God's Heart for You.

Started by Judy Harder, September 13, 2011, 07:08:44 AM

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Judy Harder

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
~ Helen Keller

She's looking me dead in the eyes when she speaks, a gaze so deeply penetrating its intensity makes me want to look away...but I can't.

"God is getting ready to do a work in you not possible when you're living in your comfort zone," she tells me when I confide my secret.  And to my concerns she says, "And He's going to meet your husband and turn him inside out when he's alone and questioning what in the world he's doing."

She speaks with such conviction and great assurance ~ a relative stranger! ~ but I want to believe her.  I do believe her. You see,

my husband and I have learned it's not in the easy times we've grown spiritually, it's during those difficult seasons of struggle...

...when we want to go back to "Egypt," to the familiar; not because we liked it but because we knew what to expect.

At mid-life, an adventure has been given to us, a door not merely opened but flung off the hinges, and our only response is to step into the unknown.
My husband has accepted a new job; it begins with a  year assignment in Germany. We leave in three weeks.

I'm writing weeks before this is published but we've known this secret was a possibility for quite a while before that.  I've been a pressure cooker on the verge of exploding keeping this inside so long.

Logistics are still uncertain; how much time I'll spend with him and what portion of the year our children will join us are the biggest considerations.  But this I know:

God has lavishly gifted us with opportunity and we're humbled and grateful.

For two decades, my husband has worked for a paper manufacturer; a dying industry.  Through his company's four-year bankruptcy and several rounds of layoffs he's at least kept his job.  But working for a company with limited resources and sensing it wouldn't be around at the end of his career gave him reason to keep his eyes open for something else.  Like countless others, we've learned "something else" is elusive.  He's sent out dozens of resumes, interviewed a place or two, but mostly it's been...disheartening.  Defeating at times.

We've struggled with that. Friends have gone months–years–without jobs!  So how dare we complain, even if it's just to each other!  Heap guilt on top of frustration.

But the truth is a man's identity is tightly interlaced with his job; if his work life is suffering, he is suffering. Regardless of our desire to fix our eyes on Christ and to be grateful for a job, it has been a challenge.   Add searching for a church home for the past year and additional relational challenges, and for me this has been

a desert season.
Yes, we've had provision; I'm mindful of the countless reasons to be thankful...

But our reality has still been peppered with void, loss, conflict, disappointment and discouragement at times.
Sometimes the hardest part of my life as a Believer is the inner struggle of knowing I'm blessed with every Spiritual blessing, understanding I'm wealthy when compared with the World's economy...yet allowing myself the truth, conflict and struggle of my reality.  Again, how dare I? Yet, it IS my reality.

The beauty of faith's paradox is even in seemingly undesirable circumstances, God is accomplishing a work of His choosing.
In an upside-down Kingdom way, Ancient Words have given me the greatest peace; when I didn't like or resisted circumstance, THIS truth soothed my heart:

"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the Lord.  "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts...." ~ Isaiah 55:8-9

There is great freedom in believing God has my best interests at heart, and in surrendering my need to understand.
* * * * * * * * * * *

When my husband got the job offer, I cried.  I don't think I've ever been happier for him.

This is about more than a job; it is a Very Kind Gift; unexpected and generous.

First response is to romanticize this amazing opportunity, to see only the "good" parts.  And while those things overflow in abundance, my stranger-friend's words at the beginning of this post linger ~

My husband will be separated from family and home for months at a time.
Challenging new job, foreign language, VERY different culture.
I'll be traveling back and forth multiple times this year...and I HATE to fly :/.
Adventure is the One Word that will define 2012 for me.  A month ago that word was prompted because of my husband's job change; but more recently the Lord challenged me to know Him better this year, reminding me (again) in a very different way that real life is not about my circumstances.

I value the prayers of our (in) community. There are countless details yet to learn and decisions still to be made, but mostly would you pray that through our circumstances that God would reveal Himself to us in greater measure and continue His transforming work for our good, His glory and the advance of the Gospel?
If you've chosen One Word for this year, might you share it in comments or let me know how to pray for you?  (And...if you have any advice for living abroad, oh, how I welcome your suggestions!)
By Robin Dance.  You're graciously invited to follow her Adventures in Germany at PENSIEVE.

Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Judy Harder

Funny Walk
Jan 07, 2012  Angela Nazworth

I am not sure how the conversation got started. A few co-workers and I were chatting during lunch and someone jokingly did an impersonation of my walk. Another co-worker laughed and confirmed that I do indeed sometimes carry myself in an unusual way.

The potato-sized lump that formed in my throat prevented me from responding with more than a forced smile and a few jovial remarks. I knew that my co-workers meant no harm with their comments. They weren't taunting me or even making fun ... but they did, unknowingly, hit a nerve that has been raw for nearly 30 years.

When I was in third grade, another student said that I walked like a "hot-shot" because I held my head too high and swung my arms with gusto. Mortified that my walk had made someone else feel inferior, I reacted drastically. I was, after all, only eight ... I didn't realize that my well-meaning attempt to boost someone's ego would prove detrimental to my own image and esteem. Since my carefree style was the cause of conflict, I adopted a closed posture. I balled my fingers into tight fists and held them close to my side, this caused my shoulders to tense and hunch slightly forward (similar to the girl pictured in the upper right ... only not so cute). The posture became a habit and that's how I stood and walked until I reached high school. My classmates made fun of me and my walk was even made into a junior high dance move called "The Fulkroad." (Fulkroad is my maiden name).

For years, I worked on retraining myself how to walk and finally shed the penguin poise that was so natural. Apparently, however, I didn't completely erase that habit. When I am not thinking about it ... or when I am particularly stressed or intense, my shoulders chase my ears and my inner penguin takes center stage.

Being struck with the knowledge that I didn't completely shed my funny walk reminds me of the other habits that I thought I've conquered, but haven't really. Sometimes ... usually when my guard is down ... a dormant habit awakens with a fresh boldness that leaves me sickened and stunned.

Tendencies to believe lies over truth.

Materialistic inclinations.

Quests for control and perfection.

Cravings for validation from peers.

The list continues and each item on that list hurts. It hurts to know that those weaknesses are still a part of me. Yet, as much as those struggles are mine, they do not define me ... just as my funny walk doesn't define who I am.

