Monday, August 31

Works of God Monday

Sometimes, God works in ways that are not as you expect - sometimes, learning what HE wants us to learn is a little tough. Last week was one of those weeks. God is good, all the time, and even in our struggles teaches us about His faithfulness, His strength, His grace. We are growing, and we are thankful. I am learning more intensely what trusting God is all about. And it hurts, but it's the good kind of hurt.

I am thankful, so thankful, for a sweet lady at church yesterday - she had some very encouraging words for me, and it was JUST what I needed to hear! Tears still are coming to my eyes when I think about her words that just surrounded me with God's love. I am so thankful for believers who have a long-distance focus, and wisdom to share!

Here's what happened - I always ask the nursery workers how Aaron did with obedience and with being kind to his friends. I know we struggle at home, daily, with obedience and there are times when I feel like my 3 year old should be able to consistently obey by now but I'm being honest and although we are consistent with Aaron, there are many times he chooses to disobey.

We are constantly re-evaluating and exploring whether or not we're doing it "right" and it is hard to know if there is more we can do or what we are missing - but it really is just underlining what we already know to be true - there will always be the element of personal choice in every person. Good parenting does not always yield results that we would choose, and parenting is only one element to the equation.

I don't even think there is a mom out there who doesn't struggle with comparing the obedience level of their kids to that of the offspring of other families, (or something else - smarts, cuteness, etc) and I know I'm not supposed to be comparing, I'm just supposed to be obeying God, focusing on Him, doing what He called me to, and not worrying about others and what they are supposed to be doing.

Well, yesterday, when I picked Aaron up, the teacher said he did fine. I said, OK, good. Sometimes it feels like we are never going to get there! and do you know what that sweet lady said? She told me that we would get there. She reminded me that God had a special plan for Aaron, and that He had wired him just right for the task He's got planned for him. Her words were so kind and loving, a reminder that seemed to come right from the mouth of God just for me.

By the way, I think Aaron is delightful, with many gifts and abilities, a love for learning, and an insane amount of energy and curiosity, which is a great combination. I love him so much, and he is a fantastic gift from God. Just being honest about some of the struggles!

So, how has God been at work in YOUR life this week? 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.

Kashi, Kashi...

So, CONGRATS to Tracy, who won the coupon for the free box of Honey Sunshine cereal.

Now, if you did not win, please do not despair!! I just saw on Money Saving Mom this morning that you can get a free sample, and you never know - you might get coupons too. Sign up here!

Friday, August 28

Surprise! Friday Giveaway!

Kashi has been good to me with all the coupons lately. I have gotten several free samples of Honey Sunshine cereal in the mail this week alone, complete with a ton of coupons!

I'm always thrilled when I get a free product coupon, and I'm even more happy when I get multiples, so I can give one away! So, not because of anything except that I feel like bringing a little sunshine to this rainy Michigan day, I'll be giving away a coupon for a free box of Kashi Honey Sunshine. It's tasty - we have already redeemed one of our free box coupons. It's mapley, like waffles. I like it.

And you can find out if you like it, too, for free. Leave a comment letting me know what YOUR favorite breakfast cereal is! I'll pick a winner via tomorrow morning! The only requirement is that you need to have a US mailing address.

Uh, Kashi? PLEASE keep up the good work. Your food is delicious, and it's nice not to have to worry about the ingredients. And keep those coupons coming. Please?

Also, win a sweet PurseHook (looks like a bracelet - awesome!) from my friend Holley today

*****Congratulations to TRACY! A free cereal coupon is heading your way!!*****

Thursday, August 27

thoughts? discussion? anyone?

It's always encouraging for me to read of things that God is teaching others - awesome! What a privilege to watch HIM at work. So when I read MckMama's post this morning, I was encouraged. And I have to say I have never been a fan of the "be careful what you pray for because you just might get it" type of comments, I did love this:

"No matter how careful our planning, we can rest easy in the knowledge that God's plans are greater than ours, even as we watch the plans we had set in motion unravel. When we face these stormy days and nights, we may be taken aback by the fiery intensity of it all, but God is never surprised."

