Thursday, February 26, 2015
We left for Disneyland on Christmas day 2014. The girls created this incredible play back in july which included songs, dances, acting, costumes, posters, and a financial plan that they had come up with so that our family could spend the Holidays in their favorite location. There were ideas of turning off lights, forgoing Christmas gifts,and promises to flush the toilet less- for water conservation and all. There was a business plan where they would sell baked goods, cash in all of their coins, and sell their old clothes in a garage sale. When it was all said and done they proudly handed us 283.00 for our trip having no idea that this wouldn't even cover the Disney passes. Neal and I took it to the Lord and asked if he could help us bless our girls with this dream come true and eventually we saved up enough to go.
To say that it is crowded in the park on New Years would be an understatement. We found it quite exhausting to get around, plus it was incredibly cold! My oldest daughter and I got in line for hot chocolate and somewhere behind us we could here some incredibly jazzy tunes being played. We peeked through the bushes to see sax players, crooners, and swing dancers. We decided to sit and watch. I wish you could've seen me sitting there with the most gigantic smile you've ever seen plastered across my face! I fell in love with the dancers, loved watching how their feet floated along the floor effortlessly, loved the incredible skirts and crazy high heels, and lost my self watching them dance. In my joy it must've looked like I was dying for someone to ask me to dance and so the nicest, and COOLEST of the dancers asked me to join him on the dance floor. I shook my head nervously and explained that I didn't know the dance and he promised me that I could trust him, that he wouldn't steer me wrong. It was awkward at first as my feet felt tied up under his effortless floating steps but eventually I started to catch on. I wish I had a video of this moment as I would throw my head back in laughter and as I improved the steps got more and more complicated and he was guiding me around the dance floor twirling me, and swinging me around as if I had done this for years. He was an incredible leader and I surrendered to his moves while he whisked me around and my girls watched on. They said later that it actually looked like I knew what I was doing... he was a great leader...
The last few weeks have been incredibly challenging for me. It seemed as though everywhere I turned there was something negative happening; hurtful things being said, relationships struggling, mistakes happening, and my head was spinning. It's hard to gain your footing when it feels like the world is whirling around you. Have you ever been on one of those gravity rides where it starts to spin faster and faster and faster and you get plastered to the wall like static cling until the ride begins to slow?? This has been my February. I have this horrible tendency of trying to save myself when life feels like it's spinning out of control. I have my own ideas of how my life should look, of how high my standards should be, of how people should view me and I try to live up to a standard that no one can achieve... I try to save myself... And in this I go down hard because I am incapable of saving me. I try to be a soldier, holding myself tightly, and erect, hands firmly clasped to my sides, tall and perfect, but this is a facade because inside I'm running for cover.
I keep coming back to this...
while I DANCE to the tune of your revelation, my troubles turned out all for the best.
and vs. 77 Now comfort me so I can live, really live; your revelation is the tune I DANCE to.
and this word DANCE has jumped off the page at me.
And it makes me ponder.
What if I could relax and stop trying so hard to save myself. What if my trust in Jesus was so secure that I could DANCE even when the world around me is spinning.
Isaiah 30:16-17 says Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourself. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me- the very thing you've been unwilling to do.
oh man... that hits me between the eyes.
the very thing I've been unwilling to do?!
I have to confess it's true. I'm still learning about grace. Still learning that I don't have to be perfect.
One of the wisest people I know this week told me that God has seen every stupid thing I've ever done AND HAVE YET TO DO.
AND HE CHOSE ME ANYWAY...
And I have to confess...
The reason I try SO HARD to be perfect is because I know that I don't really deserve it....
I don't really deserve to dance and run in wide open spaces.
But that my dear, dear friends IS grace... He knows EVERYTHING about you. Every tiny detail, every ugly thought, every rude remark, every time you took something to forget, everything you've looked at online, everything you've spoken over your kids, every rude thought about your spouse, everything.
AND HE CHOSE YOU ANYWAYS.
GRACE, GRACE God's grace, grace that is greater that ALL my sin.
vs 19 of that same chapter in Isaiah says "Cry for help and you'll find it's grace and more grace. THE MOMENT HE HEARS, he'll answer."
And it makes me think of the dance.
I can see myself sitting on that bench on the sidelines, watching as everyone else seems so pretty, so effortlessly gliding, and I wish, oh how I wish I could dance.
