Saturday, January 23, 2016

Live like no one else.

So, if any of you have spent any time around me or over here on the blog, you know that I love me some Dave Ramsey.

He is smart.
He loves Jesus.
He tells it like it is.

You probably remember my post a few weeks back about our goal to become financially fit.  We are still working the Debt Snowball plan and as the weeks have gone on, we have become more and more "gazelle intense" (another Ramsey reference).  

In fact, over the last two weeks, we have worked and reworked the budget.  

We have made choices about what to eat and necessities vs. non-necessities daily.

We have made the decision to sell two of our three vehicles and move to a much cheaper, yet reliable vehicle. (Sidenote: This is a big deal.  We are car people.)

But as Ramsey says...
"Live like no one else now, so you can live like no one else later."

We are eating at home, selling our cars, and trying to find other ways to cut every single spare dollar out of the budget, in order to be "gazelle intense" in our quest for debt freedom.

The current debt snowball says we'll be debt-free (except for the house) by December of 2017.  However, we are REALLY pushing and hoping to move that number up to December of 2016.  

It sounds crazy, but once the snowball gets rolling, it picks up momentum and I know we'll have everything paid off in no time.

If you're thinking at all about financial fitness, I would totally recommend "The Total Money Makeover" and "Financial Peace University" by Dave Ramsey, along with his app and website "Every Dollar".

We can do this!  Jump on board and let's live like no one else!


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

7. Career Goals

It's been a few days and I'm ready to share goal 7 with you, but first let's do some updating on my first six 2016 goals!

1. Reading my Bible every day

I'm doing it.  I'm really doing it!  Having the YouVersion Bible app on my phone has been super-helpful.  I've gone through two full Bible reading plans on entitled "Thankful", written by Joyce Meyer, and one about "Decisions". I'm getting ready to start a new plan tomorrow called "School Days" all about praying for teachers, administrators, and government officials involved in education.  I thought it seemed fitting.

2. Putting family first

I'm still committing to no phone at the table and in the evening times, but I am realizing that sometimes this just isn't feasible when there is work to be done that requires the Internet and you don't have the "actual" internet at home.  Either way, LOTS of progress being made in this area.

3. Getting financially fit

We are on our way to becoming DEBT-FREE.  As Dave Ramsey says, we are becoming "gazelle intense" and "telling every dollar where to go".  We have made some big decisions regarding our financial state and are hoping to be completely debt-free, except for the house with 6 months living expenses in the bank by next year.  NEXT YEAR!  I can't even imagine!  

More specifics on this coming to a post in the near future!

4. Getting healthy

I've lost 9 pounds since January 1st.  Last night I started the Couch to 5K program on the treadmill.  I ran the last 1/4 mile and didn't die, so I'm feeling pretty good!

5. Pursue what sets my soul on fire.

Lots to be said on this front, but let's just say that I am feeling more in-control and more fulfilled than I have in a long time!

6. Inspire others.

Blogging, teaching Sunday school, and planning a women's retreat at Adrian Christian Church for this spring (tentatively set for April 9th, ladies...mark your calendars!).

So there's my update for the first six goals of 2016 and here comes goal number goals.

7. Teach & Shoot for Jesus

Sounds kind of strange, I know.  I just couldn't figure out a better way to phrase it.

Let me explain.

I want Colossians 3:15-17 & 23-24 to be my lifesong.

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.  Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him...Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

When I teach.  

When I take pictures.

Whatever I do...I want to be doing it as a testament to His faithfulness, His wisdom, His love.

I think sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do.

In the midst of paperwork and students that have less than perfect home the midst of lesson plans that don't go as planned and unplanned days off because of sick the midst of LIFE, it is so hard to lose sight of our "why".

In the midst of computers that die, sessions that get canceled, sick kids (resounding theme, perhaps?), insomnia...sometimes it's easy to want to sit down and say, "I can't do it anymore."  

I can't do the day-in and day-out of feeling like I'm not getting anywhere with a certain kid.

I can't deal with the insecurity of not feeling like I've dealt with a specific situation in the best way I can.

I can't keep overbooking myself, even when I say I'm not going to.

I can't do PEOPLE today.

We all have days that we feel like this and these days cause us to ask "why?"

But by golly, there IS a reason.

And that reason is for people to see Jesus in me.

When I'm able to donate a session to a family because photography isn't my sole job.
When I'm able to love on a kiddo who just needs a hug.
When I get called "Mom" 15 times a day because I get to spend more time with these students than their own parents most days.
When a family is able to share memories of a loved one who passed away shortly after our photo session every time they look at the moments we captured.

