Monday, May 31, 2010

Menu Plan Monday- The 'Cleaning Out For Moving' Edition

We've found a house to rent and we're planning to do some painting and then moving within two weeks, hopefully. Thankfully, we've already done a lot of packing so that will make these busy days and weeks a little less stressful. More details on our new house to come another day!

I would like to defrost the freezer before moving day, so that's on the list  for this week. I dug through the freezer to see what needed to be used up and made my menu based on my finds. I also need to get a few groceries this week and get some fresh produce. We are completely out!

**indicates ready to eat freezer items.

--cold cereal (x2)
--cornmeal mush with cheese (x2)
--waffles, eggs
--egg sandwiches on English muffins**

--beef and veggie soup** (1 serving)
--frozen pizza**
--hummus** and tortillas
--leftovers (x2 )

--bean burritos on homemade tortillas with tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, guacamole**
--cheesy beef and rice casserole,(using cooked ground beef **and cooked brown rice**), peas
--crockpot rotisserie-style chicken, white bean salad, fruit and/or veggie
--egg casserole- utilizing leftover bread** and diced turkey**
--my niece's 1st birthday party!

**This post is part of Menu Plan Monday!

Friday, May 28, 2010

My Two Cents On Budgeting: Tithing

Tithing. This can be an interesting subject!

According to, the meaning of the word tithe:

-the tenth part of agricultural produce or personal income set apart as an offering to God  or for works of mercy, or the same amount regarded as an obligation or tax for the support of the church, priesthood, or the like.

Biblically speaking, to tithe is to set apart a tenth of your income to give as a sacrificial offering to God's storehouse, which today would refer to your local church or body of believers. 

Malachi 3: 8-12:
 "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?'  "In tithes and offerings.  You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me.  Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.  I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty.  "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty. 

Luke 6:36:
"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
As we discussed last week, everything that we have been given comes from God and belongs to Him anyways. Our money, our income, our paychecks are His. To tithe;  to give back ten percent of what He has shared with us shows our gratefulness for what He has given us and our willingness to sacrifice to give back.

Just as we are commanded to pay our taxes, we are also commanded to tithe.

Matthew 22: 21:
Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."

In reality, God doesn't need our money. He wants our obedience. Tithing is an act of worship and obedience. In the Malachi scripture above, we see something that is only mentioned one time in Scripture: " Test me in this and see if I do not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." God is asking us to test Him as we give and see if He doesn't pour out more blessings on our lives than we can stand!

Tithing brings balance to our finances. It brings everything into a right alignment when we know that everything we have is His anyways and openly declare that by giving back.

As a single lady, in my early to mid-twenties, tithing was a difficult concept for me. As a small child I loved taking coins to put in the Sunday School offering jar and in the offering plate at church. I knew about tithing but I didn't practice it regularly. I didn't always have enough money. I would forget to tithe. I had always heard that I should tithe off my gross income and at that time, I didn't  always know the exact amount.  Obviously, tithing had not become a heart issue for me or something that I did out of an obedient and willing heart. It was a chore. And I had plenty of excuses.

To encourage this, some well-meaning friends and family members told me that I didn't have enough money to tithe and that God understood.

But I knew what God's Word said about tithing and I felt very convicted for not doing so. Finally one day, after hearing a radio preacher expound on tithing, I made a decision.

From that day forward, I would give at least ten percent of my income back to God. Gross, net, whatever. Instead of over analyzing, I would just do it. I would be obedient and if I didn't have enough money leftover, God would have to take care of it.

I had also heard different personal accounts of how when people tithed or gave, they were immediately blessed financially. I was excited to find this out!

Imagine my surprise when a few weeks later, I discovered that my checkbook balance didn't appear to be going down but instead I seemed to have a lot more than usual. Wow! "This tithing thing really works", I thought.

A notice from the bank informed me that I had overdrawn my account and looking over the details I discovered that instead of subtracting a large check I had written out, I had mistakenly added it back in. That certainly explained the extra money!

I share this because we are often under the impression that God is going to bless us in a certain way. We give. He gives back even more.

God always gives back and He always keeps His promises but He doesn't always immediately pad our checking account as soon as we make out the tithe check. His blessings may not always be financial.

What I learned was that I had to actually really sacrifice some months to be able to tithe. Some months I had to skip activities because I couldn't afford both tithing and eating out with friends. Yes, it was difficult at first. But I had tremendous peace, because I knew that I was tithing out of an obedient and willing heart. And while I've never had millions of extra dollars lying around, God has always supplied my needs.

When we were preparing to be married, tithing came up during the finance session of our premarital counseling.  Thankfully, we were both committed to tithing and we haven't looked back. Our tithe is the first category on our budget sheet and therefore is the first "bill" we pay. Not just on actual income, but we strive to also tithe on any money that slips through our hands, such as birthday or Christmas money we receive.

Obedience in giving a tenth back to God prepares us for even larger sacrifices He may ask us to make.

I believe strongly that our tithe should go to our church and not just any mission organization or ministry. While these are certainly worthy causes to support, those should be supported through personal additional offerings and not tithes. If you are between churches, I'd recommend finding a church to send your tithes to. Some friends of ours alternated tithing between both of their parents churches at a time when they did not have a church home.

Once the tithe has left our hands, it's not up to us what is done with it. Not agreeing with how your church handles money could signify deeper issues.  If you have real concerns about how money is handled, instead of refusing to tithe, I recommend going to the leadership with your concerns and/ or possibly  looking for another church home if the issue cannot be resolved.

Some folks like to spread their tithing out so they can put something into the offering plate every week. This is a personal preference. I just tithe whenever we get paid and again, refuse to over analyze.:-)  I stick our tithe money into my Bible as soon as I write the check so it's ready to go the next Sunday.

I have a few friends who give more than ten percent as a tithe because God has told them to give a specific amount. Ten percent is the minimum that God requires. Naturally, if God impresses upon you to give more, you should go ahead and do that!

Some married folks encounter the issue of a spouse who does not believe the same way about tithing. I really cannot relate to this and therefore cannot give any advice except to pray for your spouse and let God work in their heart. ( I welcome any insight on this topic from readers who are or have been in this situation! Please share in the comments to encourage others who are dealing with this!)

I am committed to tithing because I want to be obedient to God's Word and give to His church. Helping others who are in need and growing  the Kingdom of God  are very important to me as a Christian and my tithe helps fulfill that.

Tithing should be the foundation of a Christians's budget. When the first fruits are offered to God, the rest of the budget will fall into place because we are operating by God's ways.

Join me next week as we dive into more practical waters and discuss making a budget!

**This post is part of Frugal Fridays!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Princess Mentality

The Christmas before we were married, Andy gave me this pillowcase that he had gotten custom embroidered with Princess Mary Ann on it.

I thought it was cute, although a very unique gift. "Oh, how sweet. I'm his princess."

I hadn't used it in quite a while when I got it out to use it a few months ago. Immediately, I had a different perspective.

Instead of just being royalty in my husband's eyes, this pillowcase is a reminder that I am a daughter of the King.

That makes me a true Princess!

I John 3:1:
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

Song of Solomon 4:7:
All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.

He sees us as beautiful. We are His daughters. Let's hold our heads up a little higher, walk straighter with a bit more confidence.  We are real Princesses!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

No Computer Day

For the past three weeks or so, I've been taking a break from the computer on Sundays.

And you know what? It's really nice.

I blog.  I love to read blogs. I do facebook. I'm forever researching health and nutrition online. I check my email. I do online banking. The internet is my favorite cookbook.

I end up spending a considerable amount of time on the computer during the week.

After a while, it's just too much. My brain gets cloudy from information overload.

Stepping away from the computer on Sundays has been really refreshing to me. I get up and read God's Word, get ready to go to Fellowship and make sure food is prepared, eat breakfast, go to Fellowship, come home, usually take a nap and then get up and go to a church leadership meeting, come home, eat supper and go to bed. Even though it's still a busy day, it's a peaceful one.

Taking a break from the computer works for me!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Another Home Remedy

I am feeling some better today. My throat isn't as sore and I haven't coughed as much today. Thank you so much for your prayers!

A friend shared this remedy with me that has been helping them.

Honey and Cinnamon Tea

Mix 2 teaspoons honey with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon into a mug of hot water. 

Drink once a day; right before bedtime is good.

I drank a cup of this last night and it did seem to help. The texture is a bit syrupy from the honey but was a very pleasant flavor.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Since I did a two week menu last week (which by the way is working out great!), I didn't have the need to do my usual Menu Plan Monday post today.

Therefore, I needed to come up with something else to post! Since I have a number of small things to report, I thought this would be a good day for random.

1. First of all, I'd like to welcome new readers! I've noticed that my subscribers and followers have steadily  increased in the past month or so. I'm thankful for all who read and comment and honored that you would choose to visit my little home here. Even though I'm not always able to respond to every comment, know that I do read and appreciate each one of them. Thanks!

2. We were blessed to host my mother and father in law and my husband's aunt and uncle for dinner on Friday night. They had all come to town for the All Star Race so we were glad to have them stop by!

