Friday, November 30, 2012

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like....

We're preparing for a very special visitor tomorrow!

We're kicking off December with our family holiday party

 We just can't wait!

Next week will will hold some fun posts - December's Make Out Monday date challenge, some favorite Christmas recipes, and our Family's Santa's Breakfast Party.
Have a great weekend and see you back here Monday!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Old St. Nick

Four years ago we were driving up north for Thanksgiving at my in-law’s house.  On our drive up I5 we stopped at In N Out for lunch (about 4 hours from Sacramento).  My girls were 3, and my son was 9 months old.  As we enjoyed our burgers, this man walked up to our table and immediately addressed the children (he really didn’t even acknowledge me or my husband!).  They all were mesmerized by him.  He had snowy white hair and a white beard.  He had kind eyes and a very gentle voice, almost hypnotic.  There was something very familiar about him and it felt like magic was in the air.  My son gazed at him and the girls were entranced as they held onto his every word.  After entertaining them for a time, he looked to us and asked where we were heading.  Sacramento,” my husband answered.  He asked if we’d ever been to The Empire Mine.  And when we answered no, he told us that he heard Santa Claus was going to be there the day after Thanksgiving and that we should go.  And just like that he was gone.  Could it be?...
 As soon as we arrived in Sacramento we looked up The Empire Mine and sure enough, there was a holiday celebration the day after Thanksgiving and we made plans to go.  It was a wonderful surprise to visit this old gold mine that was teaming with history and charm.  The Empire Mine is the oldest, largest and richest gold mine of California, opening in 1850.  The grounds surrounding the owners cottage are covered with large trees that are changed to brilliant colors this time of year.  And then in the Clubhouse, with an open roaring fire, Santa sits and waits for children to come visit him. 
As we entered the Clubhouse, Old St. Nick greeted us with a big smile and a wink.  My husband and I looked at each other – Santa looked a little fuller this year – perhaps he had one too many Double Doubles at In N Out! 
 Four years later, we made our third trip to the mine after Thanksgiving.  Once again Jolly Old St. Nick greeted us and welcomed us to come and sit awhile as he told us the importance of family and taking care of one another. 
He was in no rush to see us leave.  We was perfectly content to chat and share his love with everyone.  As we left the Clubhouse, we all had a huge smile on our face.  There is just something about that man – I swear he must know Jesus!  He truly is magical and we’ll be forever grateful for the man at In N Out that told us to visit the Empire Mine.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Curve Balls

Well, we got back from our Thanksgiving trip last night and we were thrown several curve balls!  We planned on making the 7+ hour drive up north on Wednesday to avoid holiday traffic. 
Sunday night I didn't sleep all night, Monday night I didn't sleep all night so Tuesday I went to visit my acupuncturist to see if he could hit my sleep points and knock me out!  I told him that I hadn't been sleeping and thought maybe God wanted me up all night praying!  I did have some pretty sweet time with the Lord at 2am!  As he treated me he said, "you have a gift."  He went on to say that being spiritually sensitive, and being woken up by God's Spirit to pray was a gift.  He left the room for a bit and I kept asking myself, "can I receive this as a gift?"  Because after 2 nights of no sleep, I was worthless and looked like a wreck!  As a mom, I value sleep deeply!  Don't you?  And for a long time I obsessed over my sleep, or lack there of!  I would wake up in the morning with a complete log of when I slept, when I was woken up by children, how often and exactly how many hours I slept.  Based on that, I would start my day - either refreshed and ready or sluggish and anticipating the worst.  I've learned that sleep doesn't define me or dictate my day (I know what you're thinking - yea right!).  I have to trust that if God is waking me up to be with Him, then He will provide the energy and strength I need to make it through the day.  It is a challenge to rely on Him and trust Him when my human body and logic says there is no way! 
Tuesday night I slept like a rock... until my son started throwing up at 1am!  Seriously, can I get a break?  So we didn't end up driving up north on Wednesday, but decided to leave at 4am on Thanksgiving instead!  Awesome!  All I could do was trust God that our 7 hour trip wouldn't turn into 11 hours with holiday traffic.  As we got ready at 3:30am I was praying that God would go before us and make our trip smooth.  Guess what?  NO traffic!  And we hit fog for a moment (this time of year that can be a lot of fog in the valley that is very dangerous), but I prayed that God would take away the fog and literally in 2 seconds the fog was completely gone and we didn't see it again.  I started tearing up in the car - "I love you."  That's what I heard from God.
We made it up north in record time, 6 hours and 15 minutes!  and had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We planned on leaving Saturday morning to once again avoid the traffic returning home, but my daughter got the stomach flu!  Seriously?  So we stayed an extra day and I got a sinus infection in the middle of the night.  I could only laugh!  I realized that being up for 2 nights before this trip to pray was a complete gift because it prepared me for all the curve balls that were thrown at us!  God knew I needed that time to be alone with Him and get ready for what was ahead.
Can I receive sleepless nights as a gift from God?  Can I receive curve balls as gifts from God?  It's tough, but when I get my mind off all that is going wrong, like sleepless nights and sickness, and instead look to God and ask what He has for the in the midst of the curve balls, He is faithful to reveal Himself and His love for me and that is the best gift ever.
These photos were like the curve balls of our trip - they didn't go as planned!
But like this last one, there were some great surprises in the curve balls as well!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Turkey Bucket

