Wednesday, February 29, 2012

At Home Fitness! (30 day challenge) "The Bug"

Based on the title of this blog, you may think I was hit with the workout bug!  Well, duh, I was.  But that was a long, long time ago.  This was a bug of the opposite nature.  This bug, quite literally, takes it all out of you!  In our house of 4 people, 3 got the stomach virus.  So how does that relate to 30 days of fitness?  Oh it relates!  It extends it for as long as it takes to move again.

Basically, today's blog is about what you do when you are trying to improve fitness and you get sick!  I stopped working out, to put it lightly. Not only did one of my children have it, but myself and my husband had it too.  This means I am now rebuilding my food intake, therefore my energy.  I will most likely going backwards to the fit test and starting week 3 over.  I want to make sure I get the most out of this.  But it all depends how I feel.  Today is the first day I will be working out again.  I am certain, based on my past experience, this will be a slow, weak day; but will be a quick recovery thanks to muscle memory.

Take heart, if you have to stop due to illness or injury, your body remembers, and will help you.  Just be kind to it!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Untamed Book Review

One of my Multi-Purpose Mom tasks is book reviews.  I received this book free to review it!  Awesome deal!

 I have recently read the book Untamed by Lisa Harper.  The book is certainly geared toward women and a quick and easy read.  I would fit it in categories for high school or college girls, new believers, people looking for a refresher, and even a study for moms to do  together with a younger girl.

It really scratches the surface as a beginner study.  The author brings her own real-life experience in to make a genuine experience for the reader.  There are multiple depictions of his life  in situations we encounters proving Jesus walked through things we may experience and displaying how he handles them.  there was a strong female voice which, at times felt unnecessary.  It nicks the surface of biblical study but gives great points for further study.

It is definitely not a challenging book, but it does present questions at the end of each chapter allowing the reader to delve deeper if they choose.  It gets the reader into the bible and practicing finding scripture to relate to life.  A new believer or someone looking for a bit of a refresher would certainly benefit from this book.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

At Home Fitness! (30 day challenge) Fit Test #2

Week 3 starts off with a new fit test.  Again, you complete each exercise, as many as you can, in 50 seconds. Two weeks are complete so here are my second fit test results:

squat jumps: 62
push-ups (on feet): 41
burpees: 20
high knees (each foot touching the floor is 1): 135
switch lunges: 50
tuck (HAAAAAATE): 46
sit-ups: 33

These were my first week. There is some improvement.  There some areas of decline too!?  Maybe I was tired.  Or being lazy!  I always wonder with a fit tes,ts though, if you have pretty high scores, how much can you really improve with a 50 second time interval?  I can see my areas of weakness for sure though!!  LOL!

Squat jumps: 48
Push-ups (on feet not knees): 32
Burpees: 20
High knees: 152
Switch lunges: 54
Tuck jumps (I hate HATE HATE these with a passion): 50
Sit ups (the old fashioned way): 33

Either way, I will  keep working and sweating and feeling great! 

Monday, February 13, 2012

At Home Fitness! (30 day challenge) Week 2

I  am now about to complete week 2.  I just wanted to highlight a few things.

First of all, I  have kept my diet, as they put it, very clean!  I love that terminology because I am not an organic/ingredient checker. Clean, to me, means keeping my fats and sugars low, drinking lots of water, keeping my calories pretty low, and eating balanced: proteins, grains, lots of raw veggies like salads and raw carrots and peppers. I make my food (no pre-made or boxed/frozen) and I keep it balanced.  I have also let myself have a few "cheats" because if I don't, I will likely rebel and I definitely don't want that.  I do, however, have good control.  I can have 1 little treat and be totally fine for a good long while.  So that may not work for everyone. 

Next is my workouts.  I have only let myself have 1 resting day instead of 2 because if I take 2, I find I lose motivation and FAST!  1 active rest day and then on with it.  On the days I do not feel like I am challenged, I have chosen 1 or two of the rounds to repeat.  I am not that overzealous, but it has happened a few times.  I am absolutely feeling it and I love it.  I altered some exercises as I have noted and I will post a few today.

Last is my sleeping.  I try to get 8 hours.  I rarely get the chance to sleep straight through...such is the life of a mom, but that workout is like most people's chocolate in the afternoon, so I save it (sometimes) for later in the day if I know I am needing to be awake later than, say, well, after dinner!  HA!!

Has anyone else decided to try Body Rock?

***UPDATE***  Me and my non-techie self cannot seem to post videos just yet: :(  When I figure it out, I will post!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

At Home Fitness! (30 day challenge) Days 2-4

I have now completed 4 days of the 30 day challenge and I gotta say, it is curing my boredom!!  I mentioned before that I have completed P90X and Insanity (twice and then some).  What I don't like about those programs, (and probably the only thing I don't like), is how long a workout takes.  I am totally willing to work until I cannot move anymore, but I NEED to do it in a short time.  Like the first month of Insanity being 45 minutes was great!  I just don't have the time right now to devote to working out much more than that which is why I workout at home, playgrounds, or while pushing a stroller!  Anywhere I can fit it in.  That being said, I was initially a tad disappointed that Body Rock was so short because I was thinking, "Man, now I am going to have to find something to supplement with." But once I did day 3, I stood corrected.  Now, that doesn't mean I am not walking/running every chance I get, playing soccer with my 7-year-old, doing extra sets of pull ups and leg raises as I pass the pull up bar, and other such things, but those are moments and not a period of time.

As far as the workouts themselves are concerned, I have found myself in the kitchen, the living room, and in the doorway of the laundry room.  There is the usual run of the mill push ups, burpees, tucks, squats, lunges, but they add in the use of the sand bag, and as I mentioned last post, I have a home-made one.  They also make use of this dip station, which I must say, looks pretty cool; but I have made due with stools, chairs, and my pull up bar thus far.  It may be worth looking into for the vast majority of things you can do with it though!  The workouts still consist of 50 second intervals with 10 seconds of rest, but you can make them as hard or easy as you want.  You can add weight to the sand bag, you can go as fast as possible, you can hold things longer that are challenging.  She also gives several options if you find that the exercise is too difficult.  A lot of times it is even a difficult, medium, beginner level.  She also gives you options to do without the equipment.

I have pushed as hard as possible like  putting 2 bags of sand in the backpack and I do pull ups in place of her version of reverse pull ups, though I do like hers and have tried them. 

On day 3 I was given a surprise because there was a guy on there giving you a second workout for muscle isolation and all I can say is WOW!  His involved timing.  You do 15 reps of each exercise 3 total times.  You time yourself to see how long it took.  He took 14:15 and I took 14:50 so I was pleased.  This was on top of the regular workout.  I got exhausted though and on 3 different times, I only had 1 of the sandbags in the backpack.  That is saying a lot for me.  I do not like to be defeated by people on the TV!!  But that just proves I am being challenged and that is exactly what I wanted.  I feel sore, I sweat, and I feel it is time well spent. I am going into all of these blind with no clue what to expect.  Going with it!

Now as for food...I am not a flavor needy person with food and I also do not care about variety so simple garlic chicken in a tablespoon of olive oil makes my mouth water.  I do rice and beans and feel very happy :) I do lots of salads and I could eat a hundred raw red or yellow peppers.  I drink coffee in the morning but I rarely manage to finish more than a cup, though in most cases I want to.  I drink wine too but usually no more than a glass.  I do not eat late at night and I do not eat very much sugar.  I do allow some cheats here and there but with no regularity to their timing.  I try to keep it simple and it works for me.  I also began making egg muffins.  I scramble some eggs and chop up spinach and squash and fill up muffin tins and bake.  Then I put them in a big ziploc bag for the week. Pop them out and microwave!  Easy peasy!

Any simple menu ideas with few ingredients?  I have the worst time with lunch.  I usually end up with salad with avocado and almonds or garden veggie pasta with black beans.  Totally happy with those!
 I plan to do a few videos of some of my alternative exercises, though I do try to  make them harder if I have to vary.

Will report again in the next few days!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

At Home Fitness! (30 day challenge)

I suppose I have a lot of explaining to do!  A few people have asked where I have been.  Well, honestly, I began to feel my blog fall out of my control and thought I needed a step back.  I love writing and my blog began as a writing exercise and really turned into so much more.  After my months away, I have decided the best thing I can do is focus on specific areas.  This blog is currently going to focus on one of my biggest passions.  Fitness.  I love to write.  I love to work out.  Why no write about working out? 

Let me tell you a little about my fitness background.  I spent most of my life as a gymnast and a dancer.  This created a desire for performing.  When I was in college I was in characters at Walt Disney world.  There I spent more time dancing and performing and generally getting a feel for the performing world.  It is its own world, I can tell you that.  Through a friend of mine from characters I auditioned for a show called Pirate's Dinner Adventure in Orlando.  She seemed to think, because of my dance/gymnastics background, I would make a great aerialist.  When I observed the show and saw what this part entailed, i.e. climbing 28 feet off the ground, hanging by my neck, spinning around in a move called the helicopter (need I really say more?), I thought she may have lost her marbles.  However, I decided to give it a go.  In one rehearsal, I fell in love with the mid-air version of dancing!  I was hooked.  I spent the next decade of my life playing aerialist to audiences of thousands between the several different shows I began in. It was a dream job. 

During that time, I had my first child, to my greatest fear, via c-section.  I had to then, not only recover my pre-baby body, but also rebuild post major abdominal surgery.  This was daunting, to say the least but I was beyond determined to come back stronger and better than I was before.  It was 12 weeks post c-section when I returned to perform back in my first show as Jane in the Tarzan Rocks show.  I had the help of physical therapists and it was by far not my best performance, but I worked harder than I ever had in my life to ensure I was healthy and strong.  I did it and I was very proud of myself for how hard I worked.  These days, everyone and anyone seems to be an aerialist and I have since fallen away from that world.

That being said, without constant access to equipment and people and, well, let's be honest, time, it became difficult to stay in that kind of shape.  So this is where I begin.

I am now 35 years old and have had 2 children, both via c-section.  Both times, the second I could move again, I was on board, ready to work out again.  I worked out throughout both pregnancies and ate very, very healthy.  I gained very little weight; 20 pounds both pregnancies.  Both children were the exact same size at 7 pounds and 19.5 in.  I only tell you that because I have had many, many, MANY people wondering if I was healthy and eating right and basically wondering if I was starving myself so I wouldn't get "fat".  That would be pretty selfish of me to hurt my baby because of my body, now wouldn't it?  I often felt pretty offended by those comments.  I can assure you, I ate a perfect diet and exercised to the extent that was perfectly healthy for my pregnant body.  My youngest just turned 3.  I was pre-baby weight both times before 6 weeks were up.  I walked and walked and swam when the weather permitted. 

After baby 2,  I was not in the aerial world anymore, so I got into P90X at 6 weeks.  This was difficult post c-section, but I was not going to give in.  I modified for my situation and pushed right on through.  After P90X, my best friend sent me Insanity.  Now that was my favorite ever!  I have now been through Insanity twice and have begun doing double Insanity.  I do run sometimes, I do lots of work on a bar in my doorway, I basically try to find cures for my boredom.

Why do I do that?  Because I do not have a gym membership and at this point, it does not seem like something that will be in my future.  I have been very proactive in finding ways to work out at home.  This includes using water jugs, chairs, therabands, trees, park benches, playground equipment, children in strollers, any number of unconventional things to challenge my mind and body without paying for a gym membership.

I thought it might be a good idea to put some ideas out there for other people who may not have a membership, may have kids, and may have a busy schedule.  I am currently homeschooling a 7 year old and a 3 year old, I am in school for medical transcription, and still run my household since I am also a frugal mama!  It gets to be a challenge, but that is my specialty! 

