1. I must say that I am so incredibly thankful for OhLife. Remember I told you about it last week? Well, I just typed “1.” and sat here for a good 3 minutes trying to think of something to start my list off with. WHAT did I do this week? Am I really that boring? Then, I remembered that I could go back to OhLife and re-read my past posts to jog my memory. YAY! I have my brain back! Yes, OhLife is awesome.
2. I’ve been thinking a lot about tithing (giving money to God). Our very young youth pastor preached an incredible sermon last Sunday about tithing and he shared some statistics about our church and the giving that goes on. The stats are nothing new and they are not surprising, and they are certainly not unique to our church, but essentially less than half of our “giving units” (married couples, singles, families) ever give anything. He didn’t elaborate much, but I know from listening to online sermons (one of my favorite things to do while hanging out at home) that of those less than half that give, an even smaller percentage gives more than $100 a YEAR, which leaves a tiny fraction of the giving population who gives a tithe amount (10% of income) to the church. Why does the church need money? Well, to keep the lights on, for one thing. Plus, there is the paying of the pastors and staff, not to mention the incredible outreach our church does (children’s programs, family nights, food baskets, etc). Like I said, my church is not unique. LOTS of churches are doing Kingdom work. What is frustrating to me is how many people come to church on Sunday and take and take (dropping their kids off in our incredible kids’ program, attending adult electives, etc) and never give back so that more people can be reached.
In short: I wanted to share an idea that my husband and I have been doing for a few years now. We give automatically through automatic payments we have set up through our bank’s online bill-pay. We take our tithe amount off the top of the budget and give it RIGHT AWAY, because it was never ours and we don’t want to count on it as part of our budget. EVERYTHING that has been entrusted to us by God IS God’s, not ours. The amazing thing is that when we are faithful in giving, God blesses us, just like he says he will. The bills get paid, the debt get paid off, the envelopes are filled.
I’m excited and challenged to give more to the Kingdom in 2012. It’s definitely a step of faith, but I just know that God will come through for us if we are willing to give him our first fruits! I’m excited!!
3. I’m feeling organic again. This doesn’t happen terribly often, but every once in a while I get the organic bug. I change little things in our diet to introduce more natural foods. Not that I feel like I feed my family unnatural food. I guess I just like to be weird every once in a while and do something new. I’ve gotten into the habit of making my own feta cheese, my own yogurt, hummus from scratch, soaked beans of all kinds, my own pita bread, bagels, and pretty much everything baked (although I do love those Safeway bakers who provide my son’s sandwich bread). I do this because I enjoy it, not because I have weirdly strong convictions on the subject.
This month, I’m trying to use my little stash of coconut oil more often (trying to get into the habit of subbing it for veggie oil – in my biscotti) and I just bought my first Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. My hysterical (in real life) friend Ashley did a blog post about getting back to her pre-preganancy (absolutely gorgeous) self and she sited the miracle powers of Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (with “the mother”, whatever that means). I bought some. HONESTLY, I’ve only had a couple of teaspoons, and I’d rather drink straight from the spoon rather than mixing in water. I don’t know if that is the right thing to do to get my “I’ve-gained-10-lbs-since-October” weight off, but hey, it’s something. (And, no, I’m not kidding about the 10 lbs. And, no, I haven’t been running, but all that changes on MONDAY. Promise. Stalk me. Hold me accountable. I need to lose this muffin top.)
If you want a FREE $10 credit (off a $10 purchase, so you only pay shipping) to Vitacost, the online store where I bought my vinegar (plus they have vitamins and grains and all kind of granola-girl-type stuff), click on my referral link! I get $10 when you claim your $10, so we both win! I’m saving up, because my friend (IRL) Alysun did a blog post about her favorite things, which included Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar and some salt thingies that I’d like to buy next. Because we are weird like that. I really like my IRL (in real life) friends!
By the way, since I’m feeling organic, I’ll be making cheese and yogurt and hummus and pitas and bagels and bread this week. Because I’m inspired.
4 – I love my friends!! Here’s the deal: I’m one of those people who is a natural introvert (I like peace and quiet and solitude and don’t-talk-to-me-because-I-might-clam-up-or-say-something-stupid), HOWEVER, I know that God calls us to be in the world, so I know that I have to fight my natural tendencies to RUN to my car right after ladies Bible study (although I haven’t quite conquered that one, yet) and actually develop friendships with other women. That being said, I’m so grateful for those friendships that have developed over the years that are REAL and natural and imperfect and raw and trustworthy. I long for those friendships, yet they are few and far between (to my chagrin).
My friend Chauntel visited me this week! I love her. Truly. We had our first babies within months of one another (Brooklyn was born in April and Grant was born in July 2003) and we shared a fence in our little neighborhood in Newberg, Oregon (home of the George Fox Bruins- hooyah). We attended the Thursday morning mom’s group at the hospital (a lifesaver for this freaked out new mama) and had a little Bible Study at Chauntel’s house (which actually started as a result of a candle party at my house!). Chauntel (and our friend Sarah) and I are the kind of friends that you can catch up with in seconds after months or even years of not seeing one another. She’s a sticky friend. I’m never letting her go. I wish she lived next door, and I wish I made SEEING HER a priority. And, I wish I could develop this kind of friendship with more women. But, I’m nervous and scared. And, I really need to get over that.
I write this to remind myself and encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and make DEEP friends. I still feel like I’m lost and alone most of the time here in my hometown, and yet, I just KNOW that there are ladies I can count on to help me and support me if I called on them. I WANT to call on them more often. I need to, because I need to share my heart more often. I need to step out of my comfort zone and develop these friendships.
5 – Date nights rock. Seriously. I went on a date with my hubby last night and it was SO much fun to spend time in relaxing conversation with my husband with NO distractions or interruptions. Except for the time the pizza arrived. And then the movie started. And we watched Bella and Edward and Jacob and laughed kinda hysterically at the weird movie (although, yes, I’m embarrassed to admit that I did read the books and actually enjoyed them and I did see this same movie before Christmas with some friends . . . I’ve grown up since then. Don’t judge.) Ahem. Yes, the date was fun. Plus, it was a great reminder that I need to have more eye-to-eye conversations with my hubby. By the way, if you are ever in the McMinnville area, try 3rd St. Pizza and the Moonlight Theater. VERY fun date night. Thanks Groupon!