One year ago today we spent about an hour signing a mountain of paperwork just to get these …
… the keys to our new house, but more importantly our new home.
But let’s back up a bit because, as is most often the case, the purchase of a house is not always the easiest or quickest process in the grand scheme of tasks.
In 2009 our family began exploring the possibility of moving from California to Virginia. This was definitely not a quick and easy, “Hey, let’s pack up 30+ years of life in a semi-truck (okay … two semi-trucks), track all the way across the country, and start all over.” The Mr. and I were both born in California … San Francisco to be exact … and all five of our offspring were also born there. This might just be more complicated than those first romantic notions of how easy and wonderful and perfect it would all be.
Fast forward to July 2011, and with lots of God-moving and God-following, at 9:15 pm on a hot, humid Friday night in mid-July, four of us landed at a small airport in Central Virginia (you didn’t really think we were going to drive all the way across the country, did you?) Yes, there were a few missing on that airplane … one was at camp and two were staying back in California. It was hot, we were tired, we were excited, we were starving, we were scared, we were thrilled … our new life was finally starting. It still all seemed very much like we were going on vacation … a really long vacation. Except this time when we got off the plane and headed to the luggage area, we would not be making a pit-stop at the car rental counter. Nope … due to our great planning, our cars actually made it to Virginia before we did and our friends that were picking us up at the airport had brought our car. Somehow, walking out of the airport and seeing our car parked in front … well, let’s just say, that visual put me right over the top. I started crying, bawling. The Mr. thought I was nuts … so did the kids. But our friends, they understood, quite simply because a few years ago, they had traveled a very similar journey.
Several weeks before our arrival, we decided that it might be important to secure a place to live. We knew we would stay in a hotel for a few nights, just to get our bearings, but wanted to make sure we had a more permanent living arrangement ready. Now, of course, this would only be temporary housing, right? We’ll only need it for a few months, because as soon as our belongings arrived and we were unpacked and settled, we’d be hot on the path of finding a house to purchase.
So there’s no reason on earth why we can’t just keep things easy and simple and minimal and lease a town house for a few months, right? After all, if we could live in a hotel room for two weeks, a 1,000 square foot town house should be perfect! It’s only for a few months, after all.
We tried, we really, really tried. We prayed. We discussed. We measured. We discussed. The Mr. said, “No way.” I said, “It’s okay, honey, we can make this work. It’s only for a few months.” But the more we discussed, and measured, we eventually realized it was definitely not going to work. Our king size mattress wouldn’t even fit in the master bedroom (never mind the fact that we wouldn’t even be able to get it up the stairs). And there was no place, and I mean NO PLACE up or down the street, in front or in back, that we would be able to put two semi-trucks to unpack all our stuff. We could barely get our Yukon XL in the driveway! So we prayed and we prayed some more. We did spend one night there … on the floor, on air mattresses. I won’t exactly say we got any sleep, but we were safe.
Bright and early the next morning the Mr. headed straight to the rental agency office and had a nice little chat with the manager. He was very kind and understanding and although he didn’t have time to take us rental hunting, he did give us keys to three other properties to look at. After a quick drive through McDonald’s for a hearty breakfast, we began our search. Two of the properties were other town homes and the last was a house.
Not the house of our dreams, but a house that would fit everything we brought with us. It was in a brand new neighborhood, only one year old, it was only 12 minutes from church and school, and had plenty of room for almost everything. We did end up having to get storage for all the garage and gardening stuff, but we at last had a house … a temporary home. And it’s a good thing we quickly made this change. Because as it turns out, it would be just a tad bit longer than three months for us to find our new permanent digs.
The amount of energy it took to get everything unpacked and organized, in the middle of the hottest, most humid week of the year, left us exhausted … the thought of moving again was far, far, far from our mind. In hindsight, we are very thankful we signed a one-year lease on this house. The kids started school and sports, and it wasn’t long before our lives became very busy. We knew, though, that at some point we’d need to begin the process of looking for a new home. We contacted our realtor and had him put some listings together and scheduled a day to go house shopping.
Over the next five months we looked, and looked, and looked and looked.
Average-sized houses … Larger houses ….
Traditional sale … Short-sale … Foreclosure …
No acreage … Some acreage … Lots of acreage …
Brand new … Some work … Lots of work … Tear the whole thing down and start over …
Maybe we should buy land and build ….
“This is the one!
This is perfect!
It can’t get any better than this!”
… we’d go through the motions of placing offers only to have them either rejected or outbid or not be able to negotiate to contract. Each time I’d walk away getting more and more frustrated and wondering, “Why!” And each time, my dear, sweet husband would calmly say, “Honey, it’s okay, it just means God’s got something better for us.”
And then one Friday night, when I was almost at my wits end, a new listing came up.
Just a price.
It was a house in a neighborhood that we had driven through just the week before. I remembered the house well … it was the kind of house that you drive by and say to yourself, “Wow! Look at that one! I wonder who lives there? It’s bee-u-ti-ful! I could never have a house like that.”
I couldn’t believe the asking price. Are you kidding? NO WAY! It was 9:30 at night … I didn’t care. I grabbed my phone, sent a text to the realtor, told him I saw a listing that just came up and we wanted to see it … like NOW. Not tomorrow, not Sunday, definitely not Monday … it’ll be gone by then. I know these things.
He couldn’t … not Friday, not Saturday, not Sunday … how about Monday morning at 9? I couldn’t say no, but inside I felt deflated. Somehow I knew that by then, the house would be gone. We’d never even have a chance to consider it. Of course, my dear sweet hubby had an encouraging word … “Honey, if this is the house that God has set aside for us, then it will still be available Monday morning at 9 a.m.” That was the longest weekend of my life!
Monday morning came … we drove to the property … we arrived before the realtor.
Do we get out and look around?
Or do we stay in the car and wait until he comes?
He came …
We walked up the stairs to the front door, he unlocked and opened it, and our eyes beheld this …
My jaw dropped … we were speechless. Holy macaroni … OH … MY … GOSH!
We walked through the rest of the house … in about 3 minutes flat.
“We’ll take it!”
We quickly drove back to the office, put together an offer, sent it on it’s way … and waited … praying, hoping, praying, PLEASE GOD.
Within hours, a counter came back and we accepted.
It was ours! Thank you, Jesus!
There was no way in a million years that we would have ever thought we could have a home this beautiful, that quite literally filled every single check box on our list. Hubby was right … God had something better, so very, very, very much better.
I remember that day well. One of the things that has stuck with me was a thought I had standing at the kitchen counter: “This would be the perfect house to blog about.” And so, exactly one year later, that dream is now born.
I am so excited to begin sharing with you how, over the last year, we’ve taken this house and slowly started turning it into our home and where we’re going from here. There’s a lifetime worth of work to be done, and I hope you’ll be with us every step of the way!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11