II Chronicles 7:14

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Give me just a minute...

I really, really, really, really encourage you to go read THIS POST. It will make you laugh, cry, smile, pray, love your kids, love your parents, love your husband, giggle...etc. It's just really one of the best posts I've ever read!
(Especially you Kate...I know you'll love it!)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Curve Ball..

So, life just keeps throwing me curve balls. Just when I think things are settling down into a nice, comfortable routine, something changes.
This morning I found out that the lady I'm babysitting for has decided to give her 2 weeks notice to her job today...which means, my babysitting job is about to come to an end. Somewhat strangely, I feel sad. It's been a blessing to me in MANY ways. Besides the obvious blessing of added income, it has also forced me to slow down. I've played more with my kids in this past month and spent a lot more time enjoying our home and the things we have. In addition to that, I've really come to appreciate the opportunity for my kids to have playmates around. Every day Grant wakes up asking me if it's a day that Madison and Nathan are coming over. He is no longer bored all morning while I try to work--but instead he gets out his toys and plays! No more sitting in front of the TV for 4 hours...instead there's hide-n-seek and arts & crafts and make believe play. It's been wonderful.
I'm trying to remind myself of the good things about this ending...such as--I'll be able to start going to my classes at the gym again on Tue & Thur. :o)
But quite honestly, that's about the ONLY positive thing I can come up with. Even the things that I thought were going to be negative (like not having as much freedom to run around town) has actually been a good thing because the less "running around" I do..the more money I save AND the more time I spend with the kids.
It's truely been a win-win situation and I'm sad to see it end.
HOWEVER, as God has proven time and time again...He always has something in store for me and I'm looking ahead with excitement as I see what's next up on the agenda! I pray that I remain in the right state of mind so that He is always able to use me wherever He wants...and that no matter what I'm doing, I always remember to give HIM all the glory and honor! Because it is only through Him and by Him, that I am who I am and that I do what I do! Anything good you see in me, is just Jesus shining through!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Gifts & Dancing

So, as I mentioned before, since Matt was out of town working, we didn't get to attend the Valentine Swing Dance that we had planned for. So, instead, I took Brooklyn as my date. We got all fixed up in some cute black dresses, did up our hair and went! It was a lot of fun and I can't believe how little you have to learn to be able to get out there on the dance floor and look like you know what you're doing. Sure, there are PLENTY of fancy-schmancy moves to learn in the future...but for our first time, we were able to pick up the basic steps pretty quickly and then we danced the night away!

It was really cold outside and I just couldn't bear the thought of walking outside bare-legged...so I wore my jeans underneath my dress until we got inside! I'm such a wimp these days! :o)
Here are some pictures of the gifts that Matt brought home for us! First of all...my ring. It's much prettier in person! We're going out on a little make-up Valentines date tonight so we'll swing by the mall and exchange this for the correct size. For those of you who remember my FB post about "THE JEANS"....they're getting returned. I tried to wear them Wednesday to church (had 'em on for about 20 minutes)...but three reasons made me decide to return them instead. 1) They're about 4 inches too long. Even with my highest high-heels on...I was stepping on the hem. 2) They're EXTREMELY comfortable (baggy)--which means I probably really needed a size smaller. 3) $50 is just too much to pay for a pair of jeans that don't fit perfectly.
Anyway, here is Grant with his sling shot that has already gotten him into LOTS of trouble. Super cool gift---but it should have a warning label that reads: REQUIRES SUPERVISION! Any parent who gives a 5 year old little boy a real slingshot, shows him how to put a rock in it and aim and shoot it, should just expect the other children (and dogs) to get shot with it. The slingshot is currently in "time out." ;)

And lastly, here is my beautiful girlie showing off her new hat. Isn't it adorable?

And although this picture has no significant meaning, I decided to include it because I just think it's so pretty. I took the kids to a indoor bouncy place the other day and I snapped a quick one of Brook in between jumping. I love this girl!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Testimony from the test! Triumph from the trial!

