Underwriting Underwriting Underwriting

They approved and have signed off on everything. No more scrutiny by them. Yea! Signing is any day, now.

I had a great weekend filled with friends.  When too much time passes without connecting with a friend, I begin to feel lonely. God made us to be relational, so it stands to reason that the absence of sincere connections with others can leave us feeling a twinge of sadness.

So, I prayed about it. Women often ask their husbands for affirmations of love. But, as a husbandless woman, that wasn’t an option. I didn’t think any friends would appreciate me asking them to tell me they loved me.  And as we know, when we ask for it, the affirmation of love doesn’t quite feel the same as it does when an affirmation is unsolicited. So I asked God to send me affirmation. I ask a lot from God, and in this request I simply said, a few times, “God, I’m feeling kind of lonely. Could you please remind me that I’m not alone, and that I am loved?” I had no idea what that would look like.   Without realizing how it was happening, by the time the weekend was over, I’d been refueled by several friends, as well as by a chance meeting with a woman in my community as we were both on a walk.

I love interacting and talking about other’s lives. I love hearing stories from people about other people. I don’t need to know the people’s identity. They can be called A, B, & C, and I’ll listen as raptly as if I had a vested interest.  I really just love the story. I love brainstorming about challenges, hearing about success, and a little reminiscing is always good for our soul. I got a little of everything this weekend, and it made me happy.  God reminded me of his goodness. I had to leave my house for such goodness. Friends didn’t stop by and announce, “God sent me. He wanted me to remind you that we love you.”  No, I left my home.  It worked out that both kids were occupied so I stopped what I might have done (packing, which is what I should technically have done)  and left to spend time with various friends.  I was re-energized from the conversations we had, and it was good.

Our guest pastor today spoke about Paul from Acts 18:1-4. He talked about the relationship Paul must have had with Priscilla and Aquila, a married couple who made tents like Paul did.  The guest pastor presented a theory, that a relationship without responsibility isn’t a friendship, it’s an acquaintance. I thought that was so interesting. He tied it into our culture and how more and more we’re making friends based on the convenience of the relationship, versus our responsibility to it.

I think many of us can relate to that concept. We make “friends” from the paths we cross each day, so often because of our kids’ schedules and activities. Wonderful friendships have been formed at basketball and football games. It would be hard not to form friendships when we’re spending that much time at practices, games, performances, and working beside each other at our schools and church. But I think an awareness of how we form our friendships and who we let in is something to consider.  There’s only room for so much in our life, and something will have to give if we aren’t intentional.  Without any thought, friendships may just “happen” based on where we are at any given moment in time, or who we’re connecting with on social media.

God designed us to be relational. It’s so evident to me after I’ve spent time with people and I leave happy and full of life. I think social media is evidence of how relational we are. For those who spend hours on social media, but little time in real life with people,  it seems they are searching for a way to connect.  Hours on end would appear to almost be a desperate attempt to connect.  They may not have formed the skills they need to connect well in our world, and social media has given them an easy way to make that happen. I don’t think that’s necessarily good, but it is evidence of our strong need to relate to people.

I’m grateful for new friends.  But there is something beautiful about longtime friends.  Friends who you’ve shared life with on a deep level, that includes laughter, tears, and memories.  Friends who have shared responsibilities together, caring for each other when the other was weak, vulnerable, or defeated.  Friends who do life together, like Priscilla, Aquila and Paul, sharing a home.  Can you imagine?  Talk about responsibility!  Our lives are so full these days. It can take enormous effort to connect with our friends, especially if they’ve fallen outside of our every day life.  Some would say that’s where social media allows us to stay connected.  But this weekend went deeper than that, and I’m so grateful that God heard my simple prayer, and filled me up with life that comes from another human being, in person, a friend.

