So back to the house hunting... In late spring of this year, Ry and I had some friends moving away who were selling their gorgeous home. They joked with us about how we should buy it from them. At first we were very against the idea since Ryan and I are still in debt from student loans plus we were unsure about settling down in Oneonta and just not feeling ready to become real adults just yet. Our plan was to wait till we pay off debt but then our friends kept asking us about it and the joking turned into serious consideration. We realized how much money we had been throwing away to rent for the last 4 years that it kind of made us sick so the idea of buying a house began to look very enticing.
Around this time in late Spring, once our college ministry, BASIC, was over for the semester, Ry and I went on a mini-vacation to Maine that was pretty life changing in retrospect. We took this trip as a little mini-retreat; a time to devote to God and seek answers about our future. So many questions were circling us. We had no clue if God really wanted me to start my design business, if Ryan should think about pursuing music more and we didn't really know if God wanted us to move away or hunker down in Oneonta.
Ry and I have always had dreams of living a big-city life, going to a mega hip church, and changing the world in a huge way. Living a quiet and normal 9-5 kind of life has never been something either of us have wanted. I think the idea of staying in Oneonta was also hard for me since I was born and raised here and even went to college here. It's almost like there is this stigma that you are a super lame person if you stay in the small town you grew up in. Not to mention, Ry and I are not fond of the brutally cold winters here, lol. In addition, over the last several years we had a lot of friends move away to bigger and "cooler" cities and every time this has happened, Ry and I have felt a bit jealous in a sense, let alone feeling lonely. So all of these reasons made us hesitate to look at buying a house here, but for some reason there was still a tug to do it.
So we went to Maine to just get away and talk with God but also to visit some friends who had recently moved there. These friends actually work at a really sweet church in NH and this church had actually expressed interest in having Ryan come on staff, so we were checking it out just to see how we felt. We did a lot of praying/searching and talking with God and each other that weekend to see if we should pursue this job or to stay in Oneonta. As we were driving home, we felt like we got our answer. We were ironically enough listening to a sermon podcast by the lead pastor for the church we had just visited in NH and his main point was Jim Elliot's quote, "Whereever you are, be all there". At that moment both Ryan and I had a huge sense of conviction and realized we had been focusing so much on the future instead of thinking about what God could do through us in Oneonta right now.
After that time it was like the Lord placed a deep love in our hearts for the people of Oneonta and especially the college students which was something we always came back to. The reality is that if we left our college ministry, BASIC, currently there wouldn't be anyone to take our place. This is one thing Ry and I have always been convicted about. We believed and still believe that if God ever wants us to leave Oneonta that He would/will provide someone to take our place of leadership so we don't leave BASIC without a leader. We would absolutely hate to see this ministry dissolve like we have seen others do when the leaders leave. As we started to have this new found love, it was also like the Lord started giving us visions and huge dreams for Oneonta. Why can't Oneonta have a huge and hip mega church? Why can't I do my design work in a small town or Ryan pursue his music while living in a small town? We don't have to live in a big city to reach our goals and dreams. And we know that if this is where God wants us then this is where we will be fulfilling our true purpose and will be the happiest!
I think a big thing I have been thinking about lately (maybe it's because I watch too much of the Walking Dead, lol) is when it comes down to it, life is not about where you live or how cool your town/city/career is, or how warm you are in the winter (though I really do wish NY was warmer) or how much money you make. Life is about loving people and being loved by people, and about family and church and bringing glory to God through it all. I am so extremely grateful that my entire immediately family lives in Oneonta and that Ry's family is only an hour away. The relationships we have established here with our students and friends is so precious to us and we wouldn't trade them for anything. (Sidenote: If you are someone who moved away to a sweet city I am not saying what you did was wrong and ungodly- that's silly. God has different plans for all of us and I guess I am just saying that some plans may not seem as "grand" but in God's eyes they are, and I am pumped to be called to a grand life in Oneonta!)
So the ultimate reason we decided to buy a house in Oneonta was because we felt like God wanted us too, and even though some things don't always make sense to us and they may not seem like what we totally want, I know God has a special purpose for our lives and I am super excited for it!
Note from Ry: I had been seeking the Lord for guidance in our next step in life for about 2 years without any clear indication on what was coming next. Up until this time in my spiritual walk, I had always been certain of the game plan that God had for me/us every step of the way. This was the first time that I had to simply wait and be still without any answers. It drove me nuts, and it was very difficult, and I knew I was driving Kimmy nuts because of my complaining all the time. The idea of simply staying in Oneonta and doing our part to make this city great was the first time I've felt a specific calling for Kimmy and I in about 2 years, so you can imagine how excited we got that we finally had solid direction and goals. It may seem silly to wait on God like this for direction, but frankly, I've found over those 2 years that doing anything outside of God's will is not worth time or energy.
So this is when the house hunting really began. We applied and got pre-approved for a loan which pumped us up because we found out we had EXCELLENT credit! Unfortunately our friend's house fell through for us, and this made us sad for a bit, but then we just started looking at more houses, and let me tell you; we looked at more houses. I think I stopped counting after house #35...
First of all, shout out to our amazing realtor, Philip Wright, who works through the Benson Agency in Oneonta. Anyone in this area who is looking to buy a house, go with Phil! He is an excellent agent and was a huge help! He basically became part of our family! One night after house hunting he even went out to dinner with my whole entire family to Moes.
It was insane how many different houses we looked at. It wasn't even that we were super picky, but there would always be certain problems that just wouldn't work for us like super low ceilings where Ryan had to duck while walking through the entire house, or master bedrooms on a different level than all the other bedrooms which isn't awesome when you want to have babies.