And then I see my savior hear my cry, the cry that I thought was only in my head, and he walks over and extends his hand. I try to tell him that I don't know what I'm doing, that my feet are going to get all tangled up, but something inside me lets him lead. At first I feel clumsy amongst the other dancers but I fix my gaze to his. He looks down on my with the kindest most loving eyes, one arm wrapped around my back, the other firmly clasping my hand. He's a strong leader and I find my self surrendering to the sways and turns, and before you know it I'm gliding. And he comforts me so that I can live, really live. His revelation is the tune I dance to (psalm 119)
And we dance. While the world swirls and storms around me, we dance.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
It seems like everywhere I go lately I find that the women around me are struggling with their identity. We struggle with things from our past, lies we've believed about ourselves, and comparison. These things reek havoc on our security and we walk around battling depression, feelings of inadequacy, and insecurity.
That insecurity has been allowed to have way to big of a role in my life taking over who I was and fought against who God has called me to be! For awhile it seemed to be winning the battle until I began to believe the truth about God's word! That God is for me, that he has a plan and a purpose for my life!
For many years I was a stay at home mom and there were days when I felt disappointed that my biggest accomplishment of the day was to clean the bathroom, which really was a total lie from the enemy because I forgot that I was doing the massively important task of feeding my children, bathing my children, teaching my children, correcting my children, training their little hearts... and all the things we can discount as small when you compare yourselves to other women that SEEM to be doing so much more. Fast forward to this year when I've started my own business and have had many failures and so much to learn along the way that I find myself wishing for the safety I felt as a stay at home mom. There's always something...
My friend Jeanne is offering this free course called Becoming, The Unfolding of You starting in January and there will be many amazing women who will share their own stories of God in their lives! I truly believe this will be a course filled with encouragement to women that we were born with a purpose, that the plans God has for us are to prosper us, that He works ALL THINGS for good, even what seems to be the most shameful of sins, ALL THINGS! That no matter where you find yourself right this very minute, God has a destiny that's specifically yours! He believes in you and is ON YOUR SIDE!
I sat down over the weekend and shared what God placed on my heart while my husband video taped. And then, wouldn't you know as I watched the video I wished I had worn something different, and noticed that my bangs looked funny, and probably looked at my notes one to many times and thought about retaking the video. But I realized that all those things were about me, about the exact things we struggle with as women worrying what people will think, and this is not about me, this is about GOD's story through my story!
I believe that your story is powerful! And God can use your story to encourage those who are coming up behind you. I also believe that there's an enemy that's trying to steal your story from you through discouragement because he wants to render us ineffective as women.
But what if...
What if we believe that WE ARE WHO GOD SAYS WE ARE.
What if we chose to reach up and grasp the hand of our heavenly Father even if at first our eyes are squeezed shut tight as we trust him not to lead us down the wrong path.
What if we DARED to trust that God made something AMAZING in us! Something that HE'S SO PROUD OF!
What if we chose to accept our story, no matter how dirty or shameful or maybe even boring that it may seem and hand it over to the King of Kings to use as testimony in the lives of those around us...
What if we dare to believe... to risk...
What if it turns out that in that risk we find our destiny...
I see those toes dangling over the edge of the diving board while you look to the waters that look so deep below you. Take a leap of faith! Plug your nose and JUMP!
God has a plan for you in this study! Won't you join the amazing women who are bravely sharing their stories and sign up for this free course? Here are the details:
This January join 20 women for an 8 week study all about finding your true identity in Christ. Each week you will hear unfolding stories from the women in this study. We will be sharing truths about who the Lord says we are and our personal journeys to accepting those truths.
We will also have fun creative videos that follow the study where the women will share one of their gifts. Think guitar playing, bread making, painting, entertaining and more. You know I can't have a course without sharing how the Lord uses our creativity! My hope is that the study will give you fresh eyes for the Lord and yourself. When we know who we are in Christ it changes everything and opens our paths and gifts in incredible new ways.
Some of us are carrying around "truths" about ourselves that are flat out lies and it's time to lay them down.
You can read more about Jeanne's beautiful heart for this free course and find information about registering here:
Monday, October 6, 2014
There's been an awakening in my soul if you will, like I've been in a summer slumber and now I'm beginning to stir. I find I'm moved by beauty, it stirs me, entices me, draws me out. I wake to a thick grey fog this October morning causing the lights of the ferry to poke through its density, casting soft shimmers in the ripples of the sound. I feel cozy, bringing out the thick, nubby blankets and pulling up the cable knit stockings. I'm drawn to soup, making big pots on the weekend, savoring the chopping of the vegetables, the slow stirring, the warm smells. It's love for me, leaving something warm for the girls as they run to and fro darting from soccer to dance to sax lessons. They're busy, We're busy, but they know that when the come home at the end of the day something special will be on the stove and they can pull up a bar stool while I ladle them a large bowl of hearty soup and butter a piece of crusty bread while I listen. I'm trying to hear their hearts, encourage their dreams, and remind them always that they are lovely.
