Monday, June 23, 2014

Dressing Modestly Cute on a Thrift Store Budget

When I first thought thrift store I thought vintage, unique, old, dusty, fixer-upper projects. I thought old camp t-shirts with holes and ripped up jeans. I thought flowery couches and dresses with shoulder pads and too many sequins. I didn't think adorable name brand outfits. While many thrift stores have plenty of dust and unique items most are chock full of amazing barely worn items of clothing waiting for you to dig them out.

I have noticed that the more organized, easier to shop stores are more pricey with their clothing priced at $2-$5 per item while the thrift stores with clothes in stacks, piles or bins have prices from $0.10-0.50 you just have to work for it. Most thrift stores have weekly specials like 1/2 off clothing days or my favorite "fill-a-bag" sales. In our town we have several stores with weekly fill-a-bag sales, one store runs a 50 items for $5 sale, that means each item of clothing is only $0.10.

We visit our local stores bi-weekly browsing for replacement clothing items. I always pick up any unstained solid, bright colored or white tees I find for under spaghetti-strapped dresses or to go with a patterned skirt. We almost never find an entire matching outfit at one store in one day but when you stick with solid colors and cute pieces outfits always come together! Each person in our family has 14 outfits and 4 church outfits, because our clothes are so cheap and our kids are growing so fast it seems like we are always replacing and re-donating outfits.
Just to note, although Goodwill has stolen much of the secondhand marketplace we do not donate or shop there. You can do your own research on how they choose to pay and treat their staff as well as how much money their CEO is pocketing off donated goods each year. There are plenty of small ministry-minded thrift stores locally that are helping the community, they are much cheaper than Goodwill anyway!
Although most anything other than a speedo looks modest on a boy we do have some dress requirements for our boys. All our boy's outfits have collars, either polos or button down shirts and shorts that come to the knee (which is pretty standard for boy shorts). They don't wear just t-shirts or play shorts, they also have matching outfits. We did the days where they had overflowing drawers but no matching outfits and it felt and they looked like chaos. I write a letter on each tag to help them sort outfits while folding laundry so they can easily put "A" shirt with "A" shorts and so on. 
With my daughter's coaxing I even got some outfit pictures taken to show what some of my thrift store, modest outfits look like. Now I know what your thinking "THE GIRLS DON'T WEAR PANTS!?!" Okay, first breath. We are not crazy, well maybe a little, but this has been a slow transition to live out our modesty to God's standards, not our own.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Matthew 5:27-28

"Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works." 1 Timothy 2:9-10

 "A woman shall not wear a man's garment, nor shall a man put on a woman's cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God." Deuteronomy 22:5

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20     
I used to believe I was very modest with my jeans, t-shirt and flip-flops. I wasn't bearing any skin but in my size 4 skinny jeans I wasn't carrying the message I intended to first impressions either. I know I am a young mom, but after I was asked if I was a nanny every outing and many people even had the guts to ask how many baby daddys I had it made me question myself. Was this my goal? Was the way I was dressing God-glorifying? What message was I sending about our family or Jesus?

Our oldest daughter came to me one day and told me she wanted to donate all her shorts, pants and jeans and wear only skirts and dresses. I was a little perturbed as I thought this was just a trick to gain a new wardrobe at mommy and daddy's expense. She shared with me a verse she had read in 1 Timothy during her quiet bible reading time. She said, "I think God wants me to dress modestly and like a girl." She began this switch of hers on her own, slowly as we acquired her new (to her) clothing from local thrift stores. Then little sister, Risa, followed her sister's lead and also dawned on skirts. I wasn't ready to leave my comfort zone just yet, come on, I only had two skirts and one dress for church in my entire wardrobe plus I just LOVED my jeans.

Months passed and then my Mirabel challenged me to 30 days of skirt wearing, I took her challenge. To be honest I felt weird at first, like people were going to point, stare and ask me if I was in a cult. Those 30 days gave me a whole new perspective on modesty. During this month of the skirts I wasn't asked once if I was a nanny but instead asked if all these beautiful children were mine. Many strangers seemed to smile kindly toward our family instead of the blank stares we were used to getting in public. We were stopped so often for compliments instead of questions pertaining to my kids genetic origin. It was refreshing.

I realized quickly that I was SO much more comfortable living in FL wearing airy and breathable clothing. I also noticed that wearing skirts and dresses solved my being-a-mom-of-little-ones-wearing-nice-non-mommy-jeans-problem. You know that problem, the problem when you bend over to kiss a boo-boo, talk to or pick up a little one and those low-rising jeans creep down and your fitted shirt begins to rise leaving you exposing the color and style of your underwear or even *gasp* some crack! My big kids, customer's at Walmart, and patients at the doctors office got their fair share of viewing my plumber's butt during my fitted pants wearing days. Skirts never creep down or expose, and if the skirt's length is just past your knees it won't expose you in other ways when you squat down or sit criss-cross-applesauce either.

