Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Fun Lazy Christmas Break Morning

Cuddling Susanna and Big Tom
      I don't have to go in to work today until 1:00pm. so the kids and I have had a wonderful, fun, lazy morning.  I struggle to relax and do fun things with my kids because I am stressed about constantly being behind in the house. I am definitely a type-A personality and I have a hard time with my house being messy and filthy. However, this week for my birthday, Daniel and the kids blessed my socks off by cleaning up the house for me. It was the best present ever! They got me other gifts but none could compare to the luxury of my home being cleaned up for me. It gave me the gift of time, time for mornings like this...

I pulled out this book I have had for awhile by Lisa Whelchel. I love it because it lists most Christmas traditions and how they point us to Christ. This morning we read about the Christmas tree and how it is a symbol of life. Jesus came and died on a tree that we may have eternal life (1 Peter 2:24). We talked about how the triangular shape of the tree with three points can represent the trinity, God the Father, God the son, and God the Holy Spirit. We noted how the tree points toward heaven just as we can always be pointing others toward heaven.

 When we were finished reading about the tradition of Christmas trees, the book suggested taking sugar cones, green icing and mini M&M's to make our own edible Christmas trees.
 The kids got very into this. Susanna spent a full hour on her trees!

 Most of us chose not to eat our finished trees and put them on a cake plate to use for a pretty countertop decoration instead. 

I hope you all are enjoying your kids being on Christmas break as much as I am!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

5 Things to Remember When Interacting With Mothers of Babies and Toddlers

I have wanted to write a post like this for some time but didn't think that I should until we were on the other side of the trenches! My oldest child  is 12 now and my youngest is almost 4.  It is hard to believe that we spent the first 10 years of our marriage dealing with incessant morning sickness, nursing babies and changing diapers. I must say that even though we still have a house full of kids, things are way different now! This is the first year that I have felt we are out of the trenches. All the joys and frustrations of being a family made up of primarily babies and toddlers is still fresh on my mind though and I don't want to forget how I felt when it comes my time to minister to our kids and others who are in this stage. Empathy is a game changer!

My 4 oldest children ranging in age from 5 years to 5 months

1. Keep your expectations low or non-existent

Mothers of multiple babies and toddlers in the house can easily feel completely, utterly, emotionally and physically drained especially during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Hormones play a large part and they can easily get overwhelmed and be driven to tears. Do not ask them to bring a dish to a potluck or expect them to do anything other than get there with their children which can totally wear them out!  Remember that packing for babies and toddlers even for a day trip, planning around naps and getting the baby nursed before you go is quite a feat! In fact, don't be upset if they decide it is just too stressful to attend the event at all. If they do come to an event, let them know that you appreciate the effort it took!

2. LOVE is spelled B-A-B-Y-S-I-T 

Don't make her ask you because she will feel like a burden to you. Offer to do it joyfully and then let her know how much you enjoyed her children while she took some time to rest or rebuild her marriage. Daniel and I are to a place where we are no longer desperate for someone to babysit our children but run back the clock a few years when we were so exhausted and we would have about killed for it! Not really, but you get the picture! Being in a season of babies and toddlers can put a strain on a marriage and it is so hard because these couples are most often not in a position to shell out $10/hr for babysitting or pay for a restaurant meal on top of it to get some time away!

3. Understand that Mothers of babies and toddlers want an organized/clean/decorated home as much as you do. 

Whatever you do, don't tell her that this is just a season and that one day she can have this. She desperately craves a sense of peace and order now more than ever! Nesting urges are strong during this season because she is having to be at home ALOT. No matter what you say, an organized/clean/decorated home will be something she is constantly trying to achieve. The best thing you can do is jump in and and offer to help her with it! Can you buy some storage solutions and clean out a closet? Can you come by and deep clean a child's room? Can you take her van to be cleaned? Ask if there are any organizing/cleaning/decorating chores you could help with! A project completed will help a young mom feel encouraged and inspired! Remember that young mothers often feel mortified about the state of their house and vehicle and avoid any comments causing them further embarrassment or highlighting failure in this area. Most young mothers cannot afford housecleaning help. I remember crying some days because my house was so messy and I didn't have the energy to clean it! A good way to offer the help would be to ask what she would like help with so as not to highlight specific failures.

4. Do not give unsolicited advice

Avoid comments beginning with "You Should" at all costs! If you think you could handle life better with their number of children and their financial resources, go for it. Tell her you will move in for a week or two while she flies overseas with her husband and let you prove you can do it better than she can.  If a young mom wants advice, she will ask for it from someone and it will likely be someone who has dealt with a similar size family or who is in the trenches doing it with them. There are tons of advice articles on the web and books at her disposal these days. Unsolicited advice will only make her feel like you don't think she is doing a good enough job and she may want to run and hide from you. I remember being given the advice to have a formal meal with my children when they were little to help teach them manners because their manners weren't good enough. I was appalled! It was all I could do to even slap a simple meal on the table much less have a formal meal. I was so busy running back and forth cutting up everyone's food, cleaning up spilled drinks, picking up half the food I had just cooked off the floor and taking people potty that I couldn't even sit down to eat some nights. I will never forget what it was like for it to be all I could do to get through dinner and how exhausting it was to clean up the tornado afterwards.

