They're still too young to tell.

This past year, my group of friends stumbled (ok, I forced them) into the Myers-Briggs personality test. My favorite version is this one.

My personality is called ENTJ-T. If you read the article I linked there, you'll be getting a full peek into the way I see the world. Honestly, some bits of that article are shocking to me. It's EXACTLY how I think but would never have thought to (or been willing to) say out loud.

...Their ability to think strategically and hold a long-term focus while executing each step of their plans with determination and precision...
...If there’s anyone Commanders respect, it’s someone who is able to stand up to them intellectually, who is able to act with a precision and quality equal to their own...
...Friendships of circumstance, built on things like shared routines, are not Commanders’ preferred method – rather, they pursue their friends, seek out individuals who share their passion for deep, meaningful discussions, and who enjoy learning and development as much as they do... 

Recently, Matt and I have been thinking about how your child's individual personalities should affect how you parent them. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul talks about how he is all things to all people. He changes how he relates to people in order to better reach them, and it's a beautiful example of how we should relate to others. When I know someone's Myers-Briggs personality type, it helps me to know how they'll react and, often, what they need from me.

We don't yet know what personalities our daughters have. If I had to guess on Charlotte's personality type, going simply off what each letter stands for, I would guess ESTJ, but it's still too early to actually know. For Portia, I'd be guessing completely blindly, so I won't even bother.

It's fascinating to me how God made so many beautiful variations in how we think, feel, and react, while making us similar to each other, and also creating us in His own image.

Just a conversation worth having. Have you considered that your children, spouse, and friends need different things from you, depending on their God-given personality? Matt is an ISFJ , someone completely different from me. If I'm not yielding to the Holy Spirit, I can walk up and down our marriage in selfishness. These are a couple of excerpts from Matt's personality type.

...They have a tendency to underplay their accomplishments, and while their kindness is often respected, more cynical and selfish people are likely to take advantage of Defenders’ dedication and humbleness...
...Defenders are meticulous and careful, taking a steady approach and bending with the needs of the situation just enough to accomplish their end goals. Defenders not only ensure that things are done to the highest standard, but often go well beyond what is required...
What about you? Do you know your Myers-Briggs personality type? Have you thought about how the personalities of those you love should affect the way you interact with them?


Hanging up Truth

One of the habits that Matt and I got into early in our marriage was singing and quoting scripture together in the car. One of the longer passages we like to say together is Deuteronomy 6:5-9:

"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates."

Lately, we've been quoting verses with Charlotte, and she's a sponge. We have a finite opportunity to choose what enters our babies' hearts, eyes, and minds. We do not do this perfectly, but we're doing it purposefully.

Part of that effort, is changing what we hang around our home. Truth. We want them surrounded by Biblical, life-changing Truth. Not just "Grow where you're planted" or "Adventure is out there!" (both of those are currently in our living room), but actual words spoken by our Creator God and penned into a book that God has preserved for our family to learn from and teach diligently.

This specific piece is sold at Hobby Lobby. It reminds me of a mighty, tired Savior as he speaks to the crashing storm. It reminds me of a favorite song, placing lyrics into my head that honor my God and turn my constantly flustered heart to a strong, loving Comforter.

Put Truth in your homes. Speak it all day long and hang it on your walls!


Cost Comparison: Cloth Diapering vs. Paper Diapering

Right after I blogged about our 2.5 years of cloth diapering, we went away to teen camp with our church kids for a week. With two girls in diapers, we decided to go the easy route and buy paper diapers for the week instead of worrying about taking the diapers to the laundry mat every day (no-brainer).

After we spent the money on two boxes of (Pampers) diapers, I had to run the numbers. I figured out how many diapers we actually used in the week and then assumed that I would have needed that many diapers every week for 2.5 years. This is two babies in paper diapers until they are 2.5 years old. I included no other numbers in this calculation. $2,600.00 

Then I did the math on how much money we have spent on cloth diapers to have both babies in cloth diapers for 2.5 years. I included the cost of the extra bamboo inserts, the wet bag, the diaper pail, the diaper sprayer, the drying rack, and the diapers themselves (I did not include laundry detergent or water). $567.00

The more children you have, the higher the paper diaper cost gets (because you have to buy more diapers). The cloth diaper shouldn't change, even if we have more children, because they're reusable. 

Obviously, there are variables here. Say you don't buy pampers. Say you clip coupons like it's your job. BUT, cloth diapers go on deep discount on Black Friday and are cheaper when purchased in packs (I calculated as though you bought each one individually at full-price), and I bought a $70 diaper pail in this scenario, so $567 is by no means the floor on cloth diaper costs.

