Archive | January, 2012

Screaming Babies & Praying Mommas

by contributing writer Ann Dunagan of Harvest Ministry.

Finding God’s balance for motherhood and ministry is sometimes a difficult (and continually changing) tug-of-war; but I believe the struggle is healthy. As a homeschooling mother of seven, I place a high priority on God’s calling to care for our own children; however, I also feel a call of God’s heart for the needs of world missions. Multitudes across the globe desperately need God’s salvation and millions of orphan children are in need.

God cares about my kids and God cares about the lost. As a mission-minded mom, how can I keep these two “pulls “on my heart in balance — in a way that will truly please the heart of the Lord?

Most of the time, just doing another load of laundry, or drilling the kids on grammar, or reading a bedtime story . . . doesn’t seem very important. But God sees the big picture. He highly esteems motherhood and He values a faithful mom who is willing to lay down her “big dreams” . . . to serve her family.

At the same time, He sees the lost and the reality of heaven and hell. The blood of Jesus is the only way of salvation and the “unreached” must hear the gospel. Over 1.6 Billion people are still waiting to hear of the cross. According to UNICEF, there’s a minimum of 143,000,000 orphans in the world and many of these children are in desperate need. Unsaved people. Unborn babies. And so many real-life needs.

How can we balance this two-sided pull?


“Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer, and get first of all into harmony with Him.”

―Hudson Taylor, Missionary to China


The “healthy” motherhood & missions tug-of-war

If you’re a mission-minded mother (a Christian mom with a heart for others), I’m sure you’ve felt this tug-of-war between motherhood and ministry. Our children need to know that we love them; but they also need to know that we have a heart for others. Our kids need to know that we care about their needs, but they also need to know that they’re not the center of the universe, and that others have needs too. Finding the balance can be a struggle; but I believe the process of finding God’s daily divine balance is a healthy evaluation process, both for ourselves and for our family.

We all face this struggle . . .

Perhaps the phone rings, and your friend begins pouring our her heart about a desperate situation. Maybe a fragile marriage is falling apart, or someone at church was just rushed to the hospital. These needs are real, and often urgent. How do we find the right “combo” for each day, and each season of our lives? How do we balance these pressing needs with the ongoing “everyday” needs of our own family?

This personal testimony of “The Praying Mommas and the Screaming Babies” is from one of our Africa mission trips years ago. The story has continually reminded me to seek the Lord’s divine calling for each day. I have found that the key to finding God’s balance is to stay in communication with God through prayer; however, He sees the full picture of both motherhood and ministry.

God sees the world’s needs, and He also sees the needs of our children. He can help us to see both in His divine daily balance, and God can speak to us . . . as a mom.

The Praying Mommas and the Screaming Babies

About five thousand women gathered for a week of ministry, teaching, and worship. The accommodations for our East African village conference were humble. Bamboo awnings covered with tarps provided shade from the hot sun, and most of the women simply brought straw mats for sleeping. Many women also brought little children and nursing babies, whom they cared for as they listened to the sessions.

One morning, I got up and took an early morning prayer-walk, and I was blessed (and challenged) to see hundreds of women gathered for a time of fervent prayer.

As I walked quietly behind the group, I noticed a few women who were praying very hard and loud, but then I noticed that these women were totally oblivious to the needs of their little babies–sitting with bare bottoms in wet little puddles in the dirt, screaming at the top of their lungs. As I watched for a few moments, I wondered what God thought about their fervent prayers. One by one I picked up the babies and tried to help them stop crying, handing each one to his or her momma.

Later that day I shared with the women about the importance of balancing our ministry with our family priorities. Yet I was also challenge on a personal level.

How many times does God see my own out-of-balance efforts, like when I’m at work on the computer or busy with a mission project–and my little kids are plopped down in front of one-too-many videos?

I want God to hear my prayers, and I want my efforts to be actions of obedience. I need to keep balanced; but it’s not a one-time solution. Every day, we need to come to God to allow Him to tune each string of our instrument. Each heart-string needs to be stretched to just the perfect sound . . . that will be pleasing to the heart of God.

Let’s pick up our babies and love them.

And together with our kids-in-tow, let’s get a family-vision for world missions!!!

“Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established.”

–Proverbs 4:26

Comments { 41 }

The Heavenly Work Before Me

There have been repeated times in the past few years where I have struggled with the “what if’s” of my past. What if I had continued to pursue a college degree and not gotten married so early? What if we had waited longer to have children? What if I pursued an active career? I see other couples waiting five years to have children and feel a bit of discontentment creep up in my heart because I wonder what it would have been like to have such freedom. I’ll be honest and confess that it has been a great struggle in my heart. This job of motherhood is so hard. It’s hard to get up and care for little ones when I am lacking serious sleep. It’s hard to train them with grace and patience. It’s hard to embrace their neediness with joy.

