Categories
Christianity Home Schooling Writing

Time-budgeting

My husband and I are once again re-vamping our budget. Maybe I’m a slow learner, but it’s just starting to occur to me that the same principles that apply to budgeting our money can apply to many areas in our life.

I’m a Christian, a wife, a home school mom and a writer. I’m also a daughter, sister, aunt and a friend to many people. Budgeting my time is important.

When budgeting, most Christians tithe first and then they allot a certain amount of money in various categories. If there’s not enough money in the car maintenance category to pay the repairs, then they borrow the remainder from the entertainment category.

When the “writing bug” bit me back in December I did most of my writing at night or very early in the morning. Coffee kept my eyes propped open, and I exchanged meaningful relationships (with dh and children) for my new obsession. Getting the story inside me on the screen.

I struggled along trying to be all and do all, but the joy was gone. I poured all my creativity into my writing, and bankrupted everything else. Shortchanging God spills over to shortchanging everything.

In June, writing took a backseat to our busy summer. Ever since, I’ve been reluctant to take it up again. My heart is in homeschooling my children and I’m scared to death that even one little peek at my manuscript will suck me under.

So here’s where budgeting comes in. Time-budgeting.

  1. God first. When I start my day with prayer and devotions the patience and love that fills me never stretches thin…
  2. Getting at least 6 hours of sleep at night and taking care of my health. One way I’m being proactive about this is the supplement I recently bought at WalMart: Juice for Life–Power Fruit Formula. It’s full of whole food concentrates and Antioxidants, an energy booster much better for me than coffee. Yesterday, after little sleep (toddler had a fussy night) and a very busy day, I realized I made it through the whole day with NO coffee!!! And no grumps!) I’m also drinking quite a bit more water.
  3. Plan my day ahead so the important things don’t get shuffled under the carpet. Like kids.

Luke 14:28-29, “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him.”

By budgeting my time and assets, and making priorities of the most important jobs God’s given me, how can I go wrong?

If writing is God’s will for me, I’ll be able to budget it in. For now, I think He’s telling me to lay low and pray about it.

James 4:14, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.” Then summing up in verse 17, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

My question for you, is how are you making time for writing while keeping your other priorities straight?

Categories
Christianity Family Ties Writing

Our cow is lonely. Some Christians are too.

We took the last of the colts to pasture this weekend and ever since our lone mama cow has been bellering for her buddies.  Plus, she’s not due to calve till June, but her udder is tight and she looks suspiciously close. But what do I know? 

We skipped the trip to town for horseshoes in favor of more playtime outside.  Can’t take these sunny days for granted with all the rain we’ve had lately.  I filled up a big aluminum pan with water balloons and we had a free-for-all!  The girls were outside from 11 am till 6 pm, and they’ve eaten and are happily ensconced under their covers.  What a great way to wear out!

I was talking books with a girlfriend who is helping me with VBS.  She has no idea I’m writing.  She made the comment that she didn’t like Karen Kingsbury’s Redemption Series because the Christians face so much turmoil.  She tossed her head and rolled her eyes and I about died laughing.  I was glad to know that not ALL readers out there have to have back to back conflict.  But it got me to thinking. We all have our own unique areas of testing…whether it seems to always be health, job, or finances, or family conflict.  Maybe your vehicles are always breaking down.  I don’t know.  Some people seem to be like Job…everything at once.  When we were self-employed I had to hang on to that verse about contentment…Godliness with contentment is great gain.  I learned a lot in those lean years.  I have one painful memory of the humiliation of a bank overdraft that I didn’t know how we were going to cover, but that’s the only really bad memory I have.  And yes, I’m kind of glossing over it (no need to mention how I sank to my knees in the corner of the kitchen and wept, so sick of it all) but it was a big deal to me.  When I think back to those times of wracking my brain for creative snacks for the kids, or how to stretch point A to point F…or looking at other families with two incomes and wondering why God wanted me at home? Now, instead of all that, I remember the good things.  Like the piles of bagged popcorn in my upper cupboard that had accumulated year after year from our farming neighbor…just waiting to be used as a last resort snack…which became the kid’s favorite! (Ever make cinnamon popcorn with red hots?) Or how I had to get in the habit of baking homemade bread out of sheer necessity…which was like a delicacy that I’d been too lazy to discover!  I remember devouring Tightwad Gazette volumes 1,2, and 3 and being amazed at all the ways I wasted money!  Even now that I don’t have to I still wash out my ziplock baggies, not the sandwich ones, but everything else! We discovered the best beans out there–Anasazi beans, that require hardly any soaking and they’re SO pretty in glass jars!Are there any Christians untouched by suffering?  If there are, I bet they only appear to be. Our pastor had a great message on Sunday about loving one another.  He said some lady did an experiment in a well known city in Nebraska.  She visited 18 churches consecutively and sat up toward the front.  Her purpose was to score each church for their friendliness factor.  I can’t remember the exact “point system” she used but suffice it to say they got around a 100 points for each person who came up to her and shook her hand.  They got even more if they introduced themselves to her.  And even more, like 500 if they said, “Hey, you should meet so-and-so”…there were all sorts of simple ways for these church folks to gain points.  And to make it easier on them, this gal made her way slowly from the front pew where she sat to the back at each church, making eye contact with whoever she could…essentially being friendly herself to pave the way for a return on her investment!  Sadly enough, the highest scoring church had only 100 points.  

