Monday, January 30, 2012

The Power of Words

As I reflect this week on all that I am grateful for, I keep reaching over to the lamp next to my bed and picking up this card. I have this amazing spirit filled friend whom the Lord uses mightily to saturate my soul in my love language..words of encouragement. I know whenever I receive something from her, it is because the Lord Almighty has spoken to her obedient heart...and I'm always incredibly blessed. I do hope she doesn't mind me sharing her personal sentiments to me with the readers of this blog. I just felt like it was a huge part of my 1000 gratitude this week..and I couldn't pass it by..I had to pass it on.

There is amazingly great power in words...

 as they fall off of the page and into my heart I read these POWERFUL words...
 "Your difficult times end up being an encouragement for others because we always see God do IMPOSSIBLE things to answer your prayers." WOW! God!!! To You be all the Glory & Honor! That my life song may be a blessing to others - what an encouragement to "remain faithful to waiting on God."
I've been teaching on Hope this past year at our Bagels & Blessings. As always the Lord is faithful to teach me so I can effectively teach others. To Him be the Glory!!

Then she goes on to pray provision over me....that "He do things that blow my mind!...He rewards my patience as I wait on Him...and Healing will take place in all of us!" Thank you Lord for such saturating my soul..for friends that really pray for me!!

Then look at this final paragraph..."Lord take this IMPOSSIBLE situation and SHOW OFF with it!...Show the world...NOTHING is too hard, too difficult, too impossible...another opportunity Lord, do it...BIG!!" Even as I type, these powerful Spirit-filled words move my heart that tears are falling once again.

We do have a very BIG God...who cares immensely...and who has a PERFECT plan. Even when I do not see where my next foot will fall...I walk by faith..not by sight!! He has ordered my steps and He will provide for each one. We continue to look for part time employment for my husband and I am about to embark on a new endeavor with teaching guitar. We understand fully that we are living on 5 loaves and 2 fish. If I remember the event as it is written in the Word...they had enough and even some left over. GO God!!! Do it BIG!

Thank you Father for...

270. Caring for little me and my little family, that you would place us on the hearts of others whom you trust to obey your will.

271. All the persons that are you. The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.

272. The words of a friend, moved by the Spirit, that have saturated my soul with encouragement.

273. Your provision, and your Word that will continue to provide for our every need.

274. Making memories with my arrows....the

275. Scripture each member of my family pours into your becomes alive and active in us.

276. The mystery that You are Lord...although you have revealed Yourself fully, I keep wanting more and more of you.

277. Your perfect plan that includes, hope and a future.

278. A husband who is trying and working so hard...hold on to Him Lord as he continues to hold on to you!

279. Teachable moments in Your curriculum...lessons on love, hope and giving. ♥


....and the gifts keep growing on...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

This would be our court jester...he is a hoot!

The traditional fanfare playing in the background...

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!
Sir Michael & Lady Lisa of Willow Oak Castle
Cordially invite the Sir Zack & Lady Susan
and the entire McDonald Family for a Medieval Feast.
We will be celebrating on the 29th day of January in the 
2012 Year of our Lord.

This is in fact how it all started. Completing our homeschool studies on the Medieval Era only warranted a celebration. So in fact, we worked together as a family, as a classroom,  to make something special. My only rule was that Sir Michael had to cook within a very strict budget and my children had to come up costumes on their own. We chose to celebrate with our friends who are like family to us..the same family we celebrated Christmas Eve life with the McDonalds is always special & packed full of fun!! Indeed we had a blast!!

First they had to prepare. Brendan researched Court Jester, found some really great jokes too. Like..
Who built King Arthur's round table?....Sir Cumference! He made a great Court Jester.
Kyle wanted to be a Wizard..& convinced we can do anything with construction paper!
Shane loves this cape - he wanted to be a monk. He loves Jesus after all! 

Look at their finished projects...I'm so proud...they did an amazing job...with no help from Mom or Dad. In fact, they even made our costumes. 

The Monk, The Court Jester and the Wizard...we off to a good start!
Now we wait for our friends to arrive...
and did they ever arrive in style! 

