Wednesday, April 25, 2007

More on Frugal Meal Planning!

Update to this post: Frugal Living Journal also linked to this amazing lady who spends $25 a week on groceries for two (click here). (And all of the comments by Mrs. B are actually not from me!) I am fascinated by this. I have recently started doing the finances for the Butts home and I'm amazed how easy it is spend money - a little here, a little there. Even though we feel like we are pretty frugal. Thankfully, Pastor Steve of Heritage Baptist did our pre-marital counseling and got us started with a really awesome Excel template and worked with us to get a budget going. Keeping it is the harder part. :) We're trying really hard to get our grocery and entertainment (and book!) budget down. I have several ideas, but this link is really helpful. I've tried the homemade granola thing, too. One more idea, for anyone interested:

It's really terrific, or so I'm reading, to find things from your pantry and plan your meals around that. If you have pasta and tomato sauce, there's a meal. If you have some veggies in your freezer, use them up. Do you have the ingredients to make a smoothie? If you can just buy one more thing and have a meal because you have MOST of the ingredients, this is a million times better than planning to make a new recipe with random ingredients while your pantry is already full. And you can get a really cheap week in AND clear out your pantry/frig/freezer. :) So... that's what I'm doing for next week. Maybe I can get it under $25. Who knows?

Here's my latest question. What do my friends who read this do to save money on groceries? Do share.

4/25 - Dropped by Frugal Living on my break, (6 more conferences down) and was surprised to see a recent post dedicated to responding to one of my comments about budgeting/meal planning. Have a look see.

So much to learn... I welcome any tips. It's amazing how many helpful sites there are online for freezing things ahead.

Whistle while you work.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Unwinding From the 1st Conference Marathon

Hi all,

It's Conference Week here at Christian Academy. 8 down. This means I have to put on my best professional face (and clothes) and chat eloquently and graciously with parents. Of course, we discuss their student's progress as well as provide constructive criticism, and at our school, it brings the opportunity to pray with each family. It also means that the kids don't come to school on Wednesday, which is technically Conference Day. At any rate, it's somewhat exhausting. And while I should be grading or driving home, there is something peaceful about just chilling for a second, so here I am! Please pray for endurance this week. I see many amazing families, but also some with parenting styles I am completely opposed to... I see hard families (mainly one) where your heart can almost break just knowing that your kid goes home to this. I have to preach to myself the sovereignty and omnipresence and trustworthiness of God!

I do feel like these kids are mine, in a small sense. Dustin and I can't wait to have kids - 5 perhaps... but these are some special students. You'll see their faces scattered on my facebook and some of you have even met them. (Eron, you'd get a kick out of some of Dalton's most recent theological ponderings.) I love them. Daily, I'm developing a philosophy of education. I wish I had more examples of classical education, because we are very interested in classical education. Funny that I work here then, huh? I think that's okay. It's a season. With education, it can be hard to draw the line down SO hard and SO strong that there is only one right or wrong way to do it. Well, I'm rambling here, but I come to the season (see last year's blog) where I start naturally reflecting upon the year. I see my need for growth and I'm encouraged by growth since last year, but I also realize that this is not my "career" and my heart is not primarily here. It takes the majority of my time, but my heart is at home. For now though and a few more weeks specifically, I can call these kids "mine" to some degree. Not mine to raise, but mine to encourage, help, guide, pray for, discipline, love, and laugh at... I mean with. :) They are hilarious. And to see them grow is wonderful. They had no clue how to do a major outline a few weeks ago and now they have this polished, typed, wonderful research paper. It's neat to see kids learn.

Well, we did enjoy Thunder last weekend. I had to grade a little, but a good time was had by all. I love fireworks and this show is GOOD. It's one of those things that you have to do at least once. Great picture (thanks, Alicia) of Blake and Dustin below. Fascinated by a gentleman we met. Here's his story: raised as a strict Presbyterian in Scotland (great accent), retired and moved here to work as a full-time volunteer (24-7 basically - cooks, cleans, helps, leads trips, the works) at a group home for the mentally handicapped. He's been here for 6 years. At the home, they attend a unitarian church, but he doesn't really hold to any specific beliefs. He is lost, no doubt. He doesn't claim to be a man of faith and we did have some conversations (though I wish I would have been bolder) about the Gospel. But the point for this conversation is this: how someone who does not know Christ could so sacrificially (and humbly, I might add) pour out his life for others. He had great joy in hiw work, in the 2 guys from the home he brought with him, he was smiling, loving life, thanking me for being a teacher, chatting with Dustin about cool Irish pubs, he was just a nice, nice, nice person. But there are myriads of really nice lost people. They intimidate me sometimes in witnessing. I wonder if I seem as joyful and content and I DO know Christ. I've been thinking about this. The niceness of many lost people. The humanitarian efforts (many which I think Christians should also be involved in) of so many kind, homeless-loving, people-loving LOST people. I think this is good food for thought. The whole conversation (2 hours-ish) challenged me.

