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The Frugal Catholic: “DIY Wedding” by Whitley Osterhout–guest writer–April 2019

The Frugal Catholic had the privilege of meeting Whitley Osterhout, a professional wedding planner in Washington state, in 2018, and I was impressed with the love and sincerity with which she executed her profession. Whitley is sharing with my Frugal Catholic readers her insights into how to have a “frugal” DIY Wedding!!! Enjoy. Whitley’s email is whitleyosterhout@gmail.com

1. TFC— How long have you been a wedding planner in Washington state?

WO—In total I’ve been in the wedding industry for 4 years specializing in Wedding Planning and 2 years on my own in my business.

2. TFC—What made you go into this field, and how did you train for this profession?

WO—It just kind of happened! I always knew I wanted to own my own business and had a constant pulling in two directions of logistics and creativity, but couldn’t seem to find the right vocational field. I went to college and received my Associates in Business and planned to go into the bookkeeping field. Months after graduating, I got thrown into the role of coordinator the morning of my cousin’s wedding, and instantly knew it was something I needed to pursue. After my Associates in Business, I got accepted into a year long Wedding Planner Internship. After completing 125 weddings there, I took a three month online course to receive my Wedding Planner Certification.

3. TFC—What is the highest priced wedding you have planned so far and what was it like? And what was the lowest priced wedding plan you’ve done, and how did it rate?

WO—That’s a tough question. I would guess between $40,000-$50,000. I had a bride from Texas get married up here and they rented out a house on top of the cost of $5,500 venue, and since she isn’t local, she ended up having to hire everything out. It was absolutely stunning and very well done. My sister’s wedding at $8,000 is the cheapest I’ve ever done. Typically if it’s a really budget conscious bride, they don’t find the value in a Wedding Coordinator.

4. TFC—Let’s say I want to have a frugal wedding; about what would it cost, and where would I start for my DIY wedding?WO—There are a couple variants that will guide you to come up with a practical budget for your wedding. The first is your venue. Is it a typical venue where prices start at $3,500 and go up from there? Or are you using a community type building which is more of a labor of love but has great potential? The second variant is guest count. Not only is it a lot of people, but the more guests you have the more tables you’ll have, food, centerpieces, dessert, etc. The third thing that dramatically affects the cost is do you have family and friends that are willing to fill in the gaps for Professional Wedding Vendors? (DIY floral, Catering it yourself, Playing a Spotify playlist, etc.) Personally, I did my sister’s 150 person wedding for $8,000 two years ago. Including wedding dress, bridal party gifts, and all those other little things people don’t think to account for in the overall budget. AnnaMae (my sister) got married at the beautiful Greenfield Farm and Gardens which two years ago went for the rate of $4,000. Half of her total budget! Being in the wedding industry I had the resources to cut costs that all brides may not have (to keep in mind). Once you have an estimated wedding budget overall and have picked a venue, your next two vendors to find are the photographer and the caterer. Luckily the photographer my sister used was a family friend and no longer had it as a full fledged business so we got an amazing deal. (If there’s one thing I wouldn’t budget on, it’s a wonderful photographer, since the photos are all you have left of this special day, and you want to be happy with them.) For the food, we had another family friend who had a food truck they took to fairs for years so they knew where to cut costs.

I ended up being the one woman show the day of my sister’s wedding. Bridesmaid, Sister, Wedding Planner (though I did hire out a Wedding Coordinator to take over for me the day of.) And I also had to act as the DJ and make announcements since the venue came with the speaker. Was the wedding beautiful? Yes! Were my sister and brother-in-law happy, absolutely. But to me the whole day was a blur. I think to have a DIY wedding, you have to be diligent. Do you want your family members and friends enjoying the big day or working it? If you decide not to go full DIY wedding, I highly recommend hiring out a wedding pro that will be there the day of to make it seamless. Prior to the wedding there are other things you can do to cut costs such as buying your own linens and ironing them, coming up with your own pre-made centerpieces, or even having that one aunt, who always wants to help, make all the cupcakes for the day of. You have to decide what’s best and realistic for your big

5. TFC—Do you have a time-table-countdown-schedule you could share?


WO— Every timeline varies but here’s a basic timeline to work off of.

