Reading the Grand Story of the Bible in Under 2 Hours

Reading the Grand Story of the Bible in Under 2 Hours

An Evening of Reading through the Greatest story, ever.

So there we were, a small classroom full of missionaries, overcome by an utter sense of awe. My eyes were tearing up, and all I could do was pray in my very feeble words my overwhelming gratitude to God.

This has to be one of the most powerful exercises I’ve encountered.

 

What intrigued me the most about this experience, was that it wasn’t anything “special”.

There was no fire falling down, no miraculous healings, no prophets sharing a word,

just the Bible being read.

But with a very special intention…

To gather a big picture view of God’s story with mankind.

 

 

Reading Through the Greatest Story Ever

We tried this same exercise last year with some of the students we lead. My vision was to have a “Story” evening: where we could taste, hear and see God’s story with us. My goal was that each one of us would leave that evening with a renewed understanding of God’s story and his faithfulness.

So, interwoven between food, we read aloud through the Bible. Each one of us took turns reading through some verses I had picked out.

It was a lovely evening of friendship and the Bible, and the kids even joined us at the beginning. After dinner, we sent them off to bed, and continued to read the bulk of the verses while sharing in some tasty wine.

This is a great exercise for a small group, Bible study, discipleship group, or even a date night.

Simplify With Kids – Make it Your Own!

As of yet, we have not tried a full reading through with our little ones.

I think it’s possible though if you were to go through the verses and make it work for your family.

 

Missing the Big Picture

Do you like reading and dwelling on individual verses, and chapters of the Bible?

So do I.

In fact, this is how I dwell daily in the word.
Bit by bit.

But…

Sometimes we’re so caught up focusing on the intricate details of each puzzle piece, that we forget to stand back and look at the puzzle in all it’s glory.

That’s what reading through these verses is like.

If you read these highlights aloud (even better with friends) it will renew your understand and vision of The Greatest Story Ever – The Bible.

 

Life Changing, Faith Boosting, Bible Reading

After my first experience reading through these verses in the classroom, I felt almost a bit silly.

Why hadn’t I thought of this before?

It was so simple, but so powerful.

I’m very grateful for Dr. Anita Koeshall who introduced this “Grand Picture” thinking and reading and has taught me so much personally.

 

 

 

Please try this out and tell me your experience!

I’d love to hear about how you use it with your family or small group, or discipleship group!

Why God Loves Food

Why God Loves Food

Kingdom around the Table Part 1Why God Loves Food    I love food.   Everyone who comes to my house and sits at my table often gets a pretty darn good meal (not my own words). After their satisfaction, they tend to ask me if I like cooking.   My response is always the...

How to Spend Money without Guilt

How to Spend Money without Guilt

Have you ever arrived at the end of the month wondering where all of your money has gone? Surely, you didn't mean to overspend, but the money has literally vanished from your bank account. Where did it all go? Is it even possible to spend money without guilt?   Our...

Frl.Blanka | Being Creative for God | Hand Lettering

Frl.Blanka | Being Creative for God | Hand Lettering

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Frl.Blanka (or Isa) and I met a couple months ago in beautiful Heidelberg. She is credited to introducing...

An Awkward Photoshoot and Revealing God’s Heart

An Awkward Photoshoot and Revealing God’s Heart

Have you ever stood in front of the camera and tried to smile naturally? Yeah, it doesn't work. At least not for me. The pictures my hubby takes of me always seem like I have plastered a smile to my face. He always tells me to stop it, and smile properly. My body and...

The Work at Home Super Bundle

The Work at Home Super Bundle

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.     Are you like me and want to stay home and be with your family as much as you can, but you want to...

Stewardship of Time, Talents and Food

Stewardship of Time, Talents and Food

Welcome to the first of my Spotlight Series. Where we get to meet Jesus loving, inspiring, and creative people.   I'm really happy to introduce you to my first guest of the series, Amanda from Maple Alps. She's a fellow Canadian, and also married to a German speaker...

Celebrating the Biblical Feasts | Remember

Celebrating the Biblical Feasts | Remember


Have you ever been interested in the Biblical Feasts? Here is part one of a brief introduction to God’s feasts and how God uses them.

As a teenager, I did a week long internship at the Vancouver Opera. It was a fantastic experience, especially since at the time I was an aspiring to be an opera singer.

One part of the practicum was that I got to observe a rehearsal of La Traviata at an old church in the city. There were no flourishes, or costumes. Just a piano, the actors, and their movements. It was very simple. But even without the perfection of the real stage, the costumes, the makeup, or the orchestra, I was almost in tears in the end. The voices and acting alone were so powerful that I was drawn right in to the story.

