Wordless Wednessday - Look Mimi...

I have hair!

Not here...

But here it is!

(and it curls too)

Silly Mommy!

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Go see it...now!


My husband and I went to see Fireproof last night. It was our first date in 11 months. Other opportunities had presented themselves - my parents always offer to watch the kids when they are in town...but my husband was not interested in going out on a date together. We have been overwhelmed with trials this year and the toll is wearing on us.

This movie is already actively changing our marriage.

It opened the door to much needed conversations. It encouraged us to say things to one another that we may not have said. And we both agreed that - no matter what - we will make it through the fire together. Not that we didn't feel that way before, but it was a great affirmation of our commitment to our marriage. For better or worse.

The movie itself was phenomenal. Funny, emotional, and action packed. My husband loved it too. The music was awesome. I already bought the soundtrack from iTunes. We will buy it as soon as it comes out on DVD.

For those of you thinking that you will wait to see it when it comes out on DVD....don't wait! Get a babysitter and go to the theater... pay the $20 to see the movie - this not only supports the ministry this church has started, but it also encourages theaters to continue bringing these wholesome inspiring movies to their theater. It was the best $20 we have invested in our marriage yet!

These are the lyrics to one of the songs in the movie...I cry when I even read them.

Love is not a place
To come and go as we please
It's a house we enter in
And then commit to never leave

Lock the door behind you
Throw away the key
We'll work it out together
Let it bring us to our knees

Love is a shelter in the raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
If we try to leave, may God send His angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it's something worth fighting for

Warren Barfield - Love is Not a Fight

Please, go to the movie!


Lip Gloss and Sparkly Hearts

Nicole loves to play with our neighbors out front in the afternoons. This has been a wonderful blessing to us - friends her age just 2 houses down the street. Joshua enjoys playing with them too, which is really nice. Their mom and I enjoy fellowship while the kids play. Watching our children play together has also given me insight into my child's heart that I may not have seen in our own home. Especially Nicole.

You see, Kaitlynn and Gracie are girlie girls and they like make-up and high heels just as much (if not more) than any young girl. Nicole is somewhere in the middle - she likes to dress up and play princess, but she also loves to wrestle with her daddy, sword fight, and play in the dirt. I am not really a girlie girl myself - so she doesn't see a lot of make-up and heels around our house. Of course she is intrigued when the girls next door play make-up. Being the mean mom that I am, I have never allowed her to participate in the make-up free for all (and don't intend to any time soon). I am always willing to paint her fingernails and toenails and that has become one of our favorite bonding activities- doing our nails together. But no make-up. None.

The other day we were at Walmart and I decided it would probably be ok for her to have some CLEAR sparkly lip gloss. I was looking for the flavored lip smackers (chapstick), but couldn't find them anywhere. After much searching, we found the Bon Bons lip gloss and got her a cute little case with sparkly strawberry flavored lip gloss. I have never seen her so excited.

She had practically used the whole container by that evening. At one point she came to me -all puckered up and said," Mom, I cannot wait to show everyone my sparkly lips - everyone is going to love them!" I decided to reach for a teaching moment - "Nicole," I said, "Do you know what is even more important than people loving your sparkly lips?" She pondered, but was speechless. How could anything be more important than beautful lips? I replied, " Showing God your sparkly heart. God looks at our beautful hearts, not our beautiful faces. So instead of showing off your lips, lets try to think of some ways we can show off our sparkly hearts for Jesus." We brainstormed a few ideas - share our toys, give to people who are in need, obey mommy and daddy (my personal favorite) and tell everyone about Jesus. Now, when she puts on her lip gloss and shows me her pouty smile...she reminds me, "Don't worry mom, I have a sparkly heart that matches my lips too."

While I may not be overly concerned with my outward physical appearance (as a matter of fact, I should probably be a little more concerned with it :-), I am a people pleaser. I have a very hard time telling people "No" when they need a favor (although I am getting better) and I like to appear better than I really am - organized, creative, gifted, peaceful, gentle, etc. Like for example - I like to be early to Bible Study, but what good is that when I spent my morning yelling at the kids to get them out the door on time so I could look good to others? Or that I offer to bring a meal to someone in need, but grumble to myself because it means an extra trip to the store w/ 3 kids and an extra meal to cook and another trip out...Man may see the outward sparkly deed (always with a smile, of course), but God sees and knows my heart. Yikes. I better stop now because I am becoming more and more convicted with every word!

I guess now when I see Nicole put on her lip gloss, I will think of all the "good deeds" and "perfect image" I try to put on so other people will love my sparkle. Maybe I need to spend a little less time trying to sparkle and a little more time on my knees in the closet (prayer closet, that is...which does happen to be my clothes closet). Truthfully, I'll be glad when the sparkly lip gloss is gone, and we can focus a bit more on all of our hearts around here! And prayerfully, one day I'll be able to serve others and say, "Don't worry Lord, my sparkly heart matches my my sparkly deeds for You."

"The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
1 Samuel 16:7


"Where are you?"

In a recent study of the first few chapters of Genesis, I was greatly convicted by one simple line:

But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"
Genesis 3:9

You see, Adam and Eve had just committed the grievous sin of eating the forbidden fruit. Their eyes were suddenly opened to their nakedness and they were embarrassed. They sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves and when they heard the LORD walking through the garden, they hid in shame. The LORD, knowing full well of their sin and their current location, gently calls out to them, "Where are you?"

