Thursday, February 23, 2012


It's been a rough week and a half.  We had the flu run through our Brood which thankfully baby and I did NOT get. . . . FYI - prayers work!  Then recovering the house, mess, routine has been a sort of slow go.  Then still, add in issues with toddler discipline - which is starting to become all too consuming - and sleep deprivation from Nattie Bear deciding to wake in the middle of the night and not fall back asleep for a couple of hours at a time.  I'm exhausted and at the end of my rope.  I'd like to say that I prayed, trusted God and all is made right.  But it isn't.  I pray but relief doesn't come this time.  Trusting God?  I'm trying but even that is hard lately. 

Ephesians 4:1 (NLT) says "Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God."  

My calling?  I thought my calling was to be here, home with my kids to help them and myself grow in our faith, love for each other and others around us, start a new and healthy family legacy.  But feeling tired, frustrated and overwhelmed (the negative mom trinity) are surely the antithesis to this calling.  The negative mom trinity is quick to steal joy and covert in discouraging.  But I need to get back on track.  Instead of being pushed away, I need to come closer - to the Father and those that seem to cause me distress.  It's not that simple.  Sin and brokeness being a factor distorts that. 

Really, it's all about perspective.  My calling is here at home with my family - whether I'm 'feeling it' or not.  I can't lose sight of that!  However, I don't want to sugarcoat things and give a Christian bubble gum pop answer that it will all be ok.  It may not.  I may keep dealing with some of these struggles and it may get worse before it gets better.  Only God knows the outcome on the other side of the tapestry. . . I just have to refine my patience, be more humble and wait for His results. ♥

Ephesians 3:20 (NLT): "Now glory be to God!  By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope."

This is a great video from Francis Chan which shows how small we really are in the grand scheme of God's creation.  It's humbling and at the same time truly awe inspiring to see that God is still so invested in us and loves us desite our flaws and despite our 'smallness'.  Great way to help me keep some Spiritual Perspective today. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Not Your Average Valentine's Day

How about some Valentine’s Day statistics to start out:

  • Avg. V-Day spending – approx. $126-ish
  • Top gift is jewelry, second is eating out
  • First Hallmark V-Day card in 1918
 *some from WILX news and some from this site*

Needless to say, my Valentine’s got off to a rocky start and didn’t look like the above.  It started w/a sleep deprived Monday night due to the flu visiting our house starting Sat. night into today . . . . in which I have yet to catch - *cross fingers*  Needless to say, I’m about done with the Broods bodily fluids, LOL!   Then add to that the fact that S-Money$ and I totally didn’t realize that I had a dentist appt. on Valentine’s Day – oh joy!  Well, not really the end of the world but surely not the overflow of celebration/festivities that the majority would plan having the dental chic pick at my teeth.    

But you know what, it was still one of the best Valentine’s Days yet for me - probably because our day didn’t fit the status-quo and average statistic.  We like when that happens.  J

  • Avg. V-Day spending - $126  è  S-Money$ and I spent $5 each for a total of $10
  • Top two V-Day gifts – jewelry/eating out  è  Our top two gifts:
    His favorite candy and the meds are an inside joke - tehehe
    **My gifts were a crispy ckn caesar wrap & value fry from Wendy’s Monday night along with 2 sausage McMuffins for breakfast on V-Day. . . . . . baby and I didn’t wait for a pic before we devoured!  YES, I'm easy to please - just feed the preggo lady!! *wink*
  • Giving a V-Day card  è  We don’t do cards and if we do, we make them homemade w/the kids.  This year because of all the sickies, we didn’t get that far.
  • Our V-Day dinner was simple - pancakes w/strawberry sauce & whip cream and bacon on the side - YUM!

How was your Valentine's Day?  Before you answer, consider this phrase from the intro paragraph in the NewsWeek V-Day statistics article (emphasis mine):

A day of love and frustration, of proposals and breakups. A day of jewelry and candy and unmet expectations. Exalted by some, loathed by others, but inevitable to all.
That's really what it boils down to - a decision. Getting jewelry, a dozen or two of roses, going out to eat, being lavish on this Valentine's Day isn't wrong - but it does depend on where your heart is. Is your heart in the gift, in what you want or is your heart with the one you are giving to? It's not that S-Money$ and I are specifically setting out to go against the uber-consumerist monster that is otherwise known as 'Valentine's Day'. . . . OK, maybe a little. But really, we just made a conscious choice to do less so we could focus more on positive things - not frustrations from unmet expectations brought on by self-made entitlement. Oh, plus I loathe overpriced flowers that will die in less than a week - just sayin'. Our decision helped make the day different than average.
So I hope everyone had a great Valentine's Day filled with plenty of 'not-your-average' moments as well!  :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Handling Forgiveness

