God Moments (20): God’s Surprises

[This is the twentieth article in the series of God Moments in My Publishing Life.]

The overall title for this series speaks to one of my purposes—to help writers recognize the God Moments in their life. Yet many of the God Moments in my life as a full-time literary agent may not have happened if we had not recognized family-related God Moments.

We started life in Arlington, MA in early 1996 in a second floor apartment five minutes from our son’s home, while hoping to locate a house we could afford. One day our treasurer at Evangelistic Association of New England, in a God Moment, said to me, “We looked at a condo at the Village at Brickett Hill in Haverhill, but it is not quite right for us. You may want to look at it.”

I did, then brought my wife Rita to check it out. We decided it suited our purposes, with an office area in the lower level adjacent to a TV viewing area—and a bedroom in the loft on the third floor that could serve as my wife’s ironing and sewing room. The large living room could accommodate a good-sized group of people, important for my wife’s joy in hospitality. We spent eight happy years there. Just when we thought climbing the stairs between four floors could become a problem with us in retirement age, God set a chain of events in motion that surprised us.

It started when Jerry Jenkins decided Christian Writers Guild ought to sponsor a Christian writers’ conference and selected The Cove, the Billy Graham Training Center new Asheville, NC as the site for the first one. Since I was still listed as editorial director and was mentoring apprentices, I was invited to participate. Thinking about it I remembered an editor for a horse book publisher Rita and I had met at a Christian Writers Conference in 1995. She had wanted to write an evangelistic book for horse people and we discussed it at some length.

I knew she had moved to North Carolina and into the horse community of Tryon, now editing a magazine for horse people. An e-mail resulted in an invitation to join them for the weekend previous to the conference. Rex and Maureen gave me a great tour of the town and community in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains–and I discovered the area was also a major retirement community. But it did not seem likely that Rita would be willing to leave Massachusetts, with three granddaughters only 33 miles from us.

12734_1072342427506_3846145_nGod was, however, on the move. Six months later Rita suggested we get a multiple listing book for Polk County, the setting for Tryon. We drove down the day after I turned in the exams I had marked for my journalism students at Gordon College. Guided by a realtor we saw a number of houses the next morning. Over noon I was paging through a brochure listing houses when I saw one that looked interesting. The description fit what we were looking for—a ranch home with four bedrooms, a larger living room, and a basement. Late afternoon we toured it—and afterward my wife said, “That house met all of my criteria, down to a white galley kitchen.” I was overwhelmed by the beauty of what I considered a miniature arboretum around the house and the forested property around it.

On that weekend’s Sunday in another God Moment our son called without knowing the reason for our trip, suggested we look around in Tryon as a possible retirement community. Rita heaved a big sigh of relief, since her concern had been his attitude toward us moving.

We decided to pray about it for two weeks, reasoning if the Lord wanted us to have the house, he’d save it for us. Convinced after two weeks of extended prayer that God wanted us to move to Tryon, we made an offer, contingent on us selling our condo, and it was accepted. The next day, Memorial Day, we had a realtor at our dining room table discussing a possible sale price for the condo. I was astonished at the price she suggested, mentally calculating if we got it we could pay off our mortgage and pay cash for the Tryon house. We decided on an open house the next weekend, but two days later learned that another buyer had showed up for the Tryon house—and we had to either counter the offer within 72 hours or give it up, since we still had to sell our condo.

God wasn’t done yet. A day later our realtor called and said a friend in another town had a client who was looking for a three-bedroom condo in the Village at Brickett Hill. Stunned, I responded, “Don’t we have the only three-bedroom condo in the village?” She admitted I was right, so we agreed to let her friend’s client visit the next day. In less than 24 hours we had a full price offer and I could inform the Tryon realtor we could drop the contingency.

393167_10151581801399648_596757872_nIn a truly miraculous series of God Moments he had sent us a buyer without our condo being listed—and we had gained a house that was in an incredibly beautiful setting and amazingly fit for what God would do later. The home he got us has already let us provide extended hospitality to two of our son’s granddaughters. One of them, Bethany, served as my assistant as she looked for a job after college, which led to her becoming my webmaster while on her new job in the marketing department at Wycliffe Bible Translators in Orlando, FL. God had plans for the house we acquired we could not have dreamed up. All we can do is praise the Lord for all the special God Moments along the way.

My next installment will focus on the surprises God sent my way as literary agent focused on helping first book authors get published.

Copyright, 2015, Les Stobbe

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