COMFORT HILL HOUSE OF MIRACLES
A TRUE STORY
BY EVANGELIST NOLAN HARKNESS
©2016 Nolan J Harkness
What you are about to read is a modern day story about miracles. These are not embellished but as specifically accurate as I remember. As yet to this day I’m not yet one hundred percent sure why this home is so important to God but I believe that it is. The miracles of provisions that you are about to read about are proof of that. I have tried to put each story in chronological order. Please read though it and discover with me the Miracles of Comfort Hill.
The Story Starts in the Spring of 1989
I only know that over the years I have become a man of prayer. I pray about everything and despite the lack of understanding of some, I believe that blesses the Fathers heart. It was in a place of prayer that God spoke to me the very first step of a many years of many miracles. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness and all the things you have need of will be added unto you! Matthew 6:33
The very first miracle for Comfort Hill was the calling, It came when I was visiting in Florida and I was offered a youth pastors position. I was traveling with my family, and while visiting a friend I went to spend some time in prayer in the back of our motorhome. I was praying about whether or not to accept the youth pastorate position which would have required that our whole family move back to Florida. We had just moved back home from living in Florida four years ago. The Lord had also shown me that life in the Northeast would be harder. He showed me that he kept us from visiting back for that four years to keep us from being tempted. I knew this new offer did not seem to line up with the other things that God was doing in our family’s life. It was in that place of prayer that God gave me Haggai 1:8 as a directive scripture. It says “Go up and do the mountain and gather together the wood and build the house and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified says the Lord.” The opportunity to become a salaried youth pastor of my former church was quite an opportunity for a young minister. However God had other plans!
The second miracle was on that same return trip back north to our home. I felt like God was calling me to first of all go back home where He had called us. Second that we were being called to build a house on a Mountain. The scriptures say ; “Delight yourself in Him and He will give you the desires of your heart!” Psalms 37:4,5. Only God knows, and the people who really know me how much, mountains mean to me. As I child I loved traveling to the nearby Mount Pisgah County Park and actually worked there in my teen years. It’s the highest peak in Bradford County Pennsylvania. From that point you could see over fifty miles into New York State. I loved it and I love high places. I still visit that mountain from time to time to this day. For God to call me to build a house on a mountain was definitely granting me the desires of my heart. He had my attention!
The next part of Haggai 1:8 said; “gather together the wood,” and build the house, and I will take pleasure in it and be glorified says the Lord. There was one problem with this directive. I had no money to build a house with. It had been a stretch to have the funds just for the gas to drive that twenty five foot motor home to Florida and home again. We had one stop on our way back home. Just a few days later the next miracle happened!
The details and name of the following individual I will leave nameless for the sake of their anonymity. I will only say that when I was asked what my plans were for over the next year I shared the simple fact that I thought it was time to build our house. I did not try to spiritualize it or be manipulative. I stated it as something I felt we were to do. It was on that weekend return trip home that I was given a check for fifteen thousand to buy land on which to build the house. The person who had given me the check had no idea what I felt it was God that had called me to do it. It was literally just a few days after I had received the directive. I was headed home with a check for fifteen thousand dollars to buy land with and to start the first stages of site preparation for home construction.
The Third Miracle, The Miracle in Reverse
The third miracle may seem like a miracle in reverse! It was the fact that I could not find a property for fifteen thousand anywhere. I looked and looked for a period of several months. My desire was to find a piece of property that had some acreage, but also would leave enough money left to hopefully put in my electrical service and my septic system. This way I could park my RV at the site, and begin to build my home. I would have everything needed to have a jobsite place to get in out of the weather as I began to build our home. The miracle in reverse was however as I looked and looked for land that would allow me to do that nothing seemed to be available in that price range! So after several months of praying and seeking the Lord, trying to find a piece of property that would work, nothing had happened! During that time my younger brother Joel had helped me out by giving me a with his construction business. The job presented a lot of unique challenges and I know I was not as productive a carpenter as were his other men. I was battling some discouragement and possibly some light depression one day as I was driving home from work.
All of a sudden as I came in to the small town of Wellsburg, on my way back to Elmira, the Spirit of God came in my truck just like a powerful worship service! His peace was so strong in the cab of my truck. He said to my heart “drive over that road,” directing me to Comfort Hill Road. I immediately stopped the truck backed up a little bit and headed up over Comfort Hill Road, all the time asking God why. His presence was so strong I knew what ever the reason was He had a plan.
As it turned out that day there was no property for sale on Comfort Hill Road! I had traveled that road probably only one time in my life during a hunting trip so I did not know it well. As I drove, I looked to the right and to my left is I went over the mountain, thinking there would be something for sale. There simply wasn't! The reverse miracle was that there was nothing for sale so I had to pray harder with closer focus on Him to try to see what he was saying to my heart. God often does that. He brings us to a place of nothingness so we will more diligently seek His face concerning His will. Ultimately He knows that once we do find it, the journey there will be a path doubly confirmed and a road we will never forget!
