Friday, April 28, 2017

5 Minute Friday-More

Today's prompt for 5 Minute Friday is "more". Proverbs 30:15-16, talks about 4 things that are never satisfied with enough-the grave, the barren womb, the land and fire. Our culture and society are consumed with "more".But, I have found that in many cases, "less is more". Being contentment with what the Lord has already  blessed us with gives us more-more peace, more joy, more of Him! Once when visiting the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha, Martha asked Jesus to make Mary help with the serving. Jesus replied that she(Martha) was cumbered about with many things, but that Mary had chosen the ONE thing that was needful. Doing more things-even good things, left Martha harried, frustrated and irritable. The Lord desires that we spend much time at feet as Mary did and find the "more" that comes with desiring the ONE GOOD THING!

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


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.


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Bumps along the way

This has been an up and down, but mostly down week with finances. We had to purchase a new car battery for my daughter. That was $120, then we had another car issue which was $100 and required the use of the credit card, which had just been paid off! This was me:
Paying off credit card only to incur a new balance 24 hours later!

This is so frustrating, but  through this, I am reminded that there are things that are absolutely, beyond my control and that I am blessed beyond measure and have so much to be grateful for. So, I choose joy and gratitude today. I choose to keep going moving forward, trusting God each step along the way. Praise Him!
Remembering that in God alone is my hope. He has made me GLAD!

Highlights of the week:
1. Saved $15 using coupons at Kroger
2. Enjoyed time in the Word and fellowshipping with a good friend
3. Participated in blogging boot camp led by Latonya at! She's tough!
4. Used a gift card to get treats for myself and my daughter at TJ Maxx
5. Watched "Duke". It was really good. Get your Kleenex ready..
6. Enjoyed good health. Lots of people sick with flu right now.
7. Daily 15 sec hug and kiss from my 15 yr-old son.

Keep looking away to Him!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Five Minute Friday-Safe

Today's word is safe. A person that is safe has been saved from something, whether a fire or natural disaster, this is a person who has been rescued and brought into a safe harbor. Christ is our safe harbor. He has rescued us from the penalty and power of sin and now we are safe in Him. He is our hope, our stay, our safety. Safe is a wonderful word. For me it brings up images of a mother tucking her child safely in bed and shooing away all the monsters under the bed. One of my daughter's was afraid of worms. One night as we entered the house, she noticed some words by the gate. She was terrified.  As I took her hand, I reminded her that I was there and that I would hold her hand all the way and lead her inside. In that moment, I was reminded that the Father does the same for us. We are not always kept from the terrible, scary things, but He holds us in His hands and leads us safely through.

He is -


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Saving Money on Groceries

Saving $ on Groceries

The grocery budget is one of the budget areas with the most flexibility. Many families save big in this area by using coupons, but using coupons isn't for everyone due to time constraints and limited availability of coupons in some areas. However, there are several ways that families can save whether they use coupons or not.

     I believe this is the most crucial step. As the saying goes, "When you fail to plan, plan to fail." Having a written menu plan and using it, is a simple, yet effective way to save both time and money. This avoids the frenzied dinner hour rush and eliminates the fast food or pizza delivery option.

      I enjoy cooking, but with homeschooling and extracurricular activities for myself and my children, I don't have time to prepare elaborate meals. Through the week, I like to have meals that take 30 minutes or less to prepare. I save the elaborate, labor intensive meals for the weekends. Check out the recipe boards on Pinterest and other sites such  as Simply Recipes  and  Real Mom Kitchen  .

     Eat the food you have. Don't keep shoving leftovers to the back of the fridge. Put them front and center and use them for the next day's lunch. I even serve them for breakfast sometimes. One of my friends packs her leftovers in containers and then labels the container with a eat- by date!

     As much as possible, buy food with either  few ingredients on the label or no ingredient label at all! These foods are usually found on the perimeter of the store-meat, dairy and produce. These are also the departments where you are likely to find markdowns. Try to avoid prepared foods. Take a little time and do the slicing or mixing yourself.  Instead of buying a box of oatmeal packets, buy whole oats and flavor them yourself. The same goes for rice. The Internet abounds with recipes for Spanish rice, cilantro lime rice and other flavored rices. By making your own mixes, you can control the amounts of salt and sugar.

