Hey All! I didn't want to leave you guys hanging, but this will probably be the only post I'll get up this week. It's going to be C-R-A-Z-Y!! But a total good type of crazy. I just got done having lunch with my college friends! I would say that we're all finally in town together, but honestly, the majority of us live in very close proximity to each other. We just never see each other! We're busy girls and figuring out a day and time for lunch was no exception! But, it was still great to see them all and see our group grow. Had we had husbands there, we would have taken up a whole half of the place! At one point, my friend Sarah said, "Well, we've definitely expanded!" That's the truth! How much fun it was to see all the kids together!
Tomorrow my mom is coming in to help me out by hanging with my kids the rest of this week and weekend. Starting tomorrow and going through next week, our church, The Church of the Nazarene
, is having our General Assembly. It happens every 4 years and it's basically a HUGE family reunion. It's happening downtown Indianapolis at the Convention Center. I'm going to be greeting/ushering for the evening services and helping out with one of the other meetings happening on Friday during the day. Basically it's a weeks worth of business meetings for the different ministries in the church. A delegation of church members from all over the world come and vote and make decisions on happenings in the church. Along with that, there is an exhibition hall with booths set up for different ministries in the church. There are services open to the public each night, and starting yesterday and running through next week there are teams of people all over Indianapolis helping with home repairs, clean up, and community services. Pretty cool. I'm excited to help out and see folks I haven't seen in a long time and meet new people as well! I want to get pictures so you can see how cool it is!
On top of that happening this week, I've got my mom's group tomorrow and a special trip to the main library downtown with my other mom's group! Shew! So, I don't want to give a half effort to my family to maintain the blog and I don't want to give my blog a half effort either. So, I'm taking this week off. But, I'll be back next week! I hope that you guys have an awesome week!
Last night I came across a show I'd never seen before. It was a reality TV show on Discovery. To spare the unnecessary conflict, I'll just say it was a show about families of a different faith. One that I do not practice or agree with. But, I watched the whole show. It was interesting. And there was 1 thing that struck me over and over again throughout the show....
They did not fit their faith into their lives. They fit their lives into their faith. They molded their lives around their faith instead of the other way around. Every decision they made throughout the day they turned back to their scripture and their beliefs. They prayed together as a family after breakfast and at the end of the day. Their conversations overflowed with direct discussion and references to what they believed.
It was just so striking for me. And convicting. I definitely don't share in their beliefs. At all. But that doesn't change the fact that what I was seeing on TV was a better example of what OUR lives should look like that what it really does.
There isn't anything really profound about this post. Just sharing my conviction with you. I feel like Aaron and I do a fairly good job of raising our girls in a "christian" home. We pray with them before meals, we read the bible before bed at night, and say bedtime prayers. We sing worship songs and talk to them about prayer concerns. But how much of that is still a convenience. Do they see our life structured around our faith or do they see our faith structured around our life.
We read our bibles when we've got time. If we miss a day, oh well. Should it be that we can't move forward or advance in our day if we haven't? Shouldn't there be aspects of our faith that we consider mandatory instead of optional? I don't want to generalize because I know that there are many Christians who do orient their life around their faith instead of the other way around. But I feel as if convenient faith is becoming a trend in the current day and age. God is there when we need him. And that's the extent of our relationship. We aren't willing to prioritize our life, make radical changes in the way we live, or anything else that challenges our lives.
Maybe I'm off base with this. But I don't think I am. I'm definitely feeling challenged. I'm feeling challenged to examine all areas of my life and do restructuring. I need to replace my life with my faith in a few areas!
If you have some thoughts you'd like to share about this, I'd love to hear them!
I'm so excited about this! It may not be a huge deal to you guys, but I think it's so cool!
Last week I was contacted by Zondervan Publishing about being part of a new grass roots effort they are launching. They contacted me and asked if I'd be willing to review new works from the ZonderKids Division.
A little bit on Zondervan- Zondervan is a subsidy of HarperCollins Christian Publishing Company and along with their sister publishing company, Thomas Nelson, they comprise some of the most well-known names and resources within the Christian faith-based segment. The ZonderKids Division is the children's group focusing on ages up to 15 yrs old. They publish and promote age-appropriate books, bibles, gifts, and videos throughout the world.
How they found out about my blog and decided I was a good enough candidate for this, I have no idea. But, regardless, I'm humbled to be considered. With that being said, I really struggled with whether or not this was a good move on my part. I always have and always will strive to do God's will in every letter of every post on this blog. I don't want it to turn into a billboard and a giveaway-a-day blog. That's not who I am and that is not part of the purpose I feel God has given me for this blog. I don't want to just jump at something that sounds like a good opportunity because it just sounds like a good opportunity.
