Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Easy Homemade Granola Bars

I love trying to make snacks and meals from scratch.  Not all the time of course, but I kinda enjoy the challenge, and it makes you feel good (when it's successful, at least..).  ;)

I used to love the Quaker Oatmeal Chewy Granola Bars.  I thought they were SO good.  Well, no longer, my friends.  This recipe at The Suburban Jungle is definitely tastier (and cheaper!).

Out of respect for her blog, I'm not posting the recipe here.  I don't think it's very fair to copy everything to my own blog when I could just send the traffic her way, considering she made the recipe.  ;)

So, go ahead and check out the recipe... I'll wait here.

I'll tell you what I do differently.

  • I double the base recipe, just because I want to make more at one time.  
  • Then, I add about a cup of chocolate chips.  I've tried Dark Chocolate Chips, because I figured it was a little healthier...they have antioxidants!!  ;)  
  • I haven't tried any of the other optional items, but when I haven't had any rice krispies, I've just used all oats, which isn't bad, but not as good.  
  • I've also substituted Rice Krispies with whatever cereal I have on hand, such as Honey Bunches of Oats or Chex.  Those were both yummy.  
So, the recipe seems to be pretty flexible.

Plus, you don't have to bake it!  How awesome is that??  Love this recipe!!

Sometimes I cut them up into pieces, individually wrap them with saran wrap, and place them in a ziploc bag. That way, you can just grab one on the go.  Unfortunately, this hasn't happened lately.  (I should probably mention that I did it that way before I had a little one to keep up with!)  We usually end up just eating them out of the pan, which is delicious, although a little dangerous because of how accessible it is.  ;)

Hope y'all enjoy!

I party here!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Keeping a clean house... with a baby

As far as I can remember, my mom has always cleaned the whole house every Friday.  She's really good at keeping things clean and tidy.  I, on the other hand, not so much.

Throughout college, my room was a mess with clothes all over the floor, and I would occasionally clean.  It's actually slightly disturbing to think about my college years, because I don't remember cleaning very often.

These days, it's a different story.  I love having a clean house, but it's difficult to get it that way, or keep it that way.  The culprit?

This was the first time she discovered how fun it is to pull out the DVDs, you know... back when it was still cute?  ;)
A 14 month old little girl.

It's really difficult at first to schedule your life around your baby.  Can I get an Amen??

That's what I had to do though.  After she was born, I was too exhausted to care about keeping the house clean.  What new mom has time for that?!  If she was sleeping, then I was either sleeping or doing something to make sure I stayed sane (enough).

Later on, I began to realize that I needed to make some changes if I wanted to have a clean house.  It was impossible to clean everything in one day, so I had to do some planning.

This is as tidy as it gets in this area... (on another note, do you think she has enough toys??)  ;)
Each day, I do at least one load of laundry as well as (at least) one big household chore.  This may be cleaning the bathrooms, vacuuming, dusting, mopping, whatever.  Of course, I still have to do the dishes, clean the kitchen, cook, etc. every day.  With this method, my house is never spotless, but at least it's clean!  No more of those days where I clean the house from top to bottom in a few hectic hours in preparation for visitors... that's just stressful!

If you've been around here long, you know about my planning board.  This idea has been a life-saver for me.  Now, I just write certain chores to do each day of the week, and then usually, by Friday, I have some spare time to do something fun!  :)

For example, here is my schedule for today:

  • Wash Towels
  • Vacuum
  • Clean Dishwasher
Mommy's little 'helper'... see those cute little legs??
I've accomplished the first two things on my list, and I doubt I'll get to the last one, considering the dishwasher is full at the moment.  Since I've completed (most) of my list, I have time to do other things!  So, now I'm washing our comforter, working on a craft project, and blogging!  :)  It sure makes you feel good to accomplish the things on your to-do list at the end of the day!  

Does anybody else have some good tips??

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cloth Diapers

Diapers are expensive over time, even if you buy the cheapest kind each time.  It's just how it is.  Whenever I use a disposable diaper, sometimes I'm tempted to leave it on as long as I can to get my money's worth.  The problem with this, though, is that it can lead to the evil diaper rash.