Begin conviction...

Somehow, "NICOLE ASHLEY GET YOUR HIND-END IN HERE RIGHT NOW...AND I MEAN NOW!" doesn't sound quite the same as, "Where are you?"

Our Bible Study Commentary notes that "God deals with His fallen creatures in grace, wooing them back to Himself in godly sorrow and repentance. Ouch. If that is how God deals with me (fallen creature that I am), shouldn't I be extending that same grace to my own children?

For example, when I find Joshua covered in permanent marker. And I mean covered. Face and all. Or my bible written in with permanent ink. Or the dog covered in finger paint (ok, that was a little funny, but it did mean that I had to give the dog a bath)...do I respond with gentleness, patience and self-control? Do I gently woo the offender to me with a loving, "Nicole - Where are you? Come see Mommy, please." Or do I yell? Well, you can bet that since I am writing this - I yell (see above comment regarding Nicole Ashley).

There is one thing in life that I never want to be called and that is a fool. Someone dear to me once called me foolish (over something very trivial - corn chips, to be exact) and it cut me very deeply. I thought to myself - the Bible says a lot of very strong things about foolish people and I am NOT one of them. This morning, I found this:

Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,
for anger resides in the lap of fools.

Ecclesiastes 7:9

Foolish me.

Thank goodness my loving Father deals gently and patiently with me, revealing my own shortcomings in His perfect timing. Good thing...

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young

Isaiah 40:11


As my heavenly Father gently leads me (and continually pulls me back) towards His path of righteousness, I will strive to gently lead the young who are behind me...following me towards that very same path.

PS: I realized that I must need to lighten up a bit because I could not find a single picture of the naughty things my children have done. And some of them were pretty funny. I guess I should laugh a bit more and enjoy the fun of having 3 little ones ages 4 and under!


Wordless Wednesday - Double Trouble

"She made me give her the toy, Really..."

"Trouble? Not us!"

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Back to Business

Things have been crazy here! We passed around a summer bug for a couple of weeks, started speech therapy, ballet, and Community Bible Study, mourned the loss of a dear friend's baby girl and weathered another surgery for Joshua. Whew...I'm tired now. I'll be back after I go take a nap...

Just kidding.

For updates on Joshua...his speech therapy and surgery...go here.

Nicole started an AWESOME ballet program. She is attending the Good New Dance Company compliments of her great-grandmother who is generously paying her tuition. We had tried the local Parks & Rec ballet class, but were unimpressed by the emphasis on booty shaking and sassy attitude (she has enough of that on her own). This dance school focuses on teaching girls how to worship and praise the Lord through dance. They model and insist upon modesty and self-control and use very tasteful dance moves and costumes. I actually saw one of their recitals a few years ago and was so impressed - I couldn't wait for Nicole to get old enough to attend. By then, we had no money, so we had to wait for the Lord to make a way. Nicole was actually praying every night that she would be able to go to ballet class. Praise God - He is good!

We also started back to Community Bible Study (CBS)about 3 weeks ago. This will be my 4th year there and my 3rd year in leadership. The last 2 years I was the teacher for the Jr. CBS class (middle school aged home-schoolers). This year and I am really excited to be the core group leader for the Nursing Mom's class. Abi gets to come in the classroom with me and I get to lead discussion group for the new mommies! I have already been so challenged and blessed by our study of the book of Genesis.

And that brings to me to some sad news. My dear friend (and fellow CBS leader) Hillary and her family have suffered another unthinkable tragedy. Her little girl Lauren is the 4 year old suffering from an inoperable brain tumor that I have written about here. Look to your right and you will see her picture, which links to her blog. Hillary was 37 weeks pregnant with their 3rd baby girl, Brooke Hope, when they lost her just 9 days before her scheduled c-section. Please, please join me in praying for this family. They have suffered more heart-ache in the last 6 months than anyone should in a lifetime.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. " Romans 8:28


Wordless Wednesday - Hello World!

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You Want WHAT?!?!

"Mommy, I want to have pink hair."

"Where did you see someone with pink hair," I gently asked my 4 year old...amused at such a silly suggestion.

"I didn't, Mommy, I saw a girl with green hair and I thought I would like to have pink hair."

After a little pressing to figure out where she saw this girl - so I could make sure she NEVER saw her again - I figured out that we drove past a teenager on the block next to our house and that was were the idea blossomed.

Unsure of what to say next, I said what any good mom would say, "You'll have to talk to your daddy about that one." (I of course figured she would forget before he ever got home from work).

But sure enough, she remembered. The minute daddy walked in the door from work she asked," Daddy, can I have pink hair?" My husband, so authoritatively said - "Go ask your mother." Fortunately, she ran off to another room. I looked at my husband and explained that she already had asked me and that I had put her off to him, figuring he would say NO!

I racked my brain for a biblical answer as I try to mold my daughter into the young woman that I wasn't. I figured that she was a little too young to understand this:

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." (1 Peter 3:3-4)

And I'm not really sure that pink hair qualifies as beauty anyway. I asked my husband if it would be blasphemous to show Nicole where it says, "Thou shalt not color your hair pink..." in the Bible (she can't read, she wouldn't know the difference), but the Holy Spirit immediately reminded me of the scripture:

"Every word of God is flawless;
He is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar."
(Proverbs 30: 5-6)

I was stumped.

