Friday, September 30, 2011

31 Days of Prayer for our Girls

"Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?" Corrie Ten Boom

Life as a mother can be overwhelming. Each day our girls face heartbreak and joy. There is drama and there is peace. There is success and there is failure. Many times there are big questions about navigating the waters of life situations and/or how circumstances fit into the big picture of faith.

And all of this happens quickly. In fact, if your home is anything like mine, it seems to snowball each day and then get thrown at you all at once.

How do you respond?

If you are anything like me your mind can spin in the intensity of the moment looking for a response that honors Him, encourages her, and promotes peace. And, if nothing comes then you offer up a quick prayer hoping for an immediate response.

But this is admittedly NOT the best approach. I need to start each day bathing my children in prayer so that I experience the comfort in knowing I'm being directed by God's Word and responding to every situation in His strength rather than my own. It makes for less stressful parenting.

Like anything in life, our responses are born out of habit and I'm thrilled to tell you that MODSquad is here to your rescue, helping you to place your daughter in God's hands first everyday with their new October series - 31 Days of Prayer for our Girls

MODSquad is an awesome community of moms walking along side one another to raise girls with intergrity and hearts for the Lord. It's been my honor to be a monthly writer for this group of moms who are so honest about everything from the issues of motherhood that make us want to pull our hair out to moments that make us smile so hard our face hurts. It is such an uplifting, encouraging space to be real and grow.

I hope you'll join MODSquad for this incredible month of posts. Each day will have a topic, bible verse, and a prayer. You can subscribe, have the posts emailed to you, or follow on Facebook. All the important details are here.

As today's post reminds, "The effective prayer of a righteous {mom} can accomplish much." James 5:16

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Macaroni and Cheese & the Big Life Lessons

It was a day unlike most others. The laundry was piled up, dishes needed to be emptied from the dishwasher, and lunch needed to made. From a mother’s perspective, this is work. Through the eyes of my four year old, however, this is fun.

I like her viewpoint better.

Throwing the darks overhead like a basketball into the washer, Hannah laughed in amusement. After folding the freshly dried whites, she walked with purpose, delivering the clothes to their proper “home.” And, she beamed while unloading the lower level of the dishwasher all by herself.

These homemaking projects indicate growth and independence in her world...

To finish reading this post please visit MODSquad

Photo credit

Friday, September 23, 2011

Black Bean Corn Avacado Salsa

Recently I got a wild hair and decided to tackle homemade salsa. Unfortunately I didn’t have any recipes so I did what any rational person in 2011 would do. I tweeted requests for corn and black bean salsa. :) To my surprise, my friend Jess responded with a recipe that was literally Christmas to my taste buds so now I’m sharing it with all of you.

Let’s get started!

Black Bean Corn Avacado Salsa

2 can super sweet yellow/white corn
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes or fresh tomato
1 bunch finely chopped cilantro (I’m not a cilantro girl so I left this out)
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 finely chopped fresh jalapeno (remove seeds) I promise this is not at all hot in the salsa!
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ cup lime juice
2 avocados – peeled, pitted, and diced
Salt to taste

Mix all the above ingredients together and dip with your favorite chip!

This makes enough to feed the 5000 so if you’re making it for a gathering, you’re golden. If, on the other hand, you are making it as a fun starter for your family (of 5 or less) I’d suggest halving the recipe.

ENJOY and have a great weekend! We are set for some quality family time and I’m reading through the design pass of book two from our editor. Exciting posts will be coming your way in the next few months!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Little Kids, Kissing, & Dating

Recently a friend wrote me. While her daughter was in preschool, she witnessed two kids kissing and came home to proudly profess that she was going to ask a boy out the next day and wondered if he would kiss her. Trying to remain calm, cool, & collective (although inside going through the roof), she told her daughter that we save our kisses and then got online to ask me what to do.

My work with Pam means that I help provide a lot of relationship counsel to teens and their parents. Sadly, tweens are becoming a more and more popular age group with serious questions. But, to hear that four year olds have "ask him out" in their vocabulary gave even me pause.

I suppose it should come as no surprise. We live in a culture that promotes dating relationships from the get go. I've witnessed mothers say to their toddler child, "Is she your girlfriend?" or "That one is your boyfriend?" numerous times.

