The Son is always shining, regardless of the weather

Happy Anniversary!

Tonight we are having some friends spend the night (like 15 plus 8…23 total). We are so delighted they could stop over, that it does not really matter that it happens to be our anniversary. Everyday is a celebration! At least I am not in the hospital having heart surgery (That was our 13th anniversary!)

Dear Love,

Thanks for all you are…and for my 18 wonderful years as your bride.  You are a blessing to me! Happy Anniversary!

(Here’s my rough poem:)

You helped me laugh…

When my outlook was bleak.

You helped me stand…

When I was feeling weak.

You prayed for me…

When I could hardly speak.

You held me tight…

When tears ran down my cheek.

You wouldn’t tell…

When you knew I would peek.

You called me yours…

When some called me a geek!

You gave advice…

When guidance I would seek.

You fixed problems…

Like faucets that would leak.

You have been there…

Twenty-four hours, seven days a week!

Thank you my love…

You are truly unique!

The Christmas it Snowed on the Inside, and the Outside!

Posted under LOL, The Unexpected, Those Are The Breaks! - Dec 17th, 08 - 1 Comment

During one of our Christmas Play practices, some children mentioned the possibility of using styrofoam peanuts to make it look like snow. I quickly shot that idea down. Yes, I know it sounds like harmless fun, but I have a true story to tell.

It was Christmas Eve…2004

We (the older women-my mom and three sisters) went shopping on Christmas Eve. Apparently, we did this when we were younger, and mom wanted to get us each a new pair of pajamas like old times. Moms are sweet aren’t they? We had such fun! I felt like such a kid. You should have seen my delighted face as I found “footsie” pajamas in the ladies department. Now remember, I was that child who cried when she realized she was too big to wear footsie pajamas (they didn’t make them in my size anymore). So, it was a happy day. We each found our “dream” pajamas. My twin also got a pair so we could match. We all had some fun, and we were heading back home.

Meanwhile, back at home things were not as happy. The six menfolk were in charge of the eleven children. There was also a football game on. Need I say more? Disaster happened…no waiting involved. I think it was right after we had left, when a certain delivery was made. It was a huge box with a ham and a ton of pink styrofoam peanuts packed inside. Some of the younger children (some were mine) assured their grandfather that mom lets them play with styrofoam peanuts ALL the time (Clarification: I did let them play with a colored styrofoam that you build things with using a tiny bit of water. Too much water equals total disintegration. It was a fun art project). So, when they wanted to try packing themselves by jumping (one at a time) into the box of packing material, the young grandkids posed this seemingly harmless question: “Can we play with these peanuts? Mom lets us all the time.”

I think you might be laughing right now if you have any experience with the extreme mess capabilities of styrofoam. We laughed later…much later. When we walked in…the living room floor, hallway walls, all the furniture, our luggage, and our menfolk and kids were covered with styrofoam snow. I wish someone would have taken a picture. It was a sight. We smiled at first; however, tired sad faces did not smile back. They told us they had been cleaning for hours. Our smiles quickly faded. It was Christmas Eve, minus the Christmas cheer! We contributed to the clean up “working for peanuts”. It was so hard because of the static electricity. These little pieces were sticking to everything and would move when you tried to pick them up. Someone was vacuuming, and then we lost power. Two streets in my parents neighborhood lost power. It was Christmas Eve. We had a candlelight service, and we couldn’t cook the meal because we were out of power. To make matters worse, several of us were feeling ill. On Christmas Day, it snowed! We said we would never forget the Christmas that it snowed on the inside and outside!

Ever since that day, I have never looked at a piece of styrofoam in the same way. That next Christmas, we had an old bean bag that had a hole in it. For a gift/memento, my children and I had fun filling up the clear, glass ornaments with the bean bag filler (it looked and acted just like the styrofoam). Then, I wrote on the ornament “Snow”~ Christmas 2004”. That year we were all able to laugh!

So, last Tuesday, we were putting up ornaments on our tree and I found the “Snow” ornament. It was missing a hanger. When I went to put a ribbon through it, it slipped out of my lap, onto the floor, and CRASH…broken ornament! “Awww…of all the ornaments, did it have to be that one?” I grumbled. Our youngest didn’t help when he blew on the Styrofoam. So, I cleaned up my mess, and I had to laugh, too (you know, bc said that was his favorite part!) because it could have been worse!

“Use the FORK, Luke!”

Posted under LOL, My Kids Make Me Smile - Dec 17th, 08 - No Comments

When Benjamin was young, he took a long time to potty train. He was really into astronauts and space. So, when he found out that astronauts wore diapers in space—he told me he didn’t mind being in diapers because he was going to be an astronaut. I quickly told him that astronauts live on Earth too, and that I was quite certain that they were all potty-trained!

Nevertheless, it took awhile. We (as well as Grandma) bribed him with toys. We told him he could pick out a toy when he was potty-trained for a month. So, he went with us, and got a toy. When he went with Grandma, he got a big “Luke Skywalker” plane that made noise and said: “Use the force, Luke.”

He loved that cool plane, and had no idea what was meant by this recorded comment. I guess we weren’t into Star Wars, so that obviously wasn’t his frame of reference. He walked around saying: “Use the fork, loose” . After we told him the guy was named Luke, he would say: “Use the FORK, Luke!” We have really laughed about this comment.

Today, I was reminded of how tragic this really could be when I received an e-mail with a picture of a little boy who was running with a fork. It was awful. The fork made it through the poor little guy’s nose. Talk about force! He seemed to be doing well, and had three tiny scabs in the middle of his cute nose! I showed my boys the picture and said, “Now, this is why we don’t run with anything in our hands!” Sometimes a picture is very helpful when you have little ones who doubt that stuff like that ever happens.

The drama of a drama

Sunday, the children at our church (including our children) put on a Christmas play. Bc and I adapted it from the wonderful book: What God Wants For Christmas (go to What God Wants For Christmas.com) by Family Life Publishing (with their permission). We did not add or take away anything from their book, with the exception of simple stage directions. A sweet sister in the Lord gave us this interactive set of seven boxes with a coordinating poem/story last Christmas (our kids loved it). So, when we were asked to be in charge of the Christmas program—we prayed about it, and felt like this book would make a nice play. Family Life is all about sharing Jesus, and I am thankful they gave us this freedom. I am even more thankful for the true freedom that comes from receiving the gift of Jesus Christ. We did acknowledge Family Life before the play.

It was really a joy to work with the children and other adults. We appreciated all of their input and help! It was a simple play with a neat message, and a lot of fun.

Costumes were especially fun. My older three girls helped out tremendously with the sewing of the costumes. An added benefit was that my “craft closet” really got cleaned out. We tried to use what we had. The angel costumes were made from some used, white sheets. Then, the shepherds were easy—beige material I had found, and a worn-out, brown, fleece blanket for the drape and head covering. The children helped to make the staffs by putting packaging tape around two (plastic) candy cane, yard decorations. The little sheep was the most time-consuming outfit…but very adorable! Cotton balls and batting hot-glued to sweats and a white, zip-up, hooded jacket! (You would not have wanted to see my messy house!)

Two of the Wise Men wore old graduation gowns. (After all, doesn’t graduation speak somewhat of wisdom?) We ended up making the third gown for Bradley. We had tried a gold dress and a purple velvet dress (from the sisters) on Bradley. None of us enjoyed seeing baby brother wearing a dress (including the wearer). So, we made him a “more manly” gown. Then, of course, there were props…gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The boys gathered up all of our gold (fake, of course) that we had lying around, and we put it in a clear jar (plastic) for the baby King. But we needed a refresher on the definition of frankincense and myrrh. Basically, they were resins (dried tree sap) used for incense and burial (I love the symbolism here–think about how they tap a tree…there is a purposeful wound given). So we put candles, and cinnamon sticks inside two royal-looking containers to represent frankincense and myrrh. Our backdrop was a huge (8′ by 15′) plastic wall decoration that I bought at Party City. It had mountains and stars. We also added a “tree-topper” that resembled the star of Bethlehem.

Some cute slip-ups in the practice…

  • when the 3-year-old baby sheep jumped up on the horse-turned-donkey.
  • When the shepherds were sword-fighting with their staffs or staves (that plural form gets me every time!).
  • Then there was Wise Man, Bradley, who wasn’t sure he wanted to leave the gold that he had given to the “Baby Jesus”.

During the play…

  • Too cute…when the innkeeper gave an imaginary manger to Joseph (because the manger was misplaced). They did recover it.
  • Joseph asked me if he could wear his lightsaber under his costume (2 minutes before show) to help him not to be nervous. He reassured me that Joseph would have protected Mary from the Roman soldiers (what a guy!). I told him it was okay with me, as long as I didn’t see it, or hear it. So, thankfully he kept up his end of the bargain. I smiled when I thought of armed “Joseph”, and was thrilled he wasn’t forced to “use the force” in the program!

