Thoughts from a Former Teacher

Z just finished his first week of teaching. He leaves early, dressed not quite casually but also not fancy with lunch box in hand. He comes home late, having forgotten his lunch box at school because he was too tired to really think. You see, the first week of teaching is one of the hardest weeks of the year. Teachers everywhere collapse into bed by 8:30 after the first week. Over the weekend, they go home and work to learn as much as possible about their new students. They spend the weekend planning lessons for the coming weeks. Teaching is such good work, but it is also hard work. Here are some things I pray I remember someday when Ruthie is in school:

#1. Teachers are on our side. I know that sometimes we can feel like this isn’t the truth, but I promise that your child’s teacher cares deeply for them (like any other field, there can sometimes be bad seeds. But this is not a common occurrence). They celebrate when your baby accomplishes a new task, they cry when your kid has a tough day, they pray for your student, they push your little one to be their very best – from kindergarten all the way to graduation. Remember that your teachers are human, and they only want what’s best for your kiddos.

#2. “Thank you” goes a long way. This is so simple, just two little words but they can literally make a teacher’s day. Write a note, send a text, give them a call, say it at afternoon pick up. It doesn’t matter how or where, but “thank you” is huge.

#3. Gift cards are even better. If you can afford it, I challenge you to get a $5 Starbucks gift card and take it to your child’s teacher on Monday. Teacher’s spend dollars upon dollars of their own personal money in order to be sure their classroom is the best it can be for their students, the least we can do is treat them to some coffee. Everyone likes to be recognized for their hard work, and a hot cup of coffee is always nice.  

#4.  Teachers are actually world class actors. You will see them greet you with a smile, talk to children in soft controlled voices, and roll with the punches when something gets thrown or spilled on them even though internally they are going mad. This is the life of the teacher. They do whatever it takes to build relationships so that, in the end, they can forge strong relationships with their kids and parents. Teaching is relationship building. They put on a good face in hopes of keeping doors open and building bridges to connect with their students.

 My prayer is that as we move through this school year, we will take the time to remember our student’s teachers. To pray for them, to lift them up, to thank them for loving our kiddos. There is no one aside from us who spends more time with our kids, let’s remember that and pour into our teachers.

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Budget Boot Camp: 5 Reasons Why You Need a Budget

Alright friends, we are on week 2 of Budget Boot Camp. This week, we are going to talk about why I believe YOU need a budget. In case I haven’t been clear, I truly believe that every.single.person. needs a budget. Everyone. And here’s why:

#1. Having a budget empowers you.

As I stated last week, having a budget doesn’t have to be something that ties you down. So often, we think of a budget as a terrible thing that takes away all of our fun. I’m here to tell you that a budget can do the opposite for you. (Wow, I sound like such a nerd right now.) Anyways, having a budget does two things: it gives you knowledge, and it takes away guilt. First off, having a budget helps you to know when you can and can’t spend. Knowing when you have the room to spend takes away any guilt you may feel for spending. Now listen, if you have a budget and don’t stick to it then it won’t do these things. Obviously, you have to stick to it in order for it to work. Having a budget equips you to make wise choices, which is the most empowering thing imaginable when it comes to money.

 

#2. Having a budget relieves stress.

On a similar note to reason #1, having a budget also helps you out by relieving stress. You know the joke that people always make about college kids having $0 in their bank accounts? I don’t find those funny, they actually make me feel so nervous. We don’t have to live life stressing over whether or not we will have enough money to pay the bills (or for those $2 tacos we just HAVE to have). Hear me say this: having a budget will not automatically fix your financial woes. It’s not a magic trick. However, having a budget will help you to control your spending and thus, take away stress over whether or not you’ve overspent. I will promise you this: if you will come up with a budget that fits your monthly income and stick to it, you will not need to worry about insufficient funds.

 

#3. Having a budget improves communication.

Y’all, I can’t even imagine what life would look like as a married person without a budget. That sounds so scary. I honestly think it would be impossible for a married couple to handle life and spending without a budget. You have to communicate! Having a budget opens those lines of communication, and helps me to always know what page Z is on when it comes to dollars. Because we have a budget, my husband and I communicate more.

