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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Declare Your Own Victory: 30-day Challenge

As we approach a new year, I am sure that all of us have many prayer requests before the Lord and many things we are hoping for in 2010. The truth is: if we are going to see these things come to pass, we are going to need one essential virtue: faith!

The word of God is filled with precious promises of peace, joy, healing, deliverance, provision, direction, help, salvation, hope etc. Nevertheless, we can only access these promises by faith.

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

If you're like me, your faith could stand to be built some more! There are certainly areas in everyone's life that look dark and grim. There are circumstances that seem permanent and impossible.

We all have areas in everyone's life where we could stand to renew our mind, so we can think like God thinks. Hence, we need to read and speak the word of God over these situations if we are going to build our faith and/or renew our minds in these areas!

Hence, I'm inviting you to join me in the Declare Your Own Victory: 30-day Challenge!

How it will work:

1. Buy some index cards (and/or make some using card stock or paper).

2. Get 1 area that you want to build your faith in/renew your mind in and write the scriptures/biblical promises about that area on your index cards.

3. Between Jan 1, 2010 and Jan 30, 2010, take your index cards with your versus everywhere you go.

4. Speak the scriptures you have written on your cards several times everyday and praise God everyday for whatever you are believing Him for , no matter what is actually going on in the natural!

5. On Jan 30, 2010 write a post on your blog about something God has done in you or in your life as a result of the challenge!

If you are interested in participating in this challenge please leave a comment letting me know what area you are focusing on. You can be as general or specific as you want.

p.s. I will be meeting with some other friends and family who are participating in the challenge at the end of the 30-days to testify and hear about what God did as well. I'll be sure to share with you what happens!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 Book List -Update


In this post I shared my 2009 Book List, which consisted of 5 books I wanted to read before the end of the year.

Here's what happened:

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin- (Read it. Loved it. If you plan on having a natural birth, this is the book for you!)

What the Bible Says About Child Training by J. Richard Fugate - (Bought it. Skimmed it twice. This book challenged me in various ways. So loaded with good information, I need to go back and take notes.)

Managers of Their Homes by Steve and Teri Maxwell - (Never got to it.)

Passionate Housewives Desperate for God by Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald (Read it. Loved it. It was very helpful in my quest to renew mind on what it means to be a wife, mother, and homemaker. If you are interested in doing such things, read this book!)

Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World by Carolyn McCulley- (Didn't quite get to this one either.)


Okay, okay. So, I read 2 out of 5 and skimmed another. But, I'm not a total slacker because I actually read 2 other books this year that I had not planned on reading.

I received In Praise of Stay-At-Home-Moms by Dr. Laura Schlessinger as a birthday gift. - (Read it. Really liked it. This book is not necessarily a Christian book. You won't find many scriptures in it; nevertheless, I liked hearing a natural perspective. Tons of encouragement and practical reasons why being a STAHM is ideal.

Dr. Laura isn't against women making money (she even worked nights after her son went to bed); however, she makes a distinction between doing work that takes you away from being the primary caretaker of your children and doing work that does not. Also, she had many great things to say on marriage and how being a homemaker affects your relationship with you husband! Awesome book!)


On a Positive Note by CeCe Winans. - (Read it. Loved it. I went back and re-read many portions of it. She offers and great story of her experience growing up in a large family that believed in holiness. I wanted to read this book to learn more about what caused her parents and upbringing to be so successful in instilling a love for God in her and her siblings. Got what I was looking for, but I wish I could have gotten even more details. Overall, great book!)

Has anyone else read any of these books? What did you think?

Coming soon: My 2010 Book List!


{Image by:kennymatic}

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Belated Birthday Hubby!

Hubby celebrated his 28th birthday yesterday!

Noelle took one good look at him and said, "Daddy, you look birthday clean!" Unsure of what she meant, he chuckled, took it as a compliment and said, "Thanks."

Hubby is so great, it is hard to do him justice in words. So, I won't try. I'll just share with you 2 of my favorite pictures of him.





Here is one of him spending time with the girls at the zoo. I like this one because it captures him in all of his "fatherly-glory."


Here's another of him wooing me on a date night. I like this one because it captures some of his smooth "husbandly-appeal."

I love you honey and I'm looking forward to spending many more birthdays with you!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

On Its a Wonderful Life

Its a Wonderful Life is my most favorite movie of all time! I hope you will enjoy watching the final, heart-warming scenes in the video below.

Of course, the cast did an amazing job in their acting. In addition, the story line is brilliant. Still, what I admire most about this movie is that although its storyline and characters are fictional, there are some very true messages that we can all take away from it.

"Like what?" you ask?

Here is a list:

True Points Suggested in Its A Wonderful Life:

God hears and answers ordinary people.

Even though our "big" dreams may not be God's plan for our life, He has a great plan for it!


Marriage is beautiful.


Angels are real.


You will reap what you sow.


