21 December 2011

Redneck Lights - Cadillac-Style

So, this year we once again rounded up some friends to go see the Meadow Lights. This is a tradition that our family (okay, probably the kids and I more than Travis) looks forward to every year. Sure, the Meadow Lights are a bit redneck - a tiny community, most likely all related, in the middle of nowhere, decorates their homes and front yards, and stocks up the Meadow Country Store with lots of John Deere items and old-fashioned candy. AND they set up a train to take you through the display of lights (including a lighted #3 car)! It may be redneck, but it's fun!

So the tradition of Meadow Lights that we started even before we had kids has now morphed into a family tradition that includes other families.

And as you can see, we include lots of kids.

And as you know, it's much more fun to ride TOGETHER. Even if it includes lots of laughing, LOUD, (crying) young'ins. Did I mention crying and whining? Just wanted to be sure. We have a couple of those, too. But at least we're together.

So our friend, Chris F., solved that problem for us.

When we stepped outside, this is what was waiting on us. Think the kids were excited?

And since we had extra room, our favorite neighbor's kids got thrown in, too. What's a couple more?

It was fun having Zachary and Mary with us this year, too!

And this outing would not have been complete if someone had not begged to stop and use the bathroom. Unfortunately, her timing was bad. The line to get into the parking lot was long, and we WERE in the middle of nowhere. However, the confidence and speed with which Zachary helped her complete this task were completely amazing. No doubt, he's a pro.

Another completely amazing fact: The four of us were able to fit on one seat on the train. "Were able" might not be completely accurate....

The dads, Zachary, Chris, and Travis, were great! They spent alot of their time standing in a long line with small children hanging off them. They did, however, somehow find a way to leave the line and get snacks and drinks (victuals for the women and children, of course).

The kids ate LOTS of candy...

...got all sugared up...

...and then it was time to go back home...


02 December 2011

Go Color That Floor!

Last week, while I was lazing around on my in-law's couch after our very good Thanksgiving meal, I came across an absolutely ingenious idea in one of the magazines that my mother-in-law keeps around for me. (At least that's what I tell myself. Maybe she's just busy and hasn't had a chance to read them yet.)

One of those super-housewifey people (Heloise, maybe?) informed us faithful readers that a crayon is the best way to take care of scratches on laminate flooring. Who knew?!

Now, I first must say that we put laminate flooring in our house about four years ago. And believe it or not, even with three kids, it has held up unbelievably well. At the time, I was skeptical about putting down laminate because I was afraid it would look cheap. But my husband informed me that economically speaking, that is the best choice for a house the size of ours. Well, he was absolutely right. And to tell you the truth, I have loved the floor. Easy to clean. Makes our space look bigger. What's not to love?

So today, while I was cleaning, I remembered that trick I had read about, and I got so excited! So I ran and got Addie's big fat brown crayon out of her pink pencil box and went to go color in the few scratches that it's gotten. No sooner had I finished it up, when Addie came running over with her GREEN crayon yelling gleefully, "Color on the floor!"

Whoops! I had gotten so caught up in fixing those scratches that taking note of who was following me around never even crossed my mind!

So then I spent the next five minutes reiterating over and over, "No coloring on the floor. Only mommy can color on the floor." And she would repeat back "Only mommy." Yes, only mommy.

So, if you're like me and need a quick fix for some scratches on the laminate, go grab a crayon. It really works. Simply rub off the excess with a paper towel.

Just make sure you do it when no one's looking.

My little helper

28 November 2011


Isn't it a blessing to know that God meets us where we are? (And thankfully doesn't leave us there!) I don't know about you, but sometimes I struggle with knowing "how" to pray about something. You see, I want my prayer to be pleasing to God; but the problem is, many times, my heart is not.

So, I have to go back and ask Him to show me where my desires and ways of thinking are displeasing to Him. And, gently, but painfully, He answers that request. (It's always hard to see ourselves as we really are, isn't it?)

But, even still, I want my prayer to be pleasing to Him. So, again, how should I pray?

This morning, while reading Psalm 57 in my study Bible, God revealed a little gem to my structure-loving heart. Remember? He meets us where we are.

