Its been awhile. One of those seasons when I look around and think, Has it only been a few weeks? How many miles have been trod. God can transform and move so much that my sense of time is disproportionate.
What about you? Where have you been journeying, traveling, or seeing God? How has your relationship been transformed?
Big eye openers in the last few weeks:
1. Parts of me have been dying to my true self; those little parts that I've given up. God's breathing life back into them. THANK GOD.
2. Learning to ask God to breathe life into my dead and dying parts.
3. Dreaming bigger. I'm shocked to see the ways I've let go of my dreams.
4. Having the eyes to see the journey God is leading. Seeing His fingerprints.
5. Surprised to find I have little tolerance for unhealthy patterns. Not sure if this is good. Poor family; must be shocking.
Are you changing? How do you embrace change?
August 6, 2012
June 15, 2012
If you're around me for a few conversations, you'll know I'm a die hard Kroger shopper. Here's the short version why:
- Simple "ALT ID" at check out. Silly enough, its a relief to merely punch in my phone number instead of digging for my loyalty card. Plus, this is an easy method for everyone in our house to centralizing all our loyalty points, and cash in at the gas pump.
- Online, digital coupons that load to my loyalty card. The only grocery store in my area that lets me pre-load digitally. I keep my card loaded with items I might buy. When I swipe my loyalty card, or enter my "ALT ID" at check out, these digital coupons are automatically calculated in my transaction.
- Straight-forward coupon policy. I love a short list. One of the best coupon options in the area. Worth mastering.
- Generic of generic products. I'm a deal-seeker, ya know, and I'm not afraid to buy generic. Kroger has a high end, mid end, and low end generic products. Remember when there used to be a "white aisle" of generic labeled items? They now have generic white label options for most of their products. Great option for savings when I'm not carrying coupons.
- Clearance labels brightly marked in ORANGE. All clearance items are a bright orange label on the item, or a plain white tag if on the shelf. Not only is it marked "clearance", but the original price and clearance price are both marked for comparison. Some stores mark items as "clearance" that are a mere 10% marked down. Not in my world! Kroger clearance is at least 50% off.
- Clearance section. Not all locations have this feature, but mine does. A whole clearance section is a great place to start my shopping!
- Sub-price. All price tags, even sale tags, clearly show the price per ___ (ounce, pound, item, set, etc.). This makes for quick, accurate price comparisons.
- Nicest clerks. My favorite clerks and I have great conversations. They still offer to help me to the car, and often I take them up on it. They've been there for decades and still love their job.
- Convience. Fortunately for me, there is a Kroger in my path nearly every direction I head. Even better, most now have neighboring Kroger gas stations. I believe in shopping conveniently to save time, money, effort, and energy.
- Fuel points. We're frugal with our grocery purchases, and we still get a discount each time we pump up. Hold on to your fuel points until you have maximized your savings.
- Shelves are always stocked. There are a few unnamed chains in the area that cannot make this claim. No names mentioned. My drive for efficiency and limited interest in shopping makes this a high priority.
- Produce is excellent. Again, not all chains can make this claim. My Kroger can.
- Free treats for the kids. Of course, the Krogering stickers. Sometimes suckers. I'm a sucker for freebies.
June 8, 2012
Approaching the table and eating well is a big undertaking. The hours involved gathering supplies, the brain power invested in making solid plans, are challenging. We all consider these challenges, no matter the number of mouths.
While I often find the process satisfying, it can also feel like the plan that never ends. There's that nagging feeling knowing I could have done more, or done "better". At best, I can only juggle three or four of these areas, but it has been a rare, single day--or hour!--when I could juggle them all.
Give yourself space for this limitation, and take on only what you can do well. Let me know short cuts that let you invest in these areas. On a normal day, how many areas can you juggle? When do you reach your limit? How do you find peace, and let enough be enough?
- Buying local produce: regularly visiting farmer markets, supporting local business (East TN farmer market directory here); eat seasonally.
- Buying organic: either some or all of your purchases are organic (economical tips here); remember the "Dirty Dozen".
- Buying in bulk: grain co-ops, Bulk Herb Store, Vitacost, or splitting warehouse purchases with friends.
- Grow your own: cheap, but requires sweat investment; takes creative alternative planning for small spaces (think vertical); minimal time investment.
- Cook from scratch: varying extremes, from making your own ketchup to making your own bread to making your own yogurt; control preservatives, sugar, and food colorings that are in your food.
June 6, 2012
"If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing badly."
G. K. Chesterton
Eating together as a family, even a single meal a day, has fallen to a rare normal. A mere 27% of families eating together, only eat, drink, and converse at meal time (listen to Les and Leslie Parrot talk about this sobering pattern). Eating purposefully, together, and regularly is indeed worth doing, but admittedly, sometimes needs a few shortcuts. Create space to mealtimes. Give these a try. Be realistic. Suggest a few of your own shortcuts in the comments below:
- Use paper plates. Try fun colors or paper party plates. Special touch for sabbath family meals. Easier for you, you'll also win eager eaters.