I am now beginning a 30 day challenge with a program called Body Rock. (Scroll to the bottom to get to Day 1 week 1.)  Yesterday I took the fit test.  I felt pretty good with my scores coming off Insanity.  I will be posting here.  It think it would be great if some of you would join with me! We can post ideas, results, whatever you want!  I think having a little system of anti-gym folks would be awesome incentive!! It is an at home thing.  I did notice you need some other pieces of "equipment" but I will  be somehow modifying this.  For instance, day 2 uses sandbags.  Essentially they are in a backpack looking thing.  I took 2 large ziploc bags,filled them with sand, used packing tape to seal them, and put them in an old backpack I got from the hospital where I had my daughter. 

Here were my results from the first fit test.  Each exercise is done in 50 seconds with a 10 second break before the next one begins. Let me preface with the first exercise being a squat jumps, I failed to write that score down and didn't notice until halfway through.  I thought it was 45, but to be sure I put an acurate score, I went back at the end to re-do it!  So the number you see is actually after I did all the other exercises:

Squat jumps: 48
Push-ups (on feet not knees): 32
Burpees: 20
High knees: 152
Switch lunges: 54
Tuck jumps (I hate HATE HATE these with a passion): 50
Sit ups (the old fashioned way): 33

Feel free to go onto the Body Rock page. Scroll to the bottom to get to day 1, try it and then come back and post results or maybe ideas or thoughts!  I would love to have some people take the challenge with me! 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Kid Friendy Summer Activities (In Florida style heat!)

Summer is flying by!!!

With  7 year-old and a 2 year-old, I am always trying to entertain ideas of active things to do.  After a busy year of homeschooling, soccer, girl scouts and just plain life, I am anti-schedule and love to just play!  We can bake and swim in our pool, play games and read, which are all things we love to do together.  But at some point, leaving the house becomes a necessity.  Thankfully I have a fantastic network of friends who have kids of similar ages.  But here, in Florida, in the summer, outside activities become, shall we say, UN-fun!  It is so hot on a playground, it is not unheard of to come out with second degree burns on little booties!!  Lakes become a danger because the water gets too warm and can grow bacteria.  (We are also known for our alligators and snakes here.  See previous post about snake in bathroom!)  In fact, the neighborhood I live in had an alligator walking down the street not that long ago!  Now, the lakes are closely monitored and in some cases they are fine for swimming.  As for hiking, I revert to previous statement of snakes...but also the fact that the temperature is well up n the 90's with humidity like a steam room and a feels like temperature of...oh maybe 300 degrees??  Okay, so that might be a  slight exaggeration, but it is SUPERBLY hot. Aside from the scaly and slithery, we also have bugs that can pick you up and carry you away while sucking the life out of you resulting in some seriously itchy welts.

Did I paint a pretty enough picture of Florida in the dead of summer?  As an alternative, backyard pools, home made kid washes as some of my friends have dared to build in their yards, hoses, local splash pads are a favorite followed by picnic lunches, and indoor play are our options.  Malls are fun too especially with girly girls like mine who love Bath and Body Works with their sinks and sampling soaps and lotions followed by some dress up at Claire's!  We also have  multitude of bounce houses here, but they tend to be on the pricey side for such a short time.  I did find a deal today on Living Social for an all day pass to Jump N Joeys if you live nearby Clermont, FL.  For $4 you can come and play all day!  We also have a few dollar theaters here that are playing some great summer movies.  We have one in Winter Garden and one at Festival Bay! 

I have collected ideas over that last few years but love to hear what others are doing.  What have your summer days been filled with?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Is couponing really worth it?

I know Extreme Couponing is a total rage right now in our poor economy, but let me start off with I am NOOOOOOOOO extreme coupon queen.  I am a moderate couponer who pretty much refuses to buy things that I don't have a coupon for unless completely necessary, or I am shopping at Aldi, (Or I forgot to defrost or cook ahead dinner!!  It happens!!).  But despite the financial troubles people are having, I still hear a lot of people saying that coupons are either not really worth it, or they just don't have the time.  I even hear they wouldn't buy the items that the coupons are for.  If you give me about two minutes of your time, I would like to try to change your mind...

I make it my goal when I am shopping to save just as much as I spent.  If I gave the grocery store $50, I hope to have saved $50.  But I have been doing even better than that I managed to only give the store $86 (taxes were $2) and I saved $115.  Almost every single item had at least one coupon to go with it, if not two.  It only took me 45 minutes to print and clip and I left my house at 10:00 am and returned bu 10:52 am.  Let's round that up to 11 for the sake of, say, a bathroom trip.  That is 1 hour and 45 min total time spent couponing and shopping.  While we were at the store, my daughter held the coupons that I was going to use.  At one point, she dropped one and ran over to pick it up.  I said, "Good thing we didn't lose that one.  It was a dollar!"  She laughed at me, but when my total after the store took off its promo prices was almost $120.  I made her watch as the cashier scanned my coupons and the total went down, down, down and then I only had to pay the cashier $88.  Now I also realize that part of my original savings was the promo items because without those I would have paid almost $204, but my receipt reflected $30.10 of coupons and 85.83 in buy one get one pricing.  That is totally worth the 1 hour and 45 minutes of planning.

What about the junk food that coupons tend to represent?  I can assure you I am a home cooked meals kind of girl and I make just about everything from a realistic "scratch" that I can.  I do NOT shop organics though several of my friends do and are really beginning to get the hang of that, though it is still a bit pricier.  The most "junky" thing I got was potato flakes for instant potatoes!  I even got a ton of fresh fruits (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, spinach and spring mix lettuce), and almost 3 lbs of ribs!

Haven't convinced you??  Well, I suppose I can't convince everyone, but I feel like I need to try as hard as I can!  Ask away and I can tell you EXACTLY what I do in my 45 min. time slot! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Why does healthy cost more??

I just wanted to post this quickly for you.  I am signed up with a website called Vocalpoint.  I take surveys and get free products and unpublished coupons.  I got one that I can share with all of you!  If you are like me, you like to give your kids the 100% juice and no sugar added type.  With as many additives and extra junk that is in the other types you would think they were the ones that would cost more...but alas, its always the healthy stuff that costs more!  Maybe this will help a bit!  Motts for Tots!  Click and enjoy!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Living Life the Simple Way


I suppose I should clear up what we have been planning in our lives lately.  We had decided we were taking a trip to Alaska on a mission trip with our church and were ready to turn in some money and firm it all up.  But God had another plan for us.  We had spoken about our kids not being able to go and about the cost.  We had discussed timing and "What would Dave Ramsey say?"  (I know that sounds funny, but we try to keep spending in perspective and we listen to him on the radio and have taken his class.  We respect his answers quite a bit.)  That is not to say we don't make poor decisions because God knows we do, we just try to make the good ones more often.  Making a long story longer, we decided Alaska was going to have to wait.  But we agreed that we would be taking a missions type trip this year.  We knew of a family from our church that has headed out into the mission field to plant a church in Salt Lake City Utah.  There is a heavy concentration of Mormonism there and they felt very led to join a team and plant a church.  They were blessed with the opportunity to, shall we say, train, in a church in Tennessee.  We decided to go up and meet with them in Tennessee and learn a little more about their mission.  It was truly enlightening.  Mormonism is such a mysterious religion and kept under tight wraps.  A lot of times their own believers don't even know what it involved in it. 

The team we met with were so unbelievable passionate about their mission.  They had a lot to teach us and we were eager to learn.  Several very late nights and an old, smelly apartment (our rental for the time we were there) we walked away a little more educated.  We had the chance to visit a few churches, one being the church they are learning church planting from and another, and Anglican Church, which has a model they are interested in following.  It was a warehouse they converted to a coffee house.  They hold church there and use it also like a community center.  They also have dinner afterward (it was in the evening.)  This particular evening, we managed to come on the jackpot of dinner nights as they had crab legs and ribs!!  We thoroughly enjoyed seeing two completely different styles of worship in the same day. 

On a less busy day, we all went to a nearby trail where we hiked in to a sort of swimming hole/stream and spent the day enjoying some water and sun in a way we can't here in Florida!  Madison won't touch a lake here but she swam in the river and jumped off the rocks even though it was freezing water!  It was so peaceful and great to be all together and enjoying each other. 

We also participated in a prayer night that they held every Monday.  They all seem so clear.  Now its just a matter of praying for the means to get there and doors to open for them.  Just an amazing journey they are on!  We are looking forward now to another trip to visit them in Salt Lake City.  Anyone wanna come along and help us to help them introduce themselves out there!??  I think a team would be the perfect way to get them going!


I had gotten away from coupons for a while and have been shopping at Aldi, but my husband seemed to notice our little had begun to get even littler.  It was about time I get back to building up!  So I have been using Aldi as the place for the reliable items I know I can't find cheaper anywhere else and I have been buying only the sale items I have coupons for at Publix and Winn Dixie again.  I also successfully took a trip to Sweet Bay where I score $14.50 in coupons on MEAT!!!  I never find those!  But  I discovered based on a tip my mother gave me that Sweet Bay puts coupons on their meats early in the morning!  YEA!  They also had a great booklet in the front of their store with store coupons including meat.  Dig a little...GET a little.

Home School
I have turned in Madi's portfolio, been evaluated, and officially got the notice that she can pass on to 2nds grade.  Thank God we are on summer break.  Well, our version of it.  We do part-time during the summer.  It gives us extra days we can take during the school year.  Such great flexibility.  Madi got to play with the kids that she went to her specials classes with everyday during the last two days.  They had a luau party and a game day.  She loves the fun stuff she does with them.

MOMENTS!!  (miss these.  I haven't done them in a while)
-All packed in our car singing songs and laughing like crazy on a really long road trip. (nothing greater than all being together.)
-The sound of the river and my kids laughing and playing with daddy!
-Seeing God at work in some amazing hearts including our own.
-Madison offering to carry some things for me when she saw I was struggling with them.  On her own!
-The girls sleeping in the same bed for the first time.  I see sleepovers!

I have one last thought to add here.  Our pastor gave a sermon on Sunday that put some great words in my mind.  The treasures are not here on earth.  We spend so much of our lives building up the treasures and wanting to leave a legacy for our children.  But the true legacy lies with Him!  We need each other as Christ's body.  We can't live in isolation because living a Christ-like life alone is impossible!  While he prayed at the end of service, I was busy scribbling these thoughts:

Christ's body of believers consists of a system of love and support.  Without the people of Christ, we live our lives isolated from the wisdom and collective experience of others who help us live.  Human life on earth is short and ultimately futile.  It ends, however, in a promised inheritance from and with God enabling us to leave a legacy of treasure behind that is most invaluable.  A legacy of Faith.  Hope.  Love in...for...and WITH Christ our savior.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Blogging Through the Bible and Life

I fell off the wagon again!  This just goes to show you how human and fallible I can be.  Things can be busy as a homeschooling mother of 2 but I know there is always someone who has it much harder, as I am frequently told.  In fact, I have 2 amazing kids who inspire me daily.  That said, I will follow their example and get back to blogging!

I cannot begin to tell you how insignificant I feel when I read Daniel.  We do not see examples like this, especially here in our country.  It is a book like this the brings the realization that we take our freedom to express our beliefs and religions for granted in a massive way.  Though Daniel lived in the Old Testament, he did still live.  It was a time of frequent religious persecution and oppression.  (And some people who live in our free society say they are being oppressed??)  The truth of the matter is that oppression is still alive today.  Its just not here.  I don't suppose there are many lions' dens around, but possibly an equivalent. 

Daniel 5 Daniel is worshiping the gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron wood, and stone when, in all his drunkenness with his concubines and guests, a hand appears writing on the wall.  Of the magician's, soothsayers, wise men, and astrologers that attempted to interpret, it was Daniel, who was not compromised because he was daily with God, who understood it.  Belshazzar, with his jolliness, was 5:27 weighed and found wanting!  WANTING!  All this man possessed and he was found wanting.  I would like to call this lacking.  He was lacking the peace that came from a working relationship with God.  Void.  Empty.  The King was found wanting! 

My lesson that I can take away from this, is when I am found wanting, I know where to turn.  My face does not have to lose its color and and I do not have to cry aloud for someone else to tell me what to do or where to turn. 


Life is happening at a break neck pace right now.  School is winding down but we are still on full tilt.  We go part time in the summer to cover any extra days off we may take during the year.  Our summer is packing itself tightly in.  Mike is still working 7 days a week and sometimes they are long and we miss him.  We are so thankful Mike has this work, but that doesn't mean we don't miss him and get a little lonely. 

Lots of things coming up including some changes in plans, but all is very, very good and we are blessed and happy.  We are willing and ready to step out of our box, so look out world, here we come!  We have an amazing family and a fortress of friends who stand by us and love us.  I feel like I could be royalty sometimes, but thankfully, I have a place to turn!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Reading through the bible...Ezekiel, idols, and the life of the dry bones.

I can't count the times I have read about not worshiping idols.  Worship God alone.  He is the only God.  Well, duh, of course I won't worship idols and I will only worship my God and savior...and in that very same breath I am planning my child's birthday party, making my schedule for the week and then sitting down to watch my favorite show while enjoying my nighttime indulgence of mint and chocolate chip ice cream.  In the last few books I have read in my bible, I have been bombarded with talk of worshiping idols.  I have quite literally been hit over the head with it.  God leading Jeremiah and in this case Ezekiel to get these blind people to stop worshiping idols.  Money, stature, power...I don't worship those things...or do I? 

I wanted to talk about what a noble and faithful man he was or how difficult it must have been to stand in the face of these people and tell them God thinks their are being idiots...forgive my bluntness, but you probably got the same idea from reading it, no?  But what I am going to write has all to do with idols and priorities.  What is that important to me that my schedule does not allow for time in my bible?  Time in prayer?  Why am I still blogging about reading through the bible a year later when my initial goal was 3 months?  I can tell you.  Idols.  My kids, my husband, my schedule, my exhaustion, my desire for free time.  These things take my precious time with God, whom I desire to lead my life, and have left me still desiring.  Still searching.  How, when I want Him to be so deeply, is he not my priority?  How can I sit down at the end of the night and say, "Not tonight.  I just need some down time?"  God made my heart sensitive and soft to other's needs, so why am I ignoring that?  He is searching for the Jeremiah's and the Ezekiel's of the world to bridge the gap between us and Him.  God desired for us to live a balanced life so we could have time for Him, not create time for Him.  In Ezekiel, God makes plain that he wants the best of our fruits.  The choice time, not the leftover.  It is so easy to gloss over my idols.  Even in prayer.  My prayers reflect my chaotic life.  It is worth noting that in all of my chaos, that last place I should be in is judgement of anything or anybody.  My path is far from perfect.  My days are imperfect.  My hours are imperfect.  So who am I but an imperfect being saved by grace and attempting to show God how I love Him and will, maybe someday, be better.  Not perfect.  Just better.  I have wanted to see vengeance.  To put that into words feels despicable.  But honest.  I am wrong.  It may be forced, but I am trying to learn the act of replacing the desire for vengeance with prayer.  I can only hope one day this will be a natural feeling and not oe born out of obedience.  He will take care of comforting me and making it all better.  Not my judgement.

I suppose the beauty of that is I feel that way because I have His spirit in me.  It came from somewhere and MY faith...MY!!!!  faith tells me it came from HIM!!  What a relief to see God's work come to fruition.  The people that God worked through...the difficult, yet they saw the reward of their obedience because they kept His spirit.  God asked Ezekiel if the dry bones could live.  Can they?  Mine will.  He said so.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Good News!!

I just wanted to update anyone who has been following that we will be making our first payment toward our mission trip to Alaska this week!!  God was there for us, communicating that He had a plan and we are to follow it and is showing us some open doors and some encouraging people!  We have a long road ahead of making it work but my feelings of blessing and gratitude tell me our faith is going to pay off.  Thank you and please keep leaving me messages as this little, tiny step develops.  I know this is just one piece to a much grander scheme.  God can be cunning like that!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Our Future

As some of you may know,we have been working on some big decisions.  We had a big fall that was stressful for us financially but we survived and came out the other side possibly better for it.  We have felt very compelled to teach others the things we have done to change our lives in the last few years.  It has really come to our hearts to evaluate what kind of Christian we truly want to be.  We have become comfortable with the little things we do.  Praying for others, volunteering some here and there, send a little money out for others to do the work.  But what are we actually doing
We took a few days last week to do some much needed family bonding.  We stayed 3 nights in a  little cabin in the mountains removed from as much normal as we could in an attempt to regain composure and reconnect as a family.  It was quite successful and we became pretty secure in our path and mission as a family.  We have been facing an opportunity, which to some, may seem trivial and easy, others could possibly relate, and yet to others this may be the last thing you would ever consider.

Our church is sending a team of people to a remote area near Juno, Alaska where a youth camp is located.  There is little known about Jesus or Christianity and much love needed.  Most of these kids come from homes that know nothing about God and in a lot of the cases, the camp may be their only source.  I cannot quite do justice to what this place offers.  You can check out some of the stories here.  We have always felt like our own country needed this kind of love too but seems to be neglected.  When this was presented we felt it was perfect.  But as the details have unraveled, we are struggling with it.  We have differing opinions as to which is the number one difficulty but since this is my blog I will state my number one which is we cannot bring our kids and will have little to no phone contact for 10 days.  There is computer, but lets face it, that is not the same for someone who stays with her kids pretty much 24/7.  Next is the cost of the trip being about $3000 total for us both.  This is also going to cost most of Mike's vacation and since he works 7 days a week every week, that limits the time he would have to take off for the rest of the year.  Not to mention a loss of some of his pay while out.

