A House — and a Life — Love Restored
- Thursday, October 30, 2008
Remember Sleeping Beauty? Because of a curse, when she pricked her finger on a spindle, her world was frozen into a nightmare. Prince Charming’s kiss was required to break the evil spell.
A finger prick transformed my world into a nightmare, too. More amazing than the fairytale, the love of the Prince of Peace and His loyal followers broke the spell and gave me a home and a future.
The finger prick came in the summer of 2003 during a routine baby wellness check for one-year-old Emily, the youngest of my three preschool children. I was not expecting the shocking results: Her blood lead concentration was four times higher than the danger level.
Within days, the state health inspector was knocking at my door. “Move. Now,” he warned. “Your house is dangerously contaminated with lead. Your children could already have severe and permanent damage.”
Panicked, I phoned my husband, Tom, who was away on business. “What’ll we do?” I asked. “We have to move but how can we afford it?”
Although Tom made a good salary, for reasons that had been puzzling to me, we never had extra money. I kept expenses cut to the bone and we had only one car — my husband’s. His job required extensive travel, but in recent months, I had begun to suspect that his long absences were not entirely job related.
Tom’s response to my distressing news confirmed that our marriage and family was dangerously contaminated, too. “I’m sure you’ll handle it,” he said. He had no plans to come home anytime soon. And no, he couldn’t send me any money either.
The landlord was livid with the health inspector’s report. He refused to make any of the recommended repairs and blamed me for the discovery of the lead poisoning. “You have until August 1st to get out,” he thundered.
The eviction was illegal and I could have fought him in court and won the right to stay. But I needed to get my children out of that poisoned house. I could expect no help from my husband. I had no money, no place to go, and no way to get there.
The date was June 25. A month. Forty days and forty nights and my children and I would be homeless. Where would we go?
However, I had a secret weapon that prevented me from becoming desperate. In 1976, when I was seven years old, I had made a profession of faith in Jesus. Since then, my faith had not been severely tested. Yet I knew enough about trusting Jesus to know that if I only considered the depth of my problems, I’d sink in despair. If I considered the power of Jesus to help me, I could make it. I’d just have to be brave enough to take that first step of faith — whatever it was.
Still hoping that my marriage could be salvaged, I confided my troubles to Rose, a friend from my church. She listened, prayed with me, and although I had no income she said, “Let me see what I can do about finding you a house you can afford.”
I really didn’t expect much from Rose. After all, what sort of house could she find for someone with three kids and no money?
As the weekend approached, my father paid for the children and I to come see him. In a shocked state, I poured out my troubles to him. In my heart of hearts, I knew my marriage was shattered and that Tom would not support us now without pressure from the court system. That would take time, money, and lawyers to accomplish. What was I to do in the meanwhile? Where could we go? How would we live?
Dad had no ideas but he, too, prayed with me.
On Thursday, June 26th, the phone rang. It was Rose. “If I found a house that someone will give you free-of-charge, would you trust my judgment to accept it for you?” she asked. She was suspiciously sketchy about the details but she did say that the house had three bedrooms, a nice-sized backyard, and was in an okay neighborhood.
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