Sunday, October 4, 2015

#TealPumpkinProject... *


Image result for teal pumpkin
Hello to October friends! I love sweater weather. This is one of my favorite seasons. Well, if I really let myself think on it, it is probably my all-time favorite time of the year.

Who doesn't love the cool, crisp air.... the smell of the leaves as they turn color and eventually fall to the ground? The sight of pumpkins carved into unique jack o'lanterns, hay rides, sweater weather!

Image result for october pictures

My favorite thing about this time of year is my Pumpkin Spice Candle. It is currently burning in my living room and the entire area smells like fresh baked pumpkin pie or possibly a yummy pumpkin roll.

Image result for pumpkin pie
Image result for pumpkin pie and pumpkin roll

This year for Halloween, I have a challenge for you. I don't know if any of you have heard about this before, but it is called the #TealPumpkinProject where you display a Teal colored pumpkin in an obvious place and hand out non-edible treats, instead of candy.

Image result for teal pumpkin project
There are so many children who have food allergies and they aren't going to be able to read labels or really know if the candy they are receiving is going to be safe for them. Please consider handing out glow sticks, stickers, Dollar Tree toys, or other things this year. Where there are Teal pumpkins on display, the families know that it is a safe place for their children to go. No one wants to be left out of the festivities, especially children.

I hope to see lots of Teal Pumpkin pictures on FaceBook and Instagram. Please share about this project and tell your friends to share!

Here is a link to the FARE website for more information.

*The TEAL PUMPKIN PROJECT and the Teal Pumpkin Image are trademarks of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).

God Bless and have a great October friends!

Monday, August 24, 2015

As Summer Draws to an End, School Begins...Again

Has it really been since March since I last posted anything?! Wow. This Spring and Summer have been on the crappy side. I'll catch you up here and then hopefully as we get into the School Routine, I'll be able to post more regularly again.

We had planned a Road Trip out west to see the Grand Canyon this year for our vacation. But as fate would have it, we needed to replace our Grand Caravan which had a failing transmission. We found an insanely-awesome deal on a 2014 Jeep Patriot. Vehicle taken care of! Boys getting along in the vehicle ultimately caused us to cancel these plans and scramble to find a beach house if we could, in the OBX. This cancellation ended up being a blessing, so to speak so we were home when we got the phone call.

On June 11, My husband's cell phone rang and we were told that his father had had a stroke. He was in the hospital with the right side of his body having been effected. He was losing the ability to speak and mainly speaks gibberish. He's been through the Rehab Facility and has been moved to a Nursing Home. He is at the point in his rehab where he is able to go outside in a wheelchair and I'm told that today he even wheeled himself - one handed - down to the lunch room. This is big news! He is also able to have family members "sign him out" and take him to their home if they should choose to do so, but the strength that is needed may be the ultimate decision maker. I'm sure that my father-in-law would love to get out the the Nursing Home but I honestly do not know if that will happen as of yet.

Jeremy had 5 teeth, mainly adult teeth, surgically removed and then had braces put on. He takes after his daddy and has crowding so the teeth were a necessary removal. He has been doing remarkably well considering dealing with pain is not a strength of his. The surgery-recovery did not go well as he spent the entire day and most of the night physically ill and bleeding.

Trevor had an expander installed to expand his upper jaw line since he has severe crowding and his jaw overall is too small. One front tooth was on a 45 degree angle and the other was set back as if it was in a second row, like a shark. Jeremy and Trevor both had this done at the beginning of July and I am happy to report that already Trevor's twisted tooth is straight and the one that was set too far back is in line with where it should be. He now has the wire put in for his upper braces (only) to pull the teeth into position. As he gets older the bottom teeth will also be having braces. Even though he has quite the mouthful of baby teeth, the braces were necessary due to the tooth that was set back too far. The enamel was going to be worn off and the tooth itself would have been damaged because of it's position in the mouth.

