Our Series of Unfortunate Events, Part 3

Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.s

That night, I got sicker and sicker until, by morning, I knew I could not take care of the kids while Stephen went to church. So, on our first Sunday at our new church, we all stayed home, sick and miserable. It was not at all how we wanted to start our ministry, but we had little choice.  So we prayed for grace and buckled down.

We were staying in a beautiful basement apartment, thirty miles into the country and on a lake.  It was idyllic, restful, and a tremendous blessing.  But with five people and one bedroom, a week was about the longest I was praying we would have to wait before we were into our new place.  We had found a large, three bedroom apartment with a two car garage across the road from the church, and I had spent the last month meticulously charting out each room for furniture and decor arrangements. I had ordered new window treatment, shower curtains, and we had taken a huge shopping trip to Ikea to buy bunk beds for the kids and everything else we would need to make life work in our new apartment.  But it wasn’t vacant until the end of the month, which gave us a week-10 days to wait until we could get in.

As I lay in bed, drifting in and out of troubled, sickly sleep, I kept having a sense of foreboding that something would go wrong in our plans, and we wouldn’t be able to get into the apartment right away.  I worried that maybe necessary paperwork had been packed, or the people wouldn’t vacate, or that somehow the whole thing would fall through. And if it did…then what? We were in a tricky spot because we had not sold our home back in Illinois. We were renting it out with the intention to sell to the renters in a year.  At that point, we could then buy a home.  But until then, we needed to find a place to rent.  And there was a serious shortage on houses or rentals in our new location.  We had already been watching the market for the last six months, and the pickin’s were extremely slim. The apartment we had found was the only thing large enough for our family that was also affordable.

By Tuesday evening I was beginning to feel better, and the world was looking like a brighter place. Wednesday, we woke up to an email from the apartment complex.

“I’m sorry, but, because you still own your house and yadayadayada super complicated, etc. We are not able to approve you for our apartments.”

My blood ran cold. This was the one thing we were concerned about and waiting for the final answer on. This simply could not be happening. I immediately picked up the phone and called my parents, realtors and landlords themselves. We talked through every possible solution and the ins and outs of every detail.  We called our bank and crunched numbers and drew up spreadsheets to prove to the apartment complex that we did indeed qualify, they simply were not understanding our situation correctly. The whole time our housing hung in the balance, I was filled with a strange mixture of both dread and peace.  I had no idea what we were going to do if this fell apart.  But I knew that God knew about all of this before the beginning of time, and He had a plan of His own.

Wednesday night, Stephen came home from work. He came in through the sliding door, closed it, and leaned back against it, his face ashen.

“I don’t feel so good,” he said.

Ellie had been acting fussy and hot all day, and I was concerned that she was catching The Sickness, too.  And in two days, Paul Tripp was coming to our church for a marriage conference that Stephen was supposed to be at–and we wouldn’t miss for the world–come on, Paul Tripp??!!

Normally, I would have tucked Stephen in on the couch, pulled out all of my supplements and essential oils, and begun a healing regimen as I prayed that God would spare him The Sickness.  But all of that had been packed in the truck.  I had Campbell’s chicken soup from our host family, and that would have to do. We were waiting by our phones, anxiously awaiting the final word on whether or not the apartments would reconsider, and that added to our digestive misery.

Thursday morning we got our answer. No. We would not be approved. We had no choice but to look for other options.

My phone rang.


“Hello, this is Old Dominion, and we have your moving truck full of all your stuff. Where would you like the delivered and when?”

The truck had made it.  All our stuff was here.  Now, where were we going to put it? I briefly explained our situation, and asked how long they could hold off on delivering it. I knew once they dropped off the truck, we had three days to unload it. That would buy us a little time, but we still had to know where they were going to unload. If at all possible, we wanted to avoid unloading the whole thing into storage for a few days only to turn around, get another truck, and move it to wherever we were going to live.  And the bigger problem was that there was so much stuff buried and randomly packed into that truck that we really, really needed.

The trucking company said they would hold our truck until we let them know where we wanted it. “Thank you, thank you!!” I said, relieved that we at least had a couple more days to figure this out.  I instantly dove into motion, calling, emailing, and spreading the word through the church that we were desperate for a place to move into in the next 48 hours.

The next twenty four hours were a blur of phone calls, emails, and prayers for provision.  I didn’t even have time to think about how disappointed I was not to be in the apartment.  I knew God had a plan, and whatever it was, it was for our good.  At any one time, we typically had two or three housing options.  And as soon as I hung up one phone call that closed one option, another one opened up. My mind was spinning going from one possibility to the next.  Finally, Thursday night, Stephen got a phone call. When he hung up, his face beamed.

“We have a place!” He exclaimed.

“What? Where??”

“I don’t know,” he said. “Someone has a missionary house that is being vacated this weekend and will be empty for the next 8-12 months.  They are offering it to us for as long as we need it, rent free!”

Relief washed over me. We had a place! We could unload our things and begin unpacking. We had never seen the place, we didn’t understand whose it was, where it was, or what it was like, but we had a place. And that was all we needed to know for the moment. The Lord had provided.

To Be Continued…


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