Monday, December 29, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Dec. 29, 2008

FOR TODAY December 29, 2008...
Outside my window...the sky is blue, the sun is shining, the weather is in the 70's. We're supposed to get a weak cold front, but it'll only bring the temps down about 5 degrees.
I am thinking...it was such a fun Christmas. This is the first time I've gone on the internet in a week, and I didn't miss it.
I am thankful for...my family, friends, neighbors. For the kindness people show this time of year. Oh, and for clearance sales!
From the learning rooms...still working on homework packets, and we'll be playing E's new Scrabble to help with spelling. My sister sent E a pop bottle science experiment kit that he's also excited to try.
From the kitchen...spaghetti & meatballs. Yum!
I am wearing...olive green tank top, beige capris, flip flops.
I am creating...nothing today.
I am going...to take down all the Christmas decorations this week. I'll probably leave the tree up a few more days, though.
I am reading...Exodus for my morning devotions. My son R got me Multiple Blessings by Kate Gosselin, and I read it in 2 days. Very well written.
I am hearing...the TV in the family room. E and I are the only ones awake. I can hear R breathing.
Around the house...taking down all the Christmas decor will take me about 2-3 days.
One of my favorite things...is the 2 weeks my kids get off from school. It's nice to have them at home.
A few plans for the rest of the week: the year will end, and 2009 will begin. I've got a feeling it will be a very important year. Many changes, that's for sure. I might not be on the 'net much this week either. I need to spend as much time as possible with my kids before school starts again next week.
Here is prayer request I am sharing...pray for peace in Israel. Did you know the Bible tells us to? It's in Psalms 122:6 - "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you."

Happy New Year everyone! Can't wait to see what God has planned for us!
Peggy at Simple Woman's Daybook is on vacation, but I still wanted to share what's going on.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Dec 21, 2008

FOR TODAY December 21, 2008...
Outside my window...bright & sunny. We're supposed to be getting a cold front in today, but that'll only bring the temps to the 50's in the morning and 70's in the afternoon. Nope, no white Christmas in South Florida.
I am thinking...I hope my hubby's gift gets here this week. I ordered late, and it already shipped, but there's a chance it won't get here by Wednesday.
I am thankful for...Jesus coming to earth as a baby to die for my sins. My family being together for Christmas. My daughter doing an amazing worship session at her youth group.
From the learning rooms...E got some homework packets that we'll be working on.
From the kitchen...meat patties - my kid's favorites.
I am wearing...I'm still in my nightdress - shame on me! I'll be changing into capris and tank top soon.
I am creating...plans for Christmas day.
I am going...to enjoy this week as much as possible.
I am reading...Genesis for my morning devotions, and hopefully I'll get some books I asked for for Christmas so I can have more stuff to read.
I am hoping...that people everywhere will celebrate the birth of our Savior. Christmas isn't about the presents under the tree; it's about the present that hung on a tree.
I am hearing...the TV in the family room and the boys talking. There's a 13 year difference between these brothers, but they love each other so much. Daughter's still sleeping.
Around the house...plenty of cleaning to do today, but I'm going to take it one step at a time.
One of my favorite things...is Christmas of course!!
A few plans for the rest of the week: hispanics celebrate December 24th in a big way. We'll be going to my m-i-l's house for dinner and then open some presents at midnight. Christmas day we'll spend together as a family here at home. Saturday is A and E's birthday - she and her little brother were born exactly 10 years apart!
Here is picture thought I am sharing...I'll save the picture spot for later in the week when we're opening presents.
Merry Christmas to everyone. May you all enjoy this season, remembering the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It's the real reason for the season!!
To join in the fun, visit Peggy at the Simple Woman's Daybook. http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas pictures!

Calvary Fellowship, my home church, is giving away pictures with Santa on Sundays before and after services. So, we decided to get some pics taken. My husband and oldest son don't attend church, but there's no reason why my daughter, little boy and I couldn't have our fun picture with Santa. And it was fun!!

Yep, that's the 3 of us. I think we're a fine looking bunch.


My son and I look happy. My daughter...not so much. Don't worry baby girl. Good things come in small packages.



Looks like Pastor John is a bit jealous. My daughter, on the other hand, is overjoyed.

If you live in the Miami Lakes area, come on by, take a pic with Santa and listen to a great message on the real reason for the season. If you're not in Florida, come on down! The weather is perfect!




My New Nativity


Here’s my newest Nativity. My sister sent it to me for my birthday/Christmas. And it’s a good thing too, because I only had 7 Nativities and they were lonely ;-). Actually, I’m very thankful. I’ve seen tons of beautiful Christmas items but haven’t purchased any because our finances call for only buying what we need, and if you’ve seen pictures of my house (in a previous post) you know I don’t NEED Christmas decorations. So God blessed me through my sister and gave me something that gives me much to be thankful for and much to think about.

As I began searching for a place for my new Nativity (it ended up in my dining room, the only spot in the house I could squeeze it into), I thought about the message Pastor Bob gave this Sunday, coincidentally about the Nativity scene. Many times we accept things because it’s what we’ve been told time and time again, therefore it must be true. But if we look closer we find discrepancies, which can ultimately take us away from the true meaning of what we’re looking for.

Take the Nativity, for instance. It’s beautiful, and looks so serene. Except that any woman who has given birth knows there’s nothing serene about it. I can’t imagine it being a “Silent Night” during labor and delivery. Another issue is where Jesus was born. Yes, we know He was born in Bethlehem, Joseph’s hometown. Joseph and Mary had gone to Bethlehem for the census. At that time Mary was 9 months pregnant, ready to burst. The Bible tells us in Luke 2:7 that “there was no room for them in the inn” and that’s why Jesus was placed in a manger at birth. The word here translated “inn” is the Greek word “kataluma”, which means guest room. Remember, Joseph was back in his hometown. He most likely had relatives living there. Yet he and Mary couldn’t find room in the “kataluma”, or guest rooms. His own family turned them away because Mary’s pregnancy was questionable. After all, she became pregnant before her marriage to Joseph. Bad, bad, bad. No one wanted to open their doors to this scandal, so off went Joseph and found them a “barn”. Hmm, was it really a barn? My new nativity looks more like a cathedral, with its gold leaf walls and mirrors. Other nativities include a stable. But the truth is that Jesus was born in a cave. That’s where the animals were kept in Israel – caves in mountainsides. Not the most glamorous setting. Our picture of Jesus’ birth begins to change.

Then there’s the whole three kings story. What does the Bible say concerning this story? Did it really happen?

Yes, it did. Sort of. Not the way we typically hear it told, though. Our story begins in Matthew chapter 2. Verse 1 says, “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem.” Note first off that there is no number of men. The Bible does not tell us there were 3 of them, nor are they named anywhere. This idea came about 700 years after Jesus’ birth. We know there were 2 or more men because it’s in the plural, but no exact number is mentioned. We also know from this verse that they weren’t “kings”. They were wise men, Magi, Persian priests most likely from Babylon who were astronomers, men who studied the stars (not to be confused with astrologers. This had nothing to do with horoscopes). Magi are spoken of in Daniel 4:8-9, when King Nebuchadnezzar was looking for someone to interpret his dream. Magi were known as magicians, interpreters of dreams and star gazers. These magi were seeking what Daniel had spoken to them about – scriptures that spoke of the coming Messiah. Numbers 24:17 says, “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.” The wise men were looking out for this star which would announce the birth of the Christ. When they saw it, they came from the East looking for the King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2). Herod, who wanted no competition, sent the wise men to find “the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.” The word here for young child is "Paidion", which means toddler. Notice that in verse 11, “when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother.” Jesus was no longer in the manger; He was at home with His family. That’s because from the time the wise men saw the star, to when they were able to travel all the way to Jerusalem, till they actually found Jesus, He was probably about 18 months old. Once again, the picture of our nativity scene is changed.

