25 March 2011

Second home, first house

"Home, the spot on earth supremely blessed,
a dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest."
~Robert Montgomery

John and I are in the process of buying our first house! We never thought we'd be able to buy at this point in our lives, but God has been very generous to us and provided more than we could have imagined. Our first home together was our sweet little one bedroom apartment in the upstairs of a very old house. Old houses come with their share of problems (crumbly plaster, leaky windows, attics inhabited by mice, bats, or- in our case- squirrels), but you really can't beat an old home in terms of character.

So when we set out to hunt for our first house together, that's what we wanted: character.

Okay that's not all we were looking for (first time buyers- we want it all, right?). Our wish list went a little something like this:

First, we choose our neighbourhood. Being in ministry, we wanted to be very intentional about our location. We wanted to be in our church's "parish area" and close to the public school where we're involved in a mentoring program. We also really, really wanted to have a front porch. Friends of ours from seminary inspired us by having a big front porch and a wooden sign that reads:

How great is that? And it works too. People sit on their porch. So we thought, if you really want to be known in your neighbourhood, a front porch is the way to go.

So we were looking for an old house with that wonderful and intangible quality of character and a big front porch.

We wanted 3+ beds and 1.5+ baths, a backyard, and a garage would be really super nice too. All pretty doable, right?

Well as it turns out, when you're looking for an old house it helps to be handy and have some serious DIY skills. Which we do not. The handiest thing we've ever done together was in 2008 when we mounted a wine glass rack under our kitchen cabinets.

And even then it took us a good 20 minutes to figure out the drill bits.

Alright so now we want an old house, character, back yard, garage, very specific location, front porch, 3 bed, 1.5+ bath, needs minimal work.

Thankfully our dear friend and realtor Paul was beyond patient as we searched. As it turned out, there were exactly two houses which fit our criteria. When I saw the first one, I fell in love. It was perfect. Beyond perfect. The house God had planned for us all along.

Except it sold without us.

Then there was much weeping. Followed by rallying. Covered in prayer. Nothing like loosing your dream house to make you realize that you are not in control of your life. What's that verse again? "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps" (Pr 16:9). Oh. Right.

We continued on. When I saw the second house for the first time I went back and forth between, "Okay I think like this one!" and "No this isn't the one." Not exactly an amazing first impression.

So back home we went, more praying, more feeling like we were never going to find a house. We were destined to hate our first home together. To settle for something we didn't even want. Heaven forbid! Just when you think you're maturing, the inner whiner comes out.

But Paul graciously encouraged us. "I think the second house was a good one. Let's go back and see it again." Alright. We'll look. Just to see.

And see we did. On second inspection, we realized this was just the house for us. 110 years old, front porch, back yard, garage, right neighbourhood, loads of character, and great condition.

If you've read this far you deserve some pictures! If you've skipped my long story, there's no way for me to know, so here are the pictures anyway. :)

Our first house! Lord willing, we will close on April 15.

Come sit on our porch!

Living Room where we anticipate many cozy visits with friends!
We also anticipate ripping out that carpet to reveal wood floors underneath.
Front door goes into a small mud room and the to the porch.
Second door goes into a bedroom that we'll use as another living space.

Dining room with a built in (character!)
Living room to the right and kitchen to the left.

Pocket door! Perfect for shutting out loved ones.
Just kidding, but we'll see if we ever use this.
Gorgeous to look at at least!

Here's that character we were after!

Kitchen. Hello brown! Can't wait to get some paint on those cabinets.

Stairs off of the dining room.

Upstairs hallway.

Upstairs bedroom- they all look pretty similar.

And the bathrooms are pretty plain-jane so I'll wait to show you the "after" shots of those.

So that's the story of buying our first home. Three weeks until closing and 4 weeks until we move in. We hope and pray this house will be a hub for our ministry and a warm, welcoming space for all our friends and loved ones.

The sacred and the ordinary

I am no spiritual giant.

Which is why I take great comfort in knowing that though I plan the course of my life, the LORD determines my steps (Proverbs 16:9). This blog is intended to be a story, a story of my very ordinary life and how (I hope) it interacts with God's sacred plan. At least, as far as I can tell from here.

The title "Fields and Fine Linen" pulls two images from Proverbs 31, an allegory in which wisdom is portrayed as a noble wife. I want wisdom. I believe that we see the sacred blessing the ordinary when we see wisdom. Yes, sometimes God breaks into our world in extraordinary and miraculous ways, but most ordinarily God guides his children through wisdom.

So this is my story, my ordinary life punctuated by whispers and prayers for great wisdom, for steadfast convictions and for that blessed, blessed assurance that my life is held by the sacred and will be used for the blessing of others.