Monday, February 15, 2010

The House

If you've known me for a while, you know about the house.

If you somehow managed to miss it, or haven't known me for that long, I'll give you a rundown.

In May 2004 Mark and I bought a fix-r-upper in Portsmouth VA.  We spent the next two and a half years getting the house the way we wanted it: new kitchen, refinish the originial hardwood floors, redo the bathroom, add a second bathroom, tear down wall paper and re plaster, new HVAC, new name it we did it.  We put it on the market in October 2006 until January 2007.  That's the worst time to have a house on the market and it just sat.  In December 2006 we moved back to Washington State with the Navy, so the house was just sitting empty. 

In February we were blessed beyond words when some of our good friends moved back to VA and rented the house for 18 months.  We were very concerned about the friendship staying solid, and I'm pleased to report that it did.  They treated our house so well, and while we were thrilled to see them move to Hawaii, we knew that finding new renters that were as good as they were would be impossible.  We also knew we wanted to sell the house, so we put the house on the market again, and at the same time we advertised the house as a rental. 

After several leads not working out (ie the people flaked out) we finally had a couple move in at the beginning of March, 2009.  They paid rent for the month of March and part of April, and then nothing.  We knew we'd have to evict them, and doing that long distance would be difficult, so we hired a property management company to take care of it for us.

In June the squatters were finally gone, and we put it for rent again (per the contract with the management company).  We had several people inquire about the house, and the managment company chose a military couple.  They signed a year long lease and moved in the first week of July.  We breathed a little easier at that point, we wouldn't have to worry about the house for a year and then when we did put it back on the market it would be summer, which is the best time to sell a house.  We felt like things were finally going our way after a long drought of difficulties.

When we went to cash our August rent check from our property management company, the check bounced.  We were concerned.  Concern turned to frustration when we called the company and the mailbox was full-we couldn't leave a message.  Frustration turned to rage and then defeat when we found out that our property management company's assets were frozen by the IRS and that they were being charged with embezzeling over $430,000 from one of their clients.  We were out a few months rent.  Not a lot compared to the $400k, but a lot for us.

Imagine our surprise when we found out that the military couple was leaving in December (this past one), and even worse, they had never planned on staying there the entire time...he only had 6 month orders, and they were just going to use the military clause to get out of the lease.  After a long battle that ended with us hiring an attorney, we reached a compromise with them over the deposit (I could do a whole series of posts on this, but I'll just say that even under Soldiers and Sailors, you have to sign a lease in good faith.  If you're only going to be there for six months and there is little to no possibility of staying there, you can't sign a year long lease and expect to be covered.  That's not signing in good faith).

At this point we decided that we'd put the house on the market and wait it out.  We don't want to be landlords anymore.  Even with renters in the house we are losing a significant amount of money every month and the hassle is just not worth it.   We've long since decided that we were not supposed to buy this house in the first place, that we made a mistake and went against God's will in purchasing it.

Toward the end of December I started feeling like we needed to be open to whatever God had in store for the house.  I talked to Mark about it, but didn't do anything.  I just waited.  A couple days after our talk I got an email from Believers Church about someone needing a house to live in.  I was interested, and emailed to get more information.  Nothing came of it, but we were told about a potential opportunity to bless someone with the house in January. 

Mark and I talked it over and felt peace about the situation and decide to go for it.  We took a step of faith, keeping the house on the market, but also letting it be used while we wait.

On paper and according to nearly every professional, we're making a huge mistake.  But the peace we feel in this situation is indescribeable.  I know that I know that I know that we are doing what we should be doing.  And I know that in the right time, the house will sell to the right people.  I have peace and rest well at night knowing this (every time prior to this time, when the house sat empty I literally would be up all night worrying about making ends meet).  And between now and then, we just patiently wait without stressing, because it's no longer our problem-we've handed it over to the Great Real Estate Agent [aka God-please don't think I'm being sacreligious, I'm not meaning to be].  

I was on the phone with one of my close friends this week and she asked me a question that really got me thinking, and ultimately got me to write this post.  She asked me if, contrary to what I earlier thought, maybe it was in God's plan to buy the house and the whole point of this exercise was to learn to rely on God fully to receive his peace.  Maybe we were supposed to learn to be a little less self reliant and a little more reliant on God.  Moreover, if we hadn't bought the house in Virginia, we probably would have bought a house in Kingston and would have been in an even worse situation!  Perhaps God really is taking care of us through this house, even if we can't see it or don't particularly want to be refined in this way.

This has absolutely revolutionized my thoughts about the whole situation.  I know that everything we have is God's and I'm just a means of dispersal, and that conversation really drove that home.  I felt encouraged and excited.  God really is working in me and molding me into a better version of me...his version of me.   And even though I still hope for the house to sell, my prayers about it aren't desperate-I'm not desperate.  He's got the whole world, even my little house in Virigina, in his hands. 

When the time is right, the house will sell. 

**And a huge thanks to Nate and Heather Carl.  Nate is our real estate agent and both of them are counted among our closest friends.  You guys are incredible and I hope that you will be blessed though the sale of this house, too **


Cadovius said...

I love that house and the boys STILL talk about it. It's amazing what they remember.

What we are all about said...

Well said Jenni! We had a situation much like yours. In the end we too found out that God protected us from what could have been much worse. We went through some humbling times but through those times grew closer to our Lord. Im so thankful that His ways are higher than my ways. He sees the big picture when we see only the little one. There is nothing sweeter than living in His complete peace! Thank you for sharing and once again reminding me of all the wondrous work He is doing in and through His children.

Nate, Heather, Spence, and Trey said...

your "problem" house has become a safe place of refuge and renewal...a place to start anew!