Friday, July 15, 2016

The Road I Didn't Want to Take

About six months ago, the husband got a call at work. His employer was pleased with the lessons he'd been writing on the side for their curriculum department. They wanted him to come and write full-time out of their central office, so they wanted to know if we'd be willing to move back to Utah.

Honey Bear works as a religious educator for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which runs a coordinated network of seminaries and institutes for teenagers and young adults around the country and the world. When he was hired out of college, the Church assigned him to teach seminary in Mesquite, Nevada, which is where we've lived for the last ten years.

I loved Mesquite. I thought I was a city girl--or at least a suburban girl--until I moved to Mesquite, at which point I realized I would be more than happy to live with my husband and kids in a remote cabin in the woods (with electricity, indoor plumbing, and an Internet connection, of course). I loved the small-town feel, the laid-back lifestyle, and even the heat.

In other words, I didn't want to move.

It didn't seem prudent to move, either. I mean, we'd bought our house in 2006. At the height--or depths--of the recession, our thousand-square-foot house was worth about a third of what we'd paid for it. The market had started to come up again, so it was now worth about two-thirds of what we'd paid for it, and thanks to careful planning (not to mention my book deals), we'd managed to pay down that other third. For the first time since we'd bought it, we were (almost) in the black.

After several intense days of pondering and praying, we decided to move forward (though, admittedly, Honey Bear was more gung-ho than I was). We'd always intended to move back to Utah someday, and who knew when this chance would come around again? Plus, the change of pace really excited Honey Bear. As much as he loved the classroom and his students in Mesquite, he was eager to write full-time. (Ha!) So we started de-junking in anticipation of an advanced appraisal. For a week or two, I converted all my writing time into cleaning, de-cluttering, and reorganizing the whole house. When the appraiser came, I knew I'd done everything I could. I thought I was at peace.

Then we got the appraisal back, and it was almost ten thousand dollars less than what we still owed on the house.

I'd mentally prepared myself for a slightly lower number, but not ten-thousand-dollars lower. And despite my efforts to move forward, all my doubts and reservations bubbled back up to the surface. This wasn't going to work out. We couldn't afford to move. Maybe I just didn't WANT to move. At one point, we were on the phone with an assistant administrator--there are, like, five or six guys who oversee the Church's seminaries and institutes in every corner of the world, and we were actually speaking to one of them--and I just broke down. I pressed my fist into my mouth so he wouldn't be able to hear me sobbing, but when he asked me a question, Honey Bear had to admit I wasn't capable of answering. Fantastic.

For days, I asked myself why I couldn't just have faith. While the emotional side of my brain struggled, the rational side of my brain acknowledged that this was a great opportunity and probably the right thing to do. But I was terrified of losing control of my finances, of getting in over our heads, of having to borrow money from our parents (even though they'd already offered). I had this tidy, safe idea of what I thought my life should look like, and I wanted everything to fit neatly inside it.

And yet we forged ahead. I went through the motions of working with the realtor to put our house on the market, and somehow, our spring break, which we'd already planned to spend in Utah, devolved into a de facto house-hunting trip. The mother-in-law had already scouted the best properties, and when Honey Bear and I walked into her favorite house, we instantly fell in love. After reviewing our finances and praying again, we decided to make an offer--and promptly lost the house in an unexpected bidding war.

The rest of that week was like a bad episode of House Hunters. After having such a similar reaction to the dream home, Honey Bear and I were never on the same page again. Before we'd even heard back on the dream home, he'd been cooling toward the house that was supposed to be our consolation prize, and though we saw several other houses he wanted to make an offer on, I never felt as strongly about any of them.

Then, late Friday night--we were planning to leave on Saturday morning--I happened to be going through the listings I'd gone through a thousand times when I noticed that a house we'd initially had on our list was back on the market. We immediately called our realtor and asked if she could get us in before we left, but our realtor did us one better--since the sellers were still out (and since their realtor happened to live in the same neighborhood), we could see the house that night. We went and took a look, came home and said another prayer, and made an offer on the house, which the sellers immediately accepted.


As we drove home the next day, I almost couldn't believe how everything had come together. It made me wonder if maybe this was going to work out after all.

But we still had to sell our house.

Actually, our house had received an offer in the week that we were gone (and only one day after going on the market). But it was even lower than our appraisal, and when we countered the offer, the prospective buyer never responded. Then we got offer number two, which was higher than the appraisal but still less than what we owed. Still, it seemed stupid to refuse it, so we resigned ourselves to somehow making up the difference between the sale price and our mortgage.

But when our buyer found out that Honey Bear worked for the Church and that they'd be facilitating the sale process, this prospective buyer backed out, too. Less than a week later, we received an identical offer, which also ended up falling through because this prospective buyer also wasn't interested in working with the Church. But before that offer fell through, we heard from a third buyer, who knew about the second buyer and wanted to make a competing offer. Long paragraphs short: we ended up selling our house for a thousand bucks over our asking price, which was already a few thousand bucks over what we owed.

Lots of people would probably chalk this up to good luck or coincidence, but I believe God was doing more with my life than I could do with it on my own. It's hard to let go, but I believe He loves and cares for us as a father loves and cares for his children. And because fathers are anxious to see their children succeed, He will help us steer our ships if we're willing to trust Him. In other words, when we let Him in, He won't ever let us down.


Adam Heine said...

Love this. I'm glad things are working out for you, Krista.

Unknown said...

Love when God exceeds expectations. :)
I'm so happy for your husband to do what he loves. I hope the move has been easy and you love your new lives.

Unknown said...

Faith is one of those things you know when you have it. And when you don't.

Ru said...

Well, welcome back :)

Anonymous said...

I had been wondering how this all turned out. So glad you sold the house and are settled in. Sometimes it's hard to have faith, but He honors it. Good luck to Honey Bear with the new job!

Unknown said...

Abraham 3:22-23, is but the portal. We are placed by God where we are needed and our impact on the hearts and minds of others is seldom even contemplated until the passage of the Veil. "The Five People You Meet In Heave", is a marvelous explication of the fact thet there is a flow to our lives, that mor eoften than we realize, we are directed where we are needed, by circumstances of fortuity, byt the gentle but firm interposition of God. You were need4ed in Mesquite. You ARE needed in layton. And perhpas you needed Mesquite, and now need Layton.
An mhéar Dé ..... mar thoradh ar do chroí isteach ar shaol daoine eile.

Unknown said...

And apologies for the typos. Ineptitude in digits....incurable.

Jessie Oliveros said...

Thanks for writing this Krista. It's really made me think more on my own wild ride of a year. I'm glad everything worked out for you in the end. Good luck in Utah!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Thanks, Adam. It's good to hear from you.

Thanks, Ryan. Our lives are certainly different now, but I'm trying to hold on to the things about my old life that I really loved.

Dana, perhaps you didn't mean it this way, but I found your comment so thought-provoking. I'll confess that I don't always feel like I know when I have faith and when I don't. If you happen to come back and see this comment, I'd love for you to elaborate on that point.

Thanks, Ru! Are you back in town, too? It seems like the last time I checked, you were in Texas or something:)

Thanks for your comment, Michelle. I especially loved this line: "Sometimes it's hard to have faith, but He honors it." I do believe that's true. He always reaches for us when we reach for Him.

Thanks for these thoughts, Dad:)

You're so welcome, Jessie. You'll have to tell me about your own wild ride of a year sometime.

Ru said...

Yup, in SLC :)