life beyond the well…


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The False Report

As I mentioned, Preacherman had been having some undiagnosed difficulties with his car.  Though we had our suspicions on the issue, and trying different potential solutions, we eventually needed to call in some reinforcements.

So, after a particularly challenging situation, we called in some reinforcements (in this case, AAA) and solicited their help on resolving the issue.  And after they provided their report to us, we began to take the appropriate action.  Imagine our surprise (and frustration) when we realized that we had been given a misdiagnosis and a false report.

What we thought was a major issue, really was just a minor hiccup that, with the appropriate knowledge, we could have resolved for ourselves; saving us a significant amount of time and money.  It’s so incredibly frustrating to be in that position, knowing that charting your course of action based on incorrect information has resulted in unnecessary expenditure of time and money; neither of which you can recover.

In this situation, there wasn’t much more that we could have done to avoid the false report.  But every situation isn’t like that.  Oftentimes, we are fed information from a variety of sources, and we have the opportunity to choose what we believe and on which information we will base our decisions.  As believers, our decisions should be rooted in our faith in God and our trust in His word.  We should be seeking to make decisions based off of HIS report and not that which we see around us.  We must guard our hearts and our minds and seek Him daily for the clarity we need to proceed in boldness with faith.

“Whose report will you believe? We shall believe the report of the Lord.” 

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


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25 Questions to Ask Yourself Before the End of 2013

I have my dear friend Jovian to thank for this.  She sent these questions out in an email to a bunch of us, and I thought I’d tackle them in this space…because I feel that doing so makes me slightly more accountable than just answering them in my head or replying via email.

So, let’s have at it (warning- this is long):

25 Questions to Ask Yourself Before the End of 2013

1. What am I most proud of this year?

I am most proud of my growth as a wife.  Every day, there are new challenges and new opportunities for growth.  In our first year of marriage, we had experienced changes beyond what either of us could have imagined.  I’m proud of handling the change with faith, and by being on the same team.

2. How can I become a better person?

I ABSOLUTELY must be better by asking for help.  Note to self: It takes a strong person to admit where they are weak, and to ask for help to become stronger.

3. Where am I feeling stuck?

In my pursuit of having a more healthy lifestyle. My current reasons have not been compelling enough, nor has my discipline been where it needs to be. I’m looking forward to overhauling this area, and really understanding my “why”; as well as creating SMART goals to make sure that I see the progress I desire.

4. Where do I need to allow myself grace?

In my role as a wife. Preacherman knows this more than anyone, but I am incredibly hard on myself.  I’ve decided to adopt Emily Ley’s motto as my own: “I will hold myself to a standard of GRACE not PERFECTION.”

5. Am I passionate about my career?

Yes! I love what I do, and who I serve. It’s been a huge area for growth, but it’s been rejuvenating and fun. I’m grateful for the opportunity to help students see the possibilities, and then make them realities.

6. What lessons have I learned?

Not so much lessons, but reminders: God is a faithful. God is love. God is a provider. God is…

7. What did my finances look like?

I’m extremely proud of our saving this year- we came up with a plan that works, and with God’s provision, we were able to handle a huge move in the short-term without taking much of hit.  This year, the goal is to live lean, save more, and to look for ways to build wealth.

8. How did I spend my free time?

Pre-move: lots of time was spent serving at church, and fellowshipping with friends and family.  Post-move: lots of time was spent on organizing our new home, getting acclimated to new jobs and a new area, and creating systems to make us more efficient.

9. How well did I take care of my body, mind, and soul?

I started out on a roll with all three- exercising and eating healthy, striving to learn new things, and purposefully seeking growth in my relationship with God.  As things got busy and life happened, I didn’t do as great of a job at balancing all three- I would maybe have 2 things going well, but missing the third one.  Again, I believe that creating SMART goals for 2014, along with clarity about what’s most important in this current stage of life will help me be better at all of these in the coming year.

10. How have I been open-minded?

In seeking, hearing, believing, and trusting the promises of God beyond what I can see or feel.  The circumstances of my life this year have required that I be more open to seeing, hearing, believing, and trusting the promises of God.

11. When did I feel most creatively inspired?

I don’t know if I can identify a time, but I know that I feel more creatively inspired to write (for this blog and otherwise) when I’m most balanced in my relationship with God and can hear Him clearly.

12. What projects have I completed?

Getting the new home organized and decorated.  It’s great coming home to a place that you love.

13. How have I procrastinated?

Dissertation.  See also #15.

14. In what ways can I re-structure my time?

Reducing some of the social media activity (although I LOVE the debates and conversations that take place on Twitter and FB), Scheduling meetings in the mornings, blocking out my day tasks- and not being afraid to say no to someone else’s “urgent” (your emergency is not my emergency) when it could be detrimental for me.

15. How have I allowed fear of failure hold me back?

Dissertation- the feedback that I have received while working on my dissertation has been the most critical feedback that I’ve ever received in academic work.  I’ve always enjoyed school, and I’ve always done well at it.  While I enjoy this, I find myself in a situation where I’m doing a ton of work that is extremely time consuming…only to get a significant amount of feedback of where you can improve.  It can be paralyzing to know that you’re doing all that you can to submit your best work and you KNOW that you’re going to get  a return email with your document…and even more corrections to make.  I definitely let this affect my mental approach to this work, and that CANNOT happen this year.  I need to keep the end goal in mind.

16. Where has self-doubt taken over?

In appearance- turning 30 in a workplace where the average employee is a female around the age of 23 or 24 and has their college metabolism and college body really forced me to think about what I wanted 30 to LOOK like and feel like for me, and how to really get to “my best self”.

