Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This Is Why I Do VBS!!!

It is VBS week at our church this week. My kids talk about Vacation Bible School all day long! I love VBS. It is my time to give back to the Lord after all that He had done for me as a child. He rescued me when I was 7 years old! I love these kids!

We are only two days into it, but clearly Kyle's got a grasp of the truth! This is my Kyle...yes he is on the "spectrum", yes he has his "special issues", but man...this boy loves the Lord! He wrote and sang the song above before he went to sleep tonight! He really gets it! Thank you Jesus!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Shhhh...Listen Up

We live in a very busy, highly technical, loud world! Unless of course you are Amish or live in the country or just practice that laid back lifestyle. I don't really know what that is like. I used to live 10 minutes from New York City...the busiest place I know, when I moved to Florida I thought, life quieted down. It has a little, but not really. I am convinced that it just follows me. This week I am purposefully practicing slowing down. I need quiet time. Before I had children Mike and I would just sit and read for hours at night. Not so much anymore. Unless I'm reading to my children, I'm usually cleaning up, doing laundry, bathing children, doing bills, and the TV is usually on. UGH! By the time my boys are in bed there is still the every 15 minute check on them until the last one falls asleep and then finally, I have some time & I'm exhausted!

That is why I practice this: Psalm 5:3 "In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." For me, it is necessary...up before the family = quiet time!

You know why quiet is necessary? In 1 Kings 19 you read about Elijah, the prophet. To encourage and strengthen Elijah's faith, God visited him on Mout Horeb (ironically enough that mountain means mountain of revelation, cool huh?)! This is what happened:

"v.11-12: Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave."

This visitation was accompanied by a great wind, earthquake and fire, but the Lord was in none of those events. Instead, God's revelation came in the form of a "gentle whisper." Elijah learned that God's work proceeds and advances "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit," says the Lord Almighty" (Zec. 4:6). God had in fact not deserted his prophet or his faithful people. By his Spirit and eternal work, he would bring redemption, righteousness and eternal salvation.

Seriously, I don't know about you, but I need to hear from God. It is essential to my life...like breathing in and out!

Do you wonder sometimes if your prayers are hitting the ceiling and not reaching Heaven? Have you been so busy with life that you can't hear the Lord clearly? Do you feel anxious, worried, frustrated?

Wait quietly in His presence while His thoughts form silently in the depths of your soul. Do not try to rush that process, because hurry keeps our hearts earthbound! He is the Creator of the entire universe, yet He chooses to make His humble home in our hearts. It is there where we can know Him most intimately; it is there where He speaks to us in holy whispers. Let's remember to ask the Holy Spirit to quiet our minds so that we can hear His still, small voice within us. After all, what He says will make a difference. He speaks words of Life...Peace...Love. Ahhh...that is the way I want to start every single day!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tan Skin & Pink Toes

This is my favorite week of the summer so far! Just me and my boys, relaxing by the pool. Reading good books, playing Legos & learning to swim in the deep end!

Here are a few shots of our relaxing week!
If my family reads this blog...the picture above is very cool! Kyle has finally learned to swim in the deep end. Actually I think that he has always had the ability, but not the courage....the difference is the goggles! I had him try to swim without them and sure enough, he will not open his eyes under water...so he had a lump the size of an egg on his head from smashing into the side of the pool!
The boys are in the pool for about 5 hours a day...at least! They just love it! When they get out, I get in and do some laps! In the meantime...I relax in the sun and shade with a book!

He is such a cutie!
Tan Skin...pink toes!

Monday, June 22, 2009

How To Keep Cool & Stick To Your Diet at Disney

We had a wonderful day in the Magic Kingdom for the twins birthday. They got the royal treatment! It was a Friday and it was 95 degrees. Why is it important that I share those two details? Well, I weigh in at Weight Watchers on Saturdays and it was ridiculously hot outside (hence the title of this blog!). I didn't want to register a gain on the scale the next day so I had to be very careful not to splurge in the land of milk & honey!

Here we are on the boat to the magic Kingdom, after our pep talk about going slow and keeping cool!

So the recipe to keeping cool in the dead of summer at Disney goes like this:
ride Splash Mountain (get soaked) then ride Thunder Mountain (get dried), then repeat 4 times. Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain....Great Fun! (By the way, just a plug for Disney. If you have a child with special needs, they give you a pass to get on everything without the wait! Thank you Disney for blessing us!) Then Kyle discovered this: A fountain in front of the First Aid Station. Yes we ended up in the First Aid. Shane sliced the skin right off of his finger and it wouldn't stop bleeding. Fun!
The other way to stay cool is to go into all of the air conditioned attractions. Here are my boys preparing to get their permit to carry a weapon!

And here we are purchasing hats...the gifts shops are freezing cold!

Then of course there is always this:
This is not Weight Watcher friendly, so I set out to find something cool and refreshing and free (free as in the value of points on Weight Watchers). Where there is a will...there is a way!

Chilled (packed in Ice) Sour Dill Pickles...YUMMO! I love pickles and yes they are free on Weight Watchers and only $ .95...so we purchased a few for the road! This little stand in Liberty Square sells fresh fruit, veggies and ice cold pickles!
So there we are above...staking our spot for the fire works and evening light show...soaking wet from, you guessed it Splash Mountain! We had a wonderful magical day. My kids were amazing, we were there for 12 hours straight! We just love Disney. We miss having our Annual Passes, but we enjoy it every time we go!
Kyle and Brendan both agreed: This was the best birthday EVER!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Umbrella God Gave Me

Almost 20 years ago God gave me an umbrella and I am so thankful!

An umbrella according to Webster is the following:

1. A device for protection from the weather consisting of a collapsible, usually circular canopy mounted on a central rod. (Ok we get this one!)

2. a. Something that covers or protects. b. Air cover, especially during a military operation. (both a. & b. very good - I'll be focusing on this one!)

3. Something that encompasses or covers many different elements or groups. (& this one too - interesting)

4. Zoology :The gelatinous, rounded mass that is the major part of the body of most jellyfish. (I had to keep this in here...this was new to me! :))

It is not uncommon for me to be in my car waiting for the rain to let up just a little so I can run to my destination without getting soaked. Where is that umbrella? Oh, in my closet or in the trunk of my car! Been there before? Well, I learned very early never to be out and about without that special umbrella that God gave me 20 years ago!

When I say that I am thankful for this umbrella, I know that particular word does not do justice to how my heart overflows with gratitude. While we live in a fallen world it is impossible to dodge all "inclement" situations. It could be too much sun (and boy did I wish I had an umbrella yesterday at the beach..I am burned to a crisp today!). It could be pouring down rain! Both of which, if caught without your umbrella, can leave you feeling miserable. Think about those moments in life when you are caught in a storm. It could be finances, relationships, illnesses, stress, anxiety....all very inclement wouldn't you agree?

Twenty years ago God gave me an umbrella that I was to have and to hold till death do us part! That would be my husband. What attracted him to me when we first met 20 years ago (we will be married 19 years in December) was his heart for God and his love and passion to see people come to Jesus. Twenty years ago I served on a campus ministry team with this very wise man with a passion for Christ! His knowledge, understanding, and love of the Word of God, and his desire to serve God with all of his heart stood out among all others in my world! He is my umbrella. I learned very early on in my marriage to allow him that role that God gave him in my life and it has served me well. He is my protector, my coverage, and I am thankful that he is wise! That is why when women snicker about submission, I know they must not really understand what it means. Simply put (and believe me I can write a whole other blog about that subject alone) it just means standing under that umbrella that God gave you! For me, as I sit with my skin as hot as can be from sunburn, (who knew you could get burned even though you had a great tan already!?) I sit thankful for the umbrella God gave me in a Godly husband. We hold each other accountable to be students of the Word and we pray together and for each other! I love my umbrella & he is never stuck in my car trunk or in my closet! Thank you Lord for my handsome umbrella!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Shhhh....It's a Sneak Peek!

Today is my twins 8th birthday! I have mentioned several times about the books that we get them instead of cards. We write a very meaningful and heartfelt letter in the front cover of their books with memories of the past year, and prayers for this coming one. Well, I just finished their books while they are still sleeping I thought I would give you a sneak peek.

You can see that only Kyle & Brendan get the books today...Shane will get his on Tuesday! Each boy however, is receiving a new Tee Shirt because...well...because we are going to Disney World! If it is your birthday you get to go to Disney for FREE!! So we get 2 for FREE today! (So Shane's little card says..."Because we love you Shane!" and he gets a shirt too.)

More on the book choices when I get their reaction on camera! Both of these books are amazing (and really so perfect for this past year and what my children have been asking, experiencing and dreaming about lately!) I can't wait for them to wake up....well, actually...I need to go to sleep and pray they sleep in just a little!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What Anonymous Said!

I laugh because if you read the comments to my blog below you can read what Anonymous said and it is true. I have been distracted lately. I think about that often. My friend Michelle told me that my blogs do not have to always be deep and meaningful if you blog often. So the pressure doesn't need to be there to make it "book" worthy (because I'm writing a book I feel like everything I write must be placed in my book)! If that were the case, really, no one would have enough time or energy to read anything I have written.

