Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Black Friday Madness

1.  So, did you get sucked into the excitement and drama of Black Friday? If so, what deals did you snag?? And for our international gal, has our shopping madness spread to your area?

2.  Four day weekends are nice but the transition back to work can be challenging! How are you doing with the transition?

My name is Amanda, and I am addicted to Black Friday shopping.  Ever since my husband and I went on our first day-after-Thanksgiving bargain hunt nine years ago, I've been hooked.  We've landed some amazing deals over the years, and we could never pull of the kind of Christmas we have at our house without those bargains. 

This year was much more challenging in some ways, because stores were opening all night long instead of just early Friday morning.  I left my house at 8:00 p.m. Thursday and didn't get home until 7:00 a.m. the next day.  Yes, it was my first ever all-night shopping trip!  I slept for a couple of hours before I left home, and (I'm not kidding) I slept in our truck for about an hour and a half while I waited for JC Penney's to open.

As always, we got some great deals on gifts for our kids, like two video game rockers, normally $65-70, for $32 each, and tons of DVD's, video games and toys.  This year I also scored some awesome deals for our home, like a soft, fuzzy king-size blanket for $24 (which came in handy while I was napping outside Penney's); a set of 600-thread-count sheets for $20 (we won't go into the fact that I was almost trampled for those sheets at Walmart...) and two Scentsy-style wax warmers for $9 each. 

Finally, I got a few things for myself - a cashmere blend pea coat (originally $200) for $50; a pair of boots for $30; five seasons of our all-time favorite TV show, 24, for $10 each (a joint gift for my hubby and me); and (you may do a double take on this one) ammo for my gun for 1/2 price.  (Yes, I have a gun...not a rifle, but a pistol...going to the gun range is one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon.  My husband and I both shoot, and we'll take his .22 rifle and let the kids shoot, too.  It's a fun family hobby for us!)

I'm sure I like having stores opening on Thanksgiving night, but I love the deals on Black Friday, and it would take a lot to keep me away from it.  It's become a challenge to us to find the best bargains. My hubby and I team shop (although he just hit the first couple of stores with me this year) and plan it like a military operation.  I love it!

Monday, November 28, 2011

When the Cape Comes Off

Some women seem to have it all together.  On the outside, they seem flawless - their house sparkles, they have a successful career, they perfectly balance work and family, they spend time daily with God and they lead a small group at church.  They look like Superwoman.  But sooner or later, the cape has to come off.

The truth is, every woman, every day - no matter how long she's followed Jesus or how much she seems to have it all together - fights battles.  For some, it's depression.  For others, it's habitual sins they struggle to overcome.  For others, it's addiction, haunting memories of abuse, loneliness, feeling overwhelmed, a negative attitude, or any number of other battles.

There are who people who think that, because I'm a pastor's wife, I'm automatically a super-Christian.  They think that I have it all together, that I have all the answers, and that I don't fight the same battles everyone else fights.  WRONG!  There's no cape.  There's no "S" on my chest.  I'm a messed up, sinful person, saved only by the grace of a God much bigger than my faults.

None of us have arrived.  None of us are good enough.  I love Paul's words in Philippians 3:13-14 (NASB): "Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."  If anyone had a right to claim the status of super-Christian, it was Paul.  But he didn't wear a cape either - he was as flawed as we are.

We all know we're weak and flawed, but here's the scary part: we need to let people see our weakness.  The world is crying out for real, authentic people with real faith.  Think about it: if someone is struggling in their faith, do they need to see someone whose like they think they can never live up to, or a real Christian?  It's okay to take off the cape and stop pretending.  We need to admit that we can't do it all.  When you take that first step, you'll be amazed at how many others do the same.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cilantro Lime Pot Roast

A friend of mine shared this yummy new slow cooker pot roast recipe with me recently and I wanted to share it with can find it here: Cilantro Lime Pot Roast.  I hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Just What I Needed

The past few days have been amazing.  Today the fun and relaxation ends, and its back to reality, but this short break has been just what I needed to give me the 'second wind' I need for finals week.

I had both school and work Monday and Tuesday, but from Wednesday on, I had neither.  Tuesday my youngest was at the doctor's office - they thought he was in the beginning stages of strep. So we took it easy this week, staying home almost the entire time.  He's feeling like his old self again now, thankfully.

Wednesday I stayed home and cleaned house while Robby visited church members in the hospital.  When he got back, the boys stayed with him while I bought groceries and picked up our smoked turkey.  I spent the rest of the day cleaning, cooking and prepping for Thanksgiving, and watching movies.  (Unknown was awesome!  The kids saw Rio and Spy Kids 4.)

Thursday we ate, slept, and watched movies.  (Soul Surfer this time.)  At 8:00 p.m. we left home for the madness of Black Friday. Robby and the boys got home at 1:00 a.m. and went to bed.  I slept for an hour and a half in the truck outside of JC Penney, waiting for them to open, and got home at 7:00 a.m.  It was wild!  A few highlights: from Penney's - a cashmere-blend pea coat (originally $200 - I paid $50) and boots (originally $100 - I paid $30); from Walmart - tons of toys, DVD's and video games, including 4 seasons of my all-time favorite TV show, 24, for $10 each, and Scentsy-style wax warmers for $9; and from Target, video game chairs for the boys for $32 each.

We got almost all of our shopping done for the boys, and got lots of stuff for our house too.  We spend a lot of money on Black Friday, but we plan for it every year because it saves us so much money.  Its really fun, too - I guess its the ultimate shopping trip for a bargain hunter like me.

Yesterday we slept (a lot) and watched another movie (RED).  I also finished a book I was reading (The Brotherhood by Jerry Jenkins).  Today its back to reality - buy groceries, clean, do laundry, work on school assignments, study.  I'm ready to wrap up this semester and get to Christmas break!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Time to Get Creative

I used to be a pretty "artsy" person.  I did a lot of drawing in high school and took several art classes.  My time and interest for art fizzled when I hit college, and I never really picked it back up.  When my oldest son was born, I decided to give scrapbooking a try.  I loved it, and kept it up while we lived in several large parsonages.  I could have a room set aside just for scrapbooking, where I could leave all my supplies and works in progress out, and just close the door when I was done.  Once we bought our own (small) house in 2007, it became too much of a hassle to pull all my supplies out, work on a project, then have to pack it all back up until next time.

For the past several years, I haven't done anything artsy - I've gone to the occasional scrapbooking or cardmaking party, but that's been the extent of it.  I've really missed it, but I just haven't had the time or found my niche in the crafting worldy.  Lately, though, I've been craving craftiness.  (Maybe it's because I've discovered Pinterest...doesn't it make everyone feel crafty?  Don't you love it?)

For several years now, I've wanted to learn to knit.  I dabbled with it once, but never really got past a basic knit stitch.  This past week, I finally did it - I bought myself some knitting needles and yarn, and I printed off a free ebook from Lion Brand Yarns.  So far, I've just learned to cast on, knit, and purl, but it's a start, and I'm loving it!  It's so soothing and relaxing.  Once I get some more basics down, I plan to start with a scarf, then move on a tote bag, and finally to a beautiful throw, like the one below.  (The colors shown here are a perfect match for our master bedroom.)

I've also dabbled with the idea of digital scrapbooking for quite a while now, and I think that my upcoming Christmas break may be the perfect time to dive in.  We have's just a matter of me learning how to use Photoshop.  It may be a long process.  I really miss scrapbooking, but when time (and money) for buying supplies are limited, digital seems like the perfect solution.

I'm excited about both ideas of mine.  (I'm not sure how enthused my hubby will be, but thankfully they're both cheap hobbies!)  I hope to start sharing photos of completed craft projects with you soon!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ready to Hide His Word?

Today I'm starting a new challenge with Katie Orr at Do Not Depart...

Scripture memory was, for a long time, been something I knew I should do, but somehow never got around to.  Earlier this year, I took the plunge and decided to start it after reading a great post on A Holy Experience, one of my favorite blogs. 

Memorizing God's Word is life changing.  When you're memorizing scripture, you're truly meditating on it, feeding your soul with it day after day.  I don't know why it took me so long to grasp the importance of it, but now it's a vital part of my quiet time.  I hope you'll join us - you won't regret it!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Top Ten Things I Want to Do on Christmas Break

Top Ten {Tuesday}

This semester of college is the hardest I have ever done...I'm counting the days until my Christmas break.  Here's what I'm most looking forward to doing...
  1. Get lost in my favorite author's new book (Forbidden by Christian suspense author Ted Dekker) plus several others that are downloaded to my Kindle app
  2. Take my boys to the library
  3. Lapse into a coma Sleep in
  4. Clean house (Well, I'm not exactly looking forward to the cleaning, but it's got to be done)
  5. Learn to knit (or at least start learning)
  6. Spend long quiet times catching up on my Bible studies
  7. Snuggle up and watch movies with my family
  8. Blog more
  9. Try some new recipes
  10. Get back into my running routine
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