Friday, August 31, 2007

What a blessing!

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is this: "Do you ever get discouraged regarding finances/living on one income/financial struggles/hardships/hard times?"

The short answer: yes.

I think it is human nature...we are all control freaks to one degree or another LOL. When things are out of our control and going badly it feels like you are racing down a road with no breaks and no steering wheel.

I was having one of those times again recently. About 6 months ago, someone hacked my shopping cart (they didn't steal information, but instead used my shopping cart as a proxy server), and then when I was fixing the problem I had the classic "one thing after another" go wrong...including deleting my database by accident. Unfortuately, MySQL doesn't warn you before you drop a table from your just does it and there is no undo button....and in all of that, my orders dropped to zero, and I felt like I had to take care of some needs that I knew were stressing my dh out.

Well....thankfully the Lord provided for that through a series of web design jobs and I was able to meet those needs after tithes. A few weeks later though as I was in my prayer closet, I felt convicted about the fact that I started this business as a means to give a faith promise offering to missions, and God had faithfully provided the amount that I had promised Him towards missions (and often beyond that amount)...but now I was using what I earned toward other things...not that they were bad, but I had become behind by two months in what I had promised the Lord all because I was feeling really panicky about money and spending what I had promised God in private towards missions on other things. Ever notice that? When you get really worried about money, most of us don't cut out things that matter to us in the here and now, day to day--we cut out things we give to others, and to the Lord.

Anyway...long story short...I felt very convicted about that, and I have prayed and asked the Lord to help me be more faithful, and also asked Him to renew my faith, and to supernaturally provide my faith promise. Today, after praying, I heard the ding that indicates I received an email, and lo, an order for the amount of my delinquent faith promise plus enough for the ATM fee (LOL God thinks of everything).

I shared this with my 14 year old dd who rejoiced with me, and then said, "Mom, I am trusting God for my faith promise too, but I haven't had any income because I get paid only when you sell a Bread by Hand Ebook (because she illustrated it), and you haven't had any sales..." so we prayed, and when I came back in tonight to check email, she had nearly enough to give her faith promise.

It's exciting to watch God move and to be a conduit of His blessings...receiving so we can give.

And that is what we often forget when we are worried about provision...we forget how unbelievable awesome it is to watch God use means other than a steady income to provide. If I had "a real job" (whatever that is ;)), I would have a regular income, and know that next week I will get paid x-amount of dollars...but when I am first and foremost a keeper at home, with a small amount of income on the side through an online business, I don't have the same "security"....but it is more exciting watching God move and also watching Him teach me during those dry times.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

And the winner is....OREGANO!

In the strange survival of the fittest smackdown in my herb garden, it would seem that Oregano beats all other herbs hands down, and that is not good news for my oregano plants ;).

5 years ago, when I first planted a large herb garden in the front of my house, the idea was to create an oasis, with a lovely cobblestone path that gently wove under a wisteria-draped archway, and through splashes of color and scents of my favorite herbs, and past a young apple tree, and a young cherry tree. Alas, that is not what happened.

That path weaves under a wisteria-draped archway (which had to be rebuilt with 4x4s because the wisteria crushed the other archway), past mounds of overgrown oregano, which has sometimes masked even the stone pathway itself, and which completely surrounds both trees, and even grows under the archway, and as you approach it.

I discussed this with my favorite plant person at my favorite nursery and her sage advice was, "Why did you plant so much oregano?" That's the thing. I didn't. I planted two wee little plants, looking oh so innocent. ;) I actually took the precautions with my mint by placing that in a spot where it would not likely sprall everywhere (as mint is prone to do), and instead, the Oregano so took over that it has overgrown the area where the mint was too. The mint looks straggly and barely alive amidst all of that oregano. Then there's the lemon balm, which also started to take over...though the oregano and lemon balm appear to have been evenly matched, and thus the lemon balm remained in it's own corner of the garden, and looks ok when I remember to trim it.

Today, after we were done with school, the kids and I went out and pulled 5 large wheelbarrows full of oregano out of the herb garden AGAIN. (I say again because we started this job in the spring, but what we pulled out grew back...and we were sure we got all of the roots). The garden could look so nice if everything would just stay in it's designated spot. LOL

Under all of that oregano, as I was reaching in and pulling out with leather gloves on, I suddenly felt something sharp and found my long lost dog rosebush (oh, there you are! LOL I was wondering where my 10 year anniversary gift went!!), and it seemed quite happy when I pulled the oregano off of it, if rose bushes can be happy. Within a matter of an hour, it already looked more perky.

