Budgets and Blessings

Learning to save ... We’re more than three weeks into our new budget plan, and it seems to be going fairly well. With only a week left, I’m actually looking forward to the end of the month, hoping we’ll come in under our budgeted amounts in some of the categories.

We decided to wean ourselves from credit card use, with the exception of online purchases. The first time I had to fill up my car sans credit, I found myself staring stupidly at the gas pump; I didn’t know what to do. As it turns out, I’ve never bought gas with a debit card – I’ve always used credit (or cash, back in high school). Since my debit card can also work as a credit card, I have to be careful – I don’t want any surprises at the end of the month.

Kathy does almost all of the recording on our handy budget spreadsheet, whenever we spend money. “It’s kind of fun,” she claims. I can’t see how that could be, but leave it to my Kathy to find a positive angle. “It is cool to get control over our finances,” Kathy insists.

Kathy and I are in full agreement ...

Personally, I don’t see much fun in it. I chafe under the restriction of the budget, a lot more often and a lot more sharply than I thought I would. Kathy hoards her grocery and household money, but I don’t really have any category that I can manage except for “Tim’s Unaccountable”, which is my monthly cash allowance. So many of our expenses are fixed or outside our immediate control … it makes me sad.

these money issues are killing me

Daniel can’t handle the stress of the new budget.

One of the factors which made it scary and difficult for us to start this budget plan was a series of unexpected expenses that threatened to overwhelm us. It has been interesting to see how God is dealing with that, especially since we were nearly deterred from our budget plan altogether. As I constantly remind myself, “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” How foolish we would be if we let our fears rule our hearts, instead of trusting in our Father, who loves us.

Expense Expected Cost Actual Cost
Kathy’s Root Canal $1200 $274
Tim’s Implant $1800 $1280
Lawn Mower $175 $155
New Roof $11,000 Still unknown, but there seems hope that a cheaper alternative may emerge.
Brakes for Kathy’s car $600 Deferred until May
Homeschooling Materials $600 Deferred

I'd love to put a metal roof on our house ...
Not our actual roof …

Since we started budgeting, we’ve had an influx of cash and the promise of cash. First, our income tax refund was larger than anticipated and arrived much earlier than expected. Next, we found that we’ll qualify for the maximum stimulus tax rebate, to be paid out in the third week of May. Out of the blue, I received a letter from my uncle, informing me of a small inheritance from my grandmother’s estate, likely to be disbursed some time this Spring. Finally, just today I received notification of my company’s quarterly bonus (it usually amounts to a week’s extra pay) to be paid out in early May.

David is swimming in big bucks

In the tub there are no worries.

It is good to be reminded how much God loves us and cares for us. While I don’t expect God to open the windows of heaven every month, it is comforting to see that God is master of the “just in time” inventory philosophy. We’ve been able to meet our immediate needs and to begin to save toward a new roof, something I thought for sure would place us further into debt.

Windows of Heaven
Not that we’d mind having the windows of heaven open every month …

I don’t really have any excuse for being fearful about money. God has taken good care of our family, time and time again. I’m a little embarrassed to have to learn this lesson all over again.

Paying off the debt ... I’m planning, if I can find the time, to create a sidebar graphic that will display our progress, month over month, in reducing our debt. I’m not going to post how much we owe, but I think I’ll show the percentage reduced, so you can encourage us, hold us accountable, and perhaps be encouraged in turn. We’re in this for the long haul this time, unlike previous flash-in-the-pan budgetary attempts. I’m hereby publicly committing to a minimum of six months of sticking to our budget. I know that may seem pretty lame to some, but for Kathy and me, it is a big commitment, so please bear with us.

Thank you to the many readers who commented on the last two money-related blog entries – we have been blessed and delighted with the quality and quantity of godly advice and encouragement many of you have offered.

Project 366 – Day 115

Share or follow

Related posts:

Turning Books Into Movies

This evening, while I was ignoring the dirty dishes and waiting for the seventh load of laundry to finish, I stumbled across a list of books that are being made into movies. Now, I know that I spend more time reading blogs and homeschooling books than actual novels, but this is a LONG list and I don’t recognize even half of them. Surely I’m not THAT out of touch with the literary pulse of our society.

