A week ago I blogged these words: “God’s purposes may sometimes appear blurry, but He is always at work quietly behind-the-scenes. At some point He says, ‘Now.’ He takes action, and details begin falling into place in an orderly progression.”
I shared with you two personal examples of when God’s “now” thrust me into a significant life transition. Today I want to share a third. This one is present tense. But first, I’ll give you some history.
I grew up on the Alberta prairies. A landlubber, I was. And then I married a man who grew up on the Washington coast. Boating has always been his passion. Water-skiing and sailing are part of his make-up.
In 1996 we moved to Camp Homewood. A year later, Gene and I made a trip to Vancouver, BC. While there, we randomly decided to visit Granville Island, a place we’d only heard about until then. We walked up and down the wharf admiring the sailboats. “Wouldn’t it be fun to live on a sailboat someday?” he said. “Sure, why not?” I replied. We tucked that thought into our back pocket.
In 1998, we sold the lakefront house we’d left behind in Washington and used some of those funds to buy a 27’ sailboat. We moored it at Camp Homewood’s dock. Gene developed a sailing program for teens and adults, and our boat blessed countless campers for nine years. We sold it to the camp when we moved to Abbotsford in 2007. My hubby felt like he’d lost his right arm, but we had no option.
Fast-forward to August 2017. A few days after we returned from a ministry trip to Poland, we headed to Vancouver Island to meet our newest grandbaby. We had a couple hours to spare after reaching the island so we decided to relax by visiting a nearby marina. There happened to be four sailboats for sale. A lady at the brokerage office unlocked them for us and invited us to take a look inside.
That’s when God said, “Now.”
“Well, Gene,” I said as we stood inside a 44’ vessel. “What do you think? We started this conversation twenty years ago. We’re healthier and stronger now than we’ve been for years. If we don’t do it now, we may never do it.”
My words shocked my husband. They shocked me too. Nonetheless, both of us felt an undeniable peace about pursuing this. We discussed our future and how retirement will come in a few years. We also discussed the importance of wise financial stewardship. Everyone needs to practice this, but as missionaries living on faith support—never sure of what a month’s salary will be—we need to be all the more careful.
Three years ago our ministry office moved into the basement of a large unoccupied home. At that time, it seemed logical for us to move into the upstairs and make it a ministry center of sorts. Doing that meant renting our little townhouse so that we could, in turn, rent the house. God worked out every detail of that transition, for which we were grateful. We have a good renter, and the townhouse has been paying for itself.
Now, as we discussed financial stewardship, we both felt that putting monthly payments toward something we will own seemed a wiser investment than continuing to rent. Some people, when they downsize, purchase a small apartment. We could buy a good, used boat and live in 600 square feet for a fraction of the cost of a small apartment, we reasoned. And so, we began searching for a suitable home. We looked at boats from Campbell River (mid Vancouver Island) to Portland, Oregon.
One of the first sailboats was in—you guessed it—Granville Island. We saw it twice within a couple of weeks at the broker’s insistence. Both times I felt like we were wasting our time. It was far beyond our budget. We didn’t even consider it an option.
Meanwhile, Gene spoke with a banker. “For what size loan can we pre-qualify?” he asked. The answer came back within a few days: “Your loan is such-and-such.” We were shocked again. “We didn’t ask for a loan,” said Gene. “We just wanted to know how much we could pre-qualify for.”
The banker answered, “I’ve combined the remaining mortgage of your townhouse with a loan for a sailboat. You’ll have one monthly payment at a lower interest rate than you’ve been paying for the past ten years for your townhouse. This offer is good until January 4th. Use the money by then or you’ll have to re-apply, and I guarantee that the interest rate will be higher.”
