Friday, February 3, 2017

My three cents...


Image result for christians and politics



What a January. Scrolling through Facebook has become more of a chore than anything else. Everyone seems angry. Or defensive. Or both.

I've held off on political posts since the election but will briefly post what I've been mulling over. My main concern over the past few months has been how so many Christians can differ so greatly on something. I have friends on either side of this argument who are knowledgeable, kind, and intelligent. They also completely believe that the other person is wrong.

I have seen a few articles recently that begin with, "You aren't a Christian if ______" These articles are showing up on both sides of the aisle and I've taken issue with them. I think in our passion we sometimes find ourselves forgetting the basics.

What makes someone a Christian?

     That they support refugees?
     That they give to the church?
     That they believe in protecting their nation from harm?

Nope.

We KNOW this! We know that what makes someone a Christian is their knowledge of who Christ is. Their recognition of their sin and their belief that He has bridged the gap between us and God.

That's it.

So stop with the accusing. Whether you believe in someone else's opinion on refugees, the wall, or national security we as humans have no right to judge another's Christianity. Leave it to God. (Matt. 7:1)

Hold up, I"m not done yet.

I've also spent a bit of time looking through the Net Testament. I've read a lot of articles about how God killed off nations in the Old Testament and therefore the Godly answer would be to shut out anyone else because we are God's chosen people, just as Israel was.

I've read about how the story of the Good Samaritan is really teaching us to not get too close with those who are different because if you recall, the Samaritan did not bring that man INTO HIS HOME, he paid for his medical care and kept a reasonable distance.

Context People. Context. 

There is an extraordinary difference between what a government should do and what we, as Christians, should do.

We should be imitators of Christ right? (I Cor. 11:1) What did He do? What did He say?

Find me a verse where He turned the stranger away?

Fine me a verse where He didn't help the poor?

Find me a verse where He discouraged spending time with the needy?

(Hint: you're going to need to focus on the New Testament because that's where He shows up.)

I've looked and I've found nothing.

Regardless of what you think this country should do when it comes to foreign involvement, what should WE do, as imitators of Christ?

One First Corinthians is clear, We have one job.

Stop writing articles about how and why someone is wrong. Spend a moment today figuring out how you can help a stranger in need, and then go do it.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Charleston

The Mr. and I just got back from a long weekend in Charleston. I'd heard great things about the city and have been wanting to go for a while. So naturally, I turned it into a Christmas present for my better half, who kind of hates travelling...he was ecstatic. 

We had two tickets on Southwest that were about to expire so we decided to use them and fly south. We left on Thursday and arrived in Charleston around 4:30. After grabbing a rental car we checked into our hotel for the night. 


For the last two nights of our trip we used Hilton Honors points that the Mr. has amassed from traveling for work, but I wanted to stay in the historic downtown area for one night so we did that Thursday night. We stayed in the heart of downtown at the Mills House and it was beautiful.


We dropped our bags off at the hotel and walked a few blocks to the Vendue Hotel. This hotel is about a block from the water and has a rooftop bar with great views of the city. We got there after dark and so it was too dark to see many of the views but it was still a fun place to grab a pre-dinner drink. I'd love to go back in the summer time when it stays light longer. During the cooler months they have kerosene heaters all over the rooftop which made things cozy.


From there we walked down to the Marina for dinner at a restaurant called Fleet Landing. It was right on the water and located in an old US Navy building. The food was great, especially their homemade honey butter and biscuits.

The next morning we had breakfast at the Bakehouse. It's a little coffee shop with muffins, quiche, croissants and ... coffee. After breakfast we headed out of the downtown area to the Magnolia Plantation. We spent a few hours learning about the history of the plantation and touring the gardens. I'm sure this would also be beautiful in the Spring as well.  The signs said to watch out for alligators but I was kind of disappointed that we didn't see any...





We left the plantation and drove to Folley Beach...about a 30 minute drive from downtown Charleston. It reminded me a little of Hatteras but on a larger scale and we spent a few hours walking the little town and checking out the pier (2nd largest on the East Coast!) We ate lunch at the Lost Dog Cafe (fried green tomato sandwich!)



After Folley beach we checked into our hotel (new one no longer downtown) and then went to see a movie. (Passengers-I highly recommend it!) 

