Monday, October 31, 2011

We Are Acts 29

The book of Acts, all 28 chapters, penned by Luke and breathed by God to recount the triumphant spread of the Gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit. I will at times here people mention the book of Acts and refer to it as the book that talks about the Acts of the Apostles. While that is somewhat true, we mustn't forget that we too are "Apostles" in the general sense of the who has received a mission from God (there are many many missions...Acts 1:8 says "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.") We are in fact, ambassadors for Christ.

So why Acts 29? It is the continuation of the book of Acts...we, His people, are chapter 29. So, one of the best sermons preached by one of my favorite pastors and friend was yesterday morning. He explained Acts 29 and instead of preaching a sermon we were going to be the sermon. He worked it out with our local food store and they were ready for Edgewater Alliance Church (all 400 plus people) to shop for our local food pantries and pregnancy center. It was an incredible site!
We packed the place out! I would say 80% of the shoppers were from EAC. I got a little choked up watching everyone enjoy their shopping spree. Outside was a huge truck prepared to go and make the deliveries and our church staff was standing outside collecting turkey vouchers to help with Thanksgiving Dinner. This spoke volumes to our boys, whom have seen the Mighty Hand of God move in our home and lives on a regular does your heart good when you are doing the work of the Lord.
Picture credit Kinsey Whittet - I was whisked away before I could get this shot!

So thankful for the bountiful blessings that come from loving and serving my Lord and loving and serving my community. On this day, I had another extra special honor. Right in the parking lot of this store was a woman who needed a different kind of love. She needed the love of a mother, a sister, a woman. Something so horrific had happened in her world, she came to our church looking for someone to minister to her. One of my pastors introduced us and off I went. Left my husband and sons at the store and she and boyfriend drove me away so that I could talk with her in private. We were strangers, yet I held her in my arms, prayed for her and loved on Mom to another. When she left she was uplifted by the love of Jesus and the hope we find in Him alone. When I got home, my phone rang and it was an older woman who is a member of another church in our town, yet comes to Bagels & Blessings regularly. She and I talk and pray frequently. She called to tell me her 91 year old mother died suddenly on Friday. She cried on the phone as I approached the Throne again. We ended our conversation with worship and thanksgiving, so thankful to be doing this journey of life together.

As I reflect on a pretty perfect Sunday and a beautiful palpable sermon...I continue with my 1000 list of gratitude.

Thank you, my precious Lord and Heavenly Father for..

210. The blessing of giving.

211. Opportunities to love one another in different ways.

212. An amazing church family and gifted Pastor who hears from the heart of God.

213. Beautiful weather for wonderful walks with my super family!

214. The gift of time...learning to treasure it every day.

215. Your incredible provision.

216. Binding up the brokenhearted.

217. Healing wounds too deep to even imagine.

218. Friendships that span generations.

219. Tears that are caught by you...because only you know what to do with them. ♥

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Cookie Chronicles 4th Ed.

Cookie #10
October 28, 2011
Candy Corn Cookie Bark
Lisa's Choice

Found this recipe on The Girl Who Ate Everything's Blog. There are so many wonderful blogs that I love to read. She actually credits another website, so if you are interested feel free to follow the link (she a professional so her photography is beautiful). So the story behind the cookie (there is always a story right?!) is that my son Brendan couldn't choose a cookie because he was "sweeted out" - all because we made these this week too...
Remember, the caramel apples? Well, he really couldn't commit to a cookie and I couldn't let a week go by without inscribing the next edition of The Cookie Chronicles, so I decided to make a different kind of cookie for a harvest party that we will be attending on Monday night.

Take a closer look at these ingredients. This is something that I never ever do....substitute. If a recipe calls for butter, I use butter, if it calls for exact measurements, I use exact measurements. Remember, I'm not a cook, I just love to bake. I could not find almond bark/white chocolate candy melts anywhere local. I mean I'm talking, WalMart, Winn-Dixie, Publix, Target, K-Mart...I had to use what was in my I had to combine white chocolate baking squares, white chocolate chips, and some white bark. This killed me. My husband laughed at me, my best friend laughed at me, but it really troubled me that I didn't have the exact ingredients. I did however weight the white sweetness on the scale and that was indeed exact. (Also called for the orange colored filling in the oreos..something else I was unable to find.)

