Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Talk to Me Tuesdays...remember these?

Hey 'member talk to me Tuesdays? I used to love these.  I am resurrecting them because this quote has been rollin' around in my mind/heart/conscience

"The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefiting the poor.   But what happened instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger-- nothing ever comes out for the poor"
- Pope Francis

Crazy right?  I think it's easy to look at this quote and shake our fists at Capitalism (which has it's problems) - and the American structure of 'bigger, better, greed, more, more, more'!  I think it's easy to take the Pope's words and frame them into our internal political battles here in the US of A- that's easy.

What's far more difficult is to consider how this quote can challenge us personally.  We have visited this topic before, but I am interested in your thoughts in light of this quote.  I know many of us are struggling to get out of debt and just get by (but are we REALLY?).  However, to those of us who are out of debt and making choices with excess money, it's difficult isn't it?

You see, when we moved into our little 'just over 1000 square foot' home, I thought we'd live here forever.  It used to drive me crazy to no end when people would call it our 'starter home'.  But now, after almost five years, we are considering moving (not anytime soon).  Why?  I want a dining room (right now, our kitchen would not be big enough to put a table in that would fit eight).  I would like a fireplace.  I want a bigger bathroom, because it is really challenging to bath the babies with my face smashed against the toilet (true story) and zero storage space.

But, our house has sufficient space.  I could give up the dream of the fireplace, we could put a dining table in the basement, and I can suck up my bathroom woes (as Aaron said, "My grandmother raised 9/10 children in one house with a bathroom much smaller than this").

The house is just an example though, it's more than that.  We live, in the United States, a life of excess.  Even our poverty line is skewed based on the rest of the world.

At what point is too much, too much?  How do you know when you are magically making your cup bigger, rather than allowing it to overflow?  People say it's only about percentage of personal wealth/giving, but do you think that squares away with the magic cup idea?  How do you make these decisions in your household?  SUPER curious to hear your thoughts...


  1. I may not actually address your questions, but I have gone through the same issues/desires with our own home. We had not intentions of staying in our home. I thought we would be here 5 years, max. It is certainly NOT my "dream home" or even my "at least it has things I want home." I too would love a fire place, at least a bigger kitchen so that we can squeeze everyone in on the holidays and not feel clausterphobic and a basement would be nice too. (Oh and a home school room would be ideal). As we get rid of things and attempt to find more room in our home for Felicity Grace, the feelings of "let's just move and get a bigger home" have increased. And I struggle with the attitude of "but most people I am surrounded by have what I want and so there is nothing wrong with getting it." (Does that make sense?)

    But, here's the thing . . . When I look at bigger homes, and I see the cost and I figure how much more we will have to owe on a bigger home, I get to a point where I say "Oh, I do not want to go back to a larger mortgage. Let's just stay in this house and pay it off." And I have one friend, who has many more children that I, who is struggling to get our a debt, saying, "Don't do it. Stay in the home you are in because it is NOT worth it."

    And then I look at the extra $60,000 to $90,000 a larger house would cost us here and I think that is two or three adoptions. Or, at least, if we do not adopt again, that is money that we could use to do other, more meaningful things. Sure, there are many things I do not like about our house and I wish we had more space, but do we really NEED it?

    So, as of right now, we are choosing to stick it out here and work to make the most of the smaller space.

  2. Sooooo disappointed!!! Double Arghhhh!

    I wrote, meaning to write something quick and I poured out my thoughts just typing away. They were so clear and focused and I was funny and thought provoking. And then I pressed the magic preview button...


    I am bummed, we will talk later...

  3. Ugh, guys, I can't figure out how to reply to messages anymore. Katie- I totally get what you are saying, that was one of the advantages of living in this house, it will be paid off in six years and we will have so much flexibility. BUT, I am leaning towards thinking the home is something I would weigh as greater than the advantages of staying in this house. Erik- I look forward, as usual, to your thoughts...I know how much you like your talk to me tuesdays.

  4. I totally get this. On one hand the house we have now is more than we need space-wise and I've even been toying with the idea of downsizing (hopefully making some money off of this one) and living with a way less mortgage than we have now and using that extra for charity, vacations, etc. And there is, of course, guilt with having more than we need. But on the other hand, God does provide these beautiful things from His creation so that we can use them and make our lives fuller through them and (hopefully) they should spur us to gratitude and awe. And there is a reality even if it sounds trite, that if everyone threw off fireplaces as too luxurious for the Christian, well then, there would be no jobs for chimney sweeps (I totally just said that) and there would be no fireplaces and that would be a very sad thing indeed. And I also think, well, those big old farmhouses are already there...might as well put a growing Catholic family of boys in it, right? Does that make sense? I don't know.

  5. I'm having a hard time commenting on your posts as well! Sometimes they aren't showing up at all. Weird.

    As far as your post today, I'm torn on what I think. We are renting because we decided it made the most sense for where we're at right now (saving money, waiting for my husband to get into grad school, etc.) However, there are times that I truly wish we owned our own home and that we could have a beautiful nursery for our baby due in December. I just remind myself that the baby will have a nursery (just not done up perfectly because it doesn't make sense for a rental), we will have a forever home eventually, and that our space is perfectly fine for right now. Ultimately, as long as you are giving enough to charity, I see no problem with moving to a bigger house if your finances permit. This is a decision I think only you and your husband can fully gauge :) And if, God willing, more babies come along, I'm sure they would fit just fine in your home and that people have made bigger families work in smaller spaces, but it wouldn't hurt to have a bigger space either. Hope this helps!

  6. We lived in teeny tiny houses and always wished for a bigger one. Then we got a big one. I wished we lived in a smaller one now. Big houses cost more to heat and cool. It takes longer to clean. More steps to walk up and down. Plus, when it was smaller we were all together and saw more of each other now its a bigger house we are all spread out. In the teenage years this equals too much opportunity to just disappear for hours whereas I have grown accustomed to kids in my face over the years--its weird when I don't see them. I just think a small house is better. If i were you I would consider moving to get the dining area and fireplace since those things do bring families together but not too much more. I would focus on function rather than bigger. I wouldn't pay too much over what you are paying now in mortgage and keep it only to what your actual needs are not wants. Consider school districts that would be important.

    But the issue of acquiring wealth I see with ppl all the time. At some point they pay off their debts and then they get stuck there. They get afraid to have any more children since it may put them back in debt again...they get afraid to give things away, they hoard all their possessions and don't see they don't need them. Live minimally.

  7. It's also the question of the opportunity trade off that the money represents. As a Catholic, that means not just you and your opportunities, but what others might have. When I was in Tanzania, I saw people living happily with very little--often less than 10 items in a hut made of mud and leaves that had to be rebuilt after the rainy seasons there. It radically changed my concept of needs. Is your money being used the way God wants? Would your excess help meet someone's need?