In cards, a “full house” is when you have three of a kind and a pair, and you usually go all in. In real life, a “full house” is when you have three boys and a pair of girls, and you wonder how you will go all in! Seriously, if you count the dogs, we have 10 living things in about 1300 square feet of space! I think Bob Saget had a better ratio.
We bought our house in April of 2007, well before we ever entertained the idea of adopting, much less adopting five kids. We did it in a bit of a rush as Beth was working a ton and I was busy splitting my time between my doctorate and work too, but we found a neat little place in the DFW area in a bunch of streets named after Monopoly streets. I often joked about buying all the houses and putting up a hotel. Beth moved in, and I stayed with my folks until we got married that November. Let me pause right here and say it’s a tad frustrating being a first-time home buyer in 2007 when you hear about a first-time home buyer tax credit for people purchasing in 2008! Oh well. You win some, you lose a lot!
Nonetheless, Beth had a bed, a TV tray, and a futon pillow. That was about it. We used to think, “How will we ever fill this massive house?” Little by little, our spartan walls and floor-space morphed into a pretty comfortable place to be for two people. Some friends from church gave us their old bed and dresser in 2008 (which we still have, even though the mattress tag says it was manufactured in 1982! I was manufactured just two years earlier). In 2009, we splurged and spent our income tax return getting a sectional and a recliner for the living room. It was our first and only new store-bought furniture, and we were so excited, we slept on the sofa for a week straight. By 2010, because interest rates had gotten so low, we refinanced from a 30-year loan to a 15-year loan for almost the same price (That’s the “you win some” part). By US standards, it wasn’t much, but we filled it with love and we have tried to bless as many people as we can with it. When 2011 came around, I discovered that by non-US standards, this place was a mansion as I saw how people lived in a very poor part of Peru on a mission trip. This trip also broke my heart for South America, which is why in 2012, five Colombians were able to call this little house their home too. Now, in 2013, I sit and wonder, “how did this place fill up so fast?”
So, for the past six months, all 10 of us have been living here. It isn’t too bad, and I know guys on submarines have it worse, but we started thinking about buying a bigger house. We contacted a realtor and a mortgage company to see what the real estate business is like since we’ve been out of the game for 6 years. Good news! Rates are low and prices are down, but we needed to act fast because these incredible deals won’t last long!
Our vision started out small. I thought about how nice it would be to get to my sock drawer in the closet without having to move the vacuum right in front of it. Beth imagined having a laundry room where we wouldn’t have to stack the washer and dryer and turn them sideways to get them to fit. We started thinking about having a nice big common room for our kids to play. We thought about possibly getting four bedrooms so we would only have to double-up instead of triple-up like we are doing now. We also considered possibly having a pool and/or some acreage for our kids to enjoy. I wanted to have a bigger garage or a storage building for tools and hobbies.
After doing some homework, researching the area, and looking into financing, we got the dollar-figure that we would have to pay a month to make it happen. It was bigger than I was expecting, but it wasn’t out of the realm of what we could handle. So we started to pray, seeking God’s wisdom, and we stacked up pros and cons…
1. We have more space to spread out and we can have all that junk I said in paragraph 5.
2. We get a good interest rate since they are still super low right now.
3. We can buy a bigger place right now because housing prices are still depressed from a few years ago.
4. We can bless others by having parties, family events, and dinner guests at our house, more so than we can now.
1. We would take longer to pay off our adoption debt, which, right now, we are planning to have cleaned up by this time next year.
2. The extra jobs we are working right now would no longer be for extra money to dump on our adoption debt but money that we would absolutely need to survive.
3. We wouldn’t have extra money to give to others to help them out.
4. Our marriage and family would be under more financial stress.
5. We would have to say no to vacations, trips to the museum, and other fun things that come up.
I remember thinking, “If we didn’t have to tithe…” NO! Stop! Pare (because we speak Spanish now)! You idiot! When I started rolling around thoughts of stealing from God in order to satisfy my will, I realized that I was on a dangerous path. I also looked at my pro and con list. All of my pros, with the exception of #4 are self-serving. Also, almost every con will make it harder to serve my Lord and Savior (which isn’t me).
We prayed for wisdom, and God answered, even though it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. So, after all that, it looks like our little place in Texas will be our little place in Texas a while longer. Don’t get me wrong, at some point we will move and get a bigger place, but God made it clear to me that now was not the right time. Maybe in a year or two, but for now, I need to be patient and, most of all, content.
I learned some stuff through this process. God calls us to balance stewardship with faith in every aspect of our lives, and certainly, our money is one of those areas. However, the thing that hit me was, I rarely think He wants us to step out on faith when it is satisfying our will and not His. Also, I’ve learned over the past few months, when you are close to your family, you get close to your family. Our kids need to be close to their forever mom and dad right now. They don’t need a few more square feet.
Our culture here in the US tells us that we need the biggest house we can get, especially when you have so many kids. Our culture also says that adopting five kids, all at once, without ever being a parent before is crazy too. We followed God’s will on that one, and it has been incredible. We’ll just see what He’ll do with this one!
This house is little, but it will always be the place we first called home… and as for me and this little house, we will serve the Lord!
At the dinnermesa,