Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Dinner Dilemma Finale

We are going on three full weeks of meal planning and mega organization overhaul. I LOVE it. The prep for all of these new systems is definitely time consuming. But, it is oh so very worth it. Seriously. I started with my problem, in The Dinner Dilemma Part 1. Then I came up with the following possible solution (for which I have Jeana to thank) in The Dinner Dilemma Part 2. It is proving to really help me A LOT. You have the option of reusing what you come up with: 4 beef meals, 4 chicken meals, 4 easy vegetarian meal, 4 pasta meals, and 4 breakfast for dinner meals- you can stick with a staple (especially if you are just getting used to planning meals) or you can switch them up every 4 weeks. From there I showed you how I picked my meals for 2 weeks, and under each day, I listed what I needed for the grocery store to make the items, in The Dinner Dilemma Part 3. I made my grocery list and didn't have to go to the grocery store 5 million times in 2 weeks....just once. It was truly bliss. I loved it. I shared with you how it was going in The Dinner Dilemma Part 4. For me, the most important part was picking easy meals. Meals that I didn't have to buy a ton of weird ingredients for, meals that I pretty much didn't even need a recipe for. Im finishing off this post with my finale 2 weeks menu plan below.

Week 3


Cinnamon Rolls and Eggs
Cinnamon Rolls

Sour Cream

Pasta and Alfredo Sauce and Apple Sauce
Apple Sauce

Melt In Your Mouth Chicken
Parm Cheese

Week 4

Corn Potato Soup

GF Pancake mix

Meatloaf and Potatoes
2lbs ground beef

Mozz cheese

GF Noodles
Mozz cheese

It has proved several things to me. The first is, wandering around the grocery store and trying to plan meals in my head, or make sure that we have enough stuff to last us 2 weeks is a big fat waste of money. I have decreased my grocery spending by over $200 a month!!! Its kind of amazing! Also, the big thing for me is that I have a plan. I don't go into Hell Hour or Killer Hour or whatever you want to call it blindly. I know what Im going to make for dinner and that stress is not on my shoulders. Now, Im still cranky and the kids are still super emotional and cranky, so obviously we all still have to exercise mass amounts a little self control. Its a process. I get irritable very quickly, and Im trying to get a handle on that. Listening to my tone of voice, hearing how I speak to my kids, being present, being quick to apologize....its all apart of growing.

Im working on a few other totally awesome systems that are all apart of my organizational overhaul including fabulous chore charts, budget system and family schedule. I will be sure to post about them as they come into play.

For now...God is still just chipping away at all of the parts of me that I wish would just disappear...He is so good and so faithful....and He has given us EVERYTHING we need to change peoples lives all for His glory. THAT is phenomenal news....because it is not at all us and totally ALL HIM!!!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bringing Heaven to Earth

When I was a wee lass, I took a life changing trek around the world.  I was 17.  I was alone.  I was terrified.  I sobbed for a majority of the flight.  I was so afraid.  I didn't want to go, actually.  I wanted to stay in high school, keep my blinders on, be a girl who kept on living in a bubble of western life.  God made me go.  You see, He echoed the words "Uganda" in my life, through people, through media...a place that I had never heard of before, it was know the only thing that I could think of.  I lived and breathed Uganda.  God placed a desire, a passion, a love, for ministering to children.  I never thought it was a gift.  I just knew that it was a passion that God only drilled deeply into me.

My first trek lead to another, much longer, month on end trip, which then led to another trip to Uganda and then to Rwanda and Sudan.  Life was never the same for that girl...over a span of 5 years, I had been to Africa 3 times...and my world was fully and completely rocked.  Some of the things that I saw and went through there cannot even be understood by others.  I have journal after journal full of struggles, pain, bliss, healing, love, restoration and so much more.  Uganda felt more like home to me than any place I have ever lived.  It will forever be the most treasured place to me.  Those memories find me in the most random moments...a thunder storm, the certain smell of something burning, the humidity, little moments with my own children...and those moments keep the longing to someday return alive.

