Friday, August 31, 2012

Money Matters

My husband and I attended our first Financial Peace University class by Dave Ramsey last night.  It's being offered by a local church we've visited a few times.  We are so excited to learn how to be good stewards with our money!  I think we both feel we do an okay job with our money, but also agree we can do better. 

With each week's lesson there is homework, and I'm secretly sooo excited to do this homework with my husband, just for the sake of doing something together!  My husband works hard and is so exhausted in the evenings that we don't really get the opportunity to talk much.  He gets home, entertains the kids while I cook, we eat, spend some family time together, and then once the kids are in bed he's ready to go to bed too.  So I think my favorite part of taking this class is just getting to take it together ;)

One of the first homework assignments is to create a basic budget.  We are both anxious to work on that and start seeing where we're spending our money.   However, I have to admit I'm a little worried we'll get over zealous and stop spending any extra money at all.  I've been doing a lot of online browsing today for home decor.  Our walls have been bare since we moved into this house because I can't make up my mind on what to buy (remember my over-thinking, makes-everything-more-complicated-that-it-has-to-be tendencies)!  I'm afraid if I wait any longer, we'll get deeper into this class and our walls will stay bare forever.  Probably not the way I should be thinking, but hey, I never said I was perfect.

Anyway, we are really excited to learn how to handle our money and to be better prepared for the future. And not only do we get to learn these useful techniques, we get to study the Bible at the same time. The Bible has a lot to say about money, and if we are to live Godly lives, that most definitely includes how we handle the money God blesses us with.

Here is a list of 5 Bible verses about money:
  • Philippians 4:19  "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."
  • Malachi 3:10  " 'Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.  Test me in this,' says the Lord Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and poor out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.' "
  • 1 Timothy 6:10  "For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."
  • Acts 20:35  "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "
  • Proverbs 22:7  "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender."
I found this list on  (Christian Personal Finance.)  It's a neat little article that talks about these verses more in-depth.  Here is the direct link:  You should check it out.

The Bible also provides a description of "The Wife of Noble Character" in Proverbs 31:10-31.  (I know, I know, you other wives out there are probably thinking "Proverbs 31?  [Cringe]  The wife we can never live up to!")  Well, regardless of how inadequate Proverbs 31 might make some of us feel, we have to pay attention to what it says.  Money matters are mentioned multiple times in this passage, like smart purchases in verse 16, profitable trading in verse 18, helping the poor in verse 20, and earning money in verse 24.  Some of these verses might not seem applicable when you first read them, but they are.  You just have to think hard and pray for God to reveal what they mean for you, right now, in your life, in this day and age.  It is possible to be like this woman!  I may not know from experience yet, but I haven't given up hope ;)

So here's what it boils down to:  Money is important.  What's more important is what we do with our money.  The Bible gives us a guide for handling our money.  We need to study what the Bible says, take it to heart, and then find practical ways to carry it out in our lives.  Following the Bible's teachings and utilizing Dave Ramsey's system, I can't wait to become good stewards and financially free!  I know one area of handling our money we are failing in is giving.  Since we haven't found a church home yet, we haven't really been giving.  We need to remedy this, quick!  There are plenty of other ways we could be giving.

If any of you have gone though the FPU program before, I'd love to hear how it worked for you!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Feelin' Crafty

The kids are gone to Playgroup today, so I've been relaxing, cleaning, and getting crafty!  Okay, so I'm more in the getting ready to get crafty stage, but what can I say - I'm excited!  I like to make things.  I like to be creative.  It's so gratifying to have an idea, gather the materials, put it all together and violà!  A project completed.

I live in a world where I can never be truly finished with a task and everything I do gets undone rather quickly.  I wash all of the dishes, then my family needs fed so I cook, we eat, and there's another sink full (don't get me started on how much I miss my dishwasher - I mean, how did anybody ever survive without one before they existed?!).  I vacuum and sweep the floors only to have the dogs walk through the house leaving clumps of fur behind while my kids follow their trail eating what seem to be the crumbiest crackers ever (yes, I know I can make the kids eat snacks at the table, but that would be too easy)!  I pick up all the toys from one room and turn around to see my children have drug more toys into another room.  Sigh.  And then there's the laundry.  It is not possible to ever have all the laundry done.  ...Unless we all ran around naked, but we're not really that kind of family...

