2017 Goals: Where Am I At?

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Hello, March!

Not much to report this month; just a lot of waiting and trusting while yet again we experience a financial collapse. The Lord will provide everything we need; but it has been hard for me to exercise patience and self-control. I want to reduce expenses left and right — trade in the cars! downsize! sell the TV, computers, furniture, everything! if it’s not tied to survival, it goes right out the door! use that money to pay down debt! Let’s get OUT of this mess now!

Alas, I am not in charge of my own life, and there are others besides myself not given to such extreme action. I often behave as though my feelings are justified; I shouldn’t have to work so hard for things I don’t want. It runs deep. Lord, I pray this is temporary.

The idol has been identified: SIMPLICITY. Oh, how I would love to live as simply as possible, as minimally and sustainably as possible. Maybe someday. (Maybe not even in this life.) At the end of the day, God is preparing a special place for me in heaven, and He knows me best. Maybe this place is a quiet little house surrounded by green, with lots of open windows and sunlight and no noise except chirping birds and an orange kitty’s purr.

Contentment. Whew, this one has been hard this month. But maybe not the whole month. In the hills and valleys of financial struggle, we’re in a pretty deep valley, one drawn out over the course of a few months. God has supplied me with peace and, thankfully, a lot of work that will pay well starting later this month. We will survive. However, there is a second major difficulty that is taking so long to solve right now and it’s causing us to use up what we saved for taxes just to get by. Now that the hubby and I are on board with getting rid of debt, we have felt pretty discouraged that we’re heading in the opposite direction.

Obtain Texas CSR license and RPR Certification; get familiar with my realtime software; proactively incorporate more briefs. My TX license came in the mail this month, so I can officially fly there on a whim if I wanted and take work! It is a comfort that if all else just totally failed big and we had to flee our expensive state for the sake of our bank accounts, we could. 

Pay off credit cards, hubby’s student loans, and one car. Ugh, just don’t remind me.

Make music. I finished that one awful transcript (it seriously holds the record) and….. well, I have had constant transcripts since. So thankful for the work — we need it now more than ever! — but I haven’t had a lot of goof-off time as a result. 

Act on the home project urges. So many ideas are coursing through my head, foremost among which is a special painting I’ve wanted to put together for our daughter. Hopefully I’ll afford the supplies and the time to paint it in time for her birthday. Otherwise, yeah…. still no money.

Paleo Meal Inspo #1

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Since meal planning is a perpetual source of frustration in my house — and I know I’m not alone — I figured I’d help others out with some of the meals we end up eating. There is no distinction between breakfast, lunch, or dinner when you eat nothing but meat/fish, vegetables, some fruit/nuts, and healthy fats.

The purpose of this is also so when (not if) I’m in another meal-planning rut, I can look back on this food journal of sorts and get some ideas… and get hungry.

 

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Fried rockfish, browned/sauteed Brussels sprouts, sauteed (until crisp) baby greens, butter

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Baked meatballs (grass-fed beef and ground turkey), steamed green beans, sweet potato hash, butter

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Sauteed cinnamon butternut squash, browned garlic Brussels sprouts, bacon pieces, butter

2017 Goals: Where Am I At?

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Has it been a month already? And then some, I guess, since we’re already a few days into February.

January was a nutso month. All the jobs I was assigned to were very long and difficult; so in spite of working less frequently, I felt like I was working harder than ever. Also, the paychecks ran out thanks to November’s work lull, and we are feeling the full effects. Praying it doesn’t last and that we can catch up soon.

I always hated February growing up because it was cold and dull and everybody managed to get really sick. This year is different. Not only is our collective immunity higher than it’s ever been, but our outlook has changed. Our relationships to God have grown a bit; our marriage is more mature; we can see light at the end of this dreary school-debt-work-struggle tunnel now that my hubby is about a year away from graduating. (It’s also his birthday in a few days and I still don’t have a plan! Help!)

Of course, this financial struggle may not end. I must check myself because my ultimate goal in this life cannot be financial security/stability. It’s a good thing for which we are hoping and praying, but it is not honoring to the Lord if we place our faith in that instead of Him. He alone provides everything, whether it be money or the feeling of security. However, we must meet Him on His terms for it, making personal holiness/Christlikeness our goal rather than placing all efforts toward an orderly life. It is important to be good stewards of what the Lord provides to us; thus we will continue pursuing a better situation than we are in. But whatever He gives will be out of His grace, whether it’s comfortable or not.