That night I was so convinced that God had led me over that road I loaded up the family and we drove over it again. This time it was from the other side of the mountain. I thought to myself; “maybe I missed something? Surely looking at it driving the other way would reveal it?” However once again there was nothing for sale. No real estate signs anywhere at that point from one side of the mountain to the other. Doubt began to try to creep in.
It would be the second of five trips total driving “over that road” as the Lord by his still small voice had instructed me. But as it turned out God wasn’t done yet!
One day a few weeks later, I did something that I was accustomed to do. I drove my nineteen eighty nine black Dodge Dakota pickup truck down to Wellsburg to use the cheapest car wash in the area! There I was, with pressure washer in my hand, trying to make the best of my eight quarters and it happened again! The presence of God came on me so strongly I felt he was about to show me something else. His peace was so strong. However He didn’t show me something new. He said the same thing all over again; “Nolan drive over that road.” I said; “Lord I have driven over that road five times and there is nothing for sale! Do you want me to start knocking on doors seeing if anything is for sale?”
Do you know God may not like sarcasm but he puts up with us once in a while? I got in my truck and on a beautiful sunny July day drove back up “that road!”
As I got to the top of the hill I realized that there was a large electrical high voltage power line that ran through. I pulled my truck over like most people assuming that the land belonged to the power company. I decided to walk across the field North and check out the view. I had not taken a hundred steps when something caught my eye. It was and old rusty tin hardware store type “For Sale” sign nailed to the power pole. High grass had grown up around it so you could not see it from the road. I immediately thought; “Wow Lord this land was once for sale, I wonder who owns it?” I walked on out to see the view and to spend some time sitting and praying. I then walked back to the truck with a plan to try to find out who owned this newfound piece of property, which may be for sale!
Grumpy Mr. “T”
You know I have so come to understand that God does not want simple religious practice but He wants to be in a relationship with him. He wants one that’s alive and moving. He desires one that’s thrilling and exciting, however most of all one, that is bringing Him glory on the earth. In laymen’s terms that means to make God look good! I drove with my truck that day about two hundred feet up the road to the neighbors house across the street who we will affectionately call Mr. T.
You have to understand something about Mr. and Mrs. T. They had lived on that land for over forty years as a couple and the Mrs. grew up as a girl just down the road. They had never had any neighbors. They kind of liked it that way. So when I went and knocked at their door the answer to my question was not met with warm enthusiasm. I did not know this at the time so I cheerfully in my Pennsylvania country warmth asked him a question. “Sir do you happen to know who owns the property across the road here?” “Oh some old woman up in Horseheads” he grumbled. “I must tell you right now If your thinking about buying it from her you might as well forget it! I have made her many offers through the years and she just won’t sell it.” I stepped back a few steps and said, “Oh thank you sir for the heads up! I may though give her a call just to see if maybe by now she has changed her mind?” He just shook his head behind the screen door and grumbled something as he walked away. Mrs. T followed. I just waved goodbye kindly, hopped back in my truck and drove back down the hill. “Time for plan ‘B’ I thought.”
Happy Mrs. Little Old Lady
The next day I contacted the Ashland Town office to see if they could tell me who owned the property where the rusty for sale sign was hanging? They gladly filled my request and with one better a phone number. That day I called this supposed difficult little old lady on the phone. I told her how I had been walking in the field and had seen an old rusty for sale sign hanging on one of the big power poles. She responded; “Oh yes my husband God rest his soul probably put that up years ago. We had bought it very reasonably and had planned to one-day build a house on it but never did. I’m surprised that you didn’t see a new realtor sign on it yet, I just called them the other day and re-listed it!” My heart did a back flip as I was listening to these words! “Wow I thought could this be it? Could this be why God kept telling my heart to ‘drive over that road?”
I then began to tell her how I was a minister and that I felt that God was calling me to build a home that would somehow one day be used to help young people. She said that she was a Christian and she was pleased to hear that. It was the next words out of her mouth that to me sealed that the deal was being sent from heaven. “Yes there is about twenty five acres there and the realtor said that if I want to sell it quick to offer fifteen thousand for it. I don’t think its worth that much make me an offer!” I then told her that I would get back to her in a couple of days with an offer.
I then proceeded to head home and told the family I needed some time to spend in prayer so that I was not to be disturbed. I began to lay on my face praying in the Spirit, reflecting on the many steps God had taken me through in the past few months. I began to ask the Lord specifically how much I should offer her for the land. I knew I had fifteen thousand to work with. I knew what my desires were to have enough to get the land cleared, and get the electric and septic installed. I also knew I had a real good chance to buy a piece of valuable property for a very good price. The number that came up in my heart I knew could not have been from me! “Eighty-five hundred dollars!” “Oh no Lord eighty five hundred dollars that is almost half of what the realtor told her it was worth.” Yet no matter how long I prayed, or tried to reason with Him, the same figure kept coming back to my heart, “eighty five hundred dollars!” I said OK Lord and moved on to the next step.
