Thursday, July 7, 2011

An Interesting Dichotomy

As we left CTMDT we received hugs from many of our Brazilian friends who walked us out to the car where Junior was loading our luggage. After a smooth but exhausting day of traveling, we arrived home from Brazil yesterday afternoon. It is always nice to walk out of Seatac Airport and breathe in the freshness of the Northwest. There are many things that we love about Brazil, but the staleness of the air is not one of them! Between the exhaust fumes and the mugginess, there is a lot to be desired in the with regards to clean air.

We came home to a beautiful summer day in Seattle. I was in bed by 8:00 our time enjoying the comfort of my own bed! Sleeping in bunk beds with aged mattresses makes for a rough go at attaining sleep. I woke up at my normal time of 5:30, rested and thankful for my cozy home. I went for my daily prayer walk in the early morning drizzle, reflective and a little emotional with mixed feelings in my heart.

We put our dream home up for sale a few weeks ago. We have only had one person look at it which is no surprise in this economy. No one looked at it when we were in Brazil, but today a Realtor had set up an appointment to show the house for the second time. This is what I was reflecting upon with mixed emotions. We love our home and so it is with some sadness that we have made the decision to sell.

We love it and yet it has become a burden both financially and emotionally. It is so big that we feel like all we do is work. I guess we have come to a place in our lives where we just want to be free. I have spoken of simplicity in the past few months. We desire to simplify our lives. How many Americans live a simple life? I honestly can't think of but a couple of people. Marko and I want to be free financially and emotionally to go where we are called to go and to do what we are called to do. At this point, we feel a calling to Brazil. We have no desire to live there full time, however, we do believe that we are to be there part time and for a season. It does not make sense to maintain our large American home based upon this upcoming season of our lives.

We are also experiencing a dichotomy of sorts between our two worlds. To spend time in Brazil is to spend time with people who are very simple in their way of life. They typically have very small homes and older, commuter cars. Their focus is not on materialism, but is on relationships. They seem to have no need to "Keep Up with the Joneses," but instead seem truly content with the simplicity of their lives. I truly respect the Brazilians for having their priorities straight in this regard.

Coming home to our American way of living has become somewhat of a disappointment to us. Are we thankful to live in a country where the American Dream is attainable and desirable? The answer of course is "Yes". The American Dream, as we discussed in our Women's Growth Group at Church, is not a bad thing. Why shouldn't we dream of a better life for ourselves and our children? This in itself is not inherently bad. The err I believe is in the need to "trump" your neighbor: Is in the need to have more money, in order to buy more things, in order to impress others. Most Americans in their pursuit of "things" have landed themselves in a pile of debt for which they have to work their tails off to get out of! Is this a dream that should be admired? Is it a dream that other countries should imitate? I think not. Instead, I think that we should imitate other countries, like Brazil. In Brazil, most people still work hard to save their money and pay cash for their homes. Sadly, I think this is changing as more loans are made available, but there are still many who believe in buying only what they can afford. Please don't think that it is my opinion that all loans are bad. I realized that small loans can help people in poverty start businesses and have homes of their own. This is a good thing. I just disagree with taking out huge loans that can never be paid back and that place unnecessary burdens on families.

I realize that it is not possible for most Americans to pay cash for their homes based upon our current cost of living, but maybe our standard of living is the problem. If we lower our standard of living, perhaps we could actually experience a little more simplicity in our lives. Of course I recognize that many Americans probably don't want to lower their standard of living and that is their choice. I say none of this with a judgmental heart, just a heart that has experienced a lot of change over the past couple of years. A heart that wants everyone to be free of the stress that financial burden brings.

Humbly, and gratefully, the only debt that our family has is our home. Unfortunately, in this economy, the home loan that we have has become a burden. Marko and I want to be free from this burden so that we can pursue God's Calling on our lives, bless others, and be free of the stress that accompanies a mortgage. For these reasons, we have decided to sell our dream home, and because of this decision, I am now experiencing a mixture of emotions.

The people that looked at our house today seemed very interested and the person who looked at it a couple of weeks ago called back with some questions. I have a feeling our house will sell a lot faster than we have planned on. On the one hand, I am feeling a little sad and the thought of packing and moving is a bit overwhelming: not to mention we have no idea where we will go!! On the other hand, I will be very thankful if our house sells in this market, and I will look forward to what the Lord has in store for us!! I know this: He loves us and He wants only good for us.

Jeremiah 29:11 says: "I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

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