Tuesday, December 2, 2008

25 Days of Christmas Devotionals-Day 2

This evening we did our second devotional for our 25 Days of Christmas countdown.

I started off with the word "Christmas", and explained to the kids that we are sort of spelling it out-last night we started with 'Christ' and learned about how our families, lives and hearts need to be centered on Christ, and tonight we were going to learn about the "M", which (for us this year) stands for "Making Memories". This got Gwen (7), and Jenna (6) competing over who could spell Christmas out loud correctly with no help. I drew a bunch of hangman type blanks on a page and they called out letters until it was spelled out-and it dawned on me that they hadn't seen it in print yet when Gwen exclaimed-"It starts with Christ!" (Duh I should have thought about SHOWING them the spelling last night. But oh well.)

I took each of the letters from Christmas and wrote them down the side of a page and informed the kids that we were going to make a family acrostic poem out of the word. (I had to explain to the little ones what it was and was pretty surprised because I thought they already knew.) My kids came up with this:

Christ, caring
Reverence, repentance
Ice cream(?), imagination, icing
Savior, star
Mass (of sheep), Mary, mistletoe
Abundance, ask (for forgiveness and everything under the sun)

Yeah, the odder ones were usually Jenna's. She's a silly little thing sometimes.

I read the kids Psalm 78:1-4:
"1 O my people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter hidden things, things from of old-
3 what we have heard and known,
what our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
his power, and the wonders he has done."

I told the kids that I am telling them about 'the praiseworthy deeds of His love', and that someday when they are parents, they will be responsible for telling THEIR kids about His love, and explained to them that this is what it means when it says we ill 'utter things from old, what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us.' I told them that we can make nice family memories while we learn about Jesus and God as a family.

*Then I asked each child to tell me about one thing they like to do with our family that is a fun memory. (i.e. Gwen said she loves baking cookies with me during the holidays.)

I went on to the gospel, and read about 20 verses from where we left off last night. Tonight's lesson was "Zechariah Doubts God".

I read them Luke 1:5-25:
"5In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.
6Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly.
7But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.
8Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
10And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.

11Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.
12When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.
13But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.
14He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth,
15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.
16Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God.
17And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

18Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."

19The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.
20And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."

21Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple.
22When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

23When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25"The Lord has done this for me," she said. "In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people."

I read this to them from my Bible, and then told them the story in simpler terms so they could better understand it. I explained to them that Zechariah didn't believe the messenger from God so he was struck dumb and couldn't speak. I asked them: should they believe God or not believe God? (Of course, as little kids, they were shocked that someone wouldn't believe God and answered with a resounding "We should believe Him!") I told them about Zechariah's doubtful, unbelieving reaction, and Elizabeth's joyous, thankful reaction and asked how their reactions differed. I asked them if they knew who the baby was that would be born named John (Jenna "John the bap-thist!") and who did he baptize? (resounding chorus: "Jesus!")

I told the kids that we were going to play a game! This game was kind of like Simon Says, but it was called "Zechariah, God Says"-Zechariah didn't listen to God, and everyone should listen to God, so we were going to practice listening by playing this game. I let my 12 year old be the caller, and anyone who did something when "God didn't say" would get one strike-3 strikes and you're out! We went into my living room and moved the coffee table out of the way and played our game for probably about 20 minutes or so-the kids had a BLAST! (my favorite was "God says to go hug and kiss your mommy!!!" After which I was attacked by all the giggling kids and hugged and kissed until I thought I was going to fall over on my living room carpet and be mauled lol.) Christian made it really fun for us (I played with them.) The last commandment was "Zechariah, God says go to the dining room so we can end our session in prayer before bedtime." We all headed into the dining room, got into a circle and held hands, and I had Christian pray for us (each child will get a turn on various days). He told God thank you for our devotional and that we had a lot of fun doing it, and he asked that we would be equally blessed the next night when we do our next devotional. He thanked Him for all of the wonderful things we have, and asked him to watch over those less forunate than us. I sent the girls upstairs to brush their teeth and get ready for bed.

I'm so happy with tonight's devotional! The kids had a lot of fun and I think they really learned. I hope that He will send me ideas to keep it fun for my family so they don't get bored.

Monday, December 1, 2008

25 Days of Christmas Devotionals-Day 1

This evening, after dinner, I started something new with my kids (ages 12, 7, 6, and 4.) it's a 25 day Bible study, kind of a devotional for the 25 day countdown to Christmas. I started by teaching them about establishing Christ as the center of our holiday season, of our family, and of our hearts.

I read them Epehsians 2:19-22:
"19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household,
20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit."

