Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

Many of our friends have tried to come up with a good spin on Valentine's Day for their whole families to celebrate.  This year we are trying one of our own!

We decided to think of Valentine's Day this year as an opportunity to encourage the ones we love by thanking God and them for the example of Godly character that they live out each day.  We thank God and Pops for his example of service and leadership.  He is very committed to his job because he knows that it is a way that God has called him to serve our family by providing financially for us.  He is equally committed to spending time reading the Bible with us and practicing Bible memory verses with us.  We thank God and Meme for her generosity.  She loves to give us special treats and take us out to eat.  We thank God and Nana and Poppy for investing time in us.  They love to read to us and play with us at their house.  We thank God and Abby for her hospitality because she lets us play with her in her room.  We are thankful for many other special people in our lives.  God has really and truly blessed us.

Happy Valentine's day to all our loved ones!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lesson: Learned

Our verse for last week's challenge is from Romans chapter 5.  It says, "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."  Although our temporary experience of mild hunger fails in comparison to what much of the world experiences as suffering, we prayed throughout the week that the Lord would use our experience this week to produce in us endurance, Godly character, and hope.

Energy levels ran low all week and irritability ran high across the board in the Carroll family.

We struggled to remember to ration certain items, especially milk.  Lily got close to the bottom of her soy milk after 3 and half days which is when I realized I needed to be giving her more water to make the soy milk last the whole week.  Somehow it still didn't connect that I should be doing the same with the cow's milk that the rest of us drink and I had to start cutting back on the use of that after 4 days.  We did make it through the week without running out of any particular item.  In fact we had a few items that we didn't even touch from our shopping trip!  Our adjusted total for the week came to $45.31.  We ate oatmeal or eggs for breakfast, grilled cheese and apple slices for lunch, and soup for dinner that was made of chicken, rice, and some frozen veggies.  We gave up snacks and desserts (which in our house is usually some kind of fruit) and stuck to smaller portions sizes so that we would have enough.  On our last day we got to eat pasta and tomato sauce which was a nice change of pace after eating the same things all week.

So much of the weekly ministry that we do has some kind of food component.  Sean had lunch with our pastor one day.  There was food at our small group bible study and Friday night youth group.  We do breakfast with an elderly women who has become family to us each week.  We also usually have a big family dinner with extended family members weekly.  I was impressed that on a normal week all the extra bits of food is just part of the routine and normally goes unnoticed.  I'm still not entirely sure to make of it.  Shouldn't we be more conscience to not waste things that are such precious comedies in other places?  What can we really do to help people who don't get three meals a day, let alone snacks and dessert?  These are just a few of the questions that are getting bounced around here at the Carroll house after accepting this $33 grocery bill challenge.

We do want to praise the Lord for working in us.  We did see our kids grow in endurance this week.  It was a very difficult challenge for them but we are still confident that God will use it to teach us more and more!

Please also check back with our friends the Straleys and here what they learned through their week long challenge experience.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Challenge: Accepted

Our dear friends, the Straleys recently put out a challenge that you can read about on their blog.  They are missionaries living in the Dominican Republic and they have challenged their blog readers, the majority of whom are their family and friends living in the US, to experience a tiny bit of life as a Dominican by spending only $33 for one week on groceries.  Please do take the time to read about the challenge so you can understand their hearts in putting this challenge out there.  Just click on their name in the first sentence of this post!

We eagerly accepted this challenge because we would love to gain some perspective and learn whatever lesson God has intended for us.  Today I attempted to shop on the alloted $33 budget.  I came home with a gallon of milk, a half gallon of soy milk, a box of cherrioes, some rice and beans, oatmeal, apples, bananas, pasta, one can of tomatoe sauce, frozen mixed vegetables, some chicken, and a dozen eggs.  These items seemed like the bear essentials that would get us through a week.  My total bill came to $52.60.  Well over the challenge price.  I'm not disappointed.  I am excited to see what lessons we learn this week, it will still be a challenge.

Sean suggested we try the challenge again next month.  In fact he suggested we try again each month until we really see what its like to live on $33 a week for groceries.  Please join me in praying that we would keep our hearts and minds open to hearing from God on just how blessed we are to live here in the US with such vast resources, with so many family to support us, with so many opportunities to make our lives better.  God is good and he is faithful to answer our prayers so expect to hear back from us soon on what we learned!