Thursday, February 26, 2009

(ri-treet) & (ree-treet)

I love the dictionary! Here are the definitions of retreat:

–verb (ree-treet)

1. to treat again. Indeed this was a treat.....again!

–noun (ri-treet)

1. the forced or strategic withdrawal of an army or an armed force before an enemy, or the withdrawing of a naval force from action. - In my case it was a strategic withdrawal from an army of men in my house!

2. the act of withdrawing, as into safety or privacy; retirement; seclusion. Pretty much all of this applies to the reasons why I went to Lake Swan!

3. a place of refuge, seclusion, or privacy. ABSOLUTELY!

4. an asylum, as for the insane. - I could see where some might think this is appropriate for me!

5. a retirement or a period of retirement for religious exercises and meditation. - Interesting, right?

Our ladies retreat is always something special for me. I have been living in Florida for 5 years now and I never missed a retreat! Perhaps because my husband knows how desperately I need the time off from raising 3 boys all about the same age (and one with special "issues") & now caring for an elderly grandfather too! Besides all of the fun that was had, and there was lots of fun (not much sleeping, but tons of fun)...I had the honor of watching the hand of God do some amazing things this past weekend.
Here are some shots of the fun!

Lake Swan (too cold to swim, well for most of us)
Here is me....truly getting away....dress was a little strange at a Mom of all boys, living in a house of all males all the time....dress-up is foreign to me (unless I am invisible girl or cat woman, or Mary)....So here I am in character!

Please don't ask!

I say if you are willing for me to take a picture must be willing to be posted on my blog....and she definitely understands that! This would be my Michelle!

This would be my Ida! Friend, and beautician!
This would be my Lovely Lori! The first woman I met at my church, the woman who instantly befriended a New Jerseyite, the woman who took me on my first retreat to Lake Swan, my sweet sister and beloved friend...we are always the last to leave the lake....we always go back to get one more shot! I love this girl!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dear God, It's Me, Lisa...

Hello my sweet Lisa.

Hi Lord, Oh I really need you today.

Oh Lisa, you really need Me everyday. What is it today my sweet daughter.

Well, where do I begin. Life was going great and then boom...illness strikes. It seems when it rains it pours. Kyle, Brendan and Shane are all struggling (at the same time) with high temperatures, bronchitis, stuffy noses and the whole upper respiratory thing. Everyone wants to be near me and needs me at the same time. My car has left me (and my children) stranded three times this week, Mike's Mom was admitted to the hospital again on Monday morning and....

Ok, Ok...come here my child. Come and just lay your head on my lap, will you? You know, I know all of this right? You know that I'm in control don't you? Now I also know that you are under the weather too and feverish as well. I know that it is exhausting trying to care for everyone especially when you feel like your head is going to explode and you have absolutely no energy. I also know you are anxiously awaiting your women's retreat this coming weekend and do not want to miss it for anything. Keep talking my sweet as I just stroke your hair.

Oh Father, that feels so good...peaceful...thank you. I do know that you understand and know all things. I also know that you are ever present in my life. Have you seen how Kyle has been lately? I don't know what to do for that child. When he is not well, sometimes, the whole world suffers. Lord, please give him some relief from his sickness so he can find his joy again.

Oh Lisa, you and I have gone down this road many times haven't we? Trust and thankfulness will get you safely through this day. Trust protects you from worrying and obsessing. Thankfulness keeps you from criticizing and complaining. Keeping your eyes on Me is the same thing as trusting Me. It is a free choice that you must make thousands of times daily.

I know Lord. I feel like this whole year I've been in Trust Training Camp. Some days I feel like it is my time to graduate, and then there are those time.... I know that the more I choose to trust You, the easier it becomes. It is as if thought patterns of trust become etched into my brain.

That is exactly how it is. Relegate troubles to the periphery of your mind, so that I can be central in your thoughts. Thus you focus on Me, entrusting your concerns into my care.

I always feel so much better after we spend time together. Thank you Lord for refreshing me. Thank you for loving me and loving on me too!

It is one of my favorite parts of my day Lisa, when you come to me and lay your head on my lap and let my love wash over you. Really, this is all you need, it is when I impart my strength to you. For when you are weak, I am strong. Now, your treasure of a husband is home. I have placed him in your life to be my hands and feet for you, to minister to you and allow you earthly rest. Enjoy this time. Go lie down and rest. I will continue to pour out my blessing upon you and your family. Don't you worry for even a moment my love, I have it all under control. Rest now.

Thank you Abba! I can't wait to spend some more time with you....maybe tonight, when everyone else is asleep! I love you!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Most Excellent Way

1 Corinthians 13

"And now I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

It is our tradition to read this every Valentine's Day. I pray that when my "superheros" grow up to be men someday that they will know what love is. I pray that they will understand that love is an activity and a behavior, not just an inner feeling or motivation. I pray that as men of God the will know that the Lord exalts Christlike character more than ministry, faith or the possession of spiritual gifts. God values and emphasizes character that acts in love, patience, kindness, unselfishness, hatred for evil and love for the truth, honesty and endurance in righteousness much more than faith to move mountains or to perform great achievements in the church. Please don't misunderstand, I want my children to do great and wonderful things for the kingdom of God and I want them to have faith to believe God and not just believe in Him. However, I do believe that what Paul is saying in this chapter is that God's love poured out within the believer's heart through the Holy Spirit is always greater than faith, hope or anything else. It is the most excellent way.