  • 10:00 AM—Eastwood Events Arrives and setup begins
  • 10:15 AM—Rental items arrive
  • 11:00 AM—Floral arrives
  • 1:00 PM—Photographer and videographer arrives
  • 1:15 PM—Photographer detailed shots
  • 1:30 PM—First look
  • 2:00 PM–Caterer arrives
  • 2:30 PM—Dessert arrives
  • 3:00 PM—DJ arrives
  • Ceremony
  • 4:00 PM–Guests begin to arrive
  • 4:15 PM—Guests to be seated
  • 4:25 PM—Line up for processional
  • 4:30 PM—Ceremony begins
  • 5:00 PM—Recessional
  • Cocktail Hour
  • 5:05 PM—Cocktail hour begins
  • 5:15 PM—Finish family photos, sign marriage license
  • 5:45 PM—Guests to be seated for dinner
  • Reception
  • 5:50 PM—Grand entrance
  • 6:00 PM—Dinner begins
  • 6:20 PM—Guests grab a drink for toasts
  • 6:40 PM—Toasts begin
  • 7:00 PM—Cutting of the dessert
  • 7:15 PM—First dance
  • 7:20 PM—Father/daughter dance
  • 7:25 PM—Mother/son dance
  • 7:30 PM—Open dancing
  • 9:30 PM—Last call for alcohol
  • 9:45 PM—Grand exit
  • 10:00 PM—Eastwood Events leaves

6. TFC–What are 8 ways you might have for paring down wedding costs?

WO–Try these eight.

  • Buy your own wedding linens, iron them, and then you can resell them in a FB wedding group after the event.
  • Join as many local wedding buy/sell groups as you can. This group is made up of local brides selling anything and everything from their wedding that they used once, and you get the discount price.
  • Make your own desserts, and buy your personal one tier cake to cut. Or buy sheet cakes for your guests. You’d be amazed how much money you can save by buying sheet cakes vs. a three tiered cake, and it’s more practical for cutting.
  • The big trend I see right now is that brides are using a greenery garland as a centerpiece for all of the tables. This is a very easy DIY especially for us living in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Let’s talk attire. There are so many alternative ways to buy wedding gowns now. A personal favorite of mine right now is Brides For a Cause http://bridesforacause.com Wedding gowns can be purchased here for less than half the price. Some gowns are previously worn and others are donated by boutiques. I especially like the meaning behind this company, for a portion of your proceeds goes to an ill bride’s wedding.
  • Spotify your music playlist. Ive heard of this happening many times. I would say, however, if you want to save on your DJ, then hire a Wedding Coordinator, and visa versa. But you need either a DJ or a Wedding Coordinator, if not both. Both of them are keeping an eye on the timeline and flow of the day, otherwise things will get off track.
  • For your DIY wedding floral, go to your local Farmer’s Market and use what they currently have in bloom. It will help cut some cost!
  • Go thorough a rental company for signage or any other little items you need. These items will cost less to rent than to buy, and it’s one less thing you have to worry about storing after the wedding.

7. What is your best wedding advice, or what is the best way to STAY married?

WO—My top piece of advice is that love and marriage is a choice, and my second piece of advice is that both love and marriage should be a giving contest. I believe there are days in a marriage where you may not like the other spouse, but it’s important to still choose to love him or her. I also think the number one cause of disagreements is derived from selfishness and thinking of ourselves first, and if we are to focus on the giving and not the taking then it’s more likely to be a happy, healthy relationship and marriage.

The Frugal Catholic: “The Art of Letting Go” by M.W.King–March 2019

How much can you let go? That has been a constant thought I’ve had in recent years since we lived for many months in a “tiny home”–a 19 foot travel trailer. Then the question arose again when my husband and I refurbished, over a year’s time, a small efficiency apartment in Washington DC, having only kitchen goods, a table, two chairs and a blow up mattress. Now the question arises again each time I come into my “regular home.” We have so much “stuff” we don’t really use or need. Seems a shame not to release it to someone else.

The real truth in life is that LESS IS MORE. Honestly, the less stuff you own, the more space you possess. The fewer clothes in your closet, the more combining choices you have. The less jewelry, scarves, or watches that own you, the more you’ll enjoy what matters.

In times past, people possessed so little, and their lives were simpler for it. With my own generation of The Baby Boomers, we have amassed huge piles of stuff; and now we have to get rid of these possessions, for our children don’t want most of it. And they certainly don’t want to sort through it after we head off to heaven. For example, a nice gentleman on the plane the other day stated that his Baby Boomer mom has a house full of “chotzskies” or hundreds of little metal boxes which she loves. He or his wife don’t want a single one. What to do???

