It was 2016. Nearly five years after moving to California from Idaho, we were on our way back. The verses of Isaiah 43:18-19 had traveled along on a tattered notecard, taped to the side of a half-dozen refrigerators and become a background fixture. Having first spoken to me during a Bible study, I’d believed they were meant for my husband and I — a promise that would be fulfilled if we kept believing and trusting God regardless of our circumstances. Occasionally, I read the words to myself, trying to continue to have faith that God had been speaking to me as well as to my husband — but doubting it given we were starting over again — again!
In the transition of the move, I had stayed behind to finish up work projects and prepare to work remotely, but more importantly, I was going to attend my first Mount Hermon Writers Conference in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Those mountains were where I lived as a preteen, and where my writing story began. At eleven years old, I’d penned a fiction story to process the pain and affects of my parents’ divorce. So to attend a writers conference there meant more to me than the other conferences I had attended in previous years.
It was in the pew of the chapel on day one that I heard the words of Isaiah 43:18-19 spoken aloud for the first time since I’d written them on the notecard five years earlier. It was evidence our move back to Idaho was part of God’s plan and He was confirming that to me in addition to the call to continue writing all my stories — be them my real life journey or fictional creations. I knew the promise was still in the process of being fulfilled.
My husband, our boys, and I were still in the middle of the wilderness.
Dates and Details
The day our youngest son and I packed up the mini van to begin our move to California from Idaho was September 27, 2011.
The Mount Hermon Writers Conference takes place during Palm Sunday week, which in 2016 was March 20th. By early June, the pathway through our wilderness was revealed through our decision to start up our hardwood flooring business once again, though it wasn’t a part of our original plan. That decision proved a wise one and it took less than a year for our income to equal what it had been in California.
That July, I decided to purchase a new bible. I’d seen a few versions of ones that had coloring pages designed with scripture and spaces for writing notes in the margins. I wasn’t sure I would find one I liked, but ventured into the Christian Book Store to take a look and found one I fell in love with! I’d been collecting wall art with birds and always loved roses, so the outside design was perfect.
July 28, 2016 had no significant meaning. It was simply the date I’d written the transcription.
November of that year, we moved out of the tiny 2-bedroom basement apartment that had been our transition home and into a large 4-bedroom house that my husband and I felt could be our forever home. Though we were still renting, we’d heard rumors the owner may want to sell and began imagining the possibility of leasing to own once our income and credit would qualify us.
Looking back, my husband and I realized this was our plan and not God’s. When the deal fell through and we ended up having to move again and lost thousands of dollars in the process, doubt prevailed.
Even though I didn’t believe it I kept telling myself, God must have something better.
Our Vision of a Forever Home
Through the years, my husband and I had talked about having a home with some property that had established trees and shrubbery, garden space, and privacy. Having an outside space that felt close to nature was very important to me after all my years living in foothills and mountains. I felt connected to God and creativity sparked when I could find rest for my soul alongside Creation.
On a more practical note, we didn’t see ourselves living in a subdivision for our retirement years. We had many discussions about our ideal house based on the places we’d lived in the past eight years. Between the needs of our business, the size of our family gatherings at holidays, and our boys all coming of driving age, parking spaces and room to spread out inside a home was also important. After living in the next rental, we knew these factors were essential. Despite the rental being sufficient inside, there was no parking and no property and our neighbors were far too close for comfort.
When our rental lease was about to expire, we were at a crossroads. Did we renew it for another year or did we try to see if we could actually qualify to buy a house once again? After nine rentals in eight years, I was more ready than you can imagine to stop moving! It would be amazing to buy a house we could see ourselves in for the long-term, and not just a transition home that would mean we would eventually need to move again. After our previous attempt fell through, I was nervous. We couldn’t afford the financial or emotional consequences if another house purchase attempt failing.
