Thursday, October 25, 2012

Larger than Life

It's the time of year for parent-teacher conferences. I have a love-hate relationship with these. While I love to hear the good things about my children, I'm not especially fond of hearing the negative. I know it's good to know everything that goes on, but I often worry my kids will be misunderstood. Especially, Gabriel.

He has a wonderfully creative young mind, however; that creative mind likes to wander a lot when it's time to focus on a task at hand.

The first conference of the year is always the hardest for me. I find out if my child got an understanding teacher, or I find out if the teacher has expectations that are impossible for my son to meet.

I am very happy to report once again my child got the teacher who gets him. She expects a lot out of him because she knows he can do it. But she won't be putting him in a box exactly the same shape as every other kid in class.


With a kid who is larger than life, this is an answer to prayer. God has blessed my family abundantly even down to the teachers who are hand-picked by Him. I love it!


The teacher also wants to have Gabe tested for gifted. She figured with a kid that is so creative the extra enriching activities would be good for him. I would have to agree!

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Venomous Mouth

Do you ever get tired of failing at the same thing over and over again? It seems like I do this again and again. I find myself wishing I was more original. I desire to walk a different path.

I have been blatantly reminded that I have a mouth that likes to speak evil. My mouth has been accustomed to following certain pathways, and it's very hard to train it to go a different way.

I should be happy that I'm making progress, but to me progress is often measured by perfection, unfortunately. Am I being perfect today? Well, then I must be making progress. Did I fail today? Oh, I guess that means I'm not moving forward.

Both are lies. My pastor likes to quote, "Progress not perfection" on a consistent basis. I need to be reminded daily of this. I will never be perfect. I will continue to fail. That doesn't mean I'm not moving forward to my goal. Even if it means I'm moving one inch at a time that is progress.

I was having a rather heated discussion with my husband. We weren't arguing; we were talking about something dealing with a friend of mine. Sometimes I get so passionate about things; I blow off steam with my husband. My mouth was a like a volcano erupting. The words were spewing all over the place and they had the potential to burn. I was worked up, and I didn't try to restrain my thoughts or feelings.

I never thought about the fact that my children were playing in the room joining us. I was focused on the feelings at hand. Gabriel interrupted me, "I'm really confused. Isn't she supposed to be your friend? Because you are talking bad about her, and I don't think you should do that when you are friends."

It felt like he threw a glass of freezing cold water at my face. My fire was out. I wanted to explain to him that what I was doing was okay; that I was just sharing my feelings with my husband. I couldn't get an excuse to come out of my mouth. Everything I wanted to defend fell flat. I was speechless. What could I say to him to make him understand?

The spoken word is powerful. Words have the potential to build you up, or tear you down.

"Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose." Proverbs 18:21 (The Message)

Sometimes our words can be dripping with venom.

"Venom is the general term referring to any variety of toxins[1] used by certain types of animals that inject it into their victims by the means of a bite, sting or other sharp body feature.[2] Unlike poison, which is ingested or inhaled, venom is usually delivered directly into the lymphatic system, where it acts faster."

In the dictionary it also defines it as "feeling a need to see others suffer".

This venom we deliver cannot be taken back and it is quick to kill. In most cases with our words death does not always come, but deep pain instead.

I want my words to be dripping with sweetness, full of life that will bear fruit. I want them to grow into something worthwhile and life-changing.

"The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!

My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?

Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor."
James 3:8-18 (The Message)

God, please forgive me. I am resolved to treat everyone with dignity and honor in my speech whether I'm alone, or with another individual. I want my words to be sweetened with life, not pain and death. Show me how to live wisely and humbly. Thank you for pursuing me with unfailing love all the days of my life.

psalm 19:14 may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing

Friday, October 19, 2012

Money God's Way

For as long as I can remember, my pastor, at every offering will say, "Give as God tells you to." This applies to all of us, even the children.

My kids have been earning money for a couple years now, doing their work around the house. They have things they are required to do because they are a part of our family; it's just their normal duty. But then they each have one job that can earn them money. This is a fantastic way to teach in so many ways!

Each child has a chart on the fridge for the month. I laminated it so that each month we only have to erase the dates and rewrite in the new with a dry erase marker.

For my older two, their job will pay $1, and they have the opportunity to do it once a week. My youngest son's job is done almost daily, and will earn him 10 cents. When they do their job, they write a "C" for chore on the chart. They also must get a parent to initial the chart saying the job was well done.

Sometimes I offer "mystery dollars" which is marked with an "M" on the date it's given. I was finding that every time I asked for help, it was always the other persons turn. No one wanted to offer their assistance to me. Now I randomly try to choose one job that will be worth a dollar. They won't find out it was worth money until after the job is completed. This means they never know if a job mom is asking about could earn them a potential extra dollar. I love how well this works! I rarely have trouble getting work done around the house.

chore chart for kids

I also use the chart to keep track of groundings. I am always forgetting who I told they were grounded, and for how long. Not an issue anymore. When they are grounded the kids have to add a "G" to the chart. It makes it so much easier on me, and I'm able to be a more consistent parent.

Every first and third Saturday of the month is payday. This has taught them the value of a dollar, when it's their hard earned money. It's even been a lesson on credit. Many times they will try to convince me that they have money coming to them, and can they pay later? I always say, "Absolutely Not." I want them to learn from a very young age that credit is not something to be played around with. They must learn patience.

Since we treat this "chore" like a job, there are days the kids have been fired with no pay. They cannot complain and whine. If we were their boss in the "real world" we wouldn't tolerate that kind of attitude for long. They also must do a good job at it. I have made them go back and fix their mistakes many times.

We have used this chart for year now. It has been very successful. The kids love having the freedom to choose whatever they want to buy with their money. Most of the time they are a little bit more choosy about how they spend it. They realize the value of their toys now. That's like 3 or 4 months of work! Of course this depends on what they set their heart on purchasing.

Another big part of this "job" my kids have is our responsibility in teaching them about giving and saving. We always apply the rule, "You give some, you save some, and THEN you spend some." I always tell them they need to ask God how much money He wants them to give... because it's His money anyways.

I desire for my children to be generous. I want them to learn the value of giving to others, especially when it costs you something. It's easy to give away mom and dad's money. It's not as easy to give away what you worked hard for.

On Wednesday night, I was so touched by my son's giving. I happened to glimpse the envelope sitting next to me. I encourage the kids to use a giving envelope so they can see how much they gave at the end of the year. It's something to look forward to. If it had been me putting my 15 cents in the offering, I probably would have just written my name on the envelope, not thinking to divide it up.

Actually I wouldn't have even thought to give it. In my pride I would have thought the pennies were worthless, and I would have held onto them.

But to Gabe, this money was all he had. He wasn't giving from his surplus. He was giving his best to God. I thought it was so sweet how he divided up his 15 cents. I teared up when I saw that he wanted Kidsweek to get 10 cents of it. For where your heart is... there your money will follow.

"Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.” Mark 12:44

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Disappointment

Life is full of it. It is inevitable that we will be disappointed at some time or another. There is no guarantee in this life that everything will go perfectly. The only thing we are guaranteed is that God will walk beside us through the pain.

Earlier this week, my five year old son, Zechariah, had his very first crushing disappointment. In his young age, he hasn't taken too many risks. He's been well protected.

Last week I was watching one of his friends and took them both to Billy Vanilly for cupcakes where my sister works. They were having a coloring contest. Zech and his friend, Zana, were excited to enter the contest. Both of them colored so carefully and tried to stay in the lines.


This week, I got a text from my sister saying Zana won the contest for her age group. I thought Zech would be really excited in the same way that I was.

He was not excited.

He was crushed.


The tears wouldn't stop flowing. "I thought mine was nice."

He ran to the comfort of the bathroom to hide from me. When we are in the depths of despair, we often don't want to share our pain. It can be embarrassing to be that vulnerable to those around, no matter how much they love us.

I let him cry for a while before I joined him. The words coming from inside were enough to break my heart.

"I don't like Zana's picture. I just like my picture instead. I don't want to play that game anymore. I thought I won. I don't wanna do that coloring contest cause I hate that now."

When I finally went in, he was wedged in the corner between the door and the bathtub. He didn't want my comfort or my words of encouragement. He was sad, and a little angry.

His emotions were all over the place. He would abandon the idea of ever setting foot in that cupcake place again, and then the next line would be him promising to color his picture just like Zana did so he could win.

This was the first time he had been compared to another individual and he lost. It may have been something so small as a child's coloring contest, but I could tell he was questioning his worth. Was he good enough? Did he need to change and be like the other person to be chosen?

Rejection hurts. There is no way around it. You must go through it.

You don't know how much I wanted to hold him and tell him I would buy him a cupcake, the prize for the contest. To pretend with him that he had won. I could have easily smoothed things over, and convinced him that his picture was just as good, if not better.

But... would that have been beneficial? I could have rescued him. I could have been his savior from the pain. I chose not to. I chose to sit beside him and cry with him. I wanted God to be his Savior.

There is going to come a time where the "contest" is on a much bigger scale. A time will come when the outcome is huge, life changing. I want him to learn at a very young age that he is worthy and loved by God because of who he is, not because of what he's done.

"And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners." Romans 5:4-6

We will have adversity, suffering, rejection, and disappointments. But we have hope; we have a God who loves us enough to send his son to take our punishment. There is no person I love enough to sacrifice my child for. Does this take the pain out of our rejection? Not always.

It's about a choice. Will this make me bitter and angry? Or am I going to move on? I think the best thing we can do for ourselves is to ask God, "What now? What do you want me to learn? What do you want me to do? What are you speaking to me through this?" Remember that verse I mentioned, "This hope will not lead to disappointment." God is faithful. He might ask you to do something, or He might not. He can take our disappointments and turn them around for our benefit. God can make the undesirable beautiful.

Yesterday Zana was going to get her free cupcake. I asked Zech if he wanted to join her there and he could tell her she did a good job coloring. I gave him the chance, but respected his decision. He said, "No, I don't want to go there. I just want to be her friend."

I was proud of him. Sometimes we let bitterness creep in and ruin a friendship because of jealousy or rejection. Zech wasn't going to put himself in a place where he was reminded of his loss, but he was going to continuing being friends like always.

disappointment hurts when we lose a coloring contest
Zana's is the 3rd picture!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A to Z Treasure Hunts : Avocado

Written and Illustrated by Gabe. As always with Gabriel's stories, if you like what you read, please give him a click on the title. He is constantly requesting to hear how many times his stories have been read. He's making this a series of books, hence the name A to Z Treasure Hunts. This is the first book, letter A. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the alphabet treasure hunts!

If you've read any of Gabe's previous stories, you can see that he is greatly improving in his writing skills. This is his first book that he's written using a thesaurus. I am very proud of him. He is learning and improving with every story he writes. I believe if he continues to pursue it, he has the potential to achieve his dream of becoming a published author someday.

avacado

Chapter 1
To The Store

Lucy and Josh run to the store with their mom. They go to the vegetable and fruit section. Lucy and Josh say, "Mom, can we get strawberries?"


Their mom says, "No, but you can get avocados."

"Ew. Gross." said Lucy.

Then the mom demanded, "You are eating avocados for dinner and that's final."


Chapter 2
Into Our Dinner

"How's the avocados?" the mom asked sweetly.

"Great!" Lucy answered happily.

Josh took a bite and said, "Yummy!"

Then the dad asked, "Do you want me to cook another one?"

"Sure!" Lucy and Josh responded. Then they split an avocado.

Lucy took a bite and vanished. Then the dad said, "Where did Lucy go?"

Later Josh said, "Can I eat her avocado?"

"Go ahead," answered the dad.

Josh took a bite and vanished also. Josh fell down into the avocado's juice. He landed next to Lucy. They started swimming in the avocado juice so they wouldn't drown.


