Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of our very tradition filled season. Family traditions are so important to me. I think partly because I didn't have very many in my family growing up. So perhaps I overdue it in the traditions..but it works for us. I dream that one day my children will do these things with their children and thus the legacy continues.

We always take time to write the things we are grateful for. In years pass we've covered a door with large paper and gave crayons to write and draw pictures throughout the few days before Thanksgiving, we've made Thanksgiving wreaths and boxes and even trees with leaves that we've written things on. This year we've made a Thanksgiving Proclamation. Here is how we did was loads of fun.
First we crumpled up so paper - to give it the "old" look. The more wrinkles the better!
 The question did come up if I wrote on paper like this when I was young in the olden days. (Sigh, Smile)
 Then we soaked it in tea.

 After soaking for a while, we placed them on cookie sheets to dry.
 If we weren't patient enough to let them air dry...well, there are other ways of speeding up this process...
 and it is equally as fun!
 I did mine first to demonstrate how this process is done. Then Brendan wanted to try it by himself.
 He actually did a great joy. Made it look so easy..that Kyle (because he is 10 years old) wanted to try it too. That didnt' go so well. His beautiful paper went up in flames. After the trauma..he said, "Well, I learned a lesson, paper burns very quickly under fire!" Yes it does!
 Just to be sure there was a difference...we compared and contrasted. Then we got down to the business of writing!
 What a fun way of documenting all the things we are thankful for this year. Remembering of course that ...
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

Monday, November 21, 2011

Time Spent...

 ...with the ones you love is never wasted. This is my precious 8 year old Shane. I love him with all of my heart! Saturday we had a special date..just he and I..a date to reconnect and share in some special Mommy & son time. Shane is the third child and the only one that is not a twin. He is totally trying to figure out what he can get away with as an 8 year old lumped in a world of 10 year olds. Additionally, because we homeschool, he often sees me as his teacher. So we needed to reconnect on a whole different level and we sure did!
I did not tell him that I got him a card, but when I got home to pick him up for our date, he had made one for me too. He was so excited about our special time together..he couldn't wait for me to pick him up! As the first picture shows, we went to his favorite restaurant for lunch...Cracker Barrel! We looked around the shop afterwards and I bought him an orange cream soda & some chocolate. YUM!
I'm not a big soda person, but he did share some of his chocolate...Skybar. Then we hit the book store and Target..just to browse and maybe shop for his brothers presents.
Oh and he really wanted to make a picture list of what he wants for Christmas too. We give the boys 3 gifts for Christmas..this is at the top of his list. Then since Target has our favorite coffee shop...we had to get a drink (no matter how full we were).
 One tall Caramel Frap and one skinny Gingerbread Latte please...
We laughed, played in the store, tried on hats and mittens, share coffee, chocolate and a little bit of our hearts too. We talked about the challenges he is having with school. I made sure I poured encouragement into his soul. I love this "gracious gift from God", he is special in so many ways. He is testing the waters every day, but love conquers much!

To add to my 1000 gifts today, thank you Lord for...

240. Time spent with my youngest arrow.

241. A husband who understands the priority of spending time with his family.

242. Heart to heart conversations.

243. Happy tears.

244. Handwritten notes of joy.

245. Lessons learned by deep love.

246. Faith built by words of encouragement.

247. Gift cards to favorite coffee shops.

248. Endless kisses and hugs.

249. Memories that will last for eternity.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Arrows In My Hand

"Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court." - Psalm 127:4-5

Married at the young age of 21, the thought of having children didn't even enter my heart or head until a few years after being married. However, the Lord had a plan for me. In those early married years, when my focus was on finishing school and starting a career, and getting to know this man I married after only dating for 9 months, the Lord made sure I knew that He had plans even though I had no idea how they would ever unfold.

I'll never forget a woman in my church coming up to me on a Sunday morning, I was maybe 22 years old, not even thinking of starting a family. She, almost shy, told me that the Lord had been prompting her to do something that she has been avoiding. She said that she was feeling convicted and needed to be obedient, "Can I pray for you?" I remember looking at her and thinking, of course you can pray for me, why on earth would you even be nervous about that? I'm a young woman, newly married and could use prayer...always! Then she did it. I was taken aback. She reached her hand and laid it on my womb and began to pray. I thought, "Okay? This is...interesting." She prayed, I gave her an appreciative hug and we went on our way into the next few years not giving that another thought.

