Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday

They started playing Christmas music on the radio today!!!! So, despite the fact that I'm sitting here with the windows wide open, enjoying the fresh fall air, I feel a surge of Christmas spirit. Therefore, I decided to give my "Works For Me Wednesday" post a Christmas flair.

Cliff and I were married over Thanksgiving weekend in 1984. I left my family in Long Island, NY and moved to Jacksonville, FL because Cliff was stationed there in the Navy. That first Christmas tree we put up was pretty bare. One lady thought to give me some handmade ornaments at my bridal shower. With all the wedding stuff going on, I never gave my first married Christmas a thought. Cliff bought a few boxes of colored balls and a card of tinsel. Our tree had no history on it!! That has changed over the years and I now have ornaments on my tree that used to hang on my parent's tree when I was a kid.

A few years ago, I decided to give the kids Christmas ornaments as sort of the Thanksgiving, decorate the house and tree weekend. One day, when they each have homes and Christmas traditions and trees of their own, I want them to have memories and a piece of "home." I try to choose ornaments that have something to do with what has gone on in their lives during the past year. I typically do not buy Hallmark ornaments for them because I'm looking for unique and unusal ones and besides, Cliff and I enjoy hunting for just the right ones.

One year, our family took a major vacation to FL. I used those empty clear glass balls and filled them with sand from the beach and the little shells the kids collected. I made a tag in the shape of a Mickey Mouse head that said, "Vacation Memories, 2005." One year Josh went to Germany so we got him a German blown glass ornament in the shape of a hot dog. Amy was a nun in the "Sound of Music" at school so she got an Austrian blown glass ornament in the shape of a church. (You get the idea)

I thought maybe the kids would think this tradition kind of silly but they have grown quite fond of it. They now prefer to get the ornaments a little closer to Christmas.

Josh and Amy get 2 per year because they're older and their days of this being their home at Christmas are numbered, but I think I will continue this tradition even once they're gone and married.

I already have 2 ornaments for this year. I begin the hunt as soon as I spot the ornaments on the store shelves.

I love my Christmas ornaments. One day I hope to make a scrapbook of them and the history behind each one. I think through Nov. & Dec. I will showcase some of them in my Friday show & tells.

For now, here's some of the ones we've given the kids.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

An Interesting Shopping Trip

In reading Money Saving Mom, I have been inspired to begin shopping at CVS and Walgreens. Each week she points out all of the ways to save alot of money there. Last week I began at CVS. I got myself extremely confused (which is not hard to do) but still bought $42 worth of stuff and paid $25. Today I was ready to go back and attempt adding Walgreen deals. I wanted Cliff to come along because I wanted someone to help keep me from confusing myself. We started at CVS and did pretty good today. I had over $28 in coupons and deals!!! Our next stop was Walgreens.
When we got to the store, I told Cliff, "Let's divide and conquer" since time was beginning to be an issue. He went one way and I went the other. We met in middle and made our way to the cashier. There was one man at the register when I got there. Now, as I was placing my items on the counter, this man was buying 4 cartons of cigarettes. I noticed that he was rather jumpy and thought at the time that he must be on something. The cashier gave him the total ($150.00) and as she did, he tried to grab the cigarettes and run out the door. Unknown to this man, Cliff was standing right there and tackled him. They fell all over the security things by the door and Cliff held him there until other guys from the store came up and secured him. I, at the time, was screaming from a place inside myself I knew not existed. I was screaming for Cliff to let him go because you never knew these days who has a gun or knife. God's protection was definately on us and especially on Cliff. Later I explained to him that the store can recoup the $150 but our family could never recoup the loss of our husband/father.
I am proud of him, however. I mean, how do you know when to act or when to be safe???? Is there a line? Cliff acted purely on instinct. He didn't even give it a second thought.
I shook so hard. Then I cried and later we laughed how that guy never saw what hit him and how that when I said to divide and conquer that was not the kind of conquer I had in mind!!!
My bargain at Walgreens was a little better than I originally thought. My total was over $20 and after coupons it was $9.00 which the store gave us. I told Cliff I would rather have paid the $9.00 than go through that.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Chili Suppers

