The End of Another Chapter

December 31, 2010

The last day of the year. Looking back over this year I realize, yet again, that I am incredibly blessed. This was a good year. Was it ALL good? Well, we had some ups and downs. But, through it all, God was present. He was is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient! This year was, for me, a year of growth. I am not saying that I am where I want to be. But, I am not where I was. And in the words of Martha Stewart- "It's a good thing!" (Yes, I know, I'm a dork.)

Where do I want to go in 2011? What is my - ugh, uhmm- "resolution"? (Sorry for the dirty word.) I want to continue to grow. Well, I want to shrink~ by about 11 pounds. But, I want to grow into a better daughter. I want to grow into a better wife. I want to grow into a better mother. I want to grow into a better friend. It may not sound like much, or maybe it sounds ambitious, but, it is my heart's desire to just be BETTER. I know I'll not find perfection. But, if I continue to try EVERY SINGLE DAY to be better than I was the day before then I will consider my resolution kept! My ultimate goal is to "Live a Life Well Spent" and this is yet another chapter of my book. I hope you'll keep reading.

"You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it useful again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world- like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see. Don't hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." Matthew 5:13-16

From my family to yours~ May you have a year full of God's favor and blessings, and may you experience the favor of being a blessing!


Bless You. Bless Me?

December 27, 2010

For those of you who might be wondering- no I haven't died. I'm still here. It's been a busy month and I decided that for my sanity and my kids' safety (lol, just kidding, sort of) I would "take vacation time" for the month of December. I am going to try to ease us back into "real life" so that it's not such a shock to the "system".

CHRISTmas was fun. It was full of family and friends and new babies and entirely too much food! I really need to start a diet TODAY

I have missed blogging. The break was refreshing and nice, but, this blog is sort of a therapy for me, where I can write down and organize my thoughts. It helps to bring enlightenment to me and helps me to keep myself accountable and, hopefully, humble.


I can, from time to time, let my pride hold me back from "doing the right thing". My pride will often cause me to be stubborn just to "prove a point". (I know, you're shocked! It's okay.) Not only is this sinful, but it can hurt innocent people by association. There have been times, recently as a matter of fact, that someone has offered help to me from their heart of hearts with pure sincerity and generosity and I struggled very hard to let them help me because of my pride. Because I wanted to prove that I didn't need their help. Because I did not want to be in debt to this person at all. (Not that there were any strings attached to the offer by the giver, but, my pride does not want to back down!) Then, God had a little "Tete a tete" with me. (For those of you who don't speak French, it translates "head to head" but is used the same as "heart to heart".) 

First of all, I did need help! I was in a position in my life where I could not have made it through easily without help from my family and friends. It was a very humbling experience in that sense. It's hard for me to admit weakness or vulnerability. It's hard for me to allow myself to need others. I can't help but feel like it puts me in a position where the "helper" has some invisible "token" that they can hold over my head to collect on later on where I will feel helpless and inferior. (Explanation: I spent a great deal of my childhood in a position where I was ABSOLUTELY helpless. That experience instilled in me a powerful determination to never be in that position ever again! It was by no fault of my own. It was just the result of terribly horrendous circumstances that I had no control over.)

Moving on. We've established that my nature is to be self-sufficient and stubborn. But, that's not how God wants us to live. If He wanted us to not need anyone else, He would have created Adam. The End. But, He desired more. He wanted all of us not only to be blessed, but he wanted us to be blessings! There is so much beauty in each one of those things. Different feelings. Different experiences. But, pure beauty in both! Isn't it wonderful when you get blessed? Out of the blue, someone shows up with something special for you that was unsolicited? Something that was needed, but not asked for. Something that translates as pure love. I know that each one of us can recall at least one time in our lives that we were completely BLESSED! That moment stays with you and is special. Have you ever been the one giving the blessing? Have you had the experience of touching someone's life in such a way that will be remembered to their dying day? That my friend, is more priceless than anything! Making a difference for someone else. Being something positive and loving in a world of pain and despair. There is nothing like it. I would always want to be the one giving the car, rather than the one getting the car! (Why do you think Oprah does it so much? LOL) 

Sometimes, I just have to remember to put my SELF aside and not stand in the way of someone else's blessing. If I prevent others from doing things for me because I'm too stubborn or prideful, then I am doing far more than just being sinful. I am robbing that person of great joy. I am standing in the way of them getting blessed in the best way. I must try to remember that I would not want to be denied, so I must not do it to others. No matter how hard it might be for me. God uses us in each others lives for many different goals, ultimately helping each other get to Heaven. 

"I will cause you to become the father of a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and I will make you a blessing to others." Genesis 12:2

"I will cause my people and their homes around my holy hill to be a blessing. And I will send showers, showers of blessings, which will come just when they are needed." Ezekiel 34:26


Happy Birthday, Aubree!

December 20, 2010



My family was blessed three years ago with Aubree AnnaLynn Calverette. She has touched our lives in such a special way. Words cannot describe how much she is loved. I can hardly remember ever being alive when she wasn't. And I never want to be. She is such a sweet girl. She is so smart. She is very perceptive. She is amazing. She has captured my heart and filled my days with meaning. I cannot believe we ever contemplated whether or not we should have another baby. I just could not envision what our lives would be like if she weren't in them! She makes us laugh and she makes us proud. She entertains us. She is a great snuggle buddy and bath buddy. She hosts the best tea parties and colors the prettiest pictures. She builds the highest block towers and makes the biggest messes! I love that girl more than she loves candy! I never want to disappoint her. I never want to let her down. I never want to hurt her. I want her to know how very much I adore her. I want her to know that my life is better simply because she's part of it!
Happy Birthday, Aubree!

(Please scroll down the the player and click // pause and then come back here and click > play!)


CHRISTmas Rant

December 15, 2010

"Keep CHRIST in CHRISTmas!"
"Jesus is the reason for the Season!"

We've all heard the cliches. We all know that over two thousand years ago "a child was born in Bethlehem" and his mother "wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger" and he was visited by shepherds and wise men. But somehow, I can't help but feeling like a hypocrite. Am I celebrating the birth of my Savior? Or, am I buying into the propaganda trap of spending money on things I have no business spending on? How did we all fall victim to this marketing scam? Yes, I know, I know- the whole "spirit of giving" thing. I get that we have been told that we should want to show our love for each other by giving thoughtful expensive gifts and gadgets. But, is that even what we do? I know I don't. I set a budget. I make a list of people that I am going to buy for. And I go out and search for something that is within my budget that doesn't look too cheap that they may or may not like. When it comes to my kids, well, they make a list of the latest and greatest inventions of the season. Things they cannot live without. Most of which will end up in the garbage can in less than six three months- seriously. I do not buy anything on credit, although I have been guilty of such in the past. I do pay cash for it all. But, I scrimp, sacrifice, and save ALL YEAR LONG to do so. It's certainly not that we could not use this money for other very important things for our family throughout the year. We choose to do without so that we can pay for "christmas". WHY do I do this? WHY do any of us do it? I know that for me, I don't want anyone to be disappointed because of unmet expectations. How in the world did Jesus' birth ever get to this? Really?!?! Something so sacred,  simply commercialized. It's disgraceful if you think about it.

I want my kids to know that we celebrate the birth of our Savior. (And they do.)  I want them to know that it is a very special day and it holds much importance. We should remember it every year! But, this year, I am struggling with the connection of "getting gifts" to "Jesus' birth". It's not about GIVING gifts anymore. It's all about the GETTING. That's what disturbs me. That is what is tugging at my heart. It's the fact that I'm worried about my kids being disappointed that they didn't get every single thing on their "christmas" lists. And, how do I keep them from being more focused on the presents than the Gift? How can the "momma" in me want to lavish presents upon my children and the "daughter of God" in me want to take it all back and make it Holy in the name of Jesus?

Don't get me wrong. I am not "the grinch who stole Christmas" or "scrooge". I love getting together with family- especially those that we don't have a chance to visit with most of the year. I also love to give things to others, especially, when it's something thoughtful that I think they will really enjoy. I love the holiday games and decorations and food! I love to see the kids so excited about something that they must wait patiently for. I love the excuse to dress up and present my family at it's best. I love the nip in the air. I love the music. I love being woken up too early on CHRISTmas morning by my anxious little children who are amazed at a living room full of presents! I love CHRISTmas~ it really is my favorite holiday. I just wish that we could keep what's Holy, Holy! I wish that we could stop pretending that we are celebrating Jesus birth with trees, ornaments, gifts, and too much food. I'm not saying that those things are wrong, but, we should remember to acknowledge Jesus on His birthday.

I ache to see what CHRISTmas has become to so many. Even though we KNOW "the reason for the season", we are so pressured by too many responsibilities and obligations that we can't enjoy the holiday for what it is. I have fantasies of a simple CHRISTmas. One where stress levels go down instead of up. One where we become more gentle and kind with one another instead of harsh and impatient. One filled with the sweet excitement in the quiet moments of life instead of hurried dread. One where time is an appreciated gift instead of a rare commodity.

Am I going to take CHRISTmas back? Well, not this year, and if I'm being honest, next year will probably look pretty much the same way too. The gifts are bought, most of them are wrapped. I am buying into the whole thing- hook, line, and sinker! But, maybe, just maybe, I can celebrate Jesus all year long this year. Maybe I can make the extra effort to try to be more patient with others. Maybe this year I can go out of my way more often to do something special for others. Maybe this year I can strive to become a better version of me. Maybe I can spread CHRISTmas throughout the whole year!

"Take care! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give a gift to someone in need, don't shout about it as the hypocrites do- blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone, don't tell your left hand what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you." Matthew 6:1-4


CHRISTmas Spirit!

December 13, 2010

Ahh. Here I am, at home, ALL of my kids are here, most of them are still sleeping. I've got my coffee and I'm sitting at my computer. This is nice. It's funny how we take the familiar for granted some times. We can even curse it from time to time. But, I've longed for the day-in and day-out routine of my life for the past week. It is wonderful to have my family under ONE roof at night when we go to bed. Nothing beats it.

Freddie and I are so grateful for everyone who kept us in their prayers. It means so much to us to know that our family is cared about by so many. I was filled with assurance that God had Brant in His arms the whole time and that he was perfectly taken care of. I was not afraid for my son. I felt badly for his pain, but I knew that everything would be just fine!

This ordeal has given my other children a chance to show what they're made of . They are extra-ordinary kids! Karli has such a good head on her shoulders. She is going to be the most AMAZING mother one day! I have even seen Drake step it up and prove how he's growing up. I am so proud of them!

We are still recovering. There will be clinic visits for a while. But, we can handle this. It is surprising what a family can accomplish when they all work together. I have decided to take off from school until after the holidays. I am taking full advantage of the blessings of Home Schooling my kids. I see no benefit in stressing us out at such a special time of year.

