This is about six months overdue, but friends: WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!!!! I’ve been asked to share the miraculous story of how we ended up with a house after the whole “Hurricane Harvey flooding & evacuation ordeal”, so here we go! Buckle up, because this is one incredible story! (And that’s one big KEY! Lol!)
We bought a brand new house! But first …
This is actually our second home purchase. When Adam and I got married in Puerto Rico in 2004, we bought a little 2 bedroom apartment in Bayamón. We LOVED our first home! We also didn’t want to sell it when we moved to California, but as things would happen, our renter fell through and we ended up deciding that selling made more sense at that point in our lives.
We crunched numbers and chose not to buy while we lived in California. We saw too many friends short-selling and foreclosing (and it scared me). Nursing my babies was a priority, so a short commute was non-negotiable. Homes in that area were out of our price range. And we were trying to manage TONS of medical bills (my c-section and a few other hospitalizations, etc…) Not buying seemed the wisest choice for us at that time.
Once we moved to Texas (hello, lower cost of living) the thought of buying a home popped up here and there. But, to be honest, I wasn’t sure home ownership was right for our VERY busy on-the-go lifestyle.
About 5 years into our new Texas life, I quit my full time job to pursue blogging and other dreams. That year, 2016, was one of those years that makes you kind of re-think life. I praise God for the way He provided for us, especially how he healed Adam miraculously. He’s truly a God of miracles and we’ve seen it time and time again!!! \o/ (praise break!)
That year led to some soul searching.
It’s bound to happen with any major life change. We had some deep discussions. I had a few good conversations with God in the car on long drives (it’s a long drive to ANYWHERE in Houston.)
What was our family’s 3 to 5 year plan?
What were our family’s goals and dreams?
How many years did we have left with our then 11 and 7 year old kids? (Definitely not enough.)
What did we *really* want our life to look like for the next 5 to 10 years?
A house was a big part of that picture. So was a dog! A few other things made the list (you know for me, a Disney trip is always going to make the list. Ha!)
The “house” was maybe too big of a dream, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask my friend Anielka, who happens to be a realtor, for advice about where to start this *scary* process. (She’s in the photo above, helping us hold the giant KEY! lol!)
To be honest, I was terrified!
There are many reasons that I won’t go into here, but home ownership scared me to DEATH. What if we couldn’t handle all the bills? What if we couldn’t really make time for maintenance and upkeep with our crazy schedules? What if we ended up house poor? What if, like Dave Ramsey said, we got into a house when we just weren’t ready???
Thankfully, my friend Anielka handled all my questions and more like the pro she is! More importantly, she was a friend who spoke kindly and encouraged me through prayer and wise advice. And my amazing husband Adam sweetly talked me off the ledge as many times as I needed it through the process.
We crunched numbers, prayed, gathered documents and dreamed about how crazy it would be if we actually went for it and bought a house!
The house story kind of officially starts here.
Little did we know, our new house had already been in front of us for a while. Literally.
But before we get to that fun part, we got interrupted by a little (HUGE) detail: Hurricane Harvey. By the time it roared into Houston, it was downgraded to a Tropical Storm, but the flooding was unprecedented on so many levels.
If I thought 2016 was a year for soul searching, Harvey in 2017 put the search on overdrive.
No joke. We evacuated the apartment we had been renting and stayed with a co-worker for about two weeks. There was plenty of “what are we going to do next”? And, “what is going to happen with our apartment?”
Interestingly (or providentially) because we had begun “THE HOUSE” conversation, we had NOT renewed the lease on our apartment. It’s like God knew and gave us peace about that decision, even thought the path was not 100% clear at that point in our story.
We moved back into our post-Harvey apartment. Our garage (as were all the 1st floor apartments) were gutted. Bits of debris would be completely cleared over the course of the next few weeks. Everything around the complex had a funny smell. I was ready to move, but we kind of needed to figure out the next steps in the plan.
Would we stay in post-Harvey, post-flood Kingwood?
Even after the flood devastated our area, our family planned to stay in Kingwood. We love the schools, the people and it feels like home. I felt like, even in my Bible reading time, God was showing me in His word messages about “rebuilding the ruins.” So timely!
I think you could say it was at this point that we officially started (or became serious about) the search for a house.
The Mexican Restaurant Dream House
There was a new subdivision we had seen since ground-breaking, just on the other side of the West Lake Houston bridge. We would drive around as they were building the first homes, joking that we’d get the house that you could see from our favorite Mexican Restaurant! We laughed at the thought that we’d cut open a little window behind the house and ask our favorite server Jacinto for more chips! We literally laughed out loud (and I imagine God was laughing even louder, as He could see what we couldn’t … yet!)
That “imaginary house” that we could “see” from the Mexican restaurant hadn’t been built when we started joking about it. Eventually, we did see the house become a reality. Every now and then we drove around to see the cool process of the houses being built. We dreamed about how nice it would be to live in a neighborhood like that someday.
Back to reality, we had a pre-approval! So we were actually looking for neighborhoods in our price range and decided, why not?! Let’s stop at the sales office and see if we can keep dreaming (realistically) about the Mexican Restaurant Dream Home, or if it was out of budget.
My hubby Adam went in to ask while we waited in the car. He came out and my heart sank. He didn’t have any pretty house brochures or anything, so for a moment I thought, aww, man. It’s out of our reach.
