Thursday, December 30, 2010

Marriage Advice from an experienced but not expert person!

So yesterday, Hubby & I celebrated our 20th anniversary. I can't believe it's been 20 years. Why I feel like I'm still 20! How did time pass so quickly? It seems just like yesterday when we said "I do!"

I feel like we've defied the odds! So many people get divorced now days. So as an experienced "Married person" (I think 20 years constitutes experienced), I thought I'd share some of the things that I've learned about marriage. My advice doesn't include those who are in abusive relationships! If you are being abused (Physically or mentally) get help! Ok, here goes!

1. Marriage is very hard WORK! It's not easy & anyone who says it is is either not married or fooling themselves. You will have ups & downs. You need to keep working to make it work. It takes compromise! No matter how hard it gets, keep working at it. You will have some bad times, but the good times make them worth it.

2. When you get married, remove the word "divorce" from your vocabulary. Don't use it when you get mad! If you threaten it, it may happen! Marriage is for life! If you don't want to be with that person for life, don't get married!

3. If you can at all help it, wait to have kids. Give yourself a few years to get to know your spouse. Marriage is hard enough when it's just the 2 of you. When you throw kids in the mix, it makes it so much harder. We spent most of first 10 years as just a couple. During that time, we got to know each other better than if it would have been the 2 of us plus kids.

4. Forgive & Forget! You are going to mess up & so is your spouse! Neither one of you is perfect. The sooner you learn to say you are sorry & to accept their apology, the easier it will be. You'll save yourself a lot of heartache. And, once you accept their apology, don't keep bringing up the incident! All that does is cause strife & anger.

5. Put your spouse's needs ahead of your own. It won't always seem fair, but if you love them unconditionally & put them first, you'll be amazed at how it will benefit you!

6. Laugh together! Have fun together! Life is so serious most of the time so be intentional about having fun. Hubby & I love to play game on the PC & Wii together. We also love watching comedies on tv! We also love having fun with the kids.

7. Spend time together WITHOUT the kids! Go on dates once a month & try to spend at least 2 nights a year together without the kids! We are fortunate to both have parents that love keeping our kids. If you don't, then trade over-night babysitting with a friend! You need that time away to strengthen your marriage. Remember marriage takes work. The best thing you can do for your kids is to have a strong, healthy marriage!

8. Be intimate with your spouse regularly! You both need it!! AND the more you do it, the more you want to do it! Invest in a good lock for your bedroom door to insure your privacy. Nothing kills the mood faster than a child wandering in on you! The kids need to know that Mommy & Daddy need some private time!

9. Never talk bad about your spouse to anyone! Talk out your problems with your spouse! Not your mom! Not your friends! If you are having problems & need a sounding board, choose a friend who will keep confidences. I have a friend who lives in another state that I can talk with & who will keep me accountable & tell me if I'm being unreasonable! (Thanks Ann!!) I can't count the number of times I've been with a group of women & the talk turns to dogging their husbands. Girls, when you talk, it gets back to your husbands! It's disrespectful & unloving!!

10. Talk to your spouse! Ladies, your Hubby can NOT read your mind! I know we think they should just know what we are feeling & what we want & need. BUT they are not God! They can't read our minds! So talk to them! Tell them what you need, what you want & what you are feeling!

11. Lower your expectations! Not only of your spouse, but of yourself and your relationship. I know so many times that I've sabotaged us because of unrealistic expectations.

I think the most important thing I can tell you to do is pray for your marriage! Pray that God will make you the spouse you need to be. Pray for your spouse. Pray over anything you are struggling with in your marriage, even sex! It will do wonders!!

After 20 years, I'm more in love with my Hubby than ever. As I look back over the years, I realize I've been selfish, unreasonable & unloving. But fortunately, my Hubby has stuck with me & we've worked it out! It's been a real give & take relationship. I'm praying God will give us 20 or even 40 more years together!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Baking

So this year I decided to do a lot of baking so that I could share plates of goodies with neighbors & friends. Those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook have seen all my tweets about my baking. So I thought I'd share the recipes I used this year. All of these recipes are peanut/nut free as my daughter is severely allergic. I use Blue Bonnet Margarine everywhere it says butter or margarine. I use Meijer semi-sweet chocolate chips (Nestle's are not peanut/nut free!). If you have any questions about any of these recipes, feel free Hope you all enjoy!

Christmas Plate Recipes

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Nestle TollHouse modified)
2 ¼ c. flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 c. (2 sticks) butter - melted
¾ c. sugar
¾ c. brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
12 oz bag Meijer Semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven 375º
Beat butter, sugar, brown sugar & vanilla. Add eggs.
Gradually beat in flour, baking soda & salt. Add more flour if needed until spoon stays upright in dough. Stir in Chocolate Chips
Bake 8 ½ - 9 minutes.

Cookie Cutter Sugar Cookies (Joyce Young)
2 c. butter
3 c. powdered sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
6 c. flour
2 tsp soda
1 tsp cream of tartar

Beat butter until creamy. Add sugar & beat until fluffy. Add eggs & vanilla. Add flour, soda & cream of tartar & stir in. Batter will be stiff. Refrigerate. Roll on lightly floured surface & cut with floured cookie cutters. Bake 6 to 7 minutes at 375º. Cool and decorate as desired. To decorate with sugars only, sprinkle sugar on cookies before baking.

Buttercream Icing (Joyce Young)
½ c. shortening
½ c. butter
1 tsp vanilla
4 c. powdered sugar (1 lb.)
2 Tbsp milk

Cream butter & shortening, add vanilla. Add sugar 1 c. at a time, beating well on medium speed. Icing will appear dry. Add milk & beat at high speed until light & fluffy. Tint with food colors as desired. Keep icing covered with damp cloth when not using. store in refrigerator. To make icing spreading consistency, add 1 to 2 Tbsp extra milk.