My mom loves to celebrate things.
Several years ago she started a tradition of a "Chili Supper" to celebrate the coming of Autumn.
When we first started this chili meal, our entire family was together in Florida. The house was full, there were little kids running around, and there was lots of noise and carrying on. Fast-forward about 8 years and the family is all spread out. My brother, Jon, is still in Florida and my sister, Elizabeth, is in Georgia. For the last 8 years it has been my parents, Cliff, I , and our kids. Now, fast-forward another 2 years and Josh is away at school, Amy spends Sunday evenings with her boyfriend, and last year Jacob was at a youth activity. It was just me, Cliff, Emily and my parents. It was the quietest family celebration ever had in my mother's home!!!!!!!!!
This past week mom decided it was time for the annual chili supper. It was held last night at my mom's house. It wasn't as quiet as last year because Jacob, being the ever active soul that he is, is NEVER quiet!!!! The chili was delicious as always.
We capped off the evening with a rousing game of Mexican Train. Grandpa played and that makes the evening even more special because my mom is the big game player and my dad...well, dad is dad. :-)
It was a really nice evening and a good way to end a really busy, very full weekend.
Tonight I'm so tired. I feel a nice headache setting in signaling me that it's definately time for bed.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Memory Album

My parents went through a time when the only kind of pictures they took were slides. Needless to say, much of my childhood pictures are stored away in their basement in the hundreds of boxes of slides stored down there.
A couple years ago, my parents were gone for a week or so, so I spent several days in the basement with the slide projector. I picked out several hundred to make prints of. I actually sat there with a pencil and labeled where each slide came from so I could put them back!!
This picture is of myself, my brother, Jon and my sister, Elizabeth on Easter, 1970. It is one of my favorites! We are in front of a VFW hall in downtown Albany, NY where my dad had recently started a new church. I am in the pink dress and I LOVE Elizabeth's little blue suit!!
Can you believe this picture came from a 37 year-old slide? Aren't the colors fantastic? It looks like the picture was taken yesterday.
We lived in Albany until I was 9 and my dad left that church to start another one in Long Island, NY.
I will write more of my NY memories in future posts. I loved growing up in NY. Albany was a wonderful place to be a kid. We lived in a little country town called West Sand Lake. I remember going to the little grocery store by myself when I was 5. And a few doors down from us was a little candy store. I remember saving my money (not sure where it came from) to buy a panda bear shaped pajama bag there and a little doll that came with alot of accessories....including a bath tub with shower.
There's nothing like up-state NY in the fall. I don't have many specific memories of the weather other than that by Thanksgiving there would be alot of snow.
I have many more Albany memories I will share in future posts lest this one become a book!!!!! :-)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Cool Temperatures

In the past week, the temperature has dropped. It is absolutely beautiful fall weather!! I have had my windows open every day trying to get as much of the fresh fall air into my house as I can. The mornings have been downright chilly. In fact, I had to scrape frost off the car windows twice! I LOVE it!!

Fall is probably my most favorite time of year. I love the smell of fallen leaves. I love the Autumn glow that everything seems to have. I love to see the golden fields waiting to be harvested.

Our costume party was so nice last night. I spent a total of $7.00 on Emily's costume. I had told her she would have to get pretty creative. She did a great job and won the prize for the best costume! I was so happy for her. Cliff was able to come with us for a change. It was so nice to go to this as a family. He's usually working and the kids and I go alone but due to some scheduling changes, he now has Fridays off. I'm so happy about this. His schedule has been very tough to get used to.

As usual, I'm finishing up stuff for tomorrow. We have our annual Missions Fair. It's going to be an exciting day!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Financial Peace

I've been reading alot of good posts lately about Dave Ramsey. I thought I'd go ahead and put my 2-cents in.

