Monday, February 28, 2011

Book Club: Ministry of Motherhood: Chp 13-14

Chapter 13: Persistent Miracles--A Model for Training

Clarkson walks us through the concept that Christ walked daily with his disciples and was continually teaching the same thing over and over again.  Persistent, He would teach the same lesson, hoping they would eventually get it.  And they did... just after he died (doesn't that just sound like a mother's day?).

As moms, our days are filled with teaching and reteaching, encouraging and re-encouraging, reminding, redirecting, retraining.  As soon as we think they get it, our children prove us wrong.  Or better yet, we move on to the next stage of training, a stage that we might know nothing about ourselves.  This applies to so many areas of life: physically, socially, emotionally, and most important spiritually.

*The book of Proverbs was written to teach young people how to be wise and how to have Godly character.  Determine to read from the first four chapters of Proverbs each day for one month to your children.  Ask them to make a list of the wise principles they hear as you go along.  Memorize one verse together each week and say it aloud daily.

Chapter 14: Training Children to Think

In this chapter, we're reminded that the disciples themselves had problems.  They were constantly on the move, dealing with people, and learning to lead the church.  On top of that, Christ promised that more problems would come, even praying that God wouldn't take them out of the world, but rather protect them.  There were certainly many times they wondered what they had gotten themselves into.

Clarkson recalls a time when she taught her youngest child to take every thought captive.  She reminded the girl that God is in control, and that although some things in life are scary, the Bible states that God will have the final word.  Carefully she guides her daughter in thinking through events and thoughts from a Biblical viewpoint.  Knowing when to expose our children to new realities is a fine line to walk.  But whether we life it or not, it's coming.  We can either teach them to think about their lives from a Biblical perspective, or ignore the reality of their growing up and hope for the best.  Personally, I'd rather choose the former.

*Write down what you think should be the primary goal of our instruction and training.  Then read I Timothy 1:5.  What does this verse say about the goal of our instruction?  How does your stated goal compare with the one Paul expressed to Timothy?  What changes, if any, do you need to make to your goals and daily responses in light of this comparison?

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith--I Timothy 1:5

It's been a really bad Mommy day and the cold hard fact is that I haven't shown love to my child today.  I haven't been patient or had a "pure heart."  How have I displayed Christ today?  Not very well.

How are you liking the book?  We're nearing the end.  Do you feel it was a worthwhile read?

Made by Me Monday

Hey gang,
How was your weekend?  Sunny?  Snowy?  Fun filled or relaxing?

We were forecasting for a big dose of snow on Thursday, but it passed by us.  Really cold, very stormy, but just not enough moisture in the air to bring us any snow.  Oh, well.  Maybe next time.

Saturday went by much too fast.  I attended a first aid class for a few hours and came home to a lazy afternoon.  Hubby and Noah went down to the church to help clean for a little while so Lydia and I took a nap.  Highlight of my day.  :-)

Sunday was much of the same: church, family time, and trying to run some of the kids' energy out, although it was freezing cold.  We've had a colder winter this year and I think we're all getting cabin fever.  I feel like I'm running out of things to do.  Ideas???

Did a little crafting as well.  I love all these super cute headbands on the internet and they are so easy.  I'll post one later this week.  Very fun and has me dreaming of spring.

Should we get this Made by Me Monday party started?  Write a blog post highlighting your project with a link back here so that others can join in on the fun.  Then link up below to the blog post itself.  You can post more than one project; just add more than one link.  So let's start partying!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lee's To Do List

These Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes (@ Made by Stephanie) look incredible.  A wonderful treat for company or a potluck!

What little boy (or girl) wouldn't love the Pillowcase Super Hero Cap (@Nap Time Journal)?  Perfect birthday present.

I love these tips on how to Plant the Best Tomatoes (@Kitchen Stewardship).  I'll be reviewing them after we did our Seed Starting earlier this week.

My husband would be so excited to see this Naan Bread (@ The Local Cook).  Indian food is a favorite in his book.

This Crystal Chain Necklace (@ Kosmic Chai) is stunning.  Time to start planning for a DIY Christmas.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Book Club: Ministry of Motherhood: Chp 11-12

Chapter 11: Faith in God's Living Word

In this chapter, Clarkson relives a challenging two week period in which her family found themselves returning time and time again to the comfort and peace of God's Word.  Bits of Scripture would come to mind when they needed it most.  Prayers were centered around verses that fit the exact situation.  Comfort was found in the Living Word.

She puts it this way: "The Word of God gives our children the basis for their faith, a proper world view, and wisdom and advice for all they will encounter.  ... In fact it is as we apply God's Word to our everyday lives that our children will begin to understand its worth to us and to them'' (pg 125).

Clarkson then goes on to list several ways in which we do this, many of which we mentioned on Tuesday: memorizing Scripture together, family devotions, acting out Bible stories, giving personal examples, and allowing our kids to see us studying the Bible as well.

I've found this to be so true of my own life.  I can't lead my children where I haven't been myself.  And one of the greatest ways we keep God's Word before us is in reading the Bible together.  In the past six months as I've read with my 5 and 3 year olds, they've come to crave those times of reading their Bible.

*Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith, it is impossible to please God.  What circumstances has God recently allowed in your own life that call for faith?  In what ways are you modeling faith before the eyes of your children so that they are learning how to have faith in God?

It's hard to be exceptionally deep with such small children.  Conversations of finances and jobs, relationships and struggles are often down played at this age in an attempt to establish security.  However, our family is currently walking through several situations that are requiring tremendous faith on my husband and I's part.  But one thing that continues to strict home is that the Lord has a very specific purpose for this season that we're walking through.  And that in time, it will be a testimony of his faithfulness.

Chapter 12: Faith in the Spirit's Power

Clarkson talks about the Spirit's importance in helping us walk day by day.  While studying John chp 13-16, she comes to this realization: "I realized that if Jesus taught his disciples about the Holy Spirit with such intensity, He must surely have wanted them to understand that the Spirit would be very important to their lives in Him.  Thus the Spirit is to have great importance in my life as well-- how I live and in how I teach my children" (pg 131).

Upon reflection, I came to the same thought as the author, that we can nurture and teach our children, but eventually it is them that must make the leap to being connected to Christ.  While we nurture and parent, eventually they must make their faith their own.  And through their knowledge of the Spirit's power, they can learn to rely on him when we can't be with them.  Eventually we have to let go of our kids and realize it's the Holy Spirit that does the sustaining and the guiding.

*Think of a time in the past when you have had to walk by faith but now look back to see what God has done.  Tell your children about this experience in the form of a bedtime story.  (If you can't think of a time in your own life, look for a children's book about faithful people . Or tell them the stories of Abraham and Sarah or Joseph in Egypt).

This came up last night in reading in our Bible about Zechariah and Elizabeth.  And as Mary was carrying Christ.  What faith to believe in all these strange and wonderful events!

*According to Ephesians 2:8, what does God say is the source of our salvation?  What does faith have to do with this?  Do your children understand that God's love is a free gift with no strings attached?  Plan out how you can communicate this principle to them.

For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift from God--Ephesians 2:8

Grace... grace is our gift of salvation.  God extends grace.  We have the faith to accept it and trust it, rather than working for our salvation.  One of the greatest models we have for this is loving and accepting our children with grace and mercy.  As they grow, we can communicate to them that Christ enables us to love because he is the source of love.

I'm sure there's a better way to do this, but I'm not sure how.  Any suggestions?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dreaming of Spring...

Spring is coming and I'm a little behind the times.  Each spring I dream of putting in a bountiful garden that will be as beautiful as well as functional.  I dream of cherry tomatoes in my fridge, kids picking strawberries, and yummy lettuce fresh from my backyard.  I dream of hard work rewarded with a harvest, the taste of a true homegrown tomato, and herbs sprouting on the patio.  All this balanced sunshine and watering cans and carefree summer days....

But then reality hits.  It's not the work of tending and weeding.  I relish being outside and digging in the dirt.  Love the idea of being more self-sufficient, even in a small way.  No, the reality that hits is that I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing.  The reality that no matter what I do the tomatoes just don't want to produce and the snails want the watermelon plants and the birds think the herbs are lunch.

But each summer does get better.  Plants do last longer and coming out of winter, I find myself refreshed and dreaming of spring.  Learning from what we learned last year, we're trying again.  Call me foolish.  Call me a glutton for punishment.  Either way, we spent yesterday afternoon working on our seed starters:
tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and cucumbers.  Hum... Love!

Keep your fingers crossed for me that my starters do well.  I want to pick up some strawberries and raspberries later in the spring, but for now I'm dreaming of spring.  How about you?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

52 First Dates: Week Thirty-Seven

Hey y'all,

How's your dating life?

I was reading something interesting last night about how we pursue our spouses while dating, but marriage becomes a "get out of jail free" card.  We get married and just stop putting in the work.  Worse than that, we start the nagging, complaining, whining.   I'm not saying there's not plenty of room for growth in marriage, but we almost act as though marriage gives us an excuse to stop trying: "This man's married to me.  Now I can really let him have it."

And I can guarantee you that the single woman in his office isn't treating him that way.  No, she's respectful, perhaps friendly.  And even if she's not pursuing him, it's probably light years away from the "old ball and chain" syndrome.

Anyways, I'm still chewing on it, but there's some food for thought.  Puts it in a whole new light, huh?

Are you ready for this week's challenge?

You are going to create an intimacy box with your spouse.  What's an intimacy box you ask?

An intimacy box is a collection of items that can only be used when creating an intimate environment with your significant other.  These can items as simple as candles, massage oils, special music, bubble bath, ... how creative can you be?

So for this date you will be shopping together or separately.  Ideally I think this would be so much fun to do with your spouse.  Pick an inexpensive location, split up and come back together at an appointed time.  (In the real world this isn't always possible.  So doing this separately at most convenient times is still a great option).  Keep your purchases a surprise until you can be together.  And don't just throw it on the bed and say, "Well, this is what I came up with."  Take time to really share with each other and talk about why you made each purchase.  Relish these moments of intimacy and conversation with your spouse.

Are you ready?  Go!

*Linked to Women Living Well and these Parties.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Book Club: Ministry of Motherhood: Chp 9-10

This section of the book opens us into our third "gift:" Faith.  For me, so many circumstances in my life at this moment are requiring a measure of faith that I didn't know I had.  Yet as we walk in faith, I have full confidence that the Lord will work it out for his good, no matter the outcome.

Chapter 9: Enough for a Lifetime--A Model for Faith

Clarkson brings us to the reality that life happens.  Families die, homes are lost, jobs fall away,... but it's the recognition of eternity that will ground us.  When things and people in life fall (as they always will), it's living with a purpose, with a hope for the future, that will define our existence.  As she puts it on pg 105:

  "Jesus said that this world is passing away,  that we will live with him in his kingdom for eternity, but also that eternity starts right now as we establish his spiritual kingdom in our hearts and learn to live with an eternal perspective."

It's imparting a knowledge to our children that THIS ISN'T ALL THERE IS.  There's more.  This world is fleeting, but there's more.

*Read Psalm 119:105.  According to this verse, what will give our children a proper foundation and guidance on their path of life?  In what ways does this apply to our calling as ministers to our children?

  Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light to my path--Psalm 119:105

According to this verse, knowing, and more importantly applying, God's word (the Bible) is what will guide our children.  It's what will guide all of us.  And as mothers, it's what will guide us through the toddler years, the elementary years, the teenage years, and the empty nest.  More than any parenting book, it's should be our first resource for any issue we encounter.

Chapter 10: Faith in a Living God

Clarkson reminds us that our best teaching tool is our own living example.  What will be my response?  What will be my measure of faith?  Will I choose to walk through the places I can't see?  Will I choose to walk with joy and perseverance?  Or will I allow the world to dictate my behaviors and attitudes?

Isn't that what so much of this comes down to: we can't lead our children in places we've never walked.  In seeking to fulfill our calling as mothers, we find ourselves pressed, pushed against, rubbed the wrong way, all in the pursuit of Jesus and being a living example.  How much of our lives are we willing to expose in order to truly live out more of Jesus, less of ourselves (John 3:30)?

How accurately are we portraying Christ in our own lives?

*Make a list of five things you could do to incorporate God's Word more effectively into your everyday family life.  Pick one item from this list and commit to applying it faithfully for six weeks.

Posting Scripture in our home
Committing to memorize Scripture with my children
Following the Bible application lessons from Sunday School each week
Setting aside a family devotional time
Seek opportunities to effectively lead children in prayer regarding everyday situations

What did you think of these two chapters?  Did you have any suggestions for this last question?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Book Club: Ministry of Motherhood: Chp 7-8

Each post gets better and better.  Each chapter gets better and better.  I feel myself being challenged over and over again.  This has been an exciting read for me.

Chapter 7: Inspiring a Sense of God's Powerful Purpose

In this chapter, we're challenged to direct our children's eyes beyond the everyday to see the extrordinary.  And in the same way, we are challenged to see that as well.  Caught  up in the day to day, we can miss the majesty, mystery and the power of our Lord.  Will be choose to see it?  Will we choose to point our kids toward it?

Clarkson makes this statement on pg 81-82:

  When I first became a mother I never would have guessed that the words, Come, look! would be so important to my child's faith training.  But as we all grew together, I came to understand the importance of pointing out to them the abundant evidence of God's power and glory and presence that surrounds us. This act of directing their eyes and ears beyond the mundane to the wonders of God's work is one of the most important ways I can give my children the gift of inspiration.

*Read Matthew 6:25-30 and Psalm 19:1.  Then think of a time and place where you really felt the power and magnificience of God as displayed in the work of his creation.  In the coming few weeks, be on the alert for opportunities to look, observe, ponder--and point out God's wonders to your children.  Set a goal of saying, "Come, look!" at least once a day.

It's funny that this show be the question today.  I was just thinking about this myself.  We love in a part of the country that has spectacular sunsets (possibly sunrises too, but I wouldn't know what the sky looks like at that time of day).  I remember attending college when I first moved here and marveling at the colors that painted the sky in the evenings.  Incredible!  And then taking out the trash a few nights ago, I wondered, "When did I stop watching the sunsets?"  When did life become so busy that I stopped watching what God had created?

Chapter 8: Inspiring a New Kind of Love

A New Kind of Love focuses on those people that we wouldn't normally love.  The people put in our path that we would generally overlook.  The people who wouldn't be our first choice to serve.  But that's what it looks like to love the unlovable.  To serve from Christ's heart.  And to see through God's eyes.

Where are we demonstrating that for our children?  Often as adults, we've grown cynical, jaded, ... isolated.  Sometimes through bad experiences, sometimes through our own ignorance. Loving with a new kind of love requires us to rely on God both for his vision and his enabling.

*Read Matthew 9:36.  Can you think of some fear or prejudies in your life or your particular culture that might keep you or your children from seeing people as Jesus did?  (What kinds of people do you tend to shy away from or find it hard to care about?)  What might help you overcome these attitudes?

Ouch!  Can I decline to answer this one publicly?  I'll be working through this one and let you know.

How did you feel about these two chapters?  Was there anything particularly insightful that you took away?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pumpkin Chili

This week I tackled #3 on my list of Amy's Notebook challenge: Pumpkin Chili.  Really?  I know it's weird, but it was just a fun enough idea that I couldn't resist trying it.  