5. Encourage, Encourage, Encourage!

I think the main thing that plagued me more than anything as mother of multiple babies and toddlers was discouragement.  Questions often ran through my head such as...Am I doing enough? Am I a good mom? Why can't I ever get the house clean, organized and pretty? Comparison is hard to avoid during this season. Look for things that the young mother is doing well and avoid bringing up the areas you think she falls short with her children. If you see that her children are helpful, compliment her on it! If you see that her children have a heart for the Lord, tell her! Any good that you see, be quick to tell her and let her know that she is doing a good job! Let her know that you are praying for her during this season and that you are proud of the job she is doing. Love her well during this season that will be gone all too soon. May I never forget what it was like to be a mother of babies and toddlers! Lord help me to  always offer up plenty of grace for these exhausted, courageous mothers raising up the next generation!

5 kids ages 8 and under! 

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Our Family of Seven's Quest To Become Debt- Free and Live That Way For Life

       I know that many of you are wondering how our journey of becoming debt free is transpiring. The naked truth is that the process has worn us out so much that there just hasn't been a lot of time for blogging and making You Tube videos. When we have free time, we want to just relax! I will tell you some things we have been doing lately to earn extra money.

1. Daniel quit Papa Johns for the Summer and started a mowing business with our boys ages 11 and 12.
2. I have been picking up extra shifts when I can at the local hospital working as a CNA.
3. I Have been finding things to sell around the house and picking up free things to sell for people who don't want to fool with it.
4. I have been finding loose change around the house to roll up until I have a substantial amount
5. I have been filling out online surveys on a site called Swagbucks to earn points toward Amazon gift cards to help pay for grocery items.

I know it may seem crazy for a typical, middle class family to do things like this, but the truth is that we are learning to live in freedom and not care what others think about our family. I wouldn't say we have arrived but we are getting there! Far too many Americans are drowning in debt because they care too much about what others think. Many are far too embarrassed to be seen delivering pizza or working as a CNA or mowing lawns. Sometimes it is hard to stand tall and tell others what is really going on in our lives but we believe that God has chosen us to go down this road for a purpose and right now we are climbing uphill and hitting every pothole you can imagine. We are tired and weary yet we know we must press on even when frustration attempts to overtake us on the road. We originally set a date to be free of debt by April 2017 but we have now changed our target date to Isaac's 13th birthday which is May 8, 2017. Our children have made a ton of sacrifices along with us and oh how glorious it would be to enter our children's teen years free of debt and celebrate that on his birthday. Please pray for us that God will continue to give us strength and joy on this journey, If you are also on a similar journey, please let us know so that we can pray for you and support you!
P.S. Hopefully Daniel can update soon with the numbers you are dying to know and how much we have paid off since our last update!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Rich Kids Learn Compound Interest!

Lindsay teaches the kids a valuable lesson about Compound Interest.  Watch as they ask good questions and Mercy tells a story to help illustrate the lesson!

Friday, May 06, 2016

Save Money By Making Your Own Bread

    Are you determined for your family to eat healthy, yet also determined to be frugal with what the Lord has blessed you with? I'm sure you have already figured out, the two don't always go hand in hand! Healthy food is not the cheapest or most convenient way to eat! I have to spend way more hours in the kitchen than the average mom because I won't go to Sam's and buy frozen, processed junk to feed the kids even though it would save me loads of time. I am still trying to figure out how to spend the amount of time I need to spend in the kitchen to feed my big family healthfully and still get everything else done that I need to do! It's quite a balancing act. One way I have been able to increase the nutrition content of our diets and stretch our budget is by making our bread. The whole wheat bread I would normally buy at Kroger costs $3.99/loaf. As best I can estimate, by grinding my own wheat and making whole wheat bread at home. It costs our family approximately $1.99/loaf for much healthier, fresher bread. Here is my recipe if you are interested in giving it a try! This is adapted from the Bread Becker's Cookbook.


5  cups hot water
1 1/4 cups oil
3/4 cups honey
2 1/2 T. instant yeast
12-13 cups (or more) freshly milled flour
5 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. gluten 
3 whole eggs

Combine water, oil, and honey. Add 8 cups of the flour and the yeast, salt, and gluten.  ( like to dig a little hole in the top of the flour to put my yeast) Add eggs to the side and mix thoroughly. Add the remaining flour and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Let rise until double. Shape into 5 loaves and put in greased bread pans. Let rise until double. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Get out of pans quickly and stand them up to cool on the counter. Your house will smell divine!

*You can purchase the grinder I have here. I have had mine for 15 years now and it is still going strong!

*You can mix this bread up by hand, but I highly recommend investing in a high quality mixer like a Bosch, Kitchen Aide or Electrolux unless you just want a really good arm workout!

*Wheat berries can be purchased here locally in the New River Valley at the Bread Basket, Annie Kays or a Frankferd Farms Food Co-op. They can also be ordered online from Bread Beckers and many other places and delivered if you need the convenience! I get mine locally from The Bread Basket because they have the cheapest prices I have found.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Are You Struggling With Burnout? What Fills Your Pitcher? Here are 12 Things That Fill Mine!


