Last summer, I tentatively found buyers for our place here in Glenwood, Maryland. When Bob came home from work, I pinned him against the wall and asked what it would take for him to retire....Ok, so I exaggerate slightly. I'd already figured it out...but wanted to hear it straight from the horses mouth. The answer was that I needed to agree to move to Texas! He was never holding me hostage....it's just that he had done his homework on retiring in different states and Texas is the homeland of his parents, his birthplace and that of his extended family, plus there is no state income tax and we can live on what will come in with pension and SS. Once I agreed to go to Texas....we began moving that idea in a forward motion as one with The Lord.
While on vacation in Florida last year we had contact with our potential buyers and they wanted to come see our little farm.....so once we got home they visited for a couple hours and so far, everything continues to move forward. Even if they decide it's not right for them, we'll list cause we're ready.
We took a trip to Texas in September to drive and pray. We drove over 2,000 miles from Houston, North, then South and finally out to Mountain Home, Texas seeing which areas we loved the most. It eventually came down to the fact that The Hired Hand wanted land, but land that didn't need mowing. He wanted land to hunt. He wanted trees. Well, The Hill Country is rock....so no grass to cut and lots of wildlife to hunt but with that land came a not so nice house.
The conundrum was either land and a crappy house or no land and a nice house in The Hill Country. So, we changed the area we would look in. We'd only spent the night and part of a day in the Tyler area of East Texas. Our hearts felt like home. It has rolling hills like Virginia and Maryland. It has tall trees because they get more rain than in The Hill Country. Lots of pines.
In East Texas we could get a nice house on 10-20 acres within our budget. Mind you, that our budget was above the median home price in that area, but coming from the DC area, our home values are 2-3x that of East TX. So, we were actually in another conundrum.....there just weren't that many homes on the market in the $350,000 max price range.
East Texas became our focus. We must of clocked in thousands of hours on Zillow and Google Earth! We had our heart set on one home, but due to life we couldn't get away. It sat and sat...so I made plans to come and then it was under contract....gone.
I'm not sure what lead me to look in an area called Palestine Texas. (pronounced Palesteen not like the Middle East country!)
I do believe that since we were fervently praying over this everyday for the past 8 months that God lead me there.
Then the blizzard of 2016 hit with over 24" of snow in February. "My" cousin (actually Bob's cousin's wife) in Sugar Land Texas said "comeon down, we'll go house hunting together and git you out of that snow"! So I did!
We looked at maybe 6 houses, ruled out many more and The Hired Hand said if I had at least 2 contenders he'd fly down for the weekend and see what he thought. I did. He came in last Thursday and we ruled out one quickly. It needed too much work. It was a home in a bad divorce and we knew that it wouldn't be an easy buy. The other we called The Beautiful House. It was. And I even felt very much at home there. But from the get-go he wasn't feelin it. I could tell just by looking at him and I think our agent Jan could too.
We stayed literally across the road from that house in a little cottage at Sabor a Pasion. What better way to find out about a place....right? Well, we tossed and turned all night even though it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. The next morning we took many walks and prayed.
We picked the proprietor, Simon's brain and found out a lot. He was so kind to us and gave us time and space to think. We had a delish gourmet breakfast and I've even got visions of greater things from making that connection with Simon. (If you ever find yourself in East Texas, go stay at Sabor a Pasion)
She really didn't know what we had decided. She just knew we hadn't talked to her for at least 19 hours. When we sat down with her, she just knew that Bob was still struggling, so like a good experienced professional agent she asked him what he was feeling.
He said that even though we were going to put in an offer it wasn't what he wanted.
She leaned in and said in her sugar sweet Texas accent....."I never like for my clients to just settle and not be 100% happy. Tell me what is it you don't like about it."
So he did. We knew going into this that our "wish" list was going to be hard to match....but it was our "wish" list and we wanted what we wanted. And frankly we still had 8 months to find it!
Well, I'd about fell right out of my chair thinking.....NO WAY!!! We just spent 19 hours with little sleep, tossing and turning, then churning over the only place.....what do you mean you have one more...we looked at all there was!
