January 1, 2021 marked a new year with high hopes! It’s the day people, worldwide, threw away the 2020 calendar hoping never to return to that relentlessly challenging time. I too want to be done with the hard stuff and am hoping for a brighter year ahead! I’ve been praying that God is using it all for our good.
A NEW YEAR
There is an exciting new door opening up for me in this new year! In September 2020, I wrote shared about my dreams for a Hawaiian home, giving some back story to our (at that time) five week trip to Big Island. At that time, Jeff and I were in Kailua Kona and beginning a search for the right property. A lot has happened since then. A LOT. I eagerly share the developments that have occurred since then, giving you a tour of our current digs!
(If you missed it, here is a link to “Cooking Up A Hawaiian Dream”.)
Have you ever felt like you needed to pay special attention because you were being prepared for something? The specific challenges that I had in 2020 seemed to me, just that. Each step of progress, not just toward a second home, but in this stage of life, came not with ease, but with difficulties and disappointments. For instance, we became empty nesters, but the “how” of that title was not pleasant. Jeff also retired, yet our expectations of what that looked like as a couple differed between us and was heightened under the confines of Covid’s stay-at-home mandates. Good things seemed to come, but with a price tag.
However, it went the opposite direction too. We had situations arise that were seemingly sour but turned out all for our good. An example of this was our son’s graduation from college. It came without pomp or circumstance, and included nixed career plans due to the pandemic. He moved back in with us. This was never his intent, but the surprise proved to be a blessing to this Mama! Long hours spent together have gifted me the ability to get to know this boy-turned-man in a new way. Another illustration of bad flipped good occurred when our daughter began the ideal part-time job which turned out to be a money-laundering scam. This expensive lesson was just the thing to bring us closer. “You don’t trust me!” changed to “You were looking out for me.”
And then there was the process of the Hawaiian house. This blueprint of blessings coming through a startling obstacle course continued and applied here too.
We prequalified in September for a loan, a system of submitting both personal and business financial documents. It took work, but when we left for Hawaii, we had the approval letter in hand.
After two weeks of mandatory quarantining, we were quite ripe to begin our house hunt. We’d been cooped up with our anxious engines revving and house number one looked promising! Indeed, house number one was a dream! With an unusual layout and private pool courtyard and ocean view, we felt we’d found something truly special! After the usual back and forth, our offer was accepted.
Now, if you have purchased a home, or spent much time watching HGTV’s House Hunters show, you probably know that there are always compromises when choosing a house. Jeff and I had our wish list, but we knew that we would have to give-and-take. We took an ocean view as well as a pool, but we gave on purchase price. Swallowing hard, but remembering God’s previous provisions for us, we moved forward.
One of the selling points was that the house had a Short-Term Vacation Rental (“STVR”) license that, in non-Covid circumstances, could bring in good rental income. Managed well, that would help us with house upkeep in the months when we would not be in Hawaii. It seemed like a viable answer to the financial hit.
Our mortgage loan officer then announced he quit his job and our file was on someone else’s desk. After making a few phone calls, we had to find a new Lender and begin the financial process anew. In doing so, we realized we might not make the contract closing deadline. Oh, how we scrambled and scrambled! Like eggs in a hot pan there were many sticking points and much concern about failure.
Next the Seller became angry and terse with our Agent about potential delay. He threatened us with pulling the deal for a cash offer. But he did not, and by early December, the sale closed.
With the deal done, there was much rejoicing!
Shortly thereafter came the information that the STVR on the home was not in good standing for 2020. The Seller had not rented the house and it was a use-it-or-lose-it scenario. This round felt more like eggs in a frying pan situation…sizzle and spit! I was angry with the Seller for being deceptive. Yet, we found a way, with amazing local help, to rent the house for one night in 2020. That one night was all that was necessary to keep the license (besides filing and paying the state taxes)!
We arrived at the house on December 30th. Excited as expectant grandparents, we entered our new place. Prior to going inside, Jeff and I walked the perimeter. An odd door on the exterior raised Jeff’s curiosity. Opening the door, we found a leaking pipe showering the water heater, which was standing in pool. The walls were soaked. Further inspection revealed buckling floors in the adjacent bedroom. Ugh!!! An emergency project had run up to greet us.
I was home, however. A home we prayed about, dreamed about and planned for! We had landed and were finally here! How could I not accept the bad as the pathway to good? This has been the over-arching theme for me through 2020 and also moving forward, to trust that God’s path, whatever it entails, is all for my good.
“All for our good” is not unique to me, it is written into the storyline of every Bible icon. Which hero has a story of blessing, blessing, no strife? Abraham left the “known” of home to receive his promise. Jacob was required to labor twice as long as his contract stated to get what he was working toward. Joseph’s prize was at the end of years of abuse by family, defamation by an employer and being forgotten by fellow prisoners. And what of Job?
“Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” Job 2:10 NLT
I don’t know about you, but my memory lags most when I need these examples of taking the bad with the good. Self-pity whispers if God was for you, life would be easier. And if not those words then perhaps pain is punishment.
Beware the sneaky snake!
If it weren’t in writing, then I would have long forgotten the truth:
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.” Genesis 50:20 NLT
One of my all-time favorite Bible verses, and potentially the most challenging to me comes from James, the brother of Jesus.
“Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 NASB
The word ALL, used in both James and Genesis, rings like a toll bell reminder…the trials we face are meant to grow us, not punish us.
So then, can we consider that horror story of theft, fire, death and disease that makes Job famous, as joy? What about the events of 2020? How about the blessing of a flooded Hawaii home? What if…what if…God is doing His darndest to use all this trouble for human improvement and my bad attitude is in the way? What do I miss when my heart is out of sync with His?
In the most challenging of times, Abraham faced God.
Jacob felt God.
Joseph heard God.
Job saw God.
What about me? What about you? How will we sense His presence with us through it all? If our hearts are hard, we might just miss God altogether.
I can’t know what 2021 has in store for my lifeline, but I want to begin this year by remembering that the pathway God is using, one that includes both the easy, instant blessings and the work-hard-and-learn-skills-method, all for my good. It’s time…this year…I choose to be in agreement with Him in this.
May you also be in active agreement of His good works this year,
P.S. I really wanted to share photos of our Hawaiian home! However, new limitations on the website builder prevented my ability to do so. If you’d like to see some of it, contact me and I will send you a pic or two!