Monday, January 31, 2011

A Return to Me.......

This past Saturday, I (with Rod's help) started to truly attack the basement.  I had begun working on it on Friday and after my parents left with our kiddos on Saturday I asked Rod to help me work on our basement.

Now first, before I go further, you must understand some things.  2/3 of our basement is finished and (for now) is a play place for J&M - it will be turned into the family room and eventually Rod will purchase his big screen TV. The other 1/3 is well storage and laundry.  Everything seems to get buried in there.  We have boxes that we've only gone thru one time since we moved here 8 and 1/2 years ago - ya know - childhood stuff that we weeded thru even then - the last time that they were gone thru and ROD still had 3 BOXES of stuff to weed thru (ended up with 1/2 of a box!  Go Rod - I am proud of you!)  Yes he finally got rid of the paint for models that he hasn't touched in oh, about 20 years. He asked me how long paint lasts.  I told him "Not that long."  He said "So not 20 years?" "NO!"  He very excitedly handed over his old Hot Wheels and Jared was so excited about Rod's Dukes of Hazard Set and the Dukes of Hazard poster (looks like it was from Scholastic).

My issue is paper and junk that I never seem to know what to do with.  It ends up in piles and if I don't get to it fast enough then it goes in tubs and "disappears" into a space that is hidden from visitors site - usually our bedroom.

I started going thru stuff and pitching like CRAZY!

This was just the start.  The pile for garage sale/goodwill is ENORMOUS!

Oh, Look what I found!  It is the top of this desk that we use for storage!
Do you see that water jug underneath the desk?  Yes, this desk was so completely buried (on top, the sides, surrounded) that we had no clue that water bottle was even there!

Yes, our storage was, and still is that out of control - which is why I am tackling it.  Please remember that oh, 16 months ago we had our own mini (ok, much bigger than mini but our house wasn't demolished) Extreme Home Makeover to get Maggie home after stem cell transplant.  EVERYTHING in our home was moved around so that EVERYTHING could be painted and carpeted etc.  I had gone thru a lot of it a year ago but only so that we could have a walkway to get to our laundry area a little easier and to get the kids stuff back into their rooms etc.

As I started weeding thru things and Rod started reminiscing about each item in his boxes (love you honey!) I uncovered a couple of tubs that had been buried.  I set them aside as they had my "paper stuff that I never know what to do with" junk in it.

Oh, for those that were curious here is where the score board is right now -

In front of the scoreboard are some small particle board book shelves that probably should be trashed and a lot of the stuff that is up close is the giveaway pile (yes, I even have Rod giving up his "collection" of hats - love IWU but that hat is DATED!).  You can see the silver trim of the 1950s kitchen table that will be moved over to the finished side - once we can get to it.  :)

So after working down there for about 3 hours weeding thru stuff, pitching out things, trashing and overhauling we stopped for supper. Gotta love those Bertoli meals for such a time as this.


After supper I pulled out that tub of my paper stuff that I don't know what to do with.  And started going thru it.  Quite honestly, it was time capsule.  It was my life 2 years ago - right before Maggie's diagnosis.  There were brochures etc from the anniversary trip that Rod and I had just gotten back from and I didn't know what to do with (surprise).  There was a bag of jewelry that I had totally forgotten about that I must have taken either on our trip or to the hospital the first time or both.  There were my First Place books (I had looked for those!) and some others that I had taken on our trip to read on the plane etc.  It felt so odd to be looking at all of that.  Almost like I was stepping back in time and picking up right where I had left off.  I had this surreal feeling the rest of the evening and I couldn't really put my hands on it.

Sunday morning (before church) was a morning of reflection for me.  Rod was already at church and the kids were still with the grandparents.  I guess it was 'good' timing and a God thing.  I guess the best way to say it is that I am finding myself again.  For 2 years, my life stopped - you know things that a woman does for herself that is just for her.  Some women scrapbook, some work outside the home, some women decorate, some women.....  I had given up a huge part of me.  I had loved teaching - I was good at it - but I had to give it up to take care of my family during a crisis.  There were other things that I did that I didn't do anymore ...All my energy went there to my family and I do not regret that at all.  It is the way it is and the way it had to be.  That is what we do as women... as mothers.

I am finding myself all over again.  In many ways, my "recovery" has been much longer than Maggie's - isn't it amazing how kids are like that?  She truly doesn't even remember much of her treatment - doesn't remember much of her stays at Riley or receiving chemo or radiation or ... or... or she remembers it b/c of pictures.  She does remember the Make A Wish trip. :)

The last several months have been, for me, a finding myself again.  It is fun!  But I mourn what my family has lost over the last 2 years. This recovery is hard - figuring out myself again after losing a big part of me, figuring out friendships....

 I shared all of this with Rod yesterday and asked if it made sense and he said yes.  Maybe it won't make sense to most who read this.  I don't know.  Just had to share what God is doing.

Friday, January 28, 2011

God is BUSY!

Last night was the second night of 5 for a Wellness class that I am teaching for IWU.  Don't laugh.  I tell them upfront that IWU doesn't hire me to teach this class b/c I am a great physical specimen of physical health but rather the emotional and spiritual side of wellness (and unfortunately that is more book knowledge! :)  ).  We all smile and laugh and yes for this class the students have to figure out their BMI and some other stuff.  Let's just say that I am so glad that I am teaching and NOT taking the class - that BMI thing is rather depressing for me.

Anyway, in this class there are only 4 students.  The three women I would say are in their early 40's and there is a guy in the class that is 22.  Out of the 4, there is only one woman who MIGHT be a Christian.  At least she seems to "talk the talk".  The other 2 women are searching and this class talking about SPIRITUAL wellness is pushing that search.  This young black guy - a kid really.... he served in the military and is married and has a nine-month old son and is getting a divorce.  He is the typical 22 year old - thinks he knows everything, but his is a likable kid really - I am able to joke with him.... you know those jokes where you say something funny that the person knows is serious..  When I teach (especially the kind of classes I teach with such a small number of students) I am  able to really get to know my students and they start sharing in ways that they haven't before thru out the series of classes (this program is set up that they stay with the same students the whole time).   When I shared that I am a counselor - specifically a Marriage and Family Counselor he rolled his eyes and you could SEE him groan - not just hear him.  :)

Last night was the night that they were to have read about Spiritual Wellness.  I like to take the class even further than than the textbook.  So I showed this clip from "Fireproof"
When this kid said that while he was in the military that he and his wife went to a marriage retreat and this movie was shown.  I jokingly/seriously said that he obviously isn't applying anything from the movie - he smiled (guiltily) and we watched the clip.  We talked about what it means to love someone and that LOVE is a choice it isn't a feeling.  I think that this was the first time that many of the them had truly heard about what Jesus had done for them.  I shared again with them about how much I learned thru Maggie's treatments HOW MUCH GOD LOVES US as He was willing to let His Son die for ME, be humiliated FOR ME.

Then we watched this clip for Facing the Giants....

We talked about how willingly we give up on things as it is "good enough" and how God wants our best and how He tells us that WHATEVER we do we are to work at it with ALL of our Hearts.  We had a really good discussion.

This kid (I'll call him "Jack") started saying that everything I was saying were things he was already thinking - basically saying that the things I was saying were challenging him.  I told him that it was GOD.  And he said "I am starting to think that you are right."   You see, as I was driving in that stupid snow I started praying that God would use me to work in my students.  And He did.  Not because of anything of who I am but because of How BIG God is.

Several times throughout the night "Jack" asked me if I would be his Marriage Counselor.  Can you believe it?  The kid who wanted nothing to do with a counselor is now asking this white lady to be his Marriage Counselor?  For the record, I don't know if I can ethically - dual relationship stuff.  But I see God working.  During our break, he started looking for the book Love Dare from the FireProof movie.  I am in tears just thinking about how God was busy last night.