I have been praying and praying...and praying and praying...that God would reveal some unforeseen thing that would give us a clear answer but all I have heard from Him was Noah, Abraham, Job...they all did it!!  They had faith that God would provide for them and their families. I thought I even heard Him tell me they they just did it, and with a lot more at stake and for much longer and with much less and what the heck are you whining about??  Ok, well, maybe not in quite that eloquent of words!  But you catch my drift. 

I do not have a clear answer, possibly because I am blinded by fear.  But I do know it is time to stretch my reach past the Children's Ministry at The Church at Southlake and it is time to get out of my comfort zone.  Is a trip to the remote Echo Ranch Bible Camp a good place to start?

Please pray for our decision and our faith as we need to make it soon.  Our deposits are due next week and we seem to be riding Rockin' Roller Coaster!  Please drop me an email or Facebook message.

If you feel compelled to donate a few dollars to help us get there, you can call me too.  We could use all the help we can get!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Blogging through the bible, Faith, and Upcoming Events!

In this blog...
1.  Jeremiah
2.  Life happenings
3. Upcoming events

I look at Jeremiah and see a hero.  But I put myself in his shoes and I feel defeat.  Jeremiah spoke directly to God.  He tried to tell the Hebrews they would be taken captive.  He warned against worshipping false idols and trusting in man.  One of my favorite images created in the bible is in this very book.  God tells them to be like a tree planted by water.  I have always worked out.  Running, weights, acrobatics, all types of physical exertion.  Thirst and I can be quite familiar with each other.  There is disarray in my workouts and I feel incomplete when I have thirst.  It must be quenched or there will be no result.  The tree God talks about is full and satisfied with water since it is planted nearby.  It will stay green and lush. Water is needed to sustain life.  I cannot sustain life without God's word and guidance in all things.  When I lose my faith and when my sites fall from him to earthly things, people and advice, I fall short in a multitude of ways.  He warned of all the things that would happen in the future and that they were not held captive by what those before them had done.  They were held accountable for what they did.  It is comforting to hear that.  It is a second chance.  A chance to break the cycle.  You are not responsible for others.  But you are responsible to stand firmly planted and drink up the liquid of life.  It gives me great hope in that these great prophets who were chosen by God reacted in such humility.  Moses believed he was not eloquent enough. Isaiah believed he was of unclean lips.  My favorite is Jonah who ran the other way.  Can't say I would react much different.  One would think that if God chose you, that the people would listen, especially as he spread news of their, quite literally, destruction! this a good indication that we should trust His plan even when it isn't going as we simple, sinful, mortals thought it should?

Life Happenings
It has been a great start to our New Year despite some minor setbacks with buying one car and selling another.  We pulled a Dave Ramsey and bought an older car in cash, sold Mike's for a profit and put a huge chunk to my car which will be paid off very soon!  Why do I put our financial stuff out there???  I am hoping to inspire people into changing something!  Changing something will get a different result.  We changed something, then another thing, then another, until, as we look back now, we have changed most of our lives!  I know things will still happen and they will not be planned and they may even be horrible.  I continue to pray that when they happen, I will be able to stand strong in the knowledge that I have done everything I could to make it through and come out the other side in one piece but able to manage if its a few more.  We have some big decisions to make this year that we have to make soon.  We are considering a mission tip to Alaska for about 10 days this summer.  This is without our kid and little to no communication with them.  We do, however, feel led in this direction.  The pros and cons are being weighed, but we both seem to be waiting for an ultimate answer...and we're waiting!  I will keep you posted.

Upcoming events
As multi-purpose mom, it has been my goal to continue striving toward a well rounded/balanced life.  This has gone spectacular in some instances and completely failed in others.  One area I truly wanted to strive in was my writing.  My children's Christmas books have gone out to a few agencies and been rejected for simple reasons.  Biggest problem being they are Christmas books.  I had them published but that publisher will not be working with these kind of books anymore.  I also wrote and completed  novel.  I have since begun tearing down and rebuilding it.  The idea came upon me with the help of a dear and awesome best friend, to begin a short story blog.  I thought it odd at first as I barely have the chance to work on my book these days, but soon, the idea struck me to write short stories ABOUT my book.  A sort of prelude to the book about the characters, their lives, their backgrounds that would be a foundation.  It is title Destiny Walkers.  Come check it out.  Feel free as I put up stories to give feedback by commenting.  I will be posting first, a background to my novel.  I would also like to see others' short stories  Coment with a link to the story. All in all, I have the creative juices flowing...may be dangerous, so look out!

-All 4 of us snuggled up in bed in the morning..we need a bigger bed!
-Mackenzie, "Daddy, I hold you!"  And Daddy more than happy to oblige!  Can we say pinkie?
-Madison walking around outside with me preparing our yard for what proved to be an ugly storm.  So old now...such a young lady!
-Madi holding Mackenzie on her lap for a movie.
-Movie night with "corn!"  As Mackenzie refers to popcorn!!

Change can be annoying but when you put a little change together, you get a bigger coin and sometimes you get a dollar!  It is so worth putting bits of change together.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Some Coupon Sites and Tips for the NEW YEAR of Saving!!!!

I found a new coupon printing site.  I really like it and wanted to share it.  I have stopped my Sunday paper...*GASP*...ever since I began shopping at Aldi because I found I got 95% of the things I need there at 1/3 the cost.  saves me an hour or more a week of couponing and polanning my trip.  BUT...I still love CVS-ing and the occassional trip to Publix for things I may not find at Aldi.  So I needed to find a place to print what I need online.  I still can use Whole Coupon Inserts and I cound another one I recently found called My Coupon Hunter.  The last one seems to be better for single coupons.  If you want it fast you are likely to find a printable here.  Sign up for free and look around!!

Just wanted to throw that out there as you begin your new year saving money!!  HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Home Organizer, Budgets, and Christmas Homeschool Style

I began following a blog called Hearts of Wisdom.  It is a bit overwhelming at first, but I picked through it slowly.  It is an inspirational place for someone aspiring to manage and live a frugal, organized, and purposeful life.  There are a million ideas for a million topics.  One of the ones I recently dove into was a home organizer.  I have put mine together and put it to good use.  It has tips and ideas for meal planning and monthly freezer cooking as well.  Both are things I have done, but there is always room for improvement!

