30 September 2010

"These are a few of my favorite things!"

My FAVORITE Person in the world, my John
One of my favorite "pick me up" songs is from the movie The Sound of Music!  I love when Maria has all the children in her room and they are dancing and singing and jumping on the bed during a thunder storm naming all of their favorite things!  It's so true that when you focus on the positive you can't get dragged down by the negative (which Sat*n would just love for us to be negative and grumpy and complaining).  This week has been a rainy week and we've been singing, "Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, please shine down on me!"  Poor Julia keeps asking to go to the park, and I want to also!  Today we did see the sun, finally!  But, here are a few of my favorite things...

Me and My FAVORITE son
Mark's red hair, and toothy smile!
My FAVORITE daughter Julia and her blue eyes
Julia's curls, and the Fall leaves
Red roses
Long walks and lazy days spent with loved ones
Watching my daughter play with her cousins and my grandma
Fall flowers picked by my JULIA
Listening to the ocean waves and watching the kids play with Daddy
A favorite thing of mine is Grandma time

All these things make me smile, make me relax, and make me happy to be Kristi.  I feel blessed when I take the time to think of all my favorite things and all the blessings God has given me.  I hope they make you smile too, what are some of your favorite things???

29 September 2010

The Power of a Praying Wife Chapter 18: His Fatherhood

Children's children are the crown of old men, and the glory of children is their father.  Proverbs 17:6

Chapter 18: His Fatherhood

Stormie Omartian shared in this chapter that her own husband shared that one of his greatest fears was not being a good enough father.

I'm guessing a lot of parents feel this way, especially dads who spend most of their days at work, they may feel they haven't done enough with their children or (as kids grow to teenagers) that they haven't imparted enough wisdom.

Stormie says, "Thoughts of failure and inadequacy are what cause so many fathers to give up, leave, become overbearing from trying too hard, or develop a passive attitude and fade into the background of their children's lives."  I don't know about you, but even mom's have their share of inadequacy thoughts and fears.  We get overwhelmed and overworked and wonder where the reward is of giving up so much and putting so much effort into the little things to make everyone happy.  Here's where prayer comes in!

Babe, you are a great dad!
Stormie says, "Prayer can help them (fathers) gain a clear perspective of what it means to be a good father, and open the door to the Holy Spirit guidance on how to handle the parenting challenges that arise."  As parents we all need wisdom and guidance in raising our children.  We all need a clear perspective on what it means to be a good parent.

"The best way for a man to be a good father is to get to know his heavenly Father and learn to imitate Him."  We all need to understand and know "our Father's heart" so we can show that love to our own children.

This week let's pray that:
*Our husbands grow into a greater understanding of his heavenly Father's love.
*Our husbands will be healed from any misconceptions they have in their heart and mind about love. (especially if they grew up in a home that did not model godly parents)
*Our husbands will be good fathers.
*Give them a hunger to really know You as their heavenly father.
*Allow them to spend quality time in God's presence.
*Help them to balance mercy, judgment, and instruction the way God does.
*Pray that we (husband and wife) will be united in the way we should train our child/children.
*May he require and inspire his children to honor and obey him so they will have long and blessed lives.  (I love this one!)

Kristi's Love Dare:
Sit down with your spouse and go over your goals for your children.  Pray about your parenting together.

28 September 2010

Be a blessing

Julia picked these flowers all by herself.  What a blessing!
Today is Ladies Bible Study and even though I am not teaching today (Gina and I alternate weeks) my goal is to bless someone in the group somehow.  Isn't today a great day to bless someone?  Isn't it great that we can step out of our own little world and go into the life of someone else and somehow reach in and touch them by something we do or say?  I'm praying that God will allow this group to really grow closer to each other and the Lord and that we can in turn bless others.  Be a blessing today...

27 September 2010

Mark at 16 months

I'm extremely funny!
Watch out people, you are in store for one very cute boy!

My Mark is 16 months old today and he is doing SO many wonderful, "grown up" things now!

Mark can now say "football, cracker, hot and cookie!"  And he says FOOTBALL with two hands in the air making a field goal, it's quite cute.

My 2 year old daughter Julia is teaching Mark lots of baby sign words and she practices with him in the car and throughout the day...he signs, "Baby, ball, more, please, and mommy."

I don't need a pacifier anymore!
Mark began walking on July 1st, I stopped breastfeeding him soon after that, and sometime in August we gave up the pacifier too!  But Mark still has his trusty thumb.  We are walking and running now!  Julia and Mark line up at the wall, and Julia says, "Ready, set, go!"  And before she gets to go they both are off and running...they love to run and chase each other!

Mark can ride all of his cars and train at home now.

Mark is such a big boy and knows how to climb on his cars and train and use his feet to go all over the house and play on the deck outside.  He's quite the climber.  No longer does he sit with me on a blanket at the park, he is climbing just like Julia up the steps on the bridges and around the jungle gym and loves, loves, loves the slides.  He gets very upset if I try to take him off or help him...as if to say, "Mom I'm a big boy now!"

I'm hysterical

What we enjoy best about Marky boy is his comical sense of humor.  This kid will mimic any hand motion or sound and keep doing it until he gets a laugh.  He loves the attention and he loves being funny.  He reminds me of John in this respect because he's quite the comic.

I'm learning right alongside Julia
On our field trip to the Terhune Orchards in Princeton, Julia was allowed to hold scissors and we cut flowers together.  I was pushing Mark in the carriage, but not to be left out of our program as we walked along, he was picking his own flowers as we went (mostly grass and weeds, but he was very proud).  He amazes me all the time and lets me know, "Hey mom, I know how to do this too, I understand!"

