Tuesday, October 21, 2014

how to completely change your dressing habits {project 333}

I've been intrigued by the idea of creating a capsule wardrobe for a while now.  Nothing annoys me more than spending way to much time looking through all of my clothes and feeling frustrated because "I don't have anything to wear".

I've also felt a huge amount of guilt because of the amount of clothes and shoes that I own, most of which I don't really wear.

I've wanted to try a capsule wardrobe for a while and since we're moving in about two weeks I figured now would be the perfect time.

If you've never heard of a capsule wardrobe before, here's basically how it works:

1.  You pick a certain number of pieces of clothing to wear.  This number includes all outerwear and clothing (jackets, pants, skirts, dresses, sweaters, tops, scarves).

2.  Your capsule wardrobe also has to include shoes and jewelry.

3.  It's best to choose items that you can get a lot of wear out of.  For example, don't choose too many fancy clothes or uncomfortable shoes.

4.  Try to plan ahead and think of special occasions that may come up.

5.  Choose a time frame to take your challenge.

6.  Have fun!

I'm doing Project 333 and used Courtney's rules to choose my 33 items.  My challenge is to only wear these 33 items between now and December 31st.

(Not listed in the picture are my denim leggings, my 2 jackets, my earrings, my purse, and my pajamas.)

I've been doing this now for 5 days and so far, I really like it.  Here are some of my observations so far:

1.  It really has cut down on my time getting ready in the morning.  My dresser drawers are almost empty.

2.  I love that I am wearing different combinations of tops and pants than I ever have before because I have to.  It's really forcing me to see which items really deserve to stay in my wardrobe.

3.  I have noticed that I have to do laundry more often.

4.  I'm not really tempted to shop for clothing.  I used to check those deals websites every day.  I don't really want to right now because I am an instant gratification shopper.  I want to wear my new clothes right away and I can't right now, therefore I don't even want to look at clothes online or in the store.

5.  My entire closet is packed, which makes moving a little easier.

I really feel like this challenge is helping me to save money right now because I'm not tempted to shop but it's also going to help me in the long run because I know that it will change my shopping habits and force me to shop for items I am really going to get a lot of wear out of.

Have you ever tried building a capsule wardrobe?  How do you save money on clothing?  If you are interested in other posts I've written about real life savings, visit here.

Monday, October 20, 2014

9 Tips for Scoring Lots of Swagbucks

Have you heard of Swagbucks?  I'm sure you have.  It's an online rewards program where you earn rewards for doing easy things online.  When you've earned enough rewards, you can trade your bucks (SB) in for gift cards or other items from their store.  My favorite thing to trade my bucks for are Amazon gift cards.  Those things are like gold to me, especially this time of year.

I've been tearing it up with Swagbucks lately.  I really love this site.  It's one of the few internet sites that I utilize every single day.


I've used Swagbucks off and on over the past few years but only in the past two weeks have I really put some concentrated effort into using Swagbucks.  And my Swagbucks account has really grown. Here are the top ways that I earn Swagbucks.

1.  Open a Swagbucks account.  You do have to sign up for an account.  Use this link to do that.

2.  Open a new email address.  You will need to give an email address for a lot of the surveys and offers.  Make a new one that you can use just for this reason that way you are not clogging up your normal email.

3.  Download the Swagbucks app to your phone.  You can earn SB while waiting in the pick-up line for your child.

4.  Answer the daily poll everyday.  Seriously, it only takes 15 seconds and you earn 1 SB for doing that.

5.  Watch Swagbucks TV.  Click Watch at the top of the site and then click on the videos.  For every few videos you watch, you earn 3 SB.  I let the videos run in the background while I do other work online or around the house.  I literally let them run all day and just keep playing a new video whenever I walk by the computer.  So easy!

6.  Print coupons.  Click on Discover at the top of the site and then choose Coupons.  Print the coupons you need or will use and for every one you redeem at the store you earn 10 SB.

7.  Complete surveys.  This is part of my morning routine before the kids wake up.  Click on Answer at the top of the site and then choose Paid Surveys.  My favorite surveys are the ones in the Peanut Lab.  I've earned as much as 65 SB just for answering a few questions.  

8.  Shopping.  Under Special Offers at the top of the site.  Choose Payment Wall to see the offers that are available.  Kiwi Crate, Audible, and SnapFish are just a few of the offers that I've seen lately.  Earn swag bucks just for signing up for free trials or earn free things such as 100 free prints. Don't sign up for something you won't use or need.  I think about gifts when I look at these offers.

9.  Searching.  Use Swagbucks as your search engine.  You can earn SB just for typing in a search. I've earned as much as 18 SB before just searching for something I would have normally used the other search engines for.  Also, install the SB toolbar.  You'll get SB just for using that too.

