Monday, January 28, 2008

Debt Free

This is at least the fourth go-round for The ABCs of Financial Success at our church. Each January, Pastor Barry does a sermon series on finances, and church-wide in Sunday school classes we do The ABCs of Financial Success - pastor's book on how to become debt-free. Pastor's been debt-free for a couple of years now. Before we moved to our new property/building, our former church property/building was debt free. This new building is slated to be debt-free by July 2009, and that from a multi-million dollar construction loan & mortgage. We moved in in July 2004. These people don't mess around.

And, no, after four years we (our family, that is) are still not debt free, but we are on our way. Hopefully. I say hopefully because our main plan for getting out of debt has been predicated on the paying off of one of our cars - a $600+ monthly payment. We would then roll that payment over and begin the process of systematically eliminating our credit card debt. However, that car had major engine trouble last June, and we have been fighting with a mechanic to get it completely fixed and fixed properly since about August/September. I thought it better to plunk several thousands of dollars into the car when it was so close to being paid off rather than buying a new car. My husband might argue that in retrospect, it wasn't such a great decision. I still think it is, despite all the hassles. I suppose had we taken it directly to the dealership, we'd have had better luck and less hassle, but we were sure we could get the engine replaced for less than what the dealership was quoting.

All that to say that we should all endeavor to be debt free. Not knowing which way the financial winds will blow with the upcoming elections and change in national leadership, it would be better for us all not to be burdened by debt. I hear talk of recessions, and even possibly, a depression. But I don't know enough about finances or politics to know how to read things, and to predict, even the slightest bit, what the future holds for us.

I would just say, do everything you can to increase your income and reduce your debt.

Meet me back here in January 2009 to see how our debt-reduction efforts are going.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Okay, I'm still blah...

But less so. I actually got some writing time in. I forced myself to write last night.

I am, after all, pursuing publication. If I have nothing written, then there's nothing to submit...

That, and I'm having my new critique partners over Friday for an overnighter brainstorming/critique session. I need something for them to read.

That means my blah has to be pushed aside, because I have to get my son's room a little more finished by then, too.

However, it's another dreary day in paradise--I mean, Texas. A perfect day to curl up with a good boo--I mean, laptop and get some more writing done.

Back to the plotting board...

Friday, January 25, 2008


It's not a good time to be blah, but I am. The weather is cold and dreary. And while I don't mind dreary, I hate cold.

Business has been like a good day surfing - lots and lots of large waves, coming in in fairly rapid succession. Sometimes they come in so fast, you don't have time to ride the wave to completion. Lots of business is normally a good thing, but right now, we're all feeling a bit overwhelmed. It would be nice to have a lull in the breakers to catch our breath and get some things completed.

And the house is still a mess. But I'm having guests next weekend, so I've got to get my son's room somewhat situated so that my writing friends and I can take over his room.

Between now and then, I've got to get something written. Good luck to me...

But it's Friday, and I've got the weekend. At least life will move slightly slower, and no business phone to answer distracting me from getting anything else done. Then again, I'm blah, and not really motivated to get done anything but what absolutely has to.

Enjoy your weekend...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Movie: National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Took my kids to the movies last night and saw National Treasure: Book of Secrets, the sequel to National Treasure. It was certainly action packed, and I was on the edge of my seat many times, but overall felt it was a bit of a let down. The Nicholas Cage character wasn't as passionate about his quest this time round, nor was I pleased that Ben Gates romance had gone awry. As other reviewers pointed out, it was pretty much a remake of the first movie. The villain's reasons for what he did were weak, and Ed Harris's performance, an actor I usually enjoy, was a bit off. It wasn't a bad movie. As movies go, it was relatively clean as far as language and sexual situations are concerned. It just didn't live up to the expectations. But, no doubt, it will end up in our collection once its been released on DVD.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Yay, I found my dust pan and whisk broom - in the hall closet where, technically, they should always be kept when not in use. However, they've been set in a corner of the kitchen, instead for so many many months that the closet was not the first place, nor the last, I must confess, I thought to look. I actually looked in the closet to check the size of the air filter in my A/C unit so I could by a new one next time I buy groceries. And there it was.

