Baptism Testimony

On February 26, 2023 I participated in baptism Sunday at our church, Compass Bible Church, Treasure Valley. It’s hard to put into words what led to my conviction to be baptized again at the age of 47, but for nearly five years my heart continued to feel drawn towards this act of obedience. With Easter Sunday approaching, I felt it was a good time to share both the video and my handwritten testimony, I pray it is an encouragement to someone else that may have had a similar journey to mine.

My testimony: I was introduced to Christ in a Sunday school classroom at the age of 5 years old. I said a prayer inviting Jesus into my heart, and I was baptized at the age of 9. Since that point in my life I would have told anyone that asked me that I was a Christian, declaring my belief in the Lord and His salvation. And I truly did believe in God, I believed in Christ, and I lived my life as a good person, but there was so much missing. I didn’t understand the true Gospel message. I never understood my deep depravity, about the fact that I could do nothing to save myself. I could not attend church enough, or say the right prayer, or be good enough to “earn” my salvation.  It was always going to be the work of the Holy Spirit, the incarnate birth of Jesus Christ, and His sacrificial death on the cross and His glorious resurrection that was going to bring me to submission to the Lord our God. It was never going to be about me and my efforts. So I lived my life stating that I was a Christian, meanwhile I chased after the things of this world, and maybe from the outside people would say I was an upright citizen, a loving mother, kind and generous towards others. But I can tell you that I was a hopeless sinner, who did not have a regenerate heart. I saw Jesus Christ as my ticket out of hell, but I did not submit to Him as my Lord, and I did not desire to be obedient to Him in all that I did.  

In 2018, when I was 43 years old, my husband and I were facing the darkest days we had known within our marriage. And for the first time in my life I sat there in my brokenness, knowing I could do nothing to fix all that was wrong. My only hope was to repent of my sin and submit to the will and sovereignty of God. I experienced my 2 Corinthians 5:17 moment, as it states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” I didn’t fully realize how significant that submission to God was. I still kept telling my story of being a Christian since I was a child, and I was viewing my experience in 2018 as a “God moment” in my journey. But the reality is that in the years since that pivotal moment, everything has changed. My desires changed, my thoughts changed, my speech changed, everything I did was through the filter of “is this honoring to the Lord”. The Holy Spirit had entered me and had begun a work in my heart and life, I was being sanctified. And the sins that used to consume me were no longer present, I couldn’t imagine doing the things I did before. And just to be clear, I still sin and I still fall short, the difference is, I am repentant and I deeply desire to be obedient to God. 

Eventually, with growth, sanctification, hearing the testimonies of others, and a whole lot of scripture reading I caught onto to the fact that I hadn’t been a Christian my whole life. That dunking in water at 9 years old, was just me getting wet in front of my church. That was an intense moment for me as I sat there, in my pride, saying, what will people think? Won’t this confuse my children? Yet, all I could do was be overwhelmingly grateful for the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing me to true reconciliation with the Lord. I had to set down my pride and my fears and submit to the conviction that was clearly present in my heart and mind. So here I am in Biblical obedience to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Before Christ I had a horrible crimson stain upon me, I was living in complete depravity. Five years ago in my brokenness of sin, the Lord drew me unto Him. I could do nothing else but respond in faith and obedience to Him, and from that point forward my life was radically and miraculously made new, the blood of Christ and Christ alone covered me, and took away the stain of my sins. And I’m so unbelievably grateful for His love and compassion on me.

Northern Utah

We’ve spent the last week in northern Utah, in a sweet little town called Trementon. It’s been a down week, not much sightseeing or adventures. We are still getting used to this full time thing and spent a lot of time resting and playing some games.

Aspen Grove RV Park

The views here were pretty awesome, and the RV park was super convenient, very clean, and there were lots of nice travelers we got to meet.

The sun rising on Rhoda

We took some time to check out a local diner on Mother’s Day, JC’s Country Diner. The food was delightful, if you’re ever through the area, get one of their scones!

Mother’s Day at JC’s

Our oldest daughter, Emma, joined us this week. We drove down and picked her up from the Salt Lake City airport then made a stop at IKEA for some meatballs. She’ll be with us for a week or two. YAY!