In a few days I loaded up in my truck my two girls Shiloh and Cherith who were about four and two and a half respectively. We drove up to what I believed at that time to be a pretty sure thing that this was the property that God was leading us to. There was a little area in the midst of a small white pine grove that the sun shown in and it was grassy and had a lot of wild flowers growing on it. We walked together he one hundred feet or so into that area and sat down in the sunshine. I said; “Girls Daddy is going to build us a house right here on this mountain in the middle of all these trees would you like that?” Shiloh with her big brown eyes, and Cherith with her bright blue eyes both simultaneously shook their heads back and forth “no-oooo.” “Oh but look at all these pretty flowers everywhere. We can go picking flowers of all these colors. Their countenance seemed to change. “What do you think now?” I asked; “Would you like daddy to build us a house here now?” Both of their little heads shook up and down “Yes-sssss.” They seemed to drag it out still not too sure about this idea. I took them back home that day with a precious memory in my heart, a few photos on my camera and just thinking on how our lives were about to be changed forever!
I still had one concern, which might seem a bit ridiculous. However to a country boy it made perfect sense. I had always hoped to have land with a fresh water spring on the property. So one Sunday afternoon with the property boundary map in hand secured by the town I decided to hike the twenty-five acre lot. It was all mountain, and all side hill. Some of it was very steep. It was north face and the trees stood some forty to fifty feet tall. I noticed the land benched at many spots and one place lower down had a view of the City of Elmira. As I started at the Southeast corner and walked down the old stonewall property line I still did not see any evidence of a spring.
Fresh water springs can be opened up, cleaned out and even fresh water ponds dug for deer and wildlife to drink from. Water just trickles and sometimes with a good flow even bubbles up from the ground but what I found was a lot of clay soil and shale rock but as I reached the bottom corner and headed West along the bottom I was starting to get discouraged. It seemed to me that God wouldn’t leave anything out, but where was that spring? I started up the steep uphill climb heading back towards the road, praying giving it to God as I went. As I could see the road now and a car passed by I felt something under my feet. Mud! There had to be water here somewhere! Then in about forty more feet there they were “wet rocks!” I quickly began to pull them away kicking in the mud with my boot. Sure enough a good water flow began. I had found my spring. This had to be the property the Father had for us for sure! I drove back to our house on Shepler St praising God all the way home. I could just envision a small pond there someday. He had granted me another desire of my heart!
The Realtor Who Said Don’t
I had a realtor friend by the name of Jerry Watts, so I gave him a call. Because she had listed it with a realtor now all transactions would have to go though a realtor representing me. I talked to Jerry on the phone and told him my story. I said Jerry I feel we are to offer her eighty five hundred dollars for that land.” He said; “Brother Nolan, I would strongly advise against offering her that little for this property. I just sold seven one-acre lots down Merriam Road to your South a few years ago for a thousand dollars an acre. If you offend her she might not be willing to negotiate with you further.” This price would be offering her about three hundred and thirty dollars and acre and Jerry did not feel good about it! I could only tell him that I felt the Father gave me that figure after I had spent considerable amount of time in prayer about it. So he agreed that we would put in the offer and see what her response would be.
One of the Longest Weeks of My Life
Jerry made the call and told me that he would let me know as soon as he heard something. As hard as it was I had to commit it to the Lords hands and trust that he had it all worked out. First one day went by, then another. The week dragged on. Doubts crept in. Fears seemed to plague my mind. “What if this wasn’t it? What then?” I just had to settle in my spirit that God’s will was being done. If this was meant to be then I had done my part now God had to do what he was so good at. His!
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Mary and Joseph surrounding the birth of Jesus. The Scriptures teach in First Corinthians 3:9a “For we are laborers together with God.” Many groups today teach that the Father is so ultimately sovereign that we have little to do with anything and God does it all. Others teach philosophies that seem to resemble more that we launch out in a good plan or motive and then God will bless it. The story surrounding the birth of the Christ Child seems to add a healthy balance to them both.
Almost in every other step God does something sovereign like putting Mary and Joseph sovereignly in Bethlehem by having the Roman government demand a national census bringing them to this little out of the way town. Thus fulfilling Micah’s prophesy four hundred years earlier in Micah 5:2. However God had to speak to both Mary and Joseph directly and individually about some very important things they had to do themselves! The story goes back and forth that way including steps given to the parents of John the Baptist. First God does something sovereignly then God calls the characters in the story to do something specifically by faith. Almost everything God calls us to do specifically has something to do with the future only He knows! That’s the working out of Biblical patterned faith.
So after about a week the phone finally rang. It was Jerry on the other end. I said; “Hello Jerry?” He said; “Well Brother looks like you got yourself a piece of land!” “Yes praise God”, I responded. Finally the wait was over. Now the work could begin!
Not So Fast!
