Entrusted Recipes: Key Lime Pie Cookies

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Every so often I get a hankering for sugar cookies. Not the ones that are a bit crispy around the edges but the ones that have more butter than sugar and well...just plain melt in your mouth.
I grew up with this yummy kind of sugar cookies my entire life. Every Christmas we would make cutouts with them and decorate with gobs of frosting, and every Valentine’s Day my mom would make giant heart cookies with frosting for each family member with our name on it.

Needless to say, the cookies went very quickly and unfortunately we only got them twice a year.

Last summer as I was craving a sugar cookie (it had been 6 months without a bite!), I decided it might be fun to create a variation so I would have an excuse to make them in the summer months; thus the Key Lime Pie Cookie was born.

They are super easy to make…

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Place butter and sugar in your mixer and beat until creamy. Add in the key lime zest and mix to allow the flavor to incorporate throughout. You can use either a lime or a key lime. (I have found it is easier to juice and zest a lime rather than a small key lime.)  

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Add in your egg and beat until creamy again and then add vanilla and lime juice and mix.

I have been using pure Mexican vanilla for about 7 years now in my baking and let me just say, it makes all the difference in the world.

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Mix your flour and baking powder together and slowly add to the mixer. The dough will eventually form into a ball and will not be sticky.

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Transfer the dough and roll it out to about a half an inch. Pick any shaped cookie cutter (even the top of a round drinking glass will work) and cut them out. I chose a star because I realized I had only Christmas cookie cutout shapes and that wasn’t going to work in summertime. Since the Fourth Of July is coming up, I thought the star would be very patriotic!

Place in the oven and make sure to not overbake. Pull them out before they get any color.

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Let them cool and in the meantime it’s time for the homemade frosting! You will never want to use another can after you taste this! So easy too!

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Beat the butter and key lime zest together in the mixer. After it becomes a little fluffy, add in powdered sugar and key lime juice, alternating until you get the taste and consistency you desire. Now, I like my frosting to be a bit more tart than sweet, so I discovered that adding a bit of fresh-squeezed lemon juice as well, gave it the tart I craved.

Frost those cookies and voila, you have a key lime pie cookie! Hope you enjoy!

Click here for a printable recipe card.

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Posted on June 21, 2017 and filed under Building Your Home.

A Strong Helper: Supporting your husband when you have little ones

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I have a love-hate relationship with personality tests. I find them thoroughly fascinating, and yet, I sometimes “break” the test. I often end up with results that have me evenly split between two opposite categories! Regardless, I enjoy the process of learning how I can grow. Augustine said “Grant, Lord, that I may know myself, that I may know Thee.”

I find this true to a certain extent. We should not view God through who we are, but through the truth of his Word. However, knowing our own strengths and weaknesses can make us aware of how we might err in relating to an all-perfect Heavenly Father.

So this week, I was sitting across the table from two of my best friends, trying to maintain a train of conversation while 11 children ran around us. One of my friends had just read a personality book that received the highest recommendations from her small group leaders. They claim it has transformed the way they communicate in their marriages. We were all curious. My friends had already taken the online assessments, as well as their husbands, and were urging me to partake. After insisting I couldn’t because I need to think too much to do it in front of people (and explaining that I break these tests), they both decided to take it for me. I was intrigued how they would end up pegging me after 14 pages of quizzing. While they answered the questions, I looked at the descriptions of the 9 personalities and surmised I was one of 6 options, but certainly not 3. To my shock, both friends finished the test and received the same results. They wanted me to take it to confirm, and lo and behold… my results corroborated with theirs. I didn’t know if I felt it completely “fit”, but I had to admit that there was some conclusive evidence here.

That night I was explaining to my husband that I was a “Helper” according to the test.
“Really….” was his slightly skeptical reply. I don’t think I was supposed to notice his tone, but I did.

Ouch. My best friends thought it fit, but my husband didn’t see it. The man I am biblically-commanded to help as my life’s work thought the test had pegged me incorrectly. The old Stephanie would have cried at how much she was “failing” at a job she wanted so desperately to do well. My more mature self has learned to reflect and repent.

