Thursday, January 31, 2013

Day 29: Gardening Chat

Justin and I would like to start a vegetable garden as part of our goal to be self-sufficient.  Neither of us have ever done this, so we are tapping into some of our resources.  I have a friend who grew up Amish and knows everything about gardening, and Justin works with a lady who loves to plant things.

Today, in addition to catching up with my friend, I asked lots of questions about gardening.  How to start one? Where to put it? What to plant? When to start?

The recommended time to plant is after the ground is no longer frozen (end of April/beginning of May). 

Unfortunately, we have a sticker-full yard...I think they are actually called sand burs. Therefore, we will need to get rid of those before we set up our gardening area.
Thankfully, April/May is after Justin is done with tax season (he is an accountant) and he should be done with school by then as well!  He has got quite a task in front of him!

I would love to hear any advice you may have on gardening.  As I said before, we are NOVICES.  Clueless ones at that!  Please share any useful tools, information, reading, etc!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Day 28: Cleaning out our vehicle

Every family with kids has a messy car at some point.  Ours gets messy daily.  I allow Jane to have a drink in the car – I usually limit it to water, otherwise we could end up with a nasty milk situation – therefore, those cups end up on the floor immediately after she is finished with them.  We eat out and our trash ends up on the floor.  I do my makeup in the car and my used-mascara-ridden-q-tips end up on the floor.  Mail is occasionally opened in the car, and you guessed it, the junk mail ends up on the floor of our van.

All that to say, our van gets messy quickly.  A smart way to combat this would be to carry a trash item in with each return to home.  Well, let me tell you, my hands are a bit preoccupied.  Between carrying Jack (2 months), trying to hold a disobedient tiny Jane (16 months) hand and carrying in the (sometimes) two diaper bags, there is no room for trash in these two hands of mine. 

It makes me crazy to see stuff all over the van. 

My new goal is to clean our van once per week.  I don’t have a set time or day, it is more on an as-needed basis. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Day 27: Research Day

Part of our year of less is focused on researching and supporting ethical companies.  To us, ethical = natural products and Christian companies or people making those products.  I talked about my friend Jenny’s Products ( and how we were going to try CalBen Shampoo.  We have kind of decided against the shampoo, strictly based on price. 

I googled, “natural shampoo Christian,” to start my search for a company and product that we want to support.  The one that I came across that sounds spot on with what we are looking for is Apple Valley.  They are a family company, owned and operated by Christians.  They offer “shampoo bars” along with many other products.  I really wanted to try this shampoo bar, but unfortunately it does not work with hard water…which we have!  They suggest using a filtered shower head, but that equals a higher cost.  Once more, we are not sure what to replace our “chemical cocktail” shampoo with…

Any ideas friends?
I also went to a local store called "Back to Nature" to look at their shampoo options. As I read on the backs of the bottles, they seemed to have just as many ingredients as the ones I already buy, and I know nothing about all the companies - not to mention, the cost was much more than what I am looking to spend. We need help!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Day 26: Kid's Drawer

Along with that shelf in the hallway closet, the rest of the hall closet, and every single drawer in our house, the second drawer down in our hallway tends to get messy.  I call it the Jane/Jack drawer.  It contains their bath wash and lotion (of which we have not ever had to buy), towels and random baby stuff. 

Here is the disaster area:


And here is the organized drawer:


I threw away some stuff, but mostly just folded the towels and set stuff up nicely.  And there were even items that just didn’t belong in there.

My next task is consolidating towels…that will be in a while.  I haven’t decided how many towels I think is a good number for our family.  The year of less blog decided they only needed one towel per family member.  I am thinking about this one.  I’ll get back with you.  I think mostly I don’t want to do laundry that often, but I also feel bad getting rid of towels that people just bought us for the kiddos.  Maybe two towels per baby is okay?  Again, I will get back with you when we decide!


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Day 25: Project #2

I have been planning this one for awhile. 

I needed a place to hang my necklaces in an orderly fashion, so one day I began perusing pinterest for some crafty ideas.  I found a few little ways to hang hooks from wood that looked relatively cheap and cute.  Then I had an epiphany when I was sitting on the toilet one day! (TMI...perhaps.)
We have this pretty painting in our bathroom that is canvas and pretty deep.  There was plenty of room to add some hooks on the inside of it!  So, I told my handy-man husband my idea.  We would grab some little hooks to put on the inside of it and then hinges to attach it to the wall for easy access.

