grace flows down
Frugal and Free1. This concept of frugality has been weighing heavily on me all week.
2. I greatly appreciate the comments left by my married friends. Thanks for your encouragement!
3. I did something frugal today. I cashed in on a coupon I'd received for free Victoria's Secret underwear. I felt stupid walking out without buying anything, but hey, that's $7.50!
4. I realized one very real way I have been investing in frugality for the last 5.5 years. I work for Williams-Sonoma...and we get free stuff! Today, I picked up my free bread knife and got to pick out the Le Creuset pot that I won. I was so excited! I've been wanting a LC pot forever but never enough to purchase one. So, is earning $220 in free product being frugal? I think so...
Frugality = Quality?On occasion, I enjoy reading the blogs random people whom I've never met, or at least highly unlikely to meet. I'm often drawn to homemaker's blogs - mostly so I can get snippets of married life for my own evaluation. After reading a few today, I'm greatly discouraged by what I see.
Someone tell me: Does successful homemaking have to be that difficult?
I was reading thoughts from several women who seem to obsess about money, in the opposite way of normal people. It's like their only and main goal in life is to beat last week's grocery bill. All they talk about is the things they do to cut corners, an image which makes me think of cutting those little snips in armholes seams -- get one too big and you've ruined the dress you're making.
Can you obsess about cutting so many corners that you ruin the life you're living?
I really want to be married. I want to be concerned about feeding my family for low costs. I love alternative home decorating (translated means used and cheap!). But if I ever get there, I sure do hope I get to enjoy it!
It always amazes me to see people so tied up in a knot over money that they forget to enjoy the moment God gave them. In the end, they are bitter toward people who decided to spend the extra $20 on such and such entertainment and are out having fun while they're at home worrying. Is that a quality life?
One of the blogs I read summed the money issue well:
So budgets aren’t really about just scraping by on the bare minimum. They’re about seeking balance in a well-rounded life. Therefore I concluded that comparing budgets is so much more than contrasting the bottom line in dollar signs. Whatever your budget is, for whatever category, if you can afford it and it makes you happy, then embrace it and enjoy!
So, I've been mulling over a theory for the last year on what "quality of life" means. One of the characteristics involved in this theory is the connection between life's quality and living presently. Then I read C.S. Lewis today and realized he's beaten me to the punch line:
He [God] therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy [God] has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them.
We [Satan] want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow's end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future, every real gift which is offered them in the Present.*
I think that part of seeing God work in everyday life is being free from worry and free to enjoy the moment, even if it costs money. Living frugally is wise and commended. I wish I was more frugal. But if ever obsessive frugality makes me bitter and prevents me from seeing God work in my life and through me presently, someone slap me hard.
God gave us life today, why not live it?
*C.S.Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, Letter 15.
A Real Modern TragedyI hadn't heard of this before today when I read the newspaper...
Whoever thinks words and thoughts don't have consequences needs to consider the life of this man. He suffered a lifetime of the very real consequences of the thoughts of those around him. Wow. Tragedy personnified.
Unfolding Righteousness"The [Christian] life is a day-by-day unfolding of the joyful, strengthening life and freedom found in the love of God. It is a continual unfolding of a new and splendid righteousness that marks our being."*
I received excellent advice once. He said, "You don't need to go out and change who you are to be better. You just need to be more of who you already are."
The Bible tells us too, that God has "given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue." 2 Peter 1:3
We don't need to be something or someone other than who God made us to be. Righteousness is ours and we already have it. We just need to see more of it.
I work in housewares retail. One of the most annoying thing customers do is take the tablecloths off their hangers. They crumple them up, can't refold them correctly... all because they need to see the whole pattern to discern if it's something they want to buy. These tablecloths are beautiful. The colors are vivid and the fabrics often lush (and expensive). They're also really big and difficult to fold properly.
Our righteousness is like a tablecloth. We already have the colors and patterns we need to make us beautiful. The beauty doesn't fade or change - the whole thing is beautiful, from end to end. Sometimes though, we only are only showing a little part of our tablecloth. We need to be unfolding and exposing our righteousness more and more.
A tablecloth serves no purpose folded up and in a closet. It needs to be displayed 100% with no wrinkles.
*Rich Ganz, Free Indeed, page 91.
Contemporary RealityLately it seems that I've been encountering the Emergent Church movement, whether through blogs, emails, conversations, etc. I am not well-educated in the subject--it's next on my list of "things to try to understand." But it does seem to be an important topic as it is gaining momentum, especially among young Christians. From what I understand, the Emergent Church is focused on experiencing God, especially in worship. Traditional worship is irrelevant because it's limiting to the emotions, apparently.
I watched Man of the Year this weekend and caught an interesting correlation between modern politics and the contemporary church. The movie chronicles the impromptu presidential campaign of a political satirist/comedian. (Really hilarious, if you're interested in seeing it.) Robin Williams is the independent politician who claims to see the world honestly and tells it like it is.
