Jun 13, 2011

Faithful Are the Wounds of a Friend

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy." ---Proverbs 27:6

Maybe I should become a hermit! But what a wonderful wise statement to get us thinking about relationships. So often we are content walking around with surface-level relationships so that we don't get hurt. We are content with not truly caring about others or investing in their lives. In turn, we have to be content with not being cared about.

Personally, I'm sick of the pleasantries and fake relationships. I want to have relationships that run deep and are true. I think everyone should have a friend who challenges them, enjoys being around them, and truly cares about them. We see in the book of Job that friends don't always know how to help us. David had a friend betray him (Psalm 55:12&13). Sometimes even a true friend will make a mistake that hurts us, or will tell us something that is tough to hear, but it will be completely worth it in the end.

Another proverb says "a friend loves at all times" (Prov. 17:17). It's quite the standard to live up to for those of us who are trying to be a true friend to others. Jesus pushed friendship to an even higher standard when He said, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Yikes! Jesus is saying that He is the example of ultimate love. He was willing to (and did) die for us and we should be willing to do the same for others and for Him. We will likely never need to show our love by dying for someone, but we can show sacrificial love. And THAT'S what true friends do. They love expecting nothing in return. They listen, help, encourage, and give.

As a believer, I feel like this may be what the Church is supposed to look like. If we were showing genuine love for one another and loving sacrificially, those outside would see it! But how do we get there? It starts with YOU AND ME. If one person is genuinely loving others, it rubs off on many others around and spreads like wildfire. It causes bonds to form and love for Christ to abound. I pray that all of us learn to love like Christ to give Him the glory He deserves.

Jun 10, 2011

Living Cheap (Without Having a Cheap Life)

Whether you are trying to get out of debt, wanting to spend your money differently, or hoping to end the cycle of living paycheck-to-paycheck, the solution is the same: live cheap. My family has been trying to do all three!

Living a frugal life is difficult, especially when you have bad habits. There are a few bad habits I have needed to break. First, I needed to waste less time. It seems off topic, but I was wasting time out of boredom and exhaustion, which allowed little to no time for deal-seeking. Second, I needed to be flexible with my idea of a budget. Just because a certain percentage of income allocated to buying kids clothes works for one person, it may not work for you. Before, I was trying to save money in less obvious ways so that we could still appear to live like everyone else. That was stupid for two reasons: I wasn't saving as much money as I needed to, and no one in my life expects me to be well off. It was all in my head. Third, I needed to be less flexible. I found that I once I compromised a little, say on my entertainment budget for the month, I let the whole thing fly out the window. So I broke down each category in my budget even further, so I knew what spending my max amount would look like. That way, when I was about to buy something I was more likely to realize if I had already spent enough that month.

My favorite website for saving money right now is pocketyourdollars.com. It has shopping lists for the stores in my area, deals on a variety of things, and tips for saving money. Through this website and my own personal web searches, I have compiled quite the list of websites and other sources for finding a good deal. (I am also going to start shopping at Aldi's more). Here are some of these sources for saving money:

Coupons and Deals:

Deal sites

Pocketyourdollars.com (Shopping lists, Deals, Tips)

Thefreebieblogger.com (Only free stuff!)

Printable Coupons

Check Manufacturer websites (Like Huggies diapers)

Check Store websites (like Target.com)




Coupon Network.com

Commonkindness.com (when you print coupons, this website gives $ to your favorite charity!)


Coupon Databases



Paper Coupons

Sunday Paper

All You Magazine

The Coupon Clippers

Eating Out



Entertainment Book

Cash Back Sites


Mr. Rebates

Daily Deals

Living Social

Coupon Codes

Coupon Cabin

Flamingo World


Allrecipes.com (Great for entering ingredients you have on hand to find a great recipe)

Homemade Cleaners:

1001 Uses for White Distilled Vinegar

Vinegar and Baking Soda Cleaning Recipes

Making Your Own Laundry Detergent


Mobissimo.com (Flights and Hotels)

Hipmunk.com (Flights)

Cruisesonly.com (Cruises)

Smartertravel.com (Discount Travel)

Living Social (escapes)

Well, this is a good place to start. Have fun living cheap!