Friday, February 13, 2009

It's a Girl "Thang"

About 3 or 4 years ago the Lord introduced me to a wonderful friend named Carla. (Actually I have two wonderful friends named about that!?!) This Carla is a snowbird....she comes to Florida with her husband every fall and stays until spring and then off she goes to Michigan. She and I became fast friends as we drove to Bible Study every Wednesday night for months. We had the best times in her car. She has kind of adopted me as a daughter and I love her for it! My husband laughs because she has always been my standing date at our church's Ladies Christmas Tea and every year when we get back from the tea, we just sit in my driveway for hours talking...not kidding...hours! It is usually our first time to catch up since she gets back to Florida after being away for months.

I'm thankful that the Lord is faithful to place people in my life who love me like a daughter...I think of Grandma Carole (who I consider to be "real family" to me (not "like family")....thank you for sharing Tracy Catherine!)...I'm sure I'll be writing more about her in March when I get to see her (hopefully), and I think of my friend Cindy, and others like these, who have daughters of their own yet, who for some reason take me under their loving wing and shower me with motherly love as well!

Well, Carla invited a few women together to share dinner and have a girls night! It was fun. We had fresh shrimp that she and her husband had caught and then we sat around and shared a favorite bible verse. I shared from Titus 2, because I felt she was doing such a great job being a godly mentor to so many younger women.

Then we did some beading. Yup...not my cup of tea...but I tried. Through sweat and almost tears, I made a bracelet. My children will tell you, I do not have a "crafty" bone in my body. I decided my problem is I have a hard time seeing the final product. My son Kyle can totally see what his drawing will look like before he draws. Me...I see, black...nothing...just blank nothingness. That is exactly what I saw as she placed all of these beads before me. Oh, I sat with my baseball cap on, and my eyes hidden, as all of my friends easily went through the beads of their liking to make beautiful bracelets. Seriously, I thought I would much anxiety...but, I pressed on, my hand is present in that circle at the top of this blog (it's the hairiest arm...of course..oh and it's black...of course!) Here are some other photos from our fun Girls Night!
Some people are just natural at girly things...look how beautiful she is in all of her purple...(that's my Ms. Amanda).
Below is my Carla in the blue sweater!
Here is my you see that red band above that beautiful bracelet. She was a little anxious too, but you'd never know it by her end result!
Oh, and here below is my other Carla...hard at work...wearing a beaded bracelet made by her daughter! How sweet!
I have decided that this is why it is so important that I have regular Girls Nights.....I am surrounded by boys and men all day and night. I love it...don't misunderstand...but after feeling so "out of my element" with jewelry and beads and all things girly, I realized....I need these ladies in my life...desperately.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

And On The Seventh Day...

....He rested. Ahhh....We did have a time to rest and recoup from our international weekend (actually this fell smack dab in the middle of the international fest, but it was just what we needed to get ready for the next day!)

Here is what we did to rest. Introducing our new backyard fun....

Hanging with friends.....roasting marshmallows....on a cold Florida night....come on over...what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

And We're Off To Hawaii...

Whew...from Ancient Greece to Hawaii, I'm getting tired just remembering the weekend! Ok, is your mouth watering? My husband is an amazing cook. Above you see marinated pork tenderloin and pineapple kebabs, chicken teriyaki kebabs, pineapple chicken fried rice, and pineapple upside down cake. We had "virgin" pina coladas to drink and we gathered outside around the fire pit to roast some marshmallows to make smores (not quite Hawaiian I know, but a big hit with the kids!)

This was our way of taking Pop to Hawaii for his 91st birthday. What fun we had....just imagine Don Ho singing in the background...."Tiny Bubbles"...and Hawaiian music throughout the house and outside as well. The smell of pineapple, coconut and garlic....I could almost hear the ocean waves crashing on the is so is no wonder Pop wanted to go back to Hawaii for his birthday. We had a wonderful relaxing day at our home with family celebrating 91 years of a man we all love dearly. Here are some photos to remember Pop's special day!

Here he is with his 5 great grandchildren! WOW!
And I am (out by the fire pit with Shane)....I might add this...I managed to still lose 4.6 pounds this weekend, for a total of 10.8 lbs. so has been a month since joining Weight Watchers....I'm proud of has been an international food fest at my house lately!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Big Fat Greek Gathering

I didn't know how to blog this weekend. It was so full of excitement and great pictures that I decided to designate one blog to each event. This will cover our homeschool Greek Gathering. I think I mentioned that Brendan and I are studying Ancient Greece. This week we are comparing and contrasting the Athenians and the Spartans. However, for the past month we have been learning about Ancient Greece and Greek mythology. I decided in order to make this really come alive we should invite some homeschool friends over and go back in time to Ancient Greece and try to experience what it may have been like.

