Monday, January 16, 2017

Multitude Monday

So often I look at the negative side of everything and that becomes my focus.  Or I think thanksgiving comes from the many positives and blessings in my life.  And it is true, that it is easy to be thankful for the good things.

But what about when things aren't going well?  Can you be thankful then?  Can you look at those hard times or inconveniences and truly be thankful?  I'm working on doing that though not always successfully.  My initial response isn't always to be thankful but instead, to whine and complain and throw a temper tantrum.

But I do know that being a negative Nellie is only going to make things worse.  I also know that making my list does help me to see things through a different lens, so this week I'm counting again.  I've been doing it for a couple of years and it's been a very helpful exercise.

This week I'm thankful for blessings #2857 - 2870.

2857.  Stephen was diagnosed with Lyme's Disease right after Christmas.  This is a terrible disease caused by a tick bite, and untreated can be quite dangerous.  However, I'm so thankful that 1) he was home during this time where his own doctor could see him and I could care for him, and 2) he is feeling better. 

2858.  Finances are always tight, yet as we work to cut expenses, we can see how God keeps providing for us.  I'm thankful for the generosity of our church family.  We received a gift at Christmas time which helped us tremendously.

2859.  The month of January has been terrible in the shop.  Last week I had one customer the whole week.  But I'm thankful that I have enough money to pay my rent.  I also had some bread sales which help.  I also have had quiet time to work on ministry items that need to get done.

Now for the positive:

2860.  A huge, beautiful full moon the other night that lifted my spirits.

2861.  A full house for worship yesterday, including new visitors.

2862. Stephen preached yesterday and did a great job.  We've seen him grow in this area the more opportunities he gets and he spoke well yesterday.  In fact, someone told me yesterday afternoon that his sermon challenged them.

2863.  A friend who is coming to help me stuff envelopes today.

2864.  A friend from church who changed our thermostat for us. 

2865.  A landlord at the shop who fixes things immediately.

2866.  My husband who makes sure my car is always in working order and full of gas.  I take that for granted sometimes.  Yesterday, he got in the car and said, "It's almost empty!"  I didn't even pay attention because I'm so used to him doing that. 

2867.  Our worship team who enjoy making music together and do it with a lot of laughter.

2869.   Warmer weather with some sunshine.  Since we only get a handful of sunny days in the winter here this is something I really appreciate!

and finally...

2870.  Being thankful for even the negatives.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Frugal Friday

I haven't done a Frugal Friday post in a very long time.  My life has been so busy and I'm finding that unless I plan ahead, being frugal won't happen.  The biggest downfall area is in the kitchen because if I don't plan we end up going out to eat or buying last minute, expensive convenience foods.  Even though some days it seems as if I don't have time to breathe, let alone plan, we've been doing pretty well.  My food bill has gone up some but that's because Stephen is home from college and he can pack away the food! :-)

Over the past few weeks, here are some ways I've saved.

$ Other than one purchase of some Valentine's Day fabric, I have not bought fabric or craft supplies.  I am working hard to use what I have and make do. 

$ One area for me as a shop owner that could add up is window displays.  When I first opened, one of my vendors gave me a huge box full of Christmas decorations and I was able to use that to decorate through the first week in January.  I have an aversion to having to center everything around one day (Valentine's Day) but that is the life of owning a retail store.  So I managed to come up with a window display from items I already had and a bit of creativity.  It's not perfect, but I think it turned out cute.

$ As always, I cut my guys' hair. 

$ I use up every bit of what I make - leftovers for lunch the next day, a bit of broth gets used in something else, bread that doesn't get used is made into bread crumbs and frozen for later use, bits of veggies into stir fry meals.

$ Last night I came home from the shop and opened the refrigerator door.  It was looking bare because I need to go grocery shopping.  I was out of meat, there were only a few veggies, a hunk of parmesan cheese, a can of diced tomatoes and 2 lbs. of pasta.  After realizing I had a bit of pepperoni in the freezer, as well as eggplant that I sliced and froze this summer, I came up with a plan.  I SOOOOOOOOOOOO wanted to call and order a pizza or something but instead within 30 minutes, I came up with this dish.  Everyone loved it and it cost next to nothing to make.

$  I received my first electric bill from the shop and it was high!  The place isn't very well insulated (you can feel cold air coming through the outlets - lol) and it's hard to keep it warm.  But I'm going to be proactive and do some things that hopefully will lower it.  One thing is to wear warmer clothing so I can keep it turned down a bit more.  Also I'm putting long curtains on the back window which will help a bit.  My landlord also came and installed another baseboard heater so hopefully that will warm it up quicker.

For the winter months I've also cut back on my shop hours. We live in a very snowy area and many shops close for the winter.  Just the other day, I saw a diner was closed until spring which makes me think given the low amount of customers I've had in January that I could have taken the month off!  That would certainly save on the electric.  However, it's a work in progress and I need to see the pattern before I make any major decisions.

$ Because it's been slow at the shop, I'm working on other venues for sales.  I'm updating my Etsy shop and I need to set up my website shop so people can purchase there as well. 

Anyway, frugal living is certainly an ongoing and constantly evolving process.  But I feel good when I can keep our costs low.  Our main goal is to pay off debt and so that involves the tightening of belts!

