Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Merry ... Christmas??? On October 31st?

Well, imagine my pleasant surprise this morning when I turned on our local Christian radio station and heard them playing Christmas music on Halloween! They chose to celebrate Christ's life, rather than focus on Halloween. Well done!

Our family does not celebrate Halloween. We don't dress in costume. We don't trick or treat. We don't watch scary movies or tell ghost stories. We try to teach our child about God's love and his saving grace. We have prayed over him every night of his little life. We have asked God to build a hedge of protection around him. Why, then, would we introduce the celebration of evil into his young life?

Admittedly, Christian parents around the world struggle with Halloween. In fact, opinions about Halloween vary greatly within my own church and family, let alone within the global Christian community.

Some parents believe that it's just another night where kids can have fun and dress up in costume and get free candy. Some parents will firmly deny that they are celebrating evil things, just having innocent fun. Still, other parents feel that they are opening their children's heart and mind to spiritual attack by participating in something that celebrates ghosts, witches, demons, sorcery, evil, and darkness.

Let's analyze this as Christian parents: Halloween celebrations do not have the appearance of a Christian celebration. It does not exhort things of faith, of love, or even of kindness. Families around the world decorate their homes with items that our faith warns us not to embrace: witches; goblins; ghosts; ugly, creepy things that evoke images of fear; caskets, gravestones and things that embrace death.

I think it's a fair statement to say that our children do not look at spiritual issues the way we do as adults. Their ability to reason, justify, separate, and compartmentalize is very different than ours, and it makes them vulnerable to accepting dark things like witchcraft, spells and potions, and things of the occult as okay.

Even things that parents look at as "innocent fun" like the Harry Potter book series can actually open your child's heart to accepting those things as truth, to believing that it's okay to cast spells and potions, and to have a desire to learn more about it. In my heart and mind, I firmly believe that it's not just innocent literature. It's a series of "handbooks" that open our children's minds to things we struggle to keep them away from. Yes, it may have fun adventure. Yes, it may be humorous and entertaining. Yes, you may sit on the edge of your seat reading them. Yes, it may teach between good and evil (or bad)... but is it okay to cast spells on people? Is it okay to make evil potions? Is it okay to introduce your child to witchcraft, sorcery, curses, and the use of occult methods to exercise their power? How do you separate what is okay and acceptable in the Christian faith from what we don't find okay and acceptable when you give your child a book to read that is obviously condoned by the parent?

Our children are bombarded enough at school and in their every day life with challenges that we never had. They are facing things that open them to evil and darkness on a daily basis... especially our teens. Many of them are fixated with death, suicide, occult practices, witchcraft, friends that are wiccans or shamans. Movies they watch, horror books they read, even the music they listen to can feed darkness and fear right into their hearts and minds.

As a parent, it is downright frightening what we can innocently open our child’s heart to. I feel the need to protect my son, and all of this just brings home the importance to surround my child, my family, with things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Phil 4:8).

I know many of you reading today will be shaking your head in agreement with my feelings towards Halloween... maybe you'll even feel thankful that there is a forum where you can express your feelings about it with someone that is "on your side," so to say.

But, there will also be many of you who disagree, and would say that it's just an innocent children's holiday and that I risk loosing readers for my strong stand against Halloween and my comparison of it to evil. Well, all I can say is, my child is my responsibility, and I need to raise him the best way I know how, but at the same time, I need to glorify God in all I do... including my blog. I hope that you see my sincere efforts in doing just that, and that I am not trying to criticize, tear down, or belittle anyone's personal beliefs. I hope you see that, and know that I'm not going to stop loving you if you don't see eye to eye with me!

I pray God's blessings on each of you today, and I will be praying extra hard that all of our children's minds and hearts are bathed in God's protection and light.

In the mean time ... Merry Christmas, y'all!

"Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world." 2 Peter 2:12 (NLT)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fall, Y'all! Bloggy Giveaway, #3

My final "Fall, Y'all! Bloggy Giveaway" is a Christmas bracelet. It is made of red, clear, and green hand blown glass beads with some accents of sterling silver, and red and green Swarovski crystals. (because of the delicate nature of glass, this bracelet must be worn gently and with care.)

It is so cute, and fun, and just plain sassy -- NOT your typical Christmas bracelet!

As with the other giveaways, you may only enter once (duplicate entries will automatically disqualify you), and you MUST make certain that your email address comes through. If your name is selected and I do not have a valid email address, you will be disqualified.

Don't forget to head on over to Shannon's Giveaways for MORE "Fall Y'all! Bloggy Giveaways" (she has the MASTER list of people participating)!

Updated to add: This giveaway is open to anyone. Comments will be closed around noon on Friday, and winners will be selected with a Random Number Generator. Thanks!

Alos added: I forgot to mention that these colors are HOT colors for Christmas this year -- lime green, red ... hot, hot, hot!

Fall, Y'all! Bloggy Giveaway, #2

My second "Fall, Y'all! Bloggy Giveaway" is a beautiful black Fall/Winter 100% genuine leather purse with a really long "cross body" strap (who couldn't use a new fall purse?). It reminds me of a "saddle bag" -- sort of -- just way cuter. It's a bag made by The Sak, and is adorable. Included with the purse will be a black and white makeup bag with a few little sample goodies in it, a prayer journal, a devotional, a pocket calendar, and a Honeysuckle body soap and lotion combo. A little bit of indulgence -- just for you!

As with the other giveaways, you may only enter once (duplicate entries will automatically disqualify you), and you MUST make certain that your email address comes through. If your name is selected and I do not have a valid email address, you will be disqualified.

Don't forget to head on over to Shannon's Giveaways for MORE "Fall Y'all! Bloggy Giveaways" (she has the MASTER list of people participating)!

Updated to add: This giveaway is open to anyone. Comments will be closed around noon on Friday, and winners will be selected with a Random Number Generator. Thanks!

Fall, Y'all! Bloggy Giveaway: #1

My first "Fall, Y'all! Bloggy Giveaway" is a beautiful bracelet that I'm so excited to share with you... it's called, "The Lord's Delight" bracelet. It is made with delicate foil-lined hand-pressed glass beads, and Swarovski crystals with a sterling silver clasp.

Recently, I created this bracelet for a friend of mine (Momrn2) for her birthday. I asked her if she would like to assign a scripture verse to it. She did, and here response was so touching that I wanted to share it with all of you with the hopes that who ever wins the same bracelet will also be touched by the scripture she assigned to it. Here’s what she said:

This verse has become one of my all time favorites! It returned a sense of value and self worth to my life during a very difficult time of healing, forgiveness and restoration. It returned a sense of victory and inner beauty when I felt so very defeated and ugly inside.

When I saw the bracelet, it was so very delicate, feminine and beautiful. I felt very special, valued and loved. It reminds me of the value and beauty God places on my life... so much above any other. To me it represents that He is living in me. That He is my Savior. That he makes me clean, pure and beautiful regardless of the filth that I bring to Him.

It reminds me I am a princess of the King. It brings back the thoughts of His presence and value that He chooses to place... on ME! He delights in me. I am loved above all else... so much so that He rejoices over ME!

And so this verse is the one I envision with this bracelet....

"For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)
As with the other giveaways, you may only enter once (duplicate entries will automatically disqualify you), and you MUST make certain that your email address comes through. If your name is selected and I do not have a valid email address, you will be disqualified.

Don't forget to head on over to Shannon's Giveaways for MORE "Fall Y'all! Bloggy Giveaways" (she has the MASTER list of people participating)!

Updated to add: This giveaway is open to anyone. Comments will be closed around noon on Friday, and winners will be selected with a Random Number Generator. Thanks!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Fall, Y'all! Bloggy Giveaway...

Land sakes alive, y'all ... Monday is THEEEEE day for giveaways!

This time, I think we're all prepared for the hundreds of entries we'll get! You, me, Shannon ... yes, siree... we're ready. It's a Giveaway Bonanza! Woohooo!

After all ... where can you go to register to win in one sitting for hundreds of free things? Why, to Shannon's Giveaways Blog, that's where!

If you want to win free stuff, go HERE on Monday morning to start registering your name all over blogland.

Or, you can just come here first to register your name for lots of fun giveaway stuff and then head on over to Shannon's! As my husband, family and friends can attest, I LOVE TO GIVE STUFF AWAY ... and Monday will NOT disappoint! I promise! (as my husband sits back and rolls his eyes, sighs heavily, shakes his head from left to right, left to right, and throws his hands up in the air abandoning all hopes of reining me in.)

Finally, if YOU want to participate in giving stuff away during the Bloggy Giveaway, head on over to Shannon's Fall Y'All! Bloggy Giveaway Guidelines so that you are prepared and good to go!

See you all on Monday!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It has come to my attention that there are some difficulties in "picking up" the Homemade with Love button -- and of course, now it all makes sense to me, because I put a code in my template so people couldn't "right-click" on any of my pictures.

DUH! My bad.

So if you need the code, either re-type the following code onto your blog, or just email me and I'll send it to you in a Word attachment. Sorry for all the confussion!

WFMW: Saving Money on Gas

Works for Me Wednesday is sponsored by Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer... make sure you check her out for more great ideas!

My tip today is a really simple one... but it works really well for my family. For us, it's a sure-fire way to save money on gas. We shop at a grocery store that gives you "fuel perks" at their gas station. The great thing is that they have been running a "double fuel-perks" incentive, and we have been getting $0.20 cents off per gallon for every $50 we spend in groceries since June!

Now, I don't know about your family, but my family needs to eat on a regular, and yes ... daily, basis. So, getting groceries at a market that is already cheaper than most, PLUS getting fuel-points ... well, that TOTALLY works for me. Especially since I drive a huge (and slightly unnecessary, although I wouldn't trade it in for the world) gas guzzler.

Here's an example of how much I have saved. On August 29th, I filled up our gas guzzler so that we could make the 7 or 8 hour drive to the beach. We had done quite a bit of shopping that month, and we saved some perks from the previous month. I had accumulated enough perks that I only paid ... are you ready for this??? $0.199 cents PER GALLON. That's 20 cents per gallon, folks! And I have pictures to prove it! In fact, my total 12 month savings on gas through August was $159.83 -- in 8 months. That TOTALLY, TOTALLY works for me. Now, on normal months, we can save about $0.60 cents off per gallon at least 2 times a month... but the savings add up, and every little cent counts!

So as you can see, it's worth your while to look for the stores that offer fuel perks, and shop only there! You just GOTTA love it!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

It's a Giveaway!

My dear, sweet friend Molly from Molly Coddled is hosting a special giveaway... she is giving away a copy of The Taste of Home Cookbook, and not just a cookbook... but a magazine subscription, on top of that!

Now, I was just in Costco yesterday, and I salivated as I walked by this very cookbook... but I held off just in case I win.

I can also personally attest to the fact that these recipes are yummy-licious. I have several of their special edition magazines that they sell and I love almost everything in them, so I just know that the entire cookbook is ... well ... it's a sure bet!

And in all fairness, I think you should know that Molly is drop-dead gorgeous, brilliant, thin, and she has good breath. Honest. She said so! And her family is simply adorable, too.

So, what are you waiting for? Go sign up for a free chance to win!

Monday, October 22, 2007

30 Days of Thanksgiving

The holidays are rapidly approaching, and as we begin the mad dash for gift buying, meal preparation, decorations, travel, and all the busy-ness that comes along with the holidays, I want to share with you a challenge that has me so excited... one that I toss back at YOU!

Beth at Life With Two Little Vikings is hosting 3o Days of Thanksgiving. Put plainly, it's thirty days that you make a concerted effort to share with 30 people how much they mean to you, and how thankful you are that they are a part of your life, in one way or another. As Beth put it, " encourages the pay-it-forward spirit..."

Beth suggests making a list of people for your list of thirty, and says: "Who around you do you appreciate? Who makes a tough day a little easier to get through? Who silently takes care of small (or big) tasks around you? Who makes you smile and thankful they are part of your life? Wouldn't it be nice if they knew how you felt?"

Once you have your list ready, beginning on October 24th, send out a note of appreciation, whether it is by email or by snail mail through November 22, Thanksgiving Day (and let me add, that there is NOTHING more powerful than the written word, and I honestly feel that snail mail notes and cards carry much more weight behind them than emails!).

Friends... this is also a hands-on way that you can teach your child the spirit of appreciation, gratefulness, and love... a colored picture, a scribbled note, there are so many things a child can do that can show their appreciation. I hope you consider including them in this 30 Days of Thankfulness!

Stop by Beth's blog and leave her a note that you'll be participating. Grab the button from her blog, then post about it on your blog, and if possible, do a follow-up post about the blessings that you shared, and in turn, received!

I hope you consider participating in this challenge, as I'm certain you WILL receive a blessing in return!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Free stuff and Homemade with Love

FREE STUFF announcement towards bottom of post.

Coming to you on November 12, 2007 ... my annual Homemade With Love -- Holiday Gift Exchange!

Mark you calendars, and plan on participating!

Here's what you need to do:

1) Flip through your memory banks and come up with your favorite homemade gift that someone would enjoy receiving at Christmas time. It can be a main Christmas gift, it can be a hostess' gift, it can be a gift for your neighbors.

2) Make one as a sample and take a good picture of it to post on your blog.

3) Type up your instructions in a post, along with the picture, that will be posted on November 12. Come back to my blog that morning and sign up on the Mr. Linky with the link to your post.

4) Don't forget to grab the button and start advertising on your blog! Please link them back to this post!


Each person that participates and signs up on the Mr. Linky will be eligible for a drawing of at least four (4) wonderful, "Homemade with Love" items that I will be showcasing ... possibly even more! I will take each name on the Mr. Linky with a valid Homemade with Love post, and I will enter them in a drawing -- one prize per winner -- winners will be drawn by a random generating number thingie. (Well -- that sure made more sense in my head!!!) I hope YOU win! And, you... over there. And you, too ... there ... in the corner. Don't YOU want to win?

Ideas for Homemade gifts:

Something you knit, crochet, embroider, or sew
Something you bake
Something you paint
Something you glue together
Items you pull together for a basket gift (homemade in "nature")
Something you grow (plant, flower, herb, etc.)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Walk for the Cure ...

Friends... I know I've mentioned before that one of my nieces was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes. My sister had given me permission to share some information with you for two reasons: 1) so that you can better understand the severity of Juvenile Diabetes and how it dramatically changes the life of a child and their family, and 2) to bring awareness to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's walk for a cure fund raiser.

My niece's name is Lexi, and below is a letter she has sent out to her family and friends asking for monetary donations to help raise funds for research for a cure. It is the only way her battle, as well as other children struggling with this monster, will ever end. A cure. And we are all so confident that Glory to God.

This letter brought tears to my eyes and put a lump right smack dab in my throat as I remembered the horrific day that she, my sister, brother-in-law, and Lexi's brother and sisters had when she was rushed to the hospital. She is a true and walking miracle and their faith in God is amazing. I challenge you to walk away from her letter with a dry eye! (I would have failed the challenge miserably).

If after you read this letter, you feel compelled to help in any way, please email me at and I'll give you all the details. Thanks for your patience, and please, read on ...

Dear Friends and Family,

I am writing to you to ask for your support to help find a cure for juvenile diabetes. My name is Lexi. I am 9 years old and am a 4th grader in a Christian School in North Carolina. When I was 5 years old, I was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. You don’t outgrow diabetes; the only way out is a cure!

When I was diagnosed with diabetes, my family had gone to the beach for spring break. I wasn't feeling well but we thought it was just a virus. I began vomiting and soon after, it was clear that things were getting bad. My parents took me to the doctor, which was 45 minutes away. By the time I got there, I could no longer walk. I was blue and could hardly breathe anymore. I had to be airlifted to the hospital and was placed in the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit). I was told that I was in DKA (Diabetic Keto Acidosis). When you have diabetes, your immune system attacks the pancreas and you are no longer able to make insulin. Insulin is the hormone that allows your body to convert the food you eat into energy. Without insulin, your blood sugar gets very high. These high blood sugars are what cause damage to your body. My blood sugar was so high that my blood had become so acidic that it was as a toxin to my body. I was falling into a diabetic coma and the doctor told my parents to prepare for my death.

