Think about what words come to mind when you hear the word “home”. I often think of a place of comfort, living and doing what we love, a place to just BE, and a place to be together. How about you? What makes your home, a place to call home?
A month ago, Dan accepted a position in Michigan to be the full-time youth director at North Street CRC. It will be a big change for our family in June, but one we could not be more confident in. The way God led us to this position, is only in a way that HE could orchestrate. I say “led us” because youth ministry, though it’s not our life, it is our lifestyle. Our hearts could not be more full when we have kids over to our home, watch them at their favorite extra curricular activity, or grab ice cream with them. It’s always hard to leave a group of kids you have invested in, but at the same time, they always seem to graduate, no matter how hard you try (just kidding, we always want to see them succeed!) That is why we are eager to get to know a whole new group of kids because we have such a short amount of time with them, but a chance to make a life-long impact.
We have had our eye on the market in Zeeland for quite some time, and to be honest, we have been pretty down about it. Houses were and are going for way over what we could afford, or we could choose to settle into a home that we could not see ourselves in for very long, just to stay within our budget. We knew God had called us to North Street CRC and we knew He wouldn’t call us without giving us a place to live, even if it meant temporarily living with my parents, which we were so thankful for their willingness to allow us to live with them! Aren’t parents just wonderful? We lived with Dan’s parents for 5 months before we moved to Minnesota!
Day after day, we would look at the real estate websites and often a new one would come up, but either it was well over our budget, or we would be settling. Not that we were asking for a lot – just a 3 bed, 1 bath, with a reasonable distance from the church. You’d think that’d be easy to find, but it was becoming stressful. I’d love to sit here and say that we never had a moment of weakness in our faith, but we did. We knew we had to find one soon if we wanted to close on it before we moved, so we wouldn’t have to move twice. Though by the end of each of those days, we’d always rest knowing that God had a place picked out for us.
Well, did you know that back in 1920, God laid it on someone’s heart to build a house that would eventually house the Sterks?
Thursday night, we went to bed and while talking about our days, I told Dan “I think this is the weekend. I feel like this is going to be the weekend we find out a house. I just have a peace about it.” Well, Dan prayed that night and we went to sleep.
Friday morning, I woke up to my phone ringing off the hook. I checked to see who it was and there were multiple messages, but the first one was Dan, from 6:07am – “Yo bro, new house on the market. Big living room and dining room, pool in the backyard. I really think we should make an offer on this one. Text me when you wake up. Oh and 2 minutes from church.”
I checked the next message and it was the pastor’s wife. Same link, some info, and it was a random email she received from a realtor. I told her, THIS ONE IS IT and that we are going to make an offer.
Hours later, I receive a facebook message from a member of the church with a link to the SAME house. A friend of her’s had sent her the link, so she thought she’d forward it on to us.
Thus began a crazy, but completely God-orchestrated day.
Dan called our realtor and she jumped on it right away, giving a verbal offer to the seller’s realtor. She set up a showing for 6:00pm that evening, so my family could go through it for us. By that time, there were already two written offers. Yikes.
That morning I felt this prompting to look up what the mortgage would be if we raised our offer $5,000. Not hours later, sure enough, our realtor called, asking what our max MAX budget was. And we told her $5,000 over. Only God! Then my brother in law wondered if we were going to write a “love” letter to the sellers, stating why we thought this house was perfect for us. We had never heard of the idea, but posted the question to our realtor, and she said it wouldn’t hurt. So we wrote a letter from our hearts, stating why THIS home fulfilled our ministry needs, our dreams, and couldn’t be more perfect. We wanted to do all WE could to make this home a possibility and just leave the rest up to God.
After the walk through, we weren’t sure where our minds were, as a house never looks just like the pictures, and we were a bit confused. But like my sister said, 99% of houses do not look like the pictures. and most of the work they thought that needed to be done, was purely cosmetic, which was highly encouraging! It’s a 1920s house! We were still certain THIS was the house. All the little details from the tall white baseboards, to the number of bedrooms, to the open concept (unheard of in a 1920s house), to the pool in the backyard. Little details we loved and this house FAR exceeded our needs!
