After two years, nine months and twenty three days, the Sanders family is in a house again! If you have just started following the Sanders family adventures, you can catch up on the last three years here, by scrolling to the bottom and clicking “older posts” until you get to the first post.
Since the beginning of the year we have felt that it was time for a change. As you can see, from previous posts, when we were living out of our van we had peace. We did not love the inconvenience of the situation, but we all knew that it was for a purpose and it was what we needed to do. That started changing at the beginning of the year, but we could not see how our living situation could ever change.
I have mentioned before that we are in the ninth wealthiest county in the country. To say that finding a home is expensive is an understatement. There are few apartments in the area and houses rent for thousands of dollars per month. We felt like God had opened the door for me to drive a school bus but that was not a money making venture, besides it is not the type of job that could take a family from less than a hundred dollars to their name, to spending thousands per month on rent and utilities. Still we all felt an overwhelming sense of hope that restoration was coming. We regularly discussed the frustration of having hope when there was no apparent reason to have hope.
In May we explained the feelings and situation to a couple of ladies from our church and they prayed that we would no longer need to be in our van, and that God would begin to provide a place for us each day. God must have heard that prayer because from that day on we had a place to stay. Sometimes it was in a hotel, sometimes friends offered to allow us to house sit, or just invited us to stay. We are truly blessed with amazing friends and family! We understand that our family adventure is challenging for people. We see from Biblical accounts that God’s Training Plan often involves some peculiar situations, but Americanized Christianity has no time for inconvenient and uncomfortable times of testing/training. So we are doubly thankful that God has provided us with so many loving, accepting people who were willing to listen to us, check in on us, and love us as we’ve walked out what we felt God was asking us to do. This journey has been the most challenging thing we have ever done and there were many days of complete frustration and despair that were brightened by a call from a friend or a note of support from family.
As the school year progressed the feeling of hope got stronger. The pastor at our church was teaching a series on speaking life (Jenny’s specialty!) into situations and Jenny was attending a ladies Bible study that was addressing the same topic. During one of the sermons, my mind flashed back to a conversation I had with a friend from China. He was in the states and called to check up on us (see! Awesome friends!). I was explaining to him that my kids were thriving and that they are almost always positive about our adventure. I also explained that I often get frustrated about not being able to provide luxuries that are part of the American culture. He encouraged me to allow the children’s positive words to change how I speak/think about the journey. I was getting the message to remove negativity at every turn.
I began to make an effort to speak faith regarding our adventure and to stop talking/thinking negative things. When I began to focus on my words, I was surprised to discover how negative I was. Then the radiator in our van sprung a leak and needed to be replaced. We had under $50 to our name and our only source of transportation was out of commission. You try being positive about that!
Jenny calmed me down by speaking faith (she is AMAZING for me) and I took it to a local repair shop. A friend (more amazing people!) allowed me to borrow his vehicle while the repairs were being made. The repair shop called and informed me that the cost to replace the radiator was more than $600. I told him to go ahead with the repair, not knowing how I would pay for it. Within minutes of authorizing the repairs a fantastic friend (see a pattern here?) contacted and said they wanted to pay for the repair, sighting Acts 2:44 as the basis for their gift. It has truly been humbling and amazing to witness the true church in action over the last 3 years. They do not attend the same church or belong to the same denomination, but they are listening to the Father’s voice and for that we are grateful.
So, how did we get a house? At the beginning of October I received a letter from a former employer. 15 years ago they had started a retirement account for me. I vaguely recalled it because I had tried to tap every available resource nearly three years ago when our adventure got scary. At that time the account was not available for withdrawal. I could not even find out how much was in it. Additionally, they did not send statements on the account. As a result, I had forgotten about it. The first letter I had ever received from them stated that the account was available for immediate cash withdrawal and provided the paperwork to make the withdrawal. The account had a substantial amount of money in it. We requested the money and it came a couple of days before Jenny finished a 50 day fast that she felt led to do (coincidence?). That money allowed us to get a beautiful, spacious home near our schools and friends.
We had recently cleaned out our storage units and given our bedroom set away. We also had to throw away a couple of our mattresses, due to water damage, so we needed mattresses. The day before we were scheduled to move into the house a man flagged us down as we were leaving our hotel. We had not stayed in that hotel since last year, so we were sure he could not have recognized us. We stopped and he asked us if we needed mattresses. What? We hesitantly said yes and he explained that he had been hired to remodel the hotel and he had a pile of practically new king size box springs and mattresses left over. He said that he did not want to throw them away, so he thought he would ask us if we wanted them. We gladly accepted! As I was leaving he shook my hand, leaned in and looked me in the eyes. Then he said “remember, God is always good.” I asked him what his name was and he said, “Jesus.” So, we can legitimately say that Jesus gave us two king size bedroom sets.
In the post “A Call to Christianity”, I stated that I do not record this adventure to convince atheists and unbelievers that there is a God, I record it to encourage Christians to be Christian. An unbeliever or an atheist could use coincidence, or chance to explain away how a phone bill arrives and the next letter opened has a note with a check. The note says “for your phone bill” and the check covers the bill. Or to explain when we feel led to write out a list of our bills and pray for God to pay them and hours later someone contacts us and asks for an itemized list of our bills, because God blessed them and they want to pay our bills. We have hundreds of little miracles like this in the last 3 years as a testimony to shake the Americanized Christian to the core and wake them up to have a God adventure of their own. When you step out, he will test you, refine you and always provide for you because he is always good.
P.S. Over 2 years ago a friend of ours told us that he felt like God had told him that He was going to give our family a house. Specifically, a house with red brick and black shutters. We had not thought about those words until we had signed the paperwork on the house and were reflecting on the amazing blessing of having a house without striving, stress, government assistance or selling our life away to make monthly payments. It is God’s good pleasure to answer prayers… and he is into details, that is why our new house has red brick and black shutters. It is exciting to know that we are exactly where we are supposed to be and we are looking forward to living out the passion that God has placed in us.