Monday, November 26, 2007

True Worship

Yesterday at church was one of those mornings where I shuttled from one thing to the next without feeling like I did anything well. I missed Sunday school because I was nursing Charlie and then it was too late to join the class without majorly interrupting. Joe was assisting in the worship service and so that means he is up front until just before the sermon; he comes and sits with us during the sermon. Will and Joseph are usually quite squirmy and need lots of redirection some mornings during church. Yesterday was one of those. About 5 minutes into the sermon, Charlie was too fitful to be in the service (and I thought that he might be getting sick and so he couldn't go in the nursery) and so I slipped out to take care of him.

As I was walking out to the car after church, I started to feel sorry for myself. I hadn't worshiped. I had been distracted and doing something for my children all morning rather than worshiping. I missed Sunday School. I had a few quick, surface conversations with other believers, but not much substantive. All I wanted to do was to be able to worship God without interruptions. Is that too much to ask? Why am I always so busy with my children? Why don't they behave/sit quietly/not need me so much so that I can at least participate in church? Why can't I do what I want to do?

As I walked out to the car thinking about this, I realized something vital.

This is my worship

Being a mama to these boys that the Lord has given me. Obediently submitting to His call on my life. Focusing on their discipline instead of my agenda. Caring for a baby. Reacting with peace when plans don't go my way.

To obey is better than sacrifice. 1 Samuel 15:22b

There is nothing magic about being about to sit through a sermon quietly, or going to Sunday School, or talking with other Christians that makes going to church be true worship. The Lord God is real and active, and by obeying Him in doing the work that He has given me to do in being a wife and mama, I am worshiping Him with my life.

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. John 4:23

Crystal wrote a post along these same lines that talks about how she has realized that her ministry right now is her family. It was right on target. And especially pertinent to a pastor's wife. It is too easy to neglect the simple and sometimes mundane in favor of "ministry." The good can trump the best.

Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven

by Henry F. Lyte

Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Evermore His praises sing:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King.

Frail as summer’s flower we flourish,
Blows the wind and it is gone;
But while mortals rise and perish
Our God lives unchanging on,
Praise Him, Praise Him, Hallelujah
Praise the High Eternal One!

I have loved looking at the rich texts of all of the verses in the hymns that I post each week. However, in order to focus on a more manageable chunk, I am going to post fewer verses each time. I'll always include the link to the whole hymn too though. See the rest here.

Friday, November 23, 2007

CVS Black Friday deals

Meg and I ran to CVS early yesterday morning to get these great deals. Crystal's write-up of some of them is here. There are lots of things that are free after ECBs and you can stack many with printable online coupons. The ads that list the free things were in the newspapers, but you can see them here too.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving! Now let's get crafty!

Go and see what a beautiful centerpiece Meredith made with her kids for Thanksgiving. Here is the Holland version. Can you tell that I am not at all a craft person? Still, I was pretty proud of myself since I am not creative. Thankfully, Meredith is and included step by step instructions and picture. At least I can follow directions....

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Rainy Sunday

Today Joe preached and served communion at the homecoming service of a small church about an hour from here. We enjoyed the potluck lunch after the service and the gracious hospitality of the people there. It was a very Southern experience all around. Here are a few verses of an excellent communion hymn that focuses on the believer's awe in response to Christ's sacrifice (see the whole song here).

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded
by Ber­nard of Clair­vaux

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Do you CVS?

I have been learning how to "CVS" (yes, the drugstore and yes, it can be used as a verb apparently) for the past few months. I started by buying the items each month that earned equal money back in Extra Bucks and therefore are basically free as long as you remember to pay with the Extra Bucks the next time you go to CVS. Extra Bucks print out on the bottom of your receipt and can be used like cash at CVS stores. Then, I starting finding manufacturer coupons for the items that earned Extra Bucks, meaning that now I was getting paid to buy things. Next, I realized that I should break my transaction into several smaller transactions to be able to use a CVS store coupon with each transaction and to use the Extra Bucks from one transaction to pay for the next transaction. Now, I am learning to add more store coupons and rebates, as well as trying to minimize my cash expenditures so that I am only paying with Extra Bucks.

I just have to show what I got today.
The total rang up to just under $100. After all of my coupons, I paid $23 dollars in Extra Bucks and just 12 cents in cash! And I earned $10 in Extra Bucks for next time. The net loss in Extra Bucks is for the milk because everything else that I bought earned as many Extra Bucks as it cost.

Right now, this is taking me a ridiculous amount of time to read the ad and find the right coupons, which must be factored into the equation when considering if it is all worth it. However, I am getting faster and faster and have already cut down on my preparation time. For example, one huge lesson was learning that I don't have to clip every coupon in the paper. I can just look in the ad online and then clip only the coupons for the things that I am going to buy for an Extra Buck deal that week.

If you are interested in learning how to CVS to cut down on your grocery and household items budget, I highly suggest that you start with MoneySaving Mom. Crystal has a CVS primer that explains the basics and she posts some of the best deals each week. Hot coupon world posts the CVS ad and the coupons available each week (here is the link to 11/18-11/24) as does SlickDeals (here is 11/18-11/24). Both include links to online coupons that you can easily print. The post at SlickDeals is a wiki of each week's ads and so readers edit it to add whatever coupons they find. Both sites also have extensive discussion forums on CVS deals where it is possible to waste lots of time. Here is HCW's and here is the CVS discussion on SlickDeals. I'm learning to stay away! Both also have lots of coupons if you have time to click around.

Anyway, in another month or so, I hope to understand all of this well enough to use a few extra minutes here and there to dramatically cut back on our grocery bill. And, I am planning on using some of my great CVS finds in gift baskets for Christmas presents to cut back on our Christmas spending.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Eating an elephant

I just sent in an extra payment towards our mortgage and it feels so good! Our major financial goal right now is to pay off this house and we are on track to do so in 2-3 years. I wrote a while back that we were trying to sell this house to move into town into something cheaper. After sitting on the market for 4 months with very little interest, we decided to take it off of the market last week. We probably will list it again in the spring. In the meantime, the house not selling has caused us to recommit to paying down the mortgage as fast as we can. It was such a nice feeling to put that check in the mailbox! I can't wait until we are debt free (and yes, I'm planning on calling Dave when we do it)!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Weekend news

Joe is in Belize this weekend on a quick mission trip with one of the elders from our church. The boys and I have been doing well and having fun. I think since I am the only one here, I have given myself permission to be the "fun" parent some too instead of leaving that to Joe while I usually am the "get things done" parent.

Church with all 4 to myself tomorrow should be an adventure.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Guns and good wives

Joe read from Proverbs today about the foolish or wayward woman. He told the boys that it would be their job to choose a good wife and that they should watch out for bad women.

Will's response?

"But, we will buy guns and shoot the bad women!"

I'm thinking that Joe might need to do our morning devotions on the 6th commandment tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

My men

I decided to use this morning to try to take a picture of all 4 of my boys. I re-dressed everyone in clean clothes (it was only 9:00, but they were already dirty from playing outside and I wanted matching outfits) and washed 4 little faces. I wet down and brushed everyone's hair (although Will's still sticks up no matter what I do). I brought the tape player into the living room and turned on a happy Sesame Street tape (a fun gift from a friend who is decluttering and gives us all of her old homeschooling and baby/young child type things). I grabbed a rattle to keep Charlie's attention and later even brought in a bag of chocolate chips for a treat for smiling.

"Sit still."
"Hands in your laps."
"David, take your finger out of your nose."
"Look at me."
"Sit still!"
"Say cheese."
"David, take your finger out of your nose!"

....It was a fun morning....Here are some of the outtakes. If you know me in real life, you'll just have to wait to see if I get my act together enough to send out Christmas cards to see the best shot.

Joe and I decided that this one captures our boys' personalities amazingly. Joseph, our firstborn, serious, methodical, helpful, and down to business. William, number 2, a fun-loving goofball with a lot of silliness and spunk. David, our third, is pictured here kind of fussy--which he is. But not to only capture a negative trait (even though it is his most defining characteristic right now), he is also a sweet, tender-hearted, tag-a-long to his big brothers, especially Joseph. When they play outside, I can usually find him following about 10 steps behind Joseph. And Charlie, our sweet baby, such a sweet disposition. We'll see how he grows and develops.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sunday Hymn

Jesus, I Come by William T. Sleeper

Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of my sickness, into Thy health,
Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of my shameful failure and loss,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of earth’s sorrows into Thy balm,
Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of unrest and arrogant pride,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy bless├Ęd will to abide,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love,
Out of despair into raptures above,
Upward for aye on wings like a dove,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of the fear and dread of the tomb,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the joy and light of Thy throne,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of the depths of ruin untold,
Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold,
Jesus, I come to Thee.