Mom’s Money Tip: Importance of a Budget

Make. A. Budget.

Whether you are a one income or two income family, making a budget can help you get a handle on your financial situation. A couple of verses quickly highlight the importance of managing our finances well.

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce;

Proverbs 3:9

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’

Luke 14: 28-30

Once the big bills and expenses are taken care of and you have the rest to live on for the remainder of the month (or pay whatever pay period), it’s tempting to just dump it altogether without really paying attention to it. But if you are the household manager/grocery shopper/extracurricular fees payer/etc. . . . then you may benefit from a next level budget to take these not so surprising elements into account.

Modeling good money habits and discipline to our kids is important. We have not always done the best job in this area. So I understand if you struggle in the area of budgeting as well.

We went for years without a real budget. You may think you don’t have enough income to make a budget. But if you are living paycheck to paycheck, getting a handle on your money is a key to moving past that stress and begin to get a clear picture of where you are and where you are headed financially.

If you’re budgeting consists of only two categories: (1) Bills, (2) Everything else, then you may need to get a little more detailed.

There are lots of how to resources on creating a budget, but I suggest keeping it simple (and do-able).

Husband not on board? That’s okay! You don’t have to wait around. Just take whatever money you earn or are allocated and break it down into the categories of what you need to spend it on, typically for the month. (Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman are two – – there are others – – who give pretty detailed advice and tips for setting a budget up). There are apps and video tutorials on YouTube. The thing is, a simple system can evolve easily as you tweek your categories, and figure out what works best for you.

Your budget should leave room for flexibility.

Your budget can help take some of the financial pressure off because you’ve become aware, pre-planned the big and medium spending decisions, and left flex room for the small ones.

Your budget can help you take action toward goals such as setting aside an emergency fund and saving toward larger expenditures.

The time you spend creating and maintaining your budget is time well-spent.

Once you get a more accurate awareness of what’s coming in versus what the spending is, and made any cuts to expenditures you decided on, you might make a decision to enlarge your household income. If that’s the case, after creating a budget you’ll have a clearer understanding of just how big a gap there is to fill between your current income and your desired income and more able to make a decision that will be a good fit.

Setting up a budget helped me see where I could cut back on my spending. But more importantly, it helped me see that I really needed more income to match the level of spending and giving that I wanted to be able to do. Currently, I’m happy to be able to work from home to supplement my family’s income and remain flexible with my schedule doing something that I enjoy.


Hey there,

I’m Dawn and I enjoy helping parents and advocating for orphans!

I founded Yesterday’s Orphan, an outreach to support parents and caregivers, especially moms, of adopted and foster children and also step-children.

If you liked this post and it is helpful to you you might like to join the small but growing Yesterday’s Orphan Facebook group for parents and caregivers. The group is free to join but closed — members only.

Please comment and let me know if you found value in this post and feel free to share.

A Longing Fulfilled

In Proverbs chapter 13 we read: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (verse 12). And in verse 19: “A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul . . .”

My upcoming mission trip to serve orphans and their caretakers in Vladimir, Russia is a longing I have had in my heart for several years. The following is the support letter I have written and I want to share it here with you for any of you who may want to partner with me as I move forward in faith toward the reality of this longing fulfilled and the opportunity to serve these precious people.

Dear family & friends,

I’m delighted to have the opportunity to serve orphans in Vladimir, Russia with a Boaz Project team this coming December.   

Along with the rest of the team, my friend Connie and I plan to bring Christmas gifts to orphanage and foster home children and shower them with God’s love, along with  their caretakers!

I’ve followed Boaz Project for years and this particular mission trip has been on my heart for a long while.  The Boaz Project, Inc. is a non-profit that serves the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of orphans around the world!

It’s so exciting to be actually planning to go after all this time.  One thing that makes this trip special to me is returning to the town where I first met my youngest son, Alexander.   

I remember feeling very at ease and very much “at home” in Vladimir (much different than I had felt in Moscow). Though his orphanage was impoverished, the genuine care and compassion was evident.  Aside from the language Vladimir would fit right in if the whole town was transported home with me and could have been another quaint, sleepy little town in my home state of Alabama!

