Tuesday, June 29, 2010

His Mercy

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.         (Ephesians 2:4-5)

IMG_0015 A few days ago in my devotional I was reading about sin, and the sinful world we live in. We’ve often asked the question why did sin have to happen? God could have stopped it, but He didn’t. Why are we here, after all that we have seen (which is so limited) it’s hard to see how it was worth it, and the purpose of it all. This story we are in…. it seems so complicated.

I have tried to imagine what it would have been like if sin wouldn’t have happened – what a perfect world would be like, but I can’t, not even close really. 

So why are we here?

We are here for relationship, from the beginning, we were here to talk with God, to walk with Him. For Him to know us perfectly and for us to know Him. God wants us to know Him, who He is, His character, His attributes. Him.

Though our eyes and hearts are veiled now, there will be a day when we know Him fully.

How well could we have known God if there would have been no sin, no fall and no redemption story – though God hates sin (the Bible is clear on this) and is NOT the author of sin, the existence of sin sheds light on some important parts of His character. His justice, His grace and most importantly His mercy. 

“In a perfect world He could have demonstrated His power, His purity, His wisdom, His creativity – all of His attributes. Except one. Mercy. How can a merciful God be known in a perfect world? The imperfect had to come.”

I have never thought of it this way before, what about you?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Alexaism

Welcome to the very first recorded Alexaism!!crying

This afternoon, after lunch, Treyton was outside spraying stuff with the hose. Lexie was standing at the door watching him. They were getting a kick out of Treyton spraying the glass door between them.

Lexa finally came into my bedroom, where I was nursing Audrey. She climbed up on the stool looking out the bedroom window and started hollaring for Treyton to come around the corner. 

“Tey-tuuunnn”

“Tey-tuuuun”

I said “Knock on the window, maybe he will hear you then”

She gave a couple small knocks and then next thing I know, she slams her head forward and head butts the window!

I said” Lexa!! Are you okay?!”

She gives me her best pouty lip, grabs her head and says “Duh!”

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Treytonism: What in the World?

Today during school Treyton was doing handwriting and riding a bikewrote a weird looking “n” he looked up at me slapped his forehead and said “What in the world was my head thinking?” 

I think he gets that from me.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Toddler Gift Ideas

It's officially birthday season! I'm not kidding - June, July and August for our family is just CRAZY for birthday's.
And in fact it's our little princess's 2nd birthday in a few short weeks.
So I put together a little wishlist (for some family members who requested it), and I thought that some of my readers might get some ideas of their own from it. So I will go ahead and post it here.



Happy Shopping!

Strawberry Jam

It’s strawberry season!!

IMG_0007This past week Treyton, Mommer and Aunt Toni went strawberry pickin’. I was so excited, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to get out with the three kids by myself, so this was a perfect opportunity to get some fresh self-picked strawberries that I could freeze and make jam from.

Side Note: something interesting I found out was what the difference is between jam and jelly. Jam is made by smashing any type of fruit and adding an equal amount of sugar, simmering until it reaches the proper consistency. Jelly on the other hand can only be made out of fruits that contain enough pectin to create it’s own “gelling” or by adding pectin to fruit (or fruit juices) but this will change the taste of the jellies.

IMG_0012 I knew I wanted to make jam (without store-bought pectin)  and I didn’t want to make my own homemade pectin either so I was on the hunt for a simple strawberry jam recipe without it.

Here were some of the sites I found:

A beginner Tutorial on How to Make Jam

Making Strawberry Jam without Pectin

Easy Canning Process

From these sites, and my short-term memory from the last time I made Strawberry jam. My recipe looked something like this.

IMG_0011 Strawberry Jam

6 Cups of Strawberries

3-4 Cups of Sugar (I used organic cane sugar) but regular white sugar would work.

2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice

Bring to a boil in a large pan. Turn down the heat and keep at a boil, but not a hard boil. Stir occasionally to keep from sticking. After about 20 minutes (or when you think it’s starting to get thick enough) do the wrinkle test – put a sample on a small plate and stick in the fridge for 1-2 minutes, take out and touch with your finger if it wrinkles it’s ready. If not, keep on for another 5-10 minutes and repeat the test.

Take off the heat and ladle into jars when you think it’s ready.

I use the water bath to can/seal my jars.

 

* To Make Strawberry Rhubarb Jam – do 3 cups of strawberries, 3 cups of rhubarb, keep everything else the same

* To make Strawberry - Rhubarb - Jalepeno Jam add 2 jalepenos to the strawberry rhubarb recipe.  (This was great by the way!! A little spicy but well balanced with the sweetness of the Strawberry Rhubarb – Yum!)

We love our jam!! It taste great!

Monday, June 21, 2010

My Real Home

I found an old CD yesterday.