I hope that you, too, can sort through your lives and eliminate those things that are unimportant or unnecessary. I hope that you can find the REAL spirit of this season. It's certainly not about checking names off of a seemingly never-ending shopping list, or hosting the most fabulous holiday party. It's not about the perfect outfit or family photos. It's about stepping back from the hustle and bustle of the "world" and remembering that long ride on the back of a donkey. It's about the wonder and awe of the Promise for a Savior. It's about how much our Father loves us and longs for us to live with Him eternally in heaven. It's about the sacrifices made that we rarely ponder. It's about Grace~ because none of us deserve Jesus. I encourage you to share with your families the events that happened over 2000 years ago that changed our destiny. Start your own tradition at your CHRISTmas gathering this year. We have all the kids in the family read from the bible the true CHRISTmas story! It is a blessing to everyone who hears it.

"And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn. That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior- yes, the Messiah, the Lord- has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!" Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others- the armies of heaven- praising God: "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all who God favors." Luke 2:6-14


Sports on the brain?

December 6, 2010

Brant had surgery this morning. Everything went well. He is an amazingly strong little boy! The nurses stopped my in the hallway to tell me how AWESOME he did in recovery. They were incredibly impressed with him~ as we all are.

Freddie and I have been operating as a "tag team" for the past few days. We know that we could not do this alone. Our family and our friends have made this so much easier for all of us. We know that our other three kids are well taken care of by people who really care about them.  We could not be more grateful and humbled.

It is astounding how many people have been praying for us. It is indescribable to be part of such love and concern.

Karli, Drake, and Aubree are going through a lot right now, too. Their schedules have been turned up-side-down. It is not easy for them either. They miss their brother awfully, and I'm sure they miss the reliable routine of our lives. It is not all bad for them to go through this. I see it as an opportunity for growth. They are resilient kids with a huge network of people who absolutely adore them! But, I do see how each one of them is dealing with this in his/her own way. I am trying really hard to be loving and encouraging to them. They have really been "taking one for the team". I am very proud of my children. They are very special individuals who have really "stepped up to the plate". (Geez, what's with all the sports analogies?)

With a grateful and humble heart I extend a sincere "Thank You" to everyone who has offered their prayers, love, time, and resources to us. We have been abundantly blessed by God!

"Yes, you will be enriched so that you can give more generously. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will break out in thanksgiving to God." 2Corinthians 9:11


God is My Pilot

December 4, 2010

I am sitting in a hospital room in a burn center with my youngest son. He has 2nd degree burns on his abdomen and leg. It has been a long 2 days and will probably be an even longer week. He will require at least two surgeries and a week in the hospital. Maybe more.

There have been several things that have happened this week that have spoken to my heart in a very real, almost frightening way. I have been reassured by God that He has me and my family in His hands. I have blessed assurance of God's perfect will and protection in my life.

Maybe, I will be able to give more details in a future post. But, for now, I am at peace in God's arms. Protected by His love. Unaware of where this road is leading us, but, it's not important for me to know the destination as long as I know that God has charted the course!

"Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exaulted among the heathen,I will be exaulted in the earth." Psalm 46:10


"They Call Me the Fireman"

December 1, 2010

Cute dress, right? I agree. Which is why, after days HOURS of searching and walking out of yet another store empty handed with a disappointed tweenager, I bought this dress (which we both love!). I bought her some black and gray, sort of tye-dyed kind of leggings to go under this dress. She has some silver sequined high top tennis shoes that she'll wear. And I bought a silver, sparkly, short sleeved, cropped sweater jacket to go over this dress ~ that she tried on in the store and liked it and knew that I was buying it to go over the dress! Well, we get home and she put's the outfit on and all of a sudden it's "Houston, we have a problem!" She wants to go without the sweater and I insist that her shoulders be covered ~ by something, anything (except her hair, which, yes, she did try to get away with that)!  I get that we have different taste in pretty much everything. I am learning to accept that. I try really hard to give her some wiggle room. BUT, I want her shoulders covered ~ it's winter after all! Is that too much to ask? My opinion might be different if it were summer, but, this is her CHRISTmas dress.

Parenting. It's full of ups and downs and hidden land mines. I am trying to be very careful to not stifle her personality and sense of self. I want her to be comfortable in her skin. I want to continue to feed her confidence. I want her to feel good about who she is. But, I want her to do it with something on her shoulders!

It's frustrating fun to see my children develop into unique human beings with opinions of their own. I don't want to stomp out their fires. I want to feed them and watch them turn into something beautiful and useful. But, it is my job to stand at the ready with the water hose to prevent those fires from burning down the forest! I must be careful to not put out their fires too soon, because then they'll have to start over from scratch to build a new one. But, I don't want to let them get too close to becoming dangerous either. {One more thing to add to my job title- "Fireman"! LOL.}

I'm not always careful to consider my children's feelings. I am very used to having my own way in matters that concern them so I don't always remember the fact that they are individual people with lives that are not mine. This is an exercise for me. I don't want to be a discouragement or an obstacle to them. I want to build them up ~ always. There is so much potential in each one of my kids. I don't, for one second, want any one of them to doubt themselves in anything!

It will be painful interesting to see how this thing plays out with the CHRISTmas outfit. But, my daughter is one creative girl. She'll come up with something. I'll let you know how it ends.

"Listen, my child, to what your father teaches you. Don't neglect your mother's teaching. What you learn from them will crown you with grace and clothe you with honor." Proverbs 1:8-9

"A wise child accepts a parent's discipline; a young mocker refuses to listen." Proverbs 12:1



November 29, 2010

It has been a long weekend! I managed to get through Thanksgiving without stuffing myself like a turkey. I managed to get through "black friday" without getting injured by the mobs who were fighting for the season's "hottest" items that were marked half off! I managed to convince my husband to bring us to pick out a CHRISTmas tree and I got all 1800 lights put on it just so. I managed to shorten my CHRISTmas shopping list and get some gifts wrapped and placed under the tree.