Meatballs at IKEA

I had my first In-N-Out experience as well. The burgers were good, the fries…meh. Emma believes In-N-Out to be worthy of a five hour drive, I think that’s debatable.

Burger’s at In-N-Out

We had plans to go down through southern Utah, Zion National Park, and the Grand Canyon this next week. That itinerary had to be changed due to some life stuff, so we are beginning our trek to Texas a bit earlier than planned. Flexibility is a huge benefit to having your house on wheels!

Where we stayed: Aspen Grove RV Park

On the road

Post Mother’s Day Post

The post Mother’s Day post. This is real life. One worn out, no makeup on, very tired momma, and one of my kids leaning on me. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. There is no where I’d rather be than wrapped up in my children.

Me and Lilly.

Being a mom is like a kick in the teeth and standing on a mountain peak all at the same time. There is no preparation in the world that gets you ready for motherhood. You will know love like you never knew possible and you will worry and feel pain to an unbelievable degree.

In your life as a mother you will become a researcher, a caregiver, a chef, an Uber driver, a teacher, a dictionary, a clock, a CEO, a magician, a hairdresser, a maid, a minister, an adviser, a punching bag, a life-growing machine, a seamstress, a personal shopper, a mediator, an accountant, a cargo handling supervisor, a LEGO engineer, a baker, a therapist, a photographer, a coach, a cheerleader, a communications expert, a doorman, a coat rack, an emergency management specialist, a fund raiser, a story teller, a janitor (not the same as a maid), a locksmith, a maintenance and repair expert, a mathematician, a DJ, a cup holder, a dishwasher, a tour guide, an entertainer, and the ultimate finder of lost things. For many of the beginning years, you are the world to your child, their everything, then they will grow and become independent (as we’ve trained them to do) and you will feel obsolete as they turn to others instead of you. The journey we go on with our children is incredible, the God given mercy and strength we receive to do our mom-thing is incomprehensible.

In my twenty two years as a mom, I have watched life begin, I’ve stood before a doctor as he told me my son’s chance of survival was slim, I’ve prayed until words were gone, I’ve cried until tears were dry, I’ve lost pregnancies, I’ve seen miracles, I’ve faced postpartum depression, and I’ve held my children when they were afraid, hurting, sick, broken-hearted, and unsure of life’s purpose. The love of a mother is only superseded by God. I can vividly recall moments of being embattled through tough times with my children and thinking, “They don’t know, they don’t understand, I love them with a love that is so pure, so fierce, so deep, and so unending.”

No, motherhood is not what we expect or are prepared for. It’s so much more, it’s better and harder than our wildest imaginations. These four children have made me a momma, and it’s the greatest gift I’ve ever known.

My family.

First Stop, Pocatello, Idaho

Many asked us where we were headed first and I’d laugh and say, “Pocatello, Idaho!” I’d laugh because, there’s really not much to do in Pocatello. But it is low-key, slower paced, and exactly what we needed to start off our voyage.

Rural Pocatello, Idaho.

Right off the bat, we found ourselves in a lurch because the RV park I reserved for us was a great big NOPE! It was not well kept, lots of trash everywhere, and honestly, quite terrifying. I quickly located a KOA in Pocatello and they could fit us in for only five nights, so our fifteen night stay became five nights. Not a big deal, we knew starting this journey meant lots of flexibility and being able to bob and weave when we needed to.

Pocatello KOA.

We enjoyed our stay in Pocatello, it was simple and easy, which was good for a first stop. We did celebrate Lilly’s 10th birthday while we were there! She picked out puppy cakes and we had a wonderful night hanging out. I was also able to get in for treatments at The West Clinic while we were there. Dr. Jason West is an amazing naturopath, I highly recommend him if you are facing tough or hard to diagnosis health issues, or even chronic pain or fatigue, he’s pretty great at giving your body what it needs to do it’s thing. People fly from all over to see him. (Not a paid plug or anything, I just really like this place!) We also just live normal life on the road, we like to watch The Chosen, and When Calls The Heart, so those things still happen. And the girls loved their time on the playground!

Where we stayed: Pocatello KOA.

Sadie resting in our room.
Spot 38. Water and electric, dirt and rocks, but a great place to park for five nights.
Lilly’s puppy cakes on her 10th birthday.
Watching The Chosen.
Pocatello from Sister City Park.
Blue skies and smiles.

