First of all, can I just start off by saying that I love summer? I love the feel of the air on summer mornings, driving with the windows down and sunroof open and listening to country music. I love food on the grill, cookouts with friends, corn on the cobb, watermelon, and popsicles! I love swimming pools, lakes, beaches and vacations. I love less makeup and wavy hair and maxi dresses. I love that Jordan’s job switches gears and slows down in the summer, and we get to spend more time with him. I love all of it! Well, except for the 90+ degree temperatures and humidity. But other than that, two thumbs up for summer!
Jordan and I have been living in apartments for the past 4 years of our marriage. So for us, summer always offers the option of re-signing our lease, or moving. Last year we re-signed our lease for our current apartment (which meant it was the first summer since being married that we didn’t have to move!). It was nice to just feel settled. But this year we will be moving, due to some allergy and asthma issues related to our apartment that I won’t take the time to go into right now.
Every summer that we look into moving, I wrestle with the same tension: my desire for a house, and our financial reality.
I really want to live in a house. We are not in a place to buy one right now. The price of rent in this area is absurd. My husband is a full time campus minister (i.e. not a millionaire), and we live solely off of his income. I owe Elon University about a billion dollars (or something like that) in student loans. So, you know, we’re a bit tied down. We choose for me to stay home full time, and I still joyfully choose that, even in the face of my desire for a house (not that it would matter all that much if I worked, given the absurd cost of childcare in this area).
So that is the situation. And here I find myself every year, wrestling.
Recently, we have had two potential house rental situations that I got really excited about. Both situations seemed almost like a done deal that just needed some logistics tied up. I found myself spending much of the day dreaming about our life in those houses. Having more space! Hardwood floors! And best of all, a fenced in yard for Riley to play in!
“Kids need a yard to run around in.” That is something that I have heard a lot, and something I have thought too. So when we end up living somewhere without a yard, I feel like I am somehow depriving Riley of a childhood right.
So you can imagine my excitement at the thought of being able to give that to her, and then my huge disappointment when both opportunities fell through. The only options that seem to be available to us now are more apartments.
We have a post-it note on our computer that says, “Don’t let external circumstances dictate your view of God.” I must admit that lately, I have been letting our circumstances (including many outside of just our housing situation) dictate my view of God, and it has really brought my spirit down.
But yesterday God gave me a beautiful gift that offered me some perspective and encouragement:
Earlier this week, we had bought Riley a little $10 kiddie pool. We don’t have much space for it, but I figured we could squeeze it in on our little back patio/porch. That way I could sit back, dip my feet in, and read while she happily plays :). So we filled it up with water last night, and threw a bunch of toys in for her. Riley loved it! But the best part was that it attracted the neighborhood kids. Riley adores the neighborhood kids. Most of them are older than her and are so sweet to her, and every single day she asks us, “Play kids outside?! PLEASE play kids outside?!”
So here we were yesterday, on our little back patio with a huge bowl full of watermelon and four excited kids crammed into Riley’s little kiddie pool. For hours! They had the best time, and Riley was just beaming with pure delight and pride in her little pool. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a small group of kids so happy, and it just expanded my heart with so much joy.
It made me realize this: none of these kids have yards to play in. They have a back parking lot, and several little back patios that belong to their neighbors. And yet these kids are always playing outside together! They are always being creative, making up little games. They are always laughing. And they always seem so happy with the simplest of activities.
In our culture, we tend to think that we need to give our kids more. We need to give them big houses and yards and more toys and come up with more activities to make them happy. We stress ourselves out over it. Yet I’m reminded that some of the happiest kids I have ever seen were the ones I’ve worked with that lived in poverty and had nothing. We have so much compared to them! And yet they exuded so much joy.
This world we live in can be a wonderland. It is a huge playground, a mystery, an art piece, and adventure! It is a gift from God that children love to explore. Their little imaginations can often do so much with something as simple as a stick and a rock.
No matter where we live, our children have that gift from God. And the more material things I give my children, the more hurdles I am probably putting in their way to being able to fully explore and imagine.
But most of all I realized that God is always taking care of us. Even when it may not seem like He is, all we have to do is walk outside and realize that the sun and the clouds and the trees and the breeze and the sound of birds chirping or the sound of rain that nourishes – all of these things He created for us!
This morning I read this in Charles Spurgeon’s “Treasury of David”: (on Psalm 27:14) “Wait on the Lord. Wait at His door with prayer; wait at His foot with humility; wait at His table with service; wait at His window with expectation.”
I prayerfully went through each one of these things and tried to picture myself doing it. I pictured myself waiting at God’s door in prayer, and suddenly I had a picture of Him opening the door and saying, “My child, come in!” Then I pictured myself bowing at His foot in humility, but sensed Him saying, “Rise up, love!” I pictured myself coming up to His dinner table like a waitress, ready to serve Him. Instead I sensed Him laughing and saying, “You are my daughter! Come have a seat!” Then I pictured myself waiting at His window in expectation. Again, I sensed Him laughing, opening the window and saying, “You are my daughter! Come in through the door, it is always opened for you!”
I don’t know if we will end up in a house or an apartment when our lease ends. But it doesn’t really matter, does it? Because all that God has, He has given to me (Luke 15:31)! As His daughter through Christ, I may dwell in the house of the Lord. Is there really anything else I need?
“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” – Psalm 27:4