Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's a House

When we started this home-buying adventure, we looked at a lot of funky houses, because they were in our price range. Most of them had memorable features, like a circular staircase (no, I can't go down that 3 or 4 times a night to get to the only bathroom!), or a steep driveway (it's icy here more months than not), or no driveway (just park down at Safeway and walk up the hill!?). One had a trap door in the deck. One had the only bathroom in between the bedrooms, no access from the living area. Some were in scary areas where the police would become your new best friend. One was next to an adult shop. One had extension cords coming out of windows and trailing to all the outbuildings. One had a circular couch sunk into the living room, perfect for drug parties, along with some interesting sky-lighted, growing rooms. Some had huge yards (we would need a goat) and some had no yard (hey, I can see from our bathroom window right into their kitchen).

And then we found "our" house. It had a picket fence with lilacs growing on it, a low-maintenance oasis in the back yard, and fun features in the house, like a rock fireplace. It was homey and had a view over the city and the mountain range. The neighborhood was quiet. But the bank turned it down because it needed too much fixing up of functional things like the roof and walls and floor. They just couldn't see the charm it oozed.

And they told me what kind of house they would finance. I knew immediately what houses those were; we had looked at them a few months earlier. They are new, and the builder was trying to short-sale them. But he wouldn't take less than $115k for them, and that was just out of our price range. Mostly, they are just squares, but one of them had a little charm - a kitchen window overlooking barns and fields, and a triangular back yard.

Garry looked around town for something else, but finally came back to those houses. The triangular one had been sold already. The builder had lost them to the bank, and they were in foreclosure. There were four squares left, and the cheapest one was at the top of our price range, $105k.

I pretty much shrugged and told him to do what he thought was best. I didn't even go look at it. He brought me papers on my lunch hour and I signed them in the car, putting an offer on the house. I knew - we're going to get this one. What I felt was resignation.

Throughout this process (and yes, we are buying that house), I have seen God work, and I have delighted in seeing His hand in this. I know it's where He wants us. There hasn't been a single glitch. It's been "ask and you will receive" at every corner. The realtor fixed two holes in the wall and found a free door handle to replace a broken one. When the stock market took a big dip, we locked in a low rate (4.375%). Even our insurance is cheaper than anyone thought possible, because we have been with Safeco for a long time and they gave us a great rate. This is the house God wants us in.

My head knows it well, and I am grateful. But at the same time, I am sad. There is no charm. It's just a bigger apartment. The vinyl siding will never need to be painted. The kitchen is laid out in a straight line, literally. Left to right, refrigerator, dishwasher, sink, stove. I am sure that a creative person would see it as a blank slate, ready for splashes of color and interesting features. Maybe one of them will help me.

The yard is a nice size, but absolutely barren, nothing but weeds and dirt. The kitchen window looks out at the sideyard and fence. Maybe I can get an ocean mural painted on the fence.

I'm sorry to complain. This house is exactly what we need. It's exactly a mile from Garry's school. It doesn't need repairs, except for the yard. It has three bedrooms and two bathrooms and a two-car garage.

I pray that some day it will have some charm, and feel like home.

Thursday, August 04, 2011


Have you ever studied, or at least been told, the stages of grief?

1. Denial - shock, numbness

2. Anger - coupled with pain, and directed everywhere

3. Bargaining - What if, If only, sometimes with tinges of guilt

4. Depression - Emptiness, sorrow, the loss settling into your soul

5. Acceptance - this is the new normal

Sometimes I go through the stages in a hurry, like when we lost house #1, with it's oasis back yard. It was less than 24 hours, but I went through it all.

"No way! God wants us to have this house!"

"I can't believe God let us spend $425 on a house He had no intention of giving us!"

"It can still work out. We just have to have more faith, be willing to invest more, and then we'll get the house."

"It's over. I'm sad. I don't want another house. I'll just rent. Forever."

"Wow. It's really over. Someone else will sit in my oasis."

But when my baby girl told me she was pregnant, the grief stages were much, much longer. Days. Weeks. People are telling me now they are "impressed" with how I am handling this, but you have to know, she was only 5 weeks pregnant when she told me. She was 20 weeks when we told anyone. I had 15 weeks of the grief process, and I didn't talk about it much.

I denied it. Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe she just has the flu.

I got angry. At my daughter for having sex. At the young man who fathered this child. At myself for only teaching her abstinance and nothing about birth control. At Dr. Ezzo and the church for teaching us "how to tell your children about sex" without ever telling them about sex. At God for not preventing the pregnancy.

I bargained. I begged God to fix the situation. Not to cause a miscarriage, but to save the baby daddy so they could get married.

And then I cried. And cried. And cried. Work was difficult that week, because anyone asking, "How are you?" and wanting anything more than, "Fine," made me cry. I ate. I didn't eat. I exercised. I stopped exercising. Nothing made the pain deep inside me go away. Disappointment, fear, doubt, and sadness ruled me.

And then one day, the cloud lifted. I watched the ultrasound, and that was a real baby in there. He waved and opened his mouth and kicked his little legs. And suddenly, it's a baby. There is a little guy in there who needs a family and love and education. He needs hugs and playing and walks in the park. He needs a grandma. He needs me.

I forgave my daughter, the baby daddy, myself. I realized that God was in all of it, and He made this little life. This little guy has a hope, a future. And for a little while, I get to be a part of raising him. He won't be raised perfectly, any more than I was, any more than my kids were. But God will be in it all.

We're having a baby!