 

#4. Having a budget betters your future.

Here’s the truth: making ends meet week to week is the easy part. (Does that mean it’s always easy? No. But it’s the easier part). But when we don’t budget, what happens when it’s time to retire? Or what about when your kids go to college? Or fill in the blank here? Part of having a good budget is planning ahead and considering those things that may come your way. If you do this, you’re more ready when they happen. Moreover, sometimes you just make less money. If you’re transitioning jobs, or if you’re an hourly employee and you took a vacation, if you’ve already used up all of your sick days but have to be out again. Keeping track of a budget month to month helps you to know where you have some room, and where you need to tighten the reigns. Having a budget helps you to not only plan for the future, but also to know how to move forward properly. Overall, having a budget often offers a better and more secure future.

 

#5. Having a budget grows your faith.

I’m going to be fully honest here and say that tithing (which is something that every believer’s budget should include) can be tough. The Bible commands us to set aside 10% of our income for the Lord. That’s a lot of money, no matter what you make. There have been many times when it has felt like we didn’t have enough, so how on earth could we be expected to tithe? But when you do it anyway, your faith grows. Having a budget and setting aside hard-earned money the way our Father calls us to makes us more like Christ. It reminds us that we don’t have to be in control, and that our God is greater than our paychecks and whatever may come our way. If you ask me, that in itself is enough reason to make (and maintain) a budget.

 

 

Budget Boot Camp: What is a budget & lies people believe

Now that baby is truly eating food, our grocery budget is growing and growing (and growing and growing). Because of that, our family is in a grocery budget boot camp. We are cutting down costs, tightening the belt, whatever you want to call it. All of this has me thinking about women I know who have told me they’ve never had a budget, or that the thought of a budget is terrifying/overwhelming/scary to them, or that they just don’t even want to mess with budgeting. You guys, I’m here to tell you that having a budget doesn’t have to be a burden. So, we are going to do a 4-week series on budgets! WOOHOO! This is something that I am so excited about, and think is so important. Let’s walk through this together!

This week, we are going to look at what a budget is and lies we often believe about budgets. For those of you sitting here wondering, “what is this girl talking about?”, a budget is simply this:

an outline of how much money you have and where that money needs to go

Plain and simple. So why do we run and hide when we hear that word? Why is the thought of a budget enough to make us want to throw in the towel? I believe a big part of why is that we believe many lies about budgeting. We can’t hit on all of these, there’s just no way. But I want to share 4 of the BIGGEST lies, I think, women believe about budgets (and why they aren’t true).

#1: As long as I’m spending less than I make, then I’m okay.

If you are currently spending less than you make, GREAT JOB! That is a wonderful first step. But here’s the problem with this: if you aren’t tracking your spending, you have no idea a) where your money is going and b) no way to tell for sure that you’re spending less than you make. In order for us to steward our money well, we need to know where we are spending our money. We need to be sure we are allotting enough for saving, tithes, groceries, etc.

#2: Having a budget is too much work.

Yes, having a budget is going to be some work. And honestly, it’s going to take some discipline. However, having a budget does not have to be a huge undertaking. Once you have your budget set, it should take no more than 30 minutes a week (TOPS) to keep it up. If 30 minutes sounds like a big deal, then there are plenty of resources that can help lighten that load….I’ll share more on those later 😊

#3: Having a budget will make me boring.

If we are being honest, many of us don’t have a budget because we don’t want anything to tell us what to do. We feel that having a budget will restrict us and keep us from doing what we want. At times, your budget will tell you no. But here’s the beauty of budgeting – having a budget means that you’ve consciously set aside amounts for different categories. This gives you the freedom to spend without stressing. Want to buy a new shirt? If you have the money in your budget, you can buy that shirt without feeling guilty. Setting those guidelines for your money helps you to know what you can spend and when, without feeling bad or anxious.

