Friday afternoon, a few hours after that last post published, Tim and I sat in a real estate office south of Nashville with our agent, a closing agent and a stack of paperwork, doing something we’ve never done together or apart: we closed on our first house.
We first found it exactly a month ago today, just two days after that post about our house hunt published last month. Tim and I were rushing around that morning, about to leave for Ohio for the weekend to see family, but we’d emailed our agent (shout-out to Josh! we love him!) about a few new places we wanted to see, and bless his heart because he showed us at least 20 houses this summer, he worked out a way to see two of them. The first house was as gorgeous as a design magazine, but it was also in a flood plain, and there were 101 reasons why we shouldn’t have made an offer. The second house, though, had just had its priced lowered and it was also, go figure, on the exact same street as the one we almost bought last year. It needed less renovation work as the house last year, but it was priced a little higher and had a little less square feet; we talked about this quickly with Josh and hit the road, talking with each other and then on the phone with mortgage people most of the way to Ohio. We made an offer; the seller countered; we countered back; by the time we came back to town Monday, we had a signed contract.
The weeks between the signed contract and the closing Friday were crazy, filled with scanning paperwork to our loan officer in Illinois (Illinois and not Tennessee because, as soon as my dad heard our mortgage rate, he promptly drove to his local bank, asked for a loan officer and then that loan officer got us almost a full point lower), talking to our landlord, showing our apartment, researching everything from painting brick to cleaning 51-year-old bathtub stains, touring stone warehouses (my favorite part, by far) and, amazingly for people who live 4 hours from the closest one, visiting IKEA three times.
Everybody said closing would be terrible, but the process Friday was fast and simple and the people we were sitting with talked to us like human beings. I loved our agent, I loved our closing agent, I loved my loan processor who was totally a kindred spirit in terms of efficiency. We walked out of the office, key in hand, and met the former owner, Juanita, an 83-year-old Southern lady who lived in the house from the year it was built until sometime last year when she had a fall and couldn’t be on her own anymore. She and her husband bought the house as a new construction the year Lyndon B. Johnson became president. They raised their son, six when they bought the house and now about to retire to the Real estate in Prescott for sale she mentioned. She said it was kind of hard to see the house when her son and daughter-in-law took her back the week before. “A lot of memories,” she said with a sort of dismissive tone.
Saturday and Sunday we tore down a wall, ripped up some linoleum, primed the fireplace and created at least 10 bags of trash; transforming things is rewarding; it’s physical redemption happening before your eyes. I told Juanita we’d take good care of her house, and that’s what we’re trying to do. Already the top level looks so different from the pictures (you can follow along on on Instagram if you like), but we’re aiming to move in by the end of this month, so we’ve got to work fast.
We are thankful for the house. We are also thankful for the house we didn’t get last year—not because this one now is better or because that one then was bad but because it was the mercy of God to not let us have something we wanted in order to show us how that thing we wanted was never the thing that would satisfy us. I listened to this a few weeks ago and sobbed down Nolensville Road at the line “unkindly he has kindly shown that He was not my God alone,” because every time I think about this last year and its losses, every time I think about the hard-to-breathe hurt of losing a baby or the regular breakdowns of working on a cookbook or the numb confusion of praying about a house and having it not work out, I have to also think about the shocking, humbling, sustaining grace that has held us and comforted us and changed us, too. He is so kind. A house is a good gift. Not getting a house is a good gift. We take what He gives with open hands and trust Him. Thankful for you guys and how you’re with us in the process. We’ll talk about food again soon.