MckMama and sweet Stellan and the whole family have been through more unknowns in the last 17 months than I can imagine. But then I read the comments, and I got to thinking. A lot of people have a lot of crazy ideas about prayer, don't they? So I'm in the mood for a discussion. *rubs hands mischievously* And here's the question:

What does prayer change - God's plan for us, or our perspective?

Discuss away - be nice to each other - and I'll share my thoughts either tomorrow or sometime this weekend!
(oh, I know, the italics make the quotation marks unnecessary. I used them anyway, because I'm like that)

Tuesday, August 25

How to have a great vacation (with small children, and a small budget)

1. Identify your expectations.
What is the goal of your vacation? Is it relaxation? Family memories? "getting away" from it all?

For us, we wanted to have time with the kids that would make memories, give them some un-distracted playtime with mom and dad, and just have a long, restful, stress-free weekend. When we examined those goals, we had a direction. Oh, and our budget directed us, too. We were thinking under $300 including everything for an extended weekend.

2. Identify enemies of your goals
SLEEP - We know our kids need sleep and routine to be happy, and by happy I mean cheerful and not whiny, and when they are whiny and crabby there goes the stress free weekend. So we knew that getting our kids away from that routine of sleep and naps would not necessarily be a good option. So we started looking for accommodations that would, ehem, accommodate our good sleep goal. 2 or 3 room cabins/hotels/condos, with the ability to separate the kids for nap time and make the napping place dark. With fun things to do nearby - just a park and a pool, maybe a museum or a mall. And the budget is gone on just the accommodations alone.

STRESS FREE - As I realized the distance issue for some more affordable housing options, it became clear that we would have to pack a LOT of stuff. A LOT. My boys are 1 and 3, and traveling long distances is not exactly the most fun thing in the world. And if our budget was gone on the accomodations alone, I'd be packing groceries, toys, crafts, everything to keep them occupied while we were away.

3. Devise a plan
So after all that thinking, dreaming (a lovely beach house in Northern MI for $950/weekend? Ahhh. Ugh.) and thinking some more, we decided to have a fakecation. Or staycation. Or whatever you want to call it. Here's why it worked/what we did:

A. I cleaned the house like a madwoman for the whole week before we "arrived" so it would be dirty dish free and dirty laundry free and sparkly. I changed the sheets on Thursday (the night our fakecation started) and washed ALL the bedding. It was a lot of work, nigh unto impossible to maintain on a normal basis, but this is part of my "stress free"

I briefly thought about calling a cleaning service for a one-time top to bottom, and I might if we do this again. Bottom line, the best part about a hotel for me is the self-cleaning factor. My bed is magically made, my towels refresh themselves and my trash can is emptied and full little bottles of shampoo arrive on the counter. AHHH. So if I had paid someone to clean the house for me, it would possibly have been just as awesome. It was still pretty great to start out our fakecation with a clean house.

B. We declared that we were out of town. We did not hang out with anyone we knew, we did not go to church, we arranged for a substitute for the Sunday School class and did not return any phone calls. We turned the ringer off on our phone and let the mail stack up. For all practical purposes, we were gone. As far as we know, life went on fine without us. *grin* Oh, and I spent maybe 10 mintues on the computer. That was part of it, too.

C. Michael took Friday off.

D. We declared fun as our goal. No projects, no bill paying, no grocery store runs (ok I did "have" to go get orange juice) and absolutely no work. We purposed to say YES to more of Aaron's 3 year old whims. We have an overgrown lawn, but we agreed to let it go. et cetera.

