Sunday, December 17, 2017

Thoughts About Giving... and a Breast Cancer Recovery Journey Update

Just because it's pretty!

I thought I'd give y'all an update on my breast cancer recovery journey. I am feeling pretty good right now. I finished the main part of my chemo in September. The worst of it is out of my system now. I had a double mastectomy with reconstruction in October. I went through some emotional turmoil after surgery that was exacerbated by the medications, but I am now feeling much better. I'm back on what I call mini-chemo—just one IV drug, and it doesn't seem to affect me in a bad way that I notice. That's a couple hours every three weeks. In January, I'll begin 7 weeks of radiation 5 days a week. I'm also taking a hormone blocking pill now. Fun stuff. The cancer doctor told me that I am in "rare total remission". Praise God! He's good! I've still got a long treatment road ahead of me, but it's been nice to have a few weeks of feeling more like myself during Christmas. It has been a gift.

Suddenly, just being alive is a gift. Conversations with family members that I'd lost touch with are gifts. Living in a safe place where I don't fear is a gift.

Thoughts on Giving:
I gave something away last week that I still enjoyed and wanted to keep. I realized that the family I gave it to would enjoy it far more now than I would if I kept it and used it next month. It was better to give than receive. It was also better to obey. I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit and couldn't deny it.  
I gave it willingly, and it brought me joy to give it. This experience made me think about what else I have lying around the house that someone else might need or enjoy. I think I'll be giving more things away over the coming weeks—not because I need to clear things out (which I do) but because keeping things that I don't need, don't have a definite plan for, and don't have a reason to keep (joy or good memories), is rather selfish of me.

Well, that's all for now. It's a week until Christmas. 
What gift do you have that you've not even noticed? 

God bless you! Keep your cool. Take this week one day at a time, and enjoy the journey. 

Holiday hugs!
Enjoying gifts in a new way

Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Thrifty Week at Harvest Lane Cottage #116

Welcome to another 
Thrifty Week at Harvest Lane Cottage!
Each week I share ways I've saved money, my thrifty and frugal projects, and my blessings from God. 

A Thrifty Week at Harvest Lane Cottage
I am so glad you dropped in for a visit today—or tonight!
Please say hello! I'm always looking for new blog friends!


Happy Christmas time everyone!

  Are you getting ready? I've gotten a good start on my shopping now. My list is short this year. I bought some things online, a few things locally, and my husband is going to get a few things for me. On a whim, my husband and I decided that we will open our house to friends on Christmas Eve afternoon. Just a little come and go thing. It will motivate me to clean and bake. ~smile~ I'm planning to keep it simple. I told my girls that they may invite whomever they wish. My Emily sent out a Facebook invitation to virtually everyone she knows! Our house is pretty small. We'll see what happens. It may be quite cozy!

  Well, enough for now—on to my blessings and a bit of our thrifty life.

A Quote for You
"You see, darlin', the roots on a willow tree run deep, clear under the ground to the source of water. That's what keeps it alive even when everything around it is drying out. Faith works the same way. It runs way down deep through our souls to the source—to God—and keeps us going when things get hard." 
Kim Vogel Sawyer in Where Willows Grow 
Here's my thrifty week!
  • I bought twenty pounds of 80/20 ground chuck for $1.99/lb. That is an excellent price for our area.
  • Avocados $.42 each at Walmart
  • Cranberry Wassail with frozen cranberries that my dad gave me a few months ago. I substituted a sliced orange for the orange essential oil.
  • Recently, I bought wrapping paper at Hobby Lobby for half price. It's thick, sturdy, and lined. It's a big roll, too. At half price, it's comparable in cost to dollar store paper, but much higher quality. It was so nice, I went back for a second roll that was red with polka dots. I'll use the Christmas paper first, then use the polka dots if needed. I can use them all year round for gifts.
  • My husband, Lowell, cleared out a bunch of stuff in the garage. Thirty cubic feet of real estate investment!
  • Three cubic feet for me this week. Wonder what I mean? Read this, then go make an investment today! 
  • Avocados at Aldi for $.39 each. 
  • Bone in chicken breasts at Food 4 Less for $.79 a pound.
  • Chicken leg quarters ten pounds for $6.00 at Food 4 Less
  • Lowell contacted AAA a couple weeks ago to see if we could get the special for giving memberships to our kids. They just added them on for free instead! He also found out that we could get the vehicles towed 100 miles instead of 3 miles by paying about $30 more. We're so glad we did it!
  • We got a free tow for our son's truck with our AAA membership. The membership paid for itself already.
  • I crocheted a stack of dishcloths for a friend with yarn that was given to me. I used some other leftover yarn to crochet a long chain to tie them together. It made a cute stack. 
  • One Christmas Past
  • A sweet lady from church brought me some shampoo and conditioner that is supposed to help with hair growth. It's called Monat.
  • I gave my extra Christmas tree and ornaments to a friend. That was another six cubic feet of real estate investment.
  • I went Christmas shopping at thrift stores. It was a bit late in the season, so all I found was a little 25 cent cup for me that says PEACE.
  • Remember how I told you we were blessed with a dvd/vcr last week? Another friend asked if I'd found one yet. I told her yes. She offered me hers, too. I said yes. It's good to have a back up since I cannot buy another one. It'll be stored for future use. Yes, it takes up space, but it's not clutter since I can't replace it easily. 
  Let's do all we can to keep our peace and joy regardless of our circumstances or who we're with. I am going to spend some time over the next few days making a list and checking it twice. I already know who's been naughty or nice. ~wink~ I'll actually make several lists. We still have time to do this without losing our heads. God bless you each. If you have any advice for last minute preparations, please share them in the comments.

