Saturday, October 31, 2009

Breaking it Down for Moms #3

Pantry Label Decoder

Organic Junk Food:

Kraft Organic Mac and Cheese

Claims to be USDA organic but the truth is that for an extra 60 cents a box, consumers save 20 calories and 1 gram of fat. They also gain 2 grams of sugar, 1 gram of fiber, 50 mg of sodium and lose 6% of daily iron. The point is, even organic junk food is still junk food. Your body processes organic refined flour and powdered cheese the same way it does conventional, so at the end of the day it's still a high-cal, low-nutrient letdown.

If you must have mac, go for Annie's line of Mac n' Cheese, which cuts the fat by 72% over Kraft Organic

The Vitamin Vacuum:

Kellogg's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pop-Tarts

Claims to be a source of 7 vitamins and minerals. 5 of those 7 vitamins come from the enriched flour that is this product's first ingredient. That's the code word for "refined flour that's had nutrients added to it after it's been stripped of fiber."

The Cereal Conundrum:

Kellogg's Smart Start Cereal

It claims to be "lightly sweetened." Unregulated by the USDA, the word "lightly" gets tossed around like a Frisbee in the food packaging world. Always take it with a grain of salt. Lightly in this cereal means 14 g of sugar from 5 different sources, all of which adds up to a cereal with more added sugars per serving than Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes or Apple Jacks.

What you really want is a cereal with less than 10 g of sugar per serving (ideally less than 5), with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.

The Fat Fake-Out:

Smucker's Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter

Claims to be 25% less fat than regular PB. It's true that Smucker's has removed some of the fat, but they've replaced it with maltodextrin, a carb used as a cheap filler in many processed foods. You're trading the healthy fat from peanuts for empty carbs, to double the sugar, and only saving 10 calories.

What you really want: The real stuff, no fillers, oils, or added sugars. Just peanuts and salt.

Bogus Bread:

Home Pride Wheat Bread

Claims 1 gram of fat per slice. Claims to be wheat bread.

This bread tries to distract you from the fact that each slice has 3x more sugar than fiber. Whatever wheat went into this bread was stripped of all meaningful nutrients. Tere are more than a dozen ingredients listed, many unpronounceable, chemicals, and additives.

What you really want: Ignore fat when it comes to bread. There's rarely enough in a slice to make a big difference. More important, seek out bread with more fiber per slice than sugar and with as few ingredients as possible.

Taken from pages 99-101 in Eat This, Not That, by David Zinczenko

Breaking it Down for Moms #2

Here are some statements I found in the book that made me chuckle:
Croutons-Think of these oil-soaked, enriched flour cubes as salad bar grenades-they'll blow your healthy salad away!
16 pieces of Sour Patch Kids--You would have to run a mile to burn off a small handful of these!
Starbursts--One Starburst serving per day for a year will add 21.5 pounds of body fat
If you must frost your cake, go with whipped frosting
Salsa--the planet's finest condiment
Ragu wins over Prego in nearly every matchup
Bertolli Alfredo Sauce-The fat and calorie glut comes from the heavy mix of cream, cheese, butter, and soybean oil (Choose Classico Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo instead)
Any bread (including Pita bread) that says "white" on it is bound to do a number on your blood sugar.
Even in the flavored varieties you just can't trust Mission's flour tortillas. They're just massive vehicles for refined carbs.
Sara Lee Deluxe Bagels, plain--This giant wad of bleached flour will send a sugar load into your blood-stream so fast that the button might fly right off your jeans!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Breaking it Down for Moms #1

I've been reviewing my library book, Eat This, Not That, an excellent resource on swapping healthier alternatives for foods that are terribly unhealthy. If these posts have interested you, please get the book! It is WELL worth the cost! I'm going to mention some of the swaps that I see, when flipping through the book, that would be most applicable for moms like me. I'll begin with snack foods:

Don't Buy:

