Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Thinking about the New Year...

Well, I'm sure this time of year most people start thinking about New Year's Resolutions and whatnot... and I'm one of them. God reminded me of this Scripture during my quiet time yesterday...

So be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don't act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. [Ephesians 5:15-17]

I have been living like a fool lately... especially as it relates to mothering my two little boys... acting thoughtlessly (that is, not living intentionally)... just living in the moment, doing whatever seems the most comfortable and meets the least resistance. Yuck! After not too long, such complacency feels pretty gross! But God has convicted me—it's time to turn around and make some changes.

Although I cringe at New Year's Resolutions—because they so often seem more like wishful thinking than deliberate choices—I did make a list of things I feel will help me be more intentional with my thoughts and my time, and are achievable....

* Pray more. Complain less. Be more joyful!
* Pray for husband.
* Pray for kids.
* Plan 1:1 face time with each son.
* Stay off email during boys' awake time.
* Limit boys' TV watching.
* Make a chore chart for Brandon.
* Read One Year Bible.

I like to write this kind of stuff in the front of a new journal—then I can reference it regularly to help me stay on track!

I've been struggling with fatigue off and on for awhile now, and sometimes I feel like there's no way I can be a "good mom"—but yesterday God reassured me that I can do it, with His help! What a faithful, loving God!

Friday, December 25, 2009

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree...

On Christmas Eve morning, Brandon helped me put up our Christmas tree. We had fun! I think he was a little perplexed, however, when he peered into a box of branches, wondering how we were going to get a big Christmas tree out of that!

Now, what I want to know is...

...what part of "Don't play with the Christmas tree" didn't he get? :)

And snow, it did!

My hard-working husband and son blazed their way through 7" of snow in the driveway... and that was yesterday's snow. Today we got about 3" more... and currently, it's drizzling out. Glad we don't have to drive anywhere!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Impending snow storm

Well, it seems inevitable now.... the National Weather Service is making the winter storm warning official, effective at 9:00 tonight. On they stated, "The winter storm expected for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day could rival the largest two day snowfall for the holiday of 11.3" set back in 1945."

While a big dumping of snow seems so festive—"just in time for the holidays!"—it will prevent my parents from being able to travel to our house for Christmas. This is fairly disappointing to me...we always spend Christmas Eve with my folks. It'll just seem weird to celebrate without them. :(

But the one thing that gives me peace is the realization of God's sovereignty. I keep thinking that if there is just one life He wants to save by preventing traveling, He would do it... or if there was just one person who would find Him because of the storm, He would do it. That's our great God!—so mighty and powerful that He controls the weather—and yet so personal that He cares for each individual person.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

First-hand baking tip

Something comes over me this time of year... as the snow starts falling... and we get closer to Christmas..........

I start baking. I don't normally do a lot of baking, but something deep within compels me.... and I start craving cookies and other sweet treats. Today I made fudge while my boys were napping. Then I decided to make chocolate chip cookies.

So, the recipe calls for 1 cup of softened butter [that's two sticks]. The operative word here is softened. I had put a fresh stick of butter on the butter dish this morning, so that one was already softened.... but since I hadn't planned ahead, I'd have to grab another stick of hard butter from the frig.... and how do you effectively soften butter without melting it???

Then my brilliant mind remembered, "Hey! Can't you substitute applesauce for butter?" So I Googled it—and sure enough, you can indeed substitute applesauce for up to 3/4 of the butter the recipe calls for! So I tried it...... and.... well......... suffice to say that chocolate chip cookies come out much firmer [that is, you can actually hold the cookie with your fingers without it wilting and falling into pieces all over the floor] when you just follow the recipe as it's written....

Happy day! :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cheap trick

I admit it. I shop at Target far more than Walmart. And I purchase a fair amount of Target-brand items... which are now under the brand up & up.

Well, I have a bone to pick. Seems they've changed their toilet tissue... the width of the roll has shrunk by a 1/2-inch! And I noticed the new cardboard roll is also larger (the old one will fit inside it)... which makes me suspicious that they are also putting less length of paper on them. Less paper, all for the same low, low price.....

Just kinda irritates me today for some reason.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Accept the gift!

This morning I had some errands to run. (My husband is playing in the band at church, but my boys are sick so we weren't able to go.) I needed to drop off some stuff at a friend's house, who has also been sick, so on my way there I called and offered to bring over a Starbucks for her.... but she graciously declined.

Now ladies... I don't know about you, but I can recall a few times when someone has offered to bring me something—whether I was in need or not—but I refused because I didn't want to put them out. Put them out? If they didn't want to do it, they most likely wouldn't have offered! (Hindsight is always 20/20 isn't it?)

