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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Risk of Love

The risk of love is that of being unreturned.
For if I love too deep, too hard, too long,
and you love me little, or you love me not at all
then is my treasure given, gone, flown away lonely.

But if you give me back
passion for my passion,
return for my burning,
add your own dark fire to flame my heart
this is love perfect,
hot, round, augmented, whole, endless, infinite,
and is it fear that flies.

-Luci Shaw

"Intimacy is very risky. No doubt about it. If I reach out to a woman to whom I am drawn, she may reject me. If I tell a woman that I love her, that I cherish her as a friend she may respond a little (or not at all). If I open my soul to another, trusting her with my dark side of failure, she may draw back in shocked silence (or she may tell others). Risky. Risky. Risky."

the friendships of women dee brestin

This is the opening of the chapter in a book study I'm doing with a couple of my close girl friends. It's titled, The Friendships of Women by Dee Brestin.

As I was reading the chapter today I found those words to be very profound. Friendships can be one of the most troubling and risky things you have to deal with, but also one of the most beneficial relationships that you can experience.

I find myself on a pendulum swing going back and forth, thinking it's worth the risk, and then on other days it's just not.

Today was one of those times that I wish I would have stepped out and run the risk. At times I find myself really drawn to a certain person but because of my own insecurities, I don't reach out. I may have saved myself from the danger today; however I cheated myself from the possible benefit for tomorrow.

I'm going to keep this very short and simple today. Friendship is such a vital thing in our lives that we can't be timid and afraid of what the other person might think. We must reach out for others and pray that they will reach back. If they don't reach back, don't be discouraged. There is so many circumstances that we aren't even aware of that may be the reason for them holding back.

Risk it all. Love your friends. Don't hold back yourself because of fear. Friendship is worth a little bit of pain sometimes in order to have that gratification that comes when someone returns your love.

Friday, February 25, 2011

CrAzY Hair DaY

Every year for one day the kids get to leave for school with their CrAZieST hair possible. This is the first year Ariel was brave enough to do it. We've done some silly hairstyles in the past, but always as we pulled into the drop off lane at school, Ariel would hurriedly take it all apart. She just wasn't confident enough to walk into school looking super silly.

Today there was no going back! We used some pink hair spray that will not come out at a moment's notice.

pink crazy hair day

We originally were going to try the look of Cindy Lou Who from "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas," but as Ariel just cut off all her long locks, there wasn't enough hair to work with. This was our best shot at something funny and crazy done in 3 minutes! It wasn't until we were about to walk out the door that she remembered the significance of the day. Ariel would have been extremely upset if she completely forgot; I'm so thankful that didn't happen.

I always enjoy being a mom, and this was one of those days that I found it supremely gratifying. We've been talking about this for several months, so I hope it was all that Ariel expected it to be!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In My Darkest Hour

It's been a long week for me, full of ups and downs. I had planned on writing an exciting post about how awesome my new car is, and how much God provided for me. Everything was supposed to be perfect, and today was the day I planned to share it with everyone. God always knows what's really going to happen. He has different plans than I have for myself, and He's always giving me opportunities to grow and change for the better.

I've been working a lot on trusting God. It's so easy to know that He has a plan for me, and it's going to be perfect. But what happens when His plan isn't what I had in mind? Can I still trust Him? Do I even want to trust Him?

On Saturday, I spent the entire day driving. We dropped the boys off at my brother's house early in the morning, and started on a trip headed a few hours away. It was beautiful weather; the sun was shining, and you could just feel your skin soaking up the rays. I loved it!

We got about half-way, and my car started to act funny. The trip takes four and a half hours of driving along an undivided highway, so at times the going can get rather slow and tedious. You also have to be prepared to stop in several small towns, and follow their posted speed limits.

During one of our stops, the car started to sputter and die. This is not a comforting thing to have happen when you're on a long road trip, driving your only car, and you have a deadline you must make. The car was able to pick back up and go, but seemed to suffer along the way. We drove it like this for another 30 minutes before we died completely in a parking spot outside a Dairy Queen.

I did some serious praying as Ariel and I took a bathroom break, and Titus tried to work some magic under the hood of our car. We knew the spark plugs needed to be replaced, but there was just no time to get that done right then and there.

As I got back out to the car with Ariel, it still wouldn't start back up. I thought we were going to be in big trouble, but another turn of the key and the ignition started. I prayed the whole way out of Dairy Queen's parking lot, and as we made it back to the main street, the car started working smoothly again.

Here's what we think happened. Before leaving on our trip, we made sure to have the oil changed in our car. For several years now our battery cables have been stripped, so they occasionally can get bumped or loosened. When they changed the oil they must have moved the cable a little. When Titus popped the hood, he jostled it around again, and the battery was secured. Our problem was solved. We didn't have any more car trouble for the rest of the trip.

