Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Costume Reveal

Drumroll, please!  Without further's my costume for this year!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Some things don’t need words.

This is a photo I took of the sunset from my office building Tuesday evening after the storms.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Financial Rollercoaster

It’s been a rough year financially.

I’m incredibly thankful that last fall I finally broke down and took the Financial Peace class after years of contemplating it. If I hadn't, I might be in shambles right now.  I've always been pretty financially responsible, but over the last three years, I grew in my comfort level.  I had my emergency fund, plus some "extra" money in the bank.  I was comfortable.  I could give when I wanted, I could buy things when I wanted, I could take trips, and not worry. 

Then, 2010 decided to take me on a financial rollercoaster.  And I unwillingly went along for the ride.

In January, I did something that caused my neck to start spasming.  I've had trouble off and on with this for years.  But this time around, I was going to the chiropractor twice a week for several months.  Those pennies add up quickly, especially when your insurance isn't covering much of the visit. 

At the beginning of February I had just returned from a ridiculously long youth weekend retreat in Gatlinburg (where we may have been stuck at a truck stop for 4 hours). We were getting back into town about 30 minutes before kickoff for the Super Bowl. I’d been invited to a little get together with some friends. I had just enough time to run to Kroger, conjure up some homemade guacamole and head over to their place without missing too much of the action. I mixed everything together quickly, put it in a large Tupperware and rushed over to my friend’s apartment.

I had literally been there for five minutes when disaster struck. I was in the kitchen alone finishing up my homemade guacamole. I grabbed a knife and sliced the lime in half. I went to make a couple incisions in it so that the juice would squeeze out a little easier. Apparently, somewhere in the process, I sliced into my thumb. I was bleeding. I calmly called my friend into her kitchen to ask her opinion of whether or not I needed stitches. I was pretty certain that I needed stitches, but I didn't want to go to the ER.  After a while of contemplating and having everyone weigh in, I headed to the ER.

Had I known it was going to cost $1000 to put three little blue stitches in my thumb and give me a tetanus shot, I probably would have bandaged that sucker up and waited until the next morning to go to a clinic. Hindsight is always 20/20 though, right?

In April, after several specialist appointments, it was decided that I should have major adult tonsillectomy. While that was much more intense (and expensive) than I was hoping, it was something that I needed to do.

It probably would have been helpful to know that any of these events would be occurring when I chose my insurance.

Anyway, all that to say that it’s been a rough year for finances, especially medical bills.  As careful as I have been with money, it seems like I never have much left over. It’s probably a good thing because it keeps me from spending frivolously, but it’s a different place than I’m used to being.  I feel like I can't just do the things I want.  I have to monitor every dollar I spend.  And honestly, I don’t like it.

In evaluating this and thinking about it over the last several days, I've realized how greedy I can be.  I have everything I need.  I have more than I want.  I'm taken care of.  I can provide for myself.  But yet, I want more.  It never seems to be enough.  And that's so ridiculous. 

So, instead of worrying about it all, I'm going to focus on being a good steward of my money.  I want to focus on giving more. 

In the last couple months, I’ve found ways to cut back. I discovered that we get an AT&T Wireless discount through work. That’s saved me almost $19 a month. I’ve also been seriously contemplating getting rid of my Netflix membership and my YMCA membership. I use Netflix all the time, but I could probably find better use of my time and the Redbox is just as convenient.  Our new office has a small gym. It seems silly to continue to pay for the Y, but there's a part of me that wants to hang on to it.

I’ve been clipping coupons (a lot) for everything…trying to take my lunch to work (as much as I love getting out of the office)…and just trying to keep things simple.

Anyone have any other suggestions on simple ways you've saved money?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Africa, Here I Come!

Last week, I got a very simple message from a friend that just said, "You want to go to Africa with me in June 2011?"

My response was immediate.  "Actually, I'd LOVE to!"

And while this response seemed rash and completely not thought out and very unlike me, I couldn't pass up this opportunity.  I've always had a heart for Africa and have always wanted the chance to go there.

When I was in third grade, we had a guest speaker at chuch.  I don't remember what he came to talk to us about, but I do remember that he was from Kenya.  I remember being facinated by his dark skin and his huge bright white smile.  He taught us a song in Swahili.  Now, 21 years later, I can't remember for the life of me remember what song it was, but I do remember singing it for weeks after that so I wouldn't forget it.  I even went so far as to write it out phonetically so that I wouldn't forget.  And since that time, I have wanted to go to Africa. 

Next summer, I'll be venturing to Nairobi, Kenya for 2 weeks with about 10 other people. We'll be traveling to several slums providing VBS, Bible studies, and sports camps. I can't begin to tell you how excited I am.  A quick side note: I'll be celebrating my 30th birthday there! How exciting is that?

I'll be raising support to help fund my trip, so as I come up with creative ideas on how I can do that, I'm sure I'll be posting more here. Please pray about partnering with me on this journey.  Whether it be financially, or in prayer, it's all appreciated. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Top Secret - Halloween Costume

I absolutely love Halloween.  I know there are people out there who think it's a children's holiday, but I am a huge fan.  I love candy.  I love dressing up.  And I love coming up with amazing costumes.  I can't reveal my costume for this year just yet.  But I'll tell you this...I came up with the idea in February.  At first, I wasn't sure anyone could really pull it off.  But with the help of my wonderful mother, a plan was put into action and it's almost complete.  I'm super excited about this one.  But since I can't share it with you just yet, I'll leave you with some pictures from some of my favorites from years past. 