Later that night, I was combing her hair before bed when she mentioned to me that she wished she had curly hair like her cousin. Ah Ha! The light-bulb went off in my brain. I knew just what to say...

Mom: "Sweetie, God gave you straight hair and you should be thankful for what He has given you."

Nicole: "But I want curly hair!"

Mom: "If God wanted you to have curly hair, He would have given it to you. He made you perfect just the way you are. AND...if God wanted you to have pink hair He would have given that to you as well. But instead, He gave you beautiful blond hair and I think He likes it that way."

Nicole: "But I want pink hair!"

Mom: "Well then sweetie, maybe you should pray about it and if God wants you to have pink hair, then one day you'll wake up with pink hair."

Done. Enough said. End of conversation.

Until this evening when, out of no where, Nicole said," Daddy, I really want pink hair." My husband looked at me and said, "Leah - we have tattoo's how can we tell her No?" I gently reminded him that both of us were over the age of 18 when we got our tattoo's and that he could tell that when she is 18 she can color her hair whatever color she wants. Somehow, my message got lost in translation because the next thing I heard was...

"Nicole, when you are 14 years old...you can make your hair whatever color you want."

Yes, go back and read it again. I said 18...he said 14. Lord help me please, it's gonna be a long road with this little gal!

Lord, please help our precious daughters to see themselves in Your perfect image. To be content the way that You made them and not to be swayed by the things that the world says are important or cool. Keep them pure, modest, and help them to learn to focus on the hearts and not their appearance. Amen.


If I only had a Donkey...

My daughter came out of her Sunday School Class excited to tell me about their lesson. It usually only takes a few seconds for me to figure which story she is telling, but today this was not the case. I am embarrassed to say that I never did figure this one out on my own: she was describing a donkey with super-powered eyes. Stumped? Probably not. But I was. So, I got in the car in the church parking lot and immediately looked up the scripture reference. Numbers 22: 21-35. That's right...Balaam's donkey had super-powered eyes, ya'll. And I wish I had a donkey just like his! You see, his donkey was able to see the angel of the Lord standing before him with sword drawn.

The angel of the LORD said to Balaam, "I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her."
(Num 22: 32-33)

Your path is a reckless one before me...

How many times has God said that to me before? And I am sure that each one of those times I berated my donkey and beat him just like Balaam did to get him back on my path.

But not this time.
Oh no, if I only had a donkey with super-powered eyes...I promise I'd listen.
Are we supposed to change jobs or stay the course?
What are we supposed to do when we lose our house this winter?
Where do we go to rent and start over financially?
Will Joshua ever learn how to speak normally and live a fulfilling life?

I have heard the saying before:
If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

Well, I can tell you that we keep God rolling on the floor with laughter around here. Just 3 weeks ago we were accepting a transfer to Oroville, WA...that is until my husband went to visit and decided...ummm, no. Not for us. Now, we may be staying where we are so he can spend a few more years in his current job before trying to transfer out. But that will be interesting since we are indeed losing our house (due to a family business deal gone bad...and not in our favor...If you are considering going into business with or accepting money from a family member, stop right now and say NO...God is using our humiliation and defeat to speak to you...JUST SAY NO!!!) and renting in Southern CA is not always the best option.

So which path do you really want us on LORD?

Since I don't have a donkey...and couldn't keep it in my tiny backyard even if I did, I guess I will have to continue relying on the LORD to open and close doors as we map out our earthly future. He has been faithful to do so in the past, and I am sure He will continue closing all the wrong doors in the future. A few open ones would be appreciated too.

And the next time your donkey lays down in the middle of the road - don't beat him....turn around and go back to whence you came!


Happy Birthday Josh!

Our little man turned 3 on Saturday. It was a wonderful celebration revolving mostly around "red car" (Lightning McQueen, from Cars). The 5 of us celebrated with his favorite dinner, ice cream cake, a movie, and a few presents. You can see him proudly displaying his new red car shirt and camouflage boots above.

Many of you know the struggles we have had with Joshua's health. I am so happy to say that he is feeling great and growing again! He is completely off his medicine and hasn't even asked for it in weeks.

I have started another blog entitled "For the Love of Josh" where I am writing about my struggles and victories raising a wheat free/ gluten free toddler. I am posting recipes, product reviews, and great ideas (little peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on gluten free pancakes). Stop over and check it out and if you know anyone struggling with the joys of food allergies, let them know too!


Wordless Wednesday - Beach Bums

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A Little Bit Redneck

You might be (a little bit) Redneck if...

You spend your spare time helping your husband
make a ghillie suit and then he hangs out
in the front yard after dark to test it's functionality.

(yes, the brown heap is my husband)


If your husband moves the grill to the front porch
so he can watch the live MMA fight through
the front window while he cooks.

(note the cute little boy in his underwear in the front yard)

We may live in the city, but we'll always be (a little bit) redneck at heart!



My precious family is trying to help me lose my postpartum weight. Truth be told, Abi is almost 6 months old and I have lost 30 pounds, but I still have about 25 to go. Complicating the matter right now is the fact that I am extremely hypothyroid...which also accounts for the fatigue and depression I have battled since Abi was born. But that is a post for another day...

We were eating dinner a few nights ago - our favorite...Take-out from JalapeƱos Mexican Grill (I still haven't quite mastered working from home and cooking on a regular basis). I had eaten one beef flouta and was intentionally saving the 2nd for lunch today. I started to take a bite of refried beans when my precious, loving, well-intentioned husband said, "Don't you think it is time to stop eating - since you want to lose weight and all?" Ummm yeah, cause I just lost my appetite.

My husband must be in cahoots with my daughter, because today we were on our way home from the park when I decided to jump in the Taco Bell Drive-thru line for a large Pepsi.

Confession time: Coca-Cola and Pepsi are my drug of choice. If not for them, I would either be a chain smoker or raging alcoholic. I know it is not right, nor is it healthy. But it is reality right now. MY husband HATES that I drink soda (and I drink a lot of it ).

So anyway, I tell the kids, "Mommy is just going to get a drink and then we'll go home." My 4 year old says, "Mommy, you don't need a drink from here." I replied,"Oh really, and why not?" She very matter of factly stated, " Because you can get a drink of water at home."


It's a conspiracy, I tell ya! No mercy!


Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for the following:

For the first time in 4.5 years, I will not have to buy diapers again...

for the next 2 months!

Joshua is officially potty trained and Abi has enough diapers left over from the baby shower (yes, she is almost 6 months old and we are still lavishing in the wonderful gifts of our friends) to last us at least 2 months.

What will I possible do with the $$$ I will save by NOT buying diapers over the next 2 months???

Any great ideas?

Wordless Wednesday

Seeking comfort after a bad dream...

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Abi's Bedtime Song

I love you, Abi
And I always will
Forever, true
I love you, my child

Have peace from God
As you close your eyes
May you have a sweet,
sweet sleep,


I'm Back....

OK, so after a wonderful 10 day visit with my family...

And 5 days with NO INTERNET...

Resulting in 5.5 hours on the phone with Verizon/ Microsoft/ Belkin/ and then Verizon again...

I am finally back online!

I'll post some great pictures a bit later tonight. Right now I am recuperating from the sheer exhaustion of dealing with very intelligent non-English speaking computer technicians from far away lands...


Wordless Wednesday

A Girl and Her Bear...

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Hit the Brakes, Nic!

Laugh, Cry, whatever you will...

Just hang in there, I promise there is a point!

Thursday Night

Leah and the children are sitting on Nicole's bed reading stories shortly before 8pm. Nicole starts to cough a bit. Then Mommy starts coughing too. Then Joshua next. There was a "spice" in the air that was tickling...no...collapsing our airways. My heart began to race. I ran downstairs and shouted to my husband - "Honey, did you just spray Pepper Spray?" (Yes, I am talking about Mace, but stronger...) "Yup, three cans of it...all over the trash cans!" He replies quite smugly. I guess he didn't realize that the children's window was open and the whole house fan was sucking cool air in the house...and that the trash cans are right next to the children's window...Which is why he did not realized that 90% of the pepper spray would be sucked right into their room. And WHY???? on earth would he spray the trashcans with pepper spray, you ask? Because our 1 year old Labrador Retriever has a territorial issue and keeps peeing on them as if someone other dog has been encroaching on his trash turf. My husband was tired of washing off the trashcans only to find more sun baked urine the next day. Thankfully the room aired out quickly and the children were able to return to their beds at a somewhat delayed bedtime.

Flash forward 2 days...

Nicole requests to ride her bike. Her super cool purple and blue bike that Mimi and Bumpa slaved away to find for Christmas. Problem is...Nicole's version of riding her bike involves walking and pushing it up and down the driveway a few times before leaving it haphazardly in my husband's way. Daddy's response..."Do you want to me to give your bike away to some little kid who will ride it?" Nicole, says..."Sure Daddy, that will be fine." Daddy placed bike in shed behind the house and tells her the bike is gone. Little girl cries because she'll never be a "big girl" because she won't be able to ride a bike.

Now for the behind the scenes...

The dog (at least in my husband's opinion) pees on the trashcan and various other items in the backyard because he doesn't get walked as often as he should. Click here to find out why that is. I guess male dogs need to get out and pee on everything visible in order to feel validated...or something like that.

Nicole, on the other hand...is a girl and is a bit afraid of things like falling down and going fast. Daddy took Nicole to a church parking lot once to teach her to ride the bike and came back a little frustrated with her progress...they haven't been back since. Sometimes Daddy forgets that he was the 4th child...2 others of which were boys. Of course he knew how to ride a bike when he came out of the womb. If we were going to have a 4th child (which we are not) and it was a boy (he could only wish)...I am sure that he come out riding a bike too. But not so for our 4 year old princess loving ballerina.

Mom to the rescue...

I decided to kill 2 Goliath's with one stone. After all, what SuperMom can't exercise the puppy AND teach her daughter how to ride a bike at the same time.

Now Picture This:
Leah pushing Abi and Josh in double jogger...
80lb yellow lab on leash for the first time in about 2 weeks...
Nicole on super cool purple and blue bike for the first time in...a long time.

We (all) go cruising down the sidewalk.

Things are going great.

We go around the block and back.

