My Girl--26 Months







My Joogie,

You are doing so many fun things now! I love your personality. In church today, for example, you were the "greeter" of the nursery. Every new child got a warm "Hello!" when they entered. You were also the "mommy" as you told the boys, "No running!" (A few minutes later you were found on top of the snack table...hmmm?) As I picked you up from nursery you said "Buh-bye Holly! I love you!"

Your Schedule

6:00 a.m.-humming in your crib (mommy doesn't get you until 6:30)
6:30 a.m.-soy milk and Barney is on PBS
7:00 a.m.-breakfast with Mark
7:30 a.m.-get dressed, brush teeth, brush hair (while watching Sesame Street)
8:00 a.m.-playtime while mom dresses Mark and cleans up
8:30 a.m.-Baby Faith video with Mark (mommy showers)
9:00 a.m.-school and books and playtime
10:00 a.m.Library (Monday)
Church (Tuesday)
Errands (Wed)
Library (Thursday)
Playdate/Errands (Friday)
12:00 Lunch
12:30 books/playtime
1:00-3:00 naptime
3:00-5:00 (different everyday) playtime/errands/playdate
5:00 p.m.-Dinner
6:30 -Daddy Comes Home!!!
7:30 p.m.-brush teeth/books/Bible story/special songs/prayer

Julia you are drinking out of a cup like a big girl, no lid! We are working on potty training and you are doing pee pee in the potty! (chocolate is a great reward! especially hershey kisses and m&m's. They are your fav!)

We are working on sharing more with Marky and being nice to him when he plays with our toys, right? (mmmhmmm) You are very good with sharing with friends. And you don't like to see anyone left out or crying.

I'm so proud that now you can climb up into your carseat and pull on the seat-belts! You get very proud of yourself too, when I check and say, "Wonderful!" This is such a time saver since I have to click Mark in too.

I'm so excited JuJu because this week we are starting our new Bible Memory Passage! Now that you are speaking so clearly and able to copy what mommy says, I really think this is a good time to start practicing memorizing scripture together! I can't wait to practice. I'm going to teach you the first part of Psalm 23 tomorrow!!!

Love,
Mom

Saturday Recipe Swap--Cranberry-Orange Muffins




Today Mark is 9 months old! Happy Birthday my little muffin man!

Cranberry-Orange Muffins

Ingredients:

1 3/4 c. flour
5 T. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg
3/4 c. orange juice
1/3 c. oil
1 c. cranberries, coarsely chopped (fresh or frozen)

Makes 1 dozen muffins

Directions:

1. Spray muffin cups with nonstick spray coating.
2. In med. bowl stir together flour, 2 T. sugar, baking powder, and salt.
3. Make a well in the center.
4. In a small bowl combine egg, orange juice and oil; add all at once to flour mixture.
5. Stir just till moistened (batter will be lumpy)
6. Toss cranberries with 2 T. sugar; gently fold into batter.
7. Fill prepared cups 3/4 full. Sprinkle muffin tops with remaining sugar.
8. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

Enjoy!!!

10 Things that Make Me Happy :)







1. My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Jesus makes me happy because without Him in my life I would have no purpose or meaning. He gives me love, a relationship with Himself, and a life full of purpose! He has surrounded me with people, experiences, and a life full of blessings that I can never count!

2. My husband John. John makes me happy by just being himself. He can be silly, serious, deep, loving, compassionate, generous, patient, and fun! There are so many wonderful qualities he has. I am so proud of his recent accomplishment of passing his series 7 test with flying colors. It is known as the most difficult test in the country and he got a 90!!! Woohoo! Babe, all your hard work and tireless nights paid off. Thank you for your commitment to me and our family. I love you.

3. My Julia Star. Julia, now 2 years old, is my little bundle of activity. She talks non stop and now we can have mini conversations which I love. I can see her exploring the world around her and figuring things out and it is so neat to have a little person around the house. She makes every holiday and regular day unique and special because her perspective on life is so new and curious. I am loving this age.

4. My Mark (Boy). Having a son is such a great gift too. And 9 months is a spectacular age because they are trying to talk and can crawl and are eating new things everyday...it is awesome! I'm loving seeing the relationship between my two children grow as well as they play and learn to share. I love Mark because he loves to cuddle with me. He is my snuggle bunny. I've learned how to do just about everything in the kitchen and every cleaning task imaginable with one hand, because Mark loves just to be hanging out on my hip.

5. My family. My parents and sisters are such a blessing. They make me happy because they love me unconditionally and they love my husband and children. I can't explain it but when your family embraces your new family it just gives you this sense of joy and peace that you just can't describe, but it makes you so happy. I love watching my parents and sisters play with the kids and pick them up and take them places. I also come from a family that loves to help and encourage...and this is a great gift.

6. The sunshine. I love the sunshine! Sunshine yellow is one of my favorite colors to wear and I love spring and summer so we can enjoy the sunshine. I love the heat on our face and the warmth on our body. I love taking the stroller out and going for long walks with the kids.

7. Date nights. I love spending one on one time with John. Now that our wonderful kids are here these nights are sometimes few and far between, but they are still so great and really needed. If someone offers, John and I go! I've learned not to say no (due to my pride of trying to do it all) anymore and to take advantage of the opportunities as they come! It can be a concert, going to a restaurant, or strolling through the Barnes and Noble, it doesn't matter, as long as we are together.

8. My friends. I've been super blessed with such faithful and encouraging and awesome friends. My grade school friends, teacher friends, my roommates in college, grad school friends, fellow mom friends at church, mom friends I meet at MOPS and at play groups and even people I grew up with in church, over time have proven to be such a blessing and a mode of comfort and happiness for me. A friend has a special way of giving you her perspective on your situation and really making big issues that seem impossible really small! I'm so thankful for my friends.

9. A clean, peaceful house. There's nothing like an empty sink, an empty hamper, a newly washed counter, no crumbs on the floor, finger print free windows, a warm scented candle going in the bathroom. The smell of fabric softener in the air or bleach. I love a clean house. I think it makes it easier to think, more welcoming to guests, and definitely more fun to find toys to play with!

10. A warm cup of tea and a good book. I've been reading a series of books about the Amish people called Sisters of the Heart and I'm really enjoying it. I usually am able to read while the kids are napping or have gone off to bed and John is eating dinner or studying. I love curling up on the couch with a book and picking up where I left off. Going into another world for a bit is very relaxing and it keeps our t.v. turned off. (I'm really getting so worried about what is on t.v., but that is for another post.)

Mark at 9 months







This is my handsome son Mark Ciro...whom we all call Boy! I don't really know how the nickname happened but it started around September, mom and I took Mark on the women's retreat and when we came back it just stuck. Even Julia calls him Boy sometimes, but mostly she says Marky! Julia is always saying "Silly boy!" "No, Marky" (when he touches her toys) "Marky, your hands are dirty!" She sings this to him as we eat a meal together and since Mark uses his hands they sure do get dirty! Julia also says, "Marky what are you doin?" and then she cracks up laughing!

Mark has really grown leaps and bounds over his 8th month...I can hardly believe he is now 9 months!!! Soon I will have a 1 year old! Oh. My. Word. Time sure is flying by.

* Mark crawls everywhere now
* He can move into a sitting position from laying down
* He likes to try to stand up or lean up on his knees
* Everything is worthy to try in his mouth (hence the need for me to vacuum at least 10 billion times a day)
* No teeth yet!!!
* Mark can eat, in addition to baby food and baby cereal (brace yourselves)
1. bagels
2. waffles
3. pasta/brown rice
4. corn/peas/soft carrots cut up
5. blueberries cut in half
6. blueberry/banana pancakes
7. strawberries cut up
8. cookies (arrowroot)
9. cheerios and puffs (a staple in our home)
10. gold fish
11. bananas cut up
12. egg (yoke part only)
This is actually right around the time Julia started to get away from jar food and only preferred table food, and I definitely see Mark going in that direction. This week he started the whole tongue thing. Meaning, as I put a spoonful of baby cereal in he stuck his tongue out b/c he wanted food he could hold himself. Where do I get these kids? LOL I love it!

This week was the first time I bathed both Julia and Mark together in the big tub. I closed the bathroom door and sat mark down with all his bath toys on the floor to keep him busy while I washed JuJu's hair and bathed her first. Then when she was all clean I let her play in the tub with her toys and then added Mark. I took care of him and as Julia was playing I rinsed him off, got him lotioned and dressed and diapered and let him play again, and then took Julia out. It was kind of a fun challenge, and Julia loved having Mark in there to play. She kept giving him bath toys so he could eat them! It was a time saver and Julia got extra playtime in the bath which usually I can't give her because Mark is fussing, but this really worked well.

Mark has a lot to say these days too, when the binky is out of course, although he even talks with the binky in!!! He loves to make all sorts of sounds and he also likes to blow bubbles and zerberts!!!

Mark is sleeping better at night, up to 10 hours, sometimes less...Thank you Lord! I still nurse him around 4 or 5 a.m., but then he goes right back to sleep til 7 a.m.
It's very easy at this age to get the baby into a great routine during the day...so I'm loving that for both my kids. I'm looking forward to the summer when we can play at the park, go swimming in our kiddie pool, go to the zoo, and all the play dates with friends outdoors!

My, my, Mark, you are growing so fast, but where, oh, where, are those teeth of yours?

Book Club Thursday-The Confident Woman Chp. 8


This is a pic of Grant, my daughter Julia, and their son Judah playing over Valentine's Day weekend...so cute!

Chapter 8: When the World Says No!

View Suzette's blog here at http://godlyrose.blogspot.com

"When God calls you to do what is right even if the world is against you, in confidence you need to obey God's calling on your life." As women we have to obey what God calls us to do to be truly happy and satisfied. God may call us to marriage, motherhood, and ministry all at the same time, or at different times in our life, but we will never fulfill our life's purpose if we let the world decide what is right for us. God always knows best!

I like to look at the young life of Jesus mother, Mary. God chose her to become pregnant before she was married. What would the world think of her? What choices could she have made to change her situation (abortion was very popular with the Romans, and she could have done that, she also could have kept the baby but had a quiet divorce like Joseph wanted). She did neither. She didn't focus on the negative aspects of the challenge instead in confidence she stepped out in faith and trusted that God's plan was bigger and better than she could ever imagine, and truly it was! I can't wait to meet Mary, what an amazing young woman she was.

The world looked upon Mary's situation with questioning eyes, but I love how Mary chose to trust God in confidence and obey His will for her life in the midst of so much adversity.

The problem with people pleasers:

*never fulfill their destiny
*too busy keeping everyone happy
*formula for life failure

Joyce says, "Step out and found out". Sometimes you will make mistakes, although confident, but at least you tried. Never be afraid to step out in faith and try something new...there is so much to learn from new experiences and challenges!

"Turn away from the people who try to discourage or accuse us instead of allowing what they say or think to affect us adversely." I loved this quote because I am the type of person who wants to please everyone, and keep everyone happy even if the people I am trying to make happy are discouraging me...this taught me that those people are not profitable as friends and perhaps I need to step back and evaluate who are my real friends in my life, and who are the people who I let control my decisions.

I loved how Joyce listed famous people who were not afraid to struggle to fulfill their life's purposes, she talked about Rosa Parks, Ben Franklin, Sydey Poitier and many more. These people had huge obstacles in their way and without their confident drive to push forward and ignore what the world was saying at the time, perhaps our world would be MUCH different without them. "Satan fights progress of any kind." A confident woman presses on and says YES when the world says NO.

Age is nothing but a number! I love how Joyce drilled home the fact that we should never make decisions based on our age. The world may say, Oh you are too young/old to get married. Oh, you are too young/old to have children. Oh, you are too young/old to start that ministry...but what about God? Isn't God in control of our lives? Doesn't God have a say? Can't God perform miracles? Let's trust Him! "It is not the years in your life, but the life in your years that counts!" Adlai Stevenson. Confident people don't focus on their age, remember that all of our days are numbered and that our time is in God's hands!

Julia and Judah






Valentine's Day weekend we had Christianne and Grant spend the night at our house since Lou and Jan would be speaking at the Missions Conference on Saturday and Sunday at church. We were so excited to have them over and little Judah (18 months). Julia loved having a playmate. They played with the tea set, watched Barney together, shared toys, ate meals together, it was awesome. Everytime Julia woke up from a nap or from bedtime her first word was "JUDAH!" She didn't want to miss any fun with him.

I loved seeing them together! It's like Julia had her very own Valentine!

Also, thanks to Christianne and Grant, after we came home from church Saturday evening and tucked the kids in bed, John and I were able to go out on a date! It was so nice to roam around Barnes and Noble and hold hands and just talk without any interruptions. We also got a bite to eat at a restaurant, and guess what we ended up talking about most of the time? Our kids! LOL We had to stop ourselves and really just talk about some things in our own little worlds...it was so very nice! Thank you Grant and Christianne for blessing us with your company!

My Funny Valentine





The McInerney Girls got very spoiled this Valentine's Day...

Daddy came home on Saturday afternoon with two pink roses for Julia (age appropriate...LOL) and two balloons!!

Daddy also came home with a dozen red roses for mommy and Godiva chocolates...life doesn't get much better!

I have the best Valentines.

I love you John, Julia and Marky!

Shepherding a Child's Heart: The Rod & Appeal to the Conscience


This is my Ju Ju Bean in her room on our rocker where we read bedtime stories...I love her hair at bedtime! Oh, Julia, you just have no idea how much mommy and daddy love you my dear!

Chapter 11: Embracing Biblical Methods: The Rod

Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him.

Proverbs 13:24 He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.

Proverbs 23:13-14 Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell.