Last March, our church offered Dave's 13-week course called "Financial Peace University. Cliff could not go because he works in the evenings so I went by myself. First of all, I had to get past the fact that I had to cough up $99 for the kit and classes. We have been living paycheck to paycheck for so long that anytime any extra expense came along it was a big deal. Where is the money going to come from?? The second issue was giving up 13 Thursday nights to do this course. I wasn't sure how this was all going to work. In the ads, Ramsey talked about how people begin saving and paying off debt during the course. "Not us," I thought. I wondered what would even be the use of going but I also didn't want to continue on (financially speaking) the way we were going. I also DID NOT want to have to live on a strict budget. I HATED them (and my financial picture showed it!!)

So, with all that being said, I started the course and the first night changed my thinking and changed my life!!! I clicked and made so much sense. If anyone was going to change our financial picture and future, it was up to me. Right away, that first week, we started making changes. I got extremely organized with our fiances & record keeping. This had to take priority.

One of the things Dave said was that this was going to be a process. Now I'm the kind of person who likes instant gratification. I get impatient. As he said, you'll take one step forward and several steps back but overall, you'll see progress moving forward. It's been so true! We've had several setbacks. The most recent one being just 3 weeks ago. I get discouraged. But you know what? I don't want to go back!!!! The girl who wondered where in the world she would find any extra money has paid off over $3000 worth of debt since March!!!!!! We've taken extra jobs, cut back on the grocery bill, cut out alot of eating out and wasteful spending. Every dollar has to be justified.

I was reading the Meredith's goals over at Like Merchant Ships. That inspires me. I figure sometime this year, we'll be able to set some more concrete goals like that.

No matter what your financial picture, I'd encourage anyone to take Dave's course. It's that life-changing. He's on the radio every day and I try to listen often because it keeps me energized, inspired, and intentional.

Best wishes to all of you who are working at Financial Peace!!!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Busy Weekend Ahead

We've got a jam-packed, busy weekend this week. It all starts tomorrow night. It's our annual costume party & hayride at church. It's a fun night of fellowship. The kids absolutely love it. This year I am so unprepared and haven't even given a thought to a costume for Emily. This is uncharacteristic for me. Poor kid. I guess that's what I'll be doing tomorrow morning. Putting together some kind of outfit for her.
Sunday begins our Missions Emphasis month at church. It's kicked off this year with our Missions Fair. We set up displays for each mission opportunity. I head up shoebox collection for Operation Christmas Child. It has become a tradition for us to kick off our holiday season by filling a couple shoeboxes for kids across the globe. For most, this little shoebox filled with treats is all the Christmas they have.
I look forward to our services on Sunday. We have a great church community and I am so blessed to be part of Liberty.
Sunday afternoon, I look forward to the NASCAR race. (I know, I know) I don't know what to say. I enjoy this sport so much!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday

Rocks in My Dryer is hosting another Works For Me Wednesday. Here's mine:

This past Spring, I took a course called, "Financial Peace University" by Dave Ramsey. Financially, it was one of the best investments we've ever made in our married life. Part of this course is learning about budgeting. I went into this knowing I did NOT want to have to live on a budget. But after the class, I appreciate the budget so much!! I has saved me so much that was once wasted funds. Anyway, we needed to be much better organized with all of our financial papers. I'd had this expanding file for several years. Originally, I'd divided it by bills and once they were paid, I put the paid bill in its section. This did not work. Our current bills seemed to be spread all over the house. Once we started the monthly budget, I took this file and divided it by month. Each month when the bills come in, I put them in the month they are due. I also put a copy of the budget forms from our Financial Peace class as well as a calander page from a free calender I took apart. During the month, I put all paid bills, bank statements, receipts, that month's budget and anything else that may financially pertain to that month in its file. I can't tell you how well this has worked! I've had to go back on several occasions and find information for certain things. Finding them is so easy. I just go to the month and retreive the information.
This file also has a small pull-out section where I keep all tax-related receipts so I can easily find them at tax-time.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Defensive Parenting

Josh & Amy with my mom 1989

I will very rarely give advice on marrige or parenting. Don't worry. I'm not going to give advice now either. I do, however, like to encourage younger parents from time to time when I see them doing a great job with their kids.

