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Monday, August 31, 2009

FAMILY & FRIENDS: Wedding Costs

Ephesians 3:20-21
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

We will be attending a wedding on Friday evening. Each wedding I attend brings back memories of my own 22+ years ago. It was a wonderful celebration. It had the look of a very expensive wedding and reception but in reality was quite economical. My husband and I paid for it ourselves and had a 2-week honeymoon afterwards in addition. As all brides do, I kept a book with ideas, shower gifts, wedding gifts, notes, etc. In the front of the book I also have a special list of Thank You, God... items. It is two pages long of all the things beyond what I would ask or think that occurred either in preparation for our wedding, related to the expenses, or other special joys so that I would always remember them.
One of the items listed is the purchase of my wedding dress. I had a very limited budget--$500 for the entire wedding ensemble (dress, shoes, slip, veil, undergarments, etc.) Try not to laugh out loud. A friend who had been dress shopping with me suggested we go to Park Avenue--every city has one--where the bridal salons have dresses that cost $1,000+. I did laugh at the time. We went and I tried on several dresses, all of which were in the $1,000 - $2,000 price range. The whole time we had been in the dressing room there was a lovely dress hanging on the hook on the door. My friend looked it over carefully and saw the price tag--$100! I tried it on and except for the length, it was a perfect fit. It was sized incorrectly and was on sale. $100 for a beautiful wedding dress with a long train, embroidered bodice and overlay. Unbelievable! Dress $100; Veil $100; Shoes $30; Accessories $50; Alterations $50. The whole ensemble was less than $400. Needless to say we were both thrilled.

If you or someone you love is in the midst of planning a wedding, by all means try to not go into debt for it but rather look for beautiful yet inexpensive ways to enhance everything and be resourceful. Ask the Lord to help you with this in making it a special celebration that will have many happy memories rather than a huge credit card bill when you return from your honeymoon.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

FAITH: Song--Jesus, Draw Me Ever Nearer

This morning at church our worship band and a trio of women singers sang this beautiful song. They sounded better than this YouTube version, but this is all I could find. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgpKYWENgNQ

Jesus, Draw Me Ever Nearer
by Keith Getty, Margaret Becker

Chorus 1
May this journey bring a blessing
May I rise on wings of faith
And at the end of my heart's testing
With Your likeness let me wake

Verse
Jesus draw me ever nearer
As I labor thro' the storm
You have called me to this passage
And I'll follow tho' I'm worn

Verse 2
Jesus guide me thro' the tempest
Keep my spirit staid and sure
When the midnight meets the morning
Let me love You even more

Chorus 2
May this journey be a blessing
May I rise on wings of faith
And at the end of my heart's testing
With Your likeness let me wake

Verse 3
Let the treasures of the trial
Form within me as I go
And at the end of this long passage
Let me leave them at Your throne

Ending
Jesus draw me ever nearer
Jesus draw me ever nearer
Jesus draw me ever nearer to You
To You

2002 Modern M. Music (Admin. by Music Services)
Thankyou Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)



SATURDAY, August 29, 2009

No posting today. My husband was using the computer all day and night for a church presentation on Sunday.

Friday, August 28, 2009

FINANCES: Car Insurance



Proverbs 31:27
She looks well to the ways of her household...

In mid-July I spent about 2 weeks researching car insurance companies. Not my favorite activity and I had really put it off much later than I had planned. I am on a continuing mission to save $$ in our household so this was part of that mission. Our car insurance was coming up for renewal in mid-August so I wanted to be ready when they sent us the renewal notice. I had not done a cost comparison previously and I wanted to make sure we were getting the best value for our money.

Some of the companies I called: AAA, Geico, Liberty Mutual, Allstate, State Farm, AARP, UCF, Disney, USAA, Travelers...about a dozen in all since some firms handle several. USAA would have been excellent if we had qualified--an immediate family member must have been in the military. So if you have been in the service, you can get your whole family covered, even grown children who do not live with you. Travelers Insurance (in Florida) who has carried our car insurance for the last 5 years won hands down as the least expensive even with a younger driver in the household. We definitely renewed our policy with them. The other insurance companies did not even come close in comparison. In fact, since our older son has been driving, our rates that initially went up to add him, have gone down each year. He is now 20 years old, has a good student record (GPA) and thankfully, has had no car accidents. We require that he pay half of his portion which is $36 per month, very economical for a college student. We'll be teaching our younger son who will be fifteen in October to drive this year but you don't have to add a driver to your policy until he actually receives his driver's license at age 16 or older.

Don't believe everything you hear on TV about ____ having the best insurance rates. They probably don't. Saving money on the big items that are necessities, particularly those that have monthly payments really adds up. Take some time and do a little homework. We saved several hundred dollars this year by shopping around.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

FAMILY & FRIENDS: Storing Your Photos



How many shoeboxes of photos do you have in your closets and shelves? I actually just have 3 shoeboxes of photos as most of mine are either in albums, on CDs or our computer. Generally every year I go through the photos on the computer and choose maybe 100 or so to be converted to prints. I upload them to our Sam's Club Digital Photo Center and pick them up the next day. Then some evening while we're watching TV or just relaxing I'll put them into albums. I was blessed to receive one of my all-time favorite gifts from one of my nephews two Christmases ago--a digital photo frame. I update this every 4-6 months with new (and old) photos of our family. In fact, it's about time to update it this weekend.

Some people who are crafty love making scrapbook photo albums. Creative Memories is probably the most popular. I have put together 2 pages for friends who moved away and that's about all of that I could handle. I currently have a book checked out from the library titled Digital Family Album Basics and am looking into the process to digitally scrapbook now. If I were to do it at all, it would have to be this way. We'll see how this goes. I do love handcrafts but they need to be convenient, fairly inexpensive and easy for me to stick with them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

FAITH: Praying for Others


James 5:16
Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Our church has a directory of its members and regular attendees as most churches do. This summer one was published dividing the total number of families into 7 groups (about a dozen per group), one for each day of the week in order to help in praying for one another more regularly. My husband is an elder so he has been doing this for awhile but I just began when the lists were made available to everyone. I generally read my Bible in the mornings and choose a scripture passage to pray for the people in the group for that day. This week, for variety, I decided I would email each group each day and tell them what I had prayed for them. Here is what I prayed for each on Tuesday. I was amazed at the number of responses I received back. I even got a phone call from a young man in another state who said it was exactly what he needed on that day and asked if I knew what had been going on in his life. We cannot underestimate the power of prayer and its impact on people, particularly when we pray scripture (His written Word and will) back to the Lord. Just knowing that someone is praying for me is such an encouragement and something we all need every day. If you prayed something specific for someone today, tell them so. It will strengthen their faith and bless you as well.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

FINANCES: Haircuts


Proverbs 31:27
She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Have you priced haircuts lately? I've seen them with coupons from $5.00 to $50+, just for an adult haircut only. Normally I go to Everybody's Haircuts every 6-8 weeks for about $21. Today I tried Great Clips with a $6.99 coupon. It was a great cut but the stylist was about the rudest woman I've ever talked to at a salon. Won't be going there again. At our house, I cut everyone else's hair--my two sons' and my husband's--about every 4 weeks. I have been doing this for at least 10 years and have replaced my haircut trimmer set once. They cost between $20-$40 at Wal-Mart and you can often find them on sale. I got a videotape from our local library for free and learned from watching it how to layer and trim men's hair. No buzzes in our family although a friend who has been cutting hair for her 4 sons and husband longer than I have says when she makes a mistake, that's what she does. My family would be extremely upset if they ended up with military cut. I've been cutting hair so long now that it's pretty easy and a great way to save $$. Let's do the math--3 haircuts every 4 weeks (13 per year) for 10 years @ $5.00 -$16.00 each is a savings of $1,950-$6,240 for the last 10 years. That's the cost of a good used car or a really nice vacation! It's well worth the time to learn how to do this regularly for your family. I wish someone in my family would learn how to cut mine, too!

Monday, August 24, 2009

FAMILY & FRIENDS: First Day of College


Update August 25, 2011
Son #1 began his last three classes of college on Monday (2 taken this fall; 1 in the spring).  Son #2 began dual-enrolling at a local community college on Monday as he began his senior year of high school. This article is still applicable to the many who returned to school this week.


==================================================


ORIGINAL POST 2009
Jeremiah 29:11


‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope..."

