Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thank-you Snapfish

This is a very belated thank you to Snapfish. So, to say thank you to them, I have a great story to tell you!

Back in March I had posted (see that post here) about a Snapfish book my hubby and I made for my mother-in-law. It was a book full of pictures from a PowerPoint presentation and memories that people has shared about her late husband at his funeral celebration. After posting, a comment was left by Otto Imken, Customer Support Manager of Snapfish. He said he was touched by the story posted. He generously sent us 3 more copies of this photobook--one for each of the brothers! We were thinking about purchasing more copies anyway, so this gift was just wonderful! Each of the brothers LOVED their books and the memories they held.

So once again, thank you Snapfish and Otto! We appreciate your generosity!!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Words From Wednesday (Devotional)

God's Ways

About two years ago, my husband's dad (F) had a stroke. He stayed in the hospital for a few days. As a result, we all spent a bunch of time in the hospital, too.

The morning following his stroke, the immediate family gathered in a meeting room just down the hallway from where F was to spend the next few days. We were met there by a doctor who shared with us F's condition and progress. We were also met there by a pastor who sat with us, asked questions of us, read the Bible with us, and prayed with us. We trusted that God was a good God, a loving God, and a God who had the power to heal F. We trusted that this "suffering" was going to somehow manifest itself for His glory.

A few days later, my father-in-law went to his eternal home. And while we thanked God for F's arrival to a place of no more suffering, we spent a bunch of time grieving for our loss. And we spent time thinking about God, who is good, loving and had the power to heal. We thought about how this could possibly manifest itself for His glory.

At his funeral, those who attended were given the opportunity to write down memories of F to share with his family. At the end of the service, a huge basket of folded pages was collected. Later on, we gathered again with the immediate family and read over some of the memories people had shared. What an incredible gift it was to hear their experiences with someone we loved so dearly. We laughed and cried together and remembered the man God had graced the world with for less than 60 years.

One particular memory stood out for me. I do not recall who wrote it, and when my husband and I were copying some of these stories into a memory book for his widowed mom, we couldn't find it. I believe it was written by a man from a local recovery home who has recently become friends with F. In their few conversations and in the different projects they had worked on, this man noticed something quite different about F—something he wished he had. Talking to F and recognizing his involvement in the church, this man went to seek out this God that my father-in-law believed in. This bold move to find out more resulted in his salvation. This man shared that he knew where Frank was now and rejoiced in that hope.

When this memory was shared aloud with the family, I quietly knew our prayers were answered. God is a good God. He is a loving God. And He is a God who has the power to heal and save. In light of this situation—or any situation when we are left to grieve a loss—all those traits of God are sometimes difficult to comprehend. I don't claim to understand God's plan of salvation and redemption, nor do I understand His thoughts or ways. I can admit to that two years ago, and still today I often cry out to God because, in my sinful state of being, it appears to me that He is not doing it right! But by His goodness, love and power, I can see that God allowed this suffering to manifest itself for His glory. I can see God at work in F's life. I now see that there will be one more celebrating in our eternal home.

Today I want to thank God because He let us see a glimpse of what He is doing in our lives and in the lives of others. I am thankful that God is in control of everything and that I am not. I am thankful for God's goodness, love and power. I ask for forgiveness in those times when I challenge this truth and when I challenge God's ways. And I ask for continued strength as I try to live in a way that will allow God to work out His redemptive plan through the things I do and the lives I touch.

Isaiah 55:8-13 (from
8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.

9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.

13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD's renown,
for an everlasting sign,
which will not be destroyed."

Philippians 1:20

"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death."

MPM update. . .

So. . . our garden is going crazy at this point (beans, zucchini and onions. some peas too, and lots of herbs!), so i needed to find something good to make with a zucchini. I typically like to make chocolate cake, and i really don't like zucchini all that much, but I was thinking something more for supper. . .and something that does not involve the oven! So I am going to try these Zucchini Fries and dipping sauce on the BBQ. I've had something like it before (thank you Kristi for introducing us to them!), but always oven baked. Just if you need another grilling type of healthy thing. . .and the picture looks good. :)

Here is another update. . .it is after supper--and the fries were a flop!!! I'm so embarrassed to admit it! The reason they were a flop. . . my BBQ ran out! So. . .guess where I need to send my hubby tomorrow? :)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I'm back. . .and I even have a MPM! True, it is kinda late, but it is still here and posted!

