God has challenged me to write about how He will supernaturally pay off our mortgage in 5 years. I am a homemaker, my husband is a teacher, and we have three children. Our mortgage balance at the start of this blog is $97,802.62 with a projected payoff date of May 11, 2035.

Sounds foolish, huh? The Bible says that, "...God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;..." So I am choosing to be foolish and trust Him. He's never let me down before.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Ten Dollar Dilemma

This morning I found a ten dollar bill while walking through the parking lot of the plaza below our neighborhood.



There it lay in a parking space.  The time was about 5:30 in the morning and no people or cars were around.  Excited about my unexpected fortune, I picked it up and continued on my walk.

In the last class that Ross and I taught on managing finances, we shared that money with no named job or assignment is often poorly spent.  It practically runs out of our hands leaving us wondering where it went.  In spite of our recent teaching, I still fell victim to the "I wants".  

Looking over at the bagel shop I thought 'I could treat the kids to breakfast this morning.'  But the more I thought about it, I reasoned that I had just treated them to lunch yesterday and we had plenty of food in the house for breakfast.  I think it was more that I wanted to go to breakfast than anything else.  I thought about using it towards maternity clothes but God had blessed me just yesterday to receive a box of mostly brand new maternity clothes from a friend.  How should I spend this money?

God brought to mind James 1:5, one of the verses shared in our most recent class.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

'Remember, Chanty,' I thought.  'You need to pray.  Ask God what to do with the money.'  So I prayed while I walked and asked what to do with the ten dollars.  Almost immediately I was reminded of the plan we already had in place for "found" money.  We have been putting it into an account to save for a new vehicle in the near future.  Dilemma solved.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mommy Moment

Following our second night of vacation bible school for this week I was wiped out.  Once we arrived home shortly after 9 pm, I charged the kids with watering the flowers immediately after stepping foot out of the the car.  It was getting dark and this task is not easily done past dusk.  We were pushing it as it was.

My goal was to have everybody in bed without any fuss or conflict.  My youngest did not cooperate.  Little things kept getting him down or distracting him from his instructions.  I gave him my sternest "Just get her done" lecture, all the while trying my best to practice patience with him as I was very tired and I knew that he was too.

In addition to a myriad of other ailments mentioned, he yelled down to me from the hallway outside his bathroom that he got glass in his foot.  I took a deep breath, arose from my chair in the kitchen, and trudged upstairs.  As much as I wanted to ignore his plea as an exaggeration, I was reminded to show love to him in spite of how I was feeling.  Showing me the spot where it hurt, he asked if I could feel the glass.  I told him that I couldn't.  I'm thinking it was just something a crumb or something that he had stepped on.  I circumvented the problem by directing him to brush his teeth in my bathroom.

Tucking the boys into bed, my youngest prayed for two women in our church as he has been doing consistently.  My heart softened as I was reminded of this other side of his temperament--concerned for other people and sensitive to their needs.  After praying, he came down the ladder from his bunk to give the baby in my belly a kiss.  My heart melted.

Back downstairs in the kitchen I began working on prepping to make banana bread for breakfast the next day.  I hear the familiar creak of the steps letting me know that someone is coming down from their bedroom.  It is my youngest son letting me know that he can now  show me where to feel for the piece of glass in his foot.  Ugh!  I thought we were done with this.  Deep breath again.  I patiently ask him to sit in a chair so that he can prop his foot up on the table.  He feels the spot for himself and then directs me where to feel.  Sure enough I feel and see a small shard barely breaking his skin.  I grab a pair of tweezers and work on dislodging the sliver while he sits bravely wincing at the pain.  Finally, I get it out and present to him the source of his misery.

A grin fills his face from ear to ear as he gives me a big bear hug.  "Thank you, Mommy.  I love you," he says with the gratitude of one whose life has been saved. Thank you, God, for giving me yet another reason to be excited about being a mommy all over again.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Best and Brightest

Our family doesn't typically purchase a Sunday paper except for two special editions: Black Friday edition and Best & Brightest.

