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

Advertisements

Well That Was Close

When I was trying to figure out what I was going to do for employment after the elementary school, I spent a lot of time talking with God. He made it abundantly clear I was to remain as a sub for the rest of the school year.

I’ve talked recently about applying for, and not getting, a couple jobs within the school system and my weird comfort with it.

Then yesterday, April 4, I’m walking through Walmart and I hear, “Just who do you think you are not supporting your children? Is this really the life you want for them? Both McDonald’s and Walmart would likely hire you on the spot; you’d best apply soon if you want to pay your rent in three weeks.”

Over and over this message played in my head all day yesterday. I was so beat up by the end of the day that anybody who crossed paths with me immediately saw that something was wrong.

As they day wore on, my resolve wore down. Maybe I didn’t hear God; maybe (and much more likely) I’m just lazy. Maybe the voice telling me to sub was actually the enemy and THIS was now God’s voice telling me to get off my butt and be a productive member of society.

I opened the unemployment services website, I started looking for postings, I conceded that working full time this summer would kill me. I started looking for a job.

This morning, after I hear alarm clocks go off in each of the boys’ rooms, my phone rang. It was the local high school calling for a full day of work as a special education paraprofessional.

I talk with the people at the school and get two more kitchen days at the high school (one in May and one in June), and am told to I’ll definitely be called for future dates.

GAH

Ya, God is that awesome. He knows exactly how many days off I can take, He knows exactly how many hours I must work. HE.WILL.PROVIDE.

I have no idea how many times this will need to be drilled into my head…and my job is to praise Him through it all.

I know I’m not lazy, I’m actually a very hard worker. I’m a fast learner and have a great personality. God WILL provide.

Thank You Father for loving me beyond all comprehension. For giving me opportunities to shout praise to You through it all.
Even when I know how much I love my children and would do anything within my power to care for them, I am confident there is nothing that is not in Your reach; nothing beyond Your grasp.
I will continue to ask the big prayers, to follow faithfully again and again.
Thank You Father.

Amen

So EXCITED!!!

Remember that first time walking in to Toys R Us? The anticipation after seeing commercials showcasing the latest, greatest toys, isles of bicycles, an entire section of nothing more than Hot Wheels and their accessories, another for Barbie…

Your wedding day…knowing that forever, two will become one. That you now have your own family to add to the family Christmas dinner table…

The birth of your children. After years of trying, months of anticipation, a medical scare (or ten)…and soon, your little miracle will be here. Somebody will announce It’s A Boy, or It’s A Girl! You have their whole life to look forward to. First smile, first words, first steps…

Just as each of those milestones are seared into my memory and still bring a warm smile, I now have a new one that is KILLING me with anticipation!!!

The worst part…I can’t tell you about it.

Not that I don’t want to share with EVERYBODY this wonderfully exciting thing that is in the works. I mean seriously…THIS IS LIFE CHANGING. I’m giddy like a kid waiting to open their birthday gifts. It’s like Christmas morning (I’m the BIGGEST kid on Christmas morning).

It’s just that…well, I don’t even know what it is yet!

I feel God moving in my life in ways I’ve never felt before. I feel like I’ve won the lottery!

YES

That’s the feeling!! I’ve been trying to describe it for the last week!!

So now, I just have to wait for the payout! I have to make it to lottery headquarters and all the ‘paperwork’, wait for the press conference, set up the appointment with financial planners and legal folks, call my family, and give all the glory to God.

So whatever lottery it is that I’ve won, I’m so thankful.

I’ve already won the “AWESOME KIDS” lottery, the “best friends ever” lottery, the “coolest parents in the world” lottery, the “cancer” lottery…

I cannot wait to see what’s next!!

Thanks

Today is the final game for Squirt B Black as we play our last district game. A week ago we didn’t know if we would even being playing in the top bracket…and today we are playing for third place.

I don’t think anybody realizes that this is my FIRST year of healthy hockey…the first year I was diagnosed with cancer and doing chemo treatments while coaching, the second year I was healing from 6 months of chemo, 5 weeks of radiation and two surgeries, and at the end of the season (flew out the day after our final game) for an 11 hour surgery, last year I was taken off the ice with a knee injury in November and never got back on the ice.

This group of 12 kids, their parents, and their extended families; none of whom I knew before cancer, has been such a blessing to me, to Carson, to Kevin, to each other.
Next year, four of our teammates will move up to PeeWee and I will miss them so much. I look forward to this group every other year.

Right now though, my full heart is aching. I cannot love these boys and these parents more than I do…and the only way to show it is by telling the whole world. I have never felt so loved, so accepted, (so tolerated-lol), in my 18 years in the USA as I have this last winter.

This team has been led by three Godly men who have taught our boys that hockey is just a game, family is forever, and God is everywhere. They have taught them that praying is not just for supper tables, bedtimes, and church pews…but locker rooms and center ice as well.

They have modeled sportsmanship, teamwork, and class every step of the way.
As we go into today’s game…boys…YOU ROCK…I AM SO PROUD OF ALL OF YOU. Keep praying boys, keep asking to pray, ask the adults in your life to pray for you AND to pray with you.

Coaches…I got nothing…because no matter what I say it’s gonna make me cry…thank you for leading this team…through trials, triumphs…and most importantly, to Jesus.

Amber, all your hard work leaves me in awe every step of the way. THANK YOU for taking on the role of GM.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

#IsThisTheQuietSection

Thanks and Praise

I have so much to be thankful for in my life, my world, my heart. While dealing with the tough stuff, I need to sometimes write the good stuff down as an out loud reminder that life is good and God is great.

All my kids are physically healthy. The boys are great students, as evidenced by their parent/teacher conferences yesterday. My daughter is the mother I never knew she could be. My granddaughter is an amazing specimen of love and laughter and spit and vinegar; not unlike her mother at that age.

I have been almost two years free of a disease that, only by the grace of God, did not take my life. Instead, cancer GAVE me the life I have long for since moving to the USA. Finally I am free to be myself and live out loud.

I am free of the marriage that God used to teach me that only He matters and that when people focus on worldly idols and not on His love, their free will and the enemy are more than willing to make a path for them.

I also learned that no matter how far a person runs, God is always where we are and waiting with open arms.

I am so thankful to have the friends and family who support me in my relationship with Christ. Thankful for those who are getting to know my boys and be advocates for them, giving me a little bit of breathing room.

Today I’m off to watch my older son bowl in league play. He is headed to districts March 18. After he’s done I’m headed to the arena to watch the first of two games today that my younger boy’s team will play in district competition.

My heart is so full today, my life is so great.

Lord,

Thank You for the reminders yesterday as I got ready for my day. I had almost forgotten how powerful worship time can be on the heart.
Watch over my boys today, and every day in their pursuit of passions that feed their minds and bodies as they give all the glory to you.
Thank You so much for Coach JO and all the support he and his family have given me this year. I finally feel like My little man has somebody in his corner, and I’m thankful for that. Bless the family beyond all earthly understanding as they go through life as a great team.

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