Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Up and Downs of being a Seminary Family

Girls getting spoiled with ipod shuffles at Christmas
by an anonymous donor, who gave gift cards
to ALL seminary families with children for Christmas
I've been thinking about my last post and there is really much more that could be said on realities of life as a seminary family. Again like the last post this is not a whinging session but fact, take them as such :).

I thought this time I would list some up and down sides of the seminary family. None of these are complains nor regrets as we (us, family and session) believe that this is the path God has called us on in this time. This is what keeps us going through the 'bad/homesick' (these are very rare) times.

Another fact to keep in mind with regard to me specifically. I have already been there done that with regard to moving to another country. God prepared the way with my family (my Dad, Mom and brother) emigrating to New Zealand from Holland when I was fifteen. People thought my parents were mad emigrating when the kids were teenagers when in fact it was the best thing that ever happened to our family! When I first came to New Zealand my English in particular wasn't very good and it took me a good couple of years to learn to speak/read/write it fluently. My parents chose to 'move' to another country/lifestyle and so complaining/looking back to what we had had was never an option for them. I think this shaped my view on coming to the USA. I had already been there done that and a huge bonus was that at least the language was the same (mostly). So our transition as a family to the USA has been a piece of cake, thanks to God preparing the way.

The downside of training for the ministry.
To put some of the 'fun' in perspective I thought I would share some of the 'down' sides of leaving our comfortable life in NZ and starting on a new 'career' path.
  • Family - This is a big one. We haven't yet met two soon to be three of our new 'cousins'. The girls also have a great relationship with both grandparents and this is hard on both sides. So when we set a budget, fast speed internet was/is a necessity not a luxury in order to keep the relationship up with family and friends. Skype is a HUGE blessing.
  • Wanganui - We actually really enjoyed living there, the beautiful river, the small town, the people, my very good friend, our church friends and some 'dog' friends. When we left our house for the last time we knew that we wouldn't be back to live for a long while, if ever. A sad day. 
  • Pesto - My dog, I was sad to have to give her up for the 'sake' of the Gospel. I have done so happily and realise that while you are a student family, it is simply not practical. While I'm glad that I don't have that responsibility now I do miss the companionship. 
  • House - I realize that life doesn't revolve around material things and I'm fine with that. The prospect of ever owning a house again in the future is more out of reach now than before. I fully trust God for our future and He has provided for us more than we need already!
  • School - For those of you who think that taking them out of our beloved school was easy, it was not. It was a very sad day. Our girls thrived that at school, while it had it's faults, we loved the teachers, loved the atmosphere and loved the teaching methods. School is just not a possibility here due to the expense and also homeschooling suits Albert' study hours/lifestyle. God has been faithful here too and again despite their mothers failings in 'teaching/self discipline' the girls are doing well!
Now to the good news of some of the unexpected advantages of Seminary life.
  • Rental House - This is actually nicer than what we had back in Wanganui. We have central heating/Air Con, a dryer (which costs 'peanuts' to run), a fenced playground out the back, an icemachine in our fridge and a HUGE lined basement for the kids to play in! To top it all off, excellent neighbors both above us and next to us. 
  • Travel - We actually get to travel lots and lots and lots. Most of this is paid for as churches usually pay mileage to and from their church for pulpit supply, in addition to getting paid to 'exhort'. So this has enabled us to see a small amount of the USA already. 
  • Preachers - This deserves a mention under it's own heading. Believers here are so spoiled to have soo many excellent Preachers here in such a short radius. We have again taken the opportunity to visit different churches both URC (United Reformed Churches) and OPC (Orthodox Presbyterian Church) both locally and in Grand Rapids (Michigan), NY, New Jersey and Philadelphia. This experience is simply priceless!
  • Generosity - This is hard to put into words as I wouldn't want to miss anyone out who has blessed us so richly. From the benefactors who support Mid-America Reformed Seminary (students fees only account for 10% of the running costs!!!) to providing financial gifts, practical gifts, giving of talents (ie haircutting), hospitality, prayers, encouragement etc. It is so hard to put all of that into a generosity 'box'!
  • Seminary Student Body - This is truly an unexpected bonus of Seminary. Families that are all in the 'trenches' together to be able to laugh (lots and lots of that!), weep (deaths of little ones), rejoice with 'new life' after 'miscarriage' and share our 'common' struggles. It's a three year 'bubble' that we will be very sad to leave. This too is priceless!
  • Weather - This is rather 'tongue in cheek' but we are LOVING the snow probably more so than the hot summer only because it's something that we haven't got in New Zealand. 
I promise that will be all for now and I'll share some more 'fun' photo posts from my adorable little 'angels'!

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