This week is gonna be HOT! (temperature-wise!) So. . .to resist the oven heating the house to above sauna temperatures (aka: I don't have AC!!!), I've founda few grilling recipes that are gonna keep us happy this week. (And we are having company, so hopefully they will enjoy it too!)

Monday-Grilled Terriyaki Chicken (thanks to Epicurian Selections for an easy meal --and my sister sells it, so I have a few of these kinds of things sitting around! Let me know if I need to pass on her # to you!), Salad, garlic bread

Tuesday-Grilled Pizza. You can choose this recipe (cool website, too!) or this recipe. We jsut take a shell (or a pita pocket), load it with toppings and bring it to the BBQ!

Wednesday- Chicken Wraps and cut veggies or green beans from our garden!!

Thursday (CP Day)- We're going out to celebrate with family, so no recipes for you. I can tell you, though, we are going somewhere Greek. . .mmm!

Friday (OAMC)-Maple Glazed Salmon or this one (I know, it's not really a OAMC recipe, but you store salmon in the freezer, right?), rice, salad or a garden veggie

Saturday's Snack- Puppy Chow (Helen brought this camping and it was gone in no time! I NEVER make it, so what a treat! Thanks Helen. . .and sorry I ate too much!)

Sunday (BFS)-Grilled French Toast or Ann's oven baked french toast recipe

So. . .happy grilling! I'll let you know how it works out for us!!! Check out for more MPM!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Words from Wednesday (Devotional)

Children of God

I have two little stories that brought me joy this week:

1. We are planning a camping trip—of which my son can hardly wait—and there have been a bunch of times today that he kinda got "ignored" as I was finding things and doing some packing. Tonight as I was putting him to bed, we prayed about keeping our family safe on our trip and Eli added, "And God, I sure hope you come along with us too—like so I can see you this time." How precious! We talked after about how even if we can't see God, He is still coming along with us. Eli just looked at me and said, "Mom, I know that! I just want to play with Him for real tomorrow."

2. A few days ago I was putting Ally to bed and we were doing our list of "Thank you, God, for. . ." Now you have to understand that she is just barely two, and while she prays and listens to Bible stories, she hasn't really ever repeated any of them to us. Vocalizing any of this has not yet happened. She likes to answer "Yes!" to most questions, but I have never been sure if she really knows what she is saying yes to! One of our prayer lines was "and thank you for Jesus." Suddenly her eyes lit up and pulled my face close (too close!) to hers and said "Jesus in the manger!"

Why are these two stories so precious to me? Because my kids are seeing God! They are getting it! They are learning about their Heavenly Father and their Saviour! Each story is a little encouragement to me, saying, "You're doing the right thing! You're doing the things you promised when you had your children baptised. You are doing your part as a Christian parent!" On those blah days—you know, the ones when you seem to be exercising your vocal chords more than any other muscle in your body and any noise you are making is just going in one ear and out the other. When no amount of interceding can help your kids understand the word "cooperate" or "share" or "take turns." When even one TV program doesn't stop the decibel levels of you children from exceeding the household maximum? When you wonder if any amount of discipline or the method of your discipline is even being the least bit effective? On those blah days, it's nice to be able to hold on to stories like these. It's nice to have evidence of the effort you've put into it all: reading bible stories each night, praying regularly, going to church and church programs, loving each of your children in a Christ-like manner, treating all the members of your household as God's precious treasure—all the effort you have ever put into those things (and things like it) are rewarded when a child "professes" their faith.

Proverbs 22:6 "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."

1 John 5:2 "This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands."

Prayer for today:

Today I just want to thank God for giving me the gift of those stories to remind me that I am doing His will as my husband and I raise our children. I want to thank God for giving me encouragement through these stories, especially when those blah days come. And I want to thank Him for my children, who are drawing near to Him and helping me to draw near to Him at the same time!

More verse to look up: Matthew 18:2, Proverbs 20:11, Psalm 127 (esp. verse 3)

Monday, July 20, 2009

One of the many things about my mom is the fact that she sews. Especially now, with a few grand-daughters around, she keeps quite busy! (She seems to prefer sewing for girls. . . and I don't mind it one bit!) I thought I would give you a small "showcase" of her most recent additions to my daughter's closet!
Yellow top and capris (I have a pair of yellow shorts, too, but they are not pictured)
Simplicity 5982This P.J.s set--I just love the detail on the pant! See how it goes up? And I love how she added the lace to the bottom edges! It makes the outfit very girl-y!
New Look 6446

This one is called the "Magic Dress" for my kids because my mom made it reversible. The other colour/side is a bright blue. There are also little "pants" or diaper shorts that go along with it, but they are not pictured, even thought A loves to show them off!
Butterick 5107

