Monday, April 30, 2012

Conferences, traveling, and a full week!

This past week was a full, wonderful, and blessed week. The blog was quieter than usual, because I've been out of town without internet access. I loved the quietness of being "offline" for 7 days, but I sure am glad to be back!

Tuesday afternoon I left with my mom and brother to go to a Bible conference a couple hours away. The conference was amazing! The speakers were very motivational, and I learned a lot while I was there. In addition to having the sessions, there were MANY books there. I spent most of the break time going through the many options, making a list, and finally settling on the VERY BEST books there. I was thrilled with my finds.
My hubby's family was there also.
I'd hoped to get a picture of all of us,
but that last day Harmony and I were the only ones
to show up for lunch!
While the conference was wonderful, I hated being away from my man for so long. I was so glad to be headed home afterwards! But I was only home for about an hour before my husband picked me up and we headed to A Weekend To Remember. It was soooo nice to spend the entire weekend focusing on our marriage, and having time to just relax together. The last couple months have been incredibly busy for us, and we needed time to just be us for a few days.

We also found a number of ways that we could focus on improving our marriage in the future. I have not been as intentional about working on our relationship as I was when we first got married (read: I've gotten lazy), and this was a good reminder to me to not let that relationship slide. My marriage is the most important human relationship I have, and the ONLY relationship that scripture calls me to for life. Keeping that relationship constantly growing isn't an optional thing (but it IS a fun thing!).  

My hubby wrote his recap of the weekend here, if you are interested in hearing the other side.

While I've enjoyed the last week of traveling around, it is wonderful to be home again. I'm looking forward to keeping a lower profile the next couple weeks, as I focus on physically resting (the traveling may have been fun, but it was wearing on this pregnant lady--especially as the first conference didn't have AC) and preparing my home for our new blessing.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Menu Planning Tips from Mama

Lessons from mama is a weekly guest post from my mother, sharing different lessons on homemaking she has learned over the years. This was inspired after I interviewed her for the series "Teachers of Good Things."  You can head over to her interview to see a more complete list of the topics we will be covering (it is under the 5th question, What would you have done differently as a single woman to prepare for this?).

1. Make a habit of planning your menus each week (This is made easier by having several seasonal menus that you use over and over)

2. Plan your menus based on the local grocery store loss leaders. Avoid paying full price for your food. Build up your pantry. Shop early in the day to find marked down items. WalMart does price matching. I will tell you how in another post.

3.  Also plan your menus on what you already have in your pantry and freezer.

4. Cook at least one family favorite menu per week in bulk for stocking your freezer.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Peanut Butter Protein Shake

This is another shake recipe. Instead of focusing on getting in my greens and coconut oil, as I did with the pineapple smoothie recipe posted last week, this shake focuses entirely on protein. Protein is very important during pregnancy, as it has been proven that when a mother eats 80-120 grams of protein each day the risk of pre-eclampsia drops dramatically. 

My midwife has encouraged me to shoot for 100-120 grams of protein each day. Since then I learned that I have several of the risk factors of pre-eclampsia (one of which is a first time pregnancy). I've been very careful to maintain my protein intake, and I believe this is one reason my pregnancy has been 100% without complaint so far.

This particular protein shake is enough for two people.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Grace in the hard times

I didn't write out my list day by day this week, and as I sit down to put a weeks worth of joys to paper I'm pretty foggy. This has been the most intense week I've had in awhile, both physically and emotionally.

Physically the pregnancy is catching up with me. I have to pace myself in a way I haven't needed to before. It isn't that I can't do things anymore, it's that I can't do everything anymore. I have to prioritize. If the priority is getting out of the house and doing grocery shopping, or family visiting, or my registry--well, I can do that. But I can't do that and all the days housework.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Redeeming memories

I'm sitting down to write without thinking through what I want to say. Probably not a good start for a post, and not usually the way I roll. But for the moment, it is what it is.

My midwife appointment was today. It went well, and set to rest some concerns I had. Preeclampsia? Donna laughed. Literally none of the red flags except an unusual weight gain the last couple weeks. Concerned about that "unusual" weight gain? Well, my weight has been on the low side throughout this pregnancy, and apparently Baby R decided to have a growth spurt the past two weeks. I'm now right on track with where I should be. All is well.

 Donna advised me not to self diagnose with Google anymore.

