How NOT To Shop From Scratch...

There's nothing worse than creating a grocery shopping list from scratch each week. So, I decided to create a master list of "keep in stock" items so that as these particular items go on sale at Publix or Target (remember, I'm boycotting Walmart), I can pick them up and always have what the majority of the family wants to eat. These are the categories I came up with:

- Breakfast
- Sammy's School Lunches
- Snacks
- On the Go (this category + leftovers will make up lunches for me and Matt)
- Dinners & Leftovers
- Pantry Staples

Step 1 was to ask the family what foods they like and don't like (the boys are the pickiest!)
Step 2 was choosing items from their lists that are located in the "outer aisle" of the grocery store, which is supposedly the healthier items to eat.

So, here are some examples of our "keep in stock" items:

Breakfast: Yogurt, Fruit, Hash Browns, Peanut Butter Toast, Bakery Muffins
Sammy's School Lunches: String Cheese, Fruit, Pizza Lunchables, Frozen PB&J Crustables
Snacks: Yogurt, Fruit, Cheese/Crackers
On the Go: Pre-made Salads, Homemade "Sandwich Kits"(like lunch meat w/condiments, etc)
Dinners & Leftovers: My plan here is to make double portions and immediately pack leftovers before eating (this will also eliminate me going back for seconds); Of course I also had to a few have "Dinner Categories":
   "Mystery Mondays" (maybe not the best name - reminds me of a school cafeteria) - but this is where I get to pick a new recipe for the family to try and this is my "keep it fresh" outlet so I don't get bored making the same dinners
   "Soupy Sundays" - basically a crockpot soup or stew we can eat immediately after church and throughout the rest of the day (also great leftovers for Monday)
   "Family Favorite Fridays" - this will most likely be pizza night or something fun for the kids
   "Traditional Tuesdays & Thursdays" - these are the weekly repeats that everyone loves (i.e. Chicken Casserole, Cheesy Rice and Chicken, etc.)
Pantry Staples: various Campbell's cooking soups, Potatoes, Rice, Canned Tomatoes and Sauces, Favorite Dinner Ingredients, Frozen Veggies, etc.

I know this seems to take a lot of time and organization but isn't it also true that the most stressful decision of the day is what to make for dinner? At least this way you will always have the majority of what you need in stock at your house and your weekly grocery trip will become quick sale pickups and fresh items (like fruit, meat, and veggies).

I don't know - thoughts from anyone else on what helps you and your kitchen sanity?


Decisions, Decisions

Don't you sometimes wish that you could ask God a question and receive an immediate answer? Like, "God, what should we have for dinner?" and immediately you get a thunderous reply with a well-planned, healthy, money-saving meal the whole family will love! Ok, maybe not...

I think we all have a hard time "waiting on the Lord" or "just praying about it" or even trying to make decisions on our own (and that just doesn't work). I mean, really, when does ANYONE give you a straight answer anymore? It takes me an hour to get an answer out of my husband about a detail as minute as what time he'll be home...It usually goes something like this:

Me: "Hey, what time will you be home?"
Him: "Well, I have to finish a few things here and then I have to wrap up a few things there."
Me: "Ok" (as if the first time I asked wasn't clear enough)"What time will you be home?"
Him: "I guess when I'm done with all that."
Me: (really?!) "Ok, well, how long until all that's done?"
Him: "I don't know a little while longer so I'll be leaving here soon."
Me: (defeated) "ok"

The moral of the story is - everyone wants an immediate answer all the time. Should I accept this position? Should I sell my house? Should I go back to school? Should I buy a cat? Should I...should I...should I...? And, in most of these cases, we want a straight "yes" or "no" answer. But as I've recently learned in starting a 7-day study on "Decisions" (with my awesome Bible app), the decision-making process is important in the growth of the personal relationship between us and Christ. So, on a serious note, I'm realizing I don't have decision-making issues. I can tell people what to do all day long (and most of you who work close with me know this to be true)! What I'm learning is that when we allow God to be a part of our decision-making process and when we submit to His will over our own, we are extending Him our trust and submitting ourselves to whatever HE decides, which is always going to be the best for us (scratch that) - the best for His glory. 

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." 

So, after I read this, I decided to do things a bit differently to try and make this short passage sink in. I flipped it entirely into a series of questions pointed directly at me...

"Crystal, do you trust in the Lord with all your heart? Crystal, do you lean on your own understanding or the way the Almighty understands it? Crystal, are you fully submitting yourself to His will and trusting that He works all things to the good of your life? And, Crystal, do you believe He's mighty enough to send you in the right direction?"

Whoa - so this was a wake up call for me - at least in how I viewed God when it came to making decisions in my life - big or small. Before reading this, my mindset was "well, I know what I think I want to do but I need God to affirm it - yes, let me read some scripture, twist it into something that affirms what I already feel and call it a Godly decision." (uh-uh) God already has a path for me to take. God already knows His will for creating me - His purpose for my existence. So, all I have to do is submit to it and trust Him.

Is it easy? Nope. Is the answer going to pop out of thin air when I want it to? Nope. Will planning family meals become any easier? Probably never. Will I ever really know what time my husband is coming home? I don't know. But I do know if I allow Christ to be the center of my decision-making, at least I know that I'll always be moving in the right direction.


Jedi Kittens

Just a peek into the lives of the McCall boys and what they love...Star Wars...anything Star Wars...yes, even Jedi Kittens...(click the link and enjoy)


A Blog About My Blog

So, I changed the look and title of my blog - the look because I get bored easily and I was sick of it, and the title because a new idea for a title struck me this morning as I dropped Sammy off at school...

Since the beginning of this academic year, I have taken Sammy to school 99.9% of the time so we have developed a daily drop-off routine. We get in the back of the longest line ever known to man, I put on my makeup while Sammy eats breakfast in the back seat, we rock out to either Way FM or the Christmas at Northwood CD, and then we reach a certain point in our route where he is allowed to unbuckle so he can get his things together and is ready to be helped out of the car.

A few months back, I started saying a prayer with him each day just before letting him out of the car. Then we hug, kiss, and out he goes (taking my heart along with him). Just a few days ago, my mind was going a mile a minute and we were approaching the drop off point. I had YET to say our prayer and was probably going to forget, so Sammy leans forward between the front two seats and says, "Mommy...hugs, kisses, and prayers"...something that I will always remember. I didn't realize how much this small moment meant to him - and to me! So, of course, when he said it today, it hit me! That sums up our life in three words - Hugs, Kisses, Prayers...Then I realized this has always been tradition in my family growing up. Even now, I will pick up the kids from my parents and dad will always say a prayer before we go - short, simple, doesn't matter, always a blessing before we go. Little things that I grew up with and am glad I am imparting on my kids.

So there you have it - the reason for the new look and the new title - thought I'd share...



Just when I think I have this whole "mommy thing" figured out, one of my sweet darlings sends a jab my way. While going over Maddie's AWANA lesson, Sammy walks in and asks, "Mommy, do you wish you would have only had one child?" After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I immediately answered "of course not! I am so thankful for both of you. Why would you think that?" He replied, "well, sometimes I think you can't handle a lot of us." After this second blow, he quickly moved on to jumping on Maddie's bed so I decided to let the comment go - but, for anyone who truly knows me and my heart, I don't let these comments go. My #2 strength on the 5.0 Strength Finders assessment (after "Woo") is "Harmony" - so I naturally want to "fix" things - whether they are arguments or hurt feelings or misunderstandings. I don't like to let things go unresolved - thus, the harmony part of me. This was not over...

So, while tucking Sammy in to bed I figured it was time to approach the issue. (Maybe I wasn't ready to hear what he had to say, but I couldn't go on wondering what thoughts were running around in my son's head regarding his mommy). I told him that his comment upset me because I wanted him to know how much I cared for them both. He got very quiet, a little teary-eyed, and said, "Mommy, you tell me to 'hold on' a lot." [To catch you up, they just got home from their grandparents and both kids were going a mile a minute and trying to fill me in on their evening - all while I'm trying to talk with my mom and get their things in order - so yes, they heard "hold on" a lot from me this evening...]

Ok moms, we've all used this phrase before...
"Mom!" (hold on) "Mommy, I want..." (hold on) "Mom, can I have..." (hold on) "Mom, mom, mom, mom, ma, ma, mother, ma, mom" (what?!) "Hi" 
[sorry, couldn't resist using this "Family Guy" reference (and for the record I hate this show with a passion)]. 

Anyway, my point is, I spend so much time doing so many other things to try and be super mom and all the while a simple phrase like "hold on" makes my child think he's not wanted. Now, I will say that if I stopped and acknowledged my children EVERY time they said "mommy" I wouldn't be able to take two steps or carry on a two-word conversation. But I'm going to try harder at being more patient (this is a virtue I know I do NOT possess). 

I'm glad that Sammy can be honest with me. And I'm glad for forgiveness and daily mercy...from both my family and my Lord and Savior. Without these things I would already be a failure. I'm also glad that the Holy Spirit uses my sweet little boy to slap me upside the head every now and then. I'm definitely looking deeper at myself tonight - they're so worth every bit of effort I can put forth. That's all. Thought I'd share...


poor sick husbands

I will stop to help a dog. I will sooth a crying child. I will cry over a wounded bird. I pity the kids who are made fun of. I care about the hungry and needy. I generally love all people. BUT...for some reason, I do NOT like taking care of a sick husband. Now, please understand, I WANT to like taking care of him. I WANT to want to "baby" him and "mother" him and be the ultimate loving, caring wife. I even give myself pep talks throughout the day ("c'mon, Crystal, just ask him if he needs anything" or "try, Crystal, try to say something caring without seeming like you don't want to")...You think I'm joking. I am not. And, I know lots of other women out there with this sickness too! And they will all agree, they will take care of a sick baby, a sick toddler, a sick teenager, and a sick dog but cringe at the idea of taking care of their husbands.

Here's the only thing I can come up with...#1 - It shows their weakness - something about a man laying on the couch sniffling makes me immediately realize that our grass looks longer and the trash can looks fuller...#2 - It means there's an extra body I need to care for - for do-it-all-moms this comment is self-explanatory...and #3 - The 'ol "I don't get to rest when I'm sick so suck it up" thought that creeps in your mind as he "must" lay there resting.

Here's the REAL reason...
I, like everyone else, am a sinner. By nature I'm selfish. There's nothing inside me that is good. I cannot be the awesome, caring, loving, helpful wife that I want to be on my own. The great news, however, is that I'm not alone and that I CAN learn to have the qualities I desire to have as a wife (and the qualities I'm sure he's desiring that I have while he lays on the couch with no pity from me). I do this by trying to stay in the Word as much as possible. It's amazing how reading the Bible more often will keep you "in check" and it's great because who else is better to do so than the Father? I also do this by praying constantly ("Lord, please let me be nice, please don't let me throw his blanket at him hard, please don't let my face twitch when he asks me for his pillow...") and always trying to stay thankful (after all, my husband is one of my biggest blessings and it should be an honor to be able to care for him when he's sick).

[Colossians 4:2 "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."]

I'll end by saying that I believe some women are better care givers than others - those are the types of women who become nurses and full-time stay-at-home mothers and social workers and pediatricians and so on. But me...I'm just a wanna be. BUT...at least I wanna be...right? I'm trying, Matt McCall. I hope you feel better soon...love you, mean it!


Swallowing Pills (the longest blog ever)

Some Things You May Not Know...
Ok, so a few things you may not know about me...#1) I'm terrified of whales (don't get me started), #2) I refuse to fly in an airplane because I just know with all of my heart that THAT will be the plane to plummet straight into the ground, and #3) I can't swallow pills...

The Reason I Just Can't Do It...
So, when I was younger I stayed home sick from school. I was in my "sick bed" which is something my family does when you're not feeling well. It's basically putting a nice cold sheet over the couch and surrounding yourself with your favorite "feel good" snacks and drinks while you sit there and just be pitiful. So, I was sitting there (just being pitiful) and decided I would snack on some Sprees (do they still make Sprees?)...Anyway, guess what happened? I swallowed one by accident, it got lodged in my throat for several seconds, and then finally went down. I was home with my dad and told him what happened (I'm sure it was re-enacted for him way more dramatically than it really happened) and EVER since I have not been able to swallow a pill!

Life with Liquids...
So, imagine a life of no pills...Headache? (drink nasty medicine) Sore Throat? (drink nasty medicine) Stomach Ache? (drink nasty medicine) Post-Partum "Aches"? (drink nasty medicine) No fun...and it's all totally psychological but I just can't do it! The second I can feel any hint of a pill in my mouth, out it comes - down the kitchen sink drain or out the car window or wherever I may be attempting to be a hero. Over the years I found ways around this whole psychological issue I was having...like, I started HAVING to take pills with something carbonated (absolutely no water, it must have bubbles)...Then I started HAVING to have ice with it (to throw off the fact that I could tell there was a pill in my mouth)... Then I started HAVING to measure the pills because eventually I could get a small ibuprofin down so everything else had to be equal to or smaller than that one! I know - I'm a freak, right?

It Backfired on Me (literally)...
Here I was this morning, diagnosed with Walking Pneumonia, and preparing the nice young technician for the news that she was going to have to convert my antibiotic medication to liquid form when she left the room to "think about what medicine was the proper treatment for me" and for the first time, the non-pill-taking-thing backfired on me - literally! She brought back a needle and a bandaid...something else that terrifies me! Stubborn as I was, I wasn't about to say, "ok just give me the pills!" (mainly because she probably didn't have anything carbonated with ice!) So, I turned around, mumbled a few embarrassingly wimpy prayers, and took the shot like a woman...I came home this evening, picked up a 600 mg Mucinex and swallowed that sucker! (ok, yes with ice and a ginger ale) but still! I did it! Step 1 - moving up in pill size - a success!

I'm not really sure why I felt the need to share all of this - in fact, not many will read it because it's the length of a short novel (congrats if you made it this far)! But anyway, guess I wanted to share a weakness of mine in hopes that maybe if you have a silly weakness like this you'll know that it, too, can be overcome. :)


I Need a Mountain...

                                                                  "to be alone"
                       "by himself to pray"
     "there alone"
                                                                "up a high mountain to be alone"
                                     "isolated place to pray"
                                                                                                  "by ourselves to a quiet place"
 "by himself to pray"
                                                "so they could be alone"
                                                                                           "up a high mountain to be alone"
                  "withdrew to the wilderness for prayer"
 "went up on a mountain to pray"
                                                            "up on a mountain to pray"

It's no wonder moms seem frazzled or scatter-brained. No wonder we spout off the wrong child's names or forget where we put that very important paper that we just knew we would remember. We desperately need ALONE time.

Every woman will try and find a way to acquire this coveted "alone time" - either by curling up with a good book, settling into a hot bubble bath, sitting on the porch with a cup of their favorite coffee blend, becoming engulfed in the latest TV "doctor-drama" (pic below), or maybe even locking the bedroom door and hiding from your children.
McDreamy (in case you didn't know)
But, the kind of alone time I'm talking about is not the short-lived moments of quietness that leave you feeling the same as it did in the beginning - emotionally drained or weary or depressed or whatever you may have been feeling. The type of alone time I'm talking about is the kind Jesus also needed and the kind he made a priority to have.

The phrases above were taken from the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (haven't made it through John yet). Look at what Jesus faced daily - "heal me," "fix me," "forgive me," "cast out this demon," "bring my child back to life," "make me clean," "me, me, me." Not to mention all of the religious people who were constantly trying to trap him and find a way to discredit him. He was always traveling, always meeting with people, and always serving. If anyone needed alone time it was Jesus. But he didn't need it for himSELF. He needed it to draw closer to his Father. WE need it to draw closer to our Father - it's the only way to make it through each day, each week, each month, each year...each minute!

So, my challenge to you (and me) is to find a quiet, secluded place where we can be alone. We may not have mountains in Charleston but we can certainly find a place where we can meet with our Father. We desperately need it...

Salad Secret...Shhhh...

Wow, this salad looks awesome, right? Look at those nicely torn romaine lettuce pieces...and that perfectly grated parmesan cheese...and those homemade croutons! Wait! Homemade croutons? NOT!

Tip: Buy the Publix bread chips (plain or flavored) and cut or break for instant amazing croutons! And, the best part, check out the price on the container...CHEAP! Not to mention there were a ton of bread chips left over and these are awesome in bruschetta (homemade recipe for another blog another day). Hope this was a helpful tip! I have to thank my bakery friend at Publix for giving me this tip (thank you Publix bakery lady!) Bon Appetit!


Happy Working Song

This is how I start out in the morning...
 But THIS is how I end up...an angry Cinderella
("you want me to clean WHAT?!", "If it's not in the laundry room, it's not getting washed!", "Kids, come back to the table and clear your places...Kids...kiiiids....Kids!") 

Ok, seriously, it's not this dramatic, but you get the picture. What happened to the calm, in control, good-spirited, willing, helpful, servant that woke up in the morning with a cheerful attitude and to-do list? Maybe we put TOO much on our to-do list. Maybe we aren't that good at time management or multi-tasking. Maybe we are just too anxious to complete EVERY task and get easily overwhelmed. Regardless, I tell Matt all the time that "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41). There are so many days that I wish my husband could come home to a spotless house, with an amazing dinner on the table, clean faces, some nice Tomlin playing in the background, orderly children...but most of the time he steps over kid shoes at the door, has to wait 45-minutes until dinner is ready, sees children that look like they've rolled in the mud yet want to hug you just the same, and I wonder if he's immediately stressed out when he walks through the door. I know he's appreciate that we're just home with him. But, still, I have standards for the "type of wife" I want to be, so it's easy to become overwhelmed and disappointed in yourself at the end of another typical day.

I'm not really sure what my point is other than to encourage myself (and you) to start fresh each day. After our, God's mercies start afresh each morning (Lamentations 3:23). So, why shouldn't ours? Start with mercy on yourself. Set a few small goals that you can complete. Or, instead of doing it like I do and cramming it all into one day's worth of work, spread it out over the week. I think I'll try that this week coming up. Who's with me?!


Great Balls of Fire!

Before you begin reading this blog, say a prayer that you will receive wisdom and understanding (seriously, close your eyes...pray...)
Now, read these verses from Luke 9 (Oh, and just some background on where you are in the story: Jesus and His Disciples have been going town to town healing people and teaching the Good News and Jesus' followers have seen some pretty miraculous things so they are "on fire" for God and ready to take on the world!)

51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 Then he and his disciples went to another village. (Luke 9:51-56).

You know what sticks out to me the most? James' and John's statement, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?" How often do we say things like, "what goes around comes around," or "I hope s/he gets what s/he deserves," or even the extreme statements like what some people were posting after a not-so-popular murder trial aired on T.V. How quickly James and John jumped to destroy these people who had wronged Jesus - their Teacher and Friend. It's so easy for Christians to say Jesus loves you and Christians are so forgiving and caring - but really, how often are we so eager to "call fire down from heaven" and destroy others? I get that at times we want justice served - but aren't you thankful that we have a Savior who has chosen to take our place where we are by default "guilty"? I am!

Did you catch the next part in the passage? Jesus turned "and rebuked them." The word "rebuke" according to Meriam-Webster means to criticize sharply. The Greek meaning has several definitions, some including "to tax with fault" or "to admonish or charge sharply." Either way, Jesus was not happy with their immediate response to such meanness and disobedience from the Samaritan village. Some manuscripts have added one additional response from Jesus - "You don't realize what your hearts are like. For the Son of Man has not come to destroy people's lives but to save them."

So, ok, the moral of the story...if we are to serve Christ and share the Gospel with others, our message should not be the "turn or burn" speech or "judge lest ye be judged" or whatever that one is. Jesus cared about saving people, so we should care about leading them to Jesus.

Your challenge? STOP calling down fire from heaven on people! Next time you're angry with someone or upset at the outcome of something or for whatever reason just want to call on your Jesus powers to create raining fire balls, stop and think of how Jesus rebuked James and John. And pray that there's some way Jesus can show you how to reach that person. Then, just as they did, move on to "another village."


Good Christian Panties

So, my mom sent me this video today of a pastor dressed as a woman doing a lecture on the ungodliness of thong underwear. Of course, I laughed and had to share with all of you - but then it got me thinking - are thongs really ungodly? Is there a such thing as "good Christian panties" as the video states? 

Watch this and then I'll tell you what I think...

Ok, so here's what I came up with...motive...WHY wear a thong? Are they cheaper than regular underwear? Better functionality? Comfort (hehe - yeah right!)? Ladies, you will all have different opinions on this. Here's what I can tell you - if someone views thongs as ungodly it's probably because they see them as allowing more of the body to show than the opposite trusty 'ol "granny panties." But if you think about it - look at all the different styles of underwear a girl has to choose from...

Boy Shorts
Cotton Panties
Hi-Cut Panties
Lace Panties
Bikini Low-Rise Hipsters

I mean, REALLY! What's a girl to do! It's stressful enough standing in Walmart (with everyone staring at you) trying to figure out which size you are, then realizing the ONE pack you find that's the color you want is only offered in hipster, boy short, or hi-cut! It's no wonder we try and buy something that looks like a one-size-fits-all-string! 

To me, under garments are a personal choice so I will not be sharing my preference for underwear on this blog...I don't think there's a such thing as "good Christian panties." Personally, I think as long as your panties are seated on a church pew every Sunday, that's the important thing! :) 


"Worthy of His Praise" - What's That About?

I thought long and hard about the title of my blog site and eventually ended up with "Worthy of His Praise." Obviously, the "His" part isn't referring to my son or husband or any other human man in my life. I'm referring to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I struggle daily, as I'm sure most women do, with what my purpose is in life - "Should I have a full-time, high-salaried job? Should I quit altogether and stay home? Why am I so exhausted all the time? Why do I never feel like I measure up compared to other wives and mothers? When will the laundry stop?!" But, I think an even better question is, "WHO am I doing all this for?"

So...over the past few months I've come to a realization - I'm not doing all of this for my kids or husband (although of course I strive to serve them daily); I'm not doing all of this to meet some expectation of a woman society has made up; I'm not even doing this to satisfy ME. I do it all for Him - Christ. Why? I have always been encouraged by what Paul wrote in Colossians: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." (Col. 3:23-24). This particular passage in context was written to address slaves who worked for an earthly master. But, as moms and wives, isn't that what we do? We are slaves to dirty dishes, laundry, bills, responsibilities at the office, homework, deadlines, and grocery lines. BUT, if we can just adjust our mindset and heart to doing these things "as working for the Lord" it not only makes it more satisfying and rewarding - but it pleases Him.

So, "Worthy of His Praise" is about the day-to-day journey of working and living for a greater purpose - living to be worthy of His praise...

My Blogging Disclaimer

In creating this blog, I'm hoping to share life with others. I might post a really awesome recipe, share a funny story, offer some very deep insight, talk about unusual things, rant and rave about nothing, review scripture, or share some song lyrics. Regardless, my plan is to be random and real. In doing this, please understand that I'm human, I'm not perfect, I'm learning every day, I don't have an answer for every question, I'm not a Biblical scholar (I'm a Business major), and I don't really have a theme for my blogs. Feel free to send me your comments - I'd love to know what you think! Enjoy!

About Me

My photo
I am a local Charlestonian, born and raised in good 'ol South Carolina. I have only been to other surrounding states within a days drive since I refuse to fly in an airplane - so let's see - that includes NC, GA, FL, and I think I may have crossed the border into VA at some point. I've been to the Bahamas 3 times (since you can get there by cruise ship) but one day I hope to visit Mexico. After my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the second love of my life is my high school sweetheart, Matt. We were married at ages 19 and 21 (I'm the younger one) and in the past 8 years have acquired two amazing kids - Sammy and Maddie. We have a fairly new member of the family, Casey, who is a black lab/shepherd/pit bull mix and is very lazy. We "McCall's" have a family motto: "McCall's never give up" (for some reason this has stuck with us all). We all have a passion for music and treasure our family time. Every moment is a gift...