I think this winter P.J.s is also New Look 6446.
And this little green dress is just cute. . .you can't tell in this picture but there are three pleats on each side of the front and three white buttons going down the front with a flower etched on them. I love little details like that on children's clothes!
New Look 6844

Menu Plan Monday

This will be a short week . . . we are gonna go give this camping thing a try towards the end of the week. It's been a while . . . I've never gone with the kids! This is the first year we don't have any constantly-crying or barely-even-crawling kids, so the whole idea seems a little more inviting this summer! (Plus we are meeting up with my sister and family who camp in style! Not bad for us lowly little tenters!)

So. . .

Monday-Chicken with Berry Sauce (with inspiration from here and here), Yellow rice, Glazed carrots
Wednesday- left-overs or pizza
Rest of the week will include: Breakfast biscuits, pancakes and sausages,
Skewers, pasta or potatoes, salad or veggies, hot dogs and grilled cheese. . .and a lot of junk!
A great camping kind of website I found to use a bit is here!

Saturday's Snack- (although I'm not here, my friend Sue had given me a bunch of raspberries, and this is what I made: Royal Raspberry Cake. I remember making this recipe ages ago--like when I still lived with my parents!-- and had to go searching for the recipe again! It's not a hard name to remember because it is that good!)

See ya next week!!!
p.s. check out for more MPM!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Words from Wednesday (Devotional)

Dwelling in His Sanctuary

Our church is studying the Psalms for the summer. We were encouraged to read the psalms at home as well. So I thought it would be neat to try read over a few and write a little devotional on a psalm. (Being a teacher, the connection between home and school learning is huge, so obviously studying what I am learning at church at home should be a good idea right?) The idea doesn't sound too difficult. So I gave it a try.

But this turned out to be a bigger study than I expected!

I figured that since this devotional would be for July 15, I'd go read over Psalm 15. Then I would just write a few thoughts on that, and my devotional would be done. I'm feeling kinda under the weather, so this should be an "easy week."

But, I read Psalm 15—a whole 5 verses written by David—and decided that yes, everything he said was true. And they are things I should be doing. And I'm failing miserably each day, but it IS how I WANT to live. And oh, how I want to be worthy to be in His sanctuary and to live in His presence.

So then I thought, maybe I need to do a little research—see if there is anything I am missing (which those few verse are packed with some good visual pictures and contradictions to the Near East rituals and beliefs, setting believers in Yahweh apart, but that discussion can be for another time). My research led me to read over a few of the surrounding Psalms (try reading Psalm 10 or13 and contrast it with Psalm 18!) and then to the book The Bible Jesus Read, by Philip Yancy (Zondervan Publishing House, 1999).

Mr. Yancy has a whole chapter in his book dedicated to the Psalms, and he wrote something that spoke to me. It made me look at the Psalms I was reading in a new way. He said this: "More than any other book in the Bible, Psalms reveals what a heartfelt, soul-starved, single-minded relationship with God looks like" (p. 115). He compared reading the Psalms as if you were reading someone's (in many cases, David's) personal journal or hearing his personal conversations with God.

After reading that, I reread Psalm 15. And 10 and 13 and 18! It made me think of all the things I don't realize that God sees. I believe in an all-powerful all-knowing God, but sometimes my fallen side forgets. On one hand, I wish I could express my joys in Him as eloquently as the authors of all these wonderful pieces of poetry. On the other hand, there are things I want to hide from God. All the thoughts that I know I shouldn't be thinking because that is probably not the response God is looking for. It's not the right thing to do. All the mistakes I've made. All the things I just don't understand about Him. All the questions. . .

David was noted as a man after His (God's) own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). He was chosen specifically by God to lead His people for this very reason. On one hand, David had a gift with words and music. He could calm a troubled king with his harp and songs. On the other hand, David had a bunch of things that God saw that didn't make Him happy. David had some things that he wanted to hide from God. He responded in ways that God did not want him to. But David laid out his personal life for God. He laid out his joys in creation, his certainty in walking in the right path, his confessions of sins, his anguish over the dismal turns life was taking. When things were good, bad or ugly, David cried out to God through the psalms he wrote. He might not have been completely correct in everything he said and did, but he chose to take his emotions to God first. 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds me that we might look at the outward appearance, but God always looks at the heart. Yancey put it this way (p. 123): "Instead, I am continually amazed by the spiritual wholeness of the Hebrew poets, who sought to include God in every area of life by bringing to God every emotion experienced in daily activity. One need not "dress up" or "put on a face" to meet God. There are no walled-off areas; God can be trusted with reality."

