Bump in the road

A week ago we saw four houses and narrowed our search to the one. We thought we’d communicated well enough with our Realtor that we wanted her to put together an offer while we sent the wire transfer to pay off our house. We didn’t hear a thing from her all week so I emailed her this morning to remind her about the offer. When she called back it was with bad news. The house was already under contract and the option period (unique to Texas, I learned) expires tomorrow (Tuesday) at midnight.

That sure was disappointing news. While the house wasn’t perfect, the property definitely was, and we were looking forward to doing some renovations.

I happened to tell my mom, who happened to tell my dad, who then advised us to put in a backup offer. It completely hadn’t occurred to us to even try doing that. I called our Realtor and she called the listing agent. She found out that the current contract on the house was contingent on the buyer’s house selling, which gives us a competitive advantage in that we have no such contingency.

Now we are waiting on our Realtor to send us some comparable property information so that we can put the offer together. I hope she does so soon. I’m pretty anxious to get it sent in and see what happens.



On Monday Andrew and I went looking at houses again. The first was a surprise; the listing had no pictures at all but it was a gem. The second was a total bust. The house was horrible, too small, and the entire 22 acres that it sat on was totally devoted to raising livestock. The third rated low for me but higher for Andrew. But I just can’t see us living on ten totally barren acres; we have always dreamed of having treed property and this land had about three tiny trees on the whole lot.

Thus we went back to the first property we’d looked at, and took so. many. pictures. We inspected the place up and down, and walked around the property. In hindsight, I wish we’d done more property inspecting, but we will have to live in the house so…

Oh, yes. We will. Be living in the house, that is.

We decided; after our Realtor does some comparisons for us and after we get our finances in order, we thought this would be The One. Both Andrew and I wanted to pray about it some more first, to know for sure that this was The One.

Oddly enough, the next morning (Tuesday), one of the ladies in my small group emailed me. I wouldn’t say we are close friends; we’re obviously in the same small group and have had a couple meals together over the past year, but other than that, we haven’t hung out extensively. But just out of the blue she emailed me to tell me she’d read Psalm 37 that morning and that every line reminded her of our situation (I’d told our group everything that went down with our business collapse the previous year).

I read that Psalm a LOT in December and January, but I hadn’t read it in a while, so I did. It was like a warm blanket being tucked in around me on a cold day; so soothing and full of love. The whole thing talks about how godly people will be targeted by wicked ones, but the Lord will take care of those who trust in Him. Then I got to verse 29, and cried a little. “The godly will possess the land and will live there forever.” We have always called the house we intend to raise our children in our “forever home.”

Well, there you have it. I think that’s the confirmation we needed. Andrew thinks so too.

So yesterday I tried initiating a wire transfer to pay off our home, which we need to do in order to adjust our debt-to-income ratio in order to qualify for the new mortgage. But I filled the fields in wrong, which meant we lost $55 in fees (bah) and I had to try again. I think it sort of went through today…the money is once again gone, but there hasn’t been any confirmation. Gotta wait and see, I suppose. And look at pictures and dream 🙂

Number crunching

As  a good little home shopper, I applied for pre-approval for a home loan near the beginning of our shopping experience. Today we got the results: no can do, based on our potential debt-to-income ratio. We’d either have earn about 30% more and prove it in the next month, or pay off our current house. We don’t have the cash to both pay off our house and put 10% down. So I freaked a bit. Oh no. What are we gonna do. We are going to have to move; we’re giving our house away! Blah blah blah.

And then, it occurred to me (or, as I believe is more accurate, the Holy Spirit whispered an idea in my ear): What about paying off our current house and putting less down? I asked the mortgage broker if paying off the current mortgage and putting 5% down would work, and he said yes! So I called to get a payoff letter and dude, we are going to own a paid-off house. And be able to buy our dream property.

But, given this new hesitation from the mortgage firm regarding our financial solvency, both Andrew and I wondered if we were biting off more than we could chew financially. So this evening we dedicated ourselves to some number crunching. And we found that with our bare minimum income we have more than enough to pay all of our projected financial obligations for the new house, including extra money for things like gas, because we will live further away, etc. It also provides for our health insurance, which we have to fund now, taxes, tithing; basically everything I can think of fits into the smallest number I think we will make this year.

