Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spiritual Sunday - How I'm feeling today...

"Our God is in heaven and does whatever He pleases." - Psalm 115:3

"I know that You can do anything, and no plan of Yours can be thwarted." - Job 42:2

"The Lord does whatever He pleases in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all the depths." -Psalm 135:6 



"He does whatever He pleases!" - Job 23:13


This is how I've been feeling...It does not bring me very much comfort...just a quiet acceptance I guess.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tips and Hints Tuesday - Save food when you think it's burnt

Have you ever made stew, soup, or sauce only to find that thick layer of burnt stuff stuck to the bottom?

What's the first thing you do?? YOU STIR IT RIGHT??? Oh the temptation....

If you find that you have this burnt bottom layer, resist the urge to stir the burnt up bits into the rest of your food (which is still okay) rendering it, inedible.

Pick up your sauce pan or stock pot and dump it into a clean bowl or pot leaving the caked on mess in the first pan.

Now you've successfully saved yourself from throwing away an entire pot of food!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Money Monday - Back to Basics Part 3 - Stop using credit

We are so over on our grocery budget this month it's not funny. I guess I've been buying in bulk, buying organic, and buying too much fresh produce.

Anyhow - on Money Mondays we've been getting back to the basics.

Week 1  - Organize a Space
Week 2  - Balance Your Checkbook 

Today we're going to get you ready to start managing what comes in each month, but first you must STOP USING THOSE CREDIT CARDS. I'll say it again:

STOP USING YOUR CREDIT CARDS!!

Can you hear what I'm screaming??

If you can't afford it this month, you shouldn't buy it. It annoys me when people insist that they're making money off of their credit cards. Do you realize what the credit card companies are making??? If you play with snakes, you're GOING TO GET BIT!!

In fact, I just saw this morning that the credit card companies are adding more hidden fees. You all know the recent changes they've been making in the last two years: tripling your interest rate just because they can, changing your billing date without notifying you so they can charge you late fees, and lowering your limit so that, all of the sudden, they can charge you over the limit fees. They're even randomly and suddenly closing accounts.

Now you'll see more annual fees and charges for balance transfers, and even fees for receiving paper statements in the mail!

For those of you who only use your credit card for EMERGENCIES (instead of putting a cash stash away for a rainy day) - many are now CHARGING FEES for cards that remain inactive for specified periods of time.

Did you know if you pay the minimum payment on a $3000 balance with a 14% interest rate it'll take you 10 years to pay it off???

To read more about how the credit card companies rip you off, read this story I saw on the news this morning.

PEOPLE, is this REALLY what you want to be playing with????

Cut them up. You don't need that new TV and you can get by with your old black pants. Start using cash.

You say:
But I can't make online purchases with cash: You can use your debit card JUST like a Visa credit card. I haven't run into a problem yet.

But I'm not as protected with my debit card: When you use your debit card as a credit card, you are under all of the safety nets of the Visa credit card. You are EQUALLY as safe using a debit card when it comes to protection from the card companies.

But I don't HAVE cash on hand for emergencies: We're going to talk about how to get yourself out of that hole next week. For now - THINK LOGICALLY. You know that borrowing from and owing money to cheaters and thieves is NOT the game you want to play OR the position you want to be in.

If you're someone who takes the Bible to heart, borrowing money is NOT biblical.

Proverbs 22:7 The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is SERVANT to the lender.

Romans 13: 8 Owe no one anything except to love one another.

Proverbs 13:11 Dishonest money dwindles away, be he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.








Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spiritual Sunday - Love Your Enemies Part 2

Last week we took a look at David and his refusal to harm Saul who was out for David's life. We're talking about loving those who hurt you. To read part one, go here.

Today we're going to take a look at the prophet Elisha. One of his jobs was to help the King of Israel by warning him, with words from the Lord, when Israel would soon be under attack. The King of Aram became frustrated when his efforts were thwarted by Elisha's revelations. So he sent an army to surround Elisha and kill him. Elisha, of course, had the God of the universe on his side and prayed for the blindness of the Aramean soldiers. He himself led the soldiers to Samaria, instead making them believe they had come the wrong way. When he prayed that God would open their eyes again leaving them vulnerable and confused of their whereabouts, the king of Israel shouted out:

"My father, should I kill them?"

"Of course not!" Elisha told him. "Do you kill prisoners of war? Give them food and drink and send them home again to their master" 2 Kings 21-22

Not only did he not harm the group of people whose very intention was to take his life, he FED THEM, CARED FOR THEM, and sent them home!!

I just don't know if I would have the same compassion. This filling of the holy spirit; this closeness with the things of God; this LOVE of those HE loves, seems nearly impossible. Can it be done??? 

I just feel today that if Elisha can spare an army of those who were out for his life, we too can be compassionate and loving of those who drive us nuts! This week as you go about your days, please pray that God will give you the heart and wisdom he gave to David and Elisha. 

Spiritual Sunday - Love Your Enemies Part 1

I always have a hard time reading people's blogs when they regard to spiritual things. I don't know if that is a character flaw in me or what. So, on Sundays, I'm very quick to skip my blog because I just assume that people won't read it. However, I made a connection between two biblical men today, and I really just want to share.

I think we all have people in our lives who annoy us. Just yesterday, I was feeling very snarky and cynical. I had this real irritation toward anyone who spoke to me. It was bothering me. I don't want to be like that. These are people I love - these are not people I would consider enemies or people who have the desire to do me harm.

Now, I know you can relate to this on a certain level: that person you work with, that obnoxious family member, maybe even an annoying friend. Or maybe you have someone in mind that you feel is truly out to get you. You find it hard not to bite back when they shoot daggers at you.

Well when you think about a man from Scripture "after God's own heart," who but David (aside from the whole Bathsheeba thing) would be better to model yourself after. King Saul thought David was pretty cool in the beginning, before he (Saul) went insane and all. Then it seemed as though his sole purpose was to end David's life. God was with David and put before him many opportunities that would have granted him Saul's life - one of which was when Saul was going  to the bathroom in a dark cave - talk about revenge! But, he chose not to. In one of multiple scenes in which Saul could have been handed over to David, Abishai whispers to David as they look upon Saul sleeping in his tent. That very morning Saul had plans to kill David himself.

"Let me thrust that spear through him. I'll pin him to the ground and I won't need to strike twice!"

"No!" David said. "Don't kill him. For who can remain innocent after attacking the Lord's anointed one? Surely the Lord will strike Saul down someday, or he will die in battle or of old age. But the Lord forbid that I should kill the one he has anointed!" 1 Samuel 26:8-11

David trusted that God was in control and would care for him and place judgement on Saul when HE saw fit.

How hard is that for us to do? We often take revenge or "getting back" or even a snide retaliation into our own hands. David spent much of the time fleeing from his enemies, but refused to lay a hand on God's anointed; someone he knew he was to respect and love. Live your day today with this attitude - even if that person you should respect doesn't deserve your respect. It's difficult, but remember what David subjected himself to in order to be honorable in the eyes of God.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wellness Wednesday - Back Pain

Oh back pain - so many suffer with it - and if you live in the north east - you definitely have it. All of this snow is definitely creating some new pains!

Some of you have legitimate issues: a slipped disc, arthritis, or injuries. Other of you aren't sure what has caused your pain, but I want to encourage you to STRETCH.

I bet if I asked you to sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, it would hurt if you leaned forward and touched your toes. If you're nodding your head in agreement - I suggest you start trying to increase your flexibility.

Do the aforementioned stretch a couple times a day - but don't force yourself to touch your toes. Take your time and soon you'll notice a difference.

I also recommend doing the downward dog yoga pose for as long as it's comfortable. Bend over and touch the floor so that your body makes a triangle. Your palms and heels should be flat on the floor. Push back with your hands until your bottom is unnervingly up in the air. Feel the stretch in the entire back of your body as you relax your neck and head.

Have you tried the cat cow stretch? This feels so good when my back hurts! Get on all fours. Arch your back up as you tuck your head and tailbone under. Hold for a deep breath, then arch your back the opposite way as you look up.

Try sitting cross-legged on the floor. Walk your hands and body down to the floor as far as you can until you feel the stretch in your thighs, hips and back. Hold for 60 seconds.

As with all stretches, ONLY MOVE AS DEEPLY AS YOU ARE COMFORTABLE! I recommend googling all the stretches mentioned here as you can look at photos and get a more specific idea on how to do them.

Hope your back feels better!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Scrumptious Saturday - Blueberry Muffins

   I'm not a huge fan of fruit in desserts or cakes, but I bought blueberries and Hannah was asking to help me make muffins so I did - and THESE TASTE LIKE THEY CAME FROM A BAKERY! They are so delicious, I am now smitten.


This makes 12 muffins.



Ingredients

 


Directions

 

    Grease 12 cup muffin pan.


    Preheat oven to 350.


    In large bowl with mixer at medium speed, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.


    Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.


    Combine flour, baking powder and salt.


    Add alternately to creamed mixture with milk and vanilla.


    Crush 1/2 cup berries and add to batter.


    Fold remaining berries into batter and spoon into muffin pan.


    Sprinkle with sugar. I like to sprinkle a good bit on each muffin.


    Bake 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (I used dark pans - you might   

    have to adjust if you use light)


    Cool in pan 5 minutes and turn onto wire rack.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Family Friday

We've had a nice evening. Yes we're in early, but that's okay with me!

Matt got home from work around 4pm so we left right away. I was assuming it was going to be crazy out with it being Valentine's Day weekend - but it really wasn't.

We went to Red Robin for burgers and the three of us split a milk shake. For the first time in her entire life, my daughter was like - "My stomach feels weird, it doesn't feel good." I said "Hannah - that means your full - you ate too much."  Ha! There's a first for everything I guess.

Then we went to the mall and let Hannah run around in the play area. I did some shopping. I will share my deals on Monday - but for now GO TO THE CHILDREN'S PLACE!!

We got home a little while ago and had a dance party. Hannah loves that. She's got some crazy moves. I'm wondering who taught her the sprinkler!

Now it's time for her to go to bed and maybe that cute guy I live with and I will watch a movie.

It was a good night!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thankful Thursday

There's always something to be Thankful for. If you live in the northeast and can't find something to be thankful for in the majestic supernatural power of a God that can create a Winter Wonderland to remind us just how big he is...well then....you need help :)

Truly I am grateful for the time I've spent at home this week. I'm a "never say no" kind of girl. Always busy. Well when you're stuck, you're stuck. I've really enjoyed being at home getting housework done and just hanging out without the pressure of getting ready to do the next thing.

I'm thankful for my new phone! It was kind of a hassle at first when my previous phone committed suicide by diving head first into my glass of hot chocolate. I feel like that was a very classy way to go. I was able to get it turned on later but it was "chocolified." That means it was making all kinds of stupendous noises and all the text was in a different language - some of the text wouldn't appear at all. I really thought it was my kind of phone. But with in two days and $20 later - I got the Samsung Intensity - which I am thoroughly enjoying. Who knew a full keyboard for texting could be so fantastic?

Wellness Wednesday

I have good intentions on posting regularly - really I do; and you'd think

being cooped up in this house for a week would mean I was very on top of it. Well, you'd be wrong then. After my little hiatus from the computer, I find myself on it less. If I see an email when I walk past the computer, I'll check it, but I don't sit here for hours on end.

Anyhow, being stuck in the house is NOT good for the waistline, I'm finding. Matt, in the last two days has told me I'm "dominating in the kitchen" and that I'm a "cooking machine." Both are compliments I guess, but that also means, we're EATING A LOT! I really enjoy cooking and you'll get a FANTASTIC new blueberry muffin recipe this Saturday (and I'm about to eat one right now!)

I've made huge vats of soup, sausage and peppers, granola, muffins and cookies. I'm enjoying it! The size of my behind is not.

Anyhow, I digress.

During times when you're cooped up, you're far less active and burn far less calories than on a normal day of running around. So, I just want to remind you to get some movement in. Have a dance party with the kids or do one my favorite Fitness TV exercises on Comcast OnDemand. Your belly and butt bulge will thank me!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Money Monday - Back to Basics Part 2 - Keep A Check Register

I definitely missed a week or two after starting my Back To Basics series on Money Mondays - but I'm back.

The last Money Monday entry aimed at encouraging you to organize a space to pay your bills.

This week I want you to pull out some old bank statements/open Quicken/or grab your handy dandy check register and pen and start keeping track of your purchases....Once you've accomplished that BALANCE YOUR CHECKBOOK - and do it monthly.

I've mentioned it before and will say it again: I am utterly shocked at those who do not keep track of their purchases other than seeing what has cleared online. THIS BY NO MEANS GIVES YOU AN ACCURATE COUNT OF WHAT'S IN YOUR ACCOUNT. The NSF fees confirm that.

It really is not that difficult to tuck receipts into your wallet and record them once a week. Make sure you have ONE specific place where you (and your spouse) put receipts. When the statement comes, check off the purchases and pat yourself on the back when it balances to the penny (I do a little happy dance because I'm an admitted nerd.)

If you ever want to succeed at money and control IT rather than have IT control you, you MUST MASTER this very simple but absolutely important step. If you haven't done this in a LONG time, do your best. It's going to be a pain and may take a month or two to get things on track, but please, stick with it. You'll feel so much more in control of what you've been given.

If you're spiritually inclined, this is biblical. God calls us to be good stewards of what he's blessed us with. Letting your money fly out of your hands without a second thought of management is wrong. Take a baby step today and start writing down those transactions after you do a little balancing.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Spiritual Sunday

There is no questioning what God does. He's big, he's strong, and he knows everything. He'll do what he wants.

Sometimes I think people fight that too much. We feel like if we kick and scream, he'll give us our way. Is that how you'd handle your own kids?

When we face pain, intense pain even, we ask God to take it away. We ask him how he could let such a thing happen to us.

If this is you today, I leave you with this: You must remember that God sees the bigger picture that we, with our mortal little human minds can't even comprehend. Trust him. He loves you - more than you know.


Jeremiah 29:11 (New International Version)

11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."



Saturday, February 6, 2010

Scrumptious Saturday

I think some hot chocolate is in order....

This is the big news of today!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Family Friday - A healthy marriage

I feel weird posting about this - like I know more than the rest of the world (which is obviously not true) but I'm compelled to post today on marriage. The foundation of the family unit.

It's no secret that I am insanely blessed with an amazing husband, but today I want to take a look at some basic points that I think are key to making our relationship work.

Fight Nice
Stick to the issue. That means, no name calling or bringing up past issues. Don't raise your voice. And for goodness sake - don't BICKER about stupid things.

Spend Time Together
Eat dinner at the same table, watch TV on the same couch, have a conversation. Matt and I communicate all day long through texts, phone calls and emails. I realize that not everyone is going to do that, but the idea is to keep your spouse part of your life.

Treat your Spouse Like your Treat your Friends
You probably would never talk to your friends the way you sometimes talk to your spouse. How fair is that considering all you've been through together?

Work with each other, not against
Make sure you're on the same page before your kids pit you against each other. Let them see that you are a unit that they can't wear down. Talk to each other before making purchases or altering the budget. You're a team, not individual units.

Do nice things for each other
If you think your spouse is even half as amazing as I do, then you need to do something to show it. Help them come home to a clean house, cooked dinner or maybe offer a foot massage. Are you tired and overworked? Sure. Maybe you feel like your spouse doesn't do nice things for you, so why should you bother. That's not what it's about - it's about unconditional love. Suck it up and love on your spouse. I guarantee if you stick with it, you'll be rewarded.

Be affectionate
Sleep in the same room, go to bed at the same time, greet your spouse when he/she walks in the door. Have some smoochie time each day. Act like you LIKE each other! Remember when you were dating how you were ALWAYS affectionate? That doesn't have to change...in fact, it shouldn't change.

Make your home a safe haven
Your home should always be a place of peace where you, your spouse, and your children can come to relax and recharge. If no one wants to come home because it's stressful and full of chaos and arguments you will never foster healthy familial relationships.

So, obviously you can't put a healthy marriage on paper. There's something spiritual about a healthy marriage too. Keeping God in the center is key to making a marriage healthy. Without Him,  you can't DO all the things listed above and you wouldn't have a Savior to model your behavior after. Staying strong together spiritually by worshipping and praying together is the most essential part of a successful relationship.

...now if I could only get him to buy me that diamond anniversary band...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I'm thankful that this is how I'm spending my morning...watching Handy Manny in bed with my sweet baby.

She told me last night that I have a "morning face." She then proceeded to purse her lips and squint her eyes. Matt walked past and said..."She's right...that's it."

Thanks guys.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wellness Wednesday

Well, I've been missing in a social sense...and some of you have noticed.

It's nice to be missed. It's not nice to be missing.

Things have been very difficult for my family recently. I have not had the desire to talk openly about "it" or really anything very much, but as life develops into a new sense of "normal" I feel like someday I might feel whole again, but who knows?

I'm grateful for the family I've been blessed with and thankful to Jesus Christ for holding my hand all day everyday.

No one said this life was easy. If it was, we would have no need for a Savior.

Thank you to those of you who have been thinking of me. When you have a personality like mine - that's "out there" every day, there is no hiding.

I'm beginning to get the itch to begin blogging again and hope to be back at it very soon. I hope that my handful of faithful readers will stick with me through a time of sporadic posting.

Much much love to you all.

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