I’m writing to talk myself into working on my budget. I had to go over my personal spending ($80) and, as I wrote the other day the lessons say it can take three months to get all the categories right. And it’s not like I don’t have the money to cover it, so it’s not a big deal…right? RIGHT?

Well, here I sit…not wanting to actually write down the transactions because my brain is convinced it means I failed. The thing is thought, that if I don’t write them down, it is a slippery slope and a quick trip to self sabotage. I’m good at that kind of thing, always have been.

I didn’t fail though, I am successful even getting this far…and each day we progress on track…or in the rumble strips…it still means we are on the road.

There ya go…I’m not off the road, I just his the rumble strips. Buying a new litter box and cat litter did not put us in the ditch. It’s just a piece of our reality…and we’re still on track.

I need to GIVE MYSELF 90 DAYS…and be kind for 90 days…because these days are hard; beyond hard. They are also worth it…so worth it.


You long to see Your children succeed. I can only compare the feelings to how I know my mom feels when we are struggling. I know how much I hurt to watch my kids fall down. Knowing how much more You love Your children, I can only imagine that the only thing that helps is knowing the end of our story.
I am not asking to know the end of ours…but God, I need help getting through these days. I am working so hard to lead by example and to teach my children about grace…help me remember that same grace is also shown to me.



Being Kind

After working through Financial Peace University lesson three; the biggest take away for me is that I need to learn how to be kind to myself.

As Dave Ramsey talked about cash flow planning, he teaches that it takes up to 90 days to get doing a budget right. That much like riding a bike, it takes time.


Well, here I am beating myself up yesterday because I went out and bought a long needed new litter box for the cats and using up all my personal money and then some.

While I’ve got the envelope system in use already, I have to continue to be kind to myself when I forget a few of these little things and have to remove from one of my other funds as I make adjustments and make it work.

IT’S OK TO MAKE ADJUSTMENTS as I’m re-learning to budget.

Money had been used as a tool of abuse in my past…it is tied to shame and guilt. I have to remember that money is amoral. Money does not have any feelings or judgement.

I’m so thankful for this class to help with my focus on my goals.


One Of Those Days

Today is turning into one of those days where staying in bed just sounds like the right thing to do.

I cannot go watch my older son bowl as a parent is scheduled for concession shifts during the younger one’s hockey game today and they are at the same time. I asked the ex if he’d be there to cover the shift (as it is his parenting time with the kids). He’s going to watch the other boy bowl.

Due to hockey, I have not have much opportunity to watch him bowl and was really hoping to get to this weekend…and I’m sad about it.

And I’m sad I had to go to the doctor yesterday to get checked out for something that a regular person would not even take a second glance at.

I’m sad that my timing and God’s timing as far as still being single are concerned.

I know, I know…it’s all part of His good plan, all of it.

I can still show battle fatigue.

I had an offer for a date recently and although I know the guy is not the one for me, I’m going to go for dinner with him. He knows what I’ve been through, he knows my story and a dinner isn’t going to lead to anything more than dinner. He’s comfortable to be around and after I told him I’m not interested in dating, he still offered dinner just to visit.

I won’t lie, I’m lonely for companionship.

Not all the time…but today I am.

When I’m at hockey, I fit in like a glove…I love those parents and kids. And then we all go our separate ways.

Ugh…pity party of full blast today. Hope it passes soon.


I know you hate to see Your children hurting. I also know that this isn’t for nothing. I trust You and Your timing. I just need to find that piece of patience I seem to be missing.
Give me the peace to move through each day with my confidence in only You.



Well…back to the real world now; where things aren’t always easy and time keeps marching on anyway. I’ve already posted my physical goals and what work will look like in 2018. I’ve talked about finances some, but need to make some concrete goals to reach.

I will list each goal and when I want to complete it by. I will have little (seemingly easy to attain) goals and a couple that are way out there…as we all know that it is not us that controls how things go!

February 15: $500 baby Emergency fund
March 30: Pay off parenting time expeditor ($267.55)
June 30: $1000 Emergency Fund
December 31: $5000 emergency fund.

Considering $5000 is more than one third of what I brought home all of 2017 (including child support) that’s a HUGE number. I also know that God wants me to succeed, He wants my boys to have security even more than I do.

