Category Archives: faith

Christmas Parade Round 2

Second verse, same as the first.  Our little church float travelled about 15 miles north to the neighboring county for their parade tonight, and it was a hit there as well.  My kids rode in it again, and it was just adorable.

IMG_0321

IMG_0324

IMG_0326

After the parade, we went to a little Christmas party at friend’s house in that town, and it was so much fun…in fact, I was enjoying myself so much that I didn’t take a single picture!

Let His Crazy Sound–It’s Christmas!

This morning the kids sang the Christmas song they have been working for weeks at church.  They did a great job, and Bowden had his first solo.  He has a really nice voice and has since he was very young.  I was really excited for him to share his gift and talent with the church, and he did so without any nerves!  But before I get to the pictures, I have to explain the title of this post.  About three weeks ago, the Hubs and I were at home practicing the song with the kids, and C couldn’t remember the words.  So we asked B to help her out since we figured he new all the words pretty well.  It went like this:

B:  So lift up your voice and sing out His praise.  It’s Christmas!  Born is the King, rejoice in the day.  It’s Christmas!  Make a joyful sound…it’s Christmas.  Let His crazy sound…it’s Christmas.

The Hubs and I looks at each other, and the Hubs says, “Did you say ‘Let His crazy sound?'”

B:  Yeah, those are the words.

Me (and the Hubs):  I think it’s “Let His praise resound” not let His crazy sound.

B:  Hm, maybe so.

Hahahaha!  We were cracking up…as were his teachers when we told them.  Fortunately, by today he had it all together and got the words right.

DSC_0005

DSC_0006

DSC_0007

There was a little bit of a power struggle among the younger kids when they noticed the mic stand in front, but we were eventually able to get them to back away from it so we could hear everyone.  They really sounded wonderful, and I was really proud of the whole group!

Third Annual Bethlehem Breakfast

We are all about celebrating Christmas at our house, but we are even more about keeping the focus on Jesus.  And that is not just at Christmas but all the time.  For anyone who has young children, you can probably agree that there is a lot of focus on presents, toys, wanting stuff and getting stuff at Christmas which can make keeping greed to a minimum very difficult.  So with all of that in mind, I came up with my Christ-centered Elf on the Shelf alternative that starts with a Bethlehem Breakfast.  (If you are interested in how we do Christmas and why we chose to do it that way, you can read my original Bethlehem Breakfast post here.)

So Mary and Joseph arrived this morning with a delicious breakfast in tow for our family to enjoy at the table.  (FYI, my family sitting around the table and eating breakfast together pretty much happens less than 5 times a year–so this is kind of a big deal!) This is what was waiting for the kids when they got up.

DSC_0019

DSC_0018

Once the kids actually woke up, I got started on breakfast which consisted on can cinnamon rolls, bacon, and sausage links.  I got it all set up family style on the table, and we sat down for a real family breakfast around the table!

DSC_0020

DSC_0021

DSC_0022

DSC_0023

We enjoyed our breakfast together, and the kids are looking forward to finding where Joseph and Mary will have travelled to by morning.

Mom Time Retreat Weekend

Oh, my word!  I am back from a wonderful weekend “away” (only about 20 minutes from home) with some wonderful ladies and older women at the Mom Time Retreat Weekend.  I mean, meals I didn’t have to cook or serve, good company, and a new overnight experience?  It’s a win-win situation.

I arrived Friday night around 5:45 and took my stuff to the “glamping tent.” For those of you not familiar with glamping, it is glamour camping.  You are outdoors in a canvas tent, but it has beds instead of sleeping bags, a real floor, and a bathroom with running water.  That’s about as outdoorsy as I’m gonna get!  It was a blast!

IMG_0108

IMG_0109

IMG_0110

IMG_0111

After dropping off my bag, I headed down to the dock for dinner and some music and getting to know each other.  There was a big focus on health this weekend, so all of the meals were very healthy, natural, and full of fresh veggies.  Friday night’s dinner was three different coup options–I went with the butternut squash and carrot soup with some delicious bread and a dollop or sour cream.  It was pretty different from what I usually eat, but it was very, very good.

