Comeback Post

This post was supposed to be a continuation of this post. But now it’s a comeback post.

Over 2 years ago, my husband I bought a house. I was going to continue telling you everything that we had to do to get the house and everything that happened leading up to the closing, but it’s been so long now, I’ll keep it brief. When I last left you, I was going to continue this narrative by telling you about the letters I had to write the mortgage company, excusing myself and explaining how I came to have so much debt and why I deserved to have a house. I must have made a compelling argument for myself because they approved the underwriting. From there, the process went slowly but surely. There were hang ups along the way, but ultimately, we did get our home and moved in on December 3rd, 2014.

Since then, life has happened. Through it all, that job I was supposed to lose, I still have. And we’re still in this house. Day to day is usually comprised of getting up early, going to work, coming home, making dinner, trying to spend time with hobbies, some new some old, winding down by reading, going to bed, and then doing the same the next day. In fact, my life has been so routine and so mundane, I want to start blogging again, writing, updating this site, doing anything to combat the boredom. Tristan and I are no longer happy with the norm here. I will explain in later posts how we are not happy, how boredom almost killed me, and how much has happened in the last 2 years.

Anyway, I will end this post here because it’s such a different end from the beginning. Until the next one.

Home for the Holidays

I titled this post “Home for the Holidays,” because I’d like to write a post about our new house! In the past 3 months, Tristan and I have gone through the agonizing, emotionally-charged process of buying our first home…and it was worth it. Below is an Instagram that was taken earlier this month of our house the weekend after we moved in on December 3rd.

our house

To say that I can explain to you how this happened would be a lie – I can’t explain it; it was all God’s doing. But I will try to summarize the series of events that lead to the purchase of this beautiful home.

It was the end of September. By this time, Tristan and I had been looking for another rental property for months. The longer we looked, the further from the city our search took us, but nothing seemed the right size, for the right price that wasn’t falling apart. It was my prayer that we would find another place to live before it got too cold since it felt like we had barely survived 2013’s polar vortex in our brick and plaster apartment. I remember praying one night, with tears in my eyes, that I just didn’t want to be cold again. And I didn’t really want more of the same dirty places that I had become used to – I felt that I had tried still, to make the apartment nice and home to me- but it wasn’t , and after our first winter there I once again felt trapped in a pit I couldn’t escape.

One day, our home search took us to Pottstown. It was a old, weird, blue house with faded paint. It had been lived in quite a few times though, upon walking through it, I couldn’t imagine how any one stayed there for any significant length of time. The walls were all in weird places, the rooms and stairs were tiny, even by my standards; the place had seen better days. But instead of leaving in tears as I had left many other potential homes before, I was past that, and determined to buy something – nothing we could rent seemed worth it, so we reluctantly decided that the apartment would have to do until we could buy something. Then another couple came to the house as we were about to leave. We talked a while and they advised us to look on Craig’s List. “Why not?,” we said, “What do we have to lose at this point?”

That night, while I had all but forgotten the encounter, Tristan was in his office, entering a search into Craig’s List for our desires in a home – and there it was, this house. He called me to come in an look at it. The listing detailed that the owner would help the buyer qualify for a mortgage, even assist with closing costs, and that even an individual with bad credit could qualify under the right circumstances and for a higher monthly payment. The house looked nice and the appliances were new – it had been renovated. We figured that it was a long shot but I didn’t see the harm in looking at it in person and neither did he. I made the call.

Days later, we had toured the house and instantly became impressed with the condition of it and the renovations that had been done. It was beautiful. Everything was new. The appliances were still wrapped in plastic. It was not too big, but not small. It had bamboo floors, and lot of light coming in. It was perfect.

We ended the tour in the basement and stood there talking with the realtor about our credit and past struggles with housing.
“Well, how much can you put down?” he asked. I told him.
“How quickly do you want to move?”
I hesitated, but answered, “As soon as possible…I’d like to move in November, before it starts snowing.” I said.
He said that he thought that could be done.

I called my mom that night. I told her that we may have found a house. As if she knew what was on my mind she said, “To rent, or to buy?”
“To buy.” I said.

Another few days or so had passed before we heard from him again. He had talked with the owner; she was a lady in her late 50s/early 60s, and wanted to be closer to her family, thus, deciding to abandon her project – the house would soon be buying from her. “She has decided to sell it to you.” he said. I was floored, because I knew that other people were looking at it. He said the neighbors liked us and advised the owner to sell it to us! A move of God, for certain. I know because can’t explain it.