We had begun work on remodeling the family room, which was too large a space for the majority of the year at the end of Spring, I believe. I could have that wrong though. Either way, we now have a 4th bedroom downstairs. That is the new Master Bedroom. Jeremy will be moving into our old room once we get it cleaned out and painted, for which he is anxious to have completed. Trevor will be moving into Jeremy's current bedroom once that is cleaned out and painted as well. He is excited because his current room has the attic access and therefore, no ceiling fan, and the smallest room. Trevor's current room will be an office/play room/library. I think it will be anyway.

The 2015-2016 school year begins on Wednesday, August 26th.  This year we have Trevor's pencil box filled and in his new backpack, ready for 3rd grade. No debacle like last year where I had forgotten about it and was not prepared at all, so he only had his filled pencil box on the second day of school. Both boys have chosen the Messenger bag backpack style and are excited. They are not however excited about actually going to school. They are looking forward to seeing friends, eating lunch at school, recess and that is all. We do not know who Trevor's classmates are yet and will find out on Wednesday. Jeremy, however, is in class with Xander and Connor. This is the first year since Kindergarten that the three of them have been in class together. They are now in 5th grade.

In other news, we've been relatively healthy, aside from the normal, little summer colds. We did get to the OBX (Outer Banks, NC) for a week and just got back yesterday afternoon. The house we rented was in Avon. Mariner's Rest is the name of the house and it is on the canal and overlooks the Sound. We spent the week at the beach, on the Sound, crabbing, laughing, eating ice cream, watching movies and sunsets, more crabbing, having a beach fire and looking for shooting stars and Ghost Crabs, dodging skeeters (they are nasty little night buggers this year) had more ice cream and crabbed again. It is always bittersweet to come home again. Once I am home, I like being home, but would still rather be at the beach. Everything just seems better at the OBX. Joel does not mind when the vacation is over and is happy to be home. This year, this morning in fact, I realized how poorly lit our house is. The house is not situated at the right angle to properly light the house up with natural sunlight. But it is home, and I am happy.

I hope you all had a wonderful and less eventful summer than we did. Or at least a happier eventful summer.

God Bless and Lots of Love,

Monday, March 30, 2015

Easter... The REAL DEAL

Straight from the Bible for Easter. Keeping it true, keeping it real and keeping it simple. I was thinking of writing my own post, but thought, why not just go to the source? You cannot get better than that. Read it, really take your time and read it. Put yourself in place of some of the people in the story and let yourself feel what they feel. Put yourself in Jesus' place and feel what He went through.

The Easter Story
Crucifixion and Resurrection
Matthew 27-28:15

27 Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.
When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”
So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10 and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”[a]

11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer.13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.
15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus[b] Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.
19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.
“Barabbas,” they answered.
22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.
They all answered, “Crucify him!”
23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”
26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews.

38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days,save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him.42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land.46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[c] lemasabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[d]

47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar,put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[e] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph,[f] and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tombthat he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”  “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stoneand posting the guard.

28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdaleneand the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee.There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them,“Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

Easter is so much more than candy, chocolates, bunnies, eggs and the commercialized holiday. Easter means so much more. Easter means life. Easter demonstrates love to the max! Please, take the time to remember this as you go about your day. It is the TRUE reason that we have Easter. 

Have a great week and holiday weekend. God bless!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Broken Vase... Part Two

Ok, we left off yesterday with being shattered, lying scattered on the ground. Now that feels hopeless. "Will there be anyone to pick up the pieces of me, who can tenderly put me back together again?"

The people who we all resent, ridicule or just feel jealous of do not really have it all. They spend so much time keeping up their facade, that they don't have time for anything else. They put so much energy into hiding their true selves that they don't have the stamina to do more than just slap on a band-aid. They don't have time for true relationships so the settle for being mere acquaintances and thinking that it is true friendship. They most certainly don't have time for God. They don't realize or have the time to think about the fact that God is the ultimate helper. He can bring back the joy, the love, the energy that these people have lost and cannot seem to find. God is not a temporary fix!

John 14:16 
"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever..."

Yesterday I asked about what happens to that shattered, scattered vase when no one takes the time to fix them. What are your thoughts?

