"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling."

This is a blog about widows,
mothers and daughters,
facing change and challenges
and receiving ordinary, everyday blessings that don't seem quite so ordinary anymore.
It chronicles the journey from grief into the restoration of what has been lost.

*** I am no longer actively posting to this site, so please come visit me at my new site ***

http://www.jrrmblog.com/ - "Starting Over ... Again"

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What to say at a funeral ...

Or rather, what NOT to say at a funeral.  Maybe no one else will find this funny ... but I do.  People say some lame things to you at funerals.  Thankfully, nothing as lame as this was ever said to me!  :)

From "The IT Crowd" - a British sitcom

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Financial Tip #3 - Make an Emergency Fund

This is one of the best pieces of advice I got - set some money aside as an emergency fund for ... well, emergencies.

It isn't hard to do.  OK, in theory it's not hard to do.  But let's be realistic ... this can be a tough one.

Here are a few guidelines to get you started:

  • Set a target for the amount you want to have in your emergency fund.  I like to have $1,000 set aside - that way I know I am covered when the washer gives out/the roof starts to leak/the lawnmower needs to be fixed/the car needs new tires/etc.  And you know those things don't just happen one at a time, right?!  We all know appliances gang up on you, and tend to quit in multiples.  Having enough to feel comfortable with whatever the near future may hold goes a long way in making you feel a little more secure.
  • Reserve this fund for emergencies.  No, those darling shoes you saw on sale DO NOT count as an emergency!  Keep this fund "hands off" until you really need it.  If you're always dipping into it, soon it will be gone - and that kinda defeats the purpose of an emergency fund, don't ya think?!
  • Yes, this comes straight from "Mr. Financial Peace" himself, Dave Ramsey.  This is one of his "baby steps" in taking control of your finances, instead of your finances controlling you.  And the whole idea of putting together an emergency fund is predicated on the assumption that you are not using your credit cards, or limited their use dramatically.  Don't use credit cards as your emergency fund!  This will only lead you further into debt - it's just too easy to use those blasted things.  And suddenly EVERYTHING looks like an emergency (see above.)
  • Maybe you don't have your entire desired amount for your emergency fund at the moment.  Start saving it up -put a bit away each month into a savings account, money market, etc.  Somewhere that it's drawing interest (however little it may be) and that you can get at it quickly ... in case of an emergency!  Keep socking that money away until you reach your goal.
Then smile at the future!

"She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come."

Proverbs 31:25 (NIV)

What is your favorite financial tip?  Share it with us!  :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Financial Tips #2 - Online Banking

(Yes, this is me ... kicked back and doing my banking online.  Nope, just kidding!)

Dealing with all the changes and challenges of running a household myself, and having to re-arranging a budget to reflect a single income is stressful to say the least.  This coupled with the emotional upheaval of the past two years - stress magnified by 100.  That's why I want to share a few simple ideas that helped me in reorganizing our finances.

One of the most helpful things I have done when it comes to finances has to be paying bills online through my bank.  This has simplified things so much for me!  No more forgotten payments, no more late charges because I forgot to mail the check or couldn't find a stamp at the last minute.  Or because a bill went missing on my messy desk.

There are two categories I have set up with which to pay bills:  automatic payments and e-bills.
First  we'll talk about e-bills.

In the online banking section of my bank's website I have the option to signing up for certain monthly bills to be sent as e-bills; these are usually ones like my phone bill or credit card bills, and instead of getting a paper bill in the mail I get an e-bill notification in my email inbox. 

If you are banking online, look and see which bills are offered as e-bills and then sign up for them.  Your bill is sent electronically to your online bill pay section.  When you have a new bill your bank will send you an email to let you know an e-bill has arrived.  You can see and access your bill there, and set up the date and amount of the payment with just a few clicks.

I have set up automatic payments for such things as my monthly tithe to my church.  These are payments that are the same each month, like mortgage or car payments, or for credit card payments that are not offered as e-bills.  I love using this because I can set up a payment for a certain amount at a specific date each month, and then not worry about missing a payment or sending it late.

One word of caution - you still need to monitor your account!  I usually log in and check my account every other day or so, just to make sure that everything is the way it should be.  :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Finances #1 - Tithing And Giving As A Widow

Did this strike a chord with anyone? 

Tithing may be a sore subject with some people.  Others may embrace this philosophy wholeheartedly.  Either way, I want to write about what I believe ... and I believe this is an important part of your financial planning.

I have seen first-hand how important this piece of my financial puzzle has become.  It may not seem logical if you are in dire money straits to be giving away what you feel that you need to survive.  Why would God ask us to give to others when we are worrying daily how we will survive and take care of our family?  We are worrying about paying our bills, and the pastor just preached another sermon on the importance of giving.  No joke ... mine did, just last week.  That's what got me started on this post.  And trust me on  this ... it makes "cents."  Pun intended.  :)

Whether you use your Bible to justify it, or you simply feel like "you get back what you give" ... it is important that you are giving, even when you feel as if your budget is telling you that you can't afford to give.  I am not saying that you should just hand over all your money to a church or organization.  I am saying that you sit down, and determine what you are able to give - what you truly feel "led" to share - and then set that plan in motion.

