Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Today after school Gabe and Zech decided to play a game of Life. I don't think they even know the rules to the game, so it can only very loosely be classified as playing a game together. By the end Gabe had won, and Zech angrily threw his money at him.

This started a new game!

My entire floor was completely covered with play Life money. Money was raining down from the sky and flying all over the place.

After all the fun was had, I informed them that they would both need to clean up the game themselves. After a few minutes, I heard Gabe talking to himself.

"Humph... I'm not very happy at all! It must be because I'm so rich. Rich people are never happy."

Kids Say the Darndest Things

We were exiting the highway on Wednesday night, when Zechariah said, "There's my church!"

I was feeling a little feisty that night, so I told him, "No, that's MY CHURCH."

It didn't faze him at all. He very sweetly said to me, "I share, Mommy." He sure did put me in my place!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tear Down These Walls

"I'm not scared of anything!" Junior gave a shout. Then he pulled the covers high to keep the monsters out!

But there, in the all the shadows, in the corner by the chair, was something that had three long ears and tufts of shaggy hair. 

Over on the bookshelf, behind his favorite book, six or seven beady eyes peeked out to take a look. Then outside the window, hiding in the tree- was that a woolly mammoth bat? No, it couldn't be.

Everything he looked at, and all that he could hear got scarier and scarier. His knees soon knocked with fear.

God will take care of me. Veggie Tales Junior couldn't go to sleep. His eyes were open wide. Then he remembered something that made him smile inside. Junior said, "I'm not afraid of things, though big or small. God says He will take care of me. He's bigger than them all!" --BigIdea's VeggieTales

These past couple of weeks God has been showing me just how big and strong He really is. I wish I could say I never needed the reminder, but each and every day I'm held accountable to my humanness. Every day I see my weakness and my tendency toward fear and worry.

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post In My Darkest Hour which was the beginning of my journey with the new car we purchased. Since then, we have been through many ups and downs. The car has been to the mechanic 3 times, and the problem has not yet been completely solved. In fact, it's actually escalated.

To start off we were having trouble shifting gears, and thought it might be our transmission. Since then we had found the source of the problem to be an air intake sensor. This was causing the fuel to be too rich which in turn caused the engine to give misinformation to the transmission, which made the gears shift at the incorrect time. Its amazing how one thing can lead to another and pretty soon your car just doesn't work quite right. The problem was easily solved and taken care of by a $150 bill.
The most troublesome and somewhat disturbing part was how the dealership fit into all this. You would think they might have caught this issue and fixed it themselves. $150 to a dealership is probably nothing when it comes to making a good sale. However ... instead they sold us the car pretending it was in perfect working condition. I don't know anything about cars, but I knew as soon as I drove away and tried to get up to speed that something wasn't quite right. They had to have known something was wrong with the car. The car's gas tank was completely empty so we couldn't leave the lot to test drive it; we were forced to stay close by, driving around in their field. We never had a chance to shift gears until the car was in our own possession.

As our car saga has continued on, the most saddening thing has come out. Our mechanic that finally was able to pinpoint the problem and get it fixed, informed us that after 25 years in the business, he's never seen anything like this. The dealer we purchased the car from actually disabled the check engine light on our car. It's not just that they took the light bulb out, it's actually disconnected somehow. That's very unethical and not to mention illegal.

You can imagine the emotions that I have gone through over the past week. On one hand the fact that they intentionally set out to deceive us just hurts, and then there's the anger that they could be so careless. What if we had an accident and someone in my family was hurt? Money is more important to them than the safety of a human life?

God has brought me through it all. I know that no matter what, He is in control. As I heard this news, I couldn't help but start to withdraw into myself, and fear began to creep up. It seemed like the more and more I thought about it, the more I was afraid. I was imagining the worst case scenarios and feeling overwhelmed. I tried to get a few moments of peace and quiet where I could just cry out to God, when Zech climbed up on my lap with his book, "I'm Not Scared!" Reading to him at that time was really the last thing that I felt like doing.