A better question is, what happens when someone is able to follow that nearly invisible trail of ceramic pieces and gathers them, taking the time to lovingly and carefully put the vase back together again?

The vase, while not necessarily complete but is whole. The vase is put together again, possibly missing some pieces, but created new.

Jeremiah 18:2-5
“Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

The vase bears the scars from life. There is a certain beauty in the scars. While the scars themselves are may not have physical beauty - I know you think I am ridiculous. "How are these horrendous scars beautiful?! You are nuts!" You are partly right. I can be nuts at times, but bear with me.

While the scars themselves may not be physically beautiful but the meaning of those scars is. Those scars represent survival. They represent an overcoming. No matter what you are going through, the hands that we are dealt leaves its mark on us. Each mark is a scar, no matter the size and depth. These scars are your reminder that you have overcome what life tried to drop you with. 

John 16:33 

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

We are not the only ones with scars. We're not the only ones who have overcome something that probably by all rights should have dropped us. Jesus is the man in the verse who overcame the world. The most amazing thing is, Jesus is just waiting to gather up those pieces and put our broken vases back together again. 

Jesus was beaten, insulted, spit on. He was killed on a cross. He had a twisted vine with thorns pushed deep onto his head as a crown.

Mark 14:65
"They all condemned him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him."

Matthew 27:26
"...But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified."

Matthew 27:39
"Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads... "

Luke 22:63
"The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. 64 They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” 65 And they said many other insulting things to him."

John 19:1-3
"Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face."

Jesus was crucified, had nails in his wrists and feet to hold him onto the tall, wooden cross. If you ever doubt that he was seriously tortured, read up on exactly what a crucifixion is. It will knock your socks off to know what Jesus volunteered to suffer for us. He allowed it to happen. Sure, being the Son of God, he could have easily saved himself but he didn't. God loves us so much that he sent his own son, Jesus, to take our place on the cross. 

If THAT is not love, I will never know what is.

He is longing to wrap you in his arms, put you back together and comfort you. There are people in your life right now that God has strategically put there to help you. They are just waiting for you to acknowledge them and let them know that you need help. 

Our broken pieces cry out to God for help, even if we do not realize it. It usually takes us hitting rock bottom to  make us see that we need help. It doesn't have to be this way. 

I'm sure that there are many times when you feel so unloved and unlovable, unworthy that you wonder why you are even alive. You are alive because He created you. He loves you so completely that his own son took your place - my place - on that cross. God has never left your side. Whatever you've been through, in the midst of it all, He has been there with you. You were so blinded by your struggles that you missed seeing Him, feeling His presence. 

God has always loved you and always will. Nothing will change that. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. He loves you, broken scars and all.

Read John 19 for more of Jesus' crucifixion story.  The Bible is filled with stories of broken people, changed by God, used in a variety of ways to do His work. Moses was used by God. Have you heard of him? Moses was inelegant of speech and stuttered. He also rescued the Israelites and brought them out of Egypt. David - King David - the former shepherd who took down a giant - he was an adulterer. Many, many others stories are in the Bible. Did you know that a prostitute rescued God's men from certain death? It's true, but also a completely different post.

If you'd like to know more, let me know! I have a Bible at hand, great ability for researching and reasoning and completely awesome hearing.

God's blessing to you my friends.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Broken Vase, a metaphor.... Part One

Wow, has it been forever since I last wrote a blog post! Quick update: school is going well for both boys, fighting the normal colds that come with the Winter season and we're still a happy family! Woohoo!

That said, let's get started!

First off, you start life off as a vase, in perfect condition. (I got this idea from a book cover, but cannot recall the title or author. I'll give credit when and if I ever come across it again!)

Somewhere - sometime - in your life the perfect vase that you used to be, was broken. Life is rough and there are no guarantees that it will be perfect, or even good for that matter.

Life is guaranteed to be tough. It is meant to be. We each go through trials - those sometimes pesky, little rough patches or those deep pits that we may fall into. Each little rough patch causes our smooth surfaces to crack, to chip away in places. Each new trial causes them to get bigger and we begin losing pieces until finally...
We are completely broken, shattered on the ground. It feels as if every single piece of ourselves is left scattered. We feel so alone and scared. We feel as if nothing can possibly pick up our broken pieces and put us back in some semblance of ourselves.

God puts special people in our lives; they can mend us, heal us before we shatter if we allow them to. They can fix our chips and seal our cracks. The problem is that we can be so lost and alone that we have no clue that there are people willing, ready and able to help us! We can be too blinded by our pain, rejection and brokenness that we fail to see anyone. They may as well be invisible for all our self-absorption and self-pity. Speaking of alone.....

How many people are on this earth, right now? Do you know?

There are over 7 BILLION people breathing on this earth, right now!

Do you think that it is even remotely possible that there is NO ONE else who has a snibbet or an idea of the pain you are feeling? The feelings of being lost and alone, feeling rejected or whatever else you may be feeling? Chances are that you pass one person on the sidewalk, the streets, the aisles in the supermarket each day or week that knows how you feel. They may have gone through your trials, or some similar themselves. 

We are a private people when it comes to deep hurts. A lot of times we fear other's opinions of us, of how we live, how we act, how we view life. We fear their judgements.

NEWS FLASH: IT DOESN'T MATTER! Their opinions do not matter. Only two opinions really matter and that is your own opinion and God's. That is it. 

This is something that I deal with constantly. I have a fear of socializing. I am way too concerned and worried about those pesky opinions and can be so blinded by my fears that I don't always see people's true reactions and feelings for me. It isn't easy and it is always a struggle. 

My fear comes from my experiences in life. Rejection by people I cared about, stinging and false (!) accusations against me, losing friends through accidents.... They all take their toll on our whole beings. I've been physically beaten down repeatedly and even worse, I let it happen. 

It takes a lot for me to put my trust in others for these reasons. If you are a close friend of mine, consider yourself to have my complete trust and loyalty. It is not lightly given by any means!

Okay, back to the matter at hand.... 

Some people seem to have kept their vase spotless and unbroken, as they skip through what we view as the "Fairy Tale Trail of Life." Their lives seem perfect. Their relationships seem perfect. They must never have had to struggle or fight for anything in their lives, we think. They have everything - a nice, big house, a new car, a gargantuan group of close friends, even an overflowing bank account. (Are we judging? Yes.) 

Look closer. Is that.... is that a crack I see? Maybe it is just the light. Look again. They have chips, cracks; they possibly have even been painted over. 

They think, "These cracks must be hidden, tucked away! No one can see them!"  
"What will people think if they see me imperfect?" 

They are empty, just like we are. Lost. Lonely. They have become masters as hiding their blemishes and brokenness behind their perfectly painted masks. If you look really, really closely, you can just barely see the hairline fractures and carefully covered chips. 

We are all fragile vases. We all have chips, cracks, even some holes here and there. It is okay! Some of have shattered, some are just one tiny ding away from completely shattering. Perfection is just an illusion, a disheartening facade really. We can easily find ways to pretend, but someone will always see through to the bitter, broken shell.

There are even more people who just seem to never catch a break. They go from struggle to struggle to struggle, seemingly without breaks. They manage to climb out of the sinkhole only to find themselves tumbling right back in. Their vases are barely held together with string and sticky tape and everywhere they go, their teeny pieces of themselves are left behind; a trail of chips and dings. 

To certain people, when the light is just right, the special people that God has put in our lives will see this nearly invisible trail and follow it. They gather up the pieces. 

Will you see them, or will you be blinded by your own struggles and continue to battle alone?

The choice is your own. What happens to a shattered vase, when no one steps in to fix it? It is just pieces of a once beautiful vase that now lies in pieces. We are a lonely, empty pile of ceramic. You can put a band-aid on it, or find a more permanent solution. 

Read Jeremiah 18:2-6. I'll be back with more soon. Can the vase ever be fixed?

God's blessings, my friends.

Jeremiah 18:2-3
“Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel...'