Dustin is finishing up the semester, and it is busy. He should be wrapping up his classes for the day pretty soon and Tuesday nights are pretty free, so tonight should be nice and somewhat restful. I was able to attend a class with him last Thursday when I took off. It was neat to tag alon and get a peek at a seminary class.

Some consideration of a thoughtful post I ran across from our friend about the narcissism of blogging. Trying to figure out if I'm in that camp. Don't want this to be a self-propagating time-waster, but I also think the update purpose is for others (hopefully!) and the recipes are for homemaking. What do you think?

Other updates:
Running on Sarah Dodson's plan. It's going well. This week anyway. :)

We're attending a wedding for our friends from church, Will and Vanessa this weekend. They have a fancy blog, so go look at their cool pics to see them. It should be really fun and encouraging.

Mindy's coming at the end of next month. Hooray! She and I will attend the New Attitude conference, or as much as I can with some school left. AND, she'll be just in time for 5A's 1st annual milk-and-cookies come-and-go (a mouthful, I know) party at the Butts! I'm glad she gets to meet my kiddos.

Happy Birthday yesterday, to Dustin's sweet mom, my sweet mother-in-law, Mrs. Carolyn Butts. We love you!!

Reading Chapter 2 of D.O.G. Excited about it. More on this soon.

That's it for awhile.

Take care.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Birthday Week :)

Happy Birthday!!
Max Man turned 8 on Tuesday. We love you, Max!

Dustin is 25 today!! Send him an e-mail if you want. I am attempting a big surprise for him today. Took the day off. I "headed to work" at the normal time and when I knew he was gone, I turned right back home. Have a special lunch ready for later. Hoping he likes it. He'll be here pretty soon. It's our joke that I'm pretty awful at surprises. I love my husband. Sweet Julie and my wonderful Nana are also having birthdays this week! I love you all!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Blog Series - D.O.G. # 1

Chapter 1 - How Good Is Good Enough?

I'm going to try and post fairly often about The Discipline of Grace, the book I mentioned we're going through for our women's small group book study. MOST LIKELY, I will just give you some quotes. I may talk about some things we hit on in our small group or I may find snippets of time to add my own thoughts. I may summarize some of the chapters.

Here are a few quotes from the first chapter. I love this book. We have our first small group over it tonight.

"The pursuit of holiness requires sustained and vigorous effort. It allows for no indolence, no lethargy, no halfhearted commitment, and no laissez faire attitude toward even the smallest of sins. In short, it demands the highest priority in the life of a Christian, because to be holy is to be like Christ - God's goal for every Christian... (later) At the same time, however, the pursuit of holiness must be anchored in teh grace of God; otherwise it is doomed to failure."

"A significant part of the Mosaic Law was the promise of blessing for obedience and curses for disobedience... Some Christians live as if that principle applies to them today. But Paul said that 'the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we may be justified by faith' (Gal. 3:24). Chrsit has already borne the curses for our disobedience and earned for us the blessings of obedience. As a result we are now to look to Christ alone - not Christ plus performance - for God's blessing in our lives. We are saved by grace and we are to live by grace alone."

Bridges talks a lot about so-called "good days/bad days" in the Christian walk. Why do we think like that? We can "focus on our external performance and become proud like the Pharisees" or we can have feelings of guilt at our spiritual failures.

"On a good day, as we perceive it, we tend toward self-righteous Pharisaism. On a not-so-good day we allow ourselves to wallow in a sense of failure and guilt. In fact, it may be more than not-so-good days - it may be weeks or months."

"Our own performance is never good enough to be acceptable to Him. The only way we can relate to God is throught the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ."

"The gospel, applied to our hearts ever day, frees us to be brutally honest with ourselves and God. The assurance of His total forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Christ means we don't have to play defensive games anymore... rationalizing and excusing our sins. We can call sin exactly what it is, regardless of how ugly and shameful it may be, because we know that Jesus bore that sin in His body on the cross."

Then, he goes on to address possible responses to this kind of thinking and addresses motives in discipline.

It's just so stinkin' good so far. I read the first chapter twice and I can't wait until tonight. If you find these quotes helpful, but don't have time to read the book, join with me in hearing some quotes from time to time and I'll keep them coming. I'll try to just pick a few for easier reading next time. I could barely narrow down my list of quotes to share. :)

It may be review, but I definitely needed to hear it. I needed this book in college!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

We're back.

Well, I tried to post a nice long update from our trip... pictures, links, stories, the works. It ruined my whole sidebar and frankly, I just don't care that much. I tried. :) I'm just not terrific at formatting Blogger with pictures. Here's one picture and here's hoping. We had a wonderful time.

