Sometimes I just sit back and marvel at the workings of the Lord in our lives. Truly I have all things as a testimony that there is a God, that He is very real, and that He cares about us, His children, here upon the earth. (Book of Mormon, Alma 30:41)
So, about a year and a half ago, in April or May, Mr. Hot Stuff and I felt strongly that we were supposed to move. That God wanted us to be serving somewhere else. We felt there was an important work He needed us to do and that we needed to go find it. So we started looking at houses.
It’s a wide world out there and we didn’t really know where to start, but we did have the limitation of Mr. Hot Stuff’s work. We decided that we would stick within a 20 minute commute of his work, which is about what we have now. Certainly, we didn’t want to go farther away than that. After looking at a few houses, we felt that we should focus on the north Springville area. We looked at several houses there, but none of them seemed like they would work for our needs. We found one house that was completely unsuitable for us, on a property that we loved, in a neighborhood that felt really good to us, but no matter how we tried, we just couldn’t figure out how to make the completely unsuitable house suitable to our needs. Also, no matter how we tried, we couldn’t shake the sense this was the neighborhood where we were supposed to be.
We parked the car and got out and walked the entire neighborhood. There was only one other house in the neighborhood for sale, and it was even less suitable for us than the first one we looked at, so we kept walking and looking. The weeks passed and, though we looked at other houses elsewhere, none of them felt right, or really met our needs, and we still couldn’t shake the sense that we were supposed to be in that first neighborhood.
In frustration, we spoke together and decided that we needed to make a more specific and detailed list of what our “dream house” would look like. If we could have any house, anywhere, for any price, what would we want it to have? We had made a rough list before, but we decided to write it down and be specific. At the time, we were also reading a book called The Circle Maker, a book about circling your dreams with prayer, similar to the way Joshua and his army made the walls of Jerico fall. We felt we should do the same with our situation, so we made a new list.
- Not smaller than the house we were currently in.
- A larger open space to feed a crowd of family at holidays or other times.
- A kitchen with space for food preparation by multiple people, and space to keep our appliances.
- A larger open space to sit with family and have Christmas programs or other meetings.
- Space to have company stay.
- An accessory or mother-in-law apartment, where we could help our parents or our married children, if needed.
- A master bedroom and one other on the main floor.
- A rambler-style house that didn’t have a lot of up-and-down stairs. (This is surprisingly difficult to find!)
- A large yard for family fun, or a yard that backed onto a mountainside wilderness, or a yard that backed onto a park.
There were also some dreams I had that didn’t really occur to me to put on the list at the time. You know, those sorts of things so far from your current reality and “needs” that you don’t even put them in the realm of things that will ever really happen, or you just figure they aren’t that important. A couple of mine were:
- A jetted tub. (Sometimes these bones just ache and it would be so nice to soak in a tub big enough for my tall body. Not to mention the bliss of massaging water.
- A yard that doesn’t require a lot of work to maintain. (I know, it conflicts with the “large yard for family fun” on the list above, which is why it didn’t get written on the list.)
We prayed over the list we’d written, telling Heavenly Father that we only were seeking to do His will in this, and that we needed him to open our eyes and find what He wanted for us to do.
We went back to that neighborhood and walked it again. Now there were NO houses there for sale. We walked all around it and even expanded the range a little, which was good. We discovered a park tucked away and surrounded by houses. However, none of the houses in the neighborhood were for sale.
Mr. Hot Stuff kept going back to that neighborhood during his lunch breaks, praying that we could find what Heavenly Father wanted for us. Still no houses were for sale. In the thought that maybe we were mistaken, I continued to look at houses in other parts of town that might be suitable, but met continued disappointment. I was becoming discouraged and frustrated, especially by the amount of time it was taking with nothing to show for it.
Then one day Mr. Hot Stuff took me back to that neighborhood, saying he wanted to show me a house. We arrived there and got out of the car. I looked all around. No “For Sale” signs. Mr. Hot Stuff pointed to a house. “I think this one could be perfect. It might be our house.” He pointed to a beautiful home. “Look, it has a neighborhood walkway right next to it that leads to that little park behind it.” He led me along the walkway toward the park. He pointed to an outside door that led down into the basement. “It might have a basement accessory apartment.” He pointed out that it was a rambler-style house, no tall front steps or signs of being a multi-level home with a gazillion stairs. “The yard’s pretty small,” he said, “but I think it’s big enough we could have a nice garden.”
We walked back out to the street. “You’re right,” I said, “it might be the perfect house. On the other hand, we haven’t seen the inside. We don’t know anything about the layout of the house, or if it has a micro-sized kitchen, or how many bedrooms it has, or the size of the dining area. And there’s one big problem with it that I can see for sure. It’s not for sale.”
“Well yes, but don’t you think it could be the perfect house if it was for sale?”
“Sure, maybe,” I said, “but it’s not for sale.”
Then a memory popped into my brain. Years ago a woman had stopped at our house and handed me her card, saying, “If you are ever interested in selling your home, I’d be interested in buying it.” I knew were weren’t going to be moving anytime soon (for years, actually) and tossed her card in the trash. I told Mr. Hot Stuff, “Well, you could go by during the day sometime and knock on the door ,and leave your card or a note telling them that if they ever decide they want to sell their home, to please contact us, because we’d be interested in buying it.” Mr. Hot Stuff decided to do this, and ended up leaving a note with his business card on their door. They responded with an email or phone call saying, they had no plans to move or sell anytime in the near future. We prayed that if God had something better for them that would require they move, that he would bless them and open up a way for us and we left it at that.
