I don't believe any one is reading my words these days, but I thought building a writing habit makes for better reading in the future.
My wife and I are putting significant energy into eliminating debt in our lives. Since moving out of my last interim position, we have tried to live on one income, and realized that we can't right now. I need to bring home some (veggie?) bacon. Sure, this realization has taken some of the romance out of being a "stay at home dad," but we have been recently persuaded by Dave Ramsey (www.daveramsey.com) and his class creepily titled "Financial Peace University" that if we're ever going to be good stewards, we need to start acting like it, especially now when we're both not bringing in full-time salaries. So...I'm not spending my time cleaning the house in high heels and pearls, but I am making meal plans, cutting coupons, taking my girls to the park, reading to them out of joy more often, reading the Bible because I hope God speaks to me rather than looking at God speaking to me as gravy while preparing for a sermon or Bible study. That sounds like a better life already. We are paying off debt, saving money, living more within our means and working together. I wake up at 230 am and deliver about 170 newspapers, and look for ways to make a little money using ebay. I preach occasionally, and enjoy it a little bit more, looking at the mismanaged details in a congregation and say to myself, "not my problem." The gospel rings a little differently now. I am thankful and blessed.
I don't miss a lot of the things we used to do. In some ways, I'm not really sure how we spent our money. Some things have fallen away, partially because of our focus on our goals. I didn't take the annual football trip, and I cancelled my Sirius. Those were the only cuts that hurt a little bit. But I'm not in agony. We take special joy in doing the things as a family that we do budget, and we have some room to be spontaneous. As we follow through on our goals, maybe we'll take up some of our former joys again--but at least we'll have a better plan to take on those joys.
In closing, simplification has changed me, and the project has brought my wife and I closer together. The gift of time has brought the girls and I closer as well. I guess I never stop growing up. A disclaimer--if you check out Dave Ramsey--he does have a lot of wise words, and a great system to be a better steward. He shares a lot of wisdom that I had received from other financial teachers in my life--a class from Lutheran Brotherhood, Suze Orman, etc. Dave offered the best system. I had to grit my teeth several times during my financial learning curve because I think some of his political statements and views on poverty are sickening. But my wife and I are adapting to where our stewardship education matches our values and understandings of what would be good as we serve God together.
Gotta go check on ebay.