The Lord has been gently working on my heart as I am currently mediating through Ephesians 5:15-17, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

What does God have for you? I’ve found that what God desires me to embrace is often right in front of me. It’s not way out there. It’s these little hands and feet He has called me to nurture. It’s this strong man that He has called me to support, cheer on, and follow. The will of the Lord is for me is to delight in, to embrace where He has me right now. When I doubt that, I am walking foolishly. I’m mocking his plan. He has called me to be a wife, mother, and homemaker. It may not have come in my own timing, but it certainly has been His timing (Proverbs 16:9).

THIS, right HERE…is what God has assigned for me. The fullness of my womanhood is experienced in embracing these tasks with intentionality. We truly only have one life to live, it will soon be past. Only what is done for Christ will last. To walk any other way is to walk blindly, foolishly.

I’ve experienced such fear, doubt, and lack of value because I’ve focused on what this culture exalts, rather than what God truly values. What did Jesus embrace? Jesus welcome the little children (Luke 18:16). He chose the humble, the weak, and gave them beauty and value (even when his culture looked down upon them and tried to send them away).

THIS WORK…this is heavenly work. He said they were what the Kingdom was made up of. He embraced the weak…not the intelligent, educated, and religious people. Jesus said to love the little children is valuable. It is beautiful. It is His work. Even with all it’s messes and challenges. He never promised it would be easy, but He did promise that this is the work of the Kingdom, and what we do to the least of these, we do for Him (Matthew 25:40). If this is the season He has called you to, then being faithful where you are is the best use of your time.

What you do sisters in your homes has beauty and value. It was what Jesus exalted. Don’t waste another moment thinking about the past, or what you’ve given up. It’s a waste of the precious moment you have in front of you.

Comments { 115 }

Listen to the Quiet :: A Daily Pause for Moms {part 2}

Written by contributing writer, Daniele Evans at Domestic Serenity.

So we’ve talked about just why rest is important and what true rest includes.  A time for reflection and for leisure, this daily rhythm of separating morning work from evening work by a 15 to 30 minute pause is quite beneficial to our days.

I didn’t always practice this.  Like several commenters in the first post, I felt slightly guilty.  But, I was approaching it all the wrong way.  Instead of thinking ‘I deserve this’, my mentality shifted to ‘God created rest for me and wants me to enjoy it’.  The truth of that statement led me to further study God’s example and commands to pause and rest in regular intervals.

The result was a fresh appreciation for God’s design and a new desire to honor His ways instead of my own.  A daily pause is one way to stop the work, reflect upon God’s goodness and refuel a little.

Here are a few tips I’ve found helpful:


Remember the first step is to believe this pause is a priority!

Assign a time to your rest :: this doesn’t need to be exact, unless it’s helpful to you, but even to the hour such as ‘sometime between 3-4 p.m.’

Decide if anything needs to be adjusted :: what will the children be doing?  are there other chores usually done now that should be moved to morning or evening? Figure out potential hindrances and work at adjusting the routine in order to pause.

A note about children:  I’ve found following the lead of the youngest child’s needs helpful.  Whether you follow a consistent schedule or a more open routine, babies and toddlers usually have some pattern of napping in the afternoons.  Arrange for other children to enjoy quiet time or a nap themselves while you pause for 15-30 minutes.

Note from Lindsay: With three little ones you may agree that it can be challenging to get them all to nap together. But I can testify that with a little work, it is possible. My two older ones nap/rest between 1-3pm each day (anywhere from 1.5-2 hrs). To get my infant to rest during the same period, I shorten her morning nap and waken her by 11:30am (which adjusts as she grows), so that she has a sufficient awake period before she gets tired again when the older two go to sleep. During the transition period from two to one nap, I try to stretch the baby and endure a little extra fussiness to be able to put them down again together. It’s worth it. Sometimes this might include putting the older ones down 30 minutes earlier. Every day is a bit different, sometimes this rest period is shorter or longer, but overall it is worth the effort when your house is full of little ones. My mom always encouraged me to keep a good nap routine as long as possible (I remember my siblings napping till they were 6 years old!).

Designate a space :: find a spot in your home (or outdoors!) that feels restful; I like going to the same place each day — the couch or kitchen table.  Resist the temptation to clean while you’re there!  Also gather all you’ll need to enjoy:  a pen, journal or other paper, book you’re reading, knitting or other handwork, etc.  Place these in a basket or container and have them ready so time is not wasted searching.

Remove distractions ::  say no to the phone, voicemail, email, social media, etc.


Decide on a treat :: a cup of tea or coffee, a sweet…something that feels like a treat to you!  Or maybe resting in itself is the treat?