E. We made a specific plan, and we did this around the kids' sleep schedules. Our days looked like this - breakfast, fun activity, lunch, nap, fun activity, dinner, bedtime. And we made those kids go to bed early so we could have some mini-dates in the evening. There's nothing like snuggling on the couch watching Monk episodes on DVD and eating jalepeno poppers with the one you love.

F. We spent cash only. I got $200 out of the bank (our vacation fund) and we kept it in an envelope. We used this money to eat out (once a day - it WAS vacation, after all!) and for our activities. We came out way under budget. HOO RAY.

G. We took advantage of the local stuff we never make time for. We went to Dow Gardens for children's story time and sampled produce like Mexican Sour Gerkins, ground cherries, green beans, and sweet banana peppers right off the plants. YUM. We went to the county fair, and paid for parking and a frozen apple cider - Aaron loved the animals and could care less about the rides - he is 3, after all. We went to a fantastic Saturday sale at Old Navy, visited the Saginaw Children's Museum, and ate lunch at Olive Garden, then took the kids to the mall for some play time in the play center while I tried not to get grossed out by the germs. Sunday, we spent a little time playing the piano and singing in the morning, went to a local playground, then swimming at a local indoor pool in the afternoon. Did I mention that we ALL took naps every day? Yeah, good old 2 hour naps in the middle of the day. Talk about rested.

This weekend was perfect for us - really perfect. No packing, no naptime stress, no forgetting anything, no sitting around watching too much TV or wondering what there was to do in the area, and no regrets about overspending. I totally recommend it, especially if your kids are young like ours are. Here's the financial recap:

Dow Gardens admission - free with our passes
Fair Parking, plus slushie - $6.50
Takeout Pizza $24 (we had tons left over!)
Friday's total - $30.50

Old Navy purchases - $40 (1 pair of jeans - for me!, a pair of brown kiddie socks, and 7 t-shirts)
Children's Museum admission - $21
Lunch at Olive Garden including tip - $24
Mall play area - free
Saturday's total - $85

Family worship time - Free
Local playground - Free
Swimming - $8
Chinese Take-out $17
Sunday's total - $26

Total, $141.50

And, if you take out the clothing purchases (which we won't) it was even better. You could definitely do this same thing for far less money, but we weren't really trying that hard - we felt like splurging. I really feel like I've had a vacation, and I didn't have to come home to a house that I tore apart looking for all the trappings for a weekend away, with suitcases full of laundry and a thousand things to put away - not to mention sleep deprived kids. I had a single load of laundry, a dishwasher full of dirty dishes, some happy memories and a rested self, and a rested family.

Life is good.

Monday, August 24

Works of God Monday - Salvation Testimony Week!

Well, this Monday started eeeaaaaarrrrrllllyyy, probably exaggerated due to our "vacation" extended weekend. It was fantastic - I will write more about that tomorrow.

It's Salvation Testimony Week! If you haven't ever shared your testimony on your blog, I encourage you to do so today! It is always awesome to hear how God worked together His plan and brought other believers to a saving knowledge of Him! Before I tell my salvation story, I just want to share one little thing that was a highlight for me this week. Aaron is beginning to understand the concept of sin.

We've been working on teaching him the reason for his disobedience - his sinful heart - and telling him that only God can help him to obey, to have a sweet attitude, etc. Last week we were driving in the van and Aaron pipes up from the back, "Where is my sinful heart?" It was an interesting question, and Michael was there - it was good to hear him try to explain that concept to our barely-three-year-old! But it is exciting to hear Aaron's questions, and to wait with anticipation for the day that he will truly understand his sinfulness and God's great grace.

I grew up with two parents who are believers, hearing the gospel multiple times, attending church, AWANA, a Christian school - pretty much a greenhouse for gospel understanding. And I did understand, at least intellectually. I made several professions of faith over the years, but looking back, I believe it was out of my desire to please people - and to have them think highly of me, rather than a true heart-understanding.

