It has been a while since I have written a blog post. For the past few months, life has been a little crazy for our family. We have had some challenges and big life changes, and I would like to share with my readers about our journey and God’s faithfulness. This isn’t a short story, but if you hang in there, I promise you it will be worth the read. In fact, you may leave this page with a few goose bumps!
Last March, my husband was appointed to a new position at a new University in Texas. We both grew up in Texas, so the prospect of being near our extended families again was very exciting. We had experienced six wonderful years in Iowa, but it was time to come back home.
At the beginning of April, we put our historic home on the market and made plans to move to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. We were confident that our home would sell fairly quickly.
We flew to Dallas, met with a real estate agent, and began scoping out neighborhoods looking for a home to purchase. I began to investigate ballet studios for Rosebud, art studios for Sunshine, and homeschooling co-ops that we might join. My husband and I researched different church options, and began to narrow down the first two or three we would visit as a family.
April passed by and there were no nibbles on our house. May passed by and still no offers. June began and still nothing. The housing market in our town was full of homes to buy, but there weren’t many buyers on the horizon. The market was very slow. My husband’s start date at his new position was quickly approaching, and we needed a plan.
We prayed and wracked our brains, trying to figure out the best possible scenario. Needless to say, we were a bit worried about how it would shake out. We have always used Dave Ramsey’s percentages for home cost and it has served us well. We haven’t ever bought or rented a home outside our means. My husband’s new salary was not one that would support both a mortgage and a rental cost, and we did not want our savings to deplete over time.
What should we do than? Do we rent out our home? Drop the price a crazy amount? Move everything and store it in Texas and live with family? Should the girls and I stay in Iowa and live several states apart for who knows how long?
We were about to talk with our realtor about offering our home for lease when I felt a strong urge to spend an evening praying and reading the Bible. We had already been praying and searching the scriptures, but this was one of those gut wrenching, compelling moments when I needed to go deeper.
I searched God’s Word for guidance, and that night as I cried out in prayer for direction, I believe the Holy Spirit led me to Psalm 27. Take a moment and read it. The verses that captured my attention were:
One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquirec in his temple.
5For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
Teach me your way, O LORD,
and lead me on a level path
There it was as clear as a bell….WAIT. “Don’t list your house for rent and DON’T drastically drop the price of the house.”
A couple of nights later, my husband came in from a church rehearsal that he had been leading and said: “I think I know what we are supposed to do! We leave our furniture here, take my office and our homeschooling supplies in a small U-Haul and go on down to Texas. You and the girls will live with your parents and I will commute back and forth to my job. We will be apart during the week but see one another most weekends.”
The moment this plan was uttered, I felt an immediate sense of peace that I had not felt in weeks. Yes! This was it!
But wait…”Where are you going to live during the week while you are working?” I asked. We didn’t have the answer to that question yet. That was going to require prayer.
It wasn’t a week after that that my husband heard from a woman who was a former real estate agent and a huge supporter of the school of music where he would be teaching. She had a garage apartment that was coming available in August. Not only that, she and her husband wanted to offer the apartment to him for free. No rent.
Our God is faithful. This was the confirmation we were looking for.
So, at the end of June we left our house staged with the majority our belongings and drove to Texas. My parents graciously offered to open their home to us until our house in Iowa sold. My parents live in a town that is about 5 hours away from the Dallas area, so we knew that our little family would be living “apart” once school began for my husband.
Even though this was not our “A” plan for our family, we still had the hope that our house would sell before September.
Then, in August, Decorah was hit with a catastrophic flood. We had dear friends that were affected by the devastation. Our hearts were heavy with the stories, pictures, and videos that were emerging. And another by product of this…the housing market came to a standstill.
So, my husband’s semester began up in North Texas and the girls and I began our homeschool year out in West Texas.
If you have ever taken the Myers-Briggs personality test, you know that an ENTP (Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Prospecting) needs his/her people. Being alone in a new environment can be detrimental. Well, my amazing hubby is about as ENTP as you can get. Sure, he had interaction with his new colleagues during the day, but when he went home to that one bedroom apartment…the people he loved most weren’t there. For almost 4 months this was his reality. It was extremely hard for him.
