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, July 28, 2010


How long has it been since you've played Monopoly?
For me (and Matt) it's been YEARS....since our childhood. Not only have I not played it in probably 20ish years...but I also haven't wanted to either. All I could really remember about that game is that it takes FOREVER and that it is slow and boring and pointless.
The kids and I went to a neighborhood garage sale on Saturday and happened to come across one particular house where the woman was selling lots of games and activity stuff. I could tell right away that she was VERY organized. When I picked up a Color Wonder book (for .25 cents) she ran right over and handed me all the markers that went with it. Apparently she had all the pieces to the stuff organized and ready to hand out with the things people bought. I was impressed. Normally I don't like to buy board games from garage sales because you never know if you're gonna get all the pieces, but this lady had her stuff together, so I looked thru the games. There on the bottom of the stack was a perfectly maintained and complete Monopoly game. It was marked $1.00 so I thought 'ahh..what the heck, let's try it."
We have been having SO MUCH FUN!
It says for ages 8 and up but I figured I could just help Grant if needed help. We got it out and started playing it on Sunday night and have been playing it every night since! (and still no one has won! ha ha)
We have all been having MAJOR fun spending all this money and buying property and railroads and utilities and houses and apartments!
I don't know if it is from being on such a strict Dave Ramsey budget or what...but I am getting a total adrenaline rush from impulsively saying "sure, I'll pay $360 for Illinois Ave." HA HA For once I don't have to be tight with my money and worry about every penny that I spend!!!
Anyway, it's been a BUH-LAST for all 4 of us and instead of watching the TV every night, we've been having some REAL family fun.
I'll admit, Grant does lose his interest from time to time when it's not his turn, but since there are only 4 of us, it gets back around to him pretty quickly and then he's 'back in the game.'
He's a total money hog though. He doesn't want to buy ANYTHING...he said he's gonna save all his money and see if he can get it stacked up to the ceiling (just like in real life! ha ha)
Brooklyn is cautious with what she spends and only buys something if she has PLENTY more money in her pile.
I buy things left and right and as long as I still have $50 in my pile, I'm happy. HA!
Matt only buys the best. He wants Park Place and Boardwalk and the orange properties because they have the highest rent. Mr. Goody-Goody...has to have the best of everything. (I just want the MOST! hee hee)
Anyway, I know this was probably a boring post and if you are still reading, you are a true friend!
I just wanted to mention how fun it's been because I know plenty of other families who could use some of this kind of fun! (Rene, Kandy, Teresa, Tammy, etc.) Love you all!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I'm sitting here at my desk this morning doing my work for the doctors office and I look down at my pile of papers. On the top of the stack is the patient list I am currently working on and all over it is doodling that Brooklyn did yesterday.
Doodling that I yelled at her for because she used my "special" felt-tip permanent pen that I only use for special things like writing out cards, invitations, etc. and she "wasted all that ink and once it's gone, it's gone!"
omg-how stupid.
And now I really feel like a meanie because I see what she wrote which is a big flower and pretty block letters that say "Mom is Wow!"

Why am I SO HARD on her sometimes? I mean...especially yesterday, I was really tough on her about a lot of things (the doodling with my favorite pen, how she unloads the dishwasher wrong, how sloppy she is, what an awful job she does of cleaning her room, etc.)
None of those are really bad things. Maybe they're not the best qualities, but they're not bad. She is a really good girl and sometimes it seems like all I do is find things to pick on her about.
YUCK. I don't wanna be that mom.
So today, without warning, I'm gonna turn it around and at least for this one day, no griping to her about anything. I bet it will be a pleasant change of pace for both of us!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Judge not...