All through my growing up years, I was gripped by doubts of my salvation, and specifically, fear that the rapture would come and my whole family would be gone and I would remain. It was terrifying, and I remember sneaking into my brother's room multiple nights to make sure he was still there. It was horrible. I talked to my parents about it, prayed with them, and they would patiently explain from the Bible that if I was a believer, nothing could change that - that God held me in His hand.

It was one night - I was fourteen - after returning from a week of summer camp that I came to the realization that I had been trying to "do salvation" by myself, in my own power. I had been trying to live the life, talk the talk - but I had never understood with true understanding that I could not do it on my own. I looked at the evidence - no real spiritual fruit, no prompting of the Holy Spirit or real conviction, no desire to relinquish my will to Christ, nothing, nada. The evidence pointed to no real growth, no real life.

That night I struggled hard, for as a teen I knew what surrender to God meant - not only was I accepting His gift of salvation, I knew this would also mean that I would have to say goodbye to all of MY plans for the future, and I wasn't sure about that. I knew from all my years of teaching that God would accomplish His best in my life, but I had yet to experience it - to taste and see that He is good - and it was so scary to me. I knew I was at a crossroads - continue living for myself, or forget all of that and live for Christ. By God's grace, and because of Him alone, I accepted Christ as Savior that night, all alone in my room.

The change, to outsiders, may not have been that dramatic. But to me, it was totally life-altering. I am so thankful for God's mercy and grace!

So, how did you come to a saving knowledge of Christ? I would love to hear! You can share what God has been doing in your life this week - but please consider sharing your salvation testimony!

"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, August 19

music to my senses

"Your order has shipped." I got that news in an email today, and it made me so happy. I know I've mentioned this before, but good news is always worth repeating. I love Boca Java's fresh FRESH roasted beans - and this is a company with good customer service, always a plus in my book.

Send me an email if you want a referral code - which will get you $10 off your first order. They are clearancing some of their flavors at Buy One Get One Free, so now's your chance to try some flavored coffee at a great price - or stock up - while you can!

Monday, August 17

Works of God Monday

***Salvation Testimony Week has been moved to next week - please pray about and consider your participation!***

We've had a great week this week with many, MANY blessings! Both Michael and I, at separate times, were challenged from God's Word about similar (almost the exact same) things - fantastic! We praise God for working through His Word to challenge and convict us, and pray for the strength and discipline to act on what we know.

I'm also thankful - SO THANKFUL - for my mom & dad being close by, and willing to help out when (like this weekend) I am sick. Somehow Michael, and then I, contracted a summer cold. I was run down to begin with, having had less sleep and my body just took it really hard. I'm recovering, and mom and dad have been lifesavers - taking care of the boys so that I could get the sleep my body needs to get better. I think I need to be more faithful with the vitamins. I was bummed to have to miss church yesterday - but I'm thankful that I've had good health the majority of the summer!

So, how has God been working in your family this week? How has He shown you His goodness and greatness? 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, August 12

In Search Of: Company with Good Service

On the day in which I find a company that gives good customer service, all the time, with first-language English speakers FOR first-language English speakers, this is what will happen:

1. I will do a happy dance. On camera, if requested.
2. I will sing the Hallelujah Chorus, I will even learn all the parts and record them to sing with myself.
3. I will ask Michael if it is okay to marry that company.
4. If he says yes, then I will.
5. Amen.

And then I will make sure that company takes over the world in a good-customer-service-is-normal monopoly. AH, blissful day, I await thee.

Tuesday, August 11

Call Your Doctor!

This morning I called my doctor and set up my annual physical. I've been in and out with babies and colds, but it's been 3 years since my last complete physical. I am not exactly looking forward to it, but I know it's very important, especially as I age. It also serves as a good goal for me - to be a healthier me by October!

How long has it been since you had a physical?

More Opportunities to see God's Works!

