Happy First Monday in November! We’re running a challenge from our Hail Marry Hangout Facebook group this month designed to help you struggle less with the trappings of money in advance of Advent.
If you’ve been a reader for awhile, you know that we did something similar this past Lent.
What Is It?
A No-Spend month is exactly as it sounds, with a caveat. It isn’t talking about shirking all responsibility to pay bills. It’s about freezing all unnecessary and discretionary spending.
Essentially, you will pay only your bills and what you decide is a line item for this month’s budget. I mentioned in Friday’s podcast that were moving, so we have some moving expenses as a line item. We’re already done Christmas shopping, so that isn’t on there for me, but it is for some of the ladies in the challenge group.
This looks different for everyone. We all have our reasons and shared them (as well as potential pitfalls) in our group.
We just started Week 2 today, so you can still join us if you’d like! We’d love to have you. You can join us here on Facebook.
If the timing is just terrible for you right now, being so close to the holidays, we get it. We anticipate running another No-Spend Lent challenge as well, if you want to plan ahead!
In the comments, let us know what your why for a spending freeze is or…head on over to the group and tell us there!
While they discussed options for celebrating Mother’s Day, I excused myself from the dinner table, retreated to my closet, and cried.
It was that kind of weekend. Preceded by that kind of week.
We had something every single day this week. Extracurriculars, meetings, appreciation dinners, commitments at our parish, a work thing for Superman, a performance, a game night and our weekly “junk night,” which both gave way to new plans for hanging out with both our parents. Full week.
Little Miss can be intense sometimes. She feels very deeply and can empathize with almost anyone. Her heart is full of compassion, which sometimes leads to worry of others. She’s also extremely hard on herself and the child can have a temper that you wouldn’t expect from someone so compassionate.
She’s gifted, which means her brain is wired differently. It also means her normal emotional scale is much higher than the average child her age. Add to that a week like the one described above, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
I am a planner. Superman can be a little more spontaneous, but he likes contingencies. Little Miss thrives when everything is planned and when things go according to said plan.
I’m pretty sure we were all sleep deprived this week. Superman and I had nearly no couple time together, as we fell asleep nearly immediately after getting home (late) and getting Little Miss to bed.
It was also Teacher Appreciation Week last week and we wanted to bring coffee and donuts and treats to the teachers in the morning, which meant leaving the house earlier to buy these things. Which meant waking up earlier.
By Friday, we were all a little spent.
Pumpkin Spice Latte Face
Rachel and I have a “PSL face” that we use when we see or hear something crazy. For Rachel, it’s almost involuntary. I love it. For both of us, we use little emojis to let one another know when we’re feeling a little PSL face-y via text. We tend to use an orange because the only pumpkin is a Jack-o-lantern.
Here’s my Friday evening text to Rachel:
We were supposed to have a family game night at home Friday night. We opted to hang out with my parents and brother for a little bit, came home to a mini junk night (with a glass of wine) and Barbie and the Secret Door. It’s one of my favorite Barbie movies. I fell asleep on the love seat with Little Miss in my arms. Not exactly the family time we’d planned for.
Saturday began blissfully, but by the end of it, the exhaustion set in in Little Miss. We got into tiny arguments over everything and I fell asleep before Superman came to bed. Rough afternoon and evening.
This day, too, began well. We were united in goal and mind. As the day unfolded, though, timelines began to shrink and change and the window of our usual Sunday movie and junk night grew smaller and smaller until it wasn’t a feasible option.
Little Miss didn’t react with her usual intensity. Instead she said just above a whisper, with tears in her eyes, “We didn’t get very much family time this weekend.”
My hear broke a little, but then we sat down to eat dinner and began discussing the week, including Mother’s Day. There I was, feeling like a failure as a mother (and, yeah, okay, also a wife) after hearing my daughter’s words about family time and she suggested to Superman that they give me some time by myself for Mother’s Day.
I broke. While they continued to discuss options for celebrating Mother’s Day, I excused myself from the dinner table, retreated to my closet, and cried.
There’s Beauty in the Breakdown
You know that Frou Frou song from Garden State, “Let Go?” Listen to it here if you don’t. There’s a line that says, “It’s alright, ’cause there’s beauty in the breakdown.”
As I sat in the dark of my closet, weeping, I was able to see clearly. This–this hectic, overscheduled, over-committed, bursting calendar family we’ve become–is not what I want for us.
Our Family Vision
Superman joined me in the closet and I expressed this to him. There, on the floor, in the dark, we redefined our family vision.
1. Our immediate family comes first. If we’ve committed to a family game night, nothing can supersede that.
2. Weekends are sacred. Obviously, we will attend Mass and Faith Formation on Sunday, but we will not schedule things that distract us from family time on the weekends.
3. Make time for play. Poor Little Miss. We have several parks nearby and the girl definitely had a good supply of playthings, but when we’re always running, it’s hard to squeeze that time in. Play time is going to take priority. She’s a child. She needs it. We do, too.
It’s that time of year! The time for new beginnings. That means new commitments and new promises. New unrealistic goals that aren’t measurable… wait, what? People do that?! This year, we’re each launching a “Resolutions 2017” plan.
