Build Your Barn

If you’re a frequent reader, you may have noticed that I mention my mom in a lot of my posts.

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She is a talented writer, my most influential Christian role model, and truly exemplifies what it means to live out your faith. She has even had several devotionals published in The Upper Room, a daily devotional guide that is available in 33 different languages in 100 countries! I’d say she knows a thing or two about writing 🙂 She has always encouraged me to share my thoughts with others through the written word, and not only to write, but to write well.

She’s acquired so much wisdom over her lifetime and she and my dad have never been wrong in the advice they’ve given Daniel and me, especially when it comes to marriage. They will be celebrating their 34th wedding anniversary on Monday, so what better time for her to share some of her best marriage advice?

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When my daughter asked me to be a guest writer on her blog, my mind immediately whirled into overdrive.

After 34 years of marriage, I have quite a bit to say on the subject of newlyweds, marriage, husbands, and my contribution as a wife to the married state. In addition, I observed my own parents’ marriage of almost 45 years until my father passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack at age 71.

So, after musing on the marriage subject for awhile, I hearkened back to the sageness of my dad, whose wisdom I deeply respect and still rings in my ears 21 years after his death. One of the first “talking-to”s (that Southern slang term for sitting your gluteus maximus in a chair while someone else talks and you listen) I got when I was a newly engaged bride-to-be was this:

Dad: “Wilma, look around at all that your mother and I have accumulated over the years.”

I looked around and made the following wordless observations while I got my talking-to:

Me: Okay, life’s not bad. Our home is nice enough. We have three bedrooms and one bathroom. We have a car in the garage. We own our farm. Three square meals a day appear on our table, courtesy of sweet mom. You and mom sent me and sister to college. But, I wouldn’t say we are rich….no swimming pool in the backyard, no brand new car for me when I got my driver’s license, and we’re members of a REAL country club….we’re a farm family.

Dad: “I want you to know that when you get married, it takes YEARS to get established and grow your wealth. But just keep working at it. Time will go on and little by little, you’ll add to your bank account and build up your home.”

Me: Years? Oh, great. You mean when we get married, we’ll start out in a one-bedroom apartment with gold shag carpeting and matching harvest gold appliances, and we’ll drive two functional, but very OLD cars, and the A/C doesn’t even work in one?

Dad: “Patience is the key. Just work hard and don’t get greedy. Don’t go out and rack up debt on credit cards. Pay cash for things and build your barn slowly.”

Me: BARN?! Barns are great….for cows, horses, cats, tractors, cobwebs and mice. But I certainly don’t plan on living in one!

Dad: “You and Bill just work hard together, support each other, and don’t get in a big rush to get rich quick. That never works. Slow and steady wins the race, and at the end of the day, you’ll lay your head down on your pillow and have a clear conscience and you’ll sleep good. Marriage is a team effort, and if you’re willing to work hard and make some sacrifices, you’ll be like your mom and me someday and look back on the wonderful life you’ve built together.”

My dad’s advice and wisdom have never failed me. This is his wisdom that I am passing on to you too. Be blessed in your marriage, be patient and just enjoy the journey. Anticipation maximizes appreciation!

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Thank you, mom, for supporting my writing and sharing your marriage advice today! Happy 34th anniversary to you and dad, and stay spunky 😉

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Photography by Derek Couts

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3 Ways to Be Financially Responsible In Your Marriage

So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? – Luke 16:11

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Photo by Derek Couts Photography

Before the vows are said and the rings are exchanged, many couples like to prepare for the transition from dating to married life by discussing a variety of topics.

Where do we want to live? How many kids do we want to have? What church will we attend? What lifelong goals do we want to achieve?

Financial goals and expectations are topics that need to be discussed as well! Money is a large component of marriage, whether we like it or not, that has the ability to help or harm it. I’m not saying that money is everything, but when we steward our finances with intentionality and consistency, we add a level of comfort and convenience to our marriages that makes them more fun and enjoyable for both you and your spouse!

Here are a few things to help you do just that:

1. Keep a budget
I’ve hit on this topic before in a previous post, but it’s so important and I think bringing it up again is worthwhile. Setting a budget and sticking to it is how you and your spouse are going to reach your financial goals later on down the road. It might not be very fun when you first get into it, but you will thank yourself later for paying off debts and not overspending.

