Friday, November 20, 2009

Life is never boring...

A couple of major things have happened in our household over the last few weeks. I've already talked about one of new job, and that's been a lot of fun already. I have 3 articles published, and hoping to get in a pattern that I can be writing 4-6 articles a week. That is the hard part because between homeschooling, smart shopping preparation, smart shopping, chores, doctor appointments, and life in general I don't have a whole lot of time left. I'm hoping that once the holidays are over and there's a lot less going on in January I'll get myself into a pattern.

Anyway, other things that have been going at our house: first my son got sick with a cold, then my daughter, then they so lovingly shared it with me. During that same time I became VERY ill and had to have Jeff bring me to the ER at 4:30 in the morning a couple of weeks ago. I had nasty stomach cramping caused by something going on in my gut which caused other problems as well (I won't mention how really bad it was because to me it just sounds gross!). They did a lot of testing, but all the tests came back inconclusive. I still seem to be having some issues in my gut, but for the most part we're all back to healthy here.

Along with the new job and writing about debt reduction, these last few weeks (when I wasn't in bed sleeping due to my health issues) I have been putting together a plan for eliminating our debt. I am so excited as I work on it, and can't wait for us to start implementing it. I started some of it already, but we won't have everything in place and all the kinks worked out until after the holidays. How good it will feel to watch our debt amounts go down!

I cannot believe that we are already coming up on the holiday season. Christmas will be here before we know it. Next week I need to plan our homeschooling for the three weeks in December...we always do a lot of more fun-oriented things and a lot less bookwork during that time and the kids always look forward to it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My new job

Here is where you'll find me at So excited!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I got it! I got it!

I got the job! I get to do some freelance writing for! The pay might not be much, but it will be worth every penny. I can't will be so exciting! I had to send in my pic and bio today, and then I go through some background checks and setting up 'my page'. I have the title "Debt Examiner", and my expertise will be in debt reduction. I thought it was perfect for all that I've been learning lately and trying to do to reduce our debt. It should be up and running with my first article by early next week! I'll be sure to post. :-)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sigh of Relief

I just applied for my first online writing job! As excited as I am, I feel huge relief that my first article is written (that needed to be included with my application), and that the nervous jitters are now over with as well. It took me several hours and constant rewrites, but it is done, and I feel very good about it. Now the waiting part has come, however, and that could take up to a week! I am excited about the possibility of doing this kind of work. I think it will be rewarding, and the extra income will be really nice. I just hope they like my article and my resume is acceptable! I will be sitting on pins and needles until I hear from them...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Honey, I shrunk the grocery budget!

If you've been following my blog at all, you'll have noticed that I have been working on becoming a smart shopper. Since June I have been keeping track of any grocery/household purchases and set them up on a spreadsheet. I have great news! These are the percentages saved since June:

June: 28.43%
July: 40.46%
August: 45.84%
September: 49.57%

I am very excited about that! It went from very minimally saved to almost 50% savings in 4 months! I never would have dreamed I could cut our spending in half, let alone do it in such a short time.

Our next goal is to cut electrical usage. We've been doing a lot of things differently over the last couple of weeks already and hope to see a drop in our utility bill by the end of December. We've switched the majority of our lightbulbs over to LED and florescent, turned off all computers at night (we used to have 3 up and running 24 hours a day), and have been keeping lights off that we would typically leave on in the evening. I would love to hear other ways to save on electricity if you'd be willing to share!

I am still looking for ways to bring in income, and have been researching companies for at home work. Hopefully I will find something soon that will be a good fit.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Beginning the road to debt free...

I am extremely tired of seeing our debt. I want to know what it feels like to be debt free, and to know that we are not tethered to a bank or company because we owe them money! I also want to be a good steward of what God has so generously given us, so it's important for me to do all I can, but I am realizing that I have no idea how I can make income from home to help supplement so we can start paying down our debt faster. Smart shopping has been helping immensely - I am SOOOO thankful that I can help us save money this way, but I am convicted that we need to become debt free as soon as we possibly can, which means more income sooner. Herein lies my biggest problem, however! I am limited as to what I can do because health problems make it difficult for me to work outside the home at this time. So what am I to do? I don't like sewing, and I'm not a craft-type person. The most I can do is crochet granny squares, and that only gets you so far!

I would absolutely love if anyone who has work-from-home experience would share with me what they have done, so I could try to come up with some ideas of what I could possibly do. I would appreciate your input!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Make ahead party menu

I just threw a birthday bash for my honey, Jeff, who turned 40 last week. I was so excited about the menu...not only did I not have to buy anything full price (I used coupons and watched sales for everything!), but the whole menu was prepared a day in advance, so I didn't have to worry about a thing come the day of the party. I must say it went rather smoothly, and the guests had a great time! Below is the menu, and how I did it.

Bbq pork sandwiches - I bought 3 roasts ahead of time and froze them. On prep day I threw them all in crockpots and turned them on low to cook ALL day. I purposely start them out frozen because they seem to get a lot more moisture that way and never dry out. I've cooked them at refrigerated temp before and was never happy about the outcome. After they are done cooking and shredded, I added barbecue sauce and some of the juice I had taken out of it and chilled it for the night. The day of the party I put the crock back in the pot and turn it on low about 4 hours before the party.

German Potato Salad - I've always found that if German potato salad is made a day in advance and chilled, the vinegar and sugar do their job. Makes for better flavor when serving. This also needs to go in a crockpot and on low about 4 hours before.

Chicken salad - this was soooo easy to make up ahead of time. I just put an extra amount of mayo in because it always seems to dry out by the next day. It was perfect by party time.

Jello - All I had to do was spread some cool whip on top, and it was ready to go.

Rice krispie bars
O Henry Bars
Veggie tray
soda pop/bottled water
birthday cake/ice cream

All I had to do was plate the bars and put the chips in baskets before the party! It was so simple. Later on in the evening (since the party had started at 2 p.m.), we started a campfire in the backyard and I brought out hot dogs and buns and makings for s'mores. The hot dogs were a huge hit!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Rummage sale...

This last weekend we had the biggest rummage sale we've ever had at our house. We had two other families put their unwanted things up for sale with us, and we were all amazed as to how many people were out rummage sale-ing on Friday. It was busy ALL day. By Saturday evening there wasn't much left to go through and figure out what we wanted to do - craigslist, ebay, used bookstore, keep, donate. Each pile was relatively small, which was a great feeling, because we had had a LOT to sell! I was even more excited about what our garage looks like now after all of our unwanted stuff is gone! We even have room inside our garage for our grill, which used to sit on our front stoop - now I can put a chair there and maybe some plants to enjoy!

Today I am off to getting caught up on household chores and getting a schedule plan done for the kids' school. We have been taking a break now since the first week of August, and that's the longest the kids have had time off in several years since we started doing year-round homeschool. They've enjoyed the time off while we helped our friends move and get resettled and finished the rummage sale, but I think we're all just about ready for some normalcy around here. I can't believe our summer is just about gone, however! One more camping trip and then it's time to shut down the camper for the winter...oh to start dreaming already of next year's trips!

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I wanted to share this video today. I have seen it several times and every time it makes me cry. I hope you enjoy it. It's by Lifehouse, called Everything.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I haven't disappeared!

Yep, I'm still here! Just been very busy and not home for more than a day here or there over the last week and a half. I'll explain more on that later.

It's been a crazy two weeks (make that summer!), and it's not over yet. I am taking part of the day today to catch up on life, and then I dig headfirst into prepping for a rummage sale I'm having with friends in a week and a half. I'm looking forward to seeing extra stuff gone from our house and a little more breathing room. Things feel so cluttered right now, and I would love to see more room and less things! Then it's school time again. The kids got a few extra weeks off due to our helping friends with an unexpected move they had to make (hence our being gone over the last couple of weeks), so now we'll have to do some catch-up to make up for that time. They have learned a lot of life lessons during this time off, however, so I know that time wasn't without learning experiences. I am just so thankful that the Lord saw to it that I would have the strength and energy to help our friends.

I surprisingly was still able to get a bit of shopping done in the last week, and had a great trip to Walgreens. Our savings for the month of August is almost as much as our out-of-pocket, so I think I can say I have officially cut our grocery/household bill in half. It has taken almost 3 months to do it, but that really isn't very long at all! I have set a new goal for myself to keep my spending per week under $100. I did it this last week, so I'm hoping the trend can continue. It will be fun to try!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Walgreen's trip

I did pretty well at Walgreen's tonight with Jeff's help. I had him purchase most of the items that had register rewards first, and then I purchased the other non RR stuff afterwards and used the register rewards. Here's what I got - $117.28 worth of items for $40.13! I didn't realize the rice krispie treats also had a register reward on them until Jeff had paid for his purchases already, so I also have another $5 reward to use on my next purchase. That would have made it $35.13 OOP. I think that was pretty good!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The mundane things really aren't mundane.

As I sat at my desk this evening feeling overwhelmed by everything that went on over the last few days, my mind was spinning as I felt I accomplished nothing today. Then a fellow blogger reminded me of a promise that I made to myself not long ago to bring the glorious into the mundane. How easy it is to forget.

I did a lot today. I did a lot yesterday after we got home from camping and my uncle's funeral (who passed away young of cancer). I did a lot the days before we went camping over the weekend...but it was all mundane stuff. Nothing out of the ordinary, just things I do to prepare for and after every camping trip, and every day that we're home during the week. Homeschool. Planning shopping lists. Making meals. Planning for the next week. Making menus. Laundry. Mowing the lawn. You know, just the normal, every day stuff. After I gave myself a bit of time to ponder the post from that blog page, I have begun to realize the importance once again of not forgetting God in these things. He is with me always, and yet I keep forgetting to acknowledge Him throughout my day, and be thankful I have these mundane things to do.

I also don't want to take the great things for granted, either. The Lord laid it upon my heart heavily yesterday as I talked with my aunt after the funeral. I mentioned to her we came directly from camping to the funeral, and she started crying, and said that's one thing she'll never get to do again. I asked her if her kids would take her camping, and she replied, "it just wouldn't be the same". How precious her marriage was to her, and her husband. I pray that I will never take my husband for granted, nor my children. And that's one of the main earthly reasons to always bring the glorious into the mundane, because in the mundane we serve our families and our Lord more than we could ever know.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

WHEN PEOPLE ARE BIG and God is small...

I just started reading this book again for the second time. I had forgotten how powerful it is. I highly recommend it for anyone who has a relationship with Jesus Christ but finds themselves struggling with the ways of the world. Here are some reviews from the back of the book:

"Need people less. Love people more. That's the author's challenge...He's talking about a tendency to hold other people in awe, to be controlled and mastered by them, to depend on them for what God alone can give...[Welch] proposes an antidote: the fear of God...the believer's response to God's power, majesty and not least His mercy." -Dallas Morning News

"...refreshingly biblical...brimming with helpful, readable, practical insight." -John F. MacArthur Jr.

"Readable and refreshing...goes to the heart of an issue immobilizing the church. Exposes and repudiates the trivia of therapeutic theology with wisdom and compassion." -Susan Hunt
If you're looking for a good read and great insight on how to make God big in your life, I recommend this book.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Camping Menu

I am setting up our menu plan for our next camping trip, and thought I'd share!

FRIDAY (set up day)
sloppy joes (I typically make it ahead of time and just have to warm it up after we're done setting up camp)
pistachio salad (pistachio pudding, marshmallows, cool whip, and canned mandarin oranges)

later in the evening each night we have s'mores or tonka toast (pie filling inside pieces of bread using a iron toaster over the fire)

tonka toast breakfast (scrambled eggs, sausage, cheese inside bread cooked over the fire in the iron toaster)

hot dogs/brats
baked beans

dinner rolls

morning skillet (eggs, diced potatoes, sausage, cheese)

chili (made ahead of time)

corn chips
garden salad

roasted potatoes

MONDAY (packing up day - light, quick meals)
banana bread


I also usually make up some cookies or a pan of bars to enjoy throughout our camping trip as well, and keep a stocked 'snack bin' on hand with granola bars and other fun treats.

Some of our other fun meals we have when camping are hobo dinners (mini meatloaves placed inside wrapped aluminum foil along with cut up potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, or squash), and bagged omelettes (scrambled eggs, ham, and cheese 'scrambled' together in a ziploc bag and boiled in water until they are done - spray the bag with pam first, and they slide right out!).

What kinds of fun foods do you have when you're camping?

Aldi coming to St. Cloud!

Jeff heard on the radio this morning that Aldi is coming to town! He also found this article in our local newspaper. Can't wait to see what kinds of deals we can get there, since I've been seeing several ladies blogging about the savings they get at their Aldi's. Woohoo!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

My best savings yet - Walgreens

I did it! I had the best savings yet at Walgreen's tonight. It was an impromptu trip as we were just across the street and I asked Jeff if we could run there really quick. I had my coupon book with me, so I promptly pulled out the ad and looked to see if I had any coupons to match (since I hadn't had time to set up shopping lists yet this week). I also had some register rewards to use. I paid $9.71 for what you see below - a savings of $65.86!!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Coupon Chaining and other stuff...

My sister and two friends and I have decided to team up and coupon chain. We're all pretty excited about it, to the point that we're even contemplating a name for ourselves! This is our first month of it, so we haven't gotten into a pattern or anything, but the plan is to buy 300-400 coupons from ebay once a month and pass them around our group. We still have the logistics to work out, but it's been fun listening to each other's ideas. Are you in a coupon chain? What works for you, and what doesn't? We'd love some tips on how to make ours run smoothly.

Couponing has been going very well. I've saved more money this month (I know that sounds crazy to some-yes, we do have to spend money to save money, but my storage room is starting to look nice and full with all of the great things I've been getting for great deals), so we're doing wonderful. I have made it beyond the middle of July and still have funds in the bank account where I put all the savings from last month, so I'm very excited about that!

I have been looking at couponing as a hobby which really helps...I have been spending a couple of hours daily checking out blogsites, coupon sites, and ads. Then there's the actual shopping, and that's been fun for me. My husband and kids beg to differ some of the time, but they are happy when we are home and they have a variety of food to eat! I don't ever want to look at couponing as a chore, because once it isn't fun anymore I have a feeling I won't want to continue. So some people have scrapbooking or knitting or whatever...I have couponing!

This last week went by rather quickly. It felt really strange today not to be packing to go somewhere. Jeff had a full day of golf with his company, so it's a stay at home weekend, which is okay, but I can't wait for our next camping trip. Instead, I cleaned the den (including inside cabinets and desks), mowed the lawn (and almost killed three baby bunnies in the process!), cleaned our front step/porch area (and the mess left behind from killing a hornet's nest yesterday), scrubbed down the grill, cleaned the garage, did laundry, and found a bit of time to do some coupon browsing. Oh, and facebook! Have I mentioned yet how much I enjoy facebook? With being a stay at home/homeschool mom, I don't get out much, so I am so thankful for the quick and easy way I can keep up with friends and family. I check it often, and love that so many people use it. A lot of people see it as a time waster and don't get the concept, but for homebodies like me, it gives me an opportunity to experience the outside world and have adult conversations with friends any time of the day, and I can still get homeschool accomplished and chores done.

Speaking of chores, I best get back to them! Hope your weekend is good!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wasn't it supposed to be Doshi's turn?

Wouldn'tcha know...I had on my to do list to cut my son's hair yesterday. Instead, I had to cut my daughter's. We discovered yesterday that she cut out several snarls in her hair, leaving a bunch of short hair popping out from the back of her head, making it obvious that it was not 'normal'. After a quick bath and some clips with the shears, I was able to hide the weird short spots on her head. I even gave her some bangs and now she has a whole different look! Here are before and after pics... Before After

To me, it doesn't even look like the same person! She seems to be liking it somewhat, but we'll see. Our original plan was to do Locks of Love together, but I guess we'll be waiting a bit longer as she needs about 4 more inches.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Have you tried ebates? I have been a fan of ebates for about a month now, and already have a good balance in my account that I'll receive back in cash in August. I can't believe the savings I am getting from them! Just the other day I had to order more Frontline for our dog. I opened up ebates and typed in 1-800-petmeds, and they are a partner...not only am I getting 8% back in cash, but I also was able to use a coupon through ebates to get free shipping! If you sign up soon, they are offering a $5 cash back reward when you make your first purchase through them, so you not only get the cash back from that particular store, but you get $5 too! Make sure to tell your friends as well, because with each friend that signs up off your invitation, you get more bonuses! It's a great deal! LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT!!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

A little bit more of vacation time, please...

We had a great 4th of July weekend in Duluth, MN. We stayed at the Cloquet KOA in our travel trailer from Thursday to Monday, and we all had a wonderful time. On Friday, the kids and Jeff and I went to an indoor amusement park called Thrillz at Canal Park. From there we walked down to the lift bridge and watched a couple of sailboats go in and out of the harbor. Then we decided to cross the lift bridge and go out to the peninsula called "Park Point" and walked around in the sand a bit at the beach. It was very windy and cold, yet there were people everywhere in their bathing suits trying to catch some rays...we certainly looked out of place with our jackets and sweatshirts on, just trying to stay warm!

Friday evening we took in a college level baseball game between our hometown team and the Duluth team. Unfortunately we did not win, but it was still a fun game.

On Saturday we went down to the Lakewalk and Bayfront Park where the Duluth 4th festival was happening. We spent a few hours wandering around and Jeff and the kids checked out a feature attraction for the weekend, the Denis S. Sullivan, a beautiful replication of a 19th century sailboat. After a few hour return to the campground to get some swimming in and have dinner, we headed back to the festival to enjoy the music and wait for the fireworks. After a bit of a mishap and not being seated in the right place for the fireworks, we relocated rather quickly and were able to see them. They were good, but not as good as we're used to here in St. Cloud. We also did have an issue with parking...we were stuck for over an hour in the parking lot waiting to get out. It appeared that the woman patrol who was signalling traffic had no clue what to do. We made it back to the camper after midnight and quickly got everyone off to bed.

On Sunday we all slept in a bit and then got ready and headed to the Duluth Zoo.
It was pretty warm already by the time we got there and most of the animals were napping, so we didn't get to see a whole lot. My son said that was his favorite part about the whole weekend, though, so it was worth going! After the zoo we stopped at the Kmart in Duluth because I happened to catch in their ad that they were doing the double coupon thing and I got several good deals. Jeff took a cart and 10 coupons and so did I, and we were able to save a bit of money. I think we did pretty good but I haven't had time to figure out the exact savings per item yet. When we were done there we headed back to the camper for an evening of steak on the grill and a roaring campfire to end our great weekend.

Today's trip home felt sooo long, and I was not looking forward to coming home, but with all trips - they must come to an end, and I think our kids had just about enough of small enclosed sleeping quarters in their bunks.

On a side note: I encountered something really sweet with our stay at the KOA, which was just a blessing to me. There was an older couple just over from us. I knew that they were having some issues with not having a campsite over the weekend and could only stay at the KOA the one night because the campground was filled up - we were registering at the same time. During the conversation the couple were having at their campsite later, I heard the gentleman tell his wife about the situation. She was so upbeat and so positive - she would heartily laugh and seemed to thoroughly just enjoy being with her husband no matter the problems, and she was such an encouragement to her husband. A while later, I looked over at them sitting outside in their lawn chairs. The husband had gone to the store and bought both of them ice cream bars and they were sitting there enjoying them. It was SOOOOOO sweet! I told Jeff that I hope when we're up in years and still able to get around (and hopefully be camping!) I pray that our marriage is still that sweet. Jeff smiled at me with that knowing smile - he knows the softy I am. Thank God for loving husbands and for the blessings in others He gives us everyday! This couple will never know what they did to bless me, but they certainly did just by how they cared for each other.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What's your 6th picture?

Fishmama over at Life as Mom is playing the 6th picture game. It got me a bit curious as to what my sixth picture would be, and oh my goodness! Could that break a mother's heart any more? This is my son (we call him Doshi) when he was 2. He looks so sad and alone, cuddling his blanket and his dog for reassurance. I remember that doctor appointment fairly well. Both of our kids were sick with strep throat and they were both miserable, Doshi moreso. Just look at those big crocodile tears! It just brings me back in the moment of when he was a tender two year old. He still wasn't talking and the world was just so amazing to him. My Doshi is now 8 years old, and a rambunctious boy at that!

I am not going to tag anyone, so
if you want to play along, here are the rules:

1) Go to your photo folders
2) Select the sixth file folder
3) Open it and select the sixth photo in that file folder
4) Write a story for that picture, post it and
5) Select five bloggy friends to tag
6) Be sure to let them know they've been tagged

I, like Fishmama, do not like tagging, since it really doesn't seem to work. So if you're curious what your 6th picture is and want to share, please post back to me in the comments. Thanks!


Okay, so I had planned on packing the camper yesterday afternoon. I don't know how it didn't happen! I only:
  • Washed a load of clothes
  • filled the dishwasher and started it
  • made lunch
  • ate lunch with family
  • washed another load of clothes
  • folded a basket of laundry
  • set up all of our vitamins for our four day trip
  • washed a sink full of dishes
  • put some items in the bins to go to the camper
  • cut some coupons from Sunday's paper
  • prepped for dinner
  • folded another basket of laundry
  • went through packing list to see what else I could get in the bins to go to the camper
  • ate dinner with family
  • searched high and low for my husband's baseball mitt so he could go to softball (we pretty much tore apart the camper, truck and car but didn't find it)
  • reorganized the back storage bin in the camper since we pulled it apart looking for the mitt
  • fixed a hole in the pool
  • helped a friend figure out a website she was having problems with
I just can't figure out where my time went!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June...a review....

Wow, what a whirlwind month! I can't believe we fit in all that we did in the month of June - 2 camping trips, VBS, extreme couponing and SEVERAL shopping trips, homeschool, and various other things. July looks to be just as busy, however, so no slowing down yet! I thought I'd share a little bit about each of these subjects and my favorite parts about them.

Camping trip #1: Eveleth Veteran's Park, Eveleth, MN. A nice small city-run park with about 30 campsites. We have gone there the last three years so that we can camp with some of my family members who live nearby. This year it was just my sister's family and my family camping -we had a joint birthday party for one of her boys and my son. It was good, and the weather was cool and sometimes a bit rainy but overall nice. Below is a pic of my kids and some of their cousins enjoying an afternoon at the beach. The water was too cold to swim in so they played in the sand and waded in the water.
Camping #2: Baker Park Reserve, Maple Plain, MN. A county run park just 20 minutes west of the twin cities. It's a beautiful park on a good-sized lake with two swimming beaches. I'm guessing there are well over 75 sites at this campground and is always very busy. This is our second year we stayed there because we really like it and it's a nice short distance (under an hour) from our home. This trip we spent with friends, and it was a good time despite the inclement weather. It rained almost two inches overnight the first night, and our friends' tent had lots of water in it by morning. This is a pic of the beach at sunset our first evening there. It was hot (92 degrees), and the kids had a great time swimming.

Vacation Bible School: This was the first year ever that my kids attended VBS. Up until this last year, we had been attending a small Bible church that didn't have enough kids to host something like that, so my kids were very excited to go. They had a blast. My daughter wants every day to be a VBS day now, and she's already looking forward to next year. I am so happy to see both of the kids' enthusiasm grow for the things of the Lord. This is my daughter's 4th grade class acting out a song at the parent's program on the last day.

Extreme couponing and shopping: In total for the month of June, I have saved an overall amount of $859.55. We bought more than just groceries and household items - Jeff needed new clothing but we only bought during BOGO or 50% off sales. We also did a lot of rebating at Menards and are still waiting for the rebate coupons to come in the mail. For actual groceries and household needs we saved $403.93, so almost half of the $859.55. We saved exactly 1/3rd off the total (if we were to pay full price) amount for the month! I'm pretty excited about that!

Homeschool: Our summer session of homeschool is a bit lighter than during the regular school year. We use different curriculum and do different things. The summer months bring gardening and kitchen basics, and we spend some time daily doing either one of them. As I mentioned before, I also am going to be adding in a money management class for the kids. We'll be starting it next Tuesday. I found some great books (here and here) that we're going to be reading through together, and then when we've read through both of them I will start having the kids help me with weekly planning for shopping trips (looking through ads, coupons, making lists, etc.). I saw other Larry Burkett books for kids when I was searching these to put up and I may consider them for next year's summer session to keep reinforcing the importance of godly stewardship. I am looking forward to helping my kids learn how to use their money wisely.

Other various things: During the month of June we also went to a classic car show, "Back to the 50's" held at the state fairground every year. My dad, brother, and nephew all have classic vehicles and have gone for the last several years. We met up with them again this year and wandered around the fairgrounds for several hours looking at classic cars. It's always a fun time.

Jeff had softball on Tuesday evenings during the month, and he has enjoyed that. We did go see him play at one game, but haven't had the chance to go again.

Overall, June was a good month. Busier than I anticipated, and these are just a few of the 'big' things we did. I hope your June was just as fun!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Savings Book

I thought I'd share today what I've come up with for what I call "my savings book". It consists of a binder with everything I need to save money. First, here's the binder:
Then when I open it up it has a slot for extra coupons or stuff that I need to have access to quickly as well as shopping lists (on post it lined paper) that don't have any ads. I also have a ziploc type pocket to put needed things in like paper clips, paper, or pens/highlighters:
Next are the coupons, and I've separated them into grocery and non-grocery using 4x6 plastic photo holders especially made for binders. I bought them at Office Depot:
Ads come next, and I used leftover heavy weight sheet protectors from Office Depot (from another project) for them. The sticky post-it lined paper works great for sticking it to the ad, and then I paper clip the coupons to the sticky note. I also have a program called Handy Shopper on my palm pilot, but I have not yet figured out a good method for using it with needing to have it set specifically for so many different stores each week. I'm trying to come up with a plan, though, since that would make it even easier!
After the ads, I have restaurant and business coupons:
Behind all this I have put a notebook if I need to have paper while I'm out shopping or want to jot something down.

It's still all in it's 'baby' stages as this is only my fourth week. So far this system is working well. I am thinking, however, that I might need to get some more 4"x6" photo holders to accommodate the smaller restaurant and business coupons that I have, too, maybe going every other page or something like that. I'd love to hear if anyone has any tips on how to make this system even better!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Enjoying blogging and productivity....

I am really enjoying this blog thing. Not necessarily me writing (although I do like to do that), but all of the great blogs I've been finding as a learn the art of couponing. Several times a day I go down my blog list to see if anyone has written anything new, and I am always blessed...I'm really getting to know these people, and enjoying every minute of it!

Over the last few days I've especially been reading the menu plans that the lady bloggers have been putting up and I'm getting ideas for new menus here in our household. I don't know how many times I've said over the last several months to Jeff how bored I've gotten with our recipes - not only am I learning how to be a better steward of our money, but I'm finding some great recipes, too! I have to also mention I feel like I've made some new friends as well.

Today was a partially productive day. This morning while my kiddos were at VBS I mowed the lawn. Our yard takes me about 1 1/2 hours to mow, and today was no exception. It was extremely warm and humid! After the kids got home for lunch, we made grilled cheese salsa sandwiches and had chips on the side. Then it was off to our pool in the backyard to let the kids cool off. After they had played for about half an hour, their friends stopped by to play and decided to swim too. They stayed for about an hour, so thankfully I had enough reading to do! After they were done swimming we came back inside and I worked on the next week's menu and prepped for dinner. I made grilled chicken (with my new McCormick's rub I snagged for about a dollar after sale and coupon!) and also grilled russet and sweet potatoes. I also had some leftover peas from a previous meal. After dinner, Jeff left for softball and I had several things to take care of. I folded laundry, brought it out to the camper, emptied out under the sink in the camper (so Jeff could fix the board that is failing), came back inside and started paying bills, cut Jeff's hair when he got home from softball, and finished paying bills. Whew! Tomorrow is going to be even busier! The kids and I all have dentist appointments in the afternoon for our annual cleaning (they also have VBS still in the morning and I still need to do homeschool planning for the youngest). After the dentist, we're meeting Jeff in town at Arby's to get their 5 for $5 roast beefs, and then have some more sale shopping to do at Menard's, Kohl's, and a truckload sale at our local grocery store. Can't wait to see what kind of deals I can get and add to my savings!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Couponing update...

This is week four of my new-found hobby of couponing. It's going well. I just about have all my shopping lists ready to get to the stores with the deals I have coupons for, and hopefully I can make it to all of them. So far we've saved over $600 total with some clothing purchases for Jeff - but we did BOGO at Kohl's, the $50 rebate at Sears, and the 50% off at Old Navy. We also did rebates at Menards. $300 of that $600 is savings from groceries and necessities, and I still have this week to include, so hopefully we'll have close to $400 in the 'grocery' checking account come July 1st that I will use solely for groceries and necessities. It will certainly be interesting to see just how far I can stretch that money!

On another note, it got to be 86 degrees and very humid here today. We decided to put the pool up for the kids. They couldn't even
wait to hop in! The water is still extremely cold, however, so they didn't last long. I imagine by tomorrow afternoon it should be perfect.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Mom, we should smile because God's taking pictures...

I love storms. I love the sound of rain, thunder, wind. I love to see the lightning. Unfortunately our kids did not inherit that love! Last night as we watched radar, Jeff and I noticed a nice long bow echo heading our direction. We have always tried hard not to say anything to the kids about storms because they do panic so easily, but they heard that we were under a severe storm warning on the radio and started panicking anyway. After we tucked them in to bed, our oldest would come out every few minutes asking how close the storm was. She would ask questions like "what would happen if the storm blew off our roof?" and "how will we find the cat if we need to go into the storage room?" So once the storm was close enough to see the lightning, I had her sit and watch the storm with me. She was mesmerized as I always am. It helped that it was a rolling thunder and not big booms, and she could see the lightning shoot across the sky. Finally after 10 minutes it started raining and the wind picked up a little. She was satisfied enough to know that the storm wasn't as bad as she feared and could go back to bed. 5 minutes later, "BOOM!"...lightning had hit nearby, and yep, you guessed it - she was back in the family room concerned that the storm was getting worse! Thankfully it was the only loud boom as the storm petered out and headed further eastward. Our youngest fell asleep early on and was not bothered at all by the storm.

I share this story because as I was spending devotional time this morning I got to thinking about all the storms my family and friends have been facing as of late, as well as my own storms. Sometimes we're like my oldest - worried and panicked and scared as to what could happen. I fret along with the best of 'em. But I'm beginning to really understand that our worrying gets us nowhere, except further from God because we're not letting Him handle our troubles. We push Him away and say "No God, I have to handle this on my own", and yet He keeps telling us "My child, I am here for you. I will do what's best for you and you have to trust me".

Is it easy to trust? It should be. But sometimes it's just as scary as the thing we're fearing. How can I trust? I need to just let God in, accept His help and not carry the burden alone.
I saw a saying once that said "Don't tell God how big your storm is, tell your storm how big God is."

Some of my family and friends who are suffering right now don't know Jesus. They don't have the security that those of us in Christ do. I pray earnestly for them - not only for their burden, but for their salvation. Oh, if they only knew Jesus!

During the storm, my daughter said "Mom, we should smile because God's taking pictures of us (the lightning)". That also hit me as I know that God takes more than pictures, and not just during storms! He is with us EVERY moment of the day, encouraging us to follow Him. I want to smile at Him always, and that means smiling 100% of the time because He IS everyone we meet...our spouses, our children, our family, our friends, strangers...He is everyone. Okay, so tough task you say. Yep, I know. But if I can smile even half the time my heart will be changed and I can make a difference in other people's lives. I challenge you to make a commitment to smile at God 100% of the time, too. How does it make you feel when a total stranger smiles at you, or your spouse smiles at you, or your kids? Feels good, doesn't it? I'd love to see what would happen if we all started smiling at each other more often. Do it. I challenge you. :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fun camping cake....

My sister made this cake for my son's and nephew's birthday party this last weekend. It turned out very cute! She used one of those battery operated 'candles' for the inside of the fire pit, and cut mini marshmallows even smaller to put on the roasting sticks. My sister is pretty ingenious when it comes to cakes!

Finances for the young...

This is week number three of my new commitment to saving our family money by couponing and watching ads/blogs for great deals. My son was very proud to tell a friend that I had purchased 650+ coupons on ebay for only $12 - and he's getting used to seeing me sitting at my desk figuring out shopping lists and coupons. I am still tossing ideas around in my head for laying out a curriculum. The kids are going to VBS next week so I will have some extra time then to figure out the best scenario. I can't wait to start sharing what I've learned so far with them - they are already very excited when I tell them the amount I've saved with each shopping trip, so I know they're interested...just gotta find ways to keep that interest up! I will share with you all what ideas I've come up with for the financial curriculum for elementary ages as soon as I get the details all worked out.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Thank you for the nomination!

Thanks so much to
Megan at Focusing on the Bible, Family and the Great Deals for nominating me for the Kreativ Blogger award!
Rules of this award
(1) Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
(2) Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
(3) Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
(4) Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
(5) Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
(6) Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
(7) Leave a comment on each of the blogs, letting them know they have been nominated.
7 things about me...
1. I grew up in a little town in Northern Minnesota that no longer exists.
2. I have been out of the US only 4 times...3 to Canada, and once to Cozumel.
3. My family and I enjoy camping immensely and I would love to be a full-time RV'er.
4. I went to college for a business degree - I wanted to own and run my own B&B someday.
5. I have been married for 14 1/2 years to the love of my life!
6. I have two older brothers and one younger sister.
7. I am a homeschool mom, and love the challenge.
My nominees are:
Phyllis at
2. Jen at Penny Pinching Pixy
3. Tracy at Girls to Grow
4. Hip To Save
5. We Are THAT family
6. Crystal at Money Saving Mom
7. Mercedes at Common Sense with Money
Love your blogs, ladies!!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thankful for the rain, but glad to see the sun...

Over the weekend we got about 1/2 an inch of rain. Not much, and we certainly needed every drop. I wasn't too thrilled that we had four days of gloomy, gloomy, gloomy, however! It is back to sunny skies today and a bit warmer weather, which is good.

I didn't get as much done these last few days as I was hoping to (some tummy troubles), but I am happy to say that I did find some more deals, and will be heading to Target and Cub today with a friend. Can wait to see how I do at both places!

The kids have taken notice of my recent coupon mania and frugal frenzy. My daughter has even helped clip some coupons, but my son was the vocal one...he said "Mom, you sure are going crazy with those coupons - I think you're the coupon queen!" I chuckled a bit at that, and decided I am going to make this into an educational experience for us all. It will be good for the kids to learn how to save and find the best deals on things they desire, too. Maybe I'll even design a curriculum based all on saving, couponing, and thriftiness so that we can help our family save money in every way possible. The more I think about it, the more I am excited to implement something like that! I have a couple more weeks before our next break, so I think I better starting making a plan....any ideas, please share!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

More savings...

I found us more deals today. We saved $146 on items we needed from Menard's, Kohl's, and Sears. It's such a great feeling to know that we're being wiser with our money and the way we shop.

Menard's had a lot of rebate items we could use so we stopped there first. Then we went to Kohl's - they had BOGO on summer clothing, and Jeff needed more shirts. He was able to get four and we only paid for two! At Sears Jeff bought three pairs of jeans that were on sale - for $65.
He got the three pairs of name-brand jeans for only $15 total - we'll get $50 of the $65 back in a rebate coupon to spend on more clothes for Jeff at Sears later on. What a blessing to have found these great deals!

Friday, June 5, 2009

My first coupon shopping trip

Last night we went on our 'first' coupon shopping trip at the local Cub Foods. Being as it was the first one, I don't have all the tricks down yet, but I must say I feel pretty good about saving a total of $87.78! The cashier also gave us more coupons for a future visit, AND we got coupons for 2 BOGO Twins Baseball tickets! That's probably another savings of $20 or more, since it has to be tickets purchased in the lower reserved section.

Back to our receipt and the purchases. We bought 87 items, so it was just a little over a dollar saved on each item - not bad! I am aiming to get better at this, however, and am really starting to see a plan working itself out. Jeff picked up an index card box for me last night with plastic separators for a better way to file my coupons, and I've decided for this first month we are going to put any savings we make on purchases into a separate checking account that we haven't been using. After one month that money is going to turn into my grocery shopping money, and I'll just keep putting back into it whatever savings I get each time. I'm going to see how far I can stretch it before I need to replenish it with another month of shopping from our regular account. I am so excited to try this concept out! It will be very interesting to see how far I can go!

I just realized this morning that I have been saving money for awhile as well when it comes to our vitamin/health needs. I've purchased several times from two websites that always seem to have great deals going, and You'll find both of them in my websites list on the right side of this page. I just purchased some Silent Snore for my husband today for 40% off at Can't beat that!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Good Stewardship part 2

Okay, so I've had roughly 36 hours to totally bury myself in websites and blogsites that have some of the greatest tips for saving money, and I tell ya, I'm pooped but very excited at the same time. I spent the majority of my free time the last two days printing coupons, signing up for freebies, buying 650+ coupons on ebay (my sister and I are splitting them) and going through three different grocery store ads to figure out what's on sale this week and what I already have coupons for. I pulled out my old coupon folder and wiped the dust off, and now I just need to come up with a system that will work for me. Right now I have them in folders according to the months they expire, but I'm not sure I like that. I'll have to play around with it a bit after I get my share of the 650+ coupons!

As I've been doing all this work, I've also been thinking as I do my chores around the house what things can we live without - do we really need so much stuff? I've already sold a fair amount of items on CD's we don't want anymore and lots of homeschool books. I keep wondering what else would sell on there, and need to spend some time soon getting more stuff listed. Then there's the rummage sale we NEED to have just to get rid of all the extra clutter we've accumulated. I'm hoping we can really do a thorough clean-out of the house soon so that we won't have to have another rummage sale for a few years!

Here's another thing we've been doing already to save money. For several years now we've already saved lots of money on clothing. My generous sister has supplied my kids clothing as hand-me-downs from her kids, so we haven't needed to buy them much at all. My husband finds t-shirts and other shirts he needs at either Kohl's or Walmart on sale or clearance. He is also able to spend a certain amount of money each year supplied by his boss to purchase polo tops, sweatshirts and jackets with his work logo, so that also helps. And for me, most of the time I wait for Mondays and shop our local Savers. Mondays are $.99 Mondays, and they have one color tag for $.99. Several years ago I had lost a lot of weight on Weight Watchers and needed a new wardrobe because nothing was fitting. I purchased a complete wardrobe - 125 pieces for $125! Since then I've gone back several times when I've needed other pieces of clothing and still go for the $.99 deals. Lately my husband has been giving me Coldwater Creek gift cards for Christmas and Mother's day, so I have stocked up on some brand new clothing as well, but even then I only buy clearanced items and get several items for the amount on the card plus they send out coupons for $25 or $30 off a $100 purchase. For this last Mother's day my husband and kids gave me a $100 gift card, and I had a coupon for $30 off, plus another $10 for completing a survey. Then I went online to their clearance shop and bought $140 worth of clothing and got it for the $100, so $40 worth of free clothing! I was very happy with my good buy and got some great summer clothes.

Soooooo.....I want to know...what are ways that you save money for your family? Do you clip and use coupons? Do you watch for sales, send in rebates, frequent thrift shops? Rummage sale? I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Saving money = good stewardship

If you'll notice on the right hand side of my posts I have several blogs I follow and favorite websites about saving money. These are hard times for all of us, and there are so many women out there trying to save their families money. These are awesome sites and I highly recommend them!

I want to be a good steward of our money as well, and do the best for my family I can, so I'm starting to cut coupons again and watch for deals at local stores. This morning I spent over an hour pouring over some of the blogsites looking for coupons on things we use in our household. I found several, and I also signed up for lots of freebies and free samples of things. I'm pretty excited about my finds! These ladies have worked hard to be so helpful for the rest of us, and I commend them, and thank them heartily.

My next step is to see what's on sale at our local grocery stores, and try matching the coupons I just cut out with the sales. I know it's going to be a hard process to get started, but I am willing to do it to make our money stretch farther, and in the process glorify God because I'm being a good steward of His money.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Art Project?

My kids helped me paint the picnic table and the swingset today.

They both turned out really nice - a chocolate color. So, my question is...can I call this an art project for homeschool? Both of the kids worked very hard so I think they deserve the credit. Our back yard is really starting to look nice. Just need the trees to grow now!

Apple cake

Today was our first day back to homeschooling after a two week break, and the start of our summer session- shorter hours, more fun things to do/learn. We were supposed to be watching a "Good Eats" video from food network for our kitchen basics subject, but for some reason only the audio plays and not the video, so we decided to do some of our own baking instead. We pulled out Alton Brown's "I'm Just Here For More Food" book, and the kids found an apple cake recipe that we could make. They took turns reading the ingredients and instructions (Alton Brown is quite thorough in his explanations of why we use certain ingredients and what they do, and I absolutely love the way he lays it all out so the kids can understand it), and got out everything they needed. I helped with the stuff they couldn't do (like the food processor and a few other things), but they did a great job. They learned why the creaming method is used in some applications, how it works, and how to measure in grams, ounces, and cups and spoons. And they had fun, too!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Break my heart, Lord...

This is a song we've sung several times at the church we're attending now. There's a line in it that has hit me very hard. "Break my heart for what breaks yours." Powerful. Since the first time I heard it I have prayed that countless times. The Lord has seen to it that He is breaking my heart for what breaks His. It's amazing.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Over the last couple of years I have really gotten into gardening. Not weeding, mind you, just gardening. I have been working hard to fill the flower garden in the front yard and it's really coming along, but my newest project has been adding trees to the backyard. Today we went and bought two Norway Spruce. Almost wished we had picked up two more. I also transplanted two maple trees from the front yard that started growing in our flower bed. There is already a new maple in the backyard we transplanted two years ago, but it's taken a while for it to get going since last year a lawn service we were using wasn't very careful and almost killed it off. Here is a full view of the back corner. If you click on it you can see a bigger picture. The one spruce is hard to see in about the middle of the picture, and the far right landscape block has the 3 year old maple in it, plus some daffodil plants. The ones on the left are the new ones...

And here's an upclose of one of the maples. I added geraniums to give some support to the maples so they aren't in there all by themselves. This fall I'll plant some bulbs as well to add more color in the spring and decide next year what else I want to put in to replace the geraniums. I like to use perrenials as much as I can, so I will be looking for something more permanent.
After I showed Jeff and told him my thoughts on getting more Norway Pines he liked the idea. I also have three more maples up front I'm waiting to get a bit bigger and then I can transplant them back there, too. It's kinda funny that after 12 years of being in this house I finally choose to add trees to the backyard!

Friday, May 29, 2009


I am a Twins fan. I love watching them, especially in person. On the TV is okay, I can do that, but I have a real hard time listening on the radio because I'm a visual person. Jeff has to tell me what's happening every once in a while for me to know what's going on! My favorite player for the last few years has been Joe Nathan. I have a few other players that I really like to watch play as well. I hope the Twins do well this year. I was beginning to get concerned for a while when they were having problems getting out of their losing streak. It was also good to see Joe Mauer back in the line up.

We're gearing up to go and watch our first college level baseball game tonight. Our local team is called the Riverbats. They have been in our area since 1997, and we haven't missed a season without going at least three times or more every summer. They are fun to watch as the guys learn how to use real wooden bats. We also enjoy the fun things they do between innings to keep the kids' interest up. Our oldest, who is 9, has started to enjoy baseball. She listens to the Twins as often as she can on her radio at bedtime or will sit and watch a game with us. Our 8 year old is just starting to pay attention to the games and asks the score from time to time, but he isn't as interested yet. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to the fun evening with my family tonight, and hope the Riverbats can do well! It will also be great to see some fireworks - they always put on a great display after the first home opener.


We took our first camping trip of the season over Memorial day weekend. We stayed at Interstate State Park in Minnesota. It is just on the Eastern border between Minnesota and Wisconsin on the St. Croix River at Taylor's Falls. The weather was the 70's during the day, and upper 40's at night. On the evening of our arrival, Jeff's brother-in-law and his wife and 2 kids came to visit and share a campfire with us. It was a fun visit.

On our first full day we went on a tour, checking out potholes made in basalt on the St. Croix riverbed. The particular pothole I have posted is called the "lily pond". They used to plant lilies in it, but have not done it in several years. After our tour, we went to a restaurant in Taylor's Falls called "the Drive In". It is a 50's style drive up that you get your food served to you right at your car. Next to the Drive In was a mini-golf place run by the same owners. We decided to play a
round of golf with the kids when we were done eating. We headed back to the camper after that, and we all had a bit of quiet time, just resting and relaxing. I got to try out my new hammock Jeff gave me for Christmas, and I really enjoyed that.

Our next full day was Sunday, and we
decided to take a boat tour on the St. Croix. We sat on the top deck, front row. It was a great view of the river as we headed downstream 40 minutes and then back again.

On Monday we headed back home after lunch. I was very surprised that there were so many fun things to do at Interstate. When we made the reservations earlier this spring, I thought for sure it was going to be a dull weekend hanging around the campsite. I was glad I was wrong!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A bit of rambling...

I was so blessed by a blogsite that I happened upon today, and it really compelled me to share my own journey. I do have another blog that is specific to my health problems (, but there have been so many times when I just wanted to talk about other stuff and felt that wasn't the place. So, here I am...adding just one more thing to keep me from doing the things I should be doing! I think it will be good, however, and maybe even therapeutic for me to talk about my faith, parenting, and just generalities of everyday living.

I enjoy so many things that I want to talk about! I love camping, gardening, baseball, facebooking, and spending time with my family - especially my husband. The Lord has blessed me with all of these things! How awesome is He!

Today, I would like to share more about my faith and who I am through Christ.

Several times during my life Christ reached out to me, yet I kept pushing Him away. It started when I was in about the third grade. My parents didn't go to church, but my maternal grandmother did. She lived two houses away from us, and when I was about nine, she asked me if I'd like to go to church with her. It was a Lutheran church, and I began to go often with Grandma. By the time I was in sixth grade, I was so enamoured with the church as well as the pastors that I found myself getting involved in everything I could. I just kept wanting more and more. By the time I was in tenth grade I had taught Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, sang in the choir, acolyted, was president of the youth group, and kept trying to find things to fill the void I had in my life. I was in the right place, but I was looking for the wrong thing. I was looking for my self-worth...I was looking for the glory of me. During these years at this Lutheran church I kept hiding the fact that I wasn't a believer. It was easy to do with all of the ways I could 'look' like the perfect Christian in other's eyes. But I wasn't fooling God. And I knew it.

When I turned 16 I got a job. I started looking for ways at my job to fill the void the church couldn't. I stopped going to church and found hours at work that would justify my not going. I was never able to fill the void at work, either. I started hanging out with friends on the weekends to see what trouble I could get into, although I wasn't very good at getting into trouble. I know now that the Lord was watching over me to keep me safe and pure for Him. After graduation I moved out of my parents' house. I worked for about two years, then decided I needed to go to college. I wanted to do something with my life besides my current job since it wasn't filling my needs either. College was okay, but extremely hard. I kept busy still working my regular job, going to school, and doing work study. I also found out that I had a learning disability, which made sense since I struggled through school and college. During this time I met a very special man who soon became my husband. We met in April of 1994, and we were married by the fall of 1995. Jeff found a job
a few months before we got married in a town 3 1/2 hours from our home town, and we jumped at the chance of starting fresh. Our first years of married life were good. We considered finding a home church, and even attended a Lutheran church a few times that one of my former pastors was at. Jeff grew up Catholic, but we didn't consider any Catholic churches. We didn't stay at that particular Lutheran church - we didn't feel comfortable with them having a female associate pastor, but didn't really understand the reasons why. Some of Jeff's college friends we started spending time with became very instrumental at this point in leading us to the cross. They gently and lovingly shared the gospel with us several times. They even bought us a Bible. Yet we still didn't get it.

Jeff's dad at this time was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma. We made several trips to see him in the hospital. I started praying during this time that God would make him well.

In 1998 I became pregnant with our first child. We were so excited. It was such good news as we saw Jeff's dad's health detoriating. Jeff's dad was happy about the news since it would be his first grandchild. At twelve weeks I miscarried. Two days later Jeff's dad passed away. I was so confused and could God do this when I had been praying? It was hard to understand. Jeff not only lost his first child, but his dad as well. Six months later Jeff's cousin, who was about his age, died suddenly. Things just kept getting worse it seemed, and I stopped praying.

In 1999, I became pregnant again. This time the pregnancy went full term, and our daughter was born in early October. We were overjoyed. Two months later, Jeff's paternal grandmother passed away. We still had questions, but didn't understand. Jeff's college friends became such dear friends by then, and they continued to show us love and hope in Christ. We were starting to get it, but it was still a long steep hill we were climbing. We started attending a small Bible church the spring of 2000, but it wasn't until 2001, after our second child was born, that I understood the life-saving gift of Christ. After a bitter argument
about the Bible with a young man who was selling magazines door to door, I got on my knees and I prayed. I prayed hard. That night I prayed again, and it was then that I knew I had been forgiven and that my journey in Christ had just begun.

Nine years later I still feel like a baby Christian, but I am growing. My walk has been sidetracked by health problems several times, but I keep coming back. Our family now attends a Baptist affiliated community church - the teaching is meaty, and I am being filled with spiritual truths - more than I could ever imagine. I have been blessed by His grip on me, and I am so thankful the Lord hung in there with me and kept me on a path for His glory, and not my own.