It would be wonderful if when you were flowing in God’s will everyone met you with a parade of celebration. God did not warn me here that there would be those who would be critical, jealous, and even angry. People who you would never dream would oppose will often oppose you. The famous Evangelist of the late eighteen hundreds Charles Finney was quoted as saying; “If you have much of the Sprit of God do not be surprised if many people will oppose you. Sometimes even the leading men in the church will oppose you.”
Who I discovered opposed me, were those who had not spent as much time in prayer about this as I had. They were going by their own experience, or the ways perhaps they felt God led them in the past. Like Nehemiah there are always the Sanballat’s and the Tobiah’s who taunt you in the work the Father has called you to. Like in the Book of Esther there are always the Haman’s jealous of the Modecai’s.
After a few fiery darts were hurled orchestrated by the musicians of darkness to try to discourage me once again I prayed through to truth. The first tools we would need to buy, a good chainsaw and a good brush cutter. There was a two hundred and twenty five foot driveway and a good-sized house lot that needed dozens of trees cut down and moved out of the way.
I went to the local Jonsered chain saw shop. At the time they were a very rugged commercial duty tool. I knew that we would have to heat with firewood when we were done clearing so it would see a lot of use through the years. I also had seen the latest in brush cutters. They were kind of like a saw blade at the end of a long shaft ran by a high-speed gas motor. Together the cost of them was bound to eat up a thousand of the left over money after paying the money for the land. I went to the shop praying for God’s favor.
I had known the gentleman having done some business with him in the past. I walked in the shop and he took the time to show me a few different models of each. Out of his mouth came these words, “Well the saw by itself is worth over six hundred dollars, and the brush cutter almost five hundred but I’m able today to make you a good deal. I will sell the pair to you for six hundred and twenty five dollars!” My mouth almost hit the floor as I extended a hearty handshake, “It’s a deal” I said and wrote him the check. Out the door I went with a chain saw in one hand and a six-foot long brush cutter in the other. “Well Lord lets go get started,” I said as I headed out the door to go get some gas.
My First Volunteer My Dad
My Dad and I had not always gotten along. I always felt that my brother was the favored child by my Father and they were two peas in a pod. I love them both dearly but I was the one who was “different” in the family. My Dad would say “Yup Nolan he’s different!” I eventually discovered that my Heavenly Father was favoring me by not letting me be favored in this world. This is a time in life however that my Dad was wanting to help me and it was a great time together for us.
Cutting a couple of acres of trees and brush is no small task. Especially working in the month of September when temperatures can reach summer highs. It was very cool though as nothing was totally planned out. It was definitely as far as site planning a build as you go project. I knew I wanted a loop driveway and that it was to be two cars wide. I had the borrowed use of a very old school Sears and Robuck transit. Dad helped me line up mostly using existing trees to start what would be the lines for the new driveway. The small trees and brush could be handled with the brush cutter. He brought up his chainsaw for when we both were cutting bigger stuff. Then we learned that Mike could come as well. Mike was my next Godsend!
When Mike Came to Help
Mike was a young man in his Southmore- Junior year of High School. He had come as a kid on my bus route as I was serving at a church on the Southside of Elmira NY. Mike found out at about 14 that his Stepdad had raised him. Mike had always thought that he was his real father. He began to rebel quite seriously when he got this news. His mother had called me because he had always seemed to respond well to my leadership in his life. I began to take Mike places pay him where I could to do small chores. Mike was a Godsend when it came to clearing the trees and brush. He was strong as an Ox. He was a hard worker. It then gave me more of an opportunity to pour into Mikes life lessons that I hoped would last him a lifetime.
If I remember right it took us working when we could nights and a couple weekends to get the trees and brush cleared in preparation for the bulldozer and backhoe to come. A contractor by the name of Tim Leonard had been doing a lot of jobs for my brother. I asked Tim to do the work and he agreed. Many of the bigger pine trees he could remove. Some we opted to cut down leaving tall stumps for the dozer to push over. The others he just pushed down into the woods. The land was cleared and I erected the batter boards for the foundation excavation. What we were about to discover would be the greatest testimony to date that God was calling us to build on that site, and on that mountain. Mike went on to eventually come and live with us at that house and graduate his Senior year from High School
A Wise Man Builds His House Upon a Rock
Tim Leonard had arrived to start digging the foundation I had no idea what was about to be revealed. Mr. T next door had tried to discourage me on a couple of occasions. He warned me about there being black bears on that mountain and my response was; “Oh good my family hunts black bears and have for years, maybe we can get one of those one day?” Another day he shared with me that the wind blows real bad up on that mountain especially in the winter. I said to that; “ Oh well I’m a Pennsylvania country boy and I have deer hunted in weather with wind chills twenty below zero. I’m sure we will be fine. But the day he saw the backhoe arrive well that one topped the cake. He said; “You know that I would never have a basement under my house. He told me that there was a bedrock shelf that ran through the mountain and he barely had a crawlspace. This was not good news to me because I wanted a big basement to be able to have a youth center in there. I was building on the side of the mountain the front half of the foundation would be out of the ground. I envisioned doors and windows there.
