Saturday, December 18, 2010

Saturdays are for: Preparing

Our little guy has recently become obsessed with looking at, handling, adjusting,
and matching up what few pieces of true "church clothes" that he has.
It was becoming something he did everyday of the week until I started just sort of hiding this shirt and tie until Saturday when we would hang it up in preparation for Sunday morning.
Our sweet youth pastor's wife took these shots of him when they were here
on a Monday evening a couple weeks ago.

This afternoon, we put together nearly 20 gifts for all our Sunday School teachers and church staff.
If you want to know what's inside.....look here and here.

The girls also bagged up the little goodies they made for their friends too.
We'll be giving out over 30 bags tomorrow!!

Finally tonight, I'm hoping to get some pretty curls in my "personal assistant's" hair tomorrow morning.
Her hair is pin straight and whispy and super prone to static,
so I wrapped her hair in socks.
I'm hoping these curls will actually take.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Just for fun...

About a week and a half ago, we hosted our youth pastor and his wife for dinner.  She is an amazing photographer who did pictures for Lexi's 13th birthday party in August.  She ran out of daylight before she could finish getting portraits of Lexi, so she took this opportunity to do a lengthier photo session with her.
She did such a wonderful job capturing the personality of my multi-faceted girl!!
Here's a few of my favorites:

You can find out more about Tori Adele Photography here!!

Nurturing a giving heart

I have always felt it so important that my children learn to have a giving heart.
To have eyes that see beyond their own little world to the needs of those around them.
All year 'round, but.....
Especially at Christmas.
I mean, isn't that what Christmas really is?
The Great Give-Away.

So I've had my eyes and ears wide open the last month for opportunities we might have to really experience how much more "blessed it is to give rather than to receive."
To learn how to give to those who have no way of giving back.
To be a follower of Christ....don't I want to follow His example?

Last Christmas I really wanted to send a box of encouragement to our dear missionary friends who are on the mission field of Thailand.  They have 8 children and are such faithful ministers of the gospel of Christ.
But I just couldn't get everything together in time and the shipping is so very expensive.
This year I spoke with another friend of mine from church who is Thai by birth, and is going with her family to spend 2 months visiting her homeland.  She told me she would be visiting my missionary friends, and when I asked her if she could take some things to them from our family, she immediately said, "YES!"
I was so excited, but only had a few days to gather together some things.  It was so much fun asking my friend in Thailand what they needed (via Facebook), and then being able to put my hands on those items so quickly.
So we were able to send off some things to Thailand for FREE in my Thai-American friend's suitcase!!

But I'm collecting ideas for next year, and I feel the Lord has already given me an exciting idea for our missionary friends for NEXT Christmas!!

But we've also been busy in our kitchen again this year, making gifts for each of our children to give to their friends.  A few of my children naturally want to give presents to their friends, but a couple have to be taught to think about that.  So every year, for the last several years, we have made it a tradition to make gifts.
Children need to know that not everything can be, nor has to be, purchased to be a treat.
I feel every child has creativity within them and the ability to make beautiful items with the proper supervision.
So we make lists of all the children they want to give to,
and we start creating.

Click here and here for a peek of what we made last year.
This year I saw an idea for making candle jars out of used jelly or pickle or baby food jars, and thought as Charlie Brown....."That's IT!!"
Here's what we did:

Start with any clean used little jar.  
As you can see, we didn't get upset that the label didn't completely wash off in the dishwasher.
Slather the outside of this jar with "mod podge."

 While the "mod podge" is still wet,
cover it with tissue paper in any design you want.
Then slather more "mod podge" over the tissue paper.
Let dry.

Drop a tea light candle inside and wrap pretty ribbon around the top to finish off.


We've also been making these:

We put two in a snack size baggie per person, and they go into the gift bag along with two of these.....

Our children can't WAIT to take all their gifts to all their friends.
It's one of our favorite ways to teach them the joy of giving!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Journey: a plateau

Plateau:  From "Wikipedia"

In geology and earth science, a plateau, also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected plateau. A volcanic plateau is a plateau produced by volcanic activity.

Another definition of a plateau:  Taken from ""

a period or state of little or no growth or decline: to reach plateau in one's career

And finally from the "Calorie King" website:

If after losing weight successfully for some time, you reach a point where the number on the scale suddenly refuses to budge - sometimes for a number of weeks - you're said to have hit a "plateau".

After about 9 weeks of continual, gradual weight-loss, I hit my first plateau!!  Thankfully, the little challenges that you read through each week on the "Calorie King" program had already discussed this rather frustrating phenomena, so I wasn't too upset about it.  I just kept going.  Moving ahead like I had been doing and journaling my calories everyday, and exercising whenever I could.  Sure enough, the following week gave me another 1 pound loss.  

Two things became so clear to me almost immediately into this journey.  Weight loss is not (and should not be) this dramatic downward slide to 10 or 20 pounds of weight loss.  It is a slow gradual stair step down of consistent and purposeful retraining of yourself.  It comes slowly.  When you slip into old habits, you get back on track and continue to move forward in the things you have been learning.

It struck me how much this is exactly like my walk with the Lord.
There have been times in my life when I had time to consistently read God's Word on a daily basis, spend time in prayer, and memorize His Word.  
I knew my heart was searching for His leading in my life in every decision I faced at the time.
I felt like I was growing in my understanding of Him and His ways.
But then, something would change.
A new job.
A new schedule.
A new marriage to my husband.
A new lifestyle.
A new baby.
A new diagnosis.
I let those bumps in my life interrupt or stagnate my walk with the Lord.
I needed to keep on "in the things I had learned."
When I wasn't able to spend time with the Lord like I needed, I reached a plateau.
Where I wasn't growing or learning more and more about Him every day.
Where I wondered what was wrong.

But through this process, I remembered to get back to what I knew.
That's the answer.
To just keep on keeping on.
Do the right thing.
Do the things you know have been successful for you in the past.
Get back on track.
Get off the plateau.
Try something new to keep things fresh.
A new delicious, low-cal smoothie.
A new time in your day for your quiet time with the Lord.
Add some quiet music or a cup of coffee.

Work on your own version of a "Plateau Buster" and 
keep on going!!
Your body will forgive you and settle back in to weight loss.
My Heavenly Father extends grace.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturdays (in December) are for: Rehearsals

Every. single. Saturday in December we have at least one member of our family who has to travel the half-hour to our church for a Christmas program rehearsal.  My husband usually is working his 12-hour shift on Saturdays, so that means I get the job of loading 6 children up (or finding child care for those not involved that day) and getting them into their place.  Last Saturday though, was a little different.
Rehearsal for the two little people was at the same time as our Ladies Christmas Brunch.  My two oldest girls dressed up and came with me to enjoy some lovely fellowship, while the two rehearsed for their program which was Sunday evening, and the other two played in the nursery.  

I hear this phrase often on Sundays,
"I just don't know how you do it.
I only have two children and it's so hard getting out the door.
I just don't know how you do it."
I always tell them,
"It starts on Saturday."
I have to pick out all the clothes and lay out all the shoes and socks,
or invariably at least one person will be missing a shoe or
 have NO appropriate socks to wear on Sunday morning, and then things only slide downhill from there.
I also have to have every. single. meal planned and ready to go
because by the time we get home after morning service (remember that half-hour drive),
my children and husband have become borderline cannibalistic.
In the past, I've tried packing snacks,
but then I learned no one is hungry enough to actually eat their lunch,
AND our van is trashed with crumbs and wrappers!

So toss in outside activities, coupled with Sunday preparations,
and our Saturdays are usually very busy.
This last Saturday was no different.
Not only did I need to have our family out for the aforementioned festivities,
but I also needed to prepare for the MOST PRECIOUS baby shower EVER
on Sunday afternoon.
This sweet baby has been long prayed for
and long
His Mama very tragically lost his older brother at just 26 weeks (if I remember correctly)
gestation just about two years ago,
so they are so anxious for his safe arrival.
Lots of tears.
Sheer joy!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Are you "Multilingual?"

During my journey to weight loss, I began thinking about the food we eat in America.
 I have come to realize that we all eat for different reasons.
Some far more legitimate than others, obviously, based on the soaring obesity rates we are seeing in this country.

So when I came across an article entitled:
So I stopped eating

I was intrigued.

But I found something far more profound than the story about the girl who gradually succumbed to

"Also, I had cried when I’d gone to kindergarten, so Mum had brought me home, ordered books, and vowed to teach me. That kind of thing was supposed to tell me she loved me, but I didn’t feel it; because to me, love was words and gifts."

Did you see that?  Did you SEE what she said?
She said that what her mother did for her in wanting to homeschool her was her mother's way of saying,
"I love you."
But she didn't get it.
The girl didn't understand.
It wasn't HER language.
Love, in her language, was "words and gifts."

I have been reviewing a book on my personal bookshelf, the bookshelf in my bedroom, entitled

In this book, the author lays out five "languages" of love understood by most people.
He theorizes that many communication issues between spouses are caused by not understanding how your spouse interprets your expression of love to him/her, and vice-versa.
According to the author, the 5 different languages of love are:

1. Giving of gifts
2.  Physical touch
3.  Quality time
4.  Acts of service
5. Words of Affirmation

Everyone is different.  Everybody speaks and understands their own language (naturally), 
but it takes some time and study to learn what your spouse's language is.

It's the same with our children.

My oldest daughter is a gift-giver.
She has always been the one who couldn't go to a friend's house without something to give them.
Even if she gave something of her own.
She would wrap it up and was just as excited to watch them open the gift as they were to receive it!

