Our Bump And The Bend – Part Two

September 24, 2018

“Melissa, the air purification test came back… And, they’re concerned about the mold. That eventually, the mold spores may get into the home. And between that and everything else… The buyers are going to walk away. I’m so sorry.”

Let’s quickly back up this bus just to ourselves back up to speed. We buy a house. Awesome. We find out we’re pregnant. Double awesome. Ben goes George Banks on me. Hilarious, and yes, he IS the father. And last but surely not least, we find the perfect buyer… Seriously amazing. That’s what we thought; until we realized it was too good to be true.

But first, I need to take you through the steps we took before we purchased Brewster. Because, I honestly believe we took the right steps; it was just the quality of those steps that led us to where we are today. We looked at the comps in the area. The spread was good and the estimated repair costs were coming in close to 40K. We had worked out a deal with our investors and had immediate cash to our disposal to close. And then, once we firmed up that we could get access to the property at 8:00 on a Friday night and took the girls with us to get in. {This, looking back, was complete ludicrous parenting judgement on our behalf.} Picture it now. I’ve got Millie, Kennedy’s in between Ben and I and we break in through the garage door. When I say break in, we had the lockbox code to enter – but this house was literally vacated by the owner hours beforehand.

Seriously, who knew if she had a freeloader for the weekend?? It never even crossed my mind until now. And, the smell of cat urine permeated the premises. It was enough to make me want to run.. But we entered anyway. We slowly walked in, investigating every room, nook and cranny, with barely enough light to see.  And that’s when we heard a noise from the far end of the home.  Ben looked at me and said, “Get them out, now.  Go!”  And then he yells, “Who’s there?” And, that’s all I heard from that point on… Because I immediately began praying to God. That was the only conversation I was tuning into.  We still don’t have a clue as to what that noise was; but looking back, we had no business bringing our two little girls to this house, let alone at night. And if my mom’s reading this, I’m sure I’m going to hear about this tomorrow. So, we did the intelligent thing, we ordered an inspection. Because this little document would tell us exactly what was going on in that house… Or, so we had hoped.

The next day, I literally searched “Inspectors in Indianapolis” and found a long list of names. I reached out to four and only one could get us in within 48 hours. The others, had at least a five day waiting list for our property to be seen. This should have been clue number one.  Seriously, the nicest guy… He owned a small company and reported to the house on that next Tuesday morning. That next day, we got the report and the house looked good! So, we thought. Nothing major; just a little electrical here and the removal of rotting wood there. Other than that, easy breezy.

So let’s get to the juice. Two ladies approach a fine, tall, dark handsome man – let’s call him Ben. One is clearly geriatric. The other is riding the zipline to her AARP. They love the house. When can they see it? What’s the story? When are you listing? When was it built? The questions went on and on… Which now makes me realize, Ben was able to articulate and comprehend an immense amount of interrogation in this short period of time.  How was he able to function and respond at such a high level? Is this what I sound like? If so, God help him. Clearly he was wired from day one of our marriage as it relates to hammering out “training days” for this journey.

He called that night to give me the good news. I was geeked. And, I immediately starting putting together a game plan of when we could get these ladies in the door. We needed four more days. Four days to wrap electrical, install hardware, backsplashes and touch up paint. Because you can’t make a second first impression.. We had to get this right.

They loved it.  And three days later, we were sitting at the kitchen table signing the contract. Within one week later, the inspection was ordered and the appraisal came in just where we needed it. The property appraised for 305K and we accepted 302K. For a brief moment, I felt like Christina and Tarek – prior to splitsville.  We just had a laundry list of “honey do” items to complete before we closed on September 6th. Install additional recessed lighting, add outlet in cabinetry, replace towel bars, empty attic, remove old appliances, replace sliding glass doors, fix the screen on the patio door and that was just the start. Keep in mind, the house wasn’t finished; but we felt like, were almost there.

And like the good samaritans we are, we got cracking… Before the appraisal officially came in and before the inspection arrived.  Mistake. Sure, some of these items we needed to cross off the list, but the additional recessed lighting and electrical outlets, these are now sweet bonuses to the future homebuyers. The bigger price to pay, Ben being gone every night in between his 24 hours shifts at the firehouse for nearly two weeks while I held down the fort at home feeling exhausted and sick. But this was going to be worth it, right? We’ll see…

And then, the inspection came back.  This document was a good twenty pages. Electrical in the crawlspace needed to be fixed, a new water heater, something about coils, the back door needed to be replaced because it wasn’t up to fire code… Honestly, the list went on and on and I suddenly felt like I was in Señorita Banks Spanish class in the 7th grade again and she was speaking Espan-english. I couldn’t figure out what was really spanish and what was her made up version of the language.  And in this case, I couldn’t discern an authentic problem vs. some issue that just needed maintenance over time. I felt like I was going to vomit. Ben thought he was going to suffer a mini stroke. The worst part.. there was slight damage to the roof from hail that was never noted on our first inspection. And the buyers were adamant this be reviewed be a professional. Awesome. I think we just kissed 20K goodbye. If fact, I know we just kissed it goodbye.

