Tuesday, June 30, 2009

(very funny email from Bestie Kim, who knows of my deep abiding love of margaritas. It never dawned on me that someone may think I wrote this but Jeff read it and thought I wrote it so now I'm putting this email disclaimer on here. Jeff says plagiarizing SPAM is nothing to mess around with . Oh Hot Jeff, you are so wise...)

Do you have feelings of inadequacy?
Do you suffer from shyness?
Do you sometimes wish you were more assertive?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist about Margaritas. Margaritas are the safe, natural way to feel better and more confident about yourself and your actions. Margaritas can help ease you out of your shyness and let you tell the world that you're ready and willing to do just about anything. You will notice the benefits of Margaritas almost immediately and with a regimen of regular doses you can overcome any obstacles that prevent you from living the life you want to live.

Shyness and awkwardness will be a thing of the past and you will discover many talents you never knew you had. Stop hiding and start living with Margaritas. Margaritas may not be right for everyone. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use Margaritas. However, women who wouldn't mind nursing or becoming pregnant are encouraged to try it.

Side effects may include: dizziness, nausea, vomiting, incarceration, erotic lustfulness, loss of motor control, loss of clothing, loss of money, loss of virginity, table dancing, headache, dehydration, dry mouth, and a desire to sing Karaoke.

WARNING: The consumption of Margaritas may make you think you are whispering when you are not.
WARNING: The consumption of Margaritas may cause you to tell your friends over and over again that you love them.
WARNING: The consumption of Margaritas may cause you to think you can sing.
WARNING: The consumption of Margaritas may make you think you can logically converse with members of the opposite sex without spitting.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Praying for Your Kids--The Practical Side

I'm in a wonderful Bible study with 3 dear friends and last week they shared that sometimes they have a hard time finding time praying for their kids. I totally understand this as I used to have a hard time also. Who wouldn't? We have these little rug rats running around all the time needing a clean diaper, a snack, a book read, a boo-boo kissed etc. Truthfully, I'm surprised we find the time to go to the bathroom (and who am I kidding, my kids totally follow me in...).

Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians to pray without ceasing so how does that translate in our busy days? First of all, I do think it is important for you to find at least 5 minutes for you and God each day. The more the better and each day can differ but try, every day, to have at least 5 minutes with God to listen to His voice.

Ok, so back to making this happen. Here's some practical ways to pray for your kids (and I'm talking about praying individually for a specific child in these examples):
  • As you prepare their meals
  • As you fold their laundry and/or put it away
  • During quiet, private moments alone with that child
  • At bedtime
  • In the car
  • In the shower

Friends, I'm not talking hour long prayers that fit a perfect formula. I'm talking about little prayers that get to the heart of the matter, short and sweet. Your Father knows your situation; He knows what your day looks like and He honors the energy you put into your husband, children and home. He longs for deliberate time with you (and it is so good for your soul) but these little prayers not only give your heart's desires to God but it keeps Him in the forefront of your mind while you're on the battle front all day.

Lastly, don't underestimate the power of praying FOR your kids in front of your kids! Your words have power. When you pray for them at night when they are all snuggled down in bed they are removed from distraction, they are focused on you and they are seeing you go to God with your greatest desires for your kids' lives. Samuel is fully aware of the man Jeff and I long for him to be because he hears us pray it every night. "God, please call Samuel to You at an early age so that he will know Your saving power early on. Please give him a kind heart so that other children are drawn to him and he can point to You even as a child. As a teenager I pray he will be strong in his convictions and firm in his faith. Finally, as a man I pray he will be Spirit led and live a life that glorifies You and builds Your kingdom." (FYI, I don't pray out loud with Emily every night. She's just too little still but she's not far off. I love thinking my kids will know I prayed for them since they were on my lap.)

So the prayer I just wrote out is just how I do it; you obviously have your own desires for your kids and you can pray them however and whenever you want; I just want to encourage you to pray for them out loud.

Now, back to these little prayers whispered throughout the day... when I'm cutting up an apple or a hot dog, "God, give Samuel and Emily patience today. Help them to love one another." As I'm putting M's pajamas on and getting her ready for bed, "Lord, pour Your Spirit out on Emily and fill her heart with kindness". When I'm helping Samuel put his shoes on, "Father, please help Samuel to love others".

Friends, I am not perfect (if you've been reading this blog for very long you know that) but am passionate about this topic. Maybe its because I am so imperfect that I am so dependent on God's grace but I know that in the end, these are His kids and I want to raise them with His guidance and grace. I also know this, praying for your kids will introduce a legacy of prayer in your home and there is nothing better than having your child come to you with a problem and then ask if you'll pray to God with him about it. That's good stuff my friends, really good stuff.