#4: I’ll handle it when I’m married/I have a better job/my husband decides to do it/fill in the blank here.

You guys, no. I understand this thought – I lived this thought. But if not now, then when? Procrastinating on a budget is like procrastinating on a doctor’s appointment. Both are important, and there’s no better time than now. The longer we wait to have a budget, the harder it will be to incorporate into our daily lives. There are always a hundred reasons not to do something, but I promise it’s worth it.

So there they are, 4 reasons that often keep people from having a budget. If you don’t have a budget, what’s keeping you from it? What lie are you believing? If you have specific questions about budgets, please feel free to reach out to me. I don’t know everything, but I’d love to share what I do know! Next week, we will look at why you need a budget. See you soon, friends!

Belugas & Babies (Guest post by Z)

I’ve got a little story for ya.

A few months ago Sarah and I were home playing with baby girl. Sarah was singing a rendition of the “Baby Beluga” song to our little girl, and she decided to replace “beluga” with “Ruthie” to be cute.  Being the fun guy that I am, I thought it clever to then throw Sarah’s name in the song. However, instead of saying “baby Sarah” I said “Sarah beluga…”. My wife’s face dropped, she got up, and left the room while I was left with our child and a bemused look. One minute we were all smiling and playing, and the next minute she was upset and I had no idea why.

Here is what we (I) learned that night:

Everyone cares how they look and women tend to care more than guys. Pregnancy and postpartum only amplify this. When you rewrite a song on the fly and inadvertently call your wife a whale, it will hurt her feelings.

Guys know that they need to compliment and praise their wife/fiancée/girlfriend. Women can be pretty emotional and pregnancy makes that even more dramatic. There is plenty of self doubt, insecurity, and uncertainty during and after pregnancy, and it is during that time that they need to be reassured by their guy that they are still as beautiful as ever. They will be, they just may not think so. That’s where you can step in and make sure they don’t doubt how you feel.

This is done best by being even more careful of what you say than you may normally be. Think 3 times, pause, think again, and then you may speak. Also, be careful not to think too long because then your silence becomes a negative and you’re hosed.

That night I learned:

  1. Pregnancy changes everything, particularly emotions.
  2. Make make sure you’re complimenting your gal.
  3. As guys, we’re stupid and need to rethink things often.
  4. I’m not a songwriter.

June Must Haves

This week, I’m going to share a few must have items for the summer. A couple of books, a Ginnings household essential (that I’m willing to share), and a couple of baby items I couldn’t live without. I even included a bonus item, since it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. These things will make your life better, I promise!

#1: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty: y’all, Liane and I are quickly becoming good friends. I’ve mentioned another of her books in my Must Haves before, but I just can’t get enough! This book has just enough drama to draw you in, but not so much that it’s crazy. This is the perfect summer read, take it to the beach when you go!

#2: Lavender Essential Oil: if you or your husband or your baby or your dog (aka anyone in your whole house) has trouble sleeping, you need to try this oil. I used to be such a stress dreamer and wake up constantly throughout the night. I started using lavender at night…no more wake ups! Baby girl’s naps are significantly better when lavender is involved. I love this stuff so much, that I will send a small sample to the first 3 people to email me about it!

#3: Honeycomb Teething Necklace: if your baby is anything like mine, they probably pull at and chew on your necklace constantly. Instead of freaking out and worrying about nice jewelry getting ruined, I just wear one of these (they’re especially great when you are wearing your baby). BONUS, they’re super cute!

#4: Business Boutique by Christy Wright: we live in a world of entrepreneurs. Everywhere you look, people are constantly starting their own businesses, whether that is a service, MLMs, an app, you name it. This book gives you a step by step guide on how to make those dollas doing what you love.

#5: TomTom Runner: I had this crazy idea to sign up for a half marathon. I’ve run a couple before, but post-baby workouts are just so much harder so I needed something to force me to do it. (Let me just say, I’m nearly 8 months post baby and I am STILL working on getting back into shape. Geez Louise!) Many runs, being able to look down at my watch and know how much longer I have to go is the only thing that keeps me going as I  slowly attempt to whip out some miles. Get one, and run this half with me!!