Let me be frank, I do NOT enjoy air travel!  But I’m willing to grin and bear it. (smile) Though the trip seems distant and off in the future,  I know it will be here lickety split!   

In order to make this trip a reality, in addition to preliminary costs like passport renewal, etc., 

I will need:

$1300 estimated airfare

$860 (first part of in-country cost by 10/4/19)

$859 (estimated second part of in-country cost by 11/1/19)

NEEDED: $3019 

The mission trip is planned for December 7 – 15, 2019

In addition to monetary support, your prayer support for me and the entire mission team plus the children and caretakers we’ll be visiting is much appreciated!!

Here are some suggestions on how you can  pray specifically:  

  • Pray that God will open the hearts of the children;
  • Pray for unity and cooperation among team members;
  • Pray for my heart — that I will be open to whatever he has for me to learn.

And if you feel the Lord leading you to join me in ministry by supporting me financially, please make a check payable to The Boaz Project, Inc.  Please be sure to send the enclosed response card with the check to: [See link for online donations below.]

The Boaz Project, Inc.,

P.O. Box 47188

Indianapolis, IN 46247-0188

You may also donate towards my orphan mission trip online! Visit

I leave you with the following verses: 

“But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.”

Psalm 9:18 


“But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.”

Psalm 10:14

So I invite you to join me in bringing hope and help to the afflicted, the fatherless, the orphan children who need to know that God is for them.

Thank you so much!

Dawn Baggett

I’m sure there’ll be more blog posts regarding the trip, but if you want to keep up more closely with the mission trip in particular and Yesterday’s Orphan in general, you may subscribe to my email list with the button below.

How to Write Your Personal Value Statement & Why

Do you ever doubt yourself? Your value as a parent, spouse, person?

Things like stress overload, overwhelm, mental/physical disability, etc. can make a parent second-guess themselves and wonder if they are really even making a positive difference in the lives of their family members. I know for myself, I have had moments of self-doubt and feelings of failure that overshadowed the positive impact and value I bring to my family and people in my life.

If you ever have similar feelings I have an activity to help you, and an example below.

Begin by asking yourself three questions.

  1. In what ways do I benefit my family?
  2. How does my family show me they
    appreciate me?
  3. In what ways could I be an even more
    beneficial presence in my home?

Answering these questions will give you the content to write out your own value statement to read, re-read, and remind yourself of your real value in the lives of those you love. Win the battlefield of your mind. God’s Word has a lot to say about the need to take steps to manage our minds. I’ve listed a few verses below (and in the workbook):

Colossians 3:2 directs “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

And 1 Peter 1:13 gives us the long-range view – “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Free Workbook

I designed a workbook which you can print and use to create your own Personal Value Statement. It includes these three questions plus some more content and an anonymous example of what a Personal Value Statement can look like. Of course each person’s would be unique to them. You can get the printable workbook with the button below.

Do you feel stuck and hopeless, like you have no purpose in life, or that you are helpless to fulfill it? Satan would love for you to continue in self-despair, but when you focus on the truth and God’s Word, you can break free!

John 8:32 – “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

I’d love to know how you like this post and if the activity and workbook are helpful. Comment and let me know what you think!

Time for an Empathy Self-Audit

Teach Yourself to be More Understanding and Empathetic

“Everyone that hasn’t suffered a brain injury or mental illness is capable of empathy.” – – so I read.

But some of our children DO have brain issues that impact their ability to show empathy. And it seems so easy to spot in them, and even easier to become exasperated at their apparent lack of empathy.

I’m guilty of this.

And so I end up being “the pot calling the kettle black” with my own lack of empathy.

Some of us are in touch with this ability, while others could use a little practice. If you’ve found yourself exasperated over your child’s un-empathetic behaviors, how about taking an empathy self-audit?

What is empathy?

Empathy is the concern for the welfare of others. It’s the ability to detect or predict the emotions and thoughts of others.

It’s easy to see why this would be a handy skill to master. Empathy has an impact on your relationships. This is true for both your personal and professional relationships. Empathy can make your life easier and more fulfilling at home and at work!

