Dealing with hard times · Grandparents · Parenting · salvation

The Perfect Treasure

Walking along the shoreline of the ocean begs for shell-seeking. As you walk along you are blinded by glimmers of colors pressed into the sand. You hear the crunch of the buried bits under your feet and an inquisitive mind wonders what treasures could be revealed just under their sandalled foot.

We bend down and scour the sand. What are we looking for? The perfect shell. Not one that has been walked upon, like we just did moments before! No, we seek for one that is unbroken; one that is completely whole with nothing missing or cracked. Those finds are rare. They are discovered by the early morning seekers, donned in water boots, standing ankle deep in the ocean’s foam to make their find before the lazy beachcombers awaken.

As I surveyed the beach on a mid-morning walk last week, I saw a shell in all its beauty! It appeared perfect! I snapped a picture to document my perfect find!

As I bent down and inspected the shell, I was reminded of how we also seek perfection in the children that would enter our home. “As long as their healthy, that’s all that matters!” we say. And what do we do if we find that there is a problem – a crack, if you will?

  • What if a piece is missing, causing an illness or an unwanted diagnosis later on?
  • What if their make-up is strong-willed and stubborn?
  • What if there are special needs?
  • What happens if there is a learning disability?
  • What if rebellion comes with age and maturity?
  • What ever will we do with the brokenness that displays itself at the time when we are most embarrassed by it?

The truth is that every child is broken. It comes as a result of being born into a sinful, broken world that has put sin in their nature. That “crack” will be seen in each child in different ways and different times, but it’s there. The blessing isn’t from overlooking the imperfection, but acknowledging it, for then we can find the Hope needed to comfort and restore.

That hope is the grace of God that brings salvation. As sure as the ocean’s tide will cover that broken shell on the shoreline, God’s grace will cover our child as they hear the message of the Gospel. Their greatest need isn’t to be “fixed,” but to be saved. If their weakness, brokenness and imperfection will point them to Jesus as the Savior for their sins, would it not be a treasure for which we did not ask?

What about illnesses, weaknesses and deformities and struggles that put hardship on the parents? God’s grace is as deep as the ocean, and it is sufficient for each day’s burdens and struggles. As the grace of God is witnessed by His daily strength to help, His wisdom to know how to move forward, and His provision that supplies for needs, that weakness glorifies the God who made that child and formed them in the womb. Surely He also puts in our hearts that this is not forever. One Day wholeness will come.

As I watch the waves roll in, one at a time, the Lord reminds me that that is how grace is given to us – one need at a time – not before we need it, or less than we need, but when we need it, and in sufficient amounts.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. II Corinthians 12:9

After careful examination, it turned out that the “perfect shell” I found wasn’t perfect after all. Lovely as they are, I also saw early on that my girls were also broken, just like their parents! Praise God for the saving grace that has been applied to their lives and that is continually working in each of us as we look forward to that day in heaven when we will be like Jesus! That’s when we will see perfection!

Oh, how God’s heart rejoices at those that go looking for the broken! That refers to those that need the Gospel. With whom are we sharing the Good News of Christ?
Are you pouring the Gospel message into your children every day, weaving its message into all of life? As parents, it’s your responsibility!
If you don’t have children in your home, are you teaching the Gospel to your grandchildren or to your friends, neighbors and the people with whom you interact?

Let’s not be looking for what our hearts think we need (perfection) and instead, purposefully look for the brokenness around us that needs the tidal wave of God’s saving grace! There is no greater Treasure!

Saving money on groceries

How Reverse Menu Planning Saves Money on Groceries

Last week when I shared about ways to save on groceries, my strong admonition was to buy what’s on sale. Today I want clarify and detail what that looks like.

The bread and avocados were grocery store mark downs and made for a delicious breakfast this week!

Of course you want to look at the store’s sites/ads and see what items they have marked down this week. This enables you to purchase items when they are marked at a lower price. You can establish a menu around those items, BUT WAIT!

When you’re at the store, go deep diving into each section of the store looking for their Marked Down items. This would be their
Clearance aisle, the corner of the meat section for meat that’s ready to expire, and also items on shelves that have sale stickers on them.
Kroger and Ingles are two places where I often see these kind of sales.

For example – A couple weeks ago I walked into Kroger’s produce section and found these bags in a large cooler…

The date was for a few days out! They also had the salad bowls for 25 cents! I purchased what I knew we could enjoy before they went bad. Obviously, I hadn’t known to add this to my list, but it was nice to incorporate that into my menu planning when I got home!

Often I find bananas marked down, or yogurt, or beef. Then I go home and make up my menu using those items. If I needed a cake and I found the bananas marked down, I’d make this Banana Cake, rather than one that calls for all kinds of extra ingredients that I would have to purchase at full price.

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This is called Reverse menu planning (thanks for the term, Money-Saving Mom!). I’ve been doing this all my homemaking life, I just didn’t know what it was called!

