Sunday, November 23, 2008

Financial Accountability

The idea makes my stomach turn and my spirit rebel. I know that I am not alone here but I HATE budgets. I hate talking about money.
I heard a podcast from NPR on why other people recoil at the idea... it basically came down to the fact that they are afraid of math. They don't understand it so they think they can't do it so they just don't try.
That pretty much summed me up in a nutshell. I think on top of things, I am married to a money genius. Everette is incredibly bright on a lot of different levels, but he is particularly brilliant when it comes to money. Making, spending, and saving. He likes to talk about it, he likes to read about it, and he likes to think about it.
It would be one thing if I was in a marriage with someone equally or at least more equally ignorant about money. Then we could keep things simple and struggle our way through things together. We would both make big mistakes and we would both learn. Instead, our partnership is incredibly lopsided in this area. This makes me all the more aware of my ignorance and all the more fearful of being exposed. No one likes to look like an idiot in front of their spouse.
My strategy was to take the ostrich approach. Bury my head and pretend that no one could see me. Everette and I would talk about it and even make a budget for a while, but it would get hairy, I would get scared and overwhelmed and then we would have a fight and I would bury my head again.
Everette has two big things. First he is worried if something happens to him, I won't know what to do or how anything works and drown just trying to maintain the status quo (sp?). These fears are not unfounded as far as our investments and house goes. I have never dealt with these.
His other deal is, he believes that money is a tool. A tool to help you do other things... some very noble--to serve God, to love others, and others not so--clothes, gadgets and other commercial items. This view of money leads to a more cautious, but purposeful approach to how you spend your money.
I am a fritterer. Large purchases scare me, I tend to spend money on small frivolous things. I was focused just on "staying out of debt". But that was it. No goals or plan on what to do with the money, nothing to work toward.
About a month ago we had a "Come to Jesus Meeting" It was actually good. Everette made me look over our past expenses and see where our money was going. Then we sat down and had a calm, fruitful, productive, non-yelling discussion about it. We looked at where we could cut back. We made a plan. We assigned responsibilities. I told Everette some of my fears, and things that I felt were too hard for me to take responsibility for right now.
And here is what I discovered. As it turns out, I kind of like the accountability. I feel a great sense of accomplishment when I come in under budget. I like finding ways to save money. I feel in control and aware of our financial situation. I like having a goal to work toward. I was much more prepared to have dinner at home everynight. And I actually chose to eat at home other times we could have eaten out because I knew we could save the money for something else.
I should put a disclaimer-- it has only been a month (not even) and I am only responsible for the tiniest part of our finances, but my hope is that I can start small and build. Who would have thought.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Spread the love

It has happened three times now and the feeling is incredible. God has been using other people to encourage me. Before I begin I have to put a disclaimer, well two actually.
1. The following may sound like I think I am the greatest thing since sliced bread. This is not true. I am WELL aware of my faults. Sometimes too aware, I think.
2. I am not at ALL fishing for compliments. Please do not feel obligated to do so.
I am just happy and I want to spread the love, like peanut butter on white bread.
So it began a few weeks ago when I called my friend to tease her about her debateably hot ex-boyfriend starring (for five minutes, ok maybe 10) on CSI NY (he was the dead archeologist). After several rounds of good-natured ribbing (her husband is our pastor and she could have married a superstar-you can't let that stuff go unnoticed), she interrupted me and told me all sorts of nice things about me. I hung up feeling stunned, humbled, encouraged, and flattered as her sentiments were more than doubly reciprocated on my end.
A few weeks later, I was reading some blogs (as I most often do-really like 10-12 times a day), I came across a post that a friend of mine wrote on someone else's blog explaining his political views on this most recent presidential election. As you can imagine, hot debates ensued. While I agreed with a lot of the opposing view points I couldn't help but see the faults in both arguments. Knowing my friend as I do I could see how his comments were being serioulsy misconstrued. I also saw a few other people trying to make a few lighthearted comments being ripped to shreads by emotionally charged responses.
So I felt compelled to leave a comment. My comment was mainly shaped by the article I posted here on election day. I come to the conclusion that our multiparty system is a blessing from God. Either party if left unchecked to rule would quickly and enthusiastically drive us over a cliff. And a few other points. I certainly did not feel like I was doing anything noble. I was simply spouting my opinion. Something I generally like to do.. it runs in my family.
Later that day I received a voicemail from my friend. Thanking me for my comment. While he may have called everyone that posted, it sure made me feel pretty good.
And finally, this is the badge I wear with the most honor.
There is a guy at my church-who does EVERYTHING!!!!! I mean everything. If you want something or need something. He will get it for you.. or point you in the direction of someone who can. He is at every event. He sets up the chairs every sunday. He does everything. He is an incredibly hard worker. He spends much of his life outside of work at the church. He single handedly headed up the total building overhaul when we moved in. He installed light fixtures, laid flooring, built offices, sets up the tables for EVERY single church event-including women's bible study and is currently heading up the installation of our kitchen (all of this is at our church). The man is incredible, fearless and invincible.
He called me today to tell me that they needed to move the fridge downstairs so they could start working on the... something whatever, not important. He remembered that we were having a church dinner on Monday (that I am coordinating) and wanted to know if that would be a problem. I honestly didn't see how it was a problem. I knew people were dropping stuff off early, but I didn't see why they couldn't walk it downstairs and put it in the fridge down there. I hardly gave it a second thought. I mean, like I was going to tell THIS guy what to do with the fridge.