It would have blessed me to bring my friend a fru-fru coffee drink this morning. I would have loved to have done that for her! So now I ask myself, how many times have *I* closed the door on an opportunity for someone else to be blessed by serving me with some simple act of kindness?

So I encourage you—next time someone offers to do something for you, take them up on it!! (It's not greedy or selfish to let someone do something nice for you!) You will be blessed AND they will be blessed!! :)

Starting anew - part 2

Reflecting on my previous post—here's even more awesome perspective on second chances...

Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, "The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in Him!"
~Lamentations 3:21-24

Amen!!! I feel like I want to put exclamation points after every sentence in that chunk of Scripture! What would I do without the Lord's great love?!?!?!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

You can start anew -- right now!

Some people are not going to like you no matter what you do or what you say.
Get over it and get on with life.

Some of your efforts are not going to bring the results you were after.
Accept it and find another approach.

Occasionally you'll be distracted and knocked off course for a while.
On a regular basis, life will have its disappointments.
Those disappointments and distractions do not have to stop you.
In fact, you can choose to let them inspire you and to push you forward.

No matter what has just happened, you are free in this moment to act with positive purpose.
Whether the past has worked in your favor or not, the future is yours to create as you wish.
Life is too important to waste it feeling sorry for yourself or beating yourself up. [!!!]
Get up and get on with life, and make it match your highest expectations.

~Ralph Marston

I love this quote... especially as a mom who daily makes mistakes and has to frequently reassess my direction and change course -- right in the middle of the day!! Oh Lord, thank you that You give me so many second chances... thank you that my day isn't a total loss when I make wrong choices -- but through Your grace and Your strength, I can choose to make the next right choice!

Monday, November 30, 2009


I have been reading a copy of The New Strong-Willed Child, by Dr. James Dobson, which I rented from the public library recently. It has some very insightful things in it—even if your child isn't technically "strong-willed"—and I have been encouraged. The thing I find ironic is, I have never checked out a book from the library until now that has so many stains or remnants of food in it! (I've found at least 3-4 spots.) Apparently these strong-willed children are getting their grimy little hands on the book!!

Oh, excuse me.... I need to go take care of some business with my 4-year-old who is putting up a stink in his room because he doesn't want to take his nap! Hmmm... isn't the timing ironic?

Friday, November 20, 2009

8 things being killed by the Internet

I saw this little list in Readers' Digest this past month...

8 Things Being Killed By the Internet

► Polite disagreement
► Letter writing
► Memory
► Daydreaming
► Waiting a day for sports scores
► Footnotes
► Leaving your desk for lunch
► Concentration

[Original Source: Matthew Moore in the London Daily Telegraph]

Very interesting. Kinda makes ya chuckle, but kinda gets you thinking too. Like how, although the Internet has brought about many great things, there are some definite drawbacks... for me... like how easily it lures me away from things more productive (or important)—like tending to my kids, house-cleaning, reading a book, having a QT, etc. ......

BUT, self-control is one of those things God is always working on with me... and self-control is something I will always be working on with my boys too.... learning how to co-exist with modern distractions like TV, the Internet, texting, etc. What a different world we live in now than what I grew up in!

Following Jesus

Here is a great quote from 18th century theologian John Wesley—

Why has Christianity done so little good, even among us? ... Among them that hear and receive the whole Christian doctrine? ... Plainly because we have forgot or, at least, not duly attended to, those solemn words of our Lord: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."

Oy! Talk about a challenge! I think, as a mom, that I am learning about this kind of sacrifice more than ever....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Good grief!" Thursday

Is it wrong to say, "I love my child, but..."?

Because I love my child, but he has an oral fixation that is driving me crazy!!! My 4-year-old chews on everything... his sleeves, his matchbox cars, the bindings of books... I swear, every time I turn around I find something new that has been chewed on. Puzzle pieces... K'nex... good grief! I mentioned it to my husband and he said, "Don't you remember chewing on your pen cap in high school??" No. I did no such thing in high school.

So this afternoon I was diligently working on our budget—which requires a great deal of concentration—while my son was supposedly coloring at the dining room table (around the corner, just out of my sight). When I went to check on him, he hid underneath the table—a clue that he is doing something he knows he should not be doing. I gently issued the command: "Open your mouth." Inside were yellow waxy bits of chewed-up crayon. Grrrr. Fighting my urge to yell, which would be of no profit and I would regret later anyway, I smiled and reminded him that we never chew on crayons...and sent him downstairs to watch Elmo.

