Tag Archives: Money

Working It Out

Rick laughs and tells me everything I write about him makes it seem like our relationship has been smooth sailing from day one, the stuff of romance novels.  That’s not exactly true, I say.  Anyone with a brain will know that two people in a relationship have struggles.  And my sweet farmer-fiancé just smiles.

He apologizes to me for making me cry on a semi-regular basis.  I laugh and tell him, we’re just working it out.  I cry.  I cry when doing the laundry of the beautiful and frustrating children whose parents I now help out.  Those tiny little clothes are getting bigger.  I will miss their sparkly eyes and their unruly hair and the frightfully intelligent smart-aleck comments.  And when I realize how much I’ll miss them, I get weepy for my own unborn (un-conceived!) children who will also grow up and change and not be babies forever.  I get teary when I see the wedding of anyone else these days.  Reading the poetic blog of a young farmer’s wife leaves me wiping my eyes.  So, sweet man, there is no need to apologize.  I cry.

The emotional roller-coaster I was on during the first few months of our relationship left me wondering if I needed some kind of medication.  I swung between feelings of total assurance that this amazing man was the one for me to equal certainty that it would never work and I was giving a kind and gracious man false hope.  I mean, seriously, ME?  A farmer’s wife???  I asked him if he was still single at his age because he had some kind of weird perversion and watched like a hawk for months, looking in vain for any sign of addiction or character-flaw.   I didn’t talk to him for an entire weekend because I thought he had called me fat.  He had no idea the comment he thought was encouraging hit a raw and exposed nerve and sent me reeling.  He went to another country for six weeks and called me twice a week.  After talking several times a day every day for the previous six months, I felt like I’d been totally abandoned.  He says he was thinking about me the entire time and thought calling that often while he was on a mission trip was going above and beyond.

We are a real couple with real challenges.  After so many years of singleness, we are learning what it means to be a couple.  We are learning to change our thinking from “me and my friends/family/church” to “us and our future together”.  It doesn’t always come easy.  When the sales lady at the department store told me the total on some makeup I purchased during his recent visit, his jaw hit the floor.  Is that how much that stuff always costs?  I’m
learning what it means to have someone else look at how I spend my money.
  Um, er, our money…  Ouch.

But how can two people learn to meld their separate lives into one any other way?  We have to learn to navigate one another’s currents.  We work together to figure each other out, and we try to be gracious through the challenges.  We laugh a lot – maybe not at the moment we realize how very differently we think about something – but eventually.  We are learning to compromise.  I’m learning that I am right a lot less often than I thought.

Through the challenges, we are learning what it means to be loved.  Acceptance, right where we are, for who we are, is a daily practice.  And it’s worth it.  When I look into his brilliant blue eyes, kindness oozing from every
part of him, I see the glory of God.
I see just how much God loves me and wants what’s best for me.

I am so thankful for this man who fixes my broken furniture, loads dozens of heavy boxes into his truck for their journey north, and never loses his temper.  Gratitude fills my heart for this generous man who wants to give me the honeymoon of my dreams.  I am deeply in love.  His precious soul is becoming intertwined with mine.

And yet…  I still have to remind myself that he isn’t getting off the phone early with me tonight because he doesn’t want to talk to me. He is hanging up because I asked him to help me get to bed earlier by ending our conversations earlier.  It feels like he doesn’t want to talk, but he is simply honoring my request for adequate rest.  So I give myself a little pep talk, thank him for being so responsible, and (because I have time) sit down and write a blog.

We are working it out. 

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Out of Debt

I never considered the possibility that I could grow up and become a minister.  Girls didn’t do that.  I didn’t really consider the possibility that I’d do anything more than get married and have babies.  I wanted to be in ministry, but I thought the way I could do that was to marry a pastor.  When I graduated from college and moved to Nashville, I felt sure that my husband would be here waiting and sweep me off my feet.  That didn’t exactly happen…  The guy that I dated for the first year I lived in Nashville ended up being at best, a charmingly handsome compulsive liar, and quite possibly a sociopath.  He was really good at lying, so it took me about nine months to figure out what was going on.  After that, it took me three months to get it through my head that he wasn’t going to change.  To say I’m loyal to a fault would be an understatement.

After that gem of a man, I fell in love with a guy from church whose friends I knew and whose faith was secure.  He had some great qualities, but in the long run was not a good match for me.  Let’s just say that we did not bring out the best in each other and after some really hard work to try to fix our relationship, we realized it shouldn’t be that hard and ended things before it got worse.  That was an extremely painful time in my life, but I’ll admit that a big reason I went through all that with him is because he was wealthy.  I was not financially secure and that frightened me so much that I was willing to go through misery to find a way to get there.  Not one of my shining moments…

Since then I’ve earned a seminary degree, changed careers, and rebuilt my life.  I haven’t been in love since then, but I’ve learned some important lessons to prepare me for the next (and hopefully last) time around.  I also accumulated a lot of debt.  Going back to school isn’t cheap, even with scholarships.  I worked as a graduate assistant while in school, a very good networking job, but not lucrative.  Then I didn’t work much at all for nearly a year while finishing up my degree and looking for a full-time job.  After I got my full-time job, I never got caught up from the time I was out of work. 

Sometimes I freaked out about my finances, but I always had this romantic notion that my future husband would be a wealthy man who could rescue me from my black hole of debt without batting an eye or questioning my ability to manage household expenses.  I am definitely an optimist!  That has seriously narrowed the dating pool, by the way…  Not too long ago, I finally realized that I was going to have to take control of my finances and make some difficult decisions.  In an act that I can only describe as feeling like I’d just lost my right arm, I cut up my credit cards and made a promise to God that I would never rely on credit again.  After a month of wrapping my brain around my new circumstances, I made more difficult decisions.  I took drastic measures, admitted my problem (so humiliating), and found ways to begin actively paying off my debt.  There is now a light at the end of the long, dark tunnel and God has provided some amazing things to help get the ball rolling. 

Something else has happened through this process of confronting my debt and dealing with it head-on.  I have confronted a darker part of myself that I didn’t want to face.  Even though I consider myself an independent, (fairly) successful young woman, I still believed that I was somehow special.  I believed that the rules did not apply to me.  I could be in debt, I could use credit cards to live on, I could be financially irresponsible – and because I was so special, I would never face the consequences.  In hindsight, it’s hard to believe I was so blind, which makes me wonder what else I might be missing…  hmmm…  Anyway, the truth is that as a Christian, as a minister, and as a mature adult, I must be financially responsible.  I must be a good steward of the things God has entrusted to me.  Duh.  I know.  I’m a late-bloomer in this area.

I think as girls we are taught to believe that we will be rescued.  I’ve often heard my godly, single friends say, “when I marry my rich husband…”  I used to join in that conversation with no reservations.  Recently a new idea has started rattling around inside my head.  What if God has placed within me the gifts and ability to become financially secure and I’ve just not tapped into them?  What if something I can do will bring financial success to my family?  When I am pressed, when I can’t afford the things I really want or even need, what will I do?  What am I made of? 

These are the questions I’m currently trying to answer.  The DECISION to be financially responsible has been eye-opening in many ways.  I’m looking forward to what other things God has up His sleeve.  Of all the things I’ve learned about His character, the one that stands out to me the most is how surprising He can be.  All I know to say is, “sneaky, sneaky…” while I look up to heaven and smile. 

By the way, the dating pool is much wider now that I’ve lessened the restrictions from “wealthy” to “financially responsible”. 

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