And just as I was not alone when I was that girl with an awkward gait to correct ... I am not alone now as a flawed woman determined to banish old habits of my spirit. Knowing that my journey is part of a holy refinement process gives me the strength to move forward with hope knowing that God will be glorified.

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 1:13 NASB

Do you have any sensitive nerves like that – easily triggered even though you're grown up?

Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Judy Harder

A Sunday Scripture

Jan 08, 2012  incourage

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news,

who proclaim peace,

who bring good tidings,

who proclaim salvation,

who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

~ Isaiah 52:7.


Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Judy Harder

On Friendships {Part 2} Build an Automatic Bench

Jan 09, 2012  The Nester

This post is part two of a series on friendship, you can read the first post here.

Remember that book Automatic Millionaire?

The book was about setting up automatic contributions to savings accounts and such so that without much thought, your wealth would build, automatically. You know, because left to our own devices of actually manually moving money every month into a savings account, most of us might forget or find something more fun to do with our money.

One of my secrets to friend making is to automate it.

Stick with me, it makes sense and isn't near as rude as it sounds.

After 38 years of being me, I've come to accept the fact that rarely will I be the person to plan lots of random, fun outings to do with friends. But, I am good at showing up to a regularly scheduled event.  So, I've come up with a scheme plan.

My sister has a much more poetic name for this type of intentional people gathering activity, she calls it building a bench. I currently have 3 friendship benches and they are all automated.

1. Thursdays {yep, every ding dong Thursday}

I think Caroline might have instigated this one.  So this group of women I've been falling in love with all get together ONCE A WEEK?!  I said no forever.  Then Caroline said she'd pick me up. I dreaded going.  I'm BUSY.  I have 12 days a month, remember? And if I use 3 hours on a Thursday that whittles my month down to 9 or 10ish days.  {because I am mathy I count my getting ready time as taking away from my work, hate me}. So as much as I wanted to go I could hardly STAND leaving my work for this. I mean I need friends but no one I know is leaving their full time job in the middle of the day to come hang out with these women, even if they are amazing.

But.  I could.  I COULD leave and hang out.  So I did. After 3 times I was hooked. Every now and then I still have to miss but, I look forward to going and I don't want to miss it.  Thursday's are where the real bonding happens because we go around the room and talk about our good/bad/ugly for that week.  We commiserate.  We realate. We support.  We laugh. We cry. We let our guard down and show our imperfection all over the place. Why didn't I say yes sooner?

2. Craft Day {once a month}

My friend Reeve intiated this one.  And she pretty much plans it. And she tells everyone when to come.  And she made the pinboard with the craft idea.  Ok, the only thing I do is host it at my house–BUT, that ensures that I attend.  And I LOVE attending.  Bonus tip:: recruit a friend to partner with in planning an on-going event and each of you do tasks according to your strengths. You don't have to have a craft day just consider doing something that you enjoy.  Maybe you have a day a month automatcially set up where you meet some friends for lunch with the kids at Chick-fil-a.  Maybe you meet and walk together.  Maybe you start a bookclub. The idea is to plan it ahead so you don't have to think about it that much.  Hey Reeve, we should make sure to plan our Craft day on the same Tuesday so we don't even have to think about it!

3. Community Group {twice a month}

My husband is my partner in crime for this one. He sends out the emails and prepares. I just make sure the bathrooms are clean, I've had a shower, and we have brownies.  Done.  Instant friendship opps.

The key is to make getting together your default. You want to set it up so you have to go to trouble to say NO not go to trouble to say YES. {That tip is only for introverts like me who sometimes dread the initial work of getting together with friends, if you are an extreme extrovert you might want to make your default a NO so as not to over extend yourself.}

Stay tuned, we still have a few friendy things to cover like moving from small talk to big talk and making couple friends.

Benches curtesy of terrain.

So, what tips do you have for automating friend-making?

By the Nester, introvert, but determined friend-maker

Trapped Financially? Jesus Can Redeem Your Budget Too
Jan 09, 2012  Kelly Hancock

Are your Christmas credit card bills coming in? Are you experiencing buyer's remorse?

Hi, I'm Kelly Hancock, and I'm so excited to be talking with Bloom readers today about my book, Saving Savvy: Smart and Easy Ways to Cut Your Spending in Half and Raise Your Standard of Living...and Giving!

To be quite honest, I wasn't always so savvy about saving. In my previous life, before children, I was a top sales rep for a Fortune 500 company. I didn't have to watch my money, or so I thought. My husband and I lived without a budget, and when we wanted something we bought it—including a home that required both of our paychecks to make the monthly mortgage. I innocently assumed that I would always work. Little did I realize that once my daughter was born, all I would want to do would be to stay home with her.

When that happened, I found myself in a new place—it was no longer a place of freedom, it was a place of bondage. Financially, I felt trapped. I was trapped by our lifestyle, trapped by the mortgage that demanded my income.

But as my husband and I began praying about moving to a single income, we both felt the same gentle tug on our hearts, urging us to take a leap of faith. This was not an easy decision or one that came lightly. It was the hardest one of our lives. But it was the best decision we ever made.

Once we made the decision that I would come home, I was excited, but I really dreaded the financial impact on our lives. Financial difficulties are the number one cause of problems in marriage, and Bradford and I both come from broken homes. I was bringing home half of our income, and without it, we were barely going to get by each month.

But there's a really nifty little thing—that a lot of people overlook—that's called a budget. Once my husband and I sat down to try to see what our lives would look like on one income, we realized that we were throwing a lot of money away. A light bulb went on, like a surge of hope, and I began to believe we could really do this. A friend began to mentor me in couponing and shopping sales—and I was on my way to saving money. I tell the whole story of my revolution in thinking—as well as what happened after we made that leap of faith, and a short time later, my husband lost his job—in my book, Saving Savvy.

Today however, I'm wondering: What's holding you back from saving money? Do you even know how much you spend? Do this for me today: Take a look at bank statements and your checkbook register. How much are you spending at the grocery store and on eating out? Once you get a number on it, meet me back here every day this week. I'll be talking about things like meal planning, stockpiling, and even clipping coupons. I'm going to give you some tips that will take your number and begin cutting it down. Way down.

