Ever since I was a little girl, I have dreamed of owning a home. I dreamed of a big yellow house with cute shutters, a big porch, and a white swing where I would sit in the evenings with my husband and children. And of course the house would be located on lots of land.
As I got older, I quickly realized how damaging the game of M.A.S.H. had actually been. I had accepted and clung to this false reality that I would be able to get married and own a home right away. I mean come on! When you play M.A.S.H. you get a nice house, a nice car and the guy you’ve always dreamed of marrying (I am seriously hoping right now that I am not the only girl who has ever played this silly teenage game. Ha.). I just knew it was real and would have to come true. In my defense, I was 7…okay maybe 12. Yikes.
My husband and I have been married for almost 5 years. We have lived in two different towns and four different places (five if you count the time in between our transition). Each time we moved apartments we ended up in an even smaller place. I remember thinking back then how much happier I would be if only we lived in a big house where our windows could actually be opened. It was naïve thinking of course, but I’m just being honest.
Last year, I read the book, “Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson. Every single person I knew had already read this book a year or so earlier so I figured I should catch up. Little did I know this book would challenge me and change our lives.
A year before reading this book, my husband and I felt God calling us to stay in Henderson, Kentucky for a while. We didn’t know what that looked like or meant but we both knew we were supposed to stay grounded here for some time. This was a big deal for me because I’ve never really felt settled anywhere I’ve ever been. I get restless. After coming to this conclusion we decided we were going to start looking for a house to buy. However, after looking for a few months, we quickly realized that in order to stay in our budget we would not get the dream home or even close to the kind of house we had hoped for. After months of disappointments—whether it was not being able to find the right house in our budget or getting some huge “no’s” when we would make an offer—we quit looking and just thought maybe this was God’s way of telling us no. I was disappointed and frustrated but I decided to give it a rest. Then, I picked up the book.
The whole book is about circling your prayers, standing on the things you’re asking God to do in your life, and praying BIG prayers. As I read this book, my faith started increasing. The miraculous things that happened to Mark Batterson and his church began to inspire me. Then, one day I read a chapter on “faith promises”. My husband and I have always given to missions and we have always had a faith promise. The last one we made, we felt was a good amount and that it was stretching us. However, I had never personally prayed about a faith promise or asked God what HE wanted us to give, I’ve always just kind of played it safe and did what I thought we could or left it to Charles to decide. This time I felt would be no different. Until I landed in that chapter. The craziest thing is, I found myself in the chapter about faith promises exactly one week before our annual missions convention…the one where we make our faith promises for the next six months.
As I began reading this chapter, I felt my spirit turning and stirring. I knew God was doing something in me but at the time, I didn’t realize exactly what it was. All week I began to pray to God about what was going on. Three days before the convention, I felt like God wanted me to increase our giving from the previous six months (which still was a good amount). I thought, okay we can do that. The next day, I felt like God was asking me to “double” the amount we previously gave. This is where my heart started beating really fast and I started getting nervous. Surely, God knew our finances and knew this was not smart with a baby on the way and with us just purchasing a vehicle that required monthly payments…but still I felt the stirring in my heart.
I should pause right here and say that I was sharing none of this with Charles at the time because I still hadn’t made up my mind that I had really heard from God.
The next day, which was a day before the convention, I felt God give me a specific number, I felt like God wanted us to give exactly how much we were paying on our car payment. I was almost certain at this point that’s what He wanted, but again I was afraid I might just be making it up and it might not actually be God. Our budget could not handle me being wrong. So I said, “Okay God, if this is what you want me to give then you need to confirm it through Charles."
Again, I said nothing to Charles about any of this.
The next day after the speaker finished, we went to fill out our faith promise. I let Charles do it. He handed me the paper and showed me the amount. It was maybe $25.00 more than we had given the previous six months. I almost nodded my head and said yes that would be fine, but I felt that same nudging in my Spirit, so I quietly folded the paper up to put in my purse to take home and discuss with him later. Before I could even put it in my purse he sent me a text (yes, while we were sitting next to each other) that said, “I feel like God wants us to give exactly our car payment, can we do that?”
I began to tear up.
I quickly explained that God had told me the same thing the day before and that I was just waiting for him to confirm it. As we left that night, I felt more obedient, more faithful than I ever had after writing down a faith promise. I knew this faith promise would stretch us beyond our comfort zone and would add an extra payment each month that we really couldn’t afford, but I also knew God was asking us to do it. Little did I know how God would bless us through it.
A month later, through an amazing series of blessings, we bought a house. The crazy thing is, we weren’t even looking! I should also mention we saw the house, did all the paperwork (without a realtor even though we had no idea what we were doing), and closed all in one month’s time. And, here’s the amazing part: when we bought the house we said we would pay the asking price. The house had not been appraised yet so we just assumed we were paying the value of it (we went blindly into this). This meant we would not have any equity.
Later, our loan officer called us and said, “Are you sitting down?” To which my husband replied, “Yes, sir.” Our loan officer then proceeded to tell my husband that the house appraisal just came back and the house was appraised for $7,000 more than what we had agreed to pay for it! The loan officer said, “This never happens, I’m so happy for you guys. I don’t know how you did it, but congrats.” My husband and I both cried a little and then praised God. At the time, we were living in a two bedroom duplex that was about 900 square feet. The house we bought has five bedrooms and is almost 1,900 square feet! Our mortgage (including home owner’s insurance and taxes) is exactly the same amount we were paying for our duplex.
Because, this house was clearly a God thing. There’s no denying it, from the very start. But something happened when we moved in. This house, that I fell in love with and had waited a while to have, began to have a few issues that bugged me. One day, I found myself frustrated. I started complaining about the water issues, the sink sprayer that broke immediately, the loud gurgling noises coming from our drains, the smoke detector that wouldn’t quit beeping, the loud pipe outside our bedroom wall that kept me up at night, and the smell of the whole place.
And then it hit me.
I was being just like the Israelites. God had blessed us with a house that we did not deserve. A house that was above anything we could’ve gotten on our own. A house that was more than we could’ve dreamed of. And here I was complaining not even a month into it. I used to wonder how the Israelites, after all God had done for them, could go on complaining. How could they go back to their “idols” time and time again? Now I understood. I had forgotten the blessing God had given us. I was too busy looking at things that bothered me to remember the things He had done for us.
I do this a lot. I look at all the wrong things, the things I don’t have or the things I think I should have. I forget where God has brought me from, what He has done and instead I grumble about where I am. This past year alone I cannot even tell you how many times God has financially blessed us exactly when we needed it. There have been so many times someone has walked up to us with a card and money and it was exactly what we needed for some unexpected expense. There have been numerous times throughout this year that my husband and I have both cried as God has used other people to send us the exact amounts of our needs. Those people had no idea that we were struggling (P.S. If that’s you reading this, thank you, you have increased our faith in God more than you know, and you have made us feel so loved).
God has shown himself faithful in our lives so many times, and even more so this past year. And I still questioned Him. I was not expecting this post to be about this, but here it is. There’s someone who is reading this who needs to hear that God is faithful, He is Good, He is so loving, and He wants us to FLOURISH. Remember what He has blessed you with. When it gets hard, when you feel down, and when you think all hope is gone remember what He has done for you. Remember where He has brought you from, and don’t let anyone or anything stand in the way of where He is wanting to take you. Including yourself.