Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advent at home

As we approach Christmas we all want to find simple ways to remind our kids what this time of celebration is really about. Here is an example of how you can do advent with your children at home starting now through Christmas!

This first idea was sent to me by a friend. It is a picture of a stable (that your child could color) and some additional pictures you cut out and tape onto the stable picture, one picture for each day of advent.
I then searched online and found this advent scripture reading list  that you can use along with the stable picture activity.

I also thought it would be easy to make a paper chain with the scripture references already printed on them. Then as you tear them down you can read the verses until Christmas day. If you google "free printable advent calendar for kids" you'll see there are a number of different ways to incorporate this meaningful tradition into your home. And I hope that you do!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Narrowing The Path

It's been a while since I have posted anything on this blog. Our family has been busy "getting back into the swing of things" as we attempt to bring structure and routine to the day. Homeschooling two children this year is proving to be as time consuming as I thought and yet I see the beauty of God's hand in it all... the struggles, the joys, the relational building that is occurring and the failures. I am so thankful for these four precious lives God has placed in Steve's and my hands to care for and nurture. It has caused me to think of our priorities, my priorities, and share these thoughts with you.

I began to think of the "new school year" as I prepared the little "school room" we have in our downstairs family area last summer. It's not much, but it has been fun to add a school desk and bulletin boards, a place to put all our supplies and post the artwork that is made. I cleared the walls to begin fresh and moved a few pieces of furniture around trying new arrangements. I didn't make any major changes, only minor ones. I began to go over the curriculum we'd be using and putting together the supplies I would need. At times I felt overwhelmed and even wondered if this was just too much to tackle with two smaller children in the house as well.

It was at that moment that I remembered to assess my priorities. Well, I'm sure it was the Holy Spirit giving me a nudge, so I stopped preparing and just sat in the little school room for a minute. I asked Jesus to guide me each day in what he wanted from me to invest in my children. I asked him to strip away the things that were worthless, material, shallow, selfish and deceptively "good." I asked him to put my feet on the "ancient path... to walk where the good way is." (Jer. 6:16) I knew that meant doing things very differently than the world, than those around me. But I knew it was crucial to my children's understanding in who God is and deciding whether or not they would want to follow him.

For my husband and I it is not as important whether our kids "fit in" or are popular with their peers. We don't mind if they don't know what all the other kids are talking about when it comes to t.v. shows and characters, musical stars or the latest must have collectible toy. We know that the "ancient path" we are choosing will distance them from others, but we believe God's word when it says "narrow the road that leads to life." (Matthew 7:14) We believe that preparing our children's hearts for eternal salvation far outweighs the commitments we as parents often feel our children need to be involved in. We trust that as God shows us this unexpected path that he is doing so for our good. It might not be the easiest, the most convenient or the most comfortable, but we are keeping our feet in the race and our eyes on the prize. We are looking toward the day when we will meet him face to face and account for every decision we made as we trained up our children.

It causes me to wonder... as we live our lives in this lost world, how have we been misguided? How have we been pulled in and pressured to blend in. If we could take just one step back what would we be stepping away from? What "important in the world's eyes" commitment or habit or lifestyle choice would we be most relieved to step out of? Or maybe you don't think you'd be relieved... maybe it would feel like a loss to step back. But maybe that loss would open up a new space for the Lord to fill. A space to allow you to push further into knowing Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. A space that would allow you to further walk the ancient path with your children, guiding them and teaching them in His ways, not the world's.

I want to challenge you as I further challenge myself. Steve and I are both laying down things that the world and sin has imprisoned us with. Old habits can be hard to break, but with the Holy Spirit's help we are to be full of "power, love and self-discipline." (2 Tim 2:17) "Living in the world, not of the world" can sometimes become blurred to a very dangerously comfortable level and without us really noticing. Our priorities, however, can be very revealing. Take some time today and ask the Lord how He wants you to prioritize your family time and re-evaluate the choices you are allowing to influence your children's lives. Let's all encourage one another to take a step back from the world and one step closer to the cross.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Are you believing a lie?

We are so excited to announce our study for Fall 2010. We have chosen to go through another counter cultural book, this time by author Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It is titled, "Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free." There is a companion study guide that is optional for you to purchase on your own, but as a group we will only be ordering the book itself. Together we will look at scripture and the questions Nancy challenges us with as Loretta leads us through the book. We hope that you will come join us in discovering these lies and how we can transform our thinking based on God's Word. Whether you have been a part of a bible study before or not, whether you are an Eastridge attender or neighbor in the community we welcome you in our time together and hope to encourage you as you grow in your faith.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A new look!

Have you noticed? Something is different around here! I thought it was time to update the look of our meeting place here in blog land. What do you think? All the information is the same and is in the same place so don't let the new look confuse you.

I hope we will continue to use this as an additional way to connect and encourage one another. Remember that we can share recipes, prayer requests and other information related to moms here on this blog. All you have to do is email me and I will put it on here for everyone to read. It's that simple. I received an email just this week with some fun popsicle recipes that I thought I would post. (Thanks Jenn!)

I pray everyone has a fun and safe summer. I'd love to see you at the Tuesday playgroups we will be having at different host homes around the area as well as the Friday ParkDays we have at various parks. Both are great ways to connect with other moms and allow your kids time to run off some energy. It's all free and you can come and go when you need to. So please stop by!

And, if the sun ever decides to come out and stay try these tasty popsicles!

Purple Cow
Whisk 1 cup milk with 3/4 cup grape juice, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup lemon juice.

Quick Berry Pop
Puree in blender 3 1/4 cups fresh or unsweetened thawed frozen strawberries with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water.

