Monday, October 28, 2013

The Miracle


God has moved mountains for us.

Clearly, doors have been closing on our dreams for the property.  Have you ever wondered, 
"Is Jesus telling us to stop, or is the enemy trying to thwart His hopes for our lives?"  
"Are we supposed to submit by stopping, or persevere?"

We are pretty committed, determined people.  We began a project for which we had high hopes.  Along the way we ran into may roadblocks.  In fact, there were big problems from the beginning.

One of the beautiful aspects of the God we serve is that He allows us to make our own decisions.  While He promises to give wisdom and direction, in His own time, He doesn't overrule our free will, even when He knows what would be best for us.

God watched while we stumbled along, fiercely determined to see our plans through to the end.  While I always sensed His presence, there were many times I was downright mad at Him for withholding a direct answer and solution.  I felt like we were flying solo.
But faith is a wonderful concept.
I realized that I didn't have to feel secure to actually be secure.  God's promises always hold true, whether one feels them or not.

We took out a construction loan last August.  Then in January we were sued, at which point we quit building and wondered what the heck we were going to do.

As August approached so did the deadline for our construction loan.  We were supposed to be done building and ready to roll into a mortgage.  But we weren't done building.  In fact, we concluded that we can't finish the project.

We learned much about neighboring landowners.  One is (obviously) litigious; another is rumored to be a felon and spends lots of time drinking.  The area is less than friendly.  Thankfully we avoided involvement in several altercations between other landowners, involving guns and cops.

{Once, a promised home-delivered lasagna dinner kept us from shotgun fire.  I was shaking in my shoes two days later when I walked up to the door to deliver the meal.  But like all good peace offerings, it did the trick.  And I was able to share Jesus with the couple who, with tears in their eyes, told me of the pain they've experienced in their lives.}

We couldn't live there again.

The bank was gracious enough to offer a long-term loan, the terms of which, ahem, sucked.  We had no choice.  We'd have to accept the loan and try to figure out how we'd make the monthly payments while paying our other mortgage on the house we've owned since 1999.

Our plan was to put the property on the market asap.  But "asap" was looking like it would be roughly 4 years out, accounting for what could happen with the lawsuit.

Jeremy worked a three week shift (3 weeks at work, one week home) to come up with the cash needed at closing.
 We were scheduled to close the day after he returned.

In the meantime, a lady owning land close by listed her property on the market.  Within 24 hours she had an offer.
The buyer requested a title search and because of the implications of the lawsuit, the search came up with a message of "no legal access".  This meant several landowners, along with us, were landlocked. The deal was off between this seller and buyer.

The following Sunday Jeremy got a phone call at work from another landowner.  He had been locked in, as The Man suing us had strung a chain across the road, locked it, and parked a vehicle in front of the chain, all while the neighbor was back on his land for the day.

I called our lawyer who explained that we landowners would probably have to file a case against The Man blocking access, in order to be allowed to our properties.  Fun.  Just when we thought things couldn't get any more complicated, my head was spinning over the new developments.

About this time, the bank called to cancel our closing appointment.  Big problems. They were made aware (by the title company) of the new access issue and were unable to close on the loan.  Although they were "talking with the lawyers" about potential solutions to the problem, our lawyer warned us that they may have to call the note, thereby forcing us into bankruptcy.

It appeared as though the sun was setting on us.  Everything was happening so quickly.
"Jesus", I plead, "FIX THIS!  We're out of time.  We're out of options."

I had done my part.  Over the preceding months I had come up with Options A, B, and C.  I presented the Options to Him for His review.  And He sat.  And did nothing.
 "Come on", I urged.  "Just pick one!  Hurry up!"

Jeremy got into town on Tuesday.  Wednesday morning he called one of the neighboring landowners to talk about the access issue and ask if they'd join in on the legal case to establish access.

"Why would we do that?" she asked.  "We have no access problems."

She explained to Jeremy that The Man suing us had given them permission to trespass.

"Great", Jeremy said, "but that doesn't do us any good.  We're going to need to access our property.  We've got a lot of cleaning up to do before we can put it on the market."

