Friday, February 27, 2015


This year we tried to persuade the children to forgo birthday parties and just take a family trip to LEGOLAND.  However, the little guy couldn't wrap it around his head.
"That sounds great!  And my party will be an Army Party."
"No buddy, we're not going to have parties this year.  Our trip will be your party!"
"OK.  And when we get back we can have an Army Party."
Oh forget it!
So, we decided to go totally simple (my mom is laughing!) and invite a few close friends, raid Daddy's closet for Army stuff and spend maybe $20 at the Dollar Store.
 The only thing I made was the cake, thanks to Pintrist for the fun idea!

 Each kiddo threw on some Army camo and posed with the flag.
 Then PT began

We set up a fun obstacle course of a Paratrooper Drop, Belly Crawl, Zig Zag run, Grenade Toss, and Fortress Escape!

 Gotta love Dollar Store balloons!!

Then to the Chow Hall for dinner.
We prayed for all the men and women that serve our country.

After dinner they were given their secret mission assignment and camo face paint!
We hid (aka threw) about 120 tiny army men all over the back yard. 
Each soldier was issued a flash light, compass, and glow stick.
In the dark, their mission was to rescue the MIA soldiers and return them to safety before the enemy tagged them.  They needed to use their training earlier to be quiet, quick and strong!
If they got tagged by the enemy, they had to hand over all their MIA tiny Army men and crack their glow stick and hold it above their head and wait for a fellow soldier to come free them.
After the mission was accomplished, we went back to the Chow Hall and celebrated!

Then back out to the dark to play with sparklers.

A great night was had by all and truly...
the Mission was accomplished!!!
(did you know they make Army men gummies??)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

It's Hard to Slow Down When It's Always Sunny

Looking back, I remember often having the guilty feeling that I should be outside. 
On a sunny day, I might want to lay in bed and read or play with my dolls, but I'd think,
"It's too nice of a day to stay indoors," and with a guilty pressure, I'd head outside.
I would almost anxiously wait for it to get dark because then I'd have permission to come back inside!  Maybe that's why I've always loved the rain.  It gives me freedom to be inside without guilt!
But when you live in the Golden State, where it is sunny about 360 days a year, there isn't much freedom to remain inside, still, quiet, under a blanket for those such as me.
A few years back when I read Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts," something profound struck me.
She encourages all to slow down, stop rushing through life as if it were an emergency.  Slow down and live fully in the moment.  Slow down and notice the details in a spider's web, the reflection in a drop of water, slow down and receive the gifts of God that are all around us in the details we often overlook because we are spinning too wildly with busy and haste.
With a group of women, we discussed Ann's question about the dangers of a hurried life, "Describe a time or season of your life when you were moving so rapidly that you skimmed over many of the good gifts God has given you.  As you look back, what did you miss because of the sheer speed you were moving?"
Something hit me about this struggle to slow down and the dangers of a hurried life -
It's hard to slow down when it's always sunny.
And that's it! 
I've grown up where it is always sunny and there are little to no "seasons."  With a guilt that started somehow as a child, I've constantly forced myself to be out and productive when the sun was shining, which is 90% of my days!  How can I possibly slow down when I live in a place that demands a "go go go" pace sheerly because of the weather?!
If you live where there are true seasons, you are forced to slow down, whether you want to or not!
A true winter causes you to drive slower in the snow and sleet.
You hunker down inside because the elements outside are too harsh to face.
You cozy up by a fire because you are chilled to the bone.
You slow down and are still because you have no other choice.
Don't get me wrong, I know many are buried in snow right now and not exactly seeing it as a gift to slow down!  My cousin is home from school in Pennsylvania because of freezing weather and snow and my Uncle in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is telling of 21 degrees below zero temps (is that even legal??)  And our dear friends in Tennessee are home from school because of the harsh cold, and they are not telling these tales in a joyous tone!  They are lamenting in a way!
But it is a gift to be forced to stay home and slow down. 
We live in a world of super sonic jets, but we were created for camel travel!
Cancel the life plans that demand being on time, prepared and ready.
Just sit at home and be still.
It rained here last weekend.
All day Saturday!
It was glorious.
For the most part I sat on the couch and did nothing.
We had a birthday party scheduled to celebrate my son turning 6, but we canceled it.
Mostly because he caught a little cold, but also because of the rain that wouldn't allow the party to be outside.  I honestly spent most of the day disappointed that I could be more productive and throw the party!  But after several hours of shifting my "go go go" thinking, I sunk into the rhythm of the rain and just relaxed.
It's raining, so it's time to slow down and just enjoy the gift that is now.
It wasn't long before the sun came out again and the struggle began again.
How can we slow down and enjoy this one beautiful life we've been given?
If you're at home today because of the weather - school is canceled, roads are closed, work is shut down - be grateful and enjoy the slowing you were meant to live in.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


Last night marked a year.
For one year now, 5 little girls have gathered in my dining room twice a month to sip lemonade from tea cups, eat mini pizzas and treats, and talk about what it really means to be one of God's Girls!
They are precious.
I want my girls to know from a young age that true friends are ones who come around you to listen to you and pray for you.  True friends spur you on towards LOVE and good deeds, they don't walk down the path of gossip with you and point you to the world.
True friends look differently, go to different schools, wear different clothes than you,
but their hearts look much the same.
We've been working through the Fruit of the Spirit, taking our time to talk about each aspect of the Holy Spirit Fruit that shows in our lives as we allow Him to dwell in us.
Of course I saved LOVE for our February gathering!
Last year we talked about God's great love for us, that we are His Masterpieces!
But the love we talked about last night was different.
Last night we talked about our responsibility to love others.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34-35
3 big parts in these verses.
First the "what"
LOVE one another
Second the "how"
As I have loved you.
Lastly, the "why"
So that by your love everyone will know that you are my disciples.
We sipped cherry milkshakes (departing from our traditional lemonade because pink milkshakes with heart straws looked just too cute!) and ate mini pizzas while we discussed this verse at great length.
We are commanded to love
Have you ever thought of that?
It's a command without option.  Without caveat.  Without exception. Without excuse.
LOVE one another. Period.
We are commanded to love in the way God loves us.
Around the table we shared how God loves
"He cares for us."
"He puts our best first."
"He gave us Jesus to die for us."
"God loves everyone, even those that hate Him."
When we love in this way, the same way that God loves us and in the way Jesus exemplified in his earthly life, people stop and take notice.  This kind of love is radically different than the love the world shows.
It seems that our world is lost in the love of self.  That kind of love only points inward. 
It's a dead end. 
But the unconditional, selfless love of God points out.
It points up.
Milkshakes and pizzas gave way to decorating heart sugar cookies as we talked some more.

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds."
Hebrews 10:24
How can we encourage each other to love?
One girl shared about a mean girl at school.  Another girl nodded, "yea, she's really mean."
"It would be easy for the two of you to walk away from her and talk about how mean she is.  You could gossip about her and turn others away from her," I started.
"But what if together you pray for her?"
We are commanded to LOVE, and we are asked to consider how we can encourage each other to keep this very difficult command.
We concluded our time praying for one another, and praying for the mean girl.


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