Living Abundently

At any given time of the day, there could be a million questions going through my mind.  Some of them might be:

*Does this outfit really match?

*What happens if there are more budget cuts at school?

*Am I really giving enough time to school?

*Am I really giving enough time to Adam?

*Am I really giving enough time to God?

*Students loans.  When can I finally pay them off?

*Will we have enough money?

More than likely I will think of the “will we have enough money” question more than once in the day.  With Adam and I both being teachers in the same district that is experiencing budget cuts,  I think about money more than I want to admit.  It’s really quite embarrassing and something I’ve never really admitted out loud to Adam.  We have everything we need.  Food in the pantry, a roof over our heads, two reliable vehicles, and a partner anyone would want on this life and faith journey.

Throughout my faith journey I have been reminded several times of the story of fish and loaves.  John 6:1-14New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”

I was raised by a single mom who worked very hard to provide for me and my older brother.  She was able to provide for me to take dance classes (ballet, tap, jazz, modern) and for me to take private viola lessons.  But there were times when things weren’t so good.  And it was in those times, where my fear of “not having enough” came to be.  Now let me be very clear here:  there is nothing my mom said or did to instill this worry, rather it’s something I internalized myself.  But every time there was a threat of my mom not being able to provide, God did.  I remember my mom recalling a time shortly after my parent’s divorce when she was really concerned how she was going to buy us the basic necessities.  Two growing little ones didn’t stay in the same size for very long.  But just as she thought about this concern, someone from church out of the blue presented my mom with a gift certificate to Dillards.  From the very beginning God has always provided.  Why do I need to keep being reminded?  I guess it’s because I’m human.  And I’m a huge worry-wart.

Another time I remember God providing was just days before I moved into Bethel for my freshman year.  All through high school I had worked a part-time job to help pay for gas and to have a little spending money, but having a part-time job during my first semester at college seemed overwhelming mainly due to not knowing how much time I would need to study to keep up my good grades.  It was a Sunday morning and a very kind gentleman with a huge heart handed me a check.  A large enough check that I wouldn’t have to find a job that first semester.  The Sunday before each semester of my Bethel career, a sizeable check would be quietly handed to me after the church service.  The gratitude I have for this gentleman is deep and someday, I hope I can do the same for another college student.

So, do I still feel provided for as an adult?  Heavens yes!  Time and time again, I have been reminded of the fishes and the loaves with the disciples.  If I were to ever think, hmm, not sure if we’ll be able to do this, God has always shown just how powerful He is.

In the spring of 2010, I was told that, due to budget cuts, I would not have a position at Inman elementary the next school year.  The rest of that spring was spent sending in applications to any school that had an opening.  But I wasn’t worried (for once in my life).  The same afternoon I was let go from Inman Elementary, I was offered and accepted a part-time job at Stone Creek nursery.  This part-time job allowed me the security in case I wasn’t able to find something.

Then in the spring of 2013 I was physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted from our second miscarriage.  The thought of working a part-time job that summer just seemed out of the question.  God had really put it on my heart that I needed to take care of myself.  But I had just resigned my teaching position so I could begin teaching at Moundridge Elementary and wouldn’t be bringing in a paycheck in the two month gap between assignments.  Could we really afford it?  With God’s grace and smart spending on our part, we were.  We even had enough we could put in savings by the end of the summer.

Every time there is doubt, no matter what it is, God consistently and calmly reminds me “everything is going to be alright.”  Just like yesterday, Adam and I were on our way to Hutch for the MCC Sale.  About fifteen miles or so away from Hutch, the gas light came on.  Adam calmly looked over and asked “how many miles can we go with the gas light?”  And I without missing a beat calmly responded “eh, 20 miles.”  Adam here’s another confession for you: I have no idea exactly how many miles we can drive with the gas light on.  I’m sorry.  But I wasn’t worried because I knew we would be taken care of.  And just so you’re aware we were able to get to a Kwik Shop and fill up our very thirsty car.

As a young adult couple, we have a mortgage, insurance, student loan debt, and day-to-day expenses.  And all of this is paid with salaries that haven’t been increased in years.  In fact, we may have to take another pay cut this year to make sure student learning won’t be hurtt any more than it could.  But every time we see the “gas light” come on in regards to our bank account, we feel like we don’t have to worry.  God will always provide.

April is for Aesthetics

Guess what?!  It’s a new month which means it’s time for a new monthly challenge!!  I bet you were wondering if I would remember that it’s a new month…. 🙂

Last month’s challenge was Money March.  Our goal for the month was to take a more serious look at our finances and overall, I think we did a decent job.  We wanted to:

*figure out a way to really manage our debt (read the “debt” being student loans)

The way we have figured out how to manage our student loan debt (ok, ok my student loan debt) is by me starting my very own Mary Kay business. In the first month, things have gone very well and I am very much looking forward to what the future holds with this venture.  When it’s a great product, it makes it an easy sell!  We were also able to do a bit of research and figured out I will be able to have about $5,000 of student loans forgiven at the end of this school year.  Thanks to working at Title 1 schools!  Woo hoo!  Once that $5,000 chunk has been forgiven, we can refinance my loans at a lower interest rate.  Then with the extra money I’m making from Mary Kay, all of that will be going towards the loan payments.

*Set up a living will

With the living will we checked out a site called Legal Zoom, a site recommended by a good friend.  We figured out that it wasn’t so much a Living Will we wanted as much as we wanted a Living Trust.  It feels good knowing we have our meager things are accounted for if anything were to happen to us.

*Establish a food budget

A food budget was not created.  Instead we did a really good job of shopping at Aldi’s and making sure we ate at home.  We also took advantage of deals at Dillon’s using our Dillon’s Plus Card.  We have definitely gone from wanting to make sure we save money to thinking of grocery shopping as a game.  We’re dorks.  🙂

*Inquire about insurance

Unfortunately, I did not get the inquiry of insurance crossed off the list.  This is definitely something we still want to do, if nothing else just to make sure we’re getting the best deal possible for our situation.

So what do we have up our sleeves for this month?

Aesthetics.

Particularly for our yard.  Over the last seven years we have slowly landscaped our yard by updating existing flowerbeds and even adding a few.  But there are still a few things we would like to do to really make it feel nicer.

DSC_0847One way we would like to accomplish this is by clearing out this corner of random crap from over the years.  Some of the metal stuff is from our original window well.  And the concrete is from old fence posts in our yard.  I dug up at least one of those bad boys on my own. #iamwomanhearmeroar

I would love to be able to add a play set or some kind of a sand box to this area, but at this stage in life, just having a cleaned out corner will be amazing!

DSC_0848This flowerbed was added about two years ago this Spring.  I basically wanted to added some color to this area and took about 30 minutes one afternoon from getting home from school until I met Adam at a baseball game.  That was the fastest planting I ever done!  One of the things that we have going for us is that we have weed barrier fabric underneath the mulch.  My goal is to add landscaping brick to make it look more established.

DSC_0851This is a shot of our new window well with the old window well in the back.  Last Winter I was really worried that something, mainly an animal, would fall down in the well and then we would have to worry about getting it out.  Oh, who I am kidding, I would make Adam do it.  He’s so much braver than I!  🙂  So before that could happen, we bought a piece of lattice and laid it over the top.

Then left it.

So, now I would like to stain and seal it and add a bit of support to keep it from sagging in the middle.  And while we are at it, go ahead and add another covering to the other window.

I would have said I also wanted to add a flower bed but Adam, bless his sweet, sweet soul, laid the brick and added mulch a few weeks ago.  It looks fantastic!!!  Now we’re just waiting for the weeds grass to grow back in.

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To help make things look a little nicer, I moved the glider closer to the garden.  The lilac bushes are transplants from near the house.  When we first bought the house in 2008 this lilac bush was in bloom.  Gorgeous, gorgeous blooms.  Since then there wasn’t much to it and both Adam and I just assumed it had run it’s course.  Then when we had the egress window installed, our construction guys literally threw the bush into our tree row where we assumed they died.

NOPE.  They were turning green!  So, we transplanted them to this spot by the garden and have crossed our fingers they’ll thrive.

DSC_0854And, guess what?!  There are a few blooms!!!!

DSC_0856Our beloved chicken coop.  You probably thought I finished it last summer.

Nope.

There are a few pieces of siding that still need to be replaced and I need to paint the trim.

DSC_0859

DSC_0857Then there’s this area.  I probably wouldn’t mind the mess if you couldn’t see it from the road.  E-gads.  I definitely want to get this cleaned up!

So there’s the list for this month!  I’m pretty excited mainly because it gives me something to do outside and maybe (just maybe) I’ll get a tan!

What are you up to this spring?