Yesterday, after listening to lesson two in Financial Peace University and hearing how kids the ages of my boys should start to take some responsibility with finances so they can begin to see how it really works.

It talks about giving them a commission instead of an allowance; meaning it is tied to whatever their job is.

This was easy for me.

For my younger son, who loves hockey and hates practice; his job from now on will be to not complain about attending hockey practice. Each day he goes willingly, he earns $1.00. When I explained this to him, he said goalie practice should be $2.00. Goalie practice is very difficult for him as this is his first year playing in net and he does not do well emotionally when he is not the best at something the first minute he tries it. I agreed, $2.00 for goalie practice. He will also get a $0.50 bonus for any day he goes to open hockey. His skating needs to improve, and only being on the ice will do that.

For my older son, his job is getting all his school work in on time and taking responsibility to show me the online report every day (no report, no money). He will earn $1.00 for every day that he has no missing assignments and nothing the other days that he either forgets to show me or has stuff missing. His available bonus will be $2.00 any day he goes without playing any games on the xbox.

I’m also considering adding bonuses for doing chores without arguments or reminders. I don’t usually get many arguments, but I have to remind them constantly. If I tie their responsibility to their income, that might change their tune a little bit.

My older son is ready to open a checking account and I’m excited for him. I believe he will be the saver of the two…but that little one might surprise me.

I told them that pay day will be every other Sunday. I’ll have to make a calendar to track their earnings between pay periods…their own time cards I guess you could call it.

For this money, it will come out of the money I make babysitting. I babysit two boys in the mornings before school (they take the bus from my house) and I get paid $25/week. Earnings from the last two weeks have gone straight into the $500 emergency fund.

So what will they do with their money…they will give, save, spend. They will be expected to give a portion (and I will give guidance towards tithing, but allow it to come from their hearts so they become grateful givers). As the older one will be opening up a checking account, he will have the opportunity to save money there. They younger one, I’ll likely employ the envelope system with him (give, save, spend envelopes).

For the remainder of this school year, I’m not sure that I will expect them to pay for any of their needs. From this point forward (after their first payday) they will have to spend their own money on any concessions at the arena or bowling alley. This is where the little one will go broke. I’ll add skate sharpening, and things of that nature. For now, I just want them to get used to taking responsibility to having a little bit of money.

We will have a saving discussion about maybe a waterpark day or trampoline park…something to that effect. I want to give them small attainable goals at first…so when they start thinking Disney World…they know it’s going to take some time and effort.

I’m guessing I won’t have to pay out more than $30 every two weeks so will use the leftover babysitting money to build up the payday fund. I’m so excited for these kids and their futures.

First PAYDAY will be January 28.

Dear Father in Heaven

I know how much You love your children, when I think about how much I love mine, it blows my mind that You love us even more than that…so much more.
Thank You for this opportunity to lead by example to teach these boys about finances and money management.
Help me to show grace when they need it most and to teach them to come to You when they are frustrated with the discipline of money management.
Lord, give my boys the heart of grateful givers as they have seen how amazing those gifts have been in our lives.
Continue to use me as a light in the world…


It’s A Start


Our church is offering Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. I’ve done the course on my own before, when I was married and am quite familiar with the fundamentals. When I was offered a scholarship to attend the class, I jumped on it as knowing our financial situation is (again) in transition, this is the perfect time to dig our heels in and get on our feet for once and for all.

Last Sunday was the first class. Today I received my membership kit. I’m a total budget nerd and so thankful to be able to go through an actual class.

Today, I sat my boys down and discussed budgeting and going through what are referred to as The 7 Baby Steps.

  1. Save up for a baby emergency fund ($500 based on my income…it’s usually $1000)
  2. Pay off all debt (except the mortgage) with the debt snowball.
  3. Put 3 – 6 months of expenses in savings (your fully funded emergency fund).
  4. Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRA’s and pretax retirement plans.
  5. Save for your children’s college education in tax favored plans.
  6. Pay off the mortgage early.
  7. Build wealth and give!

So we talked about how following these steps will open the doors to awesome things. How we will be able to save for things and not have to worry paying for things we want.

The boys seem to be on board to knock these steps out with enthusiasm. We have a pop bottle filled with coins and an orange juice bottle about a third full. My oldest boy immediately suggested using it to fund Step One.

My only debt is the parenting time expeditor (owing $267.55) and student loan.

