June 28, 2010

Little Pray-ers

 We've never been big fans of the rote prayers like "God is great, God is good."  We wanted our children to learn from a very early age that talking to God is a natural thing.  I would never expect my children to greet their daddy each day when he returned from work with a poem that said,
 "Daddy is great, daddy is good, 
thanks for working so I can eat my food."  

That would be ridiculous.  Why, then, would I teach my children to talk to their heavenly Father that way?  If God is merely a religion, then there would be no need for dialogue.  But I have a personal, daily relationship with God.  I speak to him; He speaks to me.  It is not a relationship built on rhetoric.  Therefore, I desire for my children to learn to talk with God as naturally as they communicate with their earthly father.

Our bedtime prayers are a time for us to teach our children how to talk to God.  It is an intimate, one-on-one time with each child.  Unless, of course it is very late and we all pray together for the sake of time.  (Just keepin' it real.)  Some nights we have a conversational prayer.  By this I mean we talk about things, pray about them; talk about some more topics, pray about them; rather than mommy's turn to pray ... child's turn to pray.  
This is the perfect time to let my each of my children know specific things I am praying for them.  I often pray aloud during our nightly prayers that our son will grow to be a leader and a man of God.  He hears me say this and even though he can't quite grasp all that a "man of God" means, he knows my desire for him to seek God as he grows.

One of the rewards has been his excitement over getting to pray.  Usually at dinner my husband will ask "who would like to pray?"  Immediately, our son says, "I do!"  While his meal-time prayers are still developing and often hunger-driven for speed, it delights my heart to see his enthusiasm to pray.   I've recently observed some eye rolling from family members because they think he just wants to be the one to pray so we can eat sooner.  I see it as a man of God in the making.  If it charms my heart this much to watch my children pray, I can only imagine how delighted their heavenly Father is.

June 24, 2010

Beach Tips

1. Take your best shot.  The best time of day (at any location) to take great photos is an hour or two before sunset.
2. Stash the trash. Bring a plastic grocery bag to store trash.  It hooks nicely onto the arm of your chair.
3. Lip service.  Don't forget to cover your lips with SPF to keep them kissably soft.
4. Know your tides.  If you find yourself caught in a rip current, don't fight it.  Swim parallel to the shore until you no longer feel the pull of the current.  Then swim inland.
5. Sandy isn't so dandy.  Ever feel like sand is stuck to everything when you are ready to get in the car?  Sprinkle shoes, hands, bottom of bags, etc. with baby powder.  The sand will slide right off.
6. Keep it flavorful.  We all know the importance of keeping hydrated, but it doesn't have to be boring.  My kids love to add flavor packets to bottled water.  We usually take several flavor choices to keep their interest.  (This works great on long road trips, too!)
7. Keep it clean.  Hand sanitizer feels so refreshing just before you snack.
8. Zip it. Zip lock bags can be your best friend.  They keep the sand out and the good stuff in.  We even use one for our camera.  You can never be too careful. ;)
9. Mr. Freeze.  Frozen grapes are a great beach snack.  They can help keep the other things in your soft sided cooler from getting too warm.  
10. Sheet music.  An old bed sheet is the perfect beach blanket.  It is lightweight but has a tight weave.  Just make sure you aren't standing upwind from your neighbor when you shake it out.

Have a good summer tip? Do share!

June 22, 2010

Why I am Now a Cruiser

Up until a week ago the term cruisin' referred to an immature high school dropout student leisure activity.  And then we boarded the ship.  Now that I am a wealth of knowledge on the subject matter, I think I'll share my take on it.  :)
 { Subtitled: A great excuse to show my vacation pictures}
1. The ship is bigger-than-my-mind-can-comprehend big. Since my husband cannot stand to be stationary for more than 30 minutes at a time, I was a little concerned that he might feel a little cabin fever-ish.  It was never an issue.  There were more floors, doors, and elevators than in my parents' home town.

2. Now I know how kids feel at Disney World.  Everything is fancy, lighted, and clean.  Clean being the operative word for this germ-a-freak.  I felt like a princess.  Which, I am, by the way.
3. You can do absolutely nothing if you prefer. Which I do prefer sometimes.

3. Or you can choose to do excursions beyond your wildest dreams. Which I highly recommend.
We decided to try things that we may never have the chance to do again.  You only live once!

4. The food.  I know it sounds cliche` but it is true.  The food was fabulous.  Fresh fruit every single day.  I think I ate my weight in pineapple and watermelon.  For breakfast and lunch we grazed the buffet; but the evenings were a real treat.  The restaurants were linen-napkin and stemmed glassware kind of nice. No fast food items here. Grown-up and faincy!  Which leads me to number 5.

