It was only 650 sq. ft. but it will always be pure gold to us. We were newly engaged and looking for our “first roof over our head” place. We were struggling to find a place, but God had a plan. One day, Tom O’Daniel, vice president of Indiana Bible College where I worked, asked me to come to his office. He began to explain that the college had recently purchased a home in hopes that the Dean of Students would live in it, but they had rejected the idea. He questioned our plans for housing and eventually asked if we would consider living in the home. He explained that it was in bad shape and needed some work. He told me to take a look at it, informed me that the key had been lost, and let me know I would need to break a window to get in. For us, a young couple just getting started, it felt as though he had just handed us a hundred thousand dollars. No apartment, no rent, and an actual home. I was weeping as I left his office, I immediately called Mary to share the news, and then headed over to break a window. Crawling through the kitchen window and landing in the sink, I quickly surmised that by saying, “it is in bad, shape” he meant it was a dump. Everything in the kitchen was covered with at least an inch of grease, dirty pots and pans filled the sink, and there was an indescribable smell. Moving from the kitchen to the front room I found the sources of the stench. Pea green shag carpet with trash strown everywhere and stains that looked as if someone had changed the oil of a car on it. The walls looked like they had been used for a sink, stain plastered spots with the odor of beer. Moving from the living room, it’s hard to believe, but it got worse, especially the smell. I held my breath as I entered the bathroom. A pink sink was attached to the wall with duct tape holding the pipe from the wall to the spout under the sink. The baby blue bathtub was covered with more rust than color. The walls were paneling, but instead of the stripes running vertically, they ran horizontal. Quickly I exited the bath to observe the two small bedrooms. The rooms were painted horrid colors, filled with trash and clothing, but I could grasp flipping them into great rooms rather easily. The task seemed a tad overwhelming, but I was excited about the gift, the opportunity, and taking on the challenge. So, long before there was Chip and Joanna, there was Jon and Mary.
My parents jumped in to help, I gathered some basic construction knowledge and started. We cleared trash, tore out carpet, and though I had never heard of Kilz, I quickly became a big fan. We “Kilzed” everything; walls, floors, and even the kitchen cabinets. Within a few months the dump had been transformed into our dream home. We would spend the first ten years of our life on Carson Avenue, bringing both of our children home there, and making some of our fondest memories there. But something happened about eight years into living in our miracle home. It became too small; our blessing had become a burden. Our family had grown, sleeping was becoming an issue, it was obvious each kid needed their own room. We did what we had to do, packed up the family room, made it our bedroom, and lived in our three-bedroom home, with a kitchen, and a bath until we moved. The house had not changed, we had. God had blessed us by giving us children, but the growth had brought challenges, and that meant it was time for a change, we needed a bigger place. But something else had happened, not only had our family grown, but our ministry had matured as well. Indiana Bible College will always hold some of our fondest memories, but without realizing it, we had outgrown it too. God had a greater challenge for us. It would mean change, change that would be difficult, but embracing God’s change is often the catalyst that takes you to better places. Though we were scared and there was much uncertainty, we began to pray for God to show us our next assignment.
Leaving 650 sq. ft. would take us to Blue Sky Drive and the beginning of Life Connections. The next twenty years would be some of the greatest times of our lives, there is nothing like starting with nothing and watching what God can do. God allowed us to experience incredible and amazing successes that forever changed our lives and let us experience many incredible miracles, too numerous to put in this space. But there was a moment when we realized we had come to the end of our season. It was again time for change, we had once again outgrown a ministry, this time it was Life Connections. Now, as we are transitioning from Senior Pastors to Senior Advisors, it’s a tad easier. Why? Because 650 sq. ft. taught us that if you want to continue to grow, live in vision, and experience all that God has designed for you, you must continue to outgrow where you are. What does our future hold? We really don’t know, but we are confident of this, “He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it.” 650 sq. ft. left a Hudson family principle in us and it’s this, always live so that you outgrow and outlive your life.