I've still got so much to do. I cannot seem to wrap my mind around the fact that our "regular" life is supposed to resume today. I am not prepared for school. I have items that really need to get returned to the stores so that I can get the money put back into my account. My bedroom is overflowing with gifts waiting to be wrapped! I need to get the laundry going so I won't fall behind, because we all know how much harder laundry becomes when you are "catching up". I need to figure out what's for supper. We've got ballet class tonight. I've got little projects here and there that are on my "to do" list in the CHRISTmas decorating department. And let's not forget that I am trying to keep up with my blog.

So, here's the thing. If I want to get all of these things done, without causing anyone bodily harm OR without my "group of little anyone's" attempting to cause me bodily harm there is something that I need to do first. Can you guess what it is? No silly, it's not taking that special little pill~ although that might help. Just kidding, sort of. I need to spend some time with my Father.

I love having "coffee time" with Freddie in the mornings. It's our time, hopefully without kids, to connect and just sit without distractions to talk and be with each other. I look forward to it and miss it when we don't get to do it because of work or whatever. It's therapeutic. Now, Freddie is a great guy, but he's not God. I can imagine if I set aside time every morning to be with Him how much more I would benefit from that special time. Not only do I need to spend time with my Father for me, but I need to do it for Him. I was reading a blog and the author wrote this: "You beam when I come into your presence". Wow! Think about that. God so wants to spend time with us and when we go to Him He beams with happiness! I want to make my God happy with me. I want Him to beam for me. I want our relationship to be a "two way street". I should not always be the one who is taking. I need to give to Him. After all, I could never out give what He's already given- Jesus! I want Him to be pleased with me. I want to see Him shine!

"As the deer pants for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and stand before him?" Psalm 42:1-2

"I wait quietly before God, for my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken." Psalm 62:1-2

"How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty. I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the Lord. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God." Psalm 84:1-2


"The Gift Shop" Week 5

November 28, 2010

Yeah, yeah, yeah.... I know I'm late. BUT, I knew I would be. I had some serious shopping to do on "Black Friday".  I had been awake for about 39 hours and had shopped for about 19 hours and had stood in lines for countless hours! It was seriously fun and I can't wait to do it again next year! (Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha- YUM, and 5 hour energy saved the day!)

Hope you enjoy these ideas!

Oh yeah... this little number was on sale for $28! I didn't get one, but I sure did want one. She's a beauty.
Mr. Coffee Red Coffeemaker-12 Cup
I did, however, get these for my boys. They are gonna LOVE them! (Especially the one who is afraid of the dark.) They were on sale for $25.

EyeClops Night Vision 2.0 Infrared Stealth Binoculars

I picked up these little numbers, too. They are supposedly the best rain wear EVER! They were on sale for $25 and they came with a Free DriDucks Poncho and Chilly Dana.
Frogg Toggs
These are super cute. They were on sale, but I missed it. So, I didn't get one. But, cute nonetheless. There are frogs, dogs, bears, an owl, a cat, a monkey.... They are about $20.

Arizona Critter Hat
And lastly, this adorable little item. She was on sale for $4.99 and jumped in my basket! She is so delicious! They have the different princesses.
My First Disney Princess Doll - Baby Cinderella 


A Thanksgiving Letter to My Children

November 25, 2010

Dear Karli, Drake, Brant, and Aubree,

I am writing you this letter on Thanksgiving morning while you are all sleeping soundly in your beds. The peace and quiet is very nice. I can actually hear the thoughts in my mind for a change. Our lives can get quite loud most days. I remember a time, before I had kids, when I relished peace and quiet. I imagined that the hardest adjustment I would have to make when I would have children would be to get used to noise. But, you know what? Dad and I sometimes lie down in bed after a busy day and look at each other and ask, "What did we ever do before we had kids? Our lives must have been so boring!" It's hard to remember a time when any of you were not around.

There have been difficult days in our home. Times when we didn't necessarily like each other very much. But, every day, I love you. I love you each as much as one human can possibly love another human. I absolutely love you more than I love myself.

Karli, I cannot get over how much you amaze me. You have grown so much from the time when you were a one year old ball of personality with your "squinty" little smile. You have turned into one of the most responsible people I know. My heart is blessed every time I see you step in to advise your brothers and sister just before they do something that might hurt them. You are a natural born care-taker! I also see you struggling at times to grow up. I just want you to know that you're doing a great job. I know that you do make mistakes, but, the important thing is that you learn from them. I see you trying really hard and I couldn't be more proud of you!

Drake, I am on a journey that is all so new and exciting to me. I am witnessing the first-hand account of a boy growing into a man. It is so amazing to me to see you now as a boy who is anxious to "get puberty". I can remember the tornado that used to be the two year old you. It is such a pleasure to see this transformation! You are so smart and funny. I often wonder what your future holds in store for you. There are unlimited possibilities at your feet. Choose wisely, my son. I am also blessed beyond words to see you explore your relationship with God. Your hunger to learn is special to me. Don't ever lose that! I could not be more proud of you!

Brant, you are truly one of a kind. You are a very special boy. Having you for a son is a privilege. I love that you still have that wonder and heart of a child. It is a gift to me. The days can be long, but the years are so short! My soul smiles when I see you playing and enjoying life in the simplest of terms. Your affectionate spirit warms me from the inside out. All of my life I have wanted to be loved and I have been loved well by you! It is very sweet to see your concern when I'm not feeling well. Your kisses and hugs are the best medicine ever! You are strong willed, but it can serve you well in your life if you use it wisely! I am so proud of you and I am blessed to call you son.