Yesterday as I sat in my lawn chair soaking up the rays, sipping on a frozen Mai Tai and talking to God, I giggled at how many people would think that was SO WRONG!
Drinking and Praying???? Noooo!
why not?
I wasn't getting drunk. I wasn't even getting tipsy. I was just getting my headache/uptight self a bit more relaxed as I had a wonderful time talking to God, thanking Him for His supernatural peace to wash over me and my home and then I had some time of praying in the Spirit before it was time to go inside and start dinner. After that little "excursion" from my regular daily routine, I was refreshed and rejuvenated and ready for the remainder of my day.
I am well aware that the majority of Christians would totally see something wrong with that picture....and I understand where they're coming from. I've often wondered the same thing as I sat in a restaurant with my hubby on a date night, both of us sipping from some kind of frozen mixed-drink concoction, giggling and talking about our lives and our day...and then we bow our heads to pray over our dinner. At that moment, I am very alert to the fact that we could have on-lookers who think "Ah! Look at those people--they're DRINKING and now they're PRAYING!"
As a matter of fact, I even have some family members who would be saying that very thing. (and that is what I was raised to believe too.)
But show me where in the Bible it says that a person can't have A DRINK? and where it says that if you DO have a drink--you suddenly can't pray or "be" a Christian?
There is an enormous difference between "being drunk" which Jesus clearly warns us against, and having a single drink.
I am a firm believer in being led by the Spirit of God and having a close, intimate relationship with the Father. When you have that, you can find out what God would have YOU to do. I'm not saying that everyone should drink. A person inclined to alcoholism should probably stay far, far away from all of it. So, every person is individual and you have to make your choice for YOU based on what God leads you to do.
For me, I have complete peace about having a yummy frozen drink every now and then (and I'm talking maybe once every couple of months). It doesn't hinder my walk with the Lord one tiny bit. As a matter of fact, in a way, I feel freedom that I've never felt before because I grew up putting a LOT of emphasis on "works" and "appearances"--what other people would think--and now I realize that is silly.
I still respect the decisions of others and wouldn't ever choose to have a drink around someone who struggles with it. Nor would I disrespect a fellow believer if they have chosen not to partake.
Anyway, I don't know where all this is coming from or why I'm typing it. Just was on my mind after my FB post yesterday about "having a Mai Tai and praying" and I wondered how that would be received.
My first thought was "let he who has no sin cast the first stone" but then I thought...wait! Having this drink isn't a sin...so that doesn't work. So instead I say, "Judge not, lest you be judged." :o)

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Getting older...

Wow, I am growing up. I can tell because I used to count down the days until my birthday beginning sometime in June. This year it has just snuck up on me. I will be 32 in only 3 short days and I honestly don't care. Don't get me wrong...I care about the PARTY and the CAKE and the GIFTS!!! I just don't care about getting older.
That's a major change for me. Turning 30 was life-threatening to me. I thought for sure I was going to suddenly turn into this older, responsible, mature (read: BORING!) person when my digits changed to starting with a "3"...but not even close. My life is only getting better and better with each passing year. Well, actually, my "life" (meaning circumstances) hasn't change a whole lot...but my perspective has. What a enormous thing PERSPECTIVE is! It can make the worst day seem do-able...and the best day seem ordinary. What a shame it is that we let so many opportunities for wonderful memories and totally fun times pass us by because we have a nasty attitude.
No Way Jose! Not me! I refuse!
I'm turning 32 on Saturday and I'm STOKED! I'm gonna start partying on Friday and not be done until Sunday when I go to bed! Even the mundane things can be exciting and silly if you decide on it. :o)
My kickboxing class on Saturday better watch out...who KNOWS what kind of crazy stuff I'll have them doing to celebrate my day?!?! ha ha ha ha ha ha Hmmm...that's got me thinking...I need something special to wear...something crazy and funky and totally out-there....hmmm....:o)

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

4th of July pix

On Wednesday night, one of the churches in our little town had a Freedom Celebration that we went to. It's always one of our favorite things to do to celebrate Independence Day. They give out free hotdogs, popcorn, pop and icecream and put on a fantastic fireworks show. They also have a great band on stage singing terrific old and new Christian music along with jupiter jumps and free pony rides for the kids. What fun! This year we talked our friends Dan & Rene into coming and I think they enjoyed it as much as we did!Me and the kids. Brooklyn can never resist putting bunny ears behind Grant's head!My sweetie pie and me!My two little trouble makers (i.e. the loves of my life!) My bestest buddy Rene and me!Fallon(the little girl I babysit) and Brooklyn.

