I remember seeing a lot of bloggers come up with a one word theme for the new year. One year I did that..my word was "cozy." Well, I'm jumping on that band wagon but with a serious purpose.
That purpose is frugality...in fact I want to be a downright Tightwad. We have gone through a lot over the years financially, however this past year (2014), I have to say has been our worst. I do believe that this is all part of God's plan because my husband and I have learned A WHOLE LOT due to this. Things will change and it WILL get better...not only that, we'll have a ton of knowledge and wisdom to go with it. Many changes that I have seen are the result of prayers I've said for 10+ years. Now I wouldn't have asked for the lessons to be learned the way they have been learned, but I'll take it lol. So you will see a lot of talk about frugality and living more simply.
We were driving down the highway recently and we both noticed all the billboards. At the same time we both brought up how all these companies just want our money. My husband is a little bit of a spendthrift (smiles) so the changes that I've seen, even in as little as the billboard statement, is huge progress. In fact, I am so proud of both of us because we have given up cable! This is the first time in my whole life that I have not had cable. It's a HUGE change. My hubby is out on worker's comp right now and has to rest his leg. So normally that would be a lot of cable tv viewing. We got an HD indoor antenna, netflix, and a ton of DVDs from the library...it's still an adjustment, but not too bad. I'll talk more on that later.
Now I want to bring something up. I don't know if you are familiar with Yahoo Groups. They were very popular before facebook came around. I have been part of one for over 7 years and I am hosting a book reading on it for the whole year (possibly longer) using the book "The Complete Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Dacyczyn
This book is over 900 pages and we're taking it really slow. I may even park on a certain topic for a whole month so who knows how long it will take. The group I'm part of is actually a holiday group so we talk a lot about holiday stuff, sometimes off topic stuff, crafts, cooking, but the most popular are chats about frugality. If you are interested in joining this group, email me at (freshhomamking(at)gmail(dot)com). The group has a couple thousand members and the messages go in your email so if you're not interested in having a lot of email, then think twice. In my opinion it's not too bad, but everyone is different and the group fluctuates between a lot of emails and then barely any (you can also choose to have a daily digest or no mail at all and just visit the group's site) . I will be talking on here as well, but not in the detail I will with the group.
I'm just really fed up with wasting money. Now I'm not saying that we went crazy...I've always been frugal to a degree (hubby calls me low-maintenance), but I want to pay more attention to the details because they DO ADD UP. For example, I stopped buying saran wrap because I hated that it had only one purpose (to cover stuff and then be tossed). So I started just buying foil because I can at least cook on it. However, it made me mad to see how much I threw out because I always needed to cover a bowl or something to put in the fridge. Sooo, I have tried something else and have succeeded greatly. And that is, at Dollar Tree, I bought these:
Stuff like this seems to not be a big deal but when you do this with EVERYTHING, and pinch pennies every way possible it DOES add up.
When I was driving to the cable company I had this feeling of mourning. Oh it was so hard lol...but when I left I felt empowered!!! Who are they to have such a hold on me?! LOL My bill went from $146 (that includes phone, internet and cable) to $72. That's an extra $74 a month in our pocket!! I'm also working on getting rid of my phone service and trying out something else that's only $10 a month. I'll keep you posted on that.
Anyways...that's my theme this month. Do you have a theme? What kind of frugal things do you do that helps you pinch pennies?
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
I have always been the Christmas fanatic in the family. I LOVE Christmas. I listen to Christmas music throughout the year and when I'm really in the mood I'll watch a Christmas DVD and curl up with a cup of hot cocoa...even in August.
As a child I had great Christmases. I was the only child and the only grandchild so needless to say I was spoiled. But my love for Christmas had nothing to do with gifts and everything to do with the coziness of the holiday. The lights, the smells, the shows, the music...everything.
The past couple years I finally realized it was all from my mom. It was me and my mom watching these Christmas shows every year, drinking hot cocoa, listening to music and so on (my dad watched a few Christmas movies but was never into it like my mom and me...although I do remember hearing him whistle Christmas carols every now and then lol). My mom worked full time since she was 18 years old. By the time she got home she was really exhausted from work like most people are. But something was different at Christmas time. There was excitement in the air when we knew Charlie Brown was coming on that night or Frosty or Rudolph or, our favorite "Twas the Night Before Christmas," you know, the one with the mice? I also loved Mickey's Christmas Carol...that was my favorite as a kid.
My mom MADE Christmas for me.
As I've grown into an adult I have battled with Christmas. I loved the atmosphere my mom made when I was a kid (note - she wasn't even trying to do so, she just did it...it just happened) and I have been trying to duplicate it ever since.
