IRS and Scarlett O’Hara

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I am going to brag, brag, brag!! My accounting/financial mentor taught me a hundred years ago that the IRS is NOT my savings account. You don’t over pay to get a refund to go on vacation. You try to pay just what you owe and sock the rest in savings and investments that then pay for your vacation with interest. Why pay the IRS interest to hold your money? Be responsible! Be disciplined! Make your money work for you. That’s what the experts say. Anyway, she told me I wanted to be within $500 of the bottom line. In other words, if I owed $500 or less or was due a refund of $500 or less, I was in good shape. So each year I would work towards that. This year, I changed our deductions twice, I know, I know, it’s work, but this year we are owed $21.00 for federal AND state. This is the closest I have ever been to being even.

I know most of you are rolling your eyes but to me this is huge news. I’m a goal setter so it makes me happy, happy, happy!! It’s the little things that are big! And of course, now the pressures on to get better for next year. Only…….

 

I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow. For tomorrow is another day!

Giving in the Smallest Way

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Hosea 10:12 Sow righteousness, reap love. It’s time to till the ready earth, it’s time to dig in with God, Until he arrives with righteousness ripe for harvest.

My husband is a pastor. His role is to attend to the things God has given him. In our yard there is a bird feeder that Doug put up  years ago. I tease him each time he fills it. “Helping God out huh?” He smiles and season after season he puts the bird seed in the feeder. The birds are amazing and you can learn a lot from them. They take only their daily bread. They don’t store for the future, they don’t fight over food. They somehow know they’ll each have enough. I watch them as they eat their meal then fly off and another group stops to grab a bite. It’s entertaining and makes me smile. Our dogs surprisingly ignore their chatter, our cat swishes her tale back and forth menacingly from inside the family room window.

Then one day a corn stalk sprouted. Just like that.  A harvest for faithfulness. Because even when giving in the smallest way, there is the law of sowing and reaping. It’s a principle sent from heaven to rest on earth. There is no getting around it. Whatever word or action you speak will return multiplied.

Sow righteousness and love and may your day reap a plentiful harvest of every good and perfect gift from our Lord today!

How Much Are You Worth?

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If you’re not being treated with the love & respect you deserve, check Your “Price Tag”. Perhaps you have marked YOURSELF down. It is YOU who tells people YOUR worth by what you ACCEPT. Get off the “Clearance Rack” and get behind the glass case where they keep the Valuables. Bottom line – VALUE YOURSELF MORE.

Sabbath

“Sabbath is the biblical tool for protecting time against desecration. It is the rhythmic setting apart of one day each week for praying and playing – the two activities for which we don’t get paid, but which are necessary for a blessed life.” Eugene Peterson

Reality Sets In

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This is a part of a series on stepfamiles. To read the previous post click here.

From Cinderella’s perspective, she has three problems in life. A stepmother, named Lady Tremaine and two step-sisters, Anastasia and Drizella. Never mind that Cinderella’s biological parents are not on the scene, we assume they died because real parents don’t abandon their children, at least that is our concept, only where was the extended family that would have swept in to care for their granddaughter, niece or cousin? Our questions remain unanswered. The only thing we know for sure is that somehow the universe has been very cruel to Cinderella.

That is probably the only truth for which we can be sure of. Cinderella has been given a raw deal. For whatever reason her mom was gone first. If you haven’t been a product of a divorced family then your perspective is limited but you can be sure that losing a mother or father in death or divorce is traumatic for a child. Compound that with a remarriage and the child gets the idea that people can be replaced. That isn’t such an easy concept to swallow when you’re a child because while the adults are thinking in terms of adults and romantic love, of failure and loss, a child is thinking that they themselves can be replaced, that maybe love isn’t forever, foundations are not really set and maybe down the road they will be put away for another.

You see, as adults we have a bit more understanding about love, but children are limited in their understanding. All they know is they have a mom and dad and they don’t want or need another. Only they’re children and they don’t get a choice. The choice is made for them and they are told they have to like it and get along. Well, let’s be real, that’s not so easy.

So the kids come with baggage of resentment and loss, of misunderstandings and misgivings and it’s all perfectly normal, only it certainly puts a wedge in adult plans doesn’t it? Walls quickly go up, feelings get hurt and trampled on all the way around, and well, we won’t even discuss the guilt the biological parent feels as they get caught in a trap of being in the middle of a war they call home. Reality sets in and it’s not pretty.

All camps begin to pull in opposite directions and territorial lines begin to be drawn. Any upset in a plan or ideal becomes a major deal and the fight is on. Parents pull for their own child and loyalties rise. Fights ensue among the newlyweds as both feel torn between their love for their child and the love for their new spouse. The children complain as they are shuffled from house to house and suddenly houses are fighting because they hear, as we did, only Cinderella’s side of the tale and it looks dark and dismal. No one considers that every party to this war has a point.

For a stepmom her challenge is difficult, and I dare say, even more than a stepdad’s challenge because a mother is called to calm and influence her home. She is the peace in a normal house and suddenly all fingers are pointed in her direction, not only from the camps within her home but society at large who faults her because people are not happy under her care. What she does next will be critical for the survival of her marriage and her family.

Lulu Lives A Pretty Good Life!

This picture was taken a year and a half ago but it still looks the same today. Lu believes this king sized bed is hers and she graciously allows us to share it with her. She prefers to sleep on the pillow but my husband insists that she sleep on the other end of the bed. So after he falls asleep, she makes her way back up again. Who says dogs are dumb?

I was listening to Cesar Milan and he was talking about American dogs vs. Mexican dogs. He said that America is the only place where dogs have psychological issues and where we throw them birthday parties, and Mexican dogs, although they may be a little skinny, are well-adjusted.

I had to laugh. It’s really true. Statistically in America almost half of all dog owners allow their dogs to sleep in their bed. We are big on groomers, trainers, anti-depressants, organic food and clothes. I really love Lu. She doesn’t go to the groomer, but I do bathe her and comb her out once a month. She doesn’t have a trainer, although she is with me most days all day at work and so therefore being trained every day. She isn’t on anti-depressants but I credit Starbucks for that. She goes to Starbucks once or twice a week and they give her a free cup of whipped cream. I believe this act of kindness keeps her happy and well-adjusted, believing that the world is a beautiful place to live. She has regular kibble dog food, a good brand, but nothing earth shaking, mostly she turns her nose up at it. She prefers to eat what I eat. She hates popcorn, but if it’s a choice between popcorn or kibble, she chooses popcorn. She loves Kashi bars and she eats a salad with gusto, although she does play with her olives like a ball but eventually she eats them. She’s too big for clothes or she would have some but she does have a DIVA collar.

So what makes American dogs so maladjusted? I think it’s because we apply anthropomorphism to our pets. I know I do. I think I know what Lu is thinking at any given moment. My husband is generally rolling his eyes at me as I talk to her. And what makes us do this with our dogs? What about them makes us so obsessed with their happiness? Could it maybe be that as technology becomes a substitute for going out and making real friendships that dogs become our best friends? Could it be that for many of us, we don’t live near our family and so we create a family with our pets? I can’t really profess to have the answer to this but I know our dogs are spoiled as they never have been before. I mean, my grandparents would have never thought about a dog sleeping on a bed or taking the dog to a trainer or a groomer.

I recently heard about this book I will order soon called, One Nation Under Dog, Adventures in the New World of Prozac Popping Puppies, Dog Park Politics and Organic Pet Food by Michael Schaffer, that discusses this topic in depth. It instantly made it to my book list of things to read. As soon as I get to it, I’ll let you know its findings! I’m interested to know if the author has come to the same conclusion that we are humanizing our pets and therefore making it weird for them.

I was out walking Lu the other day and a guy said she was a good looking dog. “She’s not fat”, he observed, “she’s lean and very well behaved, good looking dog.” I stood there smiling and proud as a mom would be when her child is complimented. Yup, Lu has a good life. She doesn’t have all the luxuries of the other dogs but she is pretty lucky! I walked away patting myself on the back for having raised such a fine dog. Lu was strutting as well, she knows she has the “it” factor and she agreed with the guy that she is a good looking dog!