Friday, December 23, 2011

Making More Time Part 7

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:53 AM 2 comments
It's been a while since I've posted about making more time. I've been making more time for Christmas cards, presents, finishing homeschooling and starting a new book. When these things take over, blogging gets pushed to the back burner. But, a request from a fellow writer to guest blog has gotten me back on. And now I'll share the last two tips on making more time, in a season when it's highly needed.

As a reminder, the first six tips are:
1 - Monitor how you spend your time
2 - Open yourself to change
3 - Redeem your time for the most important things
4 - Eliminate or reduce time stealers
5 - Take time to organize
6 - Include the fun stuff

And number 7 is - Make sure God comes first

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.Deuteronomy 6:5

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

These are Biblical principles known to many, but how do you put it into action? What does it mean day-in and day-out? It means scheduling your time around God and His priorities, instead of trying to squeeze God in around everything else we have to do. And surprisingly, when we do this, our time and effectiveness will actually increase.

We often try to do things in our own strength, which always fails eventually. Spending time with and relying on God for direction, wisdom, and strength will provide us with everything we need to live with joy and balance each day.

But what about when things get chaotic? Life often throws us off balance and circumstances come up that take up time in our already full schedules. If we’re standing on God as the Rock of our life and the Lord of every detail, He will guide us through every single detail.

Also, it's important not to see things as stealing your time. Every breath we take is a gift from God and we’re here for His purpose. Our time is His and our job is to live each second of it in gratefulness and obedience through the power of His Holy Spirit.

Putting God first doesn't mean you have to become a morning person and spend a couple hours in prayer and the Word (although it most certainly doesn't hurt anything), it means actively pursuing a deep relationship with God on a daily basis. And when our time is viewed as a gift from God and we dedicate everything we do to Him, our time will increase exponentially.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How I filled 6 Stockings for under $50

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:46 AM 0 comments
I'm a pretty frugal person, but I also like to buy gifts. Especially for those closest to me. We decided to do a simple Christmas this year. We only bought each child one gift of $20 or less (the littlest got 3 gifts, as her items cost a lot less.) We're doing homemade gifts for friends and family, excluding the parents. Our most exciting gifts of this year were our donation to Lottie Moon and the purchase of a bike for a missionary in Asia. Last night, I got to do one of the things I enjoy the most: I raided the Dollar Tree for stocking stuffers. And I got out of there for under $50! With enough items to fill 6 stockings (okay, hubby's isn't quite full, but mine is :)

So how did I do it? The trick, first, is to think small for stockings. The big gifts (even if it's just one per person) are under the tree. Stockings are for extra treats. The second trick is to shop a dollar store (or the dollar bins at Target or Wal-Mart.) The third trick is to buy multi-packed items. I like to buy things useful, and my kids are fairly used to this, so they don't complain. I also add in fun stuff. So here's what they got:

a highlighter (bought as pack of 4)
Christmas stickers (they're really gift tags, 4 sheets for $1)
gum (these come in packs, the older ones got 4 different flavors)
mints (also sold in multi-packs)
coloring book (each of younger got one, oldest got a small spiral notebook)
play kitchen items (set of 3 spatulas -each girl got one, ramekins - two youngest got set of 3 each)
bags of self-adhesive foam craft items
new toothbrushes (two got toothpaste in the package)
new bath sponges (they even had the fun animal ones)
a miniature coke glass (they each get one every year, they're 2/$1)
spy kits (one for each oldest 2, fingerprint kit and decoder)
glue stick
dry erase marker

So, that's my list. Fun and useful combined in one!

For me (yes, I stuff my own stocking - because I can!), I got new hot pads for the kitchen, a kitchen timer for school (for math speed drills), teacher tape with letters & numbers, reward stickers, green bags for fruits and veggies, my favorite blue gel pens, and gum, and super glue.

Hubby gets a new click n flame lighter, disposable vinyl gloves (he complained we didn't have any in the kitchen the other day - gag gifts work well for stockings), and gum.

Oh, yeah, and I bought a box of hot chocolate mix and gave everyone a packet.

