A Common Life Lived with Uncommon Joy

Posts tagged ‘future’

Hello Monday…the celebration version

We spent a fantastic weekend in North Georgia celebrating at the wedding of our cousin Michael.  I say our cousin because he is actually related to both me and my husband by blood.  What?! His daddy is my fifth cousin on my Granny’s side and his mama is my husband’s second cousin on his Maw Maw’s side.  Michael was also the ring bearer in our wedding, which coincidentally was 18 years ago today.  And so we spent our anniversary weekend surrounded by friends and family celebrating the beginning of a new marriage and the continuing journey of our own.

Ross, Gracie, Noah, Amber, Silas and Georgia

Ross, Gracie, Noah, Amber, Silas and Georgia

Michael and Julie were married at an old camp meeting campground.  They had perfect weather.  All four of our children were in the wedding – Georgia and Amber were flower girls, Gracie was the guest book attendant and Ross was an usher.  Ross also got to pull the white runner down the aisle just before Julie walked down.  My nephews, Noah and Silas, were also in the wedding.  Julie went out of her way to include all the kids in her wedding, a true reflection of her heart to make the day about family.  It added a lot of details to her planning but it was so appreciated and it was worth it to her to see them thrilled to be a part of the special day.

mj06

mj22

Let’s say hello, shall we?

Hello Monday…

Hello family…

While I was in Georgia celebrating the wedding, I got a phone call that my grandma went home to Jesus.  My grandma had not been well for quite a while and I was expecting the news to come any day now.  This week my cousins and aunts and uncles will all gather to celebrate her life and the legacy of her faith in our family.  My grandma raised five boys, two of whom became pastors and another who has been on several mission trips, and was blessed with 13 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.  The influence of her love for Jesus runs deep into our family tree.  She lived her life well and so we cry, we miss her, but we celebrate her arrival into heaven.

grandma and sons

Uncle Eddie, my Daddy, Grandma, Uncle Kenny and Uncle Mark – Uncle Gary was waiting for her in heaven when she arrived, along with my Paw Paw, two of her grandchildren and one great-grandchild

Hello anniversary…

Today is my wedding anniversary.  I’m still so in love with the wonderful man God gave to me.  He gives me butterflies every time he smiles.  After 18 years of having children, being broke, buying a house, foster parenting, deaths and births, heartache and joy, I would do it all over again.  We spent yesterday afternoon in Helen, GA visiting an old grain mill, a winery and an antique store in a house more than a hundred years old.  We had the best southern meal we’ve ever put in our mouths.  And we drove six hours in the car, talking and catching up with each other while the kids were mesmerized by movies and iPods.  It was a glorious day.

What are you saying hello to this week?

The Difference Between Frugality and Stewardship

kitchen

Like any true Southern girl, my favorite place to be is in my kitchen making something delicious to bless the people I love.  My cousin Beckie has always teased me about how little TV I watch.  Truthfully, the TV is just too far from the kitchen to suit me.  Standing in the kitchen, cooking or cleaning, wearing my apron and listening to a sermon or worship music while I work is my happy place.  Today I had the urge to go spend the afternoon in my kitchen, cooking and cleaning and prepping some freezer meals.  My hands needed hot, soapy water, my favorite dishcloths crocheted by my cousin Donna (I have a lot of cousins y’all), and something yummy simmering on the stove.  I do some of my best thinking and praying when I’m in my kitchen.  As I scrubbed down countertops this afternoon, I started praying about our finances.  I know we are just one of many families struggling in the current economy, and thoughts of how to feed my family for less occupies my mind quite often.  I’m always looking for frugal recipes, tips on when/how to buy in bulk, the best place to get fresh produce or bread, anything to make our dollars stretch a little further.  Today though, as I scrubbed and prayed, a new thought entered my mind.  What if, instead of worrying and planning for how to spend my grocery money more carefully, I concentrated instead on using everything God had already blessed me with to its full potential?  What if I focused on using all the things I had stocked up in my pantry? What if I actually learned to use my fancy espresso machine (one of my best Goodwill finds) instead of stopping by Starbucks once a week?  I looked around and surveyed my kitchen, pantry and cabinets.  Everywhere I looked I could see items in need of attention – cleaning, repair, organization, or just actually being used.  I shifted my thinking from what I needed to do to acquire what I thought I needed to thinking about how to best use what I already had.

As I continued praying and seeking God’s direction in this new train of thought, I resolved to spend the month of October focusing specifically on stewardship instead of frugality.  I’m great at finding good deals and making a dollar stretch.  I’m not so great at maintenance and follow through.  Sometimes this results in unnecessary waste or things that sit in my pantry unused for several months before being donated to a food bank.  I decided a few steps that needed to be made and planned how to carry them out this month.  I will share the things I learn through the month and maybe we will both be blessed.

