what is my knee-jerk reaction?

I’ve often heard it said that hindsight is 20/20.  I completely agree.

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading through old journals and was able to see where I have grown in my understanding of a very real struggle in our life throughout the years.

That struggle is my response to our financial/material circumstances.  I have often had a “knee-jerk reaction” to the times when I feel our family has a “need” and I cannot see how in the world it will be met.  My natural inclination was to panic, and try to figure out how to bring in more money to our household.

While I think that supplementing the family income can be a wonderful thing, I have my doubts that doing so because of a “knee-jerk reaction” is a wise way to go about it.

These are a few things I have learned, especially in this past year, that have changed my perspective on how to respond to our family’s “needs”.

  1. God is our ultimate source of provision.  He might use our career, He might use our creativity and hard work, He might use our church family, or He might use a stranger or a situation to provide what we need.
  2. I have had to redefine “need”.  While I might think that we need a large bag of yummy looking fresh fruit for our family, I have learned that sometimes that need is met by receiving a batch of pears that are almost “gone” and picking through, cutting off the rotten spots and using the good parts.  Maybe they won’t receive a whole pear each, but instead, they get chunks of pear to eat with their yogurt.  Instead of “needing” a whole loaf of French bread to go with soup, I can use just a couple of crusty rolls by slicing them, drizzling with olive oil and toasting under the broiler.  It is sufficient-and pretty darn nice, if you ask me!  Maybe instead of purchasing brand new gifts for our boys this Christmas, we will be able to find them each a gift from one of the thrift stores in our area.  Maybe we don’t need to keep the thermostat at 65 to keep the house warm, but we can stay warm by lowering the thermostat and wearing an extra layer (or two!).
  3. I need to feel confident in the role I play in my household.  We have chosen to be a one income family so that I could stay home and take care of the children and the house.  I fully embrace the fact that Chris’ role is to bring in the paycheck, and I get to stretch it as far as it will go.  I think that having confidence in the role that I have chosen helps me avoid the “knee-jerk” reaction of thinking it is my responsibility to bring in more income.  When those times come that I am paying bills and buying groceries and I don’t see how to make things work, I pray for creativity as I juggle our budget and take one day at a time.
  4. The one day at time concept is one that I learned this past year while we were unemployed for several months.  I am a planner.  And while this can often be a good thing, it has often interfered in my ability (and choice) to trust in God’s daily provision.  If we need dish soap today, I will go ahead and purchase it.  I no longer stress that if I purchase what I need today that I won’t be able to get what we might need next week.  He has never failed to provide exactly what we need, and just when we need it!  We often turned to Matthew 6:25-34

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing,  yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

I also love this passage from the chapter of Proverbs, verse 8-9

    “Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!
    Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say,“Who is the Lord?”
    And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.”

It all boils down to trust.  When we find ourselves in a seemingly impossible place, between our income and our needs, I no longer experience the knee-jerk reaction of panic and scrambling for what I think we need.  Trust in who God is and what He does keeps me hanging on even tighter to my role as homemaker and ask for the creativity and perseverance that I need to accomplish what He wants me to accomplish.  As I focus on being here for my boys and taking care of our home, He has never failed to take care of us, nor will He ever!

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Meal Plan

A meal plan for the next little while…

BREAKFAST

  • Monday-cold cereal, muffins, fruit
  • Tuesday-oatmeal, muffins, fruit
  • Wednesday-eggs, bagels, fruit
  • Thursday-oatmeal, muffins, fruit
  • Friday-granola/muesli, muffins, fruit

LUNCHES

  • Monday-peanut butter and honey, veggies, pretzels
  • Tuesday-pita pizzas/burritos/quesadillas, veggies
  • Wednesday-meat sandwich, veggies, chips
  • Thursday-soup/salad, bread/muffins
  • Friday-tuna/egg salad sandwich, veggies, pretzels

DINNERS

  • freezer meal (busy day)
  • crockpot meal
  • meatless meal
  • soup meal
  • meatless meal
  • nice meat meal with dessert
  • leftovers or ramen noodles

PRE-MAKE

  • muffins once a month (take bag out of freezer the night before)
  • make large batch of granola/muesli once a month
  • slice and bag all veggies once a week
  • every two weeks, make up a bunch of quesadillas, burritos and pita pizzas and freeze
  • make biscuits and cheesy bread/freeze until ready to bake
  • double recipes like baked spaghetti, chili, rice and black bean bake, other soups, etc

{august 27, 2013}

August 27, 2013

I’ve been awake since 2:00am…will probably need a nap this afternoon!  My mind can’t stop!

How do I increase our income and decrease our spending?  

  • rummage sale-pay off one little bill?
  • take in another child/child care
  • watch electricity and water usage
  • meatless meals
  • homemade baked goods-muffins, bread, etc
  • homemade oatmeal packets

I need to read through Miserly Moms again for ideas on how to save money, stretch our dollar as far as it can go!

