Saturday, December 13, 2014

Buying a Home the Joshua Way Pt 3

Our choice
We first saw the house in mid-July and put in our initial bid in late July. The bank owning the house countered and we put in our second bid in August. They rejected it. We let it sit on the market.
.
Just as September turned into October my husband and I talked over our plan for this house. We agreed to leave it be until spring, realizing that we weren't willing to up our bid until we had saved up more money and the bank was more eager to sell the house. Just one day later the bank dropped their asking price by 30k bringing their price that much closer to ours (but still 20-30k more than we wanted to pay). Their price cut told us they were not eager to hold onto the house over winter and might be ready to accept a lower bid. So we put in the same second bid we had offered in August. Five days later they accepted that bid. We would be buying the house within budget, especially considering the repairs that needed to be done before we could move in and the stuff that we wanted to make the house our home.
.
The Lord brought the story of Joshua entering the Promised Land and conquering Jericho to my mind and reminded me of it multiple times between our initial spotting of the house in July and our final purchasing of the house in November. Now, Joshua and the Israelites were without a homeland because they and their ancestors had obeyed the Lord's commands. Abram left Ur to follow the Lord and to live out His will for himself and his descendants. Now, so many hundreds of years later, Joshua was leading God's chosen people into the land the Lord had promised to Abram. God clearly told him that this was the next step, Joshua needed to trust the Lord's impossible instructions for the conquering of the first city of the Promised Land, and then Joshua and the Israelites needed to work a bit to obey.
We have had lots of help transforming this house
.
This was a Joshua-type miracle for us on each one of those points. We were in need of a larger house because we welcomed into our life all the children the Lord has sent us, choosing not to turn away from His plan for us. We were in the Lord's timing. It was His plan that we were seeking and His timing in bringing that plan another step further. Time after time I asked the Lord to remove from me the desire for this house if in fact this was not His plan for us and time after time He simply strengthened that desire. We prayed in faith because we felt the Lord was telling us that this was the next step for us, so we wanted to trust Him to make the impossible happen. Though we needed to work a bit on our end as well.
.
Many, many projects being done now
and many more waiting for us in the future
The bank owning the house accepted our offer the first week of October. We needed a mortgage loan that was working with the house as a foreclosure and giving us enough to complete the repairs and remodeling that needed to take place before we could actually live in the house. Our realtor told us at the closing that he fully expected our particular type of loan to take at least 2-3 months to complete, based on his experience as a realtor and an owner of multiple homes. He praised our loan officer for pushing it through quickly, allowing us to close only 6 weeks after our offer was accepted. While our loan officer worked so well with us and did an excellent job (let us know if you need a referral...), the success of his work was not entirely in his hands: it was very much also in His hands. (Also let us know if you need a referral to a realtor. Though he should have been less surprised at the outcome: he also knows the God of Joshua.) We closed on the house just before the mortgage credit report expired and just before the legal window for closing expired, so we didn't have to wait for another credit approval nor file any expensive extensions for our bid on the house.
.
A week from today this won't look like a
construction zone. It will be a home for us to live in.
Our building contractor began work on the house the day we closed on it and expects to finish this coming week. Honestly, this home is far more blessing and far more work than I ever expected to own. We know lots of people who buy fixer-uppers, either to live in themselves after purchasing for far less than the house is worth when their done with it or to flip, selling the finished product to people like me. People like me who don't buy unfinished houses because we don't know how to do the work ourselves, we don't spend our free time on remodeling projects, and we don't frequent the building contractor resale stores. People like me who don't spend time on redecorating pinterest boards because we don't expect to ever take a home down to its bones and rebuild it. Paint colors...appliance choices...flooring options...room rearrangements... Actually, we didn't take this house to its bones, but we did replace 2/3rds of the floors, all the appliances, 1/2 the walls, the majority of the bathroom fixtures, several doors, and most of the light fixtures. That's enough redecorating to overwhelm me. There are projects in this house to keep us busy for the next decade or more, as our finances allow, in the windows, walls, and so much more.
.
The location is just right for us. The size is just right for us. The structure is just right for us. God made the price and the timing right for us. We honor Him for breaking down the walls that "should have" prevented us from moving forward in the path laid out for us.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Buying a Home the Joshua Way Pt 2