The 2nd issue I had with this "cookie" was that it didn't require any baking...I think I'm only good with baking cookies...this was not my thing. My children loved crushing up all the ingredients and even my husband got involved by melting the chocolate, while I consulted the website to follow the "exact" instructions. It was a messy ordeal, but fun and extremely sweet.
Here is the final result. I allowed the children to sample a few pieces of bark and they absolutely loved it - me..not so much. Way too sweet for my liking. I have a feeling it will be a hit among the young people at Monday's party. The final issue with this particular cookie is that it isn't going into my cookie jar. So the jar is empty. Sad isn't it? Feels strange to have this beautiful jar sitting empty. Next week it will be filled again...until then we will talk, ponder and dream about the next pleasurable delight that will fill my glass cookie jar, because after all, we all need a little sweet now and then.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Faster Than A Speeding Bullet

It seems just yesterday they were drooling on their shirts and riding in any basket I had available.

Then before I could say..."Faster than a speeding bullet"...
They're going bike riding on their own...and lovingly picking up important items for Mom and Dad...

What is going on here? How do they grow up so fast. Today was a classic moment that I knew I had to journal. My 10 year old has been riding his bike alone for about month now. I know, that is so "big girl" of me. He rides all over our neighborhood..he goes about 10 miles a has become his sport of choice. Good for him. Today 10/26/11, he took his little brother on a superhero adventure..and did they ever get an they will not soon forget!

He takes younger 8 year old brother (a padawan or "Jedi apprentice") for a bike ride, together, (without me) all the way to Duncan Donuts. Younger brother buys big brother a bottle of water from Duncan Donuts and big brother calls to check in with Mom. (Very Important) This is how the conversation went on the phone..."Hi Mom, Shane did so well, you would be so proud of him, he was really obedient...hold on Mom...Shane, do you have your wallet?, ok good go wash your hands now...Anyway, Mom, he did great we're going to check out this bookstore and maybe go to Chick-Fil-A...I'll call before we head home." He is such a mini me! Looking out for his kid brother..I am really proud..but wait the story continues...

At the bookstore, young son purchases a book (he has millions of books at home, but I understand the book addiction thing). The woman at the bookstore sadly tells the boys that she does not have a bag to put their purchase in. They get outside only for Shane to realize, how do I hold on to my handle bars and carry a water and a book? (Brendan is an old pro and always wears big pockets to put his water in)...Being the older brother Brendan suggests they go to Winn-Dixie to get a bag. (Remember they have their water bottles and young son has a book as well). They stroll into the store and nonchalantly go to take a bag off of the self check out lane and begin to walk to the doors. "HOLD IT!" shouts the clerk. "What do you boys think you are doing? Did you pay for that water?" Brendan's face (I'm picturing) turns pale and he speaks up, "We bought this at Duncan Donuts." "Oh you did? Well, lets see that receipt!" Brendan turns to his little brother and says.."Shane do you have a receipt?" " didn't give me one" Shane speaks softly. Brendan speaks up on his brother's behalf, "He didn't get a receipt, he didn't know. We were just trying to get a bag because he bought a book and can't hold the water and the book and his handle bars on his bike...I promise..that is the truth." The woman let them go. When they got outside, Brendan placed his brother's things in the bag and made sure he was ok. (Very proud Mommy moment here!)

He brings his young brother to Chick-Fil-A where they go up to the counter to ask for Mr. Smith..a friendly face (owner of this Chick-Fil-A) and a friend...Shane shares what happened and is comforted by Mr. Smiths smile and some french fries of course! I love that my boys found a little oasis on their journey through this rough world - so very glad we have such wonderful friends all over this neighborhood. The boys ride home, bag on the handlebars and a little more grown up than when they left.

