August 31, 2011

Much Rejoicing

Both of our precious girls made a public profession of faith on Sunday evening.  What a joy and privilege to watch as our daughters were baptized before a large group of family and friends.
Since they both had accepted Christ as their Savior when they were very young, we wanted to wait until they were at an age that they would be able to remember this very special day.  We chose to wait until they individually made the decision to be baptized.  We simply told them that when they were ready, we would support their decision.  We've watched each of them grow by leaps and bounds in their personal spiritual journey this year, so we knew the timing was perfect.

Why baptism by immersion?  As a Christian, we want to be imitators of Christ.  He chose to be publicly baptized as an example to us (Matthew 3:13-17).  Are we more holy or saved because of baptism?  No, but it is obedience.  We believe that it is a representation of what has already occurred in our hearts:  cleansing by Jesus' death/burial/resurrection

When each of our children were babies we were part of a Baby Dedication service (some churches do infant sprinkling).  As a couple, we publicly stood before the church and committed to raising our children according to God's grace and mercy.  
Although we have much influence in our children's spiritual journey, we know that their relationship with God is a personal decision.  They are not "grandfathered" into heaven's fold because of our beliefs.  They must make a choice to open their hearts to Jesus.  

One of the greatest blessings in life has been to watch each of our children develop a personal relationship with God.  We believe that all are sinful (Rom.3:23) and need saving grace.  Jesus is the bridge that mankind needed to mend the gap between our sinfulness and God's holiness. (Rom. 3:24-25)  It is by his sacrifice alone that we are saved from ourselves (John 3:16).    Baptism isn't a "good work" that will help us get into heaven (Ephesians 2:8) it is a simple act of obedience in which we publicly say, 
"I was a sinner.  
I have accepted Christ as my Savior.  
I am saved by his grace.  
I am redeemed."

Rejoicing together!
(yes, I know his shirt is very distracting from this spiritual moment ... gotta love it!)

"If you confess with your mouth 'Jesus is Lord' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."  Romans 10:9-10

August 25, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Siblings who love each other and still have fun playing together

A bowl full of summer cherries

God's paintbrush displayed

Quiet moments with the ones we love

Summer childhood treats

What are you thankful for today?

August 24, 2011

A Week of Gifts

1. Not too long ago, my dear friend Tracey asked for some help in finding furniture for her new deck.  It took me very little time to dig through the internets to find some good possibilities.  I made a few suggestions on placement and groupings.  All of this was done via email.  As you know, I love anything that has to do with designing living space, so it was a treat to get to help her.  
Imagine my surprise a couple of weeks later when I opened my mailbox to find a package.  A real package with my name on it!
She had lovingly handcrafted a beautiful cover for my Kindle, complete with a little blingy button.  Along with it was the sweetest note of thanks for my help.  I am the one who needs to thank her: for her friendship, for her labor of love.  Isn't it beautiful?? 
Thank you, Tracey!

2. Speaking of labor... our sweet little hens have been very busy too!  We are now collecting a rainbow of eggs each day.  They're kinda like people: different colors and sizes on the outside, pretty much the same on the inside.   :)

 3. My dear friend Lisa knows my affinity for NUTELLA.  On Sunday she handed me a beautiful package with a sly grin.  Inside I found not one, but two jars of chocolate bliss.  It was a true gift because she used her "limit of 2" coupon and gave them BOTH to me.  Wowsa!

 4. I am enjoying a gift from my mom each time I open my back door.  She gave me a hanging basket of gerber daisies at the beginning of the summer.  I split them up and planted them along our walkway.  They have bloomed profusely all summer long. She knows they are one of my favorite flowers and each time I see them, it makes me smile.

 5. Within the past week, I was shown the gift of hospitality by two different friends who lovingly opened their homes to my kids and me.  What joy to savor the gift of friendship over some yummy food.  Thank you Suzanne and Susan!

6. Speaking of savory... I love how certain smells bring back precious memories.  My mom surprised me with this little packet of herbs.  Herbes de Provence takes me back to a wonderful adventure in France that she and I shared many years ago.

Each gift is so unique, yet they all speak love.
Hope you have a gift filled day!

August 18, 2011

Like Bees on Honey

Flashback to 1984 in a gymnasium filled with sweaty 5th graders who have just been  brought to a frenzy over raising money for the new gym floor by Mr. Fundraiser himself.
As the bell rings for the school day to end, hundreds of children race to the carpool line grasping their wares, prepared to knock on every neighborhood door until their boxes are empty.  I, on the other hand, casually stroll to my car and look my mother in the eye.