I am here today because of a miracle. God heard the prayers of all the people on a prayer chain for me that began at 5:00 in the morning. By 7:00am I was sitting up and asking for breakfast. God had reached down and saved my life! The doctors were amazed and said that it was impossible, but we know that with God, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!

Over 20 million Americans have diabetes and many more have it but don’t know it yet. 3 million children live with juvenile diabetes and more than 13,000 children are newly diagnosed each year. Diabetes is the 6th leading cause of death in America. It has a 2-10 year asymptomatic progression but the long-term complications can be devastating. It can cause blindness, kidney failure, vascular disease and can reduce life expectancy by 15 years.

My life has changed since my diagnosis, but I know that within my lifetime there will be a cure. You can help find a cure for me and the 3 million other children like me who have diabetes. You can do something and actually make a difference. You can join me in my fight to find a cure. When I am cured, I will remember YOU, because you made a difference. My life will change again. It will be a change that I welcome! Here are just a few of the moments in my life that I will think of you:

  • When I can eat without getting an injection first.
  • When I don’t have to check my blood sugars 10-12 times a day.
  • When I can play/swim/run without worrying that I might go too low.
  • When I don’t have to get three shots at 11:00pm every night while I sleep.
  • When I don’t have to have my sleep disturbed every several hours to have my blood sugars checked.
  • When I don’t have to have 10 shots and 12 finger pricks every day.
  • When I can dance ballet on stage without leaving to raise my blood sugar because I feel like passing out.
  • When I can go to camp.
  • When I can spend the night at a friend’s house.
  • When I can leave the house without a bag full of supplies.
  • When I can have peace of mind.
JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) is sponsoring their annual Walk to Cure Diabetes in my town on October 27, and on various other days throughout the year. Every year, JDRF hosts 200 walks spanning the globe with over 750,000 walkers. Since 1970, JDRF has provided more than $1B to diabetes research worldwide with 85 % of every dollar going towards research. Last year, my chapter alone raised $1.2M. The Walk is more than just saving lives; it is tangible hope!

Here is how you can help change my life and the life of other children with Juvenile Diabetes:

1.) You can register for a Walk in your town at
2.) You can make a donation on my behalf with my full name (my aunt GiBee can tell you off line my contact information) on the internet by visiting
3.) You can send a tax-deductible contribution, made payable to JDRF or Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, to my Mom by October 25 (my aunt GiBee will provide you with my address off line).

Thank you for all your love and support and thank you for making a difference in MY life.

See you at the Walk,

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

There's A Party Going On...

Sandy at Reluctant Entertainer is hosting a One Year Celebration! She's been blogging for a whole year now, and she's going to give away a lovely personalized apron to all who leave her a comment...

Plus, she'll enter you twice if you blog about it!

So what are you waiting on? GO!

And congratulations on your one year blogging anniversary, Sandy!!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Worry NOT!

This weekend, I attended my church's ladies annual retreat... and it was wonderful. The location was gorgeous, quiet, and man-oh-man was it ever dark at night and in the wee hours of the morning.

We arrived early so we could set up, but when the Associate-Pastorman's wife showed up to set up the keyboard and microphone and begin to lead us in worship ... the keyboard wouldn't work. Well, it worked, but you could only hear sound coming out of the microphone (WEIRD) ... and we just didn't see 22 women crowding around one microphone to listen to the music, so she nixed the piano ... and let me tell you ... when we began worship A Capella, it felt as if the spirit descended upon us in a heavy, tangible way (and stayed with us throughout the weekend). It was amazing to hear the blend of voices singing songs to their Maker in a true spirit of worship sans any distractions!

Our speaker was amazing. She was a spit-ball of energy from Ohio, and sadly for the men... she left us with a burning desire to be RADICAL women for Jesus! RADICAL, I tell you ... not just radical. There's a difference!

She taught us how in Exodus, the Israelites were hungry. In fact, they weren't only hungry, but they were grumbling. Can you relate to that? But God was telling them not to worry because ... now, get this ... HE would take care of them. Novel idea, huh? But yet, when we are in the midst of our daily fires, and in the midst of all the things we can actually "worry" about, it sometimes escapes us that GOD CAN TAKE CARE OF US just as God took care of the Israelites!

"The Lord said to Moses, "I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, 'At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.' " That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, "It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat."
Exodus 16:11-15

Here's the most awesome part of the lesson... He comes down and meets us where we need him, and not only does he meet us where we need him, but he gives us our portion ... no matter what we need!

"This is what the Lord has commanded: 'Each one is to gather as much as he needs. Take an omer (a amount of measure that was about 2 quarts) for each person you have in your tent.' The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed."

Exodus 16:16-18

The interesting thing about this scripture is that not only did God provide quail in the evening, and mana in the morning, but when each person collected whatever they thought they needed, it measured to exactly one omer! Here's the example she used: A huge, muscular man could go out and gather a LOT of mana, and a frail, elderly woman could go out and gather very little mana ... but when they came back to measure it, each of their portions measured one omer, and it was exactly what they needed!

Isn't it awesome, that no matter what we need, no matter how much it is, or how little, God will meet our needs and give us our portion? He is so faithful to us, even when we mess up. No matter what I do, no matter how bad it is, He loves us so much. His love never runs out, it never dries up, in fact, it is new every morning!

Praise God for his faithfulness, his love, his caring hand, his provision, his portion. He is the lifter of our worries, the eraser of our fear, the provider to the needy, the remover of our doubt. He never goes away. He never fails us. Isn't it amazing?

God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left."
Lamentations 3:22-23 (The Message)

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV)

Lord, help us to depend on you for our needs, to release our worries to you, and to trust in the knowledge that you are ever faithful, ever present, and our constant provider. Help us to be satisfied and content with "enough" and not want or crave "more than we need," because the portions we crave here on earth are of things that spoil and rot, but your portion is perfect, and lasts for ever, and stays fresh every day. Thank you so much for loving us and being faithful to us, Lord, and for showing us mercy and compassion even when we are filthy and full of sin. Lord, I want more than a morsel that will "curb my appetite." I want you to fully satisfy me, and fill me to overflowing, so that I can in turn share your blessings with others. Thank you, Jesus, for your many, many blessings! Thank you! Amen.

Friday, October 12, 2007

There is an UNCANNY resemblance!

The other day, my husband stayed home with my son. They were going to pal around and head on up to Bass Pro Shops, but first, he was making Hunter some pannycakes for breakfast. While he was cooking, he had some country music videos on TV, and Sara Evans was singing.

Hunter went up to the screen and loudly proclaimed: "Mamma, mamma, mamma!"

Why, yes son... I feel (as I'm sure all my friends would agree) that I do resemble Sara Evans. Figure and ALL (including her baby feeders -- ehem!).

Dontcha think so too?

He's a smart child, I tell you.

And now, I'm signing off to head out for our annual Ladies Retreat. It's going to be a great weekend! Make sure you reach out and share God's love with someone this weekend!

See you on Monday.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Another Giveaway Event!!!

OH.MY.GOODNESS ... (and to all my church friends and family who had this conversation with me last night ... you may READ THAT WITH ALL THE INFLECTION YOU CAN POSSIBLY PUT INTO IT!) another bloggy giveaway! How exciting is that???

A chance to win something for free? Just for you? Or for a Christmas gift for a special someone on your list? How could you possibly resist?!?

Shannon from Rocks in my Dryer is hosting another free bloggy giveaway at her Bloggy Giveaways blog. Feel free to participate, it's really easy, and a lot of fun! Promise! She'll have a Mister Linky on her Bloggy Giveaways blog starting on October 29... Make sure to read up on all the guidelines if you want to host your own giveaway in conjunction with this one.

For those of you that just want to enter for something free, make sure to check out everyone that's participating over at Shannon's on October 29th, and enter to win by leaving a comment!

Until then, I'll be scrambling around to put together some fun fall giveaways!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

WFMW: OXO Swivel Peeler

Works for me Wednesday is sponsored by Rocks in my Dryer. Don't forget to check her site for more WFMW tips!!!

When it comes to kitchen gadgets, sometimes, putting out the extra money pays off in the long run. In my case, it payed off big when I purchased the OXO GoodGrips Swivel Peeler. The handle is very comfortable, but that's not why I love this product so much (even though it is ergonomically correct). I love the blade on this product. It is 2" long, and super, SUPER sharp. My peeler is pushing 8 years now, and it is still as sharp as the day I bought it. It peels potatoes, apples, carrots, cukes, and anything else your appetite wants to have peeled

I use it like a paring knife when peeling apples, and in my humble opinion, it works much, much better and faster, and now that apple season is upon us, I thought I'd share this six dollar tip with you! But, don't just take my word for it... Gourmet Magazine tested a whole slew of peelers, and this baby came in first place!

So, rush out and get one, and enjoy peeling ... stuff ... on a whole new level!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Peace like a Soft, Warm Blanket on a Cold, Cold Day

First, I just wanted to thank everyone for their beautiful comments on Hunter's birthday. You can't imagine the blessing they were to us!

Then, I wanted to share with you that something is ... "off." As in, not quite right. See if you can figure out what's "off" ... The day is beautiful, the sky is gorgeous, it's a brisk 91 degrees, the leaves are turning beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red, the wind is rustling "just so." It's almost a perfect day.

Have you figured out what's off?

Well, if you guessed that it's a gazillion degrees HOT outside, you're right. It's OCTOBER for crying out loud, and it's HOT HOT HOT all across the nation! All I have to say is ... Wednesday's cool-down can't get here fast enough! There's nothing worse than enjoying the fall foliage while sweating like a pig. Those are NOT fond fall memories, I tell you!

Moving on to more serious things... if I've learned anything over the past few months, it's been to place my child's health in God's hands. When a person has battled infertility for so long, has experienced so many highs and lows, and finally has the precious gift of life in their hands, you tend to run to the doctor with any hiccup, burp, cough, or sneeze. Why? Because in the back of your mind, you have the sense that the precious life you hold is so fragile that it can be taken from you at any moment. After all, we are not promised tomorrow, and we are not promised that everything will turn out perfectly.

Having said that, I can honestly say that it's not always easy to be calm and at peace with our child's health. My husband is much, MUCH better at it than me. Trust me, when our child develops a bump and/or a bruise, I've learned to restrain myself and not run to the doctor for an x-ray and a blood workup. After all, what child won't have bumps and bruises? And seriously... how stupid do I want to look?

So, when our child developed a bump and bruise under his belly button ... TWO MONTHS AGO, we didn't think anything of it. And when I took him for his two year check up today, I didn't think anything of it. I mentioned it, of course, but I was more concerned about how he was freaking out at every move the doctor made towards him (a result of all the blood work he's had over the past few weeks).

So when she began feeling it, and freaking my child out even more, I didn't worry. Because the look on her face gave nothing away. And when she said, "He needs to go see a pediatric surgeon about this" ... still, no worry. Peace. That's all I felt.

She said it could be a hernia, but she didn't feel a hole, which is typical of a hernia (where the intestines or anything else would push through and protrude). She said it was more probable that it was a small fatty tumor with blood vessels, but not cancerous because it wasn't hard -- it was soft. She named it a "bluish mass on abdomen" and referred me to a surgeon at Children's Hospital. Still -- no worries. Peace.

Why? Why wouldn't I be even the slightest bit stressed out about this news? Why am I more stressed out about the 90-degree weather we're experiencing than I am about my son's health? Well, it could have a WHOLE LOT to do with that chocolate covered donut I ate after I got the news... but I highly doubt it.

I'm convinced ... In fact, I know ... that it has everything to do with this scripture that has been revolving around my head over the past few days...

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

John 14:27 (NIV)

You see, we were not left with the kind of peace that the world gives. We were left with God's peace. Ultimate peace ... the kind of peace that is total, and fully encompassing ... the kind that is wrapped around our shoulders like a soft, warm blanket on a cold, cold day ... the kind that's given to us by the Holy Spirit ... ever so gently ... so that we won't be troubled or afraid. I really think the Holy Spirit placed this scripture in my head this past week, preparing me for what the doctor would say.

I know my husband is probably sitting back and chuckling as he reads this, because he knows me so well. Any little bump, bruise, cough, ache or pain that I get, I go running to the doctor (the Google doctor, that is) thinking I'm dying of some incurable disease, cancer, or insufferable sickness. I fret. I worry. In fact, I do it so well, that he never needs to worry. He knows I'll do enough for the both of us.

But today, when she told me what she thought was wrong with Hunter, I didn't really feel that despondent feeling of worry. Not a drop of anxiety. Not even that gut-wrenching-Lordwhatshappeningtomychild feeling ... it never reared its ugly face! And as the day wore on, as appointments were made, as explanations were given to my boss, as I emailed the news to my family, as I explained it to my friends ... never a moment of worry crossed my mind. Just a quiet sense of peace that no matter what the outcome is, God will be with us each step of the way.

God is such a big God. He is awesome, he is faithful, and he delivers! He delivers in a very big way. If you're facing worrisome results, troublesome illnesses, difficult jobs or even rocky marriages and family problems, let me pass on a little secret to you... you don't have to "do it alone..." God will "do it with you," and he will give you peace in the process.

"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."

Philippians 4:7 (The Message)

And that, my friends ... is all I have to say about that! ;-)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Happy Birthday, Sweet Boy!

Happy birthday, sweet Hunter! Today you turn two... it seems like just yesterday, we were holding a tiny bundle of you in our arms... and now, you are fearlessly jumping, climbing, and running! Time has truly flown by us!

The jumble of words that flows out of your mouth touches us to our core... even though we can't understand half of them... and the expressions that cross your precious face often make us burst out in laughter. You, my son, are truly dramatic! You are outgoing, fun, sweet, loving, and energetic.

Our lives are forever changed by the mark you have made, and every day is an adventure with you! Your boundless energy leaves us (your poor, tired, aging parents) exhausted many a day, but we wouldn't trade one single millisecond of it!

Your little lips forming a circle when you kiss us, your tiny hand gently patting our cheeks in affection, your big blue eyes crinkling in laughter when you smile, your sweet hugs, your squeals of joy, your bubbly laughter, and your fingers curling around one of ours when you lay your head on our shoulder at night are more rewarding than any parent could ever ask for.

Each night when we close the day in prayer, we thank Jesus because he has blessed us more than any person deserves to be blessed. He has given us you, and he has caused our hearts to overflow with love for you. He has given us a song of rejoicing, and he has made us so happy that we are your parents. Our prayers for you are that you may find an unquenchable, fiery love for the Lord, and that you may one day find the joy in being a Godly man, husband, and loving father.

We love you, son... and we're so proud of you, and you make us sooooo, so very happy! Continue to grow strong, continue to love, and continue to be happy in the careless and innocent way that only a child can be!

Happy birthday, Hunter!

Love, Mommy and Daddy

REVISED: Stop the presses, y'all!! My very own dad left me a real-live comment! I'm rendered practically speechless ... not totally speechless ... but practically speechless!

Holiday cooking ... Blogger Style

It's here! It's here! Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style! Hosted by Overwhelmed with Joy! And I am throwing down with THREE recipes! Yes, THREE... two side dishes, and one dessert. they are all great recipes for potlucks, to serve at home, or to take to a family dinner.

My first recipe is called Baked Cheese-Scalloped Corn Casserole. There are so many variations to this recipe, and all so good, but I love this particular recipe because it is so satisfying, and can easily make just about any meal elegant. It is not runny, but rather firm with a crisp topping. My sister-in-law (Sunshine) asks me to make this recipe frequently at family holiday celebrations. I have served it at almost every Thanksgiving and Christmas meal, and during the fall, I love to serve it with my delicious roasted chicken. This recipe is over 17 years old, so I know it's tried and true! (sorry no picture!)

Baked Cheese-Scalloped Corn Casserole

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 15x10” pan.

