Tuesday, March 24, 2009

VIP stands for Very Incredible Persuader!

So this post is especially for my BFF Lori living in Japan. I know how anxious you are to see this. :) So a few months ago my friend Shelly from VIP Magazine told me that the March edition was going to be a special bridal edition and since Josh and I had just gotten married, she thought it would be cute for us to be in the magazine. The day the photographer actually called, Josh was sitting next to me on the couch and apparently overheard her ask me if he would be available for the shoot as well. Before I even was able to ask the question, he started shaking his head no and told me not to even ask. So I got off the phone but first whispered quickly to the photographer that I was certain Josh would be there and he would be happy to take part. After a day of some incredible persuading on my part, Josh finally caved! In addition to our pretend photo shoots, our wedding annoucement was also in the magazine. Thanks VIP! In my humble opinion, it's the best issue yet! :)

Here are some pages out of the magazine (Lori, don't you worry. I'll bring you a signed copy to Japan next month-hahaha!).
Love the white socks in the picture on the left. The tan dress was one of my favorites!You can see how excited Josh was about the shoot. :) He says that he DID smile, they just happened to pick the ones where he didn't. I was FREEZING in the photo on the right if you are wondering why I look so ridiculous. I know the text is too small on the annoucement so here's what it says:

Mary Kate Anderson and Joshua Neal Brown of Franklin were married during a New Year’s Eve ceremony at Scarritt Bennett’s Wightman Chapel in Nashville, Tennessee. Mary Kate is the daughter of Bob and Betty Anderson of Paris, Tennessee. Josh is the son of Franklin residents Phillip and Pam Brown. Ceremony music was provided by the Blue Tone Chamber Players with a special performance of “Sweet, Sweet Spirit” by Cole Young of Franklin. The bride was escorted by her father. She wore a pick-up ball gown with beaded metallic embroidered lace. Bridesmaids wore long juniper blue bubble-hem dresses to coordinate with the winter wedding theme.

The wedding was directed and orchestrated by Marsha Reagan of Franklin, with flowers provided by Sara Benson of Thompson’s Station. Mary Kate and Josh departed the chapel in a silver vintage Jaguar and made their way to the historic Hermitage Hotel for the reception and New Year’s Eve celebration.

Guests were treated to delicious food and drinks throughout the evening. A beautiful four-tiered vanilla cake with pearl air brushed fondant, cupcakes and a blue-themed candy buffet were also enjoyed by guests. The reception then became a New Year’s Eve party and the bride changed into a mermaid style wedding dress to enjoy the festivities. Casino tables with professional dealers entertained the couple’s friends and an evening filled with dancing and music provided by the Blue Tones followed. Personalized champagne flutes were provided for guests to ring in the New Year. Photography is provided by Ben DeRienzo of Nashville. After a honeymoon in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the couple resides in Franklin.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Warren Buffett: Economy Has 'Fallen Off a Cliff'

"What is required is a commander in chief that's looked at like a commander in chief in a time of war," Buffett said.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

No earmarks or pork in this plan!

I like many Americans find themselves worried more and more as the stock market continues to drop. I just asked Josh and a few others this week, at what point do you sell off your stocks and only have money in cash and bonds? One person who I know is financially savvy answered he had spent the entire morning converting his stock into 3-year industrial bonds. It’s a crazy time. Even wealthy Americans are concerned as they see hundreds of thousands of dollars gone. Older American’s retirements, gone. Other Americans who don’t have much (or any) invested in the stock market, are either unemployed or worried they are about to be unemployed.

If you even somewhat know me you know that I am perturbed by our government’s excessive spending by BOTH parties and DEEPLY concerned about Obama’s financial policies. The first paycheck I received as a teenager I looked at it and didn’t understand why so much money was taken out of my check. And it’s irritated me ever since.

Then once I got to college, my parents sent me to a week-long financial series led by Dave Ramsey. So while many of my friends were racking up credit card debt, I was working on Dave’s steps to Financial Freedom and “living like no one else so that later I could live like no one else”. I was motivated! So it made me mad to see money taken out of my check by the government, and then spent carelessly and excessively. I knew the sacrifices I was making in order to stick to my budget and save and felt the government should have to abide by those same standards.

Now Republicans who have these viewpoints are often wrongly accused of not caring about those in need. And I want to make it VERY clear that just because we want to decide where our money goes, does not mean we are not as compassionate or charitable as the Democrats. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Here are some interesting numbers from a March 2008 Real Clear Politics article.

-- Although liberal families' incomes average 6 percent higher than those of conservative families, conservative-headed households give, on average, 30 percent more to charity than the average liberal-headed household ($1,600 per year vs. $1,227).
-- Conservatives also donate more time and give more blood.
-- Residents of the states that voted for John Kerry in 2004 gave smaller percentages of their incomes to charity than did residents of states that voted for George Bush.
-- Bush carried 24 of the 25 states where charitable giving was above average.
-- In the 10 reddest states, in which Bush got more than 60 percent majorities, the average percentage of personal income donated to charity was 3.5. Residents of the bluest states, which gave Bush less than 40 percent, donated just 1.9 percent.
-- People who reject the idea that "government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality" give an average of four times more than people who accept that proposition.

