I apologize ahead of time for this long post, but it has been a long time coming to this point...
Over the last 3 or 4 months, Audrea and I have been seeking God's wisdom on what we should do about our house situation. We have had our house on the market since March 2007, have had around 65 showings, and only one offer but that fell through because of finances. Due to the shift in the economy--major drop in house values--we now are facing an upside-down mortgage (i.e. we owe more on it than what we could sell it for.) We knew that selling our house was going to be difficult to do financially and as far as we could see, we wouldn't have enough cash to give over at a closing if we did sell our house (yes, we would have to write a check to get rid of our house).
In that time, we had been approached by 4 different individuals about various, potentially lucrative business opportunities. On each of those, I had no desire to pursue them. Only a sense of "need" seemed to be a driving motivator. However, on the last opportunity, we talked with many individuals whom God has blessed with much wisdom. Each of those individuals told us a strange phrase, "Don't make a decision based on money." When trying to understand what they meant, the best clarification came when my father-in-law said, "Imagine all things being equal and no financial crunch, what are the benefits of pursuing this opportunity--spiritually?" The only thing I could see is that it would take us further away from our goal of going to Southern Seminary, and worse, would further distance me from the longer term goal of full-time pastoral ministry. That convinced me not to pursue the final opportunity either.
In thinking about all of the potential options on the table for us, a new option presented itself: Move to Kentucky and rent a house instead of buy a house. In the meantime, our house in Minnesota can be "staged" for just the right presentation and can be shown at any time with no impact on our family. In addition, in the meantime, I can take at least one class per semester on campus while we wait for the house to sell. Once the house sells in Minnesota, I'll decrease my working hours back to part-time and go back into the swing of seminary full-time. God has truly blessed me with a wonderful employer who has told us that they want me to continue to be a Skyline employee and will send work my way from Green Bay. (There is also some potential for an onsite contract in Louisville, but otherwise it would be from my home office.)
Over the last 3 weeks then, we have been searching for a house to rent in Louisville in the neighborhood of the seminary. Our friends, Josh and Gretchen, have been such a wonderful blessing to us by being our eyes-and-ears-on-the-ground. We lined up 3 properties for them to go and tour for us. They would take pictures and video and then post them online for us to review. We recognize this was a sacrifice of time on their part and have sworn to repay them in Krispy Kremes and Starbucks. We are so grateful for their help!
We found a wonderful bungalow with a large yard and empty lot next door, plenty of room to live, work, and homeschool, and a very nice couple who own the place. There is a room for an office/library (for my library that has quickly become the size of a standard church library!), a partially finished basement where we will setup a little schoolroom to teach the children in, and a decent size dining room to have company over.
On February 11th, Berger Allied Moving Company will be coming and loading a truck (we're doing all the packing now) and will head off towards Louisville. We'll leave then and arrive there sometime between the 14th and the 16th. We are overwhelmed at the fact that we have less than three weeks to finish packing, but are incredibly excited! Though we will now be 9 hours from mom and dad Walther (this is one of the difficult and sad things about the move), we will now be within a 3 to 4 hour drive of almost all of other family members (including most of my brothers and sisters!). Savannah's favorite part is that we will be 90 miles from her Uncle Rick and Aunt Karen Elliott who just happen to own a farm with horses!!
I close with an image of my mother's father--Harold Graves--and a little note that my mom found one day tucked into a book. We don't know who my grandfather intended this note to be for, but all of us children have adopted it as a note to us personally. We know that God is the source of our satisfaction in life. And the things we want (like homes, schools, money, family, toys, etc) will not in themselves ultimately bring us satisfaction in life. (The satisfaction we do derive from them are mere tastes of the goodness of the character of God Himself.) When we find our delight in God Himself, we will be truly satisfied!