My climber, my good eater, and my favorite boy
Marky you are my favorite son! (only moms with one son can say this, Lol)  You are growing so fast and so well, and I am super proud!  You continue to amaze us and put smiles on our faces and we enjoy your little personality.  We love you!

26 September 2010

Christ-Like Love

Yesterday (today it is Wednesday as I type) Pastor Joe, my pastor since 5 years of age, called me to tease me about an email I sent him (I was recently hacked and emails were sent out to everyone on my list...about via*ra of all things....so embarrassing, and so not my fault, but kind of funny, looking back) and to ask me to speak at the end of Sunday's sermon.

It was an honor to be asked, and I know part of the reason is Pastor Joe knows the kind of marriage John and I have, and that in and of itself is a blessing, and part of it is he knows I don't mind getting up in front to speak.

He asked four of us (four women) to give some examples of how our husband demonstrates Christ-Like love towards us...okay this was so easy for me, and I was excited to even think about the answers, then I realized how many answers I had and how would I narrow it down and just pick a few?

But God is good and there are some memories of things that John has done that just really stand out, and that is what I plan on sharing in church on Sunday!  As you read this it will be Sunday, and so I'm hoping you'll pray for us that our words would be clear and honor not only our spouses but those around us.  And pray that my Marky doesn't cry too much without me in the nursery since I have to speak twice in both services.

John being my support during labor with Mark.
Love is unconditional: One memory that sticks out in my mind is the way that John selflessly supported me through the birth of both our children.  He was with me every moment, holding my hand, rubbing my back, saying encouraging words, and rooting for me to deliver the way I wanted to.  He believed in me and knew I had the strength to do it and he just loved me by being at my side.  To me that is what Christ like love is...it is unconditional, it believes in the best in the person, and it never gives up.  I was probably at my worst, and not the sweetest person or most lovely to look at, but John in his own tenderness and love treated me like a queen and it was then that I knew that I couldn't have gone through all of that without him.  I needed him and he was there.  His love wasn't conditional or based upon what my outside appearance was...He loved me unconditionally and made a choice to help me no matter what.  Love is unconditional!

Our trip to London

 Love is sacrificial.  When I was 4 months pregnant with Julia we were in London vacationing before we were about to head out to study at Oxford under the apologetic Ravi Zacharias team.  There was a recent bombing in one of the airports and there was a sense of uncertainty in the air.  I can remember feeling a bit timid walking the streets of London and watching the news in our hotel room.  But that evening after touring all day, and being newly pregnant and all, I had a craving for a buttered roll, now it didn't matter that there was a recent bombing or that it was 11 oclock at night, or that John didn't know what stores were open, I NEEDED a buttered roll, and I needed it now!  So, John got out of bed and went out into the dangerous streets of London, and within 30 minutes or so I had a buttered roll!  (It's not my fault, the baby needed it)  Now that is love.  Love is sacrificial!

John has also demonstrated Christ like love towards me in the manner in the way he plans a surprise.  I can think of many surprises that he has blessed me with that have been extravagant.  Jesus loves us in an extravagant way and He demonstrated that when He died for us on the cross.  He went to the full extent, and suffered and died and then rose again!  His love is extravagant!  He did all of that so that we can be with Him and have a restored relationship with God.

Love is extravagant.  John surprised me by our 2nd year of marriage he took me and my parents to Europe for the first time!  He took us to a trip to Rome!  He planned everything, and not only did he bless me with this gift but he blessed my family as well.  He picked a great hotel for us to stay at, he planned all our excursions (even though we called him the tour nazi) and then he lavished us extravagantly while in Rome.  My mom got to see Degas artwork and sculputures one of her favorite artists and we all got to experience life in Europe for 10 days!  We went to the Vatican, saw the Sistina Chapel (I fainted...that's another story!) walked the Spanish steps, visited the Fountain de Trevi, saw the Colosseum, The Pantheon, St. Peter's Basillica, it was amazing!

Christmas 2004

Love is costly.  Since I have been a stay at home mom our vacations have been fewer and farther between and closer to home, which is totally understandable and fine, but John always makes it a point to take me away for the weekend during our anniversary to Cape May,  one of my favorite places in new jersey.  John calls Cape May "girl land" because of the Victorian homes, bed and breakfasts, and all the fun shops...its such a treat when we get to go there and I'm sure he'd much rather save a couple of hundred dollars and stay at home but he does it simply to make me smile and bless me.  (He says I have the best and biggest smile every time we go there)  Love is sometimes costly.

Cape May

I'm truly blessed with a godly husband who is not only faithful and loving but one who continues to shower me with unconditional, sacrificial, and extravagant love!  Thank you babe!  You demonstrate Christ like love all the time to me!

24 September 2010

Fall Fun...Great things ahead!

I am so thankful for Fall this year!  There are so many great opportunities to serve and minister to others and I'm getting really used to our Home School schedule with the kids, and enjoying teaching my little ones!  I didn't realize how much I would love being the first one to share all the Bible stories with Julia and Mark!  But it's so exciting to introduce them to new people in the Bible and reread stories I haven't read in awhile!  The message is clear, we humans are sinful, disobedient people who need a loving and gracious Savior!

*This Fall I am so glad to have started teaching and ministering to a wonderful group of ladies at my church!  There were 18 of us on Tuesday, and I know of more who plan to come and read The Confident Woman with us!

*Being on the Ladies Ministry Team I am also excited to help plan and coordinate our Secret Encourager program!  It will begin in October through January, and the revealing will be on Friday, Feb 4th!  This has always been one of my favorite ladies programs because you get to secretly encourage another woman at church, send her letters, gifts, etc, and then there is a big gathering revealing time when you find out who has been encouraging you and your person finds out who you are!  We ironed out all the details last night, and Gina and I get to match the people this year!!! I'm so excited!

