Exactly three years ago today, our family moved out of the only home we’d ever known.
I remember swinging in the entirely helpless, in-between place where we were actually homeless bums because our old house was sold and our new house was still pending in escrow.
All of our earthly possessions were squeezed into a large storage unit in the middle of town and I held the key sometimes at night, turning it in my palm, wondering if everything fell through – if somebody somewhere sneezed – if maybe we could hold a garage sale and live in the storage unit ourselves.
Webster defines ‘miracle’ as an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs. Google calls it ‘a highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment that brings very welcome consequences’.
I call it the awesome awareness that God takes a personal interest in our lives. If God wanted us to move or not move, He could accomplish it any way He chose. But what He really cares about, is whether we want to walk humbly with Him, not the other way around, regardless of ‘very welcome consequences’.
It makes swinging in those helpless, in-between places feel secure.
And sometimes things happen that are neither probable nor ordinary.
- Buying our new house was contingent upon selling our current one. The owners of the house we were buying were also going into escrow on their next home, which was also contingent on selling theirs to us.
- All three house sales were resting in the hands of a single realtor. Call her Julie.
- Julie had been working with the owners of the house we wanted to buy. The elderly retired doctor and his wife were in no hurry to move and wanted a significant price for their nest egg. The house went on and off the market for over a year before we noticed the sign in the front yard. And when they saw us looking at it, they took it down again.
- We thought perhaps this wasn’t the house we were supposed to buy. So we went looking around at other houses, just in case. All the other houses immediately went off the market and stayed there. Those left over were quite obviously not our next home. See point #11 for that thought process. Over and over, we kept winding up back at the doctor’s front door.
- We schmoozed Julie and wooed the good doctor for an entire school year. Kid number four was about to enter high school. If this house fell through, we were going to call everything off and stay put until the last kids had graduated.
- On the other hand, we had entered kid number four’s name into a lottery for the brand new high school being built across town. The one right by the house we wanted to buy. The school that, miraculously, pulled his name for fall enrollment. He was in. We weren’t.
- We went to town on our current house. I reduced our worldly possessions by two-thirds. If we didn’t absolutely need it, it was donated. I packed what I thought was and slowly the garage filled with packed, marked moving boxes. We painted, we cleaned, we prepped. Because when you ask for miracles, you create a space for them to occur.
- When the good doctor was finally ready to negotiate, he accepted our offer. This was not the price he wanted. But it was the price we needed. He wanted to stay in the house after escrow closed, for another two weeks to comfortably move into his new one. This was not the time we wanted. But it was the time he needed.
- We had exactly forty days from putting a sign in our front yard, to sell our house. Forty.
- Julie was a little taken aback with my enthusiasm. I insisted she could throw open houses every day if she wanted. What was left standing in my house took five minutes to tidy. I sat in my car, parked on the street, reading, while she showed yet another family around my home. I put out fresh flowers and baked pumpkin pies. I tried to stay out of her way.
- But. The family who ended up buying the house came to my door on night thirty-five, as I was dashing out for the evening. I invited them to look into every corner they wanted to, and left. Perhaps it was the honesty combined with the “my house is your house” attitude. But really, I’ve always been like that, so if they felt welcome, maybe that’s how you know you’re finally…home. On day thirty-nine, we were in escrow.
- Paperwork. You would not believe how much. Monopoly money flying. Just short of offering our firstborn, we managed to get approved. Homeowners Insurance in a five star Fire Hazard Zone should not have been possible.
The kids didn’t want to move. They couldn’t understand why I would pack and toss and make them clean for months if, obviously, “we weren’t moving”….
But on the day we stepped into this house, Something in their hearts said “Welcome Home”.
None of us ever looked back.