Our family of 5

Our family of 5

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 25, 2011

Family Fun Fridays: Four Firsts

This family posting is going to revolve around the "firsts" that have occurred in the past week for our family.  It is amazing how much kid grow and change, yet still experience things for the first time.

Last Friday, I hinted that we were going to take the kids somewhere for a surprise on Friday night.  Our friends generously and graciously invited us to attend Barnum and Bailey's circus in Cincinnati at US Bank Arena.  We had never done this as a family, and the entire trip was paid for (minus gas money).  What a blessing!!!  We had our own box to sit in with our friends, our own food and drinks (even a fridge), and our own bathroom.  I don't know if I could ever attend the circus any differently in the future.  That was pretty awesome.  We didn't tell the kids where we were going, but as soon as we parked and walked inside, Kurtis handed out the tickets.  Kate read the word, "circus" right away and was astonished.  Her comment that followed still cracks me up.  She said, "This is the first circus I have been to in all my 5 years."  The kids all LOVED it.  I didn't get many pictures because we arrived late and I was too caught up in all the action.  Here is a picture of K-lady with her dear friend after the show was done.    

The three kids at home before driving to the circus.

Another first that occurred in our family, was our first daughter losing her first tooth.  I know you are all going to think I am crazy, but I actually cried.  I didn't bawl my eyes out or anything, but I definitely had little tears well up in my eyes.  I think I was extra emotional because it happened while we were out of town at my Mom and Dad's house and my husband wasn't with us that weekend.  I just felt like my baby was no longer a baby anymore!!  I got over it quickly and K-lady decided to write a letter to the tooth fairy.  It was hilarious and she even titled her card "Fall out in the basement", because her tooth fell out while she was playing in my parent's basement.  She had to inform the tooth fairy of the name of her actual city where she lives,  but that she was just visiting in a different town to see her grandparents.  The tooth fairy did make her debut appearance at Grandma's house that night.   These are fun days with the kids that are going by all too quickly!!

Love the little ringlet curls on the sides of her face :)


Another first, was a field trip the kids and I took yesterday.  We went to a local Krispy Kreme donut shop for a tour and a presentation on how the donuts are made.  It was concluded with a FRESH and YUMMY donut, as well as a cup of water for everyone who attended.  It was fun to see some other families from our homeschool co-op, as well as watching the kids enjoyment of something new.  Although the field trip was free of charge, I couldn't walk into that place and not come out with more donuts to bring home.   Krispy Kreme knows that they are doing!!  :)  Sadly enough, I forgot my camera today.  You will just have to imagine how stinking cute were my three kids......all decked out with their donut shop hats, peering into the donut window.  (actually since I wrote this article last night, my friend, Heather, posted some pictures from the donut trip on facebook and tagged me, so you can check them out there :)

Lastly, my kids got to meet their new baby cousin "L" for the first time.  She is a beautiful and sweet baby.  I thought K-lady was never going to give me a turn to hold her.  She didn't want to let her go and keeps asking when we will get to see her again.  I am so thankful to watch my sisters have babies and become mothers.  Here is a picture of K-lady and her new cousin.


Have a wonderful and blessed weekend!!  Also, if you live in the area, come check out our church this weekend, Covenant Creek Community Church for our service at 6 PM on Saturday night.  We will have some appetizers, snacks and desserts following the service (with a Honduran theme) because Honduras is going to be our international mission focus.  We would love to see you there if you don't have anything going on and want to check it out!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Adoption Talk Thursdays: The Book

I have not been the best at keeping up with my blog lately.  I am not concerned though.............there are definitely more important priorities in my life.  It has been fun to share my experiences and the things I am learning and I really enjoying writing when I am able. 

I am getting very excited because next month we are approaching Little A's "gotcha day", a term that I have heard people use when referring to the adoption finalization day.  I am not sure what we are going to call that special day yet, but we have decided it is definitely something we want to celebrate as a family.  She officially became our daughter forever on April 20, 2010 (although she was our daughter from the moment we saw her).  In the future, I would really like to celebrate this day by letting Little A choose a place she wants our family to go out out to eat, followed by a small gift (maybe a meaningful book), and then I would like to tell her the story of her life. 

K-lady and W-man really enjoy the nights when we tell them their own "stories".......about my pregnancy with them, how they were born, what they were like.  I haven't started telling Little A her story yet, but I know the time is coming soon.  To assist in telling her story, I thought it would be helpful to make a little book with pictures, some words, etc. to show her how much she is loved, special, and has her own unique story, just as her older siblings do. I have been thinking about this book for the past year, but finally sat down and made a book on Shutterfly this week.  I LOVE how it turned out.  I wish I could share a link on here, but if you want to see the book, you will just have to come over for a cup of coffee sometime :)   I am planning to read this book to her each year on her special day. My desire is to share a simple story when she is little, and add in more detail as she grows older.  There are some special pictures in this book that I have never shared with anyone before (i.e. never before seen footage) :)  I think she is going to appreciate having this book and these pictures someday.  I was even able to get several pictures of her birthmom, her half sister,  and one of her birthfather.   And of course the book is filled with beautiful pictures of her first year of life!  I won't lie, I was in tears by the time I finished making the book.

If you have a special day for your adopted child, what do you call it?  What do you do to celebrate?  I feel like this is almost like a birthday for her.  I am very excited, can you tell??? 

Grateful to the Lord for what He has orchestrated,
Sarah

Monday, March 21, 2011

Recipe Mondays: Giant Chicken Taco Nachos

I am posting a simple, healthy, and delicious recipe this week. It is one of all time favorites for a quick and tasty meal that the whole family loves. I found it on Rachel Ray's website, under the "kids cooking" section. I figured it would be easier and involve less ingredients.   I was accurate........this recipe had a simple list of ingredients and was easy to prepare, compared to many of her other recipes. The kids like this meal and they can get involved with preparation, which is an added bonus!!