       Lately, I have been contemplating life a lot and thinking about why I have struggled with burnout and becoming miserable so much through the years. I especially have been lately since Daniel and I are struggling to meet our "get out of debt goals" as fast as we hoped we could. If you read many of my posts, you can probably tell that I am a type-A personality. I have lots of goals in life and I try so hard to be and do everything and end up falling flat on my face because I can only do so much. I am very hard on myself and tend to beat myself up when I make mistakes. It's funny that I am a second-born because I have so many first-born tendencies! I would do just about anything to help you and I'd want to give you the shirt off my back if I thought you needed it yet I often fail to remember that when the pitcher is empty, it's hard to offer anyone a drink. With five kids, my pitcher can empty out quickly! I have been reading books and reaching out to friends to pray for me to find balance and do only the things that the Lord has called me to do. I have been encouraged to list some things that make me happy and to fill my pitcher back up by doing some of them without feeling guilty!

My List:

1. Quiet time ~ Sometimes when there is so much to do, it is hard to me to actually settle down and do this yet it is so vital in my walk with the Lord and growth as a woman. One thing that particularly helps me is to keep a journal of things the Lord puts on my heart and to list what I am grateful for.

2. Reading and Writing ~ I tend to keep waiting until I have the perfect pictures or blog posts to share and now I realize, I just need to sit down and write! I have been journaling, blogging and writing my way through life since I was 9 years old and I love it! I love that my kids and grandkids will have my old journals and this blog to read long after I am gone and hopefully learn from my mistakes and glean what is good!

3. Hiking and the Outdoors ~ There is something about a good hike or trip to the beach that brings peace, joy and rest to my soul. I may not be able to afford the beach but I have decided to make sure to go hiking and spend plenty of time outdoors even when the bulk of my work is indoors and I feel guilty for not doing it!

4. Organizing, Purging and Decorating ~ I am not a Joanna Gaines by any means but nevertheless, I love organizing my house and making it more functional and beautiful for my family. I love rustic and simple farmhouse decor, not too primitive or cluttered.

5. Healthy Living ~ I love exercising and reading/learning all that I can about living a healthy lifestyle. It is amazing how much better I function when I take the time to really care for my health!

6. Alone Time ~ It is amazing how refreshed I feel when I get rare moments alone! I have realized that  I need to make it happen more often. I have been thinking about how Jesus had to get away from even his disciples to wrestle with his flesh and contemplate life. Oh, hard it is though for a mother of five to get time alone! It is a rare gift and I am trying to get better about asking my husband for it and not feeling guilty about it.

7. Time with friends ~  I have friends that have laughed with me, spoken truth into me, encouraged me, let me cry and prayed with me. Yet sometimes it is hard for me to prioritize spending time with them when I am worried that things won't get done or that I am leaving my family to fend for themselves.

8. Crocheting, Scrap booking, Creating Something Useful or Beautiful ~ As silly as it sounds, as a type-A personality, I have a hard time even sitting down to do this without feeling guilty that I am wasting time when there is so much to be done! I have set a goal to make myself sit down and crochet an afghan for our living room this summer while I listen to the kids read aloud or listen to an audio book. Someday, I would like to learn how to sew.

9. Flowers ~ not too long ago I saw a bouquet of flowers on manager's special at Krogers and brought them home. I felt so guilty since we are trying to get out of debt, yet they looked so beautiful in our house. As silly as it sounds, I felt happy looking at them. Somehow they drew the attention away from how rough and unfinished my house is. I have decided to give myself permission to stop on the side of the road to pick flowers or buy them occasionally when I find them marked down.

10. Extended Time Alone With My Husband ~ We sometimes argue and tear each other down when the going gets tough, yet spending time alone does wonders for our marriage and fills my pitcher to overflowing! We love our five kids dearly but privacy is so hard to get while raising so many and often costs money and time that we don't have. I don't know how to prioritize this but I can pray and ask my heavenly Father for it, He knows the desires of my heart!

11. A Clean House ~ For a type-A personality like me, a clean house does wonders for relaxation!

12. Completed House projects ~ I won't lie, as much as I love my house, living in a half-finished house for the last 2 years has been hard and inconvenient. The kids bump against a door frame and sheetrock dust goes flying! Everytime someone comes up the unfinished basement stairs, it is a mess! the inconvenience of not having a sink in my bathroom can be so frustrating when we are getting ready to go somewhere. I get just a little bit giddy over anything happening to improve the house or bring it one step closer to being finished!

Are you a Type-A personality? What fills your pitcher? May I encourage you to make a list of things and purpose to do some of them without feeling selfish or guilty?

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Grace is 9 years old!

I can hardly believe that it has been 9 years since I gave birth to our beautiful first princess at home on our bedroom floor while living in Williamsburg, VA. She is growing up fast and I couldn't be more blessed to be her mother! Some things that stand out about her are that she is wise beyond her age. She is a leader and peacemaker among her friends. She does not follow the crowd and is one of the best friends you could ever have! She is quickly becoming a good cook and a great help around the house with laundry and other tasks. Most of all, I Love her heart for the Lord and her many prayers for Muslims to come to know Him. She has an evangelistic heart and sometimes preaches without realizing what she is doing. I know God has big plans for her!

