Updated: Nov 29, 2021
The years 2015-2017 were rough for the Chaput household. Mike had left his job of thirty years to spend more time with our daughter. It was fine, we said, because I had a solid job. But when my doctor put me out on extended disability with my second (surprise) pregnancy, things took a turn.
We were having trouble financially. Like, the kind you never like to talk about. The kind that involves three credit cards getting declined in the grocery store line while you're just trying to buy the cheapest bottle of wine so you can find some solace in your sleep-deprived, mother of two, stress-filled life.
We had to sell our house and move. It was the only choice, we knew. We lived in one of the most expensive places, no longer the career-driven couple we used to be. Problem was, we were in the middle of renovating a 50-year-old house, currently half of which had no floors. "Okay," I said. "We can do this." This led to morning-to-night renovations and me on the roof painting the exterior of the house at 5 am before the kids woke. We tore down fences and dug trenches and laid wood flooring. It was exhausting and probably the most stressful time of my life.
Eight months later, we finished that monster of a project. We spent any dollars we had left just to complete this house, which our entire future was wrapped up in. The day we put it on the market, it felt like I could breathe for the first time in two years.
Until... it didn't sell. WTAF. We lived in one of the most desirable places in California. And the house was gorgeous. Well, it was a combo of a stalled market and someone reporting us to the county. So we went through the red tape, filled out whatever forms and applications they wanted, and the local water board wanted $15,000 for something that had been at the house since it was built in 1962. Welp.
After a battle, and one old man from the board stepping in to save our necks, we finally got it past with a waiver and not one penny from us. It was time to put it back on the market. Things were getting even tighter with limited work, we'd spent everything on the house, and we were barely hanging on (actually, we were sinking a bit deeper every day). I needed to call in reinforcements.
My husband mentioned St. Joseph and set my mother-in-law to work with her prayers. He no longer practices Catholicism, and I haven't ever been part of a church, but I was willing to try anything. So I went to the Santa Inez Mission gift shop and bought a tiny statue in a tiny box supposedly blessed. And this little guy is going to solve all my problems? Well, I'm happy to put my faith in something by this point. Why not?
So I did what I'm supposed to. I wrapped the little man in a towel and put him in a Ziploc and buried him upside down in the yard. Within five days, we had an offer on the house and we were in escrow. Well, I might not be the praying kind but I certainly was thankful for that little statue. So thankful, in fact, that after we moved to Montana, I kept him in the ground until escrow closed and commissioned my neighbor to dig him up and mail him to us. Unbeknownst to me, my stepdaughter had already dug it up and brought it to us on her trip a month later (sorry, Nathan!).
Escrow closed and we began to dig ourselves out of the hole we'd been in for years. Chelsea arrived with St. Joseph in her purse and per instructions, he took a prominent place on our mantel. Every house we have moved to, I made sure he traveled somewhere safely close to me and took his place with my daughters' baby pictures, front and center. He will stay with us forever.
When we sold our last house, and I had to remove him from the mantel, I didn't want him to feel slighted, so I stored him in the most sacred place in my house. The coffee drawer.
We are now in our dream house, the one we plan on staying in until my kids graduate high school. And it all started with a dream and a tiny blessed statue. St. Joseph will forever be part of our fireplace mantel.