A mixed CD that I made almost 4 years ago. When I started listening to the CD I was completely overwhelmed. I had made the CD during a really emotional and painful time in my life and as I listened to songs that contained no real importance, the music somehow reminded me of that time, and with the memories came pain. And with the pain, thoughts. Lots of thoughts….

Pain is inevitable.

This life is full of so many painful things: sickness, death, broken people, broken relationships and sin. We can not avoid it. Try as we might pain is a part of this life that noone can control.

As I get older, my fear of pain increases. I think it’s because I’m learning to love more. For example: I truly love my husband more today than I did 7 years ago when we got married. I also love my children more each day, even as we have more children my love does not diminish for one to give to another, somehow, miraculously more love is created. My sisters, my mom, my step-dad, my in-laws, my entire family…. my love for them only grows with time. It’s natural, that as time passes our hearts seems to grow.

This becomes an opportunity for the enemy and if we’re not careful he uses this increase of joy and love as an increase of fear. Fear of losing those we love. Not just through death, but of abandonment, rejection, etc. In a sense, the more we love the more we have to lose and the more we have to fear.

So what’s the solution?

As I reflected on the pain of my past, and feared the pain of my future I realized that it is about managing our fears with wise decisions and trust in God. Not trusting God to take the pain away or to keep us from our pain, because we know He won’t, but to trust that God will do what’s best for us.

I don’t know what the future holds, and to be honest I don’t think I want to know. And I don’t wan to spend my time wondering either. What I do want is to focus on my eternal future and and expectantly wait for my Savior to return.

And I do. I pray that Jesus will come quickly. 

It’s funny, I never really understood that prayer before I realized that my worry and fear weren’t going to keep me from pain. It was almost as if I thought ‘If I can keep such-and-such from happening, I will be okay, life will be good.” But the truth is, this life is never going to be good! EVER! We may have good times, but we will have bad times as well.

I’m not trying to be doom-and-gloomy but this is a fact, pain and suffering exist on this earth and always will. We’re not promised ease and happiness, the opposite is true. So all we can do is expect the suffering and long for eternity.

That’s what I am doing.

I am so ready – ready to go home – to my real home. Ready to see my Savior face-to-face.  To no longer feel pain and fear, to no longer suffer and watch those I love suffer. To have perfect love and perfect relationships, a healthy, perfect body and freedom from my bondages. So here I am, waiting, living life the best I can, serving Him the best I know how, until that time, when He decides to call me home.

I’ll be here.

Living.

Loving.

Trusting.

Waiting. Expectantly, waiting. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Family Tricks

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IMG_0033 

IMG_0034

…. the end….

Monday, June 14, 2010

Treytonism: Safety Patrol

Treyton thought he heard someone knock on the door so he said
"Come on in!"
"Wait! Come on in unless you're a bad guy!"

It's nice to know we're protected :) 

Swagbuck Searches

It's been a while since I posted about swagbucks, but just wanted to remind you all to keep searching and for those of you who haven't yet, you really need to sign up.

Swagbucks is a search engine that randomly pays you in swagbucks for doing searches. You are then able to redeem your swagbucks for prices. My favorite is the $5 amazon gift card, because I shop there the most. It is worth 450 swagbucks. The search engine is backed by google and ask.com so the searches still bring up good results.

In the past 6 months, I have been able to redeem over $60 in amazon gift cards! I have received no junk mail or pressure from swagbucks, all I did was sign up and start searching.

If you haven't signed up yet sign up here and you will get started with 30 swagbucks. I honestly would not recommend swagbucks this much or this often if I didn't love what they were about! Check it out and see what I am talking about!


I honestly would not recommend this program as much as I have if I didn't really love it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Audrey 3 Months

My baby girl turned three months today.
Our Kids3We are getting to know her a little better each day and I am so enjoying her personality. Audrey is so different than Treyton and Alexa. She is content and happy, self-entertaining most of the day. She doesn’t require much, which means I have to make it a point to give her as much of me as I do my other kids. She loves to stand, for us to hold her up and for her to straighten her legs out. She really loves her brother and sister, she almost always smiles when they talk to her. She started to laugh several weeks ago and it’s the most beautiful sound in the world. 
Aunt Jenks & Audrey3sleeping babyShe enjoys being held right-side up, not like a typical baby hold. We bounce her on the stability ball which helps her fall asleep. And she sleeps at swaddled at night. She sleeps more than any other baby at this age I have ever seen. I would guess that she sleeps 16-17 hours a day. She only wakes up once a night, and she pretty much eats whenever she is awake.She grew pretty quickly in the first two months, but I think that she has slowed down quiet a bit now. She doesn’t seem much bigger to me. 
I love being a mom of three, and I am so madly in love with our daughter I can hardly stand it!

