28 May 2010

day dreaming

... about getting married on the beach-- again!

Date~ October 2011
Location~ TBD but we are thinking maybe Hawaii, Cancun or the Caribbean.

We had the perfect beach wedding in 2001 but as our 10 year anniversary approaches, we've been thinking about recommitting our vows to one another. This time around, we very much want our children to witness and be a part of our beautiful marriage covenant. The girls will be 5.5 years-old by then and old enough to remember this special day for years to come. We had a pretty big wedding before and since this will be so much more about our commitment to each other, to God, and to our family, we've decided on a very casual and intimate ceremony-- just the four of us. I know I shouldn't plan too far ahead in the future but one can dream~ hope~ pray~ and ask for the Lord's blessing. Needless to say, I have two very excited maids of honor over here!

26 May 2010

Mom2Mom

The beautiful cake that mentor mom, Nancy Walker made!

dear friends- Hailey, Kerri & Cat.

Our sweet mentor moms.

This morning, we wrapped up the last day of our ministry year at Mom2Mom and as always, we celebrated in a special way. Today was also bittersweet for me because it marked my last day at M2M. I've been attending M2M for the last 3 years. I've served in leadership during every session in those 3 years (with the exception of the first session). I told myself that I wasn't going to cry today. I managed okay. After all, it was a day of celebration and thanks to the Lord for all He has done!

Prior to last week, I was still having mixed emotions as the day approached.
I have loved being a part of this amazing ministry. Like so many of the women there, when I first walked into that big room 3 years ago, I didn't know a soul.
I was a new mom to twin girls, new to our church, and new to the desert. Mom2Mom has been a lifesaver for me. It has helped me grow in so many godly ways. I've learned how to be a better mom, wife, daughter, and friend. Perhaps most importantly, it has encouraged me to embrace this beautiful and sacred calling of motherhood. It has helped me to realize that we as mothers have a powerful influence, not only in our homes but for the world and for God's Kingdom. The bonus- God allowed me to use my gifts and talents in a way that I never dreamed of-- all the while, learning how to be the woman He has called me to be. M2M has been a place of rest, encouragement, wisdom, love, support, and challenge. I enjoyed being ministered to, as well as having the privilege of encouraging others along the way. I have gained so much from the warm support of fellow moms, friends, mentors, and a diverse array of inspiring speakers. I have served alongside some of the most phenomenal women-- women who have a true heart for service and for the Lord. Oh, how I will miss my Wednesday mornings!

So, what do I plan to do with my Wednesdays and all the time that I spent serving at M2M? In this new season of life, God has called me to work on being my best- at home. I will be dedicating my time and energy to schooling my girls on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Tuesdays will remain our co-op day. On Thursdays, I will be attending Community Bible Study. The great thing about CBS is that they also have a coinciding bible study program for the kids. Fridays are still being kept open for field trips, travel, or just plain rest. We may also enroll the girls in one extra-curricular activity but as you can see, our schedule is pretty full.

Just last week, I was still going back and forth in my mind about returning to M2M. I knew that I was getting emotional about the decision as the day approached, even though in my heart, I already knew it was my time to step away. Just as I pondered it again one night, God gave me this excerpt from the book, The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace.

A godly mother has her priorities right in relation to her time and children. "Her husband should be the primary benefactor of his wife’s time and energy, not the recipient of what may be left over at the end of the day. Whether her husband is a faithful Christian man or an unbeliever, God wants every Christian woman to be a godly wife- an excellent wife." ~ Martha Peace

After reading that, I immediately had a sense of peace. I knew that God wanted me to stay home and pour my heart into the most important ministry that He gave me-- my family. Maybe I'm just getting to know myself too well but I knew that if I took on too many responsibilities, my husband would be the one to suffer the most. I am committed to serving him better and I can't do that unless I give him the best of my time and energy, not the left-overs.

I do have a passion for encouraging others- especially new moms, new believers, and folks who are considering adoption. God has taught me recently that I don't need to have a title or be on a leadership team to make an impact or encourage others around me. Morgan and I will continue to serve together during Sunday school, our church's orphan ministry, and opportunities around our community.

