Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Little Help From My Friends

Three posts in one day. I know, a little excessive. I guess since Michael is out of town I am trying to use up my words by writing. Anyway. Ok, so here's the dilemma. I want to figure out how to teach my children to listen. I know this involves long ongoing training and that it is not learned over-night. I also know that they will need periodic re-training. But, I feel that it is getting out of control and my frustration is mounting, which is never good. I want them to learn to listen to authority and do what is asked of them the first time they are asked. I do not feel that I am approaching this lesson the right way. This problem manifests itself in different ways with the kids. Isabella has gotten really bad about arguing. She will argue with us about anything that she doesn't agree with. We will ask her to do it and then if she doesn't want to do it or she doesn't think she should have to do it then she starts arguing in a manner that would make any lawyer proud. I try to say, "this is not up for discussion", but this just results in her getting louder. At this point I get angry and either spank or send her to timeout. But, I do not feel that even with the consequences anything is changing. Micah on the other hand, does not argue, he just doesn't do what I ask if he doesn't want to. I got a note from the teacher asking me to remind Micah that he needs to listen and do what is asked of him the FIRST time. I know boys have a harder time with this (my husband is not a good listener either) but I don't want to excuse it just because he is a boy. And Aria, well, she is pretty manageable now but I would still like for her to learn while she is young as opposed to me backtracking when she is older. So, it's your turn. What do you think? I would appreciate any advice you have to give. If something has worked for you with your children or worked with you when your parents were parenting you, I'd love to know it. Thanks friends!!!

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY






Today is not only a sad day but also a very important day to celebrate. Today is my anniversary. I have been married to my wonderful husband for 9 years. Nine years ago today I walked down the isle in a little country church and pledged my life to Michael Smith Jr. I had no idea what that meant but I do now. God knew exactly what he was doing when he brought Michael into my life. Here are just a few reasons why I love my man:

1. Very few men would have endured so patiently with a wife who suffered for several years with low self-esteem, intense fear of abandonment, jealousy, depression (including post-partem depression). I am happy to say that God healed me of those things and I haven't suffered them since 2002.
2. I have a wonderful husband who thinks that since I cooked dinner and he knows that I love a clean kitchen in the morning he cleans it for me.
3. He has helped me learn (along with my YA's) how to become more organized.
4. He is a great father to our children
5. He loves the Lord and is learning every day what it means to be a committed follower of Christ.
6. He tells me all the time that I am beautiful
7. He thinks I am his hero
8. He wants to be able to give me the world, even though I am happy with what we have.
9. He is a protector of the women in my life. He loves my mother and my sister as if they were his own. He pampers them just like he pampers me.
10. And most importantly, he just plain adores me!!

How could I not love this man!!! He is amazing!!! I love you Michael Hart Smith Jr.

LET US NEVER FORGET

My oldest was 3 months, I was at church teaching the children while their mothers attended Bible Study. I was struggling through post-partum depression, exhaustion, and being a new mom. A girl came into the classroom and said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center in NY. We didn't know what that meant but assumed it was a horrible accident. Class continued...life continued. A little while later the woman came back and said that the other building had been hit. WHAT THE...? Ok, so probably not an accident, but what? At this point, life started to slow and anxiety began to creep in. Shortly after that, the moms came and got their kids. Nobody knew what was going on, so for the most part, life continued. I got Isabella and went home. I turned on the TV and watched as the remaining tragedies unfolded. Michael was out of town, but thank God he had driven. Anxiety turned to fear and then to panic. As the day unfolded I couldn't help but be overwhelmed with the idea that I had just brought a child into THIS!!! Oh my goodness! What have I done? I called Michael and told him to come home.

Even now 7 years later, I still get emotional. Let us never forget what happened that day. Let us never forget the lives that were lost, but more importantly let us never forget the lives that had to continue despite the fact that they were forever changed. Let us never forget how united we were as a country in those days/weeks/months that followed. We were no longer democrat or republican, black or white, gay or straight...WE WERE AMERICANS!!! And let us never forget the heros that served our country on that day and still serve our country today to protect our FREEDOM!! Let us never forget that freedom isn't free! I praise God that we are so blessed as a nation. I praise God that we found hope in the midst of chaos. I praise God that we are FREE!!! !

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

JACK OF ALL TRADES-WITH A PURPOSE

Live like noone else...Gazelle-like intensity...
These are two phrases that you will hear if you listen to Dave Ramsey. Michael and I just completed Dave Ramsey's 13-week bible study called Financial Peace University. We are ferociously trying to complete Baby Steps #1 and #2, which are getting $1000 in an Emergency Fund. This covers the little emergencies of life that seem to stress us because we haven't budgeted for them in our regular budget, such as a blown tire, a new water pump on the car, a broken arm, a kidney stone, etc. After that is done then Baby Step #2 is pay off debt. That is where the living like noone else comes in. I often think that I am crazy but in this case crazy is going to be good. I am tired of living like everyone else, racking up debt and just paying the minimum balances that never get the balance down. God says in His word that "the borrower is a slave to the lender". I am tired of being a slave!!!! So, Michael and I are getting intense with our debt snowball. About a month ago I started keeping a little girl who is 3 1/2, but that is only 2 days a week. So, I started applying for jobs that I could work in the evening and on the weekends. Starbucks, Target, waitress jobs, and retail stores. Well, this weekend I applied at the Disney Store and got the job. I start on the 20th and will be working nights and weekends. Then last night I interviewed with a couple who has a 5 week old baby girl. They asked if I could keep her 2 days a week. So, I start tomorrow with that. Am I crazy? Definitely, maybe. But, it is with a purpose...to put every penny I make towards our debt and get out of this life of slavery. I am angry!!! Although not at the future but at the past. We got ourselves into the mess but I refuse to stay here any longer than I have to. 2008 is the Year of the Finances in the Smith household, we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds. I ask all of you who read this to keep us in your prayers, because there are days when this is very difficult. I hate that I will be giving up books and prayers with my kids at night and fun weekends with the family, but I hate even more knowing that as the banks get rich and build bigger, fancier buildings and my future house is getting smaller and smaller. D-O-N-E!!! I AM DONE!!!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

My Prayer

Today was youth Sunday at our church. I just love youth Sunday. I love to see our Christian leaders of tomorrow taking an active role in leading their elders. It's been a while since I have been in a service lead by the youth. But, Michael and I agreed that today's service was different. As we watched and listened to these young men and women, ranging in age from 6th to 12th grade, we were overwhelmed. As we watched the one playing the guitar, singing his heart out (with no microphone near him), and jumping up and down in praise, I could see Micah someday, and could only pray that someday he will have that much passion for is Lord and Savior. As I watched the kids singing in the choir and seeing a couple of girls just smiling and worshipping and having fun doing it, I could see my girls and all I could do was pray for them to become women of integrity, honor, passion, and conviction. I had a hard time watching them without welling up with tears. It is only a few years away. They are growing up so fast, too fast if you ask me. I want so much for my children to grow up and be passionate for Jesus. And I pray that that passion can come without too much suffering and rebellion. But, I know one thing...I want to see my children growing in their relationships with Jesus and having fun while they do it. So today, I pray for all of our children.

Lord Jesus, I want to thank you today for the children that you have entrusted in our care, for however long you have chosen to give them to us. I thank you for how you have used them to changed our lives. I pray that you will continue to work in our lives as their parents so that we can be good examples of transforming grace and passion for You. I pray for our children that you will grow them up to be men and women of integrity, honor, and conviction. May we be parents that help foster the gifts that you have placed in them, that we will resist the temptation to push them into fitting into our molds of what we want them to be, and allow them enough freedom to become what you created them to be. Protect them, Lord, from making poor choices, and when they do, because we know they will, give us the courage and wisdom to give them the appropriate consequences. Most of all, we praise you Jesus for loving our children more than we do. It seems impossible because we love them so much, but you created them, you knit them together in our wombs, you picked this time for them to be born, and you chose us to be their parents. Thank you for loving them and thank you for trusting us with them. I pray we will be the best stewards of their lives as we possibly can with your grace. In Jesus name. Amen.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Monday, September 01, 2008

An Angel Amoung Us

You don’t have to be poor to feel the financial pinch these days. With rising gas and food prices it is barely possible to make the same salary as two years ago and maintain the same way of life. Michael and I have been doing everything we can to lower our standard of living, not only because we’ve had to but also because we have been implementing Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace principle’s into our family. one of the first things we did when starting this new way of life was to get on a budget and start paying cash for everything. Michael and I have never been on a budget, at least not a workable one, but after tracking our expenses for three months we got a better idea of how our money is spent and finally got on a much needed workable budget.

One thing that shocked me when I tracked our expenses was the amount of money that we spend on food every month. 95% of our food budget is groceries. We rarely eat out, maybe once a week if that. We eat left-overs, I use coupons, and bargain shop, and yet the $$ amount surprised me. So, I started talking to people and realized that we were in “normal” range for a family our size and that with the rising food costs it would only get worse. So, I got even more serious. No eating out at all, comparison shopping, coupons, sales, you name I did it and even with all that work I still could only get the grocery budget down about $100 a month.

Then I decided to check out something that I heard about about three years ago when we were living in Texas. I heard about a nationwide ministry called Angel Food Ministries. It is non-profit ministry that provides high-quality food products for about half the cost. Churches around the country team up with the ministry as host sites where you can place your orders and pick them up. When I first heard about them I didn’t get involved, mainly because I didn’t feel that I qualified, even though on their website they say, “If you eat, you qualify.” So, when we moved here I found a church near us that is a host site and I decided to try it. I ordered enough food for dinners for a month for $110. I want to share with you what I got, because I believe that we are not alone and many of you reading this are trying to find ways to make your budget work without having to get a raise or another job. Here is what I got with this months menu:

1.5 lb. Ribeye Steaks (4 x 6 oz.)

10 ct. Frozen Waffles

5 lb. Chicken Leg Quarters

16 oz. Bean Soup Mix

28 oz. Chicken Breast Nuggets

1 lb. Rice

28 oz. Salisbury Steak Dinner Entrée

9 oz. Instant Potatoes (14 servings)

32 oz. Breaded Chicken Breast Filets

15 oz. Sliced Peaches

1 lb. Smoked Sausage

32 oz. Borden Shelf Stable Milk

16 oz. California Blend Frozen Vegetables

1 Dozen Eggs

16 oz. Frozen Carrots


16 oz. Frozen Chopped Spinach

1 Dessert Item

ALL THIS FOR THE LOW COST OF JUST…….. $30.00

I ordered three of these menu’s and then ordered a grill special for $20 that had:

1.5 lb. Baseball Cut Sirloin Filet (4 x 6 oz. – Thick Cut),
2 lbs. Juicy Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast,
2 lbs. St. Louis-Style Ribs,
1.5 lb. Hamburger Patties (4 x 6 oz.)

We have been eating the food and it is no different than food would buy at the store. And I expect that doing this will cut our grocery bill in half. I still have to buy milk, eggs, lunch meat, condiments, etc but this is saving bundles on the bulk of our grocery bill which is dinner. I encourage you to check them out. See if there is a church near you that is a host site. Go to the website (www.angelfoodministries.com) and read about them and how they are able to do what they do. God bless!!!

My Little Blessings