He knows I've been struggling with "how" to pray over a problem.

And He is the One that created me to love structure.

So, I "just happened" to read in my study Bible (which I use a few times a week, as opposed to my regular Bible) that Psalm 57 follows a certain structure - kind of like a sonnet. Of course my interested was piqued. And my structure-loving heart was pricked. Maybe this is how I should pray....

In Psalm 57, David's prayer begins with his PETITION and LAMENT. He presents his problem to God - a pretty big one, at that! Saul is seeking David's life and is smearing his reputation, to put it lightly. But David chooses to go to the One who can do something about it. He lays open his heart before God, with all its hurt, sadness, and fear.

But he doesn't stop there.

He then goes on to declare his TRUST in God. He believes that God will cause his enemies to fall due to their own schemes. "They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves." Remember, God is for us! (Ps. 56:9)

He also declares his THANKSGIVING for Who God is: ""For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds."

Believe it or not, God WANTS us to tell Him our problems. Others may not want to hear all our complaints or may not understand our particular burden. But God tells us over and over in Scripture to bring them to Him. (Phil. 4:6, I Pet. 5:6-7)

And then we must trust Him enough to leave it with Him - which means praying about it every time it starts to creep into our thoughts.

And then we must thank Him for Who He Is.

For His mercy and truth are great!

23 November 2011

Chocolate, of course...

It dawned on me the other day that there is only one recipe on this blog that contains chocolate. That is just wrong. A blog is supposed to represent the writer, present truth, provide a window into real life, blah, blah, blah.

So how could I leave out chocolate???

Please forgive me and enjoy these chocolate-y recipes!

Triple-Decker Brownies

1 box family-size brownies
1 container of cream cheese icing
1 cup chopped, lightly salted peanuts
3 cups rice krispies
1 cup creamy PB
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Prepare the brownies according to package directions (13x9 size).
After they've cooled, spread the icing over the top, and sprinkle the peanuts over the icing.
In a medium saucepan, melt the PB and chocolate chips over medium heat, stirring constantly.
Stir in the Rice Krispies.
Spread this mixture over the brownies. Refrigerate until firm, and then cut into squares.

Homemade Chewy Granola Bars

3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup coarsely chopped peanuts
1 cup sunflower kernels
1/2 (or more) cups chocolate chips
1/2 (or more) cups butterscotch chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 stick butter, melted (a healthier butter substitute works fine, too)

Line a small (8 x 10 ?) baking pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.
Mix all ingredients together.
Spread granola onto foil and bake at 325 for 25 - 30 minutes, until slightly golden.
Let cool to room temp. and cut into bars.

*** I must warn you that the granola bars are addictive. However, they are a good source of protein and probably a great balance of carbs and proteins (which is why it is necessary that I eat one after getting home from the gym!).

01 November 2011

Fairy Stone

Our family enjoyed a really fun get-a-way for a couple days last week. We drove up to Fairy Stone National Park near Stuart, Virginia and stayed in a log cabin. As in an Abraham Lincoln-kind of log cabin. As in no phone service, no internet, no t.v. (except for the Netflix we sneaked in to watch on his laptop - as if it were contraband!). And let me just tell you, I am not complaining about being disconnected for a couple days! But there are a few things we learned while we were gone. Things like...

1. Husbands (the one of you that is out there, somewhere, reading this), take your cell phone with you when you decide to go on a three-hour hike with two little boys... in the drizzling weather....that's in the 40's. Even though it may not have service, you can at least can climb to the top of a mountain and call your wife if you get lost. Or you can call for help if you get a flat tire while driving to another trail. Not that any of those things happened, but your wife might worry that they ARE happening... while you are gone for three hours (near dark) in cold, rainy weather with two little boys.

Just take the phone.

2. Or, don't take the phone. Then when you come back with two little boys who are soaked from the shins down from crossing creeks by jumping from rock to rock, she won't fuss at you. She'll just be glad that you're alive! And then she can tell the park rangers that there's no need to keep all that descriptive information that she gave them. (When she and the toddler hitched a ride up to the ranger station to see if they had "heard" anything.)

