loved walking down memory lane with you. Your beautiful homes arranged by the hand of God for the needs of your family each step of the way was a blessing to read about. Wonder what the next 20 years will you to!

  12. Wow – so nice to see so many of you here (11 comments is ‘many’ for me!) Thanks for your kind words. This was SO MUCH FUN TO DO. We loved taking this little drive – these 3 houses are less than a mile apart and each holds such wonderful memories. There were also lots of hard things that happened in each place – but you know what? Those really fade into the background when you set out to remember.

    @Jennifer V – yes, looking for ‘less’ proved to be a huge blessing. Our two girls really wanted to share, and did so very well for the first 3 years. Then we enclosed a small covered patio area and opened it to our family room and our oldest daughter moved into this tiny space – and loved it. After both girls were gone, our son opted to move himself in there – we got that 4th bedroom, but it came later and it was so small. But two of our kids really liked ‘cozy’ so it was all good!