Monthly Archives

April 2012

Money

Our Total Money Makeover

April 30, 2012

Jonathan and I got married this past October. By November we read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and got pumped up about our finances! We even started listening to his podcasts every single morning while we get ready for the day. We were sick and tired of seeing so much of our paychecks go to student loans! Since we fundraise our entire income, working for FOCUS – Fellowship of Catholic University Students, we take every paycheck seriously. The money we live off of is the hard earned tithe to God from so many generous family and friends we’ve made through working in campus ministry. We owe financial responsibility not only to God and ourselves, but to these people who are donating to us, who desire Jesus Christ to be known in our world. It was time that our money started working for us and not some bank! I can think of a LOT of great ways to give & spend that money I see whisked off to Sallie Mae every month…now it’s time to kick the old woman out of our house!

After going through all the necessary changes from getting hitched – name, driver’s license, SSN, address, etc., we were ready to start our new financial  journey in January. We had around $21,000 in student loans at that point and have been working the baby steps. We got our $1,000 in an emergency fund set aside and then began with gazelle-like-intensity to pay down our debt as soon as possible!!!! We have lived on next to nothing, literally. We chopped up the credit cards and started paying cash for our purchases. Every date night is spent playing board games at home and eating home cooked food. We took a “stay-cation” over Spring Break under our own roof instead of traveling to see family or go on a mission trip. We haven’t bought any clothes or anything non-essential. We’ve eaten beans and rice…a lot.  I’ve been selling things so fast, I wonder if we will have anything left by June! We splurged once, to see The Hunger Games with friends, but it was in the budget 😉

Despite it seeming like we haven’t had much of a  life in some people’s eyes, we are so HAPPY! Living frugally has forced us to come up with new ways to have fun, create a budget and stick to it every single month, to communicate about what we buy and why we value certain things, to dream about all the ways we desire to give and spend our money once we become debt-free, and to have a less distracted life by the fact that we don’t have “stuff” to distract us as often. Thankfully we have amazing and supportive friends who like to do free things together and working for FOCUS provides us with so many exciting adventures with college students built right into our daily lives. So we don’t feel like we miss out on too much since we are surrounded by a great community of joyful people.

So, we’ve got four months under our belts of our gazelle-like intensity and we have seen results!!! As I said earlier, we started out with close to $21,000 in debt. I am excited to say that today, we only have $10,461.09 left on those student loans. Our income fluctuates, but we’ve been paying 50-65% of our income towards debt each month. I don’t share those numbers to toot our own horns and to show how great Jonathan and I are…but to INSPIRE anyone reading this who wants to dump their debt too! If we can do this, anyone can!!! We are set to be debt-free sometime between August and September 2012. We originally thought we would need 12 months to pay it all off but once the ball got rolling, we got more and more excited to see our loans GONE, it truly became a snowball effect.

We aren’t at our final goal yet, but it’s close on the horizon and we are already talking about how to celebrate being debt-free.  We aren’t sure about what we’ll do but we’re certain we’ll be paying cash 🙂 You can bet we’ll be calling Dave to do our “debt-free scream!” Thanks be to God for the ministry of Dave Ramsey and his team of workers. Their hard work is truly paying off in the lives of so many people and we are just one of many. YOU CAN BE NEXT!!!! www.daveramsey.com

Mission

What are We Thankful For?

April 26, 2012

Today, a student and I walked around the quad asking people, “What are you thankful for?” We had them write it down, then we chatted them up. Above is a scan of the pages of my notebook we used today. (Click it to view it larger.)

Here’s the list typed out:

  • success in classes – Mike
  • delight in little things – Jonathan
  • being alive – Neil
  • Health & Family – Megan
  • Neil’s Credibility – Simon
  • MY AWESOME BIG AND AMAZING FRIENDS =] – JAYMARIE
  • My Family moving back to this country – Jessy
  • My family moving to the states – David
  • beautiful weather today – Diana
  • panera chi tea latte – Grace
  • Friendship, family and food! – Sara
  • Love, hope, generousity [sic], pain relief, the source – Nick
  • The ability to be with the people I love, my parents and my family – Mark
  • Family, God, friends! – Marcus Ramóne
  • family, friends, the love of God, the campus ministry I’m a part of, for the opportunity to go to a prestigious school, like the U of I – Grace O. A.

