Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sweet Prayers



Tonight Drew's prayer went like this:


"Thank you Jesus for my room,

Thank you for the movie that mommy

watched with me about Joseph and his dreams.

I love movies, maybe mommy will let me watch another one tomorrow?

(Said with hands folded, eyes peeking open to see my reaction.)

Thank you for my books, for the grouchy lady bug and

for mommy who read me 2 stories because she said only 1.

Thank you for my mommy and daddy and brother gabe, oh and dog kitty.

A...men!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving List 2008

How great is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you,
which you bestow in the sight of men
on those who take refuge in you.
Psalms: 31:19

Our family spent the day thanking the Lord for His "indescribable gifts." While many spend this holiday mourning the loss of loved ones we are simple thankful to be together for another year! We loved waking up late, talking together as a family, reading the Thanksgiving story (part of it anyway!), eating a yummy brunch, and taking our family photo's. Oh, we can't forget loosing Gabe outside in the backyard tonight too! So here is the Williams 2008 family thanksgiving list:



  • Drew is thankful for Jesus, his church, his school and his wonderful teachers Andrea and Misty. He is also thankful for his friends and for cookies!

  • We're thankful for the wonderful home the Lord has provided where we can raise our two boys and truly enjoy fellowship together. I am especially grateful that we converted the dining room which we rarely used into a library. It is now a wonderful room to relax and read in. I'm also thankful for my skilled husband who built the most beautiful shelves which hold our massive supply of books!

  • We're thankful for our jobs which allow us to give generously and provide for our children. Many we know are loosing or have lost their jobs, which has inspired us to live on less! I'm thankful that John is very loved at a certain school and that they ask him to substitute a lot.

  • I'm so thankful for a husband who leads us with great faith and servant hood. Lord thank you for this godly man who depends on You for wisdom and direction.

  • My boys, they are such a blessing! While many children in our days are disobedient and disrespectful, I'm so grateful for two children who are learning to obey and respect authority. They certainly aren't perfect, just in process like all of us. They have such a heart to serve and to listen to instruction; their joys to be around and their excitement for learning is so contagious. It is so wonderful to enjoy being their mommy, when many hate to spend time with their children, I'm thankful for the influence God has provided me for this very short time in their lives - Lord may I do it with vision and focus, with my eyes fixed on You!

  • I'm grateful for my camera, it captures memories, emotions, and expressions that otherwise I would have forgotten. Pictures allow me to look back at where we have come from and look ahead to the eternal blessings in store for us in heaven.

  • Speaking of heaven, I'm so grateful for Drew's interest in heaven and Jesus. Just yesterday while reading our catechism book he exclaimed that he needed to go to God's castle to ask him to forgive him. It was so special to witness his face when I reminded him that Jesus is omnipresent - everywhere! He was glad that Jesus could see him even when others could not, but really wanted to go visit that castle so he could see it for himself. The curiosity of an almost 4 year old daily reminds me of my #1 job as a mommy - to point him to His Savior, so someday Drew will ask Jesus to live in his heart forever.

  • We're thankful for our marriage, it seems to grow deeper and more intimate each year of marriage. I can't believe that we're only a month away from our 6th anniversary. Though the last few years have been our most difficult, we're so committed to each other that those trials just remind us of our commitment we made on January 11th. I know 2009 will bring us closer together in the Lord than ever before - thank you John for your diligent prayer times. You have certainly shown that when you put your mind to something you can accomplish anything! I'm so proud of you for choosing to bless our marriage in daily sacrificial prayer.

  • We're grateful for coupons and our heart to live simpler and on less income. It is a great challenge to choose to live on less, it is also very fun! It is also fun to see the progress it brings towards paying down student loans!


Lord Jesus ~ With 2008 wrapping up, I'm patiently going to enjoy each remaining day, for each day is a gift to share, not something we're promised. Fall is my favorite time of year, nothing smells greater than the crisp, cool fresh air each evening reminding me of togetherness, intimacy, and God's sacrificial love for mankind. Jesus' death on the cross was the most gruesome and horrific event in all of history - the killing of a perfect man sent by his Father to remind us of God's love. Of all the things I'm thankful for, Your sacrificial love for me goes beyond using the word "Thankful." There are no words, but somehow all the words woven throughout the Bible; your love letter to the lost, evoke Your love and unchanging character. You never fail me and are always looking for those lost prodigals who need to come home - whom I was not too long ago. Thank you Lord for never giving up and always pointing us to the death of your son Jesus so that we may find eternal joy with You. Amen

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tooth #3



My boys have the worst time getting their teeth! The past week Gabe's front upper gums have been all swollen with a black and blue hole in the center of the gum. Poor thing, finally this morning the top right cut through. Gabe is noticeable happier, but I'm sure his top left will now start to come down. So if your keeping track, we're 1 year old and now have 3 teeth! If Gabe teethes like Drew, we're in for a long year!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Gabe's 1 Year Old Party


Daddy is home and we celebrated Gabe's 1st Birthday today. Gabe loved eating his cake and playing with his Mayflower boat and pilgrims. I am so embarrassed, Gabe fell in the bathtub on Thursday night and ended up with a tiny scratch on his eye. It really didn't look too bad and he only cried for maybe 10 seconds, but now he has a huge shiner. All his birthday photo's look like we beat him. So sad!




Gabe went in for his 1 year checkup and weighed in at 22 pounds 12 ounces (50%). So big! He is 27 1/2 inches tall (-5% ). His head circumference is 18 inches (25-50%). His tummy issues hadn't gone away so the doctor suggested removing milk from his diet and replacing it with soy. Yes, it worked! He is back in his crib. He should only be off dairy a month or so, just to give his tummy and intestines some time to heal from the nasty stomach bug. I'm so relieved he is back to sleeping 12 hours!

