Saturday, January 31, 2009
My next goal is to get large containers for the large amounts of things. As you see, I used the large folger coffee container for my organic rolled oats, but I have nothing for my flour! Oh well! The flour will go into the freezer when it gets opened anyway!
My pantry feels much less cluttered, and easier to use! That's the goal anyway!
Friday, January 30, 2009
This is $8.79 for 12.7 oz!
It is 22 oz, for only $7.06. It is Raw, Organic Honey.
Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil- 54 oz for only $21.79. I have done a LOT of searching, and this is considered CHEAP. Most are this much for 16 oz! And, Nutiva is one of the leading brands. This brand on nutiva.com is $32.99 for the same size.
Dr. Bronner's Organic Baby Mild Castile Soap, 32 oz. In most stores, this is about $15, but on Vitacost, it is $9.32.
Ingredients: Water, Saponified Organic Coconut & Organic Olive Oils (w/ Retained Glycerin), Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Citric Acid, Vitamin E.
All of these ingredients are edible! This stuff has SOOOO many uses. You can use it to make cleaners, as a baby wash, as an ingredient in homemade shampoo (will post a recipe once I try it), as body wash, and even as an ingredient in homemade toothpaste. And those are just a few uses!
Nature's Plus Source of Life Animal Parade Children's Vitamins. 180 tablets, $12.98. I bought some of these at HEB for $11.99, but it was half the amount of tablets!! This is a great deal. The best part is that it's whole foods based!
Other Ingredients: Fructose, citric acid, guar gum, natural cherry, orange and grape flavors, magnesium stearate, spirulina (naturally rich in essential nutrients), rose hips (Rosa canina fruit), whole brown rice, broccoli, spinach, mango fruit, carrot, West Indian cherry (Malpighia glabra fruit) and papaya fruit. Mineral aminoates are hypo-allergenic whole brown rice chelates.
Tom's of Maine Children's Fluoride Free Toothpaste, $3.00!
Seventh Generation Chlorine Free Training Pants, 29, $11.89. The cheapest that I have found these in a store is $14.99! They are simple, but cute. Karis likes them because on the front it says 1, 2, then it has a picture of a tree :). 1, 2, tree. So, everytime she puts them on, she laughs. And on the back, it just says "back." We will be switching to cloth training pants this month, though, because it'll save us quite a bit. Karis only uses them at night anyway, so we would only need 2-3 cloth training pants. Cloth is just the way to go! :)
Seventh Generation Chlorine Free Bleach. We use this to "strip" Ethan's cloth diapers. If you want to know what that means, ask me. ha! It's $5.32 for 64 oz.
Shipping is $4.99 no matter how much you order. I had a 22 pound box last week (10 cans of formula, training pants, chlorine free bleach, vitamins), and shipping was only $4.99. I have found one better deal on Coconut Oil ($41 for a gallon), but the shipping was $15, so it's really not as good of a deal once you pay the shipping (because I don't consider shipping to be part of the cost when I order from Vitacost, because I will only order it when I order formula anyway!).
I think I might try to see if I can make these groceries stretch 4 weeks! That would be awesome!
Here are some of the great deals that I got:
3, 5 lb bags of Organic Whole Wheat Flour (Arrowhead Mills brand) $2.69 each!!!!!!
5 lbs Organic Unbleached All Purpose Flour (Also Arrowhead Mills brand) $3.29!
These are normally at least $6 for a 5 lb bag. This is an AMAZING savings.
32 oz Organic Apple Cider Vinegar $2.99
12 oz Organic Maple Syrup $9.99
64 oz Organic (not from concentrate) Apple Juice $3.49 (normal price, cheaper than anything that I have found at HEB!)
Basil and Dill weed (local, from Austin) for $1.19 each
I’m not a big fan of Walmart because they carry very few organic/natural items, but there are a few items that either I can’t find anywhere else, or I can’t find as cheap anywhere else.
El Milagro brand Tortilla chips, corn tortillas, and flour tortillas (locally made, in Austin), all made with non-hydrogenated oils (the only place to find these, and they are YUMMY) $5.63 total
Unrefined sugar (We buy a brand from Mexico, in the “Hispanic foods section,” called Zulka- it’s completely unrefined, and it’s inexpensive. It is less refined than the Central Market brand organic sugar, so we prefer this. Walmart is the only place that we can find this) $1.98, 4 lbs
Toilet paper, 12 double rolls, $5.00!! (Angel Soft) (this is the only paper product that we buy now- we have started using towels instead of paper towels)
2, ½ gallons Organic Milk (I bought 1 gallon at $4.99, and 2 half gallons. I did it this way because I had a coupon for $2 off a ½ gallon; I normally buy 2 gallons) $5.98-$2.00= $3.98
2 dozen Free nesting eggs, $4.58-$1.00=$3.58
Organic Mint Fields Hot Herbal Tea, $7.27 for 50 cups!
Annie’s Organic Mac N Cheese, $1.99-0.50= $1.49
Kirk’s Castile Soap, $1.19
Big Coupon- $10 off $50 or more (got in the mail!)
Thursday, January 29, 2009
As most people know (and I’ve written about it on here), I have issues with anxiety. It comes out most in being extremely worried about what others think of me, and with the need for everything to be perfect. I realize that those are both sin, but at times it’s something that I don’t have control over. I have been diagnosed with an “anxiety disorder,” and over the past several years I have gone through times in which I’ve tried to cover it up (through meds), and times in which I just felt like I was doomed to struggle for the rest of my life.