Just as I said, "thanks for throwing in a Monkey Wrench Jan"...she laughed and asked if we wanted to look at it. As she showed us the pictures, she explained that this was a house and property that she listed and sold a year ago and that's why she had the pics. That she called the owner (a very wealthy Texas businessman) that morning and proposed he sell it to us!!!! It wasn't even listed or in the MLS.
This is where I just get goose flesh allllllllll over!!!! She told him about us. They agreed upon a price which was below our max price and she told him we had to have at least 20 acres!
Oh my. We saw The Lord's hand in it from start to finish...although we aren't finished quite yet....those pesky legal details are still looming....but he was and is very agreeable to everything! He's an honorable man and we feel completely at peace no matter what arises....we can work it out.
The only problem was Bob's plane departed Houston the next day and Mr.W was in Houston 3.5 hours away......so where was a key for us to get in? It so happens that Mr. W didn't just buy that house last year he bought that house and 132 acres surrounding that house...he bought it for the land....it just so happened that a house was on it...a fairly new house (another unspoken wish) but not a huge house. He had a caretaker who could open the house for us.
Both Bob and I were drawn into the clear blue eyes of this young family man; Bobbie the caretaker. We chatted a bit, he is on 50 acres right behind our property. He has 5 children and a wife who has been fighting cancer...so be in prayer if you would. He explained that they were installing a high fence and surveying so we came along at just the right time! Well, from our September visit, we learned that high fences have a 2 fold purpose; to keep certain animals in and to keep other animals out! I asked what they were keeping in.
Exotic African animals minus the lions and elephants...I think! I asked if they were going to have hunting guides and he said, "oh no, it's just for Mr.W's family and grandchildren to enjoy!" What they were keeping out were the wild hogs...they would be on our 20 acres! Haha!!! As is....since our parcel will be fenced on 3 sides we plan to fence the 4th and get rid of the wild hogs!!! We aren't sure if they'll taste good....we were told to only eat the young....we'll see.
We asked how he knew Mr. W and he told us that Mr W's son-in-law was his childhood best friend. They attended Liberty U together and he was still living in Florida where he and Mr W's daughter have a ministry and family. Then he told us about Mr W and his wife, who had a tragic riding accident and was now in a wheelchair for life. (I don't know details...but I'm assuming she is paralyzed.) That this accident brought Mr W to a stronger faith in our Lord Jesus.
One important aspect of us finding a home was to find a place where I'd feel safe. A place that if one of us passes...ok...when one of us passes....the other would feel safe and be able to maintain it. Knowing that we are literally surrounded by followers of Jesus just put me in that comfort zone. Bobbie told us about their small community church down the road and that really good people were all around us there in this little town.
When Jan drove us out to Slocum, Texas she said, "well, it's a little ways from Palestine." It is about 21 miles which isn't bad cause I now drive about 15-25 miles to "town"....so that was doable. The little town of Slocum is about 250 population...now 252! Our kids were most concerned with how far an EMT was....just so happened that that little town of Slocum has a tiny Fire Department! The next closest "largest" town is Grapeland our new mailing address and it has a larger FD and EMT service....and after chatting with Marlene in the Stop and Go, she said it's a very good one!
The house is completely 1 level...not 1 step!!! All the doors are wheelchair accessible....which I was looking for but it wasn't on our "wish" list....really I'm not wishing for that!!! It has a TON of storage....because when you live out in the country in Texas, you shop monthly or bi-monthly and without a basement we need storage...NO problem....look at that pantry!!! Plus there is a 2 car garage and a huge workshop with double bay doors for that RV we don't own!!! Bob will have space to tinker on whatever he wants!
The only thing missing was my art studio. We'd already talked about bringing in a "cabin" type building if necessary. So, that will be one of the first things on our to-do list!
The yard has not 1 blade of grass to cut! There is a cleared, fenced area that was a garden and a greenhouse and tons of amazing plants that I'm tickled pink about!!!
Bob left the following day and I left on Monday the 22nd.
Wow, if you don't believe, well you should. God met us in this place. He showed up big time. He even gave us the little things that were only spoken to Him. He gave us discernment. He gave us wisdom. He made our hearts one!
He gave us our next forever home in Texas! We dared to Dream Big because God is The Great Dream Giver!!!
Turns out we'll be getting 25 acres!!! Woot Woot!