Thursday, February 18, 2010

Advice wanted

Let's talk about something I never blog about.


Was that anti-climatic? What were you expecting? : P
(Okay, did I really just make a little face with the tongue sticking out? I think that just happened...)

Anyways, moving on...I would really like your opinions and advice about some things we're stepping out in faith and doing. Chris has felt the call to go to seminary and do full-time ministry since he was 16. Me, on the other hand, well, my calling was a little different. I guess to get a better picture of how God has worked in this area of our lives, you'll probably need to read this post. It's pretty wordy, but it gives you a good idea of how long this has been in the making.

Chris has been accepted into a couple of seminaries since I last blogged about it in April of last year, and as of now we've made the decision to attend a seminary in St. Louis, MI. It is a HUGE step of faith. One that I can't believe we've actually made. And how it's coincided with sweet Hannah's arrival into lives... well, it's mind-boggling, but we know that God is writing a beautiful and perfect story in this. Even if, to us, it doesn't make sense or doesn't seem like the best timing. Hannah Mae will be about 3 months old when we move to St. Louis and start school.

So, here's where I'd like some advice. I never know who's reading here, so I don't know your backgrounds or your stories, but I'd love to hear from some of you who have attended seminary or graduate school with a wife and kids in tow. How did you do it? 
I mean, seriously, I'm a practical kind of person. I like lists, and plans and excel spreadsheets...I like budgets and knowing exactly how much money we have and what our expenses are, down to the small coffee we had with friends one morning.

We have this amazing scholarship opportunity that would pay 100% of Chris' tuition. There is a (maybe small) chance he could be awarded this and honestly, I can't think of any other possibility than his receiving it (it overwhelms me to consider having to come up with $20,000).
What I'm more concerned about is how we'll pay our living expenses while in school. Chris is planning to get a part-time job and work 15-20 hours a week while in school, and there's a chance I could work at a daycare on campus a couple of days a week and bring Hannah Mae to work with me. I really can't imagine my finding a full-time job that would be worth putting Hannah Mae in daycare for... daycare (good daycare) is so expensive and I'd have to have a pretty good job to make it work. Honestly, I really want to stay home with my little girl.

We are considering a loan, but do you know what kind of income pastors make? Um, it's not much...and it seems unwise to take out a huge loan that we wouldn't be able to pay off for 15-20 years. I don't care that we won't be making tons of money after school. I never planned on having an extravagant lifestyle and really, I'm an easy to please kind of girl. I knew what kind of man I was marrying and I knew that he either wanted to be a minister of the Gospel or an artist. So, yeah, I didn't foresee keeping up with the Joneses in our future. Oh, and I was a Sociology/Child and Family Development major in college. Not exactly the fast track to a high powered, money making career.

Making money has never been a priority, but now all of the sudden, I'm thinking about it more and more. How will we take care of ourselves and Hannah Mae for the three years we're in seminary, without accruing huge amounts of debt that we won't be able to pay off?
I know that people do it. I know that there are several couples with families in seminary and they're able to manage it, but seriously, how?

I'd really love to hear some of your stories and advice. Anything helpful you learned from budgeting or making it work while in school?
And as always, could you pray with us as we continue forward in faith, knowing that God does not always call us to be comfortable, but that he walks with us in the lives he's called us to live. 


And this is the part of the post where I step back, calm down and believe that this is God's leading in our lives. In order to be an effective minister of the Gospel, Chris needs this education and if God has called Chris and I to full-time ministry, then he will provide the way and the means. 
He has always shown himself to be faithful and I need to rest in his promises. 


Susan said...

I apologize because I am not much help...

I will pray for you on this matter though, in addition to the other prayers. I truly believe that with jobs, school, money, etc, if it is meant to be, the Lord always offers a way to make it work.

Devon said...

i am so not your money girl! wish i was...

but i did want to throw in there that maybe you could watch another little baby or toddler a few days week to supplement some income *and* still get to stay home with hannah. i always wanted to do that but never got around to it. plus, hannah would have a play mate which would benefit her as well...

love that you are taking this leap of faith!

my FIL is a pastor so i could always ask my MIL for her advice too...

Bruce Halstensgard said...

I know exactly what you mean. Trying to figure out paying off loans can be overwhelming. Matthew 6:25-34 is encouraging. I'll be praying Chris gets the scholarship (they are so incredibly helpful).

Katie and I are trying to figure out how all of that is going to work out once she graduates. In the meantime, I'm needing to find a job that starts at least this summer. So you can pray about that for us :) And hopefully we can bounce some good ideas off each other as we figure out good budgeting strategies. Because we're working on that too.

Sara said...