That's my thrifty week.

What are you doing in your home this week?


...doing what I can with what I've got
where I am on a short shoestring budget!



Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Are You Facing Hard Times? A Christmas Story of Desperation and Hope: A Christmas Miracle on the Frontier

Hard times don't take a Christmas vacation.
Loss of a loved one, family strife, natural disasters, a frightening diagnosis, loneliness, and financial stress can all contribute to our hard times.

I know several people who really stretch their money to make ends meet. There's only so much elastic in a dollar bill you know. I've been testing that stretch capacity full-time for nearly thirteen years now.

Most likely you know someone who's struggling. Maybe it is you. Our families will be affected differently by these situations, but it will be a challenging season for all of us who are experiencing hard times.

Sometimes, in our desperation, we give up to despair.
Sometimes, in our desperation, we give in to God and
he takes over. He comes in and saves us... maybe not
from the circumstances...but always from the despair.

Give in and find hope, peace, love, healing, and provision.
God's arm is not too short. Nothing is impossible with God.

Please enjoy this story that I share each year....

A Christmas Miracle on the Frontier

     I remember a day one winter that stands out like a boulder in my life. The weather was unusually cold; our salary had not been regularly paid and it did not meet our needs when it was. My husband was away much of the time, traveling from one district to another. Our boys were well, but my little Ruth was ailing and at best none of us were decently clothed. I patched and re-patched, with spirits sinking to the lowest ebb. The water gave out in the well and the wind blew through the cracks in the floor.

     The people in the parish were kind, and generous too, but the settlement was new and each family was struggling for itself. Little by little, at the time I needed it most, my faith began to waver. Early in life I was taught to take God at His word, and I thought my lesson was well learned. I had lived upon the promises in dark times until I knew, as David did, who was my Fortress and my Deliverer. Now a daily prayer for forgiveness was all that I could offer.

     My husband’s overcoat was hardly thick enough for October, and he was often obliged to ride miles to attend some meeting or funeral.  Christmas was coming; the children always expected their presents. I remember the ice was thick and smooth and the boys were each craving a pair of skates. Ruth, in some unaccountable way, had taken a fancy that the dolls I had made were no longer suitable; she wanted a nice large one, and insisted on praying for it.

     I knew it was impossible, but, oh! how I wanted to give each child his present. It seemed as if God had deserted us. But I did not tell my husband all this. He worked so earnestly and heartily, I supposed him to be as hopeful as ever. I kept the sitting room cheerful with an open fire, and I tried to serve our scanty meals as invitingly as I could.

     That morning before Christmas, James was called to see a sick man. I put up a piece of bread for his lunch–it was the best I could do–wrapped my plaid shawl around his neck and then tried to whisper a promise as I often had, but the words died away upon my lips. I let him go without it.  That was a dark, hopeless day. I coaxed the children to bed early, for I could not bear their talk. When Ruth went, I listened for her prayer. She asked for the last time most explicitly for her doll and for skates for her brothers. Her bright face looked so lovely when she whispered to me, “You know I think they’ll be here early tomorrow morning, Mama” that I thought I could move Heaven and earth to save her from disappointment. I sat down alone and gave way to the most bitter tears.

