Tuesday, December 31, 2013

More Than Lip Service

God has always wanted our hearts more than sacrifice. This is something that is hard to grasp sometimes, and I know I can't be the only one. I mean, isn't going and being a missionary in a foreign field, better than 10 minutes spent in reverence? Well, yes and no. It all depends on where your heart is.
Last night my husband and I read Malachi 1 as part of the Bible-in-a-year we do each year. And I hate to say it, but some of the minor prophets are so hard to read through, or at least for me. But sometimes, while reading about how God is going to punish disobedient nations, I come to these 'wow' verses that just make me stop in my tracks and really think about how great a God we have that makes things so relevant to us several thousand years later!
Malachi 1: 6-14 talks about how the people showed so little respect for God that they gave blind and lame sacrifices. In fact, God says 'How I wish one of you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered!' He would rather the place of worship be empty than full of people offering half-hearted service! God says that what they were giving, was something that they wouldn't even give their governors, because of how worthless the sacrifice was. 
When I was reading these verses (you should go check them out!) I kind of reworded it in my head and it stung a little to think about how these verses would apply to today: (this is my own wording of these verses, not scripture in the least, please go and read these verses for yourself before taking my word for it!)

God says 
You show respect for your parents, or authorities, but you show no respect for me!
You, the great church go-er says 'How is that possible?!'
You give me worthless worship
'How is that?' you ask
When you go into the house of the Lord, and pretend to love my people but are cursing them on the inside, isn't that wrong? What about the half hearted singing, or your yearning to get out of church so you can get to the restaurant before the other churches let out? There are other people around the world worshiping me, and giving me pure service, but you have no respect. I would rather the church doors be shut than this kind of service be offered. You also dishonor me with your actions. What about when you are outside of the church. Is is okay to sacrifice your time going to church, then turn around and act as if you don't even know me? You argue that worshiping me is too time consuming, and too hard to do, but do you realize that you would give your country better service than me?
How sad it is for those who promise worship with their lips, but turn around and give their hearts to something else!

Hurtful isn't it? I know it's hard to hear, but my prayer is that I'll not just give lip service, but my whole heart over to God. He is the King of kings, and deserves everything, so why should I give him just part of me?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Resolutions: Saving Money

I know money may be a hard subject to talk about right now, especially as you watch it quickly slip away with every person you cross off your Christmas gift list. Because of this,  it is often a resolution to budget better, or save more, so I thought I would share some things that perhaps can help you achieve that goal! I am not boasting to be an expert on the subject at all, just someone sharing tips from personal experience that will hopefully be applicable to your situation as well!

Eating Out:

Do you find yourself just picking up fast food on the way home from work because, well, it's just easier? Not only is this bad on the wallet, but on the waistline as well. If you missed my last blog on being healthy you can find it here (http://ayouthpastorswife.blogspot.com/2013/12/resolutions-being-healthy.html), and in this post I mentioned slow cooker meals, which can be a great help especially if you are a working wife/mom (or even husband/dad) and need something simple and easy. Instead of paying $5-$10 a meal you can spend just a couple of dollars (once the meat/veggies have been divided per person) on a homemade meal that's much healthier.

Even though I stay home, this lesson is still being learned, but for the most part my husband and I have 2 times per week we go out: Friday and Sunday. Even though we go twice, we still try to cut costs by looking for coupons, ordering water, and splitting the meal. Normally we can get out of Chili's for $15!

Grocery shopping:

'You can't just go to Walmart to pick up one thing', I have often heard, and believe it with all my heart. To be honest, I try to avoid the place when possible, but it seems that it has the best prices most of the time, so I am forced to go. To cut down on time and money I only go once week and my husband goes with me. Why is that important? He hates it worse than me! He has one thing on his mind: Go in, get the groceries, get out... He is so focused on the task at hand, that it caused me to start doing something that has really helped our finances.

I make a list based on what I plan to make (I am horrible at meal planning, so I just think of a couple of meals then make sure I have the basics to make other meals as well). If you frequent the store enough times to have its aisles memorized, then you can list your groceries based on where they are in the store (e.g. our store has dairy in the back, then paper goods, then baking supplies, so you would write your list like: milk, paper towels, sugar). This way you only have to walk down the aisles where you need things, and you don't pick up unnecessary things. I also put an estimated price by each item so I can see about how much everything will cost. This helps me determine what is necessary and what is not.

