Friday, August 18, 2017

Frugal Friday

When I made the decision to come home and be a full-time mom, I had to be frugal in order to make ends meet.  But I do have to say there was a certain lightness and freedom that came with being my own boss.  I could do what I want, when I wanted to and how I wanted to do it.  As I learned to be frugal, and our expenses became less, that brought a different type of liberty.  The freedom of getting out of debt, which we were able to do for quite a while.

Right now, we do carry some debt.  Some of it is because we are still paying off one of our cars.  Some of it is because we are paying on a loan we had to take out because of Stephen's school bill last year.  Some of it was because of unexpected expenses that we had to use the credit card for.  So we are once again working to get out of debt.  

When you can cut your costs, stop purchasing and work at being frugal, it does bring freedom.  I've been on both sides of the coin and I have to say the debt-free side is so much nicer.  So I am doing my best to help us get where we need to be.  I love the above quote because when you are frugal and can get that debt paid off the freedom that comes is indescribable!

Some ways I've saved this week:

$ I continue to make almost everything from scratch.  It certainly is cheaper and you know exactly what ingredients you are using.  This morning I got up and started the dough for challah bread.  

$ I continue to barter with my hairdresser.  I'm giving her teens a couple of cooking lessons, plus I do any sewing she needs.

$ I've been hanging clothes out on the line instead of using the dryer.  It saves the church from that higher electric bill each month.

$ I went to the farmer's market on Saturday and for $52 got the following.  Prices have definitely gone up from last year but that is because the crops haven't been as good from all the rain we have had this summer.

$ While we rarely eat jelly or jam, I do continue to make it because they make wonderful gifts.

$  Emily passed her driver's test yesterday and now has a license.  Dan called the insurance company and for whatever reason (probably because she is a girl and won't have the car at college), our insurance premium is staying the same. 

$ Dan has been paying extra each month on the car loan so that it will get paid off sooner.  We should be done with it in December!  Nathan makes his own car payment and Dan has him do the same on his loan.

$ I really, really haven't felt like cooking much this week BUT have pushed myself to do it because it's such a waste of money to eat out when I can make a meal that is just as good for a fraction of the cost and have leftovers. 

Some of the meals we've had this week:
Roast pork with apple jelly glaze, roasted potatoes and steamed green beans
Hamburgers on the grill with corn on the cobb and German potato salad
Macaroni & cheese with a tossed salad
Chicken with stuffing, corn salad (from the leftover corn on the cobb)
Stir fry chicken with vegetables (onion, garlic, celery, fennel, carrots, eggplant and kale) over rice.

Lunches are generally leftovers.  So as you can see, we've had healthy meals for less.  Tonight will be a challenge because the fridge is bare, but since I'm shopping tomorrow I will come up with something.

$  Made my own laundry detergent.

So that's my frugal offering for the week.  How have you been doing?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Moment When You Realize You've Done Some Things Well



I might as well warn you now that over the next few weeks, some of these posts are going to be more reflective.  With my youngest heading off in just 7 days, I have spent so much time in looking back at my life as a mother.  

The summer months mean that I spend a lot of time both outdoors and in my kitchen, canning.  And that means I have a lot of time to reflect and think.  As I've been sitting on my deck in the early mornings reading and praying, and then working in my kitchen, pounding cabbage into sauerkraut and making umpteen jars of jam, I have been reflecting much about my children.

When the doctor put that little body into my arms I never knew how much a child could change your life.  The love that overwhelmed me for each one is not something that can be described.  From the moment that I first looked in those beautiful eyes something changed within myself.  There was an immediate connection that could never be broken.  

Every emotion, tear, joy and sorrow that my children face, I feel.  They are the only ones I know that can cause me such anxiety and worry, and they are the only ones I know that can cause such pride.  

I made the choice to try and stay home with my children and other than a few times here or there, I have done that consistently.  I have worked hard to be available for them, though to be honest, I haven't always done that so well.  

