Thursday, June 30, 2011

Little Boys...

...find their momma's cake stands and use them to help build an empire.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2011



 verb \ˈä-nər\
transitive verb
a : to regard or treat (someone) with admiration and respect : to regard or treat with honorb : to give special recognition to : to confer honor on

On Veteran's day I had an opportunity to take the kids to a retirement center for a program honoring veterans.  My dad prayed and I sang patriotic songs.  While singing, I looked out and saw Trevor sitting on the lap of a woman in a wheelchair and Madi sitting on the curb next to them, taking it all in.  

This week we had the opportunity to honor veterans once again, one of whom my kids know and love, but don't understand yet that many years ago was a POW in the Korean War.  They know he was a soldier, and we were explaining to them in simple terms how he and other soldiers have defended our country and freedom, allowing us to live in a safe and wonderful place.  

We are trying to teach our kids about honor.  We want them first and foremost to honor God with their lives (I Corinthians 6:20); to honor us as their parents (Ephesians 6:2); to honor the authority their lives (Romans 13:1-3); to honor their peers (Romans 12:10); to honor their country, community, heroes, flag (Romans 13:7). 

In order to teach them this Jimmy and I must live honorably, and be intentional about giving them opportunities to understand and demonstrate honor.  We must honor others as a way of life, and talk about what the Bible says and why honor should be a mark of our character.  And we must treat their tender little hearts and lives with loving honor and respect.

"All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope."

Winston Churchill

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Making Monkey Bread

Recently I had a realization that I had never made monkey bread for my kids.  In fact, I don't know if I have ever made it since we were married!  I have fond memories of this special treat from my childhood, and thought it was time to let my kids enjoy this warm cinnamon and sugar goodness.

I googled monkey bread and decided to use The Pioneer Woman's recipe.  Not only did this recipe turn out to be delicious, but the post was a cute, fun read as well!

The recipe called for 3 cans of biscuits, but I had picked up biscuits the last time I was at Aldi (they are soooo cheap there) and since the cans are slightly smaller in terms of ounces, I ended up using 4 cans which was just right.

Madi helped me make this.  She cut each biscuit in half, and then I cut her halves into fourths which made for a good, hands-on fraction lesson.

Here are the biscuits coated in cinnamon and sugar, waiting to be doused in butter and brown sugar and put in the oven...

And here is the monkey bread, warm and fresh out of the oven.

The best thing about monkey bread is, well, pretty much everything about the way it looks, tastes, and smells!!

The only bad thing about monkey bread is that is so good.  As in, it's easy to look down and say to yourself, "Pretty sure I just singlehandedly ate a can of biscuits and half a stick of butter."  But it is so, so delicious washed down with a cold glass of milk, so just focus on the calcium.  :)

The kids loved it, and it was a treat to make it together with Madi.  I enjoy my time with her in the kitchen!  Such a fun summer breakfast.


One of my faraway friends sent me a message the other night, and at the end of it she said she knew I have been busy but she has missed my blog.  I thought that was sweet!  Truth is, I have been pretty busy with two things around here.

1. Helping prepare for VBS & 2. Turning thirty-two!

I must say, as birthdays go this one was magical and memorable!  Upon waking up my husband made me this....

And then gave me a card that made me cry...

Then my parents came by with more cards that made me tear up...

And fun birthday surprises like these large decorative canning jars that are brimming with possibilities...

New French throw pillows and a fondue pot...

And this dress that I wore on Sunday...

Later we all had lunch at one of my favorite little spots and my parents surprised me with a beautiful monogrammed cake!  Chocolate, of course. :)

And then I headed off for a two night girlfriends getaway!  I had to pinch myself to believe it was actually happening!  I ate my birthday dinner at the Polynesian Resort with three dear girlfriends who have meant the world to me this year.  We feasted on what might have been the best meal I've ever eaten - not an exaggeration, I am still dreaming about perfectly grilled steak and chicken, noodles and broccoli, pineapple bread pudding....ohhhh, and the fresh out of the oven, sweet Hawaiian bread.  My friend Heather even snapped this picture of me with my bread.  If I wasn't so happily married to Jimmy I might have married it, I loved it that much.

We ate and laughed and just spent beautiful, uninterrupted time together.  After our meal we sat on the beach outside the resort and watched the fireworks in the distance over the castle at Magic Kingdom.  It was magical.  One of those nights I will always wish I could go back to and be so grateful I experienced.