Side note: if you are hard up for money, you should not be looking at the sites I listed for vacations. It's a trap. Wait until you are back on your feet. :)

Jun 9, 2011

Hebrews 4:12-16

"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."---Hebrews 4:12-16 (emphasis mine)

Here are some thoughts I drew out of this passage:
  1. The Bible is life-changing (verse 12)!
  2. All of us are seen by God, even our actions, thoughts, and intentions (verses 12 & 13).
  3. Jesus is better than a priest, because He is God and can intercede for us at all times (verse 15).
  4. Even though Jesus is God, He is also a man who can sympathize with us when we make a mistake (verse15).
  5. Jesus overcame all the temptations He experienced and we can too through His power (verse 15).
  6. When we do make a mistake, He is still gracious with us when we draw near to Him (verse 16).
Some of these ideas I am pulling out of other scripture, because I know that if my interpretation doesn't jive with all of scripture, I am interpreting falsely. Please comment below if you have any thoughts or suggestions.

Jun 7, 2011

Lamentations: Chapter 3

When I was reading my Bible today, I was in the book of Lamentations. I thought, "Great, I'm already trying my hardest not to get down in the dumps after some bad news today, and now I am going to read one of the most depressing books in the Bible."

But my goodness, there's actually HOPE in Lamentations! The author, Jeremiah, begins chapter 3 by sharing all the horrible things he is going through. (I can relate to Jeremiah's hardship, but it sure puts my problems into perspective). After all of the stuff going on in his life, he is starting to lose hope in his God.

BUT THEN, Jeremiah remembers that God has never stopped showing him love (verses 21 and 22). He remembers God's faithfulness in the past and is able to confidently say, "The Lord is my portion." His hope in God is renewed and he realizes that GOD IS ALL HE NEEDS!

I was really hit by the following verses:

"The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good for a man that he should bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone and be silent since He has laid it on him." ---Lamentations 3:25-28 (emphasis mine)

I am always trying to take control and make things happen that I want. But God wants me to seek Him and to wait for Him. I'm not sure when I became such an impatient person, but I have a feeling it was right around the same time I stopped seeking what God wants for my life.

So why do we need to sit alone, be silent, and seek God? The answer is in the following verses:

"Why should any living mortal, or any man, offer complaint in view of his sins? Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the Lord." ---Lamentations 3:39-40

We need to examine ourselves. We need to let ourselves see the ways we are not trusting God. And then when we repent of all of the ways we have hurt God, we need to return to Him. This is what Jeremiah did. He called out to God, and in turn, God drew near to Jeremiah and said, "Do not fear!" (Lamentations 3:57)

I challenge all of you to be silent before God and examine your heart. It can be scary. No one wants to see how much we have hurt our heavenly Father. But this is the first step to repentance, to changing your life, and to being the person God created you to be. A person who loves God with all that you are. A person with no bondage or fear.

Jun 5, 2011

From Secular To Stirring

I spent years listening to secular music, only because I didn't think Christian music had any good artists or songs. But the music I was listening to gave me a poor body image, made me focus on the past, and fostered materialism in my heart. I became bitter, self-centered, and insecure.

Two years ago, I discovered the Air1 radio station. It's a national station that makes me feel connected to others outside what I know. It builds my character, strengthens my soul, and points me to the things that really matter in life. Christian music helps me see myself the way God sees me. It helps me to move on from my past and focus on today.

To find the Air1 station near you or to listen online, click on the link below:


If you are also sick of feeling insecure and bitter, take a look at the list below. Find secular artists that you like and view some Christian artists that are similar. I hope you can find something that stirs your heart and is fun to listen to.

Here's Abandon's acoustic version of the song above. Personally, I think the recorded version is much better, since the lead singer's loud voice isn't overpowering the music.