Friday, February 27, 2015

Frugal Friday


Elise Boulding ~

“Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.”


Dan and I have lived fairly simply since we were first married.  Some of it started through necessity.  We were newlyweds and Dan was in seminary.  We had no money.  Problem solved. :-)

But over the years, it grew to be a lifestyle that we chose.  We have not been enamored with the latest gadgets or having to have a bigger and better anything.  We chose contentment with material things.  We didn't own a cell phone until this past year.  Our cars have generally been hand-me-downs or used.  Our television was a hand-me-down until Nathan bought us one this past Christmas.  Almost every stick of furniture in our house was given to us.  We just haven't felt the need to have brand new items.

It certainly makes for a much more content life.  I'm content with our little home with it's mismatched furniture.  I'd rather be focused on the people in my life than worry about obtaining things.

It's enjoyable for me to try and make Dan's paycheck stretch.  It's a pleasure to made delicious meals with a few fresh ingredients.  I enjoy the challenge of being creative on a shoestring budget. 

BUT, there are ways that we are not frugal.  There are ways that we are spendthrifts and I would not change that for anything.

$ God always gets the first of each paycheck.  Not just with his paycheck from the church but also any of the extras we get - gifts, income tax return, side jobs, and no matter if we get paid check or cash.  We make a point of making sure that our tithe is the first thing that gets paid each month even if we have to put off something else.  And guess what?  He always provides and our bills always get paid.  We've made a point of this throughout our married lives, no matter how small the paycheck and how big the other bills.

$ We make sure we are honest in our financial dealings.  We don't take money under the table.  Every single sale I get, even if it's cash, I keep a record of it.  If we can't be honest in our financial dealings, how do we expect the Lord to bless us?

$ We open our home to others regularly.  We share what we have and don't worry about skimping.  Again, we always have enough and the Lord always seems to provide extra.

$ We are generous with our time.  We try to be available to people; both in our church and outside it.  If someone needs us, and we are able to, we make time for them.

Some of these have come naturally to us and some we've learned to do over the years.  My point is being frugal does not mean you have to be stingy.  The point of being frugal is to free up your mind from being preoccupied with things to be able to invest in what really matters which is people.  Being frugal frees up your money and resources to invest in the things that count.

And that is when you truly will be able to do more with less.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Let's Have a Party!


I love planning a party.  I have the gift of hospitality and love having people over.  One of the things I really miss about our last church is the annual New Year's Eve open house that Dan & I hosted.  There was always a good sized crowd, lots of laughter and great fellowship.  There was never anything planned as far as activities but just a group of people enjoying one another.  It wasn't just people from church but local friends and there was always a large group of Nathan's friends from the fire department too. 

In this area we moved to there seems to be many more people with family nearby so New Year's Eve is not the best time for this.  So we decided to have one at the end of February and in fact, it's this Saturday.  The winters are long and hard here so it's a good time to get a group of people together.  I'm looking forward to it.  Last year, we had one around the same time and it was well attended. People can stop by any time between 1-5 p.m. and stay as long or as short as they like.

So I'm in party planning mode and have been putting together a list of foods that I'll be working on the next two days.

A few people asked what they could bring so I'll have some things to fill in what I have here.  I grew up in the Catskills and the food was always good, but fairly simple - plain meat and potatoes or casseroles.  I do love all different foods and dishes and often cook that way.  But the foods here are similar to how I grew up so I'm keeping it fairly simple.  If I start getting fancy, I'll end up with tons of leftovers! :-)

I'm making the following items.

A big pot of chili
Stromboli
Bruschetta with capers and black olives (as different as I'll get - lol)
Vegetable platter with spinach dip
Parmesan pita crisps with hummus
Chips and dip
3 kinds of cookies - lemon tea tots, coconut lime sugar cookies, molasses crinkles
Chocolate chip cake brownies

Of course there will also be soda, punch, as well as tea and coffee.

I'm looking forward to a fun afternoon with friends and fellowship!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

Hebrews 10:23 ~ 

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful."