With further discussion with the people at Zondervan, and more praying, I've decided to go ahead and partner with ZonderKids!!! Before you get all annoyed at the potential daily plugs you might think you'll be seeing, let me explain to you how it will work.
Every month, starting in July or August, Zondervan will send me a list of material to be reviewed. I will choose what I want to read and review. Then I will write a blog post giving my honest opinion and thoughts of the material. Depending on what it is I'm reviewing and the quality of it, I may host a giveaway that month. This will be no more than once or twice a month, so don't worry about being subjected to seeing Zondervan and ZonderKids in every post.
My reasoning for partnering with Zondervan was this- I feel like there will be plenty of material that I will be able to review that will help further the purposes I want this blog to have- to introduce people to who God is, to help grow and increase one's faith, and to create community. If some or all of this material or reviews help accomplish that, then this has been beneficial in furthering those purposes. Also, I've never known Zondervan to publish anything less than quality. I've been familiar with them and their publishings my entire life. I would never choose to represent a company that I could not stand behind. I spent many an hour reading books published by Zondervan as a kid and teenager. I'm kind of excited to relive that a little!
So, starting here within the next month or so, be on the look out for my first review! I'm so excited to be able to share this with you all!
This weeks menu is fairly simple. I only had about $30 to work with to get some groceries. Thankfully, we have plenty of frozen meat. I'm able to draw from that to put together meals and then use grocery money for some staples. I planned through Thursday this week. We're still a little up in the air with finances, so when Friday comes, I'll assess where we're at and plan from there.
Monday- Turkey Burgers.
Wednesday- Chicken Parmesan. This never got fixed last week, so it automatically got bumped to this week.
Thursday- Chicken N Noodles.
So, pretty simple this week. Pretty easy meals that my family loves.
Verse of the Week
Over the past few weeks, my main prayer has been that I would gain knowledge and wisdom as I read and study my Bible. This desire is somewhat selfishly driven. (Maybe) There are so many people that I look up to that give good, sound, biblical advice and I want to know that I can do the same thing if someone seeks out my counsel. I hate feeling like my advice is fluff. I want to be confident that I know scripture and I know God and his character well enough that I can help people in the best way possible when they need it. I've learned over the last few months that sometimes just having good intention is not enough. I'm not saying that even If we're well intended, God won't use our willingness, but it doesn't hurt to know your stuff. And the best way to know it is to apply it in my own life.
So, with all that being said, the verse I chose for this week is Psalm 111:10-
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
How different would our lives be if we really believed this? Just a thought.
The last weeks have been really hard for us financially. Aaron's pay cut at work happened at the same time our rent went up and Aaron got sick and had to take a few days off work. That's been a hard adjustment to make and catching up even harder. On top of that, Aaron and I have felt like the Lord has led us to give above and beyond our normal giving and also to just spend money on a few things we normally wouldn't. I'm not saying this to toot our own horn, but just add a few details to the story...
In honor of keepin' it real, I've gotta tell ya- this is a HARD place to be. When Aaron and I decided that we wanted to move forward in our marriage and we wanted to address the issues we were having, $$$$ was in the top 3 of the list. Once we were able to be objective and look at our financial issues as a team instead of as adversaries, we were able to iron a lot of things out. We decided that we needed to be regular about tithing instead of just giving when it felt comfortable enough money wise (which usually worked out to be hardly ever). And we also decided that we wanted to be more open handed with our money. We know that we are blessed when we give. Not necessary financial blessings in return, but blessings none the less. We started seeking out opportunities to give. We just never realized God was going to take us seriously and create so many opportunities for it.
When Aaron got the job at the post office, we were thrilled because it was so much closer to home and it was WAY more money then what he had been making. We felt like God was finally answering the prayers we'd been praying for years! I'm not going to lie when I say that I had a few "not so happy with you" chats with God when we found out about the pay cut that would change that "WAY more" part to pretty much equal to before. But, this was familiar territory. We'd walked this road before.
I've come to feel that perhaps that's the point. We'd walked this road before. Rather unsuccessfully. It was something that Satan used to tear Aaron and I apart. It was something that broke down our faith. Is this perhaps God giving us a second chance to walk this road in faith? Trusting that God will provide for us? God hasn't told me that in plain English and he hasn't added a Bible verse that spells it out, but I get the feeling that, perhaps, that's part of it.
But, that doesn't change my struggle. Sometimes (read more times than not) I get scared, I get frustrated, I question why. I beg God for a money tree. I confess all my sins in hope that I'll be good enough for Him to answer my prayers. I cry. I feel like a bad mom because we can't do dance classes or gymnastics. I try and reason with God. Because waiting is the absolute hardest thing for me to do.