A friend of mine recently let me know that her friends from church had a pretty amazing story - and that she and her husband were going to head up a fund raising effort to help them in their journey and to rejoice with them at how God provides. I would like to ask you to go read their story and decide how you will get involved - prayer for the family, rejoicing in what God has done, or donating if God lays that on your heart. God can use you to make a big difference in this family's life, and your heart will be blessed to read this family's story, guaranteed!! We serve such a big God! More information about this project can be found here and here.

Monday, August 10

Works of God Monday

Usually, I post mostly about what God has done in our family, in my life. But sometimes, God works in my life through the lives of others to open my eyes to the bigger, worldwide picture of how He is changing others, making His name known in other parts of the world.

We've been talking to the junior high teens about God's Sovereignty in salvation - how the minute details of how someone hears and accepts the gospel are carefully orchestrated by God, and have been, since eternity past. Which, when I think about it too much, totally blows my mind. As Michael is fond of saying, we have "puny little brains" and there are some things about God that are a mystery to us. When our logic fails, we can trust God - that His Word is true and never changes.

Back when I was in high school, (which is getting to be more of a historical time period by the year) I was blessed to be able to take a ministry-focused class for girls from Nancy Walter, on furlough from her first term to Bangladesh. We learned so much about the realities and blessings of missions/ministry, and it was then that I became aware of a people group without a written language, and as would naturally be the case in an unwritten language, without a translation of Scripture. The Chittagonian-speaking people of Bangladesh.

The Walters have had various areas of ministry over the years, in several locations - keeping them very busy and impacting many people. Nancy shared with us in their update at church last night that there are some very exciting things happening with their ministry in the specific area of Bible translation. They are at a point where portions of Scripture are almost complete - they are hoping for the first 5 books (the Pentateuch) in the next year! Eventually, the passages will be able to be recorded on locked Mp3 players and distributed to people who have never heard the Bible in their own language!

And I was thinking about that - never hearing the Bible in your own language. I was (and am) overcome with many different emotions. We can't ever fully get how big of a deal that is, as our experiences color our view. Just like we can intellectually understand that people worldwide are killed for their faith, but that fact doesn't quite sink in, either, at least not for me.

But God is so GOOD, so HUGE, so Indescribable. He not only allows us to watch Him working, to be involved in the process, He works together the smallest details to create the stories that we know as our salvation testimonies. Occasionally we get to see a glimpse - the tiniest glimpse - of Him. Someday, there will be some Chittagonian-speaking Bengali who hears the gospel in his own heart-language and who will come to realize that he is a sinner, in need of a Savior. And he will have a story that has been orchestrated by God before time began.

I am humbled, amazed, and praising the Lord!! What did it take for my story to be written? For your story? So many details that I cannot even begin to keep track of, and yet, they are simple for God - and He has ordered and kept the details for every person who has ever lived and ever will live!

So, how has God been working in your family this week? How has He shown you His goodness, greatness, and power? 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.

Next week, let's have a salvation testimony week, shall we? Would you think about and work on and pray through whether God would have you share your personal testimony on your blog? I think it would be very encouraging to read YOUR story and praise God at His work in your life.

Sunday, August 9

And the winner is... spit out a #1 for me, and since Andrea's comment was indeed #1, I'll be sending a goody bag out to California!

Thanks to all who entered, and thanks for your birthday wishes and stories of birthdays past!

Saturday, August 8

I mean it. (but I'm not being mean)

Today day is your last chance to enter! Tomorrow I will post my birthday giveaway winner!!

Our Stroller (after 4 months)

Some of you might remember our quest for a double stroller. We have the Chicco Keyfit single travel system, and we didn't particularly want to purchase another infant car seat.

So here are some pictures - we ended up going with the Baby Trend Sit N Stand Plus or something like that - it's a double stroller that converts to a Sit N Stand, which I am planning to do soon. I actually planned to do it sooner, but Evan's still in his infant seat and will be for quite a few more months, so I've been putting it off. But I need to do it soon - see below.

