Friday, April 21, 2017

5 Minute Friday-Sing!

Today's prompt for 5 Minute Friday is "sing." Lately, my 9 yr-old and I have been enjoying some of the hymns of the faith. Yesterday, we sang one of my favorite hymns, "All the Way My Saviour Leads Me" by Fanny Crosby. A mother soothes and rejoices over her infant with singing.I remember a special song I composed for my first daughter. I was so elated to finally be a mother and I would sing this simple little song over and over to her, "Amaris, Amaris, She's a pretty little baby, Amaris, Amaris, she's a pretty little girl."  I appreciate the verse in Zephaniah that says that God rejoices over us with singing. Singing comforts, lifts the spirits and encourages. The Bible says that God inhabits the praises of His people. At creation the angels sang, at the birth of Christ they sang and when Christ is glorified they will sing! In between, there is singing by Miriam and the children of Israel upon their deliverance from Egypt, Deborah sang when Israel defeated their enemies, Christ and the disciples sang on the night He was crucified and Paul and Silas sang while imprisoned. I have sung with choirs, by myself and of course with my 9 yr-old, but the singing that I enjoy the most is the singing  with Christ now and forever! Praise Him!

Friday, April 14, 2017

5 Minute Friday-Empty

Today's 5 Minute Friday word is "empty". You can read more about it at Kate Motaung.

Empty. Sarah had an empty womb that she longed to be filled. The woman with the issue of blood had an empty purse after years of money spent on doctors and still, no cure. The woman at the well brought her empty heart and her empty bucket to a well one day. She met a man that told her all that ever she did. She left her waterpot that day to proclaim that she had found the Messiah. Still today, we find Him when we simply bring our waterpots-cracked, marred, stained, empty or maybe they are full, but full of things that will never satisfy. Before Him, we can pour these things out and find, like the woman at the well, the Living Water.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Contentment is wealth

"The real things haven't changed. It is still bet to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong."--Laura Ingalls Wilder



I love this quote by Laura Ingalls Wilder because it sums up how I endeavor to live my life and because over 100 years later, this remains a timeless truth. More is more is not necessarily true in every situation; sometimes less is more and because of this many have begun to embrace the minimalist lifestyle. You can read more about minimalism here, here, and here. Of course, like many movements and lifestyles, there is much variation along the spectrum. 

As we journey to become debt-free, I have found that minimizing in some areas and learning to be content with simple pleasures are THE BEST ways to experience true wealth.  My parents demonstrated this beautifully. They both grew up poor in rural Alabama and in their adulthood moved North where they acquired factory jobs that allowed them a lifestyle that they could only imagine as children. They were able to provide music lessons, basketball shoes, the latest fashions and travel experiences to the nation's capital and each coast of our vast country, and although they each had their own luxury purchases at times, they lived simply. Later, they were able to buy a second home in their beloved Alabama, travel more and even take a cruise! However, they were still content to take a walk  around the block after dinner, eat produce grown in their own garden, line dry laundry and accept hand-me-down clothing. 

My father died 10 years ago. After his funeral, I was impressed and deeply touched by the number of people that he and my mother were able to help financially. They bailed the sons of single moms out of jail, kept people's homes from going into foreclosure, provided meals and paid utility bills-all this by two unassuming people with a modest income and only a high school education between them. 

I believe that wealth can buy a lot of things, good things even, but it can never provide the contentment that is found only in Christ. The Bible asks, "What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36). The parable of the the rich fool aptly illustrates the fate of those consumed with acquiring wealth to the detriment of their souls. This is a sober warning that I am to use money wisely and to love God with all my heart, soul and mind will keep me from falling prey to the love of money which is, as the Bible says, "the root of all evil."(1 Timothy 6:10)




Friday, March 24, 2017

5 Minute Friday-Embrace

Today's word for 5 Minute Friday is, "Embrace". For information, you can read here, 5 Minute Friday.

I think for most people, the word embrace brings to mind a loved one, especially soft, cuddly babies! Most of us tend to have very positive associations of this word, but one of the definitions of the word is, "to accept willingly or eagerly." It's not easy to accept willingly or eagerly a difficult coworker or trying circumstances, but it is possible. As we bring EVERYTHING to our heavenly Father, He embraces us with His unfailing love. Only in this way, can we embrace the seemingly impossible people and situations in our lives.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Retreat!




