Tuesday, December 29

ugh

The pukies are upon us - Aaron has succumbed, and I have some sort of respiratory bug. Not how we planned to spend our holiday break, but I certainly am glad that there are two of us around.

I will blog again, eventually.

Tuesday, December 22

The Christmas Story

After supper, before cleanup, we had Aaron tell the story.

Despite the dirty face, it was too cute not to post.

MERRY CHRISTMAS from our family to yours!!

Monday, December 21

Works of God Monday


Well, it's Monday morning and I'm up before the kids sipping coffee, reading the rest of Colossians and being thankful for another day!

Yesterday, Michael and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary - it's been the best six years of our lives! I'm so grateful for a godly husband who loves and honors God, and who, by God's grace, has been a perfect match for me. For the record, I'm still totally in love with him. Smitten, actually. And I don't take for granted God's work of grace in blessing us with a happy marriage.

We've been watching God provide blessing after bonus blessing the past few weeks - $50 from an unexpected source, generous gifts from parents of some of the teens we work with - it's overwhelming to be the recipients of such love. I've been blessed with a great few months of Pampered Chef sales, and it's been great to watch God grow my business - it is obviously all of HIM!

So, what has God been showing you about Himself this week? How has He been at work in your family?

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the Mister Linky widget below, simply type your name in the top box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the link from your specific "Works of God Monday" post. If you don't have a blog, use the comment section! Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like.





Friday, December 18

woosh

and there went the week.

It's been anything but silent here. I typed up a works of God Monday post and it got eaten by my computer.

I was SO not in the mood for a computer issue, but I had to laugh at the irony of my bad mood in light of the post topic - I had some sort of stomach bug wake me up mid-sleep early Monday morning and was totally out of commission all day, sleeping while Michael stayed home from work. Tuesday I was half-better, and trying to wrap up my Pampered Chef shows for December, Wednesday I was rushing around getting ready for our youth group party and trying to feel better. Thursday was crazier than I can even say - and I was cleaning and doing projects in timer-induced 20-minute intervals. In between draining sessions of discipline.

Needless to say, I didn't make the time to blog.

And now it's Friday night. Michael just called to tell me he wasn't quite on his way home from his job, currently with a 1-hour commute. AND he's feeling pukey like I was on Monday, poor guy.

SO THANKFUL for God's grace and encouragement through His Word. I'm reading through Colossians right now - awesome.

Tuesday, December 15

Aaron Declares His Love (the Sunday School Christmas Program)



Aaron is quite enamored with his teacher, and the little
sweetheart in the row ahead of him. Watch out, world!

And the big exit.

Thursday, December 10

short on ornaments?

I forget where I first saw this idea for dried orange slices as ornaments, but I absolutely LOVE how it brightens up my tree and gives a little homespunniness (new word! yay!) to the decor. Bonus - totally harmless if eaten.

I'm all about homemade ornaments - which is good, since I'm sure I'll be getting some from my offspring in years to come. One year I was semi-in charge of the big tree at Northland and we had all the faculty/staff kids make ornaments for the tree. Certain People thought it looked tacky, but they are the types of people who color coordinate their ornaments. Weirdos. *grin* Really, it was charming. I loved it. We did popcorn garlands and everything.

I sliced these oranges thin - shy of 1/4 inch - and put them on a cookie sheet on "warm" for a couple hours, flipping them halfway through. Made the house smell delightful! Then I poked a hole and strung them with red ribbons.

I only did one orange, which yielded about 8 or 9 slices. I think I'll do one more tomorrow - my tree "needs" more homemade charm.

isn't this the case?

So, I always find the cutest, yummiest ideas when I've renewed my "say no to sugar" vows. Even during my post-Thanksgiving sugar withdrawal, I love to go drool over at Bakerella...have you seen these?? They were posted last year about this time. I just love those cute little Santa hats!

I've always been a sucker for all things miniature. I won't tell you which second grade classmate of mine and I had a ball making "mini" versions of all our classroom crafts, unbeknownst to our teacher. (all the other kids took FOR.EV.ER to finish their crafts!!) I'd sure hate to embarrass him.

So anyway, if I had enough time (uninterrupted) I would definitely try to make some of these little cute cake pops for friends and family for Christmas!! Do you have any fun homemade Christmas presents in the works this year?

We do, and when I say "we" I mean Michael. Stay tuned for the after-Christmas reveal!

Wednesday, December 9

happiest of birthdays

Well, I look sleep deprived and double chinned

because I am - and was, when the photo was taken (this Thanksgiving)

but Grandma looks beautiful, because she is.

Inside and out.

Happy 79th birthday, Grandma Pat! I love you!

Monday, December 7

Works of God Monday

God is so gracious to us! We have had so many blessings lately, and are praising the Lord for His provision for our needs and some of our wants, too. He convicts, encourages, and instructs through His Word, and I am so grateful.

What do you do when you cannot stop thinking about someone? I pray, as it is all I can do. But only God could continue to bring the same person continually to mind, right? Prayer is one of those strange & wonderful mysteries to me. Thinking about it too much makes my head hurt.

God is sovereign, all knowing, all powerful. The Holy Spirit prays for us when we do not have the words. We are commanded to pray. Jesus taught us to pray. There are many instances in the Bible that it seems that prayer was the means God used to change the expected course of His actions. Strange and wonderful. However it all works together, I am thankful to know God hears and answers prayer. And I'm looking with anticipation toward a time I can hear of God working in my friend's life in the circumstances that are currently surrounding. I see that God is working in the reactions and responses from the friend, and am trusting in faith that God is going to continue to work, and I keep praying toward that end.

How is God at work in your life this week? Is He bringing someone to mind for you to pray for? Encouraging you through His Word or through others? Has He provided for you this week? Share it here!

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the Mister Linky widget below, simply type your name in the top box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the link from your specific "Works of God Monday" post. If you don't have a blog, use the comment section! Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like.


