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Friday, July 29, 2011

Be There Now

This morning I woke with a heavy heart. I've recently encountered a strained relationship between a parent and their child. This is never intentional; however, sadly it happens often. I've witnessed the pain on both sides, and it makes my heart ache.

I cannot even begin to tell you how important your relationship is with your children now.

You cannot put off today, what you want for tomorrow. It's not impossible to later accomplish it, but it's very improbable.

I heard someone make this statement before, and I've held onto it. You have two opportunities to have a relationship with your children. You have the parent relationship that takes place while you're raising them, and you have the adult relationship that takes place when they've grown. As the parent, you only get to make the decision how one of those relationships will be.

If this doesn't make sense to you, I want to explain it a little better. When your kids are young and impressionable, you are the one they look up to for guidance. This is the chance you get at working on a relationship with them. You must make it the best you possibly can. When your children are in your care, you need not to just meet their physical needs, but you must be there for them emotionally. You need to be a friend, someone who they can count on, and go to for advice. You can be their friend, and still maintain an authority role. If you are inaccessible when they're young, it will determine how things end up later in life.

The adult relationship is determined solely by the child. You can try to connect with your child later, but if you were unsuccessful when they were young, it's going to be even harder when they are old. I don't want to say it's impossible, because with God nothing is impossible. But I do want to say, it's very improbable.

So it is with my heavy heart in what I've witnessed that I determine to make the most of the time I have now. I want to use every day to my advantage. I love my children with all my heart, and with every moment that goes by, I desire to have my kids believing in my love and affection. I never want to reach the place where I am inaccessible to my children. I want to be their friend, someone they can always count on. I want to love them now with a consuming love that never dies.

I want to be so careful with their delicate minds and emotions, always building them up and never tearing them down. I want to use my words to encourage them, and teach them they can be anything they dream up. I want them to know how wonderfully made they are. But most importantly I want to be God's hands reaching out to them, showing them something tangible that illustrates God's love for them.

Being a parent is God's Greatest Blessing

The parental role is so vital in the development of a child emotionally and spiritually, that I pray daily I am fulfilling the calling that God has bestowed upon me. I believe being a parent is one of God's greatest blessings. Now I want to say, I don't pretend to be an expert here, this is just what I've been pondering and observing lately. I really felt like I should share this with you. It's been on my heart, and something that God is still working on me with. I so often feel like I fall short in my parenting skills, but I know that with God's help, He can make up the difference.

I want to challenge you to be there for your child now, so that when they are grown you can continue the relationship that you began.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Disgusting Day

For our latest theme day with our friends, we had some disgusting fun! I saw the idea on Family Fun and decided we just had to have a party ourselves. This might be our last theme day with friends, as they are a lot of work. The kids find the work totally worth it, but I'm getting tired and feeling like the rest of summer vacation should be a little more relaxed for myself. I always say this, and then end up changing my mind. So we'll see...

To start a day off on a disgusting foot, you must first get yourself ready. You can't expect to have some dirty, muddy fun in your dress-up clothes. You've got to dress the part. We all choose some old clothes that we weren't afraid to stain and started by rubbing cocoa powder all over ourselves. Next we looked through the trash and decided which items we wanted to pin on our clothing. We spiked the boy's hair to look messy, and wore handkerchiefs to hold back our girly hair. It was fun to try to appear grungy. Certain children of mine were able to do a better job than others. All of Zech's life he's been a clean guy, and this day was no exception. As soon as the picture was over, he took off the trash.

disgusting day trash clothes
After our friends arrived, we went for the backyard to begin our dirty fun. Every kid likes to make mud pies! We wanted to be a little different and decided to make mud cupcakes. Everyone brought their own decorations from home and made their creation beautiful. We used twigs, leaves, bird seed, rocks, bugs, berries, flowers, etc...

pretty mud pies
For the next disgusting activity we made SLIME!

You need:
warm water
1 cup of white glue (2- 4oz. bottles of glue)
Green food coloring
4 tsp. borax

1) Mix together 3/4 cup of warm water, 1 cup of white glue, and a few drops of green food coloring.

2) In another bowl, combine 4 teaspoons of borax and 1-1/3 cups of warm water.

3) Pour the contents of the first bowl into the second and let it sit for 1 minute without stirring. You'll end up with a solid that you can pick up out of the borax and water mixture. You do not stir them together.

Afterward, pack it in ziplock bags for take-home fun.