Light a candle or play relaxing music :: okay, this is not a necessity but simply a way to separate these moments from the rest of the day.  I’ve also found it helpful for my children to know when Mommy’s time is up — when the candle is blown out!  No music handy?  Try David Nevue’s station on Pandora.

Reflect on the morning :: for a few minutes, celebrate 2-3 things that went well; I’d encourage writing these down in a journal or notebook.

Rest!  Either physically by taking a power nap or by enjoying a leisure activity.  You might want to set a timer, most of us can’t take the whole afternoon!

Need some resources for keeping your kids busy during a quiet rest time?

- Check out these quiet time bins (with great ideas for keeping your kiddos playing quietly in their own space after they have transitioned out of taking naps)
- More ideas for quiet time bins
- Invest in a CD player with headphones and allow them to listen to books on tape (many great classic books can be borrowed from your local library for your children’s enjoyment)

So, what you do think — possible?  Feel free to add other ideas or thoughts.

I bless you with restful, rejuvenating daily pauses!

photo credit

Comments { 13 }

How to Wash All Your Laundry in One Day

Yes, it’s crazy. But why not be gutsy and give it a try with me?

With this method, you can get all your laundry out of the way for the entire week. You won’t have to think about it again. It will be folded all at once saving you plenty of time and energy. And your little ones can join in the fun and learn some life skills at the same time.

Things you will need:
A timer (a basic kitchen timer will do or set up a reminder/alarm on your phone)
7 + pairs of clothes for each person in your family (to last a week between washings. We have 7-8 outfits per person with a few extra for the kids for those messes that always come!)
Several sturdy laundry baskets (different colored baskets is nice for sorting for each child or bedroom)
A fun family movie to watch while you fold the laundry together
And the willingness to move quickly

Start first thing on the desired day of chose. I personally prefer Monday morning as it helps give a nice jump into my week. After I am dressed and ready for the day, I get to the laundry room. Begin by hauling all your laundry to your laundry room and sort by colors. Whites (simplify by including white sheets and towels) coloreds, darks (to this jean load I add dark towels) towels (separating bath towels, kitchen towels, and cleaning clothes). I also have a load of cloth diapers. Begin your first load.

This is key: Set your timer for 1 hour. (the Reminders app on the iPhone/touch device works very nice because you can easily change the time with the same reminder throughout the day, but any timer will do).

Continue with your regularly scheduled program.

When your timer goes off, immediately transfer your load into the dryer and add the next load into the wash. Hang any delicate clothes to dry as needed (we hang all my husband and my shirts and dresses and our cloth diapers). Dry clean only clothes can easily be washed in a delicate cycle and then hung to dry.

Include your kiddos in the process. They love transferring clothes from washer to dryer, and sorting clothes teaches them colors and patterns. Plus they are learning basic life skills!

Repeat your timer for 1 hr.

Continue this cycle until all your clothes have made their way through the system. In this manner you can wash upwards of 10 loads a day. I currently wash 6-8 loads every Monday for our family of five.

Lastly, at the end of your day you will have a huge mound of wonderfully clean laundry! Don’t get overwhelmed. Embrace it. It means you are warm and well clothed and God is supplying all your needs.

Have fun with your folding load by snuggling up as a family and watching a fun family movie together (we are currently enjoying Little House on the Prairie). Include everyone in the folding process. Even the little ones can fold towels and help sort into the individual colored baskets. Having a colored basket for each person or room can make the restocking drawers/closets process much easier.

Once clothes are folded and sorted, deliver them to their destinations. You may wish to unload the next morning as we often do. Don’t worry about ironing. That can wait till the next day. If you have a husband like mine, he would appreciate it ironed and hung in a timely fashion. It is just one way to show him I love him without a word.

That is our basic process of washing all our laundry in one day! It leaves us with a clean laundry room for 5-6 days out of the week and our clothes are clean and we don’t have to worry about staying on top of laundry all week long. Just one little way to simplify my life.

It’s really not so crazy after all…do you think? I’ve been following this method since we were married and it continues to work with 3 busy kiddos! A precious moment saved to be used to invest in something more important.

And don’t worry…if it doesn’t work for you, then don’t stress. There is grace for your laundry pile! It will surely get done when it is needed.

Note: We do prefer to hang out all our laundry when possible to conserve electricity, but that is really only doable in the summer months here as it rains throughout the rest of the year. ;) We also usually wash a second load of cloth diapers sometime later in the week for our baby.

Comments { 134 }

The Journey to Becoming Radically Thankful

My kids and I recently discovered a sweet story at our library titled Sweet Beauties by Elvira Woodruff. It is the story of a young girl named Darcy in Ireland in 1845 during a severe famine. She notices the beauty of a spider web dipped in dew across her milk pail and the towering castles formed in the clouds. She stores up little treasures she finds in nature in the hem of her dress, from pebbles to dried flowers. Despite the loss of their potato crops, their home, and their eventual immigration to America, she is the one who continues to treasure the gifts around her and bring hope to her family.