I am beginning to realize something (well, I have come to this realization to an extent in the past, but it gets deeper and deeper). The best thing that I can do is learn to accept who I am, anxiety issues and all. Yes, I have times when I am obsessive over things that I can’t do anything about, yes I have tendencies to try to do things perfectly even though it’s impossible, yes I care too much about what others think of me at times, yes I expect too much out of myself. This is part of who I am. And praise God for these weaknesses! Without these weaknesses, I would have no need for a Father who has the power to overcome them!
The more I try to cover my struggles up (by taking meds), the more I don’t feel the need for my Savior to walk with me through them. The more I freak out about them and feel that I’m such a horrible person because of them, the more I try to take control and just “do better.” The more I focus on my weaknesses and think that I’m the only person in the world who struggles with this, the more self-centered I get, and I forget who made me, and that He has the power to overcome these weaknesses. If I focus on my struggles and weaknesses, then I am just focusing on myself, and that does not do any good for anyone else, including my family.
I am who I am, and I praise God for making me the way He did. I pray that He is glorified through my weaknesses! I pray that His strength and power is shown through my struggles. I pray that others will be drawn closer to Him, and that people will see Him when they see me! I pray that His power will be shown as He heals me, daily, from my hurts and struggles.
Praise Jesus for His death on the cross and His resurrection from death because through that, I have life! I have victory over this sin through the blood of Christ. My sin has already been forgiven when I accepted Him as the Lord and Savior of my life!
Only through loving and accepting the person that I have been created to be, can I truly learn to live and my struggles will slowly get easier and easier.
Jesus could never love me more or less. He has always, and will always love me unconditionally, despite what I do or don’t do. Praise God for that!
(Check back tomorrow for a post about the best shopping trip EVER!)
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cup coconut oil
6 tablespoons cold water
1. Put flour into mixing bowl and cut coconut oil into the flour.
2. Add salt and water
3. Mix until dough is formed
4. Roll out on flat surface
5. Bake at 375 degrees until brown
I bake the bottom part of the crust for about 15 minutes first, then add filling and follow directions from there.
The filling: (I will do my best to give exact amounts; I just throw it together!)
3 small red potatoes (or any kind of potato that you like)
1 tablespoon butter and a drizzle of olive oil (enough to saute potatoes, onions, and garlic)
1 small yellow onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
8 oz organic frozen mixed veggies (next time I will probably use a small amt. of steamed fresh green beans, carrots, and corn)
1 can cream of mushroom soup (next time I will make this homemade using this recipe- http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2008/05/freezer-meals-chicken-divan.html- go all the way to the bottom to find the cream of mushroom soup sub.)
1 1/2 cups cubed turkey (we still had some frozen from Christmas!); you can also use chicken if you'd like!
1. Dice potatoes and onions; saute in garlic, butter and olive oil (I use both because I like both flavors, you can choose one) until potatoes are as soft as you like them. Season with favorite seasoning blend (I love nature's season).
2. 8 oz of mixed veggies- cook in microwave or on stove top using a bit of water (1/4 cupish) :); drain water
3. Add veggies, turkey, and creamed soup; mix well
4. Simmer for about 5 minutes (stir occasionally)
5. Add to bottom pie crust, place other pie crust on top, cut a slit in top, and cook for 30 minutes or lightly browned.
I will be doing in differently in that I'm not going to make a big fuss about it. No long lesson plans, or hours spent on coming up with ideas. I will do the activities in the morning while Ethan's asleep (or on days that I work, I will do them right when I get home, before her nap).
Some great activities for themes/letters/numbers, etc can be found at:
This is the site that I use the most when trying to come up with activities. It also has a whole section dedicated to toddlers! It's a wonderful resource!
Today we read the book The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, and then we made a picture of a snowy day to go along with the book. We used chalk for the snow, and snowflake stickers. I cut a little boy out like in the book, and we glued him in the snow. Karis enjoyed it! We talked about what snow and ice is, and why it doesn't really snow here. She may not of understood everything, but I figure, start now! We had some ice in the trees today, so it helped with my explanation.
Books!! It is best to read to your child 15 minutes a day or more. She likes to read the books to us, and to her little brother as well :).
Puppets! We have a few finger puppets, and a few regular puppets.
Wooden blocks. The possibilities are endless with just plain wooden blocks (thanks grandma for these!).
Blocks with letters, numbers, and pictures. Another great learning tool, and a lot can be done with these (thanks Uncle Joey, for these!).
Counting and Sorting Bears. She plays with these ALL the time. She counts them, sorts them by color, and uses them as "food" with her kitchen. She amazes me with the uses that she comes up with for them :).
Dramatic play things! She has a doctor kit, construction kit, dress up clothes, and a kitchen with kitchen things.
Educational games! She got these for Christmas and LOVES them.
These are by far her FAVORITE "toy." They are foam bath letters, although, she very rarely uses them in the bathtub! She "makes words" with them all day long and makes many other uses for them. Another one that she uses for food in her "kitchen."
Another simple, yet favorite toy. These are foam pattern blocks. She finds many uses for these as well.
And, when all else fails, a laundry basket "car" keeps her entertained! Ha!
Monday, January 26, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Check out my planning spreadsheet: http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pIl6sWamBR06pzx8YQRNwPw. The only issue that I have with it is the need to make it perfect, so I may end up ditching it if it continues to complicate things :). I may end up just making a list, written, on paper. We'll see :). Computers complicate things much of the time!! Life was much more simple when computers weren't around (I say this as I'm typing on my computer haha!).
