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Our Dream Home

I thought I knew what would make me happy, but I never realized it was something I'd fought against for so long.

We did it. We'd finally "arrived." We'd achieved "the American dream." After 12 years of marriage my husband and I pulled the moving truck into the drive of what we believed would be the last place we'd live. Four bedrooms, two and a half baths, a pool, and a yard the size of a small city wrapped in a six-foot fence was finally ours. We painted, re-carpeted, remodeled, and perfected our new home. Our children would enjoy the childhood I had only dreamed of with a neighborhood full of kids to play with and pool hopping in the hot summer sun. God had truly blessed us.

However, what started out as "the American dream" quickly became "the American nightmare." Gas prices soared, property taxes rose, and the price of food climbed to new heights. We never missed a mortgage payment, but we were barely making it. What was God doing? Hadn't he blessed us with this house?

Obsessed with money, we lost sleep, and we lost our joy. Our marriage suffered and so did our kids. We'd become enslaved to our white-carpeted castle. So we cut back. Things like the internet, eating out, and movies in the mail flew out the window. But that wasn't enough. More drastic measures were required; downsizing, moving back into town where the drive to school and work stretched no more than five minutes ahead.

At 30something and with two kids, downsizing was an unheard-of concept. Leave a gorgeous house in a quiet neighborhood away from the noise and activity of the city? Were we crazy?

"You won't save that much," some said.

"You'll never sell your house in today's market," others said.

"What about the kids? They love the pool."

"Your house screams 'you.'"

We heard it all. Still, we knew what we had to do. So we plowed ahead getting the house ready to sell, and finishing projects someone else would enjoy. It no longer mattered to us. God was changing us and our idea of the American dream.

Six days after the sign went into the yard, the house sold. We knew moving was God's desire for us, but it still shocked us. What now? Where was he taking us? And so began the arduous process of looking for a home while temporarily living with family. Not an ideal situation, but one we found ourselves in nonetheless.

We spent weeks looking for a home that would suit our needs: close proximity to work and school, a safe neighborhood, not a lot of work needed and something we could afford. In the end, God took us back to our old neighborhood in the heart of town where the noise and traffic are never far away. While most people yearned to get out of the craziness of the city, we moved right back into the middle of it. At times we felt like Noah, readying our house in a neighborhood deemed "unsafe" while those around us mocked and questioned. It didn't matter. That first night in our new home the four of us slept in the same room, and for the first time in years, I felt like I was home.

The house we left was beautiful, yes, but take out the people and you reduce it to just that, a house. Home has become synonymous with people, not things; simplicity, not debt; and most important, a place where God's voice is not crowded out by acquiring objects of no eternal value. This is our dream.

Kathryn Nielson is the author of a children's book, God's Creative World (Concordia). She lives in Illinois.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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