And now I'm blogging about it! Ahhhhhhhhhhh!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Homemade toys

Before I had kids, I scoffed at those who had every toy imaginable. Now that I'm a parent, I can understand the desire of a parent to give their child fun gifts—you just love your kids so much you want to give them everything!

Well, as a parent with a limited budget—and the understanding that a child having everything their little heart desires isn't the best for them!—I have learned the beauty of making stuff out of random household items, especially cardboard.

Here is a picture of my oldest son with some fun glasses I made for him a few months ago out of cardstock! (That's his fake smile... I think he's saying, "Cheeeeeeese....")

Another of Brandon's homemade favorites is a "car city" we drew with crayons on the back of a sheet of cardboard (wish I had a picture to show you)—complete with roads, grass, houses, stores, etc. He LOVES it. He covets it, in fact..... hides it from his little brother.... we're still working on the character quality of sharing. :)

And this weekend I made a stove/oven for Brandon using an empty diaper box. I cut out two circles of black construction paper and taped them to the top for the burners, and then cut an oven door out of the front of it. (Note the homemade chef's hat as well.)

He had a blast "cooking" for Grandpa & Grandma this weekend!

Oh, and speaking of money-saving... I am currently sipping on a Caribou vanilla latte... I bought a large today, which I divided into two or three portions to save for another day! :) La-tee-dee... la-tee-da... that's how us one-income families make it...

Enjoy this sunny autumn day! :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Money-saving tip

I did a little experiment this week. I hid the roll of paper towels that normally resides above the kitchen sink. They're too easily accessible there.

My family (OK, I guess that would be my husband and me) seems to go through paper towels pretty quickly. At some point, I had this great idea—buy the "select-a-size" paper towels—after all, many jobs don't require a whole normal-sized sheet. That seemed to help some.

However, as I watch the price of paper towels increase—like $17.99 for a 12-roll package of Bounty (granted, according to the packaging, 12 GIANT rolls = 18 regular rolls)—it just made me go, "Hmmmm...I wonder if we could save money here?"

So I bought a cheap package of kitchen wash cloths at Target. At lunchtime, instead of grabbing a fresh paper towel every time my hands are sticky (which is a lot when you're feeding two hungry boys) I use a wet wash cloth. Same for the boys. Since I do laundry about every 3-4 days anyway, what impact would a few extra wash cloths have? Nothing too serious. And sure enough, it's working!! We're still working on the same roll of paper towels we started on last Monday! PLUS, it gives Brandon an extra little chore—help Momma fold the wash cloths. And we Mommas know that when our kids help with household chores, it gives them a sense of belonging and being part of the family.

It's hard to say how many rolls we were going through per month (I've never actually counted, although I've been tempted to!)—but if I ventured a guess I would say we probably spent around $10/month on them. Hey! That's $10 I could use for.... coffee! or Christmas gifts! or to help someone less fortunate than myself! Now that's much more productive.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Home Ec ain't just for girls

I receive a weekly e-newsletter called “The Homeschool Minute.” This week’s topic is “Teaching Home Ec During the Holidays” (click here to see the whole newsletter). Home Ec? I said to myself. I don’t even have any girls?! But as I read on, I realized two things—#1 it is an encouragement to me as a homemaker, and #2 my boys ought to be raised with some good serving and household management skills!

Here’s a snippit from one of the articles…

* * * * *
Mercy Every Minute (by Deborah Wuehler, TOS Senior Editor)

What is true home economics? Merriam-Webster's online dictionary ( says this term dates back to 1899 and means "the theory and practice of homemaking" while a homemaker is defined as, "one who manages a household especially as a wife and mother."

Managing a household is not a simple job. The tasks are endless, the pay slim to none, the rewards are not always immediately evident, the hours are more than full-time. So what keeps the homemaker home-making? Is it the constant demands or the ever increasing needs? Maybe it's the daily drudgery of habit, or the fear of a spouse coming home to a disaster. If those are the reasons, then the joy of homemaking may just be waning at your house, as it often does at mine.

But I am learning that if I am to be training my young ones in home economics, and I want them to have good attitudes about it, then I must plan to put more joy into it myself. Too often, "home ec" has been stressful and no fun. Let's plan to put more fun and joy into serving each other, and our extended loved ones, and at the same time, teaching the children that in everything we do, we do it heartily as unto the Lord and not man. (Colossians 3:22-24)
* * * * *

And along those lines, here’s snippit from another article in the same e-newsletter…

* * * * *
The Familyman (by Todd Wilson, Familyman Ministries)

I think we should all teach home ec during the holidays, but do we have to "schoolify" it and call it "home ec"? Can't we just view it as essential life skills that parents should teach their children?