I made it through almost the entire book, with only two pages remaining when I couldn't stop the tears from falling. I read the line "Everything he looked at, and all that he could hear got scarier and scarier. His knees soon knocked with fear." I was Junior sitting in my chair paralyzed with my fear. I kept hearing new things, and new fears were taking over me. What was going to happen? And where was God?

Then just like Junior as I read the next page in the book, my tears turned to a smile. "I'm not afraid of things, though big or small. God says He will take care of me. He's bigger than them all!" God is so much bigger than a person who cheats or lies. Because no one can cheat or lie to God. He knows everything. And not only does He know everything, He takes care of it all. God is my protector. He can solve my problem that needs to be fixed.

As I went off to church that night, my mind was in a much better place. I knew that God was there. Every time when I'm in real trouble or hurting, God always seems to speak to me through music. It's a way to connect on a deep heartfelt level that I cannot even begin to explain. As we were singing the song Tear Down These Walls by Hillsong, God was continuing to work on my heart.

Tear down the walls see the world
Is there something we have missed?
Turn from ourselves
Look beyond
There is so much more than this

And I don't need to see it to believe it
I don't need to see it to believe it
Cause I can't shake this
Fire deep inside my heart

Look to the skies hope arise
See His majesty revealed
More than this life there is love
There is hope and this is real

Cause I don't need to see it to believe it
I don't need to see it to believe it
Cause I can't shake this fire burning
Deep inside my heart

This life is Yours and hope is rising
As Your glory floods our hearts
Let love tear down these walls
That all creation would
Come back to You
It's all for You

Your Name is glorious
Your love is changing us
Calling us
To worship in spirit and in truth
As all creation returns to You

Oh for all the sons and daughters
Who are walking in the darkness
You are calling us to lead them back to You
We will see Your spirit rising
As the lost come out of hiding
Every heart will see this hope we have in You

All day long I had felt a bitterness creeping in slowly. I wanted to be angry. I felt like I had this right; that I had been wronged greatly, and needed vindication. I was just hoping and praying that someone would ask how my day had gone so I could give them the 411 on how I'd been hurt, and deceived.

As I was singing the words to this song God was showing me the truth about what I was going through. I couldn't believe that the dealership would do that, when God just dropped these two words into my mind. Why not? What am I expecting from them? It was very obvious when we were signing the title to our car that the man was not a Christian. Three times he spelled my husband's name wrong, and after I told him it was like the book of the Bible, you would have thought by the sound he made or the look on his face he had never heard of a Bible before, let alone that it would even have books in it.

Why are we always so surprised when the world acts the way that they do? They are simply going with their sin nature. "For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard." Romans 3:23

We, who have committed our lives to Christ, should be held to a higher standard. But we cannot expect the world to do the same. They don't have a book that guides their life, and a God who they can go to in times of trouble. They have to look to themselves and figure things out.

How scary is that?

I am so grateful that I have the listening ear of a God who is big and strong; He has an answer for every problem. I wish I could say that I picked up on this quickly, and that God burned in it my heart, so that I would not forget what He was saying to me. But alas, I was slow. I wanted to post this a week ago, and something kept stopping me. I just couldn't bring myself to write it, or even think about it. I was still holding on to unforgiveness, and I needed a reminder of the words to this song; to actually tear down the walls I had allowed to grow.

Those walls you build may at the time seem to protect you, but they also can keep out the good. I spent a week feeling sorry for myself, and building up walls to keep everyone out, including God. I was mad. I allowed my circumstances to distract me from the purpose of my life.

It doesn't take much to take your eyes off of God. I kept my focus on my problem, and it became too much. It was only today after more tears and pain that I realized my walls need to break. I needed to stop looking to myself for answers like the world does. I needed to look beyond where God was and always is.

The only way to truly overcome is to maintain your FOCUS on God.

"Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed- that exhilarating finish in and with God- he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!" Hebrews 12:2-3

For anyone who read my previous post, In My Darkest Hour, the song was playing on the radio as we pulled into the parking lot of the auto service center and learned this news about the check engine light being disabled. "When all around me starts to fall, and when my faith it seems so small, even in my darkest hour, I WILL BELIEVE." I know God was preparing me for the road that would lie ahead.