Why did it hurt? Because I knew exactly why he was skeptical. In these chaotic years of raising toddlers, I have found it challenging to put my husband first. What does it even look like when your babies’ needs are so pressing? When we are up turning food into humans during pregnancy, up all night with newborns, and caring for toddlers all day, it can be hard not to expect our husbands to pitch in right when they walk in the door. The other reality in our case is that I often don’t communicate to him how I try to help him. I shoulder responsibilities that I think he doesn’t want to do. Often I am right, but sometimes I am just wasting my energy. Also, I am very passionate about providing our kids with great experiences, and sometimes I drag Travis along for that vision when he just wants a nap!

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What may be even worse than neglecting my husband’s needs—and I recognize my arrogance here—I know at times I have believed my job is more important and more holy than what he does all day. Yes, we need him and the fruit of his labor, but I am spending my entire day with the purpose of directing souls toward eternity with their Maker. He is very talented and does things that make my brain hurt just hearing about them, but does it really have an eternal purpose? These are the subconscious sinful ponderings that have passed through my mind at times. Am I alone? Do any of you young mothers struggle with this?

When Travis is done with work, you bet I want him to join me in the task of raising our boys. I’m not wrong in wanting his partnership. Truly God wants us to be a team. Malachi 2:14-15 says, “Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring.”

What is wrong with my attitude is the prideful way I have sometimes believed God has called me to spend my day in a more important manner than the way God has called him to spend his hours. If Travis wasn’t working so hard, our kids would be in daycare, learning lessons from someone else, and I would be working full-time too. His work provides for my work. In addition, he is building relationships with non-Christians at his workplace that may change someone’s eternity—just as I am striving to do all day long. When he uses his gift of evangelism to witness to a stranger on an airplane, he is planting seeds. I should be his biggest cheerleader in this!

Enough of my incorrect attitudes. Let’s get to the solution! How do we put our husbands “first” in this season? Well, I don’t think it is making him a literal “first.” (For example, If your child has potty needs and your husband wants to tell you a joke about his day, there is a clear priority. Your husband can be patient and wait, or follow you to the restroom to tell you the story.) As I pray about how it should look, i can picture Jesus in Matthew 14, right after he found out John the Baptist was beheaded, and he was tracked down and ended up feeding the 5,000. He was completely spent in his flesh, but he had compassion on the crowds and served them with everything he had to give. God wants to provide us with the capacity to love our husbands well. Here are some tips on what I think it can look like in this season:

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  1. Our attitude is the first thing to get in order.  Do you pridefully believe that your work is more important than your husband’s? Ask God to change your heart so that you value what your husband does each day. Maybe he gets to sit at a desk and have adult conversations. Maybe he also has a stressful boss breathing down his neck! There are challenges he deals with that he may not even be sharing with you. Make sure you are grateful for his sacrifice. Maybe you don’t believe that particular lie, but perhaps you think you shouldn’t have to serve him because of all you do each day. Realize that pouring into your marriage will grow and bless it, and often make your husband want to serve you too!
  2. When he comes home, let him talk about his day too. Don’t bombard him every day with stories about the kids. Take turns hearing from him. If he is on a business trip, when he calls home, don’t spend the whole call talking about the struggles of your day. He may have things to share too. I have a friend that tends to space out when her husband is talking to her. Long days with the kiddos wear her out, and she has little left when they are all in bed. Perhaps they need to have some time in the morning to go over the previous day, or maybe she can give him five fully-focused minutes before she goes to bed or works on anything else. It doesn’t need to be an hour to show him that you care. Just make him a priority.
  3. Make sure his intimacy needs are met… especially before he goes away on a business trip. Occasionally there will be a time, such as after the birth of a baby, or another medical reason and your husband will need to be patient. In these times, tell him how thankful you are for his patience…. And try to be creative with how you might help him. Okay, I’m moving on now before I start blushing. :)
  4. When the kids are in bed, try to do something simple to let him know you want to serve him too. Travis loves it when I bring him a snack before we start watching a show together. It really doesn’t take a lot of effort on my part, but I am letting him know I feel he is worthy of being served. Your husband might not care about acts of service. Perhaps, he just wants you to cuddle him a little. I know there are days when little ones have hung on you and touching is the last thing you want from your man… pray for God to give you the capacity. Once in awhile I think it’s okay to ask for some space; just reassure your husband that you love him and it doesn’t reflect your feelings for him. The basic point: Serve him how it counts most for him.
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5. As I shared in a previous post, I have often served Travis in ways that cost me a lot of energy, but don’t matter as much to him. Save yourself some energy and ask what he values the most. Pray for the energy to do just that one thing each day. As your kids grow and you have more energy, add more acts of service. Until then get the most bang for your buck!