     It's tempting to buy a dozen avocados when they are 4 for $1, but if not used within a few days, you will end up throwing your savings in the trash. When it comes to produce, keep in mind how soon you will be using the items and their shelf life. Carrots, potatoes, onions and cabbage are hardy vegetables which can keep for awhile. Avocados and berries, however, do not last as long and should be consumed or frozen within a few days.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

February No Spend Challenge

I've embarked on a no spend challenge with my best friend and sister-in-law. We each set our own guidelines and plan to share the its and misses at the end of the month. I receive a lot of encouragement and inspiration from Instagram. Some of my favorite blogs are: Money PeachFamily Balance Sheet, and Financial Freedom Quest

We are only 4 days in, but it has been going good so far. I was tempted several times to stop for fast food since it was just myself and my daughter. It would ONLY be $10, but this made me realize how often I justify such expenses and how "little" expenditures add up quickly. As a game/challenge, I took the $30 that I would have spent on eating out and purchasing books and added it to our savings account. I've been trying to save my grocery receipts, so I hope to have a tally at the end of the month. Fortunately, I was able to stock up on meat at really good prices last month, so really should be purchasing only produce and perishables. Check in again next Saturday for an update!

grace and peace,

Friday, February 3, 2017

5 Minute Friday- Breathe

It's another 5 Minute Friday. You can read more about it at . Today's word is BREATHE...

Throughout my years of exercise, the thing I kept hearing most was, "Don't forget to breathe!" Well, how could I forget that! I've been doing this breathing thing for awhile. I might not have the V step, down, but I have got this breathing thing down! What I didn't realize was that there was a way to breathe that was exhausting me and counterproductive. When Christ breathed on the disciples and they received the Holy Spirit, He intended them to live and walk in the Spirit by the Spirit, not in their own efforts which were exhausting and counterproductive. He calls us to do the same by simply breathing Him in, taking Him as our very life. As Paul said in Galatians, "Now it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The life which I now live, I live by the son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Friday, January 27, 2017

5 Minute Friday- Control

Today, I am participating in 5 Minute Friday at Kate Motaung. Today's word is CONTROL. Here I go:

I laughed, when I saw this word, because I though of the song, "Control" by Janet Jackson.  Yes, I'm that old! In the song, Janet sings about how when she was younger she did what her father told her, but now she does things her own way, running her own life and being the one in control. 
As I've gotten older I've realized just how very little I control and in some ways, it is comforting because it frees me from anxiety and fear. Being controlled by the Spirit of Christ within me is the kind of control that brings me peace, comfort and direction in a world that seems to be spiraling out of control moment by moment. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

I'm Pretty Tired Now...

People run for a lot of different reasons-exercise, relaxation and just pure enjoyment. As Christians, we are in a race and exhorted to run the race with endurance, but sometimes, we run aimlessly; running after things that don't serve the ultimate purpose of our lives which is to enjoy God and love Him forever- to truly live in intimacy and oneness with the Lord; to be in  Christ and have Christ in us as our living. 

I have felt like Forrest at times, running without any real goal or end in mind. And, like Forrest, I have found myself "pretty tired", bone weary even. The things I was pursuing were good things, but good things done apart from Christ are like wood, hay and stubble(1 Corinthians 3:12-13).  Wood, hay and stubble are quickly consumed by the fire, but the gold, silver and precious stones endure the fire. 

My word for this year is FOCUS. Keeping myself turned to Him helps me to eliminate everything that is not of Him; yes, even the good things. There is so much to draw us away from the simplicity of Christ-even in the church. I do believe that the key to rest, joy, peace, contentment and all the spiritual blessings that are ours in Christ can be experienced as long as we abide in Him and continue to look away from all other things and depend solely upon Him

Friday, January 13, 2017

5 Minute Friday- Middle

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

This morning when I saw what the writing prompt was, I thought of the saying "between a rock and a hard place." I felt like I was between two hard places in several situations in my life. But then, God reminded me of Moses and the children of Israel. They were between a rock and a hard place or more specifically, Pharaoh and the Egyptian army and the Red Sea. Can you imagine the trepidation, fear and sheer panic; especially for those with children?  It made my "middle" seem like a walk in the park, but it reminded me that no matter where we are, God is there. He IS a very present help in the time of trouble. He is right there in the middle of our pain, grief sorrow, joy and gladness. He is the All-Sufficient One! He promises to carry us through the middle.