3. I attended an area Women's Conference on Saturday night. What a  wonderful and refreshing night of worship and revival! The speakers were amazing and delivered the messages that the Holy Spirit directed for them to give. Many women (and a few men) were set free from bondage and lives were changed. Praise the Lord!

4. We are still planning to move and are continuing to look for a suitable house to rent. We've looked at several houses so far and have a few more prospects to look into this week. I've begun packing so we'll be ready when the time comes. Your prayers are appreciated as we discern where exactly God would have us to live. Our current house will soon be put on the market; the realtor was by the other night to see the house.

5. I've caught whatever my husband has had for the past two weeks. How nice of him to share! My voice is very hoarse and my throat very sore. I slowed down and tried to rest a bit more than usual today since my energy is a bit lower than normal. This is my chance to take Mucinex and try all the home remedies I've practiced on him. ;-)

Thanks for visiting today and I pray that each one of you will experience God's peace and presence in your lives this week!

Friday, May 21, 2010

My Two Cents On Budgeting: Before The Bills Are Paid

 Thanks for joining me for the first installment of my budgeting series!

As I was praying for direction and wisdom concerning how to begin this series, two thoughts came to mind.

One was the phrase "It's all God's" and the other thought was the word "gratefulness". 

Everything we have is really the Lord's and each penny we earn is a gift straight from His hand.

James 1: 17:
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

 Before we sit down to pay our bills and work on our budgets, it's important that we see our money and our paychecks  as His provision to us and not something we have been able to attain all on our own. Because even though it may seem like you are able to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, so to speak, God is the one who gives us all things. It is good for us and humbling to realize that God is our ultimate source and Provision.

When we begin to think about God's provision and how all we have comes from Him, our next reaction is gratefulness. Gratefulness for the way He provides and thankfulness for everything He blesses us with.

Seeing our money as a gift from Him and having a grateful heart for what we have been given will change the way we look at budgeting and finances. Instead of always striving for more, we will be content with what we have. Realizing it is all His will give us a desire to be wise in the stewardship of our finances.

In no way, am I saying that we should never look for extra income. We all need a certain amount of money to live and keep things going. A roof over our heads and running water are nice to have as well. I do believe as we seek God's best in our finances, He will give us wisdom as to when to pursue extra income or when to tighten our belts and do without for a season. This is what He's done in our lives and I know it's no coincidence that when He shows us to look for extra income, that without fail He provides a way to accomplish it!

Soon after we were married, my husband got a new job. We knew it was a part-time job from the start, but as time went on, it became even more so. At first he worked 30 hours a week, which eventually dwindled into 20 and finally plummeted to 15 hours a week. I had only recently come home from my full-time job to be a stay-at-home wife so we really depended on his income. I was doing some childcare at the time which although didn't bring in piles of money, helped to bridge the gap. Looking back now, I can see how God both provided for us and protected us from any major financial emergencies. God used this job to really begin growing my faith and trust in Him.

We began to pray for a new job with more hours for Andy and after about 6 months, he was hired at another company. This was technically part-time as well but right from the start, he worked nearly every day averaging around 35 hours a week and the pay was significantly more than the previous job.

I will never forget how amazed and excited we were at his first paycheck. We hadn't seen that amount of money at one time in a very long while. As I took it to the bank, I remember praising and thanking God for His abundant provision. " Help me to always be so thankful for every pay check, God!", I prayed.

Well, He has never let me forget that prayer. Every time I sit down to pay bills or work on our budget, I remember. While I certainly am not always perfectly content- it is a process after all- it has become a habit  for me to pray before paying the bills. I simply thank God for what He's provided and then ask for His wisdom in spending, stretching and saving our dollars.

The true heart matter behind budgeting is not simply giving every dollar a name and living below your means. It is recognizing God as the Giver of all things and the Source of our provision. Only then will we be able to effectively manage our money.

**Before we delve into practical things such as listing all expenses, saving for a rainy day and paying off debt, let's talk about another heart issue. Come back next Friday as we discuss what God's Word says about tithing!

**This post is a part of Frugal Fridays.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Harris Teeter Super Doubles

Harris Teeter is doing their Super Doubles coupon event this week. This means that all coupons from $1 to $1.98 are doubling. As you can imagine, this makes for some sweet deals!

Instead of going through everything I've gotten on my super doubles trips, this time I'll just highlight a few good deals.

When organizing my coupons this week (for the first time in months, yes MONTHS- yikes!), I noticed that I had oodles of Muir Glen $1/2 coupons. Most of these came from the winter coupon booklet from Earth Fare. That particular booklet contained some super manufacturer's coupons so I picked up one or two every time I stopped in. I ended up with about 7 booklets, I think. :-) I also got some of these coupons from a couple different Eat Better America coupon mailers I received.


