Monday, April 14, 2014

Faithful with the Small Things

Ok money. I don't really like talking about money issues -- because its personal, touchy, and things can get awkward. But it's something we all have to deal with. So these are my thoughts on the subject lately...

I'm a saver. I've saved (aka hoarder) practically every penny since the day I was born. Sure I have my spendey moments, but often feel guilty, return things or vow not to buy anything ever again. I am the a budget Nazi. If it looks like we're going to be over on the grocery budget if I get more food I will make due with rice and beans and whatever else is in the pantry until the next month.

We are lucky (note I'm not saying blessed, I hate the connotation of blessing and financial prosperity) to be in a good place financially. Our parents helped us both to pay for college and only have the tiniest bit of student loans which are not collecting interest since I'm in grad school. That's huge. And we both found jobs right out of college. And Jordan is an engineer, so that helps.

I wouldn't say we're super extravagant with our money. We save and invest and give.... But there's still lot left over. We have a nice house. And nice cars. And can take nice trips...and we're only two years out of college. And honestly, sometimes I feel guilty...about having more than people we know. Sometimes I even feel judged (or maybe it's a guilty conscience) -- that we are spending too much or not giving enough or not saving enough. And maybe that is true....

The weird thing I've noticed about money though is that whether I've had a little or a can really become enslaving. I can feel bound by my frugal tendencies --  always over-analyzing every purchase, every dinner out, every bill. Or bound by the need to keep up with Joneses -- always wanting the next new thing. Or even bound by the struggle between the two.

I've noticed too that my need to save money is often motivated by a need for security, or even pride. I don't want to ever have to be in need or to ask someone else to help us out or look irresponsible.

I guess with money, there's something to be said about balance. About trusting God but being responsible at the same time. Balance in giving and spending and saving. About listening to the voice of God for wisdom in when to take a risky leap of faith and when to be faithful in saving and giving.

I don't have this money thing figured out. And I probably never will. But praying that I can be faithful in the small things. Because all I have is not my own. It is ultimately God's, a gift to steward and to enjoy and to give freely.

What has God taught you about finances and stewardship? Words of wisdom are always appreciated :)

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Processing: Decisions

I've been hesitant to post this article. Maybe because it's honest. And I'm a little afraid of being judged. But this is my heart and my thoughts. And for me this blog has been about being real about my struggles and joys. So yeah, here it is...I'm going for it. Because I know that I'm not alone in thinking about these things and I hope that it will be encouraging to someone :)

Decision making. Since entering my "adult" life (wait, I'm an adult?), I think that decision making has become one of the hardest things. Sure, the years before/after college are big -- choosing a college, major, spouse, career... But in some ways those choices were easier for me. The answer always felt clear, like I was compelled to move in one direction or another.

But these days, things are more complicated. I'm more conflicted.

For example, having kids. On one hand I think I would love to have a kid right now. I think it would be so fun,  different, challenging and meaningful. Plus, it's hard when in the last year, the couple friends who we would hang out with all decided to have a baby at the same time (seriously! like 3 pregnancy announcements from 3 close friends within a 1.5 month span.) They all have babies now...and that kind of leads me to the next paragraph.

Parenthood freaks me out -- the days of grad school, newlywed life, and our unchaotic little life would be over. Like really over. Forever. And really I'm not ready to give those things up. I love doing my research every day. I love spending nights watching TV snuggled up to my best friend, taking long walks on the weekends, working on fun little house projects, traveling and seeing the world, game nights with our couple friends. I love grad school and doing something I love that feels important.

And honestly, if grad school left the picture -- a lot of other things I love too would leave. Our first little home here in Bloomington, the church we've really begun to feel connected to, the friends and relationships we've made here. Without grad school, we're leaving...because there's no reason for us to be here.

So for now, I'm here. I want to make a good decision, but I want to make that decision when the time is right. So maybe patience. And remembering why I am here. Being intentional with the relationships I have. And being more intentional about sharing my faith!! (more to come on that in another post).

So decisions now are hard. It's good vs. good. It's now vs later. It's go vs. wait.

Processing is good.

Disclaimer: Sometimes I worry that someone I work with is reading this blog. And that they will be worried that I'm going to jet out of grad school at any moment. But that's just not the case. I plan on finishing my Ph.D. and if for whatever reason I decide to leave early, it will not be without much talking with my advisors and giving everyone plenty of warning. In reality that chance is very small. I just like processing how I make decisions and think about some of the important questions in my life.

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Make People Feel Like People.

I'll be the first to admit that I struggle with putting myself out there in terms of friends and relationships. I fear rejection or I just don't put forth the effort to be intentional in my relationships.

Sometimes it leads to isolation and other times (and maybe even worse ) shallow relationships -- small talk and putting on your best face, pretending to have it all together.

As Christians, it is our responsibility to put ourselves out there to build relationships, both with Christians and non-Christians alike. It means taking risks and being intentional.

It is our responsibility to make people feel like people. To make people feel loved and important and valuable. It means being vulnerable and going beyond surface-deep conversations. It means being the ear to listen and the hand to help.

I want that. I want people to feel like people. I want to see people as Christ does.

I'm working on it. But it's hard. But I want to do it. I really really want to do it.

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