Friday, July 31

Home Improvement...Learn to be Present

The Bible gives good instruction on how to be present in the moment. How to really live for today:

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

It's simple truth: There is a time for everything...Everything changes

When I realized that my young son would be chattering in my ear for just a few short years, I embraced that time and began to listen. I began to be present in the moment.

For home improvement this weekend, ponder this truth...everything changes; live in the moment this weekend and learn.

Thursday, July 30

Be Present

Before you can 'show up' in your kids' lives, you first have to 'be present'.

When our first born, Ryan was about 4 years old, he developed into a very talkative little guy. He could win the hearts of everyone because he had something to say to everyone. His bright smile and large vocabulary encouraged everyone to stop and hear him out. At the bank, the grocery store, church and family gatherings, Ryan was a hit!

At home, however, he was like a broken, talk, talk! It didn't take me long to figure out that I could 'pretend' to listen to him while I actually was planning my week's menu, mentally reorganized my closet or rehearsed a request I wanted to ask my husband that evening.

That was fine with Ryan. As long as I smiled occasionally, nodded my head or gave a grunt, he assumed his words were heard.

I developed some bad habits by doing that. I began tuning out my husband. I began fakng it with my young daughter. I was creating a whole world within my head in order to get through the day without all the chattering and interruptions knocking me off track.

Thankfully, the error of this 'perfect plan' was revealed to me when questions starting coming from my young son. Questions that needed answers. He wasn't going to let me grunt or nod. He wanted my presence...all of it.

I think God designed my first born to be such a talker to teach me this lesson. I was home with my kids, but often not present. Thankfully, God nudged me to change my ways.

I thought about that this weekend as I pondered the impact of 'showing up' at Dan's graduation. I wondered if 'showing up' as a mom would really mean anything if I hadn't learned to be present along the way. To listen. To pay attention. To know what was important to my child. To notice what I was learning in the process.

Be present today in the lives of your loved ones. Only then will it matter if you 'show up'.

Tuesday, July 28

The Importance of Showing Up

My husband and I had differing views about visiting our son this past weekend. He was 'graduating' from the Army's Officers Boot Camp in San Antonio, Tx. Dean wanted to see the ceremony. He wanted to compare the Army base and all its components to the Marine base he had served in years ago.

He wanted to encourage Dan in this area of his life as he knew from experience the road Dan was stepping onto.

As much as I wanted to see our son and celebrate this achievement, I also considered the economy and our business and put in my 2 cents that perhaps we should re-consider going.

But Dean found some reasonable airline tickets, rented a car and received bonus points for a hotel from our other son, Ryan, so we made plans to go.

The morning of our flight I saw an article by Ada Alden in our neighborhood newspaper. She is a guest columnist from time to time. She also was an instructor in the 'Mommy and Me' program that I took our 2 oldest kids to when they were preschoolers. She had great influence in my parenting then, and as I read her article, she influenced me once again!

The title of her column was, "The Importance of Showing Up". Her life lesson in this column was simple and direct, "I believe there is great value in showing up and being present. Take time to be with those you cherish...snatch now the moments--moments matter."

Those words echoed in my ears all weekend. As we saw the vast acres of the base, walked the dry, hot fields where PT training was evaluated, shopped the commissary and showed my ID over and over again, I began to once again see the value in 'showing up'. Those moments gave me a glimpse of what Dan's life as a soldier was like.

Somewhere along the line, parenting changes. It becomes more a matter of spending time with those you love and cherish.

"Showing up" is what teaches you about the people you love.

'Showing up' is what you get to do as a parent.

Thursday, July 23

Why Read?

Wow, if Stacy didn't give you enough reasons yesterday to start reading, here is one more!

I heard a speaker say once that the reason he read books was that it gave him HOPE. I didn't really understand the full depth of that until I took a serious look at what I was reading.

That has been a guideline for me as I choose books. Do they give me HOPE? Or are they just taking up my time?

Fiction books can give me hope as long as they have a storyline that is uplifting. Books that are based on values that I am trying to follow. I am reading one this summer that is thought-provoking yet hopeful. Glittering Images, by Susan Howatch is about a young clergyman who puts forth a wonderful image in his ministry, but is haunted by who he really is. I am not finished with it yet, but so far, it is a book that bring me hope as I wrestle with the main character and his quest for authenticity.