Prayer for today: Lord, you are Jehovah Jireh, the Lord my Provider. Forgive me when I am wasteful with the provisions you give me. As I look at my spending today, reveal to me your plan for being a good steward of the money You give us. I believe that when I ask You for wisdom, You will show me how (James 1:5). In Jesus' name, Amen.

Check out Kelly's money-saving blog, Faithful Provisions, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter for great tips and tools that will save you even more money.

ENTER TO WIN TODAY'S GIVEAWAY: Finish this sentence in a comment below, and you'll be entered to win one of two copies of Kelly's book, Saving Savvy: "If I had an extra $250 a month, I would ________."

I need to admit something.

I might be a pretty good mother, and intentional about many important things, but there is one area that I just cannot seem to conquer.  I worry.

I claim to trust God with my children.  I know that God loves my children even more than I do, and I know that even my parenting is not something I do alone, but something I do with guidance and grace.

However, I can't seem to rid myself of that awful, nagging certainty that I'm fighting a losing battle.

I have seen it with my own eyes.  I have heard the stories.  Good kids from good homes who end up pregnant in high school – in middle school, no less.  Kids who grow up in the church only to end up leaving it once they get out on their own.  Sweet and inquisitive kids who end up becoming apathetic adults at best.

I hate myself for this feeling.  I want to be more positive and I want to have more faith that God can and will do a good work through my children, yet I find myself feeling like their future hangs on every decision – homeschool or public school?  Are we reading the Bible enough?  Spanking or time-outs?  Then there are the constant comments about "pastor's kids" and somewhere along the way I start to feel like my kids are doomed.

Well, the other night, God decided he had had enough.

Don't ask me what time it was.  All I remember is that it was dark.  I was rocking my son, hoping he would go to sleep, and somewhere in between the grogginess and the creaking of the rocking chair, I started to worry.

What if it's not enough?  What if despite all my efforts, my children still end up walking away from faith, from God?  And that most nagging question of all: How do I raise my children to live in the world, but not of it?  After all, the world just seems too big, too tempting, and everywhere I look it appears to be winning.

Then, suddenly, it hit me.  "In this world you will find trouble.  But take heart, I have overcome the world!"

And all that worry, all that wringing of hands, suddenly left me.  Suddenly it was just me and my infant son in that room, in that rocking chair, with only truth for company.

The truth that God is bigger.   That yes, the world appears to be winning, but God already won.

I know my children will still have to make their own choices, but I have a reason to hope.  Because even though the world is scary, I believe in a God that is bigger.  And even though the enemy is real, my God is stronger.  And even though the culture we live in is full of lies, the God I serve is nothing but truth.

The world might be big, but my God overcame it.  And I'm on the winning side.

By Meredith,  Love Rises Up

Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Judy Harder

Meal Planning: A Budget Game-Changer
Jan 10, 2012 Kelly Hancock

If you joined me yesterday, then I hope that you were able to find a little bit of time to go over your own grocery spending so that you came up with a nice round number that we can work with this week.

There is one way that you can cut that number down significantly, and actually, this is crucial when it comes to saving money: Meal Planning. (You thought I was going to say coupons, didn't you?) Before you ever clip the first coupon, you want to get your head around meal planning.

Not many people go to the store with a list, but even fewer people go to the store knowing what they are going to be eating for the  week ahead. Once you begin to meal plan, you'll wonder how you ever lived without doing it! And you will be quite surprised at how much money, time, and aggravation you will save. The real bonus? Having a plan for dinner means you are going to be providing your family with an opportunity for time together. Here are a few simple steps that will help you get started.

Look at the calendar. First, you look at your schedule. For young families, you will probably be at home most nights. As your children begin to get older and involved in more activities of their own, you may only be planning for a few nights a week when everyone is at home together. So take a look at the calendar, and see how many meals you actually need to plan. Let's say that my family is going to be home all week, but one night my husband is going out of town. That sounds like a night that the kids and I will go somewhere fun so that I don't have to cook. So, I will only be preparing for six meals this week. If that is overwhelming to you, then just pick two nights and meal plan. Once you see the benefits, you will be more convinced how important it is.

Check your pantry and freezer. After I do that, I check my pantry and freezer for what I already have on hand for meal preparation. For example, if I have pasta and tomato sauce in the pantry and ground beef in the freezer, then I know that I can jot down "spaghetti" on my meal plan. I've got everything I need for that, and I just need sides, so I'm down to five meals. Also, I have a roast in the freezer. I'll be able to cook that once, and morph the leftovers into at least two more meals. Wow—now I'm down to needing to shop for only two meals.

What's on sale? The next thing I'm going to do is check my store's sales ad and see what they are offering on sale this week. Chicken? Fish? Whatever they have at a rock-bottom price is how we will round-out our menu. You'll find more tips on meal planning and some of my own weekly meal plans, with recipes included, in my book, Saving Savvy.

To get you started, I've got several tools, articles, and other free resources on my meal-planning page (including the free downloadable Meal Planning Calendar pictured at the top of this post). Tomorrow I'll share more tips on how to navigate those store sales successfully, so that you not only spend less, but you get the very most for your money.

Prayer for today: Father, my Jehovah-Shalom, the Lord of peace—only You can restore order to my home. Forgive me for not recognizing the importance of our family time. I commit to you to be more purposeful in providing nourishment for those you have entrusted in my care. By your promises, I know You will honor my commitment to this family ritual and strengthen our home (Proverbs 14:1). In Jesus' name, Amen.

Check out Kelly's money-saving blog, Faithful Provisions, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter for great tips and tools that will save you even more money.

ENTER TO WIN TODAY'S GIVEAWAY: Finish this sentence in a comment below, and you'll be entered to win one of two copies of Kelly's book, Saving Savvy: "My meal plan for tonight is __________, but I wish we were having ___________!"


Redefining Success
Mary Carver

This time last year, I cracked open a new journal and turned the page in a new calendar. I opened documents and drafted posts and wrote lists with new pens in pretty colors.

Of course I did. How else would I capture my resolutions for the new year?

Sometimes, it's true, I write tasks on my to-do list simply for the pleasure and accomplishment of then crossing them off. But in general I make lists because without them, I don't know what I'm doing or where I'm going or why on earth I shouldn't spend my hours reading ridiculous novels and watching reruns on the couch.

