Friday, May 30, 2008

Crown Financial Study

I'm participating in a Crown Financial Study, and I have been learning so much about what God says about our finances, our work ethic, our giving. It's pretty awesome going through scripture and realizing that God has laid it all out so clearly for us. Here are some of the things we have been learning along with my comments:

1. Everything belongs to God. We first need to acknowledge that and release our perceived control over material possessions.

2. God has told us that we are to be content when our basic needs our met. "If we have food and clothing, we will be content" (1 Timothy 6:8) We need to stop whining about what we don't have and be grateful for all of the blessings we do have. We need to stop comparing ourselves to others.

3. We are to be faithful with what we are given. We are called to be good stewards of God's money. We need to continuously be prayerful about our purchases.

4. The bible discourages debt. "Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender" (Proverbs 22:7) The book lists out some things to consider when trying to get out of debt:

  • Pray
  • Sell what you are not using
  • Decide which debts to pay off first
  • Consider ways to earn additional income
  • Control the use of plastic
  • Be content with what you have
  • Consider a radical change in lifestyle
5. We are to seek counsel. "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel" (Proverbs 12 :15) Be careful of the counsel you seek. Make sure they don't have a stake in the outcome.

6. We are to be honest in our dealings. Money motivates dishonesty. "God is especially concerned with the honesty of Leaders". Leaders must set an example of honesty. This is why accountability is so important. "A tyrannical ruler lacks judgment, but he who hates ill-gotten gain will enjoy a long life" (Proverbs 28:16)

7. Be prayerful about giving. Give because God calls you to give. Don't give out of manipulation or sympathy. Be purposeful and intentional in your giving and give often. Be a cheerful giver. Give to the poor. I believe needy/poor is one in need of food, shelter, clothing...not someone that's got cell phones, internet, cable tv, house, cars, and chooses not to work - that's called "wanty" not needy. No amount of money will solve that problem.

8. God says that we are to work and work hard. He is our true "boss". "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.....It is the Lord Christ whom you serve" (Colossians 3?23-24). WOW! I was convicted by this one, as I'm sure most of us are. For us SAHM, how about we start praising Him as we are mopping the floors, changing diapers, doing dishes, washing clothes! I remember at our previous church the pastor's salary had to be decreased. He went out and took a job delivering pizzas. Okay, here's the awesome part. When he would talk about his job, he would get so excited. He had the attitude of "Wow, what an awesome job God has given me because people are calling me to come to their house - look at the opportunity I have been given". He was excited about all of the chances he was going to have to witness to people. I've never seen anyone have so much enthusiasm about delivering pizzas. I have no doubt that most of us (including myself) might have been having ourselves one of those "poor me" moments....I can hear us now "Well, I'm not making enough, so I'm having to get this second job...delivering pizzas" in our most feel-sorry-for-me voice. He was living Colossians 3:23-24. My prayer is that I will have that zest for the jobs God gives to me. Also, God says that we are not to mooch off of others. "With labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we might not be a burden to any of you.....in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you might follow our example" (2 Thessalonians 3:8-9)

9. God says we are to be a steady plodder. "Steady plodding brings prosperity, hasty speculation brings poverty" (Proverbs 21:5) Okay, here is where we discussed compound interest...which is an awesome thing!

That's what we've gone through so far. Also, we compiled of list money saving ideas, which I will post later.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mystery Image

You know how people find the face of Jesus on a piece of toast or George Washington's face on a grilled cheese sandwich? Well, we at the Ferguson household had our own little face phenomenon, which appeared on our kitchen table. Actually, it wasn't just a face but an entire person. See for yourself.......






We aren't sure when the mysterious image actually surfaced. We believe it was sometime between Sunday morning and Sunday evening. We are pretty sure it's either Barbie or Cinderella.

If you are wondering if you might have an opportunity to bid on this item on eBay, we are sorry to say, NO. After much thought and consideration, we have decided that we just can't part with it. This table has been our gathering spot for a countless number of meals, homework, games, discussions, and now it's artwork.

So, next time you are at the Ferguson's abode, you are welcome to view our little phenomenon. And if you are lucky, and we are in a good mood, we might even let you have your picture taken with it.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Those Ferguson's Are Crazy!

Something many of you may not know about the Ferguson's is that we are a pretty funny family, if I do say so myself. On the outside, it may be hard to see. Especially in Eddie since he seems all reserved and quiet. Don't be fooled. He's the one you really need to look out for. He's a closet comedian.