Aubree, you keep our lives interesting! You are one special girl. You have a sweet spirit, just like your sister. You are very well behaved and even more funny! You are so smart and perceptive and curious and loving. What did we ever do without you? You complete our family. God knew you were exactly what we needed. My cup runneth over. I look forward to watching you grow and blossom and I count myself truly blessed to have a front row seat to your life. I am so proud of you, my beautiful baby daughter.

I have a lot to be thankful for today. I am thankful for the "noise" and sounds of my life! I am thankful for the constant beat of our home. I am thankful for the chaos as well as the peace. I am thankful for the love that fills each room that would not be here without you. I am thankful for the four of you, because you make our house a home. You each have a very special place in my heart that cannot be filled by anyone else.

I pray that you know how very much I love each of you and I never want to spend one single breath without you! I pray that you each live a long life filled with love. I pray that you continue to grow in character. I pray for health and happiness for you beyond measure. I pray for success beyond your wildest dreams. I pray that you each find that one special person designed for you by the hand of God. I pray that you seek God daily and develop a strong relationship with Him. I pray that you can easily recognize His love, grace, and mercies every day of your lives. I pray for healthy, beautiful grandchildren. I pray a prayer of thanksgiving for each one of you~ you are so special and beautiful, and my life is so much better by having known you!


Thanksgiving "Weak"?

November 22, 2010

This begins "Thanksgiving" week! I have spent this month trying to foster an attitude of thankfulness in hopes that it will become second nature to me. I think most of us could stand to be a little more thankful in our day to day lives. I know that all too often, as human beings, we tend to focus on what has not gone "right" in our lives, no matter how trivial. This sets us up to be less happy than we potentially could be. It is very draining to us and those close to us when we are disappointed and despaired. It is difficult to dredge through a day when you feel defeated by the world, just as it is for someone to try to constantly lift you up from those depths of unhappiness.

The answer is simple. Ask yourself~ do I want to be more happy or less happy? Personally, I want to be more happy, so I am going to actively practice looking at the proverbial glass as half full~ all the time! I don't want my thanksgiving to be "weak", I want it to be "strong"! So, next time something does not turn out exactly the way you would have hoped for, choose to be thankful that it isn't worse than it is. Also, go one step further~ choose to believe that God has something greater in store for you than what you have for yourself. Believe that if "it" would have gone "your" way, then you would be missing out on God's Greater plan for your life. Rest in the peace of not having to know what is best for you and just trust God to hold you in His hands and lead you!

"I will thank the Lord because he is just; I will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High." Psalm 7:17

"You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!" Psalm 30:11-12

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6


"The Gift Shop" Week 4

November 20,2010

I'm a day late~ I know. Sorry. Yesterday was crazy busy. Please forgive me. I hope you enjoy this week's picks. Please remember that I am not endorsing any product. These are just ideas.

Check out these SUPER cute rubber boots? You can find a pair for anyone on your list. There are tons of styles, designs, and prices! I love 'em!
I was not able to find "cute" boots for men. Most men, at least mine is for sure, are more about function and comfort than style. But, I did find this really cool item. How about some Fishouflage? There are a few different designs and price ranges.

Next Friday is "Black Friday". It is my absolute favorite day of the year. (Well, almost) I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I will be getting up way too early and shopping way too late, standing in lines way too long to spend way too much money. I will let you know how I fare! Oh, and I am certain that next week's post will be late. Happy Shopping!


The "Right" Fighter

November 18, 2010

We've all been there. Frustrated. Annoyed. Angry. "Why doesn't he just listen to me? Why can't he do what I ask?" Then we fuss. We scream. We become disrespectful. We use ugly words in an ugly tone. We forget that the one we are speaking to yelling at is probably the person that we love above all others. Why in the world would we treat someone that is so important to us in such a bad way? It just doesn't make sense.

Jesus did not walk around this earth scolding people. He was not a mean, angry, resentful guy. He was gentle and loving. He treated everyone with pure love, no matter what they had done. Have you read the bible to see some of the things that people did and still received His love and healing? How do you imagine things might have been different if Jesus was to act the way we do sometimes? Can you see Him getting frustrated because here comes yet ANOTHER sinner asking for favor and healing? How well would it go over if He would stand on his "soap box" and start yelling and pointing His finger at everyone, "Why don't you listen to me? Why don't you do what I say the first time? You should be ashamed of yourself!" Even though he would be right, he wouldn't be loving. Would you submit yourself to that humiliation? Probably not. You would not be a fan of Jesus. He would have a hard time winning your love and respect. And that's what we want from our relationships, isn't it? Love and respect with a little understanding and compassion thrown in for good measure.

Whether you are right or not, the means will justify the end. You need to think about that. You can be right all you want, if you treat someone badly, they will eventually stop loving and respecting you. You are gonna be right all by yourself! At the end of your life, do you want to be sitting on your front porch in your rocking chair right but ALONE? I doubt it. I want my husband and children sitting next to me singing "Kumbaya".

We need to decide that we are going to treat others with love and respect over being right and rude. Sometimes, it may mean that we will have to have a submissive spirit. We may just have to back down and let things just be. We need to remember that we should treat the most important people in our lives as though they are the most important people in our lives! We should put them before ourselves, and, if we're important to them, they will do the same for us. Can you imagine what that relationship would look like?

"So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other." John 13:34

"Never seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord." Leviticus 19:18

"Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love covers all offenses." Proverbs 10:12

"But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too." Matthew 5:44-45

"There are three things that will endure- faith, hope, and love- the greatest of these is love." 1Corinthians 13:13

"And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God's word." Ephesians 5:25-26

"Continue to love each other with true Christian love." Hebrews 13:1



November 17, 2010

A few nights ago, Aubree woke up in the darkness of night and needed to go tinkle. She was very groggy, still full of sleep and needed help. So, I got out of bed and carried her in my arms to the bathroom, lovingly waited while she "did her thing", and then cleaned her up and got her dressed again. She looked at me and said with all the drama of a two year old, "Thanks Mom! You saved my  life!" Ha Ha Ha That girl is so hilarious! I love her!

You know, there are times when I wake up in the darkness of life with a need and I feel unable to help myself due to whatever circumstance I find myself in. But,God is always there to lift me up out of the situation and carry me in His arms of rescue! He is faithful and capable!

From time to time, I believe that God will allow us to sink to scary depths just so He can be glorified when He raises us up triumphantly! He allows things to happen in our lives so that He can prove to us that He can and will always take care of us. He wants us to always be grateful and appreciative of Him and His perfect grace and mercy!

So, don't fret when you find yourself faced with trouble. Don't worry when you don't see a way out of the dilemma you seem to be stuck in. Rest in God's word when you are overwhelmed with sadness and despair. He wants to use your troubles for His glory and praise. He wants you to rejoice in Him. He wants to prove to you that He loves you~ that He will not leave you. He is always faithful, just as you should be. Because after all, we have the ultimate Life Saver in Him!

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6

"The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you." Romans 16:20


Dressed for Success

November 15, 2010

The other day, Freddie and I had a disagreement about something or other. He was frustrated with me because he had expected me to do something that I did not do. It hurt my feelings to see him disappointed in me and I let myself get very angry and I may or may not have called him an ugly name. I immediately felt ashamed and sorry that I let my emotions get the better of me. Freddie's reaction was something exactly like this: "That's real Christian of you."  Ouch! He's right. That is not how Christ would react. But, I am not Christ. I strive to be Christ-like, but I am not always successful.

Being like Christ is a very tall order. He was sinless. He was able to resist temptation 100% of the time. And he was tempted by the best of 'em. How was he able to do it? After all, he did walk this earth as a human. I think it's because he had perfect knowledge and wisdom of God. His heart was perfectly tuned in to God's desires and commands. He spent his life searching for and learning and teaching God's will. As we seek God's instruction, we will become more like Christ. We will be better armed to resist temptation. We will have a clearer understanding and bigger arsenal to defeat the wiles of the devil.

So, how exactly are we to do this? The bible gives us a clear answer. It tells us to put on the "Armor of God" every day. We are to be honest and righteous. We should be filled with God's peace which comes from knowing that Jesus died on the cross to save us from hell. We must remain faithful at all times and be confident in our salvation. We need to know the word of God by reading and studying it. And we must constantly be in prayer about all things!

So, make sure the first thing you do every day is to Dress for Success in the battle armor of God!

"A final word: Be strong with the Lord's mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil ruler and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms. Use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared. In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere." Ephesians 6:10-18


"The Gift Shop" Week 3

November 12, 2010

Here we are~ week 3 of my series, "The Gift Shop". This week's features are:

For the girls on your list, how about this adorable apron & baking set. It's from Lilly's Kids and it will cost about $24.95, but the Personalization is FREE.
For the boys on your list, isn't this Tin Can Robot cute? It is also from Lilly's Kids and will cost about $19.98.

Instead of listing a man and woman gift this week, I am going to give you an idea for the teacher's on your list. How about a personalized Note Pad from Vista Print.com. Their rates are reasonable and you can get one starting around $6.74. There are several designs that can be customized to your preference. Here are just a few examples:



American Soldier

November 11, 2010

Today is Veteran's Day. Today, I am sincerely grateful for every single soul that has put on the uniform of the United States military. I am grateful that so many men and women were and are willing to give up everything to protect our freedom~ and I am grateful for the men and women who stood beside them and "held down the fort" at home, raising kids and keeping a house, alone. It is not a simple task, especially when you're praying to God every second of the day to spare the life of someone you love so dearly. I do not write these words lightly. I mean them from the bottom of my heart. Thank you!

"And here is how to measure it- the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends." John 15:13


Keeping the Peace

November 10, 2010

So, yesterday, I was privy to an interaction between my oldest son and my youngest daughter. He was barking at her for something or other, being very rude and angry. I have recently read "The Duggars 20 and Counting" and in it Michelle mentioned something about lowering her voice instead of raising it when correcting her children. I thought, I am gonna give this a try. I have been working on how they talk to each other for quite some time. So, I called Drake to me and VERY quietly I talked whispered to him about how he should speak to his sister. I told him to loosen his face muscles to release the anger & frustration. So, we did exercises to shake out our faces and loosen them into a relaxed state of smiling. And when we changed our faces from tight, angry things to loose, smiling laughing things our moods lightened immediately and drastically. It was much harder to be stern and upset once we'd released the tension in our faces.

Now, the trick is to put and keep this in practice daily. This is going to be a challenge for me, to put it mildly. It is so easy to lose my temper when I am trying to get school done or supper or whatever it is that I'm working on and I turn around to see that one my of lovely children (Aubree) has dumped a full bowl of cereal and milk onto the floor or has unrolled the toilet paper or has climbed on top of her dresser (again!). It is going to take a LOT of self control to lower my voice instead of raise it. But, I can imagine what the results of success would be. It would be wonderful to have a house where no one screams at each other on a regular basis. I would love to live among people who are respectful to each other and treat each other kindly. Oh glorious day!

So, if you happen to walk up to me and my little family and we are shaking our heads as if we are having convulsions DON'T call 9-1-1 (at least not right away)! It's probably only our meager attempt to keep the peace!

"Turn away from evil and do good. Work hard at living in peace with others." Psalm 34:14


Raising Jesus

November 8, 2010

We are already in range of counting down to CHRISTmas in terms of weeks rather than months. How did that happen so fast? Life is flying by me at lightening speed. I am changing my mindset into a Spirit of Thankfulness and Giving. I am planning my CHRISTmas lists, checking them twice, and marking off purchases made. I am anticipating "Black Friday". (It is a day that was made just for me, you know.) I am making my CHRISTmas cards, and planning for my baby's birthday (which is December 20th). I am thinking about invitations for our annual CHRISTmas party.

In all of the hullabaloo, I don't want to forget WHY I am doing all of these things. I want to remember that long ride of a very pregnant virgin on the back of a donkey all those years ago. I want to remember a promise fulfilled. I want to remember angels rejoicing at the birth of our Savior, of my Savior! I want to try to imagine how His mother felt the first time she saw Him. How humble she must've been. How much in awe she was.

Then I think, "How do you raise the Son of God?" I mean, really, how does that work? If He was sinless, then discipline could not have been a problem. But, I mean, He's the Son of God. Do you feel an obligation to take instruction from Him? Do you show favoritism to Him among all of your children? Does he get a later curfew than the others? Does he get extra dessert? Okay. Probably not. I imagine that she had to have been special herself for God to have chosen HER. She had to have been blessed with wisdom and special character to be able to handle such a task.

Next time I think that raising my children is a daunting and difficult task, I probably should pause and reflect on the job Mary had before her some two thousand years ago and count my blessings.

"Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 'Don't be frightened, Mary,' the angel told her, 'for God has decided to bless you! You will become pregnant and have a son, and you are to name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!'" Luke 1:29-33


"The Gift Shop" Week 2

November 5, 2010

One week closer to CHRISTmas. Do you have the Spirit of the Season? I am constantly on the look-out for inexpensive, unique, meaningful gift ideas. I hope you enjoy this week's selections.

For the woman on your list, how about a personalized piece of jewelry. I have had my eye on similar pieces for a while now. I love the idea of wearing something with the names of my kids and/or husband. Check out the site for more options.

For the guy on your list, how about this unique goody.....It is a "Survival Kit in a Can". It costs about $12.95.

For the boys on your list... how about this "Frightened Grasshopper Solar Bug". It costs about $9.95 and boys LOVE building things!

For the girls on your list how about their very own "Lady Bug Land"! It costs about $17.50 and is sure to provide much entertainment.

For the babies..... How about a tutu and matching bib for the girls- this one costs about $24.00

And for the baby boys... this set will cost about $25.95

(I have not been compensated for my opinions nor am I endorsing any of these items or websites or stores.)

Thank You

November 5, 2010

I am working on growing a thankful spirit. November seems like a perfect opportunity to do so. I have been concentrating on one thing every day that I am thankful for. I meditate in my mind why I am thankful and I practice and attitude of praise. My goal is to have a thankful spirit as second nature by the end of the month.

Doesn't it feel great when our normal, everyday routine is interrupted by someone who is grateful for something we have done and takes time to "sing our praises"? When that does happen to me, it fills me up. It encourages me. It satisfies something deep in my soul. It creates in me a spirit of giving. I feel content and pleased. My self-esteem grows by leaps and bounds. I feel useful. I feel productive. And I feel humble.

When we take the time to "sing someone's praises", we are not only doing great things for them, but, we are cultivating something great in our own lives, too. By recognizing the good in our lives and acknowledging it publicly, we are focusing on positive things. We are not setting our eyes on things that have not gone smoothly, or flat out badly. We choose to overlook the bumps and potholes along the way and focus on the flowers and the rainbows! This, my friend, has an enormous impact on the quality of your life!

Our Heavenly Father is ... well, I cannot even think of what words I can use that are fitting to describe how awesome and wonderful He is! I am speechless to describe how grateful I am. Doesn't He deserve our praises and thanks? Constantly? Who am I to whine and complain about things that seem inconvenient or inadequate to me? How dare I look past everything I have been given, as well as everything I have been spared from to feel sorry for myself that I don't have more? What am I entitled to? Everything I have has been given to me by the GRACE of God, not because I deserve any of it! We should keep thanks and praise on our lips to our God all the time. It is pleasing to Him, as it is to us. And, He is the One who truly deserves it!

"I will thank the Lord because he is just; I will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High." Psalm 7:17

"I come to your altar, O Lord, singing a song of thanksgiving and telling of all your miracles." Psalm 26:7

"Let us come before him with thanksgiving. Let us sing him psalms and praises." Psalm 95:2

"And you will always give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:20

(Please go down to the playlist and click the //pause button and come back here and click the >play button.)


There's No Place Like Home

November 3, 2010

I'm sitting here, thinking about my life. I just can't help but to feel so incredibly blessed. Sure, there are some things that I would like to be just a little bit different. But, oh, there are SO many things that I wouldn't change for anything in the world. I am truly grateful for MY life~ just the way it is!

There is such a blessing in being content and at peace with your life. I have gotten to this place by the grace of God. I have gotten to this place by being willing to travel the path He has chosen for me. I have gotten to this place by always coming back to the Word of God. Yes, that means that there have been (many) times that I have strayed. But, I have never forgotten my way home.

My home is with God. My home is doing my best to live according to His teaching. My home is dwelling under his protection and promises. There's no place like home!

"The one thing I ask of the Lord- the thing I seek most- is to live int he house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord's perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock." Psalm 27:4-5

"A house is built by wisdom and becomes strong through good sense. Through knowledge its rooms are filled with all sorts of precious riches and valuables." Proverbs 24:3-4

"Anyone who listens to my teaching and obeys me is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won't collapse, because it is built on rock." Matthew 7:24-25


The Strength in Faith

November 1, 2010

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine and we were talking about how we deal with difficulties in our lives. She said, "It's a good thing we are strong. We are able to handle things." To which I replied, "I am not strong. I have faith." She looked at me with a shocked look on her face, but very intrigued at the same time.

So what does it mean? Faith? When I told her that I have faith, I meant that I know that I know that I know that God has my best interest at heart. It means that I know that He loves me completely~ warts and all. It means that I trust Him to know what is best for me. It means that I ask of Him the impossible, because He can do all things! But, my faith also prepares me to be willing to accept the inevitable. It means that when God's answer to my prayer is "no", then I fall completely into His arms to carry me through the rough patches and that I know there will be something better waiting for me on the other side. It means that I not only accept Jesus as my Savior, but I revere him as Lord! (I'm going to pause here for a minute for you to re-read that last sentence.) My faith tells me that God is true to His word. My faith tells me to be obedient and God will take care of me. My faith tells me that I don't need to have all the answers, because my Father does. My faith allows me to rest without worry.

What does your faith say? Are you doing your best every day to walk in faith? Are you holding back and carrying the burden of life alone? Or have you submitted to God and are basking in the freedom of His love? It's not always easy to have faith. Life throws some pretty rotten scenarios at us from time to time. Our faith will be tested as an opportunity for us to grow. And, when we are in the trenches, we must remember that we are never alone. God is always there with us. We just need to believe that He wants the absolute best for us, whether or not we know what that "best" really is.

"So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him." Hebrews 11:6

"Consequently, it is clear that no one can ever be right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, "It is through faith that a righteous person has life." Galatians 3:11

"And Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." Luke 7:50

"But people are declared righteous because of their faith, not because of their work." Romans 4:5

"For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, it makes no difference to God whether we are circumcised or not circumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love." Galatians 5:6

"When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything." James 1:3-4


"The Gift Shop" Week 1

October 29, 2010

Next week is November. It's official. CHRISTmas season will have begun. With that, I want to set aside Friday's as a special opportunity to feature unique gift ideas. I know that I struggle from time to time with what to give. I have a limited budget, but I want to give something that will be appreciated and not your "run of the mill" gift. So, here is the kick-off of  an Eight Week Series of Feature Friday.  The theme~ "The Gift Shop"!  I will try my best to include an item for children, women, and men each week.

For the children on your list how about this little number from Lily's Kids....


My kids have these, and we LOVE them! They are personalized for free and cost $24.98 - $29.98 depending on the size you order. If you watch, you can get them on sale around the holidays.

Now, I LOVE this little number for the ladies on your list. You know, the ones who have everything and need nothing. Super Cute! They are about $10. 
Now, for the man in your life. Oh boy. It can get a little difficult when you're trying to stay away from specific "hobby" related items (and yes, drinking beer is considered a hobby to some men). So, here is something that I think is cool and unique. If you haven't guessed, I love all things personalized. It costs about $12.98 from Lilian Vernon.

(Disclaimer: I am not endorsing any products listed. They are just things that I think are interesting.)

 "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35


Peeping "Dana"?

October 28, 2010

Have you ever been driving down the street at night through a neighborhood of gorgeous homes? They all have their lights on and you wonder what's going on inside? Dying for a peek of what it must look like? Then you see a house with it's curtains open and you slow down to soak in as much of the inside as you possibly can~ trying to get ideas of how others live and decorate? (Okay, if you're a guy reading this, you cannot relate. You'll just have to trust me on this one.) Well, that's kind of what it's like reading various blogs. If you haven't noticed them, on the right hand side of this page, toward the bottom under "Other Blogs That I Enjoy..." is a list of blogs that I actively read. Some are about home schooling, some have a more spiritual base, many are about Frugal Home Decor! My hobby! Oh yeah! I get to peek into the windows of the homes of all these women who are very much like me and steal their best ideas!

I was recently inspired to do a kitchen "decorate-over". I'm sorry that I don't have any "before" pics to share with you, but here are the afters. I know it doesn't seem like much to you, but the only money I spent was $11.99 for a set of 3 apothecary's that you'll see on top of the microwave. The re-do's purpose is to provide a more functional space that looks clean and neat! Mission accomplished.
The microwave HAD to stay where it is. No options. I have a small kitchen. There was a convection oven just to the right of the stove where the "coffee station" is now. By removing it I am sacrificing the oven and the convenience of it, BUT, I am gaining valuable counter space.

To the left of the stove is a picture frame that I intend to put pictures of people I actually know and hang it on the wall. Who says that you cannot have photos on the wall in your kitchen?

The "stand" next to the microwave is actually a cake stand that I had in the closet. It's base was white with blue snowflakes on it, so I only took it out at CHRISTmas time. Well, a little bit of paint and we've got a year-round candle stand! I really like it. The picture does not do it justice. My fridge sure looks junky. Sorry. But I just love the idea of pics of my family on display there. Sometimes we must sacrifice beauty for things that are more important.

My coffee station. I love the way this functions. And believe it or not it looks way better than what was here before. I absolutely love my paper towel holder! I've had it since the "rebuild after the hurricane". It's wrought iron and really pretty! These pics just don't do my kitchen any justice!

The point of this picture is to show my knives in a mosaic candle holder. They were in a wooden block, but, we all know how beautiful those things are. This is much better looking and they are still within easy access for adults, not Aubree!

Blogging! It can be such a source of encouragement and inspiration. I have found both in several different blogs. And I sincerely hope that my blog is encouraging and inspirational to you, too!