Harris Teeter has Muir Glen diced tomatoes on sale this week 3/$4. Using a $1/2 coupon makes them $.33 each! That's a good stock up price in my opinion. Even the Aldi brand tomatoes are over $.50 a can. We go through lots of tomatoes. I'm hoping this stash will last until I get around to canning the summer's bounty. I can always hope.

A couple other deals worth mentioning-

**Select Kashi cereals are 2/$3. Use $1.50/1 Kashi Heart to Heart Q from a Vocalpoint mailer to get this FREE. We really like this cereal.

** Old Orchard Healthy Balance juices are Buy 2 Get 3 Free. Use B1G1 Q from the May 2010 All You magazine and get 5 (64 ounce) juices for the price of one ($2.99). That comes to $.59 a bottle. Another great stock-up price!

** L.A. Looks Hair Gel is $2.15. Use $1/1 Q from 3/07 Smart Source insert or 5/23 Smart Source to get hair gel for $.15 each. My husband uses hair gel and it's one of those rare sale or coupon items so I'm excited about stocking up!

These are just a few deals I was particularly pumped about! For a complete list of Super Doubles coupon deals, visit Southern Savers.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Simply Experiencing The Church

I realize that I have never blogged about my church. I've had this post rolling around in my head for more than a year and even had a simple outline written out. I'm finally getting around to completing my thoughts and sharing them with you, since I sense that it is now the right time to share this.

I have a confession to make.

I don't go to church.


Now. Before you run away screaming or write me off because I'm a heathen, hear me out.

I don't go to church.

I do however, meet together with other believers every Sunday and sometimes other days, too. 

I am the church.

Three and a half years ago, our church, which was following a similar path of the traditional contemporary church made a change.

Well. Actually God made the change.

He literally took the building we were currently meeting in away from us and then did not make any other facility available to us.

Since we knew a move was coming, the leadership had made plans months earlier and meeting together in homes was considered as a temporary option, just in case no other meeting place was found. It was in fact, referred to as Plan C.

Instead, our Plan C became God's Plan A. And this one was long term, not temporary.

One Sunday we packed up all of our church possessions and the next Sunday we were meeting together in homes around the county.  All we had was God, each other and a desire to follow Him in this new venture.

We had no idea where He was taking us.

Acts 2 : 42-47 became the blueprint for the paradigm we were moving in:

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

The first thing we had to grab a hold of was the concept that Christians individually and collectively  are the church.

I've broken it down into two simple truths.

Simple Truth #1: We are the church. It's not the building we worship in. 

Simple Truth #2: If I am the church, then true worship can take place wherever I am.

No longer are we bound to a building, a specific structure or special programs and gimmicks to draw people in on Sundays.

Now, instead of funding a building, our tithes and offerings are directed towards helping people in need.

It is so freeing!

We now meet in Home Fellowships. We currently have three fellowships meeting on Sunday mornings across the county. The size of each fellowship ranges from about 10-20 people. We come together to share what God has done in our lives that week, to discuss what He's shown us in our weekly Bible reading, to minister to one another and to share a meal together. The children, youth and adults are all together in one living room. Sometimes we have music and sometimes we don't.

Each group has a facilitator (not usually a pastor) who oversees the fellowship to be sure it is functioning properly and is responsible for keeping the discussion going. We all read Scripture through the week from the same Bible reading schedule and come prepared to share our insights from the key chapter. Instead of hearing one sermon, we get to hear lots of mini-sermons from each person who shares, which is really awesome! We often have special ministry times during our fellowships to minister to someone's specific needs and special prayer times. It's so powerful to see even small children going to lay hands on and pray for someone.

After the fellowship time, we continue to build relationships through sharing a meal together. Each Sunday we all bring food and share a meal potluck-style. We fondly refer to our lunch as "Holy Spirit Potluck", since we are encouraged to ask the Holy Spirit to show us what we are to contribute to the meal.

Through all this, we have learned as a church body to really rely upon the power and leading of the Holy Spirit. Individuals are growing in their personal relationships with Jesus and are learning to truly live a life of faith, hope and love. 

1. Growing my faith in Christ.
2. Passing the hope of Christ on to others.
3. Building a love relationship with the Lord and people.

I know that I have personally grown so much spiritually since moving into the Home Fellowship structure. In the old structure, we were so busy doing music and children's ministry that we didn't have time to build relationships with other people in the church. We were so busy focusing on our roles or our chosen areas of ministry that we didn't get to focus on the people we were supposed to minister to.