There's a practical joke in our house that has been going on for some time now. This is how it goes. Somebody makes their sack lunch. Then somebody else sneaks miscellaneous items into that lunch (sometimes this could be strange food items, toys, a picture, book, stick, rock, you get the picture). The idea is that when that person goes to sit down to start eating their lunch, they begin pulling out all of these strange items out of the bag. You can just imagine the look of confusion on their face like "Well, how on earth did a sock get into my lunch?" The joke is even funnier when this person is surrounded by co-workers or classmates. Then that person comes home that day and shares how it all went down and we all laugh and laugh and say "we really got ya" and they say "yeah, you got me".

Well, it's been a while since somebody has had the "miscellaneous item in the sack lunch" joke played on them. That was until yesterday. I picked up Jordan from school and lo and behold, he gets in the car and I look over at him and he's wearing a pair of orange goggles. Conversation is something like this:

Mom: Why are you wearing those?

Jordan: They were in my lunch today.

Mom: HEHEHEHEHEHE (hysterical laughter)

Jordan: Yeah, along with a small box of cereal and some oatmeal.

Mom: Well, did anyone see you open your lunch? (remember the joke is more fun when there are witnesses)

Jordan: Yeah, I pulled out the goggles and people were starring and I just said I was planning on going swimming after school.

Mom: Good one!

Jordan: Then the teacher looked at me and I just said "see what kind of family I come from" and she went (and he did the universal sign for crazy).

Mom: Eddie got you.

Jordan: Yeah, he got me.

Look, I've never tried to pretend that we are normal!

Anyway, we Ferguson's love our practical jokes, but sometimes it can go too far. The following event took place when I was giving Averi a bath.

I'm leaning over the tub, washing her hair, and out of the blue "WHACK"! She nails me in the side of the head and face with her fully soaked washcloth. Stunned, I gave her the "oh no you didn't just whack me with a sopping wet washcloth" look. Her "I just really got mommy good and she's going to be cracking up" look quickly faded off of her mischievous little face and turned into an "oops, that didn't go over as I expected" look.

Here's the play by play:

Mom: Averi, NO MAM! You don't hit mommy with your washcloth.

Averi: But mommy, it was just funny.

Mom: No Averi, it was not funny.

Okay, I know it was sort of funny. Alright really funny in an inappropriate kind of way.

I walk out of the bathroom and Eddie is standing there. I've got half of my hair soaking wet and the look of shock has still not worn off.

Play by play:

Eddie: What happened?

Sammi: Averi just whacked me with her wet washcloth.

Now this is one of those parenting moments where we both just looked at each other and have no words. Laughter clearly is the only valid response. So we laughed...and we laughed....and we laughed some more (of course not where she could hear us).

Okay, so it appears that Averi might be modeling our bad behavior. It may be time for the "sometimes it can go too far" talk.

The Fergs vs. Cell Phones

So, it all started with the new trend of children having cell phones. I mean seriously....do children really need a cell phone? Well, according to I guess about 99.9% of parents...YES. Well, not this parent. I was going to stand my ground! It was going to be me vs. cool parents. I remained strong...repeating over and over and over my reasons why Jordan was not getting a cell phone:

1. I didn't have a cell phone until I was an adult and could pay for it myself
2. Just because the other kids have one doesn't mean you have to have one
3. Well, I'm not the other moms
4.. It's too much responsibility for a child
5. What if you go over the minutes
and my most favorite one of all...
6. Well, if all of your friends have one, then you don't need one because you can just use theirs :)

Well, I begin doubting my line of reasoning and these selfish thoughts started creeping in my mind....like being able to get ahold of him WHENEVER...WHEREVER, but I just couldn't fold under pressure.....it had become one of those "it's just THE PRINCIPLE OF THE THING". In other words, how in the world am I going to get him a phone without giving ANYONE especially him, the slightest belief that I had crossed over to the other side....becoming one of those....oh it's so hard to even say the words...."cool moms"

So, to make a long story long....I buckled under the pressure, and we got him a phone. Don't be sad all you uncool moms out there...I was careful and made sure I maintained my "uncool mom" label. I laid down the law, oh don't you worry, I laid down the LAW!

Just a little side note here, you should have seen the look on Jordan's face when he opened up the bag with the cell phone...oh my goodness...it was a special moment. Like a little boy getting his first little puppy dog. He was just smitten! Well, aside from the fact that uncool mom here messed up by getting him a bright green cell phone instead of the standard black...OOPS! ;) So you see, I haven't lost it.

Alright, one might think that Jordan got his cell phone and lived happily ever after in utter cell phone junkie bliss, and this would be the end of the cell phone story, but oh no! It's only just begun.

So, shortly after Jordan gets the phone he says in his very careful not to sound ungrateful voice, "hey, does this phone have texting?"

TEXTING? Oh my gravy! TEXTING?