I started out with these recipe I found on Amy's Notebook and then looked up this second chili recipe.  We tweaked the two, used what we have in the cupboard, and came up with a pretty good, yummy chili.  The pumpkin thickened up the chili really nicely and the vitamin content was a great added benefit.

It came off slightly sweet so we balanced that out with a little more garlic.  And honestly, it was pretty good.  

How are you experimenting in the kitchen lately?

52 First Dates: Week Thirty-Six (& A Winner!)

Hey gang,
How were your dates this week?  Did you show your husbands some love?  Isn't it amazing what you can do when the weight of Valentine's Day isn't sitting squarely on your husband's shoulders?

Chang in our marriages start with us.  It's time for us to forget keeping score and to control the one thing we can control: ourselves.  As I was reading this week, it just hit me again... we may not be able to change everything in our marriages.  But we can change ourselves.  And that alone will change our marriages.

So I hope you had a great Valentine's Day.  And I hope you're excited to hear our latest giveaway winner...

Sorry, not yet!  :-)

Are you ready for this week's challenge?

We're going down memory lane with this one.  Do you remember our game night challenge all the way back from Week Four?  Back then we had a game night with our husbands.  Trivial Pursuit, Scattergories, cards,... up to you.  Well this week we're revisiting that challenge... with a twist.

This week we're walking down memory lane back to our childhoods and back to our dating days.  And hopefully back to some laughs in the midst of those hectic days.

Part One
Make sure you pick up a new copy of one of these:

Remember those days of laughing through car rides and sleep overs?  It's time to dust off those memories and make some new ones with your spouse.  What's funner than a game of Mad Libs?  

Plus if you have some extra time, be sure to do a quick google search before you head out to the store.  You might find some printables.

Part Two:
Make a crossword puzzle based on your history with your spouse.  Can you remember those little details that have come and gone in your marriage?  It might be harder than you think.  Better yet, why not make it a challenge.  You build a crossword for your husband while he builds one for you.  Here are a few sites to help you get started:

Need a few clues to get you started?
Where did you meet?
Where did you have your first date?
What's your spouse's favorite treat?
What were your nicknames for each other in your dating years?
Where did you go on  your honeymoon?
What time did you wedding start?
Who first said "I love you?"
Where did they say it?
Where was your first kiss?
Where did you stay on your honeymoon?
Where is "your" place?

So do a little prep work this week, pick some snacks (what's a date without food?), and have fun laughing through this one.

Are we ready for our giveaway winner?  As a reminder, our giveaway winner is receiving a copy of Gary Thomas' Sacred Marriage.  It's unbelievable.  Each week, it challenges me in my own marriage and  I'm excited to pass it along to one of you as well.  You're going to love it.  Out of our awesome entrants, the winning number from is...

Courtney from Women Living Well...

Here's what Courtney had to say about what she's learning about marriage:

Anyways, to answer your question- what am I learning in marriage right now? That it's a lot of work... I can't rest on what I did last year to help my husband or how respectful I WAS. It's a daily discipline of remembering to ask how I can pray for him, be mindful of his needs, be respectful when tensions rise etc...I have also learned that it does get easier each year and more beautiful!

Congratulations, Courtney!  I'll email you later today.  So excited for you.  This is a great book.  Hope you enjoy it too.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Book Club: Ministry of Motherhood: Chp 5-6

How is your reading going?  I'm loving this one.  I've read a lot of parenting books, but I love Clarkson's format.  I love how she starts each section with a solid chapter of Scripture and analyzing Christ's example before diving into the application.  This is really a fantastic book and I'm really glad we're reading it.

Chapter 5: On the Mountain--A Model for Inspiration

In this chapter, Clarkson makes the argument that our greatest goal is to equip our children to make the Lord know and raise up disciples.  As moms we have deep insight into our children's personality.  And it's up to us to seek the Lord's wisdom in how to guide that.  As Clarkson puts it, "We have the hearts and the trust of our children from the earliest moments of their lives... they long for a special place to belong, a place to feel their worth,  and they need us to help them find it" (pg 67).    She also encourages us that as we encourage our children in pursuing their significance in Christ, we will find ourselves traveling down that road as well.

*For each child in your household, write out a list of characteristics (personality traits, skills, interests, etc) that you believe God can use for his purposes.
  Noah--very loving, strong leader, thorough, very intelligent, 
  Lydia--super organized, lover of dance, sings to Jesus, very imaginative,

*Referring to the lists you just made, write a letter to each child expressing what you see in him or her and affirming that God has a special place for that child in his kingdom purposes.  Whether you share the letter with you child now or save it for a future time depends on your circumstances.  Don't forget to commit this list to the Lord in prayer and specifically ask him for help in inspiring that child to use his or her gifts to help bring about God's kingdom.

Chapter 6: Inspiring a Sense of Purpose

Clarkson takes us through the understanding that this purpose is different from what the world tells us.  As his disciples would often still find themselves returning to fishing and trade work, their lives would never again be "normal" (pg 72).  That purpose God's best may mean giving up very worthwhile goals in order to pursue God's best, even in ways we don't understand.  Following Christ means giving it all up: understanding, control, everything.  

Even as we wonder why Christ would choose to use sinful humanity... us... to fulfill his purposes in the world.  Leading our children into this reality completely changes their worldview.  It may not change their career or their family choices.  But it does change the way they will approach life.  

And this is scary as a mom.  It requires growth on our part as well.  Are we willing to trust the Lord with our children?  Are we willing to trust the Lord with our hopes and dreams for our kids?   Can we do it?  Can I do it?

*Read Matthew 6:33.  This passage is clear about what our priorities should be, but priorities easily become skewed in the course of daily life.  Consider the way you spend your time and your money.  What does this say to your children about what is most important to you, and is this the message you want to send?  In light of this verse, should a mother's children be her first priority?

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  (NIV)

I gotta say, a mother's first priority has to be the Lord.  Seeking God first, seeking to make him known, seeking his kingdom, that's the priority.  If we're seeking God first, it will be his wisdom that directs us in discipling our children.  We can raise beautiful, healthy children, but if we haven't submitted to Christ first, it's all for not.

So what did you get out of reading these two chapters?

Made by Me Monday... Finally

Hey gang,
Sorry I'm running late and I'm gonna keep it short this week.  Crazy cleaning down in my house on top of keeping two littles entertained as there's no school today.

We had a fun weekend with an old friend visiting town.  Our old roommate was in town for the weekend so we had lunch together on Saturday.  And of course family movie night this weekend with a new movie and popcorn on the stove.  Church Sunday morning and hanging out around the house.
Wasn't a very eventful weekend, but sure seemed to go by quickly.  Keeping the kids busy today.  We've already spent a hour and a half at the YMCA pool and we're trying to stay out of the rain.  Looks like it's going to be lots of soup on the menu this week.

Here's a yummy pumpkin chili I came up with last week after mixing and adjusting two other recipes.
We liked it and I certainly wouldn't mind making it again.  It's been a good recipe to have on these cold winter days.

Don't forget to check out this week's giveaway while you're here as well.  It's a good one.

But for now let's get this party started.  Write a blog post highlighting your project with a link back here so that others can join in on the fun.  Then link up below to the blog post itself.  You can post more than one project; just add more than one link.  So let's start partying!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lee's To Do List

This cute little bandana dress (@Trey and Lucy) would be so frugal and precious for the girls in your life.

Frozen Raspberry Lemonade Pie (@ Simply Designing) will have your Valentine's guests dreaming of spring and in the mood for love.

Great ideas for Guests on a Budget (@Penniless Parenting).  We should be putting on our thinking caps and brainstorm ideas like these.

Love these Mason Jar Soap Dispensers (@ Decor Chick).  What an inexpensive gift!  Here's another one @ Girl in Air.

What a fun Mickey Mouse party (@ Craft-o-Maniac).  I used this one as inspiration for my own Minnie Mouse party.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Book Club: Ministry of Motherhood: Chp 3-4

Chapter Three: The Grace of Encouraging Words

This chapter for me was a reaffirmation and remembering of things that are easy to forget.  How soothing and energizing encouragement can really be.  I know how I feel when someone encourages me.  Even when it's in correction.  

In a world that can seem so big to a child, how important our encouragement is in the home.  When our children are constantly hearing, "Don't do that," "Why did you do that," it can be wearing.  I know that I want to raise kids who know the line, but can also know joy in their day.  

*The last night Jesus had with his disciples, he called them "little children" (John 13:33).  Does this tell you anything about his attitude toward these grown men who were his most devoted followers?  Read John 14:1 and see what his continued response was to Peter after he had confronted him with the fact that he would deny Christ.  How does this show the loving grace that Jesus extended to his disciples?  How does he want you to extend it to your children

Chapter 4: The Grace of Forgiveness in Action

Confession... the ability for our children to come to us in any given situation... any time they've made a poor choice... who do we want them to come to?  We want them to come to us.

Often as Mothers we have this vision of quiet moments with our children where they crawl up in our laps and confess the sins and the desires of their hearts.  But in the day to day reality of parenthood, it's too easy to get caught up in the correction of wrongs.

For myself, it's easy to jump to the correction part of the process.  Too often I forget to take a deep breath and see if my children are getting there on their own.  There have been situations where I jumped too far ahead when I should have taken a moment to hear my child out.  I have ignorantly caused a bigger issue when my child just needed a moment to continue processing and vocalizing the situation.

*The Bible makes it clear that we are to discipline and correct our children when they do wrong.  How do you do this faithfully while still giving them the gift of grace?

There's an absence of anger when extending grace.  I can feel when discipline is about what's best for my kids and the difference when I'm disciplining 'cause I feel I've been wronged.  Grace allows us to discipline in a way that searches for the best benefit of our children.  Discipline, when done for the kids, is grace.  It's teaching and passing on wisdom.  As I said for me, part of that is going to be in trusting my kids and not jumping so far ahead of them.

*Write down what tends to irritate you about each of your children and sometimes keeps you from showing God's gracious love.  Pray for each child he has given into your hands and make a plan for how you will respond more graciously to him or her, especially in those irritating situations.