While cleaning the garden we also found some of the stepping stones from the first pathway that got swallowed up by oregano (before I switched to a cobble stone concrete mold LOL).

Next on the list is to weed better in the back garden, near the grape vine. I don't know how weeds grow so fast in that particular area, but with grapes nearly ripe we need to have it cleared for walking and picking. I wish I could post smells on my blog (would that not be cool???) because there is NOTHING quite like the smell of your garden when your grapes are ripening. It takes me back to being on the Danube river in a vineyard, helping pick grapes one November too many years ago...They look so pretty on the grape vine too. I'm going to post a picture soon (when, ah, the weeds are gone! LOL)

So, moral of the story: Oregano should also be potted to keep from spreading, and don't ever let it go to seed!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Was it worth the $25?

It was one of those days yesterday.

My inlaws wanted to have my daughter Isobel over for a few days, seeing as how they have had each of the other kids over during different parts of the summer. I decided to drive her down to the detroit area myself because I had some shopping to do, at J.C. Penny. See, Martin gets giftcard things from his gas card for spending so much each week on gas going to and from work, and this week it was a JC Penny gift card. No JC Penny's near us, so we had to go to the big make a long story short. So he gave me a little receipt, and sent me on my way.

I dropped all of the kids off for some quality time with their grandparents and went to the mall, to cash in my money at JC Pennys. Maybe I am just out of touch from living in the country so long but I felt like I was transported to another planet or maybe another dimension when I walked through the mall doors. I felt like country mouse visiting his city cousin. I might as well have been wearing a denim overalls with the red bandana around my neck and a piece of wheat grass sticking out from between my teeth with a straw hat on...I had dressed up a bit because I knew I'd be shopping with the "beautiful people" (LOL) but I still felt like a hick in what I was wearing.

First stop was the ladies department as I was hoping to find a nice church dress, especially since I am just now learning to play piano at the age of 37 (and hve been put on the piano rotation by the music teacher at church!! that's anotehr story!!!), and I will be needing some nicer outfits. Well, let's just say you can't find a cammy at JC Pennys' for under $25, let alone a nice dress. *sigh*. I went to the clearance rack only to discover the shirts I was looking at were actually dresses....really short dresses....when I asked the sales lady if there were any dresses on sale. She also pointed me to a nice dress that was 75% off (so it was *only* $72.00! Whata deal!), and I decided maybe our family needed some bath towels instead.

Down to the housewares department I discovered that for $14.99 (on sale) you can get a bath towel. A bath towel, not a lot of bath towels. *sigh*....ok, that's not going to work.

Shoes....well here's a pair of $15 flip flops (no...I don't think so)

It really is sticker shock to try to find clothing in someplace other than Goodwill or Salvation Army!!

I finally found a little rack in the plus size deparment that had blouses on sale for just $6.95 each, and I bought three of them. They are not especially dressy but will be nice for Wednesday evening church and for teaching in our homeschooling co-op this fall.

I get up to the register and hand the lady the slip my dh gave me only to find out that he was supposed to have cashed it in for a real gift card at the gas station. The gal who was working the checkout was thankfully sweet enough to put my things behind the counter while I took care of that, and also told me where to find the nearest Speedway gas station.

I went to that station only to be told they were out of JC Penny's cards, and they directed me to the next station, where they were also out of cards, where they directed me to the next station...and so on and so forth until 5 stations and a half a tank of gas later I found a gift card, and needed directions back to the mall. All this time during the driving, I was reminded of why I am thankful I don't live in the city: traffic, road rage, inconsiderate drivers, ill timed lights, and did I mention traffic??

Sweaty, a little irritated, and very tired, I walked back into the mall, to the counter, grabbed my stuff, paid for it, and moved on.

While at the mall I had to go to my favorite store there(The Franklin Covey Store) because the puppy chewed up my little bookmark thing in my planner (which snaps in on the day that you are on), and so I decided to pick one up there, since they have nice ones. I walked passed one of those kiosks only to be given the hard sell by some sales girl trying to get me to buy a nail polishing kit for some $50 (are you kidding me??), and telling me how beautiful my hands are (seriously doubting that--I had spent the last week in the garden, and canning, girlfriend), and so on and basically not letting me leave, until I became uncharacteristically rude with her. I really hate that. Why do people not respect you until you let loose the floodgates of your frustrations at them?? Why can't "No Thank You" be good enough to these people??

