For the last month, Mr. Riehl and I have been working our tushies off in preparation to put our house on the market.
We bought our first home at the very last swell of the bubble before it popped in 2007. At the time, we felt like the house was a great deal, even though it didn’t have sprinklers, a fence, a garage door opener, and it was obvious the old owners had owned roughly one million and five cats.
We moved into our home, two clueless kids. Thanks to our generous, giving church, we were able to get a backyard and sprinklers put in long before we expected to. We’ve replaced the carpet a few times, changed things around and generally messed with the place for the last seven years. Somewhere along the way, I began to really, really dislike our house. Maybe that’s not the right description. I didn’t actually dislike our house, I just didn’t want to live in it anymore.
I wanted to move. Closer to town, closer to friends. I wanted a different layout, a bigger home, a new start. And that sunk deep into my skin and I’ve been working hard on my heart to knock it off. My logic told me that I had no reason to want to move so badly. But my heart longed for it anyway.
The desire was futile. Because of the market, our “great deal” of a house plummeted in value and we have watched that number creep ever so slowly back toward what we owe for years. This summer, we decided to see what a realtor had to say and he about blew us over when he said he could sell it for just enough to pay the balance and closing costs. Mr. Riehl and I immediately scrambled to get the house ready, feeling like it was finally our moment! We painted, updated the kitchen floor, planted flowers all around, created a third parking space and generally spruced up the place in ways I didn’t even think to do for ourselves while we were here. And when we needed a break from all that, we looked at houses.
And we found THE ONE. Our forevermore home. Brand new. Plenty of room for us and even guests when they came. Big kitchen, gleaming granite, new backyard, great neighborhood. Everything was perfect.
Except the mortgage payment. We were sure we could do it…but it was going to be tight.
Finally, the day arrived. The realtor came to officially set us up to sell…and suddenly, he wasn’t selling it for as much as he said (even though we went above and beyond the changes he suggested) and he told us to wait. Even though we feel slighted, Mr. Riehl and I…sank back with relief. And gushed to each other that we both had been having doubts.
When this little journey started, we had agreed that to put the “move” desire to rest, we were going to keep walking toward that goal until a door was closed. The uncomfortable mortgage should have been that door, but God is gracious and closed a few more just to be sure we caught on. “Not the time. This isn’t MY plan.”
We are happy and relieved for many reasons. You know that saying, “You don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone?” My house–the one I’ve been desperate to dump for years–suddenly had my heart as we prepared to leave.
This backyard is magical. The view is one we definitely weren’t finding in our house search.
My neighbor across the street has become a dear friend in the 2+ years she’s lived here. She invites us over for amazing Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef).
I take her leftovers of our dinner or dessert if I make too much. We share cookies and coffee and tears and laughter. The other night, she texted me at 9:30pm and asked if she could bring me eggs (she brings me fresh eggs from her chickens!!) and check out our new kitchen floor. She came and oohed and aahed (it really is gorgeous) and we ended up talking on the front porch for the next hour. I went back inside with my heart heavy because I knew a neighbor like that is one in a million.
My Dad and Mr. Riehl built a swingset and tree fort years ago and I was aching at the thought of leaving it behind. Yes, the new house would have a covered patio, green grass, and a flat yard (ours is sloped)…but nothing else.
The girls and I spend summer evenings while Mr is at work reading library books in this wonderful fort.
One day last week while we were painting our bedroom, I watched the girls swinging and playing out the window. They were laughing and flying high. I was pensive, knowing that the Mr. and I were working hard for something we already had. We kept wanting to move for more space, and one day that might happen, but for now, our girls–and their parents–have everything we need.
A home is where the family abides. Where we make memories and live and cry and play. Where our hearts are filled. Where our hearts are broken. Where we eat, sleep, play…live. The way the four walls are put together should never matter more than the how life is being lived within them.
So now we regroup. We let our roots sink further and we live here. Really live here. Not with our eyes on what is outside of our home that we don’t have, but rather with our eyes and hearts on what we do have. And we relish it with gratitude.
B.D.Riehl is the author of, The Earth is Full, available here. Watch for the sequel, The Heavens Are Telling, set to release in September 2014.