Friday, 25 September 2015

Just Love

This week I was asking God about whether or not we should go, as a family, to a conference next year that looks pretty amazing.
And so as I was researching and talking it over with hubby, I did what we naturally do, I started pressing the doors open. I didnt get far because the major obstacle I hit, was, where to find accommodation for 2 adults and 5 kids. Put that into any 'Accommodation' search engine and it comes up with "Sorry, we have no spaces". Seriously. The best I could come up with was a camping ground or that hubby and I split up for the week, staying in separate motel rooms with 2 and 3 kids respectively.
Not my idea of a great family bonding time!

Then at last, I found the perfect place. The only place in fact still available! And it was only (drum roll) $2300nz for a week.

I get thats fairly reasonable but here's where the rubber meets the road in my faith. I know thats not a lot of money to God. I know thats not impossible for Him. And I even came up with some pretty awesome scenarios for Him of how He could provide $2300... you know those fall of the back of the truck kind of answers?

Let me go there for a moment...
Do you remember in Childrens Church the story of the family that had nothing, not even a loaf of bread left, and then around the bend a bread truck comes and it just happens that a bunch of loaves fall out the back of the truck and God answers the prayers of the family. Or what about the stories you hear where a missionary needs $10,000 and then they go to the letterbox and theres a cheque for $10000 anonymously given. I love those stories. Ive spent a lifetime hanging off those stories and I probably will till the day I die because thats the God I know and love. He is faithful!!

So you bet ya that I had a whole script written for how God can provide $2300. Here I was trying to pray and Im telling God "oh well you know that Bonus Bonds money, well you could just let me win next month, and it could just happen to be $2300 and that would be so cool! Or wait, you could just have us sell something and we get exactly $2300 for it.

I know I know, my faith reeks of immaturity sometimes. But truly, this was Mrs. Fleur Cahills internal dialogue in prayer time.

And then I picked up the Bible and read Galations 5. "What is important is faith expressing itself in love."

God had a conversation with me He's had a few times now.
"Fleur, you are FULLY RESOURCED for everything I am asking of you right now". Stop and insert your own name and say that back to yourself.

Because we live in a world, in a Christian environment where its tempting to always be looking for the upgrade, the where its happening, the amazing study. And none of these things are bad, they really aren't. In fact, often they are pretty awesome.

However, in looking for the upgrade, we can often miss "what is important".

Operating from a position of realising were FULLY RESOURCED changes everything. Why? Because when you're sitting with the knowledge that God has and will give you all the grace, energy, strength, provision to accomplish His calling on you, it results in action in the now. Its not dependent on whether or not the things YOU perceive you need will arrive, be it a conference, a car, a room or a position. Like dye seeping into fibres, that calling in you will find a way to penetrate the environment regardless.

Have you seen those sort around you?

I have a friend like that. She felt called into Childrens ministry. Well in truth, she just loved kids. She has a bundle of her own but when you wanted to find her in Church, she was in the childrens ministry room.. doing what she loved. Eventually a position became available which she didn't apply for, because it didn't cross her mind... till someone in the childrens ministry team told her she should, so she did. After a few interviews, she was in the childrens ministry room one Sunday and someone said to her "Oh Im sorry you didn't get the job". Her heart sunk. Guess what she did.. served anyway. NOTHING could stop her heart from doing what God had called her to do. The next day she found out she actually did get the job. It was wrong information but oh, what a test huh?!
And oh man, she is dynamic in that room and the energy and love that she has for the kids! But if you meet her, you won't be wowed by her position or impressed by her attributes. She's beautiful. But she possesses a beauty that expresses itself in eyes full of tears when you mention something that hits close to her heart. It expresses itself in a smile so warm, that your kids will feel Jesus regardless of the challenges going on in her world.

You want to prove your love is genuine? Let the obstacles and disappointments and things that you dont have be the vehicle by which you love even more. Let the lack be the place where God can shine. Let Him trust you with the little and watch Him grow the great.

If you're like me, and praying about the next thing... remember what is important. Galations 5. Thank God that He has given you everything you already need to love and serve Him and get on doing that which He has already asked of you. He will take care of the rest.... and the script?.... Well that will be nothing like you imagined and will have Gods original glory stamped all over it.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Goals 2015....

In the past few months God has really encouraged me to be my husbands best financial asset. That has been a marriage long goal of mine. Every year, at the top of my New Years Resolutions #Be my husbands best financial asset. Right under #1. Know my maker more. Last year I didn't even bother with writing that resolution list out.. I just rolled my eyes at myself "same list again huh?".
Now Im going to realistic here and point to the fact that I know Im not ridiculous with our finances either. I homeschool and I dont expect a lot of me time. I dont consider myself high maintenance. I like to look nice and I like to find a bargain. But from one month to the next, I really didn't know what the picture looked like overall.

For a while now, Ive felt a sense that God is drawing us deeper into His purposes and to, well, plan.
Thats kind of hard when you dont exactly know what you're planning for (and Im really not being mysterious or allusive here). But I had that prompting one day recently to get serious about it. In prayer, in purpose, in seeking, in planning, in being wise.