Drop me a note and let me know some of your ideas on practical ways to pray for your kids; I'd love to hear them and with permission share them with my readers.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Praying for Your Kids Monday-- Kindness

Kindness is trendy! How about that? There's a great website out there called Acts of Kindness but before it was on bumper stickers, God was modeling it and Paul was telling us to wear it like a garment. "Therefore as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12

Kindness is one of those fruits that is easy to put a mental picture to; when you talk to your kids about kindness its easy to model and its easy to talk about even at early ages. Kindness translates to sharing with a sibling, helping you carry groceries from the car, making sandwiches for the homeless ministry at your church, and helping out an elderly neighbor. It can even be as easy as speaking with kind words and a kind tone of voice.

2 Corinthians tells us that we are living letters: what does yours read? Are you modeling kindness for your kids?

God of amazing kindness, thank You for the matchless example You are to me and my children of kindness. I pray You will give __________ a kind heart and that he will desire to show kindness to those he meets. Through Your Spirit, I pray that he will grow to be a living letter of Your love, grace and kindness that points others to You. Amen.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Arthur Miller's Unfinished Play:
The Death of a Green Crayon

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Childhood Truths
by Samuel

There is no answer given that cannot be
followed up with, "Why?".

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Got My Fill on Strawberry Hill

Our future little Cambridge grad says, "Garden strawberries are
the species Fragaria from the family Rosaceae.
Oh, these buckets are so full, my muscles are so strained. Look how I'm squinting due to the weight of these insanely full buckets.

How exactly do they charge Mom for the pound of berries
I've eaten in the field?

Samuel is speechless. Let me translate:
loves strawberries so much it hurts.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Jen's Plants 0 Jen's Kids 3
Although difficult to see because of the shadow, my rose bushes are gone. I dug them up this weekend and sent them to a good home in Tualatin. These are the second and thirds plants I have had to dig up because of my kids and I'm less than amused by it.
The first was a luscious, happy, pink blooming escalonia that Jeff talked me into pulling because it attracted so many bees. A Little Tikes playhouse now sits in its place.
The latest casualties of the Hurricane Samily: rose bushes. The little geniuses and their little genius friends keep falling into them, riding their bikes into them, beating on them with plastic golf clubs... ugh.
Oh well, I guess its a small price to pay to be able to throw my kids outside while I watch the recorded episode of Conan O'Brien from the night before.
Don't even get me started on what they've done to my carpet inside of the house...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

PYKM-- Peace

I must admit, starting this series on the Fruit of the Spirit I never would have imagined this passage was so jammed pack with such good stuff. God is really teaching me a lot about characteristics I am lacking as I pray these qualities for my children. This week's topic, patience, is perhaps the most difficult to write about as it is the one I struggle with the most.

We live in a society that gives us everything we want right away. Watch TV for 30 minutes and almost all the commercials are bragging about the speed in which something is delivered. Our children are growing up in a "Your Way, Right Away" message being sent to them from all angles when in real life there will many times when they are called to wait.

Friends, we all want our kids to be patient with their siblings and their friends but the patience we're praying for this week goes so much deeper. There is so much on this topic I want to write about and I hope to get to it in my posts later this week but one thing I definitely want to touch on is the example of patience we have in Scripture. The Message states Exodus 34:6 like this:

God passed in front of him and called out, "God, God, a God of mercy and grace, endlessly patient—so much love, so deeply true—loyal in love for a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin.

"Endlessly patient". Wow. Can you imagine being endlessly patient? With your kids? With your husband? With people you come across with? Honestly, I can't. I can be pretty patient if I put my mind to it but endlessly? That is how our loving, gracious, matchless Father is with us: endlessly patient. If our children can catch a glimpse of that patience through us than I believe God will be pleased with us and the example we are trying to set. This week our prayer is for US and our kids.

Great God of mercy, grace and endless patience, I am astounded at Your faithfulness to me. I confess that more times than I'd like to admit I am not patient with those around me, especially the little ones you've entrusted to my care. Jehovah, will you please pour Your Spirit out on me that I may have an extra measure of patience with _________ today. May I speak kindly, love generously and be endlessly patient with him as You are with me. May You be glorified through my words and actions. Amen.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Greek Word "Peace"--PYKM Update

The gracious Steve Fowler (pastor at SAC) answered our/my question on the word peace. Here is the explanation from his email...

