A Few Money Saving Tips

Life is not about making money or saving money. But I always love to learn new tips that are helpful. Here are six tips that I've tried out lately.

1) Have a date night at home.
My husband loves to go out to restaurants which is nice. We do it every once in a while and get a babysitter. But it is expensive! Last month I planned a date night at home. I fed the children early and my husband got them into bed while I got everything ready. A tablecloth, a candle, our best dishes and wine glasses made the table look attractive. We dressed ourselves up a little and then enjoyed a three course meal by candlelight. Mushroom Soup and warm buns, Bami Goreng (an Indonesian dish) and a Pineapple pudding for desert.
After the dishes were done, we watched a movie together. All up (with using a few ingredients I already had) it only cost about $20 counting the hired movie! Usually $20 would only pay the babysitter! :) And there were enough leftovers for dinner the next night!  So it doesn't always have to cost a lot to be nice and fun. 

2)Make your own sauces etc.
I have learned to make satay sauce, pasta sauce and carbonera sauce. I used to always buy tins of pasta and carbonera sauce. But it is cheaper to make. The satay sauce only takes a few minutes, only has a few ingredients and is delicious! Hummus is also easy to make if you have a food processor.
Butter chicken and korma chicken sauce is next on my list to try!

3) Sell on Trademe
I have started to sell some things on trademe instead of putting them in the opp shop.This doesn't work well for everyone, but I only live a few minutes from the post shop.
 A few years ago, with the best of intentions I brought a second hand exercycle! I have hardly used it, and the children cut one of the wires so the mechanical part of  it didn't work anymore. We talked about taking it to the dump, but I decided to try selling it on trademe for $1 reserve. I explained that part of it was broken but there were many people who wanted it, and it sold for more than I had paid for it!

4) Use up what's in the freezer/pantry/fridge.
This week I tried to only buy the basics and then use up what is in the freezer. It's easy to freeze leftovers etc. and then forget about them!

5)Make the most of leftovers.
Leftover chicken sauce, bacon, sausages etc. make nice pizzas. And so on.

6)Conquer impulsive spending.
I am sometimes afraid to go shopping, because I know I will usually come home with things I never planned on getting. I am impulsive, which is not helpful most of the time! So I am learning how to deal with that. But that is a whole new post in itself! So I'll save that for another time.


God will Provide

This post is a follow on from one of my last posts. I mentioned I was reading a book about God providing. It is a book that has many testimonies of God providing for different needs.  I finished it yesterday. It has made me think back of specific times I have seen God providing in my life. I will share just a few...
My wedding dress
   I had been engaged a week when I stumbled upon a little wedding dress shop that sold dresses with sleeves. In our country, that's generally unheard of! I found a perfect dress for a very reasonable price. It blew me away! Specially when a short time later, the shop closed down.
Money to publish my first book
I put together a devotional book for teen girls but had no idea how to publish it. I found a way that I thought would be good, but I needed a big chunk of money that I didn't have. Around the time, I had just had a baby. From the government we were given a lump some of money as support for our new baby. It was the exact price I needed for the book! (And our baby didn't need that much money!)

There have been times when I've really needed a break from the children and felt really behind on jobs. 
Sometimes God provided by...
         ...my husband offering to take the children out (without knowing that I wanted a break)
         ....a friend asking if she could take our children for the morning/day
         ....the children playing so well that I could get lots of things done
         ....giving me the grace to still cope
Also, in the first year of our last baby being born, we needed help looking after our children for a total of 6 months. God provided that too, without having to move our kids around from place to place. He also provided a way for us to see our children when they were far away from us.

Enough money to get through a difficult time.
  When we were in hospital a long way from our home, my husband was able to work half the week then fly up to see me for the rest of the week. His boss was helpful and allowed him to have lots of time off. The government/hospital paid for a free flight each week for my husband. Other people gave gifts of money so that there was no financial stress during that time. Not to mention the Ronald Mcdonald house that provided free accommodation.

More grace
There were many times in hospital when I felt I couldn't handle it anymore. But God always picked me up and gave more grace to keep going.

