Y’all, I found my new favorite Christmas tradition! It’s this awesome little book and nativity set called The Donkey in the Living Room and it rocks my socks. It’s a short countdown. 10 days long. So you still have time to buy it and you don’t have to get all wacky creative all month long. But you can still do some fun stuff with it if you want to. It’s a bit of a scavenger hunt. 10 days before Christmas you put out the background, which is really the box.
The kids run around the house searching for the hidden character. I’ll probably put some candy or hot chocolate or something like that with mine. Then the family comes together to hear about that character from their perspective. The nativity is completed on Christmas with the Baby!
It’s adorable. It’s as indestructible as possible (of course, we all know a toddler can destroy indestructible items). I got mine at Mardel, but you can order it on Amazon. I just love mine. Nobody pays me to say this or anything since you are my only reader, so now you know you can totally trust my endorsements. This is a win.
Have you guys met Chili? He’s my dog. We got him a few months ago from the animal shelter. When we said that he was The One, the lady shook her head, sighed, and said, “He’s cute, but he’s really destructive. He was adopted once from here, but the couple brought him back because he tears everything up.” We said we’d take our chances and took him home. Well, she was right. He’s a wreck! From Day 1 he would chew everything. Shoes, pillows, crayons. Today he ate the head and arms off a Barbie. Disturbing sight, really. She still kept singing “Perfect Day!”.
Anyway, after about 24 hours I told my husband that there was absolutely no way I could handle a dog like that and to please take that thing back. He requested a few days to see if he could get a grip on the situation. Now is the part where I have to tell you a little about my husband, Brandon.
He’s a bit obsessive when it comes to learning. He’ll pick a topic and it’s all consuming for a few weeks/months. He can speak Amharic. He can grow a mean garden. He can roll cigars like a Dominican. He can really master a topic, and he decided to master dog obedience. He’s up in the middle of the night watching The Dog Whisperer as a jumping off point. Have you seen it? Do you know the show? Cesar is a hero in our house now, right up there with Martin Luther and Justin Timberlake. Anyway, we started watching a lot of Dog Whisperer and here’s the main gist of it. You have to be a dominant pack leader in the eye of your dog to get them to be chill. If you don’t lead well, they become anxious, stressed, or depressed. They need you to communicate your authority. And get this: they must be calm and submissive before ever attempting to do anything. For example, what happens if your dog sees other dogs and gets all worked up? They pull on the leash trying to go their own way, do their own thing. But if you are the “pack leader” and you demonstrate that you don’t care about all that and this is the way we are going, your dog will obey. Cesar can get a dog he’s never met to do what he wants just with his leadership. Stay with me for one more dog example. I’m totally getting to the point soon, but you gotta see it play out. Say the doorbell rings. Many dogs will yap, jump, and freak out in general for a while when company arrives. What if, the doorbell rings and your dog is freaking out and you say “roll over”? Will she stop what she’s doing and roll over? Probably not at all. You can’t get them to obey when they’re in a tizzy like that. You have to get them calm and submissive first. And now we get to the point.
I was thinking about this the other day. I’m reading Whispers of Hope, Beth Moore’s new devotional. LOVE it, by the way, but I’ll review it another day. I missed a day. I woke up, literally, to someone coming in and saying “Mom, I peed the bed!” and just like that, at 5:20, I’m on. No quiet time, no thoughtful prayer time. Just popcorn “help me’s” to God all day. The Holy Spirit was certainly not manifesting in me that day, and by 10 I realized it was because I didn’t start out calm and submissive. I started out in a tizzy. Like my eyes opened when the doorbell rang. I kind of hate waking up that early, but there is SUCH a difference in my day. So much that it’s become just a necessary thing. Like my wacked out dog, I can’t take direction when I’m all worked up. It’s just not going to work then. I need to listen when I’m calm and submissive, and for me, that’s first thing in the morning. What about you? Do you notice a difference in your days when you do a devotional and when you don’t?
so last week we found ourselves with negative dollars in the bank. we’ve come very close again and again lately, but this is the first time in the red, and something had to change. i’ve been planning and praying and thinking about how to avoid some of these $$$ problems in the future and here’s what i’ve come up with.
it all starts on payday. my usual is to be broke, and then super broke, and then go crazy on payday. i’ll usually eat out and light up the internet with some online shopping. but that’s all wrong, y’all! i already know it when i do it, but this time we implemented some strategy. i will do those things, if and only if, i make it through the first week just fine. we’ll entertain all that on week 2. more on that later. today i spend on just a few things.
1. the tithe. we aren’t in a church here yet, but God still has to get his part. i’ll just pray about it before payday and ask that he reveals a cause to me. something that i know is in his plan. sometimes it’s a church or a fundraiser or an adoption. this week it was our local christian radio station. i think God’s cool with it. if i don’t do this immediately on day 1, it gets spent. for a month now we have spent the tithe. it feels icky.
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Proverbs 11:24
Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. Malachi 3:10
Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. Proverbs 3:9
2. speaking of wine… there is one other thing i say it’s cool to spend on today. a $10 treat. i got a bottle of cheap wine and some nail polish. it satisfies the whole ‘i can’t buy anything or do anything fun’ thing, without blowing all your spending money in one day. don’t go out to eat! that’s $60 you’ll wish you had back next week. hold on to it for a bit and see if you still want to.
tomorrow’s broke topic: grandma wisdom.
and i won’t forget today’s Thankfuls.
32. Children’s HopeChest and World Vision. We have some sponsored kiddos through those organizations and they have been amazing. i am so thankful for trustworthy organizations like these. i was thinking of it today when we were talking about tithing. alot of times we’ll put our tithe towards our community in ethiopia. we still need a couple more sponsors. seriously! this little girl has no sponsor. what’s up with that?! my hubs said she’s the stinkin’ smiliest cutest thing ever. he said she’s bouncy.
33. a dryer!!! ok, line drying is charming and everything, but dryers are freakin’ awesome. do you know how many loads of laundry we’ve done in the last 24 hours?!
that’s all, folks. chime in with all your tips on graciously being broke. i’d love to hear them!
did you know i’m totally a pessimist? i want to look on the bright side, i really really do, but i just naturally see the half empty glass of wine…
i totally get that it’s a flaw and something that i should work on for myself and for everyone who has to talk to me (sorry y’all). i read one thousand gifts and it totally resonates with me, but i’m not nearly that wise or poetic. i have, however, come up with a simple formula for being grateful (which is really the secret of happiness, actually). allow me to share. it’s two words. at least.
my toddler woke me up at 5 am (for the second day in a row). At least he went back to bed and I got my quiet time in. At least he wakes up so cute. At least there was good light in my room so I could get some waking up pictures.
My house is a wreck and my husband is about to be home. At least I can clean with the windows open.
My 8-year-old threw a raging fit, tossing out his first casual suicide threat and “I hate you”. At least I am here to help guide him through the beginning of this next hard bit of parenting.
Anyway, if you’re having a hard day, remember, at least you have at least.
a word of encouragement today. i got one, straight from my heavenly father, and i thought i’d pass it on just in case you needed to hear it too. sometimes it works like that. so we moved to the country and all and i do love it, but my hubs still works 5 hours away and travels literally half the time. so it’s busy and stressful and lonely the other half. about every three days i freak out and think “what have i done?! did i misinterpret the plan? why isn’t this all lining up perfectly if it’s God’s will?” and i want to run back for the familiar. i cry alot. like alot alot.
but today i just had a tiny thought. it wasn’t from me cause i’m not this wise! i was making toast for jude. he was having a fit in his high chair, impatient, wanting food immediately. i was slightly frustrated and i was thinking “chill out! i wish he could just see that the toast is just toasting. he doesn’t want plain bread. it’ll be ready in half a minute!” and then God just said “uh huh”. and i thought “oh”.
but do you get it? how many times during our adoption did i think “why isn’t this going the way i thought? why the delay? why the speedbumps? why the hard parts?”. and the same with every growth, right? things don’t usually go perfectly straight from the start. not even when it was His idea. it took David over 15 years from the time he was anointed until he finally became king of israel. so this is my hard part and i’ll keep hope that something good is happening here and in me. you too? you got anything like that going on?
Wait, but first an open letter to you… The last time I blogged I told you I wasn’t blogging anymore! By now you might have figured out that I’m a little flaky. I truly meant that blogging was not so good for me at the time and that I shouldn’t do it. But now I truly mean that I enjoy blogging and maybe I shouldn’t take it so seriously. So how about this?… I’ll just blog sometimes when I feel like it. It might just be for me or maybe you’ll find a gem somewhere in there. If I promise you that I’m going to do a series or blog everyday for 30 days or something like that, just straight up don’t believe me. I’m not fantastic at constraints like that. 🙂
Anyway, back to life. I am, oh yes, once again, struggling with the weigh roller coaster. It’s not that I am huge or anything, it’s actually more of how I feel and how I feel about myself. I just hate the struggle and the thought that I may have this battle raging forever. I feel so helpless sometimes like I’ll never defeat it. I spent some time praying about it this morning and God put this in my heart. No diet plan or anything, just truth, that I might not be defeated. That I can do battle and win if I just keep the faith and trust God to calm me.
Dear Satan (and your sorry minions),
As you well know, I’ve been struggling with poor eating choices for a long time. I really got my feelings hurt yesterday and I almost believed you when you said that I would never beat this. For this, I hope you feel a little guilty. Sorry… I do. Anyway, you should know that I took this up with Abba this morning and now I’m kind of pissed. He said he’s got thousands and thousands of chariots ready to do battle on my behalf (Psalm 68:17) if you try and mess with me like that again. And over some ice cream? Really?! That’s lowdown.
Now, I am, in fact, going to be eating a bit healthier. You can do whatever you need to with that. But my sovereign Lord will help me (Isaiah 50:9), so I’m not too terribly concerned. You just might need to consider a different angle. If God is for me, who can be against me?
i have found, as my life has gotten a little busier with three kids, that it is super important for me to get some quiet time in before the day gets going. i know ‘quiet time’ alone with God doesn’t have to be in the morning, but for me it really helps. it sets me right before we get started. and sometimes it sucks to drag my carcass up out of bed before everyone else, but you know what sucks worse?… having someone else wake you up. so you might as well do it on your own terms and set a good tone for the day, you know? when i’m at the country house i like to wake up, make my coffee, and then head out to the porch. there, i don’t do any reading, just meeting. no studies or anything, just getting my posture right. when i’m at the city house i like to do my bible study first thing. and it’s houston, so i’m totally not going outside. here’s a few tips to set yourself up for a good morning start:
- clean up a little nook. now, i’m a total slob. that’s just a confession. and there are many nights that i go to bed without even doing my dishes. there, now you know. but i just clear the table, put out my book and Bible, and my coaster and coffee cup, and there, i’ve created a comfortable little spot for myself.
- set up the coffee the night before
- ask God to help you wake up refreshed and quickly. i’ve never set my alarm clock to wake before the kids, He just wakes me up when it’s time.
anyway, i encourage you to try a little something special for tomorrow. find a routine that works for you and helps you greet the day, and your family, a little more gently. it makes a world of difference.