Monday, October 31, 2011

Weekly Menu - Halloween

Happy Halloween!!  :)  M (aka Rapunzel, although she will not be trick-or-treating this year) and I are planning on going to get some candy after her nap, just in case we have Trick-or-Treaters.  We've never had any, but we've moved so many times that I never know if we're in a big Trick-or-Treating neighborhood!  Best to be prepared, and worst case scenario, we're left with candy.  What a shame that would be.  ;)

I love to see the weekly menu plan of other bloggers.  I'm not sure why, but I always think it's fun to see what everybody else has planned for the week.  It also gives me ideas, which is always nice.  :)

I thought I would share our weekly menu with y'all.  I'm trying to incorporate new meals, since we seem to eat the same things over and over.

Monday:
DiGiorno Frozen Pizza
Really ambitious, I know, but I love a good frozen pizza.  Check out the DiGiorno Facebook page for a $2 off coupon!  :)

Tuesday:
Rolls
I haven't tried the pork chop recipe yet, so we'll see how it turns out.

Wednesday:
Scrambled Eggs
The best part about the sausage and pork chops is that they came from our beloved pig, Arnold.  (Maybe not beloved, since we knew all along he would become meat for us...)  ;)

Thursday:
Chicken Strips
Rolls
Leftover Zucchini Casserole

Friday:
Garlic Bread

Saturday:
Leftovers :)

Hope y'all have a safe and fun Halloween!!  :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A New Beginning... (Part Five)


We worked for the next week getting everything packed, which was NOT easy with an active baby girl!  She loved ‘helping’ me.  By helping, I mean, taking things out of the boxes, adding other things that weren’t supposed to go in the boxes, etc.  ;) 

Our plan was to leave Saturday, go to J’s parents’ house that night, then drive the rest of the way Sunday.  That would give us a few days to get a little bit settled before he started work.  Well, Friday we pretty much got past the point of no return while we packed.  So many things were packed that we decided it would be easier for M and I to go ahead and leave that afternoon.  I hated leaving J by himself to finish up, but knew it would be best if we went ahead. 

That afternoon, we had a pretty powerful little thunderstorm move through.  It went through fairly quickly, but we saw there was more coming our way.  So, M and I took off, trying to beat the next round of rain.  The ironic part is that we had been in one of the worst droughts ever all summer long, and THAT day it rained.  Of all days.  I was thankful for the rain, but I really hate driving in it!  The first part of the trip was okay.  It only sprinkled on me a little bit, and the worst part was that J had left the windows down in the truck so my jeans were SOAKED through.  Talk about uncomfortable, but I could either get mad, or laugh about it.  I think I did a little bit of both.  ;)

After driving for about an hour and a half though, I started hitting some major rain.  It was pouring so hard that I finally decided to pull over, thinking it was just a small storm.  Wrong.  It was a HUGE system, and it looked like I would be driving through it the entire time!  I was not happy at all, and it got dark while I was driving.  So, what should have taken 3 hours took closer to 5 hours!  I was so anxious and felt sick most of the way.  I kept thinking, “I should have stayed and come with J tomorrow.”  I eventually made it safely though, and I know without a doubt the Lord had His angels around me and our sweet girl, protecting us the whole way there.

I talked with J the next morning, and he told me he was on his way.  He was driving a huge moving truck; I believe it was 24 feet long.  Plus, he was also pulling my car behind him.   I hated for him to be driving by himself, but knew he’d be okay.

Later that morning, I was sitting in the living room at my in-law’s house talking with J’s mom and she received a call on her phone.  She didn’t know who it was, but went ahead and answered it.  She sounded very calm, and asked a few questions, such as, “Where are you?”, then she said she’d be right there.  I had no clue what was happening, but never thought she was talking to J.

She got off the phone, stood up, and said to me, “Take a deep breath.”  I just stared at her, and she told me that J had been in a wreck, but he was okay, and she was going to go help him.  He was only a few minutes away, thankfully.  She was extremely calm during the whole thing, while I fell apart.  I had to stay at the house because M was napping, so she left by herself. 

My mind was swirling with questions.  Was he really okay?  How ‘okay’ is okay?  What happened?  Was anyone else involved?  I was trying very hard to stay calm, because I didn’t want my stomach to get upset.  I talked with a few of my family on the phone, prayed, and finally decided to go outside and get some fresh air.  After just a moment, I saw TWO butterflies.  I couldn’t help but smile, and this time, I wanted to cry out of happiness rather than fear.  I KNOW that was the Lord reminding me that He was still in control, and everything would be okay.  I was just amazed, though I shouldn’t be surprised, that He would speak in a way that is so special to me. 

Later, I found out the details of his wreck.  The moving truck had fallen on its side, and he had busted open his elbow when it hit the ground.  Thankfully, he was the only one involved in the wreck. 

I finally spoke with J on the phone, and he told me he was okay.  He was going to the emergency room for his elbow.  He sounded okay, but I wasn’t thrilled that he was going to the ER, especially because I still hadn’t seen him yet.

After being seen by a doctor and getting x-rays, they decided to do surgery to clean out the wound and check the bone of his elbow.  It was a pretty big opening on his elbow, and they set the surgery for the following day.  This of course meant he had to stay the night, which is never fun in the hospital. 

The next day he went back for surgery and it went very well.  There wasn’t any damage to the bone, so they just cleaned out his wound and sewed him up the best they could.  We ended up having to stay another night and day while we waited to hear from the doctor.  We eventually got out though, and headed back to J’s parents’ house.

I know this doesn’t sound like a huge deal.  Really, we are INCREDIBLY blessed that he wasn’t hurt any worse.  Yes, the elbow wound was bad, but it could have been SO much worse.  These were the things I kept reminding myself of while he was in the hospital. 

J is my very best friend, and we complement each other very well.  Where I am weak, he is strong, and vice versa.  This kind of thing is a weakness for me.  To see my husband lying in a hospital bed, even though he was okay, was incredibly difficult.  To have to hold it together in front of him, so he wouldn’t have to worry about me, was not easy.  To try and call the right people and take care of things is not my area either.  I felt so overwhelmed.  However, the Lord again saw our need and provided.  He used this time to make J more dependent on me, while making me stronger and more independent.  He surrounded us with loving people to help us.  Family members helped in many different ways, and several people, some that I barely know, went to move all of our stuff out of the old moving truck, into a new moving truck.  We couldn’t have done all of these things by ourselves, and the Lord sent loving people to help. 

There were so many things we could worry about.  Medical bills, moving truck damage, damage to my car, damage to our possessions, etc.  I’m not going to lie, these things did make me feel overwhelmed, but at the same time, I knew the Lord would work it out.  I could feel Him with us throughout the WHOLE ordeal.  The whole time we were waiting to move, I thought that was a faith exercise.  Now, we know that the Lord was helping us practice our faith so it would be strong when all of this happened.  Isn’t that amazing?!  He is SO good! 

Have you made the connection that M and I could have been behind him when the wreck happened, which could have put us in danger, as well??  I’m pretty certain that the Lord sent us ahead for that very reason.  Sure, it was a difficult drive for me by myself the night before, but the alternative would have been much worse.  The Lord was protecting M and I.  


I mentioned this a while back, but here are two verses He sent me:

“Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you will honor me.” – Psalm 50:15 
(We DID call on Him, He DID deliver us, and now I want to honor Him by telling y’all how amazing He was through it!)

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; struck down, but not destroyed.” – 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
(We did feel like we were being attacked by evil and discouragement, but we knew it would be okay, because the Lord has taken care of us SO many times.  All of this happened while we were in the process of following where He was leading us.  OF COURSE the devil is going to feel threatened by that!  If God wants us somewhere, then the devil most certainly does NOT want us there.  We knew the Lord would take care of us.)

We still have a ways to go, and there are still a lot of things going on, but He is still taking care of us.  I’ll keep sharing with y’all more of the things He has done!

Mainly, I'm just trying to convey how AMAZING the Lord is.  I could tell you all sorts of amazing things about Him, but I feel that telling our story speaks volumes more about Him.  We would not be where we are, or who we are, without Him.  It's my prayer that this will encourage y'all, and draw others to Him.  If you want to talk about anything, leave a comment, or email me at lovinggodwhilelivingsimply@gmail.com.  I would LOVE to hear from you.  :)  

Y'all have a happy week!!  :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

A New Beginning... (Part Four)


On August 13th, J’s mom bought a new vehicle.  My car was getting a little old, and we had some major problems with it in the past.  It was working fine, but we had been planning on getting another used vehicle as soon as possible.  While we were working on the house that day, his mom called and asked if we were interested in her old car.  We said no at first, because it was a small standard vehicle, which I have only driven a couple of times, and we needed more room for the car seat.  However, after he got off the phone, we discussed it further and decided it might be a good idea after all.  I was still concerned about it, but we decided that it was a blessing, and told her we’d love to have it.

A couple of weeks later, we received another call from J’s grandmother, who had also just bought another vehicle.  She and her husband were offering us their old car, which was two years newer than my own car, and also a bit roomier!  We didn’t want to accept it at first, because it felt like too great of a gift.  However, we did need it, and they wanted to give it to us.  We finally accepted it, and I loved it!  How often do you hear about somebody being offered two vehicles in two weeks?!  The Lord saw our need, and once again, He provided.

On August 30th, three days after he applied, he got a call for a phone interview that evening.  The company didn’t want him to drive all that way unless he sounded like he might be a good fit for them, which was considerate.  However, this also made us a little nervous.  It’s hard to make a good impression over the phone sometimes.  They hammered him with questions, and he answered them easily, which impressed them.  They asked him to come for an interview the following Friday.  We were very excited! 

His plan was to go down the day before and look at some places to live.  He called me that night and told me he had looked at a couple of places, and they were alright.  I kept wanting him to elaborate, but he just didn’t sound enthusiastic about either of them and wouldn’t give me any details.  This bothered me, because although I didn’t expect to move into a really nice place, I also didn’t want to move into a dump.  I was worried about it, but the Lord kept reminding me that He has taken care of us many times, so I needed to trust Him. 

The next day, Jarrod’s interview went very well, and he got the job!  Plus, his new boss even told us the company would cover some of our moving expenses!!  The company is faith based, which is a very good fit for J.

On top of that, the Lord had provided us a nice place to live!  I asked him where he saw the listing for our place, and he had to think about it for a second.  He realized that he was just passing by, and saw a “For Rent” sign in the yard.  We know that wasn’t a coincidence!  So, within a couple of hours, the Lord gave J a job, and us a place to live.   It was such a relief to see things falling into place after so much waiting!  How amazing is He?!  The Lord truly does provide.

Over the next few days, several things happened.  We listed my car on craigslist, and sold it that afternoon, for a good amount.  We also listed J’s tractor on craigslist, and sold it that evening.  We listed the chickens and sold them very quickly as well.  J’s parents told us they would take our cats.  The Lord was taking care of every single detail.  He is SO very good, more than we can imagine.

The next part gets even more interesting, because we had a major bump in the road.  God continued to take care of us.  I’ll try to write more about that soon!!

To be continued…

Friday, October 14, 2011

A New Beginning... (Part Three)

On August 8th, J decided to apply for another job with the same company.  They had another position that he qualified for, that would be open until filled.  That sounds promising, right?  If J was qualified and they liked him, why wouldn’t they give him the job, or at least call him for an interview?  So, we continued to wait on the first job, but now we had another option.  I felt confident that we were going to ‘Auburn’, I just wasn’t sure that this was the job the Lord had in mind. 

Days kept passing, and we never heard anything.  We figured no news was good news, so we kept praying.  One day I just decided to go look up the listing of one of the jobs he applied for.  I noticed that at the bottom of the webpage, it said that background checks would be run on finalists.  They had sent him a form to fill out for a background check, so this was very encouraging news to us!  I thought it was really strange that I even noticed that sentence.  I had only skimmed the job description, but I happened to notice that.  I truly believe that this was the Lord giving us the tiniest bit of encouragement to keep holding on and knowing that He was leading us. 
  
On August 17th, the first job posting was taken down.  We weren’t sure if that was good or bad, but J was still hopeful.  I wasn’t feeling very hopeful about it, although I still believed we would get to ‘Auburn’ eventually.  It was a little stressful at times, believing that something would happen, while not knowing how or when it would actually happen!  All we could do was keep having faith and praying!

The next day, we had a setback.  We found out the second job had been filled, but we still hadn’t heard anything about the first job.  

A couple of days later, J asked me if I thought he should apply for other jobs in ‘Auburn’.  I told him yes, because again, I was never sure that he was meant to have a job at the first place.  He applied for another job or two, but we didn’t think much about them.  On August 27th, he found a job listing on craigslist.  The website of the job posting mentioned that their company was built on ‘Biblical Principles’ in their mission statement.  This was very appealing to us, so J wrote a short email and included his resume.  On his other cover letters or emails when applying for jobs, he had tried to catch their attention by telling them reasons why he would be a good match for their company.  This time, he decided to write a minimal amount in his email, trusting that if this was where the Lord wanted him, then He would make it happen.  In other words, he surrendered all control to the Lord.  If it DID happen, that would give us even more reason to believe that it was all the Lord’s doing, not our own.  We felt good about this one.

The very next day, he got a call for an interview!  It was funny, because we had been waiting so long, but I wasn’t very surprised when he called to tell me about the interview.  Obviously, the Lord had given us peace and confidence about this job.  

Later, we were discussing a passage from the Bible that J had read earlier.  It was Mark 8:14-21.  In this passage, Jesus had just fed thousands of people from only 7 loaves of bread, and a few small fish.  Not only that, but they had seven baskets of bread left over after everyone had been fed!  Look a few verses down…


The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. 15 “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”
 16 They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.”
 17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? 
19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
   “Twelve,” they replied.
   20 And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?
 They answered, “Seven.
 21 He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”


Translation:  "I'm taking care of this.  Wait on my timing."


This is what we felt like He was saying to us.  He has proven Himself to us again and again, which sounds silly, because He's God.  He doesn't HAVE to prove Himself to ANYONE.  Our five years of marriage have been very adventurous with all the things He has done in our life together.  There have been so many times that we have done things that seemed crazy, but He gave us the boldness to do it, and He has always blessed us for following Him.  So, here we were again, about to do something crazy, and waiting on His timing.  Why shouldn't we trust Him with this??  His timing is perfect, because He sees everything that we can't see yet.  


God's timing is perfect.  You'll see what I mean soon!  :)  To be continued...


Hope y'all have a fabulous weekend!!  :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A New Beginning... (Part Two)

Since we had committed to believing we were moving, it was time to make some changes.  We had to do something with the animals.  We had three outdoor cats, three pigs (one we would butcher), two chickens, and a rooster.

A man had contacted J a few months earlier asking about the pigs.  The breed we had was somewhat rare around our area, so he was interested in buying piglets.  We didn’t have any piglets yet, but J planned on contacting him once we did.  At this point, he remembered this man, and contacted him, asking if he was interested in taking the pigs, because the female would be ready to have piglets very soon.  He was interested, and we received $550 for them.  Again, this seems like a small thing, but we kept thinking of how the Lord orchestrated this months ago.  He made the man contact us earlier, when we had no idea that we would be moving, so we would have someone to sell them to now. 

That very day, we received a medical bill for $555.  So, we sold the pigs for $5 less than the medical bill.  Jarrod had agreed on the price for the pigs before we got the mail.  Coincidence?  I think not.  God was taking care of us. 

J had also applied for a different job in a town near our house, and decided to withdraw that application.  If we believed we were going to Texarkana, then we better act like it and have faith! 

I had moments of feeling anxious, and other times I would feel calm.  I wasn’t worried about things working out, but I was worried about the moving process, and how my stomach would handle the stress of it all.  We kept that in our prayers as well.  Sometimes my mind can be calm, but my body doesn’t get the memo, and does its own thing.  I did NOT want this to happen.  J kept encouraging me to view the move as an exciting thing, rather than a scary thing.  He was right; I needed to change the way I viewed it.  I was afraid of leaving my “safe zone” and becoming uncomfortable for a while.  Fear is NOT from the Lord.  “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

There were also moments when I would begin to doubt if we were doing the right thing, but I would immediately try to shut those doubts out.  The Lord had given us peace about it days before, and I tried to focus on those verses that He had brought to our minds.  There was even one day that I was wavering in my faith, and I opened my Bible.  I opened it to a page where the passage title said “Encouragement to be faithful”.  And some people think the Lord doesn’t speak to us anymore.  ;)

We still had not heard anything about the job.  I wondered if maybe the Lord was delaying it so it would cool off a little bit.  After all, we had temperatures above 100 degrees several weeks without rain!  Plus, ironically, we have moved EVERY time in the summer.  It would be nice to move when it was a bit cooler!  I also think he was giving us time to prepare.  You see, we had plans to fix up our house over time.  When the Lord started telling our hearts we would be leaving, we decided we better get to work!  We painted walls, installed new floors, took down border wallpaper, etc.  It doesn’t sound like a lot of work, but we were busy! 

It was so difficult to wait for a call from J, telling me that he had gotten an interview.  My heart started beating quickly every time he called.  I even got annoyed with him a few times, because he would call extra times in the day to tell me something else.  ;)  It was especially discouraging once we reached the weekend and had not heard anything.  It was definitely a time to trust in the Lord and learn to not be anxious.   “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6

One day Jarrod received a daily devotional email talking about Joshua and Jericho, and how Joshua had the faith follow what sounded like a crazy plan to do the Lord’s will, (Joshua 6).  Of course, the Lord calling us to go to a new town wasn’t exactly as crazy as walking around a city, expecting it to fall down on the seventh day, but to outsiders, doesn’t this sound a little crazy?  If you had talked to us around this time, here is what our conversation may have sounded like:

Us:  “Oh, by the way, we’re moving to ‘Auburn’.”
You:  “Oh yeah?  Did you get a new job?”
Us:  “No, but we’re waiting to get one.”
You:  “Did you find a house there or something?”
Us:  “No, but the Lord will find us a place to live.”
You:  “Do you know somebody or have connections up there?”
Us:  “No, the Lord has just given us this desire to move up there.”
You:  "Are y'all crazy??"
Us:  "Maybe a little."  ;)

It seemed crazy.  We didn’t tell anybody, because we knew that it only made sense to us.  We knew that the Lord would provide for every detail, if we trusted Him to do it.  And He did.

To be continued... (told you it was long!)  ;)

Part one here.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A New Beginning... (Part One)

Alright, I'm going to start writing down what has been going on the past few weeks.  This is going to take a long time, so I'm going to break it up into parts.  If you aren't interested, then just stop here.  ;)


It is my hope that this will encourage somebody, and that's why I'm sharing all of this.  As always, please remember that if you want to talk about anything, or have questions about what I'm saying, you can contact us at lovinggodwhilelivingsimply@gmail.com.  :)


I've blogged before about how God brought us to our home (Part OnePart TwoPart Three).  We really thought when we moved last time, that we would be staying there a long time, maybe forever.  Obviously, the Lord had other plans!  Counting our move made almost two weeks ago now, we have moved five times in our five years of marriage!  Whew!  Talk about exhausting... but worth it.  :)


Let's begin, shall we?  In early July, I received a letter from the school where I earned my master's degree.  It was a letter talking about a new doctoral degree program in counseling, which is what my master's degree is in.  I have NEVER considered getting a doctoral degree.  In fact, the only reason I decided to get my master's, is because I couldn't do anything with my bachelor's degree in Psychology!  ;)  When I first read the letter, I disregarded it, thinking that it was silly to even consider going back to school.  After all, I have a little one to take care of now!  Plus, did I even LIKE school that much??  I threw the letter in the trash, but couldn’t stop thinking about it. 


I was shocked that the idea appealed to me at all.  Was it even possible?  It turns out, it was, in theory, at least.  Even though the school is hours away, the degree plan is seminar style, so each class would only last 3-5 days.  The more I thought about it, the more I felt led to apply.  Lately, I had been missing counseling.  I missed helping people, and being involved in it.  I had considered taking out my textbooks and reading them, and we even sold a rooster to a Psychologist!  (I realize that sounds completely random, but the Lord works in ways that seem crazy sometimes!)  These things, although small, added up and made me feel like I should at least apply.  Finally, I talked about it with my husband, and he was very supportive. 

On July 13th, I decided to apply.  There were many things to work out, such as J having time off of work to travel with me to school a couple of weeks or so each year, but I knew the Lord would work out all of the details.  That evening, he informed me that he had applied for a job in what we’ll call “Auburn”.  He chose to apply for this job because he was so unhappy at his current job, and this particular job appealed to him.  He had worked with the company at another location, so he already had experience with them.  I was surprised.  I had thought we were finally settled, but at the same time, the idea held appeal.  We would be closer to my family, other vacationing spots that we liked to visit occasionally, and we would be a good bit closer to the school, as well.  Of course, this would mean moving again, and leaving the place we had tried so hard to make into a home the past year.  This was a huge decision, and we certainly didn’t want to make the wrong one, so we began to pray for guidance. 

Although it seemed unlikely that it would happen, a big part of us believed it WOULD happen.  We were afraid to commit to believing we would leave though, because we wanted to be content with whatever God chose to do with our lives.  So, we straddled the fence in a way.  We looked at the positives of both sides, and continued to pray. 

At times I would feel freaked out.  If this happened, we would be leaving what had become familiar to go to a brand new place, where we would be starting over, yet again.  I could feel myself clinging to things around me, trying to find comfort in them, while distancing myself at the same time.  It was a struggle to place my comfort in the Lord rather than in my surroundings, but He was helping me. 

On July 21st, even though absolutely nothing had happened yet, we decided to start believing that we were going, because we both felt that we would.  This is what I wrote in my prayer journal that day:

“Okay, here is what I decided.  I think if I feel strongly that you want us in ‘Auburn’, then I need to have faith that you’ll work it out, even though nothing has happened.”

Here is where the faith exercises really began.  On the outside, nothing had happened.  There wasn’t ANY reason to believe anything would happen.  Yet, in our hearts we felt it.  We believed that this was going to happen.  We didn’t know when, or how, but we believed it.  Everything that we had gone through up to this point in our lives, had prepared us to have this kind of faith.  However, we weren’t na├»ve.  I knew that because we were trying so hard to follow the Lord, things would be difficult at times.  The devil WOULD try to discourage us, as much as he could. 

There was one day J came home and told me they had extended the deadline for the job he had applied for, and he was discouraged at what this might mean.  We began to discuss that it would be difficult to keep our faith, and then in that very moment, the Lord began bringing verses to our minds.. 

“We live by faith, not by sight.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” - John 20:29

To us, this was a huge affirmation that we were heading in the right direction.  We weren’t alone.  J

To be continued…


Part Two here.

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