Some goals that I have are to not have to buy cream cheese, sour cream, or yogurt one day. But, for now, I will continue buying them as I can only learn to make new things one day at a time! The next thing I'm going to try is homemade "creamed" soups. I have been wanting to do this for a long time, and I have finally found a recipe that seems like it's worth trying! We will also be planting a garden in the next few weeks, and I hope that it goes well!! We are going to plant squash, green beans, tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, potatoes, and carrots. So, we won't have to buy near the amount of produce that we currently do, hopefully!!!
As far as personal care products, cleaning products, etc, the only things that I will be buying for now are razors and deodorant (because I can't make a anti-perspirant- I realize that it's not good for you, but I can' be sweating while I'm teaching jr. highers!! I will only use the store bought kind on days that I teach, and the one I use is a 2 out of 10 on the data base!); the rest will be homemade using coconut oil, Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Castile soap, apple cider vinegar, essential oils, baking soda, Borax, washing soda, etc. I just keep a large supply of these items, and so much can be done with them!!! Also, on top of using coconut oil in personal care products, I will be using it to cook and bake with also. It has no hydrogenated oils and is cholesterol free among many other benefits!! I will write a post about it when I have time, and as I gather more information about it.
Friday, January 23, 2009
“May God give you- and me- the courage, the wisdom, the strength always to hold the kingdom of God as the number one priority of our lives. To do so is to live in simplicity.”Celebration of Discipline (p. 87)
Creating Simplicity in my heart and home
~ Going through ideas/Beginning changes (some of these changes we have already been making, I/we will just step it up a notch!)
1) Simplify my household notebook(s)- put them into two (instead of 4).
· One main one- it includes calendar, daily planner, menu planning, shopping, finances, research and info, gardening, Bible study, personal (cycle chart, continuing ed printouts, etc), homemade items recipes (food staples, cleaners, and personal care products), etc. Second one- contains kids’ stuff (Bible study, activities, immunization charts, homemade baby food, etc.)
· Get rid of anything that is causing more stress; make the daily usage easy and simple.
· I have created new menu planning pages that make it simple, and will help us save money (a daily theme for dinner, and lists of different items for breakfast will always be in the section… then, I will use that to create my weekly meals, which will all be written on one sheet).
· My daily planner is now all on one sheet (to do lists, meals for the day, food log, etc).
· My shopping list (with prices) are on one sheet, and I now have a written price book written on plain paper instead of a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets are too complicated!! This way, I can just update as I go. I will also start carrying around a tiny notebook to write down new prices as I find them (while I’m doing my normal shopping).
2) This morning, I went through and got rid of TONS of toys and other baby/toddler items (I kept ones that are actually necessary, and purged the rest). I sold some to a re-sale shop, and the rest I will give away. I have always believed that the best toys are BOOKS, shape sorters, wooden blocks and legos, paper and crayons, paint, play dough, items to do imaginary play, educational games, etc. We just somehow kept accumulating toys!!! The newest thought is that if they are bulky/plastic, and make too much noise, they aren’t for our family!! Soon, I will go through Karis’ clothes and organize them. I will keep a lot of them for future kids (and to let my friend borrow since almost all of Ethan’s clothes have come from her!), but I will get rid of ones that I never liked, or just any extra that I don’t think we will use. Kids need more clothes than adults because of accidents, getting dirty, etc, but they don’t need 25 pairs of pants or shorts!
3) Next, I will be going through my clothes and Robert will go through his. We both have a lot of clothes that either don’t fit, or we never wear. My closet is full of clothes, yet I somehow still end up wearing the same ones over and over. That says a lot about how much I DON’T need the majority of the clothes in my closet!!! It will be good to give clothes away that we don’t need, to people who truly need them. It is just wasteful to have them since we’re not using them. I will let you know how this goes when we get to it.
4) I am also slowly weeding out personal care products, and replacing them with homemade or natural products. I have recently found that personal care products do not have to pass a safety test for the FDA to approve them. A great website http://www.cosmeticdatabase.com/ is full of information on your daily used products. Most of them are full of toxic chemicals. It will also cost less to make our own because we can make a lot of them with just a few items (coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, castile soap, corn starch, essential oils, etc). I have already been making our cleaning products and detergents, and I LOVE it. I will be posting recipes for the personal care items as I begin making them. I have a lot of recipes printed out from some websites, but I want to test them before I post them!! Some of these include toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, deodorant, and lotion. I’m excited to try them!! Like always, I will probably change them a little to make them work the best for us.The two best items to have around are castile soap (I LOVE Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild Liquid soap) and coconut oil. I am just now learning of all the uses and benefits of coconut oil.
5) Meals will get more simple and be focused on nutrition and value. I will be doing breakfasts that are focused on nutrition and simplicity as well. Examples are soaked oatmeal, homemade granola and yogurt, whole wheat pancakes, breakfast tacos, granola bars, etc. Lunches will either be leftovers, a sandwich, or in the dining hall. Snacks will be fruits/veggies, homemade crackers, Annie’s crackers (probably the only convenience food I will buy!), etc.
I will be planning dinner meals according to a daily theme. I will be cutting out many meat meals, and replacing them with other forms of protein that are less expensive (mostly beans and lentils). My themes include: breakfast night, soup and salad, beans/lentils with rice or maybe fish, special dinner night (this will probably be the most expensive), casserole/crock pot meal. There will be a few nights (usually 2) that we will eat in the dining hall, and any other meals will be leftovers.