The thesis of the movie boils down to the idea that the old forms, rites, and traditions of party politics are not only dated, but they neither work nor reach contemporary culture. One of the most important points in the movie is a scene where Williams ditches traditional pomp and circumstance at his campaign rally and instead has a light show pep rally - much like a rock concert or half-time show. The rally scene really demonstrates the film's call for experiential politics. You could almost hear the director saying, "Let the audience feel the power of politics, communicate with emotion; words mean nothing here!"
Does this illustrate a widespread cultural problem, one that's not limited to just the church? Is this technological age backfire--that contemporary culture is rejecting "computerization and programming" to the extent that everything is becoming emotionally driven? "Out with the old and in with the real," seems to be a motto of many these days. It is interesting to see how it has influenced not only the church, but as with Man of the Year, it also impacts entertainment media, politics, communication, and the way current events are perceived.
So how do we answer it?
Last ChanceFor Veritas! Tonight, 7pm. On Africa.
Learning to ListenWatching movies and reading books are very rewarding. You can lose yourself in far away places, find yourself in characters, and get caught up in the myriad of emotions. If they make you laugh, they've entertained. If they make you cry, it's cheap therapy.
I find that among the more rewarding aspects, is fact that book and movies teach me how to listen. It's a media full of real-life conversations and questions. If we look hard enough, we learn how to understand people, how to see their perspective, and from it, we learn how to better communicate truth to them and try to answer their questions.
Here's a conversation I overheard today.
"The true work of improving this world is in the little achievements of the day. And that’s what you need to enjoy. The people who are the most giving hardworking and capable of making this world better usually don’t have the ego or ambition to be a leader. They don’t see any interest in superficial rewards; they don’t care if their name ever appears in the press. They actually enjoy the process of helping others. They’re in the moment."
"Yeah but that’s so hard, you know, to be in the moment. I mean, I just feel like I’m designed to be slightly dissatisfied with everything. I’m always trying to better my situation. I satisfy one desire and then it just agitates another, and then I think, to h--- with it, desire is the fuel of life. Do you think it’s true that if we never wanted anything than we’d never be unhappy?"
"Not wanting anything. Isn’t that a symptom of depression? It’s healthy to desire, right? I feel really alive when I want something more than the basics of life."
-dialogue between Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in Before Sunset
I completely related. I have often struggled with how to be in the moment, and it really struck me that here were two movie characters asking the same thing. In listening to their conversation however, I learned more about what makes people tick. We all seek happiness, but without Christ, the goals and directions of our desires are different. I thought the line, "I satisfy one desire and then it just agitates another" especially summed up culture's obsession with self-fulfillment. Without Christ, desires will never really be satisfied.
WebstuffI figured out how to use YouTube yesterday.
I love the Indiana sky!
Did anyone catch the sunset last night?
Job SearchI'm looking online right now and I just found the perfect teaching job...
Faking BeautyNatural causes. I'm not much gifted at fashion, skin care, or beauty products. Maybe it's because I'm a Yankee, maybe it's because my mom wasn't that in to it. Either way, I've been a self-taught late bloomer and my beauty experience is largely trial and error. If products require longevity to see results, that's where I often err because after the bottle's empty, I'm off to try something else.
Enlisting help. 1) Recently, I was shopping at the cosmetic store Sephora for some new make-up. I commented to the lady helping me on how I liked her look. She pointed out the blush she was wearing and I was shocked. It was this bright fuchsia pink and her skin was paler than mine. Encouraged by her success, I tried something similar and so far, I think I like it. 2) The TV show "What Not To Wear" is the next best thing to hiring professional help. Watch and learn! 3) Real Simple Magazine's monthly "Road Test" recommendations are also helpful.
Live and Learn. If it's hypo-allergenic, fragrance free, and non-comedogenic, you can't go wrong. If you can smell it a mile away, stay away. The secret to a good shave is exfoliation. Milk baths equal amazing. If you want to change your look, go with the thing most opposite your natural inclination. You just might be surprised.
An Accidental FoolI didn't intend to observe April Fool's Day, but it turned out that I did. Accidentally.
#1. I'm not usually in charge of taking care of the church's money- that's my dad's job. Since he's out of town, he asked me to deliver the necessary items to church this morning. Of course, I forgot. I was halfway to church when I realized it and turned around, being 15 minutes late to church and missed the offering. I was really grateful no policemen were keeping watch of the interstates...
#2. I spent a good part of the afternoon baking a cinnamon coffee cake for the evening church pitch-in. Only, I didn't get the memo that there was NO evening church pitch-in tonight. So I walk into church bearing food, feeling foolish. At least, the Lefebvres got to enjoy it and I got to spend some time with them.
Ha, ha! Joke's on me!