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One Thousand Gifts ~ Mother’s Day Give Away!

{This post may contain affiliate links of items that I personally have used and loved. Thank you for your support of this blog and our family by purchasing through our links.}

{this post contains affiliate links, thank you for supporting this blog!}

UPDATE: give away closed!
WINNER: Jenn from Treasuring Life’s Blessings

It’s no secret that Ann Voskamp is one of my favorite authors.  Every Monday I try to share my gift list that keeps on and on growing…I’ve counted more than 3,600 gifts here on my blog!! Little love letters from my Savior…he keeps giving and giving and loving and loving. I’ve read her book, One Thousand Gifts, twice now. And I’m in the middle of her devotional. So, when I was approached about having a give away of this book, One Thousand Gifts, I jumped at the chance!! To share this book with one of YOU?? Yes, please! :)

Has my life radically changed since reading this book? No.
Have all my problems disappeared? No.

So what is so great about this book? Learning to be thankful in the hard moments is what is changing me…changing my perspective…making me a more truly grateful person. My life is not radically different, but my perspective is. 

There is always something to be thankful for…
In the midst of heartache, He is faithful.
In the midst of a lonely day, He is friend.
In the midst of the valley of the shadow of death, He is comfort.
In the midst of chaos, He is peace.

I am so excited to be able to gift one of these precious books with you, one of my dear readers!! Just in time for Mother’s Day!!

Ann Voskamp is the author of the New York Times bestselling book, One Thousand Gifs: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You AreShe is also the wife of a farmer, the home-educating mother to a half-dozen kids and a storyteller who keeps a camera shutter close. Ann writes about gritty grace and a magnificent God at

Give Away Details:
1. Leave me a comment telling me one hard thing you’ve learned to be thankful for.
2. Leave a comment by Friday, May 2nd, and I’ll post the winner that day.
3. If you’d like an extra entry, share on facebook, twitter, google +.
4. Please leave an email so that I can contact you if you should win!

Making plans {frugality & contentment}

{This post may contain affiliate links of items that I personally have used and loved. Thank you for your support of this blog and our family by purchasing through our links.}

So, this is my year of contentment. What started as a simple breath prayer begging God to give me joy in the here and now, contentment in the plenty we do have & peace with who I am in Christ…has bled over into other areas of my life.

I think contentment & simplicity go hand in hand. I recently shared about reading Almost Amish & The Dirty Life and how I long for a more “simple” life. But, what exactly does that look like? Well, for starters, I don’t have a formula for you…there aren’t 3 easy steps to leading a simple life. Bummer, right?

I think God’s path for each of our lives is unique…we all have our burdens, we all have our unique families, we all have to learn these lessons in the context of our own lives. So, in sharing these blog posts on contentment & simplicity, I’m not sharing a formula, I’m sharing from my heart in the places God is leading me…sharing in an effort to be transparent and in an effort to bring some accountability for myself.

When Edie asked us to share posts on our plans for this year {linking up here,} being intentional, making “time” work for us…I thought this would be a great time to outline some of my thoughts & plans for this year…some of which I’ve shared and some of which I just need to “get down on paper.”

I have shared about how I’m terrible at sticking to a budget. I’m not a huge spender, but it’s the $3 candle and $5 clearance shirt that KILL us every month.  Well, I have news in this arena…

JANUARY HAS BEEN A HUGE SUCCESS IN THE BUDGET CATEGORY. Woot. Thank you for letting me share my success and excitement.

Ways we are saving money, living frugally: 

