Sunday, March 31, 2013

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - Holy Week

 I have to say that Holy Week - Palm Sunday to Easter with Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday is one of my favorite times of the year.  

I spent part of the week with my parents, giving my Mom a break from chemo care and loving on my Dad.  I loved it!  

A few years ago they took a trip to the Holy Land and my Dad had put together a photo slide show of  Holy Week with actual pictures of the locations of the events that happened.  We spent Palm Sunday looking at that slide show and reading scripture together since his white count was too low to attend worship (Mom went by herself that day).  I loved that time spent with my Dad.  

He is actually doing very well, though tired and weak.  I loved that too.

Wednesday we had a Seder Meal as part of the learning before First Communion.   The children were very attentive and Missy, being the youngest one there, even had a reading part!  We decided to make that part of our yearly Holy Week tradition. Yes, we enjoyed it that much.

Thursday night was Maundy Thursday - the Thursday of the Mandate. 
The celebration of the Last Supper where Jesus commanded his disciples to break bread and drink wine in remembrance of what he would do on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  

Our children celebrated First Communion that night.

The Lutheran Church has two sacraments - Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.  
Both have a command - "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19) and " Do this in remembrance of me." (Luke 22) - and both have an earthly element - water for Baptism and grain and grapes for Communion.   So this was a huge deal for us.

The children were given handmade communion cups from our Pastor with this saying on the bottom:

Yes, my dears, Jesus died for you.  For you.

At the end of the service, the altar is stripped in preparation for Good Friday.

All the candles, the pulpit Bible and Hymn book on their gilded stands and the flowers are removed.
All traces of Communion and it's wares are removed.
The linens are carefully rolled and removed.
The pulpit and lectern have their linens removed.
And the Eternal Flame signifying Christ is placed in the center of the now bare altar.
Ready for the sacrifice of Good Friday. 

Most Lutheran churches do this in some form or another but it was the first time our children had seen this.  It's a very poignant reminder that this was a sacrifice, just like the sacrifices in the Old Testament.  
The sacrifice of a life - the life of God's only Son - in the place of our very own.
Not just something that happened long ago and far away.

Both of our children ended up in tears - deep, sobbing, gut wrenching tears.

They understood the sacrifice that the Lord made so we can have eternal salvation.

The moment that cements their faith in Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior. 

We went home, did devotions and put them to bed early. Wrapped in prayers and their faith.

Good Friday evening we reveled in the seven last words of Christ.
The Sanctuary swathed in purple and black. 
The dimming of the lights
The extinguishing of the Eternal Flame.
The darkness covering the world.  
The silence as we leave the church.



We ate Hot Cross Buns for lunch of Friday. 
And colored the Stations of the Cross while reading the scripture that accompanies them.

Saturday we died eggs, pressed linens and dug out the Easter decorations and baskets.
We also kept vigil as they women at the tomb had, waiting for something....





Sunday Morning dawned with anticipation.



Yes, there was the anticipation of the baskets and all their goodies.

Even more, there was the anticipation of what awaited us at worship:

More flowers than you can easily count.
The Sanctuary swathed in white and gold.
The altar dressed in all it's glory - white, and gold and silver with its candles and adornments returned.
Trumpets and Organ.
The "Hallelujah!" returned from where it was buried for Lent.
The tambourines and hand drums added by the children at the end of the service with the closing hymn.
The cries of "Christ is Risen!  He is Risen Indeed!"

There was also:

Breakfast with friends.
"Happy Easter!"
An early dinner with some of our best friends and their growing family.
Babies to cuddle.
New Easter Dresses - sewn with love by Grandma.
Spring flowers - hyacinth and hydrangea.
Hats and gloves and shiny new shoes.
Super yummy Carrot Cake.
A nap when we got home.
The children proclaiming this "The Best Easter EVER!"

And the knowledge that we are secure in our salvation through the gift of Grace and the sacrifice of our Savior on the cross.

