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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Being Frugal With Dear's Money, Part 2

     Dear and I are supremely blessed!  All our needs are met by our Lord, Jesus Christ.  He intercedes for us to our Heavenly Father, who sees fit to meet the needs we have; sometimes, we are even blessed with "wants."  How humbling is His goodness!
     There have been many, many times we have wondered where the money would come to pay for this bill or that need.  So, we go to the Lord in secret, revealing only to Him our need(s)...and our wants.  Of course, we generally know what the other may be requesting/sharing with Christ, but none other (typically).  Over and over again, we have been blessed with answers to those requests; every time I am amazed at how God answers!  However, though the answer is definitely appreciated, I find that I appreciate something else entirely more:  knowing how to listen and speak to my Lord in private.
    The communion I have with Christ in those times is precious.  I am so sweetly blessed by His loving presence.  Too often I neglect that gift; too often I waste time selfishly, rather than sitting at His feet.  Yet, when needs arise, I am humbled back to a position in which I need to be every day.
     When we are in positions where things unexpectedly arise, there has been a lack of discipline, or  downright foolhardy behaviour with money, we go to God in prayer.  Money is what makes the house run, right?  WRONG:  GOD IS! 
     I know that the world requires money for practically anything you want/need.  Yet, God is the one that is in control of what is going on in the world:  whether He is Himself doing it, or allowing it; He is in control.  The money, demand for money, or a life revolved around money, is not in control.
     Yet I, like probably so many, seem to live thinking that without money things will go wrong.  However, after I prayed today, I mused on the fact that I am praying to God for our need(s), not money.  I do not pray to the great money in the sky to rain down wealth upon us.  No, I go to GOD to give us our need(s), however He sees fit.
     Did you know that many times God will meet a need that seems to require money, by giving it another way?  Or, when you think that it will only work this way, (that there is no other possible way it can work), God trumps your way of thinking by showing that there is another way?  Oh, how foolish I am to think that I can figure out everything!
     When times were/are getting difficult, it is easy to live fearfully.  I can be full of care and worry that all my fears will come true.  I get caught in the trap of self-preservation, that all I care about is myself.  Disgusting!
     It is in these times that God speaks firmly to my soul:

  1. That even if all were taken away, I would still have Christ.
  2. That even if I perished, I would be home with Christ.
  3. That even if the worst happened, I would still be cared for by God.
  4. That I need to talk to Him minute-by-minute, not trial-by-trial.  (Please do not misunderstand me.  I do talk to God daily; yet, it is a habitual/surface talk.  I allow people/time/self get in the way of talking to Him in-depth, for one reason or another.  The same goes for listening to Him, too.)
  5. That when I treat Him respectfully in prayer, He hears me.
     I could continue in the many things of which He reminds me, when I am full of care.  Yet, these are the thoughts that predominantly come to mind.  These lessons are always good for me.
     I would like to speak a bit on number five on my list.  I do not mean "respectfully" as "Dear Heavenly Father...blah, blah, blah...Thou art...blah, blah, blah."  Words matter, yes.  Heart matters much more.  
     When I respectfully approach the GOD, my Heavenly Father, my Saviour, I need to do so reverently.  I need to treat Him with more reverence than any person on the face of the earth.  I also need to be reverently honest and open to Him:  not afraid to share with Him my struggles with doing right, all the while acknowledging my sin(s), and seeking (honestly) correction, not justification; my needs, even if my sin(s) brought me to the current position; my thoughts; my feelings; etc.  I need to WILLINGLY, THANKFULLY accept whatever He tells me:  to do, how to feel, how to think, etc.  
     When I am in this prayerful position, He sets my spirit right.  Even if things are still haywire, my heart is established.  I know that whatever comes, God is in control.  I know that whatever I get/do not get, is of God's doing.  He either allows it, or does it Himself.  Whatever the situation, I learn to trust Him more, and love Him more.
     What does all of this rambling have to do with being frugal with Dear's money?  Well, if I am not seeking God's counsel, or utilizing the counsel He has already given me, then I will be wasteful with his money.  I will waste, waste, waste, due to want, want, want of the flesh.  
     So, when money is tight, or absent, I go to the Lord for thrifty, creative behaviour.  I seek Him in how to be a good steward of His supplies that He allows Dear to earn for us.  I can, by my Lord's enablement, create a lovely home environment with hand-me-downs, or thrift-store finds.  I can, by my Lord's grace, healthily feed the two of us (and any guests) with what is in our pantry, or many times, what God puts on the hearts of others to give to us to use.  When there is only so much to utilize, one becomes creative in how to use it, so that spirits are content and blessings abound in thanksgiving to God for what we do have!
     One of those blessings are healthy bowels!  Yes, I said "healthy bowels!"  Bowels of mercy, bowels of love...If you read the Bible, undoubtedly you have heard the term "bowels."  Bowels can be good!
     You do not need much money to have a healthy meal. One of the staples that were in my home growing up as a child was cornbread and soup beans.  MMMM...Goodness!  It is so tasty, done right.  It is so healthy, done right.  It blesses the recipients, done right.  It blesses the giver, done right.  Much prayer, and Godly-intervention, it turns out right!

