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Friday, December 17, 2010

Matthew 25:40

This message is powerful and purposeful. As an adoptive mother of four of God's precious children, my heart was deeply touched. Please, consider watching and then remember to pray for least of your brothers and sisters. Thanks, Jeanine, for sharing this with me.



Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Charlie Brown christmas tree

"Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown."
It's a good thing that show is so very endearing to me because I am officially the recipient of my very own Charlie Brown tree.
Complete with needles that fall off every time you touch a branch.
That would be LOTS of falling needles.
And 40 fingers touching them no matter how many times we explain it. "Now, now. If you continue to touch those limbs, we're going to opening gifts on Christmas day beneath the Christmas stump, not the Christmas tree because there simply won't be any tree left to speak of."
Seriously, it's that bad.

Our December schedule looks like a football team's play book right now. There are scribbles and scratch-outs, lines and arched arrows all OVER the page. Add eraser marks, pencil ins, and lots and lots of sloppy handwriting (including mystery abbreviations) and, well, welcome to December at our house. Please, do grab yer self a wassail but then step out of the way before someone plows you over on their way out the door in a mad rush.

IT'S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE THIS! (I know this, btw. I'm just yelling it to my own self in case I haven't heard me say it one of the 23 other times I've yelled it.)

Tree hunting was done on Monday the 6th. Couldn't be rescheduled for any reason except a rainy downpour. And it didn't rain. But it was 19º (all together now, "Brrrrr!")

We arrived at our favorite tree farm ready to make a quick weather-spurred decision, then planned to hurry into the Christmas cabin where the kids always look forward to choosing a candy cane from the decorated tree, and delight in sharing cups of hot cocoa.
Always in the past,that is.
Not this time, uh hem.

This
time, we were pointed in the direction of the white spruce trees. Turned out there were only two (count 'em) acceptable possibilities and I use that "acceptable" word ever so lightly. Thing is, it was waaaaay too cold to get picky. Then again, "Honey, let's walk back to that corner where we usually find our tree."

"Whaa??? You want us to walk all the way back into the next field? But,....it's f-a-r-r-r," groaned my hubby, teeth chattering.

Why yes it was far.
I'm not heartless. I do listen to reason.
You don't think I'd make my kids take a 10 minute walk in the frigid 19º temps just to find the "perfect" tree, do you? Goodness, no.
Why, I let the youngest ride on the tree cart. ;)

After a very long and cold stomp through the evergreens in the next field, I concluded that, "Yep, you were right. Should have went with one of the two beauties we saw up front."
Hubby's eye began to twitch just a little. I'm sure it was just the cold, not like I was plucking on his last nerve at that point or anything.
"Oooo...kaaaay. Let's all hike back to the front and decide on one of those trees," I announced.
(insert exaggerated sighs and the sound of angry boots a stomping.)

We cut down our "beauty" and headed for the processing area to have the loose needled shaken off and the branches wrapped in twine. While the young man loaded our tree into the back of hubby's pick-up, we took the kids into the cabin for their treats.

"Nope, don't have any hot cocoa. I only make that on the weekends."
Me, surprised, "Oh. So,...you don't have any cocoa then today?"
The cabin attendant, gathering I didn't get it the first time, replied.
"That's right. No cocoa. What with today being Monday and all, and me only serving cocoa on the weekends."
The kids frowned.
I might have growled.
I definitely blushed (not that you could see it from behind my wind-whipped cheeks).
The kids quickly chose a candy cane (no doubt fearing they needed to move quickly before it was decided they were only available on the weekends as well).

And since our December schedule is so full, we not only had to get our tree on the 6th, but it also had to go up that day as well. By the time we got around to stringing lights, it was 7:30pm. Now, this is usually a major project in our house. Uh, nope, not this year. I didn't string those lights on, so much as I lassoed a tree because within 10 minutes, they were ALL on (however they landed). As the kids began to put ornaments on the tree, I began to hear the undesired "ping ping" of needles dropping. Lots and LOTS of needles dropping.

"Oh for crying out loud. This tree is dead."
We've never had a dead tree for Christmas.
Well sure, all live trees are technically dead once you cut them down.
But I'm talking Smokey the Bear assigning a fire hazard rating to our Tannenbaum.

Deader than dead, dead.

There was a significant drought here in central Indiana this year. I think this tree was on the long end of a short root because clearly, it's hurting.

And the worst part of all? When they twined it, a very large bough snapped at the bottom of the tree (which has never happened). We wanted to remove another bough to compensate before placing it in the tree stand, but that would have left us with a very lopsided tree. So we opted to just get it into the stand "as is" and deal with its flaws. Only,...

Since we didn't remove the additional bough, the trunk wouldn't slide into the tree stand properly. Instead, the large, low bough pushed the tree into a bit of a recline. The result? Not an equilateral triangle, I assure you (which, btw, is the desired shape of a good Christmas tree). No, ours would be more like a right angled triangle, not so attractive if you know what I mean. And just in case you don't know what I mean, take a little look-see, would ya? Trust me, the photo doesn't do it justice.



Isn't she a beauty? Don't feel bad. I don't think so either.
Good thing this season isn't all about the tree. God came near and Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us and we celebrate His birth together with all believers everywhere. Now that is reason to rejoice.
Have a blessed Christmas filled with love, laughter, and the peace that passes all understanding.

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Perfect Treat

Need a last minute "something" to offer your holiday guests while waiting on the turkey dinner? These little beauties might just do the trick. Very little prep for such wonderful presentation AND taste. Serve them along with some mixed nuts and they make the perfect little introduction to dinner.

Though the title suggests the perfect Christmas treat, they clearly are just as lovely as a Thanksgiving treat as well. And now, from my former blog, I present to you THE PERFECT TREAT!

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

DEFLATED

When I was 12 or 13 years old, my sister and I decided that we weren't willing to wait any longer to get noticed. The "associated press" images in the newspaper always intrigued us. We wondered aloud together, "Aw, look at that dog cooling himself down in a kiddie pool in Iowa." Or, "Those kids are having a blast playing jump rope in Atlanta." We couldn't figure out how one gets to enjoy the notoriety of "associated press" image status, and since we knew nothing of the interworkings of a newspaper, we came up with our own plan to get noticed ourselves.

"You call the Chronicle Telegram and tell them there's a kid out walking a rabbit on a leash."
"I don't want to call. You call."
"I can't call. I'll be walking the rabbit."
"Oh. Okay. Heeeeey, wait a minue. Why can't *I* walk the rabbit?"
"Because it's my rabbit, silly. And besides, they'll listen to you better because you're younger and it'll sound cute to them."
"Oh, yeah. That's true. But,...why should I do all the work if you're the one who'll get to be in the paper?"
(Got me there.)
"I'll tell you what. You just call, and then you can join me on my rabbit walk and we'll both get in the paper."

Smiles.
Deal.

And our little plan worked like a charm. We went outside in the chilly rainy weather (yes, we planned this gig on a rainy day) and proceeded to walk my French Lop rabbit on a leash down the sidewalk. Not 15 minutes later, along came the photographer and snap- snap, he took a few shots of us, got our names, and was on his way again. Ah, so proud.