These are the moments.

This is the why.

And so this year...I'm going to "lean in" to those moments, to those experiences, to that responsibility.

Working for Jesus.

That's it.

I'm not sure when or if I'll become a principal anytime soon.  
I don't know when I'll decide to officially call it quits and close the photography studio.

There will always be questions about the future.

But there are a few things that I know for sure.

Today, I am a third grade teacher.
Today, I own a photography business.

Today and every day, I have the opportunity to be Jesus in the lives of others through both of these avenues.  

Even though I know I'll mess up along the way, Today, I'm gonna go out there and try my hardest.

How can you make a different for the cause of Jesus in YOUR day-to-day life?

Thursday, January 14, 2016



It's not what you think.  :)

Time to share goal number 6!

Quick review of goals 1-5:
1. Reading my Bible every day
2. Putting family first
3. Getting financially fit
4. Getting healthy
5. Pursue what sets my soul on fire.

6. Inspire others.

I really enjoy being able to lead and mentor others.  

I don't think I'm great at it.

I think sometimes I get into this mindset that people don't really need to hear my thoughts about life and then insecurity creeps in.

Lately though, every devotion I've read, every "motivational quote" that has popped up on my newsfeed, and random conversations with friends have all reinforced the truth that satan is the author of lies. 

He will put insecure thoughts and self-doubt into our minds and we will start to feed off of these lies and lose whatever confidence we have in Jesus Christ.

That's why in 2016, I'm going to focus more on mentoring others and not letting those lies about my self-worth creep into my thoughts.


In 2016, I will work to inspire others.  

To mentor new wives, new moms, new teachers, and new Christians.
To minister to the women in our church.
To share my life experiences with others who might benefit from my own mistakes and successes.
To share 

I'm hoping to do this in a few different ways.

1. Start a new book in our Sunday school class.

We started this last week.  I can't wait to see what God does through "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman at Adrian Christian Church.

I have been teaching Sunday school for several years, off an on.  We did a great study on "The Circle Maker" last fall, but the class kind of fizzled because of sick kids and busy schedules.

Not this time.

2. Plan a Women's Retreat

I've said it for the last several years (at least five). 

"We need to have a women's retreat at the church." 

It shouldn't be too long, shouldn't be too short.  It should be on a day when a lot of people can make it.  It should be fun, yet meaningful...relaxing, yet challenging.

This is the year.

A spring women's retreat at ACC is in the works and WE ARE DOING IT THIS YEAR, darn it.

3. Blog

I want to keep challenging myself to write.  I love to write and I feel like as I write, I am putting down onto paper the words written on my heart.

I love to share with others and I love to have a record of what God is doing in me.

So I made a schedule to help me blog at least three times a week.

This is only number two this week, so I'd better get with it...

What are your relational goals for 2016?  How are you challenging yourself to build others up?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

5. Personal Goals for the New Year

I'm starting to realize that the goals I have written down for the various areas of life are all overlapping and intermingling.  I guess that's to be expected.

So far, I've discussed my plans for
1. Reading my Bible every day
2. Putting family first
3. Getting financially fit
4. Getting healthy

Today, I'm talking about my personal goals for 2016.

5. Pursue what sets my soul on fire.


That's really it.

I read this statement (or something similar to it) several months ago and just couldn't get it out of my mind.

This is one of those goals that I wouldn't call "measurable", so I needed to pair it with some sub-goals that will help me to narrow my focus.

In order to set my soul on fire, I plan to:
- Bible journal at least three times a week
- Keep up with our daily routines
- Plan a menu & shop once a month for groceries

1. Bible journal at least three times a week

Last summer, I was journaling in my Bible almost every night.  However, since school has started (five months ago now...), I think I've journaled about three times total.

I love to journal in my Bible, as it feeds a creative need deep in my soul and a spiritual need, as well.  I love being able to spend time with Jesus in His Word at the same time I'm using watercolors and cool pens to make a piece of art.

So this year, I'm going to journal at least three times a week.  I gain inspiration from Brother Matt's sermons, my daily devotional & Bible reading, and just day-to-day interaction with my own children, my students, and my family & friends.

2. Keep up with daily routines

I am happier and more fulfilled when my house is running smoothly.  Without our daily routines (especially in the evenings!), that doesn't happen.  And so, the girls and I have created a routine that we have been doing the last few nights and it has worked like a charm.  Let's hope it continues!