Liberty Truck Sales Mounds Oklahoma

The Rest of the Story:
The Light in Me
The End

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Revised: Things to Do When Kidz Say They're Bored

This week, Gabriel has come up with his very own, revised copy of "Things to Do When Kidz Say They're Bored." I thought he came up with some very intriguing new ideas. And I'm sure there are a few things that you never would have thought to do!

things to do when kids say I'm bored

Nintendo DS


Play outside

Treasure hunt

Play in your room

Ride a bike

Make a maze book

Make a story

Play downstairs

Go to a playground

Build a tent

Play with your baby brother

Play with your big sister

Go to grandma's house

Go to your friend's house

Play Super Mario Brothers

Watch plants grow

Hot chocolate party

Play with chalk

Play Webkinz

Make Sentences

Sock Fight

Make food for families

Bake cookies

Make monsters

Play checkers

Play chess

Watch a movie

Play with your aunt

Play with your bird

Pretend you are a hero

Make parts of books

Make all new friends

Watch people play Nintendo DS'

Play with your big brother

Play with your baby sister

Play telephone

Bible study

Color a picture

Play in the snow

Play on Super Mario Wii

Go on a walk

Go to the museum

Do science experiments

Play on the laptop (You need a grownup to put the password in)

Watch library movies

Color pictures of dragons

Color pictures of monsters

Color pictures of people

Color in a coloring book

Make cool food

Pretend you are a chef

Make a fake volcano

Go to the library

Make a CD

Make crafts out of yarn

Go to the school playground

Pick up trash at a park


Play in the sand

Ride on a vacuum cleaner (You'll probably need a grownup's help for this)

Take a nap

Plan a sleepover party

Blow up a balloon

Watch a timer

Listen to music

Pretend you're a zombie caught in a blanket

Go to the zoo

Make your own zoo at home

Say things in Z ... like Za-manda

Play on the guitar

Do sports

Make a pet out of your brother or sister

Play soccer

Play football

Play hockey

Play tennis

Play softball

Play basketball

Make a blog

Make a book of monsters

Make a adventure book

Watch adventure movies

Bob for apples

Jump on the trampoline (not everyone can do this if they don't have a trampoline)

Swing high

Slide down a slide

Make a hat

Dress up

Drink soda pop

Sit at a pond

Play on the monkey bars

Hop on rocks

Jump in the leaves

Do a picnic

Eat a cake

Dress up as a soldier

Blow out a candle

Study fish

Study bats

Study squirrels

Bake cupcakes

Make a list of fun things to do!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

In Loving Memory

It was a very sad weekend at our house, as we all had to say goodbye to a very dear friend of ours. The coffee table that has been so much a part of our family has been cracked beyond using it. It may sound very funny; however it's been hard for us. We've been surrounding that table for so many years; it's difficult to imagine how we're going to live our lives without it.

coffee cups on coffee table
It's been with us through many holiday celebrations, birthday parties, family movie nights, game nights, dinners, work, and then just relaxation.

I've seen many feet propped up on this table...

It's held many flower vases from my husband...

beautiful single red rose in vase
It's been used at all our parties...

swords and shields in candlelight

It's been colored on by all my children...

It's been worked on by my husband for hours and hours...

We've prayed many many prayers around this table, including our prayer journals each morning...

I've shared many meals night after night here... And one of our favorites of all, I can't even count how many pizzas we've shared as a family during our Friday movie nights...

My family has had multiple gatherings around the table...

It's held all my children's birthday gifts each year as they grow older and older...

I've shared many intimate birthday parties around this table...

We've feasted on chocolate several times...

This table has been the center of a romantic evening many times...

And we've played numerous amounts of games at this table...

The best of charades for Kids
My list could go on and on. I don't have pictures of everything that has gone on around this coffee table. It's been a very important part of our lives, and it's sad for me to see that it's gone. It leaves a big hole in my living room that I soon hope to fill again.

The thing I keep telling myself is that it's just an object. It's something that can be replaced. It's hard to look at it that way, but it's true. There is probably hundreds of my table that were sold to people all across the state. It seemed special to me because of all the happenings around it, and the people that were there to make it happen.

