Thursday, January 31, 2013

His Goodness

There was 54 boxes of textile items gathered from our home after the fire. Though that is not a lot of stuff for a family of eleven, I felt it was a lot for me to embark upon by myself.  I remember the day the cleaners came to bring me what I thought would be a few boxes of clothes that were salvaged from the fire and they showed up in a truck filled with boxes of stuff, anything thing made of cloth or material i.e. clothes, shoes, linens, rugs etc.; I was overwhelmed unto tears.  My desire at the time was simply to obtain our clothes that we could have what we needed without buying or seeking them from others.  After opening a couple of boxes with a friend and finding that there were items that still smelled like smoke as well as items that were damaged, I decided to put them to the side until after the holidays, at least that's what I thought.

After the holidays passed, I realized I needed to go through those boxes to get an idea of what had been gathered, what was missing and what we would have need of replacing for the days to come.  Opening up those boxes was like opening the door to a portion of my heart where a bit of uncertainty and sadness had made a home.  I didn't realize I had those feelings, but God knew.

Last weekend, He met me as I looked through the boxes, I felt an unwillingness to embrace what was mine...what was ours, also a bit of grief of our loss and finally I had thoughts of gratefulness unto Him for being O so good to us.  He saved us, each and everyone of us from hurt, harm and danger that morning and he was even so kind as to save some of our belongings.  He spoke to my heart and let me know it was okay to embrace that which remained and to let go of that which was lost for He purposed it to be so.  Again, He reminded me that he is my provider and in my heart I felt a sense of relief.

On Monday, I met reluctance and did not go through more boxes as I had planned.  As I slept Monday night, God ministered to my heart and soul. He woke me up early Tuesday morning and gave me the strength and ambition to complete the task.  I was not alone, He directed me and I sorted, purged and packed until I was done; my heart was full of joy for I knew I had just overcome with Him. Throughout the day He continued to enlighten me of the burden I had been carrying and He gave me insight as to how He had been carrying me, carrying us in the midst.

All I can say is "He is good, O so good to me".  He knows me and He cares about that which concerns me, yes ME!  Our God is an awesome creator; He made me who I am and He chooses to embrace me and display His goodness unto me.  How has God revealed himself to you this week?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Coupons + Sales Ads = Great Savings!

I have found that I get the greatest savings when I shop using the sales ads each week and match my coupons to those particular items.  My goal is to pay no more that $1 per item on my grocery list, except of course for meat and produce.  Using this method I have spent less and often times even gotten items FREE!

First of all, to make this work you must be willing to shop at more than one store...each week.  I know, I know  you think this is going to take more time, well, hopefully not.  In our area the major grocery stores are usually located in a 1-2 mile radius of each other making this very doable.  Next,  you will need to be organized and committed to sit down each week to print and cut coupons and browse and match your sales ads with the coupons you have gathered.  For me this takes about 3 hours and I do it on Sunday evenings usually with a coffee drink and one of my favorite snacks, while my children watch a movie with Daddy ;). And lastly, and most importantly you will need to plan and complete your shopping trip.

It's a good idea to plan your trip with your week's schedule in consideration.  For instance, my grocery stores are literally within 1 1/2 miles of my home so, I shop at every store on my list on one day, every week because this works best with our homeschool schedule.  If one trip is not going to work for you, I encourage you to plan your trips according to the events of the week.  Plan to shop at each store at your convenience, on purpose, when you know you will be in the vicinity of the store.  As long as you have your shopping list and your coupons in hand and you veer not from your plan it should only take you minutes to get the specific items that are on your list. Try it this week and let me know how it works for you!

If you need help getting started, plan to join me at my Coupon 101 Class, February 4, 6:30 p.m.  Make a comment on this blog and receive a discount...You and a friend can participate for just $5, for details contact me, 614-431-2307.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Recollect...Resolve and Replenish

It has been two and a half months since the fire took place in our home and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed.  There are so many aspects to getting reestablished; obtaining the necessary items to do life was our first tasks and we are grateful that those immediate needs have been met.  Then, there is the reconstruction of our home and the consideration for the cost and details to begin and complete this project without debt that we did not have prior to this tragedy.  That process has been at bit slow, but we are confident that God is in the midst. And, now the daunting task of recollecting the contents of our home before the fire. This is the process as of late that has me, personally, challenged.

Immediately after the fire God, did not move me to be part of the process of gathering our personal belongs from the rubble as He moved Walter to do so.  I am grateful for the wisdom from the Lord not to indulge in that task at the time for it brings forth many emotions, those of grief but also of joy and much gratefulness unto Him for being our provider.  It is now time that I must not only engage myself in this process, but it is important for me to do it with God that He might give me insight, patience and peace to recollect, resolve and replenish each ones personal belongings.

There is so much to consider; the loss of personal items for 11 people is just great, as the worse damage to our home took place in our bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen.  I have been prayerful as I know I must be the one to go through our things.  I am seeking the Lord for discernment in this that I might know what is missing, that which was actually lost in the midst of the flames.

The first group of boxes I am going through are the boxes of clothing, shoes, linen, rugs, curtains etc. that was sent to the cleaners.  It is good that I am taking this time and not waiting until we return home; I just got started and I am finding items that are still smoke filled, damaged by the fire or damaged in the process of cleaning.  This week we will also review the home furnishings and furniture that remain and have been processed to this point.  I have had many thoughts and experienced may emotions thus far.  I would appreciate your prayers; they are powerful, for I know they have sustained us through this season. Thank you in advance for your consideration.  Your inquiries and prayers have displayed the kindness and love of Jesus.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Using Coupons...Saving a Salary!

Clearance and coupons, what a great combination!  When out on my shopping trips the past few weeks I have been purposely taking time to browse the store aisles for clearance items that I can match with the coupons that I have in my coupon box for a greater savings.  Now, more that ever it is very important for me to shop and save as I am trying to restock my shelves. Wow! It really paid off this week.  I went to Kroger and purchased $27.27 worth of products for just $10.61, that's a 63% savings!!!!  Everything I purchased will be used by us or shared with someone else.

Cutting coupons and shopping on purpose, with a plan, does take time and effort, but it is worth it.  As a steward unto God, helpmeet to my husband and mother to our children, I feel is my responsibility, my reasonable service unto them.  God said in His Word that He shall supply all of our needs, well for us that is through good stewardship, not employment as He has called me to be home with our children, full time and not work outside the home. Walter trust me to make wise choices with our money it gives him peace to know his hard work is not taken for granted nor his income misused. As I share with our children they are learning how to succeed with what God gives them for that is His provisions.

Using coupons and coupon codes, shopping for clearance and sale items as well as thrift shopping is shopping on purpose, using wisdom to save lots of money.  It all adds up, shopping with a plan has saved us a good portion of the money that income would have provided. Here I saved 63%, I think of it as me saving a salary instead of earning a salary ;).

If you are interested in learning more about how to save using coupons, plan to attend my Coupon 101 Class, Monday, February 4, 6:30 p.m., cost just $10, contact me for more information, 614-431-2307.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Except the Lord Build the House

Many have asked where we are with regards to having our home rebuilt, well, it has been through the demolition process where they remove all the damaged and destroyed materials including walls, ceilings, flooring etc.  For us, since more than 2/3 of our home was ruined by fire, water and or smoke, the demolition consisted of every room in our home leaving it with only the frame and wires. The plan is to rebuild our home from this state and our hope is that the process will begin soon.

Meanwhile, Walter and I are prayerfully walking with the Lord.  God has already started the rebuilding of our home, that of our family. He has begun a good work in us.  "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it...", Proverbs 127:1a.  We recognize that through this process, God wants to build us up.  We have been through some trying times in the past four years by which we have been tested, not just Walter and I, but also our children.  We have been going "through the fire", spiritually, for sometime...loss of a child, loss of a job etc. and by His grace we are still standing...together!  This current tragedy, the loss of our home, we feel, is another opportunity for God to prevail.

We have seen God in the midst since the moment He woke us up on November 4, 2012 to alarm us to get out of our home, "...except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.", Proverbs 127:1b.  It was God who awoke Micah that he might alarm the rest of us.  God has been our protector and our provider; He has been present and purposeful, for He is not through with us yet.  It has been good to know that not only do we see and recognize He is at work, but our children are also experiencing God and professing Him, now that is construction in progress!

