Monday, August 8, 2011

Come On In!!!

Welcome to our new home...

Built in 1968, this lovely traditional style colonial features 4 bedrooms, 2 & 1/2 baths, hardwood floors throughout, eat-in kitchen, formal dining room, living room, fireplaced family room, sun room, and partially finished basement on a lovely landscaped lot in suburbia. Vintage charm abounds in the original kitchen and bathroom decor (ha!).

Ha, ha...Mike thinks I should become a realtor! Certainly, over the past year & a half I've learned a lot of the "lingo" that goes along with a home search!

Our journey to find a larger home began very differently than how we are finishing. The one thing that stands clear beyond any shadow of a doubt is that we have seen God in all the details! And my heart has been changed for the better...

For the longest time, I've been dreaming of outdoor space, privacy, land to romp and roam, a mini-farm along with more indoor living space... An opportunity presented itself in the spring of 2010. My heart was sold in the first second of consideration. After much contemplation and prayer, we decided it wasn't the right move to make. Reluctantly, I tried to move on.

A few months later, that same opportunity was presented again but with even better conditions. Are you kidding me???...SOLD! And yet again, Mike had hesitation in his heart which causes me to hesitate. I firmly believe in following Mike's lead, though it is hard to surrender what I think might be a good decision or to surrender my "dream." I believe that is my God-given role as a wife...respectfully present my case for him to consider, have a conversation about it, and wait for his decision. That is so hard to do sometimes. Okay, a lot of times. I don't always agree and I find it difficult to let it rest and not brood in my heart. And yet, this is what I had to do.

Mike and I were in agreement over lots of details about a new home - the major disagreement is that I wanted an old farmhouse with all it's...ahem...charm and quirkiness (Mike sees that as "headaches") while Mike prefers a newer home that is more reliable in structure and function (I see that as "boring").

The entire summer of 2010 was devoted to visiting house after house after house. We saw everything with at least one acre of land within our desired budget and location. Failure. We're the kind of people, Mike more so than I, that don't think every penny available should be sunk into a house whether it's old or new. I'm thankful that God uses Mike to balance me out in this area. Even though we could afford higher list prices on homes we just couldn't justify spending that much on a home to get my farmhouse.

We're so very blessed that Mike has a steady job that pays him well as a software engineer. There are some restrictions with his job that make it impossible to work from home. And so, our home search was very limited in location as well. We felt it was more important for him to spend minutes and hours with us each week rather than being on the road commuting. And so, at the end of the summer we stopped all searching. We were burnt out. And bummed out.

It's easy to look at someone else and feel jealous over what they have. I succumb to that all the time. I start to feel sorry for myself...How did they find that perfect house? How can they afford that property? What about my American dream? Blah, blah, blah...

Skip forward to December 2010, we found a house in Ogden with an acre that seemed just perfect. After months of not searching, it seemed that this one fell into our laps. We placed an offer and it was accepted. We quickly got our house on the market and for the next month we kept working on little projects in our current house. We kept waiting for just. one. person. to call and say they wanted to see our home. No one called. Major discouragement.

Then, one night the Lord triggered a thought in my mind and I couldn't sleep. Truly, it was the Lord!!! There was an issue with the 9 acres potentially being sold behind the house we were trying to purchase. An issue that we weren't willing to accommodate and live with. Talk about major switch in prayers..."Lord, please don't let anyone call!!! We don't want to show our house!!!" We were weeks away from our contract expiring and didn't want to run into trouble for backing out of our offer.

We took our house off the market and believed that God had saved us from a bad decision. I must say, at this point, we had peace in our hearts over every decision we had made up to that point. We still firmly believe that this was a necessary part of our journey.

Here comes spring 2011 and we start looking at houses again. A few new things had come on the market and we were pumped. We basically had the same criteria as before. And...well, you guessed it, we couldn't find anything that fit our needs and wants within our desired price range. The only option was take on a hefty mortgage for a nicer house and pray that we'd never run into trouble or hard times. Not something we were willing to do.

I don't remember what exactly caused me such angst one day, but there I was having a terrible day, crying my eyes out, and feeling like there just wasn't going to be a suitable solution. I called Mike and told him that I was ready to look into building an addition on our current home...the only thing that seemed to make sense. It is something we had considered several times in the past. Funny how God works, Mike had the same idea nearly at the same time.

And so, we began exploring that addition. We had a local guy draw up architectural drawings (at a hefty price...). We felt such relief at finally having a good plan! In May 2011, we sought out builders and requested quotes for the job. The estimates started coming back in to us. Sticker shock!!! Building a two level addition (one bedroom, one family room with an unfinished basement) was going to cost us as much if not more than it cost us to buy our house in the first place. Deflated. Dejected. Despairing. We weren't even going to have an extra bathroom in the deal. Oh my!

Back to the drawing board... Could we make it work in our current home? What creative organization and storage ideas were out there to help us? Did we really need more square footage? Could our three boys continue to share an 11"x 9" room for another few years? Could we finish some space in our walk out basement? Why do we think we need bigger and better or are we just being sucked into the idealistic "American dream?"

All those questions made me think a lot about what is really truly important. A few things became very clear...I wanted (1) Mike being home with us as much as possible, (2) Mike not being stressed about finances because we've taken on a large mortgage, and (3) Mike not needing to work on home improvement projects for the rest of his life for the sake of my farmhouse with charm and quirkiness.

