divine appointments, Faith, Inspiration, Newcastle, Timing, Uncategorized

We Got a House!

My learning curve on rental house hunting in the Newcastle area was fast and furious.  Although I envisioned hiring an agent to find a home, the market works differently with rentals in such high demand.  We were on our own locating properties online.  Every week, we narrowed down a list of houses and inspection times, weighing out the two hour drive from where we are living with Greg’s family against our interest on each property. Our 15 minute inspection coincided with every other Tom, Dick and Harry who also had interest in the property.  With as many as 20 other families inspecting a property, the process was intimidating.  After all, we were peeking in closets and whispering to each other about where our furniture would go right next to the “competition” and his wife.  Afterwards, we applied and hoped the the owner picked us.

My extensive applications including letters of reference, photos of our TX home, bank statements, and offers to pay the bond (deposit) plus three month’s rent up front were an effort to stand out from the crowd.  After the first denial, I was starting to stress.  I knew God had the perfect house for us; deep down, I honestly was worried about how we would find it. My cover letter needed to be just right, with the perfect “one-liner” to get the owner’s attention.  I think this striving went on even in my sleep.  My fretting over finding a home that would fit our furniture, was constant.

Every day that went by in Forster, I felt a little more concerned.  I didn’t expect house hunting to be so difficult.  Week before last, we had two properties to see with inspections on Wednesday and Friday. I really wanted the Friday house because of its proximity to the lake and primary school for Brett.  We drove down two hours each way twice and applied for both homes.

The following Monday morning brought much disappointment as the owners decided to sell the house near the lake instead of lease it. A wasted trip and wasted hours of application preparation.  But by afternoon, our situation had changed.  We had been approved for the home we viewed on Wednesday in Charlestown!  Our four week wait was over; we decided to take possession of the house and sign the lease on Friday.

God had other plans for us, however.

Our SUV was packed to the hilt on in preparation for the trip down.  Our plan was to enroll Brett in school, sign the lease, and shop for appliances.  An hour before leaving, Greg got a phone call from a golf mate about a guy he knows who has a four bedroom home in Belmont North. Greg called to inquire about the house even though I was in the background saying, “NO! We are signing our lease at one o’clock today.  We have a house now and are not interested.”

Needless to say, the man who owns the home is a Christian and felt like our connection was, in his words, “a God thing.”  He had put the house up for sale five days prior, but for some reason agreed to rent it to us for a year at $200 less per month than the Charlestown home. Belmont is a much more desirable location for us and this 2 year old house sits on a flat private street with a shared pool and BBQ right in our front yard.  Perfect for meeting our neighbors and beginning our life in Oz!

I am so thankful Greg answered the phone that morning.  It reminded me:

God is in control of everything.  Proverbs 16:9 says “In his heart, man plans his course, but God orders his footsteps.”  We felt like the property management companies were controlling our steps.  I even fooled myself into thinking I was making my path by creating outstanding applications and having cash in hand.  Our heavenly father knew exactly what he had in store.  We were not forgotten in a pile of paperwork on a stranger’s desk.

God is never early and never late.  He is always on time.  In this case, the phone call came literally one hour before we were leaving to sign for the other home.  I think of Lazarus (John 11) dying because Jesus was “too late” to heal him. In actuality, Jesus raised him from the dead in his own timing. God cut through a majorly time consuming process and gave us a house with one short phone call.

God wants us to be flexible.  I hate changing course midstream.  In this case, I had been shopping for rugs and bar stools for the Charlestown home.  Our suitcases were packed and the car was loaded with cleaning supplies and other necessities.  The last thing I wanted was an interruption of MY PLANS!  Even if it seems like a detour to us, God wants us to trust him at every turn.

God opens doors we don’t even know are there.  Greg was just playing a round of golf last weekend.  He met Tom who knows Matt who rented us his home two hours away.  Greg must have made an impression that allowed Tom to put in a good word for us.  Greg is excited he has evidence to prove playing golf is ministry!  I have evidence that God, my advocate, is endlessly working on my behalf.

God wants to give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4). Most of our home searches over the month were near the Belmont suburb for its proximity to hiking and biking trails, the beach and lake.  I wanted a flat street (Newcastle is VERY hilly).  Brett has been praying for a pool since before we left Texas.  We were willing to let go of all of that and take the Charlestown home, but in the end, God gave us what we wanted.

God wants to be glorified by our lives.  I love testifying to the Lord’s goodness in my life.  Being open to this last minute opportunity allowed room for this “God story!”  In the end, we didn’t even need an application.  We didn’t need three month’s rent up front.  We didn’t even give our driver’s license or proof of income.  All we needed was a willingness to go out of our way to let God show us His.

Timing, Uncategorized

Visa Approval

Last week was a huge milestone in our journey to start a new life and church in Australia.  One of the big hurdles for anyone wanting to move overseas is obtaining permission from the foreign government to do so (a visa).  Many people inaccurately think you can automatically go if you are married to someone from that country (like I am).

I applied for a partner migration visa back in October.  After a month-long process of gathering documents including a notarized stack of birth certificates, marriage certificate, copies of passports along with obtaining about 4 new passport sized photos for each family member, my application and the $2200 was mailed off to the Australian Embassy in Washington D.C.  I still had to wait on the state of Texas and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to reply with a piece of paper saying I had no criminal history on record.  The process also included a trip to Dallas with the kids to obtain medical checks, chest x-rays, and blood and urinalysis to declare us all healthy.  I accomplished each of these final application pieces mid-December.  And the waiting began.

Everything I had researched said the provisional visa takes anywhere from 5-12 months to be approved.  I would be able to stay in Australia and work legally as well as acquire health insurance.  After two years, I could then apply for a permanent visa to live there as long as I want.  Then, I could even apply for citizenship (I would be a dual US/Australian citizen).

After checking on the status of my application in January, I was told the same 5-12 month timeframe from when my application was received (October).  Our entire future plans rest on this visa being approved.

Well, (drumroll please)… I am thrilled to announce that my visa was approved last week!  Yes, only FOUR months after I applied!  What a relief!  Not only is my visa approved, but I have a deadline for entry which is October 10.  Meaning, I MUST move by October or my visa is void.

Secondly, an unexpected blessing is that the type of visa I was approved for is a PERMANENT migration visa.  This means the two-year waiting period has been waived.  I can apply for citizenship, work legally as soon as I arrive, obtain medical benefits from the Government health plan, and even receive free English language tuition (which I might need!).

God is so good.  He is faithful.  He is never late and never early.  He is always on time.  The fact that my visa took less time than expected means we have work to do and he is paving the way for us to get there and get started.