Pop-Secret Popcorn
Jolly Time Blast O Butter
Pop-Secret KettleCorn
Newman's Own Pop's Corn, light butter
Kellog's Special K Bliss
Honey Nut Cheerio Bars
NutriGrain Cereal Bars, Raspberry
Nilla Wafers
E.L. Fudge Original
Chips Ahoy Big & Soft
Hunts Snack Pack Pudding
Little Debbies' Fudge Brownies
Laffy Taffy
Hershy's Chocolate Bar
M&Ms Peanuts
Twix PB
Crunch n Munch Caramel Corn
Famous Amos
Ruffles Cheddar & Sour Cream Chips
Nutter Butter
Famous Amos cookies
Rold Gold Sourdough pretzels
Chex Mix Traditional
Quaker's Quakes Rice Snacks, Cheddar Cheese
Ritz Toasted Chips
Natural Cheetos, White cheddar
Wheat Thins, Reduced Fat
Chicken in a Biskit Crackers
Town House Flip Sides
David Sunflower Kernels

Instead, Buy:

Sun chips, original
Baked Doritos
Baked Tostitos Scoops
Garden harvest Toasted Chips
New York Style Pretzel Flatz
TrueNorth Almond Cripsies
Snyders of hanover Sourdough Pretzels
RoldGold Sticks
Cheez-It Party Mix
Cheerio Snack Mix
Goldfish Crackers, original
Ak-Mak 100% Whole of the wheat
TLC 7-Grain crackers
Triscuit original
All-Bran crackers, multi-grain
Carr's Table Water crackers
Newton's Fruit Crips
Mini Chips Ahoy!
David Pumpkin Seeds
Stretch Island Fruit Co. Fruit Leather, Apricot
Orville Redenbacher's Kettle Korn
Orville Redenbacher's Simply Salted
The Original Cracker Jack
Good Health Half Naked with Olive Oil popcorn
Nutri-Grain Fruit and Nut bars
TLC Strawberry Cereal Bars
Quaker Chewy Chocolate Chip granola bars
Fiber One bars
Chips Ahoy Chewy
Ginger Snaps
Oreo Fudgees
Pepperidge Farm Soft Baked Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Kraft Handi-Snacks Pudding (make them your default pudding cup)
Twizzlers Pull n' Peel
LifeSaver Gummies
Red Hots
Jelly Bellies
Reese's PB cups
Hershey's 60 calorie sticks
Lindt 85% cocoa Extra Dark Chocolate
Hershey's Take 5
100 Grand

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Trans-Fattiest Foods in the Supermarket

10. Pillsbury White Chunk Macademia Nut Big Deluxe Classics
9. Pasta Roni Fettuccine Alfredo
8. Jimmy Dean Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Croissant Sandwich
7. Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (when made with margarine)
6. Pillsbury Perfect Portions Buttermilk Biscuits
5. Austin Cheese Crackers with Cheddar Jack Cheese
4. Pillsbury Grands! Flaky Supreme Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls with Icing
3. Celeste Original Pizza for One
2. Pop-Secret Kettle Corn
1. Drake's Cherry Fruit--The transfattiest food in the supermarket! 8 grams!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Eat This Not That--Continued

Worst Cereal: Quaker 100% Natural Granola, Oats, Honey & Raisins. (For the same amount of sugar you could have a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles more than twice the size and you'd get more fiber and save 60 calories in fat. It's the calorie equiv of eating 8 chicken wings)

Eat Instead:


Worst Packaged Side: Pasta Roni Fettuccine Alfredo (sodium equiv of 4 medium orders of McD's french fries. Eaten as a meal, expect this to top 1,000 calories, as a side dish, it still has enough calories to be a whole meal!)

Eat Instead: Pasta Roni Nature's Way Olive Oil and Italian Herb


Worst Baked Good:
Otis Spunkmeyer Banana Nut Muffins

Eat Instead: Vitalicious Apple Berry Muffin


Worst Frozen Treat: Toll House Ice Cream Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich (If you're going to take in this much fat and calories in one sitting, it better be for dinner! Calorie equiv of two slices of pepperoni pizza at Pizza Hut.)