Fast forward almost 10 years.  I'm a mom.  I have spent the better part of motherhood being ashamed that I was "just a mom."  I felt embarrassed every time someone asked me, "What do you do?"  Being a mom doesn't require a degree...lets be honest, it actually requires nothing.  So I spent year after year hating my job...longing for the day that I could actually do something worth while....something I could be proud of.  Now, if you have half a brain, you probably think, "Um you're a psycho not thinking clearly."  I wasn't.

One of the biggest, most amazing lessons that God has been revealing to me is what I am about to share.
And friends, I'm SO happy to be learning and loving this lesson.  For it is the most amazing lesson of all time.

Satan didn't want me to feel the passion that God gave me for children.  He wanted me to believe his daily lies...which kept me from being the woman God wanted me to be.  Paralyzed, hating the job that God had set before me, I just wallowed.  God didn't get the best version of husband and children got some of the worst versions of me.  Hearing and believing those lies....that I had no vision, no skills, no worth, they were effective falsehoods that cut me off at the knees.

There is a great ending to this is usually the case with God.  God has been slowly but surely teaching me to filter the lies, to take every thought captive, to peel away the blinders....and my memory has been foggy, but friends, it is as clear as can be now.  God reminded me that He placed a love for children on my heart.  He is as passionate about me as He wants me to be for His most beloved young ones.  That fire has been reignited...and it is burning so bright.  He has given me the best job(s) in the world.  I get to raise my children to know Truth.  To be passionate, generous, Glorify the Lord with all that they do.  I get to teach them how to be responsible, hard working, compassionate and loving.  Me.  I get that incredible honor.  God hand picked these incredible children just for me, to lead, teach, direct and love.  Its is an amazing gift.  And it has become the most important role to me.  Everything else is second to being a wife and mom....and me putting my family first is NOT missing out.  In fact, anything but putting them fully first (second only to God) is when I would be missing out.

You don't have to be a pastor, or a talented musician, or a fearless evangelist.  What do you do?  What do you like to do?  Do you like to cook?  Start finding people who need a little extra care and make them a meal.  Do you like children?  Go spend a weekend or two a month in your church's childrens ministry and bless parents who get to find healing in God's word because of you and your willingness to use what is in your hands.  Do you like to meet new people?  Volunteer at a homeless shelter, or minster to the hurting in another way.  These things are little....but they are earth shaking to the lives you will be touching.

When I found my amazing church, I was a broken, hurting, sad mom.  I hated myself.  I didn't want to live any more.  It was terribly dark.  I had given up on finding any freedom.  My awesome husband and lovely sister all but physically forced me to go to this awesome church, Pittsburgh East.  I went.  I didn't hate it.  I mean, after all, I got a break from my kids.  I went back....and you know what kept me coming....I got to leave my kids in the hands of loving, smiling people....and listen to the most healing messages I've ever heard.  That broken mommy, is now whole.  All because a few people gave their time, an hour or two a month to care for my that I could find the freedom that Jesus Christ wanted to give me.  So while it might have seemed to those caring for my kids like they were just wiping noses and calming a crying little is far beyond the truth.  It is because of them that I was able to find the loving, immeasurable compassionate healing that my great God had for me.

Use your talents...use what is in your hands.  God gave you those hands, as little as they might be, to fulfill what He has placed in your heart.  Don't count yourself out.  Serve Him.  Reach your out hands....and bring Heaven to Earth.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Response Is Always...

Sometimes in our lives, I think we sit here thinking, "Boy, I am really something.  I deserve a lot.  I have every right to be offended when people do inconsiderate things.  I have the right to live my life believing everything my emotions choose to tell me.  I will live my life doing what feels best for me."  I am the first one to admit that I live this way fight this off daily.  But lets be honest here....what a huge delusional disappointment.

Now, I believe that I have a purpose in this world.  It is to serve a God who gave everything for me, a God who looks at me, sees that even though I am SO flawed, His love is enough to cover it all.  He reaches out to me at every moment wanting to pour into me His love so that I can know beyond the shadow of a doubt that there is NOTHING in this world that can separate me from that Love, knowing full well that if I allow myself to even experience that kind of Love for a moment, my whole life cannot be lived the same...because that Love will fill me in a way that every hole in me will be filled and I will, in turn, overflow at every moment with this unexplainable, immeasurable, never ending, cant-be-earned Love.  That is my experience this Love and pour it out onto everyone around me.