Ah, the first day of college classes. For my older son, they resume--this is the beginning of his junior year in college as well as the beginning of his first day of part-time work on campus. We have other young friends who have their very first day of college life today. I remember when I began. It was bittersweet leaving high school although my college (as well as my son's) is in our hometown.
  • New responsibilities--no parents to remind you to do your homework or projects, choosing your own classes and making sure that two don't occur at the same time, budgeting your money, working part-time
  • New friends--many of them several years older and most do not live in your neighborhood
  • New instructors who are called professors, not teachers
  • New course requirements--blue-book essay tests, one test determines your grade, and their strange letter/number format (AR101)
  • New grading system--it is more difficult to get an A (93-100)
  • Finding your way around campus and getting to classes on time

Every large group (student enrollment) needs its share of smaller groups so students can really feel a part and make solid friendships to encourage you during this stage of life. Some choose fraternities or sororities as I did (I was not a Christian during my college years); some choose athletics / intramurals; some choose clubs based on personal interests and others choose religious non-profit groups i.e. Campus Crusade for Christ which my son and many of his friends have chosen. Whichever group you or your students find themselves a part of, be careful of the company you keep. If you make a mistake and choose a group that later you discover is not for you, by all means, be bold and leave that group. Make decisions ahead of time as to what you will do when the temptations come--drinking, skipping classes, taking drugs, having premarital sex--to name a few.

Nowhere is it more apparent than in college, that Bad company corrupts good morals, so do not be deceived. 1Corinthians 15:33

My thoughts and prayers are with all who are beginning this initiation into adulthood and time of testing called college life. It can be a wonderful adventure as long as you make wise choices. More than likely, good parents are on their knees constantly during this time in their child's / young adult's  life.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

FAITH: Psalm 8 & FUN: Spontaneous Fun


This is one of my favorite psalms. I first heard it before I was a Christian when our concert choir director in my public high school had us learn it to sing at a state competition (which we won). Start the Lord's day by singing, reading or praying this beautiful psalm of praise.

Psalm 8

For the choir director; on the Gittith. A Psalm of David.


O LORD, our Lord,

How majestic is Your name in all the earth,

Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!


From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength

Because of Your adversaries,

To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.


When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,

The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;


What is man that You take thought of him,

And the son of man that You care for him?


Yet You have made him a little lower than God,

And You crown him with glory and majesty!


You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;

You have put all things under his feet,


All sheep and oxen,

And also the beasts of the field,


The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,

Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.


O LORD, our Lord,

How majestic is Your name in all the earth!



Saturday, August 22:


Ephesians 3:20 ...He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think...


FUN: Spontaneous Fun

I tend to be a planner as anyone who knows me understands. My husband, on the other hand, is more spontaneous and spur-of-the-moment. Friday night we had some spontaneous fun together. He listens to WLOQ, a local jazz station, in his car during his 45-minute commutes to and from work each day and heard on Thursday afternoon about a famous guitarist who was performing at the Steinway Gallery near our home. I had never heard of Larry Coryell, but went ahead and bought tickets online for the performance. Steinway often hosts local artists and has wine and cheese gatherings on Thursdays so I thought he was a local musician. I always receive an invitation since I'm on their Piano Teacher list for this area and have held several piano recitals in their intimate concert room. Anyway, this man was probably the best guitarist I have ever seen or heard and is apparently, world renown. Being a musician myself I love to sit where I can see a musician's hands which I did that night. This 65+ -year-old man played the guitar in ways I never even knew was possible. I even reconnected with someone I used to work with when I was in banking before our children were born. Our ticket included one free drink at Cafe Murano a bar/restaurant in Altamonte Springs, where we went, along with almost everyone else, after the concert. It was a lovely evening--even for a planner like me.


Friday, August 21, 2009

FINANCES: Roth IRA


Proverbs 6: 6-8 Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.

I have mentioned the Miracle of Compound Interest previously, but not specifically when it comes to retiring. I encourage all college-age students and 20-30 somethings to begin planning for their future today by setting up a Roth IRA which provides major tax advantages over a traditional IRA. At this point TIME is on your side. A projections calculator will illustrate how much your earnings will be when you reach retirement age. You can adjust it according to interest rates, monthly contributions, current and future age, etc. Growing your money in this type of account truly is amazing and pretty painless to do while you are young and have relatively low expenses. I discussed this with my college-aged son and he set one up when he was 18 years old. The bank representative that opened it for him said he had never seen someone so young do this and what a wise thing it was to do. By all means, look into this for yourself and your family. Even a contribution as low as $25-50 per month will earn you great gains when you are older.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

FAMIILY & FRIENDS: Job Description of a Mom


Proverbs 31:28

Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her...

A friend sent this to me last week. A fairly accurate description of the best "job" I have ever had for the last 20+ years. I wouldn't trade one moment of it.