As a comparative literature major, that is a wee bit embarrassing. Well, it would be if I wasn’t so busy with the aforementioned laundry and dirty dishes. And if I were a little more confident in the caliber of books being published these days.

Sarah's not sure

Mom, I’m not sure about these books.

Look it over and tell me if these are books you have read and loved (or hated). I should also mention, I am in no way recommending these books (or the potential movies). If they are wildly inappropriate, I apologize! As I said earlier, I have not read (or even heard) of most of these titles.

A Great and Terrible Beauty
The A-List
I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You
Teen Idol
Maximum Ride
The Clique
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 — August 2008
City of Ember
A Yellow Raft In Blue Water
Wolf Brother
Lovely Bones
On the Road
Where the Wild Things Are
The Looking Glass Wars
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Historian
City of Beasts
My Sister’s Keeper
The Ruins
Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging
Marley and Me
The Tale of Despereaux – December 2008
The Other Boleyn Girl — already out in the theaters
The Kite Runner — already completed
Love in the Time of Cholera — out in theaters
The Lightning Thief
Emily the Strange (comic)
The Giver
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Narnia: Prince Caspian — May 2008
The Hobbit
Memory Keeper’s Daughter – on Lifetime TV
The Life Before Her Eyes – September 2008
Then She Found Me – May 2008
Nim’s Island – out in theaters

I am still surprised at the length of this collection. The real question, however, is not:

Have you read these books? But…

What book would YOU see made into a movie?

I love the Jane Austen flicks – wonderful! Joshua is crazy about the Lord of the Ring trilogy. We have several movie literary adaptations in our DVD library. After looking at this extensive list, I’ve started thinking about what other books just cry out to be made into movies. Three that came to mind while blogging late at night:

Prince of Foxes - this historical romance would be an amazing period piece with the right (dashing) cast
Ender’s Game – sci-fi author, Orson Scott Card, has been working for years on the movie version
Nearly anything by juvenile author Gordon Korman – love his kids books as they are clever, hysterical but clean and not filled with over the top obnoxious children.

give me a sword

David appreciates movies with sword fighting.

Leave a comment and tell me what titles I’ve overlooked. Oh, and did I mention we’re on a Budget (with a capital B) and don’t get to the movies much these days? Probably cheaper to just read the books from the library. :)


Share or follow

Related posts:


WFMW – Love Languages (Gifts)

wfmw I love gifts! My mom is the queen of celebration. When we visit my parents in Michigan they always have little bags of treats and goodies waiting for us. And whenever they come to Washington they bring special gifts for each person (including Tim and me). This February they flew straight here from a vacation with my aunts and uncles. What did they do about the GIFTS? Not to worry. They mailed them ahead of time so they would be here waiting and ready for their arrival.

With all of that said, it’s not surprising that I have inherited some of this joy of celebration and gift-giving. Last week I read something in Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers that reminded me of my mom’s creative way with presents. Chapman said that adding a bit of “ceremony” to gift giving can turn the ordinary into a special moment. This is especially true for children who have gifts as their primary love language.

As parents, we often buy needed items for our children (socks, toiletries, school supplies) and then hand them over matter-of-factly. There is nothing wrong with this, but to the child who feels especially loved through gifts, it is possible to transform these casual purchases into small tokens of love.

daniel and david

Since we have been discussing this topic over the week (as Rachel so cheerfully blogged for me), I have been sensitive to the nuances that might reveal my five children’s potential love languages.

I thought I would try Chapman’s suggestion with David, age 7, (whom I suspect has a strong leaning toward gifts as his love language). Tim and I bought some clothes for the children in October when we were in Virginia and stopped by a Children’s Palace outlet. Everything had been distributed except for a few items for David. I told David I had a little surprise for him.

“Nothing big, just a little something.”

two feet, skating away

He was ecstatic! He couldn’t wait to see what I had. He wanted to open it right then and there. He beamed and told me he was ready for the present.

I rolled up a pair of corduroy pants and put them into a gift bag (topped with some tissue paper). Next I took a pair of jeans and put them in another gift bag (complete with additional tissue paper). I brought the bags downstairs to David.

His eyes were big. “Why are there TWO bags?” he asked. “Just because,” I said.