Sunday, December 6

Pumpkin Muffins (dairy free, lower fat)

I stayed home from church after a rough night from the boys - coughing suddenly - who knows? Aaron seems to have no other symptoms but I think a runny nose is coming. Evan slept until 10:30am, so it's a good thing we stayed home.

So Aaron and I had some uninterrupted time together, and decided to make muffins! Pumpkin was his request, so I dug this recipe out and modified it so my dairy-allergic Evan could have some. And then after they were all baked, I remembered that he also reacts to eggs. I'm only slightly sleep deprived. So next time, I'll try something different. I'm pretty sure this recipe couldn't be modified with flaxseed substitute, which is what I typically do in my baking.

Pumpkin Muffins
2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar (scant)
1 cup mashed pumpkin
1/4 cup applesauce (or more pumpkin)
1 T vegetable oil
1 T Vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup chopped nuts if desired

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray and lightly dust with flour, or use muffin papers lightly sprayed.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until light, fluffy and pale yellow. Beat in pumpkin, applesauce, oil, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together dry ingredients. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! Stir flour mixture into pumpkin mixture gently, stirring until just mixed. If you are adding nuts, raisins, or anything else, do that now.

Divide batter among 12 muffin pans, and bake until the top is golden and springy. I kind of neglected to watch the time. We washed up the dishes we used (Aaron's favorite part of the kitchen projects) and by that time the muffins were done. If I had to guess, I'd say 10-12 minutes. These baked up super high, which makes me smile.

I ended up topping half of the muffins with a mixture of finely chopped pecans, butter and cinnamon sugar for the rest of the family. Definitely yummy, but not dairy free and there goes the lower fat, right?

Wednesday, December 2

stretching and saving

On Thanksgiving evening, I cleaned all the meat from the turkey and, minus the skin, threw everything in my largest stockpot, along with a carrot and a few onions and several quarts of water, and simmered away while I cleaned up the kitchen and then relaxed with Michael.

Before bed, I poured everything through my stock pot's pasta insert into my very newest favorite large bowl - my 6 quart stainless steel mixing bowl from my business. (Hurrah for bonuses, right?) I then put the bowl in the fridge so that the fat would rise to the top.

Not the next morning, but a couple mornings later, I scooped out the fat and was faced with a giant bowl of turkey stock. I've made chicken stock in the past, and frozen it in a large gallon size bag, but then it's pretty much only good if you're using a LOT of stock, say, for chicken soup. But there are lots of recipes that call for 1 can of broth, so recently I've been freezing it in 2-cup(ish) quantities, and here's how I do it.

Fold a bag inside and out of a glass. I typically use a 2-cup measure-all but mine was dirty so I opted for a clean drinking glass. This bag is a quart size freezer bag. You can certainly reuse the bag when you empty out the stock, but I definitely recommend this size - or larger! The extra room allows for flatter storage in the tiniest of freezers.




Then I scooped in about 2 cups worth. You will notice the texture of this stock is a little wiggly. If that grosses you out, I'm sorry. It's really excellent for your health, and it melts when you heat it up a little bit - turns back to liquid. I used a 2-cup prep bowl but you could either eyeball it or use a measuring cup. I'm just having fun with all my Pampered Chef stuff. Bear with me.



Then, I folded the top up and removed the bag from the glass. Then, I squeezed out the air by folding the top like so, and labeled the bag while it was like that. I like to know which broth is turkey and which is chicken - sometimes I label it with the date, but I use a lot of broth in recipes and so I have not found that necessary.



After labeling, you can seal the bag and lay it flat. Then repeat and stack the bags on top of one another. I can easily fit 8-12 bags in one stack under the shelf in my above-the-fridge freezer. These can be thawed in the fridge or quickly under running water. You can also just take them out of the package frozen and put them in the pan for soup.

I haven't decided what I like best - saving money or knowing what is in my broth.

Tuesday, December 1

do you see what I see?

This weekend was tons of fun.

I got to shop with my mom, spend time with my parents, and take the boys for a little grandma & papa time while Michael did something amazing.

Can you guess what it is?

I bet you can.

Or not.

Go ahead, give it a try. What do you think I'm most excited about in these pictures?

Now, honestly, if I had my way, I'd be spending every waking minute with Michael while someone else took care of all the projects (or our kiddos - I do love a project!), but we have to be grownups and be apart sometimes. It's really hard to get anything of substance done with children underfoot.

We got a kitchen quote back this weekend, and we are

so.very.excited.

SO! VERY! EXCITED! would be more like it. I can't wait.

Trying to finish up the details before the refinancing process begins. So this means in the next few weeks, I won't be working on homemade Christmas gifts. Instead, I'll be spackling nail holes, sewing window treatments, and the big one - de-cluttering everything. That's been a long time coming.

Monday, November 30

hee, hee.

Michael: "So, Aaron, how did it go today with your friends?"
Aaron: "It got a little dicey."

WHAT?! Where on earth did he hear that?!! And, it actually DID get a little dicey, making it even more hilarious!

Works of God Monday

I am praising the Lord for His steadfast love and His truly amazing grace. I am learning so much through my kiddos - especially Aaron, whose curiosity, questions, experimentation, tantrums, moments of genius, waffling back and forth between obedience and disobedience, "forgetfulness" and insightfulness have my head spinning.

Today, especially, I am praying for wisdom and hanging on tight. I know that before I know it, he and Evan will be gone and I will miss these crazy days. I am praying that God will guide me in my guidance of my boys. I'm so grateful that God has given me the opportunity to be a mom!

We had a fantastic Thanksgiving, a great time with family! Really, really happy that my Uncle Gary was able to make the drive down from Northern MI - we hadn't seen him in far too long. Here is a great picture of my grandma and all her kids. It was a very, very good day. I was also able to spend tons of time with my parents this weekend - mom came over all day Wednesday, they were here for Thanksgiving, and then we went out shopping on Friday. Saturday, I took the boys over while Michael worked on a few projects. More on that tomorrow...

So, what is God doing in your life, your family? How is He at work in your heart? Let's praise God together for all He has done and who He is!

