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  • Writer's pictureLou Fister

$14.78

Updated: Jul 11

It was early 2015. My 23 year marriage had ended, my career in Christian ministry was over, I was recovering from multiple knee and back surgeries, my young adult children were both in the ditch, and my house was being repossessed. That all sounds like a lot, and it was. I spent so much time just trying to endure the emotional pain of it all that many of my practical needs fell by the wayside. My memories of that time are wierd. Some are crystal clear and other are sketchy at best. I think trauma has a way of scrambling your brain. I do remember friends bringing groceries, wood, and good will to keep me going.

I was sitting in the maroon recliner in the living room of our ancient farmhouse with the three acre yard that I loved so much. I knew I was going to have to find a new place to live and timing was down to the wire. I didn't have many options so I think I postponed starting the process as long as I could. I'm terrible at math. I was thinking about what my finances might look like once I found a new job and received funds from the d_v_rc_ settlement. (I hate that word) I wondered where I might live based on those figures. I could not imagine any home but the one I had and I sure could not picture myself living alone. I got my phone and clicked onto my bank account. I had $14.78. I called my real estate agent. I know that sounds crazy but I was banking on what was promised in the settlement. I wanted to stay in my current town, of Wadsworth Ohio. At that time, finding a home in that town for anything less than $100,000 would have been a great price. I told my agent I only had half that amount to spend. I had already found the two homes at that price point and asked to see one of them.


I took a house savvy friend with me to the viewing and to this day I don't remember much about that event. I remember there was a fire place in the living room and I remember my friend telling me the house had good bones. That was good enough for me, I had no room to be choosy. I told my agent that I wanted to make an offer. I got home and wondered if the house had a yard or a basement.

 

The house was being sold in a short sale and only cash offers were being accepted. I was asked to submit a letter explaining why I wanted the house and present my best offer. Can you believe that I can't remember either of those things. Me, the lady who writes down everything and takes pictures for backup. I do remember that my offer was a real crazy number. I offered the price I had to spend, a few odd dollars in hopes of outbidding anyone else who had the same number in mind and then topped off with some numbers relating to scripture that I was hanging onto at the time. And the letter, I have no idea what I wrote. I made the offer and waited.

 

It was then that I found out that the settlement money would not come along anytime soon. I had no idea how a  d_v_rc_ worked. I still don’t and I still don't want to. But what I did understand is that I would not get the money in time to purchase this house.


I reached out to a friend who I thought might be interested in helping me. I figured he could make a quick few bucks if he bought the house and then flipped it to me when I had the funds. I sent him an email explaining the plan. He declined.  This moment I remember very clearly. I was at my mission style desk, in the room of the farmhouse that had been my daughter's bedroom. When I saw his email, I pushed myself away from the desk and just looked at the screen for a second. I wasn't angry or dissappointed, rather I found myself strangely thankful. Little was clear to me these days and having a definative answer, even though it was not the one I wanted, felt like a blessing. I sat there another second and thanked God for making it so clear.


The next morning, I sat back at my desk. I had been trying to resurect my graphic design business, a career where I had been pretty successful years earlier. I opened my email to see if there was any work waiting for me. There was an email from a man whose family was personal friends and friends of the ministry where I had worked. He explained that he had seen the sheriff sale of my home advertised in the paper and then he asked three very direct questions. "Do you want to stay in your house", "What is your plan?" and "How can we help".


This is another moment I remember clear as a bell, must be something about that desk. Again, I pushed back and just sat there looking at the screen trying to figure out how to respond. Of course I wanted to stay in my beloved old farm house. I imagined growing old there. I could already picture the grandchildren, who were yet to be, playing in the huge yard and fishing in the pond. The same pond where we had held picnics and baptisms. That was a hard dream to let go of but there was no way I could maintain that home and property on my own. So answering that question was a "no". But his other questions... Was I supposed to tell him groceries would be nice or should I tell him about the house I had found? In my head I heard, "you don't have because you don't ask". (James 4:2) . I scooted back to the desk, took a breath and thought, "Wow, here we go". I was about to reply with the story of the house I had found and my idea to have have someone buy it on my behalf. Man, would I feel stupid if what he meant by help was peanut butter and jelly.


Like all my stories, I couldn't make the rest of this up if I tried. I got his reply the following day. He said that he knew exactly what house I was talking about and that he had already looked into it for another friend. He said the house had great potential and that with a little work it would be a great place to live. He quickly agreed to buy the house for me until I had the funds to pay him. I still struggle with how to express my gratitude. We stuck to my crazy low-ball offer and submitted it with that mystery letter. Somehow, it was accepted. The rest is history.

 

The house was a wreck, like me. In time, God restored us both. That house eventually became a home. It is not perfect but it is perfect for me. It has a great basement that became home to my design business. And as for the yard, I have an acre with a creek and blueberry bushes. (see Poison Ivy post) So many times I find myself thinking of these and other details and knowing that in 1951 when it was being built, God was building it for me. My children and now grandchildren are regular visitors. It is a place full of stories, flowers, and miracles.  And I don't mind telling you that now, it is worth more than three times what I paid for it.


But, this is not a story about money - which is not a motivator for me. What this tale describes is that regardless of our means and abilities, a little is much in the hands of our omnipotent and loving God. His promises are better than any human contracts. His settlement to us is based on the sacrifice of Jesus...and that is way more than we will ever understand. Our potential is only realized in Him, and what He chooses for us is better than anything we could imagine. (Eph. 3:20) He wants us to tell stories that make much of Him and wants others to know Him. I had $14.78 and He did big things with it.


What do you have that is just a little? Money? Time? Talent? Faith? Let Him manage it. He has a plan for your good and His glory. And thankfully, His math does not follow our rules.

 


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