Friday, March 30, 2007

Lost in the phone tree

I had a nice run-in with an insurance phone-tree maze today. I number of months ago, I switched my medical coverage to be on the same plan with my husband. I put my new insurance card in my wallet and haven't thought much about it since.

I'll be traveling internationally soon (no, not to Africa) and need to get my prescriptions filled for malaria pills and the ever-so-important, cipro. I ventured into my local drug store. Found some new sunglasses on the way to the pharmacy counter, and we all know that good (as in: cute) sunglasses are an absolute requirement for a big trip. I waited patiently in line. My interaction with the hurried pharmacy lady went well and I handed her my insurance card. Rejection. Apparently, that card is only for the actual doctors office and I should have another card for prescriptions. I had no idea what she was talking about. Actually, this is a work expense, so I don't really care if I have to pay for the pills, but this is the type of information that is good to have figured out before you ever really need it. I left my prescriptions there and told her I'd come back tomorrow - either will full payment, or a prescription insurance card. Seriously, I've never heard of that.

I called the insurance company, and after following the maze of their audible phone tree, I talked to an actual person who told me that our prescriptions are handled through CareMark, and she gave me their phone number. What is CareMark? And why do I not know what she is talking about???

I called CareMark, and then I got stuck in their audible phone tree. I went in circles. There were no options to speak to a representative. I love the answers on the phone tree...the machine tries to sound so understanding. If you make a mistake it says, "My mistake...try again." It asks for my account number, and I enter a random set of numbers (since I've never heard of CareMark), just hoping that will let me talk to a person. Machine says, "Hmmm...that's interesting. I can't seem to find that number."

It's all really funny until I wasn't so entertained any longer. It just got irritating. Instead of saying "order status" or one of the other options, I just said "LET ME TALK TO A PERSON!!!" And guess what the machine said? "OK... I'll transfer you to a representative now. Have a good day." Emotional outbursts are common and expected, to the point that it is an unscripted option. Nice.

I started laughing (audibly) and wondered how that registers in their phone tree. Note to database: customer is mocking our robotic script.

PS - I did find out that we (as in our household) do have a prescription card, but I swear I've never seen it. I found it in our special "card keeping notebook"...which is where we keep membership cards that we don't currently need. The card only has hubs' name on it, but apparently it will work just as well for me.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Puzzle Pieces

I had a friend once tell me that the thing she loved about me was that I know exactly what I want in life.

I thought about that today, and didn't know if I wanted to laugh or cry. What an elusive thing, to know exactly what you want. I've been debating if I should call and tell her, just so she doesn't hold me up on too high of a pedestal.

I suppose that she is right. Ultimately, all I want is to glorify God. Truly. May the consequences of my sin demonstrate His wrath and glorify Him. May my need for a savior glorify Him. May He be glorified in the way He has provided me a savior. May He be glorified in my depression. May He be glorified by providing my joy. May my life glorify God and nothing else.

But then, there are the day-to-day decisions that must be made, and I feel like I often don't know which decision will glorify God. At that point, I have no idea what exactly I should do, ought to do, or want to do.

At this very moment in my life, I feel like I have a lot of puzzle pieces, but they don't seem to belong to the same puzzle. I don't understand how they are supposed to fit together. I don't even know why I have the pieces I have. I can't connect any of the pieces, and I can't find the border pieces.

If you can't find any border pieces, at least try to find the corners - start with the corners. Ok, that's easy. The corners of the puzzle would have to be God the Father, Jesus the Son, the Holy Spirit, and the Church (which is where I am). Great...that's like saying I want to glorify God. It's a good thing to understand, that the corners of my life puzzle have to be the trinity and God's Church, but what does that mean for my day-to-day decisions? Back to the border pieces. None of my pieces connect (that I can tell) and none of them are border least not to me.

I had a good complaint prayer session with God this morning. I yelled at Him (don't worry - I fully worship Him, thanked Him, and confessed to Him first): I DO NOT KNOW WHAT I'M SUPPOSED TO BE DOING AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT THESE PUZZLE PIECES MEAN. PLEASE. JUST. TELL. ME.

