Thursday, March 5, 2015

Our crazy move to a smaller, crappier house

Old House, New House. 
So I moved. It's been about a month and it has not been that awesome of a month. I have really dragged my feet (drug my feet?) about writing this post because what I have to say is rambling and weird and doesn't make a lot of sense. So I'll just start and you can see if you care to read to the end.

Jay and I get antsy. I don't know if it's because we grew up with some chaos in our lives or what, but we can only go about two years before the "let's do something different" monster starts to rear its head. We've moved, changed jobs, left the country, had babies, quit careers, and gone to grad school. Because the same is boring and we, like I said, get antsy. It feels like a physical weight that might suffocate me if I don't find some new mountain to climb fast.

Since our youngest turned two last summer it was about time for something else before we found ourselves with yet another kid. We wanted something harder and more challenging--I think it makes us feel alive. I looked into returning to teaching, but that didn't work out (and if I get up the courage to bare my soul I will write about that soon) and so we started pondering what we wanted to do differently. The idea really became "if we don't have a known path to take, what unknown path could we blaze together?"

Thus began some months of prayer and discussion and dreaming that led us down ideas of international travel or living, selling everything and roaming around for a year, and of homeschooling our kids during our travels. It was all crazy and expansive and incredibly exciting. But we had to make some decisions--where are we going, what are we doing, and are we going to do anything at all?

As we prayed we felt God calling us to live more closely, more freely, and more simply. Jay and I had no idea what that meant in any practical way. We began to compare what we were spending our time and money on to those goals of "closer, freer, simpler" and one of the things that we realized was that we had a big house with a lot of stuff in it and not all that much time together. So our first step became to sell our house and get rid of some of our stuff.

And we did sell the house in about 3 days and then we had to find somewhere to go and it has all been totally whirlwind and chaotic. Which I kind of like, but it also freaks me out. I am complex.

I learned how to sell furniture on Craig's List and that Goodwill eventually gets tired of seeing you. I learned about proper house framing technique (apparently our former house had a leaning chimney--who knew?). I learned that most smaller construction of the past 20 years doesn't come with much of a yard.

And then we packed up all the stuff we had left and moved our four kids into an older house that is about a thousand square feet smaller than our last one.

We are certainly, objectively, closer. There isn't all that much room. We have clearly simplified our possessions, but I still have boxes of toys that are sitting in the garage. Which, by the way, might be too short for the minivan. Freer? Well, we have a great back yard where the children roam and play more freely than they did. And this house cost us less than our old one so our finances are freer for our dreams of travel.

We also used the disruption of moving to experiment with a new school for our kids. They go to classes twice a week for instruction and tests and then do their practice, homework, and projects at home the other three days. Again, definitely closer and freer--not sure about simpler, but we're new to this. We are planning on using the more flexible schedule to achieve our first travel goal of visiting all 50 states as a family (which I will also write about soon).

But even though I am glad to be on this journey, and would absolutely choose it again, it has been hard. The kitchen cabinets are 40 years old and you can tell every time you open a drawer. My bathroom is tiny and I don't know where to put my contacts. The laundry room is in the garage and it is cold--except in August when I may die of heat stroke in there. The house still smells like old people somehow. And although our mortgage is less it feels like we are hemorrhaging cash paying for things like door knobs (there were 4 different kinds of knobs on 12 different doors and I could not handle it) and the benefits of insulation.

It's kind of hard to explain how we got here, but it involved a lot of deeply earnest prayer and fasting and a complete letting go of this crazy adventure.

Because that's what this whole life is; one bizarre and overwhelming adventure where we are called to do good and glorify God.

Oh, and I do love adventure. Adventure is why we randomly moved to another state once upon a decade ago. It is why we wandered around Europe one summer. It is how we wound up with four kids. It is what we want our children to see their lives as instead of as something to be slogged through complaining about politicians and how busy we all are.

I have had moments and even entire days when I've said, "Lord, is this the dumbest decision we've ever made?" (Side note, the actual dumbest decision we've ever made is a toss up between attending a time share sales pitch only to discover we were too young to claim the free TV prize and purchasing a Toyota 4Runner that was possessed and randomly locked and unlocked its own doors.)

I have been confronted with my own arrogance and materialism when I realized I care what other people think of my new house. I feel so much pressure to have something special or Instagram worthy to show off before I have people over. I hate it when I have to admit I am shallow.

I don't think it's the dumbest decision we've ever made, but it is scary and stretching and growing and that is always at least a little painful.

So I moved. To a smaller house in the hopes of living a bigger life. 

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