So they may be growing faster than a speeding bullet, and at times they may feel more powerful than a locomotive and think they are now able to leap tall obstacles in a single bound....but when the rubber "tires" hit the road, I as a superhero Mom must be sure my superheros have the ability to LOOK UP...and recognize it is not a plane, not a bird, but a God that is firmly rooted in their hearts and minds that they can lean upon when life brings it scary and challenging moments. As for me, I thought I handled all of that just fine..until 10 minutes after being home my boy comes running over to me yelling with great excitement and pride..."Mom, come look!! (he proceeds to raise his hand in the air and points to his armpit) you see it? I have a hair under my arm!" Yup, I'm just undone!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sometimes I Just Sing

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." Psalm 91:1
I once read a true story about an English steamer that wrecked on a rocky coast. I don't remember where exactly. Twelve women survivors set out into the dark stormy waters in a lifeboat and the sea carried them away from the wreckage. They didn't have any oars, they were basically at the mercy of the wind and the waves. They must have been terrified...they spent the entire night being tossed by the raging sea! They most likely would have lost all hope if not for one woman who was known for her faith and her voice. She calmly prayed aloud for protection, then encouraged the others to put their trust in the Lord and to sings hymns of comfort. Throughout the midnight hours her voice rang out across the raging water. Early the next morning a search team did come out looking for survivors. The man who was steering the rescue boat would likely have missed the women in all the fog if he had not heard a woman singing. Steering in the direction of her voice, he spotted the lifeboat and these women were rescued.

It reminds me of how I handle some of my storms. I'm big on prayer! Pray first - silently or out loud! I also sing! This photo is one is from Michelle Meiklejohn (giving credit where credit is due) guitar looks similar, except at this point...I need to string it! I love to sing in the privacy of my own room, to my audience of One. I majored in music and theater when I was in college and so instruments came easy. Guitar is by far my worship instrument of choice. There have been many many times I would escape to my room, especially in the midst of a storm, and sing praises. I would sing softly at times, but then other times I would sing like my life depended on it!

I find great comfort in worshiping! I don't always need my guitar. It has been without strings for months, so I use the instrument God gave to me (he gave one to you too), my voice. I will often find myself singing old hymns of faith. I get totally lost with Him, my true Rescuer! So how do I practice faith in the midst of fear, storms, adversity?..."There is a Fountain", "His Eye is On The Sparrow", "It Is Well With My Soul", "Blessed Assurance". Try it! As you practice turning your thoughts to your True Rescuer, you may just find yourself resting and relaxing right in His arms. What better place to be when the storm is overwhelming or the sea of responsibilities are overtaking you! Just sing!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I'm Not An Unfit Mother!

Did that title get ya? Well, what I mean is, if I ate everything I baked or made..well, I might be unfit. So, in case you follow my weight loss journey, please fear not..I may take a tiny bite, but I'm not gonna blow it! I'm still losing weight..have 30 pounds to go. Once I'm through with fighting this anemia I will have my energy back and we'll be back to running 4 miles a day. So, doing the cookie baking and the candy creations...well, that is more for memory making with my superheros than anything else..oh and blessing others (practicing hospitality). So here is what we did today.

We always do caramel apples, every fall. This was my test bunch..I've never allow for such creativity before! Boy did my superheros love it! Not sure today was the best day, we went to the dentist today...Shane had a cavity filled and Brendan had two extractions and Kyle..he had a cleaning and absolutely no cavities! Should we really be making these today? Who felt right when we sorted through all the sugar!
 Not exactly sure why I only got Kyle in on the pictures. He was just a ham today!

 It took some time to separate all of those lovely colors -- Teamwork!  Reeces Pieces, mini M&Ms, candy corn sprinkles...

So here they are. Really this was experimental. Some tips I learned (from trial and error) must scrub those apples, especially if they are store bought and not fresh picked..must get that wax off. Then I probably should have let them set for just a tiny bit longer..that is why there is some slippage on the Reeces Pieces Caramel Apple. Kyle made a Boba Fett Apple there with the green and brown (I don't see it, but Kyle does..that is all that matters). Then below is my personal favorite.
Doesn't that look decadent. Caramel apple..I cooled that off in the refrigerator, then melted some white chocolate chips (had those left over in my cupboard from the cherry vanilla chip cookies). Spread the white chocolate over the caramel and sprinkled it with cinnamon sugar (also left over from making snikerdoodles). I think it is called Caramel Apple Pie Apple or something like is all over the Internet this fall!

