Monday, December 11, 2017

3 Ways To Have Money

There are several subjects which are near and dear to my heart.  Financial planning is definitely one of them.  Anyone who knows me knows how much I love an Excel spreadsheet!  

Carl and I have been privileged to be able to mentor and teach others in this area.  We are by no means perfect, but we try to be good stewards of what God has given to us.  We give, because of what He has given to us.

I remember a couple of years ago, my son, Nathan, came to me and asked me to start to teach him how Carl and I managed our money.  We talked about a lot of things such as saving, investments, etc., but before any of that I told him the same thing I have told so many others too.  It is my number one rule.

Number 1 - Tithe

Give the first of your money back to God in a tithe.  A tithe means 10%, and the Bible talks about a first fruits (Deuteronomy 26).  Carl and I interpret that to mean 10% off the top which would be the first fruits.  For those that are not tithing at all, I at least encourage them to start doing something and work their way up to that number.  I have personal friends who truly stepped out in faith after we spoke with them about this, and God did some amazing things with their work situation and with random "gifts" they received.  We have seen it too many times to ever doubt it.  God definitely honors those who put Him first.  It is all His anyway. 

"'You are under a curse--your whole nation--because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,' says the LORD Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.'" Malachi 3:10

Number 2 - Make Money

Another way to have money is to actually make money.  I have met so many people over the years who are barely making it, because they don't make a high enough wage.  They are too loyal to their employer or too afraid to go and look for another job making a higher wage.  Get out there and see if someone else will hire you to do what you are already doing, but at a higher wage.  If you are able bodied, sling some pizzas, be an Uber driver at night, buy and resell items on Ebay, get a second job, sell some things in your garage, etc.  Encourage your kids to be entrepreneurs and to think outside the box too.  Nathan saw a Louis Vuitton small purse at a second hand store we were shopping at for $20, and I encouraged him to get it if he thought he could resell it for more on Ebay.  He sold it on Ebay for $150.  There truly are plenty of ways to make extra money.

"One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.
Luke 16:10, ESV

Number 3 - Save Money

As a consumer, I have the choice to buy something or not.  If the item is a need, I at least have the option (most of the time) as to where I can purchase that item.  I have the option to buy it at full price or not.  When shopping online, I always open a separate tab and search for a coupon code.  I love the GeoQpon app which can save you money on purchases you make around town.  I would say that over 50% of the time, I am able to find a coupon for something I am buying.  I also love the WalMart app where I can scan my receipt, and it gives me money back if it finds a better deal somewhere else.  I save it up all year long and cash it out in December for Christmas time.  I just bought all of my stocking stuffers and several gifts this week all for free.  Cutting coupons, sale items at the store, using apps as well as reward cards are all ways to save.  For example, I try to only get coffee on Tuesdays at my favorite place, because they give double stamps on my reward card on Tuesdays.  Ten stamps or ten coffees bought equal a free coffee.  So, I am able to get a free coffee after only 5 coffees bought instead of 10, because I get 2 stamps for every coffee I buy not just 1.  Saving money is actually exciting to me!  The more money I have left in my pocket after each purchase means the more money I have to save, invest, or buy things my family needs.

"The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down." 
Proverbs 21:20, NIV

Copyright 2017

Monday, December 4, 2017

Give A Corkboard A Makeover

Many years ago at a women's retreat, we all made a craft using 2 ft x 2 ft acoustic ceiling tiles.  We painted each tile to match a child's room, our kitchen, or a bedroom, and we attached a cord on the back to hang it up on the wall.

I ended up making one for my kitchen for my to do items and prayer cards.  I made one for Nathan's room complete with a big N on it and attached rope to the back to hang it on the wall since he had a cowboy-themed room.  I also made one for Christmas to pin all of our Christmas cards on every year.

Nathan outgrew his cowboy days, my kitchen one became outdated, and my Christmas one ended up breaking two years in a row so they all ended up going away for one reason or another.