*Our Women's Retreat to Harvey Cedars this year will be Oct 1-3rd (I'm only going Saturday and Sunday) which is in Long Beach Island!  We are having an awesome speaker this year and we are learning all about our Spiritual Gifts and how to use them!  We had to fill out this long test beforehand and we will be using the results on the retreat!  I love stuff like this!  There will be about 45 women from our church going!  Last night we put together the favors, and let me just say, they are quite yummy and cute!  I'm thankful for John watching the kids all day Saturday and part of Sunday so that I can go.  I'm rooming with my friend Marian!  She also has two kids, Brodee is 5 and Melanee is Julia's age, they are a week apart!  At the retreat we will be going to our classes, swimming, playing volleyball, and enjoying home cooked meals that someone else has cooked!  I'm looking forward to that weekend to just be alone with God and asking Him what He wants me to do with my gifts specifically this year!

*I'm thankful for such a great God and feel really blessed with my family of four.  God continues to provide and shower us with love.  I'm excited to see what He has in store for us this year!

23 September 2010

My best friend, my sister

Today my sister sara turns 24!

I just posted 24 reasons why I love her so much on her Facebook page, a lot of them are inside jokes and things only she would know and understand, and that's just how I like it.  Because between sisters there is a bond that goes deeper than friendship.  You find yourself looking in the mirror at times, you've experienced so much together and just for that you are bonded for life.  But when you have a sister you also have someone to share all of life's blessings with, someone who loves you no matter what you look like on the outside, hair brushed or a a mess, it doesn't matter, your sister has seen it all and she just loves you no matter what.

Thanksgiving 2009
 Sara and I have been close from the start.  I've always tried to be there for her and sometimes I even tried to "mother" her especially when I worried too much.  But we've always spoken honestly to each other and we have always felt similarly about things in our life.  We've always shared a love for fashion and shopping, and a hot cup of coffee, and we always enjoyed a good chick flick.  When we were younger we would go to see a movie every Christmas Day together.  Just the two of us.  I can remember watching lots of Julia Roberts movies with her and enjoying her company.  Sara is easy to love, and she is fun, and she is the easiest person to buy a gift for because she likes everything, and always makes you feel good about what you got her!

Happy Birthday, my Sara...I love you, love you, love you!

You! You! You!

I can't wait to spend Friday with you!

22 September 2010

The Power of a Praying Wife Chapter 17: His Relationships

John in the stripes with a bunch of our friends (Hechs & Wurths)!
Chapter 17: His Relationships

"Isolation is not healthy.  We all need the influence of good people to keep us on the right path."

Once John started seeking Christ we got heavily involved in Bible study at church, and the first thing I prayed about was for godly men to surround John to hold him accountable.  I knew that becoming a Christian is no easy task when all your friends are worldly, and so the first thing I did was recruit a strong Christian man whom was more like a father figure to me (Bill Weaver)  I asked Bill to come alongside John and answer any questions he may have.  And sure enough within weeks Bill and John became good friends and once John committed his life to Christ you could find them meeting weekly to read the Word together.

Bill and Christy Weaver and our families.
Stormie says, "Every married couple should have at least two strong believing couples with whom they can share encouragement, strength, and the richness of their lives."

This has proven to be the best thing we could have done for our marriage.  Not only have we sought out godly couples to mentor us, but God has allowed these couples to become our family.  The Coyles, The DiMares, The Guevaras, The Weavers, The Hechs, these are all couples that we look up to and admire.  They love the Lord and are seeking to honor Him not only in their marriages but in their daily lives.  It is a blessing to get together with them and be able to not only share our faith but share our struggles and prayer requests.  These are families who love us and support us at birthdays, and births, holidays, and lazy days.  We can call or text any time of the day and know that they are available.  They are the first to  hear about our problems, and the first to hear about our joys (I can still remember calling them or visiting them to tell them about our pregnancies) .

"Being around such people is edifying, enriching, balancing, and fulfilling, and it helps us keep perspective when things seem to grow out of proportion."

Rosemarie Dimare and Mark
Having godly friends surround you and give you their wisdom and experience is priceless!  I'm so thankful for all the couples God has placed in our lives at just the right time!

"We much pray that such people will come into our lives."  "We should also pray the bad influences away.  The Bible says we must "not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers." (2 Corinthians 6:14)

This doesn't mean that we can't reach out into the world and share the gospel, or get close to unbelievers, this means we should not become so close to them that our lives and attitudes can't be distinguished.  We are to be in the world but not OF the world.  We need to pray that we choose our friends wisely.  I've been praying for Mark and Julia since birth that God will surround them with godly friends and that they will choose their friends WISELY, because "bad company corrupts good morals."

The Weavers

"Pray also for your husband to have godly male friends, and when he finds them, give him time to be with them without criticism."  

Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." 

When John tells me he has lunch or golf with one of his friends like Bill, or Adam, or Steve, or John, or Ev, I am happy because I know these godly men will sharpen each other and John will be blessed by his time with them.  Even if sometimes I would much rather him home with me!  We all need friends and our time with them should not be a time of guilt, but we should be able to freely enjoy their company!

Me and my Christy

"Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man's friend does so by hearty counsel." Proverbs 27:9

How about you?  Do you have godly female friends that bless you, encourage you, and give you hearty counsel?  Oh my, I sure hope so!  I would not have survived the beginning stages of motherhood without my godly female friends.  I'm so thankful, and I continue to pray for wise women in my life to guide me and show me how to be a godly wife and mother.  But did you ever notice that it is MUCH easier for us females to find godly friends than it is for our spouses?  When John first became a Christian 9 years ago, the first thing he had to do was separate himself from a lot of his ungodly friends, now do you see why I prayed so hard for him to have godly friends?  I knew I couldn't be his only Christian friend.  I knew he needed male godly role models to look to.  And God was so faithful to provided friends, and still is.  Just recently in NYC God has provided godly men to cross John's path and allowed us to be close to these couples as a family.  God can provide godly friends in the strangest of places!

Let's pray for them this week!

*Pray for all of your husband's relationships.
*Pray that none of his relationships be marred by an inability to forgive.
*Pray for him to have good, godly male friends with whom he can openly share his heart.
*May these men be of wisdom who will speak truth into his life.
*Give him the discernment to separate himself from anyone who will not be a good influence (1 Cor 5:13)

 Love Dare:

Encourageyour spouse to hang out with one of his good friends and put the time on the calendar so he is sure to remember and keep it and look forward to it!

21 September 2010

Ladies Bible Study Begins

This Fall I am teaching The Confident Woman by Joyce Meyer to a group of ladies at my church!

God has certainly used this book to bless my life, when I bought it and read it last year, and I have been praying that the women who come will also be blessed and encouraged as much as I was!

I already have 25 women signed up and I am excited to begin!  We start at 9:30 a.m., sit and chat and enjoy some breakfast together til 10am and then we will review the assigned chapters!

This week I have some fun ice breaker activities and then we will delve into chapters 1 & 2, and next week Gina Lang will do Chapter 3.  Gina and I will be alternating the chapters every other week, and some weeks we have combined chapters so that we will conclude before Christmas!

I've been praying that God will put just that right combination of women and personalities together for a great time of learning and sharing, and I know He has great things in store for us!

Last year I did The Confident Woman chapter by chapter on Book Club Thursday...see Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 to see what we will be going over in class!

Pray for us!  We want to be confident women for Christ!

20 September 2010

So Proud

John and Stuart McCallister (speaker and apologist working for Ravi Zacharias)
This past Sunday my husband John (on the left) spoke in his Sunday School class and I finally got to sit in on it for a few moments.  Normally I teach K-5 Sunday School, but this week I didn't and it was awesome to be able to see my husband lead his class and show his passion for the Lord.

It's one of those things where you just can't help but to be proud.  I just watched him speak, answer questions, give information (the class is his favorite subject Apologetics, which is how to defend your faith...this is his specialty at seminary school).  And just seeing how much he has grown in the past 9 years is truly amazing!

God is so faithful and so good!  I was so proud of my John and I know he has great things in store for his class.  He already had to be moved to a larger room because the chapel room was too small to hold all the adults!  I thought maybe it was my baking (which I believe does help) but it is John's fire for the Lord that excites people and draws people in.  He already told his class that this is not one of those "sit and soak" type classes!  He told them that they will be putting into practice what they learn, and we will be not only praying for our "top ten" people in our life whom we want to see come to Christ, but we will be taking steps to talk to them about the Lord, if we haven't already done so, and we will be sharing with them why we love Jesus and why we chose to follow Him.

I only wish I could go to every class!  But I'm excited for John and so glad that he has had this opportunity to minister!  He's doing a great job, and I'm one proud wife over here!

I'm going to challenge you to create your own "Top Ten" list.  Make a list of ten people who come first to your mind and whom you want to see become a Christian.  Pray for them and begin to ask God for opportunities that you can minister to them, meet their physical needs (bringing over a meal if they are sick, writing an encouraging letter, spending time with them) and ultimately talk to them about their relationship with the Lord.  We can't live in fear about sharing our faith, and we can't be in a Christian bubble never venturing out into the "world", it is our job to share the "hope that is in us," and be able to "give an answer" to the questions that they may have about why we believe what we do.

I made my list...8 people so far!  And I'm already diligently working on my #1!!!

I'm so proud of you John!  You inspire me to tell others about my faith and be bold about it!

Who are you praying for?  Why do you love them so much? Jesus Conversation Update?  Do Something: Ministry!  (WWJD)  John made this acronym up...see I told you he is awesome!

15 September 2010

The Power of a Praying Wife Chapter 16: His Priorities

Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Chapter 16: His Priorities

Whenever we are looking to our husbands to change in one area, we first have to look at ourselves and make sure we line up with God's Word.  So, this chapter, although we may be quick to judge and criticize other people and their priorities, I think we should start with ourselves.  As a stay at home mom, it can be easy to say or assume that my priorities are totally perfect and well balanced because anyone with kids knows that children, especially babies, have needs that must be cared for 24/7, and so a mother often does put others before herself, and in today's world a mother is like a god if she puts her child first because of the sacrificial love and the hard work mothering entails, but...according to God's Word are we to put our children first?  As wives, God is our number 1 priority, and our number 2 priority is our husband, and likewise for our husbands.  Our children are our number 3 priority, now for those of you with little ones, yes there are things like changing diapers, making meals, etc, but that we can still do things to show our spouse that they are a priority in our life.

Stormie states, that in today's busy world we can be consumed with, "work, home, friends, projects, interests, and activities....it's hard, in the midst of everything that occupies your time and attention, not to allow your spouse to fall down on the list--or at least feel as though he/she has."

She suggested that to make your spouse feel they are a priority in your life you can (sometimes it's not the quantity of time, but rather the quality of time)...

*greet them with a smile first thing in the morning instead of grumbling to "go make the coffee"
*let him know you are praying for him and ask for specific prayer requests
*Ask, "Is there anything I can do for you today?"
*plan a date night or a weekend get away
*check in on him periodically throughout the day

Stormie says, "Priorities have to do with the position in the heart."

When John and I first got married we were both working full time, which meant I left the house by 6:30 in the morning and came home at 3:30-4pm and John went to work at 3:30 or 4:00 til 9pm...we had horrifically opposite schedules, which meant we missed each other A LOT!  What did we do to show each other that we missed each other and that we wanted to spend time together and that we loved the other person?  Well, some of the things I'm about to list we got a lot of flack for from friends AND family, but you know what, we DID NOT care, or let it bother us, because we knew for our marriage to stay strong we needed to make each other a priority, not friends, not other family members (The Bible says to leave and cleave and we took that literally) and not work.

1. We did not take phone calls after 9pm...we told all our loved ones in advance the reason why, and we said that our time at home after 9pm, unless it was an EMERGENCY (John's sister once called him at 2am to come kill a bug for her...not an emergency, but very funny) was to be respected.  It took a while for some of our loved ones to get it, but I think ultimately they realized we were not trying to be mean, but trying to set a boundary for our "new family".

2. Weekends were sacred...listen, I actually wrote out the amount of hours I saw John throughout the week and it was a sad number...so weekends, even though John had Taekwondo til 1pm on Saturdays, we made sure we were TOGETHER on the weekend, especially on Sundays...Saturdays we would share the day with friends and family but Sundays were usually just us, and those were really special.  I have some great memories of our Sunday outings after church...we would go to Le Peep for brunch after church, head home for a leisurely nap, go to Princeton for a stroll, or go see a movie, go to NY for a museum trip...it was awesome!  I always knew I was a priority to John.  He never said I'm going out with my friends, or I'm going golfing, he had plenty of time to do that during the day during the week, I always knew weekends were saved for me and vice versa!

3. We shared each others hobbies...John took up scrapbooking our vacations with me, and I tried Taekwondo for a bit, we also shared ministry time together, we volunteered Sunday nights at youth group and we started our own "youth group" with the teens at Taekwondo.  Working and having fun along side each other we got to see each others strengths and weakness.

4. Texting wasn't an option back then (I don't think) but John would call and leave messages throughout the day to me to let me know he was thinking of me.  Sometimes he would even "show up" at my classroom door, and would get a bunch of squeals from my students and a big smile from me!  In the evenings since the Taekwondo school was down the road from our Townhouse I would sometimes drop by, especially on Fridays and Saturdays, just to say hello and see him in his element!  I loved seeing John instruct a class and wear his uniform! 

5. Planning vacations became one of John's delights.  He would always plan a vacation for the week during Christmas break and another for during the summer, usually around our anniversary.  Pastor Joe told us during pre-marital counseling the importance of being alone as a couple, even for just an over night stay.  It just rejuvenates your love for one another.  But the time and effort that John would take to pick the best hotel, and find the nicest restaurants, and decide on our daily excursions, it took a lot of love and time and it meant a lot to me to know he did that.

6. At 9pm when John walked in the door, I was available to him.  We usually would stay up and watch a show together while he ate, but we always caught up with each other's day and we were always in the same room.  This was a sacrifice on my part, because honestly, I wanted to be in bed by 9pm.  I was exhausted from the day of teaching, coming home to clean/cook and food shop and all I wanted to do by 9pm was drop, but I made my John a priority because how would he feel if I was asleep when he came home, or dinner wasn't made, or I had nothing to say to him?  I missed him and I wanted him to know so.

I'm finding that life was definitely simpler then, without children in the mix!  I could focus all my care on John, but now I do need to pray that God helps me to balance my priority between John and the kids.  Sometimes I do feel torn.  First and foremost I have to be sure that I have God as my main priority.

1. Do I have a set quiet time with the Lord?  Do I keep it?
2. Have I prayed?
3. Do I bring all my worries, concerns and requests to God or just blab to friends?
4. Do I pray first for wisdom on a situation or seek out a friend first?
5. Do I keep the Sabbath day holy? (I don't just mean do I drag my family to church and show up...I mean do I really have a humble spirit at church?)

Have you ever noticed that if your priority with God isn't straight that your other relationships probably are out of whack too?

This week let's pray that...

Pray that your husband always puts God first, you second, and your children third.
Pray that we can show our husbands that they have an important position in our hearts.
Pray that we will prioritize our time and that nothing frivolous will occupy our time.
Pray that the Lord will be Ruler in our hearts.
Pray we Seek God First.

This week's LOVE DARE... 

Surprise your husband at work if possible!  bring a special treat (John would always bring brownies for my students!  He became known as the Brownie Guy :))

14 September 2010

Baking with your Preschooler from A-Z

Our Field trip to Terhune Farms in Princeton was awesome today!  We couldn't have had a better sunny, Fall day.  The people at Terhune's Read and Pick program were kind, funny, expressive, lovely, and great story tellers!  Julia and Mark had so much fun listening to two story books about growing flowers.  They had to act out farm animals and act out how to grow flowers.  We had to be the sun, and a cloud for rain, and seeds, it was awesome!  Then Julia was allowed to use toddler scissors and cut her own choice of flowers in the BIG garden they had.  We loved the butterflies and all the beauituful flowers!  We were allowed to pick 10 flowers, it was a great counting experience too!

Today, while vegging out and watching a movie with the kids, I got a great idea to use baking and cooking with the kids for each letter of the Alphabet (We do two letters a week...this week is G, and H)  If you come up with any additional ideas, I'd love for you to post them on my blog, sometimes I have brain freeze!  Here's what I came up with...and I'm looking forward to O...because I love Oatmeal cookies and we just bought a huge box at Costco!

I love the idea of baking and cooking with your kids because kids love to help, they love to get messy, and they love to stand on a stool next to mommy wearing their own apron!  It is a lot of fun and it's fun to practice hygiene skills too!

