Mercy in the Midst of a Miscarriage

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God is Good,” I said after the Ultrasound Physician informed me that they could not find the heartbeat of the baby. They also had just told me that the baby was much smaller than the 10 – 12 weeks gestation that I was supposed to be at.

However, the truth of my heart would be revealed a week later when the baby passed. I then had a moment (the moment lasting a few weeks) in which I was not so sure that God was actually good. I was hurt, angry and felt like I had failed – or He had failed me

A little seed of bitterness would take root and it would be the mercy of the Lord to remove it as the weeks passed by. Instead of focusing on what was lost (although I did take appropriate time to grieve), the Lord revealed to me his mercies during the time of the pregnancy and subsequent loss.

It was God’s mercy to provide people grateful to help.

I had been sick, very sick for most of the pregnancy. I learned that people want to give and serve when given the opportunity. Many people helped me during this time. Some provided emotional support, some brought meals, some helped with housekeeping, and some provided a little childcare relief – I have three living children that still needed my care during this time. I was very grateful that people gave up their time to help our family. I was convicted that after this, that I wanted to be more purposeful about helping others in my community.

It was God’s mercy to teach me that we are created to serve others, not self.

I also learned that my children could do more than I allowed them to do – and it was good for them. My eldest daughter, all of seven years of age, was able to make breakfasts many mornings, heat up some lunches in the afternoon, do some laundry and dishes, and clean up the kitchen after meals. My five year old could be my “gopher,” getting whatever was needed, help pick up after her younger sister, and help with cleaning the kitchen and putting away laundry. Even my three year old helped to set the table and go get things for mom. 

The girls thrived in their productiveness. They still had play time and sometimes, we would just watch videos, so life wasn’t just work. But they seemed to take pride in their usefulness. They found joy, grace, strength and maturity in the help they provided to the family.

It was God’s mercy to provide productive outlets for the children.

In the end, I was able to rejoice in the blessings, see the layers of God’s mercy surpass the suffering, and I can say – “God is Good!”

Saving Money 101: The Chocolate Secret

Saving 101: The Chocolate Secret
Saving 101: The Chocolate Secret

There are only a few delicacies affordable for the average person today and chocolate is one of them.

In an effort to make chocolate more affordable to our family, I have found a couple of secrets and I am sharing them here with you.

Least Expensive Quality Chocolate Bars

I only eat bars with 60% or more coco in them – no Hershey’s® for this gal! My two preferred bars are Lindt® and Ghiradelli® 60% or 70% cocoa bars. The typical price I have seen for these 3.5 ounce bars are around $3.00 per bar. Walmart® has the best prices I am aware of for the past year, ranging from $2.40 – $2.70 per 3.5 oz bar and this was the price I was (willing) to pay…until I discovered a secret:

If you go to the baking isle of Walmart® and look amongst the baking chocolate, Ghiradelli® has a 4.0 ounce baking chocolate bar – for $2.08.

So, not only is the bar bigger, but it costs $.30 to $.60 less than the candy bar. The ingredients are the same as the one in the candy aisle, only the packaging is different. I (although I admit I don’t have the most discerning palate) can not tell the difference in flavor / taste when I compared the two.

Now, in all fairness, when I went to the candy aisle this week to pick up the 3.5 oz bar for the photo shoot, I did notice the candy bar was on sale- $2.23 to be exact or $.63 per oz. The baking isle bar is $.52 per oz, so still a better deal, especially if you pick up a few at a time.

If you don’t have a Walmart nearby (or don’t like Walmart), you can get a Ghirardelli Bitter Sweet Baking Bar, 60% Cacao-4 OZ bar from Amazon for $2.99.

Make Your Own Simple, Healthy, Cheap Chocolate

I came across a recipe awhile ago in my search to make my own chocolate using coconut oil, and after a little modification, I can produce a homemade chocolate bar that I enjoy and know is healthier and cheaper than most of what can be found on the store shelves. The recipe follows:

Ingredients:

½ cup coconut oil

¼ cup raw cane sugar

½ cup cocoa powder (100% cocoa)

Instructions:

1) Grind the raw sugar (blender, coffee grinder, etc..) – this makes it “powdered” and will dissolve easier in the coconut oil.

2) In a small pan, heat the oil on medium-low. Add the sugar and stir gently for a couple of minutes until the sugar is dissolved.

3) Add the cocoa and stir until the cocoa is well blended.

4) Pour the mixture into a well greased small baking dish and then put in the refrigerator to set for a couple of hours – or if you can’t wait that long to dig in, put it in the freezer for 30 minutes.

