Friday, September 30, 2011

The little house.. in Pelham.

Six months ago my husband said something to me that made my skin crawl.

"Why don't we take the money that is set aside for a buying a bigger house and put it on this mortgage. Then we can pay off this house super fast."


You see, at that exact moment I was feeling very cramped. Four small children, two adults and two fish all "cozy" in a 1300 sq. ft. house. (They say 1300, but I think it's more like 1000-1100). There are apartments bigger than our house. And I was feeling it. I was NOT saying I didn't like our house. This house is so much more than what either I or my husband grew up with. And our kids have never complained.

It was just that we actually had money to put toward a bigger house. So I cried my lament and my loving man (also wanting more space) agreed to put the house on the market, again. We had already tried to sell it for almost a year before that point. No luck. But we decided to put it back on the market.

Would you know that within two months, FOUR houses on our street also listed. Totaling TEN houses for sale on our street. TEN. Also, several were foreclosures less than $80k. So you get the idea, in this market, to be remotely competitive we would have to lower our price to the same price it was purchased at 10 years ago losing all the money we put into it. In the meantime, every house that we showed interest in would get an offer as soon as we thought we'd put an offer on it. This happened three times.

So, then this strange thing started to happen. As I am pondering the fact that our house may not sell I am seeing that it may not be "that bad" to stay where we are. Then God started to lead my thoughts to "what would life look like if we paid off this house?"

And for a week I wrestled with: the legitimate desire for more space and the legitimate freedom that would come from being completely debt free. Sure, we are debt free from "bad debt" but a mortgage payment is "acceptable debt." Even Dave Ramsey says so. But I just couldn't get it out of my head, all the possibilities that would open up if we delayed our dream home for about 5 years, to gain the ultimate dream: Financial FREEDOM!!

It took a single day of wrestling and in that same day I texted my hubby and said, "Lets do it. lets stay." That meant taking the house off the market, which we did and then making "the plan." Which involves taking our savings, putting it on our mortgage and then paying off the balance, which we believe we can do in two years by doubling our monthly mtg payment (which we are already doing). TWO YEARS. Then continue to stay in the house for at least three, to build up cash for the next house. Then sell this one and with the savings, buy a bigger house: with CASH. (but I know, I am fully ready for God to lead us to something else, something different, as in another change of plan.. I just want to be ready).

In the meantime, being able to give like never before and to be able to see dreams realized.

And part of this process, trying to see the bigger picture and delaying a dream (not the death of one).. all of the sudden my house seems so much sweeter to me than it did before. Suddenly, I am beyond thankful for this small space and all that it is allowing us to do. I am so thankful that, while it wasn't a wrong vs. right decision, God gave wisdom and I think, divine intervention: hello 10 houses for sale on our street, pitiful market. etc., to allow for us to make an amazing decision that we obviously didn't choose at first.

so that's it. We are staying. And we couldn't be more excited.

the fisheye lens makes it look bigger..but I am so thankful for this space..

We've always LOVED our back yard.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sweet.. or is it??

Take a look at this precious picture..

Two brothers, embracing each other. Connected by the bonds of brotherhood. Awww.. everyone say "Awwwww.."

Wait, what is Jorge whispering into Alex's ear?

A plot to attack the boys who won't play with them on the playground?

"You take the front, I'll take the back?"

Well, a momma can still be proud of the unity of at least these two, right??

Thursday, September 1, 2011

after a "bad" homeschooling day

(I finally wrote this keep my sanity. I know I am opening myself up to attack for posting this.. but oh well).


Face it Rachel:

· There are better teachers out there than you.

· School isn’t evil.

· Your children would “survive.”

· Life would be “easier.”

You obviously aren’t hs’ing for academic reasons. You aren’t hs’ing because you think that this is a quicker way to sanctify yourself.

It’s also apparent that hs’ing isn’t:

· Easy.

· A quick return.

· Convenient.

· Fun (most of the time).

· What allows for the most free time.

· For everyone.

· Law (as in, “you are more spiritually pleasing” to the Father if you hs).

So, here is what HS’ing is (perceived negatives):

· Difficult

· Frustrating.

· Emotionally taxing.

· Physically draining.

· A slow process.

· Inconvenient (at times).

