Thursday, July 7, 2011

Moving to His tune

This is Lim Tong Hai, ex-captain of the Singapore national football team and current team manager of Geylang United.

You may wonder what he's doing in our living room. No, we don't know him personally and no, Andre didn't win some "Meet A Local Sports Celebrity" contest.

You see, we recently put our place up for sale and have been receiving potential buyers. Lo and behold, one afternoon, Lim Tong Hai turned up to view our home! Kenneth recognised him, being an avid soccer fan. We asked if he would mind having a photo taken with Andre, who was slightly star-struck. If LTH was put off by being in the spotlight while doing a regular activity like house-hunting, he didn't show it. He was super friendly and obliging.

Anyway, I sidetrack - that's not the focus of this post. I wanted to share the circumstances that led to us putting our home for sale because it's a terrific testimony to how God works in our lives.

A couple of months ago, a sudden death in the family threw everything out of whack. Without going into too much detail, we basically needed to find alternative living arrangements for Kenneth's mum.

We felt that moving in to a larger place with her would be too costly and disruptive for everyone, so we decided to find a two-bedroom apartment for her in our condominium estate. This way, she can be close to us and we can walk over to check on her everyday.

Thus began a one-month rigmarole. What we thought would be a straight-forward process (there are more than 1,000 units in our estate, how hard can it be to find an apartment?) became a nightmare. Every night, I would pray with the kids, "Please help us find a nice place for nai nai".

We made 4 offers, put down the 1% cheque twice, even had agents shake our hands to seal the deal, only to have the deal broken at the very last minute for various reasons - outbid twice, 1 suddenly decided not to sell, 1 went into a price war. The situation became so crazy that 2-bedroom apartments in our estate were snapped up at record prices and in record time, often within one weekend of listing.

Kenneth and I started questioning why God wasn't answering our prayers and instead, seemed to be blocking our way. We began wondering if it's because we'd been heading down the wrong path. One Saturday, Kenneth saw that a brand new 4-storey semi-detached house opposite his mum's apartment was holding an open house. We went to take a look just for fun, as we'd seen it being built over the past few months. Turns out, it's a terribly impractical house with a scary price tag, definitely not for us.

An agent approached us and asked for our requirements. Just for the heck of it, we gave our wishlist - 4+1 bedrooms, condo facilities, move-in condition, close to amenities, blah blah blah AND below $x. It sounded ridiculous even in my mind. I half expected the agent to say, "Do you think we're in Disneyland?", but to our surprise, he asked, "oh, have you considered Y? It's a couple of streets away and it meets your requirements."

Our curiosity piqued, of course we had to take a look and the agent arranged for us to view a couple of units in estate Y (I'm not disclosing the name for privacy reasons). It turns out that the layout of the units suits us to a T. There's space for everyone of us, even a bedroom with ensuite for Kenneth's mum. Both Kenneth and I could have our own offices, such luxury! There was a very nice pool and the ambience inside the estate was lovely. It was even walking distance to the MRT, which is such a great bonus since we use the trains extensively. The best part was, the price was within our budget.

We were quite taken with the place but as perpetual skeptics, we were still not entirely convinced that moving to Y was the right thing to do. We continued praying, asking God to show us what to do since we're obviously quite clueless.

That very week on Friday, Kenneth was driving me to a meeting and we decided to stop for lunch first. He turned off to this area which was unusual in itself because it's not one of our regular haunts. As he parked the car along the side of the road, I looked across the road and there, staring me in the face was the large signboard of a shop with exactly the same name and spelling as estate Y! It's uncanny because it's not a name I've seen used anywhere else and it has a very odd spelling. And then I saw that a few outlets down, there was a shop with the name "Ken Home".

The feeling was surreal. I turned to Kenneth and said, "God must think we're pretty stupid, He has to spell it out for us like that." Kenneth added, "well, I did pray for a sign..." Talk about being literal. We took photos of the two signs, to prove they're not figments of our imagination.

As if that's not enough, when Lesley-Anne came home from school that evening, she excitedly recounted a dream she had the night before. She dreamt that she was with a friend and they came to this house she'd never seen before. Her friend asked, "isn't this your home?" to which she replied, "no, I've never been here." Her friend then questioned, "if it isn't your home, why is your Benjamin Bunny sticker on the window?" True enough, it was.

To give a little backgrounder, Lesley-Anne has been the most resistant to moving. She loves our current home and has often declared that she wants to live here forever. The Benjamin Bunny sticker has been on her bedroom window since the day we moved in some 11 years ago (which explains its weathered condition). To her, the dream was a clear message from God that she could make a home elsewhere and be happy there.

After that, we were 100% sold on the idea. I mean, if the Big Guy says this is the way, who are we to argue? We contacted a few agents to view more units at estate Y that very weekend. The last unit we saw was practically perfect for us. One of the few issues we had with this estate was with the maid's room and this unit actually redid the maid's room so that it met our requirements. It had also been recently renovated so that we could move in without doing any heavy work.

We made an offer, the owner accepted it and signed the paperwork within a day. No hiccups, no last minute hitches, everything was smooth sailing.

This whole episode was such a blessing for my family and there were two main things I gained from it:

1) Gratitude: actually overwhelming gratitude. You know, as Christians, our family is probably not the best role model. We sometimes forget to pray, skip church and display ungodly behaviour like yelling at each other more often than we should. Yet, God cares enough about us to painstakingly point us in the right direction, step by step. Amazing love. We sometimes joke, wouldn't it be nice if God could plant neon signs telling us what to do each time. This came pretty close to that.

2) Reassurance: in life, we frequently have doubt, whether we're doing the right thing or making the right choices. In this situation, when we're clear that this is God's will, all doubt or fear is removed. We don't have to second guess whether we should have bought this place or whether we paid the right price for it. Obeying God can never be wrong.

I've found that God doesn't relate to everyone the same way. He speaks to each one of us in the style that best suits us individually. For example, we don't like to take ourselves too seriously and we're uncomfortable with overly pious displays of devotion so we find that God often connects with us with a generous dose of humour. The challenge is adjusting our antennae so we can receive the signal more clearly. Perhaps the solution, like in many other areas in life, is just to listen more attentively.

So, that's the story of why our apartment is for sale. Incidentally, Lim Tong Hai didn't buy it. That would have been another interesting story!

"Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it." - Luke 11:28


Lilian said...

Congratulations, it's a beautiful house and although the journey involved a little detour, at the end, the clear signs were truly amazing. Can't wait to visit you and experience your MIL's culinary skills :D

And I like Lim Tong Hai...not many cute footballers during his era, but he's one of the cute ones!

monlim said...

Thanks Lilian! You're always welcome to my place. In fact, maybe can consider being my neighbour, hehe.

I agree re: LTH. He's still pretty cute now!

petite fleur said...

Congratulations ! Funnily enough we just got the keys to our new place today. It has been a bit of a journey for us but glad to hear it worked out for you too !

monlim said...

Thanks Mei! Hope you're enjoying your new place!

Anonymous said...

I am touched and amazed once again how God moves in people's live! Thanks for sharing! And may the Lord bless your family! :)

Anonymous said...


have been reading your blog for a while & enjoying it :)

this post really relates as how I feel God works in the most amazing & wonderful way which we do not know and appreciate at times, my house hunting experience, was something similiar to yours.

My husband & I had also chanced upon a place through God's grace cause in my hearts of heart, I had always wanted my boys to get into a mission school as husband & myself are not a great Christians and we think it will do our son good to go to a mission school.

I didn't in fact prayed alot for it but because my wish is so deeply embedded in my heart, God knows it all along & got a perfect place for my family & the best thing was we got it under valuation place when property prices started to go up rocket & crazy! Praise to the Lord!

Wishing you and family a happy moving home process! Enjoy :)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Mon for your new house and thanks for a timely reminder to pray!


monlim said...

Thanks QX and Anon! God is awesome :)

Anonymous said...

It was really encouraging to read your post and it spoke to me personally on faith and obedience. Thanks for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Mon! Thank you for sharing. This post came just at the right time!! I should pray and let God lead me to the right direction.


monlim said...

Chris: That's great! I'm guilty too of always trying to figure out my own way instead of letting Him lead. And the latter is so much easier too :P

Elan said...

Haven't been following your blog for quite a while and the minute I do I read about this amazing testimony.Thank you for sharing it.
God is great indeed.

He did a pretty similar thing for us and our house too! I'll tell you the testimony another time.It seems he speaks to us in the same way even - uncanny!

You and your family have been greatly blessed and I wish you all the best in your new home.


monlim said...

elan: Thanks and welcome back! We've often commented on how uncannily parallel our lives are, seems like this incident is no exception! Maybe we were twins separated at birth :D

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