Monthly Archives: July 2013

Revisiting an Old Friend

I need to confess……  I haven’t been practicing good stewardship.  It became really clear when I was reading the book, 7, by Jen Hatmaker.  Hey, if you haven’t already run out and got a copy, may I suggest you do.  The Saline Co. Library has a copy and so does Central Arkansas Library System.

Sad thing I wasn’t always like this……

Ahem.

Not to worry…. God put 7 in my hands and opened my eyes before it was too terribly late.  So, I called up an old friend, Mr. Budget.

Me:  Hey Mr. Budget how have you been lately?

Mr. B:  Well, looky here….. Long time no see.

Me:  I know.  I’ve been busy.

Mr. B:  What brings you by?

Me:  I’ve been neglecting you and well, I think we need to be close pals again.

Mr. B:  I’m so glad you came back. How can I help you?

Me:  Please get me back on track.

Mr. B:  Welcome back friend.

Here’s the thing…..  I guess I never really paid much attention to how I spend my money and time.  I was budgeting, meal planning, and figuring out how to receive MORE for me and the fam than for God.  I only focused on the financial part of stewardship.  7 has taught me that there is a whole other realm to giving.  And it starts with the financial planning but it doesn’t stop there.

So I have to come up with a new improved plan to follow.  But first things first.  My budget needs a make-over.

Getting away from a solid budget makes it easier to conform to the world’s standard of spending.  American culture says, “Spend. Spend again. Spend more.”  Thanks to Mrs. Hatmaker I understand my pitfalls.   I got a job and still we seemed to be financially unbalanced.  I had the attitude of  “Can’t because there wasn’t any money.”   Ahem.

After about a week of solid crying myself to sleep, I went to Mark and laid it all out.  I explained that God had my attention and we better listen.  I explained that I wasn’t going to put our family through a strange experiment.  He sighed a sigh of relief.  No, that wasn’t the purpose God proposed.  It was to live a richer life that was more than dollars and cents.  It was about enriching other people’s lives.

Good Ole’ Mark….. without a hesitation, he knew exactly what I was talking about.  God blessed me with a wonderful godly man.  And boy do I love that man of mine!

So, this week, Mark and I sat down with the new and improved Mr. Budget.  I found a free Family Budget Planner at Vertex 42.  And we got to work plugging in our expenditures.  And then we set goals.

1.  To have “X” amount of dollars put into Savings by December.

2.  To tithe the 10%….. the whole 10% not a portion here and there to relieve a conscience.  Give until it hurts, not what we can spare.

3.  Tackle debt.

4.  Help others.  We want to live without worry.  We should want that for others,too.

A no-brainer.

Once we plugged in and worked out the goals, we have a jump-start to a richer and enriching life.

Then, I saw the price of milk had gone up AGAIN.  This is going to be harder than I thought.

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Vintage Cooking

I’ve been going through my cookbooks…..

I have a zillion that would be considered “antique.”  My dear Granny gave them to me.  I love looking at how homemakers in the 40’s and 50’s did their baking.  Some really interesting ideas!!

So, I decided to taste test a few of those recipes!!

Today’s feature is the White Mountain Frosting that I found in this lovely Betty Crocker cookbook from 1951.

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It is so light and fluffy!  It really made this chocolate cake look elegant.  And it was a real hit with the family, too!!  Fingers were licked and lots of  “MMMMM…. this is good.”

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I was making an airplane cake for a friend’s son.  In my design I wanted to use cotton candy for the clouds.  Well…… did you know that I could only find blue and pink cotton candy??  I stood in the store scratching my head wondering what in the world I could use as a substitute.  The light bulb lit up over my head…… Bing!

That White Mountain Frosting!!!

Look how it added such a fluffy yummy look!!

 

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Now here is the best part!  I’m gonna share this yummy frosting recipe with you!!

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More

A recent conversation with Jesus:

Me:  Okay, we made a budget.

Jesus: Tithe?

Me:  Of course.

Jesus:  Does it hurt?

Me: uhmmmm, No.

Jesus: Do more.

Me: We will be saving for the next car repair….. the new flooring….. my new room.

Jesus:  Do more.

Me:  How can we?  We don’t make enough money.

Jesus:  Are you taking care of the orphans?

Me:  No.

Jesus:  What about the widows like Mrs. Block?

Me:  No….. but…..

Jesus:  What about the needy?  the sick?  the imprisoned?

Me: I get your point.  But I do so much in your name.

Jesus:  I am asking for you to do more.

((sigh))

I couldn’t get around it.  Jesus was right.  I’ve gotten comfortable in my routine.  I knew it the moment I opened the pages of a new way of thinking book.  It’s called 7 by Jen Hatmaker.  She blogs like me.  Think that is what caught my attention.  This was an experiment.  And I haven’t had a blog challenge in a while.

Can you hear God chuckling now?  He’s like…… “Gotcha!”

It was an interesting idea.  7 months living a bare minimum.  Extreme, yes.  And I think the family got a little nervous when I started talking about this book.  It wasn’t going to be long before I had a new challenge and they will feel like I’m torturing them.

Parental rights….. hehehe….. I’m joking.

Cause the joke was on me.

Conviction!  A good dose of it.

God opened me eyes.

I felt sick.

Yucky.

Told my pastor about the book.  Make things better?  Nope.  He told me about a professor he knew that was changing lives by living a bare minimum.  I knew better than to go to him.  God whispered in his ear exactly what I needed to hear.

For weeks now, as I have poured over the pages of this book, I’ve been slammed with the whole “Not of this world–Do not conform–Give until it hurts” notion that Jesus taught.  Between seeing the logo of NTW– Not of this world and every sermon I’ve heard on TV and in the pew, I’ve found myself crying to sleep each night.

I’ve told Mark the book was haunting me.  Then I would confess….. “not haunting but convicting me.”  Then the first lesson in my discipleship class was about what?????  Higher righteousness.  Being more.  Doing more.  Being more effective.

((sigh))

Can you hear God now??  “Are you going to listen to me or what??”

I’m listening.

Family and friends don’t worry.  I’m not going to put my family through anything strange….. not yet anyways!!  LOL  Doing more.  Being more.  And Effecting more.  That’s the plan.

Now I hear God saying…….“Bout time!”

Long Tailed Cat

I woke up in the middle of the night panicked.  I couldn’t explain it but humanoid robots chased me up a wall and I was holding onto the ledge for life.  The image keeps popping in my mind’s eye and I still feel panicked beyond words.

I did turn over and found the relief I needed to fall asleep when indeed I was not on the wall’s ledge fighting to stay alive but rather in the safety of my own bed and Mark sleeping peacefully next to me.  I quickly said a prayer and laid all of the trust I could muster in God to bring a much needed rest in the remaining few hours left of nightfall.

This morning I walked in circles trying to figure out what on earth was causing me to feel so out of whack.  I found myself wringing my hands or shaking them uncontrollably to find some sort of relief from this anxiety.  A nervous wreck I was this morning…… nope, no doubt about it…… I was like a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Jittery.  Flustered.  And almost out of my mind.

Scenarios of wrong doings, misplaced items, forgotten much needed supplies, and a whole laundry list of other things ran through my weary mind.  My heart raced as I went through my checklist of morning duties….. am I forgetting something?  Do I need to double, triple or quadruple check for everything?

Yeah, I was losing it this morning……

I got in the car to leave for work.  My heart stopped.  Tears flowed.  I was scared to death.  Worry laid upon me like a heavy wet blanket.  I prayed for peace of mind.  Only to throw it out the car window, when the lump in my throat made a nauseous arrive to the pit of my stomach.

