Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thrifty Thursday

I had such a seriously great frugal week that I decided to make it a Thrifty Thursday instead of Frugal Friday post.  lol!  Before I share my savings this week, I do want to share an e-book by my friend, Kate Megill.  Kate has a family of 10 and does a wonderful job of staying within a budget.

Her e-book, Cut it Out: How I Feed My Family for $500 a Month Without Coupons, is available on her website.  Click on the title to go check it out.  For $3.99 it's definitely frugal. :-)

Okay, on to my savings. 

$ I'm trying my hand at soap making, using another "in real life" friend, Heidi Corley Barto's book, The Natural Soap Chef. 

Because I'm new at it and have none of the equipment needed, it could get costly if I just went through and started purchasing everything from a soap making company.  But I was able to get many of the needed items by going to a local thrift store.  I didn't really want to use my regular bowls for this because I really wanted to keep whatever I use for my lye mixture to be separate.  Anyway, I got two glass, heat resistant pitchers, two glass pyrex bread pans, a glass casserole dish, and three small glass bowls for $20.  I'm using the pans as my soap molds by lining them with parchment paper.

$ I also purchased a 16 quart, copper bottom, Revere Ware pot that is perfect for making tomato sauce for $8!  Whoo hoo!!!!!

$ Speaking of tomatoes, a friend stopped by with 25 lbs. of beefsteak tomatoes for FREE!  What a blessing!!!!

$ My son needed pants so I got him two pairs of jeans for $16.

$ My hairdresser asked me if I would make a quilt for her in exchange for some free cuts and colors .  That will be happening at some point in the near future.

$ I received a phone call, asking if I would like to participate in a 2nd farmer's market this summer so my Monday and Tuesdays will be spent doing that, beginning at the end of May.

$ I had 4 Etsy sales last week which was wonderful!

$ I found a local butcher where I can buy fresh meat.   You can order different packages ahead of time.  For $42 I got my meat for the month which includes cuts of beef that I normally couldn't afford to buy in the grocery store.  A plus is I know where my meat is coming from!

$ All of our outdoor chairs from last year were broken and we forgot our camping chairs when we moved here.  So we were at Aldi this week and they had solid, steel frame outdoor chairs with a rattan seat.  So we purchased 2 for $30.  They should last so much longer than the cheapy folding chairs we usually get.

$ I was so tempted to go out for Easter dinner but my frugal streak won't allow it.  I bought 2 lbs. of sea scallops and while they were on the pricey side, it's still cheaper than the whole family going out for dinner on a holiday that restaurants make a killing on.

That's about it for this week!  Love saving money. :-)  For more ideas, check out Rebecca's blog.  Her finances on Friday post won't be up until tomorrow, but you can also look at her past posts for ideas.

A Week of Reflection: A Changed Man

John 18:17 ~ “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter. He replied, “I am not.”

John 21:15 ~ Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”  

    Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 

John 18:25 ~ So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?”    He denied it, saying, “I am not.” 

John 21:16 ~ Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” 

   Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

John 18:26-27 ~ One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow. 

John 21:17 ~ The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”   Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

   Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.


Words that timidly came out of him the first time he denied Jesus, were shouted by the third time.  The text in the book of Matthew states that by the third asking, Peter called curses down on himself.   Denial that he choked out the first time poured easily off the tongue by the third.

Denial that was born out of fear.  Fear of being caught.  Fear of the Roman soldiers.  Fear of discovery.


Jesus appears to the disciples after his resurrection as they were fishing.  After eating breakfast with them, he then questions Peter about his love.  This time Peter affirms his love three times.  Again, by the last time he is adamant in his response to Jesus' questioning.

Affirmation that is born out of faith.  Faith in the risen Lord.  Faith that Christ is who He said He was.  Faith in the discovery of truth.

Jesus gives Peter 3 assignments - feed his lambs, care for his sheep, feed his sheep and then in verse 19 a fourth assignment, "Follow me."  But this time he tells Peter exactly what he is in for...torture and death.  Yet, Peter chooses this way.  He deliberately and knowingly chooses the way of hardship. 

Peter was a changed man.  Changed by the death and resurrection of the Lord.  He was a man who Jesus said would be called "The Rock" and yet, he started out like a feather that is tossed around like the wind.

We can be changed too.  Following Jesus is hard and the road is not easy, but following him causes us to be changed for the better.  When we follow Him the way can be very difficult, but as we affirm who He is and what He has done in our lives, we grow and change like Peter.

When we follow Jesus, we are given an assignment.  We are not supposed to sit back and do nothing.  Christianity is not just about showing up to a religious service once a week.  It's not just speaking the words of affirmation, "I follow him."  It's actually going beyond your comfort zone and allowing him to change us.  Our desires, passions, and direction. 

Let's make sure that as we affirm that we love the Lord that we are truly following Him.  That we are choosing the way of the cross.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Healing Blood, Dangerous Blood, Beautiful Blood

"What's this one?" I asked as I stooped to pluck a small white flower.  We had moved into a new home and a lady from our church was pointing out different flowers to me.  I'm terrible at floral gardening and trying to remember all the names is always difficult.  As I pulled on the stem and root, a reddish substance came off on my hand.

