Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Few More .....




Not to be outdone, Zac took these of the boys while camping this past weekend. Thanks Zac, I can't wait to get them printed and onto my magnetic wall!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Camping 101

We had a wonderful time on our Spring camping trip this past weekend! We Williams' love traditions and camping has certainly become a tradition for our family. I did learn some valuable lessons unique to this camping season :

:: Watch where you sit - even awesome photographs aren't worth multiple ant bites on your bottom!

:: The van is a much better place for a 17 month old to sleep, tents are overrated!

:: Little boys with mud stained faces doesn't mean your a bad parent it actually means your a great parent. I don't think the boys faces were clean the whole 3 days - despite my best efforts, I probably went through a hundred wet wipes!

    :: Wagons do tip over when piled high with too many children and too much junk - especially when going diagonally up a steep hill. Sorry little boys, you handled the tip so well!


:: Always put on the rain fly - even a 20% chance of rain can turn into 100% - especially at 5:00 am.

:: Little boys with longer hair, who are camping, are often mistaken for girls. Note to self - give Gabe his first haircut.



:: Fiddle with the F stop and shutter speed on your camera - the pictures turn out way better when you feel like a real photographer - the auto setting is for beginners! Thanks Zac for my lesson!



:: Texas lakes are really mud pits just waiting for grown men to engage in a harsh mud flinging fight.

:: S'mores really aren't too bad - Drew especially liked his first and second and even asked for a third. Can you tell the boy doesn't get much sugar?

:: Couponing while camping is a lot more fun than clipping at home alone! Just watch for wind gusts, if your coupon lands in the fire no husband will fish them out, even if it was a buy 1 get 1 free for your favorite cereal!



:: Eggs fried in bacon grease are really good - I've never had them like that before, I would hate to see the fat content!

:: Drew "making butter" with his stick fresh out of the fire is really fun, but dangerous to those around him. Watch your back and your head!

    :: Camping is so relaxing, watching the boys run around with sticks and toys relaxes the soul. A little adventure, 5 boys under 4, and dirt = Extreme Fun!


    We had a blast and are already looking forward to making more memories and capturing more moments on camera in October - Dinosaur Valley here we came!

Life Church with Dave Ramsey



Go here to watch the three part Life-Money-Hope seminar that Dave Ramsey gave at Life Church this past weekend. I attended a similar broadcast via telecast through our church this past Thursday, it was an awesome even that inspired us to continue along our debt freeing journey. It even made us look into possible options we could take to getting our lat remaining debt paid off - our home mortgage. Much of what Dave talks about was covered in the telecast from last Thursday. I really appreciated his simple application of the scriptures - get out of debt, give generously, and live on a budget. Three simple yet monumental challenges for Christians to overcome - yet necessary to conquer if you want to become all that God wants you to be. I personally loved the Cheetah & Gazelle video!

The very beginning of the telecast Dave Ramsey speaks in a no nonsense way about the economy - where we've been and where we're going. It was an evening of hope and also a reality check! Dave covered the historical facts of the Great Depression and the two recessions we've had since, the bigger picture certainly created hope, not fear that the media keeps obsessing over. Enjoy the 3 part message - it will inspire and point us to the one True Hope that rests in Jesus Christ alone. It will also inspire change in the way you view money, finances, and economy.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Family Fun Weekend at Lake Ray Roberts


Here are a few pictures to show what we did all weekend!


























More pictures on the picture page link.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"Elvis isn't dead son, he's just gone home"
















Week Recap

Well this past week was a total failure - from a type A, perfectionists point of view! I hardly ever get sick, but this past Easter I came down with the flu - it lasted through Wednesdayy, then on Friday I woke with a horrible migraine and sinus infection. Drew and Gabe have been taking turns getting sick, I thought Drew was finally well but Drew came home from church with a high fever. Alas - we're all getting it out of our system before our big camping trip this coming Friday - Sunday!
Gabe spent the week wishing he wasn't home with sick people. He is at the awkward age where he doesn't really play well with others, but wants desperately to be included. His sweet disposition has altered a little and he is now, lets just say, turning those terrible 2's a little early. At 17 months Gabe has discovered his own opinion and normally it is the opposite of what you have just asked him to do. Gabe has mastered the art of placing himself on the time out mat (in the pantry) and can place himself there when he knows he just might get into some trouble. You may or may not noticed that I sat on the "mat" and that would be because if he wants to be especially naughty he will fling cat litter all over the laundry room floor - so he is now banished to the rug where hopefully he can't touch anything spillable. On a happier note, he is leaning to come when called (when he feels like it of course) and really enjoys playing outside all day long in the sandbox. His fat rolls are quite funny looking because the arms have tanned from all the time outside, but the folds of his skin haven't so he has nice fleshy white stripes down his already chubby arms.... very cute indeed! Can you see Gabe's attitude in the above picture? Yes, he will be our fun to discipline child!



