Monday, February 22, 2010

Raising your sights

We’re moving this week. Last Monday, after sending this letter, I got an anonymous tip from on an apartment listed in the classifieds. The listing showed a small room for rent on a month-to-month basis. The room looked too small to fit both of us, but something about the circumstances made me want to call anyway. We called and learned that the room was too small, but the lister (a 19-year-old saving money to serve a mission) was living in a larger room in the same apartment and was willing to move. He had originally intended to live with his cousin in the master bedroom and rent out the smaller room, but his cousin pulled out – an incredible blessing for us. So we’ll help him move from one room to another (he’s on crutches), decide exactly what we’re going to take with us (and what will get stuffed in storage), and then move. A hundred thanks to our anonymous angels and everyone else for your support.

This week was a little scatterbrained. I probably spent 20 hours working on a website for Nature’s Fusions and finally have something I can live with (albeit temporarily) – It’s not your normal website. I don’t do html very well yet, but my desktop publishing skills aren’t terrible. So, instead of putting all the information for the site online, the site links to a pdf document which is an online, interactive catalog. It’s totally functional – with shopping cart and all – just not very typical. I like to think it’s simple, sort of elegant, and functional. And at least it’s not an eyesore.

                Other than preparing to move, working with crazy deadlines at the MTC, and staring at pdf documents until 3 in the morning, we’re also looking at buying a home here in Provo. Yes – buying a home. I know that’s a major commitment, and a huge jump, but it feels like the right direction. And He has never led me wrong. And, again, it is amazing to see how the Lord has acted in our behalf over and over again. When we learned that we needed to move, I started looking for houses in the Provo area. I was looking for something super-small – anything with four walls and a roof and I would call it good. I finally settled with the absolute cheapest option – a hut at the bottom of the hill (literally – it is not really much more than a hut) that was on the market for about $60,000. It had only the land it was on, and was attached to another hut. The roof had fallen in, the door was off the hinge, and even though the listing said the water was ‘sanitary,’ I wondered if we would have to buy bottled for a little while. But hey – my brother has lived in Nicaragua and I’ve lived out of a suitcase. We just needed something. We went as far as talking with mortgage officers and contacting real estate agents here in the area to buy the house. But it wasn’t to be – the Lord intervened and the man who had listed the home declared bankruptcy – only days before we almost bought it. The house wouldn’t be even available for listing on the market for at least a few months. Divine intervention – you have to love it. The next choice – found by my brother – was a much larger home, but still within our price range. We went through all the routes and found, to our dismay, that it had been bought already. Sad day. The third option was a big house, too, but out of our price range (which, truthfully, means we have no good reason to be looking at massive houses in the first place) when we learned there was another offer on the table and it needed foundation work. So it looked like back to square one. Except that then I had a shock of thought – just offer to buy the second house from the guy who bought it as an investment property. Even paying more to him, it would still be the deal of the century – the largest house anyone in our family owns for less than anyone bought their home. At $17 per square foot, the equivalent would be buying a 2500 square foot home for $40,000 in a neighborhood where similar homes retail for eight to ten times the price. So we tried it. We called the real estate agent, told her we wanted to make an offer on the house her client had just bought, and he said he would be willing to accept it. We’ve already seen the house and it is massive, beautiful, and amazing. I’m hopeful that it will work out. There is definitely work to be done – foundation work to close a 1-inch crack in the basement, patching cracks in drywall, some flooring issues, but the “maximum” cost for foundation work according to the websites I’ve seen is about $30,000, and most say the high end is around $20,000. It could end up being more since the house is big. Other than the foundation, though, we can do much of the work ourselves. I’ve wanted another job anyway. And my brother had an idea – make it safe, then rent it out to single guys in exchange for work hours. We know dozens of guys who used to work in construction; some would jump at the opportunity for reduced rent in exchange for work they already know how to do. We would save money, they would save money, and the work would go faster. But we’ll need to buy the house first. It still may not work out. I’ll keep you posted.

                I think it’s interesting to see how the Lord so easily changes our focus and raises our sights. I was more than happy to pay for an overpriced, decrepit hut on the side of the road; instead, we may be buying a ridiculously priced mansion on the top of the mountain. I think that the Lord works that way with us in almost every situation. We have a vision of what we want to accomplish – what we want in life – and He intervenes. Tactfully, He informs us that our plans are not really up to par, and then shows us His vision – what He wants us to accomplish with our lives. And then He lets us choose. It can be a scary thing to see the Lord lay out a blueprint of what He wants you to accomplish. I’ve been wondering what I’ll be doing this summer – and this could be the answer. But as we follow His guidance and do what He asks, we will always be blessed.

I know that God lives. He loves us. He is actively involved in our lives… sometimes, so active that I stop and wonder. He really does care about us – about our families, about our dreams, our hopes, and our futures. He wants us to be happy, more than anything else in the world. And so I invite you to turn to Him and ask Him for advice. Give Him your plans – your goals, your visions, and your dreams, and ask Him for help to accomplish them. Maybe you’re better at making plans than I am – and He will help you to accomplish your goals. Most of the time in my life, however, the Lord lifts my sights and changes my visions… and teaches me something about who I am and who I might become someday. I think He’ll do the same for you. Then go out and be missionaries!

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