I must confess to whomever Anonymous is that it is not only FB, it is Skype as well. Recently we got connected (ironically through FB) to close friends of ours who live in the Philippines. Bruce and Jane were some of the closest friends we had when we were married and in college. We went through the birth of all three of their beautiful daughters with them and went through some of the most difficult times with them as well. We have been out of contact for 12 years only to have found each other last week. So to say I have been distracted, it would be a true confession and for that I am sorry, but for the richness in my relationships (and having a webcam is amazing)...well, if you know me relationships mean so very much to me!

So I'm here and I'm about to write another post...when it rains...it pours!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Few Words on Prayer

One of my favorite quotes recently is the following:

"If you pray and you believe God will answer, then it works, I know, I have done this all week!" Brendan Engel my almost 8-year old son! We have spent the last two months reading and savoring this book! If you haven't read it you must! George Muller is certainly one of the heroes of my faith!
Last week we had the stomach flu in this house. I prayed that the Lord would spare me. It started on a Saturday night and it lasted 9 days. I was the last to experience the worst of it! My soon to be 6 year old prayed diligently for me to "not get sick" and I believed...just like George Muller (sorry no more details today...run and get that book)! When Shane woke up on Saturday morning to see me on the floor of my bathroom, he literally fell to his face! I asked him what was wrong, because that is sad posture! He said he was sad because "God didn't answer my prayers!"

Let me preface this with the fact that I felt wonderful the day before, and we both rejoiced all day long about how God answered prayer! So for him to see me sick was devastating (not to mention that every day he woke up someone else was sick...poor guy!) I sat him on my bed and told him this..."Shane, God did indeed answer your prayer, and He did it in two ways! First, he spared Mommy for so long so that I could easily care for my family (all three kids, a 91-year old grandfather and a husband), and for that I am grateful. Secondly, he created my body so uniquely that when something is inside of it that is making it sick...my body forces it out...and I am not sick anymore! So He is healing me as we speak! Is that awesome? I love God for being so awesome!" Shane did feel better after this conversation. We spoke about the different type of answers to prayer, like yes, no, wait! Ahhh...the lessons we learn!

Prayer is the natural thing in my home...and my boys see it all the time! I remember being pregnant with Shane, my twins were not even 2 yet, we all gathered in my kitchen and Mike and the boys laid hands on my womb and prayed for our baby Shane that God would spare his life. I have seen the power of prayer first hand many many times!

So Brendan, last night, prays his prayer and explains again the key is believing. Kyle prays beautifully, in his special way! Then Shane prays...it is so precious...I really wish you could be a fly on the wall! There little hearts are full of serious stuff that is unique to them. After everyone has prayed including me, I sang a few songs and I was about to leave and this is what comes out of Brendan:

"Mom, I'm kind of in the mood for ham, I think I will just pray for a piece of ham to appear right on my bed. Do you think that will happen?" "Brendan really? Do you think that would happen?" "If I pray for it...God can do it!" "Yes, He CAN do anything, but He WILL do His will. He doesn't do magic tricks for you, He has provided food for us before, but He is most likely not going to make ham appear on your bed right now because you have a hankering for some pork babe!" I knew he meant what he said...I used to pray that I would wake up skinny...I never did..because what would I gain from that! He is in the business of doing what is best for me. I told Brendan this same thing. "I think I will pray anyway Mom!" A few minutes after his prayer everyone laid silent until Kyle piped in from the top bunk bed..."Well, Brendan, do you got any ham?"

I can just see my Jesus slapping Himself on the knee and roaring with laughter! I love that my kids are learning about prayer and believing God and not just in God! I couldn't imagine a life without Jesus.

I will confess here at the end, because if you stuck with reading this blog to the end then you deserve one more chuckle....I secretly waited all day for some form of pork to appear at our door. None came, but yet I will rejoice!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Let The Count Down Begin!

Soon it will be birthday week here in the Engel home. With Kyle & Brendan's birthday on the 12th and Shane's on the 16th! The official count down began on the 2nd of June. Why? Because as my almost 8 year old said..."You always count down from 10 Mom!" 10...9...8...7... Yes, 9 more days and my twins will be 8. Oh my goodness! I always get choked up! I promise not to go into all of the drama of my pregnancy and birth. (do a search for infertility tags and you can read more details if you like). For any new readers, I was a fertility patient for 10 years...Kyle & Brendan were the first out of 14 babies that survived an almost full term pregnancy....and I almost died giving birth...4 days in and out of a coma...10 days in the hospital...raising twins every since! There, that is all the drama in a nutshell!

