Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Firsts for Our Family

I had intended to post this yesterday but my to do list was a mile long and my family and home-keeping comes first. So this may seem like old news but our Easter was made up with a lot of firsts for our family and thought I would share them with you.


It was our first Easter living in Kansas away from all our family. It was also our first Easter at a new church.



It was the first Easter where I was responsible for the ENTIRE meal. I was a little intimidated having the weight of an expensive piece of meat on my shoulders but I guess with ham, unless you overcook it and dry it out, you really can't mess it up.


It was the first time I attempted making a pie crust. I wanted my Grandma's recipe but I couldn't get a hold of her in time. I used this recipe instead from AllRecipes.com. If you have a great pie recipe you use feel free to send it to me. It turned out okay for my first try but I made it a little thick. I know to roll it more for next time!

We also started something new with the egg hunt. I added scripture verses into the eggs that were about Christ's death, burial and resurrection. Eian put them in the order they happened. Since he's 10 I had to come up with something challenging for him. He seemed to like it and it helped me by writing out all the verses and bringing the Scriptures closer to my heart. I would have typed them but the computer was acting up and processing slowly. I appreciate writing them now though. :)

Although I missed being near extended family, it was nice spending some much needed family time with my three guys. I hope you all had a wonderful Easter!


This post is linked to Titus 2sday

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Last Minute Easter Activity for Kids

It's easy to become busy during Easter with the holiday meal planning, shopping and cooking, church activities and services, egg hunts, buying goodies for the kids, etc.





So it's understandable that if or when you have time to slow down you forget something. Unfortunately, it's easy to forget the main reason we even celebrate Easter...the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.



Here are two easy and quick activities to do with the kiddos to help remember Christ this Easter.




Resurrection Rolls


We've made this a tradition the past few years in our house but as I share this with friends I find there are many variations. This recipe is simple and works for us though.


You Will Need:

1 can of crescent rolls

8 regular marshmallows

cinnamon



Just unroll the dough and separate following the perforation marks. Sprinkle cinnamon on it to represent Christ's body being prepared with spices for burial. Place the marshmallow on top, which is Jesus' body and then roll the dough around the marshmallow just as the stone was rolled in front of his tomb. Make sure you seal all edges to prevent any oozing.



Bake the rolls according to the instructions on the package.



Eat and enjoy and notice that just as Jesus' tomb, they are EMPTY!




Some of the marshmallows ooze out sometimes despite your sealing efforts but if you bake on a Silpat sheet (any silicone baking sheet is okay) or parchment paper you should be fine.



Plant Seeds








Planting is always a good way to tie in your faith and show that just as God creates new life from that seed, we are also a new creation in Christ. It was a rather warm day when we did this Friday so the kids enjoyed getting outside and of course getting dirty. Yep, they're all boy!


I hope everyone has a blessed Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Consume and Be Consumed

I normally would be typing a money saving post to link up to Frugal Friday's over at Life As Mom. However, instead of sharing what I'm learning about saving money I want to share how I am already rich!
Thanks to Jessica at Life as Mom for setting the "tone" with her great post here.


It's Good Friday and I was reading this morning about the Lord's Last Supper in Mt 26:26-30, Mark 14:22-25 and Luke 22:17-20. They are verses I've heard numerous times, especially at communion, but it wasn't until this morning that the Lord really allowed me to see the fullness of the dinner's symbollism.

In verse 26 Jesus broke the bread (just as I'm sure physically His bones were broken during His beating* after I posted this I remembered from John 19:26 that not one of Christ's bones were actually broken-sorry for the mistake*) and He gave thanks for it and gave it to His disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."





26:27-29 Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them saying, "Drink from it,all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink anew with you in my Father's kingdom."

Again, these are familiar verses but what really choked me up was Christ's words, "Take and eat." "Drink from it, all of you."


What is it we do when we eat, when we drink? We consume.


God wants us to accept the freedom the Gospel truth offers and consume it. He will in turn consume us, our very souls, and lead us to victory over sin.


Will you consume the truth of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection this Easter and let the Lord consume you?



Become rich with the greatest treasure this life has to offer, a relationship with God.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Opening My Eyes to Freedom

As Easter approaches I've been trying to spend extra time in my devotions reflecting on the gospel.






I was reading today from Mark 10:46-52 about the blind man Bartimaeus. He was a blind man sitting by the roadside as Jesus, His disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho to head to Jerusalem.



Bartimeus heard it was Jesus passing and he shouted, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" When others following Jesus heard him, they began to rebuke him and told him to be quiet.



It shows they weren't fully understanding Jesus' purpose. Many who followed Jesus, including His disciples, believed He was the son of God but thought His going to Jerusalem was to deliver the Jews from the Roman government.