I think one of the questions I've been most asked is how I got such good teenagers. I have to say that Cliff & I have not taken our kids for granted. We feel extremely blessed...especially while they were teenagers (I'm talking more about Josh & Amy here). I've listenend, consoled, and cried with moms whose teenage children have absolutely given them nightmares. I have felt so blessed that we haven't faced these kinds of situations. I am also very aware that I have two more teenagers to raise.

I'm thinking right now of a family in our church who have 5 children ages 10 - 5. They have those kids in church every service. They keep them in line. They love them. They have fun with them. They take the time to teach their children discipline. The children work and give and serve others. I encourage them to keep it up. One day they'll have 5 teenagers in the house and the key is to do exactly what they're doing...Proverbs 22:6 - "Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it." If you want to have control of your children when they are older, you have to teach them while they are younger.
By the time Josh was in middle school, he was taller and faster than me. I couldn't catch him even if I wanted to. It seems that as they grow older, the leverage you have(punishments) gets less. My hope was that by the time they were in the upper grades of high school & had cars & jobs, that they would have enough respect for their parents that they would (without hassle) abide by the rules of the house. This was really put to the test when Josh dated a girl who didn't like our rules. (The girl didn't last long) There are certain expectations that I have for my kids and as long as they live in the house, I expect them to follow the rules of the house. We have had a couple of problems here & there. We've had some difficult conversations. But all in all, I must say that the kids know where the line is and they haven't pushed it. I'm thankful for this because I'm not exactly sure what we would have done if they had.
My purpose in this post is to encourage anyone who reads this with young children to stay at it!! It's hard sometimes...especially when you have one who pushes the boundaries. Mine is now 14...and again, I find myself with a teenage son who is taller and faster than me. Stay with it!!!!!!! Correct, discipline, love, teach, pray. Be consistent. It's defensive parenting. You'll appreciate it when they're older.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pastor Appreciation

Today we celebrated Pastor Appreciation. My dad has been the pastor of our church for 10 years. He accepted the pastorate when my grandpa, who was 80 at the time, decided it was time for him to step down. It's been an amazing ride to be part of this ministry. Cliff & I never intended to come with them to KC but God shut all other doors. I am so thankful to be here and to have the opportunity to work with my dad. I love the church and I love the work that I do here.

A Prayer For Our Pastor:

Almighty God, lest the man we call "pastor" stumble beneath the weight of our unrealistic expectations, would You ease the burden he daily shoulders on behalf of our entire congregation?

That he might lead us with confidence, won't You gift him with wisdom that only comes from You?

That he might serve us with humility won't You lift him on the wings of prayer into Your very presence?

That he might remain a man of integrity won't You sift his motives so that what is pure would rise above what isn't?

That he might pursue Your plan instead of his hunches, make him willing to shift his direction when a change in course is necessary.

As he closes his eyes in prayer each day, please open his heart to what You'd say and fill him with the strength he needs to follow where You lead. Amen.

by Rev. Greg Asimakoupoulos

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Small Group

Once a month, Cliff & I attend a small group. It is us and 2 other couples. It had been several years since I was part of a small group. This was not by my choice but there just wasn't a group in the church at the time that we felt we were supposed to be a part of. Over time, we became good friends with these 2 other couples and we all decided to go ahead and start a new group.
I LOVE these Saturday nights. I can't wait to go to our group! We share dinner together and then discuss and share God's Word. Currently, we are doing a study that uses clips from the movie, "Facing the Giants." I feel like through this group, I have found some new friends. One of the couples are our age and the other couple is about 10 years younger. We're all at different places in our couples, as parents but it's through those differences and the sharing of the Word that we learn so much from each other. We are free to be ourselves. We are free to share or not share. I feel so fortunate to be part of this group and to have these people in my life.

Tomorrow at church, we will be celebrating my dad's 10th year as Pastor. (Did I mention that my dad is also the pastor of our church?) Anyway, we will be celebrating our pastor tomorrow. We have several surprises planned and I don't think he knows anything about it. It's all supposed to be a surprise. It's going to be a good day!!!!!!