Chocolate Peppermint Candies (Jeanne Fry on
¾ c. sweetened condensed milk
1 ½ tsp peppermint extract
4 c. confectioners’ sugar
3 c. semisweet chocolate chips
2 tsp shortening

In bowl, combine milk & extract. Stir in 3 ½ to 4 cups confectioners’ sugar to form a stiff dough.  Turn onto a surface sprinkled lightly with confectioners’ sugar. Knead in enough remaining sugar to form a dough that is very stiff & no longer sticky. Shape into 1 inch balls. Place on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Flatten into 1 ½ inch circles. Let dry 1 hour.  Turn & let dry 1 hour longer. Melt chocolate chips & shortening in a double boiler or microwave-safe bowl; cool slightly. Dip patties in chocolate mixture & place on waxed paper to harden. **Note: Next time I'm going to actually roll out the dough & cut circles rather than do it in balls. I think it will be more uniform.

Prepare Creamy Christmas Peppermints (Shaheen Bilgrami from
¼ cup or 4 Tbsp cream cheese
several drops peppermint extract
1 cup powdered sugar
red food coloring

add peppermint extract to cream cheese. gradually add powdered sugar & mix until mixture forms soft dough. Break of ¼ dough & add few drops red food coloring. Mix until ball is completely red. Loosely combine the red & white doughs so that the dough has marbled effect. Sprinkle powdered sugar onto surface & roll out dough (about ¼ inch thick). cut out festive shapes using cooking cutters. Leave candies to dry on waxed paper. Refrigerate candies if not eating them right away. **Note: This took almost double the powdered sugar in order to get it stiff enough to roll out. Was very messy to work with.

Chocolate Snow Balls! (Dina Brooks from
½ cup plus 3 Tbsp (11 Tbsp total) softened butter softened butter
¼ cup fat-free evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¾ c. all purpose flour
3 Tablespoon cocoa
½ cup confectioner’s sugar plus 1 cup, separated.

Preheat oven 350º
Mix butter until creamy & fluffy. add evaporated milk & vanilla. carefully stir one at a time: flour, cocoa & sugar into butter. Shape into balls about 1” wide & place on baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes. Immediately roll in 1 cup powdered sugar. Allow to cool completely, 15 -20 minutes. sift remaining powdered sugar over snowballs.

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cookies (
1 ½ c. flour
½ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
½ c. butter softened
1 cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 ½ tsp vanilla
10 oz jar maraschino cherries
1 c. (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
½ c. sweetened condensed milk

Mix flour & cocoa & set aside. In another bowl, beat butter until softened. Add sugar, salt, baking powder & baking soda. Beat until well combined. Add egg & vanilla. Beat well. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Shape dough into 1 inch balls on ungreased baking sheet. Press center of each ball with thumb.

Drain maraschino cherries, reserving juice. Place cherry into center of each cookie.

In small saucepan combine chocolate chips & sweetened condensed milk. Heat until chocolate is melted. Stir in 4 tsp of reserved cherry juice.  Spoon about 1 tsp of frosting over each cherry on unbaked cookie, spreading to cover cherry. (thin frosting with additional cherry juice if needed). Bake in 350º oven for 10 min or until done.

Easy Fantasy Fudge (from Jet Puffed Marshmallow Creme Jar)
¾ c (1 ½ sticks) butter
3 c sugar
⅔ c evaporated milk (5 oz can)
Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add 1 12 oz package (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
Add 1 jar (7 oz) Puffed Marshmallow creme & 1 tsp vanilla

**Note: This is the old recipe from the Marshmallow creme Jar. I haven't tried the new recipe that takes baker's chocolate squares. You can double the recipe ( I had large jar of marshmallow) but it's harder to work with & stir so completely mixed.

Chocolate Covered Marshmallows (Wendy Fouse)
1 bag marshmallows (can use regular or miniature size)
1 box candy canes unwrapped & crushed (put in ziploc bag to crush)
Bark Coating Chocolate - 6 cubes

Melt 6 cubes of bark chocolate in microwave  for 1 min in glass container or measuring cup, remove, stir to break up cubes, return to microwave & do 30 seconds at a time until chocolate is completely melted & creamy. Carefully roll 1 marshmallow at a time in chocolate, coating all sides (toothpicks are great help here). Sprinkle or dip coated marshmallows in crushed candy & then place on foil or wax paper to set. **Note - I used Baker's semi-sweet baking chocolate as none of the coating chocolates were peanut/nut free.

Chewy Gingerbread Cookies (Amy Hengst from
2 ¼ c. flour
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp fresh, grated ginger (optional)
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp salt
¾ c. margarine, softened
1 c. white sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp water
¼ c. molasses
2 Tbsp. white sugar

Preheat oven to 350º. Mix Flour, dried ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves & salt in bowl. In another bowl, cream together margarine & 1 cup sugar until light & fluffy. Then beat in egg & stir in water, fresh ginger & molasses. Gradually stir in dry ingredients until creamy & well mix. Shape dough into walnut sized balls & roll in 2 Tbsp sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet & flatten slightly. Bake for 8-10 minutes. For softer cookies, take them out earlier. For crispier cookies, let them bake couple of minutes longer. Store in airtight container.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Twitter Thankfulness Project

So over the Thanksgiving week, I twittered a series of tweets that expressed things I am thankful for. So I thought I'd post them all here in my blog for those who are not on twitter. So here goes...