I try to put myself there and imagine how the crowd was pumped up thinking of Jesus more as a political figure. They may have been hoping Jesus would overthrow the Romans and rule Israel. The closer they got to Jerusalem the closer they were to freedom. Then out of nowhere, this blind beggar shouts for Jesus. How dare he? How dare he divert Jesus' attention away from His real mission?



How many times have I misunderstood God's mission for my own life?



But oh how I love Christ's response in Mark 10:49, "Call him."



It says in 10:50 Throwing His cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.



Jesus then asks him in 10:51 "What do you want me to do for you?"



Then Bartimaeus said, "Rabbi, I want to see."



I find it fascinating that just as this blind man excitedly jumped to his feet and threw off his cloak, the Lord longs for us to come to Him with excitement, letting go of anything weighing us down.



Just like this blind man, our hearts should be crying out to the Lord desiring to see and to be brought out of the darkness.



As we think about Easter and what Christ has done for us on the cross, I pray that I will continuously have a heart that shouts, "Lord have mercy on me! Help me, I want to see this life, my life and those around me, the way you do!"





And oh we're not done with the story, here's verse 10:52 "Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you." Immediately he (Bartimaeus) received sight and followed Jesus along the road.



This blind man was following Jesus along the road, the road to freedom. Little did he or those following Jesus, that this would mean eternal freedom not political freedom.



I also find it interesting that this is the last recorded miracle Jesus performed before entering the Holy City. This speaks volumes to me as to where God's heart is. The last miracle He performed before dieing on the cross was to give a poor, blind beggar sight! I am and was, before giving my life to Christ, that poor and blind beggar.



He wants us to cry out to Him and to be desperate in our need to see!



So as we reflect on the gift of Christ's death, burial and resurrection let's ask God for sight to see and to be free!



Have a joy filled day!





Monday, April 18, 2011

Developing a Personal Mission Statement


It's Monday again and I have been trying to make it a habit to partake in Multitude Mondays at A Holy Experience. Multitude Mondays encourages us, as women and children of the King, to thank God for all the gifts He gives us.


I also like to partake in Project Mondays over At the Well and they are challenging their readers to create a personal mission statement.


So as I was contemplating today's post, I thought about how these two blog link ups are intertwined.


I thank God for the roles He has given me as David's wife and companion, as Eian and Elias' mom, keeper of this household, keeper of this one physical body I have, my roles as daughter, sister, friend, etc.


If I believe God is ALL powerful, ALL knowing, ALL loving, and ALWAYS in control then I must believe that the people in my life are put here for a reason. They are here for a purpose and for an opportunity to let the light of Christ shine through me and into them.


My ultimate goal and purpose for this site is to walk along side all of you reading and encourage you to fill YOUR roles more passionately and intentionally and allow this desire to truly SIMPLIFY your life.


When we focus on what God has designed us to do, and purpose ourselves by aligning our desires appropriately, then that's when we find real fulfillment. This has been my experience anyway.


Believe me though, I am by no means saying I have it all together or that I have even had a day recently where I have really felt completely fulfilled. And we may not really ever feel this until the day the Lord calls us home but I do know that feeling like I've missed the mark on impacting the lives of those I love in a positive way, on a regular basis is NOT what God wants.


I am simply admitting I recognize this truth. So how can this knowledge be implemented? How can I give thanks to God for these roles? How can He be ultimately glorified?


God has been slowly revealing to me (or maybe I've just been slow to catch on) that all these desires to fill my roles more purposefully need to be outlined somehow to keep me on track. I think we all suffer from mild cases of ADHD, or at least I do, and it's so easy for me to get distracted.


I was ecstatic to see that the Project over At the Well was developing a personal mission statement.


I honestly had just asked David last night what he felt were some important tasks needing finished. God bless him but he wasn't much help! He couldn't really think of anything other than working with Eian to finish his diorama for school. I was looking for guidance and direction because I have really been feeling like my wheels are spinning lately.


It dawned on me, as I was washing dishes last night (my daydreaming time) that while I think it's important to include your spouse, the best way to find guidance in prioritizing and finding purpose is asking God. I admit I do not do this nearly as often as I should. So with my arms wrist deep in dish water, I did just that.


Today seems a little more clear thanks to the Lord and I do not think it was just a "coincidence" that today's At the Well project is Developing a Personal Misson Statement.

I will be prayerfully contemplating, organizing, and implementing mine. Won't you join me? What areas of your life are you feeling unproductive in? What are some practical ways you can fulfill your roles more effectively?


Is it making yourself removed from that never ending to do list and purposefully spend a chunk of time with your kids, is it purposefully planning to spend an hour alone with your husband tonight by getting the kiddos to bed early and staying OFF the computer, is it purposefully getting to bed on time so you can rise before the kids and make time for God, is it purposefully planning to make healthier food choices...? So I guess you can see these are a few of mine but I want to hear from YOU!