6. Make choices that reflect his preferences for the family. Does he hate going to the zoo? Go without him. Would seeing a movie with the kids really excite him? Schedule that around him. What are his favorite dinners? Make those even if they aren’t favorites for your kids. That is a minor example. Here is a bigger one: My husband really values peace and relaxing, so I try to make sure we don’t “go-go-go” too much in one weekend. I want him to have down time to relax, and not feel like his weekends were taken over by my agenda for our family. In the long-term, his desire for peace will be reflected in how we have bonded as a family. Also, when he does something fun with the kids that he may not always have the energy for, be thankful!

7. Teach your children to serve their father. (For more on this click here.) I recently had my oldest ask if he could wash his daddy’s feet. He initiated it, so I can’t take credit, but it was one of my proudest moments as his mama. His dad loved it! For younger ones, it might be as simple as getting a napkin for their dad at dinner. As soon as they are able, include them in the process! Teach them that Daddy has a place of honor in the family. Also, back him up in front of your children. You are a united front. Stand by him, and support him. (If you have any disagreements, speak to him privately.)

8. Put him first with regard to how you spend money. Do you want your kids in every activity, yet have a hard time saving money for date nights? Do you go over the top for your kids for Christmas and birthdays, but give your husband very little? This may be communicating a message to him that you don't mean to convey.

A couple nights ago we were on a family walk, and our children were running ahead of us. They are really growing up now! Travis reached over and held my hand. I have to admit it was a weird feeling at first. Usually my hands are needed by little ones, pushing a stroller, or they are patting the baby I am holding in the baby carrier. As much as I want to savor these days with my young children, I am looking forward to having more time and energy to focus on my marriage. I know that I can’t just put Travis on the back burner until then; I need a greater capacity to love now. Praise God that He always answers that prayer!

Posted on June 14, 2017 and filed under Building Your Family.

Overcoming Preschool Shyness

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Both of my boys will talk to anyone who will listen. (Sometimes they even digress into a long-winded monologue we affectionately call “taking a hostage.”) They’ve never struggled with shyness a day in their lives. But my daughter, my sweet middle child, was ultra quiet and shy as a preschooler. To her, I could relate.

I spent my entire childhood painfully engulfed in shyness that lasted even into my high school years.(Finally a job in retail that forced me to talk to customers pushed me past it, but it’s still something I can struggle with to this day!)

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Because I had a lot of empathy for my daughter, I was able to be more intentional in helping her manage her shyness, while at the same time loving her for who she is. Over the years, I’ve watched her blossom. She will probably never be the loud one in a crowd, but she’s developed a graceful confidence that I truly admire. She has been able to adapt to new situations and forge meaningful relationships with girls her age. I thought I’d share our journey and some of the things we did to help her get to this point, but of course I can’t take all (or even most...or even half!) of the credit. As with all things regarding our children, the battle and the victory is the Lord’s.

1. Be her support system

Kids who have a supportive adult at home are already at an advantage in the battle they’re facing. The fact that you’ve read this far means you are caring and concerned, and they are blessed to have you! Every hug of reassurance you give and word of encouragement you whisper is going to pay dividends down the road. Keep them coming! Be a safe place for them to be who they are, and to share their feelings. That safe harbor will be an important place for them to retreat to when they fail or succeed in this process.

2. Role Play

This was a critical key toward overcoming shyness with my preschooler. She and I would role play upcoming situations the night before to help her get practice talking to new people, introducing herself, asking a new student to play, etc.

