Last September/October I suggested to hubby that we should look into buying a house. We were living in a small rental house, we had chickens, a nice garden, a dog even. Although we LOVED our landlords, seriously they were the best God loving people and forgave some debts we owed them, I mean… THE BEST! But since I was a little girl I’ve dreamed of owning a house. So we found out USDA offered a 100% loan for rural development, and since this was kind of a fly by the night idea (aka we didn’t have a down payment saved up) we went with it.
We started looking at houses, it was all so exciting and new. We found the first one we put an offer on, a cute two bedroom house on a little over an acre, it had a view of Portland and it felt like we were in the country. It was exactly what we wanted! So we put an offer on it. It was bank owned, and they refused to turn the water on so we could inspect it. It had a leak. After a few weeks of waiting we pulled our offer and went else where.
Next we found a great house, on SEVERAL acres. The house sat on top of a hill and you could walk down to the year round creek. This was bound to be a favorite of our Lab, Jack (who’s picture is my profile). We even got another dog for Jack to play with on all these acres. First issue came on inspection day, there was an issue with the well and we had to reschedule. Later we found out that the owner had tripped the well because he was actually trying to hide something by emptying the reservoir. He got it fixed and we got it inspected, then appraised and our mortgage lady said “You’ll be in by Thanksgiving!” We were thrilled, we made plans to have Thanksgiving dinner in our new home. Time passed, and USDA and the bank got slow because of the holidays. Thanksgiving passed, then Christmas… No house. Finally we were a week from closing! It was after New Year and we had all our things packed up and ready to move. Then, the seller pulled out. He was tired of waiting and decided he was going to move back into the home rather than sell it. We were devastated! Uh… God? Are you there? What’s up with this?
So we stay in our rental through the winter, and didn’t get a very good garden in because we thought we would be in our house by that time. We kept looking. We changed Realtors. We moved out of our rental into a holly orchard. We made a deal with the owners to pay $200 a month for rent, so we could save up money and they would get some. They made themselves out to be good Christians and so we moved from our little rental in July to this trailer.
The trailer was, uh… how do I say this nicely? It was a dump. Probably not fit for human living. I don’t know how much rat and mouse poop I cleaned up so we could move in. The fridge was FULL of mold so we swapped it out for another. The holly farm was a treasure trove of stuff. Have you seen those junk shows that go to random peoples houses and pull out treasures? Well this place fits that bill. You could have the best scavenger hunt here, I saw a locker, a drum, couches, fridges, lots of broken glass, old tables, chairs, pots… And this was all out the front door of the trailer. Honestly I don’t know how I moved into this place. I’ve never lived in such a dump before, it was horribly humbling.
What we didn’t know was how long God was going to keep us here before we got into our own place. There were spiders in the shower, slugs that ran across the floors and walls, and ants… Oh the ants were terrible! Several places in the floor it was falling through, rotted out. The shower in the bathroom was so small you couldn’t turn around without hitting a wall and really you didn’t want to touch the wall. Although I scrubbed that sucker with Norwex, it still was not something you wanted to spend a lot of time in. The carpet, was pretty horrible. I did vacuum and used the carpet cleaner on them, but you didn’t want to walk barefoot on the carpet. All the windows were the crank type, and most had bad cracks in them. But see it was summer… this was all ok at the time. Then time started to get longer and longer, and it started to get colder. There was no heat, and if there IS a heater there is no way anyone would want to turn it on, what could come out of that could fumigate and kill I’m sure. So we resorted to turning on the oven and leaving the door open. One evening a few weeks ago, I was sitting on a cooler in front of the oven trying to get warm. Sure you could take a shower to get warm but the trailer was so damp that you towel never dried, and going to bed with a wet head wasn’t ok. Our dogs became our best heaters, sleeping with us at night. It got so cold I finally went through boxes to find a sleeping bag to add to the bed to help keep us warm. I tell you, getting up in the morning was horrible. I mean getting up is hard enough when you have to run down the hall and turn the heater on, but not having that heater… that is worse.
