One of the major things that this season of unknowns has taught me is that God loves our honest questions. Have you ever been around a three year old? I have one living under my roof as we speak, so I have a very tangible example of what it means to "have faith like a child". My son Myer knows how to ask for what he wants. (I'm sure many of you are nodding in agreement right now.) Three year olds know how to ask for what they want.
They start out asking sweetly and within seconds you are sure to be dragged through the entire gamut of their emotions if your answer does not quite line up with their desire. They have no shame. They will ask and ask and ask and ask again in any way, shape, or form that they can dream up and then they will go ask their daddy when you're not looking. Their asking feels like insatiable knocking. (Or maybe water drip torture? haha.) You can choose to answer the door and give them a straight-forward answer, or you can be slowly driven insane by trying to act like it's not happening.
God asks us to ASK like this, coupled with the faith to believe that the answer He will give us is for our good, even if it doesn't look like what we thought it should look like. (Luke 11:5-13)
When Chris and I were faced with the conflict in our hearts about moving, we started asking God to increase our desires in the direction we should go, and decrease our desires in the way we should not go. It was like we were constantly hounding God- holding out option A or B in our hands and asking Him to make one bright and make the other dim. And you know what?
He did exactly that.
If you are standing at a crossroads in life and you have no idea which direction to take, start asking God to increase your desire in the way you're supposed to go, and decrease your desire in the way you should avoid. Hound Him with the question. Ask like a man on fire would ask for directions to the nearest pond. Don't try to hide your passionate desire to know what to do from God. Lean into Him. Cry out to Him like a wounded animal! He can take it! He loves to answer His children. (Luke 11:11-13)
As Chris and I prayed for our desires to strengthen in the direction where our home was meant to be, it became clear to us both, over a short period of time, where that place was. We kept checking in with each other over those days and months... asking each other what we were honestly feeling, and we discovered that the most amazing thing was happening. God was changing both of our hearts toward the same place, in different ways, at the same time.
We may have come to the conclusion in different ways, but we both knew that we were not meant to leave this place just yet. God was so faithful to answer our asking prayers!
For me, one of the ways God started to communicate this to me was through dreams. I have always prayed that God would speak to me in dreams, and He definitely has two or three times in my life, but it had been quite a while since I had woken up in the middle of the night and just KNOWN that the God of the universe had just authored a story in my sleep.
Late in January, I started having really specific dreams about our situation. In one dream, Chris and I stumbled upon a house that was for sale within some kind of an enclosed courtyard type area that was attached to the front of our church. In the dream, we just knew we were meant to buy it and Chris kept saying "We can watch over the church from here!" When I woke up, I just knew we were meant to commit to this church, and make our home here.
Also, I was finding that day after day, the thought of leaving this city became less and less appealing. Less... stomachable. I started to dread the leaving more than I desired it. My heart was slowly changing. Even though we were now freed up to be able to just leave and go wherever we wanted, it was becoming the very last thing that I wanted to do. I did nothing to create this change in myself, it was simply God working in me.
At this point in time, I really started scouring the real estate sites and MLS listings for houses around the Oklahoma City area. I just knew that it was time to start looking more seriously. We thought we'd maybe like to move closer to downtown OKC, but nothing was really landing with us in those areas... the homes were all a lot older and needed constant upkeep, the schools were a bit rough, and none of them really screamed "home" to us. So, we kept looking. And looking. And looking.
A few days after the 'church courtyard house' dream, I had another dream. In this dream, we had bought a big house out in some beautiful country, and all of a sudden it was filled to the brim with college students. They were there for a conference, and our pastor Sam Storms was speaking, as well as our bestie Joel, and my husband Chris. I was helping out too in any way that I could. The conference was all about sexual purity, and, in the dream, the college kids were all really affected and encouraged by the three speakers. I just knew that everyone who was there would never be the same. The dream ended with me walking out to look at the outside of the house that the conference had taken place in. On the outside, in big letters, there was a sign that said "NOTEBOOK BOX".
Notebook box? Like the box of notebooks I had pulled out randomly from under the bed at the beginning of all of this craziness?
Could God be saying that those crazy years of heartbreak that Chris and I struggled through as teenagers... those years that I had written about and documented in all of those old journals that were now in a big cardboard box under my bed... would be used somehow to affect and encourage college kids? Could our broken story be used to make others whole? That has been a dream of ours since the day we finally made it to the altar.
It seemed too wonderful to even imagine, all of that pain being turned upside-down into beauty like that. I stored all of this up in my heart and hoped it would somehow be true. But... how?
One Saturday night, shortly after I had that dream, Chris prayed that God would speak something REALLY clear and tangible to us at church the following day. He prayed that it would be undeniable, and he asked that it would come from someone who didn't even know anything about our situation. He was asking for a prophetic word.
That next day was Sunday, February 5th. Chris was leading worship that morning, and after the first service, a woman walked up to him and handed him an envelope.
Chris told me that the second she placed that envelope in his hand, he knew. He had no idea what was inside of it, but he just knew that this was the thing he had been praying for the night before. Tears sprang into his eyes. Jayme, the woman who gave Chris the envelope, said that it was a gift from an anonymous person who just wanted to bless us. She prayed for Chris and she told him to open it with me when he got home later that day.
When he came home, he told me all about what had happened, and we opened up the envelope. Inside was an anonymous money order made out to us for the amount of five hundred dollars.
We were shocked and amazed and humbled all at the same time. We didn't know exactly what the money was meant to be for at the time, but we knew that it was very important... a specific answer from God.
Two days later, I was scanning the MLS listings for the area again, and I clicked on one that had been added earlier that day. It was unlike anything that we had looked at or even considered before, but I was drawn to it. As soon as it came up on my computer screen, Chris walked across the room to look at it over my shoulder. I clicked on a couple of the pictures attached to the listing. Chris straightened up, paused, and said, "I've got chills from head to toe. We need to go see this place."
Ummm... agreed. Yes. No other house that we'd seen online had even sparked enough interest to go look at it. This was something all together different. This house made our palms all sweaty. heh.
The next day we called the real estate company that was listing the house. We set up a time to look at it, and Chris asked about what might be required if we wanted to put an offer on the house, just so we could be prepared. He wasn't sure if we'd be able to swing it financially at that point in time, because he was thinking that the earnest money we'd be required to put down in order to make an offer would be around the $1200 range. He thought we were going to have to wait a bit before we could put an offer on anything, because our official closing date on our old house wasn't for another three weeks. It seemed our hands would be tied financially for a little while longer... but would this house still be there when they weren't??
The agent replied, "Oh, you'll just need $500 in earnest money if you decide that you'd like to put an offer on the house."
Five hundred dollars?! FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS!?!
The EXACT amount we had been given two days earlier.
We finished making arrangements to go see the house, hung up the phone, and started praying like we'd never prayed before.