Here is the recipe: http://www.rachaelray.com/recipe.php?recipe_id=1064

I don't have any pictures this time, but you can see what it looks like on the recipe link above.  You won't be dissappointed if you make this! :) :)

Let me know if you try it and what you think! :) :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Family Fun Fridays: Surprises and sunshine

If you read my post from Tuesday this week, I have come to a decision about tutoring for next year. After much prayer and seeking counsel and wisdom from others, I have decided to go for it!!! I am really excited for this new challenge and I think it will help me stay focused and disciplined with school in our home. I am also excited to be able to help support other parents in their homeschooling journey and share the love of Jesus and hopefully some creativity with their kids as I tutor them one day each week.

I am so excited about this coming weekend!! We are taking the family somewhere tonight in Cincinnati for a special surprise!! Next week, I will be sure to post pictures and share this fun and first time adventure for us. Although we may be a bit groggy in the morning, we (just the kids and I) are going to head to my parent's hometown for the rest of the weekend. We will get to see my sister and her new baby on Saturday, followed by a birthday party for my niece and seeing my in-laws on Sunday. It is amazing how much I have to pack just to go home for one night, but it will be worth it!! (I can't imagine how packing goes for family's larger than ours) :):) My husband has to work all weekend, but at least we will have some fun things going on to distract us from his absence.

Isn't this warmer weather so nice and refreshing? We went to a park yesterday and I completely lost track of time, as we were all happily enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. We nearly missed Little A's afternoon nap, but she didn't seem to mind. It is going to be really fun this summer now that all three of the kids are walking and playing. I think it is also going to be a challenge to keep up with Little A. She loves to run as fast and as far as she can as soon as her feet hit the ground. :):). I love it though!! Bring on the warm air and sunshine!! :):)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Adoption Talk Thursdays: Transracial Adoption Thoughts

My mind is spinning and I feel a little bit like my face is stinging from a hard slap. I think it was a needed slap and the type of sting to open my eyes and my mind.  I didn't realize that there has existed such controversy over the issue of transracial adoption.  I have personally never seen why it would even be an issue. I decided to read a book called, "In Their Own Voices: Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories."  This book, although painful to read at times, has been eye opening and challenging.  I found this book while perusing blogs of families who have adopted children of other races. I know that I personally do not struggle with racism or feeling superior to any other human being, but this book gave me many other perspectives that I had not previously considered. In Part 2, of this book, they are actually interviewing many young adults who were of different races and adopted into white families.  I haven't finished reading it yet, but I am enjoying learning through their experiences and reading their thoughts, feelings, and perspectives.  The book also addresses concerns I have thought about as Little A grows older, such as how it will feel to her to be surrounded by white people much of her childhood, or how she will be accepted by other blacks. From all the reviews, it sounded like it was a "must-read" type of book. Here is a link to the book:

I feel like this would be a good book for anyone to read, but especially if you are considering doing a transracial adoption or if you have already done one. For us, we didn't go out seeking a child of a race different than our own. We just left things open and Little A's birth mom chose our family.  Little A is a gift from God, and we also believe God chose her for our family.   I have always viewed people as people.....just unique in the outer appearances.  I completely look past color of skin, because after all, don't we all have different shades, tones, and colors??  After reading this book, though, I realized that could be a somewhat naive statement.

Reading this book stretched me to think beyond my own perspective. For one thing, maybe I have never had a problem with racism, but it isn't necessarily right for me to just brush it off and think it doesn't matter.  I realized after reading this book, that I will never fully know what it is like to walk in Little A's shoes.  I will never know what it feels like to look completely different than your entire family, your friends, and community.  I will have no idea what it would feel like to go through identity issues as a teenager, not only as an adoptee, but also being from a different race.  Through it all, though, I do believe that God is greater than all that, and I know that He has a special plan for Little A's life.  I know that He will give us the wisdom and direction with how to handle different issues as they come up.  I am thankful for the fresh perspective from this book, though.  I am encouraged to be Little A's advocate through her entire life.  I am encouraged to let Little A pursue her heritage and culture as she desires.  I don't want to just pretend like we are all exactly the same in our family, because we are not.  But at the same time, Little A is fully our beloved child!!    I desire to raise Little A to know how loved and special she is, by both her birthmom and by us.  I desire for her to know how much Jesus loves her.  I want to help her in the best way possible as she develops her own identity.  I want her to have friends and role models who look like her. I am searching my heart and praying for God to provide these things.  I think it will be challenging at times as she grows older, but completely attainable.

The most encouraging thing I have read from the book is that all of the adoptees (they were all adopted into families of different race than themselves) ultimately agreed that being placed in a loving family was the best thing that could have happened to them.  They have all agreed that while it might have been nice to be in a family of same color, it wasn't the most important thing at all.  They all expressed love and appreciation for their adoptive parents.  I am most of all clinging to the fact, that I can tell Little A someday about my adoption too...........that I became a daughter of God through the work of His Son, Jesus, on the cross.  I know that there are going to be obstacles and challenges...........but I also know that God has a plan in the life of our family.  I am trusting Him to provide us with friends, resources, whatever we might need to help Little A grow and develop in a way that is meaningful to her and shows her how much she is loved, cherished and special.   Reading this book was helpful, but I am thankful my greatest council comes from God's Word.

Does anyone know of any other good books regarding transracial adoption?  What about transracial adoption from a biblical perspective?

We love you so much, Little A!!  You are beautiful :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

School Adventure Tuesdays: To tutor or not to tutor: that is my question

In case you haven't noticed, I haven't kept up with my normal postings lately.  My baby sister just had her first baby last week, and I was blessed to be with her during her labor and delivery.  Once I came home and recovered from missing a whole night's sleep, my husband had to work the entire weekend, in addition to having a time change on the same weekend.  My body has been confused and my normalcy is a bit skewed, but I am so thankful for the events that have taken place this past week.  I am going to head back to visit my sister again this weekend and I can't wait!!  My children are VERY excited to meet their new baby cousin. 

