Saturday, December 31, 2011

I want to live like I'm dying.

Last night I had a dream.

And now at 4:30 a.m. I'm awake.
Because it was one of those dreams that you wake in a cold sweat thankful it's not real and still emotionally distraught from it.

I was on my death bed.
Literally I was dying in a hospital bed.
My children were there some of the time.
But at a certain time I was alone.
And I needed to get up.
But I couldn't.
So I called the nurse to help me.
When my family came back in the room I was trying to explain to the little one how much I wanted to be at an upcoming event but wasn't able to promise.
I was so torn up inside because I knew I had not prepared them for everything they will face.
I was not ready to leave them.
It was heartbreaking.

I didn't feel fear in leaving.
I felt sorrow for leaving.
Because I knew they needed me still and my departure seemed premature.

As I awoke and started processing it all, this is what I thought about.

1. Maybe all that fish I had last night wasn't such a great idea.

2. And the table conversation we had with the people we were eating fish with included death. And several of their close friends and relatives recent passing.

3. What if I really am dying?

4. I need to get on a regular supplement.

5. What would I tell my loved ones if today was it?

6. I wonder if being the last day of the year is significant.

Reflections back on the past year and thinking of starting a new one plus a milestone birthday for me next week has got me thinking.

What if anything am I doing to make a difference in this world?

Just like in the dream I am not afraid to go. In fact most days in the past few years I have asked God.. "Is today the day? Come quickly Lord Jesus". Heaven has never seemed more exciting!
But it's the people I leave that I feel obligated to. The ones that I would never be able to make it better for.

I think living in the moment every moment is my goal for this next year.
Trying to make the most of every second.
It's too easy to miss the good ole' days. Or Wish for the future with made up fantasies.
But living today on purpose with purpose is my goal.

That means squeezing those necks as often as I can.
Tucking that little one in every night and sometimes even curling up beside her even when I'm tired because I know she won't always want that.
It means engaging in conversation about what makes them happy or scared even if I'd rather be off by myself doing something mind numbing.
It means saying yes to them when the lazy me would rather say no.
It's telling my husband I love him every day.

If I knew I was dying tomorrow my last day would surely include lots of moments that I would hope my family would remember. Not big ticket items but time well spent and special conversations.

One day I will leave this body and this earth but my hope is that the mark I leave on those I love will be one that will lead them to the place I am going.

Today I purpose to live like I am dying.

Because truly I am.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The nights before Christmas

I love traditions.
Especially good ones.
I grew up with them and even if we don't practice all of those particular traditions I still think back and fondly remember the "sameness" of each year.
There is something about anticipation and knowing what to expect each year that brings warm feelings to mind and spirit.

I have started many traditions, especially at Christmas, for my own little pack of humans.
From the time they were wee small tikes we have "rung in Christmas" and ate similar foods and looked through stockings at a certain time and opened pj's at another. We have read the Christmas story and I have a nativity set they have played with. We sing the same songs and eat the same favorite candies.

Including new things is also fun..
So several years ago, the year the "polar express" movie came out a blog showed how they surprised their kids with their own version of it..And I thought what a great tradition to start.
The kids loved it.
And we enjoyed surprising them.
You can read it here. Mini-van Express

However, some traditions won't work forever.
I figured the older ones were probably over that whole thing.

Until...
My 12 year old told me that he was writing a paper about our family traditions at Christmas. He could only pick one.
Of course it made me curious which one he would choose to write on and to my amazement it was the polar express ride.

So...
That made my mind start churning as to what we could do that would bring surprise and excitement to our teens and the little one all at the same time.

And this idea popped into my head.
How about a progressive supper?
We could dress in Pj's... take a ride in the van ... collect our favorite dishes from some of our favorite restaurants .. and gas stations...and eat it all at the food court. After that we could Finish it up with some donuts from our favorite donut shop and look at this cool subdivision that specifically invites us to come see the lights.

So the fun began...

The kids unwrapped their unmarked packages.
(I hardly ever write names on their gifts...that way they don't know which one to shake..sneeky me:)
I kidded with them and told them to choose their package wisely because they have to wear whatever gift they open! Ha! They didn't fall for it.

So they opened their gifts and Jason and I told them to go get in the van..we're going for a ride.
It was fun to hear all the guesses of where we may be headed.. Movies, lights, donuts...
Notice the fear in some of their eyes...
Making them wear pj's in public. We kept reminding them it was fine for tonight.

Our first stop was a gas station.
"Everyone pile out and pick out any drink"

Frozen Mt. Dew and Black Cherry.
Big sis chose a coffee drink.
Me?
A coke.

