Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Books


It is hard to find good books to read that I have not already read.  I did not realize how hard until I asked the question on Facebook one day, "Anyone have a favorite book?  Prefer Christian and prefer NOT romance novels".

Every single book that was suggested was one I had already read. 

I have since found the Christy Awards website  (although the Wikipedia page can be less cluttered and confusing in my opinion).

I have also discovered  the Novel Crossings page which lists award winners from several different awards.

Both of these have been helpful and both have led me to some authors I would never have stumbled across otherwise.

One of my new favorite authors is Chris Fabry.  I started with his book June Bug, about a little girl traveling with her father who finds herself on the Walmart wall of missing children.  It is the second of a trilogy, but I read this one first and had no trouble figuring out the different characters.  Mr. Fabry gives credit to Les Mis and I can see some influence there, but it is a unique and charming story on its own.  Perhaps I like it so much because it ends in the Appalachian Mountains.  Perhaps it is just because Mr. Fabry is an excellent story-teller.  Likely it is a combination of both.

I have read all three of his Dogwood stories, and Every Waking Moment.  Now that was a story with which I connected.  I enjoy the way the plot unfolds.  There are a few twists and turns along the way, but that is not overdone.  The characters are nicely developed. Check out the link above for an in-depth review.

It looks like this weekend will be a good one to curl up on the porch with a cup of coffee and a good book.  I hope you find these suggestions helpful!



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Few Last Views

Here are a few last looks at the fall view around the homestead.


 






I have a fun project coming.  Stay tuned!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday Memories: The Beast

Many years ago my doctor informed me that it was time to start using a wheelchair.  That was a difficult thing for this independent red-head to hear.  I went home and called the wheelchair rental company and within a few hours a man was at my door with a wheelchair.  Oh joy!

That weekend, Mr. Marvelous and I had to go to Nashville.  Mr. Marvelous ~ being the marvelous husband that he is! ~ took me to the Opryland Mall for an outing.  I was surprised that we were able to have fun, not "in spite of" but "because of" the wheelchair.  I was able to explore and enjoy the whole mall instead of sitting on the benches by the front door because I was worn out from the walk from the car.  Mr Marvelous did some interesting race maneuvers.  Yes, I squealed!  We decided to name the chair and it became The Beast.

I realized some things on that trip.  I realized that people were watching me.  Some surreptitiously, others a little more openly.  I realized that I had a very important choice to make.  I could choose to focus on myself and be consumed with being miserable, angry, depressed and generally unpleasant because things were not the way I wanted them to be.  Or I could choose to focus on God, trust His overwhelming love for me, and pray each day that He would once again give me the grace of peace.

When I choose to focus on God the "stuff" of life becomes less important.  Please understand; this does not mean being fake and pretending everything is fine when it is not.  There are times when I have a genuine smile on my face and a thankful attitude.  There are also times when I am sad, frustrated, hurt or mad.  Yet when I am sad, frustrated, hurt, or mad I am also confident that my loving, gracious Heavenly Father has everything under control.  Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6?  I can trust Him completely to take care of me and to love me. 

I messed up.  A lot.

                                 I still do.  A lot!

The wheelchair is sitting in the basement these days gathering dust.


The feeding pump and walker are down there beside it.


 It is nice to not be dependent on these devices.  I enjoy being able to drive again.  I don't know how long this good season will last.  I do know that whatever my circumstances and however I feel about them, God loves me and He is NOT going to stop taking care of me. 

May His peace fill your home.  And may you have fun!




Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday

Sometimes it is a little hard to find the horizon.


Whether your weekend takes you here...


















...or here.....


     ....or perhaps just someplace like this....                     


















...it is my prayer that wherever you are, God will shine His Light straight into your heart.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.                                                                                                        II Corinthians 13:14


Thursday, October 16, 2014

An Open Letter To Dave Ramsey



Dear Dave,

First of all, thank you very much.  Of all the things I have to say, that is the most important.

For several years (OK, decades if you want to be exact), my husband listened to you and tried to get me on board with your plan.  I resisted.  I did read the book, Total Money Makeover and it just made me angry.  In retrospect, I think it is because your plan was so radically different from my plan which meant that you (and my husband) were not smart enough to realize that my plan was the best plan.

A lot of life happened, including a 50% reduction in income when I had to quit working due to illness, several moves, a job loss, some medical crises, getting out of debt only to get back in again.

On December 5, 2012, I suddenly became sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I went online and found your website and started reading.  I discovered that you were having a Christmas give-away and I thought, “why not?” and registered for it.  It seemed terribly rude to (potentially) accept money from you without listening to you, so I turned on the radio.  Suddenly, everything started making sense.  I heard you ask someone if their plan was working and since it wasn’t, were they willing to give your plan a try?  I almost yelled “YES I AM!”  

When my long-suffering husband came home, I’m sure I made his head spin with my sudden dedication to all things Dave Ramsey.  Bless his heart!

