Saturday Recipe Swap--My favorite

Hey Guys!  I'm going to post one of my favorite recipes that we've had this month since I'm still going through my recipe book for a new one to share with all of you.  Actually on Thursday, Debi, my prayer buddy, is coming over and is going to teach me, hands-on, how to make REAL Spanish Rice!  I'm so excited.  I'll post the pics and our recipe next Saturday!!!  And I've decided to do a Recipe Swap Giveaway (still not sure what I'll be giving away--something yummy and food related of course, or something to use in the kitchen!) but anyone who posts comments on any of my recipe swaps will be entered, and the  more posts you comment the more times your name will go in the basket!  I miss hearing from all of you!!!

Last night we had Penne Pasta Casserole click on the words to get the recipe.

Gymnastics

There isn't a prouder mommy, I love you Julia.
Daddy said yes!

Last Friday we did a trial gymnastics class.  We arrived at 10:25, class started at 10:30, we went to the potty and then Julia was lined up with the other 3 children (all ages 2-3) and brought into the very LARGE gymnastics room with mats on every piece of floor and different stations set up.

Marky and I stood outside and talked with friends and watched Julia from the large window looking in.  First Ms. Michelle warmed the kids up by doing jumping and such, then they sat and did some stretches (the whole car ride there we talked about how important following directions and LISTENING to her teacher was, in fact on the line going in to class, Julia turned back to me and went, "Mom, I (will) listen to (the) teacher!"

Always smiling like mommy

The first station was the trampoline...she LOVES the trampoline, and she LOVES to jump (we don't call her JuJu Bean for nothing...she's always jumping our little bean, who looks so tall and skinny now without wearing a diaper).  The students had to take turns and Michelle gave each child one on one training on how to jump and then land on their "seat" and jump again.  It was awesome to watch.
Always dancing or moving or jumping!



There were about 4-5 other stations with new skills, new instructions, and new one on one time, I love the small class size because each child is given special training.  The last station was the long tumble mat, and the students first lesson is learning how to jump up and down properly and exit the mat to the right.  I think Julia could have taught this part, she did great, apparently not everyone can jump up and down, some kids skip but Ms. Michelle was teaching them the proper way because as they get older they will do all kinds of tumbles and jumps and flips down this mat (so cool).

Loves making friends :)


Lastly, each child had to sit on a mat near the door and if they were good (which they all were) they got stamps all around their feet (they do all this barefoot) and Friday night is bath night, so Julia was quite sad when her stamps washed off, because she was SO proud of them.

She's so proud of herself, and she's getting so big!


Class is supposed to be over by 11:15, but it ran a few minutes over (50 minutes of gymnastics her first day!!!) and as I put her socks and shoes on, JuJu Bean cried her eyes out because it was over, "Again!" "Again!" she kept saying.  I loved how during gymnastics class she got such individualized attention, she got to use her muscles and exercise, she got to be with her friend Samuel from church (he's 2 and such a sweetie).  The only thing that calmed her down was knowing we were going to the Party Gym afterwards, and the fact that I packed a fun snack for her for the car ride.  I grabbed the paperwork (determined to ask John if we could afford this) and said goodbye to our friends Gina and Elizabeth, Brie and Samuel, and we headed to the Party Gym, so Marky could run and play and jump like Julia.

Always wants to be active!


I called Daddy immediately and told him what fun she had (he used to work at that particular Gymnastics Club as a teen) and he promised to think about it.  Yesterday he said yes, and Julia and I could not contain our excitement.  I promised to speak in some chapels (I'm already scheduled for two in December) and do some Focus groups on the side to help pay for it.  At prayer time last night, as all four of us held hands in our circle, Julia prayed very loudly, "And thank you for gymnastics, and I listen to the teacher!"  As we kissed each other good night around the circle (we have a fun ritual) Daddy and Mommy knew they made the right decision.  What a happy girl Julia is...Gymnastics on Fridays!!! Woohoo!!!

Have a great weekend!  Tomorrow is Saturday's Recipe Swap!

Proverbs Walk Thru Chapter 28

Today is October 28, 2010 so we will walk through...
Chapter 28

Verse 1: The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.  I loved this verse because sometimes I feel like "fleeing" a problem or a difficult situation, but it reminded me that I can be bold in Christ and stand firm because I am not alone.  I can be confident in Him.

Verse 6: Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than one perverse in his ways, though he be rich.  God's Word teaches us that man looks at the outer appearance, and success, and wealth, but God looks straight at our heart.  The place that really matters and embodies our soul.  It's better to have character and integrity than a lot of wealth but be wicked.

Verse 7: Whoever keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons shames his father.  I have been praying for Julia and Mark's friends since before they were born.  I pray for companions that will uplift and edify them, friends that build them up in Christ and lead them to do great things for the Lord.  I am a firm believer that you are who you hang out with and surround yourself with.  So if you surround yourself with complainers, or gluttons, or gossips, guess what, you will soon pick up their ways.  If you surround yourself with positive, encouraging, uplifting people, their characteristics are sure to rub off on you!  I'm also going to start praying that Julia and Mark will be positive influences on their friends as well.

Verse 9: One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.  I can remember having a third grade student who behaved so badly in class, but always showered me with a million compliments throughout the day.  It got to the point that every time she opened her mouth to compliment me my heart sank.  One day I pulled her aside and said, "You know what ____________, I'd much rather your good behavior and obedience than your words about what I'm wearing, how my shoes look, or how my hair is styled."  I think this verse is basically saying the same thing, if we aren't willing to obey God's laws, then even our prayers will come across as "an abomination" because we haven't really submitted to God's commands.

Verse 10: Whoever causes the upright to go astray in an evil way, He himself will fall into his own pit; but the blameless will inherit good.  I can't help to think of the verses in the New Testament that talk about how in the end times their will be many false prophets.  I think of many cult leaders who have led people astray by telling lies about God and have gotten people to commit suicide in the name of God or to do horrible things.  These leaders will be held accountable for their actions.  We all need to be on guard for these false prophets and renew our own minds by carefully reading God's Word and not believing or accepting lies that we see on TV or hear on the radio or in the media.  Sat*n is very tricky and crafty.  He is a liar.  Only Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Verse 13: He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.  It wasn't until Graduate School when I renewed my walk with the Lord completely that I learned the true meaning of "keeping short accounts" with God.  And even now I have to be reminded to constantly go to the cross with my faults, my sins, my bad attitudes, my un-forgiveness, my critical-ness, whatever it may be, we all need to constantly asking the Lord for forgiveness and confess our sins to him.  He already knows them, but it is for our own sake that we confess them to the Lord so that we can be free from the guilt and move on in God's Grace.  God will bless us and we will prosper when we live a life of openness and honesty with the Lord.

Verse 14: Happy is the man who is always reverent, but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.  The beauty of being humble is that you realize you have nothing to be proud of in and of yourself, but that all things come from the Lord.  A prideful heart is a lonely heart because a prideful heart isn't giving honor and glory to the Lord.  And when I think of being reverent I think of folded hands and a bowed head.  It's when we are closest to God and realize how much we need Him that God gives us true happiness and joy no matter our circumstance.

Verse 18: Whoever walks blamelessly will be saved, but he who is perverse in his ways will suddenly fall.  I couldn't help but think of the movie Left Behind, starring Kirk Cameron.  The people who are taken in the rapture are those who are one with Christ who have accepted Him to be their Savior.  They realized they are sinners and can't get to heaven on their own merit.  And they believe that Christ came and lived and died and rose again in order to pay for their sins.  Since Jesus is God He lived a perfect life and was able to pay for our sins.  But the people who have chosen to reject Christ will one day stand before a holy God and will have to answer to Him.  I'd much rather bend my knees now than suddenly be face to face with a Holy God that I never tried to get to know and have to come up with a reason why I never got around to having a relationship with Him.

Verse 20: A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.  It's such a great promise to hear that as long as we are faithful to God he will bless us and provide for us.  I've seen that first hand as John works hard at two jobs so that I can be a stay at home mom to our two children which are gifts to us.  God is so faithful to provide for those that He loves.

Verse 23: He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward than he who flatters with the tongue.  Confrontation of sin is never fun to do, but as believers we are called to hold each other accountable.  If some one takes the time to confront you because of something they see in your life that is not God's best for you, take the time to listen.  Instead of being defensive see if what they are saying is from the Lord and pray about it.  And if you see sin in a close friend's life or a family members life, pray for them and ask God to give you the right timing to talk to them about it instead of gossiping about it to someone else.  When you really love someone sometimes you have to take the risk of them being upset with you for a bit.  Like my mom always says, "They will get glad again."

Verse 25: He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife, but he who trusts in the Lord will be prospered.  Lord help us to trust you in all things no matter what.

Have a great week!

The Power of a Praying Wife Chapter 22: His Emotions

Long Beach Island, August
We all need to learn how to be controlled by the Holy Spirit and not by our emotions.  And according to Stormie, "The best gift a wife can give in secret to calm her husband's anger (or any other emotion) is to pray for him."

I don't know about you, but my John is not a very "emotional" person, at least not the way that I am.  I can really get off base and lose the godly perspective and "nurse my wounds" so to speak, where John is over things a lot more quickly.  Maybe that's just a gender issue.  But Stormie also brought up husbands who have bad tempers or anger problems, and I honestly can't relate to that, since John is so laid back and even toned.  (Thank you Lord).

But if you or someone you know struggles with a husband who does have an issue with controlling his temper or has severe anger problems, please know that you can love your husband but not approve of their sinful behavior, or tolerate it.  I know many people who grew up in homes where there parents fought a lot and there were terrible mood swings and severe anger problems going on, but the wife tolerated it and allowed the sinful behavior to continue.  It's in cases like that where not only is prayer needed but it is also important to confront sinful behavior.  Growing up in a home like that is not only unhealthy for the parents but very damaging to the children.

There may also be people struggling with severe depression.  And those negative emotions can also affect your spouse or family members.  You can start to feel hopeless and depressed if you allow that emotion to take over your own heart and life.

I like how Stormie brought up the example of how King David experienced some deep depression-like feelings..."My soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to the grave.  I am counted with those who go down to the pit; I am like a man who has no strength" Psalm 88: 3, 4  "I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long"..."I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of  my heart." Psalm 38: 6, 8

Even though David was feeling such deep despair he found his hope in the Lord.  I love what it says in Psalm 30:3 O Lord You have brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit"..."I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy, for You have considered my trouble; You have known my soul in adversities" Psalm 31:7

I love the verse in the New Testament that says we can "count it all joy when we fall into various trials knowing that the testing of our faith produces patience.  And let patience have it's perfect work that you may be perfect and complete lacking nothing."  When we put our trust in the Lord, it doesn't matter what our circumstances look like, we can rest assure that even if a difficult road is ahead, we don't have to become overly emotional or walk in our flesh, but we can walk in the spirit and receive all of the strength we need to get through each day, through the sun or rain.  Isn't it neat to know that we don't have to be a slave to our feelings or our circumstances, but that we can find joy even in a trial?  God is so good.  He is so awesome.  He always has a plan and He is always working on us to make us more like His Son Jesus!

Let's pray for our husbands...

*Redeem our souls from negative emotions
*Help us to not be controlled by depression, anger, anxiety, jealousy, hopelessness, fear, or suicidal thoughts
*Enable us as wives to be understanding and have words to say that bring life
*Anoint us with the "oil of joy"

Love Dare...
Joy is spelled J-Jesus  O-Others  Y-You
Decide with your husband who you will bring Joy to this month!  Who can you minister to?  Who can you bless?  Who can you bring joy to?  I find that when we focus on Christ first and others, then we have little time to worry or think negatively about our own circumstances.

Thanks for bringing JOY to my life by just reading my blog and being a part of our life.  I love hearing your comments and seeing how God is working in all of your lives.

Mark at 17 months

Once upon a time there was a boy named Mark. 
Who was learning how to eat ice cream like his dad.
And to hold on tight to mommy's hand, especially at a fun new place.
He knows just what he wants and isn't quiet about it.
And he has a big sister who teaches him how to do fun things like run and chase, and how to collect acorns.
And she loves him, and she's his very best friend.
He's learning a whole bunch of new things about the world, and he always has a smile on.
And this boy Mark, is loved very much, by his Daddy, his big sister Julia, and his Mama!
Pray for Marky this week, all four molars have decided to pop in! He's been doing great so far, sleeping same times and all, but I can't imagine how that must feel.  And I also can't imagine that he's 17 months already, where, oh where, has the time gone?

Mommy Movie Review: Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins

Today's review will be on Mary Poppins, click on name to see a trailer of some of the songs.
Suzette is doing Dumbo today.  Please visit her review and rating!

Now, if you know me you know I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE musicals, so Mary Poppins is a favorite over here.  Julia, Marky, Mommy, and Daddy sing along, and dance while we watch this movie, okay, let's be honest, mommy loves to sing and dance to each song!  And poor John says "Just a Spoonful of Sugar" is definitely stuck in his head at work!

Here are Kristi's Positives:

*We like time period movies and this takes place in England in 1910, so we are exposing our children to a "bit of culture" and I love it!
*We love singing and dance with Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins) and Dick Van Dyke (Bert)
*The use of animation is quite good mixed with real life characters
*I love how children and using their imagination is very important in this movie
*Julia loves the part when Mary Poppins comes flying in under her umbrella
*Children are utterly loved and valued by Mary Poppins
*Moral of the story is that quality time spent with one's children is more important than "free time" or money "Toppins"
*I love how Mary Poppins teaches the children responsibility in tidying up the nursery "Spoonful of Sugar song"..."there is a job that must be done, you find the element of fun and snap the job's a game..."  Mary Poppins teaches the children that their perspective and attitude and obedience is what is important
*She also teaches the children that we need to help others "feed the birds" song
* All the songs are catchy and Mary Poppins teaches the children valuable lessons and responsibility
* very humorous
* I love the loving/positive relationship between brother and sister

Some Negatives:
*Why is a cook, maid, and nanny necessary??? Maybe this is to show how the children really need quality time with mom and dad, and that is what Mary Poppins ends up teaching the parents...maybe this is just a cultural or status thing?
* Faults of father seem to be more pronounced (I don't know if I'm being overly sensitive, but it's my opinion) In mother's first solo she sings about how she's fighting for women's rights, and I didn't like the line in the song that says, "Although we adore men individually, we agree that as a group, they're rather stupid."  I think that is dishonoring

My Rating somewhere between an 8-9

***I have not watched Dumbo yet, but if Suzette has watched it and approved it for Addie, it is sure to be a winner, she's already warned me to bring a box of tissues.  It sounds like a very sweet movie for families to enjoy.  I was bummed that I couldn't get my hands on it in time.

Also check out:

Mary Poppins Netflix Review

Saturday Recipe Swap--Wild Rice and Mushroom Pilaf with Cranberries

This recipe is from Real Simple Magazine, November 2010.  We LOVE cranberries, and cran-raisins over here, so when I saw this recipe I knew my husband and my kids would love the sweet surprise to this rice dish!!!

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups long-grain and wild rice blend
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound mixed mushrooms (creminie, oyster, shiitake) sliced
kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon

Directions:

1. Cook rice according to box directions.  Fold in cranberries, cover, and let stand for 10 min.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over med. high heat.  Add onion and cook stirring frequently until tender...5-7 min.  Add mushroom and 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and cook, tossing frequently, until tender 6-8 min. more.  Add wine and simmer until evap., about 1 min.  Stir in parsley and tarragon.

3. Add the mushrooms mixture to the rice and toss to combine!!!

***This will be a side dish of mine, when I make chicken or pork.

Amish

Okay, for those of you who know me really well, this next sentence is going to make you laugh, and for those of you who are still "keeping up with me" well there's more for you to learn.

I always wanted to live on a farm and have a huge family, and take care of horses, and goats, and cows, and pigs.  Maybe it's because I watched Little House on the Prairie as a kid.  Maybe it's because I'm a hopeless romantic who thinks it would be an exciting adventure each day to "live off the land."  But this girl from New Jersey would love to own several acres of land out in Pennsylvania, own a farm, grow my own vegetables, milk my own cows, ride my own horse, and own a Bed and Breakfast which would take in weary travelers whom I could dote on and fuss over and take bake some delicious home made cinnamon bread.

Perhaps that's why the Amish culture in Pennsylvania really intrigues me.  John and I took a mini vacation in Pennsylvania when Julia was about 7 1/2  months old and we stayed in Lancaster for a few days and then drove to Cape May.  While in Lancaster we found out a lot about the Amish, their devotion to God, their devotion to each other, and how they live completely opposite the way we do.  They don't use modern conveniences like cars or phones and they don't watch t.v.  They dress differently, covering most of their body, and they cover their heads with kapps for the women or hats for the men.  They typically have larger families than the average American, and they are devoted to their family and community.  Parents and children work right alongside each other in the fields and it just amazes me how they live right with society but live so completely different.

John and I both said we would love to be Amish after we learned all about how they lived, but I don't think I would do to well without my hair dryer and computer, and my cell phone.  Not that I'm attached to material things (well maybe a tad) but I just can't imagine living without all the modern conveniences we have.  They even speak Pennsylvanian Dutch which if you become Amish, obviously you have to learn.

Last year I finished all my Karen Kingsbury books, the Baxter series was my favorite and when Karen finished the last book, I was so sad to say goodbye to the family I had grown to love.  So I went looking for another good Christian author I could read while my kids took a nap or I happened to have some down time.  And I came across Shelley Shepherd Gray, she is a Christian author who writes a series about a community of Amish people in Sugarcreek, Ohio.  I've read 6 of her novels so far and truly love the way she writes.  Recently, I responded to a book give away contest where you had to write about a character from the Sugarcreek series and share why you liked the character and what they learned in the book....and I won a free copy of her Christmas book: Grace!  It was the first time I ever won a book like that and it was so neat to get the book this week wrapped in a Christmas bow and signed by Shelley!!!

So, if you are looking for a good book to read, or you want to learn more about the Amish, check out Shelley Shepherd Gray's website and grab a copy of one of her books, I really liked Wanted, Hidden, Forgiven (Sisters of the Heart Series)...and thoroughly enjoyed Autumn's Promise, Springs Renewal, Winter's Awakening.  I love how the characters learn more about the Lord and themselves and even though they may be struggling with family relationships, somehow, with God's help they learn to pull through.

I may not become Amish any time soon, but I'd like to think I'm Amish at heart.  My faith, family, and friends, mean more to me than any worldly thing.

Proverbs Walk Thru Chapter 22

Proverbs 22

vs 1: A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.  I think it's obvious that this verse is saying we should be investing in our eternal value and not just into material wealth which will pass away.  It's sad when we see people only care about material, superficial things, and care very little about how they treat people, or how they act.

verse 2 The rich and the poor have this in common, The Lord is the maker of them all.  One question I will have for the Lord is why were there people who had so little when others had so much?  I know God is the maker of us all, but sometimes it just does not seem fair when you see people with so little food, no shelter, and barely any clothes or shoes, and then you see people living the high life in penthouses, driving luxury cars, and full bellies.  One thing is for certain, God loves us all, He created us all, and we all need God, poor or rich.  Blessed is the man who realizes his need of God.

verse 4 By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.  Eternal value is found in having a humble heart and a fear of the Lord, this is what God desires of us.  He wants to bless us with a rich and full life in the simple knowledge of Him.

verse 6 Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.  As parents we have a responsibility to teach our children how to make decisions and learn the difference between right and wrong, so that when they are out in the world they know how to make good decisions and stay on the right path.

verse 7 The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.  I can't help but think of those in over their heads with credit card debt (something my husband and I thankfully do not have...only by God's grace)  It seems to be the American way to buy above and beyond what we can afford because as Americans we feel entitled to have the next best thing instead of being content with what we have.

verse 9 He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor.  I'm praying for ways that I can reach out and bless those around me.  Having a generous spirit comes from the Lord, and it reaches out to those around us and across our world in hopes to share the love of Jesus in tangible ways.

verse 11 He who loves purity of heart and has grace on his lips, the king will be his friend.   I love this verse and I try to surround myself with people who have grace on their lips, me being super sensitive to what people say, I need to hear gracious things not critical.  I need to remember how powerful words are and use my words to bless others. 

verse 15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him.  Discipline is not easy and it is one of the hardest parts of being a parent (that and seeing your child sick or in pain), but I'm praying that God will allow the fruit of my labor to benefit all of us as my children grow, I'm praying that the discipline I do now will allow them to have soft hearts and readily accept Christ for their own life, and see their need for a Savior.

verses 17-18 Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your your heart to my knowledge; for it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; let them all be fixed upon your lips.  I'm seeing a pattern hear of listening to wise advice and watching my words.  The more I am in the Word and surrounding myself with godly people, the more my words are positive and wise.

verse 24-25 Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul.   This reminds me of the verse that says "bad company corrupts good morals"  it's true that when we allow our emotions to control us we negatively affect others, so we need to make sure we choose our friends wisely and that their wrong behavior doesn't influence us.



Thanks for walking with me!

The Power of a Praying Wife Chapter 21: His Marriage

Celebrating 7 years of marriage.
"Praying about all aspects of a marriage keeps the concept of divorce from gaining any hold."

John and I have learned a lot about each other in the past 7 years, and one thing we are always learning to do better is to be better communicators, and most of the time that means being a better listener.  I love James 1:19 which says...

19" My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."

*quick to listen
*slow to speak
*slow to become angry

Have you ever been in a "heated discussion" with your spouse and there was barely any listening happening but a lot of talking?  Have you ever been angry even before your spouse had a chance to share their perspective?  Have you ever been slow to listen but quick to speak and quick to become angry...? Me too...that's why this verse is such a great reminder.

I love to laugh with John.
Laughter really is the best medicine.  When you have a great relationship with your spouse, one where you can relax and be yourself, it becomes so comfortable and so fun, and so much easier to laugh, and not sweat the small stuff.

We may be totally different on the outside, but our hearts are one.
"Marriage is great when two people enter into it with a mutual commitment to keep it strong no matter what."

"Pray continually for your marriage...pray that any unreal expectations be exposed and all incompatibilities be smoothed out so that you grow together in a spirit of unity."

I'm so thankful for a marriage that is built on trust and on the Rock (Jesus is our foundation, praise the Lord).  I am so glad I married John because he and I are on the same page with our values and our faith and our worldview. 

1 Corinthians 10:12 "Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall"  I don't want to take my marriage for granted, no matter how great it is, I want to pray that God continues to protect my marriage from people or any situation that could destroy it.

I want many more years of love and peace in our home...let's pray for each other and our marriages, today.

* Protection for our marriage from anything that would harm or destroy it.
* Shield it from any selfishness or neglect, or the evil plans and desires of others.
* Pray that there will be no thought of divorce or infidelity in our hearts.
* Pray that there will be no jealousy in either of us.
* Let nothing come in our hearts and habits that would threaten the marriage in any way.

Love Dare:
Take a few moments to look through your wedding album, and talk about how you felt on that beautiful wedding day!

Girl Day!

Julia and I got to spend some "girl time" on Saturday at Timothy Christian's Doll Fashion Show fundraiser.  We were able to let our hair down, and do what girls love to do, hang out with other girls, play with our dolls, and eat chocolate.

Julia made some new friends, her doll got a hair makeover, we ate lunch, and visited a Sweet Shop where Julia got chocolate covered oreo cookies and a chocolate covered marshmallow!  She was dancing, and mingling, and having a great time, while I got to reconnect and touch base with lots of my teacher friends.  It was a fun 2 hours, and all the proceeds go to TCS.

It was really nice to be able to have Julia in my lap and just to listen to her talk and do what she wanted to do, and not have to juggle the wants of two kids, but just be focused on the one.  I could tell she was loving all the one on one attention, too.  It was a great day!



I was thankful for the one on one time with my girl, but on the car ride to see Mark and Daddy, we couldn't help but talk about how much we missed our Boys!

Mommy Movie Review: Charlotte's Web

Over the next few weeks I will be giving the positives and negatives of 10 children's movies, and my buddy Suzette will also be doing 10 different children's movies.  Please visit her blog to see her take on the movie Pinocchio.  We hope to make you as moms, and caregivers, an added insight into what goes into our "screening" before we allow our own child or children to watch these shows.  Now, a lot of this comes from experience, and it is definitely our opinion, which you are absolutely allowed to take or leave.  But, Lord willing, we give you a few key insights and you are able to take away something new and see things from another mommy's perspective.

Charlotte's Web

To watch the trailer of the movie click here.  I took my fourth grade class to see this movie when it first came out in 2006.  I was so excited that Julia Roberts (she's always been a beloved actress of mine, I love her style, her grace, her sense of humor, and that loud boisterous laugh of hers) voice was that of Charlotte, the spider. 

To find out more details about the movie click here.  Now, as a teacher, of course I encourage you as a parent or care giver to read the book first!  Novels just have so much more depth than a movie (although this movie did a GREAT job in recreating it...very true to the book).  But if you have toddlers like I do, right now the movie might just be the best start and here's why...

Kristi's Positives
* I love how the movie shows the true nature of farm life, and all the hard work that comes into play
* The movie celebrates life, human life and animal life, and I especially love how Fern (the main character little girl played by Dakota Fanning) sticks up for a runty pig, when she saw that her dad was going to "do away" with him just because he was small
* Fern is loyal and takes good care of her pig, who she names Wilbur...our favorite scene, especially Julia's is when Fern takes Wilbur into her bed and sings a lullaby to her
*Fern makes a promise to care for Wilbur and keeps her promise even when its difficult (perseverance)
*Accepting others even when we look different on the outside, Charlotte is not liked by all the barn animals because she is a spider and considered "gross and ugly" but Wilbur the pig thinks she is beautiful and amazing
*Talks about loneliness...all children at one point or another will feel lonely, and this movie shows how Wilbur didn't give up, but was friendly and was able to make friends by his kindness towards others.
*I love the vocabulary in the book and in the movie, it is great for children to hear
*I like how the movie touches on death, and how Charlotte shares with Wilbur that death is a part of life, it's totally natural, and nothing to fear, even though of course Wilbur and (all of us are sobbing by now) the movie watcher feel it is unfair and unjust, Charlotte handles her life and her passing with such strength and grace...I know she's only a spider, but I think who ever wrote this book (and movie) did a great job of showing how we live, and die
* I felt that this is a great movie for toddlers and children and adults
* I love how Charlotte made a promise to her friend Wilbur (who finds out he may become Christmas dinner) and she risks her own life to keep her promise, she even says, "It was my pleasure..." It reminded me of how lovingly Christ spread his arms wide on that cross and died for our sins so that we can have eternal life with Him...I can't wait to make all these connections to my children as we grow with this movie
* Finding Miracles in God's creation...from a simple thing like how a spider makes it's web, to the fact that no two snowflakes are the same
*Finding the miracle in friendship..."It is not often someone comes along that is a true friend and a good writer, and Charlotte was both."  (Suzette, I thought of you with that last line...not only do you bless people with your loving friendship but you use your blog and your written word to reach out and show us your love and kindness and you allow us into your daily happenings)
* I love movies that make you cry...and this one definitely did!  (Watch it with a box of Kleenex people!)
* Every good movie has good vs evil, and I love how Templeton the Rat, was definitely the little selfish villan, but the barn animals including Wilbur and Charlotte draw even the despised rat into their lives and soften his heart, and by the end of the movie even he is changed...but you'll have to see the movie to find out how!

Kristi's Negatives
 * I really couldn't find any, but I didn't like how Fern sassed her parents, and talked back, so I would probably talk to my kids about how that was disrespectful, but sometimes she was just defending what she was doing...so it wasn't too terrible
* Nature and life were honored, but God wasn't, so as a parent sitting side by side watching this with my kid I would definitely be sharing how amazing God is who created the animals, and the spiders to spin webs, and do such miraculous things

Krist's Rating
 I give this movie a 9.8!

Pinocchio
Don't forget to stop by Suzette's blog today to view her take on this movie!  I remember this movie from when I was little and I always loved Jiminy Cricket who was Pinocchio's conscience.  I haven't showed this movie to my kids yet but we just got the video and I'm excited to see their reaction.  I love how Pinocchio's bad behavior gets him into a heap of trouble and how his conscience is always trying to get him to make the right choice and tell the truth!  This is a great movie to discuss with kids about the Holy Spirit and how the Holy Spirit reveals our sins to us and allows us to feel convicted when we do something wrong...I can't wait to read what Suzette has to say!

Saturday Recipe Swap--Crispy Pork Cutlets with Arugula and Apple Salad

Ingredients:

1/4 cup flour
2 Large eggs beaten
4 thin pork cutlets (about 1lb)
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
kosher salt and black pepper
5 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice plus lemon wedges for garnish
1 bunch of arugula, thick stems removed (about 4 cups)
1 apple, thinly sliced

Directions:

*Place the flour, eggs, and panko each in a separate bowl (shallow)  Season the pork with salt and pepper.  Coat the pork in the flour, then the eggs, then the bread crumbs.  You need to press gently to help it to stick.

*Heat 3tbsp of oil in large skillet over medium high heat.  Cook pork until golden and cooked through, 2-3 minutes per side, transfer to a paper towel  lined plate.

* Meanwhile in  a large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice, the remaining 2 tbsp of oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and pepper.  Add the Arugula salad and apple and toss to combine.  Serve with pork and lemon wedges.

*RealSimple.com  Sept 2010  (my favorite magazine)

Hubby Interview

Here is an interview I did on John this week for fun, and it was so neat to hear his answers and laugh with him about it.

I thought it might be fun for you to see my hubby from his own perspective and through his own answers...I did have to keep reminding him to be blog appropriate, because he is very silly!

1. If you had an entire day to yourself what would you do?  I would start the day off fishing and crabbing with my dad and uncles at like 4am, hang out with my wife and kids for the rest of the day and end the day with an intellectual talk with Ravi Zacharias (Christian Apologist).



2. What's your favorite part about being a Daddy? When I see that Julia is learning about the Bible and she wants to sit down and read it with me because she enjoys it so much.

3. What do you like most about your job (s)? Financial Advisor: I like learning about the financial and political world and seeing how closely they are intertwined.  Taekwondo School Owner/Instructor: Seeing my students progress and gain confidence.

4. How many kids do you want? I'd like 5 or 6 (much to my surprise, I might add) One more biological and I'd like to adopt children. (I knew that part).



5. If you could change anything about Kristi what would it be?  Is this a trick question??? (we laughed a lot) "Now that is just a stupid question!!!" (I love him).

6. What's your dream car? A Dodge Stratus (more laughing, inside joke) Whatever car you are in.  "No John really???" A BMW M6 Convertible (Nice choice!!!)

7. What's your favorite childhood memory?  Off-roading with my dad's truck. (don't ask me what this means, but it sounds dangerous!  Mark will NOT be doing this.)

8. Were you considered a rule follower or a rule breaker growing up?  Rule follower

9. What's your favorite movie? (Okay, John could not think of one, so here are his top favorites) 1. Elf  2. Dumb and Dumber  3. Braveheart  4. Last Samurai  5. Lord of the Rings  (I would gladly watch any of these movies with John but NOT dumb and dumber, come on, there is just no way)

10. If you won the lottery, what would you spend the money on?  I'd pay off my parents mortgage and my in-laws mortgage, buy some real estate in Europe (love it) Invest (of course) Spend time setting up orphanages in India and China (we'd like to adopt from China).

11. Are you a handy man around the house or do you/Kristi call in back up when things need fixing?  handy man (but my wife doesn't believe me)

12. What's one thing you're most proud of from your adolescent years?  Becoming a black belt at age 9.  (taekwondo really helped John's confidence when he was younger, he got picked on at school a lot)

13. Name a few of your hobbies.  Golf, taekwondo, reading, writing, painting.

14. What's the hardest part about being a Dad?  Seeing my children cry when they are pain or they are sick.

15. What do you like to do with your friends, when you have time?  Golf, have a good meal and conversation.  (Hence, why we BELONG in Europe!!!)



16. What would be a perfect date night with Kristi? (Okay he had way too much fun with this answer, he even said there was not enough ink in my pen...it took forever!)  First we would go to Le Peep for breakfast
followed by a helicopter ride and a brisk tour to see NYC skyline.  Then we would land in Central Park.  Go to the MET museum for an afternoon stroll.  Lunch at a fine restaurant in Manhattan.  Then we would buy pastries and toys for my Aunt Leah's kids and drop them off.  And we would end our evening with dinner and a Broadway show!!! (Do you see why I married him????)




Have a great weekend!!!

Proverbs Walk Thru

Hey Everyone!

I've been so excited about my blog these days!  I just got a new great idea to do a chapter walk thru through the book of Proverbs.  I don't know if it's because I'm a teacher at heart or a lover of learning, or the fact that as a mommy I need wisdom every day, but Proverbs is one of my favorite books of the Bible!

Each Thursday we will take a walk thru a specific chapter and draw out some really special truths that God has for us.  Today we begin with one of my favorite chapters (besides chapters 3, and 31) Chapter 15.

As we walk thru the chapter I will select verses on which to comment on and share what God is teaching me or what He has taught me.  And for the sake of time I may not get to every verse or will skip over some, my goal is to do at least 8-10 verses (if not more).  But read the whole chapter when you get a chance!  

As a little girl I memorized Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  I love this verse because not only is it so true, but so many times we struggle with the words that people say to us, and sometimes their words might not be as hurtful as the WAY they say them.  We carry so much power in the WAY we choose to speak.  Do we raise our voice when we are angry?  Do we sarcastically drop little hints?  Do we snicker before we speak.  Usually our tone of voice and the WAY we say our words really show our true meaning.  Sometimes right before a conversation on the phone I pray this verse to myself and ask God to help my words to be gentle, another translation says, a soft answer. 

Proverbs 15: 2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. I long to speak with wisdom and use my words to bless others, not to show off, or sound foolish, but to impart my knowledge rightly, especially with my children.  We know wisdom comes from God, have you ever heard someone say something and it sounded foolish?  Sometimes when we allow our words to POUR out or we speak TOO MUCH sometimes we will sound foolish.  I always find it difficult to just say what I mean and mean what I say, and not say too much.

Proverbs 15: 3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.  I'm so thankful that God is in control.  That He is sovereign over all things, and that the battle is His.  Sometimes when I feel things are not fair or are not in control I need to remember this verse because He does see it all, and what's even better is He knows our hearts and every one's motives even when we don't.  Thank goodness for a God who never sleeps!  Thank goodness for a just God who keeps watch over the evil and the good.

Proverbs 15: 4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.  I love the verses in Psalms that talk about how a tree is representative of life and a righteous man.  And how God blesses the tree with rivers of water and it brings forth fruit in its season, all because the righteous man meditates on His word day and night (Psalm 1: 1-3)  Isn't it true that when we are right with God and in His word more often than not, our words are wholesome, and they bring joy to others?  What a great promise.

Proverbs 15: 5 A fool despises his father's instruction, but he who receives corrections is prudent. I think I love this verse more now that I am a parent because it is so true that if our children obey our instructions and corrections things will go well for them (because we love them and want what is best for them) But a foolish child ignores instruction and then gets into a heap of trouble.

Proverbs 15: 6 In the house of the righteous there is much treasure.  But in the revenue of the wicked is trouble.  When you hear stats like 67% of all marriages end in divorce, and see so many "broken" families because there is a lack of a relationship with the Lord, it just shows you how much we are all broken without Christ and how He really does help us keep our families and relationships together.  He gives us the will to love when we may not feel it, and He gives us the strength to live each day to honor Him by being faithful and loyal to our families.  In the house of the righteous there is much treasure.  And that treasure has nothing to do with material things but everything to do with eternal things.

Proverbs 15: 14 The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.  It's true that only God puts that desire in our heart to want to seek Him, that's why He promises if we seek Him with our whole heart we will find Him.  But we should never pat ourselves on the back because we "found" God, God doesn't need to be found, He's been here all along waiting patiently for us to choose Him and obey Him and to hear and listen to His voice.

Proverbs15: 22-23 Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.  A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!  It is wise to seek counsel from older, wiser, godly people we trust.  I have found that the more I ask people to pray for me, the more I am willing to listen to other people's advice, and I do mean really listen (sometimes we ask for people's advice but if their advice isn't what we want to hear we disregard it, not always wise) and the more I pray about "big decisions" I feel God's peace to take the next step.

Proverbs 15: 28 The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.  Here that word "pour" is again, which to me is a great picture of how we get ourselves in trouble with our words when they just POUR out like liquid.  When we take the time to pray before we speak and watch our words, the less we regret what we have said.

Hope you are feeling wiser today!  Thanks for walking with me thru Proverbs 15...

The Power of a Praying Wife Chapter 20: His Attitude

 We wake up every day and we make a CHOICE what kind of attitude we will have.  Will we choose to be complaining, angry, negative, stubborn, unforgiving?  Will we choose to think about the past?  Will we worry?  Will we be God-controlled or flesh-controlled?  Our circumstances may not be perfect, we may not wake up happy, but we can choose to honor God with our attitude and be a blessing to others rather than a curse.

We've all encountered the rude sales person who has had a bad day and takes it out on us.  We've all be on the road and heard four lettered words from impatient people.  None of us is immune to being hurt by other people's bad attitude, but we can CHOOSE to not be that person that hurts others.

I thought about this chapter and thought about John's attitude, and I was the one convicted.  John is a happy go lucky type of personality that just goes with the flow.  For the most part, he is annoyingly always in a great mood (just kidding, its not annoying, it's sweet) He really does his best to not let his attitude be affected by his circumstances, but this is definitely a God-thing, and not a John thing.  Growing up John did struggle  a lot with his attitude.  Before he knew Christ you wouldn't have even recognized the John we all love and know now.  He was constantly trying to fit in with his friends, and pretty much hated school (even though he was really smart) and struggled with his parents.  He wasn't the confident, fun loving person he is now.  Isn't it amazing how once God gets a hold on your life you really do become a New Creature?  I love it.

He isn't one to dwell on the past.  He wants to be at peace with everyone and move forward.  He is quick to forgive and is very loving.  Hence, why I married him!

This week I'm going to pray that John and I will have soft hearts toward God and that we allow God to control our attitude and that we have a spirit of thankfulness no matter what.



Psalm 101: 2  I will behave wisely in a perfect way, Oh, when will You come to me?  I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.


Proverbs 28: 14 Happy is the man who is always reverent, but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity. 

Let's pray that:
* God fills us with His love and peace
*May we feel a calmness, serenity, and sense of well being established in us because our life is God controlled
*Enable us to walk with a clean and perfect heart
*Shine the light of Jesus
*Allow the Spirit to fill us with His love

Love Dare-
*Hold hands while watching a movie/show!

Our Wedding Rings

Ephesians 5: 24, 25
Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.

Julia has asked me and her daddy about our wedding rings.  We've told her many times that we both gave each other rings when we got married to show how much we love each other.

Today in the car Julia said to me, "Mom, daddy gave you you ring?" (she's only 2 1/2 sometimes her grammar isn't always perfect)  "Yes, baby."  "He loves you?"  "Yes, he does."  "Daddy loves me too, mommy!  I miss daddy!" she says.

Then later in the evening when we were in my room brushing her hair after bath time she went over to my dresser and looked at our wedding picture.  She got so excited. "Mommy, you dress!  You married dress!"  "Yup that's when daddy and I got married!  That's my wedding dress!"  she repeats everything I say, but with a question..."That's you wedding dress, yeah?"  "Yeah, doesn't daddy look handsome?"  Now, don't laugh, but she actually said, "No, Marky is our handsome boy!"  LOL I guess because I'm always saying how handsome Marky is!

After we both laughed we began talking more about my wedding day and I told her how we gave each other rings because we were promising to God we would always be together because we loved each other.

It's moments like these that make me stop and think about what is important in my life.  It makes me think about the decisions I have made, and how God has just been so good to us and so faithful.  I feel so blessed to be able to have a family.

And when I looked at my wedding rings today I couldn't help but smile, and give thanks to God.

Psalm 92: 1-2 It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High.  To declare your loving kindness in the morning, and your faithfulness every night.

Mommy Movie Review

Movie Night at the Macs
 I don't know about you, but I'm taking this job as "mommy" very seriously.  I know you all are to!  We only have our children for so many years before they move out on their own and begin leading their own lives.  Children are a gift.  They are given to us and it does matter what we teach them and how we guide them in this life.  It does matter what we allow them to experience, to see, to learn.  Proverbs 22:6 is my parenting motto: "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it."  God has given us as parents a high calling and a mighty difficult job, but if we look to Him and His standards I know He will be pleased.  Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!"  God gives me the strength each day to do the absolute best that I can (I mess up plenty, but He is also there to dust me off and send me back on my way) with both my children, and for the record, being a parent IS NOT EASY!  But, it is incredibly rewarding, and funny, and wonderful, especially when they are this young and all you want to do is kiss their cute faces all day long.

When this blog post idea came to me to do a movie review of children's movies, I knew I had to involve my Suzette somehow!  We both have daughters practically the same age (almost 3 years old) and we've grown up together when she used to live here in NJ.  We both love the Lord, we want to honor Him with our lives, and we want our children to grow up in homes that protect our children from a secular worldview.  We believe in the truth of God's Word, the Bible, and we believe that every minute counts in training up our children in the way that they should go.

This new Monday post will be from October 18th thru December and each one will highlight one children's movie from my perspective and one from Suzette's perspective.  We each hope to use the wisdom and discernment God has given us, and some real research and searching on our part.  How many times have you started to watch a movie with your child and as the movie was playing you thought to yourself, "something doesn't sit right with me about this film?"  But maybe you just couldn't put your finger on it.  Well, we hope to highlight 20 movies for you and perhaps save you the time of starting a movie and having to stop it, or encourage you to rent/buy some really great children's films out there!  We will share the positives, negatives, and give each movie our Mommy Rating 0-10, zero meaning no way and 10 meaning excellent movie!

We encourage you to read both our posts since it will feature a different movie, and we also want to hear back from you with your opinion or take on the movie.  We hope to spark some really good dialogue and highlight some thought provoking issues.  Don't be afraid to disagree with us or side with us!  We love reading your comments.  We are both praying that this Mommy Movie Review post will really allow us to share our biblical perspective with moms all over.  And that perhaps it may help to shed light on some things you might not have thought of.  We pray that it allows all of us to choose wholesome movies for our kids that we can feel totally comfortable with what they are watching and learning from the material we allow them to see.  Because believe me, they are watching and they are learning.  It doesn't matter how old they are the messages that movie makers want to send out are getting sent out, and we may need to be a bit more careful.  Just because a movie is rated G, DOES NOT mean it is suitable for your child.

So tune in next week for our first Mommy Movie Review!!!  And if you have any suggestions of movies you'd like rated that we don't cover, well, we just might have to do another one!

Beautiful Newborn

On Thursday, October 7th, at 9:59 a.m. Elizabeth Grace was born!  The minute John walked in the door, he allowed me to drive off to the hospital to see Christy and Mike's precious baby girl, and let me tell you, she is a beauty.  Right now she is a Mini Mike, with olive skin and dark curly hair, but I know as time goes by she will begin to resemble her beautiful, wonderful, mommy!

I got to just hug my Christy and Mike and chat with them all about their birth experience and hear all the details of Elizabeth's first day in the world.  What an experience.  Christy was so brave and Mike was a great support to her.  I'm so proud of them, and now, it begins!  Parenthood!!!  I would love to post the pics I took, but I don't think it's fair to post pics before the proud parents get to, so I will hold off til they are home and settled!

I can't wait to see them this weekend (I get to bring their first meal to them!) And this time I'm bringing John, he couldn't wait to see pictures of Elizabeth, his first words were, "Do you want another one, now?"  and then he went on to say, "I do!"

There's something so super special about newborns and new parents.  It's just the coolest experience and my words can't even explain how happy and relieved I felt when I got to be there last night.  I told John, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders, I'm just so thankful she's here safe and sound and that Christy is ok.  Thank you Lord for answering our prayers!

It was also fun to take the kids shopping and buy baby Elizabeth some girl outfits!  Lots of pink, blue, brown, and poka dots!!! (Christy and I love poka dots on girls, and especially brown and blue or pink and blue together)  Julia kept saying to me in the store, "I want to hold that baby!"  And I was like, "Me too!"  Holding baby Elizabeth was so special, she was so perfect and peaceful, not a peep.  She's 7lbs 11 oz and 21 inches long, almost exactly what Julia was, except Julia was 8.1 oz.  It brought back so many memories of bringing my first baby girl into this world, and I was just so happy to share all that with my Christy!

Christy and Baby B

My bestie Christy is currently (it's Wednesday evening right now) in the hospital with contractions and will soon be a mommy for the first time!  We don't know if she's having a boy or a girl, but I'm just so excited I can't even sit still!

Christy and Mike are just the sweetest couple you will ever meet.  They were married in 2005 (It was my first time as a bridesmaid, it was so fun!) and when Christy sat on my kitchen floor this past winter as she played with Marky and told me she was pregnant, I couldn't be happier!!!

I'm waiting on pins and needles and just praying that all goes well!  I can't believe soon I will be visiting her, and crying my eyes out because I'll be so happy for her, and will get to hold a part of her!  Isn't it so weird that you can just love a little person even before you meet them or know them?  I texted her today that I can't wait to love this new mini part of her and Mike!  I really can't!

God is just so good, and I can't think of two more deserving people than Christy and Mike.  They just love the Lord with all their heart and they are going to make fantastic parents.

Lord, be with them, be with Christy through each contraction, help her to feel your presence and rely on you for strength, give the doctor's wisdom, and allow Mike to be as helpful and comforting as possible.  I pray Christy has awesome nurses who will bless her and give her just what she needs when she needs it.  I pray the baby will be safe and strong and super healthy.  I pray Christy will have a great birth and that it will be everything she hopes it to be.

I'm keeping my phone on all night, right by my bed, and when I find out the good news...boy or girl...I'll be posting it as an addition to this post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OOOOOOOOOOOH I just can't wait!  I can't wait to go to the hospital, and to cook meals, and to help Christy, and to hear all about the delivery!!!

If you are reading this, please pray with us for Christy, Mike, and this beautiful new life!

The Power of a Praying Wife Chapter 19: His Past

Life before kids

Chapter 19: His Past

Philippians 3: 13, 14 Brethren I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  

We all have things in our past that we wish we could forget or do over.  We've all made mistakes.  Isn't it great that we serve a God who wants to forgive us and help us to move forward?  We should never feel like we have to stay in the past or feel bondage because of the past.  John 8:32 "And you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free."  

We can pray that God allows us to find the truth so that it does set us free so that we CAN move forward!  We can pray that God delivers us from our past.  We need to learn from our past but not live there.  We serve a God who is a redeemer and a restorer.  He can redeem the past and restore what was lost.  WOW!  What a promise!  Joel 2:25 "So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you."  

One of the main reasons it is so painful to live in the past is it can affect the people you love the most, and in this instance, as parents if we live in the past we can pass that pain on to our children.  I am an example of that.  My father grew up in a very damaging home life.  His parents did not show him love or treat him well, and he grew up with a lot of issues all stemming from his own childhood.  And because he never got counseling or didn't give those issues over to the Lord right away, he passed down his pain onto his own children, and he never meant to.  He tried to be a good father, but when you live in the past, it affects the people around you.

I don't know about you but I don't want to pass on a legacy of pain and suffering.  I want to leave a positive legacy, an uplifting one, one to be proud of, and one that brings glory to God!  We don't have to pass on a heritage of "divorce, anger, anxiety, depression, or fear," as Stormie lists.  We need to cry out to God for deliverance and step out of the past, and MOVE toward a bright and glorious future and receive all that God has for us.  When we walk in God's truth and in the confidence of His love we are no longer weak but strong.

Be patient and pray, and take one day at a time.

Pray that:

* God will enable ______________ to let go of the past completely.
* Deliver ____________ from any hold it has on them.
* Help us to put off our old nature and former conduct and to renew our minds. Romans 12:2
* Make all things new in our life. Revelation 21: 5
* Help us to see that you can turn bad things in our life into something good and for your glory!

****Are you enjoying praying for your husband? I am!!!

Love Dare: Text your husband throughout the day and tell him how much you LOVE him!



Who Does God Say I am?

 At our first Ladies Bible Study meeting 3 weeks ago, I printed out these four pages of affirmations from Scripture of all the wonderful things that God says we are.  To be a confident woman in the Lord we sometimes need to be reminded of these truths.  When you realize how much you are loved by God and how valuable you are, you can't help but to hold your head up higher!  I enjoy my relationship with Christ and I am so thankful that I am a child of God.  I pray these 12 truths bless you today! (I will share more next week)

* I am a child of God. (I am a daughter of a King! Which means I am royalty, I better act like it)

* I am a branch of the true vine. (If I stay connected to the vine I can bear much fruit!)

* I am a friend of Jesus. (We are not slaves to sin any longer, but friends to God)

* I have been justified and redeemed. (This is a gift from Christ)

* My old self was crucified with Christ, and I am no longer a slave to sin. (I no longer have to sin, I can choose to move away from bad habits and start living a life that pleases the Lord)

* I will not be condemned by God. (There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ...Romans 8:1)

* I have been set free from the law of sin and death. (I get to live with God in heaven for eternity...He is coming back for me!)

* As a child of God, I am a fellow heir with Christ. (We will be glorified with Him!)

* I have been accepted by Christ. (Satan may try to condemn me but once I have confessed my sins to Christ they are as far away as the east is from the west and Christ accepts me the way I am!)

* I have been called to be a saint. (I have been called to do great things for the glory of God)

* In Christ, I have wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. (Because of all that Christ has done for me, I can bless others and shine for him!)

* My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who dwells in me. (My body does not belong to me, it matters how I treat my body, what I wear, what I eat, if I exercise, all of this matters because my body is a gift from God and I want to honor God with all that I do!)

I am a confident woman because God created me, and God doesn't make mistakes!  He makes all things new!

Harvey Cedars (Long Beach Island) Women's Retreat

This was a weekend I will not soon forget.  Not only was I able to be with 46 godly women, but I was able to sit down and discover my vision, my mission, and my life verse.  It was a retreat all about discovering your spiritual gifts, and many of us have been Christians for a long time and have been in ministry and have been using our gifts for God, but taking the time to really study all our gifts and come up with a plan to put into action to glorify God was amazing!

Our speaker was Jan Kwiatkowski and she has accepted Christ as her Savior in 1975.  She has been serving on her church's leadership borard for 11 years and worked as a treasurer there for 13 years.  She has a huge heart for women's ministry and since 2005 she has been arranging simple get togethers with women with a variety of themes.  She began speaking at women's retreats in 2006 and her life verse is Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."

What I liked about Jan is that she shared her heart and soul with us (she shared some really personal things about how she became a widow and how God began showing her what her gifts and callings were after her husband passed away).  She also gave us a LOT of homework (even an hour long test we had to take before we came to the retreat) and then many assignments while we were there.  But the student in me loved the challenge and loved having to "think" and use my brain!  The assignments were thought provoking and time consuming but in the end it was so worth it.