We had such a great time planning and an even greater time spending it with our friends. Here is how it went.

My friend Michelle is married to someone who is Greek and has family who actually knows how to speak and write in Greek. So I asked if she would give me a Greek greeting so my boys could greet their guests as they arrive and I also asked if she could bring each of the children's names written in Greek. How cool huh? Here is Brendan and some of the others getting ready to make their own name place for the dinner table.

After they wrote their names in Greek, we gathered together for a symposium. Many Greeks were great thinkers and philosophers. Particularly in Athens, people were encouraged to speak their mind. They gathered and ate grapes and nuts and talked about life. The kids did great. They came prepared to talk about what makes people happy and also discuss their favorite Greek god/goddess or hero of Greek mythology.

Then we went outside for the Olympic pentathlon. Five athletic events:
Throwing the javelin....(chopstick)

Hurling the discus...(Frisbee)

The long jump....

The 5k.....not quite....

Wrestling.....there was mixed company after all...we had to keep it civil

And all of the Olympic pentathlon participants were crowned with victory wreaths.

Then we did as the Greeks did best......we feasted. On the menu....(all homemade by the participants and their Moms by the way) spanikopita, moussaka, hummus, Greek salad dip.....

...and a little more baklava! A sweet ending to a sweet way of learning. Don't you want to be home schooled?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Game Family

Sacred Saturday (or Sunday) was so much fun! Ever since Mike and I met, we have always loved games. I am passionate about playing games! Ask anyone! Here is some of the fun we had as a family!

This is the Guess What I Am game. This is a hoot. It is kind of like the Guess Who game where you have to ask elimination questions. It is fun for all ages...believe me...we laughed hard!

However, this one takes the cake. By far one of my favorite games to play with my family! It was Kyle, Shane and myself against, Mike and Brendan....we was a blast!
We ended with one round of Jenga and then outside for some more fun! All in all...mission accomplished...we laughed hard and enjoyed being with each other all the while making memories!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

He Has Lived Through 10 Decades!

While my friend over here was celebrating the life of her 2 year old miracle, we were celebrating our 91 year old miracle, my husband's grandfather...Pop! Indeed he has lived through 10 decades. He was born February 3, 1918. Pretty impressive...more impressive is his memory of those days. As difficult as it can be caring for an elderly person sometimes, it is very rewarding as well. There are times that I cry because the weight of the task along with homeschooling my sons feels impossible. However, my boys are blessed beyond words to have an opportunity to live with the Great Grandfather...not too many boys can say that! Pop's health is amazing, all things considered. I can only hope someday, if I live to be 91 that my body would be in such shape. We do some physical therapy 2-3 times a day and I try to help him with his checkbook and I schedule and take him on all his doctor appointments as well as weekly trips to the store. His short term memory is not good at all, but he can tell great stories of his past...over and over and over again. We laugh because, many people can't stand to hear the same stories over again, I just feel like we are a great fit...I always say, young children love repetition! I am indeed thankful for opportunity to honor Pop in every way I can. He has been a blessing to my husband and I in so many ways. We love you Pop!

With Shane's help, we baked a homemade chocolate cake and I made homemade General Tso's Chicken for dinner, again from scratch. It was yummy! It disappeared so quickly I was unable to get a picture of the meal, but here is the dessert!

Prior to his birthday I asked Pop what he would like, he told me if he could he would go to Hawaii. Well, this Saturday, (we will save our Sacred Saturday for Sunday) we are going to have a Hawaiian Party right here at our home. We have already purchased the ingredients for some authentic Polynesian food and we've invited the entire family for a feast. So, stay tuned. We have lots of feasts coming up. Tomorrow, we are having a Greek Feast here at the house for some homeschool friends. We will be hosting a symposium, a pentathlon, and a Greek food feast! Lots of excitement.....never dull!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Long Walks on a Beach

When the weather is cool in Florida...the transplants love it! It reminds us of those times we call seasons. We don't get too many seasons in Florida. Well, we get seasons, summer just seems to last forever sometimes, so we love when the weather gets cool. Actually it got so cold this year that Mike had to scrape the car windshield with a metal spatula. Crazy huh?!

Well, in keeping with my Sacred Saturday tradition, we enjoyed a day at the beach, in the cool weather. We ran, we laughed we chased after each other and ran away from the tide. We just had a great time. We even let the kids use the camera to take some pictures to remember this day.

Brendan actually got a camera for Christmas this year. He is doing a great job! That is his shot above. Kyle was too busy signing his name to the sand. (Incidentally, he signs his name to everything. Or, like Zorro he leaves a "K" whenever possible. I've seen a few "K"s in some very inconspicuous spots at church....I had to get the sponge last week. UGH!)
The pictures below we taken by Shane. I think it is too funny to erase these.

Well, are you proud of me? I am in every single picture! I've been told to get over my issues with getting my picture taken. My big goal is to have a family portrait done for Christmas. Now that would be a huge deal!