Sunday, December 16, 2012

If I Leave Too Soon...

While I have switched gears and made my blog about our FPU journey, I did want to share something personal that I recently wrote.

Friday was a tough day for all of us. The Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy hit home with everyone due to the young children targeted. Because I work in a school and honestly, because I grew up in the same metro-area as Columbine, situations like this are never far from my mind. I'm constantly playing out in my head how best to lock-down my libraries, etc.

The truth is, if the moment ever comes who knows what will happen. And that, has been on my heart today. So I wrote a letter to my children in case I don't come home one day.

Forgive the length. When you're writing as if you are no longer on this earth there are a lot of things to say.


To my children:

I pray that if you are reading this it’s because I have handed it to you myself, but if I haven’t I can only assume I’m no longer here to do so. There have been more and more tragic situations in the news and while I have no reservations about leaving this earth myself, I do lament the thought of leaving my children without a mother.

Please know that whatever circumstances led to my leaving you, that I love you with all of my heart. You are my beautiful babies and I stand amazed at you every single day.

Nathan (or Nate as you demand to be called these days … you’re 3 as I write this), you made me a mommy. From the moment you were born I’ve been in awe of the creation of life. For you to not exist on this earth and then suddenly be there, well I’m still dumbfounded by it today.

There have been moments that I have failed as a mommy to you. Moments when I yelled at you, or spanked you when I shouldn’t have. Moments when I myself have had a temper tantrum worthy of a 3 year old (Word of advice, the terrible two’s are a myth. Three is when kids break lose. Just a tip for when you have kids) and afterword wonder why God let me be your mommy.

I pray that you don’t remember those times, or if you do, that they are overshadowed by the good. The times when we played superheroes or cuddled up and read books and watched movies together. The times of hugs and kisses. The times I comforted your boo-boos.

My son, at the moment you are still new. Still innocent to the horrors of the world and I hope you stay that way as long as possible. One day that will end, you will grow to be a young man and I pray that you are a Godly man. One made after His own heart. Not perfect – remember not to beat yourself up if you are not. But strive to be kind hearted, loving. A good husband and father to your wife as well as a good son and brother to your Dad and sister.  Love them and remember that family never abandons each other. (Yikes! You just pow-pow’d me! )

Now to my beautiful daughter. Madelyn Claire. Wow. My love you are only three months old and are peacefully napping next to me. In three short months you have shown me that not only was I NOT meant to have only boys, but I would have never been whole without a boy and a girl. You have my heart little one, in a way I never thought a little girl could. You are a part of me. I can’t wait to share my love of theatre, horses, and all things girl with you. If you hate all things girl…well more power to you and we’ll just play superhero with your brother. 

One day I will mess up with you just as I have with Nathan. I will have yelled too much, lost my temper and just flat-out screwed up. I wish you the same that I wish for Nathan. I pray you remember the wonderful times. While I don’t know what those will entail I know they’ll be amazing.

Now I just relish in the fleeting moments of your babyhood. Your squishy little newborn self. Your smiles and someday soon your sweet giggles. I’m so excited to see who you become, what your personality will be like. Although it scares the crud out of me I hope to see the day we have our first fight as mom and daughter because that means we’re alive and together. You will, as your brother will, lose your sweet baby innocence one day and become a woman. You will be beautiful. Strong, independent, loving and a woman of God. You are Madelyn Claire S-----------.

To you both, know that I don’t expect either of you to be perfect angels. I do pray though that you follow Jesus the best you can and love Him and others with all your heart. Also, know that I am so sorry I’m not here. I’m sorry if I miss the important times in your lives. Know that it breaks my heart to even think of not being at a first day of school, a graduation, wedding or birth of a grandchild. But know that I am waiting for you in Heaven and am looking forward to seeing you again one day. Don’t rush though!

If I have other children and fail to update this letter know that although I do not yet know you, everything I have said to your brother and sister apply to you as well. God has given parents an amazing gift of love in children. Our capacity to love swells with each child to a point that I never could have imagined. You are loved, you are amazing. I can’t wait to know you.

With all my love,


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Keeping Ourselves Accountable

I already need to apologize to those few of you who read this. If you follow me on Facebook, which I'm betting all of you do since I think my readership comes solely from my Facebook links, you'll have already read some of this information. However, it applies to our financial journey so it needs to find its way onto this blog as well.

Last Thursday was our last FPU class. I have to admit it was a little sad to finish it up. I highly enjoyed talking with the people in our class and since not all of them go to our church I'm not sure that I'll ever get that pleasure again.