-BONUS-

#6: ErgoBaby 360 Carrier: if you’re a mama of a baby, you need one of these. This thing is 100% the only reason baby girl and I were able to make it flying on our own last week. It’s a lifesaver.

Just for fun, here are some pictures of our life lately. Isn’t baby girl just the cutest?

 

Motherhood’s Greatest Joys

Sunday was my first Mother’s Day. While this is supposed to be a day to celebrate moms and all they do, all I could think about was how grateful I am for the little girl who made me a mama. Seven months in and I still can’t believe God entrusted me with her…does that ever sink in? All of this got me thinking about the most joyful parts of motherhood. Oftentimes, it is easy to focus on the hard stuff. While the hard things are oh so valid, so are the joys. If anything, I feel like we should aim to make the joys the most valid things – if we fix our eyes on them, our lives will be all the happier. This week, I want to share with y’all what I believe are the greatest joys of motherhood.

#1: I get to see the way my baby loves her daddy. One of the brightest highlights of my day is the moment that Zach walks through the door. Partly because I’m excited to see him, but mostly because I love to see the smile on Ruthie’s face when she sees her daddy. Seeing your baby light up when they see their dad is enough to make a mama’s heart want to burst with happiness.

#2: The world becomes new again. As adults, much of what we encounter day to day is commonplace. We’ve been there, done that, and moved on with life. But to our babies, everything is new. The kitchen sink, the grass outside, the taste of sweet potatoes, everything. I love to see her face brighten as she learns something new, or to see her eyebrows furrow in befuddlement. When that little girl looks up at me and smiles because she just figured something out, I melt. Watching Ruthie learn about the world has caused me to embrace each day with a new sense of wonder.

#3: The Gospel comes alive like never before. When I think about how God sent his son to earth as a baby to live a perfect and sinless life only to die a criminal’s death on the cross in order that he could rise on the third day and redeem the sins of the world, I am overwhelmed. I can’t even fathom sending Ruthie to do such a job, what incredible love God must have for us! Because I have a baby, my view of the Gospel has become richer, and I have become more thankful of the love that is bestowed upon me.

#4: Every minute counts. Somehow, every day seems to go by faster than the one before. And somehow, the baby that I just brought home from the hospital already knows how to sit on her own and has teeth. Watching my baby go from a totally dependent newborn to a spunky baby who wants to take the world by the horns (help me, Jesus) is such a reminder to me of the importance of every moment. Because I am a mama, I strive to use each minute I am given wisely. This can be overwhelming at times, but it’s also the biggest blessing.

I could go on forever about the things that bring happiness to my mama world, but nobody has time for that. What about you? What are your favorite parts of being mama? What parts grow you? What brings you the most joy?

Mom’s Dress: Lularoe Carly —– Ruthie’s Bonnet: Dillards —– Mom’s Earrings: Noonday Collection 

 

The Heart Behind It

It recently occurred to me that I went about this whole blogging thing the wrong way. In total Sarah fashion, I dove in head first. Which is great, except I want this blog to have purpose. And it does…I just never shared my heart behind it with you. So I suppose it’s time to do that.

Motherhood can be one of the most isolating experiences we, as women, face. It is beautiful. It is hard. It is love. It is lonely. This loneliness is something that I’ve felt down to my bones at times since becoming a mama. That’s not to say that I don’t love my baby, because I do. And that’s not to say that I don’t love being a mom, because I do. But being mama is not an easy job and sometimes the day-to-day of it just wears you down and makes you feel like nobody on the face of this earth knows what you are going through. I believe that Satan can use that loneliness to lure us into feeling like we are uncared for, unknown, unloved, and unimportant. But we don’t have to succumb to these feelings. Psalm 139 makes it very clear that none of these things are true — and we know that — but we tend to forget.

