Friday Roundup

I don’t know about all of you, but I have got a busy busy busy weekend planned! My husband is playing drums tonight for a “welcome home” concert for a local American Idol contestant. Words can’t express how proud I am of him; he and the other band members have all practiced so hard….and it’s estimated that 7,000 people will be attending tonight!  Then on Sunday our Hispanic church band (which my husband and I are both a part of) will be performing at a local theme park. Which means Saturday will be filled with getting music equipment ready, last minute practices, and quite possibly a little too much chocolate on my part.

But for those of you who have a less busy weekend ahead, here is a quick round-up of some amazing posts I have read over the past few days:

Sheila at To Love, Honor and Vacuum wrote a great post about Developing a Vision for your Family. Not only was the post full of great information, but Sheila also included a free downloadable worksheet to help get your family started on creating your vision.

One thing I love is missions. I was able to go on a mission trip to Peru in high school and it was a life changing experience for me. Roo at Neon Fresh recently visited Guatemala with World Vision and did an excellent series of blog posts last week: Hope in an Unexpected Place, Loving a Child that is not My Own, and Take it with You.

Kristen at We are THAT Family posted yesterday 7 Habits of a Hot Marriage in the Middle of Monotony . We don’t have kids yet, but we certainly understand what it’s like to get too caught up in the monotony of life (especially on busy weekends like this!!) She also wrote a great post about how to protect your home from digital invasion. Back away from the smart phones people, back away.

Jennifer at Unveiled Wife stomped all over my toes with her post Is it True? “Happy Wife, Happy Life?” God definitely convicted my heart on quite a few things while I read this one!

And if you’ve missed out on any of our Proverbs 31 study, you can check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5. I had some technical difficulties this past Wednesday and could not get the post up until later that evening, so you may have missed Part 5 where I covered the topic of fear.

 

I hope all of you have a great and safe weekend!!!  🙂

 

Smart Things People Say

I know I’ve posted before on a certain co-worker who enjoys calling 1-800 numbers every day. Well, that post was written over eight months ago, so allow me to bask in the glory of my wonderfully intelligent co-workersm for a moment.

Please understand, I love people. I love my co-workers. But sometimes they can say some pretty dumb stuff. (And yes, I realize that I can be that person sometimes too.) Then there are others that kind of make you turn your head sideways and wonder where their brain ran off to and if it plans on ever returning.

Case in point:

My workplace has decided to replace the sinks with automatic faucets in an effort to “conserve water and be more sanitary.” Read: it’s the end of the fiscal year and somebody has some extra money they need to spend. Anyways, they started with our training office before making their way to my building. While attending training last week, a certain fellow employee made the following comment to me, “Don’t put your purse in the sink, it’ll get wet. Everything that goes in that sink gets wet.”

O.o   Huh???

In my past experiences, sinks are used to wash things….with WATER. So in their natural environment, they generally are a little wet.

I of course just politely nodded my head and thanked her for the warning. I then promptly wrote a Facebook status about the incident.

To make things worse, a few days later I was back at my building using the restroom when the same employee entered the bathroom with a friend. “Oh no, they’ve installed the automatic faucets in this bathroom too. Now I won’t be able to put my purse in the sink in here either. You better make sure you don’t put yours in there, it’ll get wet.” 

Please understand that it took every ounce of my self-control to keep my reaction at an unhearable level. I then exited the bathroom and then wrote another Facebook status. Also, please know that the bathroom counters in our bathroom are ridiculously large, so it’s not like you would require more space for your purse to sit. Unless of course, your purse is the size of a school bus.

What I really want to know is, why would it ever be a good idea to put your purse in the sink? I understand what this woman was saying, because you can’t put anything in front of the sensor because then the sink would come on. So placing your purse in the sink would activate the sensor thereby causing your purse to fill with water and flood out your make-up. But still, even with a manual sink, the bottom of it is still wet (and kind of gross sometimes.) Does she typicall wipe out the inside of the sink so she can put her purse in it? Does she have an empty sink at home that she keeps her purse in next to the front door? Are purse-holding sinks a new design fad I am unaware of? Is there ever an item that you can place in the sink that does not get wet? Water repelling purses? Rapid drying purses?