6) I plan to have a baking day one day a week. I will make 2 loaves of bread, leave one out, and freeze the other one. When we get a deep freeze, I will begin doing this for the month. Currently, that would not be realistic because we don’t have the room in our freezer! I will also begin slowly making meals double so that we can freeze a whole batch! But, again, that will have to wait until we get a deep freeze. This will help save time and make life more simple!! We are going to slowly accumulate Pyrex glass storage containers. These are the best and healthiest way to store!!
I will also be making our own tortillas, crackers, granola and bars, etc. (I have been doing this already, but will do more of it!!). This saves money, and is healthier!! Yes, it takes more time, but it’s worth it. Karis likes to help do these things too, so it’s a bonus!!
We are going to be putting a garden in soon!! Organic produce that we don’t have to pay for!! It will also be great family time, a learning experience for Karis, and a way to be somewhat self sufficient. I would love to be able to be self sufficient one day!!!
7) Robert and I plan to have at least one more child, but maybe more. We have learned, after having Ethan, that there are only a few items that are completely NECESSARY for babies. For us, that includes clothing, diapers, a couple of blankets (especially the kind for swaddling), burp rags (we use the Gerber pre-folds sold at Target or Walmart), bottles (not always even necessary), a breast pump, sling/carrier, crib, and a few crib sheets. Anything else is just extra. We also have a bouncer and exersaucer, but they really aren’t necessary, we just already have them and love them! A stroller is also nice to have (and we have a new double stroller thanks to the Sansom’s!!!). But, again, these items aren’t NECESSARY. I love that we won’t have to buy anything for a new baby except for maybe a few more cloth diapers (if we have another before Ethan is potty trained, which is likely)!!! We have everything that we need! So, the only expense will be to pay the midwife, and that expense is worth it!!!
8) One of the things that used to have a grip on me were the NEED to eat out all the time, and the NEED to drink sodas (mainly Dr. P). I was recently freed from those “needs,” and it’s awesome. We have spent maybe $15 all month on eating out, and those were unexpected situations. It’s nice to eat at home (or in the dining hall J), and not even feeling the desire to eat out anymore. I have one soda every other week or so. It’s just a treat now. I don’t feel a need for this either!! A few months ago, I never would have thought that I could give up these “needs.” Praise Jesus for freeing me from these addictions!!
9) I am making a point to be outside more. My goal is to go outside every day (unless it’s REALLY cold); go for a walk (with our new double stroller, thanks to the Sansom’s!), go to the playground, play in the sandbox, work on the garden, etc. We live on such beautiful property; we need to enjoy it more!! We desire to enjoy God’s creation more!! It’s also free, and helps free me from depression/anxiety.
10) Robert and I have already been working on this, but something that we are currently, slowly being freed from is the bondage of debt. It will take us several more years, but we are at least in the process and we see the light at the end of the tunnel!! We haven’t had even one credit card for almost a year, and it feels good. We used to always use our credit card, whether we “needed” to or not. We would keep one for “emergencies,” then things would turn into “emergencies” that weren’t really emergencies!! So, one night, I decided to cut it up, and we haven’t turned back!! That was a huge source of anxiety for me, and it has really helped to get rid of it!! I was putting my faith and trust in a piece of plastic instead of in my Savior who is the ultimate provider!! God has provided for every need; we have never gone without.
(Many ideas that I have, have come from http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/. This is a WONDERFUL site!)
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
True, inward simplicity can bring a deeper relationship with Christ, freedom from fear and anxiety, and the ability to let go of things so that others can use them.
To live simply brings freedom. To live simply brings joy and balance. "The Christian Discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward life-style." If we attempt to the have outward life-style of simplicity, but don't possess the inward reality, then that will lead to legalism. True, inward simplicity should only lead to freedom.
This book was written originally in 1978, so the things that our culture has to fight through have only grown. The new blackberries, big screen digital t.v.'s, new laptops, etc have brought more bondage than ever before. How can we get out of that bondage? Simply learn to live without it!!
Richard Foster says that we have to put God's kingdom first, even before living a simple lifestyle, or we don't truly have the inward reality of simplicity. "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:25-33 (ESV, different translation than what he used in the book).
If we don't understand that the whole point of simplicity is to seek His kingdom first, then we don't have the inward reality of simplicity, and what we do is legalistic. We seek His kingdom first, then everything else will work out. "Nothing must come before the kingdom of God, including the desire for a simple life-style. Simplicity itself becomes idolatry when it takes precendence over seeking the kingdom of God."
"As Jesus made clear in our central passage, freedom from anxiety is one of the inward evidences of seeking first the kingdom of God. The inward reality of simplicity involves a life of joyful unconcern for possessions."
I, over the years, have really struggled with anxiety. I have always lived in fear of the "what ifs." I am slowly learning that if I just put His kingdom first, everything else will just fall into place. The inward reality of simplicity is truly, slowly happening in my heart. I believe that it is a process. It won't happen overnight.
The three inner attitudes of simplicity are:
1) To receive what we have as a gift from God. We don't earn our money, God provides for our needs.
2) To know that it is God's business, and not ours, to care for what we have (and this includes children!!!!). God provided everything, he will take care of everything much better than we ever could on our own. Put everything, including your family, in His hands.
3) To have our goods available to others. Since nothing that we have is our own, it should always be available to others. This is a hard one for me, but I'm getting there!!
The inner reality is a true reality when there is an outward expression.
The outer attitudes of simplicity:
1) "Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status." Buy cars, clothes, toys, houses, everything, for what you need, and no other reason. Don't pay attention to what others think, or what you think they will think. All of our furniture, t.v., etc were given to us (by different people). They may not all match, but they work! There's no reason to buy a new couch when we have one that works perfectly fine!