  • menu planning ~ January’s meals, February’s meals
  • not going into walmart! ha! I know, so silly, but when I don’t go in, I don’t spend the money.  Thankfully, my accountant/frugal husband is happy to go grocery shopping for me because he knows he is saving himself money. :)
  • shopping thrift stores when we have a need – I love thrift stores, but even in these places I can “nickel and dime us” to death, ya know? I always seem to come home with things we never needed to begin with. (but hey, at least it was only .50 right?!) So, when we needed a few more measuring cups, I went and found them for .50 at the thrift store instead of $5-10 new at the store!
  • cooking more ~ ugh. I wish I enjoyed being in the kitchen, but this is a true sacrifice of love for my husband and children. Not that my children appreciate it. ha! But, our budget certainly does! See meal plans for Jan & Feb above.
  • Not only am I trying to cook and plan dinners every night, but I’m making our granola, snacks, yogurt – using this method with this maker. The trick to the yogurt is to add dried milk to your recipe!!
  • Using Dr. Bronner’s soap for many, many things: body wash, making my own liquid soap, laundry soap, etc. This soap is frugal, fair trade AND no chemicals. Better for us on all accounts. :)
  • making my own lotion & lip balm with coconut oil l- these are 2 products I love but don’t love spending a lot of money on the good, quality items. These items I’ve been making at home are SO cheap in comparison.
  • shopping with Azure Standard for many things we already use – see if there is a local drop-point in your area!! We have one in Knoxville and these are excellent deals on organics and produce! I’m getting ORGANIC apples for less than regular apples at walmart.
  • not using anymore paper towels or clorox wipes – this has actually been a challenge for me. We used clorox wipes for EVERYTHING. But, it has been fulfilling to use things from around the house – making rags from old t-shirts, using knitted washcloths, etc. I am using a vinegar/water spray to clean most things. It hasn’t really created extra laundry yet, as I just throw in the used rags when I do towels. I’m hoping I get more used to this as time goes on. We’ve used cloth napkins for quite awhile now, that wasn’t as hard to implement for some reason.
  • simple things like taking a big glass of sweet tea in the van with me on our day out of the house instead of going through the drive-thru. Trying to bring snacks and such with us so we aren’t tempted.
Being intentional about cultivating a heart of contentment:
    • memorizing scriptures that I can breathe, speak & pray throughout my day
    • starting each day with a thankful heart
    • not shopping nearly as much – just not going in the stores is huge for my heart
    • deleting a few blogs from my google reader – I love blogs. Lots of blogs…most of them encourage me, but a few of them leave me wanting a bigger home, a prettier home, more, more, more…so I’m choosing to read more blogs that encourage me toward a frugal and simple life instead of those that discourage me and leave me feeling discontent. A few of my new favorites are: Homestead Revival, Like Mother Like Daughter, Backyard Farming
    • reading books that motivate me toward simplicity. books such as:

Simple AbundanceAlmost AmishThe Dirty LifeHannah Coulter

So, leading a simple and frugal life – learning to be content with what we have – is not easy. I’m learning very quickly that simple does NOT equal easy. It takes a lot of work and intentionality. But it’s fulfilling work. It does my heart good to know I’m feeding my husband and children better foods. It does my heart good to know I’m saving more of my husband’s hard earned money. It does my heart good to know and reflect on the fact that we are blessed.
Counting my blessings has such an impact on my heart and my perspective. Continuing to count…day after day…to see God’s faithfulness in our lives…to name the blessings one by one…counting these gifts is truly cultivating a heart of contentment in me. I’m so thankful. 

Start each day…

{This post may contain affiliate links of items that I personally have used and loved. Thank you for your support of this blog and our family by purchasing through our links.}
{this is a picture of my sponsored child’s home & kitchen on the left ~ in Belize. 
This picture is just a small reminder of how blessed we are in this country and in our home.}

As I have prayed about my word of the year {contentment} I have been prompted to begin looking for practical ways to cultivate a habit and heart of contentment in my life.

God is already drawing my heart to Himself and showing me just what contentment looks like.

I pray that with each day in 2013, I will learn to be more and more content in Christ.

I want to be content with who He made me to be. This is a big one for me. As I have struggled with depression off and on in the past, I have been angry at God for giving me the “melancholy” personality. I’m too sensitive. I’m too weepy. I wear my feelings on my sleeve and God has shown me, in the past few years, that He created me with this sensitive heart for a reason. I can’t say that I fully accept this with a heart full of gratitude each and everyday. But, I’m getting there. :)

I want to be content with the many blessings He has given me…and not always wanting more. I find myself wanting more from myself, more from my children, more for my home, more this, more that. I want to be perfectly happy and content with the MULTITUDE of blessings He has already bestowed and not always looking for the next best thing!!

I want to be content in Christ. I want Jesus to be my joy. I want to not let my circumstances determine my attitude. I don’t want my children’s arguments and complaining to ruin my day. I want to learn to fully BELIEVE that no one can rob me of my joy if it comes from Christ alone.

