If you were to ask us 1 or 2 years ago if we thought there could be a chance we would be homeowners, the answer would be no. If you asked us 3-4 years ago, the answer would be “How? We can’t afford it.”
After 5 years of marriage, we packed what little we had and drove to Minnesota to start a new life. Nothing was fully developed or written in details. We had jobs, a shelter and a few plans- that’s it.
Almost one year since moving to MN, we’re moving again. This time to a home that we own by the grace and benevolent hand of God.
This is our story, this is our song.
November 26, 2016- Surrendering over coffee
Exactly 8 months after arriving in MN, JP invited me to meet a realtor that specializes in Bloomington. My heart wasn’t fully on board to purchase a house because it meant our finances that were saved for adoption, were being redirected. It felt as if we were aborting the plans of Minnesota for another, and that, was where my feet were unwilling to move.
I wasn’t sure what to expect and being the first time for us, we didn’t fully know what questions to ask. It seemed quite daunting to be here alone in MN. I thought to myself, “If we were still in CA, we would know who to email or call.. but here, we don’t know anybody.” It was at this meeting that I realized where JP was coming from with purchasing the house. The interest rate was favorable for us to purchase with a forecast that it would increase in the near future. I thought,
“Ok, Lord. I’m not on board with this but if You’re leading us to buy a home, then make it clear and lead the way.”
We sat over coffee talking about what we’re looking for and what kind of timeline we should prepare since it was the holiday season which means the market is “hibernating”. Our rental lease would end right before April so we had to be on time.We decided on house hunting the first week of December.
December 4, 2016- Round 1
We saw a few houses and the more we viewed we began to formulate an idea of what this ideal home should look like. Having an experienced realtor in the area we were interested in, was a provision from God. Questions were answered and stuff we never considered important- she helped us understand why they were important. Some houses looked great but there was always something missing, an important factor, important enough to not set aside. We didn’t want to feel rushed or pressured but I knew my heart felt rushed which led me to approach this like a chore. A hassle, hard and laborious so I found myself mentally negotiating on negotiables and wanting to settle on a house-just to get the process over with.
December 23,2016-Round 2
After having some much needed CA friends over for the coldest winter day of 2016, we were back at it again. Of the house we viewed that day, one caught our eyes.
- The Master bedroom and 2nd room were both located on the same floor and right next to each other. (This was for Benaiah)
- The 3rd bedroom was located on the lower level. (For guests or future housemates)
- The living room and kitchen had an open feel.
- Two car garage
- Driveway parking was a “U” or half circle so guests/housemates could park.
- The backyard & view: So serene and relaxing.
This home was being sold by a Chiropractic school located across the street and was used to house speakers or hold meetings. It was fully furnished and was being sold as is. This was appealing to us Californians who lived spaces that were 700 sqft or less- we wouldn’t be able to purchase all the furniture (bed frames, couches, dining table, etc) to fill the house. Another provisional blessing from God.
We both had a good feeling about the house and the question was:
“Do we want to put in an offer?”
- Not much competition since the market was still in “hibernation”
- We like the house a lot more than the ones we’ve seen prior.
- If it works out, we can rest assure that we’re done.
- What if we put in an offer and a better home shows up?
- It’s a bit early in the timeline given that we are avoiding double payments and our lease is up in end of March.
We decided it was semi early enough to put an offer in and depending on the seller’s response, we can continue searching without losing too much time. We met back at 3pm to sign some documents and we were done. We put an offer on a house. We went slightly lower than what was listed and specifically asked for a closing date in the middle of March. Now we entered the waiting room. The tricky part was that Christmas was right around the corner so who knew when we would hear back from the school.
I remember JP and I both being in this “numb” phase. We didn’t wake up determined to put an offer in today. We expected a few more rounds but everything happened so quickly. I even had thoughts that this offer wouldn’t work and we would be back on the market looking for the next potential home.
Christmas passed peacefully in the Park family
December 26, 2016- The Counter
We received an email we were not expecting. The Board was interested and countered our offer. Closing in March wasn’t an issue. (Karissa, our realtor shared that the seller’s agent even asked if we wanted to put a date that far out–it was not common nor beneficial for the seller) We decided to move forward and sign on the counter. At this point, it had not occurred that we were buying a house. It just felt like another lease being signed. While others were excited for us to sign, something wasn’t clicking in me.
” Are you not excited? We’re buying a home…”
I felt bad towards JP because as his wife, I wasn’t on the same page to celebrate and I couldn’t figure out why. I just felt numb towards the entire process. I would ask God,
“What’s wrong with me, God? Is there something not right in my heart? Why am I not excited for this house?”
(This is my rough draft of understanding the why: my heart was hardened with a straight/narrow plan that had no room to take any turns whatsoever in Minnesota. Our goal and purpose of leaving everything behind in California was school and adoption. To buy a house was not on the plan and I took it as:
“We’re not on track. We’re losing focus. I didn’t leave family and friends to sidetrack. If I’m going to be lonely out here, then at least we should do what we were supposed to do.”
Loneliness had a vice grip on my heart. Here’s how He showed me: Back in January, when I was still at VStar, I finally started opening up about our house plans. What triggered excitement was when I struck a conversation with a few other homeowners, moms, and wives. Seeing their excitement and hearing their feedback helped me realize that buying a house WAS a big deal. Mental knowledge wasn’t enough for me. I was a creature of emotions and interactions and the very lack of that caused this desensitizing inability to gauge big things like this. Not having people to run ideas and just do life with in Minnesota aka not having friends/fellowship/community, was “killing” my senses.
I drove back home that day having a fresh awareness of this huge milestone in life. It wasn’t as near as JP’s excitement but something was planted and growing. I still believe that I’m the type that won’t celebrate during the process and will go all out to celebrate when it’s all said and done.
I’m not saying this process was perfect. It wasn’t. Throw in the timing of me starting a new job- it caused a delay in our closing to the end of March. It is the grace of God that helped us not be anxious and trust God’s sovereignty and faithfulness. If He has brought us this far, then how can we doubt?
This morning’s closing went smoothly and as we both returned to our new home, this time with an extra key on our keyring…it slowly sank in. This is ours to use, to live in, to raise a family, to fellowship, to worship, to share with others, to exercise hospitality with, to honor God with. What a huge call. And you know what? He has led us to a schedule of doing just that. Praise God we have a BCS student who will move in with us in May. We have a returning Californian visiting us in May and we’re housing a longtime ministry guest as they’re visiting MN in June.
I told JP today that I think God had plans for us to buy this house and share this house. To purchase it in the state that it was- furnished (like a hotel) and stocked with everything we would need (cleaning supplies, dish sets, brand new blenders, place mats and diningware, plenty of chairs and furnished bedrooms) if we had to house somebody today. There was no excuse for us not to house somebody, today.
With that weighing on our hearts, here’s to Day 1 of being an official homeowner. Our prayer remains the same:
“Thank you Lord for this blessing. Lord, establish and bring order to our steps. Help us in being a good steward of this blessing You’ve given us.”