I’ve never felt like I was right smack down in the middle of God’s plan as I do right now. He clearly told us when to move and where to move. It wasn’t without bumps or stress, but His plan is clear for us, and that is to use this beautiful, undeserved home for His kingdom.
I haven’t posted two weeks now! So much has happened during this move, I barely even know where to start. Marcello and I were a tornado of packing and cleaning our old house, packing up the PODS until the last minute. And then, of course, after you clean and pack, you have to unpack and clean again! I haven’t even had time to process or think about sharing this amazing experience. Not to mention that when I’m stressed I tend to sink within myself, like turtle in its shell.
As we are getting into a new routine and feeling more at home here, I’m ready to share my thoughts with you. I don’t know how to put these details into a cohesive story form, so I’ll stick with a bulleted list for time sake.
Here is how God moved us (figuratively and literally):
• God prepared my heart years ago that we would find a place with some land and space for parking for Bible studies and gatherings. He later added to that “knowing” that we would have a guest house for Marcello’s parents. More on that here.
• Though perfectly happy at our last house, we knew it was time to move when Marcello’s parents’ visas were suddenly approved. They have to come from Italy within four months of that approval date so there were a lot of decisions to make fast. I was grateful God already prepared my heart so we could act quickly. Is it strange I felt very little emotion leaving? I didn’t shed one tear.
• We had our house listed within a week of finding out, and sold it within three weeks for $50,000 more than we paid a few years ago. I was concerned about putting it on the market over Christmas, but it worked to our advantage as there was less selection in the neighborhood.
• Twice we made an offer on a house with no guest house and a lot of work to be done. And twice they didn’t even respond. It was a clear no. In hindsight I have no idea what we were thinking. There is no way we could have handled all that with kids and in-laws. For the first time in my life I did not beg God to have the house I thought I wanted. I prayed intensely for His will to be done instead.
• Feeling insecure that I had made up my vision from God, I prayed for confirmation that we were on the right track, looking for land and a guest house to be used for hospitality. The very next day our pastor asked us to lead community group at our house. This aligned with the vision He gave me and I was delighted. We didn’t have space or parking to host a large group at our old house.
• My mom saw a house out of our price range. It was perfect for us, too perfect. There was a guest house, paved drive, land, parking, pool, good meeting location. We made a low offer — $65,000 less than asking, and that was after they had just dropped it $30,000. It was all we had and could go no higher.
• While we were nervously waiting for the 24-hour response period, I had the song “Build My Life” in my head. The specific verse I repeated over and over was “I will build my life upon your love it is a firm foundation.” Because that’s what I want more than a beautiful home. The only foundation I want is God, and if He doesn’t want it, I don’t want it. The last song they played at church that Sunday was this very song. Tears streamed down my face because I knew God was telling me I had been heard and He is in charge. And the band also played it another Sunday I was at the peak of my anxiety. And again the day of our first community group. Tears every time.
• When I came home from church I told Marcello that I submit to the Lord’s will. If they countered, we didn’t have more to give. If God said no, it was for our own protection. I submit. Less than 2 minutes later we got a text that they accepted and didn’t counter!
• Knowing it was a stretch for us financially, our Realtor offered a $5,000 rebate from his own profits after closing.
• The guest house was made for my Italian in-laws. I hope, with their permission, that I can share their stories with you at some point in the future. You won’t believe it. But for now I’ll share that they’ve sacrificed significantly financially for years to come here and now they will have a home all their own, above. They’ve never had any space for gardening, my father-in-law’s passion and now there are already prepped garden beds in the back of their house. There is a gas stove in the guest house, but not the main house, and that’s all they’ve ever cooked with (his other passion!). There are many more details, but I absolutely cannot leave off the pizza oven that is outside their house as well! Seriously!
• We had five nights we needed a place to stay between selling our house and buying the new one. I had a friend in mind, but didn’t want to bother her with it. I thought we could ask them for two nights and someone else for a few nights to break it up. When I got the courage to ask her, Emily said, “Kate, we’re gone from the 21-25. You can have the entire house to yourselves!” Tears welled up when I saw God provided shelter for us for the exact days we needed. How kind and merciful our Father is.