All that to say, "Whoah." 

There's a clear winner here for me, and I love a good comparison.


Cloth Diapers

Lately you have been asking us about cloth diapering. Are we still doing it? What do we use? Would we recommend it? So, here we are with a cloth diaper update, two and a half years into cloth diapering.

We use:
Bum Genius All in One Pocket-Style
Bamboo Inserts
Wet Bag
Bum Genius Diaper Sprayer
Drying Rack
Diaper Pail (we reuse the bags over and over)

The Bum Genius all-in-one pocket-style diapers are fantastic. My favorite colors are white, oatmeal, and gray. Neutrals. Shocking. We also have some blue diapers from when we were pregnant with Christian. We call them "sleepers" and use them at night.

We're able to use the exact same diaper, snapped a different way on both girls! For their first month, we used disposable diapers (baby shower gifts), which is definitely easier when you're getting into new sleep routines and you've just given birth, but transitioning into cloth diapers is a breeze!

After awhile, they pee more than the bum genius inserts that come with the diapers will hold, and you have to switch to bamboo inserts (especially at night). We'll put two bamboo inserts in Charlotte's diapers and one in Portia's.

When we're on the go, we either bring a giant wet bag or a bunch of little (grocery etc.) bags to put the diapers into after we change the girls. When we're home, they go into our diaper pail, which contains odors beautifully. We spray/scrape the poopy ones into the toilet and unstuff the diapers before we do laundry. It's not a glamorous job, and Matt does it. He is, in all ways, my hero. We do one load of diapers every evening and hang them to dry before bed. The next morning, we stuff the diapers. The unsnapped diapers fit Charlotte and the snapped diapers fit Portia.

If money is no object, and you aren't worried about the impact diapers have on the environment, cloth diapering doesn't make much sense. It is certainly more work than tossing a diaper and grabbing a new one, but for the money we have saved over the last 2.5 years (and more to come as we have more children in the same diapers), it is definitely worth it to us. Plus, just like people buy you a package of diapers for your baby shower, they'll buy you one cloth diaper, so you could possibly never pay anything for diapers (if you plan it well). This didn't happen for us, I'm just saying it could happen for you!

The girls go through 15 or so diapers a day. Having 20 diapers keeps enough in rotation so that you make it through the night and early morning before you need the ones on the rack from the night before.

Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any cloth diapering questions!

Also, potty training is in our future. Any tips??



Which of the above ladies (both me) walks three miles every morning and goes to the gym several times a week, making sure to get in ten miles every Saturday?

If you said, "The one on the left." You're right.

Sunshine, fresh air, and movement are crazy good for you, and I know my 18 seasons of soccer playing helped keep me in great shape until I went off to college, but I had no self-control around food, and I didn't know what foods my body needed! When I gained weight in college, I didn't know what to change. I tried "eating better" and working out, but for me that just meant skipping soda or potato chips! I would lose a little, but I had no long-term tools to conquer the weight I was putting on!

When I found Trim Healthy Mama in January of 2016, I learned what my body needed me to fuel it with in order for it to shed the weight. I learned that protein builds muscle (no loose skin!) and that my body burns carbs and fats best when they are separated. I had to learn which foods are fats and which foods are carbs and learn to read all the food ingredients all the time. I learned that some veggies are basically fat-busting magic. I dropped my gym membership, I stopped walking during the week (hello, newborn), and I ate every three hours like clockwork. My body thanked me by shredding fat and moving from that lady on the left to the lady on the right.

As I neared goal weight (I was in the 130s, trying to get to 128), I added walking back in (neighborhood walks in the evening, nothing structured or long) to shake my routine up some and push my body to lose those last few pounds.

When people ask me if I exercise, the answer is easy. I don't. I do chase little girls around. I am married and sexually active (that's where the little girls come from), so there's that. But as I journey back to goal weight after this last pregnancy (I still have 17 pounds to lose), I'm eating my way to weight loss, thankful for the knowledge that has come with studying Trim Healthy Mama.

On this plan, I have energy galore, so I'm able to be as active as I want to be, but I'm thankful to have discovered an eating plan my body is able to use to heal and shrink and thrive!

There's something new going on over here! I'm becoming a Certified Trim Healthy Mama Coach. If I've inspired or helped you on your Trim Healthy Mama Journey, and you're willing to write me a reference, you can e-mail those to ahelpmeetforhim@gmail.com. I can't wait to help ladies meet their goals! If you have health goals you want to talk about, you can email me about those as well!