needing some repairs
The bank owning the house we wanted to buy counter-offered, dropping nearly a fifth off the original price! Still too much for us, but our realtor was shocked, never having experienced a counter offer in such a situation, and never having expected this particular house to sell for as little as the bank was now offering. Excited, hopeful, but realizing it was still an impossibility to us, we followed up a week later with a second offer. Meanwhile we continued talking over our situation with each other, with our mortgage loan officer, and with our realtor. We continued to pray and we half-heartedly looked at the descriptions of other houses in the neighborhood which our realtor sent to us. I had seen that the house next door had an open house on a day which was convenient for us, so I felt we should visit. It was a nice house. It had some of the criteria we were looking for and was in FAR better shape than the one we wanted, but it wasn't the one we wanted. I still felt like God was setting the stage for our miracle and looking at the next door home was somehow part of it. I kept packing all the things we weren't regularly using and tossing the items which weren't worth the trouble of moving.
.
We had shared everything with our daughters, telling them to pray. They always referred to the house as "ours" and when I reminded them that we hadn't purchased it yet--that it would take a miracle for it to become ours--they corrected themselves and referred to it as "the house we're going to buy". I feared for their first real crisis of faith, if God in fact had other plans. Yet I still had the conviction in my heart that this was the home for us. I dutifully looked at the descriptions of other houses, but didn't really give any of them a chance to win me. I prayed that the Lord would remove the certainty I had if I had misunderstood Him, but the feeling only grew stronger. I prayed that the Lord would bring about the miracle.
.
Over and over the story of Joshua defeating the town of Jericho impressed itself upon my mind. If God was leading us to buy this house, then it would require a miracle of that size, yet the Lord who brought down the walls of Jericho was certainly capable of making this home our own. I began reading the book of Joshua.
.
Thankful Thursday: This isn't my blog
Happy Heritage: Prayer of Faith
Buying a Home the Joshua Way Pt 1
Buying a Home the Joshua Way Pt 2
Buying a Home the Joshua Way Pt 3
The Lord will do amazing things
.
Linked with Works for Me Wednesday

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Buying a Home the Joshua Way Pt 1

My husband and I tend to talk over big decisions for a long time without any set plans or deadlines, defining gradually what we are looking for but making no effort to actually find it. Then, suddenly, it's time: we move forward immediately without delay.

.
We went about buying our second house in the same way: the process maybe began when we married and bought our first house, planning on it being a starter home we would live in for a couple kids, learning how to be home owners before eventually buying a larger house more suited to our long-term needs. Over the past 9 years we've had conversations here and there about the size, location, amenities, and so forth but never with definite plans to make it happen and never making any effort to look at actual houses. Over time we formed a list: A particular neighborhood near ~20 friends and close enough to siblings (who don't drive) that they could walk/bike to our house. 4-5 bedrooms for ourselves, our children, guests. 2 or more bathrooms (2.5 would suit us nicely). A spot for an edible garden. Room in driveway to hang a basketball hoop. 2 car garage. A kitchen double the size of our current apartment-size area. A home big enough to host 2-3 other families at a time for a meal. A back yard suitable for children to play in. With our list in mind, we did....nothing. The housing market dropped out while we still owed practically all of our mortgage. Our little starter home was now worth about half of what we had purchased it for and would certainly sit on the market for months or years without selling. But with our fourth child born this spring, we had to increase our home space. The space was really designed for 2 people and we were now 6. I was getting desperate so we began saving and decided to start actually looking next year.
.
About a week after we made the decision to start looking the following year, we were out on a date without any real plans. My husband drove us over to the neighborhood we wanted to move into and we leisurely drove around to see which homes were currently on the market. Almost at the end of the neighborhood we spied an empty house not on the market. Would we have even noticed it if it were not next door to another home obviously for sale? We drove around a second time, actually marking down the addresses with signs in front which we could look into more online later (neither of us owned a smart phone). Stopping at the empty house we jumped out to verify that it was a foreclosure...then walked around into the back yard. I got a funny feeling as we opened the gate. Everything on our list was in this house and so much more. We had asked for 4 bedrooms: this one had 4 with potential for a 5th in the basement. 2.5 baths...this had 3.5. The kitchen was as large as my current living room. The basketball hoop my husband wanted? This house had a full court in the backyard, with three hoops. The garden I had wanted was clearly planned for, even fenced off from the play area of the fenced in backyard. We had wanted enough room to host get-togethers: with a kitchen eating area, a dining room, and 2 living rooms on the main floor, and a finished basement, we would most definitely be able to host all the people we had hoped for and more. All our little hopes were present also: dishwasher, smallish front yard (less grass to mow), driveway for a third vehicle, easy access to a park, great size deck. Our daughters had their own list of a tree in the backyard, 3 season room, purple bedroom with southern facing window, bedroom closet just like Grandpa and Grandma's, kitchen peninsula. All were present in this house. I no longer wanted to look at other homes. I felt that this house was the right one for us.
.
But it wasn't for sale. When it went on the market it would surely sell for more than we could afford. And it was a fixer-upper. We are not fixer-upper people.
.
The house did go on the market a few days later, we arranged to walk though with our realtor, and we prayed. If God wanted us to buy this house, He would have to work a miracle as large as that of Joshua defeating Jericho. Our realtor estimated it would sell for 40k more than we wanted to spend on it, considering the condition it was in, and being a foreclosure he didn't expect the seller to consider counter-offering. But since we know the God who brought down the walls of Jericho for Joshua, we continued praying, we arranged for a mortgage pre-approval, and I began packing our stuff. We knew it was impossible for us to own this home, but we acted as if it would be ours within a couple months.
.
Thankful Thursday: This isn't my blog
Happy Heritage: Prayer of Faith
Buying a Home the Joshua Way Pt 1
Buying a Home the Joshua Way Pt 2
Buying a Home the Joshua Way Pt 3
The Lord will do amazing things
.
Linked with Modest Monday, Works for Me Wednesday, Fellowship Friday