And that’s pretty awesome because everything we will make with our new LLC, L33t Tech, can go toward the innumerable small and large things we would like to get for making our new house our home.

Yes, I’ve started making a list 🙂

We plan to start telling family members this weekend. I can’t WAIT to tell my mom. She’s coming to visit in April and I hope we will get to show her OUR new house then!!!

Why do I have all this stuff???

In light of the fact that we hope to be moving soon, I started making lists.

I love lists. Lists get the tangled mess of thoughts out of my head and someplace safe where I can refer to them the next time my brain appears to have taken a vacation.

One of my lists is stuff to take with us and stuff I have no intention of taking with us. Which leads us to the next logical question: What on earth is it doing in my house anyway? For instance: we have this mirror. It was my husband’s and it came in the house when we got married. I am pretty sure it’s been just leaning on the wall ever since. It has no frame, and thus no easy way to hang it. Today our baby scooted over to the mirror and started hitting it, and since it wasn’t fastened to anything, it started to tip onto her head. Thankfully Andrew was right there and caught the mirror. Why is the thing even in my house if it’s 1) not useful and 2) actually dangerous?

I have no idea.

Brace yourself, Goodwill: you are about to get a whole lotta stuff from this household!

Holy ship, it’s happening

As I posted yesterday, my husband and I are in the process of having our minds blown by God’s provision.

And, uh, now the reality is sinking in. We want to go see a couple other homes before committing to the one we love, but really, within a week we could be submitting an offer on that home. I kind of want to do that tomorrow because now that we’ve made up our minds, I don’t want anyone else to come along and snatch up the house! (the house that’s been on the market for over six months…not likely. But still)

My mind is ablaze with to-do lists. And I can’t stop looking at pictures of the home. And we have told our kids. The not-quite-one-year-old doesn’t give a hoot. The three year old has the most adorable misconceptions. Last night her daddy was showing her pictures of bunk beds and telling her that in our new house, she will have a new bed. She took that to mean that we were leaving ALL of our stuff here and was worried about various belongings getting left behind. It was so cute. I assured her that we were taking all of our important things with us.

I haven’t moved since I moved in with my husband when we got married, nearly 8 years ago. And I’ve definitely never moved with two kids and a dog. We have a LOT of crap to go through, my word. I need to get started, like, yesterday. But where the heck do I start!? Kids rooms? Maybe the storage closet. I bet I can weed out a lot of crap in there and start packing.

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh!

I’m so excited!

Give, and it will be given to you

Sometimes I feel like our church walks a very fine line between preaching generosity and preaching prosperity gospel. The Bible verse referenced in my title is Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” I’ve heard this verse used to tell people to give to God and see what He is capable of giving back. However, earlier in the chapter, there’s this remonstration:

24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.”

I’m not about to preach a message about the prosperity gospel or lack thereof. I just wanted to preface this blog post with Jesus’ words on the subject, and then write our testimony.

Every year, our church has a weekend when our pastor talks about all the cool stuff we’ve been able to do over the past year thanks to people giving gifts over and above their tithe, and then casts the vision for the cool stuff the elders have felt led to pursue for the next year. Then as many people as want to pray and ask God what gift He would have them give over and above their tithe, and then write it on a card and turn it in. The leadership of the church pursues the new opportunities based on about 80% of the total committed. It’s a great way to ask people to give towards projects without having pledge drives or guilt-based funding.

This year, I prayed much, and heard from God. We were to give our house. Yes. The house we are living in. I personally have felt for several years that when we moved out of this house we were going to give it away. But to actually know that this was the year…wow. This was going to be a step of faith, especially considering that we’d just lost our business, and, while we both have some work, our income is half what it was last year. But even stranger, I wasn’t sure that we were supposed to give it to the church, necessarily.

We’ve always had a dream of moving to the country, to own 20 acres or so and make our home in the boonies. So it was weird that about a month before the vision weekend at church, I was praying while nursing Emily and asked God when we should move to the country. And to my surprise, the immediate answer was “go for it.”

We started looking. We found a gorgeous property with a decent house in just the right area for just the right price. It’s been on the market for over 6 months and hasn’t had much interest. We went out to see it and were impressed. We tried really hard not to fall in love right away, so we gave it a logical 9 out of 10 points.