So today marks the 18th consequtive day that my hubby has worked!!! He has not had a day off in almost 3 weeks! Wow! What a MAN!
Because of his commitment, diligence and hard work I am ELATED to say that we are on the verge of being DEBT FREE! And not only debt-free...but we also have been able to build our savings account back up too! (Rene, you can stop holding your breath now! ha ha)
It's almost ironic...how we just went through one of the toughest years we've ever had financially...and yet...we are achieving something we've been working towards for TWELVE years!
You know what made the difference? God is our provider; Not our jobs.
Yah, it was (and is) a lesson that wasn't quick or easy to learn...but we HAD to stop putting our trust in our paycheck, and start knowing that we know that we know that God's "got this." As long as we remained faithful to tithe, give when we could and be good stewards with what we were given, our efforts have been blessed!
We gave the largest tithe check I've ever written out last night...and I don't say that AT ALL to say woohoo look at us....I say that to say WOOHOO LOOK AT GOD!!!!
Of course, we have done without somethings we'd really like to have (wedding ring, new car, vacation) BUT...now that we are not slaves to debt, we can start saving up to buy these things CASH! (or at least with a big down payment)!
I am really going to consider getting Dave Ramsey's Money Management workbook thing and start applying his principles of putting money in envelopes for everything. That seems so "stone age" to me...to carry around CASH for stuff...but, I can TOTALLY see how doing that would make my Wal-Mart trips much more focused and less impulsive. I would be forced to pay attention to how much I'm spending and not nearly as tempted to throw that sports bra or pkg of socks or pj's for the kids in the cart that way. Also, as my dear friend Lisa pointed out to me....it's also a way to be able to purchase things for yourself without feeling guilt (because if the money is in the envelope marked "clothes for jen" then I can spend it!! YAY!)
The tough thing will be passing up that bargain on the clearance rack for 70% off just because I don't have money in the envelope. Maybe I'll make up a special envelope called "bargain money" so that I can spend it on anything that I find that is an amazing bargain!?!?!
Anyway, I'm curious...have any of you used this envelope system? And if so, how has it worked for you?
Another thing I'm hoping to implement with our new-found financial freedom is some kind of savings for those things you never think about saving for (dog grooming, car tags, car maintenance, Christmas, date night, birthday gifts). Not exactly sure how to do this...but I know that those things right there are the ones that got us into debt in the first place!
So....do any of you have any money tips you'd be willing to send my way?

I am SOOOO looking forward to spoiling my hardworkin' man this weekend! Rest, relaxation and a DATE! Yee-haw!


Hey, my man delivers...but if he didn't....a box of chocolates would surely do the trick! ha ha ha

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I take it back....

Well, well, well...wouldn't ya just know that as soon as I go and post something like that last post on here...that my hubby comes through big time!
I haven't mentioned this for fear of freakyweirdazoids that might be stalking me in blogland (hey...ya never know!!) but...my big stud muffin has been out of town for a couple of weeks for work and so we missed having Valentines Day together. It sucked. I did have a great time going swing dancing with Brooklyn on Friday night...and I had a fabulous time with my handsome little Grant on Sunday eating lunch and browsing the mall...but when you're as completely infatuated with your hunny as I am (and I AM!)....it just stinks not getting to be with them on Valentines Day.
But alas, my knight in shining armor made it back home last night and he came BEARING GIFTS!!!
For Grant, an EXTREMELY COOL real slingshot. It's made of wood and has an eagle head on it with leather peices. MAJOR rad!
For Brooklyn, a hat that I seriously want to steal from her...but I'm trying not to. It's brown and rugged (sort of the pageboy style) and it has a big rhinestone cross on it diagonally. It's stinkin' awesome and I love love love it.
But for MOMMA....he brought me a ring from James Avery! I've always wanted one and have admired them for years. It's a silver heart and I'm gonna love wearing it just as soon as I exchange it for the right size (stink!) Then....later...well...I can't tell you too much....but let me just say...the ring wasn't all he had for me! hahahahahahaha....okay...I'm giggling. I can just see your faces...you're like JEN!!! (except for Tammy who is like ROCK ON!)...anyway, he had a little sumpin-sumpin for our alone time too, which brought BIG SMILES to my face and still does!
I'm the luckiest girl alive! really, I am!
(ps. pictures to be posted soon!)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Reality is just so...boring!

