Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'll Be In and Out

Sorry, no Creative Counterpart post this morning. Hubby is off for the Islamic holiday of Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. We get a full three day holiday, which is actually 4 days, since it falls right before Friday, our weekend.

I might get to post it later, but I figured the best way to be a creative counterpart to my sweet hubby this week is to enjoy our time together!!
Monday, September 29, 2008

I Can't Get No Satisfaction

Ok, so I'm not really a Rolling Stones fan. I'm more of a Beatles girl. Early Beatles, before they got influenced by whatever influenced them to write Sargent Pepper's. Which, by the way, I like. But, c'mon...it's out there.

But I digress...

Have you ever had that feeling that if you just had that one more thing, be it something tangible or intangible, that then you would finally be satisfied?

I've had that a lot lately. Since the move, I've been so focused on what I've had to give up from our life back home. Stupid things really, like curtains I like (which I didn't have to start with - I had all blinds!!!), a dryer, cute dishtowels, etc.

I have to keep reminding myself that all those things are unimportant. I have a loving husband, two wonderful kids, a beautiful home, a great church. But even more importantly, I have a God who loves me much more than I could ever imagine.

To be completely honest, I had a picture in my head that when we moved here we would be rolling in the dough. I thought I'd be able to buy whatever I wanted without even thinking about it. After all, Hubby would be making three times the amount of money that he did in the US.

However, the housing market hit us pretty hard. We had planned on paying off all our debt with the selling of our rental properties. You can imagine how that went. Nothing sold, and that debt is still there. We are working on paying it off, and, yes, I've ordered that Dave Ramsay book to pick up while I'm back home. But in the meanwhile, it's cutting into my spending.

Now back home, we just would have continued to live on credit cards, still feeding my every whim. But Hubby and I are committed to not going deeper into debt. We are struggling to live within our means and that means learning to not just run to Target (ah, Target...sigh!), every time I'm bored and spend "just a little bit." It means opting to shop for a bargain.

It means learning to be content.

And that's the bottom line.

I'm working on it, but it will take time and plenty of training this ol' brain to adapt. Yes, I may want to have fall-themed dish towels, but no, they aren't going to bring me long-lasting joy.

So, yes, I may not have every little thing I want. But what I lose in those little, daily, dying-to-self moments, I will gain in having a better perspective on what really matters.
Saturday, September 27, 2008

Just For the Record...

the ice cream was ok. Just ok.

And my bathrooms aren't looking any cleaner, just so you know.

I'm not too happy about it.

However, I am happy that we had these guys over from the military base. It was the first time we've entertained since moving here and I'd forgotten how much I enjoy it. The three guys were lots of fun and we had some really good discussions. They asked about coming back another time, so hopefully we'll have them over again before I leave for the US and then I'm thinking maybe around Christmas. All of them have left their wives and children behind to be here to secure the safety and liberty of Americans, so it's the least I can do, right?

Anyhoo, just figured you'd be dying to know about my ice cream. Cuz I know you hang on every detail of my life. *Snort!*

Hello from My Deserted Island


When we first discussed moving to Doha, a big question mark for me was the homeschooling situation. One of the criterion that was important to me was that there be a viable homeschool group that would provide both support for me and interaction for my children.


I found a group online that seemed to be a pretty good sized group - over 50 families - and was very relieved. Based on that, I felt pretty good about moving ahead with our plans to move. After all, that was pretty much the same size as our group in Miami.


Upon arriving here however, I've come to see that it's a very different situation than it appeared to be. Yes, on paper there are that many members. But there is no participation at all. Recently the leader tried to organize a Mom's Night Out. I was the only one that responded. Um, hello? Who doesn't enjoy a night out with other moms to help and encourage one another?


Trying to be proactive, I've arranged an International Day, similar to the one we did with our previous group in Miami. I offered to host it in our home and even have a luncheon afterwards. Only 4 other families signed up for it. Four out of 53. And now, two of those have had to back out. It just doesn't make sense to do it with three families, so I'm going to cancel the whole thing.


I'm not angry - I'm disappointed. And, truthfully, I just don't get it. I've always found homeschoolers to be an outgoing group, eager to meet together and socialize and encourage each other. I'm baffled by the lack of interest in having any kind of meaningful group, outside of the internet. Certainly I understand that everyone is busy, but that's just as true in the U.S. I know that the faciliator of our group has given it a valiant effort and has tried to organize event after event, but has met with apathetic response most of the time.


I don't really know why I'm typing this post except that I'm frustrated and need to vent a little, which I try not to do much of here. But if you get a second, and think about it, could you offer up a little prayer for me? For much of the past 10 years, particularly the last few years with our most recent group, our homeschool support group has been a huge part of our lives. Now it's like a big, gaping hole.


I'm trying to look at it with God's perspective and I'm feeling like it's just another step in God breaking me down to total reliance upon Him. And that would be okay with me. Painful, but okay if it gets me closer to God.
Thursday, September 25, 2008

Adventures in Grocery Shopping

I can barely control myself.

As I went through the aisles this morning of my favorite grocery store, looking for pimentos which, hello? I don't even know what they are, I stumbled across the holy grail of my grocery list.


Kraft Catalina Salad Dressing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I know!! Can you control your excitement??!?!???!!! (Did you notice I made the words the color of the dressing? Well, as close as I could get. That's how excited I am. )

There were six bottles on the shelf. Not wanting to be greedy or anything, I took 4. I thought about taking 5, but decided to be magnanimous. I'm just like that. Snort!

Now why would Catalina dressing excite me so? Well, beside the fact that Hubby likes it when I marinate chicken in it and then bake it, it's the dressing for my ultra-yummy, favorite meal of all time Taco Salad. Which I've only made once (once!!!) since being here because I had to make my own Catalina dressing, which isn't hard, but it's a pain.

So you'd better believe that I'm going to be making Taco Salad at some point in the next week. That's IF I can find Doritos. They seem to have disappeared from the shelves lately. Sigh...

On a more somber note, I also had a little unhappy moment from my grocery shopping trip. We are having guests this weekend from the local military base. My friend's nephew is over here on a tour of duty and he's coming over and bringing a couple of friends. I'm planning on making Apple Enchiladas for dessert that night and it's just oh-so-yummy with vanilla ice cream on it. So the only vanilla ice cream I could find was a brand I'd never heard of before, but, hey, it's all the same thing, right?

Now, you have to realize that pricing over here is hit or miss. Some things are labeled, most are not. I just knew that the most expensive ice cream brands are your Baskin-Robbins and that other American brand that I can't remember, but it's in the black cartons. You know what I mean. They run about 35 riyals a carton. That's about $7-8. I rarely shell out for that, mainly because I don't like ice cream and the rest of the family doesn't really care about the brand. So I figured this is probably a regional brand and they run about 20 riyals.

