Monday, January 24, 2011

Change for a Dollar

The Kingdom of God is a crazy thing. It's mind-blowing, really.

In the Old Testament, there are promises proclaimed over and over that the Kingdom of God is COMING. Then Jesus shows up and announces that the Kingdom of God is HERE. But even after that, Jesus talks a lot about what will happen when the Kingdom of God comes LATER, which means it's not fully here yet. So...

It's coming, it's here, and it's not yet = say whaaa?

Jesus lived in the reality of all three of those things...the expectation of the coming, the joy of the here now, and the hope of the not yet. When he encountered people who desperately needed the Kingdom to come in their lives, He reached in and touched them and gave them a huge dose of it. Sometimes He healed people, sometimes He got rid of their demons, and sometimes He just showed them they were worth sharing a meal and a conversation with. But no matter how He shared the Kingdom, it always brought joy to the people experiencing it.

My brain could wrestle with this stuff for the rest of my life and I still won't really get it, but the cool thing is that we don't have to totally understand it to live it.

Two weeks ago, our church started a thing called "Change for a Dollar."  Basically, they put some buckets out every week and ask everyone to throw in a dollar. Then, they gather the money and wait to see what needs from the community come up. The beautiful thing, though, is it's not a church program that's run by the ministry staff. It's an "everybody gets to play" kind of thing. It's about all of us being in relationships with people who need the Kingdom to come in their lives. Any member of the Skyline family can call and say, "I know someone who needs...," then they get to deliver the money and spread a little Kingdom. I love that!

The first week, we helped a single mom get her car fixed so she could get herself and her kids where they needed to go without walking in -2 degree misery. This week, we helped a single mom with 7 kids and her disabled mother pay rent for another month.

The Kingdom came. And it brought joy.

And now my heart is stirred and my eyes are open, looking for opportunities to share the Kingdom that's already here and waiting anxiously for the day it comes FULLY. I can't even begin to imagine how super fantabulous it's going to be.

Bring it!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I Whip My Budget Into Shape

I think everyone has at least one thing in life they battle against. One area where you constantly fight for control. There are some seasons when you find yourself mastering that thing and it feels amazing, but then you start getting comfortable and that thing creeps back in and before you know it, it has you under it's ugly thumb all over again.

For me & Ron, that thing is money management. We've been fighting that monster since we got married 17 years ago. We've made some atrocious decisions along the way, and we've made some really good ones. But no matter how many steps forward we take, the monster is always there ready to drag us backwards again (I can't even count how many times I've reset my progress map in Dave Ramsey-land).


This is a new year! And the difference between this year and every other year before is my one word:

DETERMINATION - Deciding it's worth it to finish what you've started.

It's worth it to make a budget that works. Life and marriage and parenting are all much less stressful when you're not worried about how you're going to buy groceries to cover the next eight days until payday because on the last payday you went to Red Lobster because you were tired of eating Mac & Cheese for a week straight. (Are we alone in this?)

Food is the big killer in our budget for several reasons, and I think the biggest one is that I HATE TO COOK!  I'm not good at it and I'd rather do just about anything instead. After a long day of work and driving the kids all over town, I just want to hit a drive-thru and be done with it. And we often do, thus blowing our food budget to pieces.

So, one of the practical steps I'm taking to stick to the budget this year is menu planning. Revolutionary, I know. My sweet friend, Melissa, made me this awesome Menu board for my kitchen. My kids think it's the greatest thing ever and insist on having it filled in at all times.

I'm not promising it will be filled with amazing meals, or even healthy ones (one step at a time, folks) but it will be filled in. I am determined to make a plan and stick to it. I found a great website that does Menu Plan Mondays where they have recipes for a week's worth of meals plus printable coupons for some of the ingredients. And there are tons of other helpful sites for busy moms who don't like to cook.

So, I declare here and now that this is the year the Crawfords will whip the budget into shape, whip the budget into shape (and yes, I will sing that like Willow Smith) especially in the food category.

Will we still eat out? Heck, yes! But it will be part of the plan and written on the menu board. :)

How about you? What's the one thing you battle and what are you going to do to beat it this year?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

One Word 2011

I can't believe 2010 is gone! I'm sure I feel this way at the beginning of every year, but last year seemed to blow by in a turbo-speed blur more than any other. Is this because I'm getting older? I'm going with NO on that, but it probably does have something to do with the fact that my babies are growing into full-sized humans right before my eyes, which is bittersweet.

I've never been good at keeping New Year's resolutions, so I stopped making them a few years ago. But I do like to look back and reflect on things -- the highs and lows, the moments where God showed up in a big way, the things I accomplished, and the things I'd like to improve -- then allow my heart to hope and dream for even bigger things in the year ahead.

So when I came across OneWord2011 on Kevin's blog, I decided it was exactly what I wanted to do. The idea is to choose one word that will shape you for the year. One word that can serve as a filter in every area of your life instead of making a list of resolutions that will be abandoned by this time next week, leaving us to feel like failures (again!). And I already had a word that had been resonating in my heart, so this felt like the perfect thing.

My one word is actually borrowed from my 7 year-old's latest Sunday school lesson, but I think that just makes it even better because she and I will be growing in it together .

My one word is determination.

According to Corban's take-home papers, the definition of determination is "deciding it's worth it to finish what you've started." 

That's what I want to be in 2011. A finisher. Not a sloppy finisher, but one who finishes well.

This word applies to so many areas of my life...

I'm determined to be more generous. I want to give like crazy this year and stop trying to hold too tightly to things that really don't matter.

I'm determined to speak from my heart. As an introvert, it's easy to think wonderful things about the people in my life (I do it all the time), but it's not quite as easy to say that stuff out loud to the people who need to hear it.  This year, I want to speak more words of encouragement and affection, especially to my sweet husband and kids.

I'm determined to be a better mother.  I did ok as a mom in 2010, but there is one glaring error that took me smack out of the running for Mom of the Year. I did not throw a party for Corban's 7th birthday. I have all kinds of excuses for why I didn't, but none of those matter to her. All she knows is that it's January and her birthday was in November, for crying out loud! BUT it's a new year and I'm determined to throw that girl a party. And that might actually put me on the short list for MOTY 2011 because she'll be the only kid who will have TWO birthday parties in one year.

I'm determined to whip our budget into shape.  We've been taking baby steps to financial peace for years (yes, I heart Dave Ramsey), but I'm determined to make a budget that really works for us and pay off the rest of our debt.

I'm determined to grow my business. I want to coach more women and clean fewer homes. There's a whole lot of stuff that has to happen for me to be able to do that, but I'm learning as I go and have great support and mentoring from Lance and the rest of the Bloom team.

I'm determined to chase a new dream. A new dream took hold of me in 2010, so I'm determined to take some practical steps to see it come to life. Sorry for being vague about this one, but I'm not ready to be accountable for it to all of cyberland just yet.  New dreams can be very fragile, you know. :)

Those are just a few of the things I'm determined to do this year. And I'm confident God will give me His grace to do them because...

"God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that he won't stop before it is complete..."  Philippians 1:6

What hopes and dreams are in your heart for 2011? Do you have one word?