There are so many ways online to earn money.  Swagbucks is my favorite right now.  I see the results immediately and it's so easy to exchange my SB for gift cards in the Rewards store.  My goal with Swagbucks is to earn $100 in Amazon gift cards so I can get some Christmas gifts for free.  I'm well on my way to that in just a few short weeks.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

real life savings {small changes that can add up}

I've been on this kick lately of trying to save as much money as I can.

I've actually been having a lot of fun working on this and finding ways to save money and put more money back into our monthly budget.

The thing about saving money is that everyone has a different way of doing it.  Literally, a Google search of "how to save money" gets you over 34 million results. That can make saving money a very overwhelming thing.  I'm not here to add to that.  These ideas and ways that I am saving money are not new.  It's just the ways that work for me, so I thought I'd like to share them.

There are two things I've learned about saving money

1.  It doesn't happen quickly.  It's something you have to work on consistently. But consistency builds habits that can really impact your future.

2.  You won't get rich.  Saving money begins with just a little bit, a little trickle.  But if you utilize it properly you can build that trickle into something larger.  You may never purchase a second home with these ideas but you may pay for your Christmas gifts.  That's the kind of real life savings I'm talking about.

Over the next week, I'm going to share 5 ideas or ways that I am saving money.

I hope you'll join me to learn more and perhaps save a little yourself.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Carry Camp

I've shared many times in this space about my infertility journey (here and here).  It's been a long, hard road that we've been traveling for over 11 years.  It's a journey that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy and it's a journey that so often feels so lonely.

Infertility is something I never saw coming.  It's something that struck me to my core and rocked the very foundation of my beliefs.  It's something that knocked the wind out of me and sent me to my knees on a regular basis.  And it's a road that I traveled all by myself.  Except for a few people in the last few years that I have met, I have traveled this journey by myself.  It's been a lonely journey and there have been times that I have just wanted someone, anyone to share my pain with.

I have lots of well-meaning friends but really, until you have struggled with infertility, it's a pain you simply cannot understand.

I am so excited today because a new ministry has started whose mission is "all about loving and empowering women who might feel broken, left out, and even useless in their struggle with infertility".  The Carry Camp is a ministry started by four women who have battled the pain of infertility and who seek to remind women of their true worth in spite of their diagnosis.

This ministry speaks to my heart and my prayer is that women everywhere who are struggling with the pain and loneliness of infertility will rise up, reach out and get involved.

I pray that you- the woman who has cried at every baby shower invitation you've received, the one who cringes as she walks past the baby aisle, the one who has spent so much money on pregnancy tests, the one who longs to feel like her body works correctly, the one who just wants hope- I pray for you. 

I pray that you would reach out and be encouraged by this new ministry.  

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  Today is a sad day for a lot of people.  But it can also be a good day.  It can be the day that you finally find hope and a community of women who will rally around you.  Women who are walking the same road.  Women who won't judge you or make you feel like you are a lesser woman because of your diagnosis.

Join in.  Get involved.  Redeem yourself with the truth of who God says you are.

Visit The Carry Camp.  They have so much good in store for this ministry.  From daily scripture and weekly devotionals to truth to battle the lies of the enemy.  They will also be starting small groups soon and they also have an actual Camp in the works for next year.

The Carry Camp

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New Bibles

I love new books, but new bibles especially.  There's something hopeful about a new bible.  I ordered one the other day.  I actually ordered this one.  I wanted the space to be able to journal as I'm reading. I love making notes in my bible.  I'm hoping to have a bible as colorful as this one someday.

I've always had this idea that I wanted to be able to hand a bible down to each of my children.  I thought it would be a cool way for them to see what I'm thinking and processing as I read scripture. I've even started putting dates next to verses as I read them.  I want to be able to look back a year from now and five years from now and see what verses spoke to me.

As soon as I got my new bible I started reading in the Psalms.  I feel like they are the place that is chocked full of so much simple truth about who Jesus is.  I need those truths right now.  I crave simple truth about who Jesus is.  Not some tv preacher version of who Jesus is in my finances and in my marriage.  Not someone's interpretation of who Jesus is.  I just want to know Jesus and I want to know the truth about him.  In Psalm 1, I found the God who instructs me.  And it challenged my heart.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.                  Psalm 1:1-2

The question I wrote in my bible was "Is my delight [high degree of pleasure or enjoyment] in the instruction of the Lord?

Do I really take pleasure in being instructed by the Lord?  There are times when his instruction is gentle and nudging and then there are times when his instruction is hard and means huge changes to my life.  Do I really take pleasure in being instructed by the Lord? All the time?

I want to.  I want to take pleasure in being instructed by Him.  I want to be open to his instruction and his leading.  I want to be receiving of correction.