5) Since coconut oil melts at 76 to 78 degrees, you will have to store your chocolate bar in the fridge unless you keep your house cooler.

The best deal I could find to purchase organic, dark chocolate online was for Newman’s Own Organics 2.25oz Dark Chocolate Bar for $2.57.

Super Simple Menu Plan: One Week Of Meals For Less Than $100

Menu

Our goal for a family food budget is $450 per month. This means that we have $100 or less to shop on each week (since there is 4 ½ weeks to almost every month). We eat fresh, healthy, whole, homemade food, which means very few coupons are useful to us. So how do we do this?

The following is our menu for a week, which I plan Thursday to Wednesday, since Thursday is my usual shopping day:

Thursday –

Breakfast: homemade whole grain waffles with maple flavored agave syrup.

Snack: ½ orange

Lunch: tuna-fish sandwiches on homemade bread (with pickles)

Dinner: Black beans with shredded cheese and tortilla chips

Friday –

Breakfast: ½ banana, oatmeal with non-dairy milk and honey

Snack: store-bought cheesy crackers (with whole grains and real cheese)

Lunch: tuna-fish sandwiches on homemade bread (with pickles)

Dinner: top-sirloin steak, mashed potatoes and carrots, homemade bread, ice cream

Saturday –

Breakfast: grape juice, ½ banana, cold cereal (whole grain, low sugar), non-dairy milk

Snack: store-bought ginger snap cookies (natural, no artificial ingredients)

Lunch: top-sirloin steak, mashed potatoes and carrots, homemade bread

Dinner: mixed veggies and pirogies

Sunday –

Breakfast: oatmeal with berry mix, honey, non-dairy milk

Snack: ½ orange, ¼ protein bar

Lunch: mixed veggies and pirogies

Dinner: Black beans with shredded cheese, tortilla chips, salsa, Panda black licorice

Monday –

Breakfast: grape juice, ½ banana, cornmeal mush with honey and non-dairy milk

Snack: cheesy crackers and peanut butter (no salt or sugar added)

Lunch: veggie salad and tortilla chips

Dinner: whole grain pasta, marinara sauce with ground turkey sausage

Tuesday –

Breakfast: oatmeal with honey and non-dairy milk

Snack: ¼ orange, whole wheat crackers

Lunch: homemade artisan bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip, mixed veggies

Dinner: whole grain pasta, marinara sauce with ground turkey sausage

Wednesday –

Breakfast: cornmeal mush with honey and non-dairy milk

Snack:  gingersnap cookies and ice cream

Lunch: homemade artisan bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip, mixed veggies

Dinner: veggie stir-fry with rice noodles

If you would like to see any of the recipes, please post a request. I would love to hear your healthy, simple menus – post a link if you have one!

Blessings and healthy eating.

 
YWAM

The Work At Home Mom: A Penny Saved

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A Penny Saved…

What IF, the first thing you need to do as a mother working from home, is not to figure out which product to sell, MLM to get in on, or party business to throw next? What if, instead, you need to figure out how to make use of what you already have?

Ben Franklin said: “A penny saved is a penny earned.” And God calls us to be a good steward of the money and things we already have.

Could you consider for a moment that you might do more for your family by learning how to budget, save, and make use of what you already have than you would by selling Amway (or Avon, or Scentsy or ???)? Not that I am nay-saying these legitimate businesses, some of which have great products.

I am just suggesting that before you commit yourself to a business and the work that comes with it, that you are sure you are already doing everything you can with what you already have.

It is a much simpler life (and therefore a lot less stress) to do so.

Here is an example:

Our “household items” budget was too big and we needed more money to spend on food. One item that we were purchasing monthly kept bothering me – paper towels. We were spending $15 – 20 a month on paper towels and that just seemed like a waste to me. So, I purchased a 12 pack of colorful wash-cloths for $5 and started using them as our cloth napkins at the table. We started to use old towels as rags for cleaning and we almost eliminated the use of paper towels in our household. Even considering washing a load of towels every week or so, we are saving at least $15 a month from our budget.

This is $15 I did not have to go and earn. I just made a simple change in how we do things around the house. Everyone got use to it and our environment is a bit happier for it too.

The practical to do:

Make a list of why you want to start a businesses from home. If one of the main reasons is money, then make a list of what you want the money for. Then, consider it for a few days. Are there other ways to get the money?