I will never forget the beautiful sounds, and the emotions the music conjured up.

God’s Plan to Remember

If you read my post on Why God Loves Food you’ll remember that I pointed out how I pointed out that God uses the tastes, smells and textures of food to remind us of him in ways that are deeper than words.

God knows our humanness better than we. So he set up a way for us to remember him throughout the generations. No, I’m not talking about the Bible here (though that is one way we remember who He is and what he has done..

He created festivals!
Sometimes they’re referred to as the Jewish Feasts, but I’m going to call them the Biblical Feasts here.

Just thinking about God creating feasts makes me all warm and fuzzy feeling. He could have just left us with some words hewn in rock:: dead and lifeless.

But no! He knows US.

He knows we love food, and flavour, and celebration, and relationship, so he made time for that.
The feasts are more than just excuses to have a good time though, there is multi-faceted intention behind them.

The feasts are there for us to remember, reenact what has happened, or what God has done and to rehearse what is to come.

Let’s get a very quick overview on the feasts.

 

Feasting to the Glory of God

Passover

You’re probably familiar with the Exodus story. The Jews were released from bondage (Exodus 12) and were commanded to keep The Passover in order to remember.
The Christian remembers that we were released from sin as Jesus, the sacrificial lamb died on the cross (1 Corinthians 5:7). The Exodus was a shadow of the greater redemption that came!

Day of First Fruits

This is a special feast celebrating the God’s gift of the early crops. 
Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of first fruits.
We celebrate that Jesus was the first fruit (1 Corinthians 15:20), and we wait for the next fruit – us finally in our resurrected bodies.

Feast of Unleavened Bread

It begins the next night after Passover. Leaven in the Bible typically means sin. God commanded the Jews to abstain from yeast and leaven during the feast. The matzo bread that is eaten is striped, like Jesus’ body (Isaiah 53).

Shavuot (Pentecost)

Exactly 50 days after first fruits there is the Feast of Harvest, which we refer to as Pentecost. After Jesus’ resurrection, he joined the disciples for 40 days and then he told them to wait until the Holy Spirit would come. And he did, exactly on the day of feasts. There was a great harvest of souls (3000) which correlates those lost in Exodus 32:28.

Rosh HaShanah (Feast of Trumpets)

Usually in September we the memorial of trumpets (Leviticus 23:24). The trumpet blowing was a reminder for the worker in the field to stop immediately, and come  for worship in the temple.
We read in the New Testament that the last trumpet sound that will raise the dead and rapture the living (1 Corinthians 15:52 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement

On the Day of Atonement the High Priest of Israel entered the Holy of Holies to make a sacrifice on behalf of himself and Israel. (Leviticus 23:28-32)  It was a time for each person to confess his or her sins from the year.

We know our atonement is in Christ alone, by faith alone. This will be fulfilled when Christ returns again.

Sukkot (Tabernacles)

The Jews remember that God provided shelter for them while they were in the wilderness. They build little shelters outside their houses and live and worship in them for the time.
I have a friend who does this as a family, and I think it’s such a neat way to reenact and remember what God has done.
We know that God will establish his new temple in Jerusalem in the age to come. (Micah 4:1-7)

Shabbat

A very special and holy day that happens once a week. God lays a framework of rest and worship. Some understand the Shabbat as a rehearsal of the peace or shalom to come. One day a week where man, nature, and God are right with one another.
Every Shabbat I’m reminded that the rest and peace that I experience is just a shadow of what is to come. It reminds me to anticipate, and I long even more so for the Return of the King!

Biblical Feasts of Remembering

When you look at all those feasts, they’re pretty much spread right around the year. That means God set it up so that we literally can remember and celebrate him and all that he’s done all year long!

I think of it like Christmas on steroids.

Ok, that’s not a fantastic example.

But growing up in a Mennonite background, Christmas was pretty much the highlight and it only came once a year. How sad.

When I first came across the Shabbat I got totally excited. It was like Christmas every week! Read about that experience here.

God Loves to Party

After I realized there was a whole host of festivals I started to realize that God was pretty interested in us.
I absolutely thinks that he WANTS us to ENJOY him.

He wants us to BE with him.

Not just at Christmas!
Or Easter.

He designed a whole yearly and weekly rhythm for us to continually set our gaze above and remember him.  

It’s so easy to get stuck down in the muck and not remember and celebrate who God is and what he has done.

 

 

Have I just blown you away and you don’t even know where to begin with this all?
Sign up for our family’s Simple Christian Shabbat guide below to get started!

Try it out, and tell me how it went!