"Today's the day," I say.
Her eyes light up like glowing candles, "I know.  Hand it over."
The smell has already penetrated the confines of our 1982 Caprice Classic station wagon.
There is no pressure to rush home to beat the other little salesmen to the doors of our unsuspecting neighbors.
We carefully open the box and our mouths water like fountains.  Even the cardboard box smells good enough to eat.

We peer into the box and find 20 bars of World's Finest Chocolate.
We're in no hurry because this is one fundraiser my mom is willing to support.  Completely.
She hands me a twenty dollar bill, which is a big deal in our house, and just like that, I have reached my fundraising goal.

Just last week my mom and I were telling my kids about those wonderful chocolate bars.  Our eyes sparkled as we shared that memory, especially the part about her buying the whole box.
"I wonder if they still make those," she mused.  We doubted it.

Yesterday, as I sat in the waiting area of the hair salon a little girl opened the door carrying a box of .... World's Finest Chocolate.  I couldn't believe it.  I dug in my purse, desperate for cash.  I caught her eye and asked if she was selling chocolate bars.  I only had TWO dollars so I assumed that I would only be able to afford 1 bar.  She opened her treasure chest to this:

No longer is the choice limited to milk chocolate or milk chocolate with almonds.  Now there are at least 6 choices.  The best part?  They are still only $1 each!  I would have bought the whole box if I had more cash with me.

I looked up to see the little girl wander into the active part of the salon and before I knew it, she was surrounded by women like bees on honey.  Within minutes, her box was empty.
I sure hope her mama got her own box ahead of time.

It was so fun to show up at my own mama's door with a pocket full of chocolate and good memories to share.

August 17, 2011

Happy Day

1. This post captured me, and put to rest some uneasiness that was in my soul.  Go read it here.  You won't be disappointed.

2. I will be having an awesome GIVEAWAY soon.  You won't want to miss out on this one.

3. Have you found Pinterest?  I'm probably the last person in the world to finally join, but now I see why it is so popular.  So much fun. And easy.  And addictive.  Here's my pinboard if you wanna take a peek.  See something you like, just pin it to your own board for a quick reference.

4. Speaking of being the last person on earth to figure something out: I had my first Skinny Vanilla Latte at Starbucks the other day.  Yes, I just crawled out from under a rock.  I've always been shy of skinny stuff (hey, no snickering!) because of the weird aftertaste.  It wasn't there!  It was delicious!  Do you always get the same fancy coffee drink when you have a splurge?  What's your beverage of choice?  I'm willing to expand my horizons now. :)

5. I realized today that we are in the middle of our 4th week of school.  While other schools are just now starting, it's great to have a whole month under our belt.  Just that much closer to fall break, woot woot!

6.  I needed to mail a package this week and rather than face the torture chamber grumpy people at the local post office I tried out the postal service in the back of the Hallmark store.  Hello happy place!  I will never darken the doors of another US post office if I can help it.  They were extremely helpful and kind and non-racist.  Not only that, they don't charge extra for their service.  I'm SOLD!!!  I recently heard that some Ace Hardware stores have a postal service too... worth checking out!

7.  While oot and aboot we stopped by Bath and Body Works for a quick gift.  Have you seen/smelled/tried their new fall candle scents?  I'm waiting for a coupon or sale.  Well, trying to wait patiently because Apple Crumble, Fireside and Oatmeal Raisin Cookie smelled divine.  Then, while typing this, I discovered tw0 new scents on their website that make me swoon just by their names: Mountain Leaves and  Acorn and Fig.  I know, I'm getting ahead of the season...

8. Since it's still August, I'll share one more thing that makes me happy: I love summer corn on the cob.  It just speaks summer goodness to me.  A meal with corn on the cob, watermelon, and ripe tomatoes makes me happier than a flag on fourth of July.

What makes you happy today?

August 15, 2011

Calling a Truce

I sat at the table with women of various ages and a patchwork of backgrounds when the question was raised:

"Do you feel a chasm between your homeschooling friends and your traditional school friends?"

I stayed silent to hear the responses of the women around me.
My initial (silent) response was no; but everyone else seemed to feel the opposite.

The first to speak was a mother of public schooled children.  Her response was, "I often feel judged or inferior to those who homeschool.  If you're not homeschooling or sending your children to private school, you are looked down on."
Nods of agreement came from some of the other moms.

One of the homeschool moms replied, "There seems to be levels of homeschooling thought, too.  If you aren't radical, or following a certain curriculum, you're inferior."