Every child needs to know how to make peanut butter buckeyes, Chex Mix, stained glass candy, cheese balls, and of course, sugar cookies cut into Christmas shapes.

And don't try to add it to your already-busy school schedule… do it instead of your busy school schedule… and don't feel guilty, because you shouldn't!
* * * * *

I liked that. Go, homemakers!! Go, moms!! Raise those children up to be men and women of God, who can care for their homes and serve one another joyfully!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Humility goes a long way

During the boys' naptime today, I was listening to one of Mark Darling's parenting messages from his Getting Your Family to Mars series... and he said something that struck me kinda profoundly...
"You can't be a perfect parent—but you can be perfectly humble."

As in, saying you're sorry if you blow it, admitting you were wrong, etc. Because God gives grace to the humble.

And a verse from Psalm 25 came to mind: "He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them His way." It doesn't say, "He leads the perfect..." It just gave me another glimpse of God's grace for parents—because I struggle so much with feeling like I need to be perfect in order for Him to approve of me or bless me or be near me during the day in the midst of mothering—despite what I know the Bible says. Oh, to really grasp His love for me....!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fresh produce... and pizza...

This morning Brandon asked me, "Where are we going today, Mom?" As if we go somewhere every day (which we do not). So I asked him, "Where do you think we should go?" He said, "We should go to Rainbow Foods." Probing further I asked, "What do we need from Rainbow Foods?" Excitedly, he said, "We could get bananas, and carrots, and apples, and Brussels sprouts, and pizza..." All his faves. I love that it's all fresh produce... and pizza. :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Thank goodness for Stainmaster carpet!

Sometime I feel like the best words to describe my days as a mother of two young sons are: "What next?!" :)

Around lunchtime, Brandon was downstairs watching Word World on PBS, while I was in the kitchen making beef stew (for the first time). I could hear precious little Ryan, my busy 2-year-old, wandering around between the bedrooms, making his own fun. When I went back to check on him, however, his hands were all red... as if he'd gotten into a marker... or paint... or blood... And then I noticed it on the carpet too... the light, cream-colored carpet in our bedroom. Argh! Gotta think fast before it sets in!

So I brought Ryan into the bathroom to wash his hands and noticed a cut on his middle fingertip... a little bit of a gusher. Not sure where that little accident occurred! I struggled to get a bandaid on it and quickly discovered that 2-year-old boys don't like wearing bandaids. Argh again.

On to the carpet. How do you get blood out of carpet without ruining the carpet?? I put in an emergency call to my good friend Kim, and she gave me some tips from the internet. I approached the spots with a cup of cold water, a toothbrush, an old towel, and some dish detergent. Much to my delight [thank you, Lord!] I didn't even need the detergent. After pouring a little water on each of the spots, and rubbing ever so slightly with the toothbrush, the blood came right off! Then I just sopped up the water with the old towel, and voila! Good as new! I never knew how awesome Stainmaster carpet could be!!! :)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

No nobler career than motherhood

Here is an encouraging/inspiring quote from Elisabeth Elliot's book The Shaping of a Christian Family...

"There is no nobler career than that of motherhood at its best. There are no possibilities greater, and in no other sphere does failure bring more serious penalties. With what diligence then should she prepare herself for such a task. If the mechanic who is to work with 'things' must study at technical school, if the doctor into whose skilled hands will be entrusted human lives, must go through medical school... how much more should the mother who is fashioning the souls of the men and women of tomorrow, learn at the highest of all schools and from the Master-Sculptor Himself, God. To attempt this task, unprepared and untrained is tragic, and its results affect generations to come. On the other hand there is no higher height to which humanity can attain than that occupied by a converted, heaven-inspired, praying mother." (Anonymous)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A mini mom-testimony

As a strongly melancholy personality, I had been struggling with my role as a mother.... every flaw, every mistake, every failure magnified times 10. For more than a year, I silently suffered in the chains of feeling like I was wrecking my kids and that I was a terrible mom. The pressure of raising children to love God & love others was getting to me – and I’m afraid I wasn't responding to it very well... comparing myself to others (and coming up short); looking for the fruit of good behavior in my young boys and feeling like a failure when I couldn’t see it; giving-in to feelings of frustration and anger toward my boys; and feeling like I’d never be a good enough mom.... It all led to hopelessness & despair...

I cannot express how heavily weighed-down I was by feelings of guilt, shame, and hopelessness. Those days were pretty dark. I half-seriously considered my options... Chocolate in large quantities? Strong drinks? Push away from friends and hide from everyone? Walk away from God and my family?