I am trying to figure out if I am crazy.  I am considering becoming a tutor next year for Classical Conversations. It is something I have wanted to do down the road, but didn't think I was ready for that kind of a committment yet.  After talking with my daughter's current tutor and our school director, I am now considering it for next year.  I am going to be entering into my third year of doing the Classical Conversations program as a supplement to our homeschool.  We basically meet one day per week and they need tutors to teach one day per week for 24 weeks during the school year.  The tutors would be responsible for reviewing the material with the students, conducting science experiments, managing the students in their class (possibly 8-10 students), teaching some basic music theory and tin whistle, etc.    I am already doing this material at home with my own kids, but I am sure it would take extra work to prepare and be ready to lead these kids each week.  I want to do it for the right reasons.  It would definitely be a help to the cost of tuition each year (since we will be having two kids in the program next year), but I don't think that should be my reason to tutor.  I am trying to figure out if I am cut out for this. I am also trying to figure out if I have the time to be a decent teacher to my children on all the other days of the week, plus prepare for this.  I know that I can teach my own children at home, but managing a small classroom of children is another story.  If you know me, what do you think?  Am I crazy? 

I will be praying about this decision and trying to follow God's leading in my life and in the life of my family. I have to admit I am actually starting to get excited when I think about teaching outside of my own home next year, but I want to make sure that I could do a good job.   I would appreciate any wisdom or advice from others too!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wednesdays in the Word: The Mind and Romance

I am enjoying sharing what the Lord is teaching me through this "Marriage Without Regrets" study by Kay Arthur. I have been strengthened through the truths in God's Word and desire to encourage others to also be strengthened and transformed in their marriages and other relationships.

This week, I have been studying how to love your mate (or your family members, friends, relationships, etc), specifically in your thought life.   Last week I discussed how the tongue and heart were linked together: basically how your tongue reflects what is in your heart. This week, the study went a step further and focused on both the heart and the mind as affecting our attitudes with our loved ones. 

One aspect that I found to be encouraging was studying some verses on God's thoughts and attitudes towards us.  When I think about the following list, it helps me to realize that I should be loving my mate with the same kinds of attitudes and mind-set.  Should my thoughts contradict the thoughts of God?  God can give me the power to change my mind-set to be like his..........this is His mind-set:

*God wants to prosper us and not harm us and He wants to give us a hope and a future (Jer. 29:11)
*God selflessly loved us by giving up His own son and He graciously gives us all things.  He is interceding for us.  He makes us to be more than conquerors! We cannot be separated from His love(Romans 8:31-39)
* God's thoughts are precious to us (Psalm 139:17-18)

My favorite passage from this study came from 2 Corinthians 10:3-6. The whole passage is excellent to read for context, but I was struck by the part about how "we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  EVERY thought.  We have a power that is outside this world.  We don't have to wage war the way the world does...........we can take our thoughts and line them up with God's thoughts.  That means all the negative and destructive thoughts that come our way during the course of a day........how many times have these little negative thoughts completely destroyed a whole evening or a whole week with your spouse? (or even longer)  How many of these negative thoughts have built up unneccesary anger and frustration?  How many times do I dwell on one negative thing about my spouse or my children, instead of casting my thoughts toward Christ and having a thankful heart for all the many positive aspects about them?  This is true romance; to be thinking the best and most praiseworthy things about my husband.  To think about that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Phillipians 4:8) is what will bring deep and lasting romance to our marriage. To love my husband unconditionally, I need to focus on positive thoughts.  I can't have those honeycomb words (that I discussed a couple of weeks ago), unless my mind and heart are in the right place.  I have been thinking long and hard this week about my thought life, and I am thankful for these truths God is revealing to me, especially in this area of negativity.  What is your thought life about your spouse, children, or important people in your life?
 
Above all, I really liked how God used this study to reveal to me a biblical way to love and have romance with my husband.  It is not just about the actions that we do (and I know the actions can be important and have lots of meaning).....but it is about our hearts and our minds.  We need to continually cast down the negative thoughts and "take captive EVERY thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5) This will bring about romance that has action and unconditional love.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

School Adventure Tuesdays: Not about me

I was unable to write a "homeschooling post" today for various reasons, most of which would be too numerous and boring to list. :):) Not to mention, I am starting to feel the effects of my husband's long work hours during this tax season, and am not keeping up with "things" in general. I don't mean to sound negative or sad. I am honestly sharing where I am....... and I am okay with the fact that I can't always do what I want to do. I am okay with the fact that I can't keep it all together. I am even more thankful for a Savior who loves me, provides for me, and gives me a hope far greater than any "thing" in this world.

I hope to return tomorrow and share some of what I have been learning in the Word this week. For those of you who feel like I do today........kind of like you just can't keep it all together, or that you can't possibly be really good at any one thing you do.....or maybe you feel your day is consumed with meaningless, mundane tasks........don't feel alone or hopeless. I am right there with you. Even more promising, is that in these days of absolute desperation, despair and frustration, we can see our total need for Jesus and to walk in His Spirit and in His truth. It is all about His power and His grace......I am worthless on my own. I am so glad this life is not about me or what I can do or accomplish. I am nothing.....I was born needing a Savior to rescue me from death. This life is now all about Christ Jesus....."I have have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.". Galatians 2:20.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Recipe Mondays: Baked Chicken Parmesan

I give this recipe 5 stars for ease of preparation, tastiness, and the leftover factor. (tastes just as delicious re-heated the next day).  I have tried other chicken parmesean recipes in the past, but this is the simplest and yummiest!  I got this recipe from my friend, Jonelle. (I think she has given me over half of the ideas for recipes on this blog so far).  I made it for our family over this past weekend and it was even a winning recipe with the children!!  Here is the link for the recipe:

Baked Chicken Parmesan

I have to admit that I did not use real mozzerella, and I think that is a necessity in this recipe.  I thought I had purchased some from the store, but was devastated to find out I only had the shredded mozzerella in a bag (leftover from pizza night).  It did the job, but I can imagine how tasty this would be with the real deal. 
Very easy!  Three bowls.....one with flour, one with egg, and one with bread crumbs/grated parmesan

Once the chicken cutlets are dipped in each of the bowls, they went into the pan to get browned for a couple minutes per side. (I think I browned them a little longer than that).

The chicken getting nice and brown on the outside. :)

Place the browned chicken on top of marinara sauce, then put mozzerella on top and bake.  YUMMY!!

