If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you might know that the Sims family has moved three summers in a row. And you might know that when we move, it can be a monumental mission: it's only us and our stuff, eight kids, a few pets and Grandma, after all. But what I want you to know is how God moved us this time. To this house.
Last fall, just a few months after we arrived in Virginia, the Captain was driving around, praying he could buy me a house (love that man). He felt a nudge to turn down a certain street into a certain neighborhood. He knew at once the houses were just my taste: older homes with a little space around them and lots of trees. "Lord," he prayed as he parked at the end of a cove, "please let me buy a house like this for Margie."
He spotted a certain yellow house--he was parked in front of it, in fact. He thought he felt a nudge to go knock on that bright red door and ask if they wanted to sell their house. Nah.
That was about nine months ago. We talked on and off about buying a house, but we thought it would be smart to launch a few more kids, buy a smaller house and save several thousand dollars--there is a big price difference between a six bedroom house and a four bedroom house.
Spring came and our landlord said he wanted to sell the house we were renting. Were we interested? But the house we were renting was, well, just too much house, even for us: seven bedrooms with too much kitchen for someone who doesn't like to cook (though I do it anyway). And an open floor plan that was far too noisy for a house where 11 people reside.
We started looking for another house to rent. Then the Captain suggested maybe we shouldn't rule out buying. He found a realtor and told me to look on her website and see what I thought. I liked that she mentioned the importance of family on her home page, so we gave her a call. (Here's her link, in case you're in the market for a house in Richmond http://www.vacurealty.com/default.asp.f-meetouragents_view_profile.agentid-20127)
Robert gave her a list of what he wanted, not really thinking such a house was on the market at that time: six bedrooms, a mother-in-law wing, an acre of land, and maybe a stream? Dawn showed us three houses that at least had some things on the list. We loved the second one, but by the time we decided to make an offer, it was gone. "You know," she said at the end of the day, "my parents have been talking about selling their house for over a year and it sounds like just what you want. Would you like for me to call my dad so you can see it?"
We said yes.
Nine of the ten kids were home that day. The older three had gone to dinner and said they would meet us there. Mom Dot said she would stay with Hope, who had already gone to bed. The Captain and I loaded up the other six and drove over. (Like I said, when we move it is a complex operation.) "Sometimes God is working when you don't even know it," I said on the way over.
We typed the address into the GPS and it led us right into the driveway of the yellow house with the red door. "This is the house," said the Captain, and told us the story.
Dawn's dad was watching the grand kids, but her mom, Marie, greeted us with a smile, and by the time six kids poured through her front door, she was beaming. "You have a beautiful family," she said.
"You have a beautiful house," we answered.
About the time we got to the back yard (complete with stream) the other three kids came around the side. She shook her head and tears filled her eyes. (Really, it's true--and she hadn't even seen Hope's cheeks yet). "Look at this family. Look at this beautiful family."
We followed her into the den. "Sometimes God is working and we don't even know it," she said.
"That's what I just said," I told her.
"We would love to buy your house," the Captain said.
"I would love for you to buy my house." More tears.
"You look like you need a hug," said the Captain. Group hug; then, as he is known to do, the Captain said a prayer. Right there. In the middle of that den.
On closing day, we stopped by the house to finalize furniture and bedroom placement (remember, complex operation). We found two pounds of coffee on the table with a note. "Welcome to this house of healing and peace," it said. "May you have many years of happiness here."
Life can be complicated. We struggle and strain. We doubt. We try to figure it out. But God is working. And when God works, you might not see it at first.
But when He finally points the way, you just can't miss it.
A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16: 9
Here are the links to some of our other moves, just in case you're interested.