Finding the Right Rig

When we started this process, and decided to live a nomadic lifestyle for a few years, one of the first hurdles we had to jump was, what will we live in? There were many, many discussions about this. My original thoughts were to buy an old school bus and renovate it, I love skoolies! But my husband definitely liked the idea of being able to disengage from our home and leave it in one position while we take our vehicle and adventure elsewhere, and it’s a very valid point! We could have towed a car behind a school bus, but we were also concerned with when mechanical needs arose (and they will) we would actually be without our home. If the engine needed worked on, it could be pretty invasive, and this applies to class A’s and Class C’s for us too. So ultimately we decided on the fifth wheel as being the best option for us, there’s a bit more stability in towing a fifth wheel than a travel trailer, and there’s more cargo storage.

Once we decided on a fifth wheel we felt completely overwhelmed by all the options out there. We knew we wanted a used one, we knew we would do renovations and modifications to accommodate Phil’s workspace, to make things feel more like a home, and to bring the girls’ piano, but we struggled with floor-plans. We thought a bunkhouse would be the best fit, but we really could not find any with a configuration that suited us. I had been following Cortni, aka The Flipping Nomad, for quite some time and decided to reach out to her to get some consultation sessions going. That was one of the best decisions we made! Being able to share with Cortni what our family dynamics were, what our needs were, what our plans were, and what our budget was, she was really able to help direct us and guide us towards the exact fifth wheel configuration that we would need. Which ultimately we decided a toy hauler renovation would be the best bet. Because we could turn the master bedroom into the girls’ bunk room and put their piano in there, and then we could turn the toy hauler garage into our bedroom with Phil‘s workspace, and also have the added benefit of a drop down patio. Cortni also helped us know which manufacturers were the best, which slid out mechanisms we could work with and which ones we couldn’t. I cannot express how valuable those coaching sessions were to us! We were previous travel trailer owners and had even renovated one before, BUT we’d never looked at going full time in a rig, and Cortni’s experience and expertise saved us from some huge pitfalls.

After those coaching calls we literally had the fifth wheel floorplan nailed down to two rigs we were interested in. However, the Dutchman Voltage Epic 3970, from the Keystone family, ultimately won, because of some of the added features such as auto leveling, a central vacuum system, residential size fridge, food pantry, etc. Then we had to find one within the manufacturing years we wanted, within driving distance to look at, and most importantly, one that fit our budget! Our residence was in Meridian, Idaho, and every single day I searched all the ads, everywhere, trying to find us a rig. We drove a few hours to look at a few, and they just weren’t in good enough condition for us to pull the trigger on. This part of the process took months! And one day, a 2018 Dutchman Voltage Epic 3970 showed up at a local dealer in Meridian Idaho. So we loaded up the family and went to look at it. It only had one owner, an older couple without kids, and they had only taken the thing out a couple of times, and they had consigned it. It was like brand stinkin’ new. We were thrilled! We went home and prayed about it, and we asked God for a miracle on the pricing. We needed to offer the dealer way less than asking price, and in 2020, when there was hardly any inventory on used RVs, offering them thousands of dollars less possibly meant we weren’t going to get it. But we were okay with that, we fully committed to the price we were willing to pay, and we left it in God’s hands, if it was meant to be, it would be, if it was not, we then we would walk away and look for the next one. And to our utter and pure delight, they accepted our offer. So in August of 2020 we became the grateful owners of our new home on wheels, and we have lovingly named our big girl, Rhoda.

In The Flipping Nomad shop in Emmett, Idaho, awaiting her renovation.
Original Floor Plan.
Original Living Room.
Original Kitchen.
Original Master Bedroom.
Original Bathroom.
Original Toy Hauler Garage.


There’s a pretty big story behind what led my husband and I to buy a fifth wheel, renovate it, and travel with our children. It’s a story full of wrong turns, dead ends, divine intervention, and lots of grit and faith. We were pretty unsettled with life as is, the status quo, we definitely feel the Lord tugging at our hearts to discover His will and His plan for our lives. And we will share more about this in future posts. 