By now, we were near the end of September. I was thoroughly sick of searching for houses, feeling like I was wasting my time. The real estate agent I’d been working with seemed to have evaporated from the planet two months earlier, probably thinking we weren’t serious, or were just too picky. I finally got down on my knees, and said, “Heavenly Father, I’m done. I’ve wasted enough time. I need to get on with my life. I feel like you have important service for me to give, but I’ve worked my hardest and done my best to figure it out and less than nothing is happening. I can’t keep doing this. If you want us to move, you are going to have to practically drop the home and opportunity in our laps. Our lives are so full and busy with the blessings you are giving us, that, while grateful, I can hardly keep up as it is, so I’m just going to leave this part in your hands. But I still want to serve, I feel like there is something important for me to do, so please make use of me. Please show me.”
I started actively looking for ways I could be a better servant to Heavenly Father in small things, and I finally decided that since we hadn’t found a house, it meant that we were just going to stay put. I started considering how I would remodel our current home to meet the changing needs of our family. I did my best to bloom where I was planted. I was called to be the ward (church congregation) Young Women’s Camp Director – a big job that required all of my skills and gave me a whole new understanding of what it meant to trust in the Lord. But I did it with His help, and no one died, and I have looked forward to applying what I learned to camp next year.
Then, Thursday, September 24, almost exactly a year after we quit looking at houses, Mr. Hot Stuff got an email from the people who lived in the one house we saw that might have worked for us, but which had NOT been for sale. Mr. Hot Stuff told me about it the next morning (probably smart, or I wouldn’t have slept much). The letter said:
Hello – I don’t know if you are still looking for a house for sale in the Springville area, it has been a while since you left a note at our home inquiring about whether or not we were interested in selling. At the time we were not, but now our home is on the market as we look at moving to Mapleton. I had forgotten about your note until recently and I just found it in a drawer, so I thought I would let you know.
She gave us the information to see the house listing, then said, “If you did find something, I hope you are enjoying it and that all is well.
Thanks – Eleanor Rabbit (Not her real name)
We were stunned. We felt a sense of urgency attached to this opportunity and called Mr. Hawthorne (name changed), our old real estate agent from over 10 years ago, and made an appointment to see the house as soon as possible, arranging for that same afternoon. As we walked through it, we were amazed to see that it met every single desire we had put on our list, including the two things I had wished for but not even thought to ask for.
We told our agent that we’d talk about it and get back with him. We stood by our car and I said to Mr. Hot Stuff, “I don’t know what we’re waiting for. This is the right house. It won’t last on the market long. I guess we can pray about it if you want to, but I already know my answer. I think we should make an offer.”
He looked at me and said, “You don’t think we should pray about it first?”
I repeated, “I guess if you need that formality, but I already know. I knew the minute you said the house was for sale.”
He said, “Well I know. I just didn’t know if you needed time to pray about it.”
I just said. “We need to make an offer on it now. This is a fair price they’re asking. It’s going to sell fast.”
So we turned around and met Mr. Hawthorne as he was locking the door to leave, and told him we wanted to make an offer. Now. For the full asking price. I think he was pretty stunned at how fast we moved on it. We wrote him a check of 1% of the asking price for earnest money, and asked him to draw up the offer papers for us to sign as soon as possible. Then we went home, hoping and praying that they would accept. Mr. Hot Stuff hurried to the bank to get a letter of pre-approval for the loan to submit with the offer, and the ball was in their court, but we’d asked for them to give us a decision by 8:00 PM that same day.
Mr. Hot Stuff also sent Mrs. E. Rabbit an email saying that, while the house price was on the highest end of our budget, it was a beautiful home and we felt it was a fair asking price, and we hoped that they would accept our offer without us having to get caught up in a bidding war with other buyers. They notified their agent that they would accept our offer
It’s amazing to me that just four days earlier I had been lecturing myself that I needed to stop saying in my head, “when we move…” and start saying, “when we remodel…” For some reason, I hadn’t been able to get that “when we move” thing out of my head since over a year ago when we’d been looking so hard. Maybe all this is why.
I’m so amazed at Heavenly Father’s plans and how much He is in the details of our lives. It really would have been impossible for us to move at any time in the last year; we’ve had so many events happening, and we really needed to be where we are for everything to have worked for all the individuals in our family and to have things come together the way they did.
Arctic Boy entered the Missionary Training Center for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints five days after we made the offer on the house. He got to see it and walk through before he left, so he has some idea of what he will return home to when he finishes his mission. Because we started looking so long ago, this is not a big surprise to our daughter, Meigi, who is on a mission in Panama until next September. God is so good. I feel humbled by the amazing way He has worked in our lives.
We close on the house within the next week or so. When we move will be somewhat dependent on when Rainbow has her baby – our first grandson! Babies get priority, so the moving date is not firm.
I know that people in our current neighborhood will be sad to see us go, and I will miss them dearly, but I think that God has just the right thing worked out for this neighborhood and whoever will move into this house when we are gone. It’s been such a blessing to be here, I almost can’t wait for the people here to teach a new family all the things they’ve taught us during our time here. It’s our turn now to take what we’ve learned, and the vision we’ve captured of what Zion* can be like, and share it with others, or at least work hard to serve. It ends up being the same thing, I think.