But what could we lose by at least seeing if we qualified to buy at all? If we didn’t qualify, then we would keep renting for another year. We made some property searches to see if anything out there came close to what we needed and made contact with a real estate agent. Our list was very specific — down to the school district, number of bedrooms and max price. However, the ideal details of property, good parking, and not having neighbors immediately beside us stayed off the list to be realistic.
About mid-July we thought we’d found the house that checked most boxes, so we arranged for a viewing and met with our agent. The house was pretty small, but had a decent-sized yard with potential. We did our best to imagine ourselves making it our forever home. After all, our boys were all coming of age and we really only needed a space to accommodate occasional family gatherings. Still, we felt we needed to compare to a couple of more houses before we made an offer. We’d secured financing at a specific amount and asked our agent to find at least two other homes in that range for us to compare.
She’d found one in a subdivision and another one outside of the usual neighborhoods, but still in the school district. She said the sellers had just lowered the price by $20k, which brought the house right at our max budget. It was an older home that had a story of its own, having been originally built in 1910 and relocated in 1958. My husband and I had always liked the idea of living in a home with history, but a house that needed major repairs or renovations wasn’t ideal. Skeptical that this home would probably fall into that area given the price, we gave it a chance anyway. We assumed we’d immediately see too many problems, cross it off the list, and confirm the original house would be the best choice.
Our youngest son and youngest daughter joined us to give their opinion of each house. When we parked and walked up the driveway of the older house and property, something stirred in all of us. We walked around the back and stood in the yard, unable to hide what we all felt. Established trees shaded us from the summer heat, an open field the back drop and the neighbors on either side of us divided by yards of lawn, foliage, flowers, and more trees.
I already pictured myself sitting the yard with my morning coffee and we hadn’t even gone inside yet!
We all sensed the history and heritage of the home once we entered. Though the seller still had to move all of her personal belongings out, I could already see us making this place our home. Our children felt the same way. It was all we’d ever talked about and more — even down to the wild rabbits running around and nearly an acre of property to customize and make our own. It even had plenty of parking with two driveways and special zoning that would allow us to run our hardwood flooring company from the same location.
On July 28, 2019, the seller accepted our offer.
On September 27, 2019 (after a delay in the original closing date) we signed the final papers and closed on the house we would call our Forever Home!
At the time, I didn’t realize the significance of the dates. Then last summer, something prompted me to open my Bible to the first page and that’s when the date stood out. Could it be? Could God have orchestrated the date our offer was accepted exactly three years to the day after I bought that Bible?
I had to confirm it through emails, but it was true! As many miracles that we’d experienced in our lives, this one was jaw dropping. God didn’t have to do that! It was enough that the house had everything we’d ever talked about, and held details so similar to the childhood home I’d lived in before my parents’ divorce, it was uncanny. That was, after all, the type of home I’d wanted to live in my whole life.
But that’s not all. The closing date was 8 years to the day after my son and I had set our path to California.
Yet, God had to show off even more! When I bought that Bible, the last thing on my mind was that the cover would represent the house we would buy three years later. I can’t explain how it took me almost a year to see the similarities.
I still find it hard to believe that we are coming up on ten years since I felt God’s promise of the words in Isaiah 43:18-19.
When we celebrate two years at our Forever Home, we will also be celebrating His promises. Our life is good! We are blessed with all our adult children living in Boise, and our grandchildren knowing this house as Grandma and Papa’s house and the stability and consistency we’d desired to give our children.
The birds around our property know me and are also a reminder that God connects with me through his Creation in marvelous ways. From giving me the opportunity to rescue one of the Phoebe babies last year (pictured with her siblings last summer), to the only rosebush remaining from the original heirloom roses blooming in the exact shades of orange, pink and cream hues on the front of my Bible matching the near same shade of green on the house!
A few weeks weeks after the move, our grandson sat at the dining room table, his view looking out onto the backyard. At only three years old, he said, “Grandma, this is a good house.”
All I could say in response was, “Yes, it is.”