Have a great week everyone!
Sarah

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Can I have a cell phone plan, Mom?

Here are a couple of pictures of Little A from this weekend.  She is transitioning from being a chubby little baby, to looking and acting more like a toddler.  She really likes our cell phones and can be found around the house turning anything into a phone.  She is adorable!!



"Yeah......just try to get it back Mom.  It's my phone now"  :)

 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Family Fun Fridays: Let the sewing begin...(yikes)


Kate's first "sewing project".......a sewing supplies box.  We used an old box of mine from when I was growing up, and she decorated it and turned it into a sewing box. 

K-lady has been asking me to teach her how to sew for the last month.  I keep thinking maybe she will forget about it and move onto a new idea.  But that hasn't happened yet.  So, I succumbed to the pressure this past week and we picked out a "crafty" type of book at the library (pictured above).  The first project she decided to start with was to make a sewing box.   Unfortunately, I never really learned how to sew (or at least if I did, I was never very good).  I do enjoy doing projects, but I wouldn't say I am the best at picking out the materials, the colors, designs, etc.  K-lady is very much into arts and crafts, so I am trying my best to help her succeed in these kinds of things. :)  She wanted to make the sewing box first, so that she would have the supplies needed and all organized to begin sewing projects.  Now she is beginning to save her money to buy a sewing machine.  YIKES!!  I have no idea how to use one, so I guess I am going to have to learn with her. 

K-lady was pleased with the finished product.

The inside of the box


Family fun Fridays are a fun blogging subject.  I don't always have the funniest story or even life changing events to share, but it is fun to be relaxed and just share pictures or snippets from what's been going on in our lives.  It will be fun to look back at some day for memories too. 

K-lady and W-man really enjoyed the movie, Toy Story 3.  I would have to say that it was my favorite Toy Story movie as well.(I love when Buzz goes into the Spanish mode). I think Little A will also enjoy it as she gets older, but she is definitely not into movies or TV yet.  W-man was with me in the waiting room at ballet practice one day shortly after Christmas.  He saw a couple of other boys with these "actual movie size" Woody dolls.  He really wanted one.  We don't normally go to the toy store and he had no idea that those existed, but when he watched those boys playing with them, he really wanted one.    He kept mentioning it, but I kept saying........well maybe for your birthday. (not until the end of July). 

About 2 weeks ago, we started giving K-lady (our oldest) a weekly allowance.  We are trying to teach her take her earnings and separate it each week into a giving, saving and spending category.  We will do that for the other kids too, but we want to wait until they are old enough to understand.   K-lady decided she wanted to save up to buy a Jesse doll. My husband and I started talking and we weren't sure what to do.  After all, W-man really wanted the Woody doll first, but yet we knew that K-lady would be able to save up faster than him.  After we talked about it a little more, we realized they both had some money in a savings account in the bank, that they had received as gifts.  We had never really touched it before, but we decided to go ahead and purchase the dolls.  I know we can't always keep everything fair,  but right from the start, we  didn't want to let K-lady buy something that W-man really wanted in the first place. We went on a hunt for the dolls and every store was out of them.  Finally we ordered them on-line and I captured a picture of W-man right after we had opened his doll out of the package.  It was like Christmas morning!!!  K-lady's doll arrived the same day, but we had to go to Wal-mart to pick her up, because it was free site to store shipping.  I never ended up getting pictures of her.  It has been pretty cute to watch them play together with their dolls.  



Have a happy weekend!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Adoption Talk Thursdays: Provisions

I have to start by saying that I am so grateful to be able to share about adoption. I have so much to learn, especially as Little A grows older, but I have been blessed and encouraged by emails from people lately. I love hearing stories of how some of you are considering adoption for the first time or even the fourth time. :) It is so exciting to meet new people and hear about their passion for adoption. It has been fun and helpful to exchange hair ideas with a few of you. I also love learning from your examples of fostering and international adoption; some of you have stretched my heart in new ways.

I wanted to share an example today of how the Lord continually provides for our family. He provided the funds to be able to do an adoption and He continually provides for our family each day. As you all know, it gets expensive to clothe and provide for multiple children, but we obviously wouldn't have it any other way. :):). I always want my children to look nice and feel good about themselves, but I also like to find good sales, deals, or even used clothing when possible. Each time a new season approaches, it always seems a little daunting to stock up on clothing for the appropriate size and price for the children. This week at ballet, one of the moms came up to me with a HUGE bag of clothes for Little A. She had saved all the best of her daughter's clothes and they are all in excellent condition and some even with tags still attached.  All matching sets from Gymboree and Ralph Lauren, etc. The colors are going to look so nice on Little A too!! I am so grateful for generous people!! I am grateful for how the Lord always provides for us.


Little A modeling one of her "new outfits"...the sleeves are a bit long, but she will grow right into it :)



 Here is a picture of the clothing piles after I looked at each of them last night....what a blessing!!



I also wanted to share a sweet little story from last night. With it being tax season, bedtime routines can be a little exhausting for me. I have been trying to be a little creative lately and change things up, so that the kids can have fun and not miss their Daddy too much. Last night, we decided to put Little A to bed first. K-lady read her a story and then wanted to hold Little A and pray for her before bedtime. It was so sweet to see K-lady trying to hold her like a little baby, even though she is now 16 months old. Little A completely enjoyed that and let her big sister hold her, rock her, and sing to her. Then K-lady prayed something like this, " Dear Jesus. Thank you for my baby sister. Thank you that her birth mom picked us out to be her family. I love her so much and I am so glad she is my sister. I pray that she will have a wonderful life and thanks for her." Then of course, W- man wanted his turn.......I wish I would have had my camera, but I didn't want to ruin the moment. W-man tried to hold her the same way, but I had to help a little because Little A is growing closer to his size now. :). Little A let both of them hold her like a baby, which was hilarious because she is normally high energy and busy all day. It was adorable!! W-man said, "Dear Jesus. Thank you for Little A. I like her. Amen.". It was a seriously precious moment that I will remember forever. Then we sang a couple of songs together and tucked her in her crib. This morning when she woke up, she ran right to her Daddy and squeezed his leg until he picked her up. She is definitely a Daddy's girl and was a little sad when he had to go to work. She is such a blessing to our family. I am grateful for the Lord's provision of her to our family. I am grateful for her birth mom's bravery and courage in making the decision that she did. I am grateful for how the Lord can create families to be unique and beautiful!!