Anyway, I love pink roses and this is the best time of year to embellish my surroundings with them.

Contentment. The accountability of public posts on a blog is working. Lately every time I am about to complain or react to things in anger and frustration, I think about the fact that I am ultimately discontent with the Lord in the situation. Oof, that’s a punch in the gut, right?

Obtain Texas CSR license and RPR Certification; get familiar with my realtime software; proactively incorporate more briefs. Praise God! I flew to Texas for four days, took the test, and passed! I expect my actual license won’t come for another six weeks or so, but this is still something to celebrate. The minute we catch up on our bills, I will be registering for the RPR next. Now that I know I can handle 225 words per minute in a test situation, I’m not afraid to take it. Regarding briefs — that’s a term in my field that refers to shortening even further the shorthand we write in. I need to be faster to be a realtime streamer, and this simple technique can enable it… if I’m intentional about it.

Pay off credit cards, hubby’s student loans, and one car. So we are starting on a bad foot… a really bad foot. We have time to catch up, I think, but it’s killing the overachiever in me to be patient while we don’t climb out of the hole at my pace. This is a constant process of yielding up each situation to God.

Make music. Still haven’t touched my instruments yet; maybe I will if I finish scoping my current transcript (which is, hands down, the worst one I’ve ever had in my two-year career).

Act on the home project urges. Well, home projects require either money or time, often both. I had neither money nor time this last month, so I’ll try again in February. With springtime approaching, it’s a good time for cleaning stuff out and making the home more functional.

Favorite Passages: 2 Timothy 1:7-12

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2 Timothy 1:7-12

7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

(This one speaks for itself.)

8 Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,

(This is where it really counts for eternity, suffering in the name of Jesus because you are faithfully sharing His gospel.)

9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,

(We are chosen to be saved from God’s wrath out of love and according to a great, mysterious plan beyond our comprehensive capability. Our actions do not save us; rather, we cannot be saved by our actions, no matter how religious, good, widespread, effective, or admirable. We are all shameful sinners, and only repentance and faith in Jesus saves, nothing more and nothing less.)

10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

(God’s purpose and grace is now evident because we know He has sent Jesus to bear God’s wrath in our place. Now we are able to “see” that we can have life — eternal life! — by believing in the One whom death could not overcome.)

11 to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

(Thank goodness for Paul and his divinely inspired writings in Scripture.)

12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

(If Jesus is truly Lord in your life, you will be living in obedience and you will suffer to some degree. But you cannot let that stop you. Take your eyes off of man, look up, and see God. Put your confidence in Him, in His character. He will keep His promises because His name is Faithful.)

(Also, “For I Know Whom I Have Believed” is one of my favorite hymns.)

2017 Goals

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Another year has come and gone. Another year of challenges and joys. Another year we had each other. Another year further into the unknown. Another year closer to Jesus.

How much closer? 2017 is not guaranteed to anyone, myself included. So while this year’s goals are important to me, my days are still numbered, and that number could be much shorter than anyone expects. Not to sound morbid; depending on what hope you have — and mine is in Christ Jesus — living like you could lose your life any day helps you love others more deeply and effectively.  It detaches you from transient things and directs your mind and heart toward what matters to the Lord and, by extension, to us as well. When you are fixed on eternal things, it is easier to trust and obey Him. Joy and gratitude come more naturally. It gets you through the hard days months years.

This is what I want to develop even more in 2017: contentment and deep satisfaction with Jesus. Everything I need is found in Him. If I don’t find it in Him, I’m looking for the wrong thing in the wrong way with the wrong attitude.

Thank You, Lord, for 2016. Indeed, a lot of bad things happened around the world this last year. But very bad things happen every year, and very good things happen every year too. Nothing is beyond your control or outside of your infinitely complex, grand plan. Your gospel still saves; You and Your Word do not change throughout the years. Your truth and our hope remains. You are not slow concerning Your promises, as some would consider slowness, but You are patient toward us, toward me, not willing that anyone should perish but that we should come to repentance.

My formal goals for 2017:

Contentment. I have so many spiritual goals, but this one stands out the most. As a sinful human being, I won’t ever be perfectly content. This last year it seemed like God was really pressing me to be more content. My husband was His *ahem* faithful messenger. I hope to learn more about contentment; ultimately to know Jesus better, which is where contentment is found. And I cannot succeed in any other goal if I am not trusting Jesus to take me where He wills, especially if it means giving everything up for Him.