Imagine my shock and horror when I got in the car and looked at my receipt and saw that the ice cream cost 60 riyals!!! That's a $15 box of ice cream, people!! And it was small, maybe half the size of a half-gallon box. It dang well better be the best ice cream I've ever eaten and maybe it should even get up and clean my bathrooms for me!

Signs that Fall has Arrived in Doha

1) You begin to consider turning on the hot water heater. You don't, but you think about it.

2) You think excitedly to yourself, "Pretty soon, maybe I'll be able to use the hot water tap for hot water and the cold water tap for cold water."

3) Your son steps outside in the morning, stands there and says, "It's so nice outside!" It's 98 degrees, but that's considered a cool, crisp fall morning here.

4) Your dog resumes spending the night outside, proving that it's cooling down slightly.

5) You can breathe when you are outside, since the humidity has almost gone back to bearable levels.

6) You start seeing Christmas decorations in the store. Oh, wait. No, those were there in April. And June. Scratch that last one.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Fast - Update

So my total fast is over. I didn't post about it earlier because I wanted to take time to do it justice.

Three days. That is by far the longest I have ever gone without food. And you know what? I'm fine. Yesterday was a little rough. I felt a little weak and exceedingly tired. During Bible study, I couldn't really focus very well. If you were there and I said something completely incoherent, please forgive me! LOL!!


But to be honest, I was completely amazed at how God sustained me throughout the three days. I honestly didn't struggle with any physical hunger pains until late on the second day. The toughest thing was the emotional pull of food.


That in and of itself showed me how much of my food issues are psychological, not physical. There was one particular moment when I was stressed out about something here at home. I was upset and angry and my first instinct was to go to the kitchen and find something to eat. It was like that would honestly make me feel better.


The thing that kept me from giving in was constant repetition of the following phrase:


"I want You more than I want anything, Lord."


And I do. I want God to be the most important thing in my life. Without holding anything back, without keeping Him out of any part of my life. I'm ready to give Him everything.

You know, when I moved to Doha I thought that was the biggest leap of faith ever. Trusting God to lead me to a strange country, leaving behind friends, family and everything familiar. Now I see that this whole food issue is even harder for me. It's a habit ingrained on my brain to turn to food when I'm bored, lonely or stressed. I'm praying that through this fast, and through my "daylight hours" fast for the next five days, that I learn to turn to God first rather than the pantry.

Because God deserves all of me. He gave His all for me. All that I have is His.

And that's the way it should be.

Random Thoughts

So I've got nothing big to talk about today. I've got to leave in a little bit for Bible study, which I am totally loving.

Last night I went to a leadership planning meeting for our church's youth group. A new couple is taking over and were looking for people to partner with them. I'm there!! Hubby and I are strong believers in both youth and children's programs. Not just because our kids enjoy them, but because we always keep in mind that today's kids are tomorrow's church. We really need more volunteers though because our church (and consequently our youth program) is growing. Please pray for wisdom for our new leaders and for those people whom God is leading to step up and help to do so.

The kids and I are getting SOOOO excited about coming home. We can't wait to see all our friends and family, to drive on streets where people are, you know, normal, to see greenery, to pay over $4 for gas...oh, wait, no, I'm not looking forward to that!

Things are going better with the kids and I. For a few weeks I was really losing it there. The kids were constantly fighting over every minor thing. But they seem to have gotten over it and our days are much happier for it.

God has really been convicting me about my obsession about the stat counts here. Not doing Menu Plan Monday or Works for Me Wednesday hit my numbers, but I strongly feel that God is telling me that this blog is for HIS glory, not mine. I'm still learning, bit by bit . . .

Well, I'm off to Bible study. I'll post later tonight about how the 3 day fast went and what I believe God has shown me.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Creative Counterpart - Chapter 4, The Priority Planner



In this week's look at Linda Dillow's book, Creative Counterpart, we take a look at our priorities. I think that this is an area where all women struggle. There are so many needs pressing in on us - the boss at work, the friend who needs a listening ear, the husband who wants to spend time with us, a home that needs cleaning, children who need tended too.

And, oh yeah, God.

It can be overwhelming, right? Where do we start? What gets our attention first?

Determining the answer to those questions in advance can make the difference between spending your life running around putting out fires and making an impact on the world around you.

Mrs. Dillow suggests that a Christian woman's priorities should fall in this order:

1) God - When our relationship with God is first and foremost in our lives, everything else will fall into place. We will have His perspective on our lives. Jesus tells us to "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be given to you as well." When we make our goal God and His glory, He will help us to accomplish all we need in other areas.

One thing we are cautioned against is mistaking "activity" for God for a "relationship" with God. We so often DO so much, but fail to spend time getting to know God better. Make sure that you aren't just running around keeping busy and letting that mask the fact that your relationship with God is stagnant. Keep close to Him through prayer, reading the Word, quiet time, and fellowship with others.

2) Husband - A very wise friend once told me that she was intent on making her marriage a priority over her children because eventually the children would grow up and make live of their own and she and her husband would still (hopefully!) have many years left together by themselves. So often we see a woman throw herself into raising her children at the expense of her relationship with her husband. Once they've grown and left the home, there isn't much of a marriage left.

But how do we show our husbands that they are our priority? After all, he's a grown man and my kids need me! Yes, sometimes it's hard work. We can be exhausted after caring for the kids all day, but our husbands still need to know that they are important to us. How do we do that?

a) By accepting him as he is - Don't try to change him. Love him unconditionally.

b) By spending time with him - Date your husband. If finances are an issue, either put the kids to be early and snuggle up on the couch to watch a movie or see if you can swap babysitting with a friend to manage some time alone. Do the things he likes to do, not just what you want to do. Go for a ride to Home Depot. It doesn't have to be all hearts and flowers, ladies. An even more special thing would be to try to do weekend getaways every so often.

c) Small gestures - Send a note in his lunchbag. Write on his bathroom mirror in lipstick. Rub his back. And be sure to be thankful for every thing he does as well. Be creative in thinking of ways to bless your husband. It doesn't have to be anything expensive or fancy - it just has to be an expression of your love. And please, please, don't wait for him to make the first move. Countless marriages have been ruined because both partners waited for the other one to show love first. That's nothing but pride, girls.

3) Children - Now, I know that we are all busy - running kids around from lesson to lesson, trying to help with homework, making dinner to feed said children. Just a short reminder to actually spend quality time with your children. Make sure to find out what's going on in their lives, pray with them, pray for them, and remember that it is our job to disciple our children. We are the ones that God has charged with their spiritual growth - not the pastor, or the Sunday school teacher, or youth worker. They all have their parts, but the main responsibility is on us. Love your kids enough to teach them about Jesus.

4) Home - Like it or not, women set the tone of the home. If we are grouchy, others around us will follow suit. If we are kind and loving, our attitude will spread. If we determine to set an atmosphere of calm and peace in our home, we will benefit from it greatly. But how can we make our homes calm and peaceful, you ask? By being prepared.