Biographies are wonderful books that can implant hope to the reader. But not all biographies do that! I have begun reading biographies only to stop reading them as they offer no hope. They are just talking about a person's life with no direction or hope woven within the lines. It was all about the person, but little more.

Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place and Elizabeth Elliot's Through Gates of Splendor are two exceptional picks for summer reading.

the organic God by Margaret Feinberg is just plain HOPEFUL!

Become a woman of HOPE by reading books that build that HOPE within you.

Wednesday, July 22

Summer reading

Are you reading any good books this summer? My usual reading selection has pretty much been replaced by books on sleeping, eating, schedules, pregnancy, etc, etc. Not to mention my daily readings of Curious George and the Hungry Catepillar when my little guy is snuggled in my lap and we're rocking together.

But I have managed to squeeze in some fun, relaxing summer reading as well. I hope you have too!

In case you think reading 'isn't your thing,' here are some benefits to developing consistent reading habits (taken from

Reading is an active mental process: Unlike sitting in front of the idiot box (TV), reading makes you use your brain. While reading you would be forced to reason out many things which are unfamiliar to you. In this process you would use the grey cells of your brain to think and become smarter.

Reading improves your vocabulary: Remember in elementary school when you learned how to infer the meaning of one word by reading the context of the other words in the sentence? You get the same benefit from book reading. While reading books, especially challenging ones, you will find yourself exposed to many new words you wouldn’t be otherwise.

Gives you a glimpse into other cultures and places of the world: How would you know about the life of people in Mexico if you don’t read about it? Reading gives you an insight into the diversity of ethnicity of people, their customs, their lifestyles etc. You become more aware about the different places and the code of conduct in those places.

Improves concentration and focus: It requires you to focus on what you are reading for long periods. Unlike magazines, Internet posts or e-Mails that might contain small chunks of information, books tell the whole story. Since you must concentrate in order to read, like a muscle, you will get better at concentration.

Builds self-esteem: The more you read, the more knowledgeable you become. With more knowledge comes more confidence. More confidence builds self-esteem. So it’s a chain reaction. Since you are so well read, people look to you for answers. Your feelings about yourself can only get better.

Improves memory: Many studies show if you don’t use your memory, you lose it. Crossword puzzles are an example of a word game that staves off Alzheimer’s. Reading, although not a game, helps you stretch your memory muscles in a similar way. Reading requires remembering details, facts and figures and in literature, plot lines, themes and characters.

Improves your discipline: Making time to read is something we all know we should do, but who schedules book reading time every day? Very few… That’s why adding book reading to your daily schedule and sticking to it, improves discipline.

Improves creativity: Reading about diversity of life and exposing yourself to new ideas and more information helps to develop the creative side of the brain as it imbibes innovation into your thinking process.

You always have something to talk about: Have you ever found yourself in an embarrassing situation where you didn’t have anything to talk about? Did you hate yourself for making a fool of yourself? Do you want a remedy for this? It’s simple. Start reading. Reading widens your horizon of information. You’ll always have something to talk about. You can discuss various plots in the novels you read, you can discuss the stuff you are learning in the business books you are reading as well. The possibilities of sharing become endless.

Reduces boredom: One of the rules I have is if I am feeling bored, I will pick up a book and start reading. What I’ve found by sticking to this is that I become interested in the book’s subject and stop being bored. I mean, if you’re bored anyway, you might as well be reading a good book, right?

I hope a few of those points encourage you to continue reading or challenge you to start today. Grab a book, head for the great outdoors (or cool AC), and enjoy the printed word.

Have you read a good book this summer? If so, please share!

Friday, July 17

Home Improvement...Don't Forget Your Vegetables!

Have a great dinner with my recipes this weekend!

Grill some chicken that has been marinated in the sauce

Make the Late-summer good!

Indulge in the S'mores, but only after you've had your vegetables:

Grilled Potato Fans

6 medium baking potatoes
2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper

With a sharp knife, make cuts 1/2 inch apart in each potato, leaving slices attached at the bottom. Fan the potatoes slightly. Place each on a piece of heavy-duty foil. Insert onion and butter between potato slices. Sprinkle with celery, salt, oregano, garlic powder and pepper. Fold foil around potatoes and seal tightly. Grill, covered over medium-hot heat for 40-45 minutes or until tender.

Thursday, July 16

Tasty Grillin'

This recipe was given to me by my friend, Debbie who LOVES GOOD food. She very discriminating! Her husband loves to grill. He has 2 charcoal grills and one gas grill and is always trying something new. They love this marinade, so don't discount it because it is easy. It is great!

EASIEST barbecue sauce for chicken:

12 oz bottle of Red Devil Cayenne

8 oz Italian Dressing

That's it!! Put in ziplock bag and add chicken breast. Marinade overnight.

Wednesday, July 15


I tried these easy bars on the 4th of July and they were much easier than roasting s'mores over the firepit! Very chocolate and good...

S'mores Bars

8 to 10 whole graham crackers
1 pkg fudge brownie mix (13x9 inch pan size)
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup chopped peanuts

Arrange graham crackers in a single layer in a greased 9x13 pan. Prepare the brownie batter according to package directions. Spread over crackers. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Sprinkle with marshmallows, chocolate chips and peanuts. Bake 5 minutes longer or until marshmallows are slightly puffed and golden brown. (I had to leave mine in oven longer than 5 minutes to get the marshmallows to turn a golden brown). Cool on a wire rack before cutting. About 2 dozen.


Tuesday, July 14

Summer Treats

If you only make one salad this summer, make this one! It is scrumptious. Heidi brought it to our last Homemakers meeting this spring, and I have been making it for all my summer celebrations. I am not sure why it is called a 'late' summer salad but just try it, you will love it!

Heidi's Late Summer Salad

1 head romaine lettuce

1 cup fancy shredded swiss cheese

¼ cup craisins

1 cup cashews(salted)

1 apple, diced (gala)

1 pear, diced

dressing: (make earlier to marinate)

½ cup sugar

2 tsp minced onion flakes

½ tsp salt

1 Tbsp poppy seeds

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 tsp dijan mustard

2/3 cup vegetable oil

Thursday, July 9

The role of marriage in parenting

I was listening to a couple authors recently who were discussing the role marriage in parenting. What they had to say was pretty profound:

"The strength of the parent/child relationship is dependent on the quality of the husband/wife relationship. You might always strive to be a sacrificial mother, but you will never be a better mom than what you are as a wife."

Did you get that? The quality of the mother/child relationship is dependent on the quality of the husband/wife relationship.

The two go hand in hand! I can try to be a great mom, but if my relationship with Ryan is lacking, so will my relationship with my kids. Kids need to know that their parents are in love and committed to one another. They need to feel it. They need to see it.

The authors went on to say, "When you put the husband/wife relationship on the back burner in the name of good parenting, the kids will ask - how are mommy and daddy doing? They need to know parents love each other."

This is exactly what I needed to hear. As I get ready to enter into a season of chaos and business with two little ones, I want to make sure my marriage is not put on the back burner. My time and energy will not be evenly split, but I can still strive to make sure my marriage is first priority...and that I am a great wife so I can be a great mom!

Wednesday, July 8

The Ebb and Flow of Marriage

I haven't seen any episodes of Jon and Kate, but I've seen the headlines about their unhappy home life. Too bad there can't be one reality show that shows the tough times but then goes on to show how to resolve those hurdles.

I agree with Stacy, that a husband and wife need to fight to keep their relationship solid before pouring their efforts into the kids.

Experts say that marriages go through cycles of hot and cool phases. I've seen that to be true in my 38 years of marriage. It doesn't mean I turn tail and run during the cool times, it means I pay MORE attention to bring variety and interest back into the relationship as hard as that may be.

The cool phases can be potentially deadly for a marriage if problems aren't addressed. Bad habits can set in which will rob any relationship of laughter, love and have total disregard for each other. It's a slippery slope to watch for.