We went through our budget which will start our new year.  There has been so much improvement this year that it was fun to do it.  Now, we will be utilizing our envelope system to the fullest.  We have set aside money each month for things that will cost one lump sum like vacation, girl scouts, soccer.  Each month we will put the allotted amount into an envelope so when it comes time to pay for that, we will have it!  We feel so good about what we have accomplished and where we are going!  Good things are coming this year with great opportunities for us to grow and branch out. 

We have slowed down school for December but we have NOT slowed down cooking, baking, writing letters to Santa and learning about the giving, loving and gratefulness that comes with Christmas.  This means a little sacrifice, a little work, a lot of explaining and prayer about how to get our kids to understand Christmas is not about that letter and what's in it!  I suppose it is a bit of a process and a battle with society but so worth it.  That's what homeschool revolves around this time of year!

My recent moments...
-Mackenie's expanding vocabulary and behavior.  She just cracks us up!!!
-Anytime I have with Mike. 
-Coming home to a set up Christmas tree as a surprise from Mike!!
-Hot Chocolate with my girls at the Boardwalk.
-Walking into my sweet baby's room in the morning to hear an enthusiastic, "Hi Momma!!!" and get a pat on my back with a hug and a kiss!
-Madi still wanting to snuggle each night on the couch!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Blogging through the bible and 10 ways to earn money at home!!

Continuing with Isaiah
10 ways to earn money at home
Our recent frugal efforts

Continuing with Isaiah

I mentioned in the last blog that Isaiah really hit home.  The entire book was a succession from realization to change and growth and everything in between.  You turn your eyes in the right direction and suddenly the path becomes clear.  There is the realization that your dependence falls on God and your life will begin to take a shape, follow a path, and have a purpose.  God then deals with you and your change.  It is so much more comforting to know that God is dealing with me than it is to have no dealing whatsoever!  The best part is that God is patient in allowing me to make mistakes.  He is alright with the fact that I don't always get it right the first time.  I am so UN-perfect and so unworthy of the patience he offers me, yet he does it with grace.  Whenever I feel condemned, I know its not from Him!  Jesus was regularly condemned and did not let it affect His purpose.  No shame shall come to one whose found their power and might in God's eyes.  That is His purpose.  He is there to guide us through those times we feel so alone.  I know in my future, when I feel powerless, down, even bored or sloppy and lazy, this is the book that will draw my eyes.  It is full of inspiration, like a revival of the spirit, proving that God's house really does dwell within us.  We shine outward even at our weakest with His light inside of us.  That is pure refreshment.

10 ways to earn money from home
I have spoken of Dave Ramsey before, especially of recent as we won $3000 from him during his Christmas giveaway!  It was very exciting.  We have been working very hard at living a frugal life. Sometimes, ah, who am I kidding, most times, we decide staying in, cooking at home, and shopping at the thrift stores, or not getting our hair cut, carefully planning and shopping for groceries, doing without the expensive calling plans or internet on our phone...the list goes on, are our life's work right now.  This $3000 enabled us to give a little more, save a little more, and even buy ourselves Christmas presents for the first time in 3 years!!!  Along with Dave Ramsey's education came date nights involving budgets!  Hmm, not so romantic, but we make it as fun as it can be.  Also comes creative income earning.  We have sold things on eBay that were doing nothing in some random closet, I have been writing articles online, and Christmas is when I sell the books I wrote a few years back.  I have looked at multiple ways to earn income and have come up with a handful of great ideas and linked them up to some of the resources I have found.

10.  Sell on EBay  This can be as simple as getting rid of "stuff" to becoming a seller with your own store. You can use thrift stores for this or or hunt down treasure!  Either way, there is a great profit to be made on eBay.  You can also use Upillar which is like eBay only without the fees!

9.  Have a bake sale or a small food business from your house.  Has anyone ever told you how great those cookie bars are?  Are you the one everyone turns to for a special appetizer?  Maybe you can make some in your very own kitchen and sell them to local businesses or to locals at their parties!

8.  Garage Sale  Don't want to bother with online selling or shipping stuff?  Sell it right out of your house and the get rid of it in the same day!  Garage sales are a great way to not only make money but simplify your life.

7.  Personal Trainer  This one takes a person who enjoys fitness but can be done on a very flexible schedule!

6.  Tutor/music lessons  If you have been a certified teacher or are an expert musician, you can take students in and make a decent amount of extra income!

5.  In home daycare  A lot of homes are finding one income too difficult and are left having to put their children into daycare.  As a parent, I know I feel better with an in home daycare.  They are more personal.  this is something you can do at home and with children!

4.  Write online  If you like to write and you have a topic you know a lot about, you can apply here and make a little extra cash!  If you have always wanted to write a children's book or a novel and don't know where to send it, The Writer's Market gives you all you could possibly want to know about publishers, agents and more!

3.  Coupons  There is a lot to be said for "how" to coupon.  It is money in your pocket.  We have cut our grocery bill by about $100 a week.  I'd say $400 a month is a decent income!

2.  Your own B&B  Have you ever dreamed of owning a bed and breakfast?  It is a possible 7 day a week business but can be pretty lucrative and allow you to stay home to work!  Some people have even begun renting rooms in their own homes as vacation rooms to Europeans visitors!  Something to consider if you have spare rooms in your home and live in a tourist destination.

1.  Make and sell  If you have a skill like quilting, painting, crocheting, sewing or anything of the like, you should consider selling your items in local boutique stores, at flea markets, or craft fairs.