Have a blessed Lord's Day.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Show & Tell Friday

I've seen this done on other blogs and I like the idea of "Show & Tell" I never did get to do that when I was in school.
So anyways, my show & tell for today is my cat, Pebbles. About 7 years ago, we lived in a house on 13 acres. One day I heard meowing and looked out and saw this mostly gray kitten in the yard. Ignoring Cliff's oppositions at the time, I fed her. She was so hungry!! I didn't know if I'd see her again. But the next day, there was that meowing again and I ran out and fed her. At the time, I am ashamed to admit, I called her "Ugly"....(I didn't know her, OK?) She got pregnant and I let her in the house for little bits of time. Once I got to know her better, I decided to name her "Pebbles" because all the colors in her fur reminded me of the kinds of pebbles you'd find at a creek or river. Eventually, she learned her name and I could go out on the back deck and call, "Pebbles" and she'd come tearing across the fields. She is a great hunter and for the 2 years we lived in that house, I never saw a mouse!
Eventually, that property got sold. There was no way I was going to leave her there so Pebbles made the move with us to our current house. I let her outside because that's what she preferred (I did have her spayed). But a couple years ago, she went missing for 4 months!!! I thought she was gone and I missed her. But one day I heard that familiar meowing from across the street and home she came. I have no idea where she was. She was so thin!! She ate & rested for about a month and decided she wanted back outside. She disappeared for a month. That's when I decided for Pebble's own good, she need to become a house cat. She's made the transition very well. She now mainly lives in my room. She's great company. She's satisfied to just lie on the corner of my bed. She loves to play. She'll chase anything that moves. So that's the story of how Pebbles joined our family!!!!! And that concludes this installment of "Show & Tell."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Memory Album

My parents are in Ohio today. I guess that's got me thinking about Ohio memories. This picture is of me, my brother, Jonathan, and my sister, Elizabeth. It was taken somewhere between 1974 & 1976. The lady is my great-grandmother. We called her Grandma Stuckenburg. She is my grandmother's mother. I remember going to her apartment. My uncle, Matthew, who is 9 months older than me would always take some sort of toys with him. Once he took some View Masters (back then, they came only in black). Now, I had View Masters too, and had maybe 4 or 5 of those picture reels....but I remember that Matthew had about 50!!!!!!! I had NEVER seen so many View Master reels....not even in the store! Can you tell I'm still blown away by all those reels??
Anyways, one time when we were visiting Grandma Stuckenburg, she took all of us to lunch at Ponderosa. After eating, my mother, wanting us to be good, thankful little girls, sent us to thank Grandma Stuckenburg for lunch. Now, you have to understand that for some reason, Elizabeth and I were extremely shy. So to have to go over, get Grandma Stuckenburg's attention, and then actually speak to her was almost more than we could handle. We DID NOT want to do it!!!! We made our way over. Then, because she was talking, we had to wait. In these circumstances, you don't want to speak too early because if she didn't hear us, we'd have to do it all over again. So we waited and when we had her attention, we both politely said, "Thank you, Grandma Stuckenburg." Evidentally, this made an impression on her because later, I overheard her telling someone how we had thanked her.
The last time I saw Grandma Stuckenburg was in 1998. My daughter Amy was about 6 months old. By this time, Grandma was in a nursing home and wasn't aware of who we were. I have a picture of the 5 generations that were there that day.
These are good memories!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday

I have decided to participate in my very first "Works For Me Wednesday" hosted by Rocks in my Dryer.

Generally, I buy what is cheapest but there are certain occasions when I am brand loyal simply because these products work and work well for me.

For dishwashing, I use the following products: Dawn - specifically with bleach. We do not own a dishwasher, so I like the way that Dawn attacks grease and makes my dishes feel squeaky clean. I also like the idea of a little shot of bleach to kill germs.

I use SOS scrubber sponges to wash my dishes. They are made well. They scrub away, do not fall apart and do not scratch. I also like the way they fit in my hand.

For laundry, I choose Tide. It really does get my whites whiter and my brights brighter! My clothes get so clean. I also like the way it smells.

I have recently switched to Downy fabric softner - liquid. I like the way it treats my clothes. They feel better & look in much better condition. I didn't use Downy for years because I thought the smell was too strong. I found that if I use Mountain fresh the scent is lighter.