Potty Trained

BIG NEWS - Lexie decided it was time to be potty trained! 

We had been going back and forth with her for a while, never really pressing the issue for more than two days at a time, here and there. Nothing too serious, we knew she knew when she went potty and that she could go on the potty but we also knew her personality can be a little challenging at times. When she would go on the potty we would give her two treats, sing a little song, cheer, and so on. She had more successes than failures when she would be wearing her underwear, but I was asking ever 20-30 minutes if she needed to potty, if I missed when she had the urge, she would have an accident.
The last two weeks have been extremely busy so we hadn't done any potty training. Lexa would tell me here or there that she needed to go potty and I would just say "You're going to have to go in your diaper." She would say "OK, I went pee"  


Yesterday morning Lexa asked to wear underwear, reluctant, I decided she could. Within 30 minutes she had an accident on the bathroom floor, trying to get on the potty. I was in the other room, I didn't even know she was going to go, she just did it herself.
I asked her if she wanted to put her diaper on again and she said "Yeaahhhh", the way only Alexa can say it :)
So I did, 15 minutes later she said "I need to pee" and went to the potty and did it HERSELF!!
I went ahead and moved the potty chair in the school room so it would be close to us, and she went potty another 4 times - with no accidents - completely on her own!!
I did put a diaper on her when she went to nap, but she didn't use it for the 2 hours she slept and went potty when she woke up.

She got her hair cut last night for the first time so I put a diaper on her when we went out. When we got to the salon she told me she needed to pee. I brought her to the bathroom and held her over the toilet (I'm not ready to let her sit on public potties), this weirded her out so she said "no, don't like, no pee" I said okay, put her diaper back on and she went and got her hair cut. She warned me and then told me when she peed in her diaper while getting her hair cut. Today she is back in underwear with so far no accidents, same motivation as yesterday!!

She is still getting treats when she goes, but other than that she is doing it all on her own. 


This story is such a perfect representation of her personality. She is a good girl, smart and funny. But you have to know how to handle her. If you tell her how to do something, she will go out of her way to do it another way, if you force her it's never going to work, but if you let her be and ignore her for a little while she amazes you by doing exactly what you wanted her to do the entire time.
It takes a little more time this way and a little bit of patience but she comes around, on her own terms :)

He Satisfies

A few days ago I posted on seeking the Presence of God, I encourage you to read it, but the gist of the post was that the desire to feel God's Presence is a good thing, but it's not enough, we need to be actively seeking it.
I based this on Psalm 105:4 "Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually!"
Such an encouraging and convicting verse to me because though I long to feel the Presence of God in my life, most of the time I'm too busy to stop and seek it, I just expect it to come and half blame God when it doesn't.

I have just entered an extremely busy time in my life. We just started homeschooling this week - Kindergarten and tot school with our oldest 2 children, Audrey is 3 months old (need I say more?), we put the kids in swimming classes, planted our first vegetable garden and I accepted a position on the TOS Crew (I will be reviewing curriculum and homeschooling products) which I recently realized that this is like accepting a part-time position, it involves a lot of work and dedication; which I don't mind - it's just the point of adding one more thing to my already full list; and this isn't even mentioning my other household, mothering and wife responsibilities or church or the fact that my husband is working many more hours this week - and the ones to come.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, everything is under control, and so far things are running smoothly, and I am loving our life, I wouldn't do all this stuff if I didn't want to, it's just to say, I don't often make a priority of seeking God throughout my day, and even if He is revealing Himself to me, I am often so busy I am not even noticing.

BUT in the last few days I am trying to change that. I am trying to slow down. None of my responsibilities have changed, but my mindset has. So, when I'm doing the things like weeding my garden, or laundry (quieter activities) I pray, and I seek. I try to clear my head and just forget the next thing on the list, I stop rushing, and I am seeking.

There has been a big difference.

Psalm 107:9 says "For He satisfies the longing soul and the hungry soul He fills with good things."


I love the way God works. When I first read it, it literally jumped off the page. A promise to satisfy and fill me is an such an encouragement to the steps of faith I am trying to take. In a chapter of scripture based on forgiveness and restoration this verse is applicable to my life, and the lives of all of us.

He satisfies and He fills. Every need I have, He can meet. Every weak moment or weak thought, He can strengthen. His presence, which I am seeking, He is giving.

Praise God for who He is! Praise God for what He is doing!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

CSN Opportunity

CSN Stores recently contacted me, a second time, to review a product from their site. I am honored to be selected again, and am looking forward to working with them again.

CSN has over 200 online stores that you can literally find almost anything you need from a sofa to toys, to bags and purses (yea!) and kitchen appliances, the possibilities are endless.

