Monday, November 26, 2012

Life on a Budget

I have definetly caught the budgeting bug!

I swear to you for the first time in my life I actually look forward to getting our bills each month.  Can you believe it?  I know, me either.

We have been working hard to keep our heat turned down, our wood stove cranked up, lights off and spending to a minimum.  Our children are adjusting as they at first couldn't understand why we just don't run out for ice cream or a new sweater or .... "fill in the blank" like we used to.  I have reduced my drive thru coffee habit - down to about once every two months.  Scott has trimmed his eating out budget to a fraction of what it used to be.

Here are the top reasons I am so thankful for our new budget:
1.  I feel like a grown up.
2.  It has caused me to be more organized with paperwork than ever before.  I even know what we paid for utilities for the past 2 years so I can have an idea what to actually budget for each month!
3.  We can be more purposeful in our giving!!!
4.  Choosing where to spend our money is empowering!
5.  We can make our dollars stretch farther when we respect them more!
6.   Prioritizing our personal expenses means nothing truly important gets left out at the expense of something less important!
7.  I am more thankful for the conveniences and goods we exchange our money for - heat, services rendered, internet and more.

For our family being thrifty and purposeful during the winter months is absolutely essential as our business slows way down from the full and bustling summer and fall.  While we have more time together we have much less money to spend, it's feast or famine!  I will take the family time and enjoy it more when I realize we  have prepared well!

How about your family - do you budget?  What are your tips and tricks to staying on track?

I use Dave Ramsey's online budget worksheets printed right off of his website for free in order to make a monthly budget.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

More Than Enough

I woke up this morning knowing we have an abundance.  We have enough for today which means we are satisfied.  We even have enough for tomorrow, which is an abundance.  When I realize this and the fact that we are so fortunate in America, it causes me to wonder - why?  Why do we have enough when others don't?
The answer to this question is not a simple one.  Yet, I came to the profound reason of freedom.  We have more prosperity in America than anywhere else because we have more FREEDOM in America than anywhere else.  The two go hand in hand.  And why do we have the freedom we have?
Because brave men and women stood up to tyranny in 1776 and we still stand up to it today.  Our freedom was and still is hard-won, it has and continues to cost untold numbers of lives.  Sometimes we think freedom is free or at the least, some of us take it for granted.   Many in America today don't even remember our country's history or how far we have come.  So today, when I think of the fact that we have all we need I will be mindful of the cost - and not in dollars and cents but in loss and struggle resulting in triumph.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What is Charity?

Practically speaking, charity means the voluntary giving of help to those in need who are not related to the giver.  The virtue of charity is said to be "that it unites us to God" and reflects the heart of God to those in need.

When I searched for the meaning of this word I found this interesting article.  It really has me thinking more seriously about the causes I donate to.  It has me pondering the way we prioritize our giving.  For instance, in a crisis with wounded victims, emergency responders would quickly assess the level of care and prioritize their patients in terms of most to least critical - treating those with the most urgent need first.  I'm starting to think of charity in this way also.  
When there are still tent communities in Haiti from the earthquake and the dire conditions there... when there are people in the East still struggling to get necessities in the aftermath of the Hurricane, when there are still always children starving in Africa, & when giving directly related to poverty is so substantially down...
I just wonder, maybe our charitable donations should be reconsidered.

These days there are many non-profits but are we first caring for the most vulnerable among us?  Or, are we helping those who can help themselves?

One last thing, today I joined Pure Charity.  You can follow me on Pure Charity and start your own account.  It allows you to allocate a percentage of the purchases you make to fund causes that touch your heart.  I learned all about it through Jen Hatmaker - Before You Spend Another Penny... and also her post about The Legacy Project.  Please read them and join!  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A new old way

We have a new (for us) tradition starting this year!
For the past few holiday seasons, I've been drifting away from some of the traditional elements of Christmas.  While I still LOVE Christmas, on my heart right now is the upcoming celebration of Hanukkah!  The celebration of the Miracle of Lights is an ancient tradition Jesus would most likely have enjoyed as a child!
This year, starting on December 8th, we will learn about Hanukkah and join in the traditions of lighting the candles, playing games, eating traditional foods and so on.   Most importantly, we will remember how God is faithful.  Since we have simplified our Christmas plans, gift giving, decor and such I am looking forward to have a time and space in December for this.
My own paternal grandfather was Jewish so I know it is a part of my heritage, however small.  I am hoping it will keep our focus on Jesus more throughout this season of giving!  Inspired to include this new aspect to our celebration I found a simple and pretty Menorah from Israel and a handmade wooden dreidel on etsy.   

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Impromptu Harvest Party

An at home day, with no soccer for the first Saturday in months, we weren't sure quite what to do with ourselves!  Inspired by Kelle Hampton, I had the idea to throw a midday harvest party with our friends.  It's actually the ONLY way I am willing to host parties!  There is no pressure ahead of time which always takes away the fun (for me).

So we bundled up - it's quite cold here!  And headed down to our favorite produce stand for some treats to share.  Tracy's produce stand is one of our family's favorite outings because it's so festive and seasonal.

We grabbed a bag of kettle corn, tortilla chips, apples, mandarins, fall flavored taffies, caramel dip, chocolate covered pretzels, fresh cider and an apple cider scented candle.  Yum!  We already had the pumpkins for decor at home so nothing needed there!  The kids gathered and strung some leaves for a kind of banner over the window!  So cute, so simple.

We just needed friends!  Our neighbor friends came and my friend Noelle with her little girls! We had just the right amount of children and grown ups for a simple gathering!  With the frosty chill the little ones played outside in the leaves and yard just for a short time but inside was warm with our woodstove crackling!  What a lovely cozy day after all!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What we are learning...

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly:
tis dearness only that gives everything it's value.
Heaven knows how to put a proper price on it's
goods; and it would be strange indeed if so
celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be
highly rated.
Thomas Paine 1776

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Life Goes On

Yesterday was simply stunning.
I woke this morning unsure of what to feel.  Truthfully?  I was angry.  There I said it.  What no one else really wants to say.  I almost feel as though time should stop as we let it sink in, what does this all mean?

But then...  
Fortunately the sun came out and that was the first glimmer of hope.  And I remembered we were made "for a time such as this".    A little bit later, I turned on Country Radio and they were actually playing a song.  Our children dressed and headed out to school, emails came flowing in (people still expect us to work!), I even saw the very same friendly faces I always see at the bank and the library as I headed out to run some errands.   

Life goes on.  In it's beautiful complexity and it's heartbreaks and glimmers of glory.  This is how I'm feeling as evening wanes and the sun sets on the day after.  I cannot waste my one wild & precious life on anger - no instead I plan to live.  Yes life goes on.

About Me

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wife & mother of 4 beautiful children, 2 girls & 2 boys. small business co-owner; catering and a restaurant/alehouse, writer, gardener, lover of freedom and humility found in christ, small town enthusiast, book reader, admirer of noble truths, beauty and love