Last weekend, I took a much needed break and enjoyed and visited a retreat center. I had gone on a few Christian women's retreats in the past, but this was my first time going alone and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

The retreat center that I visited, Penuel Ridge is an interfaith retreat center. Although the facility encourages greetings and interactions among the guests, the hosts also expect that each guest's privacy will be respected. The facility offers has a main house and a cabin, offering accommodations for both groups and individuals.

I stayed at the rustic, lovely Dorothy Day Cottage. It provided the perfect mix of solitude and natural beauty, yet was close enough to the main house should I need anything or just wanted to visit the library housed there. Here are a few pictures from my time there:
Dorothy Day Cottage


Cottage interior

Cottage interior






The Well
I spent my time sleeping, reading,journalling, watching the birds outside my cottage deck, running and meditating. One of my favorite places was the well where one can go to pray, sing or meditate. There is a CD player with a few CD's available for guests' use, but I had brought a Selah CD😊

One of the books from the retreat library that I enjoyed and plan to purchase soon was Invitation to Silence and Solitude. by Ruth Haley Barton. Another book I had heard of, but never read, was Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis. I perused it and decided that this was one that I needed to add to my personal library.

I would encourage all believers to take time for a retreat experience. It truly is a blessing mind, body and spirit. If you are in or near middle TN and would like to retreat, check out, Penuel Ridge

Monday, March 6, 2017

Money Monday

One of the primary ways that I am learning to save is in the area of groceries/food. I regularly shop Kroger and Sprouts, but also make an occasional trip to United Grocery Outlet. My children call it, "Ugly Grocery Outlet"! Hey, it might not have the sleek and modern design of other stores, but I have found great deals on organics and gluten free products as well as some family favorites like Pillsbury Toaster Strudel, Breyer's Ice Cream, Dove Bars, California Pizza Kitchen Pizza. They don't complain then!

Recently, I discovered a liquidation store in our area. Although, the primary merchandise was non food items, I was pleasantly surprised to find the food items below:
I got 6 packages of K-Toos gluten free cookies, a package of 12 HeartBar oatmeal squares and  4 8-oz  packages of golden ground flaxseeds for $9 On Amazon, the cookies retail for $20.12, the HeartBars retail for $12.81 and the ground flaxseed retails for $21.68. That's a savings of over $40!

As you can see, there are substanstial savings to be had grocery shopping "outside the box", but there are a few disadvantages:

1. Shopping at outlets and liquidation stores is like a box of chocolates. "You never know what you're going to get." 
2. Some items may be past their "best by date" which means the quality might diminish but it is still safe to eat. My 9 yr-old is our expert date checker!
3. There are no free samples, bright displays, etc and coupons (at least the one I shop) are not accepted. 

Check out some of these stores in your area, you may find some great deals!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Down...but not out!

The road to financial freedom has been bumpy as of late. The month of February has been particularly challenging. Today, I found out that we need a hot water heater like YESTERDAY! Unfortunately, we no longer had our home warranty, so this one will be  on us!

I experienced so many emotions the past hour, but thanks be to God for His abundant grace! I had so many options:

a)I could turn outward and spew out my frustrations on my husband and children

b)I could turn inward and blame myself for not seeking another home warranty plan

c)I could turn upward, Psalm 121:1 and cast this care upon my Father who knows the end from the beginning and cares for every detail of my life, Matthew 10:30. I could give thanks and seek His wisdom and rest.

I chose "c". As I called upon the Lord, He comforted me and gave me wisdom to redo our budget to accomodate some of the debt. He reminded me that unlike previous times, we actually had a little over half the amount of the estimate we were given and that we could use the upcoming tax refund to build up our emergency fund again. I also enrolled with a new home warranty company so that we are better prepared for any future repairs!

Even  in our disappointments, God can cheer us and give us hope. I can thank our Father that:
- the water heater didn't burst
- the new water heater is much more energy efficient and can save us as much as $600 year
 - we get a rebate from our electric company
 - this year we can use this purchase as a credit on our taxes

This event reminds me of our Christian life. There are ups and downs, good times and bad times, but through it all, we can(unlike many in the world), give thanks and be comforted and above all, we have a hope which far surpasses any of the losses, disappointments and failures of this present world. Praise Him!