I began a journey nearly 14 months ago to become a radically thankful woman (thanks to the inspiring read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp). In this process, I have recorded over 900 sweet and precious gifts that I have seen in the everyday mundane moments of life. I have witnessed a merciful God display His glory through the simple beauties around me. There have certainly been times when I didn’t feel like recording my gifts. There were many a night when I struggled to sleep, was crying out for mercy, and the Lord gently reminded me to count my blessings. I opened up my list and began again. There have been many a day when everything seemed to fall apart, and yet there was still grace on display to be observed.

I have observed the treasures of…

…the joyful giggles from my little girl

…the ability to dream

…taking a nap in the sunshine

…my daughter’s sweet attempts of catching snowflakes on tongue

…the warmth of a down comforter on cold winter nights

…the blue dawn to awaken my body in the morning

…Daddy snuggling up with little ones reading stories

…The ability to extend nourishment to my child at my chest

…Seeds lying dormant beneath my feet preparing to sprout in a few short months

In the progress of this journey, my heart has been radically changed. I have been less susceptible to discouragement and depression. I am less inclined to a spirit of negativity, which is my destructive pessimistic self. I am enjoying life at a whole new level. I am seeing how precious and sweet this life is. There are gifts to be discovered in this adventure, even amid the trial and pain.

Being a loving mother can be such a challenge, but when I stop and pray for eyes to see the treasures, I will be able to dig deep in God’s goodness, and see the cute dimple on my baby’s cheek even amidst the late night feedings. I can see the sincere blue eyes and gentle reminder “It’s okay, Mommy”, from my daughter’s lips even when I am crying in frustration at my failure. I become more free to throw out the to-do list and romp around with my little ones and treasure the moment.

Being a supportive cheerful wife can be one of the most difficult pursuits especially when you may think he has made a stupid decision or he has thoughtlessly forgotten your request or overlooked your need. But when I stop and pray for grace to see, I see a faithful man who diligently provides for all our needs. I see a man that will love me to the day I die. I see a man who willingly romps around with the kids playing dinosaur, dragons, and hide & seek even after a long day of work.

This journey has been hard…but so good. It has been a gift of grace in my life. It has been a gentle reminder that I have only one life to live. I want to make every moment count for eternity. It has caused me to slow down, to observe, to express my thanks, and to see the joy of the Lord abound in my heart.

I cannot stop. I am a work in progress. I still have my days. Today, I am losing my voice due to a cold, my miserable attempt at a craft project with the kids ended in disaster, my little man (who was potty trained 7 months ago) continues to have frequent pee-pee accidents when he gets distracted or excited leaving me beyond frustrated. But when I stop, rest, reflect, and observe, I see the gift of the blessing of staying home to nurture my little ones, healthy food to nourish our bodies, a daddy close by to help in a disaster, and three little munchkins who never cease to make me laugh.

This year my goal is to record 1,000 gifts over the duration of this year on top of my 900+ list. I want to have a record of 2,000 gifts by the close of 2012. Care to join me on the journey? Ready to find true joy among the mundane? I find it works best to record my gifts every morning during my devotions as I reflect upon the previous day. You may prefer buying multiple little journals and scattering them around your house to record the moments.

Check out A Holy Experience every Wednesday where Ann shares her gifts and you can link up with yours too!

Oh that we might be like Darcy, the little Irish girl, who observed the sweet beauties…to be able to stop and think about the gifts that surround us even when life gets difficult. Would you care to join me? Ready to have your mindset transformed?

I love how the Message translation puts Ephesians 5:4, “Let no crude language or foolish joking be on your lips. Christians have better use of language. Thanksgiving is our dialect.”

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High. It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening” (Psalms 92:1-2).

“Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord, it is fitting for the pure to praise him” (Psalms 33:1).

Photo credit

Comments { 32 }

Listen to the Quiet :: A Daily Pause for Moms

Written by contributing writer, Daniele Evans from Domestic Serenity.

Alright, I know what you’re thinking.  Maybe you’re even laughing.  Listen to the…quiet?

And you’re wondering just where this post is going.  We could probably agree that a daily spa moment of sorts is helpful to our well-being.  But just how to make this happen may seem a mystery.

So, hear me out and offer your thoughts as well?

I know Mama.  I know.  A household full of little ones, homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, ministry, training, teaching, being a wife, a friend, a sister — where in the world does a daily pause fit in!?

May I suggest today that it naturally doesn’t?  At least not all on its own.  This time will not just happen…it must be created.