· Demanding of your time, energy, and brain space.

But Rachel, it is a CHOICE.

So why in the world, knowing all of the above, are you choosing to do this?

I want to do home education because:

1. I get to follow my kid’s learning pace.

Yes, Rachel. Your child will hit a wall. He will forget what he’s learned and you will have to back track. But hs’ing allows for you to catch on when this happens and then give him/her the attention they need. You can stop the class and say.. “Lets scratch that and move on to this” or “hey, lets go back a few lessons and review.” This is NORMAL. And being able to work the lessons around where he is will build confidence and the truth is: HE/SHE WILL get it soon enough. Part of hs’ing is not defining what grade your kid is in bc, quite honestly, while he may be 1st grade math he could still be kindergarten with reading. That is NORMAL. And will likely be like that his entire education years (ahead/current with some subjects and “behind” in others). And imagine the confidence he/she will have knowing that that is Okay.

2. He/She avoids playground politics.

One of the main reasons why you want to educate at home is because you want for your kids to not have to deal with “the reality of the real world” as a young kid. You want to allow them to be free to play and learn instead of worried about Johnny on the playground pressuring them, or berating them. You are not na├»ve in this effort, knowing that, YES the world is brutal, but you want to build your arrows strong before you send them into that battle.

3. You are able to work on the heart issues that come up everyday.

This used to be pie in the sky for you, but now it makes sense. Remember Jorge being the bully. In school, this would be up to the teacher to work on, until he got home and then you would only have a few hours to help him. But at home all day, he is with you and with his siblings and you are able to see it first hand and deal with it every time it comes up. And you are able to have those heart to heart conversations leading him to the Gospel of Christ and His desires for his little life. That is so worth every ounce of frustration over phonics. But also having them home all day means that you see their sin (all day long) and not just one kid.. but four. It is very draining, emotionally, to have to deal with this.. but you know it is close to your heart. And that drives you to pray for wisdom and remember that THIS is a benefit of hs’ing: you have all day to pray with them and talk with them about the very things they struggle with.

4. So much flexibility with the daily routine.

Rachel your heart longs to cherish this time while they are young. To be able to go to the park, have fun, snuggle at naps and just be around each other.. while that season exists.

With this said, you need to remember a few things, Rachel:

· There will be GREAT days. Progress is evident. Life seems perfect.

· There will be “BAD” days. They will regress. Life will seem bleak. And you will question, “Why am I doing this?” Remember: THIS IS A CHOICE. Your risks/benefits analysis says that you can handle the frustrations in light of the benefits for your family and for your children.

· You believe that the perceived negatives are really things that God can use to glorify himself (remember the day of spiritual warfare that turned into a wonderful sharing opportunity with the kids?).

· Your kids, at times, will have to back track. This is GREAT. It means you are listening to their needs.

· The younger kids will still “distract you” from school. But this is for their good too. Because they are learning as well. Not only from the discipline, but from what the older ones are learning (remember the catechisms).

· While you may not be the “best” teacher out there, you know your children the best. And you can be a great tool of encouragement in their lives.

· Daily struggle with patience or even desire to hs is an opportunity to go back to this list. But also to bring it to God. Ask Him if this is what’s best. And at any point, he could say “no.” There is grace to make a different choice. And there is also GRACE to keep the current one.

· Just like marriage, hs’ing is not a fairytale. At times it is painful, gut wrenching, crying, full of emotional roller coasters, fights, repenting of wrong, loving in spite of sin and a HUGE opportunity to receive grace as well as give it. It is not always the happy facebook updates/pictures. Those are the good days. Not everyone posts pictures of the crappy days. But that is not reality. Remember: it’s difficult to do home education. But good comes from both types of days.

· - You are not motivated by boot strap mentalities or thinking “Just push through” or even spiritual sounding mentalities, “this is for our good,” etc. What motivates you is this truth: You are a beloved daughter of the king regardless of where your child goes to school. Your desire to hs your kids doesn’t improve your standing with God (that is already sealed). What encourages you is to know that God is using even those depressing days with no progress and complete meltdown for His glory. Yes, that’s the same answer as “this is for our good” but if feels less preachy in the context of “he loves you regardless of what you decide to do.”

· It all goes back to YOUR list. Not someone else’s.