A-Anything with Apples (apple slices, apple pie, apple bread), Apricot Muffins
B-Banana bread, or banana muffins, blueberry muffins, biscuits, brownies
C-Carrot cake, corn muffins, chocolate chip cookies, celery sticks with cream cheese, cupcakes
D-Dunkin Donuts (take a fun outing and go for a donut with your sweetie)
E-Egg salad, Egg slices
F-French Toast, Fruit Salad
G-Green Eggs and Ham (We read the book this week too!)
H-hot cocoa with marshmallows or whip-cream, Hawaiian Pizza (add pineapple chunks)
I-Ice Cream Sundaes
K-Kid Kabobs (cubes of meat, cheese, and chunks of veggies on wooden tooth picks)
L-Lemonade (kids love to help stir in the sugar and ice)
M-Muffins, Macaroni and Cheese, Meatballs
O-Oatmeal Cookies, Orange slices
P-Peanut butter sandwiches or peanut butter cookies, homemade Pizza, Pizza bagels, Pancakes
R-Raspberry muffins, Rice Krispy Treats
S-soup or stew (have them help you add the ingredients in bowl or pan), S'mores (graham crackers, chocolate, and melted marshmallows)
T-Tacos, Trail Mix
W-Watermelon slices

Come on you creative moms and friends, if you see a missing letter, help me fill it with your great idea!

13 September 2010

The funny side of parenthood

As I type it is Sunday afternoon...Julia is napping and Mark is playing with John's camera...and John is back at church to find out a new classroom for his Sunday school class (He had 36 people show and some had to leave due to lack of space/chairs...it was definitely the chocolate cupcakes...just kidding)

It was a busy weekend, with lots of hard and stressful moments, but plenty of funny ones too.  Life with two toddlers always has lots of extremely funny moments, so here is a look back over the past few months and days with our kids, moments that will keep us smiling for days to come.

*Today we took the kids to Le Peep after church for lunch and on the way home Julia announced she had to use the potty...we pulled over I opened up the trunk and sat her on her pink potty (I wish she would've told me in the restaurant) and then she tells me she has to poop!  Oh, no! Not on the pink potty, in the car, pee is one thing to clean up after...so John jumps out to my rescue and takes off his shoe and hands me his sock???? "Honey, what is that for?"  (I had no more wipes from church and Mark's 3 dirty diapers)  "A sock is can be used just in case!"  He replies.  Then Julia says, "no poopy, just pee!"  Thank heavens, would you want to use a sock???

*Julia annouced, after using the Dunkin Donuts rest room, to a cute pair of older women sitting at a table drinking coffee and eating muffins, "I did poop on the potty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"  The two old ladies snickered and had a good laugh, while mommy gave Julia a "privacy talk" about how we don't share with others what we do in the bathroom and that it's private, not news!  Can I say, embarrassing?  I told John once we got in the car and he thought it was hysterical!

*In the car Julia sings a song to me that sounds like this, "Whatcha doin' mom, you drivin???" And she repeats it over and over and over, even John put it to a beat and sings it to her when he drives.

*Julia and Mark play off of each other now, so Julia may hop, and then she goes, "Marky, you do it." and mark tries to hop.  Julia may, go "AAAAHHH," while she throws her arms back to be silly, and she goes, "Marky you do it," and just like Simon Says, he does it exactly how she did it...it is hysterical.  I guess because you don't expect a 15 month old to understand so perfectly, but these two are peas in a pod!

*At my mom's house yesterday, Marky and I visited while Julia and daddy stayed home, and Mark was so excited to get to be the center of attention (usually Miss Julia takes that place since she talks so well) and so he really wanted to get my mom's attention to have some ice tea in his cup and a pretzel, and he did the biggest sign for "please" over and over on his tummy, my mom couldn't get over it.  He thought it was pretty funny too.

*During "Finding Nemo" Julia and I love the part when Marlin and Dory sing, "We did it, We did it, oh yeah, yeah, yeah, no eating here tonight, eating here tonight!"  We laugh and dance and sing around the whole basement!  Marky doesn't sing but he cracks up and dances with us.

Have a happy Monday my friends!  We are off to home school and then go to our Library craft class!

12 September 2010

Joseph is Doing Great!

Thank you for all your prayers for Cinzia's son Jojo!  I found out this morning that the tube to drain his lungs is removed, he's walking around his room finally (when I visited Thursday he still wasn't walking around) and he could go home as soon as Sunday!!!

God is so good!  Thank you for all your prayers!!!

11 September 2010

Saturday Recipe Swap--Sunday Oven Pot Roast

We went shopping for the roast and potatoes today and tomorrow I am (it's Friday night as I type) breaking out my crock pot!  I have two girls in addition to my two kids to babysit for, and Saturday is a big chore day for me anyway, so I decided to keep tomorrow's dinner an easy one, and I'm hoping there will be leftovers for Sunday! After all, it makes 6-8 servings.

2 1/2 to 3 pound boneless beef chuck pot roast
salt and pepper

14 oz can beef broth
1 large onion chopped
2 stalks of celery, cut into 2 inch lengths
5 cups of assorted veg...(potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, whole shallots, garlic bulbs, etc...I"m sticking with carrots and Yukon gold potatoes)

For Gravy:
1/4 cup water
3 tbsp all purpose flour

Place vegetables in crock pot. Trim fat from meat.  Sprinkle the roast with salt and pepper. Cut roast to fit crock pot if necessary.  Place the roast on top of the vegetables.  Add beef broth.  Cover and cook on low heat for 9-11 hours or High heat for 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours.  Remove meat and vegetables from crock pot to serve...but save the liquid to make a gravy!  See below:

To make a gravy with the juices:
Using a slotted spoon, transfer meat and vegetables to a serving platter.  For gravy, place pan juices in a glass measuring cup; skim off any fat.  Discard enough pan juices or add enough water to equal 1 1/2 cups.  In a medium sauce pan whisk together the 1/4 cup water and the flour until well combined.  Add the 1 1/2 cups pan juices.  Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly; cook and stir for 1 minute more.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve gravy over meat and vegetables!

