Today, I pulled off Ashland City Parkway in Nashville and drove along the creek bed leading down to Bryn and Josh’s new house. I didn’t notice it at first, but Joshua had set up a memorial by the creek. It was an Ebenezer, a stone of help, to remember the help he had received over a long, eight-year trek. He grabbed the biggest stones from the bottom of the river and stacked them on top of one another. If the journey was not easy, the memorial should not be easy either.
Four years ago, on May 1st, 2010, their old house was severely damaged in Nashville’s hundred-year flood. They were about to sell it—the contract had been signed with only the inspection pending—but after the flood, the buyers wanted out. Bryn and Joshua had been planning on building another home, so selling their old one was going to work out well.
Their new house wasn’t finished and their old house wasn’t livable, so they rented an apartment in the meantime. Now they had two mortgages and a lease to pay. And on top of that, Bryn was pregnant, and she didn’t know where she was going to set up the nursery for her baby.
After the house was restored, and their first tenant moved out, they received a text from one of Josh’s friends. He and his wife needed a place to stay, but they couldn’t buy a house because of a previous foreclosure. So Bryn and Josh went out to eat with the couple to discuss the matter. Everything was set for them to move in, but then the wife broke the news:
They could no longer afford the higher rent, so Bryn and Joshua had a little meeting behind the menu. They agreed to let their friends rent at the mortgage price. Although Bryn and Josh never planned on being landlords, they had an opportunity to help a new family by renting out their old house, which had been saved from the flood.
As Bryn and Joshua finished the story, Bryn looked up with a smile on her face as she remembered helping their friends paint the nursery room in the old house. Years before, when the flood happened, Bryn was about to have her second child, a baby girl, and she wondered if there would even be a crib for the baby. They moved into their house just weeks before she gave birth, and it worked out well. Then, years later, she found herself making a beautiful space for another baby to come into the world in what had been a flooded room
The dry wall she painted had literally been broken and sawed off at two and a half feet due to water damage, but in the end, it was redeemed. The house that used to be under water became a memorial, a kind of Ebenezer—something by which to remember the story of two families learning to swim through the waters of new life on to higher ground.