I, on the other hand am an ISFJ (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging). I need some true alone time to refuel and renew. Our circumstances made that hard, and as the semester wore on, I felt the affect of burnout and anxiety. I went into survival mode–only doing what was absolutely necessary to get through each day. I put my Shaklee business on hold, stopped growing as a teacher and parent, and didn’t get any exercise or physical activity.
We both felt like our lives were on hold, and the very people and circumstances that were dearest to us were being challenged or removed. Living in the WAIT was extremely hard. Psalm 27 kept flooding my memory. “Wait upon the LORD.” I will confess, we did not wait in one way. Over the months, we lowered the price of our home a significant amount: so much so, that we were going to lose our down payment, lose the money we had put into the house, and barely squeak out of our mortgage.
I won’t go into much detail about those four months. But I will say that there were tears, anxious conversations, and stressful moments as husband and wife. But we were seeking God like we hadn’t done in years. I often think about C. S. Lewis during trials and tribulations. He said, “Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” It is through our suffering that we grow closer to Christ. My husband and I can both attest to the truth of that statement! Through all of it, I didn’t lose my faith. I knew God had called my husband to this new position and I knew that there was a reason why our house had not yet sold. But, that didn’t make the loneliness, pain, and frustration any easier to endure.
November rolled around, and yet again, in our frustration and strong desire to be together as a family we started trying to make plans. Waiting? Um, no. We again wracked our brains, trying to find a way that we could all be together in the new year, but still make wise financial choices that wouldn’t lead us into debt. There was a possibility of renting a small furnished house for a much lower cost than most rentals. It would make things VERY tight, but we were readying ourselves to take the plunge. Being together as a family was priority. We didn’t care about how nice the house was. We didn’t care much about the location. We just needed to be together.
In the meantime, my ISFJ self was in desperate need of some time and renewal alone. I don’t know that I really was praying for it, but the desire was in my heart. Since the end of October, my thoughts had been turning back toward Decorah, Iowa as well. I missed my friends–my sweet sisters in the faith. I missed my house and had that “nesting” desire to make sure it was okay and clean and cared for.
HERE’S WHERE THINGS GET VERY INTERESTING…
Out of the blue, one of my close friends sent me an email. In it, she mentioned what a great idea it would be for me to fly up there one week so that I could be a part of one of our Friday morning accountability times. A spark lit. I had been casually looking online for flights to Minneapolis for several weeks, but everything was too expensive. I thought, “Well, what the heck, I’ll look again.” The flights were on sale for that week so I checked with my husband and then booked a roundtrip flight for a fraction of the cost. This was extremely impulsive of me, but I had a peace.
I was so thrilled to be getting the chance for some extended alone time in my house, along with a few hours of social time with some of the dearest people on the planet.
As my friend drove me from the airport to Decorah, God was impressing upon me to do a personal study on the concept of REST in the Bible.
It had already been rolling around in my mind, but seemed to come together beautifully as my friend and I talked and shared. So, after arriving at our house, shedding a few tears and cleaning a bit (remember, I’m an ISFJ who likes a clean environment in which to think) I grabbed my Bible, pen, and journal and headed up to the master bedroom to meet with my Savior.
That hour alone with him was the most invigorating and renewing spiritual experience I had had in months–maybe even a year. It was like He was guiding my hand as I took notes. He was speaking to my heart and soul in ways that only He can do. At the end of my time, I felt led to walk around our beloved house and pray in each room. So, I went from room to room, recounting aloud God’s goodness in what went on in each space.
I thanked Him out loud for the laughter and playtime my girls had experienced in their bedrooms.
I thanked Him for the precious moments my husband and I had rocking them before they went to bed. I thanked Him that we had witnessed both girls’ prayers to receive Christ in that house. I praised Him for songs sung and Scriptures read in those rooms.
I thanked Him for friends we hosted, meals shared in our kitchen and dining room.
With tears flowing and hands raised I praised Him for the amazing home that He had given to us to live in for six years. Gratitude exploded from my mouth in loud utterances of praise. (Not really an ISFJ quality, right?)
Then, I prayed with boldness and confidence that He would bring someone else to that home to have those same kinds of experiences. “Lord would you bring a family that will love this home just as we have loved it?”
Just moments after praying that prayer, my cell phone rang. It was our realtor. We had an offer on our home.
My mouth fell open and I began to laugh with a joyful laugh. What in the world just happened? An offer on our home? Really? Really!!! My friend had the same reaction when she picked me up for a get-together.
