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Monday, October 31, 2011

Comment Response

Hey all - I wanted to respond to a comment on received this evening on "Some Startling Facts".  I wish blogger had a way to respond to comments within comments - but I haven't figured it out.

Anywho - got this anonymous comment and I wanted to add to what this commenter correctly said.  First, though, lets share the comment:

"Keep preaching! Get the word out any way you can. Let's take a serious look at what Sweden did and the the success they found. Go after the Johns and the demand drops and the pimps leave. Quit slapping guys who buy sex on the wrist - hand out real punishments"

Anonymous - I couldn't agree more!  I don't understand why the person selling the sex ends up punished more severely than the person buying the sex.  Really - is there a difference?  If people wouldn't buy - then there would be no reason to sell.  Reduce or eliminate the demand and suddenly prostitution ceases to exist.  This commenter is right - this is what Sweden did and they have almost totally eliminated prostitution in their country.

Let me add another thing to this if I could take the opportunity to do so.  Pornography.  If we make buying and selling porn illegal and impossible to gain access to legally - then we would also reduce the demand for prostitution - thus reducing the "need" for young women and men to be prostituted.  Pornography is also part of the problem that needs addressing.

It all boils down to this.  Lust of the flesh.  The sin nature.  The perversion of what God intended for good.

Thanks commenter for sharing your thoughts with us.  I love when people comment - lets me know someone out there is listening.  Keep it up!!

Driven to Distraction

Have you ever picked up a book (besides the bible!) that has changed your life??  That happened to me last weekend.

I picked up this book - Driven to Distraction.  We have been waiting on the Sleep Study results from the study Jon had done back at the beginning of October. Little man has also been diagnosed with ADHD.  Today I had an appointment with the Dr. to go over all the test results and decide where to proceed from here.

Anyway - this past Friday - I picked up this book - and devoured it all weekend long.  Finally - answers.  For so long, I've thought ADD was merely just a hyperactive kid or a kid who bounces off the walls.  I never realized ADD is a biological problem - a problem with the functioning of the brain - and one that causes far more than a bit of hyperactivity here and there.  I had no idea all that ADD encompasses - and reading this book opened up my eyes to a lot of things.  It's NOT something slapped on "bad" kids who's parents can't control them.  That's not it at all.  It was a relief - to see so many things our kid struggles with - all actually have to do with this one diagnosis.  I'm NOT a bad parent, I haven't screwed up or messed up my kid - and best of all - my kid is not screwed up either.  He has a biological condition.

Like I said - several things I didn't realize were part of the ADD.  The fact that he responds so well to structure.  He's never been a kid who does well with change.  Vacations?  A nightmare.  Change the schedule without a lot of warning?  That has never gone over well in our house.  I learned from this book that transitions - even small transitions like waking up and going to sleep - are really hard for the child with ADD.  Who knew???  Oh the fights I could have prevented just by understanding this small thing!!

ADD kids have several physical issues - most of which little man has had.  Chronic ear infections as a child, asthma, allergies, sleep disturbances - all things we have struggled with.

Of course you have the typical lack of focus, concentration, impassivity, etc.

Physical activity is great for kids with ADD which explains why the best semester little man has had in school was the one in which he played two sports - something we had never before allowed in our home.

There is more but I don't have the book in front of me.  If you suspect your child has ADD - I highly recommend this book.  It left me in tears a lot of the time.  Also left me feeling guilty that I allowed stupid thinking to get in the way of a diagnosis that could have saved my son a whole lot of struggle a lot sooner.

Read it - you won't regret it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Some startling facts



Today I want to challenge your thinking.  The first time my thinking was challenged in this area was about 2 years ago at a training seminar for The Daughter Project.  It was eye opening for me - and it totally changed my perspective on this global issue.

Prostitution.  At one point in my life, I actually thought most prostitutes - chose to be prostitutes.  I felt they had no self-respect.  My view has since changed.  Let me share with you why.

First - let's start with some startling statistics.  Read each one slowly and allow it to sink into your soul.

92% of women who participate in prostitution want to leave it - but feel they can't because they lack homes, job training, health care, counseling.  All of them are owned by a pimp who will not allow them to leave without severe if not deadly consequences.

In the past 7 years in Ohio, the age girls enter prostitution is dropping.  It used to be 16 - now it's 14.

The demand for young girls is increasing.  Why?  Because men feel it is safer to have sex with a younger girl - lower risk of catching Aids.

75 - 95% of prostitutes were sexually abused as children.

The idea that prostitutes make lots of money is untrue.  Most don't make enough to live on - all hand over their cash to a pimp.

Pimps keep prostitutes doped up.  Getting them addicted to drugs is one of the best ways to keep them from leaving the life.

Over the last decade, the street price for oral sex has dropped from 20-30 dollars to 2-3.00.  (Another reason women can't pay back their "debt" they "owe" in order to "get out of" prostitution - aka - sex trafficking)

There are 177 strip clubs, x-rated video parlors and peep shows in New York City's Times Square.  Can you say red light district?

Are you sickened yet?  Are you still with me?  I wonder how many have already closed out the page because the facts are too much.

But we can't do that.  Can you see from these statistics that prostitutes are VICTIMS?  Up to 95% of them were PRE-DISPOSED to prostitution by being sexually abused (raped) as children.  They can't get out because they are "owned" by a man who keeps them drugged. Their kids are taken from them, their children are aborted and they have no where to turn.  The world looks down on them as if this is all somehow their fault.

