A Common Life Lived with Uncommon Joy

Posts tagged ‘Operation Christmas Child’

Frugal Friday: My Weekly Frugal Accomplishments

This was a great week for free food for us.  Between the rehearsal dinner, the wedding reception, being treated to a meal out with friends, and food brought and shared by my mother-in-law and my uncle from the funeral, there were several meals that we didn’t have to cook or provide food for.  It was a real blessing to our food budget!  I also officially started Christmas shopping this week, actively searching out little deals here and there.  And after several weeks of not being able to do any thrifting, I was finally able to go today and scored some great stuff.

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Here are my frugal accomplishments for the week:

Used my $10 Amazon credit to buy six pair of mustache earrings, two scarves and five stylus pens – these will be stocking stuffers and gifts for my children to give their friends.  I still have $2.49 credit left to use.

After the wedding, we brought home a beautiful round cut of wood to use as a plate stand or base in decorating, both flower girl baskets, lots of crayons tied with ribbon and a travel size bar of soap.  The wood went into my hospitality drawer, the flower girl baskets have been repurposed to hold a thankfulness project I will share with you soon, and the crayons and soap went  to the Operation Christmas Child stockpile box.

Started a compost pile on the backside of our raised bed garden.  Ross also weeded the garden and cleared it out for cold weather.

Blessed with spaghetti, sweet tea, a large bag of rolls, apple fritters, boiled eggs, a fruit cream pie, barbeque, sandwich buns, slaw, chips and a chocolate cake.  This provided two dinners, a lunch, and several snacks and desserts.

Made garlic toast from the Texas toast I bought at the bread store last week and put it in the freezer.

Using a Swagbucks offer and a coupon code, I ordered a gift box from Citrus Lane, which I received this week.  I earned 1000 Swagbucks for signing up to have a box delivered and the coupon code cut the price in half.  So for $12.50, I received a cool little nightlight, a copy of Ladybug magazine, a harmonica and a small bag of organic potato crisps.  Plus the 1000 Swagbucks earned me the $10 Amazon credit mentioned above.

Made apple dapple cake from the apples we were gifted last week.

thrifting

Went thrifting and bought three books for $1 each (two for Christmas gifts for the kids and one for school), four glass dessert dishes for $0.50 each, a quart size mason jar for $0.79, a stand for my new beverage server for $1.49, four black dish tubs for $0.59 each to use for storage in my pantry, and an orange and white Saks Fifth Avenue purse for $1.99.

Picked up three books from a freebie table at my Grandma’s church: The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn, The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler and In My Father’s House by Corrie Ten Boom.

What did you do this week to make or save money?

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Frugal Friday: Frugal Accomplishments of the Week

Knowing my love for homemaking and my desire to be frugal, my friend Gail introduced me to The Prudent Homemaker’s blog a few weeks ago.  As I explored her blog and website, two things had an impact on me.  The first was a story by Agnes Slight Turnbull entitled When Queens Ride By.  I highly recommend you take time to grab a cup of coffee and read it.  It’s a little long but it’s a beautiful story about a woman and her desire to do everything she can to help her husband as they go through a difficult financial season.  I felt like Agnes had peeked inside my world and written this story about me.  The main character is even named Jenny!  If you’re a wife and you want to know the best way to build up your husband, to be his helpmate, you must read this.  Go right now! I’ll wait for you…

Wasn’t it beautiful?? I pray it speaks to your soul with the same depth is spoke to mine.

The other thing on The Prudent Homemaker that caught my eye was a weekly feature she wrote listing all her frugal accomplishments for the week.  She listed everything she had done for the past seven days to save or make money.  Here’s her latest frugal accomplishment post here.  There was something about the act of writing and reflecting over all the ways I was contributing to our household financially by making or saving money, no matter how small a thing it seemed at the time.  I began keeping my own list and found it to be very encouraging.  And so, because I’m aspiring to write more regularly on my blog, I decided to do my own weekly feature of frugal accomplishments.   Enjoy the list below of things I’ve done in my own home and be inspired to add your own ideas in the comments.

Weekly Frugal Accomplishments

Received 50 free dot to dot activity books from an aviation group to add to Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes

Made 9 quarts of apple butter from an abundance of apples we received from two friends

Earned $10 in Amazon gift cards from Swag Bucks

Sold a book on Amazon for $2.49

Made my own gingerbread spice lattes

Got 25 free photo prints from Walgreens, a free 8×10 photo collage from CVS and 50 photo prints from Target for $4.25 with a coupon – all for Gracie’s shoebox letters

Used coupons to get a loaf of wheat bread, 5 bananas and an orange bell pepper for $1.25 at Target

Bought 29 loaves of bread for $26 at the bread store, enough to last us at least six weeks

Made garlic toast to stock the freezer from bread store purchase

Bought Teaching Textbooks 5 used instead of new for Gracie’s math, saving $30

Helped Ross shop and compare the best way to purchase an iPad mini with his own money – he bought one refurbished and saved $60

Blessed by family and friends with help for the wedding – the girls’ dresses and shoes, Ross’ clothes and the cabin we are staying in have all been provided for

Made muffins and cookies to eat while we stay at the cabin this weekend for the wedding, so we will only need to eat out one meal while we are there

Bought six activity books and a Disney Princess puzzle on clearance for $0.25 each to go in Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes

What did you do to save or make money last week?