Pastor Bob suggests that, to make it accurate, the nativity should be split up, with the wise men far off on their way to see Jesus. I don’t do this for 2 reasons: 1) I have no other place to put my wise men, since my house is already jam-packed with Christmas decorations, and 2) I want them there to remind me of something very important. See, the scribes, who were experts in the law, knew where the Messiah was to be born (Micah 5:2). They knew about the star and they should have been looking for Him. So why weren’t they? Because they’d become comfortable. They lived in a land where they were allowed to continue in their religious traditions and live a safe, comfortable life. They knew the law, they knew the prophesies, but they didn’t know God. The wise men were truly wise; they had a desire to know God. They traveled 600 miles through the desert to reach Jesus. They put their entire life on hold to find Him. They weren’t rich, but they were committed. They brought the very best gifts they could find, not leftovers but their very best. We live in a country not very different from what the Jews in Jesus’ time had: we are free to worship as we please, free to speak our minds, free to have the career we choose and live our lives in comfort. We consider this a blessing, and it is. But it can also be a curse, if we let these things take priority over our life instead of making Jesus Lord over all.

I’m sure everyone has made their Christmas lists (or in the case of wives, hinted at our husbands). Have you ever wondered what God wants for Christmas? Thankfully, He has already told us:

“He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
but to do justly,
to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God?”
– Micah 6:8.

Simply put: For Christmas, God wants to be First in our lives. Won’t you give God what He wants for Christmas?

PS – Thanks for all the gifts you sent, Sis. I’m hoping it will be cold Christmas morning so my feet won’t sweat when I wear my new penguin socks!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Dec. 15, 2008

FOR TODAY December 15, 2008...
Outside my window...lots and lots of sunshine. It's 74 degrees and breezy. The weather is more like spring than late fall. My heart goes out to all who are under snow.
I am thinking...this was a really nice weekend.
I am thankful for...another birthday gone by, my daughter home from college, my son E feeling better after a bout with fever and a sore throat, my son R working.
From the learning rooms...college classes are done, and E finishes up school this week. He's so happy!
From the kitchen...pot roast in the slow cooker.
I am wearing...a brown tank top, brown and white shorts, flip flops. Did I mention it's going to be 80 degrees today?
I am creating...cakes this week, to give to my neighbors for Christmas.
I am going...to finish wrapping some gifts today.
I am reading...Genesis for my morning devotions, the chapter of Proverbs that corresponds with the day (today is the 15th, so I read chapter 15), and 5 Psalms a day.
I am hoping...for a calm, relaxed weekend with my family.
I am hearing...my daughter singing and playing her guitar. I missed that sound so much!
Around the house...laundry, bathrooms.
One of my favorite things...is hearing my daughter worship the Lord with song. She's very talented, and has chosen to use that talent for God's glory. Praise Him!
A few plans for the rest of the week: Awana and Bible study on Wednesday, though my daughter will be at youth group playing so I'm torn which to go to. My friend LN is taking me to lunch this week for my birthday (which was yesterday, so it's belated). Taking it one day at a time from there.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...E's picture with Santa. Well, I will have it later on. Gotta scan it first. Stay tuned!
To join in the fun, visit Peggy at the Simple Woman's Daybook. http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Bible Verse for Today

As I read this during my devotions this morning, I thought how appropriate it is during our hard economic times, so I wanted to share it.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in
the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

- Psalm 46:1-3
Especially now, as we remember Christ's birth, may we remember to seek Him during good times and bad.

The Boy's Room

My sister called me on this one. I'd totally forgotten about posting the pictures of my boy's room. I painted it a couple of months ago and they both love the color, though my oldest son had trouble deciding what he wanted and ultimately his little brother chose the color. I'm satisfied that the room looks cleaner.


The room, previous to it's new paint color, was a sunshiny yellow. My son R had a strong opinion about this color: he "abhorred" it. That's the word he used. Strong, don't you think?








This is the opposite wall. I liked the fact that, since the bedroom furniture is maple with blue accents, and yellow is on the opposite side of the color wheel, it coordinated nicely. Unfortunately none of my boys agreed.


I began painting the room in what I call a charcoal blue. It's similar to the blue on the furniture but with a grey undertone. I would say it's a very masculine color. What I like most is how it looks against the white baseboards and maple floors.
By the end of the day we were done. E came from school and insisted on helping paint his room, and he did pretty well. It was late by the time we were done, so I only took one picture. By then I didn't want to be in that room anymore. It did turn out nice I have to admit, even though I'm not fond of blue (at least for decorating). The boys love it, and that's all that matters.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Dec. 8, 2008

FOR TODAY December 8, 2008...
Outside my window...the sun is shining brightly, it's a cool 60 degrees and will probably get to 75 degrees max. It's breezy and cool and oh how I love Florida!!!
I am thinking...what a great week this will be, praise God!
I am thankful for...my family, my home, but mostly my relationship with Jesus Christ.
From the learning rooms...we're reading The ADVENTure of Christmas by Lisa Whelchel. It has a different story about Christmas everyday, linking items like the tree and candy canes with Jesus, and activities, though I admit we haven't done any yet. Learning multiplication tables too.
From the kitchen...baked pork chops. Yum!
I am wearing...still in my house dress. I need to get changed.
I am creating...not a whole lot this week, I'm afraid.
I am going...to run to Costco or Wally World for wrapping paper.
I am reading...Genesis for my morning devotions, the chapter of Proverbs that corresponds with the day (today is the 8th, so I read chapter 8), finishing Looking Ahead and The Purpose Driven Life.
I am hoping...my daughter and son do well on their finals this week.
I am hearing...the whirr of the computer fan. Not much else.
Around the house...I finished laundry yesterday but already there's more to do. Bathrooms on Monday as usual.
One of my favorite things...is watching Christmas movies. Lifetime, ABC Family and Hallmark have had some nice ones, plus we have a video and DVD collection whenever there's nothing better on.
A few plans for the rest of the week: Wednesday will either be Awana or a Christmas activity at my friend's son's school. Haven't decided which yet. My daughter comes home on Friday!! Oh yeah, and my birthday is this week. I'll be turning 29 for the 16th time.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...my daughter's bedroom. You didn't think I stopped decorating at the bedrooms, did you?

To join in the fun, visit Peggy at the Simple Woman's Daybook. http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Learning to be a better shopper

I've always considered myself to be a smart shopper. Look for bargains, check sales, that sort of thing. As of late, though, I'd gotten into the habit of buying just because I felt myself deserving. I worked hard, so a little indulgence wouldn't hurt, right? This was especially true when it came to shopping for clothes.

I love clothes. There, I've said it. The first step to healing is admitting you have a problem, right? Of course, I didn't consider it a problem when I was working. If I spent $200 or more on a shopping spree, so what? I needed clothes for work, for play, for church, for any special occasion that was coming up. There was always an excuse. I'd get upset when the same outfits I'd paid full price for were on sale, but not too upset. I'd gotten them when I needed them, and that's all that mattered.

Times have changed now. I don't have a lot of "dispensible" income. Two kids in college, one in elementary school, with one salary, is not a recipe for overspending. We've purposed to stay out of debt, so I've had to curb my spending. It hasn't been easy, but I saw this week how my heavenly Father is teaching me not only good spending habits, but patience as well.

My very favorite clothing store is New York and Company. I probably buy 95% or more of my outfits there. They have clothes appropriate for women my age, which is nice, since so many stores are geared to a much younger market. Whenever I was in the mall last month (several times doing my Christmas shopping) I'd stop by my favorite store and take a look at what they had. Oh, such lovely blouses, such nice dress pants, even some sales! But try as I may, I couldn't find anything that I liked at a price that would justify purchasing it. I bought a purse for myself and a couple as gifts only because they were on sale for $9.99. Surprisingly, instead of leaving the mall depressed because I hadn't found anything to buy, I'd feel glad that I hadn't spent money unnecessarily. Little did I know that was the lesson my Father was teaching me.

