December 2014 archive

The foolish woman and a blue chair

I nervously eyed the price tag and then back at the sales clerk, “Four hundred dollars huh?” She watched me lustfully stare at the blue beauty beckoning me from the store display.

“Don’t worry, we have our own credit card with a low interest rate so you will have it paid off in no time.”

I knew better. I was raised to never, ever buy something unless I had the cash BUT (there is always a but when we justify spending) I was 21, had my first full time job making 18K a year AND my first apartment!!! Besides, they said I would have it paid off in no time.

Yeah….no time translated to $50 plus interest for the next eight months. That was just ONE thing I bought for my apartment in 1998. The decorating bug hit me and my champagne taste on my Coors Light budget started an ugly ball rolling in my life that compounded….literally…over the next ten years.

When I bought that blue chair in 1998 I thought my apartment was the shizzzz. Compliments started rolling in about what a great place I had, what an eye for color I had,”You should be a decorator” etc…. Words, words…more words people…Kelly needs all the words.

I found these few snapshots in my basement of my super trendy apartment, ha!
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Do you see my blue chair in all its glory? I clearly have a future in decorating in Florida one day with my white pillars, glass top and bright colors. That dining room set was my other debt I incurred after the blue chair. Got it at Pier One! I was somethin’ I tell ya…somethin’. I was taking over the world one electric blue, lime green and white item at a time.

Three years later I went to Kazakstan for 10 weeks on a short term missions trip. I subleased my apartment, furnished, while I was gone to some friends. When I got back I found out that my precious blue chair now had a glob of dried super glue smack dab in the front center of the chair.

Cue sad tears, shock, horror, and knots in my stomach. How? Why? WHY?????

At the time I was devastated, showing my true attachment to this physical item. Now I think it is hilarious because it was the first of MANY lessons God was going to teach me about letting go of what rust and moths (and super glue) can destroy and really just live and use my stuff whether it was perfect or not. Super glue did not negate the fact it was a fun color and super comfortable chair.

Remember, I do come from a heritage of perfection and OCD…so I had to un-do a lot of thinking in my twenties. A LOT OF THINKING.

I’d like to show you the blue chair today. It currently takes up residency in my basement as a “junk” chair. Dried super glue is the least of this guys worries these days. Faded, stained, swirled with blue marker and left for dead by three ravenous children. I throw a blanket over him to hide his shameful secrets. Maybe someday I can afford to recover him. Maybe.

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It’s time to talk about debt and over shopping. It’s time to address the foolish woman that lives inside all of us. It’s time to look at the “blue chairs” in our life.

Proverbs 22:7
“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”

Proverbs 14:29
“He who is impulsive exalts folly.”

Maybe your kryptonite isn’t house stuff, maybe it’s fancy purses, staying on trend with clothes, new cars, vacations, eating out constantly, jewelry, crafting supplies, technology, gym memberships and gear, organic living and supplements. Is there anything evil in the examples listed..not at all! It’s the manner in which they are bought and the heart intention behind them that has to be called in to question.

The never ending wall scuffs. Praise God for Magic Erasers.

The never ending wall scuffs. Praise God for Magic Erasers.

The United States is the poster child for excess…in our country of credit card offer after credit card offer filling our mailboxes, online shopping, free shipping, cash checking stores, layaway, etc…. We have become insatiable in our desires for stuff and the accessibility in which we can acquire it. The idea of moderation, cash only purchases, self control, saving up, and saying “No” makes you some freak of nature person who lives in the dark ages.

Whoever invented stainless steal never had kids.

Whoever invented stainless steal never had kids.

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established, through knowledge it’s rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” Proverbs 24:3-4

A couple of posts ago I blogged my first house tour using this Proverb. This was to show a home that was filled with “rare and beautiful treasures” thriftily and thoughtfully arranged for use in the kingdom. That will be the purpose of any future house tour posts.

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I really want to tackle the first part of that Proverb. WISDOM BUILDS.

I’m showing you my imperfect home. I still love to decorate but now I only use cash and 90% of what is in our home is second hand or free. That was huge and liberating for me to realize you can still have a great house and not purchase it brand new from a store.

Truly the worlds most comfortable chaise lounge bought off a friend for $50.  It's struggling in areas but nothing a nice throw can't cover up in a jiffy.

Truly the worlds most comfortable chaise lounge bought off a friend for $50. It’s struggling in areas but nothing a nice throw can’t cover up in a jiffy.

I am most miserable when I am trying to maintain perfect in my home. I birthed three “home wreckers” named Sticky, Dirty and Poopy. Their job is to smash my dreams of a clean and picked up home within seconds of being awake. It doesn’t mean I don’t try to keep the house picked up, and truthfully it is picked up most all the time but I have to hold my belongings with a very VERY loose grip. The kids have chores and are quite helpful at times but still…I have a toddler that is running rampant all day making out with my windows among other annoying, destructive things.
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Bennett was mad he had to write lines for a punishment so he wrote on my vintage chair. Then I burned all his Legos....in my mind.

Bennett was mad he had to write lines for a punishment so he wrote on my vintage chair. Then I burned all his Legos….in my mind.

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We have actually acquired some sweet stuff from Ryan’s work place at Moore and Giles. I mean they make GORGEOUS leather goods. Gonna brag on my baby. He is the photographer and web designer there. All those incredible photos of leather and leather goods on their site are his skills that pay our bills!!

