18Sep

Saving for a Home Part 1 {Debt-Free Living}

Debt Free Home

When we started our debt-free journey nearly 2.5 years ago, our plan was to pay off our mortgage on the home we were living in at the time, and we included that in our debt-free process.

However, we then moved across the state, and had trouble selling our previous home. And, for 2 years we paid double house payments as we paid rent in our new town and the mortgage on our old house. Talk about stressing an over tight budget!

However, the Lord was faithful in His provisions, and we made it through that time just fine because of the things He had already begun to teach us.

And, as of June 2014 we are debt free (after paying off nearly 20,000 in student loans, and being forced to accept a short sale on our home).

Bump in the Road

I’ll be honest and say that if it were completely up to us, we’d probably be house hunting right now and diving right back into a mortgage, albeit a small one.

However, because we were forced to accept a short sale offer on our house, we are ineligible for a home loan for 3 years. This was a disappointment and frustration to us, because we worked very hard to pay that payment every single month. We never missed it, despite the super tight budget.

But then because of a misunderstanding, we are ineligible for a home loan despite a near perfect credit score. (We thought we could accept the lesser offer and make payments on the balance, but later found out that was not a possibility. The only way the bank would approve the sale and release the lien was if it was marked paid-in-full, via a short sale. However, even in that, the Lord moved.)

The positive side of all of this is that we have 3 years of forced waiting time to try and do the impossible–save cash for our home. (or at least get a good start on it!)

Hmmm, maybe the Lord is trying to tell us to be patient?

Journey to Buying Our Home

So, yes we are out of debt, but since we are currently renting, the journey is not over yet! After meeting the first goal to get out of debt, our new goal is to save cash for a home. 

Wow. Just typing that is tough. This is by far the biggest goal we have ever set for ourselves, and will surely test our commitment many times over!

We are longing for a simpler life out in the country. We aren’t picky about the house, but want it to be on a few acres so that we can raise our boys in the country with the freedoms and responsibilities of farm life. And we believe this is a dream and longing that the Lord has placed on our hearts and will see to fruition.

Realistic Goals

We are still just a very average family, with a very small income, so to set a goal of saving cash for our own home is a big deal. Some would say (and have said to us) that it is impossible.

But, we remind ourselves that all things are possible with God.

And, we believe we have a realistic dream. We are simple people, with a simple, frugal  lifestyle. We are not looking for a nice, big, expensive home with bells and whistles. We are praying for a small, simple, fixer-upper farm house, though we are hoping for some land to go with it. We just want to raise our boys in the country.  In light of these simple desires, we can afford to have a small budget for our house savings.

Staying Encouraged

With all that said, I know that a big part of the difficulty of a goal like this will be remaining encouraged down this long, long path! This is not a quick thing. It will take us years.

I’m going to share next week some of the specific things we are doing to make this dream a reality, but for now I’d love to hear your tips for staying encouraged. Have you saved cash for your own home? I’d love to hear your success stories or encouragement.

17Sep

Thriving Thursday 9/18

Don’t miss my great list of nearly 40 free books for kindle that you can get right now…all from the best publishers and authors in Christian fiction, so definitely check that out.

This week at Serving Joyfully

Last Friday, I shared about a book I have been reading and how that inspired me with a picture of what it really means to serve joyfully. I hope you will read it and be encouraged just as I was.

What does it look like to serve our families with a joyful spirit?

 

I also shared a brand new freebie this week, an ABC bean bag toss game that my boys love! PS–if your readers would enjoy this freebie, I’d love for you to share it with them :)

ABC Bean Bag Toss

 

And then I shared our family’s new favorite chili recipe that I made this year with a little help from my Mrs. Wages chili base that I canned earlier this summer. Can I just say…YAY for fall weather?!? Chili never tasted so good as it does the first cool spell of the fall season :)

 

 

Delicious Chili Recipe

PS–I also shared on my facebook page that next month is a 31 day writing challenge for bloggers. Last year I did the 31 days of loving your husband intentionally. And this year, I’m considering a few different topics. I’d love for you to go weigh in on your favorite.

What have you been up to this week?

There were so many FANTASTIC posts linked up last week and I can’t wait to see what you ladies have to share this week :)

Thriving Thursdays Link Up!!!

