Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Friendships Without Age


My daughters love these girls. 
Love them. 
They became friends this summer at family camp.
Their age gap makes no difference.
They played princesses and kings and prisoners.
The playground became a fortress.
The make believe blurred into reality.
I loved watching it.

I loved seeing them run up to each other and hug each other hello.
I loved watching my more reserved daughter dancing like a disco queen with abandon with these girls by her side.
  
I love that there are no boundaries.  There are no rules.  They are just friends.

This is how I've taught my kids to be.  We are friends with people of all ages.

My son has what he calls his 'little best friend.'  He just turned five.  My son is half way to nine.
Some would say that's a big age gap in those years.  Some would think, oh they don't have much in common.

But they do.  Boys like cars, boys like racing, boys like playing.
Does that really ever change?

Kids, grown ups, we all like to have someone to talk with, to interact with, to play with.

Somehow in certain circles a stigma gets put on who can play with whom by age bracket.

It's silliness really.

My three year old who will go up to anyone she finds interesting and introduce herself by saying, 
"Hi I'm Audrey, Can I be your friend?" believes there are no boundaries when it comes to friends.

But she recently was told, "You can't play with us because you're too little."
"You're too little."  That was a dagger to her soul.

Let me tell you, the earth shook and her world was shattered.  Really.  I'm not exaggerating.  There were tremors radiating from where she sat due to the high pitched scream that radiated from the bottom of her toes to the tip of her head and out onto the playground for all to know.  She was not going to be told she was too little without a protest.  She had never been told that before.  It crushed her.

When she was born, because of the feisty scream she bellowed out I wrote these exact words on her scrapbook page, "I have a feeling you are going to be one who will make your voice heard."

I think I nailed it from day one. 

I know some would say that's a life lesson.  But my personal feeling is that I'll teach her we don't play that way.  We can walk away when that happens, but we won't ever make another child feel they're too young or too old to play.

Do you find you're the same way?  Do you put a stigma on what age friends you can have. 
I find I've often become friends with people ten or more years older than me.  But I also have friends who're ten or more years younger.  

It's finding something in common and feeling that kindred spirit of like mindedness that bonds us.  Age just doesn't matter.  And how much can we learn from those who've gone before us?  I think younger generations forget how much wisdom and guidance we can glean from those who've been there and done that.  

My Community Bible Study started up again.  I went yesterday and felt blessed by the Lord ten times over.  Really so many things from the welcoming hugs, to the awesome group discussion, to the speaker who touched my heart to the point of tears, and a scripture to ponder and meditate on throughout the week.  

Three times in Joshua 1, God encourages him to be strong and courageous.  His message rings true for us as well.  So I'll leave you with this encouragement that is encouraging me too.  
Yes, I know I just said encourage a few too many times.  I'm typing quickly here remember.  Trying to make wise use of my time.  So the editing isn't too detailed.  
With that aside, please let this minister to you today...

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." 
Joshua 1:9

He truly is with us, wherever we go.  No matter what we do, who we speak with.  I pray for His words when I speak and His eyes when I see hurting in the world, His heart when I interact with my family, my friends, with strangers.  To be more like Him every day because He is with me every step of the way.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I Think Too Much



In the midst of my light-hearted blog posts lately I've neglected to share that my mind has been wound up and confused and I'm trying to figure out how to simplify.

We're three weeks into our school year schedule and I'm feeling like I can't catch up to the speed of my own routine.

It all is feeling too rushed despite my efforts to organize and be wise with my time. 

My son I'm praying to love even harder, in the midst of lots of pushing boundaries and attitude that isn't ok.  I know he's needing more love even when I feel so discouraged by his behavior.

My little one starting kindergarten is tired.  She seems like she's thriving, but this routine of ours has her tired.

My three year old is tired too.  She wakes sooner than she'd like and goes to bed later than she should.  Our routine is jostled with after school sports and back to school nights.

Part of this is my making, by choosing schools far apart.  But that choice was made out of wanting our kids in the schools where we feel they're loved and cared for and nurtured in the way we would.

I'm feeling sensitive about everything and thinking too much.

I feel like there are conflicts everywhere I turn.  Not in my immediate family thankfully, but outside.  You know those kinds of conflicts where you don't mean for them to happen and yet they're there.  You try to handle them in the way you know God would want you to, but you still have to make hard decisions and speak up for things that you feel are wrong.  I have a hard time doing this.  It weighs on me.  But this past week I've had to do it in a few different areas of our lives.

