Monday, July 27, 2009

Camping and Blueberries

On the fourth of July weekend, Vance decided to take Isaac camping. It was a pretty low-risk, entry-level camping trip, where they hiked about 50 ft from the back door, settting up camp in the wilds of the green area out back. Vance guessed that it took Isaac a good two hours or so to settle down from all the excitement, but they had a GREAT time. I finally opened the back door around 9:30 (no early rising campers here, I guess) to get them up for breakfast. When Isaac walked in the door his first words were, "we went on such a GREAT camping trip!" I think they'll do it again...and maybe they'll even make s'mores next time!
This is a bit more recent (this morning)...I couldn't resist snapping a shot of my messy girl. I'd say she liked my blueberry syrup! :)

We are doing well--I'm still recovering from my weird ear infection/head cold/chronic headaches, but as long as I'm jacked up on ibuprofen, I'm able to pack all right. We're looking forward to having Vance back home tomorrow after his conference in St. Louis, and we're gearing up for our big move out. It still doesn't quite feel real...
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Wanting a little more....

If you've spent some time around my dad, chances are pretty good that you've heard the story of Henry Ford being interviewed at the height of his fame and wealth. A reporter astutely asked him about his growing auto empire, "Mr. Ford, how much is enough?" To which Ford replied wryly, "Just a little bit more."

Too true, and too easily backed up by statistics. I read a while back about a surprising survey that was taken, asking Americans what their ideal income would be. Regardless of class or income, Americans typically said that they wanted about 10% more than the salary they currently made. Not many people said they wanted to be instant millionares, the poorest didn't want a leg up into the upper class, and likewise, even the wealthy wanted more than what they had.

And I see the proof in my own life. We're making the transition from a below-poverty-line salary to a more "normal" salary, and already I'm starting to feel the tuggings on my heart. It's very easy to justify the things I want--they're not extreme, most of my friends have those things, and after all, I just want a little bit more. Right? Right?

For the last six years, I have felt a whole lot of grace on the "wanting more" front. Don't get me wrong--I've definitely had days where I wanted a washer & dryer, or a garage, or whatever the current issue was. That's been there. But overall, we have been very happy as we've lived on our little income, in our little house. We've watched God provide, and seen him turn not-quite-enough into an abundance. But now, with the possibility of expanding our lifestyle comes a bit of a sense of foreboding: will I be satisfied with a little more, or will I keep pushing the envelope?

In contrast, we have friends who have made a serious and very practical commitment to living out Jesus' and Paul's encouragement to give generously. Years ago, they decided what they needed to live on, and gave themselves a salary cap. Whatever they make over that predetermined figure, they give away. That sounds nice, doesn't it? But it starts to hit home a little deeper when you start crunching the numbers. I don't know exactly what their annual income is, but I know what they live on, and my guess is that they give 50% or more of their gross income away. They are living very simply--sacrificially--so that they can give to people in real need. I know they still struggle with some of the same "I want more" emotions that I do...but they are putting that greed to death in a way that I have seen few others do.

That doesn't mean that I must spend the rest of my life without a dishwasher, but it does mean that I am motivated to think more in terms of how I can be at work meeting the real needs of the world around me, and less in terms of that little upgrade that I think will make me happy. Because, in the end, the only lasting treasures are the ones you send ahead of you to heaven.

"Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have." - Hebrews 13:5

Monday, July 20, 2009

Home Sweet Rental

Looks like this will be our residence for the next 5 months or so! We're grateful to have found a place that will allow a short lease. To be honest, it's hard to remember a lot about the house, since we saw 16 the day we were looking :). But I'm sure it will be a step up from our 700 sq ft. of married student housing. I'm excited about having a washer and dryer. And a garage. And a dishwasher. And an extra bedroom :) I'm not as thrilled about living right in the heart of cookie-cutter suburbia, but I'm getting over that. And really, for so short a time, I'd be willing to live most anywhere.

I'm very behind in my posts....still haven't put up pictures from our Boundary Waters trip in late May...but it's been a bit difficult to be motivated to blog when there are so many boxes needing to be packed. We've been busy, though! With so many wonderful friends wanting to have us over before we leave, I haven't been cooking very much (only about twice a week), and we've been having lots of fun seeing everyone.

This weekend Vance and I took a belated 5th anniversary trip to Red Wing, which was so relaxing. I feel spoiled to have two weekends in a row alone with my husband, but this one was definitely the most enjoyable of the two. We had nothing on the agenda except eating, sleeping, and enjoying one another's company. I know we're not going to have a lot of free time while Vance is getting acclimated to his new responsibilities, so it was an especially sweet weekend.

Yesterday Vance's advisor hosted a goodbye cookout on Pleasant Lake. The kids (as per their usual) enjoyed scavenging off the buffet table, but the highlight of the evening was Isaac's first canoe ride. Stan let the boys use his canoe, and Isaac had a complete blast! He even paddled pretty well, which surprised me. It was pretty cute to watch them paddling around, since the front third of the canoe was out of the water most of the time. When Vance got him out from shore, Isaac said, "We're not going back to the beach, are we, Daddy?" He got two trips, and would have loved a third.

I'll post more soon, but right now I've got an ear infection, so I think I need to lay low for a bit--experiencing this makes me glad that neither of my children have ever had ear infections!