After a couple of days, I thanked God for the waiting. "I know I need to learn to wait on you. I know I need to let you develop patience in me. So thank you for this opportunity to wait."
Boy does God have a sense of humor. I'd told Him I was thankful for waiting, and my reward was more waiting! The next day, I learned that the sellers wanted to extend the options period for another week. The worst problem with the house was probable foundation damage, and they wanted to know the extent of the repairs before they committed to paying for them. Although it was frustrating not to have a final answer, I was actually relieved because I didn't want to pay $400 more for the appraisal only to find out that they couldn't do the repairs after all.
My Realtor, Kim, scheduled an appointment with a reputable foundation repair company, and I came out to meet them on Monday. I brought my mom and dad along so that they could see the house and give me advice, and I also brought my nephew Ryan along because he was over for a visit. We oohed and ahhed over the house--except for Ryan, who only got a bit excited over the giant turtle/tortoise. It turns out they have two; we'd only seen one on our prior visit.
After touring the house and yard, we sat down in the beautiful, peaceful living room to wait. I relaxed and let the natural light and the view of the lush, green backyard soothe me. The crazy infatuation of my first visit was gone, and in its place was a wonderful sense of belonging. It simply felt like home.
Kim literally clapped her hands when she saw the report. "If there's going to be damage, this is the best case scenario," she said. The entire house was tilted almost an inch, which is pretty modest. The repair would involve drilling down to the bedrock and installing eight piers to lift the low end of the house, which would bring the high end back down. And then all the cracks would come back together "like pieces of a puzzle." The repair came with a lifetime transferrable warranty, and the repair plan included corrections to the drainage system which had caused the original problem.
I heaved a sigh of relief. This was not going to be a $20,000 repair. Surely the sellers would be willing to pay for it, knowing that no one else could buy the house with foundation damage.
The estimate came the next morning: $6300. A lot of money, but not insurmountable. Kim forwarded the estimate on to the sellers' Realtor and told me we could expect an answer in a day or two.
Four long days passed.
All that waiting I love so much really wore on me, but for the most part I rested in the knowledge that God was in control. I prayed continually for the sellers, Christoper and Keely, asking that God would lead them into His will for their family, even if that meant that they would stay in the home.
One evening I had a bout of insomnia, and I got up and prayed for Christopher and Keely. Afterward, I still felt very unsettled. Sleep just wouldn't come. At 1:30 or so, I decided to read the Bible. I'd been reading the book of Hosea, and I wanted to read the next chapter. But as I started to read, I turned instead to the previous chapter. There in the quiet house, God spoke very plainly to me in a verse that had made virtually no impact on me just the day before.
"They will come trembling like birds from Egypt, like doves from Assyria. I will settle them in their homes," declares the LORD. (Hosea 11:11)
In that moment, I saw myself as a trembling bird, afraid to land. I felt God beckoning, felt Him cradle me in His giant hand as He settled me in my home.
All the tension slipped away as I whispered. "You are my home. My home is not a house. Settle me in you!" I crawled back in bed then and slept like a baby.
You would think, after hearing that message and having that sweet time with Jesus, that I would have been well prepared for the devastating news I received two days ago, on Friday. But you would be wrong.
Kim called and explained that the sellers were not able to make the repairs, and the best they could offer was to take a thousand off their asking price--leaving me with the other $5300! For just a moment, I considered that offer. I do have the money, but as a single mother, I don't feel comfortable pulling it from my emergency fund. Nor do I feel comfortable taking on more debt. "I'm going to have to walk away," I said slowly.
After we hung up, I began to weep. It wasn't just a few disappointed tears, it was wrenching grief, the kind of grief I should have felt just the day before when I went to court and saw my divorce become final. I can't explain to you why I was so broken. I can tell you this. It wasn't the house itself, even though I had fallen so hard for it. It was the whole experience, the way I'd heard God's leading so clearly. So had I not heard Him after all? Had I misinterpreted what He said?
Here I was, $429 and 17 days later, back on the market. The two houses that looked pretty nice already had contracts on them. I had no prospects, having just signed my house over to Bill. Understand, Bill is not going to throw us out on the street, but this still feels horribly stressful.
"What am I supposed to do, God?" I wailed, my face against the carpet that was drenched with my tears. "I've never been so sure of hearing your voice. But I was WRONG. I need to hear your voice now, but how can I be sure this time?"
To be honest, all of that angst wasn't what hurt me most. It was those pink flowers, which I'd learned were oleanders. For 16 days I had smiled over those flowers, my very favorites. Each time I felt the pain of loss pierce me, I remembered the extravagance of those flowers and smiled. "My Father loves me," I'd say.
So what of the flowers now? I felt such rejection. My brain knew that God had not rejected me, would never reject me. But my heart felt betrayed, tricked, shattered. I sobbed and sobbed over those flowers for two solid days. Even now my eyes sting at the thought of it.
Yesterday a perfectly acceptable house came on the market, with 200 more square feet, an office for me to work in, and a $5000 lower price tag. Ethan loved it because it had a single room upstairs that could be his bedroom. It was a great house, and I liked it. But I didn't love it. It had none of the items from my original list except a place for my desk and a location near Allyson's school. It also had a tiny living room that wouldn't fit my furniture and was situated on a corner lot on a very steep hill. It would be awful to mow.
Now I'm concerned that no house is going to measure up to that perfect house I wanted. I'm asking God to help me let go of the house and to trust in His plans for us. I'm pressing closer to Him and trusting that as long as I stay close to Him, I can't miss His will.
Last night after midnight I had a sweet time with Him in my beloved prayer closet, which is what I will miss most about this house. "God, I know a house won't bring me joy," I prayed. "What I need is to be where you are. Settle me in my home! You are my home, not a house."
As I crawled into bed, I thanked him for this new phase of my trial. "Please complete the work that you started in me. Keep working on me until I learn everything I need to learn."
This morning, it no longer feels like the world is coming to an end. My Bible study was all about peace, and it reminded me that peace comes through Jesus's authority. His peace rules my heart. The peace He gives is not like what the world gives (John 14:27); it can't be taken from me unless I give it up voluntarily.
I'm glad that I can share this chapter of my story with you. As my Aunt Sue said yesterday, we still don't know how this story is going to end. I do believe God spoke clearly to me when I saw those verses in that house. He does have beautiful plans for me, and I can overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. His plans are so much bigger than a house.