Well, my children loved doing this "art" project. That is what we're calling it! Homeschoolers have the ability to stretch outside the box for subject matter. Our favorite art teacher returns to us from Michigan in just another week! Thanks for peeking into my art class today.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Galactic Promises of Hope

"Then He brought Abraham outside and said, 'Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.'" - Genesis 15:5
On Saturday, October 22nd at about 5:00am my children and I sat on the beach at witnessed a beautiful display of "cosmic litter" as the earth passed through a trail of dust left by Halley's Comet. It is called the Orionids Meteor Shower. This particular meteor shower is dubbed Orionids because it appears to emanate from the constellation Orion.

As we stood there and looked at all the stars on this amazingly clear yet dark sky, it made me think of when the Lord had Abraham look out at the stars. I remember a time when Abraham's promise of hope was my hope as well. Trying to get pregnant for so long and believing God had children in my future regardless of the number of failed pregnancies I was all I could do to hold onto the promises God had given me.

My son Brendan has a knack for seeing those constellations. For me it is so difficult. I need someone to "connect the dots" in order to see it. In a way, when we are staring at the sky..all of those dots remind us of a picture of Hope. When God showed Abraham the stars and asked him to count them, He was giving him hope that the promise He had made to him, that he would have a son, was coming.

Whenever the sky is clear at night, I encourage you to do some stargazing! To me, the stars are a picture of God's hope--for me, for my family, for the world! Looking at the sky and then seeing the sun rise up over the beautiful ocean, is one of the best ways to get our earthly life back into perspective and realize in God's infinite universe, He has a specific plan for us, just as He did for Abraham...oh, and it is a good plan!

Upon reflecting on the promises of God, I humbly continue with my gratitude list or my 1000 gifts:

Thank you Lord for...

200. Your enormity - God of the universe - yet you still love me and care about me!

201. Time for special memories made with my arrows.

202. Promises fulfilled and unfulfilled which keeps exercising my faith.

203. The vast beauty all around that keeps my heart warm and grateful.

204. Your were back in Abraham's time the same as you ARE now!

205. Redemption!

206. Direction....a path that is hidden in You...the only path I would choose.

207. My daily Bread...sustaining me...uplifting me...teaching me!

208. Being my solid Rock..the only one to bring stability and security to my often times crazy life!

209. A husband whose hand I can hold as we journey through our "dash" as a couple.

"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:17 ESV

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Cookie Chronicles 3rd Ed.

Cookie #9
October 20, 2011
Chocolaty Drop Cookies
Shane's Choice

I am realizing that chocolate cookies do not photograph well with a smartphone. Someday perhaps I'll invest in a real camera. Anyway, its not about the photography, its about the memories. These cookies are Shane's pick. He actually chose these cookies last time, but I couldn't find mini M&Ms...they sell them at Walmart, just not the food stores. So these cookies were highly anticipated by my cute little rock star of a superhero.
What fun we had planning this day. Our friend Mrs. Michelle came to help me spruce up my blog, you will notice a difference eventually, she is secretly working her magic behind the scenes right now. We cannot have Mrs. Michelle over and not have a party. It is kind of a tradition with my boys. The last time she came, we sat in their mess of a bedroom and had a fantastic party with music, games and a granola bar cake. Good memories. She is a very special lady, and we just love her. You can catch her blog right here.

To make it even more special, it really was her birthday just the day before. So we treated her to flowers and a balloon and Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Muffins, as well as peanut butter and honey sandwiches. I know we really go all out! :) While the boys were pining for her attention I was able to finish the cookies. These may look like really yummy kid friendly cookies, but I must be honest, only one of my children (Shane) really loved them. They are not sickeningly sweet, I think it has more of a dark cocoa flavor..goes very good with coffee. Mr. Incredible loved them, but my twins had no problem saying they were NOT bad cookies, but...not their favorite. The picture below makes me laugh because I totally have another picture of Michelle doing that very thing. It's a sign of love for the cookie...I promise!  