And this is just my thought for tomorrow, I'm going to make a lb of egg noodles to go with the vegetables because I know the kids love them and they are nice and tender...and of course some Italian bread!

Have a great Fall weekend!!!

10 September 2010

Home School Recap 9/10/10

We like to end our week with a fun treat and movie night!
This week we had a shortened week due to Labor Day, but even though Tuesdays I normally don't "teach" I still did a quick few lessons before our Well Visit for Marky.  (Marky is now 15 months old, 21lbs and 30 inches tall!!!)

This week we learned in Bible Time about The Tower of Babel, and all about Abraham and Sarah, and Isacc.  My favorite day was yesterday when Julia insisted the baby Abraham and Sarah were holding was baby Jesus. Julia's verse for the week was Ephesians 6:1 "Children Obey your parents in the Lord for this is right."  I chose this verse for this week because of the letters in the word OBEY and also because Julia has been testing me A LOT.  She has started to delay her "sorry" and sometimes even looks away when I reprimand her, and so I continue to be faithful even though it is so hard and embarrassing at times.  It seems her bad behavior escalates around company, as if the same rules don't apply, which they do.  So, I'm sure your prayer list is packed, but if you think of us, pray for me for wisdom (I read a Proverbs chapter daily because I need wisdom soooooooooooo much).  I love my Julia and I just want her to have a soft, tender heart for Jesus. 

During our Lanugage Arts time we learned about the letters E, and F and we played with our new Leap Frog toy that Aunt Paletza (Litsa is what Julia calls her) bought her.  It's so cool.  It has all 26 letters on white magnets, you pop the magnet in (good for fine motor skills) and then it says the letter, the sounds it makes and a cute little song from the Letter Factory DVD!  Mark loves it, and Julia and I keep reviewing the letters we learned already.  I don't know why she insists that the letter B is the letter O though!  Guess we will keep working! LOL  She caught on well to the E and F and had to show our realtor Rick who visits weekly all about her letter, how she painted them, and the fish she colored.  I love how proud she is.

Mark has been signing more and more words, and is broadening his vocabulary!  He says "Mama" more and "More" and does more babbling throughout the day as opposed to grunting for things he wants.  He points for everything now and really tries to engage us in his world.  He understands so much more these days, and I know within a few weeks he will be saying more things.  I remember that Julia's vocabulary literally exploded from 15 months to 21 months.  It's unbelievable.

During Math time we focused on numbers 5 and 6.  Six is the number Julia totally skips for some reason, so it was good we reviewed it this week.  I also started using manipulatives and finger puppets to practice adding and subtracting.  Julia loved using the monkey story and duck story I have.  One day I'll have to blog about some of the finger plays we do.

This was a short week, and a fast week, but we still did lots of learning!  I look forward to our first real Field Trip of the year, next week!  We will go to the Read and Pick Program at Terhune Farms...I talked about that yesterday.

I also liked how Julia was showing and practicing with Mark this week to learn more Baby Sign, and she started "reading" to him from memory the books that she likes, this has helped me greatly.  She's a great big sister.  She likes to read "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" and "Jesse Bear, What will you Wear?" and "That's Not my Brother"  Sometimes she remembers all the words, and sometimes she makes up her own story, but either way Marky just sits there and soaks it all up because Julia is giving him attention!

Well, another week of home school is done!  I've learned that I've never worked this hard in all my life before and that I'm exhausted by Friday.  I'm excited for each days new concepts and stories to learn.  I am also excited for how God is using me at church with my Sunday School class and with Ladies Ministry.  This Sunday I speak in church about our new Bible Study coming up in two weeks on The Confident Woman by Joyce Meyer!  Pray I speak boldly, enthusiastically, and of course with confidence!

Have a wonderful weekend!  Can you believe it is mid September already???

Prayers for Joseph

Here is a picture of Joseph (Cinzia's son, my best friend since 6th grade) and my son Mark.

Joseph is currently in the hospital due to a serious case of bacterial pneumonia.  He has a tube in his little body to drain his lungs.  It's been 10 day in the hospital now, and Cinzia and Joseph Sr. are really asking everyone for their prayers.

He's starting to regain his strength and has over 2 1/2 liters of fluid already drained out, but the doctors are being very cautious and keeping him in the hospital.

Please pray for Cinzia since she is a school teacher and hasn't had a great start to this school year because she has been at the hospital day in and day out.  Pray for her strength, she is emotionally and physically exhausted.  If you are a mom, I'm sure you can only imagine watching your child sick in the hospital... Cinz said this has been a nightmare.  I'm so concerned for all three of them.

Those of you who believe in the power of prayer, and that God can do miracles, please pray for Cinzia, Joseph, and JoJo.  I'm praying I can visit them tonight at the hospital and be some source of encouragement.


I just spent the last hour and a half in the hospital with my two favorite people!!! Cinzia and I got to hug, chat, and laugh together, and Jojo looked at pictures of Julia on my cell phone.  I was praising God that John got home at 7pm so I could see them!  I made a quick stop at McDonald's to get our little patient some fries and nuggets (his favorite) and I sped to the hospital!  I also got to spend time with Cinzia's mom Sue and Mikey her youngest brother.  It was awesome to see how connected their family is and I know Cinzia has appreciated all the support.

At first when I walked in Jojo was a little cranky and fussing, but after the nurses stopped poking at him and we got to talk and cheer him up it was a good visit.  Mikey has a way of making him smile and so does Nonna...oh, and the pictures of Julia (his love) helped too!

Today I realized that I just needed to be there with Cinz.  Sometimes even when you don't know what to do just sitting with the person and being there for them is all that matters.  Cinz was telling me some of the sad stories in the ICU...a one month old baby passed away this week, and a little boy choked on a hot dog and after being rushed to the hospital they fear he may be brain dead.  With such sadness all around it has been hard to celebrate Jojo's recovery.  Cinzia said she is trying to reach out to the other families, and I know her care and concern is welcomed.