Renee's Soup Beans

(**These do not turn out exactly the same each time, since I eyeball it every time.  Yet, each time has been a blessing to us:  in the wallet, and in the gullet!)

Pinto Beans
1 large yellow onion
Garlic (powder or pressed:  if pressed, I would do 7 cloves or a whole head, depending on the size of the soup; if powder, to taste)
Pepper to taste
Ham hock (I personally like to use leftover glazed ham bone, but if it's just a basic ham hock, I add honey to taste)
Salt to taste
Unsalted butter

Pour beans in mixing bowl.  Fill mixing bowl with water to just about 1-in. above beans.  Let soak 6 - 8 hours.  Rinse beans, throwing away any bad ones (rotted; sometimes there are even tiny stones, so beware!).  Pour beans in stock pot, and fill with water above beans at least 1-in.  Add ham hock and garlic.  Let cook on low - medium-low for 7 - 11 hours.  Add the onion, pepper, and salt midway through the cook time. Check the soup, making sure to stir the beans occasionally.  The beans should be tender, but not mush.  The ham should be tender, able to pull off the bone with the stir spoon.  Ladle into bowls, with whatever cornbread you wish.  Top with a dollop of butter, and you are on your yummy way!   

   
Growing Home

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Prayer Day



     Mondays always seem, for me, rather difficult in getting going again.  Sundays are usually our busiest days.  We do not mind; but, Mondays do!
     This week I hope to get more accomplished than I did last week.  Little by little a routine seems to be getting established.  I enjoy waking up to pray to the Lord, sweep the floor, prune my plants, steep my tea, and then settle down for my morning Bible reading.  These little things are enormous blessings from Christ!
     I usually stop and meditate a lot on Monday mornings, to get my mind into gear.  I like to focus on something in my house, in my yard, or any thing in my life.  I find that my meditating on all the Lord has given me helps me realize how fully rich we are.
     It helps keep my focus right.  It helps get the week flow better.  When Wednesday comes and I am in a fuss because we have to leave and I did not make the time to prepare a meal for before prayer meeting, so we will have to eat on the go or wait 'til after we get home, God stops me to remember that:

  1. I have food.
  2. I have a stove.
  3. I have a microwave.
  4. I have a car.
  5. I have a house.
  6. I have a yard.
  7. I have a husband.
  8. I have Christ.
  9. I have clothes.
  10. I have shoes...
     Need the list go on?  Nope.  I settle, and realize that I am fussing over nothing important.
     Though Mondays seem to "putt..putt...putt..." along for me, they do produce more meditation than I do throughout the rest of the week.  They are more of my "resting days" than any day of the week, I guess.  Even if I need that extra spice chai tea with honey and milk in it to get me moving; even if I take a little more time observing the pile of laundry asking to be folded and put away properly; even if I stay in my house dress all day with my hair piled loosely upon my head...I thank God for Mondays!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Being Frugal With Dear's Money, Part 1

