Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Time For Some Change

I've been reading lots of frugal-themed blogs lately and between the wonderful posts, great inspiration from ladies like Terri at http://bluehousejournal.blogspot.com/  and the Lord Himself, I've been feeling very convicted that we (me especially, being the chief spender) are not being good stewards of what He's blessed us with. And so, I'm beginning a journey back to frugal and responsible financial living. Thankfully, my husband shares the same heart's desire to please God so we are in it together.

The first thing I did was to remove the credit cards from my wallet. I get so much more tempted to spend on things I don't need when the credit cards are available. And all it does is add to our debt-load! So out they went last evening.

The second item on the agenda, and one I've debated for a few months now, was to subscribe to our local newspaper. We'll be getting the Sunday (with coupons) paper only at a cost of $12 per month. I plan to keep the subscription for 3 months to evaluate whether it's worth keeping. I'd like to double that amount in savings and by planning my menu and grocery list using the coupons along with the store circulars (only one of our local grocers does double-coupons), I am sure I can save $24 per month. Let's hope so. But if I don't, I'll cancel the subscription and go back to no coupons. It's that easy.

One other thing I know is going to be a must-do for me to stay frugal is to stay out of stores unless absolutely necessary. I work very close to a large shopping area, complete with a full-sized mall and many shopping centers filled with enticing stores all waiting to be explored. Too often, I end up in one of the local money-wasters on my lunch break and spend money I don't need to spend on things I don't need to buy. From now on I will have a plan to stay out of the stores unless I'm there for a pre-determined and budgeted reason. The opposite direction from the shopping area has two lovely parks (one complete with a nature trail) and a public library. I can access free Wi-Fi at the library for days I don't want to be outside and the nice days can be even nicer with a quick lunch and perhaps a walk at the park. Staying away from the stores will be a challenge but I know it's important and I'm committing to having a plan to stay out of trouble.

This is just the beginning. I plan to take it slow so I don't get overwhelmed. But I don't want to allow procrastination and hesitation to set in either. Lots of prayer and planning will be required. But living a life pleasing to and reflective of my Savior is worth the sacrifices.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Life Audit

For years now, I've been a fan of the lovely and oh-so-very-British Allison and her Brocante Home website.
She fills the posts and pages with lovely images, inspiring housekeeping ideas and honest soul-baring confessions of life in general. She often does a "life audit" post just to kind of show what is going on in her life. I love these peeks into other peoples realms and thought I'd share mine today. The graphic is used with Allison's permission.

Today I am… at work, enjoying a slow day of the boss being out of town, wearing jeans, scanning documents, afternoon coffee (it's a tad bit chilly) and music playing on the radio.

Feeling… wavering between confidence, hope and an occasional odd thought that gets tossed into the mix to keep things interesting. Better than it's been in the past week, I can sense God working in me. Good days always help though.

Reading… My Own Worst Enemy: How to Stop Holding Yourself Back by Janet Davis. I had gone into the local Christian bookstore looking at Bibles and didn't find what I wanted so I decided to stick with what I have and enjoy the notes and lines and markings as God's reminders of what He's done and is doing. It becomes like a journal of sorts for me. Anyway, I looked at the bargain rack of books and this bright red book stood out at me and felt like God saying - YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. So I bought it. And I'm plowing, mulling and pushing my way through it, ever-so-slowly because that's how books that are good for my soul tend to move for me. Slowly.

Eating… We've been eating a lot of slowcooker meals. It's so convenient, warm and tasty on a busy blustery workday. Truth be told, I've recently developed a hankering for pizza that doesn't seem to be easily satisfied. I think the issue is, yes we've been eating pizza and yes, it's been good, but what I'm really craving is a big thin, floppy NY-style slice of cheese pizza. Yum.

Planning… I've been saying this for years, but I mean it this time (you better wait until you see it to believe it) but I've been planning a filing system and a way to keep up accurately and timely with our financial obligations. Working full time and being busy with church and life and all that has left our household a bit on the chaotic/messy/no plan side of things. I'm slowly, very slowly getting things back in order.

Dreaming of… a beach vacation or a day off in the middle of the week for no good reason. Don't get me wrong, I like my job, but sometimes a girl just needs a day in the middle of the week to do nothing. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending upon the flip of the coin, I'm not a hookie player and I don't want to get sick so it will be a long time before this happens, especially since I've only been at my current job for 6 months.

Coveting… I can't think of anything I am coveting. The one thing I really wanted I was blessed with a couple of weeks ago as an early birthday present and I'm loving it so much! I try hard not to covet anything because then it just becomes an obsession.

Wishing… Self-discipline wasn't such an uncomfortable process and that there was a magical pill to just make things I want to change easy. But that wouldn't be growth then would it?

Working On… decluttering our home. I've done a lot and still have a long way to go. I need wisdom to know what to keep, what to get rid of and where to store things so they make sense and are easily accessible.

Celebrating… big and little victories in my life. Conquering anxiety issues - big. Finding dog beds that will keep the Pugs quiet at night - big and little at the same time. Getting a few new cute tops from Kohl's at great prices recently - little. Spending the evening with my family tonight with no where to go and no one to see and nothing to do - BIG.

Grateful For… Grace upon grace. My best friend Brad. My awesome slowcooker and two of my favorite slowcooker recipe websites - (Crockin' Girls and Six Sisters Stuff), my girls help in keeping the kitchen and living room straightened up on my busy days.

And finally tomorrow I will be… glad it's Friday! Ending my work week hopefully with a successful day. Looking forward to dinner with some new church friends who are kindred spirits and very entertaining. Fellowship is so sweet when it's led by the Lord (and it's people you like).

On my to-do list this month?
* Get up early enough to have a quiet prayer and reading time with God
* Plan a menu the way I used to - around coupons and store sales in order to save some money
* File all of the paperwork in my "to file" box.
* Move the living room furniture and vacuum everywhere, sprinkling the carpet with a custom blend baking soda and essential oils
* Go to Lowe's and get Pre-Emergent stuff for our yard and look at options for around our house to prevent weed-eater damage
* Eat good chocolate

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Boarding Pass at the Ready

Yesterday's little trip to Austin, TX, was quite the adventurous one.

We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare and when time, boarded the plan for what we thought would be a routine little trip down south. Boy were we wrong.

We taxied away from the gate and before too many minutes the pilot informed us that because of a thunderstorm, Dallas Ft. Worth Airport had issued a ground stop, meaning no planes were going in or out. We were told it could be 30 minutes and that meant the "powers that be" would decide if the ground stop would continue or the flight would be cancelled. At the 30 minute mark, it was to be another hour. 10 minutes into the hour, we were told it would be 20 minutes. About 15 minutes later, we were cleared to taxi to the runway.

Now you should know that I'm not a fan of taking off, landing or any turbulence in between. We did have some turbulence but nothing major. I'm here to tell you God gave me incredible peace. Every moment the anxiety would even try to open its mouth, I'd pray major praises to God and the peace would just wash over me. I didn't even ask for peace, I just praised Him for it and thanked Him for being a Sustainer and Protector. Amazing!

We circled the airport a few times (seeing the same area of Dallas more than once will convince you of that) and finally landed. We thought we'd missed what was to be our connecting flight by 15 minutes but in reality they had cancelled it. The first thing we did was try to find a ticket booth to get help. We walked for a tiny bit and found what, at first, I thought was a ticket counter but turned out to be just a gate desk. Ask anyway, we did. The lady we asked got on the phone to find out how to help us. While we waited, the guy standing next to her took our no-good boarding passes and magically pressed a few buttons on his computer and handed new boarding passes back to us with 2 seats next to each other on the 8:30 flight to Austin. Wow, we thought. How amazing was that! We rejoiced and took the tram to the A gate building.

Finding our destination, we stand for awhile in confusion because the delays have caused chaos. And while all around me were confused, I had peace. I just knew this was going to work out somehow even if it meant going back home. Pretty soon we found a little restaurant to sit in and after about 5-10 minutes I hear an announcement that our flight was changing gates back to the C gate building, where we started from. So we headed back to C-11.

At this point the flight is pushed back to a 9pm departure time but each time there is an update from the crew, it gets later and later. By this point I've finally admitted that I'm starving and thirsty so I go to the convenience store for a pop and crackers. When I come out, there is no one left in gate C-17 seating. Yikes! I hear my name called, my boss standing not far away, and I'm informed I'm in for another gate change. What!? This is hilariously ridiculous at this point. I was honestly laughing. I think the punch-drunk status had set in.

I had been a bit of a doubter about the "seats" we got assigned to, checking them several times. I tend to be a doubter in life and I'm sure some of it directly relates to that anxiety issue. I finally decided to let the concern go. What was the worst that could happen? We'd go back home and not go to the training. But we pressed on. And by the time the plane was ready to board there were 76 people on the stand-by list. But you know what? When we walked up to board the plane, our  boarding passes worked, much to my doubting relief. A huge sigh of relief escaped both of us as we walked down the gate to the plane. Settling in and finally leaving that airport (10:30 by the time we got to the runway) was the best feeling in a long time. We had to have gotten the last secure 2 seats on that flight. Isn't God amazing?