Eat Instead: Skinny Cow Low Fat Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich


Worst Individual Snack: Hostess Chocolate Pudding Pie (In additon to the nasty ingredient list that should invoke your gag reflex, this has the saturated fat content of 2 McDonald's Quarter Pounders)

Eat Instead: Chocolately Drizzle Rice Krispies Treat


Worst Stir Fry: Bertolli Grilled Chicken Alfredo & Fettuccine Complete Skillet Meal for Two (saturated fat content, per serving, equal to 22 strips of bacon)

Eat Instead: Birds Eye Steamfresh Meals for Two Grilled Chicken in Roasted Garlic Sauce


Worst Frozen Pizza: DiGiorno for One GArlic Bread Crust Supreme Pizza (calorie equiv of 6 slices of Dominos Thin N Crispy Cheese Pizza

Eat Instead: South Beach Diet Deluxe Pizza


Worst Frozen Entree: Hungry-Man Classic Fried Chicken (calorie equiv of 5 Krispy Kreme Glazed Donuts)

Eat Instead: Banquet Select Chicken Parmesan


Worst Packaged Food in America: Marie Callender's Creamy Parmesan Chicken Pot Pie
(sodium equiv of 8 small bags of potato chips, fat equiv of 23 strips of bacon, calorie equiv of 7 Taco Bell Fresco Beef Tacos)

Eat Instead: Marie Callender's Oven Baked Chicken

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Eat This Not That

I have been greatly enjoying my library book called Eat This, Not That by David Zinczenko. I enjoy reading about nutrition and was very suprised by this book! Many of the foods I buy were reviewed here. It's not only a book that compares the pricey or unhealthy stuff, but also gives a review of veggies, organic foods, meats, dairy, frozen foods, etc.

I highly recommend you get it through inter-library loan or purchase it if possible! It's a handy tool to have around when it comes to losing weight, maintaining weight, or just plain being healthy!

For the sake of brevity, I'm not going to type out all the explanations of each item. But I will list them and you can look at more of the whys in the book. The book lists other nutritional info on the foods, and also on the foods they recommend you eat instead.


Worst Crunch Snack:
Gardetto's Special Request Roasted Garlic Rye Chips (fat equivalent of 3 strips of bacon per serving) Exceeds the amount of trans fat safe to consume daily by the American heart Association

Eat Instead: Snyder's of Hanover Sourdough Nibblers


Worst Cookie:
Pillsbury Big Deluxe Classics White Chunk Macadamian Nut

Eat Instead: Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough


Worst Yogurt: Stonyfield Farm Whole Milk Chocolate Underground
Stonyfield is notorious for being a little too generous with the sugar, but the nearly 3 T. in this is bad even by their standards. Not even Ben & Jerry's makes a flavor of ice cream with this much sugar.

Eat Instead: Breyer's Cookies n' Cream YoCrunch Lowfat with Oreo Pieces


Worst Candy:
Twix (Has the same amount of saturated fat as 11 strips of bacon!!!!!!!!!!)

Eat Instead: 100 Grand


Worst Ice-Cream: Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Peanut Butter (fat equivalent of a McDonald's Double Cheeseburger)

Eat Instead: Edy's Slow Churned Peanut Butter Cup


Worst Condiment: Eggo Original Syrup (sugar equivalent of 2 Haagen Dazs ice cream bars. First 3 ingredients after water are various forms of sugar).

Eat Instead: 100% maple syrup or Smucker's Sugar Free Breakfast Syrup


Worst Drink:
AriZona Kiwi Strawberry
(Only 5% is actually any sort of real-fruit derivative. 95% high fructose corn syrup and water with the sugar equiv of 4 original fudgsicle bars)

Drink Instead:
Tropicana Lime Raspberry Fruit Squeeze

Worst "Healthy" Pantry Item: Pop-Tarts Whole Grain Brown Sugar Cinnamon
A glut of vegetable oil and 7 types of sugar stuffed inside
Sugar equiv of a snicker's bar in 2 pastries.

Eat Instead: Sun-Maid Rasisin English Muffins with cinnamon


Worst Frozen "Healthy" Entree: Healthy Choice Complete Selections Sweet & Sour Chicken (sugar equiv of 2 scoops of Breyers Reese's PB ice-cream)

Eat Instead: Kashi Southwest Style Chicken


Continued tomorrow........

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Centerpiece for Fall

GirlTalk recently had a post reminding us of the beauty of centerpieces and encouraging us to vary them to add beauty to our homes. It was a good reminder for me, as I can get so busy just keeping food on the table that I forget to add beauty to my family's life. These little pumpkins and gourds from the pumpkin patch were around 25 cents each and add some fall color to our table. I've also been using bowls of pears and apples (which have been on excellent sales) to add some natural beauty to our kitchen. I hunted at the thrift store and found a glass carafe that is perfect for both serving drinks and holding leaves or flowers.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cooking/Baking Night!

As I mentioned in my last post, my kiddoes seem to eat non-stop! It can be a MAJOR challenge to keep food in the house, even though I feel like I shop a few times a week. What's a mom to do? Fight the hunger war by bulk cooking and baking! I've been interested in bulk cooking since I read all of my mom's books on the subject when I was a young teen, and have often done it, but have never NEEDED to do it so much as now. We're on a budget, have 3 kids who eat a LOT, and homeschool. Because of these things, I have to get creative about keeping my kids fed while staying frugal and having limited time to get it all done. I decided to spend a few hours on Monday night doing some bulk cooking. So glad I got this huge bowl (that came with a lid) at a yard sale this summer for a quarter. It was the only thing big enough to hold 12 C. of flour as well as many other ingredients when I made a double batch of cinnamon graham squares!
We always seem to be out of bread! I'm looking to buy some double-size loaf pans so I can make two HUGE loaves at a time. I would estimate that our family could go through 4-5 loaves a week.

Tilamook cheese was recently on sale for only $2 a pound! That's the best deal on cheese of any brand in our town! I really stocked up on it! I used the older model food processor a lady at church gave me to shred this 2 # loaf and bag it up to use in meals this week.

The results!
1 bowl and 2 jars of fresh salsa from garden tomatoes given to me by my mom
4 loaves of Money Saving Mom's wheat bread (Been making this recipe for 3 years and love it! Didn't use the bread machine this night because of doing the recipe x4, but I often do use it with this recipe!)
4 pans of Tammy's Whole Wheat Cinnamon Graham Squares for snacks (If they look darker it's because I couldn't resist tweaking the recipe to make them a chocolate version of her recipe! Added some cocoa, a little extra sugar, and some chocolate chips! Yummy!)
2# of dried black beans got cooked up to freeze and use in Black Bean soup this week
2 # of brown rice got cooked up to freeze and use in Plowman's Share.
The bowl of macaroni and cheese and the bowl of veggies were part of our supper. I doubled the batches so that we would have lunch for the following day and also vegetables to add with rice, cheese, and elk roast for Plowman's Share, one of our family's favorite meals.
I started soaking the beans in the morning and left them all day. My cooking "night" began at 5 pm as I was making supper. I got the bread dough made and put it on the stovetop to rise, began cooking the beans and made a double batch of supper. I took my finish pic at 8:30 pm. Granted, I had to bag up the bread and squares after taking this pic, but during the 3.5 hours of doing this baking night I also dealt with kid's needs, served and ate supper, and cleaned up. So, it really didn't take longer than a few hours, even with bagging it all up and sticking things in the freezer. This was my first bulk-cooking event where I had a dishwasher and it made all the difference in the world! I merely had to run an extra load the morning after and clean-up was a snap!
Since we already had lots of roast elk leftovers (thanks to my super sweet brother Colter who got an elk and gave half of it to us) in the fridge, I used the rice and shredded cheese and veggies to throw together two pans of Plowman's Share the next morning and we took one to a family dinner and used the other pan for a couple of meals this week. Having the shredded cheese on hand sure has been handy for several meals this week.
My brother enjoyed the homemade bread I took to a family dinner so I ended up giving him a loaf. That's one of the joys of bulk cooking, you have things on hand to share! I also had a Ladies Craft Night to attend on Tuesday night so I was able to bring some of the graham squares as my contribution. Getting it all done at once sure made this week a lot easier for me. Though my house looked like a tornado for a while (dirty dishes, kids running around tearing up the place while Daddy watched them as I cooked), it has been much easier to maintain this week as I have less prep time for meals.
Bulk cooking is a tool I plan to continue to use often in my attempt to combat the hunger war here at home!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How Much Do Your Kids Eat?