Take time to plan out your week. Sit down and think about your commitments. Plan what you will have for dinner each night so you aren't thinking about it at 5 pm that day. Decide in advance what chores need to be done and when. And a great tip from Mrs. Dillow is to plan one thing each week to show your care for all your priorities - something that will bless your relationship with God (read some new devotional book?), something special you can do for your husband (plan a date maybe?), something for each child (spend time baking cookies with Suzie, etc.), a project you can work on to beautify your home (paint the kitchen?), etc. Then take that planning time and put it all together. Plan out when you can do all of this.

Then (drumroll please!), DO IT.

Make your plans, then do the next thing on your list. Proceed to the next thing. Proceed to the next thing. What doesn't get done one day, move to the next day's list, but keep it first in priority. Stay focused on your goal of bringing peace and order to your home. Don't be overwhelmed - remember, all you have to do right now is the next thing on your list. That's not too tough, is it?

5) Yourself - Plan into your schedule time for yourself. This is a must for me. I get a little bug-eyed if I don't have some time alone. If it's hard for you because you have little ones or juggle both work or home, you have to be creative. If you work, you have a lunch hour. I used to just go sit in my car sometimes during lunch and just read or pray or listen to music. If you have little ones, develop a schedule where they all either sleep or have quiet time in their rooms at the same time. This can save your sanity.

No one likes a cranky woman and making time for yourself to dream, rest, pray, learn - it's what keeps us sane.

6) Outside the Home - Here is where we often mess up. Things outside our home often take up more of our time than they should. Friends, social gatherings, teaching Bible study (gasp!), jobs - all good and necessary things. But they must be kept in their place. Remember that our first priority is the family which God has blessed us with. No one else can care for them like we can.

I'm not saying not to get involved in any of these wonderful things. But what I am saying is to keep your perspective clear and to make sure that they higher priorities are taken care of.

One night, after a women's meeting at church I came home to an irate husband. The children were small, maybe 3 and 1, and I had left without feeding them, without doing the dishes (so there were no clean sippy cups!) and left the house a mess. My husband was rightfully upset. Don't let our social obligations take precedence over our families.

* * * *

Since I first did this study 7 years ago, these are the priorities I have tried to live my life by and I can tell you that it works. When we learn to have the balance that living our lives according to the priorities that we set in advance, it's easier to know when to say yes and when to say no.

If you start now to plan your life and really follow that plan, I can promise that you will see an improvement in your quality of life. God will bless your efforts, even if it doesn't all go perfectly at first.

Karen has some great thoughts on this chapter as well. Be sure to visit her to get her take on all of this.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Why I've Got No Menu Plan This Week

A few days ago, I posted about how God has been drawing me to himself. Through a study I've been doing on quiet time, God has really been changing my heart, causing me to desire to know Him more and more.

And now it seems I'm being challenged to be more and more obedient to Him as well. It all started a couple of weeks ago. In the course of doing the Creative Counterpart study I'm going through here on the blog, I made a commitment to cheerfully do what my husband asks of me. Little did I know what I was getting myself into. Last week, while out on a date, my husband asked me to consider fasting during the day, in the same way that Muslims here are doing during the month of Ramadan. He had seen an increase in health and a serious weight loss in some of his co-workers in just the first two weeks of Ramadan.

Now, when I made this commitment, I was thinking more along the lines of doing some ironing, taking out the garbage, etc. Fasting was not something that had ever entered my mind. And yet, mindful of the commitment (which I had prayed over and asked God to guide me in), I told him that I would consider it. This alone was huge for me.

And now, I find myself reading an amazing book. I Dared to Call Him Father is the story of a Muslim Pakistani woman who came to Christ, through a series of miraculous interventions from God. Following her conversion, she became completely and totally devoted to following God's leading in every step of her life, time and time choosing obedience over everything - even at risk of her own life. I have been so inspired that I have decided to follow my husband's request (which I totally trust that God knew would happen when He called me to make such a commitment).

Now for many of you, this probably wouldn't be an issue. But I believe that I have a deep stronghold in my life in the area of food. It has become a comfort to me and, in some respects, an idol. I know that I make choices that are displeasing to God (because they do not honor my body which is a gift from Him), and yet, I don't care enough to stop.

Recently I read something in the Bible that shook me to the core.


Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm. Proverbs 1: 28-33

You see, for years God has been speaking to me about my food "addiction" and my weight and I've just ignored Him. I've been complacent. And in the verse above I find that complacency will destroy me. It will destroy my health, my marriage, my self-image and, worse of all, my relationship with God.

So I'm committing this week to fasting for the next three days, until Wednesday night. At that point, I will move to the fast which my husband requested, from sunrise to sunset until the beginning of October. My goal in this is not really weight loss, but to overcome the strongholds that I've built up spiritually and to "discipline my body and keep it under control" (1 Cor. 9:27).

Now, I know that Scripture says not to make a big fuss when you are fasting and here I am announcing it to the bloggity world at large. My logic in putting it on here is multi-fold.

First, I would like to ask you to pray for me if you could during this time, that God will strengthen me and help me overcome these barriers.

Second, I want to encourage you to choose obedience, even when it's tough.

Third, if you are struggling with the same issues, I'd love to talk with you about them. Perhaps we can encourage each other.
Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Quiet Time For Mom

Joy!!

Hubby, Emily and Daniel have all signed up for AWANA. Hubby and Emily are leaders, Daniel is a "clubber." This means that every Sunday from 4:00 to 7:00, I will have the house to myself.

Bliss!!

Quiet!!

Solitude!!

Now, this may seem horrible to you, but as a homeschooling mom, don't forget that my kids are generally with me 24/7, particularly since we moved to Qatar. It used to be in Miami I would have time out with friends and they would do sleepovers and play dates. We haven't gotten those new relationships established yet, so we are together all. the. time.

This week and next there isn't must opportunity for me to do anything outside of the house since nothing's open until 8 or so during Ramadan. But once October rolls around, I can go stroll the malls and explore. I can go to the club and relax in the sauna or schedule a massage or swim without people wanting me to dunk them or trying to dunk me.

Thank you, AWANA, thank you!
Friday, September 19, 2008

Balancing Being "Mom" & "Teacher"


Today's Heart of the Matter focuses on the difficult balance between playing the roles of both mom and teacher. For every homeschool mom, this is something that we deal with at times.

From personal experience, I believe that it's much easier to handle these dual roles if you homeschool from the beginning. It's all that the child knows and everyone is used to mom being the teacher.

Where I see people really struggling with this is when they decide to begin homeschooling after the child has been in a more traditional school setting for several years.

One thing that I firmly believe is that the school environment, not intentionally but just as a natural result, sets up a parent versus teacher mentality. How many times do you remember your parent telling you something that directly contradicts your teacher? Tiffany had a good example of it this week. While her example is about a grammar question, sometimes there are deeper issues at stake such as one's world view.

The reason I've gotten down this trail is that once you've gotten to that point, it's harder to bring a child home and have them respect you as a teacher as well. They have been trained that the teacher knows best. (In many cases, such as algebra, this may be true!!!) I have had many moms tell me that their children won't listen because "my old teacher did it differently."