All throughout this journey, Mike has been suggesting that we look at homes in the 'burbs while I scoff at the idea. We already live in the suburbs, in a neighborhood with little privacy. There was no way I was going to go further in with less outdoor space than our 1/2 acre here. Until, that is, the Lord started speaking to my heart about following Mike's lead. I've been the one pushing this home search in the acreage/farmhouse direction. Mike has been very gracious in exploring all those properties and trying to find a way to make it work.

What would happen if I agreed just once to go look at homes in the suburbs? At this point, I was up for anything. On Sunday, June 5th, every single one of our family members (that's six of us)were squished into our bathroom brushing teeth, finishing baths, combing hair, etc. before church. I started laughing and was thinking that even if we had built the addition, this situation would not have changed. And it would have only gotten worse as the children begin to actually care about their hygiene. After church, our family headed out to several open houses in Mike's ideal location. We both had a favorite house...on paper. The first house we visited.

Mike fell in love with it at the front door. I liked it. I wanted to like it because I saw how much he liked it. But I really wanted to like it for me, too. We oohed and ahhed our way through the house and began to see the possibilities. The outdoor space was a slightly neglected Better Homes & Gardens patio with secret covered steps and privacy perfect for the boys playing in the "woods" and for hosting tea parties and gatherings. The indoor space was perfect...slightly vintage and outdated, but mostly well maintained. Hardwood floors. Four true bedrooms...three of them large. No electric nemesis at our current house. And so on...

We went to several other open houses that day and headed home.

Mike said, "We need to place an offer on that green house."

Me, "Really...are you sure?! What about _____ and ____? Did it have ______?"

"Let's turn around and go see it again."


We each went in separately this time while the other waited outside with the kiddos. Second time through, I liked it more than the first time. Mike was already writing the offer in his head and didn't really need the second time through though I think he did it to humor me.

We called our realtor (who probably thought..."Good gracious! It's the Farwells again...I'm so sick of them and their indecision...") and she answered the phone.

"I think we've found a house!!! We want to go through with you again as soon as possible. Can we do it tomorrow?"

We placed our offer the next day and it was accepted after a little negotiation. We took a step of faith in placing a non-contingent offer (because of the situation, the buyer was only accepting non-contingent offers). Mike felt confident in that decision and I was the one holding back...but I trusted him and followed his lead. Mike is typically not a risk taker and is extremely conservative with money issues. I was shocked that he was willing to make this step. Could it be that this was a lesson in faith for him, too?

The following weekend - one of the busiest weekends of our summer so far - we got our house ready to go on the market again. It was amazing how quickly we got things ready to go. (Hmmm...remember how hard we worked on our house back in December to get every single project completed, organized, and tidied up?! Do you think that was part of God's plan that had yet to be revealed???)

Our realtor took pictures on Monday night, the listing was up on Tuesday, the pictures came up on Wednesday to go with the listing, we had a buyer wanting to see it Thursday at 5pm, and we had an offer on Thursday at 7pm. Her offer was non-contingent and full asking price...exactly what we had prayed for. Are you kidding me, God???!!! WOW!!!

Here is my new kitchen sink window that looks over the backyard patio and "woods." If I have to live further into the suburbs on a 1/3 acre lot, it is a lovely, gorgeous lot to live on. You can't even see the neighbor's garage just past the foliage!

We have seen God's hand orchestrating all the details in this process now understanding some of the disappointment and lack of answers about the journey. I absolutely believe that God has honored my decision to follow my husband's lead in this purchase in giving me the "woods." I keep a journal, a very sporadic thing I do, but one entry stands out to me. I had written a list of needs and wants for our new home at least two years ago. Do you know that God has answered EVERY. SINGLE. REQUEST. from that entry in this house we are purchasing?! No other house we considered met every single request. How cool is that?! I didn't even realize it until a few weeks after we'd placed our offer.

I am so excited to see how God will work in our family within this house, in our neighborhood, and as we welcome others in friendship and fellowship. I am still waiting to see all that God has to teach me through this process. God is good! He has blessed us and all the honor and glory goes to Him for every good thing!!!

I can't wait to show you pictures of our home with our stuff in it...moving day is in twelve days!!!


Laurie said...

Wow, Kiley! I knew the basics of your journey that began last year from our conversations, but I still got goosebumps reading all of this! I had no idea that you guys had put a non-contingent offer on your new house!! I see God's handiwork all over this journey and I couldn't be happier for you guys!

Olivia said...

It looks amazing! So excited with you and for you!

Tiffany said...

You are a great story teller! I lopved reading how God blessed you. Thanks for sharing!

abigail said...

Wow! It's perfect!

Isn't it amazing to look back and see God's provision so clearly? My husband's and my route to our home was no less clearly providential, though He just threw it in our laps without us having to search. We planned to build a tiny home, but for twice the amount it would cost to build, we were "given" a large home and nearly twenty acres. $40,000 for a tiny home just didn't seem as appealing when He provided much more than we would have ever imagined looking for. :)

How exciting it must be to anticipate raising your children in this home space! It is beautiful, and I look forward to seeing how you shape your future in it.

Wendy said...

loved reading this!! so awesome!
we have a similar story with how we found our house. :)

The Homespun Loft said...

Hello, just browsing and found your lovely site. You have a beautiful house and I hope your family will have many happy years there. Nice to meet you, Charlotte