2014 was a tough year for us. 2 job losses, struggling financially, sick parents, illness, surgery, and many other challenges. Throughout all of it we have watched the miracle of God's grace work in our lives. I am not ready to say we are on the other side of all of this yet, but instead of letting these issues tear our family and marriage apart, we have allowed God to use these troubled times to draw us nearer to Him and, in turn, each other.
It seems like for the first time in over 1 year, my head is clear and our path is firm. We have started to take our family budget seriously (we typically have been more of the "hope for the best" variety of financial planners). We have a significant hurdle of unpaid medical bills (due to our high deductible insurance plan-thanks Obamacare!) and the challenge of managing on about 1/2 the income we had last year. This means some serious changes must happen in our lives.
God has spent the past year refining us. He has helped us understand our priorities and correctly order them. He has shown us what we need to live and what we can live without. He has cut away the chaff from our lives to reveal the beauty of what He has created within.
In the spirit of full transparency, our biggest hurdle...ok, my biggest hurdle has been our home. This was supposed to be our lifetime home, where we watched our children grow, celebrated Christmas and Thanksgiving every year with our family, where our grandchildren would someday come back to play and learn and grow. But somewhere along the line, this house became a god to me. It was my perfect home, great layout, huge kitchen, new appliances, great master suite with a huge closet and master bath with double vanities and a garden tub. There is more storage in this house than I will ever likely need. I worshiped my home, I loved my home, I refused to let go of my home. My mouth said "I will go wherever you send me, Lord", but my heart was in these walls and was determined to stay here.
So now we come to the hard part, giving up our home; setting aside my worship of this compilation of brick and sheetrock and be fully willing to go where God sends me. I fought against this prospect for months. I just knew there was a way to save our home. One night, my husband sat me down and said "Meri, you know we can't afford to stay here. We can't keep pretending that we can continue to support our previous lifestyle on what we make. Moreover, we have to set aside our desires for God's will." (I am very blessed to be married to a wise and godly man).
It's so easy to fall into the trap of the "American Dream", the house, the 2 cars, the 2.3 children who attend the best school, the smartphones, cable with 600 channels, latest tech devices, etc.(I could go on for days). But through this process of refinement, I have come to realize that, as Solomon stated in Ecclesiates, "All is vanity." None of these things is fulfilling in the way that Christ is fulfilling. All of these things become a god in that we spend 40+ hours per week working to be able to continue worshipping them.
So this year, we have said "enough". No more worshipping this house of cards we have built in the name of the American dream. We will reduce ourselves to make room for God to work in our lives. I pray that God will continue to refine us and use our lives to further His kingdom.