Friday, July 31, 2009

Saturday's Super Mom!!

My husband and I have known of this family since early in our marriage when we lived in Michigan. They sang at our church there when their two oldest were still little. They have a terrific family ministry, and have even had a couple runs in Branson, MO during the last two Christmas seasons. One thing I find so amazing is that they travel around the country with EIGHT children in a bus!! And I think my house feels maxed out sometimes!! Plus, I remember when they didn't even have a bus. I think they rode around in an RV. Take a minute to look around their website and listen to the clips from some of their DVD's. I think you'll enjoy it!!! Meet the Allen Family here.

What a tragedy!!!

Oh, how the following article disturbs me on so MANY different levels.

  1. This family has their theology SO wrong.
  2. Their child died a horrible, slow, needless death because they simply did not recognize the symptoms of a very treatable disease!!
I can understand how at first the parents maybe mistook their daughters symptoms for something else. Diabetes can look rather innocuous in the beginning. But by the time the disease had progressed as far as it did in their daughter's life, they should've realized that she had something other than "the flu". Here's a list of some of the symptoms in no particular order:

  1. Excessive thirst (for us it was "over-the-top" guzzling of water)
  2. Excessive urination (because their bodies are trying to pour out the sugar)
  3. Lack of energy (our daughter laid on the couch while everyone else was outside playing)
  4. Weight loss (our daughter began looking pale and almost gaunt)
  5. Unexplained headache accompanied by quick-fire vomiting (not everyone sees this as much)
  6. Labored breathing that has a "fruity" smell to it.

All this child needed was some fluids and insulin and she would've had many more years to live her precious life (barring she had no other complications). Diabetes, though indeed incurable, is completely treatable. It's a very "livable" disease. I love the blog titled "Liveabetes" because you can live a rather "modified normal" life with it. When you see a child with diabetes who is receiving the proper care, you may wonder if something is indeed wrong with them because they look so healthy. That just speaks volumes to the wonderful job their caregivers are doing. You just have to be AWARE. Know your child, and if you have "a feeling" about something.......just have the doctor check it out. Better to check it out, than do nothing as these parents did!! Now, if these parents simply did not care if she could be treated or not is a different subject entirely, but I'm taking the approach that they did care, just were ignorant of the facts. Either indescribable tragedy!!

Jury Weighs Faith-Healing Death Case Against Girl's Dad - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News -

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

"It must be hard living on one income...part 3." Frugal shopping can be FUN!!!

I want to begin with a disclaimer: I am not the queen bee of super shopping. I do not have ALL the best ideas. There certainly are ladies out there in internet land who have way better systems and tips and experience than me. I'm simply going to share what I've found works best for me and my family. Hopefully, there will be one or two ideas that you might be able to pick out and try with your family. Maybe not. So, with all that being said, I want to share with you a little bit of the journey I've taken through the wild and woolly land of grocery shopping on a budget. Here are a few things I've learned along the way:

  • Always, always know your budget.
I have found it always works best for me to know up front what I have to work with. Then, I'm not planning meals for the week or month or whatever that will blow my budget and then I have to start all over. Know how much you have first.

  • Plan out your meals and snacks for the entire week or two weeks or month.

If you're in a menu slump, there are gazillions of websites out there that can give you some new recipe ideas. One thing I like to do is think through my week and see what is going on that week. I KNOW Sunday is crazy hard because of our church schedule, so I know I need something quick to prepare on that day. There are certain entrees my family would eat every day, so I know it would be a hit to have "Spaghetti Night with Dad" every Monday night because Daddy is home from work that night and he loves a hearty, tasty pasta dish too. So that takes care of Sunday and Monday. We have to eat fast on Wednesday evening too because of mid-week church services, so hotdogs work great for us that night. You can figure out what works best for your family in a similar manner. Write it down and keep that menu plan handy. I have found a GREAT website called the "Hillbilly Housewife." There are some terrific menus for a budget of $45 a week for a family of four. Go look around there and see if there are some ideas you could use too.

  • Find recipes that use lower cost ingredients. Learn to enjoy simple foods.
As I've mentioned before, we RARELY eat red meat. It's too expensive. I almost exclusively cook with ground turkey. I can get 93% lean ground turkey at Wal-Mart for $1.98/lb. That's
25 cents per person in my family when I make a recipe with just a pound of ground turkey. Anymore than that, and it's too much meat for us. We also use lots of peanut butter. My children love peanut butter and jelly, so I make that nearly every day for lunch. We also use lots of pasta. It's cheap and makes large quantities. You can mix all varieties of veggies in your sauces, and get those vitamins in that your children might normally squawk at. My children love oatmeal (remarkably!!) and it's relatively cheap to buy the big container of generic quick-oats. You can cook it up in the microwave in just 2 minutes and add your own sweeteners and fruits to it. Lots of fiber and nutrition that way too!! Cooking with dry beans and legumes is cheap too and has lots of nutrition, but unfortunately there is not a soul in my family who likes beans. Believe me, I've tried all different kinds and recipes and end up throwing it all away, so I don't do beans anymore. But YOU might have better luck.
  • Now, grab that menu plan and make your grocery list. Learn to STICK WITH THE LIST!!
Remember to include everything you might need for each recipe/entree, and include beverages, condiments, etc. Take the list, and then stick with the list!!

