Thursday, July 5, 2012

The House Saga

The Beginning...
Twelve years ago we had one weekend in Atlanta to find a house.  It was quite a whirlwind tour, especially since Tim was expected to be reporting to his new office in Atlanta in just 4 weeks.  Our realtor took us all around Lawrenceville and Duluth looking at houses.  We found out about a new neighborhood under construction in Lawrenceville.  It looked like the perfect starter home community.  It was within our budget.  It was new, needing no repairs, and the values were just going to go up.  This is the house we found and fell in love with:

Of course at that time, it was just a shell of a house under construction.  We took home the information, so we could pray about the decision and talk it over.  From our home in Orlando, we signed and faxed the purchase contract on this house.  We were excited.  It was such a dream for us, especially Tara.  We were so excited to move into our new home in our new city in our new state as newlyweds.

The Next 7 Years...
We loved this house, and it served as our home for 7 years.  We brought both of our babies to this home, had many birthday parties, and plenty of memories.  The house that seemed so big became very tiny as our kids grew, so we moved into a house that we planned to stay in until our kids moved out.  (That is a whole other story…)  

The Landlord Years- The Beginning...
We felt God telling us to rent the home out, so that is what we did.  Being a landlord is hard work, but I (Tara) found the work rewarding.  We learned so much during our time as a landlord.  God gave us opportunity to minister to people we would never had met.  He continually taught us to trust on Him.  Even when times were tight and renters would leave without paying their rent, leaving damage and grossness behind, God showed Himself faithful. 

The Decision, Part 1...
About two years ago we committed to follow God as He led us to Papua New Guinea- the other side of the world.  We had to begin thinking and praying how we were to deal with both of the houses we owned- the one we lived in and this house in Lawrenceville.  We prayed and researched.  The housing market kept bottoming out- we thought it had hit bottom and then it went further down.  We were one of the many with an upside down mortgage.  At that time the concern in the government and banking industry was for those in their primary residences.  The investors had very few options, if any, for refinancing or selling.  

We had a renter who had just moved in, and it looked like a promising long-term rental with great references.  We felt this may be God’s provision for our time in PNG.  The rent was enough to cover our financial obligations.  We had replaced all the appliances within the last two years.  We left it in God’s Hands.  He gave us good friends who had agreed to manage our properties as their gift to us.  They are trustworthy and hardworking.  God provided an extra financial gift that allowed us to have money in savings for emergency repairs or vacant months.
The Drama Begins...
While we were in our training course and village time earlier this year, the renter moved out.  She left the house dirty and in horrible condition.  It took weeks and lots of hard work by our friends to get it ready to put back on the rental market.  Last week we learned the rental rates have gone down a LOT in the neighborhood.  At one time we could get close to $1100 per month, but we were now looking at $900 on the higher end of the rent.  We weren’t planning on that much of a drop.  We started praying and asking God what we could do. 

The Newest Occupants...
On Saturday our friend went to the house to get measurements for blinds.  As she walked in, she noticed the smoke alarm on the floor and a back bedroom door closed.  She had an uneasy feeling, so she walked back out and called the police.  The police came and walked through the house with her.  It appeared someone had decided to make our house their temporary home.  The fire extinguisher had been sprayed through the master bathroom.  There was a mattress in the master bedroom closet.  There was writing all over the walls, and it appeared the shower was being used.  They secured the house, again, and the utility companies were called on Monday to be shut off immediately. 

The newest residents did not appreciate all of their luxuries being turned off, especially the a/c in the extreme heat Atlanta is experiencing.  On Wednesday some of our friends were able to go for an additional assessment of the damage and take pictures. They found a lot more damage- holes in the walls, burns in the carpet, and the appliances gone.  Another police report was made and more security measures taken.  Before we thought the damages would involve some elbow grease and a small amount of repairs, but we are now talking several thousand dollars in repairs, and more time off the market.