You don't need alot of money to be happy.


"Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole..."


Its the "rabble" that do most of the working and paying and living and dying in the community.


You can have peace and joy in difficult times, when you stay focused on what's really important.


"Dear Father in Heaven...show me the way...show me the way." is one powerful prayer!




Hee Haw and Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Coca-Cola and the Clark Sisters!

Hubby won tickets to a small promotional concert for one of his favorite groups: The Clark Sisters.

The Clark Sisters have a new cd out called: The Clark Sisters Family Christmas. In addition to getting a free copy of the album, we enjoyed hearing the group sing some of their new songs in a cute little room called the Coca-Cola lounge!

Check out the pictures below!










Friday, December 18, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Is it Friday already?

Christmas is 1 week away and I am definitely feeling the "holiday crunch!"
I finished most of my shopping yesterday; however, there are still a host of holiday programs and parties to attend this weekend!

Did I ever tell you that Christmas is my favorite holiday? Hence, our first daughter is named "Noelle" meaning "Christmas" in French (although the child was born in November!).

In my book, the Christmas season truly is "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!" Hubby teases me because I start listening to Christmas music earlier and earlier every year, sometimes, even before Thanksgiving!

Say what you want, but I have so many beautiful memories associated with this time of year. I love the music, the lights, the parties, the food, the gifts, the family, the friends, and the fun of it all! More specifically, I really enjoy our family tradition of having Chinese food on Christmas Eve with family and friends.

It began when I was about 7 or 8 years old. My brother and I were riding around in the car with my mom looking for somewhere to have dinner and everything seemed to be closed. The only place that was open was this cozy little Chinese food restaurant with great food!

Although it was just the 3 of us that first year, we have invited various family and friends to come along from year to year.
Unfortunately, the restaurant we originally ate at was sold, so now we have begun to order in and have it here at my place! I can't wait!

What family traditions does your family enjoy?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Breastfeeding Beyond the First Year

Most of the breastfeeding moms that I know usually try to breastfeed for at least a year. That is usually my goal as well. Nevertheless, after reading "Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing: How Ecological Breastfeeding Spaces Babies" by Sheila Kippley, I became more open to the idea of going longer.

As a result, I breastfed Bella for 15 months. I am considering going longer with Noah. I don't think many people realize how many benefits exist for both mother and babies when mom extends her breastfeeding past a year. Thus, many people seem to be generally uncomfortable with the idea of it.

Below you will find some articles that outline the benefits of extended nursing for both mom and baby!

Breastfeeding:

Benefits Beyond the First Year

Post-Pregnancy News Flash
-- By Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietitian

For both mother and child to receive the variety of proven health benefits, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends mothers breastfeed their children up to 2 years of age and beyond. Due to social stigmas, breastfeeding older children (past one year of age) is often considered taboo and therefore done behind closed doors. A recent survey conducted in Australia collected information from breastfeeding moms (ages 21-45) who were currently breastfeeding children between 24 and 78 months old. The mothers answered survey questions, but were also given a list of questions to ask their breastfed child.

Typical responses from the moms:
  • I enjoy breastfeeding my child.
  • I feel it strengthens our relationship.
  • My child still enjoys breastfeeding and doesn't want to wean.
  • Breastfeeding is easier.
  • Breastfeeding helps to comfort my child.
  • I breastfeed for intimacy and closeness with my child.
  • My child likes the taste of breast milk.
  • 75% of the mothers did not intend to breastfeed past 12 months. However they delayed weaning because of increased confidence and knowledge about breastfeeding, along with their child's enjoyment as well as their own.

Extended Breastfeeding Fact Sheet

By Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC

Nursing toddlers benefit NUTRITIONALLY
  • Although there has been little research done on children who breastfeed beyond the age of two, the available information indicates that breastfeeding continues to be a valuable source of nutrition and disease protection for as long as breastfeeding continues.
  • "Human milk expressed by mothers who have been lactating for >1 year has significantly increased fat and energy contents, compared with milk expressed by women who have been lactating for shorter periods. During prolonged lactation, the fat energy contribution of breast milk to the infant diet might be significant."
    -- Mandel 2005
  • "Breast milk continues to provide substantial amounts of key nutrients well beyond the first year of life, especially protein, fat, and most vitamins."
    -- Dewey 2001
  • In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:
    • 29% of energy requirements
    • 43% of protein requirements
    • 36% of calcium requirements
    • 75% of vitamin A requirements
    • 76% of folate requirements
    • 94% of vitamin B12 requirements
    • 60% of vitamin C requirements
    -- Dewey 2001
  • Studies done in rural Bangladesh have shown that breastmilk continues to be an important source of vitamin A in the second and third year of life.
    -- Persson 1998
  • It's not uncommon for weaning to be recommended for toddlers who are eating few solids. However, this recommendation is not supported by research. According to Sally Kneidel in "Nursing Beyond One Year" (New Beginnings, Vol. 6 No. 4, July-August 1990, pp. 99-103.):

