Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Apartment E-7

The entry titled "Shower the People You Love With Love" touches on the decision Becca and I had to make about where to live out our first year of marriage. I'd like to share a bit about the place the Lord has provided--both as a testimony to His goodness to us, and also as a ploy to add entries to our new Guestbook.

Early in our apartment search, we together came to the conclusion that it would be wise of us to lower our expectations and try as much as possible to "settle" for a lesser (read: smaller) apartment rather than pay more for more. Our thinking was, and still is, that if we could spend $100-150 less per month and make due bumping elbows a little more in a smaller space, it would help toward our ultimate goal of being in a house as soon as possible. We realized it might mean we could feel like we were living on top of one another, but isn't that what the first year of marriage is all about (hehe...you know...)?

It has only become more and more evident how the Lord has blessed that decision--a humbling thought. Not only are we paying at least $100 less per month than we would have been at places we otherwise would have considered over our place now, but I don't think we could have found a better apartment if we had looked for a whole year. Let me give you the details.

First, the apartment itself is practically brand new. The previous resident must have been a tenent for quite a few years because when he moved out, they redid the entire place. Our kitchen has a brand new fridge/freezer, new microwave, new stove top and oven, new counters, new cupboards, new dishwasher, and new flooring. The entire place has brand new carpet. The bathroom has a new tub and shower head, new vanity, new sink and counter, and a new toilet seat. There is nothing in the entire place that even suggests anyone had lived there prior to us. It feels like a nice hotel, but much more personal.

Second, we have no complaints about space, even though at 555 square feet, our place is easily the smallest residence we found available. What we lack in square footage is more than offset by the high ceilings (10' or higher--I can't reach them even jumping) and very tall windows that get sun nearly all hours of the day. I should reword that sentence because we don't lack space at all. We have fit a full sized couch and a large loveseat, with a dining room table and five chairs and have room to spare for dance parties, orgies, and the like. We wouldn't know what to do with more space (plus, there is the whole living on top of each other part alluded to above).

Thirdly are the intangibles. Moving day was exponentially easier because we're on the first floor--we actually passed stuff through the window. There is a Little League field across the street. We have yet to hear any evidence that we have people living above, below, or next to us on either side. Our landlady is a dear. Our town is almost exactly located between my office and Becca's hospital. There is a good pizzaria in town (but no bagel place yet--curses!).

For such a nice place in New Jersey, $735 a month is an absolute steal. It's quite a large fixed expense to suddenly tack onto two car payments and insurance and student loans. BUT the Lord has so blessed Becca and I over these last months that I have more than once wondered, "Lord, if these are supposed to be the lean years when money is tight and major sacrifices are to be made, what's in store for the fat years??"

So visit us or write us at our new locale. Becca is living solo for now, very quickly making bare white walls feel like a home. I move in June 25. The address is below.

Scott and Becca (soon to be) Pearce
66 Park Avenue
Apartment E-7
Washington, NJ 07882

We are just using our cell phones for now and do not have a land line.

I am 908.343.1962. Becca is 908.343.8632.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Shower the People You Love With Love

A while back Becca and I were faced with the decision of where to live after marriage. The Lord had already blessed me with work in Jersey, so we at least had a home base of Warren County, New Jersey from which to fan out and begin our search. It quickly boiled down to a choice between western Jersey or eastern Pennsylvania.

Finances are a big deal to most any newly-wed couple. As far as I can tell, gas is the only thing more costly on the western side of the Delaware River. Car insurance, rent, houses, and property taxes are just a few of the cost of living items that make living in Pennsylvania seem so appealing. If Financial Impact was the item on our decision matrix that carried the highest weighting factor, I can say with certainty that Becca and I would have a lease contract, if not mortgage, for a place in PA.

But it's not just a dollars-and-cents decision. We both have strong convictions that money should not be a deterent to obtaining what we believe to be the worthy pursuits in life. Through prayer and wise council, we are trying to prepare ourselves now, early in our marriage-to-be, to establish habits that we hope will free us of letting money be a controlling force in our decisions in our life. With that said, the intangible reasons to stay in New Jersey were more persuasive than that which could be deposited and withdrawn.

After much consideration, the item with the highest weighting factor became our conviction that we needed to be able to live close enough to be active members in a body of believers, a local church. Through various means and living examples (both bad and good), we agreed that we would not settle for being "Sunday members" of a congregation--essentially commuting to church for Lord's Day worship and not much else during the week. We both wanted to at least present ourselves with the possibility of plugging into the weekly life of the church, if not even going to far as to engage in church ministry. We limited ourselves to a twenty-minute radius about any known reformed congregation in PA or NJ in which to settle, so this did not of necessity mean we decided to stay near the Hackettstown OPC. It certainly did, however, made it harder to leave.

There were a few reasons we chose to stay at Hackettstown OPC. The first was that we were obviously already there. Becca had been received as a communicant member this summer, and I am going on 23 years here. There are members who prayed for me on my date of birth, or changed my diapers in the nursery, or babysat me as a toddler. In some ways I have more of an affection for my "adopted grandparents" here than I do my own blood relations.

It has been difficult in ways for Becca to come into "my world" at church, with literally every member knowing so much about me. She has had to fight frustrations of feeling more like "Scott's fiance" than "Rebecca Roszel, new member." But aside from this and the subtle tendency to blur the line between familiarity and indifference, we could not be in a more caring, supportive environment to start out.

And this could not have been made more evident than it was this Saturday when Becca was thrown a surprise bridal shower. Nearly 30 women of the church came out on a cold and otherwise dismal Saturday afternoon to literally shower my future wife with gifts, food, recipes, furnishings, appliances, advice, love, joy, and cake. Another three sent a gift and their regrets at not being able to attend; two more brought theirs to church the next day.

We came away with a haul that required a Rav4 and the trunk of my parent's car to bring back to our apartment. Becca came away with an overwhelming sense of the outpouring of love that is so easily stirred up from the women of Hackettstown OPC. We both came away with gratitude and praise to the Lord who had given us such a clear and immediate sign that it was indeed a good decision to remain a part of our local church.