when your dreams change.

Not very long ago, God gave me my dream house. It was a house in the perfect neighborhood and the perfect school district. It was a corner lot in a cove. It had all the little details that I always dreamed of having in a home. I remember walking in the house the day that we signed the papers and dreaming of all the things that our family would do together in our home. I pictured Avery walking down the stairs in her prom gown, Charlie practicing the drums in a converted attic space, and David and I growing old together in that house.  Before we ever moved in, I prayed over each room and asked that God would take the gift He had given us and allow us to use it for His glory. It would be a home filled with love, prayer, laughter, and music. And I never wanted to move. Ever.

That’s why it seems totally crazy that just a few short years later, I can’t wait to leave it behind.

I guess I should explain myself, huh?

The last year and a half has been a year of refinement for me. A time where God has stripped away a lot of the things and relationships that I thought were really important in my life. Being refined can be really, truly painful.  But this year and a half hasn’t only been about “stripping away”, God has given me things too. Awesome things that I always thought I wanted. Things that had a whole lot to do with what I thought my life should look like. Things on my super long “life check list”.  My house was definitely way up high on that list.

Thinking back, I’m convinced that God gave me exactly what I asked for so that I would begin to realize how unsatisfying loving “stuff” is. It seemed that the longer we lived in our house, the tighter things became for us financially. Pipes started to burst, the roof started to leak, and our our beautiful house started to feel more like a prison than a palace. Financial stress is horrible. It’s suffocating. It steals the joy from your life. It’s not the way that I want to live – even if I do have a beautiful house.

I used to think that life was full of huge, important choices and that one wrong choice could change the course of your life forever. I don’t feel that way any more. I’ve come to realize that when you have a relationship with a good and gracious God, He can take even the worst choices and turn them around for His glory. God is such a loving Father. He never forces you to learn something. Instead, He patiently waits for you to have that “ah – ha” moment. He will allow you to have the things that you ask for (even if it’s not His perfect plan), and when you finally wake up and realize that you’ve made the wrong choice, He will take you by the hand and gently lead you to the right one.

Slowly, slowly, over the last year or so… through people, through books, through events, through loss and gain, God has been gently leading me.

In the book Kisses From Katie, Katie Davis said something that totally made sense to me. She said that she’d always read the scripture verse “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” and assumed that it meant that if she loved God that He would give her a great job, a great home, a great husband and family. Those were always the things that she desired. Just like every American girl. Then she went to Africa. And God changed the desires of her heart. Her desires weren’t things anymore – they were people. They were God’s glory. God’s will. Those were the things that she desired. And those are the things that he gave her. He gave her the desires of her heart.

For most of my life, I’ve been busy desiring approval, position, and possessions. My mouth says that I value God, family, giving, and living with freedom, but my life says that I value people’s perceptions, my house, and all my stuff more.

Like He did for Katie Davis, God is changing my desires. For the first time in a long time, I really, truly, desire His plan. Not mine.

After a lot of discussion and prayer, David and I believe that God is prompting us to get rid of all of our debt and to live below our means. That means doing something that most people will think is crazy. It means selling my beautiful house in the perfect neighborhood and moving back into an itty bitty house.

It also means that we will be able to do things we haven’t been able to do in three years.  We will be able to travel when we want to. We will be able to give generously. We can plan for the future. Most importantly, we can finally dump all of the stress that living at the very edge of a paycheck has brought.

Ron Reynolds said, “Debt freedom is the one freedom that makes all other freedoms possible.” I’ve always believed it, but never lived like I did. I’m ready to change that.

Let’s start the next chapter.

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11 thoughts on “when your dreams change.

  1. Oh my word, Jennifer. First and foremost, thank you for writing this…secondly, I think part of the reason you wrote this is so God could allow you to minister to me. I’m just going to be totally up front with you and tell you that Todd and I have been struggling financially. As the bills pile up and we get further and further behind, we’re are at a breaking point. Something has to give, and it seems like that God is pointing arrows to my house. I don’t know if this will mean apartment life for us, or what, but I know it’ll involve a rental of some sort.

    I have struggled with all those same things you wrote about~mostly what other people perceive of me. My home is my pride and joy…but maybe God is telling me that He alone should be my pride and joy. And my kids and husband, of course.

    This post is eye-opening for me, and it might be a part of what God is leading us to…so thank you for being so transparent in writing this. I know it wasn’t easy, but you have blessed my heart tonight. I know that in doing so, God will in turn, bless you and your beautiful family.

    • Thank you so much for your sweet encouragement. I have to say that my ego worries about what people will say and how they will respond, but ultimately, I need to be obedient. Know that I am praying for you and your family too!

  2. So needed this! It is so hard to not get caught up with wanting the stuff. I live in a small house in not the best neighborhood but i am able to stay home with my 3 kids (and one on the way) and we have love in our home. Its so hard to not want more though. But reading this is helpful to me to so many ways.

  3. Jennifer,
    I love this! I used to have my big beautiful house, too. It was fabulous and more than I had ever hoped for. It was where our kids were to grow up and the grandkids were to come visit me! Don’t even get me started on my back porch…my personal oasis. But God told us to let go. And we did. And it was hard. And I grieved. But oh the blessings that have followed and the lessons we have learned! It’s just stuff! We have been in our down-sized “fixer upper” for almost 5 years now and we will stay here until God gives us the green light to do something different. That decision has allowed us the freedom to do just what you hope to do! We are able to be more generous, we have awesome vacations, and if my sister needed me to be with her in Australia tomorrow, I could go because our income is not tied up in our house. But prepare…as much as you know it is exactly what you are supposed to do, it will be hard and you will grieve…but once it’s over, you will be so thankful for all that God will teach you through it! Can’t wait to see your creativity come out as you make your next house into a home!
    Love,
    Julianne Carney

  4. Wow. Thus is so very awesome!! What an encroachment to me…we are working hard to pay off our credit debt.
    Can’t wait for Chris to read this. Thank you!!

  5. I’m praying for you, my little friend, and David and Avery and Charlie. This is one of those “God adventures”. Can’t wait to hear about the journey and the blessings along the way.

  6. How grateful I am that God deals with us/me so graciously:) What an encouragement to read all He is doing in your heart and life!:) It will be fun to see all He is going to do! May these next days, months, and years be some of the sweetest yet!!:)

  7. This is truly awesome! You are such an amazing writer. Mike and me definitely understand this. Financial stress does feel like your a prisoner. I love what God does in our lives because it is always the right choice,even though it might take us awhile to see that.Thank you for sharing your story !It’s what we all need to hear!!

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