Drew spent the week watching TV. He actually said today that he didn't want to watch anymore TV which is huge! He is never one to pass up a good Little Einstein's or Busy Town. Most days he watches 30 minutes or less of TV, so spending 3 days infront of the TV was a novelty! Drew also spent some time outside reading books and watching his Chrysalis' turn into butterflies! He managed 1 day of pre-school before getting sick, he cried all morning because he wasn't able to go see his friends at school.


John spent the week working various jobs for clients, substituting, and working at HD. He also took the test for the K-6 teaching exam (pray he passes!). John was blessed with an interview for a teaching position next year - the interview went really well, but we've been through this so many times not one is getting their hopes up. We're still trying to decide what to do about our hailed on car, so John went and looked at a few pre-owned vehicles too. He spent the rest of his time helping out on the home front so I could get some rest.

I spent the week mostly sleeping - at least that is what it felt like. I just couldn't overcome how tired I was last week. Even today I'm dragging and it is only 7:00 pm. I was really depressed mid-week and then realized Thursday at my mom's group that, aside from church on Sunday, I hadn't left the house in 7 days. That is enough to depress anyone! I think I'm back into my grove - I really missed the rhythm of family life. I never noticed how much I enjoy my little routine and inspired motivation to get things done. All last week I was drained and tired, to have some of that energy and motivation back feels so refreshing! While being sick I had more time than usual (really it was less excuses) to read and spend time in God's word. I was challenged by some re-occurring themes throughout the week and we've all gotten back into memorizing scripture. It has been a very unifying activity that even Drew is starting to enjoy. I hope this little challenge lasts a long time and we memorize a lot! I want to be able to speak words of life into my family - to speak those words I must first have the words in my mind and be meditating on them in my own life. That is my vision for this month, to memorize more scripture, practice walking in them, and speak them into my family. What things are you working on this month?

Jehovah Jireh - God Provides


After 6 1/2 years of struggling our way through the seemingly endless mounds of Student loans, credit cards, auto loans, medical loans, and that nice mortgage - we had finally reached the top of our mountain called consumer debt. John and I realized the day we married that our battle would be a long and uphill battle - freeing ourselves from the debt of slavery is never an easy process, but was necessary to learn faith and master obediance! I am so thrilled that we walked together on the journey and have finally overcome the first mountain of consumer debt! We have taken many classes through Crown Financial and listened intently to their radio broadcasts, as well as taken instruction from Dave Ramsey's program - Financial Peace University. God has more to say about how to handle money than any other topic in the bible - God has used people like Dave Ramsey, Larry Burkett, and Howard Dayton to teach Christian and Non Christians how to handle money wisely. God's plan for how we should spend His money is laid out in the Bible and is the only area God asks believers to test him in.


Through our journey of paying off debts, I discovered so much about myself - I actually enjoy the thrill of saving and the gratification of waiting and saving for something. I am actually more satisfied now that ever before and enjoy the blessing of giving more than receiving! I've seen in my husband's life - a more self controlled personality emerge. John is enjoying the things he currently owns and I rarely hear him say, "I want this". That it itself is a miracle - when we first married his want list was filled with the latest tool! John is so content I just love listening to his conversations now because they rarely include the words, "I want." John also discovered that he does have a frugal bone - he now loves to get things cheap and has learned to wait patiently on the Lord for his provision. I can't think of anything John has bought recently where he paid full price! Even Drew commonly asks, "Mom, do we have a coupon for that?"


So, my point to this post was to share the wonderful blessing that the Lord provided this past week. Our goals for Q1 2009 were to fully fund our 2008 ROTH IRA, increase our charitable giving by 2%, and save an additional 3 months worth of living expenses. We have been able to accomplish all three goals this first quarter of 2009 - then we had our mailbox run over, the big hail storm blew out the windows in our cars, and also required us to put on a new roof! Now, we do have insurance which paid for a decent amount of those repairs, but John also found out he needed yet another dental visit and more drilling done on his teeth. I was lamenting to the Lord last week in my quiet time that our large nest egg of savings was slowly dwindling. God patiently reminded me that he would provide for our needs - savings or not.


