Thursday, April 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Emma!

My dear sweet Emma,
I can hardly believe that you're 3! today. Lately when I look at you, I can't help but stare a little because I can hardly believe what a big girl you are. You look so different than you did a year ago and act so different too. You're such a bright, beautiful, playful girl who is a natural leader. I thank God all the time for allowing me the privilege of being your mommy.
I love all the talk time we have together. You have so many questions and love learning new things. You also are quick to tell me all your three year old observations on life. I especially love your interpretations of new things that you learn about God. You can simplify things that adults find very complex. You say so many funny things that I wish I had been better at writing down- I need to work on doing that this year. You love to pretend and make up different scenarios. Lately you've been a waitress that uses anything that resembles a notepad and pen and ask, "Whatdaya want today?" I'm not sure who this brash waitress is that you are modeling yourself after, but it always makes me laugh. You also love to switch roles with me. You love acting like a mommy, and I think you'll make a great one many, MANY years form now.
You became a big sister this year and love your little brother so much. You always want to know where he is, and your face lights up in a big smile as soon as you see him. You can be a little too rough with him, but you can also make him laugh and smile like no one else. I love when I look back at the two of you in the car and you're holding hands. You also love having someone that you think you can boss around. I often have to remind you that you're not in charge of him. :) You also love giving him lots of hugs and kisses.
You love being around people. You're most definitely an extravert who can instantly be comfortable with kids that you just met. I admire that so much about you, and hope that we can continue to cultivate your love for people and easy going attitude towards them. There is one exception to this, however, and that is your best buddy, Dallas. You love playing with him so much, yet at the same time you guys drive each other absolutely crazy. It'll be interesting to see how your friendship develops as you get older. You are also confident while talking with adults. You're not the type to hide behind my leg when someone speaks to you, which is a great quality for such a young little lady.
Your family adores you. You have both sets of grandparents wrapped around your little finger along with aunts, uncles, and cousins that love spending time with you. I love seeing you with both sides of our family, and hope that you continue to be so close with them.
You, my dear, are so precious to me and I love you with all my heart. I can't wait to see all the new, exciting changes come in the life of my little three year old. Your daddy and I are so very proud of you. No matter how big you get, you will always be our baby girl.

Love you so much,

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Middle

I am not
who i was
5 years
5 months
5 minutes ago
time does not stand still
nor do i
i move forward
sometimes back
but i'm always
in the middle.
this brings me comfort
and reminds me to be graceful
as you are in the middle as well
you are not
who you will be
5 years
5 months
5 minutes from now.
we can walk in hope
that every step
forward or back
conforms us closer
to the image of
the One who IS
The Beginning, the Middle, and the End.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Debt to Love

I never thought it would happen, but I've been brainwashed by Dave Ramsey. I resisted for a long time. We have friends that have been under the Ramsey spell, but I promised myself I would never cave. Sure, he had some good ideas, but who wants to actually implement them? Debt-free? Whatever. No one is debt free and why does it matter anyway? My generation knows little about sacrifice or delayed gratification because we have plastic that we allow to bring us both security and happiness. We're slaves, but well-fed ones. And really, I'm better off than most people my age. Thank goodness I married a nerd.

I've spent years as a slave to stuff without even noticing my chains. I've chosen to be a slave to marketers who tell me that their products will in some way make my life better, instead of going to the One whom I know makes life rich and meaningful. I've settled for instant gratification and laziness. It's not even that we had exuberant amounts of debt; we just don't have freedom. Matt was always worried about money and I was always guilty about spending it. On top of that, I've had this thought of being blessed to bless others swirling around in my head for months now. Except when it comes to money I'm pretty selfish, which is an ugly thing to be. I certainly don't want to be an ugly woman. I don't want money to be about accumulating stuff, I truly want it to be about how I can use it to love God and others. That thought is slowly making it from my head to my heart.
I started tracking where my money went on a monthly basis and it honestly makes me sick. We (mostly me) spend thousands of dollars every year on straight up ish. Seriously, I don't know what I've been thinking. I mean, there's weeks where I've spent $30 a week on smoothies. That's a direct result of not using my brain. When I swipe my plastic card, it doesn't register with my little brain that I'm actually spending money. It only registers when I look at our credit card statement and see just how much money has trickled down my throat. I never thought I would become a cash carrier because I get points on my credit card. I wasn't going to allow Dave Ramsey to take my points away from me! Cash can't compete with that. Except statistically people spend an average of 12-18% more when they pay with a card instead of cash. Hmmm... I could probably call myself a statistic. Dangit. I now pay with cash and feel the burn of the six dollar smoothie. It's not like I can't ever have my overpriced drinks either. We just stick to a budget now. We plan for where our money goes. We tell it where to go. It's been hard work figuring all this out but is actually incredibly rewarding and freeing. In a couple months we'll be completely debt free. Then the only debt we will have will be the debt to love others. To bless as we've been blessed. 
We're planning ahead and are on the same page. We're both actually involved in the process, which also means we both have a say in where our money goes. We're having healthy discussions about money which essentially lead to a better marriage. Winning! It's a lifestyle choice that takes discipline but feels oh so good. Sort of. I mean, I know it'll bring peace that spending foolishly won't bring, and who doesn't want just a little peace?