It is so nice having Daddy home! We all missed him so much! John surprised me on Friday with a trip to the fabric store with his interior decorator and seamstress. He works for both of them building whatever their clients need. Anyhow, he had saved enough to surprise me with custom window treatments for the down stairs! I was way out of my league at the fabric store, it was totally overwhelming, but having expert people to tell me what works and what doesn't was really helpful! I really was out of place, each print I was thinking to myself, "What would this look like with little finger pudding prints all over it!" We actually came up with some ideas that will look great, be functional, and be out of reach of dirty hands! I am so excited with the fabrics I picked! They should be done near the end of December! John is so sweet! The whole time I was away he watched the boys and never once called to ask when I'd be home.


We're getting ready for Thanksgiving! I'll post our annual list soon!

There are many more Birthday pictures on the photo page to the right!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mommy By Day....




One year ago tonight I sat in bed cuddling my little man, kissing on him and talking to him while he gazed up at me. I memorized his face, prayed for his faith and future spouse! John was there too, sleeping away on the uncomfortable plastic cushions they call a fold out bed! Thank you Lord we only had to stay 1 night!

Tonight, its late and I'm exhausted. This whole "Mommy by Day, Accountant by Night" has me very busy and exhausted. I love both of my jobs, but being a mommy takes the cake. I'm so grateful for the Lord providing me a work from home, challenging, dependable job of almost 10 years - my I sound old! But, today I just wanted an evening to myself. No numbers, no reports, no reviewing checks and applying cash and finding those pennies that somehow wander off. I wanted to go back to 11/19/07 and cuddle with my little man. Oh, for Gabe's cuddling days when he peacefully slept in my arms or next to me in bed.

Tonight I tried getting cuddles, but Gabe would have nothing to do with it! Off to the closet for night # 6 of sleeping in the car seat. So, it is 11:00 pm and this accountant is tired, but looking forward to relief arriving tomorrow at 2:30 pm on United flight XXX. I can't wait for you to come home honey, this is my last night to sleep alone and steal your comfy pillow!

1 Year Ago This Moment.....


John and I were eating breakfast at IHOP talking about how our life was about to change! Then we drove across the street to the hospital and Gabe was born at 3:33 pm. Oh, how our lives did change! Those times went by too quickly. I can't believe it has been a whole year. Now my little baby is walking all over the house!

Remembering



Tonight I sit, alone, wondering,
What would my life have been,
Had grace not swooped down,
Covered this heart of sin
Changed me from within?


One year ago tonight I sat,
Alone, wondering,
What will my life be like,
With the blessing of two sons?
A quiver full of young hearts
Soon to become men,
Will it change me?



One year ago I didn't know,
How one little life of joy,
Could bless my heart,
Change my life of structure,
Through deep soul searching,
Deep pressures,
Only God knows the
growing,
wrestling,
praying,
stirring
within my soul.


You, my son challenged my faith,
You put pressure where I needed to grow,
Growing from 3 to 4 was more than painful,
That pain, more than just birth pains,
Forced lives to change,
Forced habits to change,
Forced my mind to change,
Forced holiness to sprout from within.



Thank you Lord for grace and life ,
the grace only you can give,
the life only you can create,
the love of raising this child,
Brings me to my knees.


May I Shepherd this little heart,
May I make You lovely in his eyes,
May his heart learn of of your merciful grace,
May he grow into a man of holiness!
May he be a man of the Word -
Living it
Breathing it
Memorizing it
Obeying it
Praying it faithfully.


Protect his mind,
Protect his thoughts,
Protect the delicate heart that beats the breath of life,
Protect him from the evil one,
Protect him from complacency,
That Sunday only faithlessness,
May he abide in You alone,
The Author and Giver of life.

Gabriel Allan - God's Able Bodied One

Monday, November 17, 2008

Family Talent!

I'm not a big Christian Rap fan... who am I kidding, I'm not a rap fan at all. But, I wanted to brag on my very talented Brother-In-Law and post his most recent music video production. Ruben produced the entire video! The song is doing well on the Christian Rap charts so maybe he will get to go to the Dove Awards if the music video does well? So, forward the link to anyone you know who is into Rap! I'm very impressed with the quality - Ruben is so professional! Wow!

Weekend Without Daddy

We survived the weekend and had some fun! Drew and I made a Thanksgiving Can out of an old oatmeal container and our own hand prints. Drew loved it and really got involved - which is unusual for him! He loved helping trace Gabe's hand print and then gluing the paper hand prints onto the can. When it was time to write down what we are thankful for Drew said, "Jesus and God, wait, Jesus is God.... so I'm thankful for Jesus!" I love watching his mind wrap around God's truth; he was remembering the Catechism that says,

Q. "How many God's are there."
A. "There is only 1 True God."
Q. "How many persons are there in the Godhead?"
A. "Three - Father, Sons, Holy Spirit"

We baked pumpkin bread this weekend! Drew loves it so I think we'll have to make another batch for when Daddy comes home. We also cleaned out and organized the pantry and fridge. Most of the weekend we were home, we went over to my mom's a few times and had dinner - it was so nice not cooking! We also went to Cabella's on Friday, we took my Nana, and Drew escorted us around the whole store. It was fun watching him marvel at all the life size stuffed animals. He especially loved the fish pond with the Moose in the center. Drew's been a little book worm, so we spent some time reading on Saturday. He loved reading next to mommy and I was able to get half a chapter in!

