Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Day We Saved $1000

How a Little Change 

Can Really Add Up!

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

So for pretty much the 30+ years my beloved and I have been married, we have been “working” on our finances. Initially, it was just a matter of trying to be responsible with our money and not get in over our heads with debt.

As the years went by and my hubby and I grew in faith and Biblical understanding, we committed to be good stewards of what God gave us. We tithed and put together a responsible budget, even meeting with a Crown Ministries finance counselor and following the principles of Larry Burkett’s book Debt-Free Living.  

Truth be told, our success was short term. Some of this was circumstantial – unanticipated life and salary changes threw us for a loop. But, really? We overspent.

Chris and I discussed our different theories of spending, saving, and giving.

The conversations often escalated when we actually sat down to go over our budget. But eventually, we would get through what we considered the grueling work of pulling together all our expenses, assets, and debts…and we would attempt a cash box. That’s literally a shoebox with dividers and envelopes for each category of expenditure. For example, Home is one envelope and Electric and Gas is another, Water bill is yet another, etc.

Each week we attempted to gather our cash weekly, but something would come up, like the busyness of raising our kids and handling all their schedules; the cash box would fall to the wayside.

Please continue reading at

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Are You Proud of Your Kids?

Confidence In God Alone

The question took me a bit off guard...

Hanging out in the kitchen after a family birthday party, Lauren, my stepdaughter asked me, “Are you proud of all your girls?” She was referring to her three sisters, my birth daughters.

“Yes …” I hesitated just a little, “I am proud of them. And I’m proud of you too.”

Lauren is a passionate dedicated inner-city art teacher married to my wonderful son-in-love Tony and they have our first beautiful, spectacular, amazing (okay I’ll stop…) grandbaby Ema. Farrell, Catie, and Amelia are in varying phases of their twenties and all doing well. My firstborn is enjoying a successful acting career in a stellar production of Fiddler on the Roof in DC. My middle is working on a Masters degree in music therapy, while co-directing a bell choir made up of adults with disabilities, the Joybells, who performed and produced a CD with the Chamber Orchestra of Philly (and even appeared on the Today Show with Kathi Lee and Hoda on Christmas Eve). My youngest is doing well in college, standing up for justice and spending a semester in Cuba. Pretty exciting stuff.

Thinking while I answered, I continued, “Yes, of course, I’m proud of you all, but more than anything, I’m happy you are using your gifts.” Continue Reading Here...

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Are You Too Tired, Too Comfortable to Make New Friends?

The Gift of New Friends

Do you ever feel like you’ve got enough friends to keep up with? And besides, making new friends can be a little uncomfortable…awkward even.

Well I’m generally a people person. I like people. I grew up in a tribe of five. I am genuinely interested in people’s stories and I like to know what makes them tick. I am blessed with a lot of friends. I love them, but I feel like I don’t get enough time with them as it is. And then there are the women I’ve connected with online and at writing and blogging conferences. Time to just settle down and enjoy the friends I have.

So I kind of thought I was done making new friends.

I had the pleasure of meeting Kim Hyland, the founder of the Winsome Retreat, at the Allume conference in the fall of 2014. She was so sweet in reaching out to me and encouraging me to come to her event, so I did. I didn’t know anyone who was going from my area, so I saddled up the horse…or at least put some gas in my car…and made the four-and-a-half-hour trek alone through the Pennsylvania countryside.

I felt a little nervous as the sun set and darkness fell over the miles of beautiful farmland and windy roads. Continue Reading

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

When All-of-a-Not-So-Suddenly Our Dreams Come True

A God-sized Dream Post

on Waiting

On Saturday, January 31, one of my deepest desires and greatest dreams came true. It’s the day we took Circles Of Faith offline and had our first Live event. It was perfect!

I am filled to overflowing with the goodness of the Lord.

Last month, I talked a little here about the journey to and through At times it has been hard to persevere. Thankfully, I work with a team who holds one another up and gives and receives encouragement as the need arises.

A few months ago, Wodline joined our team. She’s a wedding and event planner. We knew we wanted to have live in-person events, so we were grateful to have her on board. And she was ready to jump in. We started meeting, planning, praying together. We scouted out a few locations, weighed our options for food, worked out timing, and put together our agenda. We came up with a name we liked too – Women of Influence.

Our vision for Circles of Faith – Women of Influence was to:

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Would You Consider Trading Your Resolutions in for One Word?

What's Your

One Word for the New Year? 

It’s not too late! If you haven’t made any resolutions and don’t plan on it, you might want to consider choosing One Word for the New Year instead. This is a word that acts like a compass, a reminder, an anchor for the unfolding year.
This is the fourth year I’ve chosen One Word for the New Year. Past One Words have included Now, Change, and God. I love the process of choosing the word and then being mindful of it the whole year through. It’s so simple and clear, void of the possibility of disappointment and failed resolutions.

This is the way I go about choosing my One Word…

In the busy days of the Christmas season, I start thinking, praying, seeking, asking, Lord, what is my One Word for the New Year? What word would you have me consider, carry, claim?