Support with a special needs child
We have  a friend from our church who is very experienced in working with children with Down Syndrome. She voluntarily works with Lydia once a week helping with her development.

Looking back at the way God has provided in the past gives me faith to trust Him for today and for the future.

Next month, we will go overseas. It is a like a big mountain looming in front of me!  Lots of flying with small children and language barriers when we get there are two of the difficulties.
But God is teaching me to look forward to seeing how He will provide and help me through this time. I have a journal ready to jot them down!

In what ways has God provided for you?

Indoor Inexpensive Holiday Ideas

It's the holidays! This is my list of ideas to keep my little ones busy and make this time fun.

Play board games
Bake some yummy treats in the kitchen
    (Cake, biscuits, popcorn, bliss balls, pikelets, pancakes, muesli bars etc.)
Make a small pizza each
Do arts and crafts
Colour in
Make a hut in the lounge
Look at photo books together
Play 'going on holiday'
Tea party with dolls, teddies etc.
Make a book (We have a little book called What Bunny Loves. Every page has a different thing he loves. I thought my kids could make their own little picture book like this with what they love on each page.)
Play dressups.
Have an indoor treasure hunt
Play with playdough
Have a drawing lesson.(Learn to draw something new.)
Do puzzles
Games (Memory, Slapjack, Snap etc.)
Sing kids songs
Make a collage
Build with lego
Play coffee shops with real food (cakes, biscuits, etc.)
Read stories
Play with magnets
Work in activity books
Play with window stickers
Blow bubbles
Make bubbles with straw in bowl (Fill a bowl with water and dishwashing liquid. They blow big bubbles with a straw. Lots of fun!)
Do some cleaning/housework
Play shops
Sort and declutter boxes (My children each have a special box or drawer where they keep their special things. Every now and again, it needs decluttering or it gets too full.)
Make cards for someone's birthday, new baby or whatever
Play schools


A Difficulty or an Opportunity?

What difficulties are you facing at the moment?
Marriage difficulties,
Financial stress,
A health problem,
A change to adjust to,
Sick children,
or what about the everyday difficulties of looking after your children,
 being a good wife and trying to keep order in your home?

Every difficulty is an opportunity to grow and to experience God's faithfulness as you see Him provide.

If you know me well, you will know that I don't usually have that bright perspective! If you've heard me talk about our upcoming trip to Holland, you will know that I am a bit of an Eeyore! A while back someone asked me if I was excited about our trip. Excited?? "Dreading it is more like it!" was my gloomy answer.
I see hours and hours of sitting in a plane with 4 little children and no sleep to help me cope, 5 weeks of language barriers with a child who could easily end up in hospital, then a long plane trip to get back home.
Usually what I share on this blog is what I am learning, not what I have been practicing for years!
I am praying for a positive perspective and I want a positive perspective!
I can choose to see this trip as an opportunity to grow and an opportunity to see God answer my prayers to help me cope each day. Or I can just do what I naturally do and only see the difficulties.

I am reading a book at the moment of testimonies of missionary people who saw God provide their physical needs, like food, money, etc. It is exciting to see the amazing ways that God provides and God seems far more real when we have those experiences.
But there are other needs we can trust God for too. And it is just as rewarding seeing God answer. It's up to us to pray for His help and watch for His answers.



I love this priority list from the book 'A Woman After God's Own Heart.' I am a pro at getting them all the wrong way around in my life! Which is why I have put them on my fridge.

