Monday, June 20, 2016

New Blog

Time to say goodbye to blogspot!! I have started a new blog with word press and I LOVE IT! So much cleaner and easier to work with. So come on over and check it out!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Upgrading Our Dining Room Table and Old Dressers

Ok, so if you want to think of someone who is not crafty you can think of ME. I NEVER pictured myself doing something like this! But... I did :) I married a wonderful, frugal man and I figured out rather quickly that if I wanted my furniture to look better or different that I was going to have to get creative in how to do that on a tight budget. 

First came my table. My husband had bought a solid oak table before we even met. It is a nice table. The wear and tear though from all the company and kids was bad. It was just getting flat out ugly. (see pic below)

Sorry for the blurry picture. It's hard for me to get pictures not blurry through my instagram account. But you get the idea, the table was worn out!

First I unscrewed the legs and my sister helped me get the top propped up out in my carport and I borrowed her hand sander and went to town! I used ebony wood stain to stain the table after I was done sanding and did about 3 coats. I wanted it super dark and it was super dark and BEAUTIFUL. After that dried for a day or two I put on 

Polycrylic Water-Based Protective Clear Finish to make it super shiny and EASY TO CLEAN. I used a couple high quality paint brushes for the stain and just plain old foam brushes for the clear finish. I probably did about 4 coats of the clear finish. Like I said, I wanted it shiny :)

The table today! It is holding up wonderfully! Doesn't even look like the same one!
As that was drying I started on the legs. I did NOT want to sand the legs so I used chalk paint. Chalk paint is a lazy person's best friend. I made my own (WAY TOO MUCH MONEY THE OTHER WAY).Homemade chalkpaint recipe: Mix 1/3 cup of plaster of Paris and 1/3 cup of cool water; stir until completely smooth. Mix that with 1 cup of latex paint and stir thoroughly. This will make enough chalk-finish paint for one coat on a six-drawer dresser. Chalk-finish paint should not be stored and reused. I used foam brushes for this too and did probably four coats. After that I waxed them with cheap wax. This stuff stinks people! So make sure you are in a well-ventilated area and don't plan on bringing your masterpieces inside for at least a couple of days :) 


Let's just say in the picture below that the one on top is dresser number 1, the one to the left and below (with black and white table cloth on top) is dresser number 2 and the last one is dresser number 3. 

Dressers are great for multipurpose function! We use ours out in our living room/dining areas to hold our homeschool supplies and paper products and we use the tops as buffets for when we have company!

Dresser number 1:
 This was my grandmothers dresser and it was pretty ugly :) I got some of my stepmom's old paint, bright turquoise as you can see, and made homemade chalk paint out of it! (recipe above). That's it. Super easy. Did about two coats and then put some of the same protective clear finish on top that I did on my table. It is holding up really well! It got some scratches on it on the move over (my parents live in CA) but I just touched up with some of the same paint (not chalk paint, just straight from the can). I used foam brushes for this. 

Dresser number 2: This was more than likely my GREAT grandmother's dresser! I did the same to it as dresser number one, homemade chalk paint but in a different color. It is also holding up really well! The top was pretty messed up so it almost always has this table cloth on it (one I got for a wedding gift 10 years ago!) So far these two dressers have cost me $0!!! That's the way to do it people! :)

Dresser number 3: This was in the house we are living in when we got here. It had some real wood and some of that fake wood. I knew sanding wasn't an option. At this point I hadn't heard much about chalk painting (this was actually the first dresser I did) and so I was looking into other options to paint it without having it scratch off easily/peal without sanding. I found this: Cover Stain Primer. It worked very well! I put on two coats and then took my sister's left over paint that she used to paint her laundry room with. I used foam brushes again (my favorite obviously). There were some knobs missing so I went to IKEA and got a bag of 10 of them for $5 to match as closely as possible! I also spray painted the other knobs/handles with a glossy black spray paint and put them back together. For the top I used some lovely Java Gel Stain. I love this stuff! Hate sanding?! This is your thing right here! I applied three coats to the top of the dresser with socks! That is the best way to do it. A little bit goes a long way!

Let me tell you all a little secret. There are a million other people out there that know a million times more than me about this stuff :) This lady is the one I learned a lot from! I love her youtube channel!