We could be on Baby Step Three before the end of this class.

Then Baby Step Four just takes care of itself, all I have to do is sign the papers. Going to have to learn more about Baby Step Five…the college fund one. I’m not sure how much is supposed to go into that one. Will be so much fun to financially invest in their future.


We all went to the bank and cashed in our coins, we had $192.82 between those bottles and our dollar jar. We are well on our way to financial peace!

As I know I have a grant from trails to treatment coming, I decided to use this cash to finish funding all my envelopes.

  1. Gas/Maint: $175
  2. Medical/Dental: $16
  3. Utilities: $80
  4. Sports: $50
  5. Personal: $80

This way I am not trying to track debit card usage from my child support account, and trying to be able to put most of the child support towards Baby Step One. I am pretty sure that by the end of January we will be fairly close to finishing up Baby Step One.

Baby Step Two should be a cake walk, I owe just the parenting time expeditor under $300.

I know Baby Step Three will be a little more difficult and that is where I will be challenged. This is where the discipline part is going to be tough and rewarding at the same time.

Looking at saving up to $8000 seems insurmountable at this point in time. I think the boys and I will have to make some sort of visual chart to mark off how far we are getting. Even at $400/month (which is way out of our reach at this point in time) we’re looking at almost two years. Wow, that is a long time.

For right now, I need to focus on where we are, not where we are going. When I was sick, I focused only on the task at hand; getting to the next appointment, the next day, the next hour. For our current challenge, I will have to focus on the next paycheck, the next tax return, the next reward.

I’m not sure if Dave Ramsey allows for smaller goals with small rewards (a nice meal out, a getaway for the weekend, or other small rewards for meeting milestones) but think if the boys and I work in $1000 increments, it may be easier to stay on track.

We can make a chart that we fill in as we go (like a fundraising campaign thermometer) and make that a visual in our home. Knowing we have a common goal will make it much easier to understand the no’s and their implications.


As we learn to use Your money in a new way, help us to remain focussed and to come to You with our concerns and frustrations. I know discipline is difficult, and I also know the rewards of consistency are so worth the battle. 

As the boys learn to use money as the tool it is meant to be, help me to mentor and lead them. 

Father, I ask for help getting through these baby steps. Financial help, emotional help. While my heart keeps shouting, “The faster we get through this, the sooner we are done!” My brain knows that it is a marathon, not a sprint. I’ve done a marathon God…it was hard…and so worth it. 

Help me to keep my eye on the end goal, to be able to live and give like no-one else. Shut out the sounds of the evil one’s claims that money equals dignity. 

My trust is in You alone. 



Tough Night

I don’t know why, but all of a sudden it hit me that in less than 24 hours my cousin will have been dead for a week already.

I feel like all the friends that I have currently posting their quickly growing children, “How can they be so old already?”

How can he be gone so long already.

How has so much happened in just six short days?

I feel so blessed that I have no inclination to ask why which becomes the prevailing question after so many suicides. This removes a barrier to grief.

I know why.

My cousin was sick.

He comes from a long line of sick.

Damn Jes, I’m sorry that you had not yet found a passion worth plugging through for.

You are forever 27 and my heart is forever broken.

Another One


Monday, the mother of my friends, whom had also become my friend in adulthood won her battle with cancer.

At 3:24pm, surrounded by loved ones, she gave cancer the final middle finger.

A woman that defied the medical community and their predictions. Living years past hearing, “there is nothing more we can do.”

There was lots she could do.

She could still go on a cruise with her husband, the love of her life.

She could still care for her daughter through her battle with Addison’s Disease.

She could still love her children, Marcia, Travis, and Trent and her grandchildren.

There was lots to be done.

My last visit with her was (of course) at the Northern Inn during the breakfast rush. Her and Darwin out living life so full of love for life and each other.

Her, terminally ill with metastatic cancer, me (at that point) cancer free.

Her encouraging me and congratulating me for beating the beast and kicking it’s ass. Telling me she wasn’t done fighting, and never would be.

She was wrong.

Yesterday, she truly won.

And we lost.

Her family and friends left to mourn as she is dancing along streets of gold, finally free from medications, side effects, pain, turmoil, doctors appointments.

Rest In Peace Linda Graham. Your race is run and we will continue to fight in your honor!