Two of the other ladies I believe were just in awe - I truly do not believe that they had ever heard about God's love this way.  What a truly humbling experience to be used this way.  I absolutely love making people think in different ways and challenging them and I am in awe when God gives the opportunity and then uses me to challenge us all.

God is so busy challenging me in so many ways lately.  And these movie clips were just that additional push to get moving.  God wants me to run our home differently, do this blog differently, love our home more completely, parent a little bit stronger, love my husband a little LOT more selflessly, share of my frugal finds more frequently,  give of myself more freely.  And to do all of these things wholeheartedly.

As I look at ways to revamp this blog - I am looking for suggestions.  Are there things that you want to hear about more than others?  Please share your thoughts. :)  Pretty please?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Raising children into Jesus lovers

I have been thinking about this a lot.  No, really.  I mean A LOT!  I remember in one of my many drives between home and Riley hospital listening to Moody radio and hearing an interview about how the Church (notice the capitol C) is losing the 16-28 (forgot specific ages but you get the idea) year old age group.  They are disappearing from the church "never to be seen again".  Some thought regarding the reason to this is that we as parents are not teaching our children apologetics - WHY we believe WHAT we believe.

This was after I had been pointed to the book "Parenting by the Book" by John Rosemond (coined the term "helicopter parenting).  This is a fabulous book to challenge our parenting do's and don'ts.  Parents have become concerned about their child's self esteem - which is not biblical.  Self worth - yes.  Self-esteem - no way.  Parents teach that the child is to be respected over all other people (if only by action) and there is little respect for other adults.  Parents are not teaching their children responsibility.  We defend our children to everyone instead of letting them experience failure or life lessons.  I find myself falling into these pits and am fighting to get out of that pit.

I believe that there is a correlation to kids leaving the church and the way parents are "parenting".  I am really questioning if we as Christians are doing anything differently in how we parent than our non-Christian counterpart.  Doesn't the Bible say that we should "look" different?  I've talked to many moms and we all do parenting a little differently :  from the food we fix for our family to what movies we let our kids watch to whether our children watch tv at all.  I have found that there are things that Rod and I do that not many other parents do (and probably visa versa).    If we aren't doing anything different than non-Christians then how will our children grow up to be any different than a statistic of one who leaves the church?

As parents, we are all afraid that we are not doing the right thing for our kids.  My question is:  Does the Bible really make it that difficult or is it our culture?  I want to raise children the way God intended and I am not thinking that the way we are parenting in today's culture is going to give that outcome.

How do you stand out in your parenting?  What are your thoughts?

Soulprint by Mark Batterson - what does God want out of you?

Mark Batterson is a pastor of a "mega-church" in the Washington D.C. area and is the author of this book

I was immediately taken by this book.  Maybe it is b/c it was concepts that I have thought for quite some time that Batterson has taken and put eloquently into words.  

Comparing our own lives to King David, the shepherd is a fascinating way to not only understand King David in a new way, but ourselves and God's view of us in the process.

We each are unique and are called to worship the God who made us the way we are in only the way WE can.  Soulprint looks at who we are - the good, the bad, and the ugly and encourages us to continue thru the process of being who God uniquely made us to be.

Waterbrook - Multnomah - provided the copy of this book. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Feeling Crafty

Ok, so I decided to get a tiny little crafty project done instead of working on my notes for teaching my class tomorrow evening.  Yes, I am a FABULOUS procrastinator.

So, here is the deal.  My kitchen has a window over the sink and I have a curtain in it that I really don't like.  I have been looking for a new kitchen window curtain as I would meander thru stores.  But I couldn't find one that I liked and was willing to spend the requested price on it.  Then Rod and I started to become more frustrated (me with not finding what I want at the price I want and Rod with me).  So then I began just looking for something that I liked - no matter the cost.  STILL couldn't find anything.