I told them that before Jesus came, people called the Israelites worshipped God, but most nonIsraelites did not (Ok I know Ruth did but she was a rare exception.) I told them that the nonIsraelites were called Gentiles. I let them know that after Jesus came, everyone was welcome to worship the God of the Israelites. I told them that we need to be a dwelling for God, he needs to be in our hearts, and a focus for our family, and we need to tell othrs about His love. Then I asked them how we could plant God in our hearts. I told them that some of the ways we do this are to read our Bible and to pray, and to love other people.

Then I moved on to a couple of prophecies about Jesus. I explained that over 400 years before Jesus came, the Bible told us He would be coming. I read them Isaiah 7:14:
"Therefore the Lord himself will give you (plural) a sign. The virgin will be
with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel
." I let them know that Immanuel means "God with us." (I love teaching them about various names used in the Bible to describe Jesus and God, and hope to do a name study with them eventually.) I told them that God sending this baby was his way of showing us his love.

I read them Isaiah 9:6(NIV):
"For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

I asked them if they knew who that child was, and asked if any of them could remember any of the names used to describe Jesus.

I went on to the New Testament and read them Luke 1:1-4:
"1Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled mong us,
2just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.
3Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,
4so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught."

and John 1:1-7
"1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2He was with God in the beginning.
3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
4In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it."
6There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John.
7He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe."

I explained to them that John and Luke were writing these passages to proclaim that the Gospel is the Truth, and that back then a lot of people didn't believe that Jesus was God. I told them that sometimes it's hard to believe things if you haven't seen them with your own two eyes, and Jesus' disciples, who did see these things, were eager to spread the good news about God and Jesus. I told them a little bit about John the Baptist, and that he baptized a lot of people, including Jesus himself. I aso told them that John 1:5 is one of my favorite verses, and that no matter how dark our lives may seem, the darkness cannot overcome the light unless we let it.

Then I asked them:
*Why were Luke and John so excited to spread the news of God?
(Jenna(6), and Gwen(7) excitedly exclaim "Because they love Jesus and want other people to know about Him!") Great job girls!

We discussed that people back then thought the story of Jesus was not true, so the people writing the Bible felt the need to proclaim it as truth. Then we discussed truth and dishonesty:
*Is it important to tell the truth?
*How do people feel when lies are told?
*Do you think the stories about Jesus were true? (I only asked this because they are little and sometimes I think they think this stuff is fairy tales instead of real stuff.)

We ended our talk with how we could center our holiday season around Jesus and caring for others rather than being greedy and wanting everything for ourselves.

It was a little wild (the kids aren't used to doing devotional type stuff with me yet) but i'm hoping as they get used to it, it might be a little lesss rowdy. All in all I was really pleased with our family's learning experience tonight.

Monday, November 24, 2008

27 Days of Thanksgiving

Day 23: (I know, i'm way behind, but I have catch up drafts i'm working on...) Today I am thankful for my friend Amanda, and friends in general. Yesterday (Friday) was really hectic-among other things, Jenna came down with strep throat and Christian sprained his ankle. I called Amanda and was just telling her all the bad stuff that happened. All of a sudden she says "What are you doing tonight Cari?" "Nothing," I reply. "Why, what are you doing?"

Amanda, sweetness that she is, says "I don't have anything planned tonight, but i'd LOVE to cook you dinner and bring it over!" She actually manages to offer to cook my large family dinner in a wonderfully enthusiastic way. I try to tell her no, it's ok, she shouldn't do that, but she insists, saying "Ok, is 7p.m. good for you? Alright, i'll be there at 7 with dinner."

So, that is how I got to spend all day Saturday just focusing on household things, and not worring about what I would make for dinner and dinner clean up. This was a huge weight off me after the hectic day we had the day before, and I used it to get a lot of stuff done.

Amanda arrived around 7:30, with a large skillet in hand, a ziplock bag with freshly toasted bread, and a package of chocolate covered shortbread cookies. I had offered to rent a movie, and she said she hadn't seen "Little Women" yet, so that's what I got. Amanda whips off the lid of her skillet and says "I know you're gonna LOVE this, because you always LOVE breakfast for dinner! It's a sweet potato scramble!" It had sweet potatoes, cubed wih regular potatoes, fried up with some red bell pepper and a bit of spice, and scrambled eggs. She also brought us freshly toasted wheat bread. Now, i'm not a huge fan of sweet potatoes-I had a pretty bad experience with them when I was a kid and haven't eaten them since-but when somebody brings your whole family free dinner you don't balk at technicalities. I took a large plateful, with toast, and dug in-and it was SUPERB! I'm serious-it was SO good! It made me rethink the whole sweet potato issue-I may try making them for my family now.