But if I try to tell her that I love her by guarding the types of media I let her watch,
or by washing all her clothes for her every other day,
or by protecting her from some of the humanistic philosophies that she would be exposed to in a formal school setting
and sacrificing my time and desires to homeschool her....
I'm pretty sure she would misunderstand what I was trying to communicate to her.

See, she doesn't speak my love language.
Even though she is my own child, we don't always understand each other.
It's the same in my marriage.
I need to learn to be fluent in another language.
The language of the one I chose to marry.

It's a different language than my daughter's too.

Sometimes, it's really hard to learn a new language.
Sometimes I wish we all spoke the same language so it would be easier.
But then, wouldn't that be boring?
Wouldn't that be awfully monochromatic?
Should I be resentful of someone simply because they don't speak MY language?

Shouldn't I be willing to study and communicate in the most effective way I can with those I love the most?
Isn't that what our Heavenly Father did for us?

He knew that as mortals, mere humanity, we would never be able to fully grasp the endlessness of His love for us.
That we, as simple human beings are not capable of truly comprehending Who He is?
How CAN we know if we've never seen Him or heard Him?
We have our own very finite definition of greatness, of holy things, of things that never end.
But it doesn't translate into the God of the universe, the Almighty, Elohim.
So He spoke to us in a way that we can understand.
Through the spectacular varieties of species of all animals and plants, of land forms, cloud formations,
temperatures, weather patterns, human races, languages, stars, planets, galaxies, 
and the simple complexity of the human body!

"The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
and night unto night shows knowledge.
There is no speech nor language,
where their voice is not heard."
~Psalm 19:1-3

As mere finite beings, we can understand the language of creativity and of a force much
greater and wiser than ourselves to have started this marvelous world we occupy.

Yet, the Holy One knew that even some would not understand Him through the language of nature and creation.
So He wrote down His thoughts for us.
He put His thoughts into written form.

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God...."
2 Timothy 3:16

"For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction,
that through perseverance and the encouragement of Scriptures we might have hope."
Romans 15:4

"These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God,
in order that you may know that you have eternal life." 
I John 5:13

Yet, humanity would still not "get" it.
Many of the things that were written down were a mystery to those
confined to an earthly existence with earthly limitations.
And our loving Father knew we needed a visual.
We needed to be able to SEE His Word in action.
What love really looked like.
What a servant's heart really looked like.
What humility really looked like.
What grace really looked like.

So He wrapped Himself in skin.
He became one of us, so that we could understand Him in the simplest of terms.
He willingly imprisoned Himself in a human body because He wanted us to get what He was saying.

"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us,
and we beheld His glory,
glory as of the only begotten of the Father,
full of grace 
and truth."
John 1:14

"For God so loved the world,
that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish
but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world;
but that the world through him might be saved."
John 3:16,17

Don't my children deserve what my Heavenly Father has extended to me?
To understand my love for them?
Shouldn't I be willing to keep trying over and over
until they get it?
Shouldn't I try to reach them in the most effective way possible?
Am I willing to learn THEIR love language?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Been busy!!

Since Thanksgiving the time seems to have sped up and I can hardly sit down to do anything, much less journal out our days or a few thoughts here and there.
These special holidays are always so much fun and full of meaning,
but I almost dread how busy we become with activities to attend,
sights to see,
treats to be baked and prepared,
the lovely sounds to be heard,
the driving here and there,
the laundry that still accumulates,
the schooling that needs to be planned and purposefully DONE,
the groceries that still need to be shopped for and stored,
the packages that must be sent,
the library books that need returning,
the carbs that must be counted and medicated for.
It can all get overwhelming.
It's seems the antithesis of what we're even celebrating.

The quiet, and peaceful stillness of a newborn.

So we've been spending our last few days creating some serene, peaceful spaces filled
with the beauty that is Christmas.
We've been "decking" our halls......

......and turning the lights down low in the evening.

We've pulled out all the glorious music that fills our home with the stories of the birth of Christ
 that fill us with the wonder of the Divine King of Glory coming to earth in bodily form as a tiny baby.
We light fragrant candles that add wonderful aroma to the rooms and remind us that everything
we do should be as a fragrance ascending to the Holy One.  
We're preparing our gifts to give to those who have meant so much to us this year
 (and some for many, many years).
Children need to learn how to give of themselves,
and how to give from their heart.
So we spend many hours making little gifts that don't cost us much monetarily,
but require a sacrifice of our time and the use of our God-given creativity.
Here's a sneak peek:

Most of our children are ministering to others and serving the Lord through 
the special presentations of the choirs they participate in at our church.

We've also been spending time together enjoying the sights and sounds of this season.
Tonight was the annual Christmas parade in our little town.

What does your family do every year to build fun memories together and to teach your children
what Christmas is really about?