I walked across the mall, appalled at what I was seeing in some places...what on earth is going on with today's fashions? Yes, maybe I'm behind the times, but I live in a little town and don't get out to the big bad city much (remember, though I was raised in suburbia, for all intents and purposes, I am still country mouse LOL). I went to the coffee kiosk and bought a cappachino from someone who had more jewelry on her/him (I'm not really sure what gender this particular person was, which is scary eh?) to sink a battleship. I'm not sure how he/she walks or even stands with all of that metal. there a reason why there is someone has a cuss word tatooed on their forehead?? Is there a reason why someone would HIRE someone for customer service with a tatoo ofa cussword on their forehead??

As I sat down with my cup of coffee, a gaggle of teen girls, about my daughter's age walked up and decided to impress everyone (or so they thought) with their knowledge of vulgar language, tight clothes, short skirts, and excessive makeup. I immediately sent up a prayer thanking God for a daughter like Ruth and I've prayed for these girls on several occasions now....and yet, they didn't seem to be the only group of 14 year olds (approximately) who were running around the mall in what I would consider to be either a poor-taste halloween costume, bed clothes, or underware, using language that most street walkers of 100 years ago would have been ashamed to use.

Then I realized I was starting to sound like someone's grandma with my running internal monologue. Am I that old?? Or is the world just going totally NUTS??? Maybe it's a little of both.

all I can say is...after spending nearly a half a tank of gas, 4 hours, and much energy wasted fighting off rabid kiosk-salespeople, I'm not sure if all off that was worth the $

Too bad they don't give away bonus gift cards to the salvation army store. that would be awesome!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Where has the summer gone?

Here it is, already the end of did that happen?

In case anyone is wondering, I didn't fall off the face of the earth, I've only been crazy busy with life as a Joyful Momma :-) It's been one of those good kinds of busy.

Firstly, I've canned up 7 bushels of tomatoes into well over 100 quarts of salsa (though I am not sure of the exact total...I'm still lining up my jars on the basement shelves)...and 40 quarts of pickle relish (believe it or not, i fear that may not be enough the way my guys eat relish around here). I've frozen what seems like a million (but probably isn't) basil, cilantro, and fresh tarragon ice cubes for later usage in recipes calling for the use of fresh herbs. This way, you get about 2-3 T of fresh chopped herbs in a handy package. :-) (note: don't create water ice cubes with trays after using them for this purpose as they sometimes retain the flavor)

Then I've still be sanding cabinet doors for my kitchen (with the help of children), and painting cabinets....I'm not sure how it is that we still aren't seems like we've done this all summer LOL...but it's been a good time.

where on earth did all of those weeds come from in the garden?????

I fixed my shopping cart, and then realized I deleted my database (doh!)...Thankfully I did have a backup, but unfortuately, I can't figure out how to use the backup to insert this jumble of information into the MySQL database...I guess that is going to be my new lesson learned---MySQL Rescue and Repair. LOL What this means is that anyone who is a returning customer may have to re-create an account.

Of course, summer has also invovled a lot of watermelon eating, bon fires, s'mores, trips to the lake to swim with the turtles, playing with my MiniDV camera, working at VBS, going for walks, having a house full of neighbor kids, and looking at the stars....but it will be nice to get back to our school routine too.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Great Music!

great conservative Christian Music

I just found the most wonderful Web radio station, Abiding What a blessing.

This radio station has some gorgeous traditional-style music on it, including the music of the Steve Petit team, Outreach Quartet, and others. Check it out!

Happy Born Again Birthday to Me :-)

God is so good.

It's been 17 years of serving Him as of today. Seventeen years ago today, I wandered around lost in Prague, Czechoslovakia in the heat of the blazing August sun (lost both literally and figuratively), until I ran into someone who told me of a Savior who loved me and who died for me. I had long been convinced of my need for a Savior but was convinced through wrong information that I had gone beyond the point that God could forgive me. How very wrong that notion is! There is no one so wicked that God would not save him or her if they would only call upon the name of Jesus.

As much as it disgusts me sometimes (in my human frailty and fleshly sense of "justice), even Adolf Hitler, were he to call upon Jesus while still alive, would be in heaven today.

Even Osama Bin Laden is not beyond salvation's reach--that's how powerful Jesus' blood is.

Even Napolean. Or Mussalini. Or any of the wicked persons of past or present. Jesus can and will forgive anyone.

He even forgave and received me, when I called upon the name of Jesus.And, He'll do the same for you.

If you need the savior, call upon His name today! For more information about the free gift He has for you, click here.