 It was fun to have my sister's family here for her birthday this year! We rarely get to see them since they live in GA. 
 Opening gifts while all of her siblings and 4 cousins look on! 
She got a kayak from her Nana and Pops, Clothes and shoes from her Grandma and Grandpa, A craft set from her cousins and best of all, a kitten from Daniel and I! She has been dreaming of a pet of her own for a very long time. 

Happy 9th Birthday my beautiful Grace! I love you to the moon and back! 

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Dessert On a Budget ~ How To Make 4 Tasty and Cheap Peanut Butter Pies in Less Than 30 mins!

When you have five kids and your sister has four kids, plus our two hungry husbands. You have to really think big when it comes to the food that will be required for a weekend visit! This recipe took care of dessert for two nights of their visit this past weekend.

1 small regular size jar peanut butter (less than $2 at Aldi)
3 - 8oz. containers of cool whip (bought during the Easter 10/$10 sale at Kroger)
Reese's cups (bought after Easter for at 50% off for 1.77 at Walmart)
2 bars of cream cheese ($1/bar at Aldi)
1 tbsp. vanilla
1/2 cup milk. 
2 cups powdered sugar ($1/box)
4 graham cracker pie crusts ($0.96/ea. at Aldi)

This comes to approximately $15 for four delicious homemade pies! 

Now for the directions. Beat peanut butter and cream cheese together until creamy, add powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. Fold in 1 container of whipped cream. Divide the mixture into the 4 pie crusts and spread evenly over the bottom. Take the other 2 containers of cool whip and divide in half using half a container to spread over each pie. Use a spoon to make it look pretty and then chop as many Reese's cups as desired and sprinkle over the tops of the 4 pies. This is a great recipe to make days before your company arrives and keep frozen or refrigerated until ready to serve! Yum! 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Grocery Shopping Day! How we shop cheaply and healthfully for our family!

Follow Lindsay on her grocery shopping day.  More about how she coupons, plans, and organizes will be shown in a future video.  She shares the Rich family grocery budget, her cash system, and then takes you along as she visits Aldi, Krogar, and Sams to stock her large family with all the food they will need for a 2 week period of time!  That's right, no eating out.  This is all we will eat for 2 weeks!  And we will eat like Kings! The money she saves on our budget will go towards paying debt.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Short History of Our Family and How We Got Into Debt

We posted a new YouTube video to our channel giving a short history of our family, beginning at marriage and continuing through present day. We tell all about how we got into debt, some of the good financial decisions we made and some bad financial decisions we made along the way. This episode is chocked full of photos to illustrate our growing family and carry you through our past journey.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Rich Family Update

               It has been awhile since I have written a family update on the blog and I know many of our past readers are wondering about all the changes our family has made in the last year since this blog was primarily about our lives as a homeschooling family. I will tell a little about each of the changes in order! 
     Beginning in January 2015, we sent Grace to a small christian school near our home. I was overwhelmed trying to homeschool four different grade levels the way I wanted to. I knew many women who did it successfully but I was struggling and felt defeated. Grace's reading was not progressing and being the high extrovert that she was, she was the child struggling the most with being at home. It was a difficult decision for Daniel and I, but in January, Grace became the first of our children to start school at Auburn Baptist Christian Academy. It didn't take long for us to see that we made the right decision sending her there and we felt so grateful to the wonderful teachers who helped her read and thrive! It brings tears to my eyes to see the progress she has made. 
              Also in January, I began to pursue obtaining my CNA license on the weekends. I fell in love with learning about the nursing profession and was thrilled to pass my CNA exam in June. I also took a class at the community college during the spring semester. At the end of summer, we made the decision to send all four of our school-aged children to the Christian School so that I could continue to pursue a degree in nursing and work part-time at the hospital. We knew that teaching had never been my natural gift and we thought this would work better for our family. In August, I began my first CNA job working three days per week at the hospital while taking 6 credit hours at the college over both the Summer and Fall semesters. I excelled in my classes but our home life was falling apart. 
           I wanted to be supermom and do it all but it was just too much and very hard on Daniel and the kids. I was able to finish up a total of 15 credit hours of college classes last year and am so grateful for all that I learned! I still hope to finish my degree one day but my focus in life right now is to be the best wife to Daniel that I can be and the best mom I can be to our five children. I assured Daniel before I started on my career path that if I started falling down on my job as a wife and mom that I would take a step back and re-evaluate. As much as I want to provide financially for their future, I know that I can never get these years back with my children. When they are gone, they are gone and I will wonder where the time went. 
        I continue to work one day per week at the hospital while the kids are in school and work on some math that will prepare me for college level mathematics one day but that is all. During the week, I am busy keeping up with 3 year old Susanna and running the older 4 kids to school and activities and assisting them with homework. I am also trying my best to stay on top of the house, the laundry, the household budget and preparing three meals a day for our big family so that we do not waste money on these things. These responsibilities all make for a very full and busy life but I couldn't be happier! As much as I love my children and want to give them everything, I have realized over the past year that I just can't. God is their provider and I am called to be their mother, the one who loves, encourages and nurtures them both physically and spiritually. 
         I have wasted so many years comparing myself to other women who seemed to be able to do more or be more than I could be and feeling inadequate in just about every way as a wife and mother. As a type-A personality and an overachiever, I have made a lot of wrong turns in my life attempting to overachieve. I am grateful that 2016 so far has been a year of reflection and understanding the deep love my Heavenly Father has for me. He does not expect me to be more or do more than He has called me to and I am learning to rest and be content that through Him, I AM ENOUGH as a wife to Daniel and mother to our fabulous five. He doesn't care whether I am homeschooling all the kids, or making a great income to fund college and retirement. He just wants my heart...  