We need to change our perspective.  Prostitutes (aka rape victims) need the love of Christ.  They need a home, they need a rehab center, they need job skills & an education so they can make it on their own.

No one chooses prostitution.  No one.  You may disagree - but look again at that statistic.  95% sexually abused as a child.  They did not choose prostitution - prostitution chose them.

Does it make you think dear friend?  Does it change your perspective?  I know it has mine.  It has given me a burden for these women who so desperately need the love of Christ. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"It's my evil side"



Funny story.  Last weekend when we were coaching state finals for our Special Olympics teams, one of our kids totally hacked another kid and took him out.  He laughed loud and proud with an evil laugh.  We've been told before that the evil laugh is not a good sign, so one of the other coaches pulled him out.

As the coach pulled this player aside to try to talk, he asked the the kid "Why did you do that?" This is how he responded:  "It's my evil side and I LIKE it"

It was funny - and I must say - the coach handled it so well.  He didn't laugh, didn't yell, just tried to make him see that an attitude like that is going to result in not playing.

I've been thinking about this statement for a few days now.  This young man does not have the social filters you and I have - so he says what he thinks.  We may look at him and think of how awful he is for saying that, or how we would never think that way because we don't have the same issues this young man does - but can we be honest in that?

How many times have we smiled when someone has gotten what they do - or don't - deserve?  I know I'm not alone in this.  There have been times when certain people in my life who have done me wrong have finally gotten what's coming to them - and - honestly - there have been moments that it DOES make me HAPPY.  Which, I know, is wrong - but it's true.

How many times in our lives do we actually LIKE our evil side? Don't be too quick to say never. 

Sometimes we DO enjoy evil - for a season.  Sometimes it APPEARS to feel GOOD when we do things we know displease God.  In the moment - sin - seems appetizing.

But much like our player had to learn this past weekend - sin - our evil side - has consequences.  The consequences are different depending on the sin - but we all end up "out of the game" so to speak until we calm down and realize what we have done or are doing is wrong.  We have to apologize to "the coach", ask for forgiveness, don't repeat our sin and get back in the game.

Romans 7:14-25

The Message (MSG)

 14-16I can anticipate the response that is coming: "I know that all God's commands are spiritual, but I'm not. Isn't this also your experience?" Yes. I'm full of myself—after all, I've spent a long time in sin's prison. What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary.
 17-20But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
 21-23It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
 24I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?
 25The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.




On the menu

I'm a bit late getting to this post.  With having Elyse home last weekend, I didn't get around to the grocery shopping until last night.

We decided to head to Meijer's only because I've been shopping at Kroger all the time and I wanted to check once again to price compare.  Bad idea.  Spent more money at Meijer than I have in months at Kroger.  I think from here on out, we'll stay at Kroger.  It appears to be cheaper and we get a gas discount as well.  As a side note - I'm glad my husband is willing to go grocery shopping with me.  I know many men wouldn't do that - and I want to publicly thank him for being willing to do that.  Sometimes it seems it's the only time we get to spend alone - lol!

On to the menu.  My kids have always been great at eating what is in front of them, but little man - well sometimes he can only take so much change in his life before it really begins to stress him out.  He has grown tired of my creativity in the kitchen - lol.  He has been requesting that I not switch things up all the time.  No - he's not being bratty and he truly does struggle with change - so, in order to make his life a little better and mine a little easier, these next 2 weeks, I only chose 1 or 2 "new" meals.  In those "new" meals, they are similar to foods he is used to eating so I am hoping he will be okay with them.  I've been sharing with you the cost and this week the total was around 303.00.  Now, at the request of my college daughter, I did buy a slew of microwaveable foods to send on to Minneapolis to her.  This week I also needed dog food, laundry detergent, toilet paper, a memory card for E, etc - and that stuff adds up quick which may explain why my bill was a little high this time around. 

Anyway - let's move on to the actual food.  Hope you can find some ideas for your menu this week!

Lunch
Ham & Potato Soup
Catherine's Spicy Chicken Soup

Dinner
Barbecue Beef (a carry over - again - lol!)
Spaghetti
Slow Cooker Beef Stew (new but not much different than roast and potatoes which we eat regularly)
Taco Salad
Roast/Potatoes/Carrots
BLT's
Ham Steaks/Mashed Potatoes/homemade applesauce
Caramel Apple Pork Chops (new - I intend on making the sauce separately & having that optional for him because I don't think he'll like it)
Baked Ziti
Mac & Cheese and hot dogs
Tacos

Snacks
Crackers & Cheese
Sauteed Apples (new, but similar to applesauce or apple crisp)
Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread (carry over again)
Apples/Caramel Apple Dip
Tortilla Chips/Queso Dip
Smoothies
Malteds
Popsicles
Popcorn

Sunday, October 23, 2011

New Name



In Maharashtra state, India, local officials held a renaming ceremony for some 200 girls.  They were given new names as their old names given to them at birth meant "unwanted".    You can read more about the ceremony here.


It's sad.   To be given a name that would mark you, in that society, for the rest of your life - awful.  Who would do that to a child?  It would be equivalent to naming a child here in America "garbage" or "trash" or "wish you were never born".  From the beginning of your life, you would know you were not welcome.  Can you imagine?


I think it's awesome this state in India has recognized how damaging this is and has given these girls a chance to re-name themselves.  In doing that, they have allowed them to dream, allowed them to see all they could be instead of all they have been told they are.  Kudos to the local officials for caring about girls and lifting them up.  


It reminded me of Ezekiel 36:26:  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.


This is what Jesus does for us when we give our hearts and lives to him.  He gives us a new name, a new heart, a new spirit.  He removes our hearts of stone and gives us hearts of flesh.  He tells us know we are not garbage, trash, unwanted, unwelcome.  He allows us to see who He sees us as instead of who we have been told by this world we are.  


Have you been re-named by Jesus?  Have you allowed Him to remove your heart of stone?  Have you heard your new name yet?  All you have to do is ask.  He's willing to give it to you if only you would give your life to Him.  Come - take part in the renaming ceremony!







Thursday, October 20, 2011

College

I loved college.  Loved it.  It was some of the most amazing years of my life. I was finally free, I was running and not looking back.  I figured out who I was.  I found my voice.  I learned to stand up for myself, learned to speak instead of stay silent.  I met my husband at college, practiced my craft at college.  I laughed a lot and made lasting friendships.  I look back on college and can't think of a single negative thing about it.  Even the tough times were what helped shape me and protect me.  Life was fresh, exciting.  I was in a new place, able to make my own choices, choose my own direction.  It was fun.  It was a dream I wasn't used to living.  I loved it.

Never once in those 4 years did I stop and think about it from any perspective than mine.  Never once did I wonder how hard my it must be for my Mom.  It just didn't dawn on me.  Literally wasn't a thought in my head - and now I feel terrible about that.

Now I'm the Mom.  My daughter is home for the first time since leaving in August and today she shed some tears.  I knew she would.  It's a harsh reality to come home from college for the first time.  While you're off having a grand ole time, the world you left behind goes on without you and something about that - just seems wrong.  You know people still love you - but it just feels - off.  I tried to warn her because I haven't forgotten the first time I came home - but - it's something you have to experience for yourself.

What scares me is that all it took was my coming home once or twice for me to realize I really DID love this new world I was making for myself and before long - I just plain stopped coming home all that often.  I know my circumstances were far different than my daughters - but honestly - I wonder when that moment will come for her.  It's normal, it's natural, and in a bittersweet way - it's a moment that when it arrives, I will know she's going to be okay - but it certainly doesn't feel good on this end.  At some point, I met my husband and his family - and then I think my Mom might have seen me only a couple of times a year for a while.  I dread that.

Last night she fell asleep in my bed as we watched criminal minds at 4:00 a.m. because we were too wired from the trip home.  Her roommate slept in her room and Marty hit the couch.  This morning I woke up to her snoring next to me and just smiled.  It's good to have her home.  She doesn't know it, but I sat and just watched her sleep, rubbed her back and tried to soak in the memory for the days she is gone.  I doubt I have many of those moments left with her so I try to enjoy them when they happen.

I'm so happy for her - she loves college.  I'm glad she does.  I know one day she will stop coming home all together and that's a bridge we will cross when we come to it.  For today - I'm enjoying having her home for 3 days.  I'm glad she's at a great Christian college with students, staff and mentors who love the Lord and are growing her in Christ.  But I miss her.

Yet, as much as having her stay home at a community college would be beneficial to me - it wouldn't be beneficial for her.  It's not what God wants for her life.  Right now she is living the dream that both Marty and I were able to live.  I want that for it even though eventually, it means goodbye.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

1 more day!

Okay, it's a little more than one day in hours - but in just about 36 hours, Lord willing, I'll be standing at a bus station watching for my girl.  Yee Haw!  Can't wait!

Monday, October 17, 2011

All I can be is....me

Today I was on Facebook and saw pictures from another lady I know who is one terrific Mom.  It appears she had some kind of dinner party for her kids at her house, invited all their friends, rented a tent and cooked a great meal.  The kids were all dressed up. 

Can I be honest?  (Sorry friend - I love you!)  My first reaction?  Jealousy.  Jealous that I hadn't thought of it, jealous I don't have the money for it, jealous she has the ability to do things I can't do as a Mom. I sat and compared all I am not - to all she is.  Let me set the record straight - she's a good friend and she truly is an awesome Mom.  This is NOT to rip on her - but rather, to point something out for all of us.

As I sat and degraded myself in my head, and thought of a few other Moms who I feel out-do me as a Mom, something began to dawn on me.

All I can be ..... is me.

Why is it we can spend soooo much time thinking of our faults - but never think of our strengths?  Why is it so easy to see the negative, and not the positive?  Why, when people compliment us on a job well done, do we run down a list of our screw-ups?  I know this is something I struggle with!

So - on that note - I'm going to do something different.  Instead of think of all the negatives - I'm going to point out some positives.  Some things I do well, and right.  If you know me - you know - this is hard for me.  I don't brag, I rarely say anything positive about myself - but - that needs to change because although I am far from the perfect Mom - I do the best job I possibly can.  So, here goes.

1.  I had nothing - no background on good parenting.  I grew up in a nightmare of a home.  Yet - I stopped the nightmare. Through and in Jesus Christ, I broke the generational curse.  If I have done nothing else right as a parent - this I have done oh so right and my kids - know it or not - are blessed for it.

2.  I am fiercely protective and fiercely loyal.  No one.  No one.  No one.  Messes with my kids.  No one.  I do not have a flight mode.  I only have a stand and fight mode.  My kids tease me about it - but one day - they will appreciate this in me and Lord willing, will be the same for their kids.

Break here - okay.  So now I find myself in tears.  I can't explain it - but writing this - is hard.  For every positive, I think of a thousand negatives.  I need to work on this.  Moving along now.