Imagine our sheer delight when our photo ran on the front page of section B a day or two later.

Now imagine our major let down when, on the front page of section A, we saw the neighbor kid from across the street, huge photo I might add, smiling away. Apparently, after the photographer snapped a shot of us, he also got a shot of her playing outside in the rain. How convenient for her that we made the phone call that got HER on "the cover" (hmmmf!) All that plotting and planning and don'tch know it, we were living life on the "B" list in the shadow of the neighbor kid. Clearly, pride does come before a fall.

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Adoption Sunday

My husband and I were asked if we would be interested in speaking about our adoption experience as part of our church's "Adoption Sunday" service yesterday. Our pastor desired, through our stories (ours, as well as othersin our church body whose lives have been touched by adoption) to bring greater understanding to us regarding what it means to be adopted as sons and daughters into the body of Christ.
Talk about adoption? You bet.
It's obviously near and dear to my heart so I was immediately on board. My husband had to work, so it would be up to me to speak on our behalf.

I began with how we came to the decision to adopt, which unlike many Christian couples, was not based on a calling we felt God had placed on our hearts. Rather, we felt lead, through our personal circumstances, to
-open our home to children in foster care,
-to help families in crisis,
-and to adopt if God desired us to do so.
In that order.

I went on to explain that, through various circumstances over time, God showed us His will for us regarding family. Some doors were opened, while others closed, all while He moved us forward to what He ultimately had in store for us, a family formed through adoption. It was kind of like seeing a puzzle come together, realizing how each "piece" fit in a specific way to form something wonderful.

I was asked, too, to share how adoption blessed us as a family. The obvious answer to that is that we get to be called "Mom" and "Dad" by four of God's precious children, yes? Definitely, YES!

But there were other blessings I mentioned as well. The blessing of greater patience, for example. During the years in which we waited on God to show us when, how and if we would have a family, I often felt as though He were asking me, "Am I enough?" God definitely taught me patience while I waited.

And we've grown in compassion too. Compassion for other couples struggling with fertility challenges. Compassion for single women who wonder if God will bless them with a loving marriage and family. Compassion for families in crisis. Compassion for the children in those families.

I closed by mentioning the old Wayne Watson lyrics that stated, "God aint gonna stay in the little box I put Him in." Our mighty God is soooo much bigger than the box we often try to squeeze Him into. And I believe that God defines family in a similar way. Biological families are a beautiful part of His design, but they are not the only way He forms families (consider Jesus growing up as Joseph's son, for example). His definition is soooo much bigger than biology.

And so I'll leave you with the same closing thoughts I shared in church today.
Have you opened your heart to the possibility of loving outside the box?
My husband and I have never regretted capturing God's vision for us regarding family. And we want to encourage you to consider God's "bigger than the box" view if you too are feeling pulled toward adoption.
If you have ever been curious about it, if your heart has ever been stirred to consider it, or if you find yourself in a situation of childlessness and you desire a family, will you fully open yourself to where God may desire to lead you?
Because sometimes when we lay down our plans, our will, or our hearts desire and simply walk with Him, He reveals unforseen beauty and purpose beyond our wildest dreams.

Proverbs 16:9 In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cheeseless mac-n-cheese


Former blog readers, this is an oldie (but such a goodie). Newer blog friends, you may or may not know that I am vegetarian, and vegan-minded (though not a strict vegan). You may or may not know that my gall bladder is kaput (thus the switch to a vegetarian diet, which has done wonders for my digestive health). You may or may not know that you can make delicious mac-n-cheese without so much as an ounce of cheese. And the sauce is delicious on other things as well, liked steamed broccoli for example.

So without further ado, here is the recipe I use for making cheeseless mac-n-cheese. It's a "most requested" kid-preferred meal in our home. And it's GOOD!

4 quarts water (to cook the pasta)
1 tablespoon sea salt (I eliminated this as it was for boiling the noodles only)
8 ounces macaroni (I used whole wheat)
4 slices of bread, torn into large pieces (I used whole wheat)
2 tablespoons PLUS 1/3 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (ie. Earth Balance or Smart Balance LIGHT)
2 tablespoons green onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped (I used 1 large yellow potato)
1/4 cup carrots, peeled and sliced
1/3 cup onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup water
1/4 cup raw cashews
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed (I used bottled juice)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon paprika


In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente.

In a colander, drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

In a food processor, make breadcrumbs by pulverizing the bread and 2 tablespoons margarine to a medium-fine texture. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a saucepan, add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and the 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then cover pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.

In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne, adding softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender and processing all until perfectly smooth.

In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated.

Spread mixture into a 9 x 12 casserole dish, sprinkle with prepared bread crumbs, and dust with paprika.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown.

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Let's laugh with Tim Hawkins

If you're not familiar with Tim Hawkins, he is a Christian comedian and homeschool dad who was homeschooled himself. He is also, imho, hilarious! Enjoy.



Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

NUMBER RECOGNITION

Teaching your little ones how to identify and write their numbers?
These little tricks have worked well in our homeschool, so for what it's worth, I thought I'd share them.

0.
"Around we go, it's not an "o", but zero is my hero."
(we shorten this to, "Zero is my hero," as soon as my kids learn that zero is round.)
1.
"A straight line down and one is done."
2.
"Around, down, and back on the choo-choo track. Two! Two! Two!"
3.
"Around the tree, around the tree. That is how we make the 3."
(a few of mine learned it better with, "One belly, two bellies, just like B. That is how we make the 3.")
4.
"Down, across, and down some more. That is how we make a 4."
5.
"Here's a back. Here's a tummy. Put on a hat and 5 looks funny."
6.
"Down, around, and in like this. That is how we make a 6."
7.
"Walk across and down from heaven. That is how we make the 7."
8.
"Make an "S" but do not wait. Come back up to make the 8."
(If your child does not yet know the letter "S", you might show them how "S" looks like a snake, as seen HERE. Once they get the "S" snake association, you can draw a large "S" as you teach number 8.)
9.

"A balloon and a line make number 9."
10.
"One stands next to circle friend. That is how we make a 10."



Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Gratitude (Thanksgiving prelude)


HOORAY!
My most favorite holiday of the year is officially on the horizon.
I absolutely l-o-v-e Thanksgiving.
I love everything about it.

I love the handwritten letter my mom snail-mailed me back in 2005 when we had to move out of state and away from family due to a job displacement. At that time, my husband had spent every single Thanksgiving with me and my family since 1982, the year we started dating.
There I was in another state, and to say that I had NO IDEA how to plan and prepare for a full Thanksgiving meal was an understatement.
Not only had I never cooked a turkey in my entire life, but nary a pumpkin pie either.

Mom rescued me.

She wrote down an entire Thanksgiving grocery list, a day-by-day plan of advance preparations, and how to pull it all together on the big day. I still follow that plan every single year. And yes, I absolutely do pull out that handwritten list, written lovingly by my mom, as my guide.

So, what else do I so dearly love about Thanksgiving?