So, what does this look like on a practical level?? Well, that is one thing I will be exploring this year with my word of the year. But, so far, while acknowledging that I do not have all the answers and this is very much a journey, God has impressed on my heart a few things…

Practical ways to cultivate contentment…

1. I want to start each day with a thankful heart. Truly, such a simple thing like counting my blessings has TREMENDOUS impact on my heart and my attitude. Right now I’m using this book. I’m physically writing down and counting my blessings in the mornings as I spend time praying and reading God’s Word. I want to continue this habit until it’s so natural I don’t even have to remind myself.
2. I want to memorize and recite and speak and pray Scriptures so much so that my heart overflows with the words of Christ and not the words of the enemy.
3. I am placing pictures, verses and reminders around my home as VISUAL reminders of these truths.
4. I am not going into stores as often. I am blessed with a husband who doesn’t mind grocery shopping (mostly because he is the frugal one and knows he will spend less! ha!) so the LESS I go in walmart, the LESS money I spend!!
5. When I have items in my amazon cart, I am leaving them a little longer to give me time to realize I don’t need it. ha!

Can you help me think of other ways to practically cultivate contentment in our hearts and homes? I’d love to hear your thoughts!! 

Continuing the counting, naming and numbering of my blessings…believing and trusting that a heart of gratitude truly does breed contentment! 
slow January days
wrapped in blankets, reading a book
hot cider
getting back to routine
new year. new planner.
mom bringing me a large sweet tea after a rough morning
playing scrabble with the family
playing boggle with papa and nana
getting a meal plan finished
working on more homemade recipes
sparkling grape juice on new year’s
starting a new Biblewith my kids (we’re starting in the NT, with Jesus birth)

#3443 – 3454

These are a few of my favorite things…

{This post may contain affiliate links of items that I personally have used and loved. Thank you for your support of this blog and our family by purchasing through our links.}

Last year I saw this fun idea on Nester’s blog…and while I never had a “favorite things” party in my home, I did share my favorite things here on the blog and lots of others did on their blogs too! So, we just had cyber space favorite things parties. :)

I thought I would share my favorites again this year….it’s fun to find new favorites!

Here’s Nester’s link for the Favorite Things Party 2012!! {Is it ok that I stole your graphic, Nester, since I’m linking up? I hope so!} :)

My favorite new socks. I love socks. I love cute socks. I know, I’m weird. On my birthday I got to go to a huge super target that’s over an hour away…and they had CUTE SOCKS  on sale big time!! I was super excited. :)

Found the links at Target!  I got these and these and these. The sale at this Target was 5 pairs for $10! can’t beat that for cute socks! ha!

Another new-ish favorite to me is Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap, dish soap and all purpose spray. This stuff smells soooooo good! Guess what? They don’t have it at our small town redneck walmart…but I found it at the huge super target on my birthday!! :) This hand soap in HONEYSUCKLE is amazing.

I am not trying to toot my own horn or anything (I didn’t come up with the recipe actually!!) But this new lotion I’ve been making is FABULOUS!! I have been using it consistently for weeks now, have made several batches and still love it so much!! I especially love that each jar is less than $1 when you divide up the costs!! :) And ya’ll, it literally takes MOMENTS to make this. I’m not lying. :) I’ve given quite a few as gifts now…I love giving homemade gifts!! This lotion really is one of my new favorites.

For our anniversary in September, we got a Keurig ! oh my, I never thought I would say I love a coffee pot. But, I do. :)

Along with our Keurig, I love the fact that we got the Ekobrew Cup, Refillable Cup. We do use the k-cups and have them on hand for company as well, but I try to use this refillable cup for my daily coffee. :) Less $$ this way!

What about favorite devotionals…well, Jesus Calling is still one of my all time favorite books ever. God continues to speak to me through this book in amazing ways and I’ve been using it for over a year. But, this year, I have a new devotional that I have also been reading that is FABULOUS…a new favorite! If you loved the book,One Thousand Gifts, you will love this also. And these are new devotionals – same theme on gratitude, but it isn’t just excerpts from her book, if that makes sense! And in the back of the book there are journaling pages for counting to 1000 gifts!! As you know, I’ve been counting my gifts here on my blog each Monday and am at more than 3,400!! Wowzers!! But I started in this journal also… each morning I take time to be thankful. :)

Honestly, counting these blessings…naming the gifts…has increased my faith and trust in God. To see in a tangible way the THOUSANDS of little gifts He has given me — oh, HOW HE LOVES US, friends!!

One Thousand Gifts Devotional: Reflections on Finding Everyday Graces (One Thousand Gifts Journal)