IMG_0092

When we got back to our tent, there were little pieces of fudge left for us on our pillows which really added a touch of pampering to our weekend.  We also got a visit from our “tent mother” who was one of the older women helping host the event.

IMG_0094

We were up and at ’em early the next morning.  Some of my tent mates chose to go for a run/walk, but I opted for some quiet time with the Lord out on our deck.  A cup of coffee overlooking the water was the perfect way to start the day.

IMG_0096

After showers and clothes, we headed back to the dock for breakfast and first of a few sessions.  Breakfast was absolutely scrumptious and included sausage muffins, pumpkin muffins, fruit, tea, and lots of things that had blueberries.  I could have eaten about 10 of the sausage muffins, but I restrained myself.

IMG_0098

All of our sessions and meals took place out on the dock which is not what it sounds like.  It was not really an open-air dock, but more of a cabin out on the lake.  It was lovely and homey with a full kitchen, bathroom, and even a fireplace.  So, so lovely.  And check out the view!

IMG_0102IMG_0099

IMG_0100

IMG_0101

We had two sessions with a former Navy captain turned dietician who taught us about our own personal health and how to keep our children healthy by feeding them nutritious meals and snacks.  She had a couple of the moms show us how to make chocolate cranberry granola bars.  They were delicious, and I can’t wait to make them my for kids.  They will love them!

IMG_0103

IMG_0105

We also had three sessions with the LOLs (or Little Old Ladies as they call themselves) who were our precious hostesses and served us so kindly.  They had index cards out for us to write down any questions or issues we are struggling with and then they would pull them out and answer them.  They are so full of kindness and wisdom.  I loved soaking up every word they said!

IMG_0106

After a catered dinner, we headed back to the our tent for lots of giggles and a restful night’s sleep listening to the rain as it tapped on the canvas roof.  I was able to snap a picture of me with most of my tent mates after breakfast this morning (which was a delicious mixture of leftover muffins, pumpkin bread, yogurt with granola, fruit, berries, and leftover quiche from lunch the day before).

IMG_0113

It was such a special weekend catching up with old friends from high school and college and making new friends as well.  I need a Mom Time Retreat every month!

Christmas Parade 2.0

Tonight was the second parade that our church participated in, and we walked in it again.  Once again it was lots of fun, however, I did not pass my camera off to a trusty teenager this time, so I only got a couple of pictures.

The Hubs and I switched rolls, so he wore the sign and carried the candle while I helped B hand out glow bracelets.   Since C was so afraid at the last parade, she stayed with Pop and JuJu while we took B to the parade.  We managed to get this semi-family picture before the parade started.

I managed to snap one picture of our float participation right at the end of the parade.

Once again we had a blast with friends, and it was such a blessing to bless other.

His Hands, His Feet, and His Mouth

So, the last few weeks have been Sickness Central at my house.  As much as I would love to say that I handled it like an award-winning mom who is completely emotionally stable, that is not at all the case.  I will start at the beginning.

On Saturday, September 20, B started running a fever.  I wasn’t too worried since he sometimes will run fever when his allergies are acting up.  But our family had tickets to attend a fund raiser at church that night, so it did alter my plans.  The Hubs and C went on the event, while B and I drove up, grabbed my meal I had paid for and left.  While we were there waiting for our food, our pastor’s wife S came over to speak to us.  I told her we weren’t able to stay since B was running fever.  She responded that her youngest was home with a fever as well–but she also had one kind of red eye.  She peeked through the window and noticed that B had a red eye too!  About that time, another friend walked over and said her son felt warm.  And, you guessed it, he had a red eye!  Well, C woke up with a fever the next morning, and my friend’s daughter developed a fever a day or two after that.  After a trip to the pediatrician with both kids, it was determined that what they had was viral–more than likely, viral conjunctivitis which I did not even know existed.  Well, let me just tell you people, whatever this virus was, I don’t ever want to see it again.  My children were each sick with high fever for SIX DAYS!  It was miserable.  And on top of the fever, B’s eyes looked like they belonged in a horror movie.  This is what they looked like toward the end of the virus:

B was finally fever free on Thursday, and C woke up that Friday with no fever, so they went to Pop and JuJu’s house like they normally do on Fridays while I prepared for my sister-in-law H and friend T to come stay with us while we celebrated the Hubs’s parents’ 40th Anniversary.  The kids got home from my parents, H and T arrived, my in-laws came over for dinner, lasagna is in the oven and I’m working on a salad when C starts crying about her ear hurting.  Are you kidding me??  She’s never had an ear infection before–ever.  In fact, in all my six years of parenting experience, I have only dealt with one ear infection, and that was with B back in May.  So I left H in charge of B and dinner and headed out to the after hours clinic with C.  Sure enough, both ears were infected.  So C started on her very first round of antibiotics ever.  Thankfully, she did not complain about her ears any more and was better by the next day.  Mother of the Year over here ended up leaving her “must be refridgerated” Amoxicillin in my car the next Friday and had to take her BACK to the clinc to make sure she didn’t need any more meds.  She got the all clear.

Then four days later on that Monday, I went in to check on C before going to bed and she felt very hot–another fever.  Since the Hubs was on Fall Break, he took B to CC that Tuesday and I stayed home with C.  I took her to see my friend K who is a PA at a local urgent care clinic.  After a negative strep test and flu test, she decided that it was either viral or just a throat infection and prescribed Penicillin just in case of infection.  I started her on the meds that night, and she woke up the next day fever free.  K decided it might have been strep any way since she responded so well to the antibiotics.  Well, wouldn’t you know B came home from Pop and JuJu’s on Friday running a fever.  So we got some meds for him.  It must be strep just like C, right?  After three doses of Penicillin, B starts complaining that his toes itch during lunch on Sunday.  I look, and his feet are covered in little red pin dots!  Great, I think–it must be a reaction to the Penicillin.  So we stop the penicillin and start him on another medication.  BUT the itching and spots don’t go away.  JuJu came over on Sunday while the Hubs was at his football coaches’ meeting, and I left the kids with her to go pick up the new Rx.  I returned and had a total emotional meltdown complete with sobs and snot.  It was not pretty.  Through my sobs and tears, I told her that I felt ridiculous crying over strep throat and an ear infection while there are mothers out there with children who are chronically sick and even dying!  I mean how petty, trivial, and selfish could I get?  Sometimes we need a reality check even in the midst of our own trying times.

By Tuesday morning, B’s rash was still there and turning into blisters even after completely discontinuing all meds.  A harried trip to the pediatrician determined that he did not have strep after all–he had hand, foot, and mouth disease.  In all my years of hearing about that and having friends whose kids had it, I had never known it to itch.  I always thought it started with painful sores in the mouth–of which B had NONE!!  Dr. E said that it was possible that C had also had hand, foot, and mouth, but it just never got to her hands and feet, but there was really no way to tell since she was better now.  So, we stopped all Rx with B and were able to just wait it out. He did eventually develop two small sores in his mouth.  This is what he feet looked like on Sunday when I thought he was having an allergic reaction:

And this is what they looked like the day after his official diagnosis.

So after getting the all clear from the dr that he was no longer contagious, I breathed a sigh of relief and took the kids to Chick-Fil-A.  As we stood there in line waiting to order, I looked down as B and smiled.  It had been a week of uncertainty, wondering what was wrong with both of them, how to treat it, and how long it would last.  And to be honest, it was a week that tested my faith–my kids are normally very healthy.  Why had they been sick?  And why had it seemingly been non-stop–one illness or ailment after another?  Why had God allowed this?  Didn’t He know I was tired and worried and had been filled with anxiety?  (Please excuse how melodramatic this is–as I mentioned above, I had had a reality check and know it could have been worse than I even care to think about, but just roll with me here.)  As I looked down at him and looked at the sores on his hands, I felt the Lord whisper gently in my ear, “Don’t forget to be MY hands, MY feet, and MY mouth.”

That was all He said–but it was enough.  I can only imaging the bizarre look on my face as I had that quiet moment with my sweet Savior right there in Chick-Fil-A, but I felt myself smile.  Now, don’t get me wrong–I am not saying that my kids got sick so that God could teach me a lesson.  But I do believe that he uses circumstances to teach His children, just like we do with our own children.  So I smiled.