And when it comes to the more important things in life – my goals, my dreams and my responsibilities – I know the only way to get started and get anything done is to write it all down.

Looking back on my goals for 2011, I can only conclude that I felt good last January. I felt ambitious and capable and determined. I resolved to do many big things, many important [to me] things. And now that another twelve months have passed, I'm forced to evaluate my progress.

Lose a lot of weight
Run a half marathon
Run a 5K
Write a book proposal
Read the entire Bible
Go on monthly dates with my husband
Hmmm . . . let's see. I don't really want to talk about the first one, and as you can see, I revised my running goal to 3.2 miles instead of 13.1. I did work out for several months on a regular basis (uncommon for me), but when it came time for the 5K, I walked about three of those 3.2 miles. I didn't write a book proposal, and I stopped reading my One Year Bible a few months into the year. And those monthly dates? I haven't stopped to count, but I'm pretty sure they didn't happen more often than they did.

But is that the only way to look at my goals and the progress I've made?

I hope not. Because the picture I've painted so far is one of failure and disappointment. And that's not really a good way to start a new year. As I examine my past year and what I've accomplished – or not – it's easy to focus on tiny bits and pieces of giving up and it's too hard and I just can't do it. What happens, though, if I look at the whole picture?

I see that, for the first time in my life (or at least since I was a teenager), I exercised on a regular basis. And while I had tons of amazing support from several friends, I did it on my own. Most often in the mornings, which – as some of you might know – are not my favorite.
I remember that even though I didn't run for miles at any point in time, I did run. I did run.
And while I didn't write a book proposal, despite the not-just-one-but-two e-books I bought about writing book proposals, I did write an e-book.
I didn't read the entire Bible, but I joined a Bible study at our new church, worked on verse memorization with my daughter and am looking forward to reading the entire New Testament this spring.
Twelve dates would not have seemed like a lot a few years ago. But now that babysitters, night shifts and a number of other road blocks are part of our everyday marriage, it's hard to make it happen. My husband and I keep trying, though – and we did spend time together several times last year. (I can't decide which is the more significant part of this resolution – that we keep trying or that we succeeded in part. I think I'll just be satisfied that I have two things to be happy about!)
A few months ago a good friend asked me a simple question that has really altered the way I think about my goals. She said, "What if you redefine success?"

Redefining success doesn't mean giving up on my goals or cutting myself so much slack that I never change or move or act. It doesn't mean throwing away dreams or resolutions. What it means to me is looking at the individual steps involved in each of my dreams and setting out to do the next thing. And even if that next thing is not a best-selling book or a 100-lb. weight loss or a marathon medal around my neck, as long as I took that step, then I've succeeded.

My goals are pretty much the same this year as they were last year (including the ever-present "remember to floss every day," which has plagued me my entire adult life). But this time I'm going to count it success every time I take one of those small steps or do the next thing.

Did you make resolutions last year? How did you do? Can you count the small and large successes as you make your way toward your goals?

Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Judy Harder

Secrets to Successful Couponing: Tips, Tricks, and Tools
Jan 12, 2012  Kelly Hancock

It's true: While there are lots of ways that you can save money without ever clipping a coupon, like meal-planning and stockpiling, you can save a lot of money, up to 75% off your grocery budget, when you incorporate coupons into your savings plan. The trick is in keeping them organized and using them strategically. If you don't do these two things, you are better off focusing on meal planning and stockpiling.

A lot of people don't want to go to the trouble that couponing involves, and I hear reasons from people all the time on why they don't use them. But the truth is, coupons can save you a lot of money if you are willing to make a little bit of an investment in them on the front end. Coupons aren't necessary to save, but they are one more tool in your savings arsenal that will pay huge dividends if used properly.

Here are five tips to successful couponing:

1.  Be Organized – Only use coupons if you are going to keep them organized, preferably in some kind of filing system. I was at a friend's house one day, and she was somewhat irritated as she told me how coupons were not working for her. I asked her where she kept her coupons, and she pulled out a drawer in her kitchen that was literally filled with coupons. They were clipped, but they were just all thrown in there. It was pretty obvious why the coupons weren't working for her. She just needed to get them organized. There are two ways to do this: Clip and File or Clip as You Go. You can easily find the coupons you want by using the Faithful Provisions Coupon Database.

2.  Only use coupons with sale items – Lots of people tell me that they don't use coupons because they always use the store brand, and it always beats the name brand price, even with a coupon. Well, that's when you use a coupon by itself. What you want to do is combine a coupon with a sale.

3.  Get multiple coupon inserts – It's okay to purchase more than one Sunday paper. In fact, I recommend that you buy one paper per family member. In order to save the most, you want to get multiples of items when they are on sale so you can stockpile. You can only use one manufacturer coupon per item, so the more coupons you have, the more of  each item you can purchase.

I've got lots more tips on couponing in Saving Savvy, including information on stacking, sample deal scenarios, and how to tell the difference between a blinkie and a catalina! Plus, you can always find lots of help with couponing on my site, Faithful Provisions, where we do all the work of matching the store sales with current available coupons. Come on back tomorrow, when I'll be sharing one of my favorite ways to save money. Chances are great that it's something you've already got right in your kitchen—you just may have overlooked it.

Prayer for today: You are El Shaddai, Almighty God! I trust You with my eternity, but forgive me when I don't give you my today. I'm sorry, Lord. O Lord, how hard can this be? I know that nothing is impossible for You. I know that You will give me what I need to do what You have called me to do.  You've offered to trade Your strength for my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). I'm taking You up on it. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Check out Kelly's money-saving blog, Faithful Provisions, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter for great tips and tools that will save you even more money.

ENTER TO WIN TODAY'S GIVEAWAY: Finish this sentence in a comment below, and you'll be entered to win one of two copies of Kelly's book, Saving Savvy: "I wish there were coupons for free  ________."


Your Place At The Table

I've spent years covering my doubt that true community could really be out there. Long ago, I just decided to settle for what I'd come to believe through the years is true about community. That it's not real. That once I put my heart out there, someone would crush it. Or ignore it altogether.

I've been through the disappointments, and I know what it's like to arrive at the decision to check out and just let the other girls play. So when I tell you the rumors are true, and that true community really IS out there, I'm praying you're not clenching your jaw and stirring the mortar for the next brick in your wall.