Obtain Texas CSR license and RPR Certification; get familiar with my realtime software. The Texas test is happening soon, so that goal will be met quickly… if I pass (and I’m studying hard!). The RPR test can be taken anytime and is similar to the Texas test; I hope to do it early in the year while I’m still in test mode, providing there aren’t major computer snafus. Learning my software, I feel, will be an unending endeavor, but it will be a necessary step to take if I want to increase my income and start realtime reporting by next year.

Pay off credit cards, hubby’s student loans, and one car. Any leftover money after taxes is going towards the credit cards, and then all extra is going to pay off our cheaper car. The housing allowance the hubs gets while in school is going toward his loans, which will likely be paid off (or close to it) by the time he graduates, Lord willing. That will be a longer process not finished this year, but it will be progress.

Make music. I have a fancy keyboard and a ukulele that I haven’t touched in months. Time to practice and bring a little more music into the home.

Act on the home project urges. I have materials that can be used if I invest a little time and creative thought. What good are ideas or clutter if I don’t put them together and improve my surroundings?

Maybe I’ll add stuff if it comes to mind. Happy New Year!

2016 Goals: Where Am I At?

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It’s the last month of 2016! My update is so late, I may as well wrap it all up right now.

I am going to take the Texas court reporter’s license exam in three weeks. Haven’t booked my flight or hotel yet, but I will likely do so next week. I haven’t even started studying or practicing for it. The plan is to get my mornings in order within the next few days so I can study before the little wakes up and the day is no longer mine. All current “free” time is spent on transcripts at home, so early mornings (read: early bedtimes) are my only good option.

(Ugh, I’ve been working on early mornings all year, but with no permanent results.)

My hubby is going back to school the first week of January after a nearly year-long break. While I am glad he will continue, we’ll be back to hiring babysitters again because he won’t be home. This will affect our income and, likely, home life. But we believe it’s God’s will for him to continue school; He hasn’t opened up any other doors for jobs or opportunities to move somewhere cheaper, and my husband felt drawn back to school when we visited some of the professors recently. There is a lot of difficult catch-up to be done, but he has new motives now and we are in a better place with each other, so I hope and pray it will be a little different this time around.

Christmas is tomorrow, and everything is in order — gifts are mailed out and wrapped, decorations are up, plans are solidifying, food is prepared. Preparation has been really enjoyable this year. What really helped is saving every $5 bill that came into my possession all year long. I had almost $400 cash stashed away, solely to be spent on Christmas things. It was so much fun getting some new decorations and not stressing about the cost. I try to keep gifts simple and meaningful, and this year I was able to be creative with some supplies I already had stowed away.

(I’m not sure how I will handle next Christmas. The $5 thing was nice at the end but really inconvenient at times earlier in the year. I’ll have to consult Pinterest later.)

We are all also seeing a holistic nutritionist these days, and she does not mess around! We are strictly paleo for the time being and not even allowed many paleo-legal foods like cocoa in any form. Yes, it’s hard. It’s Christmas, for goodness’ sake! But this doctor pointed out a lot of things about our health that are worse than we thought, so we are making changes. And it is temporary, I keep reminding myself. The more closely we follow her protocol now, the sooner we can correct some issues and return to a (hopefully) more normal way of eating.