I smiled knowing that He loves me.

And I smiled knowing that He loves my children.

I smiled knowing that He loves the people I will come in contact with, even the people I don’t know, and that He wants me to show them His love–even if I am hesitant or it might mean doing something “weird.”

And I smiled because I enjoyed having a gentle reminder from Him of my purpose on earth.  He has called all of us who believe in Him to be His hands, His feet, and His mouth to those around us.  Everywhere we go.

So that has been the sickness saga for the past month at our house.  I am thankful that as I type this everyone is healthy and well.  And I will continue to be His hands, His feet, and His mouth…even if it means sharing my little blog that has served as my private journal until now.

Church Fall Festival

Before I launch into this post, allow a disclaimer–I did a HORRIBLE job taking pictures!  Ok, with that out of the way, Sunday was our church Fall Festival and the kids had a blast.

Immediately after church the fall festival got started with selling hot dog plates and lots of games for the kiddos.  There was also a jumping castle/slide and a little train that my kids absolutely adored.  I am pretty sure C would have spent the entire afternoon on that train if she had not had to get off every so often for others to ride!  And B informed me as we were walking up that they had too much to do and would be “too busy to eat.”  I love that kid!

The kids played a couple of the games, but they weren’t really interested in those.  They stuck to the train and jumping castle.  B did get a minion painted on his face–while C adamantly insisted that she DID NOT want to get her face painted.

Around 2:15 the games and food stations started to shut down in order the start the auction we were having to raise money for the mission trip our youth are taking next summer to Cambodia and San Fransisco.  Last I heard, they made about $6000 that day which is GREAT!  I was a super fun day!  But it was also a LONG day.  I was at the church from 8:15 until after 5:00 with the kids only being there about 45 minutes less than me!  Needless to say, some of us couldn’t make it home without collapsing from sheer exhaustion.

Until next time!

Workshop of Wonders VBS

So . . . some how I got myself roped into helping with Vacation Bible School at ANOTHER church besides my own (which I am already working on!).  I saw on Facebook where the First United Methodist Church in town was having their VBS during a week when the Hubs was supposed to be gone on a hiking trip.  I decided it might be nice to have them involved in that so they would be busy while he was gone–and it would be three hours of the day that they would not be asking me when Daddy would be home.  haha  So, anyway, I texted a friend of mine who goes to church there to see if she would be helping with it–just to make sure I at least knew some of the adults who would be working with the kids.  Her response:  Yes, and I would LOVE for you to help me in my classroom.  **sigh**  And, I agreed.  Last week was one of the most exhausting weeks I have had in a while, but my kids had a BLAST!!

The kids were divided by age group, so I was with the three-year-old class.  There were 25 three-year-olds in the class, and let me just say–that is a lot of three-year-old to keep occupied for three hours!  Thus my exhaustion.  And there were 50 kids in B’s class of four- and five-year-olds.  There was a total of 168 kids that attended the VBS and heard about Jesus.  That is good news indeed. 

FUMC used the Workshop of Wonders VBS curriculum by Cokesbury, and it was adorable.  The music was some of the best I’ve heard in a while, and we are still listening to the CD in the car and singing along.  We will probably be participating in their VBS programs in the future.  They did a great job!

Since I was with C’s group, I was able to get some cute pics of her participating in games.  But since I was only with her group, I was not able to get any pics of B participating in anything.

Thanks to FUMC for a great week!

UNPLUGGED 2014

The Hubs and I just returned from a week in Ocoee, TN with 20 of our youth group kids and four more adults for a camp that we called UNPLUGGED.  We chose this name because we wanted them to come without their phones, iPods, iPads, gaming devices, computers, etc.  Basically, we wanted a distraction-free week so they could focus on building relationships both with each other and the Lord.  It was a truly amazing week, and I can honestly say I am glad to be home, but I miss those teenagers like crazy!  But any who, here is a breakdown of how the week went.

We arrived on Monday and assigned the kids (and adults) into two teams.  These two teams competed for points all week and were lead by captains which the Hubs and I assigned ahead of time.  We chose older boys (a senior and a junior) who we felt could encourage their teammates and cultivate their leadership skills.  We also gave them their schedule and Bible study worksheets for the week.