"That's bloodroot. It always blooms in the spring, around Easter, and has reddish orange roots that twist and wind their way underground.  The flower opens with the light of day and closes as night falls.   If you break open the stem, a bloodlike fluid oozes out... hence the name blood root."

Bloodroot.  I thought it appropriate that it blooms during this time of the year.  A reminder of the sacrifice made for us.

Healing Blood ~

Bloodroot has multiple healing powers and has been used for bronchitis, extreme sore throats, and skin disorders. 

Christ's death and bleeding on the cross brings healing to us.  His resurrection heals us of the ultimate pain when we accept him.  His oozing wounds, dripped blood for my sins.

Isaiah 1:18 ~

"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD.  "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool."

Isaiah 53:5 ~

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.

Dangerous Blood

You have to be careful with bloodroot.  Taken in too high dosages or without proper supervision it is extremely dangerous and can cause death.

The shedding of Christ's blood is a dangerous issue because it involves change.  When we accept Him, he expects us to follow Him, even to suffering and death.  Death of ourselves, death of our desires, death of our selfishness.  Following Christ is not to be taken lightly.  In order to grow spiritually, you must die.

1 Peter 2:21-24 ~

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

“He committed no sin,
    and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”
 Christ's blood is dangerous.

Beautiful Blood.

Bloodroot has small white blossoms that open at the dawn of each day and close at dusk.  They are small petals, but there is a beauty about them.

Christ's broken body and shed blood is beautiful.  Beautiful because it whitewashes our sins when we confess them.  Beautiful because each drop of that dripping blood falls and cleans away each drop of my sin.  His bleeding out wipes away my tears and gives me hope.  His blood gives me purity.

Hebrews 9:14 ~

Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.

Healing blood.  Dangerous blood.  Beautiful blood.

Blood poured out for me.  Blood poured out for you.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Beautiful Thoughts

Ann Voskamp gets to the heart of things so much better than anyone I know anyway. 

Visit her at A Holy Experience for some inspiration today.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Week of Reflection: Fruitless or Fruitful?

Mark 11:12-25 (NLT) ~

The next morning as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. He noticed a fig tree in full leaf a little way off, so he went over to see if he could find any figs. But there were only leaves because it was too early in the season for fruit. Then Jesus said to the tree, “May no one ever eat your fruit again!” And the disciples heard him say it.
When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace.  He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”

When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him. But they were afraid of him because the people were so amazed at his teaching.

That evening Jesus and the disciples left the city.

The next morning as they passed by the fig tree he had cursed, the disciples noticed it had withered from the roots up. Peter remembered what Jesus had said to the tree on the previous day and exclaimed, “Look, Rabbi! The fig tree you cursed has withered and died!”

Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.  I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”

As Jesus and His disciples headed back to Jerusalem, they were hungry.  The day before had been an emotional one which involved crowds shouting and singing, "Hosanna!"  "Make way for the King of Israel!" 

In the distance they see a fig tree, and while it is not the season for figs, all indications show that there is probably fruit on it.  The fruit of the fig tree generally appears before the leaves and as this tree was in full leaf, it seemed as if it had produced early.  Yet, when they arrived, they found no fruit and Jesus cursed the tree.

Was he just having a bad day?  It would seem that way, given the fact that his very next act was to drive the money changers out of the temple in anger!  But that is not the case here.

The people of Israel, and especially the religious leaders, followed the letter of the law.  They claimed to be holy and righteous and fruitful, yet they were utterly blind to who Jesus was.  Worse, they took advantage of the poor and needy in the name of their religion.  Coming and sacrificing at the temple involved bringing an animal for sacrifice.  The poorest generally had no animal to bring and were able to purchase small doves and birds to use.  But the money changers were overcharging, burdening an already impoverished people. 

And this caused Jesus to weep over the city.  The absolute lostness of people who had been chosen by God broke his heart. 

How about us?  As Christians, are we claiming to be fruitful when in fact, we are barren and fruitless?  How many times do we go to church, open our mouths in worship and then turn around and show very little compassion to our neighbors, friends, family and coworkers?  Are we putting on a show with full, leafy branches but bear zero fruit in our life?

As we focus on the death and resurrection this week, let's not make Christ's sacrifice meaningless.  And it becomes meaningless when we refuse to change.  When we continue to go our own selfish way and disregard his teaching. When we remain fruitless it dwindles from a riveting, life-changing moment in history to just a nice story that we recall once a year.

Christ's sacrifice on the cross should cause us to live changed lives.  Fruitful lives.  Lives
poured out for Him.

This week I'm thankful for blessings #2001-2015.