What does that look like?  Well, in my marriage it looks like- no matter how irritating, inconsiderate, and rude my husband might be, my response is always...Love.  No matter how many times I get my pretty little feelings hurt, my response is always...Love.  No matter how many times I don't feel listened to, loved, respected, heard, my response is still...Love.  Can you imagine what this would look like?  Can you imagine, if my response was always this kind of Love, how transformational this would be?  Can you imagine the testament to Love that this would be to our children, our friends, our family?  In a world that tells us we have to right to feel however we want, that we can believe every lie our emotions tell us to believe, that we are entitled to all of that, this reprogramming is not easy.  In fact, its often a moment by moment battle.  But the looming question of "Can you imagine what that kind of Love in your marriage would look like?" it keeps me fighting like my life depends on it (because actually, its does) to be filled and fill others with the most incredible, all consuming, undeserved Love.

I think my marriage is the hardest place to apply this.  It is the area tested the most, for me.  Second is my relationships with my children.  I know that there are times when Im THE WORST example of this kind of Love.  THE WORST!!!  When I have shut off the valve that allows Gods love to freely flow into me, everyone around me suffers.  I am learning how to quickly forgive, reconcile  and change...beating myself up, withholding mercy, it only escalates the damaging cycle.  Im learning that truly accepting the Love of Jesus on a daily basis looks like me loving freely, unconditionally, remembering that I do not have the right to be constantly offended and entitled...and when I fall short, (just like when others do) that open door of mercy never closes.  And every time I think of closing it on myself or others, I'm turning the valve that keeps that Love of God from overflowing out of me.

I used to think it was so hard to forgive myself for being, um, a human.  But Im realizing how much more effective it is for me to quickly forgive myself and others....because anything else is just robbery....stealing away every bit of Joy, Love and Blessing that God wants to pour into me endlessly.

Oh how he loves up, receive it, and once you do, you will KNOW, there is no other way in the world to respond to His love, other than living your whole life pouring that very Love into the lives of others....because there is no other response.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Dinner Dilemma (Part 4)

It took me 5 minutes to make last Mondays meal...and I did it at 10am!!

3-4 frozen organic chicken breasts
1 bottle of Wildtree Slow Cooker Sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Leave it in the crockpot for about 6 hours, stirring/forking it occasionally until it all falls apart and then serve on buns.

Im IN LOVE with my new system of meal making.  I love that I really picked meals that were easy, with few ingredients, that taste yummy.  Its the best possible way for me to stick with it.  I want to add in a few other recipes but I think sticking to this basic idea is really going to help me stay strong.  I might be dreaming, and I will have to sit down and crunch exact numbers, but I definitely feel like we have saved money and I KNOW we have saved a lot of time.

Now, that "hell hour" that I was speaking of, well, the kids still act the same....but I have a calmness about me.  Because I have plan of attack.  I don't feel like I too am flailing about.  I know that dinner will be made in less than a half of an hour....and I can totally deal with that.

I am currently coming with with a chore/responsibility plan for our home....which I can't wait to get into place.  Do you use something like this?  If so, tell me about it.  Is there anything you love/hate about it?

And, lastly, God has been dealing so heavily with my heart.  I love it and also, its not easy.  :)  I can't wait to bring it all together and share.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Shiloh Selah Love