  • breaking bread with my kids for homemade stuffing, and placing it on a very old, retro-print tablecloth that my grandmother sewed for her home so many years ago

  • being at the center of my family; homemaker and home manager, wife and mother

  • the smell of turkey as it roasts in the oven

  • the Macy's Day thanksgiving parade (wouldn't miss it for the world)

  • my children, all bed-headed, as they sit in pj's to take in the first hour of parades before scampering off to change into comfortable clothes for the day

  • the muted straw-yellow appearance of the land before winter takes hold and forces us all into a slower time of reflection and togetherness

  • the quiet calm that comes to the normally busy road that I can see from our backyard window

  • the glow of lights in other homes, knowing that families are gathered together as they should be

  • my husband's presence near me, as he relaxes in the overstuffed eggplant-colored recliner he received on Father's day

  • the roar of the crowd as football entertains later in the day

  • heaping whipped cream on homemade pumpkin pies

  • bringing out our special dishes that belonged to my mother-in-law who sadly passed away in 1995

  • Seeing my family enjoying the meal I so enjoyed preparing for them


Thanksgiving, to me, is a day when I am able to really reflect on what matters most. It's not about traveling or shopping. It's not about anything in the way of materialism at all. It's glass half full, seeing the blessings that are a part of my life because God the Father loves me so much that He lovingly gave them to me. How special it is to me to have an entire day to simply reflect on that and to surround myself with the reality of it. A day to thank Him for what I am able to reflect on.

To that end, I want to share an idea with you, one that requires minimum effort on your part but yields maximum impact.

Consider starting a Gratitude jar for your family.

Here's all you have to do:

  1. Decide on a small container with a lid. The medium size Yankee candle jars are perfect for this project, but you could use any pretty jar with a fitted lid, or even a small, pretty box-shaped tin.

  2. Add any decorative elements you desire. If you're a scrapbooker, this will be easy and fun. Wrap it in your favorite paper and add some dimensional elements to the lid, like flowers. Non-scrappers, you could tie a simple ribbon around the neck of the jar and simply attach a handprinted "Gratitude" tag. Or you might even purchase some letter stickers to spell "Gratitude" directly on your jar. You can find examples HERE and HERE.

  3. Place some small strips of paper and a pen by the jar, and place it in a convenient location, one where all family members have access to it.

  4. Each day, encourage your family members to jot down something they're thankful for from the past year and place it in the jar. You might alternate family members each day if you have a larger family, to keep the number of notes in the jar manageable.

  5. On Thanksgiving Day, include the jar as part of your table decorating. When your meal is over and pie is served, take turns pulling out a slip and reading it to the family.


See? What did I tell you? Thanksgiving is a most wonderful day to reflect on all the blessings God brings forth in our lives. The gratitude jar is a simple way to bring due focus to those blessings as a family.

Oh, and by the way, these jars make meaningful gifts for Christmas as well. Just alter the theme slightly, making a memory jar for a specific loved one. You might write down 52 special memories you have of your parent(s) and place them in a memory jar to give as a Christmas gift. If you can find a mini easel, you can include it so they can place your special memory on the mini easel on a kitchen windowsill. Each week, they would select a new memory to enjoy and to perhaps display, to remind them of how their efforts impacted your life, and of how you lovingly remember that effort.

There are probably several ways to do a gratitude or memory jar. For example, I know of one person who did a gratitude tree for Thanksgiving. She used a mini decorative tree and simply attached the notes to the tree. But whether you decide to take up this reflective project or not, do take the time to recall the blessings in your life, both recently and in the past year. Great strengthening for the journey ahead is possible if we purpose to see how His mighty hand was on our lives in days past.

1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

My latest crochet project

The lady is a crochet extraordinaire. Seriously, she crochets like most people knit. Her work is so very fabulous and I'm thrilled that she shared the cutest crocheted garden party hat pattern with her readers.
Take a look HERE.

Uh huh, didn't I tell you?

I'm kind of loving her pineapple scarf for my girls too.
Check it out HERE.

Any crocheters in the house?

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Patch

Cool alert!
My parents came to town for a visit last week and we took them to the coolest pumpkin patch EVER. Seriously, if I could hand out a cool award (as if my vote meant a dang thing) why, I'd walk right past Beth Moore (who is truly soooo cool) and I would crown the owners of the Proverbial Pumpkin Patch as the coolest. Heck, I'd give 'em sashes too. And that's BIG folks, because really, who passes up Beth Moore? ;)

So why the award for the pumpkin patch people?
Check this out.
They place laminated leaf-shaped tags on every. single. pumpkin.
In the entire patch.

And do you know what was on those leaf tags?
A verse from the book of Proverbs.
On every single last pumpkin.
Of course, they get bonus points in my book for being a homeschooling family who is teaching their children all about running a family business as well. In addition to the pumpkins, they're selling homemade potpourri and baked goods too, taking pie orders for Thanksgiving.

This was our first time to this patch. It was a good 20 miles from us, but sooo worth the drive since I absolutely love being in the country and they were definitely out in the middle of nowhere (or so it seemed).

We had seen their sign from the main road, "U-pick, 5 miles south." Okay, 5 miles is a bit of a hike off the main road, but it was a beautiful, balmy fall day filled with lots of sunshine so we thought, "Why not?"

The first time we got lost was when the more traveled country road made a 90º turn to the left and we either had to stay on it or take the less traveled gravel road that continued straight. We decided to knock on a door and ask.
"Naw, I don't think the family down that stone road planted this year, so you'll want to head that'a way. Patch is 3 miles on up."

Now, my parents were following us in their car, which just so happens to have a good paint job (deduce what you will about my van's paint job based on that comment). And after 3 miles had long come and gone, there was still no sign of a pumpkin patch. We again stopped and asked a man on his riding lawn mower (stop #2).
"Aw, yeah. Just cross over the ce-ment ("SEE-ment") bridge, then second stone road on your right."
Okay, will do.
My parents followed behind us, good paint job now on the stone road.
Swell.

That road twisted and turned and switchbacked us all over the place, then ran along a good couple hundred acres of corn. Still, NO pumpkins.
Through the rearview mirror, we saw my dad stop and ask a farmer in a combine if he knew where the "U-pick" pumpkin patch was.
His reply?
"Uh,....nope." (stop #3)

Alrighty then.

On we drove, until I saw a farmer talking with a neighbor. We had all but given up, but I figured we'd been driving around in circles for the better part of an hour, so what could it hurt? One more inquiry (stop#4).
"Sir, can I ask you...."
"Ma'm, are you a pie maker?"
"Whaa? A pie...me,..make,...no. Noooo, I'm not a piemaker...Why???"
"Well see, now that's a pity because I got more squash out back than I could possibly eat. I mean, I eat squash and we love it too. Squash pie, roasted squash, squash soup, and........you don't make pies? Too bad. I was gonna give you some of that squash."
"Well now, wait a minute. My mom makes pies and she's right behind me. And,...we do eat lots of veggies and I could make other things with squash."

Weeell, he gave my mom and I at least 10 butternut squash each, in addition to the biggest squash I've ever seen, the cushaw squash. Oh my! It's a good 2 feet in length and as round as a socker ball in circumference.


Told us he planted 3 plants last year and got just 4 squash off them, then planted 4 plants this year and got 77. Ha!
We promptly thanked him for our bounty gift and were on our way again, with yet another set of directions.
"Cross over two ce-ment ("SEE-ment") bridges, then take the second stone road to your left."

Sheesh, those country folk were fond of their ce-ment bridges and stone roads.

Well, gourd-man was a dang genius, I tell you, because there it was. After many miles on gravel and a good four stops for instructions (not to mention trunks full-o-squash), we finally found the Proverbial Pumpkin Patch.

Our kids carved their pumpkins this evening as we told them how being a Christian is a bit like carving a pumpkin.

"God picks you from the patch,
brings you in, and washes all the dirt off of you.
Then he cuts off the top and scoops out all the "yucky stuff", sin.
He removes the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc.,
and then He carves you a new smiling face
and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see."


Matthew 5:15
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden."

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Monday, October 25, 2010

LONELINESS


All the lonely people, where do they all come from?
(Ah, look at all the lonely people)
All the lonely people, where do they all belong?
(Ah, look at all the lonely people)
~The Beatles

Have you ever been in a social setting where many people surrounded you, where you had some logical connection to them and yet you felt alone?

I know I have.

Loneliness is complicated. While an easy definition might include isolation, without companionship, etc., the fact is loneliness is probably easier to describe than to define. In addition to broken or absent relationships, I would certainly describe loneliness as a feeling of being alone, rejected, or alienated in situations where relationships are possible. And that perhaps is the worst kind of loneliness of all.

One of my daughters has a very tender heart for the elderly. I have to wonder if, on some level, she connects with them and understands them in that unique way that is hers. And I know that God could use that to His glory and for her good as well. Recently, this dear child of mine felt very much alone in a social setting. Logically speaking, she should not have felt lonely at all, as she was surrounded by familiar faces. Yet, there she was, struggling with feeling left out, alone.

As her mother, I hurt for her. Recognizing that she was overlooked, I asked her at one point if she would like her brother to join her to keep her company. I couldn't just let her be alone in a crowd, kwim? When she welcomed his company, it confirmed to me the difficult and confusing feeling she was wrestling with (loneliness) but it also revealed the love that my children have for one another. He was willing to be companion and comfort to her, and she was willing to receive him as such. A truly beautiful thing to witness between my children.

Sadly though, I couldn't help her understand why she was excluded (I should note here that many innocent dynamics were involved, including my daughter's own God-given bent, so this is not a judgement of others but rather an acknowledgement of my young daughter's struggle with something we all face in life at some point). I couldn't make it all right for her either, no matter how much my "Mama's heart" wanted to rush in and fix it. I only know that she was hurting, and therefore it deeply hurt me.

I realize my daughter is wired uniquely, which impacts the way she relates to others socially. Yet within her unique wiring, she's intensely creative, passionate about her interests, able to laugh at herself like no one else I know (love that about her), and best of all, she's fiercely loyal. She's a really great person who has already had to face more loss and brutal reality in her life than most kids her age. And while I can't elaborate on that, suffice it to say that as her mother, I know it to be true. And she's a tough cookie because of it.

So, how do I help her? How do you help a child to understand that God clearly sees her worth, knows her intimately, and loves her just as she is?
How do I help her to see that He always holds her and her tender heart clearly in His sight?
How do I make her understand that no one's validation matters more than His? I desire for her to take her worth from God and God alone.
But it's so very hard because she simply does not yet understand the greater picture as I, an older and wiser person, can.
Just as I cannot see that bigger picture of my life as our great God and Father can.
So how do I make her see and understand all these things?
It's not so easy, I can tell you that.
Again, she's just a child.

I'm trying hard to teach her that loneliness can have purpose, that it can serve to draw us closer to God, to really depend on Him to meet our needs.
I want her to know that while she may not be an extrovert at this time, she must try to remain open to the possibility of God placing a new and dear friend in her life at any time, for she has been designed by Him for relationship.
I don't want her to build walls around her heart.
If anything, I want her to learn greater compassion for others who find themselves struggling with loneliness due to death, crisis, age, being orphaned, or social hierarchy.

I pray for my daughter, that she would be able to identify her God-sent friend when the time comes, and to not prejudge who it can or cannot be. I often encourage her to focus on her own strengths as a person, and to be ready to openly share the unique and wonderful person she is with others. But doing this does not come naturally to her. She must be reminded and must work at it.
She is smart, creative, passionate, funny, and so beautiful. She is, in fact, a great human being and I'm blessed to have been chosen (twice over) to be her mother.

Most of all, she is a princess of the King. Now that's worth.

Have you ever struggled with this kind of loneliness, the kind that sets in even though you're in the midst of so many other people?
Did you deal effectively with it? If so, how?

And what steps can we all take to see our way through?
Consider the following:

  • Be in the word.
    Make time for the one who will always be there for you, who has promised to never leave you nor forsake you. Build greater intimacy with Him by regularly seeking Him and resting in His promises. Are you currently experiencing a daily quiet time in the scriptures? If not, why not?

  • Purpose to see your glass as half full, because it truly is.
    The bible says, in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
    Have you been able to avoid self-pity? It can be difficult when we feel alone, but thinking on the blessings of God, recalling them, counting them, acknowledging them, and praising Him for them can help us fix our eyes on Him whose glory "far outweighs" our loneliness.

  • Bless another.

  • Instead of sitting back and waiting for your circumstances to change, determine to bless another. Just as my daughter loves the elderly and is glad to bless them by giving them her attention, so too can we bless another. Who better to recognize loneliness than someone who has personally experienced it? And so who better to find a way to bring encouragement to someone who needs it? A handwritten note, a meal delivered, an invitation to coffee or to run an errand. See the need and then commit to meeting it.


And moms, dads, and those who stand in the gap for moms and dads, remember to hug your daughters and sons too.
Validate them with your unconditional love, a living expression of God's gracious and merciful love for them as well.
Pray for them and purpose to point them to Him, always to Him, to find their worth.
Remind them often that their God has promised, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
For in the darkest of places in this world, He was, is, and always will be there beside us.

Psalm 24:18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

The flavors of fall

I absolutely love the sights, scents, and flavors of fall. Give me apple, pumpkin, or cinnamon anything and I'm a very happy camper. So when Food.com sent its regular e-newsletter to me a few days ago, I was delighted to find 10 (ten!) apple recipes.

Yesterday, being our "Sunday", I decided to indulge my sweet husband in some apple fritter/pancakes. I have to say, I was inspired by step 4 of the recipe instructions. I had everything on hand, so it was just a matter of whipping them up. And YUM, I'm so glad I did. They had the moist heaviness of a potato pancake and the most wonderful texture and delightful flavor too.

I used egg whites instead of whole egg, adding 1/2 tsp baking powder. And I opted for light vanilla soy milk instead of cow's milk. Didn't have any whole wheat flour on hand so I just used white. However, next time I think I'll use soy or rice flour instead. Just my personal preference for making them even more healthy.

I topped ours with a few shakes of powdered sugar, which was a wonderful touch. We ate them with warm maple syrup but I was disappointed to remember, after the fact, that we had homemade pumpkin butter we could have slathered over them instead. Oh well, maybe next time. Because based on my husband's reaction (and mine too), there most definitely WILL be a "next time."