This kind of shopping and PLANNING is totally opposite of not having a plan and then running to the store to buy needed items for a recipe.

Reverse menu planning is buying what’s on sale and/or marked to clearance, then using what I have on hand to make up the week’s menu.

Here’s a sampling of what’s on my menu next week because I went shopping and got these items when they were marked down!

I always have frozen and canned vegetables on hand for side dishes, though I do purchase fresh fruits and veggies at regular price.

If you are in a place where you only order groceries on-line, you can still get the benefit of the advertised sales, and that will help your grocery budget. But if you’re able to go into the store, keep your eyes open for those good mark downs and don’t be afraid of them. They’re still good for purchasing and consuming!

Have you heard of Reverse Menu Planning? Maybe like me, you’ve been doing it, but didn’t know what to call it?! Tell me about a deal you scored recently!

Vacation tips · Winter

A January Beach Vacation

Vacations have been at a premium for the last couple of years, haven’t they? I’m sure very few people have not had their leisure time changed in some way.

That is certainly true for us! Our December beach vacation and time in Pigeon Forge were all cancelled because my husband was sick. We changed our reservations for our Myrtle Beach trip to January. What? The beach in January? Yes, we figured even if it is cold, it would be warmer than Tennessee! We certainly got that one right!

Snow was forecasted for our area for Sunday – the day we were to leave, so we packed up one day early and left town before the flurries and ice began! Whew!

We traveled on Saturday and woke up Sunday morning in SC where it was cold and rainy, but NOT snowing! We stayed in a hotel one night until our week’s reservations began elsewhere Sunday evening. We enjoyed a nice breakfast in the Holiday Inn Express breakfast room that overlooks the inlet before we headed to church.

We love the church we’ve found here at the beach. The young pastor preaches expositionally through a book of the Bible and we were blessed to hear his message from Galatians 1 about staying true to the Doctrines of the Word of God and not falling into a false Gospel. What a powerful word for the day in which we live! The Gospel is Christ alone – no works, not anything or anyone else added. He is the only way to God. So encouraging to hear that message!

We ate Sunday dinner at Flying Fish – a favorite place of ours. The meal was exceptional and a lovely retreat from the pouring rain outside!

Monday we were happy to see some sunshine, though it was still cold.

Nothing beats an ocean view first thing in the morning! We enjoyed walks on the beach each day, the briskness was invigorating and made me feel a little better about the fried fish we would eat!

I have a husband that really enjoys shopping! We walked through the shops at The Common, where we enjoyed the Southern Living Store, Barnes and Nobles and then lunch at California Pizza. Their Golden Hawaiian Pizza was different and delicious!

There are lots of other good shopping places in Myrtle Beach and this is a great time of year to find good bargains. I found a few little treasures, some gifts, and a picture I needed for a bathroom I’m updating. It was at Hobby Lobby and marked from $19.99 to $4.99. It’s in perfect condition and it’s going to be so pretty in my house!

For meals, our practice is that we eat breakfast in our room, then go out for lunch where we eat our “big meal of the day.” Then in the evening I fix lunch in our room. My breakfast of Avocado Toast (above) on the balcony tasted extra good out in the salty air! By mid-week, our days were perfect temps with plenty of sunshine! How thankful we were!

I loved our beach walks. What’s better than strolling hand-in-hand and talking about life with your best friend?

Some of the other restaurants where we enjoyed our mid-day meals were Taco Mundo and The Shack in Cherry Grove. This little place is filled with local people who come regularly. We enjoyed a platter of delicious fish while we watched neighbors interacting with one another with warmth and camaraderie.

In my opinion, a beach vacation is always a good vacation! Who could ever get tired of watching the ocean roll in or the sun rising and setting over the water each day? Even if it’s from inside, it’s a reminder of the Creator of the universe Who holds the boundaries, keeps the tides rolling in and out, and is deeper than the vastness of its waters. The sunrise tells me that God is continuously at work; faithful to keep the sun rising and setting.
What an awesome vacation!
What an awesome God!

If you have missed out on your vacation, as we did in December, remember that when it does get to happen, it will be all the sweeter! Be patient – it will be worth the wait!

What have you been forced to wait for in recent months?

This post, or this one can encourage you in practical ways if you’re struggling to get through January,

Biblical Womanhood · joy · peace · Truth About Women

How Can We Biblically Deal with our Emotions?

