Thursday, October 10, 2002

God's Provision--a Continuation of Jenny's House Story

Are you in suspense? Good! Oh, it is so fun for me to write of God's glorious provision of a house, and not just any old house but an honest to goodness HOME for the Silliman family here in Sequim, Washington. Sequim (pronounced skwim, rhymes with swim) is located about 50 miles east of the Pacific Coast and we live only 8 miles from the Juan de Fuca Strait. (When we say we live in the northwest, now you'll know what we mean.)

We have asked for prayer as our lease with option to purchase is due on October 31st (which is Valerie's 18th birthday). Cliff and I have never bought a home before and have not used credit cards for a dozen years and therefore have a zero credit rating. $300 per month for two years has been taken out of our rent to go towards our down payment. All we had to do was to get a bank loan--no small task. In fact it has been a huge temptation for anxiety.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:6,7

Jesus said, "If you abide in Me and My Words abide in you, you shall ask what you will and it shall be done unto you. Herein is My Father glorified..." John 15:7

Cliff and I have prayed just about every morning about this and we've had our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, far and near, praying for us and encouraging us constantly. "Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." Gal. 6:2 Oh what a blessing to know the support of the arms of God through His people! Thank you so much for your love and prayers. People we don't even know have written that their family prays every day for us.

Today, I am happy to share the answer to our prayers. However, for those of you who are new on my e-mail newsletter list, here is a little bit of background for you of where we were at two years ago. After twenty years of renting, and with seven children, Cliff and I were more than ready to settle down. I think our 8-year-old had lived in 6 different rentals. The last 3 years were gruelling as we had to move unexpectedly with only 30 days notice after only a year of renting. This happened 3 times in a row, 3 years in a row, and each time we had only 30 days notice! Well, to find a house to rent when you have seven children is quite difficult--not to mention the horrendous job of moving!

One day I met my friend's mother, a woman of prayer and a woman of faith. She spoke quite simply of how the Scriptures teach we are to pray aloud together in unity and faith and simply agree in the mighty Name of Jesus and leave our burden with Him, the Lord of all. She gave me testimonies of how when a husband and wife pray, with a union of their spirits, it causes the Lord God to sit forward on His throne and listen--He's all ears!

I rushed home and made a date with Cliff early the next morning. We held hands and prayed every specific detail of what we wanted in a home. "Dear Lord Jesus, You know we need a home. We'd like a big, solid house with an acre of land. We'd like four bedrooms, an office, and a mother-in-law cottage. We want to live someplace rural, but still close to town in case Grandma will come live with us.” And then I thought, why not ask for what we'd really like? I quickly added, "And we'd like a blue house with a white porch, a level driveway to play basketball, lots of windows, a water view and a view of the mountains, too. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen."

A few days later I read this ad in the paper: “4 bed, 3 bath. Quality older home, 3,000 sq. ft., 1 acre, close to town.” I dialed the number with shaky hands and made an appointment for first thing that morning. I wrote the address so my family could see: “931 South 7th Avenue.” Half a mile from the supermarket! As we pulled in front of a long gray house (badly in need of some country blue paint) with a mother-in-law cottage next door I said in awe, “Cliff, this is it.”

The owners (a wonderful grandfatherly fellow, and his adult daughter who is about my age) suggested a two year lease with an option to buy. With delight and thanksgiving, and an awesome awareness of the answer to our prayer, we signed the papers and agreed on a purchase price that was based on an appraisal done in 1998. We paid a very reasonable rent for our area and out of that rent $300 was set aside every month towards our down payment. Together with our last month's rent and cleaning deposit we now have $8,500 for our down!

Cliff and I were turned down flat for a regular bank loan. The owner, (the adult daughter) made it clear that if we didn't buy it they were going to sell it. We would have till November 30th to move out. Yikes! Turn up the prayer engines! But God is SO faithful. The very day she came over here like a house afire as the enemy's agent to put us in fear, I had met with my friend Joann and we had already released the whole situation to the only One capable to accomplish such a miracle.

"God will provide us with everything pertaining unto life and godliness." 2 Peter 1:3

We were directed to another mortgage company that specializes in sub-prime loans for folks like us that didn't fit in the box. We were informed we would probably have to pay a higher interest rate, but the rates are so low right now and we would probably have to pay only a few points above a regular house loan. All costs, such as tax, insurance and closing, would be rolled into the bank loan except we had to pay $400 for a current appraisal.

