Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Beans and Rice and Rice and Beans

We did it. For three days we ate rice and beans. I learned a lot during those three days. I discovered new ways to cook beans. I made my first lentil soup. My horizon was broadened and I realized ways I could cook much cheaper. And just when the kids had complained and cried and said "beans, again?!" almost creating a starvation riot, I set up a beans taste test and they ended up laughing and eating and having so much fun! The spiritual lessons were deeply written in my heart. Discipline, perseverance, staying the course in the midst of complaints and tears, emotions. I felt more that week than I have in a while. I would picture moms cooking for their kids, only having rice and beans and muttering words of thanks that they would get to eat that day, moms holding their starving kids while they wondered if they would make it through the time of hardship, and babies crying because they have no food. It makes our hard times seem not really hard at all.
But... I felt like we cheated. There were a few pieces of fruit around the house, I still had the luxury of coffee every day (and my mom even dropped off some special cream), we went out to celebrate my daughter's birthday, I added special things like onions and carrots and garlic to the soups, and we did make cookies one day for a friend. Even though the kids might have thought they were going to, no one starved. There was an abundance of food.
We grasped the reality of how many people in the World eat so much simpler than we do. In the rest of the world, they would not even think about waisting a single bite of their beans. They do not have luxuries like carrots, onions, and garlic, much less fruit, cookies and cream for coffee. There are still thousands upon thousands that die each day from hunger.
We prayed. I know those prayers sounded so much sweeter when coming from a place of deeper understanding.
And an idea was born. I want my girls to experience serving at a deeper level. We are praying for a family mission trip to go on.
Now that Thanksgiving is upon us, I will think and thank a little differently this year.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Two aisles and a bag of carrots

Two aisles and a bag of carrots.
That was my grocery shopping trip. As I walked down those two aisles, I realized how much food we have access to. It is everywhere! Just those two aisles probably hold more food than some people around the world see in a year. As I was looking at all the food and how much I have taken it for granted, tears were welling up in my eyes. I wonder if I was the only one crying for the world in the grocery store that day. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and this year, being thankful will take on a whole new meaning.

Total spent for 3 days:

I think I'll put the money we save these three days in a jar to start our mission trip fund. What mission trip fund? Ummm... That's the cool part! We don't have any idea... just something to pray about during this time of fasting!

Our church played parts of this video at church.
It is what started the tears flowing.
Leave me a comment telling me what part touched you the most.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Celebrate the Nations

Part of our homeschooling has been reading about other people groups. It has been eye-opening and I realize how little I know of the World.

In church today we talked about missions. Two facts stuck with me:
Over half of the world lives on less than $2 a day.
30,000 people a day die from hunger.

In Sunday School (we teach 2nd grade), the kids told me some of their favorite foods and we figured out how much they eat a day and approximately what it would cost. $7 - $14 was what we came up with.

Our church is challenging us to have a rice and beans fast until church Wednesday night.

Later this week, the sermon will be posted here:

Only rice and beans for 3 days??? This idea is not going over too well with the kids... I'm kinda excited. Anyone know any good recipes?
I'll update how we are doing!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

One-winged Butterfly

"For a useful analogy in nature, consider the caterpillar that is “faking” being a butterfly, in order to look good or overcome feelings of self-contempt, shame, or ugliness, and which looks on other caterpillars with harsh judgment, if not disdain, and a desperate need to accelerate their “fixing.” And consider that a butterfly that is genuinely being itself looks on caterpillars with joyful expectancy, knowing that they are all “becoming” butterflies, that nothing is missing, and that the timing of their becoming is in God’s hands. The butterfly looks back on its caterpillar days with thankfulness, understanding its necessity, loving having been a caterpillar as well as being a butterfly. But the caterpillar often is discontent with its condition, wishing to rush its “ascendancy,” thereby stalling and delaying itself." -Jim Spivey

I am in a strange place, some areas of my life I'm living in butterfly mode and some areas I am stuck as a caterpillar. Maybe as a one-winged butterfly?

