A Poor Wayfaring Woman of Grief

My Facebook memories have been focused on the nightmare that was selling our house last summer. You would think that trying to sell in one of Denver’s hottest housing market ever would be a slam-dunk but if God doesn’t want you to sell your house yet, you will not sell your house. It took three buyers to finally close the deal.

I wrote but never published this story last year of when life downright sucked. Our house sale had just fallen through [for the first time], financial stress (hello, $2,000 we dumped into my car) and just really feeling knocked down at every turn. I never really doubted that we were supposed to leave a home and life that we loved–from the get-go, God made that pretty clear– but I felt like we had been left to flounder in the process. Where was He during our hardest times?

On a particularly crummy 95-degrees-with-broken-air-conditioning-day, I was venting on the phone to my friend Lisa and a few minutes later, the doorbell rang. I glimpsed through the peephole and could only make out of the shape of a woman so I figured it was her coming to bring me a tub full of ice in which to soak my sorrows. When I opened the door, there was an African-American gal, early 20s, looking hot and uncomfortable. She started her spiel selling some magazines and really, it was the last thing in the world I wanted to deal with. But I was an LDS missionary once and know what it feels like to be pouring your guts out to a complete stranger on the doorstep and learned that even when you have zero interest, there is always an opportunity to be kind. Jamie, in particular is always so considerate to door-to-door salesmen and cold calls.

So I listened to her and my frustrations left me as I saw that she looked as miserable as I felt. I nicely declined her magazine subscription, pointing to our multiple fans blowing in the house and the missing For Sale sign that had gotten swiped that week. “We’re not really in a position to pick up a magazine subscription but I’ll tell you what. You look hot. May I offer you some ice water?”

She melted. Literally. I thought she would start crying as she gratefully accepted, briefly stating that Colorado had been tough, she was ready to quit but they were moving on to Kansas the next day. And on that doorstep, two strangers on the verge of their own breaking point connected in a way I can’t explain as we both unloaded our trials and frustrations.

We only spent a few minutes together but it was a cut of eternity. I wished her luck and she turned to leave but came back to shake my hand. “Thank you,” she said with great emotion.

A wash of peace came over me. This…she…was my answer. God had not forsaken us. This was all happening in His time and from that moment forward, I never doubted we were in His hands.  The encounter was so powerful and transformative that I felt God himself had been at my doorstep.

I love love love the words to one of my favorite hymns, A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief, and cried as I relayed the experience to my kids that evening.


  1. 1. A poor, wayfaring Man of grief
    Hath often crossed me on my way,
    Who sued so humbly for relief
    That I could never answer nay.
    I had not pow’r to ask his name,
    Whereto he went, or whence he came;
    Yet there was something in his eye
    That won my love; I knew not why.
  2. 2. Once, when my scanty meal was spread,
    He entered; not a word he spake,
    Just perishing for want of bread.
    I gave him all; he blessed it, brake,
    And ate, but gave me part again.
    Mine was an angel’s portion then,
    For while I fed with eager haste,
    The crust was manna to my taste.
  3. 3. I spied him where a fountain burst
    Clear from the rock; his strength was gone.
    The heedless water mocked his thirst;
    He heard it, saw it hurrying on.
    I ran and raised the suff’rer up;
    Thrice from the stream he drained my cup,
    Dipped and returned it running o’er;
    I drank and never thirsted more.
  4. 4. ‘Twas night; the floods were out; it blew
    A winter hurricane aloof.
    I heard his voice abroad and flew
    To bid him welcome to my roof.
    I warmed and clothed and cheered my guest
    And laid him on my couch to rest,
    Then made the earth my bed and seemed
    In Eden’s garden while I dreamed.
  5. 5. Stript, wounded, beaten nigh to death,
    I found him by the highway side.
    I roused his pulse, brought back his breath,
    Revived his spirit, and supplied
    Wine, oil, refreshment–he was healed.
    I had myself a wound concealed,
    But from that hour forgot the smart,
    And peace bound up my broken heart.
  6. 6. In pris’n I saw him next, condemned
    To meet a traitor’s doom at morn.
    The tide of lying tongues I stemmed,
    And honored him ‘mid shame and scorn.
    My friendship’s utmost zeal to try,
    He asked if I for him would die.
    The flesh was weak; my blood ran chill,
    But my free spirit cried, “I will!”
  7. 7. Then in a moment to my view
    The stranger started from disguise.
    The tokens in his hands I knew;
    The Savior stood before mine eyes.
    He spake, and my poor name he named,
    “Of me thou hast not been ashamed.
    These deeds shall thy memorial be;
    Fear not, thou didst them unto me.”

That Sunday in church, I commented to Jamie how this hymn had not been sung for several years and lo-and-behold, THAT would be the Sunday that a man performed it. Another confirmation.

It would take another couple of months and floundering for everything to come together. We were at the do-or-die point. We HAD to sell the house, otherwise we would not make it to Utah for the beginning of school. Jamie had asked our home teacher for a Priesthood Blessing and in that blessing, he was told the house sale would happen and that there were reasons for the delay, some of which we knew (the construction of our new house was behind) and some of which would be later revealed.

Two days later, I was walking into Sprouts Farmer’s Market when I received a call from our Stake Public Affairs Director. My calling was as the media specialist for several years and I worked with community leaders on several campaigns. I had been released the previous year to work in Cub Scouts so I was curious about the call. He first requested I write an article for them about Teacher Appreciation Night (a special evening where our graduating seniors celebrate the teacher that has most impacted their education).

I told him I would do it and then he had another request. “Would you be able to help with the media tours for the Fort Collins Temple Open House?” That was where I hesitated. What he was requesting was a great honor. When a new temple is built, a block of time is scheduled for the general public to come through and learn about it. We were remiss to have to miss the open house because school in Utah started one week after the date he was requesting for me to help.

I explained my situation and he was totally understanding. We left our conversation, “I’ll let you know,” regarding helping with the media tour on that Tuesday in August.

I couldn’t get our conversation out of my head all day. Later that night, I shared with Jamie, “What if one of the reasons our house hasn’t sold for all these months is because I am supposed to be here to help with the Open House?”

The next morning, we had another showing. It was a short one–the buyer was in and out of the house in 15 minutes–and from experience, we knew that was a bad sign. I was in my office an hour later when Jamie came in. “I think you’re correct and you’re supposed to help with the Open House. No matter what happens, we need to be here so you can do that.”

We put our faith on the line.

Not even 30 seconds later as he was walking downstairs, our realtor friend Stan called to say that man who had the quick tour that morning was putting in a full offer on the house.

Jamie raced back upstairs, “You’re doing the open house, right?”  ”Yes, that’s what we discussed.” “Well, after we decided that, an offer finally came through.”

And it was the golden offer we needed.

So, we loaded up our moving PODs on a Monday night in August, I helped with the media tours at the temple on Tuesday, that night we finished loading a third POD because everything didn’t fit, Wednesday we were driving to Utah and the kids started school that following week.

I learned a lot of lessons from this move, the most important of which is when God tells you to do something and you delve right in, you also need to trust in His timing.


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