Tuesday, September 28, 2010

For you, Tara --- part 4

I seriously laughed out loud when I read the next question in line from Tara's comment the other day. I would stop & take a picture of my bedroom to show you just how bad it is, but I don't want to blow my image completely. ha ha! You see, Tara's next question was

" How you keep organized."

Hang on a second while I bust a gut like this lady.

Ok, seriously, I think it's so sweet that Tara thinks I'm organized. I will admit that I AM organized in some areas of my life. Unfortunately, that organization doesn't stretch into all the areas of my life that I'd like it to! I tend to be more anal-retentive/OCD/control freakish about those areas of my life, so hang on tight. If you follow any of these tips, you may be given those titles by your family too! Probably my biggest area of organization is in the meal planning/grocery shopping area, so I'll tell ya how I do that! (If you know of another freakishly organized area of my life & want to know how I do that, let me know & I'll explain!)

I get some sort of weird pleasure out of sitting down with my meal planner sheets (you can print it out from this site: http://www.homelifeweekly.com/cooking/weekly-menu-planner/) and my calendar to plan out the coming week's schedule & meals. If there is a night when I know that we'll all be going in different directions, I am more apt to plan something simple like sandwiches & chips & fruit or hot dogs. (quick things that can be thrown together or heated up in a hurry) If I know that we have somewhere to go, but it won't be til later in the night, I will plan for a bit more complicated meal, but not a typical one that will take 30 min to an hour to cook. Ordinarily, however, if we will all be home, I cook a 'regular' meal. I write out our meals for the week on the menu planner form & then pull out my paper to make the grocery list. I ONLY buy the ingredients needed for those meals. I do occasionally have to go back & buy milk or bread or fruit mid-week, but aside from that sort of thing, I buy it all at one time on the weekend. It took me years to master this skill, but I'm telling you, it's so worth the hour's time it'll take to sit down & write out a menu and list. You'll save lots of time & money in the long run!

And here's where I really bare my soul. I'm totally anal about my grocery list. Don't laugh. This is what it looks like.

I divide it up by the store's layout so that I'm in & out of the store quickly.

I try to make meals from items we already have in the freezer or pantry to minimize the cost. Some weeks that is easier than others! I like to stock up on meats & canned foods when I can for this reason, so watch those mark-down meats & grocery sale ads! (But be careful -- don't buy it just because it's a bargain! Only buy what you KNOW your family will eat.) I rarely use coupons because it's very easy to clip a coupon for something I DON'T NEED just for the sake of trying a new product or getting to use the coupon. Don't do it, folks! You're just wasting money!

Also, just because I have a menu plan doesn't mean that I stick to it like glue. Just because I planned to have spaghetti on Monday doesn't mean that we will eat it that night. If there is a change in our schedule or we're just not in the mood for that meal on that night, we'll have another one from the planner. I just mark them off as we go each night.

Monday, September 27, 2010

For you, Tara --- part 3

Continuing in my posts for Tara.....

Tonight's question: What family habits have you developed for devotions for your kids and as a couple and as a family?

Well, girl, I wish I could confidently proclaim how well we've done in this area. But I can't.
Over the years, we've tried various methods of devotions for the family, but nothing has ever 'stuck'. We tend to focus less on having a particular time devoted to sitting & reading & talking things out (like a family church service at home) and more on living it day in & day out. We try to take conversations as they naturally happen & turn them into teachable moments.That's certainly not to say that we have somehow 'arrived' because Heaven knows we have NOT. But, we learned a long time ago that having a regimented way of doing something might or might not work where kids are involved. Sometimes it's just easier to wing it. (or at least it is for us) I read other blogs & have read a hundred books on the topic over the years and it all sounds like such great stuff....but we've just never been able to put it all into practice.

We do have some holiday traditions that include family devotions & living out God's love for others. And I'd be glad to share those things but will probably just wait til the holiday season this year & share as we go. (But email me if you want to hear about it sooner.)

However, with all that in mind, I can tell you of a few awesome books that I would totally recommend to at least point you in the right direction. We take bits & pieces of them all & use them regularly.

First is Parenting with Scripture. It is a topical guide for those teachable moments where you can slip in some Scripture & focus their hearts on Jesus.

Second is my "parenting Bible". I totally think all Christian parents should be required to read this one. It is Lisa Whelchel's Creative Correction.

Another one I like is similar to the first one. It's called 31 Days of Prayer for My Child.

