After two years of hovering over local real estate listings, and a few months of going to see a handful in person, we’ve bought a house for the first time.
It was the first one that we liked as much in person — maybe even more — as we had online, and as we walked around the rooms with our realtor, we knew we’d probably put in an offer. Snow was coming down in thick flakes that day, so after the showing we bundled up the girls and slogged through the deep frozen carpet on the driveway, fumbling to buckle them in with cold fingers. We didn’t notice the color of the front door until we were backing out to the street, and there it was: a gray-green door.
A few months before, Lucy and I sat in the living room together, thinking about how to pray for a house. One of our friends had recently shared the story of how her family had come to find their house: she’d asked God and looked for a red front door. I’m not going to do Melissa’s story justice at all here, but in connection with Passover, a red door signified to her that children would be safe within that house — safe to grow, safe to thrive.Their house, where we have small group now, where the children chase each other and pretend to be ninja turtles and shout with laughter while the adults open their Bibles at the table — yes, it has a red door.
Lucy and I sketched out our ideas of what makes a house a home, and I asked her if she’d like to pray for some specific thing, something to help us know if a house was the one God had prepared for us. Yes, she said, and then: “Dear God, please put something gray-green in or on our house.”
Sometimes I think I wait with more anticipation for answers to her prayers than my own, because I have this idea that God takes a particular, serious joy in demonstrating his honor and faithfulness to children. But for whatever reason, that prayer got tucked away in the back of my mind for the time being, until it came surging back at the sight of that front door.
We made an offer on the house: the best we could, if we hoped to live wisely with our bank accounts for the next 5 years. The number wasn’t appallingly low, but it wasn’t close enough to the asking price that we felt confident the sellers would accept. We were okay with a refusal; we didn’t want them to accept less than they needed, either. The house had been on the market for a very short time, so they would likely get other offers in the weeks to come.
We put in the offer, and our realtor rounded the number down. The sellers countered, and we gave them the exact number — a paltry step up — and Y and I checked our emails on tenterhooks the next day. Finally he called me in the afternoon, and said, “If you click on the offer contract now, there are two signatures beside the sellers’ names on the bottom. I wonder if that means….?”
Today we drove into the garage and got everybody out to snap a photo on the porch first, since it seemed like the thing to do. Y unlocked the gray-green door, and then this husband who has always inclined more toward the practical than the sentimental swooped me up, and stepped over the threshold.
Tonight we are back in our “old” house, as we will be for a little while longer. These brown walls have been our place of refuge for five years. It’s the house where we spread clean swaddling sheets for new babies, where I recovered first from a shattered spirit and then a fractured tailbone, where we invited old friends to stay nights and hosted new ones for dinner, where Y launched a new job search when God gave him the boot from the old one. This house is brimful of stories, and it’s going to be hard not to think of them all when we say goodbye to it. But the new one will have its own memories too, and I’m glad that the first one begins right at the front door.