Friday, January 6, 2017

5 Minute Friday-Connect

Today, I am participating in my first 5 Minute Friday! I'm excited and nervous, but I was encouraged to take the plunge  opportunity, by my friend Latonya.  5 Minute Friday is a community of writers who write for 5 minutes on a given prompt. You can read more about Five Minute Friday at Kate Motaung. Today's prompt is "Connect". I'm going in...!

Connect. We hear it spoken of often, but how connected are we in this age of the world wide web and the global community? This type of connectedness feels somehow unconnected and far away. Real connectedness is up close and personal. It's beautiful and ugly. It's joy and pain, sunshine and rain as Frankie Beverly sang. It's reaching across the fence instead of reaching acroos the world. It's putting your heart and soul to pen and paper to send a letter of encouragement . With all our technological advances-email, instant messaging, etc, it is wonderful to receive a handwritten letter in the mailbox.

A New Bible Reading Plan

I have attempted several times to read the entire Bible, but eventually lost momentum around Leviticus or got overwhelmed with the amount of reading. I have tried Professor Grant Horner's plan, which I really liked, but after awhile, I found it challenging to complete the daily readings. 

Yesterday, a friend introduced me to Tim Challies favorite Bible reading plan. You can read more about it at the blog, but my favorite feature is that it is a 5 day reading plan, so it allows 2 days for catching up. This plan seems very doable and I would encourage you to give it a try!

I just started yesterday, so I plan to do catch up reading this weekend. This morning, I read Genesis 3-5 and Mark 2. I enjoyed seeing the perfect humanity of Christ in Mark 2, especially his answer to the Pharisees in vv 23-28  regarding the Sabbath. The Pharisees were the popular party. They were extremely accurate and minute concerning the law of Moses. When they questioned Messiah about the sabbath, He responded, "Have ye never read what David did..?" Of course, they had read this, but because of their pride and spiritual blindness, they missed the Lord. Christ Himself even said of them, You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, As we read the Bible, let us read with open hearts, minds and spirits, for the Bible is like no other book and must be read not only with our eyes and minds but with openness of heart and spirit. 

Praise Him!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A New Year

January 3, 2017

Ahh, the New Year. For many this is a time of reflection and resolution making. Earlier, this year, I realized that the changes that I wanted in my life couldn't wait until January 1, 2017. They needed to be started TODAY.

As of today, I am two weeks into exercising consistently. With so many great sources on the Internet, I found my excuse list growing shorter and shorter. Some of my favorites are Jessica Smith and Leslie Sansone walking videos which can be found on Youtube.

As a child, I was a voracious reader. In 3rd grade, I won the prize for reading the most books that school year-a whopping 134! Recently, a blogger friend,, renewed my love for reading. I recently completed Present over Perfect. Although it was repetitive at times, it was encouraging and left me with several things to muse on. Below are some of the books, I plan to read this year. Several of the books are books borrowed from my local library. Did I mention that I was a bibliophile?! One way that I am hoping to reduce debt and clutter is to utilize my local library more.

One of the books on my list, is Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey. It's an oldie but goodie which I am perusing mainly for encouragement as we pursue our goal of becoming debt free. Yesterday, I wrote down the reason that I want to become debt free(besides going on the Dave Ramsey show to do the debt free scream-and dance!) is to "Be free so that I can give freely and live freely." In some ways, I am able to do that now, but it can be limiting because of debt.

Finally, I want to grow in my relationship with the Lord this year. Last year, I started a study on the book of Isaiah with a friend. I really enjoyed this especially because Isaiah had always been a book I shied away from. Besides continuing the Isaiah study, I am studying Ephesians by reading one chapter daily for a week and reading a Proverb daily. Since there are 30-31 days per month, the daily Proverb reading is a great reading plan. I will be sharing highlights here at the blog. I'm also working on scripture memory using Scripture Typer. I have tried other memorization methods, including Memverse,  but I really like Scripture Typer and highly recommend it!

Today's precept from 365 Days of Wonder is "Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind".-Henry James.

That's all for now. Please share your goals, dreams and plans for 2017!

grace and peace,