88: A Home of Our Own

88: A Home of Our Own

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

A Home of Our Own

Home, the spot of earth supremely blest,
A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.

~Robert Montgomery

I dreaded telling him. “Ryan, we’re going to have to move again.”

My nine-year-old son just stared at me. “Mom, why? You said we’d live here a long time.”

Since his dad and I divorced, Ryan and I had moved three times already, and he’d been to four different schools. We were both frustrated with renting.

“Do we have to?” Ryan asked. I knew he was deeply disappointed. So was I.

“Unfortunately, the landlord is going to sell this house. I’m sorry, honey. There’s nothing I can do.”

We had been in the house for a year, and we loved it. It was in a quiet—though low-income—neighborhood in the town of Anderson, a few miles south of the city where I worked. Living in Anderson was ideal for us. A good elementary school was close by and we liked our neighbors.

The street we lived on was actually a circular block, made up of 120 similar homes. Some of the houses were owner-occupied and some—like ours—were renter-occupied. Some were well cared for and some… not so much. But we were happy there.

Sometimes in the early evening we’d walk around the entire circle and talk about the day and things we noticed about the other houses.

“This one needs paint,” Ryan said quietly.

“Yeah, but it has a nice fenced yard in front, and a great dog.”

Then one evening, we both noticed one particular house. It was as if it had appeared out of nowhere.

“Look at that one, Mom!”

We paused a moment. “I like the color,” I said. “This house looks loved. Why haven’t we noticed it before?”

He shrugged. “I like the apple tree.”

From then on it became the apple tree house, and we took special notice of it whenever we passed.

After the landlord broke the news to us, I looked for a rental in Anderson but found nothing suitable. With no other choice, we moved back to the city, about twelve miles north. Our house in the city was newer and bigger than our Anderson house, but somehow it didn’t feel right. We never settled in and always felt restless there.

I knew I had to find us a place we could stay indefinitely, a place where Ryan could make friends and continue in one school. I’d heard about a program in our area that helped low-income people make a down payment and buy a home. As far as anyone knew, the program had run out of money and wasn’t active. Yet somehow, I found a phone number for the program director and wasted no time in calling.

“This is Lisa,” a woman said. I breathed a silent prayer, and introduced myself.

“Lisa, I don’t have much money, but I can pay a mortgage if I can get one. Can you help me?”

Lisa shrieked with a loud laugh, and my heart sank. Evidently, everyone was right. The program was toast.

“I cannot believe you called me today of all days!” Lisa said. “We ran out of money ages ago. We didn’t even keep a waiting list because we had no idea when we’d see more funds. Then last night, out of nowhere, I got new funding, and you are the first caller.”

It was my turn to shriek. As I listened to her instructions, I prayed quietly, “Please God, please God, please God.” One thing I knew, this funding was not “out of nowhere.” It was from God.

Then we talked money and what I could afford.

Again, Lisa laughed. “You’re not going to believe this. I just got a listing in your price range. The only thing is, it’s not in the city. It’s down in Anderson.”

My heart leaped. “Are you kidding me? We love Anderson!”

“A pastor owns the house. His family has been transferred already, so it’s sitting empty. They need to sell it fast. Can you meet me there tomorrow?”

I agreed, and then she told me the address. I didn’t recognize the house number, but I sure knew the street name. It was on the same circular block we’d lived on before. I knew none of this was coincidental. The next day Ryan and I drove to Anderson to meet Lisa.

“You be the navigator,” I said, handing him a paper. “We’re looking for number 1935.”

We drove up the circle, past our old house, and Ryan began calling out addresses. “There’s 1889.” A few houses later, “1909, we’re getting closer, Mom.”

Then a thought occurred to me. “Ryan, wouldn’t it be amazing if this house turns out to be the apple tree house?”

No sooner did I say those words then we saw it, number 1935. Out of 120 houses on the block and all the houses in Anderson, the one we were going to see was indeed our apple tree house.

“Ryan,” I said solemnly, “this is a God thing.”

Minutes later, we were inside. It needed a few minor fixes, but Ryan and I both knew this was our new home. Standing in our future kitchen, Lisa started the paperwork, including a check of my finances.

With Lisa’s help, the process went smoothly. My offer was accepted, and in no time the house was ours. It was everything I’d prayed for—big trees, affordable payments, a school Ryan liked, and a fenced yard for a dog. The day we moved in, I promised Ryan we would not move again until he finished high school… and we didn’t.

That was twenty years ago. Ryan is a grown man, but I’m still here in my apple tree house. I could have moved to a newer, fancier place by now. But this is my miracle house. With the economy in turmoil, I’ve watched as numerous friends and family members have lost their big, beautiful homes to foreclosure. Each time I shared their heartbreak, and quietly thanked God for my humble but affordable home.

My dad always told me, “God’s not often early, but He’s never late.” This house and the funding to buy it seemed to come out of nowhere. But I believe when the house came on the market, God covered it with His hand, till we were ready.

Oh, and there’s one more important thing about this house, which it took me a long time to notice. Our house number is 1935, which just happens to be a combination of my birthday (January 9th or 1/9) and Ryan’s birthday (March 5th or 3/5). I believe God stamped this house with our special number, a sign that He’d set it aside just for us.

Whenever I see our number on the front of the house, 1935, I smile. And I hear God’s voice say to me, “You’re welcome.”

~Teresa Ambord

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