Gabe is still sick, but he didn't wake with a fever this morning. I think he has the same virus he had while camping. He is very gassy and his stomach is bloated. He is still sleeping in the car seat, positioned in the closet. Poor little guy, his face is so pale and his eyes are all red. His nose is still a faucet and now his nose and lips are chapped from all the mucus. I was going to take him in today, but since his fever broke I think I'll wait it out another day. I hope he is on the mends.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Art of Simplicity (Part 6)


Goal #4: Simplify by getting out of debt and learning to live with less. The Bible says in Proverbs 22:7, “Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender.” God doesn’t want his people enslaved, so it’s crucial that debts get paid off. Here are some additional ideas to simplifying your life as well as save money so you can get out of debt:

:: PETS - Here are some statistics on how much our loving pets cost: small dogs cost on average 800.00 per year, medium dogs 1,115.00, large dogs 1,500, Cats are 640.00 per year, guinea pigs 645.00, rabbits are also 645.00 annually. So here are some cost saving tools: Give your pets their own shots, medicine; flea control can even be ordered online at a fraction of the cost that vets charge. Take advantage of the city’s cheap vaccination program – I think I paid 5.00 for a license and a rabies vaccine for our dog this past Spring (good for 3 years), through the Fort Worth vaccination program – they have them quarterly. Also, Keller Feed has a vaccination program they do each quarter on Sunday or Saturday which is fairly cheap. When I picked up our cat’s shots a few months back, the “shot” wasn’t even a shot, it was a dropper that you put in their eyes and nose.

:: SELL & De-clutter - Get rid of things you have not used in a year (craigslist is a great, free, place to sell all kinds of things, including cars). We recently sold some cloth diapers, our dining room set, baby bedding, tables, and our car! It is proven that those who live with lots of clutter also tend to be more depressed. So, get rid of unnecessary items and clean out the closets, God does not want us controlled by our things. In America our stuff has replaced the golden calf as “Idol worship.” We may not physically bow down to our possessions, but we sure invest tons of time cleaning, buying, paying interest and hoarding our stuff! Matthew 6:19 states, "Stop storing up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moths and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.” I once heard that if your using and caring for your stuff it will not rust or mold! So, if you have things rusting and molding - get rid of them. In our home we have a 1 year rule - If we haven’t used it in a year, then we don’t need it (Doesn't pertain to the garage, that's John's space!). I have a permanent bag in the laundry room, which is our “charity” basket. I’m always looking for things to donate and let others use. Plus, keep track of those donation receipts! When claiming donations on your taxes, claim fair market value, so if I sent a pair of jeans in fairly good condition to the Goodwill, I’ll get to claim about 6.00 in charitable contributions. The donations will add up quickly! Each year we probably donate about 600-800 worth of un-needed stuff and get to claim every penny (just make sure to keep the donation receipt)!

:: CLOTHING & BOOKS - Shop for clothing and children’s books at the Goodwill (on Rufe Snow is the best one I’ve been to), that specific store gets the Southlake/N Richland Hills donations, so you can get children’s clothes (Gap, Gymboree) for 1.99 or 1.00 of half price days, it is quite a bargain. We love books and find them there at .50 (soft cover) 1.00 (hardback), I’ve even found new items that have never been opened. The best days to go are Tuesday – Friday’s at 10:00 am, look on movable racks first - that holds the clothes that haven’t been rifled through yet. I also use this as a training time for my kids, since they were little I would allow them to take home 1 toy (they are all marked between .25 cents -3 dollars) if they behave and stay where mommy can see them. It works great and it doesn’t cost a lot.

:: GIFTS - When purchasing for Birthday’s or Christmas check online sales and search for coupon codes. I purchased our kids Birthday and Christmas gifts off the Fisher-Price website just last week and used a 15% off coupon code I searched for it on retailmenot.com, they show all the current coupon codes per website. In the end, my Fisher Price Online Shopping Trip was like getting free shipping, 15% savings, plus I knew the items were in stock and saved money on gas and time! Places like Gymboree and Children’s place discount all their inventory at the end of each season, living in Texas there really are only two seasons, so buying summer clothes in August/September means you can still wear them, or think ahead and buy bigger sizes for the following year. Also, sign up with JC Pennies or keep a look out for their fliers, they are always sending me 10.00 off 10.00 – that is like getting a 10.00 gift card in the mail (which is how I bought those shirts we priced earlier)! Remember to only spend 10.00, those stores are anticipating that you will spend more money while you’re there. Hit your neighbors up for their 10.00 JC Pennies or Kohl's cash if their not going to use them, my neighbors just slip them in my mailbox!

:: If you do a lot of shopping online, check out Ebates, they give you a % back if you link to a store through their site. I earn about 100.00 a year just for checking on their site to see if I can save some money. They also have special deals and coupons that aren't always posted online. They also give you a 10.00 gift card or 5.00 cash just for signing up. If you do sign up, use my e-mail address (melissa@drewscloset.com) as a referral and I'll get an additional 5.00!

:: CONSOLIDATE - Check on the cost of phones, our friends recently combined their home and cell phones through Verizon and it saved them 50.00 per month. Call your cable company and see if there is a cheaper plan out there with the same services.

:: CRAFT IDEAS - If you end up making your own detergent, then the Borax you use will also help save money in the play dough/flubber area. I make my own flubber and play dough, which the kids love! It costs me about .25 cents a batch verses 1.00 or so for each play dough carton.

In summary, living a frugal life is a transformation of your mind. Remember that regardless of which side of the economic scale you are in, the most important place to be in safely where the Lord wants you - free from materialism but not addicted to saving money. You need to be able to find a middle and balanced lifestyle. As mom’s, it’s our job to be keepers of the home, so if hard economic times have come to your address, have fun experimenting with frugal ideas, involve your kids in the process, inspire your family to live on less and enjoy life more! Proverbs 17:1 says, “Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it, than a house full of feasting with strife.” So, let’s make out homes fun and free instead of slaves to money and possessions!

Generous Giving (Part 5)

Goal #3: Give above and beyond the tithe (first 10%), through offerings and other fun ways to give of our time and materials. Luke 16:11 says, “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?”



:: With the savings from our groceries we’re now able to bless others! The rest we’ve put towards paying down my husband’s student loan & our mortgage. Those extra payments really add up!

:: Many hygiene products (toothpaste, toothbrushes, lip gloss) I get for free so we have Christmas boxes that we’re making to send to Mexico on November 15th. Christmas boxes are a great way to get the kids involved in the real meaning of Christmas. It is a fun family exercise on giving and it doesn’t have to cost you a lot. These Christmas boxes we’re sending cost around 5.00 each, some of the items like the toothbrushes, soap, and toothpaste were free! I think the shipping will cost more than what we paid for the contents.

:: With some of your grocery savings adopt a child through Compassion International or World Vision. It is only 30.00 a month, it is fun to find a child that has your child’s birth date or is in the same grade or has the same first name. The children can write notes and letters and its really special when your child remembers to pray for your “adopted” child.

:: Put some of the savings away as an offering to whomever God desires. I remember a lady in the grocery store not being able to pay for her groceries. I wish I had responded properly and purchased her groceries, but I didn't. Intentionally setting aside money to bless others makes obeying God's call to be generous even easier.

:: How many times are you driving the car and a homeless person is there asking for food? That verse, “Give to anyone who asks” pops into your head, but you justify it by saying, “they’ll just go buy drugs or beer with the money.” So, you drive on by? Worst of all, your kids are in the back seat asking why we didn’t help, or they say nothing, but internally are confused because we weren’t generous when another was in need. We’ve all been there! Our family struggled with this for a long time, we prayed and asked God what a good solution would be. His answer: 5.00 McDonald’s gift cards! There are McDonald’s everywhere and 5.00 won’t kill the budget once in a while. Best of all your teaching your children through modeling that God’s word is to be obeyed and there is joy in that obedience. We’ve even thought of putting the gift cards into envelopes with a Bible track and the 1-800-NEEDHIM phone #, and maybe a special message from us and the kids. Maybe your kids would enjoy putting some art of their own on the card, then you can all pray that God would send a needy person for you to bless!

:: One fun thing we're doing this year is making a Christmas book, the book has pictures of the things we "did or purchased" for Jesus at Christmas. I plan on laminating the book, wrapping it and putting it under the tree. Then the very first gift we open will be for Jesus, I hope it will be a new tradition. We'll see how year 1 goes, I'm praying it helps the boys see that Christmas is about giving and serving for Christ, not just about receiving presents.

Save on Dining Out (Part 4)


Goal #2: Drop our dining out costs from 125.00 per month to 50.00. We haven’t quiet mastered this one, but are getting close (75.00)

:: Friday family pizza & movie night (5.00 pizza’s from Little Caesars’ or 7.00 pizza’s from Papa Murphy’s, free movies from family video)!

:: Cooking batches of Breakfast burrito’s for those crazy mornings when tempted to stop for fast food, convenience is the #1 reason we eat out, so by making things more convenient at home it cuts down stopping for a quick bite.

:: Use coupons from the mail, or sign up online! When we go out we always find coupons for BIGIF or 20% off your total meal. If you have the press pass it works at many different restaurant. (Spring Creek BBQ mails out a monthly BIGIF coupon).

:: Limit Television, studies show that the more television you watch, the more you consume. Instead turn on a worship CD or listen to a sermon online. Better yet, get rid of cable altogether and save some serious $!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Homemade Laundry Soap




We tried making our own laundry soap about 4 months ago. I am excited to say that it has worked beautifully and saved us some money! I thought I'd pass along the savings and show you just how easy it is. A 5 gallon bucket of liquid laundry soap should make about 100-120 loads and costs about 1.50.

Here are the three easy ingredients:
  • 1 bar of soap - any will do (I use Fels Naptha because I've heard its great on stain removal and with little boys we have a lot of stains!)




  • Washing Soda - the box looks a lot like baking soda, but bigger. It is found in the laundry cleaning section of the store, normally on the top shelf. Not to be confused with baking soda! I had a friend try this recipe and she accidentally used baking soda, it didn't turn out the way she had hoped!


  • Borax - Borax is a "natural mineral: Sodium Borate." It is a white powdery substance that will turn your soap to "goo" as my son calls it. Borax will act as a whitener and deodorizer for your clothes. The brand to look for is 20 Mule Team. It comes in a 76 oz. box. You should be able to locate this in the laundry detergent aisle on the top shelf.


Step 1: Now grate 1 bar of soap and put the grated soap in a pot on the stove with about 4-5 cups of water. Leave until soap has melted and your left with soapy water - usually it takes about 10 minutes on medium heat.




Step 2: Grab a 5 gallon bucket, we use an empty Home Depot or (clean) cat litter bucket, and add 3 gallons of hot water (I used an empty milk jug to measure the first time, then added a marker line to the outside of my bucket to make it super easy to measure the second time around), then add 1 cup of washing soda and 1/2 cup of borax. Stir well!


Step 3: Mix the soapy mixture in the 5 gallon bucket and stir for 2 minutes. Then put on the lid and wait about 24 hours. Slowly the soap will gel together into a lovely "goo" as Drew calls it.

Use 1-2 Cups of laundry soap per large load; I also add oxi-clean to the load if the stains or smells are especially bad - like when we get back from camping and I want to get rid of that smoke smell!


* Side note - mix 50/50 borax and washing soda into a jar and use as dish washer detergent. I used a baby formula container and even used the powder scoop for measuring. If you want a rinse aid - just add vinegar (your dish washer should have a pull out nob that ejects the proper amount when necessary throughout the washing cycles).

* Once the soap had set for 24 hours I poured it in: two Costco liquid laundry dispensers (recycled my previous laundry soap containers). The mixture pours perfectly out of the normal pump spout and there isn't a mess or bucket taking up space in my laundry room.

Drew Quotes

Mommy to Drew, "Are you glad Daddy is home?"Drew replied, "Oh yes, I'm sooo excited!"

Drew to Daddy, "Gabe doesn't know how to play on my level."

"I'm making a castle (out of cans from the pantry)!""Who will live in that castle" Mommy asks?"Well, Jesus lives in my castle, silly mommy!""Mommy, will you kiss this can, it fell off and got a boo boo?""No, Drew that can is dirty, I'm not kissing it." Mommy stated."It's not dirty, it belongs to Jesus! Please kiss it!"So... I kissed the can, I couldn't resist Drew's cuteness!