So the week to pay all of these expenses came around and guess what happened! First, John was at work and one of his friends asked if he could check out a family member's sink. They wanted a new sink installed in their dental office and was quoted 850.00. John knew he could install it way cheaper so he went over one day and installed the sink without any problems. Then, he headed over the his dentist to have the cavity filled. The receptionist commented that he must take great care of his teeth to carry around a toothbrush in his pocket! John commented that he had just come from another dentist's office because he was installing a sink. The receptionist's eyes lit up and she said that they also had a leaky faucet! Later after all his teeth work was complete the dentist commented that John had sold her husband a water heater a few weeks back and if he wanted to fix their leaky faucet in exchange for his dental work she would really be thrilled. So, john went back the next day and fixed their leak. This may sound like a simple thing, but John has never worked for a business before, only for homeowners. Now in 1 week he has worked for 2 dentists! I was smiling as he shared with me the story of how God had once again provided for our simplest of needs and we didn't have to dip into savings to pay for the dental work!


All day long God is gracious and lends,

His descendants are a blessing.

Psalm 37:26

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Gymboree Test

After reading this article I decided to try an see how cheap I could get Gymboree clothes using their gymbucks offer plus their 60% off discounts. I received an additional 20% off coupon in the May 2009 "Parents Magazine" edition which sealed my decision to give it a try. If your interested you can get 2 years of Parent's Magazine free here. So, with my free magazine and Free Gymboree article I sat down at the computer to find my deals. I spent exactly 100.00 on 17 items of Gymboree clothing through their online store and received 50.00 in gymbucks. The package arrived within a week and I'm so excited to see Drew wearing pants that actually fit him - Gymboree sells all their pants in slender sizes for those children who can't seem to gain any weight like mine - don't the jeans above look so cute on Drew!



I then went to Gymboree yesterday and spent my 50.00 in gymbucks. In total I spent 151.81 on 522.00 worth of clothes, I purchased 30 items and averagely saved 69.08%. As a whole I was very pleased, most of the items I purchased were items I probably wouldn't have found at the Goodwill - I've never found a pair of slender Gymboree pants at the Goodwill. I was able to buy matching items for the boys so they can look cool in pictures together, I also purchased some more dressy items which are harder to find at the Goodwill. There were a few filler items like underwear and sun glasses that I probably wouldn't have purchased but because I needed lower priced items I used them as fillers. Now that I've had time to look over the underwear and sunglasses I've very pleased! It is nice seeing Drew in cute underwear where the elastic waste doesn't fray or frizz! Overall I was very pleased, most of the clothes were for Drew since I've been having a harder time finding clothes for him and he has been wearing holes into most of his jeans. I think the only thing I'd change next time around is to only spend 75.00 and shop in the store. There were enough discounted clothes in the store to make it worth my time. Previously, I shopped online since I thought they would have a better selection of clearance clothes, but you have to spend 100.00 to get free shipping.

In the article mentioned above, the mother would sell her used clothes on Ebay, thus helping her get most of her children's clothes for free. That idea sparked my fancy so I may put a few sets of used baby clothes together and put them on craigslist and see what happens! I have boxes of 0-12 months that both boys wore at one point or another and their are so many outfits, another child couldn't possible wear them all!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Romance & Rest

My sweet husband planned a get-a-way for us this past Thursday & Friday. It was so wonderful to relax, talk, dream, sleep in a King size bed, and get massages together. How perfectly relaxing it was! John received a blessing from some friends which was a gift certificate to a resort on Lake Texoma, it came with a nice room and a wonderful dinner overlooking the lake. We had a great time together, it was a much needed break that we both enjoyed. The best part - massages and relaxing in the Jacuzzi tub! That's for splurging dear, and thanks to my mom for watching the boys!


(Note, I posted some video's of the boys on the video page... finally!)

Celebrating Easter

Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Why Did Jesus Have to Die Mommy?"

This evening Drew and I spent a lot of time talking about Jesus. We watched a few seconds of footage from a movie so Drew could have a mild image of what our Lord when through on the cross. Drew just kept asking me over and over, "Mommy, why, why did Jesus have to die." So innocent a question, yet so complex an answer. Why did He die? There are so many reasons, yet the most powerful for me is that He willingly died so the debt of sin could be paid. That payment allowed me access to God - the perfect and Holy Creator who longs to have intimacy with all of us. God so longs to have intimacy with us that he sacrificed his own son for me... for us. What more could God possible do for mankind to reveal His love and passion for us? I can't think of anything more loving, anything more permanent, anything more necessary.

