About two years ago we put the first house we ever bought on the market.
We have been so very blessed by God. Sometimes I don’t understand it. I often find myself just in awe of what He has done in my life… both before and since I’ve known Him. But alas, Thomas and I were ever so very blessed by God to have been brought together in this crazy world, and if that’s all He ever did, that would have been enough.
But He continues…
We were so fortunate to have been put in exactly the right place and time to buy a house at the bottom of the market in 2011. And because of YouTube, Thomas was able to teach himself how to garden, build raised beds, put in flooring, do plumbing, paint, and upgrade that lovely house into a beautiful home.
One that we lived in about two months after the renovation was complete before we decided to sell. We were faithful that God had blessed us, but knew He had bigger things in store. And we were right. We walked away with just over $100k from that sale and had the beautiful luxury– because of the business opportunity that God had placed in our lives a few years earlier– to ask ourselves if Nevada was where we saw our family for the long term.
The answer was no. Although we LOVE our little valley, we knew that it didn’t offer us the things we really wanted:
The ability to own land (affordably).
The ability to grow food (year round).
The ability for Thomas to continue his passion of music.
The ability for us to build our dream house (affordably).
And so… we began our search for our final destination, as we moved into a beautiful rental in Genoa. Thomas knew he wouldn’t be in his fire career forever– again, thank you to our business– and so the world was our oyster. Where should we go? We love the West- it’s home to both of us. But where in the West?
We spent a lot of time fleshing out the option of Washington. NO, it does not rain everyday in Washington. That’s Seattle, people! Not the whole state. And to be honest, for a long while we were pretty sure that that is where we would end up. But I have to say, as much as I love Washington, and my bestest friend who lives there, it just didn’t feel like it was it. It felt like I wanted it to be it.
Again, God had bigger plans in mind.
I suggested we look at Tennessee several times, but Thomas was pretty unwavering in his decision to stay in the West. He did not want to even consider moving East of the Mississippi. I had never actually been to Tennessee, so I didn’t push the issue. But Thomas had always raved about it. He loved Nashville, and I had a suspicion that I would too, but other than that, I can’t exactly say why I was so eager to add Tennessee to the short list.
Finally, after doing some online home research, Thomas suggested we open up our search to Tennessee!
‘What a great idea!’ I thought!
And within a day or two, Thomas handed me the iPad, with our new favorite app– realtor.com– pulled up, and there was our farm.
As I scrolled through the pictures, I have to say my heart broke. We were absolutely NO WHERE NEAR ready to buy a house. And I don’t mean emotionally, or physically ready. I mean we had JUST incorporated our business, which means you have at the VERY minimum ONE FULL year before you can even pull your credit for a loan.
There was no possible way we could buy it. And honestly, it was above the price we wanted to pay anyway. But it was perfect. Absolutely, unavoidably exactly what we wanted.
Our short list of things we were looking for included:
-At least 30 acres (this place was 84 acres)
-A 2000+ sq ft house that we could live in for 2-3 years while we saved and then built our dream house on the property. Preferably updated and big enough to fit our family (4 rooms minimum, because I have to have a designated office space). I don’t care about a lot of things, but I do care about my home. I want a nice home. I just do. It’s one of my only ‘wants’ that I actively hope to have.
And after that, the WISH list went on and on, but really, we would have been happy finding something that fit those first two criteria.
-Place for a green house (this place HAD one).
-Space for ‘back to Eden’ garden plots- large (this place had TWO established Eden gardens).
-Root cellar with dry and damp storage (total wish list item– check check).
-Updated house (done).
-4 bedrooms (and a separate 300 sq ft office studio).
-Within 80 minutes of the airport (be careful what you wish for… this farm is exactly on the 80 min mark).
-A place to build our dream house (wait until you see it…).
The list went on. This farm checked all the things. My heart broke!!!
I even asked Thomas why he showed it to me. Why was he even looking this far ahead? It was hard to let that place go, because I KNEW it just couldn’t be ours. There was no way. (Be careful– God is so big).
So I closed the iPad, and I forced myself to forgot the farm. I just put it out of my mind. I didn’t let myself get ANY more attached to the idea. And almost immediately I felt the reassurance that God was going to use this. I sensed that this was a sign that Tennessee was exactly where we needed to be looking– this was where we could find EXACTLY what we wanted.
Okay. I can deal with that.
And so we explored deeper into the possibility of Tennessee. But before we could do much more than just talk about it, Thomas felt it was important that we took a quick trip out to see it for ourselves. He just couldn’t even continue the conversation knowing that I had never even stepped foot in the state. I mean, that’s fair, but it wasn’t somehow necessary for me. I felt very drawn to Tennessee and one of my nearest and dearest, Tiffany Anzelc, raved about it and so I figured I like what she likes.
