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30 Things to Accomplish in my 30s:
#25. Pay cash for a high-quality, gently-used, fuel-efficient, American-made car.

I commute roughly 250 miles per week and where I come from, when you have to drive 25 miles each way for something, you’re going to be driving through about 22 miles of…. nothing.

22 miles of fields.
22 miles of sunshine.
22 miles of wind, ice, fog and blowing snow.
22 miles of skunk stink.
22 miles of -0° F temps.
22 miles of mist, rain, hail and tornados.
22 miles of pheasants, deer, and tumbleweed that might cross your path.
22 miles of school bus stops and kids running across the road to hop on the bus.

Winter around here can be very cold and very treacherous.

The first winter I had this job, I was very much concerned with the fact that it was possible my car could die on the side of the road and I wouldn’t be able to get to work anymore.

I intended to save scads of money for the purpose of purchasing said gently used, fuel efficient, American-made car.

I had my eye on this:
image

Ford Escape.

Because, you need lots of room for
3 Tire irons
Full-size spare
3 blankes
Sleeping bag
Bag chair
Extra set of windshield wipers
A shovel
5 quarts of oil
A gallon of antifreeze
HEET
Flares
A mini air compressor
A floodlight
First Aid kit
CPR mask
A toolbox
Snowboots
2 jacks
Scrubs
An overnight bag

Because you never know what might happen when you’re 22 miles from anything.

Because it’s 4-Wheel Drive.
That might come in handy somewhere along 22 miles of ditches on either side of 22 miles of black ice.

Because with a 15 gallon gas tank and fuel efficiency of 29 MPG, I can get to work and back 9 times before having to fill up.

I was all gung-ho about this until it turned out that I had to move last January.

And then I bought a house.

My gently-used, fuel-efficient, American-made car fund currently stands at about $0.

In case anybody is interested, here is a link to a video on how you can drive new cars without having a car payment!

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2016 in 30 Things

 

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30 Things, 4 Years Later: Day 8

30 Things to Accomplish in my 30s:
#8 Pay off all debt.

I didn’t think through this goal very well.

It doesn’t seem to be compatible with all the others. See, goals usually cost money.

Like buying a house.

And going to  school.

Because I’ve met those goals, it might take a while to reach this goal. But it’s doable.

I guess you could say that since I got a job that increased my annual income by more than it cost me to go to school, I came out ahead, but I’m still working on it.

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2016 in 30 Things

 

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I’ve been reading a book called Angel Sister. The main family in the story consisted of a husband and wife who were children of men who wanted to control and micromanage them. Their fathers let them know what they were expected to do (beginning with not marrying each other), and when they — as adults — “defied” their fathers, their fathers told them that they were ungrateful and rebellious, and then they told everybody else the same thing.

Several years later, the family was starting to fall apart. The husband began drinking. The wife was at a loss as to what to do. The oldest and youngest daughters were clueless that any of this was happening, and the middle daughter was the glue that held them together. She was the one that got dear old dad in bed when he came home drunk. She did everything she could to keep the peace in the family.

Near the end of the book, the wife’s father died. When she told her step-mother that there was nothing she could do now that he was gone, the step-mother told her “he always said you were an ungrateful daughter.”

The narrative throughout the next couple of pages consists of the thoughts that go through this character’s mind after hearing her step-mother’s words. She reminds herself of all she’s done. She asks what she could have done better. She comforted herself with words from the Bible that reminded her that even though she wasn’t — and could never be — perfect, God still loved her, and He would honor her efforts, even if her father (and step-mother) didn’t.

The following is a paragraph that concludes her thoughts on the matter:

It didn’t matter what Carla said. It didn’t matter what Nadine’s father might have said before he died. Nadine had been a dutiful daughter. Perhaps too dutiful. She and Victor had both let their fathers’ expectations of them color too much of their life together. Expectations that neither of them had ever been able to live up to.

* * * * *

There comes a time when one must be allowed to grow up.

* * * * *

I’m not a parent, but I think I understand how situations like the one in the book can happen. Parents don’t want their children to experience the consequences of making poor choices, so the parent tries to make all the decisions so that if something goes wrong, they can only blame themselves.
Or maybe the parent is just a jerk.

