Thursday, December 30, 2010

How Dave Ramsey & Financial Peace University Changed My LIfe

I don't know about you but I was 22 years old when I got married. I wasn't always one for thinking ahead. I had worked several jobs through my college life and I was holding down a job at the time. I was also in very little debt and had the blissful feeling right before entering repayment on my student loans. I thought I had everything under control when it came to money....dunt dunt duh....then I got married.

Not only does getting married change who you are as a person, it changes every other part of your life! I married the man of my dreams but it was more than that. I married into his family. I married into his ministry. I married into his money (or lack there of -- which was more like it). I also married into his debt.

Now Jimmy and I are a unique case. For personal reasons that I won't get into here, Jimmy has a lot of unresolved debt due to theft of his identity as a small child and mounting student loans. Thankfully, he told me about all this before we got married or we could have had WAY more financial problems than we did. As it was, we only had so much income and no plan to make it work, but we had credit cards!

We used our credit cards for a few little extras on our honeymoon and then we paid some of it off. We thought we were fine. Then Jimmy was told he only had four months left of his job and we began to panic. We scrimped and we saved and we put away birthday money and Christmas money. No fun for us that year. By the time the deadline rolled around we had $2000 in savings. I still had a job and I took on another and another. We thought we would be okay, but five months later our savings were gone, our credit cards were almost maxed out, I was working three jobs, Jimmy was still searching, and we still had no plan. It was stressful and frightening! Not to mention all the stress it can put on a new marriage! But we were not alone.

According to USA Today money is one of the top 3 marriage stressers out there. So what are you going to do about it?

In July, I was let go from one of my photography jobs and as a last resort applied to a job as a night monitor at the Missouri Baptist Children's Home. It's not what I wanted and if I got it we would have to leave our wonderful apartment in South County to move to a considerably less desireable (but more affordable) apartment in North County but I had no other hope. I got the job.

In August, we moved to Bridgeton and I started work. While I was in training I learned about Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University (FPU). God knew what he was doing when He brought me to the Children's Home and put me in Amy's (a die hard Dave fan) training class. As it turned out, Amy taught the FPU class at Ridgecrest Baptist Church. By the end of training, I was desperate to find out more about this class and I knew exactly who to go to.

When class started in September, I had a new job and so did Jimmy. We were prepared to hope that our situation could be different if we were ready to make drastic changes. We eagerly sucked up all the facts and techniques that Dave was willing to teach us and began trying to put them into practice. It was really hard at first and we were frustrated, but we knew where we would be if we quit. By the end of FPU, we had completed Baby Step #1: Put $1000 into an Emergency Fund and had begun Baby Step #2: Pay off Debt Using the Debt Snowball Method. Here we are a little over 3 years later and our life is so different!

Yes, we are still on Baby Step #2 but we have paid off more than $7,000 worth in debt with our limited incomes (guess what ministry doesn't pay much and we both have ministry jobs!). We also live by a budget that we actually know how to make work! We fight less about money (unless someone is just having a greedy or selfish moment). But best of all we have HOPE for the future. Yes, at times things still seem overwhleming, but we have a plan. I know that if we stay the course or do better than planned then we will be debt free (except student loans) in September of 2013. That means that just 6 years from starting we will have paid off more than $75,000 in debt with interest probably closer to $100,000. I think that's pretty remarkable.

I thank God for showing us how to find financial freedom. I thank God for Amy who God used to show us the way. I thank God for Dave Ramsey who God used to give us the tools, and I thank God for my husband, Jimmy, who has been with me all the way.

To find out how Financial Peace University can change your life, visit or find a class near you!

this blog is dedicated to Shaina Rubin, Dustin Underwood, Shelby Conn, Kevin Little, and all people getting ready to start a new life together. may you get your marriages started off with the strong foundation and tools you need to make life easier and to help your marriages thrive.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Voices of the Faithful: Book 2

This week, I am reviewing "Voices of the Faithful Book 2". If you love the first "Voices of the Faithful" book--like I do--you won't be disappointed by the second volume!


