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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve Play

Unfortunately, we didn't make it to Noelle's Sunday School Christmas play last week. She was supposed to be the sheep and was disappointed that we didn't make it. Hubby and I felt bad too. As a result, hubby promised her that we would have a play at home, in which she could be the sheep.

Thus, last night (after very little planning:) we put on a little play during our annual Christmas Eve tradition of Chinese food! We added pizza and ribs to the menu this year, and once everyone was full, the entertainment began. My parents were the audience.

Baby Jesus is Born
Luke 2:1-7
Cast:

Joseph: Kenneth

Mary: LaSandra

Baby Jesus: Noah

The Sheep: Noelle, Bella, and Caleb

Inn Keeper: Ricky

The man who helped Mary and Joseph: Ross

Narrator: Tiffany

Costumes: Tiffany and LaSandra

Song: "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"

As you will see, this was so funny, it was hard for us to keep our composure:)

Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Today is the Anniversary!

I held Noah in my lap the other day and told him the story of the night we found out he was a boy. That was so special for hubby and I because we had earnestly prayed for a son. Today is the 2-year anniversary of that night and I still feel the excitement every time I think about it!

Do you remember it too? You can re-live the moment by clicking here!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Confident Homemaker

When I was in college, I majored in Social Policy. There were students in my Social Policy classes that struggled to understand the concepts; but it seemed as though my life experiences and way of thinking made that field of study a perfect fit for me.

On the other hand, in order to graduate, I was required to take a certain number of science and math classes. In those classes, I felt lost. No matter how many office hours I attended or how many tutorial sessions I sat in on, I was always very slow to catch on. Still, with a lot of work and the help of the Lord, I was able to at least get a passing grade out of those classes.

When I think back to college, I realize that everybody was not good at everything. Although I am sure there was great ability shown in every academic department; I know that every individual was not showing stellar ability in every academic department. People had their niche. People majored in their areas of interest and in areas in which they excelled. That was the way it was. It made sense and no one seemed to have a problem with it.

When I think back to those good ole' college days, I remember feeling comfortable when it came to my academic strengths and weaknesses. I knew where I flourished and I focused my energy on those areas. In other areas, I did what was necessary to perform adequately; however, if I wasn't going to beat myself up over not getting straight A's in those areas. When it comes to homemaking, I realize that I need to approach things with a similar attitude.

In her book, "The Confident Woman" author Joyce Meyer writes, "Confident people do not concentrate on their weaknesses; they develop and maximize their strengths." She goes on to explain that while we should know what are weaknesses are, it is not conceited to think about what you are good at. As homemakers, it is easy to focus on what we don't do well. What we didn't accomplish during the day. What goals we still have not met. We also begin to look at others around us and what they do well and feel bad if we don't seem to flourish in the same areas. Focusing on these things will only leave us drained and discouraged.

On the other hand, what would happen if we focused on the opposite? What if we said "Hey, I fall behind on laundry, but I do a great job at menu planning!" or "I may not find paying the bills an exciting task, but I am great at planning and executing family traditions!"? Of course, the laundry and bill paying are important and need to be done. Still, if I tend to fall behind in those areas, I shouldn't judge my entire ability to be a good homemaker based on that! I can grow in those areas that I am weak in enough to do a good job for my family until God moves me into another season of life. Still, those areas may never be my niche. God has not called every individual to have a niche in every area.

Look at the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12 says:

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit...

...For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will...

For the body is not one member, but many.

If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him."

Now, God has given us all different spiritual gifts and abilities, and he expects us to be content with not having them all. So, why should I feel bad if I do not have every natural gift, as it relates to homemaking? God has not made me a natural at every homemaking task, and that is okay. I can still be a confident and efficient homemaker without trying to be the same kind of homemaker as someone else. Our homes will look and function differently because we have different strengths and weaknesses.

Meyer writes, "Make a list of what you are good at and rehearse it daily until you gain confidence in your abilities. Thinking about what you are good at is not conceited; it is merely preparation to do your job with confidence." She explains that anything we are good at is because God has gifted us in that area.

I want to approach homemaking with more confidence as we approach this new year. Thus, I have chosen to start my own list of strengths in order to stay encouraged and to further develop these areas.

Some of the strengths I listed are directly related to my family life and others are more general strengths that I believe God has given me. Here is my list:

I am good at encouraging others.
I am a supportive wife.
I enjoy daily devotion with my children.
I am a loyal friend.
I can admit when I am wrong.
I am good at keeping my children well-groomed and healthy.
I enjoy reading aloud to my children.
I am a good public speaker.
I am good with directions.
I have strong communication skills.
I enjoy listening about my husband's day.
I am good at planning and executing fun and memorable family events/traditions.
I am a good writer.
I am good at long-term planning.
I acknowledge when I need help.
I laugh with my husband and children everyday.
I am determined.
I get along well with most people.


This list is a start for me as I continue to seek God about what his will is for my family and home and how he desires to use my gifts and strengths to be a blessing to my husband and children.

If you had to make a list of strengths, what would you write?



Wednesday, December 15, 2010

In which I (d)evoultionize.