This was a table full of very opinionated, strong personalities; and yet they were expressing their feelings of insecurity regarding the opinion of other moms.

Why do we do this?  Why do we begin motherhood as if it were an episode of Survivor, casting our votes of who is doing it "right" and who should form alliances.  From the time we find out there is a little bundle of joy on its way, the competition begins.  We compare  and take measure of one another until all that is left of ourselves is insecurity.

~Prenatal care
~Birth plans
~How soon my child is reading
~The number of extra curricular activities
~Our children's success rate in any of the above
~Public, Private, or Homeschool
~How young to have a cell phone, email, facebook, texting...

The list goes on and on.  Why do we need to see it as a competition?  Who are we comparing ourselves to?  If you have found the PERFECT mother, please let me know and I might jump on the bandwagon of trying to be like her, but so far she's no where to be found.  Certainly not in my household.

Rather than comparing and judging, why don't we call a truce?  No more competition.  Let's encourage one another.  Let's be willing to make different choices, find contentment in the decision, and celebrate the differences.

When we are faced with a decision, like education, the only person we need to make sure we are seeking is the Lord.  Once He has made it clear what I am to do, it really shouldn't matter what answer He has given my neighbor.  If she is following His call for her family, then I am CALLED to rejoice with her, pray for her, and support her willingness to follow the call.

Imagine how sweet the community of motherhood would be if we were willing to lay down our insecurities and look for opportunities to rejoice together.

**I'm linking up with Richella today.  Check out her blog to read of more ways Grace is Imparted...

August 12, 2011

Friday Review

Do you ever go somewhere and you don't want to lug your purse around, but you still want to take your phone or your small camera?  I hate carrying things in my pockets, so it's usually my big ol' purse or nothing.  Tammy from Queen of Hooks has the perfect solution!
 It's a clutch that is just the right size for those times that you don't want to carry a bag.  Going to a baseball game but want your phone handy?  Perfect.  Headed out with the diaper bag but you don't want to haul a purse along too?  Just drop the clutch in the diaper bag and go.

Not only is it functional, but it's just so cute!  She has a large variety of fabrics available and she's even willing to send fabric samples for you to make sure you like your choice.  My favorite?  She will monogram it in a variety of fonts and colors.  Don't you just love that big chunky font?

 I am thrilled that it will hold my phone and my iTouch at the same time without feeling bulky, leaving room for my driver's license.  It's also the perfect size for my daughter's point-and-shoot camera.
Tammy takes the time to add special details like the swiveling wrist strap and the velcro pocket on the back that is just the right size for receipts.  Her work is high quality and she has taken the time to test out her products' durability before putting them on the market.
If you are looking for a great gift idea, or need a little something for yourself, go check out her etsy shop.  I think  girls of all ages would be thrilled with this cute little sidekick.

August 11, 2011

Helpful Hint Day

I'm always looking for a good excuse to make one more trip down the school supply aisle.  Here's a worthy reason:  

Now is the time to collect this kind of stuff for the Shoeboxes that will be due in November.  If you haven't had the privilege of filling a Shoebox for a needy kid, I highly recommend it.  Check out the ins-and-outs here.  
It's a great lesson in perspective right before the gift wanting giving season.


Do you have a gas stove?  If so, this might make life a little easier.
My grates were looking disgusting and no matter how hard I scrubbed, soaked or washed I couldn't get the tough stuff off.  Then I read a couple of remedies that were worth a shot.

1. Place the grates outside (out of the sun) on a heavy duty trash bag.  Spray with oven cleaner and walk away.  In about 30 minutes, uses a dry soft cloth and wipe clean.  
A-mazing! Super easy!

Before you wipe the oven cleaner off you might get a little nervous because your grate will look worse than when you started:
 Have no fear, soon your cooktop will be looking like new:

2. Place your grate in a giant ziplock back with a paper towel soaked in ammonia.  Leave overnight and your grate will be sparkling by morning.

**I've tried the first one, but let me know if you've had success with the second one.

What do you like to put into the Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes?

August 10, 2011

10 on the 10th

 1. We recently had some tile work done in our home.  During the 40+ hours Joe-the -Tiler spent at our house, I found out that he is a master Baclava chef.  I negotiated a dozen fresh eggs for a pan of this delicacy.  Clearly, I got the better end of the deal.

2. We are now into our third week of school and we're finally back in our groove and enjoying it immensely.  The first week is always T-O-U-G-H.  We've ironed out the kinks and now we're sailing along.