I told the backhoe operator to start digging down and when he hit the bedrock shelf that's where our basement floor would be. I would like to have a ten foot ceiling in my basement if possible? Because we built this house on the side of a mountain the foundation hold U-shaped out of the hill and he spent several hours pawing it out. He started digging and down and down layer by layer until he got to at about nine and a half feet. He hit something hard and stopped! It was the bedrock shelf that the neighbor talked about but not a four feet but nine and a half feet! I could have my youth center my heart rejoiced; “Yes Lord!”
He then moved over to the right side of the house a sufficient distance and dug out for the thousand gallon septic tank until he also hit the bedrock there. At the tank site Tim said to me “Go and get me a broom and a level.” I did and as he swept the broken shale away and set that level down one way then the other. Tim said; “I can’t believe it this bedrock shelf is perfectly level both ways! He then hooked a chain to his backhoe and lowered the tank down and set it on that natural base stronger than concrete.
Over at the foundation site the next day was a cleanup project. Now all the loose shale and what we called goonie rocks had to be cleared out for the footer installation. We shot the grades at the corner points of the forty foot long footers and that bedrock shelf only ran three quarters of an inch out of level in forty feet! To God be the glory, this house is literally built upon the rock. Jesus taught a parable in Matthew 7:24-27. A wise man builds his house upon a rock. When the winds blew and the rain fell that mans house stood still.
We could've put our concrete foundation walls right on the granite shelf but I chose to build box footers to interlock the floors and the sidewalls for waterproofing. This incredible story was just one more in many of things only God could have done. I told Tim that day; “When God created the earth he knew I would build a house here some day. He put that bedrock shelf there just for me!” I’m sure Tim at that point thought I had blown a head gasket! However I didn’t care who believed it I did!
The Hardest Job of the Whole House The Concrete
This is one place where I am not going to mention the name of the contractor who rented me the concrete forms. I’m as sure as I can be that everyone who were involved were extremely sincere. Its been said that good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment! In this case I had debated whether to lay up a concrete block foundation, which at my pace could have taken a couple of weeks. Or should I opt for the poured concrete walls, which would be stronger and hopefully go up a lot quicker. I prayerfully decided to go with the poured concrete. So on this job I literally had no experience with these animals called concrete forms. They were made of one inch thick plywood and had steel strapping about every two feet. They were eight foot tall panels which were stood upright like skinny domino’s one row on the inside of the wall and the other row on the outside. Dozens of special metal skinny rectangular rods went through little holes that were then tightly locked the walls in place with metal twist plates.
On the day they were delivered in an old nineteen fifties dump truck covered with dried concrete from years gone by I gulped! I believe it was on that same day that I was told there were only going to be enough forms to go half way around the one hundred and thirty six lineal feet of footers. The contractor said; “Nolan It won’t be hard you just have to build a keyway in each end of the pour and then interlock the other half on the second pour.” That’s when I said; “I have to build a key what? I have to inter what who on the second pour?” A second pour I didn’t know we were going to have to do my house foundation in two separate concrete pours! As it turned out we would have to end up doing three to include the top cap.
So here is my new house foundation being poured into forms that looked like they came over on the Mayflower. Then the contractor said; Oh by the way once you get them up they all have to be sprayed down with kerosene or the concrete will stick to them. I guess the former contractor that used them had totally run out of oil. “No worries as he drove off. The day the concrete comes I will be here to help you with the pour!”
The keyways ended up being a vertical two by eight pressure treated board with a trapezoid shaped two by four lightly fastened in the middle angles in. Once the concrete dried the forms would be removed and it made a tongue and groove effect interlock into the next pour.
The contractor had also told me to NOT brace off the upper walls with two by fours or supports of any kind. The soupy concrete would be flexible in the walls and once they were poured then we would move them to a line and brace them off. He ordered the concrete for a certain day and told me he would be there to help.
The day came. It was a cold winters day early in December. The concrete driver came with the load of concrete ready to pour in. The contractor called saying to go ahead with the pour he was going to be a little late. What the contractor did not tell me was that because it was cold he had ordered a special mix with something called “hi early” in the concrete. This would help the concrete to set quicker on cold days. Especially if the driver not telling anyone brought hot water on his truck to keep it from freezing. As these square and secured at the bottom but still loose at the top skinny eight in boxes of concrete forms began to fill up with the hi early and the hot water the concrete began to set rather quickly. The guy kept calling to apologize but never did show up that day. He expressed sorrow with tears for over committing to other jobs but it made one rough rodeo ride for this one-man show that day.