But alas, we went. Just Thomas and I, and our then three month old little world traveler.
I have to say, I’m not much for cities– it’s never been my thing– and so when Thomas suggested we stay a night in Nashville before heading out to check out the country side, I thought it might have been a wasted day of our very short trip. But, I was eager to spend some time with a great friend, Tori Hein, who had recently moved from Nevada to Nashville and so I was willing.
Nashville is amazing. The food, the music, the scene, the culture, the history. I was smiling like an idiot, as I ran through the city streets, in the pouring rain with my dear friend, tiny baby and favorite husband. I was continually reminded of EVERY memory I hold dear from my past of traveling through many cities throughout the world. Nashville is the best of all the best cities… and my favorite thing is, it doesn’t feel like a city at all.
So needless to say, God had confirmed for me that we were absolutely on the right track. And boy had I prayed for that exact confirmation.
By the time the weekend was over, and we had traversed the greater Southern Middle Tennessee country side, I was pretty convinced that we had found our Promised Land. But back to Nevada we went… to wait. All we could do was wait out our time before we could get a loan. Wait and wonder what was in store.
We looked at dozens and dozens and dozens of homes online in the greater Middle Tennessee area. Nashville is part of the deal– both my feelings about the city and Thomas’ music– so we knew where we were looking. But in ALL those beautiful listings, we just couldn’t find another farm like the first one. We found many contenders, but nothing that quite lit the spark in the same way.
But we were confident we would find something to make our own. After all, we had the perfect example now to follow.
Nearly a year later, and JUST after a 2 week long road trip up the West Coast, we found ourselves confused and distracted. Oregon is beautiful. Washington is beautiful. They’re close. They’re in the west. They’re easier. Closer to family. Maybe that WAS where we were supposed to be…
Questions and doubt. Lots. Both.
So one night, I just took it to the source.
Lord, where do you want us? Where should we go? Where are you calling us? What’s your plan? YOUR will? I can’t even seem to sort out my own will, quite frankly, but I want my will to be your will. So tell me. And make it obvious, Lord.
You might laugh at that end part, but the Bible tells me, ‘Ask and you shall receive,’ and I NEED obvious. I need things to smack me in the face. It helps solidify my faith and keep me focused and so I ask for it. I do! I asked for God to make my labor start with Gage and to make it obvious that it was real labor and time to go to the hospital– I prayed that everyday for weeks– and my water broke in bed one night. Thank you Jesus!
So I prayed for it to be obvious.
I came downstairs after my bath– yes, I like to pray in the bath– and Thomas informed me that he had JUST gotten off the phone with the realtor of the farm we had loved almost a year ago. THE farm.
It’s still available. They haven’t had much interest. Are we still interested?
I literally looked up and smiled. THANK YOU GOD! Not even thank you for the farm being available now that we were able to get a loan, but THANK YOU for showing me the OBVIOUS answer to my prayer.
“We need to get on a plane,” I informed Thomas.
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves-”
“No. We do. I JUST asked God to redirect us to Tennessee if that was His will and I come downstairs to THIS? Yea, we’re going to see that farm,” I was convicted.
“We need to get pre-qualified. We don’t even know if we can buy it!” Thomas countered.
Logical? Yes. But to me, those were the details.
“No. If this is the place, the rest will fall into place. We need to go.”
And so we did. About two weeks later– in a very small window between our road trip and a 10 day stent out of the country– we made a quick 50 hour trip out to Tennessee to see this farm. The one that had been haunting and inspiring our dreams for almost a year.
We figured that since we were flying across the country, we might as well check out a few other contenders while we were out there, and so our real estate agent lined up a few appointments.
Looking back, all I can remember about those other places is that they weren’t it. When we drove through the ridiculous canopy of trees that led us onto what they called ‘Shalom Farm’ I knew that this was absolutely the place God was leading us to.
Sidebar: ‘Shalom Farm’ was not what I had foreseen the name of our farm to be. But like the current owners, the name was chosen for this farm before even they had been called there. And the name fits perfectly. It is a Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility and can be used idiomatically to mean both hello and goodbye.
Seriously? I know, right?
Anyway, so we loved the place. We spent over 2 hours hiking and exploring. We loved the house– it’s so quant. We loved the family who lived there. It’s a perfect place, with a perfect history, to raise our family while we build our dream home and our dream life. We have SUCH big vision for this place. I can’t even explain it all in one blog. But basically, there was no question. We had been called, and now God was going to bring us through.
Or at least that’s how I felt.
Don’t get my wrong, Thomas was absolutely head over heels– as in WAY more than even me– for this place, but he felt that HE was going to have to make this happen for our family. He immediately felt the immense pressure to accomplish the impossible. We didn’t have the money for the down payment (not all of it), and we weren’t pre-qualified, nor did we even think there was a bank that could write us the loan. Although our realtor was optimistic, even she couldn’t exactly see how we were going to be able to pull it off.
This is what I now lovingly refer to as God Gap #1! HE had to show up and show us!
But I saw this so clearly– and please don’t take this as a brag. God had never once led me to something that He didn’t plan to bring me all the way through, and I saw this as another one of those things. We just needed to be His hands and feet in the process. It was so obvious to me.
So, I have to make a plug really quickly: keep an eye out for our vlog, as we will have to tell Thomas’ experience in this journey as one of the episodes in the near future, but his faith was absolutely tested during this process. He was convicted that this was where we were supposed to be, but he did NOT trust God to bring it (us) home in the way that I did.
He had so much doubt and fear.
After about 30 or so calls to many different banks, lenders, realtors, connections, friends of friends, etc., we found ourselves at the end of a very long rope with very few options.
Okay, there were no options. No bank was willing to write the loan. But I knew that there was still God!
And, as Thomas Edison said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways it won’t work.”
Thomas was more on the failure side of the coin at this point…
But then came the ONE bank that was willing to write us the loan. It was very specific. It was very unique– so much so, that the bank had never written a loan quite like what we needed– but they were willing! And so we began discussing what we should offer.
God told us to offer just over $20,000 less than asking. We felt He was asking us to trust Him, even though it was pushing us outside our financial comfort zone.
They countered by accepting our price, but asking for $16,000 in closing costs. We couldn’t afford the cash up front, but God prompted us– after a few days of pause (while in Disneyland no less)– to be generous and offer everything we had. Every cent in the bank. So we countered by rolling the closing costs into our loan, if they could front the cash at close.
They accepted. We were broke. But we went into contract! HOLY WHAT? Was this happening?
It was to be a 60 day escrow with SEVERAL things in the small print about rent back and different details about the property. It was complex, to put it mildly, but it was in writing and happening.
Towards the second half of escrow, RIGHT in the nick of Christmas, we discovered that the appraisal came back low. $26,000 under asking to be exact.
Now, this could be good news or very bad news. Good news for us meant that we might get a lowered price. Bad news was, if the sellers couldn’t make that price happen for them– and we remained very tied to this family and aware that there was a FAMILY on the other side of every negotiation– than this meant that the deal would be done. Over. Not happening.
Our leander even put our file in a special pile because she told us that, “this is what makes deals fall through.”
But I had faith.
I was remarkably unemotional during this entire process. Something about the peace of God does that to you. But boy did we pray. We prayed for His will always. And we prayed for peace. And we prayed for a positive outcome for both families.
After challenging the appraisal and about 2 weeks and a few holidays later, the appraisal remained low. We waited on baited breath. But we re-negotiated the contract at the lower price and continued towards close.
GOD GAP #2 successfully reached and closed. Praise Jesus. PHEW!
About 2 weeks later, and about a week out from the close of escrow, Thomas and I found ourselves in Maui for business. It was our last day there, and we were awoken by a call at 6:30am– 10:30am Tennessee time.
I was half asleep, but Thomas’ tone brought me to full alertness pretty dang quick. I heard the heart break, the panic, in his voice.
The loan had declined.
1 week from close of escrow, after SO MANY hoops jumped, so many BIG and little God gaps closed, and we were about to be left with nothing to show for it.
“I’m going to go throw up,” Thomas told our lender. I looked at him, pretty sure he really meant it, but I remained calm. This was bad. That was definitely true. But God is so big. I knew there just had to be something we were missing…
God Gap #3…
So I prayed… Lord… what are we missing? Why is this happening? What do you want us to do…
I knew for sure that this was the house. But perhaps this just wasn’t the deal? Maybe this was just the wrong time. The house had waited for us for almost a year, what would a couple months mean? But we had gotten so close… this was a roller coaster that I didn’t know if Thomas could weather a second time.
We talked, we pondered, we prayed, we considered… and then we decided to go to the beach. Let’s just take a walk down the sand.
Shortly after our walk, Thomas and I felt convicted that God would have us be in Maui– of all places and times– during this crisis, and it had to have been for a reason. We were surrounded by dozens of our nearest and dearest business partners, with a myriad of business and personal experience! This was a wealth of knowledge to draw from. Surely SOMEONE would have a solution or a suggestion!
We found out from our lender that the issue was a load issue. The land to loan value was too high. We basically needed more money down– money we absolutely DID NOT HAVE– to offset the ratio of the loan.
Okay. So surely someone would have a brilliant idea. I mean, right?
You guys, I have to tell you, that within an hour of asking one of my dearest friends– who will be forever in my heart as the most generous family alive– for real estate advice, they offered us the money to offset the loan.