He bought the hooks one day, but bless his poor soul, he is TOO BUSY to do anything handy-manish these days.  So, I decided I could probably do half of it.
Here it is!
Here's the painting

The inside of the back

...with hooks!

and now furnished with necklaces :)

Look how great it looks on the wall! You would NEVER know there were necklaces there!  If I ever have any valuable jewelry, that is where it will be protect it from burglars ;)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Day 24: Hallway Shelf #1

Our hallway, like our dining room, has built in shelves/closets/drawers.  It is so nice to have these areas to store things like towels and beauty products!  The problem is, we have an abundance of all of those things...

Instead of a nice orderly space of storage, it has become a conglomeration of stuff strewn about.

Our bottom shelf is the worst.  It contains our everyday use things like deoderant, shaving cream and hair gel, along with a thermometer and some tylenol and things of that sort.  I spend about thirty minutes each week straightening it up and re-setting-up tipped over bottles and cups.  Then, as the week goes on we just start throwing things in there after each use and it becomes a shelf of junk.  There is nothing orderly about it.

So, I decided it was time for a change.  I would only allow things on this shelf that we use frequently and they are only allowed if it still looks relatively simple and clean.

Here are the results:

This is a photo of the rest of the closet - to be worked on very soon:
As you can see there are mainly towels and toilet paper.
There are also random table linens and sheets tucked away in there. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Day 23: Matthew 7

Click the picture for link to the song "Words to Build a Life On" by Mike Crawford and His Secret Siblings

Once more – my interpretation of the verses in Matthew chapter 7, and some of my thoughts along the way J

v. 1-6

Don’t judge others, but when you do judge you will be judged as you judge others.  “Sweep off your own porch before you go out sweeping others” – take care of the junk in your own life before you go worrying about the junk in someone else’s life.  Don’t be hypocritical.

I remember a time when I was really struggling with gossip and judging others.  I found that the more I talked about other people, the more I either heard or suspected of others speaking poorly of me.  I know this is referencing the judgment of God and not of others, but it really struck me hard at that time. 
I also find that if I ever try to place judgment on someone else’s life or relationships, etc., God is quick to show me some things that need work in my own life. 

Keep what is sacred, sacred. 

When I was in high-school youth group, our small group of girls did a purity study through the book, “And the Bride wore white.”  I distinctly remember this verse about throwing your pearls to pigs – the book talked about how your bodies belong to the Lord and how you are to keep them pure and holy, not giving into any lustful temptations before the day you are united with your husband.  (At least that is how I am remembering it.)

v. 7-12

Live by the golden rule: Do unto others what you would have them do to you.  Your Father will take care of you, ask, seek and knock; you will be given what you ask, find what you are seeking and the door in which you knock will be opened (perhaps, not in exactly the way you think it should be).

The golden rule seems pretty simple, yet it is a constant struggle.  These verses are a good reminder to be always very thoughtful of and graceful with people, because that is what I desire them to do to me.  I love how simple the following verses are as well.  Ask and you will receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened.  I think this is a good reminder that God desires human action.

v. 13-23

Narrow is the gate that leads to eternity, but wide is the gate that leads to destruction – enter through the narrow gate, you few who will find it.

Watch out for false teachers, you can tell they are false by the way they bear bad fruit. 

True vs. false disciples – Not everyone who talks to the Lord will enter into heaven – but those who do God’s will, will enter.  Many will do many things in the Lord’s name, but have never known Him personally; they will be rejected just as they have rejected our Savior.

I’m reading Radical by David Platt right now and the chapter I just finished talked a lot about how we, as Americans, have glamorized the gospel and made it so comfortable and easy.  In response to verses 22 and 23, Platt reminds us that Jesus was speaking to religious people, not pagans or atheists, who were convinced they were on the narrow path but were instead on the road to hell.  Jesus speaks of a time when people, lots of people, will be shocked to find out they never even knew God.  “[T]he gospel demands and enables us to turn from our sin, to take up our cross, to die to ourselves, and to follow Jesus,” NOT to make a “one-time decision, maybe even mere intellectual assent to Jesus, but after that we need not worry about his commands, his standards, or his glory.”  “We are saved from our sins by a free gift of grace, something that only God can do in us and that we cannot manufacture ourselves.  But that gift of grace involves the gift of a new heart.  New desires.  New longings.  For the first time, we want God.  We see our need for him, and we love him.  We seek after him, and we find him, and we discover that he is indeed the great reward of our salvation.   We realize that we are saved not just to be forgiven of our sins or to be assured of our eternity in heaven, but we are saved to know God.  So we yearn for him.  We want him so much that we abandon everything else to experience him.  This is the only proper response to the revelation of God in the gospel.”  Amen brother!