  • Check out the sale flyers for anything on your list that might be on sale, and use coupons!!
Before I had 6 children, I would find some really great deals at several different grocery stores and save some money stocking up with these deals. But now that my time schedule is different and I have less time to shop because of my husband's work schedule, I have to be more efficient and get more done in less time. So I don't shop at several different places anymore. But I can still use some of the systems I learned and save money. The first thing you need to do is start saving all the coupon inserts you can from the Sunday papers. There are several brand name inserts you need to know about: Valassis, Smartsource, Red Plum, and Proctor and Gamble. Save them all. Do not cut out anything. Write the date of the insert on the front. Find a box or space where you can stack or file them. Second, go to Coupon Mom, and click on "Deals by state." You'll need to register, but it's free, and soooo worth it!! Once you've registered, you can then find your state and the grocery store they have matched up the sales with all the available coupons in your coupon circulars!! Check out how you can click on the arrows at the top of the list and change how the deals show.......from highest percentage saved (free items) to lowest percentage saved. You can also arrange it so the items show up in alphabetical order. Then you can check in the box at the far left and print off ONLY the items you want to purchase. But especially what you want to notice is how they take the items on sale (from the sale paper for the week) and match up the coupon available for it. This is where the stack of coupon circulars come in. The coupons will be listed next to the item by the DATE it came out and by the NAME of the circular. For instance, under the heading "cpn. out" it might say 7/26 RP. That means you want to find the Red Plum (RP) circular that came out on July 26 (7/26). You then can easily find that coupon for that item listed because you have it filed or stacked by date, and you know what kind of coupon you're looking for. Now, just think if you bought the double issue for the weekend and have two or more of the same circulars? More coupons, more savings!!!! Some stores have these great sales where you buy 10 items and get $5.00 off the purchase, thus making each item a terrific low price. Add a coupon to those items and get them for just pennies. What if your store isn't on the "Coupon Mom" list? Then check out the "Pinching Your Pennies" website. Here you will find an alphabetical listing of EVERY coupon available in all the circulars. You should never have to shop without a coupon AGAIN!! Remember though, you have to be saving your circulars or these websites will do you no good.
I would determine my budget, check the sale flyers, check coupon mom for any coupons I could use with the sales, and then shop. It usually meant I would hit two or three stops before my shopping was done.
I know some people suggest looking at the flyers first and making your grocery list based on what was on sale. But even then I sometimes found I couldn't afford the red meat or other items that were on sale. My husband changed jobs also, which changed the times I could shop as he was the primary babysitter. That's another thing. It's nearly IMPOSSIBLE to shop with coupons and sale flyers AND toddlers or babies in tow!! I try NEVER to shop with anymore than 3 children at a time if possible. I work my shopping schedule around my husband's schedule so he can babysit; we don't have a lot of options for childcare. That's just what works for me.
And now that we do have a larger family and less time to shop, I've even left some of that coupon shopping behind. I've discovered that it does truly save us more money to buy in bigger quantities at the warehouse store (Costco for us) and to use price comparisons at Wal-Mart. Did you know that if you see a terrific deal at your local grocery store, you can take that flyer to Wal-Mart and they will match that price for that item?? So if I see Kroger has bananas on sale for $.33/lb, I can take my Kroger flyer to Wal-Mart and get that price on Wal-Mart bananas. I save lots of running around that way. Now I have found that I'm not always crazy about Wal-Mart's produce, but if it's decent I'll take it!!!
So, now at this stage of childrearing, I shop on Fridays to beat the Saturday crowds. I take three of my children to our local bread outlet store and Costco in the morning. We head home at lunchtime, where the two oldest children have been working on schoolwork or chores or playing with the youngest while daddy was home. Then in the afternoon, I head back out to Wal-Mart.
I have my lists in hand, and am able to get all my shopping for the week done in those two trips.
When you have to keep running out for one or two things, you inevitably end up picking up more things you think you need and end up spending more money that way.
Again, there are certainly better ways to save money and shop smarter than I do. I don't have the luxury of a deep freezer right now, or I would find ways to stock up on the items we use most when they are on sale. We never eat red meat because of it's cost, but I know people who buy meat by the side or the case because it's cheaper that way. Some day when I have more storage space, I will start learning how to shop once a MONTH!! Once a MONTH??? I can't even imagine that. How's that for simplifying your life??