The truth is we're all people and we've made messes, and when community is at it best, the mess is just a place to rest your feet while you share a cup of coffee, or lean in closer to hear the story, or touch a shoulder while you pray, or laugh until you can't catch your breath and the smiling makes your cheeks hurt.

It's walking into a crowded room and seeing someone wildly waving at you from a table near the buffet, and after you make your way over and sit down in the cushioned chair and spread your napkin across your lap, having that someone lean over and whisper in your ear, "I'm so glad you're here! I saved this place at the table just for you."


Save More Money: Stock Ahead With Store Sales
Jan 11, 2012  Kelly Hancock

Maybe you've seen those couponers on TV with their carts piled high with more mustard or toothpaste than any family could go through over the next 20 years. If so, you need to know that is not what I'm talking about when I use the term "stockpiling."

Today I want to talk to you about how to take advantage of store sales in order to really cut your grocery budget down.

Have a Grocery Budget Set. Remember when I asked you to determine how much you spend at the grocery? You need to know how much you are spending. You need to know where you are now, so you can determine where you want to be.  If you don't know where you started, you'll never feel a sense of accomplishment to know how far you've come. So first, set a realistic amount for how much you want to budget.  Then, decide what goes on your list this week: your needs versus stockpiling items.

List Needs and Stockpile Opportunities. Your list should start with the staples you purchase each week like milk, eggs, and produce, and then you add the items that round out your meal plan. Lastly, your remaining budget will go toward stockpile items–or staple items that are a great deal. For example, in yesterday's sample scenario, I said that I would need to purchase items for two more meals. I'll determine what we're eating by what's on sale.

Use Remaining Budget For Stocking Up. So, let's say my grocery budget is $100 a week. I only need $25 for two extra meals plus our produce and dairy items. That leaves me with $75 that I can spend stocking ahead on other items the grocer has listed at a sale price, or any close-out deals or manager's specials that I happen to come across. When you get started, you may need $75 of your budget going toward things you need this week. If that's the case, then you will spend the remaining $25 of your budget on stocking ahead.

Lowering Overall Budget. As you begin to create a stockpile, you can slowly start to decrease your budget a little every few weeks because you have most everything you need. Your "needs" on the list will begin to shrink and the majority of each week's budget will be spent on items that are a really good deal, at "rock-bottom" prices – your stockpile.

If you're unsure what those rock-bottom prices are, use the Provisions Price List on my website, available as a free download and as a free iPhone App. Or you can create your own personal price list with this free download. For more secrets to stockpiling, get a copy of my book, Saving Savvy.

I hope you'll join me here again tomorrow. I'll be talking about couponing, and sharing five tips that will help you cut your grocery bill by up to 75%.

Prayer for today: Lord, You are El Roi, the God Who Sees. You see our needs. You see with a wisdom that prepares for tomorrow.  Forgive me when I don't think about the ongoing needs of my family. I know that You think of me, You see me, because You provide for me. Lord equip me, I want my family to know that I think of them, that I notice their needs, and I do my best to provide for them. (Proverbs 31:15). No more midnight shopping trips! In Jesus' name, Amen.

Check out Kelly's money-saving blog, Faithful Provisions, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter for great tips and tools that will save you even more money.


More His Plans
Jan 11, 2012 Jennifer

I am a planner, a list maker, a 'I like to know what is going to happen before it happens' type of person. I totally get the excitement around the first of the year. It is a new beginning. A fresh start of our plans for the upcoming year. A time to make new lists! But really, no matter how many plans we have, how many lists we make, our path is not our own. He has already made our plans. He knows our path.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

For the first time, as this new year begins, I am thinking of this time in a whole new way. I am more excited about the plans He has for me than any list of plans I can make for myself. This verse doesn't talk about God knowing the plans that we have for ourselves. They are His plans for us. We are precious and honored in His sight. He loves us.

He has better and bigger plans for me than I can even imagine ! He gives us more than we can hope for! I know I just need to get myself out of the way. I need to be open. I need to listen. I need to be patient.

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him. Psalm 37:7

Less me, more Him.

Less my plans, more His plans.

Less when I want it, more His perfect timing.

I know it may not be easy to let go those ideas that I can control everything. But I do know what a weight off my shoulders it will be. We follow His lead to the "next step," the next best thing for us. We trust. So often it is all about trust. That trust gives us hope in our future. There is so much we do not know and do not understand. HE is taking care of it all. HE does not make mistakes. He has a reason for everything. Each season in our life is made perfect in His timing with His plans for His purpose.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1

God is great and God has great things in store for each of us. He has a plan for us to shine His light the brightest. Our future and our dreams are safe in His hands.

Can you even imagine the plans He has for you!? Do you have a whisper of what His plans are for you this year?

By Jennifer, StudioJRU

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Broken Pots
Jan 11, 2012  Lynette Carpenter

Having been raised by the hot-glue-gun-queen who saw something salvageable in every collectible she owned, I had taken a different route than my mother.  If stuff was damaged, I tossed it.  "Life's too short to deal with broken junk" became my motto, so when I was challenged at a women's retreat to break a piece of pottery... and then glue it back together... on purpose, I began to question just what kind of nutcases were running the show!

I was told it would be therapeutic.  The process of breaking a piece of clay would aid in "healing deep hurts and buried grief".  Personally, I thought it was crazy.  Breaking a perfectly good piece of pottery didn't jive with my too-practical personality – but I went along with it.
Placing my pitcher in a plastic sack, I raised it up in the air, cringed, and slammed it against the ground.  The clanking sound of broken pottery left a heaviness in my heart that surprised me. I began to realize that maybe those "nutcases" were onto something!

Piece by piece I saw parallels of life in that broken pottery.   We start out with pristine perfection -a life of value and beauty.  Time goes by and if life's experiences don't slowly chip away at us; it's the crushing blows against the pavement that finally does us in.

My heart ached for the girl I once was – the perfect, carefree life without its flaws and imperfections.   To me, the past was where my value was. Situations and circumstances had changed who I was, and I couldn't say that I particularly loved the scars my heart now held.