    Some doctors may feel that nursing will interfere with a child's appetite for other foods. Yet there has been no documentation that nursing children are more likely than weaned children to refuse supplementary foods. In fact, most researchers in Third World countries, where a malnourished toddler's appetite may be of critical importance, recommend continued nursing for even the severely malnourished (Briend et al, 1988; Rhode, 1988; Shattock and Stephens, 1975; Whitehead, 1985). Most suggest helping the malnourished older nursing child not by weaning but by supplementing the mother's diet to improve the nutritional quality of her milk (Ahn and MacLean. 1980; Jelliffe and Jelliffe, 1978) and by offering the child more varied and more palatable foods to improve his or her appetite (Rohde, 1988; Tangermann, 1988; Underwood, 1985).

References

Nursing toddlers are SICK LESS OFTEN
  • The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that children weaned before two years of age are at increased risk of illness (AAFP 2001).
  • Nursing toddlers between the ages of 16 and 30 months have been found to have fewer illnesses and illnesses of shorter duration than their non-nursing peers (Gulick 1986).
  • "Antibodies are abundant in human milk throughout lactation" (Nutrition During Lactation 1991; p. 134). In fact, some of the immune factors in breastmilk increase in concentration during the second year and also during the weaning process. (Goldman 1983, Goldman & Goldblum 1983, Institute of Medicine 1991).
  • Per the World Health Organization, "a modest increase in breastfeeding rates could prevent up to 10% of all deaths of children under five: Breastfeeding plays an essential and sometimes underestimated role in the treatment and prevention of childhood illness." [emphasis added]

References

Nursing toddlers have FEWER ALLERGIES
  • Many studies have shown that one of the best ways to prevent allergies and asthma is to breastfeed exclusively for at least 6 months and continue breastfeeding long-term after that point.

    Breastfeeding can be helpful for preventing allergy by:
    1. reducing exposure to potential allergens (the later baby is exposed, the less likely that there will be an allergic reaction),
    2. speeding maturation of the protective intestinal barrier in baby's gut,
    3. coating the gut and providing a barrier to potentially allergenic molecules,
    4. providing anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the risk of infections (which can act as allergy triggers).

References

Nursing toddlers are SMART
  • Extensive research on the relationship between cognitive achievement (IQ scores, grades in school) and breastfeeding has shown the greatest gains for those children breastfed the longest.

References

Nursing toddlers are WELL ADJUSTED SOCIALLY
  • According to Sally Kneidel in "Nursing Beyond One Year" (New Beginnings, Vol. 6 No. 4, July-August 1990, pp. 99-103.):

    "Research reports on the psychological aspects of nursing are scarce. One study that dealt specifically with babies nursed longer than a year showed a significant link between the duration of nursing and mothers' and teachers' ratings of social adjustment in six- to eight-year-old children (Ferguson et al, 1987). In the words of the researchers, 'There are statistically significant tendencies for conduct disorder scores to decline with increasing duration of breastfeeding.'"
  • According to Elizabeth N. Baldwin, Esq. in "Extended Breastfeeding and the Law":
    "Breastfeeding is a warm and loving way to meet the needs of toddlers and young children. It not only perks them up and energizes them; it also soothes the frustrations, bumps and bruises, and daily stresses of early childhood. In addition, nursing past infancy helps little ones make a gradual transition to childhood."
  • Baldwin continues: "Meeting a child's dependency needs is the key to helping that child achieve independence. And children outgrow these needs according to their own unique timetable." Children who achieve independence at their own pace are more secure in that independence then children forced into independence prematurely.

References

Nursing a toddler is NORMAL
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that "Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child... Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother... There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer." (AAP 2005)
  • The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that breastfeeding continue throughout the first year of life and that "Breastfeeding beyond the first year offers considerable benefits to both mother and child, and should continue as long as mutually desired." They also note that "If the child is younger than two years of age, the child is at increased risk of illness if weaned." (AAFP 2001)
  • A US Surgeon General has stated that it is a lucky baby who continues to nurse until age two. (Novello 1990)
  • The World Health Organization emphasizes the importance of nursing up to two years of age or beyond (WHO 1992, WHO 2002).
  • Scientific research by Katherine A. Dettwyler, PhD shows that 2.5 to 7.0 years of nursing is what our children have been designed to expect (Dettwyler 1995).