JOB POSITION:
Mom, Mum, Mummy, Mother, Mama, Ma


JOB DESCRIPTION
  • Long-term, team players needed, for challenging, permanent work in an often chaotic environment.
  • Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24-hour shifts on call.
  • Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities!
  • Travel expenses not reimbursed.
  • Extensive courier duties also required.

RESPONSIBILITIES
  • The rest of your life.
  • Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly yet know when to speak at all times.
  • Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf.
  • Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers.
  • Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects.
  • Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks.
  • Must be a willing to be indispensable one minute, and invisible the next.
  • Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys, and battery-operated devices.
  • Must always hope and pray for the best but be prepared for the worst.
  • Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.

POSSIBILITY FOR ADVANCEMENT & PROMOTION
  • None.
  • Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you.

PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE
  • None required.
  • On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

WAGES AND COMPENSATION
  • Get this! You pay them! Offering them frequent raises and bonuses.
  • A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent.
  • When you die, you give them whatever is left.
  • The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

BENEFITS
  • No health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered.
  • Limitless opportunities for personal growth
  • Continual unconditional love
  • A stronger prayer life
  • Free hugs and kisses for the rest of your life
  • Wonderful memories
  • More joy than you could ever imagine

Footnote: There is no Retirement--ever! (and you wouldn't have it any other way)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

FAITH: Politics / Government


1Timothy 2:1-2 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

Politics--the mention of the word stirs up emotions in people---boredom, anger, frustration, joy, change for better/worse, confusion, loss... There are so many disconcerting things happening today in our government, from the local to the federal level, that I can certainly see why many, including me, are concerned. I love the quote by Edmund Burke: All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. The United States is still by far, the best country in which to be a citizen. However, I pray for strong, godly men, my sons are now in that category, to be able to stand alone and speak up when necessary in this society that we live in. When anxiety or fear about our government raises its ugly head, remember: Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

FINANCES: Home Businesses for Moms


Proverbs 31:16-18
She considers a field and buys it; from her earnings she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She senses that her gain is good; her lamp does not go out at night.

I have a part-time home business, in fact I have two. I teach piano lessons to adults and children and I sell items on eBay and Amazon.com. Both are very lucrative and can add variable amounts of income to our family budget depending on how much time I spend on each. The tax write-offs alone are worth looking into having even a part-time home business. Our accountant had me calculate how many square feet in our home is used for each business and that percentage of the house and many of its expenses can be recorded as tax deductions. We generally use my part-time earnings for family events, meals out, movies, homeschool expenses, gifts (weddings, graduation, missions)... one year I even paid for a family vacation to Washington State and British Columbia. The key is to find something that you really enjoy that works for you and your family. Both of my businesses are scheduled around my younger son's class schedule and our active lives. When my older son played Varsity basketball in high school, I scaled way back on piano lessons to accommodate attending all his games. I can list an eBay item in about 5 minutes including the photo(s) now that I have a system worked out that makes it a smooth process. I encourage every mom at home to do something like this when the season is right and teach your children to do the same. They won't always be at home with you and it's good to keep alert and marketable in these economic times.

Monday, August 17, 2009

FAMIILY & FRIENDS: When Someone That You Love Dies


Psalm 34:18
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The month of August has brought news of so many deaths of friends, family and pets. Two old friends passed away, one friend lost two uncles in the same week, two others each lost one of their parents, my brother and another friend lost beloved pets, three others have parents with cancer, Lou Gehrig's disease, etc. I was with my own father when he passed away four years ago on August 11, so I understand the grief one feels and know that the comfort of the Lord is nearby if you seek it. If your loved one trusted in Jesus for salvation then he/she is with the Lord now, safe, healthy and sound; if not, well, the Bible is very clear about that as well.

There are so many falsehoods and deceptions when it comes to the area of faith. I urge whoever is reading this to be certain of your destiny when you die by seeking Truth in the Word of God alone. Things can happen literally overnight; your life or that of a loved one can change in a moment or in the twinkling of an eye. You want to be sure for when that time comes.


A few more passages about this:

Matt. 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
John 6:40 “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Heb. 9:27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,

1Cor. 15:51-52 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

FAITH: I AM...

Ex. 20:2I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.


John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst...

John 8:12 Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

John 10:9I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture...

John 10:14 -15 “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me...even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies...

John 14:6 Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me...

John 15:5I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing...

Rev. 1:8I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Rev. 22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

I am so glad that the Bible says "I am", rather than "I was".
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