Then, the desire was birthed in my husband and I...children would be wonderful..let's just see what God will do. Thus began my journey to become a Mom. Not having any clue that I would be infertile at this point, we went the first year...just "seeing what God would do." The following year we asked my OB the famous..."What's up Doc?"

The next 10 years would bring us to our knees, praying over decisions, adoption, fertility, living without children. These same years would bring numerous words of prophecy over my life, specifically over my fertility. Prophetic words can seem odd if you are not used to hearing, discerning and seeing God move that way. When I say I was prophesied over at least 6 times from people whom have never met me, let alone new about my issues with fertility, I am not exaggerating in the least. Each one is as amazing as the next, however, one in particular is what this blog is about.

Because we didn't have a family, Mike and I would often be the couple that would volunteer to do the airport run for the missionaries, worship leaders and guest speakers that would come to our church. We absolutely loved this little bit of intimate time to get to know some of these amazing people. One person in particular probably has no idea how much he had spoken into my life....Kent Henry. For over thirty-five years, Kent Henry’s ministry has been totally devoted to worship leading and training. He has led worship on six of Integrity Music’s Hosanna! recordings, including: My Refuge, The Secret Place, and So Close to You. He has also produced 22 of his own worship recordings, including: Captivated, Bulletproof, Jeremiah 29:11, Children Worship!, The Psalm Series and Dance in the Glory. - you can see his full bio if you click on his name.

Way back 17 years ago, I sat in the back of the car after an amazing worship seminar bringing this man (who, by the way, could have totally been plucked from the Woodstock generation of the 70s) back to the airport. He asked about us having children. We just said no, sparing him from the details of the beginning journey of infertility. He looked behind, in my direction and laughed. I remember thinking...this guy is...interesting in an odd kind of way. Then with such a pleasant smile behind his laugh he patted Mike on the shoulder and looked at me in the back seat and said these words..."No worries sister...there will be babies in the house man! God's got a quiver just for you...He wants you to know matter what happens in the next couple ARE gonna have babies in the house!" and  he a laughs again. How did he know I was even the slightest bit worried..and what is he talking about "babies" can only have one at a time...and when this happens for me...I'm gonna space them out so I can handle it!

Ten years later, I had twins...babies in the house. Exactly two years and two days later I had 3 "babies in the house".

Well Lord, now that we have our quiver full of the arrows you have planned for us, please help us to see clearly the target you have set out for each one. I sit here today, after my time in prayer this morning, asking the Lord for direction. My arrows are 10 and 8 now...boys..all boys...and they are right around the corner from puberty and growing into men. I do not want to miss the mark. After all of the prophetic words I have had spoken over me (some other blog perhaps) I know (even when I wonder) that these specific arrows were designed with Mike and I in mind...they are His, but given to us to raise. Oh Father, thank you for the arrows in our hands, help us now to see the target, to aim and to shoot straight.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bringing Gifts Joy & Hope

This is a special weekend, it was the weekend we focus not focusing on ourselves. In a society that is "me" driven it is even more important that we intentionally and daily help our children learn (and remind ourselves) that it is not all about us. It was Veteran's Day on Friday so all week we thought about how we were going to bless our favorite Veteran. Then on Saturday we were going to focus on one of our favorite ways to start the Thanksgiving/Christmas season - gathering gifts to give to Samaritan's Purse for Operation Christmas Child. We participate every year as a church and we do so as a family. If you are unfamiliar with Samaritan's Purse and all that they do, please I encourage you to stop by their website.

I love the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. Before we went shopping this Saturday we read the story to be reminded of our small part in helping those in need. For over 40 years Samaritan's Purse has been providing aid to the world's poor, sick, and suffering...all in the name of Jesus Christ. Operation Christmas child helps our children remember the joy in giving.
So Saturday was the day. Each boy had a shoe box and off we went - they were to gather enough gifts to bless a boy their age.."so shop for something you would enjoy", plus Mom and Dad would gather some items of necessity as well.
They totally enjoyed packing their boxes and cutting out a picture of themselves and writing letters to the recipient of their box. I love to see my superheroes so full of joy with just the thought of making another young boy thrilled to receive a box of love from them. After we finished writing letters and stuffing boxes, the most important part of the boxes is not what goes inside, but the prayers prayed for each one.
Mr. Incredible lead us all in prayer over the boxes. We prayed individually for the boys that would touch these boxes, we thanked the Lord for Samaritan's Purse and all that they do and we even prayed for the people who would be delivering these boxes with the message of Jesus Christ attached to each one. Oh what joy! What a way to start the Christmas season, by NOT thinking about ourselves, but others and being grateful for the opportunity to share Jesus in yet another tangible way. This brings me to my continued list of 1000 Gifts, focusing on what I'm grateful for....

Thank you Father for...

230. The opportunity and the means to provide gifts of love for Operation Christmas Child.

231. Yet another chance for the lesson of Luke 10 to be ingrained in the hearts of my children.

232. The men and women who presently serve or who have served our country to fight for freedom.

233. Trusting me enough with the charge of three precious boys. May I honor you as I raise them.

234. Directing us 8 years ago to a church that loves you and is so generous in their giving.

235. Giving us a Pastor with a passion for the lost and practically loving on those in need (presently in Mali loving on our missionaries).

236. Family, both by blood and the blood of Jesus.

237. Our special friend, that we see outside weekly and make sure we talk with her and love on her. Oh how we love to see the smile on her face when my sweet Shane shouts her name with excitement and love.

238. Our health, especially during a week of fighting colds and having tests run.

239. Your Word that brings me joy and hope every single day.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Cookie Chronicles 5th Ed.

Cookie #10
November 11, 2011
Coffee Spice Cookie
Dave Dinardi 

Mr. Dave requested this cookie a few weeks ago. It has taken me this long because I've been fighting a flu or a bad cold or something. It has just drained me.  I'm finally feeling better and I knew that we would be seeing Mr. Dave and I wanted to make sure we could deliver the cookies. Here is the thing about our Mr. Dave. He is a great husband to his wife (and my sweet friend) Amy, a fun dad to his 3 children, coaches their sports, was President of the PTA, was my children's favorite Sunday School teacher and he is a dedicated detective for the Daytona Police Department. So, it shouldn't surprise you that he would choose a cookie with coffee as one of its ingredients. Admit it, when you think of law enforcement, you can't help but think about the donuts and coffee consumption that takes place. Now I think that some of that is just Hollywood's perception, but I know this law enforcement friend of ours loves his desserts! Sadly we have been unable to convert Mr. Dave to becoming a Starbucks lover, but we'll never give up. So here we are happy to oblige him with our Coffee Spice Cookies.
I wanted to remind you that you can find this cookie recipe on my kitchen blog Krypton's Kitchen. Please go check it out. I give step by step instructions (with photos) including some of my special twists on how they are prepared. I think you will enjoy just stopping by the kitchen.

So since Pop has moved to his new home, there is no reason to have instant coffee in the house. The last time I made these cookies I had a decaf container of instant coffee because Pop couldn't drink regular. So I had to buy some. Just look at those cute little packets of instant coffee..perfect for recipes that only call for a teaspoon. Disclaimer: I have actually had instant coffee in my home...but it is in a whole different league. I chose not to use it in these cookies because it would require me to dispose of what is leftover from the packet and I couldn't do that. So much easier to buy the cheaper brand and use it for baking and reserve the best for coffee on the go or iced coffee. I was going to share this in my other blog but I think it will fit better here. You want to know what kind of instant coffee is the best...sit back and watch this 9 second clip of pure joy...

So much goes on in my home on a daily basis. As you know I homeschool my children, so when it is baking time, I love that they are with me and can participate in whatever way they want to. However, before they can help with the fun...reading must always be done! So here is Shane..reading his reader while I'm getting my mise en place ready. (Check out the other blog)
In between history, math, reading, and writing oh and remembering our Veterans..baking did get done.
This is one case where I have to say, the batter does taste yummy. Low on sugar, this cookie will totally appeal to coffee lovers, because it doesn't interfere with the sweetening of your coffee. Sometimes, sweet cookies throw off the balance of taste when you are drinking coffee with your cookies. I know some of you understand what I'm talking about..then there are others that are thinking I'm just insane!
This is my Official Taste Tester..Shane..making sure the dough is perfect. I will talk about the dough and give some personal hints about how to make this recipe work in my other blog. You will have to give yourself some time for this cookie, the dough must be refrigerated for a few hours before you can slice them. The final product made the house smell so good.
Here they are above. To taste it alone, my children (except Shane) would prefer a sweeter cookie, but I kid you not, take one bite of this with a cup of coffee..and you will feel like you've left earth and gone to heaven. It is the perfect coffee cookie!
I wanted to throw this little picture in of my adorable little potholders that my precious adopted grandma Carla Sellers made for my 40 birthday a few years ago. You can tell she made them with my superheroes in mind...two identical ones to represent my twins and a one slightly different to represent my Shane. Aren't they sweet? You know, homemade thoughtful gifts are priceless and sweet - we have a dish of Coffee Spice Cookies nicely wrapped for Mr. Dave (we were hoping to surprise him at the station on Friday..but he was called away), I'm sure he'll sit with his plate and a cup of coffee. Hope we got your interest peaked and you will stop by Krypton's Kitchen for more information plus the recipe. Wonder what will fill my cookie jar this coming week? These never made it to the cookie jar...gave them all away this time. Stay tuned for the next edition of the Cookie Chronicles...until then..stay sweet..after all, we all need a little sweet now and then.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Eleventh Hour...

 ...of the eleventh month on the eleventh day...fighting officially ceased in World War I. How did you honor our veterans today. We have a very special veteran that we love dearly...and we couldn't wait to see him today. (There are many in our family, but this one is extra special to us) We zoomed through our homeschooling and baked some cookies (Pop loves cookies). I just love that picture above...Pop is so happy at Clare Bridge..and we love to visit with him. He gets a kick out of seeing Mike in his scrubs. We celebrated Veteran's Day with all the people at the home today.
 All the boys made special cards. Pop took great pride in serving our country. My children have had the honor of living life with Pop for the past 8 years. Although these past few years (prior to August when he went to Clare Bridge) have been incredibly difficult because of Pop's Dementia/Alzheimers, one of the many benefits to living with a man who repeats things all the time is really learning what he repeats...and boy did he really love to talk about the army and his job as a radio operator in Okinawa.
 What is with all the candy right? Well, there are 11 candy corns, 11 m&ms and 11 wheat know because it is 11-11-11 today. We actually held off until 11:00. you see it now. I know we are crazy. We gave each other 11 hugs, we jumped up and down 11 times (that picture was really blurry)..we totally just enjoyed our day today. Then we went to visit Pop. We met our favorite nurse there..since the hospital he is learning from is right by Pop.

 The boys presented their cards and the cookies...and we asked Pop all kinds of questions about the war days.
 Finally we ended our stay, singing patriotic karaoke...Pop is already famous for his singing. We knew that wouldn't take long. He use to sing in the boys choir at his church when he was young..has quite the precious.
 It was a big celebration presented by Hospice. They read poems, played music, saluted the flags and then...

Presented each veteran with a certificate of appreciation for their service for our freedom. We enjoyed cake and ice cream (well they enjoyed cake and ice cream...I enjoyed a latte at Starbucks afterwards). All in all I think it was one of the most special Veteran's Days ever...ironically even more so now that Pop is living away from us. Bittersweet when we left...I always shed a tear. I thank the Lord for blessing us with Pop...we love him so much!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Arise With Wisdom

