Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Tribute to Lorna Holley

My friend has gone home for Thanksgiving...I mean really home...home with Jesus. As we sit around our tables this Thursday, recounting our blessings, Lorna will be with the Blessing Giver. She is so very deserving of every blessing she has had, and every reward she will receive. She lived a life of sacrifice, and a life of surrender. She was my spiritual mentor, and I shall miss her greatly.

At age 19 Lorna took her guitar and traveled to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to hold a revival in a Methodist Church. That revival resulted in her planting a Church of the Nazarene in Pickford, Michigan. After she met and married Don Holley, they moved all over the United States as pastors and evangelists. To this day, the day of her death, she has had people reaching out to her, calling her, wanting spiritual advice, counseling, prayer. She was a great prayer warrior...I called upon her often when my needs were heavy.

She and her husband settled down in a log home here on Indian Lake Campground about 40 years ago so Lorna could care for her ailing husband and aging parents. She cared for them all until each of their deaths. Her mother lived to be over 100 years of age. That care giving took its toll on Lorna's life. Even though Lorna lived to be over 91 years of age, her health has not been good for many years. At the end of her life she had 15% heart capacity. We thought she would be taken from us in August, but lived another three months in a nursing home, unable to care for herself at home any longer.

Her son was at her side every single day she was in the nursing home. He was amazing in his care for her. She was the most popular resident at TenderCare...she had more visitors than anyone else. One special visitor came to see her almost every afternoon, and the whole facility was tickled to see her...Betsy, a toy Pomeranian. When Lorna held her, she was the envy of all the other residents. Betsy would bring a big smile to Lorna's face.

I'm going to miss Lorna. She lived kitty corner from me, and it was so easy to pop over and walk in her door and sit down at her table and tell her what was on my mind...what I was feeling...what was going on in my family and on the camp. I could cry and know she would understand and she would pray for the hurts, the needs, the confusion I sometimes experienced. Who will be there for me now? I've never had a soul mate before, nor a spiritual mentor. Now that I've had one, I will have a void in my life in her absence.

Lord, thank you for the blessing of Lorna Holley in my life. I am so tickled she is at home with you, living it up and doing things she hasn't been able to do for a long time. May I have learned from her and may I follow her example in being available for others...to be a great listener and prayer warrior. Lord, fill the void. Be near to her family members as they adjust to life without her. Amen.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Budget Survival - 2

Friday morning I started to blog about how we are getting through these tough economical times, and ended up bringing up the past. Our life style has changed these last five years, and I think I needed to tell from whence we came to better understand our current mode of living. Basically, we are now truly living by faith. Before moving to Michigan we lived on Paul's salary very comfortably. Our daily needs were met through his monthly income. (Our spiritual needs were absolutely met through faith.) God has brought us to this point in our lives so we see that our TOTAL dependence must be on Him. We live day to day...we don't have stocks and bonds and savings and inheritances to fall back on. That is all gone. Slowly but surely everything was drained from our lives these past five years.

We now live in a much smaller home and with a much simpler life style. Going to church is our social life, our big outing for the week. Now and then we get a treat...a vacation, a conference to attend (at company expense), a program put on by some Christian organization. We don't have hobbies that cost us any money. We golf about twice a year, if the budget is flexible enough to fit that in. We make our clothes and shoes last. They are definitely not in the budget. We've cut out medical expenses, trusting God for good health.

Our monthly budget includes: our tithe (charitable giving), mortgage, compassionate giving (we support two children in Africa), utilities, funeral prepayment, insurance, taxes, satellite service (our one splurge) and our daily expenses. I have all of our regular occuring bills set up on automatic payment, or I write checks the first of each month to make sure the monthly expenses are covered. What I have left after the bills are paid covers our daily expenses. That would include: food, gas, personal care, household items, dog care, any incidentals that life brings. When the vehicles need major repair or maintenance, that goes on the much dreaded use of the charge card, then adding one more bill to the monthly expenses. Ugh. There is such relief when I get the charge card paid off...but then within a few months something comes up that has to be covered by the card.

The flexible spending comes in our daily expenses. I have once again put us back on the envelope system. When our sons were in Junior High, I took them through a Larry Burkett study on budget/finances, and had them learn the envelope system. Each month they had to divide their allowance
into various envelopes (tithe, savings, clothes, personal care, gifts, free spending). They handled the system very well, and were excited when they had money left over at the end of the month. They put the leftover cash into a "rainy day" envelope to use as needed.