No, I'm not making this up.

3. Moving on, Bluegrass will grow on you if you check out the Floyd Country Store Jamboree on a Friday night. Getting orange cream soda in a glass bottle and a bag of nickel candy was fun for us and the kids!

4. Read carefully. In the guest journal in the cabin, a prior guest wrote about a "skunk" living on the porch. She also said she saw several of them. A family of skunks living around the cabin seemed pretty doggone exciting! Well, that was enough for the kids and me to be at the door every time we heard the slightest creak outside. Daniel was bound and determined to get close to a skunk. I had to talk him down from making that happen. But upon re-reading her journal entry the next day, I saw that she had written "skink," as in a small lizard. Whoop-dee-do. She saw a lizard. Well, as I said, read carefully!

5. A couple of days away does wonders, doesn't it? Relaxing and having fun with the family is definitely worth the trouble of planning and saving!

Our view from the front porch

The Perfect Toasted Marshmallow that Thomas made for his Mommy

17 October 2011

Favorite Fall Things

Right now, my favorite Fall things are this....

and this....

Now, I know this isn't a fall picture, but it's the swing and the man on the swing that I'm talking about! (I prefer the kids to be in the yard, playing, rather than climbing all over us while we try to swing and talk.)

I love a Fall sweater and a swing! Now all I need is some good hot apple cider....

What are your favorite Fall things? Leave a comment if you'd like to share with the rest of us. :)

10 October 2011

Do What?

If you have been a Christian for a good while, you can probably think of times when the Holy Spirit really impressed upon your heart to say something or do something specific. Years ago, I think not long after we had our first child, we were going through a pretty difficult time financially. I cannot even remember the specifics - it might have been a large repair bill for our car at the time - but I know we hadn't told anyone about our financial worry. I do remember thinking, "How in the world will we pay this?" And I remember the day that a letter and a check arrived in the mail from my Grandma. (I wish I knew where that letter was!) She had written us a check for a generous amount of money (I don't even remember the sum) and had written something like the following: The Lord placed you on my heart and I knew I needed to do this. I've learned that whenever He tells me to do something, I need to do it right away.

That money met our need; but, more importantly, the valuable lesson I learned from her that day still sticks with me. When the Holy Spirit tells you to do something, do it! If the Lord lays something specific on your heart, follow through!

I can think of times when I have obeyed the Spirit's leading to do something specific for a friend or even a stranger. Immediately, I felt peace and joy that come from obedience. Shamefully, I can also think of times when I second-guessed whether that was really the Holy Spirit prompting me, wondered how I would do that, or made an excuse. Immediately, I felt convicted and knew I had robbed myself of a blessing after the opportunity had passed.

Walking in the Spirit (or being in the "measure of the fullness of Christ" as Beth Moore puts it) is a daily choice. Very simply put, reading His Word, praying, and saying "no" to sin and "yes" to His ways allow us to be filled with His Spirit. And being filled with His Spirit puts us in a position where we can be fully used by Him! Don't you want that?

For your viewing enjoyment (and for a blessing!) I downloaded a rather humorous story that Beth Moore tells about this very thing. :)

08 October 2011

A Thrifty Tradition

Remember that scene in Gone with the Wind when Scarlett digs some kind of vegetable out of the dirt, eats it, throws it up, and then proclaims, "I'll never go hungry again!" Well, I'm pretty sure it was a dirt-covered sweet potato she devoured right then and there. I know, I know. Some of you Gone with the Wind experts know exactly what it was and you're correcting me right now. But what root vegetable could be more southern and carry more tradition than a sweet potato?

And that is exactly why my family (especially my parents), since moving to North Carolina, have developed a tradition of loading up the non-school age grandkids, trekking out to some nice farmer's sweet potato field, and harvesting the leftover sweet potatoes every fall.

Not really. Although it HAS become a tradition, it has nothing to do with some southern nostalgia of the sweet potato. In actuality, we're just really cheap. My husband prefers to call it "frugal." Call it what you will, I like free food. And, yes, I did blog about this last winter, but my mom and I put a new twist on it this year. I talked her into helping me can the sweet potatoes this year.

So, they went from this...
To this...
To this...
...To this. It doesn't get more farm to table than that!

(There really are sweet potatoes under those marshmallows. All I had on hand were campfire marshmallows!)

What surprised my mom and me was how easy canning sweet potatoes is! I baked half my potatoes and boiled the other half (skins on). The skins slipped right off the boiled potatoes. Then all we had to do was quarter them, pack the jars, put a little fresh squeezed orange juice in each jar, pour boiling syrup (2 parts water to 1 part sugar) over them, and then process them. And they're good! Making Daniel's Favorite Sweet Potatoes took no time at all when all I had to do was pour them out of the jar, spice them up, whip them, and then throw some (huge) marshmallows on top! So if you're interested in canning (just about anything), but especially some free sweet potatoes, here's the website to check out.

P.S. I'm not sure why, but my boys will eat vegetables twice as well if they've helped pick them or they even just know that Grandma and I canned them. Whatever the case, it works for me!

*This post is linked to Frugal Fridays

29 September 2011

Some Thursday Cookin'

Thursday is probably my favorite day to cook. And when I say "cook," I mean drag out a bunch of ingredients and try something new. Or maybe something new for lunch, for snack, for supper.... Today is one of those days. So I thought I'd share a new salad recipe I had for lunch today. This one came from the Kroger home mailer, but I tweaked it a little to my liking. It includes beans, asparagus, and olive oil - so it'll make you feel healthy while you're eating it. It also includes lots of onions. Red onions. Green onions. I can sense the excitement growing. And the need for a breath mint. So enjoy!

Tuna Salad with White Beans and Asparagus

1 can of water-packed tuna
1 cup of lightly steamed asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 can of white beans, rinsed well and drained
1/4 cup of red onion
2 T olive oil
1-2 T fresh lime juice
1/4 t garlic powder
1 T minced chives
dash of paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients together.

And for an afternoon snack, you could try these:

Chewy Granola with Butterscotch and Chocolate

It's easy to find a basic recipe on Food Network or All Recipes. Just make sure it includes this:

Health food at its finest.

And now it's time to go pick up the kiddos from school. They're bringing home two of their best buddies so they can look for bugs. That's right. Bugs. Roly-poly's for the buddy's Roly-poly Playground, to be exact. Apparently, we have the house around which you can find lots and lots of bugs. Just what I wanted to be known for. The house with lots of bugs. I think Daniel told the buddy that we have bugs everywhere - or as Daniel would say "EVERYWHERE!" (insert dramatic hand motions). So off I go for an exciting afternoon of bug hunting! :)

19 September 2011

My Boys

It's been a little while since my boys have made an appearance here, so I thought it was time to relay the happenings of their busy little lives. Since Thomas started second grade and Daniel entered kindergarten, their schedules have amped up a bit, but they love their school-time activities. It seems there is always something to look forward to at school, whether it be Daniel's lunch-outside-if-you-behave; Johnny Appleseed Day; watching an HCS soccer game with daddy (where the neighbor's free-roaming chickens are the main attraction for my kids); or even just after-care. Which my children beg to go to every single day. As in, they want to know why I picked them up so early when I arrive at 3:00. And, this morning, Daniel was excited that tomorrow is Tuesday, the day he gets to stay in aftercare. I feel that maybe I should be slightly offended....

ANYWAYS, they've also started AWANAs at church and Thomas begins piano lessons this afternoon - his daddy will be teaching him. So, yes, they are quite busy these days. Even in the afternoons after school, they go to their room together to play with legos, or they play outside with our favorite neighbors' boys.

And when do I get to spend time with them? Well, that is what was starting to worry me a little. They are becoming more independent, thankfully; and they are wanting to follow mommy around less and less, which is probably a good sign. So now, Thomas and I go out to breakfast one Saturday a month, and Daniel and I go out to breakfast on another Saturday. They get so excited over choosing where to eat and having Mommy's undivided attention. And I love it, too. It is nice to talk to each boy one-on-one. I definitely hear more funny stories that way!