Before I had M, as I was stalking reading another blog, I found a post about cloth diapers.

I'm not talking about the kind of cloth diapers that your momma used...  (although I'm sure there are still people who still like to use them.)

cloth diaper myths
Picture Source
I'm talking about these...

Pic Source

Being the girly girl that I am, I will admit that I was originally attracted to the idea because of their cuteness.  :)  My husband and I started researching them and discovered that you can save a TON of money going this route.  Yes, you have to pay that first painful amount to buy the cloth diapers, but then, you don't have to keep paying to buy more every other week or so.  We ended up getting BumGenius Diapers One-Size Diapers.  They are supposed to last through potty-training (one-size adjustable diapers), and we should be able to use them on multiple kids.  

We started using the cloth diapers when M was around 4 months old, just because newborns are ALWAYS dirty or wet, plus we had diapers from baby showers.  It was a bit of an adjustment at first, but overall I loved them!  

I know what you're thinking... "It's SO much easier to just use a disposable".  Well, it is easier, but cloth diapers aren't as difficult as you may think.

We originally bought two kinds.  The first kind is the BumGenius Organic All-in-One One size diaper, shown below.

I actually thought this kind would be our favorite.  It has snaps, which made it seem like it would last longer.  It also requires no extra effort.  You open the diaper, put it on, or take it off.  Sadly, I was disappointed in this style.  The snaps are a little difficult, and two of them broke.  :(  (BumGenius DOES have a one year warranty on their diapers, which you can read more about here.)  I was also annoyed with these because M kept leaking in them, and would get a diaper rash.  However, this may have been partially our fault.  We didn't have our hot water hooked up at the time, so we may not have washed them properly.  In the end, we sold them because they weren't working as well as we hoped.  I'm sure there are others who like this style, but we just decided to stick with the other style we bought.

The kind that I'm loving now is the BumGenius 3.0 One size pocket diaper (now they have 4.0).  It comes with 2 inserts (one small and one big) that you put inside a pocket of the diaper, which absorbs the moisture.  I don't have a picture of M wearing this kind, but here is a picture of them.  (They have lots of cute colors!)
Here's a video that explains how it works, just because it's difficult to explain without showing you in person.  ;)

Obviously these have velcro, which is a little easier because it's more like a disposable.  I was worried about velcro wearing out faster, and it probably will eventually, but I read here that you can get replacement kits for free.  This website is very helpful, and I'm saving it in my favorites for the day I have to replace the velcro!

It absorbs VERY well, and the layer between the insert and M's skin is always dry!  It really pulls the moisture away from her skin, which is SO much better.  So this is my favorite now!  It's a little extra work putting the inserts in, but it's not hard at all.  So here is the process, to give you an idea.

What about poopy diapers you ask?  Well, yes, those are a bit nasty, but still not too bad.  ;)  We bought a diaper sprayer off of ebay for a cheap price.  They have them for like $40 on some sites, but look on ebay--they're MUCH cheaper.

So when we have a poopy diaper, I just take it to the toilet, turn on the sprayer and spray off as much poop as I can into the toilet.  It can be messy if you aren't careful, but I just stick it far down in the toilet to avoid it spraying outside of it.  (If you don't already clean your toilet regularly, now is the time to start!)  Then I pull out the insert and throw it, along with the diaper into the diaper pail liner (wet bag).  (We didn't buy it from this site, but it's the same thing)  


We keep the wet bag inside a really good trash can to keep M's room from getting stinky.  (We're actually jealous of her trash can--she gets all the good stuff)  ;)  I really don't notice her room being stinky at all until I open the trash can.

Once I'm ready to wash her diapers, I take the wet bag out of the trash can, spray some Lysol in the can, and take the bag to the washing machine.

For dirty diapers while we're out, we have a couple of small wet bags.  They have cuter ones than these, but these were cheap.  ;)

We have 23 diapers I think, so I have to wash them every third day.  It's best to use special detergents on them.  We bought Country Save detergent originally, and it worked well for a while.  

I looked online for tips on how to deal with leaky (and stinky) cloth diapers, and found a lot of info that said the diapers most likely had detergent buildup, so I needed to strip them.  I tried using a teaspoon or so of Dawn and washed them several times.  Didn't work.  I bought some Calgon water softener.  Might have helped a little?  Not good enough, though.  By this time, we were using disposables constantly while looking for a solution.  Finally, I found it.  :)

Rockin Green Cloth Diaper Detergent

Rockin' Green's website talks about how "Hard Rock Detergent" was formulated for use with hard water (they have other formulas for softer water), and when I read reviews, it sounded like the customers had the same problems I was having.  So, I decided to give it a shot.  Worse case scenario?  It doesn't work on our diapers, so I just use it for clothes.  

I should probably mention that we have a front loading HE washer, and I don't think those wash diapers as well.  To really get the build-up out, you need to soak the diapers.  (If I got desperate, I could probably stick them all in the bathtub or something like that.)  So, once we received the detergent, we headed to my in-laws home, and washed them there.  

The result?

I let them soak with the detergent overnight, and they've been SO much better ever since!!  I haven't had any leaking problems!  Yay!!  :)  The diapers are much softer and I can keep them on her longer without them getting very full.  I've washed them in our own washer a couple of times since then, and things are still going really well!

I will admit that when I was using disposables all the time, I started hoping that the diapers wouldn't work again, because I figured even if we could get them clean, they would still leak easily.  Nope!!  I'm loving them again, now!  She hasn't leaked at all, except for a time or two at night, when they just got too full.  It might work if we double stuffed the diapers, but we decided to stick her in a disposable with some diaper cream, just to make sure her bottom stays healthy.  She still does get a little rash sometimes.  I'm not sure if that's related or not, but it helps to have diaper cream on it overnight.  :)

If you're interested, we bought this detergent off of Amazon here.  You know what makes this an even sweeter deal??  You can sign up for Amazon Mom for free, and get FREE Amazon Prime shipping!  You can go check out the details at the link.  :)

So, I put all the diapers, diaper liners, wipes and the wet bag in the washing machine.  I pre-wash without detergent in cold water.  Then I do a long cycle with detergent in hot water.  Then, I double rinse!  Occasionally, I will soak them to make sure I don't get build-up again.  I'll probably take them to my parents' house to soak again next time I head that way.  ;)

Last summer I hung the diapers outside every time, but I find that's more difficult to do with an active toddler!  Most of the time I throw them in the dryer, but I'm sure it would help with bleaching and sanitizing the diapers if I put them out in the sun.  I know it helped get them whiter last year!

We're using cloth wipes as well.  We bought a few of them online, but we've discovered that baby washcloths work just as well.  We just throw them in with the diapers so it isn't a big deal at all.  We got a cheap water bottle, and just put some water in there.  You just get your wipe, spray some water on, and there ya go!  (I was using a homemade recipe for wipe solution with water, baby oil and soap, but I decided to just use water now)  :)

So, all that to say, we're loving them!  I highly recommend them if you're wanting to save money over time.  (Just be prepared for the painful experience of purchasing them--remember that it'll save money in the long run!)  :)

If you have any questions, I'd be happy to (try) and help!!  :)  Just leave a comment or contact us.  :)

Have a fabulous weekend!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Have Your Cake... and Vegetables too!

I don't know about you, but when I think of brownies, vegetables are about the furthest thing from my mind.

Until now.  ;)

This is our first year to have a vegetable garden.  It's not a beautiful garden by any means due to our lack of gardening tools, but that's okay.  :)

Look at these beauties.

When we picked these, I immediately knew what I wanted to make.

Zucchini Brownies.
I apologize for my pictures.  I love my camera, but the kitchen has terrible lighting!!
If you've never had Zucchini Bread, then you're first reaction is probably something along the lines of 'yuck'.  I understand, I'm not even a huge vegetable fan.  Yes, I eat them, because they're good for me.  But, if I have the option of a salad or a slice of pizza, I'm going for the pizza without hesitation.  For now, at least.  ;)

I found this recipe a year or two ago, probably when looking for a Zucchini Bread recipe.  I had no idea if it would be good or not, but I decided to give it a shot.

I'm glad I did.

These are DELICIOUS.

It isn't what you would expect at all.  You can't even tell there is Zucchini in there!  It's just crazy!  Talk about a good way to get your kids (or yourself) to eat their veggies!  (Granted, they will be getting sugar as well, so you have to weigh your options here, I suppose)  ;)

Let's make some!  :)  Here is the original recipe from allrecipes.com, in case you want to go check out more reviews.


  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

There is a frosting recipe included on the link above, but I prefer the Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.
Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Now, on to the brownies..
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla until well blended. 

Combine the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, baking soda and salt.

Stir into the sugar mixture.

Not very appetizing is it?  I didn't even want to show you this picture, because, well, yuck.  The first time I made these, I was very confused at this point, because the only liquid I had added to the mixture was the oil 
and a little vanilla.  How in the WORLD would this make brownies???

Enter zucchini.

I peeled (using a vegetable peeler) the zucchini and chopped it into large chunks before throwing it in the food processor.  Then, I just pureed it until they were little, tiny pieces.  :)

Fold in the zucchini and walnuts (I didn't use the walnuts and they were still awesome).  I'm going to be honest here... this last time, I was a little lazy, and did not fold in the zucchini.  I was tired and wanted to hurry, so I just blended it quickly with a mixer.  I knew this could cause problems, but again, I was lazy.  So, my brownies were more like a cake this time around, but it was still SO good! 

Spread evenly into the prepared pan.   

Bake 25-30 minutes, until brownies spring back when touched.  (I also insert a toothpick to check if they're done, but I'm always a little paranoid about my brownies being done, although this recipe doesn't even have any eggs.)

Sorry, I didn't think to take any pictures as I made the icing.  It's super easy, though.  :)

And, 'wa-lah'.

I tried to take a picture of just a bite, to show you that you can't even really see the zucchini pieces, but it didn't turn out very clear.  Here it is anyway, just to give you an idea.

Isn't that amazing??  The zucchini adds SO much liquid--I never would have guessed that.  You will definitely be able to fool your kids with this one.  Just don't tell them it's in there.  ;)

(That makes me think of the Chef Boyardee Commerical, love it!) 

Enjoy!!  :)

Check out the links tab to see where I party! :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mission: Organize M's Closet

You know those superstar bloggers that do amazing makeovers to rooms in their homes?

Baby Closet Organizer
Source - *sigh* If only....
I'm not one of them.  Sad.

Sometimes I find myself feeling a tiny bit depressed and jealous when I am browsing blogs and come across pictures of beautiful rooms.  I would LOVE to redecorate/redo just about every room in our house, but we're on a tight budget.  And, I have a 13 month old.  And, maybe I'm just not that gifted.  

Our precious house is (and most likely will be for the next several years) a fixer-upper.  Half of it was built in the 40's, so really, I can't complain too much.  It's in very good shape, just needs a little love.  :)  

(Gushing moment:  My husband is an AMAZING handy-man.  We could NOT have bought this house if the Lord hadn't have provided him with the knowledge he has!  He's done so much already.  I'm going to keep him.)  :)

Anyway, the main reason for this post is regarding my sweet girl's closet.  It's a disaster.  Seriously.  Right now it is doubling as a linen closet.  From too-small clothes, to her old car seat, towels, sheets, blankets, toys.... it looks awful.  

I've tried organizing it once, and I DID make it look a little better.... for a few days.  :(  I gave up halfway through the process.  So, this time, I want to have a game plan.

I was going to show you a picture of what her closet looks like right now, but then I chickened out.  If/when I get it looking better, THEN I'll post a before picture.  ;)

Here is my 'original artwork' of how I would ideally like to organize it.  Keep in mind, I'm trying to work with what I have, for the most part.

The gray section on the right side is actually behind the wall.
Step One:
We have to organize our storage closet out in the garage.  Then, I can take out all of the things in her closet that need to go into storage.  I think that will free up quite a bit of space and clutter.  

Step Two:
I need to make some kind of toy box for M.  Right now her toys are in a cardboard box.  One day, I bet my husband can make her a nicer one, but I'm fine with a cardboard box right now.  I just need to get a bigger, sturdier one (hello, jumbo size diaper box!) and somehow make it cute.  

Step Three: 
I'm not sure what all will be left after I move out stuff that needs to be stored, but I'd like to add a couple (or more) baskets to the top shelf to place miscellaneous items in.  We have a few baskets already, so hopefully they will do the trick there.

Step Four:
The towels are sitting on a rolling kind of shelves rack thingy.  They were all over the floor of the closet, so that is an improvement in itself!  On the right side of the closet are all of our sheets and blankets.  It's a mess over there.  Thankfully, you can't see it since it's hidden behind the wall.  I'm really not sure what the best solution for that is.  I'm thinking that maybe I can bat my eyelashes at my sweet hubby to fix our (tiny) linen closet.  That way, I can at least put the towels back in.  Then, maybe I can move the sheets to the rack.  

Step Five:

I have curtains (somewhere??) that I can hang up.  They're sheer, so I'm not sure how it will look, but again, it's what I have, so I think it will make it look a little nicer.

Source - This is similar to what I'm thinking about...
I think once (or if..) we get all of this done, it will looks TONS better!  Maybe we can begin to tackle it this weekend.  Stay tuned... ;)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Our Home - Part Three :) (last part!)

You can read part one here, and part two here.  :)

A few days later, they called us back and gave us a counter-offer.  We had made a very optimistic offer, so we didn’t expect them to accept our first offer.  The counter offer was very good though.  They said they would pay 6% of the closing costs, which our realtor had never heard of them doing, and that they would pay for a 1 year home warranty.  They also said they would fix our air conditioner, which HAD to be done considering we’re in the middle of the summer in Texas.  ;)  We planned on closing on June 30th.  Are you doing the math?  That’s right—we made an offer on this house less than a month after we first saw it, and without looking at other houses.  Crazy, right?  Only if you’re looking at it from your own perspective, and not the Lord’s.  Trust me though—we knew it seemed crazy.  I was really nervous about telling our parents because I feared that they would think we were crazy.  In fact, I didn’t mention how quickly it all happened at first, because anybody’s first reaction would be to worry that we were making a poor decision.  However, we knew that the Lord had brought us to this point, so we followed His leading.  So, we started packing.  Fun.  Especially with an almost 2 month old baby.  ;)
I was still concerned about J working so far away from us.  I know people commute all the time, but at this point, I was still very new at the whole motherhood thing and wanted him nearby.  He had been looking online for jobs in "Townville", and found one listing on Craigslist.  Just one job listing in "Townville".  It had no details about how much it paid, the benefits, the hours he’d have to work, or really any details at all about what the job required.  All he knew was that it was in "Townville", so he applied for it.  A week later, on June 22nd, he went in for an interview.  We continued to pray that if God didn’t want him to have this job, then he wouldn’t get it.  We also prayed that if God DID want him to have the job, then He would help the interview to go smoothly and that He would influence those who interviewed J in his favor.  
The interview went really well.  J was interviewed by the owner of the company who told him that he would get back to him very soon.  Of course, we didn’t know how soon ‘very soon’ meant.  We felt like he would get the job, but we didn’t know for sure.  We just kept praying that the Lord’s will would be done.  (I told y’all we prayed a lot—I wasn’t exaggerating!)  A few days later, J found out that he had gotten the job!  Not only that, but we were getting insurance immediately!  This was PERFECT, considering that our old insurance would be ending the day before our new insurance began.  Coincidence?  I think not.  With this new job, he’d only be 15-20 minutes away from home, and would be working 8-5.  We were SO happy and thankful.  Everything was going SO smoothly that it couldn’t have been anything but the Lord working everything out!
We ended up closing on July 1st and moved in the next couple of days.  It was a whirlwind!  What would you think if a friend came up to you and said, “Guess what??  I just saw a house in a different town and am going to buy it without looking at any other houses!  Not only that, but I’m going to buy it and move into it all in a little over a month!  Oh, and we’re going to do it all while being new parents with a newborn baby!”  What would you think?  Crazy.  That’s what I would think.  That’s what I DID think.  Thankfully, this is NOT how God thinks.  He sees what He wants for us, and tries to tell us what He wants us to do.  When we listen and follow His guidance, He works out the details.  This isn’t the first time He’s worked fast in our lives.  In 2007, we decided to move from Texas to Missouri to go to graduate school.  We decided this in May or June and moved in August.  We didn’t even know where we were going to live until 2 weeks before we moved, but we knew He’d provide.  When we were wondering if we would move back to Texas in 2009, we found out he had gotten a job, found a house to rent the next day, and moved back all in a matter of two weeks.  Later that same year, we had been trying to decide when we should start trying to have a baby.  One evening, we discussed it and just decided that the timing was right.  I found out that I was pregnant with M a month later without letting any of our family know that we were even trying to have a baby.  Let me point out that God gave us boldness to step out of our comfort zone and do things that seemed crazy.  God has worked out BIG things in our lives VERY quickly.  So a lot of things have seemed crazy in our lives and very scary, but every time that we have followed these ideas that seemed out of the blue and crazy, He has blessed us SO much.  Will things always be perfect when we follow Him?  Nope.  Life is hard, and following Christ is hard.  However, it’s also easier than not following Him in some ways.  We ALWAYS have hope.  We ALWAYS have a friend who understands EVERYTHING we’re going through, when nobody else can.  When we have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior, we always have the hope of eternity in Heaven one day.  
I’m so very thankful that God thinks big for our lives.  If you had told us a year ago that we would be living in our own house out in the country, and that we would have a vegetable garden, kittens, chickens and pigs, I would have laughed in your face.  Not because I didn’t want it, but because I never expected it would have come true.  We are blessed, and we are thankful for all His blessings. God is good, and that’s an understatement.

As always, if there is anybody that wants to talk about any of this, leave a comment or contact us.  I love making new friends!  :)

Have a happy Wednesday!  :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Our Home - Part Two :)

See part one here.

We prayed constantly.  We always asked that the Lord would give us guidance, and that He would stop us from moving forward if He didn’t want us to buy the house.  In fact, we pleaded that He would stop us if it went against His will for our lives.  We did NOT want this house if it wasn’t what He wanted for us.  We finally decided to call the realtor on Memorial Weekend to see if we could go take a look inside the house.  J was off that Monday, so we were hoping the realtor could meet us at the house that afternoon.  Sure enough, God was at work, and we were able to go look at the house that afternoon.  The house looked like it was in good shape.  I was slightly disturbed at the sight of a dead mouse on the floor of the kitchen, but the house hadn’t been cleaned yet, and we were out in the country after all.  (At least he was dead!)  There was a bird nest in the utility room because of a huge hole in the wall where the dryer vent should be.  I also had to escape a wasp in another part of the house, and saw a spider in one of the bedrooms.  I was used to bugs when I was growing up, but since then I had lived in apartments where bugs were seen less often.  So, I knew this was something I would have to accept and that I just had to get used to it again.  (This was actually one of the things on the ‘con’ list, haha!)  

There were definitely some things that needed upgrading and the land needed to be cleaned up, but overall, things looked good.  In fact, it looked much better than it did in the pictures online.  Honestly, the pictures online were pretty awful.  They really didn’t do justice to the house or the land at all.  After taking a look around, we realized that the house would need some work, but nothing major, which was a huge blessing.  We honestly believe that the Lord made it so the pictures online wouldn’t attract very many people, so it would be saved for us.  There were only 4-5 pictures, and they were taken at some bad angles.  They didn’t capture the beauty of the land or the potential of the house.  It's actually pretty strange that it even caught our attention.  It was no doubt the Lord!  In fact, the main reasons this house captured our attention was because of the price and the amount of land.  We had already decided before that we would rather buy an older house that we could fix up that was on some land, than have a new house in a neighborhood. This was a perfect opportunity for us.

We discussed the house more as we drove back home, and J asked me if I could see us living there.  I tried to picture it, but it wasn’t really easy.  I felt myself being pulled in two different directions.  I loved the idea of ‘living our dream’ out in the country, but again, I LOVED the house we were already living in.  I didn’t know what I wanted, and I was glad it wasn’t up to us to decide.  We were truly trying to trust the Lord to answer our prayers and stop our progress if we weren’t meant to buy the house.  

The first week of June, we decided to make an offer on the house.  That’s right… we saw the house online and placed an offer within a couple of weeks.  Crazy, right?  We felt that the Lord had brought us to that point and that we should move forward.  All the while we continued to pray that if He didn’t want us to buy it, our offer would be flat out rejected and that we wouldn’t be able to move forward any more.  I was still really scared about the whole thing.  I had complete faith that if we were meant to have the house, the Lord would provide for us and would help it happen smoothly.  Everything up to this point had happened smoothly.  What I had difficulty with was believing completely that He would stop us if we were making the wrong decision.  I questioned if we could be rebelling against Him without even realizing it.  We wouldn’t want to go against Him on purpose, but could we be wanting this house so much that we were ignoring what He really wanted for us??  As I prayed, I began to believe that because we were sincerely praying for His will to be done, that we weren’t rebelling.  I wanted to have faith… I didn’t want to doubt that He would take care of us.  I’ll give you a peek into what I wrote in my prayer journal about this on June 7, 2010.  

“It’s weird—I have faith that if you want us to live there, you’ll make it happen.  What I’m having trouble with is having faith that you’ll prevent us from getting it if it isn’t your will.  In my heart I know you can do all things.  My head just doesn’t always believe.  Forgive me Lord—give me faith!  I WANT to believe more and not doubt.  I’m kinda ashamed of myself actually.  The devil whispers in my ear and I doubt.  Keep him from us!  This is what I know—you can do ALL things, and we are your children.  You have a plan for us.  If this is what you want, you’ll make it happen.  If it isn’t, you’ll stop it.  We’ve prayed for this, and prayed sincerely.  If we were rebelling, I could see you allowing us to make a mistake to learn from it.  Because we are seeking you so much, I don’t think you’d let us make a mistake.  Is that right?”

At that very moment, a scripture popped into my head.  I didn’t know if I was remembering it correctly, so I looked it up. This was the scripture HE sent me.  

“I lift my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.  He will not let your foot slip—He who watches over you will not slumber.” – Psalm 121:1-3

Can I just say WOW?!  What an amazing answer to my prayers!  He assured me that He was there and that as long as we were truly seeking His will, He would help us to make the right decisions.  I was relieved and in awe!

Part three (the final part) coming up tomorrow.  :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Our Home - Part One :)

I wanted to share with y'all the story of how we bought our home.  I know, it sounds boring, and it probably IS boring to some, but to us, it is amazing.  It's a testimony of how God works things out when we trust Him.  It's my hope that this will encourage at least ONE person.  This will be three parts, so if you end up reading this, stay tuned.  :)

Let's rewind to May of 2010.  Sweet M had just turned one month old, and we were trying to adjust to our new life. It was very difficult for me though.  I have a hard time dealing with life-altering changes, but at the same time, I suppose a lot of people do.  Anyway, around this time, other things started changing.  My husband considered applying for another job in town.  This was pretty surprising, but I didn't mind what he did because I wanted him to be happy.  He ended up not getting that job, but I believe that this was the first step in pointing us in a new direction.  

We were also attending a large church in town that I LOVED.  I mean seriously loved.  I really enjoyed going and looked forward to it every week.  At this point, we were only making it to Sunday morning service because we had a newborn, but I enjoyed it nonetheless!  One Sunday, J mentioned that he really liked our church, but he missed going to a smaller one.  I wasn't surprised that he felt that way, because although he really liked the church too, I think I enjoyed it more.  Well, once he said this, I began to see his point.  I still loved our church, but I began to feel like maybe we should be in a smaller place where we would know everyone.  That seems to be more of our style anyway.  This really bothered me, because we had finally found a place I loved, and here I was starting to feel somewhat convicted about switching again.  I was afraid I wouldn't be strong enough to leave this church to go to a different one in town.  We had already visited several of them and I didn't like any of them nearly as much.  Our greatest desire is to do what the Lord wants us to do though, so I wanted to follow Him.  I decided to not worry about it too much until the Lord led us elsewhere.

A little bit of background on my husband and I for those who don't know:  We both grew up in the country (in separate towns) and LOVED it.  We lived away from town and enjoyed it.  We were used to having to drive a ways to get to a Walmart or anything like it.  We have always known that we wanted to have some land of our own one day in the country.  I knew it might not happen, and that if it did, we may be in our 60's or 70's before we could afford to make this dream come true. In the town where we were previously living, we were renting a nice house on the edge of town in a neighborhood.  It wasn't the way we wanted to live forever, but we planned on being there several years, and we really loved our town. We both desired our own home in the country of course, but J desired it most of all.  He's very outdoorsy.  The man LOVES to be outside and to work on things out there.  He liked our home as well, but he didn't have the space or freedom to do the things outside he wanted.  I know it sounds silly, but to me, it really seemed like he was like a caged bird in some ways.  Because of this, he always enjoyed looking at land for sale online.  He had been looking just for fun for years, and occasionally he would show me something that looked really nice.  (He's so cute.)

One evening, I was dying to get out of the house, and we had a gift card to a grocery store in another town nearby (we'll call it 'Townville',  just for privacy reasons).  We decided to make a fun trip out of it and go to this town that we had never visited.  While we were driving out there, we noticed the land was very pretty, and the town was small.  After we bought our groceries, we went home, and that was that.  Or so I thought.

A few nights later after M was in bed, he called me into the office and showed me a house for sale in Townville.  It was an old house--built in the 40's.  The pictures of it weren't impressive, but it was a really good price and had a good portion of land.  I just kinda humored him, nodding my head and saying "Oh yeah, that's cool."  I figured it was just another one of those times he was showing me something for the fun of it.  

Wrong again.  

Before I knew it, he suggested that we go take a look at the house.  I was all for this, because I was excited for any excuse to leave the house.  So M took a nap in the car seat while we took our drive out to this house.  Upon first sight, I still wasn't very impressed.  It's not that it looked bad--it was cute in some ways, but it needed some cleaning up.  The grass was tall and there were a lot of fences and weeds.  We looked around a little bit and then headed home.  As we drove home, we talked about it a little bit, and I realized that we were seriously discussing the possibility of buying this house.  

I think it’s important to note that we were content where we were living.  We weren’t looking for something because we were miserable or disliked our home.  The reason I think it’s important to tell y’all that is because it shows you even more that THIS WAS ALL GOD!  

We discussed the pros and cons of buying the house.  We even made a list!  It would definitely be something we had to put a lot of work into, but it had a lot of potential.  It was in a small town out in the country on several acres of land, which was the dream.  There was a school nearby that had a VERY good reputation, and we had already had some concerns about where M would go to school one day.  We'd have to pay for the down-payment and everything that goes along in the process of buying a house, but we were already 'throwing away' a chunk of money on rent.  I was terrified at the idea of moving in general, because moving is SO difficult.  We had only lived at our home for almost a year, and I SO didn't want to pack up and move AGAIN.  I was so exhausted and hated the idea of packing WHILE taking care of a newborn.  I worried about how I would handle the whole process emotionally as well as physically.  I worried about J not finding a job in Townville and having stay in our old town at his old job, which was almost an hour away.  I was worried about EVERYTHING.  (Keep in mind that we're still only in May, so I'm still emotional from giving birth!)  We decided that the best thing we could do was just pray and ask the Lord for wisdom and guidance.  

To be continued... ;)

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