Monday, July 16, 2007

Lifestyles are closer than they appear in the rearview mirror

My husband and I had a wonderful evening last night with some friends, but as we left I was taken back by a comment. My dear friend who I've known for almost 10 years said how it's refreshing to spend an evening with friends without spending $80 on dinner, but then, we probably can't afford that anyway.
Hmmm, I wasn't insulted, but I was surprised. What gave that impression? It made me wonder about the impression my husband and I project to the world at large. Many of our favorite things are definitely counter-culture. We adore auctions not because we can't afford to shop at Pottery Barn or Crate and Barrel, but because we love the thrill of the game, the adrenaline rush of a fabulous bargain on a 50's diner table or a box lot of vintage tablecloths with brilliant color, the people watching~it's a fabulous date time. I love putting $20 in my pocket once a year and hitting the streets of my small town when they have their annual "Walkerville Day". Walkersville is small, but the houses hold some fabulous trash that becomes my treasure. This year's haul: 2 Depression glass refrigerator dishes, several old patterns (perfect for altered art), 2 vintage prints, a mason jar full of buttons (some Bakelite & lucite), a handful of costume jewelry full of funky rhinestones, a bag of old doilies and table runners and my favorite discovery, 2 1936 porcelain crisper drawers that now sit on top of my fridge holding all the stuff that otherwise would just be piled on top in an unceremonious heap.
For reasons unbeknownst to me, my hubby is frugal to the core. He will never be one to buy a new car, but will always maintain an unreasonable devotion for VWs, most especially because several years ago we sourced out a quirky, but fastidiously honest car repairman with a wicked sense of humor. VW owners are an unusual lot, but getting an oil change without an ominous list for $1000's of repairs or else would tend to inspire loyalty wouldn't it?
He also scours website for hotel and airfare deals which has resulted in some of the most fabulous stays in amazing places and made for unmatched memories. But, because when you get a good deal, you want to share, maybe people think that otherwise we wouldn't travel at all.
One time he and my Papa had an animated discussion on ways to save money. You'd have thought he lived through the Depression as well. It is just the way my hubby is hardwired.
On the flip side, this is the same guy who unfailingly tithes without question in addition to supporting several causes he's passionate about such as building marriages though FamilyLife, building teens though WorldChangers and YFC, turning males into men through networking and giving up hours, days and weeks through serving at soup kitchen, on big youth projects or sacrificing vacation time to roof a stranger's home in another state through heat, sleep deprivation and keeping 20 teens in line.
We cook at home and think that home cooked meals can be sexy. Eating out has variables that can't always be controlled. If I go out after 8p.m. to a nice place, I get frustrated to see a cranky toddler who clearly should be in bed instead of running loose around waiters serving flaming desserts. How do I know this? I lived through 3 cranky toddlers at various points in time. But at home? At home, we can decide what to eat, shop for the best ingredients, set a romantic table, dim the lights, put on our choice of music and really enjoy ourselves. Do we always do that? No, but because we don't eat out 3-5 times a week, is that a sign of monetary strain? Some might argue that eating out that much is a sign of poor planning.
I have a dream car and until I actually get it, my plan is to drive my present vehicle until I'm stranded on the side of a highway with a trunk full of melting ice cream. Until I get my 1967 Mustang convertible, why bother on a car that will not satisfy my need for retro wheels? A car is a car otherwise and only a means of transportation; not a status symbol.
I think Goodwill is not only a great place to unload my household overflow, but a great place for cashmere sweaters, designer jeans and vintage handbags not to mention the cheap furniture that would be perfect with a coat of fresh paint.
I chose to live in a ramshackle old home because my dream since being a very young girl was to live in an old home. I've been a tree hugger for as long as I can remember and what better thing to recycle than a home? It carries with it character and history and a charm that I love. Many people were aghast when we moved from a perfectly nice townhouse to living in a borrowed camper for weeks in the backyard of our 'new' old home as we replaced plumbing, updated electric, stripped upteen layers of wallpaper, repaired plaster, installed new bathroom fixtures, put in a kitchen and went to friends homes to shower. I traded in my HOA for a cranky town official who lives around the corner, but I'll take him and his quirks over that old address any day.
I shop with coupons using a site called not because we need to, but because I think paying $4 for a gallon of milk is almost as crazy as Tom Cruise. I love the thrill of the game to get something for nearly nothing. Occasionally I'll get someone in line behind me who fusses when they see me pull out my stack of coupons who mutters something about people like me, but hey, those coupons came out of my designer purse (no need to tell her I scored it for $5 at the annual Red Cross garage sale).

We won't go into debt. Been there, done that. It's a grueling cycle. If we can't just pay for it, we don't buy it.

If all of these habits, hobbies and tendencies give the appearance that we 'can't afford' certain things, I think I'll wear it as a badge of honor. Appearances can be deceiving. The neighbor to our right may have an enormous house, drive 3 flashy cars and have a speed boat parked in their driveway, but they may also be less than one paycheck away from being homeless. The neighbor to our left, my have a bad porch step, drive a beater and arrive home each night in a plumber's van, but they may also own their own plumbing company with 80 employees who offers a killer benefits plan and be a millionaire unbeknownst to you. I'll sit comfortably somewhere in the middle sipping my tea from a chippy Limoges cup, my vehicle with a bad muffler in the driveway, but wearing a killer pair of designer shades (consignment store of course) as I sit on my porch swing watching the world go by.

Friday, July 6, 2007

I'm working on

the music album again. I have quite a few photos to scrap, but not feeling led to work with them yet and I'm okay with that. The past year of scrapping hasn't been chronological which confuses others, but makes for very happy creating when I'm in the moment.

Here's the song I'm working on now and I'm curious as to how it will work out. Generally my music layouts are more "Me" because they aren't put into the family albums for the general public, but my own personal lyrical diary. If you've had any music layouts or work recently, I'd love to see them!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Contrary to reports

I'm not dead. Nope. For a while, I was busier than a one-armed paper hanger.
Now that it's summer, I'm still busier than a one-armed paper hanger. Go figure, huh? But that's life and coming to the realization that this is the status quo can turn stress into good stress into good times. Happiness is often a decision and that is what I've decided to be.
Thus far, my son has graduated. Proud mom am I. College Freshmen orientation is already past. My 2 daughters had numerous end of the school year commitments, parties, banquests, etc. We had a house packed with company; fun games, good fellowship, outstanding BBQ & donuts (not at the same time).
In a couple of weeks, I leave for Alaska with the next generation of our church. I want to be excited. Really, I do. I love them so much it hurts. I want them to bypass all the mistakes that I made and my hubby made; long to keep them safe from angst, pain, tiffs and break-ups. Why do I stress before it's even arrived?
This past week, I was at Creation with a lot of them. We endured rainstorms. Bodily functions became topic for open conversation and humor. They sang and danced and sat around campfired swapping stories and playing pranks. I thoroughly enjoyed the impromptu hugs from them, the moments of insight and sharing. I died inside at their teen angst though. Not for all the Cadbury mini eggs, Long Island Iced Teas, tiramisus, creme brulees, unlimited shopping passes to my fave stores or websites without bodily or financial ramifications would I want to be a teenager again. What a wonderfully painful, messy time of life. Oh how every emotion is magnified, every action minutely and painstakingly broken down into segments and analyzed for motivation, every perceived slight becomes disproportionally an enormous blow-up.
No, not for all the world would I want to be a teen again. In most cases, the emotional maturity has not yet caught up with the physical maturity. These hormones on feet are running into walls without understanding why.
My daughter asks me what she should look for in a guy. At a loss, I bypassed the teen relationship books, the psychology classes, the pop culture answers and pointed to Ephesians where husbands are encouraged to love their wives as Christ love the church and gave himself up for her. To break that down, what it is basically saying is "Guys, love the one God created for you, put her needs before yours. If it comes down to it, throw yourself in front of a bus to protect her. Love and serve sacrificially." If she can find a guy who respects her, doesn't tear her down with words, barbs or cutting remarks, who shows that kind of sacrificial love to her then he's a candidate. If not, good riddance to bad rubbish.
I know I'm using too many words to oversimplify what is already perfectly written in the Big Instruction Manual.
As these teens experience this confusion and foibles of the heart, my heart aches for them and all I can do is pray (I know, it's the best thing to do) for their growing wisdom, discernment and emotionally security. That their hearts will be whole for the right guy or gal that God places in their life when the time is right. I've been praying for my children's spouses for years. Maybe I already know that young woman or those young men they will ultimately choose to love. Maybe I don't. My fervent desire is that though their relationship will endure it's fair share of peaks & valleys, that they are already praying for each other; that future love~whether that love is beginning now or in the distant future.