The Pros and Cons of Cancelling Our Paris Trip

It’s too expensive; I’m working as much as I can and it still might not be enough–and too many things are falling through the cracks in the meantime. (And there’s the risk that Matt’s work might not reimburse us for all of his flight/hotel, which would be problematic.)

Can we do that for six more months? For a trip where we’ll only see each other during travel time and a few hours a day?

It isn’t the most logical choice. But I’m still sad about it. Sad but also relieved.

There was such a lovely amount of margin in our days last summer and fall where I wasn’t working (much) beyond the work of our home.

I had time to think and write more, time to keep the house up finally, time to teach the children chores and play games. More celebrations and fewer We all breathed easier. It might be an old-fashioned setup, but it served our family well.

Saying goodbye to a dream vacation means we can get that feeling back (though I’ll still work a little: we’re planning a trip to NYC instead, which is much more feasible).

We have tasted the privilege of having a dedicated at-home parent (who isn’t also working from home) and its benefits are emotional, physical, and even economic. A few days abroad aren’t worth giving up that gift.

But truth be told, I’ll probably still find time in the next day or two to cry over it. Anybody else need to do that to move on? Just me?

Enter Beast Mode

Yesterday, something big happened. This:

I have never had a prosthetic that wrapped up my leg, only shoe inserts or ones that pulled on like a sock.

I didn’t think I’d love this, but the guy explained that having a big prosthetic like this for heavy wear and tear would extend the life of the “pretty” one.

Basically, all I heard was “it’ll save a good bit of money in the long run” and I was sold.

There was a complication with the pretty one and it won’t be fixed for a few weeks, but friend, I don’t even care.

This big, bulky contraption that makes it obvious that I’m wearing a prosthetic? It feels amazing.

I am Superwoman. I propel forward with every step and my hips don’t roll.

My body is sore in the best possible way as it remembers how to walk evenly, or maybe for the first time.

And it reminded me of salvation. I was 18 when I finally learned that I could not earn my way to God, that I needed something outside myself because I was insufficient.

Similarly, my body is not whole. My foot lacks bones and toes and length; my soul lacked discernment and righteousness. Before this prosthetic, I didn’t know how it felt to walk rightly; before Christ, I didn’t see the world rightly, and therefore didn’t act rightly.

My foot is a constant reminder that we live in an imperfect world where the fall marks even our genetic code–but my prosthesis is a reminder of a kingdom that is here but not yet: it visibly shows correction of a problem without fully eradicating it.

And it is a reminder that one day my body will be whole and perfect and without sin because Jesus has promised to wipe away every tear (Rev. 21:4). And I’m pleased to live with that reminder.

Dave Ramsey Would Give Me Serious Side Eye

I’m typing this while looking at an old computer monitor that we dusted off and hooked up to a new tower. The keyboard is new and clicky compared to our old laptop.

Our poor old laptop that must go out to pasture. May it rest in peace.

Matt also insisted on a fancy dress (not ethically made, which I worked out my thoughts on here).

And we’ll be paying for my prosthetic any day now.

Why the sudden outflow of cash? Two words: Tax. Return.

Separately, I listened to a lot of Dave Ramsey in college. Like, that was my flavor of Kool Aid. I wrote about it on an old blog and it got a lot of traction at the time because I think other people felt the same way: this guy makes so much sense…but I just don’t measure up.

So when our big tax return hit (and we get one on purpose after having to pay in for several years when I was taking in much bigger freelance total than I do now), I could hear Dave talking about how big tax returns are just a reminder that you’ve been loaning the government your money.

But it works for us. And increasingly, I’m okay with taking what works and leaving the rest.

I read a piece about one blogger’s complicated feelings about the FIRE (financial independence/retire early) movement) and found them helpful:

That doesn’t mean I don’t learn from FIRE ideas, taking what’s useful to me and ignoring and leaving the rest.
Furthermore, I’ll always credit FIRE-related online writing for being my first source of concrete information regarding a method for calculating how much I should save for retirement. And that’s a pretty important and very good thing that’s hard to find elsewhere!

