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I ran across a quote a while ago, but I don’t remember the source. It is “People don’t know how wonderful they are. Someone needs to tell them.” Maybe, for your friend, that someone is you. After all, relationships need encouragement to keep growing. Marriages don’t thrive when we ignore our spouses. Children don’t feel closer to us when we don’t spend time with them. Friendships are the same thing. Even with limited time that we moms can have, we can encourage our friendships. All it takes is just a little time and forethought.

Here are some of my ideas that don’t take too much time to pull off.

  • Send an email or a text message.  It just needs to be a few sentences, but it will brighten her day. Give her one to two things that you really appreciate.  Some things you’ve noticed about her specifically.  Extra credit if you hand write it on a note card, but that’s not necessary.
  • Bring her a treat. Driving through Starbucks? Pick her up a latte. Stopping by Dairy Queen? Order an extra milk shake just for her! Find out where she is and drop the treat off. You don’t even need to enjoy it with her; just bless her!
  • Decorate her yard. Get some plastic Easter eggs, fill them with candy and decorate her door step. Buy 100 American flags and make a big sign in her yard. Sneak into her yard at night and have some fun. Her kids will probably get a kick out of it too!
  • Drop off dinner. Making a casserole for dinner? Make two, but bring one to her. Just give her advance notice that you’re providing the meal or make it something that she can serve the next day. Meals don’t have to be just for new moms or when there is a death in the family.
  • Leave a voice mail. Does she have a work phone number? Call it late at night when she won’t be in the office. Leave a short message telling her that you value her friendship. That’ll be a nice surprise when she gets into the office!
  • Listen carefully. Many times, friends drop hints about the things that they need. Has she been looking for a good pork tenderloin recipe? If you find one, pass it on. If she mentions that her brother is looking for a job and you come across a possibility, send it her way. If you see a rug that would look great in her living room, tell her about it.
  • Take something off her plate.  Does she have errands to run?  Can you pick up her dry cleaning or the 5 gallons of paint she’s been meaning to get for the basement?  You can’t help her file her status reports for work, but you can bring her a snack while she’s working late.
  • Remember her birthday.  Let’s be honest. Sometimes moms can get overlooked on their birthdays.  So, before Facebook tells you it’s her birthday, write it in your day planner and plan ahead.  Order her one of those big chocolate chip cookies.  Make her a birthday cake.  It can even be from a box.  Help her kids make her a card.  Just make her feel special in some small way!

How do you encourage friendship?

‘Stephen’ must be a funny name with the way that he laughs when his name is said.

(Proof that dada is his first word; still haven’t heard a mama yet.)

Protecting my sanity

As you may know, I work.

  • 3 days of the week, I’m home by 12:30.
  • 1 day of the week, I work til 2:00, so that I can pick up my niece & nephew from school.
  • And the other day of the week, I work my “all day” day — but even that’s only until 3:30.

But not so much this week. This week, due to a couple of ill-timed events (mostly a training class), I have to work all day Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday. And not to my definition of “all day”, but the traditional definition of “all day” aka: until 5:00 p.m.

As I plan out this week, how do people do this? Like on a normal basis? Sure, I have the added pressure of finding full-time daycare when I normally only need part-time daycare, but that’s easily handled in my situation.

The question: How do people do the “we’re both walking in the door at 5:30 and bedtime is in 90 minutes” evening rush? Even crockpot meals and heating up leftovers take time to put together. And who wants to be rushed all the time?

The answer: You just do it. Just like I adjusted to getting married and the changes that brought. Just like I adjusted to having a child and the changes that brought. Just like I adjusted to having a 2nd child and the changes that brought. Just like I adjusted to moving houses and the changes that brought.

When you know about it before hand and when something is temporary (like this week), you make small adjustments.

So, for us, it’s a take-and-bake pizza, a crockpot meal and leftovers. It might mean a slightly later bedtime for the boys. You just do what you gotta do. But it’s a nice reminder that I don’t want to live this way on a regular basis.

I’ve come across so many articles lately about “How to Live on 1 Income!” or even “Why doesn’t America have mandatory maternity leave like other countries do?”.  I get it — it’s even something that I blogged about before — years ago.  But since then, I’ve kind of realized some things.  Such that now whenever I hear the question “How Can We Live On One Income?”, I mentally reply “As long as your income is Bill Gates’, then you’re fine.”  For a while, I thought of it as an income problem.  Or I mentally think “Just have the expenses of Mother Teresa, then you’re fine.”  I would think of it as an expense problem.

