Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Double Digit Birthday!

It has arrived! The day my first baby Benjamin Cooper turns double digits. I asked him this morning if he felt older and he said no, but he wasn't born until 10:39 p.m. so I think he thinks he'll feel older when that minute arrives. Its obvious he's older because he got money and clothes from us and was completely happy about it. We've avoided birthday parties since he was 5, but you can read the previous post about his sleepover. He's my introverted child, so I'm not sure he had a great time because we kept finding him by himself away from his friends. He said he'll only invite 4 next time. He's going on a "man" trip with his daddy. J and I made a list of things for them to talk about. It really hit me hard how grown up he is and is becoming daily. I can only continue to pray for God's protection over him, and that he would grow up with wisdom, knowledge and joy as he makes decisions each day. I am so proud to be his momma. And I'm so thankful for the man he is becoming.

Happy Birthday Super Cooper! We are proud of you!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Surviving the Sleepover

We are wrapping up our first sleepover, celebrating Coop's 10th birthday. Many of you know I avoid birthday parties at all costs, but since it was the double digit birthday, I suggested he have a sleepover. (Yes, it was my idea. I kept asking last night "Whose idea was this?) So I thought I would do a public service blog giving you the things I have learned from this experience to help all of you parents who have not yet braved the sleepover. Let me prefice this by saying all of the boys are very polite, kind to each other and did their parents proud. But they are 4th grade boys. So here are the lessons I have learned.
1. Don't over invite thinking they probably won't all come. They will ALL come. With my 3, we had 11 total.
2. Get a babysitter for the 3 year old. I spent most of the night trying to keep him out of the fray. He actually got hurt, but it had nothing to do with the boys, just his excitement of the whole night messing with his balance.
3. Get a babysitter for the 7 year old. I spent most of the night comforting him when he couldn't keep up them. He did really well until bedtime. Devastating to make him go to bed 2 hours earlier then the big boys, but Dad was wise and knew we would not survive Saturday if he didn't go to bed at a decent time.
4. Have lots of things planned. I didn't have much and they didn't like any of my ideas. I'm still at a loss of what to do with boys at a party. They don't want to do a craft or bake. The Wii didn't even take up much time. All they wanted to do was play basketball, inside or out. They didn't care. Our poor neighbors.
5. Have the party be over at 9. I said 10, thinking I would get up, take a shower, make breakfast and at 9 walk around with my sweet, calming voice "Good morning boys. Rise and shine." Ha! They were up at 7:45. Breakfast was done by 8:30. Back to basketball in the foyer.
6. Do not interrupt if you are having a moment of silence. Even if the birthday boy asks, do not offer hot chocolate in the middle of the movie when they are actually quiet.
7. Divide them up when its time to sleep. I finally took a few out of the playroom and moved them to the den. I should have had them in 8 different rooms.
8. Have an AMAZING husband! I could not have survived this without him. As I'm blogging, he's refereeing the basketball tournament on the nerf goal in the foyer. Whistle and everything.
9. Wear ear plugs. Even though I am certain that its still quieter than screaming, giggling girls, its amazing the noise level out of boys. Plus there is the added bonus of bodily sounds.
10. Something will get spilled. My great idea was as a party favor to have sports bottles with their names to drink out of. Great idea! But then the hot chocolate came in a different cup with a lid, but a large hole to drink out of. I'm waiting until they leave to see the damage of the hot chocolate. At least I have brown carpet.
Again, over all it wasn't too bad. My tree was unharmed. No major injuries. No fights. Lots of good manners. I think the birthday boy had a good time. And all of these boys are welcome in my home again, just one at a time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Potato Chowder Recipe

Quick, yummy recipe for you!

3 cups fat free milk (I use 2% because that's what we usually have)
1 can cream of potato soup
2 cups old fashioned frozen hash browns
salt to taste

That's it! Mix the milk and soup together in a pot, and then add the hash browns. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. Tonight I cut up two potatoes into small chunks and boiled them in a separate pot while putting together the soup. When they were tender I added them in. Serve with shredded cheese and cut up cooked bacon or bacon bits as toppings. Yummy with warm crusty bread. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Keeping Christ in Your Child's Christmas, Part 3

Last day of ideas. Hope something has jumped out at you as something to try this year.