God used those 30 days to open my eyes to how we dress and how approachable we seem to strangers can open us up to amazing conversations, gospel opportunity and even new friendships! God changed my modesty view from the inside out. He showed me through His Word and Spirit that my skin-tight jeans weren't a modest, God-glorifying option by Jesus' standards yet neither was wearing baggy man pants. Well if I can't wear pants, what then Lord? My only option was to trust God and my Spirit's promptings and dress in modestly feminine skirts and dresses. Our goal with our dress is to not adorn ourselves with anything costly, tight or skin-bearing but to be approachable so that we can glorify our Father and open up opportunities to tell others about Jesus.

Start your 30 day skirt-wearing challenge today!
Well, first go to a local thrift store and pick up some easy, breezy, beautiful skirts, pray, seek the Lord and then start your 30 day challenge! Let us know how it goes! Remember, however you choose to dress, the Lord does not judge outward appearance but judges the heart, although it is tempting at times, we must never look with judgement on any person due to their dress or appearance alone.
"Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” John 7:24
"But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7     

Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Thriftiness - DIY Recycled Pallet Creations

 This post is unlike most of our parenting/adoption blog posts. I wanted to share all our pallet creations. Pallets are free (most of the time) and pretty easy to find, most any retail store that gets in large shipments has pallets. We pick up free pallets and free wood from ads on craigslist or as we happen to find them on the side of the road.

We (mommy and the kids) have made many structures with pallets, here is our kid's favorite:

Two Story Playhouse

Just 5 pallets held together with 12" wood scraps. I replaced the flimsy plywood roof with an old metal door. That made a sturdy surface to build up. Then add a slide from the side of the road!

We used 4 more pallets, two on each side. Again attached with scrap wood and using 7 cut pieces of 2x4 we constructed an A-frame and stapled an old tarp to it for a high roof. Old pool ladder was trash.

Our two story playhouse cost $20, just for a box of screws! (That box lasted for all our other creations too!)

Rabbit Hutch

Using a pallet as the floor, all recycled wood and an old sheet of plexi-glass we built an oversized rabbit hutch. The chicken wire and hinges we did buy new. The paint was just left over exterior paint.
So our entire rabbit hutch cost $20 for chicken wire and new hinges and hooks. 

Chicken Coop (small)

We used 3 full pallets, some recycled wood and one small pallet cut in half for the door. We put up 3 shelves from old plywood and the roof was an old metal "detour" street sign that was left on our property.
Total for the hinges and hook we spent $10 on our chicken coop!

Donkey Stable

This was by far our biggest pallet project. It took 15 pallets and lots of strength!!! The 2 big kids and mommy pulled it off though! For a pallet wall we laid 4 pallets next to each other and using 5 scraps of wood we screwed them together at the corners and middle. Then we raised the walls!
To attach two walls we used 3 wood scraps to brace walls together at corners.
Once three walls were raised we added 2 more pallets for a half wall and recycled deck beams as roof support. Mirabel drilled in the thin plywood pieces we had and we nailed a tarp on top.
It is ventilated and roomy for our donkey and goat herd on a rainy or hot day! Now just to add a pallet door!
Our stable cost us just $10 for hinges!

Duck Coop

We found an old cabinet on the side of the road, perfect nesting boxes for our duckies and it came with free hinges! Plus two pallets for side walls and one more cut in half for the front.
We covered the entire pallet house in chicken wire and added a sheet of recycled plywood as the roof. On the opening pallet door we added a small white door as a duck entrance.
With a thin plywood piece we hammered small scrap wood on to make a duck-friendly ramp. We also shingled the roof with leftover trashed shingles.
Our duck coop cost a total of $1 for a hook and eye hardware set!


 Chicken Coop (large)

Using 5pallets, one left over pallet cut in half, some trashed plastic siding and chicken wire we built a double wide chicken coop. This one is lower to the ground but my little kids have no problem gathering eggs!
We lined the side and back wall with shelves and added roosting poles on the far right side. We may add box dividers if needed but for now our chickens love it!
Our chicken run panels were given to us when a neighbor was cleaning up there yard. Our coop cost $20 for chicken wire and hardware.

You can do it!

When building your chicken coop or animal habitat remember it is going to be covered in poop! They sell such cute little rabbit hutches and backyard chicken coops at the stores for over a hundred dollars and they look beautiful but the moment your bird or bunny is well fed and happy they will change it's appearance and value forever! Paint makes anything look good! You can't mess up, your chicken won't chew you out, your bunny won't turn her nose up to it, if it has a roof and a comfy spot to rest they will love it and your wallet will feel nice too!

Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone