What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Monday, January 04, 2010

2010:: FIND JOY



The snow glows blue in the darkness of early morn and the winds howl as I stoke the burning embers of orange in a box of black. Sparks of flame sputter and jump about then the coals settle once again.

Here I am again, at the beginning of a new day and not only that but of a new year. A fresh start. A clean slate. A second chance. These beginning days of a fresh new year are always spent in contemplation and consideration. It is my tradition, my right and my joy.

Some say resolutions are pishposh-they are simply words and goals easily forgotten or abandoned. They say you ought to work on being better EVERY day throughout the year. Resolutions are at best futile and at worst, a waste of time.

And perhaps these things are true for some. Lists don't do it for some people. Resolutions ARE mere words for some. AND THAT'S OKAY.


But for me, for ME I think the only way to know where you are going is to see where you have been. The only way to know what needs to change is to EVALUATE your life. The greatest way to change your life is to set your self up for success.

I remember as a girl having a poster up in my room that said "If you shoot for the moon but don't succeed, you will still be among the stars"

I would rather aim high and not succeed but make progress than to not aim at all and get nowhere.

Now is about the time when I open my eyes to how far I've come on my journey and humbly recognize how very far I still need to go. I draw my roadmap for the coming year~outlining all those areas that I ought to visit, for how can we get to where we need to be without a plan? I write my lists of provisions (after all, a long journey requires some preparation for success), lists that will help me to succeed and make the path more tolerable. Every single day I make lists to try and accomplish all that needs accomplishing so it naturally follows that lists for a new year help to guide and spur me on in the right direction. And they do.

This time last year, I shared my goals, which could be focused into three main areas.

In no particular order:
1# Reading and study. 2#Finances 3# Pantry.

Thanks to my road maps, I think I succeeded in all my goals.

1# I kept a log of all of my reading this year. Something I have never done before but something I found very helpful to look back on (and to look forward to!) I would add books as I heard of them to the "Reading Hopeful's list" and then try to borrow them interlibrary loan as I was able. It worked out splendidly because there was never a not-knowing-what-to-read-next syndrome. Here is the completed list.

I also listened often to sermons and conference lectures and studied vast and varied subjects whenever I could. I found Evolution to be a major studying point this year and found Ken Ham's works to be incredibly insightful. I also really enjoyed the debate between Christopher Hitchens and Doug Wilson: Is Christianity Good for the World? I can't wait to see the DVD. I am very bad at debating myself but do very much enjoy listening to talented debaters.

I will be starting up a new book list for this coming year because I felt it was incredibly worthwhile. And any recommendations would be greatly appreciated! ;-)

2# I am extremely proud of this one!! We are a one-income family and most people would raise eyebrows at how much (or little, as it were) that income is. I was doubtful we could make very big of an impact on our financial situation in one year...but we did (I think)! After reading several of Dave Ramsey's books, I started the year with a zero-based budget and implemented the envelope system. It was challenging and fun at the same time. I actually felt like we had MORE money to spend, not less, because I was holding a set amount of money in my envelopes all the time. We paid off over $8,000.00 paying OFF our credit card, paying for a speeding ticket (tsk, tsk Mattie!! hehe), finishing up some old hospital bills and adding more payments to our carloan. The credit card balance was zero in June and hasn't been used since. And won't. But this is not all! We were also able to save/invest about $4,000!!!!! The success stories in Dave Ramsey's book are jaw-dropping incredible and compared to them, our little story seems inconsequential but to us it is huge! Sometimes I would get discouraged about how long it has taken us to implement such an EASY plan and how far we would be had we learned to budget and use cash-only from the very beginning. But I thank God for opening our eyes and giving us a vision and the means to accomplish it. And I thank Matt for working so tirelessly each day/week.month/year to support our family and help us thrive. And for wearing glasses for an entire year while I used his contacts money for other things. Love you Mattie! :-)

#3: Not only did we pay off all that money and save/invest a hefty sum (for us) but we did so while devoting a goodly portion of money to creating and stocking a pantry. Matt and I are comfortable with the amount of food we have stored (the garden helped immensely too!) and are pleased with our progress, though we still have a way to go. I can't tell you how nice it is to have extra food set aside for suprise visits, last-minute company or cheap-grocery-budget weeks. Or huge snowstorms. It is incredible how much stress has been relieved-and I didn't even know I was stressed! I have stored water in the basement with old laundry detergent containers and drinking containers for washing up and drinking when the electricity is out and let me tell you: that has come in handy more than once already! I enjoyed learning about dehydration and hope to implement that knowledge even more this coming year. It is pretty cool.

