Thursday, January 31, 2013

Updating on Ethiopia

Hey friends! Just wanted to give you all a little update on our upcoming Ethiopia trip. Time is drawing closer - only 136 or so days left until David and I leave for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We are incredibly excited and are literally counting down the days. We have even gotten the kids excited about this trip and they are now asking how old they have to be to be able to go! I believe the answer to that is 8 or 10, but whatever it is, they will be going as soon as they meet requirements. Team Blevins' passion and heart for serving the people of Ethiopia is only growing more and more by the day and we can't imagine not taking Chloe and Brody with us one day to serve together as a family. How awesome would that be?!?

So, let me take just a moment to update you on how things are going in the fundraising department because God has shown up and shown up BIG! As of now, we are only $969 short of having my entire trip paid for. HOWEVER, we have been promised a donation of $1000 so in all actuality, my trip is paid for and David's balance is beginning to be chipped away at. So what does that mean for us? Well, it means that we have received donations (including the pledge) totaling $2700 thus far. WHAT?!?!?! We only started raising funds 30 days ago. All I can think of when I look at this is the scripture that says: "All glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20). This is for sure more than I ever thought of when I prayed over the first batch of fundraising letters that we sent out.

What else does this mean for us? It means that we still need to raise $2819 but we are trusting in God to supply all of that and we are even asking for an abundance because any and all extra will be used to purchase goats, sheep, chickens, etc...for the Ethiopian families. It will also go towards donkeys for the women to use to transport humongous loads up and down the mountains every day in order to make a tiny amount of income for their families. When I say humongous I mean these sweet ladies carry 200 pounds (literally) on their backs of sticks that are used for building things etc..(picture is below). David said on his last trip there that they stopped a lady headed up the mountain to give her a new pair of shoes and that it took 6 guys to handle the load that this one poor woman was carrying by herself. Can you even imagine?!?

So all of that to say, please please please keep praying about donating to our trip if you haven't already done so. It goes well beyond blessing David and myself into blessing the Ethiopians. And of course, we will always covet any and all prayers for our trip. We can't wait to see what God is going to do and will of course update you periodically so that we can give all the glory back to the only One who deserves it.

This little guy who was an orphan at the time of David's trip is probably 2.5 years old by now. I have no idea of whether he is still in the orphanage or if he has been adopted yet, but isn't he the cutest?!? We will be visiting orphans on our trip by the hundreds.

This is an example from David's last trip of stopping on the side of the road to pass out blessing bags to the children. The bags include shoes, socks, underwear, and and outfit. Look how they line the road! Any extra money we raise will be used to give these blessing bags out as well. David and I will also be packing extra bags of our kids' clothes and shoes to take with us to give out.

Check out these handsome little guys! My heart just breaks thinking about these little boys needing things as simple as underwear and socks and not having them. I just wish I could bring them home to Tennessee with us. Who knows...maybe one day???

This is a lady carrying the heavy load as described above. Think how amazing it would be to be able to give her a donkey to carry this physical load and while we are at it, we could show her what it means to be like Christ and help her see what it means to let Him carry her heavy emotional loads.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Love Hate Relationships

I know you have them. I know everyone has at least ONE love hate relationship. It's okay to admit it. Want to know what one of mine least what my main one is this week? THE KITCHEN!!! I love to hate on my kitchen when it comes to meal times. Let me explain.

Since the new year, I have come up with a new meal planning system that has been working beautifully for Team Blevins. We decided Jan. 1 that we were going to be really careful in our grocery shopping and make stick to a budget at the grocery store. So, of course I consult my favorite website for ideas ( if you had to ask) and I came across a gal's blog that did themed menu planning. I know, I know, you all probably already do this, but on the off chance that you don't know what I am talking about, let me run through mine with you.

First things first - I consulted with the husband and kids and asked what foods they could not live without and what meals are their faves. After I got the point across that they could not live on Bagel Bites, Corn Dogs, Hot Dogs, and NutriGrain Bars forever, we finally came up with this...

Here is what my family said and how our meal plan each week subsequently looks:
1. Mexican Night (tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, etc...)
2. Chicken Night (poppyseed chicken, sweet and sour chicken, almond flour chicken etc...)
3. Crockpot Night or Pasta Night (busiest night of the week)
4. Sandwich and Soup Night (grilled cheese, ham rolls, PBJ, etc with Tomato Soup)
5. Breakfast Night (French Toast, pancakes, egg sandwich, etc...)
6. Pizza Night (which is also family movie night)
7. Leftover Night - eat everything left over from the week...and also for lunches

As for side dishes, it's pretty much the same things each week: green beans, rice, pasta salad, salad, corn, asparagus blah blah blah.
I get every single one of my recipes from pinterest so it is ALWAYS something different for the entree nights each week. If David really really loves a dish, I will star it and cycle it back through a couple of times that month.

So my goal, besides saving money each month on groceries is to eventually get to where I can grocery shop once/month except for milk and produce. I should really be able to do this beginning in March as by then I will have made enough different things to know what are favorites, what are duds, etc... and then I can fill up the calendar and go shopping. Oh, and my other goal...don't tell David (and no worries, he NEVER reads this blog) is to switch all our meals to clean eating recipes. HEE HEE!!! I have to do this slowly because he notices all things healthy and doesn't care for them (hence the bagel bites, corndogs, Frosted Flakes, etc...) but I really think I can do it.

So, where does the love hate come into play? Right here...once I get the groceries home and put away because then it comes the time where I am in the kitchen ALL THE TIME prepping, fixing, cooking, washing dishes, cleaning tables and counters, etc... I like tolerate cooking okay when it is just the cooking... but I HATE all the mess that comes with it. Hence, the love hate relationship.
So I ask, what will make it better? The fact that we have cut $200 off of our grocery bill this month helps a little, but I am thinking that maybe I could have $15 of that money and have a bottle of wine to drink throughout the week while I am slaving away in the kitchen. Fair trade off? I think so!

What are some of your favorite recipes? I'd love to hear them...especially if they are tried and true and clean.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Family Fitness Night

Tonight was Family Fitness Night at Carmel Elementary. It was SO MUCH FUN!!! For the first hour, there were several different stations set up for the kids to go through with the parents so they could show us all the things that have been learning to do. They had sit up, push up and pull up stations. Jump rope, target practice, and balance sections. There were also juggling and some other stations but I can't remember what they were. So, we went through those things and then for the second hour of the event, individual classes from each grade performed for everyone. Chloe's class was chosen as the kindergarten class that performed and I have to say that it was ADORABLE!!!! Like for real adorable. I was so proud of her and her whole class for all that they have learned. I could not stop smiling during the performance (with a few giggles) and thankfully I video-d it for David since he was out of town and couldn't be there.

So, know what that means??? I have a video on here for you all to watch. Chloe has on black pants, a turquoise long sleeve shirt with her Carmel Elementary shirt on over it so look for her :) Oh, and her pink sparkly Hello Kitty shoes... My girl can't go anywhere without some sort of sparkly pink something on. Ha!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Chloe - The COLTS Kid

Chloe just had her second awards ceremony at school this year and while she didn't get perfect attendance since she was in the hospital back in November, she was chosen as the COLTS kid. Each nine weeks, a boy and girl from each class is chosen for this special award. It is given to the kids who display the following traits really well:
C - character
O - opportunity
L - leadership
T - teamwork
S - success

David and I could not be more proud of Chloe for being chosen as the COLTS kid this time. Here are some pictures showing the ceremony. Enjoy!

Chloe with Ms. Sanford - our awesome and amazing Principal

Mrs Campbell's class...Chloe is in the back row...4th kid from the left end

showing off her COLTS kid award - isn't she just adorable?!?

Chloe with Mrs Campbell - the best kindergarten teacher in the world.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Book Lists

So in 2012, I did a lot of reading. My goal was to read a little more fiction this year and not so much intense /thought provoking material that I get out of the non-fiction that I read. I guess I just needed some light reading in between the other stuff. So, here is my list of books that I read, and what is on my list to read this year, and of course my book ratings!

1. No Easy Day - Mark Owen - 4 stars
2. Greater - Steven Furtick - 4 stars
3. Seven - Jen Hatmaker - 3 stars
4. Matched - Ally Condie - 3 stars
5. Where We Belong - Emily Giffin - 3 stars
6-8 Fifty Shade of Gray (trilogy) - E.L. James - 4 stars
9. Wheat Belly - 4 stars
10. The Harbinger - Jonathan Cahn - 5 stars!!!!
11.Love the One You're With - Emily Giffin - 3 stars
12. Growing Up Amish - Ira Wagler - 2 stars
13. Baby Proof - Emily Giffin - 3 stars
14. Something Blue - Emily Giffin - 3 stars
15. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn - 5 stars!!!!
16. Explicit Gospel - Matt Chandler - 4 stars
17. Behind the Veils of Yemen - Audra Grace Shelby - 5 stars!!!!
18. Swim - Jennifer Weiner - 3 stars
19. Heart of the Matter - Emily Giffin - 3 stars
20. A Cup of Friendship - Deborah Rodriguez - 4 stars
21. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - 3 stars
22. Through My Eyes - Tim Tebow - 5 stars!!!!
23. Not A Fan - Kyle Idleman - 5 stars!!!!!
24. What's Eating Your Child? - 4 stars

Only 9 of these books were nonfiction so I did pretty good at finding a good balance. I think out of this whole list, my very favorite nonfiction book was Behind the Veils of Yemen and Not A Fan (it was a tie), and my favorite fiction book was probably Gone Girl. I would re-read these o books for sure!!!!

So, what is on my list for 2013? Well, I don't know yet. I would love some suggestions. Right now I am reading a book my little brother recommended called The Lions of Kandahar about a huge battle that took place in Afghanistan in the same place that he has been for the past year. The book is absolutely amazing. Other than that, I have downloaded Gods and Kings by Lynn Austin. So, shoot me some comments about great books you have read and I should to.