Currently, I'm at the point of the one sitting on the floor with her head slumped down. But, in just five short weeks I'll finally reach the point of that last one lying on her back!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

He's a Wonder

won·der (wndr)

n.

a. One that arouses awe, astonishment, surprise, or admiration; a marvel.

b. The emotion aroused by something awe-inspiring, astounding, or marvelous.

2. An event inexplicable by the laws of nature; a miracle.








Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Apple Pickin' We Went

It started snowing on Tuesday, which reminded me that fall 2010 is just about officially behind us!

Although I wasn't able to post as many pictures as I would have liked, let the record show: our family had a beautiful fall this year! With moving into our first home, keeping up our family tradition of going to the apple orchard, and having a terrific costume-themed party for Noelle's 5th birthday, I think this is one fall our family will cherish for years to come!

Thankfully, my good friend Tiffany took some great shots of our trip to County Line Orchard this year!















Monday, November 29, 2010

Twice the Fun

Is it just me or is everybody pregnant?!

It seems like I have close friends who are pregnant, friends of friends who are pregnant, blogger friends who are pregnant, blogger friends daughters who are pregnant, etc, etc! People just seem to be pregnant everywhere!

Of course, I realize that because I'm pregnant, I am more aware of others who are pregnant. Technically, we are pregnant together. So, maybe this explains why it seems like there are many people pregnant right now. But, this is not the only strange thing going on.

Not only does it seem like many people around me are pregnant, but I have two close friends who are both pregnant with twins! What are the odds of that?! Who has twins? How do I have two close friends (who were not on fertility drugs) who are pregnant with twins at the same time?

[Photo Credit: AMERICANVIRUS]

I've always said there was no way I'd want twins unless I was able to hire a live in nanny;) Still, I think twins are SO cute and I am very excited for them both of my friends. Their news sparked a curiosity in me to learn more about the chances of having twins.

Here is some information I found on the Baby Center:

While identical twins generally happen by sheer chance, there are several factors that influence your chances of having fraternal twins:

Heredity: If you're a twin or if twins run in your family, you're slightly more likely to have a set yourself. Women who are fraternal twins have a one in 60 chance of bearing twins.

Race: Twins are more common than average in African Americans and less common in Hispanics and Asians.

Age: The older you are, the higher your chances of having fraternal twins or higher-order multiples. A 2006 study found that women over 35 produce more follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) than younger women. Ironically, increasing levels of this hormone are a sign of failing ovaries and declining fertility. But FSH is also the hormone that causes an egg to ripen in preparation for ovulation each month, and women with extra FSH may release more than one egg in a single cycle. So while older women are statistically less likely to get pregnant, if they do get pregnant, they're more likely to have twins.

Number of Pregnancies: The more pregnancies you've had, the greater your chances of having twins.

History of Twins: Once you have a set of fraternal twins, you're twice as likely to have another set in future pregnancies.

Body Type: Twins are more common in large and tall women than in small women.


How about you? Do you have twins or have you ever had the desire to have twins?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!

We are SO elated and grateful to be spending this Thanksgiving in our new home. Moreover, I am SO elated and grateful that my pregnancy hunger will might finally be satiated by good food I have looked forward to all year!

When we were in our apartment, there was virtually no counter space. So, I'm sure you can imagine the fun we had bumping into each other and trying to cook Thanksgiving meals with pans, bowls, etc stacked on top on the stove, the refrigerator and any other flat surface we could find! This year we are blessed to have plenty of counter space and a island in the middle of our kitchen! Praise God!

We are having some family over this afternoon and later going to my Aunt's house to continue our feasting. I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving Day with a thankful heart and a praise on your lips!

Happy Thanksgiving!

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. -Psalm 136:1

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Quotes

I'm a talkative person. Thus, it can take me quite a few words to explain my thoughts. However, I often find that men just have a way of putting things that gets straight to the point and makes things plain.

For instance:

"Hey! You have a lot to be thankful for this year; a beautiful house, beautiful children, a husband you ain't gotta dig out the tavern!"

~ My Dad

"About to enjoy Thanksgiving in my new house with my wife and kids...ain't nobody mad but the devil."

~ Hubby's Facebook status

Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy 5th Birthday Noelle!

Today is Noelle's 5th birthday! I can't believe how much our lives have changed since we've had this little one around! Just 5 years ago, we were in a 1-bedroom apartment and having our own personal financial "recession." We call it "The Recession of 2005." The day we would be expecting our 4th child and living in our first home seemed far away, if not impossible back then!

Noelle was a week late and I was scheduled for an induction on the 19th. Nevertheless, I started having contractions around 4am on the morning of the 18th. It was a slow labor and the finale at the end came as a unpleasant surprise when my epidural wore off on one side of my body!

The epidural was given to me again before I was too far dilated and was working fine by the time I had to push. I was NOT ready for a natural birth at that point! Still, I thank God for the beautiful baby girl I had when it was all over.

Noelle is becoming so helpful and is doing a wonderful job learning new things and getting her chores done. I think she likes being the "big sister" and looks out for he younger siblings. She is a joy to have around.