Chapter 3
The Avocado Pit

Soon after the fall they grew tired of swimming. Something happened that stopped them from quitting. Bits of avocado flesh started falling out of the sky. That meant their mom or dad picked up the avocado. The pressure from picking it up had made some of the flesh fall near them. They were about to be eaten by their own parents! So they swam and swam and swam until they pulled themselves out of the juice and onto the avocado pit.


Chapter 4
A Door in an Avocado

Lucy and Josh were walking around impatiently waiting for their parents to see them. They observed a door.


Chapter 5
King Vocado

Lucy and Josh opened the mysterious door that led to the inside of the pit. Five million pounds of coins were in the room of the unexpected door. Suddenly a metal magnet shot towards them and grabbed them both. King Vocado was standing there holding the chain that connected to the metal magnet.


Chapter 6
Happy Ending


Lucy thought she was stuck, but she wasn't. Only Josh was magnetized.

Above the avocado was their parents speaking to each other. The dad said sternly, "What is wrong with this avocado?"

"When the kids took a bite they disappeared," said the mom frightfully. The dad stabbed a knife into the pit of the avocado.

Down in the pit of the avocado, Lucy saw something shiny. She jumped at it, and pushed herself off the other side towards King Vocado. He fell over. He didn't have any arms, so he couldn't get up. Lucy got the metal magnet. Josh was set free from the metal magnet.
They climbed up the knife while Lucy was still holding onto the metal magnet. The magnet grabbed the treasure and they accidentally took the treasure with them. Lucy and Josh were out of the avocado. Suddenly, coins started flying out of the avocado. The mom opened her mouth in surprise and said, "We are millionaires." They never ate an avocado again.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Spaghetti

As you probably know, every morning before we leave for school we pray together. The kids each have a prayer journal they first write the prayer in. After everyone's finished writing, about 10 minutes later, we take turns reading our prayers.

Zech's journal is full of prayers in the nontraditional sense. He draws a picture while everyone else is writing. He does still say a prayer with us. I have been enjoying hearing his communication with God so much. It used to be that he would copy the older kids. Their prayer would be his prayer.

Last year all of Ariel and Gabe's prayers would end with, "Help everyone to have an A-W-E-S-O-M-E day." Zech would try to copy saying, "Help everyone to have A-S-C-M-O day." Every day the letters would change.

This year, Zech has started his own relationship with Jesus. He doesn't borrow words from others. The thoughts come straight from his heart. This morning I had to smile at the prayer he prayed.


"Lord, help it not be a Monday today. Because I HATE Mondays cause it's 'sghetti' day. So please help it not be a Monday. And please do it forever. Amen."

There was a look of smug satisfaction that crossed over his face as he uttered the word amen. It was as if he knew something I didn't. He believed with all his heart his prayer would be answered.

I'm sure there are a lot of people out there that would like to share Zech's prayer, although I'm sure for a different sentiment. Zech does not share me and my husband's passion for spaghetti. We love it, and love Monday's because of it!

"This is the day the Lord has made. Let’s rejoice and be glad today!" Psalm 118:24

Friday, October 12, 2012

My Sister

In the past year, we have started a new family tradition. It was inspired by another family that my sister is close with. Sometime during the birthday we go around taking turns saying what we like about the person or what we're thankful for. It's always nice to find new ways to celebrate the life of those you love.

Last month was my sister, Stefanie's birthday, and I wanted to share my thoughts here. She is an amazing woman, that I am privileged to call sister.


Stefanie

S
hows spiritual maturity way beyond her years.

Trusts God no matter how big, how small, or hard it is.

Earnestness to be a blessing to those around her.

Friend first, sister second.

An example others desire to follow.

Not afraid to tell you when you're wrong.

Integrity lived out to the fullest.

Esteemed and admired by me.

The current picture is over a year old! I guess it's time for a more recent photo of the two of us! We are 8 years apart in age. You can't tell anymore, can you?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

What Women Fear

I'm back with more questions from the book, What Women Fear by Angie Smith. A couple months ago, I posted questions from the first five chapters of the book. I had been doing this as a book study with my friends, and I wanted to share our discussion questions. These are not be used alone. They are for diving into the book a little deeper, and striking more intimate authentic conversation with your friends.

You really need to purchase the book for yourself! These questions are only to be used a supplement, not to take the place of reading the book.

What Women Fear by Angie Smith questions for discussion


Chapter 6 - The First Stone

"As His hand moves, we all have the same question burning in our minds. Lord Jesus, what do You say to a sinner like me?" (Smith 106).
What do you think Jesus wrote on the ground for all to see? What do you think Jesus might write on the ground for you?

When was the first time you knew God was real? When did you invite Him into your life?

"Sometimes the hard part isn't setting it down and surrendering it, but rather resisting the urge to go back to it over and over again" (Smith 114).
Do you have peace about your past or are you reliving those sins again and again?

"Fill yourself with verses that speak to temptations you often face, and then commit them to memory... You don't have to be held captive, a prisoner of sin." (Smith 114).
Is there anything you want to be held accountable for?


Chapter 7 - Benefactors

"Suppose it were opening night of my great play and I was allowed to invite anyone I want to come and see me... I want to have people there whose judgment of me is important" (Smith 121).
Who have you placed in the front row of your audience? Who are you performing for?

"I've concluded that the basic barrier to relying on God for our sense of significance is that in a practical, every day, standing-on stage kind of way, He can seem like the One in the back of the auditorium taking notes on your performance but never clapping" (Smith 123).
Do you struggle with feeling significant to God? If yes, why do you think that is?

Are you being obedient to what God has called you to do?

"We sit at the table and we look at those around us with eyes of competition and jealousy. We wrongly believe that we are in a race with them for the affection of our Savior and the praise of our fellow man" (Smith 129).
Do you ever feel that you are in a race for God's affection?

"Jesus is clear in saying that we are not to be benefactors, lording over others, but rather servants who consider themselves nothing" (Smith 129).
Who are you trying to be, a benefactor or a servant? What evidence in your life backs that up?


Chapter 8 - Appointed

Have you ever been afraid to truly trust His plan for you without something else on which to fall back?

Do we have a right to be angry about tragedies and that which clearly seems to be an injustice?

"What if we deliberately made the Lord a part of our hours and not just our hour of need?" (Smith 140).
Is God part of every area of your life? Or are there places you don't let Him go? Do you live moment-by-moment with Him? Or is it crisis-to-crisis?

What is one new area you can invite God "in" for?

"God knew Jonah's heart, so He did something drastic, something epic, something that to the naked eye looks like a tragedy, and He used it for His glory.... Many times in my life I have seen an obstacle as the enemy, but looking back now I see it was an appointed mercy" (Smith 143).
What obstacle have you faced lately that turned into an "appointed mercy"?


Chapter 9 - Beginning to Sink

Have you ever asked, "God, are you even real? Or... do you even care about me?

How have you experienced God personally for yourself? -in the last six months?

"If you have not seen Him the way others have, it may be because you are still in the boat, a mere observer to the miracles others have experienced" (Smith 160).
Are you still in the boat, a mere observer, or have you stepped out and saw His miracles?


Chapter 10 - The Scroll of Remembrance

Do you have someone in your life, father or not, who you can trust and "fear"? Someone you can admire and respect?

"I believe we should not only fear God in the sense that we revere Him, but also in the old "I am shaking in my boots in your presence, God" kind of way. I think we make a huge mistake by not being afraid enough of God" (Smith 169).
Do you have a fear of God? Or are you too comfortable in His presence?

The evidence of our fear is obedience - so how well do you obey Him?

Are you serving God in the midst of your fears? How have you been rewarded for it?

I highly recommend this book to you. It's a great investment! Questions for Chapters One Through Five

All quotes taken from: Smith, Angie. (2011). What Women Fear. Nashville, Tennessee: B & H Publishing Group

Friday, October 5, 2012

You're In Trouble!

My baby is now 5 years old! I can't believe it. In fact, I don't want to let myself believe it. I miss the little baby I once held. Zechariah is one of my greatest blessings from God. I cannot put into words how much this little boy means to me.