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the Mister Linky widget below, simply type your name in the top box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the link from your specific "Works of God Monday" post. If you don't have a blog, use the comment section! Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like.


Wednesday, November 25

Giveaway Winner!

And the winner is...Shelley, who guessed $19.99 - the correct total is

$22.79

Which works out to 180 loads of laundry and 196 diaper changes. I'll be doing 180 loads of laundry at around 5 cents a load and the diapers are 7 cents each. Pretty great - although SOME of you had guesses that I would have liked EVEN MORE!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 24

What was I saying about extras? (and a giveaway!)

Last night after Michael came home and the kiddos were in bed, I took a trip to Rite Aid and Meijer. I got a fabulous deal on these diapers and the laundry soap, and I also picked up a few freebie items. Let me here say that it was a good idea to go it alone - I had to run each bottle of detergent through as a separate transaction and my coupon scanner was having issues, so...it took me 20 minutes to buy 9 items. What? Good thing there was no one behind me in the self-check lane.

There are 6 bottles of detergent here, the Clorox Greenworks brand, 30 load size, normally 9.99 (which I would never pay!) and 2 boxes of size 3 Pampers, 100 count. (ok, one is 96 count) I am so thankful to God for providing this spectacular deal on diapers. Cheaper than washing my cloth ones, and plenty to give away, since I already have 2 identical boxes in Evan's closet waiting to be used. Hurray!

Makes me laugh: the detergent bottles. "95% Natural" uh, okay, why advertise? I've been using Seventh Generation Blue Eucalyptus & Lavender detergent, which I love, LOVE and buy through a co-op for a better price, but there is no WAY I could pass up this deal. Praise God for His provisions!

Now, may the guessing begin! The person to guess the closest to the correct total spent on 6 bottles of detergent and 2 boxes of diapers, including tax, will get a prize in the mail that will include a coupon for a free box of organic fruitabu stretch island smooshed fruit product (like fruit leather) and some surprises, custom-chosen depending on the winner. Guessing ends at midnight tonight (EST).

Totally off-topic, I am having a Black Friday Pampered Chef sale this year. If you have not been receiving my sorta-monthly "Pampered Chef News" emails and would LIKE to be on my email list, send me an email with your email address and watch your email for the details of this sale. Hint: it will NOT get better than this, ever.

Monday, November 23

Works of God Monday


Happy Monday - it's been a jam-packed day, so sorry I haven't had a chance to post WOGM yet! I'm so happy that God continues to allow me to see HIM at work. Here are some of the things I'm thankful for this week. It's Thanksgiving, so I'm making a list of ten. Join me??

1. Jesus' sacrifice on the cross for me - making a personal relationship with Him possible. And then His grace extended to let me watch Him at work and be a part of it. Amazing. Awesome.

2. A fabulous husband, just perfect for me, with whom I am still madly in love (for almost 6 years of marriage!!) and having tons of fun. LOVE HIM!

3. Michael's job, in construction, with plenty (and overtime - bonus!) hours. This is definitely a work of God.

4. A safe, warm, (becoming more beautiful - bonus!!) home.

5. Healthy children.

6. A godly heritage and fabulous family on both sides. We are SO BLESSED.

7. Clean water.

8. Godly friends.

9. Plenty to eat.

10. Extra everything! And freebies!

So what are you thankful for today? It can be one or ten things, or more! Would you consider posting and linking here? Let's praise God together for all He has done and who He is!

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the Mister Linky widget below, simply type your name in the top box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the link from your specific "Works of God Monday" post. If you don't have a blog, use the comment section! Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like.




Friday, November 20

I feel your pain, Mr. Potato Head.


Aaron came up with this

new look for Mr. Potato Head

all on his own.

The teeth for a nose are painful enough,

but the feet in the mouth?

I can totally identify.


BTW, as an update, it's so fun to watch Aaron growing up. He turned 3 in August, which means he's 39-and-a-half months, and he's getting more interested in actual creative endeavors to do by himself like Mr. Potato Head and his jumbo Lego set. I'm sure his play will continue to be imaginative. He's so much fun.

Thursday, November 19

Homemade Fruity Stevia Drinks

OK, so I love the Vitamin Water 10 and the Sobe Lifewater drinks that are fruity and delicious and all natural. It's nice to know that when I'm out and about there are options besides paying for water or drinking soda! However, I only drink them occasionally because

1) water really is better for me

and

2) the drinks cost BIG MONEY

Since we got back from Colorado, our tap water has been tasting weird to me. Or maybe it's the dishwasher leaving strange odors in our cups. At any rate, I experimented, and here's what I came up with for an at-home treat.

2 cups 100% juice (I have used only the Juicy Juice so far - more exotic flavor blends, ha ha)
6 cups water
4-5 packets Stevia in the Raw (and if you haven't tried stevia as a natural sugar substitute, you need to!)

Mix well (I use my brand new QuickStir pitcher from Pampered Chef, wahoo!) and chill. Add juice or stevia until the blend is right for you. It's no Sobe, but it's flavorful and a nice, healthier alternative beverage. Of course, water is always the very best option.

Nutrition Facts per 8oz:
30 cal, 6.5g sugar, 30% of your daily vitamin C and trace other vitamins.

Tuesday, November 17

patching pants

I wasn't really taught how to patch things. Not because of any fault of my mother. She taught me what she knew about patching, but mostly it was for items to be used gently.

My husband works outside, and he works hard. He works with sharp things, and he works on his knees. A lot. He has lots of work pants, but recently I noticed that ALL pairs of pants had holes somewhere. I had tried to patch the knees of his pants before with those iron on patches and some zigzag stitches, but what might work for occasional-wear patches did NOT work on his oft-used pants. But I didn't know any other way to do it, so he wore holey pants. No big deal in the summer.

Then, while I was in Colorado, I noticed my sister in law patching one of my nephew's pants, on the outside. DUH, I thought. I could do that, too.






So here's what I did.

