Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Distraction Free

This week I have embarked on an adventure of not using my phone so much. I must admit that I [was] addicted to my phone. Not addicted like I couldn't breath without it in my hand, but addicted in the sense that it was truly a habit to have it in my hand. There was a time when someone asked me why I didn't have an iPhone. I used to not want one, because I disliked the idea of being connected all the time. Then I got talked into one at the Verizon store in 2011 and have been connected ever since. 

At first, my intentions were good. I'm a teacher at heart and a lover of learning. Now that I had this great device, there were no more "I dont know's". I've become on expert on many topics that interest me. Then it was Facebook, Instagram, email, texting, etc. All have good intentions of being able to keep up with friends no matter the distance, which is appealing to me, since I have friends all across the nation. But, ultimately, those things can become distractions from real life. I would never say that my addiction to my phone was  serious.  In fact,  I have made jokes about other people who are obviously so much more addicted than me. *please hear the self-denial*

The past few months, I began to realize that sometimes knowledge isn't a good thing. If searching for new information takes away from the moment I am in with my family, it isn't good or helpful. If keeping up with a friend on Facebook becomes more interesting than playing with my son, it isn't okay or justifiable. 

So this Sunday night, I made a few promises to myself:
A promise that the first thing I reach for in the morning will be my Bible instead of my phone.
A promise that I wouldn't miss another moment of my son's childhood that I don't have to.
A promise that nothing on my phone would consume my time.
A promise that I would leave my phone in another room while my son is awake and/or my husband is home.

It's only Wednesday, it's been just 3 days. I've had more fun with my son than I ever have before. I've had greater clarity while reading God's Word than ever before. I've enjoyed more exciting and intriguing conversations with my husband than we have had in months. I have truly rested when I've had the time and I have been so much more productive during the day than normal.

It was time for me to stop making excuses, to stop justifying a distracted life. It was time for me to start living in the moment again. Jesus has blessed me so much, so much that sometimes it's overwhelming. I never want to take the blessings for granted.

Hebrews 12:2 We must focus our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

There isn't Room.

When I was pregnant with Hatcher, I was blissfully awaiting my little guy's arrival making sure his nursery was perfect, interviewing pediatricians, learning all the tricks to the perfect swaddle, preparing for the perfect birth experience (that I was sure would happen before his due date) and preparing his cloth diaper stash. When his due date came and went, I was somewhat let down, but was still preparing and counted it as extra time to make sure that we were "ready". I quickly learned that all the plans that I made and stressed over were mostly out the window from the night that my water broke on...

You see,
* I said I would never have a c section and I did. 
* I said that I would never let Hatcher sleep in the bed with us, and he slept with us the second night home. 
* I said I would transition Hatcher to his crib by two months and he didn't fully transition to the crib until much later than that. 
* I said I would never feed my baby anything other than homemade, organic baby food, and now Hatcher chows down on Gerber non-organic fruit and yogurt pouches daily. 
* I said that I would never allow my child to watch TV before age 2, and now Saturday mornings, Hatcher enjoys watching Sports Center with his dad while I drink a whole cup of hot coffee (my fellow mamas know what a treat THAT is). 
The list could go on and on....

As Dan and I talk now about "plans" for what we think may happen when Hatcher is 3, 4, 8, 12, 16 years old and for our future children, we always laugh. We know what happened to our plans from when we were just preparing for Hatcher. 

Was it wrong to make plans? Was it a waste of time to prepare for our child like we did? 

It was not wrong to make plans. It showed that we were trying to prepare and do our part for the blessing of a child that we were about to receive. One thing that I have learned is that we can make plans all we want, but Jesus gets the final say. If we did not make any plans, that would have been foolish. What would have been wrong though, is if we didn't allow God to direct our steps even if he directed our steps away from our plans. 

The examples I gave are simple examples and seemingly not really life-altering decisions. But something I learned about myself was that the decisions we had discussed before  Hatcher arrived were often rooted in fear. Fear that something would affect Hatcher for the rest of his life, fear that something would cause Hatcher to get sick, fear that other moms would think badly of me, fear that I wouldn't be a good mom...


"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."
2 Timothy 1:7 

As much as I would have liked to have said, "I've prayed about these decisions that I made about how we would "raise" our baby", I couldn't say that. I made the decisions out of fear and  what research said was best. I didn't consult God even one time and while it may seem trivial to pray about whether or not Hatcher should sleep on his back or stomach, God is concerned with every detail of our lives no matter how small it may seem and does not want us to live in fear. He wants us to live in His power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).

I said "raise" our baby in the last paragraph, because when I was pregnant, I considered the decisions I made to be the utmost important decisions and if I did those things right, then I would be doing a good job at "raising" our children.

 Then God spoke to my heart in a way that I won't forget. When Hatcher and our future children are adults, they will not go around asking their friends...

"Did your mom let you eat non-organic food?"
"Did your parents let you watch TV before your were 2?"
"Did your mom formula feed or breast feed you?" 
"Were you born via csection , a natural non-medicated birth, or did your mom get an epidural?"

No one will be able to look at them and tell if they were put to sleep on their back or their stomach or if they ever slept in the bed with their parents on those nights that they just wouldn't go to sleep any other way. 

However, their friends will look at them and know that they are full of integrity and compassion. They will know that they love Jesus and live to serve Him. They will know that they love others unconditionally and that they want to glorify God in all they do.

That is what raising a child is about. Those decisions that I researched until my eyes hurt are so trivial. It is good to research and know information, but its also important not to live thinking that these decisions will make or break who you are as a parent. It's important to follow God's promptings. If I'm truly pursing God and working towards teaching my babies about Him (Hatcher and future children), I won't have a fear of trivial things that won't matter in 20 years, but I will have a reverence for what God can do in a child to grow him into a great man of God. You see, I was so focused on the less important decisions, that I wasn't focused at all on the decisions of how I would teach my kids about Jesus and if my life and Dan's would truly reflect Jesus' character (or fear) and be an example they should imitate. 

Of course it is important to plan. It is important to make decisions. But, every child is different. Every mother and father is different. And God prompts different people to do different things. Every parent will parent differently- and we all have something to learn from one another. But, the thing that is the same, is that we should all be so focused on living a Godly life and teaching our children about Him and His character, that all those other decisions will be easy to make. They'll be easy because we are living in God's will. And the amazing thing about following His promptings... is that he ALWAYS works for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). So if we make a right decision, He will use it for good. If we make a wrong decision, He will work GOOD through it. He's a BIG God. He's in control and so much bigger than all those little decisions. He will guide our steps and use all the faith we have in Him during those decision making times to grow our children into an army for Jesus for the next generation. 

So, moms, don't focus too long on unimportant things and most importantly, don't judge or look down on other moms who don't make the same decision as you. Those things are so small. Encourage other mothers so that they can more effectively point their children to Jesus too. You can't effectively minister to someone or be a friend to someone that you are condemning in your heart. When we judge other mothers and fathers, we aren't leaving room for the character of Jesus to shine through us (Romans 8:1).

Set your eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) and the rest will fall into place.
 He is the perfect parent after all. 

There isn't room for fear and faith in Jesus in our hearts at the same time.
There isn't room for our self centered plans that we don't want to give up and God's plans in our hearts at the same time.
There isn't room for condemnation for others and Jesus' love and compassion in our hearts at the same time.
There isn't room for striving to be a perfect parent according to what research says and striving to be a Christ-Centered parent at the same time. 
There isn't room. 

Scripture from this post: 
"For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and self discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." Romans 8:1-2

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Week of Turkey

Last week, I shared our plan to eat off of a Boston butt cut of pork all week. It turned out so great and was so inexpensive. I had our whole month of meals planned for October, but I had to make a few changes after finding some great deals at the grocery store. This week I found a great deal on turkeys. A whole turkey was 1.09 per pound. Even though turkey may be a little more per pound than a chicken, I feel like there is more edible meat per pound on a turkey. So, as I type, there is a turkey cooking away in our oven. A whole bird of any kind is often intimidating to some people. Don't be afraid! It's super easy and saves you money and keeps you away from other more processed meats.

Crock-Pot Method: A turkey won't fit in a crock pot, but a chicken will. This is the super easy method. Just unwrap the chicken from the packaging, wash it off, take the giblets out of the chicken, and place in the crock pot. Sprinkle heavily on both sides with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Cook for 2 hours on high, flip the chicken, and cook for 2 more hours. 

Oven Method: This is the typical way to cook a turkey or chicken. Use a roasting rack (where the bird is not sitting in its juice). Unwrap the chicken or turkey from its packaging, wash it off, removes the giblets, and place on roasting rack. Sometimes a turkey, especially around Thanksgiving, will come "trussed". Trussing a turkey (or chicken) just means tying the legs together so that they are close to the body of the bird. It makes sure the dark meat cooks at the same rate. So if your turkey or chicken isn't already trussed, do that before baking. Sprinkle heavily with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Cover in aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes per pound on 350 degrees. I always  find that on top of the 20 minutes per pound that I need to add about 20 more minutes. I usually take the foil off during those 20 minutes so that the skin gets crispy.

With either method, you definitely need to allow the bird to "rest" for about 20-30 minutes. This allows it to cool a little and ensures that it is moist when you start cutting into it. If you skip this step, when you cut into it, a lot of the juices will just run out. Also, you can customize your seasonings and even stuff some lemons or onions inside the chicken or turkey. If I'm cooking for the whole week, I just keep the seasonings simple so that the flavors will go with every meal. 

Since its Wednesday, and I'm just getting started for our meals, we'll be eating turkey into the weekend! I made chili on Monday night and we've been eating off of that so far this week (YUM- perfect fall treat!). My hubby has been having a very stressful week at work so I want to make him something special for tonight. He loves Thanksgiving type meals, so I'm making turkey and gravy, healthy sweet potato casserole (sans all the butter and sugar), and some roasted vegetables. 

A Week of Turkey:
Wednesday: Turkey, sweet potatoes, and roasted green beans
Thursday: We'll enjoy leftovers from Wednesday
Friday: Soup and Salad with Turkey Noodle Soup
Saturday: Turkey Enchilada Casserole
Sunday: Turkey, Black Bean, and Spinach Quesadillas

So, even though I had to rework our monthly meal calendar. The great deal that I found on turkey helped us plan for some extremely yummy suppers this week and saved us some money! 

Monday, September 30, 2013

October Meal Planning

A few months ago, I shared the basics to meal planning. Since February, we have been planning our meals for the whole month and only shopping TWICE a month! It has completely changed our grocery budget and keeps us accountable for keeping to our list and not making impulse purchases. Even when impulse purchases are small at the grocery store, those little $4-$5 purchases really add up over time. It's also such a relief to only have to shop twice. I personally hate grocery shopping and even more so now with a little one. So this keeps our shopping trips to an absolute minimum.

Here is our calendar for October!

I didn't plan the last week quite yet since we have extra time in October it seems. My meals are very simple and extremely inexpensive this month. We have a savings goal that we are trying to meet, and I'm keeping groceries on the simple side. I also started color coding the weeks that I shop for together. This helps me to coordinate protein choices. An example, for the burgers and chili in the first purple week, I can buy ground meat in bulk. I listed out special events and our church bible study group, because I don't have to cook those nights! 

It's amazing what this simple planning step has done for our budget, but its not only good for our wallet. It has also been really great for our health. Used to, if I didn't know what to cook or feel like it, we'd often just run out and pick up fast food. Now if I know I will be tired by evening, I usually put something in the crockpot for supper around lunch time. If the meal that is planned for that night isn't crockpot friendly, I just switch it with one that is.

Have you tried meal-planning yet?