Thursday, October 27, 2011

Relevant '11: Friday

The Relevant Conference: Bringing the World Hope through Social Media
Well bloggers, it was a long day on the road to Relevant '11...

Last night after youth group, I had the new RealCare baby simulator home with us for the night to test out before my childcare students go home with them next week. Let's just say we don't have children and besides when my hubby is sick, I'm not used to being woken up at 3am, much less by crying! SO I started tired...

Then I had a full day of school including planning for 3rd block since I had a field trip in the afternoon and planning for tomorrow's sub while I'm at Relevant. Thankfully while I was at school my sweet sweet husband came and filled up my empty tank, pumped up my leaky front tire, and left me a frappuccino and kit kat with a sweet note for me when I left school otherwise who knows when I would've gotten to Relevant.

I was on the road after fighting buses to get on the interstate, then I arrived at around 6pm (registration was till 4, dinner started at 5) but to my delight dinner was not over! And though I was so nervous to walk into a room of over 300 women, the table I sat at LaDonna, Stefanie, and many other sweet, kind, and friendly women made me feel a bit more at home.

The keynote speaker after our meal was Tsh Oxenreider from SimpleMom and she was inspiring. She talked about finding yourself in your element, where passion meets skills, both God-given, which leaves you in a place where you are delighting in the will of God.

"Your blog is only as good as your marriage"

"To provide for our family so we are free to serve"

She talked about a blog being income or being outreach... either is great!

And best of all, she had us imagine heaven with our laptops and a PSL (yes, she went there! loveher!) and showing Jesus our blogs, does it bring Him pleasure, does it glorify him no matter the topic, whether it is in the faith-based or secular blogging world.

I love that Tsh creates an atmosphere where all are welcome to her blog, she doesn't reject comments, but allows them and loves on the people who visit whether they are for or against God. This model of living is something I'm familiar with, but for blogging? I never thought about it that way... what amazing insight. Thanks Tsh for sharing with us!

Then we had the beach bash, a hang out session with Starbucks coffee (hence how I am still awake despite the long hours today) and Neapolitan cupcakes. I was completely overwhelmed! I found a few other women feeling the same and met some amazing women with moving and inspiring stories of grace and mercy. I met Mandy, Sarah, Natalie, and many others. I saw Crystal@MoneySavingMom and Courtney@WomenLivingWell but was too nervous to meet them, hopefully tomorrow I will have enough courage, but I didn't want to interupt the time they were spending getting to know other bloggers.

I'm off to bed, but I can't wait until tomorrow!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ultimate Blog Bash 2011

Courtney @WomenLivingWell who will be speaking at the Relevant Conference in Harrisburg, PA this weekend is hosting a Blog Bash over the next 4 days during Relevant. Today is the first day...

from courtney:
"Here’s how it works:

For 4 days straight, my blog is one HUGE link-up party! I LOVE a party and meeting new people!

First, write a blog post telling us about yourself – show a picture of your desk where you blog from, what your view is like out your window, your family, your pets, your inspiration behind your blog, or where you have your quiet time! Then link up under all the categories that apply to your blog and visit a few of the others who linked up! You can find the code to the Button on the side bar – please include the Blog Bash Button in your post so others can find us here and join the fun!"

So here I go...

I'm a teacher in Northern Virginia. I blog intermittently (when I'm not bogged down by grading, conferences, and testing) about faith, running, frugality, and cooking. I love the Lord, love to bake, and love extreme couponing. Taking photos of my recent deals is a favorite of mine.

Like I said I'm a teacher and I teach Family and Consumer Sciences Education (formerly Home Ec) so I have courses like Nutrition and Wellness, Intro to Culinary Arts, Intro to Child Care, and Independent Living. I am encourgaed to be able to teach homemaking skills to high schoolers in a public school, while it does have it's challenges, I have the potential to make a big impact. While I struggle to have to "keep my bible hidden"as it says in the new Brandon Heath song, I find that God still provides me ways to reach out in faith to my students. Being my husband's helper in running our youth group at church (where many of the students go to my school) has been a great opportunity for this.

I just had my 1 year wedding anniversary to my amazing husband, Brandon. He recently finished his bachelor's and is now in full time ministry as an associate pastor. So now I'm a pastor's wife, which is never a place I'd ever have imagined to be, but one that the Lord has led us to, and blessed us in.

Here is a picture of my desk at school from which I blog from sometimes before or after school if the inspiration strikes. I also sometimes blog from my desk at home, which is.... in our dining room. We moved the office out of the spare bedroom of our top floor apartment when my parents gave us a bed to use in there. It's a little crazy in there and most often I take the laptop and curl up on the couch in our living room to blog with a nice coffee drink.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Relevant '11

Well this weekend I am headed out to the Relevant Blogging Conference. I'm hoping to get some help on issues like writing regularly, sticking to a schedule and things like that. I am so excited to meet up with Crystal from MoneySavingMom and to hopefully meet Courtney from WomenLivingWell. These are bloggers who I follow and if you haven't read their blogs before, you need to click on those links and head over there now!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Making Your Home a Haven Fall Challenge

Courtney over @WomenLivingWell is again running the Making Your Home a Haven Fall Challenge.

This challenge will run through the month of October.

This week's challenge is this:
Go buy an extra large candle and light a candle everyday in your home. I will be starting mine in the morning! But you can start yours at dinner time. Do what makes sense for your family. I will be placing mine in the kitchen – the main hub of my home. Each time the candle catches your eye, say a prayer for peace in your home.

I participated in this challenge last year and I loved lighting the candle each day. My husband and I both love candles, the smell, the sight, everything, so in anticipation of dong this again I bought a big old Yankee Candle when they were BOGO free at Hallmark. My scent this fall is Autumn Wreath, they seem to last much longer than the generic candles and burn more. I also splurged a bit and went to Bath and Body Works and picked up some fall wall flowers like cinnamon sugared donuts, leaves, apple crumble, pumpkin caramel latte, and creamy pumpkin, along with a few candles. The cinnamon sugared donut is in now and smells impeccable.

I put our candle on our dining room table which this year is more decorated than last year and helps our home to feel more cozy through the seasons.

Praying for something daily can have a big impact for such a small thing. It is in the back of our minds if we are praying it daily, it reminds us to choose peace. As wives (and mothers) we have a great deal of influence when it comes to the tone of our homes. Will we choose peace, or choose anger, frustration, stress, blame, or whatever else feels good in the moment. I am striving to choose peace no matter how crazy our home is this time of year. Small time-outs, small simple reminders like pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin cookies, homemade applesauce, and a yummy-smelling candle.

What will you do to choose peace in your household this fall? How will you make your home haven?



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How to Date Your Husband

Courtney wrote a post on Marriage Monday addressing a reader's question, "how important is date night?" When I went to comment my response, I realized it would be too lengthy so I decided to jsut write a whole post on date night. Courtney's post can be found here .

My husband and I have been married almost a year, and date night has looked different all along the way. When we were in pre-engagement counseling, our counselor stressed how important date night would be and we had to plan out some ideas and bring them to our session. Let me give you an idea of our personalities:

Mine: Go play mini-golf
His: Take the riding lawnmower and ride it down the street to get ice cream and then ride it back

We both like to go out and do things, and he loves being a little crazy (hence the lawnmower instead of the car). But we love date night, I don't know that there are many people who don't.

When we were dating and Brandon lived 2 states away, our dates were skype dates. We would play online cooperative games like scrabble while we chatted on the skype video.

When we were dating (and the time we were engaged and living in the same town) our date nights were out in public, sometimes with other couples. We didn't have movie nights, or date nights in alone, it wasn't something that would support purity and the appearance of good. Date night was at least 2x a month, sometimes 1x a week.

When we first got married Brandon was working, but in retail there were crazy hours. Date night happened but sometimes not as often, but since he was working we were able to have date night out. We didn't have any real furniture in our living room so I took the cushion from our papasan and the 2 old ugly olive green chair cushions and put them on the floor. I covered it all with a blanket, and I put lots of pillows down. Then I took some candy and snacks (from couponing) and put them in colorful bowls. Then I used a redbox code and rented a movie. When Brandon got home from work he was excited that I had planned a date night in and I was excited that I did it for free. We kept doing this every once in awhile and had some great times together on these free "stay-home" dates

Then as I wrote about in this post Brandon quit his job, and we had one teacher income and student loan payments that were 2x our rent) Date night got a little different, our budget for the month was $25 most months and some months it got eaten up along with our fun money and got renames "birthday funds" so that we could get each other something. Brandon started classes again a few months into this. So I started to get creative. For his birthday I bought 2 fandango movie tickets from livingsocial for $9 total. Then when I went on I tried adding a 3D movie to my cart-- and it worked!. Then I looked and saw there was a midnight premiere so I added that 3D midnight premiere and it worked! The total was $28.50 but it came down to $0 after I added the coupon ccode (that I had paid $9 for). Then at the movies, we "checked in" through facebook to Regal Cinema and both got FREE popcorn. We purchased a drink that had a free refill when you bought a large for $4. So for $13 he got an awesome experience. This is just one example of how to use coupons to save on date night.

Now my husband has gotten a job as an associate pastor, so we again have 2 incomes and a date night budget. It's still only $50 so we are currently doing weekly dates (every Thurs) and doing a combination of stay at home (last week we did another movie night) going out (movies, dinner), and activities that are free (outdoors).

No matter what a date night looks like, what matters is time with your husband, quality time, no fights, no stress, just enjoying each other. We both started out agreeing on its importance, I know some of you are not there. Please do not use what are date nights are or are not to criticize or belittle your husband. Praise him for any romantic efforts he makes, plan a date for the 2 of you when you know you will be free, look around your church for younger girls who would make a good babysitter, ask relatives or friends to babysit (you could watch their children while they have their own date night and vice versa!), the possibilities are endless but what is not endless is the tiem you will have with your spouse. Make the best of it!

"May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth" Proverbs 5:18 NIV

Monday, September 19, 2011

Deals Overview 9/18-9/24

Deals I'm planning on getting this week:

Huggies $2.67 each (3 packs)
Candy Corn- FREE (saving for Oct 1)
Schick Razors+Skintimate (rain check): FREE + overage

Crest Complete: $1 moneymaker

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Undo Me

Heard this on KLove last week and felt like it was something that should be heard:

"Undo Me"

I don’t really worship these day
I don’t really stand up to praise you with songs
Or prayers or actions
or with anything
I am full of all the right moves
I am full of all the right words
I am full of all the right religion
But it is all just illusion
I am really
Too religious
Too realistic
and well really just to lazy
to worship you anymore
I have lost my first love
I have lost the joy of your presence
But most of all I have lost the fear of your glory

Father I need to see you again
Like Isaiah I want to stand in awe of your glory
To fall down at your feet
To come face to face with your
I want to stand before you and see you for who you are
and me for who I am
I want to be undone

I want to know me for who I really am
I want to see the depths of my heart
And know that you are the only way
You are the only truth
You are the only life
I want to see me and understand
What it really must have taken for you to
Love me
Care for me
See me
Speak to me
Want me
Communicate with me
Die for me
Die for me
Die for me

Lord, I want to stand in that place where all I can see is your glory
And my sin
Because in that place I can’t help but worship you.
Lord let me come undone
Undo my heart
Lord, undo my heart
break down these walls that I love so much
No, wait don’t,
I’m scared I don’t know if I can handle this
But I can’t live this way anymore
I can’t stand here in this half-life
this going through the motions life
this not really alive life
Father, I need you so come in and do what you must
Cut out the tumor on my heart
Break down the walls that I love
Lord let me come undone
Undo my heart
let me worship you again

*Blake Williams