My 2016 resolutions went out the window, pretty much, because my plans completely changed course when I met my husband, who for the purposes of this blog will be known as Superman. 2016 was a whirlwind of things not planned for both my family and Rachel’s, and we were intricately entwined in one another’s happenings. While I am sure that there will be unforeseen circumstances in 2017, and I’m equally sure that our lives will continue to intertwine, Rachel and I decided to correct the failings of resolutions from 2016 in 2017.
Resolution, when that word pops up I automatically think diet, exercise, travel, becoming a millionaire by the time I am 40. This year though I am going to be doing exercise and a diet but not for my body but for my soul. Sure I would love to be in shape, eat the greenest food, have all the money, and travel to the most amazing places. Those goals wouldn’t mean anything to me without Christ. He should be our cornerstone, our foundation, and our light upon our path.
Yet year after year he’s not any of those things and keeps on being left behind. This year I have a plan, the heart, and gumption to live fully in his light. Here are my thoughts and plans laid out on my Christ-centered life this New Year and for the years to come.
For me, I’ve got a newly established family unit, new family members to consider, and changing volunteer commitments. Therefore, this year, I decided to keep my resolutions segmented (for organization’s sake). I have one personal spiritual resolution, we have a family spiritual resolution, and I have a health resolution that is completely cliché, but…it’s on there anyhow…and I choose to see them all as a commitment to God in 2017.
One of my favorite Christian singers is Francesca Battistelli. She gets it. The girl can sing, and her lyrics call to me. She’s got one song called “The Crazy Kicks In” and it is my 2017 theme song. It’s sung from the perspective of a busy wife and mother (present!) speaking to God about spending a little time with him before everyone else wakes up and goes crazy and life happens. She says “a little time with You, the only way to get me through the day…come meet me in this moment, before it all gets going.” This is true.
Little Miss and Superman have needs and wants and requests that I field in the morning while getting myself ready. It can be crazy. So I am going to get up thirty minutes before my love, start the coffee, and delve into Kristi’s Time with God. If you don’t know the song, check it out here on YouTube (not our video).
I also love Audio Adrenaline, both old and new. On the Underdog album there’s a song called “This Day.” In it, they sing, “I wanna say a prayer before my feet can hit the ground. Lord, I give this day to you.” The concept of a morning offering isn’t new to Catholics. Those living the monastic life have practiced this for years. God has given me everything I have. Every blessing and every cross. It isn’t too much to give him each day.
My friend Cyndi says, and I’m paraphrasing, “If your children don’t see you spending time in the Word of God, don’t expect them to spend time in the Word of God.” Wow. So simple, yet it’s a powerful reminder of many things. It’s a reminder that, as a mother, my child will learn from what I do and will display the behavior which I model. It reminds me that my husband and I signed up to help get one another to Heaven when we said our vows. Don’t I need to know God’s Word and exactly what we’re called to and asked of to accomplish that? I am a witness for Christ. I am his hands and feet. It reminds me that I need to fully know Christ in order to witness to others and to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
This could also mean that in addition to a private morning offering time, I return to a Bible study class. I was going at the end of 2015, then 2016 got a little crazy, and I made it for basically April and May. That’s two months out of twelve. Those numbers aren’t that great. I’m already scheduled pretty tightly on the weeks, but that excuse doesn’t really hold water when you consider the phrase “If it’s important, you make time for it.” God’s pretty important. I’m just gonna leave that right there…
I’ve said before how blessed Superman and I feel that our family was in 2016. Even so, I don’t feel that we gave back as much of that blessing as we could have. Over the end of 2016, I kept being struck by the idea that Jesus died on that cross for me. Despite the fact that I constantly fail in living the life I’m called to live. Now, I know that we all do to some extent, but I feel so grateful for God’s mercy that I decided, perhaps, some additional sacrifice on our part as a thank you for our blessings was in order.
For those of you who don’t know, Catholics give up meat on Fridays during Lent (the period between Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday) and on Good Friday as a sacrificial penance of sorts. We abstain from meat in a very meek and small act of solidarity with the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made for us. Many Catholics observe the practice outside of Lent, too, as was the custom for many years, on each Friday of the year. This year, we will be abstaining from consuming meat on all Fridays (excepting special occasions such as birthdays, in which we’ll “transfer” our meatless day to maintain this weekly abstinence).
Superman loves the gym. I often joke that the gym is his first wife, and while I knew that he was passionate about it when I married him, I am less passionate about it. I’m a girl who likes yoga and Pilates (but rarely does them). I’m a girl who could just go for walks every day and be content. But, I’m also a girl in near-desperate need of some increased upper body strength and some improving bone density…tightening my core a little more wouldn’t be a bad thing, either. Overall, toning would be very good for me.
I know this. I’m not so thrilled about this, but I know this. And I can see that Superman is chomping at the bit for me to go. I love that my husband is so excited that this is something we can share. And, I mean, we’re already paying for both my membership and the childcare fee, so…really, I need to go. For my health, for my budget, and for my husband.
This is usually the trendy resolution and it’s also one that has a track record of failing, time and again. But I choose to make this more than an attempt to lose weight and tone my body. While toning is definitely a byproduct I hope to achieve, I choose to see it as the following:
We’ll be checking in with you guys throughout the year to share how we’re doing on our resolutions and to see how yours are holding up, too. So tell us: what are some of your New Year’s Resolutions? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear them—and maybe pick up some new ones for ourselves!
Happy New Year!
Kristi & Rachel