References [see also position statements supporting breastfeeding]

MOTHERS also benefit from nursing past infancy
  • Extended nursing delays the return of fertility in some women by suppressing ovulation (References).
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer (References). Studies have found a significant inverse association between duration of lactation and breast cancer risk.
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of ovarian cancer (References).
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of uterine cancer (References).
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of endometrial cancer (References).
  • Breastfeeding protects against osteoporosis. During lactation a mother may experience decreases of bone mineral. A nursing mom's bone mineral density may be reduced in the whole body by 1 to 2 percent while she is still nursing. This is gained back, and bone mineral density may actually increase, when the baby is weaned from the breast. This is not dependent on additional calcium supplementation in the mother's diet. (References).
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. (References).
  • Breastfeeding has been shown to decrease insulin requirements in diabetic women (References).
Breastfeeding moms tend to lose weight easier (References

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dr. Noelle

Noelle puts a thermometer under Noah's arm. Pretending to be a doctor, she reads the thermometer and says;

"Ma'am your boy has a fever."

She gazes at him searchingly and before giving me her diagnoses, she turns to me and asks;

"Does he eat paper and glass?"

Initially, I laugh to myself and think, "What kind of question is that?" But, after giving it a little thought, I decide to give an honest answer and I reply;
"Yes."

You don't get it? You must not be spending enough time with babies in the crawling stage.

Spending Time With God

I remember the days of being a new Christian. I could spend hours at home in prayer and bible study. Sometimes I might turn on some worship music while I just sat and meditated on God's love. Other times, I would sit quietly with my pen and notebook waiting to hear from the Lord about a particular area.

And then...

I became a mom.

As a new mother, I remember being intensely frustrated with my prayer life. It seemed like every time I would get up when it was still dark to pray, I only had enough time to utter the words "Heavenly Father" before Noelle would let out a scream loud enough to wake the entire neighborhood!

I'd try to stay up late and pray, only for her to begin crying and wanting to nurse. By the time I'd gotten her to sleep, I'd be nearly sleep myself. I would be frustrated to the point of tears, longing for the former days when I could sit in the presence of God for hours on end.

Nevertheless, as the years have passed and as the children have multiplied, I have learned to adjust. Not only have I learned that God can hear my prayers and speak to me whether I am alone in his presence for hours, or whether I am with 2 small children and nursing a baby in his presence for 15 minutes.

Sure, sometimes I feel like I really need some substantial time alone with God. Those times do happen, occasionally. However, because I have little time I can control, I have had to learn how to spend time with God in a different way.

Many times I tell my girls to play in their room and don't come out until I come get them. I pray for 15-20min in my room with the baby. During that time, I usually praise God and "unload" anything I am worried about. I'll pray for hubby or intercede for someone who has been on my mind. I ask God to speak to me and give me direction. I spend a little time meditating on some scriptures related to something I have been praying about or in an area I feel weak in. I ask for grace for that day.

Then there are times when even this is not possible. Hence, God has helped me to learn how to create an atmosphere of praise and worship in the midst of my daily chaos.

How so?

I am no expert on this; however, at this point I have managed to develop a few of strategies.

#1. We have church at home. For example, I'm standing in the kitchen washing dishes and the kids are eating lunch. I break out in a praise like this:

"Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah! Lord, I thank you. If it wasn't for you, we wouldn't have any food to eat. If it wasn't for you we would have anywhere to live! Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah!..."

I'll go one like this praising God aloud and then I might start to testify to the kids about things God has done for us.

"Hey! God had been so good to us! There was a time we didn't have any money to put gas in the car and God provided it...There was a time we were in a car accident and how God protected us...Let me tell you how he has healed us, kept us, blessed daddy on his job..."

Then we go back to praising God. The kids like this and they praise God with me.

#2. We utilize praise and worship music. I'll turn on some worship music in the midst of our cleaning or schooling etc, and begin to sing along. I'll sing along, "Oh Lord, your beautiful!.. There's nobody like you!..." I usually "get lost" in the praise and worship. The children either join in or just watch me.

#3. We have "praise breaks" throughout the day. I'll randomly tell them, "Come on let's give God some praise!" We begin to either sing a praise song from church and/or we praise God while we will jump up and down and dance for God. This is a light hearted and fun time. The children really get into this!

I realize that my children may not understand everything I am doing or saying during these times. But, my goal is to be able to stay in fellowship with God and for my children to learn how to fellowship with God by watching me do so.

Matthew 18:20 says,
"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
James 4:8 says,
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.
I believe that as I draw close to God in the midst of the children and the work he has given me as a wife and mother, he is also drawing closer to me. As a result, my children and I can enjoy his presence together.

I was inspired as I listened to a preacher explain how their Christian home life and upbringing influenced their perception of God;

"People mock the church a lot today. But, we experienced something real...We watched our mothers prophesy at home. We watched the anointing flow in the kitchen. So this is real to us...that kind of presence(God's) let us know that He's not just in the church...It put a fear of God in us everywhere we went."

By fear the preacher meant a reverence for God. This is what I want for my children. I want them to experience the presence and the anointing of God at home and as a result, understand how awesome and powerful God really is. I want them to hear me pray and then see first hand how God answers those very prayers.

