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Posts tagged ‘debt’

Happiness and Hmm…

Hey everyone!

Well this year has definitely started off on a good note! I finished the last year and began this one at home in De Pere, then returned back to Dubuque in the evening of the first to get back into my normal routine before classes begin.  I love my family dearly and truly enjoyed the ten or so days I was able to share with them. It was great having a chance to see everyone in person, to hear their voices, shake their hands, and hug them tight. That being said, it has been great being back in Dubuque as well. I’m always happy to come home, so with two homes, it makes for a lot of happiness. I’m hoping the happiness can and will continue.

Amid the joy and happiness welcoming in yet another year has brought, I’m still left with several questions. Nothing too serious or urgent, mind you, but questions nonetheless. I’d say the biggest remains how God will continue to shape my life. I recently wrote about how amazing these past three years have been since I stopped running from God’s calling, but it doesn’t mean I know what the future will hold for me. It’s both incredibly frightening and comforting all at once. While it would be great to just say “Okay, God. I trust you completely, so I’m not going to fret,” I wouldn’t want to lie so boldly to God. Because the fact of the matter is, I’m still left with doubts and concerns. I can and always try to rejoice in the moments where my worry proves unwarranted, but hindsight is 20/20.

Another major question, or pondering, that I’m still chewing over is whether or not to become vegetarian. While I know a lot of people make this choice for ethical reasons, such as in protest of the cruelty to animals or because they feel the slaughtering of innocence in all creatures to be horrendous, my pondering is for another reason. I don’t really crave meat, hate the thought of going anywhere near raw meat, and wouldn’t want to slaughter an animal or even just butcher one to get said raw and icky meat. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing meat-eaters, either. I’m just wondering if it’s fair for me to eat something I’d never actually want to prepare myself. In my meals here in Dubuque, I rarely use meat, and even then only if it’s pre-cooked, like in soups or lunchmeats. 90% of the meals I prepare for myself are already vegetarian, so why not simplify things and make it 100%?

In any case, I want to make sure this year continues to go well. I thought about what I could do to make my life better and came up with ten goals for myself. It started off with the idea of writing down a goal or two, but ten is what I ended up with. So without any further ado, here they are:

1. Weigh 266lbs or less

2. Pay down loans to less than $23,000 (currently at $24,364.34 and increasing about a dollar per day. Still, with a stipend while on Internship, I’m hoping this can be a reality.)

3. Be more assertive.

4. Eat/Live/Feel healthier.

5. Be closer to God.

6. Be less reactive with others.

7. Stick with spiritual practices.

8. De-clutter your life.

9. Do something wild and crazy. (For me, of course. Being the fairly conservative person that I am, it wouldn’t have to be anything too out there.)

10. Be happier with who you are.

I think #5 and #10 are the most important of them all. If I manage these two, the other eight will undoubtedly happen as well. I’m hoping that at the end of the year I’ll be able to come back to these goals and tell you that I’ve managed to fulfill all of them. If not, oh well. I just hope the journey is a good one.

Finally, I’d like to leave you with an idea that’s currently going around on the internet. It suggests making a jar for the 2013 year, and sticking positive thoughts and notes from each day into the jar. Then, on New Years Eve, you can open up the jar and read all the wonderful blessings you’ve had over the year. I’ve started mine, and I have to say it feels really good to think of the positives each day and focus on them. The other day, after shoveling out a friend’s driveway with other great friends, I was invited to share in a truly delicious meal. Between the bites of delicious breads and warm, tasty soup, we shared stories and enjoyed one another’s company. Afterwards, it felt so great knowing that the memory of that day would be kept safe in my jar.

So what about you? Do you have any New Years Resolutions or goals you’d like to share? Are you thinking maybe the jar idea is pretty cool? I’ve already seen another one with the beginning of what is sure to be a treasure trove of positives. The family is working on one together, and even decorated the jar. Definitely a good idea for families of any age, or for individuals as well. Let me know if it works out for you.

Until next time!

Paul Johnson


My future???

Hello All!

Sorry for the amount of time since the last personal post. I was crazy busy with classes, and then crazy busy celebrating the end of being crazy busy with classes. (Does that make sense to anyone besides me?) Anywho, I decided that today, with having chats galore on a plethora of topics over the past week or so, that I would share some (tentative) dreams for my future. I know, you’re probably thinking ‘what happened to becoming a pastor?’ and don’t worry, that’s still nestled in there, right smack dab in the middle of the dream for my future. Now I know that it’s been said that when people plan, God laughs. I agree. Crazy, right? But this isn’t really a plan, so much as some desirables that I’m thinking about. No plans, just possibilities. I’ll leave the position of Head Planner to God. (Smart idea, eh?)