In this time a beautiful house came on the market. It was in the city (although it’s a rural city) and we did think we would be out further, with lots of land. It was nice, and remodeled, the photos online the day it came on the market were amazing! I knew we’d like it so I called our Realtor and we went to go look at it after work. The problem, the tenant didn’t leave the right keys for us to get in. We could only see the property, which was a nice usable half acre, with a seasonal creek behind it. Hubby could certainly grow us all the food we would need. Hubby is a fantastic farmer, and has a passion for growing food. We couldn’t put an offer on a house we couldn’t see the inside of, even though I was 100% sure it was perfect for us. The next day we were going to go back and see it but guess what? They had an accepted offer already! Ugh…
A few weeks later our Realtor called. The accepted offer didn’t work, their financing fell through. We had another shot at it and they were giving US first chance. So we went down and saw it and just like I thought it was PERFECT. I mean we had some things we wanted in the beginning of this whole process, a place for the dogs and chickens, a good place to grow lots of food, and we wanted to be on a certain side of the railroad tracks. Not on the “other side of the tracks” because one was dangerous and one wasn’t, but because we felt sandwiched in between the tracks and the river. Anyway, the offer went in and was accepted. Then the inspection, which we had a GREAT inspector from the first house (who actually recommended our new Realtor) came and did it for us. He also agreed to be paid at closing, which helped us. Then the appraiser. Oh boy I could write a book on this woman. But… first she appraised it too low, then wouldn’t change anything or talk to anyone, so we had to get the price lowered and forfeit some fixes that the seller was going to do for us, including a few electrical boxes, but we figured we could do it when we moved in. So USDA requires that the land can’t be divided, the underwriter asked the appraiser if the land could be divided and she came back and said… get this… YES! WHAT!?! Apparently we got an appraiser who knew NOTHING about USDA rules. Great. So having a very proactive mortgage lady (LOVE HER!) she went to the city and talked to the city planner. We found out that the creek was an off shoot of a larger creek that has environmental protection, which means you can’t build with in 500 feet of it. So we had a way around this appraiser, for $10 (the best $10 ever spent) we got the city planner to write a letter and it was sent back. We missed our 10/1 deadline to not have mortgage insurance, just a bump now that I look back but it was a BIG deal to me at the time, because had this appraiser known what she was doing, it wouldn’t have happened. So then it went back to USDA who approved it again, then to the underwriter. At which point I was totally convinced that the underwriter hated our last name and did everything they could to hold us up. But that was just in my own mind. LOL!
During ALL of this, our “nice” landlords truly showed their colors. They threatened to call the sheriff to throw us out. Although we never missed a rent payment. It was holly season and they wanted us out so they could move workers in, so throw us out on the street for that? They “picked” how much we owed them for power, never once did they show us a bill and said “you used this much power,” it was always “you owe $150.” I know from living in our previous house, we didn’t use anywhere near that much power but we didn’t make it a big deal. The man would come over and harass my husband, basically compared him to a tweeker, he would come over and bang on the trailer in the morning… all no-no’s in the tenant landlord laws, but he didn’t care. So to compound the stress of the appraiser, the underwriter and now them? There were many tearful nights and drives to work.
I remember many tear filled drives to work, praying and asking God what was going on. Begging him for this house and to get us out of this mold infested, mean landlord-trailer. I didn’t understand. There was a song on Christian radio by Josh Wilson called Fall Apart. A few of the lyrics “Why in the world did I think I could, only get to know you when my life was good?” It was like my theme song there for a while. How could I tell people how great God is with everything falling apart though?
Next blow was the underwriter asked for our inspection report. Then they required that a LICENSED contractor/electrician/roofer come and fix things on this house that wasn’t even ours yet! My hubby is the best in crunch time, I seem to fall apart but he gets energized. Thank God for him. He, in one day, got everything that needed to be done, done. He got three guys to all show up in a matter of hours and the work was complete. Our inspector happened to be driving by (he lives around the corner) and stopped by and offered to re-inspect the work that was done and the next day everything was sent back to the underwriter.
Praise God, that very week we signed on our house. And the following Monday night got our keys! God also provided a U-haul (thanks to my Mom and Step-Dad) and some hands to help (thanks to our Pastor’s children) and some food to eat (thanks to our Pastors wife) and she even left us her hot plate until the gas was turned on the next day.
Looking back at this year, first off when our mortgage lady said she would have us in by Thanksgiving, we didn’t know she meant 2011. But we are going to cook a big turkey and have a beautiful feast because we have SO much to be thankful for! Everything in our new house is amazing. We never would have been so grateful for what we have, if we didn’t go through everything we did this past year. Every inch of floor that isn’t rotten, 2.5 beautiful bathrooms that out towels actually dry in, HEAT, it is all the biggest blessing. Everyday I thank God for what he has blessed us with. And this past year helped me really get to know God more, and realize that when bad stuff happens it doesn’t mean that it’s forever. Sometimes God uses these times to humble us, to grow us spiritually, and to learn to trust in him. I always wanted to trust in Corri. I knew what was best, I could do it all or as I used to say when I was 2 years old “I’ll do it myself!” It isn’t about doing it ourselves, but trusting in the God that made heaven and earth, and knowing that he does have beautiful things planned for us, if we just trust, believe and humble ourselves.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Thank you Lord, what a beautiful expected end it is.