As I began to realize what was happening I grabbed my two by four braces and began to stake them off to the backfill. I quick ran a line down the still wet but quickly setting “U” shaped wall. The corners were square and solid by themselves but the wrestling match took place in the middle where thousands of pounds of wet concrete was trying to set in its crooked place. The main wall I was able to save and correct getting it acceptably straight. Where I ended up trying to push it in with my tractor what was then after dark was the two ends at the keyway, which were sagging out at one, end a couple inches. What saved me on those ends was that they were the exact locations of what would be two six foot by four foot concrete pillar foundations sticking out that would be the foundations for two thirty six foot chimneys!
As I left that challenge then I started toward the last. A loud pop had been heard most of the way through the pour down in the backfill on the southwest corner. I climbed on down in there nine and a half feet between the shale rock backfill wall and the fresh poured eight foot form. Sure enough we had blown out a form. About a yard of hardening green concrete had spilled all over the top of the footer. I knew If I left it harden there would never be any way to get that form out. It would also ruin the run for the later installed footer drain tile.
So I got back out and found a pick and shovel. By this time I was physically exhausted and emotionally discouraged. With tears running down my face alone that night in the dark on that mountain with just a failing flashlight I chipped away all that green concrete and pulled it away from that form. My knuckles were bloodied in the process and learned a valuable lesson that night. Some things have to be done alone, when we don’t see, feel or hear God. Oh He’s there, but at a distance trying our faith to the max getting ready to bless us by making one the next things real easy! The Father understands that the making of a persons character is not done by an easy road all the time. But teaching them the value of enduring through hard places.
The Hard Place Part Two
It was somewhere in the few days to follow I had a knock down drag out conversation with God. I didn’t understand He was teaching me patience. I was as sure as anything at that point God was missing something and I was mad. I told him so but more importantly I ended up breaking in tears and seeking Him for something with a diligence I don’t believe I had ever prayed. Help! I needed Help building this house and I realized at that point I had taken on far more than I could handle and far more than I could handle with the help of my Dad and even Mike on weekends when he could come. It was then that God answered in the most marvelous way.
During all the time this was going on behind the scenes was one of the gruffest yet sweetest insides old preacher I have ever known. His name was Ronald Kleinsteuber and he was my pastor and mentor. He was used by the Lord to get me my ministerial credentials and had installed me as his Assistant/Youth Pastor. He had wanted me to buy land in Horseheads where the church was but eventually accepted God had a plan for me to be in Wellsburg.
One Sunday morning, following the service soon after my prayer freak out session with God a man approached me in church. I knew him, his name was Frank Fee. Frank said; “Brother Nolan I know I have heard you talking about building your house and I was wondering if it would be ok with you if I came up and helped you some? You see I have always wanted to build my own house and I understand you used to be a builder and all so I figure if I could help you then I could learn a lot. I’m laid off from my Iron Worker job for the rest of the winter would you give it some thought?” I said; “ Frank I don’t have to think about it I have already been praying God would send me some one of course you can help!”
That winter Frank came every weekday at eight o’clock and worked till five. He as an ironworker all his life expected lunch to be sharply at noon with breaks at ten. He was a small frame man but incredibly strong for his size and had worked high steel most of his life. Frank came just as I started the back “U” shaped pour of the forms. What a tremendous God send he was!
I had installed what I thought was a good job installing some rebar in the front wall. Frank brought professionalism tying off the rods with special wire. Having me go get more so there was enough. Two large six foot glass French doors had to be framed in for in that back wall. It was also hanging out of the ground. Then that wall was only eight foot high with a lot of electrical conduit in it I might ad. We had to once that was poured interlocking the leaning key ways build a complete poured concrete lintel like loop around the parameter of the whole 136 feet! It was two-two by twelve’s high all the way around. That lumber was later used to build all of the headers above every window in the house so little ever went to waste. Frank walked those walls like they weren’t even there. How long did he end up staying you might ask. Through that whole winter then back for most of the next. He never would take a dime. God did show me how to bless him in several ways. His wife who eventually died of cancer was fully supportive of all his help to me. If I had to hire someone to do what he did the costs would have been in the tens of thousands of dollars. God you are so good to provide all of our needs even when its sometimes someone to give a needed hand!
Finally Wood Framing!
Winter was setting in fast now getting close to January. I drove down the road to Sheddons Wholesale house and bought something like a a sixty by one hundred twenty foot blue tarp and by cutting down some trees we tented the entire backfill. A small wood stove that I had inherited from buying the house on Shepler Street in Elmira worked great for a temporary basement heater. I purchased two nineteen-dollar cheap paddle fans and mounted them to the bottom of the wood support structure to move that heat around. It wasn’t warm in there by any stretch. However my Eagle Scouting days taught me how to keep a big tent “warmer” than the outdoor air. Those fans lasted for years and one of them still hangs and works in the furnace side of our basement!
My next purchase had already been ordered weeks before. Floor trusses. They have been out for a long time now but thirty years ago they were still a fairly new item. They were made of two by four’s like roof trusses but built like a bar joists with lots of open spaces in the middle to run pipes, wires and heat ducts. The day they showed up on the truck it was a bright sunny day.