Now for one last fun LITTLE project that I did spur of the moment.
My oldest daughter had a painting up in her room that no one really cared for that was like $10 at a garage sale from years ago. I loved the frame but the picture itself was lame. So I decided to paint it with homemade chalk paint (the same turquoise I had borrowed from my sister for my dining table chairs) and painted the frame with that. Next I painted the painting itself with chalkboard paint! I have made lots of little and big chalkboards since then! Again, one can goes a long way and use foam brushes.

Let me know if you have any questions! It was so much fun doing all of this and spending so little money to transform so many pieces of furniture! 

First picture is all the things I used to refinish my table, chairs and dressers! (minus the paint...lots of different types and colors there and mine were all free!). Each of these containers are 1/2 to 3/4 full still and can be used for any future projects! The second picture is the old picture I painted and put chalkboard paint on from my daughter's room. We decided to hang it up on our fireplace.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Cutting Costs While Practicing Hospitality

A reader recently wrote me and asked: Could you blog about any cost cutting tips you have in regards to hospitality?

First let me start by saying that hospitality is not a gift, it is a command if you are a Christian. "Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.…" (1 Peter 4:8-10)

Notice the commands surrounding the part about being hospitable: keep fervent love for one another and serve one another with the gifts you have been given. Those are not things for us to choose to do, we are called to do them as Christian women and that is also the case with being hospitable. 
Some people may be better at it than you but you are just as called to invite others into your home as those who are "better at it".

For further encouragement on hospitality be sure to check out my husband's sermon!

Keep in mind since hospitality is something God commands then surely He is acquainted with the fact that it costs money, it is not a surprise to Him :) 

Let me  put in a plug (again) for
DEBT FREE LIVING! Pursue it with all your might! Debt free living makes GIVING so much easier and more enjoyable. Hospitality really is just another form of giving, not just of your home, but also of your time and finances. Make this form of giving more within your reach by denying other things you want to buy.

If you are a budgeting family (which I recommend) check out Dave Ramsey budgeting stuff here. Once you have a budget then you will definitely want to incorporate hospitality into it. 

Scott and I have always loved to have people over. It really is our only hobby. We don't hike, or camp or go shopping. I don't sew or knit or ride a bike. He doesn't work on cars or build things... although he is getting into writing! 

Before moving to WA we had spent the first 5 years of marriage in CA. At one point we were hosting THREE HOME FELLOWSHIPS A WEEK! One was the youth group, the other was a young adults group and then on Sunday evening we hosted another adult home fellowship. I only had 1-3 kids in those five years and it was much more manageable. On top of that I would host random mommy-kiddo play dates and host family and friends for overnight visits.

Let's look at the possible expenses with hosting: 
  • Water (toilet, washing extra dishes, sprinkler for summertime play dates :) 
  • Electricity 
  • Food
  • Drinks
  • Paper products
  • Little gifts (tea parties, birthday parties, special guests)
  • Basket of extra necessities (shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant etc.)
  • Extra toilet paper! :) 
That's a short list that comes to my mind quickly when thinking of practicing hospitality.

Here are some cost cutting hospitality ideas: 

1. Potlucks! Talk about cutting your costs! I am not ashamed to host people and have potlucks! ;) If you are providing the space then there is nothing wrong with everyone pitching in for the most time laboring and expensive part: THE FOOD! We have a potluck every week at our house now for our Wednesday night home fellowship and it's a big hit! 

2. Tea Parties. I look for clearance prices on teas when at the grocery store. Don't ever buy tea full price! Second I like to look for economical choices on what to make. Like shortbread! and fruit that is on sale at the time. If your kids are like mine, tea ain't really their thang so we usually do hot cocoa parties. I get a big tub of it since it's much cheaper per ounce than the packets and then I just mix the cocoa together in the tea pot and put the tea pot on the table. We do tea parties randomly and have even used it as a witnessing tool inviting one of our little unsaved neighbor girls over to share Christ with her through books and coloring and talking. Makes me want to do one this week!

3. Birthday Parties. Birthday parties can be VERY pricey if you aren't careful and intentional. First, let me tell you that I don't do "take home bags". I hate when my kids get a bag full of junk for me to throw away and pick up around the house. Second, we often just do cake and ice cream and invite families to come over at 7. Who says you have to do some big meal? I must say though that since our kids have gotten older and since we have no debt, that we are willing to be a bit more extravagant in our birthday parties. 