But as Emily goes off to college, I can say that I have no regrets about being a stay-at-home mom. Throughout the years I've gotten the impression from some that I should be doing some sort of "real" work, but I've considered raising my kids a job in and of itself.  

And I'm grateful for my choices when I've heard gratitude from my children.  That has made it very worthwhile.  We've had to sacrifice many material things in order for me to be able to do this, but both Dan and I have felt that it was what was best for our family.

I'm probably going to bawl all the way home when we drop Emily off next Thursday. I have to say that I am anxious that she is going to a state university, as opposed to the small Christian college that Stephen attends.  She is facing things that I would rather have her not face.  But I also know that we have worked hard to teach her.  We have had many discussions about situations she may face.  We have entrusted all of our children to the Lord and she has to make her own decisions. And she has a very good head on her shoulders.  

Multiple times a day she comes and hugs me and says, "I'm going to miss you!"  So she isn't making this easy on me (smile) but, I am so very thankful that we are close.  I am so thankful that my men also aren't afraid to say, "I love you." either. All three of them talk to us about everything. So as I reflect back, despite all our mistakes (and there are many), there were things that I think we've done well.

And for that I'm grateful.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

Dan and I went for a walk on Monday and I brought my camera along.  I was taking pictures of different things and this was one of the pictures.  When I loaded them onto my computer this morning and looked at them on a larger screen, I noticed that its wings were tattered and torn.

Surprisingly, a butterfly can continue to fly with up to 75% of its wings torn.  Their wings do not repair themselves or grow back and yet, they can continue to function.  It's a good thing too because if they couldn't, they would be an easy lunch for predators.

We too can sustain considerable damage as humans and still function.  We have a great capacity to persevere despite the hurt we feel.  We have a wonderful resilience to spring back up when we've been knocked down.  And for that I'm thankful.  

I am also thankful that God can actually mend those wounds and the brokenness in our life.  Unlike a butterfly that must continue on with torn and tattered wings, we can be healed from our wounds. I have known so many people that have come from places in their lives of extreme brokenness and have been healed from those emotional wounds.

Because of Christ's death and resurrection we can be whole again.  He provided a way for our healing.  He took our punishment upon himself so that we would have hope and a future.  Because of His sacrifice, we no longer have to be tattered and torn.  And that is wonderful news for us all!

Isaiah 53:3-5 (NLT) ~

He was despised and rejected—
    a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
    He was despised, and we did not care.
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
    it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
    a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion,
    crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
    He was whipped so we could be healed.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Dan and I decided to go for a walk yesterday at one of our favorite new places. It's a state park with two lakes that have connecting trails that go around both lakes and other places in the park system.  Some of the trails are flat and easy and others are rougher.  Because my knee is still healing we chose the flat trails around the lakes, but did actually go around both of them for a total of 3 miles.

I overdid it a bit because my knee was hurting and I was limping at the end, but it feels so good to be doing some sort of exercise and also being out in nature.  I have to say that I feel so frustrated at times because I know that losing weight will help my knees but the thing that I need to do in order to lose it, I can't do because of my knees.  UGH!!! 

I'm trying to push through the pain a bit in order to at least start.  It's not the walking straight ahead motion that hurts, but any little variation of a side to side motion makes the ligament screech with pain.  Yesterday, I had a wet leaf and bit of mud on my sneaker and I went to scrape my foot off on a rock without thinking and the little sideways motion made me jump.  Ouch!  It's just one of those injuries that is going to take a long time to heal. 

One of the reasons we love to walk is because it is a way we connect with each other.  We talk as we walk about all sorts of things - our lives, our children, our marriage and our ministry.  We both always come away feeling closer with each other.  So it's been more than a little frustrating that I've been so limited on what I can do.

