"Your greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise." ~Andy Stanley

March 30, 2012

Spring break fun

We started our break at the park one evening and  had a BBQ next to this guy:

Unfortunately, a mom and her kids were feeding him sour cream and onion potato chips!!! -They must not have been Floridians because we all know that you don't feed alligators. We played some frisbee, sat by the river and had a relaxing evening.

Monday we went to see this movie:

And I've never seen such fabulous animation. I so much wanted to reach out and touch a Truffula tree! Loved it!

It turned into a really laid back week. We planned to go here:

but it never worked out. : (  I got some kind of 'bug' which made me dizzy and nauseous and interrupted the fun.

We went out Friday for pizza with my BFF and her family then headed to the movies to drop off all of our various Hunger Games fans. The ones who read the book were planning to dress up as different characters, and told the ones who hadn't read the book, that they couldn't come. LOL! Time got away from us at the restaurant and some of the showings were sold out already so, in the end, they made the 9:00 PM show, didn't get to dress up and 'let' the non-book-readers come. (I've been told several times by Andrew that I don't need to read the book though because he says I wouldn't like it. Hmmm, it seems to be all the rage though, so maybe I should)

Saturday we had a great time watching Joy in her first softball game of the season. Her favorite position is
catcher. -And can that girl whip off her mask in a hurry! She did a great job in left field too. ~It will be THE only time that Daddy cheers for the Red Sox, that is for sure. -Lady Red Sox, that is! : )

We also had our annual "House Party" which is a time to celebrate, remember and thank God for the addition that our dear friend, Carlos, put on our house in 2005. It is always a special time when we remember how an amazing God provided more space for our family and how an amazing friend 

gave so many months (that turned into years) of his life to pull it off. What an indescribable blessing.

And now, thanks to one of the rooms he built, we not only have more room for our gang, but we are housing my hubby's brother, who is a stroke patient.

Who would've thought of that, back when it was only a 800 sq. ft. 2 bed and 1 bath. God obviously had a plan!

All in all, it was a fun and laid back spring vacay
and I'm so glad that summer is just around the corner. Hooray!


March 28, 2012

Wednesdays in the Word

In case the words from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 have become overly familiar and lost some of their meaning in your life, try this exercise from Francis Chan's book Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God.

"Take the phrase 'Love is patient' and substitute your name for the word love. Do it for every phrase in the passage."

Here is mine:
"Becky is patient and kind, Becky does not envy or boast, Becky is not arrogant or rude. Becky does not insist on her own way; Becky is not irritable or resentful; Becky does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Becky bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things..."

 "By the end, don't you feel like a liar?" ~Francis Chan

Yes, I did. Ouch! -Very convicting.

"If I am meant to represent what love is, then I often fail to love people well. " ~Francis Chan

Give it a try. May we 'love people well' because we've been SOOO loved by our amazing God.


March 27, 2012

For the love of the wedge salad

My hubby loves to order a wedge salad from Outback whenever we happen to go there. (and thanks to a bunch gift cards we received for Christmas, that seems to be rather often)

I decided to try and make it and googled Outback's Wedge Salads for a celebration we were having on Saturday night.

This is how I ended up making it:

Wedge Salad

1/4 head of iceberg lettuce per person (although I gave a half to the men around here and they didn't mind)
red onion (chopped)
tomatoes (diced)
12 oz of bacon (cooked and crumbled)  -Lots of bacon is the best
4 oz of blue cheese crumbles
Kraft Three Cheese Ranch dressing
1/8 cup of balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup of honey

Put vinegar and honey in a saucepan to simmer and thicken. (let cool)

Arrange a 1/4 of a head of lettuce per plate. Add a few tablespoons of Ranch dressing on each head. Then add the red onion, tomatoes, bacon. Drizzle the vinegar/honey mixture on top and then add the blue cheese crumbles. YUM!

I also served Sweet Tomato's Tuna Tarragon. We were just about too full from the salad to eat it, which is probably a healthy problem to have. : )


March 26, 2012

A fun day in the land of motherhood

I spent part of my morning reading this with Joy:

She is reading Little Women for school and whenever I have time, I love reading it with her. I didn't read this book until I was an adult (on vacation at my in-laws) and it holds a special place in my heart. It has such great character building lessons that I think it should be required reading.

                                                      In the afternoon, we watched this:

                                                                  and started on this:

Joy and I helped out with an outreach our church does for the community which includes 65,000 Easter eggs. We were about to 'stuff' 2,000 of those when Joy suggested that we have an "Anne of Green Gables marathon" while we worked on them. My 'kindred spirit!'
It reminded me of my high school years and the girls I hung out with. We couldn't get enough of Anne or Jesus!
We were just a year or two older than Joy is now. 

Then I grew up and raised my kids on Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea. (even the boys!) This story proves it. : )  (even my hubby has been known to quote Gilbert on a occasion) lol

I guess it has been several years since we've watched the videos though, because Joy said it felt like she was seeing them for the first time.
She was laughing at all the funny parts and 'awwing' at the cute ones. What a treat it was to enjoy them all over again with her. 

That night I thought about how blessed I am to have such a sweet girl of my own. 
A girl who:
 can 'hold her own' with boys like 'Jo,'  who is dreamy, determined and fun like 'Anne' 
and best of all, 
a girl who LOVES Jesus like her momma! 


March 23, 2012

Here's to first of many nights of good sleep

It has been a LONG journey, but we are hoping to be at the end of it.

My hubby has sleep apnea and today he got his CPAP machine and mask. Glory!

We realized he had it when he fell alseep at a stop light. Scary, huh?
It took a LONG time to pay cash for a sleep study and then we had to wait to be reimbursed by our Christian healthcare group, (which is awesome) and then purchasing the machine...

The doctor said they are concerned about someone who has 5 apnea episodes in one hour. My hubby's test showed that he had 42! -in one hour.
Bless that dear man's heart. That's not much sleep.

Here is hoping, praying and believing that my guy will sleep like a baby from now on! And that he would get used to this contraption being on his face quickly. Appreciate your prayers.
I can't wait to see how much energy he has once he experiences some deep sleep. Bless his heart!

"For so He gives to his beloved sleep." ~Psalm 127:2


March 21, 2012

Wednesdays in the Word

God and you make the majority.
I love Jonathan's courage in 1 Samuel 14.
He's tired of waiting around and decided to take the offensive against the Philistines even if it is by himself!
He tells his armor bearer that they should sneak into the the enemies camp because:
"It may be that the Lord will work for us. For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few."
When God fights for you numbers aren't needed because He can just make the ground shake and cause the enemy to attack themselves. -Piece of cake!
"the earth quaked so that it was a very great trembling."
 "Every man's sword was against his neighbor and there was a great confusion." 
"So, the Lord saved Israel that day.." 
-All because of one young man's courage!
The people said that Jonathan "has worked with God this day."
I LOVE that!
I want to be courageous and work with God today.
"The people who know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits." Daniel 11:32


March 20, 2012

"Its root, root, root for the home team" or not

This weekend my hubby was given tickets to the Yankees spring training game! 

Also a parking pass and cash for lunch. How fun is that?!
NOT that we are Yankees fans.
But there are no shortage of New Yorkers in FL and the stadium was packed. I was surprised to be sitting by so many folks who were actually here from New York!

We couldn't believe that our seats turned out to be right behind the dugout! Now that is close!
So close, that we stood for awhile before the game started so that fans could crowd around our seats and ask the players for autographs! Did I mention it was close? : )
Thankfully, we had cute little 8 year old boys with gloves sitting on each side of us to catch foul balls, which made me feel better about being THAT close.

I had the distinct feeling that someone else's blessing was possibly being wasted on me. Don't get me wrong, a chance to have my wonderful hubby all to myself for the whole day -utter awesomeness! -I think I'd even watch NASCAR for that! ; ) But it did feel a little weird that I didn't know who any of those players were, who were only 10 feet away. (Jeter was a name I'd recognize, but he wasn't there)

We ended up leaving a little early because the heat was melting our brains but we had a great time together in what my hubby called "the enemy's territory."

 Go Rays! : )


 (I promise these pictures weren't taken 3 years ago, we just can't seem to figure out how to correct that or turn it off on our camera)

March 16, 2012

Crazy for a vintage photo

In one of our poses for this family photo,
they offered to let us change clothes and do something that showed our personalities or hobbies. No one got too excited about that idea, maybe because most of our gang are musicians and didn't want to lug in their instruments.
What our kids REALLY, really, really wanted to do was to recreate the vintage picture we had taken years ago, where the fabulous studio SUPPLIED all the suspenders, hats, lace dresses, beads, vests, shirts, props etc... What we all remember most about the vintage photo we took years ago, is that Nathan, who was about 8 yrs old, wouldn't smile. When we asked him why he said "People never smiled in old fashioned pictures."  Such a smart little guy! : )

-And here, I thought my photo clothes shopping challenge was complete. Oh my, not by a long shot!
I'm pretty sure this is the first morning in a week that I haven't had to think about needing to find suspenders!

An accidental find at the mall, did give me some hope that we could pull this thing off and do it for CHEAP when I walked into this store and found a hat that looks like it was from the 1920's (for a whopping $5)  and faux fur stole, of all things, (sort of like this but it is redish black and came with a broach) for only $2.00. That may have been false hope though, because for the past week I couldn't find things for the boys to wear.

It all made for a day of PURE craziness around here, and unfortunately, not spring break yet. So, kiddos were doing school and I was running around from store to store and then ironing (count them) 12 outfits! Nathan woke up sick and we weren't even sure if we would even be able to do the photo for half the day. To add to it all, my hubby came home with his eye covered up and told me that he had hit his eye on a ladder at work. Ugh!!! We might have to add that to the top family pranks of the year. (like father like daughter!) The studio was in the mall, and we 'lost' 2 boys the minute we got there...
Then hubby found an awesome deal on black shoes that he needed for the first photo while we were walking to the studio.

Joy ended up wearing a black dress with a full skirt that I found years ago at a yard sale. -When she was two, she would put on her dress-up clothes and I would put on this dress and we would dance around the living room, twirling to her favorite song. (pretty sure that memory is why I still let that dress take up space in my closet) Now, she is 15 and looked adorable in it herself with the 1920's looking hat and with some cute curls we made really quick with the You Curl!
 I wore as a bride's maid's dress that I wore in a wedding 6 years ago! It had pretty, gauzy looking sleeves that looked old fashioned and it happened to match the faux fur stole! Hubby said he "couldn't believe such weird outfits on you Girls ended up looking so beautiful." LOL!
He wore a white shirt and a sport coat. (easy) Andrew wore a white dress shirt and red suspenders and a conductor's (looking) hat. Zac did the same (without a hat) and said this look is "Indie" and in. (who knew?) Nate wore a white shirt and sports coat, like dad. -Someone left an argyle golf cap in the studio that Nathan borrowed and it looked SO perfect. See? Everything literally all come together at the last possible minute.
We all went bare footed, like in our first photo, which was surely the only easy part of going with the vintage theme.
Our photographer saw us after we changed into the vintage stuff and said she felt like she "just got off the Titanic." She got a big kick out of it all and kept snapping pictures and gasping and saying 'OMG!' So, I guessed they turned out pretty well, but we won't know until Friday.

Despite the immense amount of crazy, it all turned out well and we had a really fun family night. When your kids are 19, 17, 15, and 12 you know these days together are limited. (boo-hoo)
Can't wait to see the proofs! So glad to be capturing this precious season of our lives in photos.