The word peace (eirene) in Greek means peace, harmony, tranquility; safety, welfare, health; often with an emphasis on a lack of strife. In the Galatians passage it is used as a noun. The passage in Romans is the same Greek word but it’s found in it’s in verb form (eireneuo). So, basically it is the same meaning but in the Romans passage it is being lived out.

Thank you Steve (I'm quite certain he reads this blog first thing in the morning, just like Bestie Kim).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Parable Plants

My potted veggies are SO happy! Check the zucchini out on the right! That's a happy plant. Here's why I love a potted garden; my zucchini was getting so ginormous that it was actually shading the other pots so I just moved it! JUST MOVED IT! Like oh la la, "you're kinda big, guess I'll just move you". It had been the first pot so I moved it the last one, lemon cuke from second to third, burpless from third to second and basil from last to first.

I guess its true, "So the last will be first, and the first will be last". Wow, that was a lame joke.

Monday, June 15, 2009

If a Picture Speaks a Thousand Words...
then these will explain why my washing machine, carpet and bathtub have sand in them.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

PYKM-- Peace

The next fruit of the Spirit we'll be praying for our kids is peace. When I first read this I thought of it in terms peace as in not fighting with others but the more I thought about it I think it is peace like shalom. Paul, the author of Galatians where we find the Fruit of the Spirit, tells the church of Philipi in chapter 4 the recipe to a peace-filled life:

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus". (vs. 6 & 7).

The kids and I sing a song from the Psalty praise cd's and it says, "I've got that peace that passes understanding down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart to stay. And I'm so happy, so very happy, I've got the peace of Jesus in my heart". Its just the sweetest song and once you get it in your head you can't get it out but I love that, through God and His Spirit, our kids can know peace even when there is no earthly reason for them to.

As I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, our kids don't have a little pint-sized Holy Spirit, they have the same Holy Spirit that rose Jesus from the dead, inspired Paul and guides our hearts and actions to this day. How awesome that the God who created the universe loves to give our Check Spellingkids peace.

Jehovah Shalom, great God of peace, thank you that you love __________ so much that you have sent your Spirit to give her peace in her times of fear, trouble, doubt and worry. Would you please open her eyes so that she will know where the peace comes from and that she will know to pray to you in her dark times. Amen.

I'm going to try and confirm that the peace in Galatians is the same as the one referenced in Phillipians 4 and not the one in Romans in which we're told to be at peace with all men.

Friday, June 12, 2009

This manifesto was written by my cousin Christa; it is one of the most beautiful, moving pieces I've ever read and I couldn't wait to share it with you. With her permission, here it is:

Coffee Manifesto
by Christa Meyer Kaainoa

After my husband died, I vowed never again to drink bad coffee. And by bad, I mean any coffee inferior to the very best as determined by me. And by died, I mean killed instantly in a head on car crash at the age of 28.

My passage through the prescribed stages of grief was textbook: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance and ultimately, on to the final stage of the bereaved – finding meaning in the loss. Using the unthinkable, unmanageable, unbearable experience to answer the question “Who am I?” and “What is my purpose here on earth?” One thing I learned for sure is that my purpose here on earth is NOT to drink shitty coffee.

In our first and only year of marriage, Michael and I bought canned Folgers as a way to cut costs. I was working full time, but he was still in school, and it was a stretch to make ends meet. Once he was dead, though, I asked myself, what did that get him in the end? If he had been given the luxury of a death bed to lay on in his final hours, would he have lain there, reflecting on his life and said “Now that I know I’m going to die at 28, I am so glad we drank that shitty coffee and saved $20 a month. Look at all that $20 accomplished!” Would he have turned to me, his soon-to-be widow, and implored, “Don’t forget, Christa, a penny saved is a penny earned. ”

We’ve all heard that money can’t buy happiness, but you know what? Sometimes it can. I buy happiness by the pound, in glossy white and green sachets. I consume happiness in a smooth, shiny ceramic mug. Deep, dark, fragrant happiness that wraps its arms around me in the absence of a husband to do the job. When I take that first sip of coffee each morning, I literally stop and say out loud, “I love you coffee. Thank you for being in my cup.”

Translate: I love you life, thank you for letting me live today.

Over the years, people have insinuated that I should break my addiction to the stuff. That my daily coffee ingestion is synonymous with weakness. Listen, I could die tomorrow. I mean I could REALLY die tomorrow. As my spirit slips away from the shell of my body, what, of my earthly doings, will matter? I think the only things that will truly matter are acts of love… and good coffee IS love. Good coffee is self-care and making my own happiness a priority. Good coffee represents seizing the moment; making hay while the sun still shines. It’s a celebration of the now and of the attainable.

