There are sacrifices, and there are sacrifices.
When we first were presented with the idea that Papa Rooster might come on full-time at LOC in the next year, we prayed. We talked, we crunched numbers, we prayed some more, and we felt reasonably certain that the prudent thing would be to downsize. Our mortgage was our biggest monthly expense, and it seemed reasonable that we could find something else somewhere in Kenosha--not as big, not as nice--that could house our family of eight and still be the ministry center our home has always been. It would be a sacrifice, but God would provide, and it would be worth it.
That prudential wisdom was confirmed by PR feeling a strong sense of the Lord telling him "Sell the house now." We responded as quickly as we could, and when our house was almost ready, we put it up for sale by owner. We assumed we'd end up listing it, but if God wanted to save us money and bring us a buyer, we were giving Him a chance. And He did!
Selling our house was easy--way easier than we expected. But buying was a different story. As we began looking at houses, it became clear that it would not be easy to find something in the neighborhood near our church facility, which was our deep desire. It was also the prayer of many in our congregation, we discovered, independently, which kept confirming our own sense of call to that location. Earthly wisdom would say that a short drive away is still close, so we looked at a number of possible houses that were a little farther out, but they seemed all wrong. They were too far away.
We felt God nudging us into a certain small radius from the church, in order to be where He wants us to be and to do the ministry He wants us to do.
This was not the sacrifice I was prepared to make! I wanted lots of options to choose from. Instead,
our list of possible homes shrank to nearly nothing. We had seen all six or seven properties available in that neighborhood, and they were either too big and expensive or too small for our family. I was really looking forward to downsizing and having a smaller, cozier home that would be easier to care for. Instead, it began looking more and more like we were going to have to buy something almost as big, that cost more than the house we are leaving. Could this really be what God wanted? And yet, He gave us peace and continual confirmation that indeed, He did.
Furthermore, thanks to miscalculation and miscommunication, instead of receiving a hefty tax refund as usual, we owed for the first time in twenty years--exactly the amount that we had in savings, which we had planned to use as a down payment along with our tax refund and whatever we make on the sale of our current house. That circumstance made us investigate whether we should take money out of our 401K for a down payment, in order to afford something in a higher price range. We talked to a CPA and crunched more numbers. By then we were wishing we had thought of this before we sold our house, but much as we hate to leave it, we knew that it wouldn't have been right to refinance and continue living in our current home. We felt a peace that God was very intentionally relocating us. That was what this move was about. To be where He wanted us, we might have to tap retirement funds in order to buy a more expensive house--a sacrifice of a different sort than we had planned.
We began to ask everyone we knew, including total strangers out gardening, if they knew of anyone in that neighborhood that might be interested in selling. We followed up on several leads. One that kept coming up was this one house whose owner had passed away. It wasn't for sale, as far as we knew, and if it were, it would be too expensive. It was really close to our church facility though--the location was perfect. If it were to come available, we would have to seriously consider it.
Jumping ahead a bit, it did become available for us to see, though it is not on the market, and it has become clear to us that God wants us to pursue this house. We brought friends, family and church leaders with us into three very different houses, of different sizes and price points, and there was nearly unanimous agreement that neither of the other two were "it." This house, however, feels special, and some of our leaders felt clearly that this house was connected to God's mission for Light of Christ, as well as for our family. No one can draw a diagram on a napkin to explain it, but that conviction just won't go away, even as we consider the difficulties of buying this house.
Because it will be expensive to buy and make livable for our family. It is honestly not the ideal house for us. There are two other comparably priced properties available which could work as well and have been fully updated--why not buy one of them instead? It's been a sacrifice for me to turn my back on them. It doesn't make sense on an earthly level. It's kind of another sacrifice--not to be able to explain rationally why we should spend money this way, when it goes against every grain of my frugal, common-sense being.
We are going to make an offer and see what God will do. We invite you to pray with us!