Monday, April 22, 2013

A Promise Fulfilled

A Promise Fulfilled

A dream:

What seems simple to some, impossible to others, expected to many, is a dream come true for me. For years I have wished for a home to call my own, a house where I could hang my hat and call my own. This wish evaded me time and time again. Around four years ago, after thirty years of wishing, I was determined to bring resolution to this desire. The time seemed right and ripe. Economics were in my favor. I committed my wish to God for the hundredth time and started actively searching for a home.  Time seemed of the essence with home selling prices in the affordable range and interest rates at record lows.  I can do this! Knowing I was closing in on the end of my teaching career made this desire for home acquisition all the more timely.  I began my pursuit by looking at websites and in real estate publications.

The home-buying pursuit:

The first house that caught my eye as I looked in a local real estate publication, was quick to grab my heart and dreams. Taking my son and daughter with me, I went for a thirty minute country drive to see it for a drive-by. Big, spacious, 70s era, large front windows, everything about it said, “Welcome stranger!” I absolutely loved it.  A country home on 2.5 acres not far from Black Butte Lake, views to the east and west, a place for a fire pit, a yard for entertaining with an array of wild plants framing the yard, I even saw a few deer in the field next to it. I called a real estate agent, a woman who had helped me look for a house twenty-something years before; would she look into it for me?  She agreed to do this.  Her findings? The house was no longer on the market after only being shown a couple of days. The seller had changed her mind. It was a family home, her husband had passed away, she had thought she could move on but found that she really wasn't ready. Rats! It would not be for sale after all. It had seemed so right! Over the course of the next three years, from time after time I would drive by the house to see if it re-listed, I even went through the house next door to it when it was shown in an Open House. All to no avail. Oh well!

Soon to follow, I found a house on a short-sale in a neighboring berg not far from the orchard I farm. It sat on a lovely piece of property with four acres, the house had a great view and spacious rooms upstairs. It even had an upstairs back porch off the master bedroom, a perfect place to start the day with a cup of coffee in hand. And to top it off, it boasted a floor tile with a picture of a cross and a few other religious icons on various tiles in the dining area. My daughter was already planning her room decor and arranging a music room for her musical interests. After submitting a reasonable offer, I started doing some background research on the property. My father wondered if it might be subject to flooding, a common occurrence in some parts of that area. A Red flag appeared. The end result, I found out the property was located in a flood zone, undisclosed information.  Nope, that wouldn’t do.  Not only would it be more expensive to insure, but I’d already had my turn living where it floods and know it’s not for me.  I withdrew my offer.

Next, came a nice-sized two-story house on one acre in a neighboring county across the river.  This one in a town not far from my parents; living closer to them a big consideration in my planning since they are in their aging years. The upstairs provided a perfect set-up for a writer. I loved its yard and upstairs, its numerous rooms. I could picture my grandchildren coming for long visits and having a great time playing in the house and out in the yard. But as my real estate agent and I walked through the house, I found it awkward viewing the closets and bedrooms. The owners seemed suspicious, following our every step in close proximity at all times as we walked room to room.  This was true for the first and follow-up visits. I noticed a shrine in the garage. I'd not seen that before. It was a nice home, one I could picture enjoying and living in. I asked God to lead me to do the right thing. One major difficulty presented itself, the house value was over-priced, not realistic considering the current market. A lower offer was submitted by me.  The owner's reply showed that the negotiating price was too high for my taste. I would not meet their price. It was disappointing but not devastating. I always look for a sense of peace within myself. I was at peace that I should let it go. Too rich for my blood.

