It seems a bit odd to be writing this on Christmas Eve, as I have really nothing to reflect on about Christmas itself. But I am sprawled out on my parents’ guest bed in my old bedroom and I felt it was fitting to write here what’s been on my mind this past week.
Since the key purpose of this blog is to write about money, I suppose I should say something about it. I suppose. Seven days from now, as long as I’m not laid off or fired, my final HSA contribution will pass and I will hit the golden trifecta of maxing out my 401k, Roth IRA, and HSA. Holy heck has it been a crazy ride. You’d be surprised how fast those pre-tax 401k contributions add up, too. Yeah, yeah, markets tanked in October, people are freaking out, I’m not worried about that. In fact, I’m kind of hoping it drops a little more so that when my limits reset in January, I’ll be buying in a down market.
The G-IRA is complete; I’ve hit my giving goal. My big G-IRA “distribution” was a huge success and the target individual (TI) was completely caught by surprise. Bam! Probably the most fun I’ve ever had giving. Not easily replicable, however. With that done, I originally wanted to spend the rest of the money on some attempts at prophetic giving (taking expensive stuff to strangers, listening to God to hear who to take them to), but for whatever reason that felt really off this year, it just didn’t feel right for the time, so I spent the rest on Christmas gifts for my family. No regrets. And I mean, TI could have taken a fraction of that money and bought a really great [thing] instead, but the real power of the G-IRA is that you have no reason not to go big for someone else. I wish I could say it was purely from the love of my heart, but really what made it easy was just the fact that the money was going to be given to someone anyway, so it may as well have been spent going big for TI. Go big or go home! I think I will be doing a G-IRA next year, too, but I feel like God is giving me a larger target, and that scares the crap out of me. I mean, it’s exciting, but it’s also like, “Nooo! Why?” We’ll see. I mean, this is voluntary after all. But that push, man. God’s all about pushing those boundaries.
On a side note, my church is pretty awesome about giving. They just gave 20g’s away to people in need yesterday. I like this church. Anyway, I’ve got a post I want to write on that soon.
I did finally buy a Playstation 4 for $200 during Black Friday, which is half of what I was thinking about paying back in the Spring, when I wrote my anti-lifestyle inflation post using the PS4 as an example. I think waiting to get 50% off was totally worth it. And I am happy to have a PS4. You can have your cake and eat it, too.
Two periods really stood out to me this year. The first is when I changed the water pump on my car. It was unplanned but I ended up here at my parents’ place while they were out of town. The job was relatively simple, but was temporarily full of despair when I sheered the de-tensioning bolt (I don’t know what else to call it) off my drive belt tensioner, which sucked but really only meant one thing: I had to buy another tensioner and change it myself. The job was slow but otherwise went smoothly. I had a decent amount of peace about it, and two nights in a row, I slept like a baby, right here in this bed that I’m sitting on. I didn’t have a Bible with me and I hate reading the Bible on my phone, but my parents have a few old topic-specific Bible verse books on the bookshelf, so I browsed those. I watched several Disney VHS tapes from when I was a kid. I don’t know how to describe it all. It was probably the most peaceful weekend of the year. It’s like God was here in a profound way. It took me away from my normal settings, just lead me to a place of rest. And there hasn’t been the slightest of leaks from that water pump since 😉
The second was hanging out with my sister’s family. I got to spend time with my oldest niece, who is growing up way too fast, and got to see my new baby niece, who is the smiley-est baby ever and really warms my heart :). And I got to pet the cat. And hang out. Have long conversations, watch my brother-in-law beat this cool, kinda-eerie side-scroller video game, eat good food, and see life outside of Denver, which is starting to boil with overpopulation and insanity. It was also the first time in many, many years that I’ve been on a plane, and I really, really miss flying. So I want to add a part 2 to Thoughts on Travel someday. That was overall just a great week, and much needed.
