Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Year Goals

I am really excited for 2010. I find writing and saying 2010 very strange. Anyway, I've been reading a really great book called Homeschooling and Loving It: Create Your Best Homeschool Year Ever. The book has given me so many great ideas. One of them was to make a family mission statement. I was going to share the mission statement, but Wyatt thinks our mission statement is too personal to share.

At the book's suggestion, the kids and I also set life goals and semester goals. Ellie has already achieved her first semester goal...only one week into the new year! One of my goals this year is to spend time reading the Bible every day.

Ellie was looking at her Precious Moments Bible in the kitchen on Thursday while I was making lunch. She was looking at the back of it and said, "Mom there's a calendar at the back of my Bible."

I said, "Do you mean a time line? Let me see." So I went over to look and it was a calendar for reading the Bible in a year.

I explained to her what it was for and she said, "Cool! Can we do it?"

I was so excited because I've been wanting to read the entire Bible for years! I've started two or three times and never finished. So, I said, "Yes!" and told her how I've been wanting to do that very thing for so long.

So, at this point, we were six days behind (because the day was January 7). We had a lot of reading to catch up on. We got all caught up on the New Testament reading, but not on the Old Testament reading. We tried to catch up on the Old Testament reading on Friday, but we still didn't get caught up...then we got behind on our New Testament reading. Ellie was getting discouraged and was thinking maybe we shouldn't try to read through the Bible in a year.

That's when I got a brainstorm! We shouldn't try to read through the whole Bible in a year. I suggested that we just read through the New Testament this year and then we could do the Old Testament next year. Ellie loved the idea and so did I.

So, that's what we're doing, reading the whole New Testament this year. I've never done that either. It's pretty cool to read the whole thing in order. I've always read in bits and pieces that went along with a study, church service, my own just flipping, or looking for verses in a concordance that were on a certain subject.

Ellie and I are also starting a study together, Raising Up Maidens of Virtue. We started last week. I think we're going to make that a weekly study. Now we just need to pick a definite day to work on Maidens of Virtue each week.

My other goal this year is to tie strings with my children. It's an expression from Michael Pearl of No Greater Joy Ministries. Forgive me if I'm not saying that exactly the way he does. The basic principle is to make real connections with your children. I want to spend not only quantity time with Ellie and Wyatt, but quality time. I want to do things they like to do. I've said before, I really do like my kids as people. I enjoy spending time with them. They are smart, creative, thoughtful, caring, and loving. I want to understand the things they like and share those things with them. I want to cultivate our relationship and I want them to know how important they are to me. My start this year has been playing family (in their new playroom with dolls), tea party, and coloring with them.

This sounds as if I am excluding Wyatt from many things. He listens to Ellie and I as we read the Bible out loud. He has also been much more of a man's little man ever since I got sick before Christmas. He avoided me because I was sick, and he didn't want to get sick again. That was really a blessing.

I find myself thinking how strange I feel when Wyatt picks Thomas over me to spend time with or do things with, but I am glad. I know that he needs time with his Daddy and the other men in our extended family. He needs to grow to be a strong Godly protector...and though I would protect him (and Ellie) with my life, I cannot teach him to be a man. I bought Thomas the book Raising a Modern Day Knight for Christmas this year. I look for that to bring my men time together with God.

I looked back at my first post last year, which was one year and one day ago. My goal for 2009 was to slow down and enjoy life and the people in my life. Unfortunately, at that point I was committed to quite a few things that I couldn't (or didn't feel I could) back out of. Slowly but surely, I did slow down.

About that time, Thomas bought me shelves and I went to work renovating our basement...still in progress, but nicely coming along. In painting shelves and the basement, rearranging, reorganizing, etc., I did involve Ellie and Wyatt in some of the things. Some of the projects I excluded them from...and I missed the time and camaraderie with my children.

They are such precious gifts from God. I know however long we have together will be so short. Many may find this strange coming from a homeschooling mom, but I already feel I have missed out on so many opportunities in my children's lives. I have spoken with other mothers about those times that we are physically in the same room with our kids, but not really with them. I think many moms may identify with that. If you can't, then you are amazing and I strive to be more like you.

The most precious gift from God is His Son. This year I want to improve my relationships, I want to connect with the precious gifts God has given me: His Son (Jesus), my husband, my children, my family and friends. To connect with Jesus, I will spend time daily in the Bible. To connect with people, I will make the most of the opportunities God gives me. I will try to be more Christ-like so that I can make the most of those opportunites. To become more Christ-like, I must spend more time with Him...which brings me back to the Bible and prayer. I really love it when things fit togther like that.

Part of our family mission statement that I will share is to dedicate one day each week to Family Time. So far so good. We spent of first offical Family Day of the year together last Friday. We also continue to have Family Reading Time, which we try to do each day. We are still working through the Kingdom Series books; an allegory of the Bible by Chuck Black. We are on the last one. After that, we will start reading the Knights of Arrethtrae again, also by Chuck Black. Our family loves the parallels to the Bible. We enjoy indentifying the stories and lessons.

Well, I think that sums things up for my goals for 2010. Lord willing, I'll be looking back on the page a year from now. Happy New Year!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Dave Ramsey for a Stronger Marriage

Those of you who have read my posts on marriage before are probably a bit puzzled by my title, but I am totally serious. There have been a lot of great books and people who have made a positive impact on our marriage. Recently Dave Ramsey has made a great difference in our relationship.