Then, a few days later we received the call you witnessed as the first line of this very dramatic saga series.  An air purification test. What was this? I had been breathing in the air from this house for nearly two months while pregnant and I was okay?! What gives. Apparently, the buyers had prepared an air purification test to be set up in the house, in the crawl space and in the attic. And, the air within the home and in the attic came back good; however, the air in the crawl space came back elevated with levels revealing mold. And this was going to be the straw that broke the camels back.

PSA: There are a couple of things I need to share simply because every buyer/seller should be aware. First, if you ever have an air purification test run in a crawl space, greater than 90% of the time during the months of May through September, it’s going to come back positive with mold. I’ve spoken to a handful of companies here in Indy and three of the five felt the need to educate me; because they firmly believe these buyers knew this would likely be the case and I needed to be aware of the legitimacy of this test. Any dark, damp space near the ground is going to have mold. You could put an air purification test in grass and it would come back positive – mold is everywhere. Granted, I’m running this little clinical trial off of an n=3; but, these guys were 100% on par with their expertise and they’ve been in the business for over twenty years. This is what they do.  And, I had to trust them.

So let’s recalibrate for a moment. We own two houses. We’re pregnant. One has mold that has to be remediated. We will need a new roof once approved by insurance. And… we’re about to lose our minds. When looking in from the outside, I’m sure everyone thinks we’re living this beautiful life because Ben shows up in best form at work and church ready to serve. And, I try my very best, to work hard, give glory to God through it all and always stay on par with the positive. Because to me, it’s the only way.  Again, little eyes are watching and I want them to witness a heart of gratitude.  Any way you shake it, you’re passing on something – so why not be the fruits of something beautiful. And furthermore, you and I both know God uses these moments to draw us nearer and to carve our character a little deeper.  Clearly, He knows I need this life lesson so I’m going to hang onto tight during the lows so I can truly appreciate the highs.

So, as I draw this to a close, I have to share a fleeting thought with you. Because, I’ve asked myself this question so many times… Why did that first inspection come back clean and the second revealed all of the down and dirty that is about to break our bank. With a lot of prayer and a little clarity I can only come up with this. If the first inspection had revealed the mold and the roof damage, Ben and I may have never made the leap.  And let’s be honest, sometimes in life, ignorance is bliss. I believe God wanted to take us on this journey; yet if we knew all of the bumps and bends along the way, {that may drive us off of a cliff…} would we have said, yes? I honestly don’t know. And then I think about the struggles some of us have to endure in this life…

If we had only known how hard those first few years of marriage was, would we have still walked down the isle? Yes.

Would Ben have still signed up for the shift at that small little firehouse knowing that he was going to take on the biggest run of his career? Yes.

Would we have tried getting pregnant if we had known there’s a risk our sweet baby may only live be held in our arms for a few hours before they’re gone? Yes. 

Will we still choose to love family unconditionally knowing they’ve said words that have hurt in the past.. and, it could happen again? There’s no other option, yes. 

That’s called forgiveness.

The answer to all of these… An unwavering, yes. 

So, what’s your, “I will” statement…  What’s the one thing you will commit to, no matter how hard it gets. Whatever it is, commit to it and never look back. Because if you care enough, the journey won’t matter. I honestly challenge you to decide what this is, today. Mark down the date and just do it.

The question I face today is, would we have still said yes to this journey knowing the story that unfolds today… As I think about that naive girl three waving that golden key three months ago, maybe not. But now that we’re here, I’m so thankful we didn’t know all of the struggles we would face. Because, this is the one decision that I believe will give our family the opportunity to provide abundant blessings to others. And when you want to give as big as Ben and I dream we will one day, the road certainly won’t be easy.  It’s been a vision of mine since we started this journey; and  believe that seed is planted from God.  What if, we could give someone a home, someday… for free.  What if, we could bless every worker that spent time on our home with an unexpected bonus.  What if that simple act of kindness, gave them the softened heart to really be present for their family at night. What if, this yes was leap of faith could unlock the box of a thousand blessings that we don’t yet see. That’s what keeps me going. It’s the little people around us, that can feel our hope and are sitting in the front row to be the beneficiaries of the fruits of our spirit.

I live in a world that anything that is possible. But it starts in believing – believing in yourself and committing to the process.  As my mom always says, you will reap what you sew.  And, my mom is always right.  We need to nurture it, care for it, pray on it and allow it to take root. Good things take time. And when it gets really hard, that’s when most people give up. So keep going.  If you need to hear this right now, I’m right there with ya sister. Keep moving forward, and never look back. Good things are waiting, you just have to be brave enough to capture them.


Melissa XO


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