Being financially responsible by keeping a budget is just a better way to live. You will be able to do more things, go more places, and when unexpected events come your way, like an emergency room visit, you won’t be sent into a panic wondering whether or not you can foot the bill.

2. Make financial decisions together
Daniel and I have only lived in our apartment for a few months and we are just starting out. There are a few things that we’d like to have for our home, but we know that it’s not in our best financial interest to purchase these things just yet. However, there are several big ticket items I’ve had my eye on for a while now that I just know would make our little abode more homey and inviting. How easy would it be for me to hop on Wayfair and buy all the fancy rugs I’ve been ogling for months or go to Home Goods and buy everything in the store? Super easy!! But I have a feeling that my husband wouldn’t be very pleased with me if he were to check our bank account at the end of the day and discover that I had spent hundreds of dollars without consulting him first. So, we make our financial decisions together, no matter how big or small they are.

It might seem a bit trivial, but even when I plan on buying something small for our apartment, like a lamp or a pillow, or go searching for a new work outfit, I always let Daniel know what I intend to buy and how much I expect it to cost so that it doesn’t come as a surprise to him when he checks our account.

Communicating your purchases to your spouse can prevent a lot of arguments and ensures that you are both aware of your current financial status.

3. Have a joint bank account
I know this can be a wishy washy subject for some couples, but hear me out on this. When we commit to spending the rest of our lives with someone, why would we exclude our finances from that commitment? That’s like saying, “I promise to spend the rest of my life with you, through sickness and in health, till death do us apart … buuuuut I’m gonna need to keep my bank account separate from yours, ok?” It doesn’t work that way!

Having separate bank accounts can potentially lead to bad spending habits and a point of contention between you and your spouse.

Having separate bank accounts can potentially lead to bad spending habits and a point of contention between you and your spouse.

Let me clear this up a bit: If you and your spouse share a bank account, your husband or wife has the ability to check the account whenever they wish. They can see every penny coming in and going out of the account. This holds each of you accountable. This is good!

On the flip side, if you and your spouse have separate accounts, you can spend as much money as you want without having to disclose that information to anyone other than yourself. So when you know you’ve spent more money than you should have and you don’t want your spouse to know, you might find yourself lying about how much you’ve actually spent. When lies and deceit begin to enter our marriages, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem at first, we are setting ourselves up for a long and bumpy road that can easily be avoided.

When lies and deceit begin to enter our marriages, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem at first, we are setting ourselves up for a long and bumpy road that can easily been avoided.

By keeping a budget, making financial decisions together and having a joint bank account, you and your spouse will set yourselves up for financial and marital success, and be able to fully enjoy the fruits of your labor “as long as you both shall live”!

Being Hospitable Even When Your Home Is A Mess

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Maybe you’re like me and you’ve just moved into your first home. Or maybe you’ve been in your home for a while, but there are so many projects that need to take place before it even begins to mirror the vision in your head.

And the last thing you want to do is invite people over when you feel like your place of rest is a mess.

You’re afraid of what they might think or that your home won’t feel inviting. Maybe you’ll call them up when you have some new furniture or when the yard has been cut or when all the boxes have been unpacked. But not right now because your home just isn’t ready yet.

I’ve been there before. In fact, I’m still there! Many times throughout the day I think of all the things I wish we had in our apartment to make it more cozy, more decorative, more put together. I see what it looks like now and compare it to how I want it to look, and that makes it really difficult to be content with what we already have.

I’d tell myself, “When we have everything set up and it looks how I want it to look, then we’ll have people over”. But that’s just not what we’re called to do.

1 Peter 4:8-10 tells us, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 

Did you get that? Use whatever gift you have received to serve others. It doesn’t say, “Wait until your home looks perfect before you open it to others”. It doesn’t say, “Wait until all the shelves have been dusted and every room has been vacuumed before you open it to others”. It says whatever gift you have received is all that you need to serve others.

I began to realize that if I waited until our home looked exactly how I wanted it to look, it would be a long time before we’d have anyone over.

God doesn’t say “Come find me when you have your life together, and then we’ll talk”. Instead, he meets us where we are, unpacked boxes and all.

We can do the same thing when opening our homes to others. We don’t have to have it all together. We don’t have to have new furniture or a freshly cut yard to be hospitable.

We do what we can with what we have and God will take care of the rest.