 

 

 

 

 

 

But since I (most likely) can't invite you to my own Christian Shabbat table, you'll receive a step by step outline of the evening for you to try out yourself- including a BONUS challengelaughing!

$

You'll Receive Step by Step Instructions and Examples

of  how our family celebrates in the Simple Christian Shabbat Celebration Guide immediately by signing up here.

 

A Simple Tradition

 

With A Massive Impact

 

Have you been curious about celebrating your own Christian Shabbat?

I would love to invite you over to my home.

 I promise you that you are going to love celebrating this with your friends and family

Why God Loves Food

Why God Loves Food

Kingdom around the Table Part 1Why God Loves Food    I love food.   Everyone who comes to my house and sits at my table often gets a pretty darn good meal (not my own words). After their satisfaction, they tend to ask me if I like cooking.   My response is always the...

How to Spend Money without Guilt

How to Spend Money without Guilt

Have you ever arrived at the end of the month wondering where all of your money has gone? Surely, you didn't mean to overspend, but the money has literally vanished from your bank account. Where did it all go? Is it even possible to spend money without guilt?   Our...

Frl.Blanka | Being Creative for God | Hand Lettering

Frl.Blanka | Being Creative for God | Hand Lettering

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Frl.Blanka (or Isa) and I met a couple months ago in beautiful Heidelberg. She is credited to introducing...

An Awkward Photoshoot and Revealing God’s Heart

An Awkward Photoshoot and Revealing God’s Heart

Have you ever stood in front of the camera and tried to smile naturally? Yeah, it doesn't work. At least not for me. The pictures my hubby takes of me always seem like I have plastered a smile to my face. He always tells me to stop it, and smile properly. My body and...

The Work at Home Super Bundle

The Work at Home Super Bundle

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.     Are you like me and want to stay home and be with your family as much as you can, but you want to...

Stewardship of Time, Talents and Food

Stewardship of Time, Talents and Food

Welcome to the first of my Spotlight Series. Where we get to meet Jesus loving, inspiring, and creative people.   I'm really happy to introduce you to my first guest of the series, Amanda from Maple Alps. She's a fellow Canadian, and also married to a German speaker...

Three Things to Know about Biblical Hospitality

Three Things to Know about Biblical Hospitality

Kingdom around the Table

Part 2
Three Things to Know about Biblical Hospitality

This week it is my great pleasure to hand over the proverbial reigns to my friend Amanda from Maple Alps who is going to give us a 101 on biblical hospitality.

Last week we talked about Why God Loves Food as an introduction to the Kingdom Around the Table Series. 
In this series we look into the Bible to see what role food and hospitality play in proclaiming and experiencing the Kingdom of God.

 

 

What do you think of when you hear the word, “Hospitality”?

I’m sure a few things may cross your thoughts like perfect Pinterest-worthy table settings and the latest mason jar craft. Maybe the South comes to mind with their famous Southern Hospitality, or finally getting to use that fancy wedding set you got years ago. I must admit: I thought the same. Since I was young, I would pour over home magazines, oohing and ahhing over all the pretty things that could house delicious meals (who am I kidding? I still do that from time to time). When I threw a party, I threw a party, going all out with decor and matching dishes and sometimes thematic scapes that would impress even Joanna Gaines (okay, maybe not that great, but you get the picture).

 

When the topic of Biblical Hospitality came  up, I had no idea what that was. I had taken one of those spiritual gifts test and had gotten hospitality as one and I did not know what that meant. I decided to dig a little deeper.

Here are just a few things I found in the Bible about hospitality (all verses are from the English Standard Version):

 

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

Hebrews 13:2

“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

1 Peter 4:9

 

“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”

Romans 12:13

“She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.”

Proverbs 31:20

“…and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts”

Acts 2:46

“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me”

Matthew 25:35

 

 

It is tempting to get discouraged in times like today when social media shows picture-perfect homes and tablescapes. It’s tempting to just give up and not even bother trying unless your party is Instagram-worthy.

 

With the Bible being so clear on the importance of each of us showing hospitality, I felt it important to not only practice it, but help others do so as well. Today, I want to share with you just three things to know about Biblical Hospitality. I hope it is practical for you and will encourage you as you move forward in blessing others!

1. It Is For Everyone and Yields Great Joy

We are to show hospitality to everyone we meet – not just our family and friends. Hospitality requires vulnerability and obedience. Some of the best and most memorable visits are messy and unexpected. Sometimes showing hospitality is even unwanted! I’ve had many a time, especially because I’ve devoted my life to ministry, where people have shown up at the door, or plans have been made very last minute. I’m quite type A and like to have things perfectly in order. When I’m tempted to turn people down or shrink away, I remember Christ’s example of embracing everyone. It is always a blessing when I choose to follow His way.

 

Although the practice of hospitality asks the sacrifice of our time, our needs and our resources, it is rewarded with great joy. There is not much that is more energizing and fulfilling than serving others. You just need to be willing!

2) Hospitality is Not the same as Entertaining

 

There is no mention of Pinterest or picture-perfect table spreads in any definitions of hospitality. Of course, there is nothing wrong with making things beautiful for our guests (and we absolutely should create pleasant and warm atmospheres for them), but is your motivation true hospitality, or just showing off?

 

Remember: entertaining is to impress, but hospitality is to bless.

 

The best hospitality I’ve experienced has been with those who encourage me and welcome me without even trying. I’ve left their company refreshed and ready to pass their love to others. Be sure that people leave your company refreshed and invigorated for good, and pray that they have experienced Christ through you.

3) Hospitality Is About More Than Sharing a Meal

 

Hospitality can be risky, and is asked of all of us (remember those verses above?). While some of us may find it easier to do than others, we are all called to show Christ’s love and hospitality – it can be (and should be!) a part of our lives.

 

Being aware of the needs of others is a huge way to show this. Pray with others. Encourage them. Listen to them! Yes, give them a meal if that is how you are ministering to them. Meeting needs in a practical way is truly hospitable – would we not want the same to be shown to us?

Hospitality is for us to show God’s love to others. God calls us to it, and the rewards are eternal. We have been blessed so we can bless others. Withholding hospitality will hinder our joy.

 

 

How do you show hospitality? What are some things you struggle with when doing so? Does it come easily to you?

 

 

 

Amanda Walter is a teacher, writer, wife to a pastor, and mom to a cat. In her spare time, she enjoys photography, sipping tea, and trying to keep succulents alive.

Why God Loves Food

Why God Loves Food

Kingdom around the Table Part 1Why God Loves Food    I love food.   Everyone who comes to my house and sits at my table often gets a pretty darn good meal (not my own words). After their satisfaction, they tend to ask me if I like cooking.   My response is always the...

How to Spend Money without Guilt

How to Spend Money without Guilt

Have you ever arrived at the end of the month wondering where all of your money has gone? Surely, you didn't mean to overspend, but the money has literally vanished from your bank account. Where did it all go? Is it even possible to spend money without guilt?   Our...

Frl.Blanka | Being Creative for God | Hand Lettering

Frl.Blanka | Being Creative for God | Hand Lettering

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Frl.Blanka (or Isa) and I met a couple months ago in beautiful Heidelberg. She is credited to introducing...

An Awkward Photoshoot and Revealing God’s Heart

An Awkward Photoshoot and Revealing God’s Heart

Have you ever stood in front of the camera and tried to smile naturally? Yeah, it doesn't work. At least not for me. The pictures my hubby takes of me always seem like I have plastered a smile to my face. He always tells me to stop it, and smile properly. My body and...

The Work at Home Super Bundle

The Work at Home Super Bundle

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.     Are you like me and want to stay home and be with your family as much as you can, but you want to...

Stewardship of Time, Talents and Food

Stewardship of Time, Talents and Food

Welcome to the first of my Spotlight Series. Where we get to meet Jesus loving, inspiring, and creative people.   I'm really happy to introduce you to my first guest of the series, Amanda from Maple Alps. She's a fellow Canadian, and also married to a German speaker...

Why God Loves Food

Why God Loves Food

Kingdom around the Table

Part 1
Why God Loves Food

 

 

I love food.

 

Everyone who comes to my house and sits at my table often gets a pretty darn good meal (not my own words). After their satisfaction, they tend to ask me if I like cooking.

 

My response is always the same, “I don’t really like to cook, but I really like to eat!”

This is why I cook.

 

After I moved to Germany, I realized, to my dismay, that there was a significant lack of fast food restaurants. It was also considerably more expensive to eat out. The stores also didn’t have my go to meals – Campbell’s Soup, pasta sauce, frozen perogies and pre-shredded cheddar cheese, salad dressing in a bottle. What was this poor, young Canadian girl to do?

 

Since I was hungry for yummy food, I was forced to roll up my sleeves and learn to cook – the hard way: Trial and error.

 

I cringe at one of my first attempts at “Lemon Cream Chicken”.
How was I supposed to know that adding the lemon into the cream would cause the sauce to instantly curdle!?
Gag.
I’m feeling a wee bit sorry for my husband right now.

 

The good news is is that out of my cooking efforts, I developed skills and abilities I never had before. Thus, I can proudly say now: I can cook!

 

Today, I am very happy to spoil people at my table with my delicious food. If you find yourself passing through our neck of the woods, be welcome to come by for a meal at our table!

