The Band Played

The Band Played

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Stories of Faith

The Band Played

As your faith is strengthened you will find that there is no longer the need to
have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will
flow with them, to your great delight and benefit.

~Emmanuel

For years I’d dreamed about pulling up to a house and knowing that’s the house—the house I want to build my family in. I vowed not to be like everyone who tells househunting horror stories.

My newlywed husband, Ward, and I had spent many months praying for the perfect house to start our new life together in. We’d done all our research on the cities, neighborhoods and school districts, and the market was perfect.

But after three months of looking, I felt lost. I was becoming my worst nightmare. It was hard to find a house in Southern California that had the appeal of back East. I grew up in a very rural place with unique houses and large yards with no fences. But here they all looked alike—and I hated stucco! Was it too much to ask for a cute English-style home with wood trim, a garden and picket fence? That was my petition to God every night.

Our Realtor continued to patiently take us everywhere and kept a positive attitude as we declined each house. But I was losing it. Emotionally exhausted and frustrated, I thought that it was going to happen. I would have to settle for a salmon-colored stucco house with the same garage door and number of windows as everyone else.

My husband was so good. “Don’t worry, Maria,” he’d say. “Keep praying and have faith. God knows where we’re supposed to live, and He has the perfect house for us.” I was so thankful for Ward’s faith and strength; he kept me going and comforted me after each stucco house we saw.

One Friday morning, our Realtor called with a new listing in Costa Mesa—a three-bedroom house with a large backyard. Since I worked in the area and our church was there, I told Ward I’d go by and look at it before work. I knew exactly where the house was. It had a good neighborhood and was located near the college I attended. As I rounded the corner, I saw a For Sale sign up the street—that must be the house. As I got nearer, I couldn’t believe my eyes. A white picket fence surrounded a white, green-trimmed, English-style house with an old brick sidewalk entrance up to the front door. That was the house—the house I wanted to build my family in.

I was so excited, I called Ward even before I parked my car. “I found the house! Quick, you have to come! We have to put an offer on it today!”

The Realtor met us there, and as Ward and I entered the house, I felt him cringe. He hated the inside. As we walked around and looked at all the old windows and stained glass, I could see beyond the seventies’ rust-colored shag rug, dark blue drapes and pink walls. I could see past the old bathrooms and popcorn ceiling. Then we stepped into the backyard; it was like stepping back East. The large lawn was lined with trees, and there was even an old willow, just like at Grandma’s. The big yard was out of place in Southern California. I knew then this was the house.

Still unsure, Ward suggested we needed to pray about it and sleep on it. There had been no offers on the house, and, since it had been on the market for six months, they were lowering the price. So we felt pretty comfortable about sleeping on it.

After a full day of continued house shopping, Ward found another house he wanted, so we were both stressed to the max. We lay on the bed that night, talking over both homes and praying, then finally falling asleep... in our clothes. We must have slept pretty hard, because when we woke, we both laughed—we still had our shoes on!

That morning, we decided to make an offer on the house I loved. As we drove to look at it one more time, all the while I was praying, “God, please show me a sign.” We exited the freeway, turned on the street and parked outside. Ward noticed a neighbor doing lawn work, so he strolled over to chat with him and find out his opinion of the neighborhood.

As I sat in the car praying, I heard a band practicing at the high school just across the field. It brought back memories of my high school days, when I was in the band. I sat reflecting, enjoying the community feel. Would Ward feel that too? Or would he say, “Do you hear that band? I don’t think I could live with that next door!”

Ward walked back to the car and said, “Did you hear the band playing? Isn’t that cool? It really makes this place feel like a community.”

I knew right then this was my sign from God. We must have this house. Ward agreed. We called the Realtor and went straight to her office to sign an offer. We eagerly told her about the band playing, about how much the neighborhood felt like our community and how we’d love to live there.

She told us there were three offers pending on the house. Just that morning, three offers had come in. The homeowners would look at them and accept the one they wanted.

My heart sank. There weren’t any offers yesterday! As I began the woulda, coulda, shoulda game in my head and out loud, Ward put me in my place. “God knows the house for us. Don’t worry.”

But worry—and pray—I did all day long.

Early that evening we finished up dinner and talked, coming to peace with the house deal, be it ours or not. The phone rang; it was our Realtor. The house was ours! The owners accepted us above the others because of something our agent had written in a letter to them.

A letter? What letter? I asked her. She admitted writing about Ward and me, how our church and work were in that neighborhood, how we had just gotten married and how, when we heard the band practicing at the high school, we knew that was the house for us. The owners said they chose us because we liked the band playing.

My sign. God’s sign. Music to my ears.

~Maria Nickless

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