Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Our Homeless Time is Coming to an End, Lord Willing

Yesterday we faxed our personal info for background checks to a man who owns a house in Fort Worth that we saw a "For Rent" sign in front of when we were driving through a neighborhood looking at a couple of houses to rent or buy. A couple of hours later we got a call from him telling us that people say nice things about us. We had called him to inquire about the house on the Saturday before last after the marriage conference because it's very close to the church the conference was at and we had driven past it again. He gave me the run down: 2500 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, new gas stove, wood flooring, new carpet, no central a/c or heat. Our connection was bad so I had a hard time hearing all he had to say. I asked him how much he was asking for it. He asked, "How many people would be living there?" I told him my husband, myself and our 4 kids. He told me $1200. I told him, "Thank you very much. I'll talk to my husband." and hung up. $1200 was way more than we were hoping to spend on housing. I put the place out of my mind as we continued to look for places online and we spent a morning seeing houses with a realtor. Some of them had more promise than others. A lot of them needed a lot of work.

Wednesday afternoon after spending the morning looking at houses he called us again and this time Glenn talked to him. He sounded interested in us. Why? I don't know. He asked Glenn what we were looking at paying a month and said that what he really wanted was someone that was going to pay rent on the first of the month and take care of the house. We are those kind of people. He said that he wanted us to see it and that he could possibly go down on the rent.

I could go on and on about the agony of the last 2 weeks as we have prayed and cried and discussed our options. Looking for a house when you are homeless is kind of like shopping when you're hungry. You're tempted to just throw anything in the cart and run home so you can eat and it takes conscious effort to make rational, responsible, healthy choices that are right for your family.
- Rent or buy?
- Which house should we buy?
- How much money will we have to put into the house and what will we do with it at the end of residency if we do buy?
- Is it worth it to buy after all the closing costs at both ends?
- Which place should we rent?
- Are we being bad stewards of the money God has entrusted to us if we buy this place or rent that place?
- Should we move to this place that has opportunities to live among refugees but is pretty scary or that place that is safer and closer to the hospital?
- Will people come to our house if we live in that part of town or that far away?
- Will Glenn be able to handle that long of a commute on those crazy interstates after his long shifts?
- What purpose has God brought us to Fort Worth for?
These and so many other discussions filled our waking hours as we sought the Lord and wanted to make a decision that would please Him.

We decided, because time is of the essence and because of all of the unknowns that come with home ownership, to look into some rentals. We checked out 3 places on Saturday and another one on Sunday. One was too far away, two were too yucky and scary and weird. We liked the looks of the one close to the marriage conference church. On talking with the landlord we worked out a plan to pay $1000 a month for the first 2 years. It is unheard of for a home of that size to rent for that little and after lots more praying, weighing of options, and discussions and visiting the church for services on Sunday we've decided to rent it.

It's really been a struggle to buy or not to buy, especially after staying in this beautiful home owned by our friends who bought it, not looking nearly this beautiful, at the beginning of his residency. We had originally planned on buying (like we planned on buying in medical school but many of you remember how that went down back when we were homeless at the beginning of med school) for reasons like: it'd be our own place, we could do with it and with the lawn what we wanted, we would be able to stay there throughout residency without someone else telling us we have to move, Glenn could do wood working and other tinkering in our hypothetical garage, etc.

Why I'm glad we're renting:
- We don't have to worry about fixing the roof or the bathroom or upgrading the flooring or the bathroom or the kitchen. It isn't ours.
- We don't have to sell it at the end of residency, just give a move out date.
- If the area or the house truly doesn't work out (we truly hope that it does but... if not...) we can move.
- The idea of living there beyond our 4 years of residency is not even something I'd consider at this point... I'll only be too glad to write that last rent check and move on to the next place God has for us. If we bought a house I might be more tempted to stay and it might be harder to answer God's call.
- If we have extra money we won't have to struggle with should we throw it at our student loans that are at 6.8% or do something to fix the house or put more towards the principle of our mortgage so we'll have more equity when we sell. We can start to pay down our loans earlier.

Why I'm glad we're renting this house:
- It's less than 2 miles, 5 minutes, from the hospital.
- 4 bedrooms means we have a place to do school or to host friends or prospective residents or incoming residents looking for a place to live or any other people who might need a place to stay to bless people as we've been blessed so much over the years.
- more than one toilet will be such a wonderful thing with 6 people!
- there's washer and dryer hook ups so I can use my washer.
- It's walking distance to a church, a park that has a playground and mile markers imprinted in it's sidewalks, and a just opened this past weekend grocery store (I got so spoiled walking to Tops in Lowville for groceries. This was on my "dream but probably won't get it" list, knowing that we wanted to live in the city and that grocery store are usually in the suburbs but God gave it to me. If you haven't noticed, I think He likes to bless me. We went to it's grand opening event on Saturday and got some free samples and Abigail won a free cake on a cake walk.)
- There's a covered patio area out back that we can enjoy.
- I feel safe in the neighborhood (whether I should feel safe there or not is yet to be seen)
- There's enough space inside and parking outside for us to have people over and to host a medical missions fellowship that we feel God calling us to start in Fort Worth.
- there's a just opened in the past month free/ low cost clinic started by a church just down the street that Glenn may get to volunteer at.
- no central air in Texas means we get to prepare physically for possible life in hot places overseas where A/C isn't an option (Don't worry people who may come and visit us... We're planning on buying a couple of window units so you don't have to be so uncomfortable when you're here.)

What it all comes down to is it's God's house and we're grateful for the opportunity to use it for a season and we long to use it for Him!

We have decided to move in May 1 so we can get our stuff moved in and maybe be a bit settled in the first few days of May before we drive back to NY for graduation and then to WY for family reunion stuff since we won't be back to Fort Worth until June 5, about a week before orientation starts. I didn't like the idea of paying rent for almost a month of being gone but we decided it would make life easier. After making that decision we found out Glenn's getting paid something for orientation (we didn't think he was and it turns out it's enough to cover that month of rent after tithing) so, once again, God provided.

We are so grateful for all the people who have loved and supported us, prayed for us, given us places to sleep, fed us, etc during these crazy mystery months. I can say with full assurance - God has been faithful. Praise His name.

So, Lord willing, today we are signing a lease on a house that we get to move into next week. Yay.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Here

We're here. In Texas. Finally. Or already. I'm really not sure.

We aren't in Fort Worth. We're in Dallas. Fort Worth still feels like a place you visit. It doesn't feel like a place you live. We haven't even visited any interesting things in Fort Worth yet besides the botanical gardens (which are pretty neat. We visited them with our friends from Dallas in whose house we are currently staying back in November when we came for the interview.), a couple of churches this past Sunday and several neighborhoods and a couple of apartment complexes.

All of our stuff is in Texas now, stuffed into a storage unit but, though our stuff is here and we are here, it is not home yet. It will be. Each new place does eventually feel like home. We will one day
(hopefully soon!) find a place to live.

For now we're here. We're grateful for friends we met at the GMHC in November that have been so gracious and generous and hospitable to let us stay in their home first with and now without them. We're grateful that God has called us here, scary as that is. We're excited to see what He's going to do.


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