It was eye-opening for her when I reversed the roles and played the “shy” part. First, I would have her approach me and say, “Hi, I’m Jane. Do you want to play?” And then I would look down and away without responding. She could see herself and her natural inclination in my behavior, but she could also see how that response could be received as hurtful. We would talk about how it felt to talk to someone who wouldn’t talk back. I explained that if she’s shy, she might accidentally hurt someone’s feelings. Then we would try again. She would say, “Hi, I’m Jane. Do you want to play?” And I would say, “Yes! What do you want to play?” She could immediately see which response would lead to fun and friendship. After that, we would reverse roles. She practiced being herself and responding positively while I pretended to be new friends who approached her.

Even to this day, as an 8-year-old, role playing comes in handy. The other day, I asked if she wanted to go in and pay for our Friday night pizza. She wanted to, but she was nervous. So we acted it out, just like we used to in preschool. I pretended to be the cashier while she practiced ordering and paying. When we drove up to the take-out place, she had some confidence to go along with her nerves. She successfully bought a pizza on her own and couldn’t be more proud when she walked out the door!

3. Make a video

This is just an extra little trick to go along with role playing. Sometimes it’s easier to see yourself and your behavior when you’re watching instead of practicing. So, we would film our little interactions on my iPhone every once in awhile and watch them. You could also easily act out scenarios with dolls or toys, and make your own mini movie.

4. Bribe!

Bribe is probably the wrong word. Really, it’s a reward, and I am not above this as a mom. Within reason, I think it’s a perfectly acceptable practice. After all, your boss rewarded you with money to show up to work today. In the real world, you get paid for hard work, and for a preschooler, sucking it up and talking to new people or taking on new experiences is really hard work. Looking forward to the promise of a new toy or an ice cream afterwards can help them visualize success and persevere in a situation.

5. Encourage them — they can do this!

Shyness is a choice, and so is being strong. In a loving way, we can affirm to our children that no one else gets to choose their attitudes. That is theirs alone to control. At the end of the day, we can’t force them to be brave. All we can do is patiently encourage, support them, and praise them when they have success. Remind your kids that they are strong and they can do this. Your words have a ton of power.

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6. Pray

The buck really stops here. It’s the most important thing you can do with and for your children. Before leaving for school, or before bed the night before, my daughter and I prayed together. There is so much peace for a child who knows that the weight of the world is not on their own shoulders. Yes, they are prepared. They have practiced. They are supported by their family. But when their parents can’t walk through the door with them, God can and He will. Pray his promises back to him—promises like Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” You can even insert your child’s name in the verses as you show them these truths in the Bible. This is a wonderful opportunity to teach them that He will be their strength and their shield and defender, a lesson that will give them confidence now, and for the rest of their lives.

Posted on June 7, 2017 and filed under Building Your Family.

Tips for a Successful Garage Sale-Part II

Continued...(see part I)

GET SELLING:

11. TRY MORE LUCRATIVE MARKETPLACES FIRST

There are many places besides garage sales to sell used items. If you think you can get more for an item or you think something has real value, try a used bookstore, consignment shop, Craigslist, eBay, or an antiques dealer first. If they sell there, you’ll get a higher price for them. If they can’t sell there, you’ll feel better about letting them go for cheap at your garage sale.

12. ADVERTISE BEFORE AND DURING!

I cannot stress this enough. I know it was THE key to my success (I had one woman drive from an hour away to “pre-shop” my stuff and then come again on the day of the sale)! List your garage sale on Craigslist a few days in advance with as much detail as possible. (Other garage sale sites pull from CL so you don’t need to re-list it. You can, but it isn’t absolutely necessary). 

Your listing should include:

-Your address
-Date and start time of sale (don’t bother posting an end-time—you’ll know when to shut it down).
-An itemized list of merchandise WITH prices
-As many photos as possible.
-Any other information you want to convey (“prices negotiable,” “please no early birds,” “all proceeds go toward adopting our puppy,” etc.) 

You also need to advertise the day of your sale with neighborhood signs. Put up as many of these as your township or association will allow. Make them large, sturdy, and legible, and place them at prominent intersections as well as along the path to your house from those intersections.