First, we must embrace the necessity of pause, of rest.  Rest is not man’s idea, it’s God’s.  Man takes it farther than ever intended and makes it laziness, but true rest was designed and demonstrated by a loving God from the beginning.  He knew just what people, Moms like you and me would need.

Rest honors God’s way and design; we give glory to Him when we follow His command to rest.



True rest includes pausing to reflect upon our work.  For we were also created for purpose-driven Christ-honoring work, yet not without pause.  Stepping back before moving on is simply wise.  It’s not waiting until we’re completely exhausted and burnt out, then finally collapsing.  God’s example in Creation offers a daily rhythm of reflection to think upon and consider our work — to name what is good.

We Moms have trouble with this, at least I do.  I lean more towards thinking on all that still needs doing instead of celebrating what has been accomplished.  But still, we should think on what is lovely, excellent and praise-worthy :: yes, this includes our work!

Because the nature is reflection, a midday or late afternoon break is what I’m suggesting.  A short time of 15 to 30 minutes to separate morning work from evening work, to refuel a little before going on.

Now, no need to cancel vacation plans, a visit with a friend, or digging into a good book.  Rest can and should also include leisure; engaging in pleasurable activities or interests provides refreshment as well.  Jesus often took his disciples away and on one occasion fixed breakfast on the beach for them — sounds nice and leisurely to me!


What if you did just that?  Created a space and time for moments of daily pause, of quiet?  With the purpose of reflection upon your work, and for a bit of leisure as well.  But, let’s be very real.  Many of us are in a season of fullness, of numerous responsibilities.  Just how do we accomplish such a task?

I’m sounding like a broken record, but the first step is believing that you should.  Then quickly following up with believing that there is a way, that it is possible.  Before we get to the nitty gritty and some suggestions (that’s an upcoming post!), may I encourage your heart?  Too often, we jump on a band-wagon thinking…

“Yeah, this is just what I need!!  Tomorrow, right now, I’ll start this daily pause thing! WHOOP!, Whoop, whoop….fizzle, fizzle.  Oh, well.  I guess that just didn’t work for me.”

End of story.  That’s living intensely, not intentionally.

Maybe you’re ready to start now, by all means…move forward!  But, maybe you just need to take a baby step, to consider just how this all might work.  To prepare and plan for making room.

Begin with prayer.  Asking God to convince your heart of this need.  Stretching your faith muscles to believe it can happen.

Take an inventory of your days.  Nothing fancy, just be more aware of how things flow, thinking about when and where a pause would most benefit your schedule and routine.

In the comments, feel free to offer thoughts :: do you see a need for this in your days?  what would you view being a hindrance to taking time for a daily pause — where could you use suggestions or help?  

We’ll seek to answer or address questions in the next post.  I absolutely do not have all of the answers!  But, I’m convinced we can learn and grow together in this community.

To God be all glory….

Comments { 24 }

Paula’s Bread: NutriMill Grain Grinder Giveaway!

Today we are excited to offer a fantastic giveaway from Paula’s Bread, our longtime sponsor and supplier of wonderful kitchen equipment. Paula would like to offer a NutriMill Grain Grinder to one special reader! This grain mill is valued at $269.99 and is a wonderful tool for your natural kitchen.

Paula’s Bread is a sweet family operated business offering a wealth of natural kitchen supplies to equip you for making your own homemade goodies. They have been a longterm distributor of the Bosch Universal Mixer and NutriMill grain grinders which are powerful reliable tools for any whole foods kitchen.

Paula shares, “It has been my passion to help the harried cook feed their family nutritionally while not overtaxing the cook. The kitchen products I carry are kitchen tools I personally use to help/enhance getting the finished food product done. I love helping others make great bread, saving the cook time and saving family’s money with all the wonderful things they can do to stretch their budget with a simple batch of bread.

I have owned a NutriMill for nearly 6 years now and it has served me faithfully in grinding all my grains into fresh whole grain flours to make our own baked goods.

It has a very trim design and is not huge and awkward making it easy to store on my kitchen counter tucked in the corner for easy access. It produces fresh flour very quickly providing me with a nice batch of flour in a matter of minutes. It actually stays relatively clean while grinding flour and does not have a huge off spray, thus providing easy clean up. Its works very well for grinding fresh flours for all your baking needs. It has a twenty cup bowl capacity, so you can prepare a lot of flour at once or any smaller amounts as well. The Nutrimill keeps your flour at temperatures (typically around 118 degrees) that protect the nutrients in your grains. Its new airflow design makes it the world’s coolest-running impact mill. It has a lifetime warranty including the stainless steel blades.

For my complete review of the NutriMill, visit here.


1. Visit Paula’s Bread and check out their line of products. In the comments below, share your favorite product that they offer and how you would use the NutriMill if you were to win this product.

2. For an optional second entry, sign up for the Paula’s Bread newsletter (located on the lower right hand portion of the side bar) and let us know in a second comment below.

Giveaway Closed.

AND THE WINNER IS…Therese – Artistta!!! Congrats!

Check out Paula’s Bread on facebook to stay informed on future sales and updates!

Paula’s Bread is offering a special discount of $5 off any order of $25 or more with a stainless steel purchase. Enter “Stainless Steel” at checkout. Expires 1/31/12.

Giveaway limited to US participants only.
Winner will be randomly selected and contacted on the Wednesday following the completion of the giveaway. The end of this post will be updated to announce the winners.
Email subscribers: You must click through to the original post on Passionate Homemaking to be entered into this giveaway.
No purchase necessary.

Comments are closed

Simplifying by Buying Groceries Online

Did you know that it is possible to do the majority of your grocery shopping online these days?

This has certainly be a huge blessing lately while trying to juggle three kiddos and the various responsibilities I have within our home. I have been investigating different options lately in an effort to use my time most productively. Honestly, it is pretty tiring for me to haul all the kiddos to the store. Buying groceries online saves my energy and is a simple way to protect against unnecessary stress.

Additionally, it’s far to easy to buy items that aren’t necessarily on my grocery list when I get in that environment (oh, wouldn’t the kids love trying this? Ahh…coconut milk yogurt, yum!). Surprisingly enough, shopping online has been saving me money!

It has been two year now since I shared my initial real food budget and what food purchases we make at our home. It has certainly changed and been tweaked over this period. With food prices continuing to rise, we have had to adjust and re-evaluate as necessary. I used to shop primarily at our local Trader Joe’s but have become more and more dissatisfied by the lack of freshness and packaged nature of their produce. I also found I had to make multiple stops to get everything I needed because TJ’s doesn’t have that large of selection.

Currently, our food budget is $500-$525 per month and these are the majority of the purchases we make. 

I am finding myself using the Subscribe & Save feature on Amazon more frequently for finding huge savings on many food items in their Natural & Organic Grocery section. Their selection is growing each time I look. Most of the items are more bulk purchases, but they are non-perishable items, which makes it very possible to spread out their use over a 2-3 month period. With the subscription option, you save an additional 15% and have scheduled deliveries every 1-6 months as you desire. We have prime membership which provides wonderful quick free delivery (even without prime, most items are also available for free shipping if you spend over $25). In this manner, I don’t have to think about it and there is still flexibility to change as you need. You can also cancel at any time. I love food being delivered to my door!

We purchase the following via subscriptions. I have compared them extensively with my other food sources and found Amazon’s prices to be the best: Organic peanut butter, organic raisins, organic coconut milk, vanilla extract, organic coconut oil, maple syrup, gluten-free honey rice cereal (our Sunday morning breakfast), chicken broth (I prefer making my own chicken broth, but I also forget to pull it out of the freezer a lot, so I like having small portions of chicken broth on hand for easy access), toilet paper (yes, you can even save on the basics!), charlie’s laundry soap, mac & cheese (I like having Annie’s on hand for an easy lunch). Amazon also has a growing selection of quality dry goods, including beans and grains.

Safeway Delivery

I am starting to order many random food items (that are not available through my other sources) via Safeway delivery lately. Our budget is $100 per month. The time it saves is worth the slightly increased price. You can save on shipping simply by being flexible as to delivery time or they often offer free shipping if you purchase a certain number of items from their specials list or on orders over $150. I pay no more than $6.95 for delivery in our area. I try to purchase most of my produce organically, and use the Dirty Dozen as my guide. In the summer, I love to use Organics to You for fresh local produce delivered to our door.

Here are the items I purchase through these sources: Organic Milk for making yogurt (1/2 gallon twice a month), lunchmeat, pepperoni, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, fresh organic produce (bananas, oranges, salad mixes, etc), various other food needs not available through other sources.

Azure Standard 

I appreciate Azure Standard and the bulk natural foods that they offer. We spend about $100 per month through Azure. They deliver to drop spots all over the Northwest and moving more into the Midwest of the US. I buy the following: Brown rice pasta, natural soaps and shampoos, organic crackers, mayonnaise, organic produce, tortillas, raw cheddar cheese, sour cream, soy sauce, olive oil, vinegars, raw honey, spices, condiments, sucanat, oats (other bulk grains and beans), canned wild salmon, tomato soup.