I turned the broken shards carefully in my hands, careful not to cut myself.  Some pieces made no sense to me, and to be honest, I didn't know where to begin with putting the pitcher back together.   But slowly and methodically, I became familiar with each piece and with great care began to restore the pot back to its original shape.

Tears formed in my eyes when I realized that God Himself knows each intimate part of my life – enough to be able to rebuild it again. By the time I had finished recreating the broken pitcher, I had come to love it more than ever. The slices on my fingers stood to prove that my own rough edges had certainly hurt my Jesus, still He hadn't given up on me.

One area bothered me though.  Towards the bottom of the pitcher was a hole.  The pieces that belonged there had been crushed beyond repair.  As I debated over how to repair it, God spoke to my heart, "It is here My light can shine through the brightest."

Suddenly the jagged, ugly hole didn't look so horrid anymore, nor did the imperfections on my own heart!  In that moment it became clearer than ever before -true beauty shines brighter through brokenness!

The pitcher now holds a place of honor on my dining room table.  Each time I look at it, it reminds me of the value I hold in Jesus' eyes, and it challenges me to let His light shine through my life.

The thirty pieces of silver used to betray Jesus eventually bought "the potter's field".  The Potter's field was a place to discard the damaged, broken and rejected pots.  What appeared to hold little value to many gives hope today to those whose lives are reflect those pots.  Jesus purchased the potter's field with His life and like my mother with her hot glue gun, He sees worth in our brokenness.

Lynette at Walking On Water

Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Judy Harder

Taken By Surprise
Jan 13, 2012  Pauline Sinn

I run. Whenever I can. But no longer do I run along the gorgeous streets in Australia. Oh how I miss those... Instead I am running around in circles in Indonesia. Literally.

It's a little dull. In fact, incredibly monotonous. As I bound around a track where I live, I see the same guards, people, plants, buildings...every run. The most exciting part is passing the lobby every lap, because I get to dodge taxis, buses, cars, guards and dozens of school children. But it's always the same.

So I was astounded this week when something looked different. Right next to the grey path. I could see a haze of bright pink on the grass. It was stunning. And surprising.

I looked for the source of this beauty. Under the leaves of a rather simple looking tree, were the most beautiful flowers. I don't think I had ever seen such a flower before. They captivated me.

How had I missed them? They must have been under the canopy for some time, yet it wasn't until the petals dropped to the ground that I noticed. I would have missed this moment of beauty otherwise. Which made me wonder.

What are you missing? What beauty is before you that you are failing to see? Everything feels the same but you have missed something gorgeous. In a person who is familiar? Maybe your husband, or your child. Are you still looking for the beauty in them? I want to be looking. Or perhaps, like me, you make assumptions about your environment. Fail to see the new, the surprising.

And can you see what remains after that blur of pink dresses the green below? Exquisite cups of grace. Left to enchant us.

What is left behind by you? When you brush alongside people every day of your life. Is there residual beauty? A word of encouragement? Of sympathy? Or Joy? Possibly subtle, but unmistakable and beautiful.

Perhaps the biggest question. Does your impact on others cause them to look up? You leave some shredded pink on the ground and they have to find the source of that. They don't want to miss out.

When Jesus lived on this earth he gave extraordinary, vibrant, surprising love. To his closest friends. To strangers. He still does. And people wanted to know him. Because that source was intriguing. Worth stopping. Gazing up. Being captivated by.

There would be no grey, no green left in Jesus' wake. Just pink.

What colour is on the ground surrounding you today?

Look beyond the grey. If someone is placing pink mist before you, give thanks. And as you surge through another 'ordinary' day, leave something exquisite.

May all around you be compelled to look up. To the giver of all good things. To the source.

By Pauline, Six Good Figs


For When Your Future Keeps Changing
Jan 13, 2012  Emily Freeman

We live a thousand lives in one lifetime, from playing Barbies on the covered front porch in that small Indiana town, to riding bikes to the mall beside Duck Creek; from longing for love and true acceptance, to sending those tiny babies off to kindergarten with deep prayers, shaky knees, and a slight bit of thrill.

One season of my life I spent as a sign language interpreter at a high school. I interpreted what the teacher said into sign language, and if the Deaf student had a question or a presentation, I was their voice. After a few years, I became the interpreter coordinator at a local university and it was my job to hire, fire, and schedule interpreters for all Deaf students on campus. I put in at least 40 hours of interpreting, advising, and scheduling during those years. That was my life.

As it is with many jobs, simply having a degree in your field isn't enough. If you wanted to be considered a qualified interpreter (not to mention a respected one) it was important to earn at least a basic level of competency.

Being the good girl that I was, I couldn't settle for basic competency and so I set out to take the exam to become nationally certified. It was not a simple process. I had to pay a lot of money, schedule a time way in advance, and then travel 6 hours to Atlanta. Then, I had to take a written and a performance portion of the test. Then I had to wait several months to find out the results.

I finally earned my national certification. All that work! Worth it! Now I was set.

Interpreting was my job, I had worked hard to become one, and I was good at it. For years I earned the appropriate number of continuing education units that were required to keep my certification current.

Then I had two babies at one time.

I still worked hard as an interpreter, but not nearly as often. Agencies would call and I started to turn the jobs down so much that eventually, they stopped calling all together.

If we only lived one life in a lifetime, then you might say my life was over. But of course you know that isn't true.

At the same time I began saying no to interpreting, I began to say a small, timid yes to writing, a shadow-love leftover from my childhood life that I still held dear but didn't know it.

Then, I had another baby. And I led a small group of high school girls. And I served beside my husband in our church. And I started a blog. My kids grew and so did I.

Last month, my national certification – the one I spent years to earn and maintain, the one that legitimized me as a professional, the one that earned me respect and importance even if only in my own eyes – expired because I didn't earn enough CEUs over the past four years to keep it up.

And I didn't even care. I don't consider myself an interpreter anymore. Now, I'm a writer. When did that happen?

What about all that money? All those hours? What about my degree? Those questions have forced me to think of another question. Why must we always insist that the destination is the most important measure of success? We put so many worry hours into our future only to discover that it keeps changing.

My years pursuing and practicing the job of sign language interpreting were not wasted. They brought with them necessary gifts for my life: the gift of listening for the purpose of understanding, the gift of learning how to do the work, the gift of becoming comfortable in my own skin.