Not sure who will be trying these cookies yet, but I want to update and let you know that last week (after publishing the 2nd Edition), we were able to deliver a butterfly net to another friend as well as a sampling of the Cherry Vanilla Drop Cookies....
..they were a hit! We are thrilled to share the love! That is what it is all about, the memories around the cookies! We have realized that there is always a reason to celebrate. Maybe its not your birthday or a holiday, but it is a new day and it is a day that the Lord has made, so we rejoice in Him and that is reason enough to celebrate. So how are you going to celebrate your day today? Let me know, and in the meantime stay tuned to the next edition of The Cookie Chronicles and remember to celebrate something today...because we all need a little sweet now and then.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Honor, a showing of respect. My husband and I moved to Florida for two reasons. One, his Mom was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer and we thought she might enjoy getting to know her grandsons, and two, his Pop was living alone and could use someone to live with him. As time went on, it became a blessing for both Mike and Pop. We are grateful for our time with him. My boys had the rare opportunity to spend 8 years with their Great Grandfather. They had an opportunity to learn respect for the elderly. Then, in his final years with us, we all had an opportunity to understand like, no one else, what it is like to live with someone we love who suffers with Dementia/Alzheimer's . Taking care of Pop was my husband's way of honoring his grand father and his mother and teaching his boys to do the same. (You wonder why I call him Mr. Incredible?)

Back on August 5th, we helped Pop move into his new home, a Brookdale Community specifically for people with his condition...Clare Bridge Assisted Living. It is an amazing facility! My husband did his research and it really paid off!

The day we dropped him off was not easy. There were some serious tears. We lived with the latter stages of this disorder for at least 3 years. Some of the symptoms that we all endured were: (aside from always having to be with him, and in the last year, he really needed qualified people to watch him for more than a couple of hours, so we never ever went out as a family for more than that.) being woken up 2-3 times a night every night, restlessness during the day, assisting in eating, toileting and bathing, having to be extremely heightened to germs, (keeping all of our food hidden do to that very reason), waking up the children, wandering out of the house...the list could go on. We do it because we love saying goodbye to him that day, was really hard. How can anyone love him like we do?

It took its toll on my children for sure. Especially this boy right here. My sweet Brendan. He has suffered a great deal. For well over a year the boy could not sleep a whole night through. He would wait so he could hear Pop calling for Mike in case Mike couldn't hear him. On rare occasions, Mike and I would leave the boys and Pop with someone for a couple of hours..just for some alone time, however, Brendan would be the one to talk Pop into sitting down and not wandering outside. Brendan would hear the conversations Mike would have with Pop about not doing certain things because he might burn down the house. Brendan has had to see Pop in situations that no child really ever should see. So, it took its toll on him pretty hard. Brendan began to show signs of depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsiveness.

It really was the right timing. No matter what it was that forced our hand..the timing was God's all along. My husband received a scholarship to go to nursing school so if Pop were not in a home I would have had to care for him myself. I know that God has given me Grace for the moment before and he would have given me grace to get through if that was His will, but with all of my heart, I know that it was not His will. We could endure no more.

This is Pop about a month after moving him in to his new home. That place is amazing! He is so happy, well taken care of and gets to wander to his hearts content. Oh the love runs deep! Our time spent with him is a joy! We are thankful for our relationship. Brendan is healing, slowly but surely, and we as a family are healing as well. We continue to honor Pop and respect his 93 years of life on earth. My boys have a treasure in the memories made with Pop and we have all learned a valuable lesson in Honor.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sharing Faith = Tangible Love

Before we had children we had very strong beliefs on how we would raise them. They were not always popular with some family members or friends, but we had a very long time to think about raising children. While much of what we planned on doing seemed intentional, really it was just the way we lived our own lives as husband and wife. There are more things our children learn by observation than by instruction.

I remember a time in my pregnancy with Shane that the doctors thought he was not going to make it. He had sent me home with very little hope. My husband sat with me in the kitchen and while we both cried out to Jesus he brought his 16 month old twins into the kitchen and laid their little hands on my womb next to his and we, as a family prayed for baby Shane. This was the beginning of practicing our faith in our children. Mr. Incredible and I are very aware of the hand of God in our lives and we are indeed sure that our superheros are as well.