Here's why I feel strongly about this:

  1. There are always people who are worse off than you.  If you have a home, sigh in relief and be grateful.  If you can put food on the table, smile and rejoice.  If you are wearing shoes right now, wiggle those toes and be happy.  God has provided your needs.  There are many who don't have the things with which you have been blessed.  This is not to make you feel guilty, it's to get you to realize that we often focus on our own wants (notice I didn't say needs) and we end up feeling sorry for ourselves.  Pity party in progress!
  2. God has provided everything we have.  We may think that we have worked oh so hard, and have met our own needs ... but just who gave you the skills you use to earn your paycheck?  Who gave you the breaks or opened the doors for you to prosper?  As Christians, we know that we are dependent upon God for our protection, our survival and our prosperity. 
Malachi 3:10 says, " Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it."

2 Corinthians 9:7 says,"[So let] each one [give] as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver."

 Luke 6:38 says "give and it will be given to you, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over it will pour into your lap, for by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you in return."
There are folks that say you must give 10%, others that say you must be "Spirit-led" and give what the Holy Spirit tells you to give.  I believe there is a difference between tithing and giving.  Tithing is a spiritual discipline where you set aside 10% of your income to give to God's work - essentially giving it back to God.  Giving, for me, falls under the heading of "Spirit-led" and is over and above the monthly tithing.  It's for those times of extra abundance, and when there is a special need presented that I can fill.

However you choose to define it, and whether you choose tithing or giving or both ... the important idea is to share with others what you have been given, and to give back to God some of what He has blessed you with.

You might wonder how you could ever give away what you need yourself.  I can tell you from personal experience that God does indeed "fill in the gaps."  Just like the story from 2 Kings 4:1-7:

1 One day the widow of one of Elisha's fellow prophets came to Elisha and cried out to him, "My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the LORD. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves." 2 "What can I do to help you?" Elisha asked. "Tell me, what do you have in the house?""Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil," she replied. 3 And Elisha said, "Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. 4 Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting the jars aside as they are filled." 5 So she did as she was told. Her sons brought many jars to her, and she filled one after another. 6 Soon every container was full to the brim!"Bring me another jar," she said to one of her sons."There aren't any more!" he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. 7 When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, "Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and there will be enough money left over to support you and your sons."

As a widow, I need to live in expectation that God will act on my behalf - according to my faith.  God will supply my needs, according to my trust in Him.  My trust in His goodness and acts of faith, such as tithing/giving, will bring more abundance into my life.

Whether you are in a season of plenty or a season of want...the expectation is that you trust God. That you start with what you have, be willing to do whatever it takes, act believing God will show up and honor God with the results.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Financial Tips from a Widow's Point of View

I am getting inspired to write a few upcoming posts about financial matters.  Specifically, things that I have learned or that have helped me in getting through the minefield of juggling finances as a single woman again; having to adjust to not only a single income but added pressure in the form of medical bills, credit card debt, etc.

I hope that these tips will be helpful.  One of my goals in writing this blog is to share what I have learned, in hopes of helping someone else.  Or maybe starting a dialogue and learning something new myself!  :)

So stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Saying Goodbye with Hospice

We learned a few things about saying goodbye during our short experience with hospice.  The main thing I learned was that no matter how much time you have, it's never as long as you think.  You never believe how quickly the time slips away, even though you have been told how rapidly it will be gone.

Take that time to connect with your loved one where they are emotionally.  If they want to talk about memories, then talk about that.  If they want to have a heart to heart chat about their mortality, don't shy away from that topic.  Be honest and direct.  Tell them what is in your heart, and how they have impacted your life.  Tell them they won't be forgotten, and they mattered to you.  Most of all, let them guide the conversation.  Respond to what they have to share with you.

Robby and I never really got to have these talks.  Because of the tumor he really couldn't talk much from the time it was diagnosed, and it only got worse.  The hardest part was not hearing him say "I love you."  He was one of those guys that would tell me he loved me half a dozen times per day.  He would call to check in with me during the day, and he (we) never hung up the phone or walked out the door without saying we loved each other.  Not hearing that for such a long time, and at some point realizing I would never hear his voice again, was heartbreaking.

As their life draws to a close, people tend to withdraw.  They "close in" and sports, politics or what's on TV in the next room doesn't matter.  All that matters is the immediate, the physical.  I'm hot. I'm cold. I love you.  Do you love me?  Be present with them, and listen.  Be quiet and respond.  Hold their hand and let them know you are there.  That is the best gift you can give them as they die.  To be a witness to their life and their death.  And to make sure they are not forgotten.