I so wish it were closer so I could go there multiple times during the week.  It's definitely a beautiful spot.  I jokingly told Dan yesterday that the only bad thing there is everyone else seems to think the same way because there are many people there.  I mean being out in nature should be a solitary thing, don't you think?  ;-)

I'd love to get out and walk somewhere today but Dan has a meeting he's off to at our district office and I'm headed out early this afternoon to give a cooking lesson to a friend's teens.  Tomorrow will have to do!

Have a wonderful day, my friends!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Multitude Monday

"God doesn't call the qualified."  "He qualifies the called."

From a human standpoint, I am the least qualified to work in ministry.  I am full of anxiety and insecurity. I struggle with impatience and pride.  I wish I was less impulsive.  I often lie awake at night, in tears, as I replay every mistake I've made that day.  There are days that I think I made huge errors in judgment and wish I had made different choices as far as choosing a major and what I've actually done with my life.  

Yet, I also know God doesn't always call those who are qualified.  As He works in a person's life, they begin to develop skills and qualities that qualify them for the task He has called them to do.  

I am a work in progress and while I wish I were leaps and bounds ahead of where I actually am, I know that God will continue to work in me to change those things that are unlovely.  He will walk beside me as I walk along the path laid out for me.  He will gently correct me, lovingly encourage me, and lift me up when I stumble and fall.

I am not perfect and there are times when I really don't like me, but I also know that the Lord will continue to work in me because He has called me.  And that brings me great thankfulness and joy today.

This week I'm thankful for blessings, 3076 - 3084.

3076. I'm thankful that I'm learning to let my children go into God's hands.  My greatest anxieties center around them, but I know that I need to let them struggle through things so they'll develop maturity and trust in the Lord.

3077.  A release of stress that I felt after I let some things go that were pushing me from my normal busy into too busy.

3078.  Being able to be a bit more active as my knee allows.  I was given the clearance to walk as I can.  I do notice that I still have to be careful because any bit of twisting motion, causes the ligament to flare-up. So I am thankful for those reminders our nerves send us when we need to slow it down.

3079.  All kinds of goodies coming out of my kitchen.

3080.  The simple things in life, such as cabbage and salt which turn into sauerkraut.

3081.  Emily goes off to college on the 24th which is a little over a week away.  The realization makes me get very weepy, but I am so thankful for the beautiful young woman she has become both inside and out.  I'm thankful for the privilege of being a mother and the joy it has brought me.  It'll be hard to see my youngest leave, but I know she will do great.

3082.  Our church family.  We had a barbecue after church yesterday and it was wonderful to see the love and camaraderie we all have for each other.  The church is growing and there are many new people there.  It's a beautiful group of people.

3083.  God continues to make a way where we can see no way.  I'm thankful for that.

and finally...

3084.  God's continued work in my life.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Faith-filled Risks

(Jordan River at flood stage)

The river was raging, at its flood stage.  Ten to twelve feet deep, and rushing swiftly enough to knock a man off his feet and sweep him away.  Lungs would fill very quickly with dirty, muddy water and if drowning didn't occur, then very possibly death would occur because of the battering of his body against the stones.

This was the condition of the Jordan River when God told the priests to step into it with the ark of the covenant.  He told Joshua, the new leader of the Israelites, that he would lead the people safely to the other side.  But God didn't dry up the river until the first man put his foot into the water. 

How would you like to be that man?

Could God have caused the river to dry up so the priests could see that they would be safe before they stepped in?  Absolutely.  But He wanted them to follow Him.  To step out in faith.  To believe that He would do what He said.

The priests had to fully commit.  There was no halfway.  There is no gentle sloping of the bank of the Jordan.  They couldn't gradually dip their toes in and then wade in slowly.  The bank drops off sharply.  They had to plunge into the torrent.  There was no turning back.

And it's the same for us today.  Sometimes God shows us what He is going to do ahead of time, but often He wants us to step into the raging river and trust that He will stop the flood.  Faith-filled risks are what the Christian life is about at times. 