Well, [obviously] I chose to stick with my family... and I chose to continue following God. I committed to reading the Bible (most days) – but I really toiled through it some days... how could God love me and forgive me over and over again? In Romans 5:8 it says that Jesus died for me while I was still a sinner. It seemed too good to be true, but I had to choose to believe it, because all Scripture is inspired by God. Some days fell flat... but I knew that I certainly was far worse off without God...

I was desperate and hungry, so I kept "mining" God’s Word looking for gold... for the truth (to destroy the lies I had been believing about myself) and to find hope. One of the nuggets I found was in Acts 17:26-27 – which says, “From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” It became so clear that God chose me to be the mother of my two boys. No matter where I am on the “good mom” spectrum, He felt I would be the best mom for them, giving them the best chance of finding Him.

But probably the biggest profound paradigm shift came from a friend who cared...

I mentioned to this friend, in a recent conversation, that parenting is one of the hardest things I have ever done. He listened carefully, and then brought up how – many people struggle with worrying that they're going to wreck their kids.... but the truth is that they are already wrecked... born with a sin nature. They were not born sin-free & perfect – they were born broken! This was a revolutionary thought for me. I felt like, on the spot, God gave me a mental picture of me molding clay – that my job is to mold my children for His purposes, training them up in His ways – rather than me franticly trying to glue back together the pieces of a clay pot that I broke. And that overwhelming parenting burden was immediately lifted.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I love my boys!

In a rare moment, my boys are both smiling at the camera (well, almost at the camera)... AND being sweet to one another!

Can you stand it? I just want to squeeze those little cheeks!

And the moral of the story is...

...never leave your preschooler alone with a pair of scissors. Not even kid scissors.

I had everything prepared for our preschool lesson last Wednesday, except for one part. We were talking about the number 5—and the corresponding Bible story was Joseph's jealous brothers selling him as a slave—so the project was to cut out five wallets or purses from a magazine and paste them on the number 5 page. Usually I do the "homework" first, to spare a lot of time-wasting and distractions paging through a magazine together in search of whatever objects we're going to cut out and paste. Well, I didn't do it in advance that day. And, of course, I couldn't find any wallets or purses quickly in the magazines or catalogs.... so I decided I would make a copy of some coins in my purse so Brandon could cut those out. I left Brandon at the dining room table with the number 5 page, the glue stick, and the scissors while I went around the corner to copy the coins.

Well, the paper got jammed in the printer.... blah blah blah.... so it took a bit longer than I had anticipated. When I came back to the table, Brandon had his hands across his stomach and a frown on his face. I asked him, "Brandon, what are you holding on to?" His reply: "Nothing." So I asked him again, "What are you covering up? What is in your hands?" Reluctantly he lifted his hands....... to reveal....... two big slits he had cut into his shirt with the scissors!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Argh! It took everything in me to not completely blow a gasket.

All I can say is, I'm thankful that shirt wasn't one of my/his favorites. He started to cry a little and said, "I'm sorry Momma. It was an accident." And truly, it was.... he really hasn't used the scissors very much..... I gave him a hug and we had a gentle talk about proper scissor usage. That took big "love muscles" and "mercy muscles" to handle properly!!! All credit goes to the Lord!

Thursday, April 2, 2009


On the back cover of the April 2009 issue of Decision magazine is printed a selection from Ruth Bell Graham's writings. It seemed like a meaningful piece to share, especially as Easter approaches.

* * * * *
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him. ... But the other criminal rebuked him. "...We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into Your kingdom." Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:39-43 NIV)

He died—
the thief—
and yet,
he'd cried for mercy
and, what's more,
his tortured soul
had found relief.

He got
a death
that he deserved;
a Life
that he did not.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, & mind

Yep. It's been more than five months since my last post. But I've just been too wrapped up in motherhood and don't seem to have much time for blogging... And that's been a good thing—for me AND for my kiddos.

Anyway, the boys are napping and I have a few moments to write out some thoughts about Matthew 22:36-40....

"Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?" Jesus replied, "'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments."

Jesus said the most important commandment is to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind. So I ask myself: Does my life reflect that? I mean, really? If someone who didn't know me looked at my life, is there evidence telling that I love God with all my heart, soul, and mind? Do my actions reflect that? What about the TV shows I watch or the magazines I read? Are they filling me up with goodness...or garbage? What about how I treat other people—be it outside my home, or within the privacy of my own home? Or in the privacy of my own car after a driver has cut me off? What about how I manage my money and possessions? Am I willing to give away?

Good questions to really chew on. Next step: What am I going to DO about it? How DO I love God with all my heart, soul, and mind?? What actions does it require...?