God Will Provide

shoppingLately I’ve had this desire to go shopping  – often! We are on a very strict budget and I really CAN’T shop for anything other than food, toilet paper, and dog/cat food. Meaning, in all truth, I can’t afford to shop for anything extra. But I’ve been buying it anyway. This started in the spring when we got our tax rebate check. We kept it in savings FOREVER, but once I started spending it I just never stopped. And once the money was gone I had created a lovely new habit! (Awesome.) Instead of the penny-pincher, love to save and get things for free, “Oh look Sam, it’s even on CLEARANCE!”, I just spent and spent and spent.

Another habit this created was guilt. Because deep down inside I knew we couldn’t afford those things I started to associate shopping with guilt. This is sad because as much as I am NOT a girlie-girl, I really do love to shop. I think that has something to do with being able to provide for my family – something ancient and satisfying. But because   I went shopping for something I did need I also bought something I DID NOT need I have come to associate any shopping at all as a guilt-ridden experience.

So God is fixing this. And I am learning to say no to things I don’t need and ask, “God, will you please find me some ________? I really need/desire them.” And every single time that I have decided not to buy something that I really needed or really, really wanted He has provided for me.

Here are just a few things I’ve experienced:

A few months ago I was absolutely going to run out of conditioner. This might not really seem like such a big deal to you, but I have very long, curly hair and without conditioner my quality of life (sadly, sadly) really is lowered. So I told God I couldn’t afford any more and asked him to please find a way for me to make this last for an extra week until payday. I had what I thought was about three days left – tops – and that was with using less than usual. That stuff lasted me up until the day we got paid.

I went shopping and bought three sweaters and a pair of jeans – all for $40 from the second hand store. I thought I did a pretty good job, but deep down I wasn’t supposed to be there. I kept the sweaters, but took back the pants (they were from Target) and the next night my friend gave me TWO BOXES of sweaters! AND Yesterday she gave me a new pair of jeans! (They were actually new as she bought them just days before she found out she’s pregnant!)

If you remember this post I put on my to do list that I wanted to start thinking of ways to add color to my living room. While shopping at Target last night I found this for $5 on clearance to cover our yucky white and purple couch. So far it kind of looks college-roomy, but I think as I add to it the whole room will start to even out. Now, I know that God didn’t necessarily give that to me for free, but we were only able to buy it since my husband located three checks that have been waiting to go through since February – giving us an extra $50!

Next I have asked God for new underwear. Gross, I know, but I have about three nice pairs. I can’t wait to see how He pulls that one off. I also can’t wait to tell you about it!

These are all just “things” and have no value in reality, but I needed them. Because God is good and loving He gave me the desires of my heart.

What has God provided for you lately? What will you be asking Him for next? Please let me know what you’re waiting for and come back when you have it.

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Make Your (Rental) Home a Haven

home-sweet-homeOne of the biggest drawbacks to renting your home is not having the freedom to make changes in order for it to represent your family’s personality. My husband and I have been renters since the almost six years we’ve been married. We have lived in three very different places and have struggled with not being able to make repairs, paint walls funky colors, start a garden, etc. Through these struggles, however, we’ve found ways for our home to represent who we are. I thoughgt I’d share in case you’re in the middle of these struggles.

Struggle #1: Repairs Needed – No railing on sometimes icy porch stairs, a leaky roof, a room-type carpet glued to the floor, bug infestations. These are just a few of the problems we’ve had with our rentals that required repair or maintenance but didn’t seem important enough to the landlords to take care of. There are ways to handle this. You can do the repairs yourself and ask for reimbursement, you can just take the cost of them, or you can find ways to get around them. Our landlords never reimbursed us for the bug fogger or the carpet, but it was worth it to us to have these things taken care of so we handled it ourselves – with permission, of course.  If you have a major issue and the landlord won’t take it upon him/herself to make your home safe it’s important that you take matters into your own hands. We went for a whole year with a growing infestation of Black Mold on the walls, underneath the mattresses, along the windowsills, next to my baby’s bed! Our landlord told us to spray it down with bleach. We moved out the first chance we had.

Struggle #2: Making it feel like YOUR home – There are ways to personalize your home and give it your own home-y touch without painting walls, removing cabinet doors, etc. My favorite way is to create my own focal point of a room. I once had a huge collage framed in an old picture window frame (that got taken down because it was never tested for lead paint). You can also make your own curtains or drapes and have coordinated pillows, fabric squares on the wall, etc. Place plants about the place or blow up your favorite pictures – not just your formal pictures. We have a great picture from our wedding with my husband in a backwards cap and me in aviator sunglasses running underneath the arms of our friends that will (SOON!) be blown up to 11×14 and framed as the focal point of our living room. Remember, also, to keep it simple. The more things you add to your home, the more cluttered it can feel and own or rent, this is never a good thing.

