By Libbo Crosswhite
7 Commandments for House Hunters
Clay and I recently embarked on the exciting (or so they say?) adventure of both selling our home and buying a new one. We have learned and are continuing to learn so much about who we are as a couple, as individuals, and as believers in this process. As a counselor, I know the best way to classify this time in our life is a learning opportunity; that keeps us from killing each other. We are learning A LOT. So, here’s what I have learned in 7 commandments—because we all know 10 is only for God and Moses and my wisdom is limited.
1. Marriage is Hard: Buying a House is Harder
A little over six years ago, Clay and I made a trip to Canton to the Madison County courthouse. Waited in line for about 30 minutes. Gave the clerk our full names and social security numbers and about 5 minutes later had a marriage license. Yep, that was it. Married. Done. Out the door. Thirty minutes into remembering my exact income from my first job in 2003 and my blood type, I was done with page one of the mortgage application. There is no doubt that making the marriage application process as difficult as the home buying process would have some people bowing out before they ever said, “I do.”
And don’t even get me started on the process of trying to agree on a house that both fits our budget and we could live in. HGTV missed a great opportunity to film its first real-time, part-drama/part-horror series; a dash cam in the Crosswhite vehicle would have made great, dramatic television. God knew exactly who I needed to marry. I really am a firm believer that marriage is the greatest picture of the gospel and the love that God so clearly has for us. God created Clay to be many things, including frugal—I love and respect that about him. I really do. Can you feel the “but” coming? We had to learn to compromise on a lot. Like moving and packing Every. Single. Box. ourselves and transporting it to three different locations because it definitely saved us a good bit of money. Thank you, Jesus, for all that you have given us, and your resurrection power, and for allowing Clay to see the light that we needed to rent a POD.
2. I Have Too Much Stuff
About two weeks into packing boxes, I finally had to start labeling boxes for what they were really were: “Stuff we don’t need.” Why do I need a BOX FULL of scarves? Or three different can openers? Lord, teach me to want less stuff and more of You.
3. Your House is Not So Bad
For the better part of two years, I have found myself daydreaming about a day where I lived closer to work or had more space or could move into a house that gave the kids a playroom. But as we were packing up, I was flooded with the memories of bringing both of our babies home to this house—if those walls could talk. It’s where Mary and Russell learned to walk and where Mary learned to sleep through the night (praying that the new house will teach Russell that). Our house was so, so good to us. It was exactly what we needed and the gratitude overwhelmed me as we said goodbye one last time. As we prayed in a circle for our empty house, Mary Thomas started with “Thank you, God, for this house,” I couldn’t help but wish I had said that more often while living in it.
4. Foundation Matters
A home’s value is determined from the very beginning. The heart of a house is built on the concrete that holds it up. A house can have all the shiplap and closet space in the world but a shaky foundation dramatically decreases the value. What a responsibility we have as parents to give our children a rock solid foundation because everything else will and can fade away, but the truth of who they are from the very beginning determines their eternal value.
5. Thank Your Mama
I can vividly remember allowing comparison to be the thief of too much of my joy growing up. If I’m honest, as much as tried to fight it, I compared my car, house and other “things” to others around me. It kind of makes me sick to my stomach thinking about how ungrateful I was for all that my mom provided for us while growing up. It wasn’t until I started the house hunt that I realized what a palace I lived in. I can remember going over to my mom’s house one day this summer and looking around thinking, “What beautiful crown molding! And wainscoting? And TWO storage closets in the garage? Look at these cabinets in the laundry room!” So, whoever raised you, more than likely provided you with a whole lot more than you ever realized until you are the one paying the mortgage. So, thanks, mom.
6. God Is Sovereign
I know, I know, I should know this by now, I have seen it played out in my life a hundred times over, but when it comes to a big life decision like buying a house, I have to remind myself of this truth daily. It seemed almost trivial at times and there were times when I felt guilty because buying/selling a house seems so small and selfish in terms of the hard things that are occurring around us, but that’s just it. God wants us to rely on him for everything, in the big and the small, in the seemingly selfish and the glaringly tragic. And I think it’s important for us to remember that proclaiming God’s sovereignty isn’t just a one-time proclamation, it’s a daily decision. I also think Abraham and Sarah were fortunate to not have children yet during their big move.
7. I’m Never Moving Again
Clay will no doubt save this month’s article and highlight this one when I start daydreaming about the next “learning opportunity” in 10 years.
Libbo Haskins Crosswhite and her husband, Clay, live in Brandon and attend Pinelake. They have one daughter, Mary Thomas, who is 4 years old and a son, Russell, who is 2 1/2 years old. She is the high school guidance counselor at Madison-Ridgeland Academy and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.