4. Having people over for dessert (instead of dinner). This has been a major game changer for me. Having five littles and making a big meal is A LOT OF WORK. Forget about the money! It takes a lot of time and patience to make a meal for two families with little people pulling on your legs. So now Scott and I invite people over at 7 for dessert and fellowship. I often just make "cake cookies"! The easiest, cheapest and yet yummy option! I just got a bunch of boxes of Betty Crocker cake mix for $1.50 each! ******Recipe: One box of cake mix (anyone you choose), 2 eggs and 1/4 to 1/3 cup oil. Bake at 350 until they crack on top (around 10 min.). Let sit on pan for at least 5 min. and transfer to cooling rack. Once cooled we like to frost them.******* I also stock up on frosting when they are on sale/clearance. Or get a big bag of powdered sugar to make your own frosting. Lastly, we like to buy sprinkles at the dollar store or again, when they are on clearance. I always have a big stock pile of these items! Plus the kids love decorating them and Rhea can make them by herself since they are so easy! Another great option to have along side these cookies is popcorn. Could it get any cheaper than popcorn?! My husband prefers the airpopper and I prefer stove top. I put enough oil (coconut is yummy or just good ole canola oil) on the bottom of a big pan to cover the bottom. Then I put in kernels (much cheaper than bagged popcorn you put in the microwave). I put in enough kernels to cover the bottom as well (better too little than too much because too much leads to burning). Then you shake the pan vigorously until almost all the kernels are done popping. If you want kettle corn you can stir in sugar together with oil and kernels before popping. When finished salt it and eat up! Always a big, yummy, cheap hit! ( I also do garlic salt sometimes!)

5. Look for frugal and creative ways to furnish a home that is guest friendly/ideal for hospitality. Craigslist and yardsales people! So I am sitting in our living room and dining room (which are really one big room) right now looking around at our house. We have 3 sofas, one sectional, two recliners, three dressers (that I use for storing homeschooling stuff and paper products and use as buffets when we have company) and two dining room tables (we also have some card tables folded up and metal chairs for extra seating that we got for free). One of the tables was my husband's when we got married (I completely changed it! It was a plain oak table and I sanded it down, stained the top black and chalk painted the legs. I will have to do a tutorial on that too!) and the other table was purchased off of craigslist for $250 with all six chairs ( a huge table by the way). The table my husband had when got married came with six chairs. We now have four left (hey! 12 years and lots of kids=lots of abuse). I chalk painted them and use them as extra chairs. The other chairs we now use at the table were given to us for free. I spray painted them as well and covered the cloth on the chairs with this (not this pattern) kid friendly oil cloth (which is cheaper through Michael's by the way). Lastly, for the dining room table, I have a bench that seats three children that I got for $20 with a store credit at a local consignment shop. Two of our sofas were also my husband's when we got married. One of the recliners was given to us and one was 50% off a few years ago at Fred Meyers (promise me you will NEVER buy something full price :) The last piece in the living room, the sectional, was a splurge. I had researched craigslist and yard sales for weeks and was finding that $800-$1000 was normal for USED sectionals! I couldn't believe it. We ended up getting one off of amazon brand new for $500 with free shipping. Given that it feels like IKEA furniture but we are still happy with it. Lastly, the dressers! I Love my dressers! I got them all for free! Two were in my dad's storage shed (looking tore up!) and the other was in the house when we moved in. I will be doing a post on how I got these babies fixed up soon!

6. Paper products and toilet paper. I'll admit it. We do plastic cups... maybe that will change some day, but for now we put a sharpie out by the cups and call it good. Our home fellowship can have around 40 people on a Wednesday night and I just don't want to wash that many cups! I buy ours at Costco. Also, like I mentioned earlier, this is a splurge we feel comfortable making since we have no debt. For all other paper products (napkins, paper plates, plastic forks and toilet paper) I do "subscribe and save" through amazon.

I think that's it for now! Let me know if you have any ideas to contribute or any other questions!

Happy Hosting!

Pictures below of our house. Sorry they are so blurry! Follow me on Instagram to see better pics :) 

Part of our living room with our sectional. 

One of our tables for Christmas dinner.