But if you want to know one of our big whys, it’s found in these pictures I shared with this post, it’s relationships, it’s reaching into people’s lives, and finding a way to let the love of Christ flow through us. Two of the girls in these pictures are ours and two of the girls are new friends. A little backstory, we had our rig in the warehouse at The Flipping Nomad site in Emmett, Idaho, doing renovations under Cortni’s tutelage. On a Saturday in September of 2020 we happened to be out there working on a day we weren’t scheduled to work, and in walks this family that was staying at The Flipping Nomad site. They are a full time RV family and they were getting out of the smoke and fires that were happening in Oregon at that time. We chatted with them for a bit and for the first time in my life I invited complete strangers to come have dinner at our home. We wanted to hear more about their story and all our kiddos wanted to hang out too. And the next day, on a Sunday evening, we lingered into the night talking to people we had only known for 24 hours, finding some of the deepest and most heartfelt conversation and encouragement that we’ve ever experienced. This family spoke life into us. Their story and journey touched our hearts, the way God has been ever-present in their lives stirred us. And we had the opportunity to share our testimony of God’s faithfulness, and be vulnerable and honest. Man, it was good stuff. Connecting in this deep and intuitive way was absolutely surreal, our hearts were hungry for more.

The next day, while I worked on the Voltage, our two youngest girls and their daughters spent 11 hours playing in dirt, exploring old barns, checking out vintage cars, painting their nails, and never once bickering or arguing, or asking me to watch a movie, or play video games, they just explored the world around them. In my heart there was such a deep confirmation about what it is that Phil and I are doing, we want to show these two daughters, that are still at home, what it’s like to meet perfect strangers and build a relationship with them, so that you can encourage and lift one another up. 

This is the kind of life we are seeking, a deep and intentional life, we want to be busy with the Father’s business, reaching into lives, and serving.  We want to stop our attachment to things, and start connecting with people in real ways. Yes, there will be many fantastic sights to see along the way, but our deepest intention is people. We want to support and encourage others in the ways we have been supported and encouraged.  We have been intensely and radically loved, and to God’s glory, we want to intensely and radically love others.  Let The Inspired Voyage begin!

Dear Son, On Your Last Night At Home

My dear son,

Tonight is your last night sleeping in our home.  You have been an adult for nearly two years now, but I’ve been fortunate enough to still see you at the dinner table and ask you about your day or open your bedroom door and see you sleeping or hear the sound of your laugh float down the stairs. You have reached that ever-so-important milestone of moving out into a place of your own. I am so very happy for you! Honest. As parents, this is what we’ve been preparing you for since birth. We’ve been guiding, leading and directing you towards a life of meaningful and responsible adulthood. And we are celebrating this giant step into adulthood with you.

Moving out of our nest here at home means a lot of things. It means you will now pay for your own roof, you’ll buy and prepare your own food, and you’ll learn how to pay for your own vehicle registration without me. It means that you’ll experience day to day life without the protection of your parents. It means that your little sisters will no longer knock on your door, or worse yet, open it without permission. It means you will no longer hear the sounds of your family day and night. But there are some things that will not change and I need you to know what they are. You are forever my son, and every single day of my life I will pray for you. As long as I have breath, I am here to listen to you, and to tell you that I love you. I won’t rescue you from any bad choices you may make, but I’ll stand beside you proudly and encourage you while you rise up from a fall. I will always believe in you, I will always see the best in you, and I will always smile when you walk through our front door. Anytime you want a meal, you can come home and find a seat at our table. And whenever you need a place of refuge, you will find it, here in my heart.

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be your mom and it’s been my honor to see you grow into the man you are today. I look back on the last (nearly) 20 years since you entered my world and I’m taken back by how incredibly fast they passed. I wish I could have heard you call me mommy one more time, I wish I could have read you a bed time story one more time, I wish I could have watched you ride your bike one more time, I wish for your hand to reach for mine one more time, but those days have gone by and I now have to fully step into my role as a mother of an adult son. I’m not sure what that looks like or how it all works, so please be patient with me while I figure it out and learn my new position in your life. I promise you this, I will surely mess up, but it will be with the best of intentions.

And while I have you captive for one more night, here under our roof, I have a few last reminders. Always seek God, your purpose and hope will rest in your relationship with Jesus. Always treat a lady in the same way you’d want a man to treat your sisters, with respect and kindness. Always put as much money as you can into savings, you’ll be way happier you did that instead of buying that drink from Dutch Bros every day. Always look for the good in others, it’s there and you’ll want people to do the same for you. Always keep learning, we never “arrive” to an all-knowing place, so remain curious. Always forgive, it’s not for them, it’s for you. And always, always remember to call your mom from time to time, because every single day she will be wondering how life is going for you and she will be missing you.

Enjoy what lies ahead. Be present and soak it all in.

I love you. It’s that crazy kind of love that only us mommas have, don’t forget that.


Camping, How Getting Dirty Rights the Soul

Do you go camping?  My family and I love to go camping.  And whenever I say that, people in my life correct me and scoff at me and inform me that, “You don’t really go camping when you drag your house on wheels behind you.”  To which I reply, “I get dirty, so it’s really camping.” But yes, the reality is, I’m not laying on the ground in a sleeping bag, inside of a mosquito ridden tent, I lay my head on a glorious pillow atop of a memory foam mattress in our travel trailer, but dude, it’s still camping. Here’s why, my feet are ridiculously dirty at the end of every day!

We do stuff. We hike on trails, we climb up rocks and make up stories about how they got shaped into what they look like, we try to coerce chipmunks into visiting us, I pray the bears remain hidden and don’t realize my kids leave food laying around everywhere, we go stand up paddle boarding, we sit around campfires with marshmallows on sticks and we watch mountain sunsets that take our breath away…..we are camping. Why do we expend so much effort into relocating our family into remote places in the Idaho wilderness for approximately 8 days out of every month in the warm seasons? We have a very good reason, the dirt rights our souls! At least that’s what I told someone last week. I thought about it after I said it and I was like, “I don’t even know what that means, but that’s how I feel.” There is something about letting go of the day to day life and stepping into nature that shifts your spirit, you become more present, more aware. The places we go to with our family rarely have cell coverage, so there is the added benefit of unplugging from the modern world, in particular social media and the noise it creates in our heads.

Last weekend, as I relaxed in my lounge chair around the campfire, with my Bible open to a passage in Luke, 17:3b-4 to be exact, I found myself realizing how much better I absorb scriptures while in nature. Have you read it lately, allow me to share the words of Jesus with you: [3]…”If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. [4] Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent’ you must forgive them.” -Luke 17:3-4 NIV

I’ve read this passage many times in my 43 years of life, but somehow at an elevation of 5,298′ without the distraction of the LTE connectivity, I found myself actually hearing Jesus. I must forgive if they repent. I get it Lord, I get it. He met me there in the solitude of the pine trees, while I was undistracted. That’s what camping does for me, it gives me the white space, the blank pages upon which the Master’s hand can paint His masterpiece. When I’m standing on a trail overlooking the beauty of creation I am keenly and fearfully reminded of what a mighty God I serve. Can I get that reminder at an elevation of 2,605′ (the elevation of where my home is) without pine trees? Sure I can, but God has to work harder there to get me to listen.

Maybe for you, it’s yoga class or a bike ride or cooking or walking your dogs or while you’re driving, but for me, I am most able to hear God when my feet are dirty and I’m surround by His majesty. So yes, getting dirty rights my soul. And the residual of it spills over into my everyday way of life. I had no idea how God was preparing my heart with those verses in Luke. One might think that He was preparing me for the person that would be standing in front of me asking for forgiveness this week? But no. Humility was asked of me this week (and always, am I right?!). Those scriptures were brought back to my mind yesterday as I stood in front of a Godly man and asked him to forgive me for how I had sinned in a way that affected how I treated him. I thought of those scriptures and I prayed them over that situation, I said, “Lord, this is a man of God, so he’s read Luke 17:3-4, right? Can you please remind him of these scriptures and allow him to forgive me?!”

You see, those quiet moments with my Lord and Savior in the days prior to real life, prepared my heart so that God could show me how I needed to be better, how I needed to grow in His love and light. Where do you meet God? Where is the place that you are most able to hear Him? Do you need to go camping and get some dirty feet?

Exploring a mountain trail. August 2018.

When is parenting the hardest?

I put a Facebook post up on my personal profile this morning.  It resonated with other parents, as parenting struggles tend to do.  So I’m going to elaborate on my post here, and we are going to clearly ignore the fact that I have not written on my blog in 2 1/2 years.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, parenting babies and toddlers is the toughest thing I’ve ever done.  Just to give myself a little creditability in this area, I have four children, they are currently 6, 9, 15 and 18, so I’ve undeniably done the baby/toddler thing a few times.  Two of those four had significant developmental delays including autism, so to say life was hard sometimes is a minor understatement.  We are talking about the kind of hard where you are hiding behind a sofa in the corner of your living room (hiding from a two year old, mind you) and whispering on the phone to your husband, with your serious voice, “Come home now or I’m walking out that front door and I don’t think I’ll ever return.”  True story.  Those years after our last two were born were tough.  Obviously, I’m still here, I didn’t walk out that day, nor would I ever, because being a mom has always been my biggest dream and baby, I’m living the dream!

I’m a mom in my 40s now and I’ve told many up and coming parents, those that are just entering the ride, to hang on tight, because the baby and toddler years are the hardest years.   You are physically exhausted, this is a level of sleep deprivation that you never knew existed.  Your brain turns to mush and you answer questions 45 minutes after they are asked and think you gave an immediate response.   You walk around in a zombie-like trance and wonder why you are standing in the closet with the orange juice in your hand.  You gave up changing your shirt three shirts ago and are just at peace with the spit up on your shoulder.  You’ve decided that the smashed banana in your hair is better than vomit, so you’ll just leave it. And we haven’t even discussed your inability to shower, brush your teeth or pee!  It’s rough.

BUT, I’m going to have to take it back.  I was terribly wrong, the baby and toddler years aren’t the hardest years.  It’s the teenage years.   And not for the reasons one may think.  I remember being told about how obnoxious teenagers can be, how they don’t communicate, they keep secrets and they grunt responses.  But it’s not hard because your kids become rebellious, snarky, ego-centric versions of themselves once they hit 13.  Honestly, that doesn’t happen to a severity that people tell you it does.  Teenagers are rad!  They can have intelligent conversations with you, they are fun and funny, they have unique perspectives, they are courageous and do amazing things.  The reason it’s so stinking hard is because they’ve reached an age where it is no longer an option to tether them to your hip, this is seriously frowned upon.  You can’t hold them in a rocking chair for two hours, you can’t love on them with hugs and kisses all day long.   The biggest kick in the gut though, is that you can’t protect them like you once could.  They just walk out there into a messy, scary world, and they take your heart with them, and you don’t know how to keep them safe and keep the bad stuff away.  They are literally out there on their own, with their oh-so-few years of wisdom and a whole lot of hopes.  So what do you do?  Personally, I hit my knees and I pray, I pray like I’ve never prayed before.   I also say, “Make good choices.  I love you.”, each time time they walk out the door, but if I’m being honest, that’s more for me than it is for them.

And when they get hurt, because let me warn you, they will get hurt in ways you never imagined, you shatter into a million pieces.  Other kids will say stuff to them that will feel like it’s breaking them, they will have their hearts set on a specific goal and it won’t be achieved, they will fall in love and that other person won’t feel the same way about them, they will face physical pains, they will likely face an existential crisis and you don’t even know how to guide them because you’re scrambling to even understand how they ended up here.  So while you are busy shattering into a million pieces on the inside, you will find a way to remain stoic and you will look like you know what to do and that you are in control.   And when your bedroom door shuts at night you will fall into a heap of tears and heartache and beg God to show you how to help them.  Sometimes the strength it takes to help your kids will feel like the most impossible task you’ve ever faced.  You will yearn for peace and understanding, wisdom and knowledge, patience and clarity.  Their hurts are the kind we wished they’d never face.  Remember (or maybe you are still there) holding that wee babe and looking at their sweet, sleeping face and thinking, “Nothing in this world is going to get through me, I am fierce and I will keep all harm away.”  Now they stand before you, at 15, 17 or 19, and begin to tell you what they are facing and you feel the blood drain from your body and you can’t stop that feeling of failure, because you didn’t do it.  You didn’t protect them from the big, mean world.  And you look at them and all you can remember is what their soft, baby skin felt and smelled like when they were 2 months old and you become enraged that anything in this world would come against them, all the while battling your guilt (and we all know that doesn’t help anyone).