In addition to these purchases, I buy local raw milk & eggs  (1 gallon per week, 2 dozen per week – $68 per month), and we also set aside $100 per month for bulk meat and fruit purchases throughout the year to stock the freezer. We buy 1/4 cow, 1 pig, and about 40 lbs of chicken breasts annually. We buy a dozen loaves of sprouted wheat bread from Dave’s Killer Bread/Healthy Bread Store warehouse (they offer a frozen dozen of sprouted bread for $25). We consume this amount of bread in about 2 months. I continue to make my own jam, salsa, kefir, yogurt, and various pastries as we desire. That’s pretty much it…

Other excellent food delivery sources:

Beyond Organic (this online store has recently been launched birthed out of Jordan Rubin’s book)

U.S. Wellness Meats (find quality grass fed products)

Vitacost (this is another growing option that has a great selection of real foods, vitamins, herbs, and more at deep discounts! I found Eden Organics, Nutivia, Bob’s Red Mill and many other quality brands available here. Many of their products are very comparable to Amazon and Azure Standard too. I just made an order because they sell cod liver oil and other good supplements.) Refer a friend and you both get $10. A fun way to save!

Be sure to search google for specific grocery delivery companies in your area!

Found any good natural food deals lately? Please share!

Note: There are affiliate links in this post for Amazon, so we receive a small percentage of any purchases made through these links. Through your support, we are able to sponsor an orphan home in India.

Comments { 103 }

My Personal Goals for 2012

As we begin a new year, I love mapping out some purposeful goals for myself to continue to grow in my faith, keeping a simple lifestyle, and being intentional in missional living. I want to be continually examining my walk to make sure I am growing (2 Cor. 13:5) and striving “not to act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do” (Eph. 5:17). This year I have been inspired to adopt 12 intentional goals for the year. One to make habit for each month of the year. I have prayerfully written these out in my homemaking binder using the Graham Ministry Intentional Planner forms, along with our family mission statement and my personal mission statement so I can review weekly in my planning times and keep myself on track. Putting thought and prayer into selecting what the Lord would have you do will bring about beautiful fruit. Don’t try to force goals on yourself that others may have added. Submit yourself to what the Lord would have for you.

I am eager to keep my focus this year on continuing to strive to treasure the little moments, the blessings of each and every day. I don’t want to get caught up in doing so many things, that I miss out on the gifts of my little ones. I want to make our home a gift of grace for others through our hospitality. By God’s grace, my prayer is that I “shall not fall into the falsehood that this day, or any day, is merely another ambiguous and plodding twenty-four hours, but rather a unique event filled, if I so wish, with worthy potentialities. I shall not be fool enough to suppose that trouble and pain are wholly evil parentheses in my existence but just as likely ladders to be climbed toward moral and spiritual womanhood.” (thanks to 10 Steps to Stay Alive to the Beauty of God’s World) And as the article continues later on, “I shall not allow the devilish onrush of this century to usurp all my energies but will instead, as Charles Williams suggested, ‘fulfill the moment as the moment.’ I shall try to live well just now because the only time that exists is just now.”

My theme this year I feel is pursuing GRACE in my daily interactions with my children. I find I am so easily succumbed to anger and frustration at their many needs, questions, and demands. I want to be able to stop what I’m doing and meet them with love and graciousness. I’m embracing Proverbs 31:26 as my verse for this year, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”

1. Read 12 books (one per month)
2. Start my day by getting dressed
3. Take a daily 30 minute pause/rest each midday to simply read or nap as needed
4. Re-establish weekly planning retreat (have gotten out of this routine a bit due to my husband’s crazy work routine – but as we enter a new season, I think it will work to get back on track!)
5. Record a daily highlight, blessing, or memory from each day in my Mom’s One Line a Day journal (to treasure God’s goodness, my children’s progress and humor, and all the other little blessings since I am so prone to forget!)
6. Continue recording 1000 gifts and beyond! (This exercise has certainly been life-changing! I can’t stop! I want to make thanksgiving my dialect! I’m joining the Joy Dare to record 1,000 gifts in 2012! I’ve completed my first 900 over the past 14 months, so I’m going for 2,000 gifts by the end of 2012.)
7. Find a workable exercise routine for this season
8. Convert all my crockpot recipes to freezer meal adaptions (to simplify my meal preparations!)
9. Work on seasoning my speech with more kindness toward my children
10. Plan one way to bless, serve, or encourage my husband on a weekly basis
11. Plan a monthly outreach opportunity for our family
(to our community, at Elderly home, or local public school)
12. Begin reading more classics to further my education and improve my vocabulary and writing. Join classics book study group for accountability. Want to always be pursuing the joys and delights of learning!

In all our goal making, let’s embrace this simple reminder: (thanks to the lovely ladies at GirlTalk for the following encouragement)

In her book, Keep A Quiet Heart, Elisabeth Elliot encourages us to focus on the most important of New Year’s hopes:

“Will the young woman find a mate? Will the couple have a child? Maybe this year will be the year of desire fulfilled. Perhaps, on the other hand, it will be the year of desire radically transformed, the year of finding, as we have perhaps not yet truly found, Christ to be the All-Sufficient One, Christ the ‘deep sweet well of Love’” (page 49, emphasis mine).

