Friday, October 24, 2014

Frugal Friday

Benjamin Franklin ~

"Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship." 

I haven't done a Frugal Friday post in a few weeks and I can certainly relate to this quote.  Ever since I opened the shop, I feel like our expenses are out of control.  It's time to plug up those small holes before this ship sinks.

Because of all those small holes, when a major crisis hits (which it did this week), we are struggling to figure out how to deal with it.  Our car is on the fritz again and the repairs are going to cost $1,400 which we don't have.  Automobiles are so frustrating because you definitely need them in a rural setting and yet, when something goes wrong, it's costly.

One of the bad habits I have slipped into is not planning ahead in the meal department.  On the days I'm at the shop, it's been so easy to grab fast food at the end of the day because I didn't have a plan for dinner and I'm tired.  Trying to juggle multiple balls is an adjustment.

The other thing that's happened is that my business account is in the bank that we had before we moved.  The only branch is about 30 minutes away so each week I travel to the bank to make a deposit.  Then while I'm there I think, "I've driven all this way, I should probably pop into JoAnn Fabrics or Hobby Lobby to pick up fabric while I'm here."  Usually it's to pick up something for an order, but of course because things are always on sale, I'll pick up extra fabric.  All those "extras" add up.

Someone will ask me for a particular scent of soap and I'll purchase the fragrance oil for that and while I'm ordering I'll get a couple extra things to make the shipping worthwhile.  And on and on it goes.


I told Dan last night, that I'm not purchasing anything else until I've used up a lot of my stash - whether it's soap supplies, fabric, or anything else.  I'm working hard to plan ahead for the days I'm at the store so I'm not tempted to buy fast food.  I'm even thinking of making the bread I bake for the shop each week available only once a month because I spend much of my entire day off, baking for that instead of focusing on my house which is what I want to be doing. 

The art of frugal living is an ongoing process.  I've done well over the years but new circumstances are always a time to reevaluate and adjust.

Here are a few ways I've been frugal lately:

$ Someone dropped off an almost 4 foot lake salmon to us.  I didn't have time to gut it and cut it up so Dan offered it to our neighbor.  They don't eat fish but did take the time to fillet it for us.  A loaf of bread and jar of jam is on its way to them this weekend as a thank you!

$ Bartering - my hairdresser and I have worked out a deal where I don't pay for cuts or colorings or nails being done in exchange for sewing projects.  I got a hair cut and color this past week.  I'm in the process of making some costumes for her.  It has been a good arrangement.

$ I cut Dan & Nathan's hair myself.

$ Someone told me about this app for the phone called Retail Me Not.  It's great because when I'm in the store, I look up the store on the phone and find whatever coupon is being offered.  The clerk scans the barcode on the phone at checkout and I get the deal.

$ I made my own wreath for the front door.

$ Picked up a 1 lb. bag of yeast for $4.00 at the Mennonite store I go too.  It is so much less expensive than yeast you purchase in the supermarket.

$ Bought the olive oil I used for my soap making at a local store.  Again, a lot less expensive than the online soap company.

Those are the ways I can think of right off the top of my head. 

I need to keep plugging the holes up!  Our ship is listing a bit and I need to straighten it out! :-)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Keep on Keeping on!

When I went to college and seminary, it was such an exciting time in my life.  I was surrounded by others who were headed off to full-time ministry.  We were all on the same page as far as what it meant to live out our faith for the Lord.  We all had a passion for God.  The world was full of color!

Then as we went off into this life of full-time ministry, and especially in small, struggling churches, life became less and less exciting.  Oh, there were those times when we saw God doing miraculous things.  But it's a very lonely road when you are not surrounded by people who all have the same focus.  It begins to feel discouraging when you are in the middle of the battle field.  And that's what it is...a battle field for people's souls.

Because we've been in small churches, we have not been able to go to some of the events that provide encouragement, rejuvenation and refreshment.  The money is just not there to go to our National Conference each year.  Our local group of pastors meet only every few months and that seems to be more about hearing the exciting things going on in their larger churches.  So it really starts to feel like we are alone in this.  It's easy to get bogged down in the day to day drudgery!  Everything feels drab and brown.

