Word-of-the-Year Faith Check-In

Welcome  In January I shared that I had chosen the word “faith” to be my 2018 word of the year.  My hope is to focus on strengthening my faith this year.  In February I did a month-long Bible study on the topic of faith.  Well, today is the 68th day of 2018, so how am I doing?  And, I’m closing out the week with Frugal Friday and some budget finds in Easter and Spring decor.  Thanks for joining me today.

faith check in
Are you ready to check in on your word-of-the-year progress?

Food For Thought  If I truly want to strengthen my faith, I have to actively seek opportunities for study and growth.  My study last month led me to some great passages and stories of the Bible, many I hadn’t even thought about in their application to my own faith.  I also think God’s providing plenty of opportunities for growth in this area too.  I’m amazed at how aware I have become of my own different levels of faith and how they fluctuate with different circumstances.  For example, I have lots of faith that God will provide for the needs of our family, as always.  I have seen my faith grow in my quest to become a writer as I continue to submit my work in places, but feel no anxiety over the situation.  And, I certainly have faith in my salvation from Jesus Christ.

Long-term patience seems to be where I begin to wonder about my level of faith.  In the past couple of months, I have found myself again and again equating my patience with my faith.  When I begin to get impatient or tired of waiting for a response from God, I begin to question if I have as much faith as I claim.  I’ve been writing about this patience issue a lot lately.  I have become very aware of the fact that I somehow equate my faith with instant gratification.  That’s not a good thing, as instant gratification rarely is!  I feel like I’m saying, “If I believe it will happen, then it must be going to happen right now!”  Or at the very least, happen sooner, rather than later.  Faith does not work that way.  I know better than that, from my own personal experiences.  I believe this is how God is stretching and growing my “faith muscles.”  I’m not going to say he’s testing my faith (James 1:13), but it’s more an opportunity for learning.  I was thinking about this on my walk yesterday afternoon.  There have been other times in my life when my faith had to hold steady while I waited for God to “deliver.”  I had faith I would become a teacher, and God delivered.  I had faith I would meet and marry a wonderful man, and God delivered.  I had faith we would own our own home, and God delivered.  I had faith God would bring us a healthy baby, and God delivered.  I had faith that God would remove me from a situation of frustration and misery, and God delivered.  I have had faith for safe travels, healing in health, and protection for home and family.  God has delivered in every single one of these situations, but NOT always immediately.  There was some patience involved, along with my faith.

I am reminded once again of the eleventh chapter of Hebrews.  The very first verse says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  It does not say to have faith in what I already have received, although these are great comforts.  True faith is to be sure and certain that God will meet all my hopes and needs.  True faith is trusting that His Will and His Timing is really what I want and need.  This chapter is full of faith examples, so I recommend it as a great “faith read.”  I want to share one more verse from this chapter, a great motivator to continue to grow in my faith.  This is verse 6 of the same chapter: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

It’s important to stop and reflect every so often on our goals, to look at areas where we have improved and also areas we need to continue improvement.  There will always be ways to improve my faith.  The goal is not perfection, that would be impossible.  The goal is to allow myself to become stronger in this area of my spiritual life, with benefits carrying over into other parts of my life.  So how are you doing on your “Word of the Year”?

Today’s Scripture  I really recommend reading Hebrews 11 today.  I like to call it the “faith chapter.”  There are so many great stories of faith in the Old Testament.  Abraham and Sarah in the book of Genesis.  Jochebed and Moses in the book of Exodus.  Rahab’s story in the book of Joshua.  The story of Queen Esther in the book named for her.  The book of Ruth.  Job, Daniel, and more!  So many opportunities to study and learn about strong faith through times of adversity.  Additionally, I have these two verses to share:

Romans 8:25  “But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

James 1:3  “because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”

Today’s DIY and Frugal Friday–Decorate It Yourself for Cheap!  Earlier this week I shared some budget party foods from Aldi.  I know we cannot be the only family trying to stretch our budget or live on one income.  When I was working and we had two steady incomes, I honestly didn’t put much effort in trying to budget or save money.  Then it became a necessity in our lives.  Now, it’s kind of a fun game.  I get excited when I find bargains and deals!  Today, I’m going to share how I decorated my home for Easter by using (mostly) Dollar Store finds.  Disclaimer–I am not affiliated with, sponsored by, or compensated by any of the stores or companies mentioned in this post.