Thank you Father for Your sacrifice, before the foundation of the world you created a plan to redeem sinful man. Your plan is permanent and stands before all mankind as an option. You don't force yourself on anyone, yet long to save everyone. May I never forget your sacrifice and the reality that heaven and hell really exist. If I really believe that truth then I'll seek to share that truth with all of mankind. The consequences are too high






(This was a video our church showed a few weeks back, I was so touched by this atheist who understood the message of Christ, didn't believe the message, but understood the depravity of mankind if Jesus is in fact who he claims to be. His statements were convicting to me, if unbelievers are going to Hell, why isn't my message more urgent and why am I so timid in sharing what I believe and know to be true?)

Next, our day ended with a Good Friday service where we sang songs to our Lord and listened to a narration about the various colors surrounding the crucifixion. I kept finding myself wanting to jump to the resurrection, and gloss over the sacrifice. Its so brutal, horrible, and painful to think about. I put myself in the shoes of God, I could never love anyone so much that I'd sacrifice my child. Yet, that is exactly what God did for me... for us. I really wanted to tell Drew that Jesus rose again, but without understanding the sacrifice, the resurrection isn't very powerful.


And Jesus Christ our Lord was shown to be the Son of God when God powerfully raised him from the dead by means of the Holy Spirit. Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.




Romans 1:4-5


Lastly, we wrapped Jesus (a play mobile figure) in gauze and placed him in the tomb with the Roman soldiers standing guard. Sunday the stone will be rolled away and Jesus will be alive! That is the whole message of Christianity, Jesus was crucified, the most awful death one could imagine, then rose three days later. Our Saviour not only died for us, but also lives for us!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cute




Drew and I were talking about the meaning of Easter and I asked him, "So what happened on the third day?" Drew responded, "It snowed!"

Hint: Jesus Washes our sins white as....snow.
John asked Drew, "How much do you love me?" Drew replied, "To the light post and back."
Hint: When Drew has extra energy we make him run to the light post and back.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday

When Jesus and his disciples had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, `The Lord needs them.' And he will send them immediately." This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,

"Tell the daughter of Zion,Look, your king is coming to you,humble, and mounted on a donkey,and on a colt, the foal of a donkey."
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,

"Hosanna to the Son of David!Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!Hosanna in the highest heaven!"
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, "Who is this?" The crowds were saying, "This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee."


Matthew 21:1-11

EXAMEN.me



Looking for a refreshing twist to your personal time with Jesus? Check out EXAMEN.me, a great way to grow in your relationship with the Lord. It is an online journal/Bible study tool that helps you get real before the Lord. The format is easy to follow, the premise is to interact with God. The three purposes that the EXAMEN.me tool accomplishes are (per their website) :

  • Meditate on scripture with the goal of life obedience.

  • Pray with focus.

  • Journal and keep a record of God's activity in your life.

Check it out, its free, easy to use, and will grow your intimacy with the Lord! If your worried about writing online and not getting a copy, I personally love the exporting tool, it will allow you to export your journals into a PDF file and then you can save right to you computer!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Gabe Can Communicate!

The past few days Gabe has been asking to go "Ni Ni" with his "Ba Ba" and "Banky." Today, a few minutes before nap time, Gabe walked into his room, turned on the sound machine and said "Ni Ni?" I gladly responded with a yes and whisked him off to bed. I love this communication thing!



Today after I was done watering the plants, Gabe went over and I captured this shot. Notice there isn't any water coming out! Gabe is my little emulator! He loves to copy others, especially his big brother!


Gabe is also teething, which has been giving him a runny nose and diaper rash. I hope he gets some teeth soon - he still only has the 4 front teeth in!

Tombs & Traditions


This week we all got back in the swing of things. John spent some time working on some jobs for clients and helping me out with the boys. He also finished the model of Jesus' tomb! Then the boys and I went to the store and found some play mobile people who will act out the roles of Jesus, the guards, and Mary. Such fun! The actual traditions taken from Noel Piper's book Treasuring God in Our Traditions calls for a clay model, but John came up with some bigger ideas! So far Drew is fascinated with the tomb, mainly because its a great accessory when playing race cars!





Didn't John do a great job? I had no idea the project would be such a hit with all the boys! Gotta love traditions and teachable moments! We started telling Drew part of the Crucifixion story, he is starting to understand a little. Today while I was telling him the story of Jesus Drew responded, "Don't worry mommy, the tomb is empty, Jesus is Alive!" Such sweet words from my 4 year old. Drew loves the play mobile people we found, he thinks its especially neat that the soldiers have swords and real bow and arrow's that shoot across the room. Mommy's a little tired of keeping the small pieces away from our toddling, teething 1 year old!