My purpose is for this page to be a place where we fight these things together. Where I can share my stories, with the hope that someone somewhere might be able to let out a sigh of relief and say, “same”. A place where mamas come, and they feel less alone. Where you can visit after a hard day and know, “I’m doing my best, my best is enough, and I am infinitely loved by my Creator even when I fall short”. I want this to be a place where community is built, because none of us were meant to walk this road alone. My hope is that someday, this page will be a resource for the mamas who walk this road behind us. But for now, I just want it to be a place where we can all join together and make this journey a little more relational and a little less lonely.

If you are feeling alone, forgotten, uncared for, unloved…read Psalm 139:1-18 below:

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all of my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, ever there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you’ the night will shine like the day, for darkness is light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.

God’s Tender Mercies

Confession: I hate road trips with a baby. They make me so anxious, and just downright grumpy. (Please tell me I’m not the only one.) But last week, God used a road trip to remind me of His goodness towards us.

My in-laws live about 4.5 hours away on a good day. Sometimes the drive can take much longer, mostly depending on I-35. Last week, the latter was the case. The baby cried most of the drive, traffic was horrible, I was irritated, and it was pouring rain. But wait, there’s more: about halfway home, we got a flat tire. Typically, this would be something that just makes you want to scream. But instead, in a church parking lot on the side of I-35 in a rinky-dink town, I couldn’t help but be grateful. Yes we had a flat, but the rain had nearly stopped and our Ruthie girl had just fallen asleep – and then stayed asleep for most of the debacle. This was such a small reminder to me of the ways that God provides for us. So many things could have gone wrong here – Ruthie could have had a total meltdown, we could have had a blow out on the highway, it could have been an hour later and all of the tire shops could have been closed, the rain could have still been in a downpour – but nothing did. How often do things like this happen in our lives? We face a situation that feels so big and overwhelming only to remember that God is for us and He always has a perfect plan. Does that mean that things won’t be messy, or that it will work out exactly the way we hope? No. Not at all. Does that mean that we won’t have to buy a used tire from a guy named Antonio? No. But it does mean that we will be okay.

In a situation where I would usually be grumpy and miserable, God reminded me that He constantly offers us tender mercies…sometimes we just have to choose to see them.

mercies 3

mercies 2

Advice from your Mama

I have a baby that doesn’t sleep. No matter what I’ve tried, no matter what I do, I just can’t get her to be a good sleeper. I’ve read sleep article after sleep article, to no avail. “Give her rice cereal, she’s probably hungry”, my mom said over and over. I brushed it off because nowadays there’s some mixed research on whether or not it’s the best option (and hello I’ve done all my reading so I obviously know everything). The no sleep saga continues. We finally got to the point that we thought “maybe there is some medical issue that is hindering Ruthie’s sleep”. Off we go to the doctor to ensure a clean bill of health. And would you guess what the doctor ordered? Rice. Cereal. (Insert eye roll about how I had to call my mom and tell her she was right all along). Oh how I wish I had just listened to my mother. Fast forward a couple of weeks — it hasn’t helped, but I have learned a lesson. There’s a reason God gave us moms, and they have some sage advice. Maybe we should listen to our mamas a little bit more. So I did some research, and here’s advice from some mamas who I know and trust. Some of it is serious, some comical, some spiritual. Do with it what you will…or don’t.

#1: “When they fall at the park, DO NOT make eye contact!  If there is no audience to the fall, they will usually just get right back up.  But if they know you saw it the tears will start.  And the wailing.  And the “Pick me up and carry me because now I have a boo boo”.  Just look away, Mama.  Look.  Away.”

#2: “Put your phone down! They will not stay little for long. Pay attention to them and talk to them. And lock the bathroom door!”

#3: “Give yourself grace! It’s a season.”

#4: “Take the real small play doh container, like you put in party treat bags, to restaurants with you. After they eat, let them make peas, worms, whatever while parents enjoy eating. Be sure to clean it all up for waiters.”

#5: “Your mom is a very valuable tool. Next to your doctor, your greatest source of information. She knows you AND your baby. Your own instincts and her experience make a great team. When in doubt, pick up the phone and call mom!”

