Friday, November 17, 2017

David Crowder Concert

Several weeks ago I found out The David Crowder Band was coming to a college campus less than 10 minutes from our home. Since that is one of my favorite Christian artists, of course I wanted to go very badly! I knew we shouldn’t spend the money since we were still 7K away from paying off all our debt (minus real estate) but I couldn’t shake the desire to be there and experience a beautiful night of worship so last minute, I asked Isaac if he wanted to go and we took off. The Lord blessed us with 2nd row seats and we had such a great view of all the band members and vast array of instruments. It was beautiful! I hadn’t been to concert since I was a teenager and of course Isaac had never been. He was enthralled with the whole thing and we both had the best time experiencing it together. Between the concert and a snack afterwards at a local restaurant and leaving a generous tip, I spent $55.06 that night. I know you guys are shocked after how tight I have been for so many years and because our debt isn’t over paid off, but you know what? I don’t regret it one bit! I don’t want to be irresponsible but I also realize that I can’t get these years back with my son. I have spent far more time working and worrying about finances than I have living and having fun. That night I decided that no more am I going to miss a beautiful experience with one of our kids because I am so stressed out over finances. I will continue to budget wisely and plan ahead but post debt there will definitely be a new category in our budget titled Family Fun!


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Cherishing Our Weekends

 As the weather turns warmer, we are getting more and more excited about planting all kinds of things on our land. We have now had our land for almost 3 years but this is the first year that we are really trying to get several things growing. Our house is still far from finished but with 5 hungry kids and our grocery bill at $1000/month now, we are ready to grow as much of our own food as we can!
 We are excited that a Rural King has opened in Radford and we love going there as a family to get supplies for our little farm.

We love to hit up the Cold Stone Creamery on Tyler Rd to use up our 1/2 off coupons that we collect off the back of our Kroger receipts every week.

Isaac and Susanna with "Nordicorn". Somebody gave Grace this little boo-eyed unicorn on the bus and she gave it to Sue. Sue got attached to it and named it "Nordicorn.". She is taking it everywhere she goes right now and we are all paranoid about keeping up with "Nordicorn" while we are out.

We picked up our first apple tree and 2 blueberry bushes at Rural King. Fruit trees, bushes and garden supplies are not cheap so we will just have to do a little at a time out of each paycheck.

We absolutely love sitting outside around our fire pit as a family and have already had several fires this year. We talk and bond and sometimes the kids will play on the trampoline in the dark. With Daniel and I both working now, our weekends at home to rest and bond as a family are very important to us, it recharges our batteries for the week ahead. We love this stage that our family is in and want to enjoy every minute we have together. 

Because moments like these will pass all too soon...

Monday, February 27, 2017

King of the World, King of my Thoughts.

        As I was driving to work this morning, I was letting discouragement take over my heart. I knew it would be another 8-9 hour day at work plus one hour of driving time and I was feeling guilty and sad about leaving my precious kids. Paying off debt has been such a long and agonizing process and the price has been high.
    I turned on the radio in an attempt to put these discouraging thoughts out of my head and this song came on. It totally blessed me and I had to share it!

King of the World

Just a whisper of your voice can tame the seas. So who am I to
Take the lead? Still I run ahead and think I'm strong enough.
When you're the one who made me from dust.

When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world.
How could I make you so small When you're the one who holds it
all. When did I forget that you've always been the King of the world?

Oh you set it all in motion every single moment, You brought it all
to me and you're holding onto me.

The Rich Property

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Fleeting Moments

       As those of you close to us know, this has been a stressful year for me and for our family. It has been yet another year of really hard work and doing our utmost to clean up financial mistakes that began nearly 10 years ago with a foolish home purchase and two failed business opportunities. We are doing all we can to get our family to a place of living a debt-free, financially free life, Not so that we can live lavishly but to create greater opportunities for our children and to be able to give generously as the Lord leads. We are so tired of financial stress and after nearly 14 years of marriage, we are ready to be a in place where we no longer have to stress so much over finances.  We know that we are getting there with God's help! I think the hardest part is the time we have missed with our kids, they are growing up so fast and we know we can't ever get this time back with them. I have chosen to trust God to redeem the time and the vacations that we have missed together and focus more on the quality of the time that we do get together, not the quantity. As of  now, I am working five days per week and helping run a home school co-op one day per week making Saturday the only day I do not work outside the home. One of my goals for this year is to put stress aside when I am at home and look for every opportunity to create special memories with my kids even when I am tired and not in the mood. This beautiful warm week created some perfect opportunities to do just that and was glorious! 

We jumped on the trampoline...

Played in the sand...
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Ran and walked around our property barefoot...
Tried to improve our speed...

Gathered sticks for a fire and watched our little country bumkin break them barefoot and throw them on the fire...

Snuggled the cats...

And talked/snuggled around the the fire as a family until well into the night...

      Lord, help me not to give into busyness and stress and to say yes more often to these incredible, fleeting opportunities that You use to knit our hearts and our family closer together and closer to You!

Ephesians 5:15-17 
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but was wise,making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Fun Lazy Christmas Break Morning

Cuddling Susanna and Big Tom
      I don't have to go in to work today until 1:00pm. so the kids and I have had a wonderful, fun, lazy morning.  I struggle to relax and do fun things with my kids because I am stressed about constantly being behind in the house. I am definitely a type-A personality and I have a hard time with my house being messy and filthy. However, this week for my birthday, Daniel and the kids blessed my socks off by cleaning up the house for me. It was the best present ever! They got me other gifts but none could compare to the luxury of my home being cleaned up for me. It gave me the gift of time, time for mornings like this...

I pulled out this book I have had for awhile by Lisa Whelchel. I love it because it lists most Christmas traditions and how they point us to Christ. This morning we read about the Christmas tree and how it is a symbol of life. Jesus came and died on a tree that we may have eternal life (1 Peter 2:24). We talked about how the triangular shape of the tree with three points can represent the trinity, God the Father, God the son, and God the Holy Spirit. We noted how the tree points toward heaven just as we can always be pointing others toward heaven.

 When we were finished reading about the tradition of Christmas trees, the book suggested taking sugar cones, green icing and mini M&M's to make our own edible Christmas trees.
 The kids got very into this. Susanna spent a full hour on her trees!

 Most of us chose not to eat our finished trees and put them on a cake plate to use for a pretty countertop decoration instead. 

I hope you all are enjoying your kids being on Christmas break as much as I am!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

5 Things to Remember When Interacting With Mothers of Babies and Toddlers

I have wanted to write a post like this for some time but didn't think that I should until we were on the other side of the trenches! My oldest child  is 12 now and my youngest is almost 4.  It is hard to believe that we spent the first 10 years of our marriage dealing with incessant morning sickness, nursing babies and changing diapers. I must say that even though we still have a house full of kids, things are way different now! This is the first year that I have felt we are out of the trenches. All the joys and frustrations of being a family made up of primarily babies and toddlers is still fresh on my mind though and I don't want to forget how I felt when it comes my time to minister to our kids and others who are in this stage. Empathy is a game changer!

My 4 oldest children ranging in age from 5 years to 5 months

1. Keep your expectations low or non-existent

Mothers of multiple babies and toddlers in the house can easily feel completely, utterly, emotionally and physically drained especially during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Hormones play a large part and they can easily get overwhelmed and be driven to tears. Do not ask them to bring a dish to a potluck or expect them to do anything other than get there with their children which can totally wear them out!  Remember that packing for babies and toddlers even for a day trip, planning around naps and getting the baby nursed before you go is quite a feat! In fact, don't be upset if they decide it is just too stressful to attend the event at all. If they do come to an event, let them know that you appreciate the effort it took!

2. LOVE is spelled B-A-B-Y-S-I-T 

Don't make her ask you because she will feel like a burden to you. Offer to do it joyfully and then let her know how much you enjoyed her children while she took some time to rest or rebuild her marriage. Daniel and I are to a place where we are no longer desperate for someone to babysit our children but run back the clock a few years when we were so exhausted and we would have about killed for it! Not really, but you get the picture! Being in a season of babies and toddlers can put a strain on a marriage and it is so hard because these couples are most often not in a position to shell out $10/hr for babysitting or pay for a restaurant meal on top of it to get some time away!

3. Understand that Mothers of babies and toddlers want an organized/clean/decorated home as much as you do. 

Whatever you do, don't tell her that this is just a season and that one day she can have this. She desperately craves a sense of peace and order now more than ever! Nesting urges are strong during this season because she is having to be at home ALOT. No matter what you say, an organized/clean/decorated home will be something she is constantly trying to achieve. The best thing you can do is jump in and and offer to help her with it! Can you buy some storage solutions and clean out a closet? Can you come by and deep clean a child's room? Can you take her van to be cleaned? Ask if there are any organizing/cleaning/decorating chores you could help with! A project completed will help a young mom feel encouraged and inspired! Remember that young mothers often feel mortified about the state of their house and vehicle and avoid any comments causing them further embarrassment or highlighting failure in this area. Most young mothers cannot afford housecleaning help. I remember crying some days because my house was so messy and I didn't have the energy to clean it! A good way to offer the help would be to ask what she would like help with so as not to highlight specific failures.

4. Do not give unsolicited advice

Avoid comments beginning with "You Should" at all costs! If you think you could handle life better with their number of children and their financial resources, go for it. Tell her you will move in for a week or two while she flies overseas with her husband and let you prove you can do it better than she can.  If a young mom wants advice, she will ask for it from someone and it will likely be someone who has dealt with a similar size family or who is in the trenches doing it with them. There are tons of advice articles on the web and books at her disposal these days. Unsolicited advice will only make her feel like you don't think she is doing a good enough job and she may want to run and hide from you. I remember being given the advice to have a formal meal with my children when they were little to help teach them manners because their manners weren't good enough. I was appalled! It was all I could do to even slap a simple meal on the table much less have a formal meal. I was so busy running back and forth cutting up everyone's food, cleaning up spilled drinks, picking up half the food I had just cooked off the floor and taking people potty that I couldn't even sit down to eat some nights. I will never forget what it was like for it to be all I could do to get through dinner and how exhausting it was to clean up the tornado afterwards.

5. Encourage, Encourage, Encourage!

I think the main thing that plagued me more than anything as mother of multiple babies and toddlers was discouragement.  Questions often ran through my head such as...Am I doing enough? Am I a good mom? Why can't I ever get the house clean, organized and pretty? Comparison is hard to avoid during this season. Look for things that the young mother is doing well and avoid bringing up the areas you think she falls short with her children. If you see that her children are helpful, compliment her on it! If you see that her children have a heart for the Lord, tell her! Any good that you see, be quick to tell her and let her know that she is doing a good job! Let her know that you are praying for her during this season and that you are proud of the job she is doing. Love her well during this season that will be gone all too soon. May I never forget what it was like to be a mother of babies and toddlers! Lord help me to  always offer up plenty of grace for these exhausted, courageous mothers raising up the next generation!

5 kids ages 8 and under! 

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Our Family of Seven's Quest To Become Debt- Free and Live That Way For Life

       I know that many of you are wondering how our journey of becoming debt free is transpiring. The naked truth is that the process has worn us out so much that there just hasn't been a lot of time for blogging and making You Tube videos. When we have free time, we want to just relax! I will tell you some things we have been doing lately to earn extra money.

1. Daniel quit Papa Johns for the Summer and started a mowing business with our boys ages 11 and 12.
2. I have been picking up extra shifts when I can at the local hospital working as a CNA.
3. I Have been finding things to sell around the house and picking up free things to sell for people who don't want to fool with it.
4. I have been finding loose change around the house to roll up until I have a substantial amount
5. I have been filling out online surveys on a site called Swagbucks to earn points toward Amazon gift cards to help pay for grocery items.

I know it may seem crazy for a typical, middle class family to do things like this, but the truth is that we are learning to live in freedom and not care what others think about our family. I wouldn't say we have arrived but we are getting there! Far too many Americans are drowning in debt because they care too much about what others think. Many are far too embarrassed to be seen delivering pizza or working as a CNA or mowing lawns. Sometimes it is hard to stand tall and tell others what is really going on in our lives but we believe that God has chosen us to go down this road for a purpose and right now we are climbing uphill and hitting every pothole you can imagine. We are tired and weary yet we know we must press on even when frustration attempts to overtake us on the road. We originally set a date to be free of debt by April 2017 but we have now changed our target date to Isaac's 13th birthday which is May 8, 2017. Our children have made a ton of sacrifices along with us and oh how glorious it would be to enter our children's teen years free of debt and celebrate that on his birthday. Please pray for us that God will continue to give us strength and joy on this journey, If you are also on a similar journey, please let us know so that we can pray for you and support you!
P.S. Hopefully Daniel can update soon with the numbers you are dying to know and how much we have paid off since our last update!