Our family began the year by taking “Financial Peace University” classes offered by our church. Financial Peace University is a course developed by financial expert Dave Ramsey, teaching people to get out of debt and build wealth using a practical budget system and debt snowball. (Definitely check it out!) It was the beginning of a much-needed, eye-opening, life-changing, journey for us.
However, less than two months after the last class, I found myself in a chain store making an entirely unnecessary impulse purchase that included this book.
The purchase also included an art-prompting sketch book for our son and a poetry journal for our daughter. I am admittedly a sucker for books and writing tools and our 9-year-old son has started drawing impressive comics and our 6-year-old daughter is writing powerful poetry.
That, along with my own need to write, and April being poetry month, it took two seconds to justify spending money not included in our April budget.
Perhaps the purchase will be redeemed, because as I balanced our monthly expenses this morning and determined to end this month with an “every dollar” budget, I used my impulse-buy book to reaffirm our family’s mission, poetry style.
Those who listen to Dave’s podcasts, read his books, or have taken the course will recognize his phrases and lingo in the poem. Thanks, Dave Ramsey. We’re one more family on track to change our family tree. Can’t wait for the day we do our own “debt free scream!”
Our “Dave Ramsey” Family
By Regina Cyzick Harlow
Stuff and label envelopes
Assign specifically to spend
Our monthly budget on a plan
To pay debt snowball to the end
Tweak, adjust the budget app
Enter every dollar spent
We’re only halfway through the month
But now we know where money went
Beans and rice and rice and beans
No more going out to eat
Cooking skills put to the test
As lentils take the place of meat
Limit our vacation plans
Yes to less and no to more
Protect from impulse purchases
By taking lists to every store
Kids think “Uncle Dave’s” no fun
Until allowance pay-out day
When scheduled worked-for chores are done
And mommy is prepared to pay
Persist, endure, and persevere
With “gazelle intensity”
Will all be worth it in the end
When we are finally debt free!
With apologies to minivan moms who would never find stale fries underneath seats and who are comfortable in designer clothes. I salute you!
This post originated from a conversation with a best friend yesterday about the stigma of moms and minivans. Since I love poetry and it’s April/National Poetry Month, I couldn’t help but honor my minivan with a poem.
By Regina Cyzick Harlow
Hat hides uncombed hair
Yoga pants and maxi skirts
Feel good on a shape
That has birthed babies
And bears the look of one
Who stress eats and sneaks treats
From the children’s candy jar
Fancy vehicles feel as much a misfit on her
As designer clothes
Skinned knuckles reveal
With car seats and buckles
Stale fries underneath seats
Reminds her of bargaining for sanity
And cartooned stickers
Placed haphazardly on smudged windows
As she revels in the unspeakable joys of motherhood
I am she and she is me
I am a proud minivan Mom
As much as I own “minivan Mom” status, I have very few photos to prove it. Someone snapped this when I was leading runners and walkers for our annual 5K.
Then there’s that time we were snowed in.
And the other time when a summer storm brought a tree branch down on my van.
And that’s about all I’ve got for photos.
Currently my van is in the repair shop and I’m driving an SUV. The lovely folks in the school pick-up line shout out, “that’s a nice ride,” but I can’t wait to be back in this white beauty. (In the eyes of the beholder, right?)
I ran out of words this week, to say, to speak, but not to write.
We are wrapping up a brutally busy, gloriously wonderful Holy Week including, worship and work and friend and family time.
I am one who is often confused as an extrovert because of my love for people and my professions, but I’m much more of an introvert then most realize. Without sufficient alone time I become cranky and intolerable, and alone time this week has been zilch. (And yes, I’ve been cranky and intolerable.)
The children are on spring break from school so they’ve been hanging out with me most of the time.
I worked at the Sadie Rose House Monday. We have our biggest fundraiser of the year coming up, our annual 5K, and I’m immersed in the crazy that leads up to this wonderful event. P.S. There’s still time to register and you can do so here!
The children had piano lessons Monday evening, and my supper was a big flop! I grated potatoes and fried them, but they were way too starchy and turned into a big pile of ugly gray (but tasty) goo. No one else would try them.
It was a wonderful surprise to have my dad visit Monday night and Tuesday. I had extra family here that day to spend time with him. They consumed a triple batch of buttermilk pancakes, a crock pot of vegetable beef stew, almost a full pan of rolls, and a pan of peanut butter bars.
Wednesday, our women’s Bible study group prepared and served lunch for a community Lenten luncheon. I made vegetable barley soup for the soup and sandwich buffet.
Thursday I worked at the Sadie Rose House and Thursday evening we had our traditional foot-washing and communion service at church. During a time of silent confession I was repenting for my cranky intolerable attitude. I decided to refocus and fully engage in the meaningful experience of reenacting the Last Supper. I thought, “Wow, what a week it’s been!” And immediately it was as though Jesus reminded me, “Yeah, what a week it was!”
Leaving that beautiful Maundy Thursday service, I felt like I had run out of words. My verbal allotment was drained for the week, yet all I wanted to do was write. I thought of the quote by author Ernest Hemingway: “The writer must write what he has to say, not speak it.” But alas, I was too tired even to write.
Friday, two dear friends brought their children to the park where I served chili, rolls, chips, and popcorn cake. (Check out my popcorn cake recipe here.)
