7.16.2012

and then He said YES.

Scripture tells us to take all of our requests to God, and that if we are praying according to His will, we will have what we have asked of Him. So often we take that scripture and twist God into some sort of genie in a bottle… granting wishes and desires just because we asked.

But that’s not who our God is. He is a wise Father who knows what is best for us. He knows the beginning from the end. And sometimes, His answer is no. Sometimes the thing we ask is not according to His will. Sometimes the best thing is not the immediate thing.

I have written a lot about that “no”. The “no” hurts. It’s confusing. Hearts are broken. It doesn’t make sense. I know all about the "no", I have learned much from those two letters.  

But sometimes… God says “YES”. Today I finally get to tell you about a major "yes" in our lives... one that was made possible because He first said "no". This is the story of an answered prayer, not in my time... but His. It is a reminder that He often works in delayed dreams. And for you to really understand the miracle... I have to go where Paul Harvey spent so much of his time... telling "the rest of the story"...

When Jim and I moved into our cute little starter home in Edwardsport, we only planned to be here until we started having kids. Unfortunately, we were young and dumb, and we didn’t guard our credit like we needed to in order to make that happen.

[BIG mistakes were made]

And so, in 2006 during one of Kathy Stephen’s Bible Studies she handed out little notecards on which she asked us to write our list of “impossible” situations… and to take those situations to a God for whom nothing is impossible.  I hesitated to even write it… because the reason for the “impossibility” was of my own making… yet there at the very bottom of the card I finally wrote “a bigger house”. It’s not that I wanted square footage or room to entertain… my heart just wanted to give Tali and Zachary their own rooms.

For three years that card rode around in my Bible, and when I saw it, I would take that impossible situation back to God. 

And then we saw it. The House on Morgan Road. [all capitalized, because that is the position it took in my heart]. It was empty, a foreclosure, stripped of everything that could be removed from the home… but bigger. And perfect. And… an answer to prayer.

I set off to the courthouse to get information, which led me to the Sherriff's Dept. I was given the name of the attorney who handled the foreclosure and the warning that they may not be able to give me any information. Each step of the way my prayer was the same... "God if this is not your will, please close the door".

I had been telling Jim that we should go walk around the house seven times with his shofar, praying all Jericho-style, asking God to deliver it over into our hands. He thought I was a little nuts [nothing new], but had seen God answer my crazy prayers enough that he would pull in and walk around the house once every time we drove by. After getting the number of the law firm and making a call to them, I decided today was the day for The Official March.

Stomping through weeds as high as my knees I trekked the uneven ground around The House on Morgan Road seven times. “God, you are a good God! And you are a faithful God! And if you want to, if this is YOUR will, you can make this house ours! YOU CAN DO THAT GOD, and I know you don’t do these kind of miracles for the sake of the miracle, but so that YOU will be glorified… God I just ask that if you are going to do this, you will keep the door open. But if this is outside your will that you will shut the door…”

At some point in my prayer I laid out the fleece“God, if this is your will, would you cause that attorney to call me back as soon as I finish my seventh lap around the house?” It seemed ridiculous, but I’m the kind of follower that asks for ridiculous confirmations.

As I started my seventh trip around the house, I wished quietly that I had that shofar… and then in the distance a train horn blew. Every detail.

I finished in the front of the house.

I pulled out my phone and looked at it.

Nothing.

I sank to my knees in the front lawn.

I poured out all of my requests and dreams and desires to Him.

Still no call.

Deciding that it WAS ridiculous to ask God to do that, I got in my car, and pulling out of the driveway I aimed my car toward home.

And then it rang.

The moment all four tires were on the pavement, the attorney called me.

I was totally blown away. I am one to ask for ridiculous confirmations, but am still shocked when HE provides them!

Talking to the attorney, I was given the name of a contact person within the mortgage company that had possession of the house. I learned it was a home purchased with an FHA loan, which caused all sorts of complications with the purchase of it, and that I would have to work directly with them. Another phone call was made.

Another ridiculous request put before God.

“God, please don’t be angry with me… but I need to know you want us to pursue this… if you do… would you please have the mortgage company call me back while I’m waiting to pick the kids up from school?”


And then, at 3:05, sitting in my car outside the kid’s school…

The phone rang.

I can’t make this stuff up.

I learned that because the house was insured by the FHA, the purchase would be tangled up for a while. I was given an email address and told to keep in touch, but that it could take a while. God had confirmed it, and so we waited. 

The next Sunday in church, Seth preached on Luke 1:37. For nothing is impossible with God. The small notation in my Bible says “House on Morgan Rd-11/29/09”. 