Hello Monday…the almost Tuesday version

The past week has been such a blur that at times, I’ve felt like life was running me over.  Between homeschooling, helping Gracie wrap up her big Operation Christmas Child project and working a temporary part-time job the past two weekends, it feels like I haven’t been home for days other than to sleep and shower.  As a result, it almost slipped my mind to write a Hello Monday post for today! Thankfully things should be settling down this week so we can get back into our normal groove.  Let’s say hello, shall we?

Hello Monday….

Hello fur babies…

elvisandlulabelle

We brought home our Russian Blue kittens on Wednesday.  Lula Belle and Elvis have totally stolen our hearts and taken over the house.  Michael and I are both highly allergic to cats so our kids have not been around cats enough to really know about their personalities and their silly mannerisms.  As I’m typing this, Lula Belle is sitting on my hand by the computer mouse and occasionally gets up to walk across the keyboard.  They are so much fun!  They really add joy to the house.  (By the way, Russian Blues are very hypoallergenic for allergic cat lovers.  If you have allergies, I highly recommend you look into them.)

Hello to 100 shoe boxes and counting…

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On Sunday, Gracie helped to lead an Operation Christmas Child packing party in Children’s Ministry at church.  After counting boxes at the end of the party, she had an updated total of 114 shoe box gifts, surpassing her goal of 100 boxes.  There are still six weeks to go until National Collection Week and she plans to keep packing boxes right up to the final week.  And then she’ll start packing boxes for next year!!

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We were able to go today and tour the Charlotte distribution center.  Gracie isn’t old enough yet to volunteer in the warehouse so it was a real privilege to be able to go behind the scenes and see what happens to the shoe box after she drops it off until it reaches its destination in the child’s hands.  We heard so many stories of God providing just what a child had prayed for or needed in very specific ways.  It was so encouraging!!

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Gracie’s favorite part was seeing the sorting stations.  This is where each box is examined to be sure there’s nothing in there that shouldn’t be (liquids or breakables or war related toys) before it’s sealed and packed into a shipping carton with other shoe boxes to be sent around the world.

Hello football…

I am not a football fan.  I pick the team I want to win based on random things like the colors of the uniform or what state they are from, not their standings or which division they are in (you should know when I say that that I’m just parroting what I’ve heard my husband say and actually have no idea what standings and divisions there are in football).  That being said, my husband is a football fan with a big TV and a few of our kids have been converted into the madness that is football mania, so my TV has been high-jacked for every Sunday from now until the Super Bowl.  Gracie has asked for a football helmet and jersey for Christmas and a pair of torn up jeans she can play football in outside with her friends.  Speaking of Christmas…

Hello holiday shopping…

Go ahead and hate me for thinking about Christmas already, but in my house, if I want to enjoy it at all, I have to start preparing now.  I’m picking up little stocking stuffers for the kids here and there when I’m out running errands.  I’ve bought two gifts.  I’d love to have all the little things bought by the time Michael gets his Christmas bonus so I can just go purchase the large gifts (or even better, order online from home!) and get on with the best part of Christmas – making magic for my kids, baking up a storm and serving the community.  I don’t want Christmas to be about gifts and shopping, so my thought is that if I do it now, then I can make it about more important things like family and serving and celebrating Jesus’ birth.  Have you started Christmas shopping yet?

Hello costumes…

Before Christmas gets here though, we have Halloween and Thanksgiving to celebrate.  I’ve got some great Thanksgiving things planned for the month of November that I can’t wait to share with y’all.  But first there’s Halloween.  We have very specific ideas about this holiday in our family.  I love coming up with great costumes for our kids, discussing ideas and hunting for just the right items to make it come to life.  I love our neighborhood parade just before trick or treating starts and sitting at the end of our driveway, greeting all the kids, passing out candy and enjoying their costumes.  I don’t really care for skeletons and vampires and the gory/scary aspects of the holiday so we omit them completely from our celebration.  The kids aren’t allowed to have scary costumes, but they also aren’t allowed to simply pick one from the store.  We make our own costumes and try to come up with really original ideas.  Last year, Georgia was a bag of jelly beans, Amber was Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, Gracie was Audrey Hepburn, and Ross (my literal child) was a ceiling fan, complete with pom poms and a shirt that said Go Ceiling!  I can’t wait to see what they come up with this year.  What will your kids be this year?

Thanks for stopping by.  Don’t forget to share what you’re saying hello to this week!

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?

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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