Friday, January 8, 2010

God's provision posts are moving

I've decided to move the "God's provision" posts to a sidebar via twitter. That way, it's not cluttered with posts that you probably don't really want to read, but I can still publicly express my appreciation to God for His providing for us.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My $40 Christmas

Christmas 2009 was an especially lean season for us, in the financial sense. And not terribly fattening in the physical sense either, since we had the stomach flu.

Because of the lean funds, though, and because I wanted to, I made most of our Christmas presents. I was really proud of how almost everything turned out. I wish I had gotten pictures of them all.

But I thought I'd share what I made:

For the grandparents, photo rubik's cubes and marble magnets made from the kids art (I just cut circles for the backs of the marbles, and then let them draw tiny pictures on them). Both turned out really cute, but didn't get photographed. I got the cubes and the marbles for the magnets at the dollar store, printed my own photos for the cubes, and ordered 100 magnets for the back of the marbles from ebay, for about $4.60. Total was $7.60, which I'll round up to $8.00

For my side of the family the adults drew names and have a suggestion that we spend $15 on each other. (Which, in my opinion, is a LOT). For one sister,

I drew and framed a picture of her dog

made her sesame street characters out of yarn pom-poms

I think Oscar is my favorite.

and gave her a cute vintage mug and a large jar of homemade instant chai mix.

For the other, I painted a stencil portrait of my brother and his wife. It was my first time painting, and I wasn't very happy with my skills, so Chester fixed it for me, and it looks much better. (I got the canvas and paints on amazing sales at Michaels, so the painting cost under $5).

She also got a jar of chai mix, and a half-dozen marble magnets, printed with star-trek icons.

Total cost for my side was about $8. I felt guilty spending so little, especially when my sister spent $30 on me. I'm not sure how to deal with that. I stopped feeling guilty when I realized that the sister who spent $30 on me makes about double what I do, and supports one, not seven, person on that wage. Still, I hope they didn't find my gifts cheap. I worked pretty hard on them. Not everyone considers time expensive.

Chester's side drew names too, and the kids were included in that gift draw -- so it was seven gifts total. On that side, it's okay (even cool) to give gifts that you got an a garage sale or thrift store, and the limit is $5. Most of what I gave were indeed garage sale finds from last summer: A cereal dispenser, filled with cereal from food net was $5, a gumball machine, filled with cereal from food net, was $2.50. A brand new swiffer mop was from food net (yeah, they give away amazing stuff that doesn't sell), a set of walkie-talkies that had been given to us a few years ago, a set of doll paraphernalia from garage sales totalling about $3, a set of exacto knives in various shapes, that we bought from a going-out-of-business sale for $3, and a home-made apron (which was a lot of work and turned out really cute, and I wish I'd gotten a picture of) that the recipient had requested. And family gifts of home-made Keva blocks (Chester cut them from some maple wood flooring pieces that were too short to be used well, and they turned out really neat), and a game of Bongo from a garage sale for $2. Total $20.50.

We gave each of the kids gifts that we'd gotten from garage sales, or that were re-gifts. Bennet got some books of paper airplanes to make (free), Matt got a set of car props (buildings and roads and such for cars to drive on, free) Josephine got a set of wooden dolls with "clothes" to dress them ($1 at a garage sale), and Lisel got a tea set in a wicker basket (free).

In the kids stockings were the "useful" gifts - tights and belts, and a pair of homemade mittens. As well as apples and oranges that had been given to us. The total there was under $2.

I used swagbucks to get Chester a book that he requested. It was $20 on Amazon, so I also ordered a book for homeschooling next year to bring the total over $25 and take advantage of the free shipping.

At church, we gave away about 40 jars of home-made jam and jellies. Those cost about $.65 each to make (most of which is the jar. Not many people return them when they're finished).

So, about $39 on gifts and $26 on jams and jellies. Chester got me a gift too (a nice vegetable peeler). I haven't looked to see what he spent. This post is about what I spent. I really was hoping to spend under $50 total, but when I consider what I spent on jelly, I'm pretty happy with under seventy.

I felt like it was a really special Christmas to give people things that I had put a lot of heart and effort into, and I was pleased to also not go broke in the process. Handmade is really great! (So are garage sales!)

God's Provision, January 6

Today was Clothing Exchange. It's a local ministry that is open once a month with free clothes and stuff for anyone who cares to come and get it. The usually have 10-15 conference tables full of stuff for the taking.

I went looking for a green shirt and some pants, since mine aren't fitting as well as I'd like these days. I came back with:
seven shirts (not the green I was hoping for, but amazingly, all fit)
two skirts
one pair of pants that's nice and warm
two pair of mittens for the kids (YES!)
a few pairs of pants for Chester
two dresses and a swimsuit for the girls
two pairs of shoes for Bennet, and one pair for Matt
a high-quality, padded laptop case
and, just for fun, a genuine vintage little pair of shorts and shirt, that date back to when I was a kid. They're so cute.

Each of the kids pick out a few things for themselves, so they got new shirts, pajamas and a couple of toys too.

Thanks Lord, for ministries such as this!

Chester and the kids also all cleaned out their closets and dressers today, so we'll have lots of stuff to donate to clothing exchange next month!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

God's provision, January 5

A quick one today, it's after bedtime:

God provided today, fun in the snow, good times with friends, and

$12.85 from selling clothing my kids outgrew. None of which I actually bought.

