Challenge Days 3 & 4: Perspective & Provide

Apparently March is going out like a lion. On Sunday night, winter doled out a sucker punch of a winter storm to the Fargo Moorhead area, complete with 40 mph winds and blowing snow. In my mission to choose joy, I embraced my Monday snow day with open arms, drinking coffee, reading and spending an afternoon snuggled up with the hubby watching TV.

Now it’s Tuesday and I am at work, plugged back into the world and choosing joy … as long as it involves spring, warmer weather and no more blizzards. I’m also catching up from yesterday with two challenges in one blog.

Day 3: Change Your Perspective
From a very wise fellow stepmom: “Your challenge is to start trying to see these kids not as an extension of your husband or their mom, but as gifts from God. You were placed in their life for a reason and every day you have with them is a chance to give them something no one else can — give them your time today and your wholehearted attention.”

As I’ve said before, it’s easy to get bogged down in the murkiness of it all. Now don’t get me wrong, every once in a while, it’s perfectly okay to wallow (not that I would ever do that … just don’t ask my husband). But overall my perspective as a stepmom (and as a human being for that matter) has to change. Because God put Tayden in my life for a reason. So that’s why, to recycle an old blog, I choose joy.

Day 4: Provide for your littles.
One of the hardest things in any relationship, are finances. To be honest, it’s a continual learning experience for Adam and me. We want nothing more than to be good examples for T and for our future children (note the word FUTURE and do not get excited). That includes making financially sound decisions for our family.

Adam and I made a pact when we were first married to combine everything and adopt the “what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours” mentality. I know this may not work for everyone, but for us, it really does. It keeps us accountable and open with one another.

This also meant combining our debts … of which there were many thanks to my private school education (don’t worry Concordia, I still love you). For the first year, we paid the minimums on each one and looked forward to the day when they would all be gone. Then, about a year into our marriage, we decided to make a more concentrated effort to be debt free. We compiled all our stuff and picked the one with the lowest balance and began our financial challenge. With each payoff, we took the minimum amount and added it to the next financial hurdle, snowballing our resources to pay our debt off more quickly.

We’re almost two years into our decision and we haven’t looked back. We don’t go out to eat regularly, we use coupons and happy hour specials always and we pinch pennies wherever we can. We have paid off all of Adam’s credit cards, four of his student loans and one of mine. We still have a long way to climb, but we’re doing it together.

First hockey game!

In our road to being debt free, however, there were two things we agreed upon. 1) We may pinch pennies, but one of those pinched pennies would not be our church giving. God has richly blessed us and we continue to give back just a portion of that to Him. 2) We wouldn’t stop from having fun with T. We still go on family trips (I’m in love with hotels.com), we buy surprise gifts for him at the store every once in a while and we have family nights out. Just this past Friday, we took him to his first hockey game.

We also have made it a point to teach T about making sound financial decisions for himself. For each amount of money he receives (whether it be a birthday gift, a holiday card, or just grandma spoiling him rotten), he puts a dollar into a Sponge Bob bucket, which he brings to church. He puts another dollar into a Spiderman bucket, which he keeps for college. The rest of the money is his to do with as he wants. (While I’d really love to claim this ideas as my own, it actually came from a colleague … but trust me, it works!)

We have also worked to teach T that money can be used to bless others. We wait until weekends when he’s here to pick out birthday presents and cards. This past weekend, he picked out a beautiful green bracelet for his aunt all on his own (okay maybe with Adam’s help) while I was off getting some groceries.

It’s the little things like this that help him understand how to show love for others. It’s also a way that I can show love to him, whether it be picking up his favorite strawberry milk for dinner, getting him a sucker at the store or letting him pick out the movie for family movie night. It’s small things like this that help him not only see that he is loved, but help him show love to those around him.

 

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