Noelle named 5 things she was thankful for today.

Noelle is thankful for...

1. ...being 5!

2. ...her new room!

3. ...her new baby sister!

4. ...having a costume party!

5. ...the time she got her face painted!

Happy Birthday Noelle!










Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday



Perhaps I'l recreate this image when hubby gets home from work this evening:)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A New Agenda


Oprah Winfrey's interview with former President George W. Bush was filled with interesting political dialogue and enlightening information.

The former President's sense of humor really came out during the interview and I had a few good laughs. My favorite part was this little story he shared about his first day off with his wife, Laura after President Obama's Inauguration:


"So I'm lying on the couch and she walks in. I said, 'Free at last' and she said, 'Yeah, you're free alright. You're free to do the dishes.' I said, 'You're talking to the former president, baby!' And she said, 'Consider it your new domestic policy agenda.'"

Spoken like a true wife!

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Rarity Among Television Shows


I have been frustrated on more than one occasion flipping through channels trying to find a family-friendly show that our whole family can watch. Unfortunately, I often come to the conclusion that there is just about nothing safe (including commercials) when it comes to language, sexual content, and moral messages.

Nevertheless, hubby and I had to admit last night that we can usually always count on a good episode of Extreme Makeover Home Edition to be something that our whole family can enjoy!






The show's description reads:

Keep a box of tissues handy for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition because…

A) The tears of joy WILL flow.

B) You may need to plug your ears when Ty Pennington belts out his famed "Move that bus!!!!"

...We don’t know about you, but it is what’s lurking behind that big bus which keeps us absolutely riveted from week-to-week: a house pimped out to the extreme. It's extremely uplifting, as the renovated home always belongs to a deserving family. It's extreme transformation. And it’s extremely community-oriented.

From the moment he gives his “Good Morning” wakeup call, Ty is bent on bringing neighbors together—one environmentally-friendly brick at a time. It’s a race against time on a project that would normally span several months, involving a team of designers, contractors and hundreds of workers who all have just seven days to totally rebuild an entire house!

Before you start getting all jealous, the lucky homeowners always have a heartening back-story: Heroes, community leaders, and a plethora of inspirational families are truly the heart and soul of the show. There's that saying, "home is where the heart is," and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition puts the heart right where it belongs.

*Sniff*

Now excuse us while we have a good cry.

Not only is it great to have your children see the real people helping others in need, but I love the fact that entire communities join together to make it happen. Seeing the terrible conditions that many of the families are initially living in, gives hubby and I an opportunity to say to our kids, "We should be thankful to God for what he has blessed us with."

It is also very touching to see Noelle actually cry with the featured families once they actually "move that bus" and they see the new house that they will be living in! I think this builds in them a healthy sense of empathy and a heart to "rejoice with them that do rejoice..."(Romans 12:15).

In an era where it is almost impossible to find wholesome television shows that you can watch with your children, I have to give it up to Extreme Makeover Home Edition for being a rarity among television shows!

What "family-friendly" shows do your family enjoy watching together?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Barefoot and Pregnant

[Image by: Shutter Daddy]

As I enter into the 2nd week of my 3rd trimester, I find that it is taking some extra special effort on my part not to complain. So, in efforts to not do that, I will turn my attention of some very real reasons for me to be thankful as I approach the end of this 4th pregnancy.

5 Reasons to Be Thankful in the 3rd Trimester of a 4th Pregnancy:

1. Believe it or not, I have unwittingly just about mastered the art of peeing in a cup.

2. I know exactly which arm has the "good vain" in it, which makes me a ray of sunshine for whichever tech has to draw my blood.

3. I have become quite a treat when it comes to interesting conversation for my midwives. When it comes pregnancy, birth, and post partum care, we find that I have stories. They have stories. I have stories. They have stories. We laugh, we joke, we could go on for hours!

4. I have come to terms with the fact that there is a special "wrath" I seem to direct toward hubby at the end of each pregnancy that really has nothing to do with him at all. Therefore, making it a bit easier to dismiss my misjudgements and to occasionally have a good laugh with him over how he can do no right in my hormone-clouded eyes.

5. I can rest assured that although the next few months may hold more aches and pains, a larger belly, and some sleepless nights, my vulnerability will inevitably draw me closer to the Lord. Besides, he really is the only one who is able to bear my attitude and my whining by the end of the pregnancy anyway. But, I know he cares and will carry me through, as he always does.

What about you? What kinds of things are you usually thankful for my the 3rd trimester of a pregnancy?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Around the Blogosphere

Don't you just love it when you're snooping around the internet and find out about some great new blogs? I have recently learned of 3 new blogs that I am enjoying and I thought I'd share them with you.

Yeye Says is a blog written by a friend of mine from college. She has always been hilarious and transparent and that combination comes across beautifully at her new blog.

She explains her blog by writing:

"Yeye Says is where I write about my experiences an thoughts, as well as connect with other mothers for support, advice, laughs, and camaraderie. Let’s talk babies, mother-wife balance, attachment parenting, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, vegetarianism."