• Marcello’s parents need to come to the USA by the end of April. Marcello already had a business trip planned by his company to be in Italy in April so he can fly back with them and help them through immigration! They don’t speak English and Marcello remembers how intimidating it was to sit in a room knowing that the officer has the power to reject the immigration and send you back. Now Marcello can interpret for them and ease their poor nerves and at no cost to us.
• We were told we were in a flood zone and required to pay premium flood insurance. We resisted signing a paper admitting we know we are in a flood zone. The estimate would have bumped our already stretched mortgage up by about $200 a month. I prayed earnestly for this. We got our elevation certificate back at the last minute (I mean last minute) and our annual cost will be $386 for the whole year! It’s even significantly less than we paid at our last house!
• We received notice that we would not be able to close on the 26th as planned. I’m still not sure why. Something to do with two minor things not being permitted, title objections and our law office. Marcello wasn’t having it and told them we would stay in their lobby with our three kids for the days we had to wait! Somehow they got us back on track to close February 26 AND they are going to pay our permit fees because they didn’t tell us during the inspection period. It’s all muddy, but we still get to close on time and they’re paying our fees. Stressful, but good!
• Just when we thought we were in the clear, we got an email saying that because we only owed money to two lenders (mortgage and car) instead of three they were going to up our interest rate by .25 percent. Marcello thought quick and asked if we could use our credit card for a third line of credit. The next day we got word that they accepted it and we can keep our low interest rate! Which by the way no one can believe we got in the first place. God keeps coming to our rescue every step of the way.
• The other house we made an offer on didn’t have space for our massive dining room table that is the epicenter of our house. I should have known that wouldn’t work. This house has ample space and the previous owner left us a large wooden table outside that seats 12!
• God wasted no time setting the tone for what this house will be used for and we had less than a week until we hosted our first Bible study. We used both tables! That was Sunday and tomorrow I’ll host a women’s marriage group. I can’t believe this vision is becoming a reality.
God has shown himself in so many details big and small during this move that I have turned into a needy, spoiled daughter over here! It’s not things I want, but more of Him. God, where is my special verse today? My special song? Who will you put in my path? I’m so expectant that I wonder if He will cut me off, but He doesn’t. He keeps pouring the love and more thoughtful “non-coincidences” on me.
I admit, I’m a little shy of showing this house to you and my friends. It’s something Marcello and I never thought we could or would have. After my oldest saw the house he said “I don’t think we deserve this.” I couldn’t agree more, son, and that’s why we will be grateful and know that this is not ours, but His, and to be used for His glory.
Nine years ago Marcello and I were living in a crappy apartment with brown stuff oozing from the tub and $18,000 of debt on credit cards. I’d love to share how things turned around in another post, but it sums up to honoring God with our money and being determined to use what He alone has given us for His kingdom. We could never have pulled this off ourselves. This is a gift from God that we take seriously.
There are two things I want to mention here. One, I don’t believe everyone is called to stretch themselves with a heavy mortgage. This is our specific calling to caring for family and offering hospitality.
Secondly, this is the third home we have bought and the other two did not have all these special details involved. There were doors that opened and clearly closed, but this one was truly unique. I believe it is because this was His plan for us all along, the vision He gave me, and the other houses were necessary stepping stones. This will probably be our final stop and He made it quite memorable.
If you’re moving and feeling discouraged and anxious, take heart, because He has a plan. One thing I have learned this year is that if you are seeking Jesus with everything you have, then you are in God’s will. His will is not some red dot that you have to find and make sure you stay on it. It’s our character that is His priority.
Sometimes God has a clear plan for us and sometimes He gives us choices in these important decisions. He spoke clearly to my heart once “Child, if I went to all this trouble for free will, wouldn’t I let you have choices?” I’ve heard it compared to a grandmother offering a plate of cookies and scolding you for picking the wrong one. She wouldn’t do that and neither would He.
If you are spending time with Him, aligning your life with His Word, He will open and shut the doors for you. Just don’t forget to pay attention to all His beautiful details along the way.