Our application was sent to 150 lending institutions and we began to prayerfully wait AND work to get our house and yard ship shape for the appraisal. Over half of the appraisal was based on the market value and what comparable homes in our area had sold for. However, we knew we had a big part to play in the remainder of the appraisal value. Photographs, inside and out, were to be taken. We did our utmost to show our home to best advantage. We washed windows, polished furniture, stashed stuff and clutter (and lots of it!), trimmed and spruced up the landscaping and prayed without ceasing.

We waited 3 days and received stunning news. The appraisal came in at 45,000 dollars over the purchase price and so when we made the purchase we would have that much equity immediately. To the lenders it was as if we had (together with our $8,500 downpayment) 53,500 dollars down!!! We couldn't take it in at first. If ever God has given a green light to go ahead, this has got to be about as green as you can get!

Then we got a call from the mortgage company. "You have five offers from different lending institutions and the next simple step is to choose the best offer." Cliff and I, in somewhat of a daze, started stating to each other and to our children and to our friends, "We are buying our house!" The mortgage company did some wheeling and dealing to get the best house loan and we received more stunning news. Our interest rate will be 7 1/4 which is less than a point above what a normal house loan would have been!

Because we have the rental income of the mother-in-law cottage the remainder of our mortgage payment each month (which includes property tax, all fees for the loan process and home owner's insurance) will be almost the same as our rent! We also found out our 1.15 acre can be subdivided some day. The back of our property faces another street and another home could be built there. The real estate market in "Sunny Sequim" (so nicknamed because we are in a rain shadow and it only rains about 16 inches a year here) is booming and in our particular neighborhood we have seen a half a dozen new homes go in during the last two years.

The papers are being drawn up and we will sign them in a few days. I don't know if you've heard the lingo these days. "Super" and "neat" are out and the word the young people exclaim nowadays is, "Sweet!" It is aptly descriptive and I must use it. This is a sweet deal. There is no escrow period on a lease option purchase, so we will soon be shouting, "Home sweet HOME!"

What a tremendous joy to share this testimony with you of God's loving care for us. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and thanksgiving and I weep when I think of God's immense love for me and our family. I have come to realize those moving trials were expressions of God's love too as He worked in us and drew us to Himself and taught us more about walking with Him, trusting Him and abiding in Him no matter what. As I re-read John 15 the other day, about abiding in Jesus, these words jumped out at me. Jesus said, "Abide in My love." And with that admonition I will close. Thank you for listening.

Love in Jesus,
Cliff and Jenny Silliman, 931 S 7th, Sequim, WA 98382
Dan 20 Val 17 David 16 Mike 12 Josh 9 Stephen 5 Luke 2
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Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Seattle and Poetry

Yesterday Valerie and I had a day in the city, the city of Seattle. Valerie drove the whole time with her permit which was wonderful practice for her and she did an excellent job. We took the ferry and enjoyed standing out on deck. In returning to our car to disembark we misplaced it for about five panicky minutes, but we found it right where we left it.

City driving with one way streets that always seem to go the opposite way that we wanted to go was probably the biggest challenge. (Of course I'm not going to tell you about how long it took Valerie to parallel park in a huge space that we thought was so perfect so we could avoid the expensive parking lot until we discovered the meter read, "One half hour parking only." So we parked in the parking lot--$5 purchased two hours.)

We shopped at a used book store (of course!), a craft store for rubber stamping and scrapbooking, and a toy store, and then enjoyed a falafel for an early dinner. Then we headed to Benaroya Hall for the evening. Benaroya Hall is a beautiful building, especially at night. It is usually used for the symphony.

Valerie and I had the great honor and privilege of attending the lecture and poetry reading of one of the greatest poets of all time--Seamus Heaney, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, author of over 20 poetry books. With his Irish/English accent and his snow white crown of hair he spoke comfortably and personally, as if to a small roomful of people instead of thousands. The closing poem, likening his love of writing to the life of a cat, brought a standing ovation and tears clouding my vision.

For your reading pleasure, here is probably his most famous poem and one of his personal favorites. He told us it is the poem that awakened him to his talent for poetry.

by Seamus Heaney

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.

Love in Jesus,
My website
Cliff and Jenny Silliman, 931 S 7th, Sequim, WA 98382
Dan 20 Val 17 David 16 Mike 12 Josh 9 Stephen 5 Luke 2
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