I look forward to reviewing the CSN product as soon I can narrow down my choices... it may take a while :)

I still have my wishlist from last time so I think I will start there. What would you all pick?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Review: God's Promises for Boys

God's Promises for Boys written by Jack Countryman & Amy Parker

A children's topical devotional book for boys, this book is one that we will use over and over again in the near future. Covering situations and struggles that all boys will face at some point in their life, this book is a great tool. I look forward to using it as a resource in future training. One of my favorite things about this book is that there isn't much in the way of the author's opinions, it's almost all scripture which I find refreshing. I have other topical books and resources but I like the option of pulling out a more child-friendly resource when working with my 5 year old on character issues.

Though this is a book intended for boys it could easily be adjusted to being used with daughters as well.

The only thing that I would have changed about the book is that I would have added an index in the back by topic and verse. It can be a little challenging to find what I am looking for. Minor, I think, but thought I would add it to my review.

I received this book for free for review purposes through Thomas Nelson Publishers. The opinions expressed are my own. 

The Presence of God

Psalm 105:4 "Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually!" 
I stumbled over this verse a few days ago in my quiet time and I have been feasting on it's beauty for the last several days.

I don't get much quiet time these days. The kids are waking up before me now (due to the early light) and my nights are filled with exhaustion and not enough energy to read. I praise the Lord for prayer, because I've been able to do it throughout my day, even without a lot of time, but it's been mostly talking, not much listening.

One day earlier this week I actually got some time to get alone with the Lord, and I loved it. I was telling the Lord how much I desired His presence and how much I cherished those moments that it feels like we touch. It's energizing in a way that nothing else compares too. (even sleep!) During this time, He showed me this verse.
I LOVE how the Lord works and how He gives us exactly what we need when we need it. And this verse for me was a message, just for me, in a moment that I needed it.

Quiet times are nice, even essential (I feel) but the truth is I can't stay in quiet time all day, yet I am challenged over and over in the Word to seek His Presence, walk in His presence, and live in His presence. And even more than that I have a desire to be in His presence; we all do, even if we can't describe it as such.

I want and need God's presence all the time, not just in my quiet time. I want to feel Him walking through every moment with me. I want Him to be the first person that comes to mind in every situation. I want to love Him to the fullest of my ability. I want to hear Him speak to me all throughout my day. I want my ears to be open to His voice. I desire Him on so many levels, yet I fail to feel His presence when I know that He is with me.

This verse encourages me because I know that God would not tell me to seek something that I couldn't find. The desire for God is a great thing, but without action it's pointless, so I know what I need to do, and that is SEEK.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

End of May Pictures - The Zoo

Okay... now, to finish the end of May Picture series. While my dad and Aunt Kathy were up visiting we went to the local zoo. It was extremely hot this day, hottest day of the year so far (for me at least).

Here are some pictures from our time there. 
Treyton got to see his favorite zoo animal, the bear, and also posed with the nearby bear statue... again :) 
Lexa and Uncle Aaron looking at the penguins 
Big buddies that day, here are Uncle Aaron and Lexa relaxing in between animals. 
Looking at the lion
Here is the only real "group picture" minus half the group :) We're busy looking at the lions
Feeding the giraffes. Always the highlight of our zoo trip! 
Shayla and Treyton - Cousins and Best Friends 
Lexie: hot, tired and waiting for lunch
Lunch break
Time to cool off with ice cream! (Aunt Skye and Uncle Aaron)

Treytonism: Big Jug

Treyton's nickname is big jug... about 6 months ago we were driving in the car and Tim called Treyton something like "Big man" and Treyton said "I'm not a big man, you can call me big jug." Ever since then it's just stuck.
~~~~~~~

Today Tim called Treyton a monkey - he was once again climbing on the kitchen stools near the counter. Treyton said "You call me big jug - I'm not a monkey - I'm a jug"

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Vegetable Garden

Living out in the country, we knew we wanted to put in a vegetable garden, we didn't last year because Tim hurt his hand. So this year we finally did it --- I am so proud!


We planted:
Carrots
Beets
Onions
Tomato
Green Pepper
Jalepeno Pepper
Basil
Green Beans, Pole
Zucchini
Cucumber
Watermelon
Peas
Corn

So far everything has come up and is growing really well except for the carrots.... but now that I've done a little research on carrots I'm not sure I planted them in the right conditions. They say carrots do best in cooler temperatures and that you should plant them a week or so before the last frost. I planted mine in probably the hottest week on the year in about 90 degree weather. They also said to work the soil 12 inches down, which I didn't do either. Oh well, you live and learn and next year I will do better.

For all of our vegetables I created labels that the kids could read (with pictures), laminated them and put them in our garden.
Getting ready to till the soil
The kids have been a big help with the garden, weeding, watering and watching. Lexa doesn't realize she isn't supposed to walk on the plants, but she is learning.... slowly.