#6: “My toddler poured my coffee in the fish tank last week while I was feeding the dog. Enjoy the baby stage.”

#7: “Don’t compare yourself with other moms that look like they have it all together. They are just better at faking it than you are.”

#8: “When they’re older, remind them that you love them so much that when they were little you caught their vomit in your hands. Bonus points if you do it in front of their friends.”

#9: “Enjoy every moment with them and don’t feel like you have to be super mom, super wife or have a perfect house.”
#10: “You will mess up!  It will be okay and they won’t remember. Just don’t make it a habit.”

#11: “Simply laugh.”

Man oh man, how all of these words ring true. I am going to strive to live like these mamas (who know far more than I) suggest. I hope you will, too!

What is the best mama advice you’ve received?

The Hardest Part of Motherhood

“Motherhood is tough”.

“I never knew this season would be so hard”.

“Raising babies/toddlers/kids/teenagers is the hardest thing I’ve ever done”.

“I wasn’t prepared for this”.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard one of these lines. Raise two hands if you’ve ever said one of these lines. There’s no denying it — being a mama can be tough. In the best, most incredible, love filled way, motherhood stretches us. Most days it leaves us tired and needing a shower. At the end of the day yesterday, I had dealt with 7 different types of bodily fluids (number 1, number 2, drool, spit up, sweat, snot, and baby tears). But these things we think of — the yucky stuff, the sleep deprivation, the fill in the blank — these aren’t what make being mommy hard. These are just pieces to the puzzle. No, the hardest part of motherhood is that it strips away our selfishness.

As a mama, it is our job to care for another human. A very needy, very adorable human who doesn’t know how to do anything on their own yet. We feed them, bathe them, rock them, and snuggle them (and enjoy every second of it). But at the end of the day, we’re often left wondering, “do I ever get a break?” or “why do I have to do ALL of the work around here” or “what about me?”. And these are hard thoughts. These thoughts (and others like it) leave us feeling guilty and inadequate. On one hand, we feel justified in these thoughts because “hello, I’m obviously carrying the team here”. But on the other hand, we know in our hearts our attitude is wrong. These thoughts give us a glimpse at our selfish nature. (Now don’t get me wrong, it’s totally healthy for moms to take a break. It’s not the thought that’s wrong…it’s our heart behind it). They show us that we weren’t meant to do this alone, and that we need more of Jesus and less of us. Motherhood is hard because it is a constant reminder that “love is not selfish”. Repeat after me. LOVE. IS. NOT. SELFISH. Some days, I repeat this non stop.

When the baby wakes up in the middle of the night and I don’t want to get out of my warm, cozy bed. Love is not selfish.

When I find myself envious of the fact that my husband gets to do “whatever he wants” (yeah right, parenthood affects these daddies just as much). Love is not selfish.

When I get frustrated because the baby is crying for what feels like the 24380714380th time. Love is not selfish.

Motherhood is tough for so many reasons. But I honestly think the hardest part is the each day, we are challenged to die to ourselves. As humans, that’s rough. It involves growing pains, and nobody likes those. But we can find encouragement in this — if motherhood is stripping off our selfishness, then motherhood makes us more like Jesus.

So how do we submit to this? How do we accept this new normal?

-Choose to serve: instead of worrying about how hard motherhood is, what would happen if we made it our goal to make our husbands life easier? What if we chose to love our husbands by protecting their sleep, or facilitating time for them to play with baby?

-Take a break: seriously. Set aside 15 minutes each day that is yours. Run, bathe, read, watch YouTube cat videos, dance, eat cheesy nachos. I don’t care what it is. But do something for 15 minutes that is just for you.

-Pursue community: listen y’all. Satan wants you to believe that you are in this alone. He wants us to think that we are the only person who has ever walked this path or that nobody will understand us or that nobody cares how we feel. DON’T BELIEVE THESE LIES. Surround yourself with people who care about you and will speak Truth into your life. We need people who will help us along this path of sanctification.