Maybe I’m just reading into this a little too much. MAYBE.

Perhaps there is a 1-800 number I can call about this new phenomenon of wet sinks. I’m sure my other co-worker would know.

“For the Lord gives skillful and godly wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”  ~Proverbs 2:6

Proverbs 31: Fear

We’re back for this week’s installment of our Proverbs 31 study. I’m so sorry that we missed last week’s study…..last Saturday afternoon I came down a cold. Finally, over a week later, I’m feeling much better and am catching up on my to-do list!  😉 If you’ve missed out on the earlier Proverbs 31 posts, you can check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. This week we’ll be looking at what Proverbs 31 has to say about fear. The Scripture verses we will be looking at are:

  1. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. (vs. 21)
  2. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. (vs. 26)

 

I don’t know about you, but turning on the news strikes fear into my heart. What with the conflict in Syria, the anniversary of 9/11 last week, and then the shooting two days ago in Washington D.C., I’ve seen and heard enough to make me want to hide in a cave and never come back out. It makes me second guess my motive for wanting to start a family as well…..do I really want to bring a child into this world?? Is it ever going to get any better?

We like to think of our lives as being safe and secure, but events like the Boston Marathon bombing and the shooting at the Navy Yard are sharp reminders of just how fragile life is. It causes us women to want to cling to our loved ones and never let them walk out the door into that big, scary world. But obviously, we can’t always protect everyone we love. So how do we manage our fears?

One way we can keep our fears at bay is to be prepared. The Proverbs 31 woman clothed her family in good quality clothes so that when the snow came, she did not have to worry about whether they were staying warm. For example, if you’re scared of a fire in your home, come up with an evacuation plan and practice it with your family. Make sure all of the outlets in your home are functioning properly. Test your fire alarm periodically. Don’t leave the stove unattended while cooking or candles burning while you’re not in the room. You can’t completely eliminate the chance of a fire in your home, but you can take precautions and educate your family on what to do if there ever is a fire.

For me though, this is not a satisfactory answer. You can prepare all you want to, but trouble can still catch you by surprise. So I started digging a little deeper into the spiritual application of being “clothed in scarlet”. I happened to stumble over a daily devotional at Christian Unlimited Ministries and I loved what they had to say about this phrase. The New Testament references a scarlet wool used by Moses in the Old Testament and parallels it to the blood that Jesus shed on the cross for our sins. So if we look at that verse as a spiritual application and not a physical application, we could say that the Proverbs 31 woman made an effort to make sure that her family was following the Lord. When we are following the Lord, we don’t have to worry about “snow”—dark times, tragedy—because He is there for us.

This interpretation goes right along with the 26th verse of Proverbs. In order to be clothed with strength and dignity and laugh at the days to come, we have to place our full trust on Jesus Christ and His will for our lives. This doesn’t mean that we won’t ever see sadness. But it does mean that He will be our comfort in times of sorrow. It means that we can live our lives for Him without fear of the evil in our world, because we are His and when we reach our last breathe, we will go to spend an eternity with Him.

As wives and mothers, the best thing we can do for the ones we love is to be a living example of Christ in our homes. Teach your children about God. Tell them about the love of Jesus. Pray for them often. If your husband is not saved, pray for him and be of good character so that he will see Jesus in you. When we know that our family members are living for the Lord, we don’t have to worry about their future—no matter how scary the world looks outside.

One quick note: I’m not blind to the fact that you can raise a child right and he/she still not follow the Lord as an adult. This can make it extremely hard to just trust God, but it is so important that you do if you are in this situation. Continue to pray for your child constantly. Do your best to show them love. God works on our behalf and sometimes we don’t even see it, so don’t give up hope! Hang onto the promise in His word: Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)  It may take them ten, twenty, thirty, forty years, but don’t ever lose hope!