Because of my work in the CPC, we've avoided this. I've seen what happens to a girl who from the beginning gets the message that her value comes from being claimed by some boy and that having a boyfriend is necessary. They are the ones glued to their boyfriends while their friendships fail. And, they are the ones crying in fear as they await their pregnancy test result all the while explaining that they thought "love" meant crossing all sorts of dangerous boundaries.

From the time our children are born, we are sending them messages. Some would argue that these jokes are harmless, but I would say quite the opposite. Think about all the messages we send them when they are toddlers: how to sit still at the table (manners), to address others with care (respect), to act nicely to the people around them (love). The list goes on and on. Their brains are like sponges and we know this so we teach them when they are young attitudes and behaviors to live out through adulthood. Why do we think dating should be any different?

Society's model of dating shows that this attitude is prevalent. Kids talk about boyfriends/girlfriends before they even know what it is. Young girls are wearing future Mrs. Bieber shirts prior to understanding what makes a good spouse. They carry on into real life the "joke" adults laid before them early on. Boys feel macho because they can say they have a girl. Girls feel valued because she can say she's caught someone's eye. They date whoever asks, lack boundaries and make mistakes or realize once they are into this relationship that their values are being pressured and, ultimately, they walk away feeling hurt that "love" didn't feel so good.

Hence we don't joke about it or wear clothes that aren't age appropriate.

But all of our kids are going to hear the words or see children model something they heard or saw on TV. So then what?

I advised my friend first and foremost to tell the teacher what her daughter saw. No matter what, day care providers, teachers, playground safety, etc. NEEDS to know what is happening so the behavior can be stopped. I'm fairly confident that no facility with children this young would view this behavior acceptable.

And then there is the message for all, whether you've been the parent that "joked" or not. You can use these opportunities to send messages about what you DO want your child's dating to one day be.

Last week Grace heard the word "boyfriend." Apparently a little boy had his lips a-flappin trying to kiss some girl who said, "Don't. I have a boyfriend." When I asked if she knew what boyfriend meant and she said "no," I knew I could start sending messages to mold her future.

"Boyfriends are people you think that you could marry and until we are old enough to think about marriage God wants us to just be friends and not kiss."

As she grows older and can understand more, we will expand on that, talking about the ages that dating is appropriate, only entering into a relationship with someone that shares a deep love for Christ and genuinely respects her, and, of course, Godly boundaries.

Surely this doesn't mean that she (or her sisters) will never make mistakes, but it does mean that from a young age her dating mentality will run contrary to the "whoever asks" model. She is free to continue finding joy in being claimed by the One who made her and experience peace knowing she has caught the eye of her Savior. And, if she continues to trust His definition of love she will avoid the pain so many of her peers won't.

Clearly the message is setting in. She heard the word again the other day in a book about her student teacher (who is engaged) and said "That means he would be the kinda boy she would marry. Right, mom?" And, when that little boy with his lips a-flappin tried to get near my girl, he was immediately told "no" and then given a talking to about appropriate behavior by an adult.

Our words matter. Send messages to your children today that will build the framework for a healthy tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Domestic Diva Style Birthday Party

Birthdays were made to be celebrated and last weekend we had two in our house!

Since the older girls are so close in age, have the same friends (for now), and like similar things, we had a joint party for our two little domestic divas.

They LOVE to cook.

Because God created them with this interest, I feel that every opportunity to enhance the skill is an investment in their future. One day they will move out and having this knowledge will benefit them as a young single woman (and prayerfully as a Christian wife and mother).

So, thanks to the inspiration of my wise friend who did a lasagna making birthday party with older girls, we decided to make it into a party theme. The girls each made their own personal pan pizza.

Prior to their arrival, my husband and I taped waxed paper to our dining room table, filled bowls with various pizza toppings, and made individual sized pizza crusts. Once they were all to our home, they picked places to sit and started making pizza to their liking. Since they are young, we had all sorts of creativity

Hannah’s looked like a face

Grace’s was a flower

Another interesting face

And of course there were pizzas simply filled high with lots of cheese and topping goodness.

While waiting, they swung at a colorful piƱata. For some reason, this Target purchase was near impossible to break open so following many attempts both blind folded and not, Grace went to get daddy and the girls broke out in a supportive chant. “Charlie, Charlie…”

Check out that MLB form! :) After a few powerful swings, he was successful and candy poured out for a little take home sugar treat.