In 2000, Vice President Al Gore's charitable contributions, as a percentage of his income, were below the national average: He gave 0.2 percent of his family income, one-seventh of the average for donating households. Talk about an “inconvenient truth”. From 2000 through 2004, President Obama never gave more than $3,500 a year in charitable donations -- about 1 percent of his and Michelle’s annual earnings.

So while very diligent while in office to give away other people’s money to government programs, they weren’t nearly as diligent at home at giving away their OWN money.

Being around the people and work I am around (my husband is a lobbyist…hello?!) and being involved in the political arena myself, it is so easy and quite natural for me to look at everything politically. But last Sunday my preacher Bobby discussed the economic crisis. And it was his sermon that has really prompted me this week to start thinking of this crisis more from a spiritual perspective instead of political one.

While thankful to my parents for sending me to Dave Ramsey in college, I am most grateful for the example they set for me and my sisters. You will never meet more generous people than my mom and dad. My dad grew up with nothing and would be content to this day if he still had nothing…as long as he was still able to help out other people. I have witnessed my parents forfeiting items I know they would have enjoyed, just so they can provide something for someone else. They have assisted numerous students throughout the years with their college tuition (in addition to paying for their own children’s education). They have helped people with their mortgages, furnished houses, cars, the list could go on and on. But they did not just do this because they are good people, they did this because it is biblical to do so. And as a result, they have been richly and abundantly blessed.

I remember as a young child sitting in a gospel meeting at my church and a guy by the name of V.P. Black came and talked about the importance of stewardship. His entire message was this: ONE CANNOT LIVE OBEDIENTLY BEFORE GOD AND WALK IN THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST WITHOUT DEALING WITH MONEY AS A SPIRITUAL ISSUE IN HIS LIFE.

Now I know there are many reasons for tithing. It shows you where your priorities are, “For where your treasure is, there your HEART will be also” (Luke 12:34), because “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7) and because it doesn’t really belong to us anyway!

But you will also find this in the scriptures: “A generous man will himself be blessed” (Proverbs 22:9), “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever SOWS GENEROUSLY will also REAP GENEROUSLY” (2 Corinthians 9:6), and
Malachi 3:8-10 "Will a man ROB GOD? Yet you rob me.” But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In TITHES AND OFFERINGS. (9)You are under a curse — the whole nation of you because you are robbing me. (10) Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.

Talk about a stimulus plan!

So while no one in the United States government seems to know how to fix this economy (or apparently pay their taxes), part of me wonders if the answer is not a political answer or policy, but found right here in the scriptures. Because while it is easy to point out Al Gore and Obama as politicians who don’t give to charity, it is much harder to look at Christians (and in the mirror) and admit that we are not doing our part either.

Non profit organizations are now concerned because it's been predicted that President Obama’s proposal to limit the tax breaks for charitable giving would cause giving to decline by an estimated 1.3 percent a year. A second study released this week by the Center on Philanthropy shows 47 percent of affluent households say they would give less if their tax deductions for charitable giving was reduced. Now I will be the first to admit that any tax breaks are welcome and I think his proposal is absurd, but what does it say for our country when we will only give if we receive a tax break?

I would love to know what the number would be monetarily if all the Christians in the United States simply tithed. I can’t help but think the WORLD would be dramatically different, not just the United States. There would be far less hunger, far less homelessness and far less would have to be spent on government programs if we as Christians were doing our part. But historically, when times get tough guess what happens? We stop giving as much to church and charities because we live in fear and want to hold on to that money in case WE need it.

But remember the parable of the Widow’s mite and how she gave everything she had while others only gave small portions of their wealth.

John D. Rockefeller said, "I never would have been able to tithe the first million dollars I ever made if I had not tithed my first salary, which was $1.50 per week."

So I guess I would just love to see what would happen if everyone in America started doing this. Would the stock market automatically start gaining? Would the housing market and businesses start to flourish again? I don’t know but why not give it a shot? Be faithful. Be brave. Look at what he says again, “Test me in this, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

I don’t know about you but the words of the Lord mean a lot more to me than the words of any politician. And America needs all the blessings we can get right now. So I’m going to do my biblical duty AND patriotic duty and work on giving, even when my gut (and media and stock market, etc…) tells me to hoard it away. And I encourage everyone who has financial concerns to do this too, as counter intuitive as it seems.