The past week has been a hard one. A week where I came to the end of myself. And found God there waiting. Ready to take over and clean up the mess. And just when I think I am empty of myself, a new trial comes that lands me flat out again. I see that I have not emptied all that I am, that I have yet again gotten in the way of myself. The caterpillar rears her head and begins to judge. It is easier to guess at what people think and judge them than it is to really communicate with them and love them. More hurts coming out. More realizations. More truths. It is a painful, growing process.

To really be able to love others, we have to first embrace God's love for us, love ourselves, and then love others... not caring if we are loved back.

I have not been loving.

It is a scary thing to walk out into the world and give love... without the guarantee of being loved back.

But if I ever want to grow that wing, it is only through taking the risk of loving and letting go of the judging.

Hello world... I'm ready to fly! (with both wings)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I know I've been quiet for awhile...

and it's not because I haven't had anything to say. It's because I've had so much to say. But I was standing in my own way of saying it. I think I'm ready now.

"Why now?" you ask.

Good question.

Last week was rough. I came to the end of myself. I've had enough of doing all this by myself. So I stopped and stepped to the side. I emptied myself and let God move.

Awwww... That sounds so pretty. Do you hear the soft music playing?

Trust me, it was anything but pretty.

Except to Jesus.
and me.

So I'm coming back.
A bit more real this time.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I made my own laundry detergent!

Thanks, sis, for this recipe! Here is a link to a tip that can save you LOTS of money. I can not believe how LONG this batch lasted me. I've been using the same batch since the summer. This time, I will document exactly how long it lasts.

Monday, September 20, 2010

So Beautiful

This Wedding
(Lindsay Joseph to Daniel Underbrink)
So Beautiful
Family Filled
A Dream Come True
I left more in love with my husband.
What more is there to say?

Best Wishes to my niece and her new husband. Welcome to the family, Daniel!

Check out the pics my (other) niece, Raeley, took and posted on her blog. http://raeley.blogspot.com/2010/09/mr-and-mrs-underbrink.html
She is a sophomore in high school. And, yes, there are some great ones of my kids!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I'm Still Here!

I know... I haven't posted in a while.
Small update:
I am homeschooling 3 of our kids. This is the first full week of school for us. Some parts of it I LOVE so much and wonder why I haven't done it from the beginning. Other parts... well, notsomuch.

I am a teacher. God gave me gifts and strengths that are in that field. I have used my gifts for income. I have used my gifts for serving Him. Now I am using my gifts for love. I had only thought I was using my gifts for love before. Now that I am focusing it all on my kids, the love abounds.

A surprising secret about homeschooling:
It's not about the teaching or the learning...
It's about life and love.
The learning and teaching happens out of that.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Coupon codes for photo books!

I know it's not me to stray from traditional scrapbooking, but when you are as behind as I am now... Sometimes it helps! I have come across some savings and would love to share them with you. They are about up, so you need to act fast!

Picaboo is offering a buy one - get one FREE classic photo book. The down side is that it is the SAME EXACT book that you get free. This is a father's day promo. I ordered one of their books and LOVE it. Some of the best quality in photo books I have seen. Coupon code: BGFJUN and it ends June 15th.

Snapfish has a buy one - get one FREE photo book. The cool thing is that it does not have to be the same! COOL! The down side, I'm not that crazy about snapfish quality. But I'll take what I can get for FREE without too much complaining! And those of you who know me, know I can be a picture snob. I like quality. I don't like blurs or grainy. Yes, I like savings even more! Just sayin'! Almost forgot: Coupon code: GRADBOOKS and it ends June 14th (I also heard it ends June 11th, so not sure. I'll check on it.)

So... if you don't hear of me for a few days, I'll be making 3 photo books! WOOO HOOOO!

Now, which ones should I do.... hmmm.....

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Last Day of School!