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

I believe God's word is true. That means ALL of God's Word. Not just some verses here and there. I believe Jonah got swallowed by a big fish(or whale). I believe Noah built an ark and put two of each kind and there was a huge flood for 40 days. I believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead on the third day. I believe that Jesus is God. And so, I believe that God has required that parents discipline their children with the "rod" or spank, or whatever term you use because I believe we are born with sinful, wicked hearts, and without correction, without guidance from our parents, without discipline, without the grace and the salvation of Jesus, we would die in our sins. God said it so I believe it! So, when people pick parts of the Bible to agree with and disagree with to follow and not to follow, I believe that is disobedience because God doesn't say, "Choose the parts you like!" In fact, God knew disciplining and training our children would be difficult. In Hebrews 12: 11 It says, "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Having to spank your child in love at the right time, with the right measure, is very difficult, but because you love your child you know that it will yield good fruit in their lives.

It is not popular to spank. Just watch the news and parent shows like Supernanny...the world says spanking is barbaric and cruel discipline. Any hitting done in anger is cruel and wrong. But spanking your child when you are calm and in love is totally different.

All children are born sinners and the rod remedies their "folly" condition. Proverbs 29:15 teaches that the rod is designed to impart wisdom. Done in anger is not the biblical use of the rod. The rod resuces children from the path of destruction that they are already on. Our world says that all children need is information and knowledge and then they will behave...but that is not biblical. As christians we believe there is a heart issue...our hearts our sinful and therefore the rod drives the foolishness out of a child's heart. I'm not saying it is easy...timeouts are easy, but spanking the biblical way is very hard work.

Case closed.

Chapter 12: Embracing Biblical Methods: Appeal to the Conscience

Jesus used appealing to the conscience with many of his parables in the gospels. In Matthew 21: 23, 33, 45 (parable of two sons, parable of the tenants, the heart is smitten) you see how Jesus is giving the Pharisees or his audience a parable to answer the questions of right and wrong.

Isn't it beautiful that God has given all of us a conscience so that we can reason about the issues of right and wrong? We need to use our children's conscience as an ally while raising them. Romans 2:14-15 says, "for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them.

Tedd Tripp says, "Your most powerful appeals will be these that smite the conscience." He gave a story of a boy who stole from the offering plate. The boy was taken to the pastors office with the father and had to confront the pastor about what he did. He handed over 2 dollars and the pastor went on to talk about how it was a good thing he was caught. How it was so merciful of God that his sin was found out and that he didn't get away with it because when we get away with sin it traps us...and on and on he went...well in a few minutes the boy had tears running down his face, and handed over a twenty dollar bill. What happened? The pastor's words appealed to his conscience. He was wrestling with what to do right or wrong, and decided to do what was right. Praise God.

Tedd Tripp says, "To see them deal with the issues of their God-ward orientation you must take correction beyond behavior to addressing the issues of the heart. You address the heart by exposing sin and appealing to the conscience as the God-given adjudicator of right and wrong." See the Pastor didn't yell or scream, or say "How could you!" or give him a guilt trip...no he appealed to the conscience, he talked about all of our sin nature, how God is gracious to our sin by exposing it...and the child responded.

"The central focus of child rearing is to bring children to a sober assessment of themselves as sinners. They must understand the mercy of God, who offered Christ as a sacrifice for sinners."

This means seeing past the bad behavior and focusing on the heart issue. This means talking with your child...wow, lots and lots of prayer and hard work are ahead of us guys! But God is always faithful to guide us and give us wisdom!

Stomach Virus Go Away!




I didn't blog much last week...the stomach virus hit us pretty bad...here is how our week went:

Monday 4:30 p.m. Julia began vomiting

Tuesday-Julia barely ate, very cranky

Wednesday-Julia is starting to get better

Thursday-6:00 a.m. Mark began vomiting/Julia totally well and eating me out of house and home! (For lunch she requested pizza, tuna, cheese stick, muffin, and juice!)

Friday-6:00 a.m. It was bound to happen to mom (How I managaged to take care of two small children and be in the bathroom sick...I'll never know...all I do know is that time went by very slowly and all I wanted was to crawl into my bed)

Saturday-11:00 a.m. Daddy felt very nauseous...and was told to go upstairs to bed to rest, while I took over downstairs with the kids (How I managed to take care of two totally up-beat, raring to go kids while being weak still...I'll never know! Thanks to my mom for taking Miss Julia to the library to play...Julia came home from the library skipping, and with the widest grin in the world...Grandma Donna is the BESTest!!!! Mom, I will never take your help for granted...thank you...how do you do it?)

Sunday: All better!!! Thank you Lord for healing us...Please keep all viruses far from our home!

Snow Day







Seriously...can she be any cuter?

We recently have had a few snow days...this was the first storm...and after it hit we had to dress Ju Ju bean up and let her explore outside in the whiles of the cold, wintry snow! Well, she loved putting on her snow suit...especially her Suzette/Addie hat. She could live in that hat, Suzette, she loves it!!! Thank you for taking the time to make it...you are so talented!

She loved modeling her snow-suit and putting on her pink boots...then she went outside with daddy in the back yard with paris...paris got kind of excited and Ju Ju landed in the snow...after getting a bit wet, and cold...she said to daddy, "All done!" And that was that!

Well, so much for playing in the snow!

Saturday Recipe Swap--Orecchiette Pasta with sausage and Broccoli Rabe

This is a yummy feel good meal, that any wife or mom would/can be proud to serve. Every single time I make this dish (I made it this Thursday), John comments about how much I must love him. It is loaded with rich colorful veggies, lots of flavor, pasta, and sweet Italian sausage!!! You really can't go wrong with this meal! Be sure to have some Parmesan cheese on hand too! It makes for a great topping.

For my 2 year old, I actually keep some plain noodles on the side and just sprinkle some cheese on top...that's just what she likes!

It makes 6 servings (we always have this for at least 2 nights of leftovers!!!)

Ingredients:

8 ounces of orecchiette pasta (I substituted this time with medium shells b/c I couldn't find it...but they look like bottle caps...they have a great texture)
1 1/4 lbs sweet Italian turkey sausage links, remove the casings
2 medium size yellow squash, cut in half moons
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (extra kick!)
1 bunch of broccoli rabe, cleaned, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup of low sodium chicken broth (I always seem to need a bit extra)
Grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Directions:

1. Cook the orecchiette according to package directions. Drain and return pasta to pot to keep warm. (You can use any pasta you have handy, the smaller the better)

2. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large nonstick skillet over med. heat. Crumble sausage into skillet breaking up large pieces. Cook for 10 min., sir occasionally, or until no longer pink.

3. Stir in squash with sausage and increase the heat to med. high. Cook about 3 minutes.

4. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes; cook another minute or so. Add the broccoli rabe and broth and cover for about 3-4 minutes. Remove cover and stir...cook another 2 minutes or until broccoli rabe has wilted and is tender.

5. Add this sausage, yellow squash, and broccoli rabe mixture to your pasta and stir to combine. Sprinkle with cheese, and Enjoy!!!