I'm praying about everything and trying to rest in God.  I'm trying to do my part and make the calls I have to make, have the conversations I need to have, create the charts and plans that will help our family run more smoothly.  I am waking up earlier to have things ready and prepared so we can all have a calm atmosphere at home. 

A wise woman builds her home right...

"The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down."
Proverbs 14:1

One week ago today on the way to school I was hit by a big rig with my kids in the car.  From the sliding door back it's pretty thrashed.  The back window across from my son shattered.  
We're all ok, praise God.  

But I wonder what God is trying to tell me, to show me in all of this.  

The picture above was taken after my parents called to see if we were all ok.  I was supernaturally calm when it happened.  But that night I sort of broke down from the stress of everything.

It seems silly as I type it, but I think it was sort of the straw that broke the camel's back.  I was telling my dad about it while my daughters waited in their room for me to read their bedtime story.

  When I hung up the phone I realized it was very quiet.  They had both fallen asleep.  One put herself to bed, the other still waiting for her story.

So I'm sensitive and emotional, but this made me feel so bad. 

I'm praying for balance and an abundance of love and for wisdom in how to simplify.

Because I know these years go so quickly and I don't want to remember them as a big blur spinning by while I was pulled along by our schedule.

So this is where my heart and mind are lately.  I'm trusting in God and focusing on what I'm grateful for in my life.  In the process I'm praying my spirit will find that place of peace and balance again.

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song. 
Psalm 28:7

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Edible Art

 (from Happy Little Bento)

I recently bought some of these bento boxes from amazon.  Last year I used those fabric/washable baggies, but they got too yucky.  This year I've been meaning to buy more, but in the meantime have been terribly un-eco friendly.  

Is that proper English?  No.  But we'll let it slide ok.  

So I decided instead to do the bento boxes.  My friend recommended them to me.  They're on their way and should be here by Tuesday.

Man I'm excited about them.  They're bpa free and this site, Happy Little Bento,  I can't stop clicking from one post to the next. 
So adorable and scrumptious looking.  And her post says this one is all raw.  

My three year old's review, "That looks really yummy."

 (from Happy Little Bento)

I think these works of art would entice any 3, 5, 8 year old to dig in and try some foods they haven't before.

It makes me want to make one for myself!  Do I have it in me to be this creative at seven in the morning?  Probably not.  But maybe with some preparation I can do it every once in awhile.  

In the meantime, I'll just keep clicking and oohing and ahhing over her amazing designs.  My kids are right alongside me saying, "look at that one, and that one!" 

What a creative way to make food appetizing 
to the eye and the tummy!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Compassion






This drawing was made with a special girl in mind.  A girl we have sort of adopted into our family, or at least into our hearts.

This is my five-year-old's depiction of herself holding balloons outside our house.  She loves rainbows and unicorns, mermaids and seahorses right now.  I so remember loving those things too when I was young.  It's fun watching her draw with abandon.  She doesn't think or process too hard, she just keeps moving forward.

Ava will wake in the morning and literally say, "I need to draw."  Before even eating she gets her paper and colored pencils.  Which by the way, you must check these Smencils out.  Each color has its own 'gourmet' smell.  It reminds me of childhood and takes me back to those simple days when scratch n sniff stickers delighted me.

That was a side note.  Back to the point, this picture was drawn by Ava for our Compassion International child from Guatemala.  We've finally committed to helping in this way.  It's something I had been wanting to do for awhile.

This last group of bloggers who went and wrote about their journey to Guatemala made me tell my husband we've just got to do this.  No more wanting to and then forgetting to follow through.  

Read through their journey from those links.  
It will break your heart. 

I especially wanted to do this as our children started getting older.  I wanted it to be something we'd do as a family.  So that they can see how we can be the hands and feet of Jesus for others in so many different ways.  So that they will grow in their compassion.

So they can see how hard it is for some and how blessed we are to be in America.  I don't want them to take things for granted.  I want their hearts to ache for others to the point of action.
I let my five-year-old pick out the girl we 'adopted' from the pictures of girls around her age.  She chose her because of the traditional dress she was wearing.  I showed her all the pictures of the girls in her age range.  But she was positive right from the beginning.  This girl named Jennifer was the one.

They listed that she lives only with her mom, who only sometimes has work.  I believe the Lord knew Jennifer and her mom needed help more than the others in that moment and He used my daughter to guide us to her.

If you feel led to look into Compassion International, don't let the moment pass.  Follow through.  These children need you and me.  And even if we haven't walked their streets, those blog posts with the pictures and stories, give us a glimpse into how badly they need hope.  If we can be that hope, how can we hold back.