On our little getaway, Rod and I went shopping.  Believe it or not - he likes shopping with me because I am FAST! :)  Plus we were looking at all of the clearance sales going on.  (Yes, my budget is now out of whack but that is for another time.)  I started looking in Target for kitchen curtains.  I don't know if it is just me but I couldn't find any.  I came across these napkins on clearance at Target.
I loved them.  I told Rod that they would look good in the kitchen and I could put them up with those wonderful little clip rings.  He wanted them shorter so that we could watch Jared walk to the bus stop (it's the only window in the house that we can watch from).  So I decided to use fabric tape.

Sorry, the pic won't turn for me.  Trust me.  It is fabric tape.

I thought about taking a pic of me ironing my fabric napkins into my beautiful curtains but I tend to be very VERY clumsy and have enough scars from burns all over my body.  (Like the time that I got a second degree burn on my leg after spilling baked beans down the front of me - but I make really REALLY good baked beans!)

Here is my finished product.

Please overlook the white electric cord that Rod needs to hide.  Also pay no attention that piece of black plastic that is "protecting" the plywood from where the 1970's ugly rock was taken off the outside of the house in anticipation of new siding.

Yeah, I tried.  But I never realized how poor the lighting is.  But you get the affect.    Again, pay no attention to the piece of black plastic.  Or my messy counter that I am also avoiding.

So, that is my project.  What do you think?  It took me longer (almost) to put the "curtains" on the tension rod than it did to iron them.  I did use all 4 so that it would be nice and full.   Sorry, but I am a little proud of my accomplishment - I am really not very (at all) crafty.

Whatcha think?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Getting away.

Have you been wondering where I disappeared to?  :)

This past weekend was my birthday and Rod surprised me and planned a night away.  He reserved the room and took care of what was going on with the kids and everything.  I think that last part was the best part - Rod planning what was happening with the kids.  I just had to pack my bag and the kids' bag.  Not bad, huh?

We generally are good about taking little escapes without the kids.  I strongly believe that the marriage is THE most important relationship in the home (outside of the relationship with Jesus) and that our children need to see that.  I think that today's children are being told that they are more important than the relationship between the husband and wife from whose relationship that child came from.  Ahhhh, but I digress, now don't I?  ;)

Right before Maggie was diagnosed with cancer, Rod and I had taken a big getaway and we hadn't taken one since.  I can tell you the dates of Maggie's diagnosis, surgery, and 1st stem cell transplant but I don't remember the dates of our vacation - strange, huh?  Anyway, there is this odd piece of me that is almost scared to go away for any real length of time to any place far away for fear of something happening again.  I know that it is foolish but it is honest.

Another reason dates and getaways are important is that it makes you concentrate on each other, not the kids or a dirty house or projects that need to be finished around the house or anything like that.  I find that crucial.  Even in the midst of the craziness of Maggie's treatments, Rod and I found time for dates - time with just each other to reconnect and I believe that not only did it "save" our marriage but strengthened it as well.

I know from ....well, lots of places that the best thing you can do for your child(ren) is to give them a stable and strong marriage to grow up around so that they can feel safe.  As parents we need to take care of our marriage before our children and often we get that mixed up.  (This is one of my soapbox issues.) Our kids love to see us kiss and hug and just hold each other.  Jared and Maggie often smile so big when they catch us kiss.

Yesterday, Rod and I had a "discussion" - you know one where voices were a little louder and the tone was a little more pointed.  Jared came out and interrupted us and told us that we shouldn't fight.  We quickly explained that we weren't fighting and that we were fine.  To be brutally honest, I am not sure that at THAT precise moment we were "fine" but it ended fine.  We both were right and wrong at the same time.

This is my Jared - he is probably smarter in many ways than Rod and I put together.  Jared has a huge heart and hates knowing that anyone is hurt in any way - especially if he caused that hurt.  Isn't he so handsome?