Two of our dining room tables and the round table is one we borrowed from our church. The round table has the chalk painted chairs around it! 

My dressers! I use two to put food on when company is over and one of them for the drinks.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

What Do You Let Steal Your Identity?

We recently had a ladies conference at our church and this is a transcript of my message! The theme was: Identity In Christ. To listen to my message click here. 
What titles or identities do you crave? Do you want to be known as a woman who has self-control? Is smart? Thin? Pretty? How about an excellent homemaker? Independent? Popular? Funny? We all crave different identities.

My hope is that through this post the list of identities you crave will dramatically change.
Our sense of identity will determine so much about our lives. It determines if we feel a sense of belonging or a sense of loneliness. A sense of purpose or a sense of uselessness. A sense of hope or a sense of despair. Who we think we are determines so much and it is vital that as Christian women we have a Christ centered, biblical perspective of our identity.

(2 Cor. 5:17) "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."

(1 Peter 2:9) "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." 

( Gal. 2:20) "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

So just looking at those 3 verses alone I was able to gather 9 ways that God identifies us as believers.  I have 9 blanks for you on your insert to fill in.

He says we are

#1. A new creation
#2. Chosen
#3. Royalty
#4. Holy
#5. His own possession
#6. Called out of darkness
#7. Crucified with Christ
#8. Living by faith
#9. Loved

Look over that short list. It should make us all very thankful! Looking over those nine identities should bring us all a sense of joy and gratitude for who God says we truly are in Him! If you are in Christ, these are just some of the marvelous ways God describes you. 

The world on the other hand, wants to rob us of these beautiful descriptions! The world wants to give us counterfeit identities that make us feel important at first but then later only leave us more unsatisfied and longing for more. In other words, the world and your enemy want to practice identity theft on you. Let me read this secular description of identity theft: “identity theft is the deliberate use of someone else's identity, usually as a method to gain a financial advantage or other benefits in the other person's name. The person whose identity has been assumed may suffer adverse consequences. Identity theft occurs when someone uses another's personally identifying information without their permission.”

Now let's look at this from a spiritual perspective: Spiritual identity theft is the deliberate use of a Christian’s identity to zap them of all joy and peace that they are supposed to have in Christ. This causes great pain and confusion in the Christian’s life. They wander around often unaware that their identity has even been stolen and unaware that in fact they often gave it away. Spiritual identity theft is all too common in a Christian woman’s life.
I have provided for you six warnings, that if you heed them, they will help you to fight against spiritual identity theft. Warning number 1: Don’t let your past take your identity. So many Christian women feel bound to their past. They play the same records over and over again. “I was abused. I was a child of a drunk. I was the daughter of a single mom. I had an abortion. I did drugs.” Whatever their pasts are they meditate on them and are unable to move past them because in a sense they are claiming their pasts as their identity rather than who Christ says they are. They are allowing their past to commit identity theft. Picture a butterfly flying around and all day it’s sad because it USED to be a caterpillar. Everyday his little butterfly friends are telling him: “Yeah, but you’re not a caterpillar anymore! We’ve been changed! We’re new creations now! We are something completely different. Rejoice! that old has gone behold the new has come!” And then imagine he ignores his friends and continues to mope around not experiencing the joy he is meant to have as a butterfly because he repeats over and over, “I used to be a caterpillar. I used to be a caterpillar. It was so terrible when I was a caterpillar.” Now wouldn’t you feel sorry for that butterfly? Wouldn’t you think what in the world butterfly?! get it through your head! You’re not a caterpillar anymore! In fact you are something totally new and different.” Now I know that is a super cheesy analogy but I like it anyway. Too many of us are butterflies mourning over the caterpillar that we once were. Many of us who God declares are new creations are spending our whole life moping and mourning because of what we WERE or because of what WAS. If our identity in Christ were based on our pasts we would all have some lame identities. But praise God! Our identity in Christ is based on Him and not our pasts. Your identity in Christ is based on Him and not you. The same goes for His love for you. His love for you is never based on you. His love for you is based on who you are IN HIM. His love for you is based on what He accomplished not on what you accomplished or are accomplishing. If you struggle with letting your past become your identity I would recommend 2 Cor. 5:17 become one of your memory verses that you can say outloud and use to help take your thoughts captive, reminding yourself that it doesn’t matter who you say you are, it matters who your Creator says you are, and He says, if you are in Him you are a new creation.

