I’ve never really thought about the concept of frugality and creativity being bedfellows until today, but it’s a thought that’s been banging on the door of my mind and today I let it in.

I often think about the gifts God has blessed people with, but rarely give thought to the gifts he’s given me. I find myself frequently feeling inadequate as I line myself up against people who are better educators or more organised, but God didn’t give us all, all the gifts, but we’re all good at something.

I’m going to have a shot at being honest, without bragging, I think I’m quite good at creative frugality. So what is it?

It’s the basic idea that the less you have to work with, the more creative you have to be.

This plays out in every part of my life and it’s so instinctive that I never realised it was a gift.

Let’s take cooking as an example. I love to be creative with the contents of the fridge. I take no delight in buying food for a specific recipe, but I find it immensely satisfying to take some slightly worn out vegetables, slowly caramelise them with potatoes and onions, add milk to near the top add some stock and cream and blend…mmm, everyone gobbles it up and I know it’s cost us pennies and is full of home cooked goodness. I love to add croutons on the side, using left over bread and then maybe add in some cheese scones (to make the most of the oven) as they only take up regular store cupboard/fridge ingredients.

I take no pleasure in buying anything I can make, but I am aware that time sometimes insists upon it. During pregnancy and early baby days I’ve bought more and created less, due to exhaustion, but that was the season and that was a compromise well worth making.

Now Timothy is walking and starting to sleep better I am finding windows of time where I am prioritising more home cooking. I’ve begun to realise that my creative outlet doesn’t need to begin when the children go to bed, but it is intertwined into every hour of my day.

Cooking can take up hours each day, but I can often delight in those hours, if I’m making use of leftovers and creating something from practically nothing. Muffins are one of my favourite ways to use left over fruit and they make a great breakfast. Sometimes I make them the night before if we have to rush out in the morning.

Outside of cooking I love sourcing clothes or furniture off Facebook marketplace. I’ve just bought a bundle of clothes for Timothy for £5, they would have cost nearer £80, if I’d bought them new.

I love making fancy dress costumes instead of buying them off the internet. My favourite memory about costumes was the day of a nativity play and our little ‘angel’ was running to the car and fell splat in the mud, her white costume now more suited to being a donkey. What was I to do, we had no time to dither? I sent up an arrow prayer, grabbed a white pillow case, folded it in half and cut a semi circle for the head, the same for arms and we were off, newly dressed white angel in tow! We may not have the costumes that all the other kids have, but we have unique outfits made with love (thankfully the children never seem to mind my creations 😉).

I even enjoy folding Terry square nappies, as opposed to disposables, it’s like origami for bottoms 😂.

Here are some of the other things I have done to add frugality and creativity into our lives: homemade pizza,

nuggets and burgers instead of their frozen counterparts, homemade cakes, especially celebration cakes.

I’ve made a few pieces of clothes, headscarves, a modest boy leg swimsuit (think Minnie Mouse colours with floaty sleeves) and a christening gown, I would love to make more, as time allows.

I love to repurpose old worn out clothes and sheets, turning them into dressing up costumes, dolls clothes or skirts. We also love to make presents and cards.

I’m really excited to be growing more of our own food and learning how to use and preserve it. I think this will keep me going for years, creating new ways to use it all and developing new skills in gardening, cooking and preserving.

I’m not a modern eco zealot, but before it became a ‘thing’ I was a person who wanted to live lightly. I want to leave a positive impact on this world, not a negative one. I know I have high ideals and it’s not always possible to achieve them, but it’s an aim and we won’t get anywhere if we don’t aim somewhere.

The thing that I most enjoy is creating under constraints. For example when we’ve forgotten someone’s birthday and I don’t have time to buy anything, or when we have unexpected guests and I need to multiply the meal. I just find it fun to think on my feet and come up with a plan.

I feel so blessed that I get to use the skills God’s given me everyday in my role as mum and homemaker. I’m not sure if my skills would be useful in many other settings, but I know that God created me for this job and gave me the skills to do it, if I lean on him.

What’s your thing, what do you love to do?

Sending blessings to you all, Vicki

Unpeel the silken layers of perceived serenity, the contented smile, the calm responses to whining children, just beneath the surface can lie a churning whirlpool of fear.

Stomach churning, chest so tight that breathing comes in only short breaths and mind clouded, all sense hidden by the fear of something which doesn’t even exist.

Anxiety, the foe which follows me around, hiding in corners, awaiting his moment to pounce and steal my peace. I knew he was there, I’ve felt his eyes boring into me for weeks, watching my every move, seeing the chinks in my armour. He’s an evil genius, he knows just where to strike to cause me maximum damage.

This week he went for it, he found my Achilles’ heel and took me down, almost drowning me in a sea of fear.

For a few days I wrestled with him and he seemed to be winning. I tried to pray, but to no avail, I was consumed with fear, irrational fear.

I’ve spent weeks transferring my anxieties from one thing to the next, a sure sign that it was anxiety that gripped me and not genuine concerns. I suspect my hormones are struggling as Timothy weans, as it’s not the first time I’ve felt this terror.

Why would I be afraid? My God loves me, I have nothing to fear.

Sadly I know all too well that he allows his children to suffer. My childhood was peppered with pain, death, financial crises, walking on egg shells, feeling invisible after Mum died, as Dad threw himself into his own life, his own grief, and I just felt like a giant inconvenience.

God’s allowed me to suffer before, so he could allow it again.

Is that it then, is that why I’m afraid, is the inner child in me still frightened? Maybe. Perhaps it’s just hormones, or my highly sensitive personality, after all God’s healed me of my pain from the past, hasn’t he?

I often feel guilty when I’m afraid. I shouldn’t feel this way, I’m a child of God. Where’s my faith? Perfect love drives out fear, doesn’t it?

I feel guilty because I feel, at that moment, unable to be full of joy and yet, as Christians, aren’t we supposed to have joy in all circumstances?

You see, I was wrestling. Satan wanted to bring me down, to whisper these doubts into my ear, to whisper fears and gradually turn up the volume until the noise of my fears drowned out the voice of God. God’s still small voice was always calling me, but FEAR and DOUBT were shouting.

Finally it came to a head on Wednesday, tears choked my voice as I pushed them back, I was broken, but then God intervened.

Wednesday was my prayer night with my ever faithful prayer partner, Jennifer. I shared the emotional horrors of my week and she prayed, bringing me before God’s throne and petitioning him on my behalf.

It was like the mist cleared, my senses sharpened, my mind became still. The wind and the waves of fear listened to God and obeyed him, the storm in my mind subsided.

God gave me a new perspective on the problem that I’d blown out of all proportion, the one which appeared unsolvable. God cleared the confusion from my thoughts and showed me the way forward. It was so simple, why hadn’t I thought of it already? Panic is no friend of clear thinking.

The battle for my peace is over, as if it had never occurred, except for the immense gratitude I feel towards God for saving me once again.

I know Anxiety is waiting just around the corner, he’s been forced into retreat, for now, but he’ll have another go, next time I need to be better prepared.

I’d best put on the full armour of God to defeat this enemy, he’s a wily one and determined too, he knows anxiety is the sin which so easily trips me up.

‘Therefore since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.’ Hebrews 12:1

‘Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.’ Ephesians 6:11.

I have learnt through this that prayer may not change the situation but it can change our perspective and that, for me, changed everything.

Sending blessings to you all, Vicki

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