Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Perfect Parenting???

I formula feed instead of breastfeed.

I use disposable diapers instead of cloth.

I don't buy organic.

I use jar baby food instead of making my own.

From birth, I train my children to sleep through the night instead of waiting until the recommended 6 months old.

I pierce their ears when they're 4 weeks old, and I do it myself (well, my brother does it for me!) instead of taking them to a "professional".

They eat poptarts and fruit loops for breakfast instead of eggs and bacon, and sometimes I even let them have some of my soda (although not often cuz I can't handle them on caffeine!!).

I let them watch more than the recommended 2 hours of TV each week (is that even the right number???).

I let them stay up late and watch movies and eat popcorn in my bed on the weekends and sometimes even during the week.

We have picnic lunches in mommy's bed or in the living room floor more often than we eat at the table. (Why do we even have one of those???)

All of these things have recently caused me to struggle with feeling that I'm a bad mom. And then, the other day on one of those rare mornings when we're all eating breakfast at the same time, I had this conversation with Elizabeth, my 2 year old:

Elizabeth: "Mommy, Jesus died on the cross."
Me: "Yes He did."
Elizabeth: "He's alive again!"
Me: "Yes He is!!"
Elizabeth: "That makes me sad."
Me: "What makes you sad baby?"
Elizabeth: "Jesus died on the cross."
Me: "That is sad, but He is alive again."
Elizabeth: "That makes me happy! Where is He?"
Me: "He is in Heaven with God."
Elizabeth: "I want to go to Heaven. I hold Him. I want to hug Him. I want to kiss both His cheeks."

My heart melted, and I realized that while I may not be a perfect parent, I may not even be a good parent, I must be doing something right. And suddenly all of those other things didn't seem very important anymore. Sure, I'm doing things "wrong" according to the world, but how can I feel wrong when my child wants to hug her Creator? when she wants to meet the one who died and rose again for her sins? when she wants to be in Heaven just to hold Him who she was created to love?

My heart was slowly finding peace about my parenting style. I started realizing that those other things really don't matter in the long run. On Judgment Day, God isn't gonna ask me if I breastfed instead of using formula. He isn't gonna care if we ate dinner at the kitchen table or not. But He is gonna care whether I led my children to Him, whether I showed them to the foot of the Cross.

I knew at once that He wants me to stop looking at the world's idea of perfect parenting and start filtering everything through the filter of "will this matter in eternity?" I feel such a huge burden lifted.

And now I'm going to get them out of bed and try Jennifer on the potty again . . . because I don't care if the world says 17 months is too young to train. She told me today when she peed in her diaper. :o)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Past, Present, Future (part 6) - Financial

Well, it's been awhile since I last posted on this subject, and I've got to admit that it is pretty difficult to pick up and run with it after this long. I've been thinking about this next subject just about every day and trying to figure out what God is trying to show me and what He wants me to share. This is not an easy topic for me because I don't feel like I know much about it. So, while I've had ideas about the other topics and how to teach them to my daughters and basically just needed reminders from God, I'm learning almost everything new this time.

I do know that throughout the Bible there is a common teaching about giving God the first 10% of EVERYTHING we earn. Growing up, my brother and sisters and I received an allowance like most other kids.  The difference between us and our friends was in the amount. Our parents couldn't afford even the dollar they gave each of us ($4 total), but they wanted us to learn the importance of tithing. So, with our dime (10% of a dollar) clutched tightly in our hand for the hour drive to the little country church where daddy preached, we made sure we didn't fall asleep and accidentally lose the dime. (You can be sure we all napped on the way home - if we weren't wearing old pantyhose on our head and making faces at passing cars!!!)

Malachi 3:6-12 shows how serious God is about His people tithing. Here is verse 10:   "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it."

I know there are many who would say, "I can't afford it". All I can say is, "I can't afford not to". Give God the FIRST 10% of your pay and see if He blesses you beyond what you could imagine. Our budget doesn't work out on paper - never has. There are more bills to pay than there is money to pay them. But we have committed to paying our tithe first and bills/debt second. God makes the ends meet and many times gives extra EVERY SINGLE TIME. He has been faithful in our lives to keep this promise from Malachi. There have been times where, in our human nature, we have decided to hold tithe so we can pay for something else, and every time we have done that there was not enough money. God is serious about this. And He wants me to teach my daughters this now so that, when they are in their own homes, they can bring good to their husbands by bringing in God's blessings. 