I learned a thousand things from loving and losing Michael – many painful lessons, a few that were sweet, all of them important. My personal coffee manifesto is just one tiny piece of my life experience. It may seem trivial to some, or insignificant. But for me, it’s a beautiful secret that I generally keep to myself and enjoy by myself. It’s my decision to love myself when I can.

Today in the break room I overheard a conversation between colleagues about the merits of various bad coffees. “Such and such brand is made locally, and it’s not too bad!” “Oh yeah, have you tried Brand X? You really save by buying it in bulk and it’s alright…” I sat, listening to their conversation, keeping my personal coffee policy to myself, privately relishing the fact that when it comes to coffee at least, I will not compromise, and daily, I treat myself to the best. Watching me sip my coffee, no one would ever think to themselves, “There’s just something about the way she drinks coffee that seems so strange, so powerful…” But I know. Drinking my favorite coffee is my own, secret, special, whispered promise to myself and to the world that I will appreciate what is good in life. That I will, as they say, drink it up.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

It is the clown car of sandboxes. There are like 9 more kids
tucked in there and you just can't see them.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Submissive Chicken Update
Many of you wrote me telling me how much you and your families loved Submissive Chicken. Some of you did as I recommended and blackmailed your husbands with the recipe and for that, I applaud you.

Montana BFF, Traci, fed her family Submissive Chicken and got rave reviews from her 6 year old son, Jonah. Below is the email I received from her the day following Submissive Chicken.

Okay, you are going to think I'm making this up and/or coerced him into doing this, but I swear to you that I didn't. I was making chicken fajitas for dinner tonight, and Jonah heard me say "chicken" and he got really excited and said "The good chicken we had last night?!" and I said "No, it's a different chicken." So he went on and on about the chicken we had last night, and then he collected some paper and wrote a book. It's called "My Chicken Book". And it is basically a love letter to Submissive Chicken.

I took a couple pics because I didn't think you'd believe me. Man, this kid is funny. And he loves your chicken.

My Chicken Book
This is my family eating chicken.
This is my chicken.
Eating chicken is my favorite.
I really like chicken.
I really, really like chicken.
I like chicken.
I really, really like chicken.
Chicken is my favorite.
I like chicken.

The kid has a way with words.

Quote of the Day

In my email every morning is a quote of the day and in light of our recent discussions on the Fruit of the Spirit I couldn't resist posting this one...

"God loves everyone, but probably prefers "fruit of the Spirit" over "religious nuts!".

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Summer Lasagna

Love lasagna but don't want to heat the oven up on a hot, summer night? I made this for the fussy H-clan tonight and it was 8 thumbs up all around!

1 lb. lean ground beef or ground turkey
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 26 oz. jar of spaghetti sauce
1 2/3 c. water
1/4 c. Italian dressing
12 oven-ready lasagna noodles, broken into quarters
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Brown meat in a large saucepan, drain. Stir in garlic, sauce, water and dressing. Bring to a boil. Add noodles, stir and cover.

Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 10-15 minutes or until noodles are al-dente. Stir occasionally.

Remove from heat. Stir in cheese; cover. Let stand for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

FYI, I used more than a cup of cheese because we're a cheese lovin' family and like our dishes gooey. Second, I found as I "stirred occasionally" my noodles were sticking so I had to separate them a bit as they cooked.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hot Jeff and I bought each other a fancy-schmancy coffee pot for Christmas; it was no Walmart coffee pot like our last one but a shiny, stainless steel Mr. Coffee, complete with a timer so you can have that fresh coffee smell upon waking! It was by far, our favorite thing in the house. Every morning since Christmas we've been drinking a delicious cup of coffee from our lovely coffee maker until one recent morning when it just stopped brewing. Seriously, one morning it brewed, the next it didn't. We tried all sorts of things to fix it and decided that it was still under warranty so we'd just send it back.

I hopped online and found the nearest Mr. Coffee repair/warranty shop: Beaverton. Perfect. Just a 50 minute drive away and I'd be back to coffee heaven. Last week the kids and I, in need of a reason to get out of the house, decided it was a good day to take the coffee pot to Beaverton.

We drove to the little shop off Farmington road and were greeted by 3 narrow aisles of second-hand appliances. Shelves and shelves of toasters, blenders, mixers and yes, coffee pots. I looked around the shop and saw above the cash register a large, carved, wooden sign that said, "Jesus Christ is Lord". This led me to believe only one thing: they don't actually repair appliances they just lay hands on them and pray for a healing. From the back I heard, "I'll be right with ya'." We waited, and waited and waited. Finally a middle aged woman, wearing an over-sized Tweetie Bird shirt appeared and said, "What can I do for ya'?"