Sometimes I wonder if other people's kids eat as much as mine do. Mine seem to be eating all the time (3 meals, 2 regularly scheduled snacks). My experiment with shopping every two weeks flopped. I seem to be in the stores more than ever and I'm getting tired of it but the fridge still seems perpetually empty! I realize that moms of teens out there are probably chuckling at me and thinking, "Just wait 10 years and then you'll really feel like your kids are eating you out of house and home!" But, even though my kids are little, they sure do keep me constantly busy buying, preparing, and serving food! I suppose it doesn't help that my hubby has the world's fastest metabolism either and works a very physically strenuous job!

Would you leave a comment and tell me what your kids eat in an average day? Just so I can see if my kids are normal or extra-big-eaters?

In an average day, here's what my kiddoes put away (the 3 of them combined)


3 Cups of cereal topped with milk

3 C. of milk

10 a.m. Snack:

6 boiled eggs
3 slices of cheese
1 C. raisins
2 C. juice


4 whole PB and J sandwiches
2 Peaches
1/2 C. yogurt

3 p.m. Snack:

Justus loves to eat a whole, large garden tomato for snack in addition to other things! The other kids won't eat tomatoes!

2.5 C. goldfish crackers
1-2 Apples, sliced up
3 C. milk


2 baked potatoes
4 oz. chicken
1 c. brocolli
1 C. milk
3 C. juice + 3 C. water mixed together
3 brownies (although they'd eat more if I allowed them to!)

Whaddya think? Can our kids out-eat yours?

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Glimpse of Jesus in Today's World

There are some incredible men in our town who are being Jesus to the kids around them. Two of my dad's good friends formed a ministry that reaches out to boys without dads. It's called Fathers in the Field.

One guy involved in this ministry in our town is a hard-working local businessman and volunteers his time to mentor a young boy each week. The boy he mentors is very poor, doesn't have a dad, and has a difficult life. However, thanks to this businessman, he has a wise "father figure" in his life who regularly takes time to go on adventures with him, a new camoflauge coat to keep him warm this winter, and a Christian education (that's right, his Father in the Field guy pays his tuition so he can go to the Christian school.) This guy doesn't broadcast his good deeds, but I found out about his generosity quietly (it's a small town) and was so touched. With all the bad news out there these days, here is some good news! There are many men in our town involved with this ministry and it is growing into a national ministry. At the website there is even a video of one guy from our town, the main founder, being interviewed on TBN about Fathers in the Field.

Check out this website to find out more about Fathers in the Field. If you are an empty-nester man who wants to make a difference for the Lord and you enjoy the great outdoors, this may be a ministry God is calling you to work with. If you want to get your congregation turned on to this incredible ministry, find out on the site how you can get someone to come to your church and train your men to mentor fatherless boys.

I wasn't asked by anyone to post this, but I feel compelled to do so because it is such a God-glorifying thing that is taking place for hurting kids!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Vacation Pics #1

Since I didn't get around to posting a lot of vacation photos this summer, I thought I would share them now. These are pics from a little camping trip the kids and I did with my mom, brother Colter, and his wife Anna in July.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Facebook Friend

For any of you whom are not yet a friend on facebook, but would like to, e-mail me your info at heyalethia (at) hotmail


Friday, October 9, 2009

Tackling Emotional Debt

Today I'm tackling my emotional debt hardcore after a busy couple of weeks where it got mostly ignored. What is emotional debt? Well, I'm sure there are different ideas of what it is, but when I refer to it, I'm simply talking about the obligations that are hanging over my head that I need to get done, which aren't neccessarily high-pressure things. When you have financial debt, there is a lot of pressure from bill collectors to pay up....or else! My emotional debt doesn't involve a lot of external pressure (except for getting bills paid on time) but rather internal pressure from myself.