This idea popped into my head while discussing some biblical issues with my daughter awhile back. Her non-Christian friend commented that since God gave us free will then we are free to make a choice and it's 'all good' - with a controversial topic being discussed.   Perplexed as my daughter was, she couldn't think of a response at that moment so she asked me later.   I told her that yes & no regarding the whole issue of free will and choice.   We are given free will to choose.   We can choose what's right or wrong, truth or untruth, God or the world.    But when it comes down to God's word and how we are to live, there are many instances where we DON'T get a choice!   Period!   No gray area!   You believe or you don't!   You are either the tree that bares good fruit or bad fruit.  We can't pick some things out of the bible to follow and then discard the rest.

"If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself." - Augustine

There are so many instances in life and what we see daily that can fall in line with the above quote, such as. . . .
  • I can't say I believe in God's blessings of wealth, prosperity and then discard where he says we are to look after the poor (and don't forget orphans/widows) - Matthew 19:20-24
  • I can't say I believe in the sanctity of marriage and then bail when we hit a rocky path (note today's approx. 50% divorce rate) - Matthew 5:31-32
  • I can't say I believe that children are a blessing but then say that the kids I have are enough, don't bless me anymore God! - Psalm 127: 3-5
  • I can't say I believe that Jesus was persecuted and died for me yet I don't think as a Christian I am subject to any level of discomfort for my faith - Mark 8:34-38
  • And this one being the hardest for me . . . . I can't say that I believe God has forgiven me yet I don't feel someone else is worthy of forgiveness - Luke 17:3, Matthew 6:14-15
Yes, we are to rebuke out of love hoping to achieve repentance so we can forgive and restore the relationship but we live in a broken world.  Evil exists and it's real as it manifests in the hearts of so many.  I've struggled with what forgiveness is supposed to look like then if I don't get repentance from someone.  Max Lucado, in his book Cast of Characters, had an idea. . . .
"To forgive someone is to admit our limitations. We've been given only one piece of life's jigsaw puzzle. Only God has the cover of the box. To forgive someone is to display reverence. Forgiveness is not saying the one who hurt you was right. Forgiveness is stating that God is fair and he will do what is right. After all, don't we have enough things to do without trying to do God's work too?"
So this got me thinking of things that I've also been dealing with emotionally in my life recently.  And the question occurred to me - Do I have a choice to forgive those who have hurt me and continue to spread hurt or not?   Yes.  No.  I don't get a choice.  I am to forgive.  Then I can be free to let God do the rest with the other party involved.  Forgiving someone who's wronged me is for me; not always them.  It's saying I forgive for the past while also saying that from this point forward I'm a new person.  What was done before will not be acceptable now.  A chasm in the relationship has occurred with a new beginning.  No longer allowing abuse.  Yes, Forgiveness is for me. 
For me personally, the idea of forgiveness has been a struggle.  How do I forgive someone who is blatantly unrepentant and set on continuing to emotionally harm/hurt others?  This has led to researching what forgiveness is NOT. . . . .

Forgiveness is NOT approving or diminishing the sin done against me, it's NOT enabling those who keep doing wrong, it's NOT denying what was done, it does NOT need an apology back, it's NOT about forgetting or ceasing to feel the pain, it may NOT be a one-time occurrence, it leaves room for justice, it does NOT automatically extend trust back to those who damaged our trust, and most importantly. . . . forgiveness IS NOT always about reconciliation.

*Thnx to Mark Driscoll's blog posting on Forgiveness at Mars Hill*

*This post taken from my previous blog - wanted to repost here*

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Grocery Budget Challenge

Ok, I am not very organized at the moment so I don't have all of my receipts nearby. . . Wait!  Thank goodness for our investment in Quicken.  Now we can breakdown our receipts and better track what we're spending on groceries.  We did do the 'cash' method for a bit but with the start of 2012 we are changing methods to avoid carting a lump of cash for the purpose of feeding The Brood. 

Well, I'll just get to the point and give a synopsis of how January went. . . . We were over-budget!  You could sort of see the trend based on how we fared on the first pay in Jan.  I didn't get a chance to post the break-down for S-Money$'s second pay this month but needless to say our total spent this month was approximately $525 ==> which put us at $125 over-budget for Jan. . . Yikes!