  • Priority:  Start each day off with the Lord and remember that my life, my soul, and my loved ones depend on it. Wake up early; begin day in the Word and in prayer; and use extra alone-time to work out, shower, and start breakfast before the little wakes up. :: It will take an amount of discipline I just don’t have within myself to really get this down. I will keep working on it next year.
  • Give more: Give more of my time, my money, my energy, and my heart to others. :: I would say I met this goal this year. Not as much as I could have, but my heart was more in it than it ever has been, and I want to keep going. We agreed that we should tithe every week at church, and I have seized many opportunities to give to others. 
  • Make our home a pleasant place to live in:  Simplify by getting rid of unused items; efficiently organize what we keep; make what we have more comfortable; and creatively decorate on a budget. :: Our home is surely more comfortable and put-together than it ever has been, but that’s because of dual effort between me and the hubby. He actually does more with the furnishing. Bit by bit, we have gotten rid of things we don’t use or need. There is much still to be done, but it is better than it was this time last year.
  • Pay off debt: Put an end to our consumer debts and start chipping away at our student loan debt. :: We didn’t make our goals with this this year (and it takes very proactive trust in the Lord on my part to not be a control freak about it), but we made a plan for the next two years. The hubs and I are on the same page, so, Lord willing, we’ll make headway with our debt.
  • T-Tapp program: Therapeutically approach my fitness with T-Tapp, yoga, and daily walking. :: Ever since we started seeing the nutritionist and changed our diet, my knee pain has nearly vanished! There is still a hint of pain, but I am able to exercise without feeling like I’m making it worse. And my energy has been super, so I’ve been more consistent with T-Tapp and yoga; not the walking yet.
  • Overhaul wardrobe: Create a capsule wardrobe as nice as my budget will allow. :: I spent a couple hundred on my winter wardrobe. I wouldn’t say it is complete yet, but it is much more comfortable this year.
  • RPR: Plan to take the last RPR of 2016! No idea what this actually looks like yet, but I will start planning soon. :: Nope, this didn’t work out. The Texas test took priority. But I will try for the RPR in 2017 after the Texas test and will treat myself to my own personalized business cards as a reward when I pass.

God bless, and Merry Christmas! I will be studying and practicing a lot between now and mid-January, but I will try to find a time to sit down and think about what I’d like to work toward in 2017. I’m finding it interesting how my priorities are changing as each year goes on.

2016 Goals: Where Am I At?

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October was a lovely month. The weather cooled off and we even got a few days of rain. I’ve spent some money on winter clothing for my daughter, and soon it will be my turn. I just need to plan ahead because clothes shopping with a small child nearly kills me every time I try. We went trick-or-treating on Halloween with Grandpa and Auntie and had a lot of fun. The next day we went to the zoo and got to see about a third of it before our small child pooped out and started melting down. We’ve just been spending more time as a family and everyone is happier for it.

I can’t believe we’re near the end of 2016. The presidential election has finally passed and we can move on. My plans for the next few years wouldn’t have changed — pay off debt so we can have more kids and move somewhere less expensive!

Work has kept me incredibly busy. I hit my first personal record on Monday: 472 transcript pages due and turned in in one day! I still have 70 more pages, but thankfully they’re not due for another week. After a string of late nights (and the time change is not helping) I’m taking it easy and focusing on my long-term work-related goals. Today, in fact, I will be reaching out and deciding once and for all whether I’m going through with certain pursuits.

What do the holidays hold in store as of now? Lots of studying. But I will make sure to have baking days, ice skating days, and Christmas craft/gift days any chance I get!

  • Priority:  Start each day off with the Lord and remember that my life, my soul, and my loved ones depend on it. Wake up early; begin day in the Word and in prayer; and use extra alone-time to work out, shower, and start breakfast before the little wakes up. :: The hubs and I started weekly biblical marriage counseling last month. Through this I have been reading and studying different passages at our counselor’s direction. It is all making such a wonderful difference in our life. 
  • Give more: Give more of my time, my money, my energy, and my heart to others. :: I enjoyed the opportunities I had to give this last month!
  • Make our home a pleasant place to live in:  Simplify by getting rid of unused items; efficiently organize what we keep; make what we have more comfortable; and creatively decorate on a budget. :: The dog ATE a couple of our pumpkins, so there are fewer of them now. I am barely managing to keep the house vacuumed once a week, but I am gearing up to revamp my spice cabinet, which will soon be a magnetic spice wall.
  • Pay off debt: Put an end to our consumer debts and start chipping away at our student loan debt. :: We’re getting ready to pay off another card. It would be super awesome to have all our cards paid off by the end of the year. We COULD do it, but I don’t want to use up our safety cushion. We’ll see how big the next couple paychecks are.
  • T-Tapp program: Therapeutically approach my fitness with T-Tapp, yoga, and daily walking. :: Even T-Tapp was starting to hurt my problem knee, so I’m doing 10 minutes of super easy yoga each day. I feel good, but I need to get to bed earlier.
  • Overhaul wardrobe: Create a capsule wardrobe as nice as my budget will allow. :: Maybe this weekend I will ask the hubs to hold down the fort while I just go out and shop, shop, shop! Veterans Day sales!
  • RPR: Plan to take the last RPR of 2016! No idea what this actually looks like yet, but I will start planning soon. :: No more time to plan! It’s do or die! Stay posted — maybe by next month’s update I will have already taken it!