Thoughts for the Week:

What does the spiritual health of my family look like? Am I doing everything I can to make sure I am teaching my children the ways of the Lord? Am I keeping my relationship with Christ strong through prayer and studying His Word? Do I truly trust Him with my future? With the future of my family?

Prayer for the Week:

Lord, sometimes it can be so hard to trust You. It seems like our world is spinning out of control and I often find myself fearful in the middle of it. But today, I ask that You take that fear out of my heart and replace it with Your peace. Give me the strength to be bold as I go through life. Be with my loved ones as they venture out into the world. Help me to be a godly example in their lives and draw them close to Your heart. I know there is no fear in You, so help me to live under that realization. In the moments when my heart races with fear and my mind starts to create “what if’s”, help me to know Your peace and replace those “what if’s” with Your promises. I love You so much, thank You for always being there for me!

Busy-Bodies

Life with the Casterlines has been very busy as of late.
:/
😦
O.o
We are in a marathon of music right now. Roman was asked to play drums for a friend in a concert this Friday night (with an estimated audience of 7,000(!!!!) people!). For the last few weeks he’s been travelling to Moultrie to attend practices. Read: we may or may not have eaten dinner at 10:45 one night.
On another note (pun intended), we are also playing in a concert this Sunday afternoon at Wild Adventures. Roman will be playing drums and I’ll be playing keys for our church’s Hispanic band. So no, you won’t know anything that gets said unless you know Spanish, but yes, it will be a totally fun (exhausting) day with lots of roller coasters. But unfortunately, this has also resulted in weekly practices. Read: okay fine, we have eaten dinner at 10:45 several nights.
O.o  
That’s okay though, after this Sunday all of that excitement will be over and we can return to our regular level of busyness. Which means I’ll wake up from my zombie state next week and get back on schedule with life. In the meantime, I’ll just be here….drinking lots of coffee….and eating chocolate. Does anyone want to help me do dishes??? I’ve got a ton waiting for me at home….
“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” ~Proverbs 14:23

Weekend Warriors

Let me tell you, I am very fortunate to have married a man who cuts the grass. Because I totally HATE cutting grass. But y’all, I’m concerned about my husband’s love relationship with his new lawn mower.
Meet Larry the Lawn Mower: 

Larry was given to us by some good friends. He’s an older guy, and he’s definitely not the prettiest, but he runs and cuts grass and that’s all we need. Notice the blade guard fashioned out of license plates…..

 Also notice the lack of engine cover…..

Unfortunately, Larry was not quite in working order when we first got him, so Roman had to do some work on him before he started working properly. As in, until recently he could only turn one direction, so Roman had to cut the grass in crop circles. Pretty funny to me, pretty aggravating to my OCD-with-yard-stuff husband. So for a few days my garage had stuff like this in it…..

Y’all. Roman stayed out there until ten-o’clock one night working on the lawn mower. In his words, I have no idea how awful it is for a man to have to borrow another man’s lawn mower because his is broke. And I have no idea how awesome it feel to have my own lawn mower. I guess this is one of those “differences between gender” things, because I would love to never own a lawn mower so that I would never have to cut the grass.

But after a few parts and a few hours of tinkering, my husband excitedly entered the house and declared that the repairs were complete and he was about to cut his grass for the very first time in our married life with his very own lawn mower.  A true declaration of manhood, to be sure. Here he is, living it up.

I will keep you all posted on the creepy love status of my husband and Larry the Lawn Mower. In the meantime, I’m just excited that I don’t have to cut the grass. And that we no longer have crop circles in our front yard.

Progress folks, progress.
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” ~Isaiah 40:8

September Financial Update

Is anyone else blown away about it being September already, or is it just me? 

This will make the fourth time this year that I write about our finances. The first was this post in February, the second was this post in May, and then the last time was this post in June. 