  • Plant a garden and learn to grow your own produce.
Now here I'm being a bit hypocritical because I don't do this. I grew up in the farmlands of Northwest Ohio where having an acre garden was typical. But I don't live on farmland anymore, nor do I live where the temperatures and land are very conducive to good growing. I also remember VIVIDLY how time consuming such a large garden was, and with toddlers and babies, I just don't have that kind of time right now. Maybe later, when I'm in the bigger house with the deep freezer and large storage room. And please don't talk to me about potted tomatoes on my patio. I HATE tomatoes. I have given an honest effort in my 39 years to TRY to like tomatoes, but I just can't hardly gag them down. The snot-like insides with the seeds are just too much for me. Now, I do like a good tomato product such as spaghetti sauce or pizza, but not whole tomatoes.....sorry. And, no, I'm not allergic to them.....already been tested for that along with it's cousin the ragweed to which I AM highly allergic.

In my final installment to this series (and YES, there's more if you can believe it!!), I want to talk about stocking up on things so you can GIVE more. This is an area of living on one income that I think is highly overlooked, but vitally important. I believe that the Bible commands us to be givers. But how to you give to the needs of others when you can barely scrape by yourself? I've learned a couple other things along the way that I'd like to share......but that's for next time. See you then!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Funny Homeschooling Video!!

This video circulated around a little while back, but it's really fun to re-visit now and then!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"You can't wear THAT!"

Living in Texas where we often see temperatures over 100' in the summertime, I'm keenly aware of the temptation to strip down to the "bare" minimum to keep cool!! I don't know if it's because I grew up in Northwest Ohio where I don't EVER remember seeing triple digits, but I can absolutely feel the difference between 99 and 100'. I don't know what it is, but there is just a more oppresive feel when it hits the century mark. The A/C in the van doesn't feel cool enough, the house is hotter, even the milk from the frig feels slightly warmer to me. I sweat so profusely anyway, so having anything on my neck is almost overwhelming as it causes the sweat to start dripping down my back. With that being said, I can understand why it's difficult for some women to dress modestly in the summertime. With four young girls to raise, I'm passionate that my daughters understand the "whys" behind why our family dresses the way we do. But I don't want them to wear certain articles of clothing and reject others simply because "Mom says so". Over a year ago, I ran across a really thought-provoking article on this particular subject and thought that the "dog days of summer" would be a great time to share it. I've included below my favorite quote from this article which you can read in its entirety here at Sharper Iron.

"In spite of the challenges outlined in this article, a more important and poignant message is that the path of modesty is paved with the glorious Gospel of Christ. As the truth of His grace fills the heart of a Christian woman, she will develop a mind of sobriety that will find her setting “her affection on things above” (Col. 3:2). The more she is consumed with the fact that her nakedness has been covered with robes of righteousness, the more she will desire to physically clothe herself in a manner that will richly—and not skimpily—demonstrate that covering. As she grows in grace, she will begin to more fully understand that, as a redeemed child of God, her clothing represents more than a physical covering. She will develop a shamefaced attitude that comes from a heart that remains keenly aware that the shame of her sin was covered by the precious blood of her beloved Savior, a covering she was unable to procure for herself. A yearning to “conceal, not reveal” will grow within her heart as she gains deeper understanding of that marriage, a beautiful picture of the Gospel that has covered her sin, offering the one venue where her nakedness can be shamelessly exposed. This truth will drive her to joyfully preserve herself for a holy union she will cherish whether she is married or not."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