We all had dinner, and then we had ice cream and shortbread cookies, and we all hung out in the living room and watched Little Women. The girls made a bed on the living room floor and snuggled up with each other to watch the movie. Partway through, Christian offered to take Autumn upstairs and sit with her in my bed while she fell asleep (it was his great way of getting out of watching the "girlie movie".) He put her to sleep fairly quickly and came back down and actually watched the rest of it with us.

It was SUCH a nice, relaxing night. Just hanging out with loved ones watching a nice movie. I am so grateful for friends like Amanda, who really help me not to feel so overwhelmed sometimes when life can be too much. I say, there is "blood" family, and Church family, and sometimes the church family can be just as good to us (or better in some cases) as our own relatives. I am so thankful for the support and love of close friends, and church family.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

On Proper Church Attire

I'm sorry Autumn, you cannot wear that to church honey. After church you are welcome to put it back on to play in though. :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

27 Days of Thanksgiving

Day 9: Today I am thankful for the Good News Club at my childrens' school, and the awesome people who give of their time to make it happen. The Good News Club at Gwen and Jenna's school is run by Jason, a youth minister who works at Calvary Chapel Upland. Jason not only does youth ministry for Calvary, but he also does Good News Club every Monday at the local elementary school (which happens to be the school he went to as a child, and he had Gwennie's teacher, Mrs. Elwood! How funny is that?) He ALSO does a Bible study every other Friday at the local Jr. High-Christian attends the Jr. high Bible studies after school every other week and he really enjoys them.

Our elementary school has the largest Good News Club in Califrnia. There are quite a few kids that attend, in various age groups from Kindergarten to 6th grade. I have to say this must be quite difficult for Jason having so many kids from different age groups but he handles it with grace. Jason's mom, Dora, comes into the class to help him with the kids. Tiny, Christian and I have been trying to show up and help every Monday since we learned that Jason has such a large class. At the last class we went to, Jason said that the people who run the Good News Club may be sending him some help with his class-I think this will be a huge blessing for our kids' Good News Club!

I am really thankful to Jason and Dora for taking the time to evangelize in my children's school, and I am thankful for the teacher who lends her room our so that they can have space to learn about God. If you haven't heard of the Good News Club, there is a link at the beginning of this post. I think they have something similar at most public schools. The equivalent of this at the school my kids were in before we moved to this district was called "Time Release Education", and it was a Chrstian class held in a little van every week. Christian had a blast going to Time Release Education in 4th grade, and he even go to go to a weeklong Christian camp with his friends that summer through the school program.

Yay for people who take their time to teach our children about His Love!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

27 Days of Thanksgiving

Day 7:Today I am thankful for the Titus 2 ministry at Calvary Chapel Church in Upland. Today from 8:30 a.m. until 2:30p.m. I enjoyed teachings from elder women in the faith. It was beautifullly set up (they always make make their functions so lovely) and so very uplifting! From 8:30 until 9:00 a.m. we had a continental breakfast with fresh fruit, muffins, yogurt and granola, bagels and cream cheese, orange juice, coffee, and bottled water. We sat at lovely dining tables with Christmas centerpieces and socialized as we had breakfast. I ended up sitting next to Dora, who happens to be Jason's mom. Jason is the youth pastor who directs the Good News Club at Gwen and Jenna's school.

At 9:00 we moved into the sanctuary for a half an hour of worship with Jaime playing guitar and singing lovely music, and then an hour of teaching by Jeanette on obedience to God. After the teaching we broke up into our first workshops. Mine was titled "Planting Christmas in a Child's Heart." It had some beautiful ideas for celebrating Christmas with children. This class was taught by Jaime, who is the pastor's daughter (the same one who sang worship in the sanctuary.) We got these little handouts that Jaime put together for us with several different ways to make Christmas more Christ centered. The pamphlets included 25 days of family devotions plus activity suggestions to go with them. We also got a list of great ways to do outreach projects with our families during the holidays, and things that will help our family be grateful for what we have. There were ideas for celebrating Christmas, and we all shared Christmas traditions that our families do each year. This class was really fun and it just got me revved up to spend the Holidays giving thanks and sharing God's love this year as a family! I'm so excited! I think I may end up posting on this subject in it's own post because there were so many great ideas discussed in this class.