5. Economic.  How expensive do you think it would be to eat at a 5-star restaurant for six nights in a row?  Once we realized how economic a cruise could be for all that is included, we were amazed.  Don't get me wrong, it's a big chunk 'o change, but if you tried to take a vacation and eat like we did, the cost would be incredible.
Our cruise was an amazingly generous gift from my parents who often say they would rather live to see us enjoy their inheritance than wait until they're too busy enjoying their heavenly mansions to notice.  They knew we would never take a 7 day trip alone on our own.  When you are in this stage of life the vacation funds are for family vacations (or new ac units, whichever comes first that year).  They wanted to help us celebrate our 15 years of marriage with something that we wouldn't/couldn't have done on our own.  For that, we are forever grateful.  And exceedingly grateful for their example of a wonderful, lifelong marriage.

6. Details.  The attention to details was unbelievable.  Picture this:  you are watching a movie while reclining in a padded lounge chair under the stars on the deck of the ship.  Just when you think life couldn't get any better, a cute little steward walks up and hands you a WARM just from the oven oatmeal cookie, to go along with the bag of popcorn you've already devoured.  A little chilly from the night air?  There's a blanket at your feet. 

7. Something for everyone.  One of my favorite spots on the boat was on our balcony with a good book (above).  It was private and quiet.  Hubby headed to the courts to shoot some hoops and gave me a little down time in the afternoons.

8.  Excursions.  They are SO worth it! There is something for everyone.  Hubby and I like to stay active, so we chose to snorkel, kayak etc...   Something we learned: book reservations ahead of time.  Several people onboard told us they didn't get to do their top choice of excursions because they were sold out.  Just FYI.

9. And then there's this:
Yes.  Can you imagine?  Tropical paradise.  Falling in love all over again wasn't hard to do.

10. Recharged, relaxed, renewed.  We were so recharged after our trip. We had never spent 7 days away from everyone else we know on the planet.  Totally focusing on each other was so healthy.  We came home refreshed, renewed, and ready to be back in our roles at home.  Although having my bed turned down each night was pretty nice... 

What would be on the top of your must-do list for a cruise?

June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

In the same way, 
let your light shine
before men,
that they may see 
your good deeds
and praise your Father 
in heaven.
Matthew 5:16

June 19, 2010

Perfect Timing

Isn't it nice to get a word of encouragement right when you need it most?

I've been a little unsure lately when it comes to my blog.  In my head I know it's not about the number of comments, but it is.  Sort of.  It's my little moral booster; my cheering section.

Just this week I was stopped by a precious young mom who I didn't even realize was a reader.  She told me that readers are like cockroaches.  For every one commenter, there are a dozen that you don't see.  (Don't take offense to being compared to a cockroach.  It was a total compliment.)  I really wanted to hug her neck.  

Then out of the blue my brother, who has been doing maneuvers in 110 degree weather for the past 3 weeks, sent a text that is one for the make-your-sister-cry category.  It read: 
"Just wanted to let you know that you're a phenomenal blogger.  It's always refreshing to read.  Hope you're having a good weekend."  I don't typically share private text conversations, but that was just too sweet to keep to myself.  Sniff, sniff.

It's funny how the Lord uses people to answer my unspoken questions/doubts.  I was recently trying to decide if I should take the music off my blog, because I know we don't all share the same taste.  The day that I opened my computer to turn off the music, I had an email from a reader who rarely leaves comments, telling me what a blessing the music was to her and that her husband always says, "Is that the blog with the cool music?"  

Things are still pretty tight here at the NEM casa, so I've explored the possibility of using my blog to bring in a little cash flow.  While I only have one (fabulous) advertiser, I am waiting to see what the Lord brings our way.  He gave me a little gift this week.  The wonderful people at CSN contacted me.  If you haven't visited their sites yet, you will be amazed.  They have over 200 stores and everything you could imagine.  Need a new vanity?  They've got it.  Need a fire pit?  They've got it.  Need a dog bed?  They've got it.  Pretty much anything other than fresh pineapple, they've got it.  In a couple of weeks I get the privilege to do a product review; so I'll let you know what I think about their customer service, shipping time and overall quality.  

I say these things not to toot my own horn.  The opposite, rather.  I am humbled by the gift you give me by reading (and commenting on) my blog.  Your words of encouragement always come at the right time.    I love to write, laugh, and encourage.  I want you to know that your words mean so much to me.  

June 18, 2010

Wishing for More

I often run across blogs that mention things they are wishing for:
~ smoother days
~ better pay
~ more time
~bigger houses
~ more coffee
~ kinder family members
~ winning the lottery
~ less stress
~ calmer storms
~ happy children

We all have wishes and dreams. It's fun to dream, isn't it?
What about when dreams don't come true? Reality sets in. Life goes on.
If I've allowed my dreams to become expectations, then I am going to be greatly disappointed.