We did however hit another slight bump in the plans, as we got lost at the state border, and missed our turn. It wasn't until we'd been driving for 20 or 30 minutes that I questioned our location and we were able to turn around. That put us further behind schedule.

At 4:30pm, 30 minutes before closing time we pulled into the dealership. We knew the car was for us. Our spirits were high, and it didn't seem like anything would bring them down.

The long drive ahead of us seemed overwhelming, but we were ready to get on the road right away and head home. I'm very thankful that when we were leaving, it was still light outside, and everything was visible. I am not fond of driving at nighttime, but sometimes you don't have a choice.

As we made our way through the next few cities, the darkness was falling, and we were forced to make our way down the undivided highway once again. At the beginning, my anxiety level was so high, and I had to pray constantly just to keep myself calm. I do not enjoy driving in the dark during normal circumstances. I especially didn't enjoy doing it when you can't see 10 feet in front of you.

It was then that God spoke. He showed me a picture, and as I went along He kept revealing more to me. The road is like our life. The darkness that surrounded me is the unknown that is constant. I can shrivel up into my shell, hugging my knees to my chest, scared of the darkness, wondering where God is. Or I can follow the road. There are many times that we have to blindly follow God, when we can't see anything around us except for those few feet right in front of our face. He doesn't always reveal what His plan is, or where the road is going to take a curve, but if we're willing to trust Him, and take it one step at a time, He will get us there.

in my darkest hourOften times we take our eyes off of the ground right in front of us, the circumstances that are today, and we look ahead where we think we're going to be, and the fear can come back. We stop focusing on this day, this step, and we start worrying ahead to the future. If you focus too much on the road in the distance you might get off the path that's for right now. This can cause an accident or disaster in your life.

I believe the scariest time is when another car appears to be coming right at you. Their headlights can be blinding, and you can't see your path anymore. All you can see is their light and the trouble it's causing you. It brings you terror. The only way to get through that is to hold on tightly to the steering wheel and believe that the road is before you. You have to step out in faith, and know that you're going to be stepping onto solid ground. God never promised that you wouldn't have obstacles to overcome. He promised us, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

God will show you how much you need to see to get by. The part that I found most comforting was when I had another car to follow. I believe that God sends us people or He speaks words in our lives for the exact moment we need it. There are times when you can be overwhelmed and want to just give up, but then just over the hill, or the curve in the road, He lights the way. He shows you that you aren't alone out there, and there is something to hold onto.

After you've gone several miles down the road, you'll reach a small town that is completely lit up with street lights. It's then that you can catch a glimpse, a bigger picture of what God has in store for you. When you're afraid, and don't feel like you can follow the darkened road any longer, just believe and know that there is something larger and brighter out there. There's a plan for your life, a town at the end of the road completely lit up. "'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'" Jeremiah 29:11

As God was speaking all this to me, I was certain I knew exactly why He was showing me it. We had been through a lot in the past several months with our car. There had been many ups and downs, but I believed we were in the town completely lit up with streetlights. I thought we were catching a glimpse of what His plan was.

We have been having some trouble with our new car. It isn't shifting gears smoothly, and I'm afraid the transmission might be going out on it. That's not something you want to be dealing with on a car you just bought less than a week earlier. I don't know what the future holds, but I know that I'm going to trust God to take care of it.

I think He was showing me all this so that I would hold on, and keep taking those steps forward, one foot in front of the other. When He spoke this to me, it was as if I had just come up behind another car, helping to light my way again. I may be afraid of what may or may not happen in the future, but God has guaranteed my next step. And even when the headlights are blinding me, and I can't see the road. I'm going to step out in faith. God is going to guide me to that next city lit up with all the streetlights.The lyrics to the song, "Believe" by Mainstay are very powerful, and have been running through my mind all day long. When all around me starts to fall and when my faith it seems so small, Even in my darkest hour, I will believe.

I don’t know if I still have the strength to get up again
I don’t know if I can face my own reflection
Jesus, take this heart that feels so cold again and make it new
I hold this hope inside that you’ll never leave me
When all around me starts to fall and when my faith it seems so small
Even in my darkest hour, I will believe
I don’t know how I could turn my back and walk away
All I really want is for your love to hold me
Jesus, take this heart and make it whole again
I know you’ll never leave me

When all around me starts to fall and when my faith it seems so small
Even in my darkest hour, I will believe
Even if the sun begins to fall, even when I feel nothing at all
Even if I’m all alone, I will believe
Even in my darkest hour, I will believe.