Of course, there are probably millions of reasons why this could happen. But this post isn’t about reasons.

* * * * *

It’s very difficult to be that child.

You know what is expected, and you (typically) do it because you know that if you don’t, word vomit will ensue.

“You’re not supposed to do that! You know better than that!”

“But I told you to do _____________, and you did _____________ instead. What are you thinking?”

“I’m so disappointed in you.”

“If you do that, you are going to ruin my whole week.”

“You were supposed to use that money for ______________, not for that stupid ____________.”

* * * * *

The past few weeks I’ve been thinking about this phenomenon.

It’s sort of like, if you don’t have the opportunity to assert your independence when you’re growing up, you will never have an opportunity to assert your independence — because every opportunity you have is shadowed by the lies.

The lies that tell you that somehow, you are responsible for making sure that everybody is happy and that if somebody isn’t happy, it’s somehow your fault. The lies that tell you that you’re not allowed to live because you’re so busy simply existing as perfectly as is humanly possible.

The lies bring death.

You’re so busy living for other people that you don’t get a chance to live for you.

And the saddest part is that the person who is telling you what to do and be doesn’t get any joy out of it either.

In the end, you have one person (or maybe two) who is pacified (neither happy nor unhappy) and a person — yourself — who is bored, sad and dead on the inside.

* * * * *

I’ve been that person for a very long time.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been reading and studying some stuff and have come to the conclusion that this has got to stop.

Because no one benefits from a person who is sad, bored and slightly petrified on the inside.

I’ve seen it in my work. I was so bored with work — because I’ve been conditioned to believe that the only reason you work is so you can pay your bills. And put food that you don’t even like on the table. And maybe buy some nice thrift store clothes that were in style in 1997. And, pay extra on loans. Like, every penny that doesn’t go toward bills, nasty food and severely outdated thrift store bargains goes toward paying off loans. Oh — and tithing.

Your money isn’t supposed to be used for living. It’s just there to help you — sadly — exist.

I’ve seen it in relationships. Picture the new dad who vows that his baby girl isn’t going to date until she’s 35. That kind of loneliness leads to sadness. Boredom. A hard little lump that’s supposed to be a vibrantly, joyfully beating heart.

People give you a purpose. But it’s a purpose that only brings stagnation. You’re there to serve people, and if you’re not serving them, you aren’t supposed to be around them. Giving. Giving, giving and giving some more. But you never receive anything in return. And you die a little bit on the inside.

I’ve seen it in how I keep my house. Why take care of something that is only meant to keep the rain and snow off of you? You’re not supposed to enjoy the place you are most of the time. It’s not supposed to be pretty. Don’t put stuff on the walls because when you move, you’ll have to fill the nail holes. Don’t buy anything new, because when you move, the windows won’t be the same size and you might not be able to fit that bed into the new place. Thrift store bargains are good enough.

All the things they say-

You can’t afford to get a better car.

You shouldn’t waste your time and money on a vacation.

Why must you be friends with THAT person when THIS one would do just fine?

Thanksgiving won’t be the same without you.

Just please…. let me be a grownup. That’s all I ask.

I want to have the freedom to traipse through a car lot without feeling guilty for entertaining the notion that I could plunk down a pile of cash and drive off with a new car.

I want the freedom to talk to men and not feel guilty because I’m not allowed to date until I’m 35. Or because I might be causing him to “stumble” simply by looking in his direction. That’s way too much pressure. I just want the freedom to…. be. The freedom to let things happen — and to not feel guilty because I’m feeling something other than sad, bored and slightly petrified on the inside.

I want the freedom to spend my money how I want to spend it — because if I can spend it how I want to spend it, it’s so much nicer having to earn it. Work is more fun. The people around you are more interesting. It helps end the sadness, boredness and deadness.

I mostly want the freedom to do what I want to do and to not feel like I have to hide it from people. Because that kind of secret brings sadness. Loneliness. Brokenness. Pain. Death. I’m so done with that. I just want the freedom to be me.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2013 in Current Events

 

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Now what?