The next day we drove back downtown and spent a few hours walking the streets. It's such a beautiful area! You could probably spend a week walking the downtown area and still not see everything. There are a ton of neat restaurants and boutiques tucked in.


Since it was New Years Eve we wanted to do something special for dinner so we made a reservation at Eli's Table in downtown. Our reservation wasn't until 7:15 so we grabbed some coffee at Toast while we were waiting (pictured below). I would love to go back to Toast for a meal...they aren't too pricey but have a unique variety...or like us, you can just grab a coffee and people watch. 



After we sat down and placed our drink orders at Eli's Table we were informed that there was a special menu that night in honor of NYE...and it was $69 a person! WHAT!! Well, since we didn't really have an option at that point we stayed and the food was great but I'm not sure it was quite worth $69... we had crab bisque, ceasar salad, seared scallops and an amazing dessert that I didn't get the name of but loved.


All in all it was a great getaway and we are so thankful to my parents who watched our girls while we were gone. We've never been away from our kids for that long and we were missing them by the time we got back. They had colds while we were gone but still had a wonderful time with Grandma and Grandpa (no surprise). 

I highly recommend the Charleston area for a vacation but would probably go back in the Spring if we ever went again. 


P.S. We also stopped by The Citadel and did some thrift store shopping (because that's how we roll)

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Sometimes We Just Don't Know What We Need

Well, it's been almost 6 months, so I guess it's time for another blog post. I'm all for consistency.

It's been a busy few months for us.

A few years ago I became pretty interested in opening a franchise. The company is called "The Clothes Mentor" and I love their stores and business model. . When I first became interested in this, we didn't have the resources because we were waiting for our vacation home to sell. Once that sold, we decided to remodel our kitchen and so we continued putting this dream on the back burner.

Finally, at the beginning of 2016 we revisited it. I loved the business model and we felt like it would be a great challenge that was relatively risk free and fun. Since Lilly would be starting Kindergarten in the fall and Charlotte would be able to do a 2-3 day preschool program we thought it was a good time to begin the process.

So we did. We spoke with a bank and were pre-qualified for the loan. We started having conversations with the franchise company and were fairly deep into that process as well. Finally, we booked our plane tickets to go out to Minnesota to meet with the company and then pay the initial franchise fee.

In the weeks leading up to our trip, I was still pretty excited about the idea but also had a few reservations. Having not really worked outside of our home since having kids I was not certain what being gone most days (and for long hours) would mean to our family's dynamic.

We also received the Franchise Disclosure Documents (about 180 pages) and had been reviewing them. We were under the assumption that we would be receiving the financial information on every franchise currently open but in reality only received the information on about 60% (which is a big difference!)

And then, about a week before we were supposed to leave I was informed about a part-time finance position at our church. This was a position that I'd been interested in for the last fifteen years but wasn't aware that it would be opening up. I remember when John and I first got married and I was finishing my degree (finance) he asked me what my perfect job would be. I told him I would love the opportunity to one day do finance at the church.

So I had a dilemma. On the one hand there was this exciting opportunity that was also a bit risky. It meant that I might be away from my kids for most of the week (or even weekends) and we weren't quite sure if it would make that much money. On the other hand there was a position that wasn't quite as exciting, but I knew I would love it. My kids would eventually be in the same building as me during the day (their school is a ministry of our church) and I would be able to work with some of the kindest and greatest people I know. I stayed up most of that night questioning which way to go, but in the end it was an easy decision.

I feel like on the outside it wasn't that big of a decision. But for me it was. This job is one I will hold for a long time and the decision between the two would most likely determine what the next 20-30 years will look like for our family. And it was all because one of my friends sent me a simple text message about the job being open. 

I've been at the job now for two weeks and it's been wonderful. About 50% of the job is comprised of things I've done before and am competent in. The other 50% provides enough of a challenge to keep each day unique and interesting. I've worked at a number of companies in the past and by far my favorite positions were ones where the work was interesting and the people were good. This position has both. What I'm most amazed about though is that God saw the bigger picture and realized what I needed. I thought I knew what would be good for us but I was wrong. He knew before we did that we would be overworked, stressed and would most likely regret the franchise in the end. I'm so glad that He is wiser than me. I'm also grateful for the friends I have that He uses as instruments to get his message across to me. Because sometimes I'm hard of hearing.

