Showing Love

Ask anybody who has known me for more than ten seconds, and they will tell you the reason I have children is so I have an excuse to take naps and people to clean my house. None of them nap anymore; but that hasn’t stopped me.

On Wednesday I did something that was very much out of character for me. While the boys were at school, not only did I not take a nap, I completed their chore lists. All of them.

They really don’t have large lists; their true jobs are to complete all their school work to the best of their ability, work hard at their chosen activities, and help out around the house when asked.

When we started budgeting, they each were given a pay slip to fill out every two weeks that would determine their earnings. Simple things they were already doing like the litter, and taking a Clorox wipe to their toilet. One boy had hockey practice as part of his earnings, the other had no Xbox as an incentive to earn some spending cash.

The older one recently took up archery. I bought his first five arrows and told him he is responsible for any more. The younger one next year has to start paying for his own skate sharpening. This year he’s been responsible for his own concessions when at the rink.

My boys are amazing young men. I love to watch them become true gentlemen. The older one is showing such maturity (for his age) and his emotional growth this last year has been as significant as his physical growth (can you say no pants that fit anymore).

When I completed their chores the other day I didn’t make a big deal of it; I just informed them that as a show of my appreciation, that was my gift to them. They were both very thankful and more than a little shocked.

It was a small reward, it cost me nothing (except my nap time) and it showed them that we truly are a team.

Last night, the little one had hockey and while we were there, the older one took the garbage out (and remembered to replace the bag), he folded all his laundry and sorted mine and his brother’s into separate baskets, he showered…this kid’s awesomeness brings me to tears.

Anytime I can encourage this type of behavior, I’m all in; even if it means missing nap time!

Lord,

Thank You for reminding me that all the hardships we have faced have shaped the boys in so many great ways. To be able to see such growth after all they have been through and missed out on reminds me that we are exactly where we belong.
Guide me in ways to encourage continued growth and show my appreciation in ways that keep their buckets full.

Amen

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Vehicle Update

Yay me…granted another opportunity to allow God to show up and show off.

To replace the blower motor (remember, a $70 part) is over six hours of labor! SIX HOURS. To replace the blower motor the entire dash needs to be pulled off. Who thinks this crap up? What engineer sat there thinking, ya…I think a great place to put a part that is likely to need replacement when the vehicle is worth next to nothing is in a place that is going to cost more than the vehicle is worth.

Ya, apparently the design engineer was not a single mom.

So, when I’m on the highway the air flows enough to keep the windows clear. In town I’m not so lucky. Thankfully most of my trips are quit.

In the mornings, I’m blessed to have a garage that keeps the window from fogging overnight…or I’d be considerably more screwed.

So, I’m gonna pray. I’m going to ask you to pray. Either for a miracle cure for my current blower motor or a viable vehicle option to come my way.

Lord,

My trust in You has stands firm. I am so very excited to see how You show up this time.

Father, I ask for your loving hand to reach the family I am serving through volunteering at the elementary school. May they see Your love and comfort through this transitional period they are facing. Give me the guidance to be of assistance to this child. Fill him with a love and comfort only You can.

Bless this family as we have been blessed.

Amen

 

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.

NINETY DAYS

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.

 

Financial

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…

Amen

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.

Awe Man

Well, what was a beautiful tribute to my dear cousin was used by certain family members to put a target on my head for their hurt, anger, and guilt.

It is so unbelievably heartbreaking.

 

I have spent two days trying to write my feelings out…and they just aren’t ready to be heard yet.

My feelings are so raw, my pain so real.

I know that I don’t want to miss this time…I don’t want this pain dulled by time. I want to share what is in my heart. My brain must still be in survival mode though, because it is having NONE of it.

Hurt people hurt people. The sick keep getting sicker. Silence and secrets kill.

I love you.

Ask Me How I Know

Yesterday my mom called me. We had talked a few times already about an engine my dad needs for his snowmobile and were still trying to figure out logistics. I thought that was what she was calling about.

I’ve never been so wrong in my life.

My 27 year old cousin, her sister’s boy, died of depression yesterday afternoon.

Ending his own pain exponentially increased ours.

Us, his 16 cousins left on his mother’s side left to mourn along with our parents, their mother who turns 93 tomorrow, his mother and father. His friends, his coworkers, his admirers…his fans.

Oh you know he had fans…he was that kind of guy. Living the dream.

Except his dream was marred by depression a haunted genetic history that made him decide to never have children, for fear of passing on some mental illness to them.

The boy who loved people and life more than many. The young man who was home wherever he went. The friend who was always available; no matter what the personal cost.

Although I do not know the contents of the note he left, I have a pretty good idea what was going through his head when he made a call to the local police station reporting a suspicious pick-up at an abandoned farm house (leading them to find him, already deceased).

He was tired, and he had had enough. He was saving us…his family and friends…from seeing what he thought was failure. He no longer had the strength to try one more time to make life with mental illness work.

Satan loves this mindset.

As he became sicker, the enemy became louder, and more convincing. Reinforcing the idea that the world wold be better off without his shenanigans, offensive facebook posts, and crude humor.

The enemy was wrong.

We love him for those very things. They made him uniquely him. They gave us the smiles and giggles, and inside jokes that we now must carry on without him. And carry on we will, because that’s all we can do.

In October 2005, I nearly ended my life. I had taken my daughter to school, kissed her goodbye. I dropped my older son (then just 10 months old) off at a friend’s house to play for a couple hours.

I then drove myself out to the hunting shack with my gun, loaded it and got out of my pickup…it was time to end my family’s suffering. It was time to allow them to move on, beyond depression and the medication trial and error rollercoaster. It was to be my gift to them, to give them freedom to be happy.

God didn’t think so.

In my heart, I began to question what my daughter would think…that she wasn’t worth living for. I couldn’t do that to her. I tried to reason with my heart that I was doing this FOR her.

God was louder than the enemy.

I shot my gun at a distant target…went home and promptly drove myself to the hospital for a five day stay.

There have been just three other times in the last 12 years that the thought has crossed my mind. Every time, I tell myself over and over again that God has a plan, God has a plan, God has a plan…

I know my cousin’s suicide was not part of God’s plan…and that free will owns that one.

What I do know, is that God will use this tragedy for His good works.

As that gets all worked out, I’m just sad. I’m broken, I’m drowning in a sorrow like no other. A piece of my heart has died. Although I cannot replace that piece, I can have the courage and the knowledge that the rest of it will strengthen to carry the load. The piece that is missing will always be missing, and it will hurt less over time.

Memories, like phantom limb pain of an amputee, will bring smiles, tears, and inappropriate snickers and the wrong time…in my cousin’s time.

I love you Jes.