Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phillipians 4:8

An inkling...

a hunch, an idea, a notion, a feeling, a fleeting thought. Call it what you would like, but we have all had them. Those thoughts that pop into your mind, seemingly out of nowhere. Sometimes they are gone as quickly as they came. Other times, the same thought keeps returning, almost nagging at you.

Over the past year or so, I have been trying to tune myself into these thoughts. I am starting to believe that our thoughts are kind of black and white, either of the enemy or of God. So, when these 'nudges' come along, I am realizing, in my own experience, they are usually more than just a fleeting thought. They are typically nudges from God to do something, to put my faith in action, to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Bring a meal to a family, make a call to a friend, invite a neighbor to come to church.....

I am finding that when I act on these nudges, when I am obedient, even when I don't fully understand, there is such blessing that follows. It usually involves doing something I am not totally comfortable with or something I just plain don't want to do. But, wow, I can't even describe the amazing things that happen when I just trust God.

There was a great message about this at Bill Hybels, of Willow Creek, was the guest speaker today as part of a series called Whispers of God. He talks about many significant things in his life that began as small whispers from God.

It was really neat for me to listen to this message today. Not only because of the content, but because I got to 'attend' church with my friend Caroline, who lives in Luxembourg. What a really, really special thing for us to be able to do together. Something that might not have happened if we weren't both listening closely to the whispers. We have made plans to 'meet' at the Tuesday services (1 PM EST) on a regular basis...would you like to join us?

God's Economy

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! We truly have a lot to be thankful for. We live a blessed life and it is good to take time to reflect on that. I am especially thankful for my families health, as we seem to be having a lot of serious things hit very close to home lately. Today, some friends miraculously dodged a cancer bullet with their one year old granddaughter.

Another thing I wanted to make note of, is how thankful I am for God's provision for our family and the little blessings He has shown me this week. No mountains were moved, but I still know they were of God and think it's just as fun to watch how He is in the details of life.

On Tuesday, the girls and I were heading home from some errands and I was having an internal debate about whether to take the girls to McDonald's for lunch or fix something at home. I try to be conscious about how much money we spend on simple things like this, as they can eat away your finances quickly if you aren't careful. But, on this day, I decided to splurge. We skipped our annual trip to Great Wolf Lodge and I promised one disappointed five year old that this week would still be fun-filled.

So, we went through the drive-thru to get some food to go. I was analyzing the menu to see how much it was going to cost me to be the 'fun-mom' and buy happy meals vs. ordering from the value menu. I had to look several times and finally asked the clerk if the menu was right, because it said happy meals were $1.19!! She had me read it to her a couple times and assured me it was not right and told me the right prices. She never offered them at a discount, but I ordered them anyway. After giving me the total for all of our meals, she told me one of the happy meals was free, for catching the pricing error.

For Wednesday, we had plans to go to the pool and I had invited the neighbor to go. I had not informed her mom that it cost $4.75 for her daughter to get in, because I had not decided, yet, if I was going to pay her way or not. When I returned home from BSF, Crissa had left me a message stating that if we showed up a 6 pm, instead of a little earlier, we would get the family rate at the pool. With the discount, the price for all of us was almost the same amount I had planned to pay for the three of us.

Tonight, I browsed the Meijer ad for their Thanksgiving deals and spied a fishing pole that Regan had asked for as a Christmas gift. There were a couple of other things that made it worth a quick afternoon trip to the store. One of the deals was all shoes, buy one get one for a $1. I found three pairs for Regan for next year, a couple pair of fun fuzzy crocs for gifts for the girls and a pair of boots for Regan. Full retail was about $124. With sales and a discount card I have, I planned to pay about $ the end, some unexpected sale prices brought my grand total down to less than $23, for six pairs of shoes.

In God's economy, one plus one doesn't always equal two.

I think I tired them out.

Tonight, the girls, myself and a neighbor friend headed to Holland for some time with the cousins. Brown bag lunches at Cafe' de Boyink for dinner, a little play time and then off to the Holland Aquatic Center.

It was a great night to go! There was hardly anyone there and the rates are discounted for 'family night'. Our family had never been to this facility before. It is a very nice place and the rates are more than fair. It cost a whopping $16.75 for my clan of four. (compared to a $60 price tag at our local facility, but that's a whole other story ;) ).

After a brief awkwardness for Sarah, the neighbor, she and Miranda quickly took a liking to each other. They are both 10 and both love horses. Doesn't get much better than that! :)

We walked in the house at about 9-ish, had a quick banana to eat and got the girls ready for bed. Regan still had the chills, so I put each of their blankets in the dryer for about 5 minutes before tucking them in bed with it.

I have not heard a peep out of either one of them since! This isn't uncommon for Regan, but I honestly cannot remember the last time Sage went to bed and stayed there without coming out to go potty or tell us her latest woes!

A pleasant end to a fun day!

Something to ponder...

This is a layout that I made a couple of months ago. The journaling is a reflection of some things that God has been teaching me this year about relying on Him.

We have all heard it said a thousand times 'God never gives us more than we can handle'. I have been contemplating this statement for some months now and I have come to believe that it is almost right, except one word. I believe the word 'never' should be 'always'. I think the statement should go like this 'God
always gives us more than we can handle'.

Think about it. If God never gave us more than we can handle, we would never reach a point of dependence on Him. We would be self-sufficient, which would probably lead to arrogance and pride. I just don't think that's how God works. I think he wants us to know that we are weak. And I think He wants to be strong for us. His plan of salvation is a perfect example.

We are all sinners. Our sin is more than any of us can handle. We cannot fix it and we cannot save ourselves from it. We are destined to die because of our sins.
Romans 8:3a "For the wages of sin is death"

But God, in His mercy, doesn't leave it at that, He offers His son to pay the price for us Romans 8:3b "but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

That's the kind of God I think He is...a Savior. When we are weak, He is strong. Have you allowed yourself to be weak? One who gives us good and perfect gifts. Have you accepted the gift?

Life with a two year old...

has it's ups and downs, to say the least. But Sage seems to have a charm and personality that is always able to put a smile on your face.

About every other day, she will say to me "I was in your belly. They cut me out." I don't even remember telling her this. I think maybe Regan did? It always makes me laugh, mostly because when she says it, it is completely out of the blue and off-topic from our current conversation or activity.

This week, she wants to be my big helper with the groceries. The challenge lies in finding bags that are light enough and safe in the hands of a two year old. Thursdays haul had the perfect items, four packages of toilet paper. Carried one at a time into the house, they bought me enough time to get the rest of the bags in without 'help'. Once I was finished, I went into the pantry to find out what, exactly, she was doing with her loot. I laughed out loud when I found that she had removed a large basket of coffee and stuff from the bottom shelf and made room for 3 of her four packages. She was so proud!

Dinner time is always a mixed bag, as you never know what kind of eating mood the girls are going to be in. Wednesday, Sage was not in the eating mood, which is nothing new. She did provide some comic relief, though, when she pulled the saran wrap from the kitchen drawer, brought it to the table and said 'wrap it up mommy!'. (Can you tell we have done this routine a time or two??)

Pics of the little one...

Well, apparently I have been going at this photoshoot thing the wrong way. A simple handful of Reese' pieces was enough to convince a two year old to put on her santa dress and let mommy take some pictures.

Now, the smile part? That took a little more creativity. Here is what you get when you ask a two year old to smile (insert the sound 'cheeeezzze' here):

But, I must have had my 'A' game on today. Here is what you get when you as a two year old what they want for Christmas....

Her answer? "My two front teeth!" followed by "Let me see the picture!!" LOL!

Now, the next challenge....both of them together! Hmmmmm........

All I want for Christmas.... my two front teeth! How can we resist singing that to this adorable toothless grin! She is starting to think it's not so cute anymore and reminds us that is NOT all she wants for Christmas!!

I took this picture in our basement today. Ideally, it would have been both girls in adorable, matching santa dresses, but the little one wanted nothing doing. I have learned that it isn't worth the fight, when she is not in the mood!

It's Thursday...

and the girls and I are nearing the end of our 'hunting widow' week. Paul will return late tomorrow evening and we will be glad to have him back.

Overall, the week has gone very well. The girls have been very well behaved, I might even say delightful!

We have enjoyed a variety of things while daddy has been gone. Eating out, renting movies, a trip to Hobby Lobby and Regan had a friend sleep over. I think all the non-routine stuff has kept it enjoyable for all of us.

Last night, we returned our movies to the Family video in Grand Haven and enjoyed a meal at G&L Chili Dogs. Corn dogs for the girls and Spaghetti for me! Yummy! The rest of the evening was filled with lots of beads, stringing them on pipe-cleaners making snowflakes and jewelry, a Dora video, ice cream (shhh...don't tell daddy it's in the freezer, Regan told me to hide it) and then off to bed for the girls.

My week with Paul away wouldn't be complete without some sort of heating related issue, so about 10pm I realized the pellet stove wasn't functioning correctly. Paul walked me through how to manually get it started again and we seem to be good to go until he gets home and can look at it.

We've made the best of this week, but I am definitely thankful to not be on this journey of life and parenting solo!

Hope your day is blessed!

We survived Halloween!

I wasn't sure if either of the girls were going to end up trick or treating or not this year! The challenges with Regan began already on Thursday, as we were 'discussing' what she was going to wear for a costume, to school the next day and out for trick or treating at night. Let's just say the conversations involved lots of whining and complaining about needing a warm enough costume and what was 'acceptable' princess attire (in the eyes of a five year old). After warnings about skipping the holiday all together, we resolved that a nice white sweater would be suitable for Cinderella to wear over her dress.

Once that was resolved, there was an attempt to begin having conversations about what Sage was going to wear, in order to be warm enough...these conversations were short lived and also accompanied by warnings of how we could just skip the festivities all together.

Regan had a great time at school. They all dressed up and had a parade outside. The Michigan weather was quite cooperative this year, with sunshine and fifty degree temperatures. Good thing too, since I am certain Cinderella probably would not have been happy about wearing a hat and mittens! LOL! Each class had a party in their rooms, with games and cupcakes and candy. Lots of fun.

The little kid nearly lost her trick or treating privileges by refusing to eat and having a major two year old attitude about it. After about 45 minutes with lots of crying, kicking, screaming, time-outs, etc....she realized we weren't relenting and decided to eat.

By the time all of this was done, we did actually manage to head out, with smiling faces and had a good time collecting candy in the neighborhood near us. Sage provided quite the entertainment, running from house to house in her giraffe costume, sometimes yelling 'hear comes the giraffe!'. She learned very quickly that a simple 'trick or treat' got candy in her bucket. I asked her if the M&Ms were for which I got a resounding 'NO!'. Later, when she got some skittles, she held them tightly to her chest and said 'Mommy, I got skittles...all for myself!' After giving daddy one her twix candy bars, she was very quick to let us know that 'I am all done sharing!'.

The girls were allowed to have two things from their stash for bedtime snack and the rest was put in containers for later (and for mommy and daddy to secretly raid!). Regan has been warned that any requests for a piece of candy will be rewarded with Mommy or Daddy eating one of her treats. So far, this has been very effective!

I think I am going to begin brainstorming a different plan for next you think I could convince them to 'trade' trick or treating for a trip to Build-A-Bear?? Hmmmm.....