How We’re Making It Through Law School As a Family of Five

I was reminded again in these last two weeks that going to law school at 37 with three kids is not easy.  It is not easy for me…it is not easy for my wife…it is not easy for my kids…it is also not easy for the other friends and family members who are carrying some of our burden alongside us.  It is the latter group I am focused on today.  Our life has thus far been one that most in the world would love to have!  We have lived in three different countries, more than that if you count the extended stays in places like Singapore.  Our son was born in Indonesia, we have lived in 5 different states, I have traveled to well over 10 countries, we have always had a nice place to live, nice cars, and in general way more money than most people in the world.  Consider the following,

“For the 95% [living] on $10 a day…note that 95% of developing country population lived on less than $10 a day…this is equivalent to just under 79.7% of world population, and does not include populations living on less than $10 a day from industrialized nations.”

Considering upwards of 95% of the world live on $10 or less a day ($3,650 a year), we have had life pretty easy.  None-the-less, as far as American’s are concerned, we have had our difficult times.

Sara and I have often been blessed by the kindness of our family in our 18+ years of marriage.  The stories of how our family have been used by God to meet our needs and support us during the “hard” times are almost too many to tell.  During our first few years of marriage Sara and I lived in Japan while I was in the Air Force.  Mamaw Harness would send us care packages with all kinds of goodies from the States almost every month.  Different people would send us money at just the right time when we were struggling without even knowing what they had done or how much they had helped us. One long time family friend paid a car off for us so we would move overseas to work in Indonesia, that was a gift of over $13,000.  One couple in our family paid off all my student loans from both my Bachelors and Masters degrees, to put that in perspective, that is somewhere in the ballpark of $60,000.  Another couple who have been long time friends had also been sending money to help pay off our student loan debt when their own student loans were not paid off! Our various church families have also been a source of joy and care.  As a young couple living on the other side of the world, away from our biological family for the first time, our church family filled the “family gap” in enormous ways.  There has never been a time that we didn’t feel completely loved and cared for.

However, this is not just a story of financial support. It is really not about financial support at all, it is more about the love of those who love and care for us, and sometimes that comes out through their giving to us as a form of love.  We are eternally grateful.

Two years ago when we made the choice to enter law school and move in a different direction in life we did so with excitement and a lot of fear!  A family of five doesn’t just give up their primary source of income ($50,000+ a year), add more bills from a “second” place to live, with debt after draining our savings (because of living without a job for almost a year) and do so without some fear and a lot of unanswered questions.  However, we knew God was leading us in this direction and so we just “jumped” and knew from past experience he would take care of us.  So, how has he done that?

Since beginning law school we have almost as many stories of people caring and helping us as we have from all of our previous years of marriage before we began this journey.  There is really no realistic way to write all of the things and ways people have displayed their love for us in the last year and a half, but to give you some ideas I will list a few.   Since beginning law school our Grace Baptist Church family paid a car payment for us last year when we couldn’t afford it (My aunt called offering to pay it as well, this would have been a real sacrifice for her but she would have done it!).  A cousin gave us $500 at Christmas last year to help us pay some over due bills and buy Christmas for our kids.  Another couple, who are dear friends of ours, paid our rent for my school apartment for two months this summer!  My dad and mom gave us over $300 when my car tore up last year.  The list could go on for pages!

If you have kept up with my various blogs I have written about our different journeys and life experiences (I think I started blogging in 2006) you have no doubt read various stories about my parents and how thankful I am for them and all they have done for Sara and I over the years.  But you probably haven’t read much about my in-laws.  There is no doubt that apart from Sara’s parents help I could not be in law school!  We asked them if they would consider moving in with us when we started law school to help Sara with the kids while I was away and help us pay our bills, they agreed without hesitation.  (Not many people can say they have in-laws they love and get along with well enough for them to move in with them!)

First, let me say that helping raise your grandkids is no easy task!  (raising your own kids is hard enough!)  When other grandparents are enjoying the blessing of taking their grandkids out or having them over to spend the night, spoiling them, having fun and then sending them home, Sara’s parents have given this pleasure up. They are giving baths, fixing lunches, picking up toys, and countless other things that parents do, and they are doing it without complaint!  My father-in-law watches our 3-year-old son almost everyday of the week!  They also pay half of the bills!  We could not pay our house payment, utilities, etc., etc. without their help.  Sara could not work to put me through law school without their help.  Last week they drove Sara’s van on a day when they had the kids and little did we know their taking the van was a part of a planned scheme to have four brand new tires put on her van.  (they also bought new brakes to have installed.)  Sara has needed tires and brakes for a long time but obviously we didn’t have the money, and frankly neither did they, but as always they give to us as if it was their van!  (My aunt and uncle also gave me practically brand new tires for my car a few weeks ago!)  Eugene and Janie will probably never know how much I love them and how thankful I am for their love and care they have given to me and my family over the years.  They will probably never know how much I have enjoyed them being in our home and being a daily part of our lives, even apart from all the monetary giving.  They will probably never know the depths of the love and sacrifice of Christ I see displayed in them daily.  Their sacrifice for my family is something that I could never repay them for.  God willing, their sacrifice will make a difference in my grandkids’ lives.

So, how is this family of five making it through law school?

By having a God who meets our every need…by having a church family that does not waver in their commitment to being the church to us….by having family and friends who love and believe in us enough to help in countless ways…by having in-laws who continue to give sacrificially and serve us with a love that is immeasurable…that is how a family of five makes it through law school.

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