When our church held a Financial Peace University a while back, I was familiar with the name Dave Ramsey, but Thomas had no idea who he was. Thomas had taken a Crown Financial class at our church a few years before that, so he didn't have any interest in FPU classes. I was curious, but when I found out the kit you had to buy to take the class was $100, I thought that was crazy. I was thinking, "Who has $100 to spend on that kit if you are really in need of a class on finances?". I just thought it was kind of ridiculous. I don't think the classes were really well advertised at that time, or maybe it just wasn't the right time for us to take them.

So, Fall 2009, the kids started going to AWANA classes at Ellie's best friend's church. While the kids were in class, and I was at my part-time job, Thomas was invited to sit in on a Financial Peace class at the AWANA Church (as we call it). We had attended Dave Ramsey's Town Hall for Hope, and Thomas liked what he said. So, at this point, Thomas was interested and wanted me to check it out, too, but I had no way to do that since I was at work. We asked our church about borrowing the dvds. At the same time they were offering for sale two leftover kits from the class at our church (long since done and people graduated). We weren't sure if we wanted to purchase the kit (still $100), but after viewing the videos, decided that we should purchase the kit and implement what we were learning.

Now, I should give you all a bit of a background on what we brought to our marriage in the financial arena. Thomas and I came from two very different backgrounds. My parents were savers (they bought their first car together as a married couple with cash) and didn't even have credit cards most of my growing up years. Thomas came from a family who relied on credit for emergency's and large purchases. I got my first credit card in college and only used it to "build my credit score" (which I now know is a load of hooey); I only used the card when I had the money to pay the bill in full. I pulled an Eve and encouraged Thomas to get his first credit card for the same reason.

Well, we did well during college and didn't bring a load of credit card debt to our marriage, but the only thing we really agreed about money before we were married is that we would share our money and we would share the bookkeeping and bill paying. I only wish we'd known then what we know now. We didn't really save money, though we didn't spend like crazy, we spent much of what we made. I am certian we could have done better at saving more money when we were first married if we were taught the principles (Godly principles) about how to handle our money that we have learned from Dave Ramsey.

So, through the last decade of marriage, we have went through many stages. At first, we shared our money and bill paying as we had earlier agreed. Only, we had both kept our own check book before and had different ways of doing things. We drove each other crazy. We also went through a stage where we didn't agree with the way the other was spending money. That led us to separate accounts and separate responsibilites for our money. That worked well for a while, but I think we still both felt that the other was not necessarily spending the way we thought he/she should be. The last year or so, we had been working together more to bring each other in on what we were spending money on. This was nice, because I do believe there was a bit of a wedge between us that money was leaving there.

Going through FPU has pulled that wedge away. We still have two accounts, but we have equal access to the accounts. We sit down and budget together. He no longer worries that I am spending on things I shouldn't be spending on, and I realize he doesn't spend as much on things I thought he was spending too much on either. I have a huge weight lifted off my shoulders knowing where the money is going. We finally have an emergency fund! That is a relief, too.

The kids sat in on our private FPU class and everyone quotes Dave Ramsey. Wyatt reminds Daddy that "The man is supposed to make the woman feel comfortable" (by saving, budgeting, and more)...especially if he feels Mommy is not feeling comfortable. Ellie likes to say "Gazelle Intense!". The kids are saving money and learning how to handle their money the way we wish we had learned when we were their age. We got the kids FPU JR. for Christmas and look for them to have a lifetime of wise handling their finances.

Our Pastor asked us to consider leading an FPU class at our church. The lessons have made such a positive impact on our marriage and family. Well, we prayed and discussed and decided we wanted to share what we learned with others. We will begin leading classes next month.

In the classes, Dave Ramsey quotes research that the #1 reason for problems in a marriage is money problems, money fights. I can't even explain how much closer Thomas and I have become in agreeing on our finances. I thought Created to Be His Help Meet and our Fireproof Couples Study made such a huge difference in bringing us closer, but Dave Ramsey's FPU has even surpassed those! Having a strong marriage means security for our children. Secure children means a stronger and happier family. It's all good. As Dave Ramsey says, "We're changing our family tree."

"... the borrower is slave to the lender." Proverbs 22:7

Looking forward to FREEDOM!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Long Winter

How appropriate that the Living Books for the Ears (Homeschool Radio Shows) Freebie for this week, and the Homeschool Freebie of the Day for today is a 1950's audio drama from Hallmark of Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter! Bonus shows include The Blizzard of 1888 and Sgt. Preston of the Yukon. Very appropriate for this time of year, especially in our neck of the woods. Great listening for the entire family!

Monday, January 4, 2010

White Christmas and After

I have been saying this is going to be The Long Winter (like Laura Ingalls Wilder's book). The continuous falling of snow and below freezing temperatures are clinching my forecast for me. Above are some pictures of the snow and drifts from the day after Christmas. We have had too many mild winters her in the mid-west. We are totally due a cold, long winter. I am so thankful for a nice warm house...even in that, I'm more comfortable wearing layers! The kids were excited about the snow. Wyatt even "plowed" a trail through the yard with a shovel! But it's just so cold, no one wants to stay outside for long.