I gripped the steering wheel in the same manner in which I held onto that ledge during the night.  Out of breath, sick feeling, and scared stiff is just the tip of this iceberg.  I fought back tears, fears, and other horrible thoughts. Thoughts crashed through my mind like the crumpling of metal in an automobile accident.  I couldn’t find any relief.

I prayed.  I reminded myself of God’s promises.  I wished the grip I held on that steering wheel could symbolize the need for me to hold onto God’s mighty right hand.  I turned on the radio…. KLOVE.  I tried talking out loud   to myself….. only thing, the fear-filled wife and mother of two frantically talked back.  Again, the robots from last night popped in my mind.  UGH!  Enough already!!

I reviewed my Bible verse from this morning……  I cried out to God to take this burden from me……

I arrived to work with a breath-taking pain the in the depths of my heart.  My stomach flipped and flopped.  Sweat poured down my face.  I prayed my legs would carry me up the stairs and hold me up while I tried to concentrate on my day’s work.

The library, normally my literary safe haven, turned against me.  Every book I looked at had something horrible either in the title or in the picture on the cover.  Vampires, plane crashes, crying mothers…….  nothing comforting like a sweet kitty or puppy.  Nope blood gushing, killing, stabbing…… the horrors!

I shook from anxiety.  Again, I prayed.  God please Help ME!!

Then I got the answer to all those prayers……..

In a text that read……

Mom, we are here.  Safe and sound at camp.  Now stop worrying!!

Up or Down

A friend of mine is going through a rough period.  Anxiety has settled in like a good old friend giving really bad advice.  My friend’s smile has disappeared and a slight slump has appeared along with a really heavy sigh.  The worries my friend expresses is like a wet blanket draped across the shoulders and bearing down.

Sigh.

I know how it feels.

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up.  Proverbs 12:25 HCSB

Ever had your heart weighed down from the grips of anxiety?  It is tough beyond belief.  It can immobilize, terrorize, and isolate us.  Anxiety is pain.  No doubt

 

about it.  It hurts our minds, bodies, and spirits.  I think William Young, author of The Shack, explains it best:

Pain has a way of clipping our wings and keeping u

 

s from being able to fly … and if left unresolved for very long, you can almost forget that you were ever created to fly in the first place.

Yeah, anxiety is a downer.  Plain and simple.  And it doesn’t have to be full blown depression to bring us down.  It can be the everyday kind of anxiety:  the fears and cares that are triggered when things aren’t going as smoothly as we had hoped.

Sigh.

But thank the heavens, God gave us a bit of advice…… but a good word cheers it up!

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We all recognize our weighted down friends….. they slump, they sigh, they grumble, they cry, they mope around, and often enough, they come to us to talk.  And when they do, the power of encouragement can shake the stronghold of anxiety.  If we encourage, we lift the burden.  And sometimes it doesn’t mean you have the answers to fix the problem but the friendly smile, a thoughtful prayer, or even a warm hug can make a difference.

In fact, Proverbs 15:4a says the tongue that heals is a tree of life.  We don’t have to have a counseling degree to simply say, “God loves you and I love you, too.”  Sometimes, it takes the pointing out of all the good around your friend that lifts the focus off of the anxiety.  And there are times when just a pat on the hand will do.

But what if we take another look at Proverbs 12:25……  Suppose it could mean how we behave.  Are we causing anxiety?  Are our words weighted down dripping with that soul soaking pain?  Are we stirring the pot just enough to bring others down….. I mean misery likes company……  Should we always look at the negative?  Does that mean the second half of that proverb mean we need to choose a cheerful tone and good words that bring life to those around us?  I guess, that means we really need to evaluate whether or not our own actions bring people up or pull them down.  Are we clipping wings that causes others not to fly?

Oh my, now I am feeling a little anxious.  But, God has placed in our lives those positive people who do offer the encouraging word we need to hear and an example in which we can learn from.  I want to have the tongue that heals and springs forth the tree of life.

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And I will start by saying, “God loves you…….”