Stop #2.. One of my favorite places to eat.

A classy joint where I was no doubt out of place in my under-dressed attire.

Some Bang-Bang shrimp for an appetizer.
I've made this at home for the kids but they had never had it from the Restaurant.

We had ordered these items ahead of time so we could just run in and get them.

Stop #3
Papa Vino's.
The girls retrieved the salad from another favorite place.

And since we haven't been here for awhile we did not realize they had changed the take out counter to the back of the restaurant so they had to walk through the entire place for it :~)

I got a text...

"Take out is at the back... Thanks alot!" ~Malaina
They were good sports! And we laughed about it.

Stop #4

Then the boys gathered our fries from "Five Guys".

They even got to eat peanuts inside while they waited.
People were trying to get in the picture with them. We laughed as they posed from all sides.


Stop #5
And then we went to the food court where we let them pick out their favorite entree...
Pizza for the little one.
Subs for the boys.
And Chick-Fil-a for Sophomore.

Jason and I thought we would start with salad and bang bang and see if we were still hungry.

The best salad ever!!

And thank you five guys for your fries.


The kids ate the bang bang right up! I think I got 2 :)
Here we are at the food court.

And finally our last food stop..... Stop #6
Krispy Kreme!!!
Where the "HOT NOW" light was on!!
Which meant 6 free donuts for us!!

And we found some matching strangers who were also pj clad.

We watched the donuts go through the fountain of frosting.
Funny guy thought he should lie down on the belt and stick out his tongue hoping to coat it like a pastry.


And the beautiful gems that melt in your mouth when they are straight from the oven.



Here are some of us looking mighty pleased with our sugar rush!

And some who started acting strange after all the sugar...
He thought maybe they wouldn't recognize him at the counter if he did this..talked in a funny voice,and asked for another free donut :) we laughed alot.


Side note... those are his wrists. They look a little double jointed don't ya think?


And finally saying goodbye to a fun night.

We went to look at lights and while we did that listened to a a Christmas story from the Inn Keepers point of view.
We got home and curled up on the couch for some movies.

I think this may be one of those traditions that we will try to do each year.
The element of Surprise may not be there but the anticipation of what's coming will be fun.

Being with these guys is the best Christmas gift I could ask for!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Carmel Winner Reveal

So this is how my scientific method of choosing a winner worked....
(I wish I could've just sent everyone a box)!

Me: Jason choose a number between 1 and 4
Jason: 2
Me: Thank you!

That means....

Trula you are the WINNER!!

You and your daughter Dawn each have won a sweet treat of Carmels

Congratulations and a Merry Christmas!

Thank you ladies for playing!

May you all have a wonderful Christmas!
And the happiest of New Years!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's time to win some Carmels


So I told you last week that I would be giving away some carmels this week.

And that is just what I intend to do.

I love making these little sweet treats and love sharing them even more.

Soooo...

Maybe today you will win yourself a little Christmas package.

It's very simple,
Just leave your comment below along with the name of one friend who you would like to see win.
If I draw your name ..I will send a package to you and your friend.

If you won last week you can still win this week.
It's just a little something from me to you.
And... to your friend.

I know this time of year can be hard for many people.
If you know of someone who could use a little love in a package I would just love to send them this gift! So two names... Yours and your friend.
That would be just groovy! (Do we use groovy anymore? Did we ever?)

I will post the winners on Wednesday, December 21 so make sure to get your names in!

Wedding Bells at Christmas time

Well how do I tell you about last weekend without writing a book.

Our niece had her wedding.
O boy did she ever.



It was a grand event with 500 people to serve.


She did such a fantastic job organizing and letting her assistants know what she wanted. It all came together so beautifully.

And more importantly she married a man who loves Jesus. And her.


Jason's family stayed with us.
It was such a treat to be able to host them.


Here are many of the cousins...whoever we could round up at a moments notice...and tie down and make smile...
What a stunning group~ Proud of you guys~



Family of the bride...Jason's brother,and his ladies.



These little guys had a very important job...

And they were very concerned about doing it properly.
They were fabulous!


The happy couple~ Sharon and Mark.


These next pictures were snapped at the reception.
Cousins having a great time serving and just in general messin' around.

Sophie, Erin and Katie

The thinkers...Micah and James

Jalen and Mitch...nope not twins or even brothers. Just cousins. But I have always thought they look alike.


Anthony and Tori serving up some sweets.


Z and her daddy. My lone bro-in-law.