The next morning we brewed coffee and ate breakfast in our room, talking and laughing and having an extended pajama party.  It was so fun!  After a day by the pool of the laying out and talking (not chasing after children!) variety, some more girlfriends came our way and we went out to dinner for one of those nights where you laugh so hard you hurt!!  Somewhere in the course of events I had a sombrero slapped on my head and a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday" sung to me, and we ended the night accessory shopping at Charming Charlie, so it is safe to say a good time was had by all. :)

It was a fabulous birthday celebration.  I don't deserve such blessings, and honestly feel humbled to have enjoyed such quality time with girlfriends and sweet generosity from family.  The past few years have been filled with so much rich goodness, but also with some challenges that have truly kept me on my knees.  The fact that God, who above anyone else knows the secret things of my heart, chose to bring some fun and nurturing friends into my life at just the right time makes me want to cry.  The way He has knit my heart closer to the heart of my husband and family, reminded me over and over what is of value in His eyes, and allowed me some vibrantly colorful sprinkles of laughter and enjoyment amidst some of life's rain showers reminds me that He is intimately acquainted with the details of my life and loves me with the kind of generous love a father has for a daughter.  As I celebrated thirty-two, I was keenly aware of this love and generosity.

And I gratefully and joyfully entered a new year of life.

Coffee Talk

I cannot use powdered creamers in my coffee.  I just can't. I think I might be a creamer snob. So when I travel and don't always have a refrigerator to lug around my favorite bottles of flavored creamer, I have myself a creamer dilemma!  Imagine my delight when I saw these at Walmart, just in time to leave on a trip....

Can you get over it?  I can't!  So glad some issues in life are so simply resolved!  I am also loving this new flavor for my Keurig...

It is just plain nice for summer.  Mmmm.  And I also like the Half-Caff pods on the occasions where I brew an afternoon cup, or for mornings like yesterday when I felt and looked like Tink looks on this mug and one cup of regular just wasn't going to cut it!

I was surprised and thrilled when I threw my Thirty-One party and the sweet consultant brought me this darling travel mug.  I found out she reads my blog and knew I would appreciate it!

And I was also thrilled when one of my good friends gave me this Premium Roast With Ruth Bible study as a birthday gift.  Perfect timing too, as I completed my 90 Days With Paul study this morning (more on that later) and this Coffee Cup Bible Study is ready and waiting.  I have always wanted to do a study on Ruth and never have, so this will be exciting!

Wishing you a fresh brewed day!

Monday, June 20, 2011

If You Know My Dad

If you know my dad, you know that he is a fairly simple man.  God, faith, family, church, country, and community are the basics of his life and priorities.  Relationships are top of the list; possessions and things are not.  Integrity is of the highest concern; fame and fortune don't matter.

You may know that yesterday during his Father's Day message, he got very choked up as he shared one of the most important things that he wants my brother and me to know - that he is unconditionally committed to our mother until death separates them.  In 38 years of marriage they have weathered life's challenges together, remaining steadfast in their commitment.  I think that commitment is one of the things that defines my dad.  He is a man of his word.  He keeps promises, vows, covenants.

You may know a lot about him, but there is probably much you don't know.  You may not know how witty he is, and how sometimes one simple line he will throw out dryly in the middle of a situation will just make us crack up.  You may not know how much more he gives than he receives, and how generosity is a mark of his character. You may not know the depths of compassion he has for people, and all the times he has sacrificed his own time to visit people in hospitals, nursing homes, or emergencies because he cares.  He is a chaplain of our local police department and is often called to the scene of really tough situations like drownings or tragic deaths to be a spiritual comfort and light to families.  He has lead countless people to the Lord and baptized them through the years, helped counsel marriages in crisis, discipled new believers, clearly taught God's Word and how it applies to daily life, and has encouraged so many on the journey - but gets embarrassed at any recognition for these investments.  His mercy and forgiveness for people who have wronged him amazes and inspires me; his consistency and faithfulness are my example.

Many men will shine brightly when the spotlight is on or there is something in it for them.  Many will work for God as long as it is fun and flashy and exciting. But not all men will shine when few or no one sees.  They say integrity is what you do when no one is watching.  That definition has always reminded me of my dad. However, a little girl was watching with a front row seat.  And what she saw was consistency, commitment, integrity.  What she saw was real, and it made her love Jesus because she saw His love and compassion in her earthly father.

No one is perfect, and my dad is not a perfect man.  But he is a godly man.  He is a good and true man. And in his life I have seen what Micah 6:8 says the Lord requires of us.  Because if you know my dad you know that he does justly; he loves mercy; and he walks humbly with His God.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.  And thank you.  I love you.

My dad, this Father's Day, with his greatest earthly treasures - his two kids and three grandkids.  
(Sadly my mom could not be in this picture because she was at the emergency room with my grandma.) 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Yellow Roses of Florida

Thank you to my husband, who knows that yellow flowers are my favorite and brought these home Thursday afternoon! 

 They make me smile.

More on Joy

A few mornings ago in my Paul study, I was reading a comparison between Paul and Jonah.  One of the passages used was John 15:10-11 where Jesus said,

"If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commands and remain in His love.  I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete."

I have heard this passage my whole life, but as I read it a simple but profound truth stood out to me - joy comes in obedience to God.