1. I'm thankful for good tires on our van as we travel in cold, rainy weather.
2. Thankful for music & a family that loves it. Nothing like playing RockBand together or singing in the van together
3. Thankful for my Hubby. He's great provider, hubby, dad, trainer, caretaker, computer geek & lover! He isn't perfect, but he is the best!
4. Thankful for my oldest girl. She is so smart, remembers everything, loves to talk. Anything she sets her mind to, she will accomplish!
5. Thankful for my boy. He loves outdoors & doing boy stuff! But his tender heart is something I pray he never loses! He gives best hugs!
6. Thankful for my baby girl. She's very dramatic, full of life, loving & carefree! Don't be surprised if you see her on big screen someday!
7. Very Thankful for my in-laws. They are best any girl could hope for. They've always treated me as part of family & love to take my kids!
8. Thankful for warm clothes & warm house in midst of cold weather! So blessed.
9. So thankful that God has given me ability to bake/cook wonderful desserts. I love the joy I see on the faces of those who eat my goodies!
10. Thankful for men/women who are/were willing to fight for freedom. They are true Heroes! Don't forget to thank military people u know!
11. Thankful that the ground is warm enough to melt the freezing rain we are having!
12. Thankful for time spent w/family sharing stories & enjoying each others company. So much fun.
13. Thankful for my health. Even though I have chronic problems, it could be much worse! I can get out of bed & function fairly normal!
14. Thankful Jesus came to earth to die for my sins & rose again so that I might live w/Him forever. Such Grace/Mercy that I don't deserve!!
15. Thankful for DVDs in van & DSs. Without which I'd have to listen to fighting & arguing all the way home!
16. Thankful for lifelong friends who I've known forever & don't let time/distance stand in our way! They are like siblings to me!
17. Thankful for my church family. They love, support, encourage, & pray for me & my family. You are what a church family is supposed to be!
18. Thankful for my Internet friends, many of whom I've never met! You've encouraged me, cheered me on & kept me company on sleepless nights
19. Thankful for @CSunset! Even though we've never met, you've become a bestfriend who has encouraged me & held me accountable at times! TY!
20. Thankful for my brother-in-law Neal! I love his handshakes & watching him spin anything! Can't wait till we get to Heaven & can really talk!
21. Thankful for our treasured friends @Showfam5. What started as Jeff & Jeff turned into full family friendship. Can't wait till NY eve!
22. Thankful for freedom to display a nativity on our front lawn & to celebrate Christ's birth w/o fear of government persecution!
23. Thankful for police officers & firefighters who put their lives on the line daily to protect & save us!
24. Thankful for my parents who've always loved me, supported me & shown Christ's love to me, been awesome grandparents & in-laws to hubby!
25. Thankful for my meds & TENS unit that help keep my fibromyalgia under control so I can be the wife/mom I need to be.
26. Thankful my Hubby has been home so much this month & will be home over 1/2 of next month! Loving that he can tuck kids in at night!
27. Thankful I can get out of bed this morning & cold rain has not made me too achy. Pain is there but manageable today.
28. Thankful for a day that I get to spend with my extended family!
29. Thankful for my Mamaw! She loves the Lord. She loves me! She taught me her love of crafting, sewing, quilting & other handiwork!
30. Very thankful our families understand seriousness of J's peanut/treenut allergy & keep nuts away from our celebrations to keep her safe!
31. Thankful for paved roads. Without them we probably would be staying home or be stuck somewhere on a muddy road!
32. Thankful for freedom to be able homeschool my kids & provide them an education based on Biblical world view not evolution one!
33.Thankful God has turned my inadequate attempts at parenting into good results. My kids have tender hearts, love God, are polite & loving.
34. Thankful for all my wonderful family & all the good conversation & laughs.
35. Thankful for the beautiful world God created, including rain! My God is so creative! Can't imagine how awesome Heaven will be!
36. Thankful for my Hubby. He's my soulmate, bestfriend, husband, protector, provider, encourager & lover. God provided perfect man for me!
37. I'm thankful over 1/2 of cherry delight was eaten b/c I'm only one in this house who likes it. Now maybe I won't make myself sick on it!
38. Thankful for all the years of safe travel God has blessed me with.
39. Thankful for ears that can hear the sound of my kids' laughter. That brings joy to my heart!
40. Thankful for another get-together that has passed w/o my oldest having reaction to peanuts/tree-nuts! 7 years w/o serious reaction!
41. Thankful for crazy hubby who loves his kids so much he's willing to stand in line at ToysRUs in order to stretch our Christmas budget!
42. Thankful for Facebook. Because of it, I can keep up w/friends, catch up on old friends I haven't seen in ages & share my life w/you all!
43. Thankful for indoor toilets. Can't imagine having to go out in cold & dark to go!!
44. Thankful for McDs SweetTea & my wonderful Hubby who brought me some in midst of his Black Friday shopping. I think I'm addicted to both!
45. Thankful for great Bible study books we have access to here in US to help us study God's Word!
46. Thankful for easy to fix foods like Tv dinners, pizza, pasta, cereal, etc. They've helped me feed my family when my fibromyalgia flares!
47. Thankful for video games my hubby & kids can play together! Yes, I have a house full of Geeks!!
48. Thankful for hot water for showers b/c it helps my fibromyalgia!
49. Thankful for a God who is all-knowing & all-powerful. He knows all that happens on this earth. Far beyond what we know & understand.
50. Thankful that God's Mercies are renewed daily. I don't have to be perfect, just humble & repentant.
51. Thankful for my Savior that I can run to when unthinkable things happen knowing that He knows the truth & gives peace to those involved.
52. Thankful that I serve a God who answers Prayer!!
53. Thankful for a pastor that preaches the Bible, even the difficult, convicting things.

This list is only the tip of the iceberg of all the things I'm thankful for!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Reason I'm Thankful I Home School!

As public school starts back, I've been reminded over & over again why I'm glad I home school! So I thought I'd share a few of those reasons with you!

I'm glad I homeschool because:
1. I don't have to send my kids away every day. I actually enjoy having them around!
2. I don't have to schedule our day around the school's schedule. We get up when we want. We stay up till we want.
3. My kids don't have to spend 6 hrs in school followed by 2-3 hrs of homework. Usually 3-4 hours of solid school work & we are done for the day.
4. I don't have to deal with school bus problems whether that be bad drivers, unsafe bus stops or whatever.
5. I don't have to listen to my kids whine that they don't like their teacher. If they don't like me, then we have a problem.
6. I don't have to explain to my kids that behavior they learn from their "peers" is not socially appropriate. They have enough ingrained bad behavior without learning more from their "peers".
7.I don't have to repair damage done to their faith after being taught creation is a lie & that they evolved from goo! We discuss evolution, but they don't have it forced fed to them!
8. We can go on field trips when places are empty because everyone else is in school. Hitting the zoo with less people is fun as is other field trips.
9. We don't have to get up at 6am to get ready for school. Only 1 of my kids is a morning person, so we adjust our days to fit our personalities.
10. We can do school in our PJs. No need to have struggles over what to wear.
11. We can stray from our lesson plans to answer questions & do research on topic our lessons stir interest in. Kids learn so much better when it is something they are invested in & want to learn.
12. My kids can learn using their learning style, not just by listening to teacher talk. My hands on learner & visual learner do well, not just my auditory learner!
13. My kids have low student to teacher ratio! 3 to 1 - can't beat that ratio!!
14. We can take vacations when places are less crowded not just when school is on break.
15. Learning can be integrated into every part of our lives, not just when school is in session. Learning happens at the grocery store, the park, while watching tv & disussing shows, everywhere, anytime!
16. My kids can work at their own level in each subject. If struggling in math they can be a grade behind. If excelling, they can be one or two grades ahead.
17. We can travel with Hubby & not miss school but also not miss fantastic learning opportunities. School in hotel room & then going to museums & historical sites has been a blessing plus having more daddy/kid time!
18. My kids can learn from real books, not just textbooks. Nothing like reading real novels, historical biographies, journals & the like.
19. My kids get to learn life skills (laundry, cooking, cleaning, finances, etc) as well as academic skills. They are going to be very balanced in life.
20. My kids learn how to communicate with people of all ages, not just those their own age.
21. I get to be there when they have that "ah-ha" moment when they finally understand a difficult concept!
22. We have more family time & my kids grow closer together!
23. My kids can stay kids longer! They don't have to act 16 at age 10 because all their classmates are.
24. My kids have time to experiment & play because 75% of their day is not tied up in being at school & doing homework for school.
25. We can fit school into our lives and not fit our lives around school. School is important, but it doesn't have to dominate what we do, where we go & when we do it.
26. My kids work at their level, not at the level the average student is at. So they aren't bored or completely frustrated.
27. My kids have a say in what they study so they are more eager to study it. Yes, some subjects you just have to do, but why not teach "rocks" if they are interested in "rocks".
28. We have time to make Bible study & Bible memory a part of our day.
29. My kids develop critical thinking skills because we teach them to question things they don't understand & research answers. We also discuss shows we watch & thing we see other kids doing.
30. My kids can be themselves & don't have to conform to school's idea of behavior, dress & thinking.
31. I don't have to spend my time going to school meetings & doing fundraising for school. Parent teacher conference for me involves talking to myself & I do that everyday anyway!
32. I don't have to spend tons of money on school books that my kids don't get to keep. I have a friend who's kid has to do homework without his book because he isn't allowed to take it home. That is crazy!
33. I don't have to spend months teaching my kids how to take & pass ISTEP tests! We can learn real life-applicable things & not just how to take a test & pass it.
34. I don't have to spend 4-6 weeks reviewing everything kids learned last year just so we can teach new concepts. We school pretty much year round so a quick review gets us rolling again.
35. I get to spend time with my kids, see them grow & know they are learning to their potential what the need to learn to be successful in life. I get to challenge them to be extraordinary & not just to get by!

So these are just a few of the reasons I'm thankful I homeschool! I know homeschooling is not for everyone, but I'm so blessed that God has called us to homeschool & can't imagine life any other way!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I Don't Belong Here....

I have decided that I don't really belong here! I don't fit in. My thinking is bizarre... I'm not sure if this is good or bad, but here's just a few of the reasons why I think this:

1. I'm happy my kids are home with me! - I hear/read posts from so many of my friends that are so excited that school is back in session & their kids are back in school. Now, don't get me wrong, I do wish at times I had more "me" time. But overall, I'm very glad I'm not sending my kids away for 8 hours a day! I enjoy being around them. I enjoy teaching them. I enjoy having lots of family times! Yes, they drive me crazy sometimes! And there are even times I'm jealous of those who send their kids to school & get to do their home chores in peace. But I'd miss my kids if they went off to school.

2. I love spending time with my hubby! - So many people I know can't wait to be away from their husbands or wives. If I had it my way, I'd be with hubby all the time! He's my best friend! I'd rather go out with him than with the girls. He wins every time!!

3. I'm not a cook from scratch, sew my own clothes homeschooler! - so, this makes me not fit in to the general world because I homeschool. It also makes me not fit in to the homeschooling world because I don't cook from scratch, we don't sew our own clothes, I don't have more than 5 kids, I own a tv, my kids listen to music other than classical & we embrace technology! Now, I know not all homeschoolers do that stuff. And I know that some of the world that doesn't homeschool does do that stuff. But on average, I don't fit in.

4. I'm an older parent - What I mean is this: Most of my friends that are my age (pushing 40) have kids that are all grown up or at least almost out of high school. My kids are 10, 7 & 5. The parents of my kids' friends are mostly in their 20s or early 30s! So, I feel like I don't fit in.

Ok, enough reasons. You get the point. But, I'm not posting this to complain. I'm just excited that for once in my life, I don't care that I'm different & don't fit in. All my life I've not "fit in" for some reason or another (weight, country girl at city church, shy, good girl when everyone else in class smoke/drank, etc....). I've always hated it & let it depress me. But I've finally come to the point where I like who I am! And I don't care what others think of me. The only thing that matters is what Jesus thinks of me! He's my savior & creator! He made me unique! He made me the way I am for a reason! So, I am embracing it!

I am different! I don't belong here! I was made for eternity! So, I will continue being who I am! So, who am I? I'm a Bible Believing sinner saved by grace!  I'm a wife to the best Hubby in the world. I am mother to 3 bright, wonderful, beautiful kids whom I homeschool! I live in Chronic pain so we do things differently in our house because of it. We are a tech-savy, boxed food eating, junk food eating, 80s music loving, travel when we can, Jesus loving, messy house, short-cut taking, Uniquely weird family! And we love it!! Why? Because God made us this way!! So if you want some want to know some unique, weird people who will love you for who you are, then you've come to the right place!!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Patiently Waiting....

I hate to wait! And lately it seems like waiting on God's timing is my life lesson at this time! I'm realizing more & more that God's timing is definitely not MY timing!

In my timing, Hubby would already have a non-traveling job here and be home every night with us! But it's not God's timing!

In my timing, I would not have sciatica right now! I have lots to do & have responsibility for 3 kids by myself during the week. But that's NOT Gods timing! God allowed my sciatica to happen & graciously allowed my parents to be able to help me! And in my timing I'd be completely better, but in God's timing healing is taking longer.

In my timing, we'd be ahead on bills & debts would be paid off. But in God's timing that hasn't been able to happen yet.

In my timing.... In my timing...

God's timing is not my timing! God has plans for me that I don't understand. Plus, He sees the big picture that I do not. So my timing is nothing. Because God says: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." So I may have plans but they fail in comparison to the plans God has for me! So I must wait patiently on God's timing! Even though sometimes it is very hard!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Wanting God's Will!

As I look at myself, I'm amazed at what God has done in me. He has transformed me. Just a few years ago, I was a "worry-wart"! Constantly worried about what is about to happen, what might happen or even what I was going to have to do to make my way happen. But, then God started changing me.

It took having my safety net stripped away! Jeff lost his job. He's been laid off before, but never when we had 3 kids! At first I was depending on what we had in checking account, but as the month stretched into two, I couldn't depend on what we had. I had to start depending on God to provide. And boy did He! Somehow we didn't default on anything & the money stretched in unexplainable ways!

Then Jeff got a job & things returned to normal & I started depending on myself & Jeff & what we could do. But things got stressful & Hubby felt led to take another job. And that job led to the biggest change in me.

After praying about this new job offer, we felt this was where God wanted Jeff. So, we jumped into it. Although, I was scared to death over the thought of him traveling & me being a single mom during the week. Over the last almost 2 years, God has been changing me. I've become more dependent on Him! I'm not sure exactly how or when it happened, but I'm just amazed that it has!

I wake up every morning content! I know to whom I belong! I know God has me in this place for a reason! I don't really like Jeff traveling & being away from us, but I'm ok with it. I know God is in control & He put us on this path. I pray for Jeff to get a local job, but if it's not God's will, then I don't want it to happen!! And that thought is exactly what amazes me! I'm at a point where I want God's will more than my own!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Father's Day!

When I think of a Father, I obviously think of my dad! He isn't perfect because none of us are, but in my opinion, he's pretty close! I'm so thankful that God allowed me to be born to him! My dad loves God, loves my mom & loves my brother & me! He also now loves my hubby & my kids.

Here are some of the things I love about my dad:

1. He loves the Lord!! And that Love shines throughout his life.  My dad loves to read the Bible, sing about God & tell others about what God has done for him and can do for them. Without my dad, I wouldn't have learned about Jesus & trusted HIM as my Savior!

2. He loves my mom! I remember when I was growing up, seeing my parents holding hands or kissing. They love being together. I used to think it strange when a lot of other adult couples I knew, didn't seem to want to be together. My dad always made sure that we respected my mom.

3. He loves others! My dad loves to help others. A fond memory of mine is when I went with my dad to deliver food to a co-worker of dad's who was going through a rough time. We took sacks of food & milk and placed it on their front porch. Then we knocked on the door & ran. From down the block, we watched them open the door to find the food. It was such a cool memory! Dad has a large garden that he grows lots of veggies in. Then he just gives them away. He keeps much of his friends & family in zucchini, tomatoes, corn & potatoes as well as other veggies.

4. He loves missionaries! My dad was mission Treasure at our church when I was growing up & we had lots of different missionaries stay with us over the years. I got to firsthand hear about some of the miracles God has worked on the mission field! Now my dad (& Mom) support lots of missionaries. And my dad has gotten to serve as a missionary. He has went to Africa, Brazil & other countries as well as serving here in America. He uses his telephone splicing & repair skills to put phones in mission hospitals, schools, churches & camps!

So these are just a few things I love about my dad!

I love you Dad! I'm so thankful that God made you my dad! Thank you for being my dad!!
Love, your daughter!

Monday, June 7, 2010

What if I really had the Joy of the Lord?

This past Sunday, we had the Mwangaza Children's Choir ( at our church. Watching these children dance & sing for the Lord really made me stop & think!  "What if I really had the Joy of the Lord in my life?" What if I woke up eager to tell others about my Savior? What if I was always ready to sing & dance to the Lord?

Sadly, most of the time I don't. Many days I spend my time selfishly thinking of me & my own problems. Many days I just plod through my day with no joy, no worship, just sadness & apathy. I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't live out my faith. I don't put my Savior first. Why? Partly because I get caught up in the world & all that living here in America offers. Partly because I'm selfish & I think of myself & what I can do or what I have or don't have. Partly because I don't truly trust my Savior for life! I don't ask Him to fill me with His Joy. I don't let Him! I let the worthless concerns of everyday life drag me down. I let the pain overwhelm me. I let the frustration get to me. I DON'T filter life through God's Grace! I don't see this world & my life through God's Eyes!