Ok, now for the fun! I figured since most of my family and friends who read this blog already know my story I would just put a few pictures in to journal the beginning of this journey! Since pictures paint a thousand words...well then...that is a whole lot less typing for me!
The picture above was designed and constructed by a woman in my life who prophetically spoke into my life directly regarding my pregnancy and birth of my children. She purchased my two cribs before I was even through my first trimester because the Lord clearly spoke to her at a Christmas Eve service. It was "touch and go" for these babies, and to hear her say the Lord told her to purchase two cribs was sweet news to my heart! Then while I was on continued bed rest..she called again and said she was showering and the Lord clearly showed her a phrase that she knew to be mine for this pregnancy. "To God be the glory, great things He hath done!" A song that I sang in my heart for many years on my fertility journey! She and her husband were over my apartment designing and decorating!
Here are my boys 8 weeks three days! What a familiar, but wonderful sight! I had ultrasounds done every two weeks in the beginning and every week during my second trimester and twice a week in my third. I have way too many ultrasound pictures I can't count!
Here they are again around 5 months! A new and glorious sight to be seen!
The picture below was taken at about 5 months as well!
Seriously, I looked about 12 months here! Yup 5 months! You should have seen me at 8 when I gave birth! HA!
Ahh...home at last! Two babies...7lbs each! I chose not to show hospital pictures..you know me getting 8 blood transfusions...just not pleasant to look at! That would be Brendan with his mouth opened...I am pretty sure if I looked now it would still be opened!
I want to give a shout out to whomever invented the pacifier or Binky as we called it!

"I LOVE YOU!" I love these two pictures! I have thousands...as you can imagine...these were among my top thousand favorites!
This following picture was taken when they were approximately 3 months old...my first day out of the house...I had a car accident! However, my friend Janet Cox and I still decided to brave the mall! I love this picture because there is my Kyle comforting his brother Brendan. He used to do this a lot. Ironically enough, when Brendan and Kyle were in Kindergarten, Brendan hated the cafeteria (hated school in general) and the staff would allow Kyle to go give Brendan a hug every day even though they were not in the same class..because it made Brendan feel better! Awwwe!
My boys and their fascination with baskets! Perhaps it began here! They were such happy babies! Possibly because the had the happiest parents in the world!
You cannot read the letter I wrote to them on this collage, but it is the first of 7 I have written. Every year I write a new letter to each of my boys and give it to them in a very special book. (This first year they got books too, but there is never any room to write in those books that are touch and feel friendly for one year olds!) On this poster are pictures of their first year of life...along with little nick names and memories! Very special! To end this post I will write the letter I wrote below!
Dear Kyle and Brendan,
Happy 1st Birthday! Mommy & Daddy love you so much! You are our precious priceless treasures from God! We have had the most amazing year with the two of you in our lives. Nothing could have prepared us for the joy you have brought to us! May you grow in God! We pray that the next year brings more smiles, giggles, hugs & kisses, but more importantly we pray that as you develop and mature you learn that you are loved so very deeply by Mommy and Daddy, but most of all by the Author of love Himself...Jesus! Love Always, Mommy & Daddy June 12, 2002

Cherry Boy!

I am just so in love with fruit! You think I have a lot of turtle pictures (see blog below) you should see the number of fruit pictures I have! HA! Anyway, I love cherries! Don't they look delicious! Last week I purchased some cherries, but I was afraid no one would be able to enjoy them because we had a stomach virus running wild in this house! It lasted 10 days and it included everyone....including our 91 year old Pop! Oh how fun! So this was Wednesday when, since I wasn't sick yet, decided to pull out the cherries for Shane and I. He is my child when it comes to good food! He had been bugging me to wash the cherries so I did! Then....I remembered how "unfun" cherries were with children.

Why? Well let's see:
1. They stain; fingers, clothes, anything else the child touches.
2. It looks like the above picture.after being chewed and spit out a few times...so not to swallow the pit! (clearly I was not interested in things being spit out of any one's mouth by our 4th day of stomach virus & everyone missing the toilet!)
3. I have to do the next picture!

Yes...always fun! Do they have some kind of instrument that takes the pits out of cherries? Pampered Chef must...if you know of something will you comment please!

However, when all is said and done...this makes all of that labor of love worth my time and effort! Sadly, that night...guess who got the stomach virus! Yup...that would be my cherry boy! Oh I am so thankful I can laugh about it now!