Have a fabulous week everyone! Keep sharing your stories and prayer requests with me about adoption. I love to see how God is working in your hearts.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wednesdays in the Word: LOVE Love love

What is love? What comes to your mind when you hear that word? What does love look like in your family? What does love look like with your spouse? What about with your friends? What or whose example do you follow for how you love?

This week I have been studying this topic of LOVE, and it has been such an encouraging week, especially after just studying the topic of communication. I left the communication study still feeling like I needed more application, but then when we moved into the topic of love, I felt like it all came together for me. In addition, we discussed the fulfillment of the law through love from Galatians chapter 6, at our church this past Saturday night. This also ties in with what Paul says in Romans 13:8, "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law." I am looking forward to sharing some of what the Lord has taught me this past week about love. There is SO much in the Bible on this topic, but I will try to keep it somewhat focused and narrowed and discuss what specifically impacted me.

Contrary to what our culture says, love is NOT about me. In fact, love is servanthood. It may not be a popular message in our current culture, when we are living in such an individualistic and self seeking society. It probably wasn't a popular message even back in ancient Roman times when Jesus walked the earth. This week in Kay Arthur's "A Marriage Without Regrets" study, I looked at a variety of New Testament passages using the word, love. I specifically studied the Greek word, Agape and how it was used in many different verses, as well as the Greek word, Phileo. Agape basically means unconditional love....love that keeps going, regardless of how the object receives it and regardless of if they are deserving or worthy of it. It delights in giving. The Greek word, Phileo, basically means a companion type of love. Kenneth Wuest says, "It is a love that is called out of one's heart as a response to the pleasure one takes in a person or object." Through all the verses, I studied the commonalities that they shared; specifically the source of love, the object receiving the love, the behavior, the extent, and the circumstances surrounding the text. (per Kay Arthur's suggestion). I found that the source of Agape love always came from God. Sometimes the source appeared to be one believer to another, but when I would read the whole context surrounding the verses, I would find that the Spirit was providing the power to love in that way. The true source for Agape love was always from God or His Spirit and it was an unconditional and persevering type of love. It encouraged me that I don't have to try to love that way in my own strength, because there is no way I ever could. We are commanded to love each other with an Agape kind of love, and God gives us the power to do that. 

I then went on to study 1 Corinthians 13 about the characteristics of love. I spent a couple of days praying over this list and thinking about it within my own life, especially considering my relationships with my spouse, my children, my church family, my friends, and just people in general. It was a great passage to end the study and I know the Lord is using it to cause change and growth in my life.  I know this is an ever-popular verse that many people have memorized, but take a couple of minutes today and read through it again with a heart open to the Lord. 

I also learned that love isn't always joyous and pleasant. Love is painful and uses discipline when needed. I will have to suffer and endure hardships but I can be thankful because I know that God loves me as His dear child and He uses it for my good.  Hebrews 12:6 "because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son." 

I think one of the biggest things that I am learning involves the body of Christ and how much we all need one another. Sometimes it becomes so natural in our culture to think of our own "personal relationship" with Christ, when really, I don't think that should be the focus. This life isn't just about me and my own relationship with God. To really love others with an Agape love, I need to be in close community and fellowship with them. How can we do this in our current culture? Just food for thought, but can we achieve this by simply showing up for church service every week? Can we achieve it by doing good things for others? How do we achieve close community and the ability to lovingly call out sin and confess our own sins if we are not knowing one another deeply? Is our primary reason for going to church to be filled up, fed, and to provide our kids with some teaching about Jesus? We really need to get in closer community and fellowship to truly be able to love the way we are commanded. I realize this could possibly be controversial or offensive to some, but I am honestly sharing what I am learning to help people examine their own hearts and lives. I have a lot to learn in this area, but I am seeing the priority of loving others with an Agape love that comes from the power of the Spirit.  

1 John 3:16, "This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

School Adventure Tuesdays: My " to-do" or "not to-do list"

We are done with our break from last week, and back to a "normal school routine" this week. I am a person who not only likes routine, but is also eager to do tasks and check off tasks on "my list." However, the Lord keeps teaching me daily that, for our family, school at home isn't necessarily supposed to look that way. My children are not a "to do list" that I can keep checking off just to make myself feel that I am accomplishing something. They need to be nurtured and trained in ways that are meaningful to each of their unique personalities and giftings.  I feel that I stifle their creativity and joy of learning when I am driving them to do what I want them to do. The reality is that there are days and moments when we just aren't able to achieve what I think we should be "checking off our list". When I become so list-driven and task focused, this causes me to speak with impatience and irritability because I continually feel that I can never keep up with where I should be. Instead of living in constant frustration and feeling like I am not doing enough, I want to be flexible and ready to make every moment a teachable moment. I want to do that with joy. This is hard for me, but not unattainable. 

The Lord has used the ideas from the honeycomb words posting from last week, to influence and transform our family in this past week, especially with our schooling experience.  I feel like the Lord is helping us to be more joyful with one another and purposeful with the words that come from our mouths.  When I teach with joy and pleasant words, it doesn't seem like a "task" anymore.  I am thankful for how the Lord can use my inabilities and my weaknesses for His glory. I know it is only through His power that I am able to make changes in my actions and attitudes.  My hope with this blog, is that it can be used to build up and encourage others in the body of Christ who have weaknesses and failures, just like me, especially when it comes to the large responsibility of teaching our children.  I have appreciated e-mails and prayers from people lately, as I am sharing my school journeys on this blog. I desire wisdom from others, who have walked this road or are having similiar thoughts or experiences.

So.......I am off for an afternoon not guided by any certain "to-do" list.  We have subjects we need to cover this week and things we definitely need to work through with school.  I am thankful the Lord is teaching me that "school at home" doesn't need to happen according to my perfect agenda, and especially not at the cost of hurtful or impatient words.  