Out of respect for my children, I'm going to pass on sharing with this question.  But I would encourage all of us to do some soul searching on this question.  Share your responses with your spouse and pray together about how you can continue to extend grace, in partnership, to your children.  How can you begin changing your response in those tough situations?

Well, I don't know about the rest of you, but this book is already overwhelming me and reminding me how important our example is to our children.  It's been a great read and I can't wait to start reading about  Inspiration!

The ULTIMATE Valentine Treat!

I don't even remember when I came across this recipe.  One day searching the internet during nap time, I discovered this awesome recipe that I just knew I had to try out.  In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I pushed it aside.  And in getting back into routine, this was one of the first recipes I had to try out.

Since my husband loves Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, this is the perfect Valentine's Day treat for him (and me).  Rich, gooey, and soft... they are wonderful!  Bake these for your hubby or eat the whole pan yourself.  Either way, you have to try them.
Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Cheesecake Pops
*From the Food Network



  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups creamy peanut butter


  • 5 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
For the cheesecake: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Line a 8 by 8-inch baking pan with foil letting long flaps overlap on each side. Spray foil with nonstick spray.
Break up the brown sugar to remove all lumps. In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until very smooth. Add the cream and beat slowly; then add the yolks and vanilla mixing until just combined. Gently stir in peanut butter. Take care not to over beat the mixture; this incorporates too much air and causes the cheesecake to crack.
Pour and evenly spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Open the oven to release some heat, then lower the temperature to 200 degrees F. Continue to bake the cheesecake until the outside is set but the center is still loose, for about 45 minutes. Turn off the oven, and cool cheesecake in the oven for 45 more minutes. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
Lift cheesecake from the pan by lifting up the foil. Transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes. Stick a wooden pop stick halfway into each bar and freeze for 1 hour (cut mine in bites instead of making pops).
Meanwhile, put the shortening and chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching, the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. (Alternatively, put the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Melt at 50 percent power in the microwave until soft, about 1 minute. Stir, and continue to heat until completely melted, about 1 minute more.)
Dip the pops into the chocolate mixture (I drizzled mine with chocolate), and stand on waxed paper to set, about 5 minutes. Serve cold (straight from the fridge), or freeze up to 2 weeks. Frozen pops make a cool summer treat, or can be allowed to temper for 10 minutes at room temperature before serving.
Upgrade: Coat the pops with chopped nuts or candies for a really decadent finish. To do this let the dipped pops drip over a bowl for 15 seconds before rolling them.

Have you tried any new and special recipes lately?

Disney Secrets and Tips

In case you missed it, we took a trip to Disney a few weeks ago and I proudly proclaimed it as The Happiest Place on Earth.  Every trip we take, I learn new little tips and tricks that make our trip special.  And everyone that we go with has their own unique favorites and experiences.  Having gone several times, I can honestly say it's constantly a new experiences.  Our Disneyland trips hold many cherished memories.

This past trip was no different.  Taking a trip with family opened my eyes to a whole new host of tips and tricks.  These are just a few of my favorites:

Wanna See Mary Poppins?

Best time to see this rare character is not long after the gates open.  Each morning we were there, Mary, Bert, Alice and the Mad Hatter appeared at the front gates near opening time.  The Disney band was there was they pulled people from the crowd and got the guests to interact in a performance.  Mary Poppins is a hard character to catch, but this was a consistent sighting over three mornings.

Opening was also a great time to see characters at the beginning of main street.  We found that as we first came through the gates, there was consistently 4-5 characters with short lines, including Mickey, Minnie, and another rare character, Donald.

The same tip holds true for the very end of the night.  We saw Mickey (with short lines) near the main gate every night just before closing.

Don't Miss the Light Shows:
While we were there, we saw Fantasmic, World of Color, and the Fireworks.  Each unique and special in their own way.  I was a bit leery of the wait time for World of Color, but it was well worth it.  For a special seating tip, go to the Fast Pass as soon as you enter Disneyland's California.  The fast pass of World of Color is located outside Grizzly River Run and will indicate your seating area.  This is especially important if you are traveling with a wheelchair.  Without a fast pass you may find yourself behind the water sprays and the show isn't worth it.

For Fantasmic and the fireworks, it didn't look like we were going to see both in one night.  So we parked ourselves across from Tom Sawyer Island for the light show.  Look for the Reserved Seating ($50; WOW!) and just stay on the other side of the barrier.  You'll have to arrive early and stand, but this will insure you get a great seat.  Plan on arriving a hour early.

Instead of hustling over to the castle, we stayed in the same spot for the fireworks.  And while I agree that there's nothing like seeing the fireworks over Cinderella's castle, this was still a great location, without the crowds.

The Mark Twain is a great afternoon break:
The Mark Twain riverboat ride may not have all the glitz and glamor of Indiana Jones, but it's perfect for the afternoon stretch when everyone needs a little break.  My kids (5 and 3) had a great time exploring the different levels and learning all about the boat.  Plus it was a great break from the craziness of the park and line standing.  

You may also request to ride in the wheel house.  Guests get to blow the whistle, ring the bell and pretend to steer.  Only 4 guests are allowed per trip so check at the dock and see if anyone has claimed it for the next round.