Here are the things I’m going to concentrate on this month:

1.  Eat from my pantry/freezer before going grocery shopping.  Each month, as soon as I get my grocery money, I rush to the store first chance I get and stock up on everything I can think of that we may need that month.  I use coupons, search for deals, know the best price and which store to find it in.  But by the 20th, I’m out of grocery money and depending on money from our regular account to get us through until next month check comes on the 5th.  It’s a feast or famine cycle.  This month, instead of focusing on acquiring more food, I’m going to focus on eating what we have, using what’s already in our pantry and freezer.  That’s not to say I won’t be grocery shopping, but I don’t plan to go until I actually need to.

2.  Inventory and make a plan.  I can’t use it if I don’t know I have it, right?  I’m going to start with an inventory of my pantry and freezer and fridge and then make a written plan on how to use what I have.  This will also give me a plan for all my #10 cans of tomato sauce, extra loaves of bread, etc. that I intended to prepare freezer meals with.  I’m not a great menu planner but I can make a list of possible meals and list the ingredients needed so I don’t use them for something else, crossing off meals on my list as I cook them.

3. Learning to use and maintain what I already have. Two years ago, the week before my birthday, I found the ultimate Goodwill prize – a $400 Starbucks espresso machine for $10.  Happy Birthday to me, right?? I must confess that I still don’t know how to use it and only have espresso drinks when Michael is off work on a weekend morning (about once or twice a month) because he’s the only one that knows how to operate the machine.  This month, I plan to watch the same YouTube videos he learned from, practice, and learn to make some of my favorite Starbucks drinks.  I already have all the equipment I need – I just need to learn how to use it.  The same goes for the ice cream maker I bought to make special dairy-free ice cream for Georgia.  I’m sure I’ll find a few other things too as the month progresses.

4. Make mealtimes special.  Just because the grocery budget is tighter and our meals are less extravagant, doesn’t mean our table has to be.  I plan to make regular use of our special dishes, light some candles, use the cloth napkins and napkin rings, maybe even add some flowers or a centerpiece occasionally.  I have a large stockpile of things that I use when we host parties or have a family over to eat, but I rarely use them for our own family.  Again, concentrating on stewardship instead of frugality – using what I have to its full potential.

Stay tuned all month! I will be posting updates to my progress through the month and at the end of October, I will let you know how it affected my monthly grocery budget.  I’m excited to see what God will teach me about stewardship.

The God of Immeasurably More

immeasurably more

After an almost eighteen month sabbatical, I’m finally coming back to writing!  The past year and a half has been a whirlwind of change and activity as God knocked down obstacles, challenged us to shed old crutches and habits, and stretched us in new areas of ministry.  It has been a season of preparation and our prayer through it all has been that God would make us “fit for service” so we could live a “life lived loud” instead of just a life in survival mode.  We wanted to thrive and grow and be used by God in whatever means He saw fit.  We are beginning to see the fruits of those prayers.  Here’s a quick update to catch you up to all the changes and goings on:

 

made to crave1. One of the first major changes in my personal life was reading Made to Crave.  This book defeated my idolatry to food and helped me see that God was my strength and strong tower, not doughnuts or brownies.  He is all I truly need.  I first went through the book with a friend.  Then, in January, I assisted another friend of mine in teaching it at Morning Grace.  Now God has opened the door to allow me to teach it at my own church to my dear sisters in the faith beginning next month.  Teaching and being an active part of women’s ministry has always been an unfulfilled passion of mine so I am excited to see what God has in store for me as He gives me the desire of my heart.  I’ve set up a Facebook group for those who would like to follow along online as we study the book in class.  You can request to join the class here.

 

 

2. Our house has undergone a major transformation! As we prayed for God to make us fit for service, asking Him to remove anything that might hinder us from being effective in ministry, He quickly helped me see that Satan was effectively keeping me occupied within my own four walls, constantly battling clutter instead of reaching out to others.  The devil is so cunning and crafty and he definitely had a stronghold in this area.  I went through our belongings with a new level of determination, got to know my local Goodwill drop off crew members really well and finally took back control of our home.  Last month I finished the final room in the house and we all feel like we can breathe again.  Clutter sucks the life out of you and you really don’t even realize how much it takes away from living your life until you actually get rid of it all.  This big step led to #3.

 

3.  In the spring, we made a major move from our long-standing Community Group at church to a new group – one closer to our house, full of couples about ten years younger than we are.  God is growing us as mentors, using us as examples (talk about accountability!), and stretching us into deeper roles of participation within the church.  This week, we will also begin hosting our new Community Group at our house – something that would have been impossible to do eighteen months ago.  What a testimony it is just to be able to tell the story of how God brought us to this place in our journey!