Thriving Thursdays is a link up for family-friendly bloggers, who are choosing to THRIVE in their lives. It’s a place for us to encourage and inspire one another to live life to the fullest–in Jesus Christ. Link up your posts about thriving–in marriage, faith, parenting, homemaking, relationships, in the kitchen, in frugality.

Everything we do can be a ministry and worship to our Lord. Link up as many posts as you want, and I hope that you’ll take the time to visit some other participants as well.

I am so blessed by the posts you all share! I really look forward to seeing all of the encouragement shared here each week. Keep it coming! Sometimes I highlight posts here, and I also pin my favorites to the Thriving Thursdays Pinterest Board.

15Sep

Quick & Easy Delicious Chili

Delicious Chili Recipe

Confession–I’m not so great at chili making.

I tend to avoid recipes for it because I’m so picky. So, I end up just throwing things together. It always turns out just fine, but it’s a “stressful” thing for me to make because I never write it down or use a recipe, so every time is like a surprise. I like surprises just fine sometimes, but not when it comes to my food. For my food, I prefer steady and dependable.

And when you just throw things together, that’s not always what you get. Every batch of chili I make tastes just a bit different than the one before, and some are better than others. The problem is that I can’t recreate even the good ones because I don’t really measure or write things down.

So, when I had some extra tomatoes earlier this year, and saw a bag of Mrs. Wages Chili Base sitting on the shelf at the local Amish store, I decided to take a chance.

I canned several jars of chili base, and we just recently had a chance to try it out. September is still pretty hot in Kentucky, but we have just had a small taste of fall and I am loving it!

This mix made it easy to create a good, consistent chili and the whole family loved it.

I am in KY. Where all sorts of different things just kind of converge. I’m right in the middle of the people who have spaghetti in their chili, and the people who don’t. I personally don’t like spaghetti in my chili, because I always grew up with macaroni noodles in it and that’s what I prefer. Yes, I know that noodles are noodles, but it’s different!

Prep Work

This chili does take some prep work. The good thing is, you can take a couple hours one day and can several jars of the base and they are ready and waiting to go, making a super quick and easy, hassle-free chili for when you decide to fix it.

Since I buy bulk packages of ground beef that I brown and freeze in 1 lb packages, I can save even more time (and dirty dishes) since all I have to do is grab a pack from the freezer.

Chili Recipe

Quick & Easy Delicious Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 pint prepared Mrs. Wages Chili Base
  • 1 pint of water (just use fresh water in the same pint jar and pour it in)
  • 1 lb ground beef, browned
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cans chili beans
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1.5 cups dry macaroni
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Serve with crackers and shredded cheese if desired

Instructions

  1. Brown 1 lb ground beef in skillet.
  2. Combine all ingredients except macaroni in crockpot. Cook on low 4-6 hours. Cook and add macaroni just before serving.
  3. For a heartier chili, add less water. If you’d like a thinner chili, add a bit more water.

Note: A crockpot is not necessary for this meal. On stove top, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for approximately 20-30 minutes or until macaroni noodles are tender.

14Sep

ABC Bean Bag Toss (Free Printable Game)

ABC Bean Bag Toss

It’s been a while since I offered a freebie, so I decided it is about time! And, I’m so excited about today’s free printable pack! It is a game that my boys loved, and I finally got around to making a printable version of it.

Before I share that though, I thought I would share some more of our favorite reading/ABC resources. (You can read more in depth about my reading recommendations and resources here)

ABC Books

  1. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
  2.  The Letters are Lost
  3.  The Beetle Alphabet Book
  4.  I Spy Letters
  5.  On Market Street

Games

  1.  Scrabble, Jr. 
  2.  Alphabet Bingo.
  3. Leap Frog Fridge Phonics.
  4. The Reading Game.

Curriculum

  1.  All About Reading. 
  2. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
  3.  Dry Erase Boards & Markers. 
  4. Workbooks
  5. Printables.
  6.  free curriculum.

ABC Bean Bag Toss

This is a very fun game! I created this download to make it simple for you, but if you are a DIY kinda gal, it would be very simple to make your own version, and you can get your kiddos in on the fun also!