In competence- my school work transitioned from classes to sole work on my dissertation.  I thought that without having classes, I’d miraculously have more time and the ideas and words would flow freely.  But that’s totally not what happened…and while I had moments of progress and inspiration, it wasn’t nearly as much as I’d hoped for.  When I coupled that with my inability to really master my time in the best way, I began to doubt my ability to complete the task at all.  I ended this year on a high note, making much progress and getting positive feedback from my dissertation chair.

17. When have I felt the most alive?

In moments with Preacherman and/or our little- working on math problems, making funfetti pancakes, watching the Cosby show, helping to wrap Christmas presents, singing “Jesus Loves Me” before bed, reciting our confession of faith together in the mornings.  All the little moments that I won’t always have.

18. How have I taught others to respect me?

Setting appropriate boundaries- especially at work has been extremely helpful here.  Being vocal about what I need, and refusing to take on too much has been incredibly helpful here also.

19. How can I improve my relationships?

Be more diligent in maintaining and creating them.  This is a challenge as an introvert, but it’s one that I need to overcome…particularly if I want to keep friends and make new ones.

20. Have I been unfair to anyone?

I hope not (LOL!).  I’ve probably been most guilty of being unfair in not extending the same grace to others that I would want extended to me.

21. Who do I need to forgive?

There are a few people who really hurt me over the past few years, and while it doesn’t hurt anymore; there are times where I find myself angry or frustrated about the way things panned out, especially after doing what I could to reconcile the situation. I need to be better about taking any negative thoughts captive and committing my mind to complete forgiveness.

22. Where is it time to let go?

Overworking/being a workaholic.  I need to place better energy on being productive while at work, and not always allowing things to carry over into home life. My first responsibility is to be the wife and steppie that God has called me to be.

23. What old habits would I like to release?

Being mean to myself/being too hard on myself. Grace, not perfection.

24. What new habits would I like to cultivate?

Consistency in reading: The Bible, devotionals, and other books to promote learning and growth

25. How can I be kind to myself?

As mentioned above, I think Emily Ley’s motto sums it up perfectly: “I will hold myself to a standard of GRACE not PERFECTION”


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Who Should Pay for College?

A hot topic this year leading into the election has been that of student loan debt.  As the number of people defaulting on their student loans rise, there has been increasing concern about the ability to provide those people with a feasible option to repay their loans and still be able to live decently despite the challenging economic situation we have been facing.

What has been largely ignored in this conversation about student loans and college debt is the amount of debt that parents are taking out to help their children pay for college.  The New York Times printed this article earlier this week about the looming debt that parents are facing after assisting their kids in education costs.  Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“There are record numbers of student borrowers in financial distress, according to federal data. But millions of parents who have taken out loans to pay for their children’s college education make up a less visible generation in debt. For the most part, these parents did well enough through midlife to take on sizable loans, but some have since fallen on tough times because of the recession, health problems, job loss or lives that took a sudden hard turn…

In the first three months of this year, the number of borrowers of student loans age 60 and older was 2.2 million, a figure that has tripled since 2005. That makes them the fastest-growing age group for college debt. All told, those borrowers owed $43 billion, up from $8 billion seven years ago, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Almost 10 percent of the borrowers over 60 were at least 90 days delinquent on their payments during the first quarter of 2012, compared with 6 percent in 2005. And more and more of those with unpaid federal student debt are losing a portion of their Social Security benefits to the government — nearly 119,000 through September, compared with 60,000 for all of 2007 and 23,996 in 2001, according to the Treasury Department’s Financial Management Service.”

The struggle is real.

As someone who works in higher education (financial aid, to be specific); I’m left to ponder the question of, “Who should pay for college?”  Is it the responsibility of the parent to do so in full?  Does the student have some sort of financial responsibility/obligation? If so how much?  Should the student pay for their education in full?

All of these are legitimate questions.  From a financial aid standpoint, we (at my institution) consider it to be a family contribution, where both students and parents contribute to the cost of the student’s education.  That said, I cannot tell you the number of times I see families (parents) incurring insane amounts of loan debt because they don’t want their students to be saddled with the debt later.  I also cannot tell you the number of times I hear parents preparing to make ridiculous sacrifices for their child to attend a college when the child has received a significant amount of scholarships to another institution.

Now, I’m not all for telling people how to raise their kids and how to handle their finances.  To each his own.  However, I believe that parents should not incur so much of the college costs for their child that it puts their financial freedom in jeopardy.  And I believe that students should share in some of the college costs- even if it means working jobs on campus/during the summer, or taking some loans out in their own name.  When your name is on the line, you’ll take things a little more seriously.  And, merging finances and family is an easy to for resentment and all sorts of negative feelings to creep in.

But seriously, if it is MY college education, why shouldn’t I contribute to it?  It’s mine.  My name is going on the degree.  My mother clearly articulated this to me when it came time for me to get a student loan.  She reminded me that this was MY education, so the loans should be mine as well.  I don’t think that’s a horrible move on her part as a parent.  I think it was smart.  You best believe I worked my tail off because that money that had to be repaid was gonna come from my wallet.  And when it came time for grad school, I still incurred loans, and what I couldn’t take care of myself, my parents covered.  But there was no situation where they (parents) incurred loans first, and then I helped out.  I don’t feel that my parents did me a huge disservice by having me contribute to my education.

As college costs continue to rise, and we continue to face economic challenges, this question will have to be answered; especially if we continue to desire to provide access to college for increasing numbers of students year after year.