·Make a Jesse Tree:
The Jesse tree represents Jesus' family tree. The name is taken from Isaiah 11:1, in which Jesus is referred to as a shoot coming up from the stump of Jesse, the father of David. The ornaments on the Jesse tree tell of Jesus' ancestors, and of the events leading to Jesus' birth.
Adam and Eve Apple (Genesis 2:4-3:24)
Noah Ark or rainbow (Genesis 6:11-22, 7:17-8:12, 20-9:17)
Abraham Knife (Genesis 12:1-7, 15:1-6)
Isaac Ram (Genesis 22:1-19)
Jacob Ladder (Genesis 27:41-28:22)
Joseph Colorful coat (Genesis 37, 39:1-50:21)
Moses Tablets of the law (Exodus 2:1-4:20)
David Harp (1 Samuel 16:17-23)
Isaiah Lion and lamb (Isaiah 1:10-20, 6:1-13, 8:11-9:7)
Mary Lily (Luke 1:26-38)
Elizabeth Small home (Luke 1:39-55)
Joseph Hammer or saw (Matthew 1:18-25)
Make a Jesse tree for your home. First, take a large, bare branch and secure it in a pot of sand or rocks. (You can also use a large potted plant or evergreen.) Create ornaments that trace Jesus' royal line by making symbols for some of the people found in the Hebrew testament. Make the ornaments out of cardboard or construction paper and decorate as you like. Instead of hanging all the ornaments on the tree at one time, you may want to hang one on every other day of Advent. Read the Scripture citation given here as you hang each ornament on the tree. Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/2000/12/The-Jesse-Tree.aspx#ixzz1erlEaIcI

· Make a Chrismon Tree, a tree with ornaments that reflect the real meaning of Christmas.
A chrismon, a combination of the words "Christ" and "monogram," is a symbol that represents Jesus. The very first chrismon was the Chi Rho, a combination of the first two Greek letters of "Cristos," or Christ.
A Chrismon Tree is a tree decorated with such common chrismons as crosses, stars, angels, doves, fish ("icthus"), and triangles representing the Holy Trinity. Chrismon ornaments can be made from any type of material, whether paper, cloth, Styrofoam. The chrismons are often white and gold--white to represent Jesus' purity, gold to represent his sovereignty.
Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/2004/11/How-To-Make-A-Chrismon-Tree.aspx#ixzz1erlaVhZ1

Great websites with lots of ideas!
· http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/Christmas/21-Ways-to-Keep-Christ-in-Christmas.aspx

· http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/nativity_printables.htm

· http://christianity.about.com/od/holidaytips/p/keepchristmas.htm

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Keeping Christ in Your Child's Christmas, Part 2

More ideas!

· Keep a basket of Christmas books around for children to always have access to.
· Have a child friendly nativity set that children can play with. Buy one for new babies as a sweet first Christmas gift.
· Use an advent calendar to count off the days. UBC has a great preschool calendar with activities you can use. Other ideas include ones with Bible verses for each day, or symbols for each day of the Christmas story, a paper chain where a chain is taken off each day.
· Do something good for others: sing at a nursing home, buy gifts for a family in need, make cookies for a neighbor. Talk to your kids about how helping others is pleasing in God’s sight.
· Have your children reinact the Christmas story, dressing up like shepherds, Mary and Joseph, or the angels. Great way to help them remember the story.
· At dinner, read Christmas cards that are received each day. Pray for those that sent the card.
· Give a gift of service to family members. Jesus taught us that it is "more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35. Giving an unexpected gift of service will demonstrate Christ-like love. Make it personal and meaningful. Remember the homemade coupon books that you may have given your mom or dad?
· Write a Christmas letter to a missionary. Many missionaries are unable to travel home for the holidays, so it can be a very lonely time for them. Write a special Christmas letter to a missionary of your choice, thanking them for giving their life in service to the Lord.
· Hang a Christmas stocking for Christ. Most families have a Christmas stocking for every member of the family to be filled with gifts from Santa. In addition, parents could hang up a white stocking for Christ, and on Christmas Eve every member of the family could insert a piece of paper listing their gift to Christ this year. Examples: being nicer to others, praying more often, etc. (This is my favorite new idea that I think we are going to try this year! Here is a link to a fun stocking my friend Terri found we might get. Or we may just do a simple white one.

Stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Keeping Christ in Your Child's Christmas, Part 1

We had a great parent coffee last Thursday, and shared lots of ideas. I'll share some with you over the next few days. One of our weekday teachers shared an article with me that said that you really can't take Christ out of Christmas. He loved to party and fellowship, so anytime you get together with believers, he is there having fun with you! I liked that! Takes some of the pressure off. But here are a few ideas for you. Sorry I didn't get them up last week so you could start them on the 1st. Better late than never!

To start, this is my favorite site It has 25 days of ideas! Love it!