"Voices of the Faithful Book 2" is a compilation of devotions written by Southern Baptist Missionaries who serve through the International Mission Board (IMB). They have been called by God and assigned by the IMB to reach the unreached people groups of the world. Many IMB missionaries wrote devotions for this book that tell stories of the work God is doing among their people group and in their own lives as well. The "Voices of the Faithful Book 2" is designed to be a read (one devotion at a time) for a whole year.


"Voices of the Faithful Book 2" is well-written. The stories are moving and very eye-opening. I particularly like that their is a specific prayer at the end of the devotion which relates to what you have just read rather than being something generic. I felt it lived up to my expectations as someone who has already read and loved "Voices of the Faithful". I also appreciate that the identity of individuals working in high risk areas has been concealed but you don't lose the personal connections in their stories. Hearing about the work of these foreign missionaries will make you smile, laugh, and cry! You never truly know what it's like to give up everything and go serve God in a place that is totally foreign to you until you actually do it, but "Voices of the Faithful Book 2" brings the experience and emotions a bit closer to home.

I give "Voices of the Faithful Boook 2" 4.5 out of 5 stars!

This book was a free copy provided to me by Thomas Nelson Publishing for review purposes.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tangled Web of Emotions

I don't know about you, but for me today was one of those days when my emotions took me on a whirlwind ride. I was happy. I was sad. I cried and cried and cried some more. It started early in the morning and lasted all day. I was an emotional wreck and there seemed nothing that I could do about it.

I wanted to share with you this little clip of Patsy Clairmont. She is one of the funniest Christian speakers I know and I relate to her. She speaks in a way that I can understand and that touches my heart. In this clip she talks a little about emotions. I wanted to find the full clip but wasn't able to, but if you want to hear more you can always check out her book I Second that Emotion.

Anyway, the most important point she makes is that God created us to have all these different emotions and He accepts us no matter our emotional state. God wraps His arms around me on days like today when I can't stop crying because we had another unsuccessful month of trying to get pregnant and all hope seems lost. He rejoices with me when I am over joyed with a great personally victory and He is there with me at every emotional stop in between. Nothing I can do will surprise Him. There is no emotion I can have that His own Son did not experience (although I know Jesus handled all his without sinning!).

Prayer for today:
Thank you, God, for creating me with the full range of emotions. Thank you for being there with me as I go through these emotions. Please help me to share my joys with others and allow others to build me up when my emotions are not so good. Most of all, God, help me to cast all my cares and emotions on You.  Amen.

Monday, December 13, 2010


December is a month of birthdays in our circle of friends and acquaintances. My birthday was the 4th, my husband's the 5th, Dustin's the 1st, Rebeccah's the 13th, Shelby's the 19th, and most importantly Jesus' on the 25th! There are five or six others that I don't even have the time to mention, but you get the picture. It seems like everyday we have something or someone new to celebrate. For some of us, like Nicholas and Noriah, we celebrate new milestones as they turn 2. For others like Aunt Steiny we celebrate a full life as she turns 70 on the 29th. I was thinking about this today and one particular verse came to my mind...

"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 'The LORD is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in Him.'" Lamentations 3:22-24 ESV

Especially in December I can find myself getting so caught up in what I am doing, what I want to do, what I still have to do, and the next thing to celebrate that I lose track of the things that really matter. I should be celebrating the Christ of Christmas everyday because His love and His mercies are new EVERY morning. They are perfect and without end. It's no wonder that we are commanded to, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thess. 5:16-18 ESV)

So admist this season of rejoicing and celebrating don't forget to enjoy the gifts of God's unfailing love which is new every morning and to rejoice always for this is the will of God.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dragon Spell is Spell Binding

DragonSpell (Dragon Keepers Chronicles, Book 1)When I was browsing the shelves of my local bookstore, I was first drawn to Dragonspell because of the cover art. I love enchantments, fantasy, dragons and adventure. This book looked perfect for me! Within the first few paragraphs I knew I was right. I was going to love this book and I do!

