Tuesday, December 6, 2016

December Daily - Day 6 - The Master Checklist

I wrote a post back in October about needing to work on discipline in my life over the next year, and how I was hoping that a checklist might help in that pursuit.  After a few weeks of testing the one I had written, and making some changes here and there, I rewrote it into the front of my journal... complete with poems and verses, reminders and to-do's.  When I follow it?  It's amazing.  When I don't?  Well... I tend to get REALLY overwhelmed.  See that line that says, "Stitch w/ Psalms" at the bottom?  That is the one I always tend to skip because "I'm just too busy this morning!" but being creative - working on something that is beautiful to display in my home - while listening to Scripture feeds my soul and the rest of my day goes better.  And when I skip it?  I still spend the time  - but it's usually on not so helpful forms of relaxation like surfing the internet aimlessly, wandering through Pinterest, or playing a game online with nothing to show but wasted time and perhaps a virtual trophy.

Yesterday was one of those days that I just couldn't focus because there were so many things that had piled up over the weekend.  When I started to complain - "I'm too busy today to use the checklist! -  God impressed the word "discipline" on my mind.  He knew that the reason I was fretting wasn't that I was "too busy", but because the checklist has me put the house in order and have my quiet time before I work on GraceWorks things, and I had orders to get out and a blog post to write and I was sure I couldn't do it that way.  Knowing that I needed to obey the still, small voice,  I decided I would work from my checklist, so I got started getting the house in order, and then, while I was sitting down with my Bible and notebook, I got a call from my husband saying he was sorry but he couldn't come home for lunch.  It was such an answer to a prayer I hadn't even prayed!  Not having to stop and fix his meal gave me the extra time to get everything done that I needed, and confirmed in my mind once again that God's priorities for my life are best.

If you'd like to make a checklist for yourself, I'd encourage you to start with a piece of paper you don't mind messing up and just jot down your thoughts in a rough draft form.  You can include as much or as little information as you need to personalize it.  Then work with it for a few days and make changes as you need to.  After a few weeks or a month, when you are comfortable with it, you can rewrite it like I did.  Just remember that it is a work in progress and a tool, not a master.  Don't make your family miserable because you have to follow your checklist to the letter! : )  As for me, I'm so thankful for the guidance it is providing me right now, and I look forward to becoming more disciplined as I follow it in the coming year!!



Monday, December 5, 2016

December Daily - Day 5 - The Great Money Challenge

Hello again, friends!

It looks like this outside my window...

and inside it is a jumble of empty water glasses, antibiotics and kleenex as we have strep throat in the house.   So, if you are wondering where my day 3 and 4 went, I was playing nurse! : )

Another thing I've been doing, though, is thinking about things that I want to work on in my life and character over the next year and one of those things is how I handle money.  I was talking about it with a group of online friends awhile back and bemoaning the fact that when we worked at a Bible College and had three young children at home I handled money much more carefully than I do now.  It seems that my wants and wishes grew as our paycheck increased, and that when the many years of homeschooling ended I suddenly felt like I was entitled to spend more money on me.  Our main grocery store is still half an hour away, but there are other stores closer - Walmart and Walgreens to name a few - that make it easy to "grab a few things" when I run orders to the post office.  I noticed, too, that when I was homeschooling I had a set purpose in my mind, but when homeschooling ended my purpose became muddled.  I was a homemaker, a stamper, the manager of GraceWorks, a wife, a mom, a piano teacher...  but what were my priorities?  That's going to be one of the questions that I look at in detail this year, and my first step is going to be to take a money challenge.  My sweet husband is going to be my accountability partner through this and we are going to take it 3 months at a time starting next week.  Here are a few of the things I am going to work on...

1. I am going to list needs and wishes specifically as they arise - not generally.  For example, I will write "Warm Navy Skirt" or "Black Tights - 3 pair", rather than "winter clothes".  The reason is, if I go to the store to buy a navy skirt I know I can check it off my list when I bring it home in my shopping bag.  It is done.  But if I have listed "winter clothes", how do I know when I am done?  Maybe I need "just one more" sweater, or skirt, or pair of gloves, or, ...or, ....or!  And the item never gets checked off because I might still "need" (or see!) one more thing.

2. When I put an item on my list I will ask the following questions:
- Need/Want?
- Now/Later?
- When is the next sale?
- Is there something that you are currently saving for that is more important?
- Is there something that you are currently saving for that is less important?
- Can this wait until your birthday?  Until Christmas?
- What do you already have that you could use/do instead?  
This last question is especially aimed at craft supplies and the sudden urges that I get to go shopping.  I have so much that isn't being used.  What could I do or use instead of shopping for more??