Continually learning and thankful for God's grace,
Sarah

Monday, February 28, 2011

Recipe Mondays: Chicken Tortilla Soup and Peanut Butter Clusters

I haven't been the best cook this past week, so I don't have any scrumptious pictures to share with you for today. Hopefully next week, I will get back on track. :):). Some days it is hard to be motivated to cook nice meals when my husband isn't necessarily going to be home to share them with us :):). He does enjoy leftovers during tax season, so I need to keep cooking even if he isn't here.

I decided to pull out an old favorite recipe of mine for those lazy crockpot days. Have you heard of the recipe book, "Fix-it and Forget-it"?  I love this cookbook and I am going to share one of my favorites........Chicken Tortilla Soup. I am sure there are hundreds of these kind of recipes out there, but I think this is easy and tastes delicious.

Here it is (from page 47):

Chicken Tortilla Soup

4 chicken breast halves
2 15 ounce cans black beans, undrained
2 15 ounce cans Mexican stewed tomatoes, or Rotel tomatoes
1 cup salsa (mild, medium, or hot whichever you prefer)
4 ounce can chopped green chilies
14 1/2 ounce can tomato sauce
tortilla chips
2 cups grated cheese

1. Combine all ingredients except chips and cheese in large slow cooker.

2. Cover. Cook on low 8 hours.

3. Just before serving, remove chicken breasts and slice into bite-sized pieces. Stir into soup.

4. To serve, put a handful of chips into each individual soup bowl. Ladle soup over chips. Top with cheese.

YUMMY!!!!

Next, I will share a little sweet treat recipe with you all.........peanut butter clusters.  I have to confess I didn't make these either, but I did eat them on Saturday night after church, while hanging out with our church family. I am a peanut butter-aholic, so I was immediately captured by this recipe. My friend, Jonelle, made these on Saturday night (along with some puppy chow). We also had three other amazing desserts as well.   I asked Jonelle for the recipe and she e-mailed it to me right away.  It is so simple, so I have to share it:):).

 Peanut Butter Clusters

1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup peanut butter
4 cups corn flakes

1. Bring corn syrup and sugar to a boil in a medium sauce pan. 
2. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter, then corn flakes.
3. Drop teaspoon size amounts (somewhat quickly) onto wax paper to cool.

Stay tuned next week for Baked Chicken Parmesean.  Feel free to submit any recipe ideas to me......I love to try new things!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Family Fun Fridays: Grandparent Visits and Ballet



My Momma!!  She is so beautiful
       Last weekend was an encouraging and refreshing weekend in our family life.  This time of year is a bit more hectic in our family life because my husband works many extra hours as part of his job (doing taxes).  The other part of his job involves helping people with financial planning and investing, so he stays very busy!  We have been doing this for quite a few years now, and we are all growing more accustomed to his schedule.  Our sweet parents both took time out of their busy schedules to come visit us last weekend, and it was so helpful.  Saturday morning, my mom showed up bright and early at 8 AM.  I hadn't told the kids about it, so when she walked in, they were ecstatic!!  After some good "Grandma Jo loving" that day, their other grandparents (my in-laws), came on Sunday.  They took the kids swimming at their hotel pool and then let my husband and I slip out for a date.  It was such a blessing for us to have extra help this past weekend and get refreshed before the week started.  Our week has gone so smoothly, and I feel like it was in part due to the refreshment and help we received last weekend!!!  Thank you to our parents!! :)

Then, on Wednesday this week, K-lady had a ballet "parent watch" night.  Normally I bring her to practice each week and sit in a small waiting room, where I cannot see her at all.  We get to "watch" their practice three times a year, so I am always so excited for this week.  I wanted to share some pictures of her......she is growing up so fast and has gotten so tall lately.  W-man and Little A also really enjoyed watching her practice, and they all got to run around the ballet room afterwards and try out their own moves. 

Stretching out.......love how her hair turned out too! :)


First position at the bar



Working on some positions at the bar. K-lady is in the middle.
 

K-lady pretending to be asleep.


Her own creative routine with the scarf.  This is always my favorite part of the "parent watch night"


K-lady doing a "curtsy" after her performance.

The three amigos :)  Little A and W-man had a lot of fun watching the dancers. 


K-lady and her ballet instructor
I am thankful it is Friday!! Anyone else feel that way too?   Have a blessed weekend and I will look forward to sharing with you next week.  

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Adoption Talk Thursdays: Hair and Happenings

I am excited to share a couple of new tips that I have found to be helpful for the styling and care of Little A's hair. I genuinely love to learn about her hair and have had fun taking care of it. The best product I have found this week came from a suggestion that I read on: Happy Girl Hair.  I ordered this leave in conditioner right away from Amazon and started using it one week ago. Here is the link: Nature's Baby Organics Conditioner and Detangler   I got the vanilla tangerine scent and it is so yummy!! K-lady thought that I was baking muffins when I was putting some in Little A's hair one day this week :):). This all natural product is seriously amazing. I feel like Little A's hair has been softer and had more defined little ringlets this week. So beautiful!!! I had to share about this because I will definitely be purchasing more when we run out.

There was another article that I read this week discussing the idea of detangling or finger styling each day (especially when just wearing the hair out and not in a style). "Curls Will Be Curls-Saying No to Daily Detangling"  I really liked this article, because for many days I have been trying to pic or lightly comb out her hair each morning when I moisturize it. I realized, after reading this, that I may be actually causing more damage. This week I have just tried to use my fingers to style and gently spread out the curls, and it is working nicely. I accessorize with different clips and headbands each day, but I really like how it is looking.

I am also excited that I get to attend an "Adoption Loving Mamas" coffee/hang out/get together this weekend here locally. It is open to all foster, adoptive, or mamas with a heart for adoption. If you are reading this and would like more info on time and location, please let me know. I am looking forward to the encouragement and fellowship and even sharing of ideas. My heart remains open to the possibility of adoption someday again, but I am leaving that in the Lord's hands. For now, I am thankful to be able to encourage other families who are beginning this process or in the middle of it. I am also excited to meet other people with adopted children, because I think that could be important for Little A as she grows older.