The Decision, Part 2...
Two years ago we thought about either doing a short-sell or a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure on this house.  It was becoming pretty common for those in tough financial situations and a way to start over. God would not allow us to even begin pursuing the option. He was very clear to both of us that we were to honor the contract we signed to pay the mortgage on this house. We still have that same conviction, and it is getting harder to follow.  We do have a hope to lower our payments through a loan modification or refinance, but is this the answer?  We don’t know. We are in a tighter financial situation with the rents falling, the extra damage in the house, time off the market, and the neighborhood in decline.  We just see more money going out and none coming in to cover the cost. 

The Reality...
***Caution- honesty & rant alert.  This may not read like a missionary blog is ‘supposed’ to read.***
So, where does that leave us?  Well, it leaves us frustrated and angry and wondering what is our next step.  It leaves us feeling violated and disappointed and mad. It leaves us wishing we didn’t have to deal with this.  It leaves us with questions.  Aren’t we doing God’s will and following His call on our lives?  Why is this happening?  Why now?  Why did God allow this to happen?  Why do we have to drag our friends through this, too?  Yes, we have our times of self-pity and anger and self-righteousness.  I want to scream and holler.  “IT’S NOT FAIR!!!!!”  We don’t understand why this is happening.  We’ve faithfully paid our bills, even the HOA bill.  We left all the comforts and familiarity of our home to follow God’s calling to Papua New Guinea.  (This would be some of that self-righteousness.)  Why is it that people who aren’t responsible (by our terms, of course) get a ‘free ride’?  Why are things not turning out to be the way we think they should be?  WHY? WHY? WHY?????  By the way, have I mentioned I’m not a very patient person?  I want to take action and see results, NOW!  Why is this happening during a holiday week back in the States?  C’mon, we all know that no one actually works when the 4th of July falls during the middle of the week.  Yeah, some people may show up, but really work?  Yep, a week of action missed.  Doesn’t seem fair or right.
***Now I return you to your regularly scheduled blog.***

The Future...
We don’t understand at all, so we cling to our Father.  We cling to the promises in His Word.  We cling to the hope we have that we will see God’s Hand through all of this.  We cling to how He has provided in the past.  We cling to the prayers of our friends, family, and supporters.  Please pray with us!  Please pray God will be glorified in our decisions.  Please pray God will be very clear as to what steps we are to take next.  Please pray we will continue to focus on our work here in Papua New Guinea. 

The Prayers...
Pray these promises for us:
  • “We know that ALL things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28
  • “What then are we to say about these things?  If God is for us, who is against us?” Romans 8:31
  • “Refrain from anger and give up rage; do not be agitated- it can only bring harm. For evildoers will be destroyed, but those who put their hope in the Lord will inherit the land.” Psalm 37:8-9
  • “Wait for the Lord and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land.” Psalm 37:34
  • “Wait for the Lord; be courageous and let your heart be strong. Wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14
  • “For the Lord loves justice and will not abandon His faithful ones. They are kept safe forever…” Psalm 37:28
  • “Many adversities come to the one who is righteous, but the Lord delivers him from them all.”  Psalm 34:19
  • “I will praise the the Lord at ALL times; His praise will always be on my lips.” Psalm 34:1
  • “Who is the person who fears the Lord? He will show him the way he should choose.” Psalm 25:12

Our Prayer for you:
“I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.  I am sure of this that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1: 3-6


  1. I would be a bit on the bitter side, too! I am so sorry you are dealing with this! Stay the course, Sister!

  2. Tara:

    As discussed last night, we are "all in" in helping you with this situation. Amy has obviously put her heart and soul into this rental house. Others are volunteering (through their business) to help do the work to fix it back to livable conditions. While I also ask "why", I know our heavenly father has BIG plans for this situation. Plans that when we look back we will all be able to say, "Only God could have done that!" As always, let me or Melanie know what we can do to help out.....

    In Christ,

    Brad A.