2) "Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you." Non-nutritional drinks- coffee, soda, etc. Media (the ones I'm typing have some new things added in)- cell phones, computers, ipods, magazines, movies, books, etc. "Simplicity is freedom, not slavery. Refuse to be a slave to anything but God." "How can you discern an addiction? Very simply, you watch for undisciplined compulsions." Personally, there are a few things that have produced an addiction in me. I am slowly weeding through these things, but I have one big one left. The internet!! I need it for work, but that's about it. I have dumped a website that I used to be "addicted to," (Cafemom) so that helps, but I need to do better.
3) "Develop a habit of giving things away." Robert and I plan to go through Karis' toys, old clothes, our clothes, and other things, and give most of them away. I can't wait til we do this!! I totally know that the clutter just brings anxiety; it will feel good to de-clutter, and be apart of God's work. Giving things that we don't need anymore, to people in need, is exactly the point.
4) "Refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry." Do you really need the newest model i-Phone? Do you really need a new computer, even though yours works just fine? Do you really need a big screen t.v.? Luckily, this one has never been hard for us :). We have one t.v. that was given to us, and it's nothing special. We don't even watch it much anymore. We both also have the simplest cell phones available, with the lowest plan available. We even have dial up internet (that I'm thinking we need to get rid of!) :). It really does bring freedom to not feel like we have to have those things. I truly think that needs to fall under the addiction category also.
5) "Learn to enjoy things without owning them." Parks, the beach, the library, etc.
6) "Develop a deeper appreciation for the creation." Not only does being outside make you feel better in every way, you can see God in everything outside: the beauty, the texture, the color, the smell. His beauty is everywhere.
7) "Look with a healthy skepticism at all 'buy now, pay later' schemes. They are a TRAP and only DEEPEN YOUR BONDAGE." I can speak from experience that debt brings BONDAGE. You don't NEED a credit card to "develop your credit." What do you need credit for anyway? Learn to save up for things that you want, or just don't buy them!
8) "Obey Jesus' instructions about plain, honest speech." If you mean yes, then say yes; if you mean no, then say no. Make a decision and stick with it. Be honest and full of integrity.
9) "Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others."
10) Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God.
What are some things that you can do to live simply? Where do you fit in this? Have you come to a place of knowledge that God is the owner and provider of all? That He has the best ability to care for the things that we have? Do you have your things available to others? If not, maybe it's not time to focus on the outward expressions, but the inward expressions. The outward expressions will follow when you've come to an inward reality.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Some of her convictions and struggles are similar to mine as well. Here are some things that I have pulled from her posts:
"From the start let me state my position on frugality. Frugality is something that all woman, it seems, love! Almost to an extreme sometime. We must guard against raising the saving of every penny to a pedestal of idolatry in our lives. Personally, it became an idol in my life due to a lack of contentment in the resources I had to work with and an unthankful spirit for the hard work my husband was doing to provide for us. I realized other areas in my life and home were lacking proper attention because I was overly focused on saving my pennies. It caused stress, worry and anxiety which did not allow for peace and joy to enter in my home, for they were running out the window! We cannot serve God and money; therefore, saving money should always come after strengthening our relationship with the Lord, serving our husbands, and families. I began asking myself: Am I causing more stress in my family by my overly focused attention on frugality? Is my household lacking peace and attention because I am fretting about money or the lack of it? Am I too focused on saving money over serving the needs and desires of my husband?
On the other hand, we are called to be good stewards of the resources God has entrusted to us. There must be a proper balance. Fretting will get us nowhere…but purposeful planning will take us far, and keeping Christ the center will promise us success! My goal with this blog has been to keep a proper balance between seeking to edify and encourage my sisters in godliness as well as being wise frugal homemakers. But please don’t allow this topic to become a point of stress and frustration for you. Seek to do your best, do what you can, but don’t become consumed to the point that you have no peace or contentment because you are always worried about where the next dollar is going. We serve a mighty God who will provide all of our needs according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus! If he provides every need of the sparrow, how much more will He provide for your every need!"
"I must confess…I don’t have it all figured out. I wish I did. I wish I could provide you with ten simple steps to eat nutritionally and organically on a budget. But no…month by month, it seems like it just doesn’t quite work out as I had hoped. My $300 budget has often resulted in a final bill of $350 (my goal has been to get it to $300, although our budget has a buffer of $50), and that is really with nothing fancy, and includes our groceries and general household products.
With my knowledge of health and nutrition and not being able to buy everything organic has resulted in fear and worry at what the end result might be. The Lord has graciously and gradually brought me to the understanding that He is indeed sovereign! I can fret till I am blue in the face, but God is ultimately in control! I have a strong conviction that we are to eat healthy in order to be fit for the Master’s use, but again, it will not add a day unto my life apart from what has already been destined by the Father!"
These are exactly the things that I have been struggling with lately!! It was a great encouragement, and I thought I would share :).
Sunday, January 18, 2009
"Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."
"For I desire steadfast love (mercy) and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings."
"For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering." (David speaking to the Lord)
"Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into their house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listenened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, 'Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.' But the Lord answered her, 'Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.' "
"...for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are JUSTIFIED by his GRACE as a GIFT, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received BY FAITH."
"For by GRACE you have been saved through FAITH. And this is not your own doing: it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."
"Brokenness, confession, repentance... are what God desire."
"Jesus didn't come for Religion, he came to set people free."
"It's time to repent of thinking that I'm going to do better next time. Follow Jesus. Stop trying to control things, and allow Jesus to have it."