Other friends stopped by after the park, and the children spent the night at a friend’s house, so my husband and I went to dinner. We tried watching a movie, but I slept the whole way through.
I got up early this morning to write an article for our church newsletter. I wrote about the power of living hope, (1 Peter 1:3) then picked up the children and headed straight to church for an Easter egg hunt. We had a wonderful turn-out and a lovely time.
I’m selfishly hoping I don’t have to speak the rest of the day, but I’ll be writing in my head all evening. Surely a poem will form as I ruminate.
We still have Community sunrise service and breakfast, Easter service, and a meal with family tomorrow. In all this, I am reminded of how wonderfully blessed I am, not because of all I have; love, family, friends, work, food, for which I am truly grateful, but because of who loves me. He’s not only the reason for the Christmas season, but for the Easter season, dry seasons, rainy seasons, and all of life as well and He loves you, too.
Happy Resurrection Day to all.
My friend does these occasionally on her own blog using the same list each time. I always enjoy reading them.
Outside my window…rain, sleet, and turning to snow! Expecting about six inches of accumulation for our area tonight and tomorrow.
I am learning…that worry really does rob us of present joys.
I am thankful…for our wood stove, extra snuggles with the kiddos, for a life of unfathomable blessings.
In the kitchen…mini chocolate chip muffins from breakfast and our favorite chili in the crockpot for this cold snowy evening (recipe to come).
I am wondering…if the children’s school will release early today due to increasing inclement weather and declining road conditions.
I am listening…to Curious George.
I am remembering…several children and teenagers who are celebrating heavenly birthdays today.
I am going…to work from home today.
I am trying…to simplify my color-coded calendar. Too many colors means I’ve said yes to too many things. Slowly but surely I am successfully scaling back to focus on my most important priorities.
I am reading…”Black Milk: On the Conflicting Demands of Writing, Creativity, and Motherhood,” by Elif Shafak.
I am hoping…that our toddler will soon be fully potty-trained. So ready to move past this phase of parenting, but I’ll always remember how it felt when our first born died and I wanted nothing more than to change messy diapers and be the sleep-deprived parents we have since been so blessed to be.
I am looking forward to…snow, even in spring. We don’t get much snow around here and snow days are my favorites. I usually bake cinnamon rolls or doughnuts and share them with neighbors or those out plowing the streets and other community workers.
I am realizing…that our children are growing into little adults right before my very eyes. Be still, my heart.
Around the house…two dogs and two cats sleeping and children’s books scattered everywhere.
I am enjoying…our new CD by The High Kings, one of our favorite music groups from Ireland. I took our 9 and 6 year olds to see them in concert Saturday evening, St. Patrick’s Day. It was our children’s first concert and we got to meet the group. Amazing!
A kid quote…after gloomily watching a few minutes of a black and white Andy Griffith our free-spirited vibrant 6-year-old said, “Mommy, I like to see the colors of life. Gray things make me sad!” I laughed and told her she could change it to something she wanted. Immediately our 2 year old started asking to watch “Barney,” and she wasn’t talking about the big purple dinosaur. We love color. We love Barney Fife.
A few of my favorite things…dirt roads, mountains, and campfires.
A few plans for the rest of the week…much of what I had planned will depend on how much snow we get and how quickly it melts. I had planned to attend a funeral tomorrow, but if our children are out of school and the weather is bad I will regrettably not attend. I have much to do for our non-profit, some of which I can do from home, and I plan to do some writing, cooking, and baking and soak up whatever time I get with my husband and children. All of these pretty much sum up my life.
A good life happens when you stop and are grateful for the ordinary moments that so many of us just steamroll over to try to find those extraordinary moments. Brene Brown
My mom, with her sister/brother quartet, used to sing this poem in slow doleful harmony. A young girl on her lap, I would shiver at the very thought of Robert’s words as mom softly crooned in her low alto. I hum this to myself often, especially when death arrives yet again as it has so suddenly in our tight-knit community this week. It’s a sobering thought.
Just think! some night the stars will gleam
Upon a cold, grey stone,
And trace a name with silver beam,
And lo! ’twill be your own.
That night is speeding on to greet
Your epitaphic rhyme.
Your life is but a little beat
Within the heart of Time.
A little gain, a little pain,
A laugh, lest you may moan;
A little blame, a little fame,
A star-gleam on a stone.
May the God of all comfort be with those who are facing this reality tonight.
Forgive the unoriginal title.
I made white pizza for supper. (Vegetarian recipe, but could add some crumbles of bacon. This recipe is really versatile.)
You should definitely try it! There are multiple steps, but it is still quite simple and oh-so-tasty!
I served it with leftover corn-poblano-potato soup, (vegan recipe) and fresh strawberries we bought from a friend in 4-H.
This blue dish was a gift to me as a young teenager. I know this makes me sound old-fashioned and, well, just old, but when we were young, we always had planning for marriage and family in our forefront. Many gifts I received were given with the idea that one day I would use them in a home of my own. This is one of them. I still treasure this gift, but more so, the friend who gave it to me. I think of her every time I use it.
Here’s what it looks like empty.
May your memories be warm, your dishes filled with goodness, and your friendships sweet.
By Regina Cyzick Harlow
Against my nerves
Rattling my soul
Leaving me in a constant state of angst
Unsettled, unnerved, gloomy
Perhaps a kite
Or harnessed power experiment
Might lift my spirit
I’m drinking coffee
In my favorite yellow chair
About the wind