The slime was a big hit with my kids. They have used it for hours and hours of fun. At first it was a little slimy and stuck to your hands quite a bit, but after allowing it to set for a couple hours, there was no longer any sticky mess. My kids love it!

Our disgusting fun was even had at lunch time. I love this green peanut butter and jelly sandwich that one of my friends brought with them. Way to get into it! The great part about disgusting day was the fact that there were no leftovers. When the kids didn't finish parts of their lunch, we used it all for our disgusting brew!

A fun snack that everyone shared was ants on a log! You could make either peanut butter logs, or we had some of the spray cheese to use.

ants on a log
The highlight of our disgusting party was our disgusting brew. This was my kid's favorite part of the day! We used all those leftovers from lunch, along with some disgusting items that our friends brought with them, and added them to half a bucket of water. We had a couple trays full of trash, and let the kids take turns adding the gross foods and things. It made all of us adults gag! It was definitely disgusting!

disgusting brew

To get our bucket bubbling, we gave each of the kids an alka-seltzer tablet. I'm sure we could have used some vinegar and baking soda too. It didn't give off very big bubbles, but it still added a little grossness to our concoction.

For some really gross fun, we dared the kids to stick their hand in it and try to find the half eaten tomato. Only two kids were brave enough to do this. All the others would start to dip their hand in, and then backed it right back out. It was too gross!! You can imagine what it's like to clean up after. Ewww gross... I took a shower!

To end our party on a good note, we had some mud cake with worms, and some delicious bug juice!

mud cake recipe
Mud cake

20 oz. bag Oreo cookies, crushed
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1/2 c. confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 1/2 c. milk
2 (3 1/2 oz.) pkgs. instant vanilla pudding
12 oz. Cool Whip
1 pkg. gummy worms

Mix in medium size bowl, the butter, cream cheese, and confectioners' sugar. In another bowl, mix the milk and pudding. Fold in the whipped topping. Fold the 2 mixtures together. Layer crushed Oreos, mixture, Oreos, mixture. Repeat several times. Add gummy worms!

Our bug juice was simply green berry rush Hawaiian punch. I think I actually liked it better than the tradition Hawaiian punch. To get your bugs in the drink, simply freeze a raisin or two in your ice cubes.

green bug juice raisins frozen in ice cubes
It was a very DISGUSTING day!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Just recently I was invited to a Mission Passport party. This is an organization designed to give work for women in Thailand who were once prostitutes. They hand make purses, jewelry and scarves. It’s really neat!

Ariel and I went to the party and at the end, they asked the typical, who wants to host a party question. There were no takers except for my daughter. She was practically bouncing out of her seat, volunteering for it. “I’ll do it! I want to have a party! I’ll do it! I want to do it!” I’m not sure if the lady didn’t hear Ariel, or if she didn’t take her seriously. I had to reassure the woman, that yes, my daughter could host a party. Ariel was ecstatic!

When we were getting ready to leave the party, Ariel turns to me and says, “So, Mom, what kind of party should we have?” She had no idea she was volunteering to do the exact same purse party again. She thought they were just looking for people to plan a party, and boy do we do a good job at that!

Mission Passport logo
I talked about Mission Passport earlier, but what I didn't say was that I went to the party empty handed. No checks left at all! My mom agreed to let me pay her back so I could still make my purchase. Last week, I was talking at dinner about how I keep forgetting to write her the check.

To which Gabriel replies to me in a sad tone of voice, shaking his head side to side, “Grandma is just using you for your money.”

I snickered at this because if anything, I’m using Grandma since I haven’t paid her back the money.

Gabe didn’t agree. He said back to me, “But what if she keeps wanting you to pay her back for things and ends up taking all your money.”

I told him that was the point. If I borrow money, I owe it back. So as long as I keep taking her money, she is going to keep wanting her money back. I even tried to explain that if anything, I am taking advantage of her. She is not using me!

He just wouldn’t give up on it. “But what if she really is? I think maybe she is!”

A week went by and I still didn’t remember to write her the check. Gabe overheard me telling his dad so he says to me very directly, “See! I told you she was just using you for your money!”

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Shine Through Me

Just yesterday we were faced with a minor glitch in our lives. It was something of an annoyance, and betrayal, but not enough to keep us down. A few years ago, it would have been major, but today it's only minor.

I have God to thank for that!

He has brought me through so much over the past few years that I cannot help but trust Him today. He's proved Himself trustworthy time and again.

