Monday, April 30, 2012

How to Be Rich - Part One

According to this blog about blogs that I read, I have to provide value to people if I expect them to read it. Makes sense. How's this for value? In today's entry, I am going to teach you HOW TO BE RICH. I'm not exactly qualified to do this, because I'm not rich, BUT... I'm on my way. ;-) And "rich" and "poor" aren't income brackets, they are a set of practices and a state of mind. I know people who make 6 figures, are in debt, and have nothing left at the end of the month. They are poorer than me, at least in my opinion. Anyway, onto the lesson.

STEP #1... Okay, before I even give you step number one, I need to make sure that you're going to read it. Because it seems like it's "not about money," but I guarantee if you follow all of the other steps, EXCEPT step one, you'll still be poor. Okay, ready?

STEP #1 - Appreciate all of the things you have
I live in a really small house. It's about 750 square feet and cost us less than $55,000. But it's pretty nice, I love the neighborhood, and the payments are insanely reasonable. Everything works (most of the time), I can afford to heat it and cool it, it has an extra bedroom for when the baby comes and a nice yard. I could go on and on. OR I could have stop with the first two sentences. Beyond the things you have that cost money, appreciate all of the blessings you have that money can't buy you. A loving family, a job you like, a relationship with Jesus... Appreciate those things, and you'll immediately feel richer, which is a quick win. This step always includes a point where you stop whining about what you don't have. No one cares that you wish you had hair extensions or a PS3. Those are luxuries. On the other hand, people might not care about even your basic needs, like food or shelter, if you spent all your money on hair extensions or a PS3. Which brings us to...

STEP #2 - Realize that you "need" very little
We all buy crap we don't need. Even me. You run to the gas station, fill up your car, and grab a soda. You just wasted a $1.50. I think sometimes people don't realize how little you truly need to survive. You need food and water, shelter, clothing, air to breathe... ya... that's by definition kind of it. If you're confused about this, please let me clarify...


Okay, great. That's out of my system, and we should now be on the same page. I will freely admit that I am all about treating yourself to any and all of these items... once you can afford it. Which brings us to...

STEP #3 - If you're on a payment plan, you can't afford it (exception - mortgage)
When Nate and I were newly, newly weds I bought a new laptop. Mine wasn't working well, I had just got a new job that paid well, and so I bought it and paid for it upfront. That's most people's definition of "affording it." But here's the ugly side of that - the money I had used for the laptop, we really needed for other things (groceries, bills, etc.), so some of that stuff had to go on the credit card. So, yes, I could pay for the laptop... but I couldn't afford it. My little sister's Christmas gift that year was that stinkin' laptop for a ridiculously good price, so I could cut some of my losses.

Credit card lenders, car salespeople, the dude at Best Buy, your mortgage lender... they are not your friends. Not even a little bit. You need to realize this RIGHT NOW. While I'm on this topic... If you're getting a loan, for anything (I just told you not to, if you're directly disobeying me...) NEVER TELL SOMEONE HOW MUCH YOU CAN AFFORD A MONTH. Ever. Don't do it. These people aren't your buddies or helping you out. They are making money off you. More money, if you're stupid.

I think this is enough for part one... Hope you've enjoyed this section of "How to Be Rich." Stay tuned for more advice on How to Be Rich. ;-)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Good, The Bad, The Rockstar

I know some of you have been checking out my blog for a while now, but a lot of you are new to the haphazard/comical/inspiring madness that is Proverbs 31 Rockstar. So I did a brief Q&A to answer some of your most-asked questions!*

*Both the Questions and Answers are from me. Maybe a few more likes and someone would actually want to interview me. ;-)

Question: Why is your blog called Proverbs 31 Rockstar?
Answer: When I first got married, I started to panic. Good Christian wives cook, bake, clean, iron, do laundry, look pretty (in a long denim skirt - impossible), and produce offspring in mass quantities, and I was pretty much failing in all of those areas. I tried to "fake it" but I spent more time leaning on my washer and dryer, vacuum, and stove crying than I spent actually using them for their intended purposes. When I revisited Proverbs 31 in the Bible, it opened my eyes to what it really means to be a good wife and Christian woman, apart from apple pies and organ-playing. I want my blog to empower women (or men or anyone) to be a Proverbs 31 woman without letting go of who God made them to be... a rockstar!

Question: Why should I read your blog/like your fan page/follow you on Twitter/re-post the nonsense you write.
Answer: First of all, how dare you call my writing nonsense. Secondly, I have outlined the top three reasons you should do all of the above.

