End of the Month

Earlier this month I talked about the spending freeze I did last January.  I opted not to do the freeze this year, but have been very careful and deliberate with my budgeting because I have some extremely aggressive savings goals this year.  It seems that every month something happens that I didn’t anticipate, sometimes in my favor, sometimes not. 

The category I went over in this month was giving, which I think is ultimately a good thing, and it was offset by money I saved on gas and groceries.  There is definitely something to be said for living close to work, having an fuel efficient vehicle, and sharing expenses with a house mate!  Hannah continues to be a costly line item, but she makes me laugh and keeps me fit from walking, so I’m considering her food expenses as an offset to my physical and mental well being. 

At the end of it all, I met my savings goal (in addition to the 25% I have taken out each month for my 401k since I’m playing catch up), had an extra $4.89 in my checking account and a whopping $6.00 in my wallet. Overall, I’m pleased with how things went, but would like to increase the amount of money I am saving.  Since I’m already pretty lean in most of my budget categories, I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do that.  Earlier in the month I did cancel my cell phone insurance, which will hopefully save me $10 a month, but even so I am going to need to get creative!

That’s what I enjoyed most about the spending fast – it required me to use my imagination and be content with what I had.  What could I do with the food that I already had in my pantry?  How many meals could I create that were healthy and tasty, even if they were a little unique?  What could I substitute for something that broke and needed to be replaced?  Unfortunately, once the spending fast was over, I no longer challenged myself to be innovative or make due with what I had. 

To further complicate things, a winter coat that I’ve wanted for a while is currently on sale at a substantial savings.  It’s a coat I could use for many, many years, and over time the cost per year would be minimal, but it’s still a lot of money when I’m trying to save. My current saving goal could still be met, but I wouldn’t be able to increase it like I am hoping to.  The sale goes until February 2, so I have a couple of days to ponder it – I’ll be sure to let you know on which side of the fence I land!


I’m trying, really I am, but despite my best efforts, I can’t seem to get more sleep.  It’s not that I can’t fall asleep, I have absolutely no problem with that.  Once I decide I’m going to go to sleep, I’m asleep within moments.  The problem is staying asleep.  For some reason, I can’t seem to sleep until the alarm.  If I go to bed earlier, I just wake up earlier. 

It’s been like this for years – I can’t remember the last time I had eight hours of sleep, except when I’ve been sick.  Maybe when I was a teenager, which was a pretty long time ago.

When I wake up, I tell myself, don’t think, don’t think, in the hope that I can go back to sleep.  If I have to go to the bathroom, I don’t turn on any lights so that I don’t fully wake up.  Sometimes I can fall back asleep, but if it’s 4:00 am or later, my chances are not good.

The unfortunate thing is that there’s really not a lot to do at that time of day and since I don’t really want to be awake, I’m a little grumpy.  There’s an ongoing delusion that if I lie there with my eyes closed and breathe deeply and slowly, I’ll fall asleep.  What really happens is that I toss and turn and feel sorry for myself because I can’t stay asleep.


If I decide to make good use of the time to read, I have to be very quiet and still because Hannah will think it’s time to get up and go for our walk.  Once she’s up, it’s very hard to convince her that it’s still bedtime. 

Research has shown that there are numerous benefits to getting more sleep – all of which are things that are important to me, things like:

Feeling happier

Improving short term memory

Being a safer driver

Having healthier skin

Being more productive

Making fewer mistakes

Better overall health and resistance to disease

There’s more I would like to say on the subject, but it’s getting very close to my bedtime and I’m not going to quit trying to get more sleep.  If you have any ideas about how to get more sleep in the world that would prefer that we just get more done, I’d love to hear from you!

Social Responsibility and Justice

A few years ago, I embarked on something I wanted to do for a long time (and attempted and failed on several occasions!) – read all the way through the Bible. A new Bible and study had just been published called The Bible in 90 Days by Ted Cooper and it seemed like the perfect opportunity and tool to make it happen.  Surely I could stick with it for ninety days! There were other people on the journey with me and we met each week to talk about what we’d read and how it was going.  A lot of the stories were very familiar, Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark, Joseph and his brothers, and Moses leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. 

As I read through Genesis and Exodus, I confess I was feeling a bit smug.  Surely I in all my wisdom would have made different choices, better choices.  Take a bite of the apple?  No, thank you.  Whine about not having meat or cucumbers when God is providing me with meals in the desert?  Never! 

Reading through the Bible at that pace doesn’t allow much time for understanding and application, so once I wrapped up my ninety days and took a brief hiatus, I decided to go through the Bible again, this time reading just one chapter a day.  This time I used an app – the NIV Study Bible app, which has all kinds of fancy features and study notes and I enjoyed it so much, I started over again once I got through Revelation. 

As I reread all the familiar stories, I started to see some similarities between me and the people I was reading about and I had to rethink my holier than thou attitude.  When I know better than to do something, when I’ve been warned, do I believe lies that convince me to do something I know I shouldn’t?  Something that will harm me?  The truth is, I’ve taken quite a few bites of the apple in my lifetime.  And what about being ungrateful, not appreciating all that I’ve been given?  Yup, I’m guilty of that, too. 

One thing hasn’t changed over thousands of years, and that one thing is human nature.  I was created – God’s masterpiece!  And yet I spend time thinking of all the ways I don’t measure up, I don’t do the things that I want to do and do the things I hate (Romans 15:7), I whine about the things that are wrong in my life, completely forgetting to count the hundreds of blessings I experience daily, and I’m just so busy, I can’t possibly do things to help people who are in need. 

It took over three years to read through the Bible at that pace, and another three years to do it again, but I found that I understood more and more, could relate to the people and the stories, and developed a desire to be and act more like Jesus, to care about the things he cares about, to start to live a different kind of life.  In November I started over again, this time using the Quest Study Bible, which is full of answers to all kinds of questions I’ve had for years!

Quest Study Bible

Today I was reading about protection of property and social responsibility in Exodus 22.  What struck me about the chapter was that God cares about justice and wants us to take care of each other.  Sure, the actual text is hard to relate to in our modern world – all that talk of donkeys, oxen and sheep, but the meaning is clear.  We need to be responsible for our actions, own up to our mistakes and make things right.  We shouldn’t take advantage of others that are less fortunate, but strive to make sure those people that live on the margins are protected.

Maybe you’re thinking, well, everyone knows that, this is not a new idea or revelation.  Yes, we know it, but what are we – what am I doing to remind myself?  As much as I like to view myself as a good person, I get caught up in day to day stuff, my day to day stuff, and I’m far too busy to think about what it takes to make a positive contribution to the world.  The only thing that keeps it in the forefront of my mind, is to take the time to read a chapter every day.

How about you?  Have you ever read through the Bible?  Could you relate to the characters?  I’d love to hear about your experience either on Facebook or by leaving a comment!