I’ve never been clear what an underwriter does.  But now I am. They analyze your expenses and income to determine if you are a risk to the lender.  I am buying a house and deep in the process. I’ve long been approved.  The appraisal has been made and the inspection and repairs finished.  A close date is established, and it’s right around the corner.  But “underwriting” is still assessing the documents.  I put “underwriting” in quotations because it’s been a mystery for a long time.  Throughout my house search for the past few years, as I’ve delved into the possibilities of selling and buying, I’ve heard the term a million times: “I’ll have to let underwriting make that decision” or “Lets see what underwriting says.”  I’ve had the feeling of the lender with whom I’ve established a relationship, and the underwriter in the back room going back and forth.  Lender: “But look. She pays her bills on time. She’s really nice, and I can tell she’s responsible. She’s got a letter of reference!”  And the underwriter: “Yes, but what about this? She bought a pair of shoes in March and returned them in April. She’s too fickle for a loan. We can’t trust a woman like that!”

Granted, I’m not a slam dunk decision.  I wish my financial complications were as simple as buying and returning items.  In the last five years my financial climate has slowly improved.  But underwriting isn’t only looking at income.  They look at my debt history, both previous to my divorce, and in the last five years when I’ve been on my own.  They look at divorce decree documents, too.  They talk to banks and credit unions.  They get very personal.  I get all that.  But even with evidence of my personal solid track record, they scrutinize and monitor my cash flow behavior up until the very end!  After they received my bank and investment statements, they wanted them again after I showed the withdrawal and then deposit of my down payment, complete only with proof of deposit.  Then, they spotted a $16,000 deposit.   They wanted to know what that was.  I told my mortgage broker it was for a drug deal, and of course I had no proof of that transaction because I only accept cash for those.  I couldn’t resist.  It was for the sale of my Yukon Denali, for which I purchased a newer car with 70,000 less miles, double the gas mileage, for less money than I got for the Denali. That should impress them!

It’s kind of interesting.  Don’t we all wonder what people do with their money at times?  We see a Mercedes in front of a house of ill repair or a friend sends their children to private school but the parents hold a profession that isn’t known for a high income.  We can’t help that it crosses our mind.  Probably because we want their secret.  But asking people about their finances is personal, and we really should stay away from it.  The truth is, we don’t know about people’s finances based on their lifestyle or expenses.  However, if you do want to know, become an underwriter.  Then you can ask any question you want, and you can even ask for proof!

We’re moving right now means more than you would imagine. It means we get to be someplace permanent, and it means that God is good. After we sold our house last July, we didn’t find a house to buy within the time frame of us having to be out of our house. So, we rented, where we are today. It’s a modest, nice home. It came partially furnished, which is a good thing if you don’t already have a houseful of furniture. But we did. And its 1400+ SF is nice if you haven’t come from 3200 SF and then 2200 SF and haven’t yet rid yourself of all the things that fit into those square feet of house. As much as I’ve tried to purge, it’s difficult when you don’t know what kind of space you’ll have in your final landing place. Hence, we had household inventory all over the place, including a storage unit. In my frustration of paying for the storage unit and hoping to rid myself of that expense, I have gotten rid of things I now wish I had. I will be happy to be certain of what things to hold on to, and what things to be rid of.

I can't tell you how many trips we've made to Goodwill.

That doesn’t look like junk, does it? I am not a hoarder.

Finding a house in this market last summer wasn’t easy, and it was no more easy this summer. Knowing the task of buying a home and moving, I knew I wanted to make this transition before fall, when I hope to head into full time employment. My enthusiasm and diligent realtor who fed me the real estate market faithfully, wasn’t producing the right house in the right place at the right price.

So, like a couple of friends before me, I set out and placed fliers in our neighborhood newspaper boxes, announcing my desire to buy a home by September 1st.

House Wanted Flier

House Wanted flier. I probably didn’t need to mark out the personal information. On a good day of posting, it may have created an avalanche of inquiries I’d have to turn away!

