After such an extended absence, I feel like I have some explaining to do. For anyone who was left hanging by my last post and has been wondering what happened, I apologize. The simple answer is that things got really, really crazy and I didn’t have the time or energy to write about it all.
So, if you will recall, September 11th was the last day we could be in our apartment, due to the 60 day notice that our landlords gave us. As of the end of July, we hadn’t been able to find any place that had the three bedrooms we needed and was in our price range. Anything big enough was way out of our price range. Anything in our price range was two bedrooms or less, and I didn’t think that any landlords would be willing to rent such a place to a family of five. I started feeling desperate.
My husband and I had been praying and really seeking God to find his will for us in the situation and we were looking for any open door. We prayed about moving away, but we both felt strongly that it was not time for us to leave the Bay Area. Things were going well for us at our church, in our ministries and at our children’s school. We believed we were somehow supposed to stay, we just didn’t know where.
Because of the way my payday fell in the month of August, I had to wait until the 4th to pay the rent. This is technically late, but we have always had a 5 day grace period, so I didn’t think much about it. On the 2nd, we received a 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit from the landlords. Again, I wasn’t too worried about it, because I knew I would have it on the 4th. On the 3rd, my husband and I struck up a conversation with our neighbor. He had heard about the 3-day notice and, since his mother owns several rental properties and has dealt with many evictions over the years, he shared his knowledge with us. He said that by law, the landlord could refuse to accept our rent, and if they did that, we would be bound by the 3-day notice and would have to be out of our place in 3 working days instead of the 35 days we had remaining on our 60 day Notice.
I started to really panic. I went upstairs and started doing research on the internet. I found really conflicting information about what the law was and lots of renter horror stories. My brain went into overdrive trying to come to grips with the possibility that we might have to be out in 2 days. The logical part of my mind believed that because it was a “Pay or Quit” notice, not a “3-day Notice to Vacate” that we should be fine, but I couldn’t be sure. The emotional side of me began to fall apart. I didn’t feel like I could handle anything else. As it was, I went through each day barely holding myself together. I was hanging onto the promise that God would take care of us by my finger nails. The fear that our time had run out a month earlier than expected pushed me over the edge.
Since the kids were safely in bed, I went to my room and completely broke down. I found myself on my knees at the side of my bed sobbing. I tried to plan where we would go and what we would do, but I couldn’t think straight. The darkness of the night felt like it was pressing in on me as my fear became overwhelming and blocked out every other thought. I had trusted God, tried to serve Him when and wherever I believed he wanted me to, and now, when things were already a huge mess, they were about to get so much worse. I couldn’t understand why we were being abandoned this way.
Eventually, I started to realize that this onslaught of emotion that I couldn’t get a handle on could be the result of a spiritual attack. I had a mental image of demons all around me pressing in on me and taking advantage of my mental and emotional exhaustion to capitalize on this moment of weakness. The only words I could form were, “God, help me!” I said it again and again.
A little while later, a song came to mind. It was an old one that I grew up singing in church but hadn’t heard in years, called “In the Name of Jesus”. If you don’t know it, here are the lyrics:
In the name of Jesus
In the name of Jesus
We have the victory
In the name of Jesus
In the name of Jesus
Demons will have to flee
When we stand on the name of Jesus
Tell me who can stand before?
In the mighty name of Jesus
We have the victory
It’s a simple little song, but I grabbed onto it with everything I had left. I climbed up onto my bed and laid there singing that song, softly, over and over. Slowly, I felt peace begin to grow in my heart. The emotional darkness began to lift and I began to relax. Whatever happened the next day, whether the landlord took the rent or not, I started to believe that it would be ok. God had always taken care of us before, we wouldn’t leave us now. I went to sleep that night still concerned, but no longer terrified of what would happen the next day.
In the morning, I saw the landlord and she greeted me, just as happy and cheerful as can be, as if she had not just given us a 60-day notice followed by a 3-day notice. I asked if she had gotten the rent we left for her and she said, “Oh, yes I did. Thank you!”, sounding as if she was not at all concerned about it. I didn’t know whether to be relieved that it was all fine, incredulous that she was so flippant about the whole situation and seemingly unaware (or uncaring) of the really difficult and stressful situation she had put us in, or angry that I had spent the evening before being so tormented by possibility of something that wasn’t an issue at all. Really, I felt all three of those.
Since we were now assured of a place to live for the month of August, I got back to the discouraging work of apartment hunting. We put in an application at a “low income” housing community and were told that there would be a 4 month wait, at least. We checking into several other such places, but they all wanted application fees and credit check fees. We could have spent hundreds of dollars just applying at apartment complexes, let alone the 1st month’s rent, deposit, etc. We just didn’t have the money to do it and time was running out. We kept packing and praying and looking. Our friends were also looking and praying.
On August 18th, the moms group I belong to met and I shared with them my fear and worry about the situation. That night, my good friend shared with me that her husband had helped another family that we know from church to move some of their big furniture. They were moving in with the wife’s father since her mom had passed away a few years werlier and dad was all alone in their big house. It came out, while they were moving sofas, that they were interested in renting out their condo, but didn’t really know where to start.
I dared to hope that this could be the answer we were looking for. Since we were on friendly terms with them, I sent the wife an email. I found out from her that it was a two bedroom condo, which was smaller than what we wanted, but they knew about out family situation and didn’t have a problem with all 5 of us living there. Except for the number of bedrooms, the place had everything else we needed (and some things we didn’t need, but wanted). The price was right, too. About one week later, we met to sign the papers. It all fell into place so beautifully that I had a hard time not thinking that it was too good to be true.
The day the place was ready for us to move in was the very day we had to be out of the old place. Moving day was one of the most difficult and exhausting days of my life, but we made it. We had several friends and neighbors show up to help us and we really couldn’t have done it without them. They were my heroes that day. Not only did they work really hard, they encouraged us when it looked hopeless and we didn’t think we would get it done in one day. I am so thankful for them!
Living in our new place has been a big adjustment. We’re quite a bit farther from work, church and school than we used to be. We spend a lot more time driving and a lot more money on gas. We live in peace, though. We rent from people that care about us and will fix things when they need to be fixed. My kids can go outside to play in the front yard. I don’t have to yell at them any more for jumping in the house because there are no downstairs neighbors to worry about disturbing. It’s a better, quieter neighborhood. And, we can see the stars at night! (Maybe that sounds strange, but we really couldn’t see them where we lived before.)
So, God came through. In spite of my fear and doubt and worry, he took care of it in a way that I never could have planned or expected. He took a terrible situation and used it to get us into a much better one. It was scary and difficult and horrible, but I’m so glad it happened and that we are on the other side of it now.
Have you been through something that looked hopeless but God showed up with an amazing solution? I’d love to hear your story!