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


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!

Friday, February 24, 2017

5 Minute Friday

This post of part of the 5 Minute Friday with Kate Motaung. Today's word is slow. The word slow brings to mind slow roasted beef or a favorite slow cooker meal. It also reminds me of some older people and their slow movements. I like watching them as they move purposefully and intentional throughout their day no matter how fast the world around them is moving, they continue at their same pace. I notice that they seem relaxed and peaceful not frustrated or hindered by the buzz of activity around them. It's as if they know some secret that the rest us of don't as move at breakneck speed through life. As I grow older, I am learning to embrace "slow". I used to frantically wash dishes to race on to the next thing. Now, I savor(kind of !) the moment and look out my window at a setting sun or two mourning doves lingering along the driveway. I see a lot of things that I missed when I rushed through and it has given me a greater appreciation for each moment and taught me to truly be in each moment that the Father has blessed me with.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Money Monday-My 2 Favorite Apps

I try to save however and whenever I can but I really like when I can save without thinking about it a lot. That's where Digit, comes in. I have been using Digit for over a year and have effortlessly saved over $2,000. If you are considering using Digit, please use my referral code. I get $5 for every person that signs up!

Another favorite app is Ibotta. I like Ibotta because I can get cash back on items such as produce that you don't normally find coupons for. They seem to regularly have rebates for bananas, oranges and onions. This is slow and steady saving, but every little bit helps. When you sign up using my referral code, wkkkgkv, I get $5 and you get a $10 welcome bonus!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

February No Spend Update

Well, this month is just about over and although there have been some bumps along the way, I've learned some things to help me as I continue on this journey:

1.  Leaving the debit card and checkbook at home has caused me to REALLY plan my grocery list and shopping. No more impulse buying!

2.  I used to think that our income needed to change before we could become debt free. The more money we have, the easier it will be to pay off debt, right?! Sadly, this is not necessarily the case. Like many others, when we got more we just spent more. I'm learning,( as the Lord exhorts us), "to be faithful in the little."

3.  I've found daily encouragement from others on the debt-free journety through Instagram. Some of my favorites include: elliemondelli,eatpraybudgetloanfreestudent, debtfreeinsunnyca, debtwarrior  pocketfuel, and thejanellekeith.