3.  With Marty, we have taught them to love the world.  To love people.  To see people for what is on the inside instead of judging the outside.  We have done this consciously and we are now beginning to see the fruits of our labor.  Our kids are missions oriented,  have gentle spirits and kind hearts because we have taught them that.  We have done well.

4.  I love them with everything I am.  I hope they know this.  No one loves my babies (except Marty) more than I do.  I might not always be good at showing it, and sometimes not so good at saying it - but boy do I love them.  My entire life goal growing up was to be their Mom.  Nothing could make me happier.  I never wanted a career - I just wanted kids. 

5.  I take good care of them. I cook, clean, do everything for them.  Honestly, to a fault.  But we're not going to talk about faults here - we're only going to talk about good.  I do everything for my kids and do it to the best of my ability.

Okay - that's good for now.  Please don't leave me a slew of compliments 'cause then I'm going to feel all weird and awkward - lol. 

I might not be a dinner party thrower.  I might not be the social queen bee Mom involved in everything in the community (that's not a slam on anyone really!!).  I might not be part of the PTA or the brownie troop leader.  I might not be a size 6 and a beauty queen Mom - but I am the best me I can be.

What about you?  Share some things with us you feel you've done RIGHT :)  I would love to hear from you.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

P.O.T.



I figured that title would get your attention :)

I'll let you sit and "chew" on it a while and see if you can figure out what it means before the end of this post.

This weekend was not one of my best "mothering" weekends.  Lost my cool, said stupid things, got incredibly inpatient and fed up.  Can I be honest?  PMS is NOT my friend once a month and when that hits at the same time as a moody teenager - well - the results are never good.

I love my kids - more than anything.  Wouldn't trade them for the world.

But this teenage/college thing?  It's for the birds.  Gone is my son who used to cuddle with me every chance he gets.  Gone is my little girl who wants to play dress up.  Left is tough decisions, kids who pull away.  Sometimes the ungratefulness can bring me to my knees - quite literally.  I feel so unappreciated most days.  So much like all I'm good for is to make the food, keep the clothes clean and drive them wherever they want to go.  I really miss the days where my word was not questioned and where Mommy was the queen of everything.  It could easily leave me not wanting to get out from under the covers most days.  And I have good kids.  I can't even imagine what it would be like to be the parent of a child hooked on drugs, drinking or sex.  I don't think my heart could stand it.

I know in my head this is merely a stage - but I also know things will never go back to what they once where.  If they did - well then, I didn't do my job.  We raise them so one day they can leave.  I just didn't realize it would be so hard and hurt so much.

When our kids are little, we have MOPS.  Mothers of Preschoolers.  If only I had realized then THAT was NOT the hard days!!  Well - wait - it was hard in a different way.  Preschoolers are exhausting, demanding and you get NO "me" time.  You have to do everything for them. 

Now, when I feel I need a support system the most - we have nothing.  Nothing like MOPS.  I think there are several reasons for this.  Most of us have gone back to work and with running kids everywhere - our time is seriously already strained.  But secondly - I think we all get private.  We don't want to admit the struggles our kids have.  We want to appear to be the "perfect" parent.  We judge each other.  We breathe a sigh of relief when someone else's kids screw up instead of ours.  I think we avoid people as if their kids problems are some kind of plague our kids could catch.  We certainly don't come together, cry on each others shoulders, pray and support each other without judgement.

So.  P.O.T.  - can you guess?

Parents of Teenagers.  I think we should start something.  I seriously do.  I need you and I know others who need it.  Even if it's once a month.  I'm willing to offer up my house.  Does anyone else think this is a good idea?  Would anyone else want to join us?  NOT to talk about how terrible our kids our - but to encourage each other, remind each other that it's not always our faults, be truthful and honest with each other when it is, and to get on our knees and pray that our kids - and us - get through this unscathed and fully committed to Jesus.

Anyone?  (Oh - and we don't really need to call it P.O.T. - lol!)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Monster-in-Laws


Have you seen the previews for the new show Monster-in-Laws on A&E starting on October 24?  You better believe I'll be recording this one.  If for nothing else, to realize how good I have it!!

The previews are nuts.  I can NOT imagine either my parents or Marty's parents acting so psycho.  Can't imagine it.  My in-laws know me well enough to know that getting in my face and screaming at me would result in a very negative event ;)  Seriously though - that's crazy!  Do people really act like that or is it just for TV??

Anyway - just wondering if anyone else is looking forward to this show.  I think you should watch it because I truly don't believe most in-laws are all that bad.  I try to keep in mind that one day, I, too, will be an in-law and I prefer not to be one featured on this upcoming show :) 

Friday, October 14, 2011

5 more days!!

SUPER excited 'cause in FIVE DAYS my girl will be coming home for a visit.  WOO HOO!!  It's gonna be AWESOME!!!  Not so excited about the drive to Chicago to pick her up - but hey - it'll be so worth it when I get to see her.  I can't believe it's been since AUGUST since I've given her a hug.  It's almost going to be strange to have her home.  Lots of cleaning to do this week to prepare - but I can't wait!!

Dance with the devil


Be happy, you didn't get this post last year.

But - this year - you are getting the post :)

October is upon us.  My least favorite holiday, Halloween, is fast approaching (stick with me people, stick with me).  I don't watch tv hardly ever anymore so I can't comment on how downhill the programming has gone this month ;)  Lucky you!!

No, actually, this post is not going to be a slam on Halloween - well - depending on your perspective.  But - I'm going to do something I don't think I've done here before and that's to share my personal reasons for disliking Halloween as much as I do.  I'll spare you the history lesson as to why I think that as Christians, we should steer clear of the Halloween madness and just share with you why I've made the decision not to celebrate Halloween.

I'm trying, I'm really trying people!!

When I was growing up, my Dad thought the Ouija board was "fun".  He also enjoyed horror flicks and we watched them a lot - The Shining, The Exorcist, Nightmare on Elm Street - you name it, I think I probably saw it.  We did the whole Halloween thing.  My father found it "amusing" to scare us at every possible turn.  I became afraid of "things that go bump in the night."  I would try to use my mind to move things.  I remember being afraid of shadows.  I remember feeling like the door would close, like a chair would be on top of the table none of us had put there (quite sure that was in one of the movies).  I had horrific nightmares of satanic rituals that I still, to this day, remember with great clarity.  At times, I could literally feel an evil presence in the room.  Call me crazy - but this is my experience.

I don't remember after I left home at what point I decided to stop watching horror flicks once it became my choice.  The Ouija board was freaky so I never touched that thing - yet I was still drawn.  Eerily drawn to things like that - horoscopes (yes, I went there), future telling, I don't know - it just had a pull on me I can't explain.  It terrified me - and it pulled me.

Well into my marriage, I was afraid - especially at night.  I would wake up crying, shaking, and sometimes screaming from the nightmares.  I could feel evil - sense it.  When Marty and I were dating, I specifically remember an incident of swearing someone was in the room with me when we were staying at his parents house.  At some point in the night, I woke up with "something" (aka demon) in my face.  I was not asleep - I was awake - held down, choking with fear.  I remember finally sprinting to Marty's room to wake him up.  It was real and I was not delusional.

We celebrated Halloween when the kids were little.  I didn't see anything wrong with it.  I thought as long as I didn't dress my kids up like the devil, a ghost, or something evil and scary - then I was in the clear.  No big deal, it's all in fun.  No one is going to hell over it, right?  It's not like we're worshipping satan or anything. (oh how rich I would be if I could collect on every time someone throws that in my face)  There's nothing in the bible about it, is there? 

Okay, back to my personal reflection.  Yes - there IS something in the bible about it - but for now, we'll move along.

I remember when Elyse was just a baby - maybe 3 - we went to visit some friends.  He was from England - and in England - if I remember correctly - Christians don't celebrate Halloween (hmm, I'm not alone).  I thought he was crazy.  He was gracious about it - said the kids were adorable and all that - but it was a seed planted.  Then, we moved here and another friend shared with me they didn't celebrate Halloween either.  At this point, I began to research and what I learned astounded me.

Finally, after much deliberation, Marty and I decided we were no longer celebrating Halloween.  It was not a popular decision.

The change was dramatic and fast.  Suddenly, I stop being afraid of the night.  I began to learn how to shut the devil out of my sleep.  The bible says God/Jesus will give us rest - and He does.  I learned how to quote scripture in my dreams.  I prayed over our home.  Within 6 months, the nightmares stopped, I stopped waking up to demons in my face and the paralyzing crushing fear was over.

I still sense evil.  I still know when Satan is about to mess with me.  This past year, I was staying somewhere and literally saw something walk across the room that wasn't there.  I knew what was going on.  So did the dog - strangely enough - she went balistic.  Well - when satan messes with me now, it ticks me off - so I  prayed.  Out loud.   Quoted scripture.  This went on for 2 nights - and finally on the third, no more.  I don't mess around and I am not afraid.  I wouldn't say it's "enjoyable" - but I'm not afraid.

Call me crazy people - but if you believe in Jesus - then you have to believe there is a satan.  If you believe in Heaven - then you have to believe there is a Hell.

Now I'll be straight up with you.

Don't dance with the devil.  How do we do this?  Let me lay it out for you.

1.  We watch horror flicks - filling our minds with evil.
2.  We get our palms read, play with tarot cards - the bible is very clear - steer clear.
3.  We read our horoscope.  Only God knows the future.
4.  We play with Ouija boards.  Dance with the devil.
5.  And now I'm going to say it - we celebrate Halloween.  We give satan glory by giving celebration to the day created by him and for him.  We offer up our birthday cakes, sing our songs, while satan blows out our candles - our light that is supposed to shine bright in the darkness. 

I know this post will not make me popular.  Plenty of people disagree.  I've heard it all.  I'll lose followers over this post and probably friends.  I know some very close people who will shake their heads at me or say "well that's fine for you but it doesn't apply to everyone"  or "well we don't mean anything by it - it's just all in good fun!" I can't convince you - only you can take it to the Lord but I will say this.

Satan is not welcome in my home.  My kids don't have gory nightmares because we don't dance with the devil.  My kids aren't tempted by horoscopes or Ouija boards because we don't dance with the devil.  Sleep, in our home, is free of fear - because we don't dance with the devil.  My kids know the rock on which they stand.  They know the power of scripture.  They know the KING that reigns - because we don't dance with the devil.

I would encourage you - highly and strongly encourage you - to put this one to prayer.  I would encourage you to do some research on Halloween - it's history, it's intent.  I believe satan gets a great laugh on this day.

One more thing and then I'll go.  Please don't leave me stupid comments asking me if I celebrate Christmas or if my kids believe in Santa.  I've heard that too.  I'm not going to explain all that here or anywhere.  Read, research - pray.  Then come back to me and we can talk.  I believe once you do those things, you will have a greater appreciation of where I'm coming from - and maybe - if I can say it - maybe you'll change your mind too.