The irony is this...most people have the false assumption that obeying God and following His design for abundant living will rob them of their joy.  They think that if they have to live within the boundaries He set in place that are ultimately for our protection and fulfillment, they will "miss out on all the fun" and be miserable and unhappy.  They are sure doing things their own way will be the ticket to finding happiness.

Of course, what inevitably happens when we do things our own way and intentionally disobey God is that we suffer the consequences of sin, and though we may have fun for a season, we end up miserable and having to seek that temporary happiness all over again.  Because while the joy that comes from God is rooted deep within us and can sustain us through even the hardest of times, temporary happiness is just that - temporary.

That is why you see people get trapped in vicious cycles of addiction, heavy partying, doomed relationships, and other self-destructive behavior.  It's never enough.  The temporary satisfaction only lasts so long, and then reality sets in.  So they have to seek the same pleasures again and again because they never quite satisfy.  

And it's really sad.  Honestly, it breaks my heart.

But I can testify that the truest, purest form of joy - the kind of joy that is abundant, full, overflowing, and not relying on circumstances - is found in people who walk with God faithfully and obey Him eagerly.  Like Jesus said, that is when His joy is in us and when our joy is complete.  I have seen this kind of joy in people whose circumstances have been incredibly difficult, but whose roots are planted in Christ and whose hearts are submissive to Him. It's amazing.

Jonah ran in disobedience from God.  Most of us know his story of how it led him to the belly of a big fish. Paul, on the other hand, was passionate to obey God and follow His direction for his life as soon as he met Jesus on the road to Damascus.  I loved this quote by Beth Moore in the study that day...

"Although Jonah was ultimately obedient and surprisingly successful, you will search in vain for a single hint of joy in his life.  Although Paul seemed to suffer at every turn, he had more to say about joy than any other mouthpiece in the Word of God."

For any of you who are reading this who may be desperately searching for joy and chasing temporary happiness that ultimately lets you down and leaves you empty, listen to the words of Jesus!  Obey His commands and remain in His love so that your joy may be complete.

You will never regret obedience.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Honey Bun Cake

The other evening I had a Thirty-One party.  (If you read this post you know what I'm talking about!) Since my days of being thirty-one will be over next week, I decided to serve cake and ice cream at our fun girls night!  I love to bake and may have gotten a little carried away...I ended up baking four cakes!  And one had four layers!

But the one that got the most rave reviews was my Honey Bun Cake.  I used to make these when we had people over during our early married years, but hadn't made one in forever.  I don't know what made me think of it, and couldn't find my original recipe, but I googled it and used a Betty Crocker recipe that turned out great!

I am one of those people who always varies slightly from the recipe, and I did here as well - but mainly I just made more frosting and used more cinnamon in the filling.  Because sometimes less is more, but sometimes it isn't!  Especially when it comes to frosting and cinnamon.  :)

This is one of those cakes that would be good for breakfast - seriously!  It tastes like a honey bun, so it would be great at brunch with fruit and a breakfast casserole, or would be perfect to bring to a brunch or shower.  It is super easy, and tastes delicious while it's still warm - and cold the next day for that matter (not that I ate the leftovers or anything, ahem).

So if Honey Bun Cake seems like something you'd like to try, here is the link to the recipe I used as a guide.  If you make it, pour yourself a big cold glass of milk and think of me as you enjoy!

*I also omitted the nuts, though they would probably be tasty, and used a knife to swirl the cinnamon/brown sugar mixture a bit.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Busy Hands

Little hands have been busy around here lately!

Madi came home from her day camp with this absolutely adorable cupcake creation...

She has been having such a great time doing all things creative with her friends, and I thought this was a fabulous idea - mini vanilla cupcakes with white frosting and white and yellow marshmallows made the perfect popcorn for the little container!

Star Wars coloring books have turned Trevor from a careless scribbler to a careful colorer. His wall continues to be covered in his creations.

I am proud of how hard he concentrates to stay in the lines, and love his creative use of color!

Madi continues to come up with cute things at her craft table.  The other night she taped a few toilet paper rolls together to make this cheerful little nurse, which I thought was great!

Then she and I found a spare preschool workbook in the bin holding the ones she and I did together when she was younger, and we played "school" with Trev.  He got such a kick out of it that yesterday morning the first words out of his mouth when he stumbled out of bed were, "Wet's do some more schoolwork."  So we did!

He tries so hard and is so eager.

I just love those busy little hands.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

In Celebration Of Flag Day

June 14th is our national Flag Day.

You're a grand old flag,
You're a high flying flag,
And forever in peace may you wave.
You're the emblem of the land I love,
The home of the free and the brave.

Ev'ry heart beats true
'Neath the Red, White and Blue.
Where there's never a boast or a brag.
But should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eyes on the grand old flag!

George M. Cohan

Happy Flag Day!!