On another note, my husband and I have made the decision to start looking for a suitable house in the inner city of the place we have visited two years in a row now. I asked the man whom we’ve visited there before if he would recommend an agency that could help us in the process, and he directed us to a local non-profit that he says is the best.
This agency mainly works with renters (and usually first-time home buyers), to help them buy their own home. They have specific neighborhoods that they are targeting to get the occupancy rate up to 60% owner occupancy. That’s one thing you’ll find in many inner cities–the real estate leans heavily towards rentals. This agency believes that peoples’ lives will be more stable when they have their own home, a place to take pride and invest in, and that this in turn will help entire communities. I have to say that I agree with them.
Anyhow, we’re not exactly their target market, but they also help regular joes like us who want to find a home in the inner city. They have their own in-house lending, can give out loans for home improvements, have their own realtors, and will help you assess the work that needs to be done on a particular property.
I sent them an inquiry, outlining our needs and why we would like their help. I received a call the next morning and the lady was very helpful. I look forward to working with her and am glad to have an advocate for finding the right home for us. Especially because we live so far away, this would be a very difficult task if we had to go it alone.
So we have sent in our application to get pre-qualified with them and are entering into the process of finding the right home. We have a large family (7 people), we want to continue to provide foster care, and we want a house that will accommodate my parents living with us once my dad retires. As you can imagine, all this requires a house that has large common living areas, plenty of bedrooms, a yard, and as much garage space as we can find (not easy to get in the inner city!). Our needs are fairly unique and it might take some time to find the right place, although we realize that no place will be perfect. That’s why we thought we should start looking sooner rather than later. You don’t find giant houses that are still affordable on every street corner!
Interestingly, as I was looking at this agency’s website, I saw a button that said ‘jobs’ at the bottom of the webpage. Being curious, I clicked on it and looked at the one position they had available. It was for a Realtor’s Assistant. I read the job description, duties, and what they were looking for in a candidate, and thought it uncanny that this description seemed to have been written just for me. Seriously, the traits they were looking for, the strengths, the vision–all describe me perfectly.
I had no idea of working once we got to this city. I thought I would just go on as the homemaker and my husband would find another manufacturing job that he would utterly dislike, but go to because he had to. Then I got to thinking–would it make more sense for me to do a job I enjoyed and had a chance of advancing in, or for my husband to continue in a field he supremely dislikes? Would it be wrong for a stay-at-home mom to switch roles with her husband, and to become the main bread winner? Would it be wrong to leave my children home with their daddy, and for him to enter into the role of stay-at-home, homeschooling dad? My own personal convictions don’t rebel against this role reversal. The only thing that causes me a pang when entertaining this thought is that I wouldn’t be the one staying with the kids all day. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for eleven years, and this would be a huge shift for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being with my kids, but it is very stressful and demanding. Would Daddy be up to the task? What would my kids think of a switch in our roles? How would I deal with the change? I don’t know the answer to these questions, but after talking it over with my husband, he agreed that it would be okay to at least inquire about the job, trusting that if it isn’t for me, God will shut the door.
The online instructions said to call a certain number and leave a message answering three specific questions. I’m sure this process is meant to weed out candidates who aren’t really serious about the position. I wrote down the questions and took some time to think about my answers. I’m not sure if I am what they are looking for, but I left a message answering the questions, followed by my name and number. That was that. The ball is in their court and we’ll see what happens.
If they give me a call back, I’ll be excited. If they don’t, I won’t be too devastated. God has a plan for me and I’ve learned that sometimes you need to stick your neck out a bit to determine exactly what it is. You may go down some paths that lead to a dead end, but if you turn around and retrace your steps, you’ll eventually get to a place where you can start moving forward again. All I had to invest in this was some thought and a phone call. If I’m rejected, there isn’t much to lose.
I’ve told a few key people about the fact that we submitted this housing application, and that I applied for the job. I’d rather they knew about the potential for change right away, rather than waiting until one or both things are for sure and springing the news on them suddenly. It can take a little while for people to get used to and accept change.
As an interesting side note, I had been worrying the night before submitting the application that the Saturday gatherings with the teens wouldn’t be able to continue if we moved. A conversation the very next day laid those fears to rest, though. Another mom whose husband is one of the youth group leaders mentioned that they would like to start opening their home up to the teens on Saturdays, too. She asked if it would be okay to coordinate our efforts and alternate. Hmm, I guess God was already at work figuring out this situation while I was sitting there worrying that things wouldn’t work out. I’m such a doubter.
I am very excited about this process and what it means for our future. I want to go to this city to minister, but I also want to go as an example to the teens and families we are involved with. If an unremarkable family like ours, without any particular ministry training, can step out in faith to follow God’s leading, anybody can. On top of that, I hope to have a home large enough to accommodate guests so that they can visit us anytime and see what is happening in the city. We will only be a matter of hours away from our current community, and I can see the possibilities of collaboration extending beyond this place and into the city.
When I told one of the teens who I’m particularly close to about this possibility for change in our future, she was upset with me. She said she understood why, but that she didn’t like it. I told her that she could come visit us anytime and stay with us. I said we could have a room set up for her and she could stay as long as she likes. I am interested to see how our current relationships will spill over into the city. I want to keep the door wide open so that those who are interested in engaging in ministry there, even if it’s only on an occasional basis, will have the opportunity. I don’t know who would take us up on that offer, but I believe there are some who would be happy to.