Thanks for sticking with me.  I would apologize for offending - but this one is too serious for me to do that.  I've danced with the devil people - and satan is not a very good partner.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Give Thanks


Our Special Olympics season is almost over.  It has been a joy.  I will miss the players and look forward to next fall.  I fulfilled a goal I had on my bucket list - something to do before you "kick the bucket".  I have learned much.  I have received more hugs than I have given.  I came to teach - but instead, I was taught.  I came to give joy and instead, was filled to overflowing.  It has been a great ride and I am very thankful this opportunity arose. 

I received a Thank You from one of the players that I would like to share with you.  It was in regards to the walk-a-thon we did.  Marty and I stuck with 2 players who maybe took a little longer than others.  This thank you was from one of them.  It came on a postcard with a team picture.  His Mom helped him write the thank you. Here's what it said:

Hello Friends and Family,
I could not have asked for a perfect day.  The weather was beautiful.  I walked 2 miles with some of my fellow athletes and coaches.  We had a great time!  Music, car show, food and good friends.
Thank you so much for supporting me in my fundraising efforts. (I'm pretty sure this part was written by Mom!).  Our goal of 5,000 was reached.  The athletes will be sporting new uniforms and participating in more tournaments.
I am blessed to have such great friends, family and a supporting community.
Thank You,
(name withheld)

It was a beautiful day.  We enjoyed walking with this player.  I was amazed at how well they did.  One of our players sprinted an entire 5 miles.  Another player walked 5 miles.  All players walked at least 2.5 miles.  And they say kids with downs can't do anything.  I disagree.  Anyone - can do anything - they set their minds to.  These players will teach you that.  If ever you doubt - spend some time with Special Olympics kids.  They will teach you that with hard work and desire - nothing is impossible.  They do it with a smile on their face, a kindness you can't not begin to understand until you work with them, and heart that most of us don't have.

So today, the thank you really goes to our players.  Tonight is our last official game before State Finals.  It has been a terrific ride.  Thank you for accepting us, for allowing us to teach you - and for teaching us along the way.  We love you guys :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It's NOT FAIR!


This is something I've been struggling with lately.  The fairness of life.

When I feel as if life is unfair, I know all the right things to say, all the right things to think.  I know God has a plan, a purpose and I know I don't see the big picture.  I got all that, yet I still find it hard to understand.  Especially when it comes to those who have done you wrong repeatedly still seeming to come out on top of life while you are left in the dust.  I don't understand God in these moments.  I don't understand when you do what's right and still get - for lack of better terms (sorry, I really can't think of another word!!) - screwed.

It's hard.  I know I'm not alone.  I know this happens to people all the time.  I know it happened in the bible.  I know Jesus was killed and it wasn't fair - the man was without sin.  Can't get anymore unfair than that!

In that - we find our example of how to handle things when life isn't fair.  Jesus died for us - he died for people who spit, who beat, who unjustly accused, who mocked, who got what they didn't deserve.  It wasn't fair - yet he still went to the cross.  I have a tough time loving people that much.  The whole turning the other cheek, love your enemies thing - can I say that's incredibly difficult for me??

Life isn't fair.  If I can have a pity party for a moment - I feel like myself, and my family, have dealt with more than our share of unfairness.  Personally I grow weary of it.  Yet I know I have something to learn from Jesus.  I know I have a long way to grow.  Some days - I don't know how to begin that journey.  Something Joyce Meyer said once in a TV thing I was listening to has stuck with me.  She said your going to keep going through and going through and going through - until you get it - get what He is trying to teach you. That tells me I have a choice - learn in the unfairness - or go through it again.  I'm tired of going through it - so I'm trying to learn from it.

Life is unfair - sometimes more for some than for others.  Some people seem to sail through life without roadblocks - some of us have our share of walls to climb.  I want to find the place in my spiritual walk when I can stop crying "it's not fair!", figure out what He is teaching me, move forward - and let go.  Find the place where fairness doesn't matter.  Lean into Him, trust He's got it under control and move along.

Anyone with me??

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Teach Our Daughters


 
I found this on a friends status on Facebook.  I love it, and I agree.  Couldn't have said it better myself.  In case you can't read it - I wrote it out below.  Thank you to my husband for being the man who has taught our daughter these things.




We need to teach our daughters to distinguish between:

a man who flatters her
and a man who compliments her.

a man who spends money on her
and a man who invests in her.

a man who views her as property
and a man who views her properly.

a man who lusts after her
and a man who loves her.

a man who believes he's a gift to women,
and a man who believes she's a gift to him.

And then we need to teach our sons
to be that kind of man.

Praying for you Marzieh

If there were a way I could protest this - I would.  You can see the full article HERE.  Basically, Actress Marzieh Vafamehr of Iran has been arrested and sentenced to 90 lashes for:

"Vafamehr often appears with a shaved head and no headscarf in the film, which also explores cultural oppression in Iran and taboos such as drug use," the paper said."

There is so much I could say.  If not for the seriousness of the punishment - hearing "90 lashes" is almost laughable in American culture.  I can NOT imagine living in a country that gives people "90 lashes" for appearing in a movie.  In our culture, we celebrate people appearing in movies - its a good thing - not a bad thing.  (Well most movies - but your appearance in ANY movie would not result in "lashes")

It also breaks my heart because the very real issue here is this talented women is about to be beat, if she hasn't been already.  Beaten for questioning a culture that degrades and destroys women.  Beaten for trying to make the world aware.  I just don't understand it.  It's so wrong.

