Category Archives: Christianity

May Reading Review

Sorry this is a little late! I’ve been keeping busy and honestly have not wanted to post lately… struggling with how to focus this blog better or to start a new blog or…. not sure. There’s so many blogs out there that I love and honestly I feel like much of what I’d say has already been written. Plus, I don’t particularly feel gifted in writing posts that are interesting to read! Sometimes I feel like I’m just trying to measure up to all those great blogs I love and enjoy, but then I know I won’t measure up but I also know that it’s not even about that! I think trying to focus my blog a little better, maybe have some themes or better organized catagories… all of this could help. Just stuff on my mind… but been too busy (or unmotivated?) to do anything about it yet. ;)

But anywho… moving on to the topic of this post, and it will be a quick one! (Or so I thought…)

Last month I was successful at reading two books. Hooray! Two whole books, from cover to cover. Again, this is a big deal for someone like me who starts 20 books and gets to page 34 or 57 but never to the final page. So for me to start AND finish two books… in one month… a miracle!

The two books that I keep speaking of were Debt-Proof Your Marriage by Mary Hunt and From Clutter to Clarity by Nancy Twigg.

Debt Proof Your Marriage was all around a good book for learning some useful tips on keeping budget and getting out of debt, with a small focus on how this works in a marriage setting. Though much of her references are now dated (she recommended a lot of sites/services that are time sensitive), she did provide some great suggestions. Much of what she taught I either already knew or didn’t really agree with, at least not for this time in our lives. I don’t think I should save up $10K in emergency savings while I’m also working to pay off some significant debt. She differs from the likes of Dave Ramsey in that respect.

BUT, I did really like her view on the 10-10-80 view of money/budgeting. 10% is given away (tithing and other donations), 10% is put in savings, and 80% is for all the rest of your spending (including debt repayment and other short-term savings goals!). Though we do have plenty of debt to dig ourselves out of, I was very much convicted that we are still called to give at least 10% away and reap the blessings of regular giving. It’s our own fault that we got into this debt ditch, so we need to adjust our other 80% to account for our debt payments rather than our debt payment becoming it’s own 10% (actually right now it’s probably a full 20% of our monthly budget…). This really got me excited again to give more to others and see God work! All in all, I enjoyed the book and took away some great insights, but was pretty distracted by some of her dated suggestions and also by her overly conversational tone. I was also left wanting a little more substance in her discussion on how getting and staying out of debt intersects with marriage and the roles of husband/wife. Maybe in another book?

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From Clutter to Clarity… really really liked this one. A book I hope and plan to read maybe once a year. It was quick and to the point, sometimes maybe a little too much, but definitely didn’t avoid the hard and honest truth. The author talks much more about or cluttered minds and hearts than just our cluttered homes, and for good reason, since the outward is really only a reflection of what’s going on inwardly. You’d expect the book to have lists of what to do or not do to live an uncluttered life, but I was glad to see how she always pointed to God and the importance of quieting ourselves before Him, praying more fervently, and leaving out (or sometimes throwing out!) anything in our lives that doesn’t foster our relationship with Him, our spouse, our brothers/sisters, etc. This review really doesn’t do the book justice, so I’ll stop there. Go pick up a copy for yourself or find it at the library… since I probably won’t be giving up my copy anytime soon. :)

Between the book A Place of Quiet Rest and From Clutter to Clarity, I’ve been working hard lately at making it my ultimate and number one priority, every day, to first spend time with the Lord in his Word and in prayer. No excuses!! (Boy does Satan try hard by giving me many excuses!) This has been going pretty well for the last few days (honestly, that’s it so far, but it’s a start!) and I’ve really seen how much this affects the rest of my day. There’s much more I could write about this, but maybe I’ll save that for another post on another day. :)

Focus, Carrie, focus…  (see, I’m learning!)


What’s the point of health, anyway?

As you may have noticed, I changed the name or title or this blog. I haven’t figure out how to change the url yet, but that’s besides the point. These last couple months you’ve probably noticed my focus has become much more based on health and nutrition. I’ve been learning new ways to cook and prepare foods that both help our bodies and help the earth. These have been and will continue to be skills that I know are ultimately for the glory of God.

The last few days, however, I’ve began to see light shown on the ugly sinful places in my heart related to these new endevours. What is any of this good for, if it’s not for the Lord? And I don’t just mean good for our bodies and good for the earth, but beyond that. What are we doing with our healthy bodies that is bringing Him glory? Are we giving of our time and resources to others in need? Are we inviting others into our homes as a place of rest and fellowship? Are we preparing ourselves for possibly beginning a family soon that will be trained in His teachings and purposes? What is all of this healthy knowledg for, other than… health?

I felt so suddenly convicted on the other night to the point of tears. Although I’m loving all this new information and have felt much healthier, at times I’ve also felt so very empty and yearning for more. So much of this has left me feeling so very selfish. Some days I spend more time reading up on blogs and figuring out menu plans and shopping lists than I do reading the Word (happens way more often than I like) or even spending quality time with my husband. What does that say about where my heart’s at? NOT aligned with God’s Word, that’s for sure.

I know there are times for learning and excitement for doing things with wisdom, but I really struggle with moderation with it. Once I’m sold on something, I guess I just go for it and it starts to consume me. But I didn’t really know this about myself until recently, as there hasn’t been many times in my life where I’ve been this excited and motivated to do something that affects my life so much. And the fact that it IS a good thing for myself and my husband, makes it that much easier to go overboard and lose focus on the main thing (….the Lord!).

Another somewhat related endevaur has been growing in our financial wisdom lately. We’ve stopped using credit cards completely, we’ve implemented a great budget/spending system (first pearbudget.com and now YNAB 3 program), we’re working towards paying off all our debt as fast as we can. We’re trying to simplify our lives.  Sounds good, right? (and it is!)

BUT… I need to do this slowly and always always always keep my focus on the Lord. Because if I’m spending 2 hours on our finances and budget and 3 hours reading food blogs each day and an hour finding new cookbooks on amazon and an hour figuring out my next Azure Standard order for this month… how am I ever going to grow in my knowledge and love for the Lord and for his people?

Always growing and learning and being convicted, that’s for sure. I hope that over these next months and years we can use the knowledge we’ve learned to bless others and bring Glory to HIS name, always keeping the focus on him and all he is and has done for us! :)  I don’t want the “For our good” part to become the priority here, but for the glory of God always as #1.


Well hello!

I wonder if I should even try and keep this blog up and running at all! Time sure does fly by. I love to read others blogs and yet absolutely hate to write on my own. There is just so much that I feel I am always learning and trying to squeeze into my days that I never find (or make) the time to reflect on it. Never been much of a writer anyway. I can see how when we have kids how much fun it would be to keep a blog to try and document, if you will, their life through milestones and pictures. And how fun it would be for family to read it regularly. But all I’ve got is me, my husband, our crazy dog, and a house (and two cars)… and nothing terribly exciting going on. We are always growing yet struggling and I find that I have too many other important tasks that I struggle to get to, and this one being just about the last one on my list.

A couple quick updates on life while I’m here…

John is about to start his second full year at Stout after doing AMAZING this past year! I am so proud of him!! :) He also just took the Praxis test yesterday and so far he found out he’s passed two sections already (math being one of them, praise the Lord!!). In a couple days he’ll start off the spring semester where he has to only be at Stout for two days out of the week, rather than three, since he’ll be taking on more online courses instead. He has probably another 3 years to go at Stout, or possibly 2 to 2 1/2 if he keeps working this hard!

I recently visited my best friend Amanda in Alabama whom I hadn’t seen in over 2 years since her wedding! We had such a great weekend together and I wish I could have stayed longer! I got to meet many of her good friends, some more of her family, and see where her family has lived for a long time, places she used to visit back when she lived in MN. I miss her a lot already and will need to start budgeting for another ticket to visit! Now I hope I don’t pick up a cold every time I visit her though, and that it’s actually WARMER down south when I go next time! :)

Speaking of budgeting and the like, another “update” (if that’s what you’d call it even) is that John and I have been trying real hard these past couple weeks and months to get a hold on our finances. I’m sure we’re all always trying to do this, but we’ve been reading books like the Total Money Makeover and setting up a better and (dare I say it?) stricter budget for ourselves. We have goals of getting completely out of debt (including our mortgage, eek!) as soon as possible; like for example, paying off our credit cards by the end of 2011, and then our student loans and car loans by 2013. In order to do this I’ve also taken on a little side business, if that’s even what you’d call it, where I make some commission off of enrolling customers for Melaleuca. I’ve really enjoyed their products and have already made a couple hundred dollars without much work at all. So far so good!

And can I just say how much I hate (and love…) cars?? Moving on…

Otherwise John and I have really been trying to focus on building and sustaining a Christ-reflecting and God-honoring marriage… especially working on becoming more saturated in God’s Word. We have so much to read and to learn, but to always be setting our minds on things that are above, not things that are on earth. One of the reasons we are so focused lately on money is actually so we can free ourselves up to give more. Our poor decisions in the past now are preventing us from experiencing the joy of giving much to others. Of course we will still struggle to say no to things, but we’re working on it and praying for God’s wisdom through it all.

I suppose that’s about it guys… I’m here at work, taking a break from charting, but should get back to it now!


Hope for a “wandering” show

(I know my titles are a bit odd, but I’m trying to be creative… I’m going to be a nurse, not a writer, k? Just remember that.)So my post today is about the show Oprah. I can’t make this long because I have things to get to, but today I watched a very very interesting show about a true story of mistaken identity. Two girls were in a serious car accident two years ago and the coroner made the mistake of identifying the killed victim as the wrong girl. So, the girl that survived was then actually thought to be someone else, since her real identity was now thought to have died. (sounds confusing, sorry).It ended up being a much better show than I expected. See I used to watch Oprah quite often back when I lived with my parents growing up, because my mother watched that and Dr. Phil (before it was just plain trash) quite often and I didn’t think anything of it, in fact I enjoyed them both. Since growing in my faith in Jesus over the past few years has led me to desire to rid myself of my old self and not fill my mind/spirit with things of this world, I’ve lately been trying not to watch the show anymore. Oprah’s new-age spirituality is becoming a big focus of her show and magazine (and the world it seems), so I’ve tried to stay away from letting it seep into my life. But, this show really did catch my attention and I allowed myself to watch it (risky, I know.)Near the end of the show I was very pleased to see and hear the two families that were there, along with the girl that survived, speak of their faith in Jesus and the forgiveness and mercy they’ve received from God through Jesus. This was their answer to why they don’t feel so much bitterness and anger toward God for what happened. I was super surprised that Harpo didn’t cut that part out, because Jesus’ name was definitely proclaimed! Another one of the guests actually quoted scripture! For once truth was told on a show that seems to be going in such a bad direction. The funny (not really) part was Oprah’s responses to anything mentioned about Jesus or Scripture…. she would just make a general overarching feel-good new-age-y statement that didn’t really respond to them clearly pointing to Jesus as their source for their joy and peace in such a difficult season.So I was pretty stoked about this and my next thought was “I wonder if the oprah website actually put those words on their little show feature and didn’t take out the name of Jesus.” Hmmm… so I took a look. Of course, not to my surprise, Jesus’ name was nowhere to be seen. Instead, it said this: ‘Newell says. “I know it’s because of the forgiveness that we have experienced through our relationship and our faith.”‘ Relationship to…. who? Jesus!! I immediately found a way to send a comment to whoever would receive it at Oprah.com and mentioned the inaccurate recording of that man’s words. I doubt they’ll change it or that they’ll even respond, but at least I’ve done what I can. Only good thing I noticed was that they did include the bit of scripture that the other guest said.I probably won’t watch this show much at all anymore, but I’m sure glad perhaps some (millions) of viewers this afternoon heard the truth of Jesus as one true mediator between us dirty sinners and a loving, merciful, holy God. And it always a good reminder how God can use such a worldly show (much like how we’re still sinners, prone to wander from our Shepherd) for His glory.