There is a piece of property that I drive by often that is a dream of mine. It has many acres, a horse barn, a pond, a beautiful bridge, and close enough to the city to not feel out in the middle of nowhere. My dream is is own a large barn to hold special events like weddings, receptions, parties, etc. This property seems like the perfect place. It's my dream. You know, one of the "big dreams."
Even though I know it is just a dream, I found myself yearning for that piece of property over the last few days as my daily drive took me right past it. I've admired and dreamed of that spot on occasion, but not until this week did I realize I was allowing that dream to become a disappointment. Now I have to decide how I'm going to deal with it. Is it wrong to still dream of that place? No, but I have to be willing to accept that it is only a dream. I don't want to become discontented in all of the many blessing we enjoy at our current home. I have to make a choice to accept it as a dream, not an expectation.

Sometimes big dreams are easier to shelve than small wishes.
Discontentment can set in so easily with the small things.

This past week we had just returned from our vacation and reality set in: up each morning and out the door for my kids to go to VBS; broken air conditioner on a 93 degree day; 2 major setbacks on a renovation project; just to name a few. I was really hoping to enjoy a Starbucks coffee and a quiet week. I had to make a choice: allow disappointment to settle in my heart or choose to make the best of a crazy week.

I chose to enjoy the week, whatever came. And guess what? In the middle of all the craziness, I realized that I am living two of my dreams: being a mom and helping someone do a major renovation. I'm so glad I didn't get caught up in the "wishes." I might have missed my dream.

What is one of your "big dreams"?

June 16, 2010

The 7 Day Date

Hello friends!  I know my blogging has been a little light over the past week and a half.

I've been a little busy.

Celebrating 15 years with this amazing guy:
We had 7 days of togetherness.  No phone, no computer, no work, no cooking, no cleaning.  
Just us.  And room service.  And blue water.  Lots of blue water.

And dinner on our balcony:
And chocolate dipped strawberries:
And some island music:
And hanging out with the locals:

Top things to do on a seven day date:
~watch 2 movies under the stars
~go see a comedian
~watch a musical
~eat more than you ever thought possible
~swim with the dolphins
~sea kayak
~play putt-putt in on the deck of a ship
~ride a giant catamaran
~hold hands

June 13, 2010

Sunday Rest

The Lord does not look at the things
man looks at.
Man looks at the outward appearance,
but the LORD looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7

June 7, 2010

Blue on a Budget

We recently repainted our kitchen and I was delighted with the change. I wanted to lighten it up and have a breezy, airy, farmhouse feel. We loved the color of our bedroom so much, we decided to go with the same color, Urban Mist (Behr), in the kitchen. See my new barstools? Yard sale: $10 each. Woot, woot!!



I found the shutters at a flea market a while ago, and recently scored the giant porcelain metal bowl at a yardsale for $5.
The wooden lantern was a yardsale find, $3. The white candlestick was a Goodwill spray paint transformation and the glass was clearance at Pier One.

I also painted my "A" because you know I love a monogram. It was a gift from a special friend, so I didn't want to get rid of it; but it was a dark red to match my previous walls. A few coats of acrylic craft paint did the job.
Can you see those Ball mason jars with the original zinc lids? $3 each at an estate sale. Antique stores sell them for $30 a piece. Score!

Cream and sugar pictures swapped with a dear friend. A new rug for the back door from Walmart. Their new Better Homes and Garden line is really nice.
One unexpected benefit from leaving the red behind is that I get to introduce a little splash of orange to liven things up.
Even though I loved my red kitchen for a season, it is so refreshing to have a light color on the walls. It's at whole new look and feel.

Want to come over for an iced chai latte?

June 6, 2010

Sunday Rest

I praise you because I am
fearfully and wonderfully made
Your works are wonderful
I know that full well.
Psalm 139:14

June 3, 2010

Lost in Translation

I surprised my daughter with a trip to the nail salon for her birthday this week.
There's nothing wrong with killing two birds with one stone, so I thought I'd have my eyebrows done while I was waiting.

Asian Technician: "She won pedicure, too?"
Me: Smiling. "No thanks. Just the mani." We still need enough $$ to give her some presents.
She gave a little sniff and raised her eyebrow as she looked at my daughter's toes. That just happened to be the handiwork of a 10 year old in a rainbow of pinks and blues.

Turning to my other daughter she said, "You won manicure like sister?"
Who wouldn't? I mean she was in the middle of giving her a full arm massage with hot stones, for goodness sake. We were all drooling. I think my 6 year old son would have said yes at that point. Fortunately I had already prepped daughter #2 about this being a birthday gift. So she politely declined.
Another sniff.

Since my other two children were completely mesmerized by the whole color-on-the-nail thing, I left them to gawk watch their older sister enjoy her birthday treat. I was taken back to the operating waxing room by another woman with broken English.

Her:"You won browd?"
Me: What? Oh, yes, my brow. Realizing that the need to confirm a brow wax as opposed to a bikini wax was of the essence.
Her: All dose your kids?
Me: Yes, yes they are.
Her: How many? Fowa?
Me: No, just three.
Her: You hab good body.
Me: Wha???
Her: You hab good body to hab sree kids.
Me: Thank you! I'll take every service you offer,well except the Brazilian, and double the tip.
Her: You jus stay home all day wis dem?
Me: There went your doubled tip, lady.