Truly, Holy Week is one of my favorite things!

Soli Deo Gloria.
Always.




Happy Easter!

...continued from Good Friday....

Where you there when God raised him from the tomb?
Where you there when God raised him from the tomb?
Oh,, Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Where you there when God raised him from the tomb?

Christ is Risen! He has Risen Indeed!
Hallelujah!


Thine is the Glory!

By Edmond Budry, translated by R. Birch Hyle
Tune: George F. Handel, Adapted

Thine is the glory
Risen, conqu'ring Son;
Endless of the vict'ry
Thou o'er death has won!
Angels in bright raiment
Rolled the stone away
Kept the folded grave clothes 
Where thy body lay.

Thine in the glory,
Risen, conqu'ring Son;
Endless is the vict'ry
Thou o'er death hast won!

Lo, Jesus meets thee
Risen from the tomb!
Lovingly he greets thee, 
Scatters fear and gloom;
Let his church with gladness
Hymns of triumph sing,
For the Lord now liveth;
Death hath lost its sting!
Thine is the glory,
Risen, conqu'ring Son;
Endless is the vict'ry
Thou o'er death hast won!

No more we doubt thee,
Glorious Prince of life;
Life is nought without thee;
Aid us in our strife;
Make us more than conqu'rors,
Through they deathless love;
Bring us safe through Jordan
To thy home above!

Thine is the glory,
Risen, conqu'ring Son;
Endless is the vict'ry
Thou o'er death hast won!


From our house to yours, a very Happy Easter to you and yours!

Soli Deo Gloria.
Always.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

Where You There?

Negro Spiritual

Where you there when they crucified my Lord?  
Where you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Where you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Where you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Oh, Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Where you there when they nailed him to the tree?

Where you there when they pierced him in the side?
Where you there when they pierced him in the side?
Oh, Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Where you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Oh, Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Where you there when they laid him in the tomb?

... to be continued on Sunday morning....

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Maundy Thursday




Love Consecrates the Humblest Act

by Silas B. McManus 
Tune attributed to Lucius Chapin



Love consecrates the humblest act
And haloes mercy's deeds;
It sheds a benediction sweet
And hallows human needs.

When in the shadow of the cross
Christ knelt and washed the feet
Of his disciples he gave us
A sign of love complete.

Love serves and willing stoops to serve;
What Christ in love so true
Has freely done for one and all,
Let us now freely do.



Monday, March 18, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of March 17, 2013

Irish Oatmeal with Maple Cream and my cup of coffee!  Super Yummy!
We've gotten in a routine with our meals lately and I was hoping to break out a bit this week.  Not so much!  We're still eating super simple since our schedule is still pretty crazy right now (especially with Easter right around the corner!).  I did make homemade Energy Bites this week (a recipe I hadn't tried before) and they turned out good so we'll have those in the menu this week!  I'll probably take some in my lunch whenever we're listed as having leftovers since they're easy and quick to eat.

A co-worker of mine has been treating us with really snazzy baked goods lately and when I asked for a recipe for some absolutely delicious cookies she recommended a check out a certain cookbook instead.

So I checked it out from the library this week.

And I've been drooling.

So glad that John just smiles indulgently and lets my imagination run!

We're trying the Maple Cornbread this week from that book and I may have to bake some cookies this week too - just to try out another of the recipes this week.  We'll see how it goes.  I do have lots of ideas for the upcoming weeks, depending on what I can get on sale and what we have in our cupboards.  So you might see some new recipes in the next few weeks as my itchy fingers try out some new-to-us things!  You've been warned! :)

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, March 17, St. Patrick's Day:
   Breakfast:  Leftover Irish Oatmeal with Maple Cream
   Lunch: Potato Pancakes with Blue and Black berries
   Snack: Pretzels
   Dinner:  Beef Stew in the Crock pot, Irish Soda Bread, Blueberry-Blackberry-Banana Salad

