Sometimes God moves like a quiet, unassuming stream gently rolling down the mountainside. At other times, He works in loud, turbulent life-altering crashes that disrupt and disturb.
He did the latter in us this past week and honestly, I'm feeling quite rattled, as though a tornado has blown through my life and turned everything on its side. It reminds me back to the shock I felt in 2012 when Jameson's birthparents selected us to be his adoptive parents, and then he was born LATER THAT SAME DAY! It was great, exciting news!, but life quickly went into action, with only nine days to adjust to the news and prepare for his arrival into our home!
Well, here we are again, but this time it's not an adoption...
For many years in our quiet moments together, Marc and I have dreamt of living in (or near) our city's downtown. All of the mission trips to Southside Chicago over the years have built a love for the city and its people into our hearts. We knew all signs were probably pointing us there long-term.
But we never dreamed it would be NOW.
What originally started off as an innocent look at craigslist to help our niece & her soon-to-be husband find housing downtown quickly turned into an opportunity to trust God and GO DOWNTOWN ourselves.
Just after we moved to Lynchburg, we saw an old antebellum house in a historic district pop up online that we loved. Though it was so old and rich in history, it had been completely renovated on the interior. We gawked at pictures of it on our back porch with some of our very first RUF students back in 2009. We even drove by the home to see the house itself, but then soon found out it had gone under contract.
Then, a few years later, we found out that a couple in our church was actually renting that same antebellum home! They absolutely loved the place and the accessibility it had to downtown (3 blocks away).
Fast forward to last Tuesday night when Marc saw that same house come up for sale on craigslist, and immediately he approached me about it.
"Umm, there is NO WAY I am moving downtown right now," I told him. I guess it sounded nice as a far-off thing, but it was much different when it became tangible and real. There were (and still are) many fears and worries for me to face as the thought of leaving my beautiful suburban home for a much more urban environment.
Nevertheless, I still agreed to take a look at it. Why not, right? We'd been interested in this house for years. Never harmless to look. (or so I thought...) :)
The house was beautiful. Charming. Historic. I liked it, but for several irrational reasons, I didn't want it. I blamed it on the "flow" of the house not being what I wanted. I blamed it on the smaller size and how much our lifestyle would have to downsize. I blamed it on the lack of storage and the lack of a good view out my kitchen window.
But really, I know I was mostly scared, and hesitant of such change.
Marc asked me to continue to pray and keep the option open. Really, he knew that house was for us all along, but he wanted me to be onboard with it, too. (My personality is naturally much more cautious and less risk-taking, to say the least!) We called the couple in our church that had lived there and discussed the house and the neighborhood with them. We prayed, we deliberated, and we lost a TON of sleep in the process tossing and turning at night.
I had my own demons to battle. Moving to this neighborhood wasn't going to be the white-picket fence, stable middle class neighborhood that I am used to. (You know, the one where we all drive up to our homes and close the garage door before anyone might dare talk to us.) The possibility of leaving what I "know" caused me to start seeing the massive idolatry I carry in my heart. I felt the tension between valuing my own security and sense of stability ahead of going to the places where He wanted me to go.
In our downtowns and cities, problems certainly do abound. But as I looked across that neighborhood, I could see the Kingdom abounding even more than the problems. There was both rich and poor. Black and white. Professionals and unemployed. Old and young.
I saw house after house being renovated and transformed, homeowners working tirelessly to improve and breathe life back into the city, similar to how the Lord restores our own hearts of stone and constructs them into beautiful trophies of his grace.
Directly across the street from the antebellum house, I saw a small park with basketball courts filled with athletic boys and men that look just like my son. I teared up at the thought of giving my son the chance to not always be the brown speck in a huge sea of white.
People were outside, and they were communing together, picnicking together, laughing and sharing their lives.
It was intriguing. A scene for which our hearts have longed. With trepidation I agreed to make a very low offer on the house. If nothing else, let's just get it off of our minds and be done with the thing, I thought. And if it did work out... well then, I'd still be okay, too. :)
You can probably guess what happened next. Piece after piece of the puzzle quickly came together, and within 36 hours later, I had just bought that house.
To be continued...