Apple Fritter/pancakes

Servings:
4-6 pancakes
Ingredients:
1 red apple, cut, deseeded, and grated
1 eggs or 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1/2 cup wholemeal flour (for hearty cakes or can use regular flour)
1/4 cup nonfat milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar (I used organic)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cumin (makes cakes warm, but I chose to leave it out)

Directions:
Prep Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
1 Mix all ingredients together well.
2 Use a 1/4 cup to scoop up mix and fry in butter, soy butter, oil, non-stick spray, etc., just like you would a pancake.
3 Keep finished cakes warm in oven on low till all mix is used.
4 Top with whatever you want. Eat.
They go down best when you eat them with someone you love.

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

If the shoe fits...


"Aw, c'mon, Sir. The friendship seat's not that bad."
"Friendship seat? Why would you call the middle seat a friendship seat?"
Becauuuse. You have 3 hours and two strangers on either side of you. By the time you get to your destination, you might just have two new friends."

And so Hubby's day began. If you've seen the reality show AIRLINE, then you've gotten a pretty good glimpse into his work days. Always something. And his hard sell on the "friendship" seat should have been a clue that perhaps it was going to be one of...those days.

As he worked the crazy pace of the ticket counter (less help, more work these days), he couldn't help but notice the bits and pieces of what appeared to be packing material of some sort, scattered here and there, all over the floor behind the counter.



"Cleaning crew's gonna have a good time with that," he facetiously thought.
Weird thing was, it seemed there was more and more of the mysterious packing material on the floor as the morning passed.
Or was he just imagining that.

Later into his shift, a friend and co-worker inquired, "Why are you walking like an old man?" He gave some passive response and continued to shuffle through his day. And here is where I must take you back, so like me, you can choke on your bagel as you laugh and laugh. :D

See, way back in 2004, we were living on 3½ acres in northern Ohio. My husband was working at Hopkins International and life was routine. That is, until the day we got the call that changed our lives. My husband's airline was pulling out of Cleveland. Just like that, we had to put our dream home on the market and prepare to move away from family and our hometown.

My husband first went to Chicago and commuted home to see us on weekends until he could transfer out of there. Finally, he got a position in Indianapolis in the summer of 2005 and we were all reunited here in November 2005. We had spent a total of 14 months apart.

During his time in Chicago, I was soley responsible for packing our belongings, getting our house show-ready for open houses (with a then 5 year old, 3 year old and 2 year old under foot), and eventually making arrangements for our move to Indy. I packed a little at a time, labeling and moving each box to the basement until our move.

We rented an apartment when we arrived in Indy, to give us time to learn the area and find the right place to live. In June 2006, we were finally in our new home. And that's when I unpacked all the boxes that had been sealed up as far back as July of 2004.

All except one.

One box had been overlooked by me when I placed it in a crawl space with holiday decorations, under our stairs. I found that box the other day and began to sort through its contents. Most were trinkets from a curio cabinet back in the old house. But a few personal items were also in there. A few ball hats, purses, and, "Oh, look. Honey, remember these shoes? They're not heavily worn. In fact, they look pretty darn good for being in storage the past 5 or 6 years. Try them on."

He did, and they fit perfectly.
"Wear them tomorrow. For old time's sake. After all, they're classic and in good condition."
"Why not!", Hubby responded.
And wear them he did.

Um,...ut uh!
Not such a good idea after all.
Because as it turns out, wearing shoes that have been in storage for 5 or 6 years, no matter what the appearance, is apparently a bad idea.

A
really
really
really
bad
idea.

Remember that packing material my Hubby saw all over the ticket counter floor?

Uh huh, well.

It was actually the soles of his shoes, literally breaking up and falling off bit by precious little bit. Over the course of his work day, bigger and bigger pieces (let's call them hunks) began to fall off.
Work a little, drop me some sole. Work a little, drop me some sole.

At one point, he was walking from the gate to the counter and he punted something. That's right. His toe actually kicked something into the air.
It turned out to be a large section of the shoe sole near his toe and he actually sent it flying.

I. kid. you. not.
(we interrupt this story to allow for a quick potty break, because if you're laughing as hard as me right now, then I know you have to go.)

All day long, his shoes were falling apart underneath him and he was powerless to stop it. You know, I haven't met an airline customer service agent yet who hasn't given the stapler a smack or two to hold a loose hem in place until needle and thread could ply the fabric. But no stapler was going to fix this mess. No tape either (agents use that for dog hair removal from their uniforms, lol.) No, this one was a disaster of the first magnitude.

So there my poor Hubby was, shuffling along, all day long, just like a little old man to keep what remained of his soles intact.
Don't believe me?
Alrighty then, see for yourself (and notice the big toe section that is gone from the right shoe).



So the moral of the story is, the next time you have a bad day, I would encourage you to think about the day my husband's shoes fell apart. Then stand on your own two feet in confidence and see your glass as half full. Because it truly is. Thee end!
(btw, I most certainly did get my husband's permission to tell this story. His sense of humor is every bit as warped as mine so, after we laughed ourselves silly over it, he agreed that I can tell it "to the world." ;)

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

myspace layouts, myspace codes, glitter graphics

Monday, October 11, 2010

Just Give Me Jesus.

It's true.
As time marches on, it really does seem to march faster.
At lightning speed, even. Or so it seems (sigh).
And me, being a very, very nostalgic person, I sometimes struggle with the ever increasing passage of days.

Sometimes, I just want to be able to put up my hand and command time to stop.
"Just stop, already, would you?
Stop.
My babies are growing stronger and taller and wiser and older with each passing day. I want you to stop, Time.
Pleeease."

But of course, time doesn't listen. I don't have authority over it the way Jesus did over the waves when He commanded them to stop (and they did).
Like it or not,I must accept that time marches on.
Now, it's easy to accept that fact (with great relief) on the bad days, the days that you just wish would end and are glad when they do.
But on other days, when I'm looking into the beautiful face of one of my children, for example, and I have a sudden rush of love and wanting to hold them close forever, it,...well, it kind of hurts.
(Anyone?)

Where would I be without my faith?

It has carried me through soooo much since I first placed my trust in Jesus.

  • Infertility.

  • My husband's job elimination back home and the resulting 14 month separation our family had to endure (he worked in Chicago and commuted home to Cleveland during that time).

  • A somewhat involuntary move to a new state.

  • Health scares.

  • Foster care, adoption, and adoption loss.

  • Career changes.

  • The death of my mother-in-law.

  • So. Much. More.



Really, where in the world would I be without Him?

There is sweetness in knowing my God has it all worked out. That He is the author of all time, who created me and the Godly husband and precious children He has so richly blessed me with. That He knows my tender heart on this "issue" of mine, of being a nostalgic person who is sensative to the passage of time. That He assures me through His word of His love for me, of the plans He has for me, that I can in fact be still and know that He is God. He is able to order and purpose my days and the hours that lie within them.

As I type this now, I can hear the tick-tick-tick of the wall clock in the school room behind me. I might never conquer my bittersweet dance with time, both its moving forward and my nostalgic reflecting back, but I'm so grateful to have my strong tower, my comfort, my place of rest. My Savior.

I was able to hear Anne Graham Lotz speak when she was in Cleveland back in 2001 or so. And I think she says it well when she exlaims, "Just give me Jesus." If you've never seen the video below, never heard Anne saying those four words that align so perfectly with my heart's desire, "Just give me Jesus", then please, take just a moment now to allow her words to encourage you today. Be blessed!



Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Friday, October 8, 2010

My latest creations

My 11 year old daughter has a much better sense of style than I ever did at her age. Of course, the world has changed considerably since the mid 70s. Back then, we all wore the same pair of shoes to school every day. Very few kids in my neck of the woods had shoe "collections." One decent pair of Hush Puppies, an inexpensive pair of patent leather Sunday shoes, and perhaps a pair of "sneakers" and one was good to go. Today, not so.

We are not indulging our children in materialism, nor do we teach it to them. In fact, we are quite thrifty (remember the free Disney trip I mentioned a few days ago) and are teaching them the value of recycling and thrift shopping as needed to keep a family budget in line. Since we homeschool, my daughter does not feel much pressure at all in the way of fashion. So it appears she just has a natural eye for it. And she definitely has her own sense of style.

One of the things she really enjoys is hats. Currently, she likes to try on slouch hats and loves how they look on her. But she does not own one, so I decided to crochet one for her using THIS pattern. I'm about half done and will post a photo when it is completed.

Oh, and while we're on the subject of thrifty, we gathered some osage oranges and placed them in a metal planter on our front porch. Add an adorable pumpkin chosen by an even more adorable 3 year old son who field-tripped to the pumpkin patch with his preschool class yesterday and, well, I think it looks fall wonderful.




Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

A quick deal or two

As a single income family, we're all for saving money when possible. With that in mind, check out this deal before it expires.

Gander Mountain wrinkle-resistant twill pants, $5 and free shipping (HERE)

Better yet, for those of you who are participating in Women Living Well's MAKING YOUR HOME A HAVEN fall challenge, get on over to your Yankee candle retailer. The small jar candles are on sale, 3/$15 for Columbus Day. Other sales too, like the large 22oz candles for $15 (normally $25). The sale is online as well (HERE).




Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The stuff botched plans are made of.


Family vacations.
The stuff that botched plans are made of! ;)
Be ready for the unexpected, even for a change in plans if need be.

Let's backtrack so I can tell you how this Disney vacation came to be.
Sometime late last winter, perhaps January or so, I came across some info on the web about Disney giving out free park entry tickets in exchange for community service. Curious, I checked into it further and discovered that one of the options in my area was to remove invasive weeds (Garlic mustard, to be specific) from a prehistoric woods less than 5 minutes from our home. "Hmmm?"

Dh agreed it would be a great way to help our community and help our single income family enjoy our next vacation as well. Win, win.
So I signed us up for the first weekend in May.
It rained the night before and it was gray, chilly, and overcast the day of.
But it wasn't cancelled and we found ourselves wandering amid the mud and thick forest floor of weeds in search of the dreaded garlic mustard.
Three hours and 5 dirty family members later (Brandon was too young), we were on the official "free tickets" roster. Woohoo!

After many months of anticipation, our big travel day finally arrived. We had to awaken the children at just after 4am (ugh!), but they're seasoned stand-by travelers at this point so they know the routine.

  • Get up immediately.

  • Get dressed, brush teeth and hair.

  • Keep your crabbies in check.

A humongous black pullman suitcase, standard carry-on green pullman, requisite "Going to Grandma's" pink suitcase (even when not going to Grandma's), green toiletries carry-on, 6 carry-on jackets, carseat, booster seat, a purse, 2 bags of flight snacks, 4 children, 2 adults (and a partridge in a pair tree). Finally in the van, we were on our way.

We boarded the shuttle bus from the employee parking lot and that's when the "incidents" began. We all sat down on the available bus seats (after storing the ridiculous load mentioned above). The children sat on a 3 seat space, making room for the last child to try to sit down, who happened to be Reece. Okay, some of you newer readers don't know much about my Reece yet, but let me just say, he's the child blog entries are born of (the surface is merely scratched HERE.) ;)

"Heeey! Where am I supposed to sit?"
"Honey, they're making room for you. Sit down."
"But,...there isn't any room."
"Yes, they're making room. Sit down, please."
(Panic setting in) "But that's only a three seater and there's FOUR kids."
"It's fine, honey. Please sit down."
Overwhelmed and frustrated with Mom's clear lack of clue, Reece burst out into tears, plopped himself down on the floor right in the middle of the bus aisle, and pleaded tearfully, "I don't waaaant to sit on the floor."

Gulp!

Suffice it to say I dealt with the "incident", adding him to the other children on the seats and we were ready to move forward. The next bump came during boarding. We had our tickets scanned and were just through the boarding door, a family of six, bleary-eyed children staggering to and fro while dh and I struggled to keep them out of the way of other boarding passengers. I casually said, "Everyone's got their jackets, yes?"

"NO!"
Times two.
Sigh.

Now dh was a salmon, swimming upstream against the steady flow of passengers to retrieve our A.W.O.L jackets, which he believed had been left at security (gulp again!) Thankfully, they were abandoned in the boarding area so he quickly grabbed them and rejoined our somewhat disjointed party.

We arrived in Chicago with a two hour lay-over, plenty of time to use restrooms, grab a coffee, and to perhaps read a chapter of An Echo in the Darkness (book 2 of Francine River's Mark of the Lion series, which I cannot recommend enough. The historical setting of scripture will vividly come alive to you as Francine astounds you with the richness and depth of the characters she has written.) The dream was nice while it lasted.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I have some news and it's not good news."
The aircraft's reverse thruster valve was not working. In any other airport, it wouldn't have been a deal breaker, but for John Wayne aiport (unique runway and noise reduction dynamics), it was a no-go item.
Praise God, though.
Another aircraft was being traded out.
No cancelled flight.
Just an additional 3 hour wait.
Yes, 2 hours (original layover) plus 3 hours (delay) equals a FIVE hour layover.
"Bet I'll get that chapter in now." ;)
Thankfully, dh tracked down the employee lounge, which was very large and spacious. We found a quiet area to sit down and read while the children played puzzles and read books that were provided.

Five hours and an expensive airport purchase of two bananas later, we were on our way again.
I sat with our two youngest, dh with our two oldest.
Cierah, our third child who (how to say this nicely?) is a bit absent-minded happy-go-lucky, needed to use the restroom during flight.
Being on an aisle seat, she hopped out and headed to the back of the aircraft.

I instantly knew it wouldn't go well as dh and I, on a previous trip, found even ourselves confused by the newer bathroom doors being installed on some aircraft. They are folding doors as opposed to hinged doors, and we've made complete fools of ourselves seen so many people struggle to figure the doors out. So sadly, I knew Cierah wouldn't succeed.
But then it got worse.
MUCH worse.

She didn't stop at the bathrooms, but rather staggered into the rear galley.
Oh no!
As fate would have it, no flight attendants were back there at thet time.
And, as fate would also have it, I was stuck in a seat belt in my center seat, my tray table down, with both my coffee and my 3 year old's apple juice can on my tray.
And Cierah's drink was left on her tray on the aisle seat next to me.

I looked back and saw Cierah happily staggering from the left side of the tail section to the right and back again.