In the last post, I mentioned that I was nervous about the coming furlough. Now that the furlough is over, I figured it would be a good time to revisit our goals and be accountable on where we are with them. So let’s dive in, shall we? #warningitslong

At the end of July, Roman and I re-did our entire budget. For this year, we’ve kind of had the method of “pay extra on everything-especially whatever has the highest interest rate.” But I started to feel like we weren’t really getting anywhere. We weren’t seeing any success because nothing was actually getting paid off, and then when we weren’t able to pay extra because of the furlough, it really started to feel unsuccessful. So one day I decided to cost it out: how much interest were we saving and how soon would everything be paid off after the furlough under our current method, vs. the consolidation method vs. the Dave Ramsey “snowball method”. And the results were kind of surprising.

I thought for sure that the consolidation method would be the cheapest and the fastest because we would be able to save interest on our high-interest credit card. But in consolidating, we also lost the benefit of our low-interest credit line and student loan so we actually spent more money on interest. Pretty interesting, huh? (pun 100% intended) We also would not have been debt-free until February of 2015 because of the higher interest we would be paying. So this method wound up being the worst. 

The next-best method was our current method: paying a lot of extra on our high-interest items and paying a little extra on our low-interest method. Although we did save some interest against the consolidation method, because of the furlough we were not going to be debt-free until January of 2015. And it was going to be May of 2014 before anything actually got paid off–that’s a long time to wait to see any of the fruits of our labor. 

That leaves the Dave Ramsey method: snowballing. If you aren’t familiar with this method, you take the smallest debt you have and pay as much as you can on it while making the minimum payments on everything else. Once it’s paid off, you take that money you were paying and add it to the next-smallest debt until it’s paid off. You continue this method until everything is paid off. I thought we would be spending more money on interest under this method because our smallest item (credit line) also has one of the lowest interest rates, but I was wrong because under this method our two high interest items (credit card/couch loan) were getting paid off MUCH faster. However, we did tie with our current method as far as timeline goes-thank you, furlough. 

So without further ado, here are our old goals…….

Goal #1: Pay off student loan by end of 2014.

Goal #2: Pay off credit card/credit line by July of 2014. 

Goal #3: Go on a second cruise in October. 

Goal #4: Have $3,000 in savings by end of 2014. 

Goal #5: Pay off our couch loan by end of 2014. 

Goal #6: Be 100% debt-free by end of 2014. 


And here are our updated goals under our new plan……

Goal #1: Pay off student loan by January of 2015.

Goal #2: Pay off credit card by March of 2014.

Goal #3: Pay off credit line by October of 2013. 

Goal #4: Have $3,000 in savings by end of 2014.

Goal #5: Pay off couch loan and car by June of 2014.

Goal #6: Be 100% debt-free by January of 2015.

As you can see, everything gets paid off faster except for the student loan. And the only reason we are behind by one month on the student loan is because we haven’t been able to throw as much money towards our debt the past six weeks due to the furlough. 

Another thing we did was start saving for Christmas this month. In the past, we’ve used a combination of my Christmas bonus and credit to pay for Christmas. This year it’s not guaranteed that federal employees will receive a bonus, so I don’t want to rely on that. We certainly don’t want to go deeper into debt while we are trying to pay it off, so we’ve done a mini-budget on what we want to spend for Christmas and a savings plan to make sure we have the money available. 

It’s really exciting to see Goal #3, because we get to see something paid off by next month. Finally, results! Wahoo!! So congratulations Dave, you win. Not only are we saving money on interest under your method, but we are seeing the fruits of our labor a lot faster too, thereby keeping us motivated and dedicated to reach our financial goals. 

Whew! That was a long one. But you guys are all invited to an ice cream party in January 2015 so we can celebrate our debt-conquering, m’kay?? Bring the cool whip and chocolate syrup! 

Pssst: If you want to learn more about Dave Ramsey and his guide to money management, you can check out his web page here. (Not an affiliate, just really love his product!)