This year, let us ask God to dissolve all our hopes (however good they may be!) into a single hope: to know Christ and to be found in Him. May this be a year of desire radically transformed, a deeper, truer, knowing of Christ as our All-Sufficient One.

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:7-8a).

And may we remember that the only guarantee of lasting change in our lives is through the power and grace of our Savior. We can strive in our own strength to make the goal, but without God’s empowering grace we will never succeed. Let’s make sure to embrace His gracious work that was accomplished on the cross and walk in that beauty day by day as we seek to be transformed into His likeness.

For help with your own personal goal making, check out Simple Mom’s helpful list of questions.

Comments { 39 }

Stepping Forth in Faith in a New Year

Within a three week period we decided it was time for my husband, Aaron, to quit his job and begin a whole new business venture. It has been ruminating in our hearts for several months now. My husband has been working tirelessly. There is so many initial fears that resonated in my heart. I like the security of a regular paycheck. I am comfortable. I like paid vacations and health benefits. We have lived the self-employed lifestyle previously and its hard work. I wasn’t ready to step out again. I had my five year plan in place. But God is graciously reminding me that he doesn’t work in my timetable.

I have been mediating on the life of Rebekah from Genesis 24 lately. Abraham’s servant has been sent to his hometown to find a wife for his son, Isaac. Abraham’s servant asks this young lady to come with him to marry Isaac. Rebekah simply says, “I will go.” In a moment, she was willing to say farewell to all that she had ever known. She knew that potentially she would never she her family and home country again. She was willing to marry a man that she had never met. That is amazing faith. I want that faith. To be so at rest in my Father’s arms that I could willingly walk the unknown path before me.

I don’t know what lies behind the next corner of our lives as we let go of my husband’s job and walk by faith and not by sight. We simply don’t know what it will look like this year. The only thing we can do is strive to be faithful in the knowledge that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Am I willing to take a leap of faith into this unknown? For it is in the unknown that fellowship with my Lord is sweetest. It is in the unknown that God’s mercy is most beautifully manifested. It is in the unknown that our faith is refined and comes forth shining more brightly. Am I willing to simply say with Rebekah, “yes, I will go?” Am I willing to follow my man, to faithfully stand by his side, as I committed to at the altar nearly six years ago?

We can be confident in one thing. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He holds me by the hand and walks before me. I am not alone.

I am excited about the new adventures that life brings with it as we set forth in this new year. We will certainly be living more frugally until his new business gets off the ground. Our budget is being trimmed down significantly. I love how God seeks to stretch our faith and get us out of our comfort zone so we can see His beautiful majesty in a whole new light.

Life is full of new adventures saturated with God’s gifts to be observed and recorded and if I stayed in my comfort zone I surely would not be able to experience them.

In addition to it all, during these past few weeks, I have honestly been really struggling and wrestling with the future of this blog. At the start of a new year I want to get all my ducks in a row, have a wonderful inspiring plan for my writing. I wanted to have amazing themes for this new year. I felt pressured that I need to be this professional, organized blog. But the Lord wasn’t opening these doors. No amazing creative ideas. Was this a sign that this season of blogging was coming to an end? I was willing if God wanted to close these doors. But then I felt the Lord speaking to be gently: “Lindsay, I just want you to be faithful in sharing your messy self with these women. I just want you to share My messages. I don’t want you to be about overwhelming women in all the little things they “should” be doing, but rather encouraging them to press in to know the Lord right where they are at.”

I believe in the importance of sharing my real life messes with you. I’m far from perfect. Daily I must cry out for grace and mercy to walk this rode of mothering and homemaking. I want our team of writers (many thanks to my awesome contributing writers) to be about encouraging you in your homemaking, mothering, and wife-hood. We want to see you grow to see the beauty of your work. It is a glorious task that we have been assigned. We need each other in standing strong even when our culture seeks to make us seem invaluable. But ultimately this is all about Jesus. Everything here is for Him. I want this new year to be flowing with His Spirit in everything that is shared here.

So there you have it. The dawn of a new year. You will still find practical simple living tips and healthy recipes sprinkled here and there. These are part of my day by day passions to live by our family mission to live simply in order to give generously. We’ll be sharing practical ways that you can live a generous missional life in the sphere that God has placed you. But ultimately, our writing will be Spirit led, sharing the day by day struggles to kneel humbly before our Master and offer up our hands and feet to his service.

Will you join us and step into the unknowns of God’s amazing grace for you today?

{Photo credit}

Comments { 108 }