1.) You need me.
This may not be entirely true. But like maybe a little bit. I can definitely provide humor to your life. Maybe a little inspiration. If nothing else, maybe you'll be thankful that you're not as crazy as me. See, those are three really positive values that I can bring to your life. But basically, I write honestly, openly, and about things I really care about... money, faith, relationships, and other things that affect everyone. So even if you don't like or agree with every entry, I'd love to hear your opinion, and I'd love you to keep reading.

2.) I need you.
This is probably actually more true than the first reason. Last night, I (quite on accident) found out that people actually like to read my blog. While trying to sign in and write a new entry, I stumbled on the analytics for my page and saw that my blog had 599 page views. You like me, you really like me! But when I chuckled about it in disbelief to my husband, he was really amazingly positive and encouraged me to do more. Which means a lot. Because he's the kind of guy when I prompt him with "Do you think I look nice today?" he actually carefully inspects me and answers honestly. So he's not one for flattery. But honestly, I am considering attempting to get some of my work published. To get a non-fiction piece published, most publishers would want to see that you've had a successful presence in social media already, so in the least creepy way I can manage... PLEASE, PLEASE LIKE ME AND GET OTHER PEOPLE TO LIKE ME!

3.) I'm (kind of) super qualified.
This one is probably the least true. But, from the writing perspective, I have a Bachelor's in English, work as a marketing copywriter, and have written several pieces for local magazines. From the Christian perspective, I struggle daily but passionately attempt to follow God - and write about it whether I succeed or fail. Oh, and I like to write about money and budgets. I have more budgets than money... but making progress on that every day too. And I write about my husband who is way nicer and funnier than me. If he ever picked up a pen, I'd be in trouble. So ya, that pretty much rounds out my qualifications.

Question: I'm not a wife. Or a woman. Or even a Christian.
Answer: That's not a question... that's a statement. But I'll "answer" it anyway. You don't need to be a wife or a woman or a Christian to appreciate this blog. I definitely have several readers who are none of the above. I write about many aspects of life. So really, if you're living, I think you'd be a great reader for my blog! ;-)

So in conclusion... Read my blog. Share my blog. Promote it, so I can stop this creepy self-promotion thing I'm on right now.

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

The 5% - Double-dunked

The church has this big, fancy word called sanctification, which is different from salvation. In layman's terms, salvation is the point where you accept Jesus as your savior, decide to follow him, and repent of your sins.

Sanctification is giving Jesus the dreaded last 5%. That 5% you cling to, that Dale gave an awesome message on yesterday at Assembly. In the words of a song by Meatloaf, "You would do anything for love... but you wouldn't do that." Sanctification is praying for those people that are the hardest for you to pray for - the ones you get a little nauseated after you pray for them (is that just me?). Sanctification is accepting that you'll never be comfortable again because God will use you, work through you, and generally not let you settle into comfortable stagnation.

I am a pretty awesome 95% Christian. I give weekly to the church, I volunteer for student ministry and other outreaches, I live fiscally responsible, I don't drink... I'm pretty sure Jesus is somewhere in heaven gagging right now at that statement. But when it comes to being a 100% Christian though, I struggle. Jesus, I want to serve you, but there's no way you can expect me to do that without a solid 401K and health insurance. And I want to stay in the Peoria area. And I only eat the green M&Ms. The next few blog entries I write are going to be the story of giving up the 5%... beginning with the double-dunk baptism of 2005.

An unfortunate illustration of my struggle with the 5% was my baptism in 2005. I was so ready. I had prayerfully considered it, decided it was my next step, and was ready to go that day. The water was surprisingly warmer than I had hoped, and Dale was surprisingly nicer than I had hoped. ;-) Here's where the problem starts... I'm in the water, the words are said, Dale grabs my hand leans my head back... and with my nose, mouth, and forehead still slightly above water, I panicked and tensed my entire body and began to pull myself back up out of the water. Dale, being the compassionate Pastor he is, pushed me down for the "double-dunk" to make sure I was good and baptized. The video below is a dramatic representation of how the events unfolded.

I'm still not sure why I tensed up that day. I wasn't scared of water... or baptism... I didn't doubt that it was the right choice... or even that I'd come back up. I think I just wanted to keep my 5%. Over the next few blog entries, I'm going to talk about my journey to give up the last 5%...which unfortunately took a rather unprecedented six and a half years from that point.