After an exceedingly rotten night, at 10 am this morning the phone rang and it was our realtor. I took a deep breath and practiced briefly reacting to the news that we didn't get the house before answering. I didn't need to do that bit of practicing, though, because the news was good. Exceedingly good.
We got the house!
And not only that, we didn't have to go up at all on our offer. We got it for the list price, which was a very good deal. I had written a brief note to accompany our offer (something I've always done for each of the houses we have bought), and it seems that it was the thing that did the trick. Being a professional writer pays in more ways than one.
Before I tell you about the house which you have helped to pray for, let me give you some back story.
I have always loved horses and have always dreamed of owning horses. For various reasons, this was just never a possibility. J. and I have tried at various points in our marriage to move somewhere more rural, but despite years of our best intentions, things just never worked out. I was more or less content with this depending on the season. So we stayed put here in our Victorian houses of varying sizes and raised our increasing number of children.
But while we love the Big Ugly House, there were some problems. The property taxes being one and the lack of money to do the needed repairs being another. To continue as we had been was not sustainable. For the past five or six years, we have wondered and prayed and dithered about how to solve the conjoined problems of job, housing, and finances, all the while the taxes grinding us further into a vague financial nightmare. We had no idea which way to move.
Then came the new job and a way out of our situation. The job was the first piece of the puzzle, the Big Ugly House the second. Of course, the Big Ugly House is a 'special' house, we were repeatedly told. I am intimately aware of that use of the word special. We have many special things and people in our lives. Special is code, often, for 'better you than me.' Would we be able to find a buyer who could appreciate the specialness? And how much work and time and money would it take to get there.
Only God could arrange the puzzle pieces to fit as they have. A buyer out of the blue who was really interested in the house and wasn't scared off by it. Not having to actually list it and live through house showings. A decent offer that allows us to solve some financial concerns. And then this new house.
When we are in the middle of a huge change, I like to make lists... it's kind of a way of praying and telling God what I either see needs to happen or what I would like if I got to choose. It's a way to start a dialog. As we were realizing that we were closer to needing a new home sooner rather than later, I made my list to talk over with God. Here were some of the things on it: A home large enough that we could all fit without having to do extensive additions; at least five acres; a place with either an existing barn or at a price where we could add one; nearby riding trails or an arena or someway to build an arena so that there were places to ride; a quiet area with both trees and fields; close to J.'s work; not too far into the country because I wasn't sure any of us could really handle that; a basement and a fireplace would also be nice to have; oh, and newer, not falling down, which was J.'s particular wish.
With that we actually started to look in earnest. There were very few homes for sale, and I was realizing that things were moving quickly. The first house we looked at seemed the best, and quickly became the one by which we were measuring the others. It's the one we just had the contract accepted for. Remember my list as I describe it. (I won't show any pictures until after close, because it's not really ours yet.)
It's a two-story brick home with 3678 square feet. That's a pretty big house by usual standards, but to really show just how big the Big Ugly House is, we'll be down-sizing by nearly half. It has five bedrooms and a large attic space that we can easily convert to three more bedrooms giving us the bedroom space we need. And they are not small rooms. The other rooms are decent size, and I think fairly quickly we will take out some walls to open things up a bit just to make it a little more comfortable. It is on five acres. Some of the acreage has mature trees, some is open hay field or grass. It is bordered by some residential houses on the same amount of land, a boarding stable is next door, and a fairly large forest preserve with riding trails. I've already talked to the stable owners and they would be willing to work out a deal for using their arenas. It does not have an existing barn, but the price allows us enough money to build a simple one and some fencing for pastures. It was built in 1981 and seems in pretty good shape. It even has a small playhouse out back. Oh, and it's 15 minutes from J.'s work, and 7 minutes to the nearby town with library and large Metra station. That station would make it possible for M. and B. to get out to us if getting a ride didn't work. The only things it doesn't have are a basement and a fireplace. But you know what? I think I can live without those.
I am excited about it. We will miss the Big Ugly House, but this feels right. What I'm not looking forward to is the logistics of it all. We close on the same day for both houses. There are a couple of things, mostly involving flooring that we really need to do before we move a bunch of furniture and a giant piano in. I just can't quite wrap my head around how it will all work, but it will... eventually.
Before I start worrying about all that, though, I'm going to enjoy this: How God has truly provided for us yet again. Maybe someday I will know this at such a deep level of my being that I can avoid that spiral of worry and fear that I so often succumb to.
Soli Deo Gloria