A week later while case managing, I noticed yard signs everywhere with this same scripture. “Nothing is impossible with God”. Dozens of them.  Overwhelmed, I parked my car and called a friend. And looking up was a literal billboard that said the same. Nothing is impossible with God. 

He was going to do this thing! He was going to give us a house!!!

And we believed.

And we waited.

For a year.

And then, on February 25, 2011 one of my monthly emails came back with the following:

This property was transferred to HUD. Please call 1-800-CALL-FHA for more information.

It was GO TIME. This meant the home would soon be going up for auction. And the Lord had kept the door open this whole time.

We believed.

We dreamed.

We decorated rooms and painted walls and had friends over and cleaned up the yard and lived in that house… all in our minds… for over a year.

And now it was time for God to do what we knew God was going to do.

More investigation, more following up, contacting a local realtor, learning the process… God was so evident in every single detail. 

Then a Saturday morning call from Jim, “we need $3000 today to stay in the running for the house”.  We didn’t have that much cash, and we couldn’t even get to the bank in time to try to work out a loan. Again, "God if you are going to do this thing, keep the door open..."  

Within an hour, that entire amount of money had been secured through the generosity of friends and family. $1000 here and a $100 there. I drove up to our little "starter" home to find my husband, the tough guy, sitting on the front porch in tears. "He is going to do this, Becky!" Monday morning another miracle, and we were able to secure the rest of the bid amount from the bank.

We were blown AWAY.

God was going to do this!

We placed our bid. We signed on the dotted line. And when we doubted our bid on the way home, God took us directly to John 15:7... "if you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you."  We trusted our bid and we left it alone.

What a roller coaster it was… but it was so much fun because we knew it was going to end with us living in The House on Morgan Road.

And then came the no. We didn't win the house. We weren't even close.

And it hurt so bad. Not just because of the no… had I been told no that day I was looking for information, it would have been one thing. Had we not been able to get the initial bid amount together it would have been another. Had someone else bought the home outright from the mortgage company, we would have seen God closing the door. But He took us to the very last step in the process and we believed with everything within us that He was going to do this thing... so much so that it didn't feel like we were being denied something, but that something we already had was being taken from us. 

I would like to tell you that I put on a big faith-filled smile and said "God is so good, He must have a better plan!" or that I embraced the text messages that said "Prasing God for the BETTER thing He has in store!!!" but I did not. I was hurt, and confused, and sad. And Jim was just mad. He had gone from such faith and belief to questioning and doubt in the span of one two letter word.

The next week I wept before the Lord a lot. I had a good old fashioned pity-party. And then I finally asked… “Lord, won’t you help me understand? I understand the ‘no’… but why in the world would you take us all the way through the process just to shut the door?”

And He said to me “I need you and Jim to trust me as much in the ‘no’ as in the ‘yes’”.

And I realized, that had God let us get that house, Jim would have let me put John 15:7 up on the wall. But what would it have meant??? That our faith is strong when God is giving us what we want… but what about when the answer is no? Where is our faith then? Do we trust Him in the “no”? Do we trust Him when His plan does not make sense? Do we trust the path He has us on, even when it turns unexpectedly? God knew my heart's desire for a home... but He knew my greater desire to see my husband and myself grow in our reliance on Him. 

And so the wait resumed.

I told God that if my kids graduated high school and were still sharing a bunk bed, it would be weird, but not the end of the world. And that if my house was never big enough to host another family or two comfortably, that would be okay too. And that if my kitchen was always so small that I could touch the fridge, stove, cabinets, and sink all from standing in the same spot in the center, that would be fine (I don’t really like cooking that much anyway).

But that I still believed He could do it.

Jim and I did walk through several modular homes. We looked online at real estate listings. We looked at ways we could make it happen. But there was never a peace about that path. We even considered ways to add on to this home, wondering if that was God's will instead. But that didn't feel right either. We could have forced the issue, we could have forced our way into a larger house, we could have taken loans we couldn't manage at the time... but He told us to wait. And so we waited.

And then God did something unexpected to all…

Jim’s Aunt, recently widowed for the second time… fell in love.

And she didn’t just fall in love, she fell head over heels in love with an incredible man of God who is just as smitten with her. 

[It’s adorable.]

And soon after falling in love, they were engaged. It was at the family get-together the day of the proposal that Tali asked Aunt Sharon where she was going to live after she got married… what would she do with her house?  

Aunt Sharon answered “Well, I was going to talk to your mom and dad about that, actually”.