13. USE RETAIL TRICKS FOR PRESENTATION AND SALES TECHNIQUES

Put big-ticket items closer to the curb, so passing cars can see them. Like pretty window displays in a store, this draws people in.

Group categories of like items together. Furniture goes in one spot, kids’ stuff in another. Think about how department stores are organized into zones.


Make it easy to shop. For instance, have tables next to clothes bins for people to lay them out as they look through them.

Give customers laundry baskets as they do their shopping. This is a classic retail trick: When their arms begin to fill up, hand them the basket and say, “Here, you can use this to help you carry your things.” They’ll feel like you’re being helpful (which you are!) and they’ll usually end up buying more.

As things sell, rearrange. Fill in gaps on the driveway and knick-knack tables. You want your sale to look full so more people will stop their cars. This also really helps you look busy and active. If you’re just sitting in a lounge chair, it seems like all the action, and all the good stuff, is gone.

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14. TAKE ANY OFFER

This was my own personal motto, and I was ok with it because I reminded myself each time that my end-goal was getting rid of stuff. I decided in advance that, other than for my “non-negotiable” list, (and one obviously ridiculous early offer) I was going to say yes to any offer. I learned this lesson trying to sell a picnic basket at a friend’s garage sale a few years ago. I had it priced for $4 and a lady offered $2. I said no, and then sent it to charity at the end of the day. Did I really haggle over $2? That wouldn’t have even bought me a sandwich at McDonald’s! You can see what I mean about the value of money taking on new meaning in garage sale world. 

15. PROTECT YOUR VALUABLES, SMALL ITEMS AND CASH

I was warned about this and blew it off. And someone stole every last piece of jewelry at my garage sale. Thankfully, none of it was valuable, and thankfully I did listen to the advice I read to keep my cash in a fanny pack (yes, swallow your pride and do it), so it wasn’t too much of a loss. 

16. EXPLOIT YOUR KIDS' CUTENESS

I never thought I would do this, but I reluctantly let my kids run a lemonade stand at our sale (I’ve never liked being guilted out of my quarters by other people’s too-adorable offspring). But they really wanted to be involved. So they made a big sign with our puppy’s picture on it and sold cookies, brownies, and soda, and gave away free lemonade. I just made sure to warn people in my ad on Craigslist. I wrote “Fair warning: Cute kids will be selling cookies to raise money for their puppy adoption.” People were really sweet about it, and when the sun got hot, those sodas were lifesavers! And guess what? They made $50. I thought that was a shocking total! I’m now a big fan of kids’ lemonade stands. 

17. WEAR SUNSCREEN. 

I was so busy the day of my sale, this never occurred to me. And I was burnt as a lobster afterwards. On a related note, make provisions ahead of time for your basic physical needs: Someone to take over so you can have a bathroom break, a ready-made sandwich for lunch, and a supply of bottled water close at hand. I had not anticipated the steady stream of customers and meeting those basic needs ended up adding even more chaos to the day.

18. ANTICIPATE YOUR SUPPLY NEEDS

Have a Sharpie, extra price stickers and shopping bags within reach. Pretend you are a retail store and stock supplies accordingly.

19. BE FRIENDLY

This is another retail trick: Greet your customers. Say hello to everyone (this helps them know who to ask questions of, who to pay, and that someone is watching in case they have thieving intent). I say, “Hi, welcome! Let me know if there’s anything in particular I can help you find.” And then leave them alone to browse.

20. UPDATE YOUR LISTING AFTER DAY ONE

Remove sold items from your Craigslist post and update the date of your sale. (If it said Thursday/ Friday, just change it to Friday). This will make your sale feel fresh and new, and will avoid disappointing anyone coming on the second day who wanted an item that was already sold.

I hope this list has been helpful! My final advice is this: Pray. It may feel silly, but it’s perfectly ok to pray about a garage sale. God cares about everything in your life, big and small. I invited Him to be at my house that day, to bless my efforts and to bless the people who would shop there. 

Posted on May 26, 2017 and filed under Building Your Home.

Tips for a Successful Garage Sale-Part I

(Note: This is a popular post from our archives. We thought we'd repeat it early in the season so you have time to implement some of these tips if you have a garage sale planned!) 