To do what we do, we felt we needed 3 bed, at least 1 bath, a garage, within 5 minutes from the church, a bigger dining room and space to host youth group kids, and a room where Mazy wasn’t right next to the living room so that she could have a quiet space to sleep. God blew us away – it has 4 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, a garage that is long so that we can even have a frig in the back of it to store pop and food for our pool parties, is 2 blocks from church, has an open concept living room and dining room that are HUGE (in our eyes), and there is an upstairs that Mazy can sleep in eventually (after she is a bit older and doesn’t wake up at night).
So now we were left waiting. And WAITING. We had put in our offer, including the “love” letter. We were told the seller’s realtor and the sellers were going to meet Sunday night to discuss the offers.
And this is why we have an AMAZING realtor! She helped us get through those crazy 48 hours! Her name is Aubrea Burchfield from West Michigan Rocks.com. We have not dealt with many realtors in our life, but we have had nothing but great experiences. From our initial conversations with Aubrea a month ago, when we started to look at homes, to the waiting hours, she has gone above and beyond our expectations. In fact, I found myself sending her little emails throughout the weekend telling her I was on pins and needles, telling her I was freaking out, and not being afraid to ask ANY question. Let’s be honest, I don’t have a clue what I am doing when buying a home, and I never ONCE felt that I was asking a weird or absurd question. And we have yet to even meet her (which we hope to one day!) She has been determined from the beginning to help us find a home, but has also helped us make the best choices, which in the end, helped make our offer stand out a bit more. So, if you are looking to buy a home, PLEASE contact Aubrea Burchfield at aubrea
Sunday afternoon I finally emailed Aubrea again, asking her when they were meeting, and it was scheduled for 6:00 Michigan time. I felt sick all day. Again, me of little faith. Then that afternoon, as I was reflecting on the past 48 hours, I realized that God had used so many little details, to point us to this house, so why would this not be His will? Did I have too little of faith? God gave me no reason to doubt and so I tried to push those doubts to the side. Easier said than done! Aubrea even suggested going to a theme park to help pass time – what a great idea! At 5:45 (our time), she emailed me saying she was still waiting, but would call them in an hour if she hadn’t heard (I’m telling you, she’s awesome). Then at 7:05 our time, two hours after the initial meeting time, she called. I panicked.
Little did we know that the during the congregational prayer time at North Street CRC that night, someone had requested prayers for us, that we would find a home. They had NO clue that at that exact time when they prayed, was when the seller and their realtor were meeting. Is that again, a complete Godcidence?
All I heard on the other line was…
“How would you like to be homeowners?”
I completely lost it. I put my head in my hands, as all the stress, the worry, the wondering, had finally left. It was confirmed. God truly had led us to this very moment for this specific reason – to make this a place to call home. As our friends sat beside us and Mazy tried to wipe away my “sad” tears (as she called them, though they were clearly happy tears), we were now homeowners of our dream home. There were 11 showings total in a little more than 48 hours, with multiple offers on the table, and ours was chosen – all thanks God, our realtor, and to the letter that my brother in law (and my younger sister also suggested it too), recommended us to write. Apparently it had the sellers in tears and little did they know, they brought us to tears too. A family we have never met, but a family that has deeply impacted our lives.
After Dan hung up, we joined hands with our friends, praying and thanking God for giving us the most perfect home to do youth ministry in and to raise our daughter. I honestly was in complete shock, and it took a little bit for those tears to stop falling.
Finding a home in a market that is out of this world, seemed next to impossible. But as Dan said, he knew that God would just pop up THE home for the Sterks and at that moment, we would have to jump on it. And that’s exactly what happened. God had orchestrated everything just perfectly, so that THIS would be the perfect time. And now we will close a few weeks before we move.
And I am saving the best for last – TO GOD BE THE GLORY. We only did what we felt He was calling us to do – offer what we did, jump on it when we did, but God truly did it all – and the thing is, HE was the one who prompted us to do all of those things. And He put the most amazing realtor in our lives for this situation – handling a crazy Minnesota couple who just wanted to buy a home in a crazy market. ONLY GOD.
I hope that this story doesn’t come across as just us buying home. It is about God working in His perfect timing, paving the path to make His name known, and making sure this had nothing to do with us, but everything to do with Him.
What in your life are you waiting for? What has God made very clear? What little things is He doing to pave the path?
So here is a picture of our new home! A place to call home, a place to raise our daughter, a place to do ministry, and a place to spread God’s love in. And a home we have yet to see in person :).