Tuesday, April 30

Operation Grocery Budget: April 2019 Report

It’s confession time - as of Monday, we are something close to $200 over budget in the grocery category. *peeks sheepishly out from behind my hiding spot* I know why...there are actually several reasons, but the chief one is that you can’t stick to a budget if you delay the “log receipts” step.

It snowballs.

So while we are over budget the second month in a row, I am learning things. I have learned that when life gets hectic, I don’t always cut out the right things. I chose to cut out entering receipts in the budget app, and it definitely got me! May is going to be pretty crazy for us, but I’m determined to do better at entering receipts in a timely manner. I’m still learning the lessons I’ve learned the past few months, too, about planning well and saying no and staying out of the stores as much as possible and I realize how *very* privileged we are to actually have flex at all in the budget.

I also really do need to keep my eye on the big picture. I’m still spending *significantly* less than I did last year on  groceries every month. That is something to be happy about! My $550 a month goal is pretty low for a family of six with food sensitivities and allergies...but I still want to get back on track and stick with it tenaciously!

I have to admit, this post is one I didn’t want to write! I succeeded in feeding my family’s healthy and varied diet, but I lost track of expenses. Failure to meet my goal is not my favorite thing! Solution? Very soon, we will be signing up for a link to bank account option for our budget app, which will alert us to categorize spending, and I really do think that will keep us on track much easier.

Another part of the big picture is saving for our future home renovation projects. And while I spent $200 extra in the grocery category this month, we were still able to put money in our project fund. I’m very excited about the interesting ways God is allowing us to continue doing the saving portion of this goal. He provided a giant order for our cutting board business, and we are very excited about the growth of the project fund. It was a bit of a sermon type lesson, actually,  that I got loud and clear! I am continually reminded that even when I am unfaithful in my tasks, it doesn’t change the faithfulness of God. I will keep failing, not only at little things like money managing steps, but at bigger things, too. There  is always grace. We fall down, God helps us back up.

So, May, I’ve got my eye on you! It’s going to be tricky, but I’ve got tricks up my sleeve too!

Wednesday, April 24

2019 Easter Update

Spring is full of fresh hope. The crocus, tulips, daffodils poke their green and red points through the earth, through last fall’s forgotten leaves, and delight us with their colors and soft, hopeful faces. We are reminded that although the winter can be long, hope and spring will rise up again. It is a physical representation of the hope we have in Jesus, who rose from the dead so that we might have eternal life. He will come again, and will bring justice and then peace. We long for that day, as we have longed for spring through the dark and cold winter! We hope you are celebrating His resurrection, too!

Our family has had a year of rejoicing in hope! God has been good and gracious to us!

Aaron is 12, and has recently (February) had some opportunities to grow in his faith through a medical crisis. He was diagnosed with MRAA septic arthritis of the hip which caused significant pain and required surgery and a 10 day hospital stay in Grand Rapids. We are so thankful to have been guided along each step of the way and are thankful God allowed us to find the proper care in appropriate time. He has been completely cleared to carry on normal activity and is back at volleyball! He is in 6th grade at Zion Lutheran School and has enjoyed soccer and basketball along with volleyball. This year he has also taken up the trombone to add another instrument to his brass skills. We are so amazed to watch him growing and maturing physically and spiritually.

Evan is 10, and Jenny is enjoying having him at home for school this year for 4th grade. He’s doing a mix of video classes and parent-guided classes and enjoys writing stories, reading books, learning about science and history, and creating pretty much anything he can dream up. He’s completed his state quarters collection, and is now working on the National Parks series. He keeps us laughing a LOT and is just a great guy to have around. We are often surprised with the depth of spiritual understanding he has been given.

Cadey, age 7, is a first grader at home and is really taking off in her reading skills. She enjoys informal art classes with a friend who lives nearby, nature class at the nature center, and she just finished her Sparks book in AWANA. She is an excellent organizer and wonderful sister, often leading the adventures for both of her fellow brother-pupils. We are delighted that she seems to be a good mix of sweetness and spunk, and pray that God will continue to grow her into His image.

Amos is already three, with a birthday around the corner this July. Time flies with all of our kids, but it really does not seem possible that this little person has been in our family this long. He keeps us in stitches with his antics and funny faces, and has completed all the necessary training to be considered a “big boy” which is a very happy ending to an era. He loves his older siblings and is quite content to be around them in any way he can. He’s also learning a lot at home, even though we haven’t formally started school. We pray for Amos that his heart will be captured by God at an early age.

We are thankful that we get to keep working with the junior high teens at our church, leading the youth group on Sunday nights and the 7th & 8th grade small group Bible studies on Wednesdays. We have a great group of youth staff serving with us and are excited to be a part of the teens’ lives. God is doing amazing things! Michael is a deacon this year as well, and while we need to do more of it, have enjoyed having our group over for some fellowship times. It’s really hard to express how deeply grateful we feel when we stop to consider all that God has done and all He allows us to do.

Michael marked fifteen years with Bright Construction this past October, and we had another successful year with Trivet + Board. We are planning to scale back on Trivet + Board shows a bit this year so that we can forge ahead on some home improvement projects.  We’d love to see our fixer upper make some substantial forward movement this summer! Jenny works very part time delivering groceries with Shipt, and the two of us continually celebrate the joy God has given us with a happy marriage – this December will be our sixteenth anniversary! What a gracious gift.

We are constantly amazed by God’s great love for us, His blessing us beyond what we deserve, walking with us through the hard times and guiding us when we don’t know exactly what is next. Please pray for us as we navigate uncertain waters of parenting, school choices, health, vocation, daily living…but most of all, pray that we will trust in the goodness of God and in His good plans for our family. This is how we are praying, trusting that He will continue to lead us! He is our HOPE, and we REJOICE!

Our love and God’s blessings to all of you!
Michael & Jenny, Aaron, Evan, Cadence & Amos Muth