- Try frozen entrees. A reheated lasagna and fresh salad is a cinch to prepare, and is a step above frozen pizza.
- Prepare two, freeze one. If you go to all the trouble of preparing a meal, save yourself some work by preparing double, and freezing half for a future meal.
- Rotate helpers. Even middle schoolers can make a pot of mac and cheese and throw in some tuna and veggies for a one pot wonder. To simplify, assign a specialty meal for each helper to prepare on their meal night.
- KISS. Keep it Simple, Silly! Have a regular finger food night that is simple to prepare and fun to eat. Find a hummus recipe you like. Dip veggies and bread. Easy to make ahead and serve in a moment!
- Commit to 15 mealtime minutes. Be realistic. An average week night meal need not carry the pressure of a long drawn out ritual. Focus on sweet and prompt times together. You will be more likely to connect regularly if you set a reasonable goal.
- Think outside the norm. Instead of family dinner time, try Saturday morning pancakes or Sunday pizza parties. Spending a family meal together is most important.
June 1, 2012
Do you coupon? What's your strongest reaction to the idea? Coupons bring strong feelings to the surface:
- Thrill: moving in for the kill. The wide-eyed wonder of watching your bottom line disappear, pennies at a time. Its you against the cash register.
- Dread: the overwhelming work of it all. The job is mundane, repetitive, and could make a sane woman loose her mind.
- Guilt: mostly when you pay full price. Once you're hooked, its hard to walk away from clipping your paper money.
- Relief: stretching a tight budget even further. Empowering to make your dollar work.
- Embarrassment: be honest, some folks judge. Plus, some don't want to shop next to your tedious pace, nor get in line behind you at the cash register (solution: shop on senior discount days; you're more their pace).
I confess, I do coupon. These are 5 feelings I experience every single cycle of clipping and shopping. Couponing is not my hobby. I have never tried "extreme couponing" In my little world, couponing is a necessity, and dare I say, a spiritual discipline. Frugality, simplicity, stewardship, and all that. On an average grocery trip, I "make" about $30/hour (including research, clipping, shopping, and putting groceries away). That's good enough for now.
Can you share any couponing secrets in the comments? I need a few new ideas. Planning gives me the peace of mind to be fully present for the task at hand, and not fully consumed. Planning is freedom of heart. A few secrets I've learned:
- Shop at your favorite store every time. You'll know the prices, where to find items, and you will learn the coupon policies.
- Follow Coupon Mom. Her book is sharp, her research spot on. Get on the weekly email alerts. Print the weekly database price sheets for your favorite store, and shop based on what is a good deal.
- Focus on a single product. Commit to clipping and watching sales on laundry products only, or maybe meat, dairy, or beauty products. Truthfully, I can't do it all. But, I can handle one area.
- Dual ink your grocery list (uh-oh, my anal side is showing....). Sometimes, a sale price is not the actual shelf price. Girl, don't buy it if its not on sale AND you have a coupon! Instead of sorting coupons in the aisle and deciding if it is a good price, I pull all coupons at home, based on Coupon Mom's weekly database. My grocery item is written black for a normal, non-coupon item, and blue for a coupon item with the sale price. Double check your research! If it ain't a good deal, or the manager adjusted the sale price, keep walking. Before stepping up to the cash register, sort your coupons one last time.
May 31, 2012
Pondering the soulful knitting between eating and being, I wanted to hear how you handle the daily logistics of good eating. My little rut-full system always needs updates and fresh ideas. Especially, have you:
- jumped on the once a month cooking bandwagon, shopping and prepping a whole month's worth at a time to simplify your routine?
- found a fabulous frozen entree (not that I would ever serve it to you, but sometime I want a night off)?
- found a good rhythm for favorite meal rotations?
- stashed your favorite staples in the pantry?
- juggled dietary restrictions for the whole family without driving anyone crazy?
May 19, 2012
Celebrating motherhood, I'm excited to share some perspective from my own mom. She is a super hero rock star in her own right, and gave me the best mother's day gift this year by compiling a few stories and advice. Read more about her background here. Part 3 is my favorite, uniting our sisterhood of women. Her real life experience blesses me, and I hope encourages you. I'll let her tell you the story herself:
As I age, I realize how important it is to be in community with other women, walk alongside each other, bear each other’s burdens, share the joys in the ebb and flow of life. I have had the amazing opportunity to have friends that are willing to be transparent with me, to allow who I am to be accepted, and to walk together still. We are refined and strengthened by our struggles, and our trials. Our laughter and joys are multiplied when we share them (women can have so much fun together!).
I encourage women to be real with each other, to get together and work together, to love each other’s children, to serve each other, talk about what we are learning, to encourage each other in the challenges, help to provide needs. There is a richness in working together. We need to encourage each other not to be tempted to pretend we are someone we aren’t.