We got to Austin safely and went to get our "mid-sized SUV" rental car only to find they were out and the only vehicle left was a brand new GMC Yukon with all of the bells and whistles. Would you mind, they asked? Are you kidding, we thought. What a cool blessing after such a long day of patient waiting.

I got about 5 hours of light sleep. My brain was too paranoid about missing both the wake up call and the iPhone alarm I had set. But God woke me up before both were necessary. And I sit here, as I am regaling you with tales of my adventure and I realize just how amazing God is. And I think about how this adventure is like our journey to salvation.

Just when we think we have run out of options, run out of hope, if we just obey, and trust that one guy - Jesus - our boarding pass is printed out with secure seats to Heaven.

Perhaps you don't know where you'll go when you die. I believe there is a Heaven and a Hell. And I know we have all sinned. But the Bible says there is a way out. There is hope. There is salvation. His name is Jesus. Romans 10:13 says "all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved."

Is your boarding pass secure? If you would like more information about salvation or just need support in an issue, please leave a comment and I'll be in touch. I'm praying for you today.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I'll Fly Away. Oh Glory!!

Today, I'm flying away.

I'm going on my first-ever business trip. My boss and I are flying to Austin, TX for a training meeting. I've been in this job for about 6 months and have gone through a lot of training and growing pains over that time.
This trip is not your ordinary training workshop. I'm going because my predecessor did some things that were not good and this is a means of "correcting" the problem. Even though it's meant as a punishment, I'm going to view this trip as an opportunity for God to teach me more than I know now. And that's a good thing. Isn't it awesome how He takes what's mean for evil and turns it to good? (see Genesis 50:20)

Even though this trip is only for one overnight, it holds great significance in my spiritual life. I know God is already working in me - for good, for victory, and to strengthen my faith. You see, a little over 2 years ago, I went on a trip, on a plane and stayed in a hotel room. It sounds like your average vacation, but it turned out to be the catalyst for a deep-seated anxiety spawned from shame and all kinds of fun stuff like that which I'd never dealt with fully. I won't go into all of the details but I will tell you that it was bad. My husband ended up taking me to our family doctor and I was put on Celexa for anxiety. And God used that medication to calm the storm while I got help in learning to deal with the shame from childhood and the anxiety that was my modus operandi. Never let the world, the church or the enemy tell you that your faith isn't strong enough if you have to take medication!! God can use ANYTHING to heal you. I believe that. Some people He has walk by faith alone, some people need the help of a pill. I was one of the latter.

Over the course of the past two years, I've seen a therapist who has given me practical tools to unearth and crush the long-time chain of worry and fear in which the enemy had me wrapped. I've also been drawn closer to God once again. I think sometimes God allows us to fall hard in order to remind us that we still need Him. As I've drawn closer to the Lord, I've seen people healed in many ways, including myself. About 3 months ago, I sensed it was time to take a leap of faith and go off of the anxiety medication. There was no doubt that God was directing me. I prayed about it and asked for God's wisdom. And I waited until I heard His voice. I didn't share this with anyone and yet the very next Sunday a couple in our church felt led to pray over me and my husband (also on the same meds). They sensed the Lord saying "we are healed" completely. And I took that as a sign. And I stepped out in faith and went off of my medication. Trying to be wise, I weaned myself off gradually because Celexa is known to cause very nasty withdrawal symptoms and that just didn't sound fun to me. And you know what? I didn't have a single withdrawal symptom. Not one. Now that is the power of God!

So fast forward to today, I'm taking this trip, staying in a hotel and even this morning the enemy tried to bring back those old anxiety tapes to mind. I immediately asked people to pray for me, and I turned to God's word. And peace is again in my mind and my heart. And so, because of His glory, I'll fly away...

Isn't God good? How has God brought peace and healing in your life lately? I'd love to have you share!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lean and Clean in 2013

This year is to be a year of orderliness.
I feel strongly I'm supposed to get my life, and all it contains, into order. As the years have passed, the order around me has disappeared. I realized I must get things in order. I sense it's also something that will benefit my spiritual life and am eager to see how God leads me.

As I've gotten back to blogging, I've come across some blogs that have inspired me to be more frugal, to get things orderly at home, to keep things clean and to find things to keep me going.

The first step came this weekend. I had brought some boxes home from work this past week and I started in on the bedroom. In the past, I have tended to let myself get overwhelmed before even beginning. Not this time. I threw out old software, a 20 year accumulation of electronic-related cords that have gone unused for most of their stay in our home. I went through paperwork, receipts and all manner of paper. I have a large bag ready to shred and a much smaller pile to file. If I look at the external, I don't see any progress because all of things I got rid of were in "hidden" places. But I know I made progress.

