Prayer Project ~ {and a Grocery Conviction Guest Post}

I’m on day 3 of my 31-day Blogger Prayer Project and am loving it. Intentionally praying for these women fits in perfectly with my one-word for the year, but what I enjoy most about it is these women will know. That when I visit their blogs or chat with them on Twitter and say I will pray for them, I mean it. I truly do pray for them. And this gives me a chance to email them my actual prayer.

Would you like to participate? Visit here for details!

Today I am praying for my Twitter friend, Rebekah at Simply Rebekah. She blogs about living a frugal lifestyle, taking green baby steps, and all of life in between.

A couple of months ago, Rebekah put out a plea on Twitter for some blogger help. She was expecting her second child and wanted to take some form of maternity leave from her beautiful blog. But she still wanted to provide her readers something new to read and asked who was willing to do guest posts.

Rebekah blogs about a big passion of mine, one that I don’t blog about here, so I thought it was a perfect opportunity to share a bit of the practical me!

Over the last few years, I have been strongly convicted about my grocery shopping habits. I was a skilled coupon clipper back in the day. But my focus was in the wrong place. I was more concerned with the bottom line over what actual ingredients I was feeding my family.

Would you like to hear more? Visit Simply Rebekah HERE today and see how I maintained a tight budget while eating more natural.

If you don’t mind, I would like to share my prayer for dear Rebekah here.

Now may the God of peace, 
equip you with everything good for doing his will, 
and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, 
through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
(Hebrews 13:20-21)

Heavenly Father, I humbly come before You to lift up my friend Rebekah. What a joy it has been getting to know her over the last year. To see her striving to make the most of all You have given her. She has inspired me in more ways than one and I am honored to feel like I know her even though we have never met. 

Lord, what a blessing You have given her in baby Noah! Praise Your Name, there were no major complications and Noah is a happy, healthy baby. Father I ask that You be with Rebekah in a powerful way over this adjustment period. Give her the assurance she needs to know she is a mom chosen by You to raise up Your children, Grace and Noah. Help her, Lord, during these first few months as they all find their way in being a new family of 4.

May she feel Your loving embrace, Lord. Shower her with peace so she can sleep well when she has an opportunity. Holy Spirit, I ask you provide Rebekah with the discernment, wisdom, and confidence to parent these two precious ones. To God be the glory. 

Guide her as she blogs, Lord. As she helps all of us make the most of all You have given us. May Your gifts be honored in her place, Father.

Thank You, for what You are going to do through Rebekah. To You be all glory and honor as she seeks Your will for their lives. It is in Your name I pray, Jesus. Amen.

Friends, I would be honored if you would follow me over at Rebekah’s today. It’s always a little un-nerving sharing your personal self in another space. Would you comment over at Rebekah’s and let me know you stopped by? Simply CLICK HERE. Thank you! 

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Redeemed {And A Giveaway}

My hands were drenched in play-dough, colored markings, and confetti stuck on with glue droppings when the doorbell rang. My senses shifted from the task at hand as I noticed the familiar whirring of the delivery truck. My son joined in, trying to yell out the letters on the truck before it raced out of view. I sprang down the steps like it was Christmas morning. For I knew this package was for me. For me to share with you.

I had no idea what was inside, but I knew I was going to love it. For I had seen Dayspring’s Redeemed line online and was encouraged by the intent behind it. When (in)courage invited me to take part in the redeemed journey, I happily obliged.

The vase was opened first. It glistened in the sun breaking through storm clouds and I instantly knew what I wanted to place inside it. Hydrangeas. Full bloomed, color-dripping hydrangeas. But there are none to be found. Not yet anyway. I reached for a tall candle instead and my thoughts started stirring when I surrounded it with polished rocks.

For isn’t that what happens with redemption? We are polished clean by His scarred hand. Our ordinary is made extraordinary with His unfailing love and unfathomable grace.

My preschooler oohed and aahed alongside me and said “Mom, I’m so excited! You love rocks as much as I do! Can I pick some rocks to put in your beautiful thing?”

The long, thin, heavy box was next. When I opened it and saw the caption on the back, I was captivated.

Life is a patchwork of the meaningful things we keep with us…
daily reminders of where we’ve come from
and who our loving Heavenly Father says we are in Jesus.

And my finger traced along the lines of the patchwork design on the package. Inside it were amazing coasters glazed with glory. Perfectly selected Bible verses adorn each one. Except the one graced with one of my adored hymns: Blessed Assurance. And I scanned quickly to ensure my favorite stanza was on it:

♪♫ Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Saviour am happy and blest.
Watching and waiting, looking above,
filled with His goodness, lost in His love. ♪♫

Yes, this is my story. My song. One I am striving to live all the day long.

May you discover how to celebrate the way “God, in His generous grace, sews together every beautiful bit of our lives to form one masterpiece creation after another.” For every piece of every day is stitched together perfectly with grace. Every note of every lifesong is an essential part of the great score.