Helping Someone Through a Trial

Do you wonder how to help a friend who is going through a trial? I still do, but I thought I would share what helped me the most during my biggest trial (A year and a half ago our baby was born with heart problems and Down Syndrome. She spent a good six months of her first year in hospital.) I know everyone is different and different things help different people. But I hope these are helpful.
1)Encourage them
I always felt encouraged when someone told me I was doing well. Because I often felt like I wasn’t! I found it difficult, I cried sometimes, I questioned God sometimes and often just wanted out. So being told I was doing well helped me to keep my chin up and keep going.
2)Sympathy is often enough
Be careful not to be too preachy! There were times that a verse/quote/poem etc. someone shared with me was helpful. But most of the time, sympathy helped the most. To be able to share how you are really doing without feeling judged. Words can sound empty if you are not also going through/have been through a similar thing. It’s easy to think “You try it then!” It is nice to hear, “I would find that difficult too.”
3)Don’t judge
I know there have been times when I have judged someone who was going through a tough time. But I had no clue what it was like. You don’t know what you would do or how you would react until you are faced with it yourself.
4)Let them know you’re thinking of them.
Unless you let them know, they don’t know you are thinking of them! They may be on your mind a lot but unless you make some kind of contact with them, they don’t know.
And it means a lot to know someone is thinking of you!
5)Don’t get offended.
Before our baby was born, I didn’t send many texts. So, when I started texting people after she was born, I quickly ran out of texts. I had to get a different deal on my phone so I could send more texts without it costing too much. But until I got it sorted, I just couldn’t answer some people. Also, there were times when I would receive five texts all at once, or sometimes I was feeling too upset at the time to answer. There were times that I had a lot of internet, and other times when I had hardly any. There were days I was super busy when our children were visiting. (But in general, I loved 
keeping in contact with people that way!) So, don’t get offended if that person doesn’t answer or even if they don’t want a visit.
6)Spoil them
When you are going through a tough time, all you want is for it to be over. But getting spoiled helps make it all more bearable and pleasant. We got spoiled majorly! One week we were taken out for dinner three times! I spent my birthday in hospital and I have never gotten so many cards and presents! Being spoiled truly helps.
7)Pray for them
You may feel helpless, but if you are praying you are doing something. I really wonder what it all would have been like for us if no one had been praying for us. It sometimes seemed like I could feel the prayers.
But don’t just pray for the trial to be over, pray for them to learn and grow through it all. Because that is what’s most important.
8)Don’t only focus on their problems
It was so nice the way people cared about what we were going through. It’s nice to be asked how it’s going. But sometimes I needed to focus on something other than our problems. I remember having a difficult week in hospital when some friends came to visit. Afterwards I felt so much better, because most of the time they had talked about general things and it had taken my mind off the trials of that week.
We knew before our baby was born that she had heart problems. Every Sunday people would ask how it was going with our baby. While I appreciated people’s concern and care, I started to dread going to church. Because I would usually have to explain over and over what was going on and it would get me focused on it all again. So be concerned, but talk about general happy things aswell!
9)Answer Their Questions
There were times people would contact me asking how it was going. (I am thinking now of the 3 months when we were in Starship hospital, a long way from home, and too far away for most people to visit). I would share what was happening, then I would ask how they were doing. Sometimes I would get no answer. While I understand completely, I sometimes felt very disconnected from people. I asked because I wanted to know! I felt like everyone knew how I was doing, but I didn’t know how anybody else was!
So if you’re asked how you’re doing, answer even though you feel it can’t be important to them!
10) Don't forget about them afterwards
When things settled down at home after hospital stays, life was still hard! We were home and all together as a family again (and very thankful for that!), but some days were just as difficult as when we were in hospital. When life got back to 'normal' I had to come to term with Down syndrome again. I had to face the fact that life wasn't 'normal' anymore.Lydia was tube fed for her first year and it was a difficult, frustrating and time consuming challenge to get her off that. Even tube feeding was scary. There were all the medicines to keep up with. I so missed a life without all the hospital appointments, complications and just the fear of Lydia going back to hospital. I came very close to being depressed. Thankfully Lydia has steadily improved and it has gotten better and easier with a long stretch of good health.
But remember when the worst is 'over', they may still need support, prayers and encouragement!


"Don't Worry" Craft

This is another easy flower related craft. I told the story in the Bible in Luke 12 about God looking after the birds and the lilies. It's basically cardboard, colored card/paper scraps cut into petals, stalks and leaves. We made white stripes on the liles using glue and salt. And we used some bird stickers and little rhinestone flowers.