God promised me he'd never leave me or forsake me. He promised me that he has a plan. He knows every hair on my head (and knows how much falls out due to my stress). He knows my fear. He loves my kids more than I could. And, despite it all, he still loves me. Even when our bank account is seeing red instead of black. Even when I feel like a failure as a mother. Even when I'm angry because I feel like he's not coming through fast enough. Or doubt that he will at all. His timing is perfect. Even if I think he's late.
Thank You, Jesus for loving me in spite of all my shortfalls. Thank you for knowing every detail of our situation. Thank you for caring about me so much that none of my concern is lost to you. Help me to trust you. Give me peace. Still my soul. Remind me always that you are God and you are mighty to save. Even when it seems as if my head has gone under.
Maybe you're not dealing with a financial situation right now. Perhaps it's something else that you feel God hasn't dealt with fast enough, or hasn't dealt with at all. Hold fast. Be honest with God. Tell him your fears, your frustrations. But hold fast. There is a bigger picture being painted that we can't see!
So Emmy has started going this thing. I have no idea where it came from or how it started, but here's an example of the conversation we have almost every time we get in the van to go from point A to point B....
Me: What is it?
Emmy: We forgot my shoes!
Me: They are on your feet.
Emmy: Oh yeah.
(10 seconds later)
Emmy: We forgot my coat!
Me: Emmy, it's 85 degrees out, we don't need your coat. It's too warm.
Emmy: Oh yeah.
(10 seconds later)
Me: What Emmy?
Emmy: You forgot to buckle me in!
Me: No I didn't. You helped me do it remember?
Emmy: Oh yeah.
Ok, so you get the point. She will do this 3 or 4 times before I reassure her that we have everything we need, did everything we need to do, and we didn't leave anything behind. Today we were leaving the Dr's office to head to the park and we went through this routine again. I wanted to say... Emmy, why are you stalling? We're going to the park! How long do you want to sit in the parking lot and do this when we could be on our way there to swing and slide and play?
And suddenly I was struck... How often is God leading us somewhere and we're digging our heals in yelling "WAIT!"? How often is he leading us somewhere awesome and we're stuck checking and checking again to make sure we're secure or we haven't left something important behind.
I feel like sometimes I behave in such a childish way with God. I whine and complain about waiting and waiting and waiting on his timing, and then when he says "Ok, go!" I freeze and go through my checklists and to do lists. Proof that, in our humanness, we can't ever be truly satisfied. We want, we want, we want and when it's given, we're uncomfortable because it's out of our comfort zone or different. I have no idea how the 4 yr old mind works. And what I do know can be rather exhausting. But I'm starting to believe that our sinful human nature reasons much like a 4 yr old. Why does Emmy delay? I'm not so sure. Is she afraid of not having shoes? Surely not, as she can see them on her feet. Is she scared of not being secure? No, she knows she's buckled in. Is she just wanting my attention? Perhaps. But whatever her reason, I always want to say... Emmy, trust me. I wouldn't let us leave without being prepared to go and be where we're going.
God says that to us time and time again in the Bible. I could list verse after verse about trusting God. When God is leading, don't dig in your heals. Don't pull out your checklists and to do lists. Just trust him and go!
Ok, so let me just start out by saying that I skipped the spring mantle because I was less than impressed with myself. The picture I had in my head did not manifest itself well on to my mantle. By the time I got it up, it was half way through the spring season and every time I looked at it, I cringed.
We're skipping straight to the 4th of July mantle.
This mantle is the epitome of design on a dime. Actually $4. I don't have any extra decorating money right now, so I used a few of my blow dollars to add a tad bit. Most of it comes as courtesy of my mom. 9 items on this mantle were given to me by my mom at some point over the last 10 years. It's not my favorite mantle, but it's kinda growing on me. If I run across something else over the next month that really grabs me, I'll add it. But right now, this is it. I had almost all of it here at home. I purchased the flowers and the red candle at the dollar store.
I got this star basket at Goodwill in early winter. As soon as I saw it, I loved it. The only problem- it was a gaudy gold color. So, I spray painted it this cobalt blue. I used it on the spring mantle and knew I wanted to include it in this mantle, I just wasn't sure what to put in it. I remembered I had a few yards of these patriotic fabrics so I folded them up and put them in there. Kind of random, I know, but they're cool fabrics and they fill the basket well.
As soon as I saw this printable, I knew that I wanted to include it in the mantle. I changed up the frame a bit by displaying the picture horizontally instead of vertically. I loved the chevron pattern too. I was concerned at first about the muted tones, but I think it worked out nicely. I got the printable from The Diary of Dave's Wife
. The metal stars next to the frame are HEAVY! I have no idea what they are for, perhaps just wall decorations, but they were donated to my "just married" decorations from a garage sale my mom had years ago. I pull them out around the 4th every year.