Shiloh is the best little thing on earth.  We had a rough start, but we really are falling more and more in love with each other each took 3 years, but Im fully seeing the promise that God made to me when I found out she was a girl unfolding before me at lightening speed.  I was so scared to have a little girl.  I just don't feel like "girl mom" material.  God promised me that the baby in my womb was perfectly hand picked for me....and that baby was going to teach me more than I could ever imagined.  I was so scared to be her mom.  But here I am, and Shiloh is a great teacher.  She is the best little buddy to hang out with.  She does everything with me.  She talks to me while I do my chores.  She helps me with everything!!  She is a rockstar at house hold chores. She can vacuum, put dishes away, clean and organize like no ones business...and can almost do laundry from start to finish.  She is also the electricity patrol....the other ady she got sent to time out and almost had a panic attack because she didn't turn her light off and electricity was just sitting there wasting away for 3 whole minutes.  Its kind of hysterical.  She is such a neat, to a fault...cough, me, cough.  She is SO funny.  The things that come out of her mouth crack me up.  She loves talking in what we like to call a Kardashian accent.  "Haaayyyy, Mommmmay....I Laaaveee  Yaaaaaou...ohhh kaaaaayyyy."  It is SO funny. The other day she said, "Mommy, Im so big now....I don't lick things anymore!!!  Just you, and me...and no more licking anything else.  That means I'm big."  Ahh, I remember the day when I stopped licking things...oh, no I don't.  She has the most wild fashion preferences...I love it.  Everyday I look forward to seeing the color and pattern explosion that she puts on.  She loves making "set up's"...which is basically taking tons of tiny things (cars, princesses, little people) and setting them up in a doll house or on the floor  Everything has a place (in her head) and they are always very strategically and thoughtfully arranged.  She loves to dance.  She loves cheese and yo-grit (yogurt).  She wants to be touched all of the time- hand held, face touched, legs touching when we are sitting.  She will let you stare into her eyes and smile lovingly at her for ages.  Its precious (and a little awkward haha).  She misses her California Gramma every day and talks about playing Barbies with her to almost everyone we see.  She loves doing crafts and wrapping fake presents for people.  The list goes on of all her funny little quirks and passions.  I just love getting to know her...and I love falling deeper in love with her every day.

*Photo Credit to

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Dinner Dilemma (Part 3)

The way we work our budget, every two weeks, we fill our envelopes once I have my grocery cash in hand,  Im off to the store.  So I picked out 10 meals for the next two weeks.  Once I figured out what we are having on which day, I listed the things that I didn't already have in stock at home that we still need go out and shop for.  I made sure that I am making the easiest stuff (And stuff that could be eaten in the car if necessary) on nights that my biggy boy has Karate.  Here is what I came up with:

Week 1

BBQ Chicken and Sweet Potato Fries


Hot Sauce

Spaghetti And Garlic Toast

Burgers and Roasted Potatoes

Week 2

Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken

Eggs, Hash Browns and Toast

Artichoke and Red Pepper Pasta

Pizza and Apple Sauce
(sub coconut flour)
Apple Sauce

Free day!!! sooo...

Sloppy Joes, Fries and (box) Mac and Cheese (for the kids)
Box Mac and Cheese

Im going to make my grocery list according to the things that I still need to buy and Im going to do everything that I can to stick to it. I have a marker board that I may write it all out on or I might find something a little more crafty and cute (Any ideas???) so that each week, it is staring me in the face and if I deviate, hubby and the kids will know!!

I used to do meal planning once upon a time...but I was never great at it. I really tried to start simple but I would LOVE to hear what you do, how you make it work, your process, and how you stick to it. Excited for the week of yummy dinners!!!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Dinner Dilemma (Part 2)

Weekends are SO busy for me.  Hubby works the first half of the day, then Biggy Boy has drum lessons and then I race off to work for a few ours.  Sunday, we  basically spend the whole day from morning to night, with a little break in between, at church.  It is an awesome thing to be apart of.  We love it, but weekends are busy.

I wanted to make sure I at least did a little bit of prep for this whole dinner dilemma that I am in.  I made a VERY simple list of weeknight meals.  I want to make sure that I start off simple while I am still getting the hang of this.  I wont be doing anything fancy at all just yet.  Remember, the purpose of this is to ease some of the stress that causes "Killer Hour" to be, well, a killer.  I have five categories   Chicken, Beef, Vegetarian  Breakfast For Dinner, and Pasta.  I just listed 4 meals under each category and put where I can find the recipe next to it.  I still have a LOT to do but I don't want to be at a complete loss when I start my shopping on Monday.  So here is what I have so far. 

Chicken Meals
Fried Chicken
BBQ Chicken- Pinterest
Chicken- Friend
Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken - 6 sisters (pinterest)

Beef Meals
Sloppy Joes

Artichoke/red pepper pasta
Mac and Cheese- Friend

Easy Vegitarian
Soup- Corn Potato

Breakfast For Dinner
Eggs, Turkey Bacon
Eggs, Hash Browns, Toast

What I plan to do is create some sort of calendar so that each weeknight is filled up with meals and then make my grocery lists from there. I will keep you updates on my process. Feel free to share what you do for meals and any tips....cause, boy, could I use them!