Monday, February 22, 2016

What is Value?


When I look at the political landscape for November I'm a little terrified. On the one hand we have a power hungry chauvinist who has become a laughing stock among a number of foreign political leaders. Leaders who are our allies, leaders who's favor we need. 

On the other hand we have a liar who will most likely do ANYTHING to be the first women president. 

And if you flip that hand over, you have a socialist.

How did we even reach this point? I love America, but this week I've caught myself wondering what exactly I have in common with most of the people in this country. 

I spent a good chunk of yesterday afternoon reading through Bernie Sanders website and I was so sad by what I read. I think  that of the three potential candidates, Bernie Sanders is probably the nicest person. I'm willing to bet that he wouldn't kill me if I tried to cross him, or make a chauvinistic joke about my rack...but that doesn't mean he'll get my vote.

Bernie's platform is one of freedom. He supports the freedom to go to college debt free, the freedom to earn a higher wage and the freedom to live life without paying for medical care.

The problem I have with this ideology is that things come a price, and there's a reason for that. When we pay a higher price for a name brand it's generally because that item is a better quality. College comes with a high price tag because it's a valuable commodity that is worth the cost. What will happen when college is free? When scholarships are worthless? When getting into college is something that anyone can do? It will lose it's value. A college degree with decrease in worth and something else will take it's place. We've placed a dollar value on a college degree because it is worth something. When your four years are up and you hold that degree-people know that you worked hard. You sacrificed because it meant something to you.

When we aren't required to put some skin in the game, quality suffers. 

I'm reminded of the housing bubble bursting in 2008. Housing prices were skyrocketing and appreciating faster than they should. At the same time, homeowners were being given 100% financing. That means they could buy a home at no cost to them. They had no skin in the game. So when a year went by and they realized they could no longer make their mortgage payment what happened? They walked away. Certain cities were sitting at a 25% foreclosure rate because the homeowners didn't care. They had no reason to fight, no reason to get a second job, no reason to keep their home. They entered into the contract with nothing and so they walked away with nothing to lose.

When we start allowing people to have things for free, we take away the desire to succeed. If they don't have to work for it (ie healthcare, higher education, a better paying job) then they aren't going to value it. 

Where is the American I thought I knew? It seems like we're split between those who's fear of the unknown has forced them to hate others, and those who don't want to work for something that is worth earning. 


 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Making America Great Again

So let's talk about politics and religion! Who's excited?!


The race is getting tighter and Iowa is just a few weeks away. (February 1st). Virginia's primary is only one month later. Eventually, we will all need to make a decision. I thought I'd share with you a few opinions I had on some of the candidates as well as why I feel the way I do.

Trump:

I truly believe that America is still the greatest nation on earth. Because of that, I feel like the office of President of the United States should be one that is revered and greatly respected. I don't feel like Trump respects the job, (or much of anything). I also have a hard time believing that the leaders of other countries would maintain any respect for him either, and dealing with the leaders of other countries is a big part of the job description.

Another thing that bothers me about him is he has changed teams-frequently. He's been a Democrat, he's been an independent and he's now a Republican. I'm a women-so by all means, he has the right to change his mind, but it seems to me like he "believes" in whatever will get him the win. A bit opportunistic if you ask me. He knows how to run a good businesses and that's what he's doing here. I want my President to be convicted. I want him (or her) to actually STAND for something. He leaves me feeling like it's all a big game to him and that frustrates me.

I want America to be great again...but I don't think he's going to get us there.

Bernie Sanders/Hillary Clinton:

Wait. What? You're putting Democrats into the mix?

Yes. It bothers me when Christian's dismiss a certain side without even knowing what they stand for. It's ok to not agree with them. But if you have no idea what their opinions are then it's not ok.

Also, I'm "lumping" them together not because I think are one in the same but because the issue I have with them is the same, and they have basically the same view on it. That issue is Abortion.

Both Sanders and Clinton are pro-choice and have a strong, uncompromising record on that issue. At least we know where they stand on it (*Cough* *Cough* *Trump*) But, I don't agree with them. Actually, I would consider myself a bit of a feminist, but this issue goes beyond "feminism" and to me becomes an issue of dealing with your consequences.  In MOST situations, an abortion is done because you did something you regret, you weren't using the tools available to you etc. It's Biblical to face a consequence for your actions. We do this every day in this country. We pay our speeding tickets, are fined for not paying are taxes on time, the list goes on. Take away the fact that you are hurting a child and look at it from the view point that pro-choice means you don't need to deal with the natural consequence that follows your action. It doesn't make sense. That's not how society works.