I know God will give me something when I make a little space for quiet, to listen.

As I mentioned, last year, my word was “God.”

It seemed like an awfully big word, maybe even a little audacious. But God is so good. He had something so simple for me. Simple, but not easy.

I had strayed a little from God, Himself. I was active in prayer groups, bible studies, and read devotionals. But God seemed to just want a little more of me. A little more quiet time together. Just me and Him.

How amazing is that? My eternal, creator of the Universe, Alpha and Omega Father God called me into a year of Him. 

He always calls me to Him. Oh He does. But I get lost, caught up in the shuffle of life. In the To Dos, the dreams, the plans, the goals. I get busy and I shift my focus away from God.
How can I do that? How can I ignore that still small voice, calling me to sit beside Him, welcoming me to come on in to His sanctuary? How can I stray from my center? My rock? My strength?
Well, I can and I do. Then I become off kilter. And God in His mercy always calls me back. He waits. He steadies me.

He proves to me over and over again that He never leaves. 

So I’m thankful for this past year of reminders that God desires to be Number 1 and I need Him to be Number 1. It wasn’t a blaring loud clanging booming voice, but a consistent little nudge. Come to me!
In the days before January 1, a few words made their way into my thoughts but they were fleeting. You know those thoughts, the ones that occur when we’re driving, or exercising…shower thoughts. I didn’t write them down but they returned on January 1 during our annual New Year’s gathering, the one where I meet family and friends to share our One Words.

The possibilities floating around up until that day included…

God made that One Word known to me. It was the One Word that I couldn’t get away from. PUSH.

So we’ll see what God has in mind for me in light of PUSH. I have some thoughts, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. It was shortly after that that I came upon scripture that I believe will guide me further.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

Seems like God may be calling me to grow up a bit.

How about you? Have you chosen One Word? If you have and you’ve blogged about it, LinkUp with us below. If you haven’t, we’d love for you to share it with us in the comments. 

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What If You Give Up When You're Supposed to Keep Going?

The "What Ifs" of God-sized Dreams

My Circles of Faith Co-founder Kimberly and I have faced many challenges as we stepped out in faith, starting a website we felt called to…and thought we had a clear vision for.

We spent many months in the planning and seeking stages. We gathered and prayed, wrote and rewrote our mission and purpose statements, agonized over our logo and site design. Every visual, every word was intentional and prayed over.

Together Kimberly and I attended our first bloggers’ conference, gladly and maybe a little hesitantly handing out our new business cards with high hopes that by the time we launched our website, the groundwork was laid and success was certain.

We invested money, effort, hours, held a well-attended launch party with enthusiastic supportive attendees. We were full of anticipation and excitement as we forged ahead.

And then we launched. Yay!
We checked our subscriber numbers weekly. We added Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. We went from a team of two, to a team of six, to a team of 18. All the while, the numbers of subscribers, followers, likers were disappointing.

What was wrong? We wondered. Was this worth it? Did we not pray enough or do enough? Deep in the recesses of my heart, I wondered, Am I not good enough? 

Oh there were so many times we wanted to quit. One week, I was discouraged, wringing my hands and saying things like, “I just don’t know! I don’t feel like anyone cares. I don’t know how much longer I want to do this.” Kimberly encouraged me with a prayer, an idea, hope.

The next week, she was discouraged. And it was my turn to hold her up, speak words of faith, prayers of promise. We continued along this downward path for some time.

Then as we faced the New Year last year, we decided we would stop giving power to our thoughts of discouragement. Instead we would commit to the next year and keep on praying, asking for God’s guidance and discernment every step of the way. The moments of doubt didn’t disappear, but they dimmed.

We had others come alongside us from time to time, too. One team member lent her strategic skills. Another shared her heart for nonprofits and varied media outlets. Another said more than once, “You two are too much in each other’s heads,” offering to help us open our circle wider. And another team member came with her willingness to help us with events. All of them came bearing gifts of themselves…and their faith, hope, and love when we needed a boost.

Now we are preparing for our first LIVE event, Women of Influence sponsored by Circles of Faith. This was always part of the vision. To take what we were doing online – Sharing stories to grow in Faith, do Life together, gather and build Community – and connect in-person.

The time, the people, the place has lined up perfectly. We put out the invitation and had a growing waiting list within a couple of days. It seems all our prayers and efforts have not been for naught. God was at work all along, doing His thing, moving hearts, sowing seeds, preparing the way. And we anticipate this event will be the first of many.

What if we had given up after the disappointments of year one?

What if we had given into hopeless, faithless words and thoughts?

What if we went our own way, instead of pressing on, following God’s path?

What if we had closed down instead of opened up to the words of encouragement and support from our friends?

Well, Circles of Faith would be gone…and there would be no gathering of Women of Influence. Women who will enter into fellowship, build bridges, share stories, and break bread together.

What if you close down, turn away, entertain doubt, give up when you’re supposed to keep going?

What won’t happen?

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