Organinzing paperwork and files for taxes

Since I am self-employed, I have to keep really good records for my tax return each year. I also organize our personal paperwork throughout the year in various file categories. This makes sorting through and matching up receipts a breeze when it is time to do our tax return. I also use an Excel spreadsheets for several things. I do my business checkbook through Quicken, and I am moving our personal checkbook to Quicken this year. In January, I start going through the files to make sure that I have a receipt for each of my business expenses. I have been doing our tax return since we got married, and I have learned which forms I need to have in hand by the end of January/first of February. I try to get our return filed as early as possible, since we usually get a refund. (Thanks to having 6 children.)

Last year we were audited by the state of NC for the number of dependents we had. I was required to send in a copy of all of our children’s birth certificates. We had the same number of dependents the year before, and all 6 of our children were born in NC. And I supplied Social Security numbers on the federal return. And yet the state still had to have documentation. I was not a happy camper, but I complied. If I did not provide the documentation, they would have retained our refund. Nice, huh?

So keep good records for your annual tax return. Keep important papers in a safe location. And finally try not to stress too much when you start compiling all of your information.

A Healthier Lifestyle

In my journey this past year, I decided that I needed to make some lifestyle changes. I like to be proactive about my health, but as a mom, it is so easy to put everyone else’s needs before my own needs. I am pretty sure this is common for many moms. Since I have a family that is larger than most, I work really hard every day raising and training our children. I started out with small lifestyle changes. I switched to drinking water most of the time. I do have a cup of black coffee every morning. And for variety, I sometimes add lemon to my water.

Then, I started working on diet changes. I reduced my fatty foods, and I reduced the number of carbs that I have each day. I usually have a carb for my breakfast. And I eat veggies that have carbs, such as a baked potato. I don’t eat a lot of bead. I am eating foods that are high in protein. And I strive for a good mix of fruits and veggies each day. The variety changes with the seasons. I also try to watch my sodium intake.

I do not eat a lot of red meats. But if I do, it is from a grain-fed, hormone-free cow. We buy half a cow at a time. This helps stretch our budget, and you just cannot beat this meat for leaness. I do eat quite a bit of chicken. I am not a fish eater.

Finally, I added daily exercise to my lifestyle changes. I can say that I am healthier and more fit than I was in my 30’s, maybe even my 20’s. I look forward to my daily exercise. And I have even done a bit of running.

All things in moderation is the key for me. And I want to be strong physically and spiritually. I’ll talk about my spiritual walk in another post.

Part 2 on facing fears

This fall, I also faced another really big fear — college algebra. I am taking online classes in order to get my bachelor’s degree. Each class is a semester’s worth of work that I complete in 5 weeks. That is a very fast pace. This fall, I was scheduled for algebra 1 and algebra 2. I was very nervous about it. I am good at business math, consumer math, accounting, etc. Algebra was not my strong suit in high school. But I have been teaching my children at home for a while now, and I have taught algebra to my high schoolers. I worked very hard in algenra 1. Some weeks I spent 24 hours on school work. At the end of the five weeks, I had an “A” average. WHEW! So I started algebra 2 feeling pretty good about myself. Well, week 1 started, and I worked my tail off to get the work completed that week. And I had trouble with a few concepts. In researching a topic for a discussion question, I found that some of the concepts were for calculus. YIKES! I finally made it through week 1. Then, I came to week 2. It was as difficult as week 1, and at one point, I was wondering if I would make it out of algebra 2. But I mastered week 2’s concepts and passed the weekly quiz. In week 3, I spent a lot of time working on the concepts, but I was catching on faster. So I felt like I was on the downhill swing of things. Made it through week 3’s concepts and quiz. And my average was stil an “A.” In week 4, I knew that I had a 2-week Christmas break coming up. I did not want to lose any skills over Christmas, and I did not want to practice over the Holiday. So I decided to do two week’s worth of work in one week. Yep, I was going to master week 4’s concepts, pass the quiz, and take my final exam in one week. God sent a snowstorm, and I was able to spend a lot of time online doing math. I met my goal, and I passed week 4 and my final. My average was still an “A.” Had my two-week break, and this week I jumped back into week 5. It has been very low-key. I have had few requirements to meet this week, and it has been nice. I am enjoying it, since I start statistics next Tuesday.

I met my algebra fear head-on, and I mastered it. Thank you, Lord, for Your enabling!

Finding my joy…..

After losing dear family members, I lost a lot of my joy. I am normally a “half glass full” kind of person. But I was pretty low last summer. I was also very sick with poison ivy. One night I could not fall asleep sue to the steroids I was taking. So I lay in bed and prayed all night long. And God just moved in that night and brought so much healing to my hurting heart. I felt like I was a new person the next day. Of course, I have hard days every now and then, but for the most part, I have found my joy again. My joy rests in the Lord and my relationship with Him.

Facing Fears

The past year was a journey for me in so many ways. There were places where I grew. And there were places where I faced fears. The biggest fear that I faced was in singing a solo in the church Christmas play. When we started practices back in the fall, I stepped away from the director position. I felt the Lord leading me to do something else, and I felt that He wanted to use someone else as the director. So I was happy to just be a part of the choir.

At the first practice, we handed out parts. And my husband got the part of the dad. So naturally, I got the part of the mom. Two of our children played the parts of our children. During the first run-through, it was suggested that someone sing the song, “Mary, Did You Know?” As I was sitting there, God spoke to me and told me that I was going to sing that solo. I gently reminded Him that *I* don’t sing solos. And He kept after me, and I finally obeyed and said yes.

So I told a few people that God told me to sing the solo. It was met with surprise. So I started practicing with the guitarists at church. And then I practiced in front of the choir at play practice. In our church, most of the membership is the choir. My first attempt was met with surprise and clapping. I told them that part of my grief therapy over the past year has been music. I have been singing along with my iPod a lot. Mostly I sang in my home office while working. God was working in me.

So with many more practices, I grew nervous each time in anticipation of the actual play performance. The week-end of our play, we had a big snow. So big for us that there is still snow in places in January. So our play was post-poned for a week. And I had a whole week more to anticipate the play.

The night of the play arrived, and I did pretty good at the beginning of the play. I  got my speaking parts right. Then I sang my solo. And as soon as I sat down, I forgot everything in my brain. There was NOTHING there. And we get to a big part in the play where I have a conversation with my son, and I can’t remember my part. My husband tried to show me where we were in his copy of the script, but I could not figure out where we were. So he saved the day and jumped back in with his part.

My daughter taped the performance, and it will not show up on You Tube. But it is very funny for me to watch it. I laughed as I watched myself get flustered. And I didn’t do too bad with my solo either. But I learned to not have a speaking part after God calls me to sing a solo. I have proven that my feet are definitely made of clay, and I am not perfect. I will never be perfect until I get to heaven.

Still chuckling…….

Time of Reflection

The new year lends itself to reflection. And as I have been learning to go about our normal life and routine, I realized that I am doing that with parts of my heart missing. Those who have gone on before me are in a better place, but I still miss them. And that has brought about a “new normal” for me. Each day I concentrate on what is important for that day. In the past year, my children have needed me to meet more emotional needs as they are coping with the same losses than I am coping with. I love how God moves in and brings healing. And I love the precious memories that I have of my loved ones.

Great week following a hard week

Hello,

This has been a great week for our family. Two of our boys were baptized on Sunday. Last week was a hard week for us. We lost two family members from two different sides of the family. One of them was our piano teacher, too. We also had an elderly family member who fell and broke his hip. We are thankful for our health this week, and we are thankful for the two who were baptized on Sunday.