I can't tell you how thrilled I am that you are embarking on this journey... you are just a few years behind us in this special journey... I am jealous, as crazy as it sounds, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Those years at the sem were some of the most special of our lives... Great memories for all of us:) Ebe, would you email me(I don't think I have your email address so I can give you some of the practical things that worked for us as a family of 6 at the sem. Let me just say this... God will provide and you will be astrouded at how He does it:) What a step of faith... oh, and by the way... a cheap vacation spot will be just 6 hours away in OK:) It may not be the most luxious accomodations, but we would love to have you all! Blessings<><

Erin said...

Hi Ebe,
I am a seminary wife and I affirm what Sara said--this has been one of the sweetest seasons of life, and I am sad ours is about to end when my husband graduates in May. I have had a job for most of the time we've been here, and he has worked part time, but it has still been very tight. it is absolutely the Lord providing, but one practical way he has done that has been through (don't laugh) learning how to use coupons, meal plan, etc. Many of my seminary friends and myself have saved, no joke, thousands of dollars through this. So a good place to start is if you don't already do this.
Also, there might be a part-time job at the seminary you could apply for, and while you work, Chris could stay with hannah. I have a lot of friends that have had jobs like this. Or tutoring.
Just a few ideas for you.
I'm guessing, based on the seminaries you have mentioned in the past, that you guys are in the PCA?? Well, just a plug for Gordon Conwell up in the Boston area. :) It's non-denom, but with a lot of reformed faculty, and there are a few GREAT PCA churches up here. And we love love love it.
If you ever have any questions, feel free to email me! Does my email show up when I post?

Freya said...

Hey Ebe,
My Husband never went to seminary, but he was unemployed for the first 7 months of our marriage, so I can tell you some things we did to save manymany dollars. But I want to firstly say that the Bible is really clear that it is good and right for the Wife to stay home and raise up her kids (Titus 2:2). I have that desire, and I don't even have any kids here. I'm actually planning to leave my job soon just to tend to our house and help my Husband work from home. The Bible is also clear that the Husband is completely responsible for the family's needs (1 Timothy 5:8), so if you aren't dying to work, or just don't want to--don't. You are totally free not to. But, it could be totally good for you to work as a nanny where you can bring Hannah--it just depends.
Here's what we did to save/make some money and some general tips I have:
1. We sold stuff on ebay and Amazon: stuff we had but didn't need, stuff people gave us, old cameras, textbooks, clothing, etc. 2. We got probably about $60 of free food every week from a local Church who collected food donations from Trader Joe's (don't know if you have those stores, but it's good quality), Whole Foods, and some local grocers. We would throw out anything that questionable, freeze as much as possible, and do a lot of cooking/juicing the day of.
3. Listened to financial teachings (we listened to some by Dave Ramsey, which are biblical and were excellent but there are many Christian financial teachings out there to choose from). From those, we made a budget, tight as it was, but we stuck to it, and it really helped us to be wise about the money we had.
4. Coupons! I encourage you to look for a grocery store that does double or triple coupon days, stock up on coupons and then go shopping on the days you can double or triple your coupons, I have a friend who has walked away with $200 of free groceries doing this (to be fair, that was when there weren't disclaimers on the coupon...)
5. Make your own cleaning supplies, I'll send you a recipe if you like.
6. Express any expectations you have about your financial situation and ask your Husband what his are, that way, you can make some kind of goal and be on the same page about it. Like, for example, "I want to have at most x amount of debt when we finish seminary." (x can include 0 =)) Anyway, I will definitely pray that you all get that scholarship, and I'm excited for you--it seems like a really good place G-d has brought you to from reading your April post.
Take Care,

Cecilia said...

I have not been through the seminary journey, but my husband was in grad school for 5 years and we are now on his post doc, so I do know the schooling fun of married life. I worked full time during his grad school, but have been unemployed here (still looking). We have learned to squeeze money in ways I didn't think were possible.

I also wanted to pass along a blog started by ladies who's husbands were in seminary. They have an email address on it too and may be able to give you some advice.

Praying for direction for you and an easy transition!


Anonymous said...

I just found you!!! I didn't know you blogged!!! I am so happy to be able to read you now, friend! I blog too, if you ever want another to read.

I am so blessed to see pictures of owen and to cry with you as I read your story! thank you for letting me enter your world...even if it is online.

love you, friend!
heather morse

Keisha Valentina said...

Oh Ebe,

We are a failed attempt I am sorry to say but I do know this:

He provides.

Be still, rest... He knows, he knows.

Here is just a bit of our story through the 1 month of seminary (but you may have already read it...)

Love you.

Miranda said...


As alway, praying for you. Chris will be a great pastor and I know that the Lord will provide in all areas.


Ebe said...

You have NO idea how much I'm encouraged by your words. Thank you everyone!

And a special thanks to Gayle!

I love you all so much!!!