when will i learn?

I went to bed upset last night and pondered, “When will I learn to keep my mouth shut?” Several quotes came to mind as I was laying there…

be-the-change-you-want-to-see

Proverbs_21-23

I hadn’t said anything mean, but I’m learning that people aren’t receptive to what I say…maybe they will be receptive if I make myself a positive role model. That’s all I can hope for.

 

my beef with healthcare

Normally, I’m upbeat and happy in my blog, but our healthcare system has me very aggravated at this point and I must vent!

[Steps on soap box.]

First of all, I have Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance. Overall, I guess it’s good and I should be thankful that I even have insurance (even though it costs and arm and a leg!). I had it through my employer, but we found out it would be cheaper through my husband’s employer so we recently switched, which should save us $200-$300 per month.

About 8 weeks ago, I had my second baby and I had actually met my deductible by June 1. Well, something changed with our insurance on June 1 and the rates went up. And for some reason, I think they haven’t rolled over my deductible (it’s supposed to be for the calendar year) and those insurance folks are trying to make me pay it twice. It’s very confusing, so I’ve been trying to get the bottom of the situation.

One day, a couple of weeks ago, I called a phone number that Anthem told me to in order to get answers to my questions. I got transferred 3 times in 30 minutes, but not one person could help me. They all told me I needed to speak with someone else! I’ve emailed them asking to please have someone call ME so I can actually get some answers (still haven’t heard from them).

I checked into getting an IUD for birth control because the insurance lady said it should be covered under the new healthcare laws. Not so in my case. It would be over $300 and you have to pay the full amount to the doctor’s office before they’ll do it.

This morning, I was telling one of my sisters about my woes and she informed me that insurance won’t pay for an IUD, but it might pay for an abortion. How messed up is that? I started poking around and can’t find an answer on that one. She also told me that she can’t add her live-in fiance to her insurance but if she wanted to add her same-sex partner to her insurance plan, she could. Really???

The only good thing I’ve seen from all these healthcare law changes is that kids have to have dental insurance…but, the policy holder ends up paying for that feature, I’m sure.

When is this going to get better and more affordable? We’re going to pay nearly $5,000 in insurance premiums per year for our HEALTHY family. I know another older couple who is paying nearly $1,200 PER MONTH for insurance. That’s almost $15,000 per year!!!

Call me crazy, but there has to be a better way.

[Steps down from soap box.]

budgeting and generous giving

I told my husband the other day that I want to create a real budget since we now have a house payment (something we’ve not had in our 11 years of marriage). Sure, we’ve had other payments, but none as big as this mortgage and none that will last for such a long period of time. The past several Sunday School lessons at our church have been about work and money management, so this comes at the perfect time.

After teaching my spin class yesterday, I got into a conversation about budgeting with one of my students, who has been on a budget for quite sometime. She follows the Dave Ramsey principles which I’m somewhat familiar with (thanks to my cousin who gave me that book many years ago!). I need to pull that book back out because I only made it to the second or third step in the plan. Either way, this gal was so helpful and emailed me the neatest spreadsheet on budgeting that she uses. I plan to get into the meat of it this weekend and figure out our budget for next month and see how it goes. I don’t think our house payment will start until May which is nice so we’ll have a month to practice.

This week’s Sunday School lesson is about “Our generous giving should glorify God and reflect Christ’s giving.” My mom raised me to understand the importance of tithing (giving the first 10% back to God) and over the past several years, I’ve really practiced this. I’m a good tither, but I’m not good at “offerings”, so I plan to work that into the budget. I was proud to hear my sister say she gave a good chunk of her earnings to the church last year. I guess mom’s words DID sink in after all!

Some points from the Sunday School lesson this week (2 Corinthians 9:10-13):

  • The Lord is the One who provides our necessities of life and more
  • The reason for multiplying our material resources is to increase the harvest of our righteousness
  • God prospers us not so we can move on up and enjoy a bigger piece of the pie but to enable us to do more to bless others
  • Our generosity will result in people offering thanksgiving to God, thus bringing glory to Him
  • Generosity supplies the needs of the saints
  • Generosity expresses thanks to God
  • Generosity confesses the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone

So, I’m praying over our new budget and asking God to guide me in creating it and following it. I know it won’t be easy to change some of our habits (like eating out WAY too much), but I know we can do it. One reason we got a house is to stay here and enjoy it, so I plan to work on meal planning on the weekends and this gal is going to be grilling out a LOT more this spring and summer!

On another note, I got me some Starbucks Veranda Blend Blonde Roast at the grocery store the other day and it sure is tasty. I had been drinking my favorite Jamaican Me Crazy blend, but I was almost out and was ready to try something new. Plus this was half the price. Yes, I’m pregnant, but I don’t worry about one cuppa joe a day.

Have a blessed day!

A pretty sunset one evening this week

A pretty sunset one evening this week

Sunday school lesson: enjoying work

Just a few days ago, I was telling my husband how I feel like I’m actually helping people in my line of work now. For years at my other job, I felt an emptiness – like I wasn’t helping better mankind in any way. I didn’t dread going to work much, but I just didn’t feel there was much purpose. I think that if I would have been paying more attention, I would have seen that God was opening doors for me earlier than I did.

I’m currently employed as “Executive Assistant” at a local fitness facility. My job is to be the director’s right hand woman and help with whatever she needs. The position has morphed into not only helping do small things like keep our website updated, create signs/flyers about happenings in our facility, etc. into personal training, group exercise instructing, and being a lifeguard. I wear tons of different hats, but I was used to that from my old job and I really like it. I’m one of those A.D.D. type people, so I need variety.

Either way, I’m really excited about the new Sunday school books we got at church this week. The cover has a pretty picture of plants and it’s for SPRING 2014! I started reading the first lesson this morning and it’s really good. I won’t get to attend church this weekend, but I can study the lesson and still get a blessing.

spring2014sundayschool

Here are some of the points I picked up from my reading this morning. The scripture comes from Genesis 1:28, 2:8-9,15:

  • Work is a gift from God, not a curse
  • God created work BEFORE sin entered the world
  • He expects us to be faithful in doing our part and to let God be faithful in doing His
  • We’re not to sit around expecting blessings and to be taken care of while we’re lazy – we have a job to do
  • Without work, how would we meet the needs of our families?
  • Genesis 2: 8-9 points out:
    • God placed Adam and Eve in a specific location to do a specific job
    • God caused the land to flourish
    • God blesses you where he places you

STOP right there for a second and re-read that last bullet: GOD BLESSES YOU WHERE HE PLACES YOU. The question posed is “If we’re not being blessed, why not?”

  • In verse 9, the Bible says God caused all the various trees to sprout up but he still told Adam in chapter 1 to work the land. Even though God gave Adam a task, it was still God who gave the blessing of growth.

The key question of this lesson is “Why has God given me this particular work?”

Let me clarify something before I go any further…if you are a stay at home mom/dad, you ARE working. I’m a firm believer in the important work you are doing. I honestly used to look down my nose at you all, but once I had my own child, my outlook changed. I think it’s one of the most important jobs in the world.

Secondly, if you are disabled and truly unable to work, I understand your situation and I don’t have any negative feelings toward you. In the same sense, if you’re not able to stand on your feet for hours at a time, for example, there could still be work for you to do! If you have a stable mind and the ability to sit and listen/talk, you could volunteer or work with elderly. Just keeping them company and helping them feel loved and appreciated is a very honorable job.

I do feel God has a purpose for me in my current job and I feel He had a job for me in my old career. Here are a few things that have already happened in my current career in less than 18 months that I really feel He had in mind for me:

  • Yanked a kid out the swimming pool to keep him from drowning
  • Helped a lady pull out of her depression and intervened when she was talking about suicide/depression
  • Brought a cheerful, positive attitude to my workplace (I’m annoyingly happy)
  • Am currently helping a group of 5 ladies lose weight during our weight loss contest (which helps them feel better and make a bigger difference in the lives of others around them)
  • Talked about my Christian beliefs to members and co-workers

Yesterday was my day off. Granted, I normally have Saturday and Sunday off as well, but Monday is my weekday off. I love only working 4 days a week and I really try to spend as much time with my son on Monday as possible. That was one of my biggest intentions of changing jobs was to spend more time being a mom. Sometimes on Mondays, I feel so guilty that I’m not at “work”; but then I think, “THIS is work, too!” Going back to my comment above about stay at home parents, it’s one of the most important jobs in the world. My goal is to instill in my son (and future son/daughter) my beliefs and values before the world out there starts trying to tear his little world apart.

So, think on it today. Are you happy with your job? If not, you best start talking to God. Maybe you have blinders on and are missing what He’s asking you to do. Maybe He has a different job in mind for you.

prop 65 warning

dishesI had my eye on these dishes for our new house and I looked at them again today, thinking of buying them. Something caught my eye in the description called “Prop 65 warning.” I had never heard of this, so after some research, I find that something in the dishes has been found to cause cancer or reproductive problems! What the heck?! How can people even sell things like this? I mean, how is it legal? It stated that the consumer can decide if they want to take the risk of purchasing the product, but with all the cancer risk in the world, who wants to tempt fate, ya know?

Needless to say, I will not be purchasing this pretty set. My mom is a potter and I’m going to see if she can make me some square plates like these and I’m going to have her check her glaze and make sure it doesn’t contain a prop 65 warning. Keep your eyes open for warnings like this, folks!

 

monday challenge

If you read my Sunday Challenge post, I had a goal to spend 3 hours on Monday working on an assignment from our Sunday school lesson this week. It was a good day, but I ended up only spending 45 minutes on the task. My goal for the rest of the week is to finish the other 2 hours and 15 minutes in dedicated Bible reading and prayer. I wanted to share what I accomplished in my 45 minutes. Maybe it will inspire you to take the challenge, too.

How well am I following God’s purpose for my life and how might I be more faithful?

What is my purpose?

  • To follow God’s will for my life

    • Which is what?

  • To give praise and glory to God in all that I do

  • To lead others to Christ by witnessing and leading a lifestyle that is pleasing to God

  • To raise my children in a Godly way

Bullet points from the Purpose Driven Life (Day One) – http://purposedriven.com/day1/

CENTER YOUR LIFE AROUND GOD: (Worship)

  • “Love the Lord your God with all your heart …and soul and mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Mt. 22:37-38

  • “A sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

TO CONNECT WITH OTHER BELIEVERS: (Fellowship)

  • “Let us not give up the habit of meeting together… instead let us encourage one another.”Heb. 10:25 (GN)

  • “Those who believed… were baptized and added to the church… They joined with the other believers and committed themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship… They worshiped together regularly at the Temple… and met in small groups in homes …”Acts 2:41-42, 46 (NLT/LB)

TO CULTIVATE SPIRITUAL MATURITY: (Discipleship)

  • “Let us go on… and become mature in our understanding, as strong Christians ought to be.”Heb. 6:1 (LB)

  • “By now you should be teachers. Instead, you still need someone to teach you…!”Heb. 5:12 (GW)

TO MAKE A CONTRIBUTION WITH YOUR LIFE: (Service)

  • “God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other.”1 Peter 4:10 (LB)

  • “What can I give back to God for the blessings He’s poured out on me?”Ps. 116:12 (Msg)

TO COMMUNICATE GOD’S LOVE TO OTHERS: (Mission)

  • “Through Christ, God has made peace between us and Himself, and He gave us the work of telling everyone about the peace we can have with Him… So we have been sent to speak for Christ!”2 Cor. 5:18, 20 (NCV)

Questions I need to answer:

  • Do I really love the Lord with all my heart?

    • I feel my love growing all the time, but it’s easier for me to love my earthly family sometimes because they are actually here with me.

  • How often do I put my own wants before what God wants me to do?

    • a lot…seems like I don’t really ask God what he wants me to do. I need to spend more time reading my Bible and praying so I will know His will.

  • What am I doing right in my current lifestyle?

    • Going to church most every Sunday – not just to go, but to receive a blessing and be part of a church family

    • Reading the daily devotional with Mike most nights before we go to bed

    • Raising our son in a Christian home and taking him to church regularly

    • Praying over our meals

    • Standing up for things that are right in God’s eyes and opposing those which are not

    • Sending birthday and other notes to church members, family, and friends

    • Not watching shows or listening to music that has questionable content

    • Tithing on a regular basis

  • What obvious improvements need to be made and ideas for each

    • more time reading the Bible

      • get up 30 minutes earlier at least 4 days each week

      • take breaks throughout the day to read scripture

    • more time praying

      • get up 30 minutes earlier at least 4 days each week

      • specifically for my family and our relationship with God

    • more time serving others

      • be a better neighbor and reach out to those immediately neighboring us

      • serve at the soup kitchen once a month

      • propose and help organize a one day vacation bible school at church

      • send more “thinking of you” notes to church members who request prayer or that come to mind

    • offering my testimony more easily and often

      • revisit my written testimony and become more familiar

      • become familiar with scriptures and action steps to help lead people to Christ

      • plan a gathering at our house around Easter to show the Billy Graham DVD and follow that plan to invite others to Christ (since I didn’t do it last year)

    • spend more time educating our son on God

      • find some biblical cartoons and books

      • talk to him more about his God, creation, God’s love and will for his life

    • teach during Sunday school

      • bring the adult book to the kid’s class and review the scripture and points

      • teach the kids songs to sing in front of the church

    • give more offerings in addition to tithes

a sunday challenge

[I started this post yesterday (Sunday), but didn’t have a chance to finish it, so I’m up at 4 am on Monday wrapping it up.]

Each week, I try to read over the coming Sunday school lesson so I’m prepared. I’m technically a Sunday School teacher for young adults, but we rarely have a class at our small church. Normally, we moms head into the kid’s class to help reign in the toddlers. Either way, we’ve had a great book of lessons in this book. This week’s lesson was about creation and how we can be sure God in fact created everything.

The scripture came from Genesis 1:1-3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 26-27. We had a good discussion during Sunday school class and the following points were brought up:

  • Most of us know creative people. The difference between their creations and God’s are that they create things out of materials that already exist.
  • Some people argue that creation didn’t take place in 6 days – that those “days” were actually longer spans of time. I choose to believe they were actual days that we experience now. If God can raise people from the dead, surely he can create the world in 6 days!
  • There was a “digging deeper” section about the “Image of God” and I’d never thought too much about it before. I always thought humans were created in the physical image of God, but this points out that there are at least 5 ways humans are like God: rational, emotional, spiritual, social, and volitional (ability/need to make choices).
  • The lesson also pointed out again that God created MALE and FEMALE – His plan was for marriages and families between a man and woman.
  • The uniqueness and sanctity of human life was also mentioned since we are created in the image of God.

The title for this post originally came from a command in the Sunday school lesson. It said “Set aside three hours one day this week to reflect on how well you are following God’s purpose for your life and how you might be more faithful.” For some reason, this jumped off the page at me. My initial reaction was “Three hours! Are you kidding me?! Where am I going to find three hours for this?!” God was quick to point out that I do have Mondays off from work and my son normally takes at least a 2 hour nap. Instead of napping too or finding something else to do, I plan to light into this today. It didn’t say spend 3 consecutive hours, so I’m going to try to break it up into parts, starting in a few minutes. My challenge to you is to do the same thing! Doesn’t have to be today, but sometime this week. If you complete the task, let me know!

On another note, I had a different “Sunday challenge” yesterday evening. Our son was happy all morning and went down for a nap in a good mood. He slept for 3 hours and let me tell you, that kid awoke on the wrong side of the bed! He’s rarely grouchy so I was worried that he was sick when he got up and acted ugly like he did. At first, he just seemed in a sleepy fog, but then about 30 minutes after being awake, everything made him upset and angry. I had fixed dinner and had our plates on the table when he decided to walk by and throw his in the floor. I was so mad! I got down to eye level and gave him some speech about how he knew that was wrong and how bad it was of him. Those little two year old eyes were as big as saucers, then his little face contorted and you could see he felt bad about what he did. After he cried a bit, he finally came around and had a big spoon of peanut butter, then he ate some supper. I think he was hungry when he woke up and he just ended up getting grouchy instead of just eating. He ended up fine about an hour after he woke up and went to bed last night a happy kid.

My husband and I rarely experience this behavior from our son, so we talked about it last night while going to bed. I made the comment that some parents experience that on a daily basis. I’m glad he had the same thought as me…”Because they allow their kids to do whatever they want” which is exactly true. Some parents would have spanked and some would have had time out when their kid acted the way ours did yesterday, but I’ve found for us, a talking-to and time for our son to cool off works just as good as anything (at this point). Eventually, we’ll get to the time out thing if we need to, but for now, he respects us and we can avoid it.

The funny part is that I was in a weird mood yesterday, too. I called it cabin/spring fever. I am so ready to get out of the house and do something outdoors! Yesterday was just so cold and windy that it wasn’t enjoyable at all. Today, however, is supposed to be a bit warmer and we’re going to see my dad for a bit since he’s off work for the holiday. We’ll probably spend some time out in the snow during our visit. This week is supposed to warm up into the 50’s so I’m going to try to get out as much as possible.

Tulips