“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” ~Proverbs 22:7

Proverbs 31: Money Management

We’re back for this week’s installment of our Proverbs 31 study. If you’ve missed out on any of the others, here are the links where you can check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. This week we’ll be looking at what Proverbs 31 has to say about money. The Scripture verses we will be looking at are:

  1. “She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” (vs. 16)
  2. “She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.” (vs. 18)
  3. “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.” (vs. 20)
  4. “She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.” (vs. 24)

I’ve heard of two extremes:

  1. The husband controls the finances. The wife never knows how much money is in the checking account. She gets an allowance every week and that’s all she knows about.
  2. The wife controls the finances. The husband never knows how much money is in the checking account. He gets an allowance every week and that’s all he knows about.

Before we talk about how to follow the Proverbs 31 example in money management, I feel like it is important to go over this first: if you are married, you should never ever be leaving your spouse out in your finances. When you join together in marriage, your finances become one too–both the good and the bad. It is never a good idea to leave the other spouse in the dark. This method does not build trust, and it places the entire financial burden on one individual. Plus, if something were to happen to that spouse and he/she were unable to pay the bills, then the remaining spouse would not know where to start! In our marriage, I handle our finances. But my husband is given an update almost weekly on where we are financially and he knows what bills get paid to who. If you are currently in one of the two situations above, I encourage you to get with your spouse and discuss what you can do to rectify the situation. Money is one of the main reasons marriages fail, so make sure you are keeping everything honest and clear with one another so you can work through issues together.

Alright, back to Proverbs 31. A lot of time we women get a bad rap for spending all of our money on clothes and shoes and purses and expensive pedicures. And to be honest, sometimes we deserve it. Before I got married I was really bad about wasting money. I would get paid and by the end of the weekend almost my entire check was spent on clothes and shoes. I quickly realized after marriage that I had to change my spending habits or I would put our entire marriage at risk with my frivolous spending.

The best way we can follow Proverbs 31 is by spending our money wisely. Do we have the money for that cute pair of shoes? If not, we should reconsider and wait until we do. Do we really need another pedicure, or can we paint our toenails at home every now and then? Yes, sometimes the sacrifice will hurt a bit, but we need to be careful with our money.

I find it interesting that the Proverbs 31 woman does a lot of work to help her family’s financial situation. She buys a field and plants a vineyard. She makes garments and sells them. She makes sure that her merchandise stays profitable. Some of us women work part-time or full-time while we carry out our other roles, some of us are stay-at-home mothers. But if your family is in a bad place financially, is there anything else you can be doing to bring in some extra cash? Maybe you are a really great knitter and you can sell some items online. Maybe you can babysit some of your children’s friends so their parents can have a date night. Maybe you can pick up a few hours at work and get some overtime.

Please understand, we should not be over-working ourselves all the time in pursuit of riches. However, if we are really in a bad spot financially and your husband is struggling to provide, we should be willing to do what we can to help out until the season of hardship passes. After all, 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” We cannot expect God to provide for us if we are just sitting on our hands doing nothing. And we certainly cannot expect Him to bless us if we spend all of our money on silly things. On the other hand, if we are doing as best as we can, we can fully expect God to be faithful to us and provide for our needs.

One last important point is the Proverbs 31 woman’s generosity. “She opens her hands to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.” Even in time of hardship, we should not be stingy with our money. There are always people who are less fortunate than us, and as Christians we are called to help those in need. God loves a giver and blesses those who give generously. I have seen time and again in my own life when I have given to His kingdom and He has blessed me in return. We should have an attitude of generosity with no expectation of return. If we do, we will see our lives blessed-not just financially, but in every area.

Thoughts for the Week:

What do my finances look like? Am I being smart with my money, or do I need to work on spending money wisely? Am I doing what I can to ensure my family has what it needs? Am I being generous to those in need? Is my family being faithful to God in the paying of our tithes?

Prayer for the Week: 

Lord, I thank You for the example of the Proverbs 31 woman. As I go through the week, I ask that You help point out ways that I can improve. Give me self-control in my spending, and help me to make wise choices. Give me the opportunity to help my family out financially. Place people and situations in my life where I can practice generosity. Help me to continue in faithfulness with my tithes to my church. Thank You for everything You have blessed me with. I love You!