It was 1998. I had just graduated from college, and was working on my teaching credential. I moved into #9 with three friends. The apartment complex was a logical choice: affordable, friendly, and small--only about 40 units total. All the units faced an inner courtyard with green grass and a pool.
I lived in #9 for two years. Most of our furniture had been found on the side of the road. Autumn and I stood on the couch, singing at the top of our lungs into wooden spoons. Sofia and I spread our student teaching materials all over the floor. The guys in an apartment on the second floor started a prank war with us, and one day we came home to the shower full of popcorn.
Then this friend of mine named Gil started hanging out at our apartment, all the time. Autumn and Becca would give me knowing smiles every time he left.
Gil and I got married in 2000. We moved across the courtyard into #14. It was a two-bedroom, just happened to be the largest unit in the complex, and was way too big for a young married couple, but we took it anyway because we didn't want to leave the complex. We spent our first year there. I filled the cupboards with my wedding gifts and burned the first meal I cooked for guests.
After two years in Tanzania, we were back in California so that Gil could finish seminary. This time we took a one bedroom in the same complex, #37.
I hosted chocolate fondue parties for college girls in that apartment, Gil worked on his seminary papers, and I watched with longing all the moms with little kids running around outside.
Fast forward 8 more years in Tanzania.
Months and months ago, I started thinking about where we would live on our home assignment.
I knew we would only be able to afford a two-bedroom.
I knew I wanted to live in the same area of our favorite complex, because it is walkable and ethnically diverse and very close to our church.
I thought about how great it would be if we could even live in that same complex where we had already spent 5 years.
And whenever I imagined our life in the States, I thought about how perfect it would be to live in #14 again. It was huge. Even with just two bedrooms, we would have plenty of room. The front room was big enough for large groups,which is unusual for an apartment. And the complex was kid-friendly and small.
Then I thought, Come on, Amy. You can't get your hopes up. What really would be the chances that specific apartment will be available?
But deep inside my heart, I prayed tiny little secret prayers. Could we please have #14, God? I hoped, but I didn't really believe it could happen.
In the past couple of months, I've done a bunch of on-line apartment searching. I've been in touch with a few different managers, including the one from our favorite complex.
Last week I wrote to her again, telling her that we now knew that we would need an apartment at the end of September, and would she please let me know if any two-bedrooms come available for that time?
She wrote back immediately and said she had just received notice for a two bedroom coming available the middle of September.
Were we interested?
Number 14. Available. At the exact time we would need it.
My heart started thumping and my hands started shaking.
Really, God? Really and truly?
She had two other people interested. We applied immediately and held our breath.
And now it will be ours.
We will return from our six week road trip at the end of September (and three months living out of suitcases), and move into #14. Other than my parents' house, it's the only place in America that actually remotely feels like home to me.
He knows the number of hairs on my head; He knows my deepest longings. And though His will often supersedes my desires and I must trust Him with that, sometimes He delights in giving us exactly what we want.