I remember little about what happened next except that the next week at work I was speaking with our broker, telling him my life story in dollar amounts and giving a complete account of all my financial sins. After I had deferred my student loans (twice during the process) I just remember him saying, “Okay. You should be fine to buy the property.” I kept repeating those words in my head.

The weeks following were a blur. I remember meeting our realtor at the Starbucks by my work (which I still go to…that’s another post) to sign the agreement of sale – the first stack of MANY papers I would sign in the next month. Since we had not gotten pre-approved before we signed the agreement, we had to go through underwriting and loan approval, which was the first of several nerve-racking, tear-inducing situations to resolve. To make a long story short, we were figuratively biting our nails the entire time…

First, the loan needed to get approved – which eventually happened with a small mortgage lender that would actually take a financial “lost cause” like us, with our mountain of student loan debt and bad credit wrought by the mistakes of our past. Of course, that meant that the lender was slow and the waiting was unbearable.

Underwriting took weeks. I was crazy with worry. I made calls to our broker and realtor all day long. I scraped together everything I had on every penny I spent. I found myself writing formal letters in defense of my past financial mistakes, promising that I was going to do whatever it took to fix my credit. ‘Yes,’ I thought ‘I want this more than anything. I’ll do whatever it takes.’ And I did…

A Letter to my Mother

To be honest, on every Mother’s Day since I’ve been married I’ve made an effort to avoid human interaction for obvious reasons (i.e. people wishing me a happy Mother’s Day and asking me about having children). It’s been awkward since I got married and is even more so now that I’ve been married 5+ years, so I just tend to stay in and forget about it. Of course, like any good daughter I’ll call my mom and my grandmother today, but I’ll still stay inside.

Today though, I’m choosing to “celebrate” it a different way; not with spite or annoyance, not this time. No. I’m blogging about it, which I wouldn’t normally do, but his Mother’s Day is different because today I’m in awe of my mother so I’m writing a short, informal letter to her.

Mop,

You might think this is sappy and weird but I’m writing my thoughts down for you today because I wanted to give you something, if only my thanks. This year I realized something: when you were my age, you were pregnant with me. That fact hit me like a brick…in the face. You are so much braver than I am. I could NEVER do what you did. My life is so different from yours in the late 80s and it’s crazy to think about what it was like to be in your shoes 27 years ago. Today I realize that I’m so, so thankful for you sticking it out and being a mom to me and Christie, taking care of us, raising us, laughing and crying with us…

Thank you changing me, feeding me, bathing me, dressing me, carrying me around, etc.
Thank you for packing my lunches, defending my honor, teaching me, giving me rides, and entertaining everybody else’s kids.
Thank you for tolerating my teenage years and worrying about me.
Thank you for holding me when I felt destroyed.
Thank you for celebrating with me when I got engaged and again when I got married.
Thank you for giving me space when I moved away.
Thank you for trusting me when I say I’m okay, despite how my life may look sometimes.
Thank you for STILL being my mom from a distance.

Remember 2006? That was the worst. I was just thanking the Lord the other day that he didn’t take you home back then, because honestly, I still need you.

Thank you for everything…I MEAN EVERY LITTLE THING, Ma. Everything you taught me is with me everyday. I love you. I’d hug you today if I could…and probably cry.

Your eldest daughter,

Jackie

Update: Move on

It’s 2am as I write this. I’ve just come home from work and, as usual, I’m more hungry than tired.

I’m losing my job. I have been working the night shift for about 5 months now. But what I came on here to say is that last Monday I found out that my last day in the office is officially May 23rd.

My co-workers might call me crazy, but to me the news was bittersweet as business owner, seeing as I can’t seem to “hold down” “two jobs.” The news came unexpectedly enough, there was shock and tears; I wasn’t crying. I didn’t feel much of anything because I didn’t want to – the reasons I’m losing this job aren’t good enough for my tears besides, it is only a job, and if you know me at all you know that there are much more important things to me than money. I had my reservations about this job (this post explains) but I took it anyway and began working in January. Over the last 4 months, company changes, lay-offs, and a couple CEO visits have come and gone, but I did what I felt was best and most logical (of course): work day to day and take things as they come. Now I know there is no such thing as job security, I’ve known that for years, but it still came as a surprise when my whole department was ushered into the conference room and handed an intimidating navy folder containing a severance date and agreement. Apparently, the company is losing money something fierce. “Well, that was fun”, I whispered to myself.