If I thought my photo shoot was a lot of work, it wasn't anything compared to what the sweet Carson family does for a family photo! Like rent a VW van and bring all kinds of props out in the middle of nowhere to take the cutest camping-themed pictures EVER. Take a look here. It is sooooo much cuteness all in one place! : )


March 14, 2012

Wednesdays in the Word

Joy and I are reading Kisses from Katie.
Wow! Love this girl! Love her devotion to the Lord!
 At the age of 19, she "quit her life" and left behind her family, friends, yellow convertible, boyfriend and the opportunity to go to any college she chose,
to obey the Lord and live and LOVE in Uganda.

Tell me if this doesn't touch you too:

"I can't really explain in words the love I felt for these children or why I felt it. I think many people would have looked at them and seen only their filthy clothes, the ringworm on their heads, or the mucus that ended up in a crust around their nostrils. They would have looked around at the dormitories of the orphanage with its smooth, hard cement floor where rats and cockroaches made themselves at home and been a bit disgusted. By the grace of God, though, I didn't see these things. The truth is, I saw myself in those little faces. I looked at them and felt this love that was unimaginable and knew that this is the way God sees me. The children would run to me with gifts of stones or dirt and I saw myself, filthy and broken, offering my life to the God of the universe and begging Him to make it into something beautiful. I sit here in a broken world, small and dirty at His feet and He who sits so high chooses to commune with me, to love me anyway. He blinds Himself to my sin and filth so that He can forge a relationship with me. And this is what He did for me with these precious children. He blinded me to the filth and disease, and I saw only children hungry for love that I was eager to share with them. I adored them, not because of who I was, but because of who He is." ~Katie Davis


March 12, 2012

The "matchy thing"

It is time for a family photo!

I had hoped to have it taken before Christmas...but well, you know how it is. : )
Back in November Groupon, (yes, I have to mention them again!)
had a screaming deal for a photo session,
and because someone bought a deal I recommended, they gave me a credit on my next purchase and boring story short,
this one-hour family photo session and a bunch of prints cost me
 (wait for it)....
all of...eight dollars!
Yippee! : )

It has been WAY TOO long since we've had a family photo (professionally) done, as in, 8 years too long.  And since I usually overthink things, I had to Google family photo 'Do's and Don'ts.' : )

When I made the appointment, the photographer asked what we planned to wear...
 I didn't know yet and he suggested we do the "the matchy thing" and then change clothes and do a shot that shows our personalities.
Oh, how I love the "matchy thing!" It reminds me of when my kids were little at Easter!
The fam vetoed the white shirts and jeans idea since we've done on the beach in the past.  I've been trying to come up with a color scheme that worked for everybody with outfits we already owned...but that was hard to pull off since you shouldn't: have too many patterns or logos on shirts or horizontal stripes, which apparently make you look fat... (thank you 'Do's and Don'ts')

Ross was a life saver! I wanted dressy shirts for all 6 of us and wanted to spend around $10 a person. Not easy especially since 4 are teens and are picky particular. : )
The "Do's and Don'ts" highly recommended bribery,
which was an idea that did come in handy
and now we are ready!
It is a color scheme miracle! And such a major accomplishment that I had to have a picture of just the clothes!
We are going with this blueish green color and gray and black. (which looks a lot better in person than in this photo)
Joy even scored a dress in this fantastic color, which we all think is totally adorable.

It may be another 8 years before we pull off another one of these...
And just think, by then, we'll most likely have a lot more family members to do 'the matchy thing' with! ; )


March 9, 2012

Diapers and dogs, oh dear!

Who knew there were such a thing as doggie diapers, underwear and panty liners!?!
Not I.
 -Such is the revelation that a puppy in heat, that you planned to have fixed but didn't in time, brings into your life.
It has been a LONG time since I've changed any diapers...until today and I never thought I'd be doing it for a dog...
I think this will be our first and LAST experience with a dog in heat. 
Bree is not a fan of the doggie diaper.
(that makes two of us)
They are pretty pricey and slightly ridiculous

and she figured out pretty quickly how to get out of them.

This whole thing is 'for the dogs' if you ask me! ; )

March 7, 2012

Planning and pranking

I'm a big fan of Groupon . We've been really happy with all the deals we've purchased with them and have been able to do some super fun things for crazy cheap.