"It must be hard living on one income." Part 2: the practical ideas

Our society today certainly doesn't encourage families to live within our means, much less only the income of our husbands. Instead, it is the accepted practice of Americans to send both parents into the workforce. Parents do not ever see in the media how to make things work happily on one salary, but instead are taught to expect that both parents will have to work and that if that's not enough, to just charge the rest on credit cards. I recently heard an incredibly thought-provoking statement on the radio recently. The gentleman was commenting about the present state of our economy and he said this, "Is it really that the state of our economy has affected our families, or is it that the state of our families has affected our economy?" The majority of people in our country live on credit....they expect it...they don't know how to live without it.....they know they can't pay for it.....yet, they slide the card again, and continue the slippery slope into debt. Now that things have really turned upside down with our country's economy, families are struggling like I've never seen before. I'm so thankful that my husband and I made the choices we did ahead of time, and followed the guidelines in the Bible, to protect us from much of the stress and fear that families are living with today. We don't use credit cards (anymore....which is another story for another time), and are working to get to the point where we can pay cash for everything we need. We did not do that at the beginning of our marriage, and have had to face severe consequences for our mistakes. We often wondered, "How do you do that? " I would like to just share with you a few practical things we have done in our journey towards "financial freedom". We certainly have not arrived and do indeed still carry a mortgage as well as some medical bills, but for most everything else, we have learned the freedom that comes from paying cash and making do. I also want to say that I am not an expert in the area of financial management, but do want to offer hope to those who have gotten into some financial struggles that it can get better if you purpose to learn how to do better. These are simply some of the things we have learned to make that happen:
  • For one thing, we started our marriage that way.
I knew that I was going to eventually stay home to raise our children, and we didn't want to get used to paying our bills with two incomes. So we STARTED OUT with the mentality that we had to survive on just what my husband provided. I did, in fact, work for 9 months after we got married, but we used that little paycheck to purchase (invest in actually) my maternity wardrobe as I became pregnant with our first child during that time. We didn't get used to using that money for food, gas, bills, etc. so when it went away, it wasn't a big deal. I actually wished we had started saving that money, but we were not really great money managers at that point. Anyway, my point with all this is that you need to have that thought: that one person is earning the income you live on and if the other person brings in some cash flow, that money should not be used for actual living expenses.
  • We don't have a lot of "fluff" going on here.
When you purpose to live on only one income, you learn to be CONTENT with what you have or what is available to you. Honestly, there is no money "in the bottom line" left over for new clothes, major home repairs, new car upgrades, or vacations. No pedicures, manicures, or massages here. No dry cleaning, salons, or tanning for us. I honestly cannot remember the last time we stepped foot in a mall. We RARELY eat out, and almost never with all the children, don't run to the doctor for every new sniffle and cough, and use hand-me-downs happily and extravagantly! When we added our 6th baby, we had to WAIT for several months before we found a used, 12-passenger van that we paid cash for so we wouldn't have a monthly car payment. We made the overcrowded 7-passenger minivan work for us, though through much prayer and affliction as the "slap-a-thons" would begin from the back seat. My husband drives our 1993, 2-door, Honda Accord that he purchased when we first married to and from work (which is thankfully only a 5-minute commute) with it's cracked windshield, dead A/C, broken off antennae, overheating engine, and dents. It isn't pretty, but it gets him there, and I'm so thankful it is paid off, and I don't have to drive him to and from work with his overnight shift times.
One idea that has been a terrific value for us arrives around Christmas time. Often our parents will ask for ideas for the children for Christmas. One year I remembered that our local zoo offers memberships that once paid for allow you unlimited visits for your family for free. So I now ask for these type of memberships, and we have field trips and fun birthday outings and plain 'ol boredom buster trips at NO COST. Plus, our zoo memebership includes getting into other local attractions at no cost too. So one day we may go to the zoo and another day the aquarium. Check around your area and see if the museums, zoos, amusement parks offer family memberships and suggest those as great family gift ideas!!

I often dream of being able to travel with my children throughout the United States to see all the places we teach them about. What better way to learn about our government than to see Washington D.C, and learn the history of our country, and actually see the places where everything happened? I want them to see the oceans, and mountains, and taste the variety of food that is in all the culturally rich areas of America. I want them to experience Fall in New England, Summer in the MidWest, Spring in other places in the south, and Winter in the north. I want to take them to Philadelphia, PA to meet their 93 year old Great-Grandmother whom they've never met, and to see where the Constitution of the United States was signed! But we just can't do that. So do I become bitter and resentful, and unbearable to live with? Absolutely not. We practice being thankful for what we DO have, and living contentedly in the place the Lord has put us. We, lucky for us, live in an area where there is SO much to do and see, and if you're really savvy, can find TONS to do for FREE!!! I'm hearing a lot about "STAYCATIONS" instead of spending huge amounts of money on travel, and that is exactly how we spend our summers!! We enjoy the great things available to us near HOME!!
  • We pray daily for the Lord to meet our needs.
In the most well known prayer in scripture, The Lord's Prayer, Jesus gives us an example of how to pray. In it He models: "Our Father who art in Heaven.......Give us THIS DAY our daily bread." Matthew 6:11
Jesus clearly taught us that we need to throw our complete dependence on our Heavenly Father for our most basic needs, every DAY. He doesn't want us to worry about our needs for tomorrow, but wants us to ask Him for what we need for THAT DAY. In fact, in the last verse of the same chapter where we find Jesus' model prayer He says,

"Do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34 (NASB)

We prayed for several months with our children about our need for a van. And when we bought the van, we praised the Lord with our children for it. What better way for your children to see that God loves us, hears our prayers, and meets our true needs? I believe that when you run out and buy something that you need brand new, you often rob yourself of the opportunity to teach your children how God provides your needs. The Bible says,
"Do not be anxious then, saying, 'What shall we eat? or 'What shall we drink?' or 'With what shall we clothe ourselves?.......for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things."
Matthew 6: 31,32 (NASB)
The best part of that being that it's most often in ways you'd never imagine, so that it's clear to your children that it could have ONLY been the Lord doing that.