Here I am with my groom.
Seems like we just did all this a few days ago...wait! 18 years? That's nutty~


More sweet treats with a sweet heart...Mikayla

And my pretty girl. With her buddy and cousin Neil.


Our kids love Sharon.
She has been our built in sitter for like 7 years. And when she would sit for us she would never fail to bring a large group with her.
I have many memories of coming home to a house full of kids. And I loved it!
And so did our kids!
They hope this whole marriage thing won't be the death of all that :)

So Micah got up at open mic and told the masses how much he loved when Sharon came over and his parents got out of the house.
Wow!
Well it sure is nice to know they were in good hands.


More pretty faces at the wedding.

Rindy and below is Janae and Justin.




What a beautiful start to a new journey together.
I think you deserve each other!
And I'm so very glad you found each other!
We love you Sharon and Mark!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A compelling letter from the boy


Every child of ours has had the assignment of writing a persuasive letter their first year of middle school. So it wasn't a big surprise when our 6th grader presented us with this letter.

With his permission I am sharing it with you because I thought it was that good.




Dear Mom and Dad,

You know at the old house when Jalen and I would pitch to each other? If so, then you will recall how almost every time we did one of us got hurt. Whether it was one way or another, it happened and it happened painfully (I'll go into further detail on just how we got injured in the next paragraph). This, along with other reasons, is why I would like you to consider getting me a set of catchers gear for Christmas.

The first reason I would like a set of catchers gear is that I would be lot safer practicing with it. Almost every time I practiced without gear, I'd get hurt. Sometimes it would be from a misplaced fastball, or the occasional tree, or a ball that bounced funny, or something along those lines. The point is that things could get really ugly really fast. If I had catchers gear, I wouldn't get hurt so easy. That's why I would be safer with gear.

The second reason that I would like to bring to your attention is that it would make my baseball experience a whole lot easier. Playing at home would be less stressful because I could stop the ball without the fear of getting nailed. It would also be easier playing organized baseball because I wouldn't have to spend time getting caught (no pun intended) up to speed when baseball starts in April. That's why catchers gear would make things easier for me in baseball.
Now, I know that one of the prevailing problems that you have is the cost of the gear. Speaking honestly, I can see why cost is an issue. I looked it up online and a good set of catchers gear could be anywhere from $80 - $150. However, I remember that one time when we were younger that you guys paid Jalen $80 for working with dad 4 or 5 times. If I worked 2 months worth of weekends with dad for free, that would be more than enough to pay you back and I would be perfectly willing to do that. Working with dad would help me learn about stuff that I'll use in life too.
So as I conclude this letter, I'd like to tell you how happy I would be if you made this my Christmas gift. Getting it is easy. You could get a set online at Amazon or you could go MC Sporting goods. Thanks for reading this letter and taking the time to think about it.

Sincerely, Micah

I am very tempted to run out and purchase him a set.
In fact it sounds so compelling I am thinking about buying myself a matching set...Just for safety purposes.
What would you do?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Chocolate cake recipe

So I have some exciting things going on...
Jason's Niece is getting married on Saturday.

She has been like a daughter/sister/friend to us.
And we are so delighted for her!

She is a gem of a lady and we pray that this new journey will bring her great joy!

So since Jason's family lives out of state and the wedding will be taking place here we are anticipating the great arrival of many family members.

And I have approximately 20 staying here.
Yes.
It will be early Christmas for us.

I will be posting pictures on all that later but today I wanted to share with you that Chocolate Cake.

Chocolate cake with a chocolate fluff filling and chocolate butter cream icing.

The recipe for the cake was from Hershey's.

It's called

Hershey's black magic cake.


Ingredients

2 cups sugar 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 2 eggs 1 cup buttermilk or sour milk* 1 cup strong black coffee OR 2 teaspoons powdered instant coffee plus 1 cup boiling water 1/2 cup vegetable oil 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions

1 Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

2 Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (Batter will be thin). Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.

3 Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden pick
inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool
completely. Frost as desired. Yields 10 to 12 servings.

I made 2 round cakes and put a fluff between them.

This is simply

1 Cup of whipping cream
3TBSP Coco
1/8 tsp salt
Whip this until stiff
add
1 C sugar

Yum! I could eat this by the spoonful.

On top I used a butter cream icing.
I use this icing for so many things!

1/2 C Shortening
1/2 C butter
1 tsp. vanilla
4 C. powder sugar
2 TBSP milk
cream shorting and butter add vanilla gradually add sugar a cup at a time. whip in milk and beat until fluffy.

Spread over top and lick the spoon clean.
Uh huh that's right!