     So, off we were to the local grocery store!  We (or rather, I) enjoy supporting local businesses, local produce, that sort of thing.  All within reason, mind you.
     As I am perusing the aisles, as we have a new place to shop since we are in a new town, I notice that the prices are a bit higher on products I regularly need.  I know to take into consideration the cost of gas to go buy the cheaper-priced item; however, I usually buy more than one item at the out-of-town store.  Ugh.  A conundrum!
     I do not like wasting money.  I like to justify uses for money, but not waste it.  ;)  God has convicted me, and is strengthening me, to wisely use money.  Moving out in the country has aided our expenditures greatly: no quick runs to the store, no quick runs to the local espresso stand, no quick run to the drive-thru, etc.  However, it also means that there are no quick trips when I need peanut butter, and the price and quality of the new local peanut butter is silly.
     So, I decided to put a recipe into use.  I stumbled upon a recipe for homemade peanut butter, and finally had an opportunity to make it!  I am finding that frugality begets creativity!  :)
     I bought three pounds of raw Spanish peanuts.  I took them home to my handy-dandy food processor.  Adding some essential ingredients, and voila!, peanut butter:  home-style!  Can I get a witness?
     I have never, to my recollection, had homemade peanut butter.  It is nothing like what you get at the store, including the organic versions.  There is no oil separation.  This blend is rather thick, even with water added.  Dear immensely enjoyed it, and I am well-pleased, too.  I also look forward to many varieties to the recipe!
     If I had not needed to save money, I probably would not have made it anytime soon.  However, I do see us saving money, and our health, by making our own, simple, creative peanut butter.  Who knows?  Maybe I will start making almond butter, tahini, regular butter...
     I want to share this easy, yet exciting, recipe with you!  I hope that you are inspired to save money, and health, by making your own...

HAVE-IT-YOUR-WAY-PEANUT-BUTTER

2.5 cups raw peanuts
4 Tbs. almond oil (or peanut oil...or grapeseed oil...or olive oil...)
2 Tbs. raw honey (or more, depending on taste)
Salt to taste
Water to consistency

Extra fun additives:  cocoa powder, cinnamon...Be creative!

Pour peanuts into food processor.  Blend until it looks like moist cornmeal.  Slowly add oil.  Slowly add honey.  Add salt.  Slowly add water.  There you have it!  You can add more/less depending on your taste/desire.  If you like a smoother consistency, add more water.  Just be careful not to make it runny.  Pour into a mason jar, or any good container, then refrigerate.  Don't forget that it will harden some in the fridge.  If you want to spread it over bread, let it sit out a bit before doing so.  This is not anything like store-bought.  It's better!





Growing Home



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Relief!



