Saturday, September 22, 2007

Let Heaven Rejoice!

There is another soul marked for heaven as of Wednesday this week - our sweet Sarah prayed to receive Jesus as her Savior!

In quite the round-about fashion it started while Anna was at ballet and I had just gotten back in the minivan with Emily and Sarah. Before we had even pulled out of the parking lot Sarah started by telling me that her school prayer partner told her she is an "angel". Before I knew it she was saying she wanted to "pray that prayer where your sins are gone and you get to go to heaven, Can I do that now Mommy?". Then came a few more questions like "Will Jesus take me to heaven from the van?" "How does Jesus get into your heart?"

All this is taking place in our minivan on the way to Wednesday night church. Sarah was sitting in the third row and Emily was chattering away in the middle row.

She had asked a similar question several months ago, again while we were driving, and I had asked her if we could wait until we got home and Daddy could be with us. She agreed but then had completely forgotten about it by time we got home so we didn't press it. This time I didn't want to put her off. I only asked her if we could wait until we got parked so I could pray with her right next to me.

With a big beaming smile she said she wanted Jesus to clean the sins from her heart and to come live there forever. We got to prayed together which was a moment I'll never forget. Right before she bounced off into church she asked, in typical Sarah fashion, "Can Emily pray that prayer so she can have Jesus in her heart too?".

My heart is full to bursting with joy because another of our daughters has made the most wonderful choice of her (now eternal) life.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Budget, Groceries, and other Ugly Stuff

I am a close cousin to the Ostrich. The kind that bury their head in the sand when they are in danger (which is apparently a myth, but anyway...). The area of my life that consistently has me eating and breathing sand is in the area of budgeting. When things are moving along well in our financial world, I don't mind keeping my budget up to date. When unexpected things pop up and our budget starts to blow its borders I get more and more reluctant to even look at it. I'll find all kinds of excuses to not work on it. I know in my brain that not looking at it isn't going to make it any better, but that Ostrich in me likes to pretend it does. Usually it results in the problem getting worse. Isn't that true in all things?

Last week I finally gave in to the internal prodding (Holy Spirit's conviction!) to "unbury" myself both figuratively and literally. The desk area was looking more like the recycle bin every day. What I found at the bottom of that pile was not pretty. We use Mvelopes for our budgeting (based on Money Matters from Crown Financial Ministries, a cash/envelopes based system). I had to zero out every. single. category. We are a "carry no-credit" type family. Not that we don't use credit cards, but we don't carry credit from month to month. This means that what is in the checking account must cover what is on the MasterCard. This month that means that all our backlog of savings disappeared. Yikes. I'm glad I "unburied" my head now before we were paying the interest.

This prompted several changes in our household. The first of which was to take advantage of the bundled savings through Verizon for phone, Internet, TV. Should save us about $50-60 a month. The second was to start figuring ways to shave the grocery bill. A friend in Texas had started doing the Grocery Game. A friend in Texas had blogged about how she was saving significant money on groceries and household items by using the Grocery Game LIST to maximize coupons to stockpile things at rock bottom pricing. I've been doing it about 2 weeks and have saved about 30% so far (doubled my previous per trip savings) and it looks like I'll manage to save even more once I have collected more coupons. Lastly I'm looking to figure out how to save on our next biggest expenditure - gifts. Our biggest gift giving season is right around the corner - a ton of birthdays and, of course, Christmas. I'm praying for some good sales and some good ideas to come within the next few weeks!

So, how do you save on your expenses? Have you cut something you previous thought was a necessity? Have you started knitting? Do you sweat it out at 85 degrees in your house? I want to hear!