A coastal wind ruffled my hair as I sat outside our small stucco tract house in Lompoc, California, and I wondered for the millionth time if we should move. The house seemed to squeeze tighter around us as our three active sons, ages thirteen, ten and six, kept growing.
I longed for more room. My husband Patrick and I often looked at larger homes, yearning yet hesitant. The question hounded me again: Should we try to move?
I prayed for guidance. While reading my Bible one day my heart quickened when I came across Psalm 18:19 (NIV), which read, “He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.” Did I dare believe what I sensed God was telling me? My heart said yes, and I wrote in the margin, “December 2, 1987—God’s promise to me for a spacious home.”
More than three years later I was wondering if I had misunderstood. The year before, we had tried to buy a larger home contingent on selling ours, but our house wouldn’t budge. After discovering a new home for sale, we decided to try again.
In spite of our efforts, the For Sale sign stubbornly remained. No one could understand it, least of all me. After all, God had given me a promise—hadn’t He?
Evening strolls with my friend Arlene provided welcome diversion. During one brisk walk Arlene abruptly stopped and squealed with delight. “Look,” she exclaimed, “a penny!”
I laughed. “Arlene, I’ve never seen anyone get so excited over finding a penny.”
“Oh, but it’s not just a penny,” she explained. “My grandma taught me that every time I find a penny to think about the inscription on it, ‘In God We Trust.’ It’s my special reminder from God to trust Him.”
I smiled as she pocketed the coin and we continued our walk. Surprisingly, not long afterward I began to find pennies myself—on the sidewalk and in parking lots. Lord, are these from You? I thought. Yet the tedious routine of cleaning for open houses and impromptu showings dragged on for months with no offers.
Our real-estate agent was as baffled as we were. We agreed to drop the asking price well below market value. Still nothing happened. Weary in spirit, Patrick and I went for an evening walk. I had told him about Arlene and her pennies, and how since then I had been finding the coppery coins myself.
When Patrick spied a penny a split second before I did, he scooped it up. He teased me when I whined that the penny he had picked up was mine. “Nope, this one’s mine,” he said with a grin. Inwardly I complained, I know it’s silly, Lord, but I really needed that penny tonight.
I don’t understand why this is taking so long. I still felt disgruntled later when I started to transfer a load of laundry into the dryer. The clothes were strictly underwear and socks, so I was amazed when a shiny penny appeared amid the pocketless clothing. It was as if God had wrapped His arms around me and whispered, “I haven’t forgotten you. Just keep trusting Me.”
As our housing problem continued, I reluctantly listened to Patrick’s suggestion that we consider moving to a rural area in northern California. His job with the California Highway Patrol allowed for statewide transfers.
We had already planned to make such a move when Patrick approached retirement, because his seniority would guarantee our choice then. Now I balked at the thought of leaving our friends and church and my school library job. Yet I sensed an unmistakable peace as we chose towns to visit during our June vacation.
Before our trip, Patrick and I took a walk around a nearby field and found a dirt-encrusted nickel. I scraped off the grime with my fingernail and uncovered the familiar “In God We Trust.” I wondered, Is this supposed to give me five times the hope, Lord?
After a day’s drive we traveled through high desert and into the rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains. Deeper in Plumas County we admired the majestic evergreens, cascading streams and pristine lakes. The quaint downtown of Quincy with its historic buildings charmed me. This is the setting I’ve dreamed of all my life, I thought. I turned to Patrick and said, “I feel like I’m coming home.” Is this why nothing would work out before? While we wandered around the town, a penny shined up at me, and I sensed God’s smile and answer.
Do I dare hope for this to happen? I wondered again. Back home, Patrick submitted his transfer request. Although our hearts had been captured by Plumas County, we knew it might be years before the transfer could occur. Yet I couldn’t help but hope and pray for a miracle as I kept finding pennies reminding me of God’s trustworthy care.
October brought the announcement of that very miracle: Patrick had made the transfer list! Our hearts burst with joy and gratitude. On Thanksgiving Day he left to find us a home. With Quincy’s population of only 5000, coupled with the onset of winter, few houses were available.
Patrick bought the last one he saw, a refurbished Victorian-style home. Its warmth embraced me when I arrived in January, and I knew it was the house God had in mind all along. It had large rooms and ten-foot ceilings; the word spacious described it perfectly. And there was more to God’s promise-keeping.
Our old home sold at its market value. Patrick reported to his new job four years to the day of God’s promise to me—December 2, 1991. And a library position at the nearby elementary school opened up for me the following August, replacing the same dream job I had left.
God’s promise held more blessings than I ever imagined. I rarely find pennies these days. But when I do, I add them to all the others in the clear glass container that sits on my desk. I call them my pennies from heaven. They serve as small reminders of a big God who loves me and who can be trusted every time.