I also loved Together at Home. It's no longer in print, but if you click on the title, it'll take you to Amazon where there are used copies going for as little as 1 cent. It's a great book of hundreds of ideas for family nights with a faith-focus. And I believe there was a sequel to the book called More Together at Home or something along those lines. (I haven't read it.)

As far as parenting books that I think are invaluable to Christian parenting, I'd highly recommend Shepherding a Child's Heart and A Mother's Heart.

I hope this has helped!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Colossians 4:18

Our pastor has spent most of the summer working through the book of Colossians. Taking the book apart piece by piece, looking at individual passages, really digging in. It's been great. This morning was his final day in Colossians. As we sat reading the Scripture that he'd be preaching from today, one particular verse jumped off the page & slapped me in the face. You know how that goes, right? You read something that seems so insignificant in the grand scheme of the passage you're reading, but one little phrase really rips a hole right into your soul. This was that verse.

Colossians 4:18 says "I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you."

It's just one little verse. It's the very last verse at the end of an a tiny 4 chapters long book. Why did that one get me? It wasn't the whole verse. It was the last two sentences that struck a chord in me.

"Remember my chains. Grace be with you."

I think that alone can sum up my entire faith. Everything about my relationship with Jesus is there. Those 7 words really cover it all. Look at it.

Remember: recall, don't forget, keep in mind
my chains: my sins, my mistakes, my faults, my misdeeds
Grace be with you: unmerited love, favor, mercy, kindness; given to me on the Cross by Jesus

While my faith is built on the fact that Jesus died for me & I am made righteous & promised eternity in Heaven with Him because of what He did for me, I believe that it's important that we, as Christians, don't forget where we came from. The depths of darkness our sins created, the anguish our sins caused Him. I know there are some who would say we should focus on who we are now by our place in Christ -- righteous saints, holy ones, chosen people made blameless & pure by Him. And I agree. But if I forget my chains entirely, I tend to want to walk alone & hold myself up. So while my chains are gone & I am FREE, I can still look over my shoulder & see them. And it reminds me again & again to praise HIM for His grace.

All throughout this morning's sermon, I was hearing this song in my head. The lyrics say:

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind, but now I see
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing grace

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, Who called me here below
Will be forever mine
Will be forever mine
You are forever mine


For you, Tara --- part 2

As a continuation to last night's post for my sweet friend, Tara, tonight I will answer this part of her comment/questions:

Your favorite worship leaders/songs.

{You'll need to scroll down to the bottom of this page & pause the music in my player so you can watch/hear all these videos!}

First of all, I'm sure Tara will agree that we've got an awesome worship pastor at our church. Todd writes some of his own music and is great! Feel free to watch a couple videos of our church's worship style here and here and here.

I am also totally in love with the work of these amazing worship leaders/singers:
Kari Jobe (and probably my favorite song of hers in the one in this video)
Chris Tomlin
Paul Baloche
Desperation Band <---I always want to bounce around & dance to this one!
David Crowder Band
Third Day
Nichole Nordeman <--there is NOTHING she's done that I don't like. Amazing talent to bring me to Jesus every single time!
Nicole C. Mullen
Natalie Grant
Barlow Girl
Casting Crowns
Mercy Me
Matt Redman
Michael W. Smith
Sanctus Real
Mary Mary (I think this was the only big hit of theirs, but I love it!)
Brandon Heath
FFH (Far From Home)
Tenth Avenue North
Darlene Zschech
Chris Rice

I could go on & on. So many amazing singers/groups with fabulous stuff these days! It would be easier for me to turn on KVNE (our local Christian radio station) & tell you which groups/singers I don't like. :)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

For you, Tara --- part 1

I think it was about 2 years ago. I got a friend request from a lady on Facebook. I had seen her name/picture on comments to my friends' status updates but didn't know her at all. When she sent me a friend request, I checked who our mutual friends were & sent a couple of them messages saying "Who is this lady? Do I know her? She sent me a friend request. Since you are a mutual friend of ours, can you tell me about her?" Over & over, I got the same answers --- that she worked with the kids at a local mega(ish) church & that she was a sweetheart. I don't usually accept friend requests from strangers but for some reason, I felt safe with this one. Soon after, I wrote & asked her if we'd met before. I thought maybe we'd crossed paths somewhere along the way & her answer blew me away. She was SO sweet to tell me that she'd seen my comments on her friends' pages & she just wanted to know me because she thought I seemed nice. That was all it took for me to know she was a smart cookie (ha ha!) and that I wanted to be friends with her.