What a joy and privilege it's been to serve and grow alongside these beautiful women. I am so blessed! Only God knows what the future holds; maybe one day I'll be back? For now, I am so thankful for Mom2Mom and all that it's meant to me during the last 3 years.

Long live, Mom2Mom!

25 May 2010

Family Rules


Last week, I read about Family Rules on my friend, Aubrey's blog. It reminded of a biography I read on Barbara Bush years ago. In the book, she mentioned the fact that she always had 'family rules' posted in her house. The cool part about it was that even her grandchildren knew and obeyed them. So, when I saw this again on Aubrey's blog, I thought it was time to lay down the law! No, seriously, I just thought it was a great way to put the things we already do and teach on paper. Over time, hopefully, our kids will actually remember these rules and carry them into their future. Not to mention- it'll keep us grown-ups accountable, too!

You can find these family rules taped to our kitchen wall, right under our scripture for the week and next to the table where we eat together. I used a piece of black card stock and some scrapbooking paper I had. Don't ask me why I have scrapbooking paper-- I've never made a scrapbook in my life! I didn't feel like writing the rules so I just typed them out and had some fun changing the font as I went along. I tried to make it somewhat colorful so that the girls would think it's interesting to look at. After dinner, we went over each rule together as a family and then we prayed over them and asked for God's help and blessing.

Have you given any thought to what your family rules are? Also, I'd be interested to know if anyone grew up with a set of written family rules?

22 May 2010

Forty three



My parents are celebrating their 43rd wedding anniversary tomorrow! They're staying at Agua Caliente Resort & Spa for the weekend and since it's so close to us, we were able to meet up them this morning. We spent much of our time swimming and having lunch poolside. It was great! We hope they win big on the penny slots and enjoy their steak dinner! Congrats, mom & dad!

21 May 2010

Peter Rabbit Farms

My sweeties, holding hands.

Learning about corn.

Grace, Faith, and Annaliza following Mr. Louie.

Mr. Louie teaching us about bell peppers.

Faith found one just her size.

Grace, too.

My little farmers.

The kids got to pick some peppers.

Among the grape vines.

me and my girls.

Mr. Louie passes out bags of goodies to take home.

Lots of friends joined us (20 kids, 12 moms, and 1 grandma)!

We had another FANTASTIC field trip this morning. My neighbor, Louie has worked at Peter Rabbit Farms for the last 40 years! He was gracious enough to be our tour guide and show us the seasonal crops that make up some of the 7,000 acre farm. We learned about corn, carrots, bell peppers, and table grapes. He even brought us crate fulls of veggies and fruit to take home.
So yummy!

Summer Scriptures

The other day, the girls asked me for more scriptures. School's been out for a week and a half now, but I guess it's not surprising that they got used to our routine. We typically recited our verses before meals and bedtime. I decided to come up with some verses that we can memorize and place in our hearts until school starts again. Per Morgan's request, he asked me to pick some that aren't so long. :) After all, it IS summer break!

Summer Scriptures~
 
Week of May 17 & 24
“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28

Week of May 31 & June 7
“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” -Proverbs 22:6

Week of June 14 & 21
“Don’t just listen to the Word. You fool yourselves if you do that. You must do what it says.” -James 1:22

Week of June 28 & July 5
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." -Proverbs 3:5-6

Week of July 12 & 19
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." -John 14:6

Week of July 26 & Aug 2
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother.” -Ephesians 6:1

19 May 2010

It's official...

POOL SEASON has finally arrived!!
Can you sense the JOY??

~Grace~

~Faith~

Our pool finally got up into the low 80's! I should hope so, with it being 97 degrees today! Looking back on the blog, it looks like we were in the pool a whole month earlier last year. We are happy to say, "Buh-bye, cooler temps. Bring on the heat!"

16 May 2010

Global Crisis

Fact: Did you know that there are over 143 MILLION orphans in the world? If put together, they make up half the size of the U.S. and would be the 8th largest country in the world. On Monday night, I attended a civil forum on Orphans & Adoptions. Although the meeting was held at my church, it was actually broadcast live via web cast, from Saddleback Church & Pastor Rick Warren. Here are some heartbreaking stats...