Things I love
1. The car seat works! It's not listed as being compatible - you can see that the bottom does not have the notch that other car seat brands do for locking into the base - but it fits snugly. You do have to push down on it, and the sides of the stroller kind of stretch out a little, but it's snug. And the seat is pretty close to parallel to the ground, so that is good.
2. The lightness - I can easily pick it up and stow it.
3. The easy way it folds
. The versatility - stroller to sit n stand is awesome, and if I had a truly compatible car seat, you can stick the seat in the front OR back - no problem.
5. Snack trays! Removable for kids, 2 cup holders for parents plus a compartment for important items like cell phone, keys, etc!
6. It sorta matches our car seat.
7. Easy strolling, and can handle slightly rougher terrain.

Things I don't like
1. It seems a little flimsy
2. The car seat has been resting on the front seat, so the seam at the top edge is coming apart a little. I can fix this, but I wish I didn't have to.
3. It's hard to push with a 32 pound toddler in the front, especially since his legs are long enough to reach the ground. Time to change to sit n stand!! But...
4. The infant seat will not fit once we do the changeover. So I'm looking for a (cheap!) seat from a garage sale that sorta matches. For Evan, but I'm also thinking ahead. Attention: This is *NOT* an announcement. I am not pregnant.
5. The basket. I don't like that it is hard to get to, and I also don't like the fact that when Aaron IS in back, his feet sort of meander into the basket area.
6. The back seat does not sit up all the way - at least not that we can figure out. So, it is always slightly reclined. Not so comfy for Aaron. He always is moving around trying to get comfortable, but he's not so good at sitting still anyway. And when he's in front, the car seat is definitely in his space.

Overall, I love this stroller. LOVE it. I don't know if I would like the Joovy Caboose any better. If someone wants to fund that test drive, I'd be more than happy to do a review on that one, too. *grins*

I think the solution to most of my "dislike" category is to get a new car seat and switch to the sit n stand feature. Aaron is 3, and that is way too old for a traditional double stroller anyway. Just like it's probably too old for a high chair (only occasionally) and a sippy cup (oops!). I might have a lot of changeovers to do here in the next few months.

Starting with figuring out a way to strap Aaron's booster seat to the chair. Garage sales are fabulous, but occasionally you find that you are missing the safety straps.

Friday, August 7

some kind of record

This is Frank Norman Muth (aka, Frank N. Muth). He is, at first glance, an ordinary fantail goldfish. But there is something awfully special about him. He was a gift (an early gift) for my 25th birthday from my creative husband. We joked that if we could keep him alive, we'd try for some kids.

I am now 30.

I celebrate July 24 as his birthday, but I know he is older than that. He's quite the fish. Wiggly, even though he's long in the fin. He follows you around the bowl, shaking his fantail in greeting. He's spastic, he's hyper. And it's hard to take a picture of a fish in a bowl.

When I made my imaginary list of husband qualities, "pet lover" was NOT on the list. In fact, if I'd met a pet lover, and started dating him, that and that alone could have been a deal breaker for me. I am not into pet hair, pet bodily functions, pet bathing, pet drool, pet prints, vet bills, etc.

I am into Other People's Pets. There is a whole houseful of pets in Niagara, WI, that I'm quite attached to. I hear there's a cute puppy in California who really wants to meet me. I like animals, and I can be friends with them. But in my house? I don't think so. In a barn? Totally another story.

Some of you may still be reeling from my deal-breaker comment. However, this is one issue that I did not want to be fighting about 2 or 20 years into a marriage. It obviously is a non issue, since Michael did not want any hairy pets in the house, either. And his distaste for the idea of indoor pets (at our house) grew after a brief stint at a carpet cleaning company.

But I do love my fish. He's fantastic. He's the spunkiest little guy, swimming merrily along. He's cheated death - a fish food container dumping incident that could have been catastrophic. He's had a fin disease, and lived. He's got the same 1 gallon bowl, the same little plastic plant and blue rocks that he came with. And this pet is ours. The boys love him, too, and he's very low maintenance. Just like me.

