13 October 2017

Christian Corner - October

Many would agree with me on this, introducing one’s self to a group of people (or a website audience) is not an easy task. To be perfectly honest, I get nervous when we’re eating at a family gathering, and I am nominated to say the blessing because my Daddy isn’t there. I’m just going to dive head first into this and let you, the reader, know exactly who I am, and what I am about.
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My name is Trey Jackson, and I’m the husband to Melissa Jackson (owner of Living the Thrifty Life). I’m 31 years old, served for nearly 8 years in the United States Navy, and have traveled to well over 20 countries throughout my life. I’ve seen things throughout my life that would shock people, bring others to tears, and in some instances, make some excited for the “fun” they were about to have. I want to use these experiences and stories as a teaching tool, and use scripture to help mold the experiences I have had into something one can read and contemplate. Keeping ones focus solely on Christ takes an enormous commitment of your mind, body, and spirit. Keeping evil, i.e. sin, completely out of our lives is an impossibility, because we are human, and we make mistakes every single day. It’s how we repent, and work harder to correct the mistakes that we make that help define the type of person we are, and more specifically, the type of Christ follower we are.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:35-40
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None of us are perfect, myself included. Here’s a verse for you to remember (‘for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’ Romans 3:23), it is one that I should remember more often when I falter. It can be reassuring to know that even when we fall short, God’s love for us doesn’t. He proved that by sending his only Son, Jesus, to die for us – you, me, and everyone on this planet. Our debt has been paid already, we must repent and serve. More on this in a later posting….
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Back to my personal story:
I was saved when I was near the age of 15 or so, but I was baptized a year-ish before that, when my family (i.e. my parents and siblings) joined the church that I grew up in. I did not want to be baptized then, and I did not walk to the front of the church with my family the day that they made it known to the congregation that they were joining the church. I didn’t make it known that I didn’t want to be baptized, probably teenage nervousness and joining a new church, so I went through with it anyway a few weeks later, and was baptized in front of the congregation, friends, family, and my parents. I think we ate at Shoney’s that afternoon afterwards, but it was so long ago that I can’t recall. That’s typically where we ate on Sunday’s after church, if Mama was working. Who knows? All I remember is that I was glad it was over, now I could get back to baseball, and being a kid.
My family got more involved in the church after the baptism occurred. This meant that we were at church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday nights. Wednesday nights were fun, because we got to play football in the wide lot behind the church, after our lesson was over of course. Sunday nights were the less fun nights, because as a kid, Sunday night was the last night of semi-freedom before beginning the school week. As it would come to be, it would be at a road-trip style Sunday night service with the youth group, that I would make my profession of faith in front of total strangers (other youth groups from surrounding counties).
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The first Sunday of the month, a larger church in a town about 10 miles south of where our church was, would have a live band, and an awesome preacher come and preach to the large audience of different youth groups. Needless to say, those Sunday night services were a BLAST. The music was great – i.e. it wasn’t a hymn on page 255, and the sermons were typically directed towards youth and young-adults, and were fun, interesting, and I felt like we were told the unadulterated truth straight from the word of God.
After hearing the sermon one of those Sunday nights at this gathering, the last song began to play, and the preacher said if anyone wants to dedicate their life to God that this was an opportunity to do that. The preacher was down by the altar, so were deacons, and others to help counsel to the youth exactly what dedicated our lives to God would mean. As soon as that song began to play, I could feel the “tug” (or nudge) tugging at me to go down, and in all honesty, I wanted to go down the aisle and dedicate my life to God. I had it in my brain that I was going to, but I just couldn’t. So, I prayed quickly, and I just kept feeling God tugging at me to walk down, so I took the first step towards the altar, and instantly I felt love, happiness, and joy coming over me, literally like a blanket being draped over my shoulders.