2008 - Rainbow Brite

2008 - Kat Von D

Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy 5 Year Anniversary to Me!

(Photo by Sutton Spence)

At what point can you call the place you live “home” and actually mean it?

Nashville does feel like my home and it has since the first day I moved here. I knew that I wanted to live in Nashville since the spring of 2002. I was visiting Nashville for a weekend training for a job. It was a weekend filled with fun, lots of learning, new friends, meeting a guy I’d eventually date, and falling in love. That weekend, I was giddy as I walked against the crisp, cool air as the notes of unfamiliar country hits crept into the streets from the nearest honky tonk bars. The plastic Elvises all around the city seemed incredibly appropriate. I thought the city was absolutely majestic.

The boy and I walked down to Riverfront Park telling stories the whole way. I listened and watched in amazement as the city came to life before my very eyes.

We walked to the other side of the Cumberland River and sat on some huge rocks and just stared at the skyline for what seemed like forever. And I fell in love. Not with the boy. But with the city I knew would one day be my home.

And thinking back, I think that’s the moment I really knew that I wanted to live here. I knew that I wanted to come back…if even for a brief period of time.

And today, I celebrate my 5th anniversary. Not with that boy, but with Nashville. And I couldn’t be more excited.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Season of Change

I like to think that I welcome change with open arms. But if I’m truly honest with myself, I may be putting on a front. Most of the time, I tend to be very consistent in almost everything I do. Not to say that I don’t like to try new stuff, I definitely do. But a lot of times, I stick within the safety of what I know.

There was a Barnes and Noble located around the corner to where our previous office was. I’d only worked there for a short time before it became my morning sanctuary. They quickly learned that I always ordered a grande caramel macchiato and that I rarely, if ever, ordered anything else. Over the (almost) five years I worked at that area, it seemed there were a million employees that worked in the cafĂ©. Most of them knew me and knew what I wanted without even asking. There were a few employees in particular that made my day when they worked (One may or may not have been a huge crush). But It made me feel special. It wasn’t just about ordering a macchiato. They knew me.

Last week, our organization moved about 10 miles up the road. It’s a much nicer building and everything is customized for us. It’s supposed to represent what we do, what we believe, and who we are. It’s a very attractive space, highly innovative, and very modern. But there’s just something about it that’s not incredibly appealing to me. It may be that my wonderful little office has been stripped from me and I’ve been forced back into cubicle life. Or, there may just be something deeply sentimental about our previous location. I started working there a month after I moved to Nashville. And nothing in my life has really been consistent (especially with work) since I first moved. I’ve changed positions, I’ve changed bosses, and I’ve changed cubicles and offices, all numerous times. But that building always remained the same. Now, the stability that I once knew has been removed, and once again, change has taken the forefront.

I’m sure after a little while this will start to feel like home. And I’m sure it won’t be long before I can find a place to get good coffee with kind people who remember who I am and what I like. And if I put on my happy face and try really hard, they might even want to be friends. And I know it won’t be too long before the seasons start to change again. And until that time, I’m going to cling to the small consistencies in my life. Because apparently, as it turns out, I’m not a huge fan of change.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Great International City Swap

My friend, Laura, over at Just Put on a Little Lipstick is hosting this year's International City Swap.  I told her that I'd help her out with some of the organization with it.  It's an incredibly cool idea that her blog friend Shelly started.  So, keeping with tradition, here's what you do. 

What is the International City Swap?

What we do is we swap cities/towns. You put together a package that you think best represents the place where you live, and what you love about it. Or, if you think where you live is ridiculous, you can put in the silliest things you can find. It’s up to your own creativity.

In the past there have been some really lovely packages circulating: from Detroit to Alaska, NYC to Rome, Jordan, NY to Turin, Italy, San Jose, CA to Australia, and Atlanta, Georgia to Rome and many going state to state here in the USA. You do not have to have a blog to participate, just an email address and the willingness to put together and mail a package.


What: Swap some thing(s) that, in your opinion, best represent the place where you live, and what you think makes it unique. It can be anything from handmade to store-bought, mugs to magnets, framed photos to local food items and handicrafts to postcards and local candy…just use your creativity!

How: To join the swap, leave a comment on this post with your information, OR email . Please indicate if you do not wish to send internationally.

When: The deadline to join in the swap is Sunday, October 10th. The list of swap buddies will be posted on Sunday, October 17th. Then you can get in touch with the person you’ll be sending to, to see if they have any special likes/dislikes, etc. and perhaps personalize their package a bit. You’ll have two weeks to put your package together: the packages will need to go out by Monday, November 1st.

Cost: With international currencies at different values, I’d feel better not constraining people to a set range. Use your own judgement regarding how much to spend, but I’d say a minimum of $15 is probably a good idea, just so that no one gets short-changed.

If you’d like to add a participant button to your blog sidebar, you can grab this one, and link it back to Laura's post:

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