So, I was given something different for Valentines Day this year. It's called a Reality Check.
Yah...I still live in the land of fantasy fairy-tale romance. The kind you see in movies and read about in books.
And it's not just for Valentines Day. In my mind, every momentous occasion should be marked by the giving of thoughtful gifts, heart-felt sentiments and priceless, quality time with the one you love. It should be chock-full of suprise, anticipation, elation, celebration and butterflies in the stomach!
Now I realize, we do live on this earth (not in the clouds above it) so I know that EVERY holiday can't be enjoyed this way...but there are a few that just canNOT be overlooked (IMO). They are:
#1: Your birthday. This is YOUR day. The other 364 days of the year are regular days where you spend the day doing things for other people (work, cleaning, cooking, etc.). So what's so wrong with thinking that on that ONE day, it should be ALL about the birthday person? From the moment they open their eyes, til they close them to go to sleep that night, it should be one celebration after another. Yes, I think that 2 of your vacation days should be used for this. One day off for your birthday and one day off for your honey's birthday. (maybe even another day off for each childs birthday!) Of course, I've yet to meet another human being who feels this way...so it remains a fantasy to me.
#2: Your Anniversary. Wow...the day you said "I want to be with you every day for the rest of my entire existance on this earth!" HOW IN THE WORLD do people just give a simple card and go out for dinner and call that CELEBRATING? Sheesh...I give cards all year long and go out for dinner all year long...so what makes that special? I realize, I'm totally in the minority here....
#3: Valentines Day. The entire USA recognizes this as the day you show your sweetie how much you love them. People who know nothing about love go to more effort (it seems) than a lot of us who are really IN IT (love). Think back to when you were 16 and you had your first 'serious' boyfriend. Wasn't it a big deal back then to get him something special (maybe cologne or a shirt from his favorite store) and have a special date and he would usually buy you flowers and maybe a peice of fun jewlery? You always held your breath that he (or someone!) would send you something at school so it would be OBVIOUS that someone out there LOVES you. Not just 'loves' you...but LOVES you!!!

Yes...well....either those days are over--or maybe they never really existed. Maybe it's all a figment of my very lively imagination!?! All I know is that no matter how hard I try not to, I usually spend the week prior to any of these given holidays dreaming up all the possible scenarious that I am going to be surprised with. My poor family...if they DID ever want to do somethng over-the-top for me, they'd have to be DANG creative because there's rare a thing I haven't already thought of and played out in my mind! It's like a fail-proof recipe for disappointment and I buy into it every time.

So...my question is...do I need to come back to reality and realize that this is just NOT how the real world does it?? (how extremely depressing and boring!!) or....does everyone else need to read my blog and GET BUSY WITH IT and start showing each other how much they mean to one another!!!???? (why..yes...I think that sounds delightful!)
I think I've gone loony....

***I would just like to say, before I end this post that...YES..I USED to celebrate things like this. However, due to being surrounded by people who don't share my excitement in 24-hour celebrations, my enthusiasm has been whittled away bit by bit, year by year. I still feel just as passionate about it as I ever have...but when you go to all this work and thought to do something like this for someone and they honestly would have rathered just get a card and go out to eat...then you start realizing that maybe this is what "I" want done for me...not what other people want done for them. As we all know from reading Gary Chapmans book "The 5 Love Languages"...we all spell LOVE differently...and then some of us just spell it

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Little Helpers

I'm not sure if this might violate child labor laws....but I'll tell ya what....cleaning house sure is a lot more fun and a lot quicker when you put the little people to work as well!

Here is Brooklyn mopping the floor and Grant scooping dog poop. They each earned $3 for a job well done! (and mommy had to do a few less jobs that day! YAY!)

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Oh, there it is!

So, in my last post I was asking where the snow was....well, I found it! It started falling shortly after I hit publish and didn't quit until after I went to bed that night. Here are a few pics from my front yard.

I have some really cute pics of the kids with the snowmans we built...but they're on my phone so I'll have to upload those later!