So you see?  Completing a project that isn't going to be undone feels amazing!  So I went to the store this morning and picked out spray paint for a lamp I want to fix up for my daughter's room, and yarn to make hats for some baby girl twins I cannot wait to meet in a few weeks!  I totally forgot to look for fabric to line an old toybox I'm fixing up, but that's what happens when I don't make a list.  (Speaking of forgetting, I also forgot 2 key ingredients for a meal I've been craving for weeks and was planning on fixing tonight.  Again, no list...)

Anyway, here is the inspiration for my daughter's lamp revamp:

It's from a fun blog called Tatertots & Jello.  If you want to see the tutorial for this lamp, click here. Isn't it adorable?  I'll post pictures of my lamp once I finish.
I'll also let you know how the hats are coming along, as I'll be starting them very soon - those baby girls will be making their debut in just a few short weeks!  I swear I just got the news my girlfriend was having twins yesterday...  The toybox is last on the list, and honestly, you shouldn't expect any updates soon, since I've been "fixing it up" for about 2 years now [sheepishly grins]. 
If anyone else reading this is feelin' crafty, I'd love to know what you're working on!  Now I'm off to create!  ***Oh the irony - at the exact same time I typed that ending exclamation mark, the buzzer on my dryer went off.  Of course.  Oh well.  Welcome to my crazy beautiful life :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Everything Had to Change

Things are always changing, aren't they?  People change.  Places change.  Plans change.  Everything changes.  There have definitely been a lot of changes in our life recently.  And for someone who spends so much time planning and thinking things through, it's been hard to adjust!  But I guess I don't have much of a choice, do I?

This past weekend we went back to our old house.  What was supposed to be much needed family time turned into a "Let's See Who Can Whine the Most" contest between our two kids on the trip there and back, painting until 3am each morning, and spending Sunday afternoon replacing carpet in one of the rooms.  No leisurely walks up the quiet gravel road.  No playing games.  No roasting marshmallows over the fire.  Nothing I thought would happen this weekend.  Plans change.

It was a long weekend, and we're all exhausted from our trip.  We're exhausted from riding the car ride.  We're exhaused from lack of sleep.  We're exhausted from spending Saturday afternoon at the fair.  And we're just exhausted from all this change going on!

It's exhausting having two houses.  Our plan was to keep our old house for a weekend getaway, a place for my husband to hunt, and to stay connected with our old friends.  Each time we've been back, however, we've been so busy it hasn't really felt like a getaway.  And time doesn't stand still between each short visit, so it's hard to feel connected when things as you knew them, well, aren't as you knew them anymore. 

Our 4-year-old is pretty confused about the changes too.  It's been obvious since our move that he misses our old life.  He pleaded with me this weekend to not go back to our new house.  He said he liked our old house and wanted to stay.  When I convinced him we couldn't stay,  he stated he wanted to bring the ceiling fan with us, because he liked it better than the one in our new house.  He wanted to bring the new carpet we laid in his old room this weekend.   He wanted to bring our apple tree.  You get the picture.  Man, my tired Mommy heart broke about a thousand times this weekend!  Now just imagine how upset my 4-year-old was when we told him we were thinking of selling our old house.  It was an emotional weekend.  An exhausting weekend.  Everything changes.

This is what I told my son this weekend:  "You know what?  I know a lot of things have changed lately, but we're still a family.  We still get to be together every day.  We still love each other.  We always will.  That won't ever change."  He responded in the typical 4-year-old manner:  He didn't.  He made a comment that seemed to come from nowhere and went off to do something else which made us wonder if he had heard a single word I had said.  He did seem a little happier after our conversation (if you can call it that), so maybe it helped after all.  And then it clicked.  Even though I had said those words for the sake of my son, I knew God was trying to tell me something too.  What He's probably been trying to tell me for a while...

