The rational part of me said that we needed to wait for “the right time.” But somehow, as we discussed it that night, something deep inside of us was activated. “Maybe I should call a realtor and see what she would say about selling our house…” Gabe said.
We decided to take that first step…
A week later, we were sitting in our living room signing a contract to put our house on the market. We were expecting the realtor to give us six-months worth of improvements before we officially listed, but instead she gave us a few weeks to get it ready, and within three weeks, it was up for sale. When our friends and neighbors noticed the “For Sale” sign in our front yard, they naturally asked where we were moving to.
I'm sure most of them assumed we were looking for a bigger house or better neighborhood, as that is the usual American path. In reality, we were praying about what country to move to, and trusting God to open a door for us.
Some people who move overseas can point to a clear call to a certain place. In our case, we were more open. We simply were reading the Gospels and feeling a tug to do more help the poor and marginalized. There was an orphanage in Mexico we had been serving at for twenty years– a week here, two weeks there– however long we could manage. Every time we went, our hearts were moved by the children and we joked with the staff that we wanted to come live with them and work alongside them caring for the kids. In April of 2014, we took our four kids on a spring break trip to that orphanage and asked them if we REALLY COULD come live and work with them. They said YES!
Our house had been on the market since November and had not sold. We had heard many stories of others who decided to go into some kind of ministry overseas and sold their houses immediately, for their full asking price. And yet, after six months, we still didn’t have one single offer, even one below our asking price. And there was no way we could afford to pay our mortgage payment in Ohio and also pay rent in Mexico at the same time.I have to admit, I wondered. Did God not want us to go? If He did, why wasn’t our house selling? In the midst of this time, a suggestion was made that we consider turning our house into a rental. We had never considered that, but once we decided to try it, our home was rented in less than a week!God had a different plan to cover our house payment than we had thought of! The next step was getting rid of our stuff. We had a garage sale and sold 90% of stuff… furniture, toys, clothes, lawnmowers and tools. We did keep some sentimental things in storage, but most of it went. I have never thought that I was materialistic, but it was a little harder than I thought to give up the matching couch set that we had just bought the year before… and the huge dollhouse… and yes, the Keurig! I thought it would be hard on the kids, but they actually had a much easier time parting with their toys than I thought! Each child kept out one box of toys and a suitcase of clothes and that was it.
It was ten months after we took the first step of calling the realtor, and we were on our way to live and serve in another country!
After a year back in Ohio, we are excited to head back to Mexico again next fall. We have developed a new business focused on parent coaching, and we are looking forward to helping other families make positive changes in their families and achieve their crazy, out-of-the box dreams.
I know that most of you reading this are probably not thinking about moving your family to another country, but there may be something big that you are contemplating. As you feel that stirring in your heart, let this story be an encouragement to you. As I reflected on our process of taking a leap of faith, here are three takeaways…
1.) Don’t wait for the perfect time. It will never come. Take the first step toward your dream today. We had a mortgage and debts to pay off. We took a leap and trusted that we would still figure out how to pay our bills (and loans) while moving forward.
2.) You don’t have to have it all figured out before you start. Even if you have a plan, it might change anyway! We put our house up for sale not knowing where we would go when we moved out, but it all worked out!
3.) Trust in God for solutions, not specifics. I prayed specifically for our house to sell. Instead, God provided a different solution when we were able to rent it out instead.
It will be worth it. God will carry you through the parts that are hard (there will be those days) but He will also be at work in you in ways you can’t even imagine. Thanks to that one year in Mexico, we saw amazing things happen in our family’s life, and we now can’t wait to return.
God stirs up dreams in our hearts for a reason. Whatever you are seeking, may you have the faith and courage to just take the first step today! And if you want some practical ways to serve as a family, here are some ideas!