Then this morning I read this passage.

Galatians 6:9-10 ~
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

This is truth for all believers, not just those in full-time ministry.  These words were written because it can become easy to want to give up.  It's hard to live out our Christian walk in a world where we can be made fun of, ignored or considered a holy roller.  It's hard to do that even among believers who often have bad attitudes, wrong ideas or indifference towards what it means to live out the truths found in scripture.

Yet, we should not give up.  If we keep plugging away day after day, we will reap a wonderful harvest.  That doesn't mean we'll necessarily see it.  It may be that we'll never know until we stand before the Lord how our words and actions affected others.  

If you are feeling discouraged today, don't give up!  Keep getting back up and moving forward.  Let's encourage one another in our walk.  There will be those wonderful moments when we can clearly see God working, but there will also be those times when all is drab and brown.  But don't give up.  Just do the next thing.

Keep on keeping on!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

Perhaps today would be the day.  He had waited for 38 long years.  Each day he lay on his mat by the Pool of Bethesda, waiting for the waters to stir.  It had happened numerous times before.  It was said that an angel would stir the waters and each time it happened, the first one in would be healed.  There were so many people waiting.  Waiting, praying and hoping for a miracle.  Some were blind.  Some were deaf and others were paralyzed.  But they were all there wishing for a cure.
He had been waiting for 38 years, too sick to move and longing for not only the right timing, but for someone to take pity on him.  How he longed for someone to look at him and really see him.  Not just look in annoyance and spit at him.  He needed someone to look into his eyes and see his suffering.  To see that he was a man who wanted more than anything to be healed.  He needed help to even get into the water.  And yet, no one ever stopped.  No one looked, no one took pity and no one cared.
And so he waited.  Yet this day was different.  On this day a man stopped.  He looked at him.  He spoke.  "Do you want to get well?" 
"Of course!"  "But I have no one to help me into the pool."   His voice trembled as he spoke, hoping against all hope that this man would have pity and help him up.
The man's eyes pierced his soul as he said, "Get up and walk."  As soon as the man spoke, he felt something change within him.  Strength surged through him.  Health coursed through his veins.  The pain vanished.  He felt different immediately.  And without thinking, he obeyed.  He simply sat up, then stood.  He moved.  He picked up his mat.  He walked.
He wanted to shout and cry and laugh all at the same time.  He wanted someone to notice!  And they did.  But the first response he got was not one of amazement and joy.  It was condemnation.  It was judgment.  It was irritation.  The Pharisee who stood before him said, "Why are you carrying your mat?"  "Don't you know it's illegal to do this on the Sabbath?"  "Who is it that healed you?"
He did not know and could not say.  The man had disappeared almost immediately.  All he knew was that he had been shown mercy.  He had been told to get up and had been healed.
(Based on John 5:1-13)
How many times do we hear God tell us that he will do something miraculous in our lives?  All we have to do is listen and obey.  It may be as simple as get up and walk.  And yet we doubt.  We second guess what we heard.  Or we look for a sign or help from elsewhere. Can you imagine what our lives might be like if we simply listened?  What would happen if we got up, picked up our mat and walked?

What a story we could tell!  What a miracle would be shown.  And so often, nothing happens because we refuse to act. We remain in the same situation.  We repeat the same sins.  We struggle with the same issues.  Because we do not listen.  We do not obey.  We do not act.

God doesn't just want to work physical healing in our lives, but spiritual as well.  But it's up to us to hear and not just listen, but obey.  Let Him work in whatever way He wills in your life.  Let Him heal you of the hurts, the struggles, and the pain.  It doesn't matter what it is.  It doesn't matter how long you have suffered with it.  

It also does not matter who disapproves.  There are always naysayers and people who will doubt and point fingers.  There will be those who would love you to stay in your sin and struggle.  Ignore those voices.

Simply listen, get up, pick up your mat and walk today!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Scraps of Color

There is a marked change in the days lately.  I noticed it's getting darker earlier and lighter later each day.  The past few days the air has been cold.

The brilliant colors of autumn, are starting to fade and I see more brown than anything else.

Here and there, are still a few scraps of color.