Don't deny it - deep down, you wish you had a fish who was even half as cool as Frank.

Win it!!

Win a $50 off $100 Old Navy Coupon here! I don't normally spend this kind of $$ on Clothes, but I do happen to have $25 in ON gift cards at the house and would RUN and spend them to get $100 worth of stuff for $25 out of pocket. (so go enter - and if you can't use that coupon, I know someone who could!!)

Thursday, August 6

make mine a large

The craziest DAY ever turned into a pretty crazy few days. EW. I'm exhausted. I'm also looking forward to going to see a play with Michael tonight. Thanks, Mom & Dad! One of the girls from our youth group is performing tonight, so that makes it even more exciting.

And as for how to spend the time between now and then, I'm hoping for either a nap or a JUMBO dose of energy. Anyone know where I can find an energy bottler? Aaron has plenty enough for the two of us. It's so fun. He asked to wear is "fast running shoes" today and then in the van was mimicking everything I said and laughing maniacally. He knows it's annoying, and thinks it's funny. Yesterday, he came over and gave me a very long, thoughtful look. I inquired what he was thinking about - his answer? "I just love you, mom."

Melt, melt.

And thanks to Kara, I'm now wishing I hadn't sworn off sweets (welllll, I'm at least drooling over the recipes she linked). If I make these without icing, would it still count as a dessert?

And speaking of giving up desserts, I actually had to give away half of my birthday cake. None of you called me and asked for some, so you only have yourselves to blame. *grin* If you haven't already, get on over and enter my birthday giveaway already!!

Tuesday, August 4

Don't forget!!

AHH this is the craziest day ever. Well, in a long, long time. CRANKY kiddos with very short naps. So all I am going to say is this - don't forget to enter to win my birthday goody bag!

Monday, August 3

Works of God Monday (extended edition)

What a week it's been! Most of you have been able to see God at work in your family in ways big and in the little things - isn't it amazing to serve and love a God Who is always present, Who has the details of our lives already planned out, and Who gives us the grace we need for every moment? Let's praise Him together!!

Many of you know that I started my Pampered Chef business at the end of June. I had a very specific set of goals that I personally wanted to meet by the end of July - Pampered Chef wasn't pressuring me, I just wanted to get there. Wednesday of last week, it looked rather unlikely. Then I closed my last two shows and thanks to the provision of God through hard working friends and family, I made my monthly sales goal!

I cannot even tell you how thankful I am - the bonuses that meeting this goal earned will really help the business and hopefully will allow us as a family to do some of the things we've been hoping to do financially. Not to mention, I'm getting the best ever Pampered Chef goods stash. Really. I love it!!

Michael has plenty of work to meet our needs - don't get me wrong. And I am VERY thankful for that in a time when most construction workers are struggling to find work. But we are hoping to build our savings with the additional income, and this will help us (hopefully) stay out of debt and avoid "Jehovah Visa" traps. And I don't know if this happens with any of you in your family, but it seems like just when you feel like you're pulling ahead, something else goes wrong - case in point, last week our van needed a $300+ repair that rendered the air conditioning useless and yesterday the van window came off the track. Yeah, one thing after another.

OK rabbit trail! I'm thankful for God's provision through a new job for me. He has orchestrated the details in unimaginable ways, and it's neat to watch Him working.

Blessings also this weekend with the 3rd birthday of Aaron, and my 3rd decade birthday. We had a great time - pictures here. I didn't get to share this in the photo album, but my birthday was so great! We went to church, and Michael taught Sunday School, then we went to work in the 2 year old nursery. There were 14 toddlers in there, and it was fun to get to know Aaron's church friends a little bit. 2 year olds are hilarious. I'm just glad we don't have 14 at our house all at once. They are FULL of energy. I was blessed to be able to serve at our church on my birthday.