Linkin' Up - a fun site for you that has especially helpful links
Frugal Living Journal

Thursday, April 05, 2007

hoping to hear from you

I like it when people are transparent. One of our church's new members, Samantha, has a very real question and she said I could post it on here. Don't let her down. If you have an answer and a few minutes or an encouraging word, leave her a comment at her original post. Thanks!

Here are her thoughts/questions:

I can't believe I have never gone through Joshua. I think it is one of those books that I thought I had read since I know the children's story. Anyways, I am reading Joshua right now and I have a really hard time with it. As I am reading, I find it disheartening that God can order Joshua to kill off everyone including children and women in order to fulfill his covenant with the Israelites. It's been really hard for me to pray. I feel anger inside as I try to understand a God who has all power and dominion over the universe and chooses to do as he please for his glory. Can someone please explain to me how we, as Christians, can justify to others why our God commands that we do not murder yet he can orchestrate the whole thing himself? I am at a loss.

"Spring" Break!

Well, the sun was shining and the birds were chirping, but now we're back to heavy coats, sweaters and running our heater again. Oh well... it shouldn't last for too long. We had a pretty good taste of what is to come. I love Spring! Thankfully, the time has finally come for a much-needed break as well. I have 2 conference periods today where I'll be lesson planning like crazy (here in a few minutes, of course). Then... come 2:40, it's Good Friday/Spring Break! PTL! One of our elders invited us over to have Easter lunch with their family and our entire home group after church on Sunday, so we are looking forward to that! It's been neat to have some encouraging conversations with the kids at school about the purpose of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Well, we are spoiled, because we are both off of work at the same time as the seminary's break! Dustin and I started scheming about a quick road trip. We had a few rules that we both agreed upon, which is why we get along so well:

1. We didn't want to drive far. Why waste the whole week in the car...

2. We didn't care much about sight-seeing, for this trip anyway

3. We didn't want to spend much money.

4. We want to REST and guard our time together.

After some savvy price-line.coming, my husband found a GREAT deal on a really nice hotel in Cincinnati! It's going to be a blast.

So, Lord willing (I heard a convicting Piper sermon on the way to work this morning about the pride in presuming upon the surety of our plans vs. the humility of depending on God for even the smallest details of our life), we'll be headed to Cincinatti Tuesday-Thursday. We'll probably have our cell phones off, so we'll catch you when we get back. Pray that the Lord would grace us with a relaxing and refreshing time for us together as well as spiritual refreshment. Ready for a retreat.

Oh... and besides the joy of getting away a little and spending time together, we were both thrilled to realize another perk. Can you guess? There's not one in Kentucky. It's right down the street from our hotel next week! I've been missing it like crazy! Erin and Mindy really enjoy it. Dustin and I enjoyed our first real meal together here...

Here's your hint:

Monday, April 02, 2007

Ramblings on Fresh Starts =P

Most people dread Mondays. There are times when I join ranks with those who would rather stay tucked under the covers or do just about anything than go turn off the alarm and start another work week.

BUT there is a sense where Mondays are often a fresh start for me, depending on how prepared I am. It is nice to have lessons planned and papers graded (I just have the former) and the classroom clean (yea), but that's not really what I'm getting at here.

I need a fresh start. I need lots. My New Year's Resolutions lasted longer than some years, but of course, my lofty goals eventually started fizzing out one by one. The only one I have consistently kept is, suprisingly, the No Dr. Pepper/cokes (with 3 planned grace days for the year). I didn't wake up at 5 EVERY morning. I didn't work out twice a week and keep up with my Traineo. Sorry, Gerlts and Laura. I didn't do my "morning maintenance checklist" or my "daily do-it cleaning schedule" or always stick with my "3-week rotating menu" and I didn't drink 64 oz. of water a day. I didn't grade papers for an hour after school every day. Bible plan was hit and miss. I didn't memorize a verse a week and grow much in my prayer life. I could go on and on in this self-debasing ritual that really isn't too difficult. It's so easy to know exactly what we DIDN'T do and what we SHOULD have done and how FAR SHORT we fall. There's a lot that could be said here. Whose standards did we fall from? Ours or the Lord? What is our perspective of grace in the disciplines we pursue? Where do we lean on our strength rather than lean on the Lord and on other believers for accountability and prayer? Did I set goals too high? Too low? Misplaced goals all together. Is sleep more important than exercise? Is grading more important than food on the table (NO)? Is this more important than that????

Anyway. I guess I don't have time to ramble on about my thoughts on fresh starts. I'm going to work out today... although it's been TOO long. I made a few freezer meals for the week so that I can catch up on grading and spend more time working on the home and spending with sweet Dustin. No more snoozing. Who needs to wait until New Year's to make new goals? But when will I learn the perspective of grace (and the proper one... not a lazy excuse to be idle in these goals)? When will time management fall in place? I know one thing... discipline is not easy and it is not cheap. I know that the only good in me is Jesus. And I'm thankful...

OH... and a link - Reflections on Easter (With Some Song Recommendations).