Sunday, May 19, 2013

How Emily Got Her Groove Back

On our front porch. It's going to be hard to leave.

Last week we signed a year lease for our new apartment home. It's been quite the roller coaster getting here and I want to get it down before I forget it all.

As most of you know, our landlady surprised us with a "hi, you're great but you need to move out in two months so I can move back in" letter not too long ago. The moment the mailman put the certified letter in my hand, I knew there was something horrible inside. To say we didn't see it coming is an understatement. It's also a statement on how naive we were, considering we knew all along that this was a month-to-month lease. But she had just okay'd us to put in a garden AND a sandbox. So we were completely, though foolishly, blindsided. Two months to find a new place?? What on earth do we do?? For months now I'd been looking into buying our first home, but by looking into I mean, dinking around on Zillow and trying to come up with my own calculations on how much of a mortgage payment we could afford. I'd even written it on my to-do list to contact our neighbor who works in real estate to talk about maybe starting to think about starting to get ready, maybe.

But with the prospect of being kicked to the curb in sixty days, I suddenly found all the motivation I needed to get my rear in gear. And thus started the Buy A House whirlwind, which turned out to be more of a tornado. I contacted our neighbor, Fara; she put me in touch with a mortgage broker, Jim; I started gathering all the financial information I could; and I spent every spare minute searching the NewJersey multi-list service for homes and Craig's List for temporary rentals. I knew we'd never be able to close a home in less than sixty days, so I figured we'd better find something to last us a few weeks or months until we could move into our new home.

All this time, Adam and I talked about renting versus buying. But deep down in my heart, I think I'd already decided that I was going to buy a house, with or without his help. But I kept looking for rentals, just in case. As the days went by (and they felt like weeks), I got more and more stressed out. I was crying all the time—I really, really love the house we're in and had hoped we could buy it. I was up and down with thinking, "There's no way we can afford this!" to "There's got to be a way to afford this!" And under it all was this terrible despair that the future as I'd planned it was ruined and life would never  be happy again. People kept saying, "When a door closes, God opens a window." I wanted to punch those people in the face.

I started to go see homes and then we finally saw one in our town we could afford (It was a fixer-upper, which, besides the homes in flood zones, were the only houses we could afford in our town.) The day we put an offer on the house was one of the most stressful days of my life. I was on the phone with my real estate agent, the mortgage broker, Adam, or my parents almost every minute of the day. But I still had Elizabeth and the triplets to take care of. I was a wreck. At one point, I was trying to feed them lunch, my phone was ringing off the hook, and I seriously lost it. I screamed to poor Adam, "I CAN'T DO THIS!" and then proceeded to go ahead and do it. But that's life, right?

But this is where God steps in. The night before we made the offer, when we were deciding if we really wanted to commit to buying this house, Adam and I knelt down to pray together. I think it's very significant that it wasn't until we were united in prayer that I finally got an answer to my almost constant pleading for help. The answer came very strongly, in two parts: First, we were supposed to make an offer on this house. Second, no matter what happened, everything was going to be okay.

I didn't have that feeling of peace with me for very long, but we went ahead and acted on it. That night, after my meltdown at lunch, I told Adam that I'd had enough of trying to buy a house, and that if we didn't get this one, I was ready to find a rental and sign a year lease. I'd been talking about it with my father, and I realized that a big reason that I'd wanted so badly to try and buy a house (in two months. I'm crazy.) was because of shame. Not only was I finding it difficult to find rentals that could fit six people, but I felt ashamed of it. People with four kids just don't rent. What is wrong with us? I've always envied people who own their own home, but discovering this hidden shame was eye opening to me, and very helpful.

So when we found out a day or two later that the owners had gotten a better offer, and cash at that, Adam and I prayed, together, again. This time, we prayed to see if the Lord wanted us to rent. We'd gone and seen a place that our friends in Fair Lawn had told us about. The place just two doors down from theirs was open and we'd gone to see it the previous week. It was big enough for our family, but it was the second and third floor of a two family home, and a row house at that, so it was less than ideal. (Just don't call it an apartment! It's NOT an apartment! Yes, I AM prideful!) When Adam and I prayed, again, I got a very clear answer, in two parts. First, we were to rent for one more year. Second, we should rent the home near our friends, because we are needed there. This time, I was crying with gratitude because I knew the Lord knows me so well. He knew that if I hadn't gone through the process of trying to buy a house, all the way to making an offer, and had just settled on renting straight off, that I would have spent the entire year wondering, "what if?" He knew I needed to try so when the "no" came, I would be ready for it. Heck, I wasn't just read—I was thrilled. We don't have to buy a house!? We don't have to move twice?? We don't have to go through this horribly stressful rigamarole right when I can least handle it?!? Hallelujah!!

The next day, Adam called the landlord of the rental we'd seen. He said he was about to list it, but was going to call us to see if we wanted it. <Cue angelic choir.> Everything fell into place, and we'll be moving June 1 into our new home. I hate moving. And I really, really, want to settle down in one community for the long term. But I know that will happen, if it's meant to happen. Just not right now. I can finally FINALLY say, "If it's meant to be, it will be." And mean it.


  1. I love this story. I love stories like this, and need a pretty much constant stream of them to keep faith in this process. Thank you for providing my installment for the day. And I'm so so glad this worked out beautifully. You deserve beautiful everything.

  2. We're currently going through the whole ordeal of figuring out where to live, and it is totally an emotional roller coaster for me! Especially when thinking about having to sell this house, too. We own our current house, but its only 2 bedrooms, so though it will last us for awhile longer, there is an end-date coming up sooner rather than later. We also want to be closer to work and most of our friends, which of course means that everything is more expensive. We've decided to rent for a year in the neighborhood we like before buying anything and making a permanent move, which will also give us a bit longer to save money while being in the neighborhood we actually want to be in. And it takes the pressure off of perfectly timing selling our house and finding another without having to pay two mortgages, which we certainly couldn't do. We've talked a lot about the perceptions of renting vs. buying and what people think you *should* do if you have a family and the money to own a house, blah blah blah, but when it comes down to it, sometimes it just makes more sense to rent for awhile, and there is no shame in that. Glad you guys found a place, and I hope you end up finding a wonderful home for the long-haul!

  3. I love your writing Emily! I love the feeling when you see that the Lord loves you so much and has guided you. :) So glad you've found a place near friends!

  4. Yay for your groove back. I am happy for you!

  5. Beautiful! So happy for you. It's a way overused phrase, I think because it is so common for Him to provide them, but what tender mercies that it worked out this way. Oh, and we have four kids and are renting. It's a fun club. Remember how if something major goes wrong you aren't responsible to fix it? Awesome. ;)

  6. "How Emily got her groove back." lol -perfect! And can I just say I love that picture? You guys are so cute! Loved this. It hit close to home for me. Thanks for sharing such a faith building story. Our lives never seem to be the way we envision them but that's probably a good thing. The Lord really does know us well.