That wasn’t our intention. We weren’t asking for hand outs. We were looking for an idea. A direction to move. And we found incredible generosity. And I will be forever grateful for that. God shows me such magnificence when I least expect it.
That offer wasn’t our answer in the end, but it was our answer for that day. It allowed us the chance to keep the faith for a few more days… to persevere towards this plan, this deal, this house. It was a blessing. A God send, absolutely.
But a few short days later, back home and facing the music of an impending deadline and a deal that just WAS NOT coming together, we found ourselves in the midst of the BIGGEST God gap yet…
$25,000 short, and no where to turn, I headed for the shower… to pray.
Full disclosure: At this point, on this Sunday, Thomas and I were at complete odds. My unwavering faith was serving as a glaring light on his doubt. We were yelling, we were desperate, we were tired, we were out of options…
I asked God that morning for three very specific things, and I warned Him ahead of time that I hadn’t ever really asked for such a specific answer.
‘Lord, if this is your will for our family, I need you to give us the answer today. I need it to be obvious. And I need you to give the answer to Thomas. He needs you to show HIM. I already believe.’
Within a few hours of that prayer, Thomas was on the phone with his dad talking about directv and football and I heard his voice break…
I looked up from where I stood in the kitchen. Thomas and I hadn’t spoken about my prayer. We hadn’t actually spoken about anything…
But then he was weeping. He was pacing and weeping and telling his dad thank you…
And then he hung up. And he did something I’ve never seen him do in our 9 years of marriage…
He fell to his knees. He cried. And he thanked God with all his heart. It was truly remarkable. And I started crying without knowing what the answer was. I just knew that he had it. And God had delivered yet again.
I awkwardly stood up, walked over, and kneeled down beside my husband. I put my hand on his back as he sobbed with his face down in the carpet. I knew it was good. You see, this wasn’t about a house anymore. The house was always going to be ours…
This was about faith. This was about God taking Thomas by the shoulders and saying, “Why don’t you see how I’ve got this?”
And then, because we’re SO VERY human, God had to show up, and make it obvious. Again. And again. And again.
“You won’t even believe me when I tell you what just happened…” Thomas whispered through his tears.
Of course I’d believe it. With faith, all things are possible…
LONG complicated story shorter: The day after we got word that our loan declined in Maui, Thomas’ dad received a strange letter in the mail saying something to the tone of ‘you have an unclaimed benefit that we need to liquidate. Please call us.’
Without knowing the full extent of how messed up our loan had now become, nor how exactly he had a benefit he was unaware of, Thomas’ dad called to investigate the truth behind the letter.
Well, as it turns out, when Thomas was around the age of 11, his dad held a job with FedEx. And at that time, he in-crewed a benefit he was somehow either unaware of, or forgot about, and although he had not worked for them in many, many years, they chose THIS moment in time, of all the moments, to insist on not just suggesting a liquidation of the benefit so that they could close that chapter and move on, but they had increased the value of the benefit significantly to make it more appealing of a liquidation.
So needless to say, we suddenly, out of the clear blue sky– and JUST in the nick of time– had a financial gift fall into our lap.
God. is. SO. good.
We had to re-apply for the loan and re-start escrow. BUT, even that ended up being a blessing to both families because it negated the need for a rent back and saved BOTH families money in the end.
The biggest God gap of them all had not only been closed, but it wasn’t just a save… it was a blessing.
Of course it was.
And today, after nearly 100 days in escrow, over a year of dreaming about this farm, years and years of willing it to exist in our heads and chasing after it in our every day work ethic, we closed on Shalom Farm.
And in SO MANY WAYS I’m so glad to put this home buying process in our past, I’m also sad to see it come to a close. It was such a trial and testimony for our family. I will hold this season of our life so near. Thomas is changed. I’m changed. We’re closer; To each other, and most certainly to Him.
Today is the start of a new chapter for us as a family, but it also marks the close of a very important one as well. We so look forward to the day our kids lay eyes on what we’ve held in our hearts for so long. And yet, I’m so heavy and sad with the many goodbyes that lie ahead…
Shalom means hello… AND goodbye. And that’s why it’s just so perfect. Today is hello.
Today is goodbye…
But it also means peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility…
I know good things lie ahead, as I’m certain amazing things also lie behind us. And today, as I start to look forward AND behind I want to tell you readers that God is faithful. He is good. And He has a plan. Cling to what He has done for you and for others because there will come a time when you’ll need to lean on it.
I know as I say goodbye I will have a very hard time remembering why we’re doing this. I know as I watch my kids weather this transition, I will question what I know to be SO crystal clear right now. I know all this. And so I pray for peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility for my family… and I wish it for you as well.
Shalom friends. Shalom Nevada. Shalom Tennessee…
Hello. And Goodbye.