My husband came home from work yesterday to tell me he had something happen to him that's never been done before. The tone of voice that he said it in was a bit surprising but I tried not to worry.

Someone had stolen his credit card info for our checking account. He still has his credit/debit card, but for the past two days someone was using it as their own credit. The part that baffles me is the fact that it's not online purchases, it's done in store. For two days they have managed to spend $2000 of our money. It was only after our mortgage check didn't clear and we got an overdraft fee that we knew something was wrong.

They've been living the life! They've shopped at various grocery stores in some nearby cities and spent $1000. They had a little party at Applebee's and spent $70. Then they felt like being thrifty and spent $160 at the Goodwill store, and the list goes on.

This is one of those times where I'm absolutely speechless. I cannot even comprehend what's been done, and why.

But the thing I do know is that God is control. He knows everything and sees everything. He's got my back. I can keep moving forward, placing one foot in front of the other. God is so much bigger than any small amount of money. He does miracles and He supplies all my needs. Not necessarily all my wants and greed's, but my needs.

Last night at church we sang a song entitled "A Thousand Miles." I would have liked to post a link to a YouTube video of it, but I can't. It was written by someone in our church a few years back. The message is so powerful to me.

Over the past year, I have been obsessed, you could say, with the light and the dark. Maybe it's because the light and the dark go back all the way to the first day of creation, God spoke:

And light appeared.
God saw that light was good
and separated light from dark.
God named the light Day,
he named the dark Night.
It was evening, it was morning—
Day One."

Whatever reason it might be, God speaks to me through the light. Anytime the darkness of the world comes in, and threatens to overpower me, God answers back with His bright blinding light. I've always loved the sun and the feel of the rays on my skin, heating up my body. It's such a peaceful feeling to me. It's God showing His power over the darkness. I can run, and dance, and sing in the light. It's freedom!

The words of the song go like this:

A thousand miles seems far away, but for you just a touch away
Endless Love has reached my way
You paid the debt to take my sin, Crossed the grave to reach my hand
You gave hope, you gave grace

We sing Praise
To the God who saves us, the God who makes us whole
We sing Praise
To the God who saves us, the God who makes us whole

You looked at me and where I’d been, The paths I chose, all my sin
You forgave, everything
I maybe weathered, I may be worn. Your love for me is still the same.
You love me, Lord, Everyday

So Shine through me, a light to be
Let this world see what I see
Live through me, I’m on my knees
Let this world see what I see

No matter what happens in my life, I want to be bright. I don't want to stay in the dark hiding with my pain or sin. I want to be in the light, God's bright awe filled light.

There's a verse that comes to mind, my favorite of all time. It's found in Philippians 2:14-15 "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe." NIV1984

When I was in elementary school, our church had a program called Stars, part of the Assemblies of God, Missionettes. It was not a verse associated with the actual program, but as one of the leaders was moving away to another city, she shared the verse with us and challenged us to live it.

I have always held on to it, and never forgotten that going away speech given to me some 20 years ago. "Do everything without complaining or arguing." How can we expect to be a light in the darkness when our words are filled with anger, negativity, or contempt.

And the second part speaks so powerfully to me, I get goose bumps. "So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you SHINE LIKE STARS IN THE UNIVERSE."

All my life I've wanted to be a star shining in the universe for everyone to see. I want to make a difference. I want to be the light that someone can follow, that points them straight to heaven. I get a picture in my mind of how this looks, described by George Bailey from It's a Wonderful Life, when he's talking to Mary Hatch about lassoing the moon, "Well, then you could swallow it, and it'd all dissolve, see? And the moonbeams'd shoot out of your fingers and your toes, and the ends of your hair..."

It's a wonderful life quote moonbeams'd shoot out of your fingers and your toes

It sounds funny, but that's exactly how I picture it. This glow, with the light shooting out of my arms and legs and all the ends of my hair. Something so powerful that you can't help but notice and see it from miles away. That's exactly how God's light is and can be in our lives. God changes everything when He comes. He makes it so bright, that you can't help but be full of awe and wonder. It's the most beautiful thing in the world to me.

I know that I have rambled on and said a lot here. I just want everyone to know and experience what I have. God is just waiting to be the biggest thing in your life. He desires to love you, and hold you so that no matter what darkness comes, you can fight it. My life has never been the same. I have a peace that comes from within me, that no person can ever take away. My strength is in Christ, and in Christ alone.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Coded Treasure

I tried to make last week as fun as possible for Gabriel. I let him choose all our activities, and tried to do his favorite things. Unfortunately after just the first day, he came down with some kind of a virus and got a high fever. For 3 days, he was sick, and even came down with an infection in his eyes.