"What?  You're going to sell your property?  How much do you want for it?  I'll buy it."

Jeremy got off the phone and the look on his face was priceless.   Jesus was in the middle of working a miracle and we were soaking up every bit of it.

Just a few weeks earlier we heard a rumor that this woman had inherited a large amount of money.  Some say it was from a deceased relative.  I say it was directly from Jesus.

We negotiated a price with her and came to an agreement.  Early the next week we signed papers and it was done.  Only someone with permission to access it would buy our land.  And they'd need a bunch of cash too, because no bank could write a loan on it.

Oh! And remember that buyer who made an offer on our neighbor's property?  It seems that neighbor took her land off the market so she could sell it to a relative instead.  The buyer was upset, until she received a call from Jeremy who offered her the option of buying ours.  She told us if the transaction with the other neighbor had taken place, there's no way she would have bought our land.

The lawsuit isn't over.  But now instead of it causing massive destruction to our lives, it's just rather inconvenient.

God moved mountains in the span of one week.  Only He could pull off such a miracle.  Within the same week, on the heels of this transaction at the property was our adoption fundraiser, at which He raised $13,000 toward bringing our girls home.

 The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.  Psalm 126:3

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Storm

I've been sitting here crying for more than five minutes, unable to construct one single suitable sentence.

I sat to start a post to brag about the miracle God has provided and instead I find myself grieving.

This sadness would come eventually but I've been too busy lately and find myself pushing it away.

In 2008 our family stepped, shaky, out on a limb.  Risk takers, we were exuberant and expectant.

(click here to) Reminisce with me.

Man did we ever have dreams for this place.  We worked very hard.  Blood, sweat and many a tear were shed here.  

Loyalties were questioned.  Commitment was challenged.  God was doubted.

Never did we imagine life would be so hard.

Excerpts from journal entries:

July 31, 2009 "Things have been weird around here.  I feel somewhat lonely too.  And our days of late have been...gasp...boring."

October 29, 2009  "I've been considering and pondering it for some time now and I believe I've reached a conclusion:  We Are Crazy.
It's Thursday and as of Monday we've been living in a 5th wheel at the property...I'm tired and want to go to sleep but I don't want to walk to the outhouse.  It's cold, windy and dark out..."

December 28, 2009  "I've had a super rough time this last month or so.  I cried pretty much all the way to town.  I feel so disorganized and in need of getting things back to 'normal'."

January 13, 2010  "...big delays and problems with the water...underground line...obstruction...fighting anger, disappointment, distrust...dark, cold winter...displaced..."

Things began to get very, very difficult living on the property.  We had many problems with all our main "systems":  heat, water and power.  

Confusing and concerning things were happening.  

Jeremy started talking about the property being "cursed".  Strange... we've never talked that way before.  There were many days that we did nothing but survive.  And in the winter, I mean this quite literally.  

"Any idiot can face a crisis.  It's the day to day living that wears you out." -Chekov
And the day to day living was killing us slowly.  

Our marriage was suffering.  

When one's marriage is suffering nothing is right in the world.

The Man and His Family bought property next to ours, two years after we bought ours.  We were to be neighbors.  
The Man and His Wife sued us.  (Read about it here.)
  It is unjust.  We did nothing wrong.  The Man has much money and a deep desire for control.  He needs Jesus.

The Lawsuit has affected us in ways too numerous to mention.  Threats to our foundation as a family have been felt.  Our adoptions were on the line.  Despite our diligence of 17 years to manage our finances well and keep a high credit score, bankruptcy had begun to feel like a reality.

We decided, through much prayer and many tears, that someday down the road we would sell our beloved property.

I don't know if anyone has ever been as in love with water, dirt, trees, as I have.

But our experiences over the past five years have slowly affected our feelings about the land. The Lawsuit has been the nail in the coffin.

"If we make it through all of this", we determined, "we will sell that place and never look back."

Three weeks ago I had to go up to the property to take some pictures for The Lawsuit.  I hadn't been up there in several months.  I expected some emotions to come up, as this would be my first time back since deciding to sever our relationship with our property at the first chance we have.