We made offers on two vessels but both were refused. The second offer was rejected at the end of November. The news came one day after we’d returned from Romania. We were tired, and I was sick with a sinus cold. “Oh well,” I said. “So much for that idea. Maybe we can pick it up at the end of summer next year.” Gene agreed. We felt badly that the bank loan with its appealing interest rate would be lost, but what could we do? We felt we’d run out of time to search further, but Gene didn’t tell the banker to cancel the deal in case there was a slight chance of finding a sailboat anyway.
Jetlag sucked our energy after this trip, so a few days after our return we decided to take an afternoon off. “Let’s get away for an afternoon,” I suggested. “Let’s go to Granville Island and just walk around the docks.” On a whim, I googled the sailboat we’d seen in August and September. To my surprise, the price had been reduced by $20,000. The new price put it within reason.
We made an appointment with a broker and spent a couple hours aboard, scrutinizing every nook and cranny. We made an offer the following week. It was significantly less than the new asking price, but it was what we could afford. Acceptance would take a miracle.
We got our miracle. Timing was everything. The end of the year had come, and the broker wanted to move it out of the marina to make room for the 2018 stock.
God said, ”Now.” He took action, and details began falling into place one-by-one in an orderly progression. Guess when the deal closed? January 4th—the banker’s deadline.
Funny thing—we visited our eldest daughter and her husband in Washington the weekend prior to making the offer on the sailboat. In church that Sunday, the pastor preached about God’s agape love. He said, “I want to talk about four characteristics of God’s love.” I waited for him to use the letters L-O-V-E, sharing one characteristic per letter. He totally took me by surprise when he used the letters S-A-I-L instead. God’s sense of humor delights me!
One more thing—every boat broker in our area told us we’d never find liveaboard moorage space in the Vancouver area. They were mistaken. We found one available space, and it’s the right size for our 48’ vessel. Gene moved it to its new home last Friday.
Our plan is to move aboard by March 1. Gene and I suspect that God is up to something far bigger than we can imagine. He’s asking us to walk in obedience, and we’ve said, “Yes, Lord.”
Obedience means downsizing in a huge way. I’m parting with stuff that represents seasons of my life. I’m saying goodbye to items I’ve regarded as treasures and to which I’m emotionally attached. I’m sorting and tossing and giving away stuff I once thought I needed. I’m donating many things to the local faith-based thrift stores because I don’t have a free weekend to host a garage sale between now and moving day.
I’ve been in Texas for the past week for a wellness conference. I’m flying home as I write this, and my whole focus now changes to moving and writing the Bible study for which I’m under contract. It’s due March 1—our moving day. No kidding. It looks like I’ll write by day and prepare for the move by night for the next six weeks.
Like I said earlier, God is up to something much bigger than I can possibly fathom. I suspect I’m about to experience His strength and provisions in new ways. In the midst of this, I need your prayers. Can I count on them, please?
This is a significant life transition, a faith-stretching endeavor. No doubt it’ll give me lots to blog about in the days ahead. Stay tuned as I share my faith story with you.
Know you are loved,
So good to hear how God is moving in your lives, it is very inspiring and encouraging!!!! Way to listen and follow His leading, thanks for sharing this. As always a great read!
Thanks, Kerry. God’s up to something, that’s for sure. What a walk we’re on!
Oh, Grace…. You asked me to pray about your decision and now I am so pleased to see how God has been answering. I know this will be an emotional time for you and physically exhausting as well. I will keep you in my heart and thoughts and prayers. I send a big hug.
Wow! Just Wow! What an adventurous God we serve. Enjoy! Prayers for all your needs to be meet miraculously in this life changing move and completion of your Bible Study!
Yes Lord, send me! (sail me) Hugs from afar.
Hi Debbie. A few months ago, I never would have seen this coming. I can hardly wait to see how the Lord is going to pull this off–enabling me to both move and write the study in six weeks. This is gonna be good 🙂
Thanks for posting. Things come up and we never know what’s behind the next door but God is faithful. Trusting all the details of this move to Him and praying strength and discernment for you in the days ahead. Love and prayers
Hi Gwen. Yes, indeed–God is faithful. I have no idea where He’s leading with this, but I know it’s good because He’s our Shepherd and Father. My heart feels like it’s singing today 🙂
So excited for you both! God is amazing!
