Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Here is a "little known fact" about me. I LOVE to sew! I don't get to do it much anymore (in fact I haven't seen my machine in about 4 years) but together my trusty Kenmore and I cranked out some glorious creations, until I somehow ran out of time and creativity.

More than anything I loved making Halloween costumes. In the kids' elementary school I was known as the costume lady and every year I would spend weeks making costumes for my kids, my husband, myself and anyone else who needed one.

The beauty of costumes is that they don't have to be perfect (size is approximate, they fasten with Velcro...) and they are unique. When you make it yourself you won't find anyone else dressed quite like you are. Unfortunately I learned that making costumes doesn't save money. In fact homemade ones can cost more than store bought.

I know Halloween is a Pagan holiday with all kinds of wicked associations but I can't help it, I just melt when I see all of those little children in their costumes! In our house we like to think it is an innocent day when we can all let out our "inner child" and play dress up together!!

I have put together a slideshow of some of our favorites over the years........

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another Word-Filled Wednesday.......

I first memorized Philippians 4:7-8 several years ago in a scripture memory contest. I think I won a giant sized 3 Musketeers bar but the real prize was burying this verse in my heart. I can't tell you how many times I have come back to it.

I don't know about you but my life seems to be "extra anxious" these days: The election, teenagers, the economy, natural disasters, gas prices, teenagers, juggling schedules & deadlines, and did I mention teenagers (lol).... Not to mention that Satan is roaring around looking for a way to devour me and those I love.

What is a girl to do??? Thank goodness Paul has given me an answer: " be thankful, tell God all about it through prayer" and in return He promises "a peace to guard our hearts and minds." Sounds like a good deal to me!

Of course it doesn't hurt if you are able to pray for peace in a peaceful place (like at a lake retreat) but Paul is saying that God's peace is available in the chaos of every day life as well. That is really the peace that transcends all understanding and it is the peace that I need today!

Check out more WFW posts here.....

Monday, October 27, 2008

Be Wise -- Prioritize....

Since I was a little girl I have been a people-pleaser. Let's face it, who doesn't want to be loved and validated, especially by those closest to us?

On the other hand, one thing I love about being over 40 is that I am so much more comfortable in my own skin, and I don't feel the need to impress or live up to other people's expectations.

That doesn't mean I don't wish for acceptance by others (I don't think that ever truly goes away) I just don't live for it. And since each individual has different expectations, values and priorities I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be able to please everyone! As soon as I do, you can be certain I am letting someone else down.

What I have learned, and am continuing to learn, is that as an adult woman (and all of the roles that includes) I have a responsibility to set my own beliefs and priorities and not compromise them to please other people. If I fail in doing that then my life will stand for nothing and my purpose will never be fulfilled. I am reminded of the country song "You've Got to Stand For Something or You'll Fall For Anything."

So what are my beliefs and priorities?

First and foremost I am building my life on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ and the Grace that He offers.

How do I do that? Through spending plenty of time studying His word and on my knees in prayer. Some might think this is a waste of time; I disagree. It is the BASIS on which my entire life is built. For me the Bible is a literal translation of how to live my life and I consider prayer the privilege of entering into a relationship with God. I don't understand why people would bother praying if they don't believe in the POWER behind it. Not only are our prayers eternal, they are also the most powerful weapon we have against the darkness of this world! God has issued us an invitation to commune with Him, how will you respond? I will respond with nothing less than complete submission to His call on my life to spread the Gospel through the ministries in which He has placed me (my marriage, motherhood, CBS, Church, Lifegroup).

Following faith, the next in my list of priorities is my family. Meaning, I am investing my time and energy into my husband and children. I believe that being a mom carries certain responsibilities. This may mean missing out on some things (parties and social events, travel opportunities...etc) but as Laura Schlesinger says, "I am my children's mother." If I don't put my children first, who will?

One of my favorite verses in scripture is: "One generation will commend your works to another, they will tell of your mighty acts." My husband and I neither one come from a "biblical" background but it is our deepest desire that our children (the next generation) will know Who God is and have a personal relationship with Him. Yes they will make mistakes, just as I have made and will continue to make mistakes, but together we will know the grace our Heavenly Father offers when we humble ourselves, ask forgiveness and submit to Him. My heart rejoices at the knowledge that my husband and 5 oldest children have confessed Christ as Lord of their lives and been baptised.

Fitness and Finances would be next on my list of priorities . I have been blessed beyond measure in both of these areas of my life but in very different ways.