We are within 50 yards of our house.

Nicole was feeling confident and decided to go from riding behind me (and the stroller and the dog) to riding in front of me. We started down a very SLIGHT decline. "You can stop pedaling Nicole and coast this out..." I yelled to her. She pedaled faster.
I yelled. She started to swerve and wobble...and then scream. Now here I am...a good distance behind her now with the double jogger and the puppy. If I let go of the jogger it would go careening down the street even faster than her because of the extra weight. And if I didn't catch up to her....she was definitely gonna eat it! I found a patch of grass to ditch the jogger and quickly hit one of the brakes. I dropped the leash and took off in my fastest sprint (a crawl at best compared to some). Just as I was about to reach her...right at the end of my finger tips...she ate it all right. Off the curb and into the back of a parked car. Amazingly...there was no blood and even more amazingly...my Drama Queen shed no tears. I on the other hand...had just become scarred for life with guilt.

And now for the point...

Picturing Nicole on her bike yesterday is a good example of how I feel about life right now. Some days feel good...I am cruising along, feeling confident and even willing to take a few risks. Most days, however, I feel like that scared little girl...out of control, pedaling faster, swerving and wobbling as I head for what is likely to be a major collision. And yet now I see...if I would just stop...just put on the brakes for a minute...I would be fine. I could slow down, regain control, coast it out, or even stop for a breather.

I wonder if God ever feels like I did...screaming at me to STOP and PUT ON THE BRAKES... wishing I had never felt confident enough to go out ahead of Him on my own. If I would just listen to Him, I would be safe.

Today, I gave the theory a try. It was nap time for all three - and time for mom to sit down at the computer for 2 hours of work (I work from home for a friend's business when I can find the time, ha ha). No one was cooperating and I was feeling stressed. Pedal faster (get them into bed and get to work)...Starting to swerve (frustration building)...Panic setting in (Lord, I can't do this anymore!!!)...

And then I stopped. I hit the brakes. And I hit my knees...

Just like a little girl at bedtime, I knelt down beside my bed and asked the Lord to help me. I stated my weakness, confessed my frustration and acknowledged that only He could get me through the rest of the day. And you know what...He did.

Next time I think I'll hit the brakes a little sooner.

"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
Psalm 46:10

"Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7


Prayer Request

Please join me in praying for Kendra and her family. Their 7 week old, Baby Joe, was admitted to a Children's Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit this weekend after Kendra found him limp and unresponsive in his crib. They are now several hours away from the SEVEN other children. The doctor's anticipate that Joe will be in intensive care for at least a week and MAY have some severe long term damage from the viral infection that is inhabiting many of his organs and brain. You can read updates straight from them at Preschoolers and Peace.


Thank you all!


Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for...

My wonderful husband!

He has sacrificed so much for our family. He leaves for work at the crack of dawn and gets home far too late in the evening ( He commutes 2 1/2 hours each day) - just so that we can have a better life. He has given up many of his personal goals and hobbies for the sake of family time...and yet maintains a passion for life like no other person I know. He is my knight in shining armor. He is my best friend. He is a wonderful husband and father, provider and protector of our home, and we Praise God for him each day!


Wordless Wednesday - Changes

She can SIT!

He wears UNDERWEAR!!!

And she just smiles as she plans the next
victim of those beautiful blue eyes!
(But then again...that's nothing new)

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Wordless Wednesday - Sisters

Nicole - Age 5 months (2004)

Abigail - Age 4 months (2008)

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This is so what I need right now...
a commitment to focus on gratitude.
To praise the Giver of all Gifts.
So many of my days have been spent in a "funk" lately and yet,
I am so blessed...

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42:11

I am grabbing a notebook right now
and labeling it my 1,000 Gifts Journal.
I will randomly share some of the entries with you.

Want to join me? Check out the details here...

So, here goes...my first entry in my 1,000 Gifts Journal:

1) The stillness and quiet of the house after everyone has gone to bed for the night.

Thank you, Lord, for the many blessings and gifts you give to me each day. Please forgive me for my indifference and lack of attention to details. Open my eyes, my ears, and my heart so that I can see you in all the small details of my day, everyday. Amen.


A Meme...

Ok, so I am not really sure what a Meme is...but I was tagged by my friend Leah and I'll give it my best shot.

The rules:
1. Link your tagger and list the rules on the blog.
2. Share 7 facts about your kiddos on your blog…random, weird, funny…whatever you want!
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post
4. Don’t forget to let the tagged people know!

So here is every random thing I can think of about my children

1. Nicole has been deathly afraid of water since she was about 18 months old. I mean...she cries when I wash her hair. Until 2 weeks ago, that is... We visited a "beach-entry" pool and she decided to try it out. She cried when we left because she didn't want to get out. Since then she has swam in the ocean (at a ripe 60 degrees), a regular swimming pool, an unheated hot tub, a friend's wading pool and anywhere else she can go in her bathing suit. She has also decided that she wants to be a lifeguard when she grows up. Amazing.

2. Abi pooped today. "Big deal" right? It is around here. From about 6 weeks old until 6 months old, my children do not poop. With Nicole, I freaked. With Joshua, I was mildly concerned. Abi - I know better. She'll start pooping again when she is 6 months old. All of them were exclusively breastfed. All gained weight. None pooped. I am a lactation consultant and I cannot explain it. They are not constipated, there is just no poop in there. Strange but true.