I hope the small things I do encourages you as well!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

Psalm 42:11 ~

Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God!

This has been a tough week for many and it's easy to give way to discouragement, anxiety and even fear.  I know some of you are dealing with family issues, the loss of loved ones, financial problems, and so much more.  I love reading through the Psalms because many times the words there are exactly what I am feeling at the moment.  They seem to speak to the situation I'm in at the moment.

This morning when I opened up to read in Psalm 42, this verse popped out at me.  It's as if David is giving himself a pep talk.  He repeats these exact words again at the end of the psalm to drive the point home.

Are you feeling discouraged and overwhelmed today?  Look up! 
Are you feeling anxious about  a situation?  Look up! 
Are you feeling like there is no hope?  Look up! 
Does there seem like there is no way out of your circumstances?  Look up! 
Want to throw in the towel and give up?  Look up!

There is always hope as long as we keep our eyes on the Lord.  He has your life in His hands.  He provides hope when you feel hopeless.  Take your eyes off the circumstances and trust Him.

Look up today.  God has it under control!

Sunday, January 8, 2017



by Walter de la Mare

No breath of wind,
No gleam of sun –
Still the white snow
Whirls softly down
Twig and bough
And blade and thorn
All in an icy
Quiet, forlorn.
Whispering, rustling,
Through the air
On still and stone,
Roof, - everywhere,
It heaps its powdery
Crystal flakes,
Of every tree
A mountain makes;
‘Til pale and faint
At shut of day
Stoops from the West
One wint’ry ray,
And, feathered in fire
Where ghosts the moon,
A robin shrills
                                         His lonely tune.                                         

Thursday, January 5, 2017

My Happy Place

It's been quiet in my shop the past two weeks as I knew it would be.  Christmas is over and January is a dead month in most businesses of my kind.  People have spent their money, there are no major holidays and so no need to shop.  I've had a few customers but it is fairly quiet.  However, I'm so thankful that I have other things to occupy me while I'm waiting for customers. 

I spent most of the afternoon yesterday working on correspondence, newsletters and other items that need to go out this month for our Great Commission Women's organization.  As I sat typing, I realized once again how blessed I am to be able to combine all the things I love! 

I have a heart for missions and our international workers and am able to help support them through encouragement and prayer.  I also love being able to encourage the women in our district churches to also support missions in my role as director.  I love staying in touch through email and social media. 

I love organizing events and I get to do that a few times a year.  We have a large retreat coming up in late April and I'm working on that now, along with a planning committee.  There are a number of smaller events as well that I am working on and there have been events through our church that I get to organize.

I also love to create and sew and of course, I get to do that for my shop, as well as for gifts for family and friends.  I have something on my sewing table now that is being turned into a gift for my father-in-law.

I love people and being out in the community makes me very happy.  I love chatting with the customers that come in and meeting new people.  It's a way to connect and I've also been able to encourage and minister to a few.

So I'm in my happy place - encouraging, organizing, creating and networking!  It can't get any better than that. ;-)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

Psalm 121 (HCSB) ~

I lift my eyes toward the mountains.

Where will my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to slip;
your Protector will not slumber.
Indeed, the Protector of Israel
does not slumber or sleep.

The Lord protects you;
the Lord is a shelter right by your side.
The sun will not strike you by day
or the moon by night.

The Lord will protect you from all harm;
He will protect your life.
The Lord will protect your coming and going
both now and forever

Monday, January 2, 2017

Joy Renewed

In years past I've set out goals I want to accomplish in the new year, or a list of "resolutions" to achieve.  Sometimes I've accomplished some of them, though I don't think I've ever met all of them.  I don't think there is anything wrong with setting goals for myself.  If you aim at nothing, you generally get there. ;-)  However, the past two years, I've gone a different direction. 

After reflecting for a bit and looking back over the previous year, and praying about a direction I need to go in the coming year, I've come up with a word to define 2017.  Many people do this so it's not something new or anything I've created. 

One thing I've felt has been lacking in my life for the past couple of years is joy.  I get up in the morning and many days, I generally grumble and gripe my way through the days.  I snap at my family.  I generally feel joy-less.  There are periods of time when I feel joy return for a bit, but then I'm back in the doldrums and grouchiness.  I want to be real here and the main reason I feel a lack of joy is that I have some sinful attitudes that have crept into my life.

So, the word JOY has been mulling around in my head for quite a few months now.  This morning as I was having my quiet time, these verses popped out to me.

Psalm 51:10-12; 16-17 ~

God, create a clean heart for me
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not banish me from Your presence
or take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore the JOY of Your salvation to me,
and give me a willing spirit.

You do not want sacrifice,
or I would give it;
You are not pleased
with a burnt offering.
The sacrifice pleasing to God
is a broken spirit.
God, you will not despise
a broken and humbled heart.

I'm asking God to change me from the inside out.  I'm also doing the work necessary to change the bad habits that have crept into my life, as well as practicing some of the fruit of the Spirit that seem to have fallen off the tree.  My desire is to serve God with a humble heart, recognizing and repenting of the many times I stumble and fall.  I also have to practice, practice, and then practice joy some more!  God isn't going to miraculously make me joyful.  I have to work hard to respond differently to my circumstances.

So in 2017 my desire is to have a renewed joyfulness, as I strive to walk in God's ways.