Wednesday, January 28, 2015
This post is part of the Choosing Him Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with nearly one hundred other inspiring Christian bloggers. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! I received a free PDF copy of this book for review purposes, but all opinions are my own.
Juana Mikel's new book Choosing Him All Over Again: A Story of Romance and Redemption tells about her marriage journey with husband Terry. From Juana's early days of dissatisfaction leading to their separation, to Juana's accepting Jesus Christ, to Terry's not wanting her back, and finally her and Terry coming to reconciliation and a mutual faith. The book was easy to read, and Juana seems like a caring and genuine person. I enjoyed her story, and I also enjoyed her tips on marriage at the end of the book. The 11 Checkpoints To Refresh Your Marriage is an invaluable list of little things you should do every day that I want to print out and laminate. Things like giving a gift-tangibly or in deed, making him laugh, and praying for him daily.
Before my husband and I were even dating, God gave me a verse to keep in my heart. "Unless the Lord builds the house, it's workers toil in vain." (Psalm 127:1) I've found that the most difficult seasons of our marriage (we'll be celebrating 10 years in July) were the times we weren't spiritually connected. Knowing this, I try to pray for my husband every day, and I love the appendix at the back of Choosing Him that includes prayers and ideas for prayers you can use to lift your husband up. I loved the idea of praying one specific topic for my husband every day. (Praying for his leadership on Wednesdays and his protection on Saturdays, for example.) We can all stand to pray more, especially for our marriages, which unfortunately, seem to be the first thing we take for granted. Choosing Him All Over Again gave me the reminder and encouragement that marriage takes work, and if you become too complacent, too selfish, or don't keep God in the center of your relationship, it stops being the joy that God intended it to be.
Juana Mikels wrote her own story of how God saved her marriage along with practical teaching on faith and marriage written out of her own failure, pointing us all to Jesus Christ who has the power to change lives and marriages. You can get a copy here HERE or on Kindle HERE.
Monday, January 26, 2015
Thinking back on the date September 12, 2012 stirs many deep feelings inside of me. It was our D-Day...Diagnosis Day. The day my baby boy was diagnosed as being profoundly deaf. The day my life as I had known before ended, and the day a new life, one as the parent of a child with special needs began.
I see myself sitting in that little room alone with only my baby and the doctor who broke the news. I was scared, sad, and lost. I didn't know where to go, what to do, how to think, or why. Why him. Why my baby? Why me?
Now, almost two and a half years later, and after another diagnosis of sensory integration disorder, I wish I could tap myself on the shoulder and whisper to myself a few secrets about the future. A few little secrets that would have lifted my downcast head and dried the tears upon my cheeks. Secrets that would have given pause to my fears and replaced them with little glimmers of hope and tiny inklings of wonder. If only I could have seen then what I see now, this is what I would have told myself that day:
"You may not be able to heal him, but he will heal you."
He will heal you of your flawed definitions of "perfection" and "normal". There is no such thing as normal, and perfection is the love, innocence and joy he exudes. He will heal your desire to control life, and remind you of the importance of faith. He will heal your selfishness and replace it with compassion and empathy.
"You will meet amazing people along the way; people you could not imagine a life without."
The doctors, specialists and therapists you connect with will make an impact that lasts a lifetime. You will forge deep bonds with other parents who are going through similar issues, and they will be a built-in support system you come to rely on.
"You will learn about unconditional love."
We all long to be loved and accepted no matter what we do or who we are, and your child is no different. He cannot do anything to earn your love, in fact, he will bring a lot of challenges you didn't expect, yet you will love him more than anything. Likewise, he will see you in your most exhausted, frustrated moments, and still, he will be your biggest fan.
"You'll be part of a miracle every day."
After Junior gets his cochlear implants, you will see a miracle every single day. Tears--happy, happy ones--will sting your eyes when he hears you whisper "I love you" and whispers "uh lub oo" back. You will call to him from downstairs and he will run out of his bedroom, wondering what you want. You will ask him to hand you his plate and he will. He will try to sing along at church, he will ask you for more apple juice, he will bob his head when the radio is on. He will always be deaf, and yet he will hear you. And you will never, ever take that for granted.
"You will get the encouragement to keep going when you need it most."
There will be days where you're tired and sore about your circumstances, but you will also come to rely on the little breezes that give you rest and encouragement. Just when you feel ready to give up, something will happen to keep you going. You will meet another parent further down this path that can give you a glimpse of good things to come, someone will send you an encouraging article or quote, or your child will do something to remind you that it's all okay. It's all worth it.
"You would not change him."
Yes, there are many parts about his deafness and sensory processing issues you will want to change. You will long for a good night's sleep (I might leave out the part where he's still not sleeping through the night at 2 years old.) You will be sad when people treat him different for no reason, you will get jealous of the parents who don't seem to work as hard as you do, and you will still ask "why". "Why" will never end. But, you will also come to a beautiful place where you accept every part of who he is, and realize that all those parts make up the perfect little boy that you love.
I know you can't imagine what this path is going to hold. God created this path for you...you'll never know why, but you'll take great comfort in knowing it didn't just happen...you were made for this. It will be a trek, but always remember this: the higher the mountain, the more incredible the views. And from here, the view is pretty good. You've come a long way. Sure, there are some other, higher mountains in the distance, but a future me will have to share those secrets later. I'm sure the view will be even better.
Saturday, January 24, 2015
So, it's no secret that I'm in love with dollar store cookie sheets. You can make all sorts of cool things, like this project, and this one (one of my most popular posts ever), and they're only a dollar meaning you can buy 2 or 4 or 17. They're also magnetic, which is great fun. (It's no surprise that magnets are one of my favorite things in the world, seeing as how Junior has one implanted in his head.)
Like magnets, Velcro is just fun. It makes things stick without making them sticky. I have issues with sticky things. Ick.
My kids love playing with blocks and making designs, and I knew there had to be a way to make blocks portable. We're in the car a lot, and Junior's been watching way too much Curious George on the DVD player. In an effort to get the theme song out of my head, and to keep him more actively engaged during car rides, I decided to take on the challenge of making blocks portable.
I ordered 15 feet of Velcro Stripsfrom Amazon (affiliate link), and also purchased some Velcro dots from an office supply store. I ended up using both the dots and strips...more on that below, but you really only need the strips.
- Velcro Strips(affiliate link)
- Wooden Pattern Blocks
OR Plastic Pattern Blocks(affiliate links)
- Cookie Sheet (I love getting these from the Dollar Store!)
First, measure out the length of the cookie sheet, and cut Velcro strips (you can use either side of the Velcro, but I did the pokier side for the board and the softer side for the blocks) to that length. Carefully attach the Velcro to the cookie sheet in one layer, making sure not to overlap the strips.
Once you've covered the cookie sheet with Velcro, get out the blocks you want to use. I used a variety of all the shapes. Probably about 40 in all. Take the opposite texture from the Velcro you used on the board (if you used the spikier side on the board, use the soft side for the blocks. If you used the soft side on the board, use the spikier side for the blocks.)
I used the strips on the board, and started using the dots on the blocks. But, I found they didn't stick as well, so I finished up using a little of the strips for each block. The strips seemed to stick better, but the Velcro itself didn't stick to the blocks as well because I had to pull so hard to get the blocks off. Tater said she preferred the dots better because they were easier to use. It's your preference.
Once the Velcro is attached to the blocks, you're done! Store the blocks in a plastic bag, and make sure to keep the board clean, otherwise it won't stick as effectively.
I'm excited to add this to my Road Trip Must Haves for our next trip!
I'm linking up at Tater Tots and Jello and Flamingo Toes
Monday, January 19, 2015
My sister throws an awesome Super Bowl Party every year. There's always a ridiculous amount of food. Good, good food, not boring food. She's the best hostess.
I made this appetizer over the weekend, and it will be my contribution to Super Bowl from now on.
Okay people, might want to get out a pencil to write down all the ingredients. Ready?
*12 oz bag lil' Smokies or Trader Joes Mini Pups
*2 C BBQ Sauce (your favorite variety...I used Trader Joes Sriracha and Roasted Garlic...I recommend it!)
Ok, did you get all that? You're thinking, "Wait, 2 ingredients? That's it? How can something be amazing with only two ingredients?" Well, trust me. Something amazing happens when you heat the Mini Pups with the Sriracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce. It creates some kind of chemical reaction of deliciousness. Just doooooo it.
So, there's a quick way to do this recipe, and a longer way. You can decide. You can either heat the Pups with the BBQ sauce on the stovetop over medium heat until heated through, about 5 minutes, or you can throw everything into your crock pot on low for 3-4 hours until hot. The crock pot is nice because you can keep it on warm and people can help themselves over the course of the game. Either way, there probably won't be leftovers, and people might just start inviting you to every party. With great power (in this case, recipes), comes great responsibility!
