Miracles from God that Brought Us to our Dream in East Tennessee

Miracles from God

Miracles really do happen if you dare to believe. My wife Janet and I both believe God is a God of miracles. Jesus told his disciples “with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) We were personally reminded of the truth of this when we moved from St. Louis, Missouri to Greenback, Tennessee in May of 2018. The list of miracles God performed on our behalf during this period of transition is extensive. I’d like to share the testimony of how God brought us to our dream. 

Where the Dream Began

I guess I really need to start our story from the beginning. It all started in 2009 when Janet and I were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. We celebrated by taking a short vacation to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Surrounded by the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg is a beautiful town in East Tennessee. It sits right at the entrance to The Smoky Mountain National Park. We rented a cabin in the mountains for our short stay in Gatlinburg. The cabin was in a beautiful, serene, and scenic location. From the outdoor deck of the cabin, a stunning view of the mountains was ours to enjoy. 

During our visit to Gatlinburg, we surveyed the breathtaking beauty of the Smoky Mountains. The Smoky Mountain National Park offers scenic beauty that is too beautiful to describe. After one visit to Gatlinburg, we were hooked. We fell in love with Gatlinburg, The Smoky Mountain National Park, and the beautiful mountains. Over the next several years, we took short getaways to the mountains at least once or twice a year. Each time we visited the area, our love for  East Tennessee was cemented in our hearts. 

Janet Becomes an Entrepreneur 

In 2009, a few months after our first trip to Gatlinburg, Janet became an entrepreneur. Through the leading and provision of God, Janet established her own medical recruiting company. We named the company Cornerstone Medical Recruiting. The company specializes in the recruitment of nurse practitioners and physician assistants nationwide. As the years went by, Janet did presentations to training programs in various areas of the country, including  the area around East Tennessee. We would always try to add a day or two of leisure and visit the area while there on business. 

Our Journey Out Of Debt

By 2010, we had spent several years making poor choices regarding the management of our money and finances. We knew we had to take control of our money. It was then we decided to enroll in a class offered by our church called Financial Peace University. It is a class featuring the teaching of Dave Ramsey that teaches money management from a biblical perspective. That class changed our lives. Using the principles we learned in Financial Peace University, we were able to pay off over $80,000 of junk debt over the following three years. By early 2013, we were completely debt free with the exception of our mortgage. This new freedom from junk debt allowed us to pay extra amounts toward the principal on our mortgage and build up assets through investments. 

The Dream Continued 

With our love of East Tennessee still growing and our much improved financial situation, a dream of retirement in East Tennessee was born. We researched towns within a short distance of the Smoky Mountains and had decided Maryville, Tennessee was our target retirement destination. Maryville was actually then ranked as one of the top places to retire in the country. I have always believed keeping a “vision board” or picture of your goal in sight is important to success. So, I purchased a paper map of the state of Tennessee and cut out a 5×7 inch section of it to frame. The area of the map centered on the vicinity of Maryville Tennessee and the surrounding communities. 

map

My “vision board” framed map of East Tennessee

Meeting Pacer Hepperly

As the years went by, we continued to take trips to East Tennessee and The Smoky Mountain National Park. Because we were considering Maryville Tennessee as our retirement destination, we sought out a local church in the area. Our search for a church led us to Rio Revolution Church in Maryville. Anytime we would travel to the area on a weekend, we attended Sunday services at Rio Revolution. Pacer Hepperly, the Pastor of Rio Revolution Church is a fantastic person and minister of the gospel. He is one of those people you instantly like and appreciate. His demeanor, personality, and sincerity is superb. After several visits to Rio Revolution and face to face conversations with Pacer, along with social media interaction with Pacer, a friendship was born. We knew when we retired, Rio Revolution Church would become our home church.

Pacer’s Prayer and Prophetic Statement

On one particular trip to the Smoky Mountains in the autumn of 2017, we visited Rio Revolution Church and had a heartfelt conversation with Pacer. We shared with him our dream of retirement in Maryville Tennessee and the restlessness we felt from continuing to be in the neighborhood where we lived. Pacer listened to our concerns and offered us great words of encouragement. At the close of our conversation with Pacer that day, he prayed with us and told us to keep trusting God for our move to Tennessee. He said. “God can make it happen sooner.” At the time we had no idea how true and prophetic those words would be. Little did we know our relocation was about to take place. 

Our Decision to Take a Leap of Faith

In late 2017, we experienced something that jolted us to our core and made us decide to pursue our dream immediately. By then, we had lived in the same house in North St. Louis County for almost 18 years. Over the course of the time we lived there, the neighborhood had deteriorated immensely. The crime rate was awful, we had experienced two home break-ins, and hearing gunfire in the neighborhood was a frequent occurrence. Our home was situated in an unincorporated area sandwiched between Ferguson Missouri and Dellwood Missouri. The rioting in Ferguson Missouri that occurred in August of 2014 was in an area a mile from our house. 

