in which we find an abused and neglected one that we want to love

Posted: May 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

I’ve come a really long way over the past 15 years when it comes to money, but to be honest, on that front I’m still filled with fears, insecurities, and a nebulous general certainty that I still live in the Land of Consequences that have cut me off forever from access to some financial comforts others easily enjoy.  No matter how much better I do, what my heart believes is that I’m inevitably Not Good with Money, and I’m realizing that I’ve been believing and speaking that curse over my life, even as I’ve grown and fought to do better.

So in the last couple of weeks when first my boss, then my parents, then my prayer partner alleged that I might have access to being a homebuyer without first doing a year or two of hard time in a studio apartment to allow for the collecting of a giant pool of down-payment funds, I wasn’t buying it.  You don’t know was the phrase that rose up immediately as each encouraged me to at least TRY – at least ASK whether we might be eligible right now for a home mortgage.  You don’t know all the messes I’ve made, you don’t know how often I screw up when it comes to money, you don’t know the demeaning things that will probably be said to me, if I should dare to even ask such a question.  I’d never have made it through that wall of fear, if not for my prayer partner doggedly talking on and on over my mostly unspoken objections, until a crystal-clear moment when I heard God pointing out that this was round 3 of Good Advice from Trusted Counsel, and maybe I should consider receiving it.

G is far faster and braver than I am when it comes to that whole “leap of faith” thing, so when I came home and proposed to him that rather than looking for that apartment, maybe we should just find out whether we can buy a house NOW, he was all over it.  So Friday I put on my best I-am-a-grownup-professional-lady outfit, gathered up a huge pile of boring-but-telling documents, and took myself to talk with a mortgage professional, who had taken my breath away when I spoke with her on the phone the day before and she said, “We can probably get you pre-approved before you leave my office.”

What?  Just…what?  Are you kidding me?!

At his behest, I went without G.  He had to work and really, we are both clear that I’m the “business manager” of this marriage.  It’s an arrangement that works for us.  Walking into that office, I felt like a 6-year-old pulling my chair up to the desk.  How in the WORLD did I, of all people, find the nerve to ask for this?!

The pre-approval didn’t end up being quite as instant as anticipated.  When one drops out of the system of bills-and-paychecks for nine years, as G did during his missionary years at JPUSA, the system responds by changing one’s credit score from whatever it used to be to “zero.”  We knew that, and had been working on fixing it, but/and it is not 100% there yet.  Our mortgage professional gave us steps to take to expedite that process, the first of which which we took care of the very same day.

Then came yesterday – a day that advanced the process so quickly my head spun for most of the day.  There is a house I’ve been dreaming of, for months.  Literally MONTHS.  It’s right on the street I take to work, just up the hill from my office, and it caught my eye and my imagination.  Before I’d made any conscious decision to move forward, when I was just silently following my boss’s encouragement to “pray about becoming a home owner” (something I didn’t even WANT), before the house even was visibly for sale, I saw it falling into the kind of disrepair that happens when someone is in over their heads (very noticeable on a street of well-loved homes), and I wondered if it was going to go on the market.

If it came on the market, I wondered, where would I be in this praying-about-home-ownership business?

Then the sign went up in the yard, and since I wasn’t yet inclined to move forward, I figured it was a lost cause.  That it would be sold well before we did anything.  I thought about it basically every time I drove by it, but you understand:  I didn’t feel like it was yet time for us to do this thing.

We’ve been scoping out houses like mad, these past few days – I’ve basically lived in Zillow, and we’ve driven all over the place studying prospects, even getting out to be WAY nosier than is normal for me, walking through yards and such.  But that little house has been at or very near the top of our list at every step of that search.  As we kept looking and studying our situation, it took a strong first place in the lineup.

Yesterday I let our friend the realtor and also our mortgage professional know of our interest in this place, and then:  the dominoes just started to fall, one after another.  By lunch time, we had an evening appointment to see the house!  My parents (who know all things house-related) came to help us see and understand the situation.

The house is a mess.  It hasn’t been loved well.  It got neglected for a long time (and was lost via foreclosure).  And then someone who clearly wanted to redeem it tried…there is evidence of that.  They’ve been trying since 2014.  None of the tries were things we’d choose to do, and none of them worked out.  Some of the stuff they’ve tried, we’d have to start with ripping back out.  It is stinky dirty and beat-up.  The floors are like roller coasters.  There are a lot of broken windows.  There are some cracks in the basement.  The bathroom is a disaster.  Some of the drywall needs repaired.  The front entrance needs some massive TLC, as it’s starting to slide off the house.  The pretty parts of the yard are grown up in weeds, and there is gravel in strange spots in the yard.  The air conditioner is shot.  And that’s not a complete list of what’s wrong with the joint.

It is that thing Chip and Joanna Gaines advise:  the worst house in the best neighborhood. A fixer-upper.  And yeah, we’re totally in love with it.  My parents talked us through what it would take to rehab it.  We want the house.  We’ll be signing a purchase agreement in the next few days, contingent upon it passing the mortgage company’s inspections.  We’ll trust God to close that door via the inspection process, if this is not the way we should go (and hey…should that door close, there is another house I’ve been similarly silently stalking all this time, that is empty but not even for sale yet, about which I’ve been telling G for months, “Maybe God is holding that for us until we’re ready to be home owners.”)  At this point, we want to take this poor little abused and neglected house and love it into what it was supposed to be.  And bonus – we’d never need to drive to work again!  We’d start and end our workdays with a nice little walk.

Meanwhile, I can’t sleep at night for all the excitement, ever since I made that first appointment with the mortgage professional.  I lie in bed with my eyes closed, making myself rest, and mostly not sleeping at all.  When I do drift off, I dream hardcore “working dreams” about Becoming a Home Owner.  I make plans and schemes.  I renovate.  I decorate.  I garden and garden and garden some more.  I’m so tired I just about can’t see straight.  But hey – I’m happy!  And sleep will come again one day.  Both G and I are dizzy at the prospect of becoming home owners – something we thought wasn’t within our reach.  Something we thought was reserved for people who haven’t made the mistakes and other choices that we’ve both made.  For those with their acts together.  Not for us.

Pray for us, eh?  We could use it.  Not desperation prayers.  Just following-Jesus prayers.  That’s the aim.

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