As the world seems to be increasingly moving faster and faster I long for my home to be a slow place where there's laughter, love, and food. I not only want our bodies to be nourished but our souls to flourish in the vastness of all that God has for us. I want to practice being still because it's in the stillness where I'm finding my rest! I keep thinking of the term "wide open spaces" and when that runs through my head I picture me running with my hair flying behind me and my skirt whipping from left to right, there's a smile on my face and I'm looking upward soaking in life! Hmmm.... I feel it now, LIFE, and I want to drink it, and grasp it, and soak in the warmth of it! Life Abundant; throwing off all that hinders; pride, wounds, broken hearts, broken lives; I'm throwing it off like a coat that's making me too hot and feels to heavy while I run in the sun and leave it behind, in the dust, where it's never to be put on again. That coat; it closes me off, cuts me away from living an open and generous life, and I want it no more.
There's a gentle nudge in my soul saying, "Time to get up sleepy head, you've hidden away for far to long. Lift up your eyes and see! See all that I want to show you! The world is alive with wonder and it's all me! Notice how when the leaves turn red and fall from the tree it's not a straight fall, but a dance. The leaf blows to the right and is picked up by a breeze, does a turn, and flutters and dances it's way to the ground."
And I'm amazed! You mean you own the skies yet you still want my heart? And he does. So I run.
12 slices bacon
1 cup cubed ham
2/3 cup margarine
2/3 cup all-purpose flour (I substituted with cup4cup gluten free flour)
4 cups milk
3 cups chicken broth
4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 large onion
1 can corn
4 green onions, chopped
1 1/4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium heat until browned. Drain, crumble, and set aside. Cube ham and add to bacon.
In a stock pot or Dutch oven, melt the margarine over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in milk and broth, whisking constantly until thickened. Stir in potatoes, onions, and corn. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Mix in bacon, ham, cheese, sour cream, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted.
Monday, June 9, 2014
Well they say it takes 3 weeks to break a habit and I'm here to testify. I can honestly say that I barely think about shopping anymore. My husband and I were talking and I shared a horrible thought, in 18 years of marriage this is the first time I've gone this long without buying anything if you're including magazines or candles or flowers. It feels good, it feels in control. I only have 9 days to go and I have to say that this is one of the smartest things I've ever done because not only did it make me realize how much I was spending just to scratch an itch but it also caused me to be very aware of my spending in other areas. I'd have to say that the area that was the most out of control for my family was the grocery bill which we've improved by making one large grocery run on the weekend at Costco or a local less expensive grocery store and then eating from what we've bought for the rest of the week. My girls informed me that they'd like to eat more salad so this week we went to Costco and stocked UP on produce! I have tomatoes, avocados, jalapeños, spring mix salad, peppers, cucumbers, peaches, limes, cilantro, feta, and from there I can make up all sorts of goodies!
The other night we visited my cousins farm where they served up a popcorn sized bowl of fresh salsa which was a.maz.ing! That ended the store bought salsa plan for me! So tonight I whipped up a batch of salsa and my family munched on it while I cooked up some chicken and made salads. It's a production around here as I just line up the bowls on the counter and toss in the veggies. We are eating WELL and spending HALF of what we used to spend by doing things this way. A little planning seems to go a long way! And I must confess that it's nice to have food in the fridge and pantry and not have to run to the store every time I need to prepare a meal. We've barely eaten out which has also saved us money.
One problem, I've put on a little weight with all of this yummy food in the house so I'll need to work on the self control! I've found it super therapuetic to chop the fresh veggies and make things like salsa and guacamole to top our chips and burgers with and I'm getting spoiled because fresh tastes so much better than store bought! Costco has even started carrying the blue corn chips so that's a huge plus!
I'm super glad we did this! I'd say that it's been a smart move for me! The other thing that has really helped is taking the time to track where our money is going, that way if we're getting out of control in an area, like the groceries, we can fix things before we find ourselves in a heap of trouble again. I've found myself referring back to the old Dave Ramsey way of doing things and I'm leaning towards more of a cash system once this is all said and done! I think we're onto a good thing here and I don't want to mess it up!