Sweat poured from my brow.  Arms and legs trembled uncontrollably.  Fear gripped me as I clung to the face of the cliff.  What had been an enjoyable day of rock climbing for the first time with college friends had turned into a nightmare as I had unwittingly drifted to a part of the cliff that was meant for expert climbers.  At over 100 feet in the air I was terrified of falling.


Finally, my body could not hold on any longer and I had to let go.  I fell, but only about a foot because of the rope that was attached to my body and the cliff face.  I was frightened and shaken, but safe.  That rope was my lifeline which kept me from falling and seriously injuring myself, or even plunging to my death.

If I had trusted the rope, knowing I wouldn’t fall, I could have rested a bit before it got to the point that it was impossible to hold on.  However, I was afraid and didn’t believe what my friends tried to tell me. 

God is our lifeline as well.  His promises are the thing we can cling to that will keep us safe.  Yet, how often do we doubt Him?  Do you wonder if God will really do what He says? Are you fearful that He won’t be there when you need Him?   Do you waiver in your faith?  Do you rely on your own strength?

It’s easy for that to happen, especially if we don’t see answers to our questions and concerns right away. I know that there have been times when I start to waiver in my own faith.  I know God’s promises.  I’ve seen Him act time and time again, yet there are times when I still feel afraid.  There are times when I try to do solve things with my own strength. 

This verse gives us assurance that the Lord is faithful. If He promises something, He will do it.  We need to cling to the lifeline that He gives us.  We need trust His promises and keep our eyes fixed on Him. 

He is faithful.  He will not let us fall.  He will do what He says.   

Our part is to trust and hold tightly to our hope in Christ!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Colorless

 
I'm trying very hard not to whine about the cold and snow but it's difficult!  My view every day is a blur of white.  No color; no change and no end.
 
So I'm looking to find color where I can and just pray that at the end of winter, I haven't totally lost my mind and gone batty! :-)
 
Lightly browned dinner rolls, straight from the oven.  Yes, I realize those aren't that colorful, nor would I want them to be!
 
 
Color on my cutting board.

 
 
Color from my sewing table.
 

The rare times I get flowers or can purchase them myself.  My last bunch died and I think it's time to head to Aldi! ;-)


I'm dreaming of these days......


But for now, I have this....


It's been nice knowing you all.  (Just joking).  But I did see this little meme the other day which made me burst out laughing.


The end will come. (I hope).

Monday, February 23, 2015

Silence is Golden


Matthew 7:1-5 (TLB) ~

“Don’t criticize, and then you won’t be criticized. For others will treat you as you treat them. And why worry about a speck in the eye of a brother when you have a board in your own? Should you say, ‘Friend, let me help you get that speck out of your eye,’ when you can’t even see because of the board in your own? Hypocrite! First get rid of the board. Then you can see to help your brother.

I have read this passage a thousand times and I always nod and say, "Yes, these are good words."  "People shouldn't judge."  Or to make it more personal, "I shouldn't judge."  Yet, it seems I do that quite a bit more than I think I do.

Yesterday, I got my nose knocked out of joint and came home to lick my wounds.  It all started because I made a truthful observation but my timing was terrible and it was not received well.  I didn't think I was being judgmental, but as I've been mulling over this, the Holy Spirit has been nudging me.  One of the ways He did that was through the wise words of my husband. 

As I poured out my frustration to him, Dan asked me, "Why did you have to say anything?"  "Why can't you just make sure you have the right attitude and not worry about anyone else?"  OUCH!  And yes, then I was annoyed at him but as I thought about it, I realized he was right. 

The only person I am responsible for is me.  The only one the Lord asks me to change is me.  The only one I will have to answer for when I stand before Him one day is me.  It's up to the Lord to convict and change others and unless they specifically ask me for help or advice, I should keep my thoughts to myself.  My only "job" in the church is to make sure I am hearing from the Lord and have the right attitude.  It's not up to me to be the Holy Spirit to others.

I truly want to honor the Lord and yet, even when I think I'm doing the right thing, I often make a mess.  And it's because I make judgments and criticisms all the time.  I point the finger.  I take more time mulling over the speck in someone else's eye when I should be taking care of the log in my eye.  I am a Pharisee.