More reasons I smiled…

  • Our main speaker, Gabriel (M) did an exceptional job memorizing all his many lines. Everyone was amazed (mesmerized) at his memorizing ability. I think it really encourages all of us to memorize when we see that it can be done.
  • I also enjoyed hearing all the angelic-sounding “angels” sing: “What Child Is This?”
  • Nobody got hurt—always a reason to smile.
  • Benjamin later told me that he and Jonathan (both shepherds) sure did enjoy holding in their laughs!
  • Seeing the eyes of the children light up when they asked a question, or shared an idea, or tried on a costume.
  • Also, spending more time with the ones who were involved.

This program gave some children a positive “first experience” with the stage, and speaking or singing in front of a group of people.  Others were more at ease from previous experiences. Everyone who wanted a speaking part was given one.

The trickiest part was accommodating everyone’s schedules. More time would have been nice, but it all worked out. God is good! It was a learning experience for all, and after all…we love to learn!

On Sunday, it was an added blessing to have our sweet, extended families there. I was wearing a black velvet top with a skirt, and my aunt told me she loved my bracelet. I looked down, and I had unknowingly put a roll of masking tape around my wrist (from re-taping the backdrop). I don’t even notice when I do stuff like this (maybe there is a correlation here with sleep deprivation?). At least I had matching shoes on (I’ve made that mix-up before)!

Anyways, as Bc mentioned, the story of Christmas (God coming down to earth…to become a man: Jesus…who would save us from our sin) is the greatest love story, and not just a story, but a true story! It is worth telling and sharing. It was a blessing to my heart to be involved in this work, and our prayer was that God was glorified. He really did bring it all together! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Thanksgiving is not over…and Christmas came early!

This is a copy of an email I sent out yesterday. I don’t think I could ever forget such a day, and my heart is still gushing forth with thanksgiving. We have received kind and encouraging words replied from the email, and I really think the house could burn down, and I would still be smiling (I better check those old lights, though).

Seriously, I truly wish that Paige and I could just sit in Dr. P’s waiting room everyday, encouraging other kids with cancer (and their families) that we have a God who hears our prayers. It was both happy and sad going back to the doctor’s office the other day. Happy…because not all of our memories were sad. Sad…because many memories were incredibly sad. Not to mention, there was a new group of bald kiddos sitting in there, and worried, germaphobic (feveraphobic) moms looking for that light at the end of the tunnel. They were thrilled to hear that Paige only comes once a year now. They are there at least three days every week. We do remember and we try to look for opportunities to encourage and pray, because reality is that some survive and some don’t. We choose to hope to the end! Here’s that email:

~Note~ “Today” refers to (12-03-08)…I meant to send this
earlier. :-)

Hello everyone,
Today, I went for my yearly scans (chest x-ray, bone scan, and MRI), and check-up with Dr. P. Well, praise the LORD…everything is normal! Also, Dr. P said that I won’t need to have my yearly scans anymore (just blood work once a year)! Thanks for praying. It’s been a great day!
Love,
Paige

It really has been a great day. Paige and I have cried happy tears of celebration. Last night, we were praying and talking about asking Dr. P to let us lower the frequency of her scans…somehow (once every two or three years?)…in order to limit risks from excessive radiation. Today, when Dr. P walked into the room, the first thing he said was: “No more scans again.” Paige and I scanned each other, and then Dr. P (in disbelief).

“Ever?” I asked. As he was nodding his head: “Yes”, Paige and I jumped up and we all had a group hug—and thanked the Lord! What an answer to prayer! That is evidently the protocol after 5 years of clear scans…after finishing chemotherapy. In our “daze” of cancer days, we never really expected to hear those words. We assumed scans for life. Wow!

God is so good—even if I were tearfully writing to tell you different results from her scans today. Also, please know that we do realize there are no guarantees for any of us in this world. Our securities rest in the marvelous Creator of this world, and the Maker of us, and most importantly…the Taker of our sin…through our Father’s Holy Son…Jesus!  Be encouraged. He hears our prayers. Please thank the Lord Jesus for His grace and mercy! Thank you all for your faithful prayers. Please continue to pray for families who have lost a loved
one…particularly at this time of year. Also, let us continue praying
for God to be glorified in each of our lives; and let us know how we can
pray for you specifically.