I tried to console my co-workers but I’m finding that it’s hard to comfort those whom you feel like you no longer relate to. There was a time I was afraid too. I was afraid of losing income, jobs, houses, cars, things. But then I lost them and as unpleasant as it felt, it made me strong and I learned to move on. I’m not insensitive, I thought, I’ve just been here before and it’s no big deal.

I’m moving…maybe? Our apartment has presented its own set of frustrations that have sent me down into the depths of disappointment and “I don’t understand this.” Truth be told I was excited when we moved in here. Oh sure, I spent many hours cleaning, sanitizing, and doing my best to pull smells out of the carpet. I thought by last June I had had everything set – I was contented, but not for long. In almost exactly one year there has been a termite infestation, 4 dead mice and a rat somewhere undiscovered, a leaky roof, a twice-broken water heater, a washer replacement, noisy neighbors who do nothing but fight and party until daybreak, and the coldest, most brutal winter I’ve ever endured and with hardly any heat, as it would all seep out of the empty walls. Tristan and I then vowed to never spend the winter like that again; we had to be out before the cold set in in the fall. Disheartened but finally thawed enough to function, we started looking for a new home, but our search has yielded nothing thus far.

Lately, we’ve been thinking that perhaps we’re in the wrong place. I like Philly, but I’m not attached to it. I don’t think I ever was as attached to this city as much as I wanted to be at first – I really wanted to put down roots here, for this to be the place for me, my home. But with the desire to move and the search for a new home producing no results, and now the loss of yet another job, I’ve decided that all I’ve ever done here is survive, but not live; I’m resting here for a moment, but I’m still searching for the perfect place to settle and take root. It is unclear yet where we’ll go to finally be at peace, but at this point I will go anywhere if it means I can finally stop searching. I do not want a life, I have decided, where all I do is try to survive until my next meal, next sleep, next job or whatever. I have decided that I want to LIVE and thrive and be, without the cares of having to pack up or get rid of everything, change my mind about who I want to be, and move again.

I still live day to day. I still try to have more good days than bad, regardless of my location. The city does what it does. The CEO of my soon-to-be former job does what he does. And I do what I do, move on.

I don’t even know yet if I want to keep pursuing the same path in web design, or anything I had done previously. The job has helped me rediscover my love of writing, perhaps there’s something there…

Threefold

“And though a man might prevail against him who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 AMP

I thought I’d share something that I find very beautiful that the Lord has revealed to me just a moment ago.

I love Ecclesiastes, it’s one of my favorite books in the Bible. I’ve heard people say it’s dark, and it is! But I like it because I feel that it’s overflowing with wisdom for how to effectively live life in our fallen world.

This afternoon, however, I was commenting on a post about marriage and singleness and I referenced Ecclesiastes 4:12 explaining that a good marriage is attainable, not without trials and hardships, but it is possible for a marriage to be victorious in the midst of those things. I believe, I stated in my comment, that a good, strong marriage of enjoyment and teamwork [like Tristan and I share] is one that maintains the pattern that God designed: GOD FIRST, then husband, then wife. I have found, that when you keep with this “blueprint”, your troubles make you both stronger, your hardships make you both wiser and when you fall, every time you fall – you see a side to your spouse that you never knew and you fall with them, and in love with them all over again; you both, when in your proper, God-ordained places, always have an eye on the divinity of His strength and realize just how weak you both are – which only lends itself to His power.

(And I have learned this only through trail and error.)

As I was writing this, a revelation struck me: Have you ever wondered why the preceding sentence is:

“And though a man might prevail against him who is alone, two will withstand him.” and then Solomon writes:

“A threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
?

That’s not a typo. I’m not sure what Solomon meant when he wrote that, but somehow I think the Lord was referring [at least in part] to marriage.

The Biblical definition of marriage is two people with God at the center; the husband is to love and care for the wife, being ready to die for her (Ephesians 5:22-31). The wife is his “helper”, meaning that she is his second in command, his comrade, who is to submit to his [higher] authority (i.e. consider his orders for the family, and follow through) and fight along side him; God binds them together – Just as He did Adam and Eve.

I believe the threefold cord is a deeper look into the union of two people, where God is the core and the center of the two whose lives are wrapped around Him.