Yes, I was definitely wrong when I thought those baby and toddler years were the toughest.   I miss the cuddles, I miss the goopy hands that were always grabbing for me, I miss when the biggest ouchies were a scratched knee and a sibling taking a toy. Now the ouchies are matters that are much more complex and much harder to resolve and I’d do anything to have those teenagers at my side daily, so I can guard them.  And trust me, they go from 2 to 15 at the speed of light.   My advice to parents is to love on them, at any age, love, love and love some more.  Listen more than you lecture, understand more than you judge, hug more than you discipline and always forgive.  Why?  Because they mimic us, they watch us and I need their forgiveness as much as they need mine.  And parents, we are in this together, lean on those people around you that have already walked down this path you are on, they know where the curves are.

My two oldest. On the left my son was 5 and my daughter was 2. On the right, they are now 15 and 18.

The Single Most Important Tool to Help You Achieve Financial Greatness

Before I tell you about the “tool” that will help you, I want to share how we recently lost our way in the financial forest.  I wish I could claim ignorance as the reason for being lost, but I graduated from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University about 15 years ago, so I definitely know how to stay on track.  What happened for us was summer arrived, we were lulled into complacency by it’s warm sunshine and schedule free days. One day after the oldest two were out of school we hit the road (literally), driving nearly 6000 miles on our road trip to visit family in Indiana.  We went on vacation and so did our budgeting.  Then my husband took me on a marvelous trip to Maui at the beginning of September as a delayed celebration of my 40th birthday. IMG_3590  And let me tell you, Maui was exquisite, stunning scenery, delectable foods, amazing adventures and we came home with empty wallets and an empty “emergency” fund, because, obviously, having fun in Maui was a dire emergency.   We were home about one week before the inevitable money fight between husband and wife began.  Because let’s face it, money fights do not exist when there is abundant money being used wisely, they happen when money is exiting the building like it’s on fire.

Fortunately, my husband and I are seasoned money fight people and quickly knew that a sit down, let’s reign it all in and make a plan meeting was in order.  Our meeting was Sunday afternoon, we gingerly navigated through the “where did you spend that extra money” and “why didn’t we pay that off” questions.  But relief came once our budgeted spending amounts were decided upon jointly and we were once again telling our money where to go instead of chasing after it.   So is that the most important tool? The budget? Well, yes, technically…….but my favorite aspect of budgeting is cash envelopes.  These things are a piece of art.  They make the budget work, without them the budget is nothing more than scrap paper.  Because when you look and see that you spent $2,125.29 on groceries in August you begin to feel the air around you get thin, your fingers start to tingle and your heart beats a pace you’ve never known, not even after Shaun T kicks your butt in an Insanity workout.  How?  How did we eat over two thousand dollars of food?  Food rations for the children starts to cross your mind.  We feel the need to raise chickens and have a cow in our suburban back yard.  But honestly, we already knew that we can feed our family of six on $300 per week, but we were winging it all summer, buying what we wanted, when we wanted it without a care in the world, nor a plan.  This is where the most important tool, in my humble opinion, comes into play. Put that $300 in an envelope and that’s all you have for groceries for the week, so guess how wisely you start to shop?  Yep, you are instantly grounded and paying attention to those weekly grocery ads you usually delete out of your email.  You suddenly say no to the Costco cheesecake and dark chocolate covered blueberries.

The budget is first, it is king, it is the kind, yet firm ruler of the coinage.  However, those blessed envelopes make all the difference and are my sense of peace when lost in the financial forest.  I can rest in the fact that we will find the path out if we are faithful in using cash.  In wrapping this up, here are my words of wisdom, first if you haven’t had the immense pleasure of discovering Dave Ramsey, do it… it now.  Second, put those budgeted cash categories into envelopes, it’s an amazing feeling to know you are following your plan to financial freedom.  Third, my gift to you is a lovely cash envelope template.  I used to pay a pretty penny for pre-made envelopes, which seemed counterintuitive, and the plain mailing envelopes were too simple for me, I needed the register.    I made this template, Cash Envelopes, so I could print my own envelopes any time I wanted very inexpensively and use cute paper, because after all, we have four girly girls in this house, we have cute paper everywhere.  Enjoy it, use it, share it.  And I wish you abundance in your financial journey.


Click here for template:  Cash Envelopes