I want them to see that mama doesn't wait until Sunday to suddenly get all "emotional" and "pious" at church. But, that mama is praising, worshiping, and depending on God every day of the week.

I want them to know that this is real. That God is real. And that he is not just God on Sunday at church, but that his power and his presence is everywhere, all the time.

So, although I do miss those long hours alone in the presence of God, I realize that this season of my life affords me the opportunity to give my children a strong spiritual foundation by bringing them along with me into that presence, for their sake and mine!


Here are the links to 2 wonderful articles on this topic:

Help! Mommydom Leaves Me No Time For God!

By Example

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The 12 Days of a Large Family Christmas

There is a woman who I run into from time to time. She is a Christian. She is an older woman. Every time I see her she asks me if I am pregnant.

The last time we ran into each other, she asked me the usual. And then, in a very concerned tone, she pleaded with me saying, "You're such a beautiful girl. Enjoy your husband. Enjoy your children. Enjoy your life. Don't have anymore children. Once you have so many you don't have any 'me time!'"

She asked me how many children I had already. I told her 3. So, she tried her best to talk some sense into me again saying, "Okay, well let that be it!"

So, in honor of her and all of the other concerned people at the grocery store, the mall, etc, I thought this song would be appropriate.

Enjoy!


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tis the Season

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Tis the season for miracles, right? And who can't think of at least one situation in which they could use a miracle?

I'm sure we all could use our own fair share of miraculous, against-all-odds, way-out-of-no-way, acts of God. Nevertheless, many times, in order for us to experience something miraculous, we must choose faith over facts.

Hebrews 11:1 says,

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.(NIV)

On the other hand, a fact is,

Knowledge or information based on read occurrences.

Facts are based on what we can see. Faith is based on what we can't see. Faith chooses to "see" what is not there.

Faith doesn't make sense. It is not logical. It goes against all of our senses, and simply believes the unbelievable.

I can remember times in my life when I needed faith, and (lots of it!) in order to receive certain blessings and promises from God. When I look back, now that God has already brought the things I was believing him for to pass, I think "Wow! How did I get the faith for that!"

I remember that during those times, I was focused and determined. I had my eyes fixed on God and who he was, not the facts and what things looked like. I spoke God's word and I praised him for doing what I was believing him to do before he actually did it!

Sure, I looked "crazy," at the time, but it was well worth it.

Often times, those kinds of experiences with God secure your faith and love for him and cause you to grow beyond what you could have ever imagined.

What are some times you've had to choose faith over facts? What happened? How were you able to build your faith during that time?




Monday, December 7, 2009

Laughing Bride Tells All

Watch below to view one couple's hilarious wedding video and hear their amazingly-beautiful story of courtship and sexual purity!




Benefits of Abstinence

1. Clear conscience with God.

2. Peace of mind in your life and future relationships, and marriage.

3. More self-respect and more respect for each other and respected by other people.

4. Always remember, in a healthy relationship, respect precedes love. And premarital sex only throws away your self respect and your partner's.

5. You enter marriage with a more positive outlook and without carrying emotional baggage.

6. Personal freedom for both of you and your (future) marriage partner.

7. Significantly better chance in having more satisfying and more stable marriage.

8. Longer lasting relationship. Premarital sex surprisingly breaks up more dating couples than any other factor.

9. No comparing or being compared sexually in marriage. It also means "being free to enjoy maximum sex, maximum leisure, maximum satisfaction, and maximum liberty, in the way God intended" that is in the covenant of marriage.

10. No worries about pregnancy and STDs.

11. Less worries about bad reputation.

12. It's a fact that persons and couples who have premarital sex are more likely to have extramarital affairs as well.

13. Premarital sex often fools a person into marrying someone who really isn't right for them...

Click here to read more benefits and to learn more on Sexual Purity.

Friday, December 4, 2009

My Husband Rocks Friday


Remember the post I wrote about hubby's job? Maybe you don't.

Well, hubby works as the Director of College Counseling at the first all-boy's charter school in Chicago. In 2010 the school will graduate it's first class. What has been their goal? To ensure that 100% of those boys are accepted to college.

100% of the students are African American and many of them come from single-parent, low-income households. If you know anything about this population, you may realize that the odds of them graduating high school, let alone college, is very slim.

Nevertheless, at Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men: We Believe

Hubby, in particular, believes that all things are possible and has prayed hard and worked hard to do everything in his power to prepare these young men for college.

And I do mean worked. Worked sick. Worked frustrated. Worked discouraged. Worked exhausted. Worked on weekends. Worked all night. Worked in wee hours of the morning. Worked at work. Worked at home. Worked at church. Worked in the car. Worked when people were watching. Worked when no one was watching. Worked to do what was needed. Worked to go above and beyond what was needed. Worked with help. Worked with no help.

He values the work he does and comes home many nights beaming at the success of a boy's academic and/or personal endeavours. He genuinely wants to see them succeed and often tells them, "Our success is tied."