A coupon came in the mail from NY&C due to the whole Black Friday thing, with an additional coupon that would expire December 8. Since my birthday is coming up this month and my hubby had asked what I wanted, I told him I'd like to see if I could get some clothes with the coupon I'd received. He thought it was a good idea and told me to go ahead and pick out my gift. I figured I'd find one outfit and that would be that. I was shocked when I got to the store. EVERYTHING was on sale! All blouses and sweaters were 50% off. Dress pants were insanely reduced. I was in shoppers heaven! I was able to get 2 pairs of dress pants, two blouses and a skirt, 5 pieces, for just over $57.00. Thanks to the sales and the coupon I saved over $129.00!! I realized then that my Father had kept me from buying when prices were higher, and because I obeyed Him, I was able to get what I wanted and more, without spending a fortune.

Now I understand the apostle Paul when he said, "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11). Obedience is worth more than anything to the Lord, and when we obey, we are greatly rewarded . Obedience with money is one of the hardest, because we don't always think God cares about money matters, or we assume it's our money because we earned it. Letting God be in charge of our money has been one of the biggest teachings I've received since I stopped working. But I'm sure He has many more lessons in store for me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Winter Wonderland

Ever wonder what the North Pole looks like? Well, wonder no more! I have a mini replica in my home that takes 2-3 days to set up each year. Why do I put myself through this torture? 'Cause it's fun!!




Our wall unit in the family room is typically filled with the usual: family photos, a few candles, some chachkis. The day after Thanksgiving, these are all put away to make room for my many music boxes and collectibles.

For 10 years I sold Christmas decorations through party plans. The first seven years I sold Christmas Around the World (also known as House of Lloyd), one year I sold North Star, and the last two years were with Kingdom Treasures. None of these companies exist anymore, but during these years I was able to amass a formidable amount of items, both for myself and to give away as gifts. I try to place them in sets. This is the right side of my wall unit. The top shelf has my Santa teapots. Bottom shelf is all about penguins. The middle shelf is more of a hodge podge, the focal point being the mouse musical in the center.







On the left hand side are my water balls on the bottom shelf. There are more penguins on the top shelf (penguins are my favorites!) and the center has snowmen, Santas and an animal music box that my daughter loved as a child. There's a merry-go-round in the middle that is darling. It was one of the last items I got, before Kingdom Treasures folded in 2005.












In the center of the wall unit are 3 plush collectibles that I got from my dear friend DeeAnne who got me started selling party plan. I display these with love.



A view of my kitchen counter. This is only part of all I do in the kitchen. The rabbits on the upper right hand corner are the House of Lloyd family, Floyd, Flossie, Grandpa Lloyd, Grandma Flo, and the kids, Hip & Hop. I bought the chairs at Big Lots and display them together.





This is a view of the first of three villages. All the houses are gingerbread. It's not the clearest pic, since it's in front of the window and the sun is coming in strong in the morning. This is our dining room. Notice the palm trees in the back yard. Kind of throws off the whole "North Pole" theme ;-).











This is my dining room table centerpiece. It actually consists of several pieces that I put together: in the center is a horn covered in jeweled fruits and ribbons which is flanked by two reindeer candleholders. These are surrounded by poinsetta wreaths. A gold colored runner over a dark green tablecloth complete the table. It looks very elegant, even though the furniture itself is more casual.



















My other Christmas villages are in the living room, by the tree. These are regular miniatures, somewhat Victorian houses. I don't have any of the Department 56 collectibles; they're gorgeous but just too expensive for me. I have my House of Lloyd houses, Kingdom Treasures houses, and a few I picked up at Walmart for a very good price. They work fine with the other houses which is all I care about.
















This is the Cool Family. Aren't they cool?!? There's one for each member of our family: Dad, Mom, big brother, sister, and youngest brother. They're wearing their ski gear, ready to hit the slopes (difficult to do in South Florida). They stand in front of the two villages which are in front of the living room window. Can you see Santa peeking in the corner?










This is the view from the front door. The snowman family under the coffee table is the Freezeman Family from House of Lloyd. There are a few collectibles on the coffee table from my husband's company Christmas parties as well as candlesticks that match the horn in the dining room. The wreath on our front door is also the jeweled fruit theme. You can see the tree in the background (there's a pic of the tree in my previous post, The Simple Woman's Daybook).

Behind the loveseat is a sort of curio cabinet that, just like the wall unit in the family room normally displays photos and collectibles, but at Christmas time displays some of my favorite pieces, like my many Nativity scenes. I have 5 Nativities, some very large, others very small, but all important in reminding us what Christmas is really about.















Here's a better view of the right side of the cabinet. I have a lovely Nativity at the top, some Santa collectibles in the next two shelves, and stuffed penguins at the bottom. I would always put the plush animals at the bottom so my son would play with those and not the ceramic items. He's almost 9 years old now, so I'm not concerned with him breaking anything, but out of habit I still put the stuffed toys at the bottom.















By this time you must be thinking, "No, really, why would anyone go through all that trouble? Packing, unpacking, and repacking again in January is insane!" Yeah, well, maybe I am a bit crazy. Actually, we didn't have Christmas when I was growing up. No, I wasn't born before Christmas was invented (come on people!!). I was raised in a Jehovah's Witness household, and we didn't celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving, or any of the traditional Christian holidays. We weren't even allowed to watch holiday cartoons. While all the other kids were helping decorate a tree, and having big dinners, and getting presents, we were sitting at home with tv dinners and our same old toys. What was worse, even though we said we understood why we didn't celebrate Christmas, we really didn't. It made no sense not to celebrate the birth of our Savior. When I left that church, I wanted desperately to make up for lost time. Collecting Christmas decorations became obsessive. No matter how much I had, I wanted more. When I became a Christian, I realized Christmas isn't about the presents or the decorations. It's about giving. Jesus gave up His place in heaven to be born into a world that rejected Him. He gave His life to redeem us of our sins. He gives and gives and gives. We need to do the same. Yes, I still decorate like a mad woman, and enjoy doing it. I love having people over to share our collectibles with them. But mostly, I love remembering Jesus' birth and what it means to us. It reminds me that I need to share this with others. Do you know Jesus?

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Dec. 1, 2008

FOR TODAY December 1, 2008...

Outside my window...there is a slight drizzle under grey skies. Thank the Lord for the rain. My allergies were acting up all week from all the dust in the air. As soon as it began raining, my stuffy nose went away. I can breath again!

I am thinking...it can't really be December already, can it?

I am thankful for...so much that I wrote a post about it (see preceding post).

From the learning rooms...E is having trouble with reading. He's a good reader but a slow one, at least from his teacher's point of view. We'll need to get some more practice.

From the kitchen...honey lime chicken. I make it on a grill pan in the kitchen. Technically we can still barbeque, since the weather's been in the upper 50's to mid 70's, but it's raining.

I am wearing...my pink "Got Jesus?" t-shirt, jean capris and flip flops.

I am creating...a winter wonderland in my home (pics to follow).

I am going...nowhere today. Too much stuff to do around the house.

I am reading...the last 3 chapters of Revelation, then I'm done with the New Testament. I plan to start all over but I've also got some other reading I need to finish.

I am hoping...my small group shows up this week. Everyone was out of town or leaving town last week for the holiday.

I am hearing...my oldest son in the kitchen.

Around the house...clean up the master bath. My hubby put tiled the wall, since we haven't heard from the insurance company and he was tired of seeing the hole in the wall. Finish decorating the house, and of course laundry.

One of my favorite things...is our tradition of decorating the home the day after Thanksgiving. It takes several days to get everything up but we all look forward to it.

A few plans for the rest of the week: our last small group meeting tomorrow, Awana & Bible study on Wednesday.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...the Christmas tree! My daughter did most of the decorating, and I think she did a fabulous job. Love you and miss you my baby girl!