I think I'll take her advice.

Afterwards I went out with my SIL and MIL for lunch and some Buy Buy Baby drooling. The meal was a lovely and rare treat. I can't remember the last time the three of us have gone out together--it's pretty fun that Melody and I use the same midwife. Melody is now at almost 3 weeks past her estimated due date (she suspects the due date might be off a tad). She's so ready to have her little boy!

After killing time for a couple hours I was invited to accompany the two of them to Melody's sonogram. I hesitated, but said yes. Some associations ought to be redeemed. Associations like the ones I have with sonograms. And it's been long enough that I was ready to redeem this one.

The last time I went to get a sonogram--the ONLY time I've been to a sonogram--was when I saw my little baby's heart not beating. I hoped if I went with Melody, saw her little Timothy safe and well, I wouldn't associate the sonogram with lifeless, silent, broken hearts. My head knows not all of them end like that... but my experience (and emotions) says otherwise.

I didn't realize that Melody was going to the same place I went until we pulled into the parking lot. I'd just wanted to redeem the process of getting a sonogram--not necessarily the place. Had I known, I might not have gone.  I couldn't think of anything but my baby--my first baby--as I stepped out of the car.

It was the same parking lot Richard and I went to.

We sat in the same waiting area,

With the same midwife, and midwife's assistant,

for the same amount of time,

and ultimately were ushered into the same room, with the same screen, that had showed my baby, Christian, so silent and still, not quite a year ago.

I studied the faces of the people who were ahead of us, especially the mamas, as they came out. Were they happy? Or did I really see traces of the devastation I'd felt myself not long ago? I couldn't tell.

It wasn't a birthing class, but sometimes I felt like it was as I silently coached myself to breathe in.... breath out.

Once in the room I watched the screen intently, unable to discipher what was so obvious to the technician.  I could only tell the basics--Timothy was big and moving around, Christian had been tiny and still. Eventually all the "pictures" and measurements had been taken, and Donna talked to Melody. I got to see what midwives talk about when everything is well.

Did I redeem the memory, the process?

I don't know. I didn't realize how hard it would be, how draining. The grief took me by storm. I'd thought after 11 months I was past all of it... but I'm still a mama separated from her baby. Pregnancy is healing, but one baby doesn't replace another baby in a mama's heart.

But I'm glad I did it. I'm glad I saw a healthy, active whole baby. Next time I go in to get a sonogram it will probably be just a checkup, not because something might be wrong. Next time I will think of Timothy, and hold that memory, instead of holding the other one, and the fears that it brings.

And next time, Lord willing, my husband and I will walk out with smiles instead of tears.

Together with Baby

Joining Lisa-Jo and others this morning for Five Minute Friday, where we cut the words loose for just five minutes, and see where they fall. No editing, just encouraging the others who play along. The topic today is Together.

In just a few more weeks my baby will be with us in person. I will get to meet the little one I've been carrying and feeling for months now. It really is hard to believe how soon that time is. From right now I have three and a half weeks until I'm considered "full term." (37 weeks) While I expect this little one to go long rather than short, the idea that we could conceivably meet in just a very (very!) few weeks is breathtaking.

The last few months we've been together in such a special way. I feel kicks, and turns and lumps and bumps like I never expected. I remember the first time Baby was big enough to feel his (or her) rump. All of a sudden a huge lump poked out of my tummy. It looked strange and felt strange, and when I showed Daddy how his baby was laying he had the most surprised expression on his face!!

Other times when baby is wiggly I just watch my tummy and giggle. Last night a friend sitting across the couch from me asked if the baby was moving--because she could SEE baby moving!

Yes, the last few months of being together in this "oneness" sort of way has been wonderful and entertaining all at the same time. But I'm looking forward to another form of togetherness in just a month or two. The kind of togetherness in which I can see the face of my little one, know their name, and find out whether I've got a boy or a girl. Just a few more weeks.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lessons from Mama

Earlier this year I mentioned my plans to focus on encouraging young ladies during the season of singleness, courtship, engagement, and early marriage. We started this focus with a twice weekly series of interviews with married women (and a few men). I undertook the project as the natural first step in encouraging other young ladies, but I truly had no idea how much I was going to learn in the process! It really was fantastic talking to all these ladies and learning for myself the lessons God had taught them over the years.
After reading the material that my mom shared for her interview I realized it was far too comprehensive to include in a single post. So, starting this coming week she will be sharing a weekly lesson on useful skills for a young lady to know before marriage. A few of the topics she will be touching on are:

Menu planning
Grocery shopping
Staying in a budget
House cleaning

You can head over to her interview to see a more complete list of the topics (it is under the 5th question, What would you have done differently as a single woman to prepare for this?).

