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

 

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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.

 

 

Looking Back, Leaning Forward

As I think back over the last 365 days, I am astounded by all we have come through. Not even just the last year, the last seven years have been so challenging. Three times I seriously wanted to give up. Not once did that thought win. I knew that God was using me, my situation, my children, and our life to build our testimonies and our characters.

2018 brought me not only freedom from cancer, it brought me freedom of fear of cancer. You’d think fighting for my life would have already taken care of that fear…you’d be wrong.

The final release of the fear and dread that had been following me meant I could finally move beyond cancer. I can move through budget planning, career planning, family planning, and spiritual growth.

WORK

I am so excited to start January by giving notice at the job where I am so miserably miserable. I have made connections with staff and students at the elementary school as I had wanted to. I have prayed for my coworkers daily.

I cannot continue to work in a place where my integrity is put into question. Being forced to break rules has been so very difficult. I have brought the issues to light with my boss and it is all I can do. I can only continue to pray vigilance on their part to make the necessary changes to how things work (or don’t work) in that kitchen.

I am looking forward to being a substitute paraprofessional within the school system. I did it at the high school while I was still doing chemo and loved it. Now that I know the kids at all three schools and the staff knows me at all three buildings so my potential is much greater than it was two years ago. Even then I was working (at just the high school) at least 2 days per week; often more.

Working 2.5 days as a para-sub nets me the same as I am making now working 5 days a week in the kitchen. I am confident that I am following God on this one; just as I did when I listened and switched jobs to go to the elementary school.

Finances

Even with the trip the boys and I just took to Minneapolis for three days, I’m still able to pay my rent on the first of the month. The substitute work as a cleaner has definitely helped to get us back on our feet. I will be able to continue doing this after leaving my kitchen job.

January starts a new year, a new budget. Recently I have been using more of a pray and hold on type of accounting. Not a true accountability of the money as it comes in and out. Only that I know I have enough to pay the rent on the first and to make the required payments as the month continues.

Actually sitting down and beginning a cash accounting system with a balanced budget and a name for each and every dollar that comes in will be so freeing. I know some people struggle with a budget being restrictive. What they truly don’t understand is that having a balanced budget actually leads to a freedom like none other.

With a budget, I know already exactly how much I have available for A, B, or C. I actually am able to do much more with what little we have; knowing it is all taken care of each month.

(I may or may not have just spent a great deal of time figuring out my budget with an irregular income). 

Having to set my priorities when your budget cuts it so close every month is difficult, especially when you can’t start the month with the amount you need for each category and instead have to wait for this paycheck or that child support payment to make the payments.

I am confident though that within a few months I will have a baby emergency fund in place and be well on my way to building a future for myself and my boys.

I am SO PUMPED to be on our way!

I told the boys that we would take a trip in April to celebrate two years being cancer free. We definitely are going to take at least one trip a year from now on. This trip come in under budget at just over $700. That included gas, food, hotel, and all attractions. I thought that to be an awesome price for a four day – three night vacation.

Although a vacation fund does not yet get a line in our budget, any $1.00 or $5.00 that are left over from our money in the gas, personal, and utilities budgets will go into that fund. Instead of adjusting the budget, I know I’m giving us a little wiggle room. I’m doing that as I’d rather be long than short and try to figure it out.

I’m going back to more budgeting…

Both boys are still awake…and trying to stay up until midnight. With only an hour left I might even make it!

Happy New Year Everybody!!