When I was a kid, my dad used to encourage us to work on a “faith project.” Faith, he explained, is a little like a muscle — we are all given a measure, but how strong it is depends on how much we exercise it. Jason and I have been working through our own faith project for a long time now, and we are so excited to share the results with our family and friends. As usual, I can’t tell any story the short way, so I’ve broken it up into three installments. I hope that it serves as an encouragement — because this has been a life-changing process for the two of us!
A little over a year ago, Jason and I decided, after much discussion and prayer, to put our home on the market. This was a crazy decision for many reasons. Houses simply weren’t selling, especially not old historic houses with gaping holes in the dining room ceiling. We also had a foreclosure on our record as a result of the entire 2008 economic crash. But we stuck a For Sale By Owner sign in the front yard anyway and waited to see what would happen.
It didn’t take long. The very next Sunday, driving around the county, we saw it. Off the highway, across a creek, surrounded by woods — a little brick house with the prettiest yard ever. And a For Sale sign in front of it. We stopped and took down the number, which I called the next day.
The lady who answered the phone was pleasant. “What do you want to know about the house?” she asked. I had my pen poised over a Post-It note, and I started with the most important question. “How much is it?” She hesitated and then said, “I’m asking $500,000.” I dropped my pen, disappointed. “Oh,” I said, “That’s a little too much for us, but thanks anyway.”
I started to hang up, but she stopped me. “Wait, wait,” she said, “Let me tell you a little about it. This was my mother’s house, the one I grew up in. The price is so high because it’s got 39 acres of land attached to it. And it’s a large house, bigger than it looks from the road.”
“A big house would be great — we’ve got four kids,” I said, “But $500,000 is way out of our price range.” The lady didn’t seem to think that mattered. She just kept talking, giving me the square footage, number of rooms, acreage — and so I picked up my pen and wrote it all down. Somehow, by the end of the conversation, we had an appointment to come see the house the next day. “Just for fun,” I said to Jason, and he said, “Why not?”
The next evening, we pulled up the long driveway , and the kids piled out of the van, chattering excitedly. “This is so pretty, Mom!” Alyssa said. Her artist’s eyes had already picked out the beautifully landscaped driveway, the cute bridges over the creek, the tiered green hills behind the house.
The owner stood waiting for us. She looked pleased to see the kids. “Mother raised seven children in this house — three of her own and four foster children,” she said, ” I’ve always hoped a family with children would buy it.” As she showed us each room, she told story after story about her happy childhood spent in the house. I noticed a brass plate on the back door inscribed with a scripture — As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Perfect.
We stood outside afterward, talking, reluctant to leave. The stars had come out, bright and clear. Jason and I both felt something special had just happened. This place was meant to be our home — we knew it.
But still, there was that problem of money. Finally Jason sighed and got down to business. “This is an awesome place,” he said, ” but there’s really no way we can afford it. Even if you divided the house from the rest of the property, it would still be out of our price range.”
Her response completely surprised us. “I understand,” she said. “But don’t give me a definite answer until you go home and pray about it. I have prayed for two things concerning this house — that God would send a family with children, and that they would be Christians. So go home and ask God what He says, and I’ll do the same. We’ll talk later.”
That night, hope sprang up inside us, that crazy, sparkly hope that comes from God. We knew that in the natural way of things, that piece of property was out of our reach — completely impossible for us to attain, no matter what we did. Could we even hope for such a thing?
We went home and asked Him. And guess what?
He said yes.
To be Continued…