There are so many more things that fall under the financial category, and I don't pretend to know what to do about most of them. I know it is important and Biblical ("Give to God what belongs to God and give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar") to pay bills and debts. What do you make each paycheck? Spread your bills between the two so that the same amount is coming out of each check. Then figure out how many debts you have. If any of them have interest on them, budget for at least the minimum payment, round up if can afford to. Then figure out how many don't have interest (spread them evenly between the checks as well). I have learned that it's important not to put every spare penny into paying off debts but to use some for fun stuff - even if all you can afford to set aside is enough for a cup of hot chocolate once every pay period. Otherwise you'll become bitter about never having fun. We learned this the hard way. My husband wanted to spend every spare penny. I wanted to put every penny towards getting debt paid off. Neither one of us was "winning" and we were both angry at the other. We finally came to a compromise to set aside $10 a paycheck (every two weeks) for fun. Anyway, figure this "fun" money in along with your non-interest debts. Doing the math, figure out what is left after paying bills and debts with interest. Take that number and divide it by how many non-interest debts you have in order to figure out how much you can afford to pay toward each. It is important to pay your bills and debts with interest completely each month so that you don't create more debt or raise what you already have. But it is the responsible thing to do to pay something toward the non-interest debts as well. 

Many people suggest starting savings and build it up as quickly as possible. Of course, when it takes every penny just to put food on the table, the idea of savings becomes a joke - which is the case in many households. We aren't building it up very quickly at all, but we do have a "savings" category and a "car repair" category along with our non-interest debts, and those get the same amount put into them each paycheck as the debts.

I know I haven't said anything Biblical about the bills and debts and savings. I can't point to Bible verses that God gave me for why I should do things this certain way. I can't even begin to figure out how teaching this process to my daughters will help them to bring good and not harm to their husbands now and in the future. All I know is that this is works for us and, as a result, it's what I'm teaching my girls. 

One other thing they need to learn is to NOT spend money they don't have on things they don't need. This will help them not create debt. There are times (medical, college) when a person has to spend money they don't have, but it should be on necessary things, not "toys".

Anyway, that's all I have. If you forget everything else, please remember Malachi 3:10. That's the only lesson from this that I hope everyone learns. The rest is just suggestions from me. That is from the mouth of God Himself!!!

Catching Up

Wow! I knew it had been awhile since my last post, but I didn't realize how long until I got on here today. I've been thinking about how I need to post, but I've been quite busy the last several weeks. For starters, we added another precious blessing to our family on Saturday, February 18 at 12:52 am. She was 6 lbs, 1 oz, 17.5 in long. She was 3.5 weeks early, and her lungs were not fully developed. After a week long stay in the NICU, Samantha Brooke Rampy came home to her family on Friday, February 24. Her sisters fell in love immediately. They got to see her once in the hospital before she was taken to the NICU, and they both got to hold her. In fact, Jennifer cried when we took Samantha away from her.

Saturday, February 18, 2010
12:52 AM ~ 6 lbs ~ 1 oz ~ 17.5 in

Very soon after Samantha was born - about 2 weeks later - we found out Chase's job decided it was time to transfer him. So . . . the packing began!! It was very frustrating at first because we didn't know when or where. After a few days of waiting we learned they wanted us in Terrell, TX and we needed to move March 23. So in the space of 5 weeks, I'd had a baby and had to pack the old house, make a trip to find a new house, move to the new house, and unpack at the new house. Well, during this process we learned a position opened up in Galveston - back home!!! He was told to go ahead and try for that position. We were very sad when we learned someone else got it, but we know that God is in control of all things and that there is a reason he has us in Terrell instead of allowing us to move back home. Anyway, because of that process our move date got pushed back one week. And so, on March 28, my mother-in-law, 3 brothers-in-law, and 1 sister-in-law came to help us load up the truck. Would you believe it rained ALL day?!?!?!? We would have to stop loading because it was raining so hard. As soon as it stopped we would start again. And of course as soon as we started loading, it would start raining again. We were loading knowing we had to move on Friday but knowing we still had not been approved for our apartment yet. :-/ Talk about stress!!! But God knew that, though the forecast didn't call for rain, it would rain for two days and as a result it would take s an extra long time to load up. We woke up Thursday ready to finish loading and . . . RAIN!!!!!!!!! Ugh!!! Thankfully, it didn't last long and we were able to finish loading, go back to U-Haul, and have them put the tow trailer on the truck all by 5:00. Of course, we had no furniture and no food so we enjoyed a dinner at Ci-Ci's and a slumber party on the floor. And on March 30 with a 2.5 year old, a 1.5 year old, a 6 week old, we said goodbye to Waco and started on our new adventure in Terrell where my grandparents met and helped us unload. Chase's family had to leave that afternoon and my grandparents the next day, but we were so grateful for the few days we did have them. We wouldn't have been able to get any of this done without all of their help. It took exactly a week but everything is now unpacked and organized. And now 2 weeks later we have learned some of the town and we are getting into a routine. And with all of that, it's time to fit this blog into my routine again!!! This has been a very busy and stressful (I forgot Samantha's birthday and had to ask Chase!!) 8 weeks, but I wouldn't trade them for anything. I have learned a lot and become closer to my husband again. He mentioned to me the other day that it feels like we're newlyweds again, and I had to admit that I had started feeling the exact same way. God is working in our lives, and for that reason I would do every bit of this all over again!