  • We learned the necessity of getting out of, and staying out of, debt!
"The borrower is servant to the lender." Proverbs 22:7 (KJV)

In retrospect, I wish we had learned how to stay out of debt, and been disciplined to live that way when we first got married. If you happen to be struggling with this, I highly, HIGHLY recommend Dave Ramsey's book, The Total Money Makeover. It gives you a map, step-by-step guidelines, on how to get out of debt, and then how to stay out of debt. It's pictured on my bookshelf in the right-hand sidebar. I also recommend a program that I read about on the Crown Financial Ministries webpage called Mvelopes. It's truly amazing and helps you create your own budget and stick to it. My husband is all techy and stuff, and LOVED how you could watch your savings "envelope" grow right before your eyes!
When you find yourself in debt, you quickly realize how that debt becomes the all-consuming drive in your life. You get the bills month after month, and have to keep paying more and more money, and pretty soon it's like you're hand-cuffed. You don't have the freedom to use your money the way you'd like to because you have these debts to pay. Now I'm referring to the debt you yourself incurred such as credit card or consumer debt. I'm not referring to large amounts of debt incurred with a sudden illness. We've learned through some of Dave Ramsey's ideas how to work on building up an "emergency fund" for such cases and we are working on getting to such a point. But I'm referring to the bondage brought on by yourself because of just plain 'ol greed or mismanagement of what you have. We have been there too, and remember how desperate you can feel to get out of that position. Imagine if the people of our society today operated on a cash-only basis as they did many, many years ago!! There wouldn't be this mindset that we need big mama and papa government to "bail" us out and provide for what we need. That's not the purpose of government ANYWAY! What if everyone had a mindset of personal responsibility again, and set aside greed, or an unwillingness to work (dare I use the correct word here....laziness), or materialism (this insatiable hunger to have everything new under the sun),
and learned the joy of GIVING to others and providing for family members young and old, and working for your needs. Imagine people purposing NOT to live outside their means. Imagine how THAT would impact our economy. Our generation is staring in the face the consequences of living in and depending on debt.

  • We've learned the commandment to tithe is for OUR benefit, not the Lord's.
"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the Lord of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows." Malachi 3:10 (NASB)

God doesn't need our money. He owns all things according to the Bible. The tithe is simply a reminder to us of our dependence on Him. It's simply a discipline that when cultivated into our lives teaches us that all we have physically, materially, and spiritually was given to us by Him anyway and we're simply giving back what He loaned us in the first place. It demonstrates a gratefulness to God. But the Bible also makes it clear, that when we acknowledge His command to tithe He will bless us. He will continue to meet our needs, and He sees our obedience. We can't outgive the Lord.

"Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it may not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes," says the Lord of hosts.
Malachi 3:11 (NASB)

And, on the other hand, we know that since the Lord "requires" this, He will get that money back somehow. Sometimes we are "disciplined" in a financial way when we don't give our tithe back. We've even experienced that in our own lives.

"Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, 'How have we robbed Thee?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!" Malachi 3:8,9 (NASB)

Tithing is not a means for growing your prosperity, but when we stay current with the Lord, He blesses, He takes care of us, He honors our obedience, He supplies the needs.

"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Phillippians 4:19
  • We've learned that buying used and shopping frugally is the only way to go!!
In another post I'm going to address some really fun ways to use coupons, and how to shop for groceries on "a budget." It will take me a bit of time to list out a couple different systems I've tried and found really helpful, and to talk about using coupons and what really is practical for the larger family. Again, I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I have stumbled onto a few ideas that have worked for us, and thought I'd share those.
But when it comes to buying used, we've found that is the BEST way to be a good steward of your money. Buying a new car is practically like throwing your money away. Now if you have money to burn......then go for it!! But most of us aren't really in that position, and if you've done any research on buying cars, then you'll remember that the minute you drive that new car off the lot, it depreciates in value by 20%!!!! The last two vehicles we purchased we found either on a local auction at ebay or on Craigslist. We found what we needed locally and saved THOUSANDS of dollars. We have a good mechanic in town to help us fix what we can't when necessary, and we try to take care of what the Lord provided for us.
When it comes to clothing, I've found children's consignment stores so hard to beat!! My favorites are Kid-to-Kid, and Once Upon a Child. You can find brand name clothes in nearly mint condition for pennies on the dollar!! I NEVER, ever pay full price for children's clothing, and can't justify doing so when they grow out of things so quickly!!