Instead of concerning ourselves with the nitty-gritty details of kid's crafts, sound board personnel and enough ushers for the offering, it is so refreshing to just be in God's presence and simply experience being the church.

Simple church definitely works for us!

**This post is part of Works For Me Wednesday.

**Please feel free to ask any questions you may have concerning the Home Fellowships. I will try to answer to the best of my knowledge. I only ask that we keep the discussion respectful to one another. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Natural Home Remedies For Coughs and Congestion

My husband's been fighting this cough and congestion junk that seems to be going around among our friends.

So while he's been hacking and carrying on, I'm using him as a guinea pig to practice natural remedies. :-) I've been especially excited to begin using my essential oils for medicinal purposes.

Something must be working. After over a week of it, he seems to be on the mend.

**My friend facebooked me with this natural cold remedy:

Place 2 T. honey in a small glass cup along with 4 minced garlic cloves and 1/8 t. cayenne pepper(or as much as you can stand). Place honey mixture glass in a larger glass filled with hot water so it warms. Take 1 t. every hour. Don't wash it down.

**From a past Beeyoutiful catalog:

For Chest and Sinus Congestion

Boil a pot of water and remove from the stove. While still steaming, add 2 drops each of eucalyptus, lavender, and tea tree essential oils. Cover bowl and head with towel and inhale deeply for at least 3 minutes. KEEP EYES CLOSED.

This treatment seemed to be the most effective overall. His cough seemed a lot looser each time he did this. 

**Herbal Teas

I've been a big fan of Traditional Medicinals Breathe Easy tea for years as a natural way to alleviate asthma symptoms. So he drank quite a bit of this with honey added.

Lemon and honey tea is also a good one for respiratory problems. Mix lemon juice (I added one ice cube of frozen fresh lemon juice) in a cup of  hot water and stir in a spoonful of honey.

It seemed as though tea in general was soothing, so he drank regular herbal blends as well, chamomile being a favorite. Honey acts as an expectorant so it's a good idea to add a spoonful to a cup of tea when sick.

Do you have any favorite natural remedies for sickness? Please share!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Announcing...New Budgeting Series

This coming Friday, I'll be launching the first installment in a series about budgeting and managing money.

This series will run every Friday for 7 weeks or until I exhaust the subject. :-)

Keep in mind that while I am most certainly not an expert on this, managing money effectively is a topic near to my heart. I know I don't have nearly as much experience as many of my readers but I'll be sharing what we do and what we've learned based on our own life experiences.

Here are the topics I'll be covering in the weeks ahead:

  • Before You Pay Your Bills.
  • Know Where Your Money Goes.
  • The Envelope System.
  • Saving.
  • Paying Down Debt.
  • Tithing.
  • Finances and Marriage.
I hope you'll join us and add your two cents worth as we discuss managing our money to the glory of God!

Menu Plan Monday- Two Week Plan

Today I made a 2 week supper menu based on what I have on hand. This will get me through the end of May. I need to do a small grocery run for a few things and should be set!

I still need to assess the breakfast situation and lunches will be leftovers, sandwiches or other quick and easy items that I come up with.

All freezer items are marked with **.

May 17- 23:

Monday- Chicken and rice soup, toast
Tuesday- Monterrey beans, rice**, guacamole**
Wednesday- Creamed eggs over soaked wheat biscuits, apples
Thursday- Grilled turkey and cheese sandwiches, tomato soup
Friday-  Dinner with family: Lasagna, green beans with mushrooms and bacon, wheat rolls, TBD(cookies or cobbler?) and ice cream
Saturday- Pizza**
Sunday- Leftovers

May 24- 31:

Monday- Meatball pasta skillet dish
Tuesday- Lentils and rice**
Wednesday- Garlic butter spaghetti with white beans
Thursday- Beefy vegetable soup**, bread
Friday- Chicken and gravy with peas over rice
Saturday- Pancakes or waffles, fruit
Sunday- Leftovers
Monday- Bean burritos, rice

What's cooking in your kitchen this week?

**For more menu plans, click on over to  Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Organize or Declutter?

 Banana box full of magazines to give away.

This week I sorted out all of the magazines we'd accumulated over the last year or two. I got rid of all but several of the latest issues.

I'll admit that my first thought was to cut and decorate recycled cereal boxes into creative little magazine holders and organize them all on a shelf.

Fortunately that thought didn't stay long. It was quickly shooed away by " Are you crazy? Why organize something that you'd be better off decluttering?"

That second thought was dead-on. I know myself. Most likely, I'm not going to go back through those magazines often enough to justify keeping all of them. In my little home, space is at a premium. Stuff has to earn its keep.