This is Daniel REALLY enjoying his doughnut at Krispy Kreme. I have to tell you that no outing with Daniel is complete without a song and dance number. He made sure I was entertained!

Thomas had found a coupon for a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit at Biscuitville. He brought me the coupon a month ago, and made sure I put it in my purse. It was, of course, expired by his Saturday for breakfast. But I love the fact that he wanted to use a coupon! :)

And here's a few pictures from Daniel's 5th birthday, as well.

So there's a little update on the boys. Can you tell I'm proud of them?

15 September 2011

Willing to Simply Be?

At different times, a certain feeling may tug at our thoughts, causing us to become aware of a certain restlessness or, even, uneasiness. It's the feeling that causes you to wonder,
Is there Something else to be done?
Is This what is best?
More, maybe?

Sometimes, I think, God may work through these thoughts to lead us to something better within His will. But, often, I think, it may simply be discontentment nagging at us.

I read a piece of godly wisdom this week - words that the Lord used to reaffirm and encourage me. Maybe someone else will find this thought encouraging and truthful as well.

(Taken from The Shaping of a Christian Family, by Elisabeth Elliot, p. 88)

"...Is this really what God wants for Christian families? If there were the willingness to be content with less money, fewer activities which eat into the budget and take the family away from home, fewer possessions; if there were the willingness to 'be content with such things as you have,' would we not sooner find the truth of God's Word, 'A man's real life in no way depends upon the number of his possessions' (Luke 12:15 PHILIPS)? The willingness to be and to have just what God wants us to be and to have, nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else, would set our hearts at rest, and we would discover that the simpler the life the greater the peace."

It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord gives us just what we need when we need it - in this case, He provided a paragraph!

06 September 2011

A Reminder

Even after ten years, I still feel uneasy and sad every time I see the images of smoke, ashes, and brave men trudging into the burning towers in lower Manhattan. Who can forget where they were, who they were with, and what they thought and felt when they saw the live images of the Twin Towers? And for many of us, those thoughts and feelings were just a drop in a bucket compared to what too many had to experience.

I have dreaded explaining those images to my boys. But last week, my oldest son asked me if those planes had really flown into a building. So that commenced a very short explanation on my part that, yes, that had really happened a few years before you were born. And that's a big reason why we have "army guys" overseas fighting the bad guys.

But, he wanted to know, if the bad guys were flying the planes, then that means they died, too?

Yes. But they hated America and Americans, and they knew they could kill many people that way. And then he said very seriously, as only a seven-year old can, "That's weird. That they hated Americans so much that they would die."

At that point, he moved on to something else (for which I was glad), but what he had said continued to overshadow my thoughts. They hated so much, that they would die. That really is what it boils down to. Hate.

As a Christian, I know that if hate - which is evil - is strong, then Love - which is God-given - is stronger. Christ tells us that those who truly love will give their lives for a friend. For me, this truth always has brought to mind the Ultimate Sacrifice - the picture of Christ dying for us. Although many have died for someone else - the firefighters and policemen of New York did just that - the truth is, we don't actually have to die to give our lives for others.

You see, I'm thankful for people like our friends, the Coats Family, who have given up a comfortable life in the States so they can minister to children in a much less comfortable place.

I'm thankful for my own mother who gave up a decent-paying job so she could raise my sister and me at home.

I'm thankful for the men and women and their families who are willing to serve our country because of their love for its people and the way of life it offers.

I'm thankful for the teachers I had in Christian school and in Bible college who laid aside monetary gain and worldly prestige so they could invest much in the lives of their students.

I'm thankful for my husband, who I often see lay aside his "wants" and what little leisure time he has so he can give to his family.

So, yes, this week I was reminded of the kind of men who would sacrifice their lives on the altar of hate. But even more, I am reminded of the many who lay down their "rights," their lives, so they can make someone else's life better. These people are the kind that love enough that they are willing to ...be uncomfortable... give more than they get... be tired and disappointed... or even die. But they still give. It is people such as these who exemplify what is great in our country.

27 August 2011

It means...