I also had a small family (just my parents, grandparents, and an aunt) and we did the same thing every year. It wasn't done on purpose, it's just the way we did things. In fact I don't think that we really did anything traditional each year on purpose. But to me, these "traditions" were engraved into me. (I also lived in the same house my entire childhood - I never moved as a child and neither did any of my family, so it was ALWAYS the same)
So here I am, 31 years old. I've been married for almost 11 years with 2 boys ages 9 and 5. I only have one living grandparent left and we moved out of state (from CT to OH). I don't even see any of my family at Thanksgiving or Christmas.
A part of me longs for that coziness that I had as a child, but each year I fail to get it.
Growing up we had an artificial Christmas tree and every year we put it up the day after Thanksgiving, along with all our Christmas decorations. Hubby grew up with no traditions and a real Christmas tree. My husband doesn't find the need for traditions like I do so they aren't that important to him. He also didn't really like Christmas when I met him so I decided to give in to his need for a real tree since that really was the only thing he cared about. (he enjoys Christmas now - guess that happens when you marry a Christmas freak! lol)
By doing that, I lost my day after Thanksgiving tradition. That was my most favorite day of the year. I actually looked forward to it as much as I looked forward to Christmas day itself. He also works in the retail business so he HAS TO work the day after Thanksgiving so even if we used an artificial tree, I couldn't put it up that day or have that day be the official Christmas decorating day. Getting the real tree is supposed to be a warm, exciting tradition. We used to go to one of those farms where you cut it down yourself, then drive home, decorate it while listening to Christmas music and drinking hot chocolate. But this is how it really ends up happening:
After getting home, hubby drills holes into the bottom of the tree trunk (helps get more water and makes the tree last a LOT longer), then gets it in the stand and finally we have to wait. If you use an artificial tree every year, you may not know about this. But the trees close up when it's cold outside, soooo when you bring it in the house you have to wait for it to get warm so it will "drop" it's branches. Well kids aren't that patient so let the whining begin. And then when it's FINALLY time to start decorating the tree, they still have to wait for mommy and daddy to put the lights on and then the garland and THEN they can put the ornaments on. I remember a couple Christmases ago, it was the first year my youngest was able to help decorate the tree. Only problem was he didn't understand how to put them on the tree...so they kept falling. And no matter how we showed him he just wasn't getting it and he was screaming the whole time. So decorating the tree that year was chaotic. Instead of the warm, cozy, atmosphere with the hot cocoa, cookies and Christmas music, I instead got a whining 7 year old, a screaming 3 year old, a puppy whimpering, Christmas music that just become a lot of noise, no hot cocoa, I put the butter back in the fridge because at this point I had no desire to bake, and a whole lot of stress.
The year after that we got an artificial tree to put in the kitchen...which we ended up dragging into the living room because we couldn't afford the real tree. This year we have that tree in the kitchen again, but went to Menards and spent $18 on a real tree...we set it up while my oldest was in school and my youngest was playing on the computer...no drama that way lol. We just waited to put the ornaments on so we can all do it together.
Christmas was never stressful for me until I had kids. I couldn't wait to have kids so I can pass down what my mom has done for me. But so far, it doesn't seem to play out the way I pictured it. My life as a mom is completely different than my mom's. She worked full time, I'm a stay at home mom. She only had one kid, I have 2. She had a girl, I have boys. She lived in CT with all her family, I now live in OH with none of my family.Down to every little detail we are different, except for our personalities.
There is no way I can duplicate my child hood...NONE of it.
Even when it comes to watching the Christmas shows. Maybe some of you battle with this. I record the shows on my DVR "just in case" I miss them. Only thing is,I don't remember they are on, or we go out, or for whatever reason we just don't watch them. Am I the only one that finds watching a Christmas show "live" to be totally different than watching it recorded or on a DVD?
I have learned a lot about traditions. The biggest thing that I learned is....
IT'S OKAY TO BREAK THEM!...EVEN ALL OF THEM!
Any time I try to do anything that resembles my Christmas from when I was a child, it comes with a painful feeling inside, almost of mourning. A big part of me wishes I can go back in time, to when I was a kid and relive all my Christmases. Back when not only did I have my family with me, but my family that has passed away over the years.
Sometimes Christmas music is unpredictable to me. I can put on the same music all the time and I never know how my emotions will go. Most of the time I'll enjoy it, even get the warm fuzzies from time to time. But there are times where it brings up raw emotions. I go back in my rut wanting "the good ole days." I never know when it's going to hit...I can be in a great mood and then all of a sudden BAM...I'm in the rut again.
I have prayed a lot about it and God showed me a few things and I'm sharing them with you here.
Like I said, it's okay to break all your traditions that you grew up with. For some reason I NEEDED to know that it was okay. I almost felt guilty if I didn't do it.