Warning number 2: Don’t let your weaknesses steal your identity. Ok, but you don’t really know me Katie. I sure don’t feel like a new creation. I hate myself. I hate my weaknesses. My struggles. I never change. Does that sound familiar? We all hate our struggles and weaknesses. Turn with me to 2 Cor. 12:7. We will read through verse 10.

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 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. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Let’s break this down a bit. Verse 7 says: "To keep me from becoming conceited.” Believe it or not we are all capable of becoming conceited. Praise God for our weaknesses because they remind us we have nothing to be conceited about. Praise God that He knew we would become so puffed up with ourselves if we did not have weaknesses or struggles to remind us of how fragile and helpless we really are! This is why Paul can say he will boast all the more gladly in his weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon him instead of the power of Paul. We all need the power of Christ to rest upon us, not the power of self.

Imagine you had no weaknesses or struggles. Your power would be found in yourself. Instead of letting your struggles and weaknesses become your identity, make them propel you into worship of Christ. Recognize that they are able to turn you away from yourself and toward Him. Never let your weaknesses do the opposite and turn you away from Christ while focusing on yourself. You are not defined by your weaknesses and struggles. They are simply there to remind you that when you are weak you are strong because your weaknesses force you to draw from His strength.

I will close this warning with a quote from the gospel coalition: The bedrock of our rejoicing isn’t the goodness of our day, but the goodness of our God. It’s him strengthening me that allows me to abound. Not me being strong enough to no longer need him.”  Warning number 3: Don’t let your strengths take your identity. This one is tricky isn’t it? What are you praised for in your life? Your weaknesses? Do people go on and on about how much you gossip or how much you interrupt and never stop talking or what a glutton you are or your anger problem. No. People praise you about your strengths. This makes it very easy unfortunately to have our strengths become our identity. This makes it very easy to cling to our strengths and make them our all and all. Whatever strengths you have they are strictly there to glorify Him and not you. Remember when I read from 1 Peter 2: 9 “ a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him”? Looks like our strengths don’t even belong to us. Looks like they’re His. Looks like they are only there to help proclaim His excellencies, not ours.

Whatever strengths you do have they are meant to build up His reputation and not yours. Don’t let your strengths steal your identity. Instead remind yourself that you are not your own possession and your strengths are meant to point others to Him and not you.
Warning number 4: Don’t let comparison steal your identity. Comparison is often the thief of joy isn’t it? I do want to say at the onset of this lesson though that sometimes I think comparison can actually be used to push us in the right direction and not the wrong direction. I don’t think it is ALWAYS a bad thing. Let me explain, there have been some very godly women I have compared myself to and it has pushed me toward Christ and away from myself. It has actually increased my security in my identity in Christ. It has compelled me to want to be more like them because it seems they have a better grasp on who they are in Christ than I do. That form of comparison though is not what I am warning you against.

Comparison in most womens’ lives destroys their identity. God has a specific plan and purpose for YOUR LIFE that looks different from His plan for others’ lives.

One of my heros of the faith is Joni Earekson Tada. That woman has chosen to not compare her life to others. Joni was in a diving accident as a teenager and has been paralyzed from the neck down ever since. She is 66 years old now. So for about 50 years I am sure this dear woman has had to battle the temptation of comparison. I am sure comparison has wanted to steal her identity numerous times. She has chosen HOWEVER to find her identity in Christ alone and thereby not worry about how God has chosen to plan other people’s lives. She doesn’t spend time comparing instead she spends time giving praise to her Maker.

Listen to these beautiful words from her. “The nice thing is God understands the art of pruning. In John 15:2 it says that the Lord "cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will bear even more fruit.” Sometimes God seems merciless with His pruning shears and, like Job, we often feel like the Lord's sharp shears have clipped our lives so close to the root that we don't see how anything could ever grow back. I should know this. I broke my neck when I was just a teenager and, believe me, dealing with quadriplegia at so young an age was very hard. God really clipped my life close to the root. But God's purpose in pruning us back couldn't be more virtuous, more noble, for if we are bearing fruit in His kingdom, He'll prune us so that we can be even more fruitful. God is an expert with His shears and He is looking for believers who are happy to yield to the cutting edge of those clippers, and when you do, hope returns. New life pokes up from the stump and joy reappears.