The table started out flawless, and slowly got some nicks and dings, some water spots on top, and then eventually a small crack came in the glass top. We still used the table even with the crack, but in the end the crack grew large enough that we couldn't ignore it anymore. We had to get rid of it, or one of my children might have been hurt when the glass top would have shattered.

How often do we have relationships with other people that are like my table? They start out flawless and beautiful in the beginning. We only see the good in them, and we haven't yet been exposed to their weaknesses. Over time, nothing can remain perfect, and undamaged. Our relationships can start to develop water spots, or nicks, or even a small crack in the surface. Once that crack appears, it's very hard to ignore it. It's like an ugly blemish just staring you right back in the face.

How often have you had some small crack in your relationship that you ignored and let it grow until it was so ugly you could no longer stand the sight of them? Everything they did caused you pain, or every time you saw them you were reminded of that blemish.

For me, it's so easy to focus on missing my table because it's up close and personal. It's in my home, and I see the empty place every day. But what about our friends that we've allowed to crack and break like that table, do we still miss them? Are we afraid they're going to shatter so we've written them off, never to speak of them or to them again?

The glass top for my table was never really attached to the wood frame. It could be replaced and my family would be able to start using the table again. However, it's too costly for us. We would rather just buy a new coffee table. Isn't it sad that sometimes we treat our friendships with other people just like that? We would much rather just get a new friend than work to fix the problems or the crack in our old friendship.

glass with crack in it
No crack can be too big for God to fix. Don't allow your small blemishes in your friendships to grow any larger than they already are. You don't want to get to the place where you must face the decision of whether or not it's worth it to keep your friendship.

I know I have relationships that aren't perfect and beautiful anymore, but I want to hold on to them, and talk about what's going on before I decide to just replace them. I want God to restore them back to the beauty that once was there before.

"As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. " Proverbs 27:17

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Veggie Pizza

I recently got in my possession the recipe for this wonderful vegetable pizza. I tried it at a baby shower a few months back, and I couldn't stop thinking about it. I got the recipe from my friend last week, and I am so thankful to her for it! It's so delicious!

We made it tonight for our dinner, and everyone loved it. My pickier eaters in the family got rid of a few of the vegetables, but overall it was a bit hit. It's also so easy to make; within 20 minutes we were sitting down at the dinner table eating. The pizza makes a great snack too!

veggie pizza recipe with vegetables on it You roll out 2 packages of crescent rolls on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.

While that's cooking, mix together 2 packages of cream cheese, 2/3 cup of mayonnaise, 1 tsp. dill weed, 1/4 tsp. onion powder, and 1/4 tsp. garlic powder.

After the crust has cooled you spread your cream cheese mixture on to it, and then top with veggies. I cut up some cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, and black olives. Sprinkle with seasoning salt, and it's ready to eat.

veggie pizza recipe
Taste and see how good it is!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

You Are Special

One of my favorite children's books is "You are Special," by Max Lucado. It's the story of Punchinello trying to fit in with everyone around him, not realizing where his true value comes from. If you haven't read it with your children, you should! Or even if you don't have children, pick it up and read it for yourself. The best part of the story is when Punchinello finally gets it. Eli the woodcarver tells him, "You are special because I made you. And I don't make mistakes." When it finally sunk into his heart the dots fell to the ground around him because he no longer needed them to be like everyone else. He was an individual and loved by the man who created him.

I believe that we need to be constantly reminded of that love that God has for us; that no matter what we've done, or do, nothing can change His love for us. God made us, and He made us exactly the way we are supposed to be.

snicker doodle cookies for a friend
Sometimes we need to be God's hands reaching out. I love to remind my friends just how special they are. We all need to know that we're loved and that someone tangible that we can see cares about us.

Yesterday was a day off of school for my children, with beautiful warm sunny weather outside. I gave them a couple options of what we could do for the day, and they each choose the same thing. They wanted to do something special for their friends. They didn't choose a picnic at the park, or a hike in the woods, or anything outdoors to enjoy the weather. We stayed inside and worked on a project that we would later deliver to all our friends.

