Monday, November 24, 2008

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

To join in the fun, see Peggy at

For Today...

Outside my 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 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,

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 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
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 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 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
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 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 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 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 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
For Today...
Outside my'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 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 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!