John Gottman is a marriage expert and psychology professor who says there are 4 indicators of imminent danger in marriages. He predicts that a marriage has a 94% chance of divorce if these 4 indicators are present and not dealt with:

1. Complaining
2. Defensiveness
3. Contempt
4. Withdrawal

What a great show Jon and Kate could have if they identified these indicators in their marriage and showed how a couple could work through the issues to reach a deeper understanding and love for one another. It can be done, but the common belief is that "it just wasn't meant to be, if it takes that much work."

When we have to work hard for something, we appreciate it more. We see it's value and it becomes precious and worthwhile. Marriages were intended to last a lifetime, despite what Kate might think. It is in the context of marriage that we can become all that God meant us to be...a child of God, wife, mom, friend and so much more. It takes a lifetime to do this.

Tuesday, July 7

Marriage lessons

If you are a TLC fan I'm sure you are aware of the recent announcement that Jon and Kate (from Jon and Kate plus 8) are getting divorced.

I read an article featuring their family this week and it brought about a mixture of emotions in me: sadness, disappointment, anger, disbelief.

Yet, it is a situation that I feel I can learn from and that will spur me on to strengthen my own marriage.

This will not be a Kate-bashing session, but I want to share a few things that she said in this article that I disagree with.

I think what I struggle the most with are comments like these from Kate: "As always, my first priority remains our children."

Bottom line: I believe your first priority needs to be your marriage. 1 kid or 8 kids, your husband needs to be in first place and decisions need to be made that clearly communicate that your marriage is top priority.

Kate commented that there was no defining moment when she realized her marriage was broken. It was event after event that happened when she realized that Jon was not the person she married. Their goals, dreams and ideas don't match up anymore.

It would be sad to me if the person you married was the same person 10 years later. I am not who I was 10 years ago. Ryan is not who he was either. We've changed, matured, grew, sinned, gotten older (and heavier!) and experienced the joys and trials of life.... But we've made it a point to grow and change together. And in order for our dreams, goals and ideas to match up, our marriage has to be first. Otherwise how will a husband and wife have the time and energy to talk and discuss their dreams and goals? Because those change over time as well. If your marriage is not your number one relationship in your life, I have no idea how one can be certain that goals, dreams and ideas will be the same.

"I think for the past 10 years I was operating under the belief that marriage is forever. So I exhausted myself trying to do everything and make everything okay, when maybe it just couldn't."

This quote made me sad because God intended for marriage to be forever. I am sure Kate exhausted herself in many ways because the reality is that trying to raise 8 kids is exhausting....and when you give your husband the leftovers, I can only imagine how draining that would be. In no way will I claim to understand the challenges of raising 8 children, but I do know that you operate in your marriage based on one of two attitudes: that marriage is temporary or it is forever. If you believe it is forever, your actions will line up with that belief.

I don't mean to be overly critical toward Kate. She has been in the spotlight and now her private life is on display for everyone to discuss.

But I wanted to share my perspective about marriage and make this a place to talk about things I disagree with in our society.

Do you have an opinion on this topic or situation? Has it taught you a lesson in your own personal life? Please share, we'd love to hear your thoughts!

Friday, July 3

Home Improvement...Leaving a Legacy


Reflect on the legacy of faith that our founding fathers built this country on.

Share with someone this weekend, one freedom that you are most grateful for that you have because you live in America.

Thank God for that freedom.

Wednesday, July 1

Leaving a Legacy...

If I handed you a banana, what would you expect to get when you peeled back the skin?

A peach? A tomato? An apple?

A banana, of course!

What would others expect to get if they peeled back your skin and could see your heart?

Love? Anger? Jealousy? Peace? Animosity?

Whatever others may find beneath your surface is probably what you will leave behind as your legacy.

The woman of integrity walks securely,
but the woman who takes crooked paths will be found out...

(Proverbs 10:9...I inserted 'woman' for 'man')

The woman who is the same inside and out can walk securely...the woman who takes crooked paths must have something to hide because the verse says she 'will be found out.'

I have 'legacy' written next to this verse in my Bible. It is a reminder to me that I want to live a consistent life...that there isn't something that will be 'found out' about me that will negate who I want to become.

A wise woman who builds her house will have many people looking in to see what she is building. She is in the perfect place to make sure she is constructing a life and a home that is genuine and pure before God...and others.

Then those who follow after will have a straight path to follow.