In the bathroom I use ScotchBrite toilet scrubbers. I LOVE the idea of being able to throw away the toilet brush. I've always hated them. They are ugly, ugly, ugly, nasty, germ-filled, bacteria-breeding things!! I chose ScotchBrite primarily because of their price. I keep using them because I like their design and the thorough job they do on cleaning the bowl.

For general cleaning, I use Swiffer Dusters for dusting. I have used these for several years. They work so much better than a feather duster. They can get in/under tight spaces, and if you get the extending handle, they can clean walls, ceiling fans, and corners where dust & cobwebs like to hide.

I had seen these Swiffer Vacs advertised but was very skeptical of how they'd work...until I saw Kim & Aggie use one on "How Clean Is Your House?" I went right out and made the $28 investment. I've had mine for well over a year. I LOVE it. Nothing...not even the broom can get up hair, dust & crumbs like this thing does. With hardwood floors, this was one of the best investments I ever made.

Here's another item I was skeptical of. The Febreeze ScentStories machine. Now, I like Febreeze but wasn't sure if this machine was worth what it costs. Amy, however, found one on clearance and brought it home. It works SO WELL!!!! The only bummer is that our local grocery store & Walmart have stopped carrying the cartridges. I have found them online and recently discovered that Yankee Candle makes refills and they are very reasonable. I can't wait to order some.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A New Relationship

I got a call from my son, Josh on Sunday afternoon. It made my day! This has been such a year of learning for to let go of my adult children.
There are books & books out there on how to parent young children but no one told me what I was supposed to do once they turned 18, graduated, got jobs & supported themselves, started college, got boyfriends/girlfriends, left home, etc. How am I supposed to be a parent to them? What are my boundaries? How do I fit into their lives?? Boy it's been hard, Hard, HARD!! I finally had to tell each one of them to just be patient with me. I have no idea what I'm doing here because I've never been here before!

During Josh's senior year of high school, I did feel my role switch from mother to coach/advisor. I didn't need to tell him what to do anymore. Somehow he grew from my little little buddy into a man who didn't need his mom anymore but....I still NEED him!! Josh brings comfort to me. I don't know how it works I just know that when he's around and especially when he's singing, I feel comforted.
The day he pulled out of the driveway and left for Bethel college, I tried so hard not to cry. These were my needs and I, in no way, wanted him to feel anything less than excitement at the new adventure and phase of life awaiting him. Well, I failed big-time. I cried the second he put the first box in the car. I hid in the house and cried. I didn't want him to see me. I tried so hard to stop. I couldn't. I was, however, able to tell him it was time...time for him to go so that we could all move forward. I cried off and on for 3 more days before the tears finally stopped. During those days, I was reminded of the day we dedicated Joshua to the Lord when he was just a baby. Cliff & I promised the Lord we would bring him up in a Godly home. That day I also gave my precious boy back to the Lord because I knew that my human arms could never protect him the ways God's "everlasting arms" could. I also knew that as much as I love him, God loves him so much more.
This past year, I have had to invent a new relationship with my son. He is not in my daily life anymore. I've had to do alot of letting go. Part of that letting go involved not calling him so much and letting him call me.
Joshua sang a song at his voice recital this year. A line from that song says, "I gave you wings, I let you fly." That is where I am with my son. Letting him fly. It's still hard. I still cry a little. But we're both better for it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunday Praise

We fall down, we lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus.
The greatness of His mercy and love at the feet of Jesus.
And we cry holy, holy, holy
And we cry holy, holy, holy
And we cry holy, holy, holy is the Lamb.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A New, Old Picture

This picture was just recently sent to me from my dad's cousin's wife, Barbara. She sends me pictures from time to time that she thinks I might like to include in my scrapbooks. This picture is of me and my parents. I LOVE it!!!!! I don't have many pictures of me as a baby with them and the ones I do have are black & white. I love how young my parents are. I love what a cute baby I was :-) This picture would be about 41 years old. And I'm just now seeing it?? Makes me wonder what other pictures might be out there. Hmmmmm......