Stuff and Nonsense is written by Alison, a wife and homeschooling mom of 4 children. She explains how she picked the name for her blog by writing:

"Stuff and Nonsense is a phrase from the book Anne of Green Gables that I adore. It was Marilla's way of saying, "Now that's just silly." To me the phrase struck a chord as a great way to describe our everyday life. Silly. And I'm okay with that because our home here on this planet is temporary and ephemeral. But while we're here we try and fill it with love and gusto.
So you have been warned. Read at your own peril."

Christian Children's Book Review was created by a group of Christian moms who explain:

"We're Christian moms who not only love books, but love helping our kids learn to love books - and the Lord. This blog is our ministry, started because we couldn't find a comprehensive website of Christian children's picture book reviews. We hope you find it useful."



Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Moving From Fear to Faith



Let me tell you: the process of buying our new home was no piece of cake! In fact, I would describe the process as both long and grueling. Nevertheless, this process was one of the major life events that not only tested my faith, but brought me into a new understanding of the Lord.

Does God care about how long this is taking? Does he see how overwhelmed I am? What does he think? What lesson am I suppose to be learning? How do I get out of this test? What does God want from me? Am I believing enough? Am I doing enough? What is God's plan in this situation?

Oh friends, these are just some of the questions that raced through my mind as we went through many ups and downs during the homebuying process. I can't say that my faith was as strong as it should have been at each point. But, I continued to grow.

It would take me endless hours to really explain in great detail all the times and ways that the Lord showed up and worked out "the kinks" in order to get us to that great closing date. So, I will just tell you that he was awesome and faithful and on time;)

Furthermore, the following quote by Nancy Leigh DeMoss really captures some of lessons and insights I gained throughout the process. I love this quote and I have found it to be so true!

Worship God. Trust Him. Let Him teach you. Let Him speak.

Stop complaining. Stop wrestling. Stop doubting. Stop questioning God.

God is not indifferent, as Habakkuk had thought that maybe He was. God is not insensitive. God is not impotent. God is not passive.

God is in His holy temple. God is on His throne. God is in control, and God isn't just this great, cosmic God in control of the universe who somehow is letting the little details and circumstances of your life slip through.

He's not asleep. He's awake. He's alert. He's alive. He's active.

He's working in your life, on your behalf, in your circumstances, in your home, in your church, in your world. God is on His throne, so be quiet.

Don't fret. Don't be perturbed. Don't be disturbed. Don't be anxious.

In His perfect time, He will accomplish His purposes, so in the meantime, stand before Him in humble silence, in reverence, in awe. Trust in Him. The righteous shall live by his faith.


~Nancy Leigh DeMoss from the series Habakkuk: Moving From Fear to Faith

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A sad day...

in the world of modest fashion.

Perhaps you have heard that Christa~Taylor will be closing its online store on December 30th. You can check out her blog for more details.

Her store will be greatly missed by many; however, she explains on her blog that she is trying to follow the leading of the Lord in this and that she will actually be a "personal consultant" to any young woman interested in starting a online clothing store!

If you are interested in buying anything else from the store, you will pleased to find that all prices have been slashed!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mission: D & D

Imagine an inner-city gal turned surbanite.

What is happening here? You mean I don't have to drive around the block for 30 minutes only to find a parking space 4 blocks from my apartment? You mean I don't have to carry my groceries up 3 flights of stairs? What? No carrying 3 sleep children up those same stairs on nights we come home late? You mean to tell me there is no debris outside my door unless I put it there? Huh? No graffiti? No homeless guy sleeping in the entryway of the apartment? What is this strange land?

Okay, okay. As you can see, I am enjoying my new home and my new neighborhood. However, I do have a confession to make: after being here for a few weeks, I was beginning to really, really, really, miss one inner-city luxury: being able to walk 3 short blocks to Dunkin Donuts from my aparment.

Hubby has been driving our only mode of transportation into the city everyday to work. This leaves me home to enjoy our yard and whatever I can get to on foot: which didn't seem to be much... until today.

See, we don't live far from a major street that pretty much has everything on it once you drive west about 40mph for about 2-3 minutes. However, that street has no sidewalk and I would surely be mistaken for a pregnant hitchhiker with 3 kids if I attempted to walk down it. Not happening.

However, last week I drove east at 40 mph for about 1 minute down the same street and to my surprise, just past a long fence and a street of trees, I noticed a small strip mall. A strip mall with a Dunkin Donuts in it! "OMG! could I make it there on foot somehow?" I thought to myself.

Again, there is no sidewalk, so I knew I would have to devise a plan to take some kind of "back road." So, every time we drove home in the car, I began longing and staring in the direction of my desired destination, trying to figure out if it could be done. Today, I made my move.

After breakfast, I got the kids ready and I headed east down a residential block with fire in my eye and determination in my heart. I figured I would walk as long as I could to see if I could get to my destination in a reasonable amount of time and if not, I'd turn back. No need to torture the kids for a cup a java...yet;)

We walked about 5-6 blocks east. These blocks are not regular blocks, mind you. They are those long "suburban" blocks that equal about 1 and 1/2 city blocks. Still, we pressed on. And then: a dead end!

"Nooooooooooo!" I thought. "Its right there, but its blocked by this huge fence!" Nevertheless, I proceeded to walk toward the fence anyway. Was my plan to throw my kids and my stroller over the fence and jump it, you ask? Well, like I said, I am an inner-city gal. But no, I just still had a ray of hope in my coffee-addicted heart.

And wouldn't you know, just to the left of that fence was a small hill. And right over that hill was the parking lot of my brand new, suburban Dunkin Donuts.

Mission Accomplished.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Biggest, Most Expensive Gift

Oh gosh. It has been a while since my last post. So much has happened since my birthday and I haven't been able to update you. No, I didn't decide that my 28th birthday would be last day of blogging. However, it was the last day of alot of things. Allow me to explain...

In response to my birthday post, Tiffany wrote:

"Happy Birthday! I hope you get the biggest, best, most expensive gift you've ever received:)"

Guess what? Her wish came true. Was it chocolate? you say? Nope. Nevertheless, hubby did come through on the chocolate by bringing home a fudge brownie cheesecake!

But, this big, expensive gift was not edible. Can you guess what it might have been?
I'll give you some hints:

1. I've been hoping to get one for a long time.

2. Hubby and I picked this one out together.

3. Writer's cramp was involved in the process of getting it. But, I was happy to have it.

Have you figured it out? Here is a picture for your viewing pleasure:



The picture is small, but I am working on taking more so you can see what I see:) God is so good, I can't even process Him! The past two weeks have been full of wonderful trips to Home Depot and delightful debates over which refrigerator to buy.

I may not be able to get the blogosphere as much as I would like as we get settled, but I will keep you updated!

What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?

I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.

I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.

~Psalm 116:12-14

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

28 on the 29th!

Today is my 28th birthday!

I haven't planned to go anywhere in particular today; nevertheless, I have hopes that this day will bring some sort of chocolate my way!

Birthdays are a wonderful time to reflect on the love of Jesus. After all, I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him and I wouldn't have made it this far if it wasn't for him! So, I am jamming today to an old favorite by Kirk Franklin: Love. I especially love the version in the clip below because it features CeCe, of course:)

I'm over here thinking about all the ways God has loved and cared for me "down through the years" and singing along with Cece and Kirk; "He loves me, He loves me, He loves me." Why don't you help me celebrate by listening and joining in too!



Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Invisible Woman

Do you ever feel like your labor goes unnoticed? Do you ever feel unappreciated? Is it difficult, at times, to keep the importance of the time and investment you are making in your marriage and your children at the forefront of your mind?

Join the club.

If you are like me, and need occasional reminders of the eternal significance of your role as a wife and mother, you'll enjoy this clip. It is another good one from Nicole Johnson and I dedicate it to you "with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

~Invisible Woman by Nicole Johnson

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Swagger Wagon

(Note* This was so silly, I just couldn't resist.)

My hubby was dead set on getting an SUV instead of a minivan for a long time because he felt like he was too young to have "his style cramped" by a minivan. Hubby now has an ongoing joke with one of our friends about how he too will eventually have to "join the club" and break down and buy a minivan. Our friend holds that he will never break.

If you had to drag your husband to the dealer when you finally bought your minivan and/or if your husband says that no matter how many kids you have, he will never drive a minivan, introduce him to: The Sienna Family.

Sure, they have a minivan for the space, but they "fill it up with their swagger."


Monday, September 13, 2010

My Bestie is Crafty




My friend Tiffany is impressively crafty and quite the seamstress. She made the skirt she is wearing in this photo as well as the ruffles on that shirt. Perhaps you might remember the chef aprons and hats she made for my girls at Christmas?

For a gal like me, (who can barely sew a button on a shirt), I never cease to be amazed by Tiffany's ability to design and make new things. I especially love the fact that she has an appreciation for modest fashion and loves to give gifts (is this not the perfect combination of characteristics for a friend of mine, or what!?)

If you want to see more cute stuff from Tiffany, you'll be excited to know she has recently started a blog called Meek and Chic! Go ahead and check her out, you might become a "modest fashionista" yourself!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Joke for *Real* Coffee Drinkers


On Wednesday night I had this conversation with Noelle:
Noelle: "Mommy, I'm sick. I don't want to go to bible class tonight."

Me: "What?! Girl, don't you know that the church is a hospital? That is where you can get your healing!"

That conversation led to this conversation on Thursday morning:

Noelle: "Mommy, I'm still sick. You told me you would give me some Vicks."

Me: "I did say that. I forgot. I'll give you some later. Right now, put on your shoes so we can go to Dunkin Donuts."

Noelle: (looking baffled) "Oh. Is Dunkin Donuts a hospital?"

At first, I didn't get it. But then, I remembered the conversation we had last night. After I had a good laugh, I answered:


"Yes baby. For many, Dunkin Donuts is a hospital."



Photo Credit: The Honey Bunny

Monday, September 6, 2010

The End of a Thing

"Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit." -Ecclesiastes 7:8

I can't think of a better way to describe the end of last week than Ecclesiastes 7:8. Yesterday marked the end of my week home without hubby, and boy was I glad to see it finally arrive!

It just so happened that hubby had 3 different out of town trips scheduled all last week. He left last Sunday and was only in Chicago twice throughout the week to get more clothes and to transfer from one trip to another. He finally returned for good this Sunday.

As for me, it just so happened that this same week called for many errands and important plans to be tied up on the home front. Can I just say that after being responsible for running all over the city of Chicago to take care of business, still taking care of 3 kiddos, being 5 months pregnant, and by myself, I am convinced that there ought to be a national holiday to acknowledge the work of single-parents! Seriously, in case you were wondering: yes, division of labor is a beautiful thing!

By the end of the week, I was both frazzled and fragmented and in actual physical pain! Needless to say, I thank God for my parents and for hubby's parents who were a big help by taking care of the children while I went to my prenatal visit on Wednesday and while I "recuperated" from the week on Saturday.

I thought about using my time alone on Saturday to go get my hair done at a salon; however, I quickly realized that my aching body would benefit more from of epson salt and ice packs than deep conditioner and a curling iron. Thus, I dropped off the kids around 11am and because my motto is simple: There is no relaxation independent of iced coffee, I picked up a venti iced caffe mocha from Starbucks before going home to soak and ice.

Hubby finally returned from his final excursion on Sunday, and we met him at church. Afterwards, we went with our dear friends, the Grimes, to a great little restaurant called Take Me Out. The restaurant is known for its signature wings known as "little hotties." They are worth a trip to Pilsen if you are ever in Chicago!

Here are couple of pictures we took after dinner:



Friday, September 3, 2010

Smile



In case you've noticed, I'm "sprucing up" around here.

Initially, I have to admit that I was a bit annoyed that blogger decided to come out with all of these new and innovative ways to make your blog look better and more functional. I thought, "Pleeeeaaase, where was all of this when I was up until 3am trying to manipulate html codes all night?!" *arms crossed*

But, why be bitter, right? The more I looked at the new design features, the more I became captivated by all of the possibilities for this here blog! Thus, you have coming the fresh, new Virtuous Living!

Bear with me while things are under construction. I'm not sure how I feel about the color schemes and background just yet. Also, you may go to click on something that is supposed to be a link only to find you're still here!

Oh, you want to know what's up with that picture above? I just wanted to see how large I could make my photos on this new template. I also just think that kid in the picture is really cute and I like to look at him as much as I can;)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

He's Working It Out

I have never been a big Shirley Caesar fan, but this song got me through today.

There was so much going on and right in the midst of it all, this song just started playing in my mind. I started humming it whenever I felt stress peaking its ugly head. It really helped calm me down.

You see how God does?!! Awwww, ya'll ain't sayin' nothin'!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Girlfriends

If you want to catch me when I am least motivated to do anything remotely productive, come see me on a Monday morning. Seriously, it is then that you will find me doing anything but what I should be doing. Today was a good example of that.

I met a friend of mine at the local McDonald's so that our kids could eat and play together in the indoor playground. Meanwhile, we enjoyed some kind of coffee drink and caught up. That's kind of productive, right? I mean, I was feeding my children and arranging opportunity for physical fitness and socialization, right?

Nevertheless, I thought afterwards that it is sure is good to have friends to get together with on a Monday morning, when you are looking for a way to avoid a good day of hard work:) Furthermore, it is sure is good to have friends, period! I'm convinced they come from God!

In fact, Hubby asked me some weeks ago how I deal with stress. I mean, serious- "I can't take this anymore" -"I'm about to lose my mind" - stress. At first, I told him the obvious; "I pray, I read the bible, I listen to Christian music, I get out the house, etc". But, after I thought more about it, I told him that after I have tried those things and I am really at the edge, I call my friends.

I told him I don't even see how I would have made this far in my Christian walk without girlfriends. Most times, I call them with no expectation of them solving my issues, at all. I find it helpful just to talk about my issues or to hear that they got issues too! I can hear their kids crying in the background and that their husband had to work late, again. Or that they are fishing for new ways to save money and I can say "Whew! Okay, thanks girl. Its not just me!"

Isn't it interesting how girlfriends can see the good in your life, even when you are momentarily in the fog? It takes them to remind you, "Didn't you just tell me..." Didn't God just answer your prayer regarding..." "Girl, God will work this out, he always does!"

In addition, I find that my girlfriends never cease to amaze me. I may not share all the same interest, hobbies, or strengths that they have, but I sure am impressed by theirs and they inspire me to perfect my own. They are also a great source of laughter. You can laugh with girlfriends over stuff that men "don't get." Its so nice to have someone who "sees it your way."

For all of the reasons mentioned above, I laughed SO hard when I found this clip of Nicole Johnson!

Nicole is a "motivational entertainer" and is known for her performances, books, and DVD's about the "challenges facing today’s mega-multi-tasking woman." You can check out more from her at: Fresh Brewed Life.



Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What Husbands Wish Their Wives Knew About Men

"We talk about a man needing respect and affirmation. Probably the most powerful way you affirm your husband and show respect to him is when you respond to him sexually.