On the same note, guests are sometimes allowed to ride in the front of the monorail with the driver.  Check with an attendant for availability.

Traveling with Family or Close Friends is Crucial:
We traveled with a large group this time.  And although that's not as important, family is key to a successful trip.  When one kid pooped out, there was always plenty of helping hands.  When little ones couldn't ride, again there was always a willing grandma or cousin to switch off and keep them company. Many hands make light work and it's so try when traveling to Disneyland with kids.  Whether waiting in line, taking potty breaks, or getting lunch, an extra family member goes a long way in making successful trip.

Know your Baby Stations:

I wish I had a photo for this one, but I don't.  In both Disneyland and Disney's California, there is a baby station.  This is by far my favorite tip and trick for travelers, those with kids and those without.  

If you are traveling with a baby, this a great spot for quiet nursing rooms, heating a bottle or having a high chair to feed a little one.  Both baby stations were clean, quiet, and very friendly.  Additionally both sell baby food and diapers.

If you're not traveling with kids, this is still a great location to know as there is a cool, filtered water fountain with a long neck, perfect for filling water bottles.  The water still tastes different, but as compared to $3.50 a bottle, I'll take the free water for refilling my bottle.

Disneyland's baby station is located on the right hand end of Main Street and California's baby station is located near the Boudin Bakery.

I have lots more tips and tricks, but we'll save those for another day.

What tips have you learned lately about traveling with kids?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Giveaway Season!

Just wanted to pass along some great giveaways that going on right now...

My Sentiment Exactlee is giving away a $100 Gift Certificate to Red Envelope.  If you haven't checked out Red Envelope yet, you have to take a look around.  So many fun things.

Reluctant Entertainer is also passing along a great giveaway.  Win books from Ann Voskamp, Tsh Oxenreider, RE herself, and an apron from the Hip Hostess.  I'd love to win this one.  Two of these items were already on my wish list.

My good friend, Running Rachel, is giving away an Eat Smart Precision Pro Kitchen Scale.  What a great addition to any kitchen.

And don't forget to check out the giveaway here @ Creative2xmom.  Sacred Marriage to go along with our 52 First Dates challenge.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

52 First Dates: Week Thirty-Five (and a Giveaway!)

Surprise... it's week Thirty-Five and one of the most "Love" oriented seasons of the year.  Do you know what next Monday is?

Now before you start in about the overcommercialization or the inability to find a sitter, remember that Valentine's Day is all about celebrating you and your spouse.  It's not about the overpriced roses (although they are lovely) or the impossible to make dinner reservations.  It's about what makes your relationship work and taking the time to celebrate that.

So as all us ladies are being wooed by the jewelry advertisements, let's be thinking about our men.  How can we serve them this Valentine's Day?  After all, who says Valentine's Day is all about the women?

Here are just a few things I have roaming in my head:

*The way to a man's heart is through his stomach--why not take the initiative to make dinner reservations?  Or what's your man's favorite dinner?  Can you make it?  I know my husband loves his grandma's lasagna... and he only gets it about twice a year.  Why not now?  Or for after the kids go to bed, how about some fondue and finger foods?  Or sweet treat?  I have a peanut butter chocolate recipe coming on Friday.  Stay tuned!

*Diamonds are a girl's best friend--But what's your husband's best friend?  You don't have to break the bank to treat your man.    Is it a back masssage?  Resee's Peanut Butter Cups?  A card just saying Thanks for taking such good care of us?

*Romance is in bloom--Can you strike a compromise?  Sure your husband would probably be willing to watch a romantic comedy with you, but do you have to choose the one that's so over the top?  Is there movie that will make his flinch just a little less?

*And when the lights are out?--Let's be honest, there's probably one thing that's shooting right to the top of his list of wants for Valentine's Day.  And you in sweat pants and slouch socks... well, that just ain't it.  So put a little thought into it.  Can you sneak away to grab something new this week?  Remember, you're married; have fun.

Now for the Giveaway part..

A few months ago I was contacted about reviewing Gary Thomas' Sacred Marriage.  I had heard the title several times and it came highly recommended.  Plus it also came at an interesting time in the blog.  With this 52 First Dates experiment, I jumped at the chance.

And Wow!  This book is so much more than I expected.  I was looking for a great book on a Christ centered marriage and came away with a book that challenges me to pursue Jesus.  Every chapter we read together reminds me that my marriage can me closer to Christ, if I allow it to.  Take this excerpt from the back cover:

  "Sacred Marriage doesn't tell how to build a better marriage-- it shows how your marriage can help deepen your relationship with God.  From the practice of forgiveness, to the ecstasy of lovemaking, to the history you and your spouse create together, everything about your marriage is filled with the potential for discovering and revealing Christ's character."

We've been making a regular reading date once a week and it's been incredible to share it together.  Plus with the discussion questions in the back, it's a great tool for building in communication.  And...


Wanna Win?

* Simply leave a comment below letting us know what your biggest accomplishment in your marriage has been lately.  It's that easy.  What are you learning?

Want some additional entries?