In the same way that I want my children's hearts

Friday, March 18, 2016

Why We Must Stop Comparing Our Lives to Others' Lives

I thought this post by Joshua Becker at Becoming Minimalist was awesome! While I have no desire to live in a tiny house and am so grateful for the 2800 square feet the Lord has blessed me with (maybe due to the size of my family), I am on a journey to become a minimalist when it comes to owning less material things and not cluttering up my schedule with things that don't align with my goals and priorities. By becoming a minimalist, I feel that I will be able to focus more time and energy on the 3 things that matter most to me in life: My Faith in God, My Family, and My Friends. I feel that a huge step in my journey is to not waste time comparing my life with others' lives and fully enjoy the life that the Lord has blessed me with! 

Joshua's Post:
 Envy is ever joined with the comparing of a man’s self; and where there is no comparison, no envy.” —Sir Francis Bacon
Most of us understand the foolishness of trying to compare ourselves to others. We would readily admit that no good ever comes from it. Yet, whether we are comparing our home size, paycheck, physical features, or any number of measurable (and even unmeasureable) things, we do it all the time.
Even though we know there are inherent problems contained in the process:
  1. We most often compare the wrong things. Because we can most easily compare the things that we can objectively measure, we live in a world that is great at measuring and comparing externals. Somewhere along the way, we decided that we could determine who is living a more valuable life by comparing clothes, cars, homes, paychecks, beauty, or Twitter followers. But externals are rarely a good measure. Net-worth has never been a good indicator of self-worth.
  2. We always compare our worst with their best. Comparing your life with others is always a losing proposition because there will always be people who “appear” to be better off than you and seemingly live the perfect life. After all, we always compare the worst of what we know about ourselves to the best assumptions that we make about others. Be advised, their life is never as perfect as your mind makes it out to be.
  3. There is no end to the comparison game. There is an infinite number of categories upon which you can compare yourself… and an almost infinite number of people to compare yourself to. Once you start down that road, you will never, ever find an end.
  4. Life isn’t graded on a curve. How you measure up against others holds absolutely no importance in your life anyway. It simply makes no difference. The goal of life is not to be better than 50% of the other people on the planet. The goal of life is to be the best you that you can possibly be.
  5. Comparison puts your focus on the wrong person. You can control one life – yours. When we consistently compare ourselves to others, we waste precious energy focusing on other peoples’ lives rather than our own.
  6. Comparison robs you of joy. Comparing yourself to others will always cause you to regret what you aren’t, rather than allow you to enjoy who you are. It will always steal the joy and happiness that is within your reach… and place it just outside of your reach instead.
Many a contented life has surely been stolen by the unhealthy habit of comparing ourselves to others. Comparing ourselves to others will always rob us of gratitude, joy, and fulfillment.
But even more than than, it prevents us from fully living our lives. It calls us to envy someone else’s life and seek theirs rather than ours. It is robbing us of our most precious possession: life itself. And while the temptation to compare may never be completely eliminated, there are certainly some practical steps that we can take to move past it. Consider a few of these:
1. Recognize the inherent problems in comparing yourself to another.Take a good look at the list above. Why would we want any habit in our life that promotes feelings of inferiority? Or consistently promotes envy, competition, and strife with no end in sight? Sometimes, just a reminder of the foolishness contained in the habit is the most important step in overcoming it.
2. Celebrate who you are. There are many wonderful things about your life. You are an artist… or a businessman… or a mother… or a good listener… or a generous soul. You have much to celebrate and are entirely unique. Any comparison between you and another person is like comparing apples to oranges. They aren’t living your life, you are. Therefore, you should expect the results to be completely different.
3. Focus inward. Value generosity, humility, goodness, kindness, and love. Begin to focus on developing the inward qualities of a simplified life and the externals will lose their beauty. And the quicker we find beauty on the inside, the sooner we’ll stop comparing things on the outside (skin-deep beauty, paychecks, or power).
4. Realize life is not a competition. There may be times when competition is appropriate, but life is not one of them. We have all been thrown together at this exact moment on this exact planet. And the sooner we stop competing against others to “win,” the faster we can start working together to figure it out.
5. Remember that nobody is perfect. We live in a society that glamorizes perfection. Consider that magazine racks are full of models and celebrities with perfect faces telling one-sided stories of great triumph and fulfillment. One important step to avoiding the lure of comparison is to remember that one snapshot in time never tells the whole story. The story is never told of the hours in a make-up room or the photo editing technique to cover the blemishes. The story is rarely told of their insecurities or failures (except to mention how they overcame them). That story doesn’t sell nearly as many magazines. But the truth remains: there are no perfect people – including you and including me.
6. Live as intentional as possible. Too many people live their lives without intentionality or thought. They rarely find a quiet moment to sit in meditation or solitude and examine their life – who they are and who they are becoming. As a result, lives are lived as a reaction to the events around them. But when a life is lived intentionally and thoughtfully, the comparison game becomes less attractive.
As humans, it is in our nature to compare ourselves to others. But nothing good ever comes from it. So let’s stop comparing ourselves to others. We were not born to live their life. There is no sense wasting our life (or energy) being jealous of theirs. Instead, let’s start living our lives. Let’s determine today to be good at it. After all, we only get one shot.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Save Money By Making Your Own Granola Bars