I guess my friend was right - I really do know what I want. What I want in life is to know very clearly what God wants. And it would be nice if he would just send me an email or something and let me know. He wrote me a whole book, and it's a good book, but I'm not getting the message clearly enough.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Delaying children?

I have a question for you and would love to hear your thoughts. Comments are welcome! Please hang in there and read to the bottom for the question. I'll try to be brief, but it's not my best skill!

Hubs and I have been waiting for many years to start having children. We will celebrate our 8th anniversary this summer. We got married while still in college and were quite young....and got pretty good at being busy with life instead of parenting. Still, it's been a long time and we're ready. I'm REALLY ready. Actually, it's been neat to see God working on my heart. Not too long ago, I was throwing temper tantrums in response to my great desire for children. I wanted babies NOW. I asked God to change my heart, and give me His patience and contentment. I've come to trust Him with our future family. I know fully that He may not even have plans to bless us with children - that isn't promised. God may have another plan entirely. And you know what? My heart has changed. Of course I would love to have a house filled with little ones, but even more so, I want my home and family to glorify God - in whatever way God would have for us. If He doesn't have children planned for us, then I can't wait to find out what His plan is.

That being said, with great contentment and peace, our plan is to start trying to have children soon. As it turns out, I think I'm going to have an opportunity to travel to Africa for work right around the exact same time we were planning for this. The problem? I would have to take lots of vaccinations, and you shouldn't get pregnant for three months after you get the vaccines. If we have to wait a few months, it would likely be more like 5-6 months... to try, in some attempt, to avoid having babies in the middle of summer (long story for another day...just know it would cause great family angst for us to have a summer baby).

So... question of the year (or, of eight years!): Is it worth a free trip to Africa to postpone children for 5 more months, or should I choose babies first, and decline the trip? If it was a trip with my church instead of work, would it make a difference? Should it? Does it make a difference to wait 5 more months, when I've waited 8 years? Is this a test from God to choose family over work, or is it an opportunity from God to go to a place that I won't be able to go for many more years (since I won't be taking an infant there) and see His face in the eyes of suffering children?

I can't believe after all this, after all this waiting, I'm likely being given this choice. Please, please please, I'd love your thoughts. What would you do?

Questions 9 & 10

I'm starting this week off looking at questions nine and ten from the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Q. 9. What is the work of creation?
A. The work of creation is, God’s making all things of nothing, by the word of his power,[24] in the space of six days, and all very good.[25]

Q. 10. How did God create man?
A. God created man male and female, after his own image,[26] in knowledge,[27] righteousness, and holiness,[28] with dominion over the creatures.[29]

I'm glad that I happen to be looking at these two questions together. I've been re-listening (on CD) to a sermon my pastor gave about marriage. One of the points made was that the only thing in all of creation that wasn't declared "good" was that Adam was alone; the human situation was only "good" after he received his wife. One of the things I think most interesting about this is that God knew it wouldn't be good for man to be alone. He could have created both beings from the start, but He didn't. Why? I think it was so that man would know He needed woman - he experienced that need as he searched through and named the animal kingdom. He longed for someone, and God gave Him the gift of a wife. I think it also taught woman that she was made for the purpose of being a helpmate to God. She was created purposefully and intentionally, but her purpose is fully wrapped up in her relationship to man.

My prayer is that I remember that I was created by God, that it was "good", that I was created to be a support and helpmate to my husband, that "husband" was created first but needs a "wife" as God created her to be, and that I am made in God's image and should reflect it!

This text is timely in my life right now. I am so thankful for my husband. We've been married for nearly 8 years, but I feel like I'm just now learning how be be a Godly wife. May God strengthen me in this area and use me to bless my husband.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Menu Plan Monday 3/26

Welcome to Menu Plan Monday, hosted by the Organizing Junkie!

I do my menu planning Thursday through Wednesdays, so I've decided to post the menu that we're currently in the midst of. If you are here for ideas, it should work just as well for you!