I know there is no chance this women would ever read my blog - but if there are others like her that are reading it - know I am praying for you.  Praying for your strength, praying for courage.  Praying for boldness.  Praying for change in your country.  Praying for a day the value of women will be celebrated in Iran.  Praying for the day you will see your worth in Jesus Christ.

There's really not much else to say.  I'm sorry Marzieh for what has happened.  I'm sure you knew ahead of time the possible consequences.  Good for you for standing anyway.  Keep up the good work.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Why you should send your kid on a missions trip


Our daughter began taking missions trips at the age of 14.  Out of country.  I hear this statement a lot:  " I would NEVER let my kid do that!  How did you do it??"

When Elyse came home telling us God had told her to take a missions trip out of country - my response was this:  "Well - must be nice - but God didn't tell me that."  Then my wise husband said "don't you think we ought to at least PRAY about it honey?"  Hmm.  Really honey?  PRAY about a MISSIONS trip? What a foreign concept ;)

Most of you have heard the story of how it came to be - but since that time, Elyse has been to 8 countries.  She has been on trips for as short as a week and as long as 2 months.  She can handle airport security and border crossings better than I can.  She is now at North Central University studying to become a full time missionary.

The biggest potential mistake I could have made as a parent boils down to that one decision.  I kid you not.  Telling her no could have changed the course of her life.  My fear could have prevented my daughter, at least for a time, from becoming all God called her to be.

When we were contemplating sending our 14 year old daughter half way around the world, a wise friend said this to me:

I will never stand in the way of what God wants to do in the lives of my children.

I have never forgotten those words.  It was those words that held me together when I dropped my daughter off at the airport, sent her to Dallas, TX for training, helped me as the people who were supposed to pick her up at the airport didn't show and I was 1500 miles away, watched the plane tracker track her flight across oceans, time zones, continents.  It was those words that kept me strong when she came to me time and time again and said "now God is telling me to go here or there".  It was those words that bounced off the back of my brain when she informed me God was calling her to full time missions in a place you can't legally be a missionary.  It will be those words that I cling to the day her dreams come true and she lands on the foreign soil she's been preparing for since the age of 14.

Now it's time for number 2 to begin his missionary journey.  Next summer, he'll head to Guatemala with us and Lord willing, if the youth group goes, to Haiti.  I don't know where God will take him from there - but I know sending our children on missions trips has been the best decision we could have made in our lives.

There are many reasons to send your kid on a missions trip - let me just give you a few.

First, and most importantly, in Mark 16:15, Jesus tells his disciples (msg) "Go into the world.  Go everywhere and announce the message of God's good news to one and all."  Don't you like to hear good news?  Isn't good news the best?  Jesus tells us - not just people over 20 or over 30 or whatever - but he tells ALL of us - young and old - to GO.  Go and tell.  Go into ALL the world - EVERYWHERE.  We let them go - because Jesus commanded it.  Plain and simple. 

Second - it breaks their heart.  Maybe this sounds like a BAD reason and not a good one - yet - sometimes when our hearts are broken, we are the most pliable in God's hands.  There is something almost magical (not magical - don't jump all over me!) about missions trips.  Something about going and doing what God has commanded - stepping out in faith - that opens us up to God even more.  Something about going and being used by Him that draws us closer to His feet.  Isn't that what you want for your child?  To sit longer, gaze harder, into the eyes of Jesus?

Third - it gives them a broader perspective.  It opens their eyes to all of God's creation.  It teaches them how to eat foods they would have otherwise turned their nose up to.  It helps them to learn to trust in God for finances to go.  It shows them how to love all people regardless of race, color or creed.  It gets them out of the box of their local environment.  Again - everyone needs to hear the gospel - maybe YOUR child is the one God has called to give it to someone.  Have you thought about that?  That God has prepared your child to be the one to give the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ?  That maybe your child is the perfect one, with the perfect words, to open someones eyes to all Jesus has done for them?  Your child is called!  Let them go and preach the good news!

Fourth - it makes them thankful.  Thankful for their beds, thankful for the food on their table, thankful for their parents, thankful for their countries.  Thankful.  Lord knows we can all use a more thankful kid!! 

Finally - you never know what God is doing in their lives, in their hearts - for their futures.  You never know what sending your child on a missions trip will do.  Maybe, like Elyse, they will want to pursue a life as a full time missionary.  Maybe they see the need for shelter for people in a foreign country and go on to become carpenters that go and build homes.  Maybe they see how education could help keep people from poverty so they become a teacher.  Maybe they fall in love with an orphan and go open an orphanage or adopt a child here in America.  Maybe they see a need and will grow up with the financial means to give.  You don't know - but God does.  Don't block that for them - allow them to go.

I know this has been a long one and thank you for listening.  If your child ever comes and asks you to go - send them.  Yes, of course, check and check well into the organization they are going with.  And yes - it was very hard - very, very hard.  It's not easy raising the money, it's not easy putting them on the plane, it's not fun to worry.  You'll cry - a lot.  Yet - it's not about you - it's about what God wants to do in and through your child.  Don't let your fear stand in the way of what God has for them.