What would my life look like if everyday I woke up & said "My Savior died for me! Oh what Grace!", "My Savior takes care of me. He guides me & shepherds me" & "Do you know my Savior?" What if I woke up everyday & really praised God for my life, my family, my salvation? What if I strived every day to put God first & truly Worship Him? What if I spent more time with God? What if I memorized more of His Word?  What if I really loved Him the way He loves me?

I can't comprehend how my life would change... But will I do these things? or will I let the apathy & cares of this world pull me down?

Lord, Change me! Fill me with Your Joy! Let me be a Shining Light for You! Shine in me! Change me, because I can't change myself!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day Rant

Yesterday day was Memorial Day. It's a day to remember those who died in War. It's a tradition started after the Civil War and continued to this day. I'm so thankful for all the soldiers who have fought to keep our country free for everyone!

War is not nice, it's not pretty, it's not something we want to see happen. BUT it does happen in this fallen world because people are sinful & full of pride! When someone wants to take power & use it for their own elevation & domination, then wars happen. I'm thankful for the men & women who have heard the call for people to stop injustice and to preserve freedom! When they make that choice, they give their all! Their heart, their souls & many times their lives. For that, we remember & honor them.

I'm proud to have a long heritage of brave patriots in my family. Many of my relatives fought in the civil war to help bring freedom to ALL in America! I know some fought in WWI & WWII & Korea. I'm so proud of my dad who went to Vietnam as a newlywed. I'm so thankful for the chaplain who led him to the Lord & set him on the right path. I'm so thankful to God for protecting my dad and bringing him home as many didn't come home!

No matter the reason for the war, when our country called, brave men & women have stood up & said yes! I'm thankful for them all! I'm also thankful for those soldiers who have served during peacetime. Thanks to our strong military, many wars have been avoided in the past! Our soldiers have given their time, their strength, their lives to protect those of us who appreciate them & even for those who "hate" them. Without our soldiers, those in our country & many of those in our world would not be free & would not be able to say & do the things they want. Many of our soldiers died so people could have the right to say they hate our soldiers, they hate our freedom, they hate our American way of life! I just can't comprehend how people in this world can not see that if it wasn't for the American Soldier fighting bad guys, much of the world would be imprisoned or slaves! And even in war, Americans are compassionate. Every city we've ever fought in or bombed, we have rebuilt!! No other country in the world does that!!! And many times, the rebuilding process has cost more soldiers their lives!!!!

So, to those who have served or are serving in the greatest military in the world, I humbly thank you!! Without you, I would not be free to say what I want, do what I want & worship God in freedom! For those of you who knock the American soldier & the American way of life, PLEASE look at history & realize you wouldn't be free to knock us if it wasn't for us fighting so you could have the freedom to do so!! I love America! I'm proud to say I'm an American! We aren't perfect, but we believe in Freedom! Do you??

Monday, May 10, 2010

Blessings of Friends!

I decided this afternoon that I wanted to post a really positive blog post! So I decided to focus on the blessing of friends since I had been looking over my Facebook friend list.  I've always been a little sad at the thought that I don't have a "best friend" like you see in movies & tv shows. I never really have. I've had lots of really good friends, but never a best friend you share ever detail of your life with & have to do everything with (except my Hubby who truly is my soulmate!). But I realized today, I have something I feel is better! I am blessed with an over abundance of friends!! So let me tell you about some of my groups of friends!

1. My family - I have a big family! You've loved me since I was born & I'm so blessed to have you all in my life. And my family by marriage, you've always treated me as if I've always been a part of your family!!

2. My Church family - I'm so blessed to go to a church that is so loving & caring. We are all like one big family! You all are truly what a church should be!! You all care for me & my family! You pray for me & you guide us! Thank you all for being there for me!

3. My Friends from my youth - These are my elementary & high school friends, my church friends from Berean & Hope First Baptist & my 4-H friends! You made growing up so much fun! I'm blessed that so many are still a part of my life!!

4. My college friends - The Baptist Student Foundation (The Found) was such a vital part of my college life & it has left me with several lifelong friends! You all were there to see Jeff & I start our lives together! You were the first friends we both had!!

5. My GSPN community friends - These are friends I've met online at GSPN.TV/Forum . I've been fortunate to meet a lot of you in person. And even those I haven't have become such good friends.

6. My LoveBug friends - This is a group of awesome ladies that I met online when I was pregnant with Jessica. They are so special that over 5 years later, we are still friends! We shared our pregnancy & now our entire lives with each other.  I hope to meet you all in person someday!

7. Other Friends - I have lots of other friends that I've met over the years & kept.  Some are spouses of friends on the above lists. Some are former co-workers of Hubby's who have stayed friends with us over the years.

To all my friends, thank you for being a part of my life! I know my life has been blessed by knowing you!! I'm so thankful that God has put each one of you into my path at different times in my life & for different reasons. I pray that God blesses you as richly as He has me!

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Pit is no fun!

So if you follow me on Twitter (Joyfulmomlea) or Facebook, you know I fell in the pit this week. Not literally a pit, but a dark pit of self-pity & self-loathing. Not a fun place. Somehow this is a pit I keep falling into! I disliked myself at that moment. I think what makes it worse is I know I have no reason to be in the pit so I get mad at myself which makes the pit worse!

It's a dark place when you feel alone & feel like you're a bad mom, a bad wife, a bad Christian! I should have seen the pit coming as I've come off of several good weeks (homeschool conference with Hubby, Kids' birthdays, Women's Retreat w/my church). It seems like when I've been up, that's when Satan likes to take any vulnerable moment & turn it against me. The vulnerable moment was when I started really missing my Hubby! He'd been gone for 9 days (total of 12). Rather than taking a moment to miss him & then get on with my day, I wallowed. It's not pretty when we wallow. I sat on the couch feeling sorry for myself. "Poor me! Hubby's away all the time. Poor me! Hubby has all this time to himself & I have to work, work work! Poor me! I have to be single mom a lot of the time. Poor me! No one to give me a break. Poor me! I've let the kids play on the computer or watch tv too much & I'm a bad mom. Poor Me! the kids are being fussy & not obeying. Poor Me!

