men being fathers (19)

…. My family had made some light-handed real estate investments over the years and were now drawing back from the market. Mom and Dad were predictably skeptical about the property, but listened to my requests during our late evening call February 15th.

I was self-supported for most of my missions work and asked for help with a phone bill or rent occasionally. Never had I asked for anything remotely like the amount needed to qualify as a bidder for a dollar home. Dad responded with a follow-up call in less than 24 hours from our first Landbank communication.

An injury had cut his military career short so he had learned at a young age how to choose his battles with extreme consideration. Between his police department connections, realtor friends, online investigation, personal wisdom, and my mother’s federal connections, Dad had built a poor opinion of the home and it’s neighborhood. Through experience he knew the renovations for Primrose House  would cost upward of $40,000. On February 16th, two days after Landbank made the dollar homes available, my parents said they would not be investing in my dollar home adventure.

It was hard for them to make sense of my debatable choice. From a distance, they could not see the forsythias in bloom, the beauty of the wide streets, and cedar shake siding of the still-solid house. I could feel the pain from their perception of me making a poor real estate choice. I held my position and let them know about the volunteers already coming together. I told them about the potential roommates who had put in requests to live with me after the home was renovated. I told them I had been speaking to a mortgage banker about home budgets. Nothing I said either impressed or moved them.

I did not falter in my upbeat attitude during the first rejection call from my parents. I prayed, “God, if you want me in that house, You make provision for it happen.”

My father would call every four days and ask questions about my choice to live in Kansas City. He would remind me of our family property that I could live in “for free” while managing it. When he would reference the illness I was struggling with as a reason to leave Kansas City,  I would reference my illness as a reason to stay. We were not budging and I could not remember a time I resembled them more.

Paul and Deborah could see the potential picture of transformation in the house and continued praying God’s will for me. I knew my parents were also praying God’s will for me. I focused on spending as much time as I could in fellowship and worship when not at work.

On March 2nd, I woke up with an urgency to ask my God-family if Paul, a building contractor, would be open to speaking to my father.

After prayer, they came into one accord over Paul speaking to him. We prayed for the door of communication between the men to be led by Holy Spirit, and for their hearts to be soft toward each other. I did not have the privilege of hearing the conversation, but Paul said even though it had gone well, he held no expectations for the outcome.

Deborah was faithful in encouraging me to turn the house and my parents’ decision over to The Lord. She would say, “It is in God’s Hands, trust Him.” Time seemed to move supernaturally fast and slow as I camped in the “wait on The Lord” Scriptures.

On April 1st, 2016, 8am his time, my father called. I was driving through Kansas City’s 7am rush-hour traffic and let the call go to voicemail. It wasn’t until I parked in front of the sanctuary that I called him back. I had enjoyed all our calls over the last month and a half and looked forward to hearing his voice.

After asking about each others’ well-being, he asked if I had submitted my application yet. I said, “No, the deadline is not until May 1st.” He said, “No, the cut-off is today at 4:30pm.”

I realized somehow my days were mixed-up; perhaps to subconsciously protect myself from the panic that was now causing my heart to palpitate. I told him I had forgotten the date and would not be turning in an application.

He asked why I had not followed through with the process.

I felt like saying, “Because I was an idiot to believe for something that was not mine.”

Instead I said, “I guess the house is not for me.”

My parents had investigated the Landbank online application. They were fully aware the process required proof of $8,500 earnest monies, itemized list of repair costs, an agreement to bring the property up to safety code standard within three months of acquirement, the bidder’s goal for the house, and the bidder’s authorization for Landbank to do a background check (for arrest records or foreclosed properties).

Knowing these things were required for my application to be considered, Dad asked, “Why do you say the house is not for you.”

I explained again that I had not raised the monies nor remembered the application cut off day. I felt defeated and humiliated and thought, “Wow, I really wasted a lot of peoples’ time.”

I recalled April 1st, 2015, the day I told my father his mother had died. That was a year ago in another state, and today was a beautiful spring morning in Kansas City. I could see pink and white blossoms on the trees in the distance. I thought of ants collecting sealed peonies nectar in May and wished I could be there instead of April. If not somewhere in May, maybe watching honey bees gather pollen from cherry trees in the distance, far away from this call. I wanted to be anywhere except this place of failure.

Without softening his tone, he said, “Your mother and I have decided to partner with your vision. She will be wiring the funds to your bank. Congratulations, you are going to own a home.” The petals of the peonies opened in my mind’s eye, and the memory of their fragrance filled my senses as cherry blossoms snowed in the car. Was that a honey bee and butterfly dancing in front of my windshield?

Tears briefly created a prism of the rising sun, trees, and sky. “Really? Really, Dad? Thank you, God bless you, thank you. Tell Mom thank you! Dad, I would not have loved you two any less if you were not doing this.”

With my hat pulled low,  I listened to my father’s voice instructing me on how to proceed with the tasks ahead. I drove out of the parking lot and headed towards Landbank. I only had eight hours and needed to get back into rush-hour traffic. I was not going to waste time trying to find the old application buried somewhere in the past.

…. To be continued….

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