Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Country Girl at Heart

My grandmother's front porch flowers transplanted to mine
It's funny how God knows us more than we know ourselves. When I moved out to my house located in a place that feels like country to me (being a gal from the city all of my life), I felt at home. But not at first. I had to get acclimated. You see, at first I felt isolated with these big dirt fields surrounding the main streets near my house, cuckooing roosters, little lambs "baaing" in the distance, strawberry field and BBQ joints nearby, and lots of quiet. I was used to sirens, traffic, convenience, and also friends a few blocks away. Only two short years later, I drive a truck, harvest lavender, plow my yard, plant patches of sunflowers, trap feral cats, and gas gophers. My shoulders relax as I turn off my freeway exit and head towards the peace and quiet of my home. I put on my rugged boots, get down and dirty with the snails and woodchips, and I feel like this is really me. Who knew? God did.

The beginnings of our sunflower patch
The other week, we gave our lavender shrub a haircut--well, more like a chopping. Reina is a big help when it comes to mowing, pruning, and planting. We originally bought the lavender at the 99 Cents Store in a little flat a few summers ago. Now it's taking over our front planter, and we discovered it survives both the heat AND the frost, a benefit to these parts. We harvested an entire wheelbarrow full of lavender and then chopped off all the ends so we can make scented gifts for people. Next, we plowed a little section of dirt in our backyard and planted sunflowers. I've never done that with Reina before. I'm on a roll. Last weekend, I even went to Home Depot and started a kitchen herb garden, something I've been wanting to do for years.

Our kitchen herb garden
Our backyard potted herb garden including
 mint, basil, AND cilantro on sale for $6!

I only drive my truck locally and never without country music, of course. It really comes in handy for Home Depot because now that Dad and I are done with the patio cover, we are now building a fence. Someday if we can get rid of the goat heads and make room for some lovely grass, I'll have a country BBQ and invite y'all!

A wheelbarrow full of lavender to dry for some sweet scented gifts

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hopeful Contentment for Today's Single Woman Part I

My sister and I were very content on our trip to Seattle

Since the fall of last year, I began attending a singles Christian group that meets once a month for worship and an inspiring teaching as well as one Saturday during the month for a service event. Each time I come away from a teaching, I feel so much closer to God and so convicted about doing my part to make time for prayer and Bible reading. Last month’s message was on the two key areas that singles need to focus on, which are 1) being content and 2) being hopeful. As we know, the problem with contentment is that we always want more—especially with our “new and improved” American lifestyle.

Let’s look at one meaning of contentedness. To be content is to be mentally and emotionally satisfied with how things are. Given that, where do you rate on the contentment scale? What does the Bible say about being content?

First, let’s turn to the biggie Scripture on contentedness. In Philippians 4:11, we learn that that we, like Paul, can “learn to be content whatever the circumstances.” In Hebrews 13:5, we are instructed to “Keep our lives free of the love of money and be content with what we have because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.’” Finally, in Matthew 6:31-34, Jesus encourages us not to worry. He says, “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow, too. Live one day at a time.”

Despite the fact that God meets our needs and day-to-day provisions, many single women struggle with contentedness because they want is to be in a relationship right now. If this rings a bell, you need to ask yourself two questions: 1) why do you want a relationship? and 2) are you going to set and maintain your standards to be in a godly relationship?

In Genesis 2:18, we see the provision of a helper to fulfill God’s purpose for Adam’s life. Eve helped Adam to accomplish more than he could on his own. This is one important reason to be in a God-honoring relationship. God can allow a relationship to help us achieve our potential, grow us into the person He wants us to be, and to receive help so we can use our skills and abilities to carry out God’s plans and purpose for our life by doing more than we could on our own.

While you are waiting on God’s match for you, consider the following ways you can prepare yourself to become the right person for your future spouse rather than expecting that person to fill you up.

1)      How will you behave now while you are single and waiting on God?
2)      Are you using your time to serve the Lord? Your singleness is a gift! Don’t use your time to figure out how you can please yourself. Instead, focus on taking care of yourself in a healthy way while also serving others in a healthy way.
3)      Are you preparing yourself to be a Godly marriage partner? Philippians 2:4 instructs, “Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing.” Practice doing it now because a good marriage will require you to think often about your spouse’s needs.
4)      Are your motives right for wanting a relationship? Marriage is not necessarily there to bring happiness, but to bring about God’s purpose.
5)      Make sure you are looking in the right places—church groups, serving events, Christian single parent  fellowships—and be sure the other person has the same values, especially about putting God first.

Stay tuned for part II on cultivating a content heart while waiting for God's best!

We are content to just carry around Spock with us wherever we go!
(It's a life-sized cardboard cutout--haha!)

Linking to: Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Frugal Decor: My White Wicker Vanity Mirror

With Easter right around the corner and the kids out of school for spring break, it's that time of year to clear out your cobwebs, clean up your nest, and add a little color to your abode. This doesn't have to take up a lot of time or money. In the same vein as our frugal clothing finds from the previous post, I want to encourage you ladies that anyone can spruce up her home this spring with thrifty finds and a little creativity.

Take, for example, this wicker mirror that Mom and I found at Goodwill for $3.99. What a deal! With a little white paint, it now matches the white wicker cabinet already in my bathroom that Mom found for me at an estate sale.

Now that the outdoors have come to life, 'tis the season revive the inside of our homes as well. A few inexpensive and quick changes is all it takes to bring some rejuvenation when you walk in the door after a stressful day.

Look, ma, the mirror matches the cabinet!

Linking up to One Project at a Time
One Project at a Time Link party - ABFOL

Katherine's Corner
easter eggs katherines corner

Moonlight and Mason Jars Link Party
Moonlight & Mason Jars Link Party

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Thrifty Chicks' Frugal '14 Challenge Update of Fabulous Finds!!!

Ladies, I believe that no matter how tight your budget, you can always find ways to make yourself look nice and feel good about yourself, which is why I proclaimed 2014 to be the year for the Thrifty Chicks Frugal Challenge. Too bad I've been so rushed that I haven't been able to keep up with all of our great purchases so far this year, but here's a quick update.

First off, confession time. The challenge is to spend no more than $10 on an item, but I bought a pair of shoes for over $10 (they were on sale for $13, but I had to have them). That was my only cheat, so please forgive me. Beyond that, I've stuck to the challenge! How about you?

Bought this evening dress for $6 at a local thrift store . . . 

And wore it to see Chicago with Mom and Reina! 

My colleagues are on board, too. The dress above was $10 new at Target and the dress to the right was $10 vintage. Go thrifty chicks! We inspire each other. 
How cute is this dress that one of our tutors bought for $10 at Factory2U?

Just bought this top brand new at Kohl's for $4.90 and the necklace for $4.80.
The best thing is they're a perfect match!

Of course, thrift store coupons are always nice, too. I used this and will have to show
you what I purchased . . . next time. Stay tuned!

Friday, March 21, 2014

5 Easy Ways to Identify a Safe Person

Today is the first day of spring and it also happens to be Single Parents’ Day, which was created on March 21, 1984 in order to recognize single parents and their hard work of doing it all—often without help.Today, take a moment to honor a single parent with an encouraging text message, email, or card. Single parents are often overwhelmed, so a kind word can go a long way. What little thing can you do to help out a single mom or dad today?  

This time of year also means spring cleaning, so let's clear out the relationship debris that continues to cloud our vision. Ladies, are you tired of dealing with bozos? Do you have relationships and friendships in your life that bring you down? Below are 5 tools to help you clean out your relationship closets this spring
as you learn to identify the qualities and characteristics of a safe person.
  1. A safe person will accept with your boundaries. Someone who becomes angry or pushes you to bend your boundaries is not safe until he or she learns to respect your boundaries.
  2. A safe person will be consistent over time, especially where honesty is concerned. Someone who tells you one thing one day and the opposite the next day or whose actions do not match up with their words is not safe. Remember that trust is built by consistency over time.
  3. A safe person will reciprocate in the relationship and not make you do all of the work. An ideal relationship is 50/50. For example, you put in 10 cents of the work and the other person puts in 10 cents. Realistically, most relationships are like sea-saws, even healthy ones. It is more like a 60/40 split and then flip flops when one person is down or stressed while the other is doing better. If you are doing all of the work in the relationship most of the time, then you are probably dealing with an unsafe person, and it's time to establish some boundaries. 
  4. A safe person will accept you for you for who you are because that person can accept him or herself. A safe person understands that people make mistakes and is willing to overlook minor offenses.
  5. A safe person will help you be the best you can be because that person will help to bring out your potential and will not want to drag you down. If you are around someone who makes you feel worse about yourself, you are probably dealing with an unsafe person.

Because we are flawed human beings who make mistakes every day, no one is 100% safe. Learn to spot the safe people around you and surround yourself by them. Ask yourself how much time you want to give to the unsafe people in your life, and begin to use your boundaries to limit interactions with them. Above all, learn to be a safe person yourself because like attracts like. As you grow healthier as an individual, you will attract healthier people who will come along side you in this positive journey of personal growth that you are on. Like Dorothy on the yellow brick road, you are stepping forward with your ruby red slippers and discovering the strength you have within! 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Into Open Air Farmers Markets . . . and Try this Recipe

Brilliant flowers of every hue for $5 a bunch, tasty blood oranges, fresh asparagus, and local honey await right around the corner. Now that spring has sprung, it's time to get outdoors and frequent farmers markets, buy some fresh produce, and cook up some new recipes. When you are feeling adventurous and have as little as 30 minutes, check out my favorite SoCal farmer's markets, or look up ones in your area to visit.

  1. You'll find The Chino Hills Farmers Market every Wednesday from 4 - 8 p.m. at the Shoppes at Grand and the 71 freeway in Chino Hills. Small and quaint, this market offers homemade almond roca, roasted almonds, kettle corn, fresh hummus, baklava, produce, fruit, and flowers. Do not pass by the melt-in-your-mouth mini-bundt cakes without a sample or purchase! 
  2. If you are in the mood to shop, eat, and play, the Fullerton Downtown Farmers Market on Thursdays from 4 - 8:30 p.m. is for you AND the kids. Buy unique gifts from local artisans and crafters, eat roasted corn cobs and snow cones, enjoy a live band on featured nights, and entertain the kids with $1 - $3 rides, a play park, and a petting zoo. Peek your head into next door's Fullerton Museum Center for their current art series and discounted admission. Call 714.871.5304 for directions.  
  3. Jack Newe's Farmers Market takes place a the corner of Temple and Grand at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut every Saturday from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. Craving a cup of coffee? You can buy a cup or pound of coffee, hand made dresses for girls, colorful scarves, unique earrings for $5 a pair, and the usual fresh fruit, flowers, and veggies. Stop by the food truck, Carbon Grille, for lunch on your way out. Call 909.869.0701 for more info. 
  4. Happen to be in South O.C. on a Saturday? Go to UCI's Farmers Market in the University Center across from University of California at Irvine's campus on Saturdays from 8 a.m. - noon. Flooded with rows of vendors, you will find the best pita chips, fresh apple cider, roasted nuts, and potted orchids in the area. Do not leave without purchasing the feta cheese and sun dried tomato dip!
    My friend and co-worker, Star, and I went crazy over this blessed dip that our families consumed within days.As you peruse the market, look for some fresh asparagus and add it to Star's easy recipe below. 
                                                 Star's Easy Asparagus Pasta Recipe:
Fora an easy dinner, use three packs of the pasta sides (see picture at the right), two cans of chicken, as much asparagus and spinach as you want and two tablespoons of sour cream and Italian cheese. The recipe is on the back of the pack, but I made my own adjustments. This is for busy moms and dads because y'all know we don't have time to prepare full meals like we want. But this is good because it has the veggies and chicken instead of just the pasta.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Using Inspiring Bible Verses to Help Keep You on Track

Although I am not Catholic anymore, I still look forward to the annual practice of Lent because I believe that sacrifice, prayer, and fasting help to cleanse us spiritually and prepare our hearts for Easter. In my childhood home on Fridays during Lent, we did not eat meat, but we did get to eat fish. This year, I am giving up meat on Fridays in honor of our old tradition, which is challenging since I am such a carnivore. Like most years during Lent, I am also giving up sweets for the forty days since they are, beyond a doubt, my weakest area. Cookies, cakes, pies, doughnuts--sometimes I have colorful dreams that include plates of these heavenly delicacies!

What is so special about this year's Lenten journey is that I'm a part of a group on Facebook where others are practicing Lent, and we are doing it together. Such beautiful, transparent posts come in all day about people's struggles, and even more importantly, how they are depending on the Lord to get through them. The accountability and support is such a wonderful (and unexpected) blessing as a result of being a part of this group. Besides, I don't feel I am doing this alone.

Which brings me to this morning's devotional on the power of internalizing Scripture and using it to stay on course. Not only does using Scripture help to fight our food temptations, we also grow closer to God when we reflect on Bible verses. By changing a tempting or negative thought through meditating on a verse here or there, we can meet our goals for Lent and grow spiritually on this wonderful journey to Easter. Here are seven verses you can turn to for help:

1. When you feel like you can't go on, reflect on Philippians 4:13: "For I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and the power." 

2. When you made a mistake and need to get back on track, say Philippians 3:13-14,"But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." 

3. When you need to add a little sparkle to your day, remind yourself that you light up the world by thinking about Philippians 2:15, "You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of people who are crooked and stubborn. Shine out among them like stars. . . " 

4. When you need to know God is there, say Deuteronomy 31:6, "For the Lord God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you." 

5When you can't trust your own thinking, reflect on Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust the Lord completely; don't ever trust yourself. In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success." 

6. When you don't know what to do about a situation, think about James 1:5, "If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and he will gladly tell you, for He is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask Him." 

7. When you need motivation to do the right thing, meditate on Philippians 2:13, "God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him." 

Linking to: Coffee for Your Heart 150
Coffee for Your Heart


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