“And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.
I’ve been anticipating writing this post for months. I was beginning to think that it would never happen.
After a year of living with my wife, five children, and family dog in the one-bedroom, 600-ish sq. ft. basement of my parent’s townhouse, we finally closed on a home of our own. An actual home, with multiple rooms, a basement, a garage, and a yard. A big yard. Measured in acres. With trees. Where kids can play.
I am extremely grateful to my parents for taking us in when we had nowhere else to go. Things have been crowded for everyone, and I never anticipated that we would be there for so long. I know they missed their grandkids, but probably not quite that much. So I think we’re all pretty excited that we will be moving into the new place as early as this weekend.
For my part, I’m still sort of in disbelieving shock. I don’t have an exact count, but I believe that over the past six months we’ve made roughly a dozen offers on as many homes, all with no luck. Different reasons, every time, but always something. We lucked out, honestly, when a desperation play to get into a townhome fell through a week before closing. Looking at what we are getting instead, all I can say is Deo Gratias. Jamie and I believe that when you ask God for something, you find it by working your hardest and then following the open doors. Every other door was slamming in our faces, but with this one, everything just sort of fell into place. And there was that feeling. That “I can see us living here for a long time” feeling.
I truly find myself amazed that we are here. A year ago last week I was thrilled to discover that after two months of waiting, we finally got renewed for food stamps. At the time, I was working 60 hours a week and still bringing home barely enough to cover rent and utilities. People were lending or donating money to us just to help cover the gaps, and our food options were increasingly being reduced to rice, beans, and the cheapest cuts of meat we could find – the kind that spoils if you don’t cook it fast. Jamie was five months pregnant, and needed better nutrition than she was getting. We were stuck in Arizona and wanted nothing more than to come back to the East coast. We had no furniture – we just sat on an air mattress in the living room of our rental. It had gotten to the point where the tires on our car were so bald that they just started blowing out, one by one.
I mean it when I say that it was only God’s grace and the generosity of countless people (only some of whom I’ve ever actually met) that got us through. I’ve reflected countless times on the fact that if I didn’t have such an incredible network of friends and family, we could have wound up out on the street, in very real trouble. I also came to realize that it was the intercession of St. Jude that really turned things around for us. It was after seeking his assistance that miraculous changes began taking place. One of the conditions of the most common prayers seeking the help of St. Jude is always the same. It goes roughly like this: “St. Jude, if you help me with this (name impossible task here) I will tell everyone about you and spread devotion to your ninja-like intercessory powers.” The baby we were expecting, as you probably know, was a boy. We named him Jude. There was never another serious option. And when we did make it back to Virginia and got into the position to start looking for homes, you can probably guess who I turned to for help finding the right one.
So here we are. Exactly a year from the last time I felt like a little miracle had fallen into our laps at the very last minute it possibly could, it’s happened again. We went from being penniless, underemployed, indebted, expecting our fifth child, stuck in a place we didn’t want to live, and wondering how we’d ever get back east… to buying a house in Northern Virginia, where we never thought we could settle down and own a home. I have a good job, most of our debts are paid back, and we’ve even managed to put Kiana in a good Catholic school. All that change in just one year.
The moral of the story? Never underestimate the goodness of people, the power of prayer, and your own ability to turn your life around. All three of those factors played a critical role in this rather momentous occasion. And while scraping up down payment money means that we may have to go back to eating rice and beans more often and sitting on an air mattress instead of a couch for a while, it’ll be on our own terms, in our own place, where our children can grow and flourish, play outside in the woods like I did growing up, and hopefully learn to be the men and women they were meant to be. That’s priceless. (OK, the bank actually has a pretty specific price in mind, but you get what I’m saying.)
For those that have been praying for us – thank you. Please don’t stop. We’ll be praying for you too. Updates on the house will be posted when we get there.
UPDATE – Here’s a link to a photo album with some pictures of the house. These are the listing pictures, so many things will be changing after we move in, but it gives a nice idea of the place.
Steve Skojec is a storyteller, writer, blogger, photographer, designer, and sci-fi fan. He is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. He lives in Arizona with his wife Jamie and six of their seven children.