And while Obama very well may be able to feed a crowd of 5,000 with just 2 taxpayers, he never has and never will – have a stimulus plan as good as God’s. (I know...he's just such an easy target!). :)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Why I LOVE being Mrs. Brown

Each day I am grateful that I can now call my old friend and buddy, Josh Brown, my HUSBAND! From time to time, I will smile for no reason when I realize, I'm Mrs. Brown! And as anti social networking site Josh is, I have inside knowledge that my blog is on his favorite list. (OK, and his friend Jill Robinson is too-but the fact that he's reading TWO BLOGS is a big step for him!) I'm not exactly sure how often he comes by but he's leaving for a business trip tonight so I thought it would be nice for him to find this either right before he leaves or while he's away from me. ): So my devoted blog reader and husband, this blog's for you!

Why are you the best husband in the world? Because...
1. You know how much my dog means to me and love her. And even better, she now loves you too!
2. You don't make me cook.
3. You always take Scarlett outside.
4. You turned your alarm clock to where I can see it when I'm getting ready.
5. You don't care that I get my nails done and have facials...and one day you'll cave and go with me.
6. You ENCOURAGE me to get massages.
7. You lead our prayers at night.
8. You make me want to get up and go to church on Sunday mornings.
9. Anytime you go to the grocery store you buy me Cookie Crisp because you know I've probably already eaten my last box.
10. You try to be so quiet in the mornings so you don't wake me.
11. You now watch Desperate Housewives and The Bachelor with me.
12. You tell me you'd still love me if I weighed 500 pounds and I know you are serious. Don't worry, not gonna take you up on that one.
13. You now consider me in all the decisions you make.
14. You are considerate of my feelings, even when they may be irrational.
15. You encourage Girl Nights.
16. You are so smart and I love talking to you and getting your opinions on things because you always seem to have the right answer - whether I want to hear it or not.
17. Lots of other people value your opinion and ask your advice.
18. I respect you so much and so does everyone else that knows you.
19. You're level headed...all the time.
20. You are a calming force in my life.
21. I think it's cute you don't want me to have to work, but would never discourage me from working.
22. You always run the trivia answers to the host for our "team".
23. You let me (after prompting) sit next to you in the chair meant for one even though it's not comfortable.
24. You don't make me watch 24 or ER and save them on DVR until I'm not around to watch.
25. You took me shopping and let me pick out anything in the store for my birthday even though you HATE to shop. Well I guess that still didn't make you have to shop, huh? Oh well, still sweet idea.
26. You always drive.
27. You love my family.
28. Your family loves me.
29. You are patient with me.
30. You are very charitable and giving.
31. You love me even when I am being silly and crazy and you think I act 5...or sometimes 15 you say on one of my more mature days. (trust me, this one is really going to loosen you up by the time I'm finished)
32. You opened your heart to me even though we may not have appeared like a match on the outside...and managed to make me do the same. (I still think you orchestrated that some way but I'm sooo glad you did)
33. You get me and know the real me...and still love me anyway.
34. You like nice hotels, fine wine and fun trips...so I get the benefit!
35. You love to play CRAPS and let me play too.
36. You were my best friend before you became my husband...well even before we started dating.
37. You are helpful to my friends...and to everyone really.
38. You care what I think, think I'm smart and want my opinion on things even though you're really the smart one.
29. You never panic.
30. You don't ever gossip - which I respect even though it can be annoying at times!
31. You rarely have a bad word to say about anyone. And if you have one, you usually keep it to yourself.
32. You are smart with money and provide for us over and beyond what we need, but you do not love money and are a good steward with what God has blessed us with.
33. You respect my dad as much as I do.
34. You respect your dad as much as I do.
35. You love my mom as much as I do.
36. You love your mom as much as I do.
37. You make a great uncle to my nieces and nephews.
38. You will make a great father one day.
39. You are a loyal friend.
40. You think I'm beautiful.
41. You pray for our friends by name at night if you think they need encouragment or help with something going on in their lives and they'll never know it.
42. You make me want to be a better person.
43. You will lead us and our family to Heaven one day.
44. You open up with me and I get to see a side of Josh Brown no one else sees - especially the silly and crazy side. See, I'm making a difference already!
45. You make me laugh.
46. You send me flowers.
47. You never say negative things about me...even though I have many flaws.
48. You love me flaws and all.
49. You are you.
50. You allow me to be me.
---was going to stop here but can't.
51. You are so handsome in a suit.
52. You stay up late with me even though you want to go to sleep.
53. You aren't afraid to make tough decisions, even unpopular ones.
54. You are very confident but never come across as arrogant.
55. You will take me to important games when I'm sure you'd rather take a guy friend.
56. You aren't afraid to say no...to me or anyone else. (yeah, that one can get annoying)
57. You are a natural leader.
58. No matter how old I get, I will always feel young next to you. :) OK, had to throw in at least one zinger.

I really could go on for ever listing big things and small things that all make up why I'm so lucky. I love everything about you and feel so blessed that you have chosen me to be by your side for the rest of our lives. Thank you so much for choosing me. And come back soon...from your trip and to my blog. You never know what blog entry awaits you. :)