And again.

And again!

Panic set in as I realized the only doors to attempt opening back there were the emergency exit doors.
"Folks, we've got ourselves an incident. Please place your mask over your own face before assisting your child."
How I feared what was going to happen next.

"HONEY! HELP!
I'm stuck.
She's staggering.
The emergency exit doors.
The bathroom.
It's Cierah, mind you.
GOOOOOOOO!"

A bit of drama? Okay, sure.
But it freaked me out none-the-less.
I'm happy to say that no evacuation slides were launched at 35,000 feet at the time of this blog writing.

As the kids munched on bags of dry cereal and fruit snacks, I figured it was time dh and I ate the bananas we had purchased in Chicago for the flight.
"Honey, let's peel those bananas now."

"Sure thing.

Or not.

You've got to be kidding me.

I forgot to grab them when we bought lunch for the kids in Chicago."

"Huh? Did you pay for them?"
"Yep. And they're still sitting on the counter where I paid."
Swell.

Nothing left to do but dream about a meal in Anaheim while I settled 3 year old Brandon in for some dreams of his own. And settle he did.
He slept the rest of the 3 hours, while I pretty much lost all circulation to my arms, thighs, and,....never mind. Suffice it to say I had phantom parts until the blood returned when he finally sat up in his seat again.

Safely on the ground in Orange County, we claimed bags and rental car without incident, then made our way to our hotel, where we quickly checked in and changed into shorts and tees for the wonderful California weather that awaited us.
A friend had given us a gift card for Fat Burger, which was so very generous of her. We purposed to use it for our first meal in CA. I quickly programmed Nellie the Scab and we were on our way.
Only,...
"We don't accept that here. You have to use it at corporate."
I felt bad because we had already placed an order for a family of 6.
We apologized, the counter clerk was gracious, and we made our way to "corporate", where the gift card was readily accepted.
Thanks so much, Holly. YUM!

Had to laugh, after our day of faux paus, when we saw a business sign that read, "MAINLY POTTERY, PLANTS AND THINGS. AND MOOSE MUSEUM."
Um,....okay.

So, Family vacations.
The stuff that botched plans are made of.
But you know, I really think God uses that time to teach us lessons about ourselves.
About being open to change and and new direction.
About being in the moment.
About seeing our glass as half full (because it truly is).
About treasuring our time with our loved ones because the change that we must learn to be open to, will come along in our families sooner than our hearts feel ready for.
Isn't it soothing to know that we are loved,treasured, and saved by faith in Jesus Christ who never changes, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Monday, October 4, 2010

No Worries


Phew, I do believe dust settled on the keyboards while I was away.
(just a lame excuse for the fact that I failed to dust before we flew out to California this past Tuesday.)

Our trip went well, except for the 4am wake-up (on both ends of the trip), and perhaps the 2 hour lay-over in Chicago that grew to FIVE hours (thank goodness for the blessing of a large, comfortable employee lounge).
Considering that we fly stand-by, I'd sum it up as routine.
No bumps.
No cancellations.
No insurmountable obstacles.
To quote Timon and Pumbaa, "Hakuna Matata." Means, "No worries."

S-C-R-A-T-C-H!

Let's back up on that last one.
No worries?
Um,....I need to be honest here.
The truth is, flying does make me a bit, just a bit (I promise) worried.

Sheesh, you'd think it wouldn't.
I grew up in the airline industry.
My father worked for American Airlines until his retirement, as did my two uncles.
I myself worked in the industry for 14 years, 3 airlines, and 4 different cities.
As a 23 year old living alone and working in San Francisco, having moved out there on my own from Cleveland, I hardly gave a thought to travel safety and often took the 4½ flight back and forth between the two cities.

But then,...things changed.
I got older and wiser.
More aware that the world is often not a safe place.
People can give their hearts to anything, even evil.
September 11th happened.
And I am now a mother, fierce as a bear in my desire to protect my children.

So when we fly these days, I have my children to think about as well.
And I'm faced with the reality that, as I think about so many travel related scenarios, I sometimes struggle with worry.
Not an overwhelming "all-out" struggle, but an uncomfortable struggle just the same.

As I sit here and think about it, fear and control go hand-in-hand.
Because of fear, one can struggle for control.
Some actually use fear to control.
Some end up fearful when they realize they've lost control.
Yep, fear and control definitely tend to run in the same circles.
And fear begins as a seed planted in the mind.
It is not of God, but rather the venom of Satan, a lie.

So I am not about to let my concerns about flying become anything more than a tinge of personal discomfort.

But, how to battle that seed of fear and win?

How?

For me, it begins with prayerful surrender.
"Father, today I choose to be strong and courageous, to acknowledge that you are with me and will not forsake me."
Sound a bit like Deuteronomy 31:6? One of the many benefits of hiding scripture in our hearts is being able to speak its truth and power into our lives in the very moments we need it.
I accept that I am not in control and never really have been.
Not of others.
Not of an airplane.
Not of the very number of my days.

But, oh the comfort of being able to call on the one who is in control, my Heavenly Father, the God and creator of the universe (Gen 1:1).

I also have the power of willful submission.
The bible says, in James 4:7, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
I can't stop Satan from trying to make my mind a battlefield, but I can decide to resist him.
I can refuse his lies.

Your turn.
Where has Satan aimed and hit his mark?
What fear has he seeded in your mind today?
Will you allow it to take root?
If not, then how will you battle it?

Consider this.
You are God's beloved. He calls you His treasure (Deuteronomy 26:18).
Search the scriptures so that, like myself, you can truly grow in the knowledge and confidence of God's overwhelming love for you.
You can then rest in Him, your strong tower. Your place of safety and safe surrender.
And again, in the words of Timon and Pumbaa, Hakuna Matata.
Dig in and discover for yourself the peace that surpasses all understanding.

The Bible, God's very word, my one true source of comfort, in flight and in life.

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Time-out!

It's siesta time!
My family and I will be enjoying some much needed time together.
I'll recap later.
"See" ya next Monday.

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Friday, September 24, 2010

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Keys for Kids

Sure wish I could think of the weekly children's devotional I used to receive as an email. It included a key verse, lesson, and well coordinated (but easy to implement) activity to make the point stick. Hmmmm....

Thankfully, there is another one that I also like. It's one you might be familiar with in mail form, and it's called Keys for Kids. That's how we were introduced to it, via mail (and you can still receive it that way if you prefer). But what I like is that kids can now listen to a podcast devotional online. I'm always looking for time fillers when I'm working one-on-one with one of my students. What better time filler could there be than the word of God?

Check it out HERE.
And if you have any ideas about the weekly email devotional I can't think of, do tell.

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Homemade goodness (and just plain good for you)

Our diet is mainly whole foods vegetarian. We made the change several years ago due to digestive health issues for me. It's been quite the challenge to learn to prepare foods that are appetizing and affordable (whole foods can be pricey!) But I've managed to find my way via trial and error, including some snack pleasers, like my fruit chewies for example.

So, fruit chewies. They're really good (if you're not really picky), healthy, EASY to make (five ingredients easy), and tasty. The texture is, um,...moist(ish) chewy granola?
You can refrigerate or freeze them (I make the double batch recipe that follows, freezing half of them). BON APPETIT!
(from top left, clockwise): oats, raisins, mashed bananas, dates, egg whites.

Fruit Chewies

4 medium ripe bananas
4 egg whites
8 oz bag chopped dates
3 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup raisins


In large bowl, mash bananas, leaving some small chunks (should be about 2 cups)
Mix in egg whites then dates. Mix until dates are thoroughly coated and separate. Stir in raisins. Stir in oats. When all oats are
moistened, set aside to rest for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF and spray cookie sheets with Pam. Using two teaspoons, place spoonfuls of mix onto pan, flatten with
back of spoon (note: this step will not "feel" like dropping cookie dough; it will take a little more effort to shape these like a cookie, as the ingredients won't want to "stick" all that well until baked.)


Bake 20 - 25 minutes or until edges are golden. Let cool on pan a
couple minutes before removing with a spatula. Cool then store in
airtight container in refrigerator, or freeze.
I yield about 4½ dozen with this recipe.



Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Enjoying our Father's world


Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.
Job 37:14


Goodness, did you midwestern folks experience the late September heat wave yesterday? Smoking hot here in Indy. 94º degrees, to be precise. The entire summer has been "super scorching hot" for that matter, and I've got the stubble-brush straw grass to prove it (we don't dare walk around on the lawn without shoes, since the experience can best be likened to walking on kindling. Ouch!)

I had a bit of a nagging headache on board for the day, but I wasn't about to let it stop me from enjoying what was, in all liklihood, the final "super scorching hot" day of the year. So after we picked my 3 year old up from his preschool, we headed to McCormick's Creek state park for an afternoon of hiking.

It was wonderful to spend our day together in our Father's world. The forest trees have lost enough of their leaves (even though they've just begun) to give us that wonderful crunch-crunch cadence as we walked along the winding paths. And the paths at McCormick's are so nice. All lined with stone and quite wide in most places. Just right for a tag-along 3 year old who did his best to keep up on the 2 mile hike.

We stopped when we got to Wolf cave (see next photo), enjoyed a drink of water, then got out our clipboards, paper and pencils and sat down to sketch together. There were benches along the side of the path, so we were quite comfortable as we rested in the shade, taking in the wonderful sounds and fall scent of the woods as we all studied our chosen subjects and penciled them in. I chose to draw a forest fern surrounded by dead leaves. Several others chose to sketch the cave and its wooded surroundings.


Gotta LOVE my 3 year old.
He asked me to sketch a spider web for him, then he enthusiastically took his clipboard and sat down, feverishly working his supplies as he swung his little leg back and forth in rhythm to an unheard melody that he was clearly enjoying in his head. When he finally stood up to talk about his drawing (our kids love to do that), he was so very proud of the chubby spider he had carefully sketched in place over the web. Of course, he added a bat and a rain cloud too, but hey, still not bad for our youngest nature participant, eh? ;)

After finishing our 2 mile hike to the Wolf cave and back, we decided to add an excursion, descending the steep steps down the cliff to the base of the waterfall in another area of the park. Normally, the river is much higher there, but due to the long dry summer, the kids were able to explore over the rocks and creek bed to their heart's content. Our boys even felt bad for the fish who were trapped in pools of water that were once a flowing creek, so they decided to pray for them right there.
3 year old: "Dear Lord, Fank you for da fishes. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen."
8 year old: "Dear Lord, please help it rain so the fish can get away. Amen."
Short and to the point, they were, lol.


My husband works in the airline industry, where schedules change constantly, as do days off. Currently, he has mid-week days off. While we miss him terribly on Sundays at church, we LOVE that we can get out and enjoy our favorite places without crowds. The state park was nearly empty today. All that beauty and warmth was ours for the taking. And take, we did. Praising God for the unique blessings that homeschooling and my husband's ever changing schedule have brought into to our lives. Today was that kind of blessed day for sure.

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. ~George Washington Carver

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

SLUG BUG!


Do you play Slug bug?
Or maybe it's called Punch Buggy in your family.
In our neck of the woods, it's definitely Slug Bug.

It all started about three months ago, when we were driving down the road and I spotted a Volkswagon Beetle. I gave my husband the requisite punch on the arm and yelled, "Slug bug!"
Somewhere from the back rows of the van was heard , "Mom, why did you just punch Dad? And why did you yell that?"

So it was out there. My kids had no clue about the Slug Bug game and it was high time they learned. We covered the basics with them and from there, it was every man for himself.

"Ah, such a fun and simple game," you're thinking, right?
W. R. O. N. G.
It has become something...more.
A game of outwit, outplay, outSHOUT!

For instance, the other day, I found myself writing down the official rules.
Writing them down, folks.
That's serious, I tell you.

    Standard Slug bug siting? 1 point.
    Convertible Slug bug? 2 points.
    Purple Slug bug? 3 points.
    Convertible purple Slug bug? 5 points.
    Clown car? 3 points.
    Purple clown car? 5 points.








********(Clown car)********

And few other rules too:

  • If a parked Slug Bug is called for points, no player may recall said Slug bug again in its parked location on the same day.

  • If you call a Slug bug or clown car in error, you are docked the number of points you would have gained for the call.


We actually consult these rules.
"And the judges say..."
Sheesh!

We sometimes drive through a little town nearby called Danville. We've deemed this town, "Slug bug capital of the world" because we have spotted no less than 2 Slug bugs (and as many as 5) every time we pass through this town. What cracks me up is that we ALL know there's a yellow Slug bug parked outside a certain business there. As we come up the hillside approaching that business, 6 heads and 12 eyeballs strain to be the first to spot the yellow bug. Husband has an unfair advantage, as his driving position gives him a slightly earlier glimpse than the rest of us. And try though I do to use my head as an impeding device (leaning fully into the windshield to try to block his vision), he always manages to spot the Slug bug just a split second before the rest of us.

It's evolving too.
It now involves strategy.
We bring our game faces with us.
Like today. We were driving down the road when Cierah, our 7 year old, stated with excitement, "Okaaaay, let's spot us some Slug bugs."
Simultaneously, her dad and I enlightened her.

"Honey, you lost advantage."
"Huh???"
"You lost advantage."
"Oh," smiling, pausing, and then,"What does that mean?"
"It means you shouldn't tell anyone when you're looking for Slug bugs, because it reminds them to look too, which makes it harder for you to score."
"OooOoh! I get it now."

At the end of the evening, Hubby stopped at the grocery store and ran in to pick up a few items. As we made our way home, I caught a glimpse of him, eyes attempting to scan side to side without detection. My voice filled with fierce competitiveness (which I naturally tried to downplay as gentleness), as I uttered, "Uh, excuse me. For the record? You don't own the game because I'm looking too."
Dh laughed so hard at not only being busted, but also at the knowledge that we've all become die-hards in the game of Slug bug.

Still don't get that we're serious?
Then consider this.
My three year old was putting on his vinyl night pants over his underwear tonight, when his eyes widened with what appeared to be pure joy as he victoriously exclaimed, "SLUG BUG!"

Uh huh.

He was claming it.

1 point for the Slug bug on his vinyl pants. :D

Psalm 118:24 - "This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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