On Thursday night, we went to Grant's baseball team party to celebrate the end of the season (and the beginning of Fall Ball). Here is a pic of his whole team having burgers at the park.And one of my pretty girl swinging in the tire swing!On the "actual" 4th, we built a bonfire and roasted hotdogs and made S'mores. We did set off our little $9.99 family pack of fireworks and then we put up our tent in the back yard and slept in it (until 2:35 am when we all decided to go inside to our beds!)

This is a picture of the most amazing cookie I've ever made. It was such a perfect recipe that I typed it up and took a picture so I could share it with you all. See below for the recipe!

Jen’s BEST cookie EVER

(oatmeal walnut chocolate chunk)


1 cup white flour

¾ cup wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 ¼ c. packed brown sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (not margarine)

¼ c. white granulated sugar

¼ c. Sugar in the Raw

2 eggs

2 Tbsp. milk

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 ½ c. oats

2 squares off of Chocolate Almond Bark, coarsely chopped

1 c. coarsely chopped walnuts (or pecans)

M&M’s for color (optional)


Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.

Beat butter and all 3 sugars in large mixing bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs, milk and vanilla. Gradually add in flour mixture one spoonful at a time. Stir in oats, chocolate chunks and most of the nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Stick the last few nuts (and M&M’s if using them) on the tops of the cookies.

Bake in a preheated 375* oven for 11 or 12 minutes. (Remove from the oven as soon as you start to see browning around the bottom edges). Let stand for a couple of minutes on cookie sheet, then move to wire racks to cool completely. Wash off cookie sheet before using for the next batch.

Makes about 4 dozen, depending on the size of each cookie.

Excess information that you probably don’t need but here it is anyway:

~I preferred the cookies from my Pampered Chef stone rather than the metal cookie sheet.

~I used a food chopper (that I normally use to chop nuts or onions, peppers, etc.) to chop up the almond bark. I suppose you could use chocolate chips just as well…but I didn’t have any. (Some pieces were tiny little chips and some were large-ish chunks.) This turned out SO good, that I will just do it like this from now on.

~You don’t HAVE to use any wheat flour—you could do it all with white flour. I just try to make it a teensy bit healthier by doing it this way.

~You don’t HAVE to use the “Sugar in the Raw” either…you can use just brown sugar and white sugar if you want. I just like the “Sugar in the Raw” to give it an extra little crispy crunch.

~I actually used one bag of regular M&M’s (for the kids) and one back of Peanut M&M’s (for the adults).

Friday, July 02, 2010

Justifying the fun...

Okay girls, this is about to drive me NUTS so I have to get it out. It seems like several of you focused on the COST of doing the fun stuff more than the real reason I was writing...which was to figure out how to deal with the ungratefulness in my kids. If you are creative, you can find ways to do activities that won't interfere with your budget.
All that "fun stuff" that I talked about that we do ALL the time with the kids--is FREE stuff! (or if not free, practically free)
For instance, we are a part of the Kids Bowl Free program at the bowling alley AND we all 4 have bowling shoes, so it literally doesn't cost us a single penny to take them bowling. The movie theater we go to is $.50/person, so that's a $1.50 total (we bring our own snacks. If you remember the post I did about that a while back--well, I made myself get over the guilt of it. I just canNOT afford to buy drinks/popcorn there.) Anytime we eat out, we do it for WAY cheap. I'm talking..WAY. I sign up for coupons constantly. If I have a free kids meal coupon, I'll get one of the kids to split the cheapest menu item with me (usually a burger or sandwhich) and then the other kid gets the kids meal. We can usually get out of there for about $8. Even doing that is a treat because we are on this INSANELY strict and limited Dave Ramsey budget. One of our "out to eat"activities is going to a local church who provides free lunch for children and their mothers. I don't know if it is intended for "low-income" or not..they didn't say...but I definitely take advantage of "free" anything.
We also go to the Library once a week where they have a FREE summer reading program and then enjoy the FREE splash pad right next door.
What I'm trying to say is...my budget for entertainment/activities is about $5 a week. I'm every bit as tight and restricted financially as the rest of you. Every time Matt or I says "we need a new XXX" the other one of us says "add it to The List" because we have this long on-going list hanging on our wall of all the items (big and small) that we can't afford to buy right now. Some of them are just wants and some of them are NEEDS (like new tires on my van because the ones on there are bald and have been deemed "unsafe" by the car dealer where I get my oil changed)...but who has an extra $500 just sitting around?
Anyway, I'm not trying to throw a pity party here...but I just felt misunderstood a bit--as though you guys thought I was going out spending boo-koo's of money doing all this stuff with the kids and it's just NOT like that.

