Last Thursday we celebrated ‘Moving In Day”: the anniversary of the day we moved, for the first time, into a home of our own.

For 25 years Andy and I, and our ever growing family, carted our belongings from one rental home to another. How we longed for a place of our own, somewhere we wouldn’t have a landlord to answer to, some house we could put our mark on, our refuge from the difficulties of the outside world.

About 12 years ago, a fellow parishioner approached us: How would you like to look after a fish farm rent free? It would be great for the children…all that space.”

I began to wonder if this offer of a rent free home was the answer to our prayers. Could we save the deposit for a house of our own while living on the fish farm? I very enthusiastically began to consider the offer.

Andy was not so enthusiastic. “I will be travelling 4 hours a day to and from work.”

“Perhaps St Joseph will send a job closer to home,” I suggested. So we went out and had a look at the cottage on the farm where we could be living.

My heart sank when I saw the house. We drove up the dusty driveway to discover a small run down cottage in the middle of an unkempt yard. “It might look better on the inside,” I said hurriedly. But it didn’t. There were broken windows, peeling paint, holes in walls, a broken stove, dirt everywhere…

That should have been the end of the matter. But it wasn’t. I wouldn’t let go of the dream of having my own home. And if this tumbledown cottage was part of that plan then I could live there. I badgered Andy, “Look at all that bush out there waiting for the kids to explore! One hundred acres! Plenty of space to ride bikes, play games, bush walk and we could have a vegetable garden. We could swim in the dams. We could have a dog.” By this time all the children were getting excited. It was only Andy who continued to be sensible.

Back at home, I decided to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I begged for a sign telling us what to do. Were we meant to take up this offer of rent free accommodation or remain living where we were? I stayed a long time on my knees but no answer seemed to be coming.

So I went back to nagging Andy. “Just think, if we ignore this opportunity to save some money for a deposit for a house, we may never get another chance again.”

Andy is a very good man. I know he didn’t want to travel so far back and forth from work each day. I know he didn’t like the idea of moving his family into such dilapidated accommodation. But he could see the excitement on the children’s faces and the dreams that were so important to me.

So a few weeks later, we packed up and left town for a wild adventure in the country. We swept and scrubbed and cleaned. Then we filled holes, fixed windows, applied paint. We whippersnippered grass, hauled rubbish to the tip and fixed fences. We arranged our belongings and furniture and made a home out of that very unattractive dwelling.

But sometimes dreams do not match up to reality. Andy soon became exhausted driving so far each day. There seemed no prospect of him getting a job closer to home. Most of the property was too rough and steep for bike riding. We acquired a dog but she spent most of the night howling at the wildlife and most of the day trying to escape through holes in the fences. We discovered the soil was too poor for growing vegetables and anyway, we didn’t have any water. It never seemed to rain and we were dependant on every drop that fell into the tank. Every few weeks there would be an ominous gurgle in the water pipes and we knew we were once again down to our last few litres of water. It would be time once again to buy some. And even though the house had been cleaned from top to bottom, we couldn’t seem to get rid of all the rats and mice despite setting up an army of mouse traps every night.

It wasn’t all bad. We did have some good times too. It was peaceful and quiet (if you ignored the nearby freeway) and we enjoyed walking through the bush and seeing the kangaroos bound away from us. Sometimes we’d have a Rosary procession of our very own as we walked from dam to dam feeding the fish. We all worked hard together and drew closer as we faced one problem after another. And the thought of our growing bank account kept us going when, what we really felt like doing, was running back to town.

Then one day we found out that our unborn son had an abnormality. He wasn’t expected to live after birth. This news changed everything. A house of our own no longer seemed a priority. It seemed far more important to be living in town close to good medical facilities. The dream had gone sour. We packed up and headed back to town, back to another house in a long line of rental properties.

I think about that time on the fish farm. I really do not think God meant us to live there. There are some opportunities that come our way that we have to consider with commonsense and then reject. I think about praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Perhaps I did get an answer that day. Perhaps the answer was, “No’ and I turned a deaf ear. I just wanted to do what I wanted. I didn’t want to listen to Andy or commonsense or reason.  And why was I so set on getting our own home? I just didn’t want to rely on God anymore. I didn’t want to trust He would find us a home every time we needed one. I wanted to make my own security.

We rented for another ten years before St Joseph finally found us this dream house of our very own. By then we knew if God can provide a home in the fussy rental market for 9 people with a mountain of belongings, and a menagerie of pets, He can do anything.

Reflecting on this, it seems rather ridiculous not to believe that God can do such a small thing. After all He is the Creator of this world. Then why are we so slow to trust Him?  Sometimes I find this truly mystifying.

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  1. Found you on Catholic Mothers' online - keep up the good work!

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