This was our first overnight without the kids in about 2 years.  It was very relaxing and now I think I am ready for a longer one. :)

How do you put your marriage before your children?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Life is full

First, I thought that I'd share about a book I read this past weekend.  No, this one I got from the library - still free but not to keep.  :)  The book I read was "America's Cheapest Family" by the Economides.  The book was a very easy read and I agreed with much of what they had to say.  I love reading books/articles such as this as I am always looking for new ideas on how to be frugal but yet keeping a full life.  One of their biggest points that they had was to only go to the store once a month.  They go to the grocery store only once a month and get all of their groceries for the month for their 7 member family.  (YIKES!)  They said that the wife (forget her name, sorry) will sit down beforehand, go thru their pantry (etc) and figure out what they have on hand and then make a  meal plan for a full month: breakfast, lunch and dinner.  She bases that meal plan on what the family likes and what the sales are for that particular week then will write the list of EVERYTHING that they need.  The planning and shopping does take longer than if you go weekly or bi-weekly however, they believe that overall they spend less time per month on planning and shopping than if you go multiple times per month.  So yes, they freeze milk, certain fruits they must eat faster than others (they go bad sooner) they do go to the bread outlet store to get great prices on bread and freeze those as well.  (I've mentioned doing that myself).  Part of the reason that they only do once-a-month shopping is b/c they are not tempted to buy things are not on the list as often.  They shared that people often buy multiple impulse buys.  Makes sense.  I absolutely love their dedication and I do believe that I need to implement doing meal planning more than I do and they had many good ideas.  I just enjoy getting out of the house by myself a little and use that time to go to the store - it is my refueling time.  Besides I'd have to buy another big freezer to hold all that food  (just think of all the space the milk takes up!)

That is why I love learning about how people are frugal.  You can still live BIG on less money.  You take what works for you and go with it.  Not everything works for everyone.

So Life is FULL!! :)  I have probably added too much to my plate and am trying to figure out what to do with it all. :)

I will be teaching a class for Indiana Wesleyan starting next week.  It will be one night a week, for 4 hours, 5 weeks straight.  I have missed teaching for IWU.  When I teach, I feel like I am using my degree that I spent so much stinkin' money on!  But more importantly I feel like  I am using the gifts that God has given me.  I absolutely love to speak into the lives of adults.  When Maggie was diagnosed, I was supposed to teach a class the following month and quickly told IWU what was going on and they were gracious in finding someone else to teach the class.  About a year ago (this week in fact), they asked if I could teach a class and I didn't get back to them in a timely fashion as Maggie's health and treatment options were very up in air and took every thought we had at the time.  Since this summer, I have been asking to teach and there just wasn't anything available! Finally this past fall I was asked to teach a class in Mishawaka (they meet in a hotel business rooms, cool huh?).  Then shortly after that I get asked to teach another one and it actually OVERLAPS the first one by one week!    Then I have to do this computer training (have I mentioned that I am not great with computers?) because they have updated things (as they should) but I am feeling lost and having to readjust to things.  But it will be good to teach. :)

Then I am wanting to purge and organize our home.  Have I mentioned that organization is not my strongsuit? Procrastination I am great at.  Making a pile is something that I am good at.  I tend to get overwhelmed by all the "stuff".  But the stuff is getting to me.  Besides I am married to a man who loves organization and gets frustrated by my lack of it.  Of course, it doesn't help that my "organized" hubby brings home an 8' by 3.5' scoreboard and puts it in our storage area (that is not organized).

Last night at church - going thru  Francis Chan's Forgotten God - we talked about how when the Holy Spirit tells us to do something and we dont - for whatever reason; whether "that must just be me" or fear stops us or ...or that we are "grieving Him".  Yes, I knew that, but I think that I had lost perspective of that.  So, following and doing what the Holy Spirit has asked me to do needs to by my first priority.  So what has the Holy Spirit spoken to you about?  What are you doing about it?  Does it scare you?  It scares me.  But then, when I think about it I am more scared not to do it.  I hate the thought of how I have grieved the Holy Spirit because of how I have put off doing what He has asked of me.