As my cooking skills grew, so did my confidence to feed people (besides my husband and myself). With that, I dove down deeper into the meaning of hospitality and God’s intention with meals.

I have concluded that indeed, God loves food. Let’s see a few reasons why.

 

Food, Not a Means to an End

 

It was only when I started really truly cooking that I began to realize that God actually had specific intentions for food.
It’s tempting to understand the body as simply a complex machine that runs on a continual balance of calories, fat, and vitamins.
Oh! I myself have indeed been guilty of just cramming in a mouthful of bagel nutrients in order to be on my way to do more important things.
But this was not God’s intention, and we can see this confirmed even in scientific research.

 

Slow Eating Benefits

Did you know that according to a study in the British Medical Journal slow eating can help us digest and absorb nutrients better, lose weight, reduce risk of food poisoning, and improve oral health?

Me neither. But when I did start eating slower, a phenomenal thing happened: I could taste butter for the first time!

Food and Mental Health

Did you know that food plays an important role regarding mental health?

The body of evidence linking diet and mental health is growing at a rapid pace. As well as its impact on short and long-term mental health, the evidence indicates that food plays an important contributing role in the development, management and prevention of specific mental health problems such as depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease.

We can see here that food is not just the means to keep us going, but our partner for the physical and mental health we all desire. This is one reason why it is good to be mindful of what we consume.

 

The Power of a Meal

 

God, oddly enough, regards humans in a really trendy way – holistically.
It’s like he understood that each part of the human was somehow all intimately interconnected . That means that even food for him is no side subject. Just observing his creation firsthand we see that he designed it with colour, shape, texture, flavour, and smell. Why might that be?

 

What I find intriguing is how food can affect each one of us.

 

Smelling Memories

 

Last year, I watched a series on Netflix called Chef’s Table. What was so powerful was that the chefs shared how their journey with food began. Interestingly, it was almost always at home, in their grandmothers’ kitchen, or with another family member.
Have you ever smelled something and it instantly brought you back to a fond memory? This has happened to me many times. I wonder if it is the same with these chefs. Perhaps it was a time where they felt secure, or safe, or maybe it was a moment where they learned what love was like. I wonder if, in their artistry, they try to recreate those moments that so impacted them.

 

 

Remember History: The Passover Meal

 

 An example in the Bible of how God uses a meal to capture his peoples’ hearts and remind them of a memory is the Passover meal.

 

In that meal, the Jews remember that they were slaves, and that God freed them from the hardships of Egypt. Each part of the Passover meal has symbolic significance. For instance, there is salty water to taste and remember the tears of the slaves, the unleavened bread to remind them they had to leave so quick there was no time for bread to rise, and then lamb bone to remember the sacrificed lamb and the blood that protected them from the angel of death.

 

In fact, all through the Bible we catch glimpses of God’s heart for food and hospitality intertwined amidst his interaction with mankind and within his grand narrative.

 

God uses the tastes, smells and textures of food to remind us of him in ways that are deeper than words.

 

 

God loves Food – and Hospitality

 

Recently, our family was on the road traveling for a couple of weeks. Our first stop was at the OJC- The Reichenberg Fellowship, a community of Christians a couple hours away who work and live together. We have been intrigued with the idea of community, so we thought we would visit them with a few of our questions.
The first thing we encountered was a piece of paper laid out on our welcome table. It was a schedule of visits. Each day we would visit a different family from the community for meals, and cake throughout the week. I was astounded. We are by no means a small family! They each took time to cook for us, and spend time with us amidst their working week.

I felt so honoured.

Our youngest also celebrated his second birthday during that time. One of the families got word of it, and threw him a little birthday breakfast! Complete with some balloons and a small gift.

I felt so loved.

 Just for this reason, God loves food and hospitality. When we sit down together, we catch a glimpse of his heart.
It is a powerful way to honour and love one another.

 It is a time where we can share with one another our thoughts, ideas, problems, dreams.

Meals break down barriers. They put you at ease, and construct a platform for communication.

 

A Gateway to Relationship

 

I’m thankful now that I moved to Germany – the land that lacks fast food.
Perhaps if I were still in Canada, I would still be stuck wolfing down a can of Campbell’s soup in less than a minute without any further thoughts.

Through my being forced to cook God has shown me how having an open home, preparing a meal or a feast, can speak to people louder than words.

Food is a gateway to relationship, and as some good friends of mine like to say, “It’s all about relationship with God.”

 

 

 

Do you Like Food and the Bible?

 

Me too!

Join me as we spend a few weeks looking through the Bible at the role of food and hospitality in proclaiming and experiencing the Kingdom of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why God Loves Food

Why God Loves Food

Kingdom around the Table Part 1Why God Loves Food    I love food.   Everyone who comes to my house and sits at my table often gets a pretty darn good meal (not my own words). After their satisfaction, they tend to ask me if I like cooking.   My response is always the...

How to Spend Money without Guilt

How to Spend Money without Guilt

Have you ever arrived at the end of the month wondering where all of your money has gone? Surely, you didn't mean to overspend, but the money has literally vanished from your bank account. Where did it all go? Is it even possible to spend money without guilt?   Our...

Frl.Blanka | Being Creative for God | Hand Lettering

Frl.Blanka | Being Creative for God | Hand Lettering

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Frl.Blanka (or Isa) and I met a couple months ago in beautiful Heidelberg. She is credited to introducing...

An Awkward Photoshoot and Revealing God’s Heart

An Awkward Photoshoot and Revealing God’s Heart

Have you ever stood in front of the camera and tried to smile naturally? Yeah, it doesn't work. At least not for me. The pictures my hubby takes of me always seem like I have plastered a smile to my face. He always tells me to stop it, and smile properly. My body and...

The Work at Home Super Bundle

The Work at Home Super Bundle

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.     Are you like me and want to stay home and be with your family as much as you can, but you want to...

Stewardship of Time, Talents and Food

Stewardship of Time, Talents and Food

Welcome to the first of my Spotlight Series. Where we get to meet Jesus loving, inspiring, and creative people.   I'm really happy to introduce you to my first guest of the series, Amanda from Maple Alps. She's a fellow Canadian, and also married to a German speaker...

How to Spend Money without Guilt

How to Spend Money without Guilt

Have you ever arrived at the end of the month wondering where all of your money has gone? Surely, you didn’t mean to overspend, but the money has literally vanished from your bank account. Where did it all go? Is it even possible to spend money without guilt?

 

Our single income family has experienced years of living paycheck to paycheck, and large chunks of time without even that (lots of God miracles in those years!). After paying all the bills, we operated on a “spend as needed” basis.

 

The problem with this is: You can always spend money.
A “spend as needed” basis just invites need.
Sure you don’t have a donut maker, the money may be there, but do you really need it?

 

Needs end where the money ends.

 

If you have no plan, you’ll have no money.

 

When it came time to buy the kids new clothes, or when my husband and I just wanted to go out and have a coffee date together, it was always seasoned with guilt. I constantly felt the nagging lack of money.

 

In part, this feeling came from my childhood  where money was sparse. But there was another problem which we’ll look at next.

 

Who Does it Belong to?

 

At some point, I just got sick of living from paycheck to paycheck and was wondering if God had another way. I felt convicted that we were not stewarding his gifts wisely, but squandering them instead. After all, the money didn’t really belong to us, but God!

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Ps. 24

 

So we see the heart of it here, the problem is realizing our responsibility and lack of vision and overview.

This is incredibly important if we desire to take care of something we have received (which in this case, is money). This is one principle of biblical stewardship. The money doesn’t belong to us, it’s God’s, and we’re to use it in a way that honours him. And finances are important to Jesus!

So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? Luke 16:11

The money in our bank accounts is not the true riches, but what we do with it has eternal importance!

No Purpose = No Money

One major culprit of spending guilt: The absence conscious spending and saving.   Without a plan, our family just spent the money as it came.

After feeling convinced that we needed to change our financial habits I browsed Pinterest and looked for different money solutions. I came across a cash based system using envelopes. I believe that this method was made popular by Dave Ramsey. My husband and I watched a few of his teachings via Right Now Media. I would really suggest  anyone interested in a biblical perspective of finances to check this out.

This got me started on writing out every single thing we bought and setting up my envelope system.

Three Ways to Begin Controlling Your Money

Get an Overview

Write every single thing down that you spend for three months. To the penny. Though this takes effort and persistence, you will get an overview of just where your money is going. Eventually, by looking through this list you will get a good idea of where your money is going. Where can you cut back? Where should you save more?

Cast a Vision

Then, you can think about the things that are missing. Are there goals you’d like to reach? Perhaps things that you want, or want? Check out the free budgeting resources here.

Fill up Envelopes

The benefits to having all your budgeting categories separated into envelopes, is that it’s incredibly satisfying to fill them up with cash. And when it’s empty… it’s empty. There is something much more impacting when you’re faced with an empty envelope, compared to an empty online bank account. Oh, that novel feeling of physical money. We put more thought into whether we should actually hand over that 20, than when we flippantly swipe a card.

Planning for the Unexpected

Before our financial shift, when the unexpected happened, we scrambled!

