Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Our home story: the beginning

So we have been house hunting on and off for years and after a third attempt at vigorous searching (we have officially exceeded our move out goal of September 1st) for about 6 months, I've discovered a startling truth. Home hunting is like trying to find the elusive soul mate.

In fact, our house hunting pattern strongly resembles my dating history: I started out with high standards, which yielded no results. Then I let them slip a little in an effort to put myself out there. I mean, maybe The One was right in front of my face and I was just missing it. Maybe I would grow to love him. Nope. I just put myself in very uncomfortable situations that were doomed to fail. I cannot count the number of times where God saved me from myself. Then in complete and utter frustration and hopelessness, I swore off them all. And lo and behold The One crossed my path. Now if you go back and subsitute all the masculine pronouns, you'll have our house hunting history. It's been quite the journey.

Bringing you up to speed, I was sick to death of house hunting. I don't think my standards are crazy high, but I know what I want: a 1500 square foot, 3 bedroom, two story home with a nice basement and lots of potential. Preferably in North Hills school district. If it happens to be an older home with all the antique charms, a grand staircase, more than one bathroom and a large yard, so much the better. We found two that we really liked but this was early on and we wanted to make sure we didn't make a move without God. In the meantime, both were snatched right out from under us, one just about a week after being listed. I've kept checking the dozens of daily listings our realtor sends us, but none of them felt right. And I just felt drained and like I must have misunderstood God's intentions for us. So I reconciled myself to the fact that buying a house this summer did not appear to be in the plans for us and it may not happen for some time. That being the case, we weren't interested in moving to another (wayyyy more expensive) apartment, so I needed to embrace the idea that we would be staying in our current place for the time being.

This was disappointing to us on a number of levels. The girls are at the age where they are very possessive of their things and space and having them and their bunkbeds crammed into a 12x6 room is just NOT working out. I work from home and my work space happens to be shared living space. There is no where to really escape the noise. We have a family of Bhutanese refugees living above us. Or maybe multiple families. There is around 9-14 of them. Suffice it to say we are feeling squished in like sardines, which made the idea of staying here for the forseeable future a rather difficult pill to swallow. But I have learned a lot over these past few years and God has been working with me on trust, contentment and faithfulness, so I saw it as an opportunity to embrace the ways I've changed and lean fully on Him.

A day or two later, I got another emailed listing among many others. I quickly looked it over and OH MY GOSH it was beautiful. The house was big, it was in exactly the area I wanted. Three floors with a big basement, SEVEN deco fireplaces and all the charms of a century old home. And the price was right! I couldn't contain my excitement and immediately contacted our realtor telling her we wanted to see it right away. It was pretty much all I could think or talk about. I couldn't forsee any surprises unless there was a problem with the foundation or something else extreme and not easily evident in pictures. The next day I was so excited and anxious and nervous that my heart was racing and I felt like I was going to throw up. I'm getting jittery just writing about it.

We showed up fifteen minutes early, which if you know me, should tell you this was big. We scouted the backyard (private, fairly enclosed, a front AND back porch, a mini vineyard!) and waited for our realtor. She came and we toured the home. Yes it wasn't perfect. TONS of hideous wallpaper, cracks in some of the walls, water damage, a kitchen from the 30s. But all I could see was beauty. This home was everything I wanted. I was dancing. Our realtor called the seller's agent and talked. Apparently there were already two other offers made that day! This had us rethinking ours. The house was listed a decent amount under market value and once it was fixed up, it would be worth so much more. We spent the night signing paperwork with our realtor and going over the next steps, but I felt pretty discouraged. I was definitely afraid to get my hopes up. Our offer wasn't that impressive comparatively; surely they would pick someone else.

The next day, we got an email from their realtor letting us know that the owner was going to keep it open until Tuesday night so that "everyone would have an opportunity to bring their best offer to the table." Yikes. We spoke with our realtor again and a mortgage rep and submitted an improved offer, one that was better for the seller, but that we were still comfortable with. We left it at that, feeling pretty good. We've done our best, and I think we've got a decent shot.

Now it is Tuesday afternoon. I wasn't going to write anything at all, in case we don't get it. But then I realized that more important than whether or not we get this house is the testimony to how God has changed my heart. 3 years ago, I was covetous and irresponsible in determination to catch up. I was emotional and buying a home had become an idol. I've gone through so much since then. This time around, we've treaded lightly and careful and really done our research, praying every step of the way.

Buying a home is a really big investment. One that, as we've seen, does not always pay off. So settling for something that can only be a "starter home" is just reckless. Especially when we consider the fact that we might like to move around a bit or live abroad. I have never prayed over one issue so much as I have over this. And not just to get what I want. But to want what God wants for me. To trust Him, to be patient, to be content whereever I am, and to not let me take a single step without Him. Just as often as I've prayed to God asking Him to bless us with a particular home, I've asked Him to remove it as an option if it's not in His will for us. I've also asked Him to move quickly. He never disappoints.

I'm writing this now, because the point isn't actually whether or not we get this house;  I've seen what He can do. I fully trust Him for my good more than I trust myself.  If this falls through then I will embrace it, practice contentment and refocus my sight on the eternal because I know that He can and will provide abundantly, when the time is right. And if we do get this house, I hope that I never forget the lessons I've learned or lose the things I've gained: stronger faith in my Father who works all things for good, for His glory. His kingdom come.

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