I'm thankful today for a husband who came home early.  A best friend who is really strong, and was able to teach on Wednesday, and thank goodness was off today and tomorrow due to the Jewish holiday.  I'm praying that her principal will work with her so that she can leave early to get to Jojo if he is still in the hospital next week.  I'm thankful today for a little boy who is getting better each day and has a smile that would melt your heart.  He kept teasing the nurses and saying, "Go home."  Because they kept poking him and checking his vitals...and they teased him right back and said, "Jojo we want you to go home, sweetie!"  I'm thankful for nurses who have a sense of humor.  Ultimately God is in control and we are trusting Him for a speedy recovery!  We love you Chi Chi and JoJo!!!

09 September 2010

Fall Field Trips for Preschoolers

Yesterday I had a great time researching on the computer for some Fall Field Trips for Julia and Mark.

Tuesdays will be our "light" home school days, since soon I will be teaching Ladies Bible Study from 9:30-11:30, which is prime home school teaching time.  So, I decided to plan at least one to two field trips a month until Christmas.

I like to plan in advance because that's just me, but also because once you have a plan all you have to do is be flexible and re-vamp if the weather doesn't cooperate or someone gets sick.  But with no plan and spur of the moment issues can sometimes lead this mommy to lots of stress and heart burn!  So, a plan I must have.  (I'm still working on our monthly meal plan...will have to share one Saturday with you all)

I love the internet because it can be a great source of information at your finger tips, if used properly.  I went to yahoo and typed in Fall Field trips for Kids and another time I put in "for pre-schoolers" and another time I put in "ideas"
My little pumpkin last October at 21 months (now she is almost 3...yikes!)
        Our First Field Trip of the year will be to Terhune Orchards and we will be going next week!  It is located in Princeton and has a Read and Pick Program.  There is a 9:30 class and an 11 o'clock class and you just call in advance to reserve your spot.  On the Tuesday that I will be taking the kids we will be picking Fall Flowers!  You then listen to some children stories highlighting flowers and go on a hayride.  We will obviously eat lunch there (have a little picnic for three) and then we will head home!  I'm really excited!  Each child costs $7, but that includes the whole program and the flowers they pick!  I put all the information on my facebook page in case any of my mommy friends wanted to join us and a few just might do that!  A field trip is always more fun with friends.

       Our Second Field Trip place I'd love to go to in October for Apple and Pumpkin picking at is Battleview Orchards in Freehold.  This is super close to home and a great place for kids.  Picking hours are between 10-5pm so there is more flexibility with when we can go.  I would definitely make it around lunch time though because a park is near by and the kids can go on the playground and then eat lunch.  After apple picking we would definitely wash the apples, peel them, and make apple pies!  That would make Daddy VERY happy!  And don't you just love the smell of homemade Apple Pie in the oven?

Here are some more ideas for you stay at home moms who may have children in the Pre-School age group:  These are educational trips in which mom or dad could preface with expected behavior, rules on a field trip, story book that goes along with the theme of the visit, and then after the trip you could share a snack or meal and discuss the days learning experience and even end with a book on the theme for the day!

1. Aquariums
2. Museums
3. Historical Farms
4. Museum of Early Trades & Crafts
5. Public Library
6. Bakery
7. Police Dept.
8. Fire Station
9. Zoo (We love the Turtle Back Zoo)
10. Liberty Science Center (We are definitely taking a trip this Spring!)
11. Children's Theatre/State Theater (Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ)

 I love teaching my kids new things and I love school!  I can't wait for our first field trip next week!!!

08 September 2010

How's your reputation? The Power of a Praying Wife

Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment...
Chapter 15: His Reputation

Proverbs 22:1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.

In this day and age with technology and mass media like facebook, blogs, and twitter at our finger tips someone's reputation can be maligned or worse at the touch of a button.  It could even be jeopardized for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Our reputation is very important and precious, and should be guarded and protected and carefully watched over.

When people hear your name they should think of the positive right away and not the negative.  After all, if we call ourselves believers of Christ and followers of Jesus, we not only have a reputation to uphold but we are called to a higher standard because we are to be witnesses of the Lord.  I can hear myself telling my students before we headed out off campus on a field trip, "Be on your best behavior, we represent Christ!"

Stormie O'Martian brings up the verse, Proverbs 31:23 (I love the Proverbs 31 woman, she is truly my hero and role model) Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.  (This virtuous wife had a husband with a great reputation...I'm sure she took time to pray for him.  It is true that a man does get a certain amount of respect for the kind of wife he has, but it is also the kind of woman he has that is wise enough to take time to pray for her husband and family.)

Remember that praying for a good reputation is an ongoing task, something we should pray about daily even.  And if you or your husband has done something to tarnish your reputation, ask God to redeem the situation and make good out of it.  He can make "all things new"! (Revelation 21:5)

Let's pray that...

*we will have reputations that are untarnished
* we will be respected by others
*others will speak highly of us
*there will never be a reason for others to speak badly of us
*God will deliver us from our enemies
*we will be known by the good that we do

Psalm 59:1 Defend (husbands name) from those who rise up to do him harm
Psalm 35:1 Fight against those who fight against him
Proverbs 26:2 "A curse without cause shall not alight"
Psalm 71:1 Let us never be put to shame
Romans 8:31 If you are for us who can be against us?

Romans 8: 33,34 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.  Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

There is power in our prayers.  I'm so thankful for the ability and the joy of coming before God boldly in prayer.

Love Dare This Week:

At dinner time reminisce over a vacation you took in the past that brought you joy and laughter!
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