"I haven't changed.  I'm still here.  It's still true that I sent my Son to die for you.  You can still have eternal life with Me.  I am everything you'll ever need.  And I still love you.  That won't ever change."  Ohhhhhhh.  I get it.  You see, that's what it takes for me - the over-analyzing, constantly planning, brain-full-of-thoughts girl - that's what it takes for me to see the one true constant.  My whole world has to change.  Everything had to change.  Can you say "stiff-necked?"  Could I be any more short-sighted??!!

Here is what God tell us in the Bible:
  • Psalm 48:14  "For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end."
  • Psalm 33:11 "But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations."
  • Malachi 3:6 "I the Lord do not change..."
  • Matthew 28:20 "...And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
  • Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."

Did you hear that?  No change.  The same.  Always.  Forever.  For ever and ever.  These verses bring so much peace and calm to my heart!   I realize now that the things of this world aren't meant to be unchanging.  Only God is unchanging.  And I'm not saying change is always bad, but that God is always good.  Always.  And we are to put our faith in that never-changing truth, not in this ever-changing world.

I'm hesitant to ask...but I wonder what other lessons God intends on teaching me?...OK I'm off to do some stretching exercises to loosen up my neck muscles :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Glimpse of My Crazy Beautiful Life

Well, things are buzzing around here this morning, as we're off to our old house in Illinois later today.  The company my husband works for is having a picnic at the DuQuoin State Fair tomrrow and is also providing free armbands for the kids!  I am really looking forward to this much needed family time.  Anyway, back to our buzzing house:  Breakfast eaten - check.  Laundry and dishes started - check.  Bags packed - not so much!  I always leave this until last because I am terrible at packing!  I'm usually very thorough, but I overthink the entire process and most of the time end up staring into my kids' closets as if I'm hoping all the "right" options will just jump out of the closet and into the suitcase!  Sometimes I like to make a checklist so I don't forget something important, but I still tend to worry the entire trip that I've forgotten something that someone will need.  Wow!  I'm already exhausted just thinking about the packing I need to do this morning!  Whew!

I chose to describe the title of my blog as "My Crazy Beautiful Life" because my life is kind of crazy...kind of all the time.  My son is 4 and my daughter is 1 1/2.  They keep me on my toes!  We have 3 dogs and 1 cat.  I can't seem to remember why I thought that was such a good idea...  And we just moved.  My husband took a new job that required us to move away from our home on 10 wooded acres in southern Illinois to a rental house in the bootheel of Missouri with a fenced in back yard on a busy street in the middle of town.  I always thougth it'd be nice to have a fenced in back yard with two small children, but they seem to find it awfully confining and boring... We were at our old house last weekend and I can't remember my kids spending much time inside other than to sleep and eat!  They were explorers finding pinecones and nuts, listening for owls and whippoorwills, and even catching a couple of little lizards!  My oldest and his cousin also got in a lot of tree-climbing practice!  Here in the bootheel there aren't quite as many trees.  Or hills.  Or a lot of other things.  But I never expected to move and find things exactly the same.  The people are different too.  I know we only moved a few hours away, but talk about a culture shock!  It's been interesting, to say the least, trying to settle into life here and adjust to the differences.  We've been having a hard time finding a new church home.  Jayce is too young to attend preschool here in Missouri (althought he's already been to PreK in Illinois).  There's no weekly story hour at the local library.  So everything we used to know is now what seems to be a world away.  Talk about adding to the craziness around here!  And did I mention my husband's new job keeps him very busy?  This is the company's busiest time of the year, plus he's still trying to learn how things work while managing employees who look to him to know everything.  Sigh.

