We First Perfected Debt
Our money problems did not start overnight. They built overtime. Every decision held a consequence, yet, we were blissfully unaware as we spent and spent with our debt mounting. After the debt had built, we consciously choose to ignore it.
To figure out where we are going, first we need to look at how we got here.
Kevin and I met when we were in high school and began dating his freshmen year in college (my junior year of high school). We were married 5 years later, while I was still in college. We were 21 and 23, and absolutely clueless on how to manage finances (Problem #1). I had embraced the 1980's with great zeal -- amassing over 15 credit cards (mostly of the store variety) by time I was 20 years old (Problem #2). Kevin was unaware of most of them (Problem #3). We were both hard workers but underemployed (Problem #4).
The snowball effect that is so popularly touted for getting yourself out of debt, is sort of how we got into our debt mess -- just in reverse.
Let's recap: We had a wedding - charged whatever our parents were not able to cover. This was added to my already large debt that I came into the marriage with. We rented apartments we could not afford. We bought brand new cars - without considering depreciation, sales or excise tax, or insurance costs. If there were money left in the account (or that old joke about checks left in my checkbook) - we spent it (*correction and to be perfectly fair: I SPENT IT! I am going to try NOT to throw poor Kevin under the bus too much during this blogging our finances series. Although he did have culpability in some of it, ultimately he trusted me. I am the one who abused that trust to get what I wanted / when I wanted it until we were drowning in debt).
Kevin and I took weekends away - all charged. We were eating out constantly (as I despise cooking), and Christmas was always lavishly celebrated. One year I gave 34 people gifts - generous to a fault. It was very Santa-like but without the income to support this expense, it was not very wisemen-like. Although it would be almost 7 years before we welcomed children into our family, we failed to use that double-income lifestyle to rid ourselves of debt and build a nest egg. This would lead us to even more poor decisions in our desire to provide for those kiddos when they came. More on all of this as the weeks progress.
2018 Goals ... as we plug along
In February 2016, Kevin and I started by reading Your Money Counts: God's direction for spending, saving, giving, investing and getying out of debt. (Catholic Edition) by Howard Dayton and Jon & Evelyn Bean, after the amazing Beans were guests on A Seeking Heart. This truly God deemed encounter and their generous offer to share their Navigating Your Finances God's Way Workbook transformed our lives! (**Visit Compass Catholic Ministries to learn more information) .
These were our top 5 take-aways from the book from 2016; along with how we have and will continue to move forward in our financial goals here in 2018:
All rights reserved, Allison Gingras 2016; 2018.
Totally Missing the Point
With my 2006 reversion to the Catholic faith came an acute awareness that for most of my life I had rushed Christmas. I missed out on the beauty and joy of the season of ADVENT! That glorious period of preparing and waiting on the birth of my Lord and Savior on the Feast of the Nativity (aka Christmas) clearly absent from my family's traditions. The irony here? When I do include the celebration of the season of Advent, it actually prolongs that beloved feeling of joy associated with Christmas! So ... from the Saturday after Thanksgiving (although technically Advent begins on December 3, 2017) until the Epiphany (some time in January) this family rocks all the liturgical calendar has to offer.
Catholic Women Bloggers Know How to Advent
My family is changing so quickly. I miss having my little kids eager to celebrate the season with me. However, I do still have an 11 year-old and lots of great memories to sustain me each year. Here are a few Advent memories my family loved.
Advent Calendar of Books
One of my favorite homemade advent calendars included wrapping new (and recycled from our bookshelf) Advent and Christmas themed books. I numbered them and placed them in a basket. Each morning one of my children would unwrap the book; since they were homeschooled by in those days, we'd read it all cuddled up on the couch before beginning our day. This is also a wonderful way to begin to foster morning prayer time.
St. Nicholas, the real Santa
On the special feast days of December (and there are several good ones include Our Lady of Guadalupe) such as St. Nicholas Day on December 6th, the children would have also found their shoes filled with oranges, small trinkets and chocolate. As a germaphobe ... I have to admit this usually involved me buying NEW CHRISTMAS shoes early so we'd be placing those edibles in CLEAN shoes!!
Special Family Moments
My friend, Heidi Bratton shared an amazing tradition when she visited my radio show, A Seeking Heart in 2016 to discuss her then new book - Finding God's Peace in Everyday Challenges (**in which the struggle Faith and I had when first united is featured). During Advent, her family holds candlelit dinners. They start in complete darkness and sing a hymn, then her children take turns each night lighting the Advent wreath. This is probably my favorite part of the tradition-- they would then dine only by that light! I'd be happy these days just to get all three of my children to be together at the TABLE for a meal.
It is simple the ways we can slow the season and be sure to keep Advent...well, Advent. Christmas will be here soon enough! Share you ideas in the comments below; and be sure to visit the other fabulous Advent Traditions My Family Loves posts on this month's Catholic Women Bloggers Network Blog Hop!
HOW TO PARTICIPATE:
Save the above image - and snap a photo according to the days theme (you can find these next to each accompanying Advent date on the graphic).
Then hashtag #SnapAdvent and the theme you are sharing - it is OK if you do multiple days at a time - it is the holidays we WILL all have a day or 2 that we fall behind! DON'T forget to tag me @reconciledtoyou ! You can also tag either of my partner in creating the original ADVENTure SnapAdvent: Laure Lynch @lynchlm
Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and SnapChat:
Not on Instagram but still want to participate? Or perhaps just want to post in multiple places - I know I will be. DON'T Forget to tag me @reconciledtoyou (on all social media platforms) and include #SnapAdvent (or #SnapAdvent2017) and a hashtag for the day's theme.