Now for my give away I baked mini cakes.


I used a chocolate cake mix and scooped out the centers.
I filled it with chocolate fluff and laced it with some real whipping cream on top.
Topping it off with a chocolate truffle.



I hope you have a fantastic weekend.
I have a couple things to get together before the crowd arrives.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Peace on Earth? How about peace at home.

We have an advent book we are going through right now.
It's been a nice little change in routine in the morning.
This morning we read this...

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer." I Peter 3:8-12

Now this was on the heels of some loud argument I heard coming from the pubescent males room. So it was quite difficult not to give some directed stares as I read.

To live in peace and harmony is a direct command.
It is much easier to see my sons need for that at the moment than my own.

How am I doing with that?
Do I seek to live in peace?

And the end of that phrase tells me to... PURSUE it.

I am challenged again to bless others and not curse. To show sympathy and compassion. To love when insulted.
To do good.
And the reward is this... I will inherit blessing.

My heritage is one that promotes peace and anti war sentiments.
I would agree that most often we must first seek to understand rather than fight for freedom.
Saying this, I stand in honor of those who would risk their life for me.

And on a personal note, I am concerned, how many from my heritage would rather talk about peace in the world than pursue it on a personal level.
Peter's admonishment to us is not to lay down weapons in a way of promoting peace but rather watch our speech, because words matter.

I am also reminded of Paul's exhortation to Timothy who was a young sprout in the ministry...

14 Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. II Tim 2

So as I watch my sons argue and quarrel about disputable matters, I am reminded that there is a better way.

The Word is truth.
It has been my healing balm.
And a sharpening sword that pierces my heart in ways that nothing else can touch.

My truth on a matter is only my opinion.
God's truth is the Way and Life.

And my prayer to end our time was this...
God,
Today bring us peace not only in the nations but more importantly in our homes. In our relationships. In our hearts. May we pursue peace in our neighborhoods, in our families and all around. And Thank you for the promise that one day there will be peace all over the earth.
Amen

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

WINNER~~~

Well today is my Chocolate Cake give away!!

I decided today to do something I haven't done before!

I wanted you all to win so much that I decided I am not drawing this time.

I am going to make you all winners!!!!!

That's right!
I think you deserve a little treat for being such great moms, sisters, daughters, friends and faithful readers. You are loved!

So I made each of you a mini cake!!

And I will deliver it promptly.
I have the cakes made and will have them to your dwelling places within 24 hours!
I'm like fed ex that way.

SO happy day to you my little winners!

Next week I'm giving away my carmel candy.
This is open to anyone because they mail well.

So long and good day!

Monday, December 5, 2011

O come to my heart...

Rejection.

The very sound of this word brings pain to my heart.

To reject means:

re·ject

[v. ri-jekt; n. ree-jekt] Show IPA
verb (used with object)
1.
to refuse to have, take, recognize, etc.: to reject the offer ofa better job.
2.
to refuse to grant (a request, demand, etc.).
3.
to refuse to accept (someone or something); rebuff: Theother children rejected him. The publisher rejected the author'slatest novel.
4.
to discard as useless or unsatisfactory: The mind rejectspainful memories.
5.
to cast out or eject; vomit.


No one picks to be rejected.

The adolescent who tries out for the team and is told they won't be playing this year. The woman whose husband tells her he has found someone else. The hard working employee who is overlooked for the promotion. The man who is told there is no place for him any longer in this organization. The boy who gets a no from the girl. The girl whose best friend gossips to others about her.

When friends betray.
It cuts like a knife.

Who chooses rejection?

Most of us typically guard our hearts, steeling it against such rejection.
We take all kinds of precautions so we won't set ourselves up for heartbreak. Some of us put on masks acting like the rejection didn't hurt that much. When inside we are torn to pieces. Some of us hide our talents so we don't have to face the rejection of not being good enough to qualify. Others of us hide physically away from people so we can shield our hearts from the possibility of being turned away or criticized.

But the one who made us?
Well plan A was he made a man and a woman and an entire earth full of beauty.
He made it for his pleasure and his glory.
And what happened?
He gave the man and woman a choice and they rejected him for a lesser object.

I may have said... Fine. You picked your love. I'm over you.
But not him.
Not God. The Jealous God.
Did you know God is Jealous for his own?
Not in a self serving way but in a "I care for you too much to let you go" way.
So because he cared so much about mankind, his creation, he chose Plan B.

Which included coming down to earth himself, walking with us and intentionally setting himself up to be rejected again not only while he was here but for thousands of years to come.

