Foodie Friday

LogosMenu Planning: do you do it? If not, why? I plan our family’s menu around my husband’s paychecks. Since he gets paid every two weeks, I only go grocery shopping every two weeks. This allows me to stay on budget and not overspend on groceries. Another great thing about menu planning is that I am not starring into a pantry and refrigerator at 5pm everyday wondering what I can piece together. I choose what we will eat each morning and pull the meat out when I wake up to thaw. 

It’s Friday!! Whoop Whoop! I haven’t begun to menu plan for us for the next two weeks so I am going to give you our last cycle. When throwing yours together be sure to think of easy meals for days that you know you won’t have time or energy and always have a meal on hand (frozen pizza or spaghetti) for those days that you can’t get it together in time.

1. CrockPot Zupa Toscanna
2. Tex Mex Beef Wraps (two meals)
3. Meatloaf and Rosemary potatoes (Prep and Freeze Meal)
4. Roasted Red Chili Crock Pot Stir Fry
5. Beef Stroganoff
6. Baked Potato Soup
7. Oven Fried Chicken, corn, and my favorite roasted asparagus
8. Crock Pot Ranch and Onion Flavored Roast
9. Chicken Fajitas and salsa
10. Arroz con Pollo
11. Chicken Salad
12. Crock Pot wings and wedges
13. Leftovers
14. Leftovers

The Things Lunch Menu is being provided by MOMables for the next few weeks! Have you seen their product? I am getting the Gluten Free Menu delivered to my inbox! One less thing for me to come up with! I love it!

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Gluten Free Crock Pot Ranch and Onion Roast

We have just ended a budget series and one of the things that helps set the stage for success is having a plan. Menu planning definitly keeps me on target and in budget. Tomorrow is Foodie Friday. I will share my 14 day menu plan with you to give you some ideas. To the right of my blog is a Menu Plan button. Clicking that button takes you to the menu plans listed on this site.

Have a plan for the weekends. I don’t know about you, but Thursdays are my Friday. I am so ready for some downtime on Friday that cooking is the last thing I want to do. The same can be said for my Sundays. We don’t get home from church until after 1pm. By the time I get everyone down for a nap it’s 3:00 pm. Time to start dinner. No fun. So, I try to plan crock pot meals for Fridays and Sundays. We all need rest on Sunday so let your crock pot do the work for you. I just so happen to have a great recipe to get you started this weekend. *wink*

Crock Pot Ranch And Onion Flavored Roast
Author: Tara Norman
Ingredients:

1 tbsp dill

1 tbsp thyme

1 tbsp garlic minced or salt (I used freshly ground salt)

1 package of GF French Onion Soup Mix (dry or both)

6-8 small red potatoes

GF Chicken or Beef Broth (pour in enough to reach the sides of the roast)

1-2 pound boneless chuck roast ( any kind of roast will do- this is a cheaper roast).

Put your roast and potatoes in first. Add seasoning. Pour in broth to desired level. Cook on low for 6-8 hours and let it go.
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Budget Series Part 4: In The Meantime….

In case you are just finding me I have been writing about budgets and paying off debt. This is the fourth and final post (for now wink, wink) about budget. Today we are going to talk about in the meantime…

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Photo Credit

Philippians 4:6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

You have a budget, a plan to pay off debt, but what do you do in the meantime? Do you feel overwhelmed by the length of time it’s going to take you to pay off debt? Do you feel discouraged? Yes and yes. I do too. It didn’t take us long to get into this mess, but it is taking forever to get out of. We are the generation of now. Our kids will be the generation of- I needed that yesterday. Think about it. We have everything at our fingertips now. There is no waiting. We used to wait to receive a paper check and have to wait to take it to the bank, then wait for it to clear. Now checks are automatically deposited and the money is available the same day. We used to have to wait until we got home to call someone. Now we just use a cell phone that goes everywhere with us. I could go on with examples, but you get the point. We no longer wait or expect to have to wait on anything. How many times have you been mad at your spouse because they didn’t pick up the phone with you called their office? You didn’t leave a message but instead called their cell. When they didn’t pick that up you sent a text or email. Businesses treat their employees the same way. We have lost patience. We don’t leave messages any longer. Instead we try the four methods of contact (email, cell phone, text, and social media) to get an immediate answer. Because we don’t/don’t have to exercise patience in any other area of our life, we are out of practice. Paying off debt requires a lot, I repeat, a lot, of patience. When Thing 2 was little I tried to teach him patience. I use to tell him to hold onto his patience. He would form his hands into fists. As he sat waiting on his sippy cup to be refilled or our line to move forward in the grocery store I would ask if he needed more. “Yes, more!” I would reach in my pocket and grab some patience and give them to him. If he was really running low on patience I would pretend to feed them to him. They went straight to his belly and he would give me 2 more minutes. God has prepared us a meal of patience in His word. Philippians 4:6 says ,”Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” His word is full of meals of patience. Matthew 6:25-34, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” What’s my point? When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, discouraged, or down, feed yourself with the word of God. Wait on the Lord! Psalm 27:14, “Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.”

Malachi 3:10

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LordAlmighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

In the meantime… be faithful and obedient. Tithe. Give your first fruits, 10%, to God. Holy cow do I know how painful it was the first time we tithed a full 10%! I know that reluctance, I know that thought of really? That’s like a car payment! Been there. It doesn’t matter. It was never yours to begin with. Tithing is what God tells us to do. It doesn’t matter if we don’t feel like it. We simply choose to obey or not. God can’t release His financial blessings over you until you obey. Which leads to me our story. When we first moved to Texas, one of my prayers to God was that we would get out of debt so I could be a SAHM (stay at home mom). I was a project manager in my former life in the business world. Big surprise there, right? When we moved, I got a job as a temp at a big company. God blessed me with a raise in my salary that was about 30k more than I was making in Florida. I knew it was not because I was that sought after, or that good at my job: I knew it was God. Only God. I told the Man I felt we needed to tithe my whole first paycheck (all 100% of it) as a seed in paying off our debt. He looked at me like I was nuts. We really needed that paycheck to jump start our debt buster. We prayed and both felt that was what needed to happen so when I got my first paycheck, the entire paycheck went in the tithe. Within three months God blessed us with another 20k raise and a job down the street from my home working at the same place as the Man. If you are keeping track I had now moved up to almost 50k in my salary because of our obedience to move to Texas and to tithe my first check as a seed. It. was. awesome! We were paying off debt super fast! Then I got pregnant with Thing 2. God was pouring out the blessings left and right. Five months into my pregnancy with Thing 2 I was laid off. My current job was relocating to Seattle. I was given the opportunity to move with it, but knew that was not God’s plan. I received a severance and that was that. I remember everyone at work talking about the girl who got laid off and she was 5 months pregnant. Weird to hear people talking about you, around you, and they have no idea you are that girl. We were so close to paying off our debt. We got discouraged for a few weeks with our lack of understanding. But God. He took care of it all and within a few months He showed us where we had money and we were CC debt free. It never made sense to us on paper how we did it so fast because it was never our doing, it was always God. He is the one who made it happen. We can not alone. You do need help. You need God’s help. Be faithful, pray, tithe, and be purposeful with your money.

Paying off debt and living debt free is a way of life. It means making sure you have a plan for everything including meals and snacks. Thus why I menu plan. You cannot go to the store and spend your money wisely without a plan: otherwise, you are roaming the aisles, putting meals together in your head on the fly, throwing way more snacks than you need in your buggy and just overdoing it financially. When shopping, always look at the very top or the very bottom of the shelves for the product you desire. Never the middle or the end of the aisle. The most expensive items in that product line are located there. The grocery store is set up for the unplanned shopper. That is a fact. There is an entire industry built around consumer behavior and every major retail company has a per sale goal that they are using their science against you to attain. Ever wonder why your Target bill is always $75-$100?

If you menu plan, you will find that you won’t do the five o’clock stare into the pantry and refrigerator. You won’t wonder what to pack your kids for lunch every morning. You won’t have to worry about what to give your toddler for a snack in the middle of their 4 o’clock melt down. I have four kids and I homeschool which means I have to plan ahead for every meal and every snack. I get tired, unmotivated, and burnt out. When I menu plan I throw in at least 4 quick easy meals. Most of the time those are meals that can go in my crock pot. I do make snacks and lunches ahead of time, or least prep what I can the night before. I often spend my Saturday morning making the bread, the muffins for breakfast, or the breakfast bars for the following week. I didn’t say this is easy. Planning ahead allows me to resist the urge for quick fixes. Quick fixes meaning fast food, take out, and delivery. Plan and budget for big ticket items that are coming up: Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, and vacations. Planning ahead changes your perspective. Instead of winging it and throwing it on a credit card, you are now in control and telling your money where to go each paycheck. You have a plan.

Pray over every check you send out. Over the weekend we paid off a credit card that we have grown to loathe (I am sure we all have that one)! This company was so sneaky that they kept lowering the minimum payment so that the interest each month was greater than the minimum payment. We were paying them money to go further in debt each statement (KEEP AN EYE ON THAT). It was so exciting to pay that final payment. Inside my head I was doing backflips and a jig. Physically the noose around my neck got a little looser and my shoulders feel a little lighter. Before you click confirm on that computer screen or lift that flag on the mailbox, pray together. Even if it is over the phone. Thank God that He brought you through that debt and ask for continued strength and guidance as you wait to be delivered from the next.

There is one more thing I want to share with you that we do. When the Man receives a bonus each year we tithe our 10% and then we give the Things a small bonus. We look at our family unit as a team. We all support the Man all year long while he works hard to provide for us. When the bonus comes we give a small reward to our Things for being supportive and to show them that this is a family effort. They each receive a determined amount that they can then spend on whatever they want within their budget. They look forward to this every year and it teaches them patience, budgeting, and rewards them for being part of our family team. The rest of this year’s bonus went towards immediate needs and debt. I never. ever. let it sit. Ever. Not when there is debt to be paid. It’s too easy to spend that money on other things that you can justify and get off track. The devil is sitting on your shoulder waiting for your weakest moment to whisper a little something in your ear about spending it here… or wouldn’t it be nice if we… if I had a few hundred I could… DON’T FALL FOR IT! Have a plan and tell your money where to go as soon as you get it!

In closing, I want you to know you are not alone. Don’t be ashamed because you are in debt. Instead, be proud because you are on this journey and have a plan to get out of it. Remember to pray, go to God to be “fed” some patience, and stick with it. As always, I am here to bounce ideas off of and listen. I can’t do it for you but I can pray with you while you go through it. Purpose to be debt free and in the meantime plan and pray. You can do this! I promise! Wait on the Lord and have patience to see it through! God bless.

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Budget Series Part 3: A Finance Binder

Good morning! I met Ashley on Instagram a few weeks ago. When I started the budget series she mentioned she was updating her finance binder. I asked if she would write up a post about how to put together a binder for those of you who may prefer to have your information in a binder versus a spreadsheet. Ashley is super sweet and you can find her over at Ashbloom.

Today, I have finished compiling my finance binder! Woohoo! If you know me, you know that I LOVE organization. This binder is key to success at managing finances. Have you ever forgot to pay a bill. Life gets hectic with the kids and work and sometimes we miss these things! I wanted to let you know that you are not alone! The bills that aren’t always fresh on my mind are the auto draft bills. My financial life has become less complicated since we started using www.mint.com (financial budgeting website). I have the app on my phone so that I can have access any time. It sends me weekly reminders via email and pops up messages on my phone when I haven’t read my “alerts” (essentially, reminders that you have a bill coming up. I balance my checkbook pretty much on a daily basis. I like to know to the penny what is coming in and going out. I guess that is why my husband hired me to be his bookkeeper for his business! I loved Accounting when I was in high school! I finally decided to take our personal finances up a notch by starting a finance binder. It merely keeps me more organized and on top of things. First, you just need a simple three ring binder. I recommend a 2 inch binder at least! You can design the cover however you please! Here’s a pic of my cover:

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Next, I inserted a poly zip envelope….This was a pain to find in stores! I finally found at Office Max for $2.19. This is a great place to store pens, pencils, extra tabs, calculator, highlighter, etc. All the necessary supplies will be at your fingertips!

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After the poly envelope, I put a spiral notebook in the binder. Note, mine will be changed to college ruled! I like to write small! This notebook will be used for any notes that I may need to jot down.

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I bought some sheet protectors that will be perfect for storing my stamps, return address labels, and envelopes inside my binder. I blurred out the bottom part, didn’t want to make my address public!

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After these pages, I printed a blank calendar from my computer, and inserted into a sheet protector in my binder. I also purchased a planner from Target on clearance for $2.98 to keep with my binder. This way I can see the months ahead. Inside my binder, I only do one month at a time. Each month I will be cleaning out my binder and filing away all my important papers. The main goal is to be organized. Yes, I am OCD to the max, but you can do it on a level that you are comfortable. I will be going through the calendar and writing the bills that are due on each day. After I make the payment, I am going to highlight them with a marker. Don’t forget to write down your auto draft payments here! Notice, I am starting fresh with March! Most of my February bills are paid, so I figured that starting in a new month would be best for me! Do what works for you!

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I’ve included a “Get It Done” printable that I found on the internet. This is for me to keep track of what I need to accomplish!

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Next, I found a weekly printable that will help me keep track of each individual week. I printed one out for each week in the month and filed in my folder using index dividers.

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At the very back of my binder, I have a poly button folder that I can use to hold bills that come in that need to be paid. Once I pay a bill, I’m going to use a three hole punch and put the bill in my folder under the corresponding week and mark paid. I already write the check number for each bill I pay on the actual bill. This way, it will be filed in my folder within reach if I need it!

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Don’t get me wrong, I love Excel! I don’t have this program on my Mac at this time, so that’s why I am using the printables. Trust me, I LOVE SPREADSHEETS!!! This way is just a fast, simple way to put together a binder and become more efficient at managing your money!

I hope this was beneficial to you! Please comment if you have any questions! Also, I love it when people share their suggestions with me! I hope each of you have a blessed day! Happy budgeting!

Love in Christ,

Ashley

Budget Series Part 2: Creating a Debt Buster

The rich rule over the poor,and the borrower is servant to the lender.
Proverbs 22:7

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Matthew 17:20

In case you are just finding me, this is part two of a budget series I am running on my blog. This part is about how to create a debt buster. I started with the intention of just writing two posts about budget and debt. I have at least two more on the horizon. Turns out there is more I wanted to share than I initially thought! Let’s just dive right in today, shall we?

If you are in debt, even a little, you understand the pull of the noose from debt. It sucks the joy, the fun, the hope right out of your world. It can seem like no matter how much you plan or how much you put towards a debt, it never seems to make a dent. The devil will tell you there is no hope so why even try. Been there. Twice actually. The Man and I know first hand what it is like to be debt free. The freedom, the joy, the huge, huge strain that is lifted from your marriage. From your life. As I type now, we are on our second journey to wiping out our debt. We hope to be completely debt free of credit card and student loan debt by next spring. The first go around we never paid off college loans. If you will be prayerful, purposeful, mindful, and obedient, you will get out of debt. I will talk more about that when I wrap up this series. First, let’s talk about your plan for a second. Now that you have a clear picture of your income versus spend every pay check you can lay out a clear plan of attack. First order of business is to trim the fat. What is fat? Cable, land lines for phones, nails, pedicures, coffees, movies, eating out… all of that is fat. Trim it off. Secondly, in order to be really serious and really committed you have to get in the frame of mind to really truly pay off your debt. What do you mean? I am all about getting rid of my debt. Really? Then cut up your credit cards right now. Stop reading this post and go do it before you talk yourself out of it. As long as that plastic is still whole, you will mentally use those cards as your back up system, your bail me out money. Don’t believe me?

Look, this is our second go around with this. I can tell you exactly where we went wrong. We paid off credit card debt BUT 1.)didn’t keep with the Dave Ramsey plan after we paid off our CC debt. We did NOT continue to build savings, start college funds, and pay off our home. 2.) We didn’t cut up our credit cards because we knew we could both restrain from using them. That is, until we got scared. Two years ago the Man took a HUGE step in faith and left his job. We had just had Thing 3. He was a newborn, literally 5 weeks old, when the Man left his job. Without a back up job. That job was tearing us apart and turning him into a man of fear who made his job his idol. We prayed for 7 solid months for God to only open one door for him to walk through. We were afraid we would take the wrong job. Seven months! Out of fear, we started using our credit cards. We had money in our accounts but he had just quit his job in the absolute worst economic climate of our lifetime. No one was crazy enough to walk away from a job during that time. We received confirmation from God that it was time for him to leave and so we obeyed and he left his job two days later. We trusted God to bring us through it, but we used our credit cards just in case. Fear. Fear. Fear.

Do Not Fear! It is the most repeated verse in the Bible. It is said at least 365 times in the Bible. One time for every day of the year. Fear will make you do or not do a lot of things. If we had continued with what God had told us to do in the beginning, pay off our debt (including our home), we would not have used those cards to begin with. Fear took over. We knew about fear. We had faith enough to obey, we had confidence enough that God would provide, but fear allowed us to justify using the cards. *Shaking my head* You could build a sermon around our story. Really. Just cut up the credit cards. If you are going to trust God to pull you through this, then trust God to pull you through.

Now that you have shredded your plastic let’s make a plan. I am a person who likes simple organization. I don’t like complicated things that take me forever to figure out or put together. The simpler, the better. What that means for you is that you are going to build a debt buster plan from the very same spreadsheet you created your budget from. I like to see an immediate picture, an overall picture, and a future outline of what and when. This is a snap shot of our very first Debt Buster. Again, if you click on the picture it will be enlarged for you.

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The first tab of the Debt Buster Spreadsheet is a summary tab that reflects the total debt for each credit card, the starting balance of each card (start column), the ending balance (current), and the annual percentage rate (APR). To the right of each card (Payment plans) I was using each row to estimate how long it would take to pay off each card with each paycheck. At the bottom of the spreadsheet is a running total showing us how much was left in debt by adding all the ending balances together. Use the formula =sum(Cell number to start adding + cell number to end adding). That formula will auto calculate your totals for you. Why did I include the starting balance of each card? Well, I am a visual person. I need to see progress to feel progress. I hope that makes sense. I need to be able to look back at where we started and say, “Wow! Thank you, Lord!”

The rest of the spreadsheets in the workbook entails a tab for each credit card. We created a column for date payment paid (Date), the amount paid (Payments), and the remaining amount owed. At the top of the tab we noted the starting balance and the annual percentage rate of that particular credit card. As we paid off each card, we turned the tab green to show it was PIF (paid in full). Dave’s plan of attack with credit cards is to start with the smallest debt to the largest. Snowballing the payments into the next debt and the next debt and so on. Thus he calls this step the “debt snowball”. His logic is that getting out of debt is an emotional process not a logical process and seeing debts fall off gives you the momentum to keep going. We have followed his method as a whole, but at times we have cheated to pay off a higher APR debt out of order to the original plan. Choose the method that gives you the most motivation.

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This should help you start to visualize and create how you want your debt buster to look like, what you want to see, and what order you want to pay off your debt. Sometimes creating a plan is the hardest part. Hopefully this helped you get over that hurdle and get you on your way. For those who get pay checks every two weeks, there are two times in the year that you get an extra pay check. This month and again in August. As you budget and plan be sure to have those extra pay checks (if you receive them) already accounted for in your debt buster. That is what I like to call chunk change. You can throw it at one debt and make a dent! Take a look at your pay schedules for the rest of the year so you can have a better grasp of it all and can prepare for those moments to throw chunk change at your debt.

I have decided to write a third post in the budget series about what we did with chunks change that would come in from stock, income tax returns, or bonus’. I will also talk about how planning ahead is a life style when you decide to be debt free. Tomorrow I will have a guest blogger, Ashley, share how she is tracking her families’ finances and debt using a binder instead of a computer.

As part of our journey we read a number of books on money. We found that Dave Ramsey’s teachings are some of the best out there.

Finally, one more resource you will want to know about is mint.com. It’s the new online tool that helps you keep track of all of your accounts, spending, and debt automatically. Go to Mint to watch the video and see if it’s something that could be your solution.

I am here to offer suggestions and encouragement in this journey. I can show you how we did it and what worked for us, but in the end, it is yours to play with and make your own. Please feel free to come to me with questions and suggestions.

I love to hear from my readers. Sometimes there are crickets out there. If you haven’t yet, please sign up to have my posts sent directly to your email account. The field to do so is directly under the Mommy Blogger Button!

Be My Valentine: Marriage Challenge Week 4

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Who is still with me? This is the final week. Can you believe we have been working on our marriages and changing our family life for four weeks now? Praise God! This week’s post from Courtney was about setting the right expectations of our spouses and giving back.

Philippians 2:3 &4 says “Do nothing out of selfish ambitionor vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

I am about to say something that I know more than a few of you will agree with. *clearing throat* I think Valentine’s Day on Facebook is a lot like Pinterest. If you are not careful, it can set up unrealistic ideas for us as wives. We look at the newsfeed and see dozen after dozen of beautiful flowers, candy, stuffed animals and cards. Then when the doorbell doesn’t ring, or we get just a card, we feel let down and disappointed. You woke up happy with your husband, expected nothing, he leaves for work, comes home unaware of the countless photos on Facebook you have been fantasizing over, hands you a card and there it is. Disappointment. Forget that you know your financial situation and agreed to not do anything this year. Forget that you got roses last week instead. No, none of that comes to mind or matters because, “IT’S VALENTINE’S DAY!! And everyone else got like 6 dozen roses because one was from their husband and the others were from each one of their kids. It’s not fair!!” Am I striking a familiar chord with anyone out there? OR does this just happen to me?

As we wrap up our 4 weeks there is one thing I have learned. It feels better to give than to receive. A simple lesson. A lesson I have to relearn often. Still, a lesson that applies here. This Valentine’s Day, focus on giving to him. Turn off your phone or log out of Facebook. Don’t even tempt yourself to look at the parade of roses that goes on during the day. Instead, focus your time and energy on praying for your marriage.

1. Make him a meal he won’t forget. I happen to know a place you can get a recipe for two for the occasion *wink*

2. Give him a new Bible, or a devotional the two of you can work through together this year.

3.Give him a gift certificate to have his car/truck cleaned out.

4. Load up his Starbucks card!

5. Hire a sitter so you two can get away and YOU make the dinner reservations. WHOA!

6. My favorite and the one we have done more than a few times in our marriage. Buy champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. When the kids go to bed, enjoy chatting with each other and walking down memory lane. Pull out your wedding album. Watch your wedding video. There is no quicker way to reconnect than to be brought back to the memory of when you said, “I do.”

I love to hear from my readers. Sometimes there is crickets out there :) If you haven’t yet, please sign up to have my posts sent directly to your email account. The field to do so is directly under the Mommy Blogger Button!

Guest Post: I Am Who You Say I Am

Sitting at the kitchen table, after all four Things had gone to bed, The Man began telling me how I had been making him feel the past two weeks. As he spoke I listened thoughtfully and said, women, wives, need to hear this. They need to know the impact of what we say or don’t say, do or don’t do. Will you put this down on paper for me. Can you write something for my blog that describes everything you are telling me. “Yes,” he said. “Please don’t forget!” I instructed. “I need it by Friday!” Here he is to explain the power a wife has over her husband.

“You are important to our family! We love you and are proud of you! You are a great father & husband! Have a great day!” As I sat in my office on a Tuesday afternoon with the weight of a busy work day on my shoulders, the email warmed my heart and I beamed with pride. My wife appreciates me! She thinks I’m doing a good job! Validation! (and apparently we both like exclamation points!)

Tara’s blog hits my email anytime a new post goes up and I enjoy reading her work and seeing how God is using her to impact the world. A few days prior to her post on the Marriage Challenge , she told me that she is running a “challenge” for wives on her site and asked me not to read her blog posts for a bit. I didn’t think much of it and obliged. A week or so later, she put a note in my lunchbox telling me that she loves and supports me. Then the email above. And a call for no other reason than to say how important I was to her and our family. Coffee ready to go as I walked out the door. Small gestures. Simple. No hollywood productions or lavish gifts. Just small thoughtful things that made me smile.

Tara is an amazing wife. She daily tells me she loves me. But a few days into the week, I felt slightly different toward her. I wanted to be a better husband. I wanted to make her a morning cup of coffee, and make the bed when she was in the shower, and get up with the baby so she could sleep 30 more minutes. I wanted to accomplish tasks on my honey-do list that I don’t have time or energy to finish at the end of a long day. I came home early and stayed up until 2am hanging 7 sets of blinds in our family room on a Wednesday night (frankly, a project that I had been procrastinating on for a while). I also felt stronger and more confident at work. I gave my kids an extra hug. I found energy and time that didn’t seem to exist previously. And I fell in love with my wife a little more each day.

Proverbs 18:21

21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

The power that a wife’s words have over her husband are immeasurable. I found myself wanting to live up to every word that Tara spoke to me or wrote about me. “The power of life or death is in the tongue,” I began to live exactly as Tara spoke. I thought about my feelings and tried to rationalize them away. As I mentioned, Tara always tells me she loves me. But, she often asks me to do X, Y, Z. Or asks when I’m going to get to X, Y, Z. And sometimes, out of understandable frustration, complains that I never get to X, Y, Z. I’m not proud to say this, but over time it became white noise (I understood her frustration, but life would happen and I wouldn’t get to it.) However, something supernatural happened when my wife consistently spoke positively into my life without asking for anything in return. I wanted to live up to it, and I began to do that.

If you wrote down a plus or minus for every interaction you had with your spouse today, what would your sum total be? Positives being every time you built him up, expressed how important he is to you and your children, acknowledged his accomplishments, encouraged him in his work. Negatives being every time you criticized him unconstructively, complained about the honey-do list, called him in the middle of his work day to tell him he left the toothpaste cap off and it caused a chain reaction of hell to rain down on your children’s’ behavior, endless list of tasks, and your related sanity. (All hypothetical, of course.) How many times do we say, “I love you and understand how tired you are . . . but I really need you to paint over that crayon spot on the wall tonight because I’ve been asking you for a month to take care of that.” (Again, hypothetical). What is your score at the end of one day? Expand to one week? A year? A lifetime? Now consider all the additional negatives your husband faces that day from the world. Proverbs 14:1 “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”

Ladies, God has designed you with an inexplicable power to speak into your husband’s life. Everything you say to him impacts every aspect of his life. He needs to hear he is doing a good job. He needs to hear you respect him. He needs to hear you need him. He needs to hear you love him. You are the one person in this world who he will truly listen to. You are the one person in this world who he truly seeks approval and validation from. If you tell him he is a good husband and a good father, he will be that man. If you tell him that he never helps out and gets anything done at home, he will be that man. Your husband will be exactly the man you tell him that he is. What man do you want to help him be?