Saturday, January 30, 2010

Getting Back on the Dream Ship

My wife and I started a popular cd based financial peace class yesterday on our date day (I know…I’m so romantic! “Come on baby; I know it’s not a cruise, but let’s sit on the couch and do a money class together. Look deeply into my eyes and listen to the voice of a humorous financial guru.”) Though we had taken financial classes many years ago, we felt we were in need of a refresher to help dispel the bad habits that had claimed squatters’ rights in the abandoned wreckage of our personal financial principles.

We have definitely become over-consuming, ad susceptible, materialistic squid (you know, lots of grabbing tentacles and no backbone) …funny how the “must haves” of teenage children can weaken your resolve and cause you to make even more unwise financial choices. We felt it was time to go in and try to rescue our money management skills before they sink to a point of salvage only operations.

I recently did one of those life-circle exercises that evaluates several areas of your life like spiritual, family, friends, finances, career, adventure, etc and plots them on a wheel graph (from … I wasn’t too surprised by the results. Based on the ways I have invested the hours, days, and weeks of my life over the last several years there are some areas that couldn’t help but grow, others, however, are like starfish stumps just starting to grow back. The self-study revealed the ways I’ve have become like a flounder, myopically focused only in one general direction, but totally missing anything from other directions. It would explain why we were so easily caught by some medical, house, and vehicle financial snags in the last year.

Even with another 8 hour/wk job, money seems even tighter. Of course we added braces, cheer uniforms, camps, cool clothes, more fuel, car insurance increases and various other pubescent necessities. But it is not like this is some kind of life surprise. (“Well look honey, those little varmints grew up. They are eating everything in sight and outgrowing their clothes every week. How’d that happen?”) We knew this was coming, but the teenage tuna net somehow it snuck up on us anyway and we joined the millions of people being dragged into the cargo hold of the U.S.S Credit Card Debt. (It is one of a huge fleet that promises to finance the dreams of many, but somehow the commodores seem to benefit far more than those on their ships.)

Somehow, just like sedentary barnacles, we have become financially complacent bottom feeders who don’t care that the build up of useless life stuff has slowed the forward progress of our life’s own dream ship, so we thought it would be a good idea to abandon ship and pay someone else a premium to tow us along, but we’re finding out they are not charted for the destination we had hoped. Like Nemo, we hope to swim against the tide and win our freedom.

We’ve prayed about it and have kept giving our tithe, but now we have to work on the self-discipline to make wise choices with the money He entrusts to us.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

If You Were a DVD Remote Button

If you were a DVD remote button what button would you be? I know some people who would definitely be the fast forward button: their lives are fast paced and always busy. They see the world as a blur. Those who are more reflective would be the Reverse button, examining and re-examining frame by frame, looking to find the significance in everything around them. Some people are stuck on Pause; they are always waiting for something to be over, before they start really living again. They say, “After I finish school, I’ll do it,” or after I get married (the kids are grown, when I retire,…) then I’ll do it.” Some people would be the Power button, they want control over everything. My button, I think, would be the PLAY button. I love to have fun. If there is a funner (yes, I know this isn’t a word) way to do things, I want to find it.

Celebrating Progress

What do you do when you wake up angry with yourself for having messed up royally the day before? When you have done things that delay or even reverse noticeable progress?

It happened to me this morning after yesterday’s loss to insecurity and anger issues. The two-headed snake had slithered back into my head from the dark crevasses where it had been hiding. The venom of guilt quickly spread through my mind and even made my body hurt. But the pain, which had been much more common several months ago, seemed to hurt worse now, because the calluses of repeated regret had started to soften some. All I could do was lay awake in paralysis all night while the regret swallowed me whole.

I had been making good progress, because I learned some new Truth that had set me free. Wisdom told me to keep moving forward and acknowledge incremental improvement, but to watch out for attacks when fatigue, isolation, or neglect was prevalent; when stress was higher than usual. However, I was lured in by some of the same old lies and false promises (“go ahead yell and devalue them, that will show them you’re in charge,” and “go ahead, watch that show, the content is not really THAT inappropriate, besides you deserve it.”

It made me feel angry, because I know better, yet I arrogantly and unwisely followed the sucrose laced breadcrumbs down the self-defeating path…again. They tasted sweet for a moment, and then quickly turned bitter just like they always do. They always look like they will taste better than they really do.

I feel better now though, confessing, regaining forward focus, because Truth rescued me again, reminding me that I am more than a conqueror over these sorts of things. Truth and Wisdom reminded me that times of defeat in these areas are much more infrequent now than just a few months ago; that there is measurable progress. They also reminded me of other self-defeating thoughts and behaviors that haven’t reared their ugly heads in years!

They told me to celebrate the progress and move ahead. Celebrating the victories is like anti-venom that revitalizes you from the paralysis of regret and frees you to continue forward.

Philippians 3:12-14 (MSG) 12 I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. 13 Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. 14 I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.

Friday, January 22, 2010

First Blog Post

This is a milestone. The guy who hated to write anything, who ignorantly told his college professor that he would never need a computer, is now blogging? I have enjoyed reading the blogs of others, but now I have my own. The move brings some fear and a sense of adventure. Fear that perhaps this is another one of those initially exciting endeavors that looses its appeal and sits unattended in best-laid-plans-of-mice-and-men limbo for endless time. But it gives a sense of adventure that the quirky love of words part of me will have a means to encourage someone or make them smile, laugh or even maximize someone toward greatness (the True kind of greatness that does good, and helps others and comes from a Divine centeredness).