Struggle #3:  Neighbors – The politics of neighbors in a rental home are tricky. The people who have lived in your neighborhood before you may have preconceived notions about you and your family due to the experiences they’ve had with the other people that have lived in your home. Bring them cookies, anyway. You really shouldn’t have to be the person to introduce yourself first, but God calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves and this is how this gets done. Include a note (I just use index cards) with your name and telephone number – depending on the neighborhood – and let them know you’re there if they need you. When you see them say hello, smile, pet their dogs, whatever. You can’t feel safe in your home if you don’t know your neighbors – especially if they’re 10 inches away from you in the next apartment. (This goes for home owners, too.)

Struggle #4 – None or very little garden space – Man, this one makes me bummed. I see all the beautiful gardens all my blogging friends are planting this season and my hands just ache to plant, sow, water,  and weed. In the home we’re at now, we have just enough yard for the dog to go potty.  But we can create a lovely herb garden and keep healthy, toxin reducing plants in each room of the house. We also visit the local Farmer’s Market in the summer and fall – this gives us community that we would otherwise miss out on – plus it funds small business and family farming. The other sad part about renting on a year lease is knowing that what you plant this year will be enjoyed by someone else next year – always frustrating especially if you know you won’t be living there for longer than your lease. The best thing to do is look on the bright side – at least your nails still look pretty!

In the six years that we’ve been renting as a family every single day I have dreamed of owning my own house. I have the colors, the kitchen, the living room, the garden, the garage all laid out in my mind. I see my son and our dog running in the yard and I see me hanging up our clothes to dry on a hot summer afternoon with my husband diligently working in the garage or mowing the lawn. But I’ve learned that a house/apartment/duplex is only wood without my family. A home is not brick or wood, but the family that God houses you with.

How do you make your rental a home? Please share your thoughts, struggles, ideas!

Meal Planning Made Easy

So, yeah. I’ve been away awhile. I just don’t see the point in posting about something that I don’t REALLY care about. It always ends up sucking. So there. I am passionate about menu/meal planning, however, so this shouldn’t be crappy. “Shouldn’t be” is the phrase to notice here.

Meal Planning saves me time, money, taste buds, sanity – really, the list could go on and on. Fortunately for you, it won’t. I was just on my way home from work and was planning a trip to Wal-Mart. Not my favorite store, but the only one open when I get off work. The other day on a trip to WallyWorld I saw an excellent deal on a day planner/desk blotter set complete with calendar. Tonight at work I realized that this may very well be what I was needing – and for only Eight bucks, how could I lose? But, hesitantly, I drove by. I felt God steering me away and (like I said, HESITANTLY) pulled away. Just then I realized that I could find a perfectly good calendar online – after all I still have a day planner that’s good until June and I would have to tear off the pages of the calendar to post it to the fridge to make it a meal planner, anyway. I got online straight away and guess what I found? A meal planner. And not just that – a calendar, too. This way Rick will know what I know about the plans for the day/weekend and vice versa.

Go here to pick yours up for FREE. Also, don’t forget to check out Menu Planning Monday for some great, fresh ideas for feeding your fam on the cheap.

Be blessed (and organized)! Kellie

…And I’m back…

Hello friends! I wish that I could tell you that I am here with boxes unpacked and neatly tucked away ready for our next adventure, but I can not. What I CAN tell you, however, is that they are put away, out of sight, in our lovely little closets and garage!

Earlier this year we were tried with (how do you say it?!) not having a home secured for us before we left our other rental house. To be brief, the home that we had rented for 3 1/2 years was poisoning us and we needed to leave. We thought we would have a home before we moved out, but most landlords found it tough to admit a family with a Great Dane dog (even if she is a runt!)!!! Understandable? Absolutely, yes! After moving in with my parents for two weeks and a few days we got the offer to move into this house and took it immediately. It is not what we had dreamed of and it is not what we expected, but it is healthy and I truly feel that God has called us to this specific area of the city in order to be an ambassador for Him.

Our new home has no yard (except a small spot for Annie Dog to pee), there are no sidewalks at all in the area, it is in the yuckiest neighborhood in the town, and it is 30 miles from our jobs. BUT it is extremely close to my mom and dad and again, it’s healthy – no mold, no lead paint, no holes or leaks anywhere. I have noticed a surprising amount of yucky spiders, but I’ll live – we’re centipede-free so far! (fingers crossed!)

I got a job, too, which is the only way that we can even pretend to afford such a huge gas bill and such a large spike in rent. I mostly hate it, and it pays so-so, but I get my days with The Boy and this I can not complain about. We have three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and there is (WOO HOO) a basement for imclement weather. Mostly, I’m a happy girl, but will never stop wishing for that farmhouse in the country with tons of kids who can run as far as their lungs will allow them, a wrap-around porch, a huge vegetable garden, three dogs lazing around, and a few chickens.

But no matter where we live I know that my HOME is with God and that I can find hope, joy, peace, and  strength in my friend, father, mother, and Lord – Jesus Christ. My family is healthy and we are a strong, loving, tightly-knit unit. I am blessed beyond what most can even imagine.

I hope that this small, humble message finds you well, friends, and I look forward to meeting up with you more frequently from now on. Blessings! Kellie

I’m a Mommy Duck

And while I think that’s a good thing, let me tell you what happened.

