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 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