Of course, we desire for the building of our physical home to be in progress right now, but even with that, we know that it is in His hands.  We have sought Him about the rebuilding of our home and just what that should entail...should there be changes, and if so what changes?  We have committed that to Him; over this we will not have contention amongst us nor shall we loose sleep. We are trusting Him; prayfully watching and waiting to see His will be done.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

God's Provisions...Blessed to be a Blessing!

As a church family we are going through a series called Surviving the Fiscal Cliff.  It has been very enlightening for me personally as well as for my family.  There have been a few good conversations amongst us regarding self discipline, provisions, gratefulness and humility. I have been encouraged to check myself and correct the error of my thinking and that of my ways with regards to my wants, my needs, my provisions and my provider.  I have had convictions and confirmations, but more importantly I have had a fresh revelation of God's goodness, His grace and His mercy unto my family and myself.

This week's message was entitled, "Can We Soften The Landing?".  It was refreshing for me to hear Pastor Jim's personal testimony of how his family manages their finances.  He stated that they "choose" to spend their money differently.  They live within their means, don't use credit, shop wisely and save.  It is evident to me that they have made a conscious choice to live debt free that they may give freely as the Lord leads.  This message was encouraging and inspiring.  It gave clarity on the purpose of God's provisions unto us, that is for us to live a disciplined, faithful, life unto Him.

Early on in our marriage, Walter and I recognized God as our provider of all things: our job, our home, our finances, our hope, our joy and our peace.  Financially, we have never had an abundance of cash flow, but we've always had what we need and often times more.  We live on a budget and we too choose to live within our means.  I have learned that truly it is our choices that deem the extent of our challenges, trials and test, for we will encounter a few.  But, if we choose to acknowledge God and His sovereignty, accept His will and walk in His way we will not only endure them, we will glorify Him through the process.  The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him; we are blessed to be a blessing!

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Well Stocked Pantry Offers Peace

Growing up we did not have an abundance of anything.  We obtained the necessities to make it for two weeks at a time; we lived from paycheck to paycheck for sure. I did not like running out of things.  Not having enough to carry us through made me feel anxious.

This encouraged me to be a wise shopper that I might obtain the things needed for the days to come.  I started as a teenager, my focus was to purchase my "never outs", these are the items I never wanted to run out of i.e. lotion, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, dental floss etc. I liked the idea of having what I needed, it gave me a peace about my circumstances, even if I didn't have the latest and greatest of material things, I had the necessities when the need arose.

Now, as a wife and mother of multiple children I find it even more important to have my shelves stocked.  There many more things on my "never outs" list i.e. bread, milk, flour, sugar, pasta, laundry detergent, fabric softener, trash bags etc.  To obtain these items and stay on our budget,  I purchase them when they are on sale and with a coupon, if possible, not when we run out. Keeping a close eye on my stock as well as keeping my shelves organized has been key to not running out of anything.

Currently, I am trying to recover from the losses of our home fire in November; restocking my pantry and my storage shelves are a priority.  To do so I have been receiving from others their overflow and or items they are not planning to use.  I have also been taking advantage of the sales offered each week, not only at the grocery stores, but also at the drug stores.

CVS has had a great promotion for last few weeks.  They have been offering a $10 CVS cash card when you purchase $30 in certain items.  On my recent purchase I scored big... I purchased $96 in products for just $44 a savings of $52 (56%)!!!!  My list of items purchased included food, skin care products, dish liquid, toothpastes, and deodorant.  I made three purchases in this one trip and I used my CVS cash card and coupons to increase my savings.

How do you keep your pantry and stock shelves full?  If you have any organization ideas, coupon sites or great deals to take advantage of this week, please share them with me.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Counting the Cost...Reestablishing the Bowie Home

Patience is a virtue, one which I am growing in daily as we reestablish our home. Each day brings a greater reality of our loss and the cost thereof.  It's the little things that we have need of that we seem to miss i.e. dish cloths, beverage coasters, electric pencil sharpener, even a needle and thread; it is also these things that add up very quickly and together can be very costly when you have need of them all at one time.  This road of the journey looks long and rough and yet, I am faithful that God will see us through.

I know that Rome was not built in a day nor will the Bowie home be reestablished in a day.  Though the cost of replacing the personal belongings for eleven people is more than a financial burden, but a physical and a mental burden as well.  The task of recollecting the loss and understanding the needs of each person is time consuming and the cost of making those purchases all at once can be astronomical.  We accumulated that which we had overtime, as there was a need and/or an opportunity to purchase wisely.  It is with these things in consideration that I have been humbly making requests for others to share with us in this burden by giving of their time, their prayers and their material things, for I am standing on the promise that my God shall supply all of my needs according to His riches in glory.