The first thing I would recommend in this situation is to give your child some time to decompress from school. When you first bring them back home, allow them some time to just chill. Don't push academics for the first few weeks. Encourage reading, explore your neighborhood, maybe pick up a book of science projects at the library and have them pick one to work on. As the child learns that education is not just sitting in a classroom, they will hopefully become more receptive to what you have to offer. You can gradually move into more formal studying once you have gained their trust.

For those who have been homeschooling all along, there is often very little delineation between your job as mother and teacher. All of life can be used as a teaching opportunity - from cooking, to driving, to shopping. As a bumper sticker I love says, "Homeschooling - the world is our classroom." Personally, I love the fact that our schooling is not limited to the time we spend poring over books, but is woven throughout our lives.

Balancing being both mom and teacher to your child is easier than you think, once you have gained the child's respect and trust. It can be a joy and a heartbreak. The ultimate thing to remember is that both of these roles are indeed God-ordained for parents. In Deuteronomy we are called to teach our children. In fact, today's school model is very modern in the scheme of history. Homeschooling was the norm for thousands of years.

By choosing to wear both hats, you are following in a time-honored tradition. It may take a little getting used to at first, but after a while it will flow effortlessly.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thankful Thursday


Ladies, I have to tell you that there has been a revolution here lately.

Not the violent, Che Guevara type of revolution, but a revolution of love. Love in my heart. Love for the Lord.

A week ago I started going through a study by Catherine Martin called 6 Secrets to a Powerful Quiet Time with the women's' ministry at our church. In that short time I have come to understand quiet times, and even my whole relationship with God, in a whole new way.

During the week, we were challenged to find a life verse and a life goal. Now, the life verse I struggled with. After all, all of Scripture is from God and beneficial for us. I'm working on it though. But what really revolutionized my thinking was the life goal.

I've always considered my life goal to be things like this: being a godly woman, being a good wife, raising godly children. All very worthy things. But this is what I learned this week: my (our!) overarching goal should be that of knowing God. Intimately, radically, amazingly knowing God. And if we do that, all the other things I mentioned? They will flow out of that.

Throughout Scripture we see example after example of people who just want to know God more - Moses, David, Zaccheus, Hosea, Paul, and more. They made getting to know God better their goal in life, more important than any other task.

For years, basically as long as I've been a Christian, I've always wanted to have a regular, meaningful devotional life. "Quiet time," as it's known to many. But my motivation was completely wrong. I thought that if I were really a "good Christian" I'd be having a regular quiet time. That is probably true, but it's just a slightly skewed perspective.

I have been so in love with the Word this week because I have come to see that I want to KNOW God. Not just check off a box in my schedule somewhere that says, "Have quiet time." No, the motivation isn't just to become a better Christian. It's to get to know Him. To fall deeply in love with God. To understand His heart. It's a call to, as Catherine Martin would put it, radical intimacy.

And so, that is what I am thankful for this week. I know that many of you just drop by on Thursdays, doing the rounds of Thankful Thursday, so you may not know that six months ago, we moved to the nation of Qatar, in the Persian Gulf. It's been a struggle, let me tell you. Leaving our church, our friends, our home and family has been heart-breaking at times. But I have thought over and over this week, "God, if you moved me here just so I could be part of this study and learn what I'm learning, it's all worth it."

I may not have explained it all very well, but the essence is that this week, I'm thankful for learning that God, more than anything, wants a real, intimate relationship with me more than anything else. And I'm even more thankful that I'm starting to want that too.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday

Now, if you are a Rachel Ray fan, this tip will not be new to you. You may not have tried it yet though, because you just don't go in for all those new-fangled ideas, like horseless carriages and e-lectronic mail and all those modern thing-a-ma-jigs. You may just be a creature of habit like myself.

For however-many-years Rachel has had her multiple tv shows, I've been watching her cook. And we all know that her shtick is that she prepares meals quickly - 30 minutes start to finish. And I've always watched her and her bowl.

Yes, Rachel's bowl is my tip today. I resisted for a long time, but I am now a fan. If you aren't a fan of hers, aren't home when her shows are on, or like me you live somewhere that doesn't show one of her 453 different television shows (seriously, does this girl ever sleep???) maybe you don't know about the bowl. Well, let me share with you . . .

In the preparation stage of cooking, the first thing Rachel grabs is a big bowl. Then she makes her rounds through the kitchen, gathering all the necessary tools and ingredients. She stops at the fridge and freezer, the pantry, the utensil drawer. Everything she needs gets piled into her bowl and her arms. She's got it all right there, ready for use.

Then, and this is the part I love, all the garbage that is produced while cooking goes into that same bowl as she goes. Egg shells? Yep. Empty cans? You betcha. Vegetable peelings? That too. (Disclaimer: Rachel also pours excess liquids from cans into the bowl. I don't do that. After all, you don't think she's actually going to clean her kitchen, do you? No, she's got "people" who do that. I'm my own "people" and I'm not interested in pulling soggy, wet icky garbage out of the bowl or in dumping water into my garbage can. Ick!)

Now, I know it sounds simple, and it is. But I never did it until a month or so again and now I never want to go back. I love not having to pace all through my kitchen to get this and that and I really love not having to make multiple trips to the garbage can, particularly now that I don't have a garbage disposal. It's so nice to just dump everything in the bowl and keep moving. When I'm done, it all gets tossed out at once and I only have one extra bowl to toss in the dishwasher. Well worth it to me!

So that's my tip for this week. For more helpful ideas to make your life just a little bit easier, visit Rocks in My Dryer!
Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Creative Counterpart - God's Game Plan

In this second installment of our walk through Linda Dillow's book, Creative Counterpart, we look at Chapter 3, "God's Game Plan."



So, then, how does one go about becoming the "wife, woman and mother you've always longed to be?" Is there a 12-step program to follow? If I do A, B and C will I automatically be the Proverbs 31 woman?

We all know the answer to that is no. How do we know? Because we've already tried it all. And nothing changed in the long run. Why?

Or maybe you haven't tried everything. Maybe you are trusting in God to make you into the woman He wants you to be. After all, we don't have the ability to produce good works in ourselves - it all comes from God, right? So why hasn't He done it yet?

The answer is that this is a partnership. God is willing to do His part, but you must also be willing to do yours. If we try to do something in our own strength we will eventually burn out and fail because, yes, all meaningful change comes from the Holy Spirit. However, we can't just sit back and wait, not making any effort of our own.

Have you ever heard that marriage is a 50-50 proposition? That each partner in a marriage needs to give equally to make it work?

That is a lie from the pit of hell, my friends.

Marriage, along with our walk with God, isn't 50-50. It's 100-100. Each side needs to give 100 percent of their best effort.

So whether you have been the woman who tries to "do it all," then fails because you're, well, human, then feels guilty or whether you've been the woman who is all spiritual talk and no roll-up-your-sleeves-and-work action, knowing that your "talk" doesn't match your "walk" there is hope for you.

