Saturday Snippets from a Week of Travel
2 July 2022 | 12:07 pm

Before too much time gets away from me let me record a few last snippets from this past week of travel and house buying:

--I am astonished at how hard it can be to wire money. We couldn't do it with our online banking because we couldn't get the right combination of ATM pin and numbers on the back of the card. So we went to the bank. We had multiple forms of ID, most of them with pictures. But the bank had to call the phone number connected to the account for security reasons. Unfortunately we opened that account so long ago that the phone number on file was our home phone so we couldn't pick up the phone and tell the bank worker in front of us what the security number was.

--Eventually we gave up, and we got an old-fashioned cashier's check. I have expected to get to the lawyer’s office and have him chide us for using such an old fashioned way of delivering money. Instead he says he prefers a cashier's check because there is so much wire fraud out in the world.

--He took our check, we signed a few documents, and 10 minutes later we owned a house free and clear. It was the easiest home closing we have ever been part of.

--As we were driving out and about, we saw a small bear across from the Asheville regional airport, which is actually in Arden NC—not a wilderness area. I suppose we should add getting a bear proof trash can to our list of things we need to purchase.

--One of the advantages of having a 6th floor condo is that we have had less trouble with pests of all sorts:  no roaches, no rats, very few bugs. I will miss that aspect of condo life.

--After the house closing, we went to our newly purchased house to unload a carload of fragile things, mostly lamps and framed pictures and four boxes of china from the china cabinet.  Then we needed food so we went to our favorite pizza place. Unfortunately because of staffing issues, dining in was not an option. So we drove in the other direction and ended up having a very good meal at the 12 Bones Brewery. I am not always impressed with brewery food, but this barbecue and the side dishes were delicious. We shared a flight of beers, along with a larger glass of a stout that we were fairly sure we would like; they were all tasty. The beer was the most reasonably priced beer I've had in a restaurant during non happy hour times. This brewery is just a few miles from our new house, so I imagine we will be going back--however next time we will probably share a main dish because the portions are huge.

--On our drive back south on Thursday, we stopped at the campus of LTSS, more commonly known as Southern Seminary. We walked around the campus, which was a nice break.

--Our drive back was grueling:  foggy mountains to begin, lots of rain to end. But we made it home safely. Not everyone was this lucky. We sat on I 95 at Melbourne, Florida for over an hour. When we finally got to the accident site, it seems an 18 wheeler had plowed into the guard rail--and there was a car in between them. I can't imagine that anyone in the car made it out with no injury, but perhaps. I said a wordless prayer--for them and for all of us, trapped between a speeding semi and a guard rail (interpret that symbolism how you like--it seems to apply to most of us, except those at the very top).

Planning, Coincidences, and God
1 July 2022 | 1:12 pm

 Yesterday I wrote about how we came to buy a house at Lutheridge from a non-spiritual point of view, a more rational point of view. Today I want to write about a different angle. Let me confess from the beginning that if you told me such a story, my rational brain might not accept what you were saying.

I fell on April 15th, and I knew that I had done something to my wrist.  I thought it was likely to be a sprain because I didn't hear any cracking sound and it didn't really hurt too much. But I didn't go to the emergency room or go to get x-rays. I was planning on leaving to go on a retreat in a few days, plus it was Easter weekend, and I had a lot to do. But really, some part of me really thought I had only sprained it.

In retrospect, if I had gone and got an x-rays before I left, I probably wouldn't have been able to go on the retreat because I would have needed surgery. As my sister said, if I hadn't gone on the retreat, I wouldn't have made the comment to my pastor friend about still wanting a Lutheridge house, and she might not have thought of me when she learned of the house coming on the market.

is this the way God works in the world? I don't believe that God made me trip and fall and break my wrist, so why would I believe that God might be involved in other ways? But the pieces have fallen into place almost effortlessly, and when that happens I do tend to believe, even as my rational brain scoffs, that God is at work on some level.  Even if I don't believe that God is at work in my life this way, I do tend to think that a decision is the right one if it's all coming together effortlessly--even as I admit that it may just be coincidence.  On the flip side, if things aren't working out, I don't necessarily say, “Well God must not want it to be this way.”

I do think that we came to have this house through a remarkable series of events:  call them coincidences, call them God sightings, call it luck. The people selling the house have a deep connection with my pastor friend, as do we. A certain level of trust was already there because of these deep connections. We had seen the house before, so we didn't feel like we needed to spend 24 hours in the car to see the property one more time. The people selling the house wanted to sell to someone with deep connections to the camp, which we have--my mother was a camp counselor there during one of its earliest summers being open. And the biggest piece of all:  we had recently sold our house in a flood zone in a hot market, so we had money to invest.

Luck, coincidence, God at work, friends looking out for us, planning both careful and haphazard—perhaps our latest housing adventure is a mix of them all.  I am so grateful.

Our Next Housing Adventure
30 June 2022 | 7:38 am

We bought a house yesterday.  Here is the view looking from the street at the house:

You enter the house by going down the side path:

The doors are accessed from the deck on the back:

In some ways, the fact that we bought a house is unremarkable; we've bought 5 properties before.  But when we sold our last house, the house in the historic district in South Florida, I thought it might be the last time we would be homeowners.  We had managed to sell in a hot market--why reinvest in real estate?

There are many reasons, of course.  But here's our reason:  we had what feels like a once-a-decade chance to buy in a neighborhood we've had our eye on for years, the neighborhood of residential houses at the church camp, Lutheridge (where we go for family reunions at Thanksgiving and the location of my favorite retreats and where my spouse was on the board), which is in Arden, near Asheville, NC. For a while those houses were non winterized houses that were built in the 1950's and ‘60s. Then other houses were added to the neighborhood. As houses in that neighborhood have come on the market, we've thought about them, but the time was never right.

In fact, we had looked at the one we just bought before, back in 2011 when it was about to be offered for sale, so we had a good sense of it. It needed work then, and it still needs work, but it has good bones; it was built in 1976.  The people who bought it in 2012 used it as a vacation house.

We remembered it as "the green house."  Below is the kitchen in all of its avocado glory. 

The wood paneling is also green, as are the rafters.  Here's a view of the loft with the doors leading to storage under the eaves,  a picture taken as I stood on the stairs looking into the loft:

At the time we saw it in 2011, it had green shag carpeting throughout, even in the bathrooms.  Now it's just subflooring.

Here's the view facing the other way:

When we saw it in 2011, my mom was thinking about having a Lutheridge house as a place for family reunions, but it's too small for that.  In 2011, this house wouldn't have been a possibility for just my spouse and me.  We had jobs in South Florida, where we also had property:  a house that needed work and a condo we couldn't sell.  

Back in April, as the Create in Me retreat ended, I said to one of my pastor friends who lives at Lutheridge, "I still dream of having a Lutheridge house."  A few days later, she told me that this one would soon be available.  I almost didn't mention it to my spouse.  I assumed he would be uninterested or that it would be out of our price range.

Instead, my spouse called the owner, they chatted, and my spouse came up with an offer that was close to what they had in mind.  My spouse has said he always wanted to work on rehabbing a house when no one was living there and when there wasn't a high pressure timeline. Now he can have that experience.  I will still go to live at Wesley Seminary where I will be a full-time student, and he will be at Wesley part of the time and at the house part of the time. He will get trees and nature and a house project. Having a house project is not something that appeals to me, but this will be his project.

My pastor friend said, "The timing is excellent. Seminary housing is fine, but feels like a perch more than a nest. Now you’ll have both!"

I couldn't have said it any better.

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