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Happy Heritage: Prayer of faith

Sometimes I just want to capture a particular expression on my child's face, but of course it's gone before I could even think of grabbing the camera. I loved the intensity of the surprise on their faces when we first told them that we had decided to move and had even found the house we planned to move into. I loved the way my daughters' eyes widened, their jaws dropped, and their speech failed them (even the incessant talker!) when we dropped on them the news that we planned to buy a house that wasn't actually for sale and might not be for another year or more...yet we were going to act on faith and start packing our boxes as if the house would be ours within a few months.
.
My husband and I had no plans for our date night last July, so we ended up driving around a neighborhood we were hoping to move into, scoping out the current for sale signs. We ended up in front of a foreclosure directly across from our daughter's godparents. Now, we had a list of what we were looking for in our new home, both required and hoped-for attributes: location, # of bedrooms, # of bathrooms (more than 1!!), space for a garden, space to play, garage we could park inside, place to hang a basketball hoop. This foreclosure, although in rough shape, had everything and a few surprises: fenced in backyard, full basketball court, screened in back porch, back deck. We announced our find the next morning to our daughters, letting them know that they should pray for all the pieces to fall into place if this was the home God had for us. Reese looked at us wide-eyed, not certain she wanted to move, and asked the only thing that came into her mind. "Is it for sale?" Um...Uh...Well.............. No. That is one of the things you need to pray for, child. Because this house includes so much that we hadn't thought to ask for, which would fit our family vision so well, that we're just acting on faith that maybe the Lord has a plan for us bigger than the one we had in mind. That's when she and Maria gave me their priceless expression of shock. We're buying a house that isn't on the market? Wait...what?? My children, let's just watch to see what the Lord brings about.
.
As I write this in July, it seems premature to publicly announce anything. The Lord hasn't promised us this house, and He has a lot of work to complete before we can buy it. But I'm writing it in July as a testament to His ability to move mountains, ready to see what He actually does over the next few months.
.
Thankful Thursday: This isn't my blog
Buying a Home the Joshua Way Pt 1
Buying a Home the Joshua Way Pt 2
Buying a Home the Joshua Way Pt 3
The Lord will do amazing things
.
Linked with Modest Monday, Works for Me Wednesday

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thankful Thursday: This isn't my blog