From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, 
much more will be asked.     
Luke 12:48

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Autumn Recipes


Oh.. I love this time of year.  
This photo is pretty unrelated to the topic.  But to find a 'fall' looking photo I started scanning through pictures from last year and came across a series of these.  OH my how much smaller she is.  I didn't even remember taking these.  It makes my heart melt to think of how fast they're growing.  I always tell her she can't keep growing that I want her to stay three (fah-lee) forever.  "Oh but I can't mommy, Jesus made me to grow bigger" she always replies.  She's in such a hurry to be older.  When we pretend play she's always seven and the big sister.  But she does reassure me that I can always hold her even when she's a grown up.  Sigh.  Why is it the older you get the faster the time flies.  It's just not fair!  Someone stop the clock ok?

But back to our topic.. Autumn recipes.  None of them are mine.. but I'm introducing you to a plethora of yummy gluten free recipes you must check out!  Gluten is the source of problems for so many people.  It is a main source of inflammation so with a lupus diagnosis my doctor recommended I avoid it.  
I love this blog "Gluten Free Goddess"!  But just because you're cutting out gluten doesn't mean you can't enjoy some really yummy foods.  I've learned how to navigate around wheat and gluten really well in the last year.  The internet sure helps.  I wanted to share her post today because of all the scrumptious Autumn recipes.  

There are soups and chili and pumpkin waffles and muffins and deserts galore.  But the thing that has my mouth watering are these two recipes.  I am a mexican food-aholic.  I think I could honestly eat it every day and not get sick of it.  



Or this one



She says her chicken enchiladas are one of the most popular recipes on her blog.

She also has a whole section of Thanksgiving ideas.  Interestingly that's right around the time I found her blog last year.   I think you'll find lots of yummy ideas there too!  Happy cooking and Happy almost fall.  Can you just feel it in the air?  I know in Southern California we don't have fall like so many states, but I still feel the change in the air, the light, the smells.  And I love the excitement of all the fall activities and celebrations.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

An Adorable Carnival


I wanted to share my friend's most adorable carnival party yesterday.  She is super gifted at throwing the cutest parties... and is especially good at making her cakes so detailed and special.  I loved this one and the day was so much fun all around.


My kids loved it, including my 8 year old son.  She was worried he'd think it was too babyish.  He said it was the best party ever. 

They loved the friendship.

The games.

The tickets.

The prizes.

The jumpy.

And most of all the cupcakes at the end.
Happy 5th Birthday A.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Gift


I think I mentioned I love personalizing gifts.  My best friend's son is turning five and his party is TODAY!  We're about to leave for his circus theme party.  But I quickly wanted to share.  

I did these silhouettes for my kids about a year ago.  


She has wanted one for her son so I finally did it.

It's super easy if you want to try.  You just paint the canvas.  Take a profile picture of your child, print it out, cut it out and then trace it on the dry canvas.  Then paint it in black.


I liked how it looked doing the outer edge black too so I did that for her as well.  You have to be pretty careful with that part so it doesn't bleed onto the front.  But when it does I just go around again with a little green.
I didn't realize my husband snapped some shots of me painting.  This is me, no make up, still in my jammies, enjoying being outside doing something therapeutic.  Is there any better way to spend a Saturday morning?

I know she'll love it.  As for her five year old.. one day he will.  But in the meantime we got some fun books for him too.  Oh and a stainless steel water bottle that can also hold hot drinks like tea too.  My sister is selling them custom made from her etsy shop.

Hope you're enjoying your Saturday.  We're off to celebrate, sing happy birthday, play carnival games and eat popcorn, hot dogs and yummy treats!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Little Bit Of "Free" Time


Today my last 'peanut' (that's what I have called her since she was a baby bundled in a swaddle because she just reminded me of a peanut) started her first day of preschool for the year.  She was so excited to see her friends and to be back at her school.  There were no tears thankfully.  Just a high five and an I love you mommy.  She was settled in with her friend Ry Ry and the baby dolls.  That's all she needed.


So I am home.  Two hours really is all I have till I pick her up.  But it's the first uninterrupted two hours I've had since last June to be home by myself.  Yes we go out on date nights or I'll have a meeting.  But I'm talking about being ALONE.  I crave it.  Is that bad for me to say?  I don't think so.  Because without it I'm not as good a mommy or wife, or anything for that matter.

I have learned about myself that I need time to be quiet.  Well, maybe not completely quiet.  I love turning on my pandora Ginny Owens station.  I love getting to read an inspiring blog or two and I sit here wondering which project to start first.

There are so many.  That's the problem with a personality like mine.  I can't just sit.  Part of me wants to.  But I am too excited to embark on all of those projects I've been putting on the back burner.

I prayed the Lord would let me be wise with my time.  Not waste it because it goes so quickly.  I felt the Lord telling me to get to this first.  So today is a day of new beginnings for me.  A day to pursue those dreams that have been on the back burner for a little while.
I drew it a little over a month ago.  It should have been colored in by now... but sometimes life gets in the way and sometimes I'm too tired at night.  Ok a lot of times I'm too tired at night.  A little note that I'm almost afraid to speak out loud.  But my hope had been/still is to have enough drawings done to sell prints and possibly other things on etsy by the end of October.  I really would love to have a whole calendar worth of drawings ready before the holidays so it can be a gift option.  Oh... I need prayers that I'll be able to achieve this dream.


But back to this drawing...
It is inspired by Isaiah 40:31.  
"Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles..."

I currently have this scripture with the famous Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker painted in my daughter's room.  But rain water damaged it awhile ago and we're about to have to paint over it.  I'm ok with that because I did it six years ago.


At that time I wasn't confident enough to try my hand at my own drawings for a mural so I copied hers.  I love those fairies and think she was an amazing artist.

When we chose Ava's name I learned it means bird, but specifically Eagle in Latin.  I love this scripture.  I also found this story about how eagles use the storms and rise above them, they allow them to carry them higher.  It's very symbolic of how through God we can be renewed in our strength and rise above the storms in life. 

I never knew how many times I'd look up in her room and need to see it.  It has served me more than her to this point.  But I wanted to choose this as a scripture for her to hold onto throughout her life.  

Ok.. that was kind of a side note.  But I wanted to explain why I wanted to do another painting with this scripture since we'll be painting over the mural soon.  

 I also was inspired by Daisy Love who is fighting her second Wilms tumor right now.  She is a six year old little girl and the daughter of Pastor Britt Merrick from Reality Carpinteria.  They have quoted this scripture on their blog through this journey.  

She is an amazing little girl.  I don't know her personally, but can just tell by what has been written.  I wanted to capture that feeling of soaring free with your faith in the Lord.  He will lift her higher, above this storm.  He will do that for all of us.  And even in her trial, others are being brought closer to the Lord.  He is amazing that way.  And praise God her second tumor recently shrank enough to be completely removed.  My girls especially are set on praying for Daisy every night.  She has a place in their hearts.  We continue to pray for her full recovery and a long faith filled life ahead.  I actually just checked and her fever is rising.  So please join me in prayer that Daisy Love will be completely healed.


"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 a hope and future." Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bittersweet


I've borrowed these quotes from a blog-land friend.
I really loved them and had to re-post.
I'm thinking I must get this book, "Bittersweet."

“The big story really is actually being told through our little stories, and by sharing our lives, not just our sermons, we’re telling God’s story in as reverent and divine ways as it has ever been told. God’s story was told in Hebrew and Greek, and I believe that it’s also being told in whispers and paintings and blogs and around dinner tables all over the world.
——
We dilute the beauty of the gospel story when we divorce it from our lives, our worlds, the words and images that God is writing now on our souls.

And let’s stop acting as if religious professionals are the only ones who have a right and a responsibility to tell God’s story. If you are a person of faith, it is your responsibility to tell God’s story, in every way you can, every form, every medium, every moment. Tell the stories of love and redemption and forgiveness every time you experience them. Tell the stories of reconciliation and surprise and new life everywhere you find them.
——
And when we tell the truth about our lives—the broken parts, the secret parts, the beautiful parts—then the gospel comes to life, an actual story about redemption, instead of abstraction and theory and things you learn in Sunday school.”
(s. niequist)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Taking Weeds Captive

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  2 Corinthians 10:5

Do you practice this?  I think it's something we all need to do or should be doing every day, even every  minute of the day.  
Letting the enemy in with wrong thinking causes weeds to grow in our minds.  

Weeds that tangle the truth.  

Practice memorizing this and reciting it every time you sense a negative voice creeping in.  Rebuke those weeds!

Let the garden of truth flourish and bloom bigger and brighter.  
 
Because the weeds are sneaky and sly and subtle and little by little they can crack through the foundation.  

But praise God, HE is stronger than the weeds.  His truth is more powerful as we learn to put into practice taking EVERY thought captive and making it obedient to Christ.

Happy Friday! 