  • by saving from income already coming in

  • by reducing your budget in some way

  • by selling things you don’t really use or need

  • by creating something out of stuff you already have and selling it

Next: How to Start Budgeting

What if you have no idea what your household budget is, or what you spend on anything in a give month? Where should you start? 

Three Injera Recipes

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Based on my $25 weekly menu, I have had some requests for some of the recipes.

Here is a link to a traditional, Ethiopian Injera Recipe using teff flour:

http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/bread/recipe-injera.html

If you forget to start your Injera one or more days before you want to cook and eat it, you can use this quick version. This is one I have used a few times and it is good, although I wouldn’t call it traditional or as healthy:

http://www.aspicyperspective.com/2012/03/ethiopian-recipes-injera-doro-wat.html

The following is my “Americanized” version of Injera. I still ferment it for a day:

Americanized Injera Recipe with variations

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups rice flour

4 cups water

2 tsp salt

oil for cooking (grape-seed, coconut, olive)

Instructions:

  1. Mix the whole wheat flour, the rice flour and the water in a non-metal bowl. It should be thin like crepe batter.

  2. Let stand in bowl for 1 day (24 hours or close) with a cover over the bowl.

  3. Add and stir in the 2 tsp salt before cooking.

  4. Add a small amount of oil to a fry pan or wok on medium heat (just to coat the bottom).

  5. Pour in enough Injera batter to cover the bottom of the pan.

  6. Cook for a couple of minutes. Flip and cook for another minute or two.

  7. Remove from pan.

  8. Serve while warm or keep warm in oven until all are finished.

Variations:

Other flours that can be used besides rice flour: buckwheat, millet, lentil, garbanzo.

Holiday flair: Add two cups mashed pumpkin or squash right before cooking.

Spices: Try cardamom, gram masala, or cumin, depending on what you serve it with.

We have enjoyed this bread with lentil curry stew and chutney and just by itself.

Let me know if you have any favorite variations of it!

 

How to Feed A Family Of Five For One Week With $25

Learn to eat simple / cheap from other countries!
Learn to eat simple and cheap from other countries!

No, this is not an extreme coupon challenge. We recently had a situation where we only had $25 to shop for the week and feed our family of five. With a very limited pantry and no coupons or stockpile, I had to quickly seek the Lord and ask Him to show me what we would do. And, He did – during the past week, through a series of events, I had learned about Ethiopian Food. Due to their very limited economy, Ethiopian’s have learned to make inexpensive but flavorful and filling food.

What follows is the menu we followed for the week.




  • 5 breakfasts of oatmeal

  • 2 breakfasts of peach muffins

  • 3 lunches and 2 dinners of Injera bread and lentil stew w/ tomatoes and spinach

  • 2 lunches and 3 dinners of fried rice

  • 2 lunches and 1 dinner of mac and cheese with mixed veggies

For total disclosure, the final dinner was pizza when we finally had money in the bank again:-)

Disclosure: Some links in this post may be affiliate links.

This is what we had in our pantry:

  • Whole wheat flour

  • Brown rice

  • Cane sugar

  • Tomato paste

  • Vinegar

  • Soy Sauce

  • Olive Oil
  • Canned peaches

  • Salt and Spices

This is what we purchased for $25:

  • Oatmeal

  • Lentils
  • 1 qt of almond milk

  • Butter

  • 5 pack of mac and cheese

  • 2 bags of frozen veggies (one mixed, one spinach)

  • 1 – 18 count eggs

  • Carrots

We honesty ended up enjoying the food and did not feel that we were going without for the week. We are so encouraged by this, that we have decided to take up this challenge once a month and only have a $25 budget for one week every month. Our normal food budget runs about $75 – $100.

Oh, and another positive note is that I lost two pounds during the week. There really is something to be said about simple living, including simple eating.

What would you do if you only had $25 for one week to feed your family?

 

Cleansing, Iron Increasing Beet Soup Recipe

English: A bundle of organic beets from a loca...

I was recently asked for my beet soup recipe.

This recipe was given to me by my (step) mom and we enjoy this soup whenever we just want to feel lighter and cleansed or when I need a boost in iron. My children really like this soup too!

Ingredients:

2 – 3 medium beets, keep some of the beet greens if you have them

2 TBL butter or good oil (coconut, olive, grape-seed)

½ tsp salt

1 – 2 tsp Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning or similar

4 – 6 cups water

Optional: substitute vegetable broth or chicken broth for some of the water

Instructions:

1 – Wash and dice beets into small chunks or julienne if you want to be fancy. Chop up a couple tablespoons of greens.