This year, this has a whole new meaning! Last day for the summer or last day for... ????
Watching the kids so excited about the last day and excited about the little things... getting to watch movies at school, eating popcorn in the classroom, taking their shoes off...
at first I was a bit sad, thinking about how much FUN they are having and I am "taking" that away.
Then I realize...
I can continue the joy in the little things, not just at the end of the school, but ALL the time!!!!!!!!!

Monthly Movie Day!
Popcorn and Popsicles!
Soda for Subtraction!
(and you know, we do NOT give our kids soda at home, so that would be a HUGE treat!)

What is on my mind now is the layout of our new schoolroom. Any suggestions? Websites for ideas? Blogs that give tips?
I'm going to give the girls some graph paper and see what they design. I want to take something from each girl and design a great space. (That doesn't cost much at all.)

Last day of school! WOOO HOOO!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Homeschool Update

It has been a few weeks since I began the homeschool journey with Angela. In the short time I have been working with her, I have seen her improve leaps and bounds. She now willingly reads out loud with me. I started a phonics type of reading program with her and we normally do three lessons a day. She is 1/3 of the way through. At the end of the program (mid-summer), she should be on a second grade reading level! I started a second grade math curriculum with her and we do several lessons a day. She is rockin' it! It has been great having her with me.

The biggest improvement has been with her self-esteem. She said to me the other day, "Mommy, I really am smart! I'm SMART!" That was the most beautiful sound. All year the only thing I heard was how stupid she thought she was. I still can't talk about that without tears welling up. I know without a doubt this was the right choice.

People have been so supportive. I'm amazed at the level of support I have received. I'm also amazed at people I thought would be supportive have remained silent.

The path we are on now, although rewarding, has not been easy. The transition from school work to "home" work has been hard. The transition from Mommy being Mommy to Mommy also being Teacher has been very hard. Angela realizing she is in a safe place and her heart finally releasing all the things it has been carrying around, has been heartwrenchingly difficult. Me loosing just about all the "me" time I had, has been difficult. But what is Mothering? It is walking these hard roads, making the difficult choices, holding the hurting child, ignoring the unsupporters or silent ones you want support from, putting others before yourself while maintaining balance to take care of yourself, letting your children see you living a life you would want them live, and imprinting on their hearts a legacy.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

We Are A Homeschool Family Now!

Most of you are not surprised. I have always said if it came down to it and I needed to, I would pull my kids out of school. Well, it was time. Past time. God's time. I pulled Angela out of school. She LOVES being at home. In the week and a half I have had her at home, she has already shown SO MUCH improvement! Her reading is already better. Her math skill are good. Most importantly, she is happy.

Next year, Evelyn will be home schooled too.

And yesterday Amber told us she wanted to experience it too!


God is really changing hearts around here!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Angela is 7!

Happy Birthday! (belated!) Angela, you shine like a light in our life. You are so sweet and smile in the midst of sadness. You are such a smart girl. Your imagination is fun and you remain the little princess! We are so blessed to have you in our family! I love you and am so proud of you!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy Easter!

Remember the reason Easter is.


Easter is a celebration of God's love for YOU. So much that He gave (offered up willingly) His ONLY Son. And Jesus did it. He didn't want to. But He did it anyway. Why? Out of His love for YOU.


The song Oh How He Love Me and You says it all.

Kid tip: Wrap a marshmallow in a crescent (the-from-a-can-kind) and talk about Jesus' death and how he was wrapped up and placed in a tomb. Bake according to directions. See what happens!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Protect yourself! Remove yourself!

So much info is out there. About YOU! To protect yourself, remove your listing. Go HERE and find out how. It just takes a few mins and is well worth it!

I found my name, address, cell phone #, and email on it. Not anymore!

Friday, March 26, 2010

FREE Picaboo Photo Book!

I LOVE scrapbooking. I have made tons of albums! But, I have never done a digital photo album. Until today. It was SO EASY! And this book is FREE! But it ends Wednesday, so hurry up! You ONLY have to pay for shipping. WOW!