Best & Brightest showcases senior high school students in the Central PA region who are making strides to better their community, their families, and themselves.  They are selected by a panel of local community figures.

I enjoy reading what these young people are up to.  I get excited listening to their aspirations and learning about the obstacles they have overcome to reach their goals.  One of the young people selected was one of my husband's students and he is quoted in the article about her.

The student that stood out to me, however, was a young man named Scott Fogle from Cumberland Valley High School.  What set him apart from all the other Best and Brightest students is his plans for after graduating high school.  They read as follows:

Defer his acceptance to the University of Pittsburgh's Honor's College at Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Science to save for college.  He will live with his aunt in Redwood City, Calif., and work full time.

Wow.  This is the first time I've ever seen "work" listed under the immediate plans for any student selected for this honor.  What an encouragement.  What an eye-opener.  How refreshing.

Interestingly enough, there was also an article in this Sunday's paper entitled "Degrees of Debt" which features area college graduates telling of their struggle with repaying student loans.  One woman shares that her student loan debt drains her of about half of her disposable work income.  Given the chance she shares that she would have made different financial decisions.  Another woman in the article likens her college debt to a noose around her neck that tightens every time she tries to better her life.  Pretty sad.

Proverbs 22:7 reads, "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender."  Right before this is the all too familiar verse that speaks of training our children in the way they should go so that when they get old they will not turn from it.  I don't believe that this is a coincidence.

Kudos to Scott and his parents for starting his future out on the right foot.  Although their decision may not be a popular one, it clearly is the best and brightest.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Temptation

Today I went grocery shopping at my all-time favorite grocery store, Sharp Shopper.  As I turned onto the road adjacent to the store I noticed a banner out front signifying a special event.  Squinting my eyes to detect its message, I finally made out the words: "Customer Appreciation Event".

Woo-hoo!  This was my lucky day. Once a year for one week Sharp Shopper has store specials (as if their prices weren't already low enough) and daily drawings to win gift cards to their store as well as other retail stores.  I usually hear about when the event is coming around this year it fell off my radar.

As I parked the van, my eyes fell upon the sidewalk leading up to the store.  A myriad of people were setting up to sell food.  During customer appreciation days Sharp Shopper has a local church sell a meal of a hot dog, chips, and a soda for 50 cents.  That's right just 50 cents!  Usually I would be all over such a deal.  However, sitting right next to me in the passenger side of the vehicle was the sandwich and baby carrots I had brought with me.  Generally I am ready to eat lunch about an hour into my grocery shopping.  I bring food along so that I won't be tempted to buy food for lunch that would cost me way more.  "But this is only 50 cents" my flesh pleaded with me.  "It's a nice sunny day.  Wouldn't a grilled hot dog taste good on a day like today?"  Hmm, I could just bring the sandwich home and put it in Ross's lunch for tomorrow.  After all I had made it exactly the way that he likes it.  50 cents--what's the big deal?

I walked into the grocery store and spent about 45 minutes shopping.  I walked out of the grocery store, gave a quick glance to the concession area outside and walked on.  Sigh.  That was hard.  But I was proud of myself.  It wasn't about the 50 cents really.  It was about the discipline.  If I allow myself to be tempted by a meal that I don't really need, then I could eventually be tempted by more expensive things that I don't need.  Thus begins the very cycle that got me into debt 22 years ago.

My sandwich was delightful...as was the sweet taste of victory.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

85 cent dress

Yesterday I was talking on the phone with a friend about clothes shopping.  She is a bargain hunter like me and was sharing about how she was able to buy a pair of pants on-line and get the top to match it for free.  The subject then turned to Mother's Day.

My friend has grown.  In her words, "Normally I would have to have a brand new outfit to wear to church for Mother's Day.  But this year, I'm going to pick out one of my old brand new outfits from my closet, doll it up, and make it look brand new."

I let her know how proud I was of her.  Then I told her what I was going to wear--the same 85 cent dress from Goodwill that I wore last year.  "85 cents?," she queried.  "Yep," I said, "and I'll let anyone who asks know."