That hope comes in the form of this little verse:

"You must be even more careful to do the good things that result from being saved, obeing God with deep reverence, shrinking back from all that might displease Him. For God is at work within you, helping you want to obey Him, and then helping you do what he wants."

(Phillipians 2:12-13 TLB)

The most amazing part is when we consider who our partner in this endeavor is - God Himself!! We know that He can't fail us. Consider what He has already done for us:

1) He's given us a new position - We are now justified by our faith in Christ. Nothing we can do will make Him love us less. Nothing we can do will make Him love us more. If we suddenly became as thin and beautiful as a supermodel, as creative and organized as Martha Stewart in the home, as talented in the kitchen as Julia Child, as great a mom as SuperNanny would be (if she had kids of her own!), and as kind and loving as Mother Theresa, God would still hold us in the same regard He does right now. As His children. His love for us is not based on our merits, but on the basis of Christ's merits.

2) He's given us a new nature - Paul tells us that we are new creations in Christ. As Mrs. Dillow puts it, "God has given each of us a new nature, resulting in a new motivation toward godliness. This is proved by the very fact of your desire to understand what God wants you to understand about being His woman in the home." As we grow in Christ, we become more and more driven to be the woman God wants us to be in every area of our life.

3) He's given us new power - Just as God helped the Israelites in miraculous ways during their exodus from Egyptian slavery, He has worked miracles in your life. Perhaps not as dramatically, but miracles nonetheless. How abour your salvation? What about the peace He has given you during difficult times? What about the changes you have already seen in you as a wife?

Mrs. Dillow suggests that during difficult times in our marriages, we take time to write down a list of God's faithfulness in our marriages and of all the things we are thankful for. This helps us to keep our focus in the right place and off our own circumstances.

4) He's given us new promises - We have to claim these promises as our own, not just know them intellectualy.

He will never leave us - God promises to be with us, no matter what, regardless of the situation.

He will make us Christlike - According to Romans 8:28-29, God is working through all things, the good and the bad, to develop us into who He wants us to be. And what is that exactly? He wants to make us Christ-like. Very often we resist those things which God wants to use in our lives to develop that within us. They may be difficult, even painful, but they are tools in the Master's hands.

There is no temptation too great - Sometimes it seems that there is just no way we can obey God. Your husband isn't saved, or is an alcoholic, or addicted to porn. You are too far in debt. Your children are out of control. You are right - I don't know what goes on in your house. But God does and He promises that no problem you face is beyond His help. Nothing you are dealing with will He not be there, right by your side, to help you.

He will take on our concerns - Now this is something we all know. But like little children, we grab things back from Him because of our own fear and worry. Make it a constant decision of your will that you will "re-gift" your concerns to God. When you realize that you are worried about something, give it back to God. Tell Him that you know it's too big for you and ask Him to deal with it. He's your daddy and He wants to take care of you.

So what is our part? It's actually so simple in concept, yet sometimes so difficult in practice. Trust and obey. Do you know that old hymn? It's so sweet.

  • Trust and obey
  • For there's no other way
  • To be happy in Jesus
  • But to trust and obey

Trust - When we cling to the knowledge of the above promises, we can trust that God is always working things for our God. That irritating neighbor, the difficulties in your marriage, your rebellious teenager? All of them are a means to an end for God. It's only through struggling out of the cocoon that a butterfly is able to strengthen itself enough to fly away. Trust in the Lord that He is using those painful things for your edification.

Lift up your cares and concerns to God - and then step back and let Him carry them. Remember that He will not take you where you aren't able to stand. An excellent book on this is Hind's Feet on High Places. By reading this book, you will gain such an understanding of the way God works through painful things in our lives.

Obey - When our children were younger, we taught them the concept of "first time obedience." If they didn't obey immediately, it was disobedience. This has served us well. God offers much more grace to us, but still expects, and deserves, us to obey the first time. When you read something in the Scripture, or hear God speaking to you through a sermon, a book or any other means, choose to obey. I look at the example of the disciples. Jesus said, "Come" and they dropped what they were doing and followed Him.

If we truly trust, we can wholeheartedly obey, knowing that whatever He's asking of us is for His glory and our edification.

Step forward in faith, do what He says and let Him do the rest. If you take up your part of the battle to become a godly woman (and believe me, some days it is indeed a battle!) He will do His part. Don't worry about trying to be someone you aren't - like the Proverbs 31 woman. He wants you to be you, but His version of you. You just do your part and let Him worry about the big picture. Elizabeth Elliot has a great point when she says, "Do the next thing." Do the dishes need washed? Laundry waiting to be folded? Do what needs to be done next. Over time, that small choice will result in the formation of your character into the woman you desire to be.



Monday, September 15, 2008

Menu Plan Monday



I've got several things running through my mind lately that I want to share with you.

I've been seriously convicted on a few things I've found in the Scriptures lately. I'm still trying to work out how to apply them in real life. Don't worry, I'll be using you as a sounding board in the next day or two!

My heart has been burdened as I've been learning more and more about the abhorrent practice of honor killing throughout the world. How to help I'm not sure, but I'll be talking about that more in a few days.

But these things are going to have to wait. It's after 1:30 in the morning here in Doha. I've stayed up late to load up my new iPod Nano (which I got in a trade with Daniel in exchange for waiving his remaining debt to Hubby for his new cell phone and my old iPod Shuffle. Suh-weet!!). I'm so excited about it! Plus, just to add to the excitement, I found a real, live NFL football game on. And who is playing? My team, the Denver Broncos!! And - we're winning! Though not by much.

Oh yeah, you are here for a menu plan, aren't you? My mind does tend to wander. Sorry about that! Here's what we are going to be having this week:

Monday - Hubby and I are going out to celebrate the anniversary of the day he proposed! 16 years!

Tuesday - Mahlouba

Wednesday - Roasted Chicken,

Thursday - Pasta Primavera

Friday - Cauliflower Soup

Saturday - Garlic Broiled Chicken

Sunday - Potato Lover's Salad

And, yeah, I've got no recipes links in there. Sorry. Like I said, it's late and my mind is fried. But if you click over there on the right where it says, "Recipes" you'll find tons of yummy stuff.

For even more yummy stuff, be sure to hop on over to The Organizing Junkie . She, of course, will have the links. Because she is smart. And good. And, of course and above all else, organized.

Come back next week and I promise to do better!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

LOL!! I Promise This is the LAST "What-We're-Doing-For-School-This-Year" Post

Ok. For those of you who don't know me, I'm not normally like this.

Normally, I have things planned out two years in advance and know exactly where I'm going and what my goals for the kids education are.

Not this year.

I know that I already posted about what we are doing this year. Well, it's changed. Again. But this time, I've already paid and sunk money into my decision, so there will be no more waffling.