"Stop trying so hard; just follow Jesus."
"Your grace is sufficient for me. Your strength is made perfect when I am weak. All that I cling to, I lay at your feet. Your grace is sufficient for me."
"Where the spirit of the Lord is
There is freedom
If you're tired and you are thirsty
There is freedom
Freedom reigns in this place
Showers of mercy and grace
Falling on ev'ry face
There is freedom
Whatever you're burdened with tonight
Whatever you struggle with tonight
There is Freedom"
What do I have freedom from? I have freedom to just live, follow Jesus, and to do what He has called me to do, even if it doesn't make sense to others, and even if others don't agree. I have freedom to be the mom and wife that I have been called to be, even if it looks different than the way others do it. I have the freedom to look at the sin that I commit daily, confess it, and give it to the Lord. I have freedom to realize, daily, that I am only human, and all I can do is allow God to take my struggles from me, instead of trying to do them myself. I have freedom to leave my house messy in order to spend time with Jesus and my family. I have freedom to look at my past sin, confess it, repent it, forget about it, and move forward. I have freedom to drop everything that I feel needs to be perfect, and don't worry about it. I have freedom to serve God in love, and not in bondage and religion.
One of the most amazing things to me about Jesus' ministry is that he did things without caring what ANYONE thought about Him. He hung out with tax collectors, prostitutes, the slum of society. He healed the sick, even on the sabbath. He loved the "unlovable." He didn't care that the Pharisees didn't agree. He did it anyway. Luke 5:31 "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." More things that I learned from the sermon this morning: He realized that sin is a disease. These people aren't "unclean," they are sick. He knows that if he doesn't cure them from this disease, that they will die. It's more important to heal the sick, than to hang out with people who "think" they have it all together. He desires a broken, contrite heart. He desires confession. Tell him that you don't have it all together, he already knows it anyway, and He can use you much easier when you admit that. Tell non-Christians that you don't have it all together, it will help them to desire what you have a lot more. In order to do this, you would have to hang out with people that most Christians wouldn't hang out with. Jesus did it, why shouldn't we? Who is Jesus really?
I'm reading a book for school called Eli (by Bill Myers), and I CANNOT wait to discuss it with my class. It puts Jesus into today's world. It shows him hanging out with Porn producers, transvestites, racists, etc. Those would be considered the slum of OUR society. Would you hang out with them? I honestly probably would have a hard time with that. But, those are the type of people that Jesus hung out with. He didn't care what others thought. He was loving the unlovable. He had freedom to do God's work because he didn't care what others thought.
What do you have (or need) freedom from? What things do you struggle with, that you try to take on all by yourself? What things do you wake up daily saying, "I can do it today, I just need to be strong," then you just struggle with again all day? What things do you need to just throw at the feet of Jesus and stop trying to fix them yourself?
I realize that much of this is a bit scattered, but four things that I got out of all of this: 1) Jesus desires for us to have brokenness, 2) We have freedom in Christ, 3) It does NOT matter what every one thinks, all we need to do is please Jesus by loving Him and following Him, 4) Love others, no matter how it looks to others.
I struggle, daily, with having the "need" to make everything perfect (if I let it, it can bring a lot of anxiety). And, unfortunately, things will never be perfect because of sin in this life. My house will never be perfectly clean, my kids will never be perfectly behaved (because they are human too!), my teaching will never be perfect, not all people will like me all the time, my day will never be scheduled and routines may be messed up, I may allow my daughter to watch too much t.v. sometimes, I may leave dishes in the sink and laundry on the couch...
I'm finally learning through my anxiety issues instead of using it as a crutch or trying to hide it. I am learning that I can't wake up every morning and think that I'll do better today; instead I wake up in the morning allowing Jesus to have it. But, guess what, some days I have a harder time doing that than others. Jesus knows. He loves me anyway. Did you know that even at your worst, Jesus still loves you? He won't love you more if you've achieved perfection in the world's eye. He won't love you less if you really mess up. He just loves you. That's what unconditional love is.
Praise Jesus that there is freedom in following Him because he desires brokenness, not religion. This doesn't give us a reason to go do what we want (because that wouldn't be beneficial), but it gives us the freedom to realize that we are human, and God is all powerful. His strength is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
Now, with all this said, if I write about something that we do that isn't right for your family, just know that I write to give information, not to say that everyone should do things the same way we do. I hope that it NEVER comes across that way, through this blog or in real life!! If it does, tell me!! I want to know!!
Know that you are loved just the way that you are. God created you for a purpose, even with your weaknesses, even with your struggles.
I hope and pray that you wake up each morning asking God to take the things that you try to do on your own, and have freedom in Him.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
(adapted from Kraft magazine)
3-4 Tilapia filets (they call for Salmon, but we had Tilapia)
1/4 cup mayo
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (they call for 2 tbsp)
1/8 tsp Cayenne
Bread crumbs (about 1/2 cup) (I used homemade wheat bread toasted and crumbled; they call for Ritz crackers crumbled)
Mix the mayo, cheese, and cayenne together.
Smear on filets
Sprinkle with crumbs
Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees
(don't have measurements on this; I'll list the ingredients)
Saute diced zucchini, red bell pepper, orange bell pepper, onion, and minced garlic in olive oil, salt, and pepper (I would have included yellow squash if I had any!)
Make couscous (I used organic whole wheat and cooked it with some salt and olive oil)
Top the couscous with sauteed veggies.