3. I will assign each item a timeframe and start a savings sheet, or add it to my birthday or Christmas wish lists.  I made a savings sheet for myself that I thought I'd share with you, in case any of you need help in this area as well.  Blogger won't let me upload a PDF file, so if you would like this page to print out for yourself, just drop me an email at gracewrks@gmail.com and I will send you the file for free during the month of December.  I'll put it in the store, too, in case you'd like to have it printed for you! : )

5. Except in rare cases, an item must be on my sheet for a least a week before I shop for it, online or in store.  Hopefully this will keep me from impulse purchases.

6. I will start to deposit money in the Christmas Club again, and I will make a list of Christmas gift ideas throughout the year and shop in October and November when the Christmas Club money comes available.  When my children were small I would shop all year round, picking up bargains as I saw them.  This worked because I only saw a mall or large store every few months when we traveled to the nearest "big city".  Also, we had no internet at home.  Now, when everything is my your fingertips, it is too easy for me to overspend my budget on things that I can easily get later.

The last thing that we have decided to do is to give me a monthly "paycheck" to take care of our home.  The money will be used for clothing, groceries, household supplies (paper products, new towels, a new pan, etc..), as well as birthday gifts, chiropractor visits and fun money.  I'm really excited about this for a few different reasons.  First, it will force me to be more mindful of my spending because I would hate to have to ask for a loan from our joint account!!  Second, it will give my mind a concrete reminder that my home and husband come first - even over GraceWorks!  And, third, if I plan carefully, I will have some discretionary money that I can use to save for the things on my savings sheets! : )

Please don't go away thinking that I am only working on my home for money.  I hope this isn't a case of my not loving my home or my husband, or being unhappy where God has graciously settled me.  It is more a tool to retrain my mind and refocus my attention so I can rest and enjoy my home, rather than always feeling a pull between it and GraceWorks and the crafts that I enjoy spending time on.  I can tell myself - "You are getting paid to keep your home, so it needs to be done first before you go to the office (aka the basement)."  I'm hoping it will also help me make well thought out purchases.  Where before I might save money for a new stamp set and buy it, and then realize I needed a new pan and buy it as well, even though I didn't really have extra money, I am hoping that the challenge will help me to think ahead and make better choices.  "I can buy either the pan or the stamp set.  Hmmm.  The old pan has no coating left, so I need a new pan.  I can put the stamp set on my birthday list, I don't need it, I just want it.  I will buy the pan right now, and not buy the stamp set."

Here is the monthly budget sheet that I made myself.  It will be in the store, soon as well.

Sorry it is so blurry!  The top gives me a place to write down extra expense for the month - maybe I will be going out with a friend for coffee, or I need to get a picture framed.  Then a place for wants and wishes, and a place to make a plan... what will and won't come out of that month's budget.  The right side will help me to keep track of the money I have available and I can use the back as well, if I run out of room.  I am going to work on making it a habit to fill in any spending each evening before I go to bed.

I am so excited to get started on this.  I pray the Lord will use it in my life to polish rough edges and make me more grateful for His daily provision for me.  I would truly like to say that "I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." and not have to add "most of the time..." to the end.

Don't forget to email me if you would like to be able to print out the savings sheet, and watch for the other pages to be in the store in a couple of days... once my webmaster gets back on her feet after strep!  We'll send out a newsletter when they are in the store, so you don't forget. : )



Friday, December 2, 2016

December Daily Planning Style - Day Two

Oh, just LOOK at what I discovered!! : )  I was needing to write myself a to do list and, as my planner was upstairs and I was downstairs, I grabbed a little handful of the Lilac Line To Do pages to write it on.  I have always loved the Lilac Line - it is so pretty and purple after all! - but since it was 3 hole punched it didn't work in my binder.  Until today.  I grabbed my seven hole punch so I could make the list fit in my planner - - and the holes matched almost perfectly!!!!!  I was ecstatic!!  I grabbed some of the Weekly Planning sheets and some notepaper and punched that, too with the same result.  YIPPEE!!  I now have purple pages in my planner!! : )  So... if any of you have loved the Lilac Line pages as well, but couldn't see how to make them work, now you know!  We will just punch them with 7 holes before we pack them. : )  Click HERE to see the entire line in the store.  The description won't be updated for a day or two probably as my webmistress (aka my daughter!) is down with some sort of cold/flu yuckiness. :-(  But I promise I will 7 hole punch the pages before I ship them!

You can see I have quite a long list, so I'm going to sign off for today.

Happy December!


Thursday, December 1, 2016

December Daily Planning Style - Day One

Hello lovelies!

A number of my friends in the stamping world make a scrapbook each year called their December Daily Book.  Some of the scrapbooks are elaborate and some are quite simple, but each of them include a picture from the day and a little journaling.  I thought that this year I would take the time to do a December Daily feature - Planning Style - here on the blog, so here's my picture for Day One...