I don't know about you but I think it is so disheartening to buy a box of natural granola bars at the grocery store for approximately $3.99 a box only to have them gone in one sitting and not even have enough for Daniel and I because there are only five bars in the box, one for each of our five kids! If Daniel and I exercise restraint and let all the kids have a granola bar for a snack five days out of the week, this habit would cost us approximately $80/month! That just doesn't work for our grocery budget, especially since the granola bars are so small and light anyway that the kids are still famished and begging for more after one bar. I came up with this recipe and while I don't keep them made up all the time, it has certainly helped us out! 

Natural Granola Bars

3 cups of oats
Anything else in your cupboard you want to include-
(dried fruit, choc chips, nuts, seeds, dry cereal, flaked coconut...)
Equal parts of a nut butter and coconut oil (to make them stick)
1/2 c. honey
salt to taste
Mix everything together except nut butter and coconut oil. You will want to save those for last since the amounts will depend on how many other ingredients you decide to add. Add equal parts of nut butter and coconut oil until everything stirs and sticks together nicely. Line a 9"x13" dish with wax paper and press mixture into the bottom. Place in refrigerator until hard. I like to cut these into squares and wrap them in wax paper with a piece of tape and store them in a container to grab and go. 

*You can make these lower carb and more like the popular KIND bars by cutting out the oats and using more nuts and low carb ingredients instead. Maple and other flavorings also taste great in these!
I usually double or triple this recipe for our family since they will stay fresh for weeks in the refrigerator. They are also fine not refrigerated for several days. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What I'm Reading ~ Raising Grateful Kids In An Entitled World

    I am reading this book at night before bed and it is knocking my socks off! I highly recommend it if you are in the trenches of raising kids. I used to feel bad that we couldn't give our kids more, take them on more vacations or provide more experiences for them but now I feel differently. I have been reminded that they are watching our every move and whatever standard of living they see us living is what they will want or feel entitled to for themselves. What if we taught them that it is more blessed to give of our resources than it is to receive? What if they saw us truly finding our joy in giving even when we could afford to spend more on ourselves? This book is a challenging read but so necessary. We have entitled kids, because we are entitled. Ouch! This book is a challenge to love God and others more than ourselves and to let our kids see us doing so by the joy that flows out of us in the process. The book also mentions one caution that really got my attention; "Anytime we step out of the mainstream and try to turn our lives and our homes around to go upstream, its hard. Some would say impossible because the journey is full of obstacles, naysayers, and  people who attempt to discourage us. It's in our human nature at a young age to want to fit in, to not stick out or be different, to blend in. The problem is that God has called us to exactly that-- to go against the flow." (18)

Romans 12:2 MSG says
Don't become do well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking
Instead, fix your attention on God. 

*I really can't recommend this book enough! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Strawberry Cream Muffins

I am so excited to see strawberries going on sale just about everywhere right now with the start of strawberry season! Last weekend, I was able to purchase 16 oz. containers of strawberries for just $0.99/each at Aldi! I purchased six tubs but would have bought more if I had the refrigerator/freezer space because we used the last container of them this morning when we ate these yummy strawberry cream muffins for breakfast. My friend Shannon requested the recipe so I thought I would share it here for anyone else who would enjoy them.

Strawberry Cream Muffins

2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp. salt 
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 egg
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil
1/2 cup honey 

Measure dry ingredients into mixing bowl. Add liquids and mix just until blended. 
Use a 1/4 c. measuring cup to drop batter into well greased muffin tins (or paper liners).
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Makes 12 muffins. Enjoy! 

* I always double or triple this recipe so we have some to share or extra batter to freeze. To freeze batter: pour into greased muffin tins or paper liners and place in freezer just into frozen, dump frozen batter clumps into a gallon size freezer bag and freeze. When ready for muffins, place frozen batter into greased muffin tins and add 5 minutes to the cooking time. This method tastes way better than baking before freezing! 

Saturday, March 05, 2016

How To Save Money Going to Kid's Birthday Parties

When you have five kids, you get LOTS of invitations to kids' birthday parties. Our children get so excited about going to their friends' birthday parties and we are so grateful for the many wonderful friends that our children are blessed with! Going to so many parties could be a budget buster if we don't carefully plan but we love the opportunity to bless them! I recently set our budget at $5.00 tops for going to a child's birthday party. That includes everything: the card, the present and the packaging. I am going to show you how we have been able to manage this lately while still giving the child a wonderful gift that will make them feel special. 