To make your own: Print the letters a-z, one each on 26 different pieces of paper. (Each piece of paper should have one letter on it). This would be a great thing to let your little ones do to practice making their letters.  Then, you’ll need some photos, items, or flashcards, along with a bean bag. Show the child the item, photo, or flashcard and instruct him or her to toss the bean bag onto the appropriate letter card to indicate the beginning sound. If the bag lands on the appropriate letter, they can get that picture card (or flash card, or item). There are so many variations to this game that it never gets old. And, it’s a great refresher for kids who already know letter sounds, since half the game is trying to aim the bag for the correct letter.

If you’d rather not make your own version of this game, mine is currently free for subscribers (it is usually $2.99 in my printables store).

Included in this Download

  • Detailed Instructions
  • 26 Letter sheets
  • 65+ picture/word flashcards

How to Get it Free

I know some people prefer email and some prefer facebook, so I am offering a choice. This will be available for free for a limited time, so grab yours now :)

1. I am offering it FREE to all likers on facebook. Simply go here, and if you haven’t liked my page already, click “like” and click on the cover to download. Facebook has switched things around and the facebook like box now shows up on the left side of the page, rather than the top. This may not work properly on some mobile devices.

—> Download FREE via Facebook

2. I am offering it FREE to all subscribers via email. If you are already a subscriber, you should see the download link at the top of this post. If you are a new subscriber, you will be redirected to a page with the download link when you confirm your subscription.


—>Download FREE via Email

Again, this will be free for a limited time, and then it will be available for purchase in my printables store.

Don’t want to subscribe?

Get it now in my printables store for just $2.99.

Graphics are from My Cute Graphics and used by permission.

11Sep

A Picture of Serving Joyfully

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links

What does it look like to serve our families with a joyful spirit?

I started this blog 2 years ago, and titled it “Serving Joyfully” because that is the longing of my heart. I believe the Lord called me to be a keeper of the home. And I want to serve my family–not begrudgingly, but joyfully. 

I still have that desire, but I have to be honest and tell you that I haven’t mastered this just yet. Some days, things remain undone that need to be done. Some days, things are done, but with a poor attitude. I am a work in progress.

I have shared here before that I long for a simpler lifestyle. I feel a constant tension between the longing of my heart, and this modern world I am living in. I have been reading this book, Amish Values for Your FamilyIt is a fantastic book and one that I strongly recommend. I have no connection to this particular book, except that I purchased it and have really enjoyed it.

Amish Values

 

Anyway, when reading it a few nights ago, I read a particular story about laundry day for this Amish family. Everything was done by hand, and the process took hours, and was done in all different kinds of weather–the hottest of days, and the coldest of days. The author even mentioned that in some winter days the water would freeze up between loads. Overall, the process seemed like such an awful chore.

After years and years of this hard work, the district decided to allow gas-powered washing machines. The man of the house offered to buy one for Christmas.

My response would have been “Yes!” I would probably be elated, and ready to throw a party.

But not the mother in this story. She said no. Her husband reminded her that the machine would cut the job in half.

Her response: “As I wash those clothes, I use the time to pray for each one of my children. That’s not time I want cut in half.”

Wow. Just wow.

So humbling to see that response, and compare it to what I know mine would have been. And it reminded me of how far I have to go.

This woman and her response are the epitome of serving joyfully. She had an awful, inconvenient, tiresome chore. She could have dreaded it, begrudged it, and focused on the negative. She would have had a crabby attitude that would rub off on her children, her husband, and her home.

But instead, she chose to serve her family, and her God, with a joyful and loving spirit. Such an inspiration.

The words from Colossians 3:23 are always so convicting to me, And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.

The Lord is always there, and every single thing I do for my family, I should do joyfully, and heartily, as if I am doing it for Him…because I am.

Lord, I pray that you will give me a heart of love, selflessness, and service for my family. When I am in the midst of the mundane tasks of homemaking and parenting, I pray that the fruits of the Spirit would reign in my heart. I pray that I wouldn’t see chores as burdensome, but would instead have a heart of thanksgiving, and joy as I serve my family, and serve you through them. Thank you Lord for your grace and mercy that is new each morning. Amen.

Sharing my quiet time thoughts today with Good Morning Girls :)

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