Finding the Right Home for Our Family #116

The day our Dallas home was listed it sold for the asking price of $117,000. We were not surprised as the house was located in a “preferred” neighborhood ½ block from an excellent grade school, 4 blocks from the junior high/high school, 5 minutes from the LBJ freeway and close to shopping. Now it was time to find a house in New York.

We decided we should buy a home in the area where I had been staying when in NY. This location was near I 87 and I 90 and enabled me to be at DL in 2 hours, to Boston and New York City in 3 hours, and to the Albany airport in 30 minutes. From this location I could travel conveniently to where most DL campers, staff, and alumni lived.

With $72,000 in cash I began to look for a suitable home, believing that the Lord would provide the right house for us as He had done in the five previous locations where He had called us to serve. But there were some real challenges:

1. My compensation package was 1/3 less than our package in TX where there was no state income tax, no sales tax, and property tax was about ½ what it was in NY. Out of $30,000 had to come both halves of Social Security, medical insurance, state income tax, and we had always given 10% to the Lord for ministry. Retirement fund? Forget it! Don’t be tough on the DL Board of Directors. They were guaranteeing this package while also contributing to keep the camp alive until, hopefully, campers and contributions significantly increased.

2. Our family wanted a home with 4 bedrooms, a larger dining room and located on property suitable for horses.

3. Our oldest daughter would be a senior in high school – heading for college in one year.

Bottom line: I knew I would have to buy a house for cash as there would be no $ for a mortgage. My options were limited: a remodeled old house was far too costly, an old house that had not been remodeled would require an investment of time and money we knew we would not have, and a newer home in good repair would be expensive.

After weeks of looking, the two best options were a house located on five acres next to an active railroad track – with a bar a block away on a busy road, or a house located on five acres with a small barn, 75’ from busy NY state route 32. This house was in poor condition even though they said it had been “remodeled”.

One day the realtor called to say she was quite sure she had found our house. The snow was falling heavily when I was taken to a house located in Greenville with an asking price of $54,000. Greenville itself was not too impressive: at the main intersection was a blinking light – and a burned out gas station. We drove on a slippery side road to the house which had 4 bedrooms and a larger dining room than we had in TX. Traffic was certainly no problem, and I could see the house had copper wiring and pipe, and was reasonably well insulated. But there were some negatives: the windows were aluminum with no storm windows…I could feel the cold drafts. The house was finished out with what I called early American mobile home – in this case, the cheapest of everything you could buy: cupboards, doors, trim, and floor coverings. And the totally unfinished basement with 4 very small windows was damp to the place where the washer and dryer were on skids. There was a large wood stove in one end of the family room – the electric heat was very expensive for daily use. Out the small kitchen window I could see the 4X8’ deck was coming apart, and through the snow…a burning barrel 50’ behind the house. This house could work, though it was NOTHING like our home in Dallas. I paid $52,000 – leaving money to build a pole barn and extend the garage to have a mud room/laundry room.

Our family arrived in June, the day before the moving van. It was raining hard. As we walked through the house, Sally Jo and daughter Carla started to cry. In addition to what I have described above, we could smell cat urine and see the white walls were yellowed due to cigarette and wood stove smoke. My heart was in my throat as we began scrubbing. When the moving van arrived the next day, it was still raining. Oh Lord, What Have I Done?

“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 – see # 2 above

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