-12,000-15,000 children a day are being orphaned.
-kids don't need money or a larger orphanage, they need the love of a permanent family.
-in the U.S. there are 500,000 children in foster care.
-90-100,000 of those kids live here in CA.
-in Rwanda, there are 10 Million people total. 1 Million or 10% of those people are orphans.
-in Rwanda, children as young as 9 are often the head of household, caring for their younger siblings.

I believe as Christians, we are called to help those that cannot help themselves. The voice of the orphan is rarely heard. However, when you have a crisis of this magnitude, we all need to take notice and ask God to show us how we can help. James 1:27 says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Pastor Rick encouraged us to view this scripture as a mandate to believers. Notice that orphans are mentioned first in this scripture?

Every believer is called to do something. What is that something you ask?
Here are some suggestions...

-Pray
-Help orphans in my community
-Help orphans globally
-Adoption or foster care
-Help a family who is adopting (meals, finances, babysitting, cleaning, etc.)

When you figure out the why, God will show you the how.

Obviously, I am passionate about adoption. Why? Because for me, it has been the greatest, most unexpected gift. If I had never opened my heart to adoption, I may have never fully understood or realized how I myself, have been adopted into God's family. If all my plans had worked out exactly as I thought they would, I would have probably stayed on my self-righteous and self-absorbed path, never to have truly been blessed by the plan that God had for me. The process of adoption for us was definitely a God thing. As He began to place it on our hearts, I studied His word and knew without a doubt, that this is what He wanted us to do. We trusted every aspect of our journey to Him and in the end, He delivered double the blessing, double the joy, and double the lifetime of love and lessons. I am quite certain that obedience plus doing the will of God, produces nothing but great delight in the heart of our Father.

Morgan and I are thrilled to know that our church is taking some initiative by starting an orphan and adoptions ministry. We are excited to help in any way we can. One of the reasons why I love to talk about our adoption experience is because it has become our testimony of God's goodness. Lately, as the girls play pretend mommy (with a baby in their stomach), I've been asking them the question, "And how many children do you think you'll adopt?" They always tell me a number and I smile. :) Wouldn't be wonderful to live in a world where 1 out of 10 families have adopted?

My challenge to you today, as a believer, is to pray. Pray for God's wisdom, His desire for you and your family, and for the 143 million orphans whose voices cannot be heard, yet their faces can no longer be ignored. Would you be bold enough to ask God what His plans are for you? More importantly, would you be willing to do it when you hear His answer? If not the church family, then who? The body of Christ, with it's global reach and impact can make a significant difference. Here's your opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute." ~ Proverbs 31:8-9

14 May 2010

12 Months of the Year Song

video

Our own version of the 12 months of the year. :)

13 May 2010

The Heart of the Matter


Morgan and I have made a conscious decision to move away from spanking and even time-outs. Why? Because now that our children are getting older, they are more capable of understanding scripture as well as what God desires for us. In our home, we used spanking for willful disobedience. We tried never to spank in anger but in love.

We used 4 steps:
-the explanation of the sin
-the spank
-the forgiveness
-the reconciliation.

If done properly, I believe that spanking can help children grow in self-control, respect, and obedience. Our goal as parents is to eventually lead our children to see their own sin. In doing so, we hope to better prepare them for a heart that understands the need of a Savior. Without a doubt, spanking is "easy" compared to taking the time to open up the bible and show our children the ways of God.

I always tell my girls that God has a very special plan for them and that He chose us to be their parents so that we can teach them to be like Christ and prepare them for that plan. Lately, I have to admit, at times, it's been down right exhausting. But we persevere and keep at it because we know there is no greater calling as a parent. "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6

A gift of encouragement!
Earlier this week, I was thoughtfully explaining to Faith why "talking-back" to your parents is disrespectful and rude. Then, all by herself, she quoted Colossians 3:20, "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord." Right, mom?- I couldn't help but smile. As with everything in parenting, guiding my children to the heart of God has given me more opportunities to pray.