I would never be able to vote for either of these candidates because of this key issue. If we want America to be great again, replacing the phrase "my consequence" with "my right" is not the way to get there, it's a slippery slope.

To be honest none of the other candidates have caught my eye. They all have pros, and they all have cons. I think the voting process is difficult as a Christian because if you do vote, at some point you are going to have to make a choice. No single candidate will agree with you on everything meaning at some point, you'll need to weigh your beliefs and make a choice. Which value is worth the least? That's a hard thing to do.

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

What I'm Pondering this Christmas



Merry Christmas!

For me, "Christmas" begins when you wake up Christmas Eve morning and ends when you go to sleep Christmas night. So, I'm writing this post with as much excitement as a five year old.

Probably the most exciting part for me is seeing my family open gifts that they weren't expecting...we have a few of these in store for tomorrow and I'm super excited excited about it.

Also...this year both of my kids really understand what's going on for the first time and that adds a whole other level to Christmas. I'm so excited for them to see their gifts under the tree in the morning, and we've had a lot of fun putting them together as well. As I write this my dad is putting together a giant swing set in the back yard while I keep the kids entertained in the house and John is in the garage constructing a baby doll bunk bed for our littlest)

I think in America, Christmas means so many different things to so many different people. As a Christian, Christmas is first and foremost a celebration of the birth of Christ. I do think that there are other meanings to Christmas that should also be celebrated.

This season is a time for giving. It's not a secret that I'm cheap. But come December I get so excited to spend so much money! Why is this? It doesn't stress me out like it does the rest of the year. I spend so much time thinking about what I can get my friends and family that they will really enjoy. I also spend time thinking of the less fortunate and how I can help them. While part of me wishes I thought this way throughout the whole year...I know that what makes this season special, what makes me want to do these things not begrudgingly, is that it's for a 'season'. I love that Christmas is a time for giving.

Christmas is also a time to be with family. My family lives 30 minutes away and while we see them often, we've seen them so much more over the past two weeks than we normally do. The same goes for John's family. They live about three hours away but we've seen each other 3 times in the past few weeks! Once again, it would be nice if we maintained this throughout the year...but it's also what makes this time of year so unique and special.

I hope today that you are excited about the next 48 hours. I hope that this season has brought you joy and a bit of childlike anticipation. I hope that regardless of your faith, you are able to recognize the magic of this season. And don't forget to give. Spend some time today researching some local and international opportunities. If there was ever a time to give to the United Way, to give to the refugees, to give to the lower income families in your city or town...now is the time. Now is when we will actually do it, while we are caught up in the generosity of Christmas. In a month, in six months, we will be stressed over the details of life and giving will be the last things on our mind. In a season where we give to ourselves (our family, our kids) take a few minutes to pick someone outside of your circle who could use a blessing too.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Dining Room Table Christmas Centerpiece


A few days ago I posted some dining room centerpiece inspiration for Christmas. I decided to tackle that room first and wanted to share what I ended up doing. I already had these birch candles and wanted to use as much of what I had on hand as possible. I found the wooden sectioned container at Ross for $11. I also already had the berries on hand. So for me, the total cost was only $11 and I will be able to use what I bought for other things throughout the year.

My favorite part is the paper runner though. I had been looking for paper runners on Etsy and they are expensive (also you have to buy then in like 30 feet incriments)! I didn't want to do that. My next idea was to buy normal brown kraft paper and stencil is with polka dots or stripes...but that sounded like a lot of work.

And then I found this WRAPPING PAPER at TJ Maxx. It was $2.99!  and was the perfect width so I didn't need to trim or cut it. I also still have some left to wrap presents!!

It is thicker than normal paper so it is pretty difficult to rip. I was so excited because it was exactly what I was looking for to give my table a contemporary feel...and it was under $3!

TJ Maxx had some great wrapping paper options that were really unique and elegant so check them out.

I love the finished result of my dining room table. Simple, inexpensive and a little modern.