Okay, not really.  It doesn’t take Bill Gates income to support a family.  And you don’t have to have expenses of a single nun.  And while, at the end of the day, it does come down to expenses and income, I’m guessing (just guessing) that in my circle of friends, there are 1-income homes making $40K/year and they make it work. And there are probably also couples making $150K/year who struggle to pay all their bills.  So, it isn’t the amount that’s critical – it’s the decisions made that make all the difference.

But even that statement is kind of misleading.  Because, I’ve realized that:

  • It’s the decisions your parents made when you were growing up that affect you today.
  • It’s the decisions your spouse’s parents made when you were growing up that affect you today.
  • It’s the decisions that you made after high school that affect you today. (Student loans, rents, mortgages, car loans, etc)
  • It’s the decisions that your spouse made after high school that affect you today.
  • It’s the professions that you’re in that affect you today. (Income potential as well as other expectations like dress code, cars, houses)
  • It’s the professions that your spouse is in that affect you today.
  • It’s the part of the country that you live in that affect you today. (Particularly housing has a huge effect on cost of living)

It’s all kinds of things.  I’ve just come to realize that being/having a stay-at-home spouse is a complex issue.  It’s not SOLELY a function of the decisions that you make today, but it’s influenced by decisions made for the last couple of decades and decisions not even made by you.

Over the years, my mind has gone from “You just have to make a budget that only spends what you make.” to “You just have to have 1 income that makes enough money to support your needs.” to “I think people need to really be wise about their decisions and the decisions that they lead their children too because financial decisions can have a really long-term effect.”  Aka: It’s complicated. 

 

We sold our house! For Sale By Owner! (Which you already know because we moved into the new house over a year - I’m a little behind in posting!)  It took us 5 weeks, which is great when you’re doing it For Sale By Owner.  I’ve driven by houses in our town that have been on the market for months – and that’s with a realtor!

We actually had 3 people/families that were really interested.  In fact, when it had been on the market for just 9 days, I thought we had it sold.  A gal made an offer, we accepted it, but she backed out when it came time to sign a contract.  I think she just panicked – even though she went through it twice, brought parents, sisters, nephews and had her grandfather review the contract.  (Which, before a contract is signed, is the best/easiest time to panic.)

Here’s how we did it.

Price it well
This is the first thing that everyone will tell you to do. If you price too high, people will just write you off and not even walk through. For us, we looked at houses that had recently sold and set a price. When we were setting the price, there was a house literally 2 doors down with the exact same floor plan that was also for sale. It had been a foreclosure that sat empty for over a year and a half, bought by a renovator and fixed up a little.  They had it listed with an agent and we knew we wanted to be just a little less expensive than they were. So we went 1-2% less than they were asking.  We were blessed to be in a position where we didn’t need to get absolute top dollar for it.  It was more important (to us) to have a buyer than an extra couple of thousand dollars.

But literally 2 days before we put our For Sale sign in the yard, they removed theirs. We thought it had sold, but we learned much later that they really had rented it out instead because they couldn’t find a buyer.

Get it cute
We spent a lot of time making it look as cute and clean as we could. We rented a storage unit between the 2 houses and just started packing boxes. We filled up about 3/4 of a 10×10 foot storage unit. Stuff we wouldn’t need in the next few months.   We had lots of bins of baby clothes that no longer fit, baby clothes that don’t yet fit, toys our son has yet to grow into along with tons of diapers, personal care products, and canned goods (I’m a couponer!) plus holiday stuff. It made moving that much easier, but it also made selling that much easier.

We gave some attention to the yard, putting down new mulch and planting a couple of hosta plants in areas. We focused on watering for a couple of weeks to get the grass nice and green.

I touched up places where paint may have gotten scuffed off on inside walls or outside where it was chipping off a little bit.

I got rid of furniture that wasn’t critical or often used. Make it look as big as possible.

I organized pantries and closets, sending a couple of tubs of stuff to Goodwill.  (In hindsight, I wish I would’ve done more!)

Since we moved in, we knew our wood floors needed refinishing, but didn’t really want to do it. We thought we’d just acknowledge the scratches and stains and tell people that we lowered the price $1000 (about the cost of refinishing them).  But, in the end, we figured a first time home buyer would be intimidated by that and it ruined the cute factor – in a key area of the house. So, we bit the bullet, slept in the basement for a few nights (so that we didn’t walk on the floors) and had the work done.

Advertised on zillow.com
As I cleaned each room and prepped it, I took pictures and then created a page on zillow.com. I chose that as my primary place to hold house information. Cost: FREE!

Offered a Referral Bonus
Since we didn’t have a seller’s agent finding leads for us, I knew that word of mouth was going to be our biggest asset. So, we offered a $500 referral bonus to anyone that found a buyer for us. Turns out we didn’t need it, but there was no telling where our buyer was going to come from. It definitely generated some buzz for us and I’d totally do it again.