And yes, 2018 has brought many changes. Whereas 2017 was the year of carnage and death and good friends being complete retards and following God’s call to move out of state, 2018 has, in fact, been the water in the desert. I was keeping a foot in my old church because I still care about people there, but I always knew I was never going to fit into the ecosystem at that church, no matter how great the leadership was or how welcoming the setting. Instead, I now spend that night of the week as part of a rag-tag group of crazy dreamers who get together once a week to seek God through dream interpretation. Oh, I know. Sounds crazy if you’ve never read the Bible ;). But it’s pretty amazing what God is doing in people’s lives.
Spiritually, God has been doing a lot in my life through identity this year. This is good, because when people are truly grounded in their identity in God, they are rock solid, and they have space for others. They can also let go of old friends and move on. 2017 really shook me to the core. I think that’s the closest I’ve ever been to true depression. I’m actually of the suspicion that my community life is not as deep as I would like because that is simply the season I am in, and there is great room for growth in fostering new community.
It has been a date-less year, stacking onto the others, and I think maybe for a reason. Hey, I know some great girls, but sometimes it just doesn’t make sense emotionally or logically, and sometimes the door is simply closed and you can tell. There hasn’t really been anyone to ask out. Sometimes I’ll meet a girl and think, “Hey, God, what about this girl?” And I get a dream that’s all about my identity, instead! In general, it’s a painful topic for me, but I think that’s what the message of identity is about. People who are grounded in their identity are truly safe people who have space to see and address the blessings in other peoples’ lives. And in their own. You can’t confuse your core identity with the various facets of your life. Your job is not your identity. Your friendships are not your identity. Your wealth is not your identity. You love-life is not your identity.
Actually, fun story. Only once this year, as far as I’m aware, has God answered a question about a specific girl. I had a dream one night in which I was in a location owned by friends from an old friend group, and I think it was the only dream I’ve ever had in which that girl was present. But when I looked closely in the house, and I had to look closely, I could see fine white spider webs all over, like fuzzy mold. I got the vacuum to clean up the webs (I am a bit of a cleaner in real life), but it wasn’t working, and the vacuum broke down. I kept trying to fit different mechanical pieces inside to fix it (perhaps different arguments as to why I should pursue her), but nothing worked. Later I got dragged into this zombie game by a family member of one of the friends, and then I woke up.
I don’t recommend bootstrapping your dream interpretations if you haven’t done it in a group, and non-Christians (or some Christians) will think I’m insane, but really the larger message of the dream was that in that girl’s life there are a lot of spider webs, which might be thought of as snares or as neglected spaces into which undesirable things have moved, and, most importantly, I was unable to clean up those spider webs. In other words, I’m not capable of dealing with her issues. Being involved in that location only got me stuck playing games. (“You’re playing love games with Old Gregg?!”) That was crazy. The message seemed pretty clear to me. And if you’re still skeptical, well, let’s just say that’s not the first time God’s answered a question about that girl telling me ‘no’. But this all lead to an interesting extension question: so what are the spider webs that I have in my own life?
Just a little dream nugget for the blog. If you don’t keep a dream journal, you might consider doing so 🙂
As mentioned last post, I have also learned this year how to change lug bolts, which makes me feel pretty bad ass. It’s still tough to recommend, but it’s a great feeling when you pull off a new job on the car and now have that much more skill and ability.
Huge progress on my open source inventory system. Oh, man. It’s so close. I’ve been working on this for two years, but only this past year has the technology clicked. A lot of great blessings through this, so praise to God. I feel like a real developer now and orchestrating the whole project has been a huge lesson in perseverance and humility. Engaging, though, I’ll give it that. Really excited to see what this can do for the company I’m volunteering for.
Times are changing again. I may no longer be in the desert, but the change isn’t over. I may be losing some friends to another dumb state, and I’ll be seeing two friends much less since they just became parents. But tenacity! I still very much care about my old friends, but there is a way forward and going backward isn’t an option.