Roof Over Our Heads
As we started to pack our boxes, one of our 13-year-old boys asked, “Do we have a new house yet?” I replied, “No, we don’t have a house yet.” His eyes wide opened in shock and he started counting the days left with his fingers. “But we only have 13 days left!”, he said in disbelief. I paused my packing, looked at him and simply replied, “God will provide. Please help us pack.”
The end of 2019 was a turbulent season for us as a Nehemiah family. Our lease contract for the residential home was up for renewal and the landlord had informed us the day of renewal that the rent will be raised by about 16%. In tears we asked her if she would consider a lower increase for one year to give us more time to fundraise for a higher increase the following year. After a couple days of negotiations, the final decision was that our lease contract would not be renewed, and we were informed by text that we have 30 days to leave.
During that tumultuous time, we clung to the promise in Psalm 37:25. The verse says, “I was once young and now am old, yet never have I seen the righteous abandoned or their children begging for bread.” We shared this scripture to the boys and reassured them, “You won’t go back to being beggars and you won’t be homeless again.” We clung to this promise with our life.
Each and everyday we looked for homes to rent and we faced many closed doors. Not too many homeowners are willing to rent to our basketball team sized household. With our 30 day deadline nearing and no home to rent, we decided to stop our search and spend the day worshiping and praying for a miracle. The following day after our time of prayer, the landlord approached us that she wanted to extend an additional 30 days to us to give us more time to search for a new home. We were so grateful for the much-needed extension. With only a little more than a week left on our new 60-day deadline; we signed the lease contract to our new Nehemiah home which is just a couple blocks away from the former home. The rent for the new home is the same price we were originally paying on the former home, and our new landlord agreed to only a maximum of 3% yearly increase upon renewal.
This part of our journey reminded me about the story of Abraham and Isaac going up Mount Moriah. Isaac asked his father in Genesis 22:6, “Father, the fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham simply replied to his son, “God himself will provide a lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” As I re-read this story, I wonder what was Abraham feeling and thinking while he was walking up the mountain. Was his face stoic and his emotions firm and steady as he walked forward? Was he perhaps a little like me, struggling with worries, fear and anxiety? Did he feel like he was putting on a brave face for Isaac with his calm reply while hiding the tears when Isaac wasn’t looking? I must admit, though I wish I could say my faith was full and as large as a mountain. On my good days, it was only a size of a tiny seed. I must admit that I had my moments of emotional breakdowns with each step as I inched closer to the top of the mountain without the answer in sight. Despite my human frailties and many flaws, God has provided an answer just in the nick of time. We are humbled, thankful and grateful for His provision, open doors and support of those who partner with us on this journey up our many mountains.
The first thing we did in our new Nehemiah home was cover the house with paint and prayer. We each went to parts of the home and prayed and declared what we wish would happen in that part of the house. I prayed over the gate and main doors for safety over each person in the home. One boy went to the kitchen cabinets and prayed that God would fill it up with lots of junk food. The other put their hands on the laptops and prayed that God would give fast and uninterrupted Wi-Fi, the other boy went to the garage area and prayed that it would become a basketball court. I then went to the garage area and prayed that it wouldn’t become a basketball court and reminded them that there is a basketball court 5 minutes away down the street. We all came back together and agreed in prayer that the house will ultimately be a home of joy, peace and love.
Foundation Under Our Feet
The last couple months of 2019 was spent not only looking for a home but processing many government licenses and permits. The next couple months of 2020 will also be spent amending permits to update our new address and processing even more permits and government licenses for social services with the help of our new social worker. The amount of paperwork and requirements seem overwhelming, but I’m reminded of the process of how tall buildings are made. Skyscrapers are built by first digging deep under the ground below the topsoil to find the bedrock hidden beneath the surface of the earth. It is the stability of this bedrock that the foundation is reinforced and anchored to so that the building can better weather storms, seismic shifts and earthquakes in the future years. This year, we will continue digging deep and anchoring ourselves to the bedrock so that we can be better prepared for whatever storms may come our way. There is an Amish proverb that says, “A home is not only a roof over your head, but the foundation under your feet.” This saying sums up our experience in 2019 and our goals for this year. Thank you for our friends, family and partners who co-labor with us in digging deep and building a solid foundation.