Our current envelope system has me taking what's left after all the bills are paid the first of the month and dividing it into four envelopes, one for each week. I keep a list of things we need for household and personal care, and I plan a weekly menu so I know exactly what food items I need each week. When the money for that week is gone, we must wait until the following week, even if that means not buying everything on my list. We will not be eating out or getting a pizza unless there is enough money in that week's envelope to splurge on those treats. This takes discipline and learning to say no and learning how to cut back. It isn't always fun, but there is satisfaction in knowing we are being good stewards of what God has given us.

The bottom line is God is good, He is faithful, and He knows our needs and our desires. He never leaves us wanting or desperate. He takes care of us. He sends us surprise love gifts. He shows us how we can make it. He provides in His own way and in His own time. He has shown us that if we will be faithful to Him, prudent in our financial affairs, He WILL take care of us as we depend on Him. It really does bring more pleasure knowing how dependent we are on Him...and how He provides. It builds and strengthens our faith.

Now that I've written this, it's time to go do my weekly shopping. I shop Wal-mart for household and personal care, and I shop Meijer for groceries. Those two places seem to have the best selections and prices. The key is to stick to my list, and to get the must haves first, and leave items on the list that I can't afford this week...like maybe laundry soap. I tend to buy to keep one item in stock to back up the item in use. I don't overstock for two reasons: I can't afford it, and I don't have the space to store it. Besides, maybe Jesus will come back and I won't need the "stuff"!!

Let me remind you: God is good. God is faithful. God provides. Trust God...He will never let you down or abandon you or reject you. He will always be there for you, forgive you, AND meet your needs. Father God, I praise you today, and love you supremely!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Budget Survival - 1

Well, I didn't win the DIY Blog Cabin, so I once again must figure out how to pay the bills without going under. Meanwhile I am registering every day to win a $100,000 kitchen and bath makeover through DIY. Sweepstakes are free...just takes a moment each day to enter on-line. It's okay to dream. However, reality is what I must live with every day...so how do I do it?

When my husband and I came to Michigan to follow God's leading into a camping ministry, my husband's salary was cut by 2/3rds of what he made as a chemical engineer in the corporate world. We had to give our newly built dream house away...basically selling it at a loss of our 33 years of equity we had in the home. We left behind a 2,800 sq. foot ranch home with all the bells and whistles (including a 2,800 sq. ft walk-out basement) located in a Country Club development, on a golf course with a private pond on our two acres. We had built our dream home as our last home before retirement. Paul was a VP in the company, and we had about 15 years before we planned to move back south (North Carolina area).

My parents had a small cottage (360 square feet) on the campground to which we moved. We lived in that cottage, which was not winterized (we wrapped pipes and used space heaters and our two dogs to keep us warm and the pipes from freezing) for the 18 months it took to sell our ranch house back in Illinois. Basically we lived through two winters in the cottage...one bathroom, one small bedroom, and one main room which was our kitchen, our office, and our living room. In the summer we doubled our square footage by using our screen porch for relaxation. There was no room to put a furnace or a washer and dryer, so weekly I trotted to the local laundromat, five miles away. But we were content...we were where God wanted us. The cottage, by the way, had become ours since Mom and Dad both moved to Heaven.

When our house sold back in Illinois, we had no equity with which to buy another place here in Michigan, so we rented a condo for a year. It was located 8 miles from the campground, and we missed living where we worked. At the end of the year we used our cottage as collateral to get a mortgage on a 1,200 square foot house next door to the cottage. We had it renovated, vaulting the ceilings, turning one small bedroom into a second bath and walk-in closet for the master bedroom (which is 11'x10').

We had increased our space three times the amount we lived with at the cottage, but less than one half the space of our former home in Illinois...plus no basement, except for one bedroom which we use for our granddaughters when they come to visit. So...we obviously had a lot of down-sizing/unloading to do. The camp has inherited much of our furniture and yard equipment. We gave some away to our former pastor and his family, and to a young couple who had lost everything back in Katrina...the hurricane of the century. We were blessed to be able to give, and it enabled us to fit nicely into our smaller home. The blessing of a small home is there is not as much to clean!! I can handle that!!

Once we made the move and started unloading items, I have been on the kick ever since. If we ever move again, I don't want to have to haul a bunch of "stuff" with us. So my library is dwindling little by little (see the side bar about the books I am reading), and every summer I have a give away table out in the yard during our annual camp garage sale days. If someone else can use it, and I don't need it...then it's time to get rid of it!! I don't like clutter, and I no longer care for accumulation.

Well...didn't know I would share this part of my story, but now that I have started, I'd like to go on. However, time for me to head to work. I'll be back later for another segment of Budget Survival.