How about you?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fresh Snow

What is it about the new year that makes us all want to have a clean start - just like a fresh layer of snow?  Everyone starts new goals - some are afraid of saying "resolutions", but whatever they are called it is still the same - "a fresh start".  We want to start new habits, break old habits, develop new processes of doing things etc etc etc.

There is a big project that I want to try and am scared to death of it  - literally like a deer in the proverbial headlights.  I am scared of failing and therefore haven't really started.  There are other goals that seem so daunting that I am not sure where to even begin.

So, I am liking this beautiful snow that we are getting.  (For those of you who are not local - we have gotten so much snow in the last 3 hours that you can't see the tracks that my van left on the driveway when I pulled into the garage.  It is coming down hard and furious.)    I can't see the snow angels that the kids made the other day, but I know that they were beautiful.   It reminds me of how God lets have as many do-overs as is necessary.  I hate having to use a do-over, HOWEVER, I am so grateful that God allows them as I am so full of my own blunders and fear and clumsiness and awkwardness and.....

I want to focus on taking God up on His offer of do-overs and not on His forgiveness of being too afraid to follow Him that I sit still.  Let me rephrase that.  I would rather make a mistake in what God wants me to do than to be so scared of failure that I don't do it at all.

So let us make tracks in the snow.  Let us do it big and BOLD.  Make goals/resolutions/hopes - whatever you want to call them and if we fail we will keep going.  Let us "do" what we are called to by God and do it with zeal and not fear.

The snow angels will be made again! :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Big Appetite

 Last night I made a turkey for supper.  I always make a turkey at least once a year.  I had gotten my turkey when the stores were running great sales before Thanksgiving and it had been waiting in our freezer.   My guys were not thrilled but I was looking forward to turkey sandwiches.   When I started cutting the turkey, Maggie told me which piece she wanted.

If you look closely you can see a gap where she had recently lost a bottom tooth.  The tooth next to the gap is loose as well.  Mags tried her hardest to eat this big turkey leg.  But it hurt that loose tooth too much to try to take a bite off of that leg.  I ended up having to cut it up into little pieces for her.  But it was the first supper in a while that she gobbled up!

When we put her to bed last night, she told me that she may need a baggy because her tooth was really loose.    We put lost teeth in baggies so that the "tooth fairy" has no problem finding those tiny things in the dark.  I told her to come see me if she does.  Five minutes later she came running out all proud.  Her face had a trace of blood on it from her playing with that tooth till it came out.  Maggie and I put it in a baggy and it went under her pillow.
Here's Mags before school this morning.  Rod took the pic.  I am not quite sure why he had her looking up at him like this...Anyway.....

Seeing Maggie with this turkey leg made me think about appetites and what I have a Big Appetite for.  I want to have a bigger appetite for Loving God and other people.  I want to have a Big Appetite for Jesus.

What do you have a Big Appetite for?

Oh, for those wondering about the Legos.  Jared was upset about it for about a minute until he realized why they had been taken away.  He wants to know when he will get them back and I told him he has to earn them back by showing us that he can have a different attitude.  It helps that this is not the first time that the Legos had been taken as a consequence.  He still has his KNEX which may be taken away also if the attitude returns.

AND if you look at the pic of Mags and her gaping wholes, you will see a big box in the upper left hand corner.  That is our Christmas tree.  I can't (physically) take that prelit 9ft. tree back downstairs by myself and Rod and I seem to keep forgetting about it when he is home.  However, he did remember to get my help to bring in the 8ft X 3.5ft SCOREBOARD and put it in the storage side of our basement.  Everyone needs one of those, right?  PLEASE sense my sarcasm!  He said if felt like Mike and Frank from the show American Pickers when he saved it from going to the trash.  Oh, how I LOVE my husband!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Most Hated Mom

Part of living with BIG FAITH in order to have a BIG LIFE may mean not being liked by my children.  I don't like that but God doesn't require us to like things either.  We are required to obey.