What book did I do? For who? Ha! Not telling! You'll have to wait till it comes in!

How can you get yours? Go here and sign up as a new customer.

Then come back here and tell me how much you loved it too!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Evelyn is 9!

Evelyn, you are such a joy. You are so funny and full of energy. You always put others before yourself and care so much about your sisters and friends. I have seen a lot of tenderness and compassion in you lately as you try to find ways to help others around you feel better. You love finding new things to think about and new ways to make the world around you a better place. I love you and am so proud of you!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Amber is 11!

Happy Birthday! I am so proud of you. You have grown so much this year. You take good care of your sisters and are still as sweet as ever! I love watching you help at church and you are so good with the kids in the classroom! You enjoy being with your family and that means so much to me. Have a great day! I love you!

Friday, February 19, 2010

My fuse is short

It's hard to hear...
It's even harder to admit...
I've talked about how I'm serving at church, I've upped my work hours, I'm currently doing several girl scouts projects (anyone want to buy any cookies? My living room is filled with them!) and then there are the other curve-balls life throws (sometimes way-too-hard) at you. I've never claimed to be superwoman. Except... to my kids, still waiting to see if they've caught on or not. JUST KIDDING! I make sure they know it's not ok for people to behave like I do at times... And right now is one of those times.
You know... the quick fuse, the being pulled in so many directions I'm surprised I'm not walking sideways, the "I'm too tired to clean up!" (that comes from me, not the kids this time), the falling asleep when I sit down instead of putting the kids to bed, the feeling like a bad mommy starts becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, the ... um... yeah. That's me. I was wondering today WHY my kids were yelling at each other so much. Then I heard myself. UGH.
Some of you right now are being a little quick to judge. Yeah, you know who you are! The truth is... we all have our stressful times. When you see the reflection in the mirror, what do you do?
I'm going to step back. Start with the simple things.
Ever since Christmas, my kids have started asking me to get them up early in the morning. That has seriously cut into my Bible reading and prayer. But let's be honest... Even when I'm the only one up, if my eyes close, it's cause I'm sleeping... know what I mean???
What is my plan? Thanks for asking!
Back to my DAILY QTs.
I really want to use music as a calming mood change.
Then, when the fuse is quickly going... take a step back. and breathe. I've been holding my breathe for a while now...
God has been growing me a lot lately. I need to rest in Him.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010


Did you read what I said here? Well, someone from church did and decided to interview for a segment on serving at our church. It will be shown during the services this weekend. If I can, I'll link to it...

Or you can just come to WoodsEdge and see it!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Secret Keeper Girls!

Secret Keeper Girls...
An amazing night!
A bonding night for mothers and daughters!
A night to open the door to discuss purity and modesty!
A night to celebrate being a woman created by God!
A night to remember!

All moms of girls, check this out!

I only wish I had found out about this sooner! It advertises for ages 8 - 12 or 8th grade, but I think it is geared for 7 - 10 years old. The girls are growing up so much faster... It is an awesome introduction to the topics of modesty and purity. If older girls go through this, it needs to be followed with deeper teachings. The organization has one for teens, but since I haven't seen it, I don't want to comment about it. I really like that they have a section for guys in the teen teachings.

My heart is to lead girls in these truths.

I was able, at this event, to love on not only my daughter, but a daughter that has recently lost her mom. I will never forget her eyes as I held her in my arms. I am so thankful that I could be there for her.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Out of my comfort zone

Out of my comfort zone... and it's not such a bad place to be...
I have been growing and stretching in ways that have gotten me out of my comfort zone. I have been challenged to grow and to lead and do things I usually shy away from. I am finding out that I can do so much more than I ever thought possible. And the things I am not-so-good at... well, I am learning that I need to be in a place that if it does fall on me to do those things, how to do it with a smile then trust God to let the pieces fall into place. When God is in the midst of you serving, it is not you, but God.