2001.  Seeing my daughter's beautiful smile.

2002.  Reflecting on Christ's sacrifice.

2003.  The power of water from melting ice.

2004.  Gorgeous, glorious, warm temperatures the past few days.  It hit 82 degrees yesterday.

2005.  A son who works hard and keeps getting back up when knocked down.

2006.  The desire to cook, clean, sew and be active coming back after a very long winter.

2007.  The wonderful flavors of tomatoes, basil, garlic and cheese, blending together.

2008.  A wonderful worship service yesterday.

2009.  Walking with my husband.

2010.  A backyard visitor.

2011.  Birds serenading me.

2012.  The ability to pray with a friend.

2013.  4 Etsy sales this week.

2014.  A wonderful place to sit outdoors.

And finally...

2015.  Trying to live a fruitful life.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Week of Reflection: Mob Mentality

Matthew 21:8-11 ~

Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting,

“Praise God for the Son of David!
    Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
    Praise God in highest heaven!”

The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked.

And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Praises filled the air.  Shouts of joy.  Cloaks,  branches, and hands shook in the air.  The sound was deafening as the crowd shouted and cheered.

Matthew 27:20-23 ~ 

Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. So the governor asked again, “Which of these two do you want me to release to you?”
The crowd shouted back, “Barabbas!”

Pilate responded, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
They shouted back, “Crucify him!”

“Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”

But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”

Curses filled the air.  Shouts of anger.  Fists shook in the air.  The sound was deafening as the crowd cursed and jeered.


The crowd who just days earlier had jumped up and down, shouting and praising Jesus as the Messiah were now shouting for his crucifixion.   The mob surged first with joy, and then with anger.

Mob mentality.  How many people in the first mob that were praising Jesus didn't really believe he was the Savior?  Likewise, how many people in the second mob went home and wept at the things they had raged.  How many in that crowd felt sickened at the consequences of their behavior?  How many regretted their words?

Yet, Jesus asked his Father to forgive them.  He wept for them.  He bled for them.  He suffered for them.  He died for them.

He died for that mob.  He died for you.  He died for me.

What is our response to this?  Do we continue to follow the mob and ignore him?  Mock him?  Deny him? Or do we break away from mob mentality and turn to him?  Follow him?  Live for him?

Today is Palm Sunday.  Those very palms that were waving on Sunday, called for his death on Friday.

How often have we followed the mob?  Denied him?  Kept quiet when we should have spoken up?  Talked when we should have kept quiet? 

As you wave those branches today, ask yourself, "Will I call for his crucifixion on Friday?"  "Will I deny him out of fear?"  "Will I follow the crowd?"

My prayer is that we will break free from the mob and walk the way of the cross.  The way of Jesus.  The way of life.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Frugal Friday

We moved to our new home on December 21st in the middle of winter in north Central New York.  So needless to say, I've not done much exploring outside besides walking between the parsonage and church.

However, this week the temperatures warmed up and I'm finding all sorts of little jewels hidden here or there.  The previous pastor's wife, whom I knew from school, was a gardener.  There are many flowers planted all around the house and I can't wait to figure out what they are.

I also discovered that she had a little herb garden next to the house and I can already see the sage and dill from last year.  There is a large garden bed behind our shed and though it's smaller than what I usually plant, it's a start.  I also found that she planted strawberries behind the shed and am looking forward to picking those.  There are also a number of blackberry bushes in the field behind us.  Can't wait until they are ripe and I can make some jam. 

There are so many possibilities here.  She also had an enclosed ompost pile and now that the weather is warmer I can start that up again.  Just seeing the sun and feeling warmer temperatures makes me feel like I'm coming alive.

Here are some of the frugal things I've done this past week.

$ I went to a ladies retreat last weekend and the theme for our group this year is "Let's Have Coffee."  The tables in the ballroom were decorated with a simple decorations and one of them was a mason jar full of coffee beans with battery powered candles.  The person in charge of decorating asked if I would like the coffee beans when we were done.  Ummm......YES!  There were 36 tables.  I ended up with 4 gallon sized bags full of beans, as well as the small bag they originally came in.  I shared 2 with a fellow pastor's wife.  The rest are in my freezer to be used here or at church.

$ I also came home with the squares of burlap that were also used to decorate the table.  Some crafty things are floating around my brain.

$ We received a tax refund which allowed us to pay off four hefty medical bills.  We had so many wonderful plans with the rest of it but alas, because my husband is a pastor and considered self-employed, the rest went to pay our quarterly taxes for 2014.  Grrrrr!!!!!

$ Curtailed a major urge to go out to eat and made delicious meals at home.

$ Had a craft and book table at the retreat and did very well there this time. 

$ Cut my husband and son's hair.

$ Order DVD's from the library.  Just to interject here.  We don't have cable hook-up and get no stations here.  We do have a DVD player and will get a few favorite shows or movies from the library. 

$ My husband is a pastor but also tutors for the local school system.  His student's mother sent him home with a gallon sized freezer bag of frozen garlic bulbs the other day.  We use garlic in EVERYTHING so this gift made me smile.

Those are my frugal offerings today.  For more inspiration, go check out Rebecca's blog!