Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Excruciating Highs and Lows of...buying a house?

You've been there. You get it. The emotional roller coaster of buying a house. Was it this difficult to choose a college or to find a spouse?

It's very difficult to explain. My kids are healthy and so are we, so why were we so down when we were outbid for 30 year old house on a busy street?

Historically it's rare for a despised Californian (an oxymoron to many) to move out of state and purchase real estate and end up with less of a house. Though billions of people willingly moved to CA for decades, driving up the cost of living, the Californians did it too and received a backlash. The tradeoff in moving from Beverly Hills to Little Rock, let's say, is exchanging year-round 70 degree weather for humidity and cheap real estate. "I can buy how much with my money? WOW! The beach is overrated anyway."

When we moved to Texas last year we salivated at the lower cost of housing. But times have changed and most Americans are just happy to have a job. When we arrived in our beautiful new home, we knew that the price of living in a "National Park" has its downside - housing prices.

So last week we made an offer on a house we thought was perfect: great floorplan, 4 bedrooms, big backyard, and relatively affordable. Sadly we were outbid. With seemingly only a few bucks for a down payment, we grieved the reality of our last five years of money management. Though we may not have changed a thing if time travel were possible, we almost ache at how much life costs. Where did that investment of California real estate go?

As my good friend, Brian, told me yesterday - "People are grieving the loss of their money." It's very true. It's difficult to have perspective - but necessary. My head says "grow up" - my heart says "it's not fair." If I can't overcome it and I obsess about "poor me" - then that's sin. If I can say "oh well" and know that more stuff doesn't make me happy, then I've learned the lesson of Solomon. He was the richest human in history. Early on he cared more about obedience to God. Later, he obsessed about his stuff and became the most miserable human on the planet.

If my disappointment ends up in unending grief, then maybe God needs to take away our cars, t-shirts, and ipods too. God, help me to be joyful with you alone.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

God Loves the Hacker

Do you get jealous watching someone ridiculously talented at work? I had the chance yesterday to watch my cousin’s son, Scott, play a round of golf. He plays for Arizona State University and happened to be playing a tournament near Tacoma. My experience was unbelievable.

I’d much rather play than watch golf, but this was a unique opportunity. Some of the country’s top amateur golfers were in town for this tourney. It wasn’t much advertised and it’s a warmup to the upcoming U.S. Amateur Open in August. So I got to walk with three of the players almost like a caddy. I kept my distance to let them concentrate, but Scott was kind enough to talk with his cousin-uncle watchamacallit.

As a lifetime mediocre, yet passionate golfer I was able to watch these three punks (okay, nice young men – just jealous again) play spectacular golf. Of course it’s all relative. Would you be ticked off shooting a 78? Would you be satisfied with a 70? Heck, if I can just get out to play once a month and keep it to double digits I’d be happy.

Shot after shot I gasped and groaned out loud (not too loud of course – it is golf) at their remarkable skill. 200 yards to the pin? 10 feet away. 125 yards to the pin? 3 feet away. 250-275 yard drives every time. Move the ball left at will? Done. How about to the right? Done. Difficult shots from the bunker? No problem. 30 foot putts? Drained.

There’s a point when you stop castigating yourself and just tip your cap and applaud. Wow! It’s pretty sweet to watch people at the top of their game. Be it golf, singing, preaching, cooking, or whatever. To put a theological spin on it, it’s a darn good thing God doesn’t grade on a curve – only the top X% earning his favor. If God only loved the top golfers – no way in the world I’d make it. Heck, even these guys – as amazing as they are – aren’t even necessarily the world’s top players. There’s a couple of teenagers already playing on the Pro Tour.

We have a God who loves the underdog as much as the professional. And, He doesn’t just tolerate us either. He’s in love with us. We all have the highest value in his eyes. God loves Scott passionately. God loves pro golfers passionately. And even though I’m a danger to the world any time I pull out a 3 iron, God love me and all other hackers passionately.