As you listen to the Holy Spirit and feel His nudge to move in a particular direction, you may have to step into the raging river.  You may have to blindly follow God and believe that He will do what He said.  You have to trust what you know you have heard God tell you to do.  

Is God telling you to step into the torrent?  Does He want you to trust Him in a particular area of your life?  Perhaps it's starting a new job or ministry.  Maybe it's trusting Him in tithing.  Perhaps it's following Him to a new country or land to do His work?  

Can you trust Him even if you can't see the other side of the bank?  Trust Him.  Follow Him.  Step out in faith.  Don't dabble your toes in the current.  If you are committed to following God, that may mean plunging into the current.  Step into the river and see what He can do.

Take that faith-filled risk today!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Frugal Friday

I've been reflecting back and trying to figure out when my love for simple things came about, but I can't remember a time when I wasn't like this.  I do remember working as a public relations director for a company where I had to go to these large conferences and attend black-tie affairs. I would go with a friend and purchase fancy dresses and jewelry and while I was at these events, I totally felt like a fish out of water.  It was so far out of my comfort zone that I didn't really enjoy myself.

When we lived in the inner city, I gardened and hung my clothes to dry and made all my own breads and desserts and lived very simply.  I was always drawn to people who did the same.  I had a friend from Germany who lived in the city and we would have steaming cups of tea while our children played together and we chatted about household things.  My landlady at the time was from Yugoslavia and from her I learned things about gardening and housekeeping and baking.  I look back on those times with such fond memories.

So simplicity has always been part of me and that just naturally flowed into being frugal.  I don't need a lot.  I'm happy with using things up, wearing things out, making do and doing without.  It's a challenge for me. And in this day and age of technology, I keep motivated by reading about others who do the same.  Which is why I do this Frugal Friday post every so often; to encourage others who want to do the same.

This week I've saved in the following ways:

$ I've been going to the regional market each week and this week I spent $56 on the following: a block of muenster-jack cheese from a friend's booth (his parents own a cheese store and he is always at the market), 2 basil plants, 1 very large bunch of kale, 1 basket of lettuce, 1/4 lb. baby spinach, 1 bulb of fennel, 4 large onion, 1 quart of cherry tomatoes, 15 small tomatoes, 1 quart blueberries, 1 basket green beans, 2 bunches (about 20 stalks) of rhubarb, 3 bunches of carrots, 2 cucumbers.

$ I didn't waste the carrot tops and have been feeding them to Emily's rabbit this week.  The greens are great for rabbits, but on a side note, rabbits should not eat a lot of carrots.  The sugar content is too high so give them sparingly to them. 

$ I knew I wasn't going to use all that kale up this week so some went into last night's dinner and the rest was cut into bite size pieces and I put it in a freezer bag and into the freezer.  It will go into soups and stews.

$ I took blackberries to my neighbor the other night and they ended up giving me a quart of blueberries in return.  They then told me to come and pick their blueberries the next day as their freezer was full and the plants were still producing.  I went over on Monday afternoon and picked 3 quarts which I froze in 4 cup portions for pies and other goodies.

$ The blackberry bushes are producing nicely this year and I've been picking, freezing and sharing.  I have about 5 quarts in the freezer at the moment.

$ We had roast chicken one night and I turned the leftover chicken into chicken with gravy over biscuits.  I then took the carcass and made 4 quarts of chicken broth.

$ As I mentioned yesterday, I've had to change my plans for the fall.  Because I dropped out of the class I will be getting that initial payment back.  

$ Emily and I went to get her some clothes for college. Clothes shopping is one of the worst things for me!  I hate the mall, but one of the stores we've discovered is a consignment shop there that has name brand clothing for a fraction of the cost. It's great quality stuff. She was able to get 4 tops there for $18.  She also found a Coach bag there for $17.

That's it this week.  Today, I'm going to be making a batch of laundry detergent and a batch of soap.  I also need to come up with a plan for dinner that will use up some of the veggies I have in there.  I'm thinking stir-fry.  

How have you saved this week?