Here is a picture of our Little A the first weekend she was born.   Her birthmom is such an amazing person that we have such respect for.  We were privileged to watch Little A come into this world and bond with her immediately in the hospital.   I wanted to post this picture as a reminder to myself of this precious gift of life!!  I am excited to see how God is going to work in her life. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesdays in the Word: Honeycomb Words

Proverbs 16:24  "Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."


This week I have been studying the topic of communication, through Kay Arthur's marriage study called "A Marriage Without Regrets"  This verse, found in Proverbs,  has given our family such joy and encouragement this week.  I wrote it on a large index card and put it on our dining room table, and we are helping each other to memorize it this week. I have seriously noticed a "healing effect" in our family life this past couple of days, just by being more aware of the words we speak.

I keep picturing a honeycomb full and overflowing with sweet honey and it has helped me to be more aware of the words I speak to my children and to my husband.  I have noticed the kids being more aware of how they speak to one another. In general, there has been a feeling of "sweetness" towards one another in our family.  It is refreshing and uplifting.  Our words can either be used to damage, or to build up another person.  I have always known this, but after studying the topic of communcation this week, I was challenged NOT to be reckless with my words.  The words that come from our mouths all go hand in hand with what is in our hearts.  I posted yesterday about walking in the Spirit, and I feel like that topic carries into today.  I can't speak careful words and words that build someone else up, without the help of the Holy Spirit.  I need to ABIDE in Christ, to be able to bear this kind of fruit. (John 15:4-5). There is a lady I went to college with and she has actually been blogging about the topic of abiding this past month.  You should check out her blog for more on that subject:  Kristi Stephens   My mouth overflows from what is in my heart.  I desire to be overflowing with sweet and pleasant words that heal and not destroy. 

I don't know about you, but communication in a marriage is hard work.  Adding multiple kids to the  picture, along with added life pressures can make it sometimes seem that no communication at all would almost be a better option.  Obviously ceasing to communicate wouldn't solve anything, so how do we communicate openly, honestly, and with love?  Kay Arthur challenged us to ask God to show us how we "come across" to other people....especially our mate, or our childen, or even other intimate relationships that might show how you communicate.  She said that communcation is a delicate art.  I agree with that statement wholeheartedly, and after studying many verses and spending time in prayer, I realized I am in need of some art lessons :) I am eagerly anticipating our small group discussion for this week so that we can share our ideas and what the Lord is teaching us in this area.   

I really want to share EVERYTHING that I read and learned this week, but I would probably lose some readers or risk putting some of you to sleep.   If you have ever thought about getting this study, I would highly recommend it, even if just for this week of "communication" alone. I feel like anyone: single, married, widowed, divorced, etc. could benefit from a thorough study on the topic of communication.

I especially wanted to share this one little verse from Proverbs that I have noticed has had a transformative effect on our family this week.  I hope it can bring some encouragement to your homes and to your lives.  What are some of your ideas on how to communicate in your homes?  What verses do you teach your children to encourage them in this area?   What is in your heart?  What are your words revealing about what is in your heart? 

I was talking to K-lady this morning about pleasant words and she decided that she wanted to draw a picture of our family communcating together. I will leave you with this :) :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

School Adventure Tuesdays: Mid-Semester break & desires

Although this week began with colder weather, copious amounts of rain, and gray skies, it has also come with a mini break from our school routine. We are having a mid-semester break alongside our Classical Conversations homeschool group. When I originally saw the schedule, I didn't really think I would want the break. I figured that I would rather get done earlier, especially when it starts warming up outside.

However, I am in a slump with school this week, so I am very thankful for a small and timely break. I honestly feel that the break is helping me to slow down, re-focus, re-energize, and simply enjoy my kids. I feel like when I slow down and don't have to stick to a certain agenda or a task checklist for the day, that I can be more creative and sometimes more patient with the kids. We didn't work through any particular "curriculum" yesterday, but we seemed to read a lot more together and have more time to discuss the things we read. For example, K-lady saw a short chapter book about Abraham Lincoln, from the library bag sitting in our living room. She became very interested and decided to sit down and read the book. We read parts of it together and she read some on her own, but she really enjoyed retelling the story to me and highlighting her favorite things about his life. On her own, she connected some of the events in the book with some of the events we have memorized in our history timeline. It was a blessing to see her making the connections and truly having an enjoyment for learning. We also spent some time having family worship last night: singing songs and Bible reading/acting. We try to do this somewhat regularly, but it felt like we had more time and freedom to be creative and not rush to get to bed. I desire to experience this freedom, creativity, and slower pace on a daily basis. I just haven't learned how to do that yet. I feel so much inward pressure sometimes to achieve certain goals with schooling at home or to not "fall behind", but I can also suck the joy out of learning by being so task driven. I am thankful for this week because I feel like it is giving me a chance to see how much my kids enjoy learning without the pressure of a strict schedule and time constraints. I desire to find the balance between schedules/time constraints and the freedom that comes by doing school at home. I know that we need to be diligent with our work, yet I desire joy and love to be present in all that we do.

I am thankful that I don't need to work harder or feel like I have to figure it all out on my own. When I slow down and rely on the Holy Spirit, He is transforming me. I know why I struggle from what Paul writes in Galatians; that the desires of my flesh are fighting a battle with the Spirit. In addition, I know that my flesh has been crucified with it's passions and desires (Galatians 5:24). How do I win the battle? How do I teach and train my children with freedom? Paul answers this in Galatians 5 by repeating these phrases, "Walk by the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, live by the Spirit, keep in step with the Spirit.". There is no law for the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

We have been studying the book of Galatians together in our church, Covenant Creek Community Church and I have been thankful for the teaching and instruction we have received these past three months. Our teaching elder from this past weekend was preaching on this text that I have been discussing,  from Galatians 5.  He pointed out that the word "works" (as in the works of our flesh)is plural, because it is done by us, but the word, "fruit" is singular because it is done by God. That displays freedom to me!! Another way to think of the fruit of the Spirit is to compare it to a bunch of grapes.....there are many attributes(love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc) but they all come from ONE stem or vine. I have been challenged and encouraged this week to look at my desires because we all have desires.  We have the basic desires of needing air to breathe and needing sleep when we are exhausted.  As our teaching elder pointed out, our whole day is made up of desires.  What are my desires? Am I keeping in step with the Spirit or are my desires reflecting the old nature? 