Game Night

Cliff has been off the past two weeks. The kids do not have school tomorrow. To have us all home with a free evening without the worry of bedtime is a treat. Because of the recent budget tightening, going out to dinner (as we once would have) was not an option. I challenged the kids that if they could help do some work around the house this afternoon, we would play a game tonight.
Settlers of Catan has become a favorite of ours. Josh taught us how to play this summer. It cost more than I would normally ever pay for a game but it turned out to be a great investment. We have played and played and played this game!! We ended up having a nice evening. It was a good change of pace and alot of fun.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Concert and Tears

Tonight was my son Jacob's first High School choir concert. I couldn't believe that I actually started to tear up!!!! (I would show a picture here but I do not want to post pictures of other kids without their knowledge or consent.) Anyways, back to the concert. Part of the emotions came from the beautiful rendition of "Over The Rainbow" that they sang. The harmonies were well excuted and absolutely moving!! The other part of the emotion came from the passing of time. I remember how excited I was for Joshua to be a part of the high school choir. Time passed so quickly and it seemed like in the blink of an eye, he was grown up and gone off to college. Jacob is one of my little kids. It's all I can do to think of him as a young man. He's grown way to fast and looking at him on that stage, in his choir outfit, looking so handsome and manly just really got to me. So yeah, I sat there and teared up. Time is flying! I need it to slow down...just a little.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

One Step Forward...

I'm somewhat discouraged today. We are facing a challenge. In my "list of projects" you'll notice "Financial Peace" on the list.
Facing debt is like facing any other challenge. You seem to gain ground and then you lose some. You gain then lose. I have a tendancy to want to do things NOW. I don't want to go through the process. I forget that I didn't get into debt over night and I won't get out of debt overnight.
I went to Financial Peace University last March. Since that time I have learned so much about managing and budgeting money. I have changed some of my behaviors and some I have not. We do not, by any means live an extravagant life style. We have no car payments, and no credit cards. We have just simply fallen behind...on everything!!
I'm still up in the air about tithing. I struggle with it...always have. I believe we are supposed to do it because God said so and because its something He uses to teach us to be givers. My struggle comes from the benefits of tithing. I don't always see it. So then the argument goes on in my head. Am I giving for the wrong reasons? Am I missing something? Is it supposed to be this complicated?? It's a struggle!!
We had a big setback yesterday. Have to come up with a good amount of money within three weeks. I don't know if we can do it. The ramifications are overwhelming. This is where the discouragement has set in. We have moved forward so many steps financially and this is so many steps back.
This also means a SERIOUS lifestyle change. Christmas is going to be pretty small. The budget has been slashed and there is no extra money for anything. I know we can do this. We have to. I know we will be better off in the long run. I know that this is only 1 season of our lives. I know this. And maybe tomorrow, after a good night's sleep, I will know this is my heart.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Christian Sisterhood

Anyone who knows me really well, knows that "overnighters" are really not my cup of tea. Why? I don't know. I just much prefer to be in my own bed and in my regular routine than at an all-night pajama party. So, when this year rolled around, I knew that come October, there would be a women's retreat. I had planned all this year not to go. I felt bad about it though. My mom is one of the ones who planned it and I usually try to go to almost everything she works on for moral support. But then one of my closest friends who doesn't do overnighters either decided to go. Well, they talked me into least they thought!! I know my kids are 14 and 12 but because Cliff works 2nd shift, I was not willing to leave them alone all night. So that settled least I thought. God really convicted me about the whole thing and impressed upon my heart that I needed to go. But what to do about the kids? There's a saying that says when God calls he also provides...It just so happened that Cliff was off of work this entire week. I could go!!

So, off went the ladies of Liberty Baptist (20 total) to Jamesport, MO. A beautiful Amish area of the country. We stayed in this cute little 12 room inn called "Marigolds." Each room is decorated differently with a theme. One is a lodge, one is Americana, one is the garden room, etc. I'm not sure what the theme of my room was but it was so relaxing and peaceful.

Three women shared their testimonies and I realized again how good God is. Two of the women grew up in Christian homes and at 19 wandered away from God into drugs & alchohol. But God's faithfulness drew them back and today they are leaders in our church. How wonderful it would be for our youth to hear their stories about the emptiness that comes from living for "self."