I want to be pliable and mold-able in His hands.  I want my life to speak of truth and love and being used by an awesome God.  The only way that is possible is if I am open to His instruction.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet

My friend, Chalice, first introduced me to Sara Hagerty and her blog about a year ago.  I began to devour Sara's blog and her story.  Her story was so similar to mine- living years of barrenness, searching for hope when it seemed to evade, adoption, the pressure to shepherd little hearts who were hurting.

I heard a few months ago that Sara was writing a book and I knew that I needed to read it.

I was able to get an advance copy.  It arrived Friday afternoon and I began to devour it.  I'll be honest, I thought I knew Sara's story.  I had followed her blog.  I knew of her pain and of her blessing.  And I thought that's what the book would be about.  And it is- to an extent.

The thing that I didn't expect about this book is the longing that it would produce in me.  The thing that I got from this book, the haunting message is this "I don't know who God is."  I mean really know.  I know parts of Him.  I have attributes of Him memorized.  There are parts of His character and His love for me that I'm good with, that I know well.

But as I was reading this book and using the end of every chapter to dive deeper into scripture, I realized something.  I had this idea of God as a puzzle.  Like a huge jigsaw puzzle and I only had one piece.  I only have one small measly corner piece of this huge puzzle.  I have only uncovered one small piece of His character and His love for me.

That idea both terrifies me and gives me such hope, all at the same time.  There is so much more to the character of who God is that I need to know.  I have so much more that I need to learn.

I finished reading the book this morning but I won't be putting it on my bookshelf anytime soon.  I have more work to do.  I have more of God to discover.  More of His character and His heart and His truth that I need to uncover.  I plan to use the scriptures at the end of every chapter to really dive in and learn more and discover more.

If you want to know God.  If you want to dive deep.  If the pain of life has you questioning and hurting, then please read Sara's book.  And read your Bible.  Jesus is there.  He is with you in your pain and He sees all of it.

Sara's book goes on sale today.  You can purchase it here, here, and here.

If you purchase the book by October 14th, you can also receive a devotional guide and a free song download by emailing EBTISbook@gmail.com.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Pray Without Ceasing

This is not the way I usually write blog posts.  I've gotten into the habit lately of planning ahead, of scheduling my posts, of thinking of topics weeks in advance.

I like to plan things.  I love having a plan.  But, the pressure of planning also gets to me and it leaves me over analyzing everything that I post.

I read and reread every post.  I look at the preview of each post to see how the words look, how the spacing looks, how the images look.

And then I still have this almost nauseous feeling before I actually hit the publish button.

I like to plan things so, today, writing without a plan is a little uncomfortable to me.  I'm writing this out of obedience.  These words are just from my heart, not some calculated post to fit in with some theme or to push some agenda or product.  Just my words and thoughts- right now!


My husband and I had an exchange student a few years ago.  She lived with us for almost a year and near the end of her time with us I went through this strange couple of weeks where I woke up at the same time in the middle of the night with this crazy desire to pray for her.  I would sneak into her room and stand over her and just pray.  I had no idea why or what was happening in her life but I just could not go to back to sleep until I had done that.  I may never know what was happening in her life at that time that needed prayer.  It may not have even been something that was happening then, it may have been prayer for the future.  Honestly, I still can't remember exactly what I prayed.  All I can remember is the feeling that I had to.

I woke up like that again last night.  Only this time it was for someone in my family.  My first thought when I woke up was that I didn't want to.  I've prayed for this person so many times.  I've given to this person, sometimes sacrificially.  I've tried to make this relationship work and it just doesn't.  I've prayed and prayed and prayed and I haven't seen anything.  Honestly, things have only gotten worse.  Gotten more out of control.

Buy this Print Here

This morning I was thinking about that part in the letter that Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica.  I like thinking of it that way instead of the verse being from the book of 1 Thessalonians.  Paul had heard about the state of this church and he wrote this letter to encourage them.  Near the end of the letter he writes "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

How much time do we spend wondering and praying to find the will of God.  It's right there.

Be joyful always.
Pray continually.
Give thanks in all circumstances.

The pray continually part is the part that is hitting me hard today.  My family member is hard.  Heck, families are hard (can I get an Amen?).  It's easy for me to see the wrong that this person does.  It's easy for me to see how they hurt others.  It's all so easy for me to see the pain they cause others and themselves.

What's not easy is praying for them.  I, truthfully, get to the point that I don't know what to say.  I don't know what to pray.  I think that's okay.

This morning I prayed for protection.  They need it.  I need it.  This afternoon, I'm going to pray for repentance.  They need it.  I need it.  This evening, I'm going to pray for reconciliation.  We all need that.

Do you have a family member that needs prayer?  Are you tired of praying for them?  Let's be honest. I'm tired too.  Today, I hope your desire to be obedient is stronger than your annoyance at your family member or your discouragement over that big thing in your life that you're tired of praying for.  I'll be praying for you.  Would you pray for me?