Our first test that we took prior to the retreat was to discover our spiritual gifts.  My top 5 gifts were, teaching, wisdom, knowledge, evangelism, and hospitality.  Then we had to do more assessments to figure out how we can use our gifts to benefit others and to glorify God.  And how were we going to leave the retreat changed and ready to really use our gifts for the people in our homes, church, and community.

Our final assignment was to come up with our Vision statement, Mission statement and Life verse, and so here is what I came up with.

My Vision: I exist to brighten the day of the women around me, to excite them in hearing God's truth and to encourage them to live godly lives by effectively pointing them to Christ by my written words (my blog), my spoken words (my Bible Study) and my life.

My Mission Statement: I passionately enjoy mentoring and teaching women of all ages by motivating them to a deeper relationship with Christ and inspiring them to live godly lives.

My Life Verse: Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

It's exciting to know that God will reveal so much to us when we take the time to study and listen and really ask Him for guidance.  I had a great time bonding with the women there, many of whom come to Ladies Bible study on Tuesday, and many of whom I am already close to at church.  I got to room with my friend Marian, and a woman named Edith from Nigeria!  Edith was a HUGE blessing to me.  We stayed up talking Saturday night about her 5 children (3 of which are in college) and what life was like in Nigeria.  I loved hearing her accent and learning about her culture, and let me tell you, she LOVES the Lord!  Before we left the room she grabbed both our hands to pray with us.  I loved it!

God has been showing me that my family is definitely my main "MISSION" right now, since I am wife and mother to two small ones and my goal is to raise them in a godly home and to come to a personal relationship with Jesus.  But God has also showed me that my personality and gifts can be used in tangible ways to the teen girls I mentor and have over for fun or bible study, to the women I speak to each week on Tuesdays at church, to the Elementary Sunday School class I teach on Sundays, to the women, like you, who read my daily blog.  No matter where I go, or what I do, I can shine my light for Christ.  And I'm excited to do just that!

I challenge you to take the time to think and pray about your sphere of influence...who is watching you?  who looks up to you?  who do you minister to and encourage?  What gifts has God given you to bless others with?  What is your vision? your mission? your life verse?

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I could not have gone on the retreat without my husband who graciously took the children and cared for them all day Saturday and part of Sunday.  He did an awesome job and made my life so much easier!  I am truly blessed!

Proverbs 31:10 - "Guest Writer"

 
“An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.”

For all of you who read this blog – it is true – my wife is an angel sent from God.  Yes, it is I , the husband.  Today Kristi left at 7:30am to Harvey Cedars to the woman’s retreat.  I have been entrusted with a 30-hour time period – in which I have been fully immersed into a “day in the life” of my queen.  



I did not want to half-way it either.  I tried my best to do exactly what she does for me every day.  It has been a very, very tiring day.  However, it was filled with abundant blessing.  Here is what my wife does and what I have partaken in:

The day started with Julia making her funky noise with her nose at 5:45am, which means she wanted her milk.  I gave it to her and immediately got into the shower-dressed and brought kids downstairs as they were both up as I stepped out.  Kristi had them ready at the bathroom door for me ;-).  I then made everyone breakfast – packed Kristi a breakfast, snack, coffee and note of encouragement in my work carry-cooler I take every day.  (Yes, everyday she packs me lunch – snacks and numerous notes of encouragement – so I had to do the same – telling her I was praying for her weekend, that if God would encourage her half as much as she does to me, she will be returning completely refreshed.)

I blinked, mom was gone – it was just me and the kids.  Dress kids, check, pack snacks, check, Mark nap, check, pour daily milk/juice cups, check, brush Julia’s hair….brush Julia’s hair….hair…what the heck….HOW THE….ok, Google, “little girl brush hair.”  



We then hit the streets – I did as many errands as humanly possible.  A&P - post office, Bagel store.  Julia took her nap, and I prepped for the rest of the day by cleaning the house with what I messed up (as Kristi left it immaculate). 

Today we had to be out from 1-4 pm for our open house so we then we went to the park, where Mark ate dirt and Julia had a great time on the playground.  We also ran all over the soccer field, and they just ran and laughed.  One of those moments where you are out in the fresh air, a beautiful day, seeing your kids running and laughing under God’s beautiful heavens and you say, “Thank you my Lord, for your goodness to me.” 



Next stop – Pizza!  Eating out with two kids, not an easy thing, especially when one has to “pee on the potty” every 5 minutes.  Then Farmer’s Market for some more groceries.  Then we went to Walmart – where I bought Mark a buzzer because I’m so cheap I don’t want to pay for a $10 haircut for a little boy when I can give him a wicked fade myself.  ($10 a haircut – about 5 per year - $50 + tips..buzzer - $30..paid off by month 7 – reinvest the rest for college - BINGO!)


  
Then we went to Ciconnes for some cold cuts for the week. When we finally got home – it hit me.   “Ow! My back!!”  And whenever I would bend over to change Marky on the floor, Julia would jump on my back and say “IIIIIII missssssss you Daddy!”   What can you say?

Then it was off to the back yard – cut Marky’s hair – ate dinner – watched Mary Poppins (Oh Jesus come back soon!)  Then it was bed time.  PJ’s – brush teeth – last potty call – prayer – lights, FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!

Over yet – yea right!  Not my wife!  Then I cooked!!!!

Beef stew in crock pot – CHECK!  Marinara sauce for week – CHECK!  Homemade Hazelnut coffee muffins and Orange Walnut Rosemary muffins for Sunday school class – CHECK!. 

Clean house – prep Sunday School lesson – write blog. . . .oh pillow, where have you been all my life.

Hardest things:

Brushing little girl hair
Keeping little girl out of street
When we prayed at meals Julia thanked God I was not at work today

Learning Opportunities:

Multiple patience practicing opportunities – Julia gave me one every 3 minutes.  For example, we were in the backyard after Mark’s haircut and the baby pool was full of rain water where she dumped a bucket on her body repetitively.   After several talks for several reasons throughout the day, I realized it!  She’s two.  At two, who cares.  They think – look – water – cool – it would be even cooler to dump it on myself (shoes on doesn’t register either).  So I said to myself – she’s having fun.  Pick your battles John!  You see Julia could technically get a spanking every 30 seconds for things like this.  But after today – I realized – character John! Character is what matters!  My daughter has an immensely strong will.  She does not  like to apologize either.  Is blatant disobedience  spank worthy? Yes.  But the “this is cool in the mind of a two year old stuff” – totally have to let that go.  Even join in!  Who cares if you’re wet – have fun with your kids!  Build the relationship now so you build a house of bricks to last the teen years! 

[My preaching professor in seminary let his kids dress themselves and they looked a mess every Sunday.  Some snobby lady came up to him and said, “I can’t believe your son looks like that, and you let him.”  So my professor said, “well, I’ve seen your children..and I’d much rather my son look like that on the outside and have the heart he does, then look like your son with the heart he has.”  WAM! – I’m in that camp.]  

Most enjoyable:

Seeing my children for an entire day, just them and me.  Amazing blessing.
Realizing how much my wife loves me, everyday, by doing what she does, once.
Was it hard, oh yea!  Was it fun and enjoyable – oh yea, would I say that after 3 straight days of this,,,no comment.

“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband”
-Proverbs 12:4-

I love you my sweet!


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