Reading the Psalms this past week didn't teach me anything significant about the landmarks, the historical setting or story taking place, or any Hebrew words or phrases that might shed new light on old meanings. (Don't get me wrong, all those things are great for further study!) This week I did learn again that God wants me to come to Him with my life. He wants to be an active part of my life, not someone I call on in times of need but hide from when things are spiralling downward. I want to dwell in His sanctuary (Psalm 15:1). But in order to do that, I need to be someone after God's own heart—someone who is working towards bringing God every daily emotion and every daily activity.

One last thought for the week (s) to come . . .Yancy quoted C.S. Lewis as saying that "ideally being a practicing Christian 'means that every single act and feeling, every experience, whether pleasant or unpleasant, must be referred to God'" (p. 132).

And. . .I found this site that had Psalm 15 written in a kid-friendly manner.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Little Scrapbook Nook

With a little more free time on my hands, I've gotten around to some much needed organization around the house. I know I'm an Organizing Junkie has these Round-Ups every now and then if you are ever looking for more ideas about organizing pretty much anything, but I've never had the time to go along with one of them when she posts them.

A while back we re-did our play room and with kids occupying the house, offices/rooms/junk storage spaces slowly disappear! Anyway, one area that needed cleaning and fixing was all my scrapbooking/crafty stuff. My area is now in a "corner" of the playroom. My old way or organizing was having one of those stacking rolling carts with the see through drawers. When I moved my daughter into her room, instead of making my hubby build shelves in her closet right away (that part will come. . .), I used those for her clothes. My craft stuff was disorganized and not working out there anyway. Then I had some paper boxes as temporary storage, but I could never find anything I wanted. One of my good friends had a little desk and shelves in her office to work on her cards and scrapbooking stuff. That was a pretty inviting idea. I was also blog-hopping and found this site. . .phew! I'm not lucky enough to have my very own scrapbooking room, but hers is amazing! But in the end, this is what I did. . .

Here was my way of organizing all my embellishments, ribbons and odds and ends. I had my hubby go find a metal (magnetic) strip. He primed it and rounded the corners and drilled some holes in it. My mom picked up some of those magnetic spice cans at the thrift store for a dollar (I did have to go out and purchase 3 more--see my lonely one on the bottom row? ($2 a piece @ WM)). Then my mom had this "rod/dowel" hanging around at her house that I took off of her hands. I wanted to have all (all the ones that fit anyway) the ribbon hang on it. I bought some BIG hooks (again, $3-4 at WM) that I screwed in the wall. And for fun, I have a few fun magnets hanging around.
To give you an idea of where my little "Scrapbook Nook" is, here is our playroom. (Yes, this is how regular playrooms look--I didn't clean it up for you!) The area where I have my little desk is around the corner on some laminate flooring (great idea in the playroom to get those Hot Wheels racing like crazy!). This is my view from my spot.
This is my little desk. We originally bought it to fix our ugly kitchen--I mean the lack of counter space and so forth in our kitchen, but then we did a few renos in there and this desk was put in storage. Now I found a great way of using it again! The desk part of it rolls out, so I can mostly hide everything away from my kids when they are playing, need more space, or I'm not around (see below). I also put hooks into the wall to hang long, thick ribbons on where I can clip my finished products or other "stuff" I will run into. (I haven't gotten that far yet). I do have a few (or so) Scrapbook Storage Totes in a nearby cupboard. And. . .that blank canvas. . .that is another project I am still pondering over a little. In time you will see what I came up with. . . but I needed something creative up there to hide a plate (from a junction box). White makes a statement, right? :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Monday again. . .last week's big yum was the Asian Wraps. I added peppers and onions to the mix and didn't soften the coleslaw bit (that just seemed kind yucky to me--I like the crispness better!) but the "sauce" from the recipe is VERY yum. Easy to make. Yep--that is ALWAYS a good thing!

This week. . .
Monday-Pancakes and Ham. We've just been doing too many BBQ kinds of things so our Sundays haven't been about breakfast. So, today is the day for that! And I have this great syrup recipe from the Berry Festival I was gonna try make.
Tuesday-Tropical Fruit Chicken, rice, salad
Wednesday- (OAMC today cuz we are out on Friday) Sicilian Casserole, cut up veggies
Thursday (CP Day)-Beef & Barley Soup, garlic bread or buns
Saturday's Snack-Firefighters Chocolate Chip Cookies. I LOVE these cookies. (And how ironic is the name?) It all started with that one box from Costco. . .you know, the Skor ones. The box didn't last long at all, so I had to find a "home-made" way to keep them around a little more. I'm not saying I eat any less, but it is easier and cheaper than going to Costco each time I have a craving (which is often!).
Sunday- BBQ anyone? :)

So here is the syrup recipe--BC Grown BC Blueberries (BC Blueberry Council).

BC Blueberry Syrup
yield=2 cups (500mL)
2 cups fresh blueberries (500mL)
1 cup sugar (50mL) sugar (I think they meant 250mL!)
4 Tbsp water (60mL)

Puree blueberries and sugar in processor or blender until until smooth as possible. Transfer to medium saucepan. Bring slowly to the boiling point. Reduce heat and cook 20 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve or cheesecloth.

Return to heat and bring to bring to boiling point. Remove from heat and pour into clean, sterilized jars.

Refrigerate or freeze. Use for pancakes, waffles, as a beverage base, in ices, or for dessert sauces.

Warm syrup containers in hot water bath after removing from refrigerator because they syrup becomes too think to pour.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Postcards in the Classroom

So. . .it is summer holidays. . .
and I am still thinking about school stuff! I was doing a little exploration around on the 'net for the use of Postcards in the classroom. Of course, there is always the typical social studies project where you try to collect postcards from all the cities, provinces or states (or maybe even different countries around the world) and match them up to a map. That is a great idea, but I was looking for something different than typical . . . and maybe something that involves reading or writing!

So I found a few that looked interesting to me—ones that I would try in the classroom. So. . . here they are for you. (Please note that I am looking solely at the idea given to either use as presented or to change to fit my setting. I have not researched the entire sites, and am not promoting any of them. Just a small qualifier!)

Learning with Postcards—lots of ideas centring around the social studies/geography theme, and also on the postcard itself (art, creation, etc).

A lesson plan about making postcards reflective of concert music, but many good pointers about the writing style used.

This is an interview with a man who wrote a graphic novel based on some postcards he found. This sight is probably for older students, and the books is DEFINITELY for older students (HS, even?)

This site is about the writing and writing style that goes into making postcards, as well as some reflection on the artwork of postcards.

Grade Two lesson called, "Postcards from the Planets." This one is a keeper!

Some templates for postcards can be found at

Arthur's friend Buster has a "postcard blog" site that is updated weekly about the travels Buster is doing and the people he is meeting. Very informative, and lots of additional activities to do during the week!

And. . .here is an idea of my own. Well, actually, it is my take on an idea from an old colleague of mine! (Thanks Kristi!)

An African Visitor is a project that I used during an Africa unit I taught a few years ago in Grade One. (Kristi did this project the previous year when she took over teaching grade one for me and had to plan a new unit on Africa. She did all the idea gleaning for me, I just had to tweak it to work for me and my situation!) The "project" looks like a parcel sent from Africa. Inside is a small stuffy, a book about the stuffy, a letter to the student and parents, and postcard templates for the students to us. The "project" was sent home with a different child in the class each night we were studying Africa. The child, along with his or her parents, had to read the book included and write a postcard back to the class about what the stuffy might have done with them during his stay at the child's house that night.

I named my little elephant stuffy "Kidogo" and found a book about elephants in Africa. The book talked about where African elephants lived, their unique characteristics, and the other animals that might be friends or enemies of the African elephant. I included extra information pages for students (and parents) wanting enrichment, and also postcards. The student was required to make a postcard about what he or she did with Kidogo the night the elephant stuffy stayed at his or her house. I included an example that I made, and also a "How To Draw Elephants" page to help the students out as they draw a picture related to what they wrote about.

I liked this activity because it gave students a "real" context in which to write (hopefully making the ideas to write about much easier!). The writing was personal (it was about what they did!) but factual (it did not require imagination in the writing). It connected learning (Theme study, Reading and Writing) at school with learning at home. The sentence structure was simple because of the nature of a postcard, and it was a short writing assignment (just the back of a postcard.) Often times, the parents did the writing for the students, but there were a few students who wanted to do it themselves (so this idea would definitely work at the higher grade levels!). They each had an opportunity to share their postcard with the class the next day before passing the parcel off to the next lucky grade one student who got to take Kidogo home. Again, this typeof project can easily be adapted to ANY unit and at ANY grade level depending on your requiements for reading and postcard-writing.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Words from Wednesday (Devotional)

Blessed Be Your Name

We sang the song, Blessed Be Your Name, in church this past week. While I was singing it, I realized there are so many blessings we have in life: It was a hot, sunny day. It’s summer, my favourite season. I have a house, clothes, good food to eat, a wonderful family, great friends—all in all, I was feeling pretty blessed.

But my mind also drifted (as it does in church at times—oops!) to the many things that I was annoyed at or upset at or that are just a plain injustice in life today. Quite the contrast from my opening sediments!

And that brought me to wonder if I can really say, “Blessed be Your name” with integrity. Like I said, it’s easy to see God blessing me in the good times. When my husband and I got married, we were reminded of this verse from James 1:17: “Every good and perfect gift is from heaven above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights. . .” On our son’s birth announcement we used the verse, “Children are a gift from God. . .” (Psalm 127:3). And at the basis of my faith is Romans 6: 23b says, “. . .but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I am surrounded by gifts from God and can’t help but echo the psalmist’s words, “My mouth is filled with your praise. . . I will praise you more and more.” (Psalm 71:8, 14)

But what about those not so good times? I know it is then that I am in desperate need to remind myself of God’s goodness to me. I need to surround myself with scripture, songs, and encouragement that tell me how God is in control—and that that in itself deserves praise. Even though things don’t seem so good now, or even if things don’t seem so good to me, God is still a good God, worthy of all praise and glory.

And what about those times that I just feel all these “gifts” are owed to me? Yep, I admit it. Sometimes I look at the lack of fairness (in my humble opinion, of course!) in my life—my home, my workplace, my church, my social circles, my community, my everything—and think about how I really deserve more; I deserve better; I deserve something!!! And sometimes I even question God. How could you do this to me? How could you allow this to happen? How can you just let so-and-so get away with that? How can you stand to watch such-and-such unfold?

And that is when a song like this can cause me to be “sweetly broken.” Because yes, I can bless God for all the gifts that I recognize—for the plentiful land, the abundance, when life is just as it should be. I can take every blessing he pours out and turn it back into a praise to Him.

I am learning how to boldly say that, yes, I can praise God when I’m in a dessert place or when the darkness is closing in on me. Even when there is a pathway of suffering, to say these words, “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name” (Psalm 103:1). Yes—ALL my inmost being must praise His holy name, even during these times.

And I’m learning to understand that I deserve nothing. On my own, I deserve absolutely nothing. But I was graciously given everything as a gift. I was given eternal life with my Lord and Saviour. As a gift. And that is how I must treat it—as a gift. And I must treat ALL of life as a gift. When tings are good or bad, just or unjust, positive or negative, in all circumstances, God game me an incredible gift. I don’t understand it all, but I can still confidently say, “Blessed by Your name” because He gave me this life—my eternal life—as a gift. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)

More passages to read: Psalm 103, Psalm 104, 2 Corinthians 9 and Hebrews 11:39-40

Blessed Be Your Name lyrics
Blessed be Your name
in the land that is plentiful
Where your streams of abundance flow
blessed be Your name

and blessed be Your name
when I'm found in the desert place
though I walk through the wilderness
blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out I'll turn back to praise
and when the darkness closes in Lord still I will say:

blessed be the name of the Lord
blessed be Your name
blessed be the name of the Lord
blessed be Your glorious name

and blessed be your name
when the sun's shining down on me
when the world's "all as it should be"
blessed be your name

and blessed be your name
on the road marked with suffering
though there's pain in the offering
blessed be your name

Every blessing you pour out I'll turn back to praise
when the darkness closes in Lord still I will say:

blessed be the name of the Lord
blessed be your name
blessed be the name of the Lord
blessed be your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will chose to say:
Blessed be Your name (blessed be Your name Lord)

No More Crib

A few weeks ago, we changed around my daughter's room. I think I might have been more excited about this than she was, but when she saw it all, her words were, "P-etty!" So, I was a satisfied mom! It was just time for her to be in a big-girl bed. She had been trying to sleep and hide in her big brother's room for a while now, so it just seemed like time. I have to admit, I wanted to wait until I was done school for the year just to make sure I wouldn't be having any sleepless nights while teaching still! But all went well. If I knew she would have slept and done as well as she did, I probably would have changed her room around a long time ago!

So here are the curtains, just up, as well as all the baby stuff piled on the change table that we had to get rid of:
And of course the "big" bed! This was exciting for her, because we let her jump on it to get her excited about it all! But we finally did get the sheets, bedskirt and comforter on it! I personally like how her room is still pink, but balanced with the green and brown of the material! Not supernova-girlie, but just right!
Here are a few decorating things. . . these hearts were from a previous post.
A painted bulletin board and hooks. . .
My craft of this morning. . .the first part was followed by a bath because it was getting the hand and feet prints! (We had taken my son's prints when he moved into his big room, to mark how "big" he was, so we did the same with my daughter! My son we had done on tiles and then hung up. . .this seemed like a quicker, easier craft!))Then I took an old frame that I had painted and decorated it a little bit.And the fancy mirror we put in. . .it was extra from our old bathroom, but thought it would be pretty cute in her room!

So. . . our little girl is growing up. . . bring on the pink and the princesses!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wedding Shower Games

My MIL was in charge of a game at a wedding shower for her niece. So. . .that made me in charge of a game for the wedding shower. (Funny how that all worked out!)

So. . .for any of you who ever get conned into doing wedding shower games, here is my advice for you. The Bridal Showers website has a whole page on Shower Games! So I picked two games from there. (Did you hear me say two? Yah, that is when my over-achiever side kicks in! One is the game I got conned in to doing, the other is a time filler if needed!)

So here is it for you:

I chose the one called "Touch-Feely." I made 8 bags just quick out of old scrap material. Then I followed her same directions:

You can use paper of cloth bags, so that the guests are able to feel the item. find about 10-15 common items around the house (i.e.:remote control, video tape, pen, toothbrush, etc.) and place the items in each bag. Pass the items around for the guests to feel. they are allowed 15-30 seconds to hold the bag, then they must pass to the next guest. They should have a pen and paper to write down their guesses. The guest with the most correct answers wins.

I collected 8 items, placed one in each bag and gave each bag a number. Then I made a little "answer sheet" to go with the game, so that the guests can write the items in style and in the appropriate place! (Sorry, my computer is not letting me do any copy and pasting into here, so I can't give you the answer sheet I made!) So, my eight items were the following: Bible, toothbrush, toilet paper, TV remote, air freshener, notepaper (for the "Honey-Do" list), a wooden spoon, and a baby's diaper (Oh, how did that one get in there???). Here is another link with the same game.

And on the back side of the answer page I created, I wrote out the game"Word Jumble" also found at her website. Pretty much this game has the following words all jumbled up for the guests to unscramble: groom, ring, clergyman, ushers, garter, bridesmaids, gifts, flowers, cake, bestman, bride, and rice. A little more boring, but a good time-filler, paper-and-pencil kind of game.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

This week I have pretty easy meals. We have been having a small battle with a flu bug that is making its rounds, so simple meals (and bread products and not too many spices!) is going to kick off our week! Needless to say, my past week did not follow the plan at all! :) I'm also trying a few new recipes this week (Th & F)

Monday- Wraps. I haven't decided which kind yet. so I'll let you in on the recipe choices: BLT Wraps or Asian Wraps
Tuesday-Fancy Apple Grilled Cheese (love this!), veggies and dip
Thursday (CP)- Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff, noodles, salad
Friday (OAMC)-Chicken Tetrazzini
Saturday's Snack- Chocolate Zucchini Cake Don't let the fact that it states a vegetable deter you from trying this! (I even add a bit more cocoa to make it richer!)
Sunday- Who are we kidding? Probably more grillin'!
Okay, I linked all the recipes. . .but I do have to add. . .with that Chocolate Zucchini Cake, I know it doesn't suit the title any longer, but I've used that recipe with this one (I'm blushing just adding the link!), which I will call Very Good Chocolate Cake. And perhaps that is all you can call it when a "healthy cake" is used in a very rich and decadent chocolate recipe. :)
p.s. I'm listed at!

Friday, July 3, 2009

CP Evening

My friend, Sue, hosted (along with her friend Jane) a wonderful evening for some of her friends. The evening was for the "Common Denominator Gals" (as she called us in her e-mail!). Pretty much, it was an evening party for the different women that she knew but who may not know each other. The night included appies, dinner, dessert, and lots of visiting in a completely wonderful setting! This was her 2nd annual deal (oh, she'll laugh when she reads this--how formal I am making this whole thing sound!) and I just thought it was such a unique idea and a wonderful evening that I just HAD to blog about it!

First, I'll tell you about the setting. Sue's friend Jane (who was phenomenally hospitable!) owns this wonderful ocean front home. I think "ocean-front" sums up how beautiful and relaxing it was, but her home was equally stunning! Here are a few pictures from her back yard. (Of course, I could have gone snap-happy at her place, but I resisted. You have to understand, I was there with 9 women I didn't know!)