So in my mind's eye and on my planning sketch, these were really pretty poppys. But, I keep real flowers alive for about .2 seconds. And when you're working on a dollar store budget, you take the best you can get. These don't look half bad, so I'm ok with them. The navy and white star fabric was also another mom donation. The small kettle was actually in my kitchen holding my knives until this last weekend.
So, all and all it came together pretty well. And quickly. I struggled with the last 2 mantles, but this one was pretty easy for me. Someday when I can work mantle decorations in our budget I'll be able to pull off more expensive looks, but I'd say this one is not too shabby for $4!
It's June!! When did that happen!? I can't believe it's summer time already! We're officially on summer break. I was able to plan most every meal out of our pantry. I went and picked up a few groceries on Saturday and I spent about $15 dollars on the things we needed for the rest of the week. Menu planning was fairly straight forward this week. Nothing exciting...
Monday- Chicken Nuggets. Good ole frozen white breast nuggets. Don't judge. My kids love them.
Tuesday- Breakfast. Eggs, sausage, hashbrowns, and toast. Seriously one of my favorite meals!
Wednesday- Chicken Pot Pie. This has been on the menu almost 3 weeks in a row and I'm just now getting around to actually fixing it. Maybe.
Thursday- Chicken Parmesan. One of my favorite meals. So good. I'll serve it with spaghetti and my girls will eat it up!
Friday- Pizza. I found a great pizza dough
recipe last week, so now it's become much easier to make it myself! This crust is really flavorful and cooks up well. And it's easy which is always a plus for me.
Not lots of extra money in the budget this week so I'm sure we'll be sticking to the menu as closely as possible.
Verse of the Week
So I posted this verse last week on the blog Facebook page, but it has struck such a chord with me this week that I decided that it should be the verse of the week as well.
Romans 12:12- Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Short and simple, yet very powerful. This verse has been a constant reminder to be joyful, patient, and faithful in this time of waiting for our family. I hope this verse can be a reminder and encouraging to you this week as well!
It's been a long time since I've blogged! It hasn't seemed like that long, but wow! We had a great week or so with my folks and a quick weekend getaway for me and the postman! We had a great time relaxing in Amish country in Northern Indiana!
It was so nice to have time away. We haven't taken a trip together alone since we've had kids (over 4 yrs). We've gone on trips with the youth groups we were working with, but that technically doesn't count. This was just us, with absolutely no agenda. And it was awesome. Hard to come home. So thankful for the work God has done in our marriage. A year ago, a trip like this would have been unheard of. Not because we couldn't, but because we wouldn't have wanted to! Now I'm ready to pack up and do it again this weekend!
And on another note, my big girl turned 4! It's honestly been the 4 fastest years of my life! And she finished her first year of preschool. Where does the time go!?
Emerson and her Dad at school for muffins!
So, last Friday marked the start of our summer vacation. This week was somewhat eaten up by the holiday and family still here. Our first free days was yesterday and we spent the day relaxing and, well, napping... Summer Break is hard! But with the beginning of summer comes a great opportunity to set some goals for the next few months! So, here are a few of the goals I've set for myself and our family for Summer break!
- Paint my bedroom furniture. I've been thinking about this for some time and I just need to pull the trigger on it. Our bedroom furniture is a hodge podge of wood colors and types, so I'm going all white. Nice and crisp and uniform. Adding the same hardware to everything will help too!
- Make better use of our family zoo passes. My parents got us zoo passes for the year as a part of the girls birthday gifts. Last year they did the same and we went about 5 times. I plan to go much more often this year.
- Organize and edit every room. I've been saying for a while that we don't have much to sell in a upcoming family garage sale, but I'm pretty sure if I was honest and adopted a little more of a simplistic view (especially in my kitchen) I'd be able to find plenty of stuff. So, over the next few weeks I'm planning on going through our entire house and getting rid of stuff I've held onto for way too long!
- Send out more greeting cards. Years ago when I was a teenager and in college, my friends and I sent each other lots of cards. I loved the feeling of getting something hand written in the mail. I don't do it enough now. I'm going to try and send out at least 2 cards a week this summer.
- Read 5 books. I LOVE to read. To the point that I have a hard time putting a book down and end up staying up most of the night to finish it type love. But, I have a harder time reading non fiction books. I know there are so many good ones out there (we own lots of them) so my plan is to read at least 3 non fiction books and 2 fiction books this summer.
- 2 TV free nights a week. This is more specifically for Aaron and I. It's easy for us to plop on the couch after a long day and tune out. But, now that it's warmer out, it would be so easy for us to plop down outside and spend time together actually conversing instead of staring at the tv.
- Memorize more scripture. I want to do 3 verses with my girls. One a month. And I want to memorize 12 new verses. I've slacked off over the last few weeks, so next week, I'm back at it!
So, that's my short list. I'm sure I'll come up with more. What are some of your goals for this summer?