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Our house before we bought it above

 

For the first year we lived here, this big room was such a disaster. It gave me heebie jeebies to see it! Back then, I was a perfectionistic housekeeper and wanted my house to look magazine perfect all the time. It REALLY stressed me out to live in so much chaos all the time. IT DID NOT look anywhere near perfect AT ALL for a long, long time! Even though Greg and his dad estimated it would all be done – the whole house – in “6 months.”

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This room took almost a year to redo – 6 nights a week of work until midnight every night, lots of blood and sweat on their part, and many tears on my part. I MISSED Greg so much. He didn’t have time for me or the children, he was trying so hard to finish the renovations. I was very lonely. THANKFULLY, I had the OLD kitchen in another part of the house to use during the year that it took to build the new one! I do have to admit, seeing the room be transformed is exciting. Especially when it is done! My husband sure loves me a LOT to be willing to work this hard to make me happy!

 

For the first 4+ years we were in this house – we always had at least 600 square feet of unusable space that was under construction. You know what? I don’t really EVER have any desire to do a major remodel of a house again!

Some of my most disrespectful times were during that first year and a half when Greg was working full time at work and working on the house 40 hours a week, too, or more. And I was up nursing and taking care of our baby almost every night multiple times. I was working 21+ hours per week at Target Pharmacy at the time. She and I were constantly sick. I only got 2-4 hours of sleep every night that whole year and a half. I almost never slept more than 30 minutes at a time. It was awful. I was so terrified I was going to misfill prescriptions I was way past exhausted and into the nervous breakdown stage for so long. Let me just say – trying to do massive remodeling yourself AND having a sick, fussy, baby who can’t sleep well AND having chronic sinusitis and major dust allergies are not the best recipe for a strong marriage or for anyone’s sanity!!!!

  • The work Greg and his dad did was so beautiful. I am very proud of them!

They are two extremely talented, hard working men who do things RIGHT. Even if it takes longer. Even if it takes 4 hours of discussion before 1 hour of work. I was not very patient about that! I just wanted it DONE. Now, I understand the wisdom they had in being sure they were doing things right. I regret how disrespectful I was about that back then!

I got to help paint and I picked out the colors. The cabinets Greg got at less than 1/4 their usual price because they had been display models. Greg and his dad tore out walls, raised the ceiling, installed the cabinets and the plumbing. The appliances were all at special deals or on clearance. Greg is the best at finding great deals and researching until he is satisfied he has the best deal. They did a fantastic job. I can’t begin to imagine how many tens of thousands of dollars they saved us. They found the floors at a huge discount, too.

Was it worth 4.5 years of dust, mess, expense, problems, sweat, blood and chaos? I’m not sure. I can’t say that I would recommend it. I do wish I had known then what I know now about marriage. But I did learn some spiritual lessons because of it that I am very thankful for and I know God was sovereign even over that period in our lives. I’m super glad that phase is over – for the most part – at least! I am thankful for our relatively small mortgage and lack of other debt. I am thankful for our neighborhood and the kids’ schools and that we are so close to Greg’s parents. I am VERY thankful we didn’t buy a brand new house we had talked about building that would have had a mortgage that was way over twice what ours is now. With my hours being cut so much, and so few part time positions being available in pharmacy now, I would have probably had to go back to work full time, which would have made me VERY stressed and VERY sad.

This room has caused a big stir on my YouTube channel. Kind of shocked me a bit how many people judged me, my respect for my husband, our marriage, my spirituality and Greg just by seeing this room. YouTube is an interesting place. I have received I think at least 8-10 “marriage proposals” there so far and some unbelievably inappropriate propositions by quite a few men. What is THAT about?!?!? BUT – God is at work. I am seeing Him change many women – and some men, as well – on my channel, there, too. That is what I get most excited about! (My channel is “April Cassidy”)

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Our Western culture is ALL about materialism, having nice things, having a beautiful home, having beautiful cars, having the newest technology, having STUFF. Greed is expected, rewarded and exalted here.

That was my desire – to have a perfect looking house to live in. But I have to say – living in constant renovation dust and mess for years taught me quite a bit of patience and made me take a look at my priorities. I think I would have been a lot happier with a not-so-perfect house and more time with Greg and family, to be completely honest.

God dealt with me about my sin of materialism about 3 years ago when I read David Platt’s book, Radical.
He showed me that I made having a perfectly beautiful house WAY, WAY too important in my life. It was very possibly an idol in my heart for years. 🙁 Ugh.

If I had the choices to make over again in our house – there are definitely areas where we could have saved more money and I can think of ways we could have been much more frugal if I knew then what I know now. I let go of my dream to have a “magazine perfect” house and to have everything perfectly in order. I really don’t care much about that anymore. I want to keep my house clean, orderly and welcoming, yes. But I repented of my perfectionism and materialism.

The original bathrooms are still 50 years old and one has cracked tile all the way around the walls. That’s ok with me now. I don’t even care anymore if we ever remodel them or not!!! It is just so lovely not having renovations going on and to have Greg so much more involved in the family – I am ecstatic to leave things exactly as they are! I used to think we HAD to gut the original bathrooms to the studs, have new dry wall and new tile on the floors and walls. Now – I seriously do not care. If they stays like this forever – fine with me!

