This month of November has been a month of gratitude. And I’ve tried to post something I’m grateful for each day on social media. But I knew the most important thing was just making sure I was thankful every day.
As I was thinking about what I was grateful for today, I was sitting out back on my patio, listening to the sweet sound of the windchimes being blown about gently in this fall weather, watching the Blue Jays chase each other as they move together in a pack from tree to tree, and the butterflies that are also enjoying this cooler weather, and the occasional mosquito that somehow decided that still hanging around in November in the middle of the day was okay in Texas. And all of this is exactly what I’m thankful for today. Yes, even that ridiculous mosquito. Although he’s no longer around to bother me.
I’m thankful for this, all of it, because it was an unexpected gift. To have a home with a nice size patio, overlooking a beautifully landscaped waterway with a walking path. To be able to experience this peaceful setting is something I will never take for granted. Especially because I never thought I’d have this. And I can’t even say, “I never thought I’d have this again,” because everything I’ve described is exactly what I would’ve put on my wish list. That is, after I had sold my home that also afforded me a kind of peacefulness. But my wish list went further to include an open space behind me. So open that I could see nothing but trees and sky, and the occasional neighbor walking on the path. Yes, this is a gift God gave me, pure and simple.
I love to tell people how this gift came to be mine. It’s a crazy story. So, I thought I’d share it with you, too. But I don’t tell people just so they’ll know. I tell them, and this is my hope for you, too, so that they will be encouraged to believe in, trust in, lean on, and commit their whole life - all that they need and all that they want - to the God who so deeply loves them and cares very much about the desires of their heart.
Now, let me preface this story by telling you that I’m not saying that there is a formula to “getting what you want”. On the contrary. God knows the heart. And though I do believe there’s something to be said for deferring all that you want to whatever God wants to give you, I don’t think that’ll actually get you what you originally wanted. Sometimes what we want is not what’s best. And, I don’t think you could fool God into believing you’re relenting your desires for His if you truly are not.
Regardless, I want to tell you a story - a crazy story - of how God orchestrated things so specific for me regarding my new house. I mean, there is absolutely no way this could’ve happened without His intervention and His doing. I want to tell you this because I know some of you are looking for a miracle. Some of you need something to happen and you can’t see a way - at all - that it could. Like it’s just not possible. Some of you have dreams and desires that you think are dead, gone, impossible to experience or enjoy in the future. But I want to tell you this story in hopes that it encourages you to never give up. Never give up on God, and to trust all of your heart’s desires to the One who knows best and can do something about it.
After my husband died, I knew that at some point I would want to sell the house and downsize. I knew things would be different and I probably would have to compromise on some things, or even sacrifice. At one point, I had to seriously spend some time coming to grips with the fact that I’d probably have to get rid of the dining table my husband and I created together. It’s quite large and wouldn’t fit into most dining spaces, much less or actually not at all in a condo or apartment. Typically, either there is no dining room, or it’s super small. That dining table is really special to me. Over the years, one-by-one we had found interesting and eclectic antique dining chairs. We would distress and faux paint each one, and then upholster with mismatched but very cool fabrics. That dining set represented so much to me. And the thought of getting rid of it was like facing another death.
Exactly one year after I had put my house on the market to sell, and then took it off, I received a call from a realtor saying she had clients that were interested in buying my house. A cash offer. So, upon the suggestion of a friend, I went into contract with her friend that was a realtor to represent me in selling. We discussed the entire selling process, and I confessed to her my concerns about actually selling and having to find a new place – apartment or rent house, definitely something smaller - because I knew I couldn’t qualify for a loan for a house with the little money I brought in with my job. She said, matter of factly, “I’ve got a lender who can get you qualified. She’ll find a way to do it!” And praise God, she did. She called one day to say, “Tricia, you’re pre-approved. Go find yourself a house.” I literally laughed at her when she said that. Go find a house? Are you kidding? You mean I don’t have to go into an apartment? “Nope, go find yourself a house to buy.”
Now, I hadn’t heard anything from the cash-buyers yet about buying my house. I certainly couldn’t go look for a new house before I sold mine. Ha! And could I really just go out and find myself a house? I totally dismissed that idea as absolutely ridiculous and quite possibly irresponsible.
So, one day I went to a girl’s house that was in the non-profit program I was running. I wasn’t sure the best way to get back home, so I put my home address in my GPS. It took me home through a very large residential development. And I was quite irritated with that, as I much prefer traveling on the highways and major streets. But I found myself admiring the little waterways, and landscaping, and walking trails winding through the neighborhood. One particular area caught my attention because there were houses with wrought iron fences that backed up to a waterway with a fountain, and a winding walking path. As I passed that particular section, I peeked down the street. There were two “For Sale” signs! So, I whipped my car around to take a look. The first house was so interesting – exactly my style. In fact, the whole section looked like little villas. But I got busy and forgot about it.
Several weeks later, I was at the same girl’s house and put my address in GPS to get home, forgetting about the last trip. I was on the phone with my daughter, so I wasn’t paying attention but just following the GPS instructions. But I found myself right back at that house on the waterway and walking path! Still on the market! I hung up with my daughter and whipped my car around, this time taking a really good look. I went home and looked it up on the internet. I loved everything about it. In fact, it looked like a miniature version of the house I was currently in. But sadly, it was out of my price range. Heavy sigh.
Several weeks went by and I went to that same girl’s house again. This time, I put in the address of that house on the rivulet on purpose just to see. It was still on the market, so I rushed home and checked it online again just to torture myself, I guess. Amazingly, they had reduced the price significantly and now it was in my price range. What?!! I made an appointment to look at it the next day and put in a contract two days later. They accepted the offer and I found myself in the throes of buying a house. Everything about this house was perfect for me. It had an open-floorplan and a dining room large enough to hold my enormous dining table Brian and I had built together. In fact, the dining room was bigger than the one in my last house. That’s crazy! This house was also a patio-home, which means a smaller, more manageable yard. And for me, a big selling point was the large, amazing patio and the wrought iron fence that over-looks the waterway, water fountain, rolling landscape, and walking trails. No back neighbors, a small yard, and a big patio. So amazing! Such a gift! This is not just what I wanted, it’s so much more. How did I go from thinking I’d be in a little apartment with little amenities to this house???! It’s so crazy! It’s a real sanctuary! And with a few little aesthetic changes, this house became quickly mine!
The first time I pulled into the garage after closing, I found a dog tag necklace right at the garage door. All by itself. Just sitting there. The dog tag read, “Let go and trust God.” What?! I had no idea where on earth it came from, because the people that lived in the house before were not believers. But there it was. Yet another reminder that God is here; He’s near. Never far away. And because He’s a God who loves to shower abundant blessings on His beloved, He comes in with blessing after blessing, beyond what is necessary. I found this out for myself when I realized that it was God who was directing me to this little gift Himself.
Friend, do you need His intervention in your life, too? Are you looking for a miracle, or for something that really just looks impossible? Do you have dreams and desires that you think are dead and gone? I hope that you are encouraged to never give up. Never give up on God, never give up on trusting your future to Him. Because He cares very much about your dreams and desires, and He loves to delight His beloved.
So today we give thanks “to Him who is able to accomplish abundantly more than we could ever dream or hope or ask, to Him be the glory forever and ever.” (Ephesians 3:20)
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