It was too cold for 6-month old Ant to be outside, but here
are the rest of us posed in front of the house that wasn't
actually ours quite yet
I used to write a personal prayer journal on paper in an actual diary book. I did so off and on for more than a decade in various types of books using a variety of formats. A couple years ago I began journaling online, here, during my regular prayer time. It has provided accountability, a forum to share what the Lord is doing in my life with people I know, and opened the door for God to use what He is doing in my life as a nudge to inspire others, both individuals I know and some I don't. My desire is to keep this blog submitted to the Lord, as belonging to Him, as a help in my walk with Him and a help for others to also walk with Him.
.
Part of the Lord's work in my life has been to entrust two beautiful babies to my husband and I who were born only 11.5 months apart. Added to our other two older-yet-still-young children, our various commitments, and the realities of life, my "personal prayer times" have become something quite different. They're, well, less "personal", for one, as children beg or cry for my attention. Young ones don't understand strict schedules no matter how often you might explain that they are supposed to sleep until 8:15, and not wake up a minute before that time. Speaking of sleeping, my nights are short and interrupted. My prayers have proportionally increased in the "Lord, please give me the grace I need" and "....Bless the Lord...zzz...Thank you...zzz...Amen" type and decreased in the silent, contemplative, profound insight form. That's ok, since that is what God has for me right now, but it does make it harder to write out those (non-existent) insights for others to read. :-) Thus the glaring lack of meditations published in the last month.
.
But what are the ways the Lord is working in my life instead of the quiet, prayerful meditations? He is teaching me perseverance, expectant faith, diligence, patience, love. One of the many lessons He is teaching me is to speak up (even to Him!) for myself with confidence that He is ready to provide what I ask for. After living in a too-small space for several months, a space designed for 2 people, a space simply not large enough for the real stuff of 6 people, we have purchased a house large enough and more. Over the next several Saturdays I will share just how miraculous this is for us. We are not simply moving from a smaller home into a larger; the Lord has included many unexpected blessings and the ability to move from this house into the particular house we are moving to is indeed a story of miracle on top of miracle.
.
Happy Heritage: Prayer of Faith
.
Linked with Modest Monday, Works for Me Wednesday

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Thankful Thursday: Delightful

I looked in the mirror on Monday and discovered someone's snot stuck to my forehead. I'm thankful for four delightful children who find comfort in my love for them even when the price I pay is undelightful body fluids stuck to me after I've comforted them.
.
I'm thankful for quick youtube distractions to cheer up crying children.
.
I'm thankful for fresh fruit available all year round. I'm thankful for grocery stores to buy food in especially during those years when I don't manage to preserve hardly any of the harvest.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bible Study: Placing our futures in God's hands

Romans 15:28-29
Joshua 2:1-7
Pickersgill Rahab.JPG
image credit
Paul didn't plan, when he was writing his letter to the Romans, to arrive a few years later in chains. What he did plan, though, was to keep his future in God's hands and to arrive in God's timing with Christ's blessing.
.
My life today doesn't look much like what I had hoped it would back when I was an ignorant teenage girl. I overhear my daughters scheme about their futures and I laugh at their plans, knowing that most of them will never take place and that they will be the happier for it. Their plans include wealthy husbands, farmer husbands, world travels, wildly successful careers, business opportunities, charitable works, children of their own, and many luxuries they read about in fairy tales. They would be excellent authors for the plots they come up with to pretend they are wealthy widows or destitute widows, successful entrepreneurs, famous artists, or nuns whose holiness rivals that of Mother Teresa. They are too young to move in a definite direction and too inexperienced to realize how impractical their role-playing is. I let them dream, knowing that one or more of their dreams may actually come true, and that if they don't then the action of acting out their fairy tales may lead to another type of opportunity, be it in authoring books or in more easily accepting the failure the precedes success.
.
God knows that sometimes what we think we want is not what will truly bring us the most joy. Because of his years in chains, Paul has been a comfort to Christian prisoners throughout the centuries. Would he have chosen the life given to him if offered the opportunity? Perhaps he would have preferred to avoid the beatings and shipwrecks and confinement in prison. Yet perhaps he rejoiced in the suffering, agreeing with his fellow apostle (James 1:2) that it would bring him greater treasures in heaven.
.
I'm certain Rahab never expected to become the great-great-(...)grandmother of the Israelite Messiah. She was a prostitute among the Israelites' enemies. Yet she placed her future in God's hands and received blessings for it which extended far beyond her own lifespan.