"Mommy, my tummy is grumbling... that can't be good!"

"Mommy, I think your swell!"

"Mommy, my eyes are raining!"

While Daddy's Away...



While Daddy is away camping and enjoying a guys week in the beautiful NW, we're at home trying to keep things together. I'm filling all my "free" time trying to read the owners manual for my new Nikon D80 and practicing some photography on the kiddo's. The temperature is very chilly which has made the day drag on, little Gabe has also developed a cold and ear infection... or something like that. He has a faucet for a nose and a high fever. Presently he is sleeping in his car seat, in my walk in closet, with the noise machine going -- whatever works! He woke up over 5 times last night and didn't nap this morning. So, for his afternoon nap I tried the car seat and "tada!" he slept. Whenever he is sick he has a hard time sleeping horizontally.


(Drew giving up the motor cycles we bought for our Christmas boxes to Mexico. I'm so proud of him for doing it with a joyful heart.)

I must admit the house is not quiet so boisterous without Daddy coming home and the normal "cheer" isn't in the air. My energy level is really dragging without a pick me up from John! I did manage to ship our Christmas boxes to Mexico today - wow, international shipping is expensive! I also managed a trip to Kroger for great buy on a Thankgiving/Christmas turkey, chicken breasts, and ice cream. I have tons of things to do but no motivation! I can't wait for Daddy to come home!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Northwood


The Glocal Story.

This is a great video our church showed on Sunday about the effects of using the church as the missionary. It is so awesome to see how when Christian's are obedient and have faith - God can change a church as well as nations!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cruising!

Gabe is now cruising! I think he is done crawling, he loves to go anywhere his big brother goes. Today he fell twice and has a black and blue forehead to show for his hard work. He also started to say Mommy - well actually it comes out "Maa," but it still counts!

Drew is still in school two days a week. We go around the table each night and ask what the best and worst parts of everyone's day was. Tonight Drew said the best part was going to school, the worst was coming home. So sad! Our little social man loves to be around children!

I am so excited to say I've finally taken the plunge and bought my first SLR camera! I've been waiting for 2 years for the price on the Nikon D80 to come into my price range. It will be here tomorrow and I can't wait!

John is substituting and loving 4th grade! He was asked to be a long term sub for someone going on maternity leave the end of January. He is very excited that his face is well known around the school and that all the kids and teachers love him. John is set to take his next exam in January for all subjects K-4.

That's about it around here. I'm just busy with work and the boys!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Getting Practical at the Super Market (Part 3)



My husband and I created 3 financial goals that were "problem" areas in our budget. We slowly added different cost saving ideas into our daily lives, here is our first goal - tackling the grocery budget! The other two areas: dining out, and having excess funds set aside for an offering to God will be posted soon!
Goal #1: - drop our grocery budget from 450.00 to 250.00 per month (includes: Diapers, formula, & hygiene products). At the time we radically addressed this, it was early 2008, grocery costs had increased so much that we often went over the 450.00 budget, the final month before our fast we spent 480.00 on groceries! I'd heard of a site where the mother claimed to feed her family of 4 on 35.00 a week! The website is called Money Saving Mom and it has been universal in helping me get our grocery costs down. I also stopped spending 100-150 a month at our favorite wholesale store – Costco. I've learned that bulk is nice, but by using coupons I can stretch 100-150 way farther! Though I'm not dedicated enough to get my groceries down to 35.00 a week like moneysavingmom, I've settled for 50-60 per week - a firm 250.00 per month. I achieved this goal by: Getting a coupon organizer (binder system or envelope) and start carrying it wherever you go, you'll be amazed how much it saves you! Include calculator, pens, scissors, paperclip and a blank pad of paper. Then look everywhere for coupons, sign up for coupons or free samples (free samples always come with more coupons) through the following sites:

  • Proctor & Gamble: (load coupons on Kroger Card)

  • Cellfire: (load coupons on Kroger Card) * this site is new and also has coupons for restaurants you can send to your cell phone

  • Shortcuts: (load coupons on Kroger Card)

  • Vocal Point: a company that sends out free samples for new items, I just received a razor in the mail, plus 5 coupons for additional free razors.

  • A Full Cup: Target printable coupons

  • Freebie's: A site where free web offers are posted (ie: razors, coupons) & other savvy tips for saving money

  • Moneysavingmom.com: A great place to start – a site where great deals and money saving tips are posted

  • The Simple Dollar: Getting out of debt ideas

There are tons of free sites that will do all the work each week for you. If you love to shop at Kroger then find a site that posts each week what deals are at Kroger, or Albertsons, or Target, etc. These very talented bloggers will go through ads and post them online with the appropriate coupons to make that deal. It is similar to the grocery game – but free! Many coupons today are online, so all you need to do is click "print." I would say I use about 65% normal ad coupons and 35% printable coupons. Also, what has helped me is buying the Sunday paper with 2 ad inserts, that way you can do each deal twice. Often the 10/10 deals are very easy because you have so many coupons you're able to get 10 items for 4.00 or so. Couponing also forced us to not get attached to brands, we're use to buying what is on sale – no matter what brand it may be.