They have a warehouse sale once a year and this is where we scored deals like this…. $800 metallic gold poof for $25 because we bought it already “broken in”! I simply spin the poof towards the chair and WAHLAH it looks perfect!
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Or this $1000 buttery soft leather chair we got for $75. Rhett thought is was a super great spot to sharpen his claws. You never know when your kids will act like feral children.
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Our well worn hide.
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Why am I showing you all this? Partially to show that all of these items were new at some point and now they clearly are not. Not in the least. They have been loved and at times abused.

My huge white shag carpet in my living room is now a marbled pattern of white and gray. SO MANY PEOPLE have come through our living room and that’s the pattern of conversation, prayer and hospitality that is well worn over the last 2.5 years. I got the carpet at the Re-Store (Habitat for Humanity) for $100 (90% off!) So I can let guys who work manual labor and don’t want to take off their work boots and gag us out with their stinky, hot feet keep their boots on and come and sit in our living room and enjoy the cup of community. I don’t have to uncork my butt every time something is spilled or ripped. It’s not a free for all at my house. The kids aren’t allowed to eat anywhere but the dining room but stuff happens. I’m the worse coffee spiller offender of anyone in the house hands down!

My IKEA Craigslist Couch..came pre-stained!

My IKEA Craigslist Couch…my coffee spilling handiwork

Aftermath of quiet time.

Aftermath of quiet time.

When Ryan and I got married almost ten years ago we had a collective debt of $60,000. YUP….GO US!!! 28K in student loans, 12K in credit card debt, Car loans and various other things. Also Ryan didn’t have a job and I got pregnant six months later so we were losing my income shortly. You want to know what it is to panic? To feel like a vice is around your neck when you open your mail? It’s an awful feeling. We know debt.

Apparently not awful enough for most people.

I googled statistics on the average household debt in America as of this month.

Current as of December 2014
U.S. household consumer debt profile:

Average credit card debt: $15,608
Average mortgage debt: $154,847
Average student loan debt: $32,397
In total, American consumers owe:

$11.71 trillion in debt
An increase of 3.8% from last year
$881.8 billion in credit card debt
$8.13 trillion in mortgages
$1,126.0 billion in student loans
An increase of 9.6% from last year

That is D-I-S-G-U-S-T-I-N-G. There is no end in site. We are a country grossly out of control. Ryan and I were a couple who had blown giant holes in our marriage ship and we were sinking rapidly. One of the number one reasons for divorce in our country is financial strain.

Our church offers a financial study called Crowne Financial Ministries. We did not walk, we ran to register for this study within the first few months of marriage. What in the free world were we going to do to get out of debt, financially recover from losing my teaching salary and bring peace into our home?

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Say it with me….self-control. Now louder…..SELF-CONTROL. Snip, snip, snip the credit cards went. We absolutely, positively did not eat out, go to movies, exchange gifts, travel, take vacations, etc. It was so hard. I MEAN IT. A stupid cup of Starbucks coffee was cause for discussion. We sacrificed by staying home for most of the first 5-7 years of our marriage. You know what…that’s a hidden blessing!

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One of the questions Crowne asks of it’s attendees is “Is there anything you and your spouse can do to generate income?” This is where the idea of Kellan came about. People have some misunderstanding that we were two banging photographers that got married and this business just took off. Nope. I took one year of film photography in high school 12 years prior and Ryan had a Canon Rebel he took pictures with for funsies. I had a business/marketing background. He is technologically quite advanced and so we pushed our skill chips in together to see what we could come up with.

It is a miracle that anyone booked us in 2006. We had ZERO portfolio and no equipment but with my born saleswoman pitch and Ryan’s photography ability (which saved his ignorant wife who had no idea how to shoot digitally)…we razzle-dazzled our first 12-18 months with a giant cloud of smoke and mirrors around us until we actually knew what we were doing.

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Our photography business took off and off and off and we could raise and raise and raise our prices the better we got. Now that also brought a whole host of issues in our marriage with working 24 hours a day 7 days a week. (Read my About tab for that drama) but I am so happy to say that we not only took back our marriage we have paid off over $50K in debt in the last nine years (takes a bow). That is so crazy to even type but man I know the struggle and it was real to get to this point of almost being debt free. We are down to Ryan’s student loan and then the monkey will be off our back. It will be a glorious day once it happens and it will.

So I’m going to continue this post another time because there is much more to unpack about building a wise home. Let there be no mistake that the number one thing to a wise home is living in your means, saving, GIVING generously away to kingdom work, and USING what you have been given to bless your family and others. I can see no other way to live to cultivate peace and freedom in a home and marriage than that way. It may take years to get there but it is worth it! Don’t buy into the lie, especially in this season of “presents” that any “thing” is going to make you happy or fulfilled.

This season of Advent “coming” of baby Jesus is the perfect time to start fresh and new. He came to give us abundant life and freedom. To unshackle us from the chains we have on us voluntarily and involuntarily. His burden his light. He came to rescue us from all the weighs us down.

We put polaroids of places we have traveled and people that bless our lives to remember each year.

We put polaroids of places we have traveled and people that bless our lives to remember each year.

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