Read part one here.
Our Measuring Stick
After God used randomly running into our realtor and my yoga teacher’s encouragement to show me it was His will for us to begin house hunting, I told my husband that it was his turn to text our realtor. That same weekend, we were pre-approved and had our search criteria in our realtor’s database. Still, though, my husband and I talked about looking at houses just like it sounds: looking. We knew looking wouldn’t hurt, and we really didn’t want to move during back to school time — summer was nearly halfway over. We both had this feeling, though, that we wouldn’t find anything and buying a house would be a long process, or it would happen in the knick of time and we’d be moved in before the start of school in August.
On our third wedding anniversary (June 30 — see our wedding video here), we officially looked at our first houses with our realtor, and they were terrible — I’m talking standing water in the basement. This was discouraging, but again, we really weren’t in a hurry. It wasn’t ideal for my husband to drive over an hour to work for another school year, but we also didn’t want to put in an offer on a house just for the sake of moving before school started.
The next day, we looked at a couple more houses, and we absolutely loved the last house. We wanted something move-in ready (sorry, we’re not Chip and Joanna Gaines, so don’t expect any home DIYs from me lol) with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fenced in backyard, and two garage spaces (though this last one was negotiable in my husband’s eyes at the start of our search). Reflecting on why we loved this house, it was really because it was the best one we’d seen so far. It was one car garage and the bedrooms were pretty small, but there were three. The backyard was plain and the fence wasn’t very nice, but it was there, and the door to the backyard was in the garage, which was strange but manageable. The kitchen was also relatively small, but all the appliances stayed. The neighborhood and schools, though, were the best we’d seen in our price range, and in my mind at the time, school district was EVERYTHING. This house was good enough, and after some discussion, we wanted to put an offer on it.
That was Fourth of July weekend, so we went down to the lake with my immediate family after viewing the house. To our dismay, before we had a chance to put in an offer, the sellers went under contract with other buyers, and we lost the opportunity but had our new measuring stick (the house we would compare all future houses to when deciding if we could see ourselves living there). We had talked through what we loved about the house with both my husband’s parents and mine (it’s so hard to escape parental approval, isn’t it? I want to write a post about that, so let me know if you’d be interested in reading it in the comments below), and they gave us some really great points to think about as we continued looking.
As we continued our search the next week, any hardness left in my heart about not living and working in the city where I grew up completely melted. The school district I attended and now work in is extremely prideful, maybe even arrogant, honestly to a fault; at least I think I’ve been raised to be arrogant. It’s “the best” and I’ve been conditioned to at the very least scoff at all other districts in the area and at worst fear them. I do believe my district is great and probably one of the best in our area, but we also have so much room for improvement and growth, just like any other district.
It’s okay to have pride in something you love and care about, but we’re not perfect, and my teaching career has let me see behind the veil, so to speak. I’ve had the privilege of hearing diverse perspectives that don’t portray my district as “the best” at all. It’s been quite a humbling experience. Honestly, until thinking about, drafting, and writing this post, I didn’t fully realize how much I’d made my school district my idol, especially as an adult. My identity was my job and my city, and now I know that God wanted to use moving and buying a house to strip that identity away. I got caught up thinking that quitting my job was the answer for a really long time, as I mentioned, and thank God I was able to push that thought away because I love my job now more than ever but I also have a new appreciation of other school districts in our area.
During the beginning of our home buying process, I was very caught up scanning school district zoning maps, making sure our housing prospects were in a “good” area. I became so obsessed with this, stressing over the school our hypothetical future children would attend at least five years from now, if I were even pregnant (I wasn’t). Finally, after a heart-to-heart with my sister-in-law, I was at peace knowing that any school my future children might attend are only a fraction of what will influence their time growing up. And frankly, I’d love for my future children to experience something different than I did growing up. The bottom line, though, is that any children I might one day have are nonexistent right now and my husband and I cannot be making life changing decisions for us in the present based on what might be our future. That realization was incredibly liberating, and only then did everything fall into place.
On July 9, I saw our house for the first time — in a part of Kansas City I had been conditioned to believe wasn’t “the best part of town” — and I had a feeling but didn’t really know it was our house then. That day, Brad was working lake construction like he does for our friend in the summer, so it was just me meeting our realtor. This house was located past some highway construction and on the opposite side from another house we thought we liked until we saw the neighborhood. The first thing I noticed and loved was the color of the front door, but the floor plan is reverse ranch, a style I’d never seen before and now can’t help but noticing when I drive through neighborhoods.
It was 100% move-in ready with everything else we wanted and more, especially in the backyard, which is a dream with a brand new privacy fence that backs up to land that will never be developed because the plant behind our neighborhood owns it. There’s a big beautiful deck and a fire pit too. It’s three bedrooms, two full baths, two car garage, minimal trees (our rental house gave us some serious hate for to too many trees), a huge living room, finished basement, and a kitchen with a gas stove and all appliances staying. There is a park and an elementary school in the neighborhood, not even a mile from the house. That day, I told my realtor that I loved it and we needed to come back the next day with Brad.
I told Brad that I loved this house so much I wanted to put an offer in without him, and for too long he maintained that he still liked the house we lost more (he was lying!). When he saw it with us on Saturday, he also loved it and saw us living there, so Sunday morning, we skipped church and spent hours on the phone with our realtor walking through all of the necessary paperwork to put in an offer. Because of the market, we had to go over asking, and we maxed out. Then, we waited.
The evening after we officially submitted our offer, we had plans with my grandma and her boyfriend. At that point, we knew that we were one of only a few offers in the running, and we were so nervous. In the middle of the show, I got the call from our realtor: the seller accepted our offer and we were officially under contract! Then, the craziness started. At that time, our closing date was set for August 12, the week before we both had to go back to work. The house passed inspection, and we waited for the appraisal, which neither party thought would raise any issues.
We waited and waited…
And the appraisal came in low. We didn’t know what was going to happen, but luckily the selling agent was very kind and gave us time to exhaust any other options we had to close the deal because the seller wouldn’t reduce the price to match the appraisal. I was traveling on a bachelorette trip the first weekend of August, and my patience was really tested. When Brad dropped me off at the airport, we had to pass right by the neighborhood, and coincidentally we were on the phone with our realtor talking about how at this point, all that was left to do was pray that the seller stayed with our offer despite the low appraisal. Our realtor was amazing for so many reasons, but the best part of working with her was that she shared her faith with us and not only had knowledge of the housing market but she also fully believed and encouraged us to believe that God was and always is in control.
As we passed the neighborhood, I silently cried and knew in that moment that I not only wanted the house, but I also wanted to finally leave the place I had called home for 26 years. This feeling wasn’t out of hatred like when I left home to spend the summer with my aunt and uncle in California after I graduated high school, and this move wasn’t temporary like going off to college. This move was all for me, and more importantly for my marriage and future family, and God’s will and my own desire finally aligned on the matter. A dear friend at work told me last month on her 43rd wedding anniversary that to get to that point in your marriage, you have to make sacrifices.
While I was on my trip, my husband fielded phone calls left and right back home. I tried not to think about the unknown of the house too much, but unfortunately, with one particular phone call update, I was left crying and pretty much losing hope, but one of the girls on the trip who I hadn’t met until that weekend was at my side telling me her own personal home-buying story and assuring me that all I could do now was pray and what was meant to be would happen. The next evening, Saturday night, I had pretty much forgotten that we were waiting for big news when my husband FaceTimed me. It was way past dinner time for our dogs, so I scolded him for being out late with his friends, but he just smiled. And I continued to scold. Then it dawned on me… WE GOT THE HOUSE ALL OVER AGAIN!
The only way I can explain it is that God pulled some strings and orchestrated the final deal for us. Without Him and people in our lives who believe in Him and follow His lead, buying our house would not have been possible.
Remember when I said we had a feeling that we wouldn’t find anything and buying a house would be a long, drawn out process, or it would happen in the knick of time and we’d be in before the start of school? With the appraisal mess, our closing date got pushed to Monday, August 16, literally the day before my husband’s teacher meetings started and two days before mine. Though we had our rental house until the end of the month, we’d already packed just about everything, and we really wanted to be settled before the back to school craziness. With the help of two of my amazing colleagues and friends, my mother-in-law, my brother, and my dad, we did it, and we are so incredibly happy.
The downside, though, is that we’ve hardly spent any time just enjoying our house. We powered through and stayed up way too late getting everything set up the first week in our house, and now it waits for us all day and sometimes all evening while we’re working and keeping other commitments. I now drive 30-minutes to work and my husband drives 45, but I’ve always loved driving, so aside from the annoyance of construction or traffic, I enjoy the hour I spend in the car each day. I really love podcasts (Crime Junkie and Supernatural are my favorites) and audiobooks (check out what I’m reading on Goodreads), and I can also pass the time catching up on the phone with friends and family. However, I find myself selfishly wishing that the world would shutdown just one more time so we can enjoy time at home — our home. Luckily, holiday breaks and snow days will come soon enough. We’re so incredibly happy with our first home and the memories made already, and it’s wild to think that the best is yet to come.