We ended up ordering Switched On Schoolhouse. With a little tweaking, their grade-level curriculum will work perfectly for us. The changes we made are ordering Algebra 1 (rather than Pre-Algebra) for Emily and ordering 7th grade History and Geography (rather than 6th grade which focuses on ancient cultures which we did this year) for Daniel.

We've used Switched On Schoolhouse for science before and the kids really enjoyed the interactive format and I enjoyed the ease and simplicity of grading and record-keeping.

Since it doesn't seem as though reading literature is a big part of the English courses, I've given the kids a list of reading material. They each had to choose 4 books from the list. Here are their choices:

Emily
  • Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
  • Roots, by Alex Haley
  • And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie
  • Romeo & Juliet/West Side Story, by William Shakespeare/Irving Shulman

Daniel

  • Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
  • Watership Down, by Richard Adams

We'll still be using Rosetta Stone to continue our Arabic lessons. The funny thing is you'd think living in the Persian Gulf area would be the reason we'd want to learn Arabic. Nothing could be further from the truth. We'd be better off learning Hindi to help living here. But since Hubby is Arab, we want them to be better able to communicate with their extended family as well as embrace this part of their heritage.

Now, that's it. I promise. No more changes.

Unless I get that Rainbow Resource Center catalog . . .

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Stray Thought Saturday

Well, I've been kind of quiet the last couple of days. Just trying to catch up with life, you know?


Thursday is my big cleaning and errand-running day, trying to prepare the home for Hubby's day off on Friday. I'm usually swamped on that day trying to get everything done before he arrives home. I really like the house to be in tip-top shape for his day off. Then Friday is our one day with him, so blogging isn't top on my list of priorities, know what I mean? That's one of the worst things about our move - that Hubby only gets one day off. He's trying to get into a position in the corporate offices - which get off two days and, as a bonus, are only 5 minutes from our house. It would be so great if it happens!

I hate ants. Really. Hate is not to strong of a word.

I'm going to try to post some updated pictures of the house sometime this week. We've finally gotten the living room finished. Wel, for now. Hopefully I'll find something I like better and we'll move this set up to the loft eventually. But I'm just really bad at doing photos and then uploading them, etc., etc. That would also be why I haven't followed up on your tag, Stacey. But my sink? It wouldn't have been shiny.

I'm looking for book recommendations. With no Christian literature being available here, I'd love to pick up plenty of books while I'm in the States. In fact, I'm compiling an order with CBD right now. Anyone have anything really good to recommend?

I read today an article about a Saudi judiciary official who issued a statement saying that's it's perfectly alright for Muslims to kill owners of television networks that broadcast "immoral tv." There was a Turkish soap opera, "Noor" which was huge over here (it ended a couple of weeks ago). We're talking everyone scheduled their lives around it. Even I started watching it while I was in Jordan. (Yes, it was all dubbed into Arabic. No, I couldn't understand it. Yes, I still watched it. Such is my life here.) There was a huge amount of controversy, because it portrayed a contemporary Muslim family dealing with contemporary problems - children born out of wedlock, abortion, suicide attempts, etc. Religious leaders were in an uproar. This statement that it's ok to kill those who promote such shows is clearly linked to this. Hey, if we don't agree with someone, let's kill them! Islam is, at heart, a peaceful religion, my foot.

Well, that's it. I'm all out of random thoughts. Off to feed the kids dinner and then meet Hubby at the gym. The sad thing is with all this working out, I'm not really seeing much of a difference. Some might think I would need to alter my food habits. Eventually. Eventually.
Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thankful Thursday


Last week, being too overwhelmed on Thursday with errands and chores, I missed writing my Thankful Thursday post. I was determined not to do that again this week. I want this blog to bring glory to God and one of the main ways I do that is by offering Him thanks. Even when the pressures of life are swirling around me, I want to take the time to stop and be thankful. So often we lose sight of that and the "busy-ness" takes precedence over our relationship with our Creator.

This week, I have no big and major things to be grateful for, just small and minor things! But I am grateful for them even so.

  • I'm grateful that the womens' study at my church on quiet times has finally started. I've been waiting all summer and just from the first day I am being so blessed!
  • I'm grateful that one of my friends here in Doha gave us some Pepto-Bismol (which you can't get here). One of my kids gets upset tummies pretty often and this is the best thing for it.
  • I'm grateful that Hubby took the kids out and let them buy their own cell phones yesterday. I was planning on buying them each one at Christmas and now I don't have to - and they paid!!!
  • I'm grateful that Ike didn't go to Miami, but I'm praying hard for those in its path.
  • I'm grateful that Doha is finally starting to feel like home. It's been a long six months, and it's not "home" yet, but it's definitely getting better.
  • I'm grateful that my mom has been properly diagnosed of a condition that was causing her lots of pain and is now experiencing relief.
  • I'm grateful we are going for a visit to the States in just over 6 weeks. I can't wait!
  • I'm grateful that a friend of mine from Miami moved out to Arizona and we are going to get to touch base while I'm there.
  • I'm grateful that God is organizing my life and, while I can't see the master plan, I know that it's all for my best and I can trust Him.

God is so good to me. I have nothing to complain about.

(Well, there are those pesky ants on my kitchen floor.)

For more Thankful Thursday participants, be sure to visit Iris!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Creative Counterpart - The Beautiful Blueprint


Welcome to our first look at Linda Dillow's wonderful book, Creative Counterpart. It is a book which has had a profound impact on me - not only as a wife to my husband, but as a mother to my kids and as a woman in general. Since I first read it and began applying it's principles, I've become more organized, have learned to set (and keep!) my priorities and I've become a better wife to my husband.

My hope is that by working through this book together, we can encourage each other, as well as learn from each other. The women of the blogosphere are an amazing group, you know! I've learned so much from so many. I look forward to this being a very interactive study with lots of healthy discussion.

Chapter one of the book, "The Honeymoon Disaster," deals with the truth that many of us go into marriage with rose-colored glasses. We don't really know what to expect, but having grown up on a diet of fairy tales, soap operas, and romance novels, we have a vague impression of what "romance" is: passion, drama, flowers and champagne. We are usually prepared for real life - bills, dishes and diapers. (Isn't it funny how you never see anyone in a soap opera doing anything related to managing a home??)

When things don't live up to the standard we are expecting, we begin to doubt our relationship and even blame ourselves. After all, if we were beautiful enough, exciting enough, clever enough, then surely our husbands would constantly be making grand gestures for us - fighting dragons, sending huge bouquets of flowers, writing poetry and singing us love songs. Right?

If you are dissatisfied with your marriage, my prayer is that this book will help you learn to accept real life - with all the wonder and promise that it holds! We will talk about relating to our husbands in new ways. We will look at ways to make our lives full of purpose and meaning. But first, let's look at what God says a woman's life should look like.