This school year has been very challenging with 115 seniors needing to apply to college. Nevertheless, admissions letters and scholarship offers are already rolling in.

Hubby has learned how to work as unto the Lord and many times with little recognition.

However, last night, one of his students happened to post a picture of him in a album on Facebook with a caption that read:
Shout out to this man making a lot of things possible in my life, from the Chicago Freedom School to the Ghana trip and getting all of us into college! Thanks Hutchinson!
From that, over 20 comments were written in response to the photo and the caption many of them by students from the school echoing thanks to hubby for the way his work has affected their lives.

I've posted the picture and some of my favorite comments below.



Dion Steele, Sean O'Brien, Esteban LivinAcrazilife Wright and 11 others like this.


Yesterday at 7:36pm
Terrell Hines
Terrell Hines
Hutch is tha MAN!

Yesterday at 7:46pm
Marco <span class=

Yesterday at 7:50pm
<span class=
Coreybossman Rowe
yeah hutch keep doin ya thing!!!

Yesterday at 8:03pm
Gerald Stat Jackson
Gerald Stat Jackson
a realll talk.. if it wasnt for well of course me for doing my work, but mr. hutchinson!! he gave me that confidence that i was missing at my last school, i have been accepted to five schools so far, and he tells me i can do better..he tells me i can do better then chicago state, HBCU's ,etc and tells me everyday to shoot hire n hire n hire..thanks... See More hutchinson for making things possible for us, sending our applications for us ( which you dont have to do) , thanks for sending stuff ON TIME !!,, thanks

Yesterday at 8:10pm
Ahmad <span class=
Ahmad TurnedUp Wright
yeah we couldnt do it without you...thanks alot

Yesterday at 8:20pm
Darrelle <span class=
Darrelle DatDude Banks
I really do appreciate it

Yesterday at 8:28pm
Marco <span class=
Marco Letthetruthbetold Gibson
We love u big boy lol

Yesterday at 8:29pm
Marlon Marshall
Marlon Marshall
Hutch you are greatly appreciated. You have a huge part in us being successful. Words cannot express how thankful I am. Nor can money. Therefore, I will pay you back by graduating from college and making something of myself. Thanks.

Yesterday at 8:38pm
Milan <span class=
Milan SwSm Byrdwell
OUR SUCCESS IS TIED, and OUR SUCCESS IS LOOKING GREAT


Yesterday at 8:40pm
Isaac <span class=
Isaac Welch
Hutch be comin through tho

Yesterday at 8:42pm
John Warren
John Warren
Lol, Isaac u a fool, but yea Hutch man I appreciate u man, I look at you as a father because u have been there for me so many times when I was goin through


Yesterday at 9:13pm
Cameron <span class=
Cameron Ochouno Barnes
Thanks a lot Hutch u were always there for me. I really appreciate you for taking your time out to help young black men get to college. Before UP you had a great job at Northwestern but you chose us. That shows that you really care about us and expect us to go to college. I also want to thank you for the various study abroad programs I was chosen to go on over the years. I've learned a lot from those programs and yourself. Once again thanks alot.

Yesterday at 9:26pm
Jessie Mack
Jessie Mack
Thanks Hutch you that best you never gave up on me and you continue to push to the place where I know I should be. Thanks Again.

Yesterday at 9:59pm
Greg Casanova Sash
Greg Casanova Sash
yea i agree hutch has done soo much wit getting me into college i cant imagine where i wud be wit getting into colloge without dat guy



Well, you heard it. Hubby, you are "tha man!" and I am a one proud wife;)


"Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.

For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee." (Psalm 128:1).



Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful

I'm thankful for many things in my life. However, today I have a one track mind.

I'm thankful...


...that God bless me with the money to buy want I wanted to eat.

...that I didn't have to cook it all.

...that it taste good.

...for the teeth to chew it.

...and the tongue to taste it!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What's for Dinner?

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After many trips to various stores, I now finally have everything I need to start cooking our Thanksgiving Dinner.

Here's our menu:

  • Turkey
  • Pot Roast
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Greens
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Dressing
  • Dinner Rolls
  • Sweet Potato Pie
  • Vanilla Ice Cream
Mmmm...I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!

So, what's for Thanksgiving Dinner at your house?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Life at 4

Noelle's 4th birthday was not only fun, but quite unforgettable!




































We started the day with a mad dash to the a morning show of Alice in Wonderland at the Stahl Family Theater.

Once the performance was over and the actors had taken they're bow, Alice surprised us all by announcing that it was Noelle's birthday. She called her to the stage and everyone in the auditorium sang Happy Birthday to her!

Poor thing. You should have seen her face. The girl was in a state of pure shock!

Here is a picture of her and Bella with some of the actors.



After the performance, we went to Dunkin Donuts for munchkins and iced coffee (because what would be a birthday without iced coffee?)