We started out working on a card to tell each of our friends just how much they mean to us. I know my kids would have loved to do this for many of their friends, but since we would later be delivering the gifts, I only allowed one friend per kid. It wasn't a hard decision for any of them either. They immediately knew who that special someone was.

After we had finished making our cards, we spent a long time in the kitchen preparing our cookies. We couldn't come to an agreement on which kind of cookie to make, so we made our favorites, snickerdoodle and chocolate chip.

Snickerdoodles are my favorite right now! When Titus and I were first married, each week I would make him a batch of cookies. I kept our cookie jar full all of the time, something he mentioned he would really enjoy. It's only been recently that I've been trying to continue his request.

snicker doodle cookie dough balls They taste so good hot out of the oven!

snicker doodle cookies hot and fresh in ovenIt wasn't until later in the afternoon that we finally put our entire gift together. We delivered all the cookies, and had fun handing them out to all our friends. Except for Gabe's friend, everyone was at home and even outside in their front yard as if they were waiting for us to come. It was an extraordinary day! It makes you feel so good inside to do something special for your friend, who you love and care about.

You are Special cookie gifts
If you don't know it, You are Special! I hope you fully grasp that today!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Kids DO the Darndest Things

This morning my daughter wanted coffee cake for breakfast. For some reason when it’s a Saturday, or there is no school for the day, my kids always want something special cooked for them. I told Ariel I didn’t feel up to making it, but she was more than welcome to do it on her own. I went and took my shower, and came out to a scrumptious coffee cake sitting on the table. She made the entire thing herself! As I was cleaning up the dishes after breakfast, I had to chuckle at her choice of measuring cup. It never would have occurred to me to use a medicine cup to measure out teaspoons. That was very clever thinking on her part!

medicine cup measuring cup

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Goodbye, Facebook

God has been busy with me the past few months. Or maybe, I've finally been busy listening to Him. I knew I wanted to make some changes in my life; I just didn't have a plan yet, or a bigger picture of what it needed to be.

I have gotten so focused on things that are not really important. When I come to the end of my day, and see what I've accomplished, I've found the things I did do, are not the priorities I want for my life. And the scarier thing that I've figured out, I'm not really living. I think I'm just trying to survive day to day. That has to change right now!

For the past month, our pastor has been speaking a series of messages entitled, BE.

What are we being?

People who experience the greatest levels of personal satisfaction in their lives... have the strongest sense of their own personal identity.

Can you honestly say, "I know who I am?"

God made you to be someone.

"Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you." Jeremiah 1:5 (The Message)

3 Choices we make shape who we are:
1)What I choose to believe
2)Where I choose to belong
3)What I choose to become

What are you reaching for?

"Don't get me wrong, I haven't arrived. But I can tell you that Christ has arrived in me. So I'm going to keep leaning forward and keep reaching for the prize. I'm not there yet, but I've leaving the past behind and I'm focusing on what God has ahead for me. I am going to keep my eyes focused on the prize of becoming just like Jesus." Philippians 3:12-14

1) Reaching is different than wishing or dreaming. Reaching is an active verb.
2) Your Reaching will define you.
Reach for the one thing that will pull you forward.
"A wise monkey swings from branch to branch." -Sometimes you have to be willing to let go of one branch before you can swing to the next.
3) Reaching requires a plan!

Smart Reaching
- Specific (What does it take... to get what I am reaching for?)
M- Measurable (Are you meeting it?) 2-5 goals are all you can handle at one time.
A- Attainable (Is this realistic?)
R- Record it (Do I have the courage to write it down?)
T- Timely (Confine your plan to weeks, not days or months)

This was a lot of good information, and it has had me thinking for weeks now. Two questions have been running over and over through my head, "Do I really know who I am?", and "What am I reaching for?"

I don't believe I have a good answer for either question yet. I'm going to be spending some serious time going over that, praying and thinking. What I do know right now, my priorities need adjustment. It's one thing to know in your head what you want them to be, it's another thing to have your life actively doing it.