All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2016 (reprint 2017)
How Do YOU Advent?
I REALLY dislike the Word - BLOG
In 2009, as my heart was being transformed in ways I had never dreamed through a 'reversion' to the Catholic Church; so was my desire to share that joy with others. Although blogging was already a thing in 2009, my pure disdain for the word kept me from launching my own until April 2012.
Why this change of heart? I saw the potential for engagement with others seeking to know Christ and deepen their faith. I also recognized how powerfully moved one could be when reading about the spiritual journey of others, particularly as it related to their every day ordinary life. My first post (see below) was short and sweet, no images and no hyperlinks. As my kids would say, I was a real newb.
NEW To Reconciled to You -- a blog about Living the Sacraments in our daily lives. This blog will cover reflections on actual sacramental events and the occasional informative post on the Sacraments themselves. These blog entries will come not just from me, but from various sources - since we all make up the body of Christ, it makes only sense that I span out to bring you the broadest picture of Life in the Sacraments.
How Times Change
Five years later, and I AM amazed at how the ministry and my blog has evolved. The Lord has opened up so many doors - starting in June of 2012, with an opportunity to write for Catholicmom.com. This allowed me to share my love of the Catholic faith, my family and writing with even more people like me searching to find God among the hustle and bustle.
My blog has grown to include:
Hate the Word, but LOVE the Action
While I still dislike the word - BLOG (bleck). I have come to absolutely adore blogging. The ability to share how the Holy Spirit continues to inspire me in my prayer life; participation in the Sacraments and through my exploration of Scripture - is such an amazing gift! In addition, the wonderful people God has introduced to me through this and the other blogs I've been blessed to contribute to - has made putting up with this stupid word - absolutely WORTH IT!! I guess, I can't deny what is in my heart - The Blog Life is definitely for me!
All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2017
The Mystical Catholic Faith
I was born into a Catholic family but not necessarily into the Catholic faith. My family attended Mass on Christmas and Easter and while our religious education classes were in session, yet I have no memory of discussing with my family what it meant to be Catholic. We prayed together ONLY during thunderstorms. I was so unaware of what was in Bible that I was in my 30s before realizing the readings at all the Masses were indeed Scripture!
In 2005, my life completely changed when I was invited to a bible study at a friend's home. There I started to read and learn about the beauty of studying Scripture, and developing a relationship with Christ. Then came a moment when I was faced with making an important decision of faith - stay Catholic or follow my very best friends into the Evangelical Church. Although, I loved them and even loved the music, services and fellowship of their church, it was not enough to call me away from the Catholic Church.
What followed was years of prayer, study and discovery of the faith I grow up with but until I embraced it for myself finally grow into! Every day I discover something new about the Catholic faith making this month's Catholic Women Blogger Network's Blog Hop topic: Why I Love my Catholic Faith, one of my favorite blog shares this year!
Here are just 5 of the many reasons I LOVE my Catholic Faith:
My Very Own Saint Posse
Let me introduce you to my Saint Posse - from top left to right:
FaceTime with Jesus
My road to sitting with Jesus in Adoration began nearly 10 years ago. Quite, some might say it was serendipitous but after these many hours in His presence, I would say this has the Holy Spirit's finger prints all over it!!
My husband and I, along with our kids, had just made the transition to this new Church. It was actually where we met and were eventually married, but we'd not worshiped there since our wedding. We had moved out of town, and spend many years at my childhood Church until circumstances arouse that made it clear it was time to find a new place to call our Spiritual Home.
I was going through a very difficult time spiritually, emotionally and mentally - and in hopes of accelerating the healing, I began attending daily Mass as often as I could. One morning, as I was leaving, a woman I knew very well from the Church was sitting chatting with a friend on the little stone wall right outside the lower church's doorway. She looked up to greet me, with a warmth that I rarely encountered anywhere else in my life. After initial niceties, and we catching up on her daughters, she asked me if I had signed up for weekly adoration yet. I felt a little embarrassed as I didn't know much about Eucharist Adoration, and definitely had no desire to spend an entire hour sitting by myself in the musty chapel.
What happened next, though I would not realize for many years, was about to change my life forever. ... Read More
Doodads that Remind Me to Pray and that I am Never Alone
Each Doodad has a story to tell. These remind me of the many blessings God has bestowed and serve as a reminder to pray and remember that I am never alone. In this world and in the one still veiled from my eyes exist a plethora of blessings and grace to sustain me on this journey. One of my favorite aspects of the Catholic faith are what we call Sacramentals. These are not lucky charms or magical tokens but beautiful, sometimes quirky, outward signs of the grace available to us from God though prayer, Sacrament and Scripture.
Let me explain some found in my office/studio "shrine":
Outward Signs of God's Ever Present Grace
Ah the Sacraments! Baptism, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Matrimony, Holy Orders, Anointing of the Sick, and most importantly, the Eucharist. Outward signs of God's grace. Probably the less understood aspect of my Catholic faith until my 'reversion' in 2006 (well into my 30s)!
Grace, the undeserved, yet freely given gift of God's Holy Spirit within us abounds in the reception and participation of the Sacraments. Even though we receive only once - Baptism, Confirmation (and for some Matrimony and/or Holy Orders) - continue to pour out grace into our lives. It was not until I was faced with a crisis of faith and investigated why the Sacraments existed in the Catholic Church did I learn what an incredible GIFT they truly are!
Holy Vacation Destinations
Holy Places to Visit - the list is extensive here are a few to get you started:
Another Reason I LOVE My Catholic Faith