This series will be on Thursdays, so check back this time next week for her first post!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pineapple Smoothie

I should probably save the best for last, but instead I'm doing it first! This is currently my favorite smoothie. I love the flavor, and it actually hits all four of my pregnancy nutrition weak points! I took pictures last time I made it, and here is how it comes out:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Counting the Grace Gifts

Counting the Grace Gifts from this week:

407. Time with BOTH sides of the family on Easter Sunday
408. A hairstyle done by my sweet SIL, Faith
409. Sharing my "brilliant Christmas plans" with my female relatives.
410. Visits with my SIL next door

411. Lox on a bagel (yum!)
412. Laughing (and cringing) with my man during birthing class
413. A clean house
414. An hour with my sweet doulas, getting to know them better
415. Taking the kids out for a surprise Cold Stone run

416. Putting my feet up after a day on the run
417. The Keepers quilt, started
418. A scissortailed flycatcher perched on a fence just a few feet away
419. An afternoon nap

420. Community group, after so many weeks
421. Laughing with friends over ridiculous things (our son, if we  have a son, named "Superman Wolfrider?" I doubt it :-P)
422. A new book
423. Accomplishing a long-term goal

424. Finishing the registries--or at least, getting the legwork done
425. Pizza, after a long morning of walking
426. Finding the perfect fabrics for my quilt
427. Coming home to a man willing to fix dinner while I put my feet up (these pregnant feet aren't willing to go as far as they used to go, and I forget and attempt more than I can do, and these feet protest and dinner seems insurmountable)

10 weekly goals

I'm joining Crystal this month in working on getting my home organized. I'll never be able to get my house organized if I don't have my priorities for the week firmly in mind. So for the next month I'll be posting my weekly goals each Monday.

This past week wasn't so great as far as goal reaching goes. I forgot about a few events this week, and wasn't able to keep up with both the added things and my goals. Oh, well. I still got a lot done, even if it wasn't all on my list. :-)
1. Keep up with birthing class homework
2. Meet with Doulas
3. Bluebonnet pictures with my man [To my chagrin I was thwarted in my attempts at bluebonnet pictures for the third year in a row, this time by multiple bad-weather days. The bluebonnets are gone now, but I have multiple strategies for next year--including days off work, and developing weather controlling abilities]

4. Walk every day for 20 minutes
5. Send two thank you notes, one birthday note
6. Get quilt fabric from quilt shop

7. Continue keeping up with Crystals Home organization challenge
8. Finish Master BR closet

9. Prepare next week's keepers project
10. Visit one church family [attempt was made, but unsuccessful]
Here are my goals for this week:
1. Keep up with birthing class homework
2. One evening at home with my man

3. Exercise daily
4. Rest daily (nap or just putting my feet up)
5. Clothes/shoe shopping

6. Work on the Home Organization Challenge
7. Finish Master Closet

8. Prepare next weeks' Keepers project
9. Finish last week of work
10. Clean out Richard's Church office

Friday, April 13, 2012

Baby List

 Through most of this pregnancy I've been pretty relaxed about preparing for Baby. The first trimester I specifically asked to not be given baby products, because of my recent miscarriage. The second trimester I just had other things to think about, and the baby was far enough off that I didn't feel a need to focus on getting "baby stuff."

The last couple weeks that has changed. Showers loom on the horizon, meaning I do actually need to get the registry together (and "No" my family insists, "Amazon doesn't count."). Birthing classes remind me weekly of all the things I DON'T know and need to learn. The homework, though not hard, keeps my mind focused during the week. More frequent midwife appointments let me listen to Baby R more often, and the added discomforts of late pregnancy make me thankful for the recently started bi-monthy chiropractor visits. All of these things added together remind me that this baby is coming, and I've got less than 7 weeks left to prepare.

(in fact, while I expect Baby to come closer to 41 weeks, a 37 week baby isn't considered premature. So... in reality, I've actually got 4 weeks to get ready, just in case.)

So here is a list of my baby needs, and how I'm coming with accumulating them. I've divided it into several parts, in (semi) order of necessity:


Carseat~Needs to be new for safety reasons, I registered for one on Amazon.

Diapers/wipes (either cloth or disposable)~I plan to use cloth diapers primarily, but with so many options I have concerns about purchasing a bunch before Baby and I can try them out together. I've registered for a couple different ones on Amazon, and when we find out which cloth diaper works best for us I'll "stock up" on the cloth.

Clothing~I have a few different sets of onsies already from grandparents and friends. I'm focusing on gender neutral colors (yellow, green, etc).

 Stroller~Of course.

Diaper Bag~I'm in love with my SIL's diaper bag, which isn't actually a diaper bag. It's a Vera Bradley, so it doesn't have the plastic lining. She's been using it for a year and says that isn't a problem--and it's a lot cuter than most of the diaper bags I've seen in the store!

Sling or carrier~I'm not sure what type, but something that allows me to keep baby close but hands free. When Baby gets bigger my hubby already has a baby backpack for going on walks in. 

Receiving blankets/spit up cloths~Probably quite a few of these... :-P

Baby Bath~Yeah, gonna need this. Definitely don't want to be bathing baby in the sink. Registered for it at Babies R Us. 

Nice to Have

Bottles/pump~I'm getting two different kinds of bottles, glass bottles (normal bottle nipple) and breastflow (made to simulate breastfeeding). We'll see which works better for us.

Playpen~Already have this thanks to my aunt/uncle!

Swing~Definitely handy to have.

Diaper pail~Yeah.... Definitely a good thing. Even if we are focusing on using cloth. :P

Nursing cover/supplies~These will see a lot of use.


Changing table/dresser combo~With storage space being a premium in the apartment, a dresser is very close to an "absolute necessity" need. If I have to get a dresser anyway, it might as well have the changing table top on it. 

Crib and mattress~I haven't picked out the crib, but I've narrowed it down to two styles I like. The mattress has to be organic, as regular mattresses have a lot of chemicals and Baby R will be spending a lot of time here. This isn't under "absolute necessities" because Baby R will be with us the first couple months in a bassinet. It would be really nice to have this before delivery, but if we don't we'll get it after. :)

Book Case~In our 2 bdrm apartment, the second bedroom is split between nursery (one half) and office/library (other half). We have three bookcases currently, and enough books piled around them to fill a fourth book case. There won't be space for baby stuff until we get those books put away. 

So, yes. Pretty much starting from scratch here as everything I have but the playpen and a box of diapers is pictured. But honestly, I do feel better about making a list. There aren't nearly as many things as I thought there would be. I may be "starting at the very beginning," but we can do this. :-)


Joining Lisa-Jo and others this morning for Five Minute Friday, where we cut the words loose for just five minutes, and see where they fall. No editing, just encouraging the others who play along. The topic today is Goodbye.

Good byes are hard, and I feel like I've been doing more than my fair share of t hem lately. If there is such a thing as fair share. There isn't, really. I just don't like saying goodbye. Any goodbye at all feels like "more than my fair share."

I'd like to make this a memorable, thought provoking post, but it isn't shaping up to be that way. Oh, well. It's five minute Friday, so that's okay, right? :)

I like my life the way it is, and I don't like saying goodbye to things or people. Especially people. I like stuff, but most of it I could take or leave. When it comes to people, that's different. I don't mind adding in new friends, in fact I love meeting new people. But when God starts moving people out of my life, that's something I'm not okay with. I don't like chapters to close.

I guess this is the point where I have to remember that no matter what happens on this earth, because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, we don't truly have to say good bye to any of our brothers or sisters in Christ. The worst case synario is "see you later, for all eternity." Which isn't really that bad.

While it might be frustrating, or heart rending, or irritating or any number of things in the here and now, thinking in light of eternity (which we are always supposed to do) goodbyes aren't really all that scary or terrible. And we have Jesus and his gift, and God and his acceptance of that gift to thank for that.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pregnancy nutrition--new series

At the birthing class my husband and I are attending I have to keep up with what I eat each day as part of my weekly homework. I am following Dr Brewers Pregnancy Nutrition Program.

I've been keeping semi-close tabs on my nutrition throughout this pregnancy. At first the part of my diet that was the most challenging was getting all my protein and dairy in. According to Dr. Brewer, I need to drink a quart of milk a day--and for someone who didn't previously drink milk at all that was a major change!! In addition, usually during pregnancy a woman needs to consume 80-100 grams of protein a day. For various reasons, my midwife asked me to shoot for 100-120 grams of protein daily. That's a LOT of protein! After a month or so I got into the rhythm of dairy and protein, and now it isn't hard at all. I just evaluate pretty much everything I eat based on protein count. 

Now that I'm keeping a food journal again, I'm finding the two things I struggle most with are the greens and coconut oil. The greens have always been a challenge, because I just don't care for salads. I can remember maybe four green salads in my life I liked well enough for seconds. I just don't like lettuce, spinach, and other leafy greens, no matter how good they are for me. That isn't to say I won't eat them if they are served to me (or are drenched in enough unhealthy salad dressing), but I don't typically make them myself--and certainly not to the tune of two servings per day!

Coconut oil isn't technically in Dr. Brewers diet, though "3 servings of healthy fats" are. I'm going specifically for coconut oil due to its wonderful health benefits. But eating coconut oil just isn't tasty. I've tried it in warm tea and warm milk, and even tried eating a spoonful straight. Yuck. Consuming it as a supplement just isn't my thing. Last class, however, my teacher explained to us that the reason the fats are so important (especially at this stage in pregnancy) is that if they are consumed regularly they will increase the moisture and "strechability" of the skin.   One doesn't have to consider the birthing process very long to see why this would be a very, very good thing.... So, back to thinking creatively about coconut oil.  

The next couple weeks on Tuesdays I'm going to share a few recipes that have been a huge help to me in getting my pregnancy nutrition in good order. Some of them have helped me in all four of my difficult areas, some are just great (healthy) snacks. Pretty much all of them are reasonably fast, easy, and inexpensive. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Zacon seafood event!!

I just got an email yesterday saying that Zaycon is coming back to Texas--this time with seafood!! I'm SUPER excited about this event. I've shared a few times how much my hubby and I have enjoyed the regular chicken, Bacon and beef events that Zaycon sponsors. Their meat is high quality, and I have never been disappointed by an order from Zaycon.

A month ago they did a beef event and included Tilapia as a test run to see if there was a demand for it in Texas. I was excited about the event because I try to regularly include low-mercury fish in my pregnancy diet. Tilapia happens to have very low levels of mercury, so it is ideal for pregnancy. Sadly, I didn't move fast enough! The tilapia sold out in just a few days--looooong before the official close date!

Yesterday evening I got an email saying that  Zaycon is bringing Tilapia back in another event in couple weeks. This time in addition to Tilapia they are making both Shrimp and Wild-Caught Alaskan True Cod available! This is the first time  Zaycon has ever done a seafood event in Texas.

Here are the details on the sea-food:

Alaskan True Cod - ONLY $5.39/lb.
White 31/40 Shrimp (cooked) - ONLY $6.39/lb.
Tilapia - ONLY $2.99/lb.

Alaskan True Cod

  • Delicious True COD fillets — the closest thing to a same-day catch as possible
  • Caught in the icy cold waters of Alaska and flash frozen
  • Each fillet is IQF (individually quick frozen) and packaged in a single 20-lb bag inside the case
  • Sold by the case — 20 lbs in each case

White 31/40 Shrimp

  • Flash Frozen and Fully Cooked
  • Comes in 5 - 2lb. bags per case. (2 cases per order) Totally 20 pound purchase.
  • Farm Raised


  • Flash Frozen Fillets
  • Comes in a 20 pound case
  • Farm raised
If you are interested in any of these items I recommend ordering ASAP. The deadline for the orders is April 25th, but last time it was offered the Tilapia sold out in just a few days. I can only imagine that the Cod and Shrimp will go pretty quickly as well. 

A few of the links in this post are my affiliate link. Read my disclosure policy here

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day by day


Perhaps I've been saying this too much, but the weeks are stretching long. Not long and boring, time that can't be filled, but long and full. So full I can't believe that some of the pictures below are only one week old. It seems like I've lived a lifetime in the last few days. 

Some of the living has been good--moments that are to the soul like breathing air is to the body, life-giving. Other bits of the living have been very, very hard. Moments that I am glad that God knows what He is doing, because in my humble opinion the situations look like messes, not beautiful masterpieces. Those are the moments I cling to verses such as Romans 8:28 (And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God).  

But I know I can trust Him, and continue to thank Him for the gifts He gives so generously day by day. 

#383 (5 weeks, 31 weeks, 40 weeks pregnant)
383. Pregnant with both my sisters in law at the same time (I was praying for that, barely got the picture, SIL on the left found out she was expecting last week,  SIL in the right was due Monday!)
384. The looks I got as I went around cheerfully handing out "Doughnut seeds" at church on April 1st.
385. My husband, preaching at church
386. Granny and Grandpa, honored for 11 years with this church--after 45 years of overseas missions.

387. Dinner with my man, sharing my heart and him hearing.
388. Finishing out my first shelf reliance party--hurray!
389. Attending our first Bradley birthing class
390. The look on my husband's face at some of the pictures in that class... :-P


391. My husband, insisting on buying me a waterbottle right after class, keeping up with the homework faithfully, and making a point to look after "his pregnant wife." :-)
392. "All is well" after the tornados went through--PTL for safety
393. Cutting out the quilt squares to my newest project
394. The Keepers, sewing away with all their quilt squares
395. My birthday!
396. A mini-party, just because we are together (and three different people planning it independently :P)
397. Reconciliation


398. Going on a walk with my brother
399. The "pool" that has been started where my husband works to guess the gender and birthdate of our baby
400. The home, getting increasingly organized

401. My first-ever chiropractor appointment
402. The feeling of relief in my back and hips after the appointment. ahhhhhhh. *happy mama*
403. Midwife telling me that the baby is facing the right direction--and that doesn't usually change at this stage. whoo-hoo! :-D
404. Mini-vacation with my family as we visit my uncle
405. A full weekend to just relax
406. My niece, soooo in love with dogs (she can say three words now, mama, daddy, and doggy)

Monday, April 9, 2012

10 weekly goals

I'm joining Crystal this month in working on getting my home organized. I'll never be able to get my house organized if I don't have my priorities for the week firmly in mind. So for the next month I'll be posting my weekly goals each Monday.

 My goals from last week:
1. One quiet evening with my hubby
2. Attend first birthing class, keep up with homework! Done! (and the class was great!)

3. Walk every day for 15-20 minutes {Done--I'm doing a lot better with exercise now, and the daily walking is definitely a good thing.}
4. Send two thank you notes, one birthday note--{Eh, not last week. But it's still on the list. }
5. Finish listening to MSM Budget, post review Review posted here.

6. Work on master BR closet, toss or properly store anything not used frequently {Worked a bit on this every day, will need more work, though.}
7. Prepare Easter dishes 

8. Close first Shelf Reliance party
9. Prepare next keepers project
10. Write first two posts of next blog series {And Done! :)}
Altogether this past week was pretty good for accomplishing the goals! Here is what I'm working on for this week:

1. Keep up with birthing class homework
2. Meet with Doulas
3. Bluebonnet pictures with my man

4. Walk every day for 20 minutes
5. Send two thank you notes, one birthday note
6. Get quilt fabric from quilt shop

7. Continue keeping up with Crystals Home organization challenge
8. Finish Master BR closet

9. Prepare next week's keepers project
10. Visit one church family

Friday, April 6, 2012

March Check In

It's time for a reading challenge update, and to my dismay I realized that I didn't actually finish a single book in the month of March!! I've done bits and pieces of reading, and am making progress through books I started last month, but nothing new was finished in March.

I have posted a few book reviews, though:

The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands and The Collapse of Evolution. Also, as a wrap up to my interview series Teachers of Good Things, I asked the women to share books that had impacted the way they viewed relationships, singleness, and preparing for marriage. The result was a list of the best 18 books for women--or at least the most highly recommended. The list can be found here.

I expect next month will go much better as far as reading goes. :-)

Light of the World

Joining Lisa-Jo and others this morning for Five Minute Friday, where we cut the words loose for just five minutes, and see where they fall. No editing, just encouraging the others who play along. The topic today is Light.


Ye are the light of the world--a city set on an hill cannot be hid, neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, where it giveth light unto all that are in the house" (Mat 5:14-15)

Jesus tells us that we are the light of the world. Because we are Christ followers, because we have been given the light, we must share the light. How short sighted is it of us, when we know the truth, to remain behind our safe church doors and refuse to go out into the world to share the light with others?