Later, we stopped at Target (because what would be a birthday without a trip to Target?)



In the evening, we had cake, ice cream, and the birthday girl opened her gifts.

Before she went to bed I said to her, "The Lord really blessed you, huh?"

She replied, "Yeah, I got everything I always wanted."

Ah, life at 4...so simple, yet so extraordinary.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Noelle!

Today is Noelle is turning 4 years old! I am dedicating this post to all things Noelle.







































































About Noelle:

  • Noelle was born a few days before Thanksgiving and a week past her due date.
  • Noelle practically skipped crawling entirely and walked at 9 months.
  • She was an early social smiler.


Noelle's Likes:

  • Noelle loves to help others and to learn new things.
  • She doesn't like to leave home without her purse.
  • Her favorite devotion song is "God is a good God."
  • She never passes up a good game of "Hide and Seek."
  • She never passes up a good powdered sugar donut.
  • She loves the entire concept of Birthdays and is genuinely excited when anyone has one (so you can imagine how she feels today!).


Things we love about Noelle:

  • Her adorable dimple!
  • Her vibrant and friendly personality.
  • The way she initiates helping at the grocery store by putting items in the cart and on the checkout counter.
  • The way she randomly tells us she loves us throughout the day.
  • Her polite demeanor and the way she always remembers to say grace before she eats.
We love you Noelle! Happy Birthday!

Simple Meals for Busy Moms


Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking is hosting the Nourishing Crockpot Carnival. Over 50 bloggers have jumped at the opportunity to share their favorite crockpot recipes!

You can share your own or just browse through the links to find new ones to try. Enjoy!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Words from the Wise



The picture above is of Maggie Erber teaching a seminar at the 2009 Mother Daughter Tea. Maggie is the mother of 8 children & grandmother of 7.

I had the pleasure of hearing her share some of her experiences and wisdom on motherhood at the 2009 Tea. Below are some of the notes I took during Maggie's seminar. I hope that they will be as much of a blessing to you as they were to me.

*Please Note: I am paraphrasing her words, these are not quotes.


When you're feeling overwhelmed...

  • We honor God by continuing on the path he put us on, even when its hard, knowing that God has a plan for us.

  • When you're feeling overwhelmed, just do the next right thing that is in front of you (that may be praying, cooking dinner, or giving the baby a bath). That's the thing you have grace for.

When you're losing perspective...

  • God says that holiness is beautiful. When we think like God, then holiness is beautiful to us(Psalm 29).

  • A mother sacrificing her life to take care of her children is beautiful. (Titus 2 & Proverbs 31).

When you're struggling to have a good attitude...

  • The fruit of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galations 5:2).

  • Doing daily tasks with joy and the fruit of the spirit shows your children that holiness is beautiful and enjoyable. It causes your children to want to walk in the same path.

  • You may not feel like doing it, but actions lead and feelings follow.

When you're feeling like an inadequate parent...

  • Even though you see your faults, teaching your children to honor you, teaches them to honor God.

  • Teaching them to obey your low patient voice, prepares them to obey God's still small voice.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

In the mood for a little...

...praise and worship?

There's nothing like a little praise and worship music playing behind the daily noise of dishes banging, children playing, and dinner cooking!

The video below is of the artists from the Glory Revealed record. They are singing an awesome version of Mighty to Save on TBN.

Artists include: Candi Pearson, Mac Powell (from Third Day;) and Shane and Shane.

The chorus says,
My Saviour, He can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to save,
He is Mighty to save.
Forever, Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave,
Jesus conquered the grave.

Had a rough day? Go ahead and push play. Then turn up the volume, lift your hands, sing along, and worship Him right in the middle of the kitchen! You'll feel better.



Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The 3 Amigos


Since Noah has been getting around on all fours, he and his sisters have become an unstoppable force!

You can tell that he thinks he is "in" by the way his face lights up and his legs kick whenever he hears their giggles coming near. Hubby and I have been getting a good laugh out of seeing the way he trails behind them from room to room, trying to get in on the "action."

I don't think I grasped the joy I would feel as a parent, watching my children develop a strong bond with each other. My only reservation about their playing is that the girls seem to already have a tendency to designate my baby boy as "the monster" during their play. The nerve!

Of course, this only causes me to want to have another boy in order to even out the playing field;)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Why I Love Being Married #1: I Look *Good*


I've concluded that there are some things that can only occur in the context of this holy, sacred, kinship-forming, gift from God called marriage.

There are just some things that can only carry a certain weight when coming from one spouse to another. No other human bond can match it.

Take this conversation I had with hubby for instance...

Hubby returned today from a weekend in Texas. In the midst of our catching up on each other's lives, our conversation took a turn like this:

Me: (feeling sorry for myself) "Yeah, I've been dieting all weekend. I actually have a hunger headache, like right now."

Hubby: "Honey, you've had 3 babies. You look good."