On the menu



Yesterday I arrived back home after visiting my Mom for a few days.  4 days of not being home = much catching up to do!  Although, I have to give a shout out to my incredibly good lookin' man because I came home with all laundry folded and put away - AND a clean kitchen sink!  WOO HOO!  What a MAN :) (That's right ladies - a REAL MAN cleans!!) So much nicer to not have to deal with all THAT before I start dealing with normal Monday/post-pay check stuff!!  Thanks babe - I'm a lucky girl to have you :)

A few things to share about this weeks meal planning.  First - the sales this week were not great.  Last shopping trip, lots of bargains - this week - no can do.  It ran me 281.00 which is about 30.00 higher than I like to spend.  To add to that, I needed to send a package out to my college girl which cost me another 20.00 meaning I am at budget for the next 2 weeks.  That's not good considering we have several needed days of eating out (Special Olympics state finals, trip to Chicago to pick up our girl, Marty and Jon are attending Hunters Safety next weekend, and we'd like to take Elyse and her roomie out for Mexican when they come home).  It totals about 5 meals out which, if eating at fast food, means about 60-80 for the three of us and another 70.00 or so for Mexican out w/ everyone.   That's going to need to come from somewhere so I'll need to take a look at the budget and figure out where I can squeeze that from.

I moved some things forward from the last time - meals we didn't end up eating.  I was hoping that would save us some cash flow - but nope, it didn't.  Not this time.  One item to note - I try to do the majority of my shopping at Kroger.  It's the closest to me, the least expensive closest to me - AND every 1.00 I spend, I get a reward point.  100 reward points = .10 off per gallon of gas.  This week I spent 281.00 so that means 281 reward points which will mean .20 off per gallon of gas on my next fill up.  That's worth it when your filling a blazer!

And finally - the list.  I'll come back in here tonight and add the links to the recipes.  Hope this will give you some ideas for your next shopping trip!

Breakfast (normally just cereal, oatmeal or eggs - but Elyse is bringing her roomie home from college and she said she misses home cooked meals - so I'm going all out!)
Amish Casserole
Clone of a Cinnabon Cinnamon Roles (THE BEST EVER!!)

Lunch
Leftover chili
BLT'S & chips
Salad Bar (this is a great idea - I chop up everything I can think of you might find on a salad bar:  onions, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, bacon bits, sunflower seeds, beets, cukes, peppers, cranraisins, croutons - you name it, I throw it on there.  Then I lay it all out on the counter and everyone gets to grab their own items to create their own salads.  We do this A LOT for lunch in the summer especially.  When finished, I put every item back in the fridge in little containers and everyone can make their own salad at any time!) & leftovers

Dinner
Barbecued Beef
Spaghetti/Garlic Bread/Salad
Chicken Enchiladas
Baked Teriyaki Chicken
Chili
Lasagna
Leftovers

Snacks
Dump Cake
Apple Crisp
Popcorn
Oreo Cookies
Apple Butter & Pumpkin Bread
Snickerdoodles
Biscuits & Strawberries
Banana Pudding





Sunday, October 9, 2011

Just Shoot Me Day 8

Some more fall pics from my parent's property. 


“How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.”
John Burroughs























Just Shoot Me Day 7

Today I convinced my Mom to take some pics so we headed over to a park and I got some good shots of my Mom.  I don't know how much she enjoyed the experience - but I think I'll be forever glad for our day in the park :)

If you have a mom, there is nowhere you are likely to go where a prayer has not already been.  ~Robert Brault











Just Shoot Me Day 6

As I said previously, I went up to visit my Mom for a few days.  They live on a beautiful property with great places to walk.  Here's a few pics I took on the first walk.  There will be more to come in future days, it's just that pretty :)

I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air.
Nathaniel Hawthorne













Just shoot me Day 5

Okay - so I have LOTS of catching up to do!  Sorry folks - didn't want to post it here previously, but went up to surprise my Mom and visit her for a few days.  SO - on that note - we have major catching up to do on the 31 days!

For Day 5 of Just Shoot Me, I have some pics of our crazy dogs. 


Dogs have given us their absolute all.  We are the center of their universe.  We are the focus of their love and faith and trust.  They serve us in return for scraps.  It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.  ~Roger Caras

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Just Shoot Me Day 4

Playing catch up here a bit as I jumped in on the 31 days a little late.  So - here are some pics I took yesterday.  I'm not going to have any pics for days 2 and 3 - sorry - didn't happen to take any pics those days.  

First up we have some beautiful flowers my Special Olympics team gave me for my birthday.  Aren't they beautiful??  AND in my favorite color!  Thanks guys :)



Next and final we have one of our neighbors trees in full color bloom!  It's BEAUTIFUL.  I went for a drive yesterday to try to locate more and was not able to find any.  Thank you friendly neighbor for having a beautiful tree we can look at!!




31 Days

I decided to jump on the 31 days bandwagon.  I've been thinking for a while of posting a picture every day - but I was too lazy.  I figure this is a perfect opportunity to do it.

Before I give you all the details - I have to share this blog button with you.  HILARIOUS.  I asked my friend DaNella (click and read - you won't regret it!) to make one for me and she came back with this.  I love her sense of humor.  So here's the button - read on for the details :)



Love it!  Thanks DaNella!!

Okay - moving on to the details.  For every day in October, you share something on your topic.  Mine, of course, is photography.  Basically I'll try to take a picture every day of the world around me, the people I love, whatever and share it with you.

Here's where I'm hooking up to the linky party type of thing:


AND - finally - last but not least - you will find ALL POSTS related to this topic under the category "Just shoot me"  on the RIGHT HAND SIDE of this blog.  I'm not exactly sure how to keep this thing rolling to the newest post - so bear with my lack of techny knowledge here.  If you know how - let me know and I will fix it.

Just Shoot Me Day Four (starting day - you won't find any earlier)

If you want to join up with 31 days of whatever - click on the Nesting Place and join in on the fun!
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