Friday, April 25, 2008

Debt Visualization

I was listening to Moneylife the half hour radio show by Crown Financial Ministries. On the April 23rd they talked about how to make a paper chain with each link representing a payment left on the debt. Mortgage, credit card, car, etc. place this in your bathroom or dining room, after each payment you can remove a link. If you are paying ahead remove more links.

Wow what a great thing to do.

From 2000 until 2006 I had an excel file that visualized the same thing, each debt in two columns, principle in one and monthly payment next to it. Each row was a month. Nancy thought it was horrible mess but it helped show how many years it would take us to pay off everything, and how much of what we paid was interest and how much was principle.

Our student loans should have taken us until 2012, cars until 2006, house 2034. The good news is we paid off the cars early, and when we sold the house we paid off the student loans. WE ARE DEBT FREE!!!!

Now this next step in my life I am trying to figure out if I can stay debt free. We still have a credit card, I used it this week to pay a $4000 travel bill. Good news the money is in the bank to cover that when the grace period is up at the end of the month. I would love to by this Christmas close that account. The challenge? am I willing to wait the many years it will take to save up to buy a house? Is Nancy willing to let me?

We have signed up to the fact that we will rent at least the first year after we return to the USA, and probably for a full year after we are settled. We pray that God will provide us the right job, church, friends, housing, school, dreams, in these months to come so that HIS WILL is done on earth, in our lives, and in our hearts.

I worry how different that will be from average, I worry how different that will be from easy, I am considering the cost and still I pray Thy Will Be Done.

Prayer Request

It is a sad day for Ryan, as well as for everyone enjoying our pictures from India. While riding the bus this afternoon someone stole the camera from Ryan's hip pouch. We have filed the police report and also talked with the bus officials but the probability of locating a 7mega pixel camera in India is incredibly low. It will only be by Jesus's providence will it be returned, or even replaced. The cost was more than half our income for this month! Ryan had sold some of his trains so he could afford the camera before we left the USA and there were very few days he did not take at least one picture.

Please pray that Ryan gets over being sad, and if it is God's will the camera is found and returned.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Thinking Outside the Box

I think differently than most other people. I am not sure if that is because I am a swan waddling around with the ducks, or if I am a duck with some drain bamage. I have known that I think differently for a long time... one thing I have learned from it is to keep my mouth shut... an idea not perfected yet, I just rewrote my last post after being told that while I had some good thoughts my approach was off.

I wrote a little cartoon a couple weeks ago... I am shown as a stick figure who thinks outside of the box. I then show a bunch of heads in the box of people who don't think out of the box. After a little conversation I turn the box into a wagon and pull them off the stage.
Man that is insulting. In a mean way I am saying that people that think like everyone else are stuck being a follower of those that don't think like them. No one likes to be thought of as mundane. And as someone who thinks differently I need to be certain that if I am going to lead I am right not wrong, lets pull a whole load of lemmings over the cliff why don't we?
As a Christ follower I am struggling right now with why I think differently. Honestly I don't think I should think and act like everyone else, but have thoughts in line with Christ. I do my best to filter what I think through what I know from the Bible, and I always try to learn more from the Bible to filter my new thoughts.

Lastly I think that there are others out there that think about the things I do and in the way I do. Other swans whos box I can hop into to be pulled by a goose. I am praying to find the swans or the geese or the loons to be iron to sharpen my iron.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Manner Become Accustom To

I first wrote this post on April 11th with a lot more guessing into what Ben Arment should do, Scott in the comments section, and Ben in an email called me to the table on it, I did not in the beginning want to tell Ben what to do, I was trying to place myself in his shoes and figure out what I would do. I rewrote the post on April 21st to remove telling Ben what he should do.

Ben Arment's post below is a catalyst for getting into words something I am trying to figure out for myself. What kind of lifestyle I should live? For the past 10 years (and before that living with my parents) I have had enough income to get everything I reasonable wanted myself. It was easy to spend less than I made, in fact our savings helped us have the funds to live a year an a half before our support began for this year in India. But now I am failing to support my family on $600 a month, I keep spending more, sometimes up to $1000 or $1500, and our savings is almost all used up, I am starting to feel like a rat on a sinking ship.But I think this situation is temporary, I have it in my head that I will again make more money than I need again some day, but how I spend it will be different this time. I am thinking of the concepts behind either the Crown Money Map, or Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps. I am thinking how Paul lived in the Bible. I am thinking of so many free trusting fly by the seat of the pants pauper missionaries I have met.

I am struggling with this idea of lifestyle, my mind is stuck, I see the issue, but I do not fully grasp the answer in a way I am comfortable. In full truth I want a rich lifestyle, I am blessed with the income potential and cursed with the demand for quality. Even so I would not be happy in either place in either town Ben has shown. As near as I can figure out is they both show a stale consumerism lifestyle. But even that does not fully grasp the ideas in my head.

What is floating around? What would I do?
1. Set up a comfortable yet cheap lifestyle way below my income and keep it constant.
2. Give at least 15% and maybe more each year.. maybe 10% +1%*years of marriage?
3. Build up a huge savings, to the point that I could honestly live off from it. Hey by using the equity in our last house Nancy and I had 1.5 yrs of money that allowed us to go to India so I know it is possible. Just next time I want to keep the house.
4. I need to have a reason for a job... this contradicts the above... my nature is if I can sit back and be lazy I will.
5. The environment is pretty important, people are important, the Lord is important.
6. live in a house that is different, that shows a better sense of the concepts of community and solitude in economically viable manner.
Having had a week to think about it more I am dissatisfied with the world, I long to be in perfect heaven. And while I am stuck here I want to do my best to bring heaven to earth, by my example and by my teaching. That means living in a way that pushes average towards the Lord.
I look forward to seeing what Ben and his family does, I am confident he will make the right choice for him, which in turn will be an example for me.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

How to get a photo for CCS from an Autorikshaw

The things I will do to get the shot of a CCS (Crummy Church Sign) for Joel to ridicule. I realized why risk a one shot miss of the illusive Ashram of Sri La Sri of Pighill sign when I could take a video... then a screen shot.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

10 questions for Christians

In what area of life have I lost my passion? (What can I do to get it back?)
If the enemy were going to “take me out,” what are my three most vulnerable points?
What new burden has God given me in the last year?
What have I unlearned that has made me closer to God?
What new discipline is God calling me to do?
What has God asked me to do that I haven’t yet done?
Is there something that I think about more than I think about pleasing God? (Money, possessions, ministry, family, recreation, something else.)
Do I have an increasing joy in serving Christ?
Am I handling the pain of ministry with integrity?
Am I still being persecuted for my faith in Christ?