Life is full of hallways - those times between God's closing doors and opening windows. Find Biblical encouragement for your own season of struggle by visiting the blog, stopping by the shop, or subscribing to our members' page. Let's praise Him in the waiting!
Does the thought of routinely tracking your income and expenses make you cringe?
I’m a little unusual in that I LOVE budgeting, at least most of the time! My dad always posted our family’s monthly budget on the refrigerator (much to my mom’s chagrin) where we could all see at a glance how we were doing. Even though my mom frantically flipped over the budget when company came over so that the whole world wasn’t privy to our spending habits, having that budget front and center taught me the importance of “knowing your flocks and herds” and the value that budgeting brought to our family.
And so, when Jon and I got married, I started keeping a detailed budget. For years, I dutifully kept track of our expenses. Some months were pretty hard, as the outgo quickly outpaced the income, but I always knew right where we stood financially even if the situation wasn’t pretty.
A couple of years ago, however, I got really burned out on budgeting, largely due to the frustration of always struggling to make ends meet. Although I haphazardly budgeted, many months I actually didn’t finish tallying our expenditures.
Eventually, though, I realized that half-hearted budgeting attempts weren’t doing us any favors, so I resumed filling out my spreadsheets every month. But I found some fantastic shortcuts that took most of the pain out of budgeting!
It comes out of the blue. We’ll be merrily floating along, school in a good rhythm, excitement on the horizon, and…BAM. Diabetes rears its ugly head. Most days, it’s barely a blip on the radar (a true testament to God’s goodness, because in those early days just after diagnosis, I wasn’t at all sure things would ever feel “normal” again). Most days, diabetes is just a few blood sugar checks, possibly hunting for a misplaced blood sugar meter, and counting carbs for meals.
But then a virus will hit and send my diabetic spark plug into a tailspin, or his insulin pump will stop working, or things will get wildly out of control for no apparent reason.
And in those hard moments, I’m reminded all over again that God has chosen not to heal. That He’s found more glory in leaving Turbo as he is instead of healing him. That living with diabetes instead of being healed from it is what’s currently best for all of us.
At times, it even feels like God is breaking my heart.
Do you often find yourself picking up your phone whenever you have a few seconds free? I know I do. Whether I’m hoping someone has emailed me or am simply wanting to scroll through my Instagram feed (the one social media platform I still have for personal use), all too often, I find myself wasting minutes on my phone when I could be doing something far more valuable with my time.
One of my goals this year is to better manage how I spend my days. We don’t know how many minutes we’re allotted, and the last thing I want to do is to waste mine staring at a phone screen! With that in mind, I made a list of things I could do instead of turning to my phone. And I wanted to share it here on the blog in case anyone else needs a bit of help in this area, too.
While there’s nothing wrong with dreaming by itself, inevitably, I get carried away with my wishful thinking, and I begin to covet that which I don’t have. When I start to develop discontentment with my current situation, that’s when sin sets in.
Truthfully, there are moments when I’d rather wallow in my pity instead of chasing discontentment to the curb. It almost feels nice to fuss about my lack of space! And that’s exactly why I need to root out the seeds of dissatisfaction immediately: so that they don’t take deeper root and grow into resentment or bitterness.
I’ve found the absolute FASTEST way to uproot discontentment:
Do you like the concept of choosing a single word to guide your coming year? In theory, I love the concept, but in reality, it’s never really worked well for me. Between choosing words that were ill-fitting or ill-defined to having curve balls thrown our way, my word-of-the-year track record hasn’t been too stellar!
But something happened recently that gave me a completely different approach to choosing one word for the year, an approach which might work well for you, too, if you’ve also been struggling with the one-word concept.
Today’s my birthday! I was really looking forward to the start of a fresh year, and then my youngest spark plug came down with a stomach bug…before the previous flu we were recovering from had even fully left our house. Spending the day with a fussy little one was definitely NOT the way I had planned on celebrating.
While I would give almost anything for him to feel better (and for this not to spread to anyone else!), I started thinking about how dearly I tend to hold onto my plans and how devastated I often am when things go awry. Although I’m a little more flexible now than I was a decade ago, going with the flow is still a daily struggle for me.
And that got me thinking about the things I wish I had learned sooner in life. In fact, there’s quite a bit of advice that I would have loved to gleaned before now. So, instead of visiting my extended family as I’d originally hoped, instead, today, I’m sharing my best advice to my younger self.
"My life wasn't meant to look like this!"
I've thought that to myself many times during the past six years. On a couple of occasions, I even ventured to helpfully inform God about His apparent mistake. (Perhaps He needed some honest feedback in order to give me the enjoyable life I felt I deserved, considering all the hard work I'd done for Him?)
In my enthusiastic planning for motherhood, my thinking had been binary. There were two parenting paths I could take: returning to work part-time or caring for our kids full-time. Chronic illness? It was never part of the equation; it didn't even exist as a category in my thinking!
I love the holidays with all those picture-perfect moments and photo-worthy family gatherings. I love thinking about and planning for the fun activities and festive meals we’ll participate in. Most of all, I love savoring the birth of the Savior - Christmas is such a wonderful time to reflect and think about all that Jesus did on my behalf.
But maybe you’re not eager for the holidays this year because you’re hurting. Maybe a recent loss - or a loss associated with either Thanksgiving or Christmas - has dampened your joy, and you’re not really sure how to feel happy when, inside, you’re still suffering deeply.
Friends, we’ve come a long way in this “wash his feet” challenge! From praying for our husbands to telling them we love them, we’ve covered numerous ways to bless them. Some assignments were easier than others; many will take a lifetime to perfect. But each one had the sole purpose of blessing our husbands in the Lord.
Let’s look back over this challenge. Note what worked and what didn’t. Which things most blessed your husband, and which ones flopped? Which ones made the greatest impact? Observe your relationship with your husband. Where are you strong? Where are your weak points? What can you do to improve?
Today, become a student of your marriage. Take what you’ve learned from this challenge and apply it. Completing these assignments won’t do you much good if you don’t learn from and grow by them!
Some years ago, when Jon was working nights, going to school during the day, and finances were incredibly tight, he grabbed me out of the blue and hugged me.
“Man, I love you so much!” he said as he embraced me.
I hadn’t realized until he said those words just how much I needed to hear them. We’d basically been ships passing in the night, it seemed at the time, and hadn’t been able to see one another for more than just a few minutes here and there. We hadn’t been able to connect as much as I had wanted, but that one phrase was exactly what I had needed at that moment.