In the past few months, I have spent WAYYYY too much time on the computer. When the weather starts to get cold outside, I tend to hibernate. It's okay to an extent, but I've taken it too far. I only have two more years with my youngest son before he starts kindergarten, and I don't want to waste anymore of it. I realized last week that I was just surviving the winter, waiting for summer vacation to arrive so I could spend all my time with my children.

What about today? This morning?

I want to have goals, and things to be reaching for.

I don't want to get to the end of the day and feel like all I did was waste my time. I have nothing to show for it, except for a clean house. That's all well and good, but not what I want my life to revolve around.

In order to do the things I want, I have to cut something out. There isn't room or time in a day for me to adequately take care of all my plans. My goal for right now is quality time with my son. He is my number one priority for how I should be spending my time during the day.

I love blogging! I have found it to be extremely helpful for myself. It makes me stop and focus. What do I want to be saying to people? I want it to have meaning. I don't want to fill my blog with useless information. I think its fun to have some posts about nothing. But I have decided that each week, I want to have one post that is God directed. I'm going to pray about it, and write whatever He puts on my heart. I've been trying to do this for awhile now, and I think I've kept at it pretty well.

The biggest thing that God has been showing me over the past couple months is about Facebook. Why do I feel that I need it so much? What does it actually do for me? I think its fun to read what my friends are up to. My main thing that I love about it is knowing things. I would miss out on so many details of everyone's lives. Is that so bad?

God showed me that I really don't need Facebook. In fact, I would probably be better off without it for awhile. I need to focus on myself, and learn who I am, and who I want to be, rather than who I feel like I should be for other people.

goodbye, Facebook Hello, God clipart

So, until I feel like I've adequately found myself, I'm taking a break. It's not a break because it's harmful or bad for me. I just feel like I need to get my priorities straight, and follow more what I feel like God wants me to be doing. I need to get rid of the distractions in my life, and things that keep me from focusing. For me, Facebook is a huge distraction. I can get so caught up with everyone else's life, that I forget I need to be living my own.

Since I will no longer be able to post a link of my blog to Facebook, I've added a "Like" button for each post that anyone can share. And for people who only checked my blog through the links I posted on Facebook, please feel free to check my blog at anytime. I try to have a new post a few times a week.

My blog is something I feel very strongly that God has directed me to do. I pray that I will grow closer to Him as I continue to obey what He asks of me. I want to be who God has called me to BE.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Growing Wall

In our home, if you look really closely on our kitchen wall by the back door, you will see some markings penciled on it. I like to affectionately call it our "Growing Wall". Around the same time each year, I bring my children over to the wall and measure how tall they've grown.

When the kids are complaining about sore arms and legs, I usually smile real big and tell them, "Maybe you're growing today!" This always excites them and they run to our wall and ask to be measured again. We normally only mark it twice a year, but much more often we will stop to see their progress.

The wall has nothing fancy on it, just markings with names and dates, and hanging right over the top of it all, is our Family Tree. The wall is so ordinary in itself, but holds such immense meaning to me. I think it will be awhile before I'm able to paint over the markings, or I'll have to rewrite them on a fresh coat of paint someday.

acorn family tree craft
I really wanted to capture the wall in a picture that showed just how priceless it was, but alas it's in a odd corner of the room, and impossible for me to photograph. It's so much fun to gaze upon it and see how my children are so different than each other. I love to compare their sizes with their ages and see who's going to grow to be the biggest. It's fun to picture my family off in the distant future.

This is the best diagram I could come up with to show the similarities and differences in my kids heights.
I have always been fascinated by the theory of doubling the height at two years of age, and it will predict your child's adult height. It's not an exact measurement; you would need to give leeway of two inches up or down. When I look at my own kids, I can see that it might work out.

Gabriel's height at two was 36inches, so that would predict him to be exactly 6 foot. I think it's very possible. I know if you just take Titus and me into the equation it might not seem so, but when you factor in relatives, it's very likely that he will grow to be that tall. I really look forward to the day when he passes me in height.

Ariel's height at two was 33inches, so that would predict her to be 5'5." Titus and I are both 5'6", so that also seems very possible.