Monday, January 12, 2009
For me, this makes the daily things seem so much more simple. I'm excited about trying it!! If I can, I will post my daily to-do, etc on the side of my blog. Maybe it'll give me the accountability to stick to it. Ask me how I'm doing!!
by: Casting Crowns
If you ask me to leap
Out of my boat on the crashing waves
If You ask me to go
Preach to the lost world that Jesus saves
I'll go, but I cannot go alone
Cause I know I'm nothing on my own
But the power of Christ in me
makes me strong
Makes me strong
Cause when I'm weak
You make me strong
When I'm blind,
You shine Your light on me
Cause I'll never get by living on my own ability
How refreshing to know You don't need me
How amazing to find that you want me
So I'll stand on Your truth, and
I'll fight with Your strength
Until You bring the victory
by the power of Christ in me
If You ask me to run
And carry Your light into foreign land
If You ask me to fight
Deliver Your people from Satan's hand
I'll go, but I cannot go alone
Cause I know I'm nothing on my own
The power of Christ in me
Makes me strong
Makes me strong
To reach out with Your hands
To see the world through Your eyes
To love with the love of a savior
To feel with Your heart
And to think with Your mind
I'd give my last breath for Your glory
Saturday, January 10, 2009
A few things that stick out to me are:
"What I want to tell you is that you are fine, right now, where you are. I don’t want you to feel that you aren’t good enough until your house is organized, your kids are perfectly well behaved, your body is like it was in high school, your career is totally fulfilling and your social life is abounding."
"I am not saying you shouldn’t try to change and grow. I think that is part of what makes life so interesting. But growth is fluid. You aren’t going to get perfectly organized the first time out."
"We can always improve and grow. We don’t have an end point to change in this lifetime."
"One reason making changes can be so frustrating is we expect perfection right away or we give up. Another reason is we pick changes that are superficial so we can get the approval of others. Not what our hearts really want."
What changes do YOU want to make in your life?
What things are most important to God and yourself? What motivates you to do what you do? Is it what others think? Is it to honor God? I'm going to think through that question myself and write about it later!
Some goals that I have for myself are:
~ Get things done in the morning (by about 10:00) so I have the rest of the day to play and have time to myself (when the kids are sleeping).
~ To realize that it's okay if my house isn't spotless all the time! I do have a 2 1/2 year old and 7 month old!
What is my motive for everything? My only motive needs to be to honor God and please my husband. Any other reason is not good enough. And, since God doesn't expect me to be perfect (and he knows my heart and my weaknesses), and my husband doesn't expect a spotless house all the time (in fact, he wishes I would back off and relax!), I need to learn to prioritize. If I don't finish the cleaning up in the morning (before about 10:00), I just need to not worry about it! I need to spend the rest of the morning/day playing with the kids and doing other things that I love to do (of course, this involves baking/cooking for my family!).
I need to stop living in guilt if I don't get everything done on my list! I need to give the day to the Lord, and realize that my goal in life is to serve Him. He loves me for who I am, not what I do!
Here's my notebook, updated
The sections that I have are: (you can click on the links to get to the documents)
Weekly menu planning
Behind the weekly menu, I put whatever recipes that I can put in there (the ones that aren't in books).
Grocery shopping planning chart and price comparison chart
This has print outs from the research that I have done on organic/natural, sweeteners, etc.
This section has information on organic gardening. Soon, I will have info on our garden.
My Whole foods pantry-http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=df44j62r_176dftf2cck
What's in your notebook? What does it look like? If you don't have one, how can I help you create one?
Friday, January 9, 2009
~ Plan, plan, plan!!! Make a weekly menu and stick to it!!
~ Bake/make things from scratch. You can do this with few items!! We bake our own bread; it is much cheaper, and tastes SO much better!!
~ Price comparison. We live 25-40 minutes away from the nearest grocery store, so there are many to choose from in the city that we drive to. So, I went to all the stores that I could think of that could possibly save us money and still offer a variety of whole/natural/organic items, and I created a chart. I don't have all of my prices in the chart because I know them mostly in my head now. Then, I created a grocery list planning chart with the knowledge of what was cheaper in different places. I plan my trips so I'm not driving around town all the time (doesn't do any good to spend a ton on gas). There are also some great websites that can save you lots of money (http://www.vitacost.com/ is a good one!).
~ Buy local whenever possible. Farmer's markets have a wonderful variety of foods, and are so much better for you!
~ Don't buy junk!! We don't keep lots of snacks in our house. We buy some Annie's brand snacks, and that's about it. Change what you snack on- fruits and veggies, homemade crackers, etc.
~ Don't eat out! (except every once in a while, as a treat) Not only will this save you money, it is much healthier to eat at home!! This has been a tough one for me because I LOVE eating out. I started looking at how much we spent (when we started the Dave Ramsey plan), and I was disgusted with myself!!!
Thursday, January 8, 2009
This week has been a week without much time in the Word, and I feel such a huge difference in myself when I'm trying to live all on my own. Tomorrow I go back to Deuteronomy and 1 Corinthians! Looking forward to it!
If you read this, please be praying for some things that are going on in my family.
I really will try hard to breastfeed our next (not sure when that will be!), but for now, I have to be okay with what we're doing because that's the best we can do!