     God, as always, has been so good to me!  He is a lot gentler than I give Him credit; many times, I expect Him to be harsh with me.  I am still learning of His firm, but loving, ways towards me.
     For a while, I noticed Dear and I slipping in our holy conversations (lifestyles).  I kept seeking to justify, one way or another, what we were/were not doing.  However, this morning God gently, but firmly, pricked my heart.  By His grace, I responded in accordance to how He wished.
     It is not always easy to do good when you know to do it.  Once a truth is learned, you cannot unlearn it. You can seek to block it from memory, but God is always bringing it back to the heart and mind; always at opportune times.  That opportune time was this morning, as other times were; this morning was different, though.  This morning, I responded responsibly.
     I, personally, have struggled with what I set before my eyes.  Whether it is what I read, or what I watch, my flesh desires those things of sin.  It feels good.  It feels comforting.  It brings fond memories.  However, it also brings Holy Spirit convictions; for, though those things can bring pleasurable feelings, they are not holy unto the Lord.
     Finally, my heart submitted, completely.  Aah, such relief.  Disturbed at how long it took me to respond rightly, burdened that I so willingly and easily slid back into sinful habits, yet relieved it was over!  Tossed into the garbage cans were the new DVDs given me for a birthday present; tossed was another DVD present.  New practices begun, wherein I read Godly, edifying material(s) while unwinding for the night, rather than the garbage of the world.
     Oh, but God was not finished with me.  He had me purge other things in my life as well.  He gave me the strength and courage that my flesh affords me not.  He blessed my heart with the knowledge of knowing I was back on the path of righteousness.  Indeed, a sheep am I, and a shepherd is He.
     Once Dear came home, I told him of these activities.  By God's good grace, Dear was not upset with me for not consulting him, (as some of those things I tossed were presents from him!), but rather acknowledged what I did was right, and was glad.  Relief!  No battle!  Praise God for a saved, God-fearing husband!
     I did not need to explain myself to him.  He already knew my reasons why, for we had held these convictions early on in our Christian walk together.  We were both glad to have gotten back on track.
     There is a joy in getting back on the right path.  Have you ever noticed times when you veer off, yet seek to blind yourself of that fact, that joy is not as complete as it was?  It pervades relationships, goings on in your life, prayer time, study time...
     All the usual excuses were used in my mind, "Well, we are just being more 'balanced,' not so 'hard-nosed' as we used to be...We were 'over-zealous' then...We can learn much from not being so 'rigid'...My brothers and sisters in Christ are doing it, and they seem to be fine..."  On and on the list of justifications went, but I knew better.  I need not follow anyone's example, save those who are following Christ.  When they veer to the right or to the left, I need to stay straight.  God's light shines clearly on that which is dark, and I need not go wallow in it.
     I know that I will do better toward my husband and the rest of folks now.  Now that I can concentrate more fully on Christ, I will treat Him and others as I should.  I can be a better blessing to my husband, by being a crown unto him, not so tarnished.  I will have better ears to hear, and clearer eyes to see, my Lord.  Oh, such relief!
     I encourage you, dear sisters in Christ, do not as foolishly as I.  Satan is so subtle.  He does not cease, either.  Just because this battle has been victorious for righteousness' sake, does not mean he is through attacking me.  On the contrary, it was no sooner that I had tossed the garbage into the trash can that attacks came.  Holding onto Christ, His Holy Word, will be the only way to sure victory!
     Do not think that holiness is too rigid.  It is for the world, the flesh, and definitely Satan.  It is not, though, for God.  "Be ye holy, for I am holy," He says.  We are to be a peculiar people, and God-fearing ladies in the world is definitely peculiar.  It is not enough to be peculiar out in the world (you know, making sure we are dressed in proper modest attire and spirit), but also in our homes, cars...Anywhere.  Indeed, our husbands (saved or lost...especially lost) will benefit of our holy conversation outside and inside the home.  We need not be hypocrites, though we are.  We need not give provision for the flesh to be hypocrites.  We need not give provision to the devil to seduce us into sinning.
     Once the heart and mind are properly established, all the practical things seem to go a bit easier.  It seems that when my heart and mind are in tune with Christ, that doing those chores (cooking, cleaning, running errands) and properly investing in my husband/people are simply easier.  Christ loves folks, and was a willing servant unto those who did not deserve His service; I can most definitely serve Him by serving others, too!  My heart desires to be like Him, and to bless/be blessed by walking righteously.  There seems to be such a euphoria and joy indescribable when I am obedient to Him!  That joy simply is not there when I am walking contrary to His will.  No, only a contrived, short-lived "happiness."  Not lasting joy.
     So, again, I encourage you to follow after Christ; without the thought that holy living is "too rigid."  Though there may be some Christians that tell you so, simply compare yourself to Christ.  Would He watch that show/movie?  Would He read that site/book/article?  Would He participate in that activity/conversation?  There is a difference between spending time with those known to do those activities, and doing those activities/condoning/accepting as good those activities.  I can sit and talk with a known drunkard, yet not while they are in a bar or drinking myself.
     Though it may not bring immediate physical pleasure to line up with God's ways, due to peer pressure, it does bring lasting spiritual peace.  It does get easier to follow His standards the more I choose to do them, and I know they will for you, too.  Blessings to you, dear sisters, as you seek His ways!



Growing Home


Saturday, July 7, 2012

AND THE WINNER IS...

...CARRIE:  chosen by Rafflecopter!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for all who have participated!  It has been a blessing to be able to host this give-away, as a way of saying "Thank you" for being my readers!  I pray that I will continue to be a blessing to all of you.  Taking your notes into consideration, we shall see what will start showing up on the blog.  God bless, and enjoy your summer weekend!
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