So the question remains, what to keep and how to release?

Well to make this a simple blog post, shoot for these five steps.

  • Take a look at what you have.
  • Line up your goods to release. If that “item” doesn’t speak to you like it did when you purchased it, consider letting it go.
  • Make everything readable if you are talking labels, then decide what you haven’t used in a year to six months. Also check expiration dates.
  • Put what can be given away in a bag, basket, or box.
  • But don’t release anything. SIT ON IT! By not releasing the items immediately, I’ve often retrieved one or two pieces of clothing or possessions as I was itemizing them for taxes because I realized that the items could be used or worn another way.

You won’t believe how much cleaner your home will feel. Jesus knew this plain fact too, for when He sent out His disciples in pairs of two, He told them to take nothing but what they had on their backs. Simple living? You bet.


The Frugal Catholic: “What IS Frugality Anyway?” by M.W.King M.Ed.–Jan 2019

Last year, I turned 70, had my spine fused, and moved into a new multi-generational home. But the year’s biggest jolt was learning that some folks have never heard of the word “FRUGAL.” Yes, as I was walking the Platt River Trail in CO, I ran into two such adults. One lady in her sixties said, “Can you explain that term? I’ve never heard of it.” Another younger woman said, “Frugality? Is that some kind of disease?” So for my many readers in 2019, it is time to go back to the basics with some help from my frugal friends.

FRUGALITY DEFINED

As a writer, I LOVE words. So I looked up the term. The dictionary defines frugality as: The quality of being frugal, or prudent in living; the lack of wastefulness; careful with money, penny wise, or thrifty.


Georgia P., my neighbor in Washington, who is wonderfully frugal, described it thus: “To me frugality means living within your current means, not your imagined future means or what you believe you deserve. Borrow very carefully!  Delay luxuries in order to save. Choose high quality in small amounts over large amounts of cheap, poor quality. Control the ‘latte factor’ [Dave Ramsey]. Buy bulk–don’t pay retail. Do it yourself if you have the skills and are able. Ignore what the media says we should look like, how we should dress, especially what’s in fashion today. Stick with classic, not trendy. In the kitchen, stick with ingredients, not prepared food. Again, higher quality at lower cost.”

Margaret R., a friend of fifty-eight years from West Virginia, stated: “For me, frugality means spending our money and resources wisely with careful consideration of the needs of the past, present, and future. Even though I am financially sound, I have kept the habits of bargain hunting, cutting out unnecessary items, always paying credit card expenses in full each month, avoiding always needing to get the latest style, using the library, and fixing things myself rather than buying new.” Margaret added, “I have observed frugality in my parents, neighbors, and friends, and its appearance can be found in a wide range of age groups. Sometimes frugality appears to be stingy and other times generous. I learned most of what I know from my own experience on a limited budget as a single parent raising two daughters and working full time. Frugality allowed me to send them to college.”

And The Frugal Catholic’s best definition of FRUGALITY is: “SAVE IT HERE: STASH IT THERE.”

WHAT IS NOT FRUGAL?

Well, of course, this “save it here: stash it there” mentality is profitable for those who like to hoard ketchup packages that come with fast food meals, but what about taking the whole ketchup bottle off the restaurant table or grabbing fist fulls of raw sugar packs at Starbucks? Doesn’t that translate into “frugality”? No actually that is termed “stealing.” That is not “frugality,” for as Leslie states, “Frugality should never be confused with stinginess or lack of generosity. Leslie reminded me of a neighbor who experienced NON-Frugal. Stan and Susan (name changed) refinanced their house to a fixed rate mortgage–smart move– but also increased the mortgage to have cash for the kitchen extension–bad move. They over paid for the remodel because Stan, who worked with contracts all the time, had a “GOOD FEELING” about a contractor and failed to do any price comparisons. So Stan and Susan overpaid for the remodel by about $100,000 because the “good feeling contractor” he chose was wasn’t reputable. In addition, Stan revealed to another neighbor that he (unknown to Susan) had enough money in stock options to pay cash for the overpriced remodel but chose not only to NOT pay in cash but hid this fact from Susan. Susan stated, “Had I been informed I would have pushed very hard to use available funds rather than borrow. We could have had the house paid off more than once by now, and we would be looking at at least double the cash out.” Non-frugal was in failing to give complete information and decision making to his partner Susan and keeping that information to himself.