Platt  also states that we “cannot settle for anything less than a God-centered, Christ-exalting, self-denying gospel.”  I love that.

v. 24-29

When you hear God’s words and put them into practice, you have set up for yourself a firm foundation; when you don’t put them into practice, your foundation will crumble like a house built on sand. 

Jesus amazed the crowds with His teachings because he spoke with much authority.

“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living.  They are foundational words, words to build a life on.  If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock…but if you use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on a sandy beach.” – The Message

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Day 22: Library vs. Bookstore

Part of our year of less is borrowing when we can.  The library comes in very handy in the area of borrowing books.
I had heard of a book called “7: An experimental mutiny against excess” by Jen Hatmaker.  I heard from a few people that it was really good and a great challenge.  Since beginning the year of less, a few friends recommended I read it.  Well, I don’t have the book; instead of grabbing it from a local (not so local) bookstore, I decided to see if our library either has it or could get it on interlibrary loan.  Upon requesting the book, the library decided to buy it and put me at the top of the list of people waiting to check it out J So, I am currently waiting to begin this book – which is probably good, because I am currently reading through another book.

I also checked to see if they had (or could get) that Baby Signing Time: Potty video I spoke about in this post.  They were supposed to get back to me after doing a little research on that one; it has been a week and I haven’t heard anything, so this ones a little "up in the air."

In regard to this post, my husband stated, “I hate the bookstore, however, I always seem to be paying them both.  Charges to buy a book at the store or late fees for not returning a book in time to the library.” Haha.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Day 21: Project #1

Our dining room closet that we cleaned out now has a “project shelf”.  This is where we set stuff that we need to fix, make or do.  One of the things on that shelf was a box full of frames.  With the pictures I hung for Jack’s Baby Shower, I decided to create a frame collage for a wall in our living room.

I started by framing the pictures and rearranging them on our bed to form a frame collage that I thought looked good.

Then I took them to the wall:


It looks a little cheap…but that’s alright with me J

I got a project done, a wall decorated and 13 unused frames out of our project closet!

***Note from husband: I came home to my wife standing 4 feet in the air on a chair.  Had she fallen, I may have been a widow with two cute babies.  Another woman would have fallen in love with me and the kids and then she would have regretted this for life.  Please do not attempt this at your home unless your children are capable of calling 911 while blood is spewing from your head.  I know you think you will land like a Siamese cat, but it is called an accident because no one expects it or wants it to happen!***

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Day 20: Cloth Diapers

As mentioned in the previous post, we cloth diaper our children.  This is not a new thing for the year, I just wanted to use this space/time to go into a little bit more detail and tell you why we do it.  It is also my personal challenge to be less slothful and continue using them on a regular basis. (You see, sometimes we get lazy and go a few days using disposables.)

We began cloth diapering shortly after we bought our first home when our oldest daughter was 3 months old.  My cousin first told me about cloth diapering, as she cloth diapers her children.  She also began my stash and helped me learn all the ins and outs of the CD (cloth diaper) world.  If it weren’t for her letting us borrow all she did, we never would have started.

We aren’t huge environmentalists or anything – we just like to save money. 

We started out using some prefolds with snaps and covers.  Then Aimee (my cousin) sent us some all-in-ones and we were in love.  Our favorites were bumgenius!  My husband only likes all-in-ones.  Then we learned about pockets.  They are similar to all-in-ones.  Once we had a little stash, I began searching on the local facebook swap/sell/trade site.  Gross, right.  Wrong.  Second hand diapers are the best.  They are so cheap!  So I bought a few of my own.  We also invested in a huge stash of prefolds, two wet bags and some cloth wipes from a friend of ours.  We now have a pretty wide collection of all sizes of diapers. 