Monday, March 18:
   Breakfast:  Oatmeal with Almonds and Craisins
   Lunch:  Apples with Peanut Butter, Yogurt, Carrot sticks, Energy Bite
   Snack: Energy Bite or Yogurt
   Dinner:  Crab Cakes, Tossed Salad, Blueberry-Blackberry-Apple Salad

Tuesday, March 19:
   Breakfast: Pancakes with Blueberries
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Pretzels
   Dinner: Salad with Salmon, Craisins, and Mandarin Oranges

Wednesday, March 20:
   Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Energy Bite or Energy Bite
   Dinner:  Lenten Dinner at Church

Thursday, March 21:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Walnuts
  Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Yogurt or Energy Bite
   Dinner: Soup from the Freezer (we have three kinds to choose from), Maple Cornbread, Orange Wedges

Friday, March 22:
  Breakfast:  Oatmeal Muffins with Bananas
  Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
  Snack: Pretzels
  Dinner: Pancakes with Blackberries and Oranges

Saturday, March 23:
   Breakfast: At Bible Study
   Lunch: Macaroni and Cheese, Oranges
   Snack: Pretzels
   Dinner: Hard Shell Ground Beef Tacos, Oranges and Sliced Apples

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things - Little Things Sunday March 17, 2013

Irish oatmeal with maple cream!  Super Yummy!
New recipes to try.

Plenty of food to eat and try new recipes with.

A public library to frequent.

A whole day at home with out anywhere to run to.

A nice long nap.

Spring break for the children this past week and their excitement about heading back to school Monday.

How well my children are reading...

...and playing the piano...

....and writing.

A castle, complete with moat and alligator  and alligator eggs, made with homemade play dough.
 Playing games with my children.

Looking out the window and seeing a snow fort in the backyard.

That the ice is finally melting around here!

That the sun has been shining lately.

My time that I spend with my wonderful husband..
 Weekly date nights.

Daily time to reconnect.

Hugs and kisses.

Morning coffee.

Morning quiet time to read my Bible and pray.

Those first snuggles from my munchkins each morning.

An hour long talk with my Mother-in-law on the phone after not talking to her for quite a while.

My Missy reading before bedtime with the flashlight her grandparents bought her for Christmas this year.
My children begging to read for just "5 more minutes, please?"

Hearing my children discuss a book they have both read.

Dinner by candle light every night.

Evening prayers before bedtime.

Evening family Devotional time.  


I am so very, very blessed!
What are you favorite things this week?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Super Savings Saturday - $43.17 for shopping this week!

Again, I don't have a photo this week - I had put all the groceries away and was putting the bags back into the cupboard and I realized I hadn't taken a photo!  Ugh.  Oh, well, we did go shopping anyway....

We actually didn't have to be anywhere today except for John who had his normal Saturday morning Bible study breakfast this morning, so he did the shopping today.  LOVE that man!  I'm enjoying a day where I don't have to run anywhere and some grocery deals too.

Here's what he got:

Store #1:
Old Orchard Apple Juice 64oz 1 @ $1.99 with store coupon
Store brand canned chili beans 1 @ $0.89
3lb Chub of 93% lean Ground Beef 1 @ $8.97
"Fresh" Whole White Mushrooms 1lb 1 @ $0.98 with store coupon (they're not canned in any case!)
Blackberries 6oz 2 @ 2/$5

Store #1 Total: $17.83

Store #2:
Store Brand Baking Powder 72oz 1 @ 1.99
Gold Medal All Purpose Flour 5lb 1 @ $1.98 with store coupon
16oz Gillette Men's Body Wash 3 @ $3 - $1 -$1 -$0.50 - $0.50 = $6 (or $2 each)
5lb Red Potatoes $1.99
5lb Navel Oranges $3.99
1 doz large eggs (store brand) $0.98 with store coupon
1 gallon store brand skim milk $2.50 with store coupon
16 oz heavy cream $3.99
Carnation Evaporated Milk 12oz 1 @ $1.39

Store #2 Total: $25.34

Total between the two stores: $43.17
Total saved between the two stores (according to store receipts): $13.39
I'm pretty sure the actual savings is much more than this since the meat itself would be at least $1 per pound each.    We did go over our weekly "budget" by $3.17 but we had that left over from before so we're all good.  I purposefully carry over the leftover money each week so we can have weeks like this - we average out to $40 each week in any case!