After our first workshop we broke for our luncheon. It was catered, and Jeanette, Monique, and some of the other ladies who helped coordinate the whole day were right there serving lunch, spooning things onto our plates cafeteria style. There is something awesome about seeing the pastor's wife in service doing a humble thing. Seeing her standing there, smiling, spooning food onto everyone's plates was wonderful-she has such a great heart for what she does, every aspect of it-from leadership to servitude-I just love watching her in action. For lunch we had salad with garlic bread, 3 different typs of pastas: a bow tie alfredo with broccolli and chicken (this was my favorite,) penne in a marinara sauce, and I totally forgot the last one lol. For dessert we had these high layered white cakes with strawberry cream filling. The food was delicious and the company was even better!

After lunch, we went to our second workshop. Mine was called "Decorating for His Glory." It was all about seeing the beauty in every day things and using them to decorate our homes. Our teacher used a bunch of lovely things from nature to make the classroom warm and Christmas-y. There were live evergreen branches on the mantle, a live evergreen wreath she handmade (it was beautiful), several pomegranates scattered among the greenery and a lovely, wide gold ribbon elegantly swirled around it all. The teacher showed us how to make our own live wreath, and showed us how to cook (and decorate with) with pomegranates, cranberries, and other seasonal fruits. This class was very enjoyable, and the teacher did some beautiful things with stuff from nature, but I don't know if I could do similar things because Autumn eats everything that comes into the house! Haha! (I thought she would have grown out of that stage by now.)

After our second workshop the Titus 2 boutique was open for a half hour while we all said our goodbyes. Amanda and I browsed the boutique, checking out all the great handmade stuff. There was handmade jewelry, crocheted ponchos and blankets, and a pretty awesome line of scripture inspired clothing called SoulDog. SoulDog is a family run business-dad designs the tee shirts with help and inspiration from the 3 kids, 2 boys and a girl. Mom runs the booths at festivals and church functions selling the clothing and jewelry (jewelry is handmade by dad.) I wasn't able to buy anything from the boutique as we are having some financial troubles right now, but it was fun browsing and checking out all of the beautiful work everyone did with their hands.

The Titus 2 seminar on Saturday was such a great blessing and I just came home feeling rejuvenated and happy to be with my wonderful family. I want to thank my dear friend Amanda for blessing me with the gift of a Saturday morning with the church ladies. It was much needed and much appreciated!

Friday, November 7, 2008

27 Days of Thanksgiving

Day 6: I am thankful for Friday evenings with my family. We can stay up later because there is no school in the morning, and we try not to really schedule anything on Friday nights so we can just hang out. There is no homework on Friday nights so we can just relax. I usually rent a movie and we throw pillows and blankets on the living room floor, turn off the lights and have a "movie theater". I make popcorn or homemade chocolate pudding with marshmallows and graham crackers (s'mores pudding), or I make hot chocolate with marshmallows. We cuddle and hang out and enjoy our movie. (This week's movie will be Kung Fu Panda.) Friday nights are our family nights and we just love them!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Suing God?

[Note: I am in no way offiliated with the Christian Examiner. I just happened to find this little snippet of "news" humorous.]
From the Christian Examiner, Inland Empire edition, November 2008:

Judge Throws Out Lawsuit Against God
"LINCOLN, Neb. (EP)-A Nebraska judge has dropped a lawsuit against God because there is no way to properly serve Him legal papers. In his ruling, Douglas County District Court Judge Marlon Polk said that under state law a plaintiff must have access to the defendant for a lawsuit to move forward. "Given that this court finds that thre can never be service effectuated on the named defendant, this action will be dismissed with prejudice," Polk wrote, according to the AP. State Sen. Ernie Chambers sued God last year for causing "calamitous catastrophes resulting in the wide-spread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants." Chambers filed suit earlier this year in an effort to make the point that everyone deserves access to the American court system whether they are rich or poor and to make a point about frivilous lawsuits. "Since God knws everything, God has notice of this lawsuit," he told The Associated Press. Chambers may appeal."
[End article text.]

Wow. Just, wow.

27 Days of Thanksgiving

Day 5: Today I am thankful for three hours of quiet time. Every Thursday the girls go visit their father after school 3:30p.m. until 6:30p.m. I have to admit, when he first got visits in April I was extremely nervous, as he hadn't really participated in their lives before this. For their first visit I sat and counted the minutes miserably-would my children get home safely? Would they have all their limbs?? (Of course I am slightly exaggerating here but I seriously was TERRIFIED-I had been the only one to ever take care of them and he had never been alone with them.)

The girls stepmom, Jessica, did a lot to set my mind at ease. She always looks super excited to see them and they look just as happy to see her. I really feel like she has so much fun with my kids!

I have become accustomed to their weekly visit, even looking forward to it now. Ithas become my time alone with Christian, or sometimes just alone myself. This past week, I spent these glorious three hours just sitting around eating fried rice and watching holiday shows on the Food Network. Yes! SUCH a productive way to spend my time! Haha. I don't usually get to just sit doing nothing, so this was a real treat. Yay for totally unproductive relaxation!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

27 Days of Thanksgiving

<--my church

Day 4: I am thankful for the chance to worship at my church on Wednesday evenings. The kids get out of school early on Wednesdays, so we get everyone's homework done and then get ready to go.

Our church serves dinner on Wednesdays to the congregants, made by the wonderful Miss Deedee (the pastor's wife.) It's only 3 dollars per adult and 1.50 per child. They also provide chicken strips and fries for the fussy youngens. :) Tonight we're having meatloaf, mashed potatoes & biscuits. There is always a yummy salad served too with a ton of croutons on top, and sweet iced tea and punch to drink. For dessert there will be little bowls of chocolate pudding with a dollop of whipped cream on top, and a cute little gingerbread cookie in the shape of a windmill stuck on top. (Jenna saw her windmill cookie and said "Look! It's a robot! Cool!" I wasn't inclined to correct her-it gave her such pleasure that the cookie was a 'robot.')

Dinner before the service makes church on Wednesdays so easy for me to go to, as I don't have to do homework, cook dinner, clean up and get everyone ready and then go to church. I love it! I also get more housework done on Wednesdays because I don't have to worry about what i'm making for dinner and how long that will take to clean up.

Our church is quite small and welcoming. We arrive and grab our plates of food and head into the small dining room with its collection of round tables topped with cheery red and white checkered tablecloths. We eat as a family and talk about what we might learn in church tonight. After everyone is done eating, the kids and youth go out into the grass lot and play for a bit before their class starts. Us adults go into the kitchen and help with dishes, putting everything away, etc. When the worship band starts up we know that the service is starting. The worship band plays a lot of great contemporary Christian music, and they play hymns sometimes too.

Often, I get my kids plates of food, sit everyone down, and sneak off into the dimly lit little sanctuary with its old fashioned pews and wooden cross hanging in front to just soak up a little quiet me time with God. I love to sit here and pray alone in the quiet darkened stillness. Sometimes I can hear little squeaky voices exclaim "Where's mommy?" followed by Christian (my son) or Tiny saying "She'll be back in a few minutes, go ahead and eat your dinner." They know exactly where I am, and I am so thankful that they give me this time to myself to get some praying done in a place where I feel so close to Him. The companionship, love and faithfulness I feel alone in this little sanctuary is unmatched elsewhere in my life. I feel like this once a week prayer time is my solace, my thirst quenching dose of living water to keep me motivated for the next few days. I always come out feeling rejuvenated.

Our pastor, Rick Scroggins, is a lively guy. He always makes our services entertaining while we learn the word of God. On Wednesday nights we go through the Bible in one year, studying one book each week (more than one if the books are smaller.) Tonight's study is in the book of Acts. When us adults go into the sanctuary for worship, the little kids (kinder-6th grade) go to Discovery Club, and the youth (jr. high & high school) head over to the Princeton Youth Krew (PYK). in the sanctuary, us adults fill out these little fill-in-the-blanks type worksheets as we take notes on the current book we are studying. The little ones always do a craft and hear a Bible story in the Discovery Club. Tonight's craf is a large orange pumpkin on a big white sheet of paper. Inside of their pumpkin each child has written what they are thankful for. I plan on hanging ours up tomorrow. :)

After church we all kind of hang around in the grass out front and chit chat and socialize for a bit. We catch up on how everyone's week is doing while the kids flit around playing and picking flowers in on the front lawn. We say goodnight to our dear church family and head home to get ready for bed (after all, it is 8 oclock and we have school in the morning.) I love our Wednesdays, they are so homey and quaint-it's like having a visit with family every week.

Mmmm...I wike pie, it's vewy vewy good.

<--Gwennie's picture of a pie.

Gwennie (7) walks up to me the other day and hands me a piece of printer paper folded in half like a greeting card. (She even drew a "UPC code" on the back-I thought that was pretty cool.)

"Here mommy, I made you a card." She says.

"Thank you!" I say, and I open it up to look at the little picture she's drawn inside.

It's a picture of a pie-with a message:

"It is good you are you. You are not a pie." (?!)

Whew, i'm pretty glad i'm not a pie myself.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

27 Days of Thanksgiving

Day 3: I am thankful for the person who thought of this writing assignment. Her name is Rebekah Bentley, and she has a blog called A Lady in Waiting. Rebekah and I are in a Yahoo group together and she sent out an email inviting people to join her in this assignment:

"Would you care to join me for the 27 Days of Thanksgiving? Beginning November 1, you can link from here to your blog every day through Thanksgiving (November 27th). Share with us what you're doing to be thankful, or to share the blessing of gratitude with others. You might list one thing you're thankful for each day, or post various quotes and devotionals on thankfulness. For my photo blog, I will be trying to capture a picture of one thing I am thankful for on each of the 27 Days of Thanksgiving.

Rebekah Bentley
www.aladyinwaiting. com"

[note: I made Rebekah's email a slightly different font color and enclosed it in quotes to let the reader know this is the full text of her email and nothing in the quotes was written by me.]

Well, I started a day late so I guess i'll be ending that day after Thanksgiving lol. If you'd like to participate in this project, please feel free to do so, and then you can head over to Rebekah's Blog and post your link too! Don't forget to read Rebekah's inspiring posts about what she is thankful for as well! (The thank you note post today is awesome! Thank you notes are such a lost art.)

***I thought it would be appropriate to use Rebekah's 27 Days logo for this post as a fitting thank you. :)

Thanks again, Rebekah, for such a great idea!
With Love,

Monday, November 3, 2008

27 Days of Thanksgiving

Day 2: I am thankful, grateful, full of praise because I was born in a country that lets me worship as I choose. I have a black T shirt that has a bold red cross on the chest and the words "This shirt is illegal in 51 countries." On the back there is a large cross with scripture reminding us to pray for the persecuted church. When I wear this shirt it starts a lot of great conversations. It always surprises me that there are so many people who think that in this day and age you can worship as you please everywhere in the world. Some are downright shocked that there are places where people have to worship in secret for fear of persecution, prosecution, bodily harm, or even death.

I know that this is a heavy subject, and I didn't post about it to be a downer, but to raise awareness. I know a lot of us are moms staying at home with our children, and this is where God wants us to be, and we are not called to go to that missionary battlefield, but we can be very powerful support just right here in our own hometowns by praying and teaching our children and others about this, and becoming more aware ourselves. A great place to start is the Voice of the Martyrs. They have a website to raise awareness and they also send out a free monthly newsletter by snail mail if you sign up. (Sometimes you can find free copies of these newsletters at your local church.) If you look in the middle of the newsletter there is a pull out poster type map of the world that lists different areas around the world that need prayer for the underground church. This is an excellent resource. It also contains more specific information about each individual country that will help to guide your prayer rather than just saying a quick blanket prayer.

Also, November 9th is being designated as a National Day Prayer for the Persecuted Church. There is an article about this here. Todd Nettleton, VOM’s Director of Media Development, is quoted in the article as saying "Scripture instructs us to remember those in bonds as though we were bound with them. This special day of prayer is one of the ways corporately we do that."

Wow, that's a powerful statement.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

27 Days of Thanksgiving

Jenna and Autumn sleeping. They are just as cute as puppies in a basket! :)

Day 1: I am Thankful for having an extra hour to sleep in this morning. :) I awoke feeling quite refreshed and happy for another wonderful Sunday.

I woke up at 7:40 (which would have been 8:40 but for daylight savings time) just feeling ready to face the day.

Started my day with prayer that He would give me the energy to keep up with my family and take good care of them, and that He would make getting everyone to church to worship the main focus of my day.

I did my morning routine (put away dishes, start a load of laundry, Cream of Wheat with toast for brekkie, dishes after brekkie, etc.) The kids and I had breakfast at the table and enjoyed each other's company-until Autumn started putting her feet on the table and giggling and I had to make her go sit down on the couch "until she could have better manners". She came back and acted like a lady for the rest of breakfast. The girls did artwork at the dining table while I straightened up the kitchen after breakfast.We got ready for church, and at 10:45 we left for Sunday morning worship. We usually go to the 11:00 service at Princeton Baptist Church.

The praise band had a new drummer this morning, and I feel he really added depth to their music. They played some really uplifting and moving songs, and I just felt so overwhelmed with emotion and blessed at the amazing life I have been given-love, faithfulness, children, home, food, family, wonderful church family-hey, maybe this whole paragraph will be a basis for my 27 days of Thankgiving! LOL!

Our pastor, Rick Scroggins, started a 4 week series of preaching out of the book of Ruth. This morning's sermon was about facing our problems and taking them on with faith in God rather than enduring them or escaping them. (When you endure your problems you don't learn from them, when you try to escape them you take them with you.)
Like Jeremy Camp says, we must "walk by faith, even when we cannot see". This is one of my favorite songs! It's just beautiful!