Well, it's the week of Thanksgiving - how did that come so quickly? 
Last night we had a little "Friendsgiving" to get us ready for the big day!  We did a mini feast with our friends to tell them how thankful we are for them.
Just in case you are looking for a new and inovative way to cook your turkey this year, I wanted to share with you what has become a family favorite for us...
Turkey Bucket!
First you pick a spot in your yard and put some sand down.  Drive a stake in the ground and cover the stake and sand in several sheets of heavy duty foil.
Then get your coals going.
Tie up your bird, slather it with butter, and place it on the stake.
Cover the turkey with a 5 gallon metal bucket.
Then place a wire fence around the base of the bucket.  This is where you'll pour the coals into so they sit right next to the bucket.
Place a heavy rock on top.
And let her cook!  It creates a dutch oven.  It's so much fun for the guys to hang outside, tend to the coals (you'll need to put some extra ones on here and there), have a drink and chat.
Then, after a few hours (cook time varies according to the size of your bird),
it's time for the big reveal!
Another great, tasty, moist turkey!
Last year we used Trader Joe's Brined Turkey.
It was incredible!!  I highly recommend it.
Joe knows turkey!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and know that I'm very thankful for all of you who read my random thoughts and ramblings!  It's pretty cool to make friends all over the blogging world!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Give Thanks

My little dude had his Thanksgiving party at school this week.
I had lots of fun helping out and getting to know some of the other moms in his class.
Of course I pulled out the old Turkey Fruit Platter again!
And, I made a "must have" Thanksgiving dessert...
Honestly, this is better than pumpkin pie!  That's right, you heard me!
Just make it and you'll be a believer too!
Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes Courtesy of Paula Deen
click on Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake for the recipe
* I only used 1/2 box of powdered sugar for the filling

Tonight at dinner the girls were asking us all what we are most thankful for - they wanted to practice for Thanksgiving!
I said that I was most thankful that I'm feeling really well these days.
It's been a long, rough year and I feel like I've turned a corner with my anxiety battle.
It got much worse before it got better, but I hope that I'm on the other side.
I was very blessed that God brought a new therapist into my life at the end of September and she is a spirit filled woman who has the gift of discernment and told me with confidence that God would heal me from my anxiety.  She has spoken truth over me and been God's voice in some very dark times.  She also pointed me to a new acupuncturist and although he doesn't give me a full body massage after my treatment and end with snacks and hot tea, he is a man of God who prays over every patient every time and he too has been a gift from God (more on him later!).

I can honestly say that I'm thankful for the pain, suffering and darkness of this past year of my life, because in those dark, difficult places, I met Jesus and got to know Him like never before.
I'm thankful that I became completely dependent on Him for my every breath, "Lord, please keep me breathing deeply right now."  For my every step, "Lord, please help me to make it to the school to pick up the children."  For my every thought, "Lord, please hold every thought captive in obedience to you."  For my every waking moment, "Lord, please give me this moment my daily bread."
Give thanks to the Lord
for He is good
His love endures forever

As we move into Thanksgiving week (how is it already Thanksgiving?),
what are you most thankful for?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Last night my life changed.
My husband came home with this for me
Yep, that's right...
my first iPhone.
Most of you have had one for years
but I've just come into the 21st century!
No more smoke signals to communicate or pigeon carriers.
So, help me out... what are your must have apps?
What do you do with this thing most?
What can't you live without?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

10 on 10 November

It's November 10th
so here are 10 photos from this day in the past 10 hours

1.  Early morning Tooth Fairy delivery
(it was a very unexpected tooth loss at dinner
and the tooth fairy didn't have time to go pick up a treat!)
2.  defrosting bananas for banana bread
3.  the new toothless little lady
4.  birthday gift wrapped
5.  playing cars while sissys are at a party
6.  soup
7.  a slice of banana bread with cream cheese
(just like mom gave me when I was little!)
8.  looking at my middle finger after acupuncture
9.  afternoon art
10.  jumping off chairs

ten on ten button

Friday, November 9, 2012


My little ladies got to be in a wedding recently.
They were over the moon about it!
The beautiful bride gave them these sweet tiaras to wear.