We are officially starting our second week of school on Monday! Yippee! I think we all were ready to go back to the school-swing of things. This time of year always brings with it changes. Some good, some not so good. But that's okay - we'll take it all!

For me, it means....

...we are forced into a routine. I love it!!! I love going to bed at the same time, getting up at the same time.... Just put me in a rut and I'll be happy! :)

...cleaning out closets! Why do I love getting rid of stuff? I love getting hand-me-downs and giving hand-me-downs! The moms in our church are great about passing stuff around and helping each other out - it makes me smile when I think about it!

... planning for Daniel's birthday. When I noticed that some of the milk in the grocery store expired AFTER his birthday, I knew it was time to kick it into high gear. Why do I always procrastinate these things?

...my flower garden and mini-vegetable garden have gone to pot. Travis and I sat on the swing and found ourselves both staring at the ugliness that we call a flower bed. We both agree we need to do something. Actually, he implied that I need to do something. Sooo...

Image taken from Google Image
Hmm. I like this look. Maybe I can talk my brother-in-law to helping me copy this look. If I try it by myself, we'll still be looking at ugliness this time next year.

... thinking about Halloween costumes and Christmas. Don't ask me why planning a birthday party intimidates me, but I'll start making notes about costumes and gifts. I'm thinking maybe a zebra in a tutu for Addie (I can picture it; that's all that matters! :D), and, if the boys have a say in it, then it's Star Wars costumes for them. Christmas means that International Delight will have Vanilla Spiced Rum creamer back in stores (!!!), and I need to start thinking of a better place to hide presents (because of this incident).

Well, enough for now. It's past my scheduled bedtime!

17 August 2011

Attention Kroger Shoppers

If you shop at Kroger, then there's a good possibility that you have a boneless pork loin in your freezer. Kroger puts them on sale for $1.99 at least once a month it seems. And while I do love a good pork roast (with Aunt Sue's being our very favorite around here - you can find it in the Hilltop cookbook), it's also become necessary to find other ways to serve pork. Especially if you have a pork loin hanging out in your freezer on most days! So please let me introduce you to a good recipe for pulled pork sandwiches. It's easy and my kids clean their plates when we have it!

2 1/2 T of dark-brown sugar
1 T paprika
1 t chili powder
1 t ground cumin (I love the stuff, so I add more.)
1 t black pepper
1 boneless pork loin, about 2 lbs., trimmed
1 cup chicken broth (or throw a chicken bouillon cube in a cup of water and microwave it)
2 T cider vinegar
2 T ketchup

Stir together 1 T of sugar, the paprika, chili powder, cumin and pepper. Put the spices on a plate and roll the pork around in it. Save the spices that do not "stick."

Pour the chicken stock in a crock pot, put the pork in, and pour the leftover spices in with them.
Cook on low for 8 hrs., or on high for 6 hrs. Remove pork and cut into large chunks. While the pork is cooling, ladle most of the juices into a sm. saucepan. Stir in remaining sugar, ketchup and vinegar. Cook on med. for about 2 minutes. Use your hands to shred the pork, and then mix in the sauce. Use a slotted spoon to place the meat on (sesame) buns.

These sandwiches pair well sweet potato wedges or the Ore Ida sweet potato fries (which are yummy, by the way).

12 August 2011

Simple picture, simple choice

Sometimes the simplest pictures can have the most impact. Such as chubby little baby feet. Is there a simpler picture of vulnerable, sweet new life? Then there's the image of a long green snake writhing and twisting its way through blades of thick green grass. Is there a better picture of age-old enmity, deception, and danger?

In I John 2:1 and Revelation 12:10, God uses two words that create an illustration of what takes place before Him in Heaven. In Revelation, the Bible calls Satan the "accuser of the brethren." John Phillips points out that in this case, Satan doesn't have to do what comes naturally to him: pervert the truth to spew out lies. Unfortunately, he has only to stand before God and tell the truth about us.

However, I John gives us a very crucial detail of what is taking place on the other side of the throne room. Christ, who sits at the right hand of the Father, the Judge of all the universe, presents Himself as our Advocate. He knows the truth about us. He sees our sin. But he has made himself our substitute. He became our Righteousness and is the believer's constant Advocate before God.