Now here's the beautiful:  My son is 4 and my daughter is 1 1/2.  They keep me on my toes!  They are so full of life and such a blessing and honor to raise!  The house we're renting is bigger than our home in Illinois.  The extra space is really nice!  The kids' rooms are huge so we actually have room to play in there instead of dragging everything out into the livingroom, and I don't have to walk sideways to get to my side of the bed anymore!  I honestly haven't found the beautiful in living in town, and not seeing as many hills or trees yet, but I now live only 5 minutes away from the closest grocery store.  That's definitely more convenient that our previous 30 minute drive!  And the people are different, and I don't know many peole, but that just means I have to step out of my comfort zone.  That's a welcomed growth opportunity!  We're very anxious to find a new church home, and deeply miss our old church and church family, but we're having to step out of our comfort zone here too and how can that be bad?  We're having to do a lot of soul searching and I know we're going to come out the other end of this tunnel with a much stronger faith!  Something else that's beautiful is my kids are making new friends.  They recently started a Playgroup/Mother's Morning Out program which occurs twice a week for a few hours and they are loving it!  Plus, my son starts soccer in a few weeks and my daughter will start gymnastics around the same time.  I am so excited for a busy schedule again!  I've started to make a few friends too, and have met a beautiful group of women from a local church that I can't wait to get to know better.  Their kind words and hospitality have really been a blessing!  And one of the most beautiful things about our life right now is that my husband is happy at work.  I have wanted this for him for a very long time!  This job is pretty much everything he wanted from his last job.  I can't even explain how wonderful it is to see my husband excited about something he has to do so many hours of his days!

So that's our crazy beautiful life right now.  I hope you'll join me for the adventures to follow!  But for now, I've got to pack!  Have a great weekend, and please take the time to notice your beautiful.  God sends us reminders all the time, but the hard thing is being quiet enough to hear them :)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Inspiration Behind "Balloons in the Bathtub"

Welcome to my blog!  This is the 1st time I have ever blogged anything, and I am normally quite uncomfortable sharing much personal information over the computer, but I have been inspired.  (I've also been extremely frustrated, confused, and down lately, which is the main reason for my inspiration to blog!)  I need to share my thoughts.  And I've got a LOT of thoughts!

I don't know how many people will ever read my blog, but this is my best idea on how to clear my head and try to organize my thoughts.  I'm the kind of person who lays in bed at night for at least an hour with so many thoughts in my head I have about a thousand things to think through before I can even begin to relax.  And the kind of person who starts planning her child's birthday party a year in advance so I can make sure I've got all the details covered.  And the kind of person who has many, MANY, Word and Notepad documents on her computer of ideas I don't want to forget - all sorts of ideas: meal ideas, DIY project ideas, Mom's group ideas, birthday party & gift ideas, and so on and so on.  I so desperately wish I could experience the phenomenon men get to experience sometimes - having absolutely no thoughts at a certain moment in time!  Oh to think of such a wonderful experience!...wait...not to think is what I'm after.  I know, I know - I'm rolling my eyes at my joke too :)

Anyway, I want to share my thoughts with you, whoever "you" are.  My thoughts on life.  My thoughts on each day as it comes and goes.  My thouhts on my kids.  My thoughts on my struggles and successes.  My thoughts on parenting.  My thoughts on what it means to be a good wife.  My thoughts about my faith.  And also my ideas about no-so-deep things.  Like a really cute DIY ruffled burlap lampshade (my next project).  Or the homemade birthday parties I love to throw for my kids.  Or whatever idea happens to enter my oh-so-full-of-thoughts brain.

Now about the title: "Thank You, God, For Balloons in the Bathtub."  In a crazy beautiful life like mine, and many other mothers (SAHM or working) can relate, it's pretty easy to get to the point where you just want to throw your arms up in the air and yell, "That's it!  I'm done!  It's hopeless!  I've lost all control (and my mind)!"  It's in those moments when you're about to burst, that God sends you little reminders of the the small yet important things through a change of heart and a fresh perspective.  Like how it's unbelievable how much dirty laundry 2 children and a husband can produce in one day!...but aren't you happy your family can afford all those clothes?...and can you imagine life without all that laundry because you had no husband or children?  Or when it's the end of a day in which the kids' bedtime couldn't come fast enough and you storm into the bathroom to wash away the day's frustrations and hopefully your bad mood that's built up all day, and you not-so-gently open the shower curtain which causes the curtain and the rod to fall at your feet and just adds to what has to be the "worst day ever!"...and then you are surprised to see the bathtub not empty, but full of red and blue balloons leftover from your child's birthday party...and you think about how much you love those silly kids of yours who put those balloons in there...and you can't help but sigh, relax your shoulders, smile, and thank God for the balloons in the bathtub.