Well, Jared, whom I LOVE to death, and can be the sweetest, most caring and smartest kid ever put in first grade, has been having a major attitude lately.  It is making our mornings miserable.  When confronted with about this attitude, he will spew more attitude and then eventually become very contrite and then refuses to go to school.  We usually get things turned around in time for him to make the bus.  But it breaks my heart.  I know that he is still tired from all of the Christmas festivities, but it still not acceptable for him to behave like this.  Somehow, he needs to understand this.  The therapist in me talks to him about thinking about what he says before he says it.  I talk to him about how he is "marvelously made" and we read Psalm 139 together.  We talk about how I love him more than anyone besides Jesus (It has become a "joke" in our family who loves the kids more - Daddy or Mommy).  Yet the attitude continues.

So, I took all of his Legos.  These are probably his most cherished possessions - he likes to get up early each morning so that he has time to build something before school.  He totally loses himself in those Legos.  I love how absolutely creative he is with those things.  He can follow the "directions" to build whatever, but he loves to create his own things even more.  He'll come and proudly show us what each part of his creation is.  Jared LOVES his Legos.

However, as his parents, it is our job to teach him and show him how to make good decisions and when he makes bad choices that there negative consequences.  I get concerned that, many times, we as parents allow disrespectful attitudes in our children to flourish instead of quenching them.

So the Legos have left his room.  There will be tears at about 3:45 this afternoon when he realizes that they are gone.  But when he realizes that he can earn them back he will begin to calm down because he knows that his attitude has not been "acceptable".

I love my son too much to let him stay this way.  Reminds me (in a wee way) of how much God loves us and won't let us stay the way we are.  That reminds me that I have some big attitudes to work on myself.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Living by the budget

Rod and I sat down yesterday to redo our budget.  Mondays are Rod's day off which was really good this week b/c Rod is still recovering from that horrendous stomach bug that flew thru our family.

Anyway, I am not sure when we first heard of Dave Ramsey, but we have always been frugal.  It is just in our blood.  However, we learned a lot from Dave when we went thru Financial Peace University.  When we started the class at our church the only debt we had was our house and we felt pretty good about that.  HOWEVER, we learned so many things that we were doing WRONG.  When we started the class, we were very comfortable using our credit cards for all of our purchases.  We'd pay it off every month and never thought about it.  We never spent much anywhere but we really had no clue where our money was going.

After going thru FPU, we learned that we need to tell our money where it is going BEFORE the month starts.  We also learned how effective it is to use a cash only system.  We didn't believe it when we first heard about going cash only but OH MAN is it true!  I put cash into envelopes for certain categories and when that envelope is empty you are done spending in that category for the month. Now, there are still things that we use our card for like gas for our vehicles.  However, when we were doing cash only and telling our money where it was going BEFORE the month started our finances were better...simpler.

When Maggie got sick, we did what was easiest.  We went back to using our cards.  We were always traveling.  Our minds were ....well, otherwise occupied.  We stopped using our cash only system.

Our extreme frugal nature was also augmented.  We both realized that life is short and that sometimes it is worth spending money in the here and now to see that look on your child's face or to make life easier.  However, we are still much more frugal than not.  I love the high of getting a good deal on something I really like!   I know that people often think we are crazy but that is ok.  For example, Rod is in charge of all the technology at the church - video, audio and computers.  However, we do not have ANY flat screen TVs in our home.  Rod keeps saying that until ours dies we don't need one.  I mean seriously, he used to work in television, he gives advice to everyone else about what kind of flat screen TV to buy (LED or Plasma, blah blah, blah) but we are too frugal to buy one until ours is on the brink.

We tried to go back on our cash only system and neither one of us was fully dedicated to it yet.  Some was just recovery and some was mentioned above.  ("Recovery" is a whole other subject that is hard to explain and hard to understand unless you've been thru it.)

