[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] N [/dropcap]ap time at our house is usually more stressful than it’s worth as I can’t ever seem to get all three children to nap. I usually try it on Mondays though as all three need naps after our busy Sundays. So while I listen to two boys discuss Spiderman and how to shoot their webs, I thought it would be good to attempt to get some thoughts out and help to aid with some dilemmas that I can’t seem to work out the answers to.
When we moved from the UK to the US, we spent more money than we had as moving overseas and acquiring visas is very expensive. We also made a very rash decision to buy a house as that seemed more prudent than paying rent, and we had already spent 9 months living with family members, so we were ready to settle in. Yet after buying the house, we found ourselves waiting far longer for Mark’s greencard (and a job) than we ever dreamed was possible. All of that resulted in loans and debt. Those were on top of two already existing student loans. And we were smart in that we bought a house that was in our means, but it’s also an old house that’s needed lots of repairs. It’s also tiny and bursting to the seams as there are now 5 of us living here. So it’s been a decision that I’ve regretted for 4 out of the 5 years that we’ve been here. But such is life.
Over the past year, we’ve talked and talked and talked in an attempt to figure out what to do with our situation. Can we suck it up and live here 5 or 6 more years until debts are paid down or even paid off? Can our growing boys continue to fit in their small bedroom? Could EB manage to stay in a toddler bed until she is 5 or 6? And can I stand it that long? We’ve looked at renting, looked at moving out of state, and of course, considered moving back to the UK. No stone has been left uncovered, but no answers have been sorted out either. So last night, as I sat on the couch watching the end of “Call the Midwife” season 2, which I’ve been trying to finish for about 6 months, I mentioned how in that particular episode a family of 10 was living in council housing and the flat had two rooms. That brought Mark to mention our flat that we lived in while in Shrewsbury, and how it was ridiculously tiny – a bedroom that consisted of enough room for a bed, a tiny kitchen, a living space, and a bathroom. It was maybe 350 square feet, and we loved it. Mark thinks our current house of 950 sq feet should feel like a palace, and it does feel much roomier. We just lived much more simply in the UK than we do here. And yet we want to somehow get back to that. Moving to something smaller might be cheaper, and it would force us to get rid of half our stuff. It would also allow us to build up a savings account, which we need.
That conversation led to the idea of looking into some of the “rougher” neighborhoods in our town, where we could probably find a cheap apartment . . . not ideal, especially with a dog. But it would get us closer to our goal and get us out of a good chunk of debt. And so I’ve been thinking and praying all day.
I’ve never been one to want fancy things. I rarely buy clothes or shoes, and when I do, they’re never name brand. I actually wear a lot of my sister’s hand-me-downs, which works out well for both us. We don’t drive new or fancy cars; Mark doesn’t even like new cars. We don’t strive to be in style, don’t eat gourmet, all organic meals, don’t eat out, go to movies, or do much that is “fun”. We work, we do our best to have good family time, and we try to take care of our home. That’s life for us right now. We just do our best, trust God to supply what we need, and don’t really ask or look beyond any needs. Christmas is the one time where we can think of something we’d really like to have and ask for it, and it makes Christmas morning feel like we’re kids again. So as I’ve thought through all of this and evaluated our home, I’ve realized that it’s not the size that bothers me. We could easily make it work if we changed the rooms around. The one bathroom will be tough as all the kids get potty-trained, but it’s not impossible. It’s more the clutter and junk that bothers me; the fact that nothing has a place where it belongs. It’s also the terrible yard and the no time/money to invest in it that bothers me. But I could take a few classes, learn the basics, and get the yard into shape while Mark is at our cleaning jobs. The kitchen and bathroom are stuck in the 1970s, so that also gets a bit old. But again, I could take some paint and do something to help ease my irritation. And I’ve been de-cluttering for months; that just needs to continue. So we could actually stay here for 5 more years if we just determined to do it.
Therefore, with all excuses set aside, I guess the real question is deeper than what I’ve been willing to ask, because it’s not COULD we stay here, but do we WANT to stay here? Do we want to invest more time, more money, and more of ourselves into a house? Are we just trying to make it work because we feel so badly about the bad decisions we made that we’re needing to suck it up and just pay it all off? Or is the goal to get debt free and into a place where we can save our money so that we can go and do the life we really dream of? So we cut our losses, sell the house for an amount that would allow us to pay off debt, then start all over again at ground zero? And how do we accomplish that while raising 3 children and considering the welfare of all 5 of us? We’ve been so faithful to be such good stewards of our finances for the last 5 years, and we’ve learned so much that we never would have learned otherwise. So is it maybe time to give ourselves some grace and say hey, we made bad decisions that we never want to repeat, we’ve learned, and if we can move forward anyway, we really want to.
I’ve been interrupted so many times now as I’ve written this that I don’t know if it’s making any sense, but it’s just what’s on my heart. I know God gives wisdom to those who ask in faith, and I’ve asked. I also know that He is faithful and He has seen our faithfulness. And I want to do the right, moral, responsible thing. I’m not a slacker, my husband certainly is not one, and we don’t take easy ways out. We want to take the right way. So I need to trust that it will be shown to us, and we’ll be faithful and obedient to do whatever it is.
Leaving you with a photo of the living area in our first flat. We once fit 6 of us into this area with a table and a meal, and we couldn’t even move. But we did it and we all enjoyed it, and our friends were gracious enough to not comment on how tight it was. So anything works if you determine to make to do so.