Monday, April 27, 2015

Beware of the Lovely Wisteria!

I have LOVED the looks of Wisteria... what lovely flowers and how romantic it looks with the cascades of beautiful blooms.

I have never been very close to a plant, but decided it would be so nice climbing up the side entrance to my back garden, so when Aldis had them last year for a great price, I was excited and bought one.

 It was only a small plant that didn't look anything like these pictures... in fact, it wasn't even growing yet, so it was just a stick in some growing medium.

I had visions of these lovely purple blooms.. and my mind moved ahead to all of the wonderful pictures I would take with this in my yard! Oh, the backdrop for pictures of my girls.... or family pictures.. or a tea party. :)

The masses of flowers appeal so much and I was so glad that I would have my own.... right here. :)  

Well, that little stick sat in its box for a while and after growing a bit, it started to languish. I so wanted it to grow and thrive, so I took it out and planted it.

About that time, I decided to look up some information about the plant.. I needed to know more of how to take care of those beautiful flowers. I do lots of research, and I realized I hadn't done any yet on this plant, but had just read the label on the box from Aldis.

The more I read, the more concerned I became... and finally realized this may not be a plant I want to have after all.

It is toxic... I hadn't known that... and the label didn't say anything about it.  I also found that once it starts, it twines its way over fences and frames... and trees and bushes and yards and up the house... and it can be very hard to control. I really didn't want a plant that would need constant pruning or be poisonous.
 I read that they can grow to be 250 years old in China and that Marco Polo brought seeds from China all those years ago, which was interesting. 

Those beautiful flowers still appeal to me, but I was SO GLAD to check on my little plant... and find it dead! 
Whew.... I am so thankful it didn't take off and take over my garden... or poison children who visit... or my son's dog. I never thought I would be so glad to lose a plant... but I am.
It reminds me of how sin can be.. tempting and beautiful... but it will soon take over our joy, our walk with the Lord, our peace and contentment. That's why it is important to root out any bit of sin... even the "little" stuff. I want to honor my Lord... and I want NOTHING to do with sin... of any kind.  I also want to have good fruit in my life... and I want to walk as God intends me to walk... in the little and the big things. I am so thankful to know the Lord... and to walk with Him. 

So, is Wisteria a "bad" plant? No... but it won't find a home in my garden... because I have enough to do and don't need something that needs so much care and attention... or has the danger attached to it.

If I had done my research before I bought the plant, I wouldn't have spent the money on it and I will be more careful to do that in the future. 

I will still enjoy Wisteria... like this one that was in someone's yard.. it is so beautiful, but I am very thankful that my plant died and I won't be spending the next few years trying to keep it under control and feeling overwhelmed by the invasive nature of the plant.

Thank you for visiting my blog today... and if you have a Wisteria plant, I hope you are enjoying it and taking many photos. :)  If you are thinking of getting one, you may want to do some research on it first.  I hope you have a wonderful week.  :)  

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Friday, April 24, 2015

The NUMBER ONE Way I Save Money!

We live quite frugally... and we have a large family... a family that eats A LOT. :)  We also have 2 girls and 4 boys... and the boys tend to use up their clothes SO much faster than the girls do, which results in more expense to replace jeans with the knees worn out and other worn out clothing. 

We do a lot of laundry here... we have traveled much for surgery for Son #2 several years ago... and he needed lots of medical supplies that the insurance didn't cover, and there have been many other financial drains.  All that to let you know that I am being real when I say that we have made a tight budget work. 

I have had many people ask me "HOW can you make it?" "What is your secret?".  There are lots of little things I can, and do, tell them... things that have helped me save money, but those things ARE little things... they add up, but they aren't big. I have thought it through to try to figure out how we are able to save or not spend money and that is what I want to share in this series.

I have been asked, many times, to share how we do this, so I am starting a series on Saving Money and this is Part 1.  I think sometimes when people ask me this question, they are wanting a quick 2-minute magical answer that will solve all of their money problems and allow them to buy whatever they want.

