Saturday, April 12, 2014

Too Good to be True?!

Another week has come and gone, and still we wait.  We wait to sell our house, to buy a house, and to have a baby.

We got amazingly great news last Friday that we were going to get an official offer on our house AND we qualified for a special kind of loan that would allow us to make an offer on the house we want (since it is in foreclosure and in need of a new roof, traditional financing wouldn't apply)!  We were elated at the possibilities that all was not lost!  Perhaps we would sell our house AND get to buy our dream house...

With this new type of loan, we would take out the amount of the house plus the construction of the roof.  Then once the roof is finished we can refinance the loan into a traditional mortgage loan.  So we started doing calculations, and with the amount we should be getting on our house, plus our savings, we should be able to refinance the loan, pay off Kyle's truck, and buy a used van by August!

Sunday we went in to talk with our realtor and draw up a real offer on the house we wanted.  The timing just seemed perfect, even the date we chose for closing was a day I had already taken off of work - the day before my C-section!  We calculated it would take about 6 weeks to close on the house we are selling... we'd have a baby, and I would recover from C-section between the two closing dates!  We went to bed Sunday night with a glow of hope in our hearts and minds.

Most people say that if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is.  But we felt like the timing of all of this was affirmation of God's perfect timing, teaching, and provision.  We feared that the situation might be too good to be true, but God Himself is more good than we can imagine, and He is true.  We may not get our way, but He is still always at work in us and around us.

On Monday, the guy interested in our house made an official offer.  It was slightly lower than he had initially led on, but not horrible.  But thankfully he feels about our house the way we feel about this other house... we both want "that one".   So we are all just making an offer and waiting to see!  Because of that, we couldn't really counter-offer or accept until we heard back from the offer we had made!  And he said he was waiting for us to respond before moving on to look at anything else.

Then we got some slightly bad news.  If you are going to get bad news, Mondays should be the days to get it, because it is already, well... Monday!  We found out there was already another bid on the house we want to buy.  The party that made the offer had been in negotiations for about a week, going back and forth over price.  Thankfully our offer was higher than theirs, so we were hoping that the bank would simply just take our offer over the other party, since they were going to get more money out of us.  So we waited and waited.  Monday.  Tuesday.  Wednesday.  No news from the bank.

Also on Monday, all the teachers at school were asked to fill out a letter of intent about next school year.  I have explained before that our district is moving all the 5th grade classes to the elementaries instead of being at the middle school. But the teachers that are still on temporary contracts (being in the district less than 3 full school years) were going to have to reapply and reinterview for any and all open positions, once all the positions were rearranged.  So I hadn't been expecting to have to tell the school a decision one way or the other about our decision on whether I was going to teach next year or not, since technically I don't have a job after May 23rd.  The thing is, we hadn't made a decision, and making one in the middle of all this waiting for everything else seemed overwhelming.  So basically, I didn't mark any of the choices on the letter of intent. I simply put an asterick at the bottom and said, "I still do not know what my decision will be about next year.  As soon as I know, I will update your office with my decision."

That evening, Kyle and I had to drive to Owasso and back, so we started to talk through all the situations, decisions, hopes, and fears as we sat in the car.  I told him that I had had to fill out a letter of intent that day at work.  I explained how I had been feeling every time someone asked me about my plans for next year - dishonest, unsure, sneaky, indecisive, and afraid.  I felt dishonest and sneaky, because I knew that we hoped I would not be working full-time.  But how do you say that without it sounding like you want to get out of a place?!  It wasn't that I hate teaching and just have to get out, it is that I want to be home more with my children while they are so little. So I just would say, "We're not sure yet", but in my heart I was set on an answer.  An answer I couldn't share.  But while we are waiting on so many other things, it did seem scary to go ahead and just make a final decision regarding my work.

And the thought of reapplying and reinterviewing while recovering from a C-section and nursing a newborn seemed like the worst kind of timing possible.  As I was explaining all of this, I saw it on Kyle's face immediately.  He saw it all as the perfect kind of timing to make a final decision.  He told me that we should just commit to me looking for part-time work by August and letting my school know now that I wasn't coming back next year.

In that moment, I felt such incredible relief and fear all at the same time.  Relief, because for the longest time when Kyle would say, "Really, whatever you want to do, I'll support you." made me feel like all the pressure was on me to decide and carry.  That isn't what he had ever meant, but the responsibility of it all was making me feel guilty and fearful.  But us talking it through and then making a commitment together felt like we were a team carrying this responsibility, and everything it implies, together!