What a wonderful list of things to be thankful for! (or, a list of things for which to be grateful, for those of you with prickly grammar sensitivities out there!)

We’d ask two questions, and encourage one action.

Question 1: What are you thankful for?

Question 2: Who are you going to thank?

Action 1: Thank them! Right now!

It’s hard to give be thankful if we don’t give thanks to anyone! We had people thanking their friends around them, a few people shouting out a quick “Thank you, God,” and we got one guy to call his mom. Their conversation went something like this:

Marcus: Mom, I’m thankful for you. These two guys are walking around campus, asking people what they’re thankful for and getting them to thank people. I want to thank you for being my mom and doing so much for me. I love you.

[a pause to let Mom respond]

Marcus: No, I’m not gonna be on TV! … No, I’m not in trouble. … I don’t need any money! I just wanted to say thanks! OK, thank you, Mom. I love you.

[call ends]

What a phone call! I bet once his mom got over the shock, she was really touched.

It’s important to be grateful and to give thanks. We must remember to pray and give thanks to God, for he has given us so many beautiful things, so many wonderful blessings. We must remember to thank one another, for God usually delivers those blessings through those around us. We are surrounded by so much love!

Now it’s your turn!

What are you thankful for?

Who can you thank for that?

Well, what are you waiting for? Thank them! Do it now!

Uncategorized

I Will Possess Your Heart

April 12, 2012

I’m working on a talk about prayer for our New Student Leaders’ Retreat this weekend, and this song came to mind. I wrote a post about it a while ago for my old, now-defunct blog. I thought it’d be great to re-post here at truegoodandbeautiful.

I Will Possess Your Heart, one of the singles from Death Cab for Cutie’s album, Narrow Stairs, is a wonderful song. One of the new things I’ve done in my Bible studies over the years is listening to non-spiritual songs in a spiritual way. Looking for a holy message among everyday things. A lot of songs can be listened to as if it’s God speaking to us, or us speaking to God. It’s a wonderful exercise to go through as it helps us look for God everywhere. Love songs are pretty easy to use because our human love is but only a pale reflection of God perfect love. And guess where I found Him. That’s right. In this song! (It’s about love!) Here’s the video, along with the lyrics and a short discussion. Please be sure to add your two cents in the comments!

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsCV61zsdtA

Lyrics

How I wish you could see the potential
The potential of you and me
It’s like a book elegantly bound, but
In a language that you can’t read just yet

Chorus
You got to spend some time, love
You got to spend some time with me
And I know that you’ll find, love
I will possess your heart
You got to spend some time, love
You got to spend some time with me
And I know that you’ll find, love
I will possess your heart

There are days when, outside your window
I see my reflection as I slowly pass
And I long for this mirrored perspective
When we’ll be lovers, lovers at last

Chorus

You reject my advances and desperate pleas
I won’t let you let me down so easily
So easily

Longer chorus with last line repeating three times

Discussion

I find it interesting to listen to this song as if God is singing it to us at those times when we turn away from Him. Or He’s singing it to all the prodigal sons and daughters that have yet to come home. Let’s take a look at it from that perspective. I’ll discuss the verses first, and then the chorus.

How I wish you could see the potential / The potential of you and me
This line describes so well God’s longing for a personal relationship with each one of us. God wants to have an intimate relationship with everyone. He created us to love us.

It’s like a book elegantly bound, but
God continues to tell us how wonderful things will be if we take a step toward Him. He we say “yes” to Him. Our relationship with Him is beautiful, a work of art.

