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Sunday, January 31, 2010

My week

AARRGHHHHH!   That pretty much sums it up.  This week is going to be insane!
  • I'm working my normal 30 hours/3 1/2 days, plus I have a manager's meeting tomorrow.
  • I have class every day including my first BIG anatomy and physiology test Wednesday.
  • I'm planning a major event at our church next Sunday night - a special kids night - and have to send out about 100 invitations for it and get posters made.
  • Plus the usual - keeping up with home and family, planning my normal kid's ministry lessons, etc.
Feeling a little overwhelmed right now - got to remember to take things one at a time.

Confession Time...

I have a confession to make…I'm not the world's healthiest eater. I used to eat pretty well, but lately I've let myself slip into some really bad habits. Last night it hit bottom…I ate ice cream for dinner. Yes, Amanda the fitness trainer, Amanda the gym manager, the one who coaches women every day on how to get healthy and lose weight, curled up at 11:30 last night with a bowl of chocolate ice cream for dinner.


Last night was a pretty extreme example, but seriously, I do have to get my eating habits back under control. It's gotten pretty bad since I started college. I'm so pressed for time that I find myself grabbing whatever is easiest or heading to the drive-through for whatever is on the dollar menu. It's taking a toll on how I feel.  I know what I need to do - it's time to just do it and get back into healthy habits again.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Working Mommy Guilt

I have a love/hate relationship with being a working mommy. Depending on what kind of day I'm having, I can be at either extreme or somewhere in between.

I haven't always been a working mom. I worked full time at a day care before I had our oldest son. I quit when we moved away when I was seven months pregnant, and spent almost 3 years as a full time, stay at home mommy. When I found out we were expecting our second son, I went to work part time - very part time. I worked three mornings a week from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., so I was still at home almost full time. After a year and a half, we moved again, so I quit my job, spending another year and a half as a happy SAHM.

Another move brought to us Texas and to buying our first house. After a few months, I realized we had two choices - we could continually struggle to make ends meet and barely scrape by, or I could go to work. We were tired of struggling, and frankly, the ends were not meeting, no matter how hard we tried, so I started working part-time and eventually settled into a 3 1/2 day a week, 30 hour a week work schedule. More than two years later, I am much more content with our circumstances, but I still find myself sometimes struggling with working mommy guilt.

I loved staying home with my boys, and I wouldn't trade those years for anything. But there were times when I was lonely and bored. I loved working three mornings a week - it was the perfect balance of home and the outside world. As a working mom, I have to admit, I love my job. I love what I do, I love meeting new people, l love staying in touch with my own goals and not getting totally lost in mommyhood, and I'm equally excited about training for a new career as a dental hygienist.

On the flip side, being a working mom adds unbelievable amounts of stress and guilt. Life is a constant balancing act, and I often worry about how our kids will look back on their childhood. Even though they stay with their daddy while I work, I wonder if they will resent the fact that I wasn't there as much as him. Our family is a strange mix of working parent/stay at home parent, not fitting neatly into either category. I hope that our boys will see that were doing what we had to do to make our situation work. I hope they'll understand that I was being the best mom I knew how to be, and that it wasn't easy.  I hope that know that the decisions I made were all about making their lives the best we could.

Friday, January 29, 2010

5 Question Friday!

1. Would you ever vacation alone?

I would...at least I think I would.  Even a couple of years ago, the answer would have been no, but now I think I would.  I never do things in a "normal" way - my friends who are my age are calming down and becoming less adventerous, but as I'm getting older, my sense of adventure is growing!  So yes, I think I would.

2. Do you go the speed limit?
Nobody in Texas drives the speed limit!  lol  I usually do 5 over.

3. Why did you start blogging/following blogs?
I started blogging as an outlet.  I thought it would be fun to find other people like me and to share stories and ideas.  Mainly, it gives me a place to sort out my thoughts and hear ideas from others.

4. Where do you shop for yourself?
I am a bargain hunter, so when it comes to clothes, I love Ross and T.J. Maxx.  I could, however, spend sinfully large amounts of money in Barnes & Nobles or any cooking/kitchen store.

5. What was the song that you danced your first dance with your spouse to at your wedding...or...what song would you like your first dance to be to?
My hubby and I both have 2 left feet - there was no dancing at our wedding.  A couple of songs from our wedding that are still "our songs" are Everything I Do, I Do It for You," and "I Will Be Here."

5 Magazines I Love

  1. Real Simple
  2. Family Fun
  3. Cooking with Paula Deen
  4. Bon Appetite
  5. The Food Network magazine

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thankful Thursday - Relaxing at the park

A while back, when the weather was nice and I was majorly stressed, I decided I had to get away from work and get outside for a while on my lunch break.  I'd been eating lunch at work, but I was tired of looking at those walls all day, so I grabbed my food, my Bible, and my journal and headed to a local park just a few blocks from my job.  That was the start of a favorite lunchtime tradition!

Because of my college schedule (I take classes on some of my lunch breaks) I don't get to go as often, but I love the days I do get to head to the park.  Nothing can help me clear my head and sort out my thoughts as much as reading my Bible and writing in my journal as I sit on the deck overlooking the duck pond.  Since the kids are all in school during my lunch, it's very quiet and peaceful, with very few people there. 

When I first started going, that peace and quiet was desperately needed.  My mom and dad were going through marriage problems so severe I didn't think they would last.  (They are better now but still struggling.  This has been going on for over 2 years now.  Hard to believe that can happen after 31 years of marriage...)  At the same time, I was realizing that I needed to make a change and was considering the possibility of going back to school.  Spending time at the park reading my Bible, praying, and focusing on God was a lifeline that kept me going through that time.  I love it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Drooling over the iPad

I just got a laptop for Christmas...I love my laptop...and now I've seen the iPad and I'm wanting one SO bad!  Has anyone esle checked these out online?  This thing is amazing!  Part laptop, part iPod, part Kindle, it combines everything I want...I could even keep my Day Planner on it and just slip the whole unit into my backpack.  My entire life could be contained on one small handheld unit.  I'm blown away.  How can I ask for one for Christmas when I already have a laptop...hmmm...I have to figure that out!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tasty Tuesday - Easy Stuffed Chicken Breast

I love this recipe, and it's so simple to make!  Just three ingredients make a surprisingly good and filling meal.  Just throw together a salad or some veggies with it and dinner is done.

  • 4 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 8 oz. flavored cream cheese spread (I like the garden vegetable flavor)
  • 8 slices of bacon
  1. Place the chicken in a zipper bag and pound it until thin.
  2. Spread each chicken breast with cream cheese and roll up.
  3. Wrap 2 slices of bacon around each chicken breast and secure with toothpicks.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until chicken is done.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - 1/25

Monday Lunch:  hearty stew
Monday Dinner:  slow cooker rigatoni

Tuesday Lunch:  chicken and orzo frittata
Tuesday Dinner:  chicken and broccoli alfredo

Wednesday Lunch:  hearty stew
Wednesday Dinner:  slow cooker rigatoni

Thursday Lunch:  chicken and broccoli alfredo
Thursday Dinner:  Mexican chicken casserole (I've been trying to cook this for 2 weeks and we've ended up eating out instead - I'm actually going to fix it this week - lol)

Friday Lunch:  chicken sandwiches
Friday Dinner:  beef enchiladas

Saturday Lunch:  Mexican chicken casserole
Saturday Dinner:  chicken sandwiches

Sunday Lunch:  stuffed chicken breast
Sunday Dinner:  beef enchiladas

Friday, January 22, 2010

Another 5 Question Friday!

1. What is better, growing old with out money or dying young and wealthy?

Hhmmmm...if I was living a good life, despite a lack of money, I'd say old and broke...as long as I had my family, I could deal with the money part.

2. Who takes out the garbage at your house?
My husband or my oldest son...usually my son.  It's one of his regular chores.

3. Have you ever had the same dream many times?
Not really...I always have these weird, crazy dreams...probably because I watch too many crime shows!  lol

4. Can you play a musical instrument?
Not anymore, but I played French horn in junior high band.

5. If you owned your own store, what would you sell?
BOOKS!  That's an easy one.  I love to read, I love bookstores, I love libraries...right now I am blogging from the library on my lunch break.  I can't think of anything better to sell!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Slow Cooker Nachos

I just discovered this recipe...it is so simply and so delicious!  My family loves it.  It would also be great for potlucks, parties, etc.

• 1 lb ground beef


• Minced onion (to your taste)

• 4 oz. Taco Bell mild taco sauce

• 1 can refried beans

• 1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup

• 1 envelope Taco Bell taco seasoning

• 2 cups Velveeta, cubed

• Tortilla chips

• Sour cream



1. Brown beef and minced onions; drain.

2. Combine all ingredients except chips and sour cream in slow cooker.

3. Cover, cook on high 1 hour or until cheese is melted, stirring occasionally.

4. Serve with chips and sour cream - you can also add lettuce, tomato, jalapeƱos, etc.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - 1/18

Monday Lunch: pork chops


Monday Dinner: slow cooker nachos



Tuesday Lunch: sandwiches

Tuesday Dinner: chicken parmesan bundles



Wednesday Lunch: leftovers (slow cooker nachos)

Wednesday Dinner: chicken panini



Thursday Lunch: savory stew

Thursday Dinner: breakfast pizza



Friday Lunch: chicken panini

Friday Dinner: Mexican chicken casserole



Saturday Lunch: savory stew

Saturday Dinner: chicken and broccoli alfredo



Sunday Lunch: leftovers (Mexican chicken casserole)

Sunday Dinner: chicken and broccoli alfredo

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The rest of the weekend

The first part of this weekend was completely and absolutely insane!  We had some major church events to get ready for, the dog had to get her annual shots, and I had to study.  I woke up this morning looking like I'd been in a fight...my eyes were so swollen and puffy, with huge dark circles.  Ugh - not a good sight to wake up to!  Now that it's Sunday things are going to get a lot better.
I'm really excited about teaching Kids BLAST, our children's ministry, this morning.  Working in children's ministry has been my passion since I was 12 years old.  I need to write a blog post sometime on how that came about and the awesome pastor's wife who introduced me to children's ministry.  Anyway, we're starting an awesome new unit with a detective theme today...tons of fun!
After a dinner at church and a meeting this afternoon, it's home for the rest of the day.  Yea!  I can catch up on laundry and housework, plan out my menu and shopping list (which I usually have done by this point), study, hang out with my boys, and watch the start of season 8 of our favorite show, 24, with my husband.  I'm so excited about a chance to just relax a little!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Helping Haiti

The horrible disaster in Haiti has hit close to our hearts, since my husband was there just two years ago on a missions trip and we continue to financially support the organization he went with.  Fortunately, Mission of Hope was kept relatively safe from the earthquake, and they are now helping as many people as possible.  Our heart breaks for all the people affected.  If you would like to give to help Haiti, please consider giving to Mission of Hope Haiti or Convoy of Hope, both of which are amazing ministries who on the ground in Haiti now providing disaster relief.

Friday, January 15, 2010

5 Question Friday - 1/15

1. Worst trouble you ever got into as a teenager?

I'm a really boring person...I really never got into major trouble as a teenager.

2. Are you a morning person or a night person?
Night owl!  Years ago I was a morning person...then as my kids got older, I found I was only able to get stuff done at night when they're in bed, like scrapbooking, which I did once upon a time when I still had that strange thing known as "free time" - but I digress.  Now I'm definately a night owl.

3. Are you a one-handed or a two-handed Texter?
Two - I bought my phone because of the QWERTY keypad for texting.

4. Democrat, Republican, or Independent..or maybe even Green Party (whatever that is).
Conservative...I will not vote for someone just because they're Republican, I research what they stand for and vote for the individual, not the party.

5. Are you a pet person?
Yes!  We have a teacup Yorkie who is almost 11.  I love dogs, and I also love horses.  I had a horse for 7 years and sold her after my husband and I got married.  I want another one someday...once I'm out of college, the kids are older, etc., etc, etc.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thankful Thursday - DVR's

Okay, that probably sounds like a really trivial thing to be thankful for, but I love our DVR!  I don't know what I would do without mine, especially now that college has started up.  I don't watch a ton of TV, but I do have three shows I'm totally addicted to, two of which come on Monday nights, when I get home really late.  So I'm grateful that thanks to DVR, I can still keep up with 24, Castle, and Psych

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Blog Spark & General Mills Cereal

I recently discovered myblogspark.com and was excited to sign up with them!  My first product offer was for General Mills cereal.  General Mills has committed to reducing sugar and increasing whole grains in their cereals.  We are big cereal eaters - with our crazy schedules, it's the easiest way to make sure everyone gets breakfast.  My Blog Spark sent me vouchers for 4 free boxes of cereal to try it out, so I took my boys to the grocery store and let them pick it out.  Needless to say, they love it!
The first thing I did when I got home was to pull out our normal cereal to compare labels.  While I'm not a health nut, I do want my family to eat reasonably healthy food.  Compared to the dogfood-sized bags of cereal I normally buy, the sugar content of the General Mills cereal was about the same, but it all contained whole grain as the first ingredient, while our normal cereal listed grain flours as the first ingredient.
If you'd like to try out General Mills cereal for yourself, you can find a $1.00 coupon here.  For info on My Blog Spark, click here.

What are you trying to be - Supermom?

I've been asked that question twice this week!  I have laughed so much about it.  The first time was as I was checking out at Wal-Mart with my buggy full of groceries, talking to the cashier and the woman behind me in line - the second time was at work - both came about when I mentioned that I was going back to college after 10 years while juggling work and a family.  Both times I just laughed and said, "Something like that..."
 
Speaking of college - so far my first week is going great.  My teachers are good, especially my anatomy and physiology professor.  I also feel a lot better about getting into the dental hygiene program.  I've seen my competition - they are children, just out of high school.  I feel like I have an edge on getting in.  It's still going to be very hard, and I'm going to have to give 110%, but I think I can do this, and I think I'm going to like it...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chicken in a Pot

We had this dinner yesterday - I knew it would be a crazy day since it was my first day of college!

1 lb. bag baby carrots

1 onion, sliced

2 celery ribs, cut in 1-inch pieces

2 medium sized potatoes, peeled and diced

3 lbs. chicken breast

2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. dried coarse black pepper

1 tsp. dried basil

1/2 cup chicken broth or water



Place vegetables bottom of slow cooker.

Place chicken on top of vegetables.

Add seasonings and water.

Cover and cook on low 8 - 10 hours or on high 3 1/2 to 5 hours (use 1 c. liquid if cooking on high).

Monday, January 11, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - 1/11

Drawing a blank this week on what to cook…my whole focus is on college and planning for some major work and church events, and my brain just isn't wanting to wrap around menu planning!

Monday Lunch: sandwiches

Monday Dinner: chicken in a pot

Tuesday Lunch: still trying to figure this out...something quick and easy, probably whatever's on sale
Tuesday Dinner: baked ziti

Wednesday Lunch: chicken in a pot
Wednesday Dinner: Tex-Mex chicken club wraps

Thursday Lunch: baked ziti
Thursday Dinner: easy chorizo crepes

Friday Lunch: chicken packets
Friday Dinner: Mexican chicken casserole

Saturday Lunch: pierogies and kielbasa (one of my 4 year old's favorites!)
Saturday Dinner: crouton dressing

Sunday Lunch: Dinner @ church
Sunday Dinner: Mexican chicken casserole

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Getting to know me...

Just found this on another site...I'm in the mood for some silly fun, so here goes!

1. If you were stranded on a desert island and could pick one person to be stranded with you..Who would you pick? Family members not included.

The guy from Man vs. Wild...what's his name, Bear something-or-other?  Hate the show, but I am the only female in the house, so it's on our TV often!  This guy could find food and water anywhere - he's a ticket to survival!
2. Do you read celebrity gossip?
No - I have enough drama in my own life, I don't need to keep up with the drama is anyone else's!
3. Favorite show you're waching this season?
24 - starting next week - can't miss an episode, I LOVE this show!
4. How tall are you?
5'7"

5. What was the last book you read?
Green - by my favorite author Ted Dekker - I have so little time to read, I usually just stick to reading all his latest books

6. Flats or heels?
usually flats, but I love heels, especially with jeans

7. If you had to choose one natural disaser to go through, what would you choose..Earthquake, Tornado, or Hurricane?
Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt - Hurricanes Ike and Gustav

8. Thong, panties, or (gasp) granny panties?
Sorry, I think there are just some things my readers really don't want to know about me!  LOL

I hate feeling this way...

I'm stressed - majorly stressed. I hate feeling this way! When I get stressed, it really affects me physically - my muscles ache, I have trouble sleeping, I feel like I have the flu. It also makes me really sensitive - I take things too personally and wear my feelings on my sleeve and get way too emotional over minor things.  (Which I did this morning...but that's another story.)

The stress won't be easing up, either - it's all just things I'll have to learn to live with. Both boys start the new homeschooling semester tomorrow, and I start my first day of college. (Well, my first day in almost 10 years!) I'm terrified! I'm planning children's church lessons, working ahead since I know my time will be at a minimum from now on, as well as planning a fundraiser and a major church event next month. I'm selling candy bars for my youngest son's tee ball team, and I have some pretty major projects coming up at work.

I'm just stressed about life. I'll be glad when I settle into my routine, because I hate the way stress makes me feel.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

5 Question Friday - a day late

I saw the 5 Question Friday link on a blog I follow...so here's my first entry, one day late...

1. What's your "comfort food"?


I always say there are very few things in life that coffee and chocolate cannot make better. :)

2. Do you send Thank You's (handwritten or email)?

Sometimes...handwritten when I do.

3. If you had to be trapped in a TV show for a month, which show would you choose?

Castle  (24 is my favorite but I wouldn't want to be on it for a month! lol)

4. What is your favorite online recipe site?

Recipe Zaar

5. If you had to choose: "Friends" or "Seinfeld"?
 
Huge Seinfeld fan!

Yea, me - I fixed it!

I am so excited!  I got my blog fixed, found an awesome new background that I love, and I did it all by myself!  That may sound like much, to someone who is not exactly tech-savvy, it's a big accomplishment.  And truthfully, I didn't realize just how much I've been enjoying my blog until I thought I'd ruined it.  I was devasted all afternoon yesterday until I got it fixed!  I also have to point you to Leelou Layouts, where I found my new background - super easy to work with.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Big ooops...

Ok, I totally screwed up - I tried to change my blog layout to a 3 column, following the directions on a website, and let's just say that I'm technologically challenged...so I had to start over on my template.  :(  All my design work, gone, unless I can figure out to restore it.  So please bear with as I attempt to re-design my blog, which will hopefully be done by the end of the weekend.  The content is still the same, so enjoy reading, and pray that I can figure this out!

UPDATE:  Thank goodness I at least figured out how to get my posts showing up again!  Big sigh of relief.  I will still be re-working my blog design this weekend, but at least disaster has been averted. :)

5 Things I'm Addicted To

1. 24 (I'm counting the days until the new season starts!)
2. Facebook
3. Starbucks
4. Ted Dekker's books
5. blogging

Home Depot Kids Workshops

A family in our church first told us about the kids workshops that Home Depot offers.  I wasn't sure what to expect at the first one we attended, but we had a blast! 
Each child gets a Home Depot apron the first time they attend, and each time they complete a project, they get a pin to add to their apron.  The projects come in a kit with everything you need to build it, including full instructions.  You just head to one of the tables set up, where you'll find any tools you'll need, and get started.  My kids have made a calendar, wagon, trivet, planter box, bookends, and (my favorite) a fire station bank.  They are so proud of their projects!  Plus, if you get overrun with projects, they also make great gifts for grandparents!
At our local Home Depot, the workshops are held the first Saturday of every month, starting at 9:00 a.m.  You can find more information on the Home Depot website.





Thursday, January 7, 2010

Stepping out in faith

I'm offically a student now.  I have my parking permit, my student ID, and my books.  My backpack is loaded and ready.  I know which buildings my classes are in.  I'm ready - and I'm still terrified.  I'm taking a major step of faith in going back to school. 
I don't have the answers.  I don't know how I'm going to do this.  I don't know how I'm going to juggle everything.  I don't even know for sure how we're going to pay for everything.  My family is making some pretty big sacrifices for me to do this.  But I really, really feel like this is the right move - not just for me, but for my entire family, too. 
So I'm stepping out in faith, even though my legs are really shaky.  I'm jumping in, even I feel like I'm totally over my head.  I guess that's what faith really boils down to. 
Just a few more days to wait...Monday is my first day of college. 

Thankful Thursday - My husband's relationship with Christ

I went to my first ever weekend women's retreat a few months ago, and the guest musician shared the story of how she and her husband had traveled together for years, ministering through music.  Then, after a horrible accident left him handicapped, he turned his back on everything he believed and walked away from God.  Now his wife juggles work, ministry, and raising two kids to love God despite a dad who no longer does. 

I am so thankful that my husband is a Christian, that he shares the most important part of my life with me - our faith.  He loves God passionately and makes sure our kids see that God comes first.  Growing up in a home where my grandpa refused to set foot in a church for anything but a wedding or funeral makes me even more gratefuly for Robby's faith.  (By the way, my grandpa gave his life to Christ a few months after our oldest son was born and is a strong Christian today.)  I am so grateful for my wonderful husband and his strong, growing relationship with Christ!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fried Raviolli

This is a quick and easy family favorite!

  • vegetable oil or olive oil for frying
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 1 c. seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 1 package of frozen (thawed) cheese raviolli
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • marinara sauce or our favorite, ranch dressing, for dipping
Pour enough oil into a large skillet to cover the bottom well.  Warm over medium heat until hot enough for frying.
While oil is heating, wishk together eggs and milk in a shallow bowl.  Place bread crumbs in a seperate bowl.  Working in batches, dip raviolli into first the egg mix, then the bread crumbs.  Place in hot oil.
Fry raviolli in batches, turning occassionally, until golden brown - 3 to 4 minutes.
Place on a layer of paper towels to cool.
Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve with marinara or ranch for dipping.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - 1/4

Monday's Lunch:  fish fillets, Dinner: slow cooker beef stroganoff
Tuesday's Lunch:  leftovers (fish fillets), Dinner: spaghetti
Wednesday's Lunch: meatball subs, Dinner: leftovers (stroganoff)
Thursday's Lunch: leftovers (spaghetti), Dinner: cheesy chicken and rice bake
Friday's Lunch: meatball subs, Dinner: chicken and black bean enchiladas
Saturday's Lunch: fried raviolli, Dinner: leftovers (cheesy chicken and rice)
Sunday's Lunch: leftovers (chicken and black bean enchiladas) , Dinner: omlets

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Books That Changed My Life

I love to read, and I've read a lot of really good books over the years. There are a few, though, that stand out as books that really influenced me and changed my way of thinking - I can honestly say that these books changed my life.

1. A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George
This was one of the first books I read as a newlywed...a newlywed who was completely clueless about marriage, managing a home, and pretty much everything else about real life. It helped me so much! It's especially a great book for new Christians or newly weds.

2. The Power of a Praying Wife
3. The Power of a Praying Parent
4. The Power of a Praying Woman all by Stormie Omartian


These books absolutely revolutionized my prayer life! Each book suggests 30 areas of prayer, along with Scripture references and personal stories from the author. These are a must own!

5. Believing God by Beth Moore

The whole focus of this book is that as Christians, we believe in God, but how much do we really believe God and His promises? It really challenged my thinking - awesome book!

6. Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer

Most people don't know that I fought a very long and difficult battle with fear for years. There was a point in my life when fear had almost crippled me - I was afraid for my husband to even drive to the store. It took a long to overcome that fear, and I'm convinced that I would never have won that battle without this book. It helped me tremendously!

7. Taking Care of the Me in Mommy by Lisa Welchel

I picked this book up on the bargain shelf at a Christian bookstore, not realizing just how much of a bargain I was getting! This book is full of practical ideas for so many areas of life. I have used ideas from it for menu planning, grocery shopping, chore charts, Scripture memory and more. I find myself turning to it over and over again. Lisa's website is full of charts and examples mentioned in the book, including the best idea I've ever seen for a prayer journal. I tweaked her idea slightly and created my own prayer journal from it.

8. How to Study Your Bible  by Kay Arthur

Kay Arthur's Bible study plan is the best I've ever found for personal Bible study, and I've tried a lot of them! What I love the most about it is the fact that she encourages you to dig into God's Word for yourself and not just take someone else's word for it. I believe so many Christians would be so much stronger and so much more grounded in their faith if they would do that! Doing inductive study will make the Bible more real, more interesting, and more alive for you than ever before.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Book Review - Green, by Ted Dekker

Thomas Hunter, the hero of the Circle trilogy, is watching his world fall apart. His son Samuel is rebelling, the Circle is fracturing, and the followers of Elyon are surrounded by enemies on every side. Many in the Circle are beginning to doubt Elyon's promises and question his ways. Meanwhile, in his sister Kara's world, life is also unravelling thanks to Billy Rediger and his quest to find the truth about the events that occured in Paradise, Colorado and how it's tied to Thomas Hunter. A final battle between good and evil is brewing in both worlds, and Thomas must race to save them both.
I have to admit, when I first read the description of Green and the fact that it's both the end and the beginning of Ted Dekker's Circle novels, I wondered how he would pull that off. In a way that only Dekker can, this book truly can be a starting point or an ending. Personally, I would read it as the end of the books, because it also ties up a lot of loose ends and fully brings together both the Circle novels and the Paradise novels. This book is great! I have to admit, the switching back and forth of the settings can be a little confusing at first, but it's all tied together well at the end. The symbolism is unmistakable - I actually found myself reading the last few chapters with tears in my eyes. This book is a must read for any fans of Dekker's Circle and Paradise novels!

New Year, New Goals

Wow, 2010...where has time gone? This year my husband and I will celebrate our 10th anniversary...that is unreal! Life has been such an incredible journey these last 10 years.

I gave up doing New Year's resolutions years ago, but I am a list maker and a goal setter, so I changed things up. I set goals instead, things I want to accomplish sometime in the year ahead. I don't necessarily forge ahead and jump into all of them right away. This year, my goals are pretty focused and pretty short. As much as I have on my plate right now, I have to really make sure my priorities are in order. So here goes...

1. Spend daily time with God, focusing on Bible study, prayer, Bible memory and stillness before God, focusing on and listening to Him. This is far and away my most important goal for the year, and it's something I've let slide the past few months. I am well aware of my shortcomings - and there are a lot of them! The older I get, the more aware I become of how imperfect I am and how, without God, I can do nothing. Another reason this is so important to me is because I'm a mom. More than anything else in life, I want my boys to follow God wholeheartedly all their lives, and need and deserve good examples to follow. I cannot give what I don't have, so I have to make sure my kids see me putting time with God first.

2. Run. Pretty simple. I am still very much a newbie, but I love running, and I want to work my way up to running 5 miles a day, 3 to 4 days a week, by the end of 2010. Who knows...maybe I'll enter a 5K this year too, just to prove to myself I can do it...

3. Spend more time doing things with my family. I'm with my family a lot, but I want to really have fun with my family and have designated family time every week - playing board games and card games (which my boys love!), riding bikes together (I need to buy myself one...my hubby and kids all have one), reading, bowling, going to the library (something we used to do often but have let slide this past year) - just spending time enjoying each other's company.

4. Finish 5 college classes and apply to dental hygiene school. This will be a major obsession focus this year, since the program is highly competetive and if I don't get in, I'll have have spend all of 2010 taking prerequsite classes for nothing.

5. Have a weekly date night with my husband. I don't even remember the last time we went out alone, kid free. I know once a month isn't really enough, but with me returning to college, time and money will both be tight. At least this will give us a good start.

6. Put more time and focus into Kids BLAST, our children's ministry, which I head up. I love working in children's ministry! It is my passion and my calling. My goal for the kids in our church is to instill in them a love for Jesus that will last a lifetime. I want to make the Bible come alive for them, and I want them to know that each and every one of them is precious to God. I think kids need to hear a lot more often that they are precious treasures and that there is Someone who loves them unconditionally. I will be handing over other responsibilites, such as Vacation Bible School, so I can really pour myself into building our children's ministry into the best ministry it can be.

So there it is...my outline, my priorities for 2010. Short and sweet.
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