So on Tuesday, I emailed my former principal, our current HR person, and explained why the day before I had written that I had no idea on my letter of intent, but that today I was ready to confidently say that I was not coming back to work in the fall.  As I typed the email, I felt elation and fear take turns reigning in my heart and mind.  Each time I would feel relief about making a decision and knowing Kyle and I were in this together, the fear of "what if" came to mind.  But each time fear would take over saying, "What if we go through some kind of major financial crisis, and I am left without a full-time job?!", I would be reminded that God takes care of even sparrows, and I know that as His child His care for me is even greater.  What and whom should I fear?!

So even though we were still waiting to hear about the offer we had made on the house, I felt so at rest knowing we had grown up a lot in our marriage and faith by finally making this huge decision about our future!  I felt so proud of us, because I knew that even if this whole plan flops, we would trust in the Lord together, and move forward together.

Finally, on Thursday both us and the other hopeful house-buying party were told by the bank to offer our highest final offer by Friday at 1pm.  This was good and bad news.  Good, because that meant the house is still a possibility.  Bad, because now we had entered into a bidding game.

Oh, I hate the game!  You know what I'm talking about?  Now all the control was in the bank's hands.  Before when we thought we were the only people interested in the house, and it had been on the market for so long, we knew the only thing we were up against was the amount the bank was hoping to get out of the foreclosure.  Now, we were up against how much the bank could squeeze out of either party.  We knew our first offer had been higher than the other party's offer after a week of negotiating, but there is no way we could know these people's highest amount/budget.  So we were left to guess what we thought these complete strangers would offer in comparison with what our top dollar was, and try to outbid them... talk about a game that no matter how much strategy you have, you have no idea if any strategy will work!  Our final offer was filled out, signed, and sent in after Kyle got off work on Thursday.  Our realtor got word that the other bidder had turned in their final offer that evening as well.

And all day Friday we waited.  I tried not to be waiting, but that is pretty much impossible.  And all day long the bank's silence was deafening!

But the beautiful thing about this roller coaster we have been on these past 2 months have taught us both about how having a good marriage, raising kids, and enjoying life has nothing to do with which house you do it all in.  With the number of times we have thought we had lost any chance of buying this house and then finding out again that is is possible, then not possible, then possible again.  We have learned that our emotions are all too often caught up and controlled by our circumstances... when really our circumstances haven't changed at all!  Losing something you never had means you still have what you did before!  We still have each other, our children, and above all a loving Lord that hears our cries, knows our hopes, and is the hope for all people!

 My daughter can be a "princess ballerina" and play with her Barbie no matter where we live, where I work, or what kind of cars we have.  Her world is in her mind, and that can go wherever we go in whatever we get there in...

So before we even have heard back about this dream house we thought we just had to have weeks ago, we now are only hopeful about.  We still want it, we still prefer living there than where we currently do, and we have many plans in case we get it!  But we have learned so much about who God is (which is who He said He was all along), we have learned so much about ourselves, and we have learned to once again hold all things loosely.

So we went to look at another house on Friday still without knowledge of what the bank has decided about our offer.

This house is closer to NSU, and has pretty much the same kitchen/dining/living room layout as our dream house - just the opposite direction.  It needs no work and is move-in ready, for about the same price as the first house.  As we walked around and looked and talked, I also remembered that once again my plans are just that - plans.  And even if I had a million plans and back-up plans, His remains the constant and perfect plan.  A house is a just a house, and there are a million just like them.

One specific lesson we have learned and discussed on our way to look at this other house is that just because something is difficult or takes a long time doesn't mean the Lord isn't in it.  When God orchestrates things, it isn't always the easiest way.  Really, how often do we learn from those experiences?!  And just because something happens very easily, doesn't mean that it is "too good to be true".  There really is no such thing.  The way things happen is the way God wants it to happen, which means if it doesn't happen it was never good in the first place!  And just because something might be difficult, trying, or seem to take forever... as long as it ends up happening, then you know it was the good thing.  If all things truly work for the good of those who love the Lord and for His great name to be glorified, then there is nothing that is too good.  Everything goes through the Lord's hand, either His setting it in motion or His allowing it to come to pass.

Christians need to stop living life as if following God's direction looks the same as just being superstitious.  If something is too hard, they say "It must not be God's will."  If it is God's will, it will come to pass, but we aren't promised an easy straight-shot to the outcome!  God works things out in His timing, and we have to be okay with that.  And then when the outcome does come, we should be thankful for His answer.  Even when He says NO, He is present, in control, and still good.  The fact God cares for us and answers at all should be a huge source of comfort and joy for all of us as Believers!

And if God has created it, allowed it, and approved of it, then the circumstances can change one hundred times over.  Our God is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore.  And even though He is more good than I can imagine, He is never too good to be true!

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