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Archive for May, 2008

I admit it… I am not proud of it, but honestly I didn’t even realize I was one until recently…. I am a waster. 

I am terrible about turning off lights, I let the water run when I brush my teeth, and lots of times I leave the refrigerator door open when I am pouring the boys apple juice.  I can’t say I have been ignorant about it completely, but truthfully I am a little on the lazy side when it comes to this kind-of stuff.  I have been sacrificing frugality (is this a word?) for ease.

Anyway, about a month ago now, I watched an Oprah (by the way Oprah has lost her recording place on my DVR schedule, more on that in another post) about how much the average American wastes, from food, to electricity, to time.  She gave two families, one with high school-aged children and one with kids around my kids age (maybe slightly older) a challenge… they were not allowed to watch tv or use any of their electronic devises, including cell phones. They were not allowed to go to the store (of any kind), no bottled water, no eating out and they had to do it for a week.  They started out by showing the us, the viewers, what an average wasteful week was like for the families and then we got to watch as they experienced what turned out to be a really interesting challenge. 

As I was sitting there completely appalled by their wastefulness, I suddenly realized that I am not much better. Sure my boys don’t play five hours of video games a day and talk on their cell phones and we don’t have our TV on 24/7 in every room of the house (only one TV anyway), I often throw out food because I bought more than I needed and didn’t plan meals using the food we had.  Unlike one of the families, I don’t buy my four year-old Starbucks 4 times a week, I do, however,  buy myself a lot of coffee at a coffee shop when I could just as easily make it at home.  As I watched, I realized that my wastefulness may not be in the same areas as these families, but I am still wasteful. 

I was challenged by watching these wasteful families and decided to try and change some of the things that I do in my life, in order to be more frugal with our finances, food, time, and the amount of waste we create.  Here is a list of what I have come up with…

1. stop buying bottled water- plan ahead and bring water bottle from home for everyone

2. only buy coffee at a coffee shop once a week and make my lattes at home (they are turning out pretty good by the way)

3. turn off lights when we leave the room, shut the door to the fridge all the time, adjust the water heater temp, and set the temp throughout the house as low as we are comfortable, turn water off during teeth brushing and remind the boys to do these things as well

4. limit the boys TV time to 1/2 hour a day if that (this is harder than I thought)……  I was appalled at how much TV the kids on the challenge watched…. video games too…. I am determined that I will avoid video games for as long as possible…I am NOT judging those of you who let your kids play them.

5. inventory what I have in our pantry and fridge and plan meals based on what we have already, avoiding the grocery store as much as possible- this has actually been pretty fun and Brandon is even getting into the challenge with me…

6. plan weekly menus and grocery lists- when I shop only buy what is on list (hard!)

7. clip coupons!!! … Never thought I would be doing this….I have a post coming on this later… I am amazed that in my first few tries I have gotten a ton of free stuff as well as saved myself so much money….I have some amazing websites to share later

8.  recycle everything that I can- even those cans that I would rather just throw away because I don’t want to wash them out and that glass that I will actually have to drive to dispose off because it doesn’t go in our recycling cans (I am amazed at how much this has cut down on our waste)  I am even getting things out of the garbage that others have thrown away that should have been recycled… yeah me!

9.  limit our eating out… plan when we will do it and stick to it

10.  pay attention to what is wasteful, what I don’t need, what my family doesn’t need

So far, I have done pretty well.  Over all, I am being more conscious about what I do, especially where I spend my money.  If you have ways that you are letting go of being a waster let me know…. I know there is so much more that I could do.

 

 

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Another Adoption Update

Since I updated you last there was a little progress with my friend’s, Jenn and Warren, adoption.  After being told there were no children within their parameters, they were then told that there are actually 3 little girls but they don’t come off the registry for another 3 weeks.  Anyway, this will put them in Kaz almost 3 weeks longer than they planned and as you can imagine financially this is going to be tough.  They were supposed to meet these girls yesterday, but yesterday morning Jenn woke up with severe abdominal pain, turns out she had kidney stones.  Does this sound like an attack from satan or what.  I can’t believe how hard he is trying to stop this adoption.  Anyway, Jenn is better today and they should be meeting their daughter at about 1pm tomorrow, Kaz time, which will be 1 am our (Utah) time. So please pray again with me… that God would protect them from any more attacks from the evil one, that he would provide miraculously for them financially and that he would reveal their daughter to them and provide a joy filled meeting.  Thanks for praying with me.

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My best friend, Jenn and her husband, Warren are currently in Kazakstan in pusute of thier little girl and things not going well.  The adoption system in Kaz is so difficult to navigate and the orphanage they are working with is telling them their are no babies there for them, even though they were given the ok to come.  Needless to say, they are struggling right now. They have exhausted their funds just getting there and to leave empty handed would be the worst kind of pain.  However, they are staying strong in the Lord. 

I believe this is just another example of satan coming against adoption.  So would you join with me in prayer for them.  Pray that the army of our Papa would come down and fight off the enemy.  That the Holy Spirit would minister peace and love to Jenn and Warren’s hearts and give them boldness and wisdom.  I am claiming victory in this situation and I believe that Christ will be the victor no matter the outcome.  Please pray…. those of you in the middle of adoptions or who have walked through adoption’s often rugged road can attest to how difficult this would be. I will keep you updated as I know more.  Thanks in advance for your prayers.

 

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One of the great things that I have been learning through these last months is that my Abba Father is a Father of Love. All of my “Christian” life I have been told, or read, or sung about His love but haven’t really understood the depths of it.  I have allowed my own ideas of what love is to represent what my Papa’s love is.  How short my love falls, so I have assumed that His love must fall short as well.  The love that we see around us in this fallen world is so deceiving, so empty, so fickle and when we try to grasp the Father’s love we can only really see it in how we love. But what a mistake that has been for me. 

I have been seeking over the last 6 months to see, not this natural world, but the spiritual world in which I am called to live and I have begun to catch glimpses of the Father, through the Holy Spirit. Glimpses that are transorming me from the inside out.  Seeing God through the eyes of my heart with the Holy Spirit as my guide, I am able to see what I have been missing.  My Father’s love is not conditional, it is not faltering, it doesn’t end even when mine does or should I say especially when mine does.  Infact, when my love begins to fail His love begins to shine.  Seeing Him as He truly is not as my human mind can comprehend, but as the Spirit living in my comprehends, I am changed. 

Oh, how great is the LOVE the Father has poured out on me.  Though my circumstances maybe hard and the path of my life may be taking turns that I had not planned, my Heavenly Father is all about love.  He is not a God of punishment. He is a God of redemption.  I am so greatful that His love is not like mine.  Open the eyes of my heart Lord, open the eyes of my heart. I want to see you. I want to see you. 

His love reaches into even the smallest areas of my life.  Hence the above picture… this is going to be silly to you I am sure, but oh so meaningful to me.  This little picnic table is a symbol to me right now of God’s interest in my life and His willingness to show me love in the smalles of things.  The story behind the table…..

For a while now I have been wanting to buy a picnic table for the boys, to have a place where they can eat and draw and play with playdough outside… really who thought playdough was a good idea?  Anyway, I haven’t wanted to spend the kind-of money that buying one in a store would cost, so last weekend during Daybreak’s community garage sale, I got the boys in the car, filled them with snacks, and proceeded to drive through the neighborhood looking for a picnic table.  Before I started I said a little prayer and asked God to find us one…and for once truly believing that my Papa would actually LOVE to do this for us and guess what?  He did, not 5 minutes later on the curb sat this beautiful, in prestine condition table with three seats, one for each little boy…..and to top it off, it only cost the cash I had in my purse at the time.  I was so thrilled and touched that God cared enough about me and my boys that He reached down into my small little life and blessed me with what I asked for. 

I know simple things, but you know what?  When we start to attribute the good in our lives to our Heavenly Father it is amazing what we see.  He loves us…me…. you…..

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A must read!

I finished this book about a month ago and have been ruminating on it and wanting to blog on it since then. So here goes…

This is probably one of the most life impacting books I have ever read and I read a lot.  It is a modern allegory that brings the message of God’s love straight to the heart.  Before I read this book, God was already preparing me to hear His message and so when I finally did read it I was blessed beyond what I can put into words. 

I don’t want to ruin the story for you, but basically a man (Mack) who is struggling with the loss of a child has an encounter with God… really with the Trinity (Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu) that basically helps him shake off, what the author refers to as, his “Great Sadness.”  Let me just say this is no ordinary encounter.  God shows up in a form that will probably throw some of you off, but keep reading.  So much of what I read, I knew already, but it was communicated, through this story in such a way that I couldn’t help but be changed. While the main character is a man, I still identified with him in so many ways. Many of “his” questions were questions I have been asking lately and so much of what was revealed to him by this encounter with his Papa was revealed to me in a fresh way that penetrated my soul.  Mack was a broken man, a man struggling to make it through the day with his faith in tact and so often that is where I am at. 

 There is much in this book that will rock your stereotypical religious boat, which I think know was intended.  Don’t let that disuade you from reading it.

I spent much of the boys nap time yesterday making notes in my journal about what I read and what stood out to me….what changed me…. and I still have over a quarter of the book to write about.  Here are a couple of the things that I wrote down (much will need to be blogged about in seperate posts). some of the following words are mine, but most are a paraphrase from the book..

God is about relationship…..Only God can set us free, but freedom can never be forced. Freedom is a process that can only happen inside a relationship with the Trinity.

God is LOVE-

God is NOT who I thought He was… He is sooo much more.

God is not a punisher, He is a reedeemer.  Sin is its own punishment.  It is God’s purpose and joy to cure sin not punish it.  My choices (sin) cause hurt and suffering.  God is not evil. I am the one who embraces fear and pain and power. But my choices are not stronger than Gods purposes and He will use every choice I make for the ultimate good and most loving outcome.  When I realize, believe, and live in this, I am free to have a relationship with Him.  Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved. 

All the “bad” in the world is NOT justified by God, it is redeemed by God. 

I could go on and on, but I would rather you read the book yourself.  If you love a good story than you will enjoy this book.  If you want a fresh word from the Lord, you will want to read this book.  If you are struggling to feel the love of your Father in the midst of your pain, then read this book.  If you want to feel the loving arms of your Papa around you in a real, loving, and almost physical way, dive into this book head first, expecting Him to meet you on the pages.  I don’t think you will be dissapointed. 

If you have already read this book… please comment…. I would love to know what you think.  After you read it come back and comment as well.

The Shack by William P Young

 

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New Jammies

“Put your jammies on!  Jammies on!  Jammies on!  Brush your teeth!  Wash your face and go to sleep!  Put your jammies on! Jammies on!”–  Lines from a ridiculously simple, but fun song for kids by “GO FISH.”  If you have little ones who love music… your kids will love them.  Anyway…. more pictures of …… you guessed it  KIDS IN JAMMIES!

Their version of a scarry face…… Don’t get much cuter than that…..

 Doesn’t he look beautiful in blue. And that skin….mmmmm…. is soooo soft and kissable!

Eyob LOVES to be included in ANYTHING with his bros.  And No Brad we don’t do Sloan’s hair like this… only after bathtime.

Sean thought choking Eyob was a good way to keep him still. Eyob didn’t think so.  DOn’t worry I didn’t let it get out of hand. 

Look at those blue eyed boys!  So handsome!

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Armstrong Update

I know, I know it has been awhile…. so sorry!!!!!  A lot of things have been going on so I will get back into blogging with a little update on the Armstrong Family… Let’s go youngest to oldest.

Eyob is doing really well.  As you can see he is a pretty smiley little boy, especially when there is a camera around.  I don’t think he got to be naked much at Hannah’s Hope, but he just loves to run around with out his clothes.  Notice the hair.  If you remember from earlier pictures, when we brought him home he had no hair.  In fact, they had shaved his head the day before we got there.  Take a second and find one of my first post from his homecoming and compare it to these two photos.  Isn’t he so much healthier and happier looking.  If you pull out one of his curls his hair is about an inch and a half long (maybe more).  I will take a close up picture of his hair for you later.  It is so cute… I can’t bare to shave it just yet.  Eyob and I are doing much better… Brandon has been gone for almost 3 weeks (more on that later) and that has forced both of us to work with each other.  I have been working on more Love and Logic techniques, using lots of empathy, and he is really responding.  When am harsh he responds harshly… when my heart is soft towards him, his is softer towards me (more on this topic in another post).  He is walking, running, climbing and generally bugging his older brothers, by trying to do whatever they do.  We are trying to teach him that he is not the center of the world, but that isn’t going as well.  Probably just the age.  He has definite opinions about things and likes extra love (a lot) which is something I am learning to give. He is talking more and more, mostly gibberish, but knows quite a few signs which help him communicate.  All in all, he is a healthy and happy seventeen month old.  By the way, we are parasite free!!!! So happy he is part of our family!

Sean is 2 and one month old and changing by the minute.  He is putting 3 to 4 word sentences together and just says the cutest stuff.  Woan= Sloan…. Woany= Sloany.  These are two of his favorite things to say. He idolizes his older brother and most of the time they can be found somewhere in the house playing away.  I love to watch their imaginations fly as they play cars, horses, or dinosaurs.  Sean loves his stuffed animals.  I gave each of the boys a dollar to spend at the dollar store (lots of fun for them)….. Sloan picked out a gun and Seany picked out a stuffed animal that we call Tasha because she looks like Tasha from The Backyardigans (love this show).  He sleeps with her every night and calls her his baby.  Since he and Eyob have started sharing a room their relationship has grown.  They are more like brothers and spend  lot of their bedtimes cracking each other up.  As annoying as it is when all I want them to do is sleep, it does make my heart happy to hear them enjoying each other.  Sean has a lot of attitude and is not that good a doing what we ask first time, which we are working on.  Love this kiddo!

Sloan is definetly the oldest child.  He is responsible, helpful, and for the most part really desires to please.  He is becoming so imaginitive.  He loves to read and ride his bike, but his favorite things are still cars and dinosaurs.  He spends a large portion of his time pretending to be a T-Rex, three clawed and all, chasing his brothers around.  It depends on the day, whether they appreciate it or not.  Most of the time Eyob loves it and Seany hates it!  We have been doing some “homeschool” preschool and Sloan loves it. In fact, we missed it on Friday and Sloan hasn’t let me forget it all weekend.  I will write about this in another post. We are so glad that summer is finally here… it has been a long winter here in Utah…. and Sloan is diggin the chance to ride his bike again. Since I only have a double stroller, I am so thankful that he is riding a bike now.  I push the other two and he just rides up ahead.  I am looking forward to how tired out he is going to be now. I can’t believe my oldest is going to be 4 in just a little over a month.  I am so thankful that God eased me into parenting with him.  He is a joy!

  This picture was taken at church on April 13th.  We had the boys dedicated.  It was pretty neat. Our pastor researched the meaning of the boys names and then gave each of them a “blessing” in the form of a verse.  It meant a lot.  I wish we would have had family with us, but we had our Utah “family” here to support.  Currently, they are walking out daily what it means to be family and we are so thankful for the friends that God has provided for us here in Utah.

Well, on to me.  I got to go “home” to Washington at the end of April to visit with my friend Jenn, who by the way is leaving in just 3 days to go get her baby girl in Kazakstan.  I actually got to go kid free and it was a wonderful time of relaxing and just being with my “sister.”  Brandon knew that I was struggling and saw that I needed to get away and I am so thankful that he did.  I got to go to the beach, which I have been missing desperatly.  The beach is my “recharge” place.  I feel God’s presence there like no other place.  Anyway, it was a wonderful 4 days.  I came home recharged and changed in a lot of ways (I will post on that later as well).  I am working on homeschool preschool with Sloan and some with Sean… which is a lot of fun.  I get to teach again and that is actually really nice. I have one more MOPS meeting of the year on Thursday. I am ready for a break but so glad that I decided to coordinate this year.  I had an awesome team and I look forward to serving with most of them again next year!  They have been so wonderful to me.  I have really been learning a lot about myself and God over the last 6 months and look forward to sharing some of what I am learning with you in later posts.

Brandon… as many of you know we moved to Utah because God told us to and for a job that would offer Brandon the education he wanted in the stock market.  He spent the last two years working and getting the education.  It has been a long road for him.  It was a job that he didn’t love…. on the phone most of the day, working long hours that kept him away from the family and pretty isolated, which if any of you know Brandon, you know that he loves people and being part of a community.  While I have found community here in Utah, it has been hard for Brandon because of his work schedule.  So when we knew that we would be getting Eyob, we also realized that we wanted something different for our family than just a job that swallowed up all of his time and energy.  So with lots of prayer and God searching, we decided to go out on our own and start our own business.  When we got home from Ethiopia he quit his job and started trading in the stock market.  He also began looking for other opportunities. Brandon is an opportunity man and while this scares me a little it is also something that I really admire about him.  He wants to spend more time with his family, with his boys, and that has motivated him to change his situation.  All of this has been a huge risk and very scary for us.  Currently, Brandon is in California (and has been for 3 weeks), following an opportunity that has the potential to really add to our business.  He is being tenacious in following out what we feel God calling us to and I am so proud of him and the things that God is doing in his life.  We could really use your prayers!   I am not going to give the boring details because it would take to much time, but please pray specifically for an investor!  We are putting our faith and hope in the Lord right now and it is literally taking all that we have to remain steady in this time. I know that God will provide for ALL of our needs and while we know that what we see as our needs may not be what God sees, we are still walking down this road that we believe HE has put us on.  Pray that God would hold Brandon up and give him ears to hear and the strength to walk even when he is afraid.  I believe that when we gather together God will hear and answer.  We need wisdom, direction and an investor and we are beating down the doors to heaven with our cries… please join us!

So that is us….. we are seeking to go further up and deeper in to the will of God daily.  We are learning much and trusting in a God that has proven to be faithful over and over.  Again, I ask that you would join with us in prayer for wisdom and direction. 

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