God lays it all out for us in the 31st chapter of the book of Proverbs. It's the "beautiful blueprint" referred to in the chapter title. Now, don't be discouraged because you don't live up to all that the
Proverbs 31 woman is. Sometimes, we get intimidated by the audacity of a goal and choose, foolishly, to not to even attempt it. This reasoning is driven by fear. God has gifted each one of us with ALL that we need to be godly women, wives and mothers. Let's move forward with a spirit of boldness and not one of fear. You can be the woman God wants you to be!

I pray that you are not trapped by the light that today's world often presents homemakers in. Too often, the word housewife or homemaker is associated with the word drudgery. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't get all giddy when my showers are sparkling. Nor do I spend time discussing with my best friend the merits of the new laundry detergent I tried. There's way more to my life than cleaning! But the media seems to think that we have nothing else to get excited about. Wrong!!

We are blessed to given an opportunity to have our own personal mission field, right inside our own home. We don't need to go to the ghetto or to Africa to have a powerful impact on someone's life. While those are both great ideas and, if you believe God is leading you to do it that's wonderful, don't be fooled into thinking that you don't have anything constructive to offer. The raising of godly children can have a powerful impact on this world.

Sure there are frustrated housewives. Just as their are frustrated engineers (I'm married to one!), frustrated athletes, frustrated data processors. "But the frustration does not stem from the nature of the work; rather it comes from the boredom inevitable in any job done poorly or unimaginatively." (Creative Counterpart, page 5)

When we recognize that being a creative counterpart is a calling, a vocation, we understand that we are making a decision to embrace that for all it's worth. We should work and learn and grow just as hard as if we were in the corporate world and aiming for the president's office. This premise is what lead me to write my post on
being a professional homemaker.

But let's step back and look at the Proverbs 31 woman again. Notice that there is no description of who she is or what she looks like. God focuses on her inner qualities. Most of them can be boiled down to just a few words.


Trustworthy


Can your husband trust you? I don't just mean with regards to being faithful or telling the truth What I mean is can he be confident in the knowledge that you will "do him good and not evil all the days of her life?"

Does he know that when he leaves for work in the morning, if you've chosen to be a stay at home mom, that when he returns he will find order and peace in the home and amongst the family? Or does he return to chaos? Does he have confidence in your ability to manage your household affairs.

Does he know that you will live within the budget you have set together, or does he have to worry that you are spending money foolishly, without concern for your goals as a couple?

Perhaps most importantly, does he know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you will never bring dishonor to his name? Have you made a decision in your heart not to use him as the butt of jokes? Not to confide in a best friend about all his faults?

Have you determined in your heart that you will do everything for his benefit? Consider every word and action and thing about what will build him up and help him. Phillipians 2:4 tells us,

"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."


Industrious

Are you willing to work hard, or do you look for excuses to avoid unpleasant tasks? Our Scripture tells us that the Proverbs 31 woman, "works willingly with her hands." Willingly. I know that this is somethign I struggle mightily with. I don't wake up every morning with loads of energy, just dying to tackle my household chores. But we see here that our attitude matters.

1 Peter 4: 10-11 is clear - whatever we do, we are to do it to the glory of God.

"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."

If we work joyfully for the Lord, knowing that we are doing His will, we serve by His strength. This lets us know that our work is not just mindless, repetitive drudgery. Yes, the dishes will need to be done again tomorrow. Yes, the baby will need to be changed in a couple of hours. Yes, the laundry never stops piling up. But still we are doing this in His power and for His glory.

And now we come to a verse that I have been convicted to memorize:

"She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness."

This is a challenge for me because, as I've said before, I'm a lazy, self-indulgent person. I struggle with discipline in every area of my life. But this verse challenges me and serves as a constant reminder of the watchfulness that I need to exhibit in my home.

Organized

I used to tell myself that I just wasn't an organized person. And, to an extent, that's true. Maybe some people are born with that organizing gene. I clearly was not.

But I have learned over the years that being organized is really a decision of my will. It's taking that extra time to prepare for the unplanned for. It's being willing to work a little harder now to reap the benefits of that work tomorrow.

For instance, menu planning and scheduling household chores took me some time to develop. Quite a bit of time. But laying out those plans and then implementing them, have given my home an orderly routine. Instead of coming home to chaos and no dinner, Hubby now (usually!) comes home to a neat home and a hot dinner waiting.

Assigning a place for everything also helps greatly, as does decluttering as much as possible. When we just stuff things wherever is convenient for the moment, not only do we make a mess for ourselves to clean up later, but we won't be able to find it when we need it!

Being organized often frees up more time and allows us to see our schedules more clearly. Be sure to take note of the Proverbs 31 woman, who "considered" whether or not to buy that field. Before you take on any new endeavors, seriously take the time to think about whether or not you have the time and resources it will require. Don't feel pressured to say yes - the best answer is, "Let me pray about it and talk to my husband." No one can argue with that!

Loving

Finally, the Proverbs 31 woman was loving. When she spoke, it was with love and wisdom. How often is our speech kind, loving and wise? How often is what we say influenced by our emotions and blurted out in anger or fear?

Before we speak or act, we must learn to discipline ourselves to think about things. Even hard things can be said with love and kindness. Many a child, and husband, has been driven away by a mother's harsh words and actions. Determine to be a loving influence in your home.

I've heard that the mother is the "thermostat" of a home. She sets the tone, deciding if it will be a warm and loving home or a cold and distant one. Make the right choice.

As I said before, we have been given our families as a gift. They are our mission field. No one else is responsible for them - for their care, for training them, for discipling them. Only we as the wife and mother of a family, have the God-given joy of ministering to them on a daily, life-long basis.

* * * * * * *
The key to all of this, to the Proverbs 31 woman's success, is that she feared the Lord. When we are in right relationship with Him, everything else will fall into place if we allow it. We will make the choice to honor Him above all else. If we miss this, we miss the whole point.

For our homework, we were to read through Proverbs 31 numerous times, each time looking for different aspects of a woman's life - as a wife, a mother, a homemaker, etc. I'll leave that to you to do on your own. But the second part of the homework was to write a personal goal for each of the priorities in your life for this year. Try to make them action-oriented and specific.

God
- My committment is to get to the point where I am having quiet time more often than not. To this end, I'm taking a Bible study course in this beginning this week.

Husband
- Present a cheerful attitude and willing spirit when he asks me to do something for him, rather than grumbling and complaining.

Children
- Meet with each child weekly for individual Bible studies.

Homemaking Abilities
- Conquer laziness by not turning on tv or computer until my work is finished.

Yourself
- Break my late night eating habit by not eating anything after 7:30 p.m.

Outreach to Others
- Continue to minister to women through my blog (smile - I hope!) and investigate ways to help the immigrant laborers here in Doha.

* * * * * * * *

Whew!! That was pretty long, wasn't it? If you are still here, thank you! I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to comment. If you are joining in on the study, please post a link to your own post below in Mr. Linky. I look forward to reading your take!!



Menu Plan Monday






, I was all excited about the start of Ramadan, the holy month of Islam.

I thought it would be great to have Hubby home at 2:00, to have it be like their form of Christmas.

