Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: Support System 11-30

"You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with." The quote goes something like that, doesn't it? I'm thankful to have a marriage that has lasted over 14 years so far. I am thankful to have three beautiful children who people don't mind being around. I'm thankful for my God, my family, my church and my friends.

I used to think I knew what it took to have a good marriage. Then I got married. I used to think I knew how to be the best parent. Until I had kids. I always know how to do things better than everyone else until I start walking down that path. The truth is, I don't know how to do anything. The wonderful ideas I come up with more often than not originate someplace else. I am thankful for my support system. Without God, family, friends and community, I would be lost.

It is because I always have someone walking with me that I have so much to be thankful for.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: 11-29

It is so easy to get into the comparison game. Too often, I find myself determining my happiness based off of a changing factor (whehter or not the scale goes down; what kind of total is in the bank account; how many friends I've heard from in the day).

Today I am thankful that true joy comes from a constant source that is unchanging. Happiness and joy are different and while my circumstances may determine my happiness, I can experience joy in all circumstances.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thankful Tidbits 11-28

I escaped into a novel today. I absolutely love to read. It can drown out the worries of the world. I feel like I'm right there in the middle of the story experiencing life with the characters. A good author can create a whole new world. I really enjoy getting lost in a good book.

Right now, I'm engrossed in the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, "A November Christmas". There's something about a good movie that leaves me longing to be there in the moment. I'm left counting my blessings with this one.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: 60 years - 11-27

Can you imagine yourself married for 60 years? Today, my family celebrated 60 years of marriage for my maternal grandparents. My grandparents love God and love each other. My grandpa told me as I was leaving tonight that the key to a long marriage is to pray for your marriage. I believe him.

We watched a video today of their 50th anniversary. My dad and niece did a skit back then dressed up as my Grandma & Grandpa (yes, my dad was my Grandma and my niece was my Grandpa). It was fun to watch but I have to admit it left me missing my dad again. He wasn't there to memorialize the moment with another skit. He wasn't there laughing in the background. I don't get to look forward to celebrating any kind of milestone like that for my parents and it's not because they didn't love each other. It's simply because he's gone. I am grateful for home videos and the memories that come flooding back because of them. I am grateful that my mom played the video despite the pain it must bring back to hear his voice.

I hope and pray I get to celebrate many milestones with my husband. I'm thankful for today and every day I get to spend with him. Life is better because he is mine.

I've got plenty to be thankful for...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thankful Tidbits 11-26

Black Friday is the day to grab up as many deals as I can and finish up as much Christmas shopping as possible. More importantly, it is a day that I get to spend with my cousin and friend, Kelly. Not many people would spend all day on Thanksgiving with me and then head out before the day is even over to go shopping until the middle of the afternoon the next day. Thanks, Kelly, for a day of conversation, love, laughter & memories!

I am also grateful for the magic of Christmas that appears when I get home. My husband and girls decorate the tree while I am out. This year, I was surprised by the magic of Christmas as I pulled onto my street and saw Christmas lights on the outside of the house. It is only one string of lights that used to belong to my husband's grandpa. This year, the adorned our front porch and brightened up our street. It reminds me of the many times my dad would load us into the van to drive around and admire the Christmas lights everyone had up outside. I am grateful for the way my husband and girls turned the house around in one day.

Now, I am thankful for my warm house and bed (I can never express enough gratitude for these) as I get to catch up on all the sleep I missed last night.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful Tidbits 11-25

I am thankful, today, for our home and family to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: holidays 11-24

I am so grateful for days that my husband is home. There is just something relaxing, restful and peaceful about being together as a family. If there is no agenda, that's the best but even with a schedule to keep, I'd rather have him home. I realize work is necessary and I am so very grateful that he wakes up every morning and goes to work to earn money for our family. Today, I am grateful for holidays. I'm grateful for the time we get together as a family.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thankful Tidbits - Thoughtfulness - 11-23

Sometimes you just wish for a little bit of thoughtfulness. So many people seem to be out for themselves without any consideration for anyone else. Thinking of others doesn't come naturally anymore.

It was nice to receive a card in the mail today from a friend inviting me out for coffee sometime. It's always nice to know someone is thinking of you. There are times we wonder if we are alone in this world. Thoughtfulness as small as a note can carry me through the day.

Yesterday, I watched my daughter get off the bus and walk down the street to our house. One of our neighbors was out mowing his lawn. I watched Nikelle pass the neighbor's house. He didn't stop to look at her so she continued to watch. When he gave her eye contact, she waved and he waved in return. It was nice to see my 8-year-old being thoughtful and taking time to smile and wave to a neighbor. I praised her for doing so.

My husband takes my birthday off every year when he can. He's thoughtful that way. Every now and then he'll come up with a really good gift. Unfortunately, when he does, something always ruins it. One year, he went to buy me a watch at Dick Pond's. Unfortunately, I was there looking at running shoes. He bought me a stocking hat and gloves as well for running and his sister gave me the same gift. Last year, he bought me Fireproof for Christmas and some friends of ours gave us the same gift before he had the opportunity to give it to me. This year, that same friend gave me a book by an author whose book I just enjoyed reading. My husband informed me that he was going to need some time to go shopping again because he had just bought me the exact same book. Although his gifts don't always get to me the way he pictures, I am grateful for his thoughtfulness.

It's just nice to experience thoughtfulness in today's day and age. There are many more examples. These are just highlights from the last couple of days. I am thankful for thoughtful people.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thankful Tidbits - Virtual Perfection - 11-22

We will never have 100% of what we want. There is always something we will want to see changed. At church, over the past weeks, we have been reminded of "virtual perfection". When you have 85% of what you want; when you are happy with 85% of what is going on in your life, you have achieved virtual perfection. Too easily, we put all our energy and attention on the 15% that we would love to see changed. We need to focus on the 85%. You can catch the sermons here entitled 85% is virtual perfection from 1-6-2008 and the prison break series from the last few Sundays.

More often than not, I think of myself as someone who chooses to focus on the 85%. Reality is that I too often, my focus is on the negative 15%. Unfortunately, I do this most often in the relationships that should be at the top of my list of blessings. Today, I am going to work on focusing on the positive 85% or virtual perfection in my life. I Thank God for the abundance of blessings in my life.

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." - Philippians 4:11-13

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thankful Tidbits - humility - 11-21

Last night, I reached into my bag and found two dimes and a nickel. Hmmm...

Looks like maybe I didn't help the guy out at Aldi as much as I thought. Good thing I didn't know his name and smear it all over my blog. Yikes!

Funny how moments come along like this just to show me that I am not better than all the rest. I shouldn't be comparing myself to others, only to God's standards. I am always in need of a good dose of humility.

Today, I'm thankful God keeps my attitude in check with a bit of humility here and there.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thankful Tidbits - Unexpected Surprises 11-20

"Good deeds" boost your spirit a bit, don't they? Whether you are on the receiving end or the giving end, a good deed can change your entire outlook on the day. In today's world, they come as little unexpected surprises.

Last night, I ran some errands with the girls. On our way home, I remembered that I forgot to get eggs and milk. Cosidering those are pretty standard breakfast staples, I knew we needed to stop despite the strong urge I had to go straight home. Getting the kids out the van one more time could lead to a potential breakdown (by them or me).

The girls cooperated splendidly and I was even able to remember all the ingredients off the top of my head that I needed to make soup. As I was loading the groceries into the van, I was not looking forward to returning the cart. I know, however, that returning the cart to the corral is the right thing to do, it sets an example for my children, and at Aldi it means saving 25 cents as well.

Just as I was about to pull Ande out of the trunk (it was either have her there or climbing out of the cart on her own), a man came up to me with his daughter and asked if he could take my cart. He held out his hand to give me the 25 cents. "I don't have a quarter." (This happenes all the time at Aldi where someone asks to take the cart because they only have odd change rather than the needed quarter to retrieve a shopping cart.) I smiled and with a little bit of excitement and relief in my voice, excalimed, "Of course! Thank you!" He had no idea that he was doing me a favor by taking that cart. It was so much easier to just get Ande buckled into her seat and leave. Whether the man saw me with the kids and thought he'd be helping me out or I was helping him out, it didn't matter. It was a little unexpected surprise and it felt good.

As I was sorting through receipts this morning, I found another unexpected suprise - 12 cents. This man cheated me. I'm glad that I didn't realize he shortchanged me until this morning. I felt as though the man helped me by taking the cart. Which he did, just not as honestly and kindly as I had first assumed. The truth of the matter is that I seemed to have helped him in a bigger way than he helped me.

I wonder what made the man feel the need to deceive me? I wonder if he gave any thought to the fact that his daughter was witnessing his lies (whether she knew it or not)? I wonder what his financial situation is? I wonder if I would lie over something as little as 13 cents? It's only 13 cents... and it makes me wonder...

Am I willing to compromise my values over 13 cents, to cover my own embarassment or simply for a little convenience? If we allow a little wiggle room in the small stuff, how will we ever be found faithful when it comes to things that really matter?

And while it may seem to him that he came out of the situation with the better deal, he is mistaken. I almost feel even better that I was able to help him out because he felt the need to lie. Earlier in the evening, $10 I wasn't expecting in a return I made as well as a lonely $10 bill laying on the ground last night, came as unexpected surprises. I took these as little reminders from God that He will take care of me. Whether I am being cheated out of 13 cents or my own neglect is costing us a new set of garage doors. I am thankful for God's unexpected surprises.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: family 11-18

The domino effect is a chain reaction that occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then will cause another similar change. It seems that when one bad thing happens it causes another bad thing to happen. Sometimes the only way to stop it is to go to sleep.

Nikelle had a rough night at AWANA last night. Her finger was run over by one of he scooters. Later in the night she was looking for me and when I called from behind her she twisted her ankle as she turned around. She attempted to be strong and prevent the tears from coming but it was the final straw for her. She looked exhausted.

My brother was there picking up his girls. He offered Nikelle a piggy back ride to the van. It was the perfect medicine! (That, and some sleep on the ride home.) I was very grateful to my brother for offering her that kind of V.I.P. treatment (which she was certain to inform her daddy of this morning).

Last night, I was reminded to be thankful for my siblings. My brothers and sister love my girls almost as much as I do. We celebrate birthdays and the bigger holidays together and still find time to get together for other reasons, too. My girls are always asking to play with their cousins and they know nothing but love for their aunts and uncles. Sometimes we need a little reminder to be grateful for family. Today, I am thankful for mine.

Thankful Tidbits: Full Calendar 11-19

It seems as though the busyness of life always attempts to steal my joy. I do my best to live for today but if I don't plan for tomorrow I may regret it later. My calendar is full. This year I have hung a weekly calendar on my wall rather than a monthly calendar so it doesn't appear quite as (stress)full. That has helped a lot. I am also learning to be okay with saying "no".

I am thankful for my full calendar. It is a reminder that I am never far from family and friends. My life is overflowing with blessings and surrounded with love. I am thankful for the busyness of life which reminds me to be thankful for friends and family.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: God's Intimate Whispers 11-17

Days like today are a good reminder of the fact that I serve a God who wants an intimate relationship with me. My God cares about the details of my life. He cares when I hurt. He shares in my joy. He accepts me for me and still wants the best for my life.

As I read the Bible today (which I do literally take as God’s words to me), I read these verses in Ezekiel 36:26: “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” These verses are a reminder to me of years past (early in my marriage) that my heart had grown cold. I often didn’t feel and when I did feel, I didn’t have hope. My husband’s cousin gave me a book with inspirational writings. In it was one on this verse. I took it as God’s whisper to me. I answered, “O.K., God. I’m tired of being cold. Take my heart and make it moldable again.” I am still amazed at how I began to feel again.

I starred James 1:5 in my Bible today which reads, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.” I have been struggling with some upcoming responsibilities that I feel less than prepared for. I feel inadequate and nervous that I will screw something up. This was a reminder after I had asked Him for help that this is exactly what He desires.

I also starred James 1:12 as a reminder that when I am asking God to help me overcome situations, often I will be faced with those very situations. How else will I overcome? “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” I love when it as though the Bible was written directly to me!

I think God often whispers to me and then it is up to me if I want to choose to take the time to listen. It is my choice if I embrace what He wants me to hear. He wants to be intimately involved in my life. I just need to take the time to talk and listen to Him.

Today, I am thankful for an intimate God as well as His whispers to me.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: You 11-16

Most days, I write and don't really think about who it is that is reading my blog. It's not because I don't want to target my audience, it is simply too defeating to think that I don't have anyone following my blog. Reality is that I know there are a few and even at that I can count the number without taking my shoes off.

I came across Six Things Every Christian Blogger Needs to Know at (In)Courage. Here is the part that Ann Voskamp wrote that hit me:

"In the upside down blogging kingdom we commit to set our sights on God and not sitemeters. And in the upside down kingdom of blogging the only number that matters is One:

The One who has called you
The One who is your audience
The One who gives you your gifts
And the One to whom you give the gifts back to…
All that matters is the Lord God who is One.

I say this too quietly to the blogosphere:

Jesus Himself had only 12 followers.
And He lost one.
So if Jesus had only 12 followers… how many followers do we really need? If God Himself had only 12 followers and He lost one — would you blog for even one follower?"

I easily feel defeated that I'm not good enough. "I can't write like so and so." "Wow! How does someone paint a picture with their words that way?" "Will I ever achieve any dreams?" "Maybe I need to go to school."

Here is what it boils down to: I write because it draws me closer to God. I write because when I am done, I feel a bit tighter in my relationship with Him. If no one else was reading my blog, I would still write. What a great reminder! I write for Him!

Ahhh... but then there are you; the faithful few blog followers. Today, I am thankful for you; the faithful who read my blog and those who stop in every now and then to read a post. I write because writing helps my heart. I write because I believe it pleases my Father God. But I also write because I KNOW of you few who read. Thanks for encouraging me.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thankful Tidbits 11-15

My brain just doesn't function the way it should. After going to lunch with a friend, I decided to shop at Strack and Van Til because I was nearby. I made my purchases (even stayed with my list and used coupons) only to come home, put the groceries away, go on with my day and get home tonight around 8pm to realize I didn't bring home the 4lbs of grapes I purchased. (When my groceries were bag two bags were put in the baby seat area and the bag of grapes was put in the main part. I stupidly didn't check the entire cart before I left.)

Today I am thankful for Strack and Van Til and whoever turned in the grapes they found in the shopping cart. When I called, they assured me that I could come in and they would let me get more grapes.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: Day of Rest 11-14

I am thankful today for a day of rest. Time to worship. Time with friends. Time to forget about the to-do list. Rest.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: Family Pets 11-13

Pets truly become part of your family, don’t they? Just over 11 years ago, my brother’s dog had puppies. It took a lot of begging during a vacation out west for my husband to agree to get one. My husband chose the one light colored dog from the litter. I had no complaints. I was just thrilled to be getting a dog. We named our dog “Pup”. It may seem like a name we chose because we were too lazy to come up with a name but that is not the case. I don’t really recall the names I tossed out at the moment but I knew I didn’t want to be yelling “Cleopatra” when we were looking for our lost dog. “Pup” was the name we could agree on. And really, her name still appropriately fits her 11 years later.

From that same litter of puppies, my sister took home Pup’s sister, Cinnamon. Pup and Cinnamon played rough. We were never really quite certain if they were playing or going to cause some serious damage to one another. It was fun to have share puppies from the same litter of our brother’s dogs.

Cinnamon had some health issues when she was little. I remember the tears and concern expressed back then. Thankfully, she was able to get healthy and enjoy life. Yesterday, sadly, Cinnamon took her last breath. It happened quickly. My sister and niece both expressed how she seemed fine just a few days ago. My heart hurt as I saw her head turn to acknowledge me when I got to their house yesterday while she didn’t move from the spot she was resting on. This was very unlike her usual lively greetings and it was obvious she wasn’t feeling herself. My sister noticed Cinnamon’s labored breathing and was concerned about the choice they were going to have to make. Thankfully, that choice did not need to be made.

It tore my heart to see my nieces and nephews in pain yesterday over their loss. It is never easy when we have to say goodbye. Today, I am reminded to be a little kinder to our own dog. The reality of her age and lack of tomorrow’s guarantee are at the forefront of my mind.

To those that didn’t know Cinnamon (and Pup, too, for that matter), one may have thought twice before going near her. To those of us who did know her, she was sweet as pie. Cinnamon loved to greet you and be greeted. She was nothing but full of love for those in her family. I will always look for her nose sniffing under the fence to greet me when I go to my sister’s house. I will always think of her when I pet our own dog, her sister.

I am thankful for Cinnamon. I am thankful for the way she was part of my extended family. Family pets have a way of entering our hearts and always remaining there.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: Day of Fun - 11-12

When my girls get a day off of school, I enjoy having those days to utilize lazy mornings for myself to get things accomplished. I don’t have to get anyone anywhere at any time. It is amazing how much more I get done on those types of days. Needless to say, I am not one of those moms who do a great job of scheduling fun (or even taking time out for fun).

Yesterday, my girls were off for Veteran’s Day. My mother-in-law asked if she could take the older two to the American Girl store in Chicago. Knowing Jaycie’s fears and lack of get-up-and-go (at 5-years-old, she still wants to be pushed in the stroller more often than her 2-year-old sister), my husband and I decided that I needed to go with. While the girls were over the top excited, I was having an inner battle with what needed to be accomplished around the house.

The girls dressed up for their special lunch reservations and made certain their dolls were fancy as well. Nikelle has the American Girl Doll, Felicity, and Jaycie has a Bitty Baby (American Girl’s way of assuring they hit every age target). Nikelle was kind enough to pick up all the toys off the family room floor before we left so my mind could be more in the moment and we were off to meet Grandma by 9:30 in the morning.

Jaycie was not looking forward to the train ride. She loses most of her senses with loud noises and train whistles were high on her list of concerns. While she latched on to me in the parking lot, she was at peace with the quiet once we were inside the train car. (She did ride with holding my hand or touching me the entire commute to Chicago.) Nikelle had been on the train with Grandma once before so she was prepared and excited to experience the ride in the seats upstairs. Once we reached Union Station, it was back to being unreasonable to my explanations as I informed Jaycie there were “no worries” and picked her up until we were away from the loud noises of the trains.

We stopped at their Auntie Rhonda’s office to say hello and then caught the bus over to Water Tower Place. Jaycie commented that she liked the bus ride much better because there were no loud whistles. Nikelle was certain to follow Daddy’s rules and stay close by to Grandma and Mommy the whole way. Once we reached the CafĂ©, we were escorted to our table and the girls were given special chairs that attached to the table for their dolls. We were given mini cinnamon rolls and drinks to start our experience and their dolls were given special cups and saucers for the event. We enjoyed appetizers, main courses of pizza for Nikelle and chicken tenders with soup and a fruit kabob for Jaycie, followed up with bitty cakes, cookies and chocolate mousse for dessert.

It was so fun to watch the girls take care of their dolls and take on a “grown-up” roll. It really was like going to tea. My heart swelled with gratitude that I was able to be a part of the experience. We were off to browse the store after lunch only having to stop once or twice to explain to Jaycie why we were not purchasing another Bitty Baby or other expensive items during our visit. The girls were really well behaved which only added to the experience.

Noticing time had gotten away from us, we had to catch a taxi rather than the bus to get back to the train on time. Running through Union Station as I carried Jaycie was not as easy as it was when she was little. We got on the train shortly before it left the station and headed home this time on the main part of the train in seats facing one another. (Thanks to a kind gentleman who volunteered to switch seats so the girls could ride together once he saw Nikelle’s face and heard her disappointment on not being with her sister.)

The girls entertained themselves by browing the American Girl catalog and drawing as we traveled home. After a few stops along the way, my little 5-year-old mute surprised me by turning around on the train, standing up and shouting, "Why are we stopping here?" "Why are we stopping here?" Two men, obviously amused by her, looked over and smiled (I'm certain others were looking, too, but I didn't look around to observe.) I laughed as I told her to sit down and be quiet. I think it was a sign that my daughters truly enjoyed their day.

We didn’t return home until close to 5:00 p.m. It was a long day filled with fun that I am grateful their grandma planned. I am also grateful that I was able to share in the memory. It should really remind me that there is importance in taking time out for fun.

I just finished reading this post at MomLife Today. It was another good reminder that I need to take more time out for fun.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thankful Tidbits 11-11

Today we honor our veterans. I am thankful for the men and women who fight and give their lives for our freedom. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: The lost - 11-10

The other day, I realized my daughter’s hat was missing. It is a cute pink hat that has a matching scarf (the kind that slides over your head and onto your neck so you won’t lose it) that her grandma gave her. It really bugged me that we didn’t have any idea what happened to the hat. This is the kind of thing that drives me crazy. Almost anything I lose will consume my thoughts until it is found.

I remember a time in high school when I lost my favorite necklace. It was a heart with a mustard seed in it reminding me that faith can move mountains. I cleaned every little spot in my room. (I’ve never been really good at keeping things clean so this took some time.) I prayed and prayed and prayed that God would help me find it. The necklace was a gift and something I treasured. Finally, I sat down exhausted of knowing where else to search. I had no idea where the necklace could be. I got off the bed to move a framed picture for the wall that was sitting on the floor waiting to be put up when I felt the necklace on its hanging hook on the back. This moment was one of many that taught me that God cares about the little details of my life.

As I look back on the moment now, sermons resonate in my mind about the lost coin, the lost sheep and the lost son. God cares about the lost. The way my heart and mind are consumed as I look for a lost item, God pursues the lost. I am thankful that God cares about the lost.

My daughter put on a sweatshirt the other day and exclaimed, “There’s something in my sleeve!” With a smile, she pulled out the missing hat. It’s so exciting when what is lost is now found!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thankful Tidbits - 11-9

I turn into somewhat of a zombie after 9pm most nights. I'm just one of those early to bed; early to rise kind of people. With this fall back time change, however, that means it is difficult for me to stay up past 8pm. While daylight savings time seems like a great concept, it always messes with my household. Our bodies are used to eating and sleeping at certain times. My children still wake up at the same time they did before only it's an hour earlier. Not to mention that because we are attempting to get back into our usual routine, they are actually losing an hour of sleep because we aren't putting them to bed any earlier. The kids are a bit crabby and I can't say I'm peaches and cream over here myself.

This morning Rod made coffee before he left for work because he was up in the middle of the night rebooting a machine for work that had gone down. (I am very grateful for his laptop and remote connection by the way.) My husband made extra coffee and I have some sitting in the pot for myself. He certainly has his moments of being considerate. I just started drinking coffee in the last couple of years. It has to be flavored or be accompanied by flavored creamer. This morning, I am thankful for coffee and flavored creamer. I'm also thankful for a considerate husband.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thankful tidbits - 11-8

I'm thankful for so much today. Money to pay bills; Good health to enjoy walking outside; good friends and one in particular who allotted time to spend with me today; days without children; sleeping children; sleep. I'm thankful for sleep. This time change has our house a bit messed up. Hoping it changes in a few days. Goodnight.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thankful Tidbits - Stay-at-Home Mom - Nov. 7th

It seems that everyone is getting hit in some way by the bad economy these days. I realize that I created our own financial problems by backing into the garage door, but it seems we just continue to get hit. Our escrow for our taxes is too low so our mortgage payment is going up. My husband’s insurance is not only going to take a larger chunk out of his paycheck each month but we will no longer be so easily covered by the insurance either. Rod went to get the oil changed on his car yesterday. He was informed that his tires were bald. He was then informed of some work that needed to be done fairly soon on his vehicle that would cost an amount of money we simply do not have. He got the tires for reasons of safety but told them that the rest had to wait.

It is draining to deal with the finances. I enjoyed life so much more when Rod handled the finances early in our marriage (all in his head) and I just spent the money knowing nothing about what was happening with the checkbook. A few thousand in credit card debt later, we learned this system simply doesn’t work. These days, we attempt to be proactive with our finances. We have our budget (although rather loose) laid out for the entire year. I have been looking at the grocery ads to find deals and couponing with Jill Catlado’s help. It just seems we should be moving in the positive direction at the bank, not depleting the small amount we have built up.

I’m working on the attitude of gratitude when it comes to our finances. This morning I read this post at (In)courage. I am reminded that staying home is a choice. Being a stay-at-home mom is a privilege. . I am grateful to be a stay-at-home mom. I’m working on determining what we can cut so I can continue to do this and stay on top of the finances. And I’m trusting God with the rest. He’s never let us down before.

Thank you, Lord, that although we may need to cut back, you allow me to stay home with the kids.
Thank you, Rod, for working hard hours so I can do what we believe God wants me to do.

Philippians 4:19 - "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: Wounds from a Friend - Nov. 6th

Proverbs 27:6 – “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.”

When the wound from a friend is fresh, I am in complete disagreement with this verse. It hurts when a friend points out my… uh… shortcomings. Looking back in hindsight, however, I am allowed to realize the value of these "wounds" and more importantly, the friend.

There is one moment burned into my memory that reminds me of the truth of this verse. Early in my marriage, I was out with two friends. One friendship was on a much deeper level than the other but the three of us were out together nonetheless. We were enjoying some ice cream and conversation. (I believe that was what I was doing. The ice cream part is fuzzy to me but seems to be a likely choice.)

I don’t remember exactly what it was that I was saying. I simply remember that my words were not very encouraging about my husband. It might have even been one of those “husband bashing” moments. My girlfriend (who has been one of my very best friends for years) lent a listening ear. She’s great about that. That’s one of the reasons I love her so much. The other friend (who was really more on the level of an acquaintance at the time) lent a listening ear but then had the audacity to touch her fingers to her lips as she spoke to me. “Be careful about the words you allow to come out of your mouth about your husband. The way you speak about your husband will affect your feelings toward him. Make sure you speak kindly to others about your husband.”

To say I was furious would be an understatement. I did not understand where she got off telling me what I should say about MY husband. Was she even invited to join my actual friend and myself for the evening or did she invite herself?

Hindsight changed my opinion. Today, I am thankful for this dear friend. We have begun scheduling dates on the calendar for breakfast to catch up. I look forward to my time with this friend who took the time to call me out. She is someone I now actively seek advice from. She’s had more experience in life than me and I am interested as to how she has handled different situations.

The confrontation with this friend changed my life. It told me how much she valued me. She believed in me enough and in my marriage to risk the potential friendship at hand. I often remember her words as I talk about my husband. Oh, sure, I still have my moments of complaining, but more often than not, I remember to speak positively about my husband. True to her words, I feel better about my husband after 14+ years of marriage than I did early on. It probably has a big part to do with finding the positive about him and sharing that with others.

That best friend who simply listened to me that night still listens. We’ve come a long way in our friendship and she has often "wounded" me to make me better as well. This only makes her friendship more valuable.

It may be painful in the moment, but the wounds from a friend certainly are better than the empty flattery of someone else. I am thankful for the wounds from sincere friends because it reveals how very much they care.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thankful Tidbits - November 5

Tonight I am especially thankful for Rocky Road ice cream. Oberweis to be exact.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: Moms - November 4th

I often wonder if God did the right thing by blessing me with three little girls. Not that He should have given me something else; just that I may not be the best for them. I’m fairly critical of myself in my job of motherhood. Life easily overwhelms me and I am not great at being intentional with my children. Oh, sure, I have good moments. I am by no means disqualified to be a mom. I just get caught up in the comparison game too often.

That is why I am thankful for my mom and mother-in-law. My mom regularly comes out once a week to give me a day to spend time doing whatever it is I want to do. My mother-in-law is pretty good about taking the girls overnight or babysitting when we need her to. These breaks from the mundane allow me to be a better wife and mother. There are many reasons I am grateful for our moms. This week, I am thankful for how very much they help me.

So moms, as Ande would say, “Thank you much!”

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: Seasons - November 3rd

I think I am one of the rare few who actually enjoy living in the Chicago area. The weather this past October was just about perfect! At the same time, I welcome the way November is boldly warning us that winter is quickly approaching. I love the way the chilly breeze fills my lungs. The fragrance of burning wood floating from the chimneys and permeating the outside air brings back fond memories that pull at my heartstrings. And my children are certain to help me anticipate the holidays and the first snowfall of winter.

Although fall is my favorite and I love the white covering in the winter, I am usually very much ready to welcome spring when it arrives. The heat of summer is also a nice break from the rain. I welcome the dry weather so I don’t have to wonder if the dog will get muddy when I put her outside. I enjoy each of the seasons and welcome the change that they bring.

I am thankful for the changing seasons. It is only when the freeze of winter is keeping me couped up inside that I look forward to the summer. In the heat of summer I remember the relief of the other seasons and remember to enjoy the opportunities to swim outside and bask in the sun with my girls.

It’s the same with life. The changing seasons allow us to say goodbye to the past and look forward to what is to come. There is time for reminiscing and a time for hope. Each season has a purpose and I am grateful for the seasons. Sometimes I wish one could last a little longer or that one would be cut a little short but it is in the one season that I learn to appreciate the others.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 - "For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: Founding Fathers - November 2nd

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I am grateful to our Founding Fathers. I am grateful that not only did they believe all men are created equal and declare our rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, but that they understood where all of these “rights” came from. “They are endowed by their Creator.” I am grateful that even though our country screams for separation of church and state in a way that was never intended by our forefathers, that our country was founded on Godly principles. It comes down to the core. We have a Creator. Life starts with Him and therefore, He knows the best for my life.

Psalm 19:1-4 - “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth and their words to all the world.”

Romans 1:19-20 – “They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thankful Tidbits: Freedom of Choice - November 1st

Election Day is tomorrow. Quite a few years ago, a friend of mine ran for an elected position. I learned a few things during that campaign. The mudslinging that goes on often comes from some slight shred of truth that is at times twisted beyond recognition. Although I know this, I’ve found myself confused with many of the political ads I find in my mailbox. One in particular is when it comes to Justice Tom Kilbride. One day, I’m certain I will not vote to retain him where the next I think I should. I realized that rather than just be frustrated with the confusion from all the information out there, I needed to do the research for myself. Here is one site from The Illinois Federation for Right to Life. I was very grateful for the information I look for on the priority issues I start with when determining who to vote for.

Another tidbit of information I got from that race was that party affiliation (although revealing a small bit about the candidate) really is not much more than a way to get financing for the campaign. If a candidate does not associate with one of the political parties out there, loss is almost inevitable. When it comes to the race for U.S. Senator, I find myself disgusted with both the Democratic and Republican candidates. How does one even choose? There are actually candidates from other parties out there. Check out this site from the Illinois Citizens for Life.

I want to be educated on the candidates and the issues. Culture Campaign has information for you about the candidates as well. You can go directly to a candidate’s website for information and you can go to your County Clerk’s website to find an example ballot if you are uncertain as to who your candidates even are.

Politics disgust most of us but tomorrow is more than a day for politics. It is a day to display our gratitude for our freedom in this country. Today is November 1st and I use my blog for a time of grateful reflection this month. I am thankful for free will. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to make my own choices. Election Day is a good reminder of this. I have the opportunity to express my opinion through voting. I for one, am going to have my say!