The sensation was sort of like a warm blanket that’s been pulled right out of the dryer. Trying to describe the internal feelings is a bit more tough, but to put it into words, the walk down to the altar seemed so effortless once I took that first step. It was as if God himself had put his arms around me, and took me down those steps himself, one step at a time. The love that I felt in that instant is something that I will never, ever, forget. Although I still have that love now, transitioning from not feeling that love because I had yet to take that step of faith, to taking that first step and physically feeling that love envelope me, is absolutely indescribable. Shortly after this took place, I gave my testimony in front of my church, though I was so nervous that I cried, so I’m certain no one could understand the words that I was saying, but I got through it and I did my best. My walk with God didn’t change much in terms of growth after that for a few years, but it did change once I joined the Navy. That story, though, is for another time.
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That’s the story of how I became a dedicated child of God. Now, I’ve made a ton, and I mean TON, of mistakes along the way to where I am today, but we won’t get into those just yet. I want to let you know that I’m going to write whatever the Holy Spirit lays on my heart any given week, or month, whichever way it comes. If you have any questions, or comments, please feel free to leave them. I do not claim, in any way, to be an expert on anything. I am simply looking to write a column, and hope that it helps one person in some way. Whether it be through a life lesson that I’ve learned, or through a particular scripture that is highlighted.
I hope that you enjoyed this brief, albeit sporadic, introduction. I look forward to writing more of these as time goes on, it’s been a blast thus far. Remember to put God first, love and forgive one another, and when the opportunity arises, serve others as much as possible.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Simple Tips for Embracing Thrifty Living

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In a time when massive numbers of people are living in debt, with poor job security, and the whims of an unpredictable economy looming large overhead, it can easily be argued that thrifty living is more in demand than ever.

That’s not to say that people have to live miserable lives eating bowls of gruel, and never leaving the house in the interests of saving money. When it comes down to it, thrifty living is all about making small, manageable, and sensible changes to our basic behaviors in order to minimize waste and free up resources for greater financial security — and to spend on the things in life which matter most.

Here are a few easy and effective tips for embracing thrifty living today.

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Rely Less on Digital Tools--

Many of us in the digital age find ourselves signed up to a wide array of digital tools and online services. The subscription costs for these usually seems reasonable enough on an individual basis, but with several active subscriptions to several different services running at once, we can often find that we’re bleeding a substantial amount of money away on a regular basis.

While some subscriptions will genuinely add to your quality of life or ability to successfully carry out your day job, it’s also entirely like that some are just unnecessary drains on our finances.

Are you using a digital invoicing service when simple Microsoft office documents would be enough to allow you to achieve the same result?

Does that Spotify premium account of yours get much use, or is it just something you keep because you like the idea of it?

And does that digital checklist software really carry out an essential function that an old-fashioned Filofax wouldn’t?
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Budget for Your Expenses--

If you don’t have a clear sense of where your money’s going, it’s going to be all but impossible to identify areas of waste and rectify the issue.

Budgeting is essential to good financial management, whether you do decide to pay for an online service such as YouNeedaBudget.com, or use a more traditional method. You must keep a list of budget categories for things like “entertainment”, “bills”, “fuel”, “groceries”, and allocate your income to these groups effectively.

The aim of your budget should be to give every dollar a job, so that you have no extra just “floating around” waiting to disappear through the cracks.

It’s entirely possible that this step alone, without any of the other thrifty-living tips, will lead to make great savings and free up disposable income literally overnight.
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Don't Replace Worn out Appliances Immediately but Save for Replacements--

Though you shouldn’t necessarily try and hang on to a completely ruined home appliance indefinitely for the sake of saving money, while having a terrible time trying to get a basic level of use out of it, you shouldn’t just splash out and buy a replacement as soon as you notice the performance of one of your appliances faltering.

(This, of course, doesn’t apply in cases where a broken appliance presents a safety hazard. Replace those immediately).

Instead, when you notice that something is on the way out, you should begin saving for a replacement, bit by bit. Of course, you could also try your luck with free giveaways from sites such as Best Products Pro. This allows you to gather the required resources in a stress-free fashion, and also creates a time buffer which allows you to do your homework and avoid the temptation towards impulse buying.
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Learn to Make Full Use of What You Already Have--

If you’ve got unread books, try to discipline yourself to read them before buying new ones. If you have a certain gadget, video game, or CD, use and enjoy it instead of just putting it aside as soon as the thrill of the purchase wears off.