I like doing it this way, rather than starting with Monday, because make my menu after I get the sales flyers on Tuesday. I buy my things early in the sale, while they still have the products advertised. Also, by starting with Thursday, I'm more likely to cook as planned over the weekend. I spend much time planning my menu, so for the first few days I'm really excited to make the things I've planned. Towards the end of it, that excitement is fading, and I'm more likely to want to eat out. If that happens at the same time as a weekend, we're doomed.

I'm doing pretty good overall. I didn't make the Chicken Cordon Bleu on Friday; we needed to talk about something, and I made the decision that it was a restaurant conversation. Since we ate out too much while dating, we have all our best talks while eating at restaurants. For some reason, chips and salsa make everything better. I'm going to make the Chicken Cordon Bleu on Monday and freeze it ahead. We'll probably have that for dinner on Tuesday, move Tuesday's dinner to Wednesday, and save pizza muffins for next week.

Thursday: kel - "off day" - not working, friend over for afternoon
Breakfast: poached eggs & toast
Lunch: hubs - left over fajita bowl; me - burrito
Dinner: Shepherd's Pie (make 6 servings, freeze ahead)

Friday: Kel: Home - work part-day, make Chicken Cordon Bleu
Breakfast: poached eggs & toast
Lunch: hubs - out; me - burrito w/ friend visiting
Dinner: Chicken Cordon Bleu, salad

Saturday: kel - bsf and fellowship; Church workday for afternoon/lunch; cousin's play in evening
Breakfast: kel - poached egg and toast; hubs - oatmeal
Lunch: free, at church
Dinner: Out - on the way to the play

church in am, church party for lunch/fellowship
Breakfast: peanut butter & english muffin
Lunch: free, at church for party
Dinner: tuna melts and chili
Prep: Start oatmeal in crockpot

Monday: kel - work at home, bsf - leave at 5:45
Breakfast: Crockpot irish oatmeal
Lunch: kel - burrito; hubs - left over shepherd's pie
Dinner: Chicken quesadillas and left over chicken chili

kel - friends visiting am, work at home afternoon
Breakfast: left over irish oatmeal with egg white scrambles
Lunch: kel - burrito; hubs - free lunch at work
Dinner: ham & cheese grills w/ fries & salad

kel - work at office; hubs - class - leave at 6pm
Breakfast: poached eggs and toast
Lunch: kel - burrito, hubs - Peanut butter sandwich and fruit
Dinner: Pizza muffins

Happy cooking to you!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Appeasing Grandma

The other day my Grandma left me a voice mail informing me that she really wanted hubs and I to join her on a hot air balloon ride as a birthday present to her. Unfortunately, her birthday is right now and the balloon ride would be in just a couple weeks, and it's really not in our budget right now. How do you say no to Grandma? I felt horrible having to call my grandma and tell her that we didn't want to pay for her one birthday request. I put the phone call off for three days.

I finally made the dreaded call. I explained the financial situation in such a clever way that, in the end, she was not disappointed, and thoroughly ok with our decision.

How, might you ask, did I do that?

I just explained that we're trying to save money right now so that we can have babies and I can stay home. I could hear the smile on her face. The only complaint I received during the whole was that we need to "hurry it up!"

Gotta love Grandma.

How to clean your fridge

How to clean your fridge:
  1. Make a yummy burrito for lunch (as I do almost every single day)
  2. Put the leftover pinto beans (one can lasts for 3-4 days) in its container and put the lid on
  3. Close the lids on all the other containers (olives, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.)
  4. Gather all those little tubs in one arm and put them in the fridge
  5. Drop the olives on the floor, but pick it right back up, and thank the Lord for plastic
  6. Grab the container of pinto beans (steaming up the inside of it's container, making the lid highly pliable) and *try* put it in the fridge
  7. Drop the container of pinto beans, watch it fall into the drawer of cheese/meats, which is still open
  8. Pray that it will stay closed, just like the olives
  9. Watch the highly pliable lid (thank you steam) pop right off, spilling 4 servings of pinto beans all over all the cheese and lunch meats
  10. Laugh, you must laugh
  11. Figure out how to take the drawer out of the fridge (we just moved in a couple months ago, so I've not had to do this yet)
  12. Hand wash all of the bags of cheese and meats
  13. Toss what had to be tossed...or rather, what was beyond its life and needed the garbage!
  14. Hand dry all the bags of cheese and meats and put back in the fridge
  15. Wash the drawer
  16. Don't dry the drawer, but put it in the dry rack, since your lunch is still waiting to be eaten
And that, if you were wondering, is a great way to get your fridge cleaned.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


I wrote a couple days ago about choosing pain to achieve a desired end-result. I just started an orthodontic process (braces, but with clear plastic trays instead of metal). Since my teeth and their pain have been front-and-center in my thoughts, so has this.

This whole orthodontic tray thingy hurts. Really, my teeth are doing ok. So far, there is much less soreness of my actual teeth than when I had traditional braces years ago. The part that hurts is my tongue and inside of my lips. You see, the edges of these trays are a tad sharp and my tongue/lips are a bit raw. It's constant. There is no where else to put my tongue or lips. They are constantly irritated. But, as it continually hurts, I continually think about the end result. I could take out the trays if I wanted to, but I don't. I just remind myself that I'm straightening my teeth and it will be great in the end!

I can't help but notice that I wish I were more like this spiritually. To constantly know the pain that I cause God, to constantly recognize the grace He has given me, to constantly feel the process of sanctification - if dying to self and turning towards to Lord, and to constantly be reminded of the end-result. God working in me would be so easy to see and to feel. Praying constantly would a given. How could you not?

Perhaps this is the beauty of having children (for those of you that have them!). You have little reminders of your God's gifts running around you all the time...and then eventually they start saying things to you that reveal your flaws. Maybe this is why God gives us children. I only have a dog and she doesn't humble me at all. She just loves me, and the space heater under my desk, and to her, I AM God. Anyway... (By the way, does anyone ever desire children for the purpose the humility-training? Or does the realization of that benefit come later?)

I've been praying lately for God to remind me of my sin - to show it to me. It's so ugly, but it's real. It's so easy for me to slip into a frame of mind where I forget my sin. My life is pretty good. Yep, doing pretty good today. Life looks great. I forget that even my best efforts are filthy rags, but by Christ's righteousness (and by nothing else), I have beautiful, clean garments. (Zechariah 3:3-4).

My sin is constant. Grace is constant. And I wish I were better at remembering it constantly.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Works for me Wednesday: Geography Lessons

There is a middle school associated with my church (home schooled kids who meet together a few times a week), and recently the woman who teaches it was asking if I knew of any place to get good country-profile information. Their class is helping a non-profit in with a project in Kenya, but she didn't have any good resources for them about what it was like in Kenya, or compared to other countries in Africa. I know of several great ones!

I sent them to her, and thought I'd offer it to the WFMW crowd...hopefully it can be helpful in learning geography and about life in other parts of the world.

  1. The Library of Congress has a number of great country profiles that are really long - Kenya's was 22 pages long! They seem to include a bit more history than others.
  2. The CIA World Fact Book has tons of information about every country. They also include maps.
  3. The UN site also has very useful information; I especially think they have great, detailed maps.

Chosing Pain

I started a new journey today: Invisalign orthodontics. In just about 12 months from now, I will have straight, pretty teeth. I suppose they are pretty now, but not as straight as I'd like. I hate to admit it, but I actually did have traditional braces in junior high, but they were taken off too soon and it didn't take too long for my teeth to move back quite a bit.

So far, this is pretty darn cool. The whole thing is done with the clear, plastic trays that you wear all time time, except when eating. Each set of trays lasts for two weeks, and then you switch to the next set. I've already gotten to see digital imaging of how my teeth will change. This is pretty cool technology!

Improvement is painful, and yet, we need to make a purposeful choice to go through that painful process. I excitedly started this process today, knowing that I will experience a lot of soreness in my mouth, and a bit of inconvenience. I considered my options, and I decided to endure a year of mouth-pain to win the prize of straight teeth. This is true of many physical things. My husband needs to get his wisdom teeth taken our this year. We know it will have a good outcome, but we also know it will be a hard, painful, trying process. I think childbirth (and rearing) and the greatest examples... we joyfully accept the pain, the changes, and the massive inconveniences all for the greater benefits we will receive in adding to our family.

How immature would we be to avoid the painful process altogether - never enjoying the better outcome, for fear of the short-term pain. How often does short-term pain keep me from growing?

We frequently do this in our spiritual lives. Sanctification is painful, but the outcome that God has in store is better than we can even imagine. Are we willing to endure the painful process? It takes realness with God, vulnerability. We need to ask, to listen, and then to DO. Do I want to become more become? I can bet my pride will be challenged. Do I want to become more patient? I should plan on waiting a lot. Do I really want to jump in to these painful processes?

It's become pretty easy for me to value the long-term benefit over short-term pain when it comes to physical things. I can endure painful teeth and nursing my husband after his wisdom teeth are pulled. These are tangible things with tangible outcomes.

May God help me to value the long-term benefits over short-term pain when it comes to spiritual things; that I will so greatly value His final prize, that there would never be a question of the trade-off.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sin, sin, go away - don't come back another day

I've been thinking about sin lately. This I hate: as a new creation in Christ, we will still sin - guaranteed. I initially wrote that we would "struggle with sin" - that sounds so much more PC. Of course there will be struggle, but the hard truth is that we WILL sin. We can't fool ourselves into thinking we become sin-free in any way. I especially hate how I can struggle with periodic willful sin. It's so ugly. I've been trying to learn that as ugly as I am during these times, that is my true self. My true sin-nature IS that ugly all the time. And then grace is all the more beautiful. Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. What a merciful, loving God we have.

Anyway, I've been thinking about some specific times that I've sinned grievously. We all have. There are things I've done and said that I just regret. I've repented and I know I'm forgiven. Yet, that's not the end of it...I have more I need to do. I know that there are underlying sins that made it so I was susceptible to the sin-action. I don't think I've fully dealt with those sins, lies, and wrong-thinking that lead to my sin. And if I don't dig them out, it will surely resurface. I need to spend some time in prayer about this.

I cannot wait for heaven. Sinning, conviction, repentance....just the full process of sanctification is really tiring to me! Praise God for His patience, and that He doesn't get tired of me!

Questions 7 & 8

Continuing in this journey, I thought I would go ahead and consider questions 7 and 8 from the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Q. 7. What are the decrees of God?
A. The decrees of God are, his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.[22]

Q. 8. How doth God execute his decrees?
A. God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence.[23]

I can't help but notice how many times the word "His" is used here. It's all about HIM. Not me. His decrees = His purpose, will, glory... That is my lesson this year. God is to be glorified in all things.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Back to my resolution: Q5 & Q6

You may recall my goal to review one question from the Westminster Shorter Catechism per week. I'm a bit behind. Ok, a lot behind. That's ok. God's mercies are new every morning. I'll just get back into it and maybe review two at a time until I catch up.

Q. 5. Are there more Gods than one?
A. There is but one only,[18] the living and true God.[19]

Q. 6. How many persons are there in the Godhead?
A. There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost;[20] and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.[21]

A few thoughts...

There is only one God: the true, living God. As we approach Easter, it's so good to remember that our God is a living God. God became man (Jesus Christ), and though He died a physical death, He defeated death: He came back to life, physically walked on earth again, and then went to Heaven to be with God, the Father.

Why does it matter that He conquered death? Death is the outcome of sin. If we are believers in and followers of Christ, He has defeated sin in us too. He is stronger than sin. More powerful than sin. We will fight sin, which is Satan at work in our world, all the days of our lives, and our God has already proven that He wins. He has conquered death in the body of Christ. He conquers sin in our lives. We already know how this great battle will win, for our God is alive and well. Death did not conquer Him, rather, He already won that battle. God lives.

Regarding the Holy Spirit... I love that this is a picture of how marriage ought to be. It's a hard concept for something to be separate but one. People struggle with marriage - are we one unit and giving up our individual personalities, or are we separate people but lacking in marital unity? What is God's plan? We have the trinity to teach us. We are to be one body: HusbandAndWife. One. A new creation together. A new created being. Like the trinity, this doesn't remove the unique people that we are and our unique personalities. We can act uniquely. In the trinity, each person of the God-head has a unique role. They have unique characteristics and attributes. They can act independently. BUT, they are consistent to each other. You won't see God, Jesus, and the Spirit contradicting one another. They have different, all important roles to play, but the goal is always to carry out God's plan. There is order and a purpose to their roles. They are all working independently but together to work out God's plan that was prepared in advance. What a gift God has given us to teach us how to be married, and married well.

There is no more a fitting response than to praise God, the true God, for His gift of the son, who paid for our sin, and the spirit, who is our comforter and guarantee of coming inheritance.

Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”

“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Menu Planning

My first attempt last week at creating a thorough menu plan worked out really well.

So, I've done it again and am set to go grocery shopping this morning. And again, I shall participate in Laura's Menu Plan Monday at the end of the week. Oh well!

Also, today is a big day of celebration when it comes to menu planning. We found a chest freezer on craigslist that we like for $75. Yahoo! Hubs is on his way to get it now. I'll finally be able to really make meals in advance. This will help so SO much! Yay!

Thursday: kel - At office - home at 5:30
Breakfast: hubs - poached eggs & toast
Lunch: hubs - out; me - brown bag sandwich and apple
Dinner: Shepherd's Pie (6 servings)

Friday: Kel: Home - meetings at 11 & 4, closet organizing w/ friend; hubs work at duplex
Breakfast: poached eggs & toast
Lunch: hubs - out; me - burrito w/ friend visiting
Dinner: French dip, salad, chocolate chip cookies for dessert
Prep: make 3 dozen shortbread cookies for tea party tomorrow

Saturday: kel - bsf at 7:00; Church tea at 10:00, baby shower at 2:00
Breakfast: kel - poached egg and toast; hubs - oatmeal
Lunch: burritos or sandwiches
Dinner: Alfredo pasta with chicken and veggie (broccoli or red bell pepper) (4)

church in am, small group at 6pm
Breakfast: poached eggs & toast; homemade lattes
Lunch: out w/ visitors from church
Dinner: tuna melts and chili
Prep: Start oatmeal in crockpot

Monday: kel - work at home, bsf - leave at 5:45
Breakfast: Crockpot irish oatmeal
Lunch: kel - burrito; hubs - left over alfredo chicken
Dinner: kel - yogurt & granola; hubs - left over shepherd's pie

Tuesday: kel - work at home
Breakfast: left over irish oatmeal with egg white scrambles
Lunch: kel - burrito; hubs - sandwich
Dinner: Chicken cordon bleu (make extra to freeze) and salad

Wednesday: kel - work at office; hubs - class - leave at 6pm
Breakfast: poached eggs and toast
Lunch: kel - out; hubs - left over white chicken chili
Dinner: Pizza muffins

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Works for me Wednesday: Better Yogurt

Hurray for the kitchen edition of Works for Me Wednesday! I need all the help here that I can get! Check out Shannon's site for more tips!

My tip is about making customized yogurt. It is more nutritious and cost effective that individual servings of yogurt you can buy.

First, I buy the big tub of plain low-fat yogurt. Plain yogurt has TONS less sugar than flavored yogurt. The ingredient list is so much shorter - actual foods instead of chemicals. I get low-fat instead of non-fat because I need to make sure I'm getting some fat in my diet - I tend to cut it out too easily. Also, because of all the sugars, our bodies tend to process flavored yogurt as more of a carbohydrate rather than a protein, but in plain yogurt, our bodies can recognize what it's eating and it's digested as a protein. Finally, the big tub is way cheaper than 7 or 8 of the little containers.

Unfortunately, I think plain yogurt tastes gross, so here's what I do. I get my big tub, split it into 7 or 8 little containers (I use the little ziplock plastic containers and wash them when done), and add one packet of splenda to each one.

Then, I add about a quarter cup of frozen mini blueberries and a few frozen raspberries. I stack these up and put them in the fridge.

When I'm hungry, I grab a yogurt, stir well (the berries will defrost in the fridge and make it a little watery), and put some grape-nuts or other granola on top. It's healthy, cheap, and yummy. Works for me!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


It's interesting to me how I can have a completely different attitude about something depending on which side of it I'm looking from.

It's a sunny 65 degrees today, although the tree branches are still bare. It's beautiful and freeing. I'm beckoned by the dog's leash and my walking shoes. Oh, I just want to be outside. It's warm enough to go for a walk in pants and a t-shirt, without a jacket. Yesterday, I took the dog for a walk, got the mail on the way back, and flipped through my catalogs on the back porch. Spring is trying ever so desperately to break forth, and we all desire it to. At Bible study last night, the hallway buzz was all about how it was still light out during our drive. Not one day goes by without talk of daylight savings time happening next weekend, and how we can't wait for it! It is sunny, warm, and we just want more of it!

I love this moment - this warm anticipation of spring, and summer to come. Part of it, I'm sure, is my body's response to light and warmth - it just feels good. However, I also love the irony of it all. I can't help notice that in just a couple months, 65 degrees will be so very cold. Sweaters and jackets will come out and we will all grumble about the poor weather.

This phenomenon comes up in other areas too, of course. The first snow storm is a joy, but the fourth or fifth one, when the kids will be in school until July, is an irritation. Is the snow not just as beautiful the fifth time as it was the first? A chocolate chip cookie is delectable, unless I've had too many and am trying to lose 10 pounds. Then, a chocolate chip cookie is nothing less of temptation straight from Satan. Is it not just the same ingredients baked the same way?

And the big kahuna... God seems good and loving when all is going well, and when I get what I want, but He seems harsh and cruel when bad things happen that I didn't want. God seems personal and close one day, yet distant another.

In all these cases, the world around me and my God who loves me is the same. It is me who changes and my perspective. This is an area where I differ from God. I am fickle and change my opinion a lot. My truth depends on my perspective. God is unchanging. He is all true all the time. We know from Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." In all of His qualities, He is all of them, all of the time, and always will be. If my perspective changes, it is me who changed, not God. And since God doesn't change, then one of my opinions was surely wrong.

God is the same, and my attitude should be too. God is joy, so I should have joy all the time. God is peace, so I should have peace all the time. Of course, the seasons will change. But, 65 degrees is the same as 65 degrees, and our God is always the giver of joy and peace, all the time.

Philippians 4:4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Great big blog party

It's time for the great big blog party, hosted by 5minutesformom.

So, welcome to my blog. This is me:

I have been married for seven years and am still waiting to have kids. I do have a three year old boxer dog

who is plenty of work right now. She loves to wiggle upside down, and she makes me smile every single day.

I'm currently working part time (non profit marketing), mostly from home. That also makes me a part-time homemaker, which is the best thing I've ever done.

My blog is mainly about me, my life, and the stuff that I contemplate. God calls us to be a new creation in Him, and I love that He can renew us in every area: our attitude, our habits, our strengths, our gifts. Currently, He's making me into a new wife - including the attitudes and skills He would want me to have in that role.

His mercies are new every morning, and praise God for that! I need His mercy every moment of every day!

Meal Planning

What's cooking? I'm a few days late, but you can get inspiration at Laura's site.

Inspired by this gal at Proverbs 31, I made a meal plan yesterday and went grocery shopping. This is the most well thought out and prepared plan I've ever made.

For some reason, I never take into account what is happening that day - and I think this is the reason that my good intentions always fall apart. I thought about: the hours I'm working that day, if I'm working at home or at the office, if hubs has class that night, what our evening plans are, how many new recipes I'm trying, how many things create left overs, what variety in his lunches he will want, and of course...what is on sale at the store.

