Grateful for Grace hosts a Memorial Stone in Words carnival on the 30th of each month. From her blog: "In history, the Israelites often were told to make memorial stone pillars. These were piles of rock that were to remind the people (and tell others) that God had done something big in their lives. God knew (and still does) that people benefit from visuals. These memorial stones gave the people a chance to tell the story again, either to those who were there and need to be reminded, or to those who were not and needed to know what happened. It also was an opportunity to be refreshed in their faith."
In my first Memorial Stones in Words post, I told about God's faithfulness in my getting to be a stay home mom of many children. This month I am writing about the house that God gave us.
When hubby and I first married, we lived in an apartment. Then when I was going to PT school, we bought a mobile home. We bought a newer and bigger mobile home after I graduated from PT school and started working. Then when Obi was 21 months old we bought a duplex. Our goal was always to have the cheapest housing to allow us to have hubby home with the babies. So, after hubby graduated, got a job, and I started staying home, we had the opportunity to build a house. We had four children and were living in our 1000 square foot, 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom plus a toilet, duplex. We were beyond excited.
Hubby's uncle is a builder and would build us a house for much less than the going price. So, we began building. Our idea of our dream house. The kids and I spent hours in our van watching them build through all the steps. And taking pictures and videoing. We took cookies and sodas to the concrete guys, put the kids hand prints in fresh cement, prayed and marched around our lot praying for our house and neighbors. It was our dream come true. We picked out everything in the house. Agonized over choices, trying to make the right choices and be economical at the same time. There was a lot of stress, but we could only imagine that we would get to live there when it was finished.
We didn't have anything fancy planned in our house. All we wanted was the biggest house we could get. All along I felt God providing and helping us in every detail. There were a few specific things that he did for me, personally, with the house.
1. When I had finally found the kitchen counter top that I loved, I had wanted to have a wood trim on the side of the laminate. We decided to save the money and go without. When the cabinet makers were trying to plan out the counter top, they had some difficulty figuring out the seams because of the very large countertop area. They called and told us that if we could add a wood trim, the seams would work out much better. I was thrilled. I had given up what I wanted, and God gave it back to me.
2. Hubby had laid wood floors with the help of some friends. He didn't want to stain them, and I did. One of the very few things we disagreed on in the whole process. On the last day that he could stain the floor, Hubby got up early, went and bought stain, and stained the floors. When I went to see them, I couldn't believe it. They were the EXACT color that I had imagined them, although I had never told my husband that. Again, God giving me the floor color that I wanted.
3. I had spent hours and multiple trips trying to pick out carpet and tile at a local store. With four young children in tow. It was a bit stressful. Finally made the choices, and they gave us a bid. Sounded great. I had picked very plain floor tile and white bathtub tile. Come to find out later, they had called our master bathroom the mudroom in the bid, and they wouldn't compromise the difference: the price was just much higher. Hubby had had it with them. He met me while my friend watched all the kids, we went to two stores, and in a matter of a few hours, picked out carpet that we liked better, and got beautiful tile for the master bathtub, and got travertine marble for 2 bathroom floors plus the laundry room, all for less than the first place's first bid. God was so good.
4. Our garage ended up having a very tall ceiling due to our lot and the way the roof line was. Just days after our roof trusses went on, hubby and his uncle were looking at it and realized that we could put a bonus room over the garage. In order to make it a real room, we would have to redo the roof trusses, but until then it was great storage. It was 500 square feet. This to people who were living with 6 people in 1000 square feet. We thought we had hit the jackpot. It was our five year plan to redo the trusses and make a great family room out there. And we were so thankful for the potential that it symbolized to us.
5. When we first built it, we only finished the upstairs, which was 1500 square feet. It felt enormous. Three bedrooms and 2 full baths. For the first time, everyone had their own bed. Within 6 months, we finished the basement with a huge family room/playroom, 2 bedrooms, a school room, and another bathroom. We truly felt like we lived in a mansion.
Soon after we moved in our pastor and his wife came to bless our house for us. I was telling them all the different things that God had done for us in the building of our house. Our pastor's wife said that I needed to tell the children and others the stories of God's faithfulness. It was then that it hit me that our house had a name: Ebenezer.
1 Samuel 7:12 says Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the LORD helped us."It was a memorial stone showing that God was with them. Our house was my memorial stone.
There is a hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, which also mentions Ebenezer. In verse 2 it says,"Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I’m come..." This song always brings tears to my eyes.
Our house was wonderful for parties and entertaining. Plenty of room for adults upstairs, lots of room outside and downstairs for kids to play. Three different years we hosted big homeschool Christmas parties that my kids still talk about because of all the fun. We loved that house. We lived in the house for five years. A year ago this week we put our house up for sale. I couldn't believe that God would have us sell the house that he had gifted us. I even thought it wouldn't sell and maybe we could keep it and rent it out, so someday we could move back. God sold it in 59 days. I couldn't believe it.
This post is bittersweet. God lavished his love on me by the gift of our house, Ebenezer. And he led us to sell it and move away. It felt like a punishment. But it is a testimony of his provision for us in the past, his love for us even when we don't understand why he has moved us, and his plan for us in the future. We don't know what our future holds, but we do know the one who holds it.