Since we began this journey we have done the following:
  1. Started listening to the radio show
  2. Attended Financial Peace University class ~ one of the best things we have ever done
  3. Learned to view life and choices a little differently
  4. Reset some priorities
  5. Accumulated a baby-step emergency fund
  6. Started doing a monthly budget BEFORE the month started, instead of waiting until after the month was over and saying, “Hmm.  Now where did the money go this month?”
  7. Cut up all the credit cards
  8. Started paying down the debt
  9. Started paying cash for ALL purchases
Some tough stuff has happened along the way, and some good stuff.  But we have learned that it is all a matter of how you look at things.  For instance

  1. We totaled a car.  Bad thing?  Not really.  We took the insurance money, put some of it aside to be able to buy a replacement vehicle (affectionately referred to as Mama’s Little Red(neck) Truck) and used the rest to buy some household necessaries.  After we finished that baby-step emergency fund, that is.
  2. The husband had a work related injury that kept him off work for 6 weeks.  While the income was tax-free, (worker’s comp) it was only 66% of his regular income.  Bad thing?  Not really.  You see, my envelopes were already stuffed for the month.  I knew what things on the budget form could be cut back and they got cut back.  We paid minimum payments on debt and just kept plugging away.  It happened at Christmas time, but that wasn’t a problem.  We had an envelope for that!
  3. The husband got a new job (this was a huge big deal/answer to prayer).  This came with a 20% salary increase, but we suddenly had to buy another car as he would no longer have a company car.  We had been keeping a storm cloud fund for potential knee surgery for him.  The new job dramatically decreased the likelihood that surgery would be needed this year, so we renamed that envelope “Car”.  Through a rather convoluted set of mixed blessings, two different family members each decided to give us a car.  When we told the second one that another family member had given us a car already, the response was, “Great!  Now you both have reliable transportation.  Just use your little unreliable red(neck) truck for hauling stuff”. 
  4. In the course of changing jobs we were not at all sure how the pay schedules were going to work out.  I simply budgeted a month with no income and the storm cloud  car envelope became that months’ budget needs. 
  5. When we did get some payment from both jobs that month, instead of being frustrated on the income decrease for the month (since they were both only partial payments), we rejoiced that even more had been provided for our needs.  Remember?  I had budgeted a “No Income” month.
All of these things are rather new for us, the old us would have just charged up the credit cards and applied for a personal loan, after financing a car loan for a new car.  In addition to that, we have been able to gently advise friends who have asked us financial questions, and share the precepts that we have learned from your class and your daily radio show.

Yup.  Life is rather different for us now.  Easy?  Not really.  We still have debt and it is still going to take us a while to pay it off.  I still get nervous when I think about the fact that we are in our 50’s and have no retirement set aside.  When that happens I remind myself of how God has provided for all our needs over the past 27 years of marriage.  We are working hard now to be more faithful stewards of what He entrusts to us.  We are confident that He is not going to let us down!  We are determined to finish well.  

Thank you!  One of these days we will be calling to schedule our own Debt Free Scream.  Until then, we remain thankful for all you have done for us in the areas of finance, stewardship, and marriage.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Books

George Peabody Library at Johns Hopkins University.  Picture courtesy of Wikimedia

I love books.  I grew up with parents who love books and put a high value on reading.  We were read to, and we were encouraged to read ourselves.  Even when we were old enough to be reading, Mom would still read to us.  Granted 8 years old was a little young for The Lord Of The Rings series (it was years before I could go back to that!), but that was the only one I can remember that was a "Miss" rather than a "Hit".   There was Peter Pan, and The Wizard of Oz, Treasure Island and Tom Sawyer, Christopher Robin, both the stories and the poems, A Wrinkle In Time, Narnia, The Jungle Book and the Just-So Stories, all the E. Nesbitt books, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and the Arthur Ransome sailing books.

I learned that books are friends.  Books can be an escape and a refuge in the tumultuous pre-teen and teen years.  Good books, like good friends, can and should be revisited to renew one's acquaintance ~ even though many of you disagree with me on that point!  When I was in college, one of the reasons I looked forward to breaks was because I could read whatever I wanted instead of whatever the professor wanted.

I am a very eclectic reader.  I still read what is referred to as "Children's books" and I read some of the Russian writers.  I read silly stuff like the Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde (if you like English lit and appreciate sarcasm you might get a kick out of those).  I read Amish fiction but I'm choosy about which authors in that genre (Beverly Lewis and Julie Woodsmall are about the only ones I like).  I like good mysteries; Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey being one of my all-time favorite sleuths.  I like older stuff like Jane Eyre (she gets an annual visit).  I like newer stuff like Chris Fabry, Elizabeth Musser and Lisa Wingate.

And I have gone back to Tolkein and read him almost every year.

A couple of years ago I discovered a three-book series written by Stephen Arterburn and Nancy Rue.  They are known collectively as The Sullivan Crisp novels.  These have become some of my favorite books.  I was not as crazy about the first one but the second one in the series, Healing Waters, is one of my all-time favorite books now.  I suppose one of the reasons I like it so much is because it speaks against the prosperity of body and wallet ministry that is so prevalent in our culture.  It is not a "heavy" book; it is a good story that has a solid theology.  If you are looking for a good read to go with your coffee on these cooler fall days, I would highly recommend it.  You might even find it in your library.  Be warned: you may have trouble putting it down and getting back to housework once you start it!

Here is the link to the book and the author's website. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The View From My Window

I love the look of the ground with its carpet of fall leaves.







There's a big thunderstorm rolling in, so there should be a thicker pile next time.