I love the idea of creative income.  It takes matters into our own hands.  I am slowly making my way around this list.  But any income is good income. Post a comment with any ideas you may have right here, on Facebook, or drop me an email!  I love hearing new was to make money!  I will be sure to share them!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Reading through the bible...Isaiah

I mentioned in my last blog that I had to catch up on blogging what I have read so today is about Isaiah.  I felt like this book has really struck home for me so forgive me in advance for possibly getting emotional!  I wasted a lot of years being down on myself for mistakes and poor decisions.  Too oftenI felt like I didn't deserve good things or good people in my life.  Sometimes this included friends.  A few years ago I began to feel as if I couldn't be any lower and that is when the reality hit me.  I was being stripped so I could be rebuilt.  Like an antique piece of furniture.  The beautiful part of this is that I know I have a lot more coming and I look forward to my restructuring...Isaiah pointed all of this out for me.

It begins with the recognition of the need for change and follows with God's desire to teach us His ways.  He takes away the earthly things so we will turn to and depend on Him and only Him. God is selfish like that!  It is His desire to use us!  How often do we want to be used?  But I can tell you, He can use me however He please because that means He loves me!  He has to cleanse us before that.  Sin has to be dealt with.  All of the years that I spent being so down on myself and feeling so undeserving, God was simply showing, teaching, and reteaching me until I could wake up and learn the lesson.  Why did I keep encountering the same problems over and over?  Because I was too stubborn to learn it the first time, the second time, and more!  I am pretty stubborn.  He knows I have a heart that belongs to Him even if it doesn't perform perfectly for Him all the time. 

God wants us to enjoy peace.  He knows what our lives need to be peaceful and He is the only one who has the qualifications to make those decisions.  One thing I have learned in the recent years of my life is when I can't seem to figure out why something won't go my way is to stop, take a step back and turn back to asking God to take the wheel.  Trust, faith and pixie dust, right? 

I have a lot more to say about Isaiah as it relates to the past and future, but I am pretty certain it is too much to fit into one blog, so I will leave this to be continued!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Living Frugally Thus Strangely!

I know I am really behind in blogs here, but in my defense we have had multiple computer failures and my computer time has been nearly non-existant.  But, I am back and ready to update.

We have had quite a few months here in our house.  I am still working my way through the bible.  I have finished Isaiah and have almost comleted Jeremiah but I will have to blog that later as I have some frugal things to discuss this time.  Some years back, we made the decision and took the steps to begin living a debt free life together and to pass that on to our kids.  We counted back and discovered we have not touched a credit card in almost 3 years and have never looked back!  EVER!  This meant huge changes.  We were not wasteful spenders to begin with but we didn't think twice about eating out or getting hair cuts.  I didn't worry too much about exactly what we were buying at the grocery store or even throwing food away.  That is naming just a few.  We began studying Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University.  It was, without a doubt, the smartest thing we have ever done.  We began building an emergency fund and paying off our debts.  Dave's baby steps lead you to be prepared in an emergency with simple steps.  His theory proved itself 5 times over in the last 6 weeks.  Yes, I said 5.  Baby step 1 guides you to save a $1,000 emergency fund.  This is for EMERGENCIES!  Cars, air, septics, falling trees, broken pools, you know, things that don't happen very often.  Unless your last name is Sawyer!!!!  They all happened to us since September!  We had to cut down some trees that had large holes in them and were hanging over our house and screen room.  LARGE trees requiring special equipment and climbing.  $1200.  In the same week our air and septic tank broke.  Combo of $500.  The salt cell in our pool went out leading to the possiblilty of destroying our whole system.  $1200.  We thought we were on the mend when Mike's clutch went on his car after 7 years.  That was a whopping $1400.  Had this been a year ago, we would have both had heart attacks and would not only have been left without being able to pay for it all, but would have had medical bills to boot!  Complete credit goes to our planning and work we have done through our pal Dave!  Because we have worked on having no debt, cutting back expenses in ways most people we know have never thought of, and saved, saved, and found more ways of saving, we came out the other side of what could have been a complete and total disaster...VIRTUALLY uscathed!  Mike has even parted ways with his most prized collections of...well...stuff, so we could sell it along with things we do not need or use anymore, just to squeeze out some more saving!  Which leads me to...

Our home's collective changes.  We have taught our kids, mainly the 6 year old as the 1 year old has little say, that shopping at thrift stores brings on bigger and better treasures, that waiting patiently means getting a better deal, therefore saving money for something else later, and how to spend, save and give our money.  She earns money and divides it up.  She also helps me with planning our meals and couponing.  She has been studying Dave Ramsey in Homeschool in his JUNIOR set.  She puts it into practice with some amazing tools!  We eat out only when we have saved to do so.  We budget every litlle action in and we try to never, ever make impulse purchases.  We do not "deserve" a Starbucks.  But one day, we will have saved enough money to have Starbucks money anytime we want it.  It is not something that is within our means right now except on the occasional meeting or when friends are kind enough to give you their packages of coffee that include a coupon for a free one!  (You know who you are;) )  Living within our means has taken some sacrifice, planning and even crazy looks from people who think us cheap, crazy, and weird!  And to those, I say, WE ARE!!  And proud of it.  Mike works 7 days a week every single week with the exception of days he takes vacation pay for or there is a holiday that would account for missing hours.  It is always a loss of either time or money to get a day with him.  ALWAYS!  One day, we will call the Dave Ramsey Show and scream at the top of our lungs, "We're debt freeeeeeee!!!"  Heck, we may even fly up to his office and stand in the lobby and scream it!  We have 2 rental properties, my car, and a medical bill and then its our turn.  What freedom.  What liberation! 

I wrote an article on tips for things to do that are simple ways to start helping to save money in your home.  I have practiced and planned, failed and started over many times.  One thing we will not so is give up!

Oh the many moments...
-An entire day with Mike and the girls at Universal where I got to see Wizarding World for the first time.
-Magic Kingdom with my girls and I walking around and just plain having fun. 
-An unexpected trip with some of our closes friends to Universal.  The best part is their willingness to keep me company in my sometimes lonliness missing my husband! (Mitchell's you rock!)
-Watching our little family change and see our desire to help others. 
-Helping a ton in a situation where we didn't have to, expecting and receiving nothing and being glad to walk away unnoticed.