Now that’s hard for me to believe.  Our church is pretty friendly, in fact, that’s one reason my dh and I kept going back…we were made to feel so welcome.  I know I’m guilty of being in too great a hurry to run back to the nursery, collect my kids and get home for lunch…but what’s the deal with 18 churches in the same town all being too inhibited to be friendly to a newcomer?

What a ramble.  Guess I should put my soapbox back where it belongs now!

Gonna hit the book,

Mary

Categories
Christianity Writing

VBS and Two Must Read Links for Writers!

Couple of VBS tips for ya, in case you are in the same mode…get to church early the Sunday you plan to announce the need for volunteers and go through the pews putting neon dot stickers randomly under the seats. Then at announcement time, tell everyone to check under their chairs to see if they’re the lucky winners that get to “help” with VBS this year!!! Then run, don’t walk to the nearest exit!   I actually can’t complain, I’ve got my crafts, snacks, story, song, game and missions all lined out…it’s just the organizing of all the details!

Second tip: in the month leading up to VBS have a standard workshop night–we’re having ours every Tuesday night from 6-8 pm…a come and go time where anyone can drop in and be put to work coloring posters, painting backdrops, getting the crafts ready etc. This is a good way to involve people in your church that already know they won’t be in town or available to help during the actual week of VBS.

Have to share our mission project, we’re so excited about it! The general consensus at our church as regards a mission offering for VBS is “don’t ask the kids to bring money”…um, okay. But–little whine here– I really have good memories of the boys against girls offering wars or the time we all brought shoes to be donated to an overseas orphanage… So we started mulling over our options. What could we do that would appeal to the kids, and give them an opportunity to make a difference? Long story short, we are going to collect boxes of crayons and sheets of star stickers to be sent to Burundi, Africa for the over 16,000 children that will be participating in VBS this summer. Another church not too far away from ours does this every year, and we’ll just send our collections with them. Each African child will receive one color to last the entire week of VBS. The stars are attendance stickers to be put on the homemade crowns they’ll construct the first day. The woman who explained this mission to me said that over half of these children come to know the Lord during this week in VBS. Burundi used to be a part of Rwanda…these children know a lot about loss of loved ones and living in the midst of war. I can’t wait to take this on!

Okay for anyone writing or interested in expanding your horizons: Yesterday in asking for help with my ms at ACFW, one of the members, Mirtika, who critiques for contests and an online magazine gave me a link to her blog and said I could share it. The entry is called BEFORE YOU ENTER THAT FICTION CONTEST: Mir’s Non-Comprehensive Tour of Trouble-Spot Tip-Offs. Also while there check out her links…there is one for Ten Writing Mistakes that is worth reading also. I printed out both actually! Sigh. Who knew there was so much to well, writing! Or writing well! Mir has a hilarious way of doing both and I appreciated that she “showed” how to fix the common mistakes, she didn’t just point them out as problems!

Now I need to go quit procrastinating…maybe I can play around with some VBS clip art as I surf the net!

Have a great day!

Mary

Categories
Book Recommendations Writing

Romancing Scotland Style

Ah, bonnie auld Scotland. I’ve been wondering what the attraction is between me and romance stories set in Scotland. Are all Scots heroes strong, devastatingly loyal and stern but sweet? All the cannas, wilnas, wouldnas…wee wee lassies…sigh. Makes me want to try writing something set in the 1700’s. Ha. I’m pretty sure I should just stick to reading however!

Liz Curtis Higgs wrote a great series along these lines…first one is called Thorn in My Heart. Wow.

I dinna ken. Maybe I’d be sae inclined if…weel, if a verra nice trip to Scotland were perhaps involved for a wee bit of research. I’ll speak wi’ ye aboot it again if the fancy continues tae tickle me silly.

For now, too scairt to try writing anything but the King’s English,

Mary–who hasna had her coffee yet today