Today I started by getting a piece of white copy paper and folded it into a trifold shape to make it fit inside a standard envelope (cheap!). I then wrote "Happy Birthday Meredith" on the front and left the rest of it blank to have Mercy personalize it for her friend. She loved doing this because she knew what Meredith would like. 

                                                She drew a picture of her and Meredith together
    and some minions because Meredith 
apparently loves minions! I think it is special 
  for the friend to receive a homemade card 
    personalized just for them from one of their good friends! 

For the gift, I got on Groupon to see what deals were currently available in our area and I was able to score a $12.00 gift certificate to the local Cinnabon for just $5.00! I quickly paid for it and printed it out. I did blot out the price I paid on the certificate for good manner's sake! I did want them to think I spent the full $12.00 right? 

 And there you have it, a great gift that most any kid would love, packaging and all for $5.00. Time to go party!

Friday, March 04, 2016

What I'm Reading ~ Living Well, Spending Less

One of my close friends, Megan Carver  let me borrow this book and I am loving it so much that I have almost finished it in spite of an incredibly busy week! She and I are always reading similar books so we have decided to start book swapping to save money!

From Amazon:

In Search of the Good Life

Have you ever that your life--and budget--is spiraling out of control?  Do you sometimes wish you could pull yourself together but wonder exactly how to manage all the scattered pieces of a chaotic life?  Is it possible to find balance?

In a word, yes.

Ruth Soukup knows firsthand how stressful an unorganized life and budget can be. Through personal stories, biblical truth, and practical action plans, she will inspire you to make real and lasting changes to your personal goals, home, and finances. With honesty and the wisdom of someone who has been there, Ruth will help you:

    *    Discover your "sweet spot"--that place where your talents and abilities intersect.
    *    Take back your time and schedule by making simple shifts in your daily habits.
    *    Reduce stress in your home and family by clearing out the clutter.
    *    Stop busting your budget and learn to cut your grocery bill in half.
    *    Bring order to a messy life and create a practical cleaning schedule that works.

Who Needs This Book?

Living Well, Spending Less was written to bring hope and encouragement to every woman who currently feels overwhelmed or stressed with a life--and budget--that feels out of control. It speaks to the mom trying to juggle all the demands of a busy life with the pressure to keep up with those around her.  It is a practical guide for those of us who often long to pull ourselves together but don't always know how. It is real, honest, packed with practical tips, and speaks to the heart of the matter--how can we live the life we've always wanted?

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

9 Reasons Buying Stuff Won’t Make You Happy

I can't say that buying stuff has ever made me happy and it never will! I really resonated with this post from Becoming Minimalist and I think you will too! 

9 Reasons Buying Stuff Won’t Make You Happy

“If you make a habit of buying things you do not need, you will soon be selling things you do.” —Filipino Proverb
Our experiences hint at it. Studies confirm it.
Buying things won’t make us happy.
The pursuit and purchase of physical possessions will never fully satisfy our desire for happiness. It may result in temporary joy for some, but the happiness found in buying a new item rarely lasts longer than a few days. Researchers even have a phrase for this temporary fulfillment: retail therapy.
There are many reasons buying stuff won’t make us happy.
They all begin to fade. All possessions are temporary by nature. They look shiny and new in the store. But immediately, as soon as the package is opened, they begin to perish, spoil, or fade.
There is always something new right around the corner. New models, new styles, new improvements, and new features. From clothes and cars to kitchen gadgets and technology, our world moves forward. Andplanned obsolescence makes sure our most recent purchase will be out of use sooner rather than later.
Each purchase adds extra worry to our lives. Every physical item we bring into our lives represents one more thing that can be broken, scratched, or stolen.
Possessions require maintenance. The things we own require time, energy, and focus. They need to be cleaned, organized, managed, and maintained. And as a result, they often distract us from the things that truly do bring us lasting happiness.
Our purchases cost us more than we realize. In stores, products are measured in dollars and cents. But as Henry David Thoreau once said, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” We don’t buy things with money, we buy them with hours from our lives.
We discover other people aren’t all that impressed. Subconsciously (and sometimes even consciously), we expect our newest purchases will impress other people. They will notice our new car, computer, jacket, or shoes. But most of the time, they are less impressed than we think. Instead, most of them are too busy trying to impress you with their newest purchase.
Someone else always has more. The search for happiness in possessions is always short-lived because it is based on faulty reasoning that buckles under its own weight. If happiness is found in buying stuff, those with more will always be happier. The game can never be won.
Shopping does not quench our desire for contentment. Contentment is never found in the purchase of more stuff. Our overflowing closets and drawers stand as proof. No matter how much we get, it’s never enough.
Experiences make us happier than possessions. All research points to the fact there are far more effective way to find happiness: enjoying life-changing experiences, for example.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Dave Ramsey's 7 Baby Steps

In an effort to become the best stewards of all that God entrusts to us, Daniel and I are attempting to follow Dave Ramsey's 7 baby steps. We went through Dave's Financial Peace University back in 2012 when I was pregnant with Susanna (Bitty Bit) and were able to pay off all our (non real estate) debt before selling our house and buying land in 2013. We went backwards and right back into debt however when we went way over budget building our house. This is attempt #2 to go through Financial Peace University and follow the baby steps. This time we aim to stick with the plan and see it through all the way to baby step #7! We are currently on baby step #2 and doing all the we can to knockout all our debt. It's not easy but we have found joy and peace in the process and best of all we are starting to see results!