We took a moment to hug, laugh and then of course start our photo shoot. Yes, people were staring as they drove down the street, but isn't that all part of the fun!

This woman next to me is Susan and I'm eternally grateful for her friendship. She has been a wellspring of encouragement to me for almost 8 years. Kindred spirits she and I share. Grateful for her wisdom especially when it comes to homeschooling. Always cheering me on..always reminding me of the important things. 
Here are our precious kids! Just look at them all!! Bravo kids...bravo!

Oh and then there is Zack! Apparently young Zack in the above picture didn't want to be the only boy with his Dad was kind enough to oblige. So glad he didn't get pulled over on his way to our house.

He is always ready to strike a pose!

Zack with oldest daughter Riley...she was the brains behind all of their costumes. I've watched this girl grow up, and you know as a teenager, she could have been anywhere else on a Saturday, but she chose to be with her family and not only enjoy the festivities, but be a pivotal part of it. It blessed my heart to have her here with us. I love this girl!!

Now onto the menu. So glad that Susan decided to make some authentic Medieval food. I don't think our food was quite was more for the is what we had for our feast.

Sallet of Lemmons
The lemons would be our appetizer and pallet cleanser. That was probably my favorite dish and Kyle's too.

We did smoke turkey legs...for the first time...
 & Baked potatoes...which I don't think was authentic, but it had that rustic 1500s feel about it...and they were delicious.
 Mr. Incredible's favorite was what Susan made....
Pottage of Turnips with Powder Douce.

 This was Applemoyse...yum! Apples, cinnamon, ginger, egg yolks, sugar...yum!
So we feasted until we were full. We laughed and the court jesters were there to entertain us with riddles and tricks. The children all tried the food....they didn't all like it, but they tried it! 

After we feasted..we sat by the fire pit and roasted..shhh...don't tell...marshmallows...just because we all like that and it was fun! Not very Medieval however! 

Then I popped tons and tons of popcorn..and we watched...
and we laughed and laughed and everyone enjoyed this film so much! What a perfect ending to a perfect night!! Now..we move on to the Renaissance...learning about famous artists...I'm thinking maybe an art show of some kind when we are done with that. It might be kind of fun to have some fun appetizers and invite friends to display their art work..make like an open wheels are spinning.

Hey, if you want to host your own Medieval Feast and are curious about the recipes we used...leave a comment and I'll be happy to send them to you. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Spirit of Love

Look at that love between brothers...on their way to Fort Matanzas .
"You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have really lived, are the moments when you have done things in a spirit of love." -- Henry Drummond

Our lives have been so unusual these past few years that I find myself being ever so purposeful in my actions at home. Where once upon a time I would say yes, to just about anything to escape my four walls, I find myself, saying no so I can be here, with the ones I love the most.

It's the little things. Like making special breakfasts, or cookies every week.
The day I made all different flavored pancakes.

Bacon, Egg & Cheese Cups!

Breakfast Cookies...for when we're on the GO!

Coconut Macaroons...made with love!

Baked Smores...a huge hit!
Writing love notes in the middle of their things to do...

Taking tons of time to help them learn, they way they learn...not they way I learn.

With Mrs. Barbara - at our new Science Co-op on Fridays!
Playing checkers in Fort Matanzas

Making sure his uniform is washed, dried and not wrinkled. Waking up even earlier to have coffee with Mr. Incredible before he leaves for the hospital.
Mr. Incredible

Playing dodge ball with the cutest superheros on the planet...or if not dodge ball...certainly nerf gun wars or my personal favorite...the damsel in my superheros can come rescue me.

Reading one extra chapter, knowing that partly its because they love the story, but partly they do not want to do handwriting practice.

Waking them up in the morning with soft kisses and sweet whispers.

This is how we do everyday things...with the Spirit of Love!

Monday, January 23, 2012


A child's description of change!
If we look at where we were and where we are today...can we see change? Is it for the better or for the worse? I love reflecting. I've learned a lot in times of reflection. I can totally see where I have changed...some for the better and some not so much. When we don't change...we must be stagnant. I want to be moving forward..changing..growing..learning. I think that is what gratitude does for me. Keeps me moving forward..keeps me hopeful.