What is on my emotional debt list? I'll give you a recent glimpse from my list:

Thank-You Notes (I had 6 people listed)

Packages to mail

Need to send gifts to 4 couples we know who recently got married

Get some paperwork filled out and mailed

Pray for Samaritan Ministries folks from the Sep. booklet (Samaritan Ministries is a health-insurance alternative we belong to)

Prayer for people we promised to pray for

Get a tape of my Bible verse song made for my Aunt Joanie

Invite a new friend to a playdate

Give books back to gal I borrowed them from months ago

Send photos of our kids to my sis-in-law (she makes a calendar each year for the grandparents)

Send Hannah (in prison--see sidebar) a card of encouragement

Make a sick friend a meal

Some months there are more things than others. Sometimes I'm caught up, but not for long! There is always plenty to do!

Why do I have an emotional debt list vs. just putting these items on a daily to-do list? Because for me, having one master list for the month makes it simpler and I can look it over, check off the item when it's done, and get to the others as I am able throughout the month. Lately, I have been so busy following a homeschooling schedule and routine that I don't usually use my home management binder daily to write homemaking to-do lists in. My previous practices of the daily index cards or the daily checklist have helped me to get into good habits so I no longer find a to-do list really necessary unless it is a very big day with lots of extra chores to do, or a party to plan or big shopping trip, etc. We write Church events or medical appointments on our wall calendar. Find out what works for you and use it!

While obligations hanging over our heads can weigh us down, I want to emphasize that many of the things on the list are blessings. It is a blessing to send cards of encouragement to others and pray for Christians who are sick or suffering. If God lays someone on my heart, jotting it down on this list is preferrable to having niggling thoughts in the back of my head ("I should do this..." or "I need to encourage that person..."). It is a blessing to make or purchase gifts for others. It is a blessing to serve and minister to others on behalf of the Lord. However, as moms, with lots on our plates, it can feel overwhelming if we let it all pile up or try to remember it without writing it down. This is where the handy list comes in. If you aren't comfortable calling your list "An Emotional Debt" list you could find another creative name.

1. Make your list. Write down everything that is cluttering up your brain that you need to do outside of home chores and child-rearing.

2. Prayerfully go over it and consider your daily priorities. How can you take care of your emotional debt bit by bit without sacrificing those priorities?

3. Think about how you can tackle it. Could some of your thank-yous be done more quickly through a heartfelt e-mail? Is there a great book on marriage you could order in bulk and give to the 4 couples you know getting married? Can you save time on the meal you are taking someone by buying french bread and ice-cream instead of making bread and brownies?
Financially, you can get out of debt little by little or tackle it all at once, or do some of both. I try to tackle my emotional debt a little each day, but if it builds up because life hasn't allowed me to work on it, then I do a "debt-snowball" and spend a few hours hitting it hard!

4. Tackle the time-sensitive stuff first. Back when I was dealing with all of the paperwork for my husband's broken wrist, there were all kinds of things on my emotional debt lists regarding forms to fill out, phone calls to hospital billing agencies, etc. Obviously, this kind of stuff is more important than sending thank-you notes promptly. Due to the volume of weddings we were invited to this year we post-poned giving gifts to some of the couples and I plan to surprise the happy couples later on with a card and a small, but sweet, gift. Better late than never, right? =)

