In our first year of marriage, Steve and I bought our first home in Bradenton, FL. We soon left to help church plant in Orlando, then in 18 months gone from there to head to our current home for the last 4.5 years Olathe, KS.
Every since we moved to Orlando, we have rented the house. We tried selling it when we left, but we bought at the worst time and tried to sell at a terrible time. Our rent didn't allow extra money to have a management company to take care of it, so we managed the house from halfway across the country. It is an older home, that seemed to often need work. Needless to say, it was our "thorn in our side."
June 4th, we finally sold the home, we closed on it and are so thankful for the lessons we have learned from owning this house. Steve wrote his thoughts on the house and since he is much better with words than I am, here is what he had to say:
Monday of last week (Juen 4th), Erin and I officially closed on our house in Bradenton. It is hard to explain or describe the freedom we have with the absence of this financial burden. We are grateful for the way so many people walked us through the past several years. Here are some of the ways we received support: prayers, on location help, wise counsel, and encouragement. As we close this chapter, I don’t want to miss out on reflecting on the lessons learned. Here they are in no particular order:
- Peace is worth more than a house
o A few years ago I had regret for the number of hours and days I lost to worry and strategizing how we could get out of this house. Since that “awakening,” it hasn’t been worry free, but I’ve learned to practice this principle from Psalms 55:22, “Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you.” It is a great trade, my worry for His peace!
- God uses hard times to increase our dependence on Him
o For years our prayer was “God get us out of this house situation.” At some point, our prayer changed to “God, teach us from this house situation.” I remember at one point realizing I was actually grateful for the house because God was using it to shape us to become more like Him and be more dependent on Him. At times the house felt a little like a thorn in the flesh, but that is exactly what God has used to help us grow.
- Part of praying is learning to pray “through” and not simply praying “for”
o I tend to be an “ADD” prayer. There is no other time where I am more easily distracted than when I am praying. With the house, we have learned a lesson in perseverance and persistence as we prayed through the same thing for over half a decade. To be clear, even in those years there were times we didn’t pray consistently regarding the house, but eventually we would refocus and pick up where we left off.
- Life is a marathon, not a sprint
o Out of college, we had a lot of energy and even a lot of desire to listen to wise counsel. What we didn’t have is perspective. If we had perspective, not only would that have affected the decisions we made, it also would of changed the way we viewed our realities, after the decisions were made. One of the things we appreciate most from our grandparents, parents and others is the opportunity to learn from their experience and “borrow” from their perspective bucket. This may be obvious but a person can only gain experience, through experiences. This experience has helped us have better perspective on life.
- Maintain Integrity
o From dealing with tenants to selling the house, there were plenty of opportunities to cut corners. To be honest, at times, the “wrong options” appealed to me more than I wished they did but I am grateful we acted with integrity. The peace of being able to look in the mirror and know we handled it in a God honoring way is worth the 6 years of laboring it through. It is hard to go wrong doing the right thing because you keep God on your side!
- Some things in life are gray
o Hang with me, this is more than a “politically correct” statement. Let me explain: when I sought Godly counsel before making a decision, the counsel was divided. They were all Christ followers and yet their perspective on the “right” decision was split. The lesson we learned is that sometimes I am quick to judge others in their situation thinking I “know” the right thing for them. In certain cases, the scriptures are clear and the decision is obvious. Other times, it seems like God whispers more than He shouts and the responsibility we have is to make the best decision with the information you know. Some things in life are gray.
- God is faithful
o Bottom line: God is good, in the good times and bad times. He is bigger than the economy and the joy and peace He offers is not affected by the circumstances we are in. Even though we had the house in Florida hanging over our heads, God provide an unbelievable housing situation for us in Olathe. He is able to open doors that we could not knock down if we tried all day, everyday!
We are doubly grateful. Grateful it is behind us but as grateful for the lessons learned.
Steve and Erin