So I continue penning the words of my grateful list of 1000 Gifts...

Father, I thank you for...

260. Friends. Of all walks of life, all ages, all different personalities...keeps my life so colorful!

261. Laughter. Joy that floods my heart and home.

262. Perspective. I am not where I want to be, but I'm not where I was...thank you for times of growth.

263. Fire. The Holy Spirit who burns in me, keeps me ablaze to shine the love of Jesus to everyone I come in contact with.

264. Purpose. In You I live, and move and have my being. In You I have purpose.

265. Feelings. Though fickle and unreliable, they make me move, they stir something in change, to recreate, to reach out.

266. Love. The unconditional love from You, my husband, my children and the love you have lavished so freely upon a fallen world.

267. Rest. I am neglectful at times to get my proper those are the times You are faithful to remind me....of my need for rest..for my body, my soul, my mind.

268. Change. Your River flows and brings is a mighty river...when I start my days with you I am aware of the current and how desperate I am for You to keep me moving, changing, moss growing here. I'm jumping in!

269. Worship. Our true and intimate friendship..the one that we share..together..Oh how I'm thankful for our relationship...I love you too Lord.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pinch Me...I'm Middle Aged

I'm comfortable in my own skin!
To some degree, I've always been "old." Even when I was young, I was old (at heart). Partly because of my childhood, growing up very quickly because of the turmoil in my formative years, and partly because I've always had a slant for the "mature."

Then I had children. I never wanted to be an "old" Mom. It took me 10 years to get pregnant and hold a pregnancy, so I was 32 when I had my twins. Recently it hit me....I'm middle aged. Wow! When I turned 40 (3 years ago) - sad but I just had to write down...2012 - 1969 to make sure I was going to be 43 - I had a very difficult time, you can read about it here. My friends, who were in their 40s always said how liberating it was, I didn't get it. The truth is up until a few days ago, I still didn't get it. I didn't want to admit that, so I got really good at believing I got it, but I don't think I really did. I would say that your 40s were fine...but liberating, freeing...I wasn't feeling it.

Here is my theory and my most recent lesson on being middle aged. (The following paragraphs are penned with the help of my 40 year old ramblings... Don't hold too much weight...obviously these are generalities...we are all very very unique!) When you are 11-12 years old, you are somewhat of a misfit. You are not really a "child" anymore, but you're not quite a teenager either...where do I fit? Then you are in your twenties...still very young...still hanging on to a number of those things that you did when you were in your late teens (18-19)..20s no big deal. In your twenties too, I think you could still get away with having all your "drama"...still kind of fall into that trap of "it's all about me" stage. For some their graduating college, others who have chosen different paths have chosen their life direction by their late twenties (have children, got a job...).

Then come the thirties. I think this might be a kind of a misfit age too. Not in my young twenties (extended late teenage), not quite in my forties (oh goodness NO!), kind of a strange level place. Probably a very necessary place to find our footing and our place to handle our next phase.

You see I totally skipped my twenties. So when I had toddlers, I had to find others who had toddlers too. Most of them came in their 20s. I'm so glad for those young people in my life that helped make my 30s..purposeful...helped me stay..."young". So no wonder when 40 came, it felt scary.

I'm here to tell you, 40 really is fabulous. And I'm not at all exaggerating. I woke up one morning last week and realized...I love being old. There is a comfort in this fits me! I'm not into petty drama, I don't want to be consumed with being overly critical..(that starts building in the late teen years..because of course you know everything when your 16...) Just kidding!...kind of. When you reach know you've hardly ever been right, you've made tons of mistakes, your body is not yours anymore and as my friend once put it.."it's work to stay dignified on a high fiber diet." Well, lots of grace abounds as we get older!

Being in your 40s of course you are looking at your 50s. I know for me, I'm digging in my heels and enjoying this place of freedom. Freedom to be mature (or act goofy), have gray hair and maybe not hide it (I'm not there yet), freedom to not feel like your too young to have wisdom and letting go of trying to fit in places I don't really belong....after all, I'm not 20 anymore.