And it looks like we started this all just in the nick of time because my daughter was given a hefty ortho bill recently and I had to kiss going to Hawaii anytime soon bye bye. That's why I bought that pineapple you see in the photo above, it's my consolation praise. If any of you happens to be traveling to Hawaii soon (you know who you are haha) I will take a care package. haha
Love ya! ;O)
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Yesterday marked 15 days into my 30 day challenge which means that I'm half way there! Never in a million years did I realize how much this challenge would affect me! In only 2 weeks my mind has been changed in regards to spending. Do you know what I've found to be the most true??
I'm really, really grateful!
I mean truly, deeply grateful for every little thing! And it's not just things, it's this whole new grateful attitude that's been building inside of me. I'm grateful for my life! I feel so taken care of, so loved, people have been so generous to me!
I did a little exercise today. I made all sorts of columns and bars and such and I calculated where we were at 2 weeks ago as far as spending on groceries, eating out, tithe, misc. items, anthropologie type shopping, etc and then I compared it to the first 2 weeks of this challenge and do you know what I found?? The ONLY THING that went up was our tithe. This is not because we are making more money but because we're being more intentional about putting Jesus first with every dollar that comes into our home! EVERY OTHER COLUMN WENT DOWN! And I don't mean just a little down, but a LOT! EVEN the groceries! Like cut in half!! And this feels like a miracle because we've barely eaten out at all which means we're eating home for every meal~! I don't know how God's economy works but I like his math! I've watched this over and over in my life in different areas, God honors obedience!
When I go out into the garden to cut peonies for my table I feel so blessed. As I was digging through the fridge this afternoon looking for something to prepare for dinner I was able to scrounge enough vegetables together for a salad and throw a pot of spaghetti together because we were trying to hold out until tomorrow before spending more money on groceries! We feel like we're eating like kings!
God blessed me with something else as well, on the first day of this journey I had a Starbucks card which was given to me for my birthday which I allowed myself to use for dates and such! I treated it as gold saving it for when I really wanted a treat! A few days ago I went to the mailbox and someone dear sent me another card to keep me going until I can spend again, a gift from God, and I've enjoyed each Americano immensely!
And do you remember me talking about putting things I might want when this is over on a secret board on pinterest to think about? It turns out I don't really want any of that stuff anymore except for one pretty dress that I still dream about sometimes but that's the only thing left! I was thinking about how many useless items I've purchased over the last year simply because my fingers were itching to buy. It's usually those items that don't last as long in my closet. I find myself wanting to slow down and only get something it it's extra, extra special.
This afternoon this cookbook arrived from a giveaway I won on one of my FAVORITE blogs and so I'm excited to curl up in my lounge chair outside with my favorite blanket wrapped around my legs while I figure out how to make the chorizo gravy guacamole loaded nachos cuz I'm thinking I need to get those into my belly this weekend!!
God has been so faithful to me! I'm giddy as a school girl! I so super, duper, highly recommend this 30 day cleanse of your finances! You learn SO MUCH! And I feel so much wiser now! I think that when I was in the buy, buy, buy mode it was never enough! And now I'm suddenly so super content and relaxed about not shopping! I'm even saving money on gas!!!
Wonder what's going to happen after the 30 days is up?? Cuz right now I feel like that song where she sings, "spirit lead me where my trust is without borders" only this time it's with my finances.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Ten days in! I can hardly believe it! I'm a third of the way there!! And I haven't slipped up once yet! Woo hoo! I find it therapeutic to cross off each day before bed! It makes me feel proud of myself somehow.
But I have a confession to make...
I think I chose an easy time to embark on this journey, the peonies are in full bloom and so I've been filling my home with beautiful flowers from the garden. I have SIX peony bushes if you can believe it! I had 5 but Jeanne bought me another for my birthday which will always make me think of my special friend. It's my favorite flower in all the universe, especially the Sarah Bernhardt ones because they look like fluffy pink candy and make the perfect fluffy balls!! I've already decided that when I move I'm tagging the peonies and taking them with me! We've lived here ten years so my plants are good and established, this means that one bush alone probably has at least 50 blooms! Could you just barf right now?? I know!
Also, the weather has been pretty great around here which beckons me outdoors. I run in the morning and then try and take afternoon walks with my mom and sister, this keeps me out of trouble. One thing I've figured out during this cleanse is that I often spend out of boredom. In the cold, damp winter season I get so stir crazy being cooped up in the house that it's almost like my fingers itch to buy something or go out to eat just to break up the monotony! With the sunnier, warmer evenings we've been content to sit out on the deck and relax in the sun while we wait for our food to grill, it's wonderful and really curbs the eating out desire!