Here’s a little secret though: the unexpected always happens!

This was a critical change in our spending habits. Once I realized that you can plan for the unexpected I started setting aside money for new appliances, car repairs, and house repairs.

I have to tell you, this has made life SO MUCH EASIER! We always have at least a bit of money set aside for those emergencies, so they are no longer emergencies.

Spending without Guilt

Before my envelope system, I struggled every time I spent money on something that wasn’t absolutely “necessary”. After reviewing my budget, I saw that I wanted to be able to buy clothes for my kids and myself.  We wanted to go away on vacations as a family. We didn’t eat out that often, but when we do I want it to be a nice experience. Therefore, I budgeted for that.

I budget for all of those things.
That means, I have a monthly budget for clothes, entertainment, and savings for vacation. When I need to buy some clothes, I do it, the money is there, it’s for clothes.

NO MORE GUILT!

 

Because I have an eye on our spending, and saving, I feel a lot more freedom.
Freedom to be generous, freedom to plan for our future, and freedom to purchase what is needed and what we would like.

Ultimately, my desire is that God looks at that all and says, Yes! Well done, good and faithful servant!

How do you feel about your spending? Do you have other methods that have worked for you? Comment below and tell us about them!

 

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Welcome to the second post of my Spotlight Series. Where we get to meet Jesus loving, inspiring, and creative people.

Today I’m excited to introduce you to Mary from Gallagher Farm and Faith.

She is going to share with us some really awesome tips including how to declutter our minds!

 

 The Spotlight on:
Mary from Gallagher farm and faith.

Hi, I’m Mary I’m living my lifelong dream on my farm in central Texas. I love to simplify so I have time in my life for what’s important to me. Creating a simple, full life didn’t just happen. It took courage, vision, and some strategic planning. I’ve always had a knack for finding my way through the clutter and distractions. As an experienced coach and educator I know how to help others do the same. I help women love the simple life so they can live an authentic life of faith.

What are you reading right now? How did it get into your hands?

Right now I am reading two books. I typically have one I read in the morning during my reading and prayer time and one I read that has been highly recommended by peers. The Sacred Slow by Alicia Britt Chole found its way onto my Kindle as a recommendation from Kindle. I was introduced to Chole’s work through a member of my Facebook group. I didn’t realize it at the time but I had already downloaded her book! The Sacred Slow is a slow and intentional journey for women to discover beautiful things about themselves and God. Chole believes that our fast-food faith leaves us spiritually malnourished and we need to take time to allow our faith to develop deeply and gracefully.

 

The other book I am reading is Tribes – We Need You to Lead Us, by Seth Godin. Tribes is about leadership in the modern age. Godin makes you think about what it means to be a leader and how the internet has broken down barriers for people to connect around the world. The one thing that remains constant is the need for leaders who are willing to be brave, take risks, and put others first. It’s challenging and enlightening for anyone who believes they have a message to convey.

 

What inspired you to start Gallagher Farm and Faith?

I’ve know for almost 20 years that God had made me to be a writer but I let life get in the way. As I began to simplify my life, I heard Him wooing me back to the life of the writer. As soon as my heart and mind said “yes” I unexpectedly was laid off from my stressful job. I saw that as the writing on the wall (no pun intended!) to jump into the writing life full time. Losing my job was one of the best days of my life!

 

I needed a framework for my blog and found that many of my friends were intrigued with my sudden departure from the fast-paced suburban lifestyle to the simple farm life. Moving across country and starting over seemed to capture their attention and they were eager to know more about how I started following my dreams and my adjustment to the simple life. I decided that Gallagher Farm and Faith would capture the essence of simplifying and the charm of farm life that connected to my readers. The Simple Life Simple Faith tagline sums up the journey I’ve been on and the journey I hope to take my readers on as they pursue an authentic life of faith.  

On your homepage you have the verse, ” A pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life. ” Proverbs 13:7 (The Message)

Why did you choose it?

I chose this verse from the Message translation because it exemplified all that I was walking away from (a showy life) and all that I wanted to find (a full life). As with much of God’s ways, this truth is the opposite of the world’s ways. I had tried to fill my life with more – a better job, a bigger house, fancier vacations, status and position – only to find myself slowly dying on the inside. I had lost all joy, my sense of purpose, peace, and inspiration. My life looked full on the outside but on the inside it felt empty. I was gripped with an overwhelming desire to simplify, to strip back all the stuff and the pretense, and get back to basics. That’s the journey I’ve been on and as I take things away, I find room for the things that truly matter and fulfill. As I settle my intentions on those things my life becomes fuller and more meaningful.

