Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Giving

Shortly after waking up to feed the littlest this morning those feelings of...

~I deserve ____
~I need ____
~I want ____

... flooded me. I quickly felt overwhelmed, anxious, angry, and hopeless.

But, then, the Holy Spirit bought the words from "You Gave Your Life Away" from Paul Baloche & Kathryn Scott to mind.

The chorus goes,

You gave, You gave Your life away
You gave, You gave Your life away
You gave, You gave Your life away for me
Your grace has broken every chain
My sins are gone, my debt's been paid
You gave, You gave Your life away for me
For me

Life is HARD. Why am I so quick to forget that?!?! I read in Matthew 7:14,

"For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

Yep. Life IS hard but He gave His life away for me. That is motivation enough for me to fight and persevere in my faith. He is more than worthy of all I have to offer.

Today I am focusing on remembering what HE did and how I am privileged to give my life away in the ways He has provided. Let's get real. My trials don't even begin to compare with the hardship MANY others face day after day.

How are you giving your life away today?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Buzz and Curls

Saraina, Paloma and I came home on Saturday afternoon after a fun girltime at a friend's birthday party to see the boys like this...

(Note: I am sure I'll get some comments on how one or both boys look like their Daddy so for the record, I don't think our kids look like us at all! The kiddos resemble each other to me but still have such distinct looks. That said, Kadin had his Papa's head and hairline.)

So the boys are buzzed and the girls are keeping their curls...



Friday, August 22, 2008

Something Worth Reading

From a friend's blog I checked out Ann Voskamp's blog and was greatly affected by her post, "Welded Rest." If you've got a moment to spare and you're needing a reminder of how great the Father's love is for you, read it!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Working the Deals

William and I snuck out to Walgreens and Target so I could work some deals. (Pause. Aunt B! Thanks for letting us sneak out!) These are our freebies...





Yes! Couponing COMPLETELY works! In fact, it's really AMAZING that you can actually get things for FREE!!!! Yippeee!!!! Wait. We are actually MAKING money from these items! The Johnson's Buddies soap earned was $0.94 and I used my $1 off coupon making it FREE. The All (only 2 oz) was $0.99 and I used another $1 off coupon making that FREE. And the Pert was $3.79 but has a rebate of $3.79. Oh, and since I used my $2 off coupon it was actually FREE plus overage! Hee hee!!!


Side note. William's not 100% sold. He wants us to go back to Target to work this sweet deal of buying five 12-packs of soda for $15 and use five-$1 off coupons. AND this one transaction earns you a $5 gift card to Target making each 12-pack of soda only cost $1 (after coupons and gift card)!!!!! We'll have to see if the Lord provides time for us to swing back to Target before the sale ends! William's so excited about trying this that I think he going to MAKE time for it!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Saving Cashola

Just to share how things are going with my couponing/saving $$ plans...

1 - I can see how couponing has become a bit of an idol. I'm in need of accountability (good thing I meet with Bethany tonight!) because I can seriously get obsessed with checking all my sources for the best deal. That said, the Lord has blessed my efforts. I have a stash of coupons and am learning how to "play the game." In fact, I can completely see how you can get things you need for FREE (or almost free). Amazing! (By the way, if you don't use coupons and would like to share the ones you have, let me know!!!)

2 - My menu planning is also starting to pay off. I NEVER believed in menu planning to save money but... WOW! When I simply use what I have in our pantry or freezer/fridge I am SAVING money! I am still struggling with actually sitting down to do it but once I do make my plan, it makes things a lot easier! Last night we had Curry Codfish, my version of what my Jamaican Grandma makes. My version had flavor and some kick to it but didn't compare to what I recall hers tasting like. I would not have prepared this had I not put it on my menu plan! (Note: Jenny, I may be emailing you for meal ideas!)

3 - Baking bread is a joy, a money saver, and good for us to eat! In fact, I just got a small box of vital wheat gluten and ground flaxseed to experiment with and... WOW!!!! My loaves yesterday came out even better than my previous ones. I made one wheat loaf and one wheat and oat loaf which were delicious (and beautiful). Eating homemade bread with dinner makes the meal stretch AND our eating is packed with stuff that's good for you! (I even put the ground flaxseed in our oatmeal and William didn't think anything of it!)

4 - My weekly spending has been below my budget goal simply because I'm realizing that HOARDING IS IDOLATRY. I read that in The Cost of Discipleship and was great affected by it. What a blessing it is only going week by week instead of me trying to buy all I need for the month. When I look at our food stock and say, "What do we need for this week only?" I find I am purchasing MUCH, MUCH less. And we certainly are not going hungry! (Judi, can you believe we're going to (probably!) cancel our Costco membership!?!? Bet you never thought you'd see that day!)

So, here's what I'd like to leave you with today. It's a quote from The Cost of Discipleship which I'm trying to remember throughout my day as I ask myself, "What am I really devoted to in this moment?"

"Earthly goods are given to be used, not collected. In the wilderness God gave manna every day, and they had no need to worry about food or drink. Indeed, if they kept any manna over until the next day, it went bad. In the same way, the disciple must receive his portion from God every day. If he stores it up as a permanent possession, he spoils not only the gift, but himself as well, for he sets his heart on his accumulated wealth, and it makes it a barrier between himself and God. Where our treasure is, there is our trust, our security, our consolation and our God. Hoarding is idolatry."

Grace to you all!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pathetic Mama Blogger

Clearly I'm not out to win any blogging awards but I am bummed I have not been better at updating this (or our Hearts of Graditude) blog. I've got a ever-growing list of entries I've begun which end up being so outdated I simply delete them.

What's a Mama blogger to do? Make a change, of course. I'm going for SIMPLICITY. My goal is to share ONE tidbit as often as I can and save those lengthy update blogs for monthly. Or so I say this evening!

Shall I begin? Here's my new entry...


Lately I've been seeing this face a lot...


The dude is super at sticking out his bottom lip, pouting, and showing the world his displeasure.

But, wait! Here's the look that really gets me going...

I can almost see her at two years old doing the same thing (but not letting out gas!).

Moments like the ones captured in these shots are gifts from the Lord to help me remember just how good it is to be loved by Him.

Oh no. I've already messed up my new blog thing. I shared TWO tidbits. Oh well!

Friday, August 08, 2008

A (not-so brief) Update (take two!)

Blogging is tough to do lately. But it has helped me so much in remembering significant (and not-so significant) things that have happened in our lives. I have gone through my blogistry trying to find out just what transpired in the not-so distant past and have had my faith freshly revived many times. So, here's a (not-so brief) update probably more for my benefit than yours! And for those who are just looking for pics, God-willing, this weekend!


Papa Whitney:


-his bday is approaching (8/9) and he'll be the big 3-3!
-enjoying being a daddy of four though he often says, "Hey. Is it me or am I driving the short bus sometimes?"


-he's been maintaining our old house, inside and out, and keeping up with the many demands (water leaking into our office for the 2nd time, putting in ceiling fans, buying a new window for one of the back room windows, constant yard work, and much, much more


-encouraging me in my new role of "mama of four" and making fun of my "new" interests (namely playing the coupon / grocery game - possibly another blog entry no time to write!)


-very busy at work, yet he says often (this week, in fact) that if he didn't work there he'd miss his co-workers. (Nothing different there! He still misses peeps down at V-guard in MD. He's such a softie!)


-has gone to the chiropractor for a consultation and (dare I say) is thinking there is something really valid with their approach! (We found out that Papa is crooked! Literally, one shoulder blade and hip are higher than the other ones!)



Mama Whitney:
- grateful to be this side of the pregnancy as it is so sweet holding, smelling, and caring for our sweet Paloma Joy

- learning the tricks to CVSing

- excited about homemaking. Yes, you heard me right! I'm growing and seeing the importance of homeMAKING versus just homeMANAGING. (See THIS post to see what I used to think about homemaking!) That said, I don't have any taste, $$, or energy to devote to that area! So I have no iea what I'm really excited about.

- trying to menu plan (and STICK to it) as well as lower our grocery bill. For a bit of accountability I'll share with you out there my goal. I'm trying to lower my spending by ~$10/week (really $45/month). Minor step which could have a significant outcome. I'll let you know how I do.

J-Dub:

- is such an oldest child! He is a wonderful big bro to PJW. He likes putting her pacifier in her mouth, often tells me whether she is hungry or wants a particular toy, and just wants to hold and kiss her.

- continues to need "warm-up time" when around anyone who does not live with us.

- has an exceptional memory! I always get a kick when he says, "I remember when..."

- asks millions of questions and is oddly attracted to basement, attics, and pipes. It must be a boy thing.



Saraina-bug:

- All girl, loves dolls, purses, and playing dress up

-reads constantly

-can entertain herself for hours

- has no desire to wear undies or a pull-up

Kadin the Manimal (as in man-animal):

- LOVES kissing on PJW. He is constantly saying, "Baybee! Baybee" and then kissing all over her with his wet kisses. He is enjoying being a big brother and loves doing whatever he can for her.

- is the most affectionate yet dangerous child!



Paloma Joy:

-4 weeks old (will be one month on Saturday, 8/9, her Daddy's 33rd bday) already

- Rolled over 2 weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon after Daddy put her on her belly for a nap. All at the ripe age of 19 days old! I was stunned. Sweet P (my new nickname for her) is a strong gal. She has rolled over probably 3 more times since then.

- Has taken to a schedule without much fuss. Okay, she fusses when I try to keep her awake. The girl would seriously sleep ALL day... still. I realized last weekend that if I wanted to survive, I NEEDED a schedule as the big kiddos need me too!

Other special news to share:

AND... a big shout out and (late) welcome to Bethany, aka Aunt B, who moved in on Saturday! We have not had time to really tell peeps about this. Here's the very short version. She's a friend from church and care group who is desiring to bless and serve our fam as we hope to bless and serve her by having her stay with us for this coming year. We are off to a great start! Bethany has her own blog that you are most welcome to check out HERE.

Some of the things the Lord has provided for us and Bethany are:

- Bethany and I can meet regularly for accountabilty and to pray for one another. And this, friends, is HUGE! Nothing like another set of eyes and ears in addition to someone else asking you the hard things to help you grow in your walk with the Lord!

- William and I get out once a week for a date night (never imagined this being possible till the kiddos were of age to stay home alone) and Bethany will babysit for us. It's cute how the kiddos already adore her and ALWAYS ask about her. Joshua, in particular, is very concerned about whether or not she has eaten or will be hungry!

- Bethany is excited to clean this old, filthy house! You have no idea how dirty our kitchen floor is! Well, perhaps I should say how dirty is USED to be. Bethany's mopping as I write this!

- Bethany currently teaches ESL to refugees and speaks fluent Spanish and will teach me Spanish! Yes, I've got a year to learn Spanish. I'm trusting God to extend much grace!

- The ultimate goal of Bethany living with us (as we see it, at least) is to allow her to get back on the mission field as soon as possible. (She spent an extended period of time living in Columbia working with kids living on the streets.) Living with us will save her money and help her get back to where she believes the Lord is calling her. It's neat when we see that we are actually supporting a missionary!

Well, that's it for now!