Psalm 42:11  Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Big Families

On Friday night (at Costco), we met a family with 14 children. I told them we were a small “large family” when compared to them. I love being in a big family, and having a big family too. Over the years I have endured many comments from complete strangers. Here are some of them and my reactions:

1.) Man (upon seeing us at Sears): “What kind of vehicle do y’all drive?”

Me: “A Suburban.”

Man: “Two of them?”

2.) About a year ago, I was at the grocery store on a Friday night. I had all the children, and two baskets     of food.

Man: “Boy howdy, is it ‘slumber party night’ at your house?”

Me: “Actually, every night is ‘slumber party night’!”

3.) “You certainly have your hands full!” Check out my post where my hands were literally full.

Me: “And my heart too.”

( At the time, this was especially comical to me because I had three—or half—of my children with me.)

4.) “Are ALL of those YOURS?”

Sometimes, I am tempted to jokingly tell them that I just decided to pick up some of the kids in the neighborhood to help me shop, but I usually smile, nod, and say, “yes”.

Once someone asked me that question as we were leaving Chic-fil-A. I turned around and said, “yes..all of…wait those two on the end…are not mine (and they really weren’t). I asked these two small children why they were following us and they said that it looked like we were having fun and they thought we were a day care and wanted to follow us. Scary, huh?

5.) “I bet life is never boring at your house”

6.) “You look good…for having six children

Me: “Uh…thanks” (I never know how to take that one. Is it a compliment or not? What exactly should I   look like?)

7.) “You have got to be crazy?”

Me: “Yes, I am crazy…about my kids!”

8.)”Don’t you guys watch t.v.?”

My younger children generally would confirm their question by asking, “Momma, what’s a t.v.?” Their frame of reference was watching a video or DVD.

9.) Probably the dumbest of all is the question:

“Do you know what causes it?”

Are they trying to be funny, or do they really think I am that ignorant.

10.) Doctor: “Don’t you know how costly children are?”

Me: “Yes, my children are treasures!”

11.) “Wow, your kids are so well-behaved!”

Me: “Anything bad you see is from us, anything good you see is from the LORD.”

12.) At a restaurant:

Woman from the table next to us: “I’ve been watching these kids. They talk so sweetly to one another. Are they brothers and sisters, or friends?”

Me: “Both!”

13.) Then there is always:

“You got your own baseball team (minus one), or basketball team (with one sub)”. I guess we would need a family of four to make a soccer team.

14.) I do also hear the kind comment, “You are blessed”; and, I have to agree with them too. I consider each child a blessing from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Have you heard similar questions? Do you have anything to share? I’d love to hear your comments.

The Case of the missing case

Posted under Admit One, Love To Learn, The Unexpected - Nov 21st, 08 - No Comments

For the past week, we have all been looking for the case to a library DVD that teaches you how to sign. We have had NO success. I even rechecked it to give us more time. Well, I was wondering if I should take this loss as a sign—no more library DVDs! I was just sure that case was going to cost me more…more embarrassment and more money.

I guess I should remind you that I mentioned I would post the next time I had to pay a library fine (that is the only reason I am posting this). Well, I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised to be charged only one dollar for the case. We had looked everywhere (except the trash). The time we spent…for one dollar! I usually try to be frugal, but now I’m not sure if I will worry so much about it next time. Maybe there won’t be a next time; however, I just said that ten days ago about library fines. Oh well…love to live and learn!

Ah…aren’t babies precious?

Posted under How God Provides, Poetry - Nov 20th, 08 - 1 Comment

No, we are not expecting…just reminiscing. Almost two days ago, some dear friends of ours welcomed their third child into the world. He sure is a cutie! Bc and I both enjoyed holding this precious little boy! I was reminded of a line in the song: “Because He Lives” by Bill Gaither (copyright 1971).

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He lives.


Chorus:
Because He lives,
I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives,
All fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living…
Just because He lives.

If you click on the link below, you will hear the Gaither Band sing this beautiful song on you tube. Again, I would hope to caution you about possible inappropriate pop-ups.