Saving money is important... my husband works hard and I do not want to squander what he makes and what God provides.

There are so many ways to save money... to make the money stretch further.... so many things that contribute to staying within our budget. Some of them are bigger than others... and some of them are very little by themselves, but all together... it works.

It's really not a magic thing... there are some methods to it, but nothing really big... and probably almost anyone can save some money with a few changes, unless they already live very frugally.

So.... the Number One way I save money is: I have decided....
 To be content with what I have.

  You may be thinking, "What?? I wanted practical tips...  I don't want to change anything."  Okay... I do understand...  and I will be giving practical tips also.... but seriously... being content with what we have, really has saved us more money than ANYTHING else!

 I told my husband I was writing this Saving Money Series and that this first post was to be about the #1 way I save money. I asked him what he thought number one was. He immediately said, "Going to garage sales."  That certainly does save a lot... but when I told him my thought was that being content with what I have is the biggest help, he quickly agreed and was totally in favor of that as number one. I appreciated running it by him and having his approval on it in case I had missed something.

 You probably wonder how just being content could be that big of a deal. 

We usually have a garage sale about twice a year... and we get so many of the same people every year that we enjoy catching up a bit with them. :) They have watched our children grow up during those twice a year visits. We have tried to show Jesus to them... and God has ministered to us and to those who come. Some of our "regulars" have died, some new people have become "regulars".... but there is a sense of meeting our friends at our garage sale. :)

We had one lady who came to every garage sale... and she always bought a LOT... not such a huge dollar amount, but she bought lots of stuff. We LOVED seeing her come... and she was so friendly too... we enjoyed it. We always helped to load her car and we wondered why she bought so much... she never told us. The last time I saw her a few years ago, she also bought a lot of stuff, but she had my husband and sons help her to pack it into the trunk so her husband wouldn't find it. I encouraged her to not buy the stuff if he would disapprove, that we shouldn't try to deceive our husbands, but she laughed and said it would be fine.. he wouldn't see it right away. I felt so sad... and grieved over that. I know that many people find their happiness in things... and I suspect she is one of them. There is no real happiness in that and I suspect her marriage is in big trouble... if she is still even married... and I am sad for her and her family.
I have seen people pay WAY too much for a hoodie while with friends... because friends were putting on pressure... or the person wants to measure up to those friends I have seen people go into debt to be admired.  I have seen people lose their homes and their families because of a love for things or something more than they have. 

We are given many messages of looking out for ourselves.....  getting what we want....  not being satisfied.
I have seen people who feel they will never be good enough because they can't afford the things other people have or go out to eat or do other entertainments. I have seen people who are perpetually disgruntled and think no one likes or respects them because they can't buy all of the latest things. What terrible lies we sometimes choose to believe!

There is something very freeing about not trying to "keep up with the Jones' "   When we decide to accept what God gives us and be thankful, we can stop comparing... stop looking to see if my stuff is as good as "theirs".... we can  relax and  enjoy those blessings without always wanting more or better. We can stop feeling deprived.

Years ago, I started to pray about the things we needed ... and I kept a Garage Sale Prayer List .  You can read it here if you like:  My Garage Sale Prayer List   I learned to wait...  and God provided... or helped me to do without the item. :)  I saw Him provide so many things that were just what I wanted or needed.... He still does that.  I have also determined to wait for Him to provide... whether for free or cheap or after He allowed us to save enough money..... and I learned to be open to the idea that He might say "No" and would give me the grace to do without it. 

We live in a middle class house and neighborhood...  we drive vehicles that are 12-15 years old... we get much most of our furniture used... also clothes, books, household items and more. We have nice things... and we have things we would like to replace... when God allows. :)  I don't want to live my life feeling grumpy for having to do without a new refrigerator or stove or whatever... I will not stay grumpy until I get it... NO, that is just plain sin...  I am choosing to be content. and I recognize that we are greatly blessed. We have so much to be thankful for.