I LOVE cloth diapering.  It is rewarding.  Not only to know that I am helping save our family money, but it is also nicer to know that less chemicals are on my baby’s behind, less trash is being sent to the dump, they are super-duper cute, and they are a bit addicting.  I also find it rewarding to fold them and organize them nicely in the kids’ room.  It’s okay, you can call me a freak.

What don’t I like about cloth diapering?  Poop.  Baby poop changes a lot.  If it is pebble-poop, I get excited because it drops nicely into the toilet.  If it is runny-poop, I cringe.  And when it is poop-five-times-a-day-poop, I cry…and then I use disposables for a while.  Seriously though, all the contact with poop is worth it.

Here are some photos of our cloth diaper collection:

Monday, January 21, 2013

Day 19: Cloth Wipes

We cloth diaper our children (most of the time).  I bought some diapers and accessories from a friend who could no longer cloth diaper and she threw in some awesome re-usable wipes that her mom had made.  They are double sided flannel and work great!  We used them for quite a while with our cloth diapers and then just got lazy.  We have decided to start using them again!

When I first used them, I soaked them in a wipe solution made of water, baby wash and tea tree oil.  It smelt nice and worked well. *** I (husband) think it smells great until it is mixed with pee and then it really stinks!!!  She says “it is not the tea tree oil you idiot, it is just the pee.”  I have smelled pee in a diaper before and it is the tea tree oil that stinks!!!!***

To save time and money, this time we will just use water.  We grabbed a handy little squirt bottle, and each time we need a wipe we will just squirt a dry wipe with the water and use it.

I love using the cloth wipes with the cloth diapers because then you can just throw it all into the wetbag and the washer together – no need to make a trip to the trashcan! 

This may gross some people out – but it is worth the savings!  Wipes are not too expensive to buy, but every little bit adds up, in your pocket and the landfills.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Day 18: Handmade Cards

Greeting cards are EXPENSIVE.  Sure they are cute and have pretty colored envelopes, but it is just not worth the price.  Plus, I love making things.

I created the invitations for our baby shower; for 48 invitations it cost me $2.  If I would have bought invitations it would have been $16.

I am making my own thank you cards as well.  I got a package of 50 plain brown cards and envelopes, ready to be embellished, for $5.

As you can see, the price difference is worth the time.  It also adds a personal touch and increases creativity!

Make your own cards!  They are much more fun to get!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Day 17: Baby Shower

This is the opposite of the year of less – we had a Baby Shower.  We got some much needed items, like an ear thermometer and some pacifiers.  We had lots of fun and felt very loved by all our friends and family. 

In preparation, we spent lots of time cleaning and preparing food, so we did not have time to do anything related to the year of less.  Deal with it ;)

I do have something to admit though.

                I AM A PERFECTIONIST.  And it has gotten the best of me.


The shower was thrown by my mother-in-law and sister-in-law (THANK YOU GUYS!) and I, for some unknown reason, decided to offer our home for the location of the shower.  We love hosting and having people over, but our living room is not quite big enough for 25 people to sit comfortably.  Anyway, after the shower I felt miserable about the way I acted prior to the shower.  I am a perfectionist.  I know this about myself and most of the time I just brush it off as not a big deal.  But it really is.  Because of my perfectionism, people feel like I am unpleaseable.  Nothing is good enough for me. 

Knowing that I make people feel that way makes me cringe.

The night before the shower I took it upon myself to decorate and set up, even though I wasn’t in charge of the party.  The next day I mopped (which I rarely do), cleaned our dining room chairs, set up more, and made instructions for each of the games we were to play.  Again, I was not in charge of this party.  When my sister-in-law arrived I was whizzing around trying to get everything perfectly set up because I knew Jack would need to nurse soon.  I wanted to do everything myself.  I asked several times how certain things would be done.  I wanted to have everything ready to go 30mins before the party started so we could be ready and relaxed.  The fact that cupcakes were being frosted as people arrived made me feel like a failure (even though I wasn’t in charge of the party).  The idea of the food/drinks not being ready to eat as people arrived made me nervous beyond belief (even though I wasn’t in charge of the party).  My husband playing roller coaster tycoon for a little bit the morning of the party made me rude, bossy and eventually made me cry (even though there wasn’t much he could do for the party).