Budget Friendly Easter Decor
You might be surprised by some of the cute holiday finds you can grab at your local dollar and discount stores!
flowers, bunny, egg cup
Spring and Easter decor on a budget.

I already had the large glass vase that I change out seasonal decorations, but they are available at Dollar General and Dollar Tree for just a few dollars.  I also had the rocks left from some of my many craft projects.  These are also available for purchase at most dollar stores, but they only sell them in small quantities.  The artificial daisies are from Dollar General.  Large, single stems are $2 each and the bunch of smaller pink ones were $3 for the entire set.  The entire arrangement cost less than $10.  We needed a pop of spring color, as it is still very cold, gray and cloudy right now.  I was given the egg cup MANY years ago from my grandmother.  The golden egg was from an Easter party my daughter had gone to when she was younger.  The little burlap bunny was $3 at Dollar General.

Speaking of burlap, I am really into this accessory right now, as I am quite fond of the rustic farmhouse trend.  Here are some more of my burlap decorations.

Burlap frame
Burlap frame
Burlap Easter decor
Burlap Easter decor

The burlap bunny and the burlap wrapped Easter egg tree were Dollar General finds.  I bought two bunnies (a boy and a girl) and two trees.  The total for the four items was $26, which seems like a lot.  But when I priced the items I would need to craft these projects myself, the materials would cost considerably more, especially for the bunnies.  Oh, and the fact that I can’t sew!  The frame is a craft project I made earlier in the week using clearance-priced items from Hobby Lobby.  I took a chipboard frame priced at $2 and covered with burlap wrap meant for gift wrapping, which was also discounted.  The burlap flowers I used to embellish the frame were only 25 CENTS EACH!  I bought a whole bunch of these flowers in different colors, knowing I can make things out of them all year long!  The cost for the entire frame was about $5 and it’s unique.

One of the tricks to decorating on the cheap is using what you already have.  I keep a variety of glass bowls, vases, and glasses that I can use interchangeably with the seasons and holidays simply by swapping out what’s inside.  These three containers held Valentine decorations in February, but we now have a bowl of jellybeans with a candle for a centerpiece, a tall vase holding a rainbow of plastic eggs, and goblets holding nests of Robin’s Egg candies.  The only items I purchased new for this season were the candies and Easter grass.  Everything else has been reused and recycled.

jelly bean centerpiece
Jellybean centerpiece
rainbow egg tower
Rainbow egg tower
goblet nests
Goblet nests

And just in case you are wondering, I don’t purchase all of these things on the same day.  It’s more like a few each week leading up to the holiday.  Like this flower arrangement here was purchased and made a couple weeks ago.  The bunny was mentioned earlier, but the milk pitcher with daisies was created from more clearance items at Hobby Lobby.  They had a 50% off sale on all floral items and the pitcher was 40% off in the spring department.  And it’s cheerful!

Bunny and flowers
Bunny and flowers
Candy-filled critters
Candy-filled critters

My daughter has had these “critter eggs” since she was very young.  I just fill ’em with leftover candy from the other decorations and set them on a shelf.

Easter egg decor
Easter egg decor

My “other” Easter egg tree, along with an “old” basket and some decorated eggs that my mom gave me several years ago.

recycle and reuse containers
Recycle and reuse containers.
Easter mantle decor
Easter mantle decor-a combination of my favorite rustic elements with bright spring flowers, some Easter eggs and a bunny.
Dollar store wreath
Dollar store wreath

I found this cute wreath at Dollar General for only $10.  I’m pretty crafty with wreaths, but I could not have purchased all the individual supplies and made it for that price!  The plain wreath alone would have cost more than $10 at my favorite craft store.  Sometimes pre-made is the better bargain!

So those are the highlights of my Easter decorating this week.  I have some stuffed bunnies and baskets sitting around in different spots in the house, all of which have been accumulated in my daughter’s eleven previous Easters!  Likewise, we may never have to buy plastic eggs again, since we seem to stock pile them.  I am excited, however, that this is the most decorated my house has ever been for Easter, and I love it.  I hope you found some good tips and tricks, too.  For additional ideas for frugal decorating, check out The Prudent Penny Pincher or Home BNC