farming, marriage, writing

The Budget and The Schedule

If you were to take a wild guess, what do you think the budget & the schedule have in common?

Stress? Maybe…not the answer I was looking for though.

I think the budget & the schedule, if considered together, will clearly reveal our priorities. Where we spend our time and our money shows who or what we value. I’ve been considering this in my own life as I talk about wanting to be a writer, wanting success in business, being a wife, a mother, a friend, a follower of Christ, a horse lover, running a little farm, being a homeschooler, and more.

I looked at my last two weeks of spending – when I had extra cash, when I had extra on the debit card, where was I spending my money? My last two weeks of spending look like farm goodies, farm goodies, farm goodies, and bowling. And a few more farm goodies. Animal feed (so much animal feed). I don’t buy the kids a lot of stuff/toys, and since we’ve moved to the new house, we aren’t eating out very often. School is on the spending list, and I have to watch it, I love books/curriculum and will buy stuff that we will barely (read: never) use.

I looked at my schedule during the same two weeks – what was I filling up the majority of my time with, and what was I using the small chunks of time for? Well, the majority of my time was split between work, farm projects and schooling the two littles. I spend time doing chores and milking Shimmy twice a day. I have been working hard to make sure I am cooking dinners these days instead of grabbing take out all of the time. (Easier to do when take out is so many miles away.) What really got my attention was my small chunks of time – 5 or 10 minutes, here or there. Those windows of time were wasted, gone forever, sucked away by social media – and the worst part is, I’d get my 5 or 10 minute fix, and often find the wind knocked out of my sails. Sometimes, it was because people can be offensive and blasting offense on FB is the norm. Sometimes, it was the ugly voice of comparison that would say “look at what that mom is doing with/for her kids” “look at what that family did together” “look at what that wife and husband did together/for each other” “look at” “look at” “look at” – and my head would spin, and I could go from best day ever status, and crash into “nothing is quite good enough” misery. Often, my 5-10 minute break would turn into 45 minutes – seriously altering how much I could accomplish in a given day.

With the budget, the glaring thing that I realized I was missing was anything that said, “First, I serve God,” in fact, there was no trace of serving God in how my money was spent. None. I about choked on that reality, because it hasn’t always been the case. And I prayed, and I prayed. And I came to the realization, I’d rather die penniless & serve God with everything I have – money, time, talent – and not just lip service, than to live in filthy riches, ignoring Him or His commands for my life. (Not that we live in filthy riches, by the way.)

Together, the budget and the schedule pointed out a few things I can do better for the kids – but I am honestly okay not giving them everything in the world. I want them to work for things, too. I want them to feel accomplished when they’ve worked hard and earned something, and I don’t believe spoiling them does that. I did notice that while my husband and I are together many hours of every day, we don’t do anything intentional for us or our relationship. No date night. No put the kids to bed early and talk night. No devotional together. Things are easy between us right now, but they haven’t always been. I know spending intentional time together helps us stay on the same page. I’d like to see us weather the good, the bad, and the ugly together, with God. My time does reveal at least some service to God – I believe He calls us to home school, and that He called us into the business we are in, to be a light in our community and serve others.

I can’t say my priorities are one thing, and then spend my time and money somewhere else. Or say something is important, only to brush is off to catch the next episode of:______________. I don’t want to offer lip service to my God, who has carried me through more than I can put to words.

I’m going to make small shifts, and I’m going to put my money where my mouth is (well, not literally), and spend my time on what matters. I know it will take focus, and changing small bad habits into good ones. I started with removing social media from my phone to break that time-waster. I’m getting up early to write. I made a shift in the budget. I’m going to talk to Mr. Wonderful about a devotional or bible reading plan on YouVersion. But it’s going to be the long haul that shows the fruit of these changes – not just the first few hours/days.


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Slow Down Dear

Not words I want to hear. In fact, these very words make me feel a little irritated (okay, maybe hostile). I chase things hard, and fast.

I am always trying to learn new things. I always want to take classes and go to school. I’m writing tonight as a form of therapy. It’s time I address these feelings. Not having a formal education and being certified makes me feel less than. I was supposed to do something GREAT with my life (academically speaking). But it didn’t happen that way. And I can find a hundred reasons to discount the medical coding schooling I took, on top of a hundred GREAT education opportunities I should pursue.

Earlier this year, it was counseling, at one point it was nursing, graphic design, another language, and a few other things along the way.

Lately, certified herbalist has been in my cross hairs. I found an online course, for a reasonable price. I zoned in (well, how zoned in can I be on 100 projects?) I kept sending it to Pa W. He never said a word, so I called him about it today.

“Is it just a crazy idea to want to be a certified herbalist?”

He let me know he doesn’t get it, it doesn’t interest him, but to do what I need to do. I have his support. But then, the words…

“But you’re doing too much again, slow down. I don’t think you need to be a certified herbalist to make the products you want to make and sell stuff from your farm.”

I felt a growl in my throat, and I had to hold back my thumb from hanging up on him. Don’t tell me to slow down! I’m not doing too much! Why are you standing in the way of the greatest dream of my life?

That thought stopped me in my rage, as I recognized it – I’ve thought that same thing about every schooling thing I thought I should enroll in. Each one was the greatest dream of my life – at the time. A few months after not spending my money on it/enrolling in it/chasing it, I’ve nearly forgotten it. That, my friends, is not the greatest dream of my life, or anyone else’s. Great dreams are not easily forgotten. They keep us awake at night, they churn over and over in our heads and our hearts until we step away from the fears and begin pursuing the dreams. Then, they drive us to grind and hustle and do whatever it takes to make them come true.

These are whims, whims that a long time ago, I learned should drive plot points in novels I should be writing, because the stories in my head are what keep me awake at night. They are what churn around over and over again in my mind, begging to break free, to be told.

But fear stands there, telling me how the stories don’t measure up, how they aren’t quite good enough. Fear shakes its ugly finger and tells me I don’t have what it takes. And I listen. I squash the stories before they are able to bloom. I push them away, out of my mind. I find a million other things to chase.

So, one of my goals as I grow this farm, and the little farm business that is so important to me (and has been for a very long time), is to write. I’m going to blog our journey. I’m going to write and share my thoughts, and how things are going. And I’m going to make a little window of time for the stories. It’s time I tell them.

What great dream do you have, and how have you let fear stand in your way?