Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Story of Freedom Hill

We have named our new house Freedom Hill. Our home is located at the top of one of the biggest hills in our town, the views are fabulous, so I knew the name should contain Hill in some form or another. I didn't want to call it Johnson Hill because it didn't seem unique enough.

My youngest son suggested Freedom Hill and gave his reasons. Our house represents freedom to us in many ways. We voted on the name last night at dinner and it was unanimous.

The first reason we love the name Freedom Hill is, we live in the greatest country with the world's greatest freedoms.

Second, it's not a parsonage. We lived in a parsonage for 8 years before buying a house in NY. Fortunately for us, our family outgrew the 4-bedroom parsonage the church in NY had provided, so we were able to buy a gorgeous 6-bedroom house there. We lived in that house for 10 years, but moved to MN where we were, once again, required to live in a parsonage. It was not our choice; we were not given a choice. That proved to be the most difficult of all our parsonage experiences (we'd lived in one for 3 years in PA). Turns out many of the church members stalked the parsonage there and while the house was situated in a quiet neighborhood, we had very little privacy.

Being stalked is difficult, invasive and oppressive. There were times we would return from a vacation and within 5 minutes, people from the church would be on our doorstep, wanting to talk or visit. It felt weird, did they know we were home? One man told us that he drives by the parsonage every day to check and see what was going on. Um....our lives were going on....

In our NY parsonage, people did sometimes walk into the parsonage without knocking, which I found completely unacceptable. That stopped when we bought our house. But, when it also happened in MN, I was nearly undone. I walked into my kitchen one day to find a man from the church standing over our counter, looking through some papers we'd left there! Imagine! He was going through our mail. I very quickly took care of whatever business he had with us and ushered him out the door.

When our ministry at the MN church ended due to severe persecution, we found ourselves homeless. After all, we lived in a parsonage.....leave the church, leave your home. Looking to move back to the east to be near more of our older kids, we finally found temporary housing in MD in the form of a parsonage. We agreed to help the church there in exchange for using the house on a temporary basis, but soon found that we were incompatible with the senior pastor. We are deeply committed to expository preaching, but his preaching (and life practices) were far from proper or acceptable.

We soon found a gorgeous house in the woods and felt a real sense of relief. The house was not a parsonage, but a rental. The owner lived 200 yards away, but trees blocked their house. The owner's husband did like to stalk the house some, but we were overall happy there and settled in. My husband had found a job within 3 days of arriving in MD and we were now searching for a church home.

We lived in that house in the woods for 18 months and had no intention of leaving until we were ready to buy. God does not promise us an easy ride through this life, however, and while we were feeling more and more settled, we got bad news upon bad news. My husband was suddenly hospitalized with severe back pain and subsequently diagnosed with cancer. The day after he got out of the hospital, the landlords called and said they were selling the house and gave us 30 days to move. Shocked, we asked for 60 days and told them about his cancer. They said ok to 60, but sent a letter which said to be out in 30 days.

David was having chemo and all its glorious side effects, so I was basically on my own to find a house. We were able to find another rental that was suitable, but we wanted to buy. There wasn't time; we had just 30 days to move.

After being in the 2nd rental for 9 months, we had 2 electrical fires. Because the electrician was not going to fix the problem (only patch), we didn't feel safe and started an aggressive house hunt to find a house we could buy.

Just as all this was happening, my hubby got a call out of the blue from a recruiter telling him he'd be perfect for a job he was recruiting for. David had not circulated his pastoral resume and had no intention of doing so. (That's another story entirely.) The recruiter had done his homework on David well (through LinkedIn) and he was perfectly suited to the job; he was hired. It's an executive position and provides well, which put us in a position to buy a house. You can read about our harrowing house hunt here.

God is good. We bought this gorgeous 7-bedroom, 3200 square foot house on a hill and have now named it Freedom Hill. It has a few quirks (we have to remodel the kitchen, it needs a new laundry room and the a/c is insufficient since they built an addition so a couple bedrooms have window units for now), but we love it and it's OURS!

No one is stalking us.
No one can call us up and tell us we have to move in 30 days.
We will not be having any electrical fires since #1, the house is properly wired and #2, my hubby knows how to fix all that and would do it right if it needed it.
Biggest perk of all, it's OURS, not a parsonage.

So, maybe, if you read to the end of this, you can understand why the name Freedom Hill is so special and important to us.

I am happy that I will never have to live in a parsonage again. If your pastor lives in a parsonage, encourage them to buy their own home and put that parsonage up for sale.
Churches need to get out of the parsonage business.

From Freedom Hill,

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