"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
Whitney and I were limping along--she recovering from major surgery and post-pregnancy, both of us more sleep deprived than we dreamed possible--absorbing the responsibilities of caring for a newborn baby. Boden turned one month old, I returned to work. I received an email notice--we have 60 days to vacate our home, a place we had just turned into our little predictable, cozy, safe nest. I became nauseous.
The nausea turned to fear and desperation. How would I tell Whitney? I had to be strong and encouraging, we would be just fine, but I felt like, in fact, we would not. This might do us in. We already felt "done in" as it were. My reaction in the midst of the chaos was to pray, "Lord, help me, help us. Father, please do a miracle, strengthen us, assure us you have us in your hand."
Then I called Whitney. In addition to the email a letter was dropped at the house. A knock on the door, a quick check of the place, baby secure, body parts covered, peeking through the port hole, nobody there, open door, letter drops to the ground.
She already knew. Like me, she was sick. Unbelievable. How could we do it now? How could she [our landlord] do this now?
We prayed together on the phone. "Lord, help us." We prayed that night, and the next day too. Amazingly, within 48 hours, our hearts began to change. We've seen God work too many times before, we trust Him, we thought that maybe He was up to something, we began to expect a miracle or at least personal growth and spiritual sanctification through this trial.
Still we were faced with the reality of the Silicon Valley rental market, currently ranked by many sources as the most brisk and expensive in the country. I snapped into action, enlisting prayer support by colleagues, close friends, folks at church. I reached out to those knowledgeable about real estate and began to search listing sites. "Lord, I trust you to provide, but please don't let this down to the last minute like you did with our last move," I asked.
A couple weeks go by, nothing. One night, late at night, in between feedings and diaper changes and soothing the baby, I feel compelled to check Craigslist from my phone. I rarely do this, as navigating real estate listings with all their details on a phone makes for too much zooming, scrolling, squinting.
There at the top of the search is a place that is.... a block away. Clean. Updated. Slightly larger. Ground floor, better with a baby. Same price as now. It would totally work! One problem...the ad ends with the following: ABSOLUTELY NO PETS!!! We have two, a cat and a dog.
I decide to call and go see it anyway. Two days later, a block away, we enter to meet Hank. A pleasant guy, the place is better than advertised. It would work. We want it. We tell Hank the same. Hank asks if we have pets. I respond that we have a dog, he's a great dog, house trained, small and clean, minimal shedding, I show him pictures.
Hank says he likes us, but he has many who are interested, and if another equally likeable couple surfaces without a pet, he will chose them. Understandable.
We depart, and immediately realize that, as seems to be occurring often lately, our minds are not working clearly. We did not communicate that we also have a cat. Our hearts sink. We forgot about our cat. It is plain weird to forget about your cat, but lately, we forget how to pronounce common words. We pray on the way back to our house, "Lord, we want this house, please give us favor."
We know that we have to call Hank and tell him about our cat, which is just a weird conversation to have. "Hey, so we just met you, and by the way, we have a cat too, we just forgot about him." Seems shady, but that's what I did, Hank seemed to understand, he hung up. I told Whitney we most certainly lost that opportunity, she replied that it was in God's hands.
Later that day, our landlord came by to inspect the property, figure out what needed to be fixed before selling. By now, we had no bitterness toward her, God did that in our hearts. When she arrived, we were pleasant, we showed off how well we thought we had taken care of the place. She agreed--she was delighted. She was eager to list the place soon, and asked how quickly we could move out to which we replied it would likely take us the full 60 days, given the baby and all. Plus, we had no strong leads at the time, just the place we'd seen earlier, but there was the pet problem. She asked if she could call the landlord of that place, to tell him how great of tenants we were, we obliged, and she made the call on the spot.
We engaged in conversation, which led to her telling us that she had to sell because she was embattled in a divorce, had to liquidate everything. It was a tragedy to her, our condo she had planned to keep for her autistic son so he could eventually live there. Everything was in shambles now. Seeing now that this situation was so difficult and painful for her, we told her we'd keep her in prayer. She left.
Forty-five minutes passed. I went to the mailbox. Oddly, the landlord was still outside, standing next to her car speaking with the real estate agent. "Ryan," she called, "would you come here?" She told me how grateful she was for us, how she wanted to help us even more. She offered to pay for our new place so that we could move in effective immediately, give us all of our deposits back, including the non-refundable pet deposit, and pay for a mover to help. Wow, this was becoming surreal.
I marched back to tell Whitney the good news about our landlord, and then with another call to Hank with the news, we received confirmation and a key to our new place, a block away, within just a few days. After a hard few weeks of moving, unpacking, and reestablishing functionality in the home, we came to appreciate our new place that offered more space, first floor living (a bit help with a baby and a dog), and a little side yard.
A stark contrast to our first home search in the Bay Area that went right to the wire, this move during a tough time as new parents was clearly blessed by God as we look back on it. Through prayer we saw our hearts shifted, were able to encourage our landlord, made a stand to be honest with our new landlord, got favor with him, and through much prayer, we saw a new, better place emerge with surprising speed and circumstances. Praise God for that!