* Become a public follower of Creative2xmom
* "Like" Creative2xmom on Facebook
* Post with a 52 First Dates idea for a future post

Good luck to all of you and I can't wait to give this one away!  Have a great date night!

*Edited to Add:
Sorry I forgot to put a deadline on this one.  Let's say we keep it open till next 52 First Dates.  So you have till February 15th at midnight and I'll announce the winner on the 16th.  Good luck!

*Disclaimer: Gary Thomas provided my copy of Sacred Marriage and the giveaway copy.  I was not monetarily compensated for this post.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Book Club: Ministry of Motherhood: Chp 1-2

Wow!  What an amazing couple of chapters.  GRACE... what a hard concept for me to grasp.  What a hard concept for me to put into practice.  The Lord certainly knew where to hit me with this book.  Grace...

I'm not sure where to start so let's just get going.

Chapter One:
What stood out to you?   What did you get from the reading?

After Clarkson shares her narrative of Peter, she hits us with the idea that before teaching, Jesus started with a relationship, "the grace of his fellowship, his love, his instruction" (pg 27).  She makes the point that "we must always remember that our children, like Peter, will never be perfect" (pg 28).  This thought lately has been continually hammered home at me: allowing people (especially my children) the space to be human, the space to make mistakes.  Modeling grace, as a mother, is so imperative for our children to UNDERSTAND grace.  Our modeling allows them to know that God's grace will be ever present and in turn enables them to extend that same grace to others.

Still we are human.  Our ability to extend grace to our kids is dependent upon our own relationship with Christ.  And by being human, we too have to receive grace.  It's cyclical.  

*Read Romans 2:4.  According to this verse, what leads us to repent?  How specifically does God want you to extend his grace to your children so that his kindness, through you, will lead them to repentance?

Kindness, forbearance, patience... all lead us to repentance in Christ.  How often is kindness missing in my own discipline?  How often do I instead rush to frustration?  All too often.  It's amazing to me that I can see the difference and still chose what doesn't work.  Again this reminds me of how I'm so incapable of extending grace without daily being plugged in with the Lord.  Grace is not something that comes natural, but rather supernatural.  

Practically, beyond spending time with God, so much of extending grace to my kids must come from sacrificing my sense of "authority" and allowing them the space to be human.  Divorcing my emotion from the situation immediately defuses it and takes about its power.

Chapter Two:

It's 10:20 pm and I've been squarely hit across the head with these words:
"I realized that my dreams are not necessarily what really motivate my children to become the best they can be.  What matters to them is my loving presence... If I want them to be open to my messages, I need to be willing to serve them..." (pg 33)

So true.  I can talk and talk and talk until I'm blue in the face.  I can remind and nag and bargain and plead, but how often do I lay aside my own agenda and just be with the kids?  I've been reminded of that over the past couple of months.  Leaving the laundry in favor of a puzzle.  Putting off the workout in favor of ANOTHER book.  Sometimes impossible, but too often excused.

As Clarkson reminds us, these small moments are what build the relationship, what puts our children in a place to be discipled.  Without this foundation, our words are meaningless.

I love this line--"Passing on the gift of grace requires a commitment- and yes, a sacrifice- of time, love and heart service" (pg 37).  Grace is a sacrifice of time.  It requires patience and working things out.  It requires understanding and a listening heart, rather than jumping to the easy solution.

*Read Mark 14:66-72 and then 1 Peter 4:8.  Knowing that Christ gave Peter grace after he failed so miserably, how would he have you extend this kind of grace to your own children?  What would this look like in your daily interactions?   

This example of Peter reminds me again how motivated we can be by fear.  Fear has made me do some crazy things, as it did to Peter.  As it does to our own children when we don't build a relationship on love, trust, and sacrifice.  Often I find myself praying that God would remind me that my children are young; they are learning.  Messes are made out of curiosity.  Time blocks are done out of innocence.  And what can seem to insignificant to me, may mean the world to one of my kids.

How are you being challenged by this book?  How is the Lord teaching you in your reading?

Made by Me Monday

Hey y'all,
How was your weekend?  Did you do anything exciting?

We had a great old party this weekend, complete with lots of cousins and aunts and uncles.  We celebrated my Grandma's 84th Birthday on Saturday with lots of extended family.  The kids had a great time running around with their cousins, and hubby and I had some down time with the family.  It was a quick trip, but well worth the memories.

Hubby and Noah took off yesterday to go to a Super Bowl party and I stayed home with my little napper.  Unfortunately, I woke up from my nap with a migraine.  So all the plans I had for crafting yesterday disappeared.  No project from me this week.  Sorry!

But I still want to get Made by Me Monday up for those of you who might have gotten more done this week.  Write a blog post highlighting your project with a link back here so that others can join in on the fun.  Then link up below to the blog post itself.  You can post more than one project; just add more than one link.  So let's start partying!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Lee's To Do List

This Vera Bradley Purse Cake (@ Living Locurto) is so much fun.  Wish I had the time to create this one for a friend.

This Winter Candyland Birthday Party (@ Kara's Party Ideas) is such a fun theme.  What a great spin off after the holidays.

I love this Pinkalicious Party (@ How Does She).  Maybe I'm just in the mood for Valentine's Day, but isn't this fun?
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