Tuesday, October 31, 2006

News from Texas ... Coming Soon!

I am dying to share with you, but I still haven't even downloaded any of my pictures... and sadly, it's only pictures of Friday (and some on Saturday)... not many at all, really, because ... well ... I had my 1 yr old son with me ... yeah, that's it ... need I say more? Although, I guess I really can't use that as an excuse, because my wonderful, funny, beautiful and stylish sister in law (Sunshine) came with me in an "au pair" capacity ... So, anyway, I'm waiting for copies of GREAT pictures from people like Lauren, and Faith, and Tina (who has our group picture and is holding it hostage... okay, maybe not, but when I get it, I'll share it).

Anyway, I'll be back on soon ... after I've loaded my pictures. I'll leave you with this tidbit ... all the women were fabulous! Each one was just what I expected... no ax murderers, no stalkers ... just beautifully talented women ... moms ... away for the weekend ... laughing it up (fuzball). So make sure you hit their blogs sometime this week ... you might see a real-live picture of them!

And, a special, SPECIAL thanks to Lauren, Jeana and Carol for graciously planning this weekend. I had a wonderful time, and enjoyed everyone's company immensely! Special blessings to each one of you!

Tina from Antique Mommy
Lauren from Created For His Glory
Jeana from Days To Come
Chilihead from Don't Try This At Home
Faith from Faithful Mommy
Kep from Holding the Mirror to My Soul
Kelsey (& little Seth) from Holy Mama
Rachel Anne from Home Sanctuary
Sarah from In the Midst Of It
Me (GiBee) from Kisses of Sunshine
Megan from Life In a Nutshell
Minnie from Minnie Moments
Jan from My Mind...Lost...Strayed...or Stolen
Kelly from Overhead Under Grace
Katherine from Raising Five
AggieJenn (& little Caleb & her hubby Justin) from Reflecting Him
Shannon from Rocks In My Dryer
Shalee from Shalee's Diner (audio posts)
Carol from She Lives
CMommy Sing a Lullaby

WHEW!! That took a long time to link everyone, because of course... I had to read the posts about the weekend that are up already!

So until I get my photos downloaded ... Enjoy reading everyone else!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Closed for the Weekend...

Kisses of Sunshine will be closed until next week so that I can fly out to Texas and meet some of my blogging buds! We'll be lollygaging around with the cowboys, and who knows ... I may even come home with a snazzy pair of cowboy boots.

Ummm ... maybe not.

See ya next week!

Oh, yeah ... one more thing: I don't want to scare anyone off, but ... can you HELP A SISTER OUT? When ever you (no, not you, YOU over there! Yes! YOU ... or anyone, really) leave a comment on my blog, can you please, please, pretty please, leave your email address, too? No one else will see it but me, and I won't sell it to anyone. I just have a problem responding to new people because the majority don't leave an email address, or log on as anonymous, and I like to email you individually! It's all about the personal touch ... nothing more, nothing less! Thanks for understanding!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Works For Me Wednesday

Hold your pants on real tight, because I'm getting ready to do a Works for Me Wednesday Post.


I just figured that since I didn't have anything else to talk about, I thought I'd WOW you with a new cool mom trick I just learned.

So, I'm pretty sure that since this is my first WFMW Post, someone else may have already covered this, but hey ... it still works for me, so you get to hear it again!

Recently, my son turned one. He had been sleeping through the night just fine, when suddenly, around 9 months, he began to wake up for no apparent reason other than to take a few sips of warm milk (he wouldn't even take the whole bottle!), and then go back to sleep. And trust me when I say ... he would SCREAM until I got him a bottle.

So, being a first time mom, I asked the doctor what to do. She recommended that I place a sippy cup of water in his crib, and when he wakes up, show him the cup, give him a sip, give him a few pats, put him back down, walk out of the room, and let him cry.

Now, this is where the problem became apparent. Evidently, out of all the sippy cups and straw cups in the entire world, my son had become attached to only one in particular, and would have NOTHING to do with any other cup. AND ... we couldn't remember where we purchased this ONE cup that we had, and had been in NUMEROUS stores trying to find another one.

This one single cup became precious in our home, as it had to go to daycare with Hunter, come back home with Hunter, and go to bed with Hunter. It was like the Holy Grail! ONE cup, MANY uses. Not a good thing with a baby! I was willing to pay HIGH DOLLAR for another cup like this! You could often hear us frantically saying, "Where's the cup!? Where's THE CUP?" Then, a friend of mine clued me in that WalMart is the only place around here that carries them, and they are always out of them. Must be real popular!

What's the cup? It's a Nuby Flip-It-Leak-Proof-Straw-Bottle with a soft, flexible, child-proof straw.

Now, the beauty of this cup is... it has a flat, flexible (soft), and wide straw that he likes to chew on when he's teething, and he can drink out of it without tilting the cup. What can I say ... I have a lazy and picky son. He refused any other straw cup. So, when I was at WalMart one day, I totally bought out all "5" that they had left. I have since found many online places that not only sell the cups (2 for under $7), but replacement straws and valves (for under $2). Gotta love it!

So ... there you have it ... what works for me is a simple, cheap, straw cup that can't be found anywhere ... but if YOU want one, you can just click HERE and order to your heart's content.

And yes ... it worked. Evidently, my lazy, picky son was waking up thirsty in the middle of the night, and his brilliant momma couldn't figure it out on her own. He now sleeps through the night, with an occasional wake-up for a sip of water.



Revised to add: I can NOT believe I forgot to give Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer credit for being the hostess with the mostest for Works For Me Wednesday! Head on over to her blog to check out tons of other great tips!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Homemade Gift Idea Exchange

Finally! It's here! I've been very busy putting together some examples of homemade gift ideas, and I hope you have fun with them. I've included a link for recipes and tag instructions, and a link for other resources.

If you have any gift ideas you'd like to add, just add your name with the gift idea title next to your name (example: GiBee; Container Gifts) and the link to your idea post (rather than your blog's home page). If you have any questions, please email me and I'll help you out as best as I can. In order to keep confusion to a minimum, please do not add a Mister Linky to your blog, but rather, direct people to my blog.

Take your time to view everything, and... enjoy!

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." (1 Peter 4:10)
And, really ... that's what a homemade gift is -- a little bit of God's grace, like a piece of your heart, that you've taken the time to share with another person.


1) Economical Homemade Gift Ideas (that you can put in a jar or bag)
2) Homebaked Gift Ideas
3) Thematic Basket Gift Ideas (more costly)

Economical Homemade Gift Ideas

Here are some simple and inexpensive gifts (that you can put in a glass canning jar or treat bags). You probably already have most of the items in your kitchen already, making it even more economical! Cellophane treat bags can be found in the baking section of a craft store, and comes in a variety of sizes. Jars can look adorable when trimmed with seasonal fabric, ribbons, wraphia, buttons, etc. The tag can be handwritten on a piece of cardstock, cut with zig-zag scissors and tied on with a nice ribbon.
1) Cream of Potato Soup Mix
2) M&M Cookie Mix
3) Pretzel Rods dipped in Chocolate & Sprinkles
4) Spiced Nuts
5) Hot Chocolate Mix
6) Candy Cane Cappuccino
7) Snowball Marshmallows
8) Apricot/Cranberry Bread Mix
9) Christmas Crunch
10)Calico Baked Beans & Seasonings

Homebaked (some in containers) Gift Ideas

Nothing says "I love you," or "You're special to me" than a homebaked gift. It's comforting, and tasty, and shows you cared enough to spend an extra moment to make them something special... but not all things need to be made from scratch! You can make a beautiful loaf bread (like banana nut or cranberry orange) from a boxed mix and wrap it in cellophane and tie it off with a bow... no one will know that you didn't make it from scratch! Brownies and cakes can be made from box mixes too, and everyone loves the thought that went into making them!

I love making Bundt cakes and giving them as gifts on an inexpensive glass plate purchased from WalMart or the Dollar Store. Sometimes, I even find fun plates at garage sales and antique stores. And, if it's a special gift for a special someone, and I want to give them a fun or groovy plate, I will pay a little extra (like $10) and get a cool plate from Target or any other store that carries funky things!

Here are some funky boxes that I got from the craft store. The set of boxes included 4 nested/stackable boxes in various sizes as seen below ... so adorable for only $4! That's FOUR boxes for $1 each! And, I placed homebaked items in the boxes with tissue paper... so fun to receive and open!

Double Lemon Delights
(made from scratch)

Fudgy Brownies
(box mix was used, but
brownies were cut out in
round shapes with a glass)

Here is a rectangle glass plate I purchased at WalMart for $6.78, and added the homebaked Chocolate Nut Bars and a ribbon for a cute gift:

You can also make fun pretzel treats or candy and give them in either a plain white candy box (baking section of the craft store for $2.50, 6 per pkg) or in cellophane bags:

Smashed Bug Candy

Christmas Crunch (white chocolate and candy cane bark)

Thematic Basket/Bag Gift Ideas

I love themed gifts! Especially when they are "basket" gifts! They can be so personal and filled with many fun things... They are more costly, but are fun to put together for a special person! Remember: They are only as expensive as you make them -- these are just ideas!

1) Gingerbread Cookie Kit in a Bag -- Total Cost: $14
Gingerbread Cookie Mix in a bag (Pantry)
Sugar in a bag (Pantry)
Sprinkles and Red Hots (WMart $2)
Miniature Chocolate Chips (Pantry)
Decorator Icings (Craft Store $8)
Gingerbread Cookie Cutter (Craft Store $1)
Gingerbread Ornament (Craft Store $1)
Gift Bag (Craft Store $2)

2) Couple's Gift -- Total Cost: $31.96
A Candle (in chinese takeout box) (WalMart: $1.96)
Homemade Candy (Pantry)
Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix (Pantry)
A couples devotional
(Night Light For Couples
by Dr. James Dobson - $15)
Leatherette Desk Box (Craft Store $15)

Optional Addition: Gift Card to Olive Garden ($25)

3) Lovely Feet Basket -- Total Cost: $40 (Use Rom. 10:15b on tag: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"):

Fluffy White Towel (WMart $4.24)
Candle & Holder (Craft Store $5)
Burts Bees Foot Lotion ($8)
Nail Polish (WMart $1.96)
Sugar Scrub
Cushy Socks (WMart $2.88)
Sea Sponge (WMart $2.87)
Worship CD (WMart $9.96)
Basket (Craft Store $5)

4) Gardener's Delight Basket -- Total Cost: $22.58 (Use Jeremiah 31:12c on tag: "They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more."):
2 Amaryllis Bulbs (WMart: $2.97 ea.)
Special Liquid Soap (WalMart: $5.97)
Hand & Cuticle Salve (WalMart: $3.44)
Poppy Seeds (cheepseeds.com: $3.00)
Clay pot container (Craft Store: $0.95)
Journal (Craft Store: $1)
Basket (WMart $5.25)

5) Thinking of You Basket -- (Use 2 Timothy 1:3 on tag: "I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers."):

Variation #1 -- Total Cost: $11.99


Tea Cup (Thrift Shop $8)
Tea Bags (Pantry)
Double Lemon Cookies (Pantry)
Basket (Craft Shop $3.99)

Variation #2 -- Total Cost: $15.97


Tea Cup (Antique Shop $10)
Tea Bags (Pantry)
Devotional (WMart $5.97)
Wrap in Cellophane and tie off with bow

6) 3 Quick Gift Ideas:

Quick Idea #A: A Basket with Christmas Crunch, Snowball Marshmallows and Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

Quick Idea #B: A Basket with Candy Cane Cappuccino, Pretzel Candies, Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods, Christmas Book

Quick Idea #C: A holiday Mug (WMart $1) Cream of Potato Soup Mix, Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods

BONUS: Other Random ideas to help spur your imagination

Priceless Beyond Words -- This is a wonderful idea I got out of the "Homespun Gifts from the Heart" book (along with a few other ideas listed above) that is perfect for an older child. The story in the book is that a Pastor's wife gave her daughter on her thirteenth birthday a used Bible. The mother had purchased it new, and read through the Bible in one year, making "mom notes" in the margins, written especially from mother for daughter, about her favorite passages, spiritual yearnings, memories of how a biblical truth was learned, or various people who embodied certain attributes of god. She gave the Bible to her daughter with a Scripture Reading Plan so the daughter would have the Bible read by her 18th birthday (5 year plan). This is also an excellent gift for kids going off to college, leaving the house for their own place, or getting married -- not only did the daughter receive insight and special notes from her mother's heart, but she also received a guide for getting into the Word every day. Yes, it takes some planning on your part, but it's a gift that will be treasured for years and years.

Christmas Fun -- A family gift at Christmas time (geared for families with young children): Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix in a canning jar; Cranberry-orange sweet rolls made in a disposable foil pan; homemade magic reindeer food for the kids to sprinkle on the lawn in a recycled baby food jar (it attracts reindeer, if you know what I mean); homemade Christmas Crunch.

Christmas Fun for Adults -- A sweet little gift for a couple that enjoys a quiet Christmas Eve together: A collection of homemade spiced nuts; homemade cinamon-sugar pretzels; homemade sticky buns in a disposable foil pan; some gourmet coffee in a small glass canning jar with a pretty ribbon around it (that way, you can split one bag up a couple times).

A gift for a mother, sister, or girlfriend -- A thoughtful gift that encourages the one you love to spend some quiet time alone, possibly relaxing in the bath tub: A white towel rolled up and tied with a ribbon; a white pillar candle and a glass candle holder (you can get these inexpensively at the craft store or WalMart); a book according to what they like to read; a scented soap (Bath and Body Works); a scented body lotion.

A girl's gift for tired hands and feet -- This gift is for the woman that spends so much time working around the home, in the garden, or in the laundry room, that her hands and feet go neglected, and are rough and chapped and in need of some TLC: Homemade hand and foot scrub in a small glass canning jar; soothing foot balm; scented hand lotion; a good lip balm; white cotton socks.

I hope you've enjoyed these ideas... Don't forget to sign in on my Mister Linky (I hope it works) to share your ideas!

Click here for Recipes & Tips
Click here for Tips & Vendors

Have a blessed time preparing Homemade Gifts Made with Love!


1. EaglesWings (Calendar)
2. Angie - Jelly
3. Jen (tins,jars,plates,baskets)
4. Julie (Orignal art note pads)
5. Laurel Wreath
6. Susie
7. kpjara
8. Shalee
9. Larae (blankets, etching, vodka)
10. Susanne
11. Kathleen Marie (this and that)
12. Laura- Fruits Basket
13. Chupieandjsmama
14. A Chelsea Morning (several things)
15. Christina
16. Jessica (felt pincushion and coasters)
17. Susan (Bunch of Cookie Mix in Jar Recipes)
18. Susan (Bunch of Bread Mix Recipes)
19. Julie Bo Boolie (Frozen Ready To Go Meals)
20. Lady Why (Alphabet Scramble)
21. Mommaofmany
22. DeputyHeadmistress
23. Kim (easy child\'s apron)
24. Gilby
25. kpjara #2 (decoupage and earrings)
26. kelly (christmas stockings)

Powered by... Mister Linky's Magical Widgets.

Homemade Gift Idea Exchange


Sorry! Hopefully, we can have this up and running by this afternoon.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

In memory of Canon

A mother and father have lost their son. He has gone home to be with the Lord, and for that I rejoice, but as a mother myself, my heart cries out for Carla, her husband and family. Words escape me, and my heart is heavy for this family. I have been so out of the loop this week caring for my own sick son, that I totally missed a crisis that was occurring.

Please ... pray for the family. They have a long road ahead of them.

Carla -- I pray that you physically feel the presence of our heavenly father!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

From sickness to Homemadeness ... Oiy!

I'm here, I really am!! I've been caring for a sick baby, believe it or not! Hunter got his 1-year vaccinations two weeks ago, and the doctor said that he "might" have a small reaction. Well, apparently, with Hunter, when doctors say "might" ... they mean WILL. He has had a high fever, a spotty-measle-like rash, and general crankiness since Tuesday. Today is the first day he's feeling better. So... I will be busy cooking up a storm for Monday's Homemade Gift Idea Exchange!

I haven't read any comments, blogs, or e-mails since Tuesday morning, so I will try to catch up on them this evening. If you have e-mailed me asking me for the code for the button, I'll try to get it out tonight. Sorry about the delay!

Thanks for understanding my absence. Now...

Don't Forget ...

Homemade Gift Idea Exchange

Monday, October 23

Please join me in sharing ideas and tips for Homemade Gifts. I'll have several simple, everyday ideas, for economical homemade gifts, and I'll also be sharing some fun Thematic Basket/Container Gift Ideas that can be made from a collection/variety of items which can all be purchased in stores such as WalMart, Target, flea markets and antique stores, yard sales, or even the dollar store!

So, put on your thinking caps now, and get ready to share some of your brilliant ideas! I'll try to have Mr. Linky working by then ... I'm close -- real close! Also, I'll have some pictures so that you can see some of my ideas, and I'll provide you with recipes, gift tag ideas, tips, and links to other sources for purchasing gift wrapping supplies.

Please feel free to grab the button for your blog, and please link it back to my blog. Thanks! (or, email me and I'll send you the code)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Recipes and Reminders

Many of you have asked for a two of my recipes off of this week's menu: Slow cooked Apple Pork Chops, and Cream of Chicken Potato Soup.

Well, to be honest, I have just developed the recipe for the Slow Cooked Apple Pork Chops, and want to try them first before I publish the recipe for you ... just so I don't end up poisoning anyone!

Also, this will be the first time that I make Cream of Chicken Potato Soup with the particular recipe I have selected ... so ... even though the picture looks yummy, I still think I want to try it first before I share the recipe!

If you'll allow me to first make these two dishes over the weekend, and give me a chance to get honest reviews from my husband, I'll gladly post the recipes next week ... if they turn out good!


Don't Forget ...

Homemade Gift Idea Exchange

Monday, October 23

Please join me in sharing ideas and tips for Homemade Gifts. I'll have several simple, everyday ideas, for economical homemade gifts, and I'll also be sharing some fun Thematic Basket/Container Gift Ideas that can be made from a collection/variety of items which can all be purchased in stores such as WalMart, Target, flea markets and antique stores, yard sales, or even the dollar store!

So, put on your thinking caps now, and get ready to share some of your brilliant ideas! I'll try to have Mr. Linky working by then ... I'm close -- real close! Also, I'll have some pictures so that you can see some of my ideas, and I'll provide you with recipes, gift tag ideas, tips, and links to other sources for purchasing gift wrapping supplies.

Please feel free to grab the button for your blog, and please link it back to my blog. Thanks! (or, email me and I'll send you the code)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Monday Madness

It's Monday. It's crisp outside; the sun is sparkling; the sky is a bright blue and clear, with just a few wispy white clouds; the air smells clean and "fallish"; and I'm ready to loose my mind because I have too many pots on the stove!!

About 7 years ago (more or less), I injured my back severely. Actually, it may have already been injured and I just "enhanced" the injury by helping my sister-in-law push my husband (while in a truck) out of the driveway (he had to go to work) during a huge snow storm. I should have stopped there, but no ... I just had to help my SIL shovel the snow from our driveway, too. Yeah. I'm not real bright sometimes. I think we got almost 2 feet of snow that weekend. And in return for the beautiful snow, I spent about a month off work, and in bed or out getting therapy. Three bulging disks went a long way to slow me down, and for the most part, I only have some bearable and lingering daily pain, but I can usually work through it.

That is ... Until I started to organize my home, do some fall cleaning, and get ready for my son's first birthday party. My eyes and mind are usually much bigger than my actual ability to "maintain" on course (my stamina). For instance ... I have many, MANY ideas for the Homemade Christmas Gift Idea Exchange, but my stupid back will only allow me to function for a small amount of time before having to take a muscle relaxer, pain killer, anti-inflammatory, etc. Which, in turn, puts me to sleep. GREAT! How am I supposed to get anything done? Full time job, church functions, homemade gift examples, laundry, house cleaning, cooking, organizing, caring for my child (as in -- making sure he doesn't burn himself on the oven or fall on his head while I'm zipping around the kitchen) ... and, yes ... my husband DOES help, but he has chores too ... cutting grass, yard work, trash detail, giving Hunter a bath, helping feed and care for him, etc. I know everyone deals with this, so if anyone has any tips, I'm all ears!

Maybe it's the Lord gently nudging me, reminding me to slow down. Possibly, it's a reminder to not take on too much at one time. Or maybe, I need to remember that I'm not superwoman, and can't take the whole world on in one day! Who would have thunk?!?

All this to say ... that instead of the original 3000 gift ideas I had, I'm having to pare down my preparations, and narrow it down to my best handful that I can prepare and show you pictures of. I will have ideas sorted into categories which I will present later on in the week. Also, I absolutely LOVE making themed gift baskets (or container gifts), and while they are not "homemade" ... they are "put together in my home," so I'll share some of those, too.

All right ... enough complaining about my back, my duties as a momma and wife, and my life in general ... here's my Menu Plan Monday:

Monday: Sweet & Sour Chicken over white rice with sugar snap peas
Tuesday: Oven Fried Chicken with sweet peas and oven roasted potatoes
Wednesday: Oriental Beef over pasta
Thursday: Spaghetti Bolognese with salad
Friday: Homemade Pizza or Leftovers
Saturday: Slow cooked Apple Pork Chops with homemade scalloped potatoes
Sunday: Cream of Chicken Potato Soup, homemade bread

Scoot on over to I'm an Organizing Junkie for more Menu Plan Monday ideas!

What are you waiting for??? Oh, and ... thanks for letting me whine!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Christmas ... It's not that far away!

First, I want to remind you that you are invited to participate in:

The Homemade Christmas
Gift Idea Exchange
Monday, October 23, 2006

(No pictures required, recipes would be appreciated)

All you need to do is a post that shares some of your favorite homemade gifts and even how you have wrapped them or distributed them (like bags, boxes, baskets, etc.).

On that day, I will provide you with: lots of ideas; several links to posts that will have resources where you can purchase wrapping supplies, canning supplies, etc.; recipes you can use; and as many pictures as I can cram into one post without crashing blogger! It should be a fun and busy day!
Now ... on to other Christmassy things!

I don't know about you, but I have always struggled with the whole "Santa" and his elves business ... I hate that many families, in general, place their focus for Christmas around a big fat jolly man in red and white instead of Christ. I also hate that he (Santa) gets the credit for all the Christmas gifts under the tree!

And sadly, our children are inundated with visions and thoughts of Santa checking naughty and nice lists, little elves busily making toys, and flying reindeer warming up to deliver toys, and piles, and piles of toys and gifts under the Christmas tree. It's splattered all over the media, in the stores, in the malls, on t.v., in books ... it's e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e. AND IT HAS ALREADY STARTED!!!

Even adults innocently hype our children up with, "Have you been a good boy/girl this year?" ... or ... "What's Santa bringing you this year?" ... or ... "Have you made your list and mailed it to Santa yet?" I know that there are no mean intentions behind those inquiries ... but, it still grates on my nerves that Santa ... Santa, Santa, Santa ... has, for the most part, become the main focus of this all important holiday.

So, what's a Christian family to do? How can we minimize Santa (without fully removing (or ruining) the excitement of Christmas anticipation from our children) while emphasizing Christ, his birth, and the real reason why we celebrate this symbolic holiday?

My husband and I have wrestled with these questions from almost the day I found out I was pregnant... well ... maybe it was a few months later, but we began with the struggle early on in our pregnancy. Then, Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer posted a great two-part Works-For-Me Wednesday post (links below) which caused me to think even harder about some traditions we want to implement! My husband and I have had many lengthy discussions about this, and, with the help of some friends who implement different traditions in their own family, we have come up with some conclusions that I will share with you -- Our TOP TEN Christmas things list:

1) Mom and Dad are the ones that choose the focal point in the home ... what will our focal point be? Jesus' birth? Or Santa delivering toys? Of course, we choose Jesus, and will do all we can to emphasize Christ's birth, rather than Santa delivering toys. It won't be easy, but it is do-able!

2) In the past, I had made an effort to make Jesus real to my niece (she and her mom lived with us for a while), and for many years now, I have had a gift wrapped in gold paper with a beautiful gold ribbon sitting under the tree for her from Jesus. It was a small effort on my part to try and remove the focus on Santa being the one that "provides" gifts for us at Christmas time, and return it to Jesus, his birth, and the fact that HE is our provider. And, this is a tradition I plan to carry on with our children. There will always be a small gift from Jesus under the tree for each child, along with an individualized letter from Jesus to each of them recapping their year, and encouraging them to follow Him closer in their lives with various challenges (like: pray for your family this year, or spend special time in devotions this year, or help the poor more this year) ... Mind you, it won't be a big gift ... maybe a devotional, a story book, a CD, a figurine, a cross necklace ... but what ever the gift may be ... it will emphasize spiritual matters, and will be waiting for them under the tree from Jesus. Last year, Hunter received a wooden nativity set from Jesus. (I'm not sure what he'll receive this year -- maybe a children's devotional or a children's Bible.)

3) Of course, Daddy will read the Christmas story every year. We will make it a special, cuddly time, most likely on Christmas Eve, in front of the fire, with mugs of cocoa and cookies. Why the cocoa and cookies? Ehhh -- no special reason. It just sounds good to me. Here's to another new tradition!

4) We will find other ways to bring the excitement and anticipation of Jesus and the celebration of his birth into our home throughout the month of December. One sure way of doing this is by putting together a Jesse Tree. This awesome idea was posted by my friend Shannon in a two part post - here are the links: Part 1, and Part 2. What an awesome and amazing idea! Each day in December has a devotion that you do with the kids, and there is an ornament that you make to hang on a tree that correlates to each night's theme. I'm not sure I'm really doing it justice with this explanation, but you can go to this link (thanks, Shannon) to check out the details and to get the instructions, symbols to make into ornaments, the text, and the scriptures. I plan on making some ornaments out of fabric, some out of sculpey clay and painting them, and probably even purchasing some, and who knows what else I'll come up with. We will be able to use them year after year. (I'll post a picture when I'm done) Thanks again, Shannon, for this awesome idea.

5) In the future, I want to have annual birthday parties for Jesus! It doesn't have to be a big to-do, but as my children get older, they will be welcome to invite their friends over for a "Happy Birthday Jesus" party. I'll provide them with a Christian-themed craft (like an ornament for their tree) that they can make, and party-type kid food with a birthday cake for Jesus. It's a great opportunity to share the concept of salvation with the neighborhood kids!

6) We acknowledge that Santa can not be removed from the whole Christmas equation, but Santa CAN and WILL be minimized in the celebrations here in our own home. One way we have thought of doing this is by having a Santa Bag for each child ... like the one pictured ... which can be found at Pottery Barn for Kids. Of course, in the effort to cut back on spending moolah, I will not be buying it from Pottery Barn. I will be making it ... or trying to make it. It won't have his name embroidered on it ... but that's not really important! I will make it big enough to hold a few boxes of toys, games and/or books. Anything in that bag is a gift to the child from Santa, and trust me, they will not be all those expensive "electronic x-boxy" kind of gifts (those will be from us, if they do get them!). Anything else (with the exception of the gift from Jesus) will come from Mom and Dad. (I'll post pictures of the bag once I'm done)

7) I want my children to grow up not only experiencing generosity from others, but I want them to be generous also ... after all, God was so generous with us that he gave us his son to become our savior! I'll teach them how to make homemade gifts and cards for family, friends and neighbors. Hopefully, this will also teach them that Christmas isn't all about buying gifts -- you know -- commercialism (grrr!). Hopefully, they will learn that generosity comes from the heart, not the pocket book. And, along with giving and receiving, comes the lesson of gratitude ... and ... thank you cards!

8) Each year, we will also participate with the Salvation Army's Holiday Angel Tree (go here for more info). Each year, our church gets some names of children who have parents in jail. They come on an ornament with their age, sizes, likes, and needs. We will choose one child in close age to ours, and will purchase gifts for that child. We might even be able to get one per child ... eventually!

9) We'll still do Christmas dinner and holiday cookies and goodies. Those will never go away. After all ... the smell of baking sugar cookies wafting through the house, and the sound of Christmas tunes on the radio is almost enough to drive me over the edge! Almost! Oh, and did I mention ... driving around town looking at all the Christmas lights?

10) And of course, we will focus on the various functions offered by our church and churches around us: Christmas pageants, cantatas, song-shares, caroling, live nativity scenes, etc. How exciting is that?!

So ... that's what our family plans to do. I know it sounds like I've got high expectations, but when it comes to our children's spiritual development, you bet I've got high expectations!

What do you think? Do you have an ideas you'd like to share?? Because I'm all ears!


If you like 80's music, you'll love this ... and if you want to see a dad walk in the shoes of a mom for just one day, then you'll REALLY love this!

And now ... a word brought to you from the NFL ... the "National Father's League" ...


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tuesday Toss-up

Isn't this bird beautiful? I took the picture off of Yahoo News -- not sure if I was supposed to, but I just had to share it with y'all -- Get this -- it's a new bird that has been discovered in a previously unexplored Andean cloud forest in Bogota, Colombia called the Yariguies brush-finch. Beautiful!! OK ... moving on to business...

Having A "Whatever" Attitude

Yesterday, I stayed home from work to take my now one year old (sigh) to the doctor for his one-year check up, vaccinations, and flu shot (Hunter did great). My mom, who is visiting from North Carolina, came with us, and after his appointment, we went to lunch, and then shopping.

While we were riding around our little quaint, and historic town, I started talking to her about how I longed to stay at home with Hunter, even if it was part-time, but how all the positions that I applied to at my company seemed to have the doors closed loudly and clearly.

I then went on to tell her that I, being the control freak that I am, was finding it difficult to release this into God's hands. I felt like God was directing me to pray that He would prompt my husband to make wise choices and decisions for our family's needs, and place the correct thoughts and ideas in his head for what was best for our situation... whether it be moving and scaling down to a smaller home, or having me continue working full time until another option becomes apparent to us. I asked Him to take care of us, and to give me the peace that I needed, and to help me move all the responsibility for our future into my husband's hands, without feeling the need to constantly be in the midst of all the decision making. Finally, I asked God to give me 100% peace, and to help me care for my family and focus only on what responsibilities I could or should handle ... caring for my husband, child, home, and my current job ... and to remove the stress of how we will "make things work" from my shoulders.

Instantly, I felt it. Peace. The kind that passes all understanding. I suddenly acquired a nonchallant "whatever" attitude ... not the 'bad' kind of "whatever attitude," but the "whatever your will is, Lord" attitude. And, I was reminded again of how our Father takes care of us... especially when we put His kingdom first. And, when I say that, I honestly feel that I am putting His kingdom first when I am going about, taking care of my responsibilities at home, raising a Godly son/children, caring for my husband, and being as involved as possible at church.

Matthew 6:25-34 tells us that if we only have faith, he will provide for us, and that we shouldn't worry about tomorrow, because there are enough worries in today. He clothes the lilies of the field. He feeds the birds in the air. And he loves us so much more than that!

Here is one thing I have learned ... a common emotion -- worry -- steals from us one of the most valuable things we posses ... "our todays" -- right now -- this very moment! It robs us of relationships with other people because our focus is somewhere else. It robs us of enjoyment making life unhappy. The enemy loves it when we succumb to worry because it distracts us from our family, our priorities, or Lord!

Trusting the future to God isn't easy, but it's the only way to remove worry from our life and find peace. No, we don't have an answer for the current desires of our heart (for me to be a SAHM), but you know what? I have peace. I trust my Father that he will guide my husband. And ... I can honestly say ... "Whatever, Lord! Whatever your will is, I will do it."

My toss-up to you is:

Have you been able to ask God to remove worry about something big out of your life, and have you been able to have a "whatever" attitude?

One last thing ... I had Chinese food for lunch today, and this is the "fortune" my cookie had in it... "Trust your intuition. The universe is guiding your life."

No. I don't think so! Praise God ... Jesus is guiding my life! And in HIM, and ONLY Him do I trust!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Happy Birthday, Hunter!

One wish. One hope. To have a child. Our lifetime dream came true last year on October 5, 2005, and our lives have never been the same. We have known happiness as a couple, but the happiness that our life was filled with after having a child is so much richer, so much deeper, and more fulfilling. It is truly a blessing from our loving and amazingly wonderful Father. And each time I look into my child’s face, my heart simply melts. He is so precious, and our amazement never ceases.

My son has taught me that the love a parent has for a child runs so deeply that the parent will move mountains for this child. Likewise, many times throughout my life, I have fallen in a spiritual sense, or I have been hurt deeply. And as many times as I have fallen or been hurt, my heavenly Father has been there to scoop me up, cuddle me, comfort me, love me, and whisper in my ear that it will be okay. I know I won't always be there for my son, but ... if my love for my son is so great, imagine the depth of the love my Heavenly Father has for him? And He will never leave him nor forsake him. He will be beside him even when I can't be.

As I teach my son to walk, I look down at him ... his tiny, pudgy hands in my adult sized hands, and I realize that he relies fully on me to be there for him. To hold him as he takes his first steps. To teach him how to coordinate his chubby legs with his awkward feet. But, I realize that one day, I will need to let go of those hands and let him become an independent young man. I will need to stand back and watch as he falls, and gets up on his own. But I know he won’t be alone, because his heavenly Father will be there for him, too. Holding his hand. Hugging him. Whispering words of comfort to his heart.

The greatest thing my son's birth has taught me is ... God still performs miracles. Today. Right now. Not just in the yesteryears of the Bible. Every day is a living, moving, ever-changing miracle for me. Each adorable, heart-capturing smile; each small crawl; each little hand clap; each hand wave; each splash in the tub; each tooth that pops through; each unsteady step taken with the confidence of a child that fears nothing. They are all miracles that God has given me to remind me of his grace and love for me.

I am so grateful that God chose me to be his mother, and not a day goes by that I don’t have an attitude of gratitude for him. Having been married for 14 years before our son arrived, we became accustomed to a fairly selfish lifestyle -- one that pleased us, and revolved around our own needs. Now, there is a helpless child that is a part of our lives. One that mesmerizes us, amazes us, and has captured our hearts. I have learned that I can no longer put myself first. I have learned a new meaning to being selfless, and have discovered the joy of just slowing down and enjoying my family.

Can someone please remind me of this if my son is still living in our home when he’s forty? Actually, we'll be 80, so that may not be a bad thing, huh?!

Son, we love you more than words can say, and one day, when you read this, know that your smile, the twinkle in your eyes, your little squeals of joy, your belly laughs, and the mere glimpse of joy on your face when you see us has made us ever so happy, with full hearts, and joy that knows no end. God has given you to us -- a miracle, indeed. We love you! Happy first birthday, son!

Mommy and Daddy

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Meme

Shalee from Shalee's Diner recently served up a tag me for this little Meme, Do You Get My Meaning?

She has dished out a very cute list of words to me, and I have to put down what they mean to me. My words and their meanings to me are:

Buttercup - Sorry to say, but the first thing that comes to mind is a big, lazy dairy cow. Oh, and the flowers we used to hold under our chins to see if we liked butter. I, personally, LOVE butter, so I'm pretty sure my chin always turned yellow.

Bookstore - A place where I could get lost in, and get into a whole lot of trouble by spending a whole lot of money!

Pasta - Goodness gracious -- my biggest weakness by far! Well, at least one of them!

Inspiration - My mother. She inspires me to be a woman of God, a prayer warrior, and a loving mother and wife by her very own daily example.

Now, I tag:
1) Carol at She Lives, because I promised her I'd tag her, well ... forever! Click Here to see Carol's answers.
2) Laurel Wreath, because she can't speak right now, so I thought I'd let her fingers do the talking! Click Here to see Laurel Wreath's answers.
3) AggieJenn at Showered With Grace because her son is soooooo adorable and sooooo close in age as mine (have you seen his first birthday party pictures? I could just eat him up!)
4) Lauren at Created for HIS Glory, because girlfriend cracks me up!

Your words are:
Ice Cream

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Holiday Cooking Blogger Style

(I really hope that this post will serve to lighten the mood of my previous post on the shootings in Lancaster, PA!)

My friend over at Overwhelmed With Joy (what beautiful photography and blog design, by the way!) is hosting the very special Holiday Cooking Blogger Style, and has asked us to participate. Yes, I know she asked us to post our recipes yesterday. Yes ... I'm late, as usual ... but, better to show up for the party late, then to miss the party all together, right? And, SERIOUSLY ... you MUST head on over there and check out all the yummy recipes!

This particular recipe is so yummy, and so easy. It is a Pampered Chef recipe that I got from a friend of mine that is a consultant, and I absolutely adore this recipe! I first made it with my 8 year old (at the time) niece two years ago. She was starting to learn how to cook, and she loved helping any chance she could. This recipe proved to be easy enough for her to do almost entirely alone (I helped with the oven), and they came out so nicely, that they looked almost professionally made! I was so proud of her! Now that she's 10, and has had more experience around the kitchen, I'm pretty sure she can master it all alone.

It has since become one of my favs, and every now and then, around fall time or Thanksgiving and Christmas season, if she's visiting me, she asks if we can throw some together! OF COURSE WE CAN, what, are you KIDDING ME???

They are a mouthful of pumpkin goodness!!! So ... print it out, and whip it up with your kids!

Spiced Pumpkin Tartlets
Adapted from: Pampered Chef

1 package refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts)
1 15-oz. can solid pack pumpkin
2 cups thawed, frozen whipped topping
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 package (3.4 ounces) cheesecake instant pudding and pie filling

Optional Toppings
thawed, frozen whipped topping
pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1 small orange (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Allow pie crusts to stand at room temperature 15 minutes. Roll 1 crust into a 12-inch circle. Using a large-mouthed glass or a fluted tart tin, cut out 12 pieces (9 from outer edge and 3 from center of pastry circle); press 1 into each cup of a muffin pan. Prick bottom of pastry with a fork. Bake 14-18 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes. Remove tart shells from pan to cooling rack and cool completely. Repeat with remaining crust to make a total of 24 tart shells.

2. Meanwhile, combine pumpkin, whipped topping and spice blend in a bowl; whisk until smooth. Add pudding mix; hand whisk (do not use electric beaters) until smooth and thickened. Refrigerate until ready to use.

3. Clip the corner of a ziploc baggy and place a star decorator tip into the corner of bag; fill bag with pumpkin mixture. Pipe into tart shells. Add a dollop of whipped topping on the top of the tarts. Sprinkle some pumpkin pie spice, chopped pecans, and orange zest over tarts.

Yield: 24 tartlets

Tip: Tart shells and filling can be prepared up to 1 day in advance. Store shells in resalable plastic food storage bag at room temperature. Store filling, covered, in the refrigerator; fill tart shells just before serving.


Violent Killings in Lancaster

Ninety minutes.

That's what separates my home, my family, and my son from a quiet, reserved, private community of people who's lives were torn apart yesterday as one lone man acted out his rage by taking hostage all the little girls (with the exception of a few) in a one-room school house, shooting them, and then killing himself.

The latest news reports that five girls have died, and six are still hospitalized, making this the nation's third deadly school shooting in less than a week! My heart is indeed stuck in my throat.

I can not even wrap my hands around this. I don't understand how someone can be so angry that they would walk into a school, and shoot innocent children. Innocent! I can't imagine how frightened those children must have been. I can't imagine what went through their minds as one by one, their friends were shot, and as the shooter worked down the line of girls, coming closer to them. I can't imagine what the parents are going through -- the ones that lost their precious children yesterday, the ones who have children recovering in hospitals, and the ones who are a part of their community. I can't believe that this was so close to my own home, and in a community that is so far removed from modern society! A community that does not condone violence, and that stresses humility, family and community, and separation from the world.

The Amish are well known for being very private people who believe in God, and they have held together despite pressure to change from our modern world. They are not perfect, but they are a strong example of a community that supports and cares for its members. They are "a people apart" from the world.

If you have ever visited an Amish community, you have seen how they work together. The adults instill strong ethics in the children, teaching them from a young age to honor God, be a blessing to God, and to work hard. I am blessed to be close enough to this community that I can visit any time I want. I love to watch them work out in the fields. I love to watch the children play with simple toys ... wooden hoops and sticks, wooden handcarved toys, and the beautiful little faceless dolls. When I step into an Amish market, it reminds me of a beautiful quilt, with all the bright blues, wines, white, black, purple, and green fabrics that make up their simple clothing. Yes, very simple, yet, very functional. I am completely fascinated by the Amish and how they manage to get so much done in one day, without all the trappings and conveniences of modern technology!

And, in just one morning, one person, an evil, sick person, has managed to rip apart a community, and a people of their trust in our world. Now, I can only wonder how this single event will affect their lives. Will they continue to send their children to one-room school houses? Or will they take this as a sign that their children should no longer be educated? Will they pull away from our world and completely isolate themselves, or will they continue to live and work among us, while maintaining their separation from us?

And finally ... finally, finally, finally ... the Bush administration has called for a school violence summit to be held next week with education and law enforcement officials to discuss possible federal action to help communities prevent violence and deal with its aftermath. Aftermath. There should never be "aftermath" in our children's schools. And ... it is a shame that it took yet another shooting to shake them into action. The news reported today that only 6% of our nation's schools have made any changes to their security and preparation since the Columbine tragedy! Appalling. While a sad thought that we have come to this, it is more than time that changes are made to secure the safety of this Nation's children!

The more violence I see occurring in our schools, the more hate I see being fostered in our children, the more liberal theology I see being implanted in our kids through their curriculum and teachers, the more my eyes are opened to the cruelty children are faced with ... my heart fractures a little bit more each day for what my son faces ahead of him. Schools with metal detectors. Schools with security detail. Will there be bars on the windows? Will the children have to carry electronic pass cards to move from room to room? Or even to get into the building? They can't even wear jackets or heavy sweaters in the classrooms or throughout the school for fear that they may be carrying a concealed weapon. The mere fact that an elementary child could be suspect of carrying a concealed weapon is heart breaking!

Little by little, my heart and mind reconcile to keeping my children at home and homeschooling them. I know I can't shelter them from everything, but this is one step towards keeping as far removed from the violence as possible, while instilling in them Godly values, principals and morals.

I don't have a Tuesday Toss-up for you today. Instead, my heart weaps for the community in Lancaster, PA that has suffered such tragic loss. A community, which is practically a stone's throw away. I pray for the families of this community, and for the children that were directly involved with the shooting, that the Lord will help them work through this appaling tragedy, and mend their minds and hearts to what they have seen and experienced.

Finally, I open up my comment section for you to share your own thoughts and emotions on this subject ...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Homemade Gift Idea Exchange

Did you know October is National Clergy Appreciation Month? Do you enjoy giving homemade gifts to your neighbors at Christmas time? Do you have a friend ho is tired, worn, and needs a little lift?

Each year, I enjoy giving some of my closer neighbors and some co-workers a homemade gift. I know that store-bought gifts are nice, but nothing says "I love you" or "you are important to me" more than a homemade gift?

The first year we moved into our neighborhood, I gave each family (only 5 that we're really close to) a homemade "Death by Chocolate" bundt cake on a glass plate I got at the dollar store. They got to keep the plate. Another year, I gave out miniature-sized bundt cakes on dollar store Christmas plates. One time, I gave out homemade Cheese Balls. Last year, I gave out a large box of hand made candies, spiced nuts and pretzels.

This year, I was starting to plan what I'm going to give out, when it occurred to me that many of you may enjoy to give out homemade gifts from time-to-time, whether it's for a neighbor, or a Pastor (or his wife!), one of your kids teachers, a good friend, or someone who has just had a baby.

It also occurred to me that many of you may not be "artsy-crafty" but still enjoy to give a good homemade gift that is affordable, creative, delicious. And, did I mention, inexpensive?

That sparked an idea ... In light of the fact that October is National Clergy Appreciation Month, and in light of the fact that Christmas is just around the corner, why don't we have a "Homemade Gift Idea Exchange?" I know there are tons of very creative women out there that have probably at one time or other given a homemade gift out, so I thought it would be fun to set up Mr. Linky (if I can figure that out), and each of you can post on your blog one, two ore even three (or more!) ideas for a homemade gift of some sort, along with the recipe and/or directions.

This way, we can all get new and wonderful ideas for those little gifts you want to give to teachers, Pastors, neighbors, friends, etc. And trust me when I say ... I have an ENTIRE slew of gift ideas to share with you!! Some of them even include scripture!

And the greatest thing is ... that most of the gifts, like "Gifts in a Jar" or "Gifts in a Basket" or "Cake on a Plate" don't require you to be artsy-crafty, creative, or Martha Stewart. And, many items can be purchased at the dollar store.

And, if you're anything like me, I like to prepare well ahead of time for Christmas. I get so busy during that time of year, and I like to know that all my little homemade gifts are done with plenty of breathing time to spare during the holiday rush. I will usually try to take some time during Thanksgiving weekend to bake and freeze, or pre-measure, etc.

So, I invite you all to put on your thinking caps, and share your favorite homemade gift ideas with us. Please spell out all the details so that even the most non-creative person will have no difficulty jumping in, rolling their sleeves up, and putting together a homemade gift.


When: Monday, October 23, 2006
Where: Post ideas on your blog, and come over to mine
to add your name and the link to your post to Mr. Linky
What: Any homemade gift idea you would
like to share (pictures would be nice, but not necessary!)

Spread the Word!

A Small Part of my Testimony

I don't really have one of those heart-stopping, tear-jerking testimonies to share with you. I did not have problems with alcohol or drugs. I didn't smoke. I wasn't a problem child (perish the thought!). No, it's not a dramatic testimony by far... Sorry!! But there are many things that happened before and after I became a Christian that I think are quite remarkable...

My father was an alcoholic for the first two years of my life. He was, in fact, stone drunk the night I was born ... waiting patiently for my arrival at the local pub. When he meandered back to the hospital to check on my mom, the nurse announced that he had a beautiful (of course!) little girl. He, being the proud, and drunk, papa that he was, firmly told the nurse that she was wrong. He did NOT have a daughter, but rather, a son. The nurse politely corrected him, and asked for a name for me, but ... he had to come to terms with the fact that I was not a boy, and fortunately, would NOT be named after my father, therefore becoming the V-th to carry the family name (whew! It's not a pretty name!).

He wasn't a "mean" drunk ... in fact, he could often be found with his headphones on, listening to classical music or opera, crying his eyes out. I guess that makes him a "melancholy drunk." And, again, the same scene played out when my sister was born two years later. Again, drunk dad, no son! But a few months later, my dad went to get out of bed, only to find that his liver and his body had started to shut down, and he couldn't move. He went to the hospital, got into a detox program, and voila ... sober.

Well, not "voila," because even though he was sober, he still had many "alcoholic tendencies," (like attitudes, anger, lack of responsibility) as well as many painful childhood issues to work through (like being a military brat that moved from country to country, having a mother that hated all the men in the family, and was herself a drunk, and being shipped off to boarding school where he spent many holidays alone).

So, at the tender age of 7-ish, my very Catholic parents got divorced. That was such a painful time in my life. Both my sister and I, being much too young to really understand, felt responsible for the divorce. But, a couple years after the divorce, my dad gave his heart to the Lord through an AA meeting. He began attending charismatic prayer meetings, and he became, as was the "in thing" back in the 70's, a "holy roller." He would witness to my mom, and they would end up in screaming matches. His forwardness about his faith, and his instance that she would surely go to hell if she didn't change her ways did nothing to impress her. My sister and I would cry, not being able to understand what was going on. Then, my dad met another woman and they began to date, and eventually got engaged. We were crushed. My sister and I really wanted our parents to get back together again, not re-marry other people! But my mother, who grew up a devout Catholic, and attended a strict Catholic school through College, would not move from her stand as a Catholic. My sister and I would go to Mass with my mother each week, we attended CCD, and I even had my first communion. Catholics, we were.

Then, one evening, my mother was watching a Billy Graham Crusade, and when he did the alter call, something in her clicked, and she knelt down and gave her life to the Lord. Praise God! She began attending the same prayer meetings my dad was going to, and as they began to mature spiritually, they felt impressed upon by the Lord that they should get remarried. And they did. Every little girl's dream come true! (ummm ... except for the jilted fiance!)

And, life truly changed for us. The power of the Holy Spirit is simply amazing, and when you allow him into your life, the changes are phenomenal. The Lord changed, molded, and matured my father. He brought tenderness and love back into the relationship. They became friends. And, my sister and I accepted the Lord into our hearts. My parents moved us to a Messianic-Jewish School for two years, for which I'm grateful for, because I learned so much about the Jewish faith, their holidays, and their traditions. It is a beautiful faith that was mixed in with Christianity, and the Messianic Jews believed that Jesus was their Savior.

When I went into high school, we were transferred to a Christian high school, where for the very first time in my life, I learned the true meaning of love without condition, and acceptance into the family of God. I became actively involved in leading worship during chapel time, as well as becoming involved with the youth leadership team in our youth group. I was an obedient, peaceful, joyful, although some-what passive-rebellious youth. I had started out as a shy, quiet, reserved youth, and I blossomed into the active, social butterfly I was always meant to be.

I married my high school sweetheart, and that's when difficulties first hit. We struggled to have a "peaceful" relationship. Yes, we loved each other deeply, but it was difficult becoming responsible adults at such a young age. I saw many of my father's "alcoholic tendencies" transferred down to me. I never drank, but boy, did I spend money! It was intoxicating. I would get a rush ... like a temporary high ... when I would spend money. And, it was the only way I knew to hurt my husband. He would use words to hurt me, and I would go and spend all our money. I became a destructive force in our relationship. Yes, I was still very involved in church, and of course, quite self-righteous, because I knew so much about the Bible, and I had been a Christian for so long ... And why wasn't my husband as mature and involved with the church and in ministry as I was? Surely, he needed to get right with God!

It wasn't until years later, many, many struggles later, and a good dose of reality that I realized that the only person that I needed to worry about "getting right with God" was me. I had fallen far away, while living under the illusion that I was close to him. I may have been saved, but I was far from the changed person I needed to be... Something truly had to change.

Both my husband and I (nor my friends and family) didn't realize that I was battling with clinical depression, and anxiety. But, the Lord opened the eyes of my dear OBGYN, who immediately recognized what was wrong with me, and placed me on anti-depressants. It felt like a veil was lifted from my eyes. I began to recognize what I was doing, and was shocked at my behavior. I had become a mean tyrant, and had pushed my husband far, far away from me. And, it was at this point, that my husband and I started to go to counseling, and we began to not only draw closer to each other, but we also drew closer to the Lord. We began to pray together and for each other. We also began to pray that God would change us, mold us, and make us new. And, he did! And let me just say, that there is nothing more rewarding than having a loving relationship with your spouse, and growing closer to the Lord together. Praise God for this precious gift he gave us!

I recognize that I still have many short comings. I am far from perfect. But, I know that I have a powerful savior that can and does change lives. He is my saving grace. He has changed me, molded me, and set me on my feet again. He has taught me charity, and has opened my eyes to a new life in Him. And, he can do the same for you.


Lauren at Created for HIS Glory has invited us to participate in a Bloggy Tour of Testimonies. I invite you to hop on over and check out the many blogs that have joined in this tour, and maybe you'd like to join in too? Just add your name and the link to your post to the Mr. Linky at the bottom of her post!

I pray, that the Lord may use this awesome Tour of Testimonies to bless each one of you in a special, and very deep and profound way!