Have I told you about the joys of a good garage sale??? Garage sales are fantastic places for finding anything and everything!! I have found maternity clothes, living room furniture, lawn equipment, children's clothes, shoes, toys, DVD's, home decor, and kitchen gadgets at some better garage sales. Sometimes you find some great things, other times you don't. If you check on Craigslist before the weekend, you can make a list of the sales in your area that look like they might have something you need.

As I mentioned before, we LOVE hand-me-downs. I have saved nearly every article of decent clothing from my children to use for the next child. If I'm missing some necessary item, it usually shows up in a bag of goodies from someone's closet at our church or neighborhood. I'm particular about the quality and style of clothes our children wear (not snobby or picky, but I'm teaching them about dressing appropriately for the occasion and MODESTY) , but they have ALWAYS had tons of stuff every season!! We thank the Lord for that.
I also try to take care of the baby equipment we have and use it for the next baby. Our baby crib has had to have a few minor repairs down the line, but it's 11 years old, and still as pretty as when we bought it. We started with girls, then added a boy, and I didn't run out and buy a brand-new "boy" crib. I asked for boy bedding for our baby shower and we just resourcefully made it look like a boy!! No need to spend more money, when a little thoughtfulness and creativity will do.

At some point in time, I'm sure I will re-visit one or more of these different strategies to living on one income, and go into more detail. I hope some of these ideas will be helpful to you wherever you are on your financial journey, and encourage you that even if you stumble and make mistakes (as we have) that you CAN get up, brush off, start over, and do better!! Our Lord is in the business of restoration.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday's Super Mom

I first learned about today's "Super mom" from the TLC program called "Kids by the dozen".
Her family has a really interesting web site that is fun to peruse around. I've found a lot of great ideas from them even though my family is less than half the size of theirs!! Read about the Jeub family here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday's Fabulous Family Recipe

I had never even tasted Taco Soup until I moved to Texas 9 years ago, and the first time I tasted it I wondered how I had missed this wonderful dish!!! Up in Ohio we ate things like chicken, and meatloaf, and casseroles, pizza, and veggies, and desserts......oh, the desserts!!! There weren't a lot of Mexican inspired restaurants where I grew up, and that isn't the ethnic food of choice either. Now I don't consider Taco Soup a truly Mexican/Hispanic Dish, but it definitely has that flavor to it. It's really wonderful, makes a lot, and my husband loves this stuff. On the downside, my children are not crazy about it. I think it's the beans; my children are not bean lovers. Or maybe it's all the textures. But I would think with the cheese and fritoes covering it, they would gobble it up. Too bad for them. More for me!! Yum!

Taco Soup

2 (15 oz.) cans sweet corn, undrained
2 (14.25 oz.) cans of diced tomatoes, undrained
2 (15 oz.) cans "Ranch" style beans, undrained
1 lb. ground turkey
1 package taco seas

Shredded cheese

You can put this soup together either in a pan on the sto
ve for a quick, throw-together meal, or you can slow simmer it in the crock-pot. I put mine on high at lunchtime and it was steaming hot and delicious by dinnertime.

Brown your ground turkey. Just dump all the cans of vegetables together in the crock-pot, add the browned meat, and stir in the taco seasoning. Let it warm through.

Serve with cheese and fritoes. It can't possibly be any easier.

It's really tasty, and relatively low in carbohydrates, which would be really great for my diabetic. Too bad she won't eat it. Sigh. I think YOU will love it though!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"It must be hard living on one income....I don't know how you do it!"

It always mildly surprises me when I get this comment. I'm not sure why. I guess that I don't feel we live an impoverished or mediocre lifestyle, so then it makes me wonder if I'm missing something. Looking around, we definitely live differently than the majority of our society, but I don't believe that we go without having the basic necessities of life either.I'd like to share a few thoughts on how we live on only the income of my husband, and how that has brought joy and peace to our home.

As I put my thoughts together on this, I'm going to share both the heart process as well as the practical process to making this concept work in a home. Hence, it will take me several posts to do all this. I hope you'll stick with me for a couple days. And please, be patient with all the font changes in this post.....I can't figure out what's going with that.

  • First of all, I truly believe that to live WELL on one income, you might need a change of heart and mind.

I've learned over the process of time to start asking what is truly of value to my home and to what God has for my life. In our home, we look at EVERYTHING through a Biblical worldview. Meaning....what does the Bible, God's Word, our foundation for everything we do, say about the issue? What is the purpose of possessions? What does God and His Word say to us about accumulating things? What does the Lord see as most valuable for our lives? Do I want what God wants for me and my family? Through the years, I've memorized lots of Scripture verses which speak to this subject, and have found great wisdom and truth.