One of the best ways of keeping ourselves from wasting money is to learn to be comfortable with what we’ve already got, to appreciate those things, and not to feed the kind of instant-gratification mindset that fuels constant impulse-buying for the sake of novelty.

That’s not to say that you should never buy yourself new, fun things, but that you should make sure that you’re actually enjoying the things you own and getting the most out of them.
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Give Yourself Time to Consider New Purchases--

Impulse buying is one of the main reasons for living outside of our means. By forcing ourselves to consider new purchases for a week or two before making them, we allow rationality to come into the equation, and we prevent ourselves from making financial decisions based solely on momentary excitement.

This is a great practice to adopt, as it trains us to defer gratification, while not denying us the ability to make new purchases. Rather, it just forces us to make them with a cool head rather than in the heat of the moment.
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Learn to Derive Excitement from Relationships and Experiences--

Often, reckless spending is driven by the desire for excitement and novelty, in the form of constant spending and the purchase of new, shiny toys which often lose their lustre and appeal in a few days.

But no one, on their deathbed, ever sat back and fondly remembered all the gadgets they’d ever owned. Instead, they reflect on the relationships they’ve had with other people, and the experiences that have enriched their lives.

Try and get your kicks through your experiences and your interactions with other people. It’s a better approach.
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Remove Clutter--

Removing clutter from our physical environments boosts our mental focus, and makes it easier to get a handle on our possessions. We are more easily able to identify the things we don’t need, and we may even rediscover lost treasures that we’d forgotten about.

A core part of thrifty living is reducing clutter.
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Ignore Advertising--

This skill comes with practice — but sometimes we overestimate just how much luxury we need to feel happy, and are too easily swayed by attractive advertising slogans.

Try and see past the glittery sales pitches and propaganda. Do you really need the latest iPhone, or are you still able to make calls, send messages, and take photos just fine with your current model?

10 October 2017

7 Super Simple DIY Halloween Costumes for Your Pet

Do you take your pet trick-or-treating with you every year? Or maybe you want them to be dressed up along with you at your Halloween party. No matter the occasion, this list of DIY pet Halloween costumes from a group of vets in Idaho Falls will get you in the right direction.
#1 - Beanie Baby
This genius Halloween hack will turn your pet into a nostalgic memory from yours and your friends’ childhood. Maybe you still have some beanie babies lying around somewhere. And the best part is – you don’t have to cover up their cute little face!
#2 - Pet Tuxedo
If you have a black pet, this might be the right course of action to take for their costume. Take on old dress shirt collar, add a Velcro fastener, and transform your pet into Mr. Fancy! This is an especially great costume for when you have company over.
#3 - Skeleton
Here’s another great one for a black pet. Get some white chalk and turn them into a skeleton like this spooky pup. This one will probably work best with a more patient and outdoor pet.
#4 - Cerberus
If you’re a fan of Greek mythology or plan on wearing a toga for your costume this year, then this cute Cerberus costume is for you. Just take some old stuffed animals that look similar to your dog – maybe find some at Goodwill – and attach their heads to a harness or collar.

#5 - Lion
Another great last-minute costume is a lion! It’s as easy as picking up a fur coat from a thrift store, or some furry fabric from a local crafts store. And it will keep your pet warm on a chilly evening if you plan on showing off their costume outdoors.
#6 - Fawn
The deer makeup look was all the rage in human costumes a couple years ago, but if you plan on doing that again, your dog can match you with this costume. Simply get some white chalk and turn your pup into your baby deer!
#7 - Sushi
For your small white pet, turn them into a sushi roll. Use a dark green or black headband (or narrow piece of fabric) and make a small tuna or salmon pillow with cotton and orange fabric.
Have fun and get creative with your pet’s costume this year. Keep it simple so your pet is happy and comfortable too. Happy haunting!