So I kept Sam amused late one night.. going through invoices and statements with the mission of knowing where every dollar was being spent... with thoughts such as "I spent HOW MUCH on food that week?" and then I came up with a budget to save money.

So far, its working absolutely fantastic. Ive become the budget queen. If the kids start asking me for things, I pull up the budget.. "see here, that fund is empty right now".. they get it. More importantly, Im learning a heap on the way! And most importantly.. my hubby thinks Im fantastic! :P. Heres some of my tips:

Have a long term goal: I have numerous.. I even have a little account for one of them where I tuck $10 away per week. When Im weighing up on spending on things a little more pricey, holding it up against my goals really helps. For instance, this week I so wanted to get a new running jumper. I also wanted to get a new pair of walking shoes. I decided the jumper wasn't that important next to my goal but decided on the shoes because I know as a mum on the go, I will wear them comfortably a lot.

Be in the office: This is Sams domain, but God told me to just offer, once a week, to help out. Sam was so blessed by that! I knew it was God because at the same time, he told me, to help Sams office a place of blessing, to put some plants there etc. Later that evening, Sam came out to me and said "I think I need to make my office a nicer place to be" and I was able to say "Yeah, God told me that too!". It was pretty cool!

Dont under budget for groceries: This is usually where all my past budgets have come undone. I like eating healthy and healthy isn't cheap. So I set a realistic figure, $300 per week. For a family of 7, one in nappies, Im finding this totally doable.

Give!: This I know seems the opposite of logic.. but giving, I believe, not only honours God but keeps our hearts in tune with the one who provides. Dont give beyond your means however. Thats Biblical.

Keep a record: Every single dollar I spent gets recorded on my Budget app on the iPhone. Its so easy to lose track of the little amounts and the practise of keeping check is vital to managing your finances. I run my app like an envelope system as I dont like carrying around cash.

Look after you, wisely: One year I paid for a gym membership that I probably used 4 times? I was so unmotivated and without the support, I got bored. The next year I joined Dave Jaggs bootcamp and that cost me half the price.. but was an investment worth three times as much. I felt better about fitting into clothes, owned less and was more buoyant, even though I was getting up at 5:30am twice a week. You dont have to spend untold money but do prioritise looking after you.. both in terms of healthy eating and exercise. Trust me, it will save you money in the long run.

Keep a wardrobe want list: I find myself reaching for a few staple items often.. white tops, a bright coloured t shirt, a good fitting pair of jeans. Just the other day, I realised one of my favourite t's is needing to be replaced and Im looking for its identical. Popping it on a want list means Im far less likely to be distracted by on sale items that I know I won't get nearly as much wear out of. Just the other day I saw a t shirt that was blue, down to $15. I liked it.. but $15 isn't cheap if you will lose it in your wardrobe!

Buy online: I buy a lot of things online from overseas as I get so frustrated with clothing that doesn't last. Cheaper NZ brands dont hold up and to be honest, I haven't seen a significant difference in the high end labels here either. But I honestly own things in my wardrobe that I bought 10 or so years ago from UK and are still looking great. I love Next, New Look, Shein and Sports Direct mostly. I love Lorna Jane and Portmans and I try to wait till they have a sale before buying, or google search a discount code. I always find one.

Get the family on board: I set the kids up with their own bank accounts each and have a budget for their 'allowance'. Its not a right, they can earn it, if they want. They have their own cash card and they can spend what is theirs. Oh how bliss it is when they get to the toy aisle.. "mum, can I buy this?".. "do you have the money?". These have lead into awesome conversations about their long term goals too and I am watching them make wise decisions. Im so proud of them!

Bonus Bonds: I love these because once its converted, you have to apply and it takes a few days to get the cash back. It stops the impulse decision making. I have been popping these away to buy Sams Christmas Present but in the interim, the money doesnt show and its not tempting to draw or transfer on it.

These are just some of the tips Ive learnt but Id honestly love to hear more from others. Feel free to add yours!!

Monday, 14 September 2015

The Blameless Man...

"Mark the blameless man".. Psalm 37:37

I love this verse.
I love that were encouraged to 'mark' or 'note' the blameless. The ones who conduct themselves above suspicion.
Something about that really grabs with the beat of my heart.
I wonder what it would look like in our families, if we set about marking for our children, the blameless.
What people would you invite through your doors?
As a family, we've started to note them in our lives and to invite them into our home. We want to hear their testimonies. We want to hear what stories they hold, the things they won't tell without asking. Mostly we want our children to watch them. To see the pattern and rhythm of their lives. To note where they sit each week in Church. To catch their eye, engage in conversation, seek out their counsel.
We want them to be able to draw upon the example of the peace that follows them, when this crazy world throws at us so much.
We've decided to keep a little visitors journal.. The Blameless.. we call it. To record the gems they share and a photo and prayers..
Because Im convinced, that while the world may not always give them the title they are due, that we will one day find, we didn't just entertain the blameless, we also entertained angels.
And I want that kind of presence in my home. Dont you?