Praise God for this woman’s submissive heart to Him and His pruning. We cannot be living in the detrimental practice of comparison and submitted to God at the same time. We can’t be so consumed with how the Lord chooses to prune or not prune others’ lives and have confidence in His plans for our lives. We cannot be submitted to His pruning and whining that we don’t have what others have. When we choose to avoid comparing our lot with the lot that God has given others we will find the vibrant confidence Joni speaks of. Our identity in Christ can never be found if we are living a life filled with comparison. Warning number 5: Don’t let YOUR plans for your life steal your identity: We all have BIG plans for ourselves don’t we? In five years my life will look like…. Fill in the blank. In 20 years I will be….. When I get married to the love my life we will have this many kids and live on property and grow our own food and have no debt and NEVER fight and my husband and I will partner together to train up our children in the way they should go and they will DEFINITELY go that way and everyone will talk well of us and want to be us and…

OH. MY!! But we do this. We wrap our identity up in this make believe world we have created for ourselves or this world we think we so justly deserve and then when God doesn’t deliver we are very disappointed and often angry. We have all these dreams and plans and forget that His plan is probably WAAAAAY different.

Do you think Joni had a different plan for her life?

Turn with me to Luke Chapter 1 starting in verse 38 we read Mary’s response to the angel when he tells her that she will be a pregnant virgin. Then Mary said. Um no sorry Gabe, that’s definitely not in my plans. Do you have any idea what that means for me? Joseph and I aren’t even married yet! This is going to ruin my reputation and his and forever change my plans for my life! Thanks but no thanks.” No that’s not what she said. She said: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.”

Now let me ask you, do you think Mary was ready for this? Do you think it was ever in her plans or dreams to become a pregnant virgin and be mocked and ridiculed by many? Do you think she maybe had other plans for her and Joseph? Do you think she was afraid? And yet, look at her response how does she refer to herself?: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” I love how the NLT puts it: ““I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” THIS is the response we should have to our Lord when He takes OUR plans for our lives and changes them… even dramatically… Mary’s identity never changed, she always saw herself as a maidservant of the Lord. She knew she was not her own. She understood her identity.

Is that your identity? Do you identify yourself as His maidservant ready to do His will? When we find our identity in Him rather than in all our dreams and plans and the way we THINK things should be we will truly find our identity in Christ AND we will live a life filled with joy and thanksgiving rather than bitterness and ingratitude.

Here is a wonderful quote by John Piper: “Occasionally weep deeply over the life you had hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.” I particularly love that last part! Embrace the life you have!

Too many of us are having an identity crisis because we spend so much time trying to identify with a life that isn’t ours… that we may have hoped for but that isn’t reality… embrace reality. Be like Joni Earkson Tada. Or Helen Keller who was born with the ability to see and hear and at 19 months old, she contracted an illness and it left her both deaf and blind. She lived a lovely life not consumed with how she wished her life would be and here is one of my favorite quotes of hers: “So much has been given to me, I have no time to ponder over that which has been denied.” Are you doing that? Are you so wrapped up in what has been give to you that you have no time to ponder what has been denied? Don’t let YOUR plans for your life steal your identity. Embrace His plans. Embrace the life you have.

Warning number 6: Don’t let your emotions take your identity. This is definitely one I think we can all relate to. Our emotions and feelings often have way too much sway over who we think we are. We let our feelings determine our identity instead the Word of God determining our identity. Listen to this quote by DG Hart: We should understand that the subjective depends on the objective. Right emotions depend on, and derive from, sound doctrine.” Right emotions depend on and derive from sound doctrine. If you know who you are in Christ, if your doctrine is correct on your identity you can use it to influence and direct your feelings and emotions rather than having your identity rest on how you are feeling. Here’s what some may struggle with though in regards to this. Many of you have been Christians for a long time. You have known you are loved, holy, chosen, called out of darkness, a new creation but rather than having those truths run your life you let emotions run your life. Rather than taking that head knowledge and living out daily as truth you store it away and say “yeah, I know all of that.” But you don’t. Your life proves you don’t really know that.  

