Thursday, September 12, 2013

To Buy or Not To Buy, That is the Question

For 24 years we have been renting homes. Apartments, houses, a bungalow in the center of Africa. If we'd bought a house early in marriage we'd have it paid in complete by now. We had a different course than most, though. We planned to live in Africa as missionaries so buying a house wasn't in the picture. We did go to Africa, but it was only for a year. So, at ages 31 and 39 we started over with a new baby and no idea what we'd be doing. That was 17 years ago.

We're in a situation now which will likely force us to move. The house we are renting is being renovated to sell. We will be offered the option to buy the house or he could possibly allow us to lease, but the rent will be higher. Most likely we won't be able to afford to buy this one, so we are looking at other houses and learning a lot about loans.

Due to financial issues, we cannot get a conventional loan until October of 2014. Also we don't have money for a 20% down payment. We can likely qualify for an FHA loan, but it has to be manually underwritten so we can't get prequalified. That requires 3.5% down, which we've been offered as a gift.

We've always heard mortgage is cheaper than rent. That's true. However, mortgage isn't the only monthly payment with a loan. There's interest, homeowner's insurance, and taxes. Then 1.75% up front, then 1.25% monthly. That adds up fast when you're talking about over $100,000. In fact, it can add up to $200 a month. That is the catch for us right now.

We just learned today that with a USDA loan (for which we should also qualify) there is no MIP/PMI. There's also nothing down with a USDA. There will be some expenses at closing, but not much. The only thing with a USDA is it has to be in certain areas & NOT in city limits. So, we'd have to find something in our price range/size that is outside of city limits but not TOO far for driving to work/churh/homeschool stuff we do with others. We could get more house without that MIP to contend with and taxes outside of city limits are lower.

If the house we are in was low enough, we could buy this. Because it is owned by an investment company, we wouldn't even need to get a loan, but could do in house financing. I am just not sure how that would work as far as the APR.

A program we'd like to use for a loan is NACA ( They provide a 0 down, 1% below standard APR loan with no MIP/PMI. They are "character based" not "credit based" so they don't care if your credit score is low. They walk you through the process. You have to show that you can pay your bills on time, pay your rent on time, and keep your bank account above 0 for 12 months, or 24 months if you've filed bankruptcy before they will loan you money. They want you to be successful at owning a home & not get into something you can't pay. As the contractor told me today, with the investment company, if you can't pay your loan, they just kick you out & they resell the house. It's not about the people. Neither is FHA or USDA. Well, USDA is probably more so b/c they want to build up rural areas. Since we did file bankruptcy several years ago and are only one year out, we aren't able to do the NACA right now. If we do buy a house we could possibly consider refinancing through them.

Of course, the last option is to find another house to lease. Then we are back to square one: Rent usually costs more than mortgage.

We've lived in a bungalow in the center of Africa. We've lived in apartments, in old homes, and in small homes. We aren't looking for a big house to feel like we've "made it" or to feel pretentious. We do want space for Phil to have a computer work area so he can work on other computers at home and an area for me to sew, especially to quilt, so that I can earn money to help with expenses but still homeschool. We'd like a kitchen with a good space for me to cook since we have special dietary needs. We'd like kitchen storage for my Pampered Chef products that I use for us and for shows. We'd like the girls to each have a room of their own so we can move things that we have in the living room (and craft room) into their rooms. I'd love for Bethany to develop her artsy skills and have a space to work with that. Natalie would just like a quiet space of her own. Of course, a room of your own isn't a necessity in life. It would just be nice after spending almost 15 years in the same tiny spaces. If we stay in this house I will lose my sewing room, but with the girls taking their things into their rooms and getting rid of a LOT of unneeded items, I think we could make it work. Eventually I would want to close in part of the garage or put a little shed in the backyard that I could use for sewing (with an air conditioner).