As I continue to seek the Lord for wisdom, confidence and peace along this road, pray that I will continue to grow in patience and humility as I wait and receive of Him that which He has for us.  I want nothing more than to reestablish our home as God would have it.  "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it..." Psalms 127:1.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Thankful Hearts

With thankful hearts we want to say to all who have prayed for us and demonstrated the love of Christ through their visits and the giving of their time and resources, “Thank You” from the bottom of our hearts, each and every one of us. As devastating as the loss of our home is, your kindness has made the burden easier to bear. I wanted to share this video that our son, Micah, put together to display his thankfulness unto all those who have blessed us.

Our holiday season was filled with much conversation of the goodness of Christ and the blessing of the obedience of His people. It was a pleasure for Walter and I to hear our children share on Christmas morning, the reasons they were grateful for the birth of Christ.  This tragedy has made Him more evident to each one of them, individually. Even as we brought in the New Year together and we reflected on the days gone by and looked forward to the days to come, each and every one of us gave God his praise.

Though our journey through the fire has really just begun we are confident that God will continue to lead us with wisdom, humility, peace and joy. When you see us or think of us in the days to come please lift us up in prayer.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Quiet Time-The God in Me

I am grateful for my quiet time each morning.  Though it is a sacrifice, I get up at 4:45 during the week to spend time with Jesus all by myself; it is then that He speaks to me so clearly.  As a home school mom of 8 of our children, I am rarely alone, so I find this time to be precious.  It is when and how God prepares my heart and mind for the tasks of the day.

This morning He confronted me and gave me insight.  I was humbled by His presence and his purposeful ministry unto me.  He revealed his Word unto me and showed me how easily my flesh could reign unto destruction. As I replied to Him with thanksgiving, I felt relieved, refreshed and renewed; there is nothing like fellowship with Him.  As I reflected upon that I was inspired to write this poem, for I am so glad I am His child and He is my Lord.

The God in Me

I am thankful for the God in me, without Him I am nothing
I take it not for granted that He died for me and rose again that I might live.
He chose me and resides in me; I am His and He is mine... the God in me.
To be good is not good enough and to be right is not righteousness
It is but a moments satisfaction to my flesh...mere happiness, fleeting, passing away with time.
He makes me special, unique, a beauty to experience and embrace.
The God in me gives me joy, maintains peace and purpose in my heart and stability unto mind.
With Him I am satisfied in my soul and filled with wisdom and insight
Inspired to live life abundantly to fulfill the purpose for which I was created.
I have hope and access to Him who resides in me; He is the anchor of my soul.
He confronts, convicts and comforts me; He is my breath of life, the reason that I live.
He makes me, Me.  He moves me and keeps me
For I am never alone, never without Him...the God in me.

Michele Bowie
Copyright 2013

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Like Money in the Bank

On Monday when checking out a few savings blog sites, I saw that CVS was having a 75% clearance on Christmas items, so I decided to check out the sales. Though the After Christmas Sale can be great, I find that I save the most money a week or more after the After Christmas Sale, so I was excited. I decided to stop at a few stores along the way. At Kroger Marketplace, I scored big! They too were having up to 75% off of Christmas items including toys. I have been in need of a table for my two-year-old to do his schoolwork on and not only did I find one, but I am now the coolest mom in the world it was a Spiderman table and I saved $52.50! Here I also grabbed a couple of Hot Wheels sets for just $3 and a Hot Wheel remote car for just $5!

I also did great at Bath and Body Works. I purchased $72.38 worth of merchandise for just $20.42 of which I paid with a gift card. All of the items that I purchased were 75% off and I used a $10 off a $30 purchase coupon that I found on my phone while in the store. As you can see there are many great deals still out there, though I was told this sale ends Sunday.