Many people might say that this was just a coincidence. My coming to Decorah, and spending time alone with God was just something I wanted to do.
No. This was God’s plan.
I could’ve just stayed in Texas and received this call on a regular ol’ Thursday afternoon. But no, that was not God’s plan.
I was supposed to be IN MY HOUSE. I was supposed to have prayed THOSE SPECIFIC PRAYERS, because God was ready to answer in a way that I COULD HAVE NEVER PLANNED!
I had to see that He was at work. I needed the reminder that He IS FAITHFUL. He is the great I AM who is present in every moment and is ready to meet me in any moment!
Oh, He is SO good that he orchestrated that I receive this phone call in this exact way. No other way would do.
That day, may faith grew exponentially. “Lord, help me overcome my unbelief!” He answered that prayer in spades!
I will admit though, I still had a gnawing fear at the back of my mind. The house inspection. What if they see the drawbacks of a 150 year home and pull out? With this cloud still hanging over the horizon of my mind I was unwilling to fully leap for joy. It was not a sure thing.
The days passed and no inspection occurred. We were a little worried about this. Then, we received a message from our realtor stating that the buyers were going to forgo the inspection, since we would essentially be breaking-even financially on the sale. No inspection?? Really?? What mercy! What kindness–from this family that we didn’t even know. I will say it again. God knows our need and He is faithful.
So, on December 16th, we flew up as a family and moved out of our home. It was a great time of closure for my husband, and a sweet time of reunion with friends for Rosebud and Sunshine. The movers loaded the truck in snow and a wind chill of -15 degrees. Yes negative 15! But the cold couldn’t touch the warmth of joy we felt in our hearts. December 20th, we moved into our new home in the Dallas area. December 28th, we closed on the house in Iowa. This nine month chapter of waiting had finally come to a close.
It is such a joy to type this blog post from the living room of our new home. Our family is together again. I hope and pray that these walls will be filled with the same laughter, beauty, and truth that filled our Decorah home. I cannot wait to make wonderful memories here. I look forward with anticipation to see how God is going to work in our midst.
So why even write about this? Why should I share this story?
First of all, let me recount how God provided for our needs during this time of waiting:
- He provided a rent free apartment for my husband. Not only that, but He provided a sweet friendship to develop between my husband and the couple who owned the house. They are such amazing people and we are so grateful for their generosity.
- He provided the girls and me with an amazing time with my parents. We did not have one argument the entire 6 months we lived with them. We were able to make up for all the time we lost in those 6 years in Iowa. We shared many laughter-filled meals, watched old movies, listened to old songs–in short, we shared life together, and it was beautiful.
- He gave us the opportunity to spend time with my brother, sister-in-law and their kids. The cousins had great play time together. He gave us time with grand parents, who are now in their 90s.
- He provided a dining room that became our homeschooling room for a semester.
- He provided a Classical Conversations community for us to join and we met some really wonderful people there.
- He provided people to take my hubby to lunch, and cook him dinner on several occasions.
- He provided a church home where the girls could get involved in church choir, G. A.’s and Sunday school. He provided my husband with a church home as well, where he could begin to build relationships and experience amazing music and teaching.
- Most importantly, He provided us Himself. He provided strength for each day. He taught us to put Him first above all else.
- If our house had sold back in April, we would not have experienced all of these provisions.
I write this post to testify to you that this world did not come to be by accident. This world was created by a God who didn’t just create and then step back to let things happen as they would happen. It was created by a God who loves you with an everlasting love. A God who knows you, who knit you together, who desires a relationship with you. He is not in the business of providing what we want. Yes, he does do that from time to time out of his mercy and grace. But, really, He is in the business of providing what you need. I’m not just talking about physical and emotional needs. There is a bigger need that He has met. He provided a way to free us from our sin, to give us eternal life, and to walk in freedom here on this earth. This way is Jesus. He is real and He loves you. He does not promise a care-free life. In fact, our lives are full of suffering. But you know what? He suffered too and to a greater degree than we will ever suffer. He is good. He is faithful. He is truth. He is your stronghold during the wait.
Because of these last nine months, I trust Him now more than ever before. I pray that this story of our journey will inspire and encourage. I pray that it will plant a seed of faith in the hearts of those that read it.
Until next time,