But all the dust and dog hair have been duly swept. I even went to The Home Depot and bought air purifiers to help decrease the dust
(99% of it anyway) and other stuff in the air. It's even supposed to remove odors--one of the other primary reasons I decided to finally break down and buy some. I bought three: one for the living room, one for my son's newly repainted/remodeled room, and one for my own room. The other rooms will get one once they've also been upgraded. We'll see how well they work at keeping the dust down. They seem to work well at deodorizing the air, though. After being out the rooms for awhile and then going back into them, especially the living room, it does smell better...

My other stressful activity is now a thing of the past. My knot is still making its present felt, so no telling what's causing it now.

The wedding was lovely. I actually cried during the ceremony, and I wasn't expecting that. I didn't cry because I am especially close to the bride or the groom, my sister-in-law and new brother-in-law they may be. But because I was lamenting the fact that though the wedding was held in a lovely church (the groom's family/childhood church), and the reverend (pastor??, priest??) actually spoke about God being the third cord in the tri-fold cord that a marriage should be, but because I questioned the... what's the right word...? The deepness, the true-ness of the bride and grooms, and in fact, most of the guest's, walk with God. My perception is that people like to get married in churches whether or not they even know God. And when they hear a preacher speak of including God in a marriage, they all nod, and say 'oh, yes, God should be there' . But they leave the church go to the reception and drink buckets of alcohol, get terribly drunk, and never give God another thought. Until the next wedding or funeral they attend.

I know this is not true of every wedding guest. It is just my perception/opinion of society at large.

You want to know about me, huh?

I sat in the church (prior to the ceremony, we were there fairly early) and marveled at the beauty of the sanctuary. I read the literature in the the holder stuck to the back of the pew in front of me, and wondered about the fact that they have women reverends at their church (my church does not believe in the leadership of women over men), and what they teach about tithing.

I reminded myself that as long as they teach that Jesus in the one and only way to heaven, then everything else is really just a difference of opinion/interpretation of Scripture.

When we got to the reception, I griped to my other sister-in-law about how there didn't seem to be enough seating, yada, yada, yada... but we were finally told one of the reserved tables was actually for my husband's immediate family (including us, of course). My bad...

I watched many, many people drink, whether the beer & wine served, or harder stuff from the hotel bar downstairs. In fact, the groom's father was so drunk by the time the bride and groom left, he had to have a person on each side of him to make sure he got where he needed to go.

I didn't drink, though my husband had three beers, partially because he was fighting a severe headache and no one had pain reliever. Occasionally, I do drink a drink or two.

We got home at one am, much to my annoyance, because despite his headache, my husband insisted we stay until the bride and groom left. But I got up this morning and made it to church on time. Early, in fact.

I think about God everyday. Some days I'm more diligent about my walk than others. But God is present in my life and in my thoughts everyday. I think about Him, and me, and what He wants from me. Of where I fall short. Of His grace and mercy that allows me come before His throne each day. And of His blessings, which I have not earned, and could never deserve.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Stressing Out

I've been carrying around a knot of stress in my left shoulder for three, going on four, days now. I'm not sure what's causing it. Finances seem to be at an all-time high for the business, and while personal finances are not quite as spectacular, we do have the business to fall back on in an emergency. A perk to owning your own business. The road to un-debt-ed-ness is just a few months away when our car is paid off (a $622 payment) and we can roll that money over to paying off credit card debt.

Maybe it's the fact that I had/have a couple of stressful activities this week. One is past, one is on Saturday. Add to that a wedding I'm excited about, but have no time for, but have to go to on Saturday evening, and well, I guess there's some stress to be had.

My house is still torn up. More-so than it was just a couple of weeks ago, and I can't find my dust pan to sweep up the piles and piles of dog hair and dirt that collect on a daily basis from my two large dogs...

My mantra for times like this... actually I have two: "This, too, shall pass." and "God will never give me more than I can handle." Some things in life I look at as growth opportunities. And while that may be, I am tired and look forward to a more quiet time in my life when I can breathe and relax without something waiting to be accomplished.

I have eleven more months of duty as president of my writing group. Then that's one less thing on my plate to worry and fret over. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy it. That has caused a tremendous amount of growth in me. But there are always those who judge. And, yes, I did my fair of judging before I stepped into the position. Some of my criticisms deserved. Some not so much. I'll admit, I was a little holier than thou coming into it, coming off my PTA presidency, as I did, but while the title was the same, the circumstances of each group were completely opposite.