First, stacked up all 5 pairs that needed help. 3 grey, 1 green, 1 denim. Then, I found some pants that were beyond, way beyond repair and used those as my patching material. The patching material was thinner than the work pants, so I made a double layer. Then I went ahead and pinned the patch in place, covering way more than the ripped area.



May I here recommend leather-weight needles? I broke two #16's before I had that bright idea. Anyway, I started to sew the patch. I used the largest zigzag with a stitch length of 2, and then I went around the whole thing with a straight stitch to reinforce further.

PS - I love my sewing machine! It's a Riccar that mom bought for me at a garage sale! YAY!


I then turned the whole thing inside out and this is what I saw. Now some of the pairs were more unsightly than this, what with my attempted patch jobs and multiple lines of stitches overtop of an iron on patch - that mess would have irritated the knees. And goodness knows I do not want my husband to have irritated knees.




So, I got out my trusty sewing scissors - Gingers, thank you Mrs. Behn - they are still the best graduation gift ever!! and carefully cut around the edges of my patch, leaving a bit of pant left but cutting away most of the excess.


Until the finished product looked like this on the inside:


Now, one pair of pants took me less than 30 minutes to do from start to finish. I say much less stress than schlepping myself and two maybe-cranky children over to the Salvation Army (because I am not paying full price for pants that will get paint, tar, mortar and all manners of ickiness all over them) and hoping they have pants in the right size with no pleats and the right kind of pockets and loops for my hunky construction worker husband.


Not to mention, this used up an old pair of pants that wasn't good for anything else, and extended the life expectancy of 5 pairs of work pants. For free(ish - I did break 2 needles, after all). So this is my homecky moment for last week. And I'm relieved that my mending pile has drastically decreased. Michael is relieved that he has pants to wear to work that won't freeze his knees. And so we're all a bit happier.


Monday, November 16

Works of God Monday

We've had some interesting things going on here, I'm not going to lie - it has been hard. But no matter what happens, GOD IS GOOD - all the time. And He is always at work. I wanted to share this last week, but time got away from me, and it never happened.

Last Sunday, and all of last week, we had the Herbsters here for evangelistic meetings. We did not make it to a whole lot of the meetings for a variety of reasons, but on Sunday morning, they sang "All of These" which has been a favorite of mine ever since I first heard it sung by two of my all time favorite people - the Habings. (That's Deb on the clip!)

As I heard the song again last Sunday, (I was hearing Brett and Deb's voices, somehow) the Lord brought to my mind all that the Habings have been going through just in the last years, their testimony throughout, and how much God has taught me through their lives, about how much they taught me about who God is and more about what genuine, honest Christianity looks like. And yet, I'm kinda hoping they don't catch wind of this post, as they dislike this sort of thing. I can see the glare, actually.

Honestly, it wouldn't had to have been the Habings, but it was. God used them in a huge way in my life at Northland - they were just what I needed fresh out of high school in all my pridefulness, all my "wisdom" and self-directed living. (God is still working on all of those nasty sinful elements, BTW) They pointed me UPWARD in a way that was refreshing, full of love and humor, and I am so grateful that God put them there.

This song has become a sort of prayer for me - that I would continually be learning more of God and that God will continue to change my selfish desires into a desire for people to see more of God, and glorify Him. So last Sunday, I was overwhelmed by emotion as I pondered all of this (sorry if it is disjointed!) and was reminded again of God's goodness.

All of These
How vast His grace, How great His faithfulness,
How deep His Love, How rich His mercy,
How high his thoughts, How sure His wisdom,
And all of these, He gives to me!

So I will praise Him, with every breath,
For He has rescued me from certain death,
Now this life I live, I live in Him.
Oh let His glory shine, while mine grows dim.

How just his ways, how good his discipline,
How pure his truth, How kind His goodness.
How calm His peace, How long His patience,
And All of these He gives to me!

So I will praise Him, with every breath,
For He has rescued me from certain death,
Now this life I live, I live in Him.
Oh let His glory shine, while mine grows dim.

How great his power, How grand His majesty,
How true His will, How high His glory,
How strong his might, How real his triumph,
And all of these He gives to me!

So I will praise Him, with every breath,
For He has rescued me from certain death,
Now this life I live, I live in Him.
Oh let His glory shine, while mine grows dim.

words & music Craig Curry

You can buy the CD here.

We know God doesn't need any of us to do His work, but in His grace, he does choose to use us - what a gift - to be able to be used by an all powerful God to accomplish His plan!!

So, has there been anyone God has really used in your life to help grow your relationship with God? Someone who has been an instrument for change in your walk? Share it this week - or share some other blessing - just remember to look for the works of God, and to share how He's working in you with those around you.

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the Mister Linky widget below, simply type your name in the top box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the link from your specific "Works of God Monday" post. If you don't have a blog, use the comment section! Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like.



Wednesday, November 11

perspective

I urge you to go read what Richelle has posted today. It was a challenge to me, for certain.

Tuesday, November 10

Life Lessons at Meijer

1. the cup holders in the blue carts are not the most reliable.

2. that is what I get for paying for coffee made by someone else. The first 3 sips were awesome.

3. snaps to Meijer for hiring a zealous cart getter who works most morning shifts. I wish he'd leave a cart or two so I don't have to follow the people coming out of the store in order to claim the cart before he snatches it up. Seriously, it would be a hilarious short film, my trying to get a cart before he can.

4. Meijer is a great place to learn that toys can be lost forever, light bulbs break when you drop them, and mommies tend to be a little testy when you move the cart down the checkout lane by pushing off the shopping belt. Also it is fun to push the buttons on the self checkout screen, but this can also make mommy a little bit upset if she doesn't want to have 7 transactions.

5. the penny horse is awesome. And when disobedience reigns throughout the store, not riding it is a very effective consequence.

I had a fun morning at Meijer. No, really, I did. Except for the cart moving thing, but possibly because it caused injury to my digits. I love having a curious, questioning 3 year old, and his grinning little baby brother. I love the smiles on fellow shoppers' faces when questions are asked so loudly that they can hear us clear back in electronics. I love "1-2-3, Jesus loves ME!" sung at the top of the lungs.

I'm soaking it all in.


Monday, November 9

Works of God Monday

I'm up early this morning, getting ready for jury duty, getting ready for the sitter and praying that God calms my heart and does a work in my mind this morning - He is able to turn this into a great blessing for everyone involved and I am praying that I am open to His leading.

I'll share blessings from the week later - too much to do yet this morning! I just didn't want to forget to post or miss out on hearing from you!

How have you been seeing God at work this week? How is God blessing your family, working in your life by encouraging, convicting, providing? Please share!

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the Mister Linky widget below, simply type your name in the top box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the link from your specific "Works of God Monday" post. If you don't have a blog, use the comment section! Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like.


Friday, November 6

civic duties

So I've got jury duty come Monday, 8am. I'm conflicted - I love the USA, the way the jury system is set up, and yet, I'm majorly conflicted. I certainly don't "feel" like going, but I am obviously going to do it.

I guess I just wish they'd called 3 years ago, when I was childless and more easily able to perform my duty as a citizen.

But, sometimes, great blessings are born of inconvenience. Starting the calling now for childcare...

behind

1. I'm behind. In everything. Laundry, dishes, home-pre-school, blogging. Sleep.

2. My behind is not getting any smaller. Rats.

3. I'm hiding behind the computer screen right now, willing the child of 15 months to please, PLEASE stop crying and take a nap.

4. But we were behind schedule today, so it may be completely my fault.

5. Or I need to go check and make sure he has a clean behind.

going.

BTW, photos of our trip to Colorado are here, if you are interested.

Monday, November 2

Works of God Monday

We are back from our whirlwind trip to Colorado. We were there eight days, but it certainly seems like it went muuuuuuch quicker - and too quickly! It was a great time of fun and catching up and relaxing with the Muth family as well as some friends from college who live in the area. We are so blessed to have great families, and we are very thankful that God allowed us to take this trip! We praise HIM for providing for us and for safe travels.

We are all healthy still, which is fantastic - and DEFINITELY a work of God!! On our way back through, we were able to spend some time at the IKEA store in Canton, which was a long day but worth it! We scoped out some future wish list items, and bought a few light fixtures for last minute changes before appraisal time. Can you believe - a wall sconce for $3.99?? God's provision! We are so thankful!

Much more to share, but I'm still in recovery mode from our trip, so I'll save the highlights for a different post. Thanks so much for your prayers!

So, how have you been seeing God at work this week? How is God blessing your family, working in your life by encouraging, convicting, providing? Please share!

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the Mister Linky widget below, simply type your name in the top box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the link from your specific "Works of God Monday" post. If you don't have a blog, use the comment section! Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like.


Monday, October 26

Works of God Monday


So, I'm in Colorado, soaking up the time with family - and I've pre-scheduled this post - so I can only tell you the works of God that happened before we left! This trip is kindof a leap of faith - we believed God wanted us to go, that seeing our family was among the Most Important things to do in this life. Since the tickets were a great deal and since it's been almost 2 years since we've seen the family, we stepped out trusting that this was the step to make, and that He would provide. We don't always - actually, very seldom - do we do this kind of leapage.

Anyway, before we left, as of Thursday, we had $160 in extra funds that God had provided through various surprising means. PRAISE GOD for His provision! And we are also praising God for providing through other ways too - extra hours for Michael, more earnings from my business, etc. Just another confirmation to us that this is the right time for our trip!

So, how have you been seeing God at work this week? How is God blessing your family, working in your life by encouraging, convicting, providing? Please share!

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the Mister Linky widget below, simply type your name in the top box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the link from your specific "Works of God Monday" post. If you don't have a blog, use the comment section! Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like.


Thursday, October 22

tolerance

It's rainy here today, and will be for at least the next week. I love fall rains - fall in general, really, and I'm a little sad that probably all the trees will have shed their leaves by the time we return.

As I was driving around town this morning doing a few last minute errands like picking up cash and dropping off a Pampered Chef show order, Aaron asked about the windshield wipers, so I was explaining their function, and we talked about rainbows (he noticed the shape the wipers were making and commented on it) and Noah, and then I got to thinking about something rather odd.

I was stuck in traffic for a few minutes and I started to observe the different speeds of wiper action on the vehicles passing me and next to me. It is a light drizzly rain for today, and the speeds were quite varied, which I found oddly fascinating. Thinking further about it, Michael and I have very different levels of tolerance for droplets of rain on our windshield. I tend to want the blades to clear off the rain as quickly as they land, and Michael doesn't mind them so much. Both options are fine, as long as the driver is comfortable, and can see enough to drive safely.

It's not like we sit down and have a discussion about how fast the wipers should go before we enter our vehicle for a drive. It's so totally not a big deal. Not at all as big of a deal as oh, say, having gas in your tank or following the rules of the road.

How often do I make a big deal out of things that aren't? I'm praising God that I've seen the Holy Spirit do a work in my heart in the years that I've been a believer, slowly mellowing me and opening my eyes to a Biblical perspective on this - but I still have a looooong ways to go.

Especially, um, with my children.

Especially, um, today.

I've been getting ready for this trip with grand aspirations of leaving a clean house to come home to - and this morning, while I was packing up the last minute items, everything was going not exactly perfectly.

One thing that happened was that Aaron got ahold of a can of bug repellent that had been forgotten this summer in our backpack, which I had removed this morning, which he found lying on our bed, and sprayed it all over our bed including the comforter and pillows. And one of our duffel bags that was packed and ready to go. This happened when I went out of the room for less than one minute to grab 2 tshirts out of the dryer, and after a series of events involving a Bumbo seat, a box of Kleenex, and 3 selfish people.

The bugspray-releasing activity was The.Last.Straw.

What I should have done was not what I did, and I had to apologise to Aaron for losing my cool. My patience level was not what it ought to have been, for sure. My expectations (lofty and perhaps unreasonable) were getting in the way of my relationship with my children.

So, we're still getting ready, we might have to leave a little later than we planned (depending on how nap time goes) and my house will probably not be clean, but I just need to roll with it and chill out. I need to tolerate what doesn't matter. It's not critical for my to-do list to be accomplished - and my training and teaching of my children definitely comes before any expectations I have for "my" day.

Maybe I will eventually learn this lesson, but I'm thinking it will probably take many, many more sessions. God is gracious, to teach us through our children, and through more mundane things like windshield wipers.

Tuesday, October 20

oh, the joy

So I saw this linked here - and I could not resist the power of suggestion. Hello, it's FALL! You have to eat pumpkin pie - so why not in the morning, when you have the whole day to burn it off, right?? I made it for my breakfast this morning, baked in a pie plate. (I do not own ramekins)

I now will have to leave the house as not to eat the entire batch.

We leave our house in 2 days for an extended time away - 2 days in Detroit on either side and 8 days in Colorado. We are all super excited to see the family again.

And in completely unrelated news, we are considering a laptop purchase for the Pampered Chef business before the end of the tax year. Anyone ever owned a Sony VIAO? I found one the other day and I think I might be in love with all the features.

Monday, October 19

Works of God Monday


I'm so thankful for God's Grace today! Yesterday at church we sang a song that we've been learning together as a congregation, and I was overwhelmed as I sang the text with other believers. God is so gracious to us!

His Robes for Mine

His robes for mine: O wonderful exchange!
Clothed in my sin, Christ suffered 'neath God's rage
Draped in His righteousness, I'm justified
In Christ I live, for in my place He died

Chorus:
I cling to Christ, and marvel at the cost:
Jesus forsaken, God estranged from God.
Bought by such love, my life is not my own:
My praise - my all - shall be for Christ alone.

His robes for mine: what cause have I for dread?
God's daunting Law Christ mastered in my stead.
Faultless I stand, with righteous works not mine,
Saved by my Lord's vicarious death and life.

His robes for mine: God's justice is apeased.
Jesus is crushed, and thus the Father's pleased.
Christ drank God's wrath on sin, then cried, "'Tis done!"
Sin's wage is paid; propitiation won.

His robes for mine: such anguish none can know.
Christ, God's beloved, condemned as though His foe.
He, as though I, accursed and left alone;
I. as though He, embraced and welcomed home!

Anderson/Habegger
Copyright 2008 churchworksmedia.com
(you can also view and print this hymn here as well)


I am also thankful for God's provision this month - I am finally seeing some real progress in my Pampered Chef business, and this is a blessing. I have had the best month yet, and I only had 3 shows! I'm praising God for providing this way of helping our family a little bit financially, and praising Him for building the business!

So, how have you been seeing God at work this week? How is God blessing your family, working in your life by encouraging, convicting, providing? Please share!

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the Mister Linky widget below, simply type your name in the top box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the link from your specific "Works of God Monday" post. If you don't have a blog, use the comment section! Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like.


Wednesday, October 14

Aaron & Daddy's Squirrely Adventure



I know he's mine, but he's a really great storyteller.

And about the video - I didn't realize our camera was
able to produce these special effects, let alone that it
was SET to special effects. Oh, well...

Monday, October 12

a fond farewell


Today I had to say goodbye to my beloved garden. We've been covering the plants at night, but this week, the nights are ALL going to be below freezing except one, so it's time. I picked the last of the fruit from the vines, and now I'll have to pull the plants up.

I'm sad - but only at my loss of tomatoes anytime I want them. Anyone know what to do with all these tiny green tomatoes??

Works of God Monday

Well, it appears that I have taken an entire week off from blogging, and I didn't even know it! We have been busy around here! God is providing for our needs and even some of our wants! I pray that by pointing to HIS work in blessing us, encouraging, convicting, changing, etc., I can slowly become more aware of His work in all areas of our lives!

It seems that our kids make huge leaps in short amounts of time - do yours? I've been having the best conversations with Aaron lately about God and spiritual things. It seems like a month ago he was still singing the ABC's a million times in a row and enjoying every minute and now he's asking things like "why is the Bible God's Word?" and "Where is God?"

This is VERY exciting to me, to watch his awareness of God growing. It's also great to listen to his sweet voice recite Scripture and sing hymns and songs about God. I praise God for His work in Aaron and in the same breath beg for the wisdom I need to parent these amazing blessings. God is so good!

So, how have you been seeing God at work this week? How is God blessing your family, working in your life by encouraging, convicting, providing? Please share!

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the Mister Linky widget below, simply type your name in the top box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the link from your specific "Works of God Monday" post. If you don't have a blog, use the comment section! Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like.


Monday, October 5

Works of God Monday

This week I am praising the Lord for so many things! He has convicted me, sustained me with HIS strength, and has provided. I am so thankful that I serve God who has proven that He has a record of faithfulness and that He cannot fail to do what He has promised. He continually opens my eyes to my need of Him, and teaches me things about His Word and character. I am overwhelmed with all He has done, and on top of that, the bonus gifts He's given that I'm sharing with you this week!

In a few weeks, Michael's sister Sarah and her family will be traveling to Colorado to visit their parents (and other siblings who also live in Colorado) and we really were wanting to visit at taht time as well - it's been almost two years since we've seen Michael's family, and we have been praying that the price of plane tickets would come down - we'd missed a great deal in July but it wasn't feasible then. Last week, I had almost decided to stop the daily searching for tickets, but I tried one last time, and found tickets nonstop from Detroit to Denver for a price that wasn't impossible. We are so thankful that our trip will overlap with the Valiante's travel and that GOD provided the good ticket prices (also a great deal on rental car) so close - I thought too close - to our dates of desired travel. He is so gracious!! We are very excited to be traveling to Colorado at the end of this month!

The mudroom project is taking longer than I estimated, which is nothing new - I am notoriously bad at estimating the time it will take to complete a large project! Here's a sneak peak for you:


Lord willing, we will have more photos soon! Still praising God for all we've been able to accomplish with materials we already have.

So how is God blessing your family, working in your life by encouraging, convicting, providing? Please share!


"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the Mister Linky widget below, simply type your name in the top box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the link from your specific "Works of God Monday" post. If you don't have a blog, use the comment section! Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like.


Wednesday, September 30

excuses

My kids' noses started running this morning, right on schedule for being exposed on Sunday at church. I was kinda hoping it was morning allergies or something, but they're only getting runnier. And so the boys and I will be staying home tonight from church.

Which got me thinking about this obnoxious, albeit slightly amusing, song (don't even get me started on the style, or the "comedy" afterwards - what?!)



That verse about the whole family staying home "just to blow that poor kid's nose" has probably influenced one or seventeen too many families into thinking that it's not spiritual to stay home when you're sick.

If you are sick, or if one of your children is sick, please - for the sake of others, use that excuse and stay at home. Pray through the church prayer sheet or something - use the time for family worship, pray for missionaries, whatever you want to do. But please don't buy into the idea that just because the doors are open you have to drag your sneezing, coughing, congested family to muddle through the service. You may survive the service, but there's no telling where your germs might travel.

Just because we are all one spiritual body does not mean each physical body has to share your germs. I can't really do anything about anyone else's feelings or actions on the matter. But I can do one thing, and that is this - we will be keeping the germs to ourselves and staying home tonight.

Midland, MI, you are welcome.

Tuesday, September 29

What's for Dinner at Our House Tonight

Lasagna is one of my favorite things to make for the family or for friends, especially when I'm going to be doing a Pampered Chef show or we have a busy afternoon planned. I can throw it together whenever I have a spare 15 minutes in the morning and it's a satisfying meal, WITH lots leftover.

It's usually pretty spendy for one meal according to our standards - probably among the most expensive dishes I make - at least on a regular basis, but lots of leftovers usually means I can divide the cost over 2 meals. This week, however, I reduced some quantities to use only ingredients I already had and avoid a grocery store run, and combined with sale prices ended up with a pretty good deal on my lasagna.

Lasagna, one pan, $5.89
(Recipe from the back of the pasta box)

1 box Barilla flat no-boil lasagne noodles ($1.72)
2 eggs (1 dozen for .89 = 2 eggs, .14)
15 oz Michigan Brand cottage cheese (you have to try this kind!!) on sale for $1.50
(substituted for the called-for ricotta and it is a small curd, low whey variety - excellent!)
2 cups (down from 4) shredded italian blend cheese $1.25
1 can (down from 2) Hunt's Garlic & Onion spaghetti sauce plus 3/4 c water .98
1/2 cup (2 oz) grated Parmesan cheese (.30 - Aldi)
1 lb ground beef (FREE - a gift to us!)

This makes the best lasagna I have ever made, and I'm telling you it is the sauce. I am disappointed that Hunt's recently changed their recipe to include HFCS, but I must say we like the taste enough to continue to buy it. This is the one item I'm willing to purchase with HFCS in it since good spaghetti sauce flavor is hard to find, and it's one meal every few weeks.

I won't go over the directions as they are printed on the box. I've also divided the recipe up in 2 8 x 8 pans and frozen it, uncooked, for later. We usually still have plenty left over for lunch the next day!

Has anyone found any no-boil whole wheat lasagne noodles? I'd be SO interested in giving those a try!

Monday, September 28

Works of God Monday


This weekend was full of much work on the house, and while photos are not yet available due to a lack of "after" shots, I will be sure to share them when the project is complete. We were able to reuse some of the materials we salvaged from our original demolition, which is always very exciting. And I'm not gonna lie, it is always great to see the "scrap pile" in our back yard decrease due to constructive use. My dad came over to help Michael this weekend, and it was a huge blessing. Praise God for talented, hardworking and creative men!

I also want to praise God for providing for us and for growing my new Pampered Chef business. I have not lacked for shows in September and October is already looking great - especially with some shows that are for people who I don't know or people who know more people I don't know, which is GREAT for business building. Only God can do this!

It's been exciting to watch Aaron learn and understand things about God that are a little tricky to explain to him. Somehow he'd gotten wind of some dubious doctrine - or had at least translated it as such in his mind, so with a few minutes' worth of explanations, it was quite refreshing to hear the corrected doctrine come from his mouth about 2 hours after the fact.

I pray that it sticks with him, and that this proves one of many steps on his journey to understanding God's Grace in salvation. My anticipation is building for the time he understands Christ's sacrifice - I am sure I cannot even begin to imagine the joy - but I pray that we as parents will be able to experience our biological children walking in truth even as we have been blessed to see with some of our spiritual children.

So how is God blessing your family, working in your life by encouraging, convicting, providing? Please share!

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the Mister Linky widget below, simply type your name in the top box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the link from your specific "Works of God Monday" post. If you don't have a blog, use the comment section! Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like.



Friday, September 25

Aaron's Amazing Dream

I was sleeping in my bed, and I waked up, and heard sompin'. And I looked, and it was you, Mom, flying around up high and catching birds, and going way up in the sky. And guess what, Mom? You had a cape! A BIIIIIIIG LOOOOOOONG cape! And then you went back to sleep and I flied around up high with my little tiny cape, and I flied into mommy's room and saw you in your bed and you heard a noise and waked up and saw me. Flying. And I had bandaids on my arms. Maybe I can do that outside today, mom.

Great dream, Aaron. I only wish I could get you to tell it for the video camera in the same adorable way you told me.

I love you!
Mommy

Wednesday, September 23

What I know. (and maybe a tiny little giveaway)

I know that reusable grocery sacks are just plain better. I love mine and am always bummed when I get to the store and realize that I left them home. (At that point I usually get paper) But recently, I was chatting with an unnamed friend and she mentioned that she's never used them - and said something like, "they seem so small - and when I grocery shop, I really want to grocery shop"

So, unnamed friend, this one's for you - and for those others who are blog readers and who also may have similar thoughts that may have caused you steer clear of cloth bagging it.

First, there is the issue of environmental stewardship. I'm not saying this to give anyone a guilt trip, I love all people regardless of their bagging preferences. But, I think we can at least all agree that if one person stops using plastic bags, primarily, there will be fewer plastic bags around and generally speaking, less plastic trash = better. Can you honestly say that you re-use your plastic grocery sacks at the same rate at which you obtain them from the store? What about the bags that tear and rip? There isn't really an easy way to find a use for those holey bags, unless you are particularly resourceful or creative. (CUTE!)

Second, when you use cloth bags, you really can get more groceries in per bag without injury to the groceries, the bags, or to you when you chase groceries down after a bag breakage, not to mention, it's healthier. Blood pressure, you know. Less stress because you're not dealing with broken bags and loss of circulation from heavy plastic bags cutting into your hands. OK - that might be a stretch. But the more stuff per bag is TRUE, and I have the photos to prove it.

Now, the following photos are not my best-shopping-trip photos, so please overlook the graham crackers and stovetop stuffing mix and instead direct your focus on the all natural dish soap, the milled flax seed, and the best vanilla ever that is worth every extra cent. The whole grain bread and peaches canned in 100% fruit juice are okay, too. What? The pictures are blurry? I totally did not do that on purpose.

Here you see one of my least favorite cloth sacks, but probably the most economical. This is the Walm*rt special, which I obtained for a mere 50 cents. It is full to the brim, but the handles start above the brim, so the groceries definitely do not interfere with carrying the bag. Which is a plus when you have bread on the top of your bag. Unlike the plastic sacks, the bread will remain unsquished.



Demonstrated here is my family's affinity for graham crackers. And it may or may not be my late night snack of choice. Anyway, the fact remains that even with two extra wide loaves of bread on top there is still plenty of room for more stuff underneath.




Yes, you might have to lean to the right, but you will then see the best vanilla available at the Midland Meijer. It is worth every penny. You will have to trust me, but this is a quality ingredient that makes a ton of difference in your vanilla treats. I am speaking here of rice pudding, especially. Or anything with butter. And vanilla. And sugar. Oh. Be still my taste buds.






So let's review. 3 boxes of graham crackers, 2 boxes of stovetop stuffing, 2 cans of peaches, a bag of milled flaxseed, 2 spice cannisters, a bottle of dishsoap and a bottle of vanilla all fit quite comfortably in my cheapie cloth sack.




And here is how it (doesn't) all quite fit into a plastic sack. It is hard to tell from the photo, but I filled the bag up waaaay more than I would at the store - I would be slightly freaked out that it would break and that is the last thing I need to be worrying about with 2 kiddos in a parking lot - chasing groceries. The corners were taut around the boxes, which often equals disaster.


So, are you convinced? Were you always? Would you like to give cloth bagging a try? It's easy - start small! Around here, stores have reusable bags hanging at the register for around $1 a bag - if you start with one and add one every shopping trip, before you know it you will have 6 or more bags to shop with! You can also make bags - there is a great tutorial here - and you can also buy them on etsy if you want something more artisty but can't sew. I do recommend that you get some with the box shaped bottom, which is why I love that tutorial so much.

Also, it helps me to unload the groceries and immediately return the bags to the van, as I am forgetful and do not need to add one more thing to the extensive list of items needed to leave the house with 2 small children.

What's that you say? You don't have 1 bag to start out with? Well, you have a chance to win one today! I'm giving away a reusable shopping bag with a Pampered Chef logo (woo hoo) on it to one fabulous reader! Just leave a comment with your feelings on cloth bagging, when you started or if you plan to start soon, and I will draw a name on Friday afternoon and send you a bag! US addresses only, please!

***THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED! Congratulations to Sandra, who wins a Pampered Chef logo reusable bag!***

Monday, September 21

Works of God Monday

What a week it has been! I am thankful to God for so many things this week, but especially for the health and safety of our children. Praise God for sustaining us and for giving grace.

Yesterday after church, we had our first youth staff meeting of the school year and we are so excited to see what God is going to do this year in the junior high. We were sad to say goodbye to some friends who are moving up to work with the senior high, but we were also happy to welcome their replacements. We are so blessed to be able to have 3 fantastic couples who are willing to work with us to impact the junior high teens. We definitely couldn't do it without them! We are looking forward to this Wednesday - our first youth group week of the school year!

We were also able to begin the last big project before our home refinancing, which we are hoping will happen very soon. I'm getting so excited about it - it means that our PMI will go bye-bye and that our new kitchen is close enough to taste. I cannot tell you how excited I am getting to actually have a place for everything in my kitchen! YAY!

Anyway, we are clearing out the mudroom and pantry/laundry area so that we can clean up the drywall, finish the mudding and paint - it's not going to be finished the way we were thinking but it will enhance the value of our house for the appraisal. No one likes to see grey drywall with mud lines, and appraisers are no exception.

God's provision is evident in this project - in several ways. In the process, we've cleaned out our food pantry area and I am STUNNED with the massive quantities of food staples that we had stored back there. We have been blessed - and it's time for a pantry-clean-out challenge again for our family!

Second, the mud and paint are already in hand, provided by God at no cost to us! We are ready to go with very little out of pocket expense, which is always fantastic. I cannot wait to show you photos of our progress so that you can rejoice with us in God's provision. We are hoping that by next Monday, that project will be well underway, if not complete. Praise God!

And we've called the bank to start the process of the refinancing and got some great news - the current interest rate is well below what we are paying now, and the terms we were hoping for are also available and attainable. God is so kind to us. Please pray that everything continues to go smoothly in this process! We still have a ways to go for our 5-year plan, but this would keep us on track.

So how is God blessing your family, working in your life by encouraging, convicting, providing? Please share!

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the Mister Linky widget below, simply type your name in the top box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the link from your specific "Works of God Monday" post. If you don't have a blog, use the comment section! Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like.


Saturday, September 19

Ice Cream and Aaron











Today was a special day - Aaron's first ice cream cone. Well, definitely not his first ice cream, just the first ice cream CONE. And as you can see, he enjoyed it to the very sweet end.


Half off day at the local DQ and a local hot air balloon festival made it a fun Saturday, indeed.