30 October 2013

Less Judgement, More Acceptance - My Analysis

I began this "31 Days of Less and More" just 8 short days ago because I wanted to figure out why I keep circling back around to certain stumbling blocks in my life. 2013 has been dubbed as "My Year" for self-improvement. It's been an incredible journey but I realize I haven't accomplished all the areas I thought I would have tackled by now. A friend asked me to join her in this challenge and I decided to join her as I wrap up 2013 with a bang.

I've never considered myself to be a judgemental person. I thought today's blog focus would be fairly easy.  

             Boy, was I wrong.

It's easy to trick ourselves into thinking we have certain areas under control in our lives. Fact of the matter is, we don't! Sure, pat yourself on the back that you've succeeded in not getting that mocha frappacino every morning or make it to bed by 10 pm at least 4 nights out of the week; but, have we really changed our personal nature? I hope we have all collectively improved from 5, 10, 20 years ago...but we are not at a point of completion. We deceive ourselves.

Last night, my husband and I had one of our epic, knock-down, drag-out fights that you'd probably pop some popcorn and pull up a chair to watch. I was self-righteous and perfect in my thinking and my husband was not getting it. What's wrong with him? At least, that was my story and I was sticking to it! Until...

Until a dear friend whom I knew would be the right person to confide in and respond with a loving and productive answer, reminded me of where I am in the grand plan of life. I am not that awesome. Wow, ok. She challenged me to not keep score and go home to apologize anyway. I did as she said. I knew she'd check to see if I followed through with her advice.

I came home. I apologized. I went to sleep.

Fast forward to this morning: I sat at work at my desk awaiting the tardy tech to arrive for our appointment. I remembered the challenge despite how physically and emotionally exhausted I felt.

"Oh great", I thought as I read today's challenge was on judgement and acceptance. "God, do we have to do this now?" Ok. I'll listen. I read the blog and realized I had been judging my husband all this time. Who am I to judge him and how he is or is not leading our family spiritually, practically or relationally? Did God himself ordain me?

My girlfriend's reminder to me came flooding back to my memory.

My ego has been knocked down a few pegs today. That's ok. God is going to prune me even more in these final months of the year. I can't produce more fruit without being pruned.

My husband and I had a rare lunch date today and spent time admitting our faults and realizing we did, in fact, improve from how we would have handled the same situation even a year ago. We accepted where we are at and agreed to do even better next time.

17 October 2013

90 Days

If you were given insight into the future that in 90 days there would be a need to stockpile food, water, finances, etc, would you? What if God talked to you the way He talked with Noah thousands of years ago? Noah was ridiculed and mocked by others who saw no rain in sight. Would you be one who carefully planned and prepared? Or, would you be in denial until the "doom" actually occurred and begging for mercy?

Consider the story of Joseph from Old Testament: You may recall the stories of how his brothers sold him into slavery but do you remember his vivid dreams? He foresaw the need to stock up during an abundant season because a season of famine appeared in his dreams. He dutifully had the farmers pile a portion of the grain harvest in a storehouse. Eventually, the famine occurred and many came from distant lands to receive a portion. If Joseph hadn't heeded the prophesy, thousands would have starved. We shouldn't hope that one out of thousands or millions will store up enough for everyone else in tough times. We should learn to save up a little for our own families. I'm not saying you should hoard for your own family. There is a difference.

Many people chalk "Doomsday Preppers" up to nothing more than scared fanatics. Perhaps there is a middle ground between stocking a bunker underground and doing nothing until it's too late. I've followed various blogs, posts and pins about how to prepare for natural disasters or other catastrophes. While I've procrastinated to put almost any of it in motion, I have considered much of it as smart planning. We know natural disasters will occur. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. Let's not even consider political upheaval or anarchy. Car accidents and snow storms are bound to happen. Why do we wait?

I remember living in Europe years ago, we were encouraged to keep blankets, nonperishable food and water in our vehicles because you never knew when your adventures on the autobahn would come to a screeching halt in a "stau". I was fortunate it didn't happen to us but I knew many who did sit in them for hours. Some prepared and were okay but others took their chances and regretted their poor decision. Since coming back to the States, we haven't kept our cars stocked. We quickly forgot the possibility of a traffic lockup on a highway.

Just a week ago, my husband was in a bad accident that rendered his vehicle useless. (He was physically fine.) The insurance found him at fault so we won't receive money to replace his vehicle.  The average American would run to the bank and get a loan out for $15,000-$30,000. Thankfully, we had a small, but sizeable-enough-to-buy-a-"beater", savings fund because of the uncertainty of my paycheck due to the government shutdown. Now, we are able to search for a replacement vehicle to pay for... in cash!

We no longer believe in holding debt or using it as a back-up plan. Had it not been for that savings, we would be just a tad bit more stressed. We realized years ago that by having debt, we were not holding our faith in God during situations and it was robbing us of money we could be saving from the interest charges. This was certainly a test in what we would do if push came to shove and I have to say we passed this test. It is doable.

So back to the original thought, 90 days. While I'm thankful that many of my furloughed friends have been able to return to work today, Congress has only patched the hole in the boat that is sinking. It's just more "continuing resolution. Consider it a reprieve. Consider it the tremor before an earthquake or a dry run in an emergency evacuation plan. Manyof my fellow coworkers really didn't think the shutdown would occur. They thought that Congress would all agree in the eleventh hour. That wasn't the case.

You may call it gut instinct but I consider it God's way of nudging me. I had told my husband last month that I really thought this shutdown had to occur. We had begun preparing what we could in that short time to brace ourselves. We had just recovered from the furloughs of this summer. What we didn't anticipate was the car accident. I'm thankful we had taken the time to go into "emergency mode".

I encourage everyone to begin saving money. Don't spend your entire paycheck now. Save some for later. Invest in retirement. Do not rely on the government to supply your needs. Rely on God to direct your path and show you where to place your money. Faith without action is just hope.

16 October 2013

Family Vision

When I first created this blog, I had no real vision or direction for it. Our family certainly didn't have a vision or direction either. Does yours? Probably not.

We have been a part of an amazing group of married couples/families for all of 2013. They have become an extended family to us. It's what many churches call a "life group" but we are fancy and call ours an "iGroup". Yep, we attend a very hip church! You don't have to attend a hip church to create a circle of friends with a similar ideal. True community enhances our family life yet has been long forgotten in our fast-paced society.

Several weeks ago, we began a new weekly session that takes us through how to create a family motto, vision and mission statement. We have these things in our workplace, schools and associations. Why not carry it into our homes? 

Habakkuk 2:2 states, "Write down the vision; write it clearly on tablets so whoever reads it can run to tell others."

I admit, the idea sounded a bit "hokey" at first; but the more we got into it, the more excitement it induced in my family. As my husband and I began writing down our desires for what we'd like our family to be, we kept coming back to the concept of "Be Weird". That reminded me of this blog that I created a few years ago. I have no idea where it'll take me or who it may touch.

As our leaders said last night, whatever you choose as your family's motto, you better be committed. Punky Brewster was my role model as a young child....need I say more?!? I'd say we are pretty committed. Our children love the concept, too. In some ways, we are already weird. I've always danced to the beat of a different drum. Now we are officially weird!