07 October 2017

5 Halloween Treats with Terrific Teeth

Are you ready for Halloween? The kids are begging for candy every time they see it, they won’t stop asking about their costumes, and they are way too excited for this holiday. Instead of trying to hide in a closet until the madness passes, try to embrace it with some yummy treat-making. Help your kids rein in their excitement with some fun Halloween-themed snacks at home.
A kids dentist in Idaho Falls put together this list of snacks with terrific teeth. Just be sure to have your little ones brush theirs when they are done!
#1 - Vampire Doughnuts
Pick up some plastic vampire teeth from a dollar store and a set in the middle of each doughnut. Use chocolate chips or sprinkles for the eyes. This is an easy treat to surprise your kids with because it only takes minutes to prepare. Afterwards, the kids can all pretend to be vampires with their new teeth.

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#2 - Apple Teeth
Apples and peanut butter are all staples in any home with kids (unless allergies arise). All you need is some marshmallows to throw into the mix and you can put your kids to work creating these fun apple peanut butter teeth. If your child does have peanut allergies, you could use cream cheese for the “glue.”

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#3 - Dracula’s Dentures
Similar to the apple teeth, but a little more on the sugary side of things, this toothy treat will bring all the fun of Halloween in a few bites. Use chocolate chip cookies – or any favorite cookie – red icing, marshmallows, and almond slivers.
Find the recipe at The Girl Who Ate Everything.
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#4 - Skull Sandwich
Turn an ordinary sandwich into some Halloween fun! Simply cut the sandwich into the shape of a skull like the picture shows. No lunch can be boring with a skull face!
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#5 - Skull Pizza
Turn a favorite meal into a skull with pepperoni teeth! You can even decorate it with olives, peppers, and other toppings to look like a sugar skull.
Find the recipe at Hungry Happenings.

Make an Entrance with These Tips!

Being creative with your new home is difficult when living a mostly frugal life. Improving the appearance of your property is not just a matter of pride, it’s to ensure that you can look at your home and know that you are doing enough to keep it looking nice. First impressions matter and while you aren’t jazzing up your home for the best looking house award, it’s nice to have things looking stunning on the outside!
People will always walk past a home and judge how it looks. Shaking their heads at run down exteriors with paint peeling and broken windows is a given! You want your house to be the one that turns heads and impresses people, even those that you don’t know. Making a big deal out of your entryway is the best way to garner a little attention. However, you want to be careful when you do decide to go ahead and decorate, so that you can attract the right sort of attention. Spending some cash on doing up the front of your home is exciting, but make sure you look for the best home surveillance cameras for sale. Security is just as important as making the house look good! So, where do you start?

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Colors--
Every entryway needs to stand out while at the same time, fitting the colour scheme of the home exterior. This doesn’t translate to being boring, nor do you need strobe lights and disco ball fitted on the porch. Your color scheme doesn’t have to end at the front door, either, when you can synchronize your colors with the flowers that you have in the hanging baskets. Make your home feel vibrant and warm and choose colors that resonate with your own personality.

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Cleanliness--
When you are making an entrance, you need to have a big impact. Cleaning the exterior of your home should be as top priority as the interior. Your house is a big deal and if you’re keeping on top of sweeping debris from the nearby plants and trees, washing the exterior of the windows and keeping the lawn short and tidy, this will show.

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Windows--
Your windows are going to take up much of the wall space of the exterior of your home. Make a point of dressing them beautifully on the inside, so that you can raise a smile. Window treatment ideas are rife right here, so check these out and make some gorgeous decisions for the eyes to your home.

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Lighting--
Every home should either have a security light that is automatic fitted to the outside, or it should be well-lit with a light you can switch on from the outside. These great outdoor lighting solutions mean that you won’t have anyone stumbling up the path. When you want to save money on lighting, go for solar lights! Powered by nature, they can light the way for anyone once the sun goes down.
Your home is something you should be proud of – make your entrance in style.