     Before long James returned, chilled and exhausted. He drew off his boots. The thin stockings clipped off with them and his feet were red with cold. “I wouldn’t treat a dog that way; let alone a faithful servant,” I said. Then as I glanced up and saw the hard lines in his face and the look of despair, it flashed across me that James had let go too.

     I brought him a cup of tea, feeling sick and dizzy at the very thought. He took my hand and we sat for an hour without a word. I wanted to die and meet God and tell Him His promise wasn’t true–my soul was so full of rebellious despair.

     There came a sound of bells, a quick step and a loud knock at the door. James sprang to open it. There stood Deacon White. “A box came by express just before dark. I brought it around as soon as I could get away. Reckoned it might be for Christmas. ‘At any rate’ I said, ‘they shall have it tonight.’ Here is a turkey my wife asked me to fetch along and these other things I believe belong to you.” There were a basket of potatoes, and a bag of flour. Talking all the time, he hurried in the box and then with a hearty good night, he rode away.

     Still without speaking, James found a chisel and opened the box. He drew out first a thick red blanket and we saw that beneath it, the box was full of clothing. It seemed at that moment as if Christ fastened upon me a look of reproach. James sat down and covered his face with his hands. “I can’t touch them,” he explained. “I haven’t been true, just when God was trying me to see if I could hold out. Do you think I could not see how you were suffering? And I had no word of comfort to offer. I know now how to preach the awfulness of turning away from God.”

     “James,” I said, clinging to him, “don’t take it to heart like this. I am to blame. I ought to have helped you. We will ask Him together to forgive us.”  We poured out words of praise–Bible words, for nothing else could express our thanksgiving.  It was eleven o’ clock; the fire was low and there was the great box with nothing touched but the warm blanket we needed. We piled on some fresh logs, lighted two candles and began to examine our treasures.

     We drew out an overcoat. I made James try it on–just the right size–and I danced around him, for all my lightheartedness had returned. There was a cloak and he insisted on seeing me in it. My spirits always infected him and we both laughed like foolish children.

     There was a warm suit of clothes also and three pairs of woolen hose. There were a dress for me and yards of flannel, a pair of arctic overshoes for each of us and in mine a slip of paper. I have it now and mean to hand it down to my children. It was Jacob’s blessing to Asher: “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days so shall thy strength be.”

     In the gloves, evidently for James, the same dear hand had written: “I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”  It was a wonderful box and packed with thoughtful care. There were a suit of clothes for each of the boys and a little red gown for Ruth. There were mittens, scarf, and hood, and down in the center–a box. We opened it and there was a great wax doll!! I burst into tears again and James wept with me for joy. It was too much! And then we both exclaimed again, for close behind it came two pairs of skates. There were books for us to read–some of them I had wished to see–stories for the children to read, aprons and underclothing, knots of ribbon, a gay little tidy, a lovely photograph, needles, buttons, and thread, a muff, and an envelope containing a ten dollar gold piece.

     At last we cried over everything we took up. It was past midnight and we were faint and exhausted even with happiness. I made a cup of tea, cut a fresh loaf of bread and James boiled some eggs. We drew up the table before the fire. How we enjoyed our supper! And then we sat talking over our life and how sure a help God always proved.

     You should have seen the children the next morning! The boys raised a shout at the sight of their skates–Ruth caught up her doll and hugged it tightly without a word; then she went into her room and knelt by her bed.  When she came back she whispered to me, “I knew it would be here Mama, but I wanted to thank God just the same, you know.”

     “Look here, Wife, see the difference!” We went to the window and there were the boys out of the house already and skating on the crust with all their might.  My husband and I both tried to return thanks to the church in the East that sent us the box–and have tried to return thanks unto God every day since. 

     Hard times have come again and again, but we have trusted in Him–dreading nothing so much as a doubt of His protecting care. “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”


Reprinted by permission from Lizzie at A Dusty Frame.   She typed it up from a very old book, The Sword Book of Treasures by Dr. John R. Rice, published in 1946 gem.

Happy Christmas,
Trusting in His care
May I suggest?