3. Nicole's favorite bedtime song is "Shout to the Lord." She calls it the "My Jesus song but not Jesus Loves Me." Joshua's favorite bedtime song is "Taps". Did you know that "Taps" (the solo trumpet song they play at military funerals) has words? My husband googled it and found the words. You can read more about the history of "Taps" by clicking here. The words are:

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the l
ake, from the hills,
From the sky.
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.

Fades the light; And afar
Goeth day, And the stars
Shineth bright,
Fare thee well; Day has gone,
Night is on.

Thanks and praise, For our days,
'Neath the sun, Neath the stars,
'Neath the sky,
As we go, This we know,
God is nigh.

4. Joshua's birthday is coming up in August. He wants a "red car shirt" for his birthday. That would be Lighting McQueen from Cars. Nicole's birthday is next March. She wants a pink telephone with a cord (which she thinks is so it doesn't get lost). Abi is still undecided on her next birthday gift...

5. Nicole has flown cross-country 6 times. Joshua 4 and Abi 2 times. Mimi and Bumpa (my parents) live in Maryland and the kids long to go to their house again. Amazingly, Nicole still remembers that the plane makes her ears hurt when she goes to Mimi and Bumpa's house.

6. Neither Joshua or Nicole slept through the night before they were 15 months old. (Joshua was actually more like 21 months old when he started sleeping through the night). I have very low expectations for Abi sleeping through the night any time soon...although maybe she'll suprise me! I have been sleep deprived now for 5 consecutive years and I live on Chai Tea lattes and Coca-Cola. Not good...

7. Though my children drive me absolutely insane sometimes, they are the most precious thing in the world to me and I praise God for them everyday! I could not imagine my life without their madness and I wouldn't want it any other way. There is a country song called, "You're Gonna Miss This" by Trace Adkins and the very last stanza says this:

Five years later there's a plumber workin' on the water heater
Dog's barkin', phone's ringin' One kid's cryin', one kid's screamin'
And she keeps apologizin'
He says "They don't bother me.
I've got 2 babies of my own.
One's 36, one's 23.
Huh, it's hard to believe, but...

You're gonna miss this
You're gonna want this back You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast These are some good times So take a good look around You may not know it now But you're gonna miss this"

That pretty much sums up my life right now. Except instead of the plumber...it's the air conditioning repairman (who has been back to my house 3 times now since allegedly fixing the air conditioner). I just laugh when I hear that song because it describes my house perfectly.

Sampson is barking...Joshua's crying and Abi is screaming...

I could wish these days away, but I will try my best not to. I know that one day they won't be so small and I won't be able to kiss away their boo-boos anymore.

OK, so that wraps up my random facts about my children. I am supposed to "tag" 7 people...but I hardly think I know 7 other boggers. So, here is everyone I know and if you are lurking and want to join in...please feel free!

Blessings to you all, I'll be back soon with a more "meaningful" post about prayer!

Kaiser Chronicles
Cooper Chaos
Mommy Doesn't Live Here



We are **SUPPOSED** to be on vacation right now.

We are not.

Any guesses about the atmosphere in my house right now? Yeah, whatever you are thinking is probably right - we'll leave it at that.

We were scheduled to leave for Colorado last Thursday, a much needed break from an otherwise overwhelming life. We were planning to drive and camp along the way. We were returning to the Christian Camp where we met, 9 years ago, for a dedication ceremony and some long anticipated fellowship with old friends. We were (somewhat) packed and awaiting my husband's arrival home from work on Thursday when he called to say we could not leave...a work issue had come up and it would not be feasible for us to drive to CO in time for the ceremony...especially w/ 3 children under the age of 4 in the car.

Now, some of you may be thinking...3 children in the car...driving to Colorado...and CAMPING...good thing the trip was canceled!!!! I have actually thought that once or twice over the past week myself. But the truth remains - we needed to get away. And we didn't.

My dear husband tried to make it up to the kids with a last minute overnight camping trip at the lake. It was a disaster. Not because of the children (as you would expect), but because of the (scary) people camping around us. We did not sleep at all. We are eaten alive with mosquito bites. We did not even stay for breakfast the next morning...we were packed and headed for home by 8:00 in the morning! But the kids had fun, so I guess that is all that matters.

Sunday, we decided to try the pool. Nicole (who has otherwise been terrified of the water) was suddenly converted to part fish and could not get enough swimming done. Joshua (also known as our future river guide due to his passion for the water) sat on the edge and cried the entire time we were there. Another disaster. Yeah!

My husband headed back to work on Monday and well, when you are planning to be away from work for a whole week and end up back there anyway...you usually aren't very happy about it. None of us were. And none of us were doing a very good job of hiding it. We were tired and grumpy and driving each other crazy. By last night I was done. I mean D-O-N-E. The children had been whiney and disobedient...the baby cranky because we are in the middle of changing her meds. I had been puked on all day and I was, well done. There was an issue with the (new/ used) car that had to be dealt with immediately, so my husband spent all evening taking care of that...which meant another meal and bedtime on my own. I knew that I was headed for a meltdown, so I text-messaged my dear friend Tami to ask for prayer. It went something like this: Pls. pray for me, I am close to meltdown. Call me tomorrow. Love you! She text msg'd me back the following: You are a wonderful mother and wife because you know when you need prayer and you ask for it. Love you too.