Uh, yeah.

Now, we are not Muslim, but we do live in a devoutly Muslim country. Fasting (in public anyway) is strictly enforced. That means that no restaurants are open until after sundown. Grocery stores are open at strange hours. Many things don't open at all until after sundown, and EVERYTHING is closed during the afternoon, from, say 1:00 to 8:00 - malls, stores, anything fun. Even at our gym, the water cooler is covered up and can't be used until after dark.

So, what am I left with? I'm left with 2 hours less to get all my daily work done before Hubby gets home, plus trying to get the main meal of the day ready by two. Then, when he IS home, there's nothing to do. Nowhere to go. B-O-R-I-N-G!!

Somehow last week, I got off schedule and bought ingredients for things that weren't on my plan or forgot to look at my plan or something! I was all confused! Anyways, extremely late, this is my plan for this week's menu's:

Monday - Tostadas

Tuesday - Baja Beef & Beans with Tex-Mex Rice

Wednesday - Chicken Pot Pie

Thursday - Chicken Parmesan

Friday - Vegetable Stew

Saturday - Mahlouba (an Arabic dish of rice, meat and fried cauliflower)

Sunday - Chicken Stir Fry

I've never made the chicken pot pie before and I'm a little nervous about doing a pie crust. Sadly no ready-made crusts over here (that I've found anyways). Still, we are looking forward to a yummy week. For more delish menu plans, be sure to check out The Organizing Junkie!

Oh, hey, if you are a married woman (or thinking of becoming one), you may want to check back in tomorrow. We are beginning an online study of the book Creative Counterpart, an excellent tool to help you be the best woman, wife, mother that you can be! Join us!!
Sunday, September 7, 2008

Keeping Your Focus as a Wife

As I've mentioned before, we as wives often tend to give our husbands the leftovers. Other things press in on us - the kids, the house, an outside job, social responsibilities...

But we must always remember, as discussed here by Barbara Rainey of FamilyLife, where our focus is to be - on our husbands and our marriage. Here's her take on it:

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Facebook - Friend or Foe?

So, you could say I've been a little obsessed with Facebook lately. In fact, that's part of why I haven't blogged in the last couple of days. All I've been thinking about is who can I search for, what groups can I join, who can I add as a friend.

As I drug myself away this morning to go do the dishes, teach my children, you know, live life, I started thinking about it. Why was I so motivated to find these people that, in many cases, I knew a lifetime ago? Why was I so hurt that the boy from middle school didn't remember me (Shocker!!)? Why did it bother me that one friend posted on another person's wall and not mine?

And I started laughing to myself at how lame I was. Craving the approval of others, finding my self-worth in who remembered me from 25 years ago. Hoping that people will see my list of friends and groups and applications and think, "Wow, she's got it all!"

In reality, I don't have it all. I argue with my husband, my kids misbehave (and apparently at times forget how to do division), my house is often a mess, I'm more than a little overweight, and I'm a big-time sinner all around. And yet...

And yet, I am saved by grace. I am redeemed by the Son of God, who considered me worthy enough to sacrifice Himself for. I am loved by the Creator of the universe, who know all about me - the good, the bad and the ugly.

So, for now, I'm backing off Facebook. Oh, I'll still check to see if any true friends are online, just to catch up. But I'm no longer going to seek out people from my past to see if I was memorable enough. I'm not going to worry any more about what people think of my status or my friend count.

See, I already know where I stand.

p.s. I'm not the only one with Facebook issues - check out Jess' post along the same lines.
Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sarah Palin - What Do You Think?


Well, now that Governor Sarah Palin has made her acceptance speech, I'm curious to know what you think. I'm not a huge political animal, but I do have my opinions.

It seems as though there is all manner of discussion going around about Gov. Palin -- whether or not she can balance both being the Vice-President and having 5 children, whether or not she's a good mother for running for office at a time when her family needs her (during the pregnancy and impending nuptials of her daughter, as well as her son's deployment to Iraq, as well as having an infant with special needs).

Personally I think it's atrocious that these questions are being asked. We would NEVER ask these questions of any man running for office. Never. Why is it ok for a man to put his career as a priority, but not for a woman? And particularly when that career offers more than the mere ability to make money, but offers a real chance to make the world a better place for said family? Why, when a man commits his life to a life of public service is he commended as a hero, but a woman is dismissed as a cold-hearted...well, you fill in the blank.

I think it's time that we women stop being our own worst enemies. We homemakers look at women who work and think they are taking the easy way out. Or working women look at homemakers and think they are taking the easy way out. Why can't we all just get along?

All women, regardless of marital status, mothers or not, homemakers or working women deserve the opportunity to feel unjudged for their decisions. We deserve to feel as though we have the right to make decisions based on what is best for ourselves and our families, without criticism from those who don't even know us.

Personally, I am thrilled with Sen. McCain's choice. I think that Gov. Palin represents what many of my friends and I have been saying for years - things would be much different if moms ran the world. From her speech, she seems to be someone who cuts through the nonsense and gets things done.

Private jet? No, thank you. Private chef? Thanks, but no thanks.

This is a woman who got involved in politics in the first place (beginning with her local PTA) to make the world a better place for her kids. Isn't that what all moms want?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

WFMW - Backwards Edition!!

Thank you, Shannon, for letting us have another Backwards Edition of WFMW! This is a chance for all of us to ask those pesky questions that have us baffled.

My questions today is about roasting pans. Particularly the non-stick kind.

Except mine seem to have lost all their non-stickiness.

Seriously, everytime I use one of them, I feel like I'd rather throw out the whole thing than try to clean it. They never come completely clean. I don't want to use anything too abrasive on it, for fear of scratching the non-stick surface, but just scrubbing with my sponge and Dawn doesn't get off all the gunk.

Any tips for me? Before I give into my urge to toss them in the dumpster and am reduced to cooking chickens in a pot like my grandmother (but then they come out with no crispy crust...scratch that!)?

Thanks in advance for any help!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Creative Counterpart Study Starts Next Week

Just a quick reminder that next week, we'll be starting our study in Linda Dillow's book, Creative Counterpart.

I'm so excited to be sharing this book with you and really looking forward to hearing what you have to say. Things like this area always more beneficial when there are more voices contributing to the mix.

If you haven't gotten your book yet, now's the time. Next Tuesday we will be discussing chapters one and two (chapter one is really more of an introduction). Chapter two is entitled, "The Beautiful Blueprint," and looks at the role model of the Proverbs 31 woman. While many of us feel intimidated by her, this isn't God's intent. The description is there so that we have something to aim for. If we have nothing to aim for, that's what we'll get - nothing.

I'll be putting up a Mr. Linky (if I can figure it out - LOL!) so that you can write your own post on the subject and link up here. I know there are only a few of us planning to do the study at this point, but that's ok. I think it will be beneficial to us, as well as to anyone who reads the posts.

So, get your book, get your homework done (in the back of the book) and be thinking about how it impacts your life.

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