As you can see, I was focusing on me & all the negative. Fortunately, God prompted me to tweet a little about how I was feeling. That's when I saw a  positive side of Twitter & Facebook. Within minutes, I had friends encouraging me. One friend told me she feels the same way. Another friend said she'd be praying for me. Yet another friend told me I was doing a good job as a mom! That's when I cried & thanked God for showing me how blessed I was/am!! So this time, instead of being in the pit for days, even weeks, I was out of the pit within hours!

So I guess the point of this post is just to tell you that pits happen!! We all fall into one from time to time! When you do, focus on God instead of yourself & tell others! God gave us friends to support us & to encourage us! Stop pretending you're a perfect person who does everything right! or Stop telling yourself no one would like you if they knew what a horrible person you really are! I struggle with the 2nd one more than the first! We are all imperfect! The faster we realize that & reach out to all the other imperfect people God has placed around us, the faster we will climb out of the pit & possibly avoid it the next time!

If you find yourself in a pit, let me know! I'll encourage you, I'll pray for you & I'll even cry with you! We need to stick together, lift each other up & help each other along the road of this imperfect life!!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Life on the road!

This is not where I ever envisioned my life being!  Traveling with 3 kids A LOT! I really figured we'd be the typical family that is home & involved in all sorts of sports, 4-H, school & church activities. BUT that is not where God has placed our family! He has made us unique & given us a different life than most!

Life on the road has it's ups and downs so I thought I'd share some of those. First the downs, then the ups!

Down #1 - it's a lot of work to pack 3 kids plus 2 adults for a week(or more) on the road. Trying to make sure we have enough clothes, school work & activities for the week. And most of the time, I have to do the packing on my own as Hubby is gone more weeks than kids & me.

Down #2 - Keeping kids occupied & quiet is sometimes quite a challenge. It's a little easier when you have a nice 2 room suite like we have now!

Down #3 - Not being able to have kids participate in activities that require consistent attendance over long period of time (like baseball or soccer). We never know when we will be on the road.

Down #4 - Having to be away from Hubby at times. He travels 3 weeks a month & we can't always go with him, so there are many times we must be apart. It's hard on me as I have to run household myself plus I have to be away from Hubby!! It's hard on kids not having Daddy home all the time.

Down #5 - It's a little more expensive than being home. We try to get food for eating in the room when we can, but don't always have microwave & frig. Plus you can only eat so much cold or microwaved food! Also Hubby has to pay hotel, rental car & his food expenses up front then be reimbursed so we have to have lots of money free to do that, so less money to pay bills & apply towards getting out of debt.

Seems like a lot of downs, but there are also lots of ups!

Up #1 - We get to be with Hubby! It's so nice to be able to pick up & go with Hubby a lot! Lots of family time while traveling to & from hotels & while at the hotel! Better than being apart all the time!

Up #2 - POOL!! Most hotels Hubby stays at have a pool. We've gotten a lot of swim time in over the last few years! All 3 kids have learned to swim! Plus we've had lots of family time! It's so much fun to play together in the pool. The kids love chasing Daddy in the pool & then dunking him. We also have swim races & splash contests.

Up #3 - Sightseeing! We've had the opportunity to visit a lot of places. We've seen the ocean in Delaware, visited the Capital of our country (DC is awesome!), seen the Gulf of Mexico in Florida, and spent a day in Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom!  We've stayed in or drove through several states including Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware & then Washington, DC. We've been to state parks, historical sites, museums and beaches! My kids have traveled more in their childhood that I have most my life!

Up #4 - hands on learning! Since we homeschool, we've been able to use our trips as learning tools. We learn geography by mapping where we've been and studying about each state we've been to. What better way to learn about a state than seeing it! The kids have learned about our country's leaders by visiting Washington DC. They've learned about planes, the Air Force & aviation history by visiting the National Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. They've learned about life in the 1850s by visiting a 1850s village in Kentucky! They've learned about the Ocean & Gulf of Mexico by visiting Florida & Delaware. They've seen mountains, oceans, rivers, woods, plains & other natural & man-made wonders!

Up #5 - lots of family interaction. When you are stuck in a hotel room or a vehicle for long lengths of time, you have to interact. At home, we tend to spread out & do our own thing sometimes so being in a smaller space has brought us closer. We've learned to get along & communicate better. We've had lots of interesting conversations. We've talked about history, human behavior, what we believe, God's provision for us & other widely varying topics.

Up #6 - some couple time! Thanks to wonderful Parents & In-Laws, I've been able to go with Hubby on a few of his trips without the kids. It's been wonderful to get away with him and just relax even though our Denver trip ended with me in the hospital with extremely high blood pressure.

Up #7 - hotel points! Hubby spends lots of time in hotels & has earned lots of free nights in hotels. This means we can do some pleasure trips too! We are currently planning a vacation trip back to DC later this year. We also have free hotel nights for the Homeschool convention next week so more money for curriculum!

Overall, Life on the road has been positive. Sure, we have our bad times (fighting kids, weariness) but I wouldn't trade this experience for anything!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Saying "NO!" to the busyness of life!!

Think about your day, your week, your month, your life. Is it too busy?

In our society, we have lots of pressure to be busy! Are you always on the run to get your kids to school, to school activities, to church activities, to sports practice, to piano practice or to get yourself to the gym, to the store, to church or other activity? 

What if we said "NO!" to the busyness of life?  What would that look like? Is it even possible?