I've said to Mary Ann; "You can affirm me all day long. You can say: 'You're smart. You're handsome. How did you do that? That's great!' and at night if I say, So you interested? and she goes 'Eh, not tonight.' I go: Then why were you lying to me all day?!"

This is a small excerpt from The Power of Respect, which is part 3 of Bob Lepine's message: What Husbands Wish Their Wives Knew About Men.

This was so good I had to email it to all of my married friends! You can hear and/or purchase the entire message here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Submission Humor

Now here's a definition that might make submitting a little easier...

"Submission means: learning to duck, so God can hit your husband."

~Tony Evans

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Weekend to Remember Getaway

I don't think there is any marriage that couldn't use a little strengthening! I am praying that hubby and I can make it to the Family Life Today: Weekend to Remember Getaway in Schaumburg, IL next month!

You can check out Family Life Today to find out when a conference will be in your area! Your marriage is worth it!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Trust His Heart

Trust His Heart Lyrics



Trust His Heart, Artist - Babbie Mason from the Album - Various Songs.

All things work for our good
Though sometimes we can't see how they could
Struggles that break our hearts in two
Sometimes blinds us to the truth
Our Father knows what's best for us
His ways are not our own
So when your pathway grows dim
And you just can't see Him
Remember you're never alone

God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don't understand
When you don't see His plan
When you can't trace His hand
Trust His heart

He sees the master plan
And He holds our future in His hands
So don't live as those who have no hope
All our hope is found in Him
We see the present clearly
But He sees the first and the last
And like a tapestry He's weaving you and me to someday be
just like Him

God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don't understand
When you don't see His plan
When you can't trace His hand
Trust His heart

He alone is faithful and true
He alone knows what is best for you
So when you don't understand
When you don't see His plan
When you can't trace His hand
Trust His heart

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"Her price was everthing I had."

Below is a small segment of an interview that Nancy Leigh De moss did with Carolyn McCulley in September 2009. The two ladies had a very candid discussion about feminism and its effects on how society views sexuality.

After Nancy asks Carolyn a question about how we, as Christian women should view our sexuality, Carolyn tells this story...

Carolyn: ...I’d mentioned earlier in the show about this 15-year-old girl who had no knowledge or understanding of godly sexual relationships. I had the opportunity to introduce her to a married couple where I knew the man would be very direct. I encouraged him to talk to her very candidly about what men think of women in their sexuality and the value of modesty, the value of women who are reserved.

He looked at her, and he said, “My wife cost me everything. You need to understand something about economics in social relationships.”

He said, “If a candy bar costs a dollar, you’re just going to pay one dollar for the candy bar. You’re not going to pay two.”

He said, “So whatever value you put on yourself and access to you as a woman is the price it goes for on the market place, if you’re following me.”

He said, “I looked at my wife, and I knew that in order to have her affection, her attention, her romance, and her sexuality, I had to be able to pay everything I had. Her price was everything I had, my whole commitment to her and then some, for the rest of my life.”

Nancy: As in the covenant of marriage.

Carolyn: The covenant of marriage. That was her standard, her price. “If you want access to me, you marry me. There isn’t anything lesser than that.”

He said, “So she was no one-dollar candy bar. She was an everything-I-have candy bar, and it was worth it.”

He said, “You need to understand the value that God has given you because of who He created you to be.”


I thought this part of the interview exemplifies a beautiful and powerful approach to explaining God's will when it comes to human sexuality and the covenant of marriage. It is a message that's not heard enough in our day.


"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;...

...So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church" (Ephesians 5:25-29).

Friday, August 13, 2010

Say Cheez!

We took these pictures a couple of weeks ago, since we all looked presentable this particular day:)

When I look at these pictures, I am amazed...

#1. ...at the fact we have 3 children.
#2. ...at how fast the children have grown.
#3. ...that Bella and Noah are the girl/boy version of each other.
#4. ...that Noelle and Bella look so different and so much alike, at the same time.
#5. ...that Noah and hubby make the same faces.
#6. ...that in January there will be a new face in our pictures!

Yes, you read right. I, being the "fruitful vine" that I am, am expecting another "olive plant" round about my table!

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.

Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.

Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD. ~Psalm 128:1-4






Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mountain of God

The song below is the song that caused me to fall in love with Third Day's music. I have seen so many comments under this song on You Tube of people describing how this song carried them through while they overcame addictions and/or went through hardships. Some even said that this song caused them to be a Christian!

I don't know about you, but there are plenty of decisions I have made as a Christian that I made simply by faith. I don't know if I would have chosen particular roads in and of my own desires. No, in fact, I KNOW there are some roads I would have NEVER chosen in and of my own desires.

Nevertheless, when faced with decisions, after you go down the line of "What does God think about this?" "What does the bible say about this?" "Which way does it seem like God is leading me based on my prayers and experience with him?" and/or seeking godly counsel, you have to make a decision. The decision can be based on faith in God or fear of failure.

