Sunday, November 30, 2008

Promised Tips

A few tips for those of you who may feel like money is too tight to be a part of The Gift Revolution:

1. Cut down on the "little" luxuries you may take for granted. Better to grab a Starbucks or Jamba Juice half as often, but be able to bless someone else with one when we do.

2. is not the only way to bless. What would you ask for if someone said they wanted to bless you? Would it be money? OK maybe, but not always. If you are in the same boat as me, it might be something like free childcare, a clean car or house, Christmas decorations put up outside, a cooked meal, an encouraging word to keep going even when aliens have invaded your kids, a compliment (for example, "You look great...even though you have spit up on your shoulder, toilet paper hanging from your boot, and roots as black as Cuban coffee. Tell me, Holly, how do you do it all?")

Here's an example: On Thanksgiving, one of our friends held Annie for us and his kids entertained our boys while Chris and I ate, and I really think it was the first meal in a very long time that I have (1) eaten without a kid on my lap (2) actually tasted. It was a huge blessing. To bless someone does not have to include money.

One more: A friend text me today that she was sending me a high money involved, but it made me smile right in the middle of cleaning up spilled spaghettios.

3. Cheat and skip a few things this year so you can be a part of this Revolution.

One thing we are skipping is Christmas cards. Chris and I decided we would rather put Gift Revolution cards in people's hands with a small blessing than one with a picture of our family on it. Small thing, but a way for us to cut back.

Where can you cheat this year so you can bless someone else?

4. Trust God. Make a choice to believe the truth...that your Father owns it all, and can He lavish you tomorrow with a million bucks if He decides to. He wants us to bless others in His Name. He will fund you with the resources you need to make His Name great. Believe that...and pray for strength to walk in that belief even when you don't feel it....or when it looks like there is too much month and too little money. Our employers, our investments, our savings are not the sources of our income...they are just a tunnel by which God provides for us. He has lots of tunnels...don't get hung up on which ones He is going to use to provide for you. Just trust...and leave that to Him to figure out...He can handle it.

5. Finally, remember that you cannot out-give God. For Chris and I, when money gets tight, and we seem to come up empty handed (no pun intended :) with ideas on how to make immediate extra income, we do the only thing we know to do based on this verse....We increase our giving. Invest more in the eternal, and sit back and watch God work in your present. His word will prove true.

Don't let anything stop you from joining the Revolution with us!

Let me know of any ideas/tips you may have.

Join the Revolution!

Our family has had a blast being a part of The Gift Revolution. We are so excited for this opportunity to participate in something so fresh and life changing. What a great time to just focus on others...I for one am glad to get my mind off politics, the crashing economy, our financial pressures and instead focus on giving to others, changing the way people think, and inspiring the world.

Here are a few of the things that Chris and I have been able to do so far (nothing to creative...yet):
(We always leave TGR card so hopefully they will check out the website there we know they will be pointed to Jesus.)

  • left extra tips for waitresses
  • paid for a haircut and tip for someone
  • bought someone's coffee
  • helped a friend in need who needed childcare
  • helped a church member pay the difference she was short on her bills this month
  • ran in 2 races on TGR team and had the boys pass out candy canes and say "Merry Christmas" to those at the race.
  • gave breakfast to the early birds on Black Friday as they were waiting in line at Target and Best Buy (we were up at 3am...I cannot believe people get up that early to shop!!) We had so much fun. Everyone was shocked that we were feeding them for free. To top it all off, one of the guys in our group had the idea that once the store opened we should go back and clean up the trash everyone left behind as they stood in line waiting for hours. The managers were so thankful and surprised...It was great. Except, for the fact that I stuck my hand in someone's half eaten bowl of soup..I'm not just talking about my fingers was a full covering of the entire hand. Disgusting. Every time I think about it, I wash my hands again or grab some sanitizer. I have gone through 2 bottles of hand sanitizer since then and still feel gross. :)
I want to encourage you all to check out the website and jump on board with us if you haven't already. I promise you will be blessed immensely and you will enjoy this Christmas season more than ever before. We ARE going to change the world, and we don't want anyone to miss out!!

Tomorrow (hopefully), I am going to post a few suggestions for those of you who feel like money is too tight to join us or who are stressing because you want to be a part, but feel like you have nothing to give.

Until then, remember what Paul said and be encouraged:

1And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace (the favor and spiritual blessing) that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own.

2 Corinthians 8:1-3

Friday, November 28, 2008

Fashionista Friend

OK, in follow-up to my shopping finds post, I thought I would send you to my friend's blog. she is a true fashion expert, and she has posted some great fall fashions for those of us who need a little assistance. Check it out, and I swear, if it is on her blog, it's in style (sorry, Paige, but she does have skinny jeans on there!)

I really think she must look at me all the time and think, "Good try, Holly, but not quite." :) Keep posting tips, Heather....I'm a good pupil...I'll get better.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gift Revolution

Hey Guys, I don't have much time at all, but if you read this today, you totally have to check out my church's internet campus at 5:00pm tonight. We just had the best weekend service EVER and they are going to do it one last time online at 5:00. YOU HAVE TO SEE IT.......I promise you won't want to miss was the best church service I have ever been to!! CHECK IT OUT!

If you read this after 5:00 today, check out for a glimpse of what's being launched at here in South Florida and at many other churches around the world!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Shopping Finds

Faith and Paige wanted to see some of my finds from Express and I thought it would be fun to play along.

A few things you should know first: I am on a budget, on top of that...I am frugal ( I will never buy anything that is not on sale), I try to look stylish when I can...but I have been pregnant or transitioning from pregnancy for the last 4 years, so I am just getting back into noticing and caring about fashion. I just say all that to say I try, but I am sure I screw it up often. That's OK...I'm me...and I won't wear something I don't like, so even if I screw it up fashion wise, I still like it.
I go for 2 types of casual looks ALWAYS:
The 1st look: very comfy and casual stay-at-home mom who wants to look somewhat stylish, but HAS to be able to bend down and play with kids or carry them without being uncomfortable or immodest. Most days I prefer gym clothes. Mostly, because I have convinced myself that if I just put them on, I will make a point to the gym sometime during the day.

2ND look: Dressy casual. I Prefer blue jeans with something, but will take it up a notch or two for church or date nights with Chris.

OK--Here's what I got (all for $100. I also had a coupon for $30 off any $100 purchase.)
Long purple striped shirt/dress...$14.99

I paired this shirt/dress with leggings and a pair of black flats. I really liked the look, but it totally broke my bend down with the kids and still be modest rule. This outfit did not work out too well at the kids thanksgiving program today. I was carrying Annie and helping the boys...every time I would reposition Annie on my hip or bend down to wipe the boys face, I felt like the dress would hike up way to high. I was having to tug on this constantly. Not recommended for mom's who are still carrying kids, unless you get a day out without the kids, then it would be great.

Pink graphic tee....$19.50
Skinny leopard belt...$12.99

I love this tee and belt. I am going to wear the belt over the tee with dark skinny jeans and either my knee-length black boots (on the outside) or these copper heels. I like the look with the heels, but I would have to roll the jeans. I know that I have seen jeans with a small roll all over mannequins and in magazines. I just am not quite sure I can pull it off. What do you guys think... heels or boots? Have you attempted the small roll again? I hate it with those converse shoes, but I think it will look nice with heels...I think.

The sales associate told me to wear this tee with black jeans, but I don't have black dark blue it is...I hope it works :)

Oh yeah, this tee was on the mannequin with a sweet short black jacket, but the jacket wasn't on sale and definitely not in the budget, so I am going to wait. But if you have a short black jacket and a scarf you can pair with a cool tee, it did look great.

knee length cream sweater...$49.00

OK, this one was a splurge for me, but I justified it because I had a $30 coupon. So it really was only $19.99.

This was Chris' favorite. It's really pretty...has these gold flecks in it that make it look holidayish.

I am going to wear this with brown leggings and either my short brown boots or those copper heels again.
Casual red 3/4 sleeve top...$12.99

This one is nothing to brag about, but it is super comfy and great for running a few errands in before I head to the gym.

What do you think of my finds? Did I do OK without my sisters? Tell me now...because I still have the tags on everything...I can take it back if I need to! I am excited about them..I practically doubled the amount of clothes I have that fit (not quite, but close!)

One day soon I will share my frugal shopping tips with you, but here's one for now: If you like the legging look, it's great because it is super comfy, in style, and cheaper (you don't have to buy the bottom half :). Oh, and don't buy your leggings at the mall. You can get those at Target for $6.99.

Last thing: If you are trying something new and not quite sure about it: The best thing to do is act confident!! Don't act like you're not sure...Be confident about it and usually (I can't promise for sure!) you can pull it off.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Random thoughts

Sorry for the prolonged absence...I will spare you my excuses, but know that I have plenty :)

  • It is cold in South Florida this week!! I am not kidding we have been wearing hoodies all week...Right before I moved here, I gave away every piece of winter clothes I owned except one maternity hoodie.....I me stupid, but I figured it's MIAMI, surely I won't need winter clothes. If you see me regularly and have been wondering, NO I AM NOT PREGNANT...I'm just cold!
  • I am nervous for Max tonight. He has a thanksgiving program at school tomorrow and he's Squanto. I don't know what he has to do for the program, but the last time he got on stage he looked so miserable it just about broke my heart (I really thought he was going to vomit right there in front of everyone). I hope he does well...he wants so bad to be on stage...but it makes him very nervous. I keep telling him to look for me and just talk like he is talking to me. Chris keeps telling him, "Max, you have to feel the fear and do it anyways." :) Isn't that hard? To let go and watch while you allow your child to wrestle through their fear because you know it will make him stronger?... Makes me want to puke with him.

Here he is at his last program: Doesn't he look pathetic? And trust me, this is the best picture, I deleted the killed me just to look at them.

  • I stink at shopping alone. Since moving down here, I have learned this the hard way. I regret that I have spent many hours trying on hundreds of things in malls only to return home empty handed. It is so frustrating. Well, tonight, I could not take putting on one of my 5 shirts that actually fit again. So, I ran to the mall while Chris stayed home with the kids. This time I was on a mission. I had only one hour and a small budget. I went right to an associate in Express and said, "OK, here's the deal...I have this coupon, this much money, and I usually shop with one of my 3 sisters or mom, but they aren't here....and I need help. Desperate help....and honest feedback." She looked at me like I was crazy, but she obliged and help me put a few cute things together.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Good Work....In Progress

At church tonight a dear friend of mine shared with me that she really "blew it" today as a mom. Boy, can I relate to that. I hate that feeling. As she was sharing her mothering struggles with me, this picture came to mind (I saw this when I was in Nebraska and loved it):

What a comfort it is to know that even when we've "blown it" our God is not giving up on us. He will finish in us what He started....a good work! Just some days are worse than others aren't they? Some days I feel like that "good work in me" is under so much construction that I should wear a sign on my back that states: WARNING: Hard Hats Required. :)

Be encouraged today that God never gives up on you....and you shouldn't give up on you are a good work in progress.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Boys

  1. Did you know both my boys can pee in the same toilet at the same time? The first time I discovered this in action, Max said "Look, Mom, isn't this cool--we're sharing." What do I say to this? Sometimes I have no idea how to mother boys. "Um yeah, Max that is cool. You are being good boys sharing the toilet." I know...lame, but they are pretty proud of this self taught (maybe daddy taught--I'm not sure yet) accomplishment.
  2. A few days ago Max broke something trivial and says to me, "I'm sorry I broke this mom, but we can call Mr. Allldo and ask him to fix it."
    Me (feeling a little defensive that he said Mr. Aldo and not Chris): "We'll just ask daddy to fix it when he gets home from work.
    Max: "I think we should call Mr. Allldo because Bianca says her daddy can fix anything."
    Me: (Feeling really defensive by this point): "Well, Max, your daddy can fix anything too. And next time someone tells you that their dad can fix anything, you're supposed to say, "My daddy can fix anything your daddy can fix.""

    I know....I'm not in kindergarten anymore.
  3. Yesterday while playing with a play pizza set and talking to himself, I overheard Jack occasionally yell, "God" (like he was calling for him). After doing this for a few minutes he storms into my bathroom exasperated and explains to me: "Mom, I keep calling God cuz...cuz He's pizza is weddy and He not comin. He needs a spankin. Go get Him and spank Him.

    You tell me: How do you explain that one to a 2 year old?
  4. Did you know that when mad at each other little boys can just smack each other and be done with it? No prolonged emotional agony....just smack each other and continue on playing together. Why can't girls be a little more like that?
  5. Final thing....See this pic:

My boys are supposed to be in bed. When I went to check on them, I found this bench moved into their doorway. When I questioned what they were doing, Max says, "Mom you can't walk in our gate. You need your sticker to pick us up." (He's referring to the security sticker you have to have at church to pick the kids up...I hate to admit we have learned this lesson the hard way!) :).

Oh, my boys, they make me laugh time and time again.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Grateful Part II

Another thing I found myself thanking God for during my time in Nebraska was time alone with my mom (that is, if you consider me, my mom, and my 3 kids alone...I do!) And no, Mom, in case you are thinking that I am just trying to keep you from feeling left out after my last're wrong:). If you happened to grow up in a large family then I know you would agree that time alone with one parent is a rare occasion. I had so much fun just being with my mom. Normally, when I am with my mom we (my mom and her 4 daughters) take care of all our "girly things". We get our hair done, get pedicures, go to coffee, shop-- and maybe a few other things I won't post :). I didn't know if we would know what to do with ourselves on a farm a ways away from anything "prissy". But man, we had a blast! We talked, we baked, we cooked (OK, well, she cooked and I talked :), we shopped, we carved pumpkins, we ate (Boy did we eat!! I had 3 home cooked meals every day....The last time that happened had to be during my high school years when I was still at poor husband and kids!)

My mom is such a woman of God and she definitely has the gift of wisdom, so it was such blessing to have her ear and insights for an entire week. AND we actually got a little shopping in too!

Thanks Mom, for a great week. I am very grateful for all energy and time you put into cooking and caring for us, cleaning up after us, and arranging for the kids to have each day jam-packed with new experiences. You would be proud of me too--I felt so guilty with every bite of those 3 home cooked meals each day, that I have stepped up my game in the kitchen at home. I have limited protein bars to only one meal a day (I know, it is boys are hooked on high school musical protein bars)! I actually made eggs the other night (yes, night...breakfast remains the one protein bar meal) and Max, says, "Mom, this is the best supper you've cooked"....and the worst part...Chris says, "I agree"! EGGS, Mom...the best thing I've ever cooked. How pathetic. You will see a new me by Christmas. That's right. You can take me off the ice, dinner rolls, and paper product list...I am going to blow you away with the new kitchen- friendly me :).

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P.S. I know I have posted a gazillion pics on my last few entries...but I can't figure out how to do a slide show...I'm going to keep working on it though!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Grateful Part I

Our trip to Nebraska was amazing. The entire week I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I was reminded over and over that God loves us, that He enjoys blessing His children with all sorts of fun things, and that He will meet every need and fill every void in our lives. Simple truths, I know, but ones that were reiterated to me during my time in Nebraska. One of the main things for which I am grateful is Gene. Gene is my mom's new husband....I thank God for him.

Gene, I know you will never read this, but just in case you decide to turn on your computer.....I want to say thank you. Thank you for jumping in and receiving my kids just as if they were your own grand kids.
I hate death. I hate that you and mom both lost the person in this world most precious to you. I hate that I lost my dad and my kids lost their grandfather....I hate that your family lost their mother and grandma....I hate that there is a little heartache in each of us at all times because of the loss of my dad and your Martha. But this past week I was reminded of God's goodness through you.
God is so good to us. This week I found myself overwhelmed with emotion time and time again: when I would see my children's face as they were in your arms, when I would see my mom's face in your company, when I would feel the peace in your home...God has used you to fill many of those voids that death so fiercely left us with when dad died. Thank you for embracing all of us. I distinctly remember a conversation I had with mom once when you two first started talking. She said she was going to wait to tell you how big our family was. I didn't get it. I said, "Why would you do that? He would probably love to know that you have you 5 kids, 4 son-in laws, and 6 awesome grandchildren....I think most people would consider that a huge blessing." She said, "Holly, I think most people would consider that a lot of baggage!" :) Thank you for not treating us like baggage :). Thank you for loving and serving us in multiple ways: By teaching my boys so many new things, by allowing them to tag along and "help" even when I know it made things much harder and slower for you, by holding Annie until she fell asleep in your arms time and time again, by letting me tell you things about my dad, by praying for us by name everyday, by introducing us as family to your church, by fixing fresh coffee every hour :).

I am reminded of this verse: Isaiah 40:11
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

Thank you for being Jesus' hands to us.....for gathering our kids in your arms, carrying them close to your heart, and gently leading our family. We love you.

Here's a letter from Max:
Papa Gene,
Thank you for letting us go to the farm. My favorite part was feeding Abe. I loved riding him too. I love you. My daddy laughed when I gave him the pheasant's fetter (feather), foot, and tail from you. Mommy and I laughed really hard too. Thank you for letting me pee outside in the snow.
I miss you and Grandma.
Love, Max