A couple of weeks went by without any response. And then one night, within fifteen minutes, I received three calls. The next morning, I received another call. And just last week I received an email. The day after I got the first three calls, I looked at three houses. All were contenders, which was amazing considering how many houses I’d looked at that weren’t quite fitting the bill. I made an offer on one of them. And that is the house we’re buying, and that is the house that will hold our lovely things. We’ll get to sleep in our own beds (well, kind of, but I won’t go into that), use measuring spoons (I know they’re someplace in the attic, and I have refused to buy them, knowing I own them!), and when a holiday approaches, I won’t have to run to the storage unit and hunt for decorations.

Last summer I was a little discouraged (to say the least) that we would be living in a temporary placement during Bridgette’s senior year. Yet there were many good things about the little rental we’ve been in. The proximity of it to the high school is a gift in itself. Our new house isn’t much further.

I love the back yard.

Backyard in bloom.

Backyard in bloom.

I thought I would die without a garbage disposal, but I figured out life without one. It has a great fence for our dogs. There’s no AC, but we’re surviving the heat and the compassion from the landlord during this summer’s heat wave softens the hardship. The back yard has an awesome basketball hoop and court. We lived with carpet in the kitchen for most of our stay, which disgusted me to think of the things growing in it. The flowers that bloomed in the early summer were spectacular. I didn’t like having to hand water the lawn, but I figured out a system that expedited the process. I love the two back patios, one being off of my bedroom. There are many things about this house that were an adjustment. But for every thing to which we had to adjust, there was something else special we loved; namely in the yard portion of the house, if you didn’t get that already.

August 22nd is the big move weekend. I’ll miss the back yard, but we’ve got a new one, and there are plenty of things on the inside of the house that I’ll get to enjoy; AC being one of them.

Starting, again. Starting this blog again, and as I write those words I am reminded, that I’m always starting again. Maybe that’s what this blog is about. How to start again, where ever you are. That’s the point, really, not to stop starting!

So, hello. It’s been a long time desire to write a book, and thus far I haven’t figured that out, so I decided I’d write a blog. I’ve started and stopped on and off for over a year. I’ve been writing another blog, but it’s anonymous. In it I shared a lot of raw details about grief and frustrations. I thought aloud about how to handle situations. Sometimes it was with my ex husband, his family, or parenting my two children who needed way more than I felt I could give. Grief after a hard divorce is hard to expose publicly. Unlike other tragic losses where we share in the grief, the loss of a family through divorce is harder for the world to feel with you. It points fingers and in our case was ugly and tragic. It’s uncomfortable for others to watch, so it can be lonely. While I wanted to share the raw truth, knowing there were others out there who would relate, I couldn’t bring myself to expose my children, and when it came down to it, my ex-husband and his family. It would have made for a lot of discomfort on all sides. I often tell my children not to let someone elses behavior dictate your behavior. In other words, regardless of how you’ve been treated, keep in mind who you are, and who you want to be. I wanted to live that out for my children, and myself. It all just felt too uncomfortable for who I want to be.

Now I am here, on JoniFrances, getting to talk to my heart’s content, without a real understanding of an objective or a style. But if I wait for all the pieces to come together, the wait will prevent me from action. So, I’m starting again. The imperfections and learning curve will probably be slow, but hopefully the process will evolve into something meaningful. And if the most meaningful thing I can do is to create an outlet for my emotions that keeps my home a place of relative peace, I have succeeded at least on that level! The degree of specificity will depend on the degree to which I will affect others. I hope I can manage transparency and consideration so that there will be healing for everyone. And all for the small fee of $99 on WordPress! I may indulge in an upgrade and customized webpage once the cash flow is better after moving into our new home.

Writing, crying, talking, and Jesus have been my therapy. Like a love song Taylor Swift writes for herself, this blog is my love song. It could sting a little, but with a little sting I hope comes a lot of fun and love and healing, and like a Taylor Swift song, I hope you can relate and sing along with me.