Here are the 7 baby steps.

  • Baby Step 1 – $1,000 to start an Emergency Fund
  • Baby Step 2 – Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball
  • Baby Step 3 – 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings
  • Baby Step 4 – Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement
  • Baby Step 5 – College funding for children
  • Baby Step 6 – Pay off home early
  • Baby Step 7 – Build wealth and give!
May I encourage you to seek out an FPU class in your area? Click here to find a class in your area! 

Monday, February 29, 2016

How I am Saving our Family Money by shopping Bi-weekly

Out of pure determination to pay off all the unexpected dumb debt we accrued while building our dream house (Yes we knew that most building projects go over budget but we were optimistic that ours wouldn't) Bitty Bit and I have been doing ALL the household shopping while the kids are at school every other Friday on payday and trying our best not to spend money on any other day other than for fuel. No we aren't perfect but so far we are sticking to our spending freeze better than we imagined! Household Shopping day for our family of seven is quite a work day and I put a great deal of time into meal planning, clipping coupons, looking at sale papers and planning our route for the day. Afterall, we do have to make it home and unload everything before picking the older 4 kids up from school at 3pm! So far it has paid off big time as we have been able to come up with extra $200-400 dollars per month to pay down on our debt by planning ahead and shopping this way. We are so excited about the progress we are making that it gives us the motivation to keep living this way even though it can be hard and inconvenient. 

Here is Bitty Bit and I psyching ourselves up for the 40 minute drive to Roanoke. We have found that with our large family. It is worth it to drive to Roanoke to shop at Aldi and Sam's Club where we can buy in bulk and get more for our money. Since I don't take all the kids, Bitty bit and I cram into a tiny 2-door Honda so that we don't cut into our savings goals by driving the 2004 gas hog Suburban that serves as our family vehicle. We are blessed that we can pretty much hit up the four stores we shop at in one circle. Aldi, Sam's Club, Kroger and CVS (we may stop at other stores that day if I hear of a great opportunity to save money).

Here are some great deals that Bitty Bit and I found on Friday! 
I should have saved receipts but we got the kids Easter candy, toothpaste
and a 2-month supply of laundry detergent for our family at CVS and spent a total
of $1.57 by using manufacturer coupons, a store coupon and extra care bucks
combined with the stores sales! 

Another way I have been trying to save is by getting organized
and planning ahead for things we will need in the future by buying
things ahead when there is a deal to be had. Dollar General had
all of their Valentine Stuff 70% so I was able to stop and get all the valentines
that our 3 girls would need to give out next year for a total of $0.95 cents!

At the end of the Day, Bitty Bit and I saved money. We were able to come up with $200 to put towards our debt by using what we saved out of our food and household budget combined with the $45/per paycheck we budget for clothing for our family since no one needed any shoes or clothing this pay period. It may have taken some time but overall it will save time because the shopping is done and I won't be wondering what is for dinner, or lunch or snacks for the next two weeks because I was forced to figure all of that out before household shopping day. Hopefully this will eliminate the need to waste gas and money by making multiple runs to the store and reward me with more time to invest in my family!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Wonderful Sunday!

We had a glorious Sunday, though it didn't start out that way. Getting to church with five children is no small feat but I thought I had everything planned out to have a lovely, smooth sailing Sunday. The roast  was thawed and ready to go in the crock pot to cook while we were at church, The girls were bathed the day before and I had matching dresses for all three laid out. We would arrive at church on time and then come home to lovely smelling pot roast for lunch... or maybe not!  I woke up and there was no power. I was so frustrated because the power company had called and said that there would be a scheduled outage but that it would be back on before we got up. I immediately started to panic as all of my carefully made plans for the morning went out the window. I texted Shannon, one of my closest friends, that lives within a five minute drive of our house to see if they had power. Thankfully, they did! Daniel and the boys quickly went over there to get showers and took my crock pot with our Sunday lunch in it to plug up in Shannon's kitchen. We would swing by on the way home from church and get it. Everything seemed to be going smoothly except that my hair still looked horrible and there was no way for me to go to Shannon's and get a shower. There just wasn't time. Just before Daniel and the boys made it back, the hospital I work at 1-2 days a week called to see if I could come in and care for a mentally impaired patient. This would save me from having to go to church with bad hair because it wouldn't matter if my hair looked bad with my scrubs. It would be expected. I threw on my scrubs and made sure the girls were ready when Daniel and the boys got back. They all went off to church and I headed to the hospital. The hospital only needed me for 2 1/2 hours so I got to spend the rest of this glorious day with my family! And boy did I appreciate the gift of electricity when we all arrived home to eat our pot roast! 

The Rich sisters in their matching dresses

 Our whole family loved being outdoors today! It was 61 degrees which is rare for a February day here in the Southwest VA mountains.

We even got a family selfie on the trampoline!