\”The Gaithers on YouTube\”

Chicken Tortilla Soup-my most requested recipe

Posted under Love To Learn, We Like Food! - Nov 17th, 08 - 1 Comment

Last week, I was asked to make some tortilla soup for my husband’s co-workers. I did this last year, and they all really appreciated it. I enjoy cooking, and I really enjoy when other people enjoy my cooking. So, I made some for them, and then I made some for the fellowship luncheon that we had at church yesterday. Everyone liked it, and asked for the recipe; so, I thought I would include it as a blog entry.

A personal note…when handling jalapeño or serrano peppers, wear gloves—unless you don’t mind if your hands feel like they are on fire for two days!

Chicken Tortilla Soup (serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts (boneless and skinless)

1/2 cup of butter or margarine

6 green onions, chopped

6 stalks of celery, sliced or chopped

6 carrots, sliced or chopped

2 fresh jalapeño or 2 serrano peppers, seeded and chopped (sometimes I do one of each)

Plastic gloves (I mention these again so you will be sure to “have them on hand”, so you won’t have them (hot peppers) on hand!

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp. Chili powder (more if you like it hotter)

1 tsp. Cumin

1 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Pepper

1/2 cup of flour

1-14oz. can of stewed tomatoes

1– 17 oz. can of whole kernel corn, drained

1-10 oz. can of Rotel tomatoes (diced tomatoes with green chilies)

2 or 3 -14 oz. cans of chicken broth

If desired, I serve the soup with tortilla chips, 1-2 cups of grated Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, diced avocados, and cilantro (cut up)

First things first…

Place chicken in a large pot and cover with 7 cups of water. Boil 30 minutes. Remove chicken and let cool. If in a hurry, stick the chicken in the freezer for 3-5 minutes. When the chicken is cool, you can shred it. Reserve broth on low simmer. (If you don’t have two big pots, put the broth in a crock pot on high.) Melt butter in a large saucepan or skillet on low (if you preheat the pan, that helps against “hot spots”). Then sauté (after butter is melted—crank up the heat) and add green onions, celery, carrots, hot peppers, garlic, and shredded chicken…stirring constantly for five minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, flour, salt, and pepper, and stir well. Quickly pour all into boiling broth and stir until boiling again. Add stewed tomatoes, corn, Rotel and chicken broth to the big pot. Reduce heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Enjoy!

The longest part involves the chopping of the ingredients. I use a Pampered Chef food chopper. If you have helpers, have someone shred the chicken, someone open up the cans, and someone peel and wash the veggies. Again, my biggest warning is about the peppers. If you get them on your hands, try to deal with as quickly as possible. Put your hands in cold milk and rub some dishwashing liquid on there. Someone else mentioned using lemon and baking soda. Whatever you do, DON”T touch your eyes! Then you will be certain not to forget to buy and wear gloves the next time! I speak from experience…painful life lessons! This is my mom’s tortilla soup recipe. It’s not a secret; she likes to share. Thanks mom! Now, bring on the cold weather. BTW, this freezes well, too.

I’m Late…I’m Late…I thought I knew the due date!

Posted under Admit One, The Unexpected - Nov 10th, 08 - 2 Comments

I’m usually right on time with things like doctor and dental appointments. This is most likely due to the fact that some of them will charge me if I am late, and/or even cancel my appointment. But generally, I’m usually “running late” (and I am literally running) everywhere else. Sometimes, we even run a little late to church. Yeah…I’ll never forget the time we walked in late and everyone was singing the hymn “Be In Time”. That hurt!

Many times, I was even late in delivering some of my children. I went past their due date. The other day I went past our library due date. I thought I was pretty good at avoiding unnecessary charges, but I was wrong. Something that I really struggle with is turning our library books/videos/DVDs in on time. Okay, so I am publicly admitting my tardiness on rechecking these items. I have had to pay small fines over the years, but recently I might have set the world record on highest library fine paid. This is really sad because I thought I had rechecked them online (We are serious readers…like 70 books per week). Then, I found out (7 days later) that they were late. Ouch! So, I went to the library and “re-checked” the late items. When I say I “rechecked”, it means that I paid two huge library fines with two checks! No, I think it was just one check and some cash. That really hurt. Whenever you have to pay for something that could have been avoided…it’s always painful. However, maybe it will teach me a lesson. Here are my receipts:

In my quest to be frugal, this is simply unacceptable. By admitting this “not-so-fine” fault of mine, I plan to post a “fine” blog the next time I get a library fine. I really hope those last two were the final ones. I think I need some verbal harassment accountability or something, and maybe this self-imposed humiliation will create that for me (because a $34.45 library fine is not really fine with me!).