It may take a few minutes more, but you will be surprised at how much it saves. We spend at least $10 less than we did at first, and although that may seem like a little, it adds up fast! However, these are just suggestions, and if you are unable to put as much time and effort in it, don't worry. The main thing is to find what way works best for you. For me, I hate to coupon and have never been great at catching sales, so this method works best.

Saving money is all about thinking ahead, and figuring out what your 'needs' are and what 'wants' you can do without. Because this post has gotten so long, I'll stop here for now, and may do another money saving post at a later time. I'll leave you with this verse, which reminds us that money shouldn't be such a big thing in our lives, and that we have a wonderful Savior who takes care of our needs!

"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5


Friday, December 6, 2013

Resolutions: Being Healthy

I thought the next 'resolutions' post would be about healthy eating/living since I'm pretty horrible at it and want to get it out of the way. When I say horrible, I mean that even though I have made some changes to the way I eat, I still know I'm not eating the healthiest, however I have gotten to where I eat cleaner. Although, let me preface this by saying, I am not one of those, organic, vegan, anti-sugar people (no problem, if you are one, although you are missing out on some wonderful things like microwave popcorn, Steak!, and syrupy sweet tea, just saying). I have just decided to eliminate as many processed foods, or boxed meals as I can on our budget. We normally spend about $40 a week (more about that in my upcoming post on budget...another thing I'm not the best at) so, if I can eat better on a small budget, so can you! Here are some tips that I've found helpful over the past couple of years of married life:

1. Ditch all the boxes!!

Hamburger helper, mac and cheese, tv dinners...ahh the things that make our lives easier! You also hear about all the strange, or horrible ingredients that are contained in them. I don't know how much is true, or horrible (I believe everything in moderation) but I figure, since I'm able to stay at home, I can try to make as many things myself as possible. My husband loves that I make my own mac and cheese, dirty rice, pasta sauce,  and even tortillas. As a disclaimer, we do have boxed mac and cheese every once in a while (we got a grocery pounding, and so hey, I'm not going to let that food go to waste!), but on the whole, my husband would much rather have the homemade, and it doesn't take very long to make so why not have control on what ingredients go in?
If you have resolved to eating healthier, a great way to start is by trying to do more homemade things and less going out to eat, or tv dinners. I know that if you are a working mom or don't have a lot of time on your hands, Pinterest can be your friend when it comes to healthy crock pot meals (I also have a link to a couple of meals that take 30min or less to put together:http://ayouthpastorswife.blogspot.com/2013/05/a-newlyweds-approach-to-cooking.html, you will see that I use some canned tomato sauce, and even canned pizza dough, but this can be substituted for homemade)


2. Make all the substitutions!

This a bit of a no-brainer, but it can be pretty pricy to switch from margarine to real butter, from normal to organic stuff. And actually unless it's on sale, I normally don't. I do look at sales papers, and during the holidays, especially, I'll buy real butter (and freeze all that I can), and ingredients to make healthier meals (like sweet potatoes instead of normal ones).
Also you can switch to spicing up your water (with things like lemons or strawberries) instead of cokes(cokes is southern for sodas). This lessens your sugar intake and makes coke an actual treat when you do have one, instead of being a necessity. And for you southern folks, maybe 1 or 2 glasses of sweet tea instead of 4 or 5? If that's too big of a change, maybe slowly lesson the amount of sugar you put in, so that it's not quite so bad! You can also substitute chips and other snacks for fruit, nuts and healthier snacks. Another no brain-er but when there's junk in the house, I'm always going to choose it to snack on rather than perhaps an apple. Make junky items as scarce as possible, so you will be less tempted to grab (this is something I'm still working on!), and put healthier items in its place.
You've heard this verse before: 'Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,  for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.' I Corinthians 6:19-20. This is a great verse when trying to motivate yourself to eat healthier. Being healthy can help you spiritually! If you are constantly focused on food and sweets, you may be making it your god. Also, if we tell God that we give him our lives in service to him, how can we fulfill that, if our bodies are in service to something else?