What can you do in your life NOW to give thanks to God by living more purposefully in the roles He has given YOU?


Friday, April 15, 2011

10 Tips to Save Money on Groceries Without Coupons


  • I am a huge supporter of coupons and could not and would not shop without them. However, as I strive for a simple, well-balanced, full life I have to wonder if my couponing has become more of a hindrance than a help. Anyone else with me?

  • I think it's great that many are jumping in on the coupon thing but the truth is the more people who use coupons means the harder it is to get that deal. It could just be my area but it's kinda 50/50 as to if that item will be in the store or not. Gas is just too high to go shopping for things that may be gone already.

  • While I don't intend to make this a deal finding blog (because there are so many good ones already like Motherhood on aDime or Money Saving Mom or Common Sense with Money) I do think money and the saving of it and being frugal does come in to play while striving for a simple life.

  • It's difficult to fully enjoy life when you have a bunch of debt hanging over your head and you have to cut debt down by being frugal. My husband and I have finally begun to figure that out and are starting our path to being debt-free! Coupons are an excellent way to do that but let's face it.... they take time and energy and more than I have to spend most days! I still love coupons but I don't beat myself up over not having clipped them and organized them for a month like I used to!

So what's a gal to do if she wants to cut her grocery costs without all the coupon stress?



  • I have compiled a list of tricks and just plain ole common sense I've learned throughout my grocery shopping years and want to share them with you. Now some of them you all might say "Psh, that's nothing new. I've been doing that for years." Believe it or not though there are some gals out there who have been blessed up until now where they have not had to think about how they grocery shop. Until now they go to the store when they need something whether it's on sale or not. I on the other hand have not had that luxury since kids came along and don't think I could shop like that even if I was able :)

  • But those women are still out there and I know because I am friends with some of them. A few have recently been asking me how I spend only $200-$250 a month on groceries for our family of 4. (I'm sure there are some major deal divas out there that spend MUCH less than this) So here are some of my money saving ideas without using coupons:



  • 1. Make a list of prices. -Now I must be honest I am just not diligent enough to keep a master list of ALL the prices at every store but some, my sister included, swear by it.

-The purpose is so you know what the rock bottom price on an item is. If you pay attention, over time you will get an idea for what the best price is for something.


-If anything, either write down or memorize at least the items you purchase often. For example,I will never pay more than $1 for a box of cereal, 17 cents per diaper or more than the equivalent of $1 per 4 roll pckg of toilet paper.



  • 2. Find out your stores' cycle for marking down meats and veggies.

  • -Oh how I love those Manger Special stickers!


  • -This will vary from store to store but typically they will mark down these items on Thursday (making room for weekend business) and then on Sunday or Monday (whatever doesn't sell over the weekend).

  • -Be smart, just because it's marked down doesn't mean it's a good deal. If the original price was high to begin with then you're probably paying normal price for near Add Imageexpiration meat or veggies. This is where being knowledgeable on prices is important.

  • 3. Make a Menu Plan according to the stores weekly specials

- Again this is old news for some of you but if you're going to do anything from this list this would probably be the most important!


-Search recipe sites using the ingredients that you see the best deal for. A few I like are Just a Pinch Recipe Club, All Recipes, Kraft Foods


-Here are also some great resources for menu planning and recipes: I'm an Organizing Junkie and The Happy Housewife



  • 4. Freeze Meals

- Freezing meals or pre-cooked meats (make sure you use fresh meat and not meat that's been previously frozen and thawed) are handy to pop in the oven on a busy day and help you avoid the drive-thru!


- I have strayed a bit from this myself but it was a life saver when I was working 40+ hours a week away from home several months ago. I would cook large batches of maybe 3-5 of my families' favorite meals/ breakfasts/snacks and freeze them. I just did this every other weekend or when it was the most convenient for me so we could have an on going supply of something that was easy to pop in the oven or microwave.


-Another great web resource is Jessica's site Life As Mom or her dedicated recipe site Good Cheap Eats . She's actually in the process of writing a cookbook featuring freezer meals (or it may be ON freezer meals, not sure).



  • 5. Grocery Shop Alone

-I always go over budget when my 10 yr old or husband go with me. More eyes and more stomachs make for more money dished out at checkout! It's just a fact.



  • 6.Don't Shop Hungry

-Kind of a no brainer but we all need the reminder! I like to have a granola bar or other snack in the car handy in case I need it before shopping.



  • 7. Stock up on meats when they're at the rock bottom price and watch store sale ad cycles.

-Stock up on expensive items like meat when they're at the lowest price point.


-Most stores have a 3 month ad cycle. So if ground chuck is at it's lowest of $1.77lb now (it's usually the lowest in our area anyway) then buy enough if you can for 2-3 months worth and freeze it.Again,this is where having a general idea of pricing comes in handy.