A young man named Brian and another named John had joined our part time paid work force. My Dad joined us again on a Saturday and it was like simple clockwork to set them once the plates were bolted down. I remembered agonizing over one of my next purchases. A Bostich stick nailer. In working for my brother Joel I had seen how they could take the place of at least one man on a job speed nailing. It cost over seven hundred dollars at the time for the pancake compressor, two hoses and nail gun. I still have those tools today with their original hoses and they still work great. When you buy quality tools and take care of them they last, that’s what I believe.
With the floor trusses set then came the next part before the subfloor could be complete. It was something again where I believe as I had spent many years delighting myself in the Lord he was granting me the desires of my heart. Psalms 37:4. In another place Jesus said; “Unless you humble yourselves and become as little children you shall not enter the Kingdom of God. Matthew 18:3
There is nothing greater than being a parent. Having your children crawl up in your lap and cuddle with you. There is no comparison to that feeling of love just flowing between you and your child. Or when they run across the room and jump in your arms when you walk through the door. I believe that’s the way God feels about us. He loves to love on us and he loves us to love on him! I believe in such a relationship with God any believer can expect to find real delight and fulfillment in His will.
A Cantilever What?
“A cantilever deck on the North Face of the house.” I would try to explain to people both familiar with and not familiar with home construction. They would just look at me like a calf looking at a new gate!
One of the great blessings I did not even realize fully when I purchased this property was the spectacular view to the North. An intercessors dream it has been called. Those who pray a lot, as such things can be speculated, believe that Heaven though in the Spiritual realm, shooting across the belly of the Earth is not up as tradition has it, but to the North. The scripture teaches that “promotion cometh not from the east or from the west or from the south but from the Lord.” Psalm 75:6 The only direction left out of that scripture is the north. So many believe Heaven is towards the north. I must ad here for balance that we all share that with someone’s heart open towards heaven eyes closed or open, praying in the wonderful name of Jesus. Heaven hears!
So we had this wonderful view towards the north. On a clear day tower climbers at the antenna site on the next ridge over have told me they can see the water on Seneca and Keuka Lakes. That is over fifty miles away! Blue multi colored skies, clouds lightly touching the mountain tops, hues of pink and greys accenting God’s creation are daily spectacles for all those who stay here. Every day the Heavenly Father dips His brush in his palate of creative colors to create a painting that will be gone with the passing atmosphere envious of the master artists of history! esr
I knew in my heart we were going to build a deck across the front of the house. I also knew while just about nineteen years old studying house framing at Williamsport Area Community College in Williamsport Pa I was fascinated with cantilevered floor systems. I later studying architectural design designed one in my first home design. Now we had the perfect place for one. It would be a suspended deck system hanging about fifteen feet in the air overlooking mountain vistas to the north. In designing these you basically your floor joists back in your framing at least as far as they protrude out eliminating the need for ground support posts. This also is great for keeping black bears and such critters from climbing up and getting in your bird feeders and such things. So with a design confirmation from a local Architect, Frank and I started tying in the cantilever joists, eighteen foot high level pressure treated two by tens, hanging nine feet out in the air across the entire width of the house.
‘We have had though the year’s ministers, missionaries, evangelists, and many Christian friends stay at our home. The common most favorite things about this house they always comment on are the back deck and the view.
Wow a Roof! Well Sort Of!
With the completion of the deck framing and the framing ribbons around the edges we were able to put down the subfloor. At that time five ply fir plywood was affordable, strong, and would provide something that could stand the weather until we get it closed in. It went fast. Bamb, bamb, bam, as fast as you could pull the trigger the nails went in. In just a few hours we had a flat floor deck we covered with what was left from our huge tarp. Now we could have a almost totally dry basement area to work out of and store supplies in. It was a roof, well sort of!
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The Day God Sent the International Plumbing Team!
In the process of the rough framing came the time where the copper plumbing rough in had to go in.
In the previous year I had spent a lot of time in Brooklyn doing Electrical work for Bill Wilsons Metro ministries. They were being charged at the time one hundred dollars an hour in Brooklyn for electrical work. They were ministering at the time to thirteen thousand children each week with approximately fifty-five full time staff and over two hundred local volunteers. I spent so many weekdays down there they started cutting me a weekly paycheck.
Then one Monday when I arrived in New York City the maintenance crew foreman named Bob came to me and asked me if I could use some help in doing the plumbing on my house?
Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised but was ready to turn down the offer in light of the fact that they were also busy doing their work in the inner city for God.
Bob and explained to me that they all needed time away too and that several of them had dirt bikes and it sounded like where I live to be a really cool place to Trail ride for a couple of days. They wanted to know if they could put their bikes on trailers come up to my house and while they're working on my plumbing do some trail riding with their motorcycles in between the work?
I said absolutely!