We had a good laugh over that.  She said she's going to look for me to come in Sunday and then grin from ear to ear.

I used to have to have new this or that for me and my children.  But I realize now that clothes, furnishings, things are temporary.  Here today, gone tomorrow.  Matthew 6:19 puts it this way,

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

These days my perspective is to invest in those things that last--building up others and sharing the good news of Jesus.  My time and my resources go to these causes.  My 85 cents goes to the dress.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Tradition

Peaking through the clear glass of our front door there is just enough of an angle for me to see our neighbor’s front door.  I watch the boys making a bee-line there, desserts in hand.  Running this requested errand is a delight to them.  They will gladly take homemade dessert over to our neighbor because it means they leave their house with a handful of candies.

I love watching the exchange.  They don’t even know that I’m watching.  But with my nose pressed up against the glass I can see them ringing the doorbell, standing there dutifully, respectfully.  The husband answers.  He is like a grandpa in their eyes and his wife like a grandma.  Always buying whatever fundraiser they are selling.  Always giving them treats.  The boys’ mouths move as they recite the names of the desserts to him just as we rehearsed.  He listens intently with a twinkle in his eyes and takes the desserts in both hands.  Then he leaves the entryway, the door still ajar.  This is the best part.


During the intermission, Blaise jumps up and down off the steps to pass the time.  Hunter sways back and forth patiently waiting, always moving.  Eventually, the doorframe fills again with his figure.  Pairs of cupped, outstretched hands raise up one at a time to receive the fruits of their labor.  I overhear the sweet chorus of “thank you” from each mouth.  The door closes and sprinting feet head back toward our home.  I quickly move away from the door and loosely engage myself in reading the mail.  They run in and show me their spoils.  I look them over briefly before they sock them away to be enjoyed for a later time.  As they run off to other preoccupations I smile as I realize that this is a childhood tradition they will reminisce over in days to come.

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Tale of Two Deals

Today on the way to visit my mom, I went on a couple of small shopping trips.  Little did I know what bargains awaited me...okay I had some idea with my first stop because it was my second time there today.  The first time I went to CVS looking for a few items which I ended up not finding at the prices that I wanted.  But what I did find was a really good deal on razor refills...


When you go to CVS they have a kiosk where you can scan your rewards card to see if any coupons are awaiting you.  One of the coupons that it spit out was for $4 off any $12 or more razor purchase.  Another coupon was 20% off any regular priced item.  I remembered that I also had a $6 off manufacturer coupon at home for these razor refills.  I already have a brand new box of razor refills in my bathroom vanity, but I also wasn't gonna pass up a deal like this.  So I returned to CVS later that day to purchase the $19.99 razor refills--less a $6 manufacturer coupon, less a $4 off razor items CVS coupon, less a 20% off coupon for a grand total of $6.51.  See why I had to get them?

My next stop was the Giant out by where my mom lives.  In a previous post I talked about yellow tag meat. Well there are many other yellow tag items that Giant carries.  Most Giants have a three-tiered metal shelf in the frozen food section stocked with yellow tag items.  In addition to miscellaneous packaged foods (usually with dented or crushed outer containers) I love to buy the discounted bread.  It is usually bread that has an approaching "best by" date.  I will take it to use right away or just freeze it.  This is what I picked up today.


Each box of cereal was 92 cents, the cake flour was 74 cents, bread and rolls were anywhere from 31 cents to 74 cents.  All total I paid $4.86 for all of this food which was so cool because I had a 5-dollar bill and a 20-dollar bill and didn't even have to break my twenty--sweet!

Would I normally buy cake flour?  No, I have a 25-pound bag of flour sitting in my basement right now.  Just the same, the cake flour will not go to waste.  I've already used it to make cupcakes for two occasions this week.

After shopping adventure, I arrived at my mom's to show her and my sister the bag of goods I racked up and share the prices that I got them at.  Right away my sister smiled, walked over to the table, and dangled a pack of hamburger buns in front of me with none other than...a yellow tag.