So it seems, 2009 was a successful year for us in the reaching of our goals.



Here are a few hopefuls for the coming year:

~Eating breakfast every morning (I feed everyone else and don't myself.) ~Creating yearly/monthly schooling calendar and plans. I am a list person-so why haven't I been doing that for schooling?! ~Eating more beans and rice ~try to teach myself piano ~practice knitting ~Save up money to buy a macro lens and to get the timing fixed in the sewing machine. ~Expand my herb garden to accomodate homemade tea blends ~Pay off the car loan ~Begin saving for a downpayment for a house and land. (And continue to be self-disciplined enough for a cash-only money system. And to continue to keep a steady and reliable zero-based budget.) ~Family Read-Alouds ~More memorization for children (and myself)
These are all my superficial goals.

Looking back on this past year, though, not everything is commendable. In fact, there is a rather lot to be ashamed of. There has been much fear and despair in 2009. Seeing our own liberties being taken away from us, watching the government usurp authority and make very poor choices, watching as jobs are lost and businesses shut down--my soul has been wracked with it.

Also this year our dreams of home, land and homestead here in this place were shattered when the owners backed out of a deal to let us buy the place and told us they wanted, instead, to save this place for their son. AFTER we moved here. AFTER we cleaned out barns and planted gardens. Thankfully, it was right BEFORE we planned to plant the orchard. I have struggled terribly with bitterness and resentfulness. The fact that this was a Christian family hurt the most.

Fear = not enough trust. And bitterness and resentment is never commendable, no matter the circumstances.

All this to say:

This year a huge goal for me is to take whatever happens in my life with a smile. Be thankful always, in all circumstances. And recognize the gifts God gives for what they are. Remember Who is in charge.

If I could sum it up in a motto it would be FIND JOY.

And if that motto needed a KEY reference, it would be this:

Psalm 146

Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul.

While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:

Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:

Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners:

The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous:

The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.

The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD.

Might my eyes be open to the great joy of each day, of a Maker who cares, of truth kept, of Hope in this year of our Lord 2010.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The first moment of the new year as the clock struck midnight~I didn't need my eyes open to find great joy.

The first kiss of the new year.

And there was GREAT joy.

13 comments:

Grandma Bibby said...

I commend you for a job well done and thank you for the inspiration.

Bonnie said...

Poop. I am really sorry about the whole house bit. That totally stinks. I mean really. I could cry for you right now. (Wanna come live out by me?!?!)
BUT. I am so glad for you for all your hard work and paying off debts, etc. Little success story my foot, any time people are able to get themselves clear of debt, and lay aside money is a HUGE success story in my opinion.

Well, yet again, it is obvious we are cut from the same cloth: I need to eat breakfast, though at the moment, it's not the most pleasant of thoughts, I am trying to create a school schedule (let me know what you come up with), eating more rice and bean meals, and just yesterday morning, I was thinking about making my own tea's. (the fact that I RARELY drink tea aside...), getting back to reading to the children in the evenings, and finding a good Bible memory system.
Also on my list are sewing through my stash (watch for some creative combinations), cleaning the basement, and working out a home-keeping system and having it DOWN by the time baby comes.
Yowza, I'll stop now, I have children to teach, Praying for your dreams my friend, and Godly wisdom and counsel (council?).
Love,
Bonnie

...they call me mommy... said...

What a great post, Rebecca! Thank you for sharing...and I pray that the Lord will provide a home to call your own!!

HAPPY 20-10!

Again, I have a post brewing that is similar...about my word or should I say PHRASE for the year! :)

Lots of love!
Amy

Anonymous said...

Oh Rebecca! You inspire me so :)
Thank you as always for the wonderful posts. :D

Jess ~

Wendy said...

I just wrote a list of goals myself...not all of them --just a few:) You know...I taught myself to play piano and I have a trick that I can show you when we are able to get together...you will be playing in no time!

That really stinks about the house! So sad for you...but glad that God has something in mind :)

I love ken Ham too! We need to get together...too many things to chat about!

Devildogwife said...

I'm truly sorry to hear of the house - very frustrating. Maybe the Lord has something even better in store for you?

Congrats on achieving so much financially. That's wonderful! I'm slowly restocking our pantry and freezer. It's a slow process. I have to try take comfort in knowing that we blessed others with goods before our move.