I asked for forgiveness but the damage was done.  And the Holy Spirit woke me up in the middle of the night so I could wrestle with these things.  I'm broken and feeling contrite.  I'm praying that my lesson is learned.  I'm moving forward and hoping forgiveness is extended.  But I've learned something else.

Silence really can be golden.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

My Heart

Sixteen years ago we were told that our unborn baby might not live past the first year.  A chromosome test came back positive for Trisomy 18.  This chromosome disorder causes babies to be born with deformities of their major organs and most die.  Yet, we chose to trust God and believe that no matter what, He would help us face it.  And God was faithful.  Emily was born a healthy 8 lb., 15 oz. girl.

 
Her life has been one of overcoming.  Within the first year we discovered she had multiple, life-threatening allergies to both food and environmental things.  Anyone who has dealt with a child in the midst of a full-blown, anaphylactic reaction knows how frightening that can be.  I remember riding in the back of an ambulance with her, watching her face and eyes swell to the point that she looked monstrous and hearing her gasp for breath and praying that she would be okay.


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Hard times have been part of her life but rather than let them break her, she has grown and stretched and become mature.  Trials and struggles have shaped her and even though they have been very difficult to deal with, they have made her who she is.  She has been in the midst of a few traumatic experiences that many will never have to face yet she persevered through them.  In fact, if I could sum up her life in two words they would be strength and joy.

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She struggles when she feels hurt and when she messes up, she is so repentant.  Her heart breaks when she realizes she has done the wrong thing.  She stays sad for quite a while and I miss the joy in her.  I do know that these tough things are ways we learn and God uses our mistakes to change us and shape us into His image.
 
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Emily will be 16 years old this May.  It's so hard to believe that my little one will be leaving the nest in a few short years.  I'm so proud of the young lady she has become and we love her.  She does indeed have my heart.


Friday, February 20, 2015

The Only Love Letter I Will Ever Need

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I woke with a crushing weight on my chest and a lump in my throat.  Those same old emotions of fear, insecurity, and anxiety threaten to cripple me.  It seems as if I'll never be rid of this burden and struggle. 
 
How many times can I feel inadequate?  How often will I allow others' opinions to shape how I view myself?  How is it that I can have all the head knowledge in the world and yet, still feel not good enough and overwhelmed with insecurity? How many times will I struggle with my own view of myself which gets projected on how I think others view me?
 
As I opened my Bible to read this morning, this reminder jumped out at me.
 
Romans 8:31-39 (HCSB) ~
 
What then are we to say about these things?
If God is for us, who is against us?


Even if all the world thinks I'm not enough, God is on my side.
 
He did not even spare His own Son
but offered Him up for us all;
how will He not also with Him grant us everything?


He did this for me.  He allowed His Son to be killed so I, Terri Groh, could have life.  What does this say about how much He values me?
 
Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect?
God is the One who justifies.
Who is the one who condemns?


What does it matter what other people think of me?  Their opinion counts as nothing because the only opinion I should be concerned about is God's.
 
Christ Jesus is the One who died,
but even more, has been raised;
He also is at the right hand of God
and intercedes for us.


I have one who intercedes on my behalf.
 
Who can separate us from the love of Christ?
Can affliction or anguish or persecution
or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?


Not one single thing in this life, no matter how bad, can separate us from Christ's love.  Nothing.
 
As it is written:
  Because of You
we are being put to death all day long;
we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered.
  No, in all these things we are more than victorious
through Him who loved us.


I am not just victorious, but more than victorious.  My life has purpose and meaning and I am more than my trials.  I can rise above them and live a full, meaningful life despite the struggles.

   For I am persuaded that not even death or life,
angels or rulers,
things present or things to come, hostile powers,
   height or depth, or any other created thing
will have the power to separate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!


Nothing I face will ever separate me from God's love.  Not the smallest struggle to the greatest tragedy.  His love never fails.
 
That thought encourages me today and I hope it encourages you.