Take a peak at my buddy's blog, Suzette, for her recipe at http://godlyrose.blogspot.com

Book Club Thursday-The Confident Woman Chp. 7


This is me and my "twin" sister (yup, can you believe we are 8 years apart?)!!!
I love you my Sara-Bara!!!


I can't believe we are on our 7th week of The Confident Woman Book Club! Are you guys enjoying the book? I hope so. I hope reading the book and our thoughts are helpful. Remember Suzette's blog is really awesome, so be sure to view her take on the chapter at http://godlyrose.blogspot.com

Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

I believe this verse is the crux of Chapter 7: The Power of Preparation.

God is preparing all of us who trust Him and love Him and choose to follow Him for His plan. He has given us certain experiences, certain people, and certain gifts, to mold us and change us, and conform us to be the confident woman of God that He wants us to be. The more we trust God and allow Him to direct our paths He can prepare us for what He has for us. But with that preparation may come hardships, and we will need lots of patience on our parts.

Joyce was saying that "Most things are harder than you ever thought they would be, they take longer than you ever thought you could endure but they also pay greater dividends than you could ever imagine." Is she talking about childbirth or what? Maybe because I have two babies and their births are so fresh in my mind, but when Joyce was talking about how God gives a job and we think it is going to be easy...and then we find out...whew!!! That wasn't so easy! I think this is motherhood in a nutshell! I think because I always babysat, had a younger sister, and I ran a successful classroom anywhere from 16 to 25 third and fourth graders, I always thought raising one kid would be no big deal, really, how hard could it be, what's all the fuss about? (Really God does have a sense of humor) Ha! I learned that birthing children and having children and being a stay at home mom is hard work, and some people make it look easy, but truly it is very demanding, but it is also one of the best things and most rewarding things I think I will ever do! I just think it is so funny that I thought it would be a piece of cake! As all of you know doing whatever God has a do and doing it well takes time and dedication and so does preparation!

Sometimes God gives us difficulties or challenging tasks like being laid off work, an illness, a surgery, a loss of a loved one, or you name it, so that we learn to "trust God in this way as a testing time for preparation" for something bigger or something that God has for us later on... We can trust that whatever He puts in our path He is right there to guide us and lead us and teach us something about ourselves so that we can grow in confidence.

Look at the lives of Joseph, Esther, and Peter (Joyce goes into greater detail) ...they each had periods of preparation that were not so easy, but God's plan was perfect, and so was His timing. Some of their experiences were humbling, but God used that to bring glory to His name. I like when Joyce said, "Sometimes bitter experiences we endure are the best teachers we have in life." She also says that in Isaiah 61:7 "God promises to give us a double reward for our former shame and trouble." Joyce went into detail about how being the child of sexual abuse from her father led her to want to leave her home once she finished high school, this prevented her from going to college but forced her to go straight to work to be able to support herself outside in the real world. She still gets flack from others that she never went to seminary...but God was able to use her in a mighty way. God was able to change her circumstance and honored her because of her faithfulness to Him. Look at all she has accomplished...and she has earned honorary bachelor and graduate degrees in theology for all the books she has written.

One of my favorite quotes from Joyce and a lesson I really need to learn is: "Don't be in such a hurry to rush through things that you miss the lessons you can draw from each day."

Joyce talked about the importance of knowing your strengths and weaknesses. She said it is important to know your strengths so that you can "gain confidence in your abilities." "Praying is probably the most important part of preparation." I am ashamed to say, that so many times I am rushing to get things done, I oftentimes don't stop to pray unless I am in front of a meal, in a crisis or someone has emailed or texted me to pray... that sounds awful...but it is so true...I fill my life with all good busy things but what gives me guidance, patience, and strength for each day? My prayer time with Jesus!!! Ooooooh this chapter is so good! I need these simple reminders so often, how about you? Even Jesus said, "Apart from Me you can do nothing." Yup, he's right! Not well anyway!

"Be a lifetime learner." Being a lifetime learner means never feeling you've arrived. It means constantly learning new things for the field you work in. It means staying connected to other people who have been through what you're going through. It means you will gain more confidence and people will see that and gladly will have more confidence in your abilities.

Thanks for reading with me guys. I love sharing with all of you!

Monday



Oh dear! What would I do without John?
Where to begin...well, it was an ordinary day, with breakfast, library craft class, we made Lincoln hats, lunch at home with daddy since he was off b/c of the holiday, nap time, and then I decided after nap time to bust out the double stroller and take both kids to the Old Bridge shops because there is a Baby Gap and I knew Mark needed pants (he is getting so tall) and I knew with the holiday they would have some sort of sale, plus I had a coupon! So, I was very excited!!! I put the kids in the car and we were on our way.

Once we got to Baby Gap I realized everything in the store, sale and regular priced was 45% off!!! What a find! My total came to $125 and with the 45% off I spent $68!!! John would've been so proud! Anyway, as I was done I headed into one of my favorite stores, Ann Taylor Loft...but both kids were getting antsy and fussy so I cut it short and went straight to Panera Bread to get our favorite loaf of Asiago Cheese bread because I thought it would go well with the Chicken Chili I made...this is when a bit of the drama began...I offered Julia some Valentine candies that my mom had given her (the little hearts) and she said No, she didn't want it. That should have been a huge sign right there. Julia saying no to candy is like it snowing in July.

I hurried out with the bread. I packed both kids back in the car. Folded up the stroller...and as I drove home a police car was behind me. Actually an SUV one. I carefully moved out of his way and continued driving. The closer I got to the train tracks I saw a cop car parked on the right. Now, with the snow in drifts, and people parking on the streets it is hard to navigate down County Road which leads to Rt 35. And as I passed the parked cop car, I sideswiped it and heard a loud SCRAPE!!! My heart stopped and was pounding....do I pull over (Now Mark is screaming to get out of the carseat and Julia and I are trying to calm him down). I can't pull over, the car was empty, which means a cop is busy in someone's house. Do I wait? Do I knock on random doors? Aaaaaaah. So. I drive home. I take the kids out of the car. I bring them in the house...and I feel horrible, guilty, horrible. I lock the door, then I go back outside to check my car...yup, it wasnt a dream, there is a huge scratch on the side of my car...oh, no.

I go back inside and Julia is standing waiting for me to help her with her coat...VOMIT...VOMIT...VOMIT!!! Julia begins to cry! I begin to comfort, and now I am in clean up, and bathe mode! I call John, who was studying at the library and he rushes home. The minute he gets in the tears come and I tell him...I hit a cop car. "What happened?' I tell the whole story again. "Wait, tell me again," he says with a smile? Okay, why is he smiling? I repeat the story and he quickly calls a lieutenant he knows of Old Bridge...she makes some phone calls and talks to the cop that I hit, who said that there was a little paint scratch and his mirror was pushed in, but no harm was done! She jokes on the phone, "John, we won't have to pick you up tonight?!" Apparently, everyone else thinks this is funny!

Anyway, we took care of feeding Mark dinner, and nursing poor Julia back to health. She basically vomited a few more times that evening, but we did get her to drink some water and she slept completely through the night. John looks at me and says, "Honey, you did the right thing. You couldn't have stayed there and waited with two kids in the car. That would have been dangerous. The good thing was that you sideswiped a police officer (good thing?) so then we could actually call and tell the person." Well, that was my crazy Monday? What did I learn? To drive more careful on County Road. To always be up front if I do hit someone's car...I learned this from John, he has left a note in the past with his name/phone number and the woman called back and was so happy he did that courtesy gesture, she didn't even care about the minor dent. And to not bring Julia and Mark into baby gap!!! The last time I brought them, which was months ago...Julia threw up in my car on the way home? Coincidence? I think not! :)

Saturday Recipe Swap: Beef Stew

Crock pot dish!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 to 2lbs of beef stew meat cut into 1 inch cubes
1/8 cup of flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups of beef broth
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp paprika
2 carrots, sliced
2 med. potatoes, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped

(We like to add in more veggies so I add additional carrots and celery)

Directions:

1. Put beef in crock pot.
2. Mix together flour, salt, pepper and pour over meat making sure to coat each piece with flour.
3. Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix well
4. cover.
5. cook on low 10-12 hours or high for 4-6 hours
6. Stir well before serving.

I like to serve mine with white/brown rice and corn bread! enjoy guys

Book Club Thursday-The Confident Woman Chp. 6


My family and the Weavers Labor Day weekend.

Chapter Six: Overcoming Self-Doubt

Take a peek at Suzette's blog to read her thoughts on the chapter too at http://godlyrose.blogspot.com

Hi friends! I really enjoyed this chapter as well! It is something all of us has struggled with. We've all doubted our abilities, talents, and strength to be able to accomplish little things and great things in our life. After reading this chapter the one thing that really stood out to me is that we can't let our emotions/feelings control us. We need to choose to believe in ourselves and the God-given abilities we have to accomplish each task that comes our way. Joyce says, "Self-doubt and confidence don't work together, they work against each other." She cries out, "You don't have to feel confident to be confident!"

In James 1:5-8 it teaches us about a double-minded person, and how God can't answer the prayers of someone who doesn't even believe in what he/she is saying. God wants us to have faith! This came true in my own heart and life at the tender age of 15. I was diagnosed with a giant cell tumor in the bone of my foot, and actually since I was an athlete, my podiatrist at first misdiagnosed me for several months and said I had tendinitis, but after months of no sleep because of severe pain, thank God, we sought a second opinion, got an MRI and my orthopedist saw the tumor growing aggressively and actually eating away the bone in my ankle. During this time I had to leave school for a semester, be home-schooled (best months of my life...all my teachers came to my house once a week and I took all the same tests as my friends...and received straight A's!!!) had to go to Sloan Kettering in NYC for surgery and then had to heal at home for the rest of my Sophomore year and summer. The tumor was benign. But because of the months of growth that the tumor had the doctors could not promise a total recovery, they said, maybe I could walk again...maybe. This was devastating news. Do you know what my first thoughts were? Noone will ever want me. I will never get married if I can't walk again. But, instead of moping and being negative, the Lord drew me so close to him. This was such a great time of closeness with the Lord, and guess what verse I claimed? Hebrews 11:1 What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead.

Please listen closely, this doesn't mean that God doesn't say no to our prayers at times, but I am a firm believer that if you pray with faith, and are positive in your thinking even if God does say no to your prayer request (and mine was to be able to walk...run again) He will give you the grace to receive His answer. I still walked with a crutch the beginning of my Junior year, it wasn't til mid year that I was able to walk without it...but that was okay, you know why? God told me (in my heart) that I would walk again, that I would run again, and that I would find a husband some day! I didn't see it up ahead, but I had faith that God would heal and provide...and he did...as a matter of fact...my Junior year is the year John and I were in the same homeroom in high school because the two major HS merged together that year...now does God work miracles or what? LOL

But God taught me a major lesson about my faith in Him and my own confidence as a young woman. Even when we feel less than (and I surely did walking with a crutch) if we hold our head up high and walk in Christ...people forget all about our little insecurities. (It's funny because nobody from high school even remembers my foot surgery, or my crutch...it was as if it never even happened). It taught me that confidence comes from our attitude within. And Jesus gives us such confidence when we can just trust that whatever He is doing in our lives is for our own good and will make us into who He wants us to be.

"Self-doubt causes a person to shrink back in fear." God never wants us to be crippled by fear. He did not give us a spirit of fear! He gave us a spirit of power and strength because He is always with us! We need to have faith in God, His Word, and all His promises. I've found that reading the Psalms and the book of Isaiah really helps me to renew my strength...another verse God gave me during that difficult foot healing time was Isaiah 41: 10 Fear not, for I am with you, do not be dismayed for I am your God, I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand." What a great promise! And that first day of school my Junior year was scary but God gave me the strength to walk with my head high and crutch in hand. I didn't let fear stop me from doing what I knew I had to do.

Joyce also says, "People who believe and are positive are much healthier than those who are filled with fear, doubt, and negativity." And I would add, they are so much nicer to be around! Have you ever been around a complaining, negative person? It is no fun! Have you ever been that person? Yup, we all have at times, I think! LOL We just need to see that God does have a plan for our lives, and trust His hand. And that is a choice.

Joshua 24:15 Choose you this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord. Make a choice not to let your feelings control you anymore...I have had to do this especially in the middle of the night, when lots of negative thoughts fill my head...I just say Lord, please take these thoughts away, and help me not even to allow them to enter my head and continue to think upon them. Then I pick up a good book and push those thoughts out, out, out...because negative thinking can affect you in the weirdest ways and at the weirdest times...I've even lost weight because my stomach was in knots over negative thinking. It is a struggle I really have had to ask God for major help. Joyce says, "You must believe what God's Word says about you more than you believe what others say or what your feelings or own mind says."

I love all of you! I know something good is going to happen to you today!

The Library

One of our favorite new places to go at least twice a week is the Old Bridge Public Library. It only takes about 8 or 9 minutes to drive to from my house and it is right across the street from my husband's Taekwondo school.

I wish I had pictures of being at the library, but traveling anywhere with two babies is a lot of work, and taking a camera just isn't possible right now, maybe in a couple of months I will be able to swing it. We shall see.

Now, we've been taking Julia to a library class since she was about 6 months old. We actually would go with a bunch of moms from church to the Monmouth County Library right off route 9...sometimes we still go there to meet up with some friends, but now that I travel with two it is easier to go to a library that is only a few minutes away rather than 25 minutes away! Or sometimes the ride back is not so pleasant hearing Mark cry because he wants to nurse!

I love the OB Library because the class we got to is about 15-20 minutes long and it is from ages 0 months to 24 months. There are so many other moms there who are like me that have 2 babies about 17 months apart so we have lots in common and we all have an older daughter, I am the only one with a baby boy though. It's neat to see how we all have a Snap in Go for the baby because of the carseat, and how we manage to hold our toddlers little hand...and these moms are so friendly and down to earth, and one of which just has the nicest smile. Isn't it refreshing to be around people who smile?

Well, now Julia loves library because of the simple fact that our librarian is just as sweet as can be, she does song after song, book after book, never reprimands any child or parent, because as you know toddlers like to get up during story time, (the other library was not so forgiving in this dept.) and she does bubbles at the end of every class and in her huge closet there is a Big Clifford the Big red Dog which Julia loves. Our car ride consists of "Bubbles?" "Doggy?" "Books?"

So, I pack the kids in the car, I grab the diaper bag and Snap n Go (every mom of an infant with a carseat should have one...easy transport and so light) I stop at DD (dunkin donuts of course) for a small decaf coffee and off we go. I prep Julia in the car by telling her where we are going, how she needs to whisper and behave, how there will be so many friends and books to see, we name all her friends...Riley, Jen, Clifford the Big red dog...there are lots of boys in our class but I forget their names...mommy brain will do that to you).

Then we arrive, I snap Mark's carseat in the snap in go, I hold on tight to julia's hand and we walk up to the big automatic doors...I tell her, "Julia, you need to whisper, many people are reading books and studying and they need quiet." She puts her hand over her mouth and says, "Be quiet." So I pat myself on the back and we walk over to the kids section. There we play with barn, puzzles, and blocks, and sit at the kid tables to color until its story time. Then when our Miss Marilyn comes over and announces it is story time and all the moms and kids go into the classroom, which is neatly decorated and has lots of windows, colorful carpets, a felt board and painted walls. We sing all our favorite songs, "Wind, wind little baby" "I love you" "Row row row your boat" "Where is thumbkin?" the list goes on and on...Julia makes us all laugh after every book she announces "Bubbles!" and I whisper in her ear..."Not yet, be patient..." Then it's bubble time and clifford the big red dog comes out and each kid gets to pet him.

When class is over Julia gives Miss Marilyn a high five before she leaves and says thank you, after mommy's prompting. Some moms are talking in a circle and Julia walks over and puts her hand over her mouth and says "Sssshhh, quiet." Thank goodness the moms laugh..."I was telling her as we walked in about being quiet, and now of course she is the quiet police!" We all laugh and share stories of our morning, our kids, and our day.

As we leave the library...I feel so happy. We spent a great time, almost an hour of reading, playing, meeting new friends, and getting out of the house...as we are about to leave and pass through the doors Julia turns around and shouts, not whispers, "BYE BOOKS!!!" so much for my pep talk.

I love the library.

Shepherding a Child's Heart Week 4-Cont'd

Author: Tedd Tripp
Chapter 9: Embracing Biblical Methods: Types of Communication

Whew! What a day...between cooking, baking, dropping off a meal, going to the library for story/play time, running errands, and caring for my two little ones, I think this is the first time I sat down all day!

Tedd Tripp was saying, at the beginning of this chapter that we, as parents, sometimes reduce our communication with our children to 3 basic modes of rules, correction, and discipline. So, you give your child the rules, you correct them when they break the rules, and then you discipline them for breaking the rules. Now, of course this is necessary, but this should not be the only communication we give.

Tedd Tripp gives 8 modes of communication:

1. Encouragement
2. Correction
3. Rebuke
4. Entreaty
5. Instruction
6. Warning
7. Teaching
8. Prayer


He states that all of these must be part of your interaction with your child. Let's take each one and find out why they are so vital.

1. Encouragement (my ultimate favorite) "Children need communication to inspire and fill with hope and courage." (don't we all need this?) How many people do you know who seek to do their best because someone believed in them and encouraged them along the way? I can even see this with Julia at 2 years old. When I am encouraging her after she made a good choice, she beams or claps and says "Yay!" or "Good girl!" I've even seen her, bless her heart encourage her brother "Marky...good boy!" And he sheepishly smiles. Encouraging your child is such a blessing to them, and to you because if they are doing something right, you deserve the credit too! So when you see a child who has made a mistake, and you see/hear from them that they are repentant but then down on themselves because they keep "messing up" this isn't the time to beat them down "so to speak" by yelling at them or sending them to their room, this is an opportunity to encourage them. If they are feeling like a failure or hopeless this is the time to encourage them with your words, and with your hugs and help them to know the promises of God. God always forgives. God draws us near when we are brokenhearted over our sin. Inspire them with your words and let them know that God makes all things new. He allows us a second chance. Isn't it sad that the world is not so forgiving?

2. Correction-now we all have this one down pat, don't we? We know when a child has broken a rule or a standard and we need to correct what is wrong. This is important because God has standards too. We need to obey God's standards. "Correction helps your children to understand God's standard and teaches them to assess their behavior against that standard."

3. Rebuke-This is when you make have to speak in alarm over something that has been said or done. For example if you hear your child say, "I hate you!" You may say "Those are words I never want to hear come out of your mouth!" Sometimes our children need to see/hear the shock in our voice and on our face about something they've done. Tedd Tripp says this "censures behavior".

4. Entreaty-This type of communication is "earnest and intense". "It involves pleading, soliciting, urging, and even begging." Sometimes a parent must "bare their soul" and actually plead for their child to act "in wisdom and faith." Tedd Tripp says he used this type of communication with his own sons as he would talk to his boys about the importance of saving themselves for marriage and avoid sexual immorality. I think this is also a great time to talk about our own sin struggles with our children so they see our own need for Christ's love and forgiveness and we can share how sin and temptation may have affected our lives or choices and our own experiences.

5. Instruction-basically involves communicating a lesson. Teaching your child how to make their bed, how to study (most parents just assume kids know how to do these things when they really do need to be taught how...and yes, this takes time.)how to write a thank you letter, how to be helpful. Kids need information about themselves and others because they are figuring out the world around them. I think this is one of the parts of parenting that excites me the most. It is so neat to teach your child how to do things. I guess it's the teacher in me! LOL

6. Warning-their is danger all around our children in this world...so this type of communication is there to help them to be able to guard themselves against this danger. The book of Proverbs gives us as parents and children so many great and wise warnings and is probably a great book to read at night time or a part of family devotions. Their is so much wisdom in Proverbs. Tripp states "Once your children begin to internalize such truths, their attitudes and behaviors, are powerfully influenced."

7. Teaching-imparting knowledge...and you know what before we can teach anything to our children about God, we ourselves need to be readers of God's word and fellow students of God's wisdom. We need to be taught by God so that we are instructing and teaching our children with God's truth and not just our own truth.

8. Prayer-Yes this is communication with God, but it is so important in our relationship with our child. I loved those private times when mom and I would pray at night before bed. She didn't do it all the time, but the times she did meant so much to me. If we want our children to value prayer then they need to see us do it. They need to hear us pray. They need us as models and also it helps connect us with our child. And hearing us pray will communicate to our child that we have a real faith, not a superficial faith. We need to practice what we preach. Children watch us very closely. They listen to what we "do" sometimes more than what we "say".

So communication with our children takes many forms and they take a lot of time, but isn't is great to know that all of these forms can be done in a way that honors God and brings us closer to our children? I love it!

Shepherding a Child's Heart Week 4



Hi friends!!! Have I mentioned how much I ADORE this book and this Sunday School class? Pretty sure I have, and it just gets better and better. Yesterday, driving home from church, John goes, "I'd love to have Linda and John over." It's true, they not only teach so well, but the fruit of their labors is so evident with their 4 adult kids...well Robert is still in High School, but he is really tall! LOL

If you missed Week 1 or Week 2 or Week 3 click on the word week and you can view my previous blogs...my friend Suzette has helped me navigate through this blog world! Thanks Suzie!!!

This week's lesson was reading Chapters 8-9...the chapters are a bit out of order, but Linda and John designed it that way so to coincide with the video series Tedd Tripp has and to keep like-minded discussions together.

Chapter 8: Embracing Biblical Methods:
Communication


I loved this chapter because it allowed me to look back at my own childhood and see what methods my parents used with us that were not so biblical but at the time they were doing the best they could (A lot of parents parent the way they grew up and even if it was wrong they may think, "well, I didn't turn out so bad," and they repeat that same parenting. But now, my parents and I have discussed a lot of these issues and they see where there were mistakes made. Isn't that the beauty of Christ? We can look back and see where we messed up, ask for forgiveness and move on. I love my parents dearly and we are really working on having better communication now that I am older...I also see a lot of growth in Christ, and steps in the right direction).

Tedd Tripp says, "A biblical approach to children involves two elements that you weave together. One element is rich, full communication. The other is the rod." In the book of Proverbs you see how both of these methods are used side by side. (see Proverbs 23: 13-19, and Proverbs 23:22 and verse 26.)

Many times parents use the rod without explaining why the child is being disciplined or finding out why the child did the wrong behavior. To the parent all that is important is that the behavior stop instead of finding the heart issue, sharing with the child why that behavior offends God, learning more about what led to the behavior. In our fast pace world, a quick fix seems to be the right answer to most parents instead of taking the extended time of having a dialogue and not a monologue. Parents love to lecture and tell their children what they need to do, but how many parents take the time to really listen to their children's fears, secrets, hopes, wishes, dreams, weakness, or strengths. Usually parents are so busy with their own lives that they hush up their children every chance they get, and then by the time their children are teenagers, they wonder why their children don't talk, or open up anymore.

Tedd Tripp was discussing how children need a parent who is above them (the authority figure) but also right alongside them (a fellow sinner who makes mistakes and needs the Lord's forgiveness)...I can remember a lot of the authority part in my household, but not so much the side by side part. Although their were many times my mom would come to me and apologize for something she may have done wrong, and that was meaningful, but then there were lots of hypocritical actions that never got addressed until years later. In my house we were not allowed to voice our opinions if they were contrary to our parents. Even if done respectfully it would not have gone well. I can remember many times standing in the kitchen being lectured to for things like not putting the dishes in the dishwasher correctly. But I wouldn't dare speak a word for fear of being yelled at. I don't think my parents intentionally meant to keep us all silent, but by their actions it was just understood that children didn't voice their opinions or share how they felt. Parents were always right no matter what. Now, I always respected authority, and was always afraid of ever being in trouble, so I guess that part was good. But growing up because we didn't have open communication, or because I didn't feel like I could share my feelings, there was a lot of resentment as a teenager. I felt very alone in my house. Even with two sisters and two parents. I turned to the Lord a lot of times, but I also turned to friends to feel good about myself.

Now, as a parent, I want to make sure that I allow my children to speak, respectfully of course, but I want to be able to ask the right questions, and really hear their heart. Tedd Tripp had 6 awesome questions you can ask your child when they do something wrong, this way you can get to the heart of the matter and also embrace good communication:

1. What were you feeling when you... (hit your sister)?
2. What did ________ do to make you mad/sad/angry?
3. Help me understand how (hitting your sister) seemed to make things better?
4. What was the problem with what she was doing to you? (perhaps they were sinned against, let them tell you about it)
5. In what other ways could you have responded? (or what would have been a better choice?)
6. How do you think your response reflected trust or lack of trust in God's ability to care for and protect you?


Obviously these questions must be age appropriate! If your child is 2 like mine and just learning how to communicate questions like these might not even be appropriate yet, but good modeling and talking about choices (good and bad) might be more age appropriate.

Tedd Tripp says, "You must begin by seeking to understand the internal conflict that was expressed in hitting the sister." (or whatever the situation may be)

Hard work right? But so worth it!

Chapter 9: Embracing Biblical Methods: Types of Communication

Tedd Tripp basically was saying that as parents we may reduce our parenting to rules, correction, and discipline (all of which are important) as our only modes of communication, when in reality there are many more ways of communication:

1. Encouragement
2. Correction
3. Rebuke
4. Entreaty
5. Instruction
6. Warning
7. Teaching
8. Prayer

See Tomorrow's Blog as I continue/delve in deeper with these 8 modes of communication with our children! (Sorry guys...I have sooooooo much cooking to do today...for a friend who just had a baby and for our ladies bible study tomorrow...)

Have a great day!

Saturday Recipe Swap--Spinach Quiche



Happy Saturday my Friends! I don't know where all of you live, but here in New Jersey we are getting lots of white, fluffy snow!!!

Today's Recipe for Spinach Quiche I actually got online, but use all the time! Especially for something to bring to MOP meetings or playdates, or women's bible study...and I always get lots of compliments, because who doesn't love a good quiche now and then? :) (I substitute fat free and light for a lot of the ingredients to make it less fattening)

Please don't forget to check Suzette's recipe for the day...she always posts really good ones at http://godlyrose.blogspot.com

Ingredients:
1/2 cup light mayo
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
8 oz shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (this takes awhile so if you are going to bake in the afternoon take out your spinach to thaw first thing in the morning)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 9inch unbaked pie shell

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F or 200 degrees C
2. Line a cookie sheet with foil (very important b/c the quiche tends to spill over)
3. In a large bowl whisk mayo and milk until smooth
4. Whisk in 4 eggs
5. Layer spinach, cheese, and onion in pie shell, making layers of each
6. Pour in egg mixture
7. Place quiche on prepared cookie sheet
8. Cover quiche with foil
9. Bake for 1 hour

Bon apetit!!!

Book Club Thursday-Confident Woman Ch. 5



The Confident Woman by Joyce Meyer
Chapter 5

Hi friends! Please don't forget to view Suzette's blog http://godlyrose.blogspot.com this week!
Today is all about the Proverbs 31 woman! She is amazing and does it all! She is superwoman who is able to maintain family and a successful business and is known favorably in her town. Her family loves her and she is able to balance family and work effortlessly. She is a woman who we all read about and want to be like. How is she able to do all this and have a family who praises and loves her? What makes her different? How was she able to balance it all?