Warmer weather is finally here, and that means garage sales will start popping up soon. If you’re like me, you have a lot of items accumulating (like mountains of kids’ toys), and it would be great to earn a little cash for your efforts to see your playroom carpet again. A garage sale can be very rewarding.

Last year I held my first garage sale. It was very busy with steady traffic and we made a good haul at the end. I did a ton of research beforehand, channeling my retail background to create my strategy, and I’ve compiled a list for you of things I learned from the process.

GET READY:

1. PREPARE YOUR HEART

Before you even put these tips into practice, I want to prepare you that having a garage sale is not for the faint of heart. It takes way more sweat and work than you’d ever imagine, and sometimes there is little return for your investment of time and energy. You need to be prepared with the mindset that this is stuff you would otherwise be donating to charity. When the sale is over, plan to load up everything in your van and take it there immediately. Your goal should be to de-clutter and clean out, with any cash you get in the process being viewed as a bonus. In garage sale world, the value of a quarter suddenly becomes so elevated you can make yourself crazy. Take a deep breath and don’t let it.

2. INVOLVE THE KIDS

The reason we had a garage sale was because our kids wanted (ok, I wanted) a puppy. Having a cause to rally around helped involve everyone in the family. The kids were more willing to part with old toys because they knew the money would bring home “Dyson.” (Yes, we named him after the vacuum). They happily helped me sort, purge and price because they wanted something more than their old junk. Your family could decide beforehand what any money earned would go toward (Disney World?) and you’ll find it enjoyable to work toward a common goal.

3. INVOLVE THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Once we decided what weekend to hold our sale, the kids and I passed out flyers to every home on the three streets surrounding ours. We let them know about our sale and invited them to have one the same weekend. Neighborhood sales have a much better turnout of traffic than individual sales. I gave my phone number and asked for a text if they were going to do it. I made it clear they were totally on their own, but that I would advertise. Four other homes said yes! And we did have a TON of traffic.

4. INVOLVE YOUR FRIENDS

If more than one family is selling items at your sale, you can advertise as “multi-family,” which will also help boost traffic. I had three friends drop off their items at mine, meaning I had more merchandise and variety to appeal to potential shoppers. Just be sure to agree with your friends beforehand about a method to keep income straight. Another bonus of this method is that you’ll have more people to “work” the sale because your friends will stick around. Hopefully!

5. DECIDE WHAT TO SELL

I remember when I took Betsy’s class, on “tips day” she said: “Only keep items in your house that are either beautiful, functional, or you just love them.” That stuck with me, and I have tried my best to live by it. (Read: NOT always successfully. Yet!) This is going to be a wonderful opportunity to de-clutter. Be committed to those three criteria, and you won’t have any regrets.

6. CLEAN IT UP

When you go through your stuff, throw away anything with stains or holes. Don’t bother trying to sell it. It will make people mistrust everything you are selling if they see one item in unwearable condition.

Wash or wipe down everything. Make it as clean as possible.

Put as many items as you can in gallon size or XXL Ziploc bags. They feel new!

7. GET IT ORGANIZED

Bag like items together (for instance six Star Wars figures in a bag, or a baby outfit that includes hat and socks in the same bag).


In your staging area, organize your merchandise by category (kids’ stuff, household items, adult clothes, furniture) so that you can set it up that way on the day of your sale. It will be easier for people to shop for what interests them, and they won’t get frustrated by digging through piles of unrelated items.



8. GET IT PRICED

In retail, “signing” (i.e. pricing things clearly) was directly related to sales. If a customer picks something up with no price, they will often leave without asking what it is. Clearly marked prices lead to more sales.

If you would rather negotiate, put a sign on your table saying “no reasonable offer will be refused,” or “MAKE ME AN OFFER!!!!” (whichever your style). The price tag will help get the process started for your customers and help them feel comfortable.

9. PRICE TO SELL

Infant toys and newborn items don’t sell well. Price them CHEAP. (New parents don’t want used stuff and third-time moms know better than to overpay at a garage sale.)