So, I try my best to go the faith in God route, even though some of those decisions have been hard. Some of them, I have made and lived out, and am living out, while still fighting fear and doubt.

Still, even in the hardest of times, God has shown me that he is with me. So much so, that the wonder of it all makes it hard to even explain it. Have you been there?

The comfort of knowing that no matter what is going on, that my loving, all-powerful God is in it with me, is enough to help me stay on the road. And, the wonder of how God reveals this, even at the darkest of hours, is what this song makes me think about. I hope it does that for you too!

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. (Psalm 23:4, NLT)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fun in the Sun

Hubby had some time off work last week, which meant lots of FUN to be had by all!

Among other things, we ended up spending two days in a row at the beach. This was the first time the kids really spent any length of time playing in the sand and in the water. They had a ball!

Here is Bella standing in a deep hole hubby dug in the sand.


Noelle wouldn't look up long enough for me to get her face. She didn't want to break her concentration. "Can't stop now...I'm digging!"


This guy took a while to get comfortable. Of course, once he tasted the sand, he was ready to get loose:)

Hubby and I look forward to the day when one of the children will be old enough to take pictures of us during family outings. Until then, we will continue our futile attempts to take a decent picture of ourselves by smashing our faces together and holding the camera backwards, arm's length away. Perhaps this is a skill we will perfect over time? Until then...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Tricia's Story

If you know me personally, or if you have been hanging around this blog for any length of time, you might know I have what most would consider some pretty radical thoughts when it comes to family planning, or the lack thereof.

Perhaps I will use a future post to explain my own ideas and how I arrived at those conclusions. However, today I want to share what I have found to be a very inspiring story from my very first guest blogger, Tricia.

Tricia is a mom to 12 blessings and was so kind to grant my request that she share her reasons for allowing the Lord to control her family size as well as her experiences with motherhood as a result of that decision. I hope her story blesses you as much as it blessed me!


Tricia's Story



What exactly would motivate someone to have a dozen children?
And what on earth would motivate someone to have even more if that were the Lord's will? The answer: I don't know!! It is true that I have 12 kids, and would love more but to put a direct answer on it is difficult to do. It all began so long ago~at least it seems long ago!

I married the guy I dated in high school. Let me tell you, he came from a very odd family. I thought so anyway, he had what seemed to me a million brothers and sisters! Only 9 though to be exact. Why is it that when you see a family of more than 4 or so kids it seems like a million?

So we got married and started our own family. What was really weird though is that HIS family was not finished having children. His mother and I began a journey together of having children. We had our first, in laws their 10th, me my second, and in laws their 11th. I remember thinking, boy howdy, what did I get myself into!

Well, we continued to have children; not at the time because we felt led by the Lord, (Although that was exactly what was happening) but because it just felt right. To me as a woman, and to my husband as a man. After all, the Lord did say to multiply and replenish the earth.

But what keeps one going through the pregnancies, the morning sickness, the mounds of dirty diapers, the empty pocketbook and so on? Doing the will of the Lord is what keeps you going. Not just in birthing babies but in everything. I remember so many times my in-laws telling us: "We don't know how we did it, the Lord just blessed us with each baby we had." I like the word "multiplied" because indeed that is what the Lord does when we serve Him and keep His commandments.


But what about all the Quiverfull talk nowadays? The~"Let the Lord Plan Your Family" talk? Does that apply to my decision? Yes, and no. Like I said, in the beginning it just felt like I was doing what a woman was created to do and it felt so natural and right that we kept going. After baby number 7 though I got a bit, um, wearied if you will. Suddenly, I felt much like a baby making machine and less of a mother. We prayed, fasted, even looked into BC methods. (I can't even say those words!) Obviously we never began using anything because while I was wearied I/we knew in our hearts it was not for us.

Looking back I see I was trying to keep up with the Jones' and having 7 children kept getting in the way. I wanted a perfect house, always clean, fashionable, organized, etc. and I wanted to "hide" all the evidence of children so my house too could look "IN."

Well, it was that time the Lord got hold of our hearts. And let me tell you, He has a sense of humor, a wonderful sense of humor although I didn't think so then. It wasn't long until we learned of baby number 8 one the way. Fast forward about 6 months and we find it isn't only baby number 8 on the way but baby 9 too!! The sense of humor I'm talking about!! From then on, we knew we wanted to do the Lord's will where babies were concerned.

It is true, that when you trust the Lord you are blessed in abundance. Children truly are an heritage of the Lord and happy is the man who's quiver is full of them. I would never change a thing. I have no regrets, nor do I feel I have neglected the ME in myself. Whosoever will find himself will lost it, and whosoever will lose himself shall find it. That's what I did. I put the ME away and tried with all my heart to do as the Lord bid. One thing I am learning as of late, is that not only are we to trust the Lord in blessing our womb, but we are also to trust in Him when He is NOT blessing our womb. When the babies don't come when we would like, or never come again, that too is trust.

My advice to anyone who reads this~Is trust in the Lord, be content where He has placed you and with what He has given you. He is perfect, His will is perfect, and we must accept His will in all things with gladness of heart.


Tricia blogs at: mommyx12 and smith cottage