We also had a few big let downs of trying to get houses that we thought were perfect and then them falling through for one reason or another. The first house we put an offer on, we found out wasn't actually supposed to be on the market. The seller never told his own agent he was being forced to put his house on the market by his ex wife's lawyer because they were going through a not-so-nice divorce and he didn't actually want to sell the house. That was pretty upsetting news after we had looked at it 3x with our entire family and also spent a ton of time putting together the offer and writing a letter. Then there were two houses that we wanted to put an offer on, but they were put under contract right before we could put our offer in. So from June to the end of August was a pretty frustrating time. We knew God had a plan for this process, but we were hoping to have a house before the students came back in the fall. This is when we felt like maybe we heard God wrong and we weren't supposed to buy a house so we decided to take a break. However that break didn't last long when we found out the next day that our landlords were putting our current rental house on the market since they knew we were looking to buy. Now we had to find a new house to buy before someone bought the one we were currently living in!
This stressed us out a ton but looking back on it, I realize that it was just a way for God to show us that what we were doing was the direction He wanted us to continue going. At the end of August, a house came up on the market that Ry showed me. It was interesting, because it was a duplex. Multi-family homes were something we initially were totally against, but then started liking the idea. Both of my brother-in-laws told us that duplexes were the way to go for a first home because the income from the extra apartment can help pay your mortgage. I sent a group message to my family showing them the house and my brother-in-law, Dennis, wrote back instantly and said: "Put a full-price offer on it now". He was kind of kidding, but not entirely. This house was so beautiful and priced so well. We told Phil about it and were able to go see it a couple days later. Unfortunately it was a time that only a few of our family members could come and look at it with us, so Ryan Facetimed with his dad to show him the house. We fell in love with it instantly. It was the first house that we looked at that didn't smell weird too! That's when I knew, haha. But as we were starting to look around, Phil told us bad news. He said that the seller's agent told him that there was a cash offer but that it wasn't the full asking amount so if we really loved the house we needed to put in an offer on it right away and make it the full asking amount. We instantly decided to do this and left and forgot about the other 2 houses we were supposed to see after this one and wrote up an offer. It felt crazy and spontaneous especially since my brother-in-laws and my father-in-law hadn't looked at the house in person yet, but at the same time, we had peace about it and it felt so right.
Now came the true test of our patience and full trust in God to see this dream actually come true. We didn't hear back about the offer that we had made for several days. We found out that the seller was on vacation and didn't want to talk to her agent about the two offers on the table until she came back two weeks later. Talk about suspense! This is when Ryan and I really upped our prayer game. Back in May when we went to Maine we were reading a book called The Circle Maker which I spoke about in my first blog post. We felt like this was a dream that we needed to fight hard for and pray circles around. We asked our family and friends to join us in prayer too and began fighting for this house.
We found out when the seller got back that she wanted to go with our offer but that her family was telling her to go with the cash offer. She asked for more time to think about it. UGH! haha. We kept praying. All throughout this time Ryan and I would drive by the house, and pray over it or bike to the house and back and pray over it. My sister and I went for a run on the road that it's on and we prayed over it. It was in our thoughts and prayers constantly.
A couple weeks later after being told for almost 2 weeks that we would get an answer every single day that passed and never did- we finally got an answer. I still remember; I was in my parents house doing P90X Stretch with my sis and bro-in-law on a Sunday when Ryan got the call from our agent that the seller decided to go with the cash offer. My heart sank, but for some weird reason there was still this hope that I had and I wasn't about to throw in the prayer towel just yet.
The next day we found out that the man who had made the cash offer didn't actually have the cash yet and was waiting to get his money from an estate that he was supposed to share with his siblings. So there was still hope that maybe something could fall through. We continued to pray. Ryan and I even wrote a letter to the seller explaining how much we loved her house and would love for her to go with us if anything falls through. A week later we found out that the cash offer still didn't have the cash and that it could take a while. The seller agreed to give the cash offer guy 1 full month to wait and see if he got the money! WHAT!? This was annoying to us because it was at the end of September at this point and we were going to have to wait until October 30th to see if he came up with the cash, and only if he didn't, we could get the house. It was crazy too because our rental house at this time had a potential offer on it, so we really needed to get some clear answers, and move out soon.
Oh man, did we start praying. At this point we really felt like this house was the one and that we just needed to continue to trust God for it. A couple days later while I was at work, I glanced down at my phone to see a text from Ry responding to Phil saying "WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!" And then Ryan started calling me so I picked up and Ryan told me that Phil just texted us saying to not get our hopes up since it's not in writing yet but that the sellers agent told us she has decided to go with us and accept our offer!!! I broke down crying instantly and everyone at the office was rejoicing with me. It was such great news!
After that moment we got things rolling as quickly as possible so we could get into the house before the holidays. It seems like it has been a long month and a half since she accepted our offer back on October 4th, but I hear these things usually take a while and I am grateful we haven't had too many snags along the way. Thankfully the seller is so lovely that she is letting us prepossess the house before we officially close on December 2nd. It really has been a great experience overall dealing with her. She is the sweetest lady ever and we text all the time now, haha. We plan on having her over to visit often (She is an elderly lady who is moving to a smaller apartment in Oneonta).
So here is my huge thanks to God for always looking out for us. I am so incredibly grateful for this house, and am so excited to live in it and make so many memories in the years to come! It's a true testament that God has a plan for you even though sometimes it doesn't seem that way. So be encouraged and please keep pressing into Him and never give up on your dreams! God does answer prayers and your dreams can come true!!! Thank you to all of you who prayed with us and believed with us! Also huge shout out to my girl Hannah Boulier who took most of the pictures below and also to my Aunt Jeanie who took a couple as well. Ry and I look forward to having you over to visit in our new home! THANK YOU!!