Jesus also said, "I am the light of the world, whoever believes in me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have light of life." (John 8:12) He has promised to go with us as we shine our candles in the darkness. This Jesus, who gave everything he had down to the last drop of blood, has promised to be with us.

He didn't promise that being in the world would be easy, in fact he told us quite the opposite. "In this world you will have tribulation." (John 16:33) But he did promise to "never leave us nor forsake us." (Heb 13:15)

It is resurrection Sunday in just a few more days. Today is Good Friday. Today we remember Jesus' death on the cross, a brutal death he choose to save us from the darkness of our sins. It is a dark day. But Sunday, this Sunday, is Resurrection Sunday. The day our Savior conquered death and hell. The day that the Light shown brightest in the world. May that light, through our words and testimony, keep shining.

"Let your light so shine before men that they [...] may glorify your father which is in heaven." (Mat 5:16)


Edited to add verse references (I'm terrible with remembering where verses are in the Bible...)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Organizing the home: Day 4

On day 4 of the Organize Your Home challenge over at MoneySavingMom. Even though we're only 4 days into the challenge I'm already seeing measurable progress. It's exciting to see the house looking better little by little, especially in ways that are long-term improvements. Here are the assignments she gave for today:
  • Get dressed in something that makes you feel great
  • Sit down and make a list of no more than 5-7 specific things you want to accomplish today.
  • Complete your morning routine
  • Set the timer for 15 minutes and do a quick-clean of your bathroom.
  • Clean out underneath your beds and furniture. Remove clutter and trash and put it away or throw it away. Move the furniture (if possible) and vacuum underneath.
  • Find 7 items to get rid of today. Throw them out, stick them in a donate or garage sale box, give them to a friend who can use them, or list them on Craigslist or eBay.

This morning was a slow start because we very late night last night (we were up a good hour or two later than usual). Without the challenge I probably would have been  in my PJs a lot later than 9:00, but as it was I was up and moving around (although slowly) at a good time. 

Here is a fuzzy snapshot of my "to do" list: 

As you can see, I didn't exactly stick to the "5-7" things limit. But I've found that putting a number of steps down that can be checked off is much more effective for me than only putting down major tasks. I've always been a list gal, and I love the feeling when I can scratch something off my list. Checking off 5 bigger things from my list isn't as satisfying to me as checking off 10 smaller things. So... I tend to have longer lists. :-)

I did clean the bathrooms, it was a quick clean but they look much better now than they did! I also did a series of 15 minute blitzes on several other areas of the house. This worked so well yesterday that I decided to give it another try. Again--it worked great! The house is measurably improving. 

I didn't clean under the bed/furniture, mainly because it wasn't really necessary. I cleaned under the couches recently, and we just got our bed up off the floor a week or two ago. So.... no problems there.

And there is my pile of things to get rid of. Again, I'm working on clearing out the excess in our master closet. I'd expected my hubby to keep his old choir polos for sentimental reasons, but when I asked him he just wanted to keep the one that still fit. Guess I'm the sentimental one. :-P

MoneySavingMom's Budget

I grew up in a frugal home, with a mom who knew how to creatively make the budget work even when it was a challenge. Because of this there were a number of concepts in The Money Saving Mom's Budget
 that weren't new to me. But even with such a great example in my mom, Crystal packed a lot of creative tips that I'd never thought of. She challenged me to think creatively in every area of our life to use our finances most effectively.

Perhaps the thing that I appreciated most about this book is how achievable Crystal makes budgeting. She doesn't encourage night-and-day changes that are extreme and don't last long-term. Instead she outlines achievable guidelines to gradually add self-discipline to the budget. These guidelines are doable for anyone.

In addition, she doesn't insist on a certain formula for financial success. Aren't interested in coupons? There are plenty of other tips you could use! Aren't really one for cooking every meal from scratch? You'll still benefit from this book. Don't really have time to consider outside work or working at home? Crystal still has some GREAT ideas for effectively living well on one income.

My favorite chapters were the first three. In these chapters Crystal emphasizes the importance of organizing your life and home before organizing your budget. This aspect of the book was something I didn't expect to see in a book about finances, but makes the whole book far more effective and life changing. Crystal isn't just encouraging budgeting or couponing, instead she is emphasizing a complete lifestyle makeover.

