Wow! A lot has happened since my last blog post. I know I’ve been off the radar for a while, and that’s because of all the action that’s been going on in our lives these past several months…so please bear with me as I bring everyone up to speed.
In February of this year, I received my official Permanent Change of Station orders which transferred my family and I to San Antonio, Texas. This is where my new assignment is located and also where I plan on retiring from the military.
With all that being said, let me give you all some starting background about why this move has been so BIG for my family and I.
Texas has special meaning to us. My wife is from Houston and when she brought me to her hometown for the first time over 20 years ago, I fell in love with the Lone Star State.
Texas became a long lost love for me. From the smell and flavor of slow smoked brisket over mesquite, to the cheerful celebration of Tejano music, to the tough and proud heritage of independence that is evident in slogans and war cries, like ’Don’t Mess with Texas’ and ‘Remember The Alamo’…they all resonated within me and captivated my heart.
I was enamored by the big wide open spaces; something about the great expanse called to me. I knew I belonged here…as if Heaven had an etherial string pulling me to my place of destiny, gravity and impact. In our earlier years, we assumed our love for Texas was because of the aforementioned culture and lifestyle. *** Many years later we would come to learn that it was our Father’s hand which was guiding us all along.
(*** I don’t want to spoil your reading…much more about all that in further detail in follow-on posts)
Anyways, back to the story. During the first 15 years of our marriage, Erica and I would try and take an annual vacation to Houston. Each vacation would last anywhere from 10-14 days. During each visit, my wife and I would always make sure to spend at least a day driving to the new home developments and neighborhoods in the more affluent parts of town. Now bear in mind that to us, at that time, affluent meant houses ranging from $200,000 to $250,000.
Every time we would leave for this daylong excursion, my wife’s folks would chuckle and wonder why in the heck were we looking at houses when we were not in the market or planning to buy in the immediate future.
Nevertheless, the passion for the vision continued to burn inside of us. We KNEW that we were going to buy a house and live in Texas; something was pulling us there…something bigger than us. We were compelled by a force and influence which came from an invisible place…a realm which we, eventually, were going to be come familiar and intimate with.
As the years went by and with each subsequent visit, our hearts become more and more settled on making Texas our home. Our plan was for me to retire from the military, take a good paying civilian job, raise our kids, have a bunch of fun and then ride off into the sunset.
That’s the short and sweet version.
Wedged and layered in-between all of this, is a far more complex, sad, compelling, inspirational and (ultimately) victorious story.
Narrowing the focus down to these past few months, it has been a very busy, hectic and, dare I say, stressful time.
Shortly after I got my orders this past February, my wife and I put the house we were living in, at that time, on the market to sell. We had reached out to the realtor, who had sold us the house nearly eight years prior, and started making preparations to move.
The house did well on the market; we had numerous interests sighted via the online real-estate pages and a couple of actual showings.
About two weeks into the house being listed for sale, I got a phone call from our realtor;
“Hey Matt, I have some great news. There is a couple that has seen your house online, really like it and they want to buy it. They’re coming in from out of town…Texas in fact, and want to buy your house sight unseen”
At first I thought my realtor was joking; it seemed way too bizarre, especially the “…they’re coming in from Texas…” part. I chuckled a little bit, thinking to myself ‘Ok, I’ll play along’. I replied to the realtor “Sure, sounds great…we’re ready to sell, tell them I want full price”
Needless to say, the whole thing wasn’t a joke. Without skipping a beat, the realtor said, “Perfect, they want to pay full price and like I said, they’re buying it sight unseen because they’re coming in from Texas…there’s just once catch…you and the family have to be ready to move out before April 2nd, because that’s when they want to close, and I need an answer within the next 24 hours…preferably by this evening.”
My mind raced: “Whoa, he’s not joking…this is for real…hold the phone…WHAT?!?!? April 2nd?!? Move out??? The buyers are coming in from Texas? That’s where we’re going!”
That gave us less than two weeks to do last minute touch-ups and oh-by-the-way, I would have to contact the military moving company and see if they could re-schedule my original house-hold goods pack-up/shipment from mid-May (which I had originally set the move out date for) to less than two weeks out.
My wife and I had to pray about it…fast. I told the realtor, “Give me about an hour…I need to talk to Erica”.
As soon as I hung up with the realtor, I called Erica, and told her the news. “Erica, you won’t believe this…”.
She thought I was pulling a practical joke. After all, the details and nuances of the whole thing just seemed really weird, and it was all happening really fast.
That evening Erica and I spoke some more, we prayed (and prayed and prayed and PRAYED) …talked about it some more and then finally made our decision: “Let’s do it!”
Well, some things needed to be done logistically. First and foremost, we needed to find a place to live…for the next three to four months. According to my orders, our transfer date was June 16th and I had to attend two military schools in-route, prior to reporting to my next assignment in San Antonio. Thankfully both the schools were located nearby where I was currently stationed at the time, but like I said, my orders still didn’t have my family and I departing the area until mid-June, and we still needed lodging to hold us over while house-hunting once we got to San Antonio.
Oh and as an added bonus, I had to find a place that was already furnished…why? Because the movers had packed up all our stuff during the last three days in March.
For the next three and half months, we lived in a total of three different places: a furnished ‘short-term’ rental apartment for about two and half months, a hotel in Houston for about a week and then another hotel in San Antonio for about three weeks. We felt like a traveling circus…but it was almost over.
Thankfully, because of connections the Lord had set up for us (lots more about all that later in follow-up posts), we had linked up with a local realtor who had been working with my wife and I closely from the onset of me getting my orders back in February.
Through a lot of prayer, Divine favor, close coordination and careful planning combined with the seasoned expertise of our realtor, we were able to find a beautiful house in a great part of town…we just had to apply for financing and close on the house.
Now normally the average house closing takes about 30-45 days, depending on an abundance of factors.
We didn’t want to wait that long…sure we could have, but after being in housing limbo for over three months already, we were ready to settle into a place we could call home.
That’s where once again, God stepped in, smoothed the process and moved the entire house financing and closing in a fast way. What normally takes up to 45 days for most folks, ended up taking us only 21 days total; that includes every phase of the property appraisal, financial, underwriting, etc…21 days from the time we picked out the house to the time we picked up the keys.
I’m huge history buff. One of my favorite people from history is George Washington. During the inaugural address in 1789, he referenced the Invisible Hand of God acting upon and for the affairs of man, specifically in the forming of our country despite seemingly insurmountable odds.
A constant and recurring theme in my family life and my personal life, has been this Invisible Hand. God’s hand has been covering and guiding us in and through our hardest challenges and darkest hours. Some of these caused a hurt still lingers and through which we still mourn. Despite it all, we’ve been able to lean, rest and find comfort in the loving and Invisible Hand of our Father.
Anyways, if you’ve made it this far into the this blog post, thanks for sticking with me. I wanted to give everyone a status update and share what’s been a HUGE season of change for my family and I.
Stand by for more content and updates as our story continues. In addition to more ‘how goes it’ updates, I’ll also be posting up some more great instructional and inspirational content that the Lord has been planting in my heart over the course of these past several months.
Thanks for following and God bless!