Sunday, July 30, 2017

Housing Update: Hard Decisions

I had asked for your prayers two months ago that our number be drawn again for a 3-bedroom condo in the Mission (a much desired location). And God answered, although it was in a convoluted cloudy way . . . our number was drawn, but it was fourth on the list for the one available unit. So, we thought that maybe, just like before, they work their way down the list and get to us and we would jump with glee and laugh and praise His Name with a new found joy. We had already seen the place and knew it would work for our family. But, the call never came (or hasn't yet anyway) and from what we were told, lottery winner #1 took the space.

But in that same conversation, where we were told it wasn't meant to be, we were told to consider another 3-bedroom condo space. The deadline to apply was approaching rapidly. I think Chris had to fill out an application, submit one hundred pages of proof-of-everything-we-have in 48 hours. We weren't able to connect with the realtor before the deadline so applied after just seeing photographs. No one else had applied so we had a really great chance if we were approved for the loan.

The photos showed a nice looking place and a good layout so I was hopeful. Started to dream again. Finally after a loan pre-approval and many discussions with the city's program contact and the bank and our realtor, we were able to see the place. I can't say the photos were misleading - but it left a lot out. The space was fine and the layout made sense. I was thankful that it seemed to have ample storage and a connected garage (it looked more like a townhouse than a condo). But it was dirty, the floor was sticky, everything in the kitchen was covered in grease. The bathroom doors didn't close all the way, the closet doors were hideous. The carpets and walls were badly stained. Of course, all of these things can be fixed up, replaced or repaired. But when we went home and ran the numbers we wouldn't be able to afford any of them. And if we did decide to buy it, the things we have said we valued wouldn't be possible either (retirement, savings for our children, travel, fun money, haircuts . . . you get the idea).

I've been waiting for a larger home for years. Seriously, we've been looking for over 2 years. And every time we have a contract in front of me and I think of what increasing our mortgage/rent payment would do to our lives, I can't sign it. And I look around our apartment and I wonder why I need more space at all. Thoughts circle in my mind nonstop. Needs vs. wants; present vs. future; security of savings vs. living paycheck to paycheck; faith vs. numbers on the screen; my desires vs. God's will . . . it doesn't end.

Paul writes in Philippians 4 (emphasis added):
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me.Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
We stayed up late discussing the pros and cons. Chris feeling that he could be confident in either step we took. Me feeling like I could be talked into taking it, but felt the loss of what we would give up. This morning, Chris grabbed our white board and we started making a list of what we loved about our apartment. It's a practice of growing in gratitude he has found helpful. Over the course of our lunchtime, this is what we came up with:

I am certain we will find more things to add - like it has a dishwasher and coin-operated laundry on site! So once again I find myself coming to a place of contentment in the space we are in. The space we have been in for 7 years. I think we'll keep trying to find a bigger space - we would like to host small groups again or have space for someone stay with us (please come visit us anyway!). But for now and the immediate future we are okay.

Dave Ramsey has a saying "Live like no one else so that you can live like no one else." He refers to saving for your retirement/future and not spending all your income now. I think that quote applies to us in a different way. We can live simply in a small space (when our culture tells us more/bigger is better) and save for retirement and do more things like travel or we can get a mortgage twice our rent and not really live. It's worth considering.

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