Oh and a little p.s. Ava is doing remarkably well I'm told.  Her teachers and a friend who works there said all is well.  She also shared with me her brother gave her lots of hugs yesterday.  I'm so proud of him for doing so and proud of her for this week of growing.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

1st Day Of Kindergarten


The day went mostly well.

She was happy, excited, everything was fine.

And then everything was not.

I have no pictures of that part of the day.

Because she was glued to my lap.

There were too many grown ups and too many things where you had to put yourself out there.

So she held my hand and I walked with her as she turned over her name card.

When they played the game with their favorite stuffed animal she whispered in my ear so I could share her pony's name, Sparkly.

These are the moments my heart hurts for her.

But this is her and God made her this way.

I'm sensitive to the way she feels because I was the very same way at her age.

I get it and I also know there's a world of energy and thoughts and ideas and creativity swirling around inside her mind.  

She's just careful when and to whom she lets them out.  She needs to feel safe and comfortable.  And today right away just didn't feel safe.

I know she won't always feel this way.  Or perhaps a small part of her will, but she'll push past it as I've learned to do.  

But don't we all get slightly nervous when we have to speak in front of a group of strangers.  I think different personalities just handle things in different ways.

So today she snuggled into mom and held my hand because it made her feel safe.

I think the hard part for me will be wondering if she feels like she needs my hand tomorrow and the next day, but I won't be there.

But this is part of life and learning and growing.  And she has four amazing teachers who will be there to hold her hand to help her and she'll learn that people outside of your family will reach out to you and become your friend.


The day ended better again.  Playing on the bike, the swing, running to say hi to an older girl who is a friend because her big brother is friends with Ava's brother.  It helps to have a big brother at school. 

 
Oh man how I wished I had one when I was growing up.  But she does.  They are so lucky.  Sometimes they know it.  Sometimes they don't.  No matter what I hope and pray they always look out for each other and know how blessed they are to have one another.  
 
 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back To School Celebration


I have to completely give credit to Stephanie Nielson for this idea.  I've followed her blog for a couple of years now.  She's an amazing woman and mother.  I admire her determination to do all she can for her kids.

My middle daughter Ava starts kindergarten tomorrow.  A couple of weeks ago I shared this idea of having a Back To School Party.  They all love parties and heartily agreed it sounded like a great idea.

They're like me and love the idea of a theme.  I let Ava take the lead since this is her kindergarten year.  She wanted an Under the Sea theme with mermaids and seahorses. 

Great I thought.  So we dug out our kid cookbooks and I said ok, you guys get to come up with the menu.

They looked at all the pictures and came up with fruit salad, seaweed, sushi, pita sandwiches, oh and rootbeer floats. 

I totally spaced on that one when I made up the menu last night... I thought we said smoothies.  They made sure to correct me today while we were out shopping for the things we still needed.


I was going to draw up some designs for the menu and decorations, but Ava beat me to the punch.  
I LOVED what she came up with so we scanned the drawings and I used them for the menu and she taped them around to decorate the table and window.  Her crown with the glitter designs and adorable mermaid are so much more memorable than anything I would have done.  She was so excited planning and getting ready.  And quite honestly I love that they did it mostly all themselves.  
I was just there to help.  

Jackson's crown is based of Aquos the water sign from a game he likes to play.  Audrey did make a crown, but it hurt she said and since she is a 'real' princess the princess crown was more appropriate.

The thing they were most excited about was making our own sushi.  We never have. 


I got the bamboo rolling thing at World Market.  While we were there I found cute little chopsticks made easy for kids.  Oh and the chalkboards for their names.  Daddy's name card had to say "King" of course. 


That's what he is called morning till night by our princess who is 'real' not pretend.  And as you guessed, I am the Queen.

We chose a theme scripture for the school year, 
"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, 
but with actions and in truth."  
1 John 3:18

To us this scripture is going deeper, to the heart.  It's easy to say I love you.  It takes more from you to show it in action.  We want to encourage them to be slow to anger, helpful, appreciative of what they have, and of the people in their lives.   

As parents we want to lead by example showing that it's important to give of yourself, your time and resources.  That these are ways to show the love of Jesus to others.  One of the hardest things I think for kids to understand is that it's important to do for others even, and especially when we don't feel like it.  So these are some of our intentional goals to focus on this year.

But today it was all about the celebration of a new school year. 

I am excited for them, but am slightly sentimental tonight as I think of my little Ava Grace going to kindergarten.  How is it possible this day has come?  I pray for her a year full of growth, health, learning and new friendships.  I pray she'll hold onto her creativity and blossom in confidence.  I pray most of all she'll grow in her love for Jesus and always find her strength and identity in Him.