I think the brightest colors are from inside my house! :-)

Flowers from Dan; a surprise this morning.

Autumn decorations.

I'm enjoying the colors because I know that right around the corner I'm going to be seeing lots of white!  And I don't mean candles, waiting to be trimmed. ;-)

Have a blessed day!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Multitude Monday

Knots in my stomach, an ache in my heart and the beginnings of a pounding headache.  This is my reaction when my child is hurt by the unkindness of others.  The emotional hurt manifests itself in a physical way. 

It's hard when you have a child, no matter how old, who aches to have a friend and to feel like they belong.  I can't make others be kind.  I can't force people to be his friend.  I can't ask others to just acknowledge him or talk to him.  I cannot do anything to make it better.  And that aggravates the pain I feel even more. 

This morning as I woke up, my Bible fell open to this passage and the words in verse 29 leapt out at me. 

Psalm 69:29-31 (NIV) ~

But as for me, afflicted and in pain—
    may your salvation, God, protect me.

I will praise God’s name in song
    and glorify him with thanksgiving.
This will please the Lord more than an ox,
    more than a bull with its horns and hooves.
In pain, the Psalmist still gave praise and thanksgiving to God.  It's so easy to praise Him when things are going well and when I'm happy.  It's not so easy, when I'm in either physical or emotional pain. Yet, this brings pleasure to God.  It pleases Him when I can rise above my circumstances and say, "Thank you." no matter what I face.
I want to sing the Lord's praises.  He has blessed me with so many things.  He loves me and He loves my child more than I ever can.  He wants not just good, but the best for my son.  That may require going through times of longing and loneliness, through times of hurt and pain.
So today I will praise Him.  Today I will trust Him.  And today, I will give thanksgiving.

This week I'm thankful for blessings #2201-2210

2201.  A better week at the shop.

2202.  Changing leaves.

2203. Family Dinners

2204.  Board games.

2205.  Fall decorations

2206.  Brisk, autumn air.

2207.  Checking things off my list.

2208.  Warm apple crisp.

2209.  A father-son breakfast.

and finally...

2210. Praising Him in the pain.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Crafty Things

I haven't done a Crafty Things post in a while and I thought I'd share some things I've been churning out of my sweat, sewing room lately.

I love making wreathes and haven't done it in a while do it's been fun doing a different thing than my normal sewing.

I've also made placemats, napkins and table runners.  Here is a runner I did yesterday.

I made a custom apron for a customer.

And another customer asked me to make a T-Rex costume.  I'm finishing that up today, but here is the head minus the eyes I'm adding.  My little model really got into character by adding the roar.

On top of that I've made about 6 batches of soap in the past week and a half and this morning I'm making more candles.  

I really need to go clean my house!  ;-). 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Gift

This week has been busy and full and all about family.  I posted the other day about the visit we had this weekend from Dan's brother and family as well as Stephen.  Stephen is settled back in his college and doing well.

Tuesday I was also blessed with a visit from my aunt and cousin.

I haven't seen my cousin in three years and before that, we were both teens.  I do have to say that one of the biggest positive things about Facebook is the ability to reconnect with family members that I haven't seen in years.

I took them to the lake and of course, we snapped a few selfies. :-)


Last night was spent with Dan, watching Emily sing in a concert at school.  I'm so pleased she chose to sing in the chorale this year.  She has a pretty voice but was going through this self-conscious "I don't like people looking at me" phase.  So it's been nice to see her coming out of her shell a bit and stretching herself.

We are so proud of Nathan.  He has struggled since we moved here, adjusting to a new job and a new fire department.  One of the things that was hard for him was going from being so active on the last department to being the new kid on the block.  One of the hurdles he was trying to overcome was to be able to go "green" which basically means he can now go into structure fires without being supervised. (Not sure if I'm explaining it correctly).  He kept making little mistakes because he would get so nervous but he has worked hard and finally achieved his goal. 

It's been wonderful to see him mature and grow and overcome so many things in his life as a result of being on the fire department.  The Lord has truly done a miracle in him.  In fact, Nathan's life has been about God making possibilities about of disabilities!

Desmond Tutu ~

"You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them."

I'm glad God gifted me with this family. :-)