Living intentionally

Nueva Cocina winner:  commenter #6 -TEN

Desserts in Jars winner:  commenter #23- Lori H.


When Dave Ramsey is counseling folks laden with debt, he often encourages them to ‘kill something and drag it back to the cave.’  Translation: get a second job, sell some stuff on Craigslist– do whatever you need to do to get some more money coming in so that you can pay off your debt. He’s found that taking decisive action to improve a situation injects fresh energy into your life.

I’ve seen that energy first hand lately. We’ve never been hugely in debt. The last time we had a car payment was in 1999. We did have $60,000 in adoption expenses in 9 years, and carried debt off and on for several years related to that. (Because of Dave, we’d fund our adoptions differently today, but those 6 kids are more than worth it.)  And with 10 kids there are always medical bills. But overall we live carefully and even put a bit of money into retirement every month.

What we’ve lacked for years, though, is any emergency fund other than a credit card.  Recently we’ve put together a better plan, one that allows for a savings cushion as well as a house pay-off within 5 years, maybe sooner if all goes well.  That plan has been absolutely galvanizing for my husband. He’s always been an incredibly hard worker.  But these days he’s going off to work much more cheerfully. He’s taking extra hours whenever he can. He’s doing the Dave thing, killing stuff and dragging it home with vigor, because now he’s actually making a bit of headway.  And seeing how hard he is working makes me even more careful with what I spend. It is a good thing.

The energy shift in our home regarding finances has reminded me of the power of living intentionally in other areas. A couple years ago I decided I wanted to be more fit. I saw a vision of myself in the future as an energetic grandma, not one who could barely pry herself off the floor after playing with the kids.

I started exercising and eating better, and I gradually gained enough mental and physical energy to make other good choices too. (And believe me, the mental is every bit as important as the physical.)  In parking lots, I didn’t try to get the closest space any more. When walking with my husband, I didn’t beg him to slow down any more. I got better at skipping seconds. And glory be– I lost weight! The more good choices I made, the easier it was to make even more good choices, because I could see good things happening in my life.

It applies to parenting too. On the days that I just long for peace and quiet, it seems like everyone needs everything from me. On the days that I deliberately seek moments with kids, hand out hugs, smile into people’s eyes, give compliments, and forgive offenses, everyone else does better too, which means a lot more positive energy goes floating around the house, breeding even more good moments.

I don’t get it right all the time. But every day that my husband chugs off to cheerfully work overtime, future goal firmly in mind, he reminds and inspires me to do the same thing in my sphere. To be diligent, to be wise, to be frugal, to energetically put forth the kind of effort that transforms a life from ‘just scraping by’ to intentionally moving toward a bigger, bolder vision.

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  1. You are such an inspiration!! God bless you and your hubby.

  2. It is always wonderful to have a faithful husband to be equally yoked with. You are able to get much more done and with much more energy too. I am a better wife when I remind myself of how hard he works to take care of us and try to do the same for him.

  3. This post was a huge blessing to me. Our family is in the process of adopting and we ar looking at ways to change our spending to have an adoption without debt. Thank you for the time tat you take to write this blog it is a blessing to so many of us.

  4. As an older mom it’s easier to see now the blessings that intentionality creates. I always try to encourage young moms to be diligent and believe there is a purpose that no one else can fulfill in their children’s lives. My youngest is 13 and the years have flown by. But I’m excited about this new state of life with grandkids in a few years and opportunities for me to spread my wings and try new things. You are indeed a blessing and an encouragement.

  5. Mary! You always speak to me woman! I read that chapter of Dave Ramsey this morning, and I got back from day one of “boot camp” at our local YWCA a few hours ago. I have two tiny people in the house now, but the image of the energetic grandma will keep me going tomorrow, on day two of boot camp…as I surely will not be able to move when I wake up in the morning! Love your blog, please keep it up. (Especially love the posts on bed sharing and extending breastfeeding – those hit at perfect times in my life as well)

  6. Beautifully put. Thanks for the inspiration.

  7. Mmmmmm…. Good thoughts to Ponder!

  8. Fabulous post and excellent food for thought! Thank you so much!

  9. And to add to your skipping seconds—moms DO NOT eat what is left from your kids’ plates ever. Can’t tell you how many times will have company over and when little Johnny doesn’t finish his plate his mom will always say, give it to me instead of throwing away. Throw it away or give the kids less.

    Your post made me think that it usually takes a major catastrophe in a person’s life before they make a lifestyle change.

  10. Very timely article for me! I won the Desserts in Jar book (woo hoo!!!) but am not sure how to claim the prize. My email addy is camcamp @ comcast dot net (remove spaces). Thanks!

  11. Katherine says:

    Such good advice, thank you. I have recently started running, I never thought I would but I want to lose some weight and have more energy for all my kids. Now that I will be turning forty this summer, I just felt it was something I needed to do, to lose the twenty pounds and feel good instead of so drained. I used to walk every morning and use it as my prayer time, now I added some running and although the only thing I pray during that time is that I will not die it has really amazed me the payoff for the suffering! I am losing weight and toning up way quicker than I thought. I cannot say I enjoy it, actually I just keep thinking how it will help me feel good later, no runner’s high happening here yet! LOL Still, it has been a great thing to do intentionally with a goal in mind and now that the results are showing up it is not quite as hard to force myself further.

  12. Thank you very much for publicly praising your husband. In this society full of sense of entitlement, victimhood and criticism it is very refreshing.
    Everyone has a choice to focus on what there is or on what there isn’t. I’m glad your the “half-full” type! Please keep modeling the good behavior!

  13. Couldn’t do it without you! Love you!

  14. jennifer says:

    Oh love this post- Thanks!