It’s an ability that our children need to become competent in. And our modeling empathy to and before them is crucial.

So after your empathy self-audit if you find you need an empathy tune-up, I have some empathy tune-up tips for you.

Empathy Tune-Up Tips

Try these tips to increase your empathy for your child/children and others:

1. Avoid making assumptions.

Your view of the world is limited. Your experiences are just your own. Others have lived a different reality.

If you’re from a well-off and intact family from the United States, you don’t really have a clue what it’s like to deal with the weight of growing up in an orphanage in Ukraine. If you’ve never lost a job, avoid assuming that you know exactly what that experience feels like.

Making assumptions only gets in the way of developing empathy. When you catch yourself making assumptions, question them. Prove your assumptions to be true or false before making any decisions.

2. Ask questions.

One way to understand others is to ask questions. Develop a genuine interest in them. Enhancing your communication skills assists your ability to connect with, and to understand, other people. Ask open ended questions.

3. Listen intently.

I used to think I was a great listener! But I’ve found myself only half-heartedly listening and dividing my attention with my kids. Yikes! What types of messages does that send to them?

I’ve also been trying to help a couple of my children learn to pause and wait for my attention before they start blasting out their message and getting frustrated at me then. If they want understanding they need to learn to wait for my attention. Plus that’s a clue to me to give it.

Listening intently is related to asking questions and avoiding assumptions. We also seek to understand the emotions that the other person is feeling. Asking questions and then listening to the answers is a pivotal part of creating empathy within yourself.

4. Learn about a group of people outside of your experience.

You could learn about people of another religious background or culture. If you’ve never been poor, you might learn about the homeless and how they live day to day. Read books and talk to people. Strive to understand what it would be like to be born a part of a particular group.

5. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

One way to relate better to others is to imagine yourself in the same situation. This can be painful. It’s not enjoyable to imagine that your spouse has died or that you’re completely out of money. Ask yourself, “What would I be thinking and feeling if I were in this situation?” Just asking yourself this question is the biggest step you can take toward being empathetic.

6. Be present. Give your undivided attention to others. You can’t be empathetic if you’re thinking about something else. This goes along with number three above, but extends to family activities, meals, meetings, etc. We are so tempted to multitask and it’s an even bigger temptation these days with our smartphones and other tech at our fingertips constantly.

Related: Be interested.

You’re not as good at hiding your disinterest as you think! You miss most of the information, verbal and non-verbal, communicated to you if you’re not paying attention.

7. Have more meaningful conversations.

Talking about sports is fine, but it’s not a deep and personal topic. One way to get the ball rolling is to talk about something that’s important to you. The more you share, the more you’re going to receive in return. Be open, and others will be more open with you. (Maybe.)

But don’t forget to give the other person a turn. One sided conversations are counterproductive to mutuality and connectedness.

Empathy is an important skill. It can greatly increase the ability to communicate and connect with others. Being able to understand their feelings and thoughts will boost your rapport with them, whether it’s your children, your spouse, or those outside the household. Enhance your relationships with empathy and you’ll benefit in many ways. And you’ll be modeling this important skill to your child or children!

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep”

Romans 12:15

First Things First

When our more basic needs are unmet is can put the brakes on empathy. If you feel unable to access your empathy or otherwise feel like you are missing out on basic needs such as safety I implore you to seek the help YOU need, putting your oxygen mask on first as it were, to address those needs and free up mental and emotional space for empathy.

Find More with Facebook Group

Free closed Facebook Group for Parents & Caretakers of Yesterday’s Orphan community.

If this post is helpful to you you might like to join the small but growing Yesterday’s Orphan Facebook group for parents and caregivers. The group is free to join but closed — members only.

Posts in the group touch on a variety of topics that may affect you if you are caring for a child with a history of early childhood traumatic parental loss and possibly other serious trauma in their background.

Hello, Trello – – So Nice to Meet you!

So Trello, I wonder why no one has ever introduced me to you before (?) Perhaps I was just not paying attention or was otherwise engaged . . . but now at long last I am so happy to have finally found you!

Do you know about Trello?

