Thursday, May 14, 2009

Some Rockin Ice Cream!

I have to say again, Thanks Mom and Dad for the really nifty ice cream maker you found in that consignment store! It is an awesome kitchen toy for a foodie like me!
Eric is a huge fan of Coldstone Creamery, but the prices flat out stink! They have some amazing ice cream, but it's quite pricey! So I decided that I knew I could make some that would be just as good and a lot less painful on the wallet! So for Eric's b-day I resolved I would make him some ice cream! I fouund a great recipe here:

I made this ice cream minus the nuts and marshmallows. I really wanted to put them in, but Eric's not a huge fan of those I left those out. But, it is still so very yummy!! Couldn't help but take step by step photos of the ice cream making process. Now I'm hooked and I can't stop making the stuff!! So beware if you decide to try it. You'll want to make it again and again!

Field Trip!

Eric finally had the privilege of going on a field trip with Austin. I have been on a few with Austin. This was a first for Eric. I think he was worried at first that he would have a bunch of crazy kids to supervise...but it ended up going well! Turns out a lot of parents he only had Austin and one other kid to keep an eye on! He took some great pics of their trip to the the aquarium in Charleston!

Photo Update!

So it's been a while since I've posted some photos! The boys were playing in the sprinklers while we were setting up the pool. We needed to find something for them to do together that would keep them out of trouble! And....since it was entirely too hot out when we were setting up the pool....I couldn't help but take a break and take advantage of a perfect photo op!

Friday, May 8, 2009

God's Providence

So I have been learning a thing or two about God's providence. Lately things seem so uncertain to me. The condition of the economy, high unemployment, swine flu, life is full of the unexpected. Having spent a number of years working in the real estate industry in one form or another, I truly would not have expected to see the financial outcomes that have most recently happened. Even after 9/11, there was a temporary drop in the economy, but things quickly rebounded and we were busier than ever, particularly in real estate sales and refinances. I was always swamped with work to the point of often taking work home with me so I could meet my deadlines. If you asked me if I thought real estate would crash like it did, I would have have enthusiastically told you, NO WAY! The industry was overwhelming, one of the biggest reasons why I was so happy to end that line of work. My whole point is that life is so full of the unexpected. Life will never be predictable, no matter how hard we try to plan for it to be. For us, we as a family have really been trying to make some big changes. Changes in our spending habits! MUCH room for improvement in that area. Changes in our walk with God. There are some recent changes that we've taken on. I was always in awe of how my own parents raised four of us....and did such a good job of it, at least in my eyes. Raising two throws me into whirlwinds...yet my parents did it with four!! I have been replaying in my mind the things they did. We NEVER ate out when I was a kid, with the exception of once or twice a year, and that was usually when we were on vacation. As I got a little older I think maybe that changed a little, but even then it was not a regular occurrence. I also remember that when we had fast food, we did drive-thru and we didn't purchase drinks! Mom always said we already had those at home and didn't need to buy them in the drive-thru! The second thing I remember is that my parents drove OLDER cars! If the car needed repairs or oil changes, Dad almost always did the work himself. I don't think they bought a brand new car until I was about twelve. And even that was a car they got through my uncle's car dealership at a very good price. My dad still drove an old beater to work everyday. He usually drove a car that didn't even have working air conditioning. We also lived in Miami. There is hot weather year round!!! We also never had cable TV. I don't think they ever even got cable until I had already moved out of the house. Growing up I can remember we had our nifty antenna attached to the house. It was taller than our second story roof. I can remember my brother and I turning the pole outside so we could try to get better reception for certain channels that played the cartoons we liked to watch! My parents made choices and sacrifices so that Mom could stay home with us. From time to time my mom did work. She taught piano lessons. When the airline my father worked for went on strike, my mother made the choice to go out and get some house cleaning jobs on the side to help make ends meet. I don't think either of them would have ever predicted the airline company would eventually go bankrupt and the strike never come to an end. My father had worked for Eastern Airlines for at least fifteen years. I know he probably thought he would work there until he reached retirement age. From there my father went from contract job to contract job for different aviation companies. This went on for years. Finally God provided a job for him completely free of the aviation industry and finally he had some job stability. I can't imagine the fears they must have experienced in the midst of this and raising four kids. But, God provides! I'm finally starting to realize that it's not in my control, as much as I try to pretend that it is. My childhood was great. I think I probably had more than a lot of kids did. I also remember how much I loved coming home from school and my mom being there. I felt sorry for kids who went home to empty houses. I remember when I was in elementary school, one friend's mom would actually work midnight shift as a waitress. I was so thankful my own mother was home all night as we slept in our beds. So now as a mom of two young boys, I want so much to be around for them. I don't want them raised by daycare workers. I want to be as big a part of their childhoods as I can. They are growing up all together so quickly. The moments are fleeting. I cherish my childhood and hope that one day they will cherish their own. Our children are gifts from God, I don't want to waste one minute. So I wrestle with guilt sometimes that I'm not earning a paycheck as I once did. I feel sometimes like I'm financially short changing Eric and the boys. But, I think that's just my insecurities coming in to play. I'm starting to learn to let go and realize that God is and will always be our provider just as he did all the years I was growing up. I'm still growing by the way. Only now my hope is that I'm growing in wisdom. I'm learning that my part is to be a good steward with what we have. Being financially responsible, not leaving God out of the equation, and learning new steps to frugality!! I was recently discouraged because we were headed to our small group bible study at church. We do pot-luck kind of dinner. Well I managed to spill our casserole all over the floor of the car only minutes after leaving the house. I was so frustrated I began to cry. I felt like I just threw money away and now we were going to have to spend more money because we couldn't show up empty handed. Eric remained positive. I wanted to stay home and have a pity party. But he didn't let me! Amazingly a little of the casserole didn't spill we had at least a few servings to share....and Eric stopped for cookies at the store along the way. We went anyway, as discouraged as I was. The funny thing was I think I could feel God sort of letting me know.....that even the little things are in his hands. When we went that night there was an over abundance of food that others had brought. There was so much in fact, that there was enough for seconds and we had a full group that night. So as the evening went on, my mood lightened. Then as we were headed out, the family that hosts the bible study at their house offered us some huge onions that they'd picked up from a farm. I felt again that God was showing me through all these little things that he will meet our needs. So my story doesn't end there. Financially we have been trying to take the steps to do what we need to do. Not make silly wasteful purchases. Be diligent about eating more meals at home. We even reduced or TV satellite package to the family plan. We haven't even really missed the old channels. I also am striving to not short change God. I fall all too short when it comes to being faithful about making an offering at church. Yet God is always faithful to still provide. And in the times that we do make our tithe, we ALWAYS seem to get it back in one way or another. I don't know why I still struggle to trust God. You would think that I would have learned that by now. Money is a complicated thing....and it tangles up the heart at times!! At least for me it does. This past week I made our tithe thinking okay God, it's in your hands.... I'm trying hard to let go and let YOU. I had forgotten that morning that I had been invited to attend the meeting for volunteers of children's church. The church actually provided lunch something I wasn't aware of until after church...and even Eric and the boys got to have lunch even though they weren't part of the volunteer group. This was a complete surprise to me. There was God providing a meal for the four of us. The providence was already beginning. Then literally that very Monday that a family member, for no reason at all, sent me a gift of money. A couple days later, my mother sent me a link for KFC coupons for a free meal for four. And then yesterday, Eric found fifty dollars still inside a card from Christmas time that he'd forgotten about. If that's not proof that God is meeting our needs above and beyond, then I don't know what is. One other thing to note, we got back more than we gave. My intention isn't that we should give because we expect God to give back more to us in return. I'm just trying to get the point across that God does provide for our needs. My mom always says "You can't out do God". I have to say that I whole heartily agree with that statement!! God is good!! And even when I'm afraid and I forget to trust him fully, he always got my back. A verse I have been drawn to a lot recently is Proverbs 3:5-9 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing and your vats will brim over with new wine.
Another verse that's been in my heart is Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do now sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
On that note, Happy Weekend!!! And thanks for reading! Peace!