I sat down to examine our finances about two weeks ago, and as I started considering where our savings accounts are at now, how much we’re putting away monthly, and how much we will be able to put away in the future, I started wondering whether August makes the most sense for us to start at SEBTS.
The short answer, on financial terms alone, is no. Not because we couldn’t afford it then, but because we can afford it so much better if we wait and start in the spring semester. God willing, we should be able to put aside somewhere around an extra $12k just by waiting those 5 months (and that’s estimating high on baby costs, ignoring May, June and July, and accounting for the cost of my buying a new, very pricey computer sometime late spring or early summer).
Seeing as that’s over half the cost of seminary, that was a pretty strong prompt to reconsider a bit. With my working full time over summers, we should only have to deal with living expenses during the semesters. Obviously that will take quite a load off of us financially, and that diminished load will translate directly into lower stress for each of us and for our marriage. Good things all around.
Upon realizing all of that, I started going back to a number of other concerns I had regarding the timing – most especially, including the difficulty for Jaimie especially when stacking so many significant transitions atop each other. If we stay through December, Jaimie will have 7 months to transition to being a mommy before we leave behind our existing friends and support network. She’ll also be much nearer her family for a little while longer. Both are important.
As a small but significant point, it also means Wildwood Community Church won’t be left without a pianist for 2 to 3 months (our other regular pianist is in Florida from April through October). That might not be a very big deal to most people; but we are not most people, as you’re well aware. Our membership matters, and continuing to serve is a good thing. We’ll probably be able to continue leading our small group through that time as well.
To my bemusement, the reaction of every single Wildwood-er we’ve informed has been the same: unbridled initial excitement, tempered after a moment by the recognition that it’s hard for me to wait the extra time. That’s been encouraging – to know that we are so loved and appreciated that people have real, immediate joy at the thought that we’ll be around longer is incredibly encouraging.
I know Jaimie is very excited to have the extra time near friends, and to be relatively close to her family for a few more months. For my part, the fact that we will be far away from our friends the Kings for a much shorter time is a plus, as well. No doubt having greater financial stability will make things easier on our family; financial stress on top of the emotional challenges of finding a new church and new friends and adjusting to a new city would certainly not be easy.
The downsides… well, Oklahoma isn’t getting any prettier, cooler, or less windy; it’s certainly not going to see a sudden increase in driver intelligence; and my job remains (and likely will continue to be) a source of frustration. But God’s grace is greater.
So while I’m not particularly excited about this decision, it is definitely the right one. One of the joys of being an adult, and one of the responsibilities of being a godly husband and father, is making the decisions we don’t necessarily like because they are best, even when they are not fun. I trust that God will work good through our obedience. In the meantime, you can pray for me to endure well. The reality is that I am profoundly dissatisfied with my job, tired of my commute, and long since ready to live someplace beautiful again. God has called me to glorify him here in the midst of those challenges, and that really is my desire. So pray for me!
PS – only about two months left till Baby Girl arrives! So fun!