(You can hear David Platt’s sermons, or read them, at www.radical.net. I recommend ALL of his sermons and material very highly!!)

I have been on quite a journey with God on this issue the past few years. My hours as a pharmacist were cut from 24 hours/week to 8 hours per week about 3 years ago. Then last year, my hours were cut to 3 hours/week. I do get to work extra occasionally (like this week – which Greg deeply appreciates). But I have honestly enjoyed being home so much more, having the opportunity to minister to wives and time to be with our children and my husband and to not have to work on evenings, weekends, Sundays and holidays much at all. These past few years have been my favorite in my whole life on every level. I don’t know what the future will hold. But I am savoring the moment.

I love living in a frugal way. I am not the ultimate poster child for being frugal. I have many areas where I am sure I could be much more frugal. Greg doesn’t like me to go too crazy with frugality – so I try to honor him and not become a money Nazi (like I was for awhile)! It is possible to go too far that way, too. I about made my sweet husband miserable by dictating to him that he could not spend any money and that we should get rid of almost all of our expenses.

Now, I am very conscious of the fact that all we have belongs to God and I want to use it wisely. I want to bless my husband and our children by my choices and honor God and bless others.

Greg and I have always been super responsible with money. That was one area we always pretty much agreed on – even in the first years of our marriage. Our parents taught us well, in my view, on this topic. I respect Greg so much for how careful, thoughtful and resourceful he is with finances.

 

How we live now:

  • Our only debt is our mortgage – and it is a relatively small mortgage because we bought an old fixer upper house.
  • We don’t buy things we can’t afford, and never did buy things we couldn’t afford.
  • We drive old cars (mine is 8 years old, Greg’s is 17 years old) – we LOVE not having car payments!
  • I do all of our shopping at Walmart – groceries and a lot of clothing (except for the UV protective long sleeve shirts I have to wear in summer because of my sun allergy. Walmart doesn’t carry those!)
  • The clothes we don’t get at Walmart, usually Greg finds at the flea market. He usually spends $0.25 to $1 per article of clothing he finds there. The only brand name clothing items we own are from the flea market.
  • Greg buys a lot of my makeup, shampoo, toiletries, etc… from the flea market for about 1 dollar per item. I love that man!
  • Our house looks AMAZING and looks very expensive, but Greg found almost all the things he used for the renovation at deep discounts, on Craig’s list, at the Habitat for Humanity store, at the flea market or some place that was selling display models at a fraction of the usual retail cost. And he and his dad did almost all of the work themselves on our house.
  • I get my hair trimmed about once a year, and sometimes, I just cut it myself. I cut our daughters’ hair myself. I have never in my life had a professional manicure or pedicure.
  • We have always tithed.
  • As Greg is led and as I ask about giving, we give to specific needs of others at times.
  • I make most of our meals from scratch.
  • We don’t eat out very often. I would be content even if we never went out to eat.
  • We haven’t gone on vacation in 2 years, until last week. And, if you read about our trip, you know that it was one of the most amazing deals Greg has ever found. 🙂
  • Basically, I only spend money on groceries, medical things and gas. I rarely spend money on anything else (occasionally clothing, if needed).
  • My skirts are almost all from 5 years ago. I love them. I am content with what I have.
  • I keep the thermostat at 80 degrees F in the summer and at 60 degrees F in the winter.
  • Our children go to public school – and we do not live in the “best” school district. We love our children’s schools. We have had nothing but wonderful experiences with the teachers there and we have had great experiences with our children’s classmates. But our children go to schools where the poverty level is 90%. I actually find it refreshing in many ways because there isn’t that peer pressure to have expensive clothing/homes/cars that I remember at my high school where the population was much more wealthy.
  • I remember so vividly a few years ago, determining that if God wants us to sell our home or all of our possessions, I would be happy to do that. I can honestly say that I am completely willing to do that.

I seek to hold everything loosely in my life except for Jesus.

I know that houses and stuff can vanish very quickly in a flood, earthquake, fire or tornado. I don’t want to find my happiness in things or get too attached to them. I trust God to give Greg wisdom – and I will jump on board with whatever God leads my husband to do. I want so very much to honor God in our stewardship of our money, time, talents, resources and all that we have.

God has changed my priorities dramatically since we moved into this house. My philosophy now is to enjoy what Greg has done for me so generously and the beautiful rooms he has made for me and our family, to be thankful to Greg and express great appreciation for his hard work, to be content with the rooms that are still very old in our house, to keep expenses down as low as I can, to stay very flexible, to not try to find my purpose or identity in things, to be ready for anything to change at any time and to be willing to part with anything God might ask me to.
What has God shown you about living a more simple life, or not putting so much emphasis on things? I’d love to hear your tips for managing money and expenses well. I think this could be a very fruitful discussion!

Check out my new 10 minute Youtube video “Am I Materialistic?” if you are interested! It gave me a fantastic opportunity to discuss this very relevant, important, and often overlooked topic.

 

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