Are we even ready to buy a house?
I knew nothing about buying a house. What I did know, however, is that one day I would do it, but I had no idea when. My adult life has unfolded traditionally — graduate from a four-year university, start my career, get married — and next on that traditional list: buy a house. Actually, my husband and I went to get pre-approved just months after we got married in 2018, and we learned that we had some serious saving to do for a down payment. At the time, we were content renting and loved our downtown, small-town loft, until we adopted our first dog.
Just a couple of months later in March of 2019, we moved into the perfect rental house. It had more space than we needed, a double car garage, and the biggest selling point: a backyard and a landlord willing to put in a fence. The best part, though, was that this rental house was within walking distance from the school where my husband and I both worked.
Things were good. We adopted our second dog (read that story here), and then the pandemic happened. We were still content with our living situation, and to be honest, we weren’t consciously saving to buy a house. During our pandemic walks, we learned that my parents’ house was also in walking distance of our house (but we had to cross the highway at a light, so that made this walk less convenient), and we always enjoy spending time with them and my brothers when they’re home from college. One of the biggest blessings of the pandemic was that both of my brothers came home, and things almost felt like they did when we were kids all living under the same roof. At the time, we thought the only true downside to our rental house was that we didn’t own it.
And then God answered a prayer my husband and I had been praying since we graduated college. We desperately wanted God to lead Brad to a teaching job. Post-grad, my husband subbed, worked as a para, and eventually became a teaching assistant, but he yearned for a classroom of his own. That is his story to tell, but the short of it is that he was turned down numerous times for teaching positions in my school district, so during the pandemic while he had the time, he began looking elsewhere. Little did he know, there was a district that would, in God’s time, seek him out.
I remember the day this district called my husband to schedule an interview, and I remember sitting on the floor outside our office room eavesdropping as he was interviewed over Zoom. But what I remember most: the day he got the call with the official job offer and accepted the position. While I knew this was an answered prayer, I was actually mad at God, and I took it out on my husband for a year.
God didn’t answer my prayer at all how I wanted. My husband’s new job, teaching seventh grade English, was at a school over an hour away. And while I expressed to Brad how proud of him I was for finally achieving his goal of having his own classroom, I also chastised him for accepting a job so far away and told him that he wasn’t allowed to complain about the drive EVER because he had made the choice to accept the job.
And so for a year, my husband woke up at four o’clock in the morning, drove to work, and never complained ONCE. We thought maybe he’d get to teach virtually at some point, but his school district was one of the rare ones that persevered through in-person and hybrid schedules all year. Several times during the winter, my husband got the snow day call when he was already halfway to work. And still, he never complained.
God blessed him with colleagues willing to carpool, so most days, he was able to stop halfway or so and rest in someone else’s car the rest of the way there. He loved his job so much, and still does, including his principal, colleagues, and even his students who are a little rough around the edges. The culture change from an affluent suburban school to a school serving a population majority below the poverty line didn’t phase him, and if it ever did, he never complained.
And then there was me. Aside from the pandemic changes and hardships we all experienced in the fall of 2020, I had it easy. However, in my heart, contempt for my husband’s new job was growing. My dream of having us both teaching in the district I grew up in was shattered, and deep down, I knew things were going to change for me eventually too.
During the 2020-21 school year, I wrestled with wanting to quit teaching altogether or perhaps applying to work in another district. I couldn’t discern where God was calling me, but I was trying to pray. Everyone my husband and I told about our current living and working situation had the same answer: “Oh my gosh, he has to drive SO far! That’s terrible!” Once again, my husband didn’t complain and casually said maybe we’d move a little more central eventually, and I said I hoped that after some experience, my district would hire him, so this situation wouldn’t last forever. I placed so much false hope in my school district. The only thing my husband and I had in common at that time was our faith that the situation wasn’t permanent. The how, though, was something only God knew.
One Saturday that fall, we took a drive to a part of Kansas City where many of my husband’s colleagues lived. We ate lunch and drove around the neighborhoods, even stopping in an open house just to see what it was like. By this time, we started budgeting using the Dave Ramsey Every Dollar app, and in just a few months we had saved exponentially more than we had the first two years of our marriage.
That day, I put on a happy face. I tried to act interested in the area, but on the drive back home, I exploded. I thought I was mad at my husband, but what I really know now is that I was so angry with God because my dream had died. I knew in my heart that my husband and I would never teach in my school district together. So we dropped the idea of looking for houses. We tried our best to brush it off in the annoying OMG conversations, and the contempt in my heart continued to fester and cloud my outlook on the idea of moving at all, no matter where. We hadn’t saved enough for a down payment yet anyways, so we couldn’t seriously look at houses any time soon.
I wish I could say that I loved my husband enough to not be selfish and humble myself to do what’s best for him and our marriage, but I’m human. Luckily, God uses all things to work together for our good (Romans 8:28), and as I navigated some really emotional conflict with my immediate family, God began to soften my heart to the idea of moving farther away, if not for any other reason — at least in my eyes at the time — than to create some healthy distance with my family. I verbatim told my husband, “You better take advantage of me wanting distance from my family and start making moves to get pre-approved again.”
And he didn’t, which I later learned was because he was scared to buy a house since it is such a big purchase with a lot of moving parts, literally. Likewise over our first two years of marriage, he would tell me to text our realtor, a family friend of mine, and let her know we were almost ready to look at houses, but we never really were, so those conversations went nowhere. Then on June 24, God had had enough of this cycle. I went to see Godspell at Starlight Theatre with my mom and grandma, and on our way out to our cars after the show, we ran into our realtor. After quickly saying hi, I said to my mom and grandma, “Brad and I really need to reach out to her.” At that moment, though, I really didn’t intend to reach out.
The next morning, I was taking a yoga class at Sweatheory, and I learned my yoga teacher is also a realtor after mentioning to her where I was from and having yet another OMG conversation about my husband’s job. Finally, I heard God as I told her about seeing my realtor the night before, and my yoga teacher encouraged me to finally make a move to make a move. From general conversations with people in my life, I knew the housing market was not great for buyers, so I didn’t expect to actually buy anything, but at this point in time, no excuses were left. We had the money and we weren’t happy in our current rental house for numerous reasons — it was time.