Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Who doesn't want a house? If one had a choice, and money was no object, wouldn't everyone choose to own a house rather than rent an apartment? But since we all know that for the majority of people, money is a huge concern how do you decide when the time is right to buy a house? And if you decide that you do want to buy a house, how does one decide how much one is willing to do without and how much one is willing to cut back in order to have said house? These are some of the decisions that Josh & I have been wrestling with over the past few weeks.

Josh wants a house...pure and simple. He wants it and according to him there is nothing that he would mind giving up or cutting back on to have a house. To him, now is the time to buy and if we wait we will never own a house. I would love a some point. There are many things that I would mind giving up and cutting back on if that is the only way we can afford a house. I believe that if we are meant to have a house, we will...but that doesn't mean now. I am content in my circumstances, even if that means continuing to rent an apartment. So how we reconcile these two VERY different positions? We are married and thus we must come to some sort of compromise since neither of us is willing to settle.

We qualify for a good-sized loan and at this point in time there are a variety of homes available for that amount or less in the areas we are contemplating moving to. A few of the homes we saw looked a little familiar - one was my sister's house, just flipped; another two looked like my parent's house, one exact and the other flipped. So yesterday I asked my sister and my mom what they pay for utilities each month. We needed to come up with an estimate for what our costs would be if we bought a house and this was a pretty decent way to guess at utility prices. In our apartment we only pay for electricity, phone, internet and DVR - water, trash, gas, and cable are covered by our rent. However, in a house we would have to cover all of those bills in addition to the mortgage, insurance and taxes. The difference in utilities was about $300.

So, last night Josh & I sat down and crunched some numbers. Based on an estimate for mortgage, taxes and home insurance our realtor had given us, the utility costs for my parents home, our other bills, and other budget lines (food, fun, etc) we determined that in order to have a house we would need to trim at least $1,000 from our monthly budget. This is a large number and it would involve very difficult cut-backs that Josh was completely willing to make, but I was not quite as certain. Part of my uncertainty stems from the fact that at the moment we are completely comfortable. We make enough to provide a comfortable life that allows us to go out to eat when we'd like, buy things when we want or need to, take vacations that can be costly sometimes, and not stress too much about finances. Buying a house would mean constantly cutting back every month for at least one year, and possibly several years. Yes, we would have a house, but for me I'm not certain if that is comfort enough.

A second concern is the possibility of becoming pregnant. If we bought a house and tightened up our budget and then we became could we afford it? We know that neither of us can stay home, so daycare is a must. More money would be taken from my paychecks to cover the additional health insurance. Furniture, clothing, diapers, etc would need to be purchased as well. I know we could handle either buying a house or having a baby...but I don't know how we could handle both at the same time. One way to tackle this problem is to discover whether or not we are even capable of having children. There is a concern that we cannot, and so we are going to take steps to discover if this is true or not. Once we have that information we can determine if this is even a concern, and then move on from that point.

After much discussion, much arguing and yes, some yelling and crying...we came to a conclusion that we are both willing to stick to for now. We will table the decision of buying a house until March. First, because the holiday season is upon us and the only way we could seriously cut back would be to cut out all Christmas money we are both unwilling to do this. Second, we need to finish paying off Josh's dental bill before mid-March in order to pay no interest. Third, we want to see if home prices will continue to drop. And finally, we will discover whether or not we can get pregnant. However, starting in January when we create our new yearly budget, we will start gradually cutting back in as many areas as possible and putting that money away in savings. This will help us to have something set aside for a down payment and also prepare us for the cut-backs that will come with either owning a home or having a child.

We do not know what the future holds for us - perhaps we will buy a house next year, or maybe we will have a child. No matter what happens, we are prepared to deal with it together in prayer and thanksgiving. We know how blessed we are, and I am grateful every day for the amazing ways that the Lord takes care of us.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

11 years since graduation...

This past Saturday night I attended the 50th anniversary of my high school which included an all-class reunion. The weekend began with an alumni flag football game on Friday, which I was not able to attend. However, it was apparently very well attended and a great game that I'm sad to have missed out on. Because that event was free, and because many of my fellow classmates were too "cool" to attend the dinner...not nearly as many alumni came to the reunion dinner. But that is Mr. Vance Nichols mentioned "The ones God wanted to attend were there, and hey....more prizes for all!"

About 40 people attended the dinner event which worked out to almost a prize per person which was pretty good odds. :) Of my former teachers, there were three in attendance - Mrs. Van Dyke, who taught English and now is middle school principal; Miss Brown, who taught Science and now is guidance counselor and oversees curriculum; and Mr. Nichols, who taught TV/Film and now works with the administration. The head of the school Mr. Lewis was also there along with a board member and the elementary school principal. Of the alumni we had a variety of years, including some from 1964, 1977, 1987 and most from the 90's and a couple recent graduates.