This experience took me back a couple of years ago when I was organizing my fabric collection. Lamenting over my lack of storage space, I suddenly had an epiphany.

"Instead of cramming all I could into a space, in the name of great organization, why not keep only what I had room for?"


That single light bulb moment was all I needed. I began to purge that fabric into a manageable amount, keeping only what I loved and was certain I would use. Cookbooks were limited to a certain shelf. When it was full, no more.  Clothes had to fit in the closet or dresser drawers. Gift wrap and gift bags were pared down to only what I could reasonably use. Kitchen equipment had to be used and have an appropriate storage spot  (i.e. not the top of the washing machine) in order to stay.

Now, I am not an extreme minimalist. I am not against having stuff. I have a house full of stuff- some necessary and some not. Stuff is a part of life.

I'm also not against organization. In fact, I love to organize! Give me storage boxes and baskets and I take great joy in wrapping a room in labeled Rubbermaid.

There's a place for organizing one's belongings. Organization helps to bring order to a home. We all have necessary stuff- books, clothes, kids toys, kitchen equipment and paper that needs to be organized so it doesn't take over our homes and lives. Those of us with tiny homes and even smaller closets know the virtues of organizing even the basics into the most creative of configurations to get it all to fit.

But there also comes a time when I need to stop organizing and start decluttering. Keep what I need, love and use and pass the rest on for someone else to enjoy.

I don't want to spend all my time sorting, sifting and organizing my stuff. Instead, I'd like to enjoy what I have and experience something much more important, life itself.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Trash Picking

Folks in our neighborhood frequently throw stuff they no longer want beside the curb. Especially when they move out.

On occasion, I've picked up some nice things- a Pyrex baking dish, planters, a bathroom shelf, children's chairs, storage tubs and baskets. It's always worth a look!

Last night when Cherished Dog and I were out for a stroll, we hurried past a pile of stuff beside the curb.

My brain registered with what I had just seen and I quickly backed up to check it out.

This is what I found:
An Environments play kitchen.

I checked it out and decided to take the dog home and come back with the car to pick it up. I knew my sister would love it for her children since she's been looking for a wooden kitchen for them for a long time.

The hinges need to be either replaced or repaired and the piece could use some tender loving care. My sister loves to refurbish thrifted furniture so she doesn't mind this one bit! I found a similar piece online that was priced at $185.00.

I also trash-picked a pack and play mat and bassinet insert from the same trash pile. They don't match my pack and play exactly (that I have for child care kids) but are a perfect fit. My pack and play mat is quite stained so this 'new' one will be very nice!

What kind of treasures have you found lately?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Bible Reading Plan

Today, I'm going to share my Bible study method. I've been using this method for about 2 years now and judging by my spiritual growth, it really works!

This plan is not original with me. Our pastor typed up all the questions and schedule and our entire church group uses it. At first I found this plan tedious and difficult, but as time goes on, I've enjoyed it more and more as I've been able to apply Scripture to my life and see the difference it makes.

Our Bible reading schedule is set up for reading and studying one chapter of Scripture each day then answering the following questions about each chapter.

1) List one thing that jumps out at you. This can be a whole verse, a word, a phrase, anything in the chapter.
2) Please explain why it jumped out. 
3) How will this change the way you live your life? This means practical application for daily living.
4) Based upon the answers above, what area of your Christian walk is God developing?
       __Growing your faith in Christ.
       __Passing the hope of Christ on to others.
       __Building love relationships with Christ and people.
5) Write down any insight you have received concerning salvation in Christ.
6) Write down your prayer for the day.

This is designed to take about 15 minutes each day, which is a small sacrifice to make in order to grow in Christ. Depending on the book and chapter that I am studying, it may take me more like 30 minutes to complete this each day, but I find the effort is well worth the benefits!

We discuss a predetermined  chapter each Sunday with everyone sharing their insight. Another help is that we are encouraged to participate in a Life Group each week where we meet with one or two persons of the same gender to discuss what we got out of each chapter and then praying together about any requests we may have. I have met with a friend for over a year now and it has been exciting to see how consistent time in the Word and sharing our insights with someone else has facilitated extreme growth in both of us.

In years past, although I had a desire to spend time with the Lord, I had a difficult time understanding and applying to my life what I was reading. A light bulb came on one day when asking for God's wisdom before reading the Bible was mentioned. Well, duh!

I began to faithfully ask God to open my spiritual eyes and ears as I read His Word so that I would be able to see and hear what He wanted to teach me. I asked Him to show me something that would enable me to better equip me to live my life for Him.

And do you know what? God has been faithful to answer those simple prayers. Some days it takes a while to find something in a particular chapter and sometimes I pray and read and nothing jumps out until I come back to it later. It's a  matter of waiting for God to reveal to me what He wants me to get.

