Monday, March 21, 2011

money, lent, etc. [an update]

My last post eluded to my desire to give up money-worry [i.e. worrying about money].  I believe I'm so far/so good.  Last week was a little dicey, in that it included my husband's birthday [begging the questions:  should I purchase a gift, go with only a card, put my bike on Craig's List hoping to collect $20 then promptly head to Wildcat Warehouse to purchase an I ♥ Calipari tee shirt. . . . . ?].  Actually, my kids helped me decide upon a nice gift, which has been ordered.  Honestly, decisions like what gift to buy can leave me indecisive for days.  But, I made it through, this time.  [yay me!]

Last week, like normal, brought its share of "I need $___ for a field trip, $___ for a trip to TN, $___ for a youth group activity," from my kids.  Please note I'm not complaining about my kids' spending.  All of the activities and/or events they asked about were, as Martha Stewart would say, "good things".  So, I visited our bank's ATM, conveniently located at the Kroger next door to my workplace.  I took out the necessitated cash on Friday, and I'm pleased to announce I did not have a mini breakdown watching it come out of the machine.  I promptly put it in my wallet, and went on with my day.  I'm also pleased to announce that when I arrived home, there was a card awaiting that had arrived in the mail that afternoon.  It contained a check for the exact amount of cash I'd taken out.  Yes. . . I know we've all heard these stories.  And no, mine didn't involve over $1000 and a mission trip to Africa or a broken washing machine.  But it did serve as a subtle reminder that all is well for my family financially. 

When I say all is well, please note what I'm saying is we have what we need.  And then some.  For today.  But that's all we're really guaranteed and all we really require, right?  Enough for today?

I assisted our daughter, Allie, with completing a bio for a project this weekend.  She stated her future plan was to attend Transylvania University [granted, she would absolutely have to receive a BIG scholarship for that to happen - and yes, it's quite possible she will] and become a middle school counselor because she likes to help people.  Allie is smart enough to realize middle school counselors aren't rolling in the dough.  She's also smart enough to know she has the capability to choose a career in which she would.  Another subtle reminder that she's getting that what matters most isn't about finances.  [Yes, I know she might change her mind down the road, but please, let me have this moment.] 

One of our son Jamie's recent Facebook statuses:  
Drumming some in Pheonix Park on this fine spring evening.
Perhaps he'll soon be paying his own way as a street musician.  

Our pastor completed a series on Sunday entitled, A Generous Life.  He mentioned something this weekend that sticks with me.  If I don't accept the bible's instructions to be a generous giver, I distrust Jesus's words.  I don't accept His promises.  I don't believe Him.  Yowza!  Pastor Kevin also eluded to the fact that God has always provided for he and his wife.  In prosperous times and not so prosperous.  Another subtle [or not so] reminder that I have what I need.  And more.  So I continue to not be bogged down with financial concern.

My husband Chip and I went for a walk yesterday [along with CJ the beagle].  And today.  The weather's been great.  And CJ really enjoys getting leashed up and escorted through our new neighborhood.  She even met a beagle friend today.  Really [and I don't know if my husband realizes this], I'd rather go on a walk with him than go to the movies, or even to some restaurants for dinner.  It's a free date, but more meaningful to me than a lot of other things.  Give me twenty minutes around Castlewood Park any day over two hours at Regal Cinema.  CJ feels the same way.  

I'm spending a bit of time each weekday morning, studying my "word of the day", and inviting God's presence.  It's been helpful.  

My evaluation:
I'm making improvements.  And I look back at what the Sister said [note again, my previous entry]:  
Lent is about becoming, doing and changing whatever it is that is blocking the fullness of life in us right now.
I'm removing those life blockers.  Little by little.   

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent, money, and wisdom from a Sister

I've decided to give up money for Lent.  Well, sort of.  I know that sounds like an odd thing to give up.  A couple years back my Lent give up was vanity [I stopped wearing nearly all makeup and gave up all jewelry except my wedding ring].  A lot of folks give up a food item.  I've already subtracted meat from my diet, so I don't really feel compelled to take out much more.  Plus, my husband is following an Orthodox Lenten calendar and is basically a vegan for 40 days.  And son Jamie is giving up meat for the season.  So, our family diets will be different for a while.  Social media seems to be a popular choice.  But. . . I'm not an over indulger in it.  Giving up tv wouldn't be that much of a sacrifice for me.  That left me with money.