Dave Ramsey’s work helped us develop good money habits and think beyond what is “normal” with money and life stage. We are okay being weird with money if it means we win in the end. I owe him a great debt (pun intended) for that.

So, we still have student loans. And instead of throwing my freelance income at them this year as I planned, I’m saving to go to Paris because those loans aren’t going anywhere–but my chance to go abroad with my husband (sans kids!) while work pays for most of his trip? That ain’t gonna happen again anytime soon.

And also we’re considering getting a credit card for the rewards to help in the whole going abroad thing, don’t say anything, kthanxbai.

Or maybe go ahead. We’re putting money away for the future, paying our bills, raising our kids. We’re not perfect but we’re making decisions that make sense for our family. And that’s enough for me.

Especially if it includes croissants by the Eiffel Tower. 😎

Super Hardcore Ethical Ladies (whose challenges put mine to shame)

I haven’t written about clothing or sustainability for ages. To be honest, the last round of doing the Wardrobe Fast and posting about it daily on Instagram sucked all interest in the topic right out of me.

I also realized that I’ve done the challenge enough and have no need to do it again. I don’t assign my clothes to days of the week and I’m likely to put yesterday’s clothes back on in the morning unless they’re actually dirty or need to be washed.

In an American context, that can sound gross. We wear our clothes for a few hours and send them to the washing machine. I remember being in seventh grade and basically just looking at clothes and thinking they needed to be washed again already.

So I’m not looking to jump back into the world of wardrobe limits, but I’d like to introduce you to two women who have done just that–and are absolutely blowing my week’s-worth-of-clothes challenge out of the water.

Meet Julia.

Julia (@oneoutfit100days) is an art teacher who decided to wear the same dress for 100 school days. Why? To fight against what she calls “our culture of excess” and shed light on how we can buy and use things in a more ethical and sustainable way.

I found Julia’s challenge just as I was publishing my book and it was exciting to see somebody else thinking about the same thing even if we approached the challenge a bit differently. It’s a reminder that there are lots of ways to do our part to fight against injustice and overconsumption.

Like this way:

Meet Joy.

Joy (@joyforney) is a missionary in Uganda. She makes videos about Christian living, homeschooling, and simplicity and contentment in the Lord. (You can check her out on YouTube here.)

She happened upon The Wardrobe Fast and also Julia’s 100 day project and she is endeavoring to wear the same dress for a year.

Yeah, a year.

While these projects seem extreme on the surface to our Western-indoctrinated minds, they’re really not that big a deal (not to minimize what these ladies are doing by any means! On the contrary, it speaks to how off-base some of our “needs” or expectations are in a wealthy context).

Both women wash their garments regularly and practice good hygiene. Both have people who love, like, and need them–no matter how big or small their wardrobes are. Both esteem an ideal higher than themselves (one secular, one sacred) and worthy of being “different” for.

The Wardrobe Fast offers greater variety day-to-day than these challenges, but they all get down to the same thing: it’s okay to use less. No one will die or kick you out of the club for not being the heights of fashion. And there’s something bigger than self to care about anyway.

Do you think you could handle an “extreme” wardrobe challenge? (Or one a little less extreme, like The Wardrobe Fast? wink wink)

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

In Bible study, this passage from Philippians came up a few weeks ago:

[Christ,] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Philippians 2:6‭-‬7

I was convicted in that moment of how much energy I put into not being emptied, how I try to arrange my days (and life) around saving time or energy or my attention for myself rather than being poured out for the sake of those around me.

Today was not one of those days.

Today, I let myself be poured out. I poured into my kids, my home, my work, my husband, then each of those things again at least once plus a friend who needed to talk through something.

And after all of that pouring out, I feel empty. Drained and exhausted.

Unlike Christ, I cannot take up my own life and strength again when I choose to. My body is weak and requires rest, and my brain–the one that’s talked through a friend’s struggle and a 4-year-old’s Lego battles and how many sentences the 3rs grader’s report has to be–needs to download and process the day.

And so, I head toward bed proud of a full day, imperfect as it was, but in awe of the God who needs no rest. And thankful that he will still be holding me while I give into the rest I need.

What a good, good God to serve.