Thursday, August 14, 2008

The One

My dream home

I still don't quite believe it, but by all accounts, in just over 24 hours, we will be the proud new owners of 3% of this home. After our last experience, which I have not chronicled in hopes that I can someday forget about it, the ease of this transaction is almost surreal.

My love affair with this house began back in February. We had just received a contingent offer on our home, and were beginning to try to get a feel for the local real estate market. There was a brand new subdivision opening up 5 minutes away from our current country retreat, and we drove in one rainy Sunday afternoon to have a look at the dozen or so partially completed homes that would be builder models for the upcoming development.

As we picked our way through studs, nails and rolls of insulation, we evaluated features of the different floor plans. One builder's homes in particular drew our attention as we noted features such as interior arches, built in alcoves, and individual hot and cold water shutoff valves originating in a single location.

Living/Dining Room

In that row of four homes, we ended up in a two story skeleton with a floor plan we recognized as perfect for our lifestlye. From that day onward, every home we saw was quietly compared to "the one" that we knew was out of reach but was very similar to what we hoped to end up with in the end.

We drive by this new neighborhood every time we go into town, so over the next few months, we went in a few more times to check out new models. And each time, we stopped in front of "the one" to check its progress and dream for a moment.


Fast forward to July, once that contingent offer FINALLY went through, we began searching a little more earnestly. Over the course of ten days we looked at older homes, then realized we could build a new home for the same cost as an older home plus the investment of updating the house. So we began looking at neighborhoods and interviewing builders, with the intent of ordering a home to our specs to be finished by the end of the year.

View from Living Room toward Entry

As part of the interview process, I decided to call the builder of "the one" to see if they could maybe build us a home similar to "the one," on the same cul-de-sac, in our price range. Well it turns out I (or maybe the Lord) picked a great day for that meeting, because by the end of our hour together, the builder's wife all but told me that they would be willing to consider a bold offer on this home in order to move it out of their inventory.

You can believe I went straight home and started figuring out the best offer we could make, and whether we could make it at this point in time, instead of six months from now. I figured all afternoon, and then with Justin's encouragement called her to say:
"I know what that house is worth. I have worked out my best offer and I know it is not even close to your price. But it sounded like you are interested to move that house, and if there is any chance you might sell it to me for this price, I can promise you I would love it with all my heart."
I really think the Lord orchestrated our meeting together, as well as my words in that phone call, and her response. She told me she needed to confer with her husband, then five minutes later called back to say that she would accept my offer with two conditions: close within 30 days, and fill the house up with lots of babies!

So here we are, 30 days later, about to sign for our dream home, and I still can't quite figure out how it exactly happened. But in these last 30 days we have felt carried along by our interactions with the builders, insurance agents, bank officers, and a miracle of discovering that we could EXACTLY afford to make a down payment on this home by tomorrow.

Backyard View of House

The Lord is good all the time. Through hard times, through dry times, through those times that make you start to wonder if the reason you haven't been hearing much from him is because you are terribly off track. But he is also good through the good times. I don't feel we deserved a special house in return for the year we spent waiting for our vacant home to sell. But, God is so gracious, and I do feel that he is working out this deal because he wanted to give us a good thing.

And what a good thing I believe it will be. What an amazing story to be able to tell, and what a fun place to be able to use to bless all who enter it as our guests. Thank you Lord!

Monday, August 11, 2008


Crotalus Molossus

We had a bit of excitement around here last evening. After dinner Justin and Jim went to the garage to practice with Tim and James for an upcoming gig. Dawn and I sat down to watch some Olympic action while the kids played outside for a bit before bed.

At bedtime, I took the kids out to the garage to say goodnight to Justin, since he was leaving early this morning for a business trip. As we turned to go back into the house, the dog alerted to something in a corner a few feet away from us and the back door. We peered into the darkening shadows to see a good sized snake curled in a defensive position.

We occasionally see snakes around the house and pool, but despite their size they are always harmless. However, we always make a habit of calling any and all people in the house to witness the creature, and together assess it and discuss its markings and how we would know if it were a dangerous snake. So of course I turned back into the garage and announced our visitor, while simultaneously pulling the children to a safe distance as we waited for the verdict.

No sooner did we all have a chance to see the snake--he was a beautiful tan color with black markings and a black tail--then we all heard a sound I have never heard in person but recognized instantly: the warning rattle of a rattlesnake.

Of course immediately our collective adrenaline level went through the roof as the garage band transformed into danger exterminators. Jim went for the shovel, and James pulled out a flashlight. Then Dawn arrived in time to hold the dog while Justin attempted to kill the snake in the flowerbed with the shovel, with Tim aiming the light and calling encouragement from behind. Unfortunately the aged garden tool was not the sharpest tool in the shed, so the whole killing business was pretty messy. Fortunately, James was prepared with his handy dandy pocketknife, and was able to use it to cut off the head of the stunned creature while Justin held it down with a long pole Jim had produced out of nowhere.

It was a shame to have to kill such a beautiful creature, but it was entirely too close to the house for comfort. It measured almost three feet long, and bigger around than a garden hose. We did save the head and rattle as souvenirs. I know, we are a bit odd, but we do enjoy all God's creatures, not just the safe furry ones. Justin researched this morning and found this particular snake is the Northern Black-Tailed Rattlesnake.

We thought later of how the children had been in and out of the house all evening, probably close to wherever the snake had been lurking. We could certainly live in fear of such encounters here in the country. But I also think of all the scorpions we have almost stepped on, just in this year. And of all the black widow spiders we have never stumbled across, despite the fact that they really enjoy the red barn fifty feet away from the swimming pool. And I think that we have here yet another example of divine protection. Thank you, Jesus, for protecting the children, the guys, and even the dog from what could have been a pretty dangerous situation.

Wow, what a shot of adrenaline!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

In Edouard's Path

Radar Shot with Bryan/College Station in the Center

We are finally having a rainy day here in College Station, thanks to today's hurricane that blew ashore in Galveston and made a beeline right for us. You can see from this image posted on the local newspaper site just a few minutes ago that we are right in the middle of the storm at the moment. We have been told to expect 3-4" of rain, and 40 mph winds. So far we have had rain for a solid 90 minutes, but no wind.

This morning, in anticipation of our first official hurricane weather of the season, the kids and I walked around the property and secured all the trikes, bikes, sand pails and swim floaties. The rain started gently about 3pm, and the kids were inspired to don raincoats to go play on the playset.

Half an hour later, they tumbled back inside for hot cocoa and popcorn. After all, you have to use any excuse you can for hot drinks around here. Now we are just enjoying the different pace a rainy day can bring.

Justin's had to take his driving test to get licensed in Texas, and you might know he ended up scheduling it for the middle of this afternoon, during the heaviest part of the rainstorm. I have yet to hear how it turned out, hopefully not so much of an adventure that he has to go back and try again!

That's about all going on here this afternoon. Jesse refused his nap again, now I am hoping for an early bedtime. For him mostly, although I wouldn't mind for myself either.

At 100 miles from the Gulf, I think we are just too far inland to get a very hurricane experience. I don't mind, but it is really good to get some soaking rain for our parched plants and grass.