Although I would love to lose 15 pounds I realize that after birthing 7 babies things could be a lot worse! However being in my mid 40's I realize it is more important than ever that I have a healthy fitness plan. For me working out relieves stress and makes me feel so much stronger and better about myself so it is a crucial part of my life plan.

Finances are definitely a "hot button" for me. Although we have never been "poor" I would not say we have ever been "financially stable" either. But again, after 7 kids and several career changes things could be a lot worse. My background is one of financial struggle and being completely dependant on my husband's income (0r lack of it) is a scary thing for me. But then I remind myself that it is God who provides. He has gotten us this far and I can trust Him!

So there it is: Faith, Family, Fitness and Finances.

The areas of priority in my life. It isn't a list for everyone and I would never want to tell someone else what their list should look like. Even my children need to develop their own lists based upon what is most important to them. Yes, I would love it if they all looked exactly like mine but most likely they won't. It doesn't make them wrong, it makes them unique.

God has made us all as individuals with different gifts and talents that He wants us to use to please Him and when it comes down to it isn't that the One we need to focus on pleasing?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Meet the Parents (parent's edition)

Before I begin this post I have a confession to make....
I didn't really catch the fish in the previous post. The man of the house caught it in some kind of "fish cage" that sits in the water and we each took a turn getting our picture with it. I never even touched that fish.
And in case you are concerned, they let it go right after the photo shoot! Sorry if I was deceptive, I guess I was living out my fantasy of being a "Fisher Woman"! lol

Now today it is all about the child who claims I never write about her on my blog....

One night, right before Labor Day, my oldest daughter was visiting and explaining to my husband and I how wonderful her "on again/off again" boyfriend was. Even though we thought he was selfish and controlling she was convinced it could work if she would just change a few things about herself (like eat healthier, get in shape, wear more revealing clothes, be more fun...).

As her mom I wasn't convinced and I prayed for God to intervene. Specifically I prayed that somehow God would open her eyes and show her the plan He has for her life, and that she would have the courage to pursue it before she was burdened with big consequences from an unhealthy relationship.

Well God acted fast and I didn't have to wait long. The boyfriend broke up with her the next day, saying "he spent too much money when they were together." I know you must be thinking "what a charmer!" but she was devastated! For two weeks she cried until her eyes were swollen.

Then one day, about mid September, I got an emergency phone call from her:

"Mom, I have a date with a guy named Dominic!"
"Great! With a name like Dominic I'm guessing he's Italian."
"NO, I am sure he is not but he does come from a family of 8 kids."

First thing the next morning I received another phone call:

"Mom, it was wonderful! He is sooo nice but I do think he is Italian."
"Really? Why do you think so?"
"His brothers are Tony, Vinnie and Dimitri."
"Yeah, that is pretty Italian!"

Over the past few weeks she and Dominic have become almost inseparable. The old boyfriend has done his best to get her back but she has moved on. God's timing couldn't have been more perfect! If she had still been dating the wrong guy she wouldn't have ended up with this guy, and if she hadn't met this guy she most likely would have returned to "Mr. Wrong".

So this week we had Lauren and Dom over for dinner. We ate some yummy Italian Sausage Soup (yes, I'm sure the sausage was Italian, lol) and enjoyed some great conversation.

He seems like a really nice guy and it is good to see my daughter so happy! I know from experience that there is nothing like suffering through a bad relationship to make you appreciate a good one!

Here is a picture of the two of them........

And here is a link to the recipe for the Italian Sausage Soup I made. It is my favorite kind of recipe: Cheap, Fast and Easy!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

WFW~~Pursuing Peace......

My Word-Filled Wednesday post this week is a picture I took at the Lake last weekend. I chose a verse about the peace God offers because that is exactly what I have been craving recently.....

What I love about this verse is that God does the work (sanctifying).....I just have to allow Him to do it!

In an unstable world that encourages tolerance and conformity my prayer is that I will be receptive to God's sanctifying work in me. Only then will I be able to know the peace and hope that is found in Christ! I truly don't know how people get through the day (much less a lifetime) without it!

Below are a few more of my lake pictures. It really was a wonderful (and peaceful) weekend!

On the dock......

My turn to drive the Sea Doo.....

My big catch.....

Hiking for a beautiful view.....

Ready for the hot tub.....

Be sure to visit AmyDeanne's site for more WFW posts!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Checking My Tank....

What I haven't been doing lately:
~ Blogging

What I have been doing lately:
~ Going to the gym regularly for strength training
~ Running Outside for cardio
~ Saving money by making my own protein shakes (peanut butter/banana, yum!)
~ Writing and delivering my first teaching lecture at CBS (Genesis 14)
~ Traveling to St. Louis for a weekend Leadership Conference
~ Climbing mountains of laundry
~ Being a chef for picky eaters
~ Disciplining my teenage son who decided to "entertain" a few friends while his parents were out of the house
~ Advising my oldest daughter in her new relationship and how to deal with the old boyfriend who now wants her back (isn't that always the way it works?)
~ Encouraging the college daughter who feels stupid because she doesn't understand her Actuary class (??)
~ Mothering my teen daughter through a broken heart
~ Helping that same daughter find a job
~ Taking the 11 yr. old to get a leg X-ray just to find it's a "deep contusion"
~ Watching soccer games (two kids), cheerleading, basketball...
~ Driving carpools
~ Spending a girls weekend at the lake with women from my small group

I heard a great speaker at the conference I went to recently in St. Louis. His name is Wayne Cordeiro and one of the things he talked about was how we need to know 2 things about ourselves:
1) who & what fills us (relaxes us, brings peace and joy, inspires us....)
2) who & what drains us (causes us stress and anxiety).

Once we know this, and then find ourselves facing the drain of a stressful situation, we need to be especially intentional about "filling" ourselves back up. We do that by being with the people, and participating in the activities, that fill us.

Unfortunately, most of the time we do just the opposite and cut back on the things that bring us pleasure in order to concentrate on the stressful situation. The danger in that is, eventually we become so drained that we have an anxiety attack or nervous breakdown.

Here are a few conclusions I came to about myself...

~Writing and doing bible study!! (blogging, journaling, lectures, devotions....)
~Reading!! (both fiction and non fiction)
~"Down time" (blocks of time with nothing scheduled)
~"Working out" and running on a regular basis!
~Snuggling one on one with my kids!
~Time alone with my husband!
~Visiting different places!
~Talking with Girlfriends!

~Over taxed schedules!!
~Worrying about my kids
~Financial concerns (bills, college cost, large item expenses...)
~A messy or cluttered house!
~Unfinished business!
~ Friction in relationships/confrontation!
~Intense competition!

As I look back at my recent activity I can see that I have a lot of drain in my life right now (worries about my kids, an overtaxed schedule, a cluttered home, lots of competition, living under deadlines...)

Fortunately, at the same time I have been forcing myself to do some things that fill me back up (bible study, working out, going to the lake with girlfriends....).

It isn't easy because my inclination is to focus my time and energy on "fixing the drain" instead of "filling the tank" but that is a dangerous philosophy. The fact is, the drain will never be completely fixed. It may change over time and it may vary in size but it will always be there.

SO I am challenged to keep pouring into my life those things that "fill me up" and hopefully will keep me sane (or at least allow me to type on my blog a little more often, lol)!

How is your tank doing???

Friday, October 3, 2008

Where Does the Time Go?

One of my Christmas traditions is to send cards to friends and family. Many of these people I haven't seen in a long time and yet every year I write the same note: "Let's get together soon!" I have honest and great intentions but most of the time another year passes before I have a chance to make good on the suggestion.

Sometimes I wonder if they even remember who I am. I begin to think, "perhaps I shouldn't bother them with more mail" or "I'm sure it would be awkward to call them up out of the blue."

That is how I have been feeling about my blog lately. I haven't written in so long! The more I think about how long it has been since I have written, the more I think "just give it up, you are not a blogger."

There have been many things I have wanted to blog about over the past couple of weeks but when I sit down to type my mind goes blank. There is definitely truth to the idea that blogging regularly is like exercise for your brain, it trains you to think in "story terms". But just like any other exercise, if you stop using your "story muscle" it loses it's strength fast.

I have felt so guilty about putting off posting that I haven't even looked at my blog. I was sure you all had gotten tired of checking in with me and moved on to "updated" sites. But this morning I finally opened my blog and read the comments, prayers and words of encouragement! I feel a bit like Tony Orlando when he saw the "Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree..." Thanks for not giving up on me or forgetting about me. I do love this community and I have missed it (meaning all of you) very much!!

So now that I have "broken my silence" I do promise to write again very soon. No, really I mean it!!! LOL As usual my life has been filled with all kinds of activity, drama, comedy, highs, lows, laughter and tears (and of course a steady flow of laundry) but I have felt God's presence in amazing ways throughout the past couple of weeks and I can't wait to engage my "story muscle" and blog all about it!!