****(Justin's addition)  I worked a ten hour day before and then took her on a nice date and then cleaned the house until midnight the night before.  I fell asleep with our sick child and my methhead (actually, starbucks-caffinated) wife J cleaned all night.  A Little bit overboard.****

I think I yelled at my mother-in-law, made my sister-in-law feel like crap and made my husband feel that no amount of help he gave me was good enough.  Perfectionism has turned me into a perfect monster.

I am NOT perfect, by any means, but I do try to be.  I don’t want to anymore.

A while ago I was reading a book by Dr. Kevin Leman about birth order, specifically about firstborns.  I picked the book up again at an attempt to figure out how to become less of a perfectionist.  As I began reading, I realized how perfectly he was describing me in his chapters. 

“Don’t miss out on the wonderful opportunities that life has to offer because of perfectionism.”

Seriously.  I do.  When Jane got frosting and barbecue sauce on her face, all I wanted to do was clean her up so she looked presentable for pictures – all I needed to do was laugh it off and give her a hug.  When my mother-in-law apologized about being late, I told her not to worry about it with a tone that said it was not okay, but what I needed to do was truly forgive her and tell her everything was great!  When my husband helped me clean the entire house, instead of staying up later to do all the deep cleaning I thought needed to be done, I should have cuddled up in bed next to him with a thankful heart for such a clean and amazingly loving husband. 

I’ve got some work to do in this heart of mine.  Scratch that.  God has some work to do in this heart of mine!  The good thing is, I am ready.  I realize I am being unreasonable in my expectations of myself and others.  I realize I am controlling, bossy and rude.  I realize that I am the only one judging myself so intensely.  Dr. Leman suggests excellence instead of perfectionism; “Striving for excellence is reaching toward a goal that’s attainable and not stopping until you get there.  It’s deciding I’m going to do things as well as I possibly can.  Excellence is within reach.”

Please pray for me as I am on this journey to becoming less uptight and perfectionistic, and more relaxed, thankful, loving and able to enjoy the moments God has placed in my life.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Day 16: Laundry Soap

This one excites me a lot!  We cloth diaper and it is hard to convince my husband that we need a special soap for the diapers that costs four times more than regular soap, but will actually last twice as long.  So, we just use our regular detergent on diapers…which leads to build-up and horrible absorbancy.

I finally convinced him, and this year of less convinced him, that it was time to make our own detergent!  I had seen a few different recipes on different blogs and websites and wanted to stick with a simple one.  I chose this homemade cloth diaper detergent.


Three ingredients – equal parts of each.

Baking soda: $3.50

Washing soda: $3.50

Oxygen cleaner: $3

$10 for 24 cups = 384 loads!

I mixed some up and am keeping it in an old pickle jar.  Don’t judge.

We have used it a few times and I love it so far!  You only have to use 1-2 TBSP of it per load!

I did the math and that is $0.03 per load J That is less than half the cost of the cheap detergent we used to use!

Oh, and this detergent is not just for our cloth diapers, you can use it on all your clothes!  The one thing I don’t like about it is that it doesn’t have much of a smell and I love the smell of fresh laundry…I hear that you can add essential oils to scent it, but I don’t have any and frankly don’t want to spend more money, so will not be doing that! 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Day 15: Taking our own photos

As women, we treasure moments captured in photos.  My husband could not care less.  Although he loves to look back at photos and really does treasure having them, he never wants to take them, be in them, or pay for them. 

I have SO MANY friends who are amazing photographers and I always desire to have pictures taken of every little moment of our lives!  Unfortunately, we cannot afford that.  ((NO OFFENSE TO FRIENDS)) but having people take pictures for you is pricey.  It is MUCH more convenient than trying to tackle the kiddos myself AND take the pictures myself, but alas that is what we can afford.

SO, this time I decided to skip the argument with the husb of how "photographers charge too much and we can do it ourselves" (and by ourselves, it generally means by YOURSELF ;), and take pictures by myself.  I set up a “newborn shoot” for Jack in December, a “Christmas shoot” before Christmas, and a “baby bro, big sis shoot” the other day… 

Newborn shoot

Christmas shoot

"we have matching onesies" shoot

I would have to say, they didn’t turn out all that bad, but they were a bit stressful.

Also, the coloring looks awesome solely because of the editing program I use – for free, on the internet,  We usually print at Walmart or Walgreens.