  1. Stock pile - through the use of couponing, learning Walgreen's rebate program, CVS ECB program, grocery store's Catalina deals, freezing fruits & veggie's when in season, and knowing the cyclical yearly deals. I learned each store gradually and slowly integrated their deals into my shopping plan. You can also add additional coupons to your Kroger card (online) which will be deducted at checkout. The three sites are: proctor & Gamble , Cellfire & Shortcuts.com. For example, if you see that Life Cereal is on sale for 2.99, you can use a 1.00 off coupon from the Sunday paper plus a 1.00 off coupon that you added onto your Kroger card. That would mean you paid 1.00 for a box of cereal. Stores like Wal-Mart get you in the door because overall their prices are low, however, stores like Kroger & Tom Thumb & Albertson's use sales to get you in the door – these are called loss leaders (the store loses money when you buy them). Many of the sale items are actually losses to the store, but they assume you'll buy other items which will make up for their loss. By combining sales with coupons, often you can get items for free or close to free. Sometimes I even get overages, which means I make money buying a product. My all time favorite place to get hygiene, diapers, wipes, medicine, etc is at Walgreen's. I love it because all my savings/charges are on a gift card so I don't have to spend any money out of pocket. It took me three months to get their rebate, EZ saver program down and it has saved me hundreds! The way you get money added to your card is by purchasing items from the EZ saver rebate book, then you submit the receipt # online and store them up until the end of the month. Then submit online and the funds appear on your gift card within 5 days of approval. The way you make money is, say they have mouthwash for 4.49 with a rebate of 4.49 - great it's free! Even better, you use a 1.00 off coupon when you buy the mouthwash and now you've made 1.00 plus .10 cents because Walgreen's ads 10% if you have your rebates added to a gift card. I am always buying things I wouldn't use because I make money, especially on makeup, then I give it away.

  2. Create a weekly/Monthly meal calendar – use recipe's with ingredients that are on your stockpiling list. I love the Food & Family magazine mailed out Quarterly by Kraft, they have very easy 20 minute or less recipes that take very little prep and use common cooking products. Best if all -- its free! Also, Moneysaving mom puts up a 40.00 menu each week, so if you want to start meal planning, but don't know how to begin start here with a 40.00 menu.

  3. Try your local farmers market for fruit and veggie's since they don't often go on sale. Sprouts has an overall cheaper price – about 50% cheaper than Tom Thumb. They also sell products in bulk, which sometimes makes it cheaper to buy (bulk). There are farmers markets all over, have fun checking them out! Also you can save some money and the environment by bringing in your own bags!

  4. Some of my produce I find on clearance and then freeze it for future use – banana that are going bad for smoothies or banana bread, same with strawberries and melons. I try and freeze just about anything before it goes bad, it provides time to come up with another way to eat it. If you go to Sprouts on Wednesday's it is double ad day, so you get the sales from the prior week, plus the sales for the current week.

  5. Shop early in the morning - midweek (Tuesday through Thursday). That is when you'll find most of the marked down produce, meat, and bread. Even if you cannot shop in the morning, be sure to keep an eye out for products that have been marked down. The sell by date, is not the expiration date! The sell by date is the date the store must sell the product, but that doesn't mean it's expired or bad.

  6. Cook In Bulk, it's a Breeze, then freeze! Have a monthly cooking party for yourself 1 night a month – I turn on the worship music, clean out the leftovers in the fridge, sing loud and off key and bake for about 3-4 hours after the kids are in bed. I pre-cook meals that I know we will be using the next month. We always need more breakfast burritos and baby food! I'll make 3-4 batches of Enchilada's one of the months, then the next month make 3-4 batches of Spaghetti sauce or Lasagna. I'll pre-cook chicken and cut them up into cubes and freeze. Other favorites are: muffins, pancakes, beans, and cookies! frozen. We always have frozen meals on hand for baby dinners or for when schedules go awry and my meal plan just won't work.




Getting Practical (Part 2)


Before you get started physically saving money, there are a few basic tools you will need to work out:

:: Learn to live simple, on a spending plan (budget) – the issue isn’t that we don’t make enough, God’s given us exactly what we need, it’s that we haven’t learned to live frugally on what God has provided. If you don’t know where to start to get on a budget, go to http://www.crown.org/ and set one up, they even have budget coaches that will hold you accountable, or if interested in learning more about what God says about handling money, check out a local church that offers the Crown Bible Study. My husband and I have taken the Crown class twice and found it encouraging and crucial to having a healthy view on money! To give you a place to start, begin recording every penny that your family spends for 30 days. That will give you an idea of how much your family is spending and where you can make adjustments. Knowing where to start is the hardest part! Dave Ramsey also has a class if you, or your spouse, are uncomfortable with the intense course of Crown, it’s called Financial Peace University and is offered at churches, online, and organizations all over the metro-plex.
If the Lord has blessed your family with wealth, learn to live on a budget too, we all need a plan that will curb our fleshly “want it now” attitudes, which will lead to more generous and strong believers.

:: Get an amortization schedule (worksheet showing how long it will take to pay down debt and the accumulative interest), plug in your credit cards and interest rates, see just how quickly paying interest adds up! If possible, do not pay interest! We started prepaying on out home 4 years back, just 100.00 extra per month has cut our payments by 8 years and we will have saved over 36,000 in interest plus 8 years worth of mortgage payments. Remember " Steady plodding bring prosperity!"

:: If sitting down discussing the finances with your spouse is stressful and your always frustrated with your spouse regarding how much they spend, try the old tried and true allowance method. My husband and I have done this for 5+ years now. Every other week we get our “allowance” which is ours to spend or save for ourselves. This allowance covers personal eating out money, coffee, and “I want items.” This reduced our frustration about what the other was spending, plus it allowed the saver to save for a more expensive purchase. It also made us both feel like we had a little bit of fun money especially when the budget was really tight – we didn’t feel so restricted. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money, you can have a lot of fun on 10-20 dollars! My husband and I love it! We never argue about money anymore, the budget is the budget and our spending money is ours to do with as we see fit.

Before We Begin (Part 1)



Frugality: Stretching God's hard-earned dollars so you can simplify, save and generously give more!


Frugality is not a onetime choice; it is a lifestyle! A way of life, that once adopted, leads to exciting memories and a less stressed family life. The biblical purpose of Frugality is to stretch God's hard-earned dollars, so we can simplify, save, and generously give more to the Lord! Being frugal is the, "practice of economy, the art of being thrifty" — it is one tool the Lord has used in my life to teach self-control. The Lord addresses the handing of money over 2,000 times throughout the Bible – money/possessions are referenced more than any other topic in the Bible.

