Monday, September 20, 2010

take a trip with me... my new blog!
We Could Blame Eve All Day...Or We Could Get Over Ourselves!

I've been praying and planning for this blog for awhile...and just dove in the other day!  I hope you will join me in seeking to become less of ourselves and more like Christ as we counsel ourselves through Scripture.  Head on over!

musical monday

Wonderful, Merciful Savior

Wonderful, merciful Savior
Precious Redeemer and Friend
Who would have thought that a Lamb
Could rescue the souls of men
Oh you rescue the souls of men

Counselor, Comforter, Keeper
Spirit we long to embrace
You offer hope when our hearts have
Hopelessly lost the way
Oh, we've hopelessly lost the way

You are the One that we praise
You are the One we adore
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Oh, our hearts always hunger for

Almighty, infinite Father
Faithfully loving Your own
Here in our weakness You find us
Falling before Your throne
Oh, we're falling before Your throne

Saturday, September 18, 2010

i heart the dollar store!

In the last few months when I have been trying to keep up with Elijah's learning capacity and teach him new things everyday, I have quickly discovered the wonder that is called "The Dollar Store."

I have shopped at different dollar stores for random things here and there, but I'm so impressed with the teaching supplies that you can find! The store we have in our town is a Dollar Tree, so that's the one I really know about.

I don't have a degree in teaching or anything, but I absolutely love teaching my son. It's so much fun to watch such a little person absorb so much information. I like to teach him, but I'm not necessarily good at coming up with my own ideas, so that's where I especially rely on those who are homeschool or craft bloggers. There's just a ton of free information to find in the blogging world!

One idea I gleaned from a few blogs is the usefulness of bulletin board borders that you can buy in a pack at the dollar store. The ones I have found have 14 identical strips that you can use.

These are great for learning "games" around the house. (At least that's what Elijah and I call them!) I have used them as simple matching games so far. I just lay down a complete strip for Elijah to have and give him the pictures that I have cut out and laminated from another strip that he can match up.

I just went to the Dollar Tree today (hence the blog) and got a few more bulletin board border packs, but they didn't have near as many good ones as I got last time. Here is a sample of what you may be able to find:
Because of these, Elijah already knows what an oval and an octagon is, as well as the other shapes....crazy!
I'm just keeping the "game" pieces in plastic bags.

I look forward to using these in other ways for teaching Elijah.

Here's a video clip of him learning...

What great things have you discovered at a dollar store lately??

Monday, September 13, 2010

musical monday

I am so thankful that God has amazingly gifted so many contemporary song writers to help us to see Him in a new way because of the words and melodies He gives them.

With my husband being a music minister, I think I look at music a little more through his eyes - looking for songs that will draw others closer to the Lord and change them in a real way.

Some song writers that have made a tremendous impact on us with the words they have been given to share.  Often it's in the rewriting of an "old" hymn that brings new life to a song we already loved.  If you don't already know artists like this, then here are a few I can think of: Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Keith & Krysten Getty, Paul Baloche, and Laura Story.

These writers point me straight to the Lord.  It never seems to be about them, which is so refreshing.

Over the last year especially, Laura Story's music has totally blessed me and I have such a respect for her.

...And I got to meet her this weekend!!!

Many of you know her song Mighty to Save, but you may not know that she wrote Indescribable, which Chris Tomlin made popular.  I shared a while back about her great song Immortal, Invisible which is one of my favorites right now!

I was able to meet Laura on Friday night because it was a small women's conference and I told her how I love this song and that my husband has been introducing it to our church as a new worship song.  She seemed so grateful that we were sharing her music and later told me that they would be singing it over the weekend.  When she sang it, she even gave me a little wave, letting me know she remembered!  How sweet is that!

It was such a blessing to meet the person behind the music and to see that her personality also made things not about her.  I love that I will respect her music even more now, knowing that her life lines up with what she writes.  I'm so thankful that God let me get to know her a little bit this weekend.
(sorry, it's a little blurry!)

Here's a video with a little more of Laura and her music:

What are some musicians that God is blessing your life with right now?  

Friday, September 10, 2010

a weekend away!

I'm so excited because I'm heading out with some friends this afternoon for the Women's Prayer & Evangelism Conference in Ridgecrest, NC.'s a beautiful day here so I can't wait to head toward the mountains!

In honor of my trip, I thought I would just share with you my thoughts when I came back from this same conference two years ago. The following was originally posted on September 13, 2008, entitled An Endless List. 

Have a great weekend!

I just got back from an amazing weekend at the Women's Prayer & Evangelism ConferenceGod is so good and I was able to hear from some gifted women who have encouraged me to renew my personal prayer life in fresh ways. So...when I got home tonight, eager to begin with my new prayer journal, I wanted to begin with praise, preparing my journal for exciting reminders of who God is. God quickly gave me the idea of pulling out magazines I had around the house and starting on a "collage" of words that portray names and descriptions of who He is. As I turned the pages again and again, it was not difficult to cut out an abundance of words that describe our Heavenly Father. 

The reason this was easy, however, was because advertisements use so many descriptions to describe their products that are actually words meant to describe the One True God. I was convicted again. How many times am I sold on products to make me better, prettier, etc., things that can easily become idols in my life? Ask God to reveal to you what people or things have taken His place. What words do you use to describe insignificant things that should maybe be reserved for worshipping Him alone? Believer, be renewed today in your definition of who God is. If you have yet to know a relationship with God, read the following list, knowing that God wants to become these qualities in your life! The capitalized words are the ones I found (in just 3 secular magazines) to 
just begin to describe God. Let me know what names God has given you lately. How has He revealed Himself to you?

God is....

the PERFECTOR of our faith
standing with ARMS WIDE OPEN
longing to be your DAD
our ROCK
waiting to be your EVERYTHING
CLOSE to you at all times
JOYFUL as He sings over you
still in the work of SAVING those who are lost
longing to SATISFY your every desire
AVAILABLE to CALM every stress, every fear, every worry
waiting for you to see his VISION
the ONLY true answer
the FREEDOM you are longing for
MORE than you can ever imagine
EVERYWHERE, watching and listening 24 HOURS, 7 days a week, and he NEVER SLEEPS
WATER to our thirsty, dry bones
STRONGER than our strongest moment
a JUST God, DIVINELY ruling His creation, and always RIGHT
waiting for you to COME AS YOU ARE
coveting a RELATIONSHIP with you
LORD over all
the only One who truly RADIATES WARMTH
to be TREASURED greatly
still doing works BEYOND our comprehension
wanting to speak to you through His LOVE LETTER
ready to COMMUNICATE in a PERSONAL way with you DAILY
a God of HARMONY
offering you REST
wanting to be your CLOSEST FRIEND
able to claim VICTORY in your life
a SHINING light
your ROCK
asking you to seek His HIDDEN mysteries
calling you to TRUST in Him
HIGHLY exalted, the ROYAL king
wanting to be our FOUNDATION
able to TRANSFORM our biggest messes
ready for you to celebrate His GOODNESS
wanting to be your BEST FRIEND
a healing DOCTOR
offering you a FREE GIFT of his Son
one of whom we stand in WONDER
BEAUTIFUL, beyond description

(...And here's a picture of it all that I didn't add last time!)

Pray these descriptions of God this week. Stand in awe of who He is and ask for His strength to stay pure in a world that wants us to use these words to describe temporary things. He has a PLAN for you and wants to make Himself CLEAR to you as you seek His face. He will indeed show Himself to be WIDER and more PERFECT than we can even begin to COMPREHEND. Praise God for He is limitless!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

small town adventures

Lucky for me, my son doesn't know what size city we live in (if you're wondering, we have no Chick-fil-a and no Target, so that equals small for me!) and at his age (18 months) he gets quite excited about little things.

This has caused me to try and make parts of our day exciting for him in some way.  For instance, whenever we go to Wal-Mart, I try and make it a point to go and visit the fish.  As far as Elijah knows, it's just as great as the Aquarium we visited when we went to the beach back in April!  He loves to point out the different colors of fish and try to count them.  Great fun for a toddler! ...Always makes me want to bring a fish home (for a few seconds)!

Today...the small town adventure I had been waiting for happened.

You see, we can hear the train going through town several times a day, but Elijah has never gotten to actually see it.  And even if we have been stopped in traffic waiting for the train, he can't tell what is going on.

On the way back from the library this morning, I saw the train coming from a distance.  I pulled into an abandoned parking lot and we were able to get a first hand look at the train.  The engine stopped right in front of where we were standing (awesome!) and apparently they were doing some redirecting, so it went forward and backward several times before heading back the way it came.

Elijah loved it!

Then I was able to show him the train tracks so he could understand what those are a little bit better.  I was so excited for this opportunity today...a fun daytime moment in the life of a stay at home mom.

When the town was repaving the main road by our house several months ago, that made for some fun days!

We had Rolly, Scoop, and Muck (check out Bob the Builder) sitings almost everyday for weeks.  Justin and I even took him to sit on a steamroller one day when the equipment was parked for the night. Elijah loved it!

Basically, whatever is catching your child's interest at the creative!  Even if you live in a small town there are easy and often free ways to let your child have fun.

I know that no ride in the car will ever be the same again.  I'm always on the lookout for trucks, trains, and motorcycles.  But what fun!

A few weeks ago we saw this creature on the road with never know what you'll find!

What creative ways do you have fun with your kids around town?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

morning and night time routine

So, I have to admit that I just got overwhelmed with blogging last week and the fact that I am the worst at keeping things simple in the I left you hanging on the last day of K.I.S.S.  Please forgive me.

After much thought, here's what I have for keeping things simple in the kitchen.

Having a morning and nighttime routine does wonders for helping me not hate walking into my kitchen!  It's amazing how the condition of my kitchen can really affect my attitude toward my home.  It's such a small room, but boy can the dishes pile up!

Keeping things simple can also help keep things sane.  And I will admit that things are not always simple or sane in my house.  On a perfect (?!) day, this is how I keep things simple and sane in a room of our house that really doesn't get me too excited...

In the morning...

  • I unload the dishwasher or dishes that are out drying, putting away all dishes right away on a very good day!
  • I wash all of the dishes from breakfast so that I don't start off with a messy sink.
At night...
  • I load the dishwasher or hand wash all dishes that are dirty (oh what a glorious night!)
  • I make tea if we are out.
  • I think about what is for dinner the next night (possibly pulling it out to thaw).
  • I put water in the ice trays and tell Justin we should fix our ice maker.
  • I clean off the kitchen counters and kitchen table.
It really is mostly about the night time routine.  If I take a few minutes to do things at night then I love waking up to a clean kitchen.  I am motivated to cook and keep things clean if my kitchen starts off clean in the morning.

Again, it's one of those things that are simple - IF I WILL JUST DO IT!!

How do you keep things simple in your kitchen?  Feel free to link up a post below or leave a comment!

(Well...I can't get the link to work...maybe later)!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

toys, toys, everywhere!

It's day four of Keeping it Simple, Sister! and we're talking about keeping it simple with kids.  The first thing I thought about was how to keep it simple with toys.

It's hard to even imagine that they were no toys in our house at one point.  Now toys are a daily part of our lives and that means keeping them put up as well!

I feel like we have more toys in our house than I ever meant to have, but we bought nearly all of them at yard sales or consignment stores and just couldn't turn down good deals.

Most of Elijah's toys are in his room...

But I actually have toys scattered around different places in our home:

Toys are in the Living Room...

Toys are in the Kitchen...

A few toys are in our bedroom...

And there's usually one or two toys in our office.

Elijah plays for about 45 minutes by himself each morning in his room. So about every other week, I change out his toys.  They move around the house so that it keeps the appeal of them fresh!  I have read about this in several places and I think this "changing it up" approach has worked really well for us.

When Elijah has played with the same toys in his room for too long, then he gets bored and starts pulling out his clothes or getting fussy.  But when I change up his toys it's amazing how content his is to play with the "new" toys.

And, I guess I couldn't have written this post on a better day, because here is evidence of what Elijah's room looks like when I have kept the same toys in there for too long!

Keeping a certain amount of toys in each room keeps things simple for me because that only leaves so many toys to clean up in each space.  Also, it is easy for Elijah to see that there are specific places for his toys to be.  

In the toy box that is in his room, I continually change it out with hats or stuffed animals.  That way, the toys are all alike and easy for him to help clean up.  We also have a toy box that my brother-in-law made that is in our living room.  It serves as an end table for us and Elijah forgets that there are even toys in there.  

So when I'm switching around toys, I pull toys from there that he has forgotten about and he's excited to play with them!

What about you?  

How do you keep things simple for kids?  

Feel free to link up a post about keeping things simple for kids or share your comments below.  Remember, tomorrow is the last day for K.I.S.S. and we're focusing on the kitchen!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

exercise in communication

Welcome to Day 3 of Keep It Simple, Sister! Today is a chance to share ideas on keeping things simple in marriage.

My husband and I have only been married for four years, but I do have just a little bit to share on the subject!

Justin and I attended a marriage conference at our church a few months ago. It was a good conference, but there was one thing in particular that I took away that I don't think I will ever forget.

The couple who led the conference shared a great exercise to help foster communication within marriage. And isn't that one of the greatest areas where breakdown can easily occur in relationships?

We were challenged to take time once a month to spend time with our spouse discussing three little questions/statements to help keep communication alive within our marriages. Justin and I did this exercise the night of the conference and I think it's about time we do it again. We were encouraged to have a nice date night and discuss these statements, so I think it's about time for a nice date!

Here are the three statements we were encouraged to use and in this order:

1. Do you remember when...?
2. What really bugs me most about you...
3. What I love most about you...

So, if I were doing this exercise with Justin, I might say the following:

1. Do you remember when you needed a plunger in Mexico and you had to draw a picture of it for the hotel clerk in order to get one? (Good example of a funny story to get the conversation going!)

2. What really bugs me most about you is how extremely good looking you are. (I decided not to call him out on the internet!)

3. What I love most about you is watching you as a Dad.

Hopefully you can see how this simple exercise in communication can really help to spur good and hopefully beneficial conversation between you and your spouse.  This truly is an exercise I hope to see us repeat again and again in our marriage.

Sometimes it's fun just to talk about numbers 1 and 3, but number 2 can't be neglected.  This is where growth in marriage can really occur, if couples are willing to listen.

What ideas do you have for keeping things simple in your marriage?

Feel free to link your post below or leave a comment!