My confidence has been growing. It has even started showing up in other areas of my life. Yesterday, I was treating myself to Starbucks (thanks, those of you who provided me with gift cards for Christmas!). I was running around after work and did not know HOW I would stay awake for Wednesday night services. While I was waiting for my coffee, the barista asked me if I was having a good day (did I look that tired?) and I actually engaged in a conversation with her. This is something I usually do not do. But I did. It was good. I walked away determined to keep taking those little steps out of my comfort zone... and just see where they lead.

Skip to church...

I am helping lead the children's Wednesday night services. I enjoy it. It is magical for me... I am so exhausted on Wednesday nights. Getting everyone ready and up to church can be a struggle. But once I'm there and see the kids, it all lifts. I am energized, headaches go away, and words just seem to come. God is there. God uses me. Me! He takes this person, who constantly doubts herself, who doesn't know what she is doing, who is not comfortable in front of people and allows her to take part in His work. I am constantly amazed.
I had thought that me doing so much more serving would be hard on the kids, but they love it. Their faces light up when they see me with the microphone. My face lights up when they tell me I did a good job, and I've even heard "I'm proud of you, mom!" It has given me so many opportunities to grow closer to my family, form wonderful relationships with others, but more importantly, to grow closer to God.
... and it feels good!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Homework tip

Spelling Pre-tests.
I've done them every week with my kids. Sometimes there are tears. I often hear "but my teacher didn't say to do this!" or "It's not on my planner, I don't have to do it!" or other things I won't relive by writing down. We've done creative things, writing in sand, chalk, eraser boards, you name it, we've probably done it. BUT those really cool ideas take time. Now I do FOUR pretests at the same time. That takes talent, people. So we stick to pencil and paper. Until this week with my genus idea!
Nintendo DSI Pictochat!
The kids now all have Nintendo DSIs. There is a chatroom feature. The chatroom capability reaches from our house to a few steps from the back fence. And the kids LOVE it! How cool is it to chat with someone in the same room with you?! It totally cracks me up! But they love it. And now I do too! Why? Because it has saved my Thursday nights!

I get on one Dsi and the kids get on the others and we do the pretests. They all get to chat the words to me. I give them time to set up different colors or backgrounds, so I know who writes what word easier, then we start. I know immediately if they spell a word wrong and I mark it on the list. At the end, if they only have a few words wrong, they get to write it on the chat feature. If it has been a not-so-good pretest, they have to use the old fashion way of pencil and paper. The only problem, we only have 4 Dsi's instead of 5... (HA! "only 4"! Not to long ago, I never thought we would even have one!) someone has to wait until Angela finishes her test (she only has a few words) to start on theirs.

Try it! Or another creative way to do spelling pretests and let me know!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A New Year!

It's a new year. Some very exciting things are planned, but it's the unknown that makes me a bit nervous. We ended 2009 with a two-week vacation for Christmas. It was incredible! The family drama that sometimes accompanies holidays was not there! My kids are old enough now for me to not worry about them and hover over them constantly. The cousins all got along without any problems. I am so blessed.
Christmas was focused on Faith and Family instead of the usual get get get and give give give that can be so exhausting. And what was really cool, as far as presents go, the kids all got what they wanted. (one felt a little slighted by Santa for not getting a webkinz, but on the other hand, was incredibly overwhelmed with what she did get!) The BEST part... MEMORIES! We talked a lot about faith, but the fun times just hanging out with the cousins is what will be remembered. The faith is in the heart daily, the family is something we don't get enough of.
The kids made so many memories, flashlight tag, smores, producing their own Christmas Pageant, dancing, pettiskirts, first hunting trip, playing, games, puzzles, just being together. The memories were not made of expensive outings, but simple, free, just hanging out and letting kids be kids!
In that environment, my kids thrived!
I am so blessed!
Now that we are back from the vacation and the real world is setting in, the fear is back. So it's time to trust. And rely on that faith. I know I can do it. I know through my faith, I can face it and whatever happens... and not just survive, but thrive!
I think I just found my goal for 2010!