Obviously, it is a very important topic to God, so it needs to be important to us! The Bible says in Deut. 11:26-28, “... I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse- the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.” I believe that we are passing on a curse or a blessing to our children and future generations based on how well we obey the 1st commandment, “thou shall have no other God’s”. We are so good at making money our god. My prayer for you is that money will be a healthy tool used in your family to bless the generations and provide for your family’s needs! Remember that our children are watching, Luke 6:40 states, “A disciple is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.”


Your children are the disciple and you are the teacher, how well are you teaching and preparing them to handle money? Abraham Lincoln once said, “A child is a person who is going to carry on what you have started. He is going to sit where you are sitting and when you are gone, attend to those things that you think are important. You may adopt all of the policies you please, but how they are carried out depends on him. He will assume control of your cities, states, and nations. He is going to move in and take over your churches, schools, universities, and corporations. The fate of humanity is in his hands."


A few years ago the Lord spoke to my husband and I during one of our “fasting months.” These fasting months we have twice a year (February & August), our family commits to only buying the very basic of necessities. We block out television and dining out from our month and focus on our family and the Lord. We make it fun by finding free family things – like a free evening at the art museum or by taking a picnic to a park and feeding the ducks. Life seems to be simpler that month and we all enjoy the fun memories of eating “rice like the Chinese for a day” or camping outside under the star. Each time our fasting month rolls around it often turns into a radical mind and heart cleansing. Last February, during our fast, the Lord really pressed on my heart about my view of materialism – I was in love/lust with anything that involved immediate gratification – coffee shops, TV veg. time, fast food, quick grocery trips that were unplanned - you know the one, where you’re hungry and tired and you throw anything and everything into the cart? These things in themselves are not bad, but I was becoming addicted to the “now” mentality, instead of being disciplined to wait and plan.
As parents of two wonderful children, my husband and I were convicted and committed to working on a few basic areas, the process has been slow and steady, but over the past few years we have learned how to sacrifice, save, and enjoy the blessings from the Lord in great abundance.
Before I get to the ways in which we’ve learned to save money, I must stress that there are two ends of a spectrum you will tend to drift towards: either you’ll want to change everything immediately and then crash in exhaustion – also called burnout. Or you’ll say this totally isn’t for me, it takes too much work and time. I humble ask that you find just one idea today that saves you money and try it out. If it does not work for your family, try another idea, or come up with your own ideas to save some money. There is not just 1 method, there are tons! Don’t give up! For example, if you’re eating out 5 days a week, start by only eating out 3 times a week, or spending 600.00 a month on groceries, commit to spending only 500.00. The bible says in proverbs 21:5 that, “Steady plodding brings prosperity; hasty speculation brings poverty.” Remember it’s a journey not a destination – try not to drift to extremes! We cannot idolize money, but we also can’t love being frugal so much that we begin to worship the art of not spending money – try learning how to view money in a balanced and healthy way. God provided us with money to spend wisely and to enjoy within the boundaries of tithing, serving others, meeting family needs, and offerings. Have fun – if you find ways that are fun to you to save money your more apt to stick with it until it becomes adopted as a lifestyle.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Christmas 2008







Christmas 2008 is fast approaching! What will be under your tree this year? A pig, a goat, a cow, medical supplies, vaccines, blankets, wheel chairs? Go here to pick out your families Birthday offering for Jesus. We will be celebrating Christmas with a Water Buffalo under our tree. Since they are too large to fit through the front door, I thought it would be a great Christmas tradition to make a book with what we are giving Jesus. Then, take the book and get it laminated (thanks Kari!) and then put it under the tree for Jesus. It will be a reminder to all of us that Jesus should be the center of Christmas. It will also be a practical and real way for the kids to see that giving to the needy and poor is just something we do as a family - it is in our DNA. I pray that giving to the Lord will be like breathing for our boys - natural and necessary to sustain life.

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.'

Matthew 25:35

The Blessing


Let it be said of us while we
walked among the living

Let it be said of us by the ones we
leave behind

Let it be said of us that we lived
to be a blessing for life

And let it be said of us that we gave to
reach the dying.

Let it be said of us by the fruit we
leave behind

Let it be said of us that our legacy is
blessing for life


This day, You set life, You set death right before
us

This day, every blessing and curse is a
choice now

And we will choose to be a
blessing for life

Let it be said of us that our hearts
belong to Jesus

Let it be said of us that we spoke the
words of life

Let is be said of us that our
heritage is blessing for life

Cause blessings and curses are
choices

Will we build up, tear down?

The moment of truth is now
For your
kingdom, for our children

For the sake of every nation

For your kingdom, for our
children

For the sake of every nation

We will choose to be a blessing
for life

Song by John Waller


(We donate to Gospel For Asia because 100% of donations go directly to the field designated. They have private donors who cover operating expenses.)


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Beautiful Scars

Sunday is the National Day Of Prayer For The Persecuted Church - will you be an intercessor?

Lord God, we pray for a Your All Sufficient Light to illuminate this city, state, country, and nation. We are all lost without You. Please protect those who are persecuted, do not allow us to safely live here in this place and forget about the suffering, the killings, the martyrs who bare the beautiful scars of testing. Lord, give them peace, comfort the hurting and give them courage to "preach the gospel to the Nations." Your Word will not be silenced, for those you have called to take the harder road, give them courage and peace to run this race. Let them be without fear, because "greater is the Lord who is in us, than he who is in the world." As birth pains are screaming all over this world, Lord remind us that Your hand controls all things. May your peace that surpasses all understanding rest on those persecuted tonight. Give them hope and joy, remind them that we do not forget them, even if the enemy would like them forgotten.

Sunday our family will be praying for the persecuted, to pray for them by name visit here. Consider writing a letter of encouragement to a Christian in prison here.