So a few weeks later at they came up five hours from New York City with their trucks and trailers with their motorcycles. There was five of them who spent over the weekend running all of my plumbing in my house for the glory of God. This six bedroom commercial style home with 3 1/2 bathrooms took a lot of plumbing work! But God provided for it all!
So a team from Metro ministries in New York City from literally all over the country including a Jamaican man who is a licensed plumber did all the copper plumbing on this house for the glory of God!
Oh and a few months later when we started hooking everything up there were no leaks! That's zero! You can tell I didn't do the plumbing!
A FATHERS DAY TRIBUTE AND ANOTHER INCREDIBLE STORY IN THE BUILDING OF THE HOUSE ON COMFORT HILL.
I want to mention a man named Frank I won't say his last name it's fitting that we talk about this on Father's Day because is and was an incredible father and the things that he did for his children were nothing short of amazing.
But as I started to build Comfort Hill from deep in the ground up I soon realized that I needed help doing what I was doing. It was way too much for one man to build this house of God called me to build. I had family members to help some but basically I was taking on a project way too big for me.
At that time I was attending a church in Horseheads New York and I was the assistant and youth pastor. The man in our church to approach me one Sunday morning after I got into fervent prayer over the need. I want you to know that God did not answer me when I was just throwing prayers up to heaven. But only after prayers of desperation were heard in heaven did God seem to answer. But oh how he answered!
Frank was a union ironworker who had the winters off and I was starting to build my home in December. He asked me if I minded him coming to help me a building my home because he got bored sitting around in the winter time and always wanted to learn how to build a house.
I said let me pray about it just kidding! I said sure and Frank started showing up on Monday morning at 8 o'clock we took a 10 o'clock break we ate our lunch every day at noon and we finished our day at 4 o'clock every day! According to the schedule that he was used to.
Frank being construction worker and an iron worker was an extremely good shape. He could lift things and climb on things and help hold things in a way that nobody else could do. Frank was with me not only through the first winter but came back the second winter almost every day. What a tremendous blessing Frank was to the building of the house . I could've not done it without him and he did it all for free!
God knows what he's doing when he is in something! He provides any provides beyond that which we can fathom many times. I did make sure I blessed Frank in a lot of ways that I could in that process of time.
I'm not sure where Frank is today but if you can read this God bless your Frank and thank you! Not only are you an awesome father but an awesome blessing the building of the Comfort Hill property but in providing a home I believe for parentless children which is coming in our near future for Gods glory!
It used to be every year in Springfield MO. They would have our National Evangelist Seminar the week before Christmas. That was because churches seldom scheduled evangelists at that time because of the holiday.
I had about seven hundred dollars set aside for my families Christmas.
God by His Holy Spirit began to speak to me about taking that seven hundred dollars and going to Springfield MO for that seminar. I said just what you would have probably said; "No way Lord that's my family's Christmas money! He seemed to say to my heart confirmed by His peace "Trust Me with this!"
I planned a road trip and drove to Springfield for the conference. God moved powerfully touching everyone and I returned home after about 5 days to find a check in the mailbox for $700! HE RETURNED THE EXACT AMOUNT! That however was not the most amazing part of my return home.
My family had been living in the basement of the house for over a year. I had set up temporary walls and with a working boiler it so it was dry and warm. The first room I finished after the framing was the first floor bath and that was a blessing.
Then God sent Jim. He was a union carpenter and a deacon at a church over towards Ithaca. I had helped that church during what looked like a sure closure. I was interim pastor there for about a year. During that time we ripped out a wood furnace from the parsonage and a huge one from the church. We then put three forced air furnaces. We put one in the parsonage and two in the church and fellowship hall. We also had put a new roof on the church.
Deacon Jim asked if he could work some on the house when I was away? I wasn't sure he should but had peace about it so I said yes.
When I walked through the front door in returning from Springfield Jim had completely sheet rocked, finished and painted the living room for Christmas! My kids could have their Christmas in a normal setting. I had great fun shopping for their Christmas last minute that year! To God be the glory! Deacon Jim went on to work with me for weeks and weeks finishing off the entire house with sheet rock and taping it for Gods glory!
"For He is able to provide exceedingly and abundantly beyond all we can ever ask or think amen?
COMFORT HILL THE ROOF TESTIMONY!
The Christian man Frank and myself did all the basement form work. We poured the 10 basement walls installing the electric rough ins and rebar.
We framed both floors which were floor trusses for the first floor and 2X10's for the second with two 40ft cantilevered decks across the north face with the view.
Praying much about the roof trusses, sheeting and roof shingle installation, God sent my Brother Joel Harkness and his crew from
my home Town of East Smithfield Pa.
Joel offered to do the job with his contractor crew for just what he paid them with no profit of cost to him.
I rented a crane for one sunny day in January and by the end of the day all the trusses were set coved with sheeting and black felt paper.
In a short time in one whole day all the shingles were installed for Gods glory. Photos coming soon!
"Faithful is He who has called you who also will do it!" 1st Thessalonians 5:24!" AMEN!