Over the course of the next year (roughly), we had a Facebook relationship. We commented on each other's pictures and statuses, but we never saw each other in person. Earlier this year, she sent me a message about some issues they were having & we realized very quickly that God had put us together for a reason. She felt very awkward about reaching out to me with a problem since we barely knew each other, but they were dealing with some things that Larry & I have dealt with firsthand. We were able to pray for them, tell them how things had worked for us, what we did to handle similar circumstances.

Several months ago, Tara's family began attending our church. She is an absolute doll! All those things people told me 2 years ago were true! She's one of the most authentic, honest, genuine people. And I LOVE that about her. I've long said that we need more transparent Christians in the Church and being a friend of Tara's is a breath of fresh air. I love this girl!! Her kids are precious, her husband is a hoot and I've had the best time sitting beside her in church, worshiping God together. She often says that she's glad I am her friend.......but she doesn't know that it's actually the other way around. I am thrilled that she's my friend!

In my last post, I asked if anyone would like to hear about anything in particular & my sweet friend Tara commented:

"I would love to hear who inspires you. Your favorite worship leaders/songs. What family habits have you developed for devotions for your kids and as a couple and as a family. How you keep organized. What you had for dinner! LOLOLOLOL...ok now I'm off on a tangent. I just like to hear how others make their homes centered around our Precious Savior! Just helps me to develop those things in our house!"

I may have to break that down into a couple of posts.

I would love to hear who inspires you.

For me, inspiration means someone or something that gives you a feeling, thought or idea that pushes you to move forward. Whether that means a recipe that I read that makes me want to try it....or a devotional I read that makes me want to follow Him more closely.....or a person who does something really cool that makes me want to do something really cool, too. So who inspires me?

My kids inspire me. Healthy people jogging down the street inspire me. People who get in bed at a decent hour all the time inspire me. My husband inspires me. My pastor inspires me every week! The list could really go on & on & on. Apparently I need a lot of inspiration in my life. ha ha!

I am so thankful that I have so many amazing people in my life that inspire me to do all sorts of things.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I'm stumped.

This morning when I woke up, I went to wake up the kids & found Samuel camped out in the bathroom. And let's just say it wasn't because he was throwing up. Oh yes, the OTHER thing. So I am home from work today. We've played video games & watched Tom and Jerry and Phineas & Ferb together. We went to the store & got him some Gatorade. He's mostly layed around in front of the TV all day long. Every time he tries to eat or drink, he says his stomach cramps again. But he seems to feel OK in between bouts of that.

On a totally different note, I've been trying to blog for a week but keep getting writer's block when I sit down to type. I can't think of anything to talk about. Is there anything in particular you'd like to hear about?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fun survey!

1) If you were a doll, the accessories packaged with you would be:
a tiny laptop, paper & pens, books

2) I have an irrational fear of:
I'm not sure if it classifies as irrational but I can't stand even the thought of snakes or mice/rats. ick!!!

3) What would you do if you were stranded on an island with the person you hate most?
I don't know. Because I can't think of anyone I "hate most".

4) I find the thought of childbirth:
is exciting! I enjoyed being pregnant, being in labor & giving birth. It's the months of little sleep & constant neediness of a newborn that scare me.

5) My toenails are:
not looking too pretty tonight. This morning I attempted to remove my toenail on my big toe of my right foot. Well, at least that's how it appeared. I opened my bedroom door into my toe & heard a lovely crunching sound right about the time I winced in pain. I could've sworn I had ripped my toenail off, but it's still attached & very sore! It's not bleeding but I am still getting some clear liquid seeping out now & then. I'm soaking it in Epsom salts a couple times a day, keeping it clean & dry and spraying it with Bactine every time I have to do anything with it. I'm crossing my fingers that it won't get all nasty & infected and won't require any drugs or doctor visits! I have pictures if you want to see! :)

6) Who is your partner in crime?
Larry, of course! :)

7) What was the last thing to make you cry?
When one of our students at school graduated last week. I didn't totally cry, but I welled up. What can I say? I'm a sap.

8.) What’s most confusing to you?
quantum physics
Just kidding. I don't even know what that is! There are many confusing things in life!

9) What is one thing you’ve learned about life?
that it passes SO quickly. Live every minute like it's your last.