Next one. It was beautiful; 4.5 acres of country living; cute house, fruit trees, a large well-groomed yard, a water fountain that sparkled with freshness, and an open field with a ditch dividing the property to bring water to the pasture land. The property was getting a lot of attention. A full-asking price offer was accepted and the deal seemed good.  The euphoria lasted about one week.  I was curious about the pasture land and the manner of water being delivered to the pasture land and wondered how it worked. My real estate agent tenaciously went after it.  The information was difficult to ferret out but she persisted. The findings? Not only was there no water outlet from the ditch to the property---water would have to come from a neighboring property outlet, she also uncovered another unsettling fact, there was no legal access to the back section on the other side of the ditch, the existing bridge of planks being used for access was technically an illegal structure (though neighbors were using it). This crude bridge could be removed at any time which would mean that access to the property would not be possible from the house side. Another bridge could not be built. I hadn’t bargained on this piece of bad news.  It appeared that the land was land-locked although one could pass on neighbor's property from another road. What good is property that has limited access?  Essentially, the acreage was useless, no wonder the price was on the low side! I knew it could be an albatross for me in the future. What to do?  I’d put three thousand down with my offer.  Yet, once again, it didn’t seem right. I had continual unsettled thoughts about it. No, the problems were not going to go away. It wasn't long before I knew I must withdraw my offer.  This could cost me the three grand and I kicked myself for my hasty offer without knowing all the facts. It had seemed too good to be true and it was all that.  My kids were disappointed, they had gotten their hopes up. I was in Colorado when the answer came. The powers-that-be returned my deposit. I was only out three hundred for the house inspection.  Talk about being thankful! Thank you, Jesus.

Three offers and three no-deals. It seemed as if God wasn’t in it. I had looked at many houses, gone out with my agent several times, pursued a course of action, but had run into problems with every step. The cycle of anticipation and then let-down was not fun, it seemed to not be working. I decided to stop looking.  I didn’t want to waste my real estate agent’s time and good faith anymore even though she was upbeat and enthusiastic. I made a vow, no more offers unless I am sure God is in it, but the wishing continued on. I even wrote about it in my Meeting Place journal, what I wanted my future home to be like. You see, for me it wasn’t just about having a place to live, it was about having a place that people can come to find peace and the love of God, a place where I can minister to others and has an ease of use that lends itself for ministry (which is my heart’s desire).

A quote from my book, The Meeting Place~

"I wrote out my dreams for my future home that I hope to purchase in the near future. I tried to put the words together to show exactly what I want in a home that can be used for God’s purposes. This is what I wrote.

My Future Home  (April 2010)

May this home know

Love and peace,

Joy and happiness,

Forgiveness and caring.

May this home be a haven for weary people,

Where laughter is in the walls,

Where problems are brought to Jesus,

Where solutions meet us where we’re at.

May this place be a sanctuary,

A place of healing,

A place of surrender,

A place of renewal and refreshment.

May all who come here find

The peace of God,

The joy of God,

And the love of God."

.  .  .

I gave up and quit looking for a home to buy. I didn’t want to act outside of God’s determined will for me. Then life jumped up and threw me a curve ball. My professional employment as a reading specialist was curtailed and I found myself teaching general education in a fourth grade classroom.  New programs were challenging and many pressures and health stressors were taking a toll on me.  I found myself toying with the idea of working part time, an idea which I pursued with diligence.  The District, in the end, responded with an emphatic, “No!”  During this time I read a book on God’s calling of us, a calling to fulfill a destiny specific to His divine intentional will. It had been coming to a head for a few years, I often wrestled with a sense that God had another something He wanted me to pursue and embrace, to accomplish with my life. After much deliberation, I said, “Yes,” to God, feeling it was time to take the next step of faith.  I gave my notice stating my intentions, to quit my job as a teacher---coming as a shock to my colleagues, there-by receiving a modest retirement pension since I lacked longevity in employment. I had planned to teach at least six more years. The decision was a hard one to make for I felt it would cost me my dream of home ownership. I had never owned my own home. Since my early twenties it had been my dream. Plunk! My heart sank. I decided I would not look back. Throughout the course of the teaching year, I had been in process of self-publishing my first book, a time consuming task.  My book published in the fall. At the same time, I started looking for a duplex to rent instead of a house to buy. Plunk! It was disappointing. My kids expressed their sadness.  More than anything, it was their wish for me to have my own home, they knew my dream since the days when they were youngsters. Due to my living situation, I needed to move. It was long over-due. I found a duplex I liked a lot. But I didn't get it! Why? It had seemed a slam dunk.

Around the same time my book was going to press, I received a letter from the mortgage company I had submitted paperwork to prequalify for a home years before, they wanted to know my intentions, if I was still in the market, and whether to shred my loan documents. Taking my time to respond, I asked them to keep my paperwork until January. I explained that my situation had changed. I was no longer teaching and my income was much less. In a “by-the-way,” I asked if I would still qualify to buy a home, expecting an answer to the negative. The answer was a resounding “Yes,” because I have a part-time job in farming and excellent credit. This was pleasantly surprising! Again, my first response was to pray. I would need God's direction. I didn’t know which direction to pursue. Where does God want me to buy? Nearer my parents or elsewhere? How big of house? What price? My affordability? These questions continuously bothered me. They ran in circles in my brain. I had no peace. One morning during my quiet time with my Lord, I became specific. "Dear Father, please put the house you have for me directly in my path. Make it clear to me that it is the house, the one you have for me, a house I can use for you and will meet my needs. I need your help in this so I don't head a wrong direction. May my next offer on a house be the last one. Thank you, dear Father, I trust you in this." I sensed His presence. The thought came, I have a house for you.

The Answer Comes

It was in the evening a few days later, I was doing my usual walking on the gravel driveway by the old farmhouse where I farm walnuts, when a dominant persistent thought entered into my thinking.  [I want you to] “Buy in C____.  Buy a house that is solid and well-built. It needs to be a place you can rent to a family should you need to rent it in the future. A place where it is safe, in a safe area of town.” These thoughts were quiet and strong. As soon as I thought them a tranquil peace centered in me. I sensed it was from God. I knew the answer. Where and what to look for, the clamoring of my endless questions subsided as the thoughts settled in. Finally, peace and assurance entered in. I knew where I should buy and the price as well.

In a conversation later that same week, I told my mother about my decision to return to the home-buying mode, she knew I had been actively looking for a place to rent. I told her where and what I was looking for now, which was in a different town and county than my original preference. She was surprised. The following Sunday while at lunch with some of her church friends, one lady mentioned to my mother that she would be moving in a couple of months and selling her home.  Mom excitedly called me up.  I asked the when and where questions, later that day I drove through the neighborhood of this woman’s home.  The houses on the quiet street looked like 60s era, which meant I possibly could afford it.  I asked Mother if she could call her friend and see if we could take a look at her house and if my real estate agent could join us.  I already had made plans with my real estate agent to look at some other houses that same day and I wanted to know if I would like the inside of the house or not. It was a go! She said to my mother, "Come on over, even today if you want to!" That very same day, I entered what is now my new home, from where I am writing this blog. The house was immaculate, it was as if she had been expecting us, everything in place and spotless, the woman gracious and charming. The house—well-maintained, nice cabinetry, solidly built, and welcoming. As we chatted, this charming Christian woman told me that her husband and she had raised four children in this lovely home. They were its original owners. This elderly woman had a sense of wit and cheer with a great positive spirit. I liked her, I liked the house. I knew I would look no further if it we could agree on a price and there were no road-blocks to its purchase. A sense of peace and calm made its presence known within me.

We walked out the door to stand by our cars while we talked it over, my agent, my mother, and me. My mother said that she could see me living in the house. She was enthused, saying things like she sensed God was in it. I was thinking to myself, I like this house, a very nice home which will lend itself nicely for entertaining, has ease of maintenance, nice arrangement and style I like, is in a safe and quiet neighborhood, a plus for sure. I hope this one is it! My real estate agent asked me what I thought about the house. I responded, “I like it for many reasons, its lay-out, its birch cabinets, how well it’s been taken care of.  But what I like the most—is that the people who have lived in it love the Lord. It is a house that has known love. That’s like icing on the cake!”  She smiled at me and then said a curious statement.

Look up, Norma,” and she indicated the sky above us. In radiance, a full rainbow arced across the sky just to the east of us. We could see the rainbow’s complete arch.  The Promise. God would be with me. She smiled again, “Do you think it’s a sign?” she said to me. I smiled back. 

Easter Sunday was my first day living in my new home. I love it more each day and can't wait to use it to bless others. I'm not there yet, for most of my furnishings were tired and worn out, but slowly I'm filling the house as I hunt for the right items to make this a home where everyone will feel welcome as they enter its door. My family and friends who have come to stop by and check it out have all said the same thing, "What a perfect house for you and such a lovely yard."  God gave it to me is what I think or say as they express their enthusiasm for my new digs. In June, my kids and grand-children will be coming from Washington, Los Angelos, and Colorado to join me in a house warming and family celebration of the promise that God has fulfilled to me, my new home. I am grateful.

Norma L. Brumbaugh
Author: The Meeting Place: Moments with God at Lookout Point

No comments:

Post a Comment