Love how God does that.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The New Year

It's resolution time, or at least reflection time. I'm not really so into resolutions - they seem to spawn anger in me (I fail, then blame someone else for my lack of success, and get angry). And I'm usually very much into reflection, but even that lately doesn't really float my boat. (I end up reflecting on the way I wish that things were, and blame someone else that my life isn't the way I wish it was, and get angry).

But I have noticed lately that some things in life just aren't working like they should. And there is, in every case, an easy solution.

I'm tired and crabby, I feel overwhelmed at all that I need to do and get nothing done. The solution I would like is to do less - just quit all these pesky duties like feeding my family and training up my children. The better, less convenient solution comes with the recognition my body needs exercise. It's too cold outside for that to be a nice walk, but I can tell that my body is screaming for it. So I'm starting to stretch and do a few sit-ups every morning. Every little bit helps, right?

I always fail at my read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan. And when I do read regularly, it seems to go in one ear and out the other -- ten minutes later, I have no idea what I read. The solution is to take is slower -- instead of the Bible in a year, just a chapter a day, and force myself to pay attention and write about it. That keeps me accountable to a greater measure.

Third, I've noticed that I'm ungrateful. God provides all these wonderful things for us, and I feel whiny and discontent. This doesn't please God, and it doesn't make for a happy home-life. The answer is kind of silly, but I think it'll work. I'm hoping to, for this entire year, keep a tally of the things God gives us free. Already, in the first four days of the year, I'm blown away.

Finally, I've noticed that I'm more centered, calmer, kinder and generally more sane when I take the time to write here. After a year of barely, if ever, writing, I'm hoping to be back. If you're unfortunate enough to read me here, then, well, you'll have more to put up with. (It probably won't be every day or anything). I'll be writing just to chronicle life and my thoughts, not putting tons of time into planning and editing posts like I once did. I don't have that kind of time or energy. I'm okay with that.

Welcome to the New Year of Our LORD!

God's provision, January 4

Today we received:

1 whole chicken
1 lb. package of chicken bratwurst
1 lb. pound beef
1 can orange juice
an entire case of bananas (what is that, 20 lbs or so? I feel a bunch of banana bread coming on)
a bag of Honey-nut Cheerios
a bag of strawberry flavored marshmallows
a bottle of gatorade
a box of macaroni and cheese (Kraft)
4 packs of strawberry flavored gummi fruit snacks
a can of hominy
a loaf of bread
two blueberry muffins

I had especially prayed for some chicken. It's been a while since we've had chicken and it really sounded good. Thanks God!

Oh, and banana bread for Sunday at church!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

God's provision, 1-3-2009

Gifts from God for today:

$20 gas money
160 diapers (yeah!)
snow pants, in the size I need for Matt right now
2 pairs of jeans, overalls and sweat pants in my size!
An Elmo costume (seriously? My kids will think this is SOOO cool!)
a tie
five hats
two wash cloths
a pair of slippers
a set of sheets, that I originally thought I'd cut up and make an apron for Bennet from, but now I'm thinking that may actually fit our bed.
60+ shirts
seven jackets
26 pairs of pants
seven pairs of shorts
and a few sets of pajamas

What's even better is that these clothes are for BOYS! My girls get handed down clothes all the time, but it's pretty rare to get boy hand-me-downs, and these are mostly in really excellent shape too! Thank you Lord!

The providence of God

Ive been thinking for a while now that it would be nice to keep some sort of a tally on the material things that God provides for us - without the use of money (i.e. at least somewhat free). So here is a start:

Yesterday, January 2, we received:
4 and a half gallons milk
6 yogurts
1 tomato
1 green pepper
1 doz eggs
2 - half pound blocks of cheese
cole slaw
4 lbs or so apples
half gallon chocolate milk
5 lbs red potatoes
2 - 64 oz juice
about 12 loaves of bread
2 pounds brown rice
2 boxes cereal

These all for just the price of the gas to go get them (a trip into town that we were making anyway, so it was a matter of a few blocks out of the way).

Now, should I just keep updating this post, or post every time God gives us something?

Thanks, God, for all the food yesterday!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Narrating Scripture

There's a common saying in Charlotte Mason circles that goes something like this:

"That which is not narrated is not remembered"

Narration is, in essence, summary of a text. When we read a story to a child as part of a lesson (in history, for example), they are required to pay close attention. The stories are short to allow this to take place. Afterwards, they repeat back as much as they can remember from the reading.

We've been doing this with our school-age kids for several months now, and I can verify that requiring a child to narrate after a story really does insure that they remember it. Not narrating doesn't guarantee that they don't remember, but not paying attention does. And if you're going to have to narrate after a story, well, you pay attention.

I've been having troubles lately with paying attention while I read my Bible. I always seem to be interrupted at least a dozen times, even if it only takes a few minutes. And if I'm not interrupted physically, I don't concentrate well.

So I decided that I needed to take scripture reading in small chunks, and narrate every single time I read.

Hence these updates recently. I read it once, paying careful attention because I know I have to write afterwards everything that I remember. It's definitely improved my reading and remembering already.

No, at this pace I won't get through the Bible in a year. I didn't last year either. But perhaps I'll retain a larger portion of what I read.

So that's the goal for here and now. Get in the habit of reading just one chapter a day. Write every day what I remember from the reading, so that I develop the habit of actually paying attention while I read. And grow from there.

In addition (because I can't really let anything just stay simple), I'm making a point to notice what God says about Himself in the Bible. What is His character?

These will be chronicled on Seeing God. Like I need another blog, I know. I so rarely write to this one.... (I have so many things started to post, I just need to actually do it).

You don't have to read it. It won't be especially interesting or anything. I'm just doing it to keep myself accountable.