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Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Nasty Visitor

This week we had a nasty visitor at our home, the stomach flu! It started the day after Christmas with our son and continued to make its rounds. Although it only stayed for 24 hours (per person), they were 24 miserable, achy, messy hours. I was the second to find myself in bed instead of the mall. As I lay there, I just keep praying that my mom (who is still recovering from knee surgery) and daughter didn't catch this awful bug. It never really crossed my mind to pray for my husband because he NEVER gets sick! In 11 years of marriage, I've only seen him stay-home-from-work sick twice. Well, I guess I should have added him to the list because sure enough, he caught it on Wednesday.
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Image from NY Daily News

Although he felt terrible, he kept our dinner date with my best friend and her husband who were visiting from out of town. He knew how much that day meant to me because I only see her a couple of times a year. After struggling through our meal (I still wasn't feeling well either), we called it an early night and headed home.

The next morning my husband didn't look much better. He never complains, but I could tell he still felt terrible. Although all of him wanted to crawl back under the warmth of his blankets, he turned on the shower and got ready for work, not because he wanted to, but because he knew it was a very busy day and he didn't want to let his co-workers down. Uniform on and Dayquil in hand, he came downstairs to attack his day with what very little energy he had left. Our son looked and him and asked if he was really going to work (knowing how his dad felt because he had been in the same place only three short days earlier).
"Yep"
"But you're sick."
"Yep, well sometimes you have to do things you don't want to or don't feel like doing, even when you're sick."

I was so proud of my man! Going to work with the flu probably wasn't the best idea. However, in that moment, he taught our son a valuable lesson in character. It's not about you. Others were counting on him and he wasn't going to let them down. He wasn't going to leave his co-workers short handed on a very busy day. If they wanted to send him home sick (which they did), that would be their call.

Having a good work ethic is a rare thing these days. It is a value that we want to instill in our children; but more than that, it's a value that the Lord commands of us.* As parents, we can talk to our children. We can tell them what is good, acceptable and expected. Yet, nothing speaks louder than a good example to follow.



*If you want more information concerning a Biblical work ethic go to http://www.bibleclassbooks.com/teaching-values/work-ethic.html

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"The Prince of Peace"

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

Christmas 1997
I was 18 years old, a sophomore in college, and spending my first Christmas away from my mom. It wasn't my schooling that kept me from my mom that year, but a new relationship...with my dad. I met him for the first time at my high school graduation, only six months prior . For 18 years it had been just mom and me. She never remarried, never dated. She had devoted her entire life to raising me, giving me every opportunity she possibility could, making sacrifices I still don't fully understand. That year she sacrificed our favorite holiday to allow a man she hadn't seen in almost 20 years, the chance to spend Christmas with his only child.

Thinking back, I only remember being excited to fly from my small Ohio town to LA. I was spending Christmas in Hollywood with my dad!!! In fact, excited is probably an understatement. I honestly don't remember much about that trip. I remember attending a Christmas party, having dinner with some of Dad's friends and going to see "Titanic" at the movies. However, God opened my eyes a few days ago to how my mom spent that Christmas-alone.

As a mom myself, I can't imagine not being able to spend this special time of year with my kids, regardless how old they get. I certainly can't image spending it totally alone because someone from my past has re-entered my life, opening old wounds. Yet, despite her pain and loneliness, she gave me that Christmas, with her blessing. She never complained. She never said a negative word. She helped me pack. She drove me to the airport. She listened as I went on and on about the day's adventure. Looking back, I'm sure her heart was breaking. I'm sure she cried herself to sleep and prayed more than usual for those two weeks. What I do remember is how peaceful she handled the situation. What an amazing example of God's great peace that passes all understanding! Her actions and attitude went against everything in our human nature. She put the needs of her daughter and a father above her own. She didn't do what was fair. She didn't act on emotions. She didn't allow years of pain to dictate her decisions. She had a choice. She chose to keep the peace.

This Christmas, you may find yourself spending time with family members who have caused you pain. Perhaps you are more stressed about the amount of tension at the dinner table than about the general busyness of the season. This year I challenge you to make a choice. I challenge you to let the Prince of Peace shine through you this Christmas. It probably won't be easy (or it wouldn't be called a challenge). It may stretch you into an uncomfortable place outside your box. It's ok! That's when you rely on the One who holds the world in His mighty hands, to provide you with strength, grace and peace. It's up to you. It's your choice. Will you choose to keep the peace in your family this Christmas?

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18

Feature Me Friday

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Prefect Shot

Every year I pain-staking try to get the perfect shot for our annual Christmas cards. I normally have the kids dressed up in cute outfits they'll only wear one more time (on Christmas Eve to church). I spend more time than necessary trying to decide when, where & how the shot should look. I know, I totally over think this.


Bellagio ConservatoryWell, this year I tried my best to simplify things. I chose more casual outfits that they will wear over and over while still festive. Now for the location. Living in Las Vegas leads to a host of photo opportunities, especially at Christmas. My husband and I planned to venture down to The Strip and check out a couple beautiful hotels, Bellagio and the Venetian. The Bellagio has an amazing conservatory that they change four times a year. This Christmas, it has hundreds of red and white poinsettias, a huge polar bear of carnations, ice-skating penguins and a 55-foot Christmas tree. Talk about backdrops! Perfect!!
We set the kids in front of the penguins. No smiles (sigh). Ok, no worries. The polar bears are cute. Cheese....nothing! We have a 9 yr old who's is taking one great picture after another and a 3 yr old who wants NOTHING to do with this whole adventure! The Christmas tree...what better backdrop for a Christmas card! Yep, you guessed it. Not even a silly, goofy grin. I'm not sure she even looked at the camera. My hopes for even a "so-so" card were quickly fading.


Without any good shots, we decided to move on to the Venetian. Maybe she needed a change of scenery. On our way out, we passed a hugh planter of more red and white poinsettias. I sat Leah on the edge and had Logan stand next to her. And just like that, we had our picture! Both smiling, check; both looking at the camera, check; no weird stuff in the background, check! We did it!! We still went to the Venetian and took some pictures. But nothing was a good as that random, last-minute shot. Sometimes the best stuff isn't planned.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mary, Did You Know?



What's your MOST favorite Christmas song? Mine is "Mary, Did You Know?" The lullaby brings me to tears every time.


2 comments:

Ginny Mariesaid...
What beautiful and meaningful words!

Here's a link to one of my favorite carols; we sing it in church every once in a while, but I first heard Sting sing it.

The Angel Gabriel

http://youtu.be/pliqObTHxUQ
Rebeccasaid...
I love O Holy Night...my favorite version is Shawn McDonald's (here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AUGEfuGxwA&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PL7C3F7C2C1504354E)

A close second is Casting Crowns- I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day (here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7670CXvPX0)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Plate

A friend of mine once said that if your plate seems too full, then it's time to get a bigger plate. At the time, I thought it was the craziest statement. I still do.

Today, my plate feels like it's cracking, not because of the Christmas season or the busyness it entails. It wouldn't matter the time of year or the season. I don't need a bigger plate. I need a break. Not just a break because my sweet, loving husband is wonderful at giving me those whenever I need one. No. I need a vacation. Oh, and if it's not too late to ask (being that I'm in my 30s) a sibling would be nice too.

See, I'm an only child, which I have never minded. In fact, I've always kind of enjoyed not having to share my single mom with anyone else. And to be honest, I never missed having siblings. I guess I never missed what I never had. That was until now...

In August, my mom suffered a knee injury. After three months of being wheelchair bound, she was finally able to have a total knee replacement just a month ago (Nov 8). During those three months, I had to do everything for her because she was unable to drive: take her to doctor appointments, grocery shopping, pick up prescriptions, make dinner, help with insurance questions, as well as, manage my own family. Although the months were trying and long, we both saw a light at the end of the tunnel with her surgery. Even though we knew that there would still be months of physical therapy ahead (which I would have to drive her to and from 3x a week), her pain would be less, she would be able to walk and ultimately regain her independence. Motivated by the desire to be an active grandma again-playing with her grandkids, taking them to the movies, having sleepovers that usually include a trip to Chuck E Cheese and Target, she has worked tirelessly with her exercises and therapy, which made today's set back that much more disappointing.

Because of the amount of scar tissue, she isn't getting the full range of motion that she should be. So on Tuesday she goes back in for another "procedure" to break up the scar tissue and hopefully regain the ability to fully bend her knee. We both know this is necessary if she ever wants to be "back to normal". However, all we could hear the doctor saying was that it would set her progress back by 2-3 weeks and increase her pain for a few days. Although we know it's only for a short time, our silver lining had tarnished just like that.

Yet as I sit here, spewing my "woe-is-mes" I am reminded of two things:
(1) That God will NEVER leave us or forsake us~Joshua 1:5. He promises to ALWAYS be our source of strength when we have none. He tells us to "Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you.~I Peter 5:7.
(2) There are so many who have lost their moms far too soon. They long for just another moment with them. They would cherish the chance to make them dinner, take them to a doctor's appointment, care for them.

Time is precious. As our parents begin to age and we are called to a new role, may our sweet Heavenly Father grant us, grant me, the patience, grace,compassion and understand to juggle their needs, along with those of our families. I love the words of this old hymn:

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Traditions ~ Lights in the Desert

Last weekend, we fulfilled one of our annual family traditions during the Christmas season, seeing the lights. Now when I was a kid, growing up in northwest Ohio, we would get all bundled up in the sub-zero temperatures, drink hot cocoa and drive around town in search of the neighborhood with the best light display. Things are a little different here in the Las Vegas desert. While there are neighborhoods with beautiful displays, the city has a couple of community options to visit. This year we chose a new one (per the recommendation of our 9 year old who had visited the display with Grandma a couple of years ago). We went to see the lighted cactus garden. (That's right, cactus garden. Yep that's how we do it in the desert...lol).

It was one of the prettiest displays I've seen in a long time. The evening was mild (meaning in the 50s. For us wimpy southwest residents that is still considered cold). We walked up and down the winding paths, sharing in the squeals and excitement of our kids as they saw all the colors. At the end of the path, in a high back chair, sat a jolly man in a red suit and white fluffy beard. Although our 9 year old could tell "he's not the real Santa. His beard is sooo fake.", our 3 year old was happy to share her desire for a Tangled doll with the beloved stranger. After freezing the moment with smiles and a flash, the kids were given a surgery treat and we were on our way.

It was a beautiful evening to kick off this beautiful season!



Thursday, December 1, 2011

Twas' the Month Before Christmas


Twas' the month before Christmas
and all through the day,
Chaos was stirring
from every which way.

Baking and parites and
shopping galore.
Toys and laundry
piled high on the floor.

No time for housework.
The cleaning will wait.
There are too many things
piled high on my plate.

Just look at this list.
There's so much to do.
"Put down that cookie
and go find your shoe."

We have to go shopping.
There's gifts left to find,
Decorations to put up,
and lights to unwind.

It's dinner at Ihop.
Kids eat there for free.
Then we'll hurry home
and put up the tree.

Our budget is tight
but we always make due.
“What! You still have not

found your shoe!”
With shoes on and
Kids bundled up tight,
We will go brave the crowds
and fight the good fight.

Parking and traffic are
out of control.
I believe all this chaos is
taking it’s toll.

I’m stressed to the max!
Where is the joy?
Isn’t Christmas about more
than just presents and toys?

It’s not about parties,
cookies or trees.
It’s not about cards
we send annually.

It’s not about carols
sung by a choir
Or couples snuggled
up by the fire.

It’s not about Rudolph,
Santa or sleighs.
It’s not about grandmas
that got in their way.

It’s not about Scrooge,
the Grinch or an Elf.
Or a man who chuckled in
spite of himself.

All these traditions are joyous
and fun.
But Christmas is only
about the birth of God’s Son.

Love sent to Earth
as a sweet, tiny babe.
He was wrapped up in cloth
and laid in the hay.

Who came down from glory
for you and for me
That we’d be forgiven
and from sin set free.

So make this Christmas different.
There‘s no time to waste.
You have the choice
to slow down the pace.

Make this Christmas special
full of the wonder and glory
That only comes from a
Christ-centered story.

 

May the true meaning of Christmas ring in your heart and homes this holiday season. Merry Christmas & may 2012 be Blessed Beyond Measure!
 

 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blessed are the Peacemakers

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This past Sunday was GREAT (and not just because the Cowboys finally got their act together and won.)!! You know the kind of Sunday where you could go home after the opening worship because it ministers so deeply to your heart! But it didn't stop with the worship. The message was equally as powerful. I had planned to bring my red, sprial companion with me (as she goes everywhere now and I usually get some great blogging material from our sermons). Unfortunally, she got left behind and I had to resort to the back of the offering envelope. Well, let me tell you, I write pretty small and the back of that envelope is covered with great stuff from Eph 4 (which I will dive into in an upcoming post).

One of the main points was that as Christians, we are called (and by called I mean "invited") to live a life of unity.  I have been seeing Matthew 5:9, "Blessed are the peacemakers," scroll across my screen several times in the past couple of days. So the theme has been on my mind lately but I wasn't sure why. Until I went online...

As I checked my emails, I noticed one from a family member. She had written it on my Facebook wall (so everyone could read it). This wasn't the first message I'd received from her that was unkind. She had been leaving them for over a week. I had not responded because like Thumper's momma always says,"If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." Not exactly words of scripture, but good advise none the less.  As I read the lastest one, my temper began to rise. Enough was enough!! I couldn't hold my tounge another minute! She had attacked my family loyality, my character and even my testimony as a Christian, which in all honesty was in danger at this point! She is not a believer and has a tendency to speak first and think later. And because my testimony is so very important to me (especially to my unsaved family members), I normally hold my tounge. But this time she'd gone too far.

As I went about my morning, stewing over the situation and carefully choosing the words I was going to use in my reply, Matthew 5:9 kept repeating itself over and over in my mind. "Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are the peacemakers." "But God you don't understand. This isn't right! She can't keep saying hurtful things and get away with it. I have to say something!" "Blessed are the peacemakers." "Seriously???!! You have to be kidding!  She's not even talking to me privately about this. She's posting it on my Facebook wall so EVERYONE can read it!!" "Blessed are the peacemakers." Even as I was having this inner argument, my heart knew what I had to do. All the "Buts..." didn't matter. My feelings, honestly, didn't matter. God was calling me to unity. He was calling me to be the peacemaker, whether I wanted to do it or not.

I opened my email and sent a simple, two-sentence reply. All I did was answer the question she had initially asked and just let the rest go. I didn't respond the way I wanted to. But it wasn't about me (although it sure felt like it.) It was about answering the call to a life of peaceful obedience, regardless of my own personal feelings. I clicked "send" and let God take care of the rest, which He did. The next day, another message was waiting for me, an apology for the harsh way she had spoken to me. In all our years, I've never received an apology from her. I knew in that moment that God had indeed taken care of the situation and honored my obedience. Had I responded the way I wanted to feelings would have been hurt, a relationship would have been damaged and worst of all, my testimony would have been tarnished~possibily leaving a lasting impression of what a "Christian" is really like.

God is a God of justice. It is up to Him to right wrongs, in His own way, in His own time.

With Thanksgiving only a week away, you may have to spend time with people that have offended you, hurt you. This holiday, don't allow the enemy to ruin a beautiful time with loved ones. Let this holiday be a new beginning. Be the peacemaker you have been called to be!

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Can See Clearly Now...


The house is quiet, minus the tick-tock of the clock. Tea is in hand, laptop is opened, pen and notebook are ready. I’ve been looking forward to this time all day - my time to sit, reflect on God's direction, organize my thoughts, and write.  I open my red, spiral companion and allow her to remind me of all the ideas that have dashed through my mind. So many ideas: layout designs, new topics, potential series, upcoming holiday posts, music, quotes, blogs to visits, scriptures - the list is ever growing.

I log online, open a new post and set my fingers in place. Suddenly, my mind goes blank! I look to my constant companion for help… nothing. I read over her entries, wondering which one God wants me to pursue. Still…nothing. They all seem like a jumbled mess. I try to write again, but end up staring at a white screen. Frustration takes hold. These precious moments are slipping away. I stop, try to collect my thoughts. In the busyness of the day, my mind and soul are full to overflowing, filling up pages. Now, in the stillness, clarity eludes me. Then it hits me: this is another spiritual attack!

Of course! It makes perfect sense now! I can't believe I didn't see it before!!

My mind reflects on a recent post,
God at Work, where I shared how God had been working in my heart, but fears and insecurities were polluting my mind, soul and sleep. Since the post, I have been engaged in a battle. With my sword of the Spirit in hand, I have been throwing scriptural punches like Holyfield defending his heavy-weight title. Every time a thought creeps in, I swing with another jab of truth. I have felt my opponent getting weaker (or so I thought). Now I realize he has only changed his strategy. Instead of using my fears and insecurities, he has been clouding my mind just at the time when I am most productive. In his true, sneaky style, he has used the thoughts God intends for ministry, twisting them into a fog of confusion. He has robbed me of valuable quiet time, time when I am able to give God my undivided attention. Well, NO MORE!! I'm wise to his new trick. I cry out for clarity, confident in the promise that greater is HE that is in me, then he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4)!

The battle rages on, as it always will. Our enemy will never stop trying to destroy the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the growth of the church and the work of the saints. Am I still fearful, insecure...blank? NO WAY! I am excited!! I can see clearly again!! And my guard it up, watching for his next strategy change. I believe that if the enemy is threatened enough to attack, then that is God's confirmation that I'm right where He wants me!

What about you? Do you feel spiritually attacked, beaten down, overwhelmed by the task set before you? Or Have you walked through the valley and found His promises to be true - we are more than conquerors? I'd love to hear from you.

 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:8-11 (NIV) 

 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cook Once & Eat Twice


With my mom having surgery on Tuesday, dinner is that last thing I want to worry about this week. But, I don't want my family dinning on a steady diet of fast food either. So I decided to minimize the cooking and maximize the meals.

This week's menu is all about cooking one meal and reusing the leftovers in something totally different. For example, on Monday make BBQ country style ribs. Before putting the leftovers away, take a fork and pull the meat apart. Voila! Your sandwiches are ready for Tuesday night's dinner. I purposely made the sides quick and easy too this week. Most of them can either be made up ahead of time (baked beans, coleslaw, au gartin potatoes) or they take less than 5 minutes to prepare (buttered peas and onions, steamed broccoli, salads).

So don't let a busy week be an excuse to take the easy way out. You're tummy, wallet and family will thank you!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Harvest Blessings


I am far from a crafty gal. Give me and apron, let me cook or bake and I'm in heaven. Expect me to cut, draw or paste and I shudder. But, this year I wanted our pumpkin to be displayed past Halloween and last longer than the usual week after being carved; so I decided to paint it with a harvest theme. I was really pleased with the outcome. Below is the how-to:






Tools:
- Quote or picture that you want to apply
- Pumpkin poker (they are included in carving kits)
- Sharpie or paint
- Bow and matching ribbon
- Tacky glue
- Scissors





1. Tape your picture or saying to the pumpkin.
2. Use the pumpkin poker to outline the image. (just like you would if you were going to carve it)
3. Use a fine tip Sharpie or paint to fill in the picture. (I used a marker because of the small detail & decorative font.)








1. Attached the bow around the stem with the twist-tie. If your pumpkin doesn't have a stem, use the Tacky glue or a hot glue gun to attach the bow directly to the pumpkin.
2. Measure the ribbon to the length you want, cut them.
3. Glue the ribbon together.
4. Once dried, glue the ribbon to the pumpkin, being sure to hide the tops under the bow.
5. Bend the ribbons and fluff the bow to your linking.
6. Enjoy!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

God at Work


How do I know God's really working and moving? Because I'm feeling spiritually attacked on all sides.
Although BBM hasn't been up and running for a long time, I know in my heart that God wants to use it for His glory. I have spent countless hours in prayer over the words that I type, the topics covered and the people who log on. And honestly, it would be a lot easier if He would have just said, "Yeah, maybe this is just a hobby. Let's try a different ministry." But just the opposite has happened. My passion for BBM has grown and my heart's desire to see it used to bring women into a closer relationship with Him has become my driving force.

So how am I being attacked? The enemy knows our weaknesses and loves to throw them in our face any chance he gets. I have felt insecure in my writing abilities. I have been stressed out trying to find time to write. I've been totally over-thinking every word I type and the design of my blog. These are all things that before I never worried about. When I wrote, I just wrote. Whatever was on my mind went on the page (kinda like right now). I guess this is a kind of vent of my soul.

Secondly, I have been awakened in the night with my biggest fears boldly in my mind. Fears that I normally don't ever think or worry about; fears that I know God has in full control.

I don't know what God's plan is for BBM. What I do know is that He has given me a strong desire to reach out to women. I know that, for now at least, He wants me to use the blogging world as my ministry. As with any ministry, the enemy will try everything he can to destroy it. But I believe that my God is mighty! He is able to do exceedingly more than we can ask or think! There is no weapon (fear, insecurities, NOTHING) that will prosper! Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world! God's got this. And where He wants to take it is up to Him! I'm just a vessel, humbled that he would choose to use me.

It's a Blog Party!



Courtney at WomenLivingWell.org is hosting a blog party. She's asked us to tell a little about ourselves. So here's a lil' about me.

Hi! My name is Torrie. For the past 11 years, I have been married to the love of my life. God has given us 2 beautiful kiddos, Logan (9) and Leah (3), which are my full-time joy. For the past 2 years, we have called Las Vegas home.

I love Jesus, Bible studies, good friends, cooking & baking, shopping, reading, music, coffee, tea, all things food, and of course...blogging! Although I've only been blogging seriously for about 6 months, I have loved writing since high school. Here you will find post about family life, parenting, marriage, lessons God is teaching me and my family, meal planning, and recipes. My "desk" is not exactly, well a desk. I write where ever I can find a quiet conner of the house, which usually is in our bedroom.

I blog because, after feeling God calling me to do so and A LOT of prayer, I believe that it is where He wants to use me. He has given me a passion for blogging and reaching out to women. It is the desire of my heart that God uses the simple words that are written here to the fullness of His glory.

"May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalms 19:14

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I ♥ Fall!


I LOVE fall!! It has become my favorite time of the year. For me, it's the beginning of the holiday season. I love the smell of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove; the bueaty of the leaves as they change color, the crisp air that calls for sweatshirts & jeans. I love the food: chili, carmel apples, pumpkin rolls, pumpkin spiced latte. (Now you didn't think I could mention fall foods without our Starbucks favorite. I mean it's fall when you're holding a pumpkin spiced latte and it's Christmas when you're shopping with an eggnog latte in your hand.) I love the activities: jumping in the leaves, hayrides, corn mazes, pumpkin carving, fall festivals and of course football!!

One of my most favorite fall activites is taking the kids to the pumpkin patch. For the past two years, I have had a specific one in mind; and each year something has happened, preventing us from making the 2 hour trip. So this year, my husband got tickets to a local patch. We didn't know anything about it. He just got an email with a coupon, so off we went. (Well, not exactly off...the kids and I drove by the day before to check it out. Needless to say, it was not exactly what we ( I mean "I") had in mind.) It was at a local ranch and was much smaller than I had anticipated. But trying to stay positive, I encouraged the kids to give it a chance, all the while trying to convience myself to do the same.


So the next day after school, the four of us piled in the SUV and off we went. We arrived just as it was opening. As we walked in, there were pumpkins EVERYWHERE. There were horses (not ponys) to ride, a hay pyramid to climb, hayrides,  a variety of farm animals to pet and feed. The kids were in heaven! They fed carrots and celery to the horses. They rode the horse. We all went for a hayride (which my allergies still haven't forgiven me for). They climbed to the top of the hay-ramid. And we all agreed on the biggest pumpkin we could find!! It was a great afternoon; full of fun, our favorite family traditions, and new memories. Sometimes the best days together are the ones that didn't start out just the way you planned. 

Logan and Leah petting a cute bunny.

They made it to the top! Not so sure she likes it much. :)


Ready for our hayride.


My hero! Daddy carrying our special pumpkin.




Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Best Mother in Law!

At our Bible study this week, we had a special treat. One of the girls brought her visiting mother-in-law (MIL) with her. For most of the time, she just sat quietly as she listened to us discuss our study. Then at the end, she began to share how God has worked in her life, her experiences, she gave advise to us young moms, and she shared the love she has for her daughter-in-law. She was an absolute delight! As I listened to her, my mind continued to reflect on my own MIL, and what a special gift she is to me.

From the time my husband and I began dating, my (now) MIL has always accepted me just the way I am. This was huge! Most of my life I had felt like an outsider. Her gracious acceptance of me was the beginning of what has become a beautiful, sweet relationship.

Over the years, our relationship has continued to blossom and grow. We are more than in-laws. We are more than family. We are friends. We genuinally enjoy each other's company-shopping together, talking together, hanging around the house together. We look forward to the time we get to spend together, especially since we live in different states. We talk often, even if it's just a quick "Hi. I was thinking of you. Love ya!" But what makes our relationship even more special is that we each have a deep love for Jesus. Over the past couple of years, we have grown even closer as we have shared what God is doing in our lives-watching him provide for all of our needs, giving us strength to go through some very challenging circumstances, extending an encouraging word to each other, trusting that God is ultimately in control and resting in that promise. It's one thing to have a friendship with someone. It's something so much more special when you are able to freely share your faith with them.

When I got married, I realized that I was not only marrying my husband. I was marrying into a family. It breaks my heart that so often, MILs are seen as meddling, troublesome, unwelcomed house guests that have to be put up with from time to time. I am so blessed that God has given me not only a wonderful husband, but also the best in-laws I could have ever prayed for.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Message from Dr. Phil

A few weeks ago, I happen to catch the end of an episode of Dr. Phil. I don't normally watch the show, but for some reason I sat down and began to listen to the exchange between a frustrated father and his "out-of-control" daughter. At the end of the discussion, Dr. Phil said to the father, "When it comes to being a father, you're doing a great job. But right now she doesn't need a father. She needs her daddy." The daughter just nodded, tears streaming down her face. She knew she was making poor choices and was headed in the wrong direction. But she didn't need another "I told you so!" She needed the unconditional love of her parent. The statement was so powerful to me. It's been on my mind ever since, probably because this is an area of my own life where I really struggle...knowing when to be a consistent, stick-to-the-rules, there-is-a-consequence-for-your-actions "mother" and when I need to exercise mercy and grace and be "mommy". It's such a fine line.

As I meditated on this, I was reminded of how our Heavenly Father "parents" his children. He is our Abba Father, our Daddy!! He is mercy and love. He is always ready to meet us right where we are, in the circumstances and messes of our own making. He extends his grace and mercy, in love. Regardless, if consequences need to be enforced or if a loving embrace is enough, both need to be done out of unconditional love-not frustration, not judgement, not anger.  Sounds so easy (especially since we do love our children unconditionally). So why is it so hard?

The father on Dr. Phil had been doing a great job of being aware of his daughter's actions and applying consequences to them. And although he loved his daughter deeply, her decisions were causing him so much pain. He had allowed that pain to transfer into anger and frustration. In fact, he admitted he could not remember the last time he told her, "I love you."; but she did. It had been over 6 months! Imagine going 6 months not being hugged, not being told your loved, not feeling valued!! It humbles me to think that this is truly what I deserve as a sinful human being. Yet, because of his great love and mercy for me (and you), God never withholds his love from us! No matter what we've done or how far we've strayed, he is always there, arms outstretched, waiting to love on us!!

The question still begs an answer, "When do I enforce punishment and when do I just wrap my arms around my child and not say a word?" Well, I'm sorry to say, I don't have that answer. (Trust me, I wish I did!). What I do know is that we have the best example of parenting when we look to our Heavenly Father. If we follow His truths and ask Him daily for wisdom and guidance, He promises to give it to us freely (James 5:1).

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Heaven for Real


I LOVE to read! There was a time when I would read 3 books at the same time-1 in the car, 1 by my bed and 1 at work. Then came my beautiful children and life got just a little busier. Now I'm happy to finish a book every 6 months (since I fall asleep after just a couple of pages! LOL). But today I finished an amazing book. It was so good that I read it in under a month! It's called Heaven Is For Real and whether you already believe in heaven or you struggle with questions, this book will give you a glimpse into the unknown. It's the true account of a little boy's trip to heaven and back. Sound a little far fetched? That's what his parents, a pastor and his wife, thought too-that was until their son could tell them things there was no way he could possibly know.

I highly recommend this books (as if you couldn't tell). Want some more info about it first? Check out the link below. It's an interview the family gave in March 2011 on TODAY. Happy Reading! :-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=F3xItrGOi6Q

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Put on a happy face

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." I Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Do you rejoice always, in all things, in all circumstances? Yeah, me either! I mean I know I should. It's what we are instructed to do. But sometimes, I'm just not happy with my situation. However, I was lead to these verses a couple of days ago and they have continued to ring in my mind. First, let me take you back about 2 weeks. On Saturday, Aug 13th, my mom came to live with us, not permanently, but still without any notice. For several days, she had been having a lot of pain in her left knee. So on my way home from the gym, I called to check on her. No answer. I tried her cell. She was in tears, telling me she was on her way to our house. She'd been to the ER, she had her clothes and she was going to stay with us for awhile. WHAT!!! Ok, it's only for a couple of days (or so we thought). Little did we know, she no longer has any cartilage in that knee and needs a total knee replacement. So she has been in a lot of pain; and we have had to rearrange our home, schedules and lives to accommodate her present needs.

Now, I come from a family (as does my husband) that strongly believes in caring for your parents as they age. Inconvenience aside, we both knew it was the right thing to do. And although better than I used to be, I'm still not very good at "rolling with the punches". I am a planner. I need warning and time to prepare before changes can be made in my life. But apparently, God had forgotten about that little quirk, because 10 minutes later she was in our living room, leg propped up in a recliner (no, not my husband's). Did I mention, she had to bring her big, slobbery Boxer too. (sigh)

So if you can't tell, I've been stressed out!!! I really felt like I needed to go in a closet or up to a mountain top so God and I could have a chat. But between caring for 2 kids, my mom, 2 dogs and a husband,  there has barely been time for a shower. So while enjoying a few quiet moments, I felt God lead me to read I Thessalonians 5:17. I read the 2 short words, "pray continually," and decided to read the surrounding verses. "Rejoice always. Give thanks in all circumstances." Immediately, I knew that God was speaking to me about my attitude and the stress I'd been feeling. I LOVE  how God meets you right where you are, with the perfect words you need to hear. He knew my quirks. He knew I'd be stressed. He knew how overwhelmed I'd be. He knew HE had it all under control. And He knew what verse to use to speak to me, familiar verses revealed in a new light. I can't control what God allows to bring into my life. But I can control my attitude. He says "rejoice, pray and give thanks." They aren't suggestions. They are commands!  And although it may be difficult at times, it's what I will strive to do.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Change my heart, Oh God!



As a parent, you experience everything your kids go through, just on a grander scale. When they succeed, you beam with joy; when they fall, you rush to pick them up; when they are sad, your heart break with them and when they make a tough (but right) choice you smile and thank God that at least something you said got through.

I thought the hard part of parenting was the sleepless nights, the potty training, the whining, the temper tantrums and the embarrassing questions from the mouths of babes. Oh, how wrong I was! I think God has given me two children with a 6 1/2 year age gap as a reminder that in fact...this is the easy part! I'm coming to the conclusion that the older they get the harder your heart breaks for them and the more prayers you pray. So then why is it so hard for me to totally pray my kids over to God? I mean, He created them, and loves them more than I could ever imagine. He has allowed my husband and I the privilege of caring for them, and trusted us to do so. So as they are beginning to make their own choices (and not all of them being what I would make for them), why don't I trust that He will cover them, protect them, guide them, and ultimately bring them back to Him if need be? I trust God so completely with other areas of my life, yet find it such a struggle to give my precious babes back to Him. When in fact, they were His precious angels before they were mine.

Tonight, my 9 year old prayed that God would change his heart and help him be more kind to his sister. But his isn't the only heart that needs to change...


"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." ~ Proverbs 22:6

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Time for Me

I'm exhausted! Even as I write this post today, I am struggling to keep my eyes open. Blame it on the heat, the humidity, or just life in general - but Momma needs a break (or at least a nap)!

Sometimes, we as moms, think we are the Energizer bunny. We just keep going until our tank is empty, then we continue to run on fumes. And if we do take a couple of minutes (and I do mean a couple of minutes) for ourselves, that little voice begins reminding us of all the things that still need to be done. Whether it's society or our own need to feel like Super Mom, we tell ourselves to just keep going right into exhaustion. We become stressed out and frustrated. We aren't able to be the wives, mothers, friends or women we want to be, that we're called to be. And really the solution is simple: all we need is a break. And guess what??? It's ok!! In fact, it's necessary.

I learned shortly after I became a SAHM (stay at home mom) that although I had everything I ever wanted, I needed some "me time". I found it doesn't have to be long, maybe only 30 minutes or so. But I desperately needed it and I bet you do too. Find something you enjoy-read a book, take a nap when the kids take one, go to the gym, grab a cup of coffee, just sit and enjoy the silence, re-discover a hobby. The dishes and laundry will still be there when you're done. Chances are you will be refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of your day.  So what are you waiting for? Go enjoy some "me time" before the kids find you online. :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Surprise Mom!

I've never really been one who likes surprises. I guess it interferes with my desire to be in control. But, as a mom, "surprises" are a daily occurrence; like finding out you've been volunteered to bake goodies for school tomorrow and it's 9pm, cleaning out the kid's backpack to find last week's lunch, or (my favorite) finding a sippy cup of milk under the sofa. (Yep, makes you gag just thinking about it, huh!).

Well, our 9 year old loves to surprise us. Sometimes they are sweet, wonderful surprises, like cleaning his bathroom without being asked, vacuuming a room just to be helpful, or making me a cup of my favorite tea when he sees I'm a little stressed. These surprises I LOVE. They warm my heart and remind me of what a sweet, thoughtful son I have. But, although they come from the same sweet spot in his heart, not all of his surprises turn out as planned. Wednesday was one of those nights.

"Surprise Mom!" he said as he came into the backyard. Just the words made me feel a twing of panic. "What surprise?" I asked. "I put the dishes away," he said. Now this wasn't a surprise since I'd asked him 3 times to put the dishes away and had threatened not to take him to the pool tomorrow if I had to ask again. "What do you mean?" I asked. "I put the dishes that were in the sink in the dishwasher after I put everything away." Sounds good so far, right. Oh, just wait...

About 20 minutes later, I came back inside. As I walked past the dishwasher, I noticed a small pool of suds on the floor. My heart sank and I closed my eyes as I opened the door, bracing myself for the inevitable. Yep, you guessed it. He surprised me by washing the dishes in the dishwasher with liquid dish soap!!! Although the dishwasher was filled with suds, only that small amount had leaked onto the floor. As I stared at more bubbles than I knew what to do with, I couldn't help but smile. It was like being in the middle of a sitcom; the only difference was I caught it at the beginning of the wash cycle. The soap dispenser was still completely full of Dawn, only the pre-wash soap had been used!!

As we cleaned up the mess together, and I explained the difference between dish soap and dishwasher detergent, it dawned on me (no pun intended). How often does this happens to us? Our best intentions don't turn out the way we planned all because we failed to simply ask or seek the help we needed. Our 2-year old mentality kicks in and we think we can "do it myself!" God desperately wants to help us, guide us, save us from having to clean up "messes" of our own making. All we have to do is ask! Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness. It's a sign of wisdom!

"Ask and it shall be given unto you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened unto you." Matthew 7:7

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

More Fruit - Gentleness

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog about how God spoke to me in a new way regarding the Fruit of the Spirit, especially in regards to parenting my kids. I don't know about you; but, it's been my experience that God always provides ample opportunities to "practice" whatever it is He wants me to work on. In this case, it's being more gentle and less frustrated with my children. Ahhhh, summer break-what better time to work on not being frustrated with my kids. I mean I haven't heard "I'm bored," enough times to make me want to scream!

Well, the first week went fairly well. I really began to notice that as I was more calm in my response to them, the situation defused more quickly and things ran more smoothly. But, as our schedule got busier, my frustration got greater, my temper got shorter and my work on being more gentle got pushed to the side. I never really thought I had a temper (those who really know me...stop laughing!) Ok, so I guess I could have a temper at times, but not on a regular basis. But lately, I'm beginning to see that it's definitely an area of sin in my life that I need to work on.

Today I had began again. It wasn't until late in the day that I thought about my desire to become more gentle with my words. So better late than never, right! At bedtime, I spoke with kindness in my voice. I stuck to the evening routine. And I wasn't tired and exasperated, as usual. I'm still in shock at how smoothly it went. Even the 2 yr old hopped right in bed, without any arguing! See miracles do exist!! :-)

As I sit here, typing away in the quiet of my sleepy home, I'm so thankful that God never gives up on us. No matter how many times we fail. He loves us enough to lift us up, brush us off, and help us start again.

Dear Jesus,
Thank you so much for your forgiveness and grace. Thank you for showing me areas of my life that need to change and helping me make those changes. Please continue to remind me when I need to be more gentle and kind. Help me show the same grace to others that you show to me each day. Make my life and this blog a blessing to someone, I pray. In your precious name, Amen.

"He's still workin' on me, to make me what I ought ta be... How loving and patient He must be. He's still working on me!" ~Sunday school song

Monday, June 20, 2011

Only God Could Love Me More

The garage door goes up, he backs his truck in, sets the alarm and climbs the stairs to our room. He kisses my forehead; and I awake, a groggy smile forms on my sleepy face. I say a quick prayer, thanking God for bringing my love home again safely. He has worked another 12 hour day (or is it 13 or 14 today…I’ve lost count). He’s exhausted, but you wouldn’t know it. He doesn’t complain; he never does. It’s midnight. He climbs into bed for a quick “nap” before our 2-year old wakes him up at 5:30am because she is “all done night, night”. 

Although he works longs hours, there is no question who holds his heart: (1st ) his Savior and (a very close 2nd) his family. He would much rather be home, wrestling on the floor, throwing the football, having a tea party or finding more batteries to another dying toy.

He is wise, always seeking and listening for God’s still small voice. He is the head of our family; but, it is God who leads our family. My Love NEVER doubts that God has our best in mind. I don’t know anyone with a more rock-solid trust in our Heavenly Father. To this day, I’ve never seen his faith waver, not even for a moment. He whole-heartedly believes that God has every detail of our lives under control so there is nothing to worry about, EVER!! Because of his example, my faith and trust have grown into total confidence in God’s promises.

His unconditional love and support are overwhelming. He has loved me through post-partum depression, doing everything to keep our family together when walking away would have been so much easier. He has supported me during the difficult transition from career mom to SAHM. He has been patient with me as my tendency to worry has transformed into trusting God’s perfect plan, even when we can’t see the next step. He has believed in me, nurturing self-esteem in me that I didn’t know existed. He has challenged me, encouraging me to reach for my dreams. He has been broken with me as we suffered a miscarriage, calling my girlfriends to check up on me while he was at work. He has celebrated with me as we’ve seen God “show up” time and time again. He has laughed at me, I mean with me, at the little things only we would find funny. (I’m pretty goofy so there’s usually a lot to laugh at. =D)He has rejoiced with me through the birth of our two kiddos. He has served with me as God provided the opportunity to lead worship at church. He has listened to me, allowing me the freedom to speak my mind and share from my heart. He has rescued me, giving me breaks from the kids to have some girl-time, a bubble bath or just a chance to collect my thoughts. He has romanced me, planning date nights on a regular basis to remind us we were friends, partners and lovers before we were parents.

He is faithful. Through the late nights and long hours I have never questioned his loyalty. I KNOW he loves me and only me. I know his passion is for me and only me. “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.” Song of Solomon 6:3.

When we said “I do” I never imagined I could love him more than I did right then. But I do! Everyday, I fall a little deeper in love with the man he is, the father he is, the friend he is, the example he is. He isn’t what I prayed for…he’s so much more than I could have known I needed. He was hand-picked by God just for me! He’s not perfect, none of us are. But he is perfect for me. He is my best friend and I am honored to be called his wife! And now it’s my prayer that our son will grow to be a man like his father, both heavenly and earthly.

So my husband not only rocks, he IS the rock of our family by following the ROCK of our SALVATION!


Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved he church, and gave himself up for it;”

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Fruit

Each night Logan and I read from his daily devotional. A couple of nights ago it was about how God is the vine and we are the branches. It went on to explain that a branch cut off from the vine will die and its fruit will wither. So it is with our lives. If we are "cut off" from God, our "fruit" will wither and die too. We gave hugs and kisses, said our good-nights and off to dreamland he went. I have to admit that although I thought it was a nice devotional, I didn't give it much thought after that. That was until today...

Hindsight being 20/20, I can see how God was using this passage to get my own heart ready for today's(Sunday) message. Our pastor is in the 2nd week of a series on the Holy Spirit. Today, he focused on the evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives through, you guessed it, our fruit. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."  Galatians 5:22-23. Now being raised in a Christian home, these verses are not new to me. In fact, I've heard them pretty much my whole life, memorized them, even done focused Bible studies on some of them. But I never related them to being "evidence" of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. I guess I just always saw them as a list of Christian character traits. Looking at it now, it seems like a no brainer. I mean it starts with "the fruit of the Spirit is"! I guess that's how it is when your heart is ready, the blinders come off and you see familiar verses in a new way!
As he went over the list (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control), I could hear myself talking to my kids about many of these. "Stop looking at the bad side of the situation and find the JOY in it." "PEACE starts with who?" "Speak to your brother/sister with KINDNESS." But then it hit me, you talk to them about these all the time. When was the last time you acted them out yourself to them? Instead of repeating it over and over (which I think sounds like the teacher from Peanuts most of the time), try making these traits evident in your own life! Lead your kids by your example, not your lip service! Wow!! Is that what I've been doing? As I thought about it all afternoon, I realized that's exactly what I've been doing. It reminded me of a story my mom used to tell me about my grandpa. He wasn't saved until late in his life, mostly because he had a sister that shoved God down his throat. She wanted him saved so badly, she became so pushy with her words that it pushed him further and further away for many years. Sometimes, I think that's what I do too. I so deeply desire that my kids grow to love & serve God that I push Him down their throats too.  Now, don't get me wrong. I strive daily to live my life and raise my kids as a Godly wife/mother. But I have to ask myself, "Am I as loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled as I should be?" "Do I respond to situations with the Fruit of the Spirit the way I expect my kids to?"

 Dear Jesus,
Thank you for your love, guidance and forgiveness. Thank you for your Word and for bringing it to a new and fresh light to me today. Please help my actions, not just my words, be filled with the fruit of your Holy Spirit. Help me each day, be filled with more of you and less of me. In your precious name, Amen.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Trash or Treasure

This morning started a little different than most with a quick trip to the store. Logan has learned to make his own scrambled eggs & toast and loves showing off his culinary skills. But with only 1 egg left, what other choice was there but to take Lil' Chef to get another dozen.


With 2 more cartons of eggs in hand, we made our way back home. As we pulled onto our street I see 2 bookcases sitting at the end of our neighbor's driveway. A thought flashes into my head. "Those would be perfect for Logan's room to house more of his Lego collection!" I dropped Lil' Chef off to begin his magic and I went to find Daddy, my excitment building. (I know. How sad that I get this excited over the potential of free stuff. I mean really! What has happened to me???) Now I guess I should give a little background as to why this is so noteworthy. I live with the garage sale guru! Every Saturday, he and Logan make a list and head off to find "treasures". Me on the otherhand, I can't stand going to garage sales (or hosting them for that matter). Oh, I like saving the money or making some extra cash. I just think it's a lot of effort. For Tony, I think it's more about the game-find the best stuff for the cheapest price. And I have to say, he's pretty good at it. He keeps to his standards and only gets nice things we can actually use. Which brings me back to the bookcases.


I needed someone (ie Tony) to walk across the street and get them because I couldn't do it. I mean what if they were home? What if they came outside and asked what I was doing? Not to mention, my mom has no shame in finding "trash treasures" too. Now I don't mind finding her words coming out of my mouth from time to time, but not this!!! I think I caught a glimps of myself turning into her! Before I know it, I'll be planning out my Saturday schedule along with Tony! Nooooo!!! This can't be happening! So I found my guru, told him of my find, and asked him to do the dirty work. He did, and brought back 2 perfectly good bookcases, in great condition, that match Logan's furniture!! Woo hoo!! Now I just need to get them dusted off and displayed with Legos.


I guess the saying holds true, "One man's trash is another man's treasure". But I think I'll leave the treasure hunting to the professionals. :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dinner Disaster

Today as I was making dinner I wondered if June Cleaver ever had an off day. Now I don't wear heels, pearls or dresses just to clean the house, but I do take a lot of pride in my role as a stay-at-home wife & mommy. I try to keep the house as neat as possible (which between the 2-year-old's toys and the 9-year-old's socks & Legos is a never-ending task), clean, run earrands, do laundry & make dinner each night. Most days things go pretty well; every once in awhile you just have "one of those days".
Well, I have to confess, the whole day wasn't "off", just the dinner part. On Sunday afternoon, I prepared 3 dinners that I put in the freezer. I decided to use one of them tonight. It was a new recipe and I was anxious to try it, Chicken Wonton Rolls. Being a lover of chinese food, I thought it sounded pretty yummy. I decided some fried rice & sesame cucumber salad would round out the meal. Sounds good so far, right? I got the rolls out of the freezer, started the rice, chopped the veggies, made the salad dressing. Everything was on its way. After 15 minutes in the oven, it was time to flip the rolls over to bake on the opposite side. Oh the horror!! They were burnt! :( So I flipped them over anyways for just a couple more minutes. Then I checked the rice. Are you kidding me!!! I like sticky rice, but this was just a glob. I could hear Gorden Ramsey in the back of my mind saying, "Ah, come on! You're not gonna serve that, you donkey!" But with only 5 minutes before Tony & the kids returned from the park, what other choice did I have? Yep, you guessed it...takeout! So with disappointment in my voice, I called Tony and told him what had happened; told him it was "ok" but definately nothing I would make again and that he may want to pick up something on the way home. But being the loving husband that he is, he said it would be fine. " You've already made it, and I'm sure it will be fine." Now that's love! Not so sure he'd feel the same after tasting it.
Well, I don't know what Ward would have done, but I'm guessing he would have eatten it too. The kids even tried it (eventhough they finished their meals with PB&J).
It's been a long time since I watched Leave It to Beaver, but I think it's safe to say that even June had a "please-don't-make-that-again" dinner. ;) Oh, well at least there were homemade chocolate peanut butter cup cupcakes for dessert!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

He is Risen!

Just like winter means Christmas (i.e. Santa, presents, shopping, & stress) to many, spring means Easter (oh, I mean "spring break") full of colorful eggs, bunnies, baskets overflowing with yummy treats, and new pretty dresses. And just like I find myself falling into the stress-filled trap each Christmas, I find myself doing it at Easter too. Last year, I went crazy shopping for the perfect dress for Leah, while this year it was all about the shoes! Yes, this mother-of-the-year took her feverish princess on an afternoon of shopping to get just the right pair white shoes. Well, with our mission accomplished, I was able to spend some time this afternoon doing my Easter tradition: watching The Passion of the Christ.

Each year since its release I dust off the DVD and watch this amazing movie by myself. It's my time to not only reflect, but to get lost in the depths of pain, anguish, suffering & sadness that Jesus took on for me. From the opening scene in the garden, the gut-wrenching torture is evident, first with his soul as he wrestles with God about what it to come; and then with the physical as he is beaten and scourged. It is this scene, where he is taken, stripped, whipped and then scourged with a cat-of-nine-tails that I break down every time. Watching Jesus, innocent of any sin, beaten beyond recognition, quietly asking Abba Father to forgive them (forgive me) for what they (for what I) was doing to him. I make this a very personal thing each time (which is why I choose to watch it alone). Every time he is beaten, every time he is mocked, every time he is whipped I see one of my sins doing that to him; knowing that while he was enduring this unmeasurable pain, I was on his mind, and so were you. He loves me (and you) that much; that if this was God's plan to ensure that the bonds of sins were broken, that a way was made available for us to spend eternity with Him, then Jesus was willing to carry a cross on his broken, bleeding body up a hill, be nailed to that cross, have his Father turn his back on him, and die. That's how much he loves us! That's how much he loves me! And the best part...Jesus didn't stay in the grave! He rose, just as it was written, conquering sin & death. Now the only thing that can separate us from the love of God and an eternity with Him, is our own unwillingness to accept what He did for us. There is nothing we could ever do to earn it. It's free, already paid for with the precious blood of Jesus.

May you see this Easter for the love story that it truly is. He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Not just any card

I think it goes without saying that a mom wears a multitude of hats throughout her day. She is the morning drill sargent, taxi driver, errand runner, maid, taxi driver (again), chef, homework helper, kitchen cleaner, argument settler, bath giver, story reader, kisses and hugs giver. But some days require an extra hat or two, like referee, nurse, or therapist. Well Monday was one such day. I got a phone call from my very sad 9 yr old. He had stayed at Grandma's house the night before and she was taking him to school. "What's wrong?" I asked. "I don't want to go to school." was the reply (which I already knew was coming). This has gotten to be a common part of our morning routine-convincing Logan that he is going to school. Now I know that most kids don't want to go to school and look for ways of getting out of it from time to time. But Logan has always loved school. He looks forward to being with his friends and yes, he even enjoys learning. But this year is different. This is one of those years that stays with you. Remember? Remember the year you had the teacher you couldn't stand or the worst class ever? I do...mine was in 3rd grade; and Logan's is too. He is in an undisciplined class that is out of control, led by a teacher who gave up trying months ago. At this point, she has begun taking her frustrations out on the good kids, while those who don't listen are allowed to continue being rude and disrespectful. It's so sad to watch your child go from an excited kid who loves school, to being defeated and frustrated. So after doing my best to encourage him, he went off to school and I headed out to do some shopping. Although I was enjoying my alone time at Target, I couldn't get my mind off my baby boy-wishing (like a mom) that I could just snap my fingers and make it all better for him. So I decided to get him a card. Now I know this sounds like a strange thing to get for your 9 year old son. But seriously, cards mean more to him than just about anything. He is very sensitive and loves them. He keeps them in his room and can tell you who gave them to him and for what reason. As I look through the encouragement cards, I quickly see they don't have anything for kids. So I go for a blank one. And there in front of me is this perfect card with smiley faces all over the front. Before I went to pick him up, I sat down and wrote a little note in his card; nothing profound, just how much we love him, how proud we are of him, and that I understand it's been a tough year, but keep your chin up. I left it on the counter next to a Hersey bar so I was sure he would see it. Sure enough, he walked through the door and saw the candy bar immediately. I told him to look at his card. He read it and began to cry. He came over and gave me the tightest hug. "Thanks, Mom! I love you so much!" All I wanted to do was make his day a little brighter, but I didn't expect this reaction. Through my own tears, I held my son. In that brief moment, all the exhaustion, frustration, heartache of the past several weeks melted into what I can only describe as "a moment" . I was so thankful that I had listened to that still-small voice that said "get him a card" and that I understood his "love language". Sometime I fear that we, as Christians, spend so much time at church and trying to minister to others, that we fail to see the ministry opportunities God gives us everyday to our own family. Too often, the ones we love the most only get our leftovers. It is my prayer that my eyes stay open and alert not only to the needs of others, but to the needs of my husband and children. Because I wouldn't want to miss a moment like this one. ♥

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hello

It's been so long since I've written a blog, I feel like I should blow the dust off the screen (like you would an old book, long sitting on a forgotten shelf). And to be honest, I hadn't totally forgotten about the blog, I guess I just didn't think I had anything worth writing about. Why then get is back out now? Well, I'm not sure; other than to say that lately I've felt God "nudging" me to do so. And at this point in my life, I've learned that when I feel that "nudge" just go with it, even if it doesn't seem to make any sense. It's not about the "why" but about the obedience. So here I am, 9:44 on a Sat nite, typing.

When I started this blog it was to keep in contact with friends and family, letting them know about our move from LA to LV. Well, now it seems that the reverse is happening. Just after Christmas, Tony came to me and asked how I felt about moving back to PV. My first reaction was "Why would we do that? God wants us to move forward, not backwards." So he dropped the subject, but it was too late...the seed had been planted. Over the next couple of months God began working on my heart. Before I knew it, I was longing to be back in PV too. Tony and I began talking about the possibilities, weighing out the pros and cons, and really praying/seeking what God's will was for our family. Two years ago we were absolutely sure He was leading us here to Las Vegas. (And we know that He did bring us here for a purpose). However, to everything there is a season. And the more we prayed, the more we felt our season here was coming to a close.
So we decided to sneak away for the weekend, just the 2 of us. We went back to PV for a couple of days. We wanted God to use this time to confirm if He wanted us to move back or if we were just homesick. We didn't tell our friends the real reason we were coming over. We wanted to make sure our decision would be God-centered, not based out of emotions.

From the minute we got off the plane, it was as if God was welcoming us home. The entire weekend was filled with multiple signs saying "This is where I want you." We both felt it; so we began to share the news of our possible return with our friends, asking above all else for their prayers. As the news spread, our friends seemed to be as excited about the possibilities as we were. We returned to Las Vegas literally on a cloud!

We are still in the early stages of this new adventure. So we don't know any details yet. What we do know is that we have a peace about this and that we are seeing God open doors, preparing the way, one day at a time. And although we are anxious to get back, we remain content to wait on His perfect timing.

"Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. The LORD works out everything to its proper end." Proverbs 16:3-4a

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