I explained the coffee pot had mysteriously stopped brewing and produced a receipt to prove it was purchased less than a year ago. She ignored the receipt and and started writing on a work order. She wrote quickly and pushed it towards me, "Put your name and address on it" she said gruffly. I saw on the explanation line she had written, "don't brew no more". "You'll get a new one in 4-6 weeks; it'll come in the mail." It took every ounce of restraint I had to not write next to it, "Doesn't brew anymore. Happened suddenly and without incident."

So the waiting begins for the new coffee pot. The only thing that could make me happier than the delivery of the coffee pot is if Appliance Lady delivers it herself in her Tweetie Bird t-shirt.


You all suck when it comes to choosing a sewing machine name... Opal won with an overwhelming percentage of the vote. The name 'Opal' clearly has a mandate with you people. I really wanted to name her Frances but since I left it up to you guys I will respect your votes and name her Opal. Her middle name will be Frances though and we shall always refer to her as Opal Frances, got it? And for the record, I chose the name Frances because that's Baby's name in one of my all time favorite movies, Dirty Dancing. Remember when Johnny (Patrick Swayze) asks Baby what her real name is and she tells him Frances? Then he says, "Frances. That's a real grown up name." Now that is good writing.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

PYKM-- Joy

This week we'll be continuing our prayers for children and the fruit of the Spirit; this week we're concentrating on joy. Interestingly, our society doesn't make much differentiation between joy and happiness and seems to be in constant pursuit of happiness. However, if we look at this passage joy, not happiness, is listed as a fruit of the Spirit hence we can infer that true joy can come only from the Holy Spirit.

Like last week, I'll will expound on this thought in tomorrow's post but for tonight and for praying for our children let's remember that Biblical joy, true joy, is inseparable from God and His Holy Spirit.

God of joy, please help _________ to know Your joy that comes from a personal and deepening relationship with You. I pray that even in dark times he will have a joy that is rooted in You and he will draw strength from Your Spirit. Amen.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Sign the Economy is in the Toilet...

I bought knock off mineral make up today.

Two thumbs up Cover Girl for your knock off mineral make up.

Screw you Bare Minerals for making your wonderful product so darned expensive!

Monday, June 1, 2009

And the Greatest of These is Love...

I wanted to expound on the concept of love and have lots of ideas swimming in my head but I just started sewing project and am eaer to finish it up so I'm going to recycle a post from January on the topic.

I started writing down the things that, without love, become a clanging cymbal and was astonished at the absolute truth of this verse regarding the way I love my husband and children. Without love my discipline becomes punishment. Without love my teaching becomes lecturing. Without love my correction becomes criticism. Without love my expectations become idols and without love my good intentions of glorifying the King become pride. What's a girl to do?

I'm convinced there is not a secret formula that takes years and years of study and practice to figure out; I'm certain the answer lies within the passage that poses the problem. Look a little further down in verse 13, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." God's best, God's most excellent way for me to change the areas that need changing is through love. The answer lies within the question... If I will love the way that God loves, unconditionally and without measure, the rest falls into place. Its no easy task but aren't our children worth it? Who else can you think of that deserves more unabashed and unfiltered love? In Mark we're told how to love God: with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with our strength and I think this translates to our kids too. Here's why: if we loved with only our heart we'd be loving with only emotion and we can't do that all the time because let's face it...they are little villians and sometimes the only emotion there is anger or frustration. In these situations, sometimes our love has to be a decision of will, that's where our mind comes in; we make up our minds to love unconditionally. Similarly, loving isn't always easy and situations get hard and we're tired and we feel unappreciated and so we have to love with all our strength (and interestingly, strength only comes from exercise...). Finally, some parents have a history of abuse or didn't have good examples of unconditional love and they just don't know how to love and I believe that's where our soul comes in. For many of us its the result of the Fall and we're less than perfect and need the help of Someone bigger than our sinful selves. When we pray for the Holy Spirit to teach us how to love as God loves, we are loving with our soul.

So in the end and in my very wordy way, it all comes full circle. Without love we are clanging cymbals. The only way not to be is through...love. And to love as God commands we must do it with our emotions, our soul, our mind and our sheer determination to be obedient. Pray today that God would show you specific ways you can love your children (or anybody in your life) this week. What better way to express God's astounding love and grace than by showering it on someone else.