They were little princesses!
It was a dream come true for them to be all dressed up with fancy dresses, flowers and their jewels.
All night long they gushed over every detail.  They decorated sugar cookies, ate cupcakes, sipped lemonade from a champagne flute and danced until they could barely stand!
They enjoyed all the benefits of being a little princess.
When we decided to give our life to Jesus, we are adopted into God's family and we are daughters of the King.  We become princesses.  As the King's daughter, we are given His full inheritance.  All that He has is ours.
Are you living like you have the full inheritance of the King of Kings?  Are you enjoying all the benefits of being a princess?
Happy Weekend Your Highness!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Make Out Monday - Intentional Date

Earlier this year I did a series on my blog called Intentional Family.  Within that series there was a sub series called Intentional Marriage.  It's so easy to get busy taking care of children and "life" and our marriages get put on the back burner.  Then, after a few years pass, we can discover that our spouse is more like a roommate or friend than lover and partner.  It's important to keep our marriage a priority, even when we're in survival mode with children and tired and overwhelmed and...  there is always an excuse!  But our spouse is our first ministry, above the children and housework.  We must be intentional with our marriages or we won't thrive.  I know this because that's where we're at right now.  We've been surviving for a long time, but we both want something more.  We want to thrive.  We've long become roommates and friends, but we want more out of our marriage than that.
Because of that, we decided to take an intentional trip together.  We went up to Yosemite for 3 days to take long hikes together.  To be outside in God's magnificent creation and be overwhelmed by Him - not by our lives and the mess it's become.  To see mountains, rocks and trees that were so massive, they dwarfed our mistakes and shortcomings.  We were reminded that God is so much greater.  God has great things for our marriage and He has the power to change us!

We hiked through the Giant Sequoias and enjoyed the crisp air and the giant trees that blew our minds!  We read about one tree and decided to extend our hike to see this tree in person.

These massive trees grow to such great heights because they join forces.  They grow close together and share resources.  Some actually fuse their root together underground so they have a stronger foundation.  One such pair in this grove is called The Faithful Couple.  They've actually grown together and the 2 became 1 tree.  I knew I had to see this couple in person!
We had to hike for at least another hour before we got there.  The signs along the way seemed to be misleading, ".6 miles to the Faithful Couple."  20 minutes later, ".8 miles to the Faithful Couple."  WHAT?  It's getting father away?  It didn't make sense.  When we saw one couple coming down on the trail we asked them if the Faithful Couple was up ahead.  They said, "yes, keep going."  Time passed and we saw another couple, "Is the Faithful Couple up this way?" we asked.  "Yes, it's just around the corner," they answered.  But it wasn't "around the corner."
Everyone had a different idea of how far the hike was to get to the Faithful Couple!
For those hiking up to the Faithful Couple, it seemed to take forever and it seemed as though the path was getting longer and longer!  But for those who had arrived and were traveling onto something else, it felt like it was "just around the corner."

Finally, we arrived!
I couldn't capture in a photo how massive and amazing this tree, or pair of trees really is.
The couple is very old and has weather several fires and storms together.  There are scars all over the couple that give testimony to a rough journey they've survived.
Yet they are together.  Growing stronger and taller every year.  They are stronger together than they are on their own.
2 are better than 1.
At the end of my life, I want to be known as a faithful couple.  We're weathering fires and storms right now, but we have the choice to fuse together and share our resources or grow apart.  We've decided to buckle up and hold on tight - we're growing together no matter what.
The enemy seeks to destroy marriages.  He is crafty and sly.  He creeps into areas of our lives that are tiny cracks and he patiently waits for those cracks to split open in tough times and he's right there, ready to offer a quick fix or solution that in the end offers more pain.  He knows our weaknesses.  But if we fuse together as husband and wife, build one another up in the truth of Jesus and fuse together, we are stronger than the lies of the enemy. 
God is so much greater and God loves marriage!  He wants us to succeed!
The journey of marriage can seem long sometimes.  It can feel like others are leaping though without problem or frustration.  Sometimes it appears that there is no hope.
But that is the time to get closer, fuse together, share some great resources and watch God heal, restore, rebuild and renew your marriage.
The theme for November's Make Out Monday is
Intentional Date
If you can get away for a few days, DO IT!  If that is not realistic, then have dinner at home or go out prepared with some intentional questions to ask your spouse.
1.  What is a healthy foundation for marriage?
2.  What does God say about marriage?
3. What are our values for marriage?
4.  What are our goals for our marriage?
Spend some time praying together and make some new commitments
to thrive together and not just survive!
Here is a great sermon series on marriage that was recommended to me
 scroll to the bottom for the series on Marriage.
Perhaps your date can be listening to a message and discussing it.
Also, Family Life does great marriage retreats all over the country throughout the year.  We went to one a few years ago and loved it!
Find a retreat close to you and make it a priority to work on your marriage!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tricks? or Treats?

It's been a busy week around here with all the Halloween festivities.
Here's a quick re-cap of the fun!

Can you guess what we are?
He's "half asleep"  and I'm a bride + maid = bridesmaid!

Hope you all had a great Halloween and are still on the sugar rush!!
I'll be back Monday with a Make Out Monday date idea.
Have a great weekend.


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