That means that if money is too tight, I won't get my hair cut... or I will do it myself. It means that if money is tight, I won't buy cheese or peanut butter or whatever isn't a necessity... but I will be thankful for what I do have. 

 Lest this sound frivolous, we have had times years ago, where there was no money for groceries... and a bag of groceries given kept us from going hungry. Even then, the mac and cheese in the bag was made with only water... no milk or butter since we didn't have those at the time and no money either. We were thankful, although I would never choose to eat mac and cheese that way!!!  

It means that I can make do with what I have...  like the people who lived through the Depression, say....
Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. 
I would add that we can be thankful while doing it.

So, anyway... are there areas where you could learn to be content with what you have? Maybe you already are and reading this makes you feel guilty for wanting a new stove or something you really need. By the way, my stove recently started having trouble... it has 4 burners, but the 2 large ones and 1 small one no longer work or they don't work correctly. With a large family, we are down to only 1 little burner!!!  I would REALLY like to get a new stove and that is okay, especially since we also figured out that the oven isn't heating right either.  Guess what is on my prayer list?  :)  We have used it this way for 2-3 weeks, but my husband has now said we can get a new one... we just need to find the time to shop for one.  There are things that SHOULD be replaced.  If you are interested, you can read about that on this post:  Frugal? or Cheap?  

We live in a land of plenty... and compared to most of the world, we are very rich in material things....  so why do we feel we need so much more? How many more new things would it take for us to be... happy? Those things will never make us happy.... since it always takes... a little more... and there is no real satisfaction in things. Things can be nice... and enjoyed... but they do need to be kept in perspective... we are to USE things, not LOVE them.  
Food for thought... Are we thankful for what we have? Are we content? 

Thank you for visiting my post today... and I will be sharing practical money saving tips in future posts. I hope you will visit again and I look forward to reading your comments.  :)

Saving Money Series:
The Number One Way I Save Money!

Saving Money-Part 2-Grocery Shopping

Saving Money-Part 3-Buying Used

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Monday, April 20, 2015

God Feeds the Birds... a Bread Stick? :)

We know that God feeds the birds of the air....  

This time, He used a Little Caeser's bread stick to feed them. :)

 We stopped at Little Caeser's Pizza and while some in the family went in to buy the pizza, I watched the birds. These sparrows were eating... and fighting over... a breadstick on the pavement.

Now, that bread stick is pretty large compared to those little birds... and it seemed that they could share, but they fought over it.

When I first saw the scene, there was only one bird at the bread stick... but others came quickly, so I can understand the one sparrow defending his "find".

 There was much movement as they pecked at the bread and tried to pick it up.

 This went on for a while... back and forth. They were able to eat a little, but wanted the whole thing. 

All of a sudden, one of the birds picked up the whole bread stick... and flew with it. I wish I had gotten that photo, but it happened so quickly. It sure looked funny to see that little tiny sparrow flying with that long bread stick.

 After carrying it over, the bird stayed in that spot to eat the bread... all alone.... with no competition.  

Actually, just before we left the area, I saw the sparrow on the right in the picture above, turn and start to walk toward the bread stick again,  so I assume to battle continued.

It was entertaining to watch and I'm glad we saw the little drama that played out in the parking lot that day. I am reminded of what God says in Scripture....

"Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."  Matthew 10:31

I hope you have a great week... and if your heart is heavy with burdens, I hope you will remember that God values us more than those sparrows He continues to feed. May we walk faithfully with Him this week... and learn to trust Him more.  Thank you for visiting my blog today. :)

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Polycarp-Movie Review (Trailer included)

Recently, I was at a screening of the new 2015 movie, Polycarp, by Henline Productions. Before I went, I knew that Polycarp had been a real person killed for his faith in the early A.D. years, but I didn't know much more than that. I wasn't sure what to expect, but figured it wouldn't be entertaining, and rather would be educational... and probably difficult to watch.