Me, Jodi, Rhyen and Angela. I went to school with all three of them - Jodi was a year ahead and Rhyen & Angela were in my class. Rhyen now teaches English, Yearbook and coaches Basketball at RCHS.

The evening began with a meet and greet time and some snacks. They had all the yearbooks out and available to browse through and we all enjoyed (well, maybe enjoyed isn't the word ;) looking at our younger selves. We had time to pray together and opportunities for professional pictures. Mrs. Van Dyke and Miss Brown took the opportunity to have a picture with all their former students in attendance. We then ate some delicious tacos catered by Izzy's Baja Grill located in the Adams Plaza. Dinner was followed by raffle drawing #1 including prizes of 50th anniversary RCS shirts, In & Out, Starbucks and Cheesecake Factory gift cards. I ended up winning a shirt, as did Jodi and Angela won a Starbucks gift card.

Jodi, Keri, Mrs. Van Dyke and Angela. We reminisced with our former English teacher about her trademarked teaching tool - Diagramland with residents like Suzy Subject, Vic Verb, David Direct Object, and others.

After the raffle, we had some fun with a couple games. First was a word scramble which proved to be more challenging than we thought. Then an RCS trivia game which our table scored very poorly on - but could we really be expected to know so many specific sports trivia? :) Even Mr. Lewis managed to miss 3 questions on that quiz...but someone did win a prize. Finally, there was a really fun music game created by one of the current teachers who is also an alumni. 23 snippets of popular music over the past 50 years were played and we called out the answers - much more quickly than Mr. Nichols expected which often made him laugh. Raffle #2 came next and many others became winners at our table - Danny & Jerry each won something along with several other alumni from other tables.

Friends - Jodi, Keri & Angela. We had a much larger group of friends in high school, but many of them were unable to attend due to sickness, distance, or vacations.

We then had the opportunity to choose what kind of cake we wanted from the 6 varieties available - I went for a small slice of both yellow cake/lemon filling and marble cake/chocolate cream filling. Both were delicious. :) We next had an award giveaway. Farthest distance went to Philip who came from New York, Chris who came from Texas and someone else who came from Mission Viejo. There were awards for oldest alumni, most kids, most grandkids, most siblings who attended RCS and a couple others that are included in picture form below.

Jodi won for most school spirit - not only because she was wearing blue, white and gold (our school colors) but also because she cheered so hard at the alumni game, and throughout the reunion dinner event. If anyone knows Jodi then you know she deserves this award! :)

Most classmates in attendance was 1997 - my senior year and equal to 10% of our graduating class! We had 4 alumni - Rhyen, me, Angela and Chris. We all won In & Out gift cards and I got to take home the trophy. :)

The event ended with raffle drawing #3, with many more prizes going out to the remaining alumni. We had closing prayer and more opportunity to chat and say goodbye to our fellow classmates. Though the attendance was small, I am so glad that I took the time and spent the money to attend. It was nice to see the former classmates and teachers that I saw and to hear what they knew about those not able to attend. I look forward to the next opportunity we have to come together to look back at our time at Riverside Christian and remember the fun, the lessons, and the friendships that we may have forgotten.

Best friends then and now - Keri & Angela. :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Knowing God is there

I felt the need today to look through my Bible. Since I am at work, I have my small pocket Bible and as I browsed through it I found many underlined verses and several of them seemed to speak to me today. I wanted to share them here...for my own benefit and also so that God's word may inspire someone else reading it.

Matthew 6:5-8
"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."

Matthew 6:31-34
"So do not worry saying, 'What shall we eat?' or "What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Matthew 22:37-40
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heartand with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Romans 13:1-5
"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience."

Ephesians 2:8-10
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

Ephesians 5:15-17
"Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is."

Philippians 4:4-7
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanskgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Colossians 2:6-10
"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority."

Titus 3:1-8
"Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous thingswe had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone."

Hebrews 13:5b-6
"...and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'"

1 Peter 5:7
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."

Psalm 121
"I lift up my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip - he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you - the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm - he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."

Thank you Lord for your words and the peace and comfort you can bring. Thank you for all the blessings in my life - a comfortable place to live, good food to eat, a multitude of family who love me, good friends to support and encourage me, a job were I can be a blessing and in turn bless others, the security of knowing that I am yours and will be with you forever in eternity. I love you.