Breadsticks, Pumpkin Seeds, and a Great New Book!

Our ISP thinks they have discovered and corrected the issues that we’ve been having with our internet, so hopefully I can continue posting on a daily basis for the rest of this monthly challenge.
On Wednesday, instead of purchasing garlic bread from the store, I decided I would make Parmesan Breadsticks by hand. I made them with 100% whole wheat flour, but next time I think I will use spelt flour, and maybe add a little white flour, to soften the flavor.

On Thursday, my son wanted to make Chocolate Chip Cookies (and he makes VERY good chocolate chip cookies). But, alas, we didn’t have any more brown sugar, and no money with which to buy some. I suggested that he make the brown sugar, like we did growing up in South America. All you have to do is add molasses to regular sugar and mix it up real well. My son and husband, who aren’t huge fans of molasses cookies, were a little dubious, but I insisted that it would be just fine! I helped him get it started, then left for choir practice. When I got home, I asked my hubby how the cookies were. He said they turned out great!!!

On Thursday, I noticed that our neighbors were carving pumpkins and I asked them if they liked to roast the seeds. She said that she wasn’t going to because she was the only one in her familythat really ate them. So, I asked her if I could have them, and she very kindly shared them with me! I let them dry overnight, and then roasted them in the morning with 2 Tb. of butter, salt, pepper, cayenne and Cajun seasoning. (They can be addicting)

And now, that great book I mentioned…
My mom passed on a book to me a while ago, called “Having a Mary Spirit…allowing God to change us from the inside out” by Joanna Weaver. She also wrote “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World”, and my girlfriends and I worked through that book several years ago.

I believe that the Spirit kept whispering to me to pick it up and look at it. I had recently finished reading through the Old Testament, and I was praying about where I should study next during my morning time with the Lord. I don’t often use books for that purpose, but I was strongly impressed to pick it up and look at it. And when I did, I knew that He was indeed wanting to teach me something about Himself through this study. Here’s a little of what I’ve been reading.

“I can’t imagine anything more terrible than getting to the end of my life only to discover that God had so much more in mind for me-more freedom, more joy, more peace, more true effectiveness. And I had missed it all, simply because I refused to change.”

“Continually striving, yet never arriving. Hoping, praying to be different, only waking up to find you’re not as far along as you’d hoped to be. Sometimes feeling like you’re right back where you started-again!”

“If I could just be good enough and do the right things, then I would please God. But in my heartfelt desire to serve and honor the Lord, I fell prey to the same lie that deceived the Pharisees so long ago. The lie that holiness is up to us.”

“To think that Christ gave us so much only to have us experience so little brings tears to my eyes.”

“Satan wants me-and he wants you!-to be so constantly preoccupied with what we’re not that we never get around to realizing all that God is.”

The verse that I am memorizing…

Philippians 3:12-14 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

and the song that we are learning in choir, which plays itself over and over in my heart, reaffirming what I am reading and learning in the mornings…

Day Two

What did I do to save money today?

To be honest, my mind has been consumed with this ever-increasing problem of inconsistent internet service. Especially when the kids depend on it for their schoolwork, having it fail several times a day is frustrating…to say the least. One of my boys asked me why we don’t sue the company…I told them that aside from the fact that we don’t believe that would be a godly response, it would probably cost us a ton of money just to bring them to court.

So, can I say that I am saving money by not suing our ISP? Does that count?

Hmmm…maybe not.

Instead of making the meal that I had planned on the menu for lunch today, we cleaned out the frig. Often, with all our hungry boys, we don’t even have leftovers, but this week we seemed to have an abundance. So, I feel good about doing that and now I still have a couple of boxes of mac and cheese for later on this week.

It sure pays to keep sesame oil on hand…I just dumped some EVOO, garlic, red pepper flakes and sesame oil in a pan with leftover rice, chopped green peppers and 1/2 slice of cooked bacon. I just love the flavor that sesame oil gives food! Topped with a little soy sauce, it was heavenly!

Mula-Saving Effort #1

We recently started a course on finances and I am reminded, once again, that the only way that I can increase our income is to decrease our spending. And honestly, when my four growing boys would literally eat from 7:30am to 8:30pm, I am wishing that I could add money to our grocery budget…not take money away from it. But, that’s not happening right now, so I challenged myself to make an intentional effort every day to do something that saves me from spending money.

Today, as I was thinking about what to make for my kids as their morning snack, I found a recipe for homemade crackers that my sister gave me. I made them, and one of my boys mentioned how good they would be with hummus.

But I only had 2 cans of garbanzo beans in the pantry, and those are for Spaghetti alla Ceci on Wednesday night. But, I did have some black-eyed peas in the pantry. Hmmm…can you make hummus with black-eyed peas? You betcha!

So, that was today’s effort…Homemade Crackers and Black-Eyed Pea Hummus. Yummy!