Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Creative Ideas for Family Summer Savings

Tonight, I thought that I would just share a few ideas for creative ways to save and still have fun over the summer, with your children. In my previous posts, I have shared, how to coupon, how to barter, and looked at ways God provides. Let's face it, if you have children home for the summer, they are always asking: "What can I do, I'm bored!," so.... Here are a few inexpensive ideas for summer fun.

Play in the Sprinklers- after a morning of chores, or sleeping in! :-) Put on the swimsuits, spread on the lotion, and go outside for a quick run through the water hose. I am always amazed at the laughter and excitement. As an extra reward, let them each invite a neighbor.

Instead of going out for ice cream, Keep the freezer pops on hand - Nothing cools you down and refreshes like ice cream. We even pull them out in our cul de sac sometimes, for all of the friends playing. This includes hanging out with friends, building those relationships, and cooling off at the same time. Very inexpensive treat!

Visit the Library- The library has great activities for all ages. You can get each child their own library card, and let them feel very important. The library offers, story times, free movie rentals, computers, and lots of exciting books.

Free Bowling - I will have to look up the website, and add to this post, but there is a website to get 2 free games of bowling a day for the entire summer. I believe it is for Plano. You just have to rent the shoes.

Invite Friends for "Play Dates!"- This is a 2 fold adventure. You can visit with another adult, while the children play.

Go for Walks and/or Bike Rides - This is a great way to get exercise, and get to know your children better at the same time.

Find Restaurants Where Children EAT FREE! -There are several of these in town. I will also try to find some and post. I know that Mon.-Tues at JC Burger, kids eat free, and on Sat-Sun. at Steak N Shake, kids eat free. (there are several out there) Also... you can drink water, to save $1 -$2 extra for each person.

Check out www.couponcravings.com -This is a wonderful website. It's free & it tells you daily of great deals, bargains, and finds.

Go to the Summer $1 Movies, or the Matinee- If there is a "must see" movie, go when it is matinee time. Encourage children to eat before they go, to cut down on costs at the movies.

Stock up on Craft Supplies - When you find craft items on sale during the year, STOCK UP!
These come in handy when children say: "I have nothing to do." If you are like me... you hate spending a lot of money on a craft, that may not turn out amazing, :-) So, I stock up when they are on sale, and then, pull the $1 or less item out, at the time needed.

Have a Picnic- There are so many great parks, lakes, or even your back yard. Go outside, do something different, and ENJOY! Celebration park is one of my favorites. It has outdoor water play too!

The ideas are endless, that you can do over the summer. It would be fun to here from you too. As I think of others, I will continue to add.
Have a great summer, and GOD BLESS!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Way

Every spring, my husband and our son go on a father/son campout. Both of the men in my life thoroughly enjoy this time alone together, as it allows them to test their "manly" skills in the wild. Perhaps inspired by Bear Gryllis, Marty decided last year to teach Jack some basic survival tips during their hike. As he pointed out the moss on the bark of a nearby tree, Marty explained that if Jack were ever lost, he could always find his way, for moss always grows on the north side of a trunk. Not some of the time. Not most of the time. Every time. Without exception, this basic rule of nature marks the way to even the most disoriented hiker.

Likewise, God's truth is constant and unchanging. Truly, the Bible is as relevant today as it was yesterday, and it will continue to command authority as we walk into tomorrow. Of this truth, we can be certain. For God promises that "all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:6 NIV) Therefore, we have a way to the Father, thru the Son, that remains constant throughout circumstance and time. We need not meander through life lost and confused because our Savior, Jesus Christ, is "the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6 NIV)

The world, however, rejects God's ways, choosing instead to accept opinionated falsehoods wrapped in tolerance. The ways of the world change continuously with political tides and populist views, making the way perilous with relativity. To be certain, there is a serious error in taking this approach towards God. For we, as a human race, now exist in the shadow of the Fall and our eyes, are blind to the world's fatal condition. If we foolishly allow the ways of the world to lead us through life, and fail to call on God for guidance, we will become lost and confused.

The LORD guides His children with truth. With certainty, God's moral compass powered by the Holy Spirit says, "This is the way; walk in it." (Isaiah 30:21 NIV) God's people may walk with assurance because "He will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just." (Genesis 14:9 NIV) The way is before you and the path is clear. Walk in it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day

Yesterday was father's day. It's a day when we take some time out to recognize & appreciate the dad's in our lives. I am so fortunate to have a wonderful dad who sets a Godly example for my family. My husband is an amazing father who has more than the average dad on his plate with a son with a disability and 3 daughters. A disability that may prevent our son from someday being a father. The Medical community says that there aren't any offspring from the young men with Duchene Muscular Dystrophy at least not any to our knowledge. My husband's dad passed away in 1996. He too was an incredible man that raised an incredible man. Many of the things he taught my husband are being taught to our children. But this leaves a space in our lives that was once full. Thankfully my dad works hard to be a Godly influence to our kids and knows he is their only Papa.

I think back to my grandfathers and the influence they have had in my parents lives. My parents came from very different backgrounds. My mom from a strong Godly influence that attended church every time the doors were open, my dad from a home that didn't attend church unless there was a very special occasion and then probably not ever with his dad. 

Amazingly enough God placed an uncle in my dad's path that stepped in and gave that Godly influence. My dad went to live with his Mom's brother & wife as a teenager. Uncle Bill & Aunt Nellis took my dad to church, it happened to be the church that my mom attended. My uncle Bill passed away a few years ago. I never had the chance to thank my Uncle Bill for his influence in my dad's life. But I was able to tell his wife, Aunt Nellis, how important their influence was before she passed away. If they had not allowed my Dad live with them for a while and teach him their values - one of which was going to church - my dad might have turned out to be a very different person. Today my dad is making a constant impact in lives of men around him of all ages. Dad is a Minister to Senior Adults and Missions at a church in Denison. He is especially impacting the lives of his 3 grandsons.

Psalms 68:5 says, "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows..."

My prayer for all of you today is that you will be blessed by the influence of a Godly father figure. Whether that person is your biological or adopted father or an extended family member or or maybe even your husband as he grows into the man God has planned for him to be or a Godly man in your life.

I'm so glad that God isn't done working on me or my husband or even my dad yet. I truly believe that each day brings with it an opportunity to learn and grow. As long as we put our focus on God first, Family second the rest will fall into place.

Remember (if you haven't already) to take some time to show your love & appreciation for the men in you life. Support them and lift them up in prayer for the difficult but rewarding role God has called them to.

May God bless you this week and bless others thru you.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

God's Word--Is it in you?

Scripture memory has never been one of my favorite things. I have convinced myself that I am not very good at it, so I spent years of my life not even trying. Sure, there have been seasons where I've learned verses, but it's certainly not a strength of mine. If you want to know where a particular verse is found, I am not usually the one to ask.

However, as much as I've convinced myself, "That's just not my thing," I cannot seem to forget the time my husband was teaching our Sunday school class and asked people how many songs they had memorized. He reasoned, "If we can learn 10's (or 100's) of songs, then why do we tell ourselves we don't have good memories and we can't learn Scripture?" I have to say, as much as I don't like to admit it, he is right. God has given each of us these amazing brains that can hold a lot of information--more than we'll ever put in there. So, if we can sing songs we learned when we were five, shouldn't we be able to quote verses as well?

In light of this, I am trying something new with my children (and therefore myself) this summer. Several weeks ago, a friend told me that she was going to have her children have a letter of the week over the summer. With the letter, she told me she was going to have her oldest child also have a memory verse for that letter. As soon as she told me about it, it just resonated within me. What a great idea! I decided to form my own version of her plan.

My children are also having a letter of the week this summer. My 3 year old works on writing the letter while my 6 year old writes a story about something that has to do with that letter. Along with that, they gather items into a basket that begin with that letter. But, the most important thing we do is have a Scripture verse each week that begins with the letter of the week, and we work on memorizing the verse.

Last week, we studied the letter J and our verse was, "Jesus replied, 'What is impossible with men is possible with God.'" Luke 18:27. My 6 year old has learned the verse and my 3 year old has learned part of it as well. (He hasn't been able to get it completely right but is really working at it.) Besides being proud of my children, I, too, have learned a verse that I had never memorized before. If we learn a verse each week, then we will have learned 10 verses at the end of the summer (we're taking one week off while they're at their grandparents).

I know that the further we get into it, the harder it may become, but as our verse last week reminds me, it's possible with God. My hope is that not only will I instill a love for God's Word in my children's heart but that we will all truly realize that Scripture memory is both possible and attainable....And that it makes a difference in our lives, for both now and the future.

Monday, June 14, 2010

And Though My Heart is Torn...

I have sat down to write this blog entry so many times over the past few days. I knew exactly what I wanted (needed) to write about. My problem is that the weekend is too raw and too fresh and the words just won't come (yet). I think I am still a little in shock, really.

I will just tell you that I was in Arkansas camping this past weekend. I'm sure you have heard the news about the deadly flash flooding, and the tragic loss of lives. The campground that was wiped out was kind of a "sister" campground to the one where we go.. about six miles up the road. The trip had been planned for almost a year, but had we known just how bad the situation was up in AR, we probably would not have left early Friday morning to drive up.

My cousin and her family were already there. They went up a day ahead of us, and weathered the storms in the wee hours of last Friday morning... too close for comfort to a creek suddenly turned raging river out of its banks, and roaring during the night like a freight train.

The images from the weekend are burned into my mind and I will never forget them. My family is alive and well, thank the Lord. We grew up camping at Shady Lake, and quite frequently made day trips over to Albert Pike, the campground that was destroyed by the floods. It is like a second home to our family.

As I said, it is too overwhelming to write about at the moment. I would ask that you just please join me in prayer for all the families of the victims, and also for the rescue workers doing such a tough, but necessary job.

"I guess what God is showing me is... that sometimes
He calms the storms in our lives.
And sometimes He just rides them with us.
But either way, blessed be the name of the Lord."

-- Mark Hall, lead singer, Casting Crowns

Dedicated to the victims and their loved ones..

"Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way

and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea."

Psalm 46:2

Monday, June 7, 2010

Lord, I'm Amazed

Yesterday at church we sang a song, the lyrics of which distracted me from the lovely melody. "Lord, I'm amazed by you," the words go, repeating three times. One might be silently agreeing with the concept that, yes, the Lord is amazing. After all, there's so much about him that is awesome, powerful, inspiring, worthy of worship. But it was the final line of the refrain that took my mind in another direction.

"Lord, I'm amazed by you...how you love me."

What's amazing here is how he loves me. The fact that he loves me. That his love for me drove him to the cross on my behalf. That his love never wavers even when I turn my back on him, disobey and snub his direction. That I can do nothing to earn--and therefore lose--his love. I am amazed!

And all that got me thinking about my children.

They could basically sing the same thing about me, except that I don't love perfectly. But I do love them in ways that should amaze their newborn, preschool, and elementary aged little minds. I feed them, clothe them, hug and kiss them, carry them, comfort them, instruct them, provide everything their little beings need at this time in their lives. They are helpless without me (and Daddy). And when they disobey and yell and whine and hit and bite and make terrible choices...I still love them. It just doesn't matter what they do--the love remains.

The song included a beautiful word picture: "You dance over me, though I never hear the sound..." And it reminded me of the times I held my babies in my arms, usually at bedtime, and danced in the dark with them for just a few moments before putting them down to sleep. Those were sweet, treasured moments.

And so it is with our heavenly Father. "The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." (Zeph. 3:17)

Becoming a parent has done more for my perspective on the love of God than any theology course or sermon ever did. Even discipline means something different now. It's like I get it. Father/Mother love isn't dependent on behavior. My kids might disappoint me but I'll never not love them.

God tells us, and shows us, the same thing. Lord, I'm amazed!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Summer = Busy = Don't Forget Your Bible Study

I can not believe it is already June, summer is finally here!  With summer comes lots of activities, different schedules, staying up later and the list could go on and on and on.  One thing that changes in the summer for me is Bible Study.  I am in a Bible study group that meets September through May and then we take the summers off because of the reasons I mentioned above.  Everyone is just so busy in the summer time.

You know we may take "time off" from our Bible studies but we do not need to take "time off" from studying our Bible.  Somedays it is so easy to get consumed in everything going on during day and realize in the evening that you have not had your time with God that day. 

Today, I want to encourage you to find time to study God's word this summer and just because your Bible Study group may be taking a break for the summer it does not mean to take time off from studying the Bible yourself. I think it is probably much easier during the year when you have a study that you are working thorough with a group of ladies to take time and get your homework done and study the lessons each week.

Over at the Living Proof Ministries Blog (Beth Moore's Blog) they have a "Siesta Summer Bible Study".  This Bible study is on the book of Ruth.  The book they are using for this study is called Ruth: Loss, Love & Legacy by Kelly Minter.  You can also find the book here.

I plan on seeing if a couple of my friends would be interested in joining me and doing this Bible Study together over the summer!  This is also a study you could do by yourself if you wanted to.  According to the blogpost there will be a 15 minute video by Beth posted on the blog and discussion questions to go along with the book.  No matter what study you choose to do I hope that each of you will find time to spend with Jesus each day this summer!

I would love to hear what other studies some of you have thought about doing this summer!  Why don't you share with everyone what studies you like.  It could be a study/studies you have done or that you are planning on doing - you never know it could be just the study someone is looking for!!

Hope you all have a great weekend!