Then there was the food! Wow! If you know Sue, she is one great cook, but I also have to say that all the CD gals made some delightful food, too! Our menu for dinner consisted of artichoke dip and other yummy appetizers, mixed green salad with berries, Indonesian Chicken with Mango Salsa, rice, and Ciabatta bread.
Dessert gets a category all of its own! There was fruit pie and chocolate cake! (And yes, after eating all that wonderful food I couldn't even finish my chocolate cake! What a sin!) Sue makes the best chocolate cake. . .I think that is what made us friends in the first place! I should have taken the picture before cutting, but, oh well!

The evening was mostly great (among all the great things listed so far!) because of Sue's wonderful friends! What a lovely group of ladies! They were wonderfully diverse, but so personable and fun! We had many conversations (one of them being how we actually all knew Sue!), we played games, we prepared food--we just had fun! I wish I could have stayed much longer to have some more meaningful talks, to hear more funny stories, and to get to know more about the variety in life that God has blessed us all with.
Oops. . one extra picture. . .this was just cute! :)
The only complaint I had about the evening. . .was the border line-up!
Yep, here is me only half way to the men in uniforms! I thought I might not make it in time, and left so early in the afternoon because I was anticipating this!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Words from Wednesday (Devotional)

(oops-kinda late. We've been hit with a wonderful flu bug, so . . . bed is looking more exciting for the family that ANY type of activity!)

A few months ago I found the book, The Life You Always Wanted by John Ortberg (2002), sitting on a shelf at my sister’s house. I took it home with me with good intentions of reading it right away. That never happened. So many other things—pressing things of the day—got in the way. Free time was non-existent. Free time . . . what is that anyway?

But I finally did pick it up again now that I’m officially on summer vacation. Guess how far I got? The first few pages. And then I had to think a little. Well, I had to think a lot.

You see, Mr. Ortberg seemed to be eloquently writing the very thoughts I was thinking as I opened its pages. He started talking about the disappointments he has in himself and his life and his world. Although I don’t echo all of his disappointments, I have a grand list of my own. On page 13 (which is only 3 pages into the book, or rather, the end of his very first introductory section) he asks where all this disappointment come from. They could be equated to self-esteem and self-worth. But he pinpoints it to this one phrase: “The older and wiser answer is that the feeling of disappointment is not the problem, but a reflection of a deeper problem—my failure to be the person God had in mind when he created me . . . to be at home with the Father.”

I have this little problem at times. Sometimes I can agonize over things. Sometimes these things are pretty small. Sometimes they are big. I find myself constantly asking “What is the right thing to do in this situation?” because I am well aware of my own ability to mess things up, to treat others badly, to act selfishly, to bring glory to myself, to sin repeatedly. I am well aware of my ability to deface Christ because I call myself a Christian. I hear those words of that song, How Deep the Father’s Love For Us, go through my mind, “Behold the man upon a cross, my sin upon his shoulders, ashamed I hear my mocking voice, call out among the scoffers.” Yep, in my thoughts, my words, and my actions, I am doing the very things I never wished to do. I feel like Peter right before the rooster made his three calls. I feel like Paul, agitated to be doing the things he doesn’t want to do and not doing the things he desires to do. I’m not doing the right thing in the situation at hand. And that is when I suddenly realize that, yet again, I am not being who God intended for me to be.

As I struggle through my lack of communion with my Creator, I am also reminded of the words from the song, You are My King/Amazing Love, that say, “I’m forgiven, because you were forsaken. I’m accepted, you were condemned. I’m alive and well, your Spirit lives within me because you died and rose again.”

Oh, I am thankful for God’s love and salvation. I am thankful for His forgiveness and grace. And I am thankful that, even though I am not the person God had in mind when he created me, He promises to bring me home to Him where I won’t mess it all up, but I’ll worship Him in word and deed. Where I won’t treat others in a way that disrespects them, but praise God for his diversity and splendor in creation. Where I won’t do things out of envy and selfish gain, but place Him and others above my own wants and desires. Where I won’t seek glory for myself but bring glory to His name alone.
Until Christ brings me home, I am going to make some choices each day—each minute and second—about who I am and who God made me to be. And I will mess up, I will have to face my many disappointments, I will have to admit that the things I have done do not reflect the Christian name I give myself, but I am going to make living as God’s intended creation my goal and keep asking, “What is the right thing to do in this situation?” in order to try to be who I was created to be.