How do you understand the stewardship of your time and talents? How does this look practically in your life now?

One of the parables that has become real to me is the parable of the talents. Traditionally used to talk about money and investment, I see this parable as a way to understand how God has gifted each one of us and that His investment in us is the talents and gifts he’s given us.

 

For the last several years at my job I had this nagging sense of wasting my time and talents. I was good at what I did and passionate about the work, but I realized someone else could do my job just as well and probably better. What nobody else could do was write like me. I began to understand that while I was using some of my skills and talents, I wasn’t stewarding them the best that I could. And I wasn’t using my time to invest in people (God’s most precious commodity) or in things of eternal value. I knew I needed to care about what God cared about and that He had placed desires, passions, and gifts in me that were waiting to be used in a more productive way.

 

My life is now focused around quality time with God. I spend vast amounts of time in prayer, reading His word, and seeking Him. For me this is the center of all I do. I take care of my health, I rest when I need to, and I say no to things that I know will cause me unhealthy stress. Our lifestyle has altered a bit so I can stay home and write but it’s a tradeoff neither my husband nor I mind because I am a better person when I write. I am now able to volunteer and invest in friendships. I’ve committed to not looking back at what was and to not compare my life with anyone else’s.

 

Living the simple life gives me time to reflect in order to make adjustments when I see myself getting off track. I guard my time carefully and I keep my a vision board visible that reminds me of what is important to me.

 

This quote keeps me in check and reminds of where I never want my life to go again: “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” – Henry David Thoreau.

 

I want to be like Erma Bombeck and be able to say when I stand before God, “I used everything you gave me.  I left it all on the table.”

You mention “mental clutter” on Gallagher Farm and Faith, I can’t tell you how many times my head feels like a jumble or to-dos, decisions, information. I love that you call it clutter!

Could you share a couple of practical things we can do to unclutter our brains?

 

Gosh – yes – for me it was the mental clutter more than anything that left me exhausted at the end of the day. I was never able to rest – my mind was running constantly and all the undone items on my To-Do List haunted me day and night.  Depending on our personality type, this type of clutter can be harder to manage and more damaging than it is for others. I am The Perfectionist on the Enneagram so for me to leave things undone is stressful and demoralizing.

 

It’s clear we live in an age of overload. We are bombarded with images and sounds and things that vie for our attention.

I recommend several things to tame the mental clutter:

First

Step back and examine all you are doing. Keeping the overwhelm and stress at bay is going to be virtually impossible if you are overcommitted and doing too much. I talk about this in my post called The Secret to a Balanced Life.

 

Secondly


Clear out commitments that are optional. Free up calendar space to create margin. When you have margin, you have breathing room, and space for overflow. Knowing you have some time during the day to catch up or spend quality time on a project relaxes your mind from having to worry about it.

 

Keep everything in one place.

If you have all your appointments in one calendar, you will worry less that you are forgetting something. I also like to put each week’s appointments on a whiteboard as a visual reminder. This gives me a level of comfort that allows me to stop stressing that I will forget something.

 

Allow for silence whenever possible.

Turn off the radio when you are in the car. Keep the television off during the day. If you have children, set parameters around when noisy things can be turned on. Hearing the news or grating voices on the TV first thing in the morning can set you on edge all day and fill up your mind with words and images that crowd out the whisper of God’s voice. Take walks in silence. Just listen to the sounds around you. Our minds are like a bucket, we can only fill them with so much and they will be stuffed.

 

Choose carefully what you read.

Take some time to weed out your newsletters and email updates. Only subscribe to those things that add value to your life, that make you feel refreshed after reading them, pitch those things that make you feel stressed. Social Media and screen time – this is a biggie and so much to say. I’ll direct you to this post for that.  Silence and solitude are scarce commodities in our society so you will need to be intentional about working them into your life – especially if you have a busy family!  

 

I also make lists for everything.

Not as a pressure to do but as a way of getting things out of my head. Once I write something down, it loses its grip over me. I can relax and let that thought leave my mental space. Journaling is much the same. If you have trouble sleeping at night because your mind won’t stop, keep a notebook next to your bed and write everything down. I promise you will sleep better!

 

Ultimately it comes down to trust. Trust God that you are doing exactly what you need to be doing in each season of life. Don’t get ahead of Him. Life flows smoothly when we are in tune with the rhythms of His grace, but we must make room to hear His voice and study His ways or the wisdom He longs to impart to us will remain out of our reach.


Thank You

 

Thank you so much Mary for your time, your wisdom. Speaking on behalf of all the young, frazzled moms out there, we need a voice like yours, with your experience, to encourage us and impart wisdom.

Check out her blog below, if you haven’t already.

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