We don’t have a fancy camera, I am not very artsy or knowledgable about photo-anything and we don’t spend a lot on a fancy, much better than me, photographer, but we do have photos of our children that will last for a very long time. J

*Justin's addition* P.S. My wife forgot to mention that I do not consider “Photography” an art…. Sorry if that is offensive. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Day 14: The mail/bill/clutter box

Each time we get the mail from the mailbox we place it in the same general area which we occasionally go through and sort between shred, keep, do something with, etc.  Our little bill box has become very cluttered and now just sits on top of a pile of other papers that need to be gone through as well.

Tonight we did just that.  We went through papers and mail and paid bills.  Justin is actually in charge of the checkbook and bills (praise God!), so he did that.  I helped sort through the rest of the junk.

Now our bill box contains just a few odds and ends and mostly just envelopes and stamps for the next round of bills to be paid with the next check.

*Side note about my husband – he is an accountant and pays people’s bills for a living, and is therefore very accurate and loves doing it.  I have always hated paying bills and dealing with money, so the Lord certainly knew what He was doing pairing the two of us!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Day 13: Borrowed Cupcake Stands

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law are having a baby shower for us on Saturday to help welcome baby Jack!

What a sweet, precious baby :)

We will be having cupcakes at the party and only have a small table to put them on…so we are borrowing cupcake stands from several friends.  We did the same thing at Jane’s party.  Not only does borrowing eliminate the need to spend money, it cuts down on the clutter of dishes you only use every so often and increases interaction with other people!  All in all, a good choice.

Here they are in the trunk of our van, ready to
be returned to their rightful owners.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Day 12: Natural Products

Day 12: Natural Products

My friend Jenny has been on an all-natural-making-her-own-beauty-products-kick!  She also blogs!  (Check her out at Sunflower Sundays)

Jenny’s Christmas gift to me was a mixture of her handmade and awesome beauty products!  I got some hand cream, body scrub and hair gel!

Jenny and I plan to get together to make some of this stuff.  We also have a few other projects up our sleeves.

I am so excited.  As part of our year of less, we were wanting to start using more natural products in our home, especially ones that we can make on our own, and this is our in!  As I have started using the body scrub and lotion, I just feel so much better about putting it on my skin and my skin feels so great!  Both products have natural oils in them that are really great for your skin.  They feel a bit greasy, compared to normal lotion, but once you get over that feeling, it is really just a moisturized feeling!  I love it.  Thanks Jenny!

--Also, Jenny started using this shampoo ( and we are planning to order it soon.  Cal Ben is a family owned and operated, all natural, company!  We like that.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Day 11: Matthew 6

I have included a brief paraphrasing of each section, along with my thoughts in bold.

Matthew 6

v. 1-4

Be righteous for God, not others, or else it is useless.

Give quietly and secretly; The Lord will reward you for this.

This first section strikes me pretty hard.  I feel like our human efforts at righteousness are all too often rooted in trying to impress someone else, other than God.  Its all a part of how we have been conditioned to train our behavior rather than our heart.  How useless. 

The part about giving reminds me of how I get kind of irritated with how some churches do tithing, actually.  If we are supposed to give secretly and quietly, then why do we have ushers pass a bowl down the aisle during service?  And why do we have pre-printed giving envelopes to keep track of our giving?  And why do we write checks (which contain information to identify who is giving)?   And why do we write off our giving as part of a tax deduction?
This makes me feel like hijacking the whole system and just randomly sending envelopes of money to whatever church or ministry God leads me to support.  If it is supposed to be done secretly, why would I show the whole church I’m doing it?

v. 5-15

Pray in private to your Father.  Pray simply without babble.  God already knows what you need to pray.  Pray as Jesus taught:

                “Our Father…”

Forgive others and He will forgive you

These verses are a little difficult for my brain and heart to take.  I love to pour out everything in my mind and heart in order to help myself to process – and I know the Lord wants to hear everything I have to say – when it says to pray without lots of words, I think it means to pray truth, not try to say something without saying it.  Speak plainly would maybe be a better way to state it. 

Forgive others and He will forgive you…oh, boy.  This is such a hard one.  Sometimes I realize how much I actually hold onto in my heart without forgiving and it makes me wonder how He ever forgave us!

v. 16-18

When you fast, only let God know you are doing it – for this he will reward you.

