Thursday, November 22, 2007

Life's an adventure...

This isn’t a typical Thanksgiving post… yet thankfulness is a big part of it, prompting me to post what probably should have been posted a week or two ago.

Have you ever felt like the Israelites, wandering around in the desert for years? You just feel like you’re going in circles, with no clear idea of what’s going on in your life and where you’re headed? Have you ever wanted SO much to know where God’s leading you… if He’s leading you at all?

That’s where my husband and I have been for the last two years. Two years ago, right after my mom died, we woke up to a number of facts… we’d been in Florida for nine years… we didn’t really want to finish raising our kids down here where you can’t climb trees or play in the snow or jump in the leaves or hike through the woods… our house was worth triple what we paid for it… and we could probably realize our dream and pay cash for a new home on some land up north. The culmination of all of this led us to decide that it was time to leave Florida. Our plan was to buy 10 acres, build a house, and start a business – all with the money we’d make selling our house. (Notice I said our plan.)

We finished fixing up the last few things on our house, put a “For Sale” sign out, and eagerly started looking for land in the mountains of Pennsylvania. What we didn’t realize, was that the raging real estate market had reached its peak and was about to start plummeting… and that hurricane-ravaged Florida was going to get hit harder by this than it had been by all the hurricanes. We didn’t realize that Charlotte County was going to be hit by this far worse than Hurricane Charley did.

As the days grew into weeks, the weeks turned into months, and the months stretched on and on, we started getting worried. We dropped the price of the house by 10%... we listed it with a Realtor… we dropped the price of the house by another 15%... we found a buyer… that contract fell through… we gave up… we decided to try again with modified plans… we tried By Owner again… we gave up again… we re-listed with another Realtor… we dropped the price again… we gave up again…

To sum it up, we were CONSTANTLY trying to figure out what in the world we were supposed to do. We had already seen how God could bless us with housing that we both need and want. (If you’d like to read the story, it starts in the third paragraph here.) So why was God not doing anything now? Why was He allowing so much of that blessing we thought He’d given us to slip through our fingers? Were we not supposed to move? Maybe we were, but we were being too greedy and wanting more money than we needed. Should we stay? Should we drop the price of the house again and leave, even though we’d get no where near enough money to get the new start that we wanted? Talk about going around and around in circles! But no matter what, God just didn’t seem to be giving us a clear “Go” or “Stay.”

Well three weeks ago, we were in that last “give up” cycle… thinking that if we dropped the price of the house again, we’d be trying to force a door open that God wasn’t opening. That sounds like a good possibility, doesn’t it? I mean, if God wanted us to sell the house, it would have sold by now, right? But then we woke up suddenly to the fact that many people in our town are losing their homes, and we had no guarantee (outside of God) that we wouldn’t end up being one of them at the rate things were going. For the first time, we also thought that maybe we weren’t supposed to move to Pennsylvania… maybe we’d better consider Ohio. My husband’s family is there, and we dearly love them, but we had convinced ourselves that we did NOT want to live in Ohio… until then. But if you’re not going to get much money on your house after all, and you might need to get second jobs to make ends meet, it’s a little easier to do when you’ve got family to help watch your kids and so forth. So we said for the first time, “Maybe we should think about moving to Ohio.”

Two days later we tentatively reached a decision. We would drop the price on the house (again). We would ask God to keep it from selling if He DIDN’T want us to move, but if it DID sell, then we would pretty much go wherever my husband could get a job… aiming for the Ohio/West Virginia area. A price for listing the house popped into both my husband’s mind and mine, so we went with it, hoping that maybe it was God. This price was a 20% drop this time, making our potential profit less than a third of what we once had thought it would be. All we could say was that it would still be far better than nothing.

It was a Wednesday night when we called the Realtor to tell her to drop the price. She said it would definitely sell at this price. We said we'd already heard that four times. Then she said she’d re-list it as a new listing, which basically means that, as far as the market was concerned, we were starting over. As far as WE were concerned… well… we merely prepared to again sit while nothing happened. We didn’t even try to make the house show-worthy.

Thursday the new listing went live.

Six days later we got an offer, they were pre-approved, they didn’t have to sell a house of their own, and they wanted to move in in less than four weeks. (Yes, we did have to do one of those “Oh-my-goodness-someone-wants-to-see-the-house-and-we’ve-got-one-hour-to-
do-two-week’s-worth-of-cleaning” things.)

That night we went to bed in a state of shock. Had we forced God’s hand, or was He finally doing something? Where in the world were we going to go? It’s rather strange to by lying in bed not knowing which state you’ll be sleeping in, in only one month. Our brains worked enough to decide that dh would try to find out what positions elsewhere in the country his company had open. He planned to wait ‘till the next week, though, since the next day was Friday.

The next morning, he went into work to find the district manager there for routine business. He mentioned the move to her and that Mansfield, Ohio, was the nearest city to where his family lived. She didn’t think there was a chance that there’d be a position like his up there.

Three hours later she called him saying that the Ohio district manager desperately wanted someone… for Mansfield.

A mixture of shock, awe, and excitement began surging through us… but the most overwhelming feeling was relief. The wandering was over! God had not forgotten us, and He WAS still leading us. After all, only God can sell a house in six days in a market like this, and make a job hunt successful in three hours!

We feel quite strongly that God had been waiting on us to be willing to move to Ohio. He must have something planned for us there, and we can’t receive it if we’re in Pennsylvania, can we? It’s kind of funny how we’re now excited to move to Ohio, too. All our reasons not to seem to have melted away into nothing.

Since then, we feel like we’re walking with our eyes shut, almost. We both have the most surreal feeling that God is planting each step our feet take, and there’s really no need in trying to look any farther ahead than the next step. What point would there be in doing so? It's not like our plans work out anyway. Besides, God has made it SO plain that He’s got something planned for us there, and He wants to work it out His way. We honestly aren’t having the slightest difficulty not worrying about it… even though we don’t have a guaranteed income amount… even though the profit on our house is far from what WE might think is enough. And THAT is definitely God as well. That peace that passes understanding is definitely surrounding us in a supernatural way. As my dh said the other day, “I can’t wait… not in an impatient way, but in an eager way… to see the house that God is holding for us up there.” I feel the same way.

So all of this brings me to Thanksgiving Day. We are seven days away from moving, and I still have what seems like a million things to do... but I am so grateful to know that God IS leading us. He’s got a plan, and His plans are always good. And while I don’t necessarily say that Ohio is the Promised Land like it was for the Israelites; for us right now, it is. Finally, after all these months of wandering around in what seems like circles, God is clearly leading us forward.

Life's an adventure...
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