2 – Melt butter or heat up oil on medium heat in a medium size pot.

3 – Carefully put beets (but not greens yet) in pot and sauté 8 to 10 minutes.

4 – Add seasonings (salt and Mrs. Dash).

5 – Add water and optional broth.

6 – Cook for 10 – 15 minutes. Add greens for the last 5 minutes.

 

I have a similar recipe in my Simple, Healthy, Cheap! A Simple Life’s Guide to Home Economics: Beginning Cooking eBook, but uses Asian seasonings and adds rice noodles to make a more complete meal. 

Three Real Secrets of Weight Loss

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I confess that I am one of millions who struggle with my weight. I have played around with radical diets and have clicked on more than a few “Lose Weight Now” links on the internet.

But, these are mostly from mans’ wisdom and they may work for a few, but they don’t work for most. Here are three things that God has shown me about my weight loss, and when I practice them faithfully, my weight goes down.

1 – Serve Others Instead of Self

God recently showed me that my weekly menu planning was completely self-serving. I was picking meals that I loved, was craving, and that I would want to eat a lot of. I was putting my pleasure before the desires of the rest of the family, before our nutritional needs, and before what was best for all.

Having tried an experiment before, then stopped (and gained weight), I am going to try it again: I will only put a couple of my favorite meals on the menu. The rest are going to be nutritional staples (i.e. salad night, smoothie lunch, etc….), other family favorites and frugal, simple living meals.

The truth is, I simply won’t eat as much when I make rice and beans for 3 meals for the week, but a couple of my children and my husband really like it. Same with chili. Husband loves it! I don’t. I won’t each much that meal either, just what I need to keep going.

One other variation of serving others – I find that when I really take care in serving the family first, I will eat less. When I try to eat while serving, I find myself feeding my entitlement spirit and eating more than I need.

2 – Portion Control

I simply need to stop eating so much! Yes, it is so simple and we all make it so complicated.

The truth is, we (and I) lack self-control and make 1000’s of excuses for not controlling self. When I pray for help to control myself, I receive more grace to do so. When I confess why I am not controlling myself and repent, I also do better.

When I am not asking for God’s help and I try to hide the reasons I am overeating, or think I am entitled to eat – I only hurt myself. I have to pray before every meal, while I am cooking, and sometimes during the meal. But, when I control my portions, I lose weight and I feel better.

Yes, I have a dilapidated past and there are underlying reasons why I struggle with food. It is good to work out these things. However, one of the biggest things a godly women taught me this past year – that I can’t keep using that as an excuse to do things like overeat.

3 – Get Moving Doing Real Things

I most likely will never be seen at a gym. I have many reasons to avoid them, one being that the whole thing is very boring to me.

But I do have children.. and sidewalks… and music.

So, we take walks, we dance, we play, and we keep active. When I don’t get up and do things like this with the children, they get crazy and I start gaining (or at least stop loosing) weight.

When I get moving, even for 15 to 20 minutes a day, I can feel the difference – the first day. Sedentary living is not what we are created to do.

I hope something in this inspires you, helps you, encourages you and that you can overcome overeating. If you found it useful (or not) let me know. If you have a secret that has really worked for you, please share.

There Is A Limited Place For Weight Loss Supplements

Understanding that weight loss supplements are only a temporary help, I do want to share with you April’s Sunshine Weight Loss Products and their Holistic Weight Loss Plan (click links for more information). If you do decide to use their products, please support this blog by using my Rep ID: 3383365 when you purchase. You are also welcome to contact me for more information.

How Some Families Are Successfully Going Outside The Health Insurance System

Read the post from Money Saving Mom about the Samaritan Health Care Ministry:

http://moneysavingmom.com/2013/10/how-we-save-money-on-health-care-costs.html

I believe the Samaritan’s Health Cost Sharing ministry is a great idea and is working. However, the following is my response to the post:

We would like to join Samaritan, but we can’t afford $370 per month.

Currently, my husband and I go without health insurance and God has been faithful to take care of us. My husband currently has a cellulitis infection and we are treating it naturally as we have done in the past.

We treat colds and flues all naturally and ask for God’s will and intercession before we see the doctor.

My children have Medicaid for their once a year visit.

If we were to be in an accident, there are many ways it could be covered, including by charity from the hospital because of our low-income.

God knows how hard my husband works to support our family (over 80 hours per week), and where we are at financially, and meets us there. Until the fines for not getting insurance exceed $4000 per year (what it would cost for us to join Samaritan or get “regular” insurance), this is where we will live.