Ultimately, we know that God will put us where He wants us. We know He will provide the finances we need. We don't want to presume He will provide for us to have a house that costs more than we can afford, though, and want to be good stewards. He has promised to provide for our needs. He has not promised me a 4 bedroom home with a pool in the backyard and a jacuzzi tub!

So, there you have it. After a year full of cancer and surgeries, we now get to figure out where to live. Life is never dull! Pray that we will make wise decisions and not get overwhelmed in looking at homes and figuring out costs. Thank you!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What does God say about marriage?

In light of some news today, more decisions about same sex marriage in the news, I wanted to see what God said about it. Not what I think, not what the media thinks, not what my pastor thinks, but what did God say about it in His Word? What God's Word says: "7 Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. I Corinthians 7:1-2. Genesis 1:27-28 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
John 3:16
New Living Translation (NLT)
16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

My understanding of this is that God loves everyone, whatever choices we make in life. Lots of other verses say we've all sinned. None of us is perfect. It also says to me that God intended marriage for a husband and wife. I respect people's choice to have different views and I love plenty of people with different views. When it comes to tough issues, though, I have to believe what God's Word says. Not my opinion, not my feelings, not the media, not my pastor, not my friends, but God through His Word. I'm a sinner, you're a sinner, except for the blood of Christ we all fall short of His glory. And he created male and female and says marriage is between a man and woman.

I don't expect everyone to agree with me and I'm thankful we have the freedom to discuss these things in the US. Respectfully. I even had a weird dream about this topic the other night involving Phil's extended family at a reunion & a tv star. Very strange!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A few loose screws

No doubt most folks who know me could agree that sometimes I have a few screws loose. Our family would be included in that comment. Right now, though, there's a good reason. Not only are some screws loose, but we might be coming unglued, too. Sounds like we need a good repairman.

After Phil had a cancerous tumor removed from his tongue in May, all pathology reports came back clean, meaning no more cancer. After a lengthy recovery, but never feeling quite up to par, Phil discovered another spot on his tongue around Thanksgiving. He saw the doctor right away and had a biopsy of it. It is another cancerous tumor.

We saw an oncologist on December 5th, but found out that with a new insurance plan starting on January 1st, this doctor would not be covered. We had to find a doctor who was both on the old plan and the new one. We found Dr. Santiago at the Cancer Care Center. We got to see him on December 18th and a plan was laid out for Phil to have a course of radiation along with a targeted drug called Erbitux. Phil will have radiation 5 days a week for about 6 weeks. Once a week, he will also have an infusion of Erbitux. This means they will give it to him through an IV. The Erbitux is basically a vaccine. It's been found to do wonders with oral cancer as well as colorectal. I guess it's an "all in the family" kind of drug!

Now, you are probably wondering if we saw the doctor in December why I am still using the words "WILL start." Good thing to wonder. He had to see a radiation oncologist to set up the radiation treatment. He did that just before Christmas only to learn he had to see a dentist to be sure his teeth could handle the radiation first. He has since had a crown, been in major pain and then had a root canal. NOW he has to wait for his mouth to heal 2 weeks before they will begin radiation. In the meantime he had a mask made of his face, which is pretty cool.

You can keep up with our journey through cancer at 

Now, back to those loose screws. A few weeks ago we were at the library and when we went to leave, the car wouldn't start. I had no jumper cables. There "happened" to be men sitting in pick up trucks on either side of the car. Surely one of them could help. Neither of them had jumper cables! One, though, offered to go to his house & get his. He went & came back with brand new cables. He actually bought some when he realized someone had borrowed his. He tried to jump start my car. Nothing. Nada. Nil. He then pulled out a wrench & tightened a screw. That was it. The car started right up! I offered to pay him (though I had no cash, my "rich kids" still had Christmas money on them), and he refused saying God would bless him. What a special blessing for us! 

So, we may have some screws loose. But that's nothing new for us! We'll just keep plugging along seeing what God has in store in this journey!