I guess you could say that I set my goals in increments. I don't do everything at New Years. We all just need to do what works best for us and our family. :)

Father's Grace Ministries said...

My heart went out to you with the news about your home. We suddenly lost our first rental on 70 acres after believing we were secure for at least 5 years, when the landlord got stuck financially and then rang us, and asked us would we vacate in a month! After living in a horrible shoebox for the next year, God opened the door for us to move back to the area we loved, with a better house, cheaper rent , ocean views, and an endless lease (God willing of course!).
I pray God grants you the grace to forgive. Don't let bitterness rob you of the joys you have that your landlord CAN'T take away- MAtt and the children, your personal property and most importantly SALVATION!

When God allows one door to close, another will open. I believe He has something BETTER for the Newmans, and I can't wait to hear what HE does.
Bless you
Claire

Riahli said...

Wow, great post. I am so inspired by what you did financially! We are sooooo in debt and it feels horrible. I have wanted to figure out a way for use to breath and I feel as if I should learn from you! I have not read any of Dave Ramsey's books, I'm going to have to start!! I will be sharing this post with my husband, because it's amazing what you guys did in one year...truly amazing!

So sorry about the house, the same sort of thing happened to us before we bought this house. I was so upset, I didn't want to move, but in the end it all worked out...as I am sure it will for you. I couldn't see the good in it while I was tearing out my beautiful gardens, and digging up my fruit trees but it's good to know that God always has a bigger plan for us then we could ever imagine! :)

Peggy said...

Dear Rebecca,

You have no idea what a blessing this post has been to me! I understand completely about bitterness... it has been a struggle of my own off and on over the years. For much of my adult life my prayer has been to not become bitter like so many in my family!

I am so sorry about the house but am thankful that you are now at a place where you can share with others!

Isn't it wonderful how God gives us just what we need when we need it. Like the scripture you posted! It truly blessed my heart and I know exactly who I will share it with!!

(You will find a very belated resolutions list, like in February, because of the move!) The packers will be here in a week so we will be deciding what to take with us in the small enclosed trailer... At present I am looking for homes for our lovely plants (a gift from the husband of a friend who passed away 18 months) and using up what food we can, canning/dehydrating what food will preserve and giving away what remains!

My prayer for you is that you will continue to let the Lord lead you and you will continue to grow in Him, my friend! I am blessed to call you friend!! (Umm, by the way I hear you still have friends in Indiana... now you will have more!)

Kathy said...

Rebecca,

This was a truly wonderous and inspiring post! What blessins: the discipline you and Mattie modeled in paying down that much debt, and then saving such so much! the newfound discipline of your reading list ;) and the blessings you share with us each end every day...

I am sure the house was a bitter pill, and I commend you for trying to focus on the positive. People have often told me I am not in touch with reality when I am actually busy forcing myself to see positives! I am sure 2010 will bring more wonders your way... - Kathy

Leah said...

Rebecca,

I've been anticipating this post! Reading about your goals for the new year is always an inspiration to me!

It sounds like you had a wonderfully successful 2009! We were also able to pay off the last of our credit card debt. It felt so wonderfully freeing! And like you, we have not and will not ever use a credit card again!

I can't wait to look through your reading list from last year. And I look forward to seeing what you add to this year's list.

I haven't forgotten that I owe you a letter. I hope to get one out to you very soon!

I'll be praying for you throughout this year that you will find joy in everything that God gives you to do.

How I wish we still lived close by so we could sit down over some tea for a nice long chat. I miss you greatly. (((HUGS)))

Nanci said...

This is one of my favorite Psalms from the Psalter. Although I am far from having it all memorized, many times over the past year the sections I do know have popped into my thoughts along with the tune and have been a great solace to me. How grateful we can be that our great God sustains us and encourages when no man (no matter how great that many may be in the sight of the world) can.

May the Lord be praised for your progress in the past year and may He grant your heart's desires in 2010.

The "Z" family said...

Dear Rebecca,

I was so enjoying this post and rejoicing with you in your successes, then got to the part about your housing situation. Isn't that the same thing that happened to you here in PA? My heart broke for you. I know it's disheartening, but I have to believe that He has something more beautiful in store for you.

You are an inspiration to me and a true example of a Proverbs 31 woman.

Would you mind emailing me your mailing address? There is something I'd like to send you.

Blessings,
Kris Zerby
zerby6@hotmail.com