I called him later tonight about something else, and he said he needed to tell me something. (I was thinking a million things-and none of it was what came next).
He told me he was feeling really down, like ready-to-leave-the-church down, because he was tired of people complaining (it's too hot, too cold, too many chairs, not enough chairs etc.) and when he called me about the fridge he had his walls up and was ready to hear my complaints. He told me he was taken aback at my attitude and I quote "felt like I was walking on air, like Superman" I was completely shocked. You never know (and most often never will find out) where people have been when you come in contact with them. I told him to tell people that the complaint department has moved to Megan Mills and I would tell them where they could shove their complaints.
Honestly, there is so much ugliness in me that comes out at times, that it feels great when you do something great and kind and you don't even realize it. I think I will take this one to my grave. And I hope that I can remember how much a kind word makes a difference. I hope I can remember it when I am tired at the grocery store and the checkout lady is going incredibly slow. I hope I can remember it when it is early in the morning and Everette and I are grouching over who has to get up and get our crying kid.

I hope that I can be kind. Here's to spreading the love!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Finally! Oy!

Get ready for one long post-Lots of pictures I promise!!!
I can't believe it has been over a month since I have posted a real post. So much has happened. In early october Everette's brother Brad was visiting from New York. We had a great time. Plus Everette's mom made her famous fried chicken! Delicious. The following are our attempts to get some semblance of a family photo. The first one is the best one.

Max of course always wants to be where the action.

there are so few pictures of Everette smiling,and even fewer of him throwing his head back and laughing.

This little picture happened when Jonathan pushed his truck up to the rocking chair, and then proceeded to climb up the rocking chair all by himself. Sorry for not rotating it... I forgot to, and now I am too lazy.

Jonathan at one of our playgroup swimming days. Faith Baptist has a pretty fun indoor pool-if you think it is fun to stand in ankle deep water in your swimsuit while a bajillion people from the community center stare at you-we were there the day of the Hoosier Heartland Corridor Extravaganza--yes.. the governer was there along with a ton of photographers and vidoeographers and important-looking people running around in suits.

On Tuesday evening we go have dinner with Great-Gramma Betty. Jonathan has his own little drawer with lots of things that make loud noises!

And finally Halloween! We had our parents over for dinner while we passed out candy. We didn't have any plans to dress Jonathan up, but Everette's mom bought him a sweatsuit with teddy bear ears so we decided that would be perfect to wear. I must say he was quite adorable.

Uncle Grant even brought over a jack o lantern.

My other genius idea was to put the baby gate up on the OUTSIDE of the door-thus containing our overly excitable dog and our runaway rugrat. It also made for some cute pictures!

Stay tuned for more exciting updates-I promise!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

SO I personally try to stay away from posting anything political. Not that I am opposed to it, it just isn't my thing. However....Since today is election day I am making an acception. Everette and I have had many conversations about this election and every time we come up empty handed. We both had strong reasons NOT to vote for either presidential candidates. But being good American citizens we were plagued by a guilty conscience and kept trying to pick a side.
To us it was choosing the lesser of two evils. Yesterday we received an email from Derek Webb (no not a personal one), a singer/songwriter we both really love. I ignored it assuming it was advertising junk. Everette read it and made me sit down and read it before I went to vote. I wish I had read it weeks ago! I just returned from voting having fulfilled my civic duty without violating my conscience. If any of you read this before you vote, and are not sure who to vote for, I encourage you to check out this article. Or even if you have already voted read it to remember for the next election. I PROMISE it is not an article about which candidate is better or worse. It is the most liberating thing I have read in a long time! Plus if you read the article you can probably figure out how I voted.

And as for updates on Jonathan which is why I know you all read this blog. I promise they are coming. I have uuber cute pictures!