I like to spend the month of December getting ready for the year ahead and reflecting on the year behind.  After my quiet time this morning, I decided that I would journal a little about my word for next year.  I actually took inspiration from a friend and looked at Willow Tree Figurines to help me choose my word.  The one that stood out to me was the little girl holding her hands up with a dove in them.  Do you see her in the picture above?  The name of the figurine was "Soar".  Was she giving?  Or receiving?  Or both?  Oh how I loved the pictures that her pose put in my mind!  This coming year I would like to soar.  To let go of the past - raising my hands to God with my whole life in them - in order to receive, in return, all that God has for me - both joy and sorrow.  To be gentle, to be pure, to be spirit filled.  To think of others before myself.

I used one of the lovely Pathways to Inner Beauty pages to begin my journey.  Up on the top there's a place for the grace or attribute that you are working on, and then there is a spot to write in its enemies.  I think these will be a good way for me to explore what God is teaching me through the year.  

Would you like to join me?  Today and tomorrow - December 1st and 2nd - for every pack of Pathways to Inner Beauty pages you purchase I will include an extra 10 Inner Beauty pages free to keep or share with a friend.  (No coupon code required!)  I'd love to hear about the word you are choosing!!

Until tomorrow,



Visit our shop for more planning pages and accessories!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thankful for You Sale

Hi everyone!

I got totally distracted last week when I decided to purge and destash in my stamping room, so I haven't worked on that update of an old favorite that I promised you in the last post.  I have a little cardmaking challenge that I am going to do with a friend and I wanted to do a complete overhaul of my supplies before it starts in January.  That's a big job!!  Anyway, I wanted to drop in and let you know that our Thankful for You Sale will start this Wednesday, November 23rd, and go through Monday, November 28th.  To show our thanks for each of you, you can use the code THANKFUL at checkout to receive 20% off your purchase!   Plus, if your order reaches $50.00 after the discount and before shipping, we will send along a set of beautiful recipe cards for your planner for free!  They are so pretty and great for keeping your favorite recipes at your fingertips.  Place a $75.00 order and you will also get free shipping, and if your order hits the $100.00 mark, there will be an extra surprise in your package.  :)   This would be a wonderful time to stock up on pages for the new year, try some pages that you've been interested in, or buy some Christmas presents.  You could even go in with a friend to get the free shipping!

Thank you so much for your support of GraceWorks over this past year.  I so appreciate each one of you and pray that you will have a blessed Thanksgiving celebrating with your family!



Monday, November 14, 2016

Do you Feel Inadequate?

Have you ever felt inadequate?  As though everyone in the world is better at organization, or self-discipline, or patience, or being a good mom, or homeschooling, or blogging, or... you fill in the blank?

During my quiet time yesterday I was reading about the feeding of the 5,000.  The disciples and the Lord Jesus had gone away into the desert to rest, but people persisted in following them so they could listen to the Lord and be healed by him.  How tired they all must have been!  Finally, when the disciples asked Jesus to send the crowd away so they could get something to eat, He instead said, "You give them something to eat."  I can only imagine their feelings.  They were tired.  They had had a long day.  And surely Jesus knew that they didn't have enough to feed themselves - not to mention 5,000 or so others!

And, yes, Christ did know.  He knew that they could give the people nothing if He did not provide it.  But he used the little they had to give, and then He blessed it and multiplied it beyond measure.

So often I have found myself saying, "Lord, what can I do?  I don't have anything to give that countless others haven't given already - and better!"  But in this story the Lord said to me, "Just give me the little bit that you do have, and I will bless it and give it back to you to share with others."

What "little bit" do you have that seems inadequate for the present need?  I pray that we will each give it back to Him freely and trust Him for the rest!




PS - Don't forget that the Classic Home Journal set and refills are on sale, as well as a number of pages in the Whimsical Line!  And I'll be back in a few days with an update to an old favorite.  See you then!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Checking Things Off

Hello, Hello!

I've been doing some reading these past two weeks on how to make good lists and checklists and how helpful they can be.  From building skyscrapers to flying planes, it seems that many complex situations use checklists to keep on track and to keep from forgetting details that might get overlooked.  Of course, this got me interested and I decided to start my own checklist to help me remember certain things that I want to make a habit again --things like exercising, doing my housework in the morning, and listening to the Psalms while cross stitching.

Something that one of the books mentioned was that checklists require discipline.  Uggh.  That is something I am sadly lacking in!  But if you can discipline yourself to follow the checklist carefully you will make fewer mistakes and you will develop good habits.  That is something I would like!  So in a few key places on my list - you know, places where I am apt to take a shortcut... - I have written the word DISCIPLINE.  My hope is that I will see the reminder and be encouraged to keep going!! 

Lists and checklists seem to always be in a state of flux.  As circumstances change our lists will as well.  I am encouraged, though, to keep moving forward using my lists to help me.

What about you?  Do you enjoy using lists or are they too rigid?  Do you make lists and then not follow them?  I would love to hear your challenges and tips!



PS - If you are wondering, the books I read were Listful Thinking by Paula Rizzo and The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande.  Lots of food for thought in them!!