I am happy for a chance to refocus my thoughts and desires this week.  I am learning to live moment by moment. I wanted to encourage anyone reading this post through simple truths the Lord is revealing to me. What are your desires

Remember......."It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.". Gal. 5:1.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Recipe Mondays: Pillow Cookies and Spinach Lasagna Rolls

Oh my.......I think I have to quit baking soon......I have seen just a little bit too much sugar flying around my kitchen lately. My friend, Jonelle, shared these Pillow Cookies with me, and I decided I just had to bake them and share them with you. I think I also need to start running more and baking less:):)  

I got the recipe from this website:

Bakerella

And here is what they look like from my kitchen:



W-man's hand next to these ginormous cookies

The dough with a cooked brownie in the center.  After the brownie is placed in the center, the next step is to mold the dough all the way around and over top of the brownie.

They got much bigger than I expected.....as you can see I had too many on one cookie tray.  Some of the cookies turned out like squares, rather than circles.

Lovely scrumptious brownie center

My father in law tasting his first ever pillow cookie

Thankfully I was able to share some of these cookies with my in-laws, who came for a visit and also let my husband and I escape for a little date. I am also going to share the cookies today with some friends who are coming for a playdate. Then....if there are any others left......they need to go far away from me :):)  Any takers?

My second recipe to share with you today is my first attempt at making spinach lasagna rolls. I found this while looking for a regular lasagna recipe and I thought I would give it a try. They taste very yummy, but I found the sauce a bit too chunky for my liking. I think next time, I would try to make a smoother sauce. I give this recipe a 3 out of 5 stars. You should try it and let me know what you think!! It is a great meal to divide in half and share with someone else or freeze for another time. Here are is the recipe, followed by some pictures:

Spinach Lasagna Rolls (from Better Homes and Gardens)

ingredients:
1  10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, cooked and well drained
2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 beaten egg
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 dried lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
Nonstick cooking spray
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium green sweet pepper, chopped
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1  14-1/2 oz can tomatoes, cut up
1  8-oz can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons snipped fresh basil or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

directions

1. Coat a 2 quart rectangular baking dish with nonstick cooking spray; set aside

2. For filling, in medium bowl stir together the spinach, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, and nutmeg.  Spread about 1/3 cup of the filling on each noodle.  Roll up, jell-roll style, beginning at a short end.  Place rolls, seam side down, in prepared dish.

3.  Cover with foil.  Bake rolls in a 375 degree oven about 30 min. or until heated through.

4. Meanwhile, for the sauce, coat an unheated 2 quart saucepan with nonstick cooking spray.  Preheat over medium heat.  Add onion, sweet pepper, mushrooms, and garlic.  Cook until vegetables are tender.  Stir in undrained tomatoes, tomoate sauce, basil, sugar, and ground black pepper.  Bring to boiling, reduce heat.  Simmer, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes or until desired consistency.  Serve sauce over lasagna rolls.  Makes 8 main dish servings.

5. Make ahead tip: Assemble the lasagna rolls and prepare the sauce as above.  Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.  To serve, bake the rolls in a 375 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes and reheat the sauce.




Spreading the spinach filling on the lasagna noodles before rolling them up.

Finished product (before baking)

Have a great week, everyone!  

Friday, February 18, 2011

Family Fun Fridays: Cinderdog and my beautiful baby sister


Isn't she lovely?  Due in 4 weeks......with her first baby.........a GIRL!!
     We have had some fun family times this week, even with Kurtis working some extended hours for tax season.  The kids never cease to come up with creative ways to fill their time and we have also been enjoying some of the unseasonably warmer weather this week.
     My sister, Becky, and her husband , Levi, came to visit on Valentine's Day.....well I guess evening :).  It was really fun to see her so close to her due date and we are really excited to meet her little baby girl.  She looks amazing!!  The kids had some fun playing with Uncle Levi and we enjoyed a dinner of homeade spaghetti and meatballs, salad, and bread, followed by the killer brownies (featured in last Monday's post).  Whenever we get togther with our family members, it always makes me wish we lived closer to each other.   I wish my other sister, Adria, could've been with us too.   My sisters are the best!!
Our Valentine's Day meal together....homeade spaghetti and meatballs, salad, bread, beans, and killer brownies.

      Kurtis has been working more hours lately due to it being tax season :)  The kids miss him a lot, but it is very fun to see their responses when he gets home from work.  He sat down for a minute in the toy room and was immediately tackled by all three of them.   I am so thankful for the relationship they have together and I love to see their faces light up when they spend time with him.  He does an amazing job of balancing all of his responsibilities and still spending time with the children and for that, I am grateful. 

The kids are so happy to have Daddy home from work.  They literally all ran to him and piled on him at the same time...I love it!!
           Below is a picture of some of the creative things the kids have been doing lately.  K-lady and W-man love to play dress up, but they took it a little too far this time.   They decided to dress up their dog, Mollie as Cinderella.  We decided to call her "Cinderdog."  She was less than happy with us that day. 

Cinderdog......A.K.A. Mollie.


She is pretty mad in this picture.



K lady and Mommy unwrapping caramels together for the killer brownies.
      Kate and I have really enjoyed baking together lately, although sometimes I think she would rather just have me sit down a play a board game with her.  :)  I have tried to do both things, because I love to bake, but I know my kids just want me to spend quality time with them too.  We have had some fun learning to play Monopoly and Sequence together.  In this picture, we were unwrapping 60 caramels to go into the killer brownie recipe.  I am thankful for the joy that Kate brings to our family.  She has such a good attitude about things and she helps me stay positive too. (except for when she is eating black bean tacos)..hahaha :)
     This posting has been filled with somewhat random events, but it is just a sampling of our family life from this past week.  I will look forward to being able to share a good story soon......there is always something funny or crazy happening in our home. :)  Have a great weekend,everyone!