Thursday, May 29, 2008

Extreme Makeover

If you are looking for funny stories about kids you might want to skip this post. It's a long serious post! I'm not usually into serious posts, but I really feel like I should share this.

So this post is going to take you back in time- almost 2 years. Almost 2 years ago Travis and I put our house up for sale with the hopes of selling it within no more than 6 months (keep in mind the housing market was still red hot then- especially in Houston). We built our house with the intention of only living here for a couple of years and then selling it to make a profit (Travis is a builder if you didn't know.) Little did we know that almost 2 years later our house would still be on the market and that we would witness several friends sell their homes during that time- some in a matter of days. We had glimmers of hope here and there of offers and then last year about this time actually accepted an offer that eventually fell through. Before Cooper was born we took it off the market for a couple of months to just be a family and enjoy our sweet boy without the stress of keeping a house clean and ready to show at anytime. At the end of September we put the house back on the market and realized it was a slower market than before, but we were still hopeful.

Fast forward to December 2007. Over Christmas we went to Harlingen which meant we had a 6 hour drive there and back. I decided to read a book that Travis had borrowed from a guy in his bible study. It was Dave Ramsey's "Total Money Makeover". I love all things finance so I really enjoyed the book and loved the principles that he laid out. Travis and I are not really big spenders but we always used the credit card for everything. We would always pay off the bill in full, but definitely would go over our monthly budget pretty much every month. With two kids in diapers and one on formula and baby food it is very easy to do. It was just too easy to slap that credit card down. Well, God used this book to totally transform our family finances. We pay cash for EVERYTHING now and when we are out at the end of the month we are out. What that means for us is that we have to make choices during the month about where we want to spend our money. At the beginning of the month I look at all of our expenses. I allocate money for the mortgage and bills and figure out how much discretionary money we have for the month. After that I figure out what are discretionary money will be spent on. Obviously diapers, wipes, formula, baby food, and groceries are at the top of our list. Then I figure in any gifts or travel expenses we might have for the month. I always have an idea of where our money will be spent during the month. Lastly Travis and I both get some "blow" money that we can do whatever we want with. Some months have been harder than others, but I'm not stressed out when bills are coming in at the end of the month anymore.

Anyway, I knew at the beginning of this year that God was really going to be working on our finances and make sure we were glorifying Him in every way with how we spent our money. When we started putting Dave Ramsey's principles into practice we used most of our savings to pay off Travis' truck and pay off our last credit card bill so we could start in January with cash. We had begun to build our emergency savings account again and were blessed with a significant tax refund to add to the account. We also received some bonuses from Travis' job and had added that to the stash. In March Travis and I started to discuss adding on to our family room in order to help our house sell. In all the feedback we received the main thing was that the family room was too small. Our realtor also thought that this was a good idea so we began getting things ready to add on. The week before we were to have work started on the house we believe that God started testing us. Travis went to church with the boys one Sunday without me (okay the reason was really vein- I had a HUGE fever blister! Travis even said he wouldn't blame me if I didn't go so I knew it was really bad!) Anyway, he came home and I asked him how church was and what the message was about. He said Jeff talked about faith and the story of Abraham. Travis mentioned that all he could think about was the house situation. I told him that I would try and listen to the message on the internet during naptime that week.

Let's just say that message was awesome! It totally convicted me and helped me to realize that we weren't relying on God's provision and we were relying on the "security" we had built up. We were trying to manipulate the situation just like Sarah did in the Bible when she had Abraham sleep with her maid servant to produce his "heir". That was not God's plan for Abraham and Sarah and we believed that we were not trusting God to provide in the same way. You see about the time we put the house on the market we committed a specific amount of money to our church building fund with the intention of using some of the profit to pay on that commitment. That's why we have kept the house on the market so long. Well, God had a different plan. We felt very convicted that He wanted us to use the savings that we were going to use to add on to the house to pay for part of our commitment to the building fund. So we did and we had so much peace about the whole thing. We knew that if God wanted our house to sell he could sell it with the family room just the way it was. And we knew we might have to wait a long time for the house to sell just like Abraham had to wait a long time for his son Isaac to be born. And we also knew that just because we did this didn't mean that God was going to sell the house. Well, I would love to say that the house has sold, but it hasn't- not yet. I believe that God has showed me that He is going to allow the house to sell to provide the money for the rest of our commitment to the building fund. We do have a family that is considering buying the house and so we are trying to be patient and trust God with His perfect plan for our lives.

I was reluctant to post this because I didn't want people to think we always follow everything God tells us to do and our lives are perfect, because we most certainly do not and our lives are far from perfect. We have struggled a lot over this house situation and deciding what to do. I mainly have shared this because I want to remember where we have been and remember what God has done in my life. I'm so thankful that God has used this time to transform our lives. We are also thankful for the huge blessings we have in our lives- healthy children, great marriage, wonderful family and friends. I wouldn't trade that for anything!

8 comments:

The Wiggins Family said...

Sarah- It sounds like you are exactly where God wants you. Dependant and in need of Him. I know it's been a rocky road and God has used it to keep you close to Him. I loved hearing you tell this story in bible study. It's always exciting to see God come through for you. I know He will. It may be a matter of time, but think about how He will transform you through it all (He already has). Stay faithful and don't loose hope! He is with you!

Dana said...

Sarah--thanks for sharing your journey so far--I'm so proud of you and Travis in your commitment to live in faith and in your commitment with finances. God will be faithful in providing for your true needs--in His perfect timing.

Love you,
Mom

The Chappelles said...

Sarah, Thanks for sharing. You are amazing and your faithfulness is a great example to me and my family. I will pray for you. May God Richly bless you!
(I hate I missed Bible Study yesterday)

Jenn said...

Sarah, thank you for your transparency! I have also experienced the choices that face a single-income family...and I can attest to God's goodness and provision! You have honored God by laying bare your heart and proclaiming His faithfulness.

Love you!
Jennifer

Christine said...

Sarah, I'm glad you shared. That is an awesome testimony of faithfulness (both God's and yours). I know God will provide a perfect buyer for your house at some point, but I'm thankful He's teaching you in the meantime. I'm proud of you, sis!

Ann Jud said...

Sarah,
Mark is a Dave Ramsey aholic. We quit using our credit card too. I hate not getting those airline tickets to go see my kids, but I am sure that we do think alot more about the money we spend because when you use that debit card, there has to be money in the bank. I know that God will bless you because of it.
Love ya,
ann

Kara Gordon said...

Sara,
You guys are definitely doing the right thing. Anthony is a firm believer in Dave Ramsey's financial principles. We live the same way. I know your house will sell just the way it is...it is a beautiful home!

brickmomma said...

Sara-

Great post-
I am procrastinating at the computer when I should be picking up but I think I was supposed to read this tonight!!!

Thanks-
jamee