We just got home and we're gonna head over to my mom's house to hang out with mom and Echo, my sister Kellie, Chavi, Michelle, Amanda and Becca. Just family, old friends, and fun. We're gonna make tostadas with spanish rice for dinner, and probably watch "Veggietales: The Pirates who Don't Do Anything". Fun!

Wishing you all a lovely Sunday,

Saturday, November 1, 2008

ABC's of Homemaking

A vintage photo of my beautiful grandmother, Doris Staley. She was always a lady.

ABC's of Homemaking

*Aprons--y/n -- If yes, what does your favorite look like?*

I have several from my grandma and great grandma, but I don't wear them often enough. My favorite is a very old mint green one that was great grandma's...it's kind of sheer with a scalloped pocket on it.

*Baking--Favorite thing to bake?*

Choc-oat-chip cookies

*Clothes line?*

Yes! I have a small backyard (patio) and I have a retractable 6 line clothesline. It holds up to about 3 loads of clothing. SoCal gets pretty hot so I can usually hang stuff up. I hardly ever use the dryer.

*Donuts--Have you ever made them?*

I have not but would love to try one of these days! I have a recipe for them in one of my grandmother's old cookbooks.

*Everyday--One homemaking thing you do every day?*

Laundry. Every morning I pop in a load and before lunch it's on the clothesline. (Thanks for more efficient morning routines, Flylady! :) )

*Freezer--Do you have a separate deep freeze?*

Yes! Thanks to my good friend Marion, who gave us her extra freezer last spring!

*Garbage Disposal?*

Yes, but the last place we lived in for 7 years didn't have one.

*Handbook--What is your favorite homemaking resource?*

Online. There are so many inspiring sites!

Ironing--Love it or Hate it? Or hate it but love the results?*

Love it but don't have much time for it. I mostly iron while sewing...(I was taught well by the lovely Domestic Diva! Press press press!)

*Junk Drawer--y/n? Where is it?*

Yes, in the kitchen. Luckily it's not too bad though.

*Kitchen--color and decorating scheme?*

Plain white, with lots of tea stuff (teapots, teacups, vintage tea advertisement that Marion gave me for Christmas one year, miniature tea cart on breakfast nook..etc etc etc)

*Love--what is your favorite part of homemaking?*

Cooking for my family, picking out favorite pictures of my family and hanging them up.

*Music while you clean--y/n?*

YES! I listen to the local gospel station, 89.7 KSGN FM You can listen to it online at their website too! It's a really great station!

*Nylons, machine or hand wash?*

I never wear nylons.

*Oven--do you use the window or open the oven to check?*

Open the oven.

*Pizza--What do you put on yours?*

Sausage, mushroom, and green peppers.

*Quiet--What do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?*

Bible study and prayer. Usually around noon. I try to read whatever we are currently going to study during Wednesday night services.

*Recipe Card Box--y/n? What does it look like?*

No. Several cookbooks though.

*Style of house--What style is your house?*

2 story townhouse style apartment.

*Tablecloths or Placemats?*

Tablerunner/placemats, for now.

*Under the kitchen sink--organized or toxic wasteland?*

Pretty organized.

*Vacuum--How many times per week?*

As often as needed, I try to vacuum once per day because the littlest has pretty bad asthma and we try to keep the dust under control.

*Wash--How many loads of laundry do you do per week?*

Between 5 and 7. (One per weekday and sometimes one each weekend day.)

*X's--Do you keep a daily list of things to do that you cross off?*


*Yard--y/n? Who does what?*

Backyard, Christian and Tiny help me with it, but it could use a good cleaning right now.

*ZZZ's--what is your last homemaking task for the day before going to bed?*

Bedtime routine: girls put pajamas on, we lay out clothes for the next day, we have family prayer time, and then tuck in.

God Bless,
Carissa Dawn

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Earth Hour 2008

My family and I participated in Earth hour last night, March 29th, from 8p.m. until 9p.m.

We turned out all of our lights, turned off the tv and computer, and just hung out together in the dark. It was a lot of fun! At first I thought my little girls would be afraid (they are 6, 5, and 3) but my 12 year old son turned off all the lights and got his guitar out and the next thing ya knew the girls were having a lot of fun! They took turns telling me stories and singing songs-they pretended we were "camping".

We have some new neighbors that moved in yesterday, and when I walked by to check my mail all of the lights inside and outside their house were on. I saw the new neighbor guy walking up to his house and I said "It's Earth Hour! All the lights are supposed to be turned off from 8 until 9!", and started laughing. He said "Oh" and I thought he was probably thinking his new neighbors were nutcases-but, low and behold, we looked out the window a couple minutes later and guess what? They had turned all their lights out! How cool is that?