This method works for me.

No matter what method you may use,when it comes to Bible study, consistency is the key! Along with that, accountability and writing down the insights you've received so you can remember them later are so very important to growing in Christ.

Come back next week when I tell you more about our church and what makes us unique.

In regards to Bible study, what works for you? Please share.

**This post is a part of Works For Me Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Beef Enchiladas

After snagging some tortillas for 50 cents a bag a few weeks ago, I was motivated to make enchiladas for our weekly Sunday potluck lunch with our church family.

I didn't use a recipe but made them up as I went along. They turned out really well and were quickly gobbled up!

When I mentioned making a burrito-type dish last night for dinner, my husband asked hopefully if I could make enchiladas again. I believe this is now a family favorite!

Mary Ann's Easy Enchiladas
Makes a full 9 x 13 pan.

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 can tomatoes with chilies
1 recipe prepared Enchilada Sauce( recipe below) or 1 can purchased enchilada sauce
Several cups shredded cheese
1 package flour tortillas

1) Brown ground beef and chopped onion in skillet. Drain. Stir in can of tomatoes, drained.

2) If making enchilada sauce, you can prepare it in a saucepan while the beef is browning.

3) Add some enchilada sauce to the beef. I'm not sure exactly how much I added in; probably about 1/4 or a little more of the sauce. I don't want it soupy but well-moistened.

4) Spread a couple of spoonfuls of sauce on the bottom of baking pan. 

5) Assemble enchiladas. Spread beef mixture on each tortilla; sprinkle with cheese. Roll up and place in greased pan.

6) Pour remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

7) Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until heated through and bubbly. Serve with sour cream.

** These can be made a day or two ahead and refrigerated until baking time. This would also freeze well. Freeze before baking and then bake when ready to use.

**Cooked beans can be added to stretch the meat, if desired.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

We love this sauce! It's a really good homemade version and can be made with pantry ingredients. Thanks to Darcy Lee for the recipe.

1-8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine and cook over medium heat until thickened; stirring often.
Makes 2 1/2 cups.

**It's easy to adjust the spiciness in this recipe to suit personal taste!


Friday, May 07, 2010

Blessed Be Your Name -Knox Style!

Last summer, I wrote about hearing my nephew, Knox, sing praise songs and how sweet it was.

Last weekend, we visited his family and he wanted to sing. When asked what he wanted to sing, he immediately began to list some favorite praise songs that he'd learned at church. After he sang a few, I remembered that I had my camera with me. I asked him if he'd sing 'Blessed Be Your Name' so I could get it on video. He was more than happy to oblige me!

Enjoy an almost 5 year-old's rendition of  "Blessed Be Your Name".  I'm sure Beethoven is proud as he looks on.

I think God must get great joy out of hearing little ones sing His praises! Hearing  a little one praise the Lord is most certainly a finer thing!

**This post is part of Finer Things Friday!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive

Don't forget! This Saturday is the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. Simply fill a bag with non-perishable food items and set out by your mailbox. Your letter carrier will pick up the bag when dropping off your mail and all donations will go to local food banks and pantries.

This is such an easy way to help folks in our own communities!  And a good way to use some of those extra cans of food we have in our pantries from stockpiling and using coupons!

Roasted Chicken & Veggies

For last night's dinner, I had planned to bake some chicken leg quarters and then steam a bunch of veggies. Instead, I decided to maximize the use of the oven by  roasting the veggies alongside the chicken.

While everything was roasting, I was able to bring the rest of my yard sale stuff inside to sort for my sale this weekend.

I followed these vegetable roasting instructions. Mmmm...everything was so good!

You can roast almost any kind of veggie. I did a head of cauliflower, some green beans, an onion, a zucchini and 5 carrots. I roasted the carrots on a separate baking sheet than the rest because of needing a longer roasting time. 

We have enough leftovers for lunch today!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Sourdough Starter and Waffles

 My sourdough starter with its little cotton hat. Seeing it reminds me of the characters from Josh and The Big Wall. :-)

My sister gave me some sourdough starter when we visited her last weekend.

I'd always been a little afraid of caring for a starter and keeping up with it but it's really not that hard at all. I just add a cup of flour and some filtered water every day. Then occasionally, add a teaspoon of sweetener. If I don't want to deal with it for a week, I can stow it in the fridge and just feed it once.

I decided to make sourdough waffles this morning. This recipe looked so good to me and it had very good reviews. 

