- Within Budget (first priority)
- At least 3 bedrooms
- 2 full baths
- An extra space of some sort (and the garage doesn't count, though people in Texas, for whatever reason, believe that it does.)
Somewhere at about the 'garage' point things become more "wants" than necessities. They are high on the priority list, but not deal breakers. The garage vaguely fit the deal breaker category, but many of the homes in our price range, surprisingly, had garages. Little did we know, a garage would be the least of our worries. It was the basement that threw us off guard.
When we sat down with our realtor the first time to explain our wants / needs, we read her our list and she literally laughed out loud (LOL) when we read the word 'basement'.
Aaron and I saw no humor in the matter and stared at each other like deer in headlights. What was so funny?
It was then that she explained to us that homes in Texas just aren't built with basements. The ground cannot support them, and in thirty years of selling real estate, she had sold one... yes, one... house with a basement.
For a Southern Illinois girl who lives in a basement during storms, this was less than settling.
Once I finally, yet unwillingly, wrapped my head around the idea that a basement was out of the picture, we began looking at homes. We put in offers on not one, not two, not even three homes. It was home number 4 that we ended up settling in, but lovely Texas soil reared it's ugly head in our dream house number 3.
Perfect space, perfect square footage, fantastic back yard, ideal neighborhood. They even accepted our 'perfect price'. Fast forward to the inspection and $17,000 worth of hidden foundational problems were found. Not only that, the problems were so bad, the foundation repair company that always brings their work with 100% lifetime guarantee said 'NO WAY' to guaranteeing it... ever... at all.
That didn't sound like a popular resale, so we bowed out. Our realtor agreed it was a great move, but her comment next stuck with me, "If you own a house in Texas, you own some kind of a foundational problem."
And I'm sure you wonder where all of this is heading. (Don't worry, so do I.)
The longer we've lived here, the more we have learned. Foundation problems here are due to drought. The ground is not a little dry, it's way dry. Walk around an area that's not 'watered' and you will see large, sometimes gaping, cracks in the ground. The cracks are unsettling enough that you wonder if you are standing atop the next yahoo news thread of a sinkhole.
For this reason, it's not uncommon for people to have sprinkler systems. This seemed like a lavish upgrade for us at first, we quickly learned they are all but standard, and they aren't just so your grass is green. They also own soaker hoses. These hoses lay along the outside of your foundation and 'water' your foundation, because those big nasty cracks I mentioned previously, yeah, they'll show up under your house (read: eventually in your foundation) if that ground is not kept watered. (And, another fun fact, most DON'T own gutters, because they WANT the rain to run off their houses near the foundation.)
The vicious circle comes in the drought that we are perpetually in. This means that our foundation is not being watered naturally through rain, but normally means that we are under water restriction DUE to the drought which limits how much we can water. That, my friends, = foundation problems.
And for the first time I felt a vested interest in these lyrics:
"In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song.
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm."
Did I mention we found a large crack through our garage floor the other day? We did. It's devastating, really. I mean, when you are on a tight budget all you hear are dollars 'cha ching, cha ching,' whether it comes in the form of fixing, or loss in selling, it's dollar signs. It's worry. It's uneasiness.
But this morning, when we sang those words, I appreciated it for the first time. My foundation.... not the foundation of my house, but the foundation that I stand on perpetually, eternally, is crack free. It is not uneasy. It requires no worry. There is no sinkhole looming, ready to swallow me up. No drought strong enough can shake it. My foundation, yes, my foundation is firm.
And those storms I was worried about. You remember? The entire reason I needed that basement... yeah... they say - in homes without basements - you should gather in the most interior room, under stairs if possible, and if there is a commode, you should hang on to the commode (the plumbing runs deeper than the sinks... who knew?). Risking sounding sacrilegious, Jesus is better than any commode. His truth runs deeper. There is no storm that can shake me, be it physical or figurative, because my foundation IS Jesus.
When the cornerstone is strong, the entire structure remains sound. When Jesus is my foundation, there is nothing that can shake me. My I remain strong in the Lord, pressing into Him, and standing confident on His promises.
The ground may be dry, the storm may be fierce, but I shall not be shaken.