Thursday, January 31, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
I love to read. When I actually find time to go to the library, I love to pick out a suspense thriller, murder mystery, FBI or lawyer novel. My favorite authors are John Grisham, James Patterson, Iris Johannsen, and many more. I've read nearly every book written by my favorite authors and when I get one in my hand, I barely put it down. Usually, I finish a good book in a day or two. Then, I will go months before I return to the library to pick out another.
Anyway, I love to read fiction, but I'm not a big fan of non-fiction. Other than the Bible and textbooks (which were forced on me - not the Bible, but the textbooks), I really haven't picked up very many non-fiction books in my life. So, I was expecting to have the same result with the Dave Ramsey book (yes, we're back on that again). I expected to start reading and somewhere around page 10 or 15 to put the book down and never pick it back up again.
Shocker! I picked up "Total Money Makeover" and barely put it down again until I had finished. And - all in less than a week!! I was convinced of the Ramsey way of life - living debt free. I spent an entire evening passionately telling Tommie everything I had learned from reading this book and trying to convince him to subscribe to the way of life. It didn't take much convincing. Both of us realized that we had slipped back into some bad financial habits that we needed to break - and fast.
So, we set out on a mission to become "Debt Free"! Almost every financial conversation that we have had since the reading of THE book has centered around the phrase "debt free". We have closely followed a tight monthly budget, cut out excess spending, discontinued use of credit cards (for the most part) and in general, tried to find ways to spend less and earn more. In the summer of 2007 following a major medical issue, we decided that we could attain our goal of becoming "debt free" more quickly if I went back to work full-time. It was intended to be a short term solution to our "problem". We have never intended and do not intend to live off of two incomes. My income is purely to pay the bills and start saving. We have continued to live on the same budget, in spite of the increase in income.
2007 brought a firm financial discipline to our lives and it also brought many financial challenges. Between my medical bills and Tommie's dental bills, we added nearly $13,000 to our debt... but by the grace of God, we were able to pay the bills and still pay some debt off.
God is so good to us. He is faithful to provide for our needs even when we are not expecting it. Both Tommie & I have been a little discouraged by the lack of progress on our debt. We were hoping to be a lot closer to our goal by now. Originally, we were scheduled to be out of debt by Christmas 2008. Now, it looks like it may be closer to mid-to-late 2009.
Today, God provided for us in a way we least expected. Tommie's 401K through work has changed a couple of times and today, he had to change his log-in to something related to his social security number and VOILA! A 401K from a previous employer appeared! We knew that he still had that 401K that we had never rolled over, but it had been so long ago that we both had pretty much forgotten about it. At the time, it was so little and the penalty for cashing it out was not worth it, so we just left it alone. Well, several years later, cashing it out will pay off quite a bit of our debt!!!! Praise the Lord!!! Talk about a pick-me-up! We're so excited to be able to pay off some stuff that's been weighing heavy on us. Now, the goal of being "debt free" by Christmas 2008 does not seem so un-attainable.
Did I mention that God is good?
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Friday, January 18, 2008
I felt particularly bad for the older boys, because this was supposed to be THEIR campout with dad and they had to go home, while Truman - the tag-a-long - got to enjoy a full weekend of fun with mom. Because I was working, it would have been impossible for me to fulfill my responsibility and wrangle three boys. I offered to keep one, but how can you choose which one gets to stay and which one goes? So, this was supposed to be our one (and only) Adventure Guides campout as a complete family and it ended up being a mother/son weekend with Truman and I. We had a lot of fun, but the rest of the family was sorely missed.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
I've heard it said that you know someone is your true friend when they have free access to your refrigerator. Another friend of mine says: "If you are coming over to see my house, please make an appointment. If you are coming over to see me, stop by anytime." When you allow community into your life, you allow others to see you for who you really are. You are inviting others to examine the deepest parts of you and most of the time, when you are honest enough to invite someone to see you for who you really are... they are going to be humbled and honored instead of judgemental.
Community can be found in many places. I have found that finding and being a part of a community requires effort and self-sacrifice. But in the end, the rewards are amazing and well worth it! Last night, our small group shared the most amazing time together - praising our God, worshipping together, and sharing from our hearts. wow. I'm humbled and honored to be a part of that community.
Unity is a core component of community. Unified for a specific purpose or time. I'm amazed at the communities that God has allowed me to be a part of - no matter where I live or what I am doing at the time, God's community is always present. You just have to seek Him and look around.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Did I mention... YIPPPEEE!!!!
(if you know me very well, you've heard me rant about my van problems many times - i've tried to trade it away 3 times now, but haven't found a good enough deal)
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Sunday, January 6, 2008
The view of Lake Shore Drive & Lake Michigan from our room...
The John Hancock Building (right next door)...
A Blue Man...
What Chicago looked like on the day we left (they ended up with 5-6 inches that day)...
No matter what life throws at me, I know that I will always have my husband by my side. Everyone says that the first year of marriage is the hardest, but I would have to disagree. The first year of our marriage was pretty awesome compared to a few that followed. Somehow, having 3 boys in 3 1/2 years challenged our marriage in more ways than we realized at the time. The longer we have been married, the more Tommie & I have learned about each other and what true love is. The first several years were rough and we still have tough times, but I wouldn't choose to share my life with anyone else. I love Tommie more today than I ever have before. True love. Lasting love. I pray that we will have 50+ more years to share life together.
Friday, January 4, 2008
The funniest part is that on Christmas Day (the following day) when they dropped by my parents' house, Owen was carrying his new purse! He put his wallet & keys into it and carried it like it was a normal, everyday thing for him. Being the father of 3 girls, he probably gets his fair share of carrying purses, I would imagine! Too funny!!
Mom & Dad - VERY excited to go home & play!!
- I love my family and Tommie's family (quirks and all...)
- I do not want to live in the same town (or within an hour) of either side of the family
- I like living just far enough away that it is special to go visit
- I do not like freezing temperatures
- I would like to visit family much more often
- I love airplanes
- I really dislike the section of drive that falls between St. Louis & Oklahoma City
- And upon returning home, I love our city and state, our church, our friends and our home. This is home.
After all of my observations, this is my conclusion:
I would like to request that Texas and Illinois be made closer in geography - the drive from St. Louis to Dallas should be 4 hours or less. (Sorry everyone who lives in Missouri & Oklahoma!!) Or, I would like to request that we seriously make it a priority to fly on an airplane from now on!!!Of course, an airplane doesn't have views like this (but rental cars do!!):
I love my job. There are things that I really dislike my job, but I really do love it. So why am I willing to walk away from something that I love most of? Am I crazy? My new job offer puts me in a position with a lot less stress and little to no evening or weekend work at nearly identical pay. It will allow me time to be a wife, friend, mother, daughter without being consumed with work all of the time. It will also allow me to continue to work toward my goal of having my own business in a few years. So, I suppose I'm not crazy. I'm going to miss the people I work with like crazy and I'll miss certain aspects of my old job like crazy... but I'm not crazy. I've made a difficult decision - one that I hope will positively impact my family life and those around me.
So... where is my new job? At the church that I call home.