When Nathan decided the other day that he no longer wanted his plain old brown corkboard, I started to put it in the donate bin.  Then, I remembered the project I did so many years back.  I decided I wanted to use it in my new computer room which I acquired this summer when Madison moved out.

Here is what I did.  

I sprayed the corkboard with white spray paint and let it dry for a few hours.

I knew I wanted to do a cross on it since I will be using it in the room where I will be doing all of my blogging.  The Cross Eyed Blog needs a corkboard with a cross on it, right?

I measured the length and the width of my corkboard.  I then visually decided how long and how wide I would like for my cross to be.  Use your measuring tape to measure the length and the width you are thinking about.  Does it look right?  Is it visually too big or too small?

When I determined how big I wanted my cross, I measured in from the sides an equal amount and taped off the edges of the cross using painter's tape.  For example, I measured 10 inches in from my top edge and 10 inches in from my bottom edge to make sure my cross was centered on the corkboard.  

Make sure your tape is level and plumb by making sure the measurements are the same on the left side as well as the right side of your tape.  For example, I would measure 10 inches in from the left side and tape, and then measure 10 inches in on the right side and tape.  I need to make sure my taping strip maintains that 10 inch measurement all the way up and down in order for the line to be straight.  

If you want to avoid these measuring steps and get a stencil at a craft store, you can do that too.  They have lots of choices such as sayings or letters to spell out a child's name.  There are even vinyl stencils which may work.  You would need to check and see if it worked on cork or not.

When everything is taped off and looks good, fill in the center of the cross with craft paint using a foam stencil brush or regular foam brush.  Stipple or use paint strokes pushing away from the tape edge to make sure no paint oozes under the tape.  This would give you a messy tape line.

Use upholstery tacks on all the corners.  Upholstery tacks are super inexpensive ($1-$2) and usually come in white, silver and black.  

Your imagination is the limit with this project.  You can customize it to fit any room.  This would make an inexpensive Christmas gift for any kiddo on your Christmas list.  If you wanted to do it on acoustic ceiling tiles, they are super inexpensive too.  The whole project really would set you back less than $10 per corkboard.  

I also like to hang corkboards behind a door so that when you come in the room, you don't see the mess of what is sometimes on a corkboard, especially in a kid's room.  This tip will make your room look neater to hide your board behind the door.

I hope you enjoy doing this project.  Until next time, happy crafting!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Hello Dolly Bars

Nothing says Christmas time to me like Hello Dolly bars.  I was curious as to why they are called Hello Dolly bars, but really could not come across the reason other than there was a play in the 1950's called Hello Dolly.  It seems they are also called Magic Bars or even 7 Layer bars in other areas of the country where they add a 7th layer to the bars by adding butterscotch chips.  No matter what part of the country you are from or what you want to call them, I call them delicious.  My mom always made them around the holidays, but they are super delicious no matter what time of year you want to make them.

Hello Dolly

1 stick salted butter

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
1 can sweetened condescended milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and melt the butter in a 13x9x2 inch baking dish.  Carefully sprinkle graham cracker crumbs over the melted butter.  

Layer chocolate chips, then coconut and finish with pecans.  Drizzle milk slowly and evenly over the top of all.  Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the top and sides are golden brown.  Cool in the pan.  Cut into squares. 



Monday, November 20, 2017

Is Your Issue Personal Or Biblical?

This issue has been coming up a lot with me personally, with friends who I have talked to, and was even touched on last Sunday at church.  We talked about having Christian freedoms at church, but some people tack on additional rules of what seems right to them.

For example, I was raised in the Bible belt where it was customary to wear a dress or at least dress up for church.  Where I live now, our church is very casual.  It is not unusual to see many, including myself, in a pair of jeans in church on Sunday.

