My husband and I never do things the traditional way. Take, for example, our 2010 World Cup-inspired mission trip to South Africa. I mean, what better way to celebrate your first year of marriage than with vuvuzelas and chicken feet, right?
When I reflect on this adventure, I think back to the dozens of questions that the village children asked me each morning.
“I hear there is a bin for paper, plastic, and tin. Is this true?”
“How old are you?”
And perhaps my favorite of all: “Are you married to the scientist?”
The wonder in their eyes was almost tangible. And, in full transparency, their attention made me feel like a million dollars. I want to see the world this way.
But, alas, I was forced to return to my old life, my old habits, my old attitudes. And only in my matured adult years have I come to see that that perfect African sunset was never meant to be left behind – it was designed to become a part of me.
But sunshine cannot be hidden, and it must be shared.
Most recently, I received the warmth through three honors: the Sunshine Blogger Award, the Blogger Recognition Award, and a featured quote on the Daily Post. Being recognized in-person is humbling, but kinds words conveyed completely through the blogging sphere left me speechless. How do you thank those you’ve never met?
Second, with respect to the honors, I would like to answer some of the questions posted by the two awards:
- How did your blog begin?
After my second child’s birth, I felt compelled to finally start writing down my personal thoughts and experiences. I worried no one would read. I feared everyone would criticize. But when you literally get 3-5 book ideas every day, you have to find a space to start sharing. In many ways, my blog was the birth of my third child.
- What advice do you have for new bloggers?
Write honestly and be prepared for challenge. The written word has inspired controversy for centuries – why should the blog be any different? I recently posted about insights for new bloggers here.
- What is your real-life super power?
I have the ability to strike up conversation with anyone who is around me. I’m an extrovert to the core. My personal edification comes through human connection.
- How do you use this power?
My super power is something that arises naturally. If I meet you, I want to know your story. I think we all have something to teach one another, and I love learning.
- What do you dream about?
I dream about long hikes in the mountains. I dream about guiding my children through their teen years. I dream about writing my first book.
- What makes you wince?
Chicken skin. I don’t want to see it, taste it, or touch it. You can understand now about the chicken feet…
- If you can go back and change one thing about your life, what would it be and why?
I would travel back to my first pregnancy, and I would begin writing this blog on the day I learned I was pregnant. There are countless stories and circumstances I wish that I had been able to record in real-time.
- How were you raised to think about money?
In my childhood, I learned that money was ever fleeting. While this perspective taught me not to link my identity with money, it also prevented me from learning how to budget properly. Without anyone’s guidance, however, I committed myself to saving, which has served me very well in adulthood (e.g. we are debt-free except for our home).
- If you’re a parent, how do you teach your children about money?
We believe that modeling is perhaps the most effective parenting tool. In the years to come (i.e. post-toddlerhood) there will be deliberate dialogue about finances, but, for now, we make wise purchases, save furiously, and live a frugal life. Good food and experiences are our treats.
- If you make more than enough to cover your basic needs, travel, and some savings, has more money made you happier?
I held my first job at 16. I worked throughout college and graduate school – at times holding 2-3 jobs simultaneously. For financial stability and the freedom to work only one job, I am grateful. I think the notion that money equals happiness is an illusion, but stability can bring great peace.
- Do you give to charity or research? Why or why not?
My husband and I are committed tithers. Additionally, we offer periodic donations for research and foundations that have sustainable objectives. We also sponsor missionaries. One of our long-term goals is to become annual donors to our alma maters – institutions that supported our dreams.
- You have a magic wand. If you could zap into existence one thing to make your finances better, what would it be?
The financial ability for me to write full-time.
- With this magical wand, what else would you create to make your life better?
I would create a way for our children to know their extended family, especially grandparents, more intimately. Raising our children in the presence of close family – now that would be magic.
I would like to recognize those Sunshine Bloggers in my own journey. You inspire me, challenge me, and make me a better writer. This list is in no way comprehensive, but showcases a snapshot of the amazing writing I have encountered:
And to you, my incredible readers, thank you for keeping me writing.
One Year Ago: Take Off Your Mask and Follow Me*