I just started using this free resource and it looks fantastic! (There are paid options for their Business and Enterprise levels, but with unlimited numbers of board, lists and cards, the free version is not just a tease, but a well-rounded tool right out of the gate! And did I say free?!)

With Trello I can finally organize my life. (Yes!) And you can too. I’ve already started with a few boards and have been scoping out examples of more ways to use this fantastic tool for family, business, projects, whatever . . .

Get Trello for yourself here.

Trello Boards

If you’ve ever used Pinterest you are familiar with “boards”. Trello also uses boards as the main sections. Within your broad category boards, you then add “lists” and “cards”. These can be labeled by color and further modified for a variety of needs and uses. And you can share boards, lists and cards as well as switch up cards from list to list and board to board (or duplicate them)! Are you getting excited yet?

As I said, there are tons of uses for Trello and Trello boards. Want to make a Vision Board? Make it on Trello, or make several! Got a project to plan, or a joint project? Make it and share tasks on Trello!

How I am using Trello right now (and expanding):

I’ve set up Boards for primary areas of my life so far:

My Starter Boards in Trello

Family (with lists for each family member) – I do plan to separate these out into a board for each person. Plus you can color coordinate your boards if you like, even upload your own background photos for each one.

Business – Working from home is an amazing opportunity. I already see how Trello can help me integrate work with the rest of my life without dropping (so many) balls that I juggle. I can bounce from work to child to dinner and not lose my place now (smile).

My parent support ministry (You’re here! Yesterday’s Orphan); I am excited to plug the beginnings of some future plans into Trello to keep moving forward on them. Stick around to see what’s coming up!

My upcoming mission trip to Russia; no stressing over the to-dos for this trip. Just plug into Trello, set a due date and get’er done!

My Mission Trip Board

I plan to add a weekly schedule board to house repetitive items particular to days of the week, and some more project boards.

Key to Success with Trello

One key I already discovered is to add a due date/deadline to anything you can. This will bring up that item (card) in your daily “What’s Next” list. No matter what board or list they are on, the due date will pull up whatever you’ve scheduled in order. (No flipping back and forth between calendars and lists!)

Trello for Back-to-School

It’s that time of year and I am so happy to have found Trello in time for back-to-school. Not only can Trello keep my life organized, but my children as well.

Keep the (perceived) nagging away when you share tasks with them through Trello. They can check off as done and you’ll be able to see when an item is marked completed. (I would have loved this for home-schooling!) There’s even an application to save the ist of completed assignments to a spreadsheet on Google Drive. (Record-keeping? DONE!)

Example boards for homeschool parents:

Personal parent/teacher boards with Master Lists, Student boards, Weekly Routines, Resource Links, Current and upcoming lesson plans; Materials checklists; Extracurricular activities; Field trips; Library books (with due dates)

Trello for students:

Homeschool or not, students can have their own project boards with checklists to break projects down into manageable tasks. My high schoolers can set up their own Trello boards for each subject at the start of the school year and add in their projects and due dates, tests and study schedules. Plus any other links to resources or important information.

Trello is compatible to various devices and so I can work on my Chromebook and also see the app on my phone when out and about.

Pressure Relief

For the family with intense kids, parents need to be able to communicate in a way that won’t promote internal pressure. (Sometimes even a look can do that with my teens!) Trello is a way to do just that. You can collaborate and share information in an organized way that doesn’t seem like you are just barking out random commands. And the engaging tech is the go-between!

Let me know, have you used Trello for you family and found it useful? What’s your favorite benefit so far?

Free Parent Resource

If you have intense kids who have a hard time with transitions and if back-to-school season is stressing you out just thinking about it (!!!) – – then you’ll like the following free resource, my tips for being the chill parent during back-to-school season, even with intense kids. Get yours with the button below.

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Emotional Alarm System

Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

Sometimes parents of emotionally and behaviorally challenged children can get to a breaking point where something has to give. There is a point at which you realize you are either stuffing your feelings and you are paying the price or your emotional outbursts rival those of your child. Ouch! You must be the adult. And that means taking whatever measures you need to to ensure that your emotions are not out of control. Emotions are good indicators. We need them. But they shouldn’t be driving the car.