I know I'm not the only one who grapples with my age now and again. Here is the bottom line, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I don't know everything, but I do know some things. Life has taught me lots of things of which I chose to learn lessons - (you know sometimes we chose not to learn and have to repeat lessons over and over again). I'm a Jesus lover, a wife of 21 years and a Mom of 10.5, I have lots of lessons to continue to learn. I love people, people of all ages & I'm thrilled to still have young people in my life - hip young people who still want to do "coffee" makes me smile! I still feel like I could fit anywhere, but realize where my main source of encouragement will come from. I do have peers..and in your 40s...that is just as important as it was in your 20s.

Pinch me...I'm totally thrilled to be middle aged...I really really am! I feel like I've just gotten my passport and I'm headed for a great new adventure. I know I'm weird! That is OK, because I'm in my 40s and it really is liberating! :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Prayer, Petition, Present

My special prayer warrior.
There we were, sitting on my boy's bed, all 5 of us. He was in agony because of these strange welts all over his body that were terribly itchy. My heart was breaking for him. We had done all that we could, a cool shower, topical anti-itch, and Benadryl. As we sat on his bed, my son Kyle begins to pray something like this...

"Lord, please help Brendan not itch anymore, make all of his bumps go away, and please make his tears go away too. Tell him you love him and will make him feel all better so he can sleep. Since you are doing all of that please give him good dreams too. Thank you Lord for how much you love us, in Jesus name, Amen."

Later that night I went into his room and sat by his bed again. He was still awake (he is usually the one that is still awake) and he says, "Mom, if the Lord knows already what I need, why do we pray for things that seem so obvious?

I find it so interesting that children are quick to respond to their environment. Babies immediately cry when they are hungry. Toddlers are very open and carefree to communicate what they do and do not want. However, as we grow older, we are somehow taught to use discernment in making our desires known.

As I responded to my boy I told him that the Lord tells us we are wise to always come to Him as little children - telling Him precisely what we need and want. Remember in Mark chapter 10 the story of the blind man that Jesus heals....Jesus was looking straight at the man, He knew he was blind, but yet He asked him, "What do you want Me to do for you?" He basically asked him to make a request. Yes, God does know what we need "before we ask Him" yet He says in Philippians 4:6 " every situation, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God."

I think sometimes when we pray and state precisely what we want, our needs and desires become obvious to us. If we stop and listen to our own "petitions" we come face to face with our priorities, our hurts, and our excesses. We can see ourselves more clearly thus at times giving us an opportunity to repent, make things right, or take action. Just being able to hear ourselves sometimes sheds light on our situation.

The good news is, He always responds to us!! Amen?!

I pray that my children's prayer life becomes a dialogue with their Heavenly Father...back and forth...speaking and listening. It takes time to listen...that will be another lesson for another time...for now...make it a habit...pray without ceasing.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Oh How He Loves You & Me

A Father's Love
...Oh how He loves you and me.
He gave His Life what more could He give?

Oh how He loves you,
Oh how He loves me,
Oh how He loves you and me.

Jesus to Calvary did go,
His love for mankind to show,
What He did there, brought hope from despair.
Oh How He loves you and me.

As a child I learned that song and every once in awhile (on a morning like today) I wake up singing that very song.

Cultivating a heart of gratitude, I continue my 1000 Gifts...

Father, thank you for...

250. A husband who models Jesus to me and my boys.

251. For giving us confidence even when we are unable to see the path before us!

252. For moments when we are humbled by your grace.

253. For being my everything, and allowing me to be just me.

254. For our special times, when I crawl into your lap early in the morning, and you just shower me..Oh how you love me.

255. For a heart of compassion..that only comes from Christ.

256. For one more free haircut.

257. For time spent away with my men, building love, life, memories and cultivating the fruit of the Spirit.

258. For being so trustworthy that fear has no room in me right now. You are my supply.

259. For our daily portion. Sometimes it is just that...what you've provided for us to get through the day.

Father, I sing back to you...Oh how I love you too!