I voted for the first time in the year 2000.

Three months later, I got a jury summons.

Uck.

The cool thing about it was that it paid $25 per day, which was a lot of money as far as I was concerned.

The drawback was that I hadn’t even graduated from high school.

Who knows how long this jury thing could last?

I didn’t want to get behind in school, so I pushed myself to get ahead, just in case I was selected for jury. I pushed myself so hard that I completed roughly a week’s worth of reading assignments each day, and by the time jury rolled around, I was nearly done with the curriculum. I completed my last assignment the first week of March.

I was not chosen for jury, so that left me with a lot of time that was full of a lot of nothing.

At that time, my family was attending a huge Evangelical Free church, and one of the pastors had invited us for dinner one day. We hadn’t interacted with anyone at any church for several years, so it was a little weird to be there. The pastor and his wife were sweet people who treated all of us younger ones like we mattered and like it was ok to contribute to society in one way or another. They kept asking us questions like, “So, what grade are you in?” and “What’s your favorite sport?”

For me, the most baffling question of all was, “Well, what are you going to do now?”

I had explained that because of the jury duty thing, I had worked hard to get done with school early. When I answered the “what are you going to do now?” question with, “I don’t know….” the pastor’s wife said, “I have an idea!”

She explained that the church was in need of people to help out with child care during their women’s Bible study, and she felt that I would probably be good at it.

I didn’t give a definite answer at the time. Because of the mindset of the people in charge of the church I spent the first 10 years of my life at, I saw myself as property of the men in my life, and I felt that I needed to have permission to work. I didn’t know a single “Christian” woman (meaning a woman who believed the stuff I had been taught all my life) who worked.

Looking back, I can see this was a pivotal moment in my life. I was being offered normalcy from a “worldly” perspective, but if I wanted to be “normal” to the world, I was going to have to choose to become “abnormal” to everybody and everything I’d known before.

What’s a girl to do?

Finally, I decided that there were certain advantages to working — even ones that would serve me well as a wife and mother, number 1 being that I was assigned to work as a tutor to home schooled kids from first grade to 4th grade. I would be learning how to teach — good skill for a future home-school mom, right?

I went to work faithfully every Tuesday morning, gathered my students together and we would learn together. I worked with a set of twins — one who was ridiculously advanced and the other was ridiculously behind. When this little boy had been in public school, his teachers had told his mom that he would not be able to learn at the same rate as his classmates and she should not expect him to satisfactorily complete the year. The mother told me all this and she said, “Just do the best you can with him. I’m not going to hold it against you if he can’t finish the curriculum by the end of the year.”

I worked with this little boy and I had the pleasure of answering his questions and explaining things as he went through his curriculum. He learned math and phonics. He had a hard time with reading comprehension, but we would talk about what things meant and every single time, he would “get” it. I loved to hear his laugh every time a lightbulb would begin to glow. This little boy also had behavioral problems, but after the first couple of weeks, those completely disappeared. He was having so much fun learning that he didn’t have time (or the desire!) to rebel. After working with him for only two months, he completed his curriculum, was much more disciplined (meaning he was able to sit still long enough to learn something), and he had discovered the joy of learning.

I consider those two months to be one of the most successful periods of my life. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as seeing a kid go from being a holy terror in school to being anxious to learn.

The Bible study was over the end of May, and I decided to spend several weeks with my grandparents. They had several guests that summer, so I got to know lots of relatives, step-relatives and step-relatives-by-marriage. My family does family. If you’re related to one of my relatives, you’re my relative, even if you’re only cousin Agnes’ step-cousin’s wife’s brother. If nothing else, we know who you are and we care about what’s going on in your life. (But maybe that’s just the small-town thing. When you sneeze in a small town, somehow, within a few hours, someone will have sent over some chicken noodle soup and everybody’s calling to ask how your cold is today.)

That summer, I helped Grandma prepare for a big old family reunion. And after the party was over, I went home to find a “real” job (You know — one that paid more than $12/week) and figure out what I was going to do with my life.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in My Story

 

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