When I get home, I usually have supper in the crockpot.  It's just easier...and it's winter, so soup!

The girls are able to play or do homework until it's time to eat (about 5:30). 

At 6:00, we clean up the table and then they can relax a while longer.  

6:30 -- Family house pickup.  We have been setting the timer for 20-minutes and doing a quick run-through of the house.  It works pretty well!

6:50 -- Girls' room pickup.  10 minutes on the timer and two little girls picking up their bedroom.

7:00 -- We make a run through the baby room and then they get their stuff laid out for the next day.

7:15 -- Baby gets a bath.

7:30 -- Older girls start showers.

8:00 -- Reading in their rooms.

8:30 -- Lights Out!

After lights out, I'm usually switching a load of laundry or editing pictures.

Sticking to this routine has made the last few nights go really well.  Let's hope we're onto something!

3. Plan a menu & shop once a month for groceries.

I used to be a once-a-month-shopper.

It was great.

It was challenging.

You have to be pretty organized for that and you have to be willing to REALLY stick to a budget.  Oh, and you have to be willing to make a LONG grocery trip once a month with three kids.  Or find someone to watch the three kids while you shop.

The struggle is real, people.

I figured since I'm starting my second Whole30 this month, it would be a good time to start.

I made a menu for January that included two weeks worth of meals twice.  I decided to ease myself back into the idea of shopping once a month.

I made my grocery list and headed to the store late one night when Matthew was home to stay with the kids.

$212 later, we should be ready for the month, except for those weekly items like bread & milk.

Having time at the kitchen table each evening with my family sets my soul on fire.

Having a (mostly) clean and organized house sets my soul on fire.

Journaling in my Bible sets my soul on fire.

What are you doing this year to feed your soul?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

3 & 4: Fitness

Time to share about goals 3 & 4 for 2016.

Get Fit.

Financially Fit.
Physically Fit.

3. Get financially fit.

I've been a Dave Ramsey fan forever.  I read his book "The Total Money Makeover" before we got married and I stuck to the Ramsey program.  

Okay.  I somewhat stuck to it.  

Okay, fine.  I took bits and pieces of his program that fit in with my lifestyle and I used those to save a little extra cash.

When we got married, I reread the book. And it wasn't that the hubs wasn't "on board", but he just wasn't that interested.  As long as I made the bills work out each month and we drove newer reliable vehicles, he was happy.

Fast-forward to 2015.

We had been working on our debt snowball a little bit, but not with any intensity to speak of.  In fact, we had all but stopped adding extra money each month and were living paycheck to paycheck.  AGAIN. 

Hindsight's 20/20, right?  

Of course, if we had done it right the first time and purchased vehicles with cash way back when, we wouldn't be in this predicament now.  But we didn't.  So here we are.

So there we were on New Year's Eve at about 11:15, sitting at the kitchen table listening to The Total Money Makeover audiobook.  Yeah, really.  We are THAT cool.  

We decided that 2016 HAS to be the year we get financially fit.  

So we reworked the budget, reworked the debt snowball, and set some financial goals for the next five years.

Would you believe that with the income we have right now, we could be debt free, except for the house and my student loans by the end of 2017?  That's embarrassing.  What have we been DOING with all of that money?

Get financially fit.

Set a budget and stick to it.  Tell our money where to go.  Every single penny.

4. Get physically fit.

I did my first Whole30 in summer 2015.  It was great.  Actually, life-changing.  Since then, my whole thinking about food has changed.

However, little by little, I let those "bad for you" foods sneak back into my diet.  The convenience foods.  The foods that invoke emotional satisfaction.  You know the ones.

And so, in 2016...I'm starting again.

Whole30, Day 1.  Right here, right now.

I just keep thinking about how I'll feel over Spring Break when I feel as great as I did last summer.  Pressing on now!

And yes, I made a Whole30 sticker chart too.  What can I say?  I love stickers.

This is on a scrapbooking card and on the back is a chart that includes my starting weight and starting measurements.  I'll just color in the box for the day of the month when I've made it through that day successfully and then add my fun little silver sparkley star sticker over the colored in box.  #nerdingout

Besides the Whole30, I'm also going to make sure I hit my 10,000 step goal each day in January.

I'll set some new goals in February.  One day at a time, one day at a time...

1. Read the Bible every day.
2. Put family first.
3. Get financially fit.
4. Get physically fit.

Do you have any financial or physical goals this year?  Let's work on them together!