Life Lessons

Lessons From the Bathroom Sink

In our fifteen years of marriage, I have silently and sometimes not so silently had mini-fits about the way my husband cleans his sink after shaving.  There are sneaky clippings hiding everywhere.  He’s improved his cleanup process by even vacuuming but those little guys are professional stow aways.

Today, while hovering over my sink, I splashed the last bit of soap bubbles from my face.  I took a look around my own bathroom space.  Not so tidy as I remembered it in my head.  The trusty curling iron was still sitting in the same spot as yesterday.  There was an empty bottle of eye drops waiting to be discarded.  I had cleverly left {over a week ago} a bottle of shampoo upside down so I could empty it into the new bottle.  Then there was the self-soothing piece of Dove Chocolate in a shiny blue wrapper I had put there for a rainy day.  {It’s twin mysteriously disappeared in the night.  It’s wrapper evidence in the trashcan.  hmmmm.}  All of these things just sitting there.  Not to mention the layer of dust and makeup powder.  {gasp}

I glanced over to my husband’s sink grasping for some sort of confirmation that my area was indeed tidier.  The truth was hard to see.  His sink was actually SHINING!  What happened?  All those years of thinking he was the bathroom slob only to realize he cleans his sink with “June Cleaver care”.

It’s so easy to excuse the messes we’ve made in our lives, even to the point of blindness.  Sure there’s a reason why everything was out on my counter.  But I was letting those reasons cloud my perspective of the true reality.

I chuckled a bit as the scripture from Matthew 7:3-4 came flooding to mind:  3And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?

I was so focused on the speck in my husbands sink that I let mine get messier and messier.  What mess are you ignoring in your own life?  What reasons or excuses are you making so you can leave it there?  Are you focused on cleaning up everyone else’s life?  Take a good, honest look at what’s right in front of your face.  It’s a tough perspective…but oh so valuable.

Why Blog?

Okay, so I go in blogging spurts.  I don’t think I’m alone in this trend.  I will consistently blog for several weeks, then I’ll unintentionally take a month or two off.  Then, my husband will lovingly encourage/challenge me to get back on the blogging track.  So, here I am…at it again.

Questions swam in my mind as soon as I opened it up to the idea of what my next blog would be about.  The first one was, “why blog?”.  It’s not like I am an expert in any one area and the world MUST know my insight to be able to discern their next step in life.  Whew, that would be a lot of pressure.  Nope, for me, it’s kinda just for me.  Sure I’m putting it out there for anyone to read, but I honestly do it as a time of “personal” reflection.

We use busy-ness as an excuse for so many things…not calling that friend, not having lunch with that mom, not folding that laundry, saying no to that trip and unfortunately – to not have any unique thoughts.  It takes time and effort to shut off the constant rumble of my own stresses, lists and entertainment to ask myself, “what do I think about that?”.  To a 20 something person this is probably a foreign idea.  Just wait, your day is coming where the thing you look most forward to is sitting down and “vegging”.  Sitting in a Starbucks-esk environment sharing ideas about the protagonist in the latest novel I read just doesn’t fit into my schedule.  So I blog.  Guess what, writing down thoughts causes me to THINK!

So, after asking myself one question, I had my topic for my next blog.  Kind of ironic…blogging about blogging.  LOL!

Do you find yourself swimming in a sea of busy-ness?  When was the last time you had an intelligent conversation about an idea, topic or scripture…not about your spouse or kids?  Do you feel like there’s no time for that?

Blog.

Bringing Home Puppies

Shawn and I just had a quick pop-in visit from our friend Adam.  Adam’s world is being “wrecked by God” and Adam is wrecking our world in the process.  Poor guy leaves thinking he was a bother to our quiet morning.  Little does he know he brings excitement and revival where ever he goes.  Shawn and I feel like an old couple who just brought home a little puppy,  who can’t be stuck in their ways anymore, because they have a puppy.  Puppies have a way of changing a home.  They bring joy and smiles and responsibility.