Here are ideas gathered from our weekday teachers, preschool director and myself.
· Buy or kids can make something as a birthday/Christmas gift for Jesus. Wrap it and put it under the tree for Jesus. Unwrap it on Christmas morning, and then over the years you can look at His gifts and talk about them together.
· Invite Jesus to Christmas celebrations by setting out an extra place setting for Him. It would be cute to have a dress up gold crown and set it on His plate!!
· Give your children 3 gifts from Santa because Jesus received 3 gifts.
· Make a birthday cake for baby Jesus and sing Happy Birthday to Him.
· Wait to put baby Jesus in the nativity scenes until Christmas Eve. You can have the baby Jesus wrapped up in a gift box, and let that be the first gift that they open on Christmas Eve night or Christmas morning.
· Go with your extended family to a candlelight service on Christmas Eve
· Read the Christmas story from Luke before you open presents.
· Play 'I spy baby Jesus' all season long. It helps to focus their eyes on Christ instead of other things as they actually searched for him everywhere.
· Display a manger scene in your front yard. You can make the manger yourself and use hay from your garden to fill it. Use a doll as baby Jesus. Swaddle him and wrap a beautiful bow around him. Highlight him with a yard spot light.
· Allow your children to choose from the World Vision catalog a special extra gift to buy and pray a blessing over. You can get things like mosquito netting or goats.
· This is my idea. We put a manger scene on our fireplace, but take Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus out. We take Mary and Joseph as far away from the manger as you can, usually upstairs, and each day of December move them closer and closer until Christmas Eve they arrive at the manger! And then baby Jesus joins them Christmas morning! Cade pointed out that the shepherds and wise men weren't there either, so our shepherd and his sheep are on a table in the den and the wise men are under the boys' tree in the other room. I think we may wrap baby Jesus up and put him under the tree.

More ideas tomorrow!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Silver Spoons

Quick story to see if anyone agrees with me. I went to get a spoon the other day out of the silverware drawer and there were none. No problem, I'll look in the dishwasher. It was almost empty, only 2 in there. Where are the spoons? I went all over the house and found 6 total. Well, that's just not enough. Yes, I could go to Walmart and buy a few that don't match. But just the thought of that makes my skin crawl. Not the Walmart part, I love Walmart, the non matching spoon part. So I went online and looked for my silverware only to find that it has been discontinued. Nor surprising, we've had it 15 years. Now what? I found it on a discontinued website for $8 a spoon. I'm not that much attached to having them match. That's ridiculous! I then discovered a wonderful thing, restaurant warehouse websites! You can buy silverware a dozen at a time. The first few I found only had them by 2 or 3 dozen. I don't think I need that many! Then Ebay led me to this site, and I got a dozen of my spoons from 15 years ago for only $29 with shipping! I was so excited today when they arrived! When I informed my husband of my purchase, he wondered why I didn't go to Walmart and buy random spoons. Who is going to notice that our spoons don't match? I would! And it would bug me every time I opened the drawer. Aren't they beautiful? Its the little things in life!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Update on my "Lifestyle Change"

Since I started reading "Made to Crave" with some other teachers at church, and changed the way I eat, hence the "lifestyle change" as opposed to a diet, I have lost 9 1/2 pounds! The Thursday before Thanksgiving I got my first "Are you losing weight?" question, and I was on cloud nine! Made my week! I told her she was the first person to notice, but I was informed that I was the topic of conversation around the water cooler. Why would I need to lose weight? While that is a compliment in itself, I do have my reasons.

One, because half the clothes in my closet haven't fit in many years and I don't want to, nor have money to, go buy new. (Of course, I mentioned to my hubby that now the other half of the closet, the big clothes, don't fit. He said big clothes still fit, just cinch up my belt!) Two, I was eating WAY too much sugar, and mostly for emotional reasons. I would reach for chocolate, or ice cream, or anything sweet I could dig up any time I was lonely, tired, or stressed. I would reward myself with sweets for making it through a hard day or to reward myself for making it through a really good day. I didn't need a reason. When I started this, the first two weeks were torture, and then not so bad. I took a bad detour after the Halloween candy came into the house, but got over that hump. And then last week was bad with anything pumpkin, pie or bread, it didn't matter. But I would catch myself and ask why I was eating it. I usually ate it anyway, but at least I asked myself why. Mostly, I just love pumpkin stuff.

But the main reason I started losing weight was because I just felt gross. I hated looking in the mirror. I was depressed getting dressed in the morning. I was upset with myself for getting this way. When I started this, I was only 3 pounds away from what I weighed when I gave birth to Cooper. Ridiculous! I gained 30 pounds with each child, and like to tell people that I only lost 20 after each. But that's not true. With Cooper I only lost 20, but with the other two, I lost all of it. I just gained 10 back in the next years from emotional eating. I want to lose 7 more. That will put me back to pre-Cade weight. I don't want to get back to pre-Cooper. I don't need that 27 year old too skinny body back. She was annoyingly skinny!

When I'm doing well on my plan, eating more vegetables, less sugar, and more water, I feel better and look better. No stomach issues, my face is clearer, and I feel more confident. I tried on a shirt yesterday that I had bought years ago a little too tight, and have never worn, and it fit! I was so excited! I'm on my last hole on my belt, and it will feel so good to go buy another one.

Don't get me wrong. It has not been easy. I told a friend that I wanted to look at the Snickers bars in the Halloween basket as an evil monster, and maybe that would stop me from eating it, but I realized I wasn't even waiting the ten seconds to have that thought. I saw it and ate it. There was no thought process. I'm getting better at it. Its really not about losing weight. Its about making wise choices and asking God for help. I really recommend "Made to Crave". Lysa makes it a spiritual journey, and that's what I need. Imagine if I was really going all in and exercising on a regular basis and asking God for help every moment of the day. I'm not trying to brag here (although I am proud of myself), I am hoping to encourage you. You can do it too!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Nacho Potato Soup Recipe

My momma asked me for this recipe. Really easy and yummy! Kind of spicy.

1 package au gratin potatoes
1 can corn, drained
1 can rotel, undrained
2 cups water
2 cups milk
2 cups cubed velveeta cheese

Combine the potatoes and sauce mix, corn, tomatoes, and water in a pot. Mix well, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-18 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add milk, cheese, cook and stir until the cheese is melted.

Next time I make it, I'll take a picture so I can pin it!

Cool God Story - Retro Style

I don't know why I was thinking today of a cool thing God did many years ago, pre-blog. So I thought I would share with you.

In 1996, I bought a used Honda Accord, and drove it many miles from Hollis, OK to Ft. Worth, TX once a week for Seminary. Later, it was driven from from Plano/Richardson to Ft. Worth more than once a week for Seminary. And it made lots of road trips in between. Many years and lots of miles on that sweet car. J and I started saving money for a new one, knowing the end was near. One Monday, our youth intern mentioned that she was selling her Toyota Camry, so J and I decided to think about it, but weren't sure we were ready to commit. What if old faithful could make it another year or two? On Tuesday, I pulled out of the driveway and realized I was leaving a trail of oil on the driveway and all the way down the street. So I drove it directly to the Firestone station down the street, dropped her off, and waited for the dreaded phone call. Maybe we really needed to consider that Camry?

Sure enough, the call came, and it was going to cost almost half of what we had saved up for a new car just to fix the old one. That didn't make any sense at all. But do we fix it and then sell it, or try to sell it broken? Do we need to try to sell it fast to get the money to buy the Camry, or just be a one car family until we can sell it? So many questions. We called Firestone back to tell them to go ahead a fix it, and guess what? The repairman asked if we were interested in selling the car! Oh, yes he did. Why, yes, we are interested in selling it. We drove up there to get my stuff out of the car and tell it goodbye. J said he prayed about it on the way, and wondered if we were making the right decision. Could we get more money selling it to someone else? And he felt God say, "I did this. I have taken care of this for you. Just rest." So we got the cash on Wednesday, and bought my Camry on Thursday. And I drove it until child number three was coming and we knew it was time to upgrade to the mini-van. Great car. Even greater God!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Gosh, I haven't blogged in a long time. I have so many things that I write in my head, but the last few weeks have been really busy getting ready for the holidays. We hosted Thanksgiving at our house this year for Jason's family, so lots of cleaning and grocery shopping had to be done. You don't think your house is really dirty until all the in laws are coming. :) They tell you not to worry about it, but I can't. So 8 of Jason's family came and stayed at our house from Sunday to Friday. It was really a lot of fun! His sister and her family flew in from Virginia and I got to finally meet my new niece, Elizabeth Marie. We opened Christmas gifts early since we won't see them then, and I can't describe the joy that Aunt Christy had when I got to buy her first baby doll and a girly outfit. So much fun!

On Monday, we went and took family pictures with the wonderful photographer Delynn Halloran. You can see her work HERE. We took pictures for more than an hour and a half, and all 5 kids did wonderfully. It was so much fun. Delynn said there are so many good ones she having a hard time narrowing them down. I can't wait to see them. She took our pictures five years ago the last time we had a family holiday at our house. There are three more kids this time around. Fun to see the family grow!

In years past with J's family, there was always some black Friday shopping going on, but I think all the kids makes us not want to give up on sleep. A few of them went to Walmart on Thursday night hours before the sales started to get something totally unrelated to Christmas shopping, and they said it was a madhouse. People weren't wanting to let them by to get to the back of the store to get what they needed. My shopping spree was to CVS to pick up some grocery items that were really on sale, but by the time I got there Thanksgiving night, they were all sold out. Crazy people. It is not worth the savings to me to give up hours of my time and sanity.

So everyone left on Friday and I crashed. We realized for the first time in I don't know how long, we had NOTHING on Saturday. So we took the boys to see the Muppet movie. I highly recommend it. It was so much fun! Then we got the Christmas boxes down, enjoyed some leftovers, and watched it rain. A wonderfully relaxing day, which we needed because the next month promises to be crazy as every December is. Baseball tournaments, basketball season starting, and all the fun Christmas activities that pack the calendar. This Thursday I'm helping to host a parent coffee at church where we'll talk about keeping Christ in your child's Christmas. I hope I learn as I prepare, and will incorporate some ideas this month to help my kids, and myself, stay focused on Christ's gifts, not the world's. After the coffee I'll try to post some for all of you. I got the tree put up tonight, probably the earliest I've ever had it up. So that will be nice to enjoy it for the whole month. We're having Christmas at our house with my family this year. Not quite as much pressure to clean! ;) I just realized rereading this that I've said "so much fun" way too much, but I'm too tired to come up with something more creative. Very thankful this season for fun times!






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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Poppy Seed Blueberry Bread

I made this bread yesterday for J to take to work his first day back and had a few requests for the recipe, so here it is. I found it somewhere a year or so ago, and don't remember where, so I can't give anyone credit, but it wasn't me.

1 package blueberry muffin mix (box kind, with canned blueberries)
1 egg
3/4 cup water
3 tbsp oil
1 to 2 tbsp poppy seeds
2 to 3 tsp grated lemon peel

1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 to 2 tbsp lemon juice

Drain and rinse blueberries from muffin mix, set aside. In a bowl, combine the muffin mix, egg, water, oil, poppy seeds and lemon peel. Fold in blueberries. Pour into two greased small loaf pans. Bake 350 for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. After it cools for a little bit, make the glaze and drizzle over the top of the bread.

I have made one big loaf, muffins and mini muffins. Just adjust the cooking time for what size pan you are making them in. ENJOY!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Hitting the Reset Button

Today is my husband's last day of his three month sabbatical. He goes back to work bright and early tomorrow morning. I am sad for him. He has thoroughly enjoyed himself. Our wonderful European adventure, lots of little trips to conferences, seeing friends, visiting some amazing churches around this country, and lots of rest and reading.

Its been really funny from my perspective. The boys and I have taken a little break too, just pulling back from church activities. Being a staff family, as much as we love going to church, its been nice to have a break from the expectations. They've still been going to Bible drill when they can, but took a break from choir. I'm not involved in any Bible studies this semester. I am still working two days a week, and I've been in worship with one or more of the kids more Sundays than not, but haven't done any WBS classes except for preschool a few times. But every time I've been to worship, I've gotten the same questions and comments, "Welcome Back!". Although very sweet, it always made me laugh. I haven't really been anywhere, but we aren't technically back yet. And then they would ask when Jason was getting back, and I would say Nov. 7th, and someone would then say "I can't believe you've been by yourself with the kids for three months!" I would explain, no, he's been home more than he's been gone. And my favorite question would then follow, "Has he gotten on your nerves being home all the time?" Not at all! I thought maybe he would, but I have really enjoyed getting to go to lunch with him without kids, getting to go to matinee movies with him, and doing some of my normal errands with him. I promised myself years ago that if he ever called and asked me to go to lunch I would drop what I was doing and go. So I've dropped a lot the past three months, and enjoyed every minute.

We had some great discussions on our Europe trip about what made us happy, our priorities and goals for our family, and different things we wanted to try. As we suspected, when we got back, life caught up with us and all those new things and goals haven't come to fruition, but it was a start. Its been like pushing a reset button. We've been able to realize when we need breaks, how to handle stress better, what are the really important things that need to be done, and how to politely say "no" sometimes to those things that aren't that important. We haven't agreed on everything, but I think we've bonded through those disagreements. I know for sure our marriage is better than it was three months ago.

I've also had people ask me when I was going to get my sabbatical. I guess they are referring to my job as mom? But J never took a sabbatical from his job as dad. Lots of baseball and football coaching going on, took the boys to Texans games, took them for donuts every Friday morning, just like always. If anything, he had more time for them, and less distractions when he was with them. Wonderful daddy.

I am so thankful to UBC for letting their pastors take a sabbatical every 5 years. I know a lot of churches don't, but they need to. Jason's dad said he's never had one in his 40+ years in the ministry, very sad. I know some people don't understand why pastors should get one. There are three reasons, in my opinion. One is that they really don't have office hours, they don't get to clock out, they are working 24/7. The phone might ring at any time. Jason has 6 AM meetings sometimes and 10 PM meetings sometimes, whenever people have time to meet with him, whenever they need him, he's there. Most people can clock out and go home from their jobs. Another reason is that pastors never get 3 day weekends like most people. There's a Sunday in there, a work day. And holidays aren't great either. Its our Christmas to be at church this year, so he will be at 3 services Christmas Eve and one on Christmas morning. And three, its really hard to have a Sabbath Day, again, Sunday is a work day. And there is life going on the other 6 days, so it is really hard to have a good day of rest for him. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. We are so thankful and blessed to be called to this ministry. Its so worth the sacrifices. And we know that God's blessings when we are obedient far out way a day off. But those are the reasons that I am in full support of pastors getting sabbaticals. He can deal with people better, including his family, now that he is rested.

I am looking forward to seeing him in the halls at church when I'm at work. Kind of a cool perk to us both working at the same place. I've known the last three months that he wasn't upstairs, and I missed him. And I am so thankful for his team that work with him. They are so excited he is coming back. It makes a wife so thankful to know that the people who work with him are loyal, supportive, and excited to work with her husband. I am praying for them all this week. It will be an adjustment for everyone. I hope everyone has had a moment to set the reset button. I am very thankful for it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Waiting, Part 2

To read part 1 of Waiting, click HERE.

So what happens when you finally get the answer you've been waiting for, only it wasn't the answer you wanted? Been there many times! I have doubted the Lord many times because He didn't do what I thought was best. "Lord, you must not have heard my prayers right, because I know what I was asking for what the best thing for me!" And I have wondered if He just laughs at me. In the last few weeks I have heard some of His truth regarding this and thought I would share.

1. Casting Crowns new CD, Come to the Well, is excellent, and one song is called "Already There." I almost had to pull over when I listened to the lyrics. OK Lord, I hear you!

(Mark Hall, Matthew West, Bernie Herms)
From where I’m standing
Lord, it’s so hard for me to see
Where this is going
And where You’re leading me
I wish I knew how
All my fears and all my questions
Are going to play out
In a world I can’t control

When I’m lost in the mystery
To You my future is a memory

‘Cause You’re already there
You’re already there
Standing at the end of my life
Waiting on the other side
And You’re already there
You’re already there

From where You’re standing
Lord, You see a grand design
That You imagined
When You breathed me into life
And all the chaos
Comes together in Your hands
Like a masterpiece
Of Your picture-perfect plan

When I’m lost in the mystery
To You my future is a memory

One day I’ll stand before You
And look back on the life I’ve lived
I can’t wait to enjoy the view
And see how all the pieces fit

You can listen here!
I love the line "To you my future is a memory." Such truth! He isn't surprised by how things turn out! He already knows how the story ends!

2. Listened to an amazing sermon by my new friend Malcolm Duncan entitled "When God says No". You can listen HERE. One thing he said that sticks out to me was, where would you be right now if God had answered Yes to every prayer you prayed? Who would you be married to? Where would you be living? How many times have you prayed one thing on a Monday and then prayed something different by Friday? OUCH!

3. I was thinking about my boys, and how I say "no" to them quite often, and almost always its because I'm protecting them from something. I don't say no to punish them or because I'm mean. Its because what they want to do will either hurt them or someone else.(No! Don't hit your brother with the sword!) Or its because what they want to do just isn't best for them and I can see the big picture. (No, you can't stay up until 11 to watch that movie. You have school tomorrow.) God reminded me that He is the same way. He says no because He is protecting me from something or someone, or He has something better planned for me that I can't see yet. I know that in my head, but some days when I don't get the answer I want, I choose to not believe it. Its a choice some days to truly trust Him, but I can look back on my life and see where His no's were a wonderful answer full of His love and mercy.

I can't wait to see one day how all the pieces fit, how all the "no's" turned into a beautiful picture of my life.

Portion Control

The Israelites living in the desert learned about portion control as God provided only enough manna for each day, with a double portion before the Sabbath. They had to completely depend on Him for what they needed, not wanted.

"Each day God can be the perfect portion of everything we need - every longing we have, every desperate desire our souls cry out for. God will be our portion." Lysa TerKeurst, Made to Crave, page 132.

When my kids are driving me crazy, instead of eating chocolate, I can ask God for a portion of His strength to get me through the day. And He never runs out!

"Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:22-24 (yes, He showed me that verse two weeks ago, don't you love it when He does that.)

Lord, when I am tired, lonely, stressed or impatient, please help me to turn to you to be my portion and my strength.

"Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:25,26

NIV Study Bible notes, "Since the Psalmist was a Levite, the Lord was his portion in the promised land in that he lived by the people's tithes dedicated to the Lord. Here he confesses more: the Lord Himself is his sustainer, his preserver - his very life."

Lord, help me learn more about your portion control, that you can provide all I need, not necessarily want, when I depend on you for help. Help me to think about why I want to eat, or watch tv, or shop or nap or even facebook. I know that its usually because I'm lonely or stressed, and I turn to those things instead of you, instead of the portion of strength and power you want to give me. Thank you for always being there for me, being patient with me and always being faithful to your promises! Amen!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

This made me laugh

Guess who?

I blocked out the edges of the picture and asked my kids who it was. They both thought it was Cade. Nope.

When my kids were babies, people always asked who they looked like. I think I can claim the middle one for sure!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Every child needs something to hug

As we drove into Belgrade, Serbia with Trey and Randi, we stopped at a light, and two little kids came up to the window begging for money. It was heartbreaking. We saw all kinds of people trying to make an extra buck in many different ways all over Europe (another blog post), but kids begging was a little different. Randi said not to give them any because they have to give it to the adults in their family who use it for things other than the kids. She explained they were from the Roma community nearby, a group of gypsies basically, who set up camp in parking lots or fields. There could be hundreds of them, and once they are there, the owners of the land can't do much to get rid of them. They build their homes out of cardboard, or pieces of scrap wood they find around. One community had even built a restaurant in their parking lot. She said many of them have jobs and could probably live somewhere else, but because of culture, choose to stay their with their community. I wanted to take pictures of them, but she said many of them think if you take their picture, their soul is taken by the camera, but a snapped a few while we were driving by one day when we didn't see anyone.

The strange thing is, the children were actually clean and dressed nicely. We saw some taking a bath one day at a community water spicket. Some places you see extension cords coming from somewhere into the shacks, so some of them have electricity. The really amazing thing is that the Roma's have the largest Christian church in Serbia in a Southern city. I guess because they have nothing, some of them fully depend on the Lord for everything. Imagine that. There are people sent to Serbia to strictly minister to the Roma's. It was all very eye opening for me.

Yesterday morning I saw a facebook status from Operation Christmas Child, with this picture.
"in SERBIA: Iovana, 3, hugs a teddy bear from her shoe box gift. She lives in a Roma community with her mother and four siblings, in a house with no running water. She loves dolls."

It brought me to tears and yet made my day at the same time, just remembering the sadness I felt when I saw that community, and yet the joy on that sweet little girls face. So emotional. We've made Christmas boxes for Operation Christmas Child for many years, but seeing a child holding a doll she received when I've actually seen how she lives, makes a huge difference. I can't wait to take my boys this year to buy things for their boxes and turn them in. I highly encourage you to participate. Collection week is Nov. 14-21st. We are collecting them in the preschool area at UBC until Nov. 17th. If you have any more questions about it, check out their website here or ask me. I don't usually buy a stuffed animal for my boxes, but I think this year, I will. Every child needs something to hug.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Choosing the Right Path

I just walked for the first time in a few weeks. I haven't felt well, and walking when you feel like you have 50 lbs on your chest isn't a fun idea. But today I walked, not fast, but I walked. I came upon a fork in the sidewalk and realized that if I took the left choice, it would add on 10 minutes to my walk, and today I took that way. I then saw how many forks there were in the sidewalk, and opportunity each time to make the walk longer, harder and more time consuming, yet a way to push myself harder. How much longer would my walk be if I took the longer path each time? I didn't try that today, but maybe someday.

I was thinking about my new lifestyle of healthier living and how really each day I am given a fork in the road, a choice to make. Do I eat these chocolate chip cookies I'm making for my boys, or take the harder, yet healthier path, and refrain. Do I stop by Sonic and grab a hamburger because I'm in a hurry, or wait 20 minutes until I get home and eat something better for me. One path is easier, and maybe not even a bad path, just not the best.

Lord, help me today to see each decision I need to make as a path in the road, and take a minute to decide which path is the best for me, even if its not the most enjoyable one. Thank you for a minute of clarity on my walk this morning. Thank you for your beautiful creation and worship I enjoyed this morning. Amen.

Psalm 23:3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

Psalm 119:35 Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight

Proverbs 4:26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Book Review of "Sunrise on the Battery"

Sunrise on the Battery, by Beth Hart is the story of redemption for a family soaked in the culture of trying to "beat the Jones" and making sure their children have a better life than they did, no matter the cost. Mary Lynn and Jackson Scoville pulled themselves out of a country life and are striving to live a city life with all the social connections they can make. But Mary Lynn's heart is still sad, and missing something. She attends a Bible study and church occasionally, and one day asks for prayer for her husband. God reaches down and answers that prayer in a big, inconvenient way. Is she really willing to have her husband lead their family spiritually, even when it doesn't fit into their grand plan for the future?

I have read many Christian fiction books where the plan of salvation and grace seems forced into the story. But this story line is completely built around the salvation of this family, so the whole book is a wonderful testimony of God's miraculous changing power. It was also a great reminder to me of the trap the world sets for us of looking good on the outside, even when we are struggling on the inside. I would recommend this book and am interested in reading other books by Beth Hart.

I was given this book for free by Booksneeze for an unbiased review.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Who is Reading This?

I periodically check my stats on my blog. I like to see how many people read each one to know which types of posts get the most reads. Who am I kidding? It boosts my self esteem when I get a good number. Of course, my highest read post was "Hurt Feelings". What does that say about blog readers?

But every once in a while I look at the stats that say where in the world my readers are. And just this week I had readers in Latvia, Russia, India, Balarus, Israel and Trinidad and Tobago! What? I have been to Latvia, but it was 11 years ago, so I don't know if people there actually know me. And I know who my readers are in India, the UK, Serbia, Brazil and France. (Hello friends!) But the rest are beyond me. I guess its just random people who some how come across my blog. I'm not sure how that works. I spend entirely too much time reading blogs and Facebook stats from people I know, I don't have time to wander around and read from people I don't know. But I think its neat! It makes me realize in some sense how small the world is becoming and yet how big it really is. I didn't get email until I was out of college and just to see how much things have changed, how I can communicate with people all over the world in the blink of an eye, is crazy to me.

It also makes me realize that even though I don't have a huge following, each person that reads this blog for whatever reason, God may have brought by for a purpose, and I need to take seriously what I am writing about. I want His name to be renown. So even if my most read post this week was on couponing, maybe those sweet people stuck around for a minute and read about Him and what He is doing in my life. That is my prayer.

Psalm 96:1-3
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Potty Training, Take Two

So we've been potty training in our house now for a few months, and I thought we had made great progress. I thought we had #1 down to a science (we won't talk about #2). But we've had lots of accidents this last week or so, simply out of laziness in my opinion. I made the mistake this morning of telling my sweet one that if he had an accident at school today, I would have to come pick him up, hoping that would scare him into submission. Nope. Ten o'clock got a call. Now what? I really wish I hadn't said that, but I did, so I have to follow through because I'm really big on that, so back up to school I went. He was not happy. I was not happy. It was a wake up call for both of us. For him, because he realized this is serious. And me, because I realized I haven't been consistent enough. We've both been lazy. So we are starting from scratch. We headed for Starbucks for me, and then to Dollar Tree for him. He picked out a little notebook, some star stickers and some Blue's Clues stickers. When he goes #1, he gets a star sticker for his notebook. Three star stickers, and he gets a Blue sticker. So far, so good. I have to be consistent about taking off the pull up after nap, and being willing to take him every 30 minutes if that's what it takes. Now #2 is another story. We have toys waiting for when that happens, and a promised poo-poo dance, which I will make up on the fly. I can only dream of that day!

New Mercies...

I had a really rough day yesterday. So first I called my momma, and she talked me through it and her last words were, "Remember His mercies are new every morning!" Thank you for that. Then last night, I saw my sweet friend Cari was on FB, so I dumped my day on her for a minute (love friends who let you dump your day on them), and her last words were "Remember His mercies are new every morning!". Well, thank you for that! So I went up to bed and thought I might like to look that verse up to read it for myself. When I found it, I almost wept with just an overwhelming sense of His sweet love and faithfulness! And I slept wonderfully! And yes, today is a new day filled with His wonderful love, grace, compassion and mercy for me. Hope these verses help you today!

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

Lamentations 3:22-26

Monday, October 03, 2011

European Foods Part 1 - Budapest

I thought I would write a quick blog post with pictures about some of the foods we ate on our European adventures. But after going through my pictures, I realized it would be way too much for one post. So here is part 1. Hope you're hungry!


We didn't actually eat this, but I couldn't help but take a picture of this lovely item we found in the local market. We laughed about it for days!

This was an amazing pastry we found at the market. Basically a hotdog made with a pastry, and two kinds of cream on the inside. Trey, Randi, J and I all tried to share it, but it was oozing out all over, so we were laughing hysterically while trying to enjoy it.

And this was the sweet girl who sold it to us and then laughed hysterically at us trying to eat it. We came back another day to get another one, but alas, the market was closed. Very sad.

Pictures do not do this justice. We found this restaurant and ordered. The table next to us got their food first, and we were shocked by the serving sizes. Then our food came. The four of us could have shared one of our meals. It was all delicious, but crazy amounts of food. People were stopping walking down the street to take pictures of every one's food.

This was Jason's shish-kabob. He did a fairly good job of eating it all.

Sunday, October 02, 2011


I was reading some scriptures the other day about waiting on the Lord and started thinking about all the things we have to wait for in life. There are the minor things, like waiting in line at the drive through, in line at the grocery store, waiting for that guy to call, waiting for bedtime, waiting for the cookies to be done. There are the middle ground things, like waiting on a ACT test result, waiting on him to propose, waiting for a vacation to arrive, waiting for your husband to get home from a long trip. And then there are the major things, like waiting on a lab result, waiting on a loved one to pass away, waiting to get pregnant, waiting for the baby to be born, waiting for a college acceptance letter. Lots of opportunities to wait.

I was thinking about how most of the things we wait for are out of our control. We feel like we are waiting on a person to do what they have to do so we can get our results. Or are we are waiting on the hand of God. These are some of the verses I was reading.

Psalm 5:3 In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.

Psalm 27:14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Psalm 33:20 We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.

Psalm 37:7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Psalm 130:5 I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.

Psalm 130:6 I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Isaiah 26:8 Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.

Isaiah 30:18 Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

These are only some of them! I know if you read the context, some of the verses are referring to us waiting on the Lord to return, but most are just waiting on Him to move in some way. And I realized most of those things listed above that we wait on, we really aren't waiting on a person. We are waiting on the Lord. If He wanted us to have the result sooner, He could have that person move faster. The timing of getting married and having children, when we trust Him, that is entirely in His timing. Waiting on getting test results or getting job interviews or college acceptance letters, I am believing that those things are in His hands too. We aren't really waiting for people, we are waiting for Him to allow those people to do what they need to do. I don't know if this makes any sense. I just had joy when realizing that nothing that comes to me hasn't already come through His hands first. His timing is perfect, even when I am impatient. I can wait on things expectantly, with hope, patience, strength and desiring for His name to be renown.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Some of my New Favorite "Lifestyle Change" Foods

I'm going through "Made to Crave" by Lysa TerKeurst with some of my coworkers at church. Its a great book, and although I'm not 100% diving in, I am making small changes in my lifestyle. I've realized that by making a lifestyle change to live healthier, it works much better for me than being on a diet. If I'm just living a healthier lifestyle, then when I splurge, its just a splurge, not failing at a diet. So I've been eating lots more fresh vegetables, walking more regularly, and eating healthier snacks instead of sugar. So here are a few of my new favorite "Lifestyle Change" foods.