Want to participate? Just follow the link: http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/

My Short List of Thankfulness

I haven't logged on to the internet in what seems like forever, but that doesn't mean I'm not thankful for oh so many things. Here's my short list of thankfulness, 4 days after Thanksgiving but still just as relevant:

1 - I'm thankful for Jesus. He died on the cross for me, and because I've accepted His sacrifice I'm forgiven. I can't think of anything to be more thankful for.

2 - I'm thankful my family was together for Thanksgiving. My daughter came down from college and we spent from Wednesday night till Sunday afternoon with her at home. Since she left for college the house seems incomplete. This weekend it felt just right.

3 - I'm thankful for our financial situation. Despite the fact that I'm not working, my son isn't working and we're living on one income, all our bills are getting paid. There hasn't been a moment when we've had to worry about paying the mortgage, electric bill, food, or anything. God has made sure we have enough to live on, and then some. He has shown me that I'm never alone.

4 - I'm thankful for my church. What a great pastor we have, what great teachings each week, what wonderful friends. It's my home away from home.

5 - I'm thankful for children's ministry. It gives me the opportunity to serve, and watch these young lives transformed as they become friends with Jesus. This to me is the most important of all ministries (after my own family, of course).
6 - I'm thankful for my family, those close by and those far away. No matter where you are, I love you all.
7 - I'm thankful for my friends. Church friends, ex co-workers, cyber friends, all my friends. All of you enrich my life.

8 - I'm thankful that my Christmas shopping is DONE!!! Now I can concentrate on the true reason for the season and not on when the mall will be at its emptiest.

9 - I'm thankful that my home is almost completely decorated. There are still some items that need to come down from the attic but I should be done today. It looks so pretty!

10 - I'm thankful the elections are over. No more political commercials or phone calls! Well, at least till next year.

There's still so much more to be thankful for. We are so tremendously blessed. We have faith, freedom to read God's word, a home to live in filled with more than anyone could ever need. May we never forget to be thankful, and never take anything for granted. Thank you Lord Jesus, for all that I am and all that I have.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Nov. 24, 2008

To join in the fun, see Peggy at http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/

For Today...

Outside my Window...it is absolutely lovely. It's in the 60's now, going to the 70's by noon, no humidity, with a cool breeze and the sun trying to peek out of a background of greyish skies. It might rain this morning though not much is expected.

I am thinking...about how quickly this year has gone by. It's Thanksgiving week and there's so much to do.

I am thankful for...where do I start?!?! My daughter coming home this week from college, Thanksgiving day with family, Christmas season starting. Improving health, stable finances, all because of a Savior who loves me and takes care of me. Need I say more?

From the kitchen...I'm going to make the chicken pot pie I was supposed to make Friday but we had pizza instead. My son R was disappointed. He loves chicken pot pie. Can't let him down.

I am wearing...a peach tank top, pink shorts and flip flops. In November. I love Florida!

I am reading...almost done with the New Testament. Starting Revelation tomorrow. Thankfully I've taken a couple of end times classes this year that'll serve me well as I read about what is to come.

I am hoping...my daughter and her best friend get here safely on Wednesday, and that everyone has a blessed Thanksgiving, filled with, well, thanksgiving.

I am creating...actually, E and I already created a little Thanksgiving table decoration, thanks to a link from Marybeth Whalen, http://www.marybethwhalen.blogspot.com/.

I am hearing...absolutely nothing. Hubby and oldest son working, and youngest son at school. Peace & quiet.

Around the house...wash bedsheets & towels, sweep and mop. Oh, and bathrooms.

One of my favorite things...is Christmas music. I've been listening to Christmas carols in the car for the past two weeks. All kinds: traditional, contemporary Christian, symphonies, you name it I love it.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...Thanksgiving, of course! Daughter home on Wednesday, cooking and baking, fixing up the house for Christmas. Our town has its Festival of Lights on Friday, hope to see Main Street lit up and hear more Christmas music.
Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...the little turkey centerpiece E and I made.


Have a blessed day!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Family Traditions

My daughter will be home for the Thanksgiving holiday (yippee!!). While she's here, she'll be working on a project for her speech class. She's doing a presentation on family traditions, and hers will be about the tradition of decorating the home the day after Thanksgiving. This is exciting, because it never occurred to me to take pictures of the house being transformed from everyday mundane to Christmas delight. This will have to be scrapbooked, for sure.

When the two older children were small, we'd go to my in-laws for Thanksgiving dinner. I'd be up bright and early in the morning preparing ham, pea soup, rice, baking cakes, whatever it was my turn to bring. Thanksgiving dinner has always been after 6:00pm at my husband's family, so we'd stay until 11:00pm so we could put the kids to bed. That's when the fun would start.

Once the two were snug in bed (which was pretty easy, since they typically fell asleep in the car), I would begin the decorating. I would usually be up till after 1:00am setting up the tree, which was artificial at the time, getting the train around the tree, garland all over, and of course their stockings, which would have some type of treat like a children's Christmas tape (before the popularity of CD's). It was exciting for me to hear my son get up, go downstairs, then come running up to get his little sister. "Come quick, you gotta see this!!", he'd exclaim, and the two of them would run downstairs to the magic of Christmas.

When I began selling Christmas decorations through House of Lloyd's Christmas Around the World, I started a nice little collection of music boxes, nativities, stuffed toys, table settings, villages, and Santas, to the point that now it takes us 2 - 3 days to set everything up. My kids are now 21 yo, 18 yo and 8 yo, so they help with the decorating rather than Mom doing it all in one night. Still, it has become a fun (though long and tiring) tradition, with Christmas music in the background as we bring everything down from the attic, fill music boxes with batteries, and convert our home into our own Christmas wonderland. To be able to see it in pictures throughout the year will be extra special.

I can't wait to get started!! I think God is going to be teaching me something important during this family tradition time. Every day is an opportunity to learn; I plan to be alert and listening to what God has to say to me this year.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Becoming a Good Steward (this post is long!)

One of the many lessons I’m learning during this transition to stay at home-dom, is what it means to be a good steward. Especially in these harsh economic times, living on one salary can be a daunting task if we aren’t careful. Yet it can be done, and with good results, if we let ourselves be guided by the One who knows our needs best.

I’ve always considered myself to be frugal (my kids would say cheap, but I refuse to use such a demeaning expression in regards to myself). Yet looking at my spending habits I realize I was falling into the trap that so many Americans find themselves in now: spending without a plan, and falling into unnecessary debt. Now that I’ve had to reevaluate my role as homemaker and CFO of my household, the Lord has shown me what I was doing wrong and how I can fix it. Here are some of the ways I’ve learned to be a good steward of the gifts God has given my family:

I. Giving
I’ve always considered it to be important to give to my local church. My husband, however, sees things differently. My hubby is Catholic, though not a regular church attendee. When he does go, he sees no reason to put more than the obligatory dollar in the collection plate. As far as he’s concerned, churches have plenty of money and no need for additional funding. I guess for a while I thought the same; give a church too much money and they’ll take advantage and misspend. I realize now that giving is not about the recipient, it’s about the giver. It’s about what is in my heart, whether I accept the fact that everything I have comes from God and He rightly deserves that I give back from what has generously been given me. After telling His disciples not to worry about what to eat or drink, Jesus said to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33). When we seek first the kingdom, we give back what we’ve received because it brings us joy. Of course, when money is tight, it’s easy to say, “I don’t have enough to pay my bills; how can I give to the church? God wouldn’t want me to get into debt, right?” But when we do this, we’re actually telling God we don’t trust Him with our finances. Malachi 3:10 gives us this promise: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” Isn’t it worth it to trust God and be blessed over and above what we expect? I think it is. So I’ve tried my best to step up to the plate and be more regular in my giving. How has this affected us? My hubby asked me the other day, “Are you sure you’re paying all the bills?” I told him, “Of course.” “Then why,” he asked, “is there so much money in our checking account?” I think we know why :D .

II. Want Vs. Need
This is one that I’ve really had to work hard on. I was getting into the habit of buying because I saw something I liked, and justified it with, “I work hard, I deserve to get myself this,” or “What good is having the money if you can’t spend it?” Well, guess what. I don’t have a whole bunch of dispensable income anymore. So I’ve had to start asking myself, “Do I need it, or do I just want it?” Take Christmas decorations, for example. I used to host House of Lloyd’s Christmas Around the World parties (it was a catalog party plan, similar to Tupperware, but all the items were Christmas decorations). When they went out of business I sold for Kingdom Treasures. Part of my earnings included product that I could keep, resell, or give as gifts. My attic is full to the brim with decorations. It takes me 2 -3 full days to get everything down and set up in the house. I have not one, not two, but three Christmas villages. Two are in the living room and one in the dining room. Santa would feel right at home in my mini North Pole replica. Why, then, was I buying more stuff each year? I certainly didn’t need it. Sure, I would justify my purchases with the excuse that I didn’t have Christmas as a child (we were raised in the Jehovah’s Witness faith) so I had to make up for lost time. But as I walked through Target and saw the absolutely beautiful musical village pieces, drooling over the different stuffed animals and eyeing the tree ornaments, I felt the Lord ask me, “Do you need it, or do you just want it?” And the truth of the matter is, there is no legitimate excuse for me to fill my home with more decorations. God has given me enough to fill 2 houses, yet none of it reflects what Christmas is really about. I was getting so wrapped up in the getting that I was not focused on the real reason for Christmas: celebrating the birth of the Savior. That’s a big lesson to be learned. I am rethinking how Christmas will be celebrated in our home this year, so that the focus is on Christ, as it should be.

III. Shopping wisely
Food is a necessity. No one will argue that. So while my hubby would remind me to “only buy what we need,” this was another area where I was going overboard. Let me loose in Wal-Mart and watch the damage I can do! Each week I would cringe as I saw how much I was spending at the grocery store, but again I would justify my purchases. “It was on sale,” was one of my favorite lines. However, is it a good buy if you don’t really need it? Once again, the Lord was showing me that I needed to exercise self control in the spending department. Now, I’m a bookkeeper. It’s what I studied in school, and has always been linked to the jobs I’ve had, the last one as purchasing agent working directly with accounts payable. I’ve always had a spending budget. Problem is, I wasn’t really following it. It was more like a guideline, not a rule. When I sat down and began evaluating more closely what my spending was compared to my budget, I realized some changes needed to be made. This was something I definitely needed to turn over to the Lord. He started guiding me towards websites of women who are doing this everyday, with less money and great success. I took notes of what these women were doing: they were planning ahead. That meant to me, preparing a realistic budget and sticking to it no matter what. This is our income, and this is what we can spend. No going around it. The toughest place was in the grocery store. How was I going to maintain healthy spending habits while still providing my family with healthy meals? Truth be told, I was spending way too much on not so healthy junk food. Chips, cookies, drinks, things that cost a lot but aren’t very nutritious. To combat this, I started a meal plan. I looked for cost effective meals that would be nutritious and delicious, and snacks that I could prepare myself that my family could enjoy and I could feel good about giving them. Each week I prepare a menu for the following week. It’s something that I have to think about so that the meals aren’t boring or too repetitious. As for snacks, I look for things that are healthy and can be easily made at home, like oatmeal coconut chocolate chip cookies. Everyone loves them, they’re inexpensive to make and a much better alternative than some of the greasy stuff I was buying at my kid’s request. They want cake? I’ll bake one. Something different for dessert? How about Jell-O? I found that it wasn’t difficult at all to make these things for my family; instead, it was fun to make and watch them enjoy. In the process, my husband’s cholesterol and triglyceride levels have gone down, praise God. And each month, I’ve been able to stay under budget. Thank you once again Lord. This lesson was painful, but beneficial.

IV. Ask for discounts
Here is where pride comes in. There are people who don’t think twice about asking for a discount in a store or service department. I am mortified to ask for one. I’m afraid of getting a nasty look, perhaps subpar service because I ask for a better price. I wonder what people will think of me for asking for what I consider a “special favor”. In the end, I just don’t want anyone to know that money is tight and I have to stick to my budget. Wouldn’t that be humiliating, especially when I used to spend money like it was an easily replenishable resource? This was yet another teaching I was receiving from my Father. I can’t let my pride get in the way of what my family can afford. So this week, after not having had a haircut in 6 months, I called my hairdresser. She not only is excellent at her craft, she loves the Lord and has been in one of my small groups. I love her dearly, and telling her that I have a limited budget was humbling to say the least. I felt like I was cheating her out of her income, which she deserves for the service she offers, but I had to be honest and ask what she would do for me that would be within my budget. When she told me, I wanted to cry. She’d be willing to charge me half what I normally pay. When I asked, “Really, are you sure?”, her answer blew me away: “Of course. We take care of our friends.” Not only was God blessing me with a new haircut that I desperately need, at a price I can afford, but He also was letting me know that I’m loved (John 13:35). I think this was the most heartwarming lesson of all.

I’m a firm believer that all things happen for a reason, good or bad (Romans 8:28). But sometimes God needs to remind us just how blessed we really are. By following Jesus and being a good steward of all that He’s given me, I’ve seen how great the Father’s love for me is. And let me tell you, He loves me a WHOLE lot.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Nov. 17, 2008

To join in the fun, see Peggy at http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/
For Today...
Outside my Window...brrr!!! It was chilly this morning! 56 Degrees, and windy. Skies are clear baby blue and beautiful. Weather will be like this all week. Yay!
I am thinking...today is my cousin's 45th birthday. Mine is less than a month away. Where'd the time go? I still feel 25!
I am thankful for...feeling a whole lot better. Last dose of antibiotic today. I'm so glad; that medicine tastes nasty.
From the kitchen...kielbasa with onions. I slice the kielbasa on an angle, stir fry it in olive oil with sliced onions, then add half a small can of tomato sauce and beef broth or water. Let it thicken, and I'm done. I serve this with yellow rice & mixed veggies (sort of a rice pilaf) and oven fries. Yum!
I am wearing...a Florida Marlins t-shirt, baby blue capris and flip flops.
I am reading...the Gospel of John, and will start James tomorrow.
I am hoping...our church can raise money for special ministries. The goal: $25,000.
I am creating...not a whole lot, lately. Well, Thanksgiving plans I guess.
I am hearing...the tv on in the family room. My oldest son R is watching the news.
Around the house...a small to do list. Maybe I can get done early and do some scrapbookking.
One of my favorite things...is a clean and organized home. I hate clutter! When I go through the house and everything is where it should be, I am at peace.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...small groups on Tuesday, Awana on Wednesday. Pretty quiet the rest of the week.
Here is a prayer request I am sharing with you...let's pray that this holiday season is one of true thanksgiving. This isn't just "turkey day", it's a day to be thankful for the many blessings we have. Count them down; you'll be surprised just how much you have to be thankful for!
Have a blessed day!

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Nov. 10, 2008

To join in the fun, see Peggy at http://www.thesimplewoman.blogspot.com/
For Today...
Outside my Window...still in the 60's in the mornings and low 80's in the afternoon. Very low humidity. It's a bit cloudy due to the remnants of Hurricane Paloma which thankfully never came near us, and will be windy the entire day.
I am thinking...how merciful and generous our loving God is.
I am thankful for...not having any kidney stones! At least right now, anyway. CT scan was clear, praise God! I'm taking antibiotics for the infection caused by the fibroid tumor, and feeling a whole lot better. I'm also thankful for children's ministry. We had a great lesson yesterday, about the apostle Paul and how he was obedient even in adversity.
From the kitchen...breaded salmon patties, oven fries and coleslaw. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, so we're eating it once a week.
I am wearing...pink tank top, pink shorts and pink flip flops. Perfect for this Florida weather.
I am reading...Still on Luke, and starting Titus today.
I am hoping...All my ladies show up for small groups tomorrow.
I am creating...this blog post.
I am hearing...cars and school buses. The windows are open because of the breeze. Always nice to air out the house.
Around the house...the usual, bathrooms. Need to get a load of sheets and towels in the wash.
One of my favorite things...is finishing my Christmas shopping early. All I need are a few DVD's that aren't out yet which is why I haven't purchased them yet. Other than that, I'm done! Now I can enjoy the holidays without the stress of having to go to the stores during the busiest shopping time of the year.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...household stuff, and I have to do my unemployment verification today. Small groups tomorrow, Awana on Wednesday. Our local Baptist church is having family movie night on Friday, with a Veggie Tale movie that E would like to go to.
Here is a prayer request I am sharing with you...even if you don't agree with how the elections turned out, pray for our new president and the future administration to be led by God. We know He is in control no matter what the polls say, and we are to pray for our leaders and obey them.
Have a blessed day!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Oh no, not again...

Last Sunday I had another kidney stone episode. Not pleasant. Previously, my kidney stones would cause me excrutiating pain for 2 -3 hours, then the pain would begin to subside. This one started out the same, but for some reason I wasn't feeling well the next day, or the next, or the next. I had lots of pressure on my bladder, which made me wonder if I hadn't passed the stone and it was stuck. Thursday started off okay, but as the day progressed I felt like my insides were swollen. I'd been taking Motrin for the pain, which the doctor had prescribed, but my stomach is very sensitive and ibuprofen makes me nauseaus. I decided instead to start taking Tylenol, which is easier on my stomach though not as effective. Friday I started experiencing very sharp, stabbing pains in my bladder and my hubby decided I needed to get this taken care of. My son took me to the hospital, and I explained to the doctor what I suspected. He ordered a CT scan, urine & blood tests, and gave me something for the pain (I didn't even ask what it was, so long as it didn't upset my stomach. Yeah, it was that bad). I waited just over an hour for the results, when the nurse tells me the doctor wants to do a pelvic examination. Huh? What for? The doctor came in and informed me there were no kidney stones in my bladder, but that I do have a fibroid tumor. Ugh, again? I had a fibroid tumor during my pregnancy with my youngest son. Since I had a cesarean section, the fibroid was removed. Now I have another one, and to top it off it has caused an infection, which is why I felt like my insides were swollen. They took a biopsy to be sent out for testing, gave me antibiotics and sent me home.

Ready for the blessings? I am blessed because the doctor saw no kidney stones. Praise God! I'd been praying that the Lord would eliminate those nasty things from my body, and He did! I'm also blessed because, once again, my condition isn't serious enough that I need to stay in the hospital. The doctor did prescribe Vicodin for the pain, but I've only had to take one. God once again is providing the healing and relief that I need. And, I'm blessed because my hubby was really stressed about me being sick, and now we both can rejoice that I'm home and on the road to recovery. Yes, I still have to wait and see about the biopsy results, but I'm trusting the Lord for complete and total healing. God is faithful!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

And the winner is...

The votes have been counted, the results are in. America has chosen her new president. Who would have believed 7 years ago, that Americans would vote into its highest office a man named Barack Hussein Obama?

I can’t say that I’m surprised at the win. Polls have had Obama in the lead for the past few months. But I am disappointed. Disappointed that Americans would vote for a man opposed to a federal ban on partial-birth abortions, and who supports abortions for minors without parental consent. He actually supports public funding of abortions, through organizations like Planned Parenthood, and opposes legislation mandating health care for infants who survive abortions. A man opposed to education vouchers allowing parents to choose public or private school for their children, but supports sex education for children kindergarten through 12th grade, a responsibility that should fall into the hands of parents. He also supports all legislation guided towards a homosexual America, including granting sexual preference a protected minority status under current civil right laws, allowing homosexuals to adopt children, and opposing the law that bans homosexuals in the military. This in a country that was founded on Christian principles. Barack Obama calls himself a Christian, yet these very issues he supports go against Christian beliefs.

The problem is that Americans didn’t vote with their heart, or even with their minds. They voted with their pockets. The economic recession has blinded Americans, who are quick to look for a scapegoat rather than accept responsibility for their own actions. The blame for all the financial problems in the country has fallen on the Republican Party, and it showed last night as the Democrats took over the White House and the Senate. So ironic, that the Party who used our economic woes to convince Americans that we need change, is the same Party that spent the most money for a presidential campaign in history. Looking at the many millions spent on this campaign, it begs to wonder: Are we really so financially troubled? If I were to complain that I have no money to pay my mortgage, and then took a vacation to Europe, I’d hardly receive any compassion from anyone, especially my bank. Yet it seems no one is disturbed that the Democratic Party spent millions of dollars on a 30 minute infomercial of their presidential hopeful. Sadly, this proves to me that Americans aren’t impressed with a person’s values or morals. They only care about who has the most money, who can make things bigger and shinier. Can we get any shallower?

Come January, a new president will be sworn in, and America will begin her love-hate relationship with Barack Obama. Will our new president be able to fix the recession we are in right now? Economists say no. Once a recession starts, it can’t be reversed. We must ride it out. Even Barack Obama stated it would be 10 years before the economy could be completely turned around, longer than the time he’s allowed to stay in office. Will Americans be as loving towards their new president when he doesn’t deliver what they want in 6 months? It remains to be seen. As Christians, we must submit to the authorities that God has allowed to exist (Romans 13:1). But we also need to stand up for what’s right, even if it isn’t what’s popular. God help us. We’re in for a bumpy ride.

**On a positive note, Florida voted Yes on Amendment 2, the amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. Praise our God in Heaven!!! Lord, bless Floridians for voting in favor of keeping Your commandment on marriage sacred. Christians went out and voted, and this one was won by a vast majority. Praise the Lord!

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Nov 3, 2008

To join in the fun, see Peggy at http://www.thesimplewoman.blogspot.com/
For Today...
Outside my Window...it's warmed up a bit. 69 Degrees this morning, up to 84 this afternoon, but with such little humidity it doesn't feel hot at all.
I am thinking...I've got a lot to do today. Need to get going already. Wish the computer weren't so slow.
I am thankful for...feeling much better today. Had another kidney stone episode yesterday. Don't like those one bit. Also thankful that I found some great board games at KB Toys for only $9.99. They're even cheaper than Wally World! I was going to buy one of them a couple of days before when we went to Walmart but decided not too. I'm so glad I was able to get the same board game for about $3.00 less!
From the kitchen...salmon patties with noodles and veggies. Very healthy.
I am wearing...a burgundy house dress which I plan to get out of and into regular clothes shortly.
I am reading...Luke, finishing Colossians and starting 1 Thessalonians.
I am hoping...to get some Christmas shopping done this week.
I am creating...a spreadsheet with my Christmas budget so I can stick to it.
I am hearing...the hum of the computer.
Around the house...I'll get bathrooms done today, and put away a bunch of laundry. Everything else is pretty much under control.
One of my favorite things...is the holiday season. Preparing for Thanksgiving, decorating for Christmas, baking, watching Charlie Brown and all the other great Christmas flicks, spending time with my family, such a wonderful time.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...I haven't been able to vote because the lines have been so long. No choice, gotta do it tomorrow. Going to the mall for some Christmas shopping today if I feel okay (there are some great sales!) and small groups tomorrow. Awana on Wednesday.
Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...I totally forgot to take my camera to church yesterday for our church dedication (the new location). Bummer! Oh well, I'll try to find some pics to put up during the week.
Have a blessed day!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What happened to my Florida weather?!?

I know many of my Northern friends will roll their eyes or threaten me with bodily harm, depending on where they're located and how cold it is in their area. Let me remind you all that I live in South Florida for the warm weather. Yesterday I got up, and it was 59 degrees and very windy the whole day. I don't think it got to the 70's (at least it didn't feel like it did). This morning it was 55 degrees at 6:00am, then the temps dropped 2 more degrees! Brrr!!! I had to bundle up my little boy, it was so cold. My daughter laughed at me yesterday and called me a wimp. That's because I was born and raised in New York, where this weather is considered "pleasant". This year it became official: I've lived half my life in Florida. Do I get to pick whether I'm a Noreaster or a Southern belle now? Because if I can, I want to switch over my citizenship to the South. I love it here, even on days like today when it's colder than I want it to be. And please don't tell me South Florida isn't really the South. It's as far south as you can get without running out of the country. I'm looking forward to staying here as long as I can, or until to the good Lord tells me otherwise. I'm also looking forward to the weather warming up to 74 sunny, non-humid degrees today. Oops, I better run and hide!

The Challenge of Godliness

Here’s an interesting question to ask yourselves: If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

That’s the question we were asked this Sunday at church. As part of our New Testament Challenge, we looked at the challenge of godliness. Godliness is God’s goal for us. If we aren’t pursuing it, we’ll miss everything God has in store for us.

1 Timothy 4:7-8 tells us we must exercise ourselves towards godliness. Being godly isn’t achieved by osmosis. Godliness is the lifelong process of becoming more like Jesus. It involves our words, our actions, our thoughts and our practices.

Pastor Bob went over 4 activities for living a godly life. They are:

#1 – I need to permit God to mold me.

God wants me to be open to being molded into the person He wants me to be. Romans 12:2 tells us not to “be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God”. God’s will is always accomplished; whether we do it the easy way (God’s) or the hard way (our own) is up to us. How do I allow myself to be transformed by God? I need to change my worldly view. How? By changing my input. What’s going into my mind and my heart? Am I allowing myself to be influenced by others opinions, or by God’s word? Philippians 4:8-9 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” It’s important to evaluate whether the things we put into our minds and hearts (and consequently into the minds and hearts of our children) follow along these lines.

#2 – I need to protect myself from ungodliness.

It’s been said that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. Look at those 5. Are they what you want to be associated with? 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits”. We want to always be guarded against walking with fools and becoming like them (Proverbs 13:20). Jesus told us to take a radical approach to sin: “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” (Matthew 5:29). Does this mean Christians should walk around with just one eye, pirate style? No, it means we must create safeguards in our lives to prevent making bad choices. Television isn’t a bad thing, but are we spending more time in front of the idiot box than with our bible? The internet has great resources; are we online seeking to get closer to God, or going into websites that we wouldn’t want anyone to know we visit?

#3 – I need to pursue godly activities.

How do I accomplish this? By getting to know Jesus better, through prayer, fellowship, bible reading, serving, giving, all these forms of worship. We can attain this relationship with Jesus through His divine power (2 Peter 1:3).

#4 – I need to plan times of evaluation.

Okay, so I’m allowing God to mold me, protecting myself from ungodliness and pursuing godly activities. Done, right? Wrong. We’re told that experience is the best teacher; in truth evaluated experience is the best teacher. Think of all the people who continue making the same mistakes over and over again. We need to slow down and ask God if He’s pleased with the road we’re taking. 2 Corinthians 13:5 – “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you are disqualified.” I know I never want to be disqualified. We need to take the time to see where we are in our walk with God, always looking for ways to improve and draw closer to Him.

Let’s face it, godliness is a spiritual endeavor; we cannot do it with human strength. It takes discipline, reaching out to our Savior, and seeking godliness with our whole heart.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” – Titus 2:11-13.

So I ask you, if you were arrested today for being a Christian, would you be guilty? I hope we can all hold our heads up high and scream, “Yes, Guilty!”

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Oct 27, 2008

To join in the fun, see Peggy at http://www.thesimplewoman.blogspot.com/

For Today...

Outside my Window...there is a nip in the air. It's actually beginning to feel like fall! It was 69 degrees this morning and is supposed to get down to the 50's tonight. It rained quite a bit since last Thursday but there's no humidity in the air now.

I am thinking...what a great message about godliness at church yesterday. I think I'll post about it this week.

From the learning rooms...my son E is turning in his campaign poster today. It turned out really cute.

I am thankful for...my daughter coming down from college this weekend! I've missed her so much. It was so nice to spend some time with her. Of course saying goodbye was painful, but I'm thankful for the time we had.

From the kitchen...easy chicken & stuffing in the crock pot.

I am wearing...a long sleeved gray top, capri jeans and flip flops. I know, long sleeves & flip flops seem contradictory, but this is South Florida.

I am reading...Luke and Galatians, and still haven't finished The Purpose Driven Life.

I am hoping...the weather continues to be as nice as it is today.

I am creating...a costume for Awana this week. E has to dress up as a biblical character. Still working on it though.

I am hearing...my son. He's quite the chatterbox this morning.

Around the house...most everything is done, though I have bathrooms and light cleaning. Maybe I'll get to the closets today.

One of my favorite things...is opening up the windows on cool days and airing out the house. The air conditioner is a great thing, but nothing beats fresh air.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...small groups tomorrow, and I'd like to get to the polls this week, though the lines to vote have been atrocious.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...Happy Halloween!




Have a blessed week.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Who am I voting for?

I just read this amazing post over at MandyMom.com. I hope it speaks to you the way it spoke to me.

http://hernameismandy.blogspot.com/2008/10/i-dont-write-about-politics-much-buuut.html

IMO, neither candidate will be able to fix the economy anytime soon, and both will blame the previous administration for all our financial troubles. Rather than try to decide which candidate can get us out of the money pit we're in, I'm going to look at character, and values. Ask yourself: if we weren't in the economical struggle we're in now, who would you vote for?

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Oct 20, 2008

To join in the fun, see Peggy at http://www.thesimplewoman.blogspot.com/
For Today...
Outside my Window...it is 69 degrees!! We had a cold front come in Sunday and the weather has cooled off. I know my northern friends are rolling their eyes, but for us Floridians, this weather is quite chilly. Hopefully it'll last. There's hardly any humidity and the air feels crisp.
I am thinking...about the busyness of the week. So much to do, so little time!
From the learning rooms...E's teacher has given the class an assignment from the county's website. He's worked on it for over 3 hours and isn't done yet. Who knows, we may be homeschooling our children in the future, like it or not.
I am thankful for...feeling better. I don't know if I've actually passed the kidney stone, but I'm going to assume that I have, since I don't have anymore pain.
From the kitchen...stuffed chayote squash. It's something my mom used to make. The squash is light green and heart shaped. I cut it in half so that I have 2 heart shaped halves, boils them till their al dente, then scoop out the insides and cook them up with ground beef. I stuff the mixture back into the squash, add a bread crumb topping, and bake at 350 degrees for about 5-10 minutes. Delicious and nutritious.
I am wearing...a long burgundy housedress with yellow flower embroidery. They're made in my husband's country (Nicaragua) and are very light and comfortable. It's really early, not even 7:30am yet. I'll change in a little while.
I am reading...Mark and 1 Corinthians.
I am hoping...that these kidney stones go away and never come back.
I am creating...this blog post.
I am hearing...the hum of the computer and the ceiling fan. It's really quiet.
Around the house...Monday is bathroom cleaning day, plus there's laundry and general cleanup to be done. I'm also hoping to continue with closet cleaning.
One of my favorite things...is my neighborhood. It's a nice quiet development. My neighbors are such nice people. I think of so many who are in constant battle with their neighbors, and I consider myself blessed.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...still working on the bathroom quote (ugh!). Small groups tomorrow, urologist on Wednesday. Plus there's a big surprise for the weekend but I can't say anything yet - I'm sworn to secrecy! Guess everyone will just have to wait.
Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...I keep forgetting to post the pics of the boy's bedroom. It really turned out much nicer than I expected. Let's see if I get that done this week.

Have a blessed week.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Of Sisters and Stones

A little over a month ago, I mentioned feeling under the weather and suffering from a mild UTI (urinary tract infection). I’d had them before, and antibiotics would normally knock them out within a few days. I mentioned what was going on to my sister, and she said something to the effect of, “Just as long as it isn’t kidney stones!”

Famous last words.

Now, I know that my little sister loves me and wouldn’t purposefully jinx me. The reason she made the comment was because she’d recently gone through an episode of kidney stones that was extremely painful. And I would never hold it against my sister if in fact I did have kidney stones, because I love her to death and know she only has good intentions for me. Still…

After taking the round of antibiotics, I still wasn’t feeling 100%. I came home from church one evening with an excruciating pain on my left side. The pain was so intense it made me puke. A short while afterwards the pain went away, and I attributed it to a stomach virus (I’d just thrown up, the pain went away, it all made sense). About a week later I went through the same thing, only I didn’t throw up, just had the pain which was scary. The next day I went to see my doctor. After explaining all that had happened, she determined it may be a kidney stone. She immediately ordered blood work, urine tests, and an x-ray to see if the stone was large enough to be visible. I went in to have the x-ray done, but by the time the results were in (just 3 days later) the pain had subsided. There was nothing visible in the x-ray, and the doctor said more than likely it had been a kidney stone and I’d passed it. She did warn me that if it happened again I should come in immediately or go to the emergency room where a scan would determine what in fact was causing the pain.

Since then I’ve had a few episodes of minor pain. I say a few episodes, but really it was happening about once a week. I didn’t go back to the doctor because after being laid off we were getting the paperwork together to get health insurance through my husband’s job and it hadn’t been finalized yet. I just prayed the pain would go away, and if it was something serious that at least we’d have insurance before I had to go to the hospital. Pain relievers were doing the trick for the most part, and I put up with the issue as best as I could.

Monday the insurance cards came in the mail (Hallelujah!). Yesterday, the pain started again. I couldn’t find the ibuprophen so I took a couple of acetaminophen instead. As I was cooking I kept having to sit down because the pain was getting worse. I finished preparing lunch and lay down. When my hubby got home I was already in intense pain. He asked if I’d taken pain meds. I told him I had but the pain was getting worse. There were moments I’d get up, and he’d tell me, “just lay down”, but I couldn’t. There was no position that was comfortable, and I was in tears from the pain. He was on and off the phone with his sales people, and watching me squirm with pain. He asked me if I needed to go to the doctor or if I wanted to go to the hospital. At that point I just screamed, “Doctor, hospital, anywhere, I can’t take this anymore!” My oldest son R rushed me to the emergency room as hubby stayed behind (he was still working and someone had to stay and wait for E to come home from school. Hubby was on the phone with me every few minutes). The great thing is that the hospital is close by, and they took care of me right away. After explaining to the doctor what was going on, they ran a CT scan. Sure enough, there was the kidney stone, 4mm in diameter and getting ready to descend into my bladder. Okay, doc, what next? A young doctor, he smiled politely and said, “You’re going to have to pee it out.” Gee, thanks doc.

So, let’s talk about my blessings (at a time like this?!? Absolutely). Had the stone been 5mm in diameter, they would have kept me in the hospital. Not the most pleasant thought in my mind. Instead they sent me home with some coffee-like filters so as to try and capture the stone once in leaves my body. The thought of it made me gag, but the doctor explained that if they have the stone it can be analyzed and they can figure out why my kidney is forming stones in the first place. I was also prescribed more pain meds, and warned that there are more kidney stones, just a lot smaller. I think of all the terrible diseases I could be facing, deadly or even terminal diseases. In that context, kidney stones aren’t so bad. And most important, I know what it is that’s causing the pain, rather than having to stay in the hospital undergoing massive amounts of tests and not knowing the outcome. I think for me that would have been much worse. So I’m home, praise the Lord, though to my knowledge I haven’t passed the stone yet. I’ll make an appointment today to see a urologist and hopefully get to the bottom of this. Or maybe this will be a “thorn in the flesh”, as the apostle Paul calls it. I’m just thankful to the Lord that I’m alive and, for the most part, healthy. I’m also thankful for my sister; though I hope next time she’ll keep her funny little "prophetic" comments to herself ;-) (love ya sis!).

Tuesday's Small Groups

This week our small group was discussing going through difficult times and why God allows His people to suffer. The apostle Paul speaks of having a thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7) which God wouldn’t take away. James writes, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2-3). We are made stronger when we go through difficult times. It produces character, patience, endurance, and hope. It isn’t pleasant at the time, but the lessons learned from hard times makes us who we are (Hebrews 12:11).

From this lesson we began looking at the economy and the situation not only our country but the world is going through. After examining what we know, it was easy to see what has brought us into this mess: greed.

Banks became greedy when they began giving out loans to people without first verifying if the loans could be paid off. Rather than qualifying borrowers based on the mortgage they were offering, they approved them, then advised, “Come back in three years and we’ll refinance your loan at a lower fixed rate.” Now, banks can’t afford to refinance. Why? Because people are defaulting on those very loans they couldn’t pay off. They’re losing jobs, losing homes, and the banks are losing money. All because they wanted to make more money.

Are the borrowers to blame? Certainly! My husband and I purchased our home in 2000. Prices were still moderate at the time, though the climb had already started. Still, we were able to buy our brand spanking new 1700 square foot home for less that $145,000. As home values started rising, my husband commented that we could sell our home, make a substantial profit, and purchase a bigger, better home. I prayed about this, and God showed me what kind of debt we’d be getting ourselves into. Taxes would be triple what we were currently paying, our insurance would skyrocket, and our mortgage would probably be twice what we were paying on our current house. I prayed some more before showing my hubby the numbers. Thankfully he, like me, thought this was insanity and we were just fine where we were. Unfortunately many homeowners didn’t see it this way. They had fine homes, but they wanted bigger, more amenities, more upgrades, more modern, which in turn means more expensive. When the banks offered adjustable rate mortgages and promised they could refinance in 3-5 years, their judgment was clouded by their desire to have more, and homeowners got themselves into debt higher than they could afford. Add to that the increase in our gas prices and the general cost of living increase that accompanied it, and there are now families losing their homes by the hundreds. This isn’t something to be taken lightly. For most American families, their home is the largest investment they own. Losing a home cripples not only the family but, as we now see, our entire economy. All because it wasn’t enough. All because of greed.

My prayer now is that, as people experience this hardship, they will realize what went wrong, and instead of turning to politicians to fix the problems in the economy, they will look at their own life and learn to be content with what God has given us. Because the truth of the matter is, Americans are extremely blessed to live in a free country. Our homes are larger than anywhere. We have food, clothing, hospitals and medicines. Many people around the world don’t have a tenth of what America has, yet they live more content than Americans do. We need to look at our lives and shift our priorities. What’s most important in your life?

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Oct 13, 2008

To join in the fun, see Peggy at http://www.thesimplewoman.blogspot.com/
For Today...
Outside my Window...The sun is finally out. Daylight Savings time doesn't start till November 2, and it's not a moment too soon. I hate that the sun doesn't rise till 7:30am.
I am thinking...about family, friends, all the people that love me. I love them too!
From the learning rooms...E has a project to work on this week. He has to make up a campaign poster, if he was running for president. Need a slogan of some sort.
I am thankful for...so much that I've had to start posting about it. Can't fit that many blessings on just this meme!
From the kitchen...trying a new recipe today, scalloped chicken & pasta. My son R found it and asked me to try it out. Let's see what the family thinks...
I am wearing...a dark green striped v-neck top, light blue denim capris and flip flops.
I am reading...finished Matthew and Acts, started Romans.
I am hoping...to get alot of stuff done today.
I am creating...this blog post.
I am hearing...the hum of the computer and my son's breathing. He's still asleep.
Around the house...bathrooms. Got most everything else done, including painting the boys room. Will get pics of that posted this week.
One of my favorite things...is fall. I've started decorating but I need my son to get a box down from the attic (which he dreads) so I can add more stuff. Just think: next month Thanksgiving, then Christmas. It really is the most wonderful time of the year!
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...still don't have the bathroom quote. Gotta get that done this week. Small groups tomorrow. Other than that, it's shaping up to be a quiet week (famous last words!!)
Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...I don't have them now but should have them later in the week, which is the boys room. Look out for that!
Have a blessed week.