Liberty Truck Sales Mounds Oklahoma
The Rest of the Story:
Tear Down These Walls
The Light In Me
The End

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Super Mario World

Gabriel latest obsession is playing Super Mario Bros, so it was pretty obvious this year what kind of a birthday party he was going to have. I remembered playing the game when I was young, but I don't have much to do with computer games these days. It was a little bit of an adventure and a trip down memory lane to get prepared for Gabe's birthday party this year.

super Mario bros party invitationTo start off every party that I plan, I try to come up with a creative invitation. It's always the key to my party, and I love to put details into it that make it more than just a simple piece of paper. Many of our recent party invitations have been 3 dimensional objects because it's so much more fun. I came up with these origami stars, and spent several hours with my husband's help folding and creating the invincible star invitation. And just for fun, I tried to add some plastic coins to everything.

origami star super mario bros invitation
super mario bros cloud birthday bannerI decided this year to go for some really simple party games but very elaborate decorations. I really enjoy getting ready for a birthday party, but I don't always enjoy hosting the party. If the games are too complex or need too many directions, I don't feel like I get to spend anytime just celebrating with my son. This party was a big success for me because it was practically effortless on my part... hosting the party that is.

super Mario bros wall decorationsI put several hours into the decorations, working on creating a scene you might find in the game. I wanted the kids to feel like they walked into Super Mario World.

super Mario bros party decorations
I got a little carried away making different characters and ended up running out of room on my Mario wall. I had to add some of the characters and things to various other places in the house.

ba-bomb decoration
Yoshi wall decoration
mushroom wall decoration super mario brosIn the spirit of keeping it simple, we played "Pin the Mustache on Mario." Everyone already knows how to play; so all you have to do is wait your turn.

pin the mustache on mario
Yoshi egg hunt super mario brosGabriel wanted to be able to pick out prizes for his party, so we did a Yoshi egg hunt. I know the eggs are supposed to be white with green spots, but plastic Easter eggs don't seem to come in that color. We switched it up a little! The kids all got to run wild in Gabe's room hunting for eggs.

My kids just can't seem to have a party these days without a piñata! It was the first game that Gabe asked to have at the party. I thought it would be nice to copy our invitation and make the Mario star.

star pinata super mario brosI think this was lost on everyone at the party, but what better candy to have in a Star piñata then Starburst?

Every party that I plan, I like to make something special for each of the guests to take home with them, to kinda remember the party by. In year's past, we've done armor of God, butterfly wings, aprons, and matching bandanas. This time I found a pattern online and sewed Mario hats for each of the kids. I also made one Luigi hat for Zech to use for his costume. The hats were a big hit for most of the kids. They wore them the whole entire time. And since a couple of the kids didn't want their hat, some of us adults wore them instead!

Super mario hats for party guestsGabe's party was supposed to take place the weekend before, however he was sick with a fever, so we had to postpone a week. It ended up working out to our advantage because I purchased some party mustaches from China and they hadn't arrived. They ended up getting here just in time for the postponed party. Everyone complained about the itchiness and how uncomfortable they were, but I think they made some fun party pictures!

My mom always makes the cakes for our parties. She did a great job on Mario!

Super Mario birthday cake

It's Party Time!

mario bros costume I couldn't resist taking a few family photos with us all dressed up in our Mario attire. We all got new Mario shirts for the occasion.

Mario Luigi party costumes birthdayZechariah's facial expressions are so funny in each photo. I really wonder what's going on in his mind.
Mario Luigi party costumes birthday
Mario Luigi party costumes birthday
Mario Luigi party costumes birthdayGabe really enjoyed being Mario!

Mario Luigi party costumes birthday
Mario Luigi party costumes birthday
Mario Luigi party costumes birthday

All of Gabe's friends that were able to make it to the party!

Gabe wanted to start his party watching some Mario episodes on TV, while they all worked on some coloring sheets.

Gabe's friend here was the first one to put his mustache on Mario, and he also ended up being the winner of the game! I think he should have won a prize too, because he was the ONLY person who kept his mustache on the entire party!

I love that even with his eyes open; Zech places his mustache on Mario's belly!

pin the mustache on super mario
I build my piñatas a little too strong. I always say I'm not going to do it the next time, but each time I think it needs more layers. The string broke three times before we could bash open our piñata.

Ariel's getting ready for a swing!

We needed someone a little stronger to give a good hard hit!

Something funny here, Gabe chose a few paint sets that he wanted to do for prizes and I put them in the piñata because they didn't fit in Yoshi's eggs. However after being beaten with a bat, most of the glass covers on the paint sets where completely shattered! I'm making a mental note for next time. No plastic in a piñata!

After waiting an entire extra week for his party, he was really happy for the day to finally have come!

Happy 7th Birthday, Gabriel!

I had to post this photo too. After the party was over, I had to get my grocery shopping done and the kids were all left with dad. Apparently, Zech got a little hungry! He got in big trouble for doing this, but who could blame him? Half a cake left just sitting on the table? Yum Yum!


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