 

g and occ4.  Gracie (our little future missionary) has been busy with a big project for Operation Christmas Child.  Inspired by my friend’s son, who set a goal to pack 100 shoeboxes for OCC last year and then surpassed it with over 160 shoeboxes filled, Gracie decided that she wanted to pack 100 shoeboxes too.  What started out as a little Facebook page to tell friends and family about this and her endless parade of other mission projects she gets involved in, has turned into a major display of God’s faithfulness and care for the heart of a ten year old girl.  Gracie has over 120 fans on her Facebook page, Cup of Cold Water.  She’s watched in amazement as God multiplied her efforts and provided $700 to pay the shipping costs for her 100 shoeboxes.  She was overwhelmed by the number of people and the amount of items donated when she hosted an OCC packing party last month.  Every day, when she walks in the front door, she’s greeted by 80+ shoeboxes stacked almost to the ceiling, waiting to be shipped to children around the world, all because she asked God to help her do something big with her very little.  It is so exciting to see her faith come to life.

 

Over and over again, these past eighteen months have given us glimpses of the God of immeasurably more.  Time and time again, we’ve given Him our hopes and dreams and plans, then watched as He blessed us with over and above our wildest imaginings.  I don’t know what the future holds for us, but I know Who holds the future and He is willing able to do immeasurably more than all I can ask or imagine.  I’m excited to begin to write about all the things that God is doing!

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21

The Beginning of My Greatest Adventure

Dear Son,

I can hardly believe you are 13 today!  Your birth was the beginning of my greatest adventure, the adventure of motherhood.  It seems like just yesterday I was talking to Grandmama and Grandaddy while they were celebrating their anniversary in Hawaii, telling them they were going to be grandparents.  It’s only been a blink of an eye since your first steps, your first words, your first haircut.  How could it have been more than a moment since you last called me Mommy?  And yet, here you are, standing beside me now, almost eye to eye.  You are becoming a man right before my eyes, but before the day comes when you will leave the nest – and it will even more quickly than the last 13 years, I’m sure – I want to be sure there are things that you know.

First, know that Mom and Dad will fail you.  Your closest friends will disappoint you.  There will even be a special girl or two who will crush your heart.  But in all the shortcomings of humanity, there is a God who is faithful, who never disappoints, never leaves you wanting, always supplies, always provides, always cares for you.  Don’t be afraid to follow hard after God, even when it means being different than those around you. The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.  They are steadfast for ever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness.  He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever – holy and awesome is his name.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.  To him belongs eternal praise.  Psalm 111:7-10

Second, know that you don’t have to wait until you grow up to impact the world with your faith or the gifts God has given you.  Do not waste your youthful energy and enthusiasm, your ability to dream big and then run after it – use that energy, that enthusiasm, those dreams to begin to do the work God has given you to do.  Pursue the passions He has placed in your heart with all that you have.  Give yourself wholeheartedly to your education and recognize how everything you do now is preparing you for what He has in store for your future.  But also be aware, keep your eyes open, for all the ways He is already using you now.  He has given you such a gift of compassion for others, use it well.  Be on the lookout for those who are hurting, minister to those in need, pray with those in need of comfort.  Cultivate the rich prayer life God has already begun to grow in you.  Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.  1 Timothy 4:12

 

Third, plan your future with open hands, being willing to go where God leads you and do what He has in mind for you.  He has planned your greatest future, with your best in mind, and He will help you achieve all He has planned for you if only you will trust Him and follow His leading.  Place your relationship with God above all else and everything else in life will line up as it should.  The Lord has made it clear over the years that you will be a “mighty man of God” – whether as a Christ following faithful husband and father, or as a dynamic preacher or missionary.  Be willing to follow wherever His calling takes you and know that your Dad and I will support you every step of the way.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:11-13

Fourth, begin to pray for the woman who will one day be your wife.  Pray for her home life, her spiritual  life and her purity.  Ask God to begin to prepare her for the life He has for you both.  Pray that God will keep your own heart and mind pure while you wait for the day He brings her into your life.  Pray for patience to wait and contentment in your relationship with Christ while you are single.  Bring each girl you take an interest in before the Lord in prayer and be willing to walk away if she’s not the one for you.  A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies.  Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.  Proverbs 31:10-11

Fifth, learn now how to properly manage your money so that you will not be restricted in following God’s calling because of financial difficulties.  Develop the habits of saving and tithing and paying cash for things from the beginning.  Be generous in giving to those in need and in blessing those around you.  God is faithful to provide for your needs.  He will bless you for your good stewardship and generosity if you give out of a heart overflowing with gratitude for all He’s given you and not out of obligation.  “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.  Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”  Malachi 3:10

Lastly I want you to know how proud we are of the young man you have become.  From the time you were little, we’ve seen a love and passion for God in your life.  We are excited to see that love and passion grow and develop into whatever calling He has for your life.

The following verses are my prayer for you:

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.  I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  Ephesians 1:15-19

Happy Birthday Ross!

Love, Mom and Dad

 

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