Anyway, so we knew after Christmas that we were going to get back on track with our cash system.   We pulled out our Credit card statement and I almost got sick.  When all you have to do is slide that card thru a machine you (ok, me) don't really keep track of how much you are spending.

What is so crazy is that even living with our system, we still have plenty for fun stuff.  We still have satellite - which I still talk about losing as we spend too much time watching tv anyway.  We still eat out (Rod eats out way too many lunches - but we are working on that - Sorry, honey!).  Date nights are a high priority for us.

So, I will be heading out today to get our cash for the month.  Feels so much better to have our cash only system back up and running and back to our normal frugal ways.  :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Book Review: Everything Christmas

I was really hoping that I would miraculously get this book much earlier than I actually did.  However, I got the book only a couple of days before Christmas.  This book is set up to read some for each day of December up until Christmas day.  While I did enjoy the book, I had hoped that it would include the history of some Christmas traditions - such as "where did kissing under the mistletoe come from".  I truly loved learning about many of the great Christmas Carols.  There were stories - some fictional and others non-fiction - that related to Christmas.  Although, many were good stories I was not expecting there to be quite so many.  It also had a section to learn about the customs/traditions used to celebrate Christmas in many other countries which was very interesting and a some recipes for traditional Christmas food.  Hopefully, next year, I can use this book to teach more to my children about how we celebrate Christmas.

The book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah Press.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Our year in review

A year ago, Maggie was in Riley hospital and being transferred from the PICU to the stemcell unit.  We had no idea what caused her symptoms that gave her a plane ride to Indy and a stay at the PICU.  We still do not fully know what happened.

However, we do know of many miracles that God did in 2010.  Maggie remains cancer free and her kidneys have done a lot to improve themselves.  Maggie is on NO medications.  Jared is doing great in school and loves having us all back together.

In many ways, this past year (really almost two years) have been a blur but also I seem to remember every single  minute.  I hope that my memories help me appreciate just how blessed we are.  God has taught me so much thru the last (almost) two years.  I just pray that I remain open to the lessons and I incorporate those new lessons into my life.

So, I have some goals for the 2011 - just like everyone else.  But I hope to share on here how I am progressing in my goals.

1.  Before Maggie was diagnosed, I had started losing weight and was doing pretty good.  The stress of our situation and practically living in the hospital led to me gaining that weight back PLUS some.  So my goal is to get healthy.  Somehow I need to incorporate fitness more into my daily/weekly routine.  Gotta figure that one out.  Never understood people enjoying running.  Looks like torture. (sorry runners!)

2.  Going back to cash!  We had been doing so well with this before ....  anyway we will be living on our budget and we are telling where our money to go.  Can you hear Dave Ramsey coming out?  I love knowing how little we can live on while still living BIG! :)  I love saving money and getting great deals.

3.  This is the most important...Increasing my time with God.  I really want to improve my prayer time.  I want my kids to "catch me" in time with God.  I am tired of my life continuing and all of a sudden I realize that I haven't even prayed about "X".  Or I get so busy that I haven't even talked with God to ask Him to walk this day with me.

4.  I am going to read more.  I found a way to get some books for FREE if I am willing to review them on my blog.  Absolutely love that!  So watch out for that to be coming soon.  :)  I am also reading "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" with Jared and The Little House books with both kids.  LOVE that! :)  Get to relive my childhood with my kids.

5.  I am working on developing me, I guess (?), professionally.  I will be teaching 2 classes for IWU in the next couple of months.  I have at least one other goal that I need to work on that would land in this category - More on that later....maybe. :)

I am sure that there is more but I better stop for now.  That flu bug is still running rampant in our home (Rod is the latest victim - but he is up and moving now) and I must fumigate our home or at least degermify.  Yes, I know that my spell check is highlighting that word but it best grasps what needs to be done.  ;)  Oh, and I must put away the huge pile of blueberry pancakes that the kids and I made this morning into the freezer.

I pray that this year is filled with Blessings and Lessons from God and that we are open to fully grasp them! :)