Hi friends!

After some much-needed rest over the weekend, I am feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world! Well...something like that, anyway.

I had a lovely dinner with Mom and Kati (the sis) on Friday night, but I couldn't fully relax because I knew I still had a greet/wrap to write for work that evening (for those of you not in the "know", a greet/wrap is basically an intro, call-to-action, and outro for television production...think of televangelists who talk to the audience in-studio,usually followed by a message, and finally a call-to-action to purchase supplemental materials, like sermons, books, dvds, etc...I write those, among many other things).


I did get a good night's sleep that night and thank God for it! I got up at 6 a.m. on Saturday and went to Jonesboro with my InsideOut co-leader, Teahna (and some lovely new friends, Linda and Emily), to help build a house for Habitat for Humanity. The heat index was 105 degrees, but there was a breeze and I worked hard inside in the shade that morning, driving over 200 nails into the frame of this house. Later in the afternoon, I helped put up siding on the exterior. I got a blister and was hardcore! But seriously, it was a rewarding experience, and I laughed a lot that day. I am grateful that our church helps put together events like this where we have the opportunity to serve someone other than ourselves. As I was pounding the hammer into a very stubborn stud, I said a little "thank-you" to God for letting me know what it means to serve, even if it was just for a day. I really want my life to transform into something that looks like service, with a gentle, humble spirit for the work of Christ. I see this in my friendships, and with the way I treat others, but I don't always see it in the way I spend my money or spend my time.

Let me explain...

I will be honest here and say I am a good friend. I have the confidence to know I have invested deeply and generously in the people I love. But I also fill my time with too many things, and this can be a detriment to my relationship with God and, ultimately, harmful for everything else in my life.

And, as I mentioned, I have too often been selfish with how I utilize my money. Hubby and I tithe consistently, and 10% of our income every month goes into new projects at the church or needs we see in our area. I feel that doing this is essential to our walk with Christ, both individually and as a couple. But it's not enough.

I have to think more about the little things in my life that reflect my selfish heart, and really change how I use what I have so it benefits our well-being and the world we live in...things like taking cooler showers and wasting less energy; using all the food in my pantry and getting creative with my meals instead of buying more food that will go to waste; learning to sew and mending/reconstructing items in my closet so they look new and last longer.

Made some meal plans and a grocery list
to make the best (and most healthy) use of our food.

Some of the ways I tried this out on my own over the weekend were by volunteering and taking my nieces out for birthday shopping.

All three of my nieces have birthdays in July and August, so this season gets very busy every year. I love those little girls with all my heart and soul, but expenses do add up around the end of the summer and holidays. In order to maximize my time with them and minimize financial strain, my cousin Brittany and I met up with them (and my little sister) in Douglasville to go shopping together. Instead of driving back and forth to different homes (Hubby and I are the only ones in my family who live in the city...everyone else lives either far north, up near the mountains, or far west of Atlanta...consequently, we do a good deal of driving), everyone met at the same place on this one particular day. Killing two birds with one stone, ya know...

We spent the entire afternoon looking for some new school outfits for the girls, and ended up shopping at Plato's Closet for the majority of the day. Now, if you've never heard of Plato's Closet, you are missing out! It's kind of like a consignment shop, only trendier (is that a word?). Women and men can bring their gently-used or new items to the store to sell (anything from popular books, accessories, and wallets will do, as well). The staff will sort through what you've brought, set aside anything they don't want (for any number of style or wear-and-tear issues), and then pay you for what they keep. It's usually not very much, but I brought in a huge canvas bag full of stuff last year around Christmas and, even though PC only kept half, I made about $25 bucks. It's a great store because all the items are clean, stylish, and- best of all- inexpensive. One woman's trash is another woman's treasure (wow, I'm just full of idioms today, aren't I?)!

My sister got a ton of cute skirts and shirts for $29; Brittany bought a GORGEOUS pink/cream tweed peacoat from Banana Republic for just $18; and I got my nieces a pink ruffled clutch, two shirts, one dress, one bracelet and one cardigan for the grand total of $19...all in all, a very happy outcome for all of us!

I've realized that there really is no reason to always shop for brand new clothes...sometimes buying used (and vintage, in particular) is the best way to go because you save money and you don't look like everyone else. When I was in college, there was only one or two really good stores for women (uh, college girls) in Statesboro. Rue 21 was the most popular, and I would often see the same shirt on campus two or three different times! It was funny, yes, but kind of annoying, especially if it was a shirt I was wearing!

My experience yesterday was rewarding in a number of ways: I was able to spend one-on-one time with all my favorite little girls (and Kati, of course, who is starting high school and not so little anymore!), talking to them about their summer and laughing a ton, in addition to the fact that I was able to save money while simultaneously providing for their birthday requests :). Thanks to their mothers, (my mother, sister, and sister-in-law), I minimized my unnecessary expenses, invested personal time with my family, and maximized our purchases! It was a pretty perfect day.

So this is how I really want to live my life...taking a little more time and effort discovering how I can best use what I have to benefit my family, my friends, my marriage, and my life. I want to use the blessings God has given me in ways that go farther than what my culture typically says they can.

I cleaned out my closet recently and, after selling what I could and donating the rest, I realized I had a bad habit (yes, another one!) of buying what I like rather than what I need. For example, I would see an adorable ruffly turquoise tank and buy it without thinking about the fact that I had nothing to wear it with...I'm sure this is common for many of us. I was missing staple pieces, like different color camis (to wear under all those shirts I like but can't wear because they're too sheer, too short, or something equally annoying), quality denim, and long-lasting, practical (but cute!) heels.

Yesterday, I found most of these items- plus more- at Plato's Closet (my husband bought me navy, nude, white, and black camis at H&M on Friday). For the grand total of just $30, I purchased one black pair of oxford heels, one brown pair of gorgeous gladiator sandals, one pair of dark-washed trouser jeans (perfect for work and the weekend!), one tunic-style black shirt, and one sheer floral top. All beautiful items, and not one of them was over eight dollars.

My "new" floral top...girly with just a touch of vintage. LOVE!
I have a new favorite site called Pinterest (I'm sure I'm behind the times on this) and it's great for ideas on how to re-design your favorite pieces of clothing and DIY almost anything. I love it! Tonight, I'll be making a scarf from an old concert T-shirt. Pics later!

Until next time,


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