And business is hectic. A blessing and a curse. We just had to hire a third employee to take on some of the grunt work. And one of our employees wants to go on vacation to the Philippines - for three weeks! His fiancee is from there and they want to go with her parents and before they get married.

Well, just put one foot in front of the other and get through one day at a time, focusing on the most pressing issue or activity. See you next week.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Checking in...

Well, it's been a week, and I thought it time to at least check in.

The paneling in the kitchen has been painted, which is only about one quarter of the paintable surfaces. The cabinets have not been stained at this point, but that's on my to do list for next week. We've finally decided on which brand and what color counter top we want, and now just have to get over to The Home Depot and officially order it.

And because of the new employee, we've had to do a bit of moving offices around. My husband decided to set up a satellite office in our son's room. That required our son and younger daughter to trade rooms. And then that led to the decision that the rooms needed to be redecorated. So we've been painting our son's room. Actually, the painting itself is now done. Next is replacing the flooring, staining & installing all the decorative trim, and then completing the decorating - new curtains, bed spread, pictures, etc. THEN, we can move MY desk in there and start all over.

Somehow, I have to get a six-foot wall built around my office space before I have to give up my desk. Right now, we're all in a big open space. But I handle the finances and employee records so now, with so many people in the office, it's time for a little privacy.

Well, that's mi vida loca at the moment.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Painting and growing...

Not that the two are related except by physicality... I've been without a complete usable kitchen for going on a year now. Yes, really. We finally got our cabinets installed, we need to call The Home Depot and/or Lowe's to come and give us an estimate on installing our seamless counter top. On top of that, the cabinets are unfinished, which means I have to stain them, and we've decided on a new color scheme for the kitchen, living room, and hallway, so there's painting to be done, too. Guess who that falls to? Yep, me. I enjoy painting. I really do. And now that I can listen to audio books on my iPod, even better.

As for growing... we own our business and we work from a home office, which is in our remodeled garage, just out the door from the kitchen... And we are interviewing a candidate for our third full-time employee. Yikes. A lot of implications there. We're busting at the seams, as it is. We'll need an additional phone line, and possibly an additional cell phone - we just bought some for our two current employees. Can we afford all the increased expenses? This is the second guy we've hired in less than a year. It took us just over a year to go from one to two.

Well, it's always an adventure around here.

Saturday, January 5, 2008


I'm writing. Not what I should be writing - something publishable for money, not just immediate feedback. But hey, when the muse strikes, you write what she says to write. But at least I'm finally writing.

I've been contemplating this writing endeavor I'm on. My life is completely abnormal. Definitely not conducive to a task requiring a certain amount of time and discipline to get it done. I won't bore anyone with the details. I've been thinking of what I want to write and who I want to write for publisher-wise. I have a short story coming out as part of e-published anthology. Yes, it'll be available in regular print format. Yes, it's a foot in the door of the publishing world, but, at the risk of insulting anyone, is it good enough? This e-publisher. I've read several books from them. I haven't been all that impressed. I know I only got into the anthology because it was a contest and there were only a handful of entries more than were needed for the anthology. I know a couple of the entries were excellent, but unsuitable for the anthology. So I'm in almost be default. Although the editor who worked with me was very encouraging of my writing style & voice. (A great thing to hear for any writer aspiring to be published.)

Or do I want to target paper publishers? That romance giant Harlequin? If I somehow sell them a book, is it more credible? Tough call. I almost think so, but on the other hand, I'm willing to settle. Sad.

Despite the fact the New Year has just arrived, I won't be making resolutions, but rather setting goals. Write so many pages a week... on the same story...

I did finally set-up a small critique group with a couple of like-minded/like-writing/like-personality-ed ladies from my writing group. Now if I could just write some stuff for them to read.

I do have a deadline, though, of sorts. This above mentioned e-publisher will only accept submissions for Valentine's Day 2009 stories through May 13, 2008. So I have between now and then to finish my fifty-five to sixty page Young Adult romance. Ha ha.

Well, back to my writing...