We drove by it for months on our way to, well, almost everywhere. It’s only a mile from where we live now. Nestled behind a barrier of overgrown hedges is a quaint, white, historic house that Sarah has always thought to be beautiful. She told me a number of times that she’d love to see it on the inside. It was for sale, but there was no point in looking because we weren’t even thinking about moving.
After six months of driving by, a new sign appeared in the front yard of that vacant white house. We saw the words “price reduction” in giant red letters for the second time since it had been up for sale. The new sign peaked our curiosity. On Sunday, January 2nd, I was sharing at our church about some of the good things that God has done in our lives through the pain we’ve shared with Bowen. Sarah wasn’t able to make it to church because all three of our kids had runny noses, and we didn’t want to be inconsiderate of the other children in the nursery. After the final service was over, Sarah called me and said, “Hey, I was wondering if you’d want to go look at that house this afternoon…just for fun.”
“Just for fun.” I can’t type those words without chuckling. Three weeks ago today, we walked our kids through the door of a strange house that, ironically, felt like home. Tonight, our family will sleep in our new home for the very first time. Sarah and I asked ourselves if we were crazy for moving during this season of life, searched for red flags, sought wisdom from advisors, consulted with family and friends, and prayed for God to slam the door to that house if it wasn’t his desire for us to live there. It kept opening wider by the day. There are moments in life when you have to look hard, or be very quiet, to see and hear God in everyday circumstances. Then there are times like these, when you can’t look any which way without seeing his writing on the walls.
A long string of green lights and answered prayers connected us with a stranger who, ironically, felt like an old friend. Amy, who lives in Cincinnati, sat across from us at the closing table last Tuesday. She grew up in that beautiful white house and shared some her fondest memories of it with us. She was the executor of her mother’s estate; a mother who had lived in the home for forty years, lovingly raised three children as a young widow, and then peacefully passed away there last April. Amy shared stories and memories with us for almost an hour before we had to say goodbye. Sarah and I drove to our new home after closing, and when walked in we found a letter from Amy’s family on the kitchen counter. Here is some of what that letter said…
When our realtor called and said we had an offer I had mixed emotions. I was sad that it was an ending to my childhood home and final closure in the loss of my mom…but I was happy because a young family was going to be moving in.
It wasn’t until a few days later that I realized the irony in you being the ones to buy my mom’s house. I kept thinking your name sounded familiar but just couldn’t place it…However, my husband and I realized that you are Matt Hammitt from Sanctus Real! We have loved your music and and your song Lead Me is our 14 year old daughters favorite song. It gave us great comfort and peace to know that your wonderful family would be residing there. Back in September, my best friend sent me an email link with Bowen’s story…we have been praying for him and your family. Thank you for giving us such peace as we say goodbye to the house. I know it my heart it was meant to be.
If there were any lingering doubts inside of us that God had planned for us to live in this house, that letter put them to rest.
This week I told Sarah that I feel like I should strap on a helmet. I know, it’s crazy, but when your circumstances seem to be going smoothly after a long struggle, it’s just human nature to feel like a flaming meteor is about to drop from the sky and crush something. Truth be told, none of us know what will happen tomorrow. Sarah and I talk all the time about how we could lose Bowen, or that we could even lose one of our girls, or each other at any moment. Its also a reality that we could lose this home someday. One of the great blessings of walking through a struggle, is coming out on the other side knowing where your true hope and treasure is. A new house is not the source of our happiness, but believe me that we’re thanking God everyday for our this blessing…a home where there is some breathing room for our growing family, and where Bowen will have his own room. Our prayer is that some day he and our girls, like Amy, will share good memories of growing up, and of us growing old, in this beautiful home.
I want to share the link to my message Pain and Purpose, that I spoke at The Grove in Chandler, Arizona last Sunday. You can listen to it here