Grace, we enjoyed that article you wrote. God has gifted you and Gene in story telling and speaking to encourage and be salt and light in this world. We are praying for you guys and the new adventure living on the boat. Where is the home dock for the new boat? Next time you are in Campbell River look us up. Looking forward to sharing in touch. Love you guys. Take care. Ron and Sherry
Thanks for your prayers as we make this transition, Ron and Sherry. The boat’s moored at Milltown Marina for an indefinite time. Gene will commute to Abbotsford three days/week and work from the boat the other two days. Lots of changes for us as we adjust to living on the water. Stretching but fun. I’ll be the speaker for Homewood’s women’s retreat in March. Will Sherry be able to come?
Congratulations Gene and Grace! Your faith and trust in our Lord is very inspiring. We are so happy for you both. It’s great that Gene has found his right arm again!
Hey there! Check out my Author Page for a couple of pics I posted recently — one is of the kitchen. Teeny tiny. “Compact” is a better term 🙂
Will I see you at the Homewood women’s retreat in March?
I am so encouraged about your faith and how God is working in your lives! I lived on a sailboat for a month in my past and loved it. Do you know the crew from the Coastal Messenger based out of Chemanius? It’s where we first met going over to Thetis. God bless you both and your ministry.
Hi Sue. Do you have any handy dandy tips for living aboard? I’m wide open! Yes, we’ve met the crew from the Coastal Messenger. They’re usually at Missions Fest Vancouver, so we’ll see them next weekend. God bless you too!
These transitions are always scary but exciting too. Just prayed for you both. 🙂 Marcia
Thank you for those prayers, Marcia. So much to do in very little time, but I know God will see us through the moving details, the work that needs to be done on the boat before March 1, and learning to live in a different way. He is faithful.
I can relate to your experience of seeing God do so much more than you feel like you can manage or deserve. He is such a gracious, generous, loving God! Really happy for you and Gene.
Thank you for those encouraging words, Nancy. We’re leaning heavily on this gracious, generous, loving God right now 🙂
wow your so right when God says now He takes action!! You are such a woman of faith and I had heard that you were coming to speak in May at our women in Touch retreat just outside of Edmonton Alberta! I was so excited as you were such an encouraging influence when I moved to Jamaica with my hubby. I am praying and hoping that God helps me to get there, and if He wants me there then we both know it will happen. I will keep you in prayer over the next 6 weeks for sure as you make this drastic life change, I totally get giving away all things precious and we did that then we went to Jamaica. I am sure that my house there will know my presence again before to long. I am waiting for God to say NOW! Blessings sis and prayers for peace and strength as you write and pack and down size all at the same time! In Jesus name Amen
Hi Christine! I didn’t realize the Edmonton retreat is actually hosted by your church. Very cool. I hope you can come. It would be wonderful to meet you in person. God bless you, my friend.
Cool!! God’s amazing! So happy for you both!!
Thanks, Joyce. Yes, this is quite a faith adventure. Stretching and fun at the same time 🙂
Praying for you! Thanks for sharing. I love how you have encouraged and supported your husband’s dream. God is good. It definitely is an adventure living with and for Him. ☺
Thanks for your prayers, Carola. Yes, this is certainly an adventure. As the time approaches quickly for the big move, and I’m making little headway on the Bible study with its looming deadline, it’s becoming a white-knuckle adventure. “I will trust and not be afraid” has become my mantra of sorts!
Loved your boat story and how God weaves together the pieces when we’re obedient and intentionally seeking Him!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it. He truly did weave every strand together to form a beautiful tapestry. We have no idea how long we’ll live aboard other than until He says it’s over and time to move on. We’re good with that! 🙂