Zech, at age two was 32inches, giving him a adult height of 5'4." He has always measured on the smaller side his entire life, even in utero. They wanted to induce me very early in my pregnancy with him because of small measurements. After looking a second time at his measurements, they found that he has short legs. He gets this from his father. For Zech, I like to cling to the hope that we will be adding two more inches on, giving him a adult height of 5'6", just like his daddy. I would be very happy to see this happen.

No matter what size my children are, I will love them all the same. "Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:39. This is said so perfectly for a mother's love too. I don't believe there is anything my child could ever do to make me stop loving them. God put us together for a reason, and I am so blessed to share my days with them.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Free from Sin and Guilt

Movies. I love them! If I'm ever feeling down and depressed, or things just aren't going my way, I head to the store and buy a new movie. I know it doesn't fix my problems, but sometimes it sure does help me forget about them. The movie could come from the $5 bin at Wal-Mart (I literally have spent hours browsing that bin), or I could pick out a previously viewed movie from Hastings. Those are my two favorite stops to get the good stuff. I mean the good stuff where I can indulge myself and I don't have to pay a lot for it.

With my shopping always comes the dilemma of, what can I actually buy out there? It seems like the movies are getting fewer and fewer to choose from. Number one, because I'm buying all of them, and number two, clean movies are hard to come by.

It seems like you can always find something IF you are willing to put up with a little sexual content. Everyone has a line that they draw in the sand, and that is where my line's been drawn. I will NOT subject myself or anyone in my family to impurity.

I looked up the definition of purity and found this to be a perfect explanation. "Freedom from sin or guilt; innocence." That is exactly what I want for my family. I want to watch a movie without feeling guilt. I want to keep my own innocence, and the innocence of my children. The only way to do that is to set a good example.

I have had lots of personal conversations with God about this, and He has spoken very clearly to me on the subject. I cannot watch a movie if it's rating comes from having sexual content in it. I can barely watch an onscreen kiss without my cheeks starting to turn red. I know where kisses lead. I don't want to go there. I made a commitment to my husband and to God. And I will honor it to the best of my ability.

Unfortunately, that means there are really good movies out there that I just can't watch. It kills me to see a good preview and then find out I can't see it. So many times there is nothing wrong with a movie except for 1 minute where something led somewhere I couldn't wouldn't go.

For me, one of my all time favorite websites is Pluggedin by Focus on the Family. I have it as a favorite link on my blog. I go there over and over again. If you aren't familiar with it, you should become familiar. I love them! They have reviewed practically every movie. There are a few older ones that don't appear on their website, but all the ones that come out new in theater will be listed.

They very conveniently have each movie broken into several categories. The first part will explain the basic storyline. Sometimes there will be a spoiler warning, and you don't have to continue reading if you're planning on seeing the movie. These are the sections: Positive Elements, Spiritual Content, Sexual Content, Violent Content, Crude or Profane Language, Drug and Alcohol Content, Other Negative Elements, and then the Conclusion.
I usually just skip straight to the Sexual Content part because that's what is most offensive to me. They do such a detailed review that there are never any surprises for you. They will go so far to tell you who is showing cleavage, to who wears a bathing suit or short skirts. You don't have to be shocked when you're in the theater, thinking, "I can't believe I'm watching this!"For a long time, we just didn't get to watch very many movies at all. I was very saddened by this, and spent lots of time in prayer pouring my heart out to God. It just didn't seem fair. I felt like I was missing out on so much sometimes for just 30 seconds. Couldn't I just fast-forward the movie? But always at the end of the conversation, my answer from God was the same. I want to be free from sin and guilt. I want my life to be pure. And that is a guideline that God has given me specifically. I know it is different for other people, and please don't feel like I'm saying you must be exactly like me. You just need to be willing to ask God what He wants for you, and from you. And as long as you're following God's advice, you can be free from sin and guilt.
In was in one of those times that I was crying out because of the unfairness when I had a revelation. I edit movies all the time. I put our home videos together; I've done a few as gifts, or for church projects. Maybe I could just edit those seconds out?