Create a flyer
Our flyer wasn’t anything fancy, but we needed one for the Info Box in our yard and for sending to people.  I mimicked the format that I had seen realtors use.

Email & Facebook
Once we were ready, I sent an email to friends and family with the flyer and link to zillow.com. Then I announced on facebook, making sure to stress the referral bonus. One of our strong interests came from this route (via a facebook friend), but they were interested just a little too late – we had already accepted an offer.

Craigslist.com
Since Craigslist is free, we advertised here. We did have 1 person come through before the Open House as a result of this ad, so it was worth the 10 minutes it took to set it up.  The person who found us this way was actually a real estate agent who also checked craigslist…you just never know who is watching it!

Listed in the paper

Our hometown paper has a program where you get an online ad and you get your Open House listed in Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s paper of that week. Since our big push was the Open House, we ran for a weekend. Cost: $100 or so.

Advertise to neighbors
I created a postcard, had it printed at overnightprints.com and mailed them to 150 of our neighbors. I don’t know most of them, but they got a postcard anyway. Getting the addresses was easy thanks to our county’s assessor’s website.  It listed the features of the house and said that we were also offering a referral bonus if they referred the buyer. Most importantly, it directed them to the website. I put a bright sticker on there, announcing the Open House as well. I was careful to not put the price on the postcard in case we decided later to change it.   Cost of postcards and postage: Less than $100.  I’ve removed some critical information, but here’s what it looked like:

 house_for_sale_front_web

house_for_sale_back_web

What we didn’t do, but would have:
There are a few ideas that I had, but never implemented. I figured we’d get past our Open House and if there wasn’t any nibbles, then I’d look at doing these things:

  • Listing on ForSaleByOwner (or something similar).  There’s a cost to this though.
  • Creating a youtube video of pictures or even a video walk through of the house to give people a better idea of the house.
  • Make our own signs for the yard and direction signs. Something bright and eye catching just made with plywood.

That’s how we did it!

THIS is happening!

No more hemming.  No more hawing.

No more flipping.  No more flopping.

I’ve talked too much about this and not had any action.  But now…

I AM doing this.  I am. I am.  I am.

I AM going to paint some woodwork white.

I have to.  I already started!

(And now I push pause on the project til I get the right paint brush.  But, hey, damage done.  I’m committed!)

powderroomtrim

 

Here we go!

I’ve been exposed to much literature lately about the church and missions and poverty and hunger and  disease prevention and sex trafficking.  All kinds of things.  It seems like it’s a hot topic lately as I’ve heard about it at church, read about it on blogs, see it in Christian magazines and new books.  So it’s been something that I’ve been thinking about lately.

What should the church be doing about so many of these issues?  Certainly, our track record hasn’t been super strong on assisting in these issues.  (Right?  Or is that just an assumption I’ve made?)  Books from authors like Jen Hatmaker make me think that I’m not doing enough.  Or, at least, the things that I’m doing aren’t the right things.

Some conclusions that I’ve come to:

Maybe the church’s track record is better than we think.  There are many ministries out there, formed by Christians, to help with homelessness and illiteracy.  Many a hospital has been built out of a Christian concern for people.  Many a medical missionary has gone to foreign countries to practice.

The church was established for equipping Christians, not really fixing all the world’s problems.  The world’s problems aren’t all going to get fixed.  It’s like the church is a school for doctor’s, not a hospital.  It’s the place where people are trained up and equipped to know Jesus better, love God more and to know the Bible more.

Helping others is a commandment.  And there are productive ways to help people and unproductive ways.  Sometimes, people really need money.  But other times, they think they need money, but they need Jesus to help them break the patterns of bad decisions that they’ve made or need people to give guidance.

You can’t (and shouldn’t) ignore the needs you know of – if you can meet those needs. If the person next to you says she is hungry, you feed her.  But if the person next to you say she is hungry, but only wants money (not food), then you can’t meet that need.  Being presented with someone that has a legitimate need that you can meet, seems to me to be a “holy hint” that it’s something you’re supposed to do.  I might be wrong, but I’d rather error on the side of caution.

One of the books that helped me come to these conclusions was Kevin DeYoung & Greg Gilbert’s book named “What Is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission”.   I really recommend it.  It’s not a super easy read and I’m not in 100% agreement with all of it, but I think it provides a nice contrast to the line of thought that says “If your church isn’t more about poverty/sex trafficking/missions/drugs/homelessness/medical needs than it is about preaching/teaching/counseling/worshipping, then you’re doing something wrong.”

 

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