3. I was Facebook lurking and found someone I knew in high school.  She had recently posted pictures of her dead dog in a doggie casket, complete with a blue satin pillow and blanket.  Anyone else find this extremely bizarre?

4. Speaking of bizarre, what is it with Walmart and pajamas?  Throughout the country, I've experienced this phenomenon.  Have you noticed it?  Who walks out of the house and decides to head to Walmart wearing Tweety bird pajamas?

 5. I LOVE Bath and Body Work's new bags.  They just make me happy!  The blue and white buffalo check is blissful.

6. One of our chickens stopped laying eggs.  I had my hubby, ahem, check things out because I was envisioning 5 days worth of eggs being stuck.  Eww.  Apparently she is brooding (?) which means she sits in the little nesting box, thinking she's sitting on eggs.  Silly girl.  Or maybe it's just too stinkin' hot for her. 
7. A trip to the Farmer's Market makes me feel so healthy.  I had at least 4 people stop and ask me which booth was selling the sunflowers.  Summer glory.

8. I discovered a large piece of shower curtain on the bathroom floor and a pair of scissors discreetly placed nearby.  After a nice little "what were you thinking" chat, I'm still wondering about the thought process that took place.  Each of my children skipped the destructive stage that usually comes with toddlerhood.  It showed up a few years later with a signature on the stairway wall (duh, don't sign your name!) from child #1; lipgloss kiss marks on the door frame from child #2; and now the shower curtain from child #3.  Whew!  I hope that's the end of that!

9. I'm a sucker for shows that make me cry.  Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Coming Home, and even Undercover Boss.  We're talking the ugly cry.

10. We took a quick weekend trip to visit my brother and sister-in-law for military family day.   We had a blast riding on one of the fastest boats in the Navy... with my brother driving!  Another reason to be proud and so thankful for our military.

August 9, 2011

Making Summer Last

 As with every other state in the Union with the exception of Colorado, we've experienced blistering heat since the 4th of July.  Even though I prefer the other seasons I am reluctant to let go of summer.  I know.  I sound crazy, but it's really the change of the season of life that I'm not ready to do.  Summer holds a special place in my heart because it is a time of refreshment from the schedules that seem to overtake the other months.
 I won't miss the heat but I will miss
~fireflies at dusk
~longer days
~fresh flowers
~sun kissed faces
~splashing in the pool
~the smell after a summer rain
~popsicles on demand
~fresh watermelon
I have about a month of summer left and I am sure come mid-September I will be ready for fall, but for now I am going to savor the season.

What do you savor the most about summer?

August 5, 2011

Girls' Night In

The boys had a meeting, so we decided to make it a girlie night.  
My girls transformed my bathroom into a spa complete with a nail station, a massage station and a hair station.  Good parenting skilz.  

 We invited my mom over to enjoy the festivities and bring her cool new polish colors.
She showed up with virgin lime daiquiris and hot massage rocks.  See?  I am passing on a good family legacy.  :)

Taking turns and moving through each station made the time fly.  Before we knew it the boys were back and wanting a turn.  Somehow a forum on hunting just doesn't sound as fun or relaxing as our girls'-night-in.

 As my girls get older,  it is so fun to learn new ways to create a healthy bond between us.  I hope when they're all grown up we will still be choosing fun colors and giggling the night away.

What are some fun things you enjoy with your kids for a special night-in?

August 1, 2011

Real Men...

 "You might be a redneck if..."  your husband's best buddy gets this done to his Suburban.  He lives in a house full of girls, so he gets a little credit.  Add the fact that he's from Arkansas and he just can't help himself.  No offense to Arkansas.  In fact it's a compliment.  My husband has spent many cold winters on the fields of Arkansas, also known as the duck capital of the world.

So when this Man's Man showed up in our driveway to show off his vehicle's new duds my husband was oohing and aahing over it like I do over a newborn babe.  In case you were wondering, the paint job is considered "old school camouflage."  Doncha feel so smart now?

Even though this vehicle can hide in plain sight on the plains of Arkansas or the marshes of NC, it's a little bit noticeable around town.  Every once in awhile we'll see it while we're out and about.  The kids always giggle because they think he's a pretty neat guy.  I think he's a little crazy and brave ... just like my man.  :)

A few Sundays ago we were heading to our car after church when we walked past the "Duck Machine" and I noticed something that didn't quite fit the image this beast usually portrays.
I laughed until I cried.
Yep.  He's a Man's Man who happens to be the owner of a Bichon Frise.  Hey, with 3 women in the house, you can't win them all, right?