In a language that you can’t read just yet
But because we aren’t in the relationship with Him, because we haven’t/aren’t experiencing that personal relationship with Him, we can’t understand it. It might be nice when we see it in other people, but we don’t understand it. It doesn’t mean anything to us. Yet. It’s as if God is saying, “I want to be in this amazing relationship with you, but you don’t quite understand how wonderful it can be or why you’d want it. I’ll help you see why it’s so great, why you’ll desire it. You don’t know now, but you will.”

There are days when, outside your window / I see my reflection as I slowly pass
And I long for this mirrored perspective / When we’ll be lovers, lovers at last
As if He’s saying to us, “I swing by to see how you’re doing. When I’m there I slow down and watch for a bit. I am amazed by you. Mesmerized. I love you. And I hope for the day when you’ll look back at me. When you’ll come see how I’m doing. When you’ll get caught up in the love we’ll share between us. I long for that day. I await the day I’ll love you and you’ll love me right back.

God wants a relationship with each of us, but He can’t force it. He can’t help but love us, but He can’t make us return that love. In His infinite love, He gave us free will. We have the choice. We can accept His love and love Him back, or we can reject both Him and His love. The verse describes someone rejecting God’s love.

My advances and desperate pleas. As if God saying, “I’ve tried all sorts of ways to get you to love me. I’ve done so much. I’ve given you my Son. And still you reject me.

I won’t let you let me down so easily / So easily
He continues, “I’ll keep trying. I still love you. You can reject me all day, but I’ll still come back tomorrow and love you more. I love you.”

The chorus clues us into how we enter into that deeper relationship with the Lord. It gives us the instructions as to how to get to know our Heavenly Father:

You got to spend some time, love / You got to spend some time with me
We have to spend time with God. We need to pray! We might not want to spend time with God. We might not want that relationship. But the Lord wants it. He wants us. He just asks for a little bit of our time. You got to spend some time, love. We need to do this. It’s not “you should spend some time,” or “you should think about spending some time,” but “you got to.” We have to pray. We have to spend some time with our Creator. Prayer is how we can grow closer to the Lord!

And I know that you’ll find, love / I will possess your heart
If we pray, if we spend that time with God, we’ll grow to love Him. We’ll love Him more and more each day. He will possess our hearts. But first we have to know Him. We have to pray. We have to come to Him each day and talk. Spend some time with Him just like we would with any other friend. He asks us to give Him a little time, because He knows that we’ll want to give Him a little more time and a little more time. He knows we’ll love Him a little more and a little more.  We will come to know the Lord, and we will come to love Him, and we will give our hearts to Him. He will possess our hearts, but only if we take the first step and enter into prayer.

 

Love this song? Check out the album!

Uncategorized

Beauty in Music

April 5, 2012

Recently Jonathan discovered a couple of new songs we have been enjoying. Jonathan pretty much discovers all the good music in our home. If it were up to me, we’d still be listening to the same play list I uploaded onto my ipod a couple years ago that I haven’t changed since….consisting mainly of Disney hits, 80’s pop ballads, and books on tape about leadership. Not the most intriguing or consistent mix. I am grateful for Jonathan’s ability to find beauty in music he listens to and to introduce it to me. Perhaps you will find them as beautiful as we have –

Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars – Safe and Sound (from the Hunger Games Soundtrack….we are BIG FANS!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhdNG_ebbTg

Angus & Julia Stone – Love Will Take You (from The Twilight Saga….we are NOT fans of Twilight though, sorry!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eashb-IzvIk

Civil Wars – Poison & Wine

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfzRlcnq_c0

Uncategorized

Baby Monkey on a Pig…why hadn’t I seen this yet?

April 4, 2012

So today I was told about this video of a baby monkey riding on the back of a pig….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_sfnQDr1-o

All I can say is that I guess I have been living under a rock because 13 million people have seen it and I hadn’t yet! Now that I have seen it, I cannot get the song out of my head. So I will just settle to be thinking about monkeys and pigs all day.

In case you aren’t one of the 13 million, watch it and enjoy some simple humor.