Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Thankful Thursday--a bombshelter

It's been quite the day. We got a bill from the IRS for over $1000, the last possible candidate for my maternity leave replacement declined (so no leave replacement for me), the babysitter we used with Henry and Harmony doesn't have any slots for infants this spring, and we found out about a very devisive issue brewing in our church.

And this was all before noon.

My first thought was, "I need a bomb shelter!" My second thought: "I have one--Jesus!"

Psalm 27:1-5, 14

The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.

Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

So this week, I'm thankful that God is our Rock and our salvation, a stronghold in the time of trouble.

I'm thankful that we have no reason to fear or be afraid--if God is for us, who can be against us?

I'm thankful that we can be confident that the Lord will be on our side, even in the midst of trial.

I'm thankful that waiting is worth it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Top Ten Tuesday

Here are the top ten things my kids have argued about this week:
10. Whose turn it is to use the bee spoon.
9. Whose turn it is to take the last bath.
8. Whose turn it is to pray last. (Is it strange that my kids fight over being last?)
7. Whose turn it is to sit by mom. (sensing a turn taking trend?)
6. Whose turn it is to pick a movie for rest time.
5. Which movie to watch at rest time.
4. Which transformer has the most power.
3. Whether our cat would be a good mommy.
2. Whether Obi Won Kenobi is wearing "girl scout tights" or pants.
1. Whether Funshine bear is a boy or a girl.

Never a dull moment with preschoolers in the house :)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Melodic Monday--Everlasting God by Chris Tomlin

We sang this on Sunday, and I couldn't help but pray for several friends who are waiting on the Lord right now...

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord

Our God, You reign forever
Our hope, our Strong Deliverer

You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won't grow weary
You're the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord

Our God, You reign forever
Our hope, our Strong Deliverer

You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won't grow weary
You're the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles

Our God, You reign forever
Our hope, our Strong Deliverer

You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won't grow weary
You're the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles

CVS trip

I got a $10 off of $50 coupon on my last transaction--why do the smaller coupons (like $4 off of $20) seem easier to work with? I did stick to my rule of only buying what we will use (like favorite deodorant brands and cents). It's not a killer oop, but is what we needed.

4 14 oz packs of M&M's $10 (to make Monster cookies)
2 Degree deodorants $3.98
1 Hello Kitty Bandaids $2.99 (for the queen of bumps, bruises and scrapes)
1 Charmin 12 double rolls $6.49
2 Stayfree maxi pads $9 (stocking up for when baby arrives)
1 Tylenol Extra Strength $6
Mylanta $5.50
1 CVS pantiliner $.99
1 20 oz deluxe nuts $4.99 (a favorite snack)
Plastic cups $2.99 (for a meeting tomorrow--original purpose of trip)

Total: 52.93

Minus: $10/$50
0.25 Charmin
1.00 Tylenol
4.50 BOGO Stayfree
1.00 off 2 Degree
1.00 off Bandaids

Total: 34.68 plus 2.41 tax: $34.09

Minus: 3.00 ECBS from previously

Earned Extra Care Bucks:

$5 (from $10 candy)
$10 (from buying $20 J&J products)
$2 (from Bandaids)
$0.99 (from CVS pantiliners)

Total: $18.10 (Total paid minus ECBs earned)

If I didn't have the $10 off of $50, and you wanted to do the $5 CVS challenge, you could do multiple transactions like this:

Transaction 1:
2 CVS pantiliners 1.98
1 Bandaid product 2.99
minus Bandaid coupon -1

total OOP: 3.97+tax
Earned ECBs: 3.97

Transaction 2:
2 Stayfree pads $9
J&J products totalling $11 (bath buddies are cheap ($1) and if you use the 2/$2 coupon, they're free)
BOGO coupon -4.50
J&J coupons from company website or here
ECBS -3.97
OOP: variable + 0.53 + tax
Earn $10 in ECBs

Transaction 3:
Photo DVD (think Christmas present!) $9.99
-$10 ECB
0 oop
Earn 9.99 ECB
Can repeat this transaction several times.
NB: I tried a photo deal last week, and it was kind of a pain. Definitely put all the pics you want on a single memory card, and upload the whole thing to save time.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Doing Life together

Our church calls our small groups "life groups"--the goal is for us to "do life together." It's one way we try to look like an Acts 4 church--sharing everything (time, resources, burdens...). For example, in the last couple of months our life group has helped a family in our group pack for a move, gone to a local water park, shared ice cream, prayed for each other, and studied Phillipians. One thing I struggle with is that it's hard to really "do life" (like the spontaneous "I need emergency childcare right now") when you live 30 miles away.

We've been doubly blessed, though--really, we have a second life group in the town we live, made up of a couple of families. While we don't all go to the same church on Sunday morning, we're part of one body. We pray for each other, hang out together, share meals, and just generally "do life" together. Like yesterday--our kids had a great play date while one of the moms had a stressful appointment, and we had a weinie roast at a second friend's house within walking distance. The kids had a great time playing, the adults got fellowship time and/or time to do what was necessary, and Jesus was definitely there. Everyone all around was blessed.

And in a wierd way, I have a third "Life Group"--through the blogosphere and a bulletin board I'm on. A way to share what's happening in each other's lives, and support one another in words and prayer.

Thanks, God for making us to be relational, and putting friendships in our lives.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lessons from the tomatoes

We planted two, yes two, "100" cherry tomato plants. I have learned how they got their name--each one must have at LEAST 100 tomatoes on it! If anyone wants some, we're going to have a bumper crop for the next several weeks...

Jesus used several farming examples, and I'm definitely learning from our garden. For example:
--The flower has to fade for the fruit to come. (Maybe getting older and unattractive isn't such a bad thing.)
--Not all the flowers develop into fruit (good thing, or we'd have zucchini coming out of our ears too!)
--Some plants give tons of small fruit; others give a few, larger pieces. (It's ok that our life group has fewer but deeper relationships).
--Once you pick the first one, the others start to develop. (Maybe that's why God wants the first fruit).
--Fences and pruning are good both for getting more fruit and less rotten/bug filled fruit.

Amateur night (well, morning)

We missed church on Sunday because we were in Columbus. Bummer! We were finishing the book of James, and I was looking forward to learning about this passage. I will probably listen to John's sermon, but I want to start with what God shows me. So this morning I woke up earlier than normal, and did just that.

James 5:13-20

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

How fitting--it totally matches my "pray continually" verse! It totally fits for a 5W and an H...

Who should pray?
--the afflicted
--The happy
--the sick
--the elders
--for each other

What should we pray?
--Psalms/songs of praise
--in the name of the Lord
--for conversion

When should we pray?
--in troubles
--in good times
--in sickness
--in sin
--when someone wanders

Where should we pray?
--over the sick (in person)

How should we pray?
--over the person, with oil anointing for healing (14)
--with faith (15)
--fervently (16)

Why should we pray?
--To be healed
--To celebrate
--To be forgiven
--Because it’s effective (16)
--It’s fruitful
--It saves
--it hides a multitude of sins

Thanks for more details about the "pray continually." It's good to get specific instructions. Help me be a doer of the Word, and not just a hearer only.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Pray continually...or is it continuously?

I figured this week's two word Bible Memory verse would be a piece of hard can two words be?? Apparently, with typos and my really bad memory, at least three days on day 5 :)

But I'm thankful for spending the extra time on the verse. It's been a great one for this week--the reminder that in all things, in all places, what I need to be doing is praying--talking to the Father and listening for his response.

My kids are both at a stage where they both want to talk all the time, at the same God can hear all our prayers is definitely a divine skill. I'm thankful for it, first, because they want to share their lives, interests, and thoughts with me, and second, because it reminds me how much God wants us to listen, both to Him and to others. I realize I'm not the best listener--that's something I definitely need to work on.

I'm also thankful for...
--a great family escape to Columbus and Fort Wayne
--Kim and Callie getting to go home
--Jen's baby waiting for an appearance, and that she got to go off of the medicine
--Fun times with our life group
--Henry's much improved swimming skills

And of course, Iris for hosting Thankful Thursdays!

Wordless Wednesday

Works for me Wednesday

One of the smartest things we brought on our weekend trip was water bottles.

Harmony's is Hello Kitty, and Henry's is Cars (I have a plain purple one from our doctor, and Patrick's is from a meeting). The night before we left, I half filled them with filtered water and froze them. In the morning, I topped them off with filtered water. Voila--drinks for in the car that are relatively kid proof! Every morning in the hotel we washed the lids, filled them to the brim with ice and then cold water.

We saved at least $40 on drinks, because everywhere we went, we had our own cold one. If we were going somewhere not appropriate to bring a water bottle (like the organ concert), we left them in an insulated bag in the car. We use them for local trips too--any drive over a mile, and the kids want them with us.

So that's what worked for me this week! Please join Shannon to share what works for you, or see what works for others!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Green lights

We went to an organ tour yesterday--a concert plus education (like learning about the organ and seeing it).

At one point, Henry turned to me and said, "Where's our green light?"
Our tour guide/organist had said she'd give us the green light when it was time for us to sing--really, the music just got louder.

I wonder if sometimes we're looking for a literal green light sometimes too!

Help us see your green lights, even when they're not literal green lights.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

The first verse was my "theme verse" for my pregnancy with Henry--seems appropriate for this week too.

Thanks, Lord, that we can trust you to be there when we don't understand.
Thanks for straightening our paths, especially when we get all turned around.
Thanks that we can trust you 100%, with ALL our heart.
Thanks that when we acknowledge You, you show up in great ways.

Thanks for being with Kim and Callie this week. Thanks for bringing Dave and Kim together through this ordeal, and for providing caring and competent medical attention (if not completely timing). Thanks that Kim is able to give thanks in the midst of this trial. We pray for complete and quick healing for Callie, and endurance for Kim, Dave and Noah this week.

Thanks for watching over pregant moms--for the safe arrival of Ava and for not bringing Jen's baby here yet (he needs to cook a few more weeks!). Thanks for an uncomplicated pregnancy for me, including no ulcerative colitis (it was miserable with Harmony)--hard to believe I'm 23 weeks! We pray for the safe arrival of Baby Ranvestel...soon!

Thanks for spontaneous travel plans, cooked sushi, laughter from the back seat, Priceline, and fun family times. Bless this trip and our time together.

Thanks that you hear our praises, and enjoy them. Thanks for Iris hosting Thankful Thursdays, so that we can share them, and each other's burdens.

Shortest Bible verse?

After being stuck on my last verse at Bible Memory for at least two weeks (I definitely needed to learn it! It's the little words--can vs should--that get me stuck), I think I should be able to master this one:

Pray continually 1 Thessalonians 5:17

I think I'll even be able to get the address :) I thought "Jesus wept" was the shortest verse; I guess this does have more letters.

But even though it's short, it still has power. I've been praying a lot for Kim and Callie (and Dave and Noah), and for my friend Jen too. But I need to pray more about what comes out of my mouth (or fingers) too.

Lord, help me filter my life through You, everything I say or do.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Conversations with Harmony

This is a very typical conversation with Harmony these days:

H: Mom?
Me: Yes?
H: Mom?
Me: Yes?
H: Mom, can I tell you something, Mom?
Me: Sure.
H: mmmmmmmm...I love you, Mom!

Melodic Monday: Everlasting Love by Bill Batstone

Henry has been singing this song and "Blessed be the name of the Lord" all weekend. The funny thing is the day Harmony and I went to sit in the back of sports camp, they sang this song, but Henry refused to sing or do the motions. Now he's singing it in his bed!

Your everlasting love is higher,
higher, higher than the sky
Your everlasting love is higher,
higher, higher than the sky
Higher than the sky
All the wonder of
Your everlasting love
Is higher than the sky

Your everlasting love is deeper,
deeper, deeper than the sea
Your everlasting love is deeper,
deeper, deeper than the sea
Deeper than the sea
All the wonder of
Your everlasting love
Is deeper than the sea

Higher than the heavens above
Is the glory of your wonderful love
I'm lost in the mystery of
Your everlasting love
Your everlasting love
Your everlasting love

Your everlasting love is reaching,
reaching, reaching out to me
Your everlasting love is reaching,
reaching, reaching out to me
Reaching out to me
All the wonder of
Your everlasting love
Is reaching out to me

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Head knowledge vs heart knowledge

This last week Henry went to a local church's "sports camp" (their VBS). They played soccer, basketball, and football for a half hour each, with a half hour snack/story break and half hour opening and closing. They went with themes appropriate to sports--teamwork, perserverance, and kindness.

Harmony and I went and watched one night. The story for perserverance was about Noah and his sons. I was proud of Henry--he knew the names of Noah's sons (Ham, Shem and Japeth (sp?)), as well as the details of the other Bible stories.

I'm glad he has good "head knowledge". But how do you measure or "teach" heart knowledge? We try to bring in spiritual aspects into every day, and hope it sinks in, but really all you can do is pray.

Walgreens deal

I tried shopping for bras this afternoon, and the score was bras: 10. Me: 0. How can a 38C be too small but a 40C (and 40B) be too big? And why don't they make 40As?

So I needed a shopping victory, so I went to Walgreens. Here's what I got:

Electrosol 12 pk $2.19
2 Quattro disposable razors, 5.99 each
2 pkgs of envelopes 0.99 each
2 crayola 10 pk markers 0.99 each
Chocolate chip granola bars 1.00
2 Colgate toothpastes 3.49
Loaded chocolate bar 0.99

Subtotal 37.80

3.00 Colgate (walgreens ad coupon)
0.98 Envelopes (walgreens ad coupon)
$2/2 Colgate Easy Saver Walgreens coupon
$4.00 Quatro Easy Saver coupon
2 $1.50 Colgate coupons from All You (July and April?)
5.99 BOGO Quattro coupon (today's paper)
2.00 Electrosol paper (today's paper--listed at 2.25, but rang as $2??)

Grand out of pocket: 7.68 (after tax)

Rebate: 0.99 (chocolate bar)

So the electrosol was 0.19 (should have been free, but good enough), the candy bar was free after rebate, and I made a dollar on the toothpaste (anyone need some toothpaste? Even though I only get it when it's free, we have a ton). We're out of envelopes, and the markers are for school for Henry (I'm assuming--still don't have a list from school). I had a gift card for 7.69 from last month's rebates, so I really paid nothing! Defiitely made up for the bra shopping :)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Who is the donkey?

My memory verse this week is Numbers 23:19 (I really love!):
God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?

That's been a great verse for this week (well, we're probably well into week 2...). I love that we have a God that does what he says he will and keeps his promises. That's definitely something to hold onto this week, with friends in the hospital.

One of the best things about this verse is who said it. Balaam was hired by Balak, the king of the Moabs, to curse the Israelites. Balaam heard from God, and didn't want to go with Balak, because he knew he couldn't curse them. It was Balaam's donkey who saw an angel of the Lord and spoke to Balaam (gotta love Rich Mullin's lyrics). In fact, every time Balak set up a sacrifice so that Balaam could curse Israel (maybe God will let the Israelites be cursed *here*, Balaam ended up blessing Israel. (The whole story is here.)

I'm not sure why this resonated so much with me, but it was totally encouraging, getting me back in my Bible, doing some study. One day what struck me was how God can use anyone--a sorcerer from another country and even his donkey. Tonight what struck me was that it didn't matter where Balak took Balaam, God's word was still His unchanging word, and the Israelites were blessed.

Thanks, Lord, that your word is your word, and that you always follow through. It doesn't matter where we are or where we're facing, you will still bless your people. Thanks that you use even a donkey and a sorcerer--maybe even you and me.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cute quote of the day

While we were hiking at Turkey Run, Henry was peering into a cave.
Henry: Oooh, Wow!
Harmony: What's in there?
Henry: Nothing.
(Harmony throws up her hands and gives me the "oh, brother" look)...

A second classic:
"This is a hiking trail, not a whining trail"

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Prayer request

Please pray for my friend, Jen. She's been hospitalized for a bladder and uterine infection--she's on meds for both the infection and to stop the contractions. She's 28ish weeks...

And while your at it, Pray for Callie and Kim. Pray for wisdom for the doctors, the swelling to go down, complete healing and for it to be absolutely nothing worth worrying about.

Lord, heal Jen's body and protection for her baby. Heal Callie, and be with Callie and Kim (and Dave and Noah), and give the doctors wisdom.

Wordless Wednesday--Celestun

Monday, July 7, 2008

My children are strange!

Guess what they were fighting about and begging for?

Not who got a Monster Cookie.

Not who got a piece of angel food cake (which was supposed to go to my parents' house for their anniversary, but we forgot).

Nope. What they were arguing about was...

who got the last pod of peas from the garden! (We ended up splitting it three ways...there is nothing better than peas, straight out of the garden! Too bad they're so hard to find...)

A close rival has been who got more blackberries with their French toast at dinnertime...(yeah, I menu plan is more a menu guide--it was the only meal on the list I could make without a trip to the grocery store!)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Menu planning Monday

Gotta get back on track--we've been in "vacation mode"! I'm continuing to clean out the freezer--all of the meat is coming from there :) I can't guarantee the order, but here is the gist:

M: Waffles and apple slices
T: Grilled cheese, grapes, carrots
W: Hot dog for Henry, corn dog for Henry (the last of each!), yogurt, cantalope and blackberries
Th: Turkey and cheese or PBJ sandwich, whatever fruits and veggies are left :)
F: Left overs


M: Hamburgers, corn on the cob, watermelon
T: Pork in orange sauce with brown rice and spinach salad
W: French toast with bananas and apples
T: Curry chicken, veggies and couscous or curry chicken apple salad
F: Spaghetti carbonara, spinach salad, strawberry sorbet

For more ideas, see Menu Planning Monday!

Curried Chicken four ways

Curried Chicken, Veggies and Couscous (from Best Loved Casseroles)

1 pkg frozen vegetable medley (16 oz)
1 lb chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
2 t curry powder, divided
¾ t garlic powder
2 T flour
1/8 t red pepper
1 T oil
1 can chicken broth
1 c uncooked couscous

Thaw veggies in microwave.
Mix 1 t curry powder, garlic powder, flour and red pepper in Ziploc bag or bowl. Toss chicken in mixture.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken to hot oil. Cook 5-6 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink in the middle, turning occasionally.
Transfer chicken to plate and set aside. Add broth and remaining curry powder to skillet; bring to a boil.
Stir in thawed vegetables; return to a boil. Stir in couscous top with chicken. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

I like these alternative uses for the curry chicken: Coat and cook chicken as above. Mix with diced apples, pecans or walnuts, and plain yogurt. Serve either warm over rice, as a salad, or in a pita.

Pork in orange sauce

Pork in orange sauce (from The Tapas cookbook)

2 T olive oil
small onion, sliced fine
1 ½ lb pork, cut into 1 inch cubes
¾ c orange juice (preferably fresh)
grated rind of two oranges
¾ c chicken broth
2 green chiles, chopped, or 2 tsp chili paste
1 tsp garlic, crushed
1 T cilantro or parsley, chopped
2 tsp corn starch
1 T cold water

In a large skillet, heat the oil. Saute the onion until soft and golden. Place aside.
Add the pork to the pan and cook, turning until it is browned on all sides.
Combine the orange rind, orange juice, broth, chile, garlic, and cilantro or parsley, and pour over the pork. Bring to a boil and add the onion slices. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Mix the cornstarch and water; add to the sauce and allow to thicken.
Serve with brown rice.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Thankful Thursday

My Bible memory verse this week is Numbers 23:19:

God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

Wow. That's amazing. I am so glad that God does not change his mind, is true to His word, and keeps his promises. That would definitely be the difference between God and man!

This week I am thankful for:
--incredible growth in our Children's Church. I pray for more teachers, so that we can divide the "older kids" (5-10) group into 5-7 and 8-10.
--My wonderful children, and who they are becoming in Christ.
--Fresh summer foods--can't beat blackberries and peas straight from the garden!
--My parents' 40th wedding anniversary
--A flexible work schedule, especially during the summer (though it's not as "off" as everyone expects)
--Our great vacation to Mexico
--Being home and seeing friends again!

For more thankfulness, please visit Iris...or post your own!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

CVS deal--0 out of pocket!

I don't think I've ever had a "pay nothing out of pocket" trip before--it's a bit of a trip! While in reality it cost me $4 (in ExtraCare Bucks), I'm still happy about providing for my family without much money being involved. I did get a $5 off of $25 coupon that I tried to figure out how to use, but in the end, I'm saving it for another week.

2 Chex mix, 2/$3
1 Kashi cereal and 1 Kashi granola bar, 2/$5
1 CVS pantiliner $0.99
1 gallon of milk, 2.99 (what I really came in for)
2 Sure deodorants, 5.98

Total: 17.97 plus tax

2 $1/1 Chex mix (printable)
2 $2/1 Kashi (from; register, and use the back button to print a second)
$1 Sure deodorant (5/11 smartsource)

subtotal: 10.97
Minus: $10 ECBs from before, $1 ECB from spring spending
OOP: 0!

Earned: 3.99 ECBs
Plus Sure rebate (from 5/11 smartsource) for $3 (I ended up earning $1 minus postage for the deodorant!)

So all together, I spent $11 (in ECBs) and earned 3.99 ECB + $3 rebate. Not bad considering we were completely out of milk (which was $3 of the $4 I spent)!

Wordless Wednesday--Santiago Sunset