10) Have you ever been stuck in an elevator?
yes! In 2005 when Larry first went on staff at the church, he went out of town for some conference & it was up to me to take a group of single parents & their kids to an out of town play. We got there safe & sound, but 2 minutes after entering the building, me and my kids and a handful of other people in our group (with their kids!) all got stuck in an elevator. We were there for over an hour & had to be rescued by the fire department!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I can almost taste it.

Today is Larry's birthday. For the first few years we were married, I remember him telling me annually how he had always loved having a September birthday. It reminded him, as a kid, that Fall was upon us. He loved pulling his flannel plaid shirts out to wear and feeling the cooler air outside. Somewhere along the way in those first few newlywed years, I caught the 'fever' from him. And now, every year, I anticipate his birthday coming not just because it's a special day for him, but because passing through mid-September means that Fall is on the way!

I love Fall! I love the holiday season. I love pumpkin and cinnamon candles. I love the smell of people burning leaves. I love the scent of fireplaces burning for the first time of the season (ok, so that's wayyyyyyyy later in the Fall!). I love going through the kids' off-season clothes & pulling out the long sleeved stuff & packing away summery clothes for the winter. I love the feel of those cold-weather fabrics on my skin. I love gearing up for Thanksgiving & Christmas. (and oh, by the way...my birthday which is in November!)

And so, it's here. Today was Larry's birthday. That means that the first day of Fall is just about a week away. It's nearly here! I can almost taste it!!!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Most confusing bad Christian advice?

Having grown up in the Church my entire life, I've heard all sorts of bad "wisdom" from well meaning people. But one of those tidbits of wisdom in particular always stands out to me. I'm curious if you, too, have been on the receiving end of some of this kind of thing. You know the stuff I'm talking about. The pat answers, the blanket statements that people make with good intentions but things they obviously have never really thought through.

For me it is this one: "God will never give you more than you can handle."

Oh puh-leaze! Yes He will! If we could handle everything on our own, why would we need Him? If we have everything under control, that means HE is not such a big God after all. If we could handle everything, why haven't we (general we) gotten famine, poverty, hunger, AIDS, cancer, orphans (I could go on & on...) handled? Of course He gives us more than we can handle! He wants us to rely on Him and Him ALONE -- NOT on ourselves!

I'm sure that somewhere along the way, someone took 1 Corinthians 10:13 and got the meaning all screwed up. It's an easy path from one meaning to the other. Sort of. But really, please do not tell someone who is suffering through a horrible time or a loss of some kind that God will never give them more than they can handle. Good grief. They would feel like a tiny person if they couldn't figure out a way to handle the situation they're in.

What is the appropriate statement instead? How about "He is walking through this with you." or "Trust in Him." or "Keep your eyes focused on Him. He'll get you through this." Or how about pointing them to Scriptures like these from Psalm 139 that point out God's presence no matter what we're going through or where we are?

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

So tell me......what is your "pet peeve" of bad Christian advice?

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I've peeked at my blog all this past week thinking "I need to write." I love to write, so it shouldn't be a big issue for me to come up with something to write about! But somehow every night I've been too tired or too brain-dead to think of anything worth writing about. And I know that, with today being 9/11, half the blogging world will post something about 9/11. I don't think it's something I'm obligated to do, but I think it's the right thing to do. To remember, to pause & recognize again the brevity of life.

Tonight we went to a church swim party at a tennis/pool club in town. It didn't even cross my mind for those 2 hours that today is 9/11. But when we came home & turned on the TV and began watching one documentary after another on the History channel, it occurred to me that there are those who will NEVER forget that today is 9/11. And for a moment, I felt guilty that I'd gone to a party & enjoyed sitting and chatting with friends while dangling my feet in the pool and snapping pictures of my kids swimming.