With the tremendous decline in the quality of the neighborhood, we felt trapped. We felt like our neighborhood was our bondage in Egypt and East Tennessee was our promised land. An incident on November 30, 2017 was the final straw that made us choose to vacate the area. On that day at 11:30 am, a two car rolling gun battle took place in the street directly in front of our house. Fifteen minutes before the gunfire occurred, Janet was in the front yard by the street walking our dog. The realization that she could have been killed in our yard sealed our decision. It was time to move. 

The Planning For Our Relocation 

A month after the street gun battle incident, Janet spoke to a medical recruiting company in Knoxville about possible employment. She had called them in response to an advertised job opening. After taking a trip to Knoxville to interview at the company, Janet was excited about the possibility of her company being purchased by the company she was interviewing at. We initially thought this would be our ticket out of St. Louis. But we soon discovered this wasn’t God’s exact plan. 

At our Christmas gathering with family in 2017, we made the announcement that we were leaving St. Louis. We told them our house would soon be put up for sale and we would be moving to Tennessee in 2018. 

Preparation for the Move

When we started serious discussion about the sale of our house, we knew a new roof was needed. The existing roof was the original roof and was almost 30 years old. We knew the house wouldn’t pass inspection with a 30 year old roof. We anticipated a tremendous challenge in selling a house in a neighborhood that was as deteriorated as our neighborhood was. 

Through something of a miracle in itself, we had an unusually warm week of weather in St. Louis in mid December. After contacting a roofing company, we were able to have our roof replaced in the middle of December. Anyone who knows much about roofing knows roofing requires temperatures of 50 degrees or higher for proper sealing of the shingles. The unusually warm days that arrived allowed the roofing job to take place. That was miracle #1. 

The Sale of Our St. Louis Home

Initially, when we placed our house on the market in March 2018, we were planning on a huge challenge in selling the home. We thought to ourselves that selling the house could take several months or possibly a year. But God intervened in our situation and our house sold in three weeks. We were pleasantly stunned. That was miracle #2. We hadn’t even secured employment in Tennessee yet. Now the scramble to get jobs in Tennessee was on. 

The next several weeks were spent doing major deep cleaning and down sizing in preparation of our vacating the house. We had decided we would not pay a moving company thousands of dollars to move used furniture to Tennessee. Consequently, we sold everything. All of our furniture, appliances, and some of our personal items were sold over next few weeks. 

Finding Our Tennessee Home 

Because we sold our home much quicker than we expected, we had to kick things in high gear. We applied for a mortgage loan to purchase our new home. Because I had not secured employment in Tennessee yet, the loan approval was based on Janet’s income only. The mortgage company based the approval on Janet’s salary history through our business Cornerstone Medical Recruiting. The entire loan approval was assuming Janet would relocate and continue business in Tennessee. That was miracle #3. We hurriedly researched realtors in the Maryville Tennessee area and began our search for our new home. 

Money Was Tight During the Transition 

After we obtained pre-approval for a mortgage loan in Tennessee, our finances were extremely tight. We had a fairly substantial amount of money in investments, but we couldn’t touch it. During the approval process for the loan, any net worth derived from investments could not be accessed. 

Through some research we discovered in order to continue Cornerstone Medical Recruiting in Tennessee, we’d have to start from scratch. Our company was set up as an LLC, and Tennessee does not have allowances for what is called a “domestic transfer” of an LLC from another state. This meant we would have to completely close the company in Missouri and reestablish in Tennessee. After learning this, Janet stopped pursuing new business and began winding down the company. Not doing business meant no income. Consequently, we were forced to temporarily manage solely on the salary from my job at St. Luke’s Hospital and what savings we had. 

One factor of this period of transition is nothing short of incredible. We had just been approved for a mortgage loan based on the earnings potential of Cornerstone Medical Recruiting in Tennessee. At the time of the closing on our new mortgage the balance in the business checking account was $29! Only God could have enabled us to be approved under these circumstances! That was miracle #4. 

Let The House Shopping Begin

When the time came when we knew we would have to spend a few days in the Maryville Tennessee area to do a real estate tour, we made a phone call. That phone call was to a man named Devin  at Rio Revolution Church. We told Devin we were preparing to move to the area and we inquired about good places to stay. Devin gave us the contact information of a sweet lady by the name of Anne.  Anne owns a beautiful cabin in an area nearby Maryville called Wears Valley. Wears Valley is breathtakingly beautiful and scenic. All the homes have the mountains as a backdrop in the back yard. 

After talking to Anne and telling her our situation, she allowed us to stay at her cabin during the time we were in town house shopping! Anne was like an angel sent from God to us at that time. Her kindness, generosity, and sweet words of encouragement were just what we needed. That was miracle #5. 

The Booming Housing Market in Blount County Tennessee  

It was April of 2017 and we had buyers waiting to take possession of our house in St. Louis in a matter of weeks. We needed to find a new home fast. We quickly discovered that the real estate market in the area of Tennessee we were looking to move to was booming. The homes in the areas that are part of Blount County Tennessee were selling in a matter of days! Any home that was appealing would need to have earnest money put down on it immediately or it would be sold before we even had a chance to purchase it.

We looked at a house we fell in love with in Maryville and immediately decided to put it on our short list. After we talked about it that evening, we decided to call our realtor and put earnest money down on the house. To our dismay, we were told that an individual had made an offer on the house 18 minutes before we called to make an offer. The offer of the other party was for the full asking price and all cash. We were devastated. A house in Greenback Tennessee was among our stops earlier during our market tour. We really liked the house in Greenback, but we chose to continue to shop. We left town disappointed and still without a home.

Our Confirmation From God on the House to Buy 

As we drove home disappointed and heartbroken that weekend, our daughter Jen sent a text message to Janet regarding a house for sale in Greenback Tennessee. The message contained a link to a real estate listing of the exact house we had looked at in Greenback while we were there. Jen asked, “What about this house Mom? It’s a cute house and it has cows across the street!” Janet and I had jokingly dubbed the house “The Cow House” when we toured the house. The cows were in the field the day we looked at it. We liked the house but didn’t feel any confirmation that it was the house we should purchase.

When she contacted Janet, Jen had absolutely no idea we had already look at that very house. It made us wonder if we were being led by God back to “The Cow House” This prompted us to revisit the possibility of purchasing the house in Greenback. We made an offer on the house and did end up buying the house. The period of time from the accepted offer on the sale of our St. Louis home to the closing on the house in Greenback, Tennessee was 5 weeks! That was miracle # 6.

During that time, God provided provided for every expense we encountered. With God’s help, we sold all of our home furnishings in St. Louis.  The money from selling our furnishings along with the proceeds from the sale of our house, provided for everything we needed. We not only had enough money to pay for moving expenses, we purchased and paid cash for all new furniture and appliances for our new house and purchased a 5 year old Chevrolet Equinox.

Our Home

Our new home in Tennessee

 

God Created a Door of Employment

While we were in the area on the real estate tour, I interviewed for a job at Blount Memorial Hospital. After spending the past few weeks frantically submitting numerous applications for employment in the area, I knew I had to get a job quickly. I didn’t want to move to Tennessee with a new mortgage and no job. I needed a job when I hit the ground in Tennessee. The job I originally applied for was for a custodian at Blount Memorial Hospital.

When the hiring manager saw my application she contacted me. She said, “I see you applied for a custodial job. Based on your work experience, you would easily qualify for that position. But, I see you have supervisory experience in a hospital housekeeping department. We have a position that we want to open up but until you applied for it, we had no candidates. The current afternoon supervisor is wanting to move to the midnight shift. That would leave a vacancy on the afternoon shift.”

God opened up a door of employment for me that didn’t even previously exist. Just as He created the world from nothing, God created a job for me from nothing! That was miracle # 7

Cornerstone Medical Recruiting is Reborn in Tennessee

After doing all the necessary paperwork, filings, and documentation with the state of Tennessee, we restarted Cornerstone Medical Recruiting in Tennessee on July 2nd, 2018. 

We had preciously created a contract that was used in working with our clients. The contract was created by the attorney we used for business in Missouri. We knew we would need to have the contract reviewed by a business attorney in Tennessee to ensure it complied with Tennessee state laws. After finding an attorney to review our contract  in Blount County Tennessee, we learned the fees were $275 per hour! 

We were concerned that the expense of having our contract reviewed and possibly changed could be very time consuming and expensive. God already had that covered. When we met with the attorney we chose to use, we were overjoyed at the outcome. The attorney reviewed our contract, said it was well written and legally sound, and we were only charged for a half hour of legal fees. The total amount of legal fees to have the contract reviewed and have a few minor change recommendations offered was $137.50. We were immediately thanking God for his intervention on our behalf. That was miracle #8.    

Miracles From God Brought Us to Our Dream

As you can see, God worked miracle after miracle for us in order to bring us to our dream. We thank God every day for his mercy, grace, and provision throughout our relocation from Missouri to Tennessee. My prayer is that sharing this testimony has encouraged you and reminded you that God is a miracle working God. Please understand and know that God is not a respecter of persons. God can and will perform miracles on your behalf regardless of the obstacles you may be facing. The only requirements on your part are to surrender your life to God, keep dreaming, and dare to believe and trust God. Never forget with God all things are possible. He really is a God of miracles. 

 

Thanks for reading!

Until next time,

Mark

 

1 thought on “Miracles from God that Brought Us to our Dream in East Tennessee”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *