Monday, December 31, 2007

Menu Plan Monday...And More!!!

Well, 2007 is almost gone. Are you ready for a new year? A chance to start over? A chance to...oh, who are we kidding?? Tomorrow will be like today; there's nothing magical about a day on a calendar page turning. The real magic comes from your (or mine) determination to change our lives. I'll be sharing some of my goals for the upcoming year in a few days.

But for now, the topic is food. Since Hubby is leaving at the end of the week and won't get a good home-cooked meal for several months (well, he is going from here to spend a week with his family in the Middle East before showing up for his new job, so I'm sure his mom will cook for him. But it's not the same. Ahem.) I have planned my menu for the week around his favorites. Here's the plan:

Monday - Pot Roast in the slow cooker with veggies (easiest recipe ever: chop an onion and mix with a can of cream of chicken soup and a packet of dry onion soup mix, pour over roast and cook all day - voila!)
Tuesday - Bezella
Wednesday - Baja Beef and Beans with Tex Mex Rice
Thursday - Sub sandwiches (we'll be leaving for the airport right around dinner, so we need something quick, but truly this is one of his favorites!)
Friday - the kids and I are going to the circus so we'll probably just pick something up on the way

For more great menu-planning ideas, be sure to visit the host of Menu Plan Monday, The Organizing Junkie!

Moving on to other topics, our small group threw us a going away party last night. We had a blast! Everyone had a great time discussing the implications of our move - the fact that husbands and wives can't kiss in public there, but it's ok for men to kiss each other; whether or not I would end up wearing a headcovering (NOT!); discussions of how to smuggle alcohol into us, etc. We received some very sweet and kind gifts - guidebooks to both the area and to Islam; a map of the Middle East; some red, white and blue striped Christmas ornaments to remember that we are, indeed, 'Mericans, as one woman put it; and a beautiful Willow Tree figurine of an angel holding a shell to remind us of Miami. There were gifts for the kids too and I'm so glad that we have this group of people supporting us.

And now, I'm off to get dressed and hit the grocery store. Hope you have a wonderful day and enjoy your New Year's Eve!!
Saturday, December 29, 2007

Cute Homeschooling Video!

This super cute video was sent to me by my sister-in-law (who actually does need a van this big!!). The kids and I have been singing lines from the song for a couple of weeks now.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Favorite Ingredient Friday - Side Dish!!

Today I bring you a side dish some of you have probably tried and some of you may have been too scared to try - tabbouleh. Tabbouleh is a traditional Arabic salad made with cracked wheat (burgul), parsley and tomatoes. I put a lot more into mine just to make it more fancy, but we'll get to that. In the Middle East you'll find tabbouleh that is almost all parsley and just a scant amount of burgul - not here. Mine is usually about 3/4 burgul and 1/4 parsley. Just a personal preference, I suppose.

This dish is just a health bonanza! Tons of fiber in the burgul, lots of veggies and heart-healthy olive oil. It make take a few bites to get into it, but once you give it a shot I bet you'll love it!!

And when I say "finely chopped" I mean REALLY finely chopped. Ok?
  • 1 cup burgul (can usually be found in the same aisle as flour and corn meal)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped mint (if you can't get fresh, you can use dried but fresh is better)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup small diced cucumber
  • 2 scallions, sliced fine (include greens)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Soak the burgul in warm water for about 30 minutes. Probably 2-3 cups worth. Alot of it will be absorbed, but drain off whatever is left after the 30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and mix it well. If you would like it a little more moist, you can add either more lemon juice or more olive oil, to taste. Refrigerate for about an hour to allow flavors to develop. Yum!!!

For more great side dish ideas, be sure to visit Overwhelmed With Joy!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thankful Thursday

First of all, a big thanks to Lynn at Spiritually Unequal Marriage for keeping Thankful Thursday going on behalf of Iris. You've done a great job, Lynn!!

So here we find ourselves at the end of yet another year. It's hard for me to believe that another year has come and gone. In a few months, I'll be turning 40. 40!!! Umm, I believe that it was only yesterday I was in high school. Where does the time go?

But 2007 was a wonderful year for us. I have so much to be thankful for. Here are some of the highlights:

  • I can't say enough how thankful I am for all the wonderful blogs out there. I have learned so much from you wonderful women who open your heart and your lives to the world and allow us to glean from your wisdom. I am always amazed at how much I have to learn. And it's not always from the older women! Some of you 20-somethings have got your game on, let me tell you!! Thank you to all who encourage women to be godly wives and mothers in this world.
  • Conversely, I'm so grateful that God led me to begin my own blog. It has been a true godsend to me. I have a place to sort through my feelings, to have a little fun and creativity (limited though that may be - LOL!!), and to share my thoughts with the world.
  • I'm thankful for those of you who take the time to comment and engage with me in my journey. Thank you for your encouragement and advice and support. This wouldn't be any fun without you!

Now on to non-blogging stuff:

  • I'm thankful that God has made his way clear to us. Our upcoming move to Doha, Qatar is just so clearly of God to us - we have no doubts or second thoughts. For years Hubby has mentioned off-handedly moving to the Middle East and I flat-out rejected the idea every time. But God has put such peace in my heart and I can honestly say that I am totally excited about this new adventure in our lives.
  • I'm thankful our church is on the road to healing. After some very rough years in which one blow after another struck our church, we are finally settling down. Our new pastor is wonderful (though I loved our previous pastor), the Word is being preached with power, our attendance is rebuilding, people are feeling calm and loving instead of angry and fractious. At one point, I was truly concerned that the church might never recover, but God, in His mercy and wisdom, wasn't done with us yet!
  • I'm thankful for our wonderful visit with my family earlier this month. We had a great time with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
  • I'm thankful for our homeschool support group. It is a wonderful group of godly families who are like-minded and who have been such a help and support to me over the past two years.
  • I'm thankful for all the blessings we have here in America. As we prepare to move to another, very different, culture, I never forget what we are leaving. Having lived overseas before, I know that it won't always be easy. In fact, it will probably prove to be very frustrating much of the time. There won't be all the "stuff" I'm used to. The etiquette there is very different than here and I will get offended. The freedom we have here in America just won't be there. And yet...
  • I'm so very grateful for the opportunity we have to allow our children to experience another part of the world. To give them a different perspective. To show them places that most people only dream about going (have I mentioned our plan to allow each person to pick one "dream vacation" during our time there? So far we have requests in for Italy and for Greece). To give them the opportunity to learn a new language.
  • I'm thankful, most of all, for my wonderful Savior, for God my Father, and for the Holy Spirit. Without their VERY REAL presence and work in my life, it would all be meaningless.

And so there we have it. There is much more to be thankful for, but these are the biggies that jump to mind.

And what about you? What are you thankful for? Don't miss this opportunity as we prepare to enter a new year to reflect back on what God has done for you this year.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas, Dear Ones!!

Merry Christmas
More Graphics at

Monday, December 24, 2007

101 in 1001 - Updated!

Update: I've got 47 out of the 101 finished, so I'm close to half way done with still 14 months to go. Several of the things will get checked off the list while we are in the process of moving. Unfortunately, the moving will also make some of the items either difficult or impossible to do, so I'm going to need to replace some of the original goals. Those items are in red, with the replacement goal next to it in black as I think of them.

Some of you have already heard of my attempt to complete 101 things in 1001 days. Feel free to skip this post!

For those of you who think I'm speaking in some kind of binary language, let me explain. I came across this idea at Enjoy the Journey and thought it was wonderful. The idea is to come up with a list of things you'd like to accomplish, but with a reasonable time frame. 1001 days comes up to about 2.75 years. That way, you still have a deadline approaching, but should you miss doing something (say going to a sunrise service on Easter morning), you still have the chance to do it the next year.

So here is my amended list. I made some changes once I thought about it and realized that some things didn't really matter that much to me. And since it's my list, I can do that! Things that are completed will be bolded with the date next to it. Some things may just have a note about the progress.

The List
Begun 7/12/06 - Deadline 4/8/09

Updated: 1/30/08

  1. Read through the Bible start to finish (currently in i Kings)
  2. Go a week with no tv (8/8/06)
  3. Memorize a verse a week
  4. Do a 24 hour fast
  5. Start journaling again (June 2007)
  6. Watch a sunrise on the beach by myself
  7. Do Advent readings and an Advent wreath
  8. Go an entire week without saying anything negative about anyone
  9. Go away for a weekend alone with my husband
  10. Take a dance class with my hubby
  11. Keep the desk clean and neat for my husband
  12. Pray for my husband daily
  13. Do not complain about my hubby to anyone (December 2007 - I think I've got a handle on this one)
  14. Throw my husband a surprise birthday party (he's never had a birthday party in his entire life!)
  15. Iron a week ahead of time for at least one month (December 2007)
  16. Read and complete all assignments in Fascinating Womanhood
  17. Play pool with hubby ( 7-12-07 - He beat me!!!)
  18. Personal thing between my hubby and myself. No snickering, please!
  19. Take the family to visit a historical site
  20. Take the kids to the Dead Sea
  21. Do a Bible study with my daughter (ok, not a Bible study per se, but we are working our way through Beautiful Girlhood)
  22. Get in the routine of having a fancy Sabbath dinner each week
  23. Take my kids somewhere fun just for the heck of it (8/5/06)
  24. Have a family picnic (7/15/06)
  25. Teach my daughter to cook 14 meals well (she's learned 5 so far)
  26. Cull the bookshelves to make more free space (12/4/06)
  27. Paint the kids' bathrom a pretty color (10/9/06)
  28. Keep the van clean for one month (8/15/06)
  29. Organize the linen closets (12/5/06) and yet it needs done again!
  30. Take a one week Internet vacation
  31. Go through the house ruthlessly and get rid of excess stuff (12/1/06 and ongoing)
  32. Rip all my cd's (03/05/07)
  33. Do all the filing that has been piling up (9/29/06)
  34. Make a household inventory for insurance purposes (1/30/08)
  35. Sort jewelry box and get rid of items I'll never wear (7/26/06)
  36. Find a workable system for organizing the home (December 2007 - Finally, a place for everything and everything in its place!!!)
  37. Use the crockpot once a week (no date as this is a process)
  38. Save $1000 for my personal discretionary emergency fund
  39. Have enough in the pantry that I could skip grocery shopping for two weeks
  40. Pay off all debt except for the house
  41. Have a mega garage sale to get rid of stuff (12/06/06)
  42. Figure out the Prepaid college fund account and get up to date (7/24/06)
  43. Get driver's license corrected (5/20/07)
  44. Use up all the lotions, cosmetics, etc. before buying more (December 2007)
  45. Get highlights (March 2008)
  46. Grow a vegetable garden (August 2007)
  47. Learn Arabic through Rosetta Stone
  48. Take a seminary class I find interesting (Won't be able to do this now due to move)
  49. Take a homemaking class (07/07))
  50. Start a blog (6/11/07)
  51. Learn to make kanaffe, an Arabic dessert (1/1/07)
  52. Learn to make movies on the computer (10/11/07 - Thanks, Emily!!)
  53. Read a classic book every couple of months (have read 6 so far)
  54. Learn a new recipe each month
  55. Take advantage of the free museum nights here in town
  56. Learn how to make P.F. Chang's Lettuce Wraps (6/14/07 - They were yummy!)
  57. Make bread from scratch (September 24, 2007 - Yum!)
  58. Make pizza from scratch (May 2008)
  59. See a Broadway show
  60. Get a Wii (great for those hot days in Qatari summers - at least we'll be up and about rather than lying on the couch) (March 2008)
  61. Go to a concert (September 11, 2007)
  62. Host a fancy dinner party (August 17, 2007)
  63. Get all the fish in Animal Crossing (7/13/06 - see how lame I am?)
  64. Go to a U-pic for strawberries and tomatoes (1/17/08 - oh my gosh - Delish!!)
  65. See Shakespeare in the park (7/15/06)
  66. Take kids to a drive-in movie
  67. Fall asleep on a blanket in the backyard
  68. Visit the Burj Al-Arab
  69. Go for a walk in the rain (March 2008)
  70. Donate blood twice a year
  71. Watch a meteor shower (August 28, 2007)
  72. Get my weight down to 140
  73. Drink only water for one week (October 9, 2007)
  74. Walk 30 minutes a day
  75. Get my eating under control
  76. Find a form of exercise I really enjoy (6/12/07 - swimming!!)
  77. See a dermatologist about rosacea (9/28/06)
  78. Take vitamins daily
  79. Floss every day for at least a month
  80. Try a fruit I've never tried before (12/22/06 - papaya and carambola)
  81. Go to bed by 10 pm for a month
  82. Don't eat after 8 pm for a month
  83. Feel better at 40 than I did at 30
  84. Find a doctor I like
  85. Try edamame (1/13/07)
  86. Spend a day at the spa (pedicure, manicure, massage and facial)
  87. Buy some nice new pj's - not to fancy or to sloppy looking (9/30/06)
  88. Get a good tan (please no lectures!)
  89. Start wearing shoes in the house
  90. Get braces
  91. Get teeth professionally whitened
  92. Go shopping at Ann Taylor
  93. Do a full skin-care routine for a month
  94. Find a good red lipstick
  95. Be able to tuck in my shirt and like the way I look
  96. Grow my hair long (10/1/06)
  97. Find a great brown leather purse (7/21/06)
  98. Move out of South Florida (March 26, 2008!!!)
  99. Send out Christmas cards in early December
  100. Stop interrupting people (much improvement here, but not completely under control)
  101. Make a new 101 list when this one is completed

Menu Plan Monday - Christmas Eve Edition!!


I'm so thrilled that Christmas is finally here and that our family is able to be together for this special time. Since it's just the four of us this year (for the first time in forever!) and it will probably be just us for a while due to our move, I started thinking about what kind of traditions I'd like our family to have of our own.

For Christmas eve, we always go to the candlelight service at church. This year, Daniel will be playing a shepherd in the nativity pageant, so we are especially looking forward to it. The candlelight service is one of the most special times of the year to me. It is just so significant how one light, representing the light of Christ, soon spreads and brings light and joy to the entire congregation. Let this be a reminder to all of us to be bearers of Christ's light to the world.

Another tradition I've been establishing is that I always give my kids a new game on Christmas Eve. Then, after dinner, we can play together before bed. This year, the game I've chosen is Apples to Apples. We played this with our small group a few months ago and had such a great time! I really think my kids will be thrilled to get it.

Here's our menu for the week. Since we are counting down the days until Hubby leaves, there are a couple of no-cooking days that we'll probably go out - WHOO-HOO!!

Fondue with beef, shrimp and chicken, served with a selection of dipping sauces
Chocolate fondue with marshmallows, apple, pineapple, pound cake

Cinnamon and Orange Rolls for breakfast
Roast turkey breast, Sausage, Apple and Cranberry Stuffing, caramelized onion mashed potatoes, corn, broccoli salad, devilled eggs, dinner rolls, birthday cake for Jesus as dessert

Grilled chicken, dirty rice and chopped salad
Sausage and Shrimp Gumbo served over rice

Friday – I think we’ll go out to celebrate Hubby’s last day of work

Saturday – Hubby and I have a date to go out one last time before he leaves; I’d like to go to Gloria Estafan’s restaurant, Bongo’s.

– Some friends are hosting a goodbye party for Hubby (well, for all of us, even though it’s just Hubby leaving at this point)

Next week I'll be preparing all of Hubby's favorites so be sure to check back for those.

As always, thanks to Laura at the Organizing Junkie for hosting Menu Plan Monday!!
Friday, December 21, 2007

There's No Place Like Home

Well, having clicked my heels and headed home to Hubby, I have to say that there truly is no place like home. While we had a great time visiting our family in Arizona, I think we are all glad to be back in our natural habitat.

You know. The ones with mountains of laundry to conquer. Or am I the only one who spends days doing laundry after a vacation?

I have to give Hubby his props though. He's a better housekeeper than me. This house was spotless when we got home. Things I had given up on getting brand-new looking looked brand new again. That's what happens when a perfectionist takes on a job. Whoo-hoo for Hubby's mental issues!!

Of course, it's much easier to keep a house clean when there's only one of you and you are gone 10-12 hours a day, I suppose. Unfortunately he was greeted with the normal chaos of family life when he got home yesterday: piles of laundry to be washed, piles of laundry to be folded and/or put away, dishes in the kitchen, wet towels on the floor of the kids' bathroom, crumbs on the table, make up and other "womanly" things on the bathroom counter. It was probably enough to drive him crazy.

But I bet he loved it!
Thursday, December 13, 2007

Random Christmas Hoopla!!

Ok, this is specifically not a meme. It's a HOOPLA. Got it?

Now that we have that settled, Tammi has tagged me for this fun idea wherein I have to share 12 random things about myself that are Christmas related. Here are the rules:

1. List 12 random things about yourself that have to do with Christmas
2. Please refer to it as a 'hoopla' and not the dreaded 'm'-word
3. You have to specifically tag people when you're done. None of this "if you're reading this, consider yourself tagged" stuff is allowed...then nobody ends up actually doing it. The number of people who you tag is really up to you -- but the more, the merrier to get this 'hoopla' circulating through the blogosphere.
4. Please try and do it as quickly as possible. The Christmas season will be over before we know it and I'd like to get as many people involved as possible.

Ok, here goes!!
  1. I'm one of those horrible people who don't send Christmas cards. About three years ago, I decided to stop beating myself up about it. Every year I plan to, then keep putting it off and eventually have to accept that it's just not going to happen. :::sigh:::
  2. I LOVE Christmas music!! Especially classic stuff. Each year I allow myself to buy one new Christmas cd. This year, it was the Chipmunk's Christmas album. Last year, I picked up a great one - Christmas with the Rat Pack. I love it!! Another favorite one is Dixieland Christmas, an instrumental cd by that makes me feel like I'm walking down the street in New Orleans.
  3. Best Christmas? I'd probably have to say the ones when I was a kid and we'd drive to Grandma's house. All the cousins would be there and we'd go sledding and play with all of our new toys together. It was just like magic.
  4. Worst Christmas? Sadly, probably last year. My in-laws were visiting and we decided to go to DisneyWorld for a few days right before Christmas. It was crowded and it rained almost the whole time we were there. Plus my in-laws are elderly and just weren't that into it, so my kids were disappointed with the trip as we took it pretty slow and didn't see much. Then we decided to spend an extra day (????) and returned home about 6 pm on Christmas eve. We were so tired and cranky we didn't even go to the Christmas eve service at church. I was upset about that and it just basically stunk all around.
  5. When I was a teenager, I was THE WORST about snooping into Christmas presents! What I would do is carefully unwrap one side of the present, slide it out to peek at it, and the slide it back into the wrapping, carefully re-taping that one side. Well, one year, the gift was a gold bracelet. I decided to take the bracelet out and re-wrap just the box. That way I could wear it up to Christmas even, when I would have to put it back in the box. That was the plan. Unfortunately, one night when I was skating, I started having severe abdominal pains. I slipped the bracelet off on my way home and put it in my purse. Mom ended up taking me to the ER, where I foolishly (probably because the doctor was cute) asked her to retrieve my hairbrush from my purse...where she promptly found the bracelet!! BUSTED!!!!
  6. I love kiddie Christmas programs. My favorite is "The Year Without a Santa Claus." I totally love the two brothers, Mr. Hot and Mr. Cold, that battle it out. They kind of creeped me out when I was a kid, but in a fascinating way, ya know?
  7. This year, there is really nothing that I want for Christmas. I feel so satisfied with our recent decluttering efforts that I hate to start bringing things back into the house.
  8. My favorite Christmas song is "O Holy Night." And in that song, my favorite line is, "Long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appeared and the soul felt its worth."
  9. I hate eggnog.
  10. But I love hot chocolate. My perfect Christmas moment would include a dark house, lit only by the Christmas tree lights, Christmas music playing softly in the background, two mugs of hot chocolate and snuggling up with Hubby.
  11. It's just not Christmas unless I watch "It's a Wonderful Life."
  12. Every year on Christmas night, Hubby and I take our children driving around looking at Christmas lights. There's one house in our area that is always on our list.

So that's it for me. I'm tagging Mylinda, Amy, Leeann, Ice Cream Diary, Stacey, and Tracy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Climbing out of my pit

Y'all, I just have to say how much I love Beth Moore. I want to be her next-door neighbor and go over and have coffee with her every morning. Well, maybe hot chocolate or something since I don't drink coffee, but whatever it would take to get my foot in her door.

I am reading her book, Get Out of That Pit!, and I am being so blessed by it. It's truly amazing. My personal pit is the shame of overeating and the resulting obesity that comes with that. It's a sin that you really don't get to hide. Most other things you can put on a happy face and pretend like everything is ok, but when you are as big as me, everyone knows the minute you walk into a room what your biggest struggle is.

Beth talked in the book about the three ways we find ourselves in pits - we get pushed in, we let ourselves slip in, or we jump in feet first. I definitely allowed myself to slip into this sinful behavior. That's the worst thing - to know that your own carelessness and ignorance got you into the pit in the first place. There's no one else to blame, no one else to accuse.

And boy, does Satan use that against me. I feel like such a failure. That makes me feel worse, which makes me feel hopeless, which makes me not even want to try.

But Beth pointed out to me that NO ONE who is in Christ is ever hopeless, no matter how much Satan tries to convince us otherwise. Christ did not redeem us only to allow us to live in the pits of our own misery and in our own chains! He offers freedom!!

I'm not even half-way through the book, but I just had to share how liberating that was for me to read. I felt, for the first time in a long time, that there is hope for me to get out of this mess I'm in. That I don't have to spend my life hating myself for my weaknesses.

If you have something you have been struggling with - an eating disorder, bitterness, sin issues, etc., please first know that God CAN set you free. Then pick up a copy of Beth's book and we can learn how to climb out of our pits together.

"I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him."
Psalm 40: 1-3
Sunday, December 9, 2007

Thinking too much about stuff

So last night as I was driving back to my folks' house from the grocery store, I started thinking.

Which is never a good thing.

I was thinking that we are coming back into town on the 19th and that my husband will be leaving on the 3rd of January.

That's just two short weeks together before we are separated for two to three months.

And I started bawling in the car. I mean, I have never been home without my husband for more than a day or two. I've gone off and visited my parents. I've gone off and visited his parents. I've gone to ladies' retreats. But he has never gone away for more than two nights and those were camping with the kids.

And I did not like those nights. As I would go about my business at night, the wall of French doors all along the back of my house made me feel like I was open to the world. Who knew what could be lurking out there? I would get into bed, feeling nervous and vulnerable. Hubby just makes me feel safe.

And now it will be for nights on end. I am so thankful that I have an all-powerful God who I know will take care of me and my children. I'm thankful that I have good friends who will be there to help with our needs.

And while I'm sure (as many of my friends say) that there might be some enjoyment in the fact that I won't have to iron or cook or do any of the myriad of tasks that come with having a husband, it won't make up for the loneliness. The minute he gets home from work is usually the best minute of the day. I greet him at the door and he wraps me in his arms and I feel so...satisfied.

It's going to be a long, long separation.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Cool? Oh, baby, you betcha!

So, I'm in my hometown. The place I grew up. Memories run deep here. Everywhere we go, I tell my kids (only to see two sets of rolling eyes), "That's where we used to stop for ice cream on the way home from school." Or, "This is where I used to hang out with my friend, Nancy." Little snippets of my life.

But there is one place that defined my life here in Tucson more than any other. The skating rink.

Yes, a true child of the 80's, I spent much of my teenager-hood at the skate rink. Every Monday, Friday and Saturday for several years in a row. This is where I met my first "love." Where I first had my heart broken. The drama?...well, let's just say that a soap opera had nothin' on Skate Country.

And I returned triumphantly Sunday night. Now, I had along my mother, my two children and my two oldest nieces. So I wasn't exactly Ms. Thang, strutting in with my tight jeans (well, ok, they were tight, but not for the reason you want them to be), my cut-off t-shirt, and my eyes looking out for a cute guy.

No, my eyes were looking out for 5 little heads. Yes, 5. My mother was the biggest worry at all because she decided to skate. She thinks she can do stuff. But she can't. She's always falling off a pogo stick or a trampoline or a ATV. She can't be trusted. But she wanted to skate. Of course, she feel before she hit the 3rd corner or the rink. :::sigh::: This was not doing much for my image.

But there it was. The counter where I stood and flirted with boys. The snack bar that was the hub of all group activity. The benches that were the hub of all, ahem, couple activity. The floor where I skated away all my teenage angst. It was like coming home.

It had been over 20 years since I skated on that floor. 20 years since I glided around the rink, thinking about all that had gone on there. Oh, I've skated other places. But there's no place like the first place.

Sadly, most of my memories from Skate Country are of boys and my various relationships with them and of girls and how they impact my relationships with the boys. Lots of my thoughts Sunday night were of how wasted that time was.

But then they played some of my 80's music. And I was magically transported back to my youth. I felt free and young again. Cool, as I made the turns with crossovers, rather than just stumbling through and as I swerved in and out through the people around me. YES, I AM STILL MS. THANG!

And then one of my kids, nieces, or mom banged into me and asked me for money.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
Oh, and on a side note, Daniel was in my mom's room yesterday, looking at a picture of my dad from his service days. He asked who it was and my mom told him it was Papa. When Daniel didn't believe her, she reminded him that Papa was only 20 years old in that picture. Daniel was quiet for a moment and then said, "Well, a lot can sure happen in 40 years!" LOL!!!!! Yep, bud, it sure can!
Friday, November 30, 2007

30 Day Organization Challenge Finale!!!

Well, it's been 30 days since I revealed my shame to the world.

It was pretty embarrassing, I tell you.

But they say you can't really deal with your problems until you admit them. Hello. My name is Lori and I'm a secret slob.

I'm here today to report on how it went. I didn't accomplish all my goals. Preparing to put our house on the market and move to the Middle East kind of has a way of throwing a kink into all the plans. I just had to set priorities. So, the painting didn't get done, nor did the closet door get fixed (Home Depot was missing the piece when I went). And, in the end, I decided to move the computer out completely to give it more of a "bedroom" feel, rather than a "let's throw this computer in here" feel.

So now, on to the pictures. Drum roll, please!

The view from the door looking in.

The view of the full-length of the bed.
The view of the bookshelves (sort of). You can't really tell, but there were 3 completely packed full bookshelves here. Now we have reduced it down to 1. It's a little over-packed, but c'mon, that's a huge reduction! I have a gigantic box of books to list on eBay and another to donate to Goodwill.

The view of the bed from the other side of the room. All the toy boxes have been removed!!! Yippee!!
Laura had posted some questions for us to answer in review of what we have done. Here we go with that.

1. What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and were you able to overcome it?

The hardest part for me was definitely trying to get my husband to go through his things that were in the room. He's someone who likes to keep EVERYTHING!! He always envisions a use for everything at some point in the futures. Fortunately, he's a little more motivated than usual with our upcoming move. I pointed out to him that once he leaves the US (2-3 months before me) all of this things are fair game and if he didn't go through them, I would get to make the call as to what he gets to keep. That got him going!!

2. Tell us what kind of changes/habits you have put into place in order for your area/room to maintain its new order?

Umm...No one is allowed in this room ever again.

3. What did you do with the “stuff” you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?

Well, unfortunately I forgot about the "bonus prize" for the biggest pile of stuff removed. Cuz, ladies, I would have won it, hands down. About half the books are in a box to be listed on eBay (mostly curriculum). The other half either were thrown away or taken to Goodwill. Daniel's toys were sorted through and we made room in his room for them. The computer and utility desk I decided were not really necessary in the home, so they have gone out to the garage sale pile for Hubby to sell while I'm gone. All the extra stuff in the closet (boxes of paper that had been given to us, a big Rubbermaid of purses, MORE books, wrapping paper, etc.) is gone!! What was sell-able was sold at one of our 2 garage sales this month and what wasn't was disposed of. In fact, I had to take some of our garbage to our empty rental property to put out because we had so much!!

4. Now that you have completed the challenge, do you think having and keeping your space organized will make a difference in your life?

Oh, yes. I mean, I joke about it being my shame. But it's really not a joke. It's mortifying to have an unexpected guest and know they will walk by that door and see how awful it is. Now I can relax and just enjoy people who come for a visit. Much better!!

6. Why do you think you should win the challenge?

Well, I hate to promote myself. But to be able to get this room into shape with all that we've been dealing with here is really a miracle. The stress level around here has been incredibly high. I don't know that I should win, but I know that I've already won in my own mind just by getting this done!!

Thanks to Laura at the Organizing Junkie for hosting the 30 Day Organizational Challenge and helping me to reclaim a bit of my home and my life!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thankful Thursday

"And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful." Colossians 3:15

I have been missing from Thankful Thursday lately. Not because I don't have much to be thankful for. I've just been overwhelmed by all the stuff happening in my life that I've neglected to really take the time to stop and be thankful. Unfortunately, that's often the way it is. Moving through life without thought of who it is who gave us this life.

Things have been going well, but have been overwhelming. And the sad part is that had I taken the time to spend giving God thanks, it probably wouldn't have been. It's when we get all wrapped up in ourselves and our little lives that we lose sight of what we should be doing - having relationship with God - and instead focus on all the small "stuff" of life.

So here's my list. It's incomplete, of course, but these are the big things on my mind today.

  • I'm thankful that we finally have a set plan. Hubby will be leaving the US the first week of January. He begins work in Qatar in mid-January.
  • I'm thankful that we'll be able to spend Christmas together.
  • I'm thankful that Hubby will be able to attend his brother's wedding (at the age of 50!! We thought it would never happen!!) in Jordan before moving on to Qatar.
  • I'm thankful that the kids and I are leaving this weekend to go to Grandma's house. We are all looking forward to spending time with grandparents, aunt and uncles, and cousins. We are also looking forward to cool weather!!
  • I'm thankful that Mike Huckabee is moving up in the polls. Let me tell you, he's the real deal Christian conservative. He's what I always hoped a politician could be - someone who balances conservative ideals with compassion. He would make a great president!
  • I'm thankful that Hubby's new company has offered to pay for shipping all of our belongings to Qatar. It will make things so much easier. We are still weeding out probably 40% of our belongings, but it's nice to know we'll have familiar and comfortable things around us and that all our special, personal things won't have to be sold off or put into storage.
  • I'm thankful that it's Christmas. This is one of the most wonderful times of the year (I love Easter as well) and it forces us to focus on Christ and on others. We just have to make sure we don't let our selves get overwhelmed by all the nonsense that comes with it.

To be inspired by other women's lists of what they are thankful for, visit Laurel Wreath.

Oh, my goodness!! Can you even read this?

UPDATED: After reading Amanda's comment, I changed the text from green to silver. I think it still looks pretty festive! Thanks for the help!

At home my blog looks all pretty and Christmas-y, red and green, happy and bright.

But I just checked in while I'm here at the church bookstore and it's so dark I can hardly see the words even!!

If anyone is having this same problem and can't see the words, please let me know and I'll change it. Otherwise I'll assume it's the horrible old computer I'm stuck with here at church.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

And the insanity ends...

Well, it's over. I've come to realize that good enough is good enough. If you haven't been following my crazy attempt to make my home into a Better Homes and Garden palace in less than one week, you've missed out. I mean, there's nothing like a woman possessed by the spirit of perfectionism to make you want to slap someone.

But I give up. It's just not going to happen. I've done as much as I can do, but we all have to know when to accept defeat. I'm going to keep working on the list, but at a reasonable pace. And if things don't get done, they don't get done. Life will go on.

Yesterday, on our way home from having spent the entire day running errands - from 11 in the morning until 6 at night - Hubby called and asked me to do a simple task for him. I honestly started crying in the car and told him I was going to lose it if I had to add one more thing to my plate. He very gently comforted me and told me to just do what I can do and not worry about the rest of it.

When I got home, the best thing I could muster up for dinner was Tuna Helper. Now, no disrespect to those of you who use Tuna Helper (or any other Helper for that matter), but this is something that Hubby hates. Personally I don't mind it, but her prefers his food less...preservative-laden, let's say. I only keep it in the house as part of our hurricane supply closet. After I got it made, I felt bad about not responding more graciously when he asked for my help earlier. I worked on what he asked me to do and got it done in the time frame he needed.

And I felt much better for it. It helped me to take my eyes off myself and my goals. It put things into perspective. I felt much calmer and steadier. And I realized that I was being crazy.

Crazy to think that I could do that much (and there is much I have done that didn't even make the list (new toilet seats, for instance!!??). Crazy to think that the insane woman screaming at her kids because she is so stressed out is what God wanted from me.

So today we have just me. And that's good enough.

WFMW - Most Excellent Cake Ever!

Ok. You need a cake. It has to be quick and easy. It has to be fairly cheap. And it has to be amazing!

You need Hawaiian Wedding Cake.

This is one of the most delicious desserts I've ever had in my life and it never fails to get rave reviews. While it is quick and easy to make, it's better if it sits in your fridge for several hours, so try to budget that in to your planning. Here's the recipe:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix (and whatever ingredients are called for to make it)
  • 1 can crushed pineapple (15 oz.)
  • 1 3 oz. package of vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 8 oz. tub of Cool Whip

(Are you drooling just from looking at the ingredients yet?)

Bake the cake as directed on box. While still hot, poke holes all over the cake and pour the entire contents of the pineapple, including the juice over the cake, spreading the pineapple evenly. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.

While the cake is cooling, mix the pudding mix and milk, beating well for 2 minutes. Fold into the Cool Whip. This is your frosting. Spread onto the cake. Refrigerate for several hours, even overnight. The longer the better.

Sit back and wait for the thanks of the grateful people.

Even though I'm not personally a dessert person (although this is definitely one that I really enjoy!), I love knowing that I've made something that other people enjoy so much. This always accomplishes that for sure! And that works for me!

For more great tips, be sure to head on over to visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer.

Please don't go away...

I have to admit that I am worried about whether many of you regular readers will keep hanging around when I've been so bad about writing lately and the fact that it will probably only get worse.

We are due to leave to visit my family for almost 3 weeks this weekend. My folks only have dial-up (S-L-O-W!!!!!), so I don't know how much I'll be able to get online and post and check in with all of you at your sites.

Then once we get back it seems I will only have about 10 days with my Hubby before he leaves for his new job - wherever that may be. Believe it or not, there is still a possibility we could be going to Dubai, something that just came up yesterday. Either way he'll be leaving around New Year's. I imagine that time will be a whirlwind of Christmas celebrations and preparations for his departure and trying to squeeze in as much family time before we are separated for the next three months. :(

After that it will be time for the kids and I to make our preparations for our own departure.

I can't take a break from blogging by any stretch of the imagination. This blog has become my place to come and sort my thoughts and share my feelings - kind of like my diary that I open up to the world. I think I might lose touch with any sanity I have if I didn't come here and share.

I just hope that those of you who are regular readers won't become discouraged with me. If you haven't yet, perhaps you might want to add me to your Bloglines or Google reader account so you can just check in whenever something new gets posted here.

Thanks in advance for not giving up on me. I'm counting on all your encouragement and wisdom as our family goes through this time of immense upheaval!
Monday, November 26, 2007

Menu Plan Monday!!

Back to Monday again already? It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving has come and gone and now we are just weeks away from Christmas. I haven't done any shopping yet. Yikes!!
On to the menus. With this being such a busy week for us, and the kids and I leaving town on Saturday, the keyword this week is EASY!! I've got a couple of crock-pot meals planned so that I can just buzz through my day and know dinner is already done.
Monday - Roast with carrots, onions and potatoes, salad
Tuesday - Baked Fish, dirty rice, steamed vegetable medley
Wednesday - Frozen Bertolli pasta meal, salad
Friday - Spaghetti with meat sauce, garlic bread, caesar salad
For more great menu ideas, visit The Organizing Junkie. You'll find lots of great ideas and tons fo recipes.
Sunday, November 25, 2007

Work is Holy

Wow!! As you can see here, we have been busy this weekend. It has been hard, physical labor. I've probably gotten more accomplished in the past week than I have done in the past six months. And it feels good to be this sore, tired and achy.

I mean I ache to the bone. But I have this deep sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, not to mention a feeling that what I have done this week is pleasing to God.

Now, I am not by any means saying that God loves us based on what we do - I am a grace lovin' girl if there ever was one. But I believe that God does want His people to be hard workers. Let's look at what the Scriptures say:

"The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it." Gen. 2:15

"Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest;" Exodus 23: 12

"Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense. " Prov. 12:11

"The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor." Prov. 12:24

"Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys." Prov. 18:9

"The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor." Prov. 21:25

"Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men. " Prov. 22:29

"Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty. " Prov. 28:19

"She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands." Prov. 31:13

"Sweet is the sleep of a laborer..." Eccl. 5:12

"Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need." Eph. 4:28

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men..." Col. 3:23

"But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one." 1 Thess. 4: 10b-12

"Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living." 2 Thess. 3: 6-12

"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled." Titus 2: 3-5

It's clear from these verses that God desires His people to be diligent workers. I can especially relate to Ephesians 5:12 - "Sweet is the sleep of a laborer..." As I lay down last night, I thought to myself this is how I should feel every night when I go to bed. I went to sleep at 10:30 (as opposed to my normal 1:00 bedtime), completely exhausted and grateful for a warm, soft bed. I slept like a baby.
If you, like me, struggle with laziness, I would urge you to consider these verses listed here. Pray over them. Meditate on them. Commit them to memory.
Then I would also recommend that you visit The Joy Box and read her series on "Overcoming Laziness." It's a nuts and bolts approach to really confronting the sin of slothfulness in our lives.
As for me, I've got a few more chores to do before I head off to bed. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!
Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ok, Here's The List

UPDATED: My mom laughed at me when she read this post, saying I wouldn't get half of this done. Well - phooey to her!!! As you can see below, I've gotten a good amount of it done already. I'm sore and achy, but feeling very accomplished!!

I just spent about 15 minutes walking through my house, noting down everything that I believe needs to be done before we start showing it. Here we go:

Pressure wash sidewalks and pool deck - DONE
Pressure wash brick wall of bedding area - DONE
Paint light post white -DONE
Replace light post cover - Had to special order it; will come in 3 weeks, but I've handled it, so - DONE
Plant new things in bedding area - DONE
Trim foliage - DONE
Weed the walkway and driveway - DONE
Repot the oleander bush - DONE
Clean windows (75 ft. of French doors - ugh!!) - DONE
Rearrange the garage - DONE
Call contractor to fix patio where cement is damaged

Master Bath and Bedroom
Finish filing
Replace closet doors (missing since we moved in 3 years ago!) - DONE
Repair door frames
Relocate photo albums that I don't know where to put
Move treadmill to garage
Clean off dresser - DONE
Sort my clothes - get rid of non-needed things - DONE
Re-fold Hubby's clothes in the walk-in closet organizer - Yeah...Decided this isn't that important.
Clean out bathroom cabinets - DONE
Straighten and organize bathroom shelving unit - DONE
Scrub shower door to remove film - DONE
Scrub tub caulking - DONE
Buy new bath mat for shower - DONE

Living Areas
Touch up baseboard paint in dining room - DONE
Dust chandelier - DONE
Clean tray table - DONE

Scrub down all cabinets and countertops
Scrub glass stovetop
Clean oven - DONE
Clean out cabinets and re-organize - DONE
Clean out pantry and re-organize - DONE
Clean out refrigerator and freezer - DONE

Finish pulling out books to sell on eBay - DONE
Rehang closet door - Arrgh! Home Depot was out of the needed piece. Will have to wait.
Box up remaining books and put in storage - DONE
Get rid of bookshelves - DONE
Take down computer desk - DONE
Wipe hard drives and dispose of old computers - DONE
Move bed to center of room - Tried it, didn't like it, but I'm counting it as DONE

Clean and organize kids' rooms (this would be another whole post!!) - Emily's Room DONE
Decorate for Christmas - DONE

I'm thinking what I want to do is assign each section a day or two (or three!). This week I'm going to work on the playroom Monday and Tuesday, and complete the living room tasks on Wednesday. We always do our Christmas decorating on Thanksgiving Day, so that will be a no-brainer for us. Over the weekend, Hubby and I will work on all the exterior tasks. That leaves me all next week to work on the bedrooms. Then on Friday, I'll do all the cleaning stuff - mop the floors, clean the bathrooms, etc. And we'll be all set!!
Thursday, November 22, 2007

MySpace Comments - Happy Thanksgiving

MySpace Layouts - Happy Thanksgiving
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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

WFMW - Be a Professional Homemaker!

As a wife and mother, for many years I considered myself, "just a stay at home mom." I dressed in sloppy clothes, didn't bother with makeup unless I had somewhere special to go, and generally just tried to make it through each day.

That all changed when I realized that homemaking is a career. It is the career that I have chosen - willingly, happily. I don't regret it for a second. But I did realize that I needed to make some changes. That I needed to take pride in myself and in the job that I was doing. And that my "career" was just as valid as any other career choice. Here are a few epiphanies that I had which helped me turn things around:
  1. I needed to be willing to invest in the right tool for the job. In the early years of homeschooling my children, I couldn't justify to myself spending the money for an electric pencil sharpener. Consequently, there was never a sharp pencil in the house! Similarly, Swiffer brand products have made keeping my home sparkling much, much easier. Switching to their bagless vacuum from my big bulky one alone has made caring for my tile floors a breeze. Recently I invested in laundry hampers that have three separate sections. Each bedroom got one and now sorting laundry is a breeze. My point is that we would never expect a lawyer to practice law without the right set of books, or a firefighter to fight fires without the proper equipment. Your career as a homemaker is just as valid and you shouldn't feel guilty about setting aside funds to help you do your job.
  2. Get up each morning and do your hair and makeup and dress nicely. I'm not saying you need to wear heels and pearls a la Mrs. Cleaver, but look presentable enough that if you have to make a quick trip out or if the doorbell unexpectedly rings, you aren't mortified. I personally like to be ready before my Hubby leaves the house so the last image he sees of me as he heads off to work isn't my just-rolled-out-of-bed look. Remember, our husbands are often surrounded by women who are primped and prettied up - we need to not look like slobs next to them.
  3. Actually DO your work. One day my husband said to me (back in my slobby days when the house was always a wreck) that he felt it was only fair that I worked, honestly WORKED at least as many hours a day as he did. Now, he didn't mean in a legalistic sense of keeping track of hours and minutes, but the point is that he's out working hard all day to provide for our family. My role as a homemaker is to spend my time at home investing it in "making our home." Making it a beautiful place. Making it a sanctuary for my husband and children. Making it look nice and smell nice. Making it a place where God is glorified. And all that takes work and effort. I shouldn't try to skate by on just the bare minimum. If he is working 8-9 hours a day, I ought to be putting in a similar effort (I do include my time spent homeschooling in this time as I review my days).

The point is to see your role as a wife and mother as a something that is worthy of your best effort. This shift in my view point has made a world of difference in our home. And that works for me! For more great ideas, visit Rocks in My Dryer!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - Thanksgiving Week!!

Hi everyone!

Can you believe Thanksgiving is here already? It's come up so quickly this year. As a kid, time just dragged by, but since becoming a parent myself, it seems as though there has been some kind of cosmic shift where the earth is spinning faster and faster. But, I have to admit that I love the holidays, so that's ok with me that it gets here faster!

This week and next are crunch weeks for me (as I mentioned here and here). The kids and I will be leaving for the bulk of December, returning less than a week for Christmas. Hubby would like to get the house on the market and actually hold an open house the day we leave, so I've got less than two weeks to whip this place into shape. Later today, I'll try to post a list of my goals so I can hold myself somewhat accountable.

Anyhoo, on to the purpose of this post. Here is what we will be enjoying this week (** indicates recipe below):

Monday - Beef Shish Kebabs**, rice, chopped salad

Tuesday - Slow Cooked Pot Roast with Carrots, Potatoes and Onions

Wednesday - Mezze (a selection of small things - hummous, tabouli, deli meats and cheeses, hardboiled eggs, pita bread, pickles, olives, etc.)

Thursday - Roasted Turkey with Apple & Sausage stuffing, Carmelized Onion Mashed Potatoes, Corn, Turkey Gravy, Broccoli Salad**, Tossed Salad, Deviled Eggs and Pecan Pie

Friday - Turkey Noodle Soup with whole wheat rolls

Shish Kebabs
2 1/2 lbs. beef cubes
cherry tomatoes
onions, cut into bite size chunks
green peppers, cut bite size
Any other veggies you'd like to add

Marinade Ingredients:
1/3 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup salad oil
1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 T. dry mustard
2 t. salt
1 t. parsley
1 1/2 t. ground pepper
1/4 cup wine vinegar
1 crushed garlic clove
1/4 cup lemon juice

Blend marinade ingredients in a jar. Pour over meat and marinate for several hours. Thread beef and veggies onto skewers and grill or broil until done. I serve them over rice.

Broccoli Salad
10 slices bacon (or use store bought bacon pieces)
1 head fresh broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sunflower seeds

Fry bacon until crisp. Drain, crumble and set aside. To broccoli, add red onion and cranberries. Mix up vinegar, sugar and mayonnaise. Mix well into broccoli mixture and refrigerate at least two hours. When ready to serve, toss with bacon bits and sunflower seeds.

For more great menu ideas, head on over to The Organizing Junkie!!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!!!!
Saturday, November 17, 2007

What a fun way to spend a day!!!

That was sarcastic.

Last night I heard some mysterious crashing noise. I assumed that a box of toys had fallen in one of the kids' rooms - nothing unusual since they don't seem to understand the principle of putting things on a flat surface that is actually a) big enough to hold it, and b) isn't already filled up by myriads of other toys, books, trophies, rocks, rubber bands, and whatever else works its way into their rooms.

When I went to bed later that night, I stepped on a hanger next to our closets. I silently rebuked Hubby (who was already asleep) for dropping a hanger and not picking it up.

This morning, I found that the wire shelving in my closet had collapsed. Clothes, hangers, drywall dust, and wire shelving were in a huge jumble at the bottom of my closet. Mixed in, of course, with all my shoes and the clan of dust bunnies who have found a home in my closet.

I have spent approximately 6 hours today cleaning up the mess. Not really cleaning up just what happened, but trying to make the master bedroom closets "ready to sell." Strangely enough, this was actually what I planned on doing today. As you may remember, I'm working my way up to the big stuff. (So far I've gotten all the linen closets done, most of the kitchen cabinets, the laundry room, and a big portion of the guest room - which actually is kind of a mess again now that I've been emptying my room and closets.) So I've switched our closets, rearranged the furniture, moved some furniture out and some in, sorted out approximately 593 hangers that had no clothes on them, and massacred the poor dust bunnies.

We are planning on having a big old garage sale tomorrow - hopefully that will help clear out quite a few things. Mostly things that are in the garage already, but it will help. My goal is to have the entire house "showcase" ready by the end of the month. The kids and I will be going out of town for most of December, returning just before Christmas. Hubby will be here though and hopes to have some showings and an open house.

So, if I'm a little quiet over the next couple of weeks, you'll know why. I'm busy making my home sparkle and shine!!!
Thursday, November 15, 2007


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

This is the very first Bible verse I learned as a new Christian. It has stuck with me all these years and has always served me well in times of questioning myself, times of confusion and times of doubt.

But it's truth has hit home to me in new ways over the past few months as we've made a life-altering decision. And it has me thinking about to what degree I actually do trust God. I mean, it's one thing to say it. It's another whole thing to actually take that leap and jump off the cliff.

Many of us have gone through things that have been devastating. Cancer. The death of a child or husband. Financial ruin. Things that cause us to fall to our knees and make us realize that our only comfort can be found in God.

That's not the kind of trust I'm talking about. I'm talking about when you have a choice and choose to do what you never thought you would do, what doesn't make sense, what seems crazy. I'm talking about feeling as though God has called you to do something that seems absolutely impossible - and yet you KNOW it is of God.

It doesn't have to be as dramatic as moving to the other side of the world. It might be something as simple as choosing to submit to your husband. Or beginning a ministry that you feel God has laid upon your heart. I'd like to share with you the story of a woman who has done just that.

Carmen Morris is a member our my church. Several years ago she saw a news report on child trafficking and child slavery in West Africa. She was deeply burdened, as most of us would have been. But most of us would have offered up a quick prayer and gone on about our lives.

Carmen isn't most people.

She earnestly prayed that God would show her what she could do. And you know what? God answered her. (Why does that surprise us? Why do we forget that prayer is meant to be a conversation, not a monologue?) God told her to build a school for children who are at risk of child slavery. In Benin. West Africa.

Now, mind you, Carmen's a single mom, formerly on welfare. She had no contacts there. No funds for this huge project. And yet, she pursued it. She didn't allow that still, small voice of God to be pushed to the side as many of us do. How often do you feel that you are supposed to do something, but don't do it? I do it all the time.

Not Carmen. She travelled to Benin, managed to meet with government officials, and was given by the government land to build the school on. Sanctuary of Moses was born. I don't know the whole story. But I know that hundreds of children have found sanctuary in its truest sense at the school and sanctuary village that Carmen has founded. And her faith and action have been truly blessed. I'm sure there are many stories of God's blessings on Sanctuary of Moses, but I am privy to one of them and I'd like to share it with you.

Each year during our church's VBS, we select a ministry to receive the children's donations. In the past we have chosen a local after-school ministry in an impoverished area and a camp for disabled children in Nicaragua, among others. One year, we raised over $11,000. This past year Sanctuary of Moses was chosen to be our recipient.

We set a high goal. Carmen was in the midst of building a village that would offer a safety net of protection for up to 200 children who would otherwise be in danger of being sold, often by their own family, into slavery. The goal of trying to raise enough to dig a well for part of the village was set. Cost: $20,000. And this would only be one of 4 that were needed for the village.

Throughout the week, it wasn't looking good. We were raising an incredible amount of money, but nowhere near what we hoped. After the last offering was taken, the total came up to $16,000 - an amazing number, but not quite enough. Following the end-of-the-week party, an anonymous individual approached Carmen and donated the balance necessary to reach our goal. Additional donations came in over the weekend and raised the total to approximately $22,000. A miracle in and of itself.

But that's not all.

Remember that I said the plans called for 4 wells to service the village? Well, upon digging the well that the VBS money provided for, there was found to be enough water that it could service the entire village on its own, a staggering savings of $60,000!!!

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that when we step out in faith, even against amazing odds, God will honor that and make things happen we can't even imagine.

A DJ from our local Christian radio station had a saying that I love.

"God doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called."

If you think that God is calling you to do something, step out in faith. Trust Him. He will bless your efforts.

(If you would like to donate to Sanctuary of Moses, I can vouch for their sincerity and the amazing ministry there. You can follow the link here to find more information.)
Monday, November 12, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

Thankfully, this week is shaping up to be much less busy than last week. Man, there was something every night last week! I hate weeks like that.

This week is more of our normal routine - church on Wednesday and our small group meets on Friday. Every other evening we can just chill at home. And chilling is SOOO what I need right now!

Oh, and I'm happy to report that the slumber party went FABULOUSLY!! I used several of the ideas people posted during last week's WFMW Backwards Edition. I honestly feel like it was the most successful slumber party my daughter has ever had. They all got along, no drama, and they actually spent a good deal of the evening outside so it was fairly quiet for me. Thanks for all the tips! And now, on to the point of this post - the menus!

Monday -
Chicken Stir Fry

Tuesday - Zesty Macaroni and Cheese, salad

Wednesday - Lentils & Rice with a nice lemony salad

Thursday - Chili and cornbread

Friday -
Blackened Chicken Salad (to share with our Small Group)

Saturday - Beef Shish Kebabs, rice and grilled veggies


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