I was surprised at how well the kids handled it. At 9:15 I told the kids it was time for everyone to go to bed, and to make their beds for nighty nite time. My 5 year old, Jenna, couldn't find her pillow. "Turn the light in the bedroom on so you can find your pillow." I told her. She exclaimed "But mommy, we aren't supposed to turn on the LIGHTS YET!" Haha! I thought that was wonderful-and explained to her we were "allowed to turn the lights on" now, just for a few minutes while she found her pillow. We kept the lights off for the rest of the night, except for one small nightlight. For once the kids weren't afraid, and were actually ENJOYING the dark.

This activity made me very aware of the amount of electricity we use in our every day lives. I will definitely be more diligent about the lights we leave on, and the tv my little ones are constantly turning on. I am thinking about doing this one hour lights out with the kids one night per month to raise awareness in my household, lower my energy bills, and just plain use it as a good family time.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Spring Break!

Today was our first day of spring break!

Christian's alarm clock went off, as usual, at 7. LOL. So much for sleeping in on the first day of spring break! I hung out and played online and enjoyed my morning coffee for awhile as the kids slept in. Then, after a liesurely morning, we made brunch together. The kids helped me make drop biscuits, gravy, sausage, fried taters topped with melted cheese, and scrambled eggs...yum!

Now Christian and I are going to tackle cleaning the back patio. It's kind of a cold day but i'd like to have it nice and tidy before the weather gets nice again so wecan have dinner on the patio when we want to. :) Woohoo for spring cleaning!

I'm hoping to take all the kids to see Horton Hears a Who on Monday! Yay!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Awards all around! :)

Well, Wednesday Jennaveve got her two awards at her assembly at school: citizenship and a reading award (see previous blog from Wed). Jenna's kindergarten class started reading groups just like her big brother and sister. Jenna's in the green group and she gets to bring home a new book to read me every evening.

Thursday Christian brought home an award for his Reading Counts points. He was supposed to get 50 in a semester, and he got 64. Way to go!

Friday, Gwennie got an award at her assembly as well! Gwennie got Most Improved student award! She's been working so hard! She got 95 percent on the district math test AND the district language arts test recently. Gwennie also had a memory word test that consisted of 115 words-all of the sight words she's learned so far in 1st grade. Gwen got 115 right!

Autumn saw everyone bringing home awards and said "I get one too??" so we've been serching high and low for a little certificate for her. Tiny finally found one at work and brought it home. (It's so cute! It has rainbow shooting stars and says "Shining Star" on it!) We're going to put Autumn's name on it (my mom does calligraphy) and then we're going to "present" it to her in front of the family (me, kids, mom, Auntie Kellie, Echo). We'll make sure to clap and show her how proud of her we are. :) Of course we'll take pictures too! She's going to get a certificate for beng a good girl and going every day to "Autumn time". (This is her name for the time that she spends with me while the kids are in school.)

Friday, March 7, 2008


Yep, shoes! I found these at Payless and they look JUST like a pair I had in junior high. I couldn't help it-they made me feel like a kid again, so I bought them. I find the bright lime green color especially pleasing. :) As a plus, my 12 year old son saw them and said "Wow mom those shoes are TIGHT!" I thought this was funny because when I bought them I figured he would be terribly embarassed. I wore them outside, so they aren't pristine anymore-sorry about the dirt marks in the pic. :\

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

It's Been Awhile!

Since i've updated this blog. Things have been so crazy hectic around here that I haven't updated much of anything, i'm just trying to keep up with life lately! LOL! 2008 has been pretty darned adventurous fo our family so far!

Today Jennaveve got an award for citizenship at school! She was the only one in her class to get a citizenship award so we were really proud! My mom and sister, Tiny and I (and Autumn) went to her school to watch her receive her award at the kinder assembly. She'll get an ice cream for it too! Jenna also got a reading award. I'm so proud of her!

After the assembly, Autumn, Tiny and I had lunch at Islands. All of my pics from this morning are date stamped January 1st lol because I just bought the camera this morning (thanks for the tip about Target Marion!) and I haven't really figured out how to use it yet. It doesn't help that I left the user manual in Tiny's car and he's at work. Haha.

The kids have minimum day today, so i'm hoping to take them out to ride their bikes after school. Autumn is recovering from being sick though, so i'm not sure. The antibiotics they gave her are really helping her out-she has so much energy! I've got to do SOMETHING to help her run it off a bit without exhausting her.