I have a long way to go even just in the bedroom, but I'm taking this one step at a time.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Is God Enough?

Is God enough?

It was bitingly cold this morning as I headed to work. I left home a bit early because although I had 1/3 tank of gas, I wanted to fill my tank up since it’s cold and blustery outside. While there, I decided to treat myself by getting a cup of coffee to take with me.

I trotted inside the convenience store and grabbed my usual 20 oz. cup, filling it ¾ of the way with “bakery blend” coffee and topping it off with some hot cocoa. I paid the clerk and got back into my car to head to work.

Driving along the highway often gets my brain juices flowing and this morning was no exception. I glanced at my coffee cup sitting in its cozy cup holder and wondered why do I always get such a large cup of coffee, or even soda? I know I never finish the entire thing, and if I do it’s a rarity. Why the waste, I asked myself. My heart told my mind immediately what the underlying issue is.

I need to know I have enough.

Growing up, our family often scraped the bottom of the barrel financially and sometimes there was a concern for my mom and dad on whether we’d have enough food to last until the next paycheck. God always provided, but sometimes the food we ate was an interesting conglomeration of whatever bits were left in the cabinets and the refrigerator.

Because we were “poor” so often in my childhood – in fact for my entire life – that I must have developed a “pit” of enoughness that needs to be filled.

When I grocery shop, I tend to buy too much, often getting duplicate items because I didn’t check to see what we already had. While I realize this is often just a lack of planning, it is also rooted in that enough-pit. When I get a drink at a fast food restaurant or a convenience store, or even Starbucks, I almost, without fail, buy the largest within reason. I rarely finish them. I just need to know I have it if I need it.

I find myself asking, how much is enough?

With all of this thinking about my overspending, overindulging tendencies, my thoughts turned immediately to my spiritual life. So often, in my faith walk, I feel the need to rely on human understanding, emotional responses, other people’s prayers, confirmation from mentors and faith friends and even worship experiences. Sundays are amazing at my church. I can enter into the Presence of God through worship quickly and deeply most weeks. I sense His Holy Spirit in my very being, often with outward signs of tremoring. I hear His Voice and I step out to share a word of wisdom when prompted. I pray for people, guided by the Holy Spirit’s voice and urgings. I believe. I live. I breathe. I move in His anointing.

And then I go home. And I become “normal”. I struggle to live a life of faith worthy of the calling of Christ on a daily basis. I become shy in my walk, often hesitating to say anything that would point out that I am a Believer and a Disciple. The anointing oil I wear around my neck at church suddenly gets left on the dresser during the work week. My emotional life often strangles me during the week, with stress and anxiety often winning the battle for my peace and joy. I share what God does in my life, but only to the point of a pre-determined safety net and I never share anything that would make a person uncomfortable in their comfort zone, sometimes even when I know God wants me to share it in a loving way to reach that person. I am a Sunday Christian. To this point, I’ve not been “all in”.

What it boils down to is that God is not enough.

If I am honest, there is no other way to put it. There is no nice, sweet, “anointed” way to say that I do not believe, as evidenced by my actions, that God is enough for me. It grieves me to even admit it but I know that is the current half-truth. Why do I call it a half-truth? Because I know in my knower that it’s a lie of the enemy I don’t fully believe. If I fully believed God isn’t enough, I wouldn’t go to church, I wouldn’t minister, I wouldn’t pray at all, I wouldn’t worship, I wouldn’t be writing this very sentence.

How do I believe God is enough?

I must find a way to fully believe that God is enough. My spiritual journey and its level of success will depend upon it. What are some practical ways I can bolster my faith and turn half-believing into full believing?

Here are a few things I plan to do immediately and ongoing to turn this thing around:

  • Use my Bible to find and write down or type out verses about God’s provision for my physical, spiritual, mental and emotional needs.

  • Confess and pray these verses every morning when I wake up.

  • Carry these verses with me everywhere I go (iPhone anyone?) in order to confess them during times of doubt.

  • Confess and pray these verses every evening before I go to bed.

  • Learn to hear and sense moments of doubt and speak (out loud if necessary) the verses that will combat the lies I’m hearing and believing at the moment.

  • Pray daily and continually against the spiritual forces that come against my belief system.

  • Pray for Christ’s protection over my mind, emotions, body and will.

  • Keep a journal of ongoing issues/struggles and how God wins!

Is God enough for you?