We had beautiful weather for Zech's party. It was a perfect day to celebrate! I wanted to keep things really simple, so there wasn't much planned for the party. Zechariah invited all his friends over to play his favorite board game, Trouble. The twist on it, I made it life-size. I thought he would have more fun if we played outside and used people as the pieces. It was so much fun! I honestly thought the kids were going to get bored and I was going to end up disappointed with how little we used the game. I was very wrong. We played the game for over an hour and made sure to "help" a team end the game for us. Otherwise the game would have gone on for much longer.

life size trouble game
Most of the preparation for the party was making the game board. It really was easy to make, however, very time consuming. The painting took me somewhere between 25-30 hours. It wasn't hard. It just took forever to paint because the fabric soaks up all the paint not allowing you to spread the paint much.

I started by shopping at Goodwill for some used white sheets. I love that store! I bought 4 flat sheets of various sizes for $6 total. The whites were similar, but not exactly the same. I knew once it was painted, the color of white wouldn't matter. I sewed all four sheets together into a giant 12 foot by 12 foot square.

Once it was sewn, I took it outside to draw the game board. The board was too large to lay out flat in any room of my house. I used our 1986 version of the game to copy. It's what Zech is familiar with, and I wanted him to recognize it when we played. The large circle in the middle of the game, I used a hula hoop to trace. The smaller circles that the people pieces stand on were a plastic lid to a giant bowl of mine. The game is primarily circles and straight lines. This made it very easy to duplicate.

how to make life size trouble game
Once the game was drawn, and my lines were taped with painters tape, I brought the game down to my basement. I put a vinyl tablecloth underneath to protect my floor and took it one color at a time. For the paint, I used the small craft bottles of acrylic paint from Wal-Mart. The bottles were 50 cents apiece, and I needed 3 for each color. The game was a total of $12. Not bad! The only other thing I needed to buy was the giant inflatable dice. I found some online for $10. It was a very inexpensive birthday party. I had found some of these life-size games online for purchase but they started at $90!!! I knew I wanted to make it myself. It was much cheaper, but the labor was very extensive.

how to make life size trouble game
To secure the game board down to the ground, I applied large eyelets around the edge of the game board. I then purchased golf tees to use as stakes. It worked really well! I didn't want the game board to be getting twisted beneath our feet and this solved the problem.

life size trouble game
On our invitations we sent out, we assigned each person to a team color. I had picked out two kids for each team, and then split up the adults that were also invited to the party. Each person was supposed to wear a shirt of their team color. It made it really easy to tell apart the players on the board at any given time. If I use the game again, I might buy different color bandanas for the players to wear.

backyard trouble game
I think the most fun part of the game for the kids was throwing the giant die. They would send it flying high in the sky, and then everyone kept continually bumping it with their heads and body. Towards the end we had to restrict the kids from touching it unless it was their team rolling the die. It made it unfair for kids to bump the die when the rolling team had originally gotten a high number.

life size trouble


The green team won! They were also the first team to get anyone home. For the winning team I found some really inexpensive Popper Magic games, AKA Trouble. They were at Wal-Mart for only $2.50. The rest of the kids at the party were given a sack of candy and a couple card games.

My mom did an amazing job on Zech's cake. It looks just like the board game! She even made a flag out of the birthday invitation. It says, "Zech's been caught turning 5. He's in TROUBLE!"

trouble game birthday cake
I was so happy that the trick candles worked this time. When we used them on Zech's real birthday not a single one would relight. This time they did it several times and got a good laugh from Zech.

For fun, we made sure to pass out the cake color that matched their team color. It was fun to see everyone match their food so well. We also had the table full of small games for the kids to play while they ate. There was Old Maid, Pick-Up-Sticks, Blink, and Rock-Paper-Scissors.

PRESENT TIME! One of the first gifts Zech opened was Cars themed Trouble. This was so appropriate because Zech still loves everything Cars. Last year he had a Cars birthday party. The game came from my parents, which interestingly enough, was purchased long before we decided to have a Trouble birthday party. Zech just loves the game that much! He will actually play Trouble all by himself, taking turns for each player. It's so cute to watch. Normally he makes the red color win.


Zech always gets the coolest presents for his birthdays. I love that his friends take the time to find out what he wants. This past week it's been like Christmas at our house. The toys are exploding all over the place. Zech received mostly games and puzzles for his birthday so it's been one fun week. We've played together as a family, and Zech and I have had a lot of one-on-one games. It was a perfect assortment of gifts. Every single puzzle/game/toy has been played with at least twice already! That's saying a lot because he received several gifts!

It was such a fun time spent with friends and family. I don't think there's a thing I would have changed about the entire party. It was the perfect afternoon. I hope it makes a lasting memory for Zechariah. He's five years old now!!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Complacency

When God speaks... from the words of my son, Zechariah, "He is telling me good thingys."

God tells my son "to listen to mommy, and obey." He also told Zech, "to be a hero to fight the bad guys."

My pastor has been talking to us for the last month about CELEBRATING.

We need to FIND, FOCUS on, and BE EXCITED about the good things God has given us. It's that simple.

Or is it?

It's been a really rough six weeks. Sickness has been kicking my butt! I have been suffering from allergies nonstop. Without getting into the nitty gritty of it, life has been difficult. I don't want to celebrate. I want to cry and be miserable. I also don't want to get off the couch. I'm cranky! It's too hard, and too much work. I long for the day when I can breathe clearly and go outside without paying for it later.

Never in my life did I think I would say this. Cold weather is coming and I'm celebrating it.

When I'm feeling bad, and my energy is gone, it is not a simple decision to celebrate. It's work! It takes effort and concentration. It takes denying myself certain thought patterns.

How well do you do with celebrating? Is it natural? Or is it a conscious decision? If you are conscious of something, you think about it a lot, especially because you think it is important. A conscious decision or action is made or done deliberately by giving your full attention to it.

Sometimes it's much easier to just coast. No major ups or downs, everything is FINE. To move easily along but without using power. A complacent attitude sets in. An uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one's achievements.

God did NOT call us to live complacent lives. We need to be critical of ourselves. How else will we desire to change and become more?

Right now I'm reading This Present Darkness by Frank E. Peretti. If you've never picked up the book, I would highly recommend it. The plot is supernatural awareness. You will get a glimpse or an idea of what is going on in the world around us. There are angels and demons at war.

this present darkness by frank e. peretti

As I've been reading through the book, I have been convicted. One of the characters at the beginning of the story has the spirit of complacency about him at all times. He contemplates doing something, but then this smug satisfaction kicks in. It doesn't matter what he's doing. Everything's fine. At least that's what they want him to think.

Everything is NOT fine. We are in a battle constantly. Until you take your last breath, the enemy will not give up. He will never struggle with a complacent or lazy attitude. He is always on the prowl looking for someone to devour. We have got to be alert!

Prayer is powerful! Do not be deceived into thinking it doesn't matter and that it won't change things. It is one of the greatest tools you have against the enemy. It puts you into direct communication with the CREATOR of the universe. What an incredible audience we have at any given moment.

Lately, I've had the feeling that what I write here on my blog doesn't really matter. It's helpful for me to journal about what God is speaking into my life, but is it really changing anyone else? Does it matter?

I have used this blog as a tool to document my life, my spiritual journey. Often times I get discouraged at the numbers I see. I could take a week away from blogging, and my pageviews stay the same. I have a few posts that have really taken off. That is where all my traffic comes and goes to. It's all about crafts and free tutorials.

I think that's great, but it's not what I'm about. My heart is with God. I want to be used by Him to reach the world. So when I see the parts of my blog, that matter the most to me, ignored and untouched it discourages me.

I wouldn't say that I have given up. But I have definitely been taken by a spirit of complacency. What I say doesn't really matter. Why put my heart out there? You know what? It does matter to God! He sees my heart, and I'm going to continue to listen and obey Him.

I may not be a hero fighting "real" bad guys, but my words and my prayers can fight a real enemy. I will never stop fighting. I will never be satisfied. And I will do my best to FIND, FOCUS on, and CELEBRATE all the good things God has given me.

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