Knowing I have an Advocate with the Father, despite my sin and despite my failures, is so very comforting. What a relief to remember that there is One who stands in my stead and defends me against Satan's accusations.

But while this picture brings comfort to me, it also brings conviction. For when I accuse, am critical, or fault-finding with others, I am being like Satan, the Accuser. What a horrid thought! How often have I found myself so quickly seeing someone's faults or assuming I know the motive for their actions?

But there is another way. When I seek to forgive and forget, or choose to overlook a fault ("love covers a multitude of sins"), I am like Christ, my Advocate. In Feminine Faces, Clovis Chappell states "Satan is supreme in his mistrust of men, Jesus is supreme in his faith. Denied, betrayed, crucified, he tumbled the responsibility for his church upon human shoulders and declared that the gates of hell would not prevail against it." How wonderful to know that God extends grace to the humble, using those who are malleable, despite all their deficiencies, flaws, and failures!

The picture of Satan railing for judgment against believers while Christ so graciously advocates for them simply illustrates the choice that I have. Who will I be like? The Accuser or my Advocate? Will I seek judgment or extend grace? It may not be a simple action, but it is a simple choice.

***This post is linked to Inspired to Action's Motivation Monday

02 August 2011

Cousin Fun

The cousins came to visit from Oklahoma. And according to my kids, summer fun doesn't get much better than this. All the cousins at Grandpa and Grandma's house, trips to Marbles Museum and the beach, ice cream sundaes, and catching lots of bugs. And, of course, a good fight or a good cry here and there just to let off some steam - the method chosen depending on whether the participant catches bugs or wears bows.

So, here's some pictures of our cousin fun.

This picture is rather true to life.

Savannah and the water. This activity ended in two soaked little girls and the end of our day at Marbles!

Addie in the mini-garden at Marbles.

The boys and duck races.

Colton, Daniel, and the Cricket. Daniel longs for the day when he'll have his own pet. So he tries to satisfy his longing with pet bugs. It's really sad! :D

Some cousin love.

More cousin love.

And Addie's had enough.

All in the same evening, from crying to laughing so quickly!

The next few pictures deserve a little more explanation. We went to the beach for a day. And being the spontaneous women that we are (hahaha! if you know me), we took off without checking the weather. The ocean was the roughest I have ever seen it, and we experienced what felt like a mini-sandstorm! But we were not to be deterred! We made those kids have fun! Okay, so not really. The girls weren't so thrilled. But the boys couldn't have cared less! They had fun playing at the very edge of the ocean, while I looked on nervously; playing in the sand; and throwing our belongings at the twenty-odd seagulls that tried to attack us as we ate lunch. On a positive note, we got a kick out of being the lunchtime entertainment for our fellow beach bums. It definitely gave us something to laugh about!

At the end of the day, Thomas tried to get away from the flying sand.

Calling it a day!

Now, we'll have to start planning our Fall version of Cousin Fun! Suggestions welcome. :)

14 July 2011

The Submarine

When he was a baby, he was called "Tank." He really was quite a solid little thing.

Today he acquired a new nickname: "The Submarine."

On the last day of swimming lessons, Daniel got to show us everything that he has learned. He can jump in, surface, and start swimming. He's also starting to swim on his back a little bit. But we really enjoyed watching him swim freestyle for several yards. Until he ran out of breath. That's when the instructor told him he was a submarine. And apparently Daniel, formerly known as Tank, took that as a compliment. Because when my mom and I told him what a good job he was doing, and that he was just like a little fish, he emphatically told us he was not a fish. He was a submarine. I guess that does sound a little more manly and tough than "a little fish."

Daniel, the Submarine, swimming to his instructor

And, of course, celebrating the Submarine and his success at swimming lessons is always a good excuse to visit Sherry's Bakery. The place that can help us look like a family of submarines.

All in all, Daniel really did love swimming lessons - and improved quite a bit! I love the fact that every day when I peeked through the window to check on him, he was smiling - while he was swimming. I love my happy little submarine!