I am SO GLAD I watched this movie.... what a blessing it was and my life will not be the same since watching it. The amazing faith and bravery displayed... the trust in the same God I serve...  the changes God can make in a person's life..... all impacted me greatly.

Though it isn't specifically an "entertainment" movie, it gripped my attention from the very beginning. I felt involved in the story from the start... and my heart was touched. There was adventure, intrigue, family, love, betrayal and more.

We were concerned about having our youngest daughter there... the movie is rated PG.... but though it was not an easy story to watch, we were not sorry she was there.

Polycarp Movie - Official Trailer     (Click to watch the trailer or watch below)

The movie is not available in theaters or on DVD yet... but it is being offered for screenings in churches right now.  This is how I saw it...  our church hosted a screening and invited the community to come. Our church did such a nice job of it... they had a large screen for showing it... the windows were covered and they had little battery candles on the floor to light the aisles. If I had thought of doing this post at that time, I would have taken some pictures that night... but I didn't and all of the pictures I am using have come from the Polycarp movie website. 

If you are interested in having a screen showing at your church, you can go to the website
 Polycarp Movie  .  On the website there is a page for churches and you can fill out an application. I think the pastor of the church can watch the film online to see if this is something he would like shown in his church.  From what I understand, there is not a set fee for showing the movie in your church... they just ask that you take an offering and send it to them. (You can find out more by going to the website.)Our church asked the members of our church (ahead of time) to give an offering, but the night of the movie, there was no offering taken since this was being done as a community outreach.

The money is being raised to get this movie into the theaters... it is a  worthwhile effort and I hope they are successful, which is why I decided to write this post. I also find that if I do see a movie, which isn't very often, sometimes I like parts of it and am disappointed in other parts. I feel that I can wholeheartedly endorse this movie-it truly is a blessing. 

By the way, that night at our church, after the movie, there were free snacks provided down in the fellowship hall... popcorn, Skittles, juice and cookies. It was simple, but wonderful also... and people stayed and visited for quite a while. We had the snacks afterwards because drinks and foods are not allowed in our sanctuary. The only reason I am telling what our church did is to give an idea of how this could be done in your church if you wish to do this, but don't have any idea of how to proceed or plan; however, it doesn't have to be done like this at all.  It turned out to be a wonderful event and I am so thankful to have been there. If you know of people who may be interested in this, please tell them about the movie... or send a link to this post. It is good to encourage those who put out good movies like this..... there are so many bad movies out there...and what a blessing when the good ones are produced.

So, if you get a chance to see this movie, I encourage you to do so... and I hope you will be as blessed by it as I have been. I look forward to reading your comments about this.  I would also love to hear if you have already seen it.  Thank you for visiting my blog today.  :)

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Stormy Spring Sky

It was a dark and gloomy evening...... then for just a very few minutes, the sun came out.

What had looked forbidding and unappealing, suddenly became beautiful.  :) 

Those dark clouds that had just been overcast, cloudy and rather tiresome.... suddenly became various shades of dark gray while the objects in the foreground were highlighted with the sun.

It looks so beautiful... and I was thankful to see it... because after only about 5 minutes, it was gone.... and all of the colorful appeal was missing. What was left was just drab and dreary... It was amazing that the sun made so much difference. 

I like the shadows and colors... and the sun highlights that. I have always enjoyed seeing dark cloudy skies with the sun shining on things in front of the clouds. What a wonderful contrast. 

It reminds me of how my life can look... drab, dreary and full of ongoing, unrelenting hard work. Nothing wonderful... nothing encouraging...   and then....  God shines His light on my life....  maybe it is a comment from a person who was encouraged by my words... or seeing an answer to a long-prayed prayer..... and all of a sudden, the drab difficult life... has beauty... and hope. 

The sky kept changing and the bit of sunlight was short-lived, but it made such a difference. I also find that when I keep my attention on Christ... trusting His Word and His work in my life... I see those glimpses of "sunlight" that so greatly highlight His love for me... and I am encouraged to keep on.  I also find that it helps to be watching for those bits of encouragement... they DO come, but the dreary can be overwhelming... and we can miss the blessings... if we are not watching.   I hope you will join me in watching God work.. in looking for the blessings... even in the midst of difficulty. God is faithful... it is He who will sustain me... and His plan is perfect.

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Enjoying the Sunset....

Sunsets.... we see them often, although sometimes we just take them for granted and don't really pay attention. They are amazingly beautiful though, as they change quickly.

We were out to have a picnic supper at the workplace of one of our sons. Since he works from 2-midnight, we miss having supper together, so we took some pizza and met him for supper.  It was later in the evening, the air was warm, the breeze was just enough to make it feel pleasant. It was a perfect night to be out and enjoy being together, plus we could watch the sunset. 

These pictures have been cropped, but are otherwise unedited. The sunset was just that beautiful. 

 The picture above was from the top of the van... we were driving, but we have a sunroof on our older minivan and so it is a novelty and this was a perfect night to have it open. I couldn't resist raising my camera up and snapping the picture. :)  Yes, I stayed in my seat with my seatbelt on. :) 

This next picture shows the sun settling lower in the sky.

 We were driving home from supper with our son, so I just kept snapping pictures. No, that house is not ours... just one we passed by and I liked the trees against the sky.

I loved the changing sky... the colors and clouds.... and the different trees in silhouette. I'm so glad we took the time to enjoy the sunset. Do you take the time to enjoy the beautiful sunsets God makes? Maybe it is time to do that again... I know I will be watching them. :)

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Sunday, April 5, 2015

My Book Sale Bargains

 A book sale is a lot of fun... we haven't been to one for many months and we always find a few books at this particular sale.  Once again.... I found some treasures....

It is nice to be able to search through so many books.... 
 Cookbooks, gardening books, herb books, music, old books, newer books, fiction, non fiction... so much to look through....

In our world today, books are not treasured as they once were... now people read on kindle, on their phone, on a computer... but I still like a "real" book... one that I can hold in my hand... one I can make notes in or highlight... and the book becomes so much more useful to me. 

I have bought many books at garage sales, library sales, other book sales... and I enjoy them... and we use our books. I have sometimes found books in new shape... even wonderfully bound Bibles. I talk to the people at the sales and have found many people who are selling their books because they don't need them anymore... they just use their electronic books. Some people no longer have ANY books in their home... only electronic books... including the Bible..... so if the grid goes down... these people don't even have a BIBLE? Wow.  Anyway... I will buy them....   :)
 A big sale like this was a bit overwhelming...especially when my time was limited... and I was thankful for the organization of the books... they had them in sections which were well-marked.  I couldn't stay long ... and had to rush... but I found some things.  Thankfully, two of my guys also went... and they carried my books. :)
 One thing I do at garage sales or book sales that are so large... is that I try to go through the sale, looking at items and choosing what I want or need... and then I go back through, going the opposite direction... I have found that I find treasures that way... things that I didn't even notice the first time through.

This is one of those... this book was tucked down in and I missed it the first time through... and I almost missed it the second time through. 

I tend to buy books for reference...and I bought herb books, health books, gardening books and more...

I like books and I look forward to using my new books... and putting them into our library so they will be available when I need them.

I also need to go through my books and pull the ones I no longer need... this is an important step. :)  Otherwise we have too many books and not enough room.  

I was pleased with my purchases... the paperback books were 75c each and  the hardcover were $1.50.  I think I got my money's worth. :)  I was sad to find out that this particular church book sale will no longer be holding book sales, but I know God will continue to provide through other sales. 

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