5. Be proactive about avoiding too many obligations. This point hits home for me! As a firstborn whose parents were very strict and required a ton out of me (and still do) I have to continually remind myself to utelize these phrases, "Let me pray about it," "No." and "I need to discuss it with my husband." Many times, I have to step back and tell myself no concerning things that I would love to do. I love to sew and want to sew a pretty apron for every one of my friends, my internet and blogging buddies, and all the ladies at church going through a rough time. But can I physically do this when I have only 3-4 kid-free hours in a day? No! These unrealistic ideas must be forgotten. I often expect more out of myself than I should . I have mentioned before that as a stay-at-home mom everyone wants a piece of your time, so you have to fight tooth and nail, sometimes fighting yourself hardest of all, to save time for your main priorities, God, husband, and kids. Thinking before you speak and weighing your options carefully and prayerfully will go a long way towards helping you avoid emotional debt that you could have avoided in the first place. Some examples of this: telling church committees that you only wish to serve in one ministry at a time, telling your kids they may not trade toys with a playmate since it's more work for you to keep track of the borrowed toy (and return it), checking your calendar BEFORE saying yes to a playdate or event, choosing a simple generic gift for extended family for Christmas (the same book, photo calendar, tin of chex mix, etc.)

I'd love to hear what some of you ladies out there are doing to tackle and stay on top of your own emotional debt (or obligations)! Please share!

Photo: Flowers from my hubby at the end of a long week (last week).

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pretty Things

Hard to see from the pics, but there are embroidered flowers all over this skirt in a variety of colors.

I tried this skirt on 7 months ago when I was looking for some fun things to update my wardrobe. I hardly ever go in the clothing boutique where it was because it's so pricey but they do have some great clearance items. Even at half off, it was more than I wanted to pay, $32.50, and I had lots of other ideas for how to spend my birthday cash.

When Ali and I had a mother/daughter date this weekend, we decided to pop into the store since they were advertising a one-day-only 85% off sale. I was DELIGHTED to see this lovely skirt still there, the only one left, in MY SIZE (what a rarity!), marked 85% off! Because the $65 skirt was now less than $10, I happily purchased it, as well as another beautiful, black long skirt with black cotton eyelet trim for $5.70 marked down from $38.

Nice gifts from God that I'm thankful for today!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Great Read

I've mentioned before that my new favorite blog is Holy Experience. Every day, her posts seem to hit me right where I need it, encouraging me to keep my focus on the Lord. This post was especially meaningful to me as a mom, talking about all the "unseen" work we do and how we often crave recognition for it, or place too high of an importance on doing the things that can be seen by others.

All of you weary moms facing a disaster-area home on this Monday afternoon should read it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Breathing Solace

This day will go down in history as one of the worst days of my life turned wonderful. Today I cried like I have never cried before. Wailed would be a more accurate description. My day began with the same old heavy feeling I've felt all week. Though I received much encouragement from friends in the last week, heard verses of encouragement continually, prayed constantly, and "knew" with my head knowledge that it would all work out, God's presence seemed very distant. I kept begging Him to be close, my theme verse being, "The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

I just couldn't feel Him. We began the day still basically homeless with the thought that we would soon be living in a camper in my parent's pasture or in someone's basement, our closest friends left for Kansas, and I had to take Jeremiah to the doctor for a nasty red lesion on his leg that looked majorly infected. Alathia was very naughty, hurting her brothers all day long causing the loss of many of her favorite priviledges and getting many consequences. About the time she informed me that Jer had had an accident on their bedroom rug, I noticed for the first time that she had snuck a pink marker into her room the day before and had decorated a 6-foot section of wall, her sheet, and her legs with pink. So that explains why Jer's face was pink yesterday too! I thought he had done it while they were coloring at the table. After getting out our carpet shampooer and cleaning up the wet mess, I did many loads of laundry while trying to keep track of Justus who is always pulling everything off my pantry shelves or digging in the trash. Today was no exception as someone left the bathroom door open again and of course he was splashing in his brother's potty chair. Ick! Next, I tried to clean up the saltine cracker disaster they had made in the kitchen. A while later, I discovered Jeremiah had not taken a nap at all, but had put his swimming trunks on, taking his nap-time diaper off in the process, and had pooped in his swimming trunks. What's worse is that he didn't tell me about it and tried to wipe himself and clean up, which resulted in poo on the bathroom floor, the crib, etc. I put him in the bathtub for his second bath of the day. He's been doing great with potty-training recently but today was definitely an off-day. As I cleaned up poo I absolutely lost it! It's not even PMS week either!