Then my parents watched the kiddos during naptime and Michael took me out to lunch for our favorite local Chinese food. It was so nice to be able to gaze mushily into each other's eyes over chopsticks and lo mein. *grin* And then we pretended like we were house shopping and hit an open house before coming home for ice cream coconut cake. YUMMY! A very nice day, to be sure. And don't forget to check out my online birthday party. There's still some cake left! And a week left to win a goody bag!

The missions team from our church is off - left early this morning on their way to Peru to work for 10 days with Tim & Cheryl Chapman. The teens did a little presentation at church last night and I'm thrilled that they get such a great opportunity. I'm certain that God will do a work in their lives, and I am praying that they would be able to see God working in a much different way than usual. Will you pray with me for them?

So, how has God been working in YOUR life this week? It can be something teeny or something gigantic, but please share. It is so encouraging to hear about your blessings, and to be reminded that God is working at all times in all places.

"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, August 2

It's my birthday! Let's PARTY!

This is my actual birthday cake. Looks yummy, doesn't it? Mmm. Coconut cake, cookies & cream ice cream, and toasted coconut on top. It was quite yummy. And I have plenty left over, so come on in and have a slice! Let the party begin!!

(Thanks, mom. It is a delicious cake. You did a great job!)

If you weren't around for last year's festivities, you can check out what we did last year and some of our party games (look and laugh, that is) And while you're laughing, you can look at the MULTITUDE of candles on this cake! Good thing I had a helper!

I'm boring in some ways - more ways than I'm exciting, that is, so...I'm asking you for the same gift I asked for last year - leave me a comment, would you? I am so happy that you are here and that you read my blog, and I'd love to know who you lurkers are! You can say anything you like - if it's nice, that is! But if you need some ideas, tell me your most embarrassing birthday memory. I dare not tell mine in mixed company, believe you me. So please, help my thirtieth be a happier one with YOU as a vocal party guest!

Since I'm marking the end of my third decade, I'm giving a really stellar birthday goody bag away to one commenter! (One commenter who lives in the continental US or has a US address I can send this to, that is.) I am so grateful to have passed another milestone birthday! Hurray for birthdays!!

So you want to know what's in the goody bag this year? Well, there will be some surprises, because I'm all about surprises. But I'll tell you some of the items (most are some of my favorite things)

And you should know me well enough to know that any gift bag of mine would need to be frugal, right? Well, there ya go.

- my almost-favorite shade of toenail polish, Elf's Light Red. My real favorite is opi's "I'm Not Really a Waitress" but if I'm going to spend $8, I'd rather spend it on something else. So Elf's Light Red is pretty close to opi's shade - with 2 coats - and it's only $1.

- Some Avon lip gloss, spice and plum. I got a boatload of freebies and these two shades were multiples, so I'm passing them to you.

- A neat little green and cream print zippered cloth bag, which you can use for makeup touch up kit or pencils or crayons or whatever strikes your fancy.

- Mini body butters from the Body Shop. I have Strawberry and Cranberry to give away today.

- some Pampered Chef goodies, of course. Surprises, of course.

And who knows what else could be in there. It's my birthday, and I'm liable to run out and get a gift card as well, I'm feeling so sprightly in my middle years. I haven't decided how much or where yet, but there will be something in there like that.

So, comment away! I will be drawing a winner next Sunday afternoon, so don't miss your chance! Just make sure I know how to contact you in the event that you win!

I didn't get a disco ball this year, (rats! rats!) but we can go right ahead and play a rousing round of Memory, or Hi Ho Cherry-O. Or Hungry Hippos, if you really want to live on the edge. At any rate, let the party begin!!!

Happy Sunday Birthday

Running a little behind, as usual. Come back later for the big birthday bash. I've got places to go (church) and people to see (the 2 year olds in the nursery!)