Anna at Hope Road did a Q&A post recently, and I thought it looked like a fun idea. So here's your open invitation: What have you been wanting to ask me? I'll try to be transparent, though I'll reserve the right not to answer a question, just in case...because it's my blog :)
I can't reply directly to comments in a nested style--so rather than letting the comments section get all disorganized with my answers, I'll copy and paste questions, along with my answers, in the body of this post as they come in.
Whew, you all ask good, hard questions! I'll try to get to them over the next couple of days. (And I'm still open to more/follow-up questions, if you're late getting to this!)
Zoanna asked: What is one character trait you really admire in other people that you don't possess?
I really admire people who have a gift for drawing others out and making them feel at ease. I'm not sure if that exactly qualifies as a "character trait"--but it's one of the first things that comes to mind.
What is one trait that you have seen God develop in you that you once lacked faith for ever seeing?
Submissiveness. If you could have seen the little elementary school kid who bossed all her friends to death, or the middle schooler who was determined to be the first woman president...you would find it quite astounding that I currently hold the views on gender that I do :) Even my husband lacked faith for seeing this in me before we started dating--in fact it was one of the biggest hesitations he had in pursuing me (not realizing how much I had changed while in college). God had graciously brought a lot of change to my heart in the area of submission after high school, and He continues to grow me in joyful submission to my husband's leadership.
Melita asked: If you were given the power to erase just one world problem (excluding sin itself) which would you choose and why? (war, hunger, disease, natural disasters, illiteracy, poverty, etc)
Whew! I feel like it's cheating to pick poverty--but it seems like if you picked that one, you'd end up eradicating (or at least lessening the impact of) a lot of the others (hunger, disease, natural disasters, even illiteracy). I guess it depends on how you define poverty--if according to When Helping Hurts, the great book I read a few months ago, I get a four-in-one power for erasing material poverty plus poverty of self, poverty of relationships and even spiritual poverty :)
Anna asked: What are you most looking forward to about having two children? And what are you most afraid of?
I look forward to seeing the relationship between my children blossom. I have friends whose kids really delight in each other and have a lot of fun together. I hope Elijah and his little sibling will have that kind of relationship even as young kids, and that it will grow into a lifelong friendship. I also look forward to what our family will look like many years from now--lively conversations around the dinner table and that sort of thing. To be honest, what motivates me to have more children is not this season of infancy/toddlerhood, but looking ahead 10 years (or more) and thinking about what I want our family to look like.
As far as what I fear, it has less to do with having two children and more to do with experiencing "having a baby" again--labor and delivery, the sleep deprivation, the inexplicable crying (both mine and the baby's!)...I fear that the arrival of baby #2 will reveal that I haven't changed much in the last three years after all, that I am still selfishly unwilling to love and serve sacrificially.
Laura asked: At what point in your relationship did you and your husband start talking about finances to see if you were on the same page? ...It's such a private topic for most people yet so central to a healthy marriage.
I'm not really sure, to be honest. I know it was definitely a topic of discussion during our engagement, as we read books like Preparing for Marriage and The Most Important Year in a Man's/Woman's Life. But by that time (when you're already engaged) it's probably not going to be a dealbreaker, even if you are vastly different in how you handle money--and you're right, it's a source of struggle for a lot of couples.
Unfortunately I don't think I have much helpful advice here, because Steve and I were (are) blessed to be very much on the same page with money. We don't have that dynamic where one of us is a compulsive shopper and the other is a tightwad. Both of us learned from parents who used money wisely and we came into marriage with responsibility and understanding of how to handle finances. So thankfully, this hasn't been an area of conflict in our marriage.
I think you can probably get a sense of how a prospective mate handles money just by observation, without intentional conversations--is he generous? Does he seem to live above his means? Is he always buying things? Those types of questions.
One thing I do think is really important is to carefully consider any debt you take on as a single woman, and to do everything in your power to pay it off as quickly as possible. I've seen a lot of couples where one or both partners enters the marriage with a lot of debt, and that affects the decisions they make about work and having kids--they end up needing two incomes not to maintain a certain standard of living, but to pay their bills. The more you can get a handle on your own finances now and avoid/pay off debt, the more you will bless your future husband AND yourself down the road!
Not sure if I've really answered that question or just rambled about related things ;) Feel free to ask a follow-up, especially if you want to clarify "on the same page about finances."
Ali asked: What kind of camera would you recommend?
I use a Nikon D50, and I love it. It was discontinued a few years ago, though, and replaced by the D40, which has now (I think) been replaced by the D5000. This is an entry-level SLR. It takes great photos with automatic settings if you have no idea what you're doing, but also allows you the freedom (and danger) of tinkering with settings if you're trying to learn about photography and shoot more manually.
The person using the camera definitely matters...I know people (Melita above, for example) who get way better shots than I do with a basic point and shoot camera, because they have an eye and know what they're doing :) But the camera absolutely helps. One of the main reasons I upgraded to an SLR is because it's SO much faster than a point and shoot. Especially with kids, by the time you push the button and the camera finally takes the picture, they're no longer making the face! Not so with an SLR. I also like that I can shoot without flash in low light. Turning off your flash (or bouncing it off the ceiling) is one of the most important things you can do to get better pictures. (I don't have an external flash, but I use a Lightscoop to bounce my built-in flash and it makes a world of difference!)
Anyway, I'm extremely happy with my Nikon D50 and would buy it again without hesitation, but I can't speak personally about the models that have replaced it. I do know that the 40 and the 5000 don't autofocus with the lens I use 90% of the time, the 50mm f/1.8 - so that would be a problem for me, because it's a great little lens and CHEAP (as far as lenses go). Then again, I have trouble with autofocus on that lens, too...so who knows. One site I like for photography info and reviews/recommendations is KenRockwell.com.
All that said (and I have photographer friends who read my blog and know WAY more about all this than me--so maybe they will weigh in in the comments!)...I would love to get one of those tiny pocket-sized point-and-shoots, like a Canon ELPH. The one major downside to my SLR is that it's big and bulky. It's not very practical to always carry with me--I can't just stick it in my purse or diaper bag--and a good photographer would *always* have a camera with her :)