"Faith sees a beautiful blossom in a bulb, a lovely garden in a seed, and a giant oak in an acorn." William Arthur Ward.
"Faith sees a clean house in a dust bunny, a happy family in a trying time, and a life of meaning in the midst of diapers, dust, and dirty dishes." The Merry Rose.
Today, we're going to look at several different things:
Some families do not celebrate Christmas as a holiday; many do. Either way, December can be a very busy month. So, we will save some of our more involved endeavors for after the New Year. However, there's still lots to do now to improve in our management of our homes. We will concentrate most on organization and finance/stewardship/thrift, but we will also prepare ourselves to get going on craft projects when the time is right, as well. (Has anyone bought material for an apron yet?)
1) Our family likes to celebrate Thanksgiving as distinct from Christmas. So, the first Monday and Tuesday after Thanksgiving is usually the time when I decorate my home for Christmas. Since I have the flu this year, that will likely have to wait a few days. That's no reason why y'all can't jump in if you haven't already. For ideas, check out Julieann's blog for 101 Easy Ways to Decorate Your Home for Christmas. Remember, what goes up, must come down. So, think carefully about how much you want to do and about what will really make your house seem festive for your family. It's okay to keep things simple, if you prefer.
2) Have you made your holiday budget? Determine in advance how much you have to spend on the holidays. Out of this amount must come decorations, holiday food, gifts, card, wrapping, etc. Jot down the names of all the people to whom you wish to give a gift. By each person's name, write down a dollar amount which you have determined by taking into account your overall budget and two or three gift ideas. You may have already snapped up some things on Black Friday or Cyber-Monday. Be sure to take these into account. Or, you may buy Christmas gifts all year round, working them into your regular budget as you go. If so, you are likely finished with shopping and/or gift making and are ready to just enjoy the holidays.
3) Set up a gift wrapping center in your home. If you have little space, this can simply be a box. I set up mine on a couch in our bonus room. Have on hand wrapping paper, ribbons, gift bags, tags, tape, scizzors, et.c, -- everything you need to make wrapping easy and quick. Wrap and label gifts as you make or buy them. There are many inexpensive ideas for wrapping materials. Search the net for thrifty ways to save in this area.
4) For your Home Management Notebook and Your Book of Days, here's an idea: Have someone -- dear hubby or a child -- take photos of you as you practice domestic skills. You may enjoy keeping these in your two books. This will be doubly fun if you are working through this material with your children. Take photos of them as they learn new activities and paste them in your books. Don't forget to take pictures if you are decorating a house for Christmas or are making Christmas crafts.
5) Do you know the rule of 72? Here's an article that explains how it applies both to personal finance and to the nation's economy. If you don't want to get that involved in reading it, here's a simplified definition: This rule is a quick way to tell how quickly an investment will double at a given interest rate, assuming that you are receiving compounding interest. You divide (Divide? I have a headache already. LOL) the number 72 by the interest rate. The answer is how many years it will take. For example, let's suppose that you have $1,000 to invest. You are able to invest it at a 6 per cent interest rate. Divide 72 by 6. The answer is 12. It will take twelve years for the $1,000 to double to $2,000 at a rate of 6 per cent. In another twelve years, it will double again. Likewise, you can use this rule to determine how quickly prices will rise at a given inflation rate. Divide 72 by the inflation rate to determine how quickly the price will double. (This last part is tricky right now, as the inflation rate is in turmoil.)
There is a corresponding rule of 69, which applies when your investment returns a continuously compouning interest, but the 72 rule works as a general estimate in most situations and is easier to divide than 69. Neither of these methods is as accurate as working out the future interest with a spreadsheet or a specific computer program. But, most of us don't need to get that detailed. We can assess our investements by estimating according to the 72 rule.
Math is not my thing, so many of you may be familiar with this and may be asking, "So, your point is what?" However, I just found out about it and think it's a useful rule of thumb.
6. Where does our income go? The first part is returned to the Lord. Malachi 3:8, Mark 12:40-42; Matthew 6:19-24; Proverbs 3:9-10
God expects us to pay taxes to the government. Romans 13:6.
God expects that we will take care of family needs: I Timothy 5:8.
God expects us to free ourselves from any debt we may have incurred. Psalm 37:21.
God wants us to supply needs of the church, other Christians, etc. 2 Corinthians 8:14.
Adapted from article by Larry Burkett
For further study of this, read every verse in Proverbs about money and every verse in the book of Matthew about money. Jot down what you've learned.
7) The holidays can either be a blessing to our hearts in this area or a snare. If we focus on the right things, we can use this time to exercise self-discipline and self-sacrifice and, therefore, learn the joy of giving. On the other hand, there's a lot of pressure in our society to turn the holidays into a time of greed and self-indulgence. Greed and self-indulgence can present themselves in alluring forms; otherwise, we wouldn't be tempted by them. But, how many times have we all given into them, only to find out that selfishness leads to misery rather than to happiness. Sandy wrote on her blog about the people who were trampled to death in a crowd at Wal-Mart on the Friday after Thanksgiving. My heart goes out to those who were involved. This is perhaps an extreme illustration of where greed can lead us, but it's a warning none the less. As Sandy pointed out, enjoying family is more important than the materialism and commercialism associated with the holidays. So, let's encourage each other to keep right values in mind, and we and our families will be happier for it. More importantly, we will be pleasing the Lord.
8) Beginning crafters, here are a few things about knitting and crochet for you. If you haven't knitted or crocheted in a while, you may want to watch, too. For all, note that in the crochet demonstration, the learner uses a bit of a knit afghan she found while dumpster diving to get the yarn for her exercise in crocheting. You could visit a thrift store and use an old piece of a hand knitted sweater or an afghan or blanket or other piece of knit. That's a great way to learn without investing in a lot of new yarn. Note that you may not know what type of yarn is in your thrifted piece, so use it for project where the content and ply doesn't matter. If you're a beginner, don't worry about completing a project yet. Just practice the techniques in these videos until you get used to the way to hold your needles and hooks and how to work with your yarn.
Whew! This is plenty for today. Remember, we are working at our own individual pace. I will leave this material up as long as I can so that, if you like, you can go back and pick up anything you skip the first time around.