And he says to us... “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends." Rev 3:20
He will meet with us as a friend.
But we must take the action of opening our hearts to him.

Do you feel rejected today?
It stings.
The King of all Kings Knows that pain better than anyone else.

He knows the kiss of betrayal.
He hears the mockers and lies.

And if we look in the mirror we will see who the betrayer is.
We will realize that we have all sinned against him.

And yet our Jealous God says... "I still choose you".

It makes me want to fall at his feet in repentance and thanksgiving.

He is a friend to the broken.
If you find yourself in a place of brokenness. Know that he is very close.
You are not alone in this world of rejection.
You are in the best company.

Because Jesus Christ who came from a virgin to this world one starry night, was born in a place where only animals dwell, and was nailed to a cross to take our sin. And on the third day he rose again so we could live with him forever.
He knows your hurt. And he longs to come to your heart today and have dinner with you and be your best friend.


O Come to my heart Lord Jesus! There is room in my heart for thee.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

WHAT FORGIVENESS IS NOT

This was a message by Mark Driscoll.

It was so good I thought I'd share it with you today.

It is true we will all have to journey down the path of forgiveness many times through our life.
It is one thing that sets Christianity apart from other religions. Jesus Came to forgive sinners and calls us to do the same. The question becomes How do we do that?
Maybe we want to but it's just so hard we give up.
Or Maybe we don't really want to at all. So we've just decided we'll keep a private stash of buried yuck in our hearts.
I don't know what you've been told but I believe that forgiveness is actually often more important for the forgiver than the forgiven.

So the question is What is Forgiveness?
And What Forgiveness is not.

Have a looksee at the video.
I think he is spot on.

Friday, December 2, 2011

What can I do with a gallon of black paint?

When We moved we sold all our kids beds. They were in bunks because of necessity. I was very ready to move them to ground level.

So we needed to find some new beds. I have been looking for twin frames.
And then last Saturday I decided I was ready to buy.
Jason and I headed to a local new and used furniture store.
We found these 2 little beds that looked like they could do the trick.




I went right out a bought some black shiny paint.
I am happy as a clam with a new gallon of paint!


After all the boards were painted and dried. I went back and abused them with a sanding block.
Until they looked like this.

This is what they look like now.

Well since I had the paint handy I went ahead and drug this out of storage. I had bought this at a yard sale this summer for $5.

Kind of scratched and ugly right?

But look what a little black paint can do :)

Well now Since I had the paint out I remembered I had been wanting to paint my $15 garage sale find dresser for a long time. I regret that I got so anxious to paint it that I didn't take before pictures but it wasn't very pretty. Look at the shine on this dresser now!

I started telling the children not to stand still or I may paint them.
I wanted to.
But I didn't.

It's just hard to stop when I get started!

I think I may do one of my hutches next.
But right now it's time to think of dinner.

How about some black-eyed-pea's?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kids...They make me smile!


I love watching people.

Especially little people.


Like last night.
I was supposed to be singing in the choir. We are preparing for our Christmas musical. I'm sorry to admit that every once in awhile I just observed what was going on around me. Especially while our director was working with the orchestra. I figured it wasn't really important that I pay attention how to play the gong or violin during measure 34. So I zoned in on the little one who had already finished her practice and was patiently sitting there watching us with her little face perched between her hands. I smiled and then noticed a little boy was peeking around the bench at her. She didn't see him right away and that seemed to encourage him to creep around the side and slowly slide onto the bench quite some distance away. I watched him as he inched closer until she spotted him. At that point he wasn't exactly sure what action he should take. I could see he wanted to say something to her but I was far enough away I couldn't make out what he was saying...And then I saw him slide over right beside her and show her something in his mouth. Oh wait...Is that a wiggly tooth little fellow? Yes. I see my little one nod and acknowledge that it was indeed a loose tooth. She smiled and I could see she was saying something to satisfy him.
And then that was it. He just slid on down the bench again smiling all the while.
Interaction over.

I smiled as I refrained from chuckling out loud. I was imagining adults doing that to each other.

"Hey look at my tongue..see what I can do with it? I can roll it left or right."
"Can you wiggle your ear? I can. Watch this."
"I got a blister on my toe..wanna see it?"
I love the honesty and uninhibitedness of children.
But I think if you tried that on me as another adult I may have a few questions of my own.

It's not a day when I have a lot of extra thoughts with that little story.

I just thought it was funny and wanted to share it with someone. :)

Don't forget to sign up for that Free Chocolate cake.

Tomorrow I will post some pictures of some projects I've been working on.