Thou Shall Not Steal

WHAT ABOUT GIVING?

So often when one thinks about penny pinching to grow rich, the last thought is about giving one’s money away. Yet the two of them flow together. Margaret states: “I believe tithing helps set the state for frugality. Giving the tithe first, set me free to be frugal. Being frugal and tithing both involve setting priorities and require self discipline. Being able to set spending limits required with frugality, allows tithing to be a doable option. Yes, they (frugality and tithing) are related but not intertwined. Tithing is centered on giving where frugality is focused inward toward self.” Leslie also added: “I don’t tithe per se; but in my paid working life I gave a great deal of professional time without pay, and have spent a huge part of my adult life caring for my parents, sometimes at high personal cost in money and time. I have opened my home to numerous friends and family members in need, and have rescued many animals in need. Being frugal in some areas allows for the generosity in others.”

FINAL FRUGAL THOUGHTS

One of the more interesting articles I studied was about rich frugal billionaires. https://www.businessinsider.com/worlds-richest-and-most-frugal-billionaires-2016-1#warren-buffett-chairman-and-ceo-of-berkshire- Warren Buffet ($60.7 billion) stated, “My life couldn’t be happier. In fact, it’d be worse if I had six or eight houses. So I have everything I need to have, and I don’t need any more because it doesn’t make a difference after a point.” Charlie Ergen ($14.5 billion and Dish Network Chairman) packs his lunch of a sandwich and Gatorade before work every day and used to share hotel rooms with colleagues, until recently. He attributes his frugal habits to his mother who grew up during the depression. And Carlos Slim Helu’ (the richest man in Mexico) stated “What you have to do is make it [money] grow, reinvest to make it bigger, or diversify into other areas. Maintain austerity in prosperous times (in times when the cow is fat with milk).”

Finally the Bible doesn’t address frugality, but it certainly addresses “the love of money.” It says in 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.” Yes frugality is an internal decision to stretch what you have; whereas, loving money is like making an idol to worship. And as Margaret wisely noted, frugality must come from within and from within is it achieved. Whether you think you can be frugal or you know you can’t–both are right. The decision is up to you, but frugality will change your life forever. It is a wonderfully radical decision.

Frugality can radically change your finances and life.


The Frugal Catholic: “Rid Yourself of Buy-Ite-Us” by Martha Wild King M.Ed.–November 2018

How Do You Know if You Have BUY-ITE-US?

In 2017, the flu got a lot of people, myself and my husband included. It hit hard with little warning.  And we weren’t alone: a lot of friends got it, and some ended up in the hospital.  The problem with the flu is that  the vaccine doesn’t always cover what is actually out there.  BUY-ITE-US (the strong desire to purchase) is likewise indiscriminate on whom it strikes, for it can hit all ages.  Fortunately, unlike the flu however, a cure exists from this malady, and YOU are the only one who can completely remedy it with three  simple cures.

                             What Exactly is BUY-ITE-US?

BUY-ITE-US could best be defined as “a strong desire to buy—anything.”  This malady usually hits when you don’t have any money at the end of the month or even when you do at the beginning; and if you use Amazon Prime, it can strike late in the evening when you’ve had too much wine to drink.  It is a dangerous disorder that can wreck your credit ratings, divide a happy marriage, and generally leave you wondering what hit. 

This might be a clue to your challenge!

BUY-ITE-US can wreak havoc if one can’t control it, and it is particularly challenging around Christmas time. 


                                What Can BUY-ITE-US Do to You?

As stated this malady inflicts destruction on your life.  We want happiness, and somehow we think that shopping therapy will help.  But it doesn’t because our desire to feel better doesn’t get better.  We just end up with more stuff and no place to put it.  Only God can give us that feeling of peace and contentment if we but let Him.  The other main problem with this impulse buying is that everything should have a place in our homes, and if there is no space or place then you don’t need everything.  So what is the best way to deal with our wants versus our needs?

                                 How Can I Cure BUY-ITE-US?

                           Three cures exist for this condition. 

The first major cure is TITHING.  Now if you haven’t tithed before, here is what it looks like.  You take 10% of your incoming funds and give that percent to your church or a mission which you feel important.  That is God’s leading.  As The Frugal Catholic said last month, “Give to God His 10% due and 90% blessed will He return to you.  Truthfully, by giving away that first 10%, something happens in your brain.  You become more content with what you have and the desire to acquire is diminished.  Also by tithing, everything seems to last longer.  It is the same concept as when Elijah asked the widow for food in  1 Kings 17:7.  What she had, although very little, lasted well over many days.  Tithing is supernatural, but if you feel leery about tithing 10%, then begin with 5%, or wherever you can.  You will watch the Lord provide in amazing ways.

                     The Widow of Zarephath

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 10 So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.” 11 As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12 But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” 13 Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.” 15 She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.

The second major cure is to take stock of what you have when BUY-ITE-US hits.  For example, although I was really into used clothing, my closet now holds about one-fourth of what it did.   Everything that didn’t feel just right was let go and slowly the preferred brand names were purchased.  In taking stock too, look at your food and arrange cans or products so you can read them.  Often we purchase more of something because we aren’t taking stock of what we have.

The third major cure sounds easy but it’s not.  Number three is to stay out of stores.  Yes, that includes ALL stores, on line and the kind you walk into.  Just remember “SOS”  or “Stay Out of Stores.”  Now if staying out of stores is too hard, you can always go to your Amazon wish list and go shopping that way.  99% of the time that “Wish List” shopping helps remove the ITCH of Buy-ite-usJust don’t push the “buy now” button.  Not wise when no monies.

                    What Will My Life Look Like Without BUY-ITE-US?

When you mentally get control of your spending by tithing, taking stock of what you have, and staying out of stores (SOS),  you will most likely get better at living within your means through budgeting.  In the 38 years of marriage, the more closely we have tithed, the easier and more satisfying budgeting became.   A budget is just like a train track; it is a path to run on.   I also find that creating that  Amazon wish list and NOT buying is very satisfying.  So give these tricks a try–tithing,  budgeting, and staying out of stores.   The beauty of living this life as a Catholic Christian is that we are not in charge; God is.  The closer we come to living His will, the happier our lives become.

The Frugal Catholic: Wild Thoughts for October 2018 by Martha Wild King M.Ed.

Give to God His 10% DUE and 90% BLESSED will He return to you.  TFC

10% DUE = 90% BLESSED

I’m not the sharpest rubber band in the tack box, but I’m not the dullest tack in the rubber band package either.     TFC

Proverbs 1:7–The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

You are only as beautiful as you make others feel.  TFC

Proverbs 31   “Charm is deceitful  and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

The world is too perfect for there not to be a God.                                      William Shen

We are always in His hands even when it doesn’t feel like it.

Nothing worthwhile is beyond saving.  It just takes a little courage.    Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton

Deuteronomy 31: 8  It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.”

The Frugal Catholic: “Who’s in Your Gold Bucket?” by Oryssia Earhart, guest writer–September 2018

Dear Readers,

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a convenient place to deposit prayer requests?   Well, after much  research, I’ve  found that prayer depository, and it’s  called Your Gold Bucket, Golden Box,  or  whatever you wish to call it.  The best part, however, is  it’s free, requires no space, and is only visible to God.   This idea comes from my friend Oryssia Earhart, who is a fiction writer and substitute teacher in the Archdiocese of Seattle.  Oryssia, who graduated Magna Cum Laude with her  Masters degree in Theology from Augustine Institute,  shared this valuable concept; and  I believe you will find her idea complete and easy to use.

Blessings,

Martha

martha@thefrugalcatholic.com

___________________________________

 

1. How did you come up with the mental image of a golden bucket holding your prayers? 

Answer: I was having problems trying to remember all the names people gave me to pray for others, themselves, etc.   My poor mind couldn’t hold it all in.      Then I was watching TV and someone was talking about things to put into your bucket list to do before you die.   Suddenly,  it hit me— I don’t need that kind of bucket list.  Instead, I needed a mental gold bucket for prayers.  So I asked God to please remember everyone who had asked me to pray for them, plus the holy souls in purgatory who need our prayers, and to put their names into that container.   Now every time someone asks me to pray for them, I mentally write their name on a beautiful piece of paper and watch it float into the bucket.   Every day, when I say the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet,  I ask God to apply both to everyone in my Gold Bucket.    And in this way, when someone asks me to pray for them, I mentally put them into my bucket, and they’re good for a rosary and chaplet.   Now my poor brain is happy!

