Friday, December 24, 2010


I know I've said it before, but I loooove this time of year.  I have so many things to say in this blog that it may all come out pretty choppy, but I'm kind of just letting my thoughts spill out at the moment.
I woke up this morning to it snowing.  I can totally handle snow up until about December 26th, then it can be done.  So it's tolerable up until then... but for snow to come on Christmas Eve and Christmas... that's more than tolerable, that's magical.  The beauty of it... the purity of it... well, it reminds me a lot of what our Christmas season is all about... Jesus, pure, Holy beauty born of a woman in a manger to do for us what we not only could not do for ourselves, but wouldn't have understood that we needed.  There's so much analogy between the white purity of the snow, and how it lays and covers gently over the ground and trees, much as Jesus covers us from our sins.  I could write a whole blog about it.  So let's just say I'm digging the snow. 
From a mother's standpoint, Bryton gets his snowpants in his Christmas presents tomorrow, so I'm excited to see how he does with the opportunity to play in the snow tomorrow.  Last year he was very unsure, but he also didn't have the clothing for it either, so the poor guy was barely walking, so was falling all over the snow and was probably freezing.  I'm excited to see his excitement this year...
with the snow, and with everything else.
If there is something being a parent has taught me, if there's a way to become immediately, enjoyably unselfish, it's by having children.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited about presents... but I'd be completely honest to say that I'm FAR more excited about Bryton opening his than anyone else.  And it's not just the presents.  It's the whole spirit of the season.  It was taking him through the lights at the fairgrounds and watching him dig the trains... it's watching his excitement when he gets a Christmas cookie (we don't do desserts very often... and this is one of the reasons I'm glad we don't... it's a 'treat' for him when he gets it... not something that's expected.)  It's seeing him enjoy family, and the snow, and our quality time together.  It's getting to share Jesus with him... in a very special celebration.   There's something about being a parent that makes you feel like a kid again.  It makes Christmas magical and wonderfully spiritual and pure.  I think about how far Bryton is from Jesus (in his 'lostness'), but how close he is as well (Matthew 19:14), and I swear to you sometimes I see the face of God through him... maybe it's his eyes when he asks to talk to "Gee gee", maybe it reminds me of how zealous God can be for us, and how zealous we should be for him... I don't know... but children seem to know something we have long forgotten about our King. 
And this is what it all comes down to... all the anticipation leading up until now... all of the waiting for God to provide a way... all of the Old Testament that has pointed to God working things out... through the conflicts and then the 400 years of silence... the climactic event happens now... God thrusting His Son into this shadow of sin to be our ransom, born of a virgin woman, in a manger, a sweet baby Himself, at a time where all of creation gasped and rejoiced. 
For our God has remembered us. 
Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

26 Things I've Learned By Age 26

I'm a long way from having much wisdom to impart.  Ten years ago 26 would have seemed really old, but I feel pretty young right now, all pregnancy symptoms aside.  So here's a short list of the things I have figured out by age 26... subject to change of course, with more age and wisdom...

1.)  I do NOT know everything, I have a lot to learn, and as long as I'm this side of the dirt, I'll never have it all figured out.  (Probably won't then either ;)

2.) My parents were right 97% of the time, about 77% more than what I gave them 10 years ago.  They were always right, growing up has just made me realize it.  Why the 3%? Well, because they aren't perfect either, and let's face it, it'd be unfair for me to expect them to be.

3.)  Often times contentment and 'happiness' in life comes only after difficult circumstances and experiences.  God allows us to endure one to better be able to enjoy the other.  (And because He knows what's best, unlike us, who just think we do.)

4.)  Love is a choice.  Sure there are lovey feelings from time to time, which are much welcomed, but our greatest blessing comes from learning to love when it seems most difficult.

5.)  Our own children become some of our most vital teachers.

6.) You should never have to change who you are in order to maintain friendships with anyone.  True friendship comes despite our successes and our failures, in the face of adversity, and endures the changing of the seasons of life.

7.) Worry really doesn't get you anywhere... but worrying about how much you worry just gives you something else to worry about.

8.) High school was not the best years of life.  In theory, can't you see how it'd be pretty sad to say that high school was the 'good ole days' in the presence of your spouse, your children, and your new life as a family?  It fails in comparison. 

9.)  If you want to be made quickly and enjoyably unselfish, have children.

10.) You can't judge people.  Get to know someone and learn their story and you'll know who they really are and why they are that way.

11.) It's important to not only be good stewards of our money, but also of our time and our service.

12.) Some things are just a pain in the butt to pay for... like trash bags.

13.) Jesus can handle all of our hard questions.

14.) There's a lot to be learned from people, even if you disagree with their opinions, morals, or convictions.

15.)  Men and women really are worlds different...

16.)  Forget the feminist movement... of course I can open my own door, pay my own way, stand on my own two feet, etc etc etc, but why would I want to when a husband can do those things for me out of an act of love?  I'm for chivalry, and I'm not going to fight against it!

17.)  Not every battle is worth fighting... choose wisely.

18.) Never, I repeat, never, make comments about other people's children and how 'your child will never act that way', until you have kids yourself and know for sure.  Sometimes you are catching kids at their worst moments... and they all have them. 

19.)  Even if money is tight, the absolute best thing you can do to help yourself stop worrying about money is to make yourself a written budget.  Include everything, then at the very minimum you know that you can afford all of those bills that are showing up at your door. 

20.)  Find time to play... all work and no play leads to burn out very quickly.  All play and no work, well, that just makes you lazy.

21.) Don't put people on pedestals... anyone.  Everyone will disappoint you... it's in our nature.

22.)  Go to Disney World... at least once in your life.  There's no place on Earth quite so magical :)

23.)  Honor your commitments.  In this day of age, integrity and good character are hard to come by.  Be a person who possesses both. 

24.)  Everyone has that thing they really enjoy.  A new pair of shoes, a new haircut, an awesome new outfit, a trip to the movies, whatever.  Budget for it and do it.  Trust me, a little splurge is worth it. 

25.)  Be serious less often.  I've learned this the hard way.  Laugh more.  People will like you better.

26.)  And lastly, don't care... completely... what people think.  Who cares if people hate your shoes if you love them?  Who cares if people can't stand your personality if you are who you are?  But guard your reputation, and live in such a way that people can't find fault with you (or inconsistencies). 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mom Dilemma: Haircuts

I'm jonesing to get my haircut.  Again.  In fact, I don't know that there's is a time where I'm not jonesing to do something with my hair... but I may treat myself to a hair overhaul for my birthday this year.  Except maybe not an extreme hair overhaul.

Why?  Two reasons.

1.)  It's difficult for me to find it within me to cut my hair short short (because if you say it twice it means something different) during the winter because I like to wear sock hats, and if a girl puts on a sock hat with short hair, she looks like a boy, and that's not the look I'm going for.  (And this year I'd be a big pregnant boy :)

 2.)  There's some kind of stigma associated with 'new' or almost 'new' moms and short hair.  For instance, when I got my haircut right after I had Bryton ( I went from this:

to this:
in about 6 weeks postpartum.)  all people talked about was how I'd went and got a mom haircut.  Grrr.  Apparently a mom haircut is a haircut that makes for a shorter amount of 'prep' work, in other words, it's easy.  Well let me go ahead and tell you, this mom haircut was NOT easy.  In fact, it took a whole lot more work than my previous straight, don't do anything with it haircut.

(By the way- you ever think maybe the reason new moms get their haircuts are because they are finally feeling like women again and not places of occupancy?  I could finally fit in old clothes again!  And the new haircut was a way to spiff it up.  I was trying to look nice, not take the easy route! Yeesh!)

So I'll be honest, I was stranded between two choices.  Just letting my hair continue to grow and putting lots of layers in it, or doing a short stacked bob similar to this one:

And knowing me and my hair fixing skills, and that people will say once again that I was going for a 'mom' haircut (does that look like a mom haircut to you?  I didn't think so... but maybe the tatoo helps. Hmm.)  Anyway, and knowing that this will be the time in my life I want to wear a sock hat for some reason, I guess I'll go with the lots of layers haircut this holiday season, and see what happens with it...

Then we'll see what happens in April :) You can count on color!

*edit:  Wow, I didn't realize that I didn't have bangs when I had Bryton.  Crazy considering I had bangs on the road... when did I let them grow back out??? Hmmm. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

26 Weeks and Counting...

It's been a long time since I've had a pregnancy blog, so I thought I'd do a quick write up.  
I'm 26 weeks today.  Crazy.  I can remember last year at this time wondering if I'd have any other children.  I can remember seeing the positive pregnancy test come back... it feels like yesterday.  And today, I'm 26 weeks.  

I thought my pregnancy with B flew by, but it now seemed so long in hind sight.  I've been wondering this time how I've "gotten so big."  Well, honey, your getting bigger because you are almost in your 3rd trimester!  Unbelievable.  

Nauseousness is long gone at this point (praise Jesus).  And we're praying it doesn't return... ever.  I'm just starting to get to that 'uncomfortable but not miserable' stage.  I've officially had to start tying my shoes sideways (annoying because you can't ever get them as tight that way), been struggling getting up the stairs to the loft (huffing and puffing, hello decreased lung function), and can only walk so fast until I'm out of breath.  My lower back has been hurting some when I sit with my feet up for any given time or when I sit on the floor for a long time to wrap Christmas presents.  It's not as easy for me to get off the floor with B now.  Not to mention, leaning over his crib to lay him down at night is getting.... interesting.  Oh, and did I mention heartburn?  Yeah. 

It sounds like a lot of complaining, but it isn't, really.  I'm thankful for these things.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to carry another child.  I'm thankful that I'm not nauseous at this point.  I'm thankful I'm not swollen (yet).  Okay, I'm not so thankful for the heartburn, but I'll live.  I'm thankful, all in all, for all of the signs that Ansley's birthday is a little bit closer.  

And next on the agenda?  Well, I go on the 13th (the day before my birthday) to do my glucose test, get my rhogam shot, and watch my epidural video.  Two needle sticks and a reminder of childbirth.  Yep, I'm getting close.  Happy birthday to me :)  

But it's good.  It really is.  We pray for Ansley often as we sit together at the dinner table at night, that God would make her strong and healthy.  Then I pray before bed, as I did and still do for Bryton, that He would reveal Himself to her early and that she'd come to love Him early.  

I'm still not sure how I'm going to handle the hair fixing and the clothes matching and the shoe buying, or the bra talk, girl drama, period stuff... but I'm already praying for God to give me that wisdom when the time comes... 

And I'm praying that Bryton will adore his sister, will look out for her, protect her, love her, and set a good example for her.  And I'm praying that she will look up to him, love him, enjoy him, and bring out the best qualities in him.  I hope that they will forever love and care for one another.  

And that's where we are.  All in all life is good.  Trying to figure out Bryton's nap time and trying this potty thing is making me a little more stressed than usual... but we realize the many blessings God has given us.  

Thursday, December 2, 2010

christmas card

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I Can't Concentrate...

Little things overwhelm me or steal my concentration.  I was really hoping to get blogging every day or every other again, but interestingly, Bryton has not napped (a mother's nightmare) for three days straight now.  He does not cry, and he even stays in his crib for two hours (I'm not exaggerating), but he does not sleep.  He jumps on his bed, he sings, he talks, he makes noises with his mouth, etc. etc. etc.  And the fear that this is a new trend keeps me from accomplishing much of ANYTHING. 
It's true, I cherish the afternoon free with a child sleeping.  I cherish the time to destress and get stuff done.  AND, I worry because I know two (according to our pediatrician and about every website dedicated to baby / toddler health) is way to early to give up a nap.  (Not to mention the fact that I'm already thinking about what March will be like with no big brother napping.) 
Grr... so, the mission for the rest of the week... get this nap schedule back on... somehow... I'm going to have to make him run laps before nap time... and maybe not let him sleep so late... come back nap, come back!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why Advent Has Become So Important to Me

Let me first be honest and say that I really didn't know about advent at all until I started doing research on it this year.  What I knew about advent was basically the idea of a little calendar with shapes of Santa and elves all over it that had a little gift in 25 pockets to count down the days until Christmas.  We never 'celebrated' advent when I was growing up, and I didn't incorporate it into our adult family as it just seemed like another way to get the idea of the season mistaken as being the receiving of gifts. 

But somewhere in this little trickle of information I had regarding 'advent', I knew that our church lights an advent candle every Sunday night during advent season.  (May I add, I think the church in general has failed on this front, too.  I've been a part of this candle lighting for the entire eleven years I've gone to church and was never explained to what it was all about.)  So this little trickle of information was enough to get me interested about what advent was all about, and I started doing some research.

To understand advent, we also have to understand Christmas.  Ultimately, most people could answer what the 'real reason for Christmas' is.  They don't have to be believers.  They can be atheist, agnostic, Muslim, Jewish, etc, yet people know that 'Christmas' is the day that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, their Savior, and that's where we leave it.  And when I say 'we', I mean us believers, too. 

You know me, I'm honest, so I'll just say, I've tried very hard every year to keep the 'real meaning' in Christmas.  Not that the other stuff is 'bad', it's just easy to get caught up in.  I find myself really thinking, especially on Christmas eve and Christmas day, about what the coming of the Savior really means.  I've thought about Mary's experience and Joseph's experience.  I've thought about this precious boy Jesus lying in the manger, with 33 years before He changes the spance of history forever, and still, somehow, I miss it.  Maybe not completely, but I miss it.  Maybe we've become too accustom to the "story". 

And in steps 'advent'.  I get it now.  I get it's importance.  As a parent I've become intrigued by how Mary and Joseph would have felt as Jesus' parents at that moment.  I've thought about it and written about it and even shed some tears over it.  But I've never really thought about them, or anyone for that matter, as individuals desperately in need of a word from God and in need of a Savior. 

Advent is a season of anticipation.  (And not anticipation for gifts, ahem.)  It's looking back over the history or our faith and seeing our failure (think Eden and the snake).  It's watching God lead Israel in a very physical sense and seeing them reject him.  It's seeing ourselves in entities like David who failed miserably.  It's seeing the law as we know it, albeit established by God, reflect onto us the sin and the shame and the inadequacy in our lives.  It's hearing prophets predict this coming Messiah, and then watching, waiting, and listening for God for 400 years and hearing nothing.  That brings tears to my eyes, to have no connection with the God of the universe for 400 long years. 

In my own life I feel the sin and the shame and the inadaquecy more often than I'd like to admit, but I can look back in hind sight and see what Christ's blood ultimately did for me on the Cross.  The people living during the time of Jesus' birth had not heard from God, the generations before them had not heard from God, and they knew that they suffered from the same sin and shame, with nothing more than the mysteries of God, revealed only slightly through prophets, to comfort them.  They were still waiting on this Savior King. 

And that, friends, is advent.  Advent is reflecting on where we'd be if Jesus hadn't come.  It's feeling the anticipation, the urgent yearning for a Savior that was promised, but had not come.  It's taking a whole season to reflect on the crying out to God to be seen, to be heard, to have His promise be fulfilled.  It's looking back through scripture about where we've been.  We were totally depraved since the Garden of Eden, since the beginning of time as we know it.  We have been lost, ever utterly, and we urgently, honestly, desperately need God to act on our behalf.  It's waiting.  It's anticipation. 

That is when we appreciate the birth of Jesus.  That is when singing songs like "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" and 'O Holy Night' and 'Silent Night' and best of all, 'Joy to the World' really resonate with us.  (Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel would be close to fitting advent.)  Personally, (and I love Christmas music), I wish we'd save some of those strictly for Christmas morning, or better yet, a midnight Christmas Eve service, because right now, well, right now my song should be "Please, God come.  Please, God speak.  Please, Lord, rescue us," because I'm still in a period of waiting.  I'm still in a period of anticipation. 

I see now why the idea of advent is so important to our Christmas season, as believers.  It's impossible for us to grasp the birth of a Savior (which I tried and tried and tried years to do), when I don't first grasp the need for that Savior.  Sure, we know in our heads that we need Him, but in our day of age we've always had Jesus available.  I'm talking about the need that existed before He came to dwell amongst us.  The need that was the bridge between our sin and death and the Glorious Father.

This is what I pray my family sees through the Christmas season.  The gifts are not bad, I enjoy them.  The decorations aren't bad, I enjoy those too.  But the climactic birth of Christ brings an honest joy to those who understand they have need.  I pray that our family's celebration of advent will give my kids the opportunity to realize their need for a Savior. 

Anxiously Waiting,

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

God's Trying to Make a Point

I think it's fair to say that there were two overwhelming themes for us over our time at youth specialties.  (When I say overwhelming, let's just say I heard little else besides these two things.)

1.  The job of the pastor / minister is to equip the church for service.  Why aren't we as youth pastors letting students lead their own ministries and us mentor and guide them.  More on this later.  Waaay too much good to say in one blog.  Let's just say that the "machine" quote I put on facebook comes from this mentality.  Feeding the 'machine' (aka our programs, stuff that we do just to say that we're doing it, activities, just all of the stuff) just turns out pharisees.  A whole lot of people who know about God and think they can follow him with what they know, rather than a whole lot of people who know God and follow Him based on what they don't know.  Again, more on this later.

2.  We have to do a better job at loving people.  I'll be honest.  Aaron and I have been saying this for years, but it was taken to a whole new level for at least me during the course of this conference.  The Ted Haggard thing was by far enough to initiate it, then on the way home I read this article:
I suggest you read it.  It drove home the point for me in a way I could never articulate myself. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ted Haggard at Youth Specialties

I honestly have no idea how to even organize this blog.  I usually don't have that problem, but I have so much to say and some of it may sound like it contradicts each other.  Maybe because I'm still trying to process it all.  So let's go step by step.  And I want you to comment on this and tell me what YOU think! 

Alright, Aaron and I went in very aware that Ted Haggard (I'm not doing any introductions, if you don't know who he is, google his name) and his wife Gayle were going to be at our National Youth Worker's Convention this year.  Sunday morning they did a 'big room', which is corporate worship times for us youth workers, and Monday morning they each did their own seminars. 

I must first start with my assumptions.  Ted's seminar on Monday was titled, "Lessons Learned the Hard Way."  I'll be honest, it intrigued me.  I had visions of him talking about safety nets to put in place and safe guards, having accountability partners and reaching out for help, about not being deceptive and over-all being apologetic. 

Fast-forward to Sunday morning, which I was very much looking forward to hearing what he was going to say.   To our surprise they waited until the very end of 'big room' (each big room session was about 2 hours long, so it's rare that they wait until the very very end for a speaker),  but I quickly understood why when about 1/3 of the 3500 youth workers that were there packed up their things and left when they saw them sitting on the stage. 

I'll be honest, at this point I'm like, "Wow, give them a chance.  We have something to learn from everyone.  You don't have to accept all they have to say, but give them the opportunity to speak and show them a little bit of grace.  (This number of youth workers didn't walk out for any of the other acts the entire weekend.  And there were several.) 

It's fair to say that I was there eager to hear what was to be said.  The speaking was Q & A style, with Gayle receiving the first question in which she basically answered why she stayed.  In a nutshell, he's the same man, she made a  commitment to him, and she wanted to offer him grace at a point in time where no one else was.  What she talked about the most, though, was how at the time of the scandal he was shown no love by anyone, especially the church.  In her defense, true statement.  He was not shown love.  Agreed.  (Unless of course you look at church discipline as love, which I do, but the point was made later on that the 'discipline' was enforced not from love as a motive, but as judgment.  I must agree with this statement as well.  The church / elders weren't looking for healing and showing 'tough love' when they kicked him out of their body completely and banished them from the state of Colorado.  They were casting judgment and protecting themselves.  Agree.)

But for the entire 30 minutes they spoke all I heard was a couple still with their defenses in place, talking basically about how they had been screwed by the church and proverbially spat upon by church people.  After talking about the importance of showing grace and love, at an effort to break the tension (very evident in the room), at the sound of a very loud plane coming in, Ted quipped that he hoped the plane wasn't headed towards our building (I admit, I was thinking the same thing).  He then, however, made a smart remark about 'another mad muslim' and about how 'he'd be mad too if he had to wake up every morning at 5:00 a.m. to pray."  Ouch, there went love and not casting judgment out the window. 

After that statement I stayed just long enough to hear a youth pastor (one of the 2000 or so left) yell from the stadium "God's judgment" in response to the plane sounding overhead. 

And I'd had it.  I'd had it with judgmental people, and I'd had it with the Haggards too.  So, I excused my pregnant self to go to the restroom and told Aaron I'd meet him outside whenever he was ready.

I won't lie, the entire experience left an awful taste in my mouth.  I was wanting to hear this incredible message of hope and restoration and grace and 'look where God has brought me from', and what I heard was that the church had completely let him down and that they weren't treated well.  Ugh, dude, you did screw things up pretty bad. 

So let's leave it there for a moment and fast forward to Monday morning.  I had planned to go to a seminar entitled "Fulfilling the First Commission:  Helping Parents Effectively minister to their Kids".  Well, being my pregnant butt doesn't move very fast and they gave this speaker way too small of a room, I decided I wasn't going to be one of many in the 'standing room only' section for 1 1/2 hours.  So, right across the room was Ted's virtually empty room (about 20 people at that moment, I made the third female) and I made the decision that I was going to give this effort one more shot. 

As he spoke this time he seemed slightly less guarded, especially at first.  In general here's basically what he had the opportunity to talk about:  He had struggled with this sin in his life for sometime.  He had reached out to others for Biblical help and support and was basically instructed to pray it out, fast, read his Bible, etc.  These things did not help him, and he did them faithfully.  It took the crisis in his life for him to finally find resolution through two years of therapy from a certified, licensed therapist, who was a Christian.  He talked about how important a licensed, certified therapist was to his healing and how often we try to do all of the 'church things' when God is trying to heal us, but through another means.  I agreed with this as well. 

Conversation sprang up quickly, which I welcomed, because I felt that maybe some of us getting to ask the questions may get me some answers myself.  What I heard was a youth pastor who had run a stop sign (still sin) and hit a man and killed him and how he was proverbially stoned by his church and church family.  I heard another female youth worker who has a daughter who just came out that she's a lesbian, and she (the youth worker) is afraid to tell her church, and then I heard several others who basically told Ted they were disgusted with him and that he should have been held to a higher standard as a pastor.  (Which I agree with, yet, well, let me get down to this at the end.)  He battled with two of these youth pastors the entire time.  Another youth pastor spoke up, not in defense of Ted, but to state that he believed we all had sin in our life (true) and wanted to know how we could better love people.  Ted later said he would have much rather been in this man's youth group than the other man's because he knew how to offer forgiveness.  Ouch, but very true.  I'd want my kids in his youth group, I'm not going to lie. 

The man who had said he was disgusted with him said at the beginning of his rant that he really had expected Ted to apologize to us the day before and to tell us 'don't be like me.'  Ted's response put me in a whole new realm of thinking.  He said something to the effect of, "If you believe I still need to apologize I can do so, but I did that three years ago on CNN, NBC, ABC, with my church family, to my family, on HBO, I mean, do I really need to spend the rest of my life apologizing for something I've been forgiven for by God.  I also thought that I was here to talk to leaders, not to be evangelistic.  My assumption was that you would know not to be like me.  I'm here to talk to ministers about how to better to do ministry.  That's what they've asked me to do, and it is my belief that we can more effectively do ministry by loving others... even in our church discipline." 

Hmmm.  Interesting.

So here's kind of how it highlights out... let me know how you feel about these things:

Things I agreed with and what I got from listening to him:
  • We do kind of suck at loving people, especially in the midst of stuff.  
  • We are all sinners, even in our salvation we are still working things out, called sanctification. 
  • God is using his experience to effectively minister to those in similar situations as him. 
  • Sometimes things are not always as they seem.  He told a story about being on Larry King with Jennifer Knapp and a pastor who reamed her in a blog for coming out that she was a lesbian.  I had heard about this but had not seen it.  He said he got more hate mail from that one interview than any others ever, and then explained why he said what he said.  If you care enough to ask me about that one, I'll be happy to answer, but it's lengthy :) 
  • Many times we issue 'church discipline' as a method of judgment and not a method of restoration.  Many, many times.  
  • God uses other means to 'heal' us.  Doctors are one of those. 
Things I didn't agree with:
  • He seems to still be pretty bitter towards the church.  Love and grace should be extended both ways. 
  • He's still getting an awful lot of publicity for all of this.  He has an article coming out in GQ in February, and made sure we knew it several times.  He complains a little bit about the publicity, but doesn't stay out of it.  
  • He believes he should be restored to the same position in the church.  I'll be honest, the more I think about this one the more I struggle, but I have to say I still disagree.  I will be the first to admit that if truly repentant and healed God could give this man an amazing ministry among ministers and with people in hidden sin, but I'm not sure that he is what the Bible describes as a proper leader for an entire church body.  
So there it is:  I'm sure I've forgotten 100 things I wanted to say, but I figured this would spark some conversation.  I'm interested to see what you all have to say.
By the way, during his seminar he did apologize for the muslim comment made the day before.  He admitted it was a weak moment and he wished he could take it back.

Alright, let's see what you all think!


Monday, November 15, 2010

How Do They Not Get This?

Westboro Baptist Church, what do you not get about 1 Corinthians 13

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
 2If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
 3And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
 4Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
 5does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
 6does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
 7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
 8Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part;
 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
 11When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
 13But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

You do not love.  You do not love God, you do not love others, but in your arrogance you go about your own cheap agenda.

What does the Bible really say that God hates:

Scripture says in 1 John 4:20:  Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

Then, in Proverbs it reads: 
 16 There are six things the Lord hates—
      no, seven things he detests:
 17 haughty eyes,
      a lying tongue,
      hands that kill the innocent,
 18 a heart that plots evil,
      feet that race to do wrong,
 19 a false witness who pours out lies,
      a person who sows discord in a family.
Proverbs 6:16-19


Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent— the LORD detests them both. (Proverbs 17:15)

Westboro Baptist, if there is anyone the Lord hates, it is YOU.  Repent and turn to Jesus.  Jesus never held picket signs, and just the opposite, loved and dined with the people you throw yourselves against.  One day you will see judgment, and I hope you hang your heads when you see the fallen soldiers and 'fags' that are dining with Jesus, when you aren't.  Their repentant hearts make them right with God, your hardened hearts will send you to hell. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Another Recipe Blog - Hot Ham and Cheese Sliders

So I fixed a sandwich dish on Friday for B's party that went over really really well.  For those of you who wanted it, here was the recipe I used:

1 Package of Hawaiian Rolls
1/2 Lb of Ham (any kind)
6 slices of Swiss Cheese
1/2 Cup (1 stick) Butter
1 tsp Ground Mustard
2 Tbsp Worsteshire Sauce
1 tsp Onion Powder

Cut the Hawaiian Rolls in half and layer bottom half in a pan with a ridge (cookie sheet will do).  Divide the ham and the cheese between the sandwiches evenly.  Add the top bun.  Melt the butter and combine all of the other ingredients with the butter.  Mix thoroughly and pour over the sandwiches.  Let refrigerate over night or for a few hours, then bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until melted!



Monday, November 8, 2010

Cake Balls

So, you won't see these two overwhelmingly often with me, but this is a recipe blog... well, kind of.  It's more of an assembling blog because how hard is it really to make a boxed cake mix.  Exactly.  But I thought I'd document my first 'cake ball' experience, and state that they were actually quite well received at Bryton's party! 
So here's what you need:
1 Box of cake mix (your choice)
The ingredients called to bake your cake from your cake mix (oil, eggs, etc)
1 can of frosting (again, your choice)
Candy melts or Almond Bark (I used one whole package of white almond bark)
Skewers or lollipop sticks (optional)
Decorating items such as sprinkles, candies, etc.  (Also optional)

Alright, it's this simple:

Go home and follow the directions on your boxed cake mix and bake the cake normally in a 9X13 inch pan.  Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool completely. 
After the cake has cooled, take the entire cake and crumble it up :)  It'll look something like this:

After you've crumbled the cake up into small crumbs, start adding in the canned icing.  I used almost the whole can so I'd start with about 3/4 to see how well your mixture balls.  My funfetti cake mix was really moist already so I didn't need quite the entire thing.  Stir this well until it forms a 'dough' like substance.  The crumbs just need to be able to stick together. 

Once they've stuck together, form them into balls and place them on a wax paper lined cookie sheet and place them in the refrigerator to chill so they harden some.  (My cake mix made about 55 balls.  Anywhere from 35-55 is normal depending on how large you make your balls.)

While these are chilling (15 mins or so), start melting your almond bark or candy melts.  When your balls are chilled dip each skewer in the candy melt and then insert into the ball.  (This step is optional depending on whether you just want balls or if you want balls as 'lollipops'.  I found that the lollipops would be easier to dip and decorate I think.)  The dipped skewer allows the candy melt to 'bond' the cake ball and the skewer, making it easier to dip without losing your ball of the skewer.  When you've inserted all of the skewers, chill again to harden the candy.  I did this in the freezer this time.

After they have chilled, take them out and dip them in the melted candy (make sure the candy is not lumpy or hard, the balls are still 'cake' and will recrumble if tossled too much, I didn't have much problem with this but could see how one could.)  I then stuck each skewer in a piece of styrofoam so the balls kept their 'ball' shape and didn't have a flat side from laying them for the candy melt to dry.  Before they dried completely I sprinkled some with chocolate sprinkles and some with blue sprinkles.  My finished product turned out like this:

They were actually very well received and super easy to make.  I'm sure I'll be making these in the future, especially for times where I want something unique but don't have the time to make buttercream and decorate a cake or cupcakes!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Build a Bear Deal on Groupon

My good friend Brooke from Brooke's Bargains mentioned a while ago that Groupon's Witchita Deal is a $20 voucher for Build a Bear, good online or in store, for only $10!  Go here and check it out!  Sign up if you don't already have an account!  Amazing deals in St. Louis and elsewhere! 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Quick Frugal Party Planning Blog

Alright - let's sum it all up now (since the party is tomorrow!)

Food:  Chose a very inexpensive main course (be sure I'll post pictures and recipes if all of this stuff 'turns out', yes, you read that right, the sandwiches I'm fixing for 40+ people tomorrow have never been tried in this household... yikes!), have great mother / mother in law who are each preparing a side dish, got individual packages of chips for 50% off on the halloween sale, bought the cake / icing when they were on sale in the months prior, as well as the cookie mix, and not doing the fruit now (see why in the treatbags later).

Decor:  Went with a Dr. Seuss theme, bought a few Dr. Seuss printed items and coupled that with solids at our local $1.00 store.  Also bought all cups, plastic utensils, and tableware there.  Printed kids coloring sheets off of the internet (cost of paper and the ink).  Showing "Horton Hears a Who" which was free with swagbuck amazon gift cards (only $5 anyway through amazon), and it serves as a gift for Bryton too!   Also, forgot this one, using the Kohl's cares plush animals ($5 a piece, I bought 2, my mom bought 2, and books, 2 and 2 again) as decor on tables.  Bryton gets to keep these as well.  Not to mention all of the other Dr. Seuss books that we already own (I literally bought some when I was like 18 on a huge lot on ebay because I wanted them for my kids later on!)

Treatbags:  I used brown paper sacks, put a Dr. Seuss sticker on them, and wrote each child's name on their bag.  With such a large age difference I had to do the 'baby bags' differently.  Itty babies got a boardbook (sets of 2 at the dollar store for $1), bigger babies got a board book and a jar of food for their age, big kids got two suckers (halloween candy 50% off sale ;), an apple, a tiny box of raisins (10 for 10 for the bags of 15 little boxes at our Kroger this week), and a thing of bubbles (.50 for 6 containers on the clearance rack at Wal-Mart).  The theme for the Treatbags:  All of Bryton's favorite things.  I wanted to put things in the bag that he really liked to share with his friends!

Gift:  This is one I haven't talked about yet.  Here is where swagbucks comes in again... you guys have heard me talk about it.   Aaron and I decided in about August that we wanted to get B a tricycle, a real tricycle with pedals and all, for his birthday this year.  We found the one we liked on Amazon, and I started saving swagbucks.  Within about 6 weeks I'd saved the $50 or so in Amazon gift cards needed to buy him that tric ;)  He also is getting all of the previously mentioned books, dvd's, plush animals, etc.  PLUS, I ordered him Dr. Seuss' birthday book for his guests to sign :)  Should be fun!

Check back for pictures soon!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Happy Birthday Bryton!

Two years ago this morning, at 1:15 a.m., I laid my eyes on this little guy.  8 lbs, 3 oz, 20 inches long, with the cutest chubby cheeks I've ever seen in my life.  I knew right away he had my dimple.

 Mom and dad were so tired, but were so incredibly proud.  This new little bundle of joy would change our lives in ways we never expected.  He would teach us about God's love, a Father's love. 

 And he was so incredibly tiny, even for a very average size baby.  Sandwiched in his little sleep positioner, he was barely big enough to stretch from one length of it to the other.  He looked so small in his huge crib.  I spent hours during the day watching him sleep, listening to his sounds, and holding him against me.  Never did I realize how quickly 2 minutes old (picture one), 
would turn to two weeks old (picture 3),
would become two years old (below). 
My little brunette baby boy has turned into a little blue eyes, blonde haired, rambunctious toddler who loves balls, trucks, apples, and music.
Happy Birthday, B... regardless of how old you get, you'll always be my baby boy.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Frugal Party Planning: Food

I'm not going to lie, I don't have all of the food purchased and ready for Friday yet, but there's a reason why.  I'll explain that later... let's just start from the beginning. 
In deciding to do a Dr. Seuss birthday party I needed to keep with the theme (of course), so I started thinking of what kind of things would be food related to a Dr. Seuss theme.  I'm sure you're thinking the exact initial thought that I had: Green Eggs and Ham!  And so was birthed the menu:
  • Green Deviled Eggs and Ham and Cheese Sliders (warm ham and cheese sandwiches)
  • Poodles of Noodles (Pasta Salad)
  • Lick your Lips Potato Chips
and then dessert:
  • Thing 2 Cupcakes (Since Bryton will be 2)
  • Regular Cupcakes
  • A person's a person Cakeballs
  • Green Egg Sugar Cookies
  • We All Root For Fruit Kabobs
  • Dandy's of Candy
So here's the just of it all, as far as the main course:
  • My MIL offered to make something so I chose to let her make the deviled eggs. 
  • I'm going Thursday / Friday to buy the stuff for the ham and cheese sliders.  Why?  Because I hope to find some good deli bread on manager's special, that won't matter because I'm using it same day ;) 
  • My mom is making the pasta salad, and I have alllll of the pasta saved up from sales in which I got all of the boxes for FREE with my coupons! 
  • And the potato chips?  Let's just say if you wait until after Halloween, even the candy and 'treat sized' bags of chips go on sale.  So, I bought 44 packages of cheeto/doritos for $5 and a box of 40 pretzels for $2.59.  With about 40 guests, I should have enough for everyone to have two (if they need them) and have some left over for home!  I also bought all of the candy half off that day, as well as a box of 40 miniature bags of popcorn (to cook in the microwave) for $3.39, regularly $9.98!  Woo hoo!
As far as desserts:
  • I did cupcakes for Bryton's birthday last year too, just because I like doing them.  This year my job is going to be a little more simple.  Last year the cupcakes were fairly complex and took a lot of time.  On top of that I used two batches of homemade icing (which does add up in expense.)  This year, the cupcakes I'm making calls for regular icing, so using coupons I bought the cake mix and the icing for more than 50% off.  For the cakeballs the only added ingredient was candy melts, which I purchased full price :( 
  • I have the sugar cookie mix already in the cupboard, which I got for free with coupons, and I'm actually going to make my own icing for this for decorating, I have everything but powdered sugar.  (I have powedered sugar, but not the full two pounds I need.)
  • I still need to buy fruit for the fruit kabobs (I'll let you know how that goes).
  • And the candy was listed as above. 
A little bit of planning goes a long way.  What holiday, etc, is your party planned around that you could score some good deals with?  Even my popcorn I bought doesn't expire until September 2011... that could be used any time in the next year!!! 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bryton's Birthday Week Series: Frugal Party Planning / Maintaining a Theme

Saving money is part of who I am now.  I'm a planner by nature so it all works out pretty well, but being that I didn't start this major couponing / frugal living until January of this year, this was my first party planning on a 'budget'.  So I thought it'd be beneficial to go through and document some of my money saving and budget saving techniques for planning a party. 

Day 1's topic - Maintaining a Theme. 
Two things you should know up front about me:  I want the party to be unique, I'm not that 'buy the box' kind of gal who chooses a character and buys all the stuff in that 'category' to go with it.  (Not that that is a bad thing, it's just not me.)  Second, I want my kids' birthday parties to be something special.  They'll get an option every year as they get older as to what they want to do for their birthday.  If they want a party, great.  If they want to go some place fun, great, but they get to choose one.  Until they are able to decide... I'm doing some light party planning ;)

Bryton's theme for his party this year is:  Bryton's Seussical 2nd Birthday.  I chose this theme because he loves books, and for a long time, the only books we could read him were Dr. Seuss books.  In fact, we had Dr. Seuss' ABC's memorized for car rides.  And me, well, I love Dr. Seuss just as much as he does, so it seemed like a good fit. 

The first thing I did was start researching the internet.  I found some blogs of other moms who had done similar parties for their kids and I borrowed some of their ideas.  (You'll see some of these later on this week.) I even know one mom who had a Dr. Seuss party for her twins, and she offered me their left over things!  (Thanks Arje!)

I also found that, believe it or not, one particular website actually carries Dr. Seuss related party items.  Rather than spend $3-$5 per 8 or 12 pack of plates, napkins, cups, etc, I bought about half of the plates and napkins that I needed, some stickers that were on clearance (these come into play in a minute), and called it good.  Then, I went to a $1 store and bought matching solid colored napkins, cups, plates, and tablecovers.  I get the effect of the printed plates, without the cost.

The stickers I then put on plain paper sacks, which I plan to fill with items for a 'treat bag' for the kiddo guests.  

Then, I started planning what else I could do with the theme.  Games are hard with the age group of kids we are having... Bryton is 2, just a wee bit young for the pin the tail and pinata things (which will be great next year... I'm not going to lie, I thought long and hard about a pinata this year!), so I decided to stick with the theme and I made one of Bryton's birthday presents the DVD "Horton Hears a Who".  Being that we are having his party in our youth room at our church, we can project it on the big screen and have it playing throughout a good deal of the party!  It should be perfect for our kids aged about 6 weeks - about 6th grade!

On the tables will be the solid colored tablecovers, twisted crepe paper, and everyone will have a Dr. Seuss coloring sheet "placemat", printed from the Dr. Seuss website, and I'll have mason jars of crayons on each table. 

The invitations I made were two-fold.  For parents of toddler - school aged kids I made little Dr. Seuss books for the invitations.  All of the details were on the last page.  Other guests got the same poem invitation, just in 1/2 sheet form rather than book form. 

This saved me all costs except for the 50 sheets of cardstock that were $4.99, but that I got 40% off at Hobby Lobby. 

I'll mention it briefly here, but you'll have to check back tomorrow for the details:  when planning a party for possibly 50 people, there has to be a lot of food, so I found some ways to cut corners on everything from the main menu to dessert.  Some of my budgeting technique:  just start buying things early!
Check back tomorrow for more on the food!


Saving 71% at Kroger

Mega Events at Kroger generally make me very very happy.  This week's mega event is no different... and we've had 3 weeks of different mega events now!  Woo hoo!  After looking at the ad yesterday, I decided I couldn't wait to go to Kroger.  Our Kroger is so small that I know products sale out fast, and I knew if everything was in stock I could add essentials to my stockpile at home.  Before I list my deals, here's a couponing tip:  Don't just buy things because they are on sale, it helps to have an idea of what you may use them for first.  If you buy them and never use them, it's not a deal at all.  (I only buy things I don't 'need' when I get them free or for overage.  I can either donate them or figure out a way to use them, then if I don't, no biggie.)
My deals today:
  • 2 Cans of Dole Mandarin Oranges (not in the mega event, but I had a .50 off 2 coupon and they were 10 for 10.  Since the coupon doubled it made each can .50 each.)
  • 5 Cans of Del Monte Tomatoes (Our Kroger has a small collection.  I ended up buying 5 stewed to use in Chili since we don't use diced very often.)
  • 4 Cans of Kroger fruit (the 'light' version of the Kroger is my favorite anyway... no syrup, no sweetners, stored in pear juice... good for the growing boy... and his mom ;)
  • 4 Cans of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup (for casseroles)
  • 2 Cans of Campbell's Select Harvest soup (the same 'flavor' so I can make it a meal with sandwiches)
  • 2 Cans of Campbell's Chunky Soups (again, same flavor)
  • 2 Cartons of Swansons Chicken Broth (great for my 'white chicken chili')
  • 5 Cans of Swanson Broth (3 beef for beef and noodles, 2 chicken to have on hand)
  • 3 Cans of Campbell's Gravy (again, got beef for the beef and noodles)
  • 1 Can of Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce (just because I love it, hoping Bryton will too, makes a good side dish)
  • 2 Boxes of Stovetop Stuffing (again, makes good side dishes)
I used:
  • Dole Coupon for .50 off 2 Mandarin Oranges
  • $1.00 off 5 Del Monte Tomotoes
  • .50 off 2 Cartons of Swanson Broth (doubled)
  • .50 off 5 Cans of Swanson broth (doubled)
  • .25 off 4 Cans of Campbell's Condensed "Good for Cooking" soups (doubled)
  • .50 off 2 Select Harvest healthy request soups (doubled)
  • .50 off 2 Campbell's Chunky health request soups (doubled)
In all, that was 2 Cartons of Broth, 2 boxes of stuffing, and 28 canned goods for...
$15.43 after mega event deals and coupons! 
 I saved $38.27 and gained the piece of mind that I have everything stockpiled that I need for 3 batches of Beef and Noodles (minus the beef), several batches of chili (minus the ground beef and the tomato sauce, which is less than .50 a can), at least a couple of soup nights with no extra needs, everything I need for at least 3 nights of chicken casserole, and lots of side dishes and fruit for us all to eat! 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Honeymoon Period

For those of you readers who are married or dating, do you remember that time with you significant other where you 'fell in love?'  The giddy time, the excited time, the wonderment, the enjoyment.... you know what I mean?

For Aaron and myself, I look back on trips we made to Sams, and hanging out at the Rink (those were the days).  I think back to visiting his parent's in Fenton and how forward I looked to taking those trips.  It goes even deeper, I can remember the smell of his apartment and his cologne, the look of the inside of his car, and how the sound of his voice made me smile.  I can remember how it felt holding his hand the first few times, and how I loved just being with him.  I was 'wooed' into his presence.  Everything about him made me happy, and thankful, and it made the rest of life worthwhile. 

And that was almost 7 years ago, now.  I can happily say that it still feels like yesterday, but we'd both be lying if we said that the toll of 'life', bills, busyness, and even kids hasn't made a difference in our 'honeymoon' feel.  Granted, I still experience those moments with him, often more times than not, but it benefits me to be able to spend some time and look back on what it was about him that drew me to him... to feel the wooing again, to remember the smells and sounds and details of our falling in love.  It rekindles that spark in me, and it shows me how far we've come. 

Such is our lives with Christ.  In a desperate, depressed, lonely time in my life I turned to Jesus in a way that I hadn't ever before.  My salvation actually became intimate to me, like finding love for the first time.  I can remember feeling God 'woo' me in with His spirit.  I can remember the joy and the realness of reading His word.  I shed many tears during this period over the undeserved love that I found.  The desperate, depressed, lonely girl that once existed was still lonely by human standards, but was completely fulfilled in the arms of  Christ.  It was our honeymoon period, it was the moment in time where I fell in love with Jesus (He already loved me.) 

Words cannot adequately explain this time period in my life, nor can it explain the depth of this relationship with Christ that I felt, but I know it's a period He desires all of us to experience. 

Did I always want to read my Bible?  No.  Did I always feel like praying and listening to God speak to me?  Not really.  But my desire to know Jesus better and to love Him more intimately was the motivation for me to do these things. 

Do I always want to 'talk' about things with Aaron when we're fighting or things feel 'off'?'  Do I always want to take the time to hash out life and details with him?  Do I always want to show him compassion when I feel I've been wronged?  No, but because I desire to know him and love him more intimately, these are the things I do to accomplish that. 

And just like my honeymoon period with Aaron, the tolls, and busyness, and demands of this life often get in the way of that intimate relationship I want with Jesus.  Sometimes I long for the time of that desperate, depressed, lonely girl who had a passionate, intimate relationship with the Creator of the Universe, but looking back I see where we've been together, and what He has brought me through, and if I really think back and reflect on that initial intimacy I spent with Jesus, when I really fell in love with Him, the more I remember why I did.  I remember the songs that pierced my heart and the many tears I wept, and it brings me to that place again. 

I'll leave you with this, a song that I listened to multiple times daily, during this time in my life, and it rings to once again.  Enjoy:
When I Found You
By the Tree

Some days I think and I wonder how it all began
The first time I came to understand
Your love was real to me
More real than anything

When I found you,
That's when I found you for the very first time
Your glory all around
When I found you,
You came into my life and made everyday brand new, when I found You.

I long to explore the mystery of leaving it all behind,
And find you beyond this crowded life
I know there's got to be more
Wont you bring that day back again

When I found you,
That's when I found you for the very first time
Your glory all around
When I found you,
You came into my life and made everyday brand new, when I found You.

Well it's got to be
awakened in me
I've got to see reality
Come make a way
Awaken that day in me

When I found you,
That's when I found you for the very first time
Your glory all around
When I found you,
You came into my life and made everyday brand new, when I found You.

When I found you,
That's when I found you for the very first time
Your glory all around
When I found you,
You came into my life and made everyday brand new, when I found You.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A New Milestone and Being Prepared

Totally unrelated from one another, I know, but I thought I'd mention to very important things for this fall day.  First, every milestone is one to celebrate, and I can say, as of about 11:30 this morning, that I have officially cut Bryton's fingernails for the first time in probably a year.  No, I'm not a gross, neglectful parent, he has apparently stopped biting them long enough for them to actually be able to be cut!  Don't get me wrong, they weren't long by any means, but by golly, I could see white on almost all of them, and I could feel one or two when he'd hold my hand.  Before he got any ideas, I got rid of them! :)

Number 2:  here's a lesson on preparedness (or the lack thereof, as I'm not sure if I'm really being 'prepared' or if I'm ill prepared, I guess the next few days will tell.)  I decided to get all of our halloween costumes out today to check them, go over them, try them on, and hang them (to dewrinkle).  I wanted to make sure we are set for Thursday night's trunk or treat.  Sure enough, Bryton's Santa costume is minus a hat (which was supposed to be included... grrr.... gotta send an email to the company),  Aaron's costume is the easiest fix, it needs an extra piece of velcro or a pin in just the right place, and me, well mine was a 'make yourself not panic, we'll figure this out' type of moment.  To put it lightly, I'll be doing some costume surgery on mine, and I'm not panicking over it just yet.  So, I now have two days, kinda, to find a toddler size Santa hat (what is Santa without his hat), add a small fix to Aaron's and completely disassemble and reassemble mine!  Guess I'm glad I looked today and not on Thursday! ;)

More words of wisdom later, as I discover them myself...

Monday, October 25, 2010

An Internet / Computer Semi-Fast

I've a little bit had it with myself.  I'll be upfront and honest, the biggest thing I've been feeling conviction for lately is the way in which I choose to spend my time.  It's a huge pet peeve of mine now to be a good steward of money and responsible with our finances, but God's been really speaking to my heart about being a good steward of my time as well.  I'm watching Bryton grow up before my eyes, and I don't want to look back and think, "I was couponing when we could have been playing ball... I missed it."  Does that mean I'm giving up couponing?  Heck no!  Are you kidding?  It is my job.  It is how I contribute to our 'income.'  What it does mean is that in an effort to better prioritize my time, I'm making myself go on a internet / computer semi-fast. 
Here's the deal:  I spend most of the day off and on searching deals, checking blogs, looking through coupons online, etc.  Sure, I find time to do stuff around the house and to play with Bryton, but I don't want to have to 'find time', to do those things anymore, and like my miscellaneous budget and my grocery budget (the two places we have to 'take money' from in order to pay the other bills), the place that I have to take time from (which is also a limited resource), is my time spent on the computer. 
Of course, I can't completely, nor do I feel like I should, give up the computer all together.  No, my hobby (saving money), and our finances count on the work I do online.  (And, yes, I consider it work.)  There are basically two things I do on the computer:
  • Things I need to do:  Couponing, bargain hunting, swagbucks searching / winning, contacts, bill payment, picture / video work and editing, youth stuff and blogging.  I'm including blogging because I'd love for it to be a source of income for us someday.  
  • Things I want to do:  Check up on facebook, blog (because I love it too), research different things, and keep in touch on my 'bump board.' 
So I've come up with a plan to try - it's experimental so we'll see how successful it is for me.  It's up for the tweaking.  Rather than spend all morning every morning sitting at the computer and then coming back to it over and over and over again, I'm limiting myself to one hour between the hours Bryton gets out of bed (8:00 a.m. is a good estimate right now) and the time Bryton goes down for his nap (about 1:00 p.m.).  I can split that hour up however I want, so that I can check 'deals' at least twice in that time period (some don't last long).  This morning, I did a lot of things before I let myself get on the computer, then I spent a half an hour from about 9:15 - 9:45, then I came back and checked it all just after 11. 
During Bryton's naptime life is fair game.  I call this my 'Alicia time'.  Alicia time is pretty safe for me because if I have 3,000 things on my to-do list, I'll use my Alicia time to get them done and stop stressing about them.  But if I want to be on the internet the entire time Bryton's napping, so be it.  The same if I want to watch a movie, eat something I wouldn't normally let Bryton have, or work on a project, anything is fair game.  Naptime has been iffy lately, it's normally at least  two hours (normally), but could last as long as three.  Rest assured, it's rare I can spend an entire 3 hours online straight... but if I want to, hey, it's Alicia time.
Then from the time Bryton gets up (anywhere around 3 or 4) to the time I go to bed (yes, me, I'll explain in a minute), I'm giving myself an hour.  Again, I can break it up as I so choose.  I debated about this one, because if Bryton gets up at 3 and I don't go to bed until 10:30 or so, that's 7 1/2 hours I have that I could check swagbucks, deals, etc. I fiddled with the idea of giving myself an hour and a half, but chose not to do that just yet.  Here is why:  I've discovered that when Aaron is home and Bryton is up, I don't have near the desire to get on and check things.  I enjoy watching them play and spending family time together.  So, typically when I get on the computer, it's around 9 after we've got Bryton taken care of and put down.  So my time spent on the computer then is time not spent with my husband.  Giving myself an hour and a half would be the entire time from Bryton going to bed to me going to bed.  SO - what I'm going to do is allow myself any spare 'morning time' that I may have left over from that day and use it in the evening, but that time has to be used before Bryton goes to bed. 
Whether or not I really even need an hour in the evenings is debatable.  I like to check all of the deals again, update myself on facebook (when the students are usually on), and recheck my email to have it cleaned out for the next day (couponers get a loooot of email). 
So, again, this is an experiment.  We're going to see if it works, see if it allows me more time with Bryton and more time to feel like I'm accomplishing things at home. 
Just today I've finished (so far) 3 loads of laundry (and hopefully 3 more to go), ran to WalMart for a few things (that I couldn't buy at Kroger), planned our week / weekend (which is abnormally busy), and made one heck of a list of things that could keep me veeeerrry busy over the next couple weeks...
I'll keep you posted on how it goes! 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Highly Emotional

All in all my pregnancy with Bryton was a cake walk.  I swelled like crazy at the end and developed some platelet issues, but all very minor things in the big scheme of it all. 
You all know from what I've written that this pregnancy has been completely different.  Another thing to note... I'm insanely emotional.  Like, whoa. 
See, this is something I prided myself in (I know, I know, pride before the fall) when I was pregnant with B.  I had one small emotional breakdown in the doctor's office when I told my doctor that my wedding rings didn't fit anymore.  She laughed, I laughed, and I barely shed a tear. 
Oh no!  Not this time!  Nope, this time I'm a walking sobbing machine!  It is very annoying!  It doesn't really matter who I am talking to, what we are talking about, or if there's anyone around at all.  It is triggered in a moments notice, no warning, no explanation, boom, not just tears, sobs. 
I've at least gotten to the point that I can laugh about it, usually while it's happening, but it's still extremely annoying. 
Here's just a few examples (the most recent ones that I can remember) of what I'm talking about:
  • Just a couple weeks ago I was talking to Craig about reformed theology, completely burst into tears in the middle of the conversation.  Sorry, Craig.
  • Aaron and I went to see "Life as We Know It" in the theater last Saturday.  Cried at multiple parts of the movie, and sobbed loudly during one part that wasn't even sad.  Had to tell Aaron to 'shut up, I'm pregnant.'  (P.S. - good movie, and not sad at all, unless you are pregnant, have kids, and think about having to leave your baby with someone else to raise them... never to remember you ever!  Ugh.  Still a good movie.) 
  • I'm working on a 'special project' for Christmas this year, and Bryton and I were looking over it today, and I completely lost it.  Poor guy was looking at me like, "mom, what is your major malfunction."
  • Was talking to Aaron in his office today (notice all of these that are in the past few hours?) about separating our miscellaneous budget up so that our haircut money doesn't have to come out of our blow money.  Cried during the end of that conversation. 
  • Had to continue working on the said project listed above, can't even look at it without crying so working on it for 45 minutes, yeah, that was fun. 
And the list continues, these are just within the last week or so... imagine a whole pregnancy of this fun.  Luckily, Aaron has been more than understanding, and actually can laugh along with me... which is much needed!  (Unless there's a time when I'm not laughing, then, babe, don't laugh.  It might get ugly. :)
So apparently all of these extra female hormones that Ansley is producing is enough to have me a complete basketcase!  Fun!  :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Parenting Responsibility Often Overlooked

Do what we do.  It's four crucial words that are the essence of raising a child.  Why?  Because whatever it is that we do or don't do, they will do or not do.  They are mimickers of behavior.  Trust me, I see it in my toddler everyday.  I quickly learned that yelling at him isn't going to accomplish much, because my behavior taught him that it was okay and in response, he yelled back at me.  That being said, guarding and carefully choosing our own behavior can be the single most important thing we do for our children.  It effects how we relate to them, how we related to our spouses, in turn how they one day will relate to their spouses and children, and how we relate to God. 

When I was pregnant with Bryton it was crucial to me that Aaron be the male role model in the household.  Bryton will look to Aaron and pull from him how he managed his household, how he treated his wife and kids, what his priorities were, what his 'role' in the household, if he helped around the house, if he led us spiritually, if he took time for his wife, etc.  In turn, Bryton looks to me to see how he should be treated and respected by his wife someday.  How I treat my husband, how I serve our family, how I choose to discipline and raise him, will all be a learned 'behavior' of what his wife may someday be like. 

Consider it - how many of you now parents or spouses ever think to yourself, "Ugh, that's exactly what my mom would do," or "That's exactly what my dad would have said."  We become the products of our environment.   It has to be a conscious decision as to the products I 'weed out' from my own raising. 

And now a girl comes into the picture.  This has to up our games even more.  Aaron is going to have to be conscious to not only be the head of the household, but to love this little girl in such a way that she doesn't go looking for that love in other places as she gets older.  He's got to tell her she's beautiful and wonderful and that he'll always be there for her.  I've got to display to her the assets of a Proverbs 31 woman, I must show her what real beauty is about.  Even the decisions I make about the clothes I wear will speak loudly to her. 

All in all... our jobs as parents are full of more responsibility than one would have ever guessed.  If done properly, it should make us better, more well rounded, more responsible people ourselves.  Not to say that we'll never fail, but then that's part of our teaching... we fail with grace, apologize with truth, and keep trying until we get it right. 

Praying for wisdom to raise my boy and my girl

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Had planned to update this blog yesterday, but it was a busy day to say the least.  First, let's just get it all out there... baby wasn't as 'anxious' to show us her gender as her brother (who flashed us all first thing in his ultrasound), but towards the end of the ultrasound we looked again, and sure enough, it's a girl!  

So it is now official that Ansley Makenna (yes, we changed the middle name... about 10 minutes after our ultrasound as a matter of fact) will be physically joining the Gregg family sometime around March 12th!

Other notes about yesterday's doctor appt (for those of you who care):
  • Ansley is in the 50% for her size right now.  She weighs 11 ounces!  Almost a pound!  I hope she continues this trend, personally.  Bryton was a 'big baby' (to say the least), so having a slightly smaller child to 'push out' this time would be well received by this mother.  
  • I had a good inclination of girl this whole pregnancy anyway, but I'd read the night before the ultrasound on a board that I follow, that an ultrasound tech had been noted in saying that he'd guessed the last 27 genders right without seeing the 'goods' first, just by hand placement.  Our ultrasound tech tried to get a good 3-d picture of Ansley (before we knew she was even Ansley), and her hands and fingers are all up in her face.  I felt for sure it'd have to be a girl... and it was.
  • Everything that can be 'seen' on the ultrasound looks pretty good.  She was head down (not that I expect her to stay that way from here on out, and back up, so we saw a lot of good pictures of her spine, but not many good pictures of her heart.  The good news is that I get to go back in for my next appointment for another ultrasound to get more pictures.  I'm quite alright with that!  
As far as my health, etc.:
  • I've gained 6 pounds in pregnancy so far, which is apparently right on target.  (Which is amazing considering I've been eating sweets like crazy.  I have to cut it out.) 
  • My blood pressure is a - ok.
  • Apparently I have a low lying placenta at the moment, which is currently not an issue, and is apparently really common in mid-pregnancy.  Dr. said we aren't going to worry about it right now in hopes that it moves up.  The way he made it sound, that'll make for some more ultrasound pictures later.  Worst case would be a c-section... and quite personally, I'm praying really hard against that. 
  • I also, apparently, had a low thyroid count in my prenatal bloodwork.  The doctor didn't act like this was a huge deal, and actually said it's fairly common in the first part of pregnancy.  He explained that the pregnancy hormone fights the thyroid hormone and it usually goes back up.  He said we'd look at the count again at my 26 week glucose test.  He didn't seem worried, so I didn't worry... until I got home and started looking at what a low thyroid count can do to growing babies!  I finally had to stop looking at stuff and move on, or else I'll worry like crazy.  Someone tell me you had this and your child is fine!  Please!  Praying it is back up now.  It does explain my exhaustion at the first part of this pregnancy. 
  • Lastly, we talked platelets briefly.  Mine were 'pretty low' as he deemed it, when I had my bloodwork done in the lab at about 6 weeks, but at 12 week prenatals my platelets were back up to 145,000 (normal is 150,000 - 400,000... my 'normal', or not pregnant, number is around 241,000).  So they are still technically 'low'.  He said the big word again about what it probably is, and said we'll just have to watch that and my blood pressure like the time before.  I'm getting used to the platelet thing.  Still praying to be over 100,000 at the time of birth, praying for that epidural this time.  (Could be awful if I have low platelets and require a c-section for any reason, completely narrows down anesthesia options... in fact, general anesthesia, which isn't great for me or baby, may be one of few options I have... pray against the c-section, please.)
So anyway - all in all, I'm not worried about much at the moment.  There is a lot of time for things to change.  Would love for you to join me in the prayer things mentioned above, and I'll keep you posted on our newest little blessing (and our oldest too, he's getting ready to turn 2!)


Monday, October 18, 2010

Praying for a healthy baby

For me there's been something about a second pregnancy that has made me a little less naive this time around.  Maybe it's experience between now and two years ago.  Maybe it's friend who have shared their pregnancy ups and downs.  Whatever the reason... I've probably been more concerned this pregnancy that I was with Bryton's.  (I made up for all of that after Bryton was born.  Hopefully this time I'll be a little less obsessive with this baby since I was during pregnancy.)
Anyway - tomorrow we go for our 'anatomy scan'.  I'll call it that because, well, I'm not sure what else to call it.  It's kind of ironic, because finding out the gender of the baby is a 'perk' to the ultrasound, but it's not the reason for it.  I've become painfully aware of this during this pregnancy.  They are checking to make sure baby is progressing right, that their are no visual malformations, that there is an adequate amount of amniotic fluid, etc.  And knowing we'll want to find out baby's gender, they'll give a little look in that direction too.  (Pray for cooperation on Baby 2's part ;)... B was extremely obvious, and I would love to be 100% sure leaving tomorrow!)
All of that said, I have to say this, with pre-knowledge, that all I want is a healthy baby.  10 little fingers, 10 little toes, everything in it's place... growing on track, etc, etc, etc.  I was so concerned with finding out what Bryton was that I didn't even think about those things at the 'anatomy scan'.  Trust me, I thought about them in the weeks proceeding birth!
So tomorrow, boy or girl, we are praying for healthy healthy healthy.  As far as a boy or girl is concerned, it's very odd.  With Bryton, I wanted a boy first, I didn't 'care' either way, but, well, you know.  This time, I can really see perks to both.  I could dress up a little girl (who may cause me a lot of heartache later), but a little boy I would be used to, I'd have the toys for (would still need clothes for different times of the year and some other things), and I feel like two boys would be closer than a boy and a girl would.
So, one way or another we're happy.  Healthy is our major concern!
Big post tomorrow!

Friday, October 15, 2010

What I Appreciate About MY Husband Pastor

The list is too long to list them all, but here's things I don't credit him for a lot:

  • He works hard!  Preparing lessons, making relationships, planning worship, praying and caring about the spiritual life of his band and his students, planning retreats, trips, events, and the like, doing paper work, going to games and activities of students, counseling and making himself available. 
  • He's very compassionate and caring towards students.  He has great discernment on how much 'tough love' each student can handle, and he is compassionate enough for students to know that he cares.  
  • It takes a lot for him to get frustrated.  In situations where I'd find myself fuming, he's calm.  
  • He loves to have fun.  Huge plus in youth ministry!  He likes to laugh, joke around, get dirty, and have a good time!  My kinda guy!  
  • He has passion.  He desires greatly for people to encounter God during worship, for students to be zealous for the Lord, and for lost students to find the cross.  He loses sleep when one or all of these are lacking.  
  • He works well with people.  All people, senior people, children people, youth people, middle aged people... he has an attractive personality that is well received on a multi-generational level.  I have similar qualities, but depending on my life's circumstances, am not always as approachable as he is.  
  • He's outgoing.  This kind of goes with the point above, but he has no problem walking into a room alone and approaching anyone who might be in there.  Very extroverted! 
  • He's an optimist (okay, most of the time.)  But he wants to see the good in people always before he sees any negative. 
  • He's a good listener.  Granted, he is a male as well, so he sometimes wants to be a 'fixer' too, but he's always a good ear when you need a sounding board, to vent, or advice. 
  • He enjoys getting in the Word.  Some of my favorite conversations with him are hearing what God has been communicating to him... his inspiration often inspires me. 
  • He shows a great amount of humility.  
  • He articulates the Word well, does lessons well, and his passion is evident in his messages.  
  • He does a good job at not showing favoritism.  
  • For a man who spends several nights out a week doing church related activities, or going to sporting events or activities of students, or setting up the church on a Saturday night, or running errands for youth ministry, he includes his family (us) in many of those things so that we can still be together, and then he makes time for just us as well.
  • He knows how to bite his tongue... and often bites mine for me as well.  (It's that whole submissive thing... gotten me out of a lot of trouble, probably.)  During times when I feel he's been wronged his biting his tongue, and him encouraging me to bite mine (ahem), often keeps us from dissension with others.  It's a good thing. 
  • He knows how to serve.  Those things listed yesterday:  parking blocks, snow, mowing for a home-bound who couldn't do it herself, cleaning, volunteering, serving meals, picking up (after himself and others), all are part of his 'servant' nature.  
And again, the list goes on... but I wanted to name a few, especially some I don't mention to him a lot.  Don't forget your pastors, everyone.  They make a lot of sacrifices to better serve us.  
 Until next time -
- a