And so I choose to delight in the journey. I strive to get lost in His love. And as I sit down to play the hymn glazed on my new favorite coaster, I praise the One who chose to redeem me.

~~~~~ON TO THE GIVEAWAY~~~~~

Friends, Dayspring is allowing me to give away my favorite item of the entire Redeemed line to one of you! PLEASE NOTE: You do have to pay shipping.

Would you like to have this Redeemed “Beautiful in It’s Time” Tabletop Mirror?

I adore it. And would love for you to win.

TO ENTER: Simply leave a comment letting me know where the mirror would go if you won.

FOR ADDITIONAL ENTRIES: you may follow Simplystriving on Facebook, Twitter, or via email. Simply leave an additional comment(s) letting me know which one you chose. (Feel free to choose all if you don’t mind hearing me jabber.)

Winner will be chosen via random Friday, April 20th at 12pm Central Time. I will email the winner a coupon code to redeem your prize soon after.

UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed. Winner is #3: Kris! You can visit her at one of my favorite blogs: AlwaysAlleluia . Thank you, everyone, who participated!


{DISCLAIMER: I was given these products for my review, but was not told what to say. These thoughts are my own. There are numerous links in this post that allow you to purchase these items and more. Please know I am not an affiliate of anything and will not be rewarded if you do.}

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Humbled Appetite

Flickr Photo Credit: Meredith_Farmer

There was a time when I used to be comfortable in my own skin. A time when what I saw in the mirror was what was portrayed in a photo.

Somehow between then and now, I let things get out-of-order.

It began with a pity party. That I am certain. The moment life overwhelmed me, I lost sight of who could save me. I looked to myself and reached for the peanut butter and chocolate instead. And pasta. 2nds. Late night snacks.

When I finally crossed that line of comfort, I found reasons to accept it.

  • My Hashimoto’s makes it hard to lose weight. It’s not my fault.
  • I’m too tired to be active after work.
  • My body will never be the same after a baby anyway.
  • No one should have to go through a stillborn delivery. It’s amazing I’m not eating the whole carton of ice cream.

Oh yes, I was good at excuses. And I was also good at finding comfort in my discomfort.

My friend, Barbie, gave me the courage to share this part of my journey. And I am sharing the rest of this post over at her place today. Will you please join me over there and hold my hand? I would feel better if we did this together!

  • I’ll share how God hit me over the head with my very own Bible.
  • I’ll share my discovery of the manna lesson.
  • And I’ll share a bit of my path on the other side.

Will you join me?

Please CLICK HERE to read the rest of this post over at one of my favorite blogs.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

What Does Budgeting Really Mean?


budgeting
present participle of budg·et (Verb)

Verb:
  1. Allow or provide for in a budget: “the university is budgeting for a deficit”; “a budgeted figure of $31,000″.
  2. Provide (a sum of money) for a particular purpose from a budget.

Do you believe in diets? I’ve been told diets don’t work because you need a lifestyle change to lose properly and maintain your weight loss. It makes sense — most things aren’t effective long-term unless your lifestyle choices reflect the change you’re wanting to make. Same holds true for budgeting. The dictionary definition of budgeting doesn’t do the verb justice. Succeeding at budgeting has more to do with your lifestyle choices than allowing or providing for a dollar figure.

Our income(s) has fluctuated greatly over our 12+ years of marriage. So have our methods of budgeting. I can honestly say, regardless of method used, having more money doesn’t make it easier. The longer I try budgeting, the more I realize it has more to do with clearly defining my needs vs. wants, prioritizing accordingly, and being disciplined enough to follow through.

Budgeting comes down to lifestyle choices. Believe me, if done well, budgeting will affect your lifestyle. It might even define it. Once you understand what your greatest priorities are, the rest can feel like clutter.

SIDE NOTE: I remember reading a wonderful post awhile back from Amy at The Finer Things in Life regarding budgeting with discipline. It was so honestly refreshing, I would suggest you take a peek yourself. You may find it here.

Let me try to describe how budgeting works for me. 

My husband and I allot a certain amount each month for entertainment. Based on our priorities, this category has a relatively small budget. When we were determining how to spend this figure, we had to decide how important certain things were to us: Cable/movies, internet access, date nights, kids/family activities, smartphones, travel, play toys, vacations, etc.  Once we acknowledged which of these were most important to us, it became easy to cancel cable channels and survive sans smartphone for now. Our entertainment budget covers our needs with ease and portrays the lifestyle we want to lead. I couldn’t be more satisfied, even if I had that iPhone or The Food Network. Could I crunch the numbers so I could have them? Sure, but I decided they weren’t a priority to me. To say they don’t fit into my budget would be inaccurate, because they could. I have consciously made the choice not to have them.

I love chai teas. I love knowing I could pick one up no matter which direction from home I go. But I only pick one up a couple times a year. That $4 bill would add up in a hurry and I know I’d rather spend that money on better meals for my family or visiting extended family. Knowing that helps me drive by Starbucks with ease. I don’t blame my budget, I simply realize I have other things I need more.

My husband and I talk about our budget often. We like to know where we’re both at and determine if our needs have changed. We re-organize our priorities and brainstorm ways to save more, spend less, feel more fulfilled.

You don’t have to be a numbers person to do a budget well. You just have to know what’s most important to you and live accordingly. Once you decide where your money is best spent, stick to it. Own it. Make no excuses for how you’ve prioritized your needs. Be proud of how you spend your hard-earned income.

I wish the dictionary would show what budgeting really looks like. To me, it’s a reality check on your priorities and a discipline exercise on your expenditures.

How about you — What does budgeting mean to you? What do you struggle with most when it comes to budgeting? I’d love to hear and maybe delve into that further on another post. I might not have the answer, but we can strive to become better together.

Thanks for spending your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki