These were Ellie's words just over a week ago as we pulled into our new home in Whitewater after visiting a local church. We all smiled, thankful that she's recognizing what's really happened. It still feels weird to call this place "home". But it is our home. And for the house itself, we couldn't be more thankful!
God has placed in me a desire to trust Him for big things (at least in some areas of life). He's answered prayers too numerous to count over the last several years. I try to write at least some of them down. (I've done a pretty poor job of this). But every so often a story comes that I don't need to write down, because it's so memorable. This has been the case with this house.
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! -Matthew 7:11-
So what did we need? I asked God for a house that would provide three things:
- a place for our family to thrive
- a place to bless, host, instruct, and share life with the students we minister to
- a place to bless the many guests that stay with us at various times
I made a specific list of what this house might look like: I'd need space for an office, a guest room, bedrooms separate from the living area (so our girls can sleep during loud student gatherings at our home), close to campus, and many other specifics.
I spent much of December-February scouring the internet for options (WW is a smaller town so options were limited). In the meantime, we qualified for a rural housing loan through the USDA with incredible terms, but some limits on value and square footage. If the house didn't qualify for this loan, it was unlikely we would be able to buy a house that fit our needs, so it was very important to us that the houses we were looking at fit the terms of the loan. Finding a house that fit "the list" and the limits of the loan was quite difficult. It was easy to think: maybe this prayer list was too ambitious. The Lord didn't have to provide anything we wanted. I was reminded that our God isn't a vending machine. Maybe He had something else in mind.
He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things. -Romans 8:32-
Then one night in mid-February I got home late. Katie and I decided to check craigslist. This is how we found our Champaign house, but WW doesn't even have it's own craigslist, so we had rarely checked it at all. Only 5 houses came up for Whitewater and this one stood out to us. It was newer and seemed to fit "the list" very well.
This was the first house Katie was excited about (a big plus for me, knowing this would be a difficult move). It all looked great until we saw the price and value, several thousand over the limit required by the loan for Walworth County, where Whitewater is located. Oh well, we thought! Back to the drawing board!
But then I noticed the county listed on the information sheet: Jefferson.
Turns out a small fraction of Whitewater is actually in Jefferson County.
And as you might guess, Jefferson County has a higher limit for the loan ($20k higher!)
This potential house fit easily into the limits!
We sensed the Lord might be giving it to us.
A friend from Katie's hometown offered to be our realtor and within 36 hours of seeing the house on craigslist we were headed up to visit it. On our way there I made the off-handed comment "if only it was near one of Whitewater's parks for the girls to play at." Wouldn't you know, an hour later as we drove in front of the house for the first time, we noticed a park that had been built in recent years a few houses down from us.
We wrote an offer that day and received and accepted a counteroffer all before we were halfway back to Champaign.
This house matches up perfectly to the list we'd been praying, and then some. It is simply an incredible gift from our good Father, and we are GRATEFUL.
The house was for sale by owner and so we are blessed to have met the previous owners. They are gracious people and followers of Jesus. They hung brand new shower curtain liners before they left, filled the water softener, changed the furnace filter and numerous other really kind things. They even brought a bouquet of flowers to our closing.
We have been abundantly provided for, beyond even what we could ask. I researched and obsessed way too much over this whole process and it was like the Lord said, "You do your research, but I'll provide for you when and how you least expect it." I write all this to point to HIM, who provides abundantly for His children. We don't deserve this, but we're incredibly thankful. And each night as we watch the beautiful sunset in our backyard, we are giving God the glory.
Please join us in thanking the Lord for an abundant start to our time in Whitewater!