Our leaders, Don and Lindy, asked if anyone was willing to co-teach the next class with them. When they asked the first time, Caleb and I both had an inner "hmmm" moment but didn't act upon it. Last Thursday though, we did.

We are now set to co-teach a 9 week FPU course starting in late January. No, we aren't very far into our journey ourselves, but we are hoping to keep on the right track. We also feel that not only will this help others, but it will hold us accountable, reminding us of Dave's Baby Steps and what it is we need to be doing.

It is a pretty big commitment because although this first class will be co-taught with our leaders, it also means we are committing to teaching a class on our own next year. As in, BY OURSELVES. Gulp. Yet I feel a peace about this. One that I rarely feel about things like this because I need to admit something to you:

I'm a homebody. Caleb and most of my friends could easily tell you this. I really don't enjoy doing things outside of the house very often. At least not things I've committed too because there is always some night where all I want to do is cozy up with my kids in my pjs and do absolutely nothing. I won't be able to that when teaching an FPU class. Unless of course I'm sick or one of the kiddos is sick, we'll have to be at every meeting. Since, you know, we're leading it.

I'm praying that God will use FPU and this experience as teachers to keep us in the mindset we need to be in. Changing your financial future is all about behavior and we've been in the right place before, just to fall back to the credit cheetah.

And since I am finding that having a blog with a particular focus is easier to keep up with, hopefully I'll have plenty to say about our journey as new FPU Coordinators. Hope you'll stick around to read about it!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Big Purchases

Sometimes I feel like every financial decision we make is a poor one. I could go on an on about our credit mistakes (which I touched on last post), our car purchase, my grad. school loans & of course, our house.

I have never talked to Dave Ramsey personally, but I have a feeling if I relayed our financial choices to him he would hit us with the "Gibb's Slap" (NCIS reference to those of you non-tv watchers).

I'm pretty sure I knew our car was a bad idea but we went on with it anyway and while our car is still reliable and our payment is certainly not the worst in the world, it is not something we can easily afford and I will jump for joy the day the dang thing is paid off.

When I was going to Grad. School I lived in la-la land. I knew we'd have to pay the loans back but I needed to get my degree. I would worry about that later. I failed to remember that librarians are not paid the best ... especially if you look at the education you have to have to become one.

I think we suffer from not knowing when the best time to "leap" into a big purchase is. We did everything Dave says NOT to do when it came to our house. We aren't exactly "house poor" but we're definitely close. Our credit cards and car loan are really what eat up our monthly income and it wouldn't be much cheaper to rent so when I consider that, I feel less mad at myself for our house purchase but we probably should have waited.

I'm praying that in the future when it comes to large purchases and decisions we really mediate on what the right thing to do it. What is God guiding us to? Should we really be making this decision today or do we need to go sleep on it?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Our Credit Mistakes

There are two defining moments in our financial past that I wish I could "do-over". They both involve our credit cards (or "cheetahs" as Dave Ramsey calls them) and despite knowing what a bad idea it all was, I still managed to get us in a mess.

The first moment was when we signed up for our first real credit card. I had a store card that I didn't use very often and while I occasionally carried a balance, it wouldn't be for long. However when I convinced myself and Caleb that we needed the actual bank card for building our credit and of course, emergencies, I started us on a path of debt that is killing our monthly budget.

The second moment took place in July of 2008...I had been working for the bank for about a year and in that year we had attacked the debt on the aforementioned credit card. We had the stupid thing down to a $300 balance and were so close to paying it off. But for some reason something in me hit a snag that July. My "gazelle" behavior suddenly stopped and I let the cheetah catch up.

It all started innocently enough, we bought a wedding gift for a friend of ours when we were short on cash, then I found out I was pregnant. We didn't have a huge food budget and I told myself that I needed to buy a bunch of healthy food ... so I dropped $200 in one shopping trip using the card. From there it just spiraled out of control.

Looking back I could just shoot myself. When I dwell on it, it's almost maddening because I KNEW credit cards were bad. I had read and listened to enough of Dave Ramsey even at that point, that I knew his thoughts on the darn things. Yet I still let us get sucked in. I still managed to get us into 11k in credit card debt on two different credit cards.

My goal in this blog is to create not only accountability for my family and myself but also to keep my head in the game. If I get distracted I know I wont keep up the behavior we need to conquer this. Stay tuned, my next post will be about or mortgage and how we managed to do everything Dave Ramsey says not to do.

Eh, hindsight is 20/20 I guess.