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Dinner Dilemma (Part 1)

We all have that "What the heck do I feed my kids???" dilemma.  I have been struggling lately.  Everyone is so picky and Im just SO not a fan of making 209348995 variations for each person every meal.  Im trying out some new things so see what I can do to create more a more peaceful dinner time at out house.  Im going to report back with my final plan once I perfect it.  But for now, I will leave you with an amazing video by on a few easy changes you can make to keep your family healthy.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Being a mom of two and the wife of a hard working husband who is gone about 60 hours a week can be, at the very least, exhausting.  I have been having a slight pity party for myself because I don't have the freedom or money to get out of the house with my girlfriends or go on date nights with Will like I used to.  Part of me feels really sad about that but on the flip side, if I am able to go out, I find guilt creeping up because I don't get to see hubby or big boy as much as I would like because of work and school.  Its an interesting  predicament that left me searching for an answer to finding the right balance in my head and heart.

My last post posed the question, "How do you tame the beast at the roughest hour of your day?" or something of that sort.  No matter how hard we, as moms try, there are still those moments that you handle wrongly, because we are, after all, imperfect people.  I started examining what triggers all of us at the time and making a mental note of the things that I thought I could do differently to maintain patience and also handle frustration in a way that I want my children to be able to model.

The morning after I wrote my previous blog, I started de-cluttering my life...and by my life, I mean my kids playroom!  I would like to state that I got rid of 6 garbage bags full of stuff, and Im pretty impressed with the way it looks.  We could stand to get rid of another 6 bags, Im sure.  I think Im going to have "Give Away Saturdays" where we, as a family, get rid of a bag of stuff together, once a week.  Anyway...Im getting distracted.  While cleaning out the playroom, I picked up a book that my mom gave me that I had never even opened up.  It is 2 books in 1.  The Power Of A Positive Mom and The Power Of A Positive Woman.  I opened it up and started reading the first chapter....and wow.  I can't even tell you how much it spoke to me.

Instantly this book starts to address the tendency of moms to feel as if being a mom, or home maker, or whatever you choose to call it, is such a low-on-the-totem-pole job.  "What do you do?"  "Oh, Im just a mom"...I know I feel foolish when a professional asks me what I do.  Like, Im a loser who doesnt have a job and has no skills.  The author then talks about how we, as a society have kind of shifted to believe some very damaging myths that can penetrate to the core of a mothers heart.

The first myth is mothers don't really influence a child as much as peers or genetics, etc.  Moms DO have a powerful impact on the development of their children.  As a mom, it is my job to instill values and scripture and character qualities that will be imprinted on their hearts for all of time.  The second myth is that motherhood causes women to miss out on the exciting things in life.  This is the one that resonated with me the most because I totally feel like this sometimes.  We are bombarded with messages that tell us that we should look out for ourselves, improve ourselves above all else, take care of #1 first, at any cost.  Thinking like that can really make the selflessness of motherhood seem like its not a worthy investment of our time and effort and that can make us feel inadequate, basically saying that if we are attentive mothers who give up a lot, we are missing out on life.  But that is such a lie.  The author put it beautifully, "Life begins with motherhood.  What could be more invigorating, more life-giving, than a house full of teenagers wanting to be fed or a handful of toddlers playing hide and seek or a new born baby waiting to be held?"  These are all things that not just anyone can be apart of and being someone who can mold, shape and nurture her children, is not someone that is missing out.

Debunking these myths really made me realize a couple of things.  First of all, it is (obviously) ok to miss my kids when we are apart.  Second, it is ok to miss being able to go out with friends.  But the most important thing that I realized was, this season in my life is very different from the last one.  It doesn't offer me what I used to have....but it offers me something else.  It offers me the invaluable experience of being home with my children everyday, doing their homework with the,, running them to and from karate and dance, making dinner for them, reading to them every night and being there as they fall asleep.  And THAT, my friends, is NOT missing out on anything.  (but Im also very thankful for friends that still make me a priority and love me even though we don't get to spend as much time together as we used to. xoxo)