[and this, reader, is when my tears start to flow, because God IS so good, and He is able, and His timing is perfect…]

I’m not going to lie, although I love Sharon and know her as my own aunt, and can’t imagine anyone I would trust to their word more than her… my heart had a hard, hard time believing. I told the kids not to tell anyone. I didn’t tell anyone. Even when people asked me about it (because Sharon or family had told them we were moving) I would say something noncommittal like “oh we think so” or “it sure looks that way”.

I had been so hurt by The Last House…  could I risk my heart again?

For months Sharon would talk about us moving into her home. And although I believed, I needed help in my unbelief.

And this last week, I told her that. I told her how hard it was for my heart to believe. How excited the kids were, and that we had even gone out on faith and bought a few decorations for their new rooms, but that I still had this fear of something freakish happening and the whole deal to fall through.

That night she called to let Jim know she had started moving all of her stuff out, so that we could get in. She sent a picture, and in that moment my heart knew…

God was saying “yes” to that prayer from December 2006.

He was answering that impossible situation in the way only HE could orchestrate.

He really is doing this thing.

And so, this last Saturday, we began to pack up fifteen years of living into cardboard boxes.

We are moving.

Can I say that again???

We ARE moving!!!!

To a bigger house with three bedrooms and a full basement and two bathrooms and a human sized kitchen and CLOSETS. Oh glorious CLOSETS.

We are moving!!!

The kids will have their own rooms.  Storage will no longer be in the living room. Our bedroom will no longer house THREE dressers because the kid’s room is too small and the closet space abysmal.  We will be able to go to the bathroom while someone else is showering.

God is so good!

And although His goodness is still hard for me to grasp [confession: I just texted Jim “I wrote a blog about us moving, that’s okay isn’t it? I mean this is REALLY happening right?” and couldn’t bring myself to post without his "go for it" form of reassurance]… He is helping me in my unbelief.

He is helping me see how His timing is perfect.  How Jim and I just completed Financial Peace University [btw Dave Ramsey approves of the kind of arrangements that will be made in the purchase of this home ;)], and have already made great strides in the path to financial freedom… how we are ready for the commitment a new home now. How we used that money secured for The Other House to put a new roof on our house, making it rentable or sellable.  How the school corporation consolidated last year, so that the kids won’t have to change schools now with the move. How family moving into her home bring a measure of peace to Sharon.

How He had a plan all along. How He knew what He was doing… taking us down that path and teaching Jim and I to trust Him in the no. How His ultimate goal is not about a house… but about making us mature and complete in Him… and that each step along this way has refined and grown us, individually and as a couple.  That even this yes is growing us. Teaching us to trust God’s will more than the good thing, but at the same time learning that as a good Daddy, He does like to give good gifts to His children. And that even though we don’t deserve it…  He loves us enough to do this for us.

In the same way that He loved Sharon and Myron both enough to give them each other.

His plan is so intricately woven, such a beautiful design… it’s hard to imagine what it will look like when we peer back over the tapestry of our lives in His presence.

The next weeks will be a flurry of cardboard boxes and trash bags. There are things in this home that I have not laid eyes on in a decade, I am sure (once you make your way to the top of my closet, you stay there). It will be bittersweet at times… Tali’s first steps were in my bedroom. Zach’s first bath on my kitchen table. We watched 9/11 unfold over and over in replays from this living room. Friends and family who have crashed on couches. Christmases and birthdays and brand new babies home from the hospital. Dinners served for friends out of that tiny little kitchen.  A pet cemetery in the side yard marks pups and cats gone by. Fifteen years of living. Of pictures. Of memories.

But oh, how I look forward to the next chapter.  How thankful I am for His grace and mercy and love… How thankful I am that HE made a way, where there appeared to be none. 

And finally I can say how thankful I am for the "no", the "no" that made this "yes" possible...

Thank you, to those of you who have walked with us on this path. You have prayed for us, supported us, and comforted us when the answer was no. Thank you, Sharon and Myron, for your generosity and desire to make this house work out for us. You are a blessing to our lives and we are so, so happy for you guys and thankful to be a part of your lives. Thank you, to my husband who has been patient with me as I allowed my heart to believe this is really happening, and for waiting to pack until I was ready. And most of all, thank you Jesus... for hearing all of those prayers for years... and answering them in just the right way, at just the right time.




3 comments:

Hillary Talley said...

YOU GUYS could not possibly deserve this more. All those years of living in your tiny house have made you a closer family and now it's time to spread your wings. God.rewards the faithful and true. <3

Anonymous said...

Again, you leave me in tears and full of joy. I am so happy for you and the family - you have been so faithful and He has now provided...Can't wait to see pics of your new home!!

Crystal Kemp said...

What an inspirational story. So happy for you all. Gods timing really is perfect. Lord you get all the praise and glory.