If you struggle with anything even remotely similar to what I do, here are some suggestions that I'm learning.
Enjoy the holiday for YOURSELF. My mom absolutely loves Christmas. Because of her I am a Christmas fanatic...however she will actually wait until after Thanksgiving to decorate and celebrate like normal people. Most of the time, when she watches her Christmas shows, my dad is in another room watching something else. Do you think that stops her? Nope. If I wasn't home to watch a show or wasn't interested it didn't stop her either. Her love for Christmas and doing things that SHE liked BLESSED US for multiple reasons. One, we all know that the woman of the home sets the tone. Two, her love for Christmas becomes contagious and three, she's happy doing it which makes her enjoyable to be around. Which brings me to my next point.
Don't depend on someone else for your Christmas enjoyment. Just like we're not supposed to depend on someone else for our happiness (we instead go to Jesus), we shouldn't depend on someone else for our enjoyment with the Christmas season. Just like my first point mentioned enjoying the season for yourself, there is another aspect I want to make sure I do... that is to really bring Jesus into the season. Yes we have our nativity scenes, we read Luke 2, do the whole advent thing and what not, but I really want to use this season to get back with Jesus. During the year I spend a lot of time studying and reading about being a homemaker and things that I need improvement on (anger, prayer life, patience, etc) that sometimes I forget the whole reason WHY I need to change and sometimes I even forget that Jesus loved me so much that he died for me. I think Christmas time should be a regular renewal of our love and closeness to Jesus. This is even more true if Christmas brings you pain. If you lost a loved one and this time of the year really gets you down, you would benefit to dig into Jesus more than you normally do.
I found this AWESOME reading plan that I'm putting in my Christmas binder to do each year. It is called "30 Days with Jesus." It's a reading plan that goes through the life of Jesus and everything He did and said.
And my last point...
Rethink ALL of your traditions or even just get rid of them. Did you know it's okay to throw out all your traditions? It really is okay. Did you know that it's even okay to not have any? For some reason we love to have traditions when it comes to the holidays. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with them. But if they are causing unnecessary stress or unwanted emotions, get rid of them. If you are like me and love traditions but have a family that either could careless about them or for some reason you just can't do them, then make up some traditions for yourself. You can make your own traditions just for you if you'd like. Here are a few just to get your brain going
- You can make yourself a cup of hot chocolate while reading the Word during the month of December
- You can try out a new Christmas movie each year or a new book.
- Try out a recipe just for yourself for lunch or during the day
- Each Friday (or whatever day you pick) of the Christmas season, cuddle up on the couch or in bed and watch your favorite Christmas shows.
- Do a craft that is just for YOUR home.
- Make the house smell nice even if you're the only one home (boil some water with some cinnamon in it along with other similar spices -nutmeg, cloves, allspice, etc) or light a Christmas scented candle
You get the idea. I can't stress enough that we set the tone in our home. And if we're upset and down during the season for whatever reason, then what kind of tone are we setting for our family during the holidays? And what kind of memories are they producing?...especially if you feel this way EVERY YEAR?
I'm personally done with MAKING traditions. Unless one of my kids or hubby has something they want to do every year, I'm not bothering. I'm giving them all up. In fact I'm trying to convince my husband to just do Chinese next Thanksgiving. My kids don't like anything that is on a traditional Thanksgiving table. My oldest just wants mac and cheese...the holidays are the only time I buy the kinds with character shaped noodles (he'll only eat the boxed kind)...that's what makes the day special for him. My youngest...well he just wants a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We don't have family to enjoy it with either and we both feel sick after. Why bother? lol. I rather save all that money and get a smorgasbord of different things from Chinese take out. I had to admit to myself that I truly don't care all that much for the Thanksgiving parade...I just watch it because my mom did. Other than the floats...everything else is boring. I have to decide whether or not to keep it going. My kids don't watch it either, no matter how much I try to make them lol.
I'm not trying to reproduce my childhood anymore. I'll watch Christmas shows on the DVR, we'll get a real tree whenever that happens, we'll have different menu plans each year, have different Christmas foods each year, different activities and so on. Only if something is requested again, will I do it. Then that becomes a "natural" tradition.
My mom never did things on purpose. It was her joy during the holidays that brought the warmth in the house and what made me love Christmas so much and THAT is what I'm hoping to pass along to my family.