Of course uncool mom didn't think about getting texting. I mean seriously, why would I think that anyone might enjoy using their TELEPHONE to send messages? I mean if you have a TELEPHONE, why on earth would you opt for typing the words out on a keypad? PICK UP THE PHONE AND CALL THE PERSON...SERIOUSLY!

Back on track here, so after I spent some time talking with our service provider about this "texting" deal and found out that we couldn't get texting taken off the phone nor prohibit the phone from receiving text messages, Eddie and I talk it over and decided that while I'm taking the phone back to get the appropriate color for a 13 year old boy, we would get 400 text messages included on our plan for an extra 5.00 per month. This seemed like the reasonable thing to do. I mean 400 text messages...who could use 400 text messages in a month. Well, I'll tell you who...any and all tweens or teenagers in the United States...that's who and my son isn't excluded from that group. So, he spends the first three months rationing his text messages. I mean he was RATIONING. One month he ended the month with 396 text messages used. I'm guessing he was praying for midnight to get here on the 20th of that month! Let me tell all of you parents of these text messaging addicts....they aren't using there texting wisely...oh no! They will send like one word texts...."HI"...."HEY"...."HELLO". I mean seriously! Spend the extra 20 minutes punching in the letters on that tiny keypad to write a complete sentence! Or better yet, PICK UP THE PHONE AND CALL THE PERSON!

Okay, so my son has inherited my deal making skills, and he comes to me with a proposition. He informs me that we can get unlimited texting for "just 14.99 per month". He goes on to say that since we (uncool mom & semi-cool dad - Eddie tends to cross over on the other side sometimes) are already paying 5.00 per month for the 400 text messages, he will agree to pay another 10.00 per month towards the unlimited texting. Here's basically how the conversation went:

Jordan: Ummm, you know how you guys already pay $5.00 each month for the texting?

Uncool Mom: Yes. (knowing where this is going)

Jordan: Well, you know you can get unlimited for just $14.99 per month? Well, I was thinking that if I paid $10.00 per month...you know since you guys already are paying $5.00 anyway, then I could just have unlimited.

Uncool Mom: Hmmm.....

Jordan: I mean you are already paying $5.00.

Uncool Mom: Well, you know if we decided to do that, you would have to pay that upfront, and I'm not saying we are going to do that.

Jordan: OKAY (see he's already thinking it's a done deal)

Uncool Mom: And actually, you would probably need to pay two months ahead.

Jordan: Okay (a little less confident)

Uncool Mom: Well, let me talk with Eddie about it.

Okay, now this is like the 14th of the month and the billing cycle ends on the 20th. Uncool mom totally knows that Jordan is counting on getting unlimited before the 20th - meaning he doesn't have to ration his texting for the next 6 days because he'll have unlimited. Uncool mom sees this as an opportunity to teach Jordan a little something. Semi-cool dad concurs. Behind the scene, we agree that we will accept Jordan's proposal, but it will not go into effect until the next billing cycle. Do you see where I'm going with this? C'mon people, this is Parenting 101! This I like to call the "not counting your chickens before they hatch" technique.

Alright, I go back to Jordan with our counteroffer. He's no doubt excited but does comment that he "knew I was going to say that". Am I really that predictable or has he gotten his hands on the Uncool Mom's Playbook?

So, I call our provider and wouldn't you know it. They have an even better plan. Unlimited texting for all phones for just another $5.00 per month. So, I quickly have a flashback of a conversation Eddie & I recently had which was something like this:

Eddie: (laughing) Ray keeps texting me.

Sammi: (thinking..what? Grown men partake in this "texting" too) Well, you know that's like .15 cents per text.

Eddie: Yeah, I know...but he keeps sending them to me.

Sammi: Well, tell him to stop.

Eddie: Yeah, I'll call and tell him.

So, as that conversation replays in my head, and I'm doing the math that technically we were already paying 5.00 per month, Jordan's going to be paying 10.00, so REALLY we are only going to be paying another 5.00. So, I'm all "sure, we'll go ahead and do that".

I call Eddie and tell him the great deal I just got us :) He's actually excited and off he goes...texting away. He immediately shoots one off to Ray, which is:

Eddie: I've got texting now
Ray: Cool, we can be BFF's

Oh no! I've created a texting monster. What's an uncool mom to do, but join in on the texting fun.

So, now here we are. Totally texting away. Eddie text me. I text him. We both text Jordan. The other day, I even texted my friend, Samantha. And you know what, she text me right back. I need to ask her if she's got unlimited also.

So that my friends, is how we uncool moms get sucked in, pulled over to the other side...slowly, subtly, unknowingly, until it's too late.