And since we're talking about money here, let me just give an update on how this whole Dave Ramsey budget thing is going...
*We have 4 more payments to my parents for some money they loaned us and then we will be done paying off all our debts (other than the house).
*Our mortgage lady contacted us a couple of weeks ago to see if we might want to refinance the house. The interest rates have gone down significantly and she thought it might save us some money. Uh--YAH! Try $118,000.00. Yep, we ended up refinancing at 4.25% (instead of 6%) and were able to go down to a 15 yr mortgage instead of a 30 year, so now our payments went up by only about $60 but our house will be paid off when I'm 46 (or sooner, by the grace of God!)!! How exciting is that!?! Overall for the life of the loan, we will have saved 118 grand by paying it off in 15 yr instead of 30 yr!! **extra bonus...by doing this re-fi we got to find out what our credit score is. I've never known what our score was...but always wondered. I know we try to do our best with our finances. When she told us that our score was 832 on a scale of 300-850, we were elated! ALLLLL the glory goes to GOD because it is HIM who has provided the money for all of our needs/wants/bills all these years and enabled us to be so blessed! Tithing and giving is such a blessing!
*We have finally finished building up our emergency fund (just the bare minimum). I actually added the last $100 just this morning. I'm trying really hard not to touch it. really hard. really. :) (note to myself: Big Star jean shorts from The Buckle are NOT an emergency! :o)
*The envelope system, while we ARE still using it, is not really "working" for us just yet. I constantly "rob" one envelope to replenish another. I know this is wrong and not the way it is intended to be...but right now while we're still trying to pay off this last debt, we are stretched too thin. I just cannot buy all the groceries/toiletries and necessities we need for our family with only $400 a month...and that is all I had budgeted. So, every month I go ahead and put $15 in this envelope and $10 in that one...and every month I end up going through and taking it all back out to buy more groceries. It's kind of silly not to just quit putting it in there for now...but my goal is to be able to leave that money in those envelopes someday and if I just redirect the funds, I'll possibly forget, plus, I'd love to learn how to make that $400 a month be enough. At least this way, I'm reminded every time I take that money out of those envelopes.
*Our next big financial goal is to start saving up for a new vehicle. (new to us....not new) Since we refinanced our house, we will be getting a fairly large-ish ($1,700) escrow check back. That will be the big kick-start to our saving. Our hope prayer is that we will be able to save up enough to buy a vehicle with cash by next summer.

So there you have it. Through it all one thing is for certain...God always takes care of us. He never lets us struggle past what we can bear. With good stewardship, we are on the road to Financial Freedom! Even though we've had a lot less over the last year than usual (that whole 'living below your means' because we lived 'beyond our means' for so long thing)....I've become happier and less stressed than ever. God does work in mysterious ways! :o)

Thursday, July 01, 2010

pictures coming...

It's been a little while since I've posted any new pictures, so I grabbed my camera and snapped a few fun ones at our town's fireworks festival last night. I'll get them uploaded and on here just as soon as I finish my list of 1, 257, 948 things to do! ;-)

In other news, for those of you who don't read my workout blog, I thought I'd direct your attention over there for the last post I did. It really doesn't have a whole lot to do with exercise...and a lot more to do with my new "way of life". Go check it out if you wanna!

Okay...here I go....I've made my list and I WILL conquer! :o)