In Biblical parenting, the parent must look past the behavior and see the heart issue. For it is the heart which must be softened and encouraged toward God. ~Training Children With Grace and Truth

"You cannot control your children, you say. Then the Lord have mercy on you! It is your business to do it, and you must do it, or else you will soon find they will control you. No one knows what judgment will come from God upon those who allow sin in children to go unrebuked."
~ Charles Spurgeon

"Education in itself without moral correction does little except to produce clever sinners." ~ Melvin Tinker

"If we never have headaches through rebuking our children, we shall have plenty of heartaches when they grow up." ~ Charles Spurgeon

11 May 2010

Last Day of School

Pump It Up!

Lunchtime.

These were the teacher's gifts we made for Hailey & Shannon.
We gave them with a red ink pad.

It's hard to believe that today was our last day of preschool! The kids had a minimum day at Hailey's followed by a morning of jumping, bouncing, and sliding at Pump It Up. Afterwards, we all enjoyed lunch together at Taco Bell.
It was the first time the girls have ever eaten at Taco Bell and they liked it!
A good time was had by all!

We look forward to one last field trip next week, followed by summer break, lots of time spent in the pool, and hanging out with friends. We also have a couple of service projects and fun activities planned during the summer. The co-op will stay the same for next year with Pre-K beginning on August 10th-- we're starting a little early since we plan to take the whole month of December off. I'm so proud of all the kids! Congratulations to all of us- the kids, the little kids, and us teachers! We did it!!

Stuart Little

This is the 4th week of NO TELEVISION, whatsoever for the girls. They never watched much before and the only two programs I allowed were Mickey Mouse and Imagination Movers. However, a couple of times a week, I was guilty of using the TV as a babysitting tool when I failed to do my morning exercise before they got up in the morning. I would often get preoccupied with writing, spending too much time on my computer, or just enjoying my morning coffee. In a perfect world, I would have already exercised and showered, all before 7 AM.

So, in light of no more TV, 3 things have happened...

1. I am up, exercised, and showered... on most days.

2. On the days when I'm running behind, I just allow them to play or give them a project to do at the kitchen table.

3. I've had to wait and do my exercise and shower in the afternoon, while they nap.

Obviously, #1 is optimal, #2 is less optimal, and #3 is my least favorite. I quickly figured out that I am not an afternoon work-out or shower kinda girl.
I like to be up and ready to start my day!

So, why did I decide on no more TV altogether? Because I knew I was using the TV for my own personal desires. I wasn't engaging my girls while watching something together, like we do when we have movie nights as a family. It became an easy way for me to pacify them, while I finished what I wanted to do. I'm pretty sure that's called selfishness or lack of planning. Anyway, I felt convicted and it was time to do something about it.

So, what have we been doing instead? We've been reading up a storm. We love our local library. Biweekly, we check out 10-12 books on average. We also just finished reading the classic book, Stuart Little by E. B. White. It was the first children's book he published in 1945. The book scarcely has any pictures in it. It's comprised of 15 chapters, 131 pages, and it's said to be optimal for 2nd-4th grade reading. We made our way through, chapter by chapter, and as the pages turned, the girls grew more and more fond of the little mouse. My girlfriend, Hailey first encouraged me to read books to the girls without many pictures in them (thanks, Hai!). After no time at all- I saw their listening skills and comprehension improve. Their vocabulary has also broadened. Reading to my girls has become such a joy for me, especially now since we are moving on to books with more words. We have such tender moments of listening, cuddling, explaining, laughing and questioning. I hope to instill a love of books and imagination onto my children, rather than the enticing lure and often temporal satisfaction that comes with passively watching TV.

Lessons we learned in Stuart Little-
-Size does not matter.
-Courage is bigger than strength.
-True love and friendship knows no bounds.
-Nobility and politeness are something to be admired.
-Adventure is fun!

When we finished the last page, the girls asked, "Can we read it again?!" Thankfully, this book is ours. We were given a collection of books by E.B. White as a gift (Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web, and The Trumpet of the Swan) so we are looking forward to enjoying these and many more classics for years to come.