That season prepared me for this one. But at the time, I was sure that season was all there would ever be. I was sure I would be a sign language interpreter for the rest of my life. I was sure I would hold onto that certification no matter the cost.

What you are doing now may not be what you'll be doing this time next year. Those things you care so deeply for now may seem small a month from now. Might I boldly suggest that the season you are in carries hints of what you'll be doing next? This season is a kind companion, escorting you to the next one. And then the next. We would be wise to sit back a bit and enjoy todays adventure, whatever gifts and sufferings they may hold.

Neither the accolades nor the critiques are worth anything. Don't force something as valuable and sacred as the definition of your life to fit onto the small, flat, earthly paper of a degree or a certificate. They will come and they will go and they are important. But they do not get the final say. For in him we live and move and have our being - then, now, and forever.

What gifts have your past seasons brought you so that you can live this one more fully present and alive?

by Emily Freeman, Chatting at the Sky

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Cold As Ice: Warming Up To Your Freezer
Jan 13, 2012 Kelly Hancock

Did you know that one of your biggest money savers is right in your kitchen?

It's your freezer! In Saving Savvy, I share numerous ways to cut your grocery budget down when you learn to "warm up to your freezer." One of the easiest ways to save money is to buy meats and produce on sale and stock up, then store it in the freezer.

Take a Freezer Inventory. While for many people the freezer is home to UFO's (Unidentified Frozen Objects), did you know that by simply keeping an inventory of what you have on hand, you'll start saving money? I offer you a simple way to do this with a  free download of my Freezer Inventory List. Knowing what you have on hand is the key to meal planning, so take some time to see what is in your freezer and get it organized. (I show you how to organize your freezer in this video.)

Flash Freezing. Have you ever tried to freeze produce that you purchased on sale, only to have it all freeze together in an unappetizing blob? My flash-freezing method of freezing berries, peppers, and other fruits and veggies, shown in the video at the top of this post, will keep this from happening. You can purchase produce when it is in-season and at its lowest price, knowing that it will be kept at its peak of freshness in your freezer.

Ready to serve. When you are cooking for your family, you can easily double recipes and freeze another meal. Pull it out of the freezer, pop it into the oven, and soon it is ready to serve. But what about those opportunities you have, in your church or in your community, when a family needs a meal? Are you ready to serve? Often a hot meal during a neighbor's health crisis, or even a happy event like a new baby, is just the thing to minister to someone. It's nice to know you have a meal already prepared that you can take to those families.

Four Easy Freezer Tips. When I speak on saving money by using your freezer, I will often hear someone say that they don't think food tastes as good after it has been frozen. If your food doesn't taste good, then perhaps you aren't freezing it properly. Here are some easy tips.

Keep it airtight. Be sure to wrap the food as airtight as possible. The worst thing you can do is leave the food in a dish with a lot of dead space between the top of the food and the wrapping.
Double wrap. There are a few ways to do this, but I always use plastic freezer bags for the freezer, and I double bag everything.
Keep the Freezer Full. Keeping your freezer full helps your items stay very frozen and saves energy.
Label Everything. When you put it in, you think you will remember what it is; but once it is frozen it will look different.

This is just the "tip of the iceberg" when it comes to learning how to use your freezer. You'll find tons more practical tips and strategies in my book Saving Savvy, which is available in paperback, eBook, or audio book format. (HINT: The audio book version is me reading, so it is like being in one of my workshops!)

Prayer for today: Thank You for being my El Rohi, my Shepherd. You truly do lead me, and it is up to me to follow. Forgive me when I drag my feet. I want to follow You, step by step, into a place of wise stewardship. I know You will shepherd me as I surrender this area of my life to You (Psalm 23). In Jesus' name, Amen.

Check out Kelly's money-saving blog, Faithful Provisions, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter for great tips and tools that will save you even more money.

ENTER TO WIN TODAY'S GIVEAWAY: Finish this sentence in a comment below, and you'll be entered to win one of two copies of Kelly's book, Saving Savvy: "My favorite meal to make as an offering of ministry to a family or a new mom is  ________."

Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Judy Harder

National Delurking Day
Jan 14, 2012 incourage

Today is National Delurking Day in the blogging world.

Which means if you've been hanging out with us here at (in)courage and don't comment often, today is your day!

We'd like to invite everyone to delurk  and  share below one thing you love about (in)courage.

Our favorite thing about you is how generously you always encourage one a other in the comments.

Now it's your turn – looking forward to hearing from you. All of you!

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How will you change the world this year?
Jan 14,  Holley Gerth

I'm thinking of you wherever you are...

carpool lines, cubicles, around the corner or across the world.

And I can hear that quiet question, the one that taps the heart of every woman:

"How am I going to change the world?"

I want to lean in close, cup your beautiful face in my hands and say this to you...

You are going to change the world this year the same way you did the one before–

by being YOU.

Glorious, messy, Jesus-filled, you.

The one who makes mistakes and keeps on trying.

The one who is learning about her gifts and grace and how it all goes together.

The one loving, laughing, learning about being a little bit more like Him every day.

Yep, you.


Maybe diaper-changer too.

And paper-in-the-printer-changer sometimes as well.

Who says you need to be somewhere else?

Who says you need to be someone different?

You're the only you we've got.

And the only world you can really change is the one you're in right here, right now.

So carry on, my friend.

Keep saying "yes" to Jesus.

You're making a difference even more than you know.

–Holley Gerth

Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Judy Harder

When You Feel Like It Doesn't Matter
Jan 15, 2012  Stephanie Bryant

The easiest way to get you to stop pursing your passion, your ministry, is to convince you that it doesn't really matter.

The voice might sound something like. . .

"I'm sure someone else has already thought of it and would do it better."

"That's your dream? It's not big enough."

"Everyone else is so successful. Why would your voice, your art matter?"

"It'll sound ridiculous."

"What if all the good dreams are taken?"

"What if God's Kingdom isn't big enough for your dream plus her's'?"

Strange and almost comical questions to some, but in your head it seems so real.

Lies can seem like the truth at times. Sometimes you have a tendency to think where one succeeds there's suddenly less room for you and your future.

And really, quite the opposite is true.

Through Paul, God asks you to "Be honest in your estimate of yourself, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you."