 2. Do you know if any of your prayers have been answered?

Answer: I don’t know and I don’t ask.   I leave that to God.   My job, as I see it, is to continue to pray– to be faithful to all who are in the bucket.   Even if a prayer has been answered, there will probably be more problems that the person has to deal with and will need more prayers.  You know what’s interesting?   The bucket, holding all those souls, including those in purgatory, has never gotten filled.   Amazing.

3.  Greatest advantage?

Answer: I let God do the remembering.   All I do is add another name. He knows who’s in the bucket, and he knows that my prayers are for all of them.   Incredible freedom.

4. Advice?

Answer: Use my idea, or come up with your own.   Maybe others who have better memories than I don’t need a Gold Bucket for prayers, but I’ve found that I don’t stress anymore if I forget to pray for someone.   I let God take care of a lot in my life,  and  I know He’ll give me the strength and  ideas on how to fix my challenges.  It is a relief to put my whole life and trust  into His hands and not let little things bother me.   I love doing God’s will instead of mine.

One thing I learned in my graduate program, from Augustine Institute,  is that we come from God, and we have to get back to Him if we are to have perfect happiness.  God gave us lots of tools to help us return–the Church, Sacred Scripture, the Sacraments, and prayer.  The Father wants us to live our lives with Christ’s love and joy and do  The Father’s Will.

I love and live by Mother Teresa’s precept:

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered,
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you.
Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.”

A final though which I find  to be very important is  “to learn how to get closer to God.” The best way I’ve found to draw nearer  is to do a  Holy Hour of Adoration every week.   Jesus doesn’t ask much of us, but He wants to give us His divine life.   Still we have to learn how to be friends with Him,  love Him, and express that love.   So spending time with Him for one hour a week in Adoration is not asking too much, is it?   Wouldn’t you do that for someone you loved?   I want to go to Heaven for that is my real home.   And right now, I am trying to do whatever I can to get there  because I want to be with God.  Nothing else matters.

The Frugal Catholic: “What’s Your New Straight?”–by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.–July 2018

Some folks are born straight:  others are crooked to the core.  I am one of the latter.  Case in point.  When I was young, I asked God for curves;  I just didn’t specify where.  He gave me lovely curves at age 18– in my spine from Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS).  The moral to the story is to PRAY SPECIFICALLY, whether you’re straight  or not.  Well I am straighter now, (two and one-half inches taller)  and without pain because of complex spine surgery in Seattle  this April  by  Rajiv Sethi, MD and Jean-Christophe Leveque, MD at Virginia Mason.   In my 70 years, this has been my greatest physical test,  yet my most tender time of growth with my heavenly Father.  Life throws us curves, but God is always beside us  to make our paths straight.

So what “CURVES” are you struggling with —weight loss,  exercise, a new baby, a new move, a new job. . .  ?    We have an Elder Brother who knows firsthand how hard life is, and He imparts  the strength for that straight.  As it says in Matthew 3:3, “This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, ‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”  By hanging on to Jesus in all of our challenges, we can form better pathways.

An example of a 60 degree curve which mine was.

                                           What’s Your Curve?

None of us are without challenges; we are all carrying around some curve.   Christ, however, came to set us on a straight path to holiness– His joy. Nehemiah 8:10“…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  And His joy is forged from forgiveness–of ourselves and others.     (“Father,  forgive them for they know not what they do”–as Christ said on the Cross.)  Correcting a CURVE is something like finding that joy through forgiveness.  It is hard work, it can be painful, and it feels  like it might do you under.  But, if you let it, that curve can be straightened out.  And the process could  help you become “the best version of yourself” as Catholic author and speaker Matthew Kelly says.  The interesting part is that with each new straight we acquire, God needs to rewire us.

A 50 percent curve corrected to 10 percent. Notice hardware now screwed into the spine.

                                                    God’s Rewiring

If our paths are crooked then God must reboot.  For me it meant learning to stand  and walk again without listing to the left, the direction my body remembered.   Fortunately I don’t have to think about it because  those 25 screws and three rods down my spine have  begun to rewire my brain.  My mind has also learned   that my spine isn’t  where it was; it has been reconfigured into a more normal shape and I am no longer feeling deformed or pain like  I did for 50 years.  It has taken three months  of work (like learning to walk again 🙂  but  each day, God has been lovingly reprogramming my mind.

