A Common Life Lived with Uncommon Joy

Posts tagged ‘Made to Crave’

The Difference Between Frugality and Stewardship

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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.

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Hello Monday…the fantastic fall version

Wow what a crazy week! It was full of new beginnings with our year’s first American Heritage Girls meeting and starting Made to Crave and also God’s provision in sending me some temporary part time work.  By the time Saturday afternoon rolled around, we all crashed on the couch to watch the Narnia trilogy and recover from the week.  Sunday was a much needed day of rest and we took full advantage of it.  And now Monday is here again, so let’s say hello!

Hello Monday…

Hello to fall…

Yesterday marked the first day of fall, ushering in leaves in brilliant colors, cooler weather, boots and sweaters, quilts, and all things pumpkin and apple.  I love fall.

Hello apple picking…

apple picking

I willingly buy pumpkin in a can at the grocery store but there’s something about going to pick your own apples, bringing them home and baking them into something wonderful.  Last year was the first time I’d ever gone apple picking and now I can’t imagine doing fall without a trip to the apple orchard.  Later this morning, we are going to a nearby farm with some friends and their littles to pick our first batch of apples.  We will return to Apple Hill Orchard next month – gotta wait on my favorite varieties to be ready for picking!

Hello baking…

I’m a baker year round, but something about fall sends me into a baking frenzy.  Add in all the ideas on Pinterest and the upcoming holidays and I could just live in my kitchen y’all.  Just come back and get me after Christmas!

Hello healing…

There’s nothing more humbling that sharing your own personal journey and the things God has taught you along the way, and then seeing that minister to other women in their own journeys.  Made to Crave is underway and for the next six weeks, I’m entering into these women’s lives and speaking truth and healing over them.  Such an awesome privilege and also a weighty responsibility.  Already I feel like what I have to give will not be nearly enough, but thankfully that’s exactly the way God means it to be.  I’m so glad it doesn’t depend on my own strength and knowledge! His grace is enough!

Hello shoeboxes…

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This week we are preparing for Gracie’s last big push to complete her goal of packing 100 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.  Gracie and Michael will both be speaking to the Mission Possible kids in church on Sunday about how kids can be involved in missions.  Gracie is really nervous about talking in front of all the kids, so could you say a little prayer for her?  We will be going through her boxes this week, making sure each box is packed to the gills and seeing how close she is to her goal.  After they talk to the kids, Gracie and Michael will be helping the kids pack shoeboxes of their own for Operation Christmas Child.  Next week, Gracie will visit the processing center and get a tour.  I have to admit, I’m gonna miss seeing the wall of shoeboxes that have been there to greet me when I walk in the front door for the last two months.  Maybe we will just have to start collecting for next year.

What are you saying hello to this week?

Hello Monday…the Copycat Version

I’ve gotten to know a friend through her fantastic shop, Happy Little Lovelies.  I’ve watched her grow from selling on Etsy to advertising and promoting on Instagram and Pinterest to beginning a blog about her shop and her family.  She makes jewelry that just makes you want to smile, lovely little things – hence the name!

One thing I look forward to every Monday morning is her weekly “Hello Monday” posts on her blog, in which she recaps the week and says hello to what’s coming up in her life.  It’s a great way to get to know the lady behind the jewelry and it really helps me put my week into perspective and think about what I can say hello to.  You can check out her latest “Hello Monday” post here.  I love these posts so much, I’ve asked her if I could start to do them on my own blog and she graciously agreed.

So let’s say Hello, shall we?

Hello to new ventures…

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I’m starting my own little online shop through Instagram called Thicketty Creek.  This little shop is part of a community of mommy shops, all designed to sell great baby and children’s clothes (and sometimes even a little something for Mama) at great prices.  I’ve combined my love of sharing pictures and my love of shopping thrift stores with my love for baby clothes – because really, who doesn’t like shopping for baby clothes?! – into a great little way to supplement our income.

Hello to an upgraded routine…

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I’ve struggled this year to find our rhythm in homeschooling.  Usually by this time in the school year, we are well into a groove.  This year has proven to be a bit more challenging.  I’m thinking going from two students to four has a little something to do with it (ya think?).  I finally realized there’s no rule that says you have to do every subject every day, so I’ve broken up the girls’ work into two segments to do every other day.  We will do math and reading for all three girls and an elective (art for Amber, typing for Gracie) on Mondays and Wednesdays and Prairie Primer with all three girls on Tuesdays and Fridays.  Thursdays are a different kind of school day, which brings us to…

Hello to a new kind of grace on Thursdays…

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Thursday I will begin teaching Made to Crave at a women’s Bible study hosted by my church.  For the past seven years, I’ve been attending a vibrant women’s ministry at another church (Morning Grace) and now God is calling me to leave it in order to help my own church’s women’s ministry grow.  I’m excited about teaching for the first time and going through Made to Crave for the fourth time.  God always gives me something to challenge and grow me when I read it.  Stay tuned to the blog for more on the class.  I will be sharing my thoughts each week from the lesson here on Life Lived Loud. Ross will be in a study hall room during the Bible studies. Gracie is helping in childcare for the first time.  Amber and Georgia will be in childcare.  We will have just long enough to go home for lunch and then head right back to the church for Gracie and Amber to attend worship dance class.  I will be glad to regain my hour long respite at the coffee shop during their class each week.

What are you saying hello to this week?

As always, I love to hear from you.

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

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