One reason I came to this is because our church is in the midst of a "Generous Life" series.  And my husband is in the midst of a job change, resulting in less income.  And my children keep bringing home notes from school asking for $20 for a field trip, $80 for an AP test, $5 for honor band pizza, etc.  I find myself thinking about money a lot.  Too much really.  And I need to stop.  For my own good; for my husband's good.  For our children's good.  Therefore, I'm going to stop focusing on it.  I'm going to free my mind of it.  When Chip starts his new job on Tuesday, I'm not going to ask him when his first pay day will be.  When Allie comes home after honor band rehearsal, I will not confirm she ate $5 worth of pizza or else brought back left overs.  I will not complain to Jamie about the $20 initiation fee for Sociedad Honoraria Hispanica.  Instead I will be thankful my kids are able to participate in such things.  I will be grateful my husband's career path has taken him to where he's at.  

I think I already trust God regarding money.  I know He provides.  I just get consumed in the thought process regarding my economic situation.  I over analyze and calculate and though I don't wish I was rich, I do wish I could be free of the thoughts that bog me down.  The truth is I hate spending money.  Or more accurately, I hate the fact that life in my society suggests I have to use my resources on things that aren't necessarily necessary or logical to me. 

That's why I was happy that my {words to live by} today are self control.  Which led me to read this passage:
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
         Be acceptable in Your sight,
         O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.  ~ Psalm 19:14
Honestly, I'm not truly giving up a luxury.  Maybe I'm not following correct Lenten protocol.  Really what I'm hoping to do instead of give up something, is add something.  I want to add time with God.  I've neglected that one on one time.  I've made excuses and I've allowed busyness to creep into my schedule.  I've let irrational, ridiculous and stupid thoughts have a place in my brain.  Beginning this morning, I took some time away, read the above passage, and breathed a sigh of relief.  I truly believe that God blesses us when we tithe our income.  Make us wealthy, no.  Give us a new car.  Most likely not.  But He'll bless us.  And likewise, I believe when we give Him some time, He'll bless us as well.  I'm opening the door I'd left half open.   
I'm to go shoe shopping with Allie this weekend.  Band requires her to wear black shoes to upcoming concerts.  May the meditation of my heart regarding shoes be pleasing to Him.  I will be reimbursed for snacks I purchase tomorrow for band reception refreshments.  May I not fret over the details and may the meditation of my heart regarding Kroger cookies be pleasing to Him.  We'll soon be switching health care providers.  May the meditation of my heart regarding insurance companies be acceptable in His sight.  May I keep the door open and my mind free of the thoughts that bog me down and may I draw closer to Him this Lenten season.

Lent is a call to weep for what we could have been and are not. Lent is the grace to grieve for what we should have done and did not. Lent is the opportunity to change what we ought to change but have not. Lent is not about penance. Lent is about becoming, doing and changing whatever it is that is blocking the fullness of life in us right now.
Lent is a summons to live anew.
~ Sister Joan Chittister, OSB

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

{home sweet home} aka {Life on Loudon}

Our home

What our home used to look like

The fence in our backyard
[I think whoever painted this left out the A.  Meaning it should read "East Side".]

 Meet our clock - a new addition.

We will soon have everything arranged in a permanent manner.  For now, we're able to function.  We're happy to now have 2 full baths.  And despite our mockery of those on House Hunters who truly believe they cannot exist without stainless steal appliances, we now have them.  [although we testify they're not a necessity, but a blessing worked out between our realtor and the previous owner/renovator]  I am already thinking of our backyard vegetable garden, hoping Chip will change his mind about the worm farm I learned about at a composting workshop.  I'm looking forward to spring, which will mean sitting on our porch as well as walking our dog CJ regularly.  I enjoy exploring a neighborhood on foot.  You see so much more that way. 

I wish I could fully explain our road to get here.  It's really not just moving from the south side of Lexington to the north.  It's more than that.  Maybe it started with a not so pleasant conversation in 1989 after hearing Tony Campolo speak at our college.  Maybe way before that.  I remember taking the kids to see a house catty cornered to the one we're in now.  It was about a year ago.  I heard about it's availability from a coworker.  Later that week we contacted the realtor and all four of us toured it.  We liked it a lot.  But selling our house and all the details involved overwhelmed us.  And the catty cornered house sold.  But we decided to go ahead and list our house.  And our house didn't sell.  And didn't sell.  And barely got looked at.  Until a few days before Christmas.  An offer was made.  We negotiated.  We took it off the market.  The offer was re-offered.  We accepted.  We moved. 

And here we are.  On Loudon Avenue.   We used to back up to a somewhat suburban middle school.  Now it's railroad tracks and a cemetery.  {Life on Loudon} is definitely different than {Life on Lansill}.  And this time around, different is good.