 

 3. Do all the exercise!

This is my greatest weakness. I hate exercising!! I was made to bike a few miles a day at one time and because I was told to do it, and had no one to converse with (I am a social exercising person) I quickly developed a great distaste for it, and thus exercising all together. Once my friend suggested doing the indoor workouts together, I liked it much better, and still do that type today. Even though I do it by myself and don't like doing exercise alone, I try to squeeze in at least a 20min if not 30min workout per day (gym people, please don't hate me! This is seriously the longest I can go so far. I would like to work my way to doing it for longer!). I have said all this to say, if you hate doing it alone, get a workout partner! If you hate doing it with someone, find a way to do a private workout! The most important thing is to stick with it (another of my greatest weaknesses, and the reason I've put on pounds after my marriage).

I hope these tips help you stay healthy during the holiday season, and throughout the new year!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Resolutions: How to blog!

Have you ever wanted to start blogging, but are just unsure where to begin, what to write about, etc, etc.? I recently got asked to write a blog post on how to start a blog. I was so excited to get such a request because I love it when I get feedback from people who read my blog (okay, so it was family who asked, but hey it still excited me!). I thought I would make it into a series-ish thing and perhaps talk about budget, healthy eating?, reading the Bible more, etc. If you have a particular thing that you have resolved to do this next year, and would like my two cents I would love to hear about it!

If you've told yourself that this next year you would like to start a blog, but unsure where to start, here are some things I hope will help!

1. Figure out what you want to write about:
To me this is the most important, because what you are wanting to write about will be the motivation you need to keep going. I love to write, and what better way than to blog (although I still love to sit and write fiction on college ruled notebook paper whenever I get a new idea). I love to share Jesus, so that became my motivation. Even though I like to throw in some recipes, and would eventually like to throw in some diy's my main goal, my main focus in this blog is to help your relationship with God (and mine too!). There are other things to write about: your kids, travels, short stories, crafts, the topics are endless.

2. Figure what blog hosting site to use:
Since I use Blogger, I will talk about it more, however, if you would like to use a different site that's fine! I don't have any pros or cons for you, because I have only ever used Blogger. To use it, I would suggest having a gmail account, and then following their instruction for building a blog. It's easy to change the layout and add things like  'most popular posts' 'follow button', etc. Some things I have had a hard time with, is the Pinterest button. I am a low tech kind of a girl, so I have still to figure out how I can Pin separate blog posts.

Once you've written a few posts and don't want the older ones to get hidden away by your new ones, you can go to pages,  go to new page, and write titles for the page (like Home, About Me, Recipes, etc.) and type what the blog post is called underneath, take your mouse and highlight the word, click link, and copy and paste the link to the blog post you want. When someone else clicks on the link it will open a new window to where you want them to go. This principal is used here: http://ayouthpastorswife.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_15.html  (sorry, but I don't know why the one link is blue...like I said, I'm a low tech girl!)

If you want to earn a little money, you can sign up for ad-sense. I haven't done so just for the fact that I want full control of what goes on my blog, and until I have enough viewers to warrant me letting companies display ads on there, I will wait.
There are other things you can change, like the background, how your posts are laid out, etc. but I think playing around with it will help you more than me ending up making you more confused than when you got on here! There is something that I would like to tell you about though, and it comes under:

3. Figure out how you want your blog to look:
There are different themes you can have through blogger, but they just aren't quite as fun as: http://thecutestblogontheblock.com/, where you can get free backgrounds and banners for blogger, and I believe for WordPress as well. Thankfully I don't have to give a long tutorial on it since they give fairly detailed instructions on how to use it (hey, if I can do it, you can!). Just one tip: it's best to copy and paste near the bottom of the layout of your blog (this sentence will make more sense once you read their instructions.) This site is just my suggestion, feel free to get as creative as you like!

4. Have fun!
Explore blogger, check out other blogs for inspiration, and have fun writing whatever it is that you are passionate about! Don't worry about how many views you have (at least not too much...I tend to look a lot). If you share on Facebook when you write a new post, it will remind your viewers to go and check your blog. If you have questions, feel free to comment below...happy blogging!

Budget Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Note: Amazon links are affiliated After sharing non-toy gift ideas, and the few things I am getting my kids for Christma s, you may ...