Friday, June 26, 2015

Our church hopping history

When I moved to Connecticut I was not yet a Christian.  I believed in a Creator so when my husband wanted to go to church, I agreed because I wanted to meet new people.  I attended a bible study for young adults and met lots of amazing folks!  There was something so normal and genuine about them.  They were not phony or pushy; they just loved Jesus and talked about a personal relationship with God.  I asked TONS of questions and came to my own faith in Jesus in August of 2000.  My 15 year anniversary is coming up!!!  Since then we’ve done a bit of church hopping and it’s neat to see how God has used those churches and the wonderful people there to help me grow.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 SWITCH church #1 to church #2 in Spring 2002
My first official church was big and we ended up leaving after 2 years to go to a smaller more intimate church with our best friends.  We loved the small church vibe and the people became like family to us, which was important since my whole family is in Canada and half of Jay's is too.  We grew so much while there in our knowledge of God, the bible and how we should care for one another.  The ladies at that church showed me what serving our family looked like and were wonderful examples of how to love like Christ.  They were there when I had my first two children and the support they gave me was like no other!

6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 SWITCH back to church #1 in the beginning of 2008
After having two kids, I missed the programs that church #1 offered.  We were the only young family at church #2 and as anyone with young kids knows, it can be an isolating time raising babies at home alone all day long!  I needed more connection with people my age in the same place of life as me.  So after much praying and talking we returned to church #1.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 SWITCH to church #3 in Summer 2010
I quickly got connected in things like a weekly women’s bible study, a monthly moms group, the church nursery, Sunday School, a cardmaking group and even started a new ministry for military moms.  Vienna and Lance attended the preschool and we stayed very busy!  Then I got pregnant with Colin.  We wanted a bigger home and we found one 30 minutes away from church.  We commuted but it became too much with three kids ages five and under!  We decided to try a church in our neck of the woods.  We picked one that Jay’s coworker attended and loved, plus it was 6 minutes from our house!   We visited and enjoyed it, becoming good friends with the pastor and his wife. 

6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 SWITCH to church #1 in Summer 2011
While attending this new church, I remained very involved at church #1 in all the things I mentioned above.  I was busy and didn't make time to connect with the people, nor was it easy.  Some lived 30 minutes away and weren't in our area.  The women who had kids my kids' ages homeschooled {which I didn't start til 2012}, and I wasn't able to get together with them much.  So after having a foot in each church for a year, we decided to return to church #1 yet again!  Sadly Jay’s schedule didn’t allow him to plug in the way he had been hoping and we figured if the programs were worth commuting for, then so was Sunday morning.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 SWITCH back to church #3 in January 2015 - what?!
From the title here, you see where this is going.  We went back to church #1 again but slowly over four years, God took all the things I was involved in off my plate... While we were attending church #3, the Military Moms Ministry fizzled to an end after three years because there was no one to help me lead it – darn military moves!  I wasn’t able to continue with the cardmaking group because Jay’s schedule was unpredictable and I couldn’t give the ladies a 100% commitment, plus it was a 30 minutes drive in the evening {dark through the winter} and I was often too tired by the end of the day!  Then I started to homeschool and the women’s bible study didn’t have childcare for older kids so I stopped attending that.  Colin attended the preschool when he was three but after I had a hard year homeschooling when I was gone two mornings a week, I knew that the 3-day program was out of the question.  In the summer of 2014, I found myself uninvolved in ANYTHING at the church aside from the monthly commitment in the nursery.  Jay’s schedule continued to be busy and we didn’t prioritize getting to church every Sunday.  There was no accountability because the church is so large and has three services.  Without being plugged into a smaller group, we were lost.  It was clear that doors were closing and our hearts were being prepared for something else.

I started to feel a strong urge to connect with more local people.  By Christmas, Jay and I decided to visit church #3 again.  My mother-in-law was here visiting so she watched the kids and off we went.  As soon as we walked through the doors we saw many familiar faces and heard many warm greetings.  My friend was surprised to see us and that made me smile.  I sat down in the pew and to my left was a homeschooling family I came to know through a co-op.  To Jay’s right sat his ex-coworker who was highly respected – and Jay had no idea he went to that church!  Then a 98 year old man got up to recite poetry and play his harmonica.  I looked at Jay who was beaming.  He loves old people and the harmonica!  I knew Jay was happy, and I knew this was where God wanted us.

Bringing the kids
We brought the kids the following week and the boys were thrilled because they knew some of the kids.   I was most worried about Vienna because there are TONS of younger boys but not as many girls her age.  Thankfully, last month my little introvert told me that she is happy to be at this church because it’s smaller.  This made me so happy because I prayed for her 10 year old heart to not ache for her friends!  {It also really helped that they attended VBS for the past three summers and were all comfortable with the building and some of the people!}

Today
Fast forward 6 months and things have been going so well!!  We were put into a small group that meets once a month for dinner and were able to reconnect with people.  We've attended book clubs, birthday parties and a recent event with missionaries that included a hymn sign and potluck.   We have VBS coming up where I'm teaching for the first time!  And there are many other things coming up this Fall that I'm excited about.  It's wonderful to have so many events to attend when you don’t have family around!!  Oh and the teaching!  haha!  It's a wonderful bible teaching church!!!  That's KEY too!

What I've learned
God's timing in perfect.  He has us in a place for a certain season or for a reason and although we may not always be able to make sense of it, there is work being done.  In hindsight, I can see how my heart has been prepared along the way and how clearly God has directed our footsteps.  I am just so thankful that no matter what church we're at, we are worshipping God together and learning what His word says from intelligent and wise people!  I am just so thankful to Him for his faithfulness and love and using His people to reach my heart.  I have been so encouraged lately!

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Proverbs 1 -5 with GMG

We just finished week 1 in Proverbs with Good Morning Girls!  It has been a great study so far!  I have read this book before but like with everything, when you read it again, new things pop up!

I love to highlight, color and doodle in my bible.  This time around, I decided to follow Courtney's color chart that she blogged about over on the Good Morning Girls website.  Normally I just grab any random color but this helps organize things a little better.  I'm not coloring every line, just those verses that jump out at me.
Visit GoodMorningGirls.org for more free resources!

The week we read Proverbs 1 through 5.  I have learned how important it is to seek wisdom.  The bible has TONS of info in it but if you read it, wisdom isn't spoon fed to you; you gotta slow down and really seek it...
"Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.  Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures." Proverbs 2:3-4
And I learned the necessity of memorizing scripture...
"Store my commands in your heart.  If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying." Proverbs 3:1b-3 
It's not the length of my life that matters but the satisfying part that struck me.  After all, only God knows the number of our days!  {Proverbs aren't promises, but principles explained Courtney!}

And as I grow and learn and as I raise my kids, this pretty much summarizes what I want for my kids...
"Get wisdom; develop good judgment." Proverbs 4:5 
That is just a snippet of what I've learned this week.  It's been so good to get into the swing of things and continue on with our bible read through!


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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Popcorn

One of my favorite snacks is popcorn!  Back in Canada, I used to go a store called Kernels and I'd get funky flavors like white cheddar and ranch.  Did you know that you can find seasoning to flavor your popcorn at just about any grocery store?  It's a great way to change up an inexpensive snack!


They are typically found in the aisle of the grocery store with the popcorn.  I am sure they are easily overlooked because of the size!  I recently was in Canada and bought ketchup flavored!  Mmmmm... The bottles on the left are from Canada and the two on the right, I bought at Walmart in the US.

MAKING POPCORN 
To make inexpensive homemade popcorn using plain kernels, you can throw 1/4 cup in a brown lunch bag.  Fold the ends and put in your microwave.  Cook using the popcorn setting and listen to when the popping slows down.  This is a great way to serve kids!  Throw some melted butter and seasoning of their choice!

-or-
Use any pot with a lid.  Add canola oil to cover bottom of pot.  Add kernels to cover the whole bottom of the pot in one layer!  This measurement will pretty much fill the pot perfectly!  No need to add butter this way either because the seasoning will stick to the oil!

-or-
buy microwave popcorn!  ha!

Happy munching!
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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Good Morning Girls - Summer 2015

I am part of an amazing community of women who connect online through a ministry called Good Morning Girls, lead by Courtney Joseph.  I've been with them since January 2012 and I've grown so much in my knowledge of God and His word since being a part of it!  We're about to start a new session for the summer and I wanted to tell you about it.
Courtney provides an easy reading plan.  We are working our way through the bible just one chapter a day, Monday through Friday.  You do your quiet time and then connect with ladies whether by email or in a Facebook group. {Please visit Courtney's blog {here} for a great recap of how it all works!}

It's great having a place to talk about what I've learned or to post questions.  We also share concerns and pray for one another.  I love that I am doing a bible study in the comfort of my home.

Starting on June 15, we will be reading Proverbs, followed by Song of Solomon.  Here's the schedule:


What I like best about GMG is the simplicity and it's free.  It's about me and my time with God and learning what His word says alone first.  GMG has amazing resources like a weekly summary by Courtney, a community of bloggers, study aids, support, etc that only enhance what I've already read.  I get out of this what I put in and it's about ME growing in my own personal relationship with God.  

I'd encourage you to subscribe to Courtney's blog and watch for the forums that'll be opening soon if you're looking for a group to plug into.  {If you know me in real life, let me know if you are interested and I can add you to my group.  Just message me.}  It's definitely something to look into if you've been looking for a bible study!

Happy June everyone!

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Monday, May 25, 2015

Reshaping It All, my physical endeavor

MY JEANS DON'T FIT!
I have shared my desires to get fit and stay active here on my blog before.  Another new year started and although I was a little more active, I still wasn't doing regular exercise and my pants told me so!  I was unable to fit into many of my pants from last winter.  Sniff, sniff.  If you saw me in the past few months, I was wearing one of the two pair of jeans I own that fit.  So sad - and I refused to buy more when I had a closet full just 8lbs away from fitting!

SUMMER IS A COMIN'
Last month I thought ahead to summer, I really didn't want to wear only part of my wardrobe for another season! Needing motivation, I ripped out a little newspaper ad about my town's upcoming 5K in June.  I tucked in on my wall organizer as a visual reminder of what I'd like to achieve again.  I wasn't sure I would do that exact 5K but I knew I needed a goal again. This was the first time since 2012 when I ran three 5Ks {my first and only ones}, that I wanted to run again.  It's just an easy way to work out!

RESHAPING IT ALL BY CANDACE CAMERON BURE
But how to get there?  Clearly my sporadic hops on the treadmill were NOT going to be enough.  Ugh... I was so unmotivated and felt an inner battle.  I knew I needed some help emotionally so I picked up a book from my reading list called "Reshaping It All" by Candace Cameron Bure.  I was hoping she might say something that'd help me and did she ever!
{On her website}
I read the book and was very encouraged!  Not only with working out but with food too.  She talked a lot about using food as fuel rather than simply pleasure {although she loves to eat!}.  She discussed portion control and making better choices.
Before eating, HALT.  Ask yourself if you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. p.60
Yikes!  I know I eat not just the wrong foods, but for the wrong reasons.  That was a great reality check.   She also reminded me that I have ultimate control over the choices I make and I need to be smarter.
"Instead of taming our uncontrolled appetite to behave like it should, we continue to nurture and spoil it overtime." p.13
 And she reminded me that when it comes to working out, it's also a choice.  Simple as that.
"Remember that your reaction to each situation - whether weak or strong - is the only thing that can hurt you, so choose it well." p.163
And something that was REALLY convicting... A series of questions from p.134 that asked how conscious I'm living.  She wrote that conscious living involves choice, determination and accountability.  I have been so wrong in so many areas.  Just look at the self-reflection questions:
  • Do you eat mindlessly, or do you consider the food you consume?
  • Do you channel surf, or do you turn the TV on to watch a program, and then turn it off when it's over?
  • Do you walk the aisles of the grocery store buying whatever looks good, or do you make a list and follow it?
  •  Do you listen as much as you talk?
  • When you read, does your mind wander off?
  • Do you surf the Internet, and later realize you just wasted a whole lot of time? 
  • Do you have a closet full of clothing that you bought on a whim?
  • Look around the room.  Do you see things that you constantly step over instead of putting them in their place?
"If you find that you're zoning out of life a little too often, this may be a good time to start monitoring yourself and start living again." 
See yourself in those questions, mindlessly going through life?  I do.

And my favorite scripture from the book, which I constantly have referred back to since I read it:
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."  Hebrews 12:11
SWEET ACCOUNTABILITY
Towards the end of April, while I was reading this book, a local friend of mine blogged about her desire to get in shape and run her first 5K, something she's wanted to do for 6 years.  We are new friends and she had no idea of my past or struggles.  I filled her in and told her about the ad I clipped and together we agreed to run together!  She was just the accountability I needed to get through this new period of developing good and lasting habits!

WHAT I DO
Ultimately my goal is to do cardio every day, whether it's run, Zumba, hike with the family, etc.  Sometimes things come up like outings with the kids {ahem... beach days soon!} so those become my rest days.  I'm not training hard, just steady so don't need scheduled rest days.  I am living more consciously and with more intention.  So as simple as this sounds, I just look at my day and plan where I can fit in my workout.  Afterwards, I add it to my work out calendar because I am a visual person and like to see my activity and progress!
"Priorities have a way of squeezing out the less pleasant activities, unless we make a point to prioritize them." p.43 of Reshaping It All

A month ago I started strength training too, a goal I've had for awhile.  A couple years ago I heard about HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training at a MOMS group {shout out to Christina P!}.  I'm using an app called "Seven". It was free and has verbal prompts, which I love.  Here's a screen shot of the workout!  I do 30 seconds of each exercise with a 10 second rest between.  It takes 7 minutes hence the same... it's not a crazy movie with Brad Pitt - ha!  I'm not doing each thing at an intense level yet but am working my way to it!  

RESULTS
I've been working out for about a month and have a little breathing room in my pants already!  The scale hasn't moved much but I definitely feel a difference.  That has been an encouragement to me!  I also love not feeling guilty about not working out anymore!

I have a bunch of other things written down that I found encouraging from the book, Reshaping It All.  I feel that the inner battle raging in me is dulling.  I feel armed with more knowledge and know I can succeed!

I shall leave you with these:
"Things that are important deserve nothing less than vigorous pursuit." p.85
"I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified." 1 Cor 9:27 NASB
Living more consciously,
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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

My 1st thredUP experience

I recently made my first purchase with thredUP.  Have you heard of it before?  

Oh it’s ingenious!  It’s an online consignment shop and it’s so easy to use!!!!  You can search by clothing/accessory type, name brand, color, price and size!  The features are so obvious and simple to navigate!
I shopped for summer tops for myself {since I don't really need to try certain styles on}.  I selected my size and I chose the “under $10” price range!  Oh the search results!  It was amazing!  They show photos of the front and back plus include a little description.  I ordered a couple things with “slight wear” but I was still very happy with the quality!

You get free shipping if you spend $70 so I got a few tops for myself, two skirts for my daughter and pants for my son.  {Yes, they have kids stuff too!!!}  

As a first time customer I got 20% off so that brought my total down.  $54 got me allllll this!!!  

{Nice collage of my order from thredUP}
I was so happy that they applied the free shipping on $70 BEFORE the 20% discount.  Amazing!  


The box arrived and I was again impressed. Look how nice it is!

My items were wrapped in pretty tissue paper.  

And even cute little tags so the clothes felt new.

They also have shoes, jewelry and bags.  If you like name brands, you can shop by those filters!  And you can even request a bag and send them your unwanted clothes to consign!  You'll have to visit their website to learn more about that because I know nothing, but it's a neat option!!

If you decide you want to try it out, click HERE so we can both get $10 towards our next purchase!  If you do it, let me know what you got!  They'll send you an email like the photo above with all the clothes laid out... yet another fun detail!
Happy shopping!

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{PS. I have no connection to thredUP.  I just loved my first experience with them so much!!!}

Friday, May 1, 2015

Alphabet themed birthday

My youngest son turned 5 on April 30th and this year was the first time I did a party for him at home!  For the past couple years, I have simply organized play dates at either a park or Chuck E Cheese {via Facebook announcement} where I brought a cake and drinks for his friends.  It was just a simple way to make him feel special on his birthday!

This year his birthday fell on the same day as my weekly book club, and it worked out great because a whole bunch of kids come to that with their moms!  The ladies agreed to a potluck lunch to celebrate our last day in our current book.  We ate and chatted before some ladies left and it turned into party mode for the rest of us!

Colin and I talked about themes and he picked the alphabet!  Oh what a fun one!  I was able to use things I already had on hand to decorate and spent less than $5 on a couple things I needed like more balloons and streamers.  {Food and favors was where I spent money but that can fluctuate depending on your budget!}

DECORATIONS
Here are my decorations in the living room.
I wrote letters on post-it notes and the kids scattered them around like confetti.  This was also for a game.  {More on those in a sec!}

Various letter puzzles on the tables:

The dining room:

Using almost mostly what we owned, I just randomly put alphabet themed things all around my house.  ie. letters on the dryer in my downstairs bathroom, books, writing on dry erase boards and printed signs!


FOOD
My friend Chrissy has a party business and made the cupcakes and marshmallow treats using Alphabets cereal. She made the wrappers to match my theme and they were soooo tasty!  Check out her Facebook page!!  This was her contribution to our potluck so I scored BIG time on that and didn't spend a dime!!  So grateful for her talent and generosity!

GAMES
We played three games:

Spell the Alphabet
We split the kids into two teams.  Each team had to spell the alphabet using the post-it notes that were scattered on the wall like confetti.  Team work baby!

Pin Your Initial on the Alphabet
No donkey; no tail.  Just sticker letters on a board and a blindfold!

Musical Alphabet
Much like musical chairs but instead with painters tape on the living room floor!  My sweet daughter peeled a letter up after each round!

At the end, Colin got some great gifts from very generous people!  For party favors, I decided to do one bag per family.  Each child got their own bubbles, M&Ms, fruit snacks and stickers, but I only gave to each family one of the following: foam letters, magnetic letters and a notebook.  {I got everything from Job Lot, Walmart and The Dollar Tree for $1 or less.}

So that's how I did Colin's fifth birthday!  Once you pick a theme, it's easy to find things around the house!!!  We had a great day celebrating our son!  And with that, the Newman Kids birthday season {all in March/April with Easter!!} is OVER!  *wipes brow*!!

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