I’m a mom so I can say inconclusive and vague things like that.

david tries out his new skateboard

David opened those two gift bags and raved over his two pair of pants as if he had been given a new remote control helicopter or exotic toy. He rushed to try them on. He showed them to his big brother and sister. He hugged and thanked me. It was a little moment of sweet joy.

All over two pair of slacks. With a little bit of ceremony (how hard it is to find a gift bag and some tissue) David felt special and recognized.

Interestingly enough, none of his four siblings fussed that he was getting a present and they weren’t. They oohed and aahed over his things and went on with the evening.

Of course, I am not saying you should try to buy your child’s affections with gifts or neglect any of the other four love languages. Frankly, I believe people need all five of the expressions of love – words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, physical touch and gift giving.

dvid works in the

I do, however, think with just a little bit of extra energy and thought, you can take something mundane, make it special and bless your child.

And that Works for Me! Stop by Rocks in My Dryer for other Works for Me Wednesday blogs.


P.S. A few questions – have you read any of the 5 Love Languages book? Do you know your love language? Your spouse’s? Your children’s? Do you think the “Love Language” concept is accurate and helpful? Share!

Share or follow

Related posts:

Running the Race

Tianne Moon – EnJOY: A Thirst-Quenching Look at Philippians

We watched Session Four from this (DVD study) tonight at Bible study.

Running the Race

rachel's shoes

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)

Four Things That Can Take Our Eyes off the Goal of Knowing Christ Intimately

1) Basking in the glory of past accomplishments –

When I was in college, I had amazing times with the Lord. It was so powerful!

But have you met with Him TODAY?

Two years ago I was a part of this new ministry at church. It was life changing for so many people.

But how are you serving the Lord TODAY?

If we spend so much time reflecting on the past, we will miss what the Lord wants to do in our present.

elise and sarah hit the grass in their rollerblades
Sarah (age 5) sets out to teach Elise (also age 5) how to rollerblade. Oh my!

2) Bowing under the weight of past failures –

God can’t forgive me because I ____________. My sins are too big even for Him.
I can’t seem to stop struggling in this area (fill in blank), so why bother trying?

Isaiah 43:18-19 says: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”

The Lord promises to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). We don’t need to be so burdened by our past struggles that we can’t move forward.

3) Biding our time waiting –

The Christian walk is an upward climb. If we choose to put our walk in neutral, we will not remain in one place. We either persevere and push onward and upward, or we slide back down.

sarah and elise strollering
Elise and Sarah abandon the rollerblades in favor of some other wheels.

4) Being distracted by earthly goals and interests –

Even things that appear outwardly good and positive can distract us from following God and His calling for our life.

Challenging thoughts on running the race. The question was asked:

What does your journey look like right now?
A meandering stroll? A light jog? A nap on the sidelines? An intense race?

And …

What changes can you make TODAY that will help you keep your eyes focused on the heavenly prize?

Thought provoking indeed.

Project 366 – Day 112

Share or follow

Related posts:


Love languages: by Rachel

Hi peoples! Whats up??

smile for the camera

Today I am writing a blog because my mom and dad don’t want to!! Yep, that’s pretty much the only reason! Anyway, we were talking about love languages this evening. I don’t really know what mine is. I thrive on quality time and gifts. When Mom and I go shopping we can combine them both. I did really like words of affirmation, but my parents say they aren’t very good at praising people, so I guess I’ll stick with the quality time and gifts.

Bring on the gifts!!! Just kidding.

We weren’t just talking about my love language. Mom and Dad wanted to figure out the whole family’s different love languages. Mom thinks Daniel needs physical touch, Joshua likes quality time, and David feels loved with gifts giving. Just like his big sister!!! We haven’t decided on Sarah’s yet. Maybe she’s too young.

Tonight we had Bible study, so while I baby sat I got to talk to my girl friends!!! That was fun!! Yesterday, I baby sat for a family that goes to our church. It has been a pretty good weekend. Mom and I went to the movies on Friday night. Too bad I have to do school tomorrow. :(

time to type

One thing I have to look forward to, is I am going to Norway in May!! I know that is, like, so cool!!!

Well, it is late and I had better go to bed.

See ya later!

(aka) RJE

Share or follow

Related posts: