Friday, November 26, 2010

Give The Gift of Life

     I had my very first experience giving blood almost 2 months ago. I have always wanted to do it, even as a kid (although I probably wouldn't have gone through with it at that age even if I could have. Needles aren't usually a welcome sight to kids.) I tried to give blood when I was 18, but I wasn't able to because I had gotten a tattoo within the last 12 months. Finally, I was able to do it at work when they brought in the Red Cross to take blood donations. It was an awesome experience, aside from almost passing out a few times and needed to keep cold water running down my face and drinking juice to keep me conscious. Apparently, a lot of people react that way the first time they donate, but it gets better after that. I have definitely decided to become a regular blood donor, and I'm really thankful that I am in a physical state to be able to give.
    According to the Red Cross, one pint of blood can save up to 3 lives. Unfortunately, only 3% of all people in America actually donate blood. Can you imagine what a difference it would make if everyone who was able gave blood even once in their life time? The amazing thing about giving blood is that it's something that can save people's lives, but it doesn't cost the donor anything. We are always making more blood, so we can always be donating. That's an incredible design, and I really think that God created us this way for a reason. We have a perpetual resource of blood that we can always be giving away to those who need it. Unless a person has some kind of condition that would prevent them from giving blood, there is no good reason not to donate. Please consider making a small contribution that can mean the difference to 3 other people, not to mention their family and friends. Besides, you get free juice and cookies. Need I really say more??

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ways we save money

Although we can always improve on our spending habits, here are a few ways Ryan and I save money.

1. We make our own laundry detergent, glass cleaner, surface cleaner, yogurt, and anything else we can figure out. Making your own products is a great way to save money (not to mention, it's better for the environment!)

2. We don't use paper products like napkins, paper towels, or plates. We use clean rags and dishes instead (again, better for the environment as well as cost effective!)

3. We try to buy things in bulk with a long shelf life. Since we have a membership to Cosco, we can buy our shampoo, conditioner, soap, pasta, rice, olive oil, dishwashing detergent, trash bags, lemon juice (yes, I go through a lot of lemon juice very quickly,) and vegetarian breakfast sausage in bulk. Here's a tip for those who aren't a member of Cosco, BJ's, Sam's Club, etc. DO NOT by regular bath soap. If you buy a bulk container of hand soap at any regular store, you'll only pay a dollar more for triple the amount of soap.

4. We keep all our change and put it in a bottle until it is full. By the time it fills up, we've saved $30 without even trying. It's surprising how much money you can save if you take the time to collect your spare change.

If you have any tips or tricks of your own for saving money, please share!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It can be hard to trust sometimes...

 Recently, I've been struggling a little to really trust that God has the best plan for everything. I know that sounds terrible. I believe with all my heart that God has every single thing, every situation under control. Still, sometimes I struggle with thinking that I would handle things better if I were in charge. If I were all powerful, I would make sure that hungry children had enough to eat every day of their lives. I would make sure that the 5-year-old boy in africa who is caring for his 2-year-old brother because his parent's are dying of AIDS would be taken care of. I would guaruntee that no one would ever have reason to doubt that they are cared for and loved by God.
 I believe with all of my heart that God is wise and good and loving. I deeply believe that He has a plan for this world, and that His plan is rooted in love. I know this. Still...
 I have a hard time letting go of the illusion that sometimes I could do better. Me, with my limited forsight and wisdom, could do better. The truth is, that's just not the case. No matter what I think is best, I know that God knows better. I'm trying to surrender to that and to really trust Him, even when I don't always understand. I'm so thankful that God is a Father who loves His children enough to want to hear from their hearts, even if their heart is questioning Him. I believe that He wants us to be honest with Him and to be open with Him. How else can you have a relationship with someone if you can't be honest with them?
 I'm going to do my best to keep in mind that as much as I think I know, I know nothing. I may question Him now, but someday I'm going to see His reasoning behind things and I'm going to say, "Oooooh....that's why You did it this way instead of my way. I'm so glad You didn't listen to my suggestions!!" 

 This is probably something that I will struggle with off and on throughout life. It's part of being human. However, I'm always going to come back to the realization that if God is all-knowing, loving, good, wise, and all-powerful, you wouldn't want anyone else in charge! 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Still finding my way in the kitchen...

   So, I'm still trying to develop some cooking skills so Ryan and I can stop eating out all the time. As much as he would like to help me with the cooking, Ryan has never learned cooking skills (since his mom and sister are INCREDIBLE chefs!!) The truth is, I'm not too much more advanced than he is. I'm trying to get better at cooking and expanding my list of recipes, but it doesn't always go too well. Recently, I've been feeling pretty discouraged with cooking. By the time I come home from work in the evening, the last thing I feel like doing is cooking dinner. However, I've been getting better about putting forth the effort. The trouble is, my dinner is usually ruined before I even finish making it. I end up throwing away a lot of dinners-in-progress. I hate this because it's wasteful and it doesn't do too much for my confidence in the kitchen. I think one of the low moments for me was when my co-workers were planning a pot-luck at work, and my co-worker looked at me hesitantly and said she wasn't sure she would be eating whatever I brought (and she was serious!) Ryan always tries to encourage me and let me know it's ok, but I don't feel like it's ok. I want to get a lot better in the kitchen, but it's a work in progress at this point.
   My successful recipes are pretty much limited to pasta dishes, black bean burgers (sometimes,) empanadas (sometimes,) chili (sometimes,) cobb salad, and veggie flatbread. I feel like cooking is one of the ways I contribute to our family, and it's not fun to feel like you can't always deliver on that. I'm trying to slowly get my confidence level in the kitchen back up, and try some new recipes. Keep your fingers crossed for me.