Banana Pop
Puree in blender 1 1/4 cups orange juice and 1 cut-up large banana.

Cafe au Lait
Boil 1 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp instant coffee for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup half-and-half.

Creamy Peanut Butter Pop
Boil 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup peanut butter, then 1 cup milk.

Pineapple Yogurt Pop
Whisk smooth 1 cup vanilla yogurt, 1 cup pineapple juice, and 1 tsp sugar.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Helping your children form lasting relationships

When you think about your childhood would you say it was good? Did you relate to and form a bond with your sibling(s)? Do you continue as an adult to foster the relationship with your sibling(s)? These are important questions to ask because how you relate to your siblings can affect how your children form relationships with one another. Sibling relationships are the longest relationships you will have here on earth. Funny to think we often don't put much thought into that. But a close relationship with a sister or a brother can be a real treasure in life.

As my grandfather passed away last week I watched as his four children (my dad, a twin brother, a younger brother and one sister) came together from different parts of the country to be at his side. Their personalities are all different, each choosing various career paths and having different interests in life. They have not remained as close as some siblings all grown up do, but they continue to keep each other updated on the activities in life, new additions to the family and occasionally get together for birthdays and holidays. Phone calls are made and emails are written. I am thankful that when our families all lived within miles of each other (back when I was a little girl) we'd often vacation together too.

I have two sisters and although we don't live next door to one another we often call and email throughout the week. I would hope that when my four children are all grown up, they too will call and email and spend time with one another. Even if distance is an issue, I hope that they will make an effort to continue their relationships and invest in each others life.

You may have a similar story. Or you may not be close to your brother or sister and wish it were different. You may want for your children what you did not have growing up. So how can we foster strong relationships between our children that will take them into adulthood even after we are gone? What does that even consist of? Brett Johnston wanted to find that out as well. He decided to do some research and ended up writing "Close Kids: Connect Your Children for Life." His story and what he discovered could really help you as you guide your children in developing lasting relationships. Listen to him speak here on Family Life.

Monday, March 22, 2010

"I went into the woods—I went on a walk in the woods, and I just cried out to God. I said, “God where are You in this parenting? I can’t find You”; and I said, “God, what do You know about being a parent?” I stopped; and this is like this epiphany. “What does God know about being a parent?” God knows everything—He is not only my Father, but then I remembered He was the Father of Israel... As I am thinking about that, I just felt this enormous relief. God knows what I am experiencing. God has been there Himself."

Can you relate to this? Leslie Fields explains in this Family Life broadcast how she coped with feelings of failure and frustration as a parent. She also tackles some myths that we fall into as we go through the parenting years. Take some time to listen and be encouraged. This may just be what you need to hear today!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Chocolate- Chocolate Pancakes

It has been a while since I posted a recipe so I thought this one would be good since Valentines Day is coming. If you want to be really creative you'll cut heart shapes out of the cooked pancakes with a cookie cutter and serve them with jam or red berries and whipping cream! Yum! I made them for my family last night and they actually did NOT devour them like I thought they would. Now I have to think of something I can make with my leftover pancakes and raspberry sauce! Anyhow...

Here are the ingredients:
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
2 teaspoon vanilla
5 tablespoons melted(and cooled)butter

For raspberry sauce:
1 pint raspberries
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup raspberry liqueur (I didn't have this, so I put in a little jam, but another substitute would be raspberry syrup.)

Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl. Beat eggs, milk, and vanilla in another bowl; mix in the melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. For each pancake, pour 1/4 cup batter on griddle and cook until bubbles pop in the center of the pancake, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip, and cook an additional minute on the opposite side.

What are your favorite Valentines Day recipes? Is there anything special you like to make for your family? We'd love for you to share them with us!

I hope you all have a great Valentines Day!

Monday, January 4, 2010

How did you ring in the new year?

While many of us were counting down to 2010, making our new years resolutions and wondering what the new year would hold, there was someone who wasn't pondering the future. He knows exactly what lies in store for you and for me...for our nation and for the world. Jeremiah 29:11 is a well known verse, but many will find comfort in the words God spoke when he said, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (emphasis mine)

I have read this verse many times before, but what I saw differently that impacted me was "declares the Lord." I looked up the word "declare" online at Merriam-Webster.com and the first three definitions are listed as such: #1 : to make known formally, officially, or explicitly, #2 obsolete : to make clear and #3 : to make evident. I think God was, is trying to reassure us. He doesn't want us to worry (that is sin!) and he doesn't want us to even try and plan it all out. He KNOWS what the new year holds for each and everyone of us. And though he does not promise that the future will be full of ups and absent of downs he reminds us that his plans are "plans to prosper you and not to harm you." That means he will take all that lies ahead in your life and mine and bring it around to his purpose, to bring him glory and further refine you to be the woman he created you to be.

I am praying that 2010 will be full of blessings for my family and that the Lord will have mercy and grace upon us and his hand of protection from tragedy and pain in our lives. I prayed very special prayers just like that over my children on the night we watched the clock get closer to midnight, ushering in the new year. But I am fully aware that "...My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9) So I am choosing to trust in the process he takes me through, the process in which he takes my family through, to refine us into being the people who glorify Him in all that we say and do.

I pray that this is what you aspire for this new year. That amidst the resolutions and concerns you have for the future of your job or the future of our nation or whatever it is about the unknown that concerns you, you will remember that God has declared and given us assurance that He is in control and will be thinking of you as life's events unfold. Remember his plans are "...plans to give you hope and a future." I think we can all trust in that!

Happy New Year!