Lucky me.  The Man happened to be there just as I arrived.  I haven't seen The Man or His Wife since they sued us.  He approached and questioned me.  Jesus steadied me and I spoke one sentence with no emotion.  No anger.  No hurt.  No sorrow.

I snapped my pictures, unsteady as my hands shook.  I stumbled in the mud and rocks, weak in the knees.

Tears streamed down my cheeks, I, thankful The Man and His Wife were too far away to see.

I arrived at our land and was accosted by a great flood of memories.  Wandering around, visions of our dreams appeared.  And I grieved.  

I sobbed and Jesus watched.  I spoke aloud to Him, my words choked so heavily only He could understand.
He listened.  
My heart hurt.
So did His.

"Away with the past.  I've done with the old world forever, and may I have no news, no echo, from it.  To a new life, new places, and no looking back."  -Dostoyevsky

Saturday, October 12, 2013

He Provides

[On October 6th, 2013 we held a Coke Family Adoption FUNdraiser at our church, Wasilla Christian Church.  We served chili (I prepared 150 servings.  We ran out and had to open two emergency #10 cans of pre-made), held a silent auction (thanks to many donations!), had a caramel apple booth, and enjoyed a live dessert auction.]

Take a good look at the picture above.  What do you see?  Me.  Alone.  In the kitchen.  In my fear, this is how I imagined things would be if I ever decided to try to pull off a fundraiser.

Take a good look at the picture above.  See me?  I'm on the far right.  Not alone.  In reality, this is how things were.  A team of people who love us and wanted to help bring our girls home committed to show up...and they did.  But even better?  Jesus showed up in a big way.

Anna and her bosom friend Kailee set up a booth where they sold beaded bracelets and artwork.  They also supervised many kiddos who needed something fun to do and LOVED spending time in the craft room with the girls.  They raised $152 just with their booth!!  Thanks girls!

My friend Lisa shared her girls (they're so creative and fun!) and her experience.  We're enjoying getting to know their family.  Kindred spirits, we are. 

Bill and Debby Buser were so amazingly helpful.  Bill knows the building like the back of his hand and helped us figure out where to find things and how to arrange the room to maximize the space.  Debby organized the entire dessert auction.  WHEW.

We have some incredible friends.  We serve an incredible God.  Life is hard.  We are blessed.

I was in awe of this all night.  Many women contributed to the dessert auction.  The creativity and talent displayed on this table had me all choked up, as I marveled at the way Jesus used their abilities to help bring our girls into our family.  He is so creative.

Above on the far left is our pastor, Joe Munday.  He asked me during the auction if I was prepared for this kind of a turn out.  I shook my head and the look on his face told me he wasn't either.

These teens are hanging out in the caramel apple booth area.  Tammy Allen, who has hand dipped caramel apples and corn dogs at the state fair for 20+ years, organized and ran this booth.  It brought in over $500!

Early on, back in February of 2012 when we finally decided to adopt, we had almost all the money we needed for the process sitting securely in an account...or so we thought.  It turns out that the money really wasn't secure after all because money is a tool, not a god.  It doesn't provide security, Jesus does.   Several circumstances arose then, not coincidentally at the time we paid our first fee to our agency.  The money went quickly and served its purpose as an "emergency fund".

I distinctly remember getting hit with the impression that this process wouldn't be easy.  He had things He wanted to teach us.  About ourselves.  About Himself.   Not a single experience would be wasted.

Pastor Jim Beach, on the ladder, is our youth pastor.  He's also a really talented auctioneer.  ("Auctioneer" is what I wanted-to-be-when-I-grow-up.  He inspires me, in many ways.  Maybe someday...)

Our faithful planning team- Many hands make light work

My parents moved to Palmer this spring and we're thrilled that they were able to be here to help and share in this special event!

My dear friend Heidi encouraged me to "just do it".  I'm so thankful for her..

As I contemplated the idea of a fundraiser, I couldn't ignore the echoing in my mind: an encouragement from the Lord. "Just do something.  Give people a chance to give and be a part of what I'm doing."