I Have Issues by Jelly Valimont Book Review

I’ve been searching. For weeks. For months. I was searching and looking. I was on every blog, Pinterest, Stumble Upon, Google, Facebook groups- you name it, I was searching. I am engaged to a pastor. Being engaged to a pastor means that one day, in the very near future, I am going to be….a pastor’s wife! I had a brief moment of panic. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN!? How am I supposed to do everything? What does everything entail!? How can I be the best wife, pastor’s wife, ministry partner, (future) mother, teacher, and all of the other things we’re expected to be?

Let’s get real here, I am the farthest thing from perfect there is. I grew up in the church, but I am not a pastor’s kid, missionary kid, or any of the like. My mom was head of hospitality, my dad was a trustee, and we did music and vacation Bible school. I went to school to be a high school English teacher. I’ve been blessed with wonderful pastor’s wives in my life over the years, but becoming one myself was never really a “thing.” But, I have quickly learned in my 23 short years of life that God laughs at our plans.

This book fell into my lap. It was exactly what I had been searching for, delivered in the mail. Definitely a moment of God saying “Ya know what? You are earnestly looking, searching, and seeking for something to help you grow, and I know just the thing, I Have Issues by Jelly Valimont!”Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 4.53.47 PM.pngUpon opening the package, I was already in love. There are super cute shoes on the front, and anyone who knows me also knows that I have just a bit of a shoe problem. Jelly Valimont is a pastor’s wife who also searched for “Being a Pastor’s Wife for Dummies” and came up short. It’s not quite a how-to manual, but she did the next best thing! Using her own experiences, the Word of the Lord, and just general common sense (seriously, it’s amazing how much of ministry is just common sense), she crafted a nicely packaged help guide for the “partners in ministry.”

This book reads like a conversation with a friend over a good strong cup of coffee. Each section is named after shoes, or some aspect of the shoe. From there she relays a short story or anecdote that goes along with the shoe theme and topic of the chapter. Her humor, vulnerability, and honesty, take you through the many areas and processes of being in ministry.

I hate writing in books. I think it has something to do with being told not to write in my Bible as a child that’s carried over to regular books. I’m now fine with underlining, taking notes, and even Bible journaling, but I still hesitate to write in regular books. When I first sat down to read this book, I grabbed my pen. I knew that I would want to highlight some “good stuff.” Below, you will find a few of my personal favorite quotes and nuggets of wisdom.

“…be pleasing to God- not the church, the church board, or the women’s ministry leaders.” (9)

“One of the problems with not taking time to recoup is that it produces a very high sense of frustration when you cannot accomplish tasks because fatigue will not allow you to.” (15)

“Doing the work of the ministry or living the Christian life by completely relying on yesterday’s revelation alone, will eventually cause you to burn out and be counter-productive.” (56)

“Successful marriages are developed using the same components as successful ministries: much prayer, planning, and action.” (88)

“Our busy-ness is not a sign of our righteousness or Godliness.” (125)

“The best way to help people is to love them and build relationships first.” (157)\

“Life is not about how high you can climb or how fast you can run, but it is about how well you can bounce.” (172)

“When a tragedy comes, it is not the time to go ‘Bible dipping’ for the right things to say.” (184)

I Have Issues is about more than issues in marriage, in the church, in motherhood, or even life. It is about being a partner, a helpmeet, a woman of Christ, a leader, and a lover, within our families, our churches, and the body of Christ. If you are preparing to step into ministry, have recently entered, or have been in it for decades, this book is for you. Every pastor’s wife could get something out of this book, whether it is advice as a newbie, or a refreshing reminder of how to take care of yourself and take control of your life back. 41s1LYw5l2L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThank you Jelly for seeing a need, listening to God’s prompting, and filling the hole so many of us have been searching for!

I Have Issues is available on Amazon.

Follow me on Instagram @brunetteswithbrains to keep up with the latest posts, books and news!

PS Be on the look out for my author interview with Jelly in the coming weeks!

Wedding Planning on a Budget Part II

In my first part of this “series” I went over our basic wedding decisions. I discussed venue, some decorations, stationary and stamps. You can find all the good stuff HERE. I’m going to share a few more things that have come up and expenses that creep in.

DJ:

I love music. Ethan loves music. I sing. I dance. I wiggle. He hums. And kinda has rhythm. And plays a few instruments. I would have a dance party in the corner if I needed too. But a DJ does more than just play music at a wedding, at least, a good one does more than that. We started our search for a DJ, and it’s not easy. You start out with recommendations from others. “The DJ at my cousin’s nephew’s wedding was great! They rave about him. Let me get you their number!” You smile, grin, take the number and stuff it in the back of your wedding planner. You look online. And you find people that are $2,000+, they seem fun, but well…you can tell they just won’t really “work.” And then, your mom goes “hey, we know a guy DUH!” Not only do we know him, but after having done work for the school I attended, I know he’s good. I knew he was REALLY good when I got on his website and he had a questionnaire with really, really, good questions. Everything from who is in our wedding party, special dances and what songs we’d like, what kind of music we want played, what we absolutely do NOT want played, the list goes on. He is a DJ but also an MC. WINNING! And on top of that, he is AFFORDABLE! It’s in the name Affordable Music DJs.

Photography:

This may be one of the most important elements of your wedding. Seriously, you are going to be stuck looking at these pictures for all eternity. Nothing is worse than paying a boat load of money for bad pictures, poorly edited pictures, or a photographer who doesn’t get any of the shots you wanted them too. Photography is not cheap. Your friend might have a camera and say they are a “photographer,” but, call me a snob (maybe it’s because I’m a teacher), I put stock in an education, and I am THRILLED that our photographer not only has a degree in digital media/photography or that she is budget conscious/friendly, but that she is also a friend and did our engagement pictures. You can take a look at some of those HERE. I have no fear that she will do an amazing job because she already knocked it out of the park for those, and she knows what we want.

*Side note idea* Create a private Pinterest board just for you and your photographer if they’re into that kind of thing. I went through and found pictures and poses that I would like to do for our wedding. Giving them a visual and idea to go off of other than “um…you’ve done this before, I trust you,” will help give them a legitimate direction and make sure that you have an idea of what you are looking for as well.Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 9.08.14 AM.pngFood:

I feel like this is one of the more stressful ordeals to go through when planning a wedding. I’ve been to a number of weddings, and there always seem to be fads over the years as well. I tend to have a bit of a selfish mind frame. This is our wedding. You are our guests, and we’re glad that you can come, but at the end of the day, it’s ours. Not yours. I’m not going to kill myself to have 18 different options because you may not be in the “mood” for chicken, allergic to everything under the sun, or have a billion food allergies (unless it’s serious like you start flopping on the floor if you get near a peanut).

We are having an early ceremony and lunch reception for a number of reasons. Everything from we have people traveling from out of town and I don’t want them to have to NEED to stay the night, to I want to not be dead and enjoy my wedding night. There are 3. food positives to this scenario.

1. It’s lunch so there’s not as much pressure to have a fancy sit-down dinner or something.

2. No alcohol. I have nothing against it, I’m not a staunch alcohol is the worst thing ever, but really. If you can’t have fun at a wedding without it, you shouldn’t be there; and if you REALLY want to drink at 1 in the afternoon before driving home there are bigger issues. It’s just something that due to the time of day, we are easily able to skip….and save hundreds of dollars in the process by doing.

3. Lunch food in general tends to be a bit lighter and more fun. So we are doing pizza. Yes. You read that right. Pizza. We are having a pizza lunch reception. We are offering 3 varieties- Pepperoni, Hawaiian, and Margarita (fancy cheese pizza).  When people RSVP they will be able to chose their flavor so that we have an idea of how many of each we’ll need. We are also having salad and some sides. My parents are not 100% on the pizza band wagon so they will have some small/extra “options” for their own sanity. But it will be less than $500 to have pizza for about 150 people.

Drinks will be water, soda, and a hot chocolate/coffee table. We will make the giant pot things of coffee, and put the hot chocolate in crock pots. Marshmallows, chocolate dipped spoons, mini candy canes, whipped cream, sauces, 3 basic cream flavors, mini chocolate chips, and coconut will be provided to add to the hot drinks. We found awesome disposable mugs from Sam’s Club for a very reasonable price.0009838260822_A.jpgAgain, something super fun that will cost under $200 to do for our guests.

The Restaurant Store is AMAZING! I’m sorry if you don’t have one near you, or you’ve never heard of it. Because it’s the bomb.com. The items we can’t get from SAMs club, we are getting from here, like nice, disposable plates that we can buy by the case for under $100. Buying in bulk is a great, quick, easy way to save money and have plenty of what you need!

 

Favors:

Originally my mother and I thought of this brilliant idea to do jars of jam. But we don’t buy jam, we make it ourselves. And then we started thinking about the fact that we’d have to get about 150 little jam jars. If you haven’t ever made jam yourself let me tell you….it takes a LOT of fruit to make it happen. I mean, a TON! Even with having a strawberry patch in our backyard, there’s no way in the world we’d grow enough. Oh yeah, and it takes a TON of sugar. The logistics and reality of that cute favor hit us pretty quickly. We decided to make it the bridal shower favor instead and start from scratch for the wedding.

We found heart and snowflake shaped cookie cutters from Oriental trade. I love to bake. Everyone knows it. I have a particular affinity for sugar cookies. The cutters come on a card, have a sugar cookie recipe on the inside, and a personalization spot on the front. They’re about $9 a dozen.

They’re cute, but they’re a bit plain. My plan is to use blue water color on the left and right edges to make them a bit more personal and pretty. They come out to cost just a bit more than $1 each.

Hand-Me-Downs:

Weddings are beautiful. Weddings hopefully, only happen once for you. You have one day to make this happen. ONE DAY. Which is why spending an astronomical amount just makes my skin crawl. The average wedding is about $20k. That’s a down payment on a house. That’s a car. That’s a really really really nice vacation to Europe for like a month. It makes my head spin. And at the end of the day, it is only ONE day. The most important part of that day is marrying your best friend and love of your life. Who cares if you use hand me down goodies from other friends or even strangers who used them before you?

My future sister-in-law got married last September. They bought good quality white table cloths and cloth napkins. We have to pick up a few extra but that is a large chunk of money we are saving by borrowing them. The center pieces will pop on the white. We’re using blue ribbon and jingle bells to tie the napkins, that will later be used for our jingle bell send-off.

I was in a wedding in Nebraska last weekend. Her mother spent good money and got a very nice quality isle runner. She sold it to me for $30. There are a few faint step marks that I’ll wipe off with a damp cloth. I’m getting paint markers and am going to write/calligraphy on a Bible verse Ethan and I picked out.

My mother and I have been collecting blue glass for years. We pick them up at Goodwill, yard sales, or even get them as gifts when friends and family see them at yard sales and Goodwill. We’ve spent anywhere for $5 to $0.50 on vases and glasses (with the exception of the blue wine bottles because we had to drink the wine first). Each center piece with the flowers, pine cones, jingle bells, and blue glass will easily cost less than $5 a table.

In Conclusion:

As an English teacher, that ending makes my skin crawl, but it works here. You’ll notice throughout the post that most of the products I’m using, I’m getting through people I know. This does not mean that I am getting discounts. I’m paying the same amount other people would pay for the same services and goods. But it does two things. I can rest assured knowing that the people I am relying on to make our day special will make it happen. I trust them. I would also much rather give my business and money to local people who I know and trust. I spent a lot of time shopping around and looking for decent quality, good prices, and coupons. I’m buying “plain” items and making them personal and our own. Personalization is key. Adding a monogram, adding a picture, adding an aspect that is obviously hand crafted/done, instantly makes things seem more expensive and nicer than something just bought off of a shelf and given.

1 Dish Chicken and Veggies

Tonight my family is all over the place. My brother came home from work, turned around, and left for job number 2. My parents came home, loaded 2 of the four dogs into the car for a quick trip to the vet for a manicure. I was left home. As my mom ran out the door, she said “Why don’t you throw some hot dogs on the grill?” Now I like hot dogs as much as the next person. There was a solid 2 years of my small life where I ate nothing but hot dogs and chicken nuggets (my mother still talks about it). But having just had kielbasa the night before, I wasn’t feelin it. So, what could I make relatively quickly that would be done by the time my parents got home and wouldn’t make a giant mess? 1 dish chicken and veggies.

What you’ll need:

2 cups chicken stock or water with 2 bullion cubes

Salt

Pepper

Onion (we had yellow so that’s what I used)

Chicken Breasts

Potatoes

Green Beans (we have fresh, frozen ones from our garden)

Carrots

Thyme

Parsley

  1. Thaw your chicken breast. We buy chicken in bulk, and my mom usually cuts thick breasts in half so they’re not as thick and cook a bit quicker.
  2. Dirty peel and cut your potatoes and carrots. If you can’t stand the skins, feel free to peel them completely. If you are worried about them cooking all of the way in the oven (like me) you can pre-boil them for a bit to kick start the cooking process.
  3. Cut a slice of onion about 1/2 inch thick. Simply cut into quarters so you have pretty decent sized pieces.
  4. Prepare your chicken broth and preheat your oven to 400 degrees. The chicken broth helps cook the potatoes, carrots, and green beans while also keeping the chicken nice and juicy!
  5. Lightly grease the bottom of a 13×9 baking dish. dump in your veggies and mix a bit. Lay your chicken breast on top. Pour your chicken broth over it all, it won’t cover all of the veggies but it will come about 1/2 up.
  6. Sprinkle salt, pepper and a bit of thyme and parsley.

13177273_10209214354421043_6736157662262300396_n.jpg7. Cover with foil and put into your oven. Cook until chicken and veggies are cooked through.

13090325_10209214842473244_1912725380_n.jpg

If you’re feeling adventurous, you could remove the chicken and veggies to a platter and make a thicker sauce with the juices and chicken broth by adding cornstarch. I did not do that this evening.

You could easily make this in a crock pot, or use additional vegetables like asparagus. If you were to do this in a crock pot, I would add an extra cup of broth/water just to be on the safe side, especially if you plan on leaving it unattended.

Cleaning Box Bridal Shower Gift

I have been back on the bridal shower gift buying wagon. Refer to my Pantry Stocker Gift Basket post for a more thorough understanding. This time, it was for my friend Liv (who has been featured for a number of reasons on the blog).

13023199_1110987265588882_952858806_n.jpg

For once, I’m not the shortest one in the picture! Liv with 3/4 bridesmaids  

She is actually from Nebraska and had a major bridal shower out there over spring break. Her Pennsylvania shower was for friends and family that obviously did not attend the NE shower. Her future MIL and I decided to make it a pantry stocking shower. She had gotten the vast majority of her registry of “stuff” at the first shower. She and her fiance have a place out in NE, where he is already residing, but it still needs filled.

For this particular shower, his mother created a gift list to “stock her pantry.” These items included everything from cooking stuff like spices and pastas, to medicine cabinet stuff like cotton balls and q-tips. I went a slightly different route and did cleaning supplies. This gift is double hilarious because Liv and I are both known to be….well….not the neatest people in the world.

Here is my list:

Comet (Spray and powder)

Bleach

Lysol

Windex

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

Baking Soda

Sponges

Vinegar

Clorox Wipes

TileX

Pledge All Purpose Spray

I may be missing one or two things, and I’m sure you could come up with another 50 products you also swear by. I made a pit stop at JoAnn Fabrics where they had collapsable ottomans (about 24x24X24). I made that the vessel of my gift, along with pink and white tissue paper to match the Kate Spade themed bridal shower. I simply put layers of tissue paper and made it look pretty and covered each item in the box. She also got a word document of my favorite ways to use the above products. You can find it below.

How to Clean (almost) Anything

What you’ll need: vinegar, baking soda, dawn dish soap, and lemon juice.

Greasy stove? Use baking soda and dawn to create a paste.

Clean your bathtub and bathroom? Baking soda and vinegar. You can mix it as a paste or sprinkle baking soda in the tub and spray/pour vinegar on top. Add in some lemon juice to help get rid of stains, disinfect, and for added smell bonus.

Cleaning your carpets? Sprinkle baking soda on and let sit for at least 15 minutes before vacuuming to help absorb smells and pick up pet hair.

Carpet stain? If the carpet is a color other than white, tan, or a light shade, avoid the baking soda and lemon juice, they can pull color. Stick to vinegar and dawn. They’ll lift most stains out of carpet. Remember to DAB not scrub. Add vinegar to carpet shampooers for the same affect. The above are also perfect for pet stains/accidents.

Hard water deposits? Mix vinegar and lemon juice. They will dissolve most deposits with just a bit of soaking. For heavy deposits, you might need to scrub with a toothbrush and grab the baking soda for added scrub.

Laundry? Vinegar is great to add to any load of clothes. It’s especially good to add to blankets, towels, and pillows to help reduce mildew smell and freshen things up. Lemon is another great additive and has the added bonus of a clean smell. Dawn will remove numerous stains from clothes including: grease, blood, grass, grape juice, spaghetti sauce…you get the drift.

 

Some Other Helpful Hints:

Use the magic eraser to scrub off scuffs and keep shoes clean and sparkling!

Comet is the bees-knees when it comes to bathroom cleaning! It’s great for around the drain, or to sprinkle in your toilet since it has a bit more grit to it!

TileX is essentially bleach, and can be used to spray your shower curtain to help keep mildew away as well as keep your tiles clean!

 

What would you include in a cleaning box? Are there any tricks you swear by? Share them below!