With that being said, here’s some possibilities I’m toying with:

1) I’d love to have a huge garden. I’ve tried my hand at the whole plant growing thing over the past semester or two, and I have to say that I haven’t done half bad. At the moment, I currently own a variety of non-edibles, including: lucky bamboo, spider plants (ahh! spiders!) various cacti and some weird (but really cool) purple leaved viney thingers that have yellow flowers. I also have an assortment of edibles, including: three zucchini plants, four tomato plants, four lettuce plants, two spinach plants, and a mint plant. A little note on the lettuce and mint- they’re going CRAZY! my one lettuce plant is encroaching the top of the window (which is almost five feet high) and the mint plant is well over a foot high, nearly two. In any case, I’d really love it some day if I were able to grow a huge garden and have all sorts of edibles and inedibles out there. In addition to that, I’d love a house full of plants, possibly some pets running around, and DEFINITELY a partner to enjoy it all with-bringing me to…

2) Find that Special Someone. Right now it seems like it would take a miracle to find that special guy that I can spend the rest of my life with. Someone who will love me for who I am, encourage me to be even better and expect that I’ll do the same for him. Despite the seeming impossibility of it all, I still hope that God will grant that to me someday. Maybe not this year or even this decade, but hopefully someday. If not, then it must not be meant to be. A dear friend-make that several dear friends have told me that I’ll find that special someone when I stop looking. Trouble is that every time I do stop looking, I suddenly think that maybe that’ll mean I’ll find him. Which puts me right back at square one. So I’m putting it in God’s hands.

3) I’d love a little house with a big yard. Or even just a little house with a little yard. Growing up, it was great to be able to explore the house that I grew up in. We always had plenty of space and yet not enough. I think part of the problem was that it was big enough that we could push things elsewhere (out of sight, out of mind) like the basement or garage, and not have to worry about it. But then when it came to cleaning it all, I’m not sure we ever really managed to get the whole way through before having to start over. after a while you just learned to ignore parts of it. My dorm room here isn’t that big (but also not that small) and works great for me. It’s big enough that I can have a place for everything, but small enough that even when it gets crazy dirty (like now) it only takes a couple of hours to clean. That’s what I’d want in a house. cleaning is a great way for me to blow off steam or battle worry/stress, but it would be great if I didn’t have to sustain a week-long worry binge in order to whip the place into shape.

4) Be debt free. I know this isn’t going to happen overnight, but I’d love to be debt free-the sooner the better. Now, right now I understand that’s not really an option. But I’m trying to decrease the amount I have to add to that ever-growing number so as to keep it more restrained. A major shocker for me was looking at my student loans. The interest is updated daily, and right now I’m getting charged nearly a dollar a day on interest alone. As of now, before taking out loans for next year’s tuition (I don’t even want to think about Senior year) it has it figured out to $292.91 a month for payments, starting July 21st, 2015. I’m hoping that by then I’ll have a call to an amazing congregation (perhaps have a month or so already down) but I worry what that number will look like in the future. That number is bigger than most of my checks from when I worked at Festival. Scary!

5) Tithe freely and from the heart. I know this may seem like a total contradiction from the last point, but I don’t see it that way. Whenever I attend worship now, I always make sure to give at least something. A 10% tithe while I’m working at work study is easy. #7.50/hour and ten hours makes $7.50. Sometimes I give more, sometimes less. Either way, I feel that if I’m giving freely and from the heart, it will make me think more consciously about other money matters. Besides, it’s not even really my money. It all belongs to God-I’m just the one put in charge to be a good steward of it. Keeping this in mind will only help me to be debt free faster. The way I look at it, the more debt I have, it’s like the more debt I’m giving God.

6) Never be too busy for the small stuff. The past few days, with no classes and only sporadic obligations have been great. I went out for lunch today, was able to get some great reading done and start on even more, and finally broke out the yarn again. But I tried to make sure my days weren’t all about me, either. I asked people if they’d like help, listened to other peoples’ stories, read some of the Good Book (which is also personally rewarding) and tried to be out there in the community for others. CPE will no doubt be great practice for this. When I walk into those hospital rooms, I won’t be there for me. I’ll be there for that other person AND for me. I include myself in that because the moment I feel like I’m just there to give and not receive anything in return is the moment that I put the other person down. It’s like I’m saying they’re not good enough to teach me anything or help me. I’ve never found this to be true. No matter how young or old, educated or not, female or male, rich or poor, black or white, you name it, they’ve taught me something. Sometimes it’s something about others, and sometimes it’s something about myself.  In any case, I want to make sure in life that I’m always able to stop and smell the roses, and to make sure that if at all possible, I bring someone along to share it with.

Now it’s your turn!

What would you like to possibly do with your future? What are some possibilities you’d like God to maybe grant to you? What do you think about my desires for future possibilities? I’d really love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Let me know by commenting, sending me an e-mail at pjohnson@wartburgseminary.edu or calling me at (563)589-0242. I even got an answering machine! (I hope it works, why don’t you leave me a message and try it out?)

As Always,

God Bless!