"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am,
therewith to be content." Philippians 4:11 (KJV)

I need to learn how to be CONTENT. Contentment is being satisfied with what you have, not wanting any more, a kind of resignation.

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content."
1 Timothy 6:6-8 (KJV)

The Lord seems to indicate here, that we can indeed live a satisfied life with very little in the way of possessions. In fact, the previous verse from 1 Timothy seems to say that having just the basic necessities of food and clothing should be enough. Isn't that a far cry from our society's mindset? Don't get me wrong now, I'm not about to deprive my children of education, proper health care, shelter, and socialization because that verse mentions ONLY food and raiment. But I believe the principle here is that it is better to be content with what you have now and not to follow this wild drive to get stuff that is only temporary anyway. So, is it wrong to like nice things and to want some "toys"?
Follow me now......don't loose me.

"Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded,
nor trust in uncertain riches,
but in the living God,

I always ask myself, "Do I really NEED that? REALLY?" Can I justify buying that when I compare that to the insulin that I NEED to buy for my daughter every month? If not, I remember the previous verse which implies that I already HAVE what I need to make me happy. It's a choice I make. I can choose to enjoy what God has already given me, or I can trust in things that won't last to bring me true satisfaction.

"In every thing give thanks: for this is THE WILL OF GOD in Christ Jesus
concerning you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

This verse even tells us what God's will is for our lives. God's will is that we are THANKFUL! In every situation we are to give God thanks. That's hard to do when you barely have enough to buy groceries until the next paycheck. That's really hard to do when you don't know how you're going to make next month's mortgage payment. But I've learned it's a discipline that we must allow to work in our learn to be thankful in both the good times and the bad. Are you thankful for what you have already? Have you thanked God today for all the blessings in your life??

"Giving thanks always for ALL things unto God and the Father
in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."
Ephesians 5:20

"Blessed be the Lord, who daily LOADETH us with benefits, even the
God of our salvation."
Psalm 68:19

  • Second, we rely on the Lord to meet the needs we have that we ourselves are not able to meet.

"Be anxious for nothing,
but in every thing by prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING (there it is again...) let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard
your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6 (NASB)

"But my God shall supply ALL your need according to His riches
in glory by Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19 (KJV)

God has assured us in His Word, the Bible, that He WILL meet all of our needs. Not our "greed", but our need. Always when we think we need it?? We NEEDED a new van in January of 2008 after baby #6 arrived, but our van didn't arrive for another several months. But we don't owe anything on it now either. Is it a top of the line, fully loaded 2008 model with video screens in every leather seat? Not at all. But it's safe and meets the need we have to travel with 6 children and their friends, and haul lots of groceries. Plus, the A/C is icy cold which we believe is a NEED in Texas!! Praise the Lord!!

"I have been young, and now I am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, or his descendants begging bread.
Psalm 37:25, 26 (NASB)

  • Third, I'm always on guard to fight off the temptation to compare what I have to what others have and desiring what others have.

"...but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are NOT WISE." 2 Corinthians 10:12 (KJV)

God has a special plan for each and every person's life. I don't always know what God is trying to do in my life at the moment, nor do I know what work He is doing in anyone else's life. It is not for me to compare myself to another person because God is working differently in and through that person than He is in my life. God gives me things that I need for that time in my life as He gives other people things for reasons I may not understand. It's not WISE to compare our lives and possessions and accomplishments to other people's. We should compare our life to Jesus Christ. That's where our standard should be.

Please check back soon, as I will be further discussing this idea of living well on one income by sharing some practical ways our family manages this!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

2nd ever endocrinologist visit!!!

I am so excited because today was the 2nd time we had a check-up with our endocrinologist, and we had really great news. Here is a recap:

  • Ashlyn's A1C level was 7.7 today!!!!! That's down from 10.2 at her visit in March, which was down from 12.8 at diagnosis. The A1C level is a very important blood test which measures the amount of sugar in her blood system over the last 3 months. Normal ranges are around 6%, and our target range for good sugar control is anywhere from 7-8%. You can read more about the A1C here, and learn why it's such an important number to the diabetic.
  • We've been wanting to transition over to using ratios in determining how much insulin Ashlyn receives at her meals, but we still had so many questions about this process. We still have a set amount of carbs per meal and a set amount of insulin to give to cover those carbs. With ratios Ashlyn can have a tiny bit more freedom in that she can decide how much she wants to eat (with moderation of course), and because we know how to figure out the amount of insulin she would need to cover that ourselves, we can adjust the amount we give her without counseling from our Diabetic Educator. That way if we eat out, or go to a party, we don't have to limit how much she can have because we know how it's figured ourselves and can adjust higher or lower doses if necessary. It's confusing....I KNOW!! So we're going to start experimenting with that in the next day or so.
  • We also received some education on using the insulin pen today, and after our prescriptions go through for all that, we're good to go!! I'm excited about the pen because it seems a little less cumbersome than having to tote along syringes AND vials of insulin, when it all comes together in one easy package!! We feel like we're advancing somewhat.
  • I was surprised to learn that Ashlyn has LOST 8 pounds since her visit in March. We're going to watch that, but chalk it up to her being so sick and unable to eat 2 weeks ago, and then being at church camp all last week where she was running around and swimming a lot.
Overall, the visit was really encouraging and we came away excited and feeling like we're doing a pretty good job keeping her on track and learning to manage everything okay.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday's Super Mom