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
One thing that REALLY annoys me is that there are so many people out there that think that they know it all about why some women don't breastfeed. There are enough mothers out there that struggle, daily, with the fact that they weren't able to (for whatever reason), and choose to give their child infant formula. Breast feeding was VERY difficult for me, and I have many reasons as to why. It shouldn't really matter what those reasons are, but I will explain anyway. After days of breastfeeding exclusively, and having a newborn that was dehydrated, jaundice, and starving, I had to supplement. As much as I think it's VERY important to breastfeed, it is MORE important that my baby not be dehydrated. He wasn't peeing or pooping, and his "urine" was orange and crystallized. After I began supplementing, he was content and happy. Then, I had to have a lot of dental work done when he was 2 weeks old (I had an absess and had a root canal), which involved pain meds (the pain was worse than giving birth naturally because it was constant), being away a lot (I couldn't take him with me!), etc, which decreased my supply even more, drastically. I tried, with lots of herbs, eating lots of oatmeal, water, etc, but it was to no avail. After trying just about everything that I could possibly try (without going insane), I decided that it was just going to have to be okay to supplement. Then, he started getting very gassy and colicy. I changed the formula, did everything I could with my diet, etc, but it never got better. My conclusion (again, as a frazzled mother of a 2 year old and 2 1/2 month old), was that maybe I should just stop breastfeeding. I have HATED that decision, but I can't change it now. So, before anyone knows what each mom has gone through, maybe ask the question, "why?" Or, maybe just assume that they have a good reason and don't think that you "need" to tell them that breast is best. Many of us already know!!!!!!!!!!
We have decided that we do a pretty good job with discipline. Although, we always have room for improvement. The biggest things that we are working on are consistency and not getting frustrated. Teaching character is an all day, every day thing, and sometimes it gets difficult :). The biggest thing in teaching to obey is NOT giving in, even when it gets difficult. When you say no, mean it. If she begins throwing a fit, don't put up with it. I've been working even harder with her, and she is throwing less fits already. The biggest problem that I had was allowing her to make too many choices (although, making choices is a great discipline to teach, but there are times when her choices aren't right). I'll keep updating as things continue to get better :).
We've decided to implement a daily devotional time. We have been reading to her from her children's Bible and devotional, but we think she's ready for more now. Each night, we will read something from either our Bible or her Bible, explain it, relate it to her life, and pray (SOAP- Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer). When we pray, we pray for others. In a few months when she turns 3, we are going to begin scripture memorization with her. We also think it's important to just show her what being a Christ follower looks like by living for Christ. Her seeing us pray, read God's word, and worship, are just a few ways. Showing her how to handle situations in a godly way, etc, are other ways to show her.
We have a lot to learn, and a long way to go, but I just thought I would share our journey :).
Saturday, January 3, 2009
These are the types of and reasons to eat "Real Food":
Also check out http://organicconsumers.org/. That is where I found the real foods website.
Most people say that they can't afford organic, and I completely understand because it is more expensive (because it is extra time and work!), and I can see that there are some circumstances that it's not worth it (like when you are not able to pay bills or just buy groceries in general... you need to just make sure you have a roof over your head and food in your tummy), but there's ways to make it not so expensive, and if nothing else, cut out other things that aren't as important (eating out, expensive cable, phone service, etc). One thing that I have found is since I'm not buying junk food anymore, I have a little more for the better stuff.
http://www.thedailygreen.com/healthy-eating/dirty-dozen-foods- this is a list of the "Dirty Dozen"- foods to always buy organic. So, for our family, we are continuing to buy the things that we already bought organic, but we are adding some things that are on this list.
Soon, we will be putting in an organic garden, so many fruits and veggies will be coming straight from our back yard! That's really the best way to buy them! The second best is local- farmer's markets or stores like Sun Harvest (very inexpensive for organic produce; although, most other things are more expensive than HEB). We go to those when possible, although, we live far from everything, so that can be difficult!
I also recently switched to organic formula for Ethan. Normally, organic formula was way out of our league (normal organic formula costs between $30-40 a can!). But, I have done a lot of research and found one that is reasonable. It's called Nature's One Baby's Only. It says Toddler formula on the can, but the reason why they do that is because they believe that breast-milk is all a baby needs until a year old (which I agree, I won't go into my reasons about why I'm not breastfeeding now). But, I have read the comparison chart (http://www.naturesone.com/documents/chart.pdf), and it is almost the same. The difference is the source of the vitamins, minerals, calories, etc. The first ingredient in normal formula is corn syrup solids. The second ingredient is sugar. The first 2 ingredients in Baby's Only formula is organic brown rice syrup and organic non fat milk. See the difference? That's what sold me! I switched, and Ethan loves it and doesn't spit up much at all now. You can buy it at Sun Harvest (in Austin, on Lamar, for those who live in the area) for $10.29 a can (12.7 oz) or on http://www.vitacost.com/ for $8.79 a can! Of course, there is shipping and handling (always $4.99, no matter the size of the order), so if you just want to buy one can, it may not be worth buying online. But, if you buy a month's worth at a time, it's definitely worth it.
There is still a lot of debate out there as to whether it's worth it to buy natural and organic products. The main argument is that it doesn't change the nutritional value (which is not always true). But, I have seen enough evidence to believe that for my family, it is worth it. Sure, there will be times that we don't eat organic or limit our organic buying (like in the dining hall at the camp, when we have a tough time financially-during the summer when I don't get paid, other times), but if I can at least change some things at home, then I know I am doing the best that I can for our children's health. If it were just Robert and I, I probably wouldn't be doing all of this research, but I'm mostly concerned about our children!
Just a few years ago I laughed at people like me. Since I had kids, especially in the past 2 years or so, I have done research and now want to put it more into practice. I am in no way an expert, nor do I think everyone has to do the same things as me. I am just putting the information out there that I have gathered, and telling you all about it. Not all the time can I even follow my own advice and research because I'm human, I'm busy, and we're not made of money :). I just do the best that I can!!