Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Beginnings of Modesty

So when does modesty become self-sanctioned? For years we would tell our boys that they needed to close the door when they went to the bathroom, that running around naked using a bathtowel as your cape is not appropriate when we have company, underwear is not to be used as a hat, and clothes are to remain zipped and buttoned until the bathroom or bedroom doors are closed. They seemed to catch on from an obedience perspective, but not from a personal morality view.

But all of a sudden our 'au naturel' 8 year old boys are becoming modest (about time!). They don't want their sisters to be anywhere near when it's bath time (although they still do the superman act on occasion regardless of who is around). On occasion I've even seen them slip under the covers to get dressed for school.

Modesty has hit an all time high this week, though. I have to say that I'm glad, since we have twin 8-year old girls spending the week with us. They both want doors closed before they even consider changing clothes, and this morning Kevin brought his dirty clothes to me...underwear securely wrapped up an hidden inside a shirt and then a pair of pants...just in case! All of a sudden those Sponge Bob briefs don't seem quite so model-worthy!

While I don't miss those days, I will always remember fondly the morning they discovered that their 'private parts' would bounce when they jumped. Hmmm...I'll have to retell that one often when they are older!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Win a Devotional Book!

This week I am giving away a copy of the new devotional, 101 Cups of Water. This is a nice, hardback book that really cuts to the heart of Christianity. If you would like to win a copy, go to my blog at His Reading List and leave a comment on the write up about this book. Be sure to leave information so I can contact you! I will draw a winner on Friday.

Our God Is Into the Details

I'm still trying to finish up my 'Bible in a Year' assignment from last year. I didn't finish on time, but I'm determined to at least finish! At one point in time I was pretty far behind and I decided to skip ahead to the assigned texts for the day and come back later to catch up.

So, that brings me to my reading today in Ezekiel, chapters 40 - 42. This is not one of the most exciting passages to read. The Israelites have been exiled for 25 years, and God gave Ezekial a vision of the new temple of Israel. With a linen cord and a measuring rod, a man measured out the temple in front of Ezekiel, ordering him to pay attention to everything he is being show. He is to tell the house of Israel everything he sees.

Then, for the next 2 1/2 chapters, you get excruciating details of the length and height of each portion of the temple. We learn the direction things are to face, the type of decorations to be carved, even the placement of the windows.

As I struggled to read through all this detail, I wondered why it was so important for us to know these things. I'm sure it was vital for the Israelites 45 years later when they returned to rebuild the temple, but couldn't they have used the blue prints from the original temple?

But it occurred to me that, while this seems to be overly specific, our God is definitely into details. He could tell us to just build a temple, but in our feeble imaginations and abilities we wouldn't do a proper job. He wants us to succeed, so he spells out all the details we need to know in order to get it right.

God does the same thing for us today. He's provided great levels of detail about how we are to live our lives -- to do all things without arguing or complaining, to respect our husbands, to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, all of our strength, and all of our soul. He provides a very detailed blueprint for our lives if we will only follow it.

Unfortunately, some days I'm sure that the temple I'm building for him in my own body is ready to crumble, shored up with duct tape and coat hangers. But block by block he's helping me to repair my weak foundation and to build a strong eternity. I don't want to cut any corners on this one!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Making Preparations

Well, I finally faced the monster yesterday and cleaned out our freezer! I was amazed to realize how much stuff we really had down there -- I only buy meat when it is $2.00 or less per pound, and that doesn't come around too often. I made an inventory of everything and posted it on the top (a little anal, I know). I was also pleased that not too much was expired. I hate when that happens -- it's such a waste.

I sat down with my list and made out menus for the month of February. I basically just plugged in a type of meat or fish each day so we didn't have three or four days of chicken in a row, then I went back to figure out what to make with that meat. For the most part I don't have to make any 'concoctions'...however Doug and the kids have already started making plans to be somewhere else on fish nights! I promised that the exact meal we would have was subject to my mood -- I reserve the right to move things around however I want. That scared them!

It's quite possible I could do this for TWO months. I've stocked up recently on chicken and ground beef, so we have lots of opportunities. Before I cleaned out the freezer I was ready to run to Schnucks -- they have a great deal this week on ground beef. But I realized that I have nine pounds of it (already cooked) in the freezer, plus two meat loaves and ten hamburgers! I guess I need to put a top limit on how much I buy regardless of the price.

My next 'final frontiers' are the freezer over the fridge (so full of tater tots and hash browns that it tries to attack you when you open it) and the pantry.

So, anyone have any good fish recipes?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

February Challenge?

Our freezer is full. Although I'm usually the one who puts things away in there, I'm not really sure what we have underneath the top layer. And every week I get more special deals to try to fit in.

So Doug and I decided that we are going to take a big challenge in February. We will spend the month 'eating down' our inventory of food. My goal is to spend $20 or less each week just buying milk, eggs, and fresh fruit/veggies. We want to see how much money we can save by not shopping, and we'll clean out the freezer and pantry in the process! We want to donate the savings to a food bank...seems like a worthy cause!

I'm preparing ahead for this effort or I know we won't make it. I plan to clean the freezer next week to find out exactly what we have, then I'll put together a month's worth of menus so we can use it effectively. I know there will be some areas where we have trouble (like the boys addiction to poptarts...I'm a failure as a mom!), so we decided that it's ok to stock up on some things AS LONG AS I can do it within the regular January food budget.

We've been talking about this for a while. We've even skipped a week of grocery shopping a few times (sometimes because life just intervened). But we've never really tried to see how frugal we can be!

So, anyone want to join us in this challenge?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Smorgasbord of Life

There are so many good things to do in this world. Why do I always feel the need to 'do' or 'be' something? My to-do list overflows with good intentions, but somehow most of it never gets done. I have grand and glorious dreams, but often I only take a step or two in one direction before getting distracted by another dream. How do I know which of these desires is planted by God, and which is just the result of a fertile imagination? I know God has a plan for me, but things would be so much easier if he would just let me know what it is!

As I was journaling this morning, I got a different picture of what God's plan might look like. What if God's plan is to lead me to a particular place in life then to let me choose from a myriad of options he has laid out? The analogy of a restaurant came to mind. Perhaps he wants me to follow him past many different eating establishments and walk with him through the door of the one he chooses. Then he allows me to pick and choose among the options...any of which are acceptable in his sight? Some choices might be healtier than others, and some may be more pleasing to my tastebuds, but he allows me to feast on whatever I choose...and still be in his will!

I think my problem (well, one of them...) is that I am awed and somewhat overwhelmed by all the choices. I try to take a piece of everything but end up with my plate overflowing in a big mess. The gravy gets in the corn, the spaghetti spills over into the potatoes, and I'm not able to separate any item from the rest. And, I've chosen so much that I can't finish anything.

Maybe my goal this year should be to address this feast of life one course at a time. To step up to the salad bar, take a reasonably-sized portion, and finish that before moving on to the next course. To really taste and enjoy each part of my life without rushing through to get to the dessert.

Now, if I could only figure out which of these good things I want to do is the 'salad', I'd be on my way!

Monday, January 07, 2008

A New Year

Wow -- it's hard to believe that we are already one week into the new year! The kids went back to school today. I have to be honest -- I was dreading their long 'winter' break. Two eight year-olds cooped up in a house for more than two weeks? I knew it could be enough to make me more crazy than I already am.

Happily, while I was glad to get back to a routine in our home, I really enjoyed the break. Alicia was home for a little more than two weeks (longer than we've seen her in a couple of years!), and her boyfriend Clay visited for four days(yes, we approve). While Sammi was unfortunately still suffering from her migraine (six weeks and counting), it is much less painful and she's back to eating like a teenage boy. Becca was busy, as usual, with friends and work, but we got to see her when she wasn't sleeping in.

Alicia, Clay, Becca, and I went to see Wicked. It is an amazing show that will cause you to question the negative assumptions (and even the positive ones) that we make when we only see one side of the story! The music, the actors, and the scenery were terrific. I'd highly recommend it as one of my favorites (right up there with Aida and Les Miserables...even Fiddler on the Roof!).

The boys got several games for Christmas, and Santa finally relented and got a wii (our first video games least this one requires some physical movement). We tried to play at least one game per day (Stitch women STILL rule at Monopoly). No one got too bored, and for the most part we all got along happily!

Last year had its ups and downs, but overall it was a wonderful year. This year promises to bring a lot of excitement -- Becca graduates from high school, Alicia gets to visit France (finally!), Germany, Poland, and the Czchec republic (sp?) and she will graduate in December after her student teaching boot camp. Sammi is still planning to play every sport she can get her hands (or feet) on...swimming, soccer, and who knows what else! The boys will play basketball, and they want to learn baseball, and I guess I'll rack up a few more miles as cabbie. I get to go to a writer's conference in California in March, and Doug is looking forward to playing lots of golf.

What are your plans for the year?