Putting towards the principal

Have you ever heard of "the curse of knowledge?" The curse of knowledge is when you know so much about something that you forget others don't know as much as you do. This happens all the time in people's businesses. They assume that because they know the name of everything in your engine (mechanics) or every disease known to man (doctors) that you do too. They start talking without explaining, and almost immediately, you're lost. Sometimes, I'm guilty of this.

The other day a woman who has grandchildren my age asked me, "How do you pay extra on your mortgage?" Not asking how I have money at the end of the month or how I budget, but asking what steps I take to physically apply the extra money towards our mortgage. 

I pay my mortgage online. When I get on to pay, I can just make a normal payment, or I can "modify my payment amount." I hit "add addition principal" and put everything I can in that box. My mortgage company makes it pretty easy.

Proverbs 3:27-28 says, "Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbor, "Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give," when thou hast it by thee."

If you owe someone money, and you have money... you owe it to them. Biblically, you shouldn't spend it on other things, so we're putting everything we have left after we buy food and pay our bills against the principal every month. 

One note of warning: If your mortgage company doesn't make extra principal payments obvious, and you want to pay more towards your mortgage principal, you have to specify. Whether you're writing them a check or paying your mortgage online, you have to get in touch with them/write them a letter and say, "I'm sending you $**** extra dollars, and I want it applied to the principal of the mortgage loan." If you don't, they'll just apply the extra money you send to your next month's mortgage payment (most of which goes to interest every month), and you'll be "paid ahead" on your loan (like, "Yay, you don't have a mortgage payment due again until October!"), but that's not what you want! That's not helping you pay off your loan any faster! You want the money to go towards the principal of the loan so the actual loan balance goes down, and then you're closer to owing nothing!

I'm using my mortgage as an example, since it's our only debt, but this is true for all loans. You don't want to just add money to your payment. You want to be sure that extra money is going towards the principal of your loan. 

Another note: You are welcome to put extra money towards your mortgage every week or bi-weekly (whenever you get paid), if you're worried that you'll spend it if you don't put it towards your debt right away, but keep in mind that your mortgage interest amount is only re-calculated monthly, so your own self-control is the only benefit to paying it more than monthly. We just save it all up and pay the mortgage (and the extra towards the mortgage) once at the end of the month.

If you have questions, ask them! That's how you learn, and I want to help if I can!


How much money we made and spent this past month.

To knock your mortgage down below $40k with 25 years left on your mortgage loan, you have to be doing something that other people aren't doing. Let's talk about budgeting.

I used to think that budgeting was making a list of where you spent your money last month and shrugging.

Nope. Budgeting is looking at the month before it begins, and telling your money where you want it to go before it ever arrives. We do that every month, and at the end of the month we give all of our left over money towards the mortgage principal.

(I went ahead and deducted our tithe/missions/charitable giving from our income right off the top, since those numbers are personal. So our combined income this month is a little bigger than the number here.)

Income: $4,100.00 (Matt's window washing, my remote church secretarial work, and my full-time babysitting gig.)

What we spent last month and have budgeted to spend this month (except we don't have personal property tax or an oil change in June, and we have a higher gift budget for this month): 

Auto Gas $109.00
Oil change $28.00
Car Insurance $95.00 (USAA)
Food $200.00 (Aldi)
Health Insurance $4.00 (Obamacare, with a super high deductible, which means we pay thousands(sssss) of dollars to have babies and stuff)
Electric $70.00
Natural Gas $107.00
Water/Trash $63.00
Life Insurance $25.00 (USAA, but shop Zander for term life if you're overpaying)
Gifts for family: $40.00
Phone $52.00 (Republic Wireless)
Internet $40.00 (Cox)
Personal Property Tax $70.00

Leftover money for the mortgage: $3,301.00

Do you see how I didn't get my hair or nails done? Do you see how we didn't get coffee or gelato? Do you see how we didn't buy new shoes or a new couch or go see a movie? What about cable, Amazon Prime, and Hulu? Absent. Can we afford those things? Mhhmm. Yep. 

We are making our choices. We are ordering our priorities. We are trading pleasure now for freedom later. And there is plenty of free pleasure in my life EVERY DAY. I don't know what your numbers look like, but we're not starving, homeless, or uninsured.

Am I proposing something radical, or at least out of the norm? Yeah. 

It's just a minimal lifestyle for a season, and then freedom from debt.

Proverbs 22:7 The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. 

We are tired of serving rich men in big banks. The Bible says you can not serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). The Bible says to run out of debt like your life depends on it (Proverbs 6:5).

^This is why we don't spend our money on pleasure or anywhere else, because we believe whole-heartedly that we owe it to someone else, and we're commanded to run until it's repaid.

We're running. Any questions?