Part 2 (You can find Part 1 here)

A good day can turn into a very bad day in a matter of minutes. Here’s how it goes –
1. I allow my feelings to dominate my thinking – (“This is the worst thing ever! I shouldn’t have to deal with this!” Neither of these statements are true.)
2. My reactions then reveal the emotional tidal wave by spilling from my mind into my heart. (I pout, am angry or I retreat)
3. My mouth speaks what I’m thinking. (I may accuse, complain or verbalize in other ways the things I feel)
4. The result is always regret. (Hurt feelings of others, distance in relationships, or spiritual coldness in my own heart)

However, when I begin to feel those emotions (and we will all feel things about our situations or relationships), I must make the immediate choice to deal with it in the three ways I mentioned last week. Then the blessed results of choosing right thinking will follow!
The results are…

  • Joy  Eve lost her joy when she went on her feelings and failed to trust God. But we can follow Paul’s admonition and “Rejoice in the Lord always.” If there’s no one else or nothing else to think about with joy, our dear Savior is always the best place to meditate. In Him we have so many reasons to rejoice!
    He loves us unconditionally!
    He will never leave us!
    He lives within us!
    He’s made a promise He’s coming again!
    He’s praying for us!
    He has provided us access to the Throne of God!
    For this and so much more, He is the center of our joy.
  • Peace in your own heart and peace with others. Eve, lost peace with God when she sinned. Her relationship with Adam was scarred, too. Paul reminds us in Philippians 4 to “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” This literally means “don’t worry about anything.” That “feeling” you have can become a fretful thing. Pray instead and let the peace of God rule in your heart!
  • Spiritual and emotional health – Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.Prov. 31:25 If we want to be strong spiritually and emotionally healthy, we simply live in the strength that comes from resting in the Lord. We can be like the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31:25 and have strength when we don’t lean on our emotions, but on our God Whom we are in awe of. We must realize that we can rest in His sovereign care for all that touches our lives and our feelings. When we have this kind of strength, we won’t end up an emotional wreck – no matter what we “feel.” Instead, we will be a woman of strength and honor.
    We hear a lot about emotional health. Here’s how to have it –

For good emotional health,

don’t depend on your emotions!

I don’t know about you, but I never like it when I’ve had times of emotional upheaval. Thank the Lord for His Divine help that enables us to mature in regards to our feelings.

If this post resonates in your heart at all, and you deal with fluctuating emotions as I have, make it a matter of prayer, asking God to help you apply #1-3 in the first part of this post.

Emotions are part of our make-up as women, but they should never be the boss of our lives! Let Truth override anything you may be “feeling.” Dig to find it in God’s Word. Ask loving questions of others. Then meditate on that truth instead.
You won’t have regrets for doing so.
Ask Eve.

Budget friendly meal · Meal planning · refreshment at home

How To Reduce Your Grocery Budget and Still Eat Heartily

We’ve all seen that grocery prices are climbing. Is it possible to stay within a budget, but also cook delicious and filling meals at home? Yes! Here are my top five suggestions for doing just that!

Vegetable Pot Pie
Banana bread made from over-ripe bananas costs pennies and can be sliced and frozen to accompany oatmeal or eggs for breakfast.
  1. Take note of what’s on sale at the grocery store each week. Going to Southern Savers or Money Saving Mom sites can make it so easy!
    Also be sure to visit the marked down areas in each section of the store – produce, bread and meats. Then…
  2. Make a weekly menu from the items on sale. A menu will keep you from running to the store last minute and buying whatever it takes to make supper. You’ll also be buying when the items are lower.
  3. Stock up if you can. When items are on sale, buy more than one, if possible. When butter is on sale, I buy two or three and freeze the extras until I need them.
  4. Bake your own bread, baked goods and snacks. This French Bread is so easy and makes two large loaves. I buy my bread flour in bulk at Sam’s Club and this recipe costs very little to mix together. After calculating the flour and the yeast (also bought in bulk at Sam’s), it costs me about 35 cents per loaf! This bread is so good toasted, so aside from a great side for breakfast or spaghetti supper, the possibilities are endless – grilled cheese, French toast, or BLT’s to name a few.
    These Muffins and this sweet bread can be made so cheaply by buying bananas that are over-ripe. They are cheaper than ripe ones and they freeze beautifully. When berries are on sale, freeze them for berry muffins. Make up a batch of cookies that don’t call for extra items like nuts or chocolate chips (did I just say that?!). Reserve those for special times. Make simple recipes like Snickerdoodles or Sugar Cookies.
    Rather than buying microwave popcorn, make this easy recipe – it’s much cheaper (and so much better!). These Granola Bars are also a Yummy snack!

Granola bars a

5. Have meatless suppers once or twice a week.
You can have breakfast for supper and serve eggs, pancakes or waffles and fruit.
Go with beans as the protein and have Cracker Barrel’s Pinto Beans and cornbread.
Refried Beans in a tortilla with fresh tomatoes, lettuce and cheese is another good option.
Broccoli or Baked Potato Soups are both hearty and filling.
Vegetable Pot Pie is another yummy, filling option!

Just typing up this post made me really want to cook and bake! Each of these recipes are truly cost-effective – especially when you follow the five steps I shared. I hope this will help you to eat well AND stay in your budget!