All is Future-Talk lately in the wedding department. The event-centered stuff is on hold temporarily (there really isn’t much more to do!), so Dayne and I spent some of the past few days apartment-hunting. We visited some very different apartment complexes, and today we narrowed our choices down to two.
It’s a difficult decision to make because we’re going to start house-hunting when we get back from the honeymoon. We have an awesome realtor-friend (shout-out to Kay!), and we want to take advantage of the low interest rates that are characterizing the housing market right now.
So we want to love our apartment, but not too much. We want to settle in, but not settle down. And we need some really flexible lease terms.
One of our prospects – we’ll call it Apartment A – offers a housing addendum where we’d only have to pay $50/month extra to enable us to freely break our lease with 60-days notice. In theory, that means we’d only have to pay $100 or $150 max to break the lease and become home-owners. This apartment complex has some stylish amenities – a fire pit at the pool, a nice gym, free continental breakfast on the weekdays (!), a big “business center” which offers free wireless printing, and gorgeous open floor plans with notably nice refrigerators and bathtubs.
Apartment B offers short-term leases at higher premiums (but how are we going to guess how long it’s going to take us to find a house?), and it has a pretty severe penalty for breaking the lease early — required 60-days notice and 2 months rent penalty. Their rent is a bit cheaper than Apartment A, but they also have a nonrefundable $350 amenity fee for use of the community pool, tennis courts, sauna, gym, and playground. But they have tennis courts, which is a huge plus for me! They also offer a very unique floorplan which I just fell in love with:
Apartment Complex B is also where Dayne used to live when we first started dating, so it holds some special meaning for us. They also have a wood-burning fireplace in the living room and some really nice built-in shelving.
It’s a tough decision and we’re praying through it (although, to be honest, our first instinct was to just make the decision based on our personal wishes & desires). Which brings me to my next piece of news: Dayne and I started praying together this weekend. I’m bolding it because it’s monumental. I think incorporating spiritual beliefs and practices into any relationship is hard work (and kind of unnatural, unfortunately), and while I’ve wanted our faith to characterize and direct our relationship, it’s been much harder to know how to put that into practice. We’ve been going to church together the whole time we’ve been dating, and we’ve done book studies and looked at the Bible together, but we haven’t prayed together or spent any intimate time reading the Bible together. Until now!!
Another thing that we’ve been talking about/hearing about/learning about, especially at church, is our finances.
Tonight’s sermon was incredibly good – about GIVING. I want that to be my first priority with finances, and I truly believe all that I have is God’s, but I am selfish and I struggle with living out what I believe. It’s so sad when I think about all the money I’ve kept and used for stupid things. Tonight Phil (the pastor) taught this order for what to do with your money when your receive it:
2) long-term investment
3) fixed costs
4) short-term savings (goals)
All of a sudden it clicked for me really clearly that we need to give before we do ANYTHING else. And Dayne and I are planning to start with 10% (scary to write this down and really commit to it, but we could use some accountability anyway!). We’re also going to read Your Money Counts together (our church has been encouraging using Crown Financial Ministries for money-management).
Our pastor made it really clear that the issue is not really about money, but about LIFE. Our culture teaches us that the way to find life is to accrue and hoard and spend. Jesus teaches us something radically different – that we find life by giving ours away. “Freely you have received; freely give.” – Matthew 10:8. God is the Ultimate Giver — and we are created in His image!
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” – 1 Timothy 6:17-19
Bottom line that I’m learning: money doesn’t make the world go ’round, God does.
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” – Matthew 13:44
I pray for Dayne & me: that our relationship would be a reflection of our Savior — of His generosity, compassion, and love. I pray that we will be better together than we are alone, knowing that God has brought us together and intends for us to grow and glorify Him. I pray that the way we handle our finances would draw others toward Him, the Ultimate Giver. And I pray that we would really listen to Him when He tells us where He wants us to live!