                                           My Student’s New Straight

One of my former students, Mike,  shared his desire for a new straight by losing weight.  He stated, “It would help me not to cheat in little ways if I imagined a steel trap on my mouth that is locked shut and only unlocks at meal time in the presence of small portions of healthy food.”  That is a great “new straight” visualization  tool which God can employ.    Remember, my brain kept wanting to lean to my left,  but my new straight won’t allow me : I am locked in  with permanent screws, bolts, and rods.  So find a visual image or some kind of a mental tool  which can help you focus on  your desires.

                               My Homeless Friend’s New Straight

My  friend, Elizabeth,  has been living out of her truck for months, yet she too is learning a new straight.   She didn’t set out to be homeless.  She lost her job and has been using community and  faith resources to keep alive. Today she knocked on my front door with good news, “I got a job mowing the golf course.  Part time 20 hours a week for $13 an hour.”  As a former architect, that job is below her goals, but it is work.  Today in morning Mass she cried to  God to show her His love.  He gave her a job:  Her new straight.

What has she learned from this journey?  She has learned gratitude, lack of envy, and to trust in God no matter what huge new straights He has shaped.

                                                          The Big Plow

Sometimes when we are plowing through life, we aren’t paying attention.  When God gave me children, He imparted a desire to teach them all at home;  so I  home-schooled all five of them for a total of twenty-two years.  In that journey to educate my offspring, I came across a wonderful scripture that kept me going.  It states,  Luke 9:62  Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”   Know why?  Well if you had a plow and an ox  in front of you and turned  to  gaze  at your work accomplished, what would the plowed rows ahead  look like?  That’s right.  BIG CURVES.  Yes, if I had lusted for an easier way than to home school, my eyes would have been on my goal, not God’s goal for me.    So no matter what STRAIGHT you might desire or need,  take His hand on this marvelous journey,  keep your eyes on His plow,  and have faith in His plan for His love will get you through.


The Frugal Catholic: “Wild Thoughts for April” by Martha Wild King M.Ed.–April 2018

Wild Thoughts #1

You will spend 12-18% more when you use a credit card versus cash according to a Dun and Bradstreet study.  In other studies, I have read as high as 34%.  So cut your spending by using cash.  Give it a try and watch what happens because credit cards encourage impulse buying; whereas, if you have to fork over cash there is a sensation of loss.  Credit cards seem like friction free spending, yet 60% of credit card users can’t pay off what they owe each month so consider cash and watch how much better you manage your money.

 

Wild Thoughts #2

“The shortest distance between two points is to DO God’s Will.”

The Frugal Catholic: “Your Mother Loves You” by Martha Wild King M.Ed.–March 2018

When my mother died four years ago, her final words to me were, “Your arms are too fat, and remember the poor.” Those words described our kinship.  Our relationship wasn’t what I wanted, but it was the one God gave me;  and it was the only one Mom knew how to give, for we can only give what we have received.  Mom’s words, however unkind they seemed at the time, did inspire me to lose weight and keep it off and to begin selling my dishcloths to purchase farm animals for the poor through Catholic Relief Services.   Her words accomplished their mission.

Now maybe your relationship with your mother is or was better than mine, or perhaps it’s worse.  After all, the only person who could chose His mom was Jesus.  And better yet, He gave  His Beloved Mother to us when he was being crucified on the cross which now means that we too  have the best Mom possible.

So how is your relationship with Your Blessed Mother this Easter season?  She wants to show you.

I first learned of this lovely tradition from Kimberly Hahn, mother of six and wife of Dr. Scott Hahn, a well-known Catholic author and speaker.  She told her children that whenever they find a PENNY, it is her way and Mary’s way of saying, “Your mother loves you.”

Therefore when you are down, look down, and most often you will find a penny on the sidewalk or street.  Ask Mary to show her concern, and some shiny copper will appear letting you know.  Feel alone or confused?  Well that small coin will show you aren’t.

Hence the next time you find that one-cent piece, pick it up and thank God for your Mom—your Blessed Mother, your biological mother, or your adoptive one. Then if you think about it, drop that penny into the collection for the poor:  She dearly loves them too.