We chatted about our hope being stored up in heaven and what that means.  We spoke about treasures we try to store up on earth.  My mind trailed from the conversation around the dinner table and went to words I’ve spoken this week.  We’ve  just moved into a new house.  Much of our time has been spent unpacking and then just sitting and admiring the blessing God has given.  Many, many people have asked about the house in person and on facebook.  I find myself being more excited about this house than the one who gave it to us.  I have spent more time talking about this house than the one who blessed us with it.  I have unknowingly made it an earthly treasure.  This house is just a house.  It cannot save me.  It cannot redeem me.  It cannot pursue me.  It cannot love me.  My true hope is being stored up in heaven, not in this house.

I am so glad that God has brought Adam into our lives.  His excitement for The Lord is challenging to be around.  He can’t even sit still when he talks about God.  The creaky old dinning room chair he was sitting in never fell silent.  Yet, my chair didn’t make a peep.  Oh, Lord help me.  He keeps talking about how knowing Shawn has changed his life.  Little does he know how us knowing him is changing ours!

Influences

Two days ago, I was in a mad dash to pick up my boys from school…on time.  I left church with time to spare, but found myself on 7 Highway behind a line of about six cars with the lead car driving ten miles below the speed limit. Grrr.  There was not enough road to pass all six cars to freedom, so I waited.  I attempted to do the math on how many minutes I was adding to my drive.  Then, I began to think about influences.  No matter how independent we believe we are, we’re uncontrolably influenced by those around us.  They’re contagious – we’re contagious.  For me, this is most evident when emotions are high, like those days when we’re trying our best to pick our kids up from school on time!  I found myself driving down the road with one of those really considerate drivers following me that insist on testing how close they can ride to my back bumper without touching it.  In moments like these, we can respond by:

1. Driving slower {revealing your controlling side, “how do you like going this speed sucker?”, “you can’t make me go any faster, but I can make you go slower…ahahaha!”}

2. Driving faster {revealing your desire to please others or perhaps fear of making others mad, “okay, okay, I’ll drive faster if you want me to, don’t get in a huffie.”}

3. Setting your cruise control {revealing your focus on the destination over your emotions, “I’m going to make sure I’m driving at an even speed so I don’t have to be bothered by this guy behind me.”}

Do you find yourself trying to constantly teach others a lesson?  Do you abandon who you are to please others?  Or do you have something that is like a cruise control in your life?  Something that is a constant that helps you get to your destination despite the influences around you?

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;”  James 1:19

There is only one who is constant.  There is only one I want to be influenced by.  His name is Jesus.

Living With Less {part 3/3}

It’s no secret that Shawn and I took a huge pay cut to move to Missouri to start Echo Church.  I’ve heard that most new business owners don’t typically start earning a paycheck for years.  This is not exactly the same situation, but is similar in the fact that if we would have taken a full salary, I’m not sure if Echo Church would be around two years later.  In fact, Shawn has counseled other new start pastors and told them to slash their initial pay.  They said that would be impossible, and now, sadly their church is no more.  {this is not a hard and fast rule for all new start churches, but it was for us}  Well enough about the reasons…lets look at some more tips I’ve learned thus far.

~~  Have I mentioned that we live with another couple?  You don’t have to be a wiz at math to know that this alone cuts living expenses in half.  WARNING–I don’t recommend this to everyone.  God has really protected our families and relationships!  The house has to have two living spaces, because lets face it, no matter how much you like someone, you gotta get away sometimes. Privacy is important and sacred when sharing a home.  So, if you’re in a desperate situation, pray and see if the Lord might lead you to this option.

~~  Rent movies as opposed to going to the theater.  It costs about a million dollars to take a family to the theater after paying $10/ticket and $999,999,960 at the snack bar.  We still go to the theater, but only on special occasions or for very special movies.

~~  We only have one car.  One car to put gas in.  One car to pay insurance for.

~~  Say “no” more than “yes”.  Especially to yourself!  You’re the hardest person to restrict.  Show some self-control in spending!

~~  I use Pinterest for many free/almost free date ideas, or for free/almost free activities with the kids.  I love this resource!!  Here’s a great one for the kids…http://pinterest.com/pin/146155950378118893/  Here’s one for the hubby…http://pinterest.com/pin/146155950378470771/  Oh, and the monster patch link I posted yesterday was found on Pinterest!

Happy Saving!