Sam and I were at the park today tossing rocks into the river. Ok, actually, we were gunning them in. Beside the point. Let’s just say the fish were probably darting for cover. And it attracted a group of ducks. I LOVE DUCKS. Maybe it’s from childhood memories of feeding them, but I think it’s the fact that they mate for life. And why is it  that I think that’s so romantic? They’re just ducks. But it’s sweet, is it not? That primal birds can find a way to get along with someone of the opposite sex for their entire lives and we, thinking, loving, blessed creatures of a true and loving God, can not? For this, I think ducks are special.

These three boy ducks and one girl duck were hanging out, checking out what we had. But we only had rocks. So, of course, we were not worthy of staying around, and they swam away. I remembered the pieces of PB&J that Sam decided he was too good for and we ran up the hill, into the car, and grabbed the sandwich. Once we got back down they were really far away and every inch we took closer they (being ducks) swam 5 more feet. I don’t blame them. We were throwing rocks, afterall.

The lady duck was lingering behind. I think she might have needed some lady duck time. A nice bath, some wine, etc. She totally let Sam get close to her. (Not me though.) Maybe she knew he was a baby? So she got all the sandwich pieces. Once the boy ducks saw that she was feasting on peanut butter and blueberry preserves (um, YUM!) they decided to come hang out. But she didn’t let those guys anywhere near her. Even though she came up on shore. Even though they were ALL yelling at her to come down and be safe. With a simple, “Quack!” She shut those guys up. And she was a bossy little thing, let me tell you. (I know. I got too attached, what can I say?) Maybe it’s mating season because every time those guys got around her she’d yell, they’d fall back, and be silent. It cracked me up. And I realized that she was the boss. The boss of her body and the boss of who she’s picking. And I don’t think she’s gonna be picking any of those dudes, let me tell ya. Maybe she just likes male company more. I know I do – sometimes. Anyway, I laughed and I asked Sam what we should name her and he said “Mom”. So I know I’m a bossy gal. But they still loved her. She and I are lucky that way, I guess.

“Dieting”

Here’s what I’m allowed to eat, people, and PLEASE tell me that you would have a hard time with this, too.

Water – not flavored

Meat

Vegetables

Legumes

Condiments and Oils

Milk products such as cheese, cottage cheese and gross plain yogurt – no milk

Nuts and seeds

Oh yeah and did I mention that that’s it? No gum, no lowfat flavored yogurt, no fruit, no grains, no freaking coffee or tea… I am even off all things scented, such as deodorant, laundry detergent (we were doing that, anyway), perfume, etc. I’m even off my occasional cigarettes, which is good, I know…

So it’s really hard. REALLY HARD. Especially because I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 21. But I trust my nutritionist. She’s a Christian in a faith-based practice, and has the best intentions for me. But three servings of meat, 3 servings of beans, and 7 servings of veggies should be hard for ANYONE to handle, right? Or am I that messed up in the diet department? Has anyone else done anything like this before?

Since I started three weeks ago. I have had 5 shakes and made a batch of cookies yesterday that are (honest to God) almost all gone. I am losing it. And I am messing up every day. I have scripture verses up everywhere to remind me that my body is a holy temple of Christ and that by mistreating it with food I am disabling God to work as effectively through me as He has intended. Still, I can not seem to keep up with it. Who can offer me support? I am faithful and completely assured that this is the right thing for me. BUT I HATE MEAT!!! Plus I strongly believe in the idea of eating kosher foods – avoiding pork, scavenger food, etc – but this only leaves me with chicken, turkey, scaley fish, and eggs – since I hate beef. ARGH!!! I’m gonna lose it and I’m trying so hard, but if I look at another piece of salmon or another chicken drumstick, I swear…

What’s a girl to do?

Bloggy Giveaway – Dr. Sears’ Nighttime Parenting Book

Bloggy Giveaways is having their Bloggy Carnival this week and I am finally getting in on the fun. WOO HOO!

I thought a lot about what I wanted to give and I believe that since this blog is geared mostly toward my experiences as Sam’s mom and my quest to parent him in a Godly and loving manner it would be the biggest blessing to give the one resource (besides the Bible) that has helped me love Sam during the hardest part of our lives together so far.

To one winner I will give a copy of Dr. William Sears’ book Nighttime Parentng. If you are a parent of a baby younger than 18 months and are having sleep issues or are expecting a child and would like to get started in preparing for the long nights ahead, please enter to win this. I will get your information later and have is sent straight to you from amazon.com. With this book you will learn practical, sensible and loving ways to guide your child to sleep (or back to sleep!). This is in VAST contrast to the sleep-trainitg techniques that are popular today such as Cry-it-Out, ect. This book, along with The Baby Book by Dr. Sears and his wife, Martha Sears, has helped me to create an amazingly strong bond and a large amount of trust between our family. To get more info on Dr Sears’ parenting advice, please go here.

The winner will be announced on Sunday, April 27th. Please make sure that you leave your name and blog/email information so that I can inform you if you are the winner. Please also tell me what made YOU feel comfortable when you were scared or had a hard time sleeping as a child. I know with me it always helped when my mom would scratch my back and sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. To this day I still swear that she has the sweetest voice in the universe!!

Good luck and make sure to check out all the other giveaways this week!