Wednesday, July 13, 2011

the next 7 weeks or so...

Hi, everyone! Just letting you know that Steve and I have just embarked on 7 weeks of long-service leave as a family, and, as I anticipated earlier this year, I won't be blogging during this time.

This is a wonderful opportunity for us, as Steve has been working hard in full-time ministry for 12 years now - and I've been working hard alongside him, as I support his ministry and help raise 4 kids. The last few months, as you might have guessed from some things I've said, have been very busy for me, as I've worked during Steve's weeks off. So this will be a chance to spend restful time together.

Then it's back to everyday life, blogging (yes, I will go on with those series - I'm enjoying them too much to stop!), a Sunday School series on Hebrews, and some writing adventures that you'll share in, God willing. I'll tell you about them when the time comes.

So you know when I start blogging again, you might like to subscribe to in all honesty, either by email or online (or you can contact me and I'll let you know when I'm back). Not to increase my reading numbers :) - really, that doesn't matter - but because you'll get my next post in your inbox in a couple of months, and we can keep going where we left off.

God bless. I'll leave you with a verse that God used to encourage me recently:

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16)

image is by zen from flickr

Thursday, July 7, 2011

household management (4) finances

No budget can change your motivations and choices - only the gospel can do that! - but it can help you manage your spending. Here's some things that have helped me, and other things I haven't done very well, and wish I'd been aware of years ago. With thanks to Bec, Deb, Fiona, Valori and RodeoClown.

  • Keep track of your spending in a budget - but do it for a reason, not just for the sake of it. Sometimes I've found a budget to be a useful tool; at other times it's been a time-waster. Use a budget to become familiar with your spending patterns so you can plan more carefully, if money is disappearing and you can't work out where, or if it helps you tighten up your spending.

  • When you're paid, before you spend anything:
    • give money away - if they gave 10% in the Old Testament, how much more will the fullness of God's grace motivate us now!
    • pay what you owe - come up with a plan and pay back a small amount each week
    • pay regular, unavoidable expenses - housing, rates, car servicing, insurance, utility bills, and so on (I like Deb's idea of putting money for bills into a separate account the instant you get paid)
    • save - put some money in a separate savings account (you'll draw on this for house repairs or unexpected medical bills)
    Once you've done this, set aside a certain amount for household expenses (my friend puts this into a household account at the start of each week). You'll find you have two main kinds of household expenses:
    • regular expenses (grocery shopping, petrol, entertainment etc.)
    • occasional expenses (gifts, clothes, household items etc.)
    You might choose to include both types of expenses in your household account, which will mean some careful setting aside of money for occasional expenses; or you might take the occasional expenses (e.g. bi-yearly clothes shop or Christmas gift shopping) out of your savings so you can stay in control and see how much they're costing you. Do whichever helps you spend less.

  • Only use a credit card if you pay it off in full each month (we do, mostly, but it means careful spending). Even better, follow my mum's advice (from a more careful time): only spend money you have. And that's after she's put some in the savings account.

  • If you want to work on managing or saving money, try Simple Savings or You Need a Budget.

  • How do you manage your money? Share your ideas here.

    I'm aware I've only scratched the surface when it comes to money and budgeting, and I'm no expert. Check out the comments here for more ideas. To read about my struggles with over-spending, see these posts.

    Follow this series here.

    image is by Aunty Cookie (very appropriate!) from flickr

    Tuesday, July 5, 2011

    5 books that changed who I am (1) childhood and teens - getting to know God

    Nic tagged me for this meme. Lovely! But how do I cut it down to 5? As I look back over life's seasons, it seems to me that God shaped me in at least one significant way during each season, and that he used one book (or group of books) to do it.

    Here they are - plus the one book that's changed me all along the way. (I'm going to cheat a little and post these one at a time, starting with childhood.)

    1. childhood and teens - getting to know God
    I was brought up on CS Lewis, and read his books over and over - fantasy, mythology, autobiography, Christian living, theology - but most of all, as a child, The Chronicles of Narnia. CS Lewis taught me to love and live for God, delight in creation, long for heaven, lose myself in reading and writing - and so many other things! When an idea pops into my head, a CS Lewis quote is never far away.

    Runner ups: JRR Tolkien Lord of the Rings, Patricia St John Treasures of the Snow (and everything else she wrote), plus books by Isobel Kuhn, Peter Marshall, Sallie Lee Bell, and others. Writing this is reminding me to encourage my kids to read more Christian books...

    What were the books that changed you as a child or teenager? Tell us here.

    Friday, July 1, 2011

    family catch-up: Andy

    When you're the youngest,you view life from a place of protection -although we can't protect you from everything.You're surrounded by people who love you,watch over you,play with you,teach you,take you by the hand,and show you the world.It's not always easy to keep up.You're used to being the centre of attention,and, perhaps, to getting your own way.But one day, it's time to break out on your own,try new things,grow a little older,and swim in a bigger sea.We're right behind you.