Link to part 1/3

Link to part 2/3

 

Living With Less {part 2/3}

It’s no secret that Shawn and I took a huge pay cut to move to Missouri to start Echo Church.  I’ve heard that most new business owners don’t typically start earning a paycheck for years.  This is not exactly the same situation, but is similar in the fact that if we would have taken a full salary, I’m not sure if Echo Church would be around two years later.  In fact, Shawn has counseled other new start pastors and told them to slash their initial pay.  They said that would be impossible, and now, sadly their church is no more.  {this is not a hard and fast rule for all new start churches, but it was for us}  Well enough about the reasons…lets look at some more tips I’ve learned thus far.

~~  Get together with a few friends and exchange Halloween costumes.  No kid wants to wear the same costume year after {correction…Landon was Spiderman for THREE solid years}…so most kids don’t want to wear the same costume year after year, so have a costume exchange.  It was fun for Landon to share his old Spiderman costume with a friend’s little brother this past year. Obviously, you can do this with everyday clothes as well.  We have a friend who has three boys much older than mine.  She gives me a bag of clothes every once in a while which is a life saver.  Then, whatever clothes are not hanging by a thread, we pass those on to our nephew!  GO GREEN…haha!

~~  Shopping at local garage sales can save hundreds of dollars a year if not more.  I’m always after boys clothing which is not an easy find as boys tend to wear them out more than girls do. Most of my boys jeans have ginormous holes in each knee. Here’s my plan for that…(link to monster patch!!!)  Since I don’t sew even buttons, I’ll have to employ my crafty friend Stacey.    Our community also has a garage sale group on Facebook.  Search and see if yours does too.  This feels a bit safer to me than Craig’s List too since you can go to the persons Facebook page and see if you have any mutual friends.  (Facebook stalking can saves lives!) It’s an easy way to sell items as well!

~~  One thing I just started doing is grocery rebates.  This is all because I have a friend who is a rebate queen.  She started a club where a couple of friends pay her a few bucks to do all of the leg work {as some require postage} and she gives us new rebates almost weekly.  Some are for $2, some are for $20!  I prefer this much more than couponing (anyone watched the time consuming ways of the Extreme Coupon people on T.V.) as it is much easier for me and less specific.  For example, the rebate may be for salty snacks, or meat…yes it’s that vague…just meat of any kind.  They can be purchased from any store and can be any brand most times.  The best ones are through some type of alcohol company requiring alcohol purchase.  But there is a loop hole in many states, Missouri being one of them, that does not require an alcohol purchase!  Yippee for Missouri!!  The other day, I got $36 dollars in checks in the mail.

Happy Saving!

Look for more tips tomorrow!

Link to part 1/3

 

 

Living With Less {part 1/3}

It’s no secret that Shawn and I took a huge pay cut to move to Missouri to start Echo Church.  I’ve heard that most new business owners don’t typically start earning a paycheck for years.  This is not exactly the same situation, but is similar in the fact that if we would have taken a full salary, I’m not sure if Echo Church would be around two years later.  In fact, Shawn has counseled other new start pastors and told them to slash their initial pay.  They said that would be impossible, and now, sadly their church is no more.  {this is not a hard and fast rule for all new start churches, but it was for us}  Well enough about the reasons…lets look at some tips I’ve learned thus far.

~~  You have to change where you shop and how often.  I shop for most groceries at Aldi where I can get great food (their summer produce is stellar) at a fraction of the cost.  So, I have to bring my own bags and use a quarter to get a cart…totally worth the savings.

~~  A gal can spend a lot of money to look “beautiful”.  I used to pay $15/area for facial waxing.  Now, I do it myself with a Sally Hensen product I got at Wal-Mart {link to Sally Hansen Hair Removal Strips}.  Now, for less than $5.00 I can wax away for a year or more. {less if you have some Chewbacca in your heritage}

~~  DIY hair color saves a ton of money!  I prefer the highlighted look, but that gets crazy expensive and high-maintenence.  I happen to have a friend who’s a professional hair dresser.  She’s able to get me salon quality hair color and I apply it myself.  Total cost $5-10!!

Happy Saving!

Look for more tips tomorrow!