You assume this means to work harder on being humble. That maybe God is trying to point out the pride-log in your eye. But what if God has given you great faith, a large amount that has been pressed down and is overflowing? Yet, you are not honest with yourself and estimate yourself not good enough, strange, or not yet ready.

"Just as your bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ's body. We are all part of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.

God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So. . .if God has given you the gift to teach, speak out. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job teaching. If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously.

Then. . . Don't just pretend that you love others. Really love them. . . Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically.

Be glad for all God is planning for you." {Romans 12:3-12}

And know that you and your art, your business, your writing, your ministry. . . it does matter and it is very important. . . to all of us and the Kingdom.

by Stephanie Bryant, co-founder of (in)courage and now Creative Mastermind at S. Bryant Social Marketing.

Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

Judy Harder

5 Simple Ways to Refocus our Finances

Jan 17, 2012  Jennifer Schmidt

As the new year rolled in, many blogs I read shared goals and resolutions for 2012. For many, the New Year brings a time of refreshment, refocusing and sweet new mercies of grace given by our Heavenly Father. Yet even with my yearning to start anew, make my pretty lists, and attack them with fervor, I'm already exhausted. Ladies,  it's only the middle of January, so that is not a great start.

I crave His promises that are new every, single morning and I'm convinced He calls me to take simple steps of renewal.

The opening declaration from the late Jonathon Edward's seventy resolutions has been one I claim as my own.

"Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ's sake."

This is my heart felt desire, and so I'm breaking my goals into bite size pieces because the Lord knows that this "Type Z" personality needs to take baby steps in those areas which I struggle.

As we share accountability goals within the Body of Christ, a marvelous sense of encouragement occurs. While I turn to my uber-organized friends for wisdom with my de-cluttering challenges, they turn to me for discernment in the area of finances.

Walking along side other women and encouraging them to steward their resources well has become a calling on my life. The thousands of books written don't begin to cover all aspects of personal finance, therefore I can't  do so with just "five simple ways," but I'm going back to my goal of chewing off bite size pieces, and maybe just one of these five morsels will encourage you.

Pray and Search the Scripture

Our family has walked through seasons of plenty and of want, and He has proven faithful through the most difficult of financial circumstances.

Yet sometimes in the midst of financial disarray, it's so challenging to see past the mountain of regret for financial choices or circumstances in which we are placed. During our year of unemployment, my desire was to choose joy and fully embrace all that He was teaching me during those really trying times, but sometimes it just dragged on and on. I didn't understand why it had to be such a long drought, but He knew.

He knew, and this small financial blip in our lives didn't take Him by surprise.  I knew that His promises remained the same. He was the same; yesterday, today and forever.

With over 800 scriptures on the area of money and finances, more than any other one area in the Word, God wants to speak to your area of need directly. I can't begin to know what that is, but He does.

He desires you to live in freedom from the bondage of debt, to understand the difference between needs vs. wants and know that He always supplies our needs. Blessings pour out during seasons like this, as we seek Him to peel back the layers of vision.

Philippians 4:11-13: For I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous.

Contentment brings peace.

Plan a Family Meeting; Seek a Mentor

Whether you are in the midst of financial uncertainty or just haven't communicated on the subject of your own family finances for awhile, I encourage everyone to plan a family meeting. Openly talking about money is often difficult for spouses, yet marriage is a partnership and both parties need to be involved in the process.
Statistically, financial problems are stated as the number one reason marriages end in divorce. Marriage is difficult, even when finances aren't an issue, so add money stress and lack of communication to day to day challenges and slowly the unified front begins to dissolve.
If you aren't on the same page financially or are struggling with debt, seek out a Godly financial mentor. Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University is offered in churches throughout the country, and I highly recommend their 13 week life changing program.

Make a Budget: Track Family Spending

Yes, I mentioned I am a Type Z, free spirit kind of gal. One would think I'd run from something that seems so confining as The Dreaded "B" Word of Budgeting, yet there's real freedom in "telling your money where to go, instead of wondering where it went." (John Maxwell)

For the last few years, I've claimed the word "intentional" in my bio. For many of us, our desire is to be intentional with our time, intentional with our family, and intentional with our choices, so why wouldn't we be intentional with our dollars? Spend money with purpose and intention.

Give Every Dollar a Job in your budgeting. Dollars are told what to do, and every dollar in our budget needs to have a task. There's additional freedom in understanding and figuring out what that means for your family finances. It takes time to get it to work for you, but when it does, true financial freedom waits. Yes, I love the word free!

Spend Less Than You Make

That's the whole premise for saving money.

Why does this sound so simplistic, yet for many, it can be the hardest principle to implement?

I live an 80% off lifestyle. Living an 80% off lifestyle means I save where I choose, so that I can spend and give more generously where I want. This means that I shop thrift as a lifestyle. I dress Frugal Fashionsta style (designer clothes, but all second hand) and decorate with a flare for turning trash to treasure.

While this frugal lifestyle works for me, it doesn't work, nor is it necessary, for everyone. It's just another option in refocusing our finances to spend less than we make.

You may need to implement tough love in your finances in order to achieve this step. If you struggle with consumer debt and over spending, it may mean cutting up your credit cards and only paying cash. If you feel as if have already cut all your expenses, then brainstorming an additional money stream to raise your income a bit may be necessary.

Give It To Him

I've learned to hold my finances loosely and release it all to Him. Through difficult life lessons, I've realized that I can make a budget, communicate with my husband openly about finances, track my spending, live below my means, give generously, and yet still experience harsh, financial uncertainty.

We are merely managers of the resources the Lord has given us. I still strive towards financial preparedness and stewarding my resources well, but ultimately, it is all His.

We own nothing. The house, the portfolio, the paychecks, He owns it all.

Ultimately, this is the most crucial way to refocus our finances: towards Him..

How can our finances bring Him glory?


Many of you reading this right now are overwhelmed with your finances, and even attempting a small baby step feels like too much. Know that you are not alone, others have been there, and we'd love to pray with you.

Some of you are just beginning to set a plan in motion for refocusing your finances for 2012 and sharing your goals in written form would encourage others.

I look forward to sharing a bit of life with you in the comments.

Jen Schmidt, just a frugal, thrifting, yard sale loving daughter of the King writes at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Today, I want to make a difference.
Here I am Lord, use me!

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