I think it is important to remember why you are doing things like fasting…for the Lord.  I don’t find harm in sharing the act with others though in regards to encouraging others in their faith or teaching.

v. 19-24

Great guiding verses in trying to figure out what to keep and what to get rid of!

Do not invest in things here on earth that will break or be stolen, instead invest in heavenly things; those things cannot be broken or taken away.  What you invest in says a lot about where your heart is!

(Look up vs. 22-23)

You can either serve God, or you can serve money.  If you decide to love money, you will hate God.  You  can only serve and fully worship one god.

I want to invest in people and my relationship with God.  Those things will last forever.  I do not want to dwell on THINGS.  I don’t want to want more and more possessions, I want to give and be happy in what the Lord has provided for me!  

I love that even way back in Jesus’ time, God knew money would be a struggle for most people throughout time.  You cannot love money, as our society does, and still fully worship God.  That is clear.  Looks like we have some changing to do if we want to be true followers and truly devoted to our Lord.

v. 25-34

God takes care of all of His creation.  He does not want us to worry about what we will eat, drink or wear.  He’s got our back.

“[We must] seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these [other] things will be given to [us] as well.” V. 33

We mustn’t worry about our days to come, we should take care of the day we are in and allow each following day to be taken care of in its own time.

The part about not worrying about the future concerns me a bit.  Justin likes to stock up on water and bullets and plan for dramatic things to happen; he has also been taught to “be prepared” (thanks to the Boy Scouts).  I don’t think it is bad to be prepared…I think it turns bad when it is all you think about – or WORRY about.  It is okay to have extra food and water stored, as long as you aren’t focusing your energy worrying about those horrid days that may perhaps come your way.  Take care of this day you have been given first and enjoy each day as it comes your way.  God ultimately provides.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Day 10: DVDs

Almost every single household owns DVDs.  It is nice to be able to just grab a TV show off the shelf and pop it in as background noise while I clean, or to grab a classic movie and watch it with the family, however, there is no need to own as many as we do.  There are many that were bought pre-marriage that are not appropriate or needed in our household.  We think it is okay to own rated R movies, as long as they are purposeful, do not cause stumbling in our personal lives and do not include extreme nudity.  We mostly kept movies that are family friendly, or “American classics”. 

In addition to simplifying our items, we are also on a mission to examine our lifestyle and choices and make sure they line up with what God wants and what we want our children to learn from. 

We don’t want to have a movie or TV show available in our home that we would not want to watch with our children (in the appropriate time).  If we are uncomfortable watching it with our pastor, then we probably don’t want to have to explain why we are watching it to Jesus!


We divided our DVD’s into three piles:

1) Keep

2) Sell

3) Watch once more and decide what to do.

I have a feeling the ones we are watching will mostly end up in our sell pile.

*Just so you know, this is getting hard already.  The getting rid of things is fabulous, I’m not struggling with that…it is the coming up with things to do on a DAILY basis, that we have time for.  During the week it will mostly be ME doing things and Justin helping out one night and on the weekends.  Two kiddos under two = limited time to do anything but mother.  Maybe I need to focus on things I can do to simplify my parenting or teaching or cleaning…something that involves the little ones.  Ideas welcome!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Day 9: Xbox games

We own an Xbox 360, and while I like to occasionally play video games, I never seem to find enough excitement or time to do so.  Justin, however, is a man and loves video games.  If he could he would play them daily.  The problem is, he works at least 40 hours a week, is still finishing school, has a wife and two babies.  That equals about FIVE MINUTES of video game time available per week, if he is lucky.  We don’t have a ton of games, but there are several that we never play.  So, tonight we got rid of those that either A) we don’t play or B) we deem too inappropriate to keep (although we did keep a few that we would not want our children to play…).

We plan to actually try to sell these games instead of just giving them away.  We decided that we would give any type of necessity away (clothes, food, toys) and try to sell anything else (movies, video games, etc.) to make the best use of our “assets”.  We have not decided quite yet what we will do with this additional “income”, but we have a few ideas.

We have talked about just giving the money, we’ve talked about saving it in our Christmas Club account, we’ve considered spending it on actual other things we need, putting it in Jane and Jack’s piggy banks, having a date night, etc.

Whatever we choose to do, the main thing is that we are eliminating this junk to 1) get it out of our house, 2) make a little money, and 3) make wise decisions about our possessions and giving opportunities.