That belief was strongly reinforced this past month as my wife Sandy and I went through the process of buying a house. I’ve never been good with real estate and this was my fifth time qualifying as a first-time homebuyer. Each time the process has become exponentially more complicated – and expensive!
There were so many roadblocks in this process that I swore God didn’t want us to have a house of our own. Now I’m convinced the hurdles were there so he could show us just how mightily he can move in even the most grueling of details.
For nearly 10 years we have been living in the house in old town Rosenberg that belonged to Sandy’s grandfather. After he passed away six years ago, ownership eventually transferred to Sandy’s mother. She has been a most gracious and generous landlord as we have gone through many transitions in life, including job changes, grad school for Sandy, and more.
I cannot begin to express my gratitude for the opportunity to have a roof over our heads and all the loving care and support that has been shown us. We were very fortunate to live there as long as we did. It got us through some challenging times.
At the risk of sounding ungrateful, I’m more than happy to be leaving. The house is very old and is constantly needing repairs and upgrading. It took a lot of work to maintain the house and for the most part it was a losing battle. The worst part, however, is the location. In the first few years there we had four cars smashed in overnight hit-and-runs while parked in front of the house – one of them totaled.
Numerous times cars have driven onto the lawn – one even plowing through a fence and hedge. We are constantly “serenaded” by the bar cattycorner to us, often into the wee hours of the morning. The restaurant and cantina across the street has its trash picked up around 4-5 a.m. several times a week. The gas station across the other street is continually having cars pull up blasting their rap music while the driver fuels up or goes inside to buy something. And neighborhood dogs bark at all hours of the night. The sleep interruptions are causing me all kinds of health issues.
We’ve wanted out of the house for years but never had a realistic opportunity until this year. Sandy and I spent a lot of the summer looking online and sharing hopes and dreams for a dream home. When we finally got serious and began digging into the qualifications, our dreams all but shattered. We went into this process believing that we could comfortably buy a house in the mid-$200,000 range. Our reality was far, far below that.
With a senior and a sophomore at Terry High School, we wanted to stay within the school’s boundaries so the kids wouldn’t have to change schools. The sharp limits on geography and price severely limited our options. We hoped and prayed and prayed some more. We lowered our standards but never gave up hope. That’s when God sent us an angel. Her name is Jen Gowens. She is a Realtor and a friend from church. She is an agent with Keller Williams Southwest (www.jennifergowens.com) and a real miracle worker.
Poor Jen lost a lot of weekends and weekday nights showing us homes, answering odd questions, and very patiently walking us through a difficult time. When we finally found a house that fit our family’s needs, budget, and location, she guided us through a process that at times felt worse than passing a kidney stone (or so I imagine since I’ve never actually passed one).
Without going into too much detail, we found obstacles at nearly every point in the home buying process. Between Jen and our lender, Fairway Mortgage, we found some rather creative ways to make things happen. Several times we ran into roadblocks that were sure deal-killers, only to have our angel work her magic. Thanks to Jen, James Ward and his team at Fairway, the sellers, and some help from my father and friends, we were able to close the deal last Thursday.
Even as we were packing up our house the night before, there were questions as to whether or not the deal would actually close. It did, and on terms that better suited us in the long run. Our prayers were answered and in a very big way.
Next up came the physical move. Again God sent his angels among us as a contingent of friends from our church, Christ’s Church Foster Creek, turned out to help along with Sandy’s parents, uncle, and a lone representative from the Texas Army re-enactment group I belong to. The work was grueling and hot and many items were ridiculously heavy (can you say piano?). On top of all of that, both of our cars experienced mechanical problems over the weekend and will be alternating trips to the mechanic this week.
As I write this Monday morning, I am extremely exhausted, very sore, and so filled with gratitude I think at times my heart might explode. We are incredibly thankful for God’s provision and the gift of friendship. They’ve seen us through not only this process, but multiple moves in the last 18 years. Should any of my friends back in Colorado and Amarillo think we’ve forgotten them and their help, we haven’t. It’s just further proof of God’s handiwork and his angels moving amongst us.