The heavy cream is what pushed us over and originally it wasn't on the list - right along with the evaporated milk. I rarely (as in once a year) cook with cream I usually used evaporated milk instead - unless I'm going to whip it or something like that.   Well, my last can of evaporated milk was past its "Best Use" date enough that I didn't want to feed it to my children for breakfast this morning - I had found a new recipe for Irish Oatmeal with Maple Cream and decided to throw the menu out the window for breakfast today and try it.  It was wonderful and I definitely will be having it again!  One child liked it and the other didn't - about par for the course around here!  I had inventoried my pantry in January and was a bit irked that I'd missed the date on that can of evaporated milk.  Now I need to figure out if I should just pitch it or do something with it. Hrmmm......

I'm looking forward to trying a couple of new recipes this week.

Anyway, that's our shopping this week...how about you?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Goals - Week of March 10, 2013


Well, this week started off on a not so good foot. 

I was woken up this morning by Buddy standing 3 inches in front of my face and shouting "MOM! It's raining in the basement! Come QUICK!"   

Darn it - he was right. 

It was raining in the basement. 
Courtesy of a shower curtain that hadn't been put all the way into the shower and water that rain into the hallway and then down through the floor.  

That was followed by forgetting my aerobic shoes and my microphone at home without time to get them before my Jazzercise class today - fortunately I was able to borrow a pair of shoes and there was another microphone I could use, though it wasn't the best quality.  

On the up side, I had shoes to work out in, my science class went swimmingly well and  my co-worker brought in the most delicious chocolate cupcakes and shared - so I had a really yummy desert after my class today.  John made our yummy salmon dinner and now I'm looking forward to a hot shower before bed!

Here's a recap of last week:

Work:
Keep up with my grading.
Prep for the next unit
Clean out part of my filing cabinet (it's still messy from the move in January - and whole section of my lecture notes decided to run away to someplace unexpected on me, so I need to find them soon!)

School:
Review my proposal
Meet with my adviser
Complete 1 other item on my to-do list (this will depend on my schedule as to what gets done)

Jazzercise:
Teach class 4 times this week
Learn 3 new routines  I learned two this week.
File my paperwork

Family:
Children's Program and Lunch at Church on Sunday
Piano Lessons on Monday
Dance Lessons on Thursday
Birthday Party on Friday
Dance Lessons on Saturday
Play date for Missy on Saturday
At-home date for John and me on Saturday

Home:
Catch up the ironing (again)
Clean out at least 7 items to be donated, trashed or recycled from our home
Finish Lenten Wreath and Hang
Make Easter Banner (if I'm really ambitious, this will be fabric rather than paper!)

Faith/Ministry/Church:
Lenten Worship and Meal on Wednesday
Continue Memorizing Romans
30 Minutes on Church Photo Albums (I have completed 2 of these in the last two weeks - have 2 more to go and then I can take them back to church - whoot!)
Pray daily for our home congregation - they're going through another transition right now.
Continue memorizing Luther's Morning and Evening Prayers (my Lenten Devotion this year).
Continue our Jesus Tree with the children

Personal:
Polish the rest of my shoes
Soak my feet and use foot cream on them one time
Let Missy paint my toenails again (she did a great job last time and thinks its fun!)
Breakfast with my best friend on Saturday (we've been hoping to do this since last fall but haven't since one or the other of us has been ill the whole time - I'm so excited that we get to do this this week!)  This turned out to be coffee and desert on Saturday afternoon - wonderful!

I think I actually did really well this week - partly because I didn't put so much on my to-do list and we've been making a point of staying home in the evenings and on the weekend as much as possible.   Doesn't always work, but it does make a difference!

Here's what I'm up to this week:

Work:
* Prep next unit
* Grading
* Start reviewing texts for my class next semester (orders are due in a couple of weeks and I need to change my text for fall)
* Clean out that filing cabinet!!!

School:
* Cross 2 things off my to-do list

Jazzercise:
* Teach 3 classes this week
* Attend 1 other class
* Learn 2 new routines

Family: (We have a light week this week - the kids have Spring Break!)
* Piano Lessons x2
* Trip to the Library
* Family Night -  Lesson on St. Patrick
* At home date night - puzzle, hot drinks
* Find shirt for the dance recital for Buddy (we have several to pick from and need to order one)

Home:
* Clean out at least 7 items
* Complete 2 tasks on our free home improvement list (I'll hopefully write more about this later this week - Lord willing of course!)
* Finish and hang Lenten Wreath (before Lent is over!)
* Make Easter Banner

Church/Ministry/Family:
* Lenten Worship and Meal on Wednesday
* Continue Memorizing Romans
* Continue Memorizing Luther's Morning and Evening Prayer
* Continue praying for our home congregation
* 30 minutes on the Church Photo Albums
* Continue with the Jesus Tree

Personal:
* Get to bed on time or early every night this week
* Clean out my purse
* Clean out my backpack

What are you up to this week?  Go here to share and be inspired!

Menu Plan Monday - Week of March 10, 2013

Cranberry Cookie Bars - these were SOOOO Yummy!
I seem to be continually dropping the ball with posting about our shopping trips. I promise I will get back to that!  In the meantime, rest assured, we are eating very well.

The Cranberry Cookie Bars pictured I made back in December or early January (I can't remember which now) and I've been eyeing the rest of the whole frozen cranberries I have, thinking I should make more. Maybe this week - we'll see!

We had a lot more frozen soup and stew in the freezers that I had thought, so we've been using those for easy and quick meals.  It's nice to have the space in our freezer and I'm hoping to go back to having the upstairs freezer (the one above the fridge) for things we're currently using or trying to use up rather than for longer term storage, like the small chest freezer we have downstairs.  We're getting there!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, March 10:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: Baked Eggs, Cinnamon Biscuit Twists, Blueberries and Melon
   Snack: Pretzels
   Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Leftover French Bread, Pear Slices

Monday, March 11:
  Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Almonds
  Lunch: Spaghetti from the Freezer, Oranges
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: Salmon, Rice, Mixed Veggies (frozen), Apple-Banana-Grape Salad

Tuesday, March 12:
  Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
  Lunch: Chicken Noodle Soup, Grapes
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: Pancakes, Bacon, Blueberries and Melon

Wednesday, March 13:
  Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
  Lunch: Salad with Chicken, Craisins and Mandarin Oranges
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: Lenten Dinner at Church

Thursday, March 14:
  Breakfast: Waffles with Blueberries
  Lunch: PB&J on leftover Waffles, Applesauce, Carrots or Tomatoes
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: Chicken Pot Pie, Tossed Salad, Apple and Pear Slices

Friday, March 15:
  Breakfast: Oatmeal with Raisins and Almonds
  Lunch: Macaroni and Cheese, Grapes
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: Veggie Baked Couscous, Corn Chips, Sliced Apples

Saturday, March 16:
  Brunch: Buttermilk Coffee Cake, Baked Eggs and Fruit (whatever is leftover)
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: Homemade Pizza, Tossed Salad, Oranges

I'm also planning on baking extra waffles and pancakes to put in the freezer for quick and easy breakfasts later this spring and making some Energy Bites (not sure what kind yet) for snacks before working out and quick "lunches" at work. I've been finding that this semester I'm not having enough time to eat a whole lunch one or two days each week. These will be quick to eat and give me energy and along with fruit or yogurt should be enough for a snack-y type lunch.  If I have time, I'll whip up another batch of the  Cranberry Cookie Bars - they were a hit with everyone so I'm sure they won't last long!

What are you eating this week?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

In the Refiner's Fire - Resting in Him Alone

I had a bit of a revelation as I battled pneumonia over Christmas this year.

We went into Christmas with my Dad being diagnosed with colon cancer a week and a half before Christmas and having surgery exactly one week before.   We had all just had the flu at our house - in fact, I had a fever of 104F the day my mom called to tell me the diagnosis for my Dad.  I had just barely managed to drive my also ill son and myself home from school too - John literally caught me as I fell through the front door.

That was Friday afternoon - my mom called Friday night.

Sunday morning I woke up without a fever and my husband was just getting one.  The children were all better by that time (of course) and were enjoying endless junk food and videos while Mom and Dad were too ill to care what they did or ate.  I remember pounding the pillow with all my meager strength and shouting at John "You can NOT get sick! You can NOT get sick!"  Because, of course, that works. :)

Two weeks later I was in the ER - three days after Christmas - with my pneumonia that I'd battled for 3 months and thought I'd conquered back in full force.

Honestly, I hate being sick all the time.  I eat right (most of the time) and I exercise regularly - hard, I might add.  I should not be getting sick.   Because, of course, I'm the one in control. Which, of course, is not true at all, in any way, shape or form!

I realized how I am so not ready to loose my own health.

I realized how I am so not ready to have my parents leave this earth to go to their eternal home - I don't care that my Dad is now 81 years old (young?), I want him here for a good long while yet.

I realized how I am so not ready to hand our finances over to the Lord - we are looking at a minimum of an 80% pay cut when John goes on internship, though it could be more like 95% as we're looking at it now in detail.

I realized how I am so not ready to have my career end or drastically change in any way, shape or form.

I realized how I am so not ready to have anything unexpected happen with my husband or my children or my in-laws.

 And I realized how I really don't rest in the Lord.

I rest in my relationships with others - my parents, my husband, my children, my friends, my church family.

I rest in our emergency fund and our income and our investments.

I rest in my ability to control every aspect of my health and well being.

I rest in having my family whole and healthy and, well, here on earth.

I rest in having an income that I am responsible for and a career that I love.

The Lord placed upon my heart that I need to rest in Him and not any of these earthly things.

My head knows this.  And it has for a long time. It's my heart that needed to understand.

Yesterday I wrote about letting go of the dream job that I've always wanted.

Since then, it's been easier to let go of strange earthly things like junk food and sweets and the over-abundance of possessions that we have.

I've been able to give myself more grace when things don't get done the way I want them to or in my time frame.

I've had the wonderful chance to reflect on the lives of two wonderful and Godly women close to me - my Mother and my Grandmother.

Both women have and had such a peace on resting in the Lord.

My Grandfather, my mother's father and this Grandmother's husband died at the age of 45, when my mother was just 14 years old and my Grandmother had 4 children ranging in age from 9 to 18 at home.

My Mother has buried both her parents, all three of her siblings (two who committed suicide), her other daughter, battled severely debilitating disability her whole life and watched her career start and stop like a car in rush hour traffic.

My Grandmother buried her husband, 2 of her children, 3 of her grandchildren, 2 of her great-grandchildren and lived in abject poverty almost her whole life.

Yet both my Mother and my Grandmother have a fantastic level of peace.

It's because they rest in His peace and His strength and His power.  Not their own.

It is my hope and my prayer that I will learn to do the same.

Soli Deo Gloria.
Always.
Amen.




Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Work Home and Family - Saying No When You Want to Say Yes

Being a mom is hard.  

I don't care if you are a full time wife and mommy, a work from home mommy, a going to school mommy or some type of working outside the home mommy - part time or full time or somewhere in between. Or some combination of the above.

Caring for, raising and nurturing the next generation is a full time job.

Never mind taking care of a home, finding time for friends and extended family and loving on your spouse.

I've never been one to believe or been limited by others expectations about what I should or could or would do with my time, space, family and energy.  

I work outside of my home by choice and I go to school to obtain a PhD by choice.  Not because I "have to."  There's no "have to" about it - it's all about choice.

This is not just my choice, but a choice made with my husband and for our family.

We have always truly believed that this is the best choice for our family and that this is truly what God wants me and us to do.  As we have progressed on this journey, we have been blessed and amazed by the things that God has used to allow us to continue on this journey without any major difficulties.

Last spring I was handed my dream job - a full time faculty job at the school I teach at teaching all the classes that I really wanted to teach - without applying or even asking.

Last fall I started working toward that position, adding classes and making plans to take on more.   Teaching a full load would start this coming fall.

Then last fall I got really sick with pneumonia - for 4 months.
My Dad got diagnosed with cancer and had surgery.  Now he's doing chemo.
I started teaching Jazzercise more often.
I still haven't finished this dissertation for my PhD - and I didn't make any real progress last fall.

In December, as I sat in a room at the hospital my husband works at with antibiotics for pneumonia flowing into me, I realized that I just can't do that job right now.

I had known I was pushing my limits for a quite a while but that was the final straw.    I just couldn't do it anymore.  I was through thinking that this was just a particularly busy season and I had to push through.  I could not do it anymore.

By complete fluke, in November last fall an upper level class in our department didn't run and my department chairman asked if I would give up one of my lower level classes so that a senior faculty member could make contact hours without really going out of his way to do it.  I agreed, thinking at least I would have time to work on my dissertation.

I don't believe in flukes or coincidences.
I know God knew exactly what He was doing.

In January I told my department chairman that I could not take that full time position right now.  

That I need to finish my dissertation and keep my time open to be there for my family.

I told him that as soon as I finish this PhD thing (which should be coming up soon!), I will be happy to teach two classes a semester (full load is three) but I can't go over that and right now one is plenty.

Fortunately, he understood and was very supportive.  And agreed to stretch out a few things and put others on the back burner for right now so that that dream job is still there later on if I want it.

My dream job.  And I gave it up.

For now.

Because it was the right thing to do.

It was so very, very hard.  But so very, very necessary.

And you know what,  I have absolutely no regrets.

What do you need to say no to today to make your life more in line with what God wants for you?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Goals - Week of March 3, 2013

I'm quite pleased that I've gotten quite a bit done the last few week.  And yet, somehow, I still seem to be behind where I want to be.  How on earth does that happen?   I think I have a time warp that follows me around and steals my time when I'm not looking.

We also made the decision for me to go and visit my parents for a few days in a few weeks and relieve my Mom from some of the chemo care that she is doing for my Dad.  John kindly rearranged his work schedule to handle the children's schedule for 3 work days by himself - I'm so grateful for a husband who is willing to make those kind of sacrifices!  Since that decision was made, I'm sleeping better but I've been so very weary that I've been needing to get more sleep. After about a week of that, I'm just now starting to come out of that so I'm guessing I was more worried about my Dad and when I was going to get down to see both of them than I thought.  Looking forward to that trip and hoping that one of my lovely sisters-in-law can come up and help John with the kids while I'm away.

Anyway, that's where we started this week.  Today was a snow day for our school district and I had the blessing of staying home for a lazy day with my two favorite children.  No outside playing since we had left the snow pants and boots at school, but we had fun anyway. And since it snowed almost all day anyway, we didn't have much chance to go outside.  The sun did peek out at one point and - wow! - what a pretty sight it was.  I didn't get any photos, though but that's okay.

Busy evenings this week and next so here are my goals this week:

Work:
Keep up with my grading.
Prep for the next unit
Clean out part of my filing cabinet (it's still messy from the move in January - and whole section of my lecture notes decided to run away to someplace unexpected on me, so I need to find them soon!)

School:
Review my proposal
Meet with my adviser
Complete 1 other item on my to-do list (this will depend on my schedule as to what gets done)

Jazzercise:
Teach class 4 times this week
Learn 3 new routines
File my paperwork

Family:
Children's Program  and Lunch at Church on Sunday
Piano Lessons on Monday
Dance Lessons on Thursday
Birthday Party on Friday
Dance Lessons on Saturday
Play date for Missy on Saturday
At-home date for John and me on Saturday

Home:
Catch up the ironing (again)
Clean out at least 7 items to be donated, trashed or recycled from our home
Finish Lenten Wreath and Hang
Make Easter Banner (if I'm really ambitious, this will be fabric rather than paper!)

Faith/Ministry/Church:
Lenten Worship and Meal on Wednesday
Continue Memorizing Romans
30 Minutes on Church Photo Albums (I have completed 2 of these in the last two weeks - have 2 more to go and then I can take them back to church - whoot!)
Pray daily for our home congregation - they're going through another transition right now.
Continue memorizing Luther's Morning and Evening Prayers (my Lenten Devotion this year).
Continue our Jesus Tree with the children 

Personal:
Polish the rest of my shoes
Soak my feet and use foot cream on them one time
Let Missy paint my toenails again (she did a great job last time and thinks its fun!)
Breakfast with my best friend on Saturday (we've been hoping to do this since last fall but haven't since one or the other of us has been ill the whole time - I'm so excited that we get to do this this week!)

What are you up to this week?  Visit Money Saving Mom to share and be inspired!

Menu Plan, er, Tuesday - Week of March 3, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup, French Bread, and Grapefruit
Good heavens - I think time just got away from me.  I certainly didn't mean to take over a week - and almost two! - off from posting.  Thanks for sticking with me here!

Grocery budget has been good and today John and the kiddos went to Sam's while I taught Jazzercise. They are in the same area and it was a great way to combine trips. We had a snow day here in the Twin Cities - at least some of us did - and the kids were excited to get out of house for a while.  We had left the snow pants and boots at school yesterday so they couldn't play outside today. We bought fish and TP with the money we had saved up from previous shopping trips (including the past 2 weeks) and spent part of our grocery budget for this week as well on a case of mandarin oranges and some pretzels for the children to take as a snack to school. Good all the way around!

So here's out menu for this week:

Sunday, March 3:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: At Church (after the children's program)
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner:  Snack-y dinner (fruit, crackers, cheese, etc) since we were still full from the yummy lunch

Monday, March 4:
  Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds and Craisins
  Lunch:  Hot Lunch for the Children, Salad with Almonds, Craisins, and Blue Cheese for Adults
  Snack:  Yogurt
  Dinner:  Turkey-Vegetable Stew in the Crock pot, Irish Soda Bread, Melon and Grapes

Tuesday, March 5:
  Breakfast:  Cinnamon Rolls, Oranges
  Lunch:  Macaroni and Cheese, Grapes and French Bread
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner: Veggie Pizza, Oranges

Wednesday, March 6:
  Breakfast:  Oatmeal with Almonds and Craisins
  Lunch:  PB&J, Orange Wedges, Carrots or Tomatoes, Cookie or Leftover Turkey Stew
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner:  At Church (Lenten Dinner)

Thursday, March 7:
   Breakfast: Pancakes with Applesauce
   Lunch:  Hot Lunch for Children, Leftover Turkey Stew for Adults
   Snack:  Yogurt
   Dinner: Chili, Cornbread, Melon-Grape-Apple Salad

Friday, March 8:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds and Craisins
   Lunch: Leftover Turkey Stew for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: At a Birthday Party

Saturday, March 9:
  Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Oranges
  Lunch:  Leftover Chili, Baking Powder Biscuits, Sliced Apples
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: Veggie Pizza, Tossed Salad, Oranges

We have lots of evening things this week - honestly I'm getting a little tired of the run-run-run we seem to have this Lent.  At least it makes dinner planning easy, right?

What are you eating this week?