Our “Dave Ramsey” Family

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

4/14/2018

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!

Wind

By Regina Cyzick Harlow

3/1/2018

Caterwauling wind

Scrapes branches

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

But instead

I’m drinking coffee

And sulking

In my favorite yellow chair

About the wind

Creation of the Violin – Revisited

A while back during a writing class I was challenged to re-write a myth. Any myth. In any form.

I must have read twenty or more myths before I came across the “Creation of the Violin,” on Wikipedia no less. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Creation_of_the_Violin But this was literally the only one I felt connected to in any way. I related to the disparity of poverty and wealth, sorrow and joy, longing and fulfillment. I felt the connectivity to all humanity, and as a singer and lover of music, the power of a song is not lost on me. As I wrote, I was able to sense the emotions from the boy’s perspective. While I don’t see it as anything spectacular, I really enjoyed writing this poem.

The Creation of the Violin – Revisited

By Regina Cyzick Harlow

She longed for me, my mother did

To hold her baby flesh and blood

When I was born into this life

She fell ill and shortly died

I lived without her twenty years

I cried ten thousand bitter tears

But I went off to find my love

Guided by mother’s hand above

I came across a palace grand

A rich king with a daughter’s hand

Men had tried the world around

To win his daughter and his crown

I trembled low before His Honor

What must I do to court your daughter?

He cursed at me and bellowed loud

And threw me in the dungeon crude

Foolish boy, I thought aloud

For I am just a peasant’s child

What right have I to royalty

A beggar’s life is fit for me

Doom, despair, despondency

My self-fulfilling prophecy

Poverty is all I know

Crept it’s way into my soul

Light pierced through the dungeon black

A Fairy Queen, and from her back

She took a box and rod of wood

In my hands she placed the goods

I plucked some hairs from off her head

And strung them o’re the box and rod

I tucked the box beneath my chin

And touched the bow upon the string

As music filled the dungeon chamber

Fairy Queen was filled with laughter

Then as I slowed the bow and string

Tears became her offering

I felt a surge within my soul

Another language took control

Tears and laughter came and went

Evoked by my own instrument

Into the box and rod I poured

My lonely tears my childhood joys

My mother’s longing and her death

The odds of poverty and wealth

The chorus of ten thousand others

Joined the song across the ages

Haunting voices throughout history

From the future, still a mystery

Hope, despair, joy, and sorrow

Amalgamated and crescendoed

When at last I took a rest

I could hardly catch my breath

We had no words, the queen and I

No cheers to laugh no tears to cry

The song transcended any language

Gave voice to my deepest anguish

I sat once more before the king

Touched again the box and string

Moved by the magic of the music

King gave his daughter to this peasant

Happily, our ever after

Peasants, Royalty, together

Joined in song by box and string

Creation of the violin

I bargained with God and got my end of the deal! Now what?

For most who know my family, it’s no secret 2017 has been a year of difficulties. I wrote down the “big” things the other day and came up with this list.

Husband – mono (severe) and pneumonia (still dealing with symptoms of mono)

Me – strep twice, months of intense physical pain, tested and ruled out for ovarian, colon, and melanoma cancers

Son – strep four times and mono (less severe)

Daughter – strep nine times, mono (severe), tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (still dealing with symptoms of mono)

Daughter – respiratory complications that resulted in sometimes upwards of six breathing treatments a day

Another loved one continues to suffer with memory loss/dementia and relies heavily and increasingly on my husband and I for care

And those were just the big things.

Before I go further, we have and continue to address each situation as well as bigger picture causes and possibilities, including air quality in our home. However, our one daughter seems to have been a walking germ factory with her tonsils, and since her surgery and recovery things are improving greatly. My pain seems to have been a result of me needing to take better overall care of myself.

Somewhere in the intensity of the battle, I bargained with God that if we could all get well I would stop holding back and living small.

It felt like a really good deal at the time. Now we are all healing and gaining strength and health and I am processing what I meant by “not holding back and living small.”

I’ve had to confront myself this year on many occasions and came to realize that fear makes my life so small; fear of living, fear of dying (this one is more about me leaving my children or having yet another child die than me actually transitioning to my Eternal Home,) fear of upsetting someone, fear of not standing up for (insert many things) regardless of whether or not it might upset someone, fear of being misunderstood, fear of vulnerability (I have so much I write and want to share, but fear holds me back,) fear of …

Counseling is helping. Friends willing to speak truth, hard truth, is helping. Taking better care of myself spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally is helping. Taking a lyrical ballet class is helping and I can tell an immense difference in my freedom of movement and participation since I resolved to stop living small. Ironically, genealogical research is helping. Confronting the root of my insecurities is helping. Love is helping.

I hope you will join me on the journey ahead as I learn to live into my destiny and perhaps inspire you to live into yours as well. I’d love to engage with my readers more as we journey together. What have you been struggling with? What joys fill your life today? How can I pray for you?

Sharing this photo is a big deal for me. I used to loathe many things about my physical features, but the more grounded I become and the more I delve into my genealogy, the more I see the uniqueness and character that make up the whole of who I am.

Here’s to hope, health, and deeper discoveries.

The discipline of silence with a singing soul

I was born singing. It’s what I do. Here’s a little rhyme I just made up about it. 
I sing when I’m happy, I sing when I’m sad. 

I sing when I’m angry, and when things go bad. 

The songs and tunes change for each situation. 

But singing is always my soul’s proclamation. 
Since late November, I’ve had a hoarseness to my voice. Overuse makes it worse. Last month, the ear, nose, and throat doctor put a scope through my nose and down my throat and said I have a hemorrhagic nodule on my left vocal chord. (The doctor described it as a callous with a blood blister.) If it worsens, he said, he wants to do a biopsy. He left me with the following orders: “Minimal talking and when talking is necessary, whisper. For at least a month.”

I laughed. 

“I’m serious,” he said, “Totally serious.”

Let’s start with challenge #1: Mothering 7 and 4 year olds and a 7 month old with a whisper is laughable. Impossible, really, but I’m trying. What I have noticed is those rare moments when it does work, it affects us all. Mom uses a softer tone, so do the children. 

Challenge #2: I’m the co-founder of a peer-support organization, all relational, walking with those grieving the death of a child. Surely there are times of silence as we process grief together, but so much of what I do involves conversation. Still, doc says, converse quietly. 

Challenge #3: I’m a minister. I speak, I sing, I lead worship. Nix all of that for now. There’s no way to do any of that quietly. In order to keep from belting out in corporate song during worship, I’ve been making great use of my “coloring Bible.” 


(More on that in an upcoming blog.)

Oddly enough, this very situation is the reason you are reading this blog. This is my voice. As much as I am a singer, I am that much more a writer. It is my catharsis. But mi vida loco takes precedence and my true voice gets lost in the chaos. 

I don’t know the final outcome of this nodule nor what steps will be required for full and complete healing. I know my voice is not any better today than when the doctor first diagnosed me, but it’s also not worse. Praise God. The doctor talked of voice therapy and even the possibility of surgery as a last resort. It feels big. Frustrating. Especially when my soul is bursting with song and there is no release. 

But lessons are emerging from the silence. My soul is growing and deepening, making space to hear and experience God and life in new and amazing ways. While I eagerly await and expect complete healing, I don’t want to miss the lessons in the silence. 

I’m sure you will read about them here. Thanks for spending time with me today.