Man, who doesn't need a friend like that!

By the time I got her text back, I had actually calmed down a bit...but I still wasn't exactly "speaking" to my husband. We were both clearly annoyed with one another. As I stood at the sink washing dishes, I thought back over the events of the evening...At one point I was ready to call it quits. And at some point, I regained a small glimer of hope (perhaps it was the rapidly approaching bedtime). I chuckled to myself as I thought, "someone must have been praying for me, not even knowing that I needed it." And you know how thoughts go...that snowballed into a flury of thoughts that led to this..."If I am supposed to LOVE my enemies and PRAY for those who persecute me (Matt 5:44), how much more should I be LOVING and PRAYING for my husband right now..."

OK, stop right there...I am in NO WAY implying that my husband is my enemy or that he persecutes me. My husband is my BEST friend and takes care of me better than I take care of myself. My point is, if I am to treat people I am not fond of in this manner, shouldn't I be treating my husband 100 x's better than this? Sure, I pray for him daily. I **try** to put his needs before my own, although I am not very good at it. But the word INTERCEDE was stuck in the forefront of my mind. My husband was suffering through this bad week just as much (if not more) than I was. He needed prayer. I immediately confessed my negative thoughts and selfish musings as sinful and asked the Lord to forgive me. I then began to pray for him, for encouragement, for peace, for him to KNOW that I was on his side, supporting him, and not just someone else who needed his support and attention. You know what happened? Nothing...
Just kidding.

My heart began to soften towards him. More and more, my heart turned towards him and I began to want to encourage him and serve him myself. Even more awesome is that his heart softened towards me (and I know it because he finally started speaking to me again). We were on the same team again, supporting one another through this time of trial, not feeling sorry for ourselves and blaming the other person. Prayer is amazing! (And he doesn't even know how I manipulated him into speaking to me again, ha ha).

So, what in the world is the point of this LONG post...I'm not really sure, but I needed to get all this off my chest. Pray for your husbands ladies. If you are upset or frustrated with them, do not harbor bitter or wrong thoughts towards them. Confess any wrong thinking immediately - these thoughts are sin! Begin to keep a mental list of things you love about your husband and pray through them, praising God for each thing (even if you can only think of one or two at the time...keep it up and the list is bound to grow). Instead of grousing about him, praise God for the man He brought into your life. God is faithful to soften our hearts and turn our hearts back to them when we do!

Blessings to you all...have a great weekend!

But I tell you: Love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you...
Matt 5:44

For where your treasure is,
there your heart will be also.
Matt 6:21


On the Reflux Roller Coaster Again

Well...here we go again.

I guess that I have been in denial.

Abigail has always been a projectile vomiter. I have even nick-named her "pooker" (because she pukes all the time). But until recently she was a relatively happy puker. She has been becoming increasingly fussy over the last few weeks, with periods of intense screaming/ arching/ and poor nursing. She clings to me in desperation and cannot be consoled. After a quick trip to North Carolina this weekend, it became apparent that we needed to do something about it. My mom agreed that Abigail's behavior mimicked that of Joshua when he was about 3 months old...which we learned much later was because of his reflux. Part of me wants to run and hide from the reflux monster this time...and the other part of me wants to treat her NOW so she doesn't get as sick as Joshua did (which was from leaving it untreated). I just don't want to give her medication if it is all in my head...

We saw our fantastic pediatrician today, Dr. Grant, and she agreed that it was time to do a medication trial. I guess I should be optimistic that this will bring back my happy baby...but I am sad that we have to go through it again. That on top of some other discouraging news regarding our home/ job situation has me a little bummed. But hey, God has a plan for us...and it is good. So I will cling to Him and His Word as we round another corner in this roller coaster called life!

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

And we know that in all things God works for the good
of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28


A Sense of Humor

Did you know that GOD has sense of humor?

I mean, we all know that He is magnificent, holy and perfect. Creator and sustainer, giver of all good gifts. All knowing and all powerful. (I could go on and on, but you get the picture)

BUT...have you ever stopped to think about His sense of humor?

Can you ever just tell that God is getting a good chuckle out of your situation? Well, imagine this scene...

I was shopping at Kohl's for a pair of shorts for my upcoming trip to North Carolina. The shopping part was unpleasant just because of the size I ended up purchasing, but that is a whole different topic for another day...Anyhow, the pleasant part of the experience was my children's' behavior. Abi was in the stroller and Joshua and Nicole were walking...usually a recipe for disaster...but things were going surprisingly well. We got to the register and had almost succeeded without incident when it happened...

I noticed a poor momma of 4 walking towards the register with her SCREAMING 3 year old. He was having the tantrum of a century. And she had "the look." You know it...the 1,000 yard stare that says, "Do not look at me and certainly do not speak to me or I shall surely rip your head off." Feeling great compassion for this woman (as my children stood patiently waiting for the cashier to help us), I said a quick prayer for her...it went something like this, "Lord, I know how this poor woman feels. Please help her now. Give her Your peace and let her know that she is not alone." And why did I have to say that last line? No sooner did I say "Amen" than my own Joshua began his own gianormous temper tantrum right there at the check out. Fortunately, we were almost done, I swept him up into the stroller and made a mad dash for the door. As I reached the car (Joshua still WAILING) I realized that God has used ME to show her she wasn't alone. Thank you...I needed that.