Now...I'll give you one guess what chapter 2 of the book was about. Its kinda crazy! haha.  But it was about surviving "Killer Hour" -the time of day where everyone, including mom, is tired, hungry, and needy.  Her suggestions were pretty simple.  remember that no perfect mom exists- don't be discourage by your weaknesses, instead be determined to build on your strengths. Take one day at a time- don't pile your plate too full, prioritize, dump things that repeatedly cause unnecessary stress in your life.  Write a personal mission statement- prayerfully consider the purpose God has given us, declaring what we believe  our lives should be about can be a helpful guide when we are trying to tame the beast.  Plug Into The Power Source- When we do not plug into our power source (our amazing God) we will, no doubt, have dead batteries.  When we are plugged into our God, He can pour His strength, love and holy attributes into us, which will then flow out of us onto our family.

Id say those were some pretty great answers to some questions that were weighing very heavy on my heart.  God is so faithful to give abundantly more than we could ever ask for. thankful for His unending love and the his faithfulness in answering when we ask of Him.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Today, Online Church Fought The Beast ;)

Im not sure about you, but when 4 o'clock rolls around, I feel the inner beast within start to growl a little.  It doesn't take much for me to let out an audible roar every now and then.  Today, I am still very much under the California jet lag spell.  I had to get Solomon off to school by 7:40 today.  That alarm went off at 6:15 and I am pretty sure I threw an inner tantrum.  It was painful to get out of bed.  I got coffee brewing, washed my face with ice cold water and started packing a lunch, making breakfast and ditching some of the zombie remnants that was whispering to me, "get back in bed" haha.  We made it.  He was off to school on time.  I came home, worked on the volunteer schedule for children's ministry and sent out some emails.  Then I started nursing cup of coffee numero dos, got dressed, cleaned the kitchen and caught up with a friend I hadn't seen in 50 billion years (yeah, that's a LONG time).  Then I was off to Trader Joes for some organic grass fed beef and organic free range chicken.  Its a 45 minute drive.  It was a quick trip (and in country girl language that means it only took me 3 hours).  I came home, unloaded and put away groceries, looked at the enormous pile of luggage that is still fully unpacked, and turned the other way.  I played with Shiloh for a few minutes, then had to go get Solomon from school.  We got back in the house, and then started the after school routine.  Who's with me?  I empty the backpack, sort through a PILE of papers, figure out homework for the night, sign all the things I need to sign etc.  Today was cray cray. Because he missed 3 days last week, he has about 25 worksheets and papers of make up work.  Oh my, how will we ever finish. He had some defrag time with his current favorite TV show- old school Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  He asked me to sit with him for a few minutes and no joke, I fell asleep in about 3 minutes.  I woke up about 10 minutes later to some sort of war between the two loving was chasing the other with scissors...mommy of the year, yeah.  We worked out the kerfuffle which was over who got to open the bag of cashews.  The inner beast may or may not have made its daily debut to handle that situation. ;)

I sat beside them for a little longer wondering how I was going to muster up the strength and patience to make it until after bedtime.  I still had dinner to make, baths to give, a ton of homework to do with the boy, and bedtime.  Hubby dearest wont be home til 8.  It seemed like a slightly impossible task. I took a deep breath and just prayed that God would allow me to access the strength that I know He has already given me in order to be a mother who isn't, well, a beast :)

I logged on to my amazing church's website, Pittsburgh East Community Church, and listened to the live worship from this past weekend.  While broccoli was steaming, noodles were boiling, one child dilly dallied in the bath forever, the other threw a massive fit in the playroom, i kept my cool.

Currently, little is in the bath and big boy is finishing up homework.  Dinner is over.  We are half way there.

But....I don't always keep my cool.  How do you stay patient at the end of these long mommy days?  I'm alone a lot because hubs works super long hours.  Just tonight, I was supposed to go get some girl time in but had to back out because of his work load.  He is such a hard worker.  Its amazing...and an honor to be his wife, lemme tell yah! But, still, I do start to run a little, uh, rough, at the end of the day.  So I'd love to hear what you do to keep yourself calm and patient, gentle and quiet...all while rearing those precious little ones of yours.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Little In A Big World

We spent a lot of time watching home videos while we were home for Christmas these pass two weeks.  I grew up in SUCH a simple life.  My parents were the epitome of sacrifice.  My dad drove an old beater for most of my life just so that we could go to Christian school.  My mom made homemade Easter baskets out of brown grocery bags for us.  We got 1-2 Christmas presents each, which we usually shared.  One of the home videos we watched was over Easter.  I was 12.  Inside my Easter basket was a hand puppet.  Thats it.  I was overjoyed to receive it.  Really?  A 12 year old loving a hand puppet?  I can almost guarantee that if I bought that for my 6 year old today, he would complain, or not even want it.

Will and I can look back now and see that we had great intentions, but we WAY overdid it.  They have SO MUCH stuff.  They always get so much stuff.  And its at the point now, where they just don't even care about receiving because its never enough.  I actually nearly fell over because one of them uttered "Thats all we get?  Three presents??? Ugh" as we opened gifts at the grandparents house.  Are you kidding me?  We obviously had a BIG talk about it but I want it to sink in.  I'm not sure I know how to accurately get this lesson across.  I think I have given them the wrong message in their life so far.  I want to reverse this.  I want them to be passionate lovers of Jesus, first and foremost, and then because of that intense love overflow, I want them to be fiercely giving and generous.

We got SO little as kids (compared to now-a-days -oldie alert, who says nowadays???? haha) and we still were so thankful.  We always looked forward to Christmas but we never felt entitled to receive certain gifts or have certain lists fulfilled.  I mean, I definitely remember going over to friends houses who had so much more than us and wishing for what they had.  But it didn't shape my whole world.  I want that for my kids.  I want to drown out the noise.

So Im looking for ideas and input.  How do you teach these things to your children?  What are some ideas for teaching them to be grateful and appreciative in a world that teaches us to always want more?  We live in a big world, where being a minimalist is SO hard, but how do you drown out the noise, and fill them with what is important?  I can't wait for your feedback!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Best Beginning Ever...

2012 has ended in the best imaginable way for our family.  My sweet dad blessed us beyond belief by flying us home to So Cal for Christmas and New Years.  The last time we were able to spend Christmas with our family here was 2008 so it was MUCH needed.  We arrived a few days before Christmas.  My mom and stepdad saved all the tree and home decorating for my kids to be able to do with them.  They got to decorate the tree, help with the outside decor, made an enormous gingerbread house from scratch, made and decorated cupcakes, and helped prepare our Christmas meal.  The day before Christmas Eve, we went with my dad and stepmom to go get family photos take.  It was hysterical!!!  We got some great ones and we also got to show who we really are in some of them.  See what I mean??? hahaha

The Best

We spent a delightful Christmas Eve at my dad and stepmoms house.  The kids were lavished in love and attention and nothing makes me happier.  It was SUCH a great time.  Christmas was spent at my mom and stepdads with the whole family.  We had a delish meal and sooo much fun family time.  We ended the night an my aunt and uncles house.  It was SO great to have so much fun family time.

We all got some narley cold virus that kept us in the house for way more than usual, but it was so great to have so much more down time than we normally have on visits.  We have spent a ton of time playing games, watching super old episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians with my sister, watching hilarious old movies, and just laughing and hanging out together.  I love it here.  I love my family SO very much.

New Years was spent with these wild party animals!!!  We played Battle of the Sexes for 3 hours and even my youngest brother skyped in from India to join the fun.

We LOVE coming and visiting.  It is seriously the best.  I had a friend from where we live now say that seeing the picture of us with our family is like seeing a whole new we all look complete.  And that is how we feel.  Most times, when we arrive back to the east coast, its a hard adjustment because we miss our sweet family so much.  This trip, I feel an incredible peace that I haven't felt in the past 4 years of living so far away from them.  I feel so blessed that God has allowed me to have such an incredible visit with my family and has taught me how to feel the joy of going back home, there, to our family, friends and our incredible church.  I feel a joy that only comes from a healing God who has so patiently and gently taught me that He is in control and that He loves me and knows what is best for me.  He has us living where we live for such a great purpose and that is finally being revealed fully to me.  I love His goodness and His great promise that He will always hold us in the palm of his hand.  This amazing year is starting off in the presence of the greatest family on earth and we will soon be returning home to one of the best lives that I could ever ask for.  God is so great.  And I am fully and richly blessed beyond words!