“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” –Jeremiah 29:11
This is a well-known verse that has brought me both peace and frustration, sometimes in the same moment. A few months ago I wrote about waiting. For years, my husband and I had been discussing whether we should move or add on to our home as our family grew. We prayed but didn’t know what God was calling us to do, except to wait.
A week after I wrote about accepting “wait” as an answer, we went to look at two houses. Looking at houses was nothing new for us (I have been known to search the Internet for houses for sale). My mom joined us for the walk through, but like us, she figured looking would just end in more waiting. After all, we had looked at no less than 50 houses before we’d purchased our current one.
The first house did not disappoint; we definitely liked our current house better. We drove to the second discussing (again) if we should finish the basement of our current house or add on to the upstairs.
Then we walked in to the second house, which was a house I had overlooked many times and only at the last minute asked our realtor if we could see it along with the first. It had gone on the market on our oldest daughter’s birthday. This second house seemed to have the space and layout that would fit our family, with space to modify as the children get older. More surprising was that this second house felt like home, even though it was empty.
Our realtor suggested waiting a few days before coming back to look at the house again, so we could make sure it was really what we wanted. We agreed and made an appointment for two days later. The second time through, we brought my dad and my best friend from childhood along (you know, “that” friend, the one who will be bluntly honest with you). They both agreed this house was a great fit for our family.
On the way to the showing, my husband and I talked about asking for a long closing date so we could get our current house ready to sell. Because the new house was empty and had other offers being submitted, our realtor suggested a closing date of December 27–and it was just November 22! This felt especially providential, since my mother-in-law had always given my husband a gift on that date and now we might be closing on that day a year after she’d passed away. Even still, a little panic settled into my brain as I started thinking about Advent and Christmas while juggling two houses.
The owners accepted our offer the next day, November 23–which was the one-year anniversary of my mother-in-law’s passing. It was a bittersweet day to say the least. The next few days were a whirlwind of paperwork and inspections. We closed December 19 and moved in just two days before Christmas (and are still slowly moving!). Everything happening on these dates just seemed to confirm we were acting in God’s plan for us.
Knowing that moving in December was going to make Christmas shopping difficult, I hounded my children to no end about letters to Santa and what they wanted for Christmas. Without fail, they all responded that the new house was all they wanted. It was one of our most peaceful Christmas mornings to date.
The stress of moving has not escaped us, of course. Moving during the school year, while working, two days before Christmas, with six children (one of whom is a nursing baby) is stressful even with wonderful support from family and friends. And even if it is God’s plan (He didn’t promise freedom from the storm, just shelter, right?). But God has been there every step of the way. One day I had a repairman come out to fix our oven. I was trying to find our home warranty policy while juggling a hungry and screaming baby, who screamed until 10 minutes before this poor man
ran screaming from left the house.
Before he left, the repairman laughed and said he and his wife often say they don’t remember the 80s. In my distraught state (WHERE is that policy and why won’t Nicholas stop crying?!?), I thought his comment came out of nowhere and oh so gracefully said, “What was that?” He explained that in the 80s, he worked days while his wife worked nights and “no one slept.” It was a crazy time for them of balancing careers and young children that they were trying so hard to raise right. His children are now 36 and 33, he said, and it was worth every sacrifice, every sleepless night.
God knew I needed some encouragement right then, since in the midst of that chaos I was also trying to get ready for work so I could sprint out the door as soon as my husband got home. I love that He spoke through someone I never would have expected to encourage me.
Then there was this past Saturday morning, when we made our monthly trip to reconciliation. As I talked to Father about the stresses of moving, he mentioned that I needed to look to the Blessed Mother for inspiration in my life. She kept God’s love always in her heart and was able to pull and act from that love and strength through many moves. This struck me, because a good friend had just given me the book Imitating Mary for Christmas this year. I think God used Father to nudge me to read that book sooner rather than later!
All these dates and the way things happened could just be coincidences, I suppose. But I choose to believe they are “God-incidences.” They are “God moments,” when He shows us we are not alone on this journey. We just need to remember that it is with Him–and only with Him, in Him, and through Him–that we will we find the strength to enjoy the journey through all its ups and downs.
Thank You, dear Lord, for Your perfect timing. Please help us to follow You ever more closely, to feel Your Presence in every moment of every day, and open our eyes to see all the “God-incidences” and God-moments You give us. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
What God moments have you had? I would love to hear from you in the comments!