So, it can be done. You can stuff stockings for less than $10 a piece, if you're creative and see it as fun.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Compassion for Christmas

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:41 AM 0 comments

Guest Post by Jennifer Slattery:



As I look around my house, wrapping paper strewn across the floor, packages lined on the shelves, and shopping lists still waiting to be fulfilled, a twinge of conviction nabs my heart. Each present, each tinsel, each afternoon shopping spree has the capacity to send our daughter a message–to train generosity or materialism. Each holiday celebration can either draw her heart further to Christ or center it more firmly around herself.

A while back I realized if I truly wanted to train compassion, I needed to pull her out of middle-class suberbia once in a while. It’s easy to long for X-boxes and other trinkets–to feel entitled and deprived–when you’re surrounded by friends who have those very items you lack. But surrounded by extreme poverty, by those who have little if anything to call their own, those wants begin to fade as something else rises in their place–compassion. Realizing this, my husband and I started to make determined efforts to place her in serving roles, around those who had far less than her. And we’ve noticed a definite change–less of the gimmes and a stronger desire to give.

What about you? What will you do to actively train compassion and contentment this year? Don’t buy into the lie that your children need one hundred gifts under the tree. In fact, those gifts you fought for, stood in line for, scrimped and saved to give them, could very well do more harm than good. Our children don’t need more cause to think of themselves, but instead, encouragement to look beyond and into the hearts of others.

As parents, may we remember our greatest call is to train not the next CEO but instead, a fully-devoted follower of Christ. With each activity we plan and conversation we initiate, may the lofty call outlined in Philipians 2:1-8 burn fresh in our minds as we remember this call is not for us alone, but for our children as well.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very natureof a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!

Lord, this Christmas remove materialism from my heart and home. Remind me to demonstrate it’s true meaning in how I spend my time, the things I buy, and the words I say. Prevent me from spreading the cancer of materialism into the lives of others and may I instead encourage radical obedience and full surrender.

Jennifer Slattery
Broken Lives Saturated by Grace
http://JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com

Friday, December 23, 2011

Making More Time Part 7

It's been a while since I've posted about making more time. I've been making more time for Christmas cards, presents, finishing homeschooling and starting a new book. When these things take over, blogging gets pushed to the back burner. But, a request from a fellow writer to guest blog has gotten me back on. And now I'll share the last two tips on making more time, in a season when it's highly needed.

As a reminder, the first six tips are:
1 - Monitor how you spend your time
2 - Open yourself to change
3 - Redeem your time for the most important things
4 - Eliminate or reduce time stealers
5 - Take time to organize
6 - Include the fun stuff

And number 7 is - Make sure God comes first

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.Deuteronomy 6:5

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

These are Biblical principles known to many, but how do you put it into action? What does it mean day-in and day-out? It means scheduling your time around God and His priorities, instead of trying to squeeze God in around everything else we have to do. And surprisingly, when we do this, our time and effectiveness will actually increase.

We often try to do things in our own strength, which always fails eventually. Spending time with and relying on God for direction, wisdom, and strength will provide us with everything we need to live with joy and balance each day.

But what about when things get chaotic? Life often throws us off balance and circumstances come up that take up time in our already full schedules. If we’re standing on God as the Rock of our life and the Lord of every detail, He will guide us through every single detail.

Also, it's important not to see things as stealing your time. Every breath we take is a gift from God and we’re here for His purpose. Our time is His and our job is to live each second of it in gratefulness and obedience through the power of His Holy Spirit.