When your GPS gives good directions it is super helpful! A great tool. But when the directions are off for some reason, we need to be aware so we can make the needed corrections or we can end up in a completely wrong location.

Internal GPS

It’s the same with our emotions. They can be great indicators. They can inform us when we may need to take a detour. They can help us choose between options. Our GPS may show us a list of restaurants in the area and a little bit about them, so we have good information from which to make a lunch choice. Similarly, our emotions can let us know something doesn’t seem right. But it’s up to our thinking brain to take that information and do something about it.

When we feel an alarm of emotion we may not need additional information. We may know exactly what to do when a certain emotion pops up. But in other situations we do need more information. For instance if our child’s frequent sleep problems are not responsive to the measures we know and have tried, we may need to investigate further. Feeling tired and frustrated at the sleepless nights may prompt us to know something’s not right and needs to be addressed right away. But feeling tired and frustrated may also hinder us from thinking clearly if we are already stretched thin and it goes on for a while.

Think Outside the Box

My youngest adopted son screamed himself to sleep after coming home and normal soothing measures did not work. Occasionally we could get him to sleep by rubbing his back with lotion. Then we learned that melatonin supplements would help him relax. He also needed a night light and to be in the bed with someone, not alone (not even in the same room in a separate bed), because as a deaf child he needed to be able to reach out and touch someone for assurance that he wasn’t alone. Oh how I wish we had gotten him to sleeping better sooner. But my box of sleep tools did not cover his particular needs at that time.

Thinking outside the box might be needed to keep our emotions from gaining control. When emotions prompt us to action or to seek out will be effective in a given situation our feelings are great sidekicks. When we stuff our feelings though, we disable their usefulness like a broken GPS system. We also disarm our thinking brain’s ability to supervise our emotions. So they can easily get out of control.

Emotional Alarm System

What if we think of our emotions as an alarm system. Different signals can alert us to different things. When there is an distress signal we know we should take quick action. We do not just ignore the situation and turn off the alarm. The alarm is not the problem. It simply alerts us to the problem or potential problem. We can turn off the noise of the alarm but we also have to assess and address the issue that caused the alarm to sound.

Turning off the alarm or ignoring it is like stuffing our emotions and feelings. And disregarding the underlying cause. Nor do we want to overreact to the alarm and fail to notice what set if off.

Free Parent Resource: A Christian’s Guide to Reclaiming Emotional Control

I’ve compiled a Guidebook that you may have for free, “A Christian’s Guide to Reclaiming Emotional Control”, jam-packed with information and ideas for steps you can take to keep your emotional brain in the passenger seat while your thinking brain does the driving. This is a free, parent-to-parent resource for parents who may have a lot of emotional upheaval and feel a bit overwhelmed. I hope it is helpful to you. If you know anyone else who can use this resource please direct them to this blogpost to get their free copy as well. Just click the link below for your free copy.

Enemy Under Your Roof

We don’t like to think of our family members as our enemies. But here it is.

” . . . a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” ~ from Matthew chapter 10.

(You may want to read all of verses 34-39.) So we shouldn’t be surprised when we realize one or more of our family members is opposing us.

Do you ever feel like your child is your enemy? Or perhaps your spouse clashes with you regarding how to deal with a child’s behaviors and it feels like you and your spouse are on opposing teams. It may be short-lived, minor conflict or long-term and/or high stakes.

If we have made “family” an idol, or wrapped up our own identity so tightly in our family, our family roles and relationships, then this opposition from within our own home may rock our world. It might even tempt us to stray from our convictions in following Jesus.

We should not stir up trouble in our families unnecessarily of course. But neither should we idolize “family” to the point of compromising our relationship with our Savior and Father in heaven.

Instead, look to our relationship with him and our identity in his family as our foundation. And while we shouldn’t make family relationships an idol, neither should we make reconciliation impossible by our negative attitudes or behaviors. Keep the door open and continue to pray for restoration and reconciliation.

The real enemy, the one who is the enemy of our souls is Satan. Remember this when you feel like it’s the person in front of you and understand that he may be using them to get to you but he would love to destroy you both.

Spiritual warfare. In the home. It’s real. Be prepared.

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