The recipe was so easy to stir up and the waffles looked great; nice and crispy brown on the outside but not hard. Unfortunately, I'm doing a cleanse right now and staying off of grains so I couldn't sample them. I could hardly resist; they looked and smelled so good! My husband really enjoyed them and said the sourdough flavor was mild and not overwhelming. He's looking forward to more sourdough goodies!

Thanks to the starter, I'll be making sourdough baked goods every week!

Works For Me Wednesday: Packing and Moving Tips?

Today is the backwards edition of Works For Me Wednesday, where I ask the question and you give me the tips! Fun!

Today's question: What kind of tips do you have for moving and packing?

We are going to be moving soon. When exactly, or where, I do not know. But moving is inevitable, whether in a month or two or later this year. As far as we know we will be staying in this general area, so the move will most likely be across town and not across the country.

I haven't moved that much in my lifetime and this is the first time I'll be packing up a whole household and moving it from point A to point B. Naturally, I won't be doing all the work myself.  I have a capable husband and friends who are sure to help out, but I will be the one organizing and overseeing the move.

I know how to pack boxes and label them specifically instead of having all marked 'Misc.' (That's what my husband's former roommate would do when he moved. ) And I've been decluttering and am having a yard sale this weekend.

Do you seasoned movers have specific systems that you follow when packing? Color-coded stickers... numbered boxes with coordinating lists...throw everything out that you can't fit in the Neon? :-)

Please share! What works for you for packing and moving?

**This post is part of Works For Me Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Keeping It Real

If any of you still believe I am perfect, here's a dose of reality. ;-)

True, funny story:

Yesterday afternoon I started my bread dough so it could soak overnight. This morning all I had to do was add the final few ingredients, mix it and let it rise.

So I got up this morning and in between sorting and starting laundry and cooking breakfast, I got the bread dough going.

First, I needed to "proof" the yeast which is mixing it with water and a little sweetener and letting it set for 5 minutes while it bubbles.

Meanwhile, I busied myself (like I always do) with adding the other ingredients to the soaked mixture: salt and gluten.

The bread recipe I use calls for 2-4 tablespoons of gluten and for whatever reason, I simply could not remember how much I usually use. So I thought that I would put 3 1/2 in for good measure.

Well, that would have been fine....

Except after I put the large amount of "gluten" in, I looked over and saw the box of gluten still sitting quietly waiting for its turn.

I had just added 3 and 1/2 more tablespoons of yeast to the dough.

Too little yeast and your bread doesn't rise properly. Too much and your bread tastes and smells extra yeasty and it rises too much too quickly.

I hadn't added the yeast/water mixture yet so the soaked mixture was quite clumpy and non-liquidy, which was a good thing, since the first thing I thought to do was to turn the mixing bowl of dough upside down over the sink and dump the excess yeast out.

A lot came out.

A lot was still in the bowl, stuck on the dough.

I wasn't sure what to do. Should I redo the yeast mixture and try to recalculate the yeast amount accordingly? Would that work? Or should I dump the whole thing out and start over?

In the end, I didn't change anything but added the yeast mixture just like I had planned originally and hoped for the best.

I did add a bit more flour and water hoping that it would even itself out.

The bread dough rose faster than it ever has before. :-) It baked up beautifully. The texture is different but my husband reports that it tastes ok.

So glad!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - The Boring Detox Edition

My menu plan is pretty boring and simple this week as I've started a cleanse. I'm filling up on mainly meats and veggies this week and will add some fruits and dairy in a week or two.

Hoping this cleanse along with some supplements will be a start to ridding my body of some annoying problems that have been hanging around for far too long!

My husband is not doing the cleanse but he'll eat pretty much the same foods as me. We'll just add fruits, carbs, the meals for him.

Breakfasts- scrambled, poached or hard-boiled eggs with veggies(sauteed or fresh); homemade beef sausage with veggies (sauteed or fresh).**Add fruits and toast for Andy.

Lunches- salads, vegetable or lentil soup.**Add breads and sandwiches for Andy.

Snacks- hummus with veggies, plain veggies, hard boiled eggs. **He can have whatever he wants!:-)

Salmon, zucchini, brown rice
Beef and veggie stir fry, brown rice
Baked chicken, steamed cauliflower, steamed carrots, sauteed kale
Monterrey beans (adapted for me), fresh veggies, brown rice
Pizza for Andy; soup and salad for me

Kitchen chores for the week:
-Soak and cook several kinds of beans to use and freeze.
-Make batch of beef sausage for week.
-Bake bread. (Didn't get to it last week!)
-Make batch of hummus to use and freeze.
-Research recipes that use sourdough starter and try at least one. Feed starter every day!
-Make yogurt.

For more exciting menu plans, please head on over to Organizing Junkie!