It IS possible. We've been doing it. It's been hard as there is lots of pressure to be involved in everything! Be prepared to upset some people because you've said no to their activities. Be prepared to hear how you're sheltering your kids or how you're cheating them of the opportunity to _________ (fill in blank with any activity) or how they won't be well rounded. Be prepared to hear how you are cheating yourself out of "you" time or how you are letting them down because you aren't putting their cause or activity first! But, it is possible! And I believe it's beneficial to you & your family.

I think one thing that has helped us is that we homeschool. We don't have the pressure that public school puts on your family. We aren't tied to their schedule. We don't have to schedule life around school. We can schedule our school work around life. We can pack up & travel with hubby anytime we want. We just grab our school books & take them with us!

We didn't make a big decision to step back from the busy life, we just kind of evolved into it. It started with deciding not to get involved in a lot of sports that everyone else was involved in. Then we decided to travel some with hubby so we could be together as a family. That decision led to missing some church activities & neighborhood activities, but it has strengthened our family.

I've found the more we focus on family, the easier it has been to say "NO!" to other things. I like not having to run out to activities every night of the week. I like being able to concentrate on my family! I love playing games with my hubby & kids! I love being able to pick up & travel with them! I love having the time to just cuddle on the couch & watch a TV show or movie as a family! I feel like we've gone back to the time when family was #1 & outside activity was just an occasional thing! My kids may not be able to play soccer & baseball & basketball & play piano  or boast about the myriad of other "activities" they've done, but they should be able to look back & say "My family had fun together & family was very important to my mom & dad!"

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with any of the things I've mentioned. Sports are good. Church activities are good. Other activities are good. The problem comes when we feel, due to the pressure of this culture, that we have to do everything or we are bad parents or bad people if we don't.

So, we will continue to step back & say "NO!" to the busyness of life! My children will only be young for a little while & I want to treasure this time & not spend it rushing from one activity to another! What about you?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

God's Awesome Provision!

Today started out to be a normal day - Exercise, school, lunch, relax, dance. Well, that's not what happened & it's a good thing it didn't as I'll explain!

While Exercising, I got a phone call from my parents saying they were on their way up to visit & help me get our Snow Blower running.  So I hurriedly finished & picked up the living room a little. When they got here, my Mom noticed how loud our furnace was. Dad listened & immediately called a friend of his who fixes furnaces. After a short phone call, Dad said his friend would be coming up after lunch to do a service call for us as it sounded serious.

So, since my parents would stay till after the furnace was fixed, they took us out to get some clothes for my kids. All 3 kids have had growth spurts & needed new underclothes & David needed new jeans. We came home with 5 sacks of clothes & full stomachs as they took us to lunch.

We came home & Dad got my Snow Blower running & even gave me lessons on using it! Yea! I can now use it to clear my drive instead of shoveling it when Hubby isn't home! We even cleared a neighbor's driveway that hadn't been cleared from the last snow.

Then Dad's friend showed up & diagnosed the problem with our furnace. The blower motor had a bearing going out. He said it would have completely died within the next 24 hrs & we would have been without heat!! Dad & he were able to go get a new blower motor & get it fixed!

Then we (kids, My parents & I) met my Aunt Sue & Aunt Linda at Sam's Club to get things for my Mamaw's 90th Birthday party in March. Then off to dance & then back home!

So, God provided for us for a need we didn't even realize we had! God lead my parents to come up today to fix my snow blower so Dad could hear my loud furnace! God arranged for Dad's friend to be able to come up today & fix it (a lot cheaper than if we'd called a local company!!) before we it broke & we were without heat!! God through my parents provided clothes for my kids! God provided awesome weather so I got to see my parents & my Aunts! So tonight I am so very thankful that God loves me enough to provide answers to my needs, even before I even knew I had them!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Everything is right with the world!

Well, Everything is not right with the world as this world has gone crazy! But, last week I had one of those times where it felt like everything was right with the world!

Hubby had been gone for 2 weeks. He came home on Friday night (1/29/10). We had a great family day on Saturday! Then the kids went to the grandparents on Sunday after church. Hubby & I went out for supper at O'Charleys (my favorite place to eatout) as a late anniversary dinner (our anniversary was Dec 29th) &  early Birthday dinner for hubby (his birthday is Feb 8th).

On Monday, we headed to Northern Kentucky (near Cincy) for 2 nights. We just spent time together on Monday & Tuesday morning. We went to the Creation Museum, out to eat, sat in hottub, went to Apple Store & just enjoyed being together.

Then Tuesday afternoon we picked up Anne, a friend from Germany who's studying in SC, at the Cincy airport. Then we all went to our friends' Cliff & Stephanie's house for a LOST party. It was so cool to be with 30+ friends & watching Lost together! Then several of us had breakfast together the next morning. Then we had the privilege of helping Anne get to Indy to catch a flight home. We got our kids back sometime during that day too ;-) (Anne is sitting on the flour next to Jeff)

Then Thursday through Monday morning we had lots more family time. Several times during that week, I found myself thinking "How'd I get so blessed?" I have wonderful kids who love me. They may drive me crazy at times, but they really are great kids! I have the best parents & in-laws any girl could have! And they love to spend time with my kids! I have lots of friends! I have a warm, comfy home to come home to!

But the biggest blessing is my Hubby! We've been together for 21 1/2 yrs & married for 19 yrs 1 month & 12 days! He is my best friend! I love to hang out with him. We watch tv, play video games or just hang out! He makes me laugh! He knows how to cheer me up when I need it. For almost 20 years now, he's been my friend, my lover, my hubby, my soulmate! I love him more now than the day I married him! I just feel so blessed to have him!

So, this past week was one of those weeks where everything seemed right with the world & I couldn't help but Praise GOD for how He's blessed me! I love it when God gives me an AWESOME week after I've been in the valley! When times get tough, and the nights get long, I can look back at this week & see this will pass & the good will come! God is so good to give us little glimpses of Heaven here in this world!