  • 8. Cook more Meat-Free Dishes

-Have one or two nights where you have things like a baked potato bar or a soup night so that it's not so obvious you're missing meat.


-You should have seen the look on my husband's face when I told him awhile back I wanted to have at least one night without meat in our dinner! I don;t think he minds it now :)



  • 9. Eat More Produce Without Going Broke-Shop @ Discount Food Stores

-I used to shy away from discount food stores like Aldi's or Save-A-Lot because sometimes the quality didn't seem as good. But if you watch what you're buying you can get some GREAT produce deals!


-If these stores have door buster deals like 39 cents for avocados or 29 cents for bananas but they don't look the best then use them in something like guacamole or use the bananas for banana bread.



  • 10. Use Cheap Ingredients for Fillers

-Use ingredients that make meals go a long way like rice, pasta, potatoes and beans. These are generally inexpensive but really extend your meat source. We eat a lot of rice and pasta around here with these hungry boys!



So I hope this helps Simplify your grocery shopping without having to kill yourself racing to the store to snag that great coupon deal before anyone else, or stay up until 3 am clipping (not that I've ever done that, hee hee). Coupons are great but with a little planning and creativity you can SAVE without all the coupon hassle!


So what do you do to help cut your grocery costs? I would love to hear them! I'm learning like the rest of you and could use some more tips :)


This post was linked to Frugal Fridays at Life As Mom

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Goodbye Numbness-I am Alive!

So many of you have already heard me go on and on about my new favorite book One Thousand Gifts by my new favorite author, Ann Voskamp. But I really cannot say enough about how God is using this book to help put everything into focus for me.

When I say everything I mean, my relationship with my husband, my role in our home, my relationship with my kids, and even this blog but it's all more clear because I have a deeper understanding of my most important relationship in Christ.


Sure, I'm a Christian of five years and sure I know how I should love and treat my family and how I should act. Let's face it though ladies, people (especially those we live with) are not always so lovable (and often times neither are we). And sure we're taught as Christians to love one another as Christ loves us (John 13:34), not to return evil for evil (Romans 12:17), and God has a good purpose for all things (Romans 8:28) but how do we practically apply all that knowledge of scripture?


Ann goes into great detail how God taught her the art of giving thanks. He led her to a place where she now gives thanks for 1000 daily gifts, big and small, from how the sun glistens on a soap bubble in the sink to the smile of a child.


Since reading the book I started pondering what is it I want, long for, yearn for, what is it I feel I'm missing? On a rare occasion when I was alone, driving to the grocery store on an emergency milk expedition, God revealed this to me... Numbness. I don't want to feel numb.


One of my greatest fears is to wake up one morning feeling as if I never took it all in, this life that is, and with it all the experiences and gifts that God gives. I don't want to waste this life God's blessed me with by focusing on what I don't have but instead giving Him thanks for what I do have.


I want to use this life to glorify Him more, to bring joy and love into the lives of my husband, my kids, and all who God places in my path. I want to take time to just sit and watch how a toddler marvels at a butterfly, or how a ten year old burrows his eyebrows low and sticks his tongue out during an intense Wii battle, or how my husband's face lights up when he comes into the room and sees me and the kids playing together.


The bottom line here, and point to my ramblings, is I don't want to miss God's gifts, His good and perfect gifts in ALL this life offers. All means just that...even when my husband shows his irritation AGAIN, or when my son forgets to make his bed AGAIN, or when the baby torments the cat AGAIN, or when I lose my cool towards the kids AGAIN... I can make the choice to give thanks even in those circumstances! And yes girls, it IS a choice. A choice that God backs you up on if you're willing to trust Him and to wait on Him. (Dt 31:8)


Psalm 33:20

We WAIT in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.


So far in giving thanks, I have learned it takes my focus off the negative and instead the light of all the positive shines through. I can take even life's frustrations and stop and say "Thank you Lord. Although this situation is hard, I know it is here for a reason and you are allowing it in my life to strengthen my faith in you. What will you have me to learn from it? How can I glorify you through it it Lord?" Wow, what a difference this has made in my attitude towards my husband and kids! It allows me to set that peaceful tone in our home that I keep saying I want more of. Finally, I am learning it all starts with giving thanks to the Lord.


Will YOU thank the the Lord and start today by making a list of ALL the good gifts He's blessed you with today? As we approach Easter and ponder Christ's death, burial and Resurrection, I think we can safely say He is trustworthy, He loves us and He is faithful!



Have a blessed day everyone and start counting! :)


Visit Women Living Well Wednesdays, Ann Voskamp's site for Walk With Him Wednesdays and Internet Cafe Devotions for Word Filled Wednesdays