Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Surviving the Poor Economy: Part 1

Lately, we've had to be super frugal. This economy stinks, and summer activities are not cheap. Here's an example of my nifty-thrifty adventures:

Today my girls and I headed out to Frances Meadows in Gainesville for some swimming. Since it cost $4 per person/per day to go, we typically only get out there once per week, and for the last 2 weeks, we've chosen Tuesday. We get there around 1 or 2, and stay until about 4:30 or 5:00. Leah is free, but the rest of us have to pay, so it cost us $12 each visit. Not terrible especially since it's basically a mini-water park! The problem with spending so much time in there, is that by the time we leave, we're all hungry!

Last week, though, I discovered that our very favorite steak house offers 99 cent kids meals on Tuesdays, and on top of that, they offer "early bird" dinner prices. $7.99 if you eat before 6 o'clock. When we went last week (just the girls and I) we spent about $21 (because I ordered food to bring home to my husband) Not only did I have our to-go meal bagged up, but I also had an additionl meal and a half boxed up from our left overs! (which we had for lunch the next day) The servings are huge!

Today, I thought better of ordering more food to bring home for Joshua! Here was our order:
2 Mini Cheeseburgers and Steak Fries
Chicken Tenders and Sweet Potato
Sirloin Bites and Steak Fries
Chocolate Milk, Regular Milk, Sweet Tea
Total So Far: $2.97

I ordered Beef Tips with Mashed Potatos and a (dry) Ceasar Salad. I always order water with lemon... aside from the fact that I save an additional $2, my favorite beverage just happens to be water... with lemon.

Since a Ceasar Salad is partially filling, I had already planned on setting aside the Beef Tips and Mashed Potatos to take home to Joshua. Kyla enjoyed her sweet potato along side chicken tenders that she shared with Zoe because she was stuffed! Zoe ate a cheeseburger, a chicken tender and fries- Leah ate half a cheeseburger, a chicken tender and fries as well. I ate the 'kid sized portion' of the sirloin bites along side my dry ceasar salad. (And let me just say- if I am allowed, I will always try to order a kids meal for myself if we're out at a sit down restraunt in order to save myself from the temptation of scarfing down the ginourmous proportions that most places offer. So, a side salad and about 4 ounces of grilled sirloin added up to a great meal)

We boxed up the Beef Tips and Mashed Potatos, and still had to have a second box for a 1/2 cheeseburger, an order of fries, and bread!

Our grand total came to $10.96, after tax and a generous tip a family of 5 ate dinner "out" for $16.

I'm sure that this place not be doing their "kids-night" for very long, but we'll certainly enjoy our opportunity to eat our favorite food while we can!

In the mean time, anyone that has a thrifty-tale to tell, please comment!


I could listen to this over and over during my quiet time.


"anything i put before my God is an idol....."
"anything i want with all my heart is an idol"
"anything i can't stop thinking of is an idol"
"anything that i give all my love is an idol"

Wow. I have a long list of idols in my head. I think of all the 'things' I put before My God, and all the idols that exist in my life.

One of my favorite places these days: The YMCA. It has become an idol. And when I go to the gym before I've invested in time alone with my Savior, I am proving to myself that idols are more than just statues.

One of my goals has been weight loss. Idol. I've been investing so much thought into losing weight, and becoming healthy and attractive. I can't 'stop thinking' about it.... Idol.

Monday, June 29, 2009

What God intends for GOOD, Satan will surely try to make it Nasty!

First of all, I'll make a major confession. I struggle with ANGER. Terribly. I have the "foot in mouth disease". I say things that I shouldn't even have thought, out of anger! And what I'm realizing tonight is that when God has intended to use my PASSION for HIS GLORY, Satan is trying to stick his hand in it, - he sees this bubbling passion in me, and works his demons over time to turn a mighty passion into a massive anger issue.

Well. Ha! Ha! Satan. This time you lose!!! In. Your. Face!

See, I'm angry right now. Whew! I am FIRED UP! But there is no sin associated with it.

Here goes:

Kari Jobe has this amazing cd out. I love it. It's an amazing worship album. One of the songs on the disc, "HEALER", has been creating an awe with in my spirit. Tonight, I was looking around on Youtube for Kari Jobe stuff, and came across an interview about Mike Guglielmucci. I had no clue who this guy was. No clue that he wrote this song. Didn't even know he was with Hillsong. Surely didn't know that he had a 'story'.

This guys story is crazy. The spark of my anger.

He created a lie, saying that he was battling cancer (for 2 years), and said that he wrote "Healer" in regard to his battle with cancer. So, he makes a confession, after all that time, after touring with Hillsong, and selling mucho albums, to all of the world, (including his mom, dad, and his wife who had NO CLUE). He never had cancer. Ever. He made it all up. He lied about doctor's appointments. Treatments. All of it. He lived a lie for over 2 years. This Christian pastor. Worship Leader. Song writer. He habitually lied to EVERYONE!!!


In actuallity, Mike's 'disease' was not cancer. It was addiction. He battled a terrible addiction to adult pornography. And this addiction, (this disease), is what I believe inspired the powerfully annointed song that he wrote.

Am I mad at Mike for lying? NO!!!!! No. No. No.

I am angry that Christians have to disguise their struggles because they are too ashamed to confess their sins and lean on one another.

I am angry that an annointed team (Hillsong), an annointed song (Healer) and an annointed man (Mike) are all put on the cross to be crucified and mocked and beaten because of the fear that was surrounded by this man's guilt and shame.

Fellow believers, the same people that genulinely believe that Jesus took those nails, and that shame, the beating, and then DIED for our sins, those people are trying to nail a man back on the cross.

I want to shout out:

"Occupied! The Cross is Occupied. There is no room! Jesus filled it up. Stop trying to nail more people to it. "

Mike did suffer from a disease. It wasn't cancer. It was addiction. He was crying out....

"I believe You're my healer! I believe You are all I need! I believe You're my portion. I believe You're more than enough for me. Jesus You're all I need."

My heart hurts so painfully for him. He confessed even though he didn't have to. He put the truth to rest, in obedience to The Lord. He could have kept it to himself, and lived the rest of his life knowing he lied. He chose Truth. And he's being condemned for it.

As Christians, can you relate? We choose Truth. We choose God. We are condemned for it. Why would we make the choice condemn anyone else?

What a heart ache.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Go Back to Start

Nothing seems to drain Hope and Courage out of me faster (and harsher) than when my marriage is going wrong. I know I'm not the only spouse that has felt this way... with the current divorce rate averaging 50%.... I'm going to assume that atleast half of the people I know (that are married) have, at one point or another, felt discouraged and hopeless about their marriage.

There are tremendous 'ups', and outrageous 'downs' in this relationship! It seems as if over the past 9 years we've been playing this sort of board game. We're on 'start' in the beginning, trying to figure each other out, learn how to communicate, and create a partnership to go along with the love and friendship that ignited the desire to marry in the first place; we roll the dice and land on various 'tiles' in this board game: Start a business, have a baby, buy a house, start a new career, buy a car, etc. etc. etc.

Here's the problem with this board game (a metaphor for my marriage):
After each advancement to a new tile, we draw a card that says "Go Back To Start"...... But we always 'cheat', ignoring the rules in an effort to hurry along to the next tile. So, after our first baby was born, instead of relearning how to communicate, budget, etc.. ("going back to start"), we assumed we'd be fine doing what we'd always done; despite the major change we had added to our life.

We've NEVER gone back to start. Instead, we draw a bunch of "Move Back 10 Spaces" and we don't get the option to 'cheat' and ignore that card's orders. This disables us from moving on with the game (the marriage), keeping us stuck on tiles that we have been on, over and over and OVER again. And what is the typical response to an individual that can't seem to advance, whether it be a game, a career, a relationship (or whatever)? Quit!

Just quit.... is what over 50% of our brains tell us to do. And I'm just going to go out on a limb here, and assume that like 97.6% of our brains are actually 'telling' us to quit, but only around 1/2 listen to that prompt.

My brain has been screaming at me, telling me that if I don't go on back to "start" I'll never advance, and I will have to quit [my marriage].

My heart, my spirit, THE TRUTH tells me to suck it up, though. And I also know that it's not so much my 'brain' prompting me quit, as much as it is Satan.

I have a beautiful friend, an incredible blessing in my life. God knew I'd need her, and He gave her a boldness to speak to me in Truth, and in Love so that I would hear what He would being saying to me if He were in the flesh sitting beside me.

When I was confessing my anger and hurt, and frustration in regard to the challenges I've faced in my marriage, she said to me

"Amber. What if this is your cross to bear? What if GOD is using this to teach you how to deal with your struggles?"

AND BAM! That was it. I got out of my 'woe is me' pit and just went over that statement with myself, thinking about how TRUE it is that my own problems have nothing to do with him.

Screeech. Hold on. Let me stop here. I need to clarify (confess, admit, show some skin, whatever) my 'struggle'. I have a really (REALLY) hard time conrolling my emotions. In short, my struggle is 'self-control', but it manifest itself in my marriage as ANGER.

So? Do I think God is 'making' my marriage bad? Is He 'allowing' the issues in our marriage to remain, in order to teach me 'self-control'???

NO! And if anyone tried to convince me of this, I'd laugh in their face. ( That's not how My GOD rolls....)

He is just sweet enough, and LOVING enough to USE the hardship I face during the crappy times in my marriage. As in- "My grace is sufficient for you, and my strength is made perfect in weakness" (When it sucks big time and you're at your lowest, God's grace is enough, and HIS strength is enabled to come out)

So, where I would have NOT A CLUE how to get a grasp on self-control, God takes it upon Himself to use a bad situation (a problem with in my marriage) that almost always makes me fail and lose control (get angry and act stupid), to show me where I am weak, and where I lack. And then, He allows me to make a choice...

Do I use this [fill in the blank 'issue' with in my marriage] to practice self-control and get a grasp on my anger, or do I let it go to waste, and see nothing good out of this bad?

I hope I choose the former more and more, because the latter is a stupid choice.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Who knows?

I actually got my hiney in the bed at 10:30. At 11:30, I got back out of bed. And here I am, at 1:00 in the morning..... and I don't know why. I was tired. I was dozing. But I wanted to go down stairs and make sure the dish washer wasn't spazzing out, because I felt this strange sort of 'shaking' feeling. And of course, while I was down stairs, I decided to grab some water, and call my sis who is working 3rd shift these days. We chat for a bit. And again.... here I am. Doing nothing important.

Ok. Part of me has to sort of assume that I'm sleepless due to the fact that I've been thinking about 'thing's that I should NOT be thinking about. No disclosure will be given; don't ask. It's very personal. But let's just say that the fact that God knows my every thought makes me want to cure my stupid thinking even sooner!

It's so tough being a Christian. The devil just loooves picking on us, and turning something that is probably not even a big deal into a terrible guilt, or putting those 'what if's' into our brains. I just wanna whine, "Leave me alone ya mean ugly devil. Wah!", or act like a child and do some hard core tattle-telling... "God!!!! The devil won't leave me a-loooone, he keeps picking on me, and ITS. NOT. FAIR. Wah!"

I don't know what to do. Not sure how to cure this insomnia. Not sure how to cure my idiot thinking. Not sure if either are even treatable. The brain is what it is. A machine. It won't stop working. My thoughts are forever going. I've prayed about it so much, and really, on the outside, I am so awesome at acting like I'm not phased, or distracted. But I am! And! The thing that is killing me the most? I am not good at keeping stuff bottled up. NOPE. I am a talker, expresser, sort of lay it down and deal with it kind of person. I can't quite recall the last time I dealt with something silently. Literally, I tell my husband everything. He and my sister know every single gorry detail of Amber K. Anderson. I'm mostly a very transparent person. Even to friends, and aquaintences, I am myself... completely. I can't STAND not being able to just BLURT out what is in my head. Ugh!

And thankfully, on this subject, I can talk to my sister a bit. I can't really 'talk it out' fully, the way I normally do, because time doesn't quite make it possible, but I can enough to get the majority of it off of my heavy shoulders. Annoyingly, (again), it's probably not even something that is 'that big of a deal'. It's just on my brain.

Yes. I am so very tired right now. I don't think I'll be making sense to anyone reading this entry. And that's ok. I am a selfish blogger (as noted before) and I tend to write for myself anyway. This is my silent vent.