So, when they had a hotel stay for 6 people (which is rare) at 60% off in Orlando at this crazy, fun looking hotel, I bought it, because the price was THAT good and not because my kids are Spongebob fans or want to have breakfast with Dora the Explorer. LOL
 (we are just too old for that now) : )
Plus, I thought, who needs to visit a theme park when you hotel looks like this:

The plan is, that right after our care-giving season of six months ends, we are headed here for a couple days of fun, family time. It has been a nice thing to look forward to when care-giving isn't easy. Our youngest two are so excited that they even have a code word for the trip, so that they can talk about it without hurting their uncle's feelings in any way, in case he overhears.

Now, enter here, the family prank of the year:

Last night, Andrew answered the phone and told me to come here as he was holding the receiver and  looking SOOOO very distressed. I thought it looked like someone had died but who would give such awful news on the phone to your youngest child?!
On the other end of the phone, someone with a very good British accent
 (thanks to lots of episodes of Dr. Who)
 was saying "This is the Nickelodeon Hotel and we regret to inform you that your hotel reservation has been cancelled."
Then that certain someone felt sooo very convicted that she confessed AND offered to do his chores.
Bless her heart.
I'm sure this will be a source for many laughs in our family history when 'the glue has dried' as Gary Smalley says...maybe not today though. ; )


March 5, 2012

More quotes I adore...

"The point of your life is to point to Him." ~Francis Chan

"Live deep instead of fast." ~Henry S. Canby

" In the name of Jesus Christ who was never in a hurry, we pray, O God, that You will slow us down, for we know that we live too fast. With all of eternity before us, make us take time to live -time to get acquainted with You, time to enjoy Your blessings, and time to know each other." ~ Peter Marshall

"Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just." ~Thomas Jefferson (me too!)

"Troubles nearly always make us look to God, and it is His blessings that are apt to make us look elsewhere." ~Oswald Chambers

"The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax." ~Albert Einstein    (LOL! This made me feel better!)

"Remember Whose you are and Whom you serve." ~Oswald Chambers

"It's crazy, if you think about it. The God of the universe -the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor, loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss." ~Francis Chan

I'd love to hear some of your favorites!

March 1, 2012

A faith boosting read

Don't you love reading an autobiography once an awhile? Especially one that is full of stories of the faithfulness of God! We are enjoying one like that now, in The Autobiography of George Muller.

Hearing his name made me think of
England, hungry orphans and the Veggie Tales video and the scene with the broken milk truck. : )
If his name isn't ringing a bell, George Muller was a man who did a tremendous work for God in Bristol, England. He's best known for the orphanages he established and for the fact that he never raised funds or requested money to support them. The only one he ever asked for money was God and so the daily needs of hundreds of children, in three orphanages, were completely supported by God, through daily prayer and the offerings He led people to give.
I was surprised to find out that George Muller did not start the "orphan house" for the sake of the orphans but for the sake of his fellow Christians and the building up of their faith. He said:
  "I know that the Word of God ought to be enough but by giving my brothers visible proof of the unchangeable faithfulness of the Lord, I might strengthen their faith...this seems to me best done by establishing an orphan house -something which could be seen by the natural eye. If I, a poor man, simply by prayer and faith obtained, without asking any individual, the finances for establishing and carrying on an orphan house, this might strengthen the faith of the children of God. It would also be a testimony to the unconverted of the reality of the things of God."
"This is the primary reason for establishing the orphan house. I certainly desire to be used by God to help the poor children and train them in the ways of God. But the primary object of the work is that God would be magnified because the orphans under my care will be provided with all they need through prayer and faith. Everyone will see that God is faithful and hears prayer." 
Awesome, huh?

I think George would be blessed to know that 176 years later, his testimony of 'the orphan houses' is still encouraging believers that God is faithful and hears prayer. I know it has been encouraging one of our boys, who has been seen praying out loud in the back yard and spending his lunch time reading the Word because of this book! : ) How awesome is that!?!!?