Sally Clarkson is the kind of woman I would love to sit and chat with someday. She seems like such a gentle, encouraging woman with a real heart for the souls of others. Well-known in the Christian book and homeschooling world, Sally Clarkson's new book, Own Your Life: Living with deep intention, bold faith, and generous love, promised to be a thought provoking read.
Own Your Life is divided into 5 Parts, then into Chapters pertaining each part.
The Parts topics are:
"Barriers to Owning Your Life: Don't Settle for a Mediocre Life"
"Owning Your Vision: Mapping Your Life Purpose"
"Owning Your Life by Giving God Control: What Only He Can Do"
"Owning Your Life By Partnering With God: Attitudes and Actions that Transform"
"Owning Your Life By Loving Well: Create a Lasting Legacy".
There are several chapters in each part that break down how you you can apply each topic to your quest for living a more intentional, purposeful life.
At the end of each chapter, there is a section entitled "Own Your Part", which gives summarizing study questions, Bible verses to meditate on, and a prayer. I liked the organization of the book, but I wish there was reference to the Part or Chapter at the top of each page so I could go back and reference later.
There were several main ideas that permeated this book, and if I had to use several phrases to describe everything I read, they would be: "the greatest legacy in life is the legacy of love", "God calls us to rest in Him", and "minister to each person where they are with a wholehearted approach". I was encouraged by this wholehearted approach, as I realize often I live my days just checking off boxes, and looking on to the next thing when I should be finding the joy and rest in each and every day, and investing as much as I can into my children's spiritual and emotional growth, since they will remember sweet moments together much more than a spotless house or endless toys.
This was an encouraging book, and it gave many good reminders. There was nothing earth shatteringly new or different, but I enjoyed it.
Thank you to Tyndale for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Hi, my name is Sara, and I'm addicted to crayons.
Two years ago, my mother gifted me a 64-pack of Crayola crayons in my stocking. I still hoard them in my dresser, don't allow my children to touch them, and open them to smell their crayon-y goodness after a long day. Few things in this world are as pure and delightful as a box of brand new pointy crayons. Who wants to give me an "amen sister"?
Okay, so now that we've established that I have an unnatural love for school supplies, I'm going to show you how to make your own homemade heart shaped crayons. Because it's Valentine's Day. Who doesn't want heart shaped crayons for Valentine's Day?? And, they're super duper easy.
You only need two things. A heart shaped silicone mold and crayons. The heart shaped mold was at Michael's for $9.99, but I found a 50% off coupon, so it was only $4.99. The crayon bag is filled with all the broken/partially melted/restaurant freebie/Dollar Store crayons I hold onto for this very reason.
First thing you want to do is heat your oven to 325 degrees. Then, sort out your crayons. For this project, I used all shades of red, pink, purple, and white.
Next, you have to get those pesky little papers off. Either you can be smart and use a knife to slice the papers off, or you can be like me. It's possible I have purple crayon permanently lodged under my fingernail. It was a labor of love. How fitting.
Once all the pesky papers are off, snap your crayons into pieces and place inside the molds randomly.
Now comes the glitter. Glitter, glitter everywhere, on my floor and in my hair. True Story. Sprinkle your desired color (or colors) onto the broken crayon pieces. Tater chose the glitter, and she chose pink, purple, silver, white, and red.
Now, it's time to melt these babies! Stick them into the 325 degree oven (put the mold on a cookie sheet so it doesn't bend on the rack and give you uneven crayons), and allow to melt, about 15 minutes.
After about 15 minutes, they'll look like this...hot liquid.
Pull the cookie sheet with the mold on top out of the oven and let sit, undisturbed, until completely cool. This is crucial! Completely cooled I tell you...you can't rush love.
Or else you'll end up with a broken heart
So please, for the love of the crayons, don't release them from their heart shaped home until they're completely cooled. It should take about an hour.
Slip them out of the molds once cooled, and feel the love.
These are going to make a great Valentine's treat for Tater's friends. If she weren't homeschooled, I would totally make them for her class instead of giving candy. I'd tape them to pink card stock and write something witty like:
"I'm drawn to be your Valentine"
"I'm Cray-zy for you"
So, that's it. That's how you make crayons...Cray-zy easy, right? (Sorry, couldn't resist.) Think of the possibilities for other holidays (I have a Christmas tree mold for Christmas, and a Star mold for 4th of July), and inexpensive party favors...you may become a crayon addict too. Not that that's a bad thing, though...
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