Feel free to discount items bought in bulk. For instance, “Treasure Toys 25 cents each or 6/$1,” or “Books 25 cents each or $5 for the whole bin.” This worked very well for me to clear out groups of items quickly.

Personal Soapbox: Don’t overcharge. Nothing is more disheartening to me that to arrive at a garage sale full of great stuff and see they want $5 for a kids shirt or $10 for a pair of shoes. Those are consignment store prices. The garage sale is the last-ditch effort to get rid of stuff for a few coins before you throw it away, so price accordingly. Clothes (kids and adults) should be .50-$1 and shoes no more than $2-3 ($5 for unworn condition in a box). The good news is, when you price low, people will buy more. Remember, your goal is to get rid of your stuff.

10. DECIDE IN ADVANCE HOW LOW YOU WILL GO

Of course there are some items that are too valuable to just give away or to let go for next to nothing. Decide in advance what those are, so you won’t have to make a gut-decision with a haggler that you might regret later.

**CHECK BACK ON FRIDAY FOR PART II: GET SELLING!**

 

Posted on May 24, 2017 and filed under Building Your Home.

Growing Grateful Givers: Beginning steps toward stewardship with your children

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Here it is sweet friends...the article on finances. What does is look like to teach our children about money? Talk about a daunting task! Thankfully, the Lord calls us to it and this is one more thing we can do through Him! Are you ready? Let’s go!

Several factors play into how we teach them about money.

The greatest determining factor is likely based upon how we were raised and what we were taught. Maybe you grew up with very little or maybe your family had a lot. Perhaps you were never taught as a child how to steward money. Today I hope to offer a smidge of wisdom from both the perspective of how I was raised along with some things I’m still learning.

My dad was a pastor of a very small church and we didn't grow up with a lot of money, but we always had what we needed. If my parents were ever weary in that season, I don't remember them complaining. In fact, they made every effort to bless us when they could. Little gifts or even eating out was such a treat and a joy and were never taken for granted. The sacrifice and conscious choice to walk in obedience to what God had called my parents to made a lasting impression on my heart.

Some of my favorite childhood memories are the vacations we took growing up. Every year we took a road trip to explore different states: Maine, Washington, D.C., Texas, Florida, Colorado and many more. They didn't spend a lot of money but we were able to experience and create memories as a family that will last a lifetime.

Whatever background you come from, here are some principles that hold true.

1. The importance of teaching our children the value of money. My friend had a wonderful idea of creating three mason jars labeled with the words, tithing, saving and spending on them. These jars provided an ideal opportunity for our girls to tangibly place their money in each jar and for us to talk about what each stands for.

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2. The importance of teaching our children to give back to God through tithing. All we have is from the Lord. What a privilege it is to offer a portion back to Him out of that which He has graciously bestowed on us. This is our chance to lead by example. Can you say conviction? Yikes! My heart is feeling it. I often forget to teach them this. An easy way to demonstrate this principle is by simply allowing them to see us tithe or let them be a part of the process. I want them to grow up with a giving heart and to learn to give back to the Lord, regardless of having much or little.

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3. The importance of teaching our children to give to others. Do you ever find yourself holding onto something tightly? If I am being honest, there are moments I find myself in that place. I don’t want my kids to struggle in that way. A simple way to help them have a giving heart is to annually go through their toys with them. Ask them to be willing to pick some things out to give to those in need. Let them give out of their own hearts. If they don't want to, gently use this time to reinforce how much we have been blessed and what a joy it is to give out of what God has given us. Don't force them, just keep pressing into the conversations and continue to be an example for them to see. You’ll find this is a good lesson for your heart as well!

4. The importance of teaching our children to save their money. Saving money teaches them discipline and hard work. I remember saving up for a 10-speed bike when I was in 3rd grade and making a savings goal thermometer and filling in that line to see how much money I was saving. When I was able to take the money out of the bank and buy that bike with what I had saved on my own, it was thrilling! Likewise, when I was in high school and saved up for my first car all on my own, I was so proud. You would have thought I was driving around a BMW, not a blue Ford Escort (insert laughter here).