The Dragon Keeper Chronicles, the first of which is Dragonspell, by Donita K. Paulcenters around a former slave girl named Kale and the many friends she meets along her journeys. This book was originally written for grades 4-8, but I was 23 years old the first time I read it and enjoyed it just as much. I just couldn't put the book down. I have since read all of the Dragon Keeper Chronicles and I was very sad when the series came to an end.

The adventures are legendary! The characters are easy to relate to, and you just can't wait for more. The best part is that the books also teach you valuable lessons about faith and purpose as you follow the will of your master and creator.

This book is a must read for the entire family!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Background by Lecrea & C-Lite

"For however exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." Matthew 23:12

This morning I was listening to the song "Background" by Lecrea and C-Lite that my friend Sarah shared on Facebook. I love Lecrea but I wasn't really expecting the song to speak to me today but it did. The whole point of the song is putting Jesus first and letting Him take the lead in your life rather than trying to be the focus yourself. In the second verse Lecrea says,

"So, just let me shadow you. And just let me trace your lines.
Matter fact just take my pen.
Here, you create my rhymes.
Cuz if I do this by myself I'm scared that I'll succeed.
And no longer trust in You, cuz I only trust in me.
And see, that's how you end up headed to destruction."

I feel like that I have been there many times. How many times have things been going good and I have been so eager to take credit for my life? How often do I forget that my blessings are coming from God when things are easy sailing? It's just so easy to get full of yourself!

Then the song get's to the bridge:

"I know I'm safest when I'm in your will and trust your word.
And I know I'm dangerous when I trust myself; my vision blurred.
And I ain't got no time to play life's foolish games.
Got plenty aims but do they really glorify your name.
And its a shame the way I want to do these things for you, yeah.
Don't even cling to you. Take time to sit and glean from you.
And its seems that you are patient in my ignorance.
If ignorance is bliss, its cuz she never heard of this"

 It's powerful and overwhelming to think about giving God the complete control He should have. That's the whole point! We can best glorify God and be like God when we allow Him to fully takeover our lives. I want to be able to voluntarily say that "I could play the background" and some days are better than others. For now I am striving to get to the point that my live shouts that every SINGLE day! Each day I want to be more and more like Christ. I want to give up more control so that I can truly be like Him. You too can play the background if you will follow Christ.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday Traditions

Christmas TreeIt's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Last night I dragged our tree and trimmings out of the basement, cranked up the Christmas music, and started preparing our apartment for the most celebrated holiday of the season. In our house we have a funny little holiday tradition that has developed over the four (going on five) years of our marriage.

Every year, I prepare the place where our tree will "live" for coming weeks. In our current apartment that means I have to haul the loveseat into the spare room/office to make room for the tree. I then get out the bins containing all of our Christmas decorations and turn on some Christmas music -- preferably Bing Crosby to start. Then Jimmy settles down Jimmy sleeping while I assemble tree into his oversized recliner and falls to sleep while I piece together the tree that was given to us our first Christmas together. Once the tree and the lights are up (I put the lights on as I go), Jimmy rouses and we put our ornaments and tinsel on the tree. Each year we each buy an ornament to be our ornament of the year. When we bring them home, I write the corresponding initials and year somewhere on the ornament.

It's funny to see our collection of ornaments. We have the glass balls that we bought to fill the tree as we continued to accumulate ornaments year after year. Then we have the chosen ornaments... Jimmy has an ornament for each of his favorite sports teams--St. Louis Cardinals, KC Royals, KC Chiefs, and UCONN Huskies--and R2D2. My ornaments have primarily been Care Bears but last year I did get a Sleeping Beauty ornament. We also have a few that were given to us by family and friends. We have a great time remembering why we chose the ornaments and the memories from Christmases past as we hang the ornaments on the tree.

Once the ornaments are hung, Jimmy puts the star on top. Then we turn off the lights and cuddle up in Jimmy's recliner watching the tree and listening to the music and we are truly happy.

Jimmy and Christiana Mustion
I know that putting up a tree, decorating with lights, and getting presents isn't what Christmas is really all about but spending this time enjoying each other and our family traditions helps us to focus on the Christ in Christmas.