If you have ever sold a home you might be familiar with the stress that comes with getting it ‘show ready’. It’s likely you understand the invasion of strangers parade through your personal sanctuary at a moment’s notice. You’ve probably experienced the chaos of having to keep the house looking like a museum while trying to maintain a normal routine with kids and pets. You’ve no doubt witnessed countless lightbulbs pop needing to be changed minutes before a showing. You may have even felt your chest tighten when the HVAC suddenly stops working and the hot water heater needs to be replaced. Sometimes you even get to pay for a new roof because of hail damage your homeowners insurance claim was denied even though your neighbors filed claims and got insurance to pay for their new roofs. If this has not been your experience, bless the Lord and check on your friends whose homes are for sale. Trust me, they are not ok.
Our house in Iowa was on the market for almost two years before it sold. At first our plan was to sell the house and buy some land out in the country. My man had dreams of enough acreage to have his own shooting range. Apparently his dream was a lot like a John Wayne movie because he also wanted a horse. My dreams were more about not having neighbors who hated our chocolate lab. I dreamed of looking out my kitchen window without seeing dog haters in their hot tub. Let’s just say I needed to see less of them in every possible way.
After a year of our house being on the market our desire to buy land in Iowa completely vanished but we still felt like we were supposed to sell. We resolved to press on praying and showing, showing and praying. I soothed my anxiety with coffee ice cream topped with hot fudge and peanut butter.
I prayed bold prayers any time I saw a ‘For Sale’ sign in someone’s yard. I watched as similar homes in our neighborhood sold before ours. I thanked God for answering other people’s prayers while secretly wondering if my own desperation even mattered to him.
Then one day it happened and we accepted an offer Memorial Day weekend of 2014 with a closing scheduled right around July 4th. Glory hallelujah! The hard part was over!
Please excuse me while I take a moment to laugh at my naive sense of reality at this moment in time. Ice cream sounds really good right now.
The next step was finding a rental for our family of four to live in while waiting to find our forever home. My full time role as For Sale by Owner realtor/wife/homeschool mom switched overnight to stalking Craigslist rentals and filling boxes. We had no clue how difficult it would be to find a house to rent with minimum requests like a dishwasher and allow our dog for less than what a kidney costs on the black market.
In the 10 years we lived in our house we never had water in our basement until days prior to handing over the keys to the new owners. A powerful midwestern storm rolled through on a Tuesday knocking out power which caused the sump pump to stop working. My husband and our teenage sons bailed water making barriers out of every towel in the linen closets to keep water from getting on the carpet. During the storm we also discovered cracks in the basement wall leaking water which meant more emergency repairs.
We were just people trying to do what we felt like God had impressed upon us to do. Why was this so dang hard? It felt like we were living in some kind of Old Testament story that had gone way off track and our mess was some kind of punishment.
Closing day came and went. We signed and dated every line. I cried all the way home holding the cashiers check in my hands. We still didn’t have a rental secured and the new owners would be taking the keys whether we had a place to live or not.
Our church friends arrived early the next morning to begin hauling our belongings out of the house and onto the moving truck. Everything we owned with the exception of two freezers filled with our year’s supply of farm fresh beef and pork would be transferred to a couple of storage units while we kept looking for a house to rent. Our dear friend and hair stylist offered to store the freezers in her basement. It’s safe to say you find out who your friends are when they help carry deep freezers down narrow basement steps on their day off.
Strong bodies helped empty the rooms of our home while I worked on trying to find a place for our family to stay. I searched fervently for hotels willing to allow our dog Mocha to stay with us. Due to a busy July 4th holiday there was only one hotel willing to accommodate the four of us plus allow a dog for one night. We would be back to square one again the next day. At that point I just needed to be able to tell my husband we would have bed to sleep in after the moving was done.
Our 14 year old son Markus had been hauling boxes and furniture all day when he found me a few minutes after booking the hotel.
“Hey Mom, where are we sleeping tonight?”
I answered, “I got us a room over at the Residence Inn.”
“Oh good. I was starting to get worried.”
Just like that he was off to haul more boxes. I stood there dumbfounded. What did he mean he was starting to get worried? I felt like I had been living, eating, and breathing enough worry to land me in the psych ward for months. The weight of not yet having the next house was crushing my husband and me, but not our son. He wasn’t worried until that day?
Holy Spirit stopped me in my tracks and made a big deal out of Markus’ oblivion in a way I have never forgotten.
Markus had never experienced one moment in his life when he hadn’t had a place to sleep or food to eat. He had no reason to question his basic needs would be met because he had only known the security provided by his parents. Markus wasn’t worried because he trusted us. His innocence allowed a kind of naïveté that insulated him from anxiety and fear. As parents we didn’t have that luxury, but he did. In that moment I realized how much I doubted the goodness of God towards me.
I wondered what it would be like to believe God the way my kid believes me. What if I could trust that his love and provision for me goes beyond my present circumstances? What would it look like to live like a daughter secure in her Father’s love?
It just might change everything.
This is an area where I am still growing. I have to focus on the faithfulness of God, on HIS track record because mine is filled with countless missed opportunities and unbelief. It helps me to think of God’s love like layers of bubble wrap all around insulating me from the chaos bumping and swirling. It doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen, but it does mean I will be ok even if they do.
I wish I could tell you that we found a rental the very next day. We did not. We ended up being homeless for about six weeks. During that time we stayed with my husband’s mama in her tiny one bedroom senior apartment with a five gallon water heater. I hung out at the laundromat and kept looking for rentals. The boys spent their summer detasseling corn and hanging out with friend’s as much as possible. We took road trips and tried to make the best of it. Our faithful dog Mocha never stopped believing it would all work out. It was completely crazy and I wouldn’t do it again, but I also wouldn’t trade what we learned for all the money in the world.
This I know for sure: God was for us even when we couldn’t see how he was working. God is still for us.
Friend, God is for you. He loves you. He has provision for you. It might not look like anything you imagined, but the one who has loved you from the very foundations of the earth has everything you need for every circumstance you are facing right at this very moment.
Watch for him to meet you exactly where you are today. Cry out to him. Confess your doubt and fears. He already knows, so just lay it down. Let him have all that is weighing you down and keeping you from embracing the truth of his love. Let it go. You might need to let it go all over again and that’s ok.
He is for you.
Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.—Matthew 6:34 The Passion Translation