So practically speaking, we have seen God in such tangible ways that you will hear my children say things like..."Remember the time Jesus brought us food and left us bags of groceries on our front door?" ...."Hey Mom...Jesus cleaned Pop's bathroom!" or most recently..."It is like Jesus just mowed our lawn." My children know that every good and precious gift comes from the Father...and we see Jesus in skin all the time. So we purpose to be that as well.
Training begins right here at the home. It is part of my job as a Superhero Mom to train these boys to be Godly men/husbands/citizens. To love and respect one another is one of the most important lessons to learn. They are brothers, we are a family, respect and honor begins right here! These are not just chores to earn money, but to be a blessing to this unit we call family. Faith in action!
Shane & Kyle (do you see his name says.."Super Kyle") volunteer once a month at a local church to help feed the homeless and hungry. It started with the Shane's passion for the homeless. The boy's heart is huge! You can read this story HERE. My superheros have never feared sharing the love of Jesus. When Brendan was 4 he knelt down at his preschool (not a Christian school) and prayed for his teacher's sore foot. Shane and Kyle would ask any store clerk or anyone if they knew Jesus. One time in particular, Shane asked and the man holding the door outside of 7-11 said "No." I'll never forget my sweet superhero with tears in his eyes..."Mom, how will he know?" - We went right to prayer as the man drove off in his car!

At this church where we participate in helping to feed the hungry in our community, Kyle, Shane and I are runners. We are there to help people carry their plates of food and get their drinks and just love on them as they sit and get a nice hot meal.

These two boys have ministered so much love! The guests that come in for a meal are often heard talking about those boys who treat them like royalty. It is true. Towards the end Shane and Kyle will get to have a bite to eat and they will find a place amongst the people to sit and talk. It is so precious to watch and each month their hearts get bigger and bigger! It is such an honor to serve alongside my superheros every month.
Then there is my best friend in the world...Lorrie! She was going through a difficult time for a season. Her way of working through that is to keep herself busy. She came over to the house every day, painted, did repairs and had dinner with us every night for about a week. She is another person in my life who just shares her faith by tangibly loving others. We love to tangibly love each other!

How will they know unless we tell them? How will they know unless we show them? How will they know unless we love them?....just like Jesus!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Harvesting Happiness

When you cannot leave your house together as family for more than 3 hours at a time, you forget what it is like to be spontaneous. Caring for our Pop required many sacrifices, one being that we were unable to leave him for more than a few hours a week, and if we left him, we had to arrange care for him. So much work for a few hours of alone time. There is a blog forthcoming regarding our decision to place Pop in a facility that is able to care for him better than we could, but for now, it has been difficult to write. It is coming however.
So I find myself trying to literally harvest some of these happy times because my superheros are so much in need of some quality family time (and so are their parents). The challenge of course is doing this all on a very restricted budget, but as you can see we manage just fine!
Last Friday, we took a field trip to a zoo (also a blog upcoming this week). It was in lieu of science class so we considered it a field trip. After our fantastic day together, we decided to spend the rest of the daylight over in Downtown Disney. Since we had the ability to do this (nothing keeping us from staring at our watches and a backpack full of sandwiches...we just spur-of-the-moment decided to go)! The best part was that we called Mr. Incredible to join us...and that was just the icing on the cake! Oh how we all love just being together outside of our home!! Mike joined us (he too is just getting use to this spontaneous mindset) after he finished his clinicals, and when we spotted him in the parking lot, it was as if we hadn't seen each other in years (even though we had just seen him 9 hours earlier). So cute, it almost made me get choked up, all the boys and myself just ran up to him and embraced him.
Yes, still in his scrubs, but that is a constant reminder of the amazing story of how God blessed our family by providing a way for him to go to school this year! (another blog...I have some serious catching up to do!)
Here we are with one of the living statues! So fun!
This picture makes me happy. My son Brendan has had the most difficult time this year. Because of his caregiver personality and his sensitive heart, he took on so much during the past few years of caring for Pop. We had no idea just how much his little heart was carrying. Being so close to Pop's room, Brendan could not sleep well at all, always awake and waiting for Pop to get up and call for Mike (Pop would get up all hours of the night and come wake us up on a regular basis--he even woke up the boys on occasion). Brendan was fearful that Pop would burn the house down, or have to call for Mike and Mike not hear him, so his sleep was fretful. Then right before we chose to place Pop in a home, my husband's Mom passed away from a 9 year battle with cancer and we had to say our "goodbyes"--so much for a little boy to handle. Needless to say, he has developed some coping mechanisms that have debilitated him in his everyday life. As of a few weeks ago, Brendan was diagnosed with Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He has struggled so much..just crying about his fears and anxieties..wanting this to be over.
So this is why this picture makes me happy. Throughout the evening at Downtown Disney, Brendan couldn't help but tell me, "Mom, I think I'm doing so much better! Mom, I think that God is really healing me! I'm so happy Mom!!!" He had so much fun. Three months ago we came to Downtown Disney and he had such a hard time being there! So here we are harvesting happiness.
Shane has struggled with everything that has gone on too, but he exhibits in different ways. Not so much debilitating like Brendan but you could tell once we placed Pop in a home everyone seemed to be shell shocked, as if we were living with post traumatic stress or something. Shane springs back quickly and here he is being the entertainer that he thrives on being. You know, he wants to be a missionary that sings!
Speaking of singing--our friend Dominic Gaudious he plays at Downtown Disney five days a week and since we frequent so often he actually remembered us. My boys love his music. No singing, just instrumental, but so much fun...the bamboo didgeridoo is loads of fun! We had a blast just dancing to the music, laughing and walking around all night long.
Then there is Kyle (very red lips from his Italian Ice), I think somewhat protected by his specialness, he too has struggled, but we can always see the hand of God in this boy. Don't they just make you smile? My superheros...overcomers in every way! Throughout all that we've been through the Lord was faithful to give us joy in the midst of our circumstances. Now that our circumstances have changed, we are having a wonderful time harvesting happy moments to cherish and meaningful memories! More to come!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Beauty All Around