When our feelings determine who we are we are sure to find ourselves in a mess. We are sure to have a wrong view of our identity in Christ. Elisabeth Elliot said: “We float on feelings that will carry us where we were never meant to go; we bubble with emotional experiences that we often take for spiritual ones; and we are puffed up with pride. Instead of seriousness, there is foolishness. Instead of gravity, flippancy. Sentimentality takes the place of theology. Our reference point will never serve to keep our feet on solid rock, for our reference point, until we answer God’s call, is merely ourselves.”

Don’t let your emotions be your reference point. Don’t let them steal your identity. One of my favorite little sermon clips on youtube is of a wonderful preacher named Allistair Begg. He shared how he went to a different church on vacation one time and when the worship leader got up before the church he shouted: “How do you FEEL?!” Allistair said to himself: “How do I feel?! I feel crummy! Don’t ask me that question! Ask me what I know! Ask me what I know about God! Ask me what I know about His Word!”

We must quit asking ourselves how we feel and start asking ourselves "what do I know?” This is why the Word of God is so paramount in our lives. Reading it daily and listening to it daily, will continue to strengthen your identity in Christ and diminish your identity in how you are feeling.

The enemy wants to commit identity theft on you and have it wrapped up in your past, your weaknesses, your strengths, your propensity to compare, the big plans you have your life and your emotions. But God wants your identity wrapped up in who He says you are.

Jen Wilkin said: “We are what we behold.” Do you believe that? If you behold His Word daily, not just in reading but in your heart and mind, you will become more of what it describes you to be. If however you behold the lies that circulate in this world through media or even the lies of your own thoughts and feelings, you will buy into those lies more and more. Behold your God. Behold who He says you are. Don’t look at your circumstances. Stop looking at what you wish would have been or what might be. Stop looking at others. Stop looking at how strong you are or how weak you are. Stop looking at your past and how you are feeling. Look at Him. Behold Him. Remember who He is. He is the Alpha and OMega. The King of kings. He is your Creator. The Almighty One who will never leave you or forsake you. He is the Author of life and Sovereign over all things. He is good. All knowing. He is love. It is in this God that you are to find your true identity.

Hebrews 12:1-2 let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, llooking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Look to Him. Read His Word to find out who He is and you will find out who you really are.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Why We Don't Live Within Our Means

We don't live within our means. Let me explain. We could be spending a lot more money than we do. Our means, the amount in our savings, says: "go ahead and live a little" but in my husband's wisdom he admonishes us as a family to save more rather than spend more. Future generations will reap what we sow.  

We have plenty of money in savings because we:

1. Don't go out to eat more than once a month and we pretty much never go out to coffee.
2. Plan very few trips. In fact, we hardly leave our house. I had been looking for a particular sippy cup for weeks. I went out to the van and saw it was there! Guess it had been a while since we had gone anywhere :) Going places usually means spending money even if it's only on gas. I must admit that we have more freedom in this because we live downtown, next to our church and next to family. 

3. Rarely buy new clothing.
4.Only get one nice gift for the kids on their birthday. (What a waste so many toys can be!)
5.Paid off our mortgage! Talk about making it easier to save money! 
6.We really try not to waste food.... or anything for that matter.

Here is a link with more of our tips on saving!

You see, just because you have the money to go on more trips, buy more toys, go out to dinner often, purchase new clothes etc. doesn't mean you have to. Don't spend money just because you have it. Buy what you NEED not what you WANT and then later in life you can buy what you want not just what you need without the guilt!

Too many are living outside of their means in the other direction. They spend money they don't have and wonder why they are constantly struggling financially. I have also seen people get out of debt and then think that gives them the liberty to spend their money anyway they please only to find themselves in debt again or living paycheck to paycheck.

My husband recently is fulfilling one of his dreams to publish a book! We are all very excited and it has been such a joy to be able to invest in this dream of his without having to worry about the money we are putting into it because we have plenty saved up. Another huge benefit of living like this is we are better able to give! We can give liberally without worrying.

Please don't think we have plenty in savings because we make lots of money :) We have been single income our whole marriage and my husband went from being a public school teacher to a pastor... neither career is known for it's high income :) 

Not sure how to live within a budget?! Dave Ramsey can help! Click here. 

Lastly, every human should watch this. It cracks me up and it's so true! :) 

So save up your money and then save more!