There is big, good news!
But first - I need to ask you to pause with me and acknowledge some other news that has been weighing so heavily on me for the past two weeks. Grappling with this has been part of why I have struggled with putting down words to share our good news. While we were in Ohio we got the heartbreaking news that the mother of four of my dearest Philly kids passed away unexpectedly. She was an amazing woman, a tremendous community advocate and the kind of person who you couldn't help but love. From the first time that I met her kids nearly 19 years ago my heart for Philly has been rooted in the love I have for her family. She had been struggling with a respiratory infection that got bad enough to put her in the hospital and take her life. She was 63 years old and generally in good health, so it was very shocking and unexpected to lose her.
So before going any farther, will you thank God with me for the beautiful life of Awilda, and pray with me for her kids Edgardo, Jessica, Vicky & Noel (as well as their older sister Erica who I didn't know). Her family is feeling her loss profoundly.
Today I looked at pictures of Awilda's kids that I have from over the years, and it's amazing to me that I could have been here in Philly long enough to watch a baby in a stroller grow to be a young man who is head & shoulders taller than me. When I first moved to Philly and wondered how long this place would be my home, I always thought, "Well I know I at least plan to stick around until Noel finishes high school." Last year he completed his GED, and while we are not planning to leave Philly, it does feel like an important milestone has been reached.
Noel's name is one of several kids' names that are written in the cement in the sidewalk on our block. Walking over that square of cement each day is bittersweet -- sweet to think of the good things God has done for us and through us during our season here, but bitter to accept the pain and discomfort that comes with change. I think about how one of the ways that God got me to Philly in the first place was to displace people who I loved in Akron -- moving my parents to Virginia and the Franklin family to Vermont. Nearly two decades later, here we are again with God now using the redistribution of our neighbors from Fletcher street to nudge us towards a move to West Philadelphia.
I promised big news though, and I'll bet you are wondering when I am going to get to that. I won't keep you waiting any longer!
As I left you with our last update, the developer who had wanted to buy our house & lot together had come back with an offer so low that we couldn't even consider it. We were back at square one, figuring that we would move forward slowly by first selling our lot at the end of the summer and using the money to get ourselves into a rental in West Philly so that we could get our house market-ready. There was no sense of urgency, especially with warm months ahead that we could use to enjoy a final summer season with our lot.
Not even hours after I posted that last update, our realtor reached out to let us know that the developer would be interested in buying just our lot if we were willing to sell it separately. We were, but figured that after his lowball offer for the house & lot together, there was no way that he could offer a price that was worth considering. We couldn't imagine him making an offer that 1) would be substantial enough to say yes to and 2) would be enough incentive to give up the use of our lot for the summer months.
That's our problem so often -- our imaginations aren't ample for God's abundance. Ephesian 3:20 reminds us that God is able to do "more than all we ask or imagine."
Thank goodness we didn't say a number first, because this developer was willing to offer us far above the highest price would could have imagined for our lot. It was several weeks of working out the details, but we are now officially under contract for the sale of our lot with a closing date set for May 31st! The better offer will give us much more breathing room, allow us to do all of the necessary work on our house to get it market ready and even be able to pay some people to help Frank with the work, be able to rent a house as an stepping stone between selling our house and buying a new one and likely enable us to eventually buy a home that is better as far as size, condition & location that what we were expecting from the offer that fell through. Whatever outreach we do this summer will have to happen in spaces other than the lot, but we were already discovering as of last summer that the ministry we were trying to do there was not gathering the crowd that it had in previous years. While it is a timeline different than what we expected, we see God's favor all over it and are grateful for his more-than-we-could-imagine provision.
As Frank and I talked and spent some time praying together this morning, I told him that so many of the aspects of moving that once left me feeling paralyzed whenever I considered them are starting to feel so much more manageable. The packing, the work on our house, the living next to a construction project when they break ground next door -- not my favorite, but it will be okay! I wish we didn't have to move twice and spend a year in a rental, but if that's what we need to do, it will be just fine.
I think that this breakthrough in my own heart along with God's abundant provision are absolutely a reflection of the loving prayers and encouragement that you all have offered up on our behalf. We hope that as we continue this journey and share updates with you along the way, you will be able to share in our joys and trust God's goodness for your own lives even more!