Last weekend, my son came home from church wearing a pair of Adidas black workout pants with a red God's Not Dead T-shirt from the Newsboys concert.  I immediately saw his workout pants and asked if that was what he had worn to church.  He immediately asked me if I had ever heard the Lecrae's song Church Clothes.  I had heard it, and I had to chuckle.  He continued, and said, "Jesus doesn't care that I am wearing this."  

He was right.  In my mind with the way I was raised, I thought, I can't believe he wore workout pants to church.  The truth of it was that my 16 year old son had gotten up early to be at the church that morning by 7:30am while I still laid in my bed sleeping.  He did the slide shows on the screens in the sanctuary for all the worship and sermon portions for 2 services.  I went to one service and then left without seeing him.  So, then when he gets home from serving the Lord, I criticize him on what he is wearing.

I couldn't help but wonder what was wrong with me.  Here my son desires to go serve the Lord, and I am going to pick on him about his pants.  My issue was personal, not biblical.  He was perfectly modest in his attire.  I was not catching him in sin.  I should have kept my mouth shut.  It made me think about the story in James 2.

"My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, 'Here’s a good seat for you,' but say to the poor man, 'You stand there' or 'Sit on the floor by my feet,' have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, 'Love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers." James 2:1-9 (NIV)

If you discriminate against someone who lives in a particular neighborhood, then that is a personal issue, not a biblical one.  If you have an issue with your friend who is gluten free, then you have a personal issue, not a biblical one.  If you have a female friend who is having lunch with a male coworker several times a week and not telling her husband, that is a biblical issue, not a personal one.  She is lying to her husband by not telling him the whole truth of what she is doing, and further sin could be lurking at the door.  You get the point.

I surely don't want to be the one to add rules or conditions to my relationships which are not even biblical.  Those would be impossible standards to keep up with anyway.  I have really been trying to take every thought captive, to turn it over and over in my mind and to pray over it if it bothers me to see if what I am wrestling with is truly biblical or is a personal issue.  Those two things are very different indeed.  It has been super helpful to me. Most of the time the issue for me is personal, and I can through Christ cover it with the same grace which has been shown to me.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?" Matthew 7:1-3

Monday, November 13, 2017

Redeeming Love

When I was in Texas late this summer, I asked my friend, Lei Ann, what her favorite Christian book was that she had ever read.  She immediately and without any hesitation said it was Redeeming Love.  I had never read the book, but I wanted to read it if it had been recommended by my dear friend.

I was able to take a wonderful trip to Hobby Lobby several weeks ago, and there at the check out stands were lots of great Christian books and devotionals.  Can I just digress and say how much I love Hobby Lobby? As I looked through those books, there was the book Redeeming Love sitting there front and center.  I snatched up the book and put it in my cart.

I usually read Christian non-fiction or sometimes biographies, but I really just wanted to not have to be an intellectual the next time I read a book.  I just wanted to get lost in a book, and this one sure delivered.  I started reading the book that same day and COULD...NOT...PUT...IT...DOWN!  I read the whole thing within the week.

The book is a fictional retelling of the story of Hosea and Gomer.  If you have not read this story, it is in the book of Hosea in the Old Testament.  A short recap of this story is that God tells Hosea, a prophet, to marry a woman who ends up prostituting herself with other men.  The story is more complex than this, but it is a parallel God uses to show how Israel is not committed to Him anymore but how He still desires to redeem them due to His love for them.

The Redeeming Love story is set in the 1850s in the time of the California gold rush.  Michael Hosea obeys God's call to marry a woman named Angel who had been sold into a life of prostitution at a young age and to love her unconditionally.  The writer does a great job making subjects and situations which could easily be rated X in our day and age to a G or PG rating.  She gives you the idea of what has happened, but does it in a way which is not lewd, crude or too graphic.  I was impressed with this aspect of the book.   

At the end of this book, you will have an added depth of understanding of how forgiving, how loving, and how gracious is our God.  You will know at a deeper level how many times we as sinners turn our back on God and how He is long suffering with us.  You will have a better understanding of His redeeming love.  It is truly a great love story.

"Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods..." Hosea 3:1, NIV

Monday, November 6, 2017

47 Reasons I Feel Blessed On My Birthday

Today is my birthday!  Several friends asked me last week what I was going to do for my birthday.  I told them you reach a certain age when the birthday didn't mean as much as it used to mean. It was going to be a regular Monday after all with a blog post which I would probably procrastinate in doing which is exactly what I ended up doing. 

However, over the course of the day, as phone calls and messages popped up, I sure felt like I wanted to say how grateful I am for all of the things in my life.  47 reasons I am grateful today sounded like a good idea!

1.    I am alive
2.    My husband loves me.
3.    I was born in a free, democratic country.
4.    I truly have some really amazing friends.
5.    I get to say the name of Jesus without being put in jail.
6.    I got to eat huckleberry mocha cheesecake for dessert on my birthday!
7.    I am blessed to not be the smartest person in the room but to not be the dumbest either, usually.
8.    I am thankful God has blessed me with children.
9.    I am thankful for a roof over my head.
10.  I am thankful I have never gone hungry.
11.  I am thankful I live in a country where you can dream a dream and have the ability to achieve it.
12.  I am thankful I have a job.
13.  I am thankful I have a body that is functioning and able.
14.  I am thankful I can see.
15.  I am thankful I live in a state where I can buy a Montana Mocha which is a huckleberry mocha.  Yum!
16.  I get to read my Bible.
17.  I have a car.
18.  I just got to drive my car back into my garage yesterday after almost 9 months of a home remodel which displaced lots of items into my car spot.
19.  It snowed today!  Another reason I am glad to be back in the garage.
20.  My dog greeted me today at the door like I was the best thing since steak on a stick.
21.  My daughter, Lauren, told me there are no words to express how much she loves me today.
22.  My son, Nathan, told me he was thankful for all of the things I do for our family.
23.  I danced in my Oula class today.  Not well, but I danced nonetheless.
24.  I had a generous friend set up something for me today that I am busting at the seams to tell, but I can't yet.  I will soon though so stay tuned!
25.  I didn't have to make dinner, but instead got to pick where I wanted to go out to eat tonight.
26.  My family is healthy and well.
27.  I had a sweet talk with my mother-in-law today.
28.  I am thankful for my husband who I still really like and want to spend time with.  Hubba Hubba
29.  I have many coats to choose from to wear in these Montana winters.
30.  I LOVE my heating pad!  What would I do without my heating pad to keep me warm?
31.  I am excited to spend some of my birthday money on some fun things as well as things that I need.
32.  I have a heart which overflows with joy to the point I get a catch in my heart at how much I love my kids.  
33.  I am thankful for space heaters and wool socks.  Being warm is good.
34.  I am grateful to have a healthy relationship with my family.
35.  I am thankful for my church and my church family.  Talk about amazing people.
36.  I am thankful my church speaks biblical truth and not fluff.
37.  I am glad that God is always with me.  He will never leave me or forsake me.
38.  I am thankful for accountability partners who encourage me and push me to be better, always better.
39.  I like that I can sleep, and I don't suffer from perpetual insomnia.
40.  I once was lost, but now I am found.
41.  I am thankful that Jesus washed me white as snow.
42.  I am grateful that we have heat in our house, running water, and indoor plumbing.
43.  I am thankful I can walk.
44.  I am glad I have toes that are long enough to do what my family calls "cat toes" as well as turn off the faucet in the bathtub.
45.  I love having ideas.  I always have an idea or two.
46.  I love that my brother was the first person to text me for my birthday, and he has been for as many years as I can remember.
47.  I am thankful that I get to write this blog every week.  God has truly used it to touch so many lives which is crazy cool to be a part of what He is doing.  He is good.

"Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given." 
John 1:16, NIV