Me: "No, but I..."

Hubby: (cutting me off mid-sentence and looking me straight in the eye) "Babe, you look GOOD!"

Me: (holding my head a little higher) "Oh...okay."

Well then, I guess that settles that. I look GOOD.

See what I mean? Now, pass the chocolate!



Friday, November 6, 2009

A Fresh Spin on a Time-Honored Classic


Our librarian introduced us to this very comical, new version of Chicken Little by Rebecca and Ed Emberley.

The girls and I love the bold and colorful illustrations and even I have to laugh out loud at this book's sheer silliness!

If you're looking for a good "Thanksgiving read" for your little ones, you might want to check it out.

"Chicken Little was not the brightest chicken in the coop. He was very excitable and prone to foolishness.

One day he was doing nothing, his usual pastime, when an acorn fell from the sky and hit him on the head. BONK! EEP!" (pg.1)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Kids and Chores

Recently, I posted Noelle and Bella's Reward Chart on the wall. They receive stickers for doing their chores which include; making their beds, and putting away their toys, books, and clothes. It may not seem like much, but its a start.

I hope to instill a value and appreciation for hard work in my children (and keep my home a little cleaner;) by setting an expectation for them to do chores as they grow up.

Below is a helpful article by Christine Field that explains what chores are age-appropriate.

Teaching Your Children How to Work


by: Christine Field


Age Appropriateness: What Can Your Child Do?

OK, you are looking down at your eighteen-month-old toddler and saying, "Sounds great, but I guess it will have to wait." Not so. A child of that age can be asked to fetch items, fold washcloths, pick up toys, and carry plastic dishes to and from the table. We can ask and train, even at this age. And as they mature, our children are capable of much, much more.

The following chart gives some ideas of what is possible at what ages. These are merely guidelines—your child may do more or less. Knowing that learning life skills is a process, don't expect perfection from him. The intent here is to give you ideas to try out in your family.

Age-Appropriate Chores for Children

Ages 2-3
  • Begin to dress self
  • Put silverware in dishwasher
  • Help make bed—at least pull covers up
  • Help feed animals
  • Help wipe up spills
  • Pick up toys
  • Dry unbreakable dishes
  • Hang clothing on hooks
  • Sweep
  • Carry laundry to and from laundry area
  • Bring in newspaper
  • Mop a small area
  • Help fold towels
  • Pour from a small pitcher
  • Empty light trash cans
  • Pull weeds
  • Dust
  • Fetch diapers
  • Carry plate to sink after meals
  • Help pick up living room

Ages 4-5

  • Dress self
  • Help in kitchen—stirring, ripping lettuce, drying dishes
  • Make own bed
  • Clear dishes from table
  • Help carry and put away groceries
  • Set table
  • Retrieve the mail
  • Wash toys when needed
  • Dust
  • Help rake yard
  • Water plants
  • Help wash car and clean interior
  • Sweep patio
  • Sort clean clothes by family member
  • Wash floors, low walls with sponge
  • Sort dirty clothes by color
  • Put away own clothes—put dirty clothes in hamper
  • Hang towels after bath
  • Help load dishwasher

Ages 6-12

  • Make bed
  • Straighten up house
  • Take care of pets—clean cages and feed them
  • Wash, dry, and put away dishes
  • Clean bathroom completely
  • Cook simple foods—use simple recipes
  • Rake leaves, shovel snow
  • Weed and water garden
  • Make school lunches
  • Use washer and dryer
  • Help with yard work
  • Take out trash
  • Help wash car
  • Strip and change beds
  • Wash, hang, and fold laundry
  • Iron
  • Vacuum, sweep, and mop
  • Polish shoes

Ages 13 and up

  • Any of the above, plus:
  • Cook meals
  • Change light bulbs
  • Do all laundry functions
  • Replace vacuum cleaner bag
  • Iron clothes
  • Wash inside and outside windows
  • Do clothes mending, repairs
  • Mow lawn
  • Clean out refrigerator
  • Trim yard
  • Clean stove and oven
  • Wash and polish car
  • Prepare a meal
  • Maintain a bicycle—fill tires with air, oil squeaks
  • Make grocery lists
  • Shop for groceries
  • Help paint and caulk


Footnotes:
Ages five to twelve or so are golden years for teaching children at home. These kids are increasingly capable and yet not too preoccupied with school and extracurricular activities. Make sure you start to give both boys and girls the opportunity to do outside chores and to do maintenance-type tasks with Dad. Don't neglect teaching both your son and your daughter to do chores inside the home, like cooking and cleaning. You will shortchange them for life if you do.[back]


Excerpted from Life Skills for Kids by Christine M. Field, Copyright © 2000 Chris Field. Used by permission of Shaw Books, an imprint of WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, Colo. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Timeless Glamour...

...is now 15% off!

Check out the sale going on at Christa~Taylor!