Monday, June 13, 2011

Buying a House, part 2

"In life, all good things come hard, but wisdom is the hardest to come by." - Lucile Ball

We learned that lesson during the process of trying to buy a house.  I never, ever want to have to go through this again!  But in the end, we did learn some good lessons:

1. If possible, don't buy a house from a bank.
Banks are not people.  They are banks.  They don't care if you have to move out of your apartment and be homeless for anywhere from 1-3 weeks before they let you move into your house.  They don't care that the sod they put down and promised to water because they wouldn't fix the sprinkler system (and then didn't water) is crunchy and brown.  They don't care that you don't have anywhere to put your moving truck (because you are technically homeless), so when you put it in your new driveway after closing, they chew out your realtor because they haven't received the last $900 check from the title company, and they make you move your truck again until the check clears.  They don't care that, when you move the truck out of the driveway, all of your bookshelves break into pieces because you moved some of the things supporting them out of the truck already, since you thought it was YOUR house and YOUR driveway.

Yeah, I needed to get that out.  For a much better experience with buying a house, I would highly suggest going the normal route with a homeowner selling their own house.  There is so much more room for reason and understanding, and for getting things fixed before you move in - like the sprinklers, and the dishwasher, and the fridge, and the A/C, and the washing machine, and . . .

2. God will still find ways to take care of us, even when others' choices affect us negatively.
So, that was my complaining rant.  But the truth is, even with all the craziness the bank put us through, God still took care of us.  Many of our friends and several young men from church came and helped us pack up our moving truck in 45 minutes.  Jon's brother, Ryan, and my mother-in-law, Lucile, came over and helped us clean.  Our bishop said we could keep our moving truck in the church parking lot, and since he's a cop, he had the local police patrol periodically to make sure our stuff was still there.

Our wonderful friends, the Nietos, allowed us to stay with them for a week.  We had a super-comfortable bed to sleep in, amazing food to eat, their 5-year-old daughter to entertain us, and scripture study with their family in the evenings.   There was no better way to be homeless. :)

We had friends invite us over for dinner, help us unpack the truck (in only 30 minutes!), and share mangoes from our very own mango tree.  All in all, for the trial that we had to go through, God inspired many people to help us and support us in what could have been a really awful time.  It brings to mind a quote from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:
"When we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day. Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods . . . Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind."
3. Slow-burning coals burn longer.
Moving is a stressful situation, no matter what the circumstances are.  For me, when I combine the stress of moving and the dust of moving with my allergies, I get problems.  Add to that being around several people who were sick, and BAM, you've got Kristen writing this post from the couch she hasn't left in 3 days except to go to the doctor.

Well, that's not entirely true.  I left the couch on Saturday when I got impatient from being on the couch for a full 24 hours.  I spent half of the day Saturday unpacking, priming the mailbox post, buying a drill, changing the locks, and generally wearing myself out.  By 6pm I was back on the couch with a fever and feeling worse than ever.

With all the time I had on my hands on Sunday, since I could barely get myself off the couch for water refills, I spent time pondering on something that my very first bishop, Wayne Brockbank, told me a few months after I got baptized.  I was so excited about church, and I wanted to do everything all at once.  I was taking 16 credits in college, working 2 jobs, serving in a calling, and taking extra religion classes at church - four, to be precise.  He sat me in his office one Sunday and said, "Kristen, slow burning coals."  I had no idea what he was talking about.  He then explained to me that coals burn longer when they burn slowly.  In other words, he was telling me that if I kept up my overzealous pace, I would get burned out and wouldn't be able to do any of it.  He finally talked me into only taking one religion class, and I had a semester that was much less stressed out than it could have been.

Fast forward to this week, when, in my enthusiasm to unpack boxes and put together my house, I pushed through sickness, overdid it, and ended up burned out and sicker than I needed to be.  I guess I have to learn this "slow-burning coals" lesson over and over.

Well, for all of that, we still got our house.  We love it, and even though there is much work to do, we feel good about making this our own space and raising a family here.

So without further ado...

                    The exterior, freshly painted

                                     Right after closing

The kitchen

 The mango tree and backyard

The garage

Living room/kitchen view

Living room/dining room/stairs

Master bath shower - needs some work :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Buying a house

My great-great grandfather, William Sherman Booker, knew that it was important to own your own land.  He was born just before the end of slavery in February of 1865, and spent his formative years working alongside his father, Daniel, sharecropping to help support the family.  When he started a family of his own in 1887, he was also a sharecropper, renting land and equipment from others to farm a small plot, and slowly going into debt.  But somehow he turned his financial situation around, and by 1915 he had saved up $350 to buy 21 acres of land (that would go for about $80,000 today), thus securing a place to live for his family that no one could take away from them.  I thought of him when Jon and I felt like it was the right time for us to buy a house.

As much as I love modern technology and comforts, I wish there were some things that were still as simple as they were back when my grandparents got married.  After Charles Demps and Nellie Booker had been married married for 2 years, in 1935 he wanted to provide a place for them to live.  So he saved up some money, bought a plot of land for $30, had it recorded in the deed books, and proceeded to build a house on it.
Now, I understand that there are safety protections in place nowadays that weren't there before, but seriously, I think we have printed out an entire ream of paperwork for the house we are buying.  We feel like we are signing our lives away!!!  There are contracts and addendums to contracts, disclosures, buyer information forms, acknowledgements, applications, and agreements.  They come from the realtor, title company, mortgage broker, home loan company, homeowner's association, and homeowner's insurance agent.  It is crazy!

But in the end, we should have a house, a place to raise our children.  Even though our house will have been made by builders 20 years ago and not by our own bare hands, we can still build our family on the same principles that our predecessors lived by not so long ago - faith, love, hard work, service, and self-reliance.  And even though we have to jump through hoops and kill a tree for all the paper to do so, we feel like by owning our own small plot of land, we are following in the footsteps of those who made it possible to be where we are today.