Putting God first doesn't mean you have to become a morning person and spend a couple hours in prayer and the Word (although it most certainly doesn't hurt anything), it means actively pursuing a deep relationship with God on a daily basis. And when our time is viewed as a gift from God and we dedicate everything we do to Him, our time will increase exponentially.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How I filled 6 Stockings for under $50

I'm a pretty frugal person, but I also like to buy gifts. Especially for those closest to me. We decided to do a simple Christmas this year. We only bought each child one gift of $20 or less (the littlest got 3 gifts, as her items cost a lot less.) We're doing homemade gifts for friends and family, excluding the parents. Our most exciting gifts of this year were our donation to Lottie Moon and the purchase of a bike for a missionary in Asia. Last night, I got to do one of the things I enjoy the most: I raided the Dollar Tree for stocking stuffers. And I got out of there for under $50! With enough items to fill 6 stockings (okay, hubby's isn't quite full, but mine is :)

So how did I do it? The trick, first, is to think small for stockings. The big gifts (even if it's just one per person) are under the tree. Stockings are for extra treats. The second trick is to shop a dollar store (or the dollar bins at Target or Wal-Mart.) The third trick is to buy multi-packed items. I like to buy things useful, and my kids are fairly used to this, so they don't complain. I also add in fun stuff. So here's what they got:

a highlighter (bought as pack of 4)
Christmas stickers (they're really gift tags, 4 sheets for $1)
gum (these come in packs, the older ones got 4 different flavors)
mints (also sold in multi-packs)
coloring book (each of younger got one, oldest got a small spiral notebook)
play kitchen items (set of 3 spatulas -each girl got one, ramekins - two youngest got set of 3 each)
bags of self-adhesive foam craft items
new toothbrushes (two got toothpaste in the package)
new bath sponges (they even had the fun animal ones)
a miniature coke glass (they each get one every year, they're 2/$1)
spy kits (one for each oldest 2, fingerprint kit and decoder)
glue stick
dry erase marker

So, that's my list. Fun and useful combined in one!

For me (yes, I stuff my own stocking - because I can!), I got new hot pads for the kitchen, a kitchen timer for school (for math speed drills), teacher tape with letters & numbers, reward stickers, green bags for fruits and veggies, my favorite blue gel pens, and gum, and super glue.

Hubby gets a new click n flame lighter, disposable vinyl gloves (he complained we didn't have any in the kitchen the other day - gag gifts work well for stockings), and gum.

Oh, yeah, and I bought a box of hot chocolate mix and gave everyone a packet.

So, it can be done. You can stuff stockings for less than $10 a piece, if you're creative and see it as fun.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Compassion for Christmas


Guest Post by Jennifer Slattery:



As I look around my house, wrapping paper strewn across the floor, packages lined on the shelves, and shopping lists still waiting to be fulfilled, a twinge of conviction nabs my heart. Each present, each tinsel, each afternoon shopping spree has the capacity to send our daughter a message–to train generosity or materialism. Each holiday celebration can either draw her heart further to Christ or center it more firmly around herself.

A while back I realized if I truly wanted to train compassion, I needed to pull her out of middle-class suberbia once in a while. It’s easy to long for X-boxes and other trinkets–to feel entitled and deprived–when you’re surrounded by friends who have those very items you lack. But surrounded by extreme poverty, by those who have little if anything to call their own, those wants begin to fade as something else rises in their place–compassion. Realizing this, my husband and I started to make determined efforts to place her in serving roles, around those who had far less than her. And we’ve noticed a definite change–less of the gimmes and a stronger desire to give.

What about you? What will you do to actively train compassion and contentment this year? Don’t buy into the lie that your children need one hundred gifts under the tree. In fact, those gifts you fought for, stood in line for, scrimped and saved to give them, could very well do more harm than good. Our children don’t need more cause to think of themselves, but instead, encouragement to look beyond and into the hearts of others.

As parents, may we remember our greatest call is to train not the next CEO but instead, a fully-devoted follower of Christ. With each activity we plan and conversation we initiate, may the lofty call outlined in Philipians 2:1-8 burn fresh in our minds as we remember this call is not for us alone, but for our children as well.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very natureof a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!

Lord, this Christmas remove materialism from my heart and home. Remind me to demonstrate it’s true meaning in how I spend my time, the things I buy, and the words I say. Prevent me from spreading the cancer of materialism into the lives of others and may I instead encourage radical obedience and full surrender.

Jennifer Slattery
Broken Lives Saturated by Grace
http://JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com
 

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