On the way home, we were talking about various things. Andrew said something about how maybe now we could help his mom and dad and grandma have a place to live (long, looooong story there). I said, “How would us buying a new home help them have a home?” He blurted out, “Because maybe they could have our house.”

I sat in the car in stunned silence as the Holy Spirit sang His song of confirmation in my heart. Of course. The solution to a problem we’d all been struggling with lay in our obedience. I told Andrew, “I never, ever thought of that,” and he said, “me either, until the words were coming out of my mouth.” I told him that God had told me that our gift this year was our house, but I wasn’t sure how to give a house to a church. He said that he’d been praying about our gift too, and also telling God about how much he’d like a new house. This was during a sermon at church. And the preacher quoted Luke 6:38, with emphasis on the IT. Give, and IT will be given to you. What is IT? Whatever you give will be returned to you in vaster measure than you can handle. The preacher applied the concept to marriage; give your soul to your spouse and you’ll be rewarded with theirs in return. But the Holy Spirit told Andrew that the answer to his dilemma of a new house, of our dream property, lay in giving the one we already had.

One normally counts on the sale of one home to fund the purchase of the new one, so where on earth was the down payment going to come from? We had about 60% of what we would consider a decent down payment already saved, but saving the rest was going to be tough with our employment situation.

Today we received not one, but two pieces of shocking and big time financial blessing. One; our tax refund was totally enormous. Ridiculously so. Normally I’m firmly in the camp of don’t give it to the IRS; keep it! If we’d had the money in our paychecks last year, though, we would have put it all toward the current mortgage instead of getting a refund, putting cash in our account when we needed it. Two; our business, which we are closing down, has a bit of money that we knew we owed the government. But we found out that, in some strange twist of tax law, the business pays it to the IRS this year for the 2013 taxes, and when we file the final return after the business is completely insolvent, the IRS pays it back to us.

The amount we estimate we will get back is about what we would have sold our house for.

And it’s coming from the IRS.

This is such a God thing.

Strawberry lemonade cake | trial run

My baby is turning one at the end of the month (SAY IT AIN’T SO!) and my sister-in-law and I are planning a pink lemonade themed party. We are having a ball! She is awesome with decorations and the pretty visual stuff. I am much better with the food. I would like to make a strawberry lemonade ombre cake for the party, so of course I turned to Pinterest.

One of the prettiest cakes I found was this one. It’s important to me to make a cake totally from scratch because 1) bragging rights, duh and 2) my grandmother-in-law is very allergic to Yellow 6, which is found in, like, every boxed mix out there.

I decided to give this cake a trial run, and I’m really glad I did. I did two layers, one with the maximum amount of strawberry puree for coloring, and one with a 2:1 ratio of milk:strawberries for a lighter color. I added lemon zest and lemon essential oil to the whipped white chocolate ganache frosting, and here’s the results.


I am not even going to pretend that I’m a neat cook. Or that I have the multi-tasking ability to bake and photograph. Or, heck, that I can take really awesome food photographs. I’m practicing. I’m not great. Anyway, here’s the first layer.


My three year old was “helping.” She made a HUGE mess on the counter; this was the post-clean-up version!


Here’s the final product. This is what made me so glad I did a trial run. The whipped ganache deflated when I put it on the cake and, like, melted all over the cake. I’m not sure what went wrong. Maybe it wasn’t cool enough when I started whipping. Maybe I didn’t whip it long enough. Maybe adding the lemon zest and oil changed the chemistry of the frosting such that it couldn’t hold the air well enough. At any rate, although the cake is quite tasty, I am not happy with its visual presentation. I am also not impressed with how the strawberry puree colored the cake; you can’t really tell a huge color difference between the two layers and I would like something a little more drastic.

My plan now is to find a highly-rated two-layer white cake recipe and make it, divide it in thirds, dye each with varying saturation along the red spectrum, and then fill between the layers with strawberry jam and lemon curd. Not together, mind you; one layer of jam and one of curd. Then I’ll frost it with a lemon buttercream and decorate it with strawberry butterflies.

Until then, we will eat cake!