We are learning about that very thing in our Bible Study. Daniel, by Beth Moore has opened my eyes to affect the "Babylonian" culture has on us and how I, for one, have let it creep up on me and my household.

So, I am thankful that God led me to go on this retreat. I would have missed out on so many blessings. I'm extremely thankful today for my sisters in Christ.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Too Cute!!!

I came across this tonight. Maybe some of you have already seen it. I thought it was so cute!!

Sunday Praise

Beautiful Lord, wonderful Savior
I know for sure all of my days are held in Your hand
crafted into Your perfect plan.
You gently call me into Your presence
guiding me by Your holy spirit
teach me, dear Lord, to live all of my life
through Your eyes.
I'm captured by Your holy calling
set me apart, I know You're drawing me to Yourself
Lead me, Lord, I pray.
Take me, Mold me, Use me, fill me,
I give my life to the Potter's hands.
Call me, Guide me, Lead me, walk beside me,
I give my life to the Potter's hands.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

My Nest is Getting Empty!!

Amy just pulled out of the driveway to visit Bethel College and also to visit Joshua. (He's in his 2nd year at Bethel) Her plan is to go to Bethel for her final 2 years of college, starting next year. Currently she's living at home, attending the local community college. I hardly see her as it is...between school and work there doesn't leave much time. And what time is left, she divides between church, the boyfriend, and well, let's face it, Cliff and I rank after the Boy!!!!!!! Actually, he's a great guy. He's very kind, he loves the Lord, and is totally in love with my daughter. He's very good to her. I know in my heart that if the Lord wills, she will be planning a wedding her final year of school. So we are basically looking at 3 years until she's married. Oh my, I'm ready to shed a few tears here!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Amy has always been such a happy, happy girl. She's got a great attitude on life and loves to have fun. She's a good girl. She loves the Lord and is very active in our church. I love to be around her. She's good for me because she's so low maintenance and I'm, well, ahem....ok, I'm a little higher maintenance. I miss her now. I'll miss her when she heads out on her own. I'll really miss her not being MY Amy anymore but JT's Amy. I know, I know, it's 3 years away, but how quickly the last 19 have gone!!!! It's like I turned around and she went from this cute, dark-haired baby to this lovely young lady checking out bridal gowns.
Tomorrow I head out for an overnight adventure of my own. I'm going with some ladies to Jamesport, MO. It's an Amish area and we rent out an entire B&B. I'm not usually keen on overnighters as I prefer to be at home in my own bed. But some really good friends of mine are going and I think I've gotten to be too much of a loner. So, I'm going and I'm sure I'm going to have a great time!!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Roast Beef & Dominoes

Last night, my dad was out of town, Cliff was working at the church, and Amy was at work. Mom called and invited me and the two kids over for dinner. She had a great roast beef dinner with real mashed potatoes. It was like the Sunday dinners we used to have!!
My mom LOVES games!! She has collected about 100 over the years and all the grandkids love to play games with her because she is so fun. So we always play a game when we're there. Last night it was Mexican Train. We had so much fun and we always end up laughing until our sides hurt.
I count myself very fortunate that we live less than 1 mile from my parents. God has truly blessed my children with a gift they aren't aware of sometimes. I only got to see my grandparents about twice a year because we lived so far from eachother. My parents have been such a help and blessing to me and my family and I'm continually thankful we can share evenings like we did last night.

Monday, October 1, 2007


Friday we took Jacob & Emily & went to the NASCAR track in Kansas City to see the cars practice & qualify. What a fun day that was!! I have turned into such a fan. I LOVE to watch the races & to see some of it in person was such a treat. The weather was absolutely perfect! We try to do something special like this a couple times a year. Last year I won tickets to an airshow. We also went snow tubing at a local ski park. We try to do things that are inexpensive but create incredible memories. Emily has not stopped talking about our day. I took alot of pictures. The only draw back was I didn't think about sunscreen. I got burnt, burnt, BURNT!!!! I have blistered and am still red!! Oh well, I'll remember next year.