I enjoyed listening to the audio version of this book. The recording is well done, and listening to it being read by the author was a treat. I definitely can recommend this to anyone who is interested in streamlining their finances effectively and permanently.

(Note: Some of the links in this post are my referral links. Read my disclosure policy here.)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Organizing the home: Day 3

Yesterday was quite the day for getting things done around the house! I'm pretty proud of my progress so far. I got up in the morning and "got dressed in something that made me feel good." I made my to-do list, and then completed my morning routine of QT, breakfast, etc.

An addition to the morning routine is getting in at least 15 minutes of walking each morning. My husband and I started our birth class earlier this week, and the knowledge that next week I'm going to have to share both my progress in keeping up with exercise and my (healthy) eating log is huge motivation to make sure I do well in both areas. Accountability is a very good thing.

Instead of doing a 15 minute clean on the bedroom, I did four 15 minute blitzs on four different areas of the house--kitchen, bedroom, living area, and fridge. I went a little over on my time (ended up being closer to 20 minutes per area) but it was amazing how much progress I made in just a little over an hour! It was very encouraging. When I started the bedroom was pretty awful (the piles of clean laundry needing to be put away weren't helping):

Here is what it looked like when I'd finished:

Instead of doing the freezer, I decided to work on the fridge (Day 2's assignment that I missed due to tornado excitement). I do a lot of freezer cooking and tend to organize my freezer on a pretty regular basis, so it isn't too bad anyway. The fridge is a different story.

Looks like a lot of stuff in there for two people, yes? I was amazed at how many expired jars and past-due veggies were in that fridge. Here's the after picture:

It was so much better!!! If I can make progress like THAT every day during the challenge, my house is going to be amazing by next month!

A project I've been working on little by little is cleaning out our master closet.  Here is a pile of clothes that no longer fit. I'm sure there are seven things in there, though I didn't actually count:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Organizing the home: Day 2

I got up this morning and packed breakfast and lunch for my man, and had my own morning shake. I did my quiet time, went on a walk with my brother, and got dressed for the day (not in that order!). The maternity shirt is a new-to-me top, and I love the cheerful colors. The pants are the last pair of pants that still fit me.... When I blissfully went maternity clothes shopping several months ago it truly did not occur to me that I might actually outgrow my maternity clothes also. :-P

We had a bit of an adventure this afternoon, when about three storm systems complete with I'm not sure how many tornadoes, came through the area. It was a crazy, crazy day--but what I'm hearing on the news is that while there is a great deal of property damage in our area, there have been no major injuries reported. Considering the severity of the storms this is nothing short of a miracle. 

As a result of the excitement, the fridge was not cleaned today. I did do the "15 minute blitz" of the kitchen, but it was more of: 2 minute blitz, check the radar/news, 2 minute clean, check radar/news, etc. Again, crazy crazy day. 

I way surpassed the 7 item goal for the day. In addition to returning my parents electric keyboard, here are some of the things going out the door:

Monday, April 2, 2012

10 Weekly goals

This month I am going to join in Crystal's challenge of 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home. With baby just around the corner, I'm organizing anyway--and having some set goals each day will probably help me get it all done. Here are my 10 top goals for this week.

1. One quiet evening with my hubby
2. Attend first birthing class, keep up with homework!

3. Walk every day for 15-20 minutes
4. Send two thank you notes, one birthday note
5. Finish listening to MSM Budget, post review

6. Work on master BR closet, toss or properly store anything not used frequently
7. Prepare Easter dishes

8. Close first Shelf Reliance party
9. Prepare next keepers project
10. Write first two posts of next blog series

Stepping in Faith

I look back on this past week, and where I was last weekend, and I can't believe all the living packing into the last seven days. It's been an extreme week, full of highs and lows and everything in between. A week in which how I felt about things wasn't always an accurate reflection of reality. In the movie Fireproof one of the characters has a line:
 "don’t just follow your heart, man, because your heart can be deceived. You gotta LEAD your heart.”
That's been this week. It hasn't been an easy week, but it is good to be reminded that Faith isn't a reflection of our feelings, it's a reflection of reality. It is choosing to believe the reality of God, over the temporary feelings of our deceitful hearts. We need days like that.