It is peaceful as I watch the deer take a leisurely lap of water at the fresh brook.
He is startled. He runs away. I look around and I am awoken.
I feel His warmth around my eyes as He brushes my hair away.
"Arise, my precious."
Through my eyelashes I see Him and my heart is overwhelmed.
I look towards the sun but it is not there.
Because He knows my thoughts, He comforts me...
"It is not time for that yet, you first my child, arise and meet me at our special place."
 I walk to our place, first, without coffee, without even my journal, just me and the Word.
He is the Word.
Even before the sun has risen, there is light at our special place - the Light of all mankind.
I sit. Bringing my knees to my chin. There is no need to wait, for He is.
He takes my legs and places each foot on a stool.
It is not a stool, it is a Rock.
He presses on each foot as He gently reminds me.
"There will be distractions today. People will seemingly need you all day long. Your children will need you, your husband too. Take care of them. I have placed them in your care. 
Be Me to them today."
Taking care to firmly press each foot into the Rock, He looks deeply into my eyes and reaches my soul. 
He continues. "The phone will ring. You will be asked to minister in all kinds of ways. I know how you love to serve me, but you are not to be distracted. 
Wisdom will accompany you 
throughout your day. I have called so many. There are others that can go. You have gone before, so many times , you've been so obedient.
Now it is time. Stand."
As I stand, my feet firmly planted upon the Rock I am stable.
"Walk with me."
As I begin to walk the rock continues beneath my feet with each step. 
"It is imperative that you see that you are firmly planted in me. Stay focused my child. Even good opportunities may long to distract you from what I've called you to for this moment."
I look at His warm expression as He smiles at me. He leans into me and whispers in my ear.
"I'll will be speaking to you this way, stay grounded here so you will hear."
My heart is enlarged. Mysteries have been revealed. The sun is rising.
Wisdom and I begin our day.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do."   James 1:5-8

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Dailiness of Life

Simplicity. I'm beginning to think we take it for granted. There was a time when I thought that everyday we do the same thing - is this what life is really supposed to be like? We really don't (do the very same thing day in and day out), it just feels like that sometimes. I'm sure everyone can relate to: wake up, go to work, come home, make dinner, go to bed and the same thing over again tomorrow. The dailiness of life. I've come to really appreciate those days. There is a simplicity in the routine that brings joy and comfort. Here is a peek into our daily lives.
This is what goes on every single day. If you were to peek into our home on any given day, you would find Mr. Incredible with all of his books and the laptop. He preparing for his future and ours. I'm thankful for this opportunity for him as well as all of his hard work and sacrifices...his perseverance..because we know that..."suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." Romans 5:3-4. 

Over in the play room are my superheroes. Free play...there is something so wonderful, freeing and therapeutic about free play time. Time when you have to get on the carpet and pretend, time to be creative and learn about relationships, friendships and love. Here they are playing with their Dad's 40 year old cars and trucks. Traditions and heirlooms being passed down from generation to generation.

Then there is me.
I think that I've probably struggled the most. I know that I've been called to be a missionary to my children. This is the highest calling of my life. I know, beyond a shadow of doubt that I am supposed to be homeschooling. There was a day, days probably if I'm being honest, that I felt like I could should be doing more. After all, I have two degrees, I've taught high school, I've worked in the corporate world, I've spoken in front of hundreds of people, God must have something in store for me...that is more than this. (Sad but true confession).

What is more important than this? That leads me to my 1000 thankful I am for the

220. Dailiness and the simplicities of my life (not to say that my life is simple - it is far far from simple, but I will look for making it more so) thankful to the Lord for...

221. Treasured moments with my superheros, making memories that endure for all eternity!

222. Opportunities to teach them the very best, individually fashioned the very best way for each of them to learn.

223. Being able to capture the moment they learn to love to learn.

224. The freedom of inviting serious creativity to our learning experiences..not to mention laughter and joy!
225. God's amazing provision and the sacrifices made, that afford me to homeschool..against all odds.

226. The simple moments together, like playing with trucks on the carpet or blowing bubbles outside.
227. A husband, a true advocate of homeschooling, that encourages me in my true calling..if there is ever any doubt..the highest call of my life...being a Mom. My work for the Lord always begins right here.
228. The Word that continually reminds me of all that I'm to be grateful for. (I can be thankful for His Word every week...after all, it is what sustains me every day!)
229. The excitement I experience when I go to sleep at night and know that tomorrow will indeed hold some of the very same things that today held...the dailiness of life.