The photo credit goes to my 10 year old son Brendan, who is totally enraptured by the weather and the sky. He really wants to find a storm system and be the first to catch a hurricane..even before the weather experts. It is so wonderful when we finally find our passion. When we are passionate about something, we are motivated, energized and hopeful!

Brendan took this picture outside on our front lawn on the evening of Saturday, October 15th. He came rushing into the house with my camera so excited to show that he captured the Lord's gift to him on film. A few minutes later the scene totally capturing the beauty of the moment felt...rare. I believe it was Confucius who once said, "Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it." So it can indeed feel rare. Last week I purposed myself to spend the day trying to find beauty in everything. I will tell you this, it is much like practicing gratitude, it totally changes your perspective on everything. Life just felt lighter, smelled better and sounded sweeter.

Thus my lead in to continue to write out my 1000 Gifts.

Thank you Father for...

190. The beauty of both the sunrise and sunset.

191. A family full of people finding their passions.

192. Hope when my physical body is failing me.

193. Big bearlike hugs from my man.

194. Your Word that is like a balm to my soul.

195. Friendships that brings immense joy.

196. Freedom that rings in my home after many years of not resounding at all.

197. Our pets that brings us a unique kind of joy.

198. The coolness of the change in season, albeit slowly here in Florida.

199. The quiet sounds of early morning when I spend my time with You!

"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:17 ESV

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Cookie Chronicles 2nd Ed.

Cookie #8
October 14, 2011
Cherry Vanilla Chip Cookies
Kyle's Choice
I really enjoyed making these. I was surprised that Kyle wanted something with fruit in it. He is typically a very "plain" kind of boy. They looked appealing to him. When asked why he chose them, he just said that they look "happy." On this day I purposed to look at everything and choose to see beauty. It is amazing how things change when you make some serious choices. What a "happy" this day was.

I'm not sure why, perhaps it was a highlight of a dim childhood, cherries make me smile. I think my Aunt Dottie use to make me Shirley Temples when I was little. She and my cousin would treat this little pauper child like royalty when they would visit me. mise en place! Enticing ingredients right?
So often when I'm baking I have an audience. I watch the Dinardi children (well two of them) after school. It is good to have a panel of judges...keeps you humble. :)
Everyone gave the warm Cherry Vanilla Chip Cookies 5 Smiles!! Of course we made our deliveries around to our neighbors. Sent Shane to do that and he came back with candy. How does he do that? He was just supposed to deliver with a smile....I'm thinking that like any superhero, those eyelashes and dimples just ooze cuteness and they melt people right were they are, not to mention that precious little heart that wants to "love" on everyone! Oh..that is another reason why we are making cookies - to bless our neighbors and be sure we leave an impression of Jesus on them.
Well, finished product. Cherry Vanilla Chip Cookies! It was a sweet day...we even ended it with pancakes and sausage for dinner. Stay tuned to the next edition of The Cookie Chronicles and in the meantime think about how you can add a little sugar to your day...because we all need a little sweet now and then.