After breakfast, the kids started each day with 45 minutes to an hour of quiet time and devotional time.  Each night the Hubs would give them a few guideline for what he wanted them to read and pray about.  Several of the kids told me throughout the week how much this time meant to them.  And it gave the adults time to get ready of the rest of the morning’s events.

After morning devotionals, we had what I called Kid’s Church Flashback Trivia.  Several of the kids in our youth group did not grow up in church, which means that they didn’t really get to learn some of the basic Bible stories that kids learn in Sunday School and Kid’s Church.  Additionally, the Bible is R rated at best, and even when kids do learn those basic Bible stories, they sometimes have to be cleaned up a little bit to protect the innocence of the children.  It is good to go back and revisit those stories that we learned at kids.  So we spent the week studying the story of Joseph from Genesis 37-50.  I would spend about 30 minutes reading from the Scripture and discussing various topics from the text.  Then I would spend the next 30 minutes asking the kids questions from the chapters we had just read and discussed.  We used the Jeopardy buzzers that had been in storage for years at the church and the kids loved it!  And it gave them a chance to earn points for their teams.

 

The next item on the schedule was Game Show Hour.  I pulled most of these ideas from games the Hubs and I played while at camp growing up.  And something just don’t get old.  What was fun 15 years ago is still fun today!  Tuesday was based on Survivor–outwit, outplay, outlast.  It was teamwork, puzzles, and gross food eating just like on the show!

Wednesday was American Gladiators–feats of strength.  Basically, it was racing while pulling a smaller person in a bed sheet plus a couple of other games.

Thursday was I Survived a Japanese Game Show also known as stupid human tricks.  Think childhood games like the Dizzy Lizzy and water balloons.

We saved the best until last–Friday was Super Sloppy Double Dare.  This day wasn’t so much about the points as it was just us getting to get the kids really messy!

We ate lunch after games.  Let me just say that the food was great, and what made it even better is that I did not have to plan, shop for, or prepare said meals.  I just showed up in the Dining Hall on time, held out my plate, and someone put food on it.  I could (and did) get used to that!  After lunch, we participated in activities provided onsite by the Ocoee Retreat Center where we stayed.  They do a phenomenal job, and if you are looking for a great place for a business or youth retreat, check them out.  We chose four activities:  Adventure Race, paintball, white water rafting on the Ocoee River, and a day at the crazy lake.

The kids had a little bit of down time between their afternoon activities and dinner, and they made the best of it with pick up volleyball games, playing cards and board games, and just goofing off with guitars on the deck.

After dinner, the Hubs lead a Bible study lesson about staying rooted in the Lord with prayer, Bible reading, evangelism, community, and worship.  The night of worship was an AMAZING night with the kids and Lord.  There is just nothing like watching 20 youth have a dynamic encounter with Jesus.

At the end of the week, we got to announce the Orange Team as the winners and pack everyone up to head home tired but refreshed in the Lord.  Thank you, Jesus, for giving us this wonderful time with these kids that we love so much!

2014 Youth Missions Egg-Stravaganza

This past Saturday, our church hosted its second annual 5K/Fun Run Egg-Stravaganza to raise money for youth short term missions.  The Hubs and I are in charge of this, and while it is a bit stressful putting together an event like this, we enjoy it.  And it always feels good to raise money for furthering the gospel of Christ and investing in the youth of our church that we love so much!

The one mile Fun Run started at 8:30, and the 5K started at 9:00.  We didn’t have many runners, but we didn’t advertise it like we should have.  I have big plans for next year, but I digress . . .

One of our church members owns a small business renting out those fabulous inflatable slides and jumping castles that are all the rage with the kiddos these days.  Last year and this year, he graciously donated them for the day, and the kids love them.

We ended the morning with egg hunts for kids nursery age to 12.  We had tons and tons of candy-filled eggs and my kids each got a basket full!

 Pop and JuJu being silly!

Overall, the event was a success, and the kids had a wonderful morning playing and hunting eggs!  And my brain is already brainstorming for next year!!