At the beginning of this phase there were so many things I could think of that I wanted to buy so I made a private "wishes" board on my pinterest page of all the things I might want once our cleanse was over. As the days have passed most of those things have been deleted because I've realized that I don't really want or need those items. The ones that remain I've decided will stay until they go on sale and if at that point I'm still interested and the spending freeze is over, then I can think about it.
My sister is really great at sticking to a budget and blows my mind with the amazing things she finds for cheap because she's patient! She once found a pair of Uggs for 25 dollars, brand new! She's made fun of my spending before for things like fancy soap in the kitchen. Her exact quote was, "I'm washing my hands with cash!" When she put it that way I never bought such fancy schmancy soap again. She told me at the beginning of my 30 day journey that she bet that by the end of the 30 days I'd be so used to not buying things that I may just realize that there's not that many things I'm willing to spend money on anymore.
This is proving to be true. In only ten days I no longer feel the desire to buy something new, makes me wonder how much more this will change after 20 more days! They say it takes 3 weeks to change a habit and I'm hoping this change in permanent.
Sunday, May 25, 2014
Happy Memorial Day weekend! I sure hope you're enjoying yourselves! It's been pretty quiet around these parts, we've stayed in, watched movies on the DVR, made popcorn, splurged on cherry coke, and I've cooked a little. Yesterday we did find ourselves a couple of hours with no kids so we used that golden Starbucks card and went on a coffee date. We sat outdoors at a table and discussed some big dreams for the coming year and even some bigger dreams for our future. I think it's easier to stay on task with this 30 day challenge when I know that changes in our spending habits could lead to huge dreams coming true one day!
I'm an early bird and am always the first person up in our family. While I wait for Neal to join me for our daily Bible reading together I usually grab a cup of coffee and sit at my desk and poke around pinterest, go over the budget, etc. My desk is my special spot, like mommy's little oasis. Most of the books here were gifts from someone dear, the candle was a very generous birthday gift from a sweet lady that I love with my whole heart! There's pictures of my loved ones and flowers from my garden.
I was SO tempted to cheat the other day!! I had to run into TJ Maxx with my youngest to grab a birthday gift for a slumber party she was invited to and did a dumb thing and found myself wandering over to the dress section where there were Roxy maxi dresses for less than 20 dollars! It's embarrassing how I was trying to legitimize the purchase of a new dress! The price was great! The dress was DARLING! Thankfully I couldn't find my size. I don't think I would've given in at this point but it's ridiculous how tempted I was! I'm still learning to just say no!
Spending less has actually allowed for a quieter life which I'm really enjoying! I was thinking back to my early 30s when Neal and I were pretty broke and I hardly ever got online to check my email because dial up took about 15 minutes to load and I didn't have the patience. Now we have the internet when we're sitting at a red light and looking for something to do. When I was younger if the mail arrived and there was a Pottery Barn catalog in the mailbox it would feel like I had just received a free magazine and I'd get myself something to drink and sit and enjoy looking through the pages while the girls napped. I'm reminded of a simpler lifestyle and it's good!
I still have 25 days left of no spending and it kind of feels long but it also feels good too. We came up with the idea of celebrating at the end of this season by going to a favorite restaurant as a family for dinner!
We've changed our spending habits, made tithe a number one priority to honor the Lord, and slowed down and God is honoring this! Work has picked up for me and I'm truly grateful for this! I LOVE to work and use my schooling! I'm starting to understand that the Lord lead us down this path of financial freedom so that we can be more available to be used for His kingdom! I can't help but think that when I'm buying dresses and Anthropologie and buying things for myself all the time I'm working to build my kingdom, but when I lay that all down it would seem he's beginning to change my heart towards HIS kingdom. It's not like I will never get a new dress again it's more like how many do I really need?
One last thought, I've noticed that this spending freeze has freed up time for me. When I shop, shop, shop it usually leads to coming home and figuring out what I need to return because of overspending and this also takes up time. This freed up time has had me outdoors where God is opening doors for us to chat with our neighbors. They're opening up to us about where they are in life and some are going through some difficult seasons. As I chatted with one lady the other day I promised to feed her this summer on our deck and hopefully just be a blessing to her and to those around our home.
Isn't it just like the Lord to take a small thing like a 30 day challenge and use it to open big doors for his kingdom! I like the way his economy works!