2 11-ounce cans of Extra-Sweet Corn Niblets (Green Giant brand)
1 14-ounce can Cream of Corn
1 small onion, chopped finely
1/2 green pepper, chopped finely
4 tablespoons butter
4-6 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard (do NOT use prepared mustard)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne red pepper
3/4 cup whole milk
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
Spray Butter (or butter flavored cooking spray)

In a large pan, cook onion and green pepper in 2 tablespoons of butter until onion is tender. Add remaining butter. Once remaining butter is melted, reduce heat to low, and add flour, salt, paprika, garlic powder, dry mustard, and red pepper. Stir constantly until mixture is bubbly and thick. If mixture gets too thick, add a little bit more butter. Gradually stir in milk. Increase to medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly for one minute. Again, if mixture gets too thick, you may want to add a bit more milk. Add egg and cheese, and combine well. Pour into a prepared casserole dish.

Top with a coating of bread crumbs. Spray the crumbs with butter.

Bake for 35-40 minutes. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

The next recipe is my Smashing Mashed Potato Casserole. It is simple, and is done mostly by eye and taste. My measurements for this recipe are approximate ... so my suggestion to you is... taste as you go. (again, sorry no picture!)

Smashing Mashed Potato Casserole

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a large casserole dish.

Boil enough potatoes for your family. Mash them with butter, warmed whole milk (or cream), salt and pepper, making them a rather thick and lumpy consistency (don’t mash the potatoes into glue!).

To the mashed potatoes, add 1 8-ounce container of sour cream (more or less, depending on the amount of mashed potatoes you make), 1 cup grated parmesan cheese, 2 teaspoons garlic powder. Mix gently until incorporated. If the potatoes are too thick, add a bit more sour cream or milk.

Pour them into the prepared casserole dish and sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese. Bake until the cheese on top is golden brown (usually about 30-35 minutes) and the potatoes are heated all the way through.

You can also add: Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, or chopped fresh chives.

And finally, I leave you with a dessert that I haven't seen in ages -- Chocolate Cherry Bars. The paper I have it written on is yellowed and dog-eared, and the blue ball-point ink I wrote it with is turning "greenish" -- it conjurs up all kinds of memories! My mom gave me this recipe right after I graduated from high school (22 years ago, for those of you who are curious), and I've made it in bars (my favorite), and bundt cakes (for holiday gifts). It's so easy to make, so delicious to eat, and you'll just shake your head at how simple and minimal the list of ingredients are. I'm sure it will bring an "Ahh-haa" moment and an "I haven't made this in ages" sentiment as you recognize this delicious recipe! The picture I have is from the internet -- I think I got it from Betty Crocker's website, but I visited so many places trying to find a picture, that I just can't remember which site I got it from... sorry!

Chocolate Cherry Bars

1 box of Devils Food Cake Mix
1 21-ounce Cherry Pie Filling
2 Eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon Almond Extract

1 Cup Sugar
5 Tablespoons Butter
1/3 Cup Milk
1 Cup (6-0z package) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 15x10” pan.

Bars: In a large bowl, combine first four ingredients, stirring gently by hand with a fork until well mixed. Pour into the prepared pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Frosting/Glaze: In a small sauce pan, combine the sugar, butter and milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat, and stir in chocolate chips until smooth. Pour over warm bars. Allow bars to cool before cutting. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Reminders, Credit, and Stuff...

Tomorrow is the big Holiday Cooking Blogger Style over at Overwhelmed with Joy ... please make sure to tune in.

I have a recipe to share ... one that I get asked to make again, and again each holiday... but alas, I as I feel so sick and weak that I am unable to even muster the strength to make one just for the picture. Which on any normal given day, I would. Just ask my husband... who sometimes stands in the kitchen scratching his head saying, "why are you taking a picture of that lemonade... never mind, I already know. It's for the blog -- yadi yadi da." to which I have to say ... "Nanny, nanny boo boo. You're just jealous because you DON'T HAVE YOUR OWN BLOG where you can post picture after picture of each and every single stinking fish you catch..." I'm very mature like that.

So, I have turned to Google ... or my right arm, as some would say (yeah, that would be my husband), to try to find a picture, and ... I'm not sure if I had previously mentioned this ... but I'm feeling ever so sick... head cold, AND intestinal viral issues. It's really been quite special. One should try it out just to experience the nauseating stuffed up blessing it can bring upon you. Or not.

Anyway ... I did NOT find a picture... but each time I clicked on a recipe, I can assure you that I DID feel nauseated, weak, and all faintly-like, and found myself repeating "ooohhhhhh" and "uuugggghhh" over and over again. Now, you can, if you must, go out to Google and try to find one, but I can assure you that even if you were to find a picture of it (and you'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out what recipe I'm talking about), it will not taste as good as my recipe. Pinky swear. And Overwhelmed posted one similar to mine ... but, NUH-UH. Not the same goodness as mine.

Anyway, I really did try ... and that's the message I'm trying to relay here. Because I care.

About you.

Even though I'm dying of some wretched viral thingie... or two.

On another note, it is my pure joy to announce to you that I will be hosting Homemade with Love -- a holiday gift idea exchange -- again this year. So, mark your calendars... for November 12, 2007!!

What does this mean? Well ... on November 12, I will post a handful of awesome ideas and pictures for homemade gifts that you can make for friends, family, church members, neighbors, pastors, etc. And, I invite you to do the same thing, on the same day, then come over to my post and add your name and html address to your post on the Mister Linky I will have up and running.

Last year, we had 25 people link up to Homemade With Love, and I encourage you to spread the word! It doesn't have to be crafty ... in fact, it can be baked, or a basket of store-bought stuff... just as long as the end product can be considered a homemade gift by your adoring loved ones!

Feel free to grab the button (or email me if you don't know how), just link back to my blog, please! Thanks!

Finally, I must ... must ... offer my undying love and gratitude to my wonderful husband... because when I mentioned here that "we" took our son back to have his blood taken again, I really meant, and should have said ... "HE" took our son back (all alone) to have his blood taken again, but the excitement of the whole NORMAL Praise Report got the better of me, and I miss-spoke, and frankly ... I need to give credit where credit is WAY due! Love ya, baby!

Now, I must go, so that I may die a dainty death ... in peace... between cool sheets ... with a wash cloth on my forehead and a bucket at my feet.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

WFMW Backwards Day: How to DISCIPLINE and remove TONER???

So, today is the great BACKWARDS Works for me Wednesday ... and I can't wait to go and see how many wonderful bloggers I can touch with my words of wisdom... [ehem] Don't worry... it won't just be me, you see... YOU can join in the fun, too! Hop on over to Rocks in my Dryer (the hostess with the mostess) and check out all the questions being asked by mommas like YOU and ME! Click on the one that makes you roll your eyes the mostest from vast levels of personal experience, and voila... you may offer your sound, sage advice! Awesome...

Anyway... I have TWO questions today in which I elicit your humble, and experienced opinions/advice -- (not your illicit advice, mind you!):

QUESTION #1: DISCIPLINE. So ... how do you effectively discipline your two year old AT CHURCH after he's done something really bad ... like knock another child down -- or smack his momma (becausehewassickandinaveryfoulmood) -- or hit a child -- or flat out disobey? When all eyes are watching to see that you do it right? When some believe in "spare the rod spoil the child" (yes to spankings) and others believe in "spare the rod or you'll break your child" (no to spankings), and your normal thinking step (the time out spot) is no where to be found? And, those are, of course, purely fictional examples, as my angelic child [cough, cough] would NEVER do any of those things!

QUESTION #2: How do you remove black laser jet toner from your cream Berber carpet? We've tried Folex, which is great on just about all other things (thanks Barb, for the head's up -- it's the best on pet stains -- my loving in-laws got us some!) ... but it only made the spot bleed from the size of a soda bottle cap to the size of a CD. Nuuh--hiiice. In fact, if you read the fine print, I'm pretty sure it said NOT to use it on toner stains. So, basically ... I'm afraid to try anything else unless you PINKY SWEAR that it will actually WORK. You see, I'm getting a little tired of hearing my two year old point at the spot and say, "PeePoo, PeePoo" to which we have to reply, "no, honey, it's not poo poo. It's toner. TONER." To which he says, "PeePoo, PeePoo." And the vicious circle goes on and on and on.

Oh, and by the way... in case you didn't catch the other post I put up today ... it's BOOMAMA'S BIRTHDAY ... go wish her a special day!

Because Y'all Know...

I'm TOTALLY subtle, if anything ...


Yes, indeed!

So, scoot on over to wish her a happy birthday, many returns, etc. and while you're there, you might want to check out her fabulous archives, as she is a talented, spirit filled, and most hilarious author, mother, wife, and friend!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Update, and Holiday Cooking Blogger Style

Praise God, praise God, praise God!!!

We took Hunter back on Friday to have his blood work redone, and his WBC Count (White Blood Cell Count, for those of you that are not proficient Dr. Googles...) is ....

... NORMAL!!! 10,800, to be specific!!! Wooooooo Hooooooo!!! Praise God for his healing hand.

This weekend, Hunter enjoyed himself so much! We rode Thomas the Tank, we walked around the festival, he got a temporary tattoo (which he wanted OFF OFF OFF right away!!!), and his eyes were as big as saucers. He was so excited! We bought him a plush Thomas the Tank blanket, and I had wanted to wash it first, but Hunter WANTED it NOW. Basically, it was a priceless weekend after all.

So ... now that Hunter is feeling better, my husband is over his surgery, and his head cold is diminishing ... Saturday evening, I started getting sick, too. And why not? Let's just all be sick and snotty and crabby together. A family that sniffles together, stays together. I'm very stuffy, head-coldy-achy-yucky feeling. And to top it all off, my dad was taken to the hospital with Atrial Fibrillation, and he'll be there for a few days. When it rains ... it really pours, doesn't it?

On a more cheerful note ... Overwhelmed With Joy is hosting her annual Holiday Cooking Blogger Style THIS FRIDAY!

Last year, she had 81 people sign up with their delicious recipes. It's very easy, and it's most delicious ... all you have to do is set aside your blogging plans on Friday to post your favorite Holiday recipe. She is looking for tried and true holiday recipes. They don't have to be your own creations, but you should give credit where credit is due. In her own words … “If you post a recipe from your aunt Martha Stewart, by all means, mention that!”

You can post any kind of recipe you want -- Appetizer, Beverage, Soup, Salad, Bread, Candy, Cookies, Dessert, Jam/Jelly, Main Dish, Sauce, Side Dish, Snack, etc. -- long or short, easy or complex.

She’ll post specific directions on Friday, but basically, you’ll post your recipe on your own blog, then you’ll refer everyone back to her blog and add your link to her Mr. Linky so that everyone can stop by and take a look at your recipe.

That's it! It's easy, and you'll get a TON of recipes in exchange! So plan on joining Overwhelmed's Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style!