At CVS I saved a big! I purchased a set of wooden shelves, a fountain, a DVD home theater, a Bluetooth digital watch, a 15 piece make upset, and an eye pallet all for just $45, a savings of $128.71! The great thing here was their sale included all Christmas items including electronics Christmas gift items. The purchases you make now can be for items to be given as gifts for Valentine’s Day, birthdays, those unexpected occasions throughout the year or for Christmas next year.  It’s like money in the bank!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Still Planning

What a day!  I have really enjoyed listening to my praise music while working on my computer in my bedroom with my lilac candle and my cup of coffee. But, of course a mother's job is never done; I have also...washed clothes, cleaned the kitchen and cooked dinner while watching a little football with my man.  Later, I spent time listening and talking to my daughter who has been away on a retreat, ate dinner with the family and still have coupons to clip...okay you get the picture.  This is why I am still planning :).

With much more to get done, I am sure I will be up well into the night, but right now my heart is rejoicing in the Lord.  Knowing the tasks I had before me today when I woke up this morning I prayed and asked the Lord for wisdom and specifically asked that it come from Walter.  It blessed my heart so when Walter gave me encouragement and wise counsel and then support throughout the day.  Thank you God for you know my hearts desires and your promises are true; for this has been a very peaceful, productive day!

Sprucing Up Our Home and Our Hearts

Being at home all day, everyday can be drab, especially for the children, so with each season I always put out seasonal decorations and inspirational sayings.  The cut framed art pictured here was made with a Christmas card we received and a wood frame from Dollar Tree; isn't it darling!

Will you help me spruce up our home and our hearts? If you have snowmen, an evergreen wreath, evergreen garland and/or pine cones leftover from your Christmas decorations and old frames, matting, and card stock etc., please let me know :). I am also looking for inspirational quotes and scripture verses, please feel free to share them in the comment section.  Oh, and if you have any greeting cards with winter scenes we could use those too!

A Time of Prayer, Praise, and Planning

My family has gone off to church and my husband has told me to stay home to listen to praise music and plan, for we will resume school on Monday. He knows I need quiet time with Jesus not only to write a plan for the next quarter of schooling our children, but to prepare my heart and mind of how God would have me to use my time and our new space to bless our children; we still have a lot to be done with regards to our losses due to our house fire.

I began by asking each child what they felt they needed as we begin school tomorrow so I could lift them up in prayer.  If you would, join me in prayer today, that I would be anxious for nothing, that I would hear His voice and that I would know what he would have me to do in the coming days.

Wise Buying 2013 Begins Now

Okay, if you said to yourself that this year I will clip coupons to save, now is the time to begin! In this week's Sunday paper there will be SIX inserts. You can expect 3 SmartSource (although two of them might be combined in some areas), 2 Red Plum, and 1 Target. This is a great week to buy multiple papers. So, let the savings begin!

Here are a few tips for getting started on great savings using coupons:

           When clipping coupons, clip coupons that you will use if the item was given to you FREE; because having a coupon can make an item that you would not normally purchase, but are willing to consume a free item to try or give away.

           Make a grocery list before shopping using the sales ads from all your local grocery stores, drug stores, and one-stop shops such as Walmart and Meijer and even Target and match the coupon with the sales items for the greatest savings.

           Be willing to make your shopping trip a part of your regular routine and no longer a once a week for a once a month venture. For instance, when going out to take a child to sports practice, you can stop by your local Walmart to take advantage of the great coupon savings. Shopping for one or two items on purpose does not take a lot of time and can save lots of money.

For more great savings tips plan to attend my Coupon 101’s class, Monday, January 21, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. Cost just $10.  For more information, please contact me at 614-431-2307.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Amongst the Living

One of the great things that I have experienced since our house fire is that it is good to be amongst the living! It has been a joy and a pleasure to hear from and receive ones who have wanted to express their love for me, personally. I recall at an early time in my walk with Jesus, while attending a funeral, the thought crossed my mind, “if I died, what would people say of me”.  That thought has shaped my life unto this day, for I recognized that my living must not be in vain. Though I never know if I truly am a light unto Jesus through my daily interactions with others, I do live life with that intention. But, what I do know is that my living has not been in vain.

For God has allowed me to see that I am loved by many and  that I would have been missed had He chose not to deliver me from the fire. What a blessing it has been to experience such love from God and his people, some of whom I don’t even know others who simply know of me. This experience has caused  me to pause and reflect on who I am and who’s I am. I recognize that He spared  me because he has a purpose for me to be amongst the living. I must say I am not clear on a specific purpose, but I am grateful to be alive. With that said, I look forward to what God has in store for me this year.  Happy New Year to you all!