Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Seasons Always Change...

This week my parents took our 3 oldest children out to make gingerbread houses.  I was home with just my 1 and 2 year olds.  When we sat down to dinner that night, my husband remarked at how quiet our house was.  It was too quiet.  It felt empty.

But then we remembered...this was our life just a few years ago.  We had two small children and were expecting our third and life felt like it couldn't be busier.  Our house seemed loud and chaotic, and we were always chasing after one of them.

But now, having just the two littlest ones home, it felt completely different.  Our house felt peaceful.

So what changed?  Our 1 and 2 year olds are just as full of energy as their brother and sister.  Is it because we are older?  Do we have more patience now?  Maybe it's a little of both.  I think it's all about perspective.

Sometimes in the moment, we are so overwhelmed by life we can't see beyond our circumstances.

But life goes onThe seasons always change and these moments don't last forever.

I was thinking about all those cold winters in my life.  All those moments when we wondered how we would make it through.  We held onto our faith.  We held onto God's promise that He will never leave us.  And spring always came around again.

Sometimes it takes years for us to be able to look back and be thankful for those moments.  But as hard as they were, now I can say that I am a better person because of them.

I want to encourage you today, in whatever season you are in.  Through loss and grief, job changes and financial struggles...through pain and sickness, disappointments and rejection, through all the things in your day that overwhelm you...God will never leave you.  Never.

It's hard to see Him there in the moment.  It's hard to feel Him when our hearts are hurting, but we can't see the big picture.

It's like all those dry, dead looking bulbs hidden under the snow,the winter passes, the sun shines again, and their true beauty can bloom.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book Review: The Money Saving Mom's Budget

I have been a reader of for the past few years and have learned so much from Crystal Paine's financial advice and couponing tips.

That is why I am beyond excited to be given the opportunity to review her first book, The Money Saving Mom's Budget!

I have to admit, when the book first arrived and I flipped through the chapters, I wondered how much I would really learn.  I feel like I'm a pretty savvy shopper.  I carry around my well-stocked coupon binder, and I have learned the importance of saving and patience over spending and regretting.

But then I read the first chapter...and I was so inspired!

Yes, this book is packed full of practical money-saving tips, but what I learned most from this book was the importance of dreaming big, setting goals and making a plan to reach them.

So many times I put so much effort into clipping coupons and living frugally that it can feel overwhelming.  It does take sacrifice and when I focus on what I am giving up, I forget what I am doing all this for.

I was very encouraged by setting goals for myself (big and small) and finding ways to break them into smaller, more reachable pieces.

This book is obviously about saving money, but she teaches you how to not only budget your finances, but budget your time.

I have been on a journey to simplify my life for some time now, and her chapters on decluttering, finding your priorities and choosing contentment were very inspiring.

I do not know Crystal Paine personally, but she writes in a way that makes you feel like you do.  She is open and honest about her struggles and weaknesses and as she shares her story, you feel like you are sitting over coffee with an old friend.

The Money Saving Mom's Budget also features budget sheets and worksheets in the appendix to help you get your plan onto paper.  She makes it feel doable, not intimidating.

But my favorite part is that Crystal has generously decided to donate all the proceeds from her book to Compassion International, a charity that is very dear to my heart.
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