Over the last year, I found a solution to my problem. That is what I wanted to share with you today. I've had requests to edit certain movies, and I've loaned my edited movies out. So for all my friends who have asked about this, or have been interested, I thought I would share a short tutorial on how to edit your own movies. And the key word there is your own movies. It's illegal to copy movies and sell them. Everyone knows that. I will actually buy a movie with the intent to edit it, and I replace their DVD with my own edited DVD. Special features have never interested me much, so I don't usually even mess with them at all. I just end up with the main thing, the movie. Subtitles will come with it, but you'll have to reset them while you're watching it after each edited spot. Small price to pay, I think.

My favorite editing software that I use for this purpose is a free program you can download online. It's called DVD Shrink. I have version 3.2

I always have my DVD in the drive ready before I even open the program. Once your program is open; you click on Open Disc one of the icons near the top. After you've made sure to select your movie in the correct drive, it will take a few minutes to open the disc.

dvd shrink for editing movies

You're then going to click on Re-Author also located in the top bar.
dvd shrink for editing movies

Now you're going to look on the right side, under MAIN MOVIE, you should see something called Title 1. You will drag that over to the left side of the page, in the blank white area.
dvd shrink for editing moviesThis is the part where PluggedIn comes in handy for me. They put very good details into their description that I don't usually have trouble finding the bad parts to get rid of. I usually know how many scenes or enough about the scene to know kinda where to look.

You're going to now click on the blue arrows that point left and right, that read Set Start/End Frames

After you've clicked on it, this will open up.

I'm editing The Firm with you, a movie I've been meaning to get around to for awhile now. Sometimes older movies have inaccurate reasons for their ratings. This is a perfect example. It said it was rated for Language and Violence; however it had a very inappropriate scene in it that I'm going to get rid of.

The really nice thing about this program, it doesn't allow you to see things very closely. That comes in handy when you're working on a project like this. The box you will be looking at to edit is very small, literally the size you see before you now. It also lets you go frame by frame, that's even better than seconds. You can very accurately get rid of what parts you want to, and you won't have to worry that you left any of it in there.

You're going to start piecing your movie together now. You will leave your Start Frame alone this time, unless your scene is during the opening titles. Now you'll need to know where the scene is you want to leave out of the movie. We're not really deleting it; we're just not going to select it as the part we'll keep.

So for my movie, I have kept the start frame at the beginning, and I'm going to put my stop frame at 40m 20s 02 frames. You can play with it a little to see where you want to cut off. I personally just like to get rid of the whole scene. I've never felt like I've missed out on anything by doing this. This program does not have sound, so that can be tricky if you're not deleting the entire scene, another good reason for me to just get rid of it all. After you've figured out your first chunk of the movie, click OK.

Just like we did earlier, under the right side, MAIN MOVIE, you're going to drag Title 1 back over to the left side again. You should then have two of Title 1. You're going to click on the blue arrows that point left and right, Set Start/End Frames. This time your start frame will be different. You're going to need to start where you left off earlier in the movie, but not including the scene you want to leave out. I will be starting at 45m 36s 25 frames. I got rid of almost 5 minutes. I like to be a little more on the cautious side, so I probably left out more than I had to. I leave the end frame exactly where it is because there was only one scene I needed to leave out.

If there were more scenes you wanted to leave out, you would just continue to piece your movie together doing the same thing we just did. For each scene you want to leave out, you're going to need to drag Title 1 over again. You can have as many Title 1's as you need, they will all piece together to form a continuous movie.

After you have a full movie, from start to finish, you're going to click on Backup! located near the top of the screen again. It will have you save your file as an ISO, and once that is finished encoding you can burn it to a DVD. The encoding process can take up to an hour. It does go much faster if you don't preview it while it encodes. This movie may read that it will take 46 minutes, but without previewing it finished in 26 minutes.

It may seem complicated, but it's really not; it normally only takes a couple minutes for me to go through the process. This is certainly not something I would do for every movie. Most of the time, we will just opt to not watch it. However, there have been a few occasions where a movie was really talked up for us, or it was a gift, and we wanted to be able to see it for ourselves. This has been a really wonderful solution to our problem. It's so nice to have the option to watch a movie without feeling the weight of guilt.


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