10 May 2010

Mother's Day Weekend- Part 2

Me and my girls.

Playing in the sand.

Our treasures.

Faith building sand castles.

Me and my man.

Grace, trying to climb a tree.

Swinging on the seaside playground.

My loves.

We spent the day at the beach for Mother's Day. I knew it was going to be kind of chilly but I didn't mind. We dressed in layers and had no intention of going into the water anyway. I simply longed to smell the salt air, feel the ocean breeze and marvel at the power and beauty of the Pacific Ocean. Plus, I knew the whole family would love it- sun or no sun. I miss living at the beach and about this time of year, my soul longs to be near the ocean. We took our time, enjoyed the scenic route, and we let ourselves dream. We collected beach treasures and fed the hungry squirrels. We packed a picnic lunch and ate at the seaside park on the bluff. We laughed and played until our heart's content. My family showered me with accolades, kisses, hugs, and prayers.
I am blessed beyond measure. It was a perfect Mother's Day.

~Faith's bedtime prayer~
"Lord, thank you for my mom. I like her. I love her very much, too. Thank you for giving me my mom. "

"God sends many beautiful things to this world, many noble gifts; but no blessing is richer than that which He bestows in a mother who has learned love's lessons well, and has realized something of the meaning of her sacred calling." ~ J.R. Miller

Mother's Day Weekend- Part 1

After dinner family photo.

Me and my lovely.

Demure little princesses.

A shark and a rat?

Fun!

Ready for the Derby.

I love Gracie's face here.

Us.

We went to church on Saturday night since we knew we wanted to take a road trip on Sunday morning. After church, we had dinner at Aqua Pazza, followed by a visit to our favorite hat store. Dinner out is defintely a treat for me on Mother's Day!

08 May 2010

Brunch


We had Morgan's parents over for brunch this morning. I just love the simplicity and ease of brunch. On the menu was baked blueberry french toast, chili relleno casserole, turkey sausage patties, and a fruit salad. It was my first time making the two casseroles and I had to adjust the measurements as well as the cooking times for the amount I wanted to serve. That's always a little tricky for me since that's getting into the baking territory! Anyway, both turned out great and everyone enjoyed it. I guess it was a success since my mother-in-law asked for the recipe to both dishes. :) I loved the fact that it was super easy, too. Happy Mother's Day to both of our wonderful moms! We love you and appreciate you so!

07 May 2010

Frozen Banana Ice Cream Sandwiches

Start by baking a dozen chocolate chip cookies.

Melt the semi-sweet choc chips by using a double boiler and 1 tsp. of veg oil.

Cookies are baked and cooled.

The chocolate sauce is looking silky and fabulous.

The recipe called for toffee candy (like Skor) but my hubby prefers Snickers.

Apply choc sauce to 6 of the cookie tops- i know, as if it needs chocolate sauce!

To the bottom of the other 6 cookies, add sliced bananas (healthy, right?).

After setting in the freezer for 1 hour, it's time to scoop the ice cream.

Now the hard part- let the sammys set in the freezer for another couple of hours! Yup, a lesson in patience. :)

If you don't know it already, I have a passion for food. I not only like to eat good food but I also like to make it look pretty. You eat with your eyes first, right? Although I'm not a very good baker, I do realize that my girls get great joy out of helping me bake and work in the kitchen. They also love to help because they often get samples along the way and then we all get to enjoy the sweet rewards afterwards. This was a recipe I got from Giada at Home.

I love her show and her sense of style- casual elegance. And her food- it always looks delicious and pretty.

Anyway, there's nothing healthy about these ice cream sandwiches, other than the bananas. You can omit the bananas if you want more of a chocolate experience. I went a little easy on the chocolate sauce as well. This was simply an excuse to create memories in the kitchen with my girls and make an unexpected treat for my family. We made them yesterday and so far, Morgan's had two whole sammies and the girls and I have each had a quarter of one. They are fabulously decadent. Not to mention, pretty cute. Give 'em a try!

*oh yeah, almost forgot to mention- in order to make it easier, I used store bought cookie dough!

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