The Frugal Catholic: “Make Money by Wearing It Out” by Kaveri Marathe February 2018

Dear The Frugal Catholic readers:  For the past four months my husband and I have temporarily  downsized from a big house to a tiny home of 325 square feet.  The reason is we purchased, sight unseen, a real fixer upper in the middle of Washington DC.  While renovating, I had the pleasure of meeting a resident in our building, Kaveri Marathe–a lovely young woman with an amazing frugal-earth-changing vision.  Hopefully you will be inspired by what she is doing as much as I have been.  For furthur information on her organization, go to

http://www.texiles.com

  1.   TFC–  Kavari, my last four Frugal Catholic articles were about— make it do, do without, use it up, and wear it out.  As I have discovered, www.texiles.com does exactly that. Can you explain what www.texiles.com is and why and when  you started this company?
KM—Texiles is a startup clothing recycling service dedicated to eliminating clothing waste in the landfill. We offer customers a home pickup of used clothing and household linens and encourage them to include items in their pickup bag that they would otherwise throw in the trash, like garments with holes or stains, or underwear. 
 
Americans throw out 80 pounds of clothing every year on average, even though 95% of that content is recyclable. I started Texiles not only to prevent usable material from ending up in the trash but to educate consumers about the harmful impact of the fashion industry on the environment and factory workers and the role they play when they make purchasing decisions. 
 
I started the company in September of 2017 and we are currently offering pickups in the DC area, though we hope to both add a few drop-off points soon, as well as expand into neighboring Maryland and Virginia within the next year.

2. TFC Whom does it benefit?
KM—Our service benefits the environment by keeping clothing and textiles out of the trash. In the landfill, these materials can biodegrade slowly, releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and leaching toxic chemicals that are found in modern dyes into the groundwater. It also helps the environment by reusing material instead of manufacturing that material from scratch. It requires over 700 gallons of water to grow enough cotton just to make one t-shirt! By recycling used cotton, that water is saved.
 
We also benefit society by donating some of the clothing and linens we receive to local charities, such as Dress for Success, a charity that helps economically disadvantaged women, Thrive, a homeless shelter, and the Humane Rescue Alliance, an animal shelter. 
 
Finally, we help our customers by offering them a convenient and responsible method for disposing of their clothing.

 

3. TFC— Are lice and bed bugs a problem?

KM—So far, not at all! (Keep your fingers crossed for me on that front.) I require that customers launder everything before putting it in the pickup bag, which has thus far prevented any infestations.

4.  TFC—In what ways has owning this company affected your style of living frugally and dressing frugally?
KM–-I’m glad you asked this because this has been one of the biggest benefits to me personally, so far. Once I became aware of the environmental cost of manufacturing new clothing, and the harmful labor conditions in the fashion industry, I decided to only shop secondhand, do clothing swaps, or wear hand-me-downs (I make an exception for underwear!) Initially, I thought this would be a sacrifice as, previously, I would often make shopping pitstops when I had free time. Quitting shopping, though, was actually quite liberating–it made me much more conscious of the underlying emotions that were triggering my shopping habit as well as the vast amount of clothing I already had. Most importantly, I no longer feel the urge to shop idly or that I’m somehow missing out by not shopping.

5.  TFC—What advice can you give to my readers regarding their purchasing recycled clothing from consignment stores or thrift shops?
KM—Thrifting is so much fun! I think the best part about shopping secondhand is the thrill of the hunt. There’s no better feeling than finding a truly unique garment for an amazing price–it’s much more satisfying than shopping something new, even on sale. 
 
Some people worry about quality or cleanliness of items at thrift stores so my advice is always to take it home and wash it right away. I have some tips on my website for getting out stains and musty smells too. (https://www.texiles.com/blog/2017/11/7/dont-toss-that-tee-clothing-upkeep-and-repair-tips-to-help-you-keep-your-clothes-longer)

6.  TFC—How could The Frugal Catholic readers do something similar to help their environment?
KM—I think following the classic Reduce, Reuse, Recycle model is the best thing you can do when it comes to clothing. 1. Reduce your consumption. Think carefully before shopping for something new and see if you can borrow something or get by without it. There’s a great company called Rent the Runway I recommend trying that rents out fancy party dresses. 2. Reuse what you already own, i.e. shop your closet! Most people typically only wear 20% of the clothes in their closet regularly, so before heading out to the stores, head to the back of your closet. 3. Recycle what you don’t want, don’t trash it. Even if Texiles isn’t yet in your city, take your old clothing to a Goodwill or other charity that accepts clothing donations. Many Goodwill locations have recycling partners, so you can include your “unwearables” (clothing with holes, stains, etc.) in your donation.
 
Finally, educate your friends and family! Most people don’t know that 95% of clothing material can be recycled or that many charities will accept unwearable garments.