This still begs the question of how much is enough to feed our family since not all of the $125 overage was due to strictly feeding The Brood.  We also had a couple of hospitality get-togethers at our place and elsewhere.  Really, we just happen to be a growing and HUNGRY family, lol!  Since our budget is very thin, there isn't always room to include extras, account for shortages or 'hospitality' without reassessing the overall budget and seeing where we can either make cuts or move funds around.  My hypothesis is that we will need to increase our monthly budgeted amount at some point . . . . . just don't know how much yet and the best place to pull from.  *pondering*

Today is payday again and I'll be starting the budget challenge for February, still going on the $200/pay - then reassess at the end of the month to notate any trends, shortages, overages, etc.  So keep any tips, tricks, low-cost recipes, etc. coming this way to share with me and others! 

But in the meantime, I want to keep things in perspective.  No matter what it seems like we don't have, God reminds me that all we need is enough - which is something I need to be reminded as I make out my grocery list.  This blessing of enough has been illustrated to me on several occasions with a surprise visit by my mother-in-law coming out and treating us with dinner when we happen to be low on groceries, finding a new recipe that uses what's left in the cupboards and avoiding extra expenses, or even finding $5 in my pocket by surprise which enables me to get milk/eggs/or bread for the week.

See, God has always provided to give us enough - blessing us through His own generosity and through the generosity of others.   Proverbs 30:7-9 is a GREAT reminder of God's provision.  Here's a video of Francis Chan explaining just what this verse means to him as well.  I dare myself, and YOU, to say this prayer and help strengthen each other as we strive to live it!

Proverbs 30:7-9
7 O God, I beg two favors from you before I die.
8 First, help me never to tell a lie.  Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!  Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
9 For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, "Who is the Lord?" And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God's holy name.

Linked to: 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Can I Love Like This??

I've been participating in a bible study on facebook that delves into the book of Ephesians.  It's associated with Good Morning Girls if you'd like to check out the website.  :)

One of the sections for reading this week comes from chapt. 2, verses 4-5 which I have shared below:

Ephesians 2:4-5 (NIV)
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." 

I am by no means a bible scholar and couldn't tell you what anything means in Greek, Hebrew, etc. but I love reading verses like this.  They give us a glimpse into the great inner workings of the Father and for me, they propose a challenge.  It may seem pretty straight forward. . . . God loves us, has mercy on us and saved us through Christ.  Cool.  Done & off to the next verse, right?  But what about this love??  When you read the bible, at some point it should sink in that God's love for us is different than what we view as love. defined love as this below (only took the first 4 definitions) and initially lists it as a noun:

1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
3. sexual passion or desire.
4. a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.
To many of us in this society, that's exactly how love is.  It's just a noun that describes a 'feeling' of passion, affection, attachment, or desire for someone.  But 'feelings' aren't sustaining.  How many marriages/relationships fail because the people involved 'fell' out of love or just don't 'feel' love towards the other person??  This description of love can fade and change over time.  That can't possibly be how the Father feels for us?  There has to be a deeper dynamic that we are missing. 

When I read the bible, especially the Gospels and see Jesus at work, I tend to view love as more of an action; a verb.  Love does something, makes us alive, gives something, heals us, sacrifices something, submits to authority and saves us.  All actions; not nouns.  Plus it is an unconditional love.  God does for us and gave the gift of salvation through Christ not because we deserved it, not because we are 'good' enough, not even because we are entitled to it.  But because of his grace and mercy, he loves us unconditionally and wants to redeem us back to him - how awesome!!
But the challenge in this verse for me is. . . . . can I love like that?  Can I embody this type of love to others that the Father has for me?  That his Son had for me when he died on the cross? 

How about showing this type of love during the trite annoyances in my day - like when my husband offends me, my kids disobey me, the cashier is rude to me?  Sure, those things are not too hard to deal with and we pick our battles right?  We love our spouses, kids and can be forgiving of a stranger who may be having a bad day.  Problem solved! 

But what about the more difficult trials in life that we may face.  Can I love a friend that has abandoned me?  What about someone who I know has used me/taken from me?  Or one of my current struggles. . . . Can I love those family members that have forsaken me and continue to lie/gossip about me in an effort to cover their own misdoings? 

See, now it's not so cut and dry is it?  That's why it's a challenge.  And to be honest, I don't have this love in me most days.  Not when the pain is too deep.  Not when the hurt is fresh.  But without this type of love, there can be no set action meant to change the course of our own sin and destruction.  For those who are hurt, there can be no action towards forgiveness and healing.  Without action there can be no progress.  Without progress, we are simply left in our own transgressions.  Separated from God.

Can I love like this; like the Father has loved us?  No I can't. . . . . at least not on my own.  But I can love like this with prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit to guide me and change my heart.  :)

**This post linked to:   The Straightened Path blog