5. The importance of teaching our children to be grateful and not entitled. We need to be proactive in communicating the things they receive or get to do, as a privilege. Not in order  to make them feel guilty, but rather grateful. Our season of living with my parents yet again afforded us the opportunity to have many teaching moments of why we can't “get or do that thing.” As heart wrenching as it was to not be able to do all the "extras" for our girls, I wouldn't trade that season for the world. Any entitlement they previously had was stripped to the core. At one point in that season, I had a dear friend send me a box in the mail. She had put markers and color pencils with coloring books in for the girls and me to express that God was at work and we could still color in the season we were in. Honestly, you would have thought the girls received $100 each. I was overcome by their joy and so deeply touched by my friend's thoughtfulness.

There are many different approaches and factors that play into teaching our children about money. What a blessing it is to be able to instill the truth of our loving God and His provision for us. Are we willing to engage in that truth with our children and help point them down the right path? Maybe like me, in the process, you'll find you needed some of these reminders and perspective shifts in your own heart.

Posted on May 17, 2017 and filed under Building Your Family.

Finding Purpose in Morning Sickness: How I Was Challenged to View Pregnancy in a New Way

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Can I be honest? Pregnancy is an absolute miracle every time… but it can lose some of its “magic” appeal when you’ve been on the rodeo a few times… Especially when you are experiencing severe sickness. This fourth time around has forced me on the same digestive roller coaster the others have, yet is has only grown worse. Some of you know this ride all too well, and some of you are saying, Hmm… I’ve heard some women get sick in pregnancy, it just never happened to me.

Um. I try very hard to not be jealous of you in the latter group. Very hard. And yet I know there is another group of women that would give anything to be sick for nine months if it promised they would hold a child at the end. I have seen the pain of infertility up close, and my heart breaks for every woman—single or married—that has waited for the desire for motherhood to be fulfilled. It is a tremendous blessing, and I do not take it lightly that I have been allowed to carry another child. My heart in this post is just to encourage and strengthen the women who are ill in pregnancy, not to belittle the miracle bestowed upon us.

As I was spending yet another challenging morning on the couch, trying to homeschool my kindergartener and care for my toddlers, and prep for my teaching jobs, I received a voicemail from a dear friend. She felt led to pray for me because she knew I had been sick for weeks and was struggling to make it through each day. At one point in the message, she said, “Lord, help her to see that she is mothering this child already.”

Her words broke through my discouraged heart, and gave me purpose. Really, Lord? Am I really ‘mothering’ this little one? As I pondered this question before the Lord, I realized it was true. I am watching my nutrition (as much as my vomiting reflexes will allow me to!), taking special vitamins, making sure I drink enough water, lying in the best positions for the baby, protecting my womb from the onslaught of three energetic boys, and actually taking some attention away from those three boys to provide for this new baby… Clearly, the answer is yes! I am already mothering this child.

To be honest, the first half of the pregnancy has always been harder for me than the newborn phase. I adore babies, and I have been able to take the sleep deprivation in stride because of the joy each of my newborns has brought me. Embracing God’s masterful handiwork in all of the intricate details of a baby seems natural…. Delighting in the nauseating, exhausting months of pregnancy are harder for me to rejoice in, however. (Please allow me to sneak in some pictures of me delighting in my babies here, because I need to remember how amazing that season is—and that is approaching again for me!)

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With this revelation, a flood of Scriptures came to my mind.

“...but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:16-17)

“...looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Perhaps pregnancy is a powerful opportunity to love as Christ does.

Unconditionally.

When we are offered nothing (immediate) in return.

Hoping for the future blessing.

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Let me be clear that I am not for a moment saying that my hours spent bending over a porcelain stool compare with the blood that was shed by my precious Savior; rather, that I may follow in His sacrificial example of love in a small way in this season. There is something holy about loving without expectation, immediate reward, and with pain. Loving this child when it is offering me nothing is an act of faith, hope, and love. The promise at the end doesn’t negate the sacrifice. It validates it.

And I haven’t even touched on the spiritual implications of the delivery! I think I’ll save that for another post!

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If you are experiencing some of the side effects of pregnancy right now, I pray this encourages and strengthens you to love well, dear sister.

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Posted on May 10, 2017 and filed under Building Your Faith.