But Adam said “Babe, Dave wants to meet you.”
“This guy named Dave knows you. He and his wife are fans. They love listening to you on NGEN Radio! Come on in and say Hi!”
“Babe! I’m in sweaty workout clothes! No makeup! Dave does NOT want to meet me like this!”
The conversation was pretty close to that … but I did actually get out of the car with the kids and we met Dave. The Nicest. Guy. EVER! I even met his sweet wife on the phone!
He took us to tour the model homes. The one story house. The two-story beauty (our favorite!) Either one was within our budget (on the low end!) YES!
And then Dave said there was another “Move-in ready” house he wanted to show us.
Our jaws dropped. He took us to the Mexican Restaurant Dream House.
I think we stood there for a few seconds, not sure if we could even go in. This was the house we’d been laughing about for YEARS! Before it was even built! Where we really about to walk through the DOOR?!?!
Dave was like, y’all, come on in!
The kids didn’t think twice. They were like, this is our HOUSE!!!
Did we find the house?
I was a bit more hesitant. You kind of need to do a bunch of things before it’s your house. Everyone calm down.
Dave at this point I think was laughing! Lol!
But we were laughing with him at the craziness of it all, and how God connects people and orchestrates crazy awesome moments like these!
In between that moment and the actual “here are your keys” moment, many things happened.
- We went home, thinking about how surreal this was and wondering how we’d come up with the earnest money.
- We prayed.
- We drove by the house almost every day.
- We filled out documents and emailed back and forth with Dave, the lender and our realtor almost daily.
- And then we lost the house.
We lost the house.
I remember the day we drove past the house and saw the “Sold” sign. The sadness in the car was almost palpable. It was like hope had been sucked out of the car. But I sucked back that last bit of hope before it slipped away and said:
“Guys! Remember the story of Joshua and Caleb in the Bible?
My kids said “Yeah, they were just talking about it in church.”
Me: Perfect timing! (Thanks, Lord!) In that story, 10 spies went to the Promised Land. Eight came back and said there are giants! It’s awful! We’re not getting that promised land! But two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb said, “Wait!” God said it’s ours! And it’s awesome! It’s flowing with milk and honey!” Let’s go claim what’s ours!”
The story isn’t over yet.
Guys, I said, the story is not over yet. If this is our house, God will somehow make a way. If not, He has something better. In the meantime, let’s keep praying.
And that’s what we did. I called Dave and asked him to put our name on a waiting list for the house, just in case.
I’ll never forget September 21st, 2017. I read this in Psalm 21 (notice the day significance!):
“How the king rejoices in your strength, O LORD! He shouts with joy because you give him victory. For you have given him his heart’s desire; you have withheld nothing he requested. You welcomed him back with success and prosperity. You placed a crown of finest gold on his head. He asked you to preserve his life, and you granted his request. The days of his life stretch on forever.”
That day, Dave called and said “Do you guys still want that house?”
(insert shock/celebration/joy/tears/and every other feeling you can imagine!)
Thank you, Lord!!!!
And yes, Dave, we, still want the house!
Psalm 21, prayer and fasting
Of course, Adam and I knew that, from that moment to closing and getting the keys, we still had a journey to travel. We chose to not tell the kids and simply continue to pray.
The next few weeks were a blur of documents and emails and phone calls and texts. It was getting exciting and nerve-wracking. We were getting dangerously close to the builder’s deadline for closing. And I prayed and prayed and held my breath and prayed some more.
We get a call the week of the deadline and we’re supposed to hear back with a closing date. But every hour seems to go on forever. Adam and I decided to fast and pray the day before we were expecting a call back. It just seemed like everything was building up to that last important moment.
I couldn’t remember after two brain tumors and other crazy things we’d lived through, when was the last time we had truly fasted and prayed together as a couple.
And the very next day, we got the call.
Come and close the house! We excitedly called our bosses (who knew we’d need time off sometime soon) and said, it’s time! WOOHOO!!!
As if all this wasn’t enough…
It gets better (though I couldn’t see how!) At this point, my heart was about to burst with gratitude to God! After all the Harvey losses, God was blessing us with a HOUSE! The Mexican Restaurant dream house!
We closed early in November and, because of our crazy schedules, we ended up moving in Thanksgiving week. Our first official dinner in our new home, on the dining room table that survived Harvey, was Thanksgiving.
Even now to think about that just takes my breath away.
You’d think THAT was enough, but there was MORE!
Can you even STAND it at this point? More???
Yes. There was more. It hardly ever snows in Houston. But that December, in our new home, for the first time in my hubby Adam’s life, in my life and in our kids’ Chris and Ally’s lives, We. Saw. Snow!
We woke up to white dust covering our new neighborhood (as much as snow covers anything in Houston!) HA!) It wasn’t much, but it was SNOW! On our new HOUSE! Just weeks before CHRISTMAS!
Miracles, upon miracles, upon miracles.
I’m tempted to say that “I can’t even begin to describe my gratitude” for what I just shared here on the blog. But at least I’m able to share this story here. I hope it encourages you to dream. To know that after storms (even Harvey-sized historic ones), good things happen. Miracles happen. Dreams come true. It can even snow in Houston.
There is nothing impossible for God! Trust Him with your story!
Laughing (and thanking God for SO MANY MIRACLES) thru life,