As my husband loves to say - "Everyone needs to be humbled every now and then."

PS: Chores got done today and we made it to speech therapy. I must admit that I am starting to lose my motivation though...Tomorrow: clean bathrooms and empty trash. We will probably eat out since I am leaving (with Abi) early Friday morning for North Carolina (my baby sister is graduating from college...Congrats Ashley!!!). I'll be spending most of my evening packing, I'm sure.

PS Again: The picture above is of Joshua when he was about 8 weeks old. Always has been a screamer!!!


Wordless Wednesday - 3 Months Old

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Progress Report

Day #2 of life back on track...

Chores: DONE!

Yes, that's right...I tackled my greatest enemy (other than my weight and the dentist) and dusted my house. I also Windex'd the mirrors and glass in the house. We tackled the market and ran an errand for my husband. I somehow managed to have dinner ready when my husband got home from work (thankfully he was a little late getting home...so I had a few extra minutes) and I even walked the dog!!!! Brownie points for me, ha ha. You should have seen the looks I got from people...me with the baby in the front carrier, Nicole and Joshua in the now VERY heavy jogging stroller and the huge yellow lab pulling us down the street. We were a traveling circus!

Vacuum up and down stairs
Balance the checkbook

Dinner: Tacos, Spanish Rice and Beans

Wednesday is a crazy day because we go to speech therapy an hour away. Joshua loves his teacher and she is working miracles with his speech...so at this point it is still worth it. When gas hits $4.00 per gallon here in So Cal I will have to reconsider our 2 hour round trip drive for 30 minutes of speech class! Until then, we pack up the kids and enjoy the ride! The cool thing is that we drive by Miramar Naval Air Station and always see cool helicopters and jets flying overhead.

The bad news for today was ATTITUDE! It stunk all around my house. Nicole has been pushing buttons ever since she has recovered from being sick last week. Give her an inch of slack and she'll walk all over you! I quickly grew impatient with her finagling and Joshua's whining and my attitude went right down the toilet with theirs! Looking back now, I see what was missing - that short but ever so important prayer time during the baby's morning feed. Bummer - I cannot leave that one out! Anyway, there was a fair amount of shouting in my house today. I am very disappointed in myself. The market was a nightmare because the children would not keep their hands to themselves and Nicole almost knocked an older man down because she was dancing around the sidewalk while walking to the car. I feel like they should know better because I am always on their case about it...but I guess they don't. I guess I should just take it as a reminder of the importance of my quiet time in the morning (no matter how short of insignificant it seems, it is still vital for my day) and the ever important task of TRAINING my children. So we keep training. And praying. And praying. And praying some more.

Hope you have an awesome day tomorrow! Here's praying for a better attitude in my house...



Air Conditioner: FIXED!

Chores: DONE!!!

It was a better day.

I started the day with a short prayer time during the baby's 5:30 am feeding (it was short because I did fall back asleep when she was done).

We somehow managed to hit the ground running and actually finished our chores by 9:30 am. By that time, the air conditioner repairman had arrived and I was able to use his presence for a short lesson on strangers...just because he was at our home did not mean that we knew him. My daughter is very friendly and outgoing and would take him all over the house showing him things if I let her. Gotta be careful of that one!

Anyway, we pulled out a game for "school time" and tried a slightly less formal method of learning. Dora the Explorer Chutes and Ladders was the lesson...we practiced number recognition and counting. We actually played the game for about 5 minutes till they decided to play the game "their way" and I decided I wasn't going to die on that hill! Next, we moved on to play dough while mom balanced the checkbook. The kids had a blast. This was also a nice lesson in color recognition for Joshua! Then we had lunch and were off to naps - during which time I managed to squeeze in 2 hours of work (I work from home helping out a friends business as often as I can). All in all, I'd call the day a success...a few moments of, well...chaos and disorder, but overall I am feeling pretty good. Now, we prepare for tomorrow...

Chores: Dust up and downstairs.
Windex all mirrors and doors.

I know it doesn't seem like much, but dusting is my LEAST favorite chore. We also will do one load of laundry and will probably run to the market. Hopefully we can get some "school" in as well. And speaking of chores...in all my ambition last night I printed out new chore charts for the kids. This really helped their motivation level today...

Nicole's Chore Chart (4 years old): Make Bed, Feed Dog (AM), Kitchen Helper (empty the dishwasher if clean, set/ clear the table), Clean-up the Play Room, and Quiet nap time.

Joshua's Chore Chart (2 1/2): Make Bed, Feed Dog (PM), Laundry Helper (he puts the laundry in the washer and presses start, then changes it to dryer), Clean-up Playroom and Quiet nap time.

Nicole has to help Josh do some of his chores, but as we learned this morning in devotions...helping others is a way to show God's love to them. And besides, they get stars for doing their chores with a "happy heart," who could ask for more?

And so now, the kitchen is clean, my husband's lunch is packed and I am off to bed. Lord willing, tomorrow will be as productive as today and I can be one step closer to my re-organized life after Baby #3. Tune in tomorrow for the next update...

The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.
Psalm 28:7