The one thing he wanted to do so badly was visit the Shawnee Lake swim beach. However, with an eye infection, it wasn't a possibility.

He was so beyond sad, that I knew I had to come up with something extra special that he would be able to do. It had to be something spectacular because he was talking about the swim beach for months.

Gabe loves to read and write, and he especially enjoys treasure hunts. I think every boy loves to hunt for a good prize. I have been on several treasure hunts that Gabriel has put together, however, I've never given a hunt for him.

He was thrilled with the hunt, and I wanted to share it with you. It was so simple to do, yet so rewarding for him. I found this great website full of already made clues. All I had to do was come up with the end clue for the big grand prize. If I had more time I would have made all the clues myself, but this was a last minute cheering up activity.

I also wanted to make it a little more challenging than just finding the answer. I wanted him to have to do a little bit of brain work. He loves this kind of stuff. I found a simple code and translated the clues into it. I gave him his first clue, the code, and then he set to work.

substitution code for a treasure hunt for kids
To figure out the code, you simply look for the letter written down and then find the corresponding one, either below it or above it. For instance if it's an A the real letter is N, or if it's an N the correct letter would be A. It's pretty easy once you get the hang of it.

After he figured out the code and could read the question, I helped him out by telling him the rhyming word. He caught on really quickly and was even better than I was expecting. The rhymes and code made the clues really fun for him to figure out.

The first clue was "Don't be a slouch, go check the ___________."

2.) No need to rush, go check by a ___________.

3.) You don't need to think twice, go check by some ___________.

4.) This isn't a chore, go check by the ___________.

5.) This is the plan, go check by a ____________.

6.) Take a look, go look in a ____________.

7.) There is hope, go check by some ____________.

8.) You are a big shot, go check by a big ___________.

9.) Don't stop and chat, go check by a ___________.

10.) Go fast or slow, check by some play ___________.

11.) Something cold might be a relief, let's pack up everything and go to _________ ________.

Gabe had wanted to visit Orange Leaf all summer, so this was a big treat for him. He didn't get to do the swim beach, but he told me the treasure hunt was even better. He loved figuring out the code! I'm sure from now on, we're going to be doing a lot more code treasure hunts, and we'll be using rhyming words. It was such simple fun but made such a big impact.

Shortly after we had our afternoon fun, it was time to welcome home Ariel. Mikaela spent a large amount of time with us since her dad was also at Kids Camp. It's been a tradition since Ariel's first year to welcome her home with a sign, and we didn't want to disappoint.

We actually pulled up minutes after the bus arrived, so the kids all flew out of the car, and ran to the door of the bus to welcome our family back home.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Baby Blues

I don't know if you could really classify this as saying one of those funny things, but the timing of it was sweet, and it filled my heart with exactly what I needed.

For some reason, I have been faced with babies over and over again in the past month. It's come from babysitting, to talking across the baby with the mommy, to my friend having a brand new baby. New babies are in the movies I'm watching, and even I Love Lucy just had her baby on the show we watched with our kids.

I have to be so careful around babies. I'm very impulsive, and a baby is not an impulsive decision.

This probably sounds crazy, I don't ask to hold other peoples babies even though I love them and want to so badly. I am very careful to keep my distance. If I went by my feelings, I would end up with a house full of children that I couldn't take care of.

Just this week, after meeting a brand new baby, it brought back all those sweet memories I have with my little ones, and I was starting to get the baby blues. Not the depression blues, but the I want to hold a little baby of my own again blues.

I've talked about it with my husband. I've even cried about it, and moped about it. I'm embarrassed to even be saying this. Because in all honesty, I DON'T WANT A BABY. I'm done having little babies. I love all three of my children, and I don't believe that God's plan is for me to have more right now, or even later. But that doesn't take the ache away.

When I had finished a rather lengthy conversation with my husband this afternoon, and was feeling still a little blue, my three year old walked up to me, and grabbed my leg. He nuzzled his face into my legs, gave me a big hug and said, "Mommy. I your baby."

I couldn't believe it. I was certain my husband put him up to it. But he didn't. Zechariah said it all on his own. How could I resist that sweet little declaration? God has already given me my babies, and no matter how old any of my children get, I will always think of them as that. My baby walking around in a grown-up body.

"I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be."


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