A few months ago, as I helped prepare my childhood home for market, I envisioned a new family living there, a couple with two little girls. Laughter rang through the long-empty house; children raced and tumbled over the hills and waded in the shallow stream, feasting on blackberries, apples, plums, and pears. The family raised a garden together and gathered by the wood stove on a cold winter’s evening, as we had. I was captivated!


From then on, I prepared the house for this family, and as I did, drudgery turned to excitement and pleasure.


Days after the house went on the market, we received a low-ball offer from a couple with two little girls. Though we couldn’t accept their offer, I knew this was the family I’d “seen”!  It had never occurred to me that I was tapping into an actual family, yet these were the people whose joy I’d felt; this was their home!


Their second offer was full price. Though multiple roadblocks to financing arose, I was untroub-led. However impossible it seemed, it was in God’s hands. Each obstacle fell away.

The day the house closed I went there to say goodbye. When I arrived, a car was in the drive-way, a young man behind the wheel. Certain that this was the buyer, Russ, I introduced myself. He replied, “I’m Russ.”  I said, “I’ve come to say goodbye,” to which he replied, “I thought you would. I wanted to meet you.” He’d arrived about three minutes earlier, to meet me!


We talked for 1½ hours, non-stop. He grew up in Ashland, where my daughter Carlie attends college. His aunt lives a quarter of a mile from our house; he grew up playing in the neighborhood! When he saw the house on the Internet, he recognized it.


I told him about “seeing” his family, preparing the house with them in mind, “recognizing” them at their first offer, and that I’d never worried, despite all the challenges. He, too, had known it was their home from the beginning, and had never worried, however impossible it looked. They want us to visit and share our stories of the house and neighborhood. They want to know us!


After Russ left, I sat outside, excitedly trying to say goodbye to the house. It wasn’t working. Then I noticed a single crocus, in full bloom. We’d never planted crocuses! How could this be?


Crocuses make me think of spring and new beginnings….I sat back down in wonder. When I did—I kid you not—at high noon, on a sunny September day, I was suddenly encircled by singing crickets! I laughed aloud in wonder! Is there a cheerier sound? God can be so not-subtle!


I saw then, in my mind’s eye, my brother and me, sitting in that yard beside Russ and his wife, watching their little girls play. Of course I couldn’t say goodbye! This wasn’t goodbye! It was just a bend in the river; the river goes on. Past, present, and future are all part of one river.


As I released my childhood home, God showed me the breath-taking continuity of life—through a “stranger” named Russ, a family I have yet to meet, a crocus, and a lot of crickets!

— Laurie Hoff Schaad