Watching those documentaries, like we do every year on 9/11, I was reminded of the horror of that day. I remember getting up & taking Savannah to school. She was in Kindergarten. I drove to a girlfriend's house that morning & parked my car in her driveway (she was at work) to take the babies on a walk through her neighborhood (which ironically is now the neighborhood where we live!). I put the cell phone in the stroller & pushed my little ones around the neighborhood & then got back in the car to head home. On the way there, I had heard a report on the radio about a plane hitting one of the world trade center towers. I couldn't help but think what an error that pilot had made getting so low to the ground & getting so off course as to hit a sky scraper in the middle of a big city. But as I was driving home, my cell phone started ringing. This was before the time that everyone in the world had a cell phone. There were only a handful of people who knew my cell number, so if anyone was calling, it was important. I pulled over & got the phone out (it was still in the pocket of the stroller in the back of the SUV I was driving back then). It was Larry asking me if I'd heard about the plane hitting the tower. I said yes, but then realized that he was talking about a 2nd plane in the 2nd tower! I drove home & turned on the news & watched it all day long. The kids were 7 months, 17 months and 5. I couldn't ignore the little two all day to keep up with the news, but I was reading online & switching the channel all day long to see if there was more news about what happened. Truly, it was a day when the world as we know it changed and I will never forget that day.

Someone on Facebook today said that her dad told her this would be her "JFK day". My grandfather would've said it would be my Pearl Harbor day. I suppose every generation of Americans has a particular tragedy that affected them & changed them. 9/11 is certainly one of those for me!

And so, today, I post this not because I have to but because I want to. I want to remember that day, all the horror & tragedy & confusion & fear. I want to remember because so many people gave their lives that day. I want to remember because we all need to fight harder to never take a minute for granted. You never know when we may have another JFK day...or Pearl Harbor day...or another 9/11.

"LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered--how fleeting my life is. Psalm 39:4 NLT

Please take a moment to watch this video: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7407032531351367066#

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Playing catch up

If you've been following my blog for the past few weeks, you know I've gone back & forth, up & down on the job stuff. Anxious & excited, then panicked when I actually got the new job, then sad & grieving for the loss of the old one. It's been a whole spectrum of emotions. Every time someone has asked me how the job is going, I've kind of wrinkled up my nose & said "eh...it's ok", but something finally struck me last night. I haven't been able to compartmentalize this job & answer that question solely based on how I feel about THIS job because I've been so busy comparing it to the old one. It's like apples & oranges, really. I'm having to make a conscious effort to separate the two and answer that question based on where I am now, not on all the reasons I didn't want to leave the old job. As much as I loved the old job, I can love this one too... just for different reasons. I am finding that I do enjoy the new job and that doesn't take away from my love for the old job. I can still love it & hope to one day go back there without diminishing the fact that this new job is good, too.

The lady I work most closely with all day has been the sweetest cross of a mom & a sister for me. She's incredibly patient and calm and funny. She has walked me through everything one step at a time, never being irritated if I have to ask her to repeat something. She makes me feel very at home and has made the transition from one job to the next so very easy for me. Thank you Marilyn! My principal was my 9th grade English teacher and while we have that history, she has treated me as only a professional, not as the kid she once taught (20 years ago). Thank you Ms. R! (Sorry, I don't think I'll ever be able to call you Pat...you were Ms. R long before I knew you as Pat.)

So anyway, I'm doing so much better and am having fun tackling numbers, entering data, filing things, keeping track of the kids' records and all the other little details I'm in charge of. A job like this was made for me & all my OCD dreams. God did good putting me here.

On a different note, last week was Savannah's first high school football game. Since she's in the band and will play at every game, we bought season tickets & plan to go to every game. While I'm not a big fan of football (read: I could really care less), I really do love the atmosphere & environment of a football game. It's so much fun to people watch & smell the concession foods & listen to the band & watch the cheerleaders and drill team. We were so proud to watch Savannah march in with the band & take her seat in the stands and then to hear them play & watch them march on the field. Wow! They rock! So cool!

Today we dealt with a little water in our master bathroom. When we added it on a few years ago, the exterior siding didn't get attached to the frame of the house down near the bottom of the wall. After several big rains & seeing our bathroom flood, we figured out the issue and got that fixed. Larry used roofing tar on the underside of that siding (officially called Hardy board) to seal the gaps to keep water out. We did that about 2 years ago & the bathroom has stayed nice & dry ever since during storms. That is, until today. About 5:30 this evening, I went in & stepped right into the middle of a sopping wet bathmat. Squish. yuck! When we got the inside cleaned up we went out to see what had happened out there & sure enough, over the course of the past couple years the tar had shriveled up & disintegrated. We pulled the dirt & leaves away from the walls to let it dry out & will go back & re-tar it this weekend. (We just have to cross our fingers that we don't get another major rain tomorrow so that we have to deal with this all over again!)

I think that about sums up the high points of our past week.

How have your first couple weeks of school been?