**Disclaimer- this will probably be the longest blog post I’ll ever make, but I promise you it is worth the read, beginning to end.**
It’s no secret that I have a strong deep rooted Christian faith. I love me some Jesus. I credit most of it to my parents for raising my sister and I in a Christian (well Catholic turned Episcopalian turned Christian- same diff) home. Atom & I are very involved with our beloved church here in San Diego (Newbreak) and both serve on ministry teams. Atom teaches Sunday school & I sing/play guitar on the worship team. Are we perfect Christians? Pffffft heck no. If that were the case my name would be Jesus and not Theresa. One of my biggest struggles with my faith is giving up control and letting God handle it. I’m a control freak. I’ll freely admit that. I have to know what’s happening and when and how. Period. I can’t help it. It’s the way I’m wired. But I am slowly turning that corner and changing my thought process.
Stress is not my friend. There are different kinds of stress. When I’m at work (I’m a Respiratory Therapist & work in a hospital) I absolutely thrive on stress. It’s when I perform my best. Saving lives is what I do & I’m as cool as a cucumber. If you can’t breathe you can’t live. It’s my job to make sure I stay clear headed at all times and keep you breathing. Whether it means putting a tube down your throat or doing CPR to restart your heart. No freak out moments (at least not during the emergencies– there have been plenty of times I’ve had a breakdown afterwards). When it comes to stress at home I can be a complete basket case (just ask Atom). It’s the unknown that gets me every time. That’s the control freak in me for sure.
I want to walk you all through what has been the most profoundly faith strengthening experience of Atom and my lives. Yes, this post is about to get very Jesus-y (& probably pretty long) and if you aren’t a believer that’s totally okay! Just please read on because what we have experienced in the past 8 months has been astounding and I promise you’ll pick your jaw up off the floor when we’re done. So stick with me. I’ve briefly talked about how we found the building in previous posts (& in the “about” section) but I want to start from the very beginning and go from there. Ok here we go….
About 5 years ago Atom & I decided we wanted to leave California. Leave San Diego, the only place we have ever lived. We didn’t know where we wanted to move to, but we figured we weren’t in a huge hurry & would take our time figuring it out. I’ve always loved visiting our extended family (distant cousins etc) in Indiana growing up and that was definitely on our short list of places to potentially go. When we were visiting/road tripping there in the fall of 2013 for a family reunion (when I was 6 months pregnant with our third child) we pretty much made up our minds that we would be moving to Indiana within the next 3-5 years. My parents had told us they planned on eventually retiring out there which was a win win! We hadn’t decided on a specific area yet but at least we knew the state! Fast forward to summer of 2016. We flew to Indiana for my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary party. We decided to spend 2 weeks there, one week for family festivities and the second week driving around figuring out what areas we liked & looking at farmland and parcel sizes to get a better idea of what we wanted. Yes I said farmland. For as long as I’ve known Atom (over 20 years!) he has wanted to be a farmer. That man can grow anything. Just look at our backyard here in San Diego. We wanted to buy a turn of the century farmhouse with a ton of land. This was our plan. One afternoon we plotted out our route for the day, heading to some other nearby towns and seeing what real estate dot com had to offer. We stumbled across the super cute little town of Huntington. I was in love. The beautiful Victorian homes and charm of this town screamed “live here.” We checked out some farmland/farmhouses and by this time our 2.5 year old was melting down as it was nearing her nap time. We decided to drive through a neighborhood to get back to the highway to head back to our hotel so she could nap (& our 2 boys could go swimming). We rounded a corner & BAM! There was this gigantic Freemason Temple with a for sale sign in the front. For funsies, Atom called the number on the sign. He was curious to know what a building of this magnitude was going for. The realtor was super nice & asked if we would like to see the inside and that he could come over & show it to us. I said HECK YES! Old architecture is amazing and I was excited to see the inside. Also, the allure of it being a Freemason temple made it all the more awesome. I’ve always been fascinated by “secret societies” and after going through all of this we have the utmost respect for the masons and their organization. They have been some of the nicest, most caring people I’ve ever met in my life. We spent the next two hours looking through every floor and room (that we had access to) of the building. Our dreams of owning a farmhouse and land were quickly doing a 180 and morphing into dreams of what we could do with this place. Once we eventually made it back to our hotel Atom & I talked more about it. We came to the conclusion that it wasn’t practical nor the reason we wanted to move out of California. Atom called the realtor and thanked him for his time but that we were not interested at this time. No big deal. Early the next morning Atom woke me up around 4am & said we needed to talk. This guy NEVER wakes up to talk in the middle of the night so I knew something big was up. He told me he was awakened to the sound of the loudest thunder he had ever heard. He got out of bed to look out the window, expecting to see a dazzling lightning & thunderstorm. Nope. Clear skies and twinkling stars were all he could see. Then he said he heard the voice of God so clearly he couldn’t deny it. “We needed to buy that building. We are meant to do something great with it. Something for the community.” He was so incredibly convicted when he was telling me this. I’ve never seen him so convicted in my entire life. I looked at him and said “Okay. Let’s do this.” We went back to sleep (well attempted to anyway) and the next morning started brainstorming. I’m a planner girl and making lists are my thing. We made so many lists that I think my lists had lists. Our heads were spinning. There were so many unknown variables. What is the zoning for the building? Would we be able to open a business or non profit out of it as well as live in it? How on earth could we get affordable insurance on a building this massive?! What would our property taxes be? The lists went on and on. We began our research and this is when I could feel my stress level rising. Watching Atom be so calm and collected about it all definitely helped me. All of these unknowns and potentially plan halting issues were making me physically sick. Atom gently reminded me that if it’s meant to happen it will happen. God has our backs. I knew this but it’s still a hard pill to swallow at times (let’s be real, it’s hard A LOT of the time.)
Five days after we returned home we decided to make a full price cash offer on the building, which was accepted. We had a 60 day escrow in order to have time to really make sure we could iron out all of the details. Let me tell you, EVERY SINGLE DETAIL worked out. Everything. We were able to get affordable insurance on the building, fix any zoning issues, found out the property taxes would be totally reasonable etc etc etc. It was mind boggling. These things that seemed absolutely impossible were happing with no issue at all. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times Atom & I had moments where we looked at each other and said this is 100% God’s doing. There was no other explanation for it. We closed escrow at the end of September and mid October Atom & I flew out there to get the keys and figure out a way to winterize the building (insert two clueless native Californians here). Once we closed escrow and everything was final, I started my search for a church. This was a big source of anxiety for me because I had set the bar super high with our current church, Newbreak. What if we couldn’t find a church in Huntington that we liked and were spiritually filled from? I scoured Facebook and my iPhone maps for churches in the town. I narrowed my search down to a few that looked promising. One that I was particularly drawn to was The Well Huntington. I liked the website and just had a really good feeling about it. They had podcasts and videos of the services online which was a plus. I told Atom I wanted to make a point to check it out when we were there. We arrived for the 11am Sunday morning service and were greeted by the most warm & friendly people. Have you ever walked into a church and thought to yourself “I’m home“? This was the second time I have ever felt this way in my life. The first time was our first weekend at Newbreak and the second one was walking into The Well. I was eager for worship because that is where I am the most spiritually fed. As my amazing friend Alex says, “when you sing you pray twice” which is so true. During worship is when I feel the most connected to God. It’s probably horrible to say but if I am not into the worship portion of a service I more than likely won’t stick around. We found some seats near the front (I’m totally not afraid of the front of church!) and waited for the service to begin. The worship was FANTASTIC! Very talented musicians for sure! The sermon given by Pastor Josh took both Atom and my breath away. It was the first weekend of the new series called “I am the church”. It was all about how they were going to get even more plugged into the community and help where needed. Atom & I looked at each other during the sermon and we knew this was it. We had found our new church home. During the announcements the worship director Marvin asked if anyone knew anyone who would be interested in joining the worship team, specifically guitar and vocals. I burst into tears. Ok God I hear you now! After the service was over Pastor Josh walked over to us and introduced himself (we must have stuck out like sore thumbs? Haha!) and we basically unloaded on him (sorry!) and told him why we were there etc etc etc. I was introduced to Marvin as well. We left the church with the most gigantic smiles on our faces that we were downright giddy.
We headed back home to San Diego a couple days later (after Atom surprised me with a night at a super swanky downtown Chicago hotel after all of our work on the building winterizing it etc) and it was time to get busy and kick things into high gear to get our house ready to sell. We were in the middle of several remodeling projects (story of any homeowners life!) and we were trying to get them done as fast as possible. The clock was ticking. We wanted to be moved to Huntington early spring. Considering I’ve never lived in snow or ice I definitely didn’t want my first season there to be winter & be jaded for the rest of my life. The day after Christmas our neighbor Bob came over & asked us when we planned on listing out house for sale. We said hopefully by the end of January/beginning of February depending on when we finished our half done projects. He mentioned that his neighbor behind him had a cousin that had recently moved here with her husband from (wait for it…..) Marion, Indiana (20 min south of where we are moving!!!!) and wanted to hopefully buy their first home here in our neighborhood. Atom walked over and talked with the neighbor and told them our situation & gave them our number. The next day he got a text asking if they could come over with their cousins and look at the house. Cue freak out moment. Our house was a disaster. The Christmas tornado had just gone through and we definitely weren’t “show ready.” They assured us they didn’t care so after a quick 2 hour power clean they came over. They seemed really interested but it was hard to tell if they were just feeding us lip service or genuinely interested. The following day they texted atom again & asked if they could bring their aunt who is a realtor to look again. We said sure. Same story. They were hard to read but they were super nice. They left & literally 15 min later texted atom again & asked if they could come over & chat with us. We were shocked. They gave us an offer right then & there. An offer we couldn’t say no to. It wasn’t a super high offer but still competitive for our area which is a nice part of town with pretty expensive homes. And without any realtor costs it was amazing. The cherry on top was that they said we could stop all work on the house & they’d buy it “as is” so that we could spend our final few months in San Diego as a family & not working like mad men trying to finish everything. Also, they wouldn’t be able to move in until April anyway so our timelines aligned perfectly. Yep God I hear you loud & clear! Even through the stress of the inspections and appraisals during escrow I knew everything would be fine. God had his hand in it and we would be okay. We closed escrow on our home here in San Diego on February 6th (we are doing a 2 month free rent back in our contract). We closed escrow on our home that was never even put on the market. We are now completely debt free and own the building free & clear. Not too shabby for the ripe old age of 34.
We have started packing now and are going through room by room. A few weeks ago while packing up some books the office/craft room I picked up an old farmers guide my mom had bought at an antique store many years ago for Atoms birthday. I almost fainted when I saw the town listed on the cover (photo attached), which was “Huntington, Indiana.” God had this plan for us all along. We just didn’t see it. It wasn’t revealed to us until last summer.
There is no way we have been given this journey without God being the map maker. He has paved this way for us. So so so many details that seemed virtually impossible came through without a hitch.
So what now? We honestly have no clue. And we are totally okay with it. We have plenty of renovation plans for the building but as far as what exactly we will do with it, we don’t know. But we have faith and know it will be revealed to us when the time is right. And we aren’t scared. We are EXCITED!
T-minus 47 days!