Do you struggle at Christmas? What about with traditions? I hope I helped you somewhat. This is supposed to be a time of joy but, like with everything else, I'm good at complicating things...how about you? :)
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Definition: confuse, make difficult
Synonyms: add fuel to fire, bedevil, clog, combine, confound, convolute, derange, disarrange, disorder, elaborate, embroil, entangle, fold, foul up, handicap, impede, infold, interfuse, interrelate, interweave, involve, jumble, make intricate, make waves, mix up, muck up, muddle, multiply, obscure, open can of worms, perplex, ravel, render unintelligible, screw up, snafu, snag, snarl up, tangle, twist, upset
Just reading these words stresses me out. But I am QUEEN of complicating EVERYTHING!!! No matter what it is, I will find a way to complicate it. Whether it's grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking and yes, even my Bible time.
I have been a Christian my whole life. I have been a more serious Christian for about 13 years and in all that time I have never read the whole Bible. Yeah I've read all of the New Testament but there are many books in the Old Testament that I haven't read...yet.
I have tried Bible Reading plans, study guides and I even own a study Bible. For a few years I tried the Good Morning Girls studies off and on. I read a book by Kay Arthur that teaches you how to study the Bible deeper along with a few other books. I have tried bible marking, doodling, different methods...whatever is out there, I've tried it. (You should check out one of my Pinterest Boards...it's filled with different Bible Studying methods)
And yet, there is a good chunk of the Bible I haven't read yet. Out of condemnation and guilt I get myself all determined to read through the whole thing. I set up a plan and everything...only to fail.
I've prayed and prayed for YEARS,only to still not know what to do.
With each book I read, each blog article I read and any other source where I am trying to find an answer...it just gets more and more complicated.
One of the books I read gave me the perception that just READING the Bible isn't good enough. You can't capture what's really going on and worst of all, you'll just forget what you are reading.
That last statement has been Satan's number one lie in my ear for YEARS...yes...over a decade I've truly believed that. Isn't it just like him to know I'm seeking ways to know the Word more, and I find all these resources in my face that will help me further complicate it? Satan doesn't want us in the Word and if we do actually get in the Word, he doesn't want us to enjoy it or get anything out of it.
I have a Life Application Study Bible. And I love it. It's my main Bible. However I have complicated reading the Word because of it. There are so many notes and other things to read. When I start off with full determination to read the WHOLE Bible and start right there in Genesis 1 I lose it. Reading all the extra stuff plus chapter 1 sometimes takes me 30 minutes and a few times a whole hour due to interruptions. I lose all that willpower to keep going...after 1 chapter. After all, I can't just read the bible...I have to study it...right? Well by me trying to "study" and only failing, there are big chunks I haven't read yet.
After all my praying God finally helped me to simplify it. I put my study Bible down for a bit and picked up a Bible my grandmother gave me. It's a simple NIV for women. There isn't too many notes in it. In a half hour not only did I get past the first chapter, I got through 8...and that's with interruptions.
I have always wanted to read through the Bible chronologically and I'm FINALLY doing just that and only that. I'm not setting up any certain amount of time or chapters to read each day. Even if I can only read a paragraph that day, that's good enough (even if I miss a few days, that's okay too). I don't have a stack of books, binders or journals to go along with my Bible time. I don't even have a single highlighter or pen. Nope, I'm sitting on my couch with my Snuggie, a cup of coffee and my Bible...just reading. That's it.
By just reading I get to read more. I see a bigger picture. I pray throughout what I'm reading for God to change me based on what I'm reading. My biggest prayer right now is that I get a revelation on how BIG God is. For me, in this season of life with small kids, and a desperate need to KNOW God, I personally can't follow any plan or do any deep studying. I complicate it too much and I just need to flood my heart with His Word. No day is the same therefore I can't do the same thing with the Bible every day. Some days I can read 10 chapters...another just a few verses.
And that's okay.
If you are doing any type of study and it's working for you...then keep at it. But if you are like me, and have struggled with this, I want to give you the comfort of knowing that it's okay to just READ the Word. It's okay to take small chunks every day of the Word. It's okay to not read a Study Bible (can't believe it took me 13 years to figure that out!!!!).
I am challenging you to simplify your time with God. He just wants you. He wants to spend time with you and to love on you. By us complicating it, it brings tension into our time.
I love the Antonyms of that word complicate.
Here are just a few:
untwist, disentangle, ease, MAKE SIMPLE, untangle, UNCOMPLICATE, and free
aaahhh...aren't those words wonderful! We need to untwist and disentangle our time with God. We need to make our Bible reading simple and be at ease. We need to untangle and uncomplicate it all...so we can be free in God.
So go grab your Bible and enjoy :-)
P.S. - Now I just need God to help me simplify cleaning my house and I'll be jumping for joy! lol
Linked to: The Modest Mom Blog
P.S. - Now I just need God to help me simplify cleaning my house and I'll be jumping for joy! lol
Linked to: The Modest Mom Blog
Labels: God's Word