I managed to get everything I needed for the full week just under budget.... sixty six cents under. I did stock up on a few good deals I found, so I was excited about that. I informed hubs that we aren't allowed to buy any more groceries until next week no matter what. I'm sticking to it too... I realized today that I'm missing cilantro for my soup tonight. Oh well. It will taste just fine without it.

Here's the plan:

kel - housework only, no evening plans
Breakfast: hubs - oatmeal on the go (woke up late), me - eggs & toast
Lunch: PB sandwich & lunch out; me - burrito (my favorite - you'll see this a lot)
Dinner: Fajita bowls (make four servings)

Friday: kel work at home, no evening plans
Breakfast: poached eggs on english muffin
Lunch: hubs - left over fajita bowl; me - burrito w/ friend visiting
Dinner: White chicken chili and cheese quesedillas

Saturday: kel - bsf at 7:00; appt at 4pm; b-day dinner for dad at 6pm
Breakfast: kel - poached egg and toast; together - oatmeal
Lunch: left over white chicken chili
Dinner: Out with in-laws for birthday dinner

Sunday: church in am, small group at 6pm
Breakfast: poached eggs & toast; homemade lattes
Lunch: tuna melts or grilled ham & cheese, apples, soup
Dinner: hot dogs and french fries
Prep: Start oatmeal in crockpot

Monday: kel - work at office, bsf - leave at 5:45
Breakfast: Crockpot irish oatmeal
Lunch: kel - out; hubs - sandwich
Dinner: kel - yogurt & granola; hubs - left over white chicken chili

Tuesday: kel - work at home
Breakfast: left over irish oatmeal with scrambled eggs
Lunch: kel - burrito; hubs - left over fajita bowl
Dinner: Shepherd's Pie (new recipe)

Wednesday: kel - work at home; hubs - class - leave at 6pm
Breakfast: poached eggs and toast
Lunch: kel - burrito; hubs - left over shepherd's pie
Dinner: Pizza muffins

That's it! Phew - that took me forever to do yesterday. I love the process though - I think it will get easier each week. So far, we're right on track!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Spend to save?

As I start off on a new path of frugality (see the last post), I'm struggling with something I've faced every single time I start a new effort to save money.

When I think of the ways I want to start saving money, they cause me to want to spend money. Normally, I don't struggle with this too much (because I just go ahead and buy), but this time, I'm trying to really question myself. Is this really a smart purchase? Or is this just spending cloaked as saving? Ugh... I can really turn this into a mental game.
Case in point:

In order to stop using disposable coffee cups at our weekly church small-group gathering, I'd like to buy a set of fifty cent mugs from Ikea. $6-12 up front, depending on how many I buy. I don't think I can do better than this at a thrift store, and if it's about the same price, I'd prefer a matching set. If I buy the neat mug storage box from Container Store, it's an additional $16.

In order to cook dinner at home more consistently, it would be enormously helpful if I could cook more dinners ahead of time and freeze them. It would be very difficult to do this in our current freezer - it just doesn't hold much. I already buy meat ahead of time when it's on sale, so that takes up most of the space. So, I'd like to get a small (7cu?) chest freezer for the garage. At Sears, I can get one for about $200. Oh, how I would love one of these! I have no idea if it's better to get a chest freezer or upright. Any opinions?

Of course, to pre-freeze meals, I keep getting stuck when I try to figure out what you freeze them in. I'm really wanting to freeze casseroles, lasagnas, etc. - things I can fully pop in the oven when I get home. I only have a couple casserole dishes, so I can't keep these in the freezer. It seems to me that I'd need to stock up on some disposable pans, and then keep re-using them.
What do other people do for this?

These are just a few examples. This is how my mind works. I really don't know how to save money without spending money. Perhaps this is just how it is - that to start doing things frugally, it takes an upfront investment. Perhaps, I'm just a spendy and like to fool myself. The insane part is that I truly don't know which one is right. I'm a bit paralyzed in my spending self-doubt.
- kel.