Let's find out! Joyce Meyer calls this chapter: The Woman I did not like. She makes me laugh--Joyce! Me on the other hand, I've always read this chapter and thought I want to be JUST like her!!! I even had Christy Weaver read this passage at my wedding as a reminder of what kind of wife I wanted to be to John.

Joyce takes each verse 10-31 and discusses just how this amazing woman was able to be so amazing...and honestly, we all know how...she couldn't do it all in her own strength...she was obviously spiritually mature and was fully reliant on her Lord. She comforts and encourages others (her husband especially) because she is comforted and encouraged by God. We can't give to others what we haven't received from Christ...that's just a fact. I love how Joyce says, "A spiritually mature woman will be the first to do what is right even if nobody else is doing so." We need to have that mindset of "audience of one" we should not be out to please others, only God...and by being obedient to him he richly blesses us so that we are indeed a huge blessing to others.

I love verse 15: She rises while it is yet night and gets spiritual food for her household and assigns her maids their tasks.

I know so many moms who wake up even earlier than their little ones just to have quiet time with the Lord. It is a sacrifice, yes, but one that will never ever be regretted. We all need those quiet moments, sometimes on our knees, just praying for our family and friends and for the day ahead of us. If you haven't done it yet, take time to do it now. God is in the business of making all things new and each encounter with Him really helps to put things all in perspective. I've also found the earlier I get up and get my day started I am able to accomplish so much more off my own "to do list"...not everyone is a morning person, though, so do what is best for you and your family. God will bless the time you spend with him.

Verse 16 She considers a new field before she buys or accepts it...

Joyce says, "Oh how much better life would be if we took the time to think about what we are about to do before we do it."

This is so true...how many of us (me especially) have said, or done something that we wish we could take back or undo...if we only gave it more thought and time and asked God for guidance and wisdom we would have seen the error of our ways...am I right? I am one of those people who acts quickly before thinking and trust me, it has gotten me entangled into not so fun situations that I've had to apologize my way out of...Lord help us to "consider" and stop and think more before we act or speak.
Joyce says, "He who is hasty almost always ends up unhappy." "Emotionally driven people usually lead frustrated lives."

Verse 17:She girds herself with strength (spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task) and makes her arms strong and firm.

I knew I liked this woman! She exercises! Love it! I guess because I grew up in a very athletic home, my dad played college football, baseball and softball, my sister was a successful track runner, my mom always took ballet and dance classes, I have always loved physical activities. And being married to John, Mr. Athlete of the year, who still wakes up at 5am each morning to work out before going to work, has given me a love for exercise! It feels so good to use your body and get your heart pumping. This woman obviously took care of herself and her body. Joyce says, "As a Christian your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and you need to keep it in good condition so God can work through you the way He desires to." She also says, "I have finally decided that, to do what I can do is better than doing nothing at all." This is so true, some people love to walk, or run, or play sports, regardless of what you love as long as you are moving each day and at least exercising a few times a week it all makes the difference. We know all the benefits of exercise, but we all sometimes need a little extra push...I find that walking with my mom, or sister, or the kids around the block is more fun for me because I love to walk and talk and having a buddy always helps. I can remember being so pregnant with Julia and my mom and I meeting at the track every other day and walking 2 to 3 miles and loving those times of bonding (and burning calories!) Even Debi Hech and I once Julia was born would put her in the stroller and do our prayer time outside walking around her very large neighborhood, and we would talk and pray as we kept Julia occupied in the stroller. I loved it.

Verse 19: She lays her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

She doesn't waste a minute. She is always working with her hands. Joyce says, "We are not created by God to waste anything He has given us and time is certainly one of the greatest assets we have."

Verse 20: She opens her hands to the poor...

Do you see how awesome she is? She is always thinking of others...now the poor! Joyce says, "I have learned over the years, though, to be an aggressive giver; I look for opportunities and it makes my life exciting and fulfilling." You know what, I totally agree! Whenever I am starting to feel down, or discouraged...I take out my pen and stationary and start my correspondence with people I just love and want to bless, then the focus is off of me, and I really do feel better afterwards!

Verse 21 She fears not the snow for her family, for all her household are doubly clothed in scarlet.

This was awesome how Joyce brought up the scarlet thread from Joshua (Rahab with a sinful past) and how it represented the Savior who was to come. Perhaps she doesn't fear for her household because she has "covered them in prayer with the blood of the Messiah!" What a great reminder how we should be constantly praying for our unsaved loved ones and people we are in direct contact with who don't know Jesus.

Verse 23: Her husband is known in the city's gates...

I truly believe her husband is so well known because of how well she takes care of him and their family. Behind every great man is an amazing woman! Ladies, let's remember to pray for our husbands, uplift them with our words, and compliment them with our personality and our words. The more kind words you encourage your husband with you are truly benefiting your whole family. Men need words of affirmation. At least mine does. That is one of his love languages. I love how Joyce says "Make a decision to be the kind of wife that will cause others to believe your husband is blessed because he has you." ooooh I love that, what a great thing to aspire to!

Verse 25: Strength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure...

I love how she is able to boldly face the future and she sure sounds confident to me!

Verse 26: She opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness...

Have you ever sat with a sister in Christ and just listening to her speak makes you feel like Jesus is right there!? I have...for example just last night, my friend Miriam came over for dinner and me and John and her all sat at the table and listened to her talk, and I was so proud of her! She is so wise and so kind, and is 30!!! But she sounded like a 90 year old veteran of the faith...so much wisdom, now her father was my dean at Baptist Bible College, so she has amazing parents, but she also has made a choice to follow Jesus and to walk in obedience and to think biblically, and it shows! I could listen to her for hours. Joyce also says, "You actually talk to yourself more than you do to anyone else. Be sure what you are saying is something you want to live with..." Our words and thoughts are so powerful...and I fall so short in this department, thank goodness for hope in Christ, because he works with us daily.

Verse 27: ...the bread of idleness she will not eat...

Joyce says, "She doesn't waste her time in things like sitting around gossiping or wallowing in self pity." Ummmm....very convicted here because I have done both! I need to not let these things rule me. I need to have a positive attitude and not talk about people or situations that I only know one side to!

Verses 28-29 Her children rise up and call her blessed...many daughters have done virtuously,...but you excel them all...

She is the best wife anyone could have! Awww, I love her! She exceeds them all! There truly is no better feeling than doing your best for others around you whether it be friends, a husband, your kids, your students, because when you know you've done your best you can confidently hold your head up high! With a great big smile and say, Lord, I gave it my all!

Verse 30: Charm and grace are deceptive, and beauty is vain, but a woman who reverently and worship-fully fears the Lord, she shall be praised!

My favorite verse of all...beauty doesn't last, but honoring God is eternal. Period.

Praying for all of you my sisters in Christ, that we can all honor God with our lives as an act of worship to Him for all He has done for us...truly there is nothing more attractive and confident building than loving and serving and honoring your creator!

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