I'm not sure if you have ever watched this family on TLC, but I really admire what they do and find the mom truly an inspiration!! Now, do not even let the idea slip into your mind that I might be thinking this is the life that I aspire to have.....let me assure you it is NOT. I do not feel the Lord has that for MY life. But I appreciate their family values and all the interesting things they do to make such a large family run smoothly. Read about the Duggar Family here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Prosthetic Pancreas Poses Promise

I saw this on ABC's World News Tonight this evening and thought I would share it with you. It looks really interesting to me, but not without it's own set of challenges. I would love to hear your thoughts on it....

Prosthetic Pancreas Poses Promise

Shared via AddThis

Monday, July 6, 2009

Preserving memories in a snap...

One thing so important to me is being able to preserve the pictures and memories we are making while the children are growing up.
I've found it almost impossible though, to do any kind of scrapbooking
with several young children climbing on the table or touching
everything while I'm working on a project. We live in a small house and the only
place I have for creative projects is on the dining room table.
After about our 3rd or 4th baby, I found it difficult too, to find the time
and money to print out pictures and even put them together in an album, much less keep the baby books updated!!!
So, I want to share with you the MOST wonderful tool I've found to help me preserve my picture memories for FREE!!!
Have you discovered the joys of this program?? It is AWESOME!! It's so simple, takes me maybe 10 minutes to put together, and "WAAALAAA!"'s done. You can post it to your blog, facebook/myspace, or email it. You can make invitations, scrapbook pages, cards, recipe pages and more. Preserve your baby pictures, wedding pictures, holiday pictures, special occasion pictures, or anything and then PRINT them OUT and tuck them into an album!! It does cost a little money to print them, but in comparison to printing out pictures individually and then buying all the embelllishments for a scrapbook page, it saves you a ton of money. Plus, it saves a TON of time. All my baby books are caught up now. You can try a FREE 14-day trial and see ALL the great benefits of the one-year membership. While you're on the trial, get your baby books caught up. You can print as many as you want for FREE.
You've just got to see how easy it is, and how creative it allows you to be.
I LOVE it and won't use anything else!!! Don't invite me to those expensive scrapbooking money.

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: 4th of July 2009
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox scrapbook

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Have a Wonderful Independence Day!!!

Obviously my name is not Kimberly.....but I know you'll enjoy this anyway!!

Have a terrific day celebrating the freedoms that we still have.....we may not have them for much longer. Thank you to all those precious men and women who are away from their families today,
fighting for peace and freedom to remain here in our country! May God STILL bless America!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday's Fabulous Family Recipe

Do you know what it means when these 4 items are out on
my counter?


For those of you who've never tried this (and I can't imagine there being
more than a handful that HAVEN'T actually had this in their lifetime), it is
a taste SENSATION!!

We love this in our is truly a family favorite
and doesn't last long.

Chocolate Eclair Cake

1 large box of INSTANT chocolate pudding (6 serving size)
3c. cold milk
8 oz. container whipped topping, thawed
1 entire box of graham crackers

1 container (16.5 oz) chocolate fudge frosting

Prepare the pudding according to package with the 3 cups of milk. When pudding is set,
fold in whipped topping.
Line the bottom of a 9" by 13" pan with whole graham crackers until
bottom is covered.
Spread these with 1/2 of pudding mixture, and top with another layer of graham crackers.
Spread remaining pudding mixture on top.

Add final layer of graham crackers, covering all the pudding. Gently spread frosting on
top layer of graham crackers. I always end of using an entire box of graham crackers,
and the entire container of frosting.

Must chill for 12-24 hours!! FABULOUS!!!
***You can also try this recipe with other flavors of pudding and frosting.
We loved the lemon pudding/lemon frosting combination just as well!!

My Favorite Sounds

This is just one of my favorite sounds of all time!! It just brings shivers down my back!!
What mommy wouldn't love this???
(And as a disclaimer...yes, I know the picture isn't the greatest quality, but it's the voice I want you to hear.)