I wailed hysterically, probably scaring my kids into thinking that poopy messes make their Mama crazy! I felt like I had hit rock bottom and could absolutely not handle one more thing. I know there are many folks out there with much worse problems, but with everything going on, I felt completely crushed and weary. I begged God to help me get through the day. I pleaded with everything in me and told Him I couldn't handle it. That it was too much! Anguish.

After cleaning up the mess we drove to the pharmacy to get his prescription for his bump. Everywhere I drove in town reminded me of places we had gone and things we had done with our friends who are now gone, bringing many tears. Back at home I then served the world's most unhealthy supper. Ramen noodles with white hot dog buns with cheese on them (leftovers from the Youth Group's hot dog night). Don't forget saltine crackers too. No kool-aid or twinkies though. After supper Josiah went to pay our rent and talk to the landlord about when we would need to be out.

When he returned, there was peace. Twenty thousand pounds. That's how much lighter I felt when he reported that Paul had decided to wait until April or May to raise the house. He had realized how limited our options were and decided to give us a break. He even offered us first dibs on buying this house when the foundation is done.




Tears of joy.


As I headed to the public library to read my new Homeschooling magazine and soak in some quiet and thankfulness this evening, I felt like a soldier returning from a battle. The exhaustion of the day lingered but a joyful shakiness welled up inside. Looking up at the denim-blue night sky I saw one twinkling star. Nightime stars have always seemed like valentines from God to me. I felt Him whisper, "I was here." Even when I couldn't feel Him. Even when He seemed to be silent while we struggled, even while I wept, even while door after door was closed. He knows what He's doing and what He has planned.

Though I may not understand this side of Heaven exactly why hard times are allowed to come, I do know that they build endurance. Sometimes broken-hearted is the best place to be if it makes you pray as you've never prayed before. The Word becomes life to you. You find out who your friends are. You get to see the kindness and generosity of those around you extended in so many ways. You get to be a showcase for God's awesome power before unbelieving friends and relatives. You become more thankful for the basics, and are reminded not to take them for granted. Life becomes much simpler. You are humbled by your desperation and need for God and for others. Your kids learn that God does answer prayer. You can better empathize with those who are truly suffering and have much worse problems than you.

I do wonder if this is part of God's plan to get us into home ownership. Our town has impossible prices (three times higher than homes in my husband's hometown), and because we are cautious and saving slowly due to a low income we may have never started looking at real estate without this trial. But because of viewing lots of fixer-uppers these last two weeks we have gotten a taste for what we are looking for and what we can afford and my hubby is prayerfully considering a project that might bring about a home for us. If it works out, we could work on it while living here until the spring, but if it doesn't, at least we have 6 months to "house-shop" and won't be pushed into buying a junky home we really don't like out of desperation. Was all of this part of God's way of answering my recent prayers for a home of our own? Maybe! Someday we'll know for sure.

The ache of friends gone is still very real, but I know we will stay long-distance friends and that God is our comfort in this loss. He has not left us without friends. This difficult time has made my church family that much more precious to me.

So, we're breathing much easier tonight. Tomorrow will be a day of joy and praising God for the home we have to live in for the next 6 months. Saturday I will unpack boxes and take Ali on a mother-daughter date to spend time with her as her behavior has been showing she is feeling the strain of these last two weeks. Monday we will be back to homeschooling (hurray, we've missed it!) after a very chaotic week and a half off.

For those of you who prayed, offered basements or campers, called with real estate tips, or encouraged me in some small way, thank you. It meant so much to us. It was amazing to me how my brothers sought to help me too in whatever ways they could. Wow!

If there is anyone out there experiencing a trial, big or small, that's got you flat on the floor, would you please let me know so I can pray for you? Also, this sermon really blessed me the other day if you want to listen to it. It's called, "When My Heart is Overwhelmed."
Pin It
Pin It
Pin It