Friday, November 7, 2008

Spoken Friendships

Friends are amazing! I spoke this Thursday at my Mom's group on frugality. My two best friends were priceless. Bethany woke at 5:30 am just to pray for me and Nicole spent her day off driving an hour up to Keller and then helped me with my props. What amazing and wonderful friends I have! I am so very blessed.




(Peaceful Mommy & Son Moment)


The talk went very well! I've never spoken in front of people for longer than 5 minutes, so to talk for an hour was very intimidating, but the Lord was so gracious! Everything worked just as planned, except my talk went over by about 15-20 minutes! It was great though, the audience really seemed interested and asked some great questions. I also had a game and a 4 minute video clip which broke things up. God is so gracious, I just can't tell you how nervous I was the night before, but when I woke up that morning the nerves were mostly all gone.

I'll be posting in pieces my paper on frugality in the next few days.


(Speaking of Friends, photo's are courtesy of friend Zac!)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Jesus Still Reigns

Last night was such a unifying experience for me. I thought McCain's concession speech was well spoken and I hope the theme of his message will be adopted by all Americans. We all need to come together - Black or While, Rich or Poor, Democrat or Republican. I am honored to live in a country that has moved beyond the horrible weight of slavery and has elected our first African American President. Though I did not vote for him I commit to pray for his leadership, his family, his visions for our nation, and for godly wisdom. Solomon, the wisest man to ever walk this earth was given the opportunity to have anything he wanted and his response to God was - Wisdom. I believe every Christian out there should commit to pray for all our leaders - especially Barack Obama - that he may rule with wisdom.

  • A nation will prosper when its ruler is mature....” Pray for Maturity. Ecclesiastes. 10:17
  • When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily; but with honest, sensible leaders there is stability.” Pray for morality and honesty. Proverbs 28:2
  • “A leader of good judgment gives stability.”Pray for sound judgement. Proverbs 29:4
  • “Make Jesus your Lord proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God's emissaries for keeping order. It is God's will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of fools... Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.” Pray for Christians, that we would obey laws that don't violate scripture and submit to leadership that we might not always agree with politically. May we not blaspheme the name of anyone, especially those in authority, whom for this period in history God has appointed Barack Obama. 1 Peter 2:13-17

The Lord is indeed on his throne and is ruling, our new president did not catch God off guard. It was planned before the foundation of the world.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14

Monday, November 3, 2008

This November


(Waiting for Baby Gabe to Arrive 11/2007)


This November I will not.....


... suffer under the weight of my large abdomen
... check my blood pressure daily
... be on partial bed rest
... wonder whether our little Gabe is safe to deliver
... fear spending Thanksgiving in the hospital
... miss seeing Drew in his costume
... be able to cuddle a newborn
... stay awake all night gazing into the eyes of my sleepy son on his birthday

... wake every 3-4 hours in the middle of the night for feedings
... be adjusting to being a mommy of 2
... be exhausted and unable to keep many of our Thanksgiving traditions
... listen to little sucking noises while my newborn nurses



(November 2, 2007 - Gabe's almost here)



This November I will...

... enjoy every second of my family because it all goes by so quickly
... enjoy capturing the Thanksgiving spirit and continue with our William's traditions of story reading, thanksgiving lists, and french toast casserole!
... enjoy Gabe's first birthday!
... watch as my son grow from an infant into a toddler - getting into everything and now walking!
... enjoy making Thanksgiving treats for the neighbors

... finally get to trim the bushes and weed out the flowers that didn't survive our first frost

... enjoy my favorite holiday in my favorite season (Thanksgiving & Fall)
... find pleasure in the ordinary tasks of life (ie. laundry, dishes)
... hold my kids extra tight and love on them because I'm not promised a lifetime with them, I'm not even promised tomorrow, only right here and now.

~ It is amazing the blessings that can take place in just one short year. ~

(November 2007)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Quiet Week



We enjoyed a nice and quiet week. I worked on IBR posts and on a seminar I'm giving to my mom's group entitled, "Frugality: Stretching God's hard-earned dollars so you can simplify, save and generously give more!" I'll post sections of it after Thursday! Please pray for me ! I really hate public speaking and the thought of getting up in front of 50 women really doesn't thrill me, but I'm being obedient and trying to have a little fun with it too. So far I've included a 4 minute little video clip and about 10 questions which will allow me to share 10 special items that I've purchased for free or made money on. I really hope the ladies enjoy it. My audience is stay at home mom's, so saving money is a topic that should interest many.




Drew has been a little angel this week, today while I was vacuuming he came up to me and said, "Mommy, would you like help with sumthin?" He proceeded to pick up anything and everything in the vacuum's way. Then he found his purple vacuum and we had vacuum wars! I've been working with him on learning to be a servant, so today he thoughtfully brought in the grocery bags that weren't too heavy. On his last trip the bag was a little heavy, so I offered to carry one side, while he carried the other. He replied, "Oh, sure mommy, that would be really nice. Thank You for helping me." Once my jaw was picked up off the floor I gave him a huge hug! He has also been telling us that he loves us about 50 times a day, which just makes my day every time.




This week we worked on the memory verse from Proverbs 15:1 - "a joyful answer turns away wrath." It wasn't going so well, so by evening John offered Drew a trip to the donut shop if he memorized it. Well, that night before bed Drew cried because he wanted to work on his verse so he could go to the donut shop in the morning. We proceeded to work about 20 minutes until he had it memorized. So sweet!

Gabe is mobile and walking all over. He is the happiest and giggliest little thing. He loves to smile and laugh. Can you tell we're in the "romance" phase with our kids. Give us a few weeks and I'll be sharing all the naughty things they've done! We are finally committing to take the Intentional Parenting seminar our church offers. It is a 1 year commitment, there are speakers the first of each month and then you meet with your accountability group once during the month. We missed the first month's meetings so we're a little behind.


I have pictures of the kids in their costume's but am waiting to get them from our best Photographer Zac! Mommy forgot her camera and he was gracious enough to step in!