The girls loved their finished pizza product and were all very proud of their domestic accomplishment, talking about and showing each other their masterpieces. And, as we watched, we could do nothing but smile because a financially frugal party designed solely to play off their interests ended up promoting self confidence and a desire to get in the kitchen to do more.


Friday, September 9, 2011

{Peanut Product Free} Cake Pops!

The dilemma: Your child wants to take cake pops to school for their birthday but there is a peanut allergy in the class.

The solution: This recipe!

Today is my daughter's sixth birthday. She really wanted to make cake pops, however, one of the children in her class has a peanut allergy. Although individual's allergies are not the responsibility of other parents, these kids are in kindergarten. And, if I can make something that everyone can eat that would be my desire. After all, no child wants to be singled out as the kid that can't partake in the treat fun.

My research led me to two conclusions. 1) I have the utmost respect for people that live with peanut allergies. It seems that nearly every product has some kind of peanut, peanut oil, or is made in a place that has peanut products. The time needed to figure out a healthy diet and the options within that diet are limited. 2) There is not a lot of good, fun kid birthday friendly recipes available online. I did over two hours of research online and tweeted with some parents of children that have peanut allergies to come up with this solution. Then I emailed Grace's teacher the ingredients for her to forward to the child's mom to confirm that it was in fact okay.

So, for my fellow moms, I am posting this recipe. It will make your life easier and save you a lot of time! That said, check the boxes when you do go to make this to make sure nothing in the products or factories has changed since this post date.

You will need:

Betty Crocker Super Moist Cake Mix (Party Rainbow Chip)

Betty Crocker Rich and Creamy Cream Cheese Frosting

Dec a Cake Non-Pareils Sprinkles

Bakers Semi-sweet chocolate squares

Having peanut free products, I used this recipe as a springboard for the cake pop fun.

To make it:

1) Bake the cake according to directions on the cake mix box. After the cake is cooked and cooled, crumble the cake into a very large bowl.

Now look at your fingers! If you have not taken off your jewelry now is the time to do so because it is about to get very messy!

2) Mix 1 can of frosting (with your hands) into the bowl of crumbled up cake. Once it is thoroughly mixed, refrigerate the mixture for 15 minutes.

3) Roll mixture into 1 inch balls and lay on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil .

You do not want to make them larger because the stick will not be able to hold the weight of the cake. I had a few "flops" with the ones that were even slightly larger.

4) Chill in the freezer for 30 - 40 minutes.

5) Stick the lollipop sticks into them (not all the way to the top though) and cover them in melted chocolate. Stick them into a styrofoam block to dry.

6) While the chocolate is still "wet" decorate with sprinkles.

After they have dried, cover them in candy bags and close it off with a twisty or ribbon or whatever you choose. You can get those products at a cake specialty store.

I made the twisty into hearts because I'm a geek like that. :)

If you do not have a peanut allergy to consider, you can make this recipe with any brand cake mix and frosting. You could also you chocolate almond bark to save on money for dipping chocolate. And, obviously, you could decorate with any candy or drizzle with a different color dipping chocolate.

Grace and Hannah helped me make them but they weren't completely set until after they had gone to bed.

But as you can see, she was very excited when she saw the finished product this morning. Plus, not only were they the cake pops she asked for, but they were brown and today just happens to be brown day at school. Double bonus!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

You Are Never Beyond Hope

It was filled with color. A kind of floral fantasy that beckoned you nearer to study its rainbow of vibrant shades and appreciate the unique blossoms only an artistic God could design.

Noticing that the wave petunia stole my eye, my mother said, "It's yours. Happy Mother's Day."

My mother has a green thumb. Her gardens are always filled with color, shape, and trimmed perfection. Fast forward your mind to a Better Homes and Gardens look and there you have her back yard.

I pick it up and silently pray that I can maintain its beauty.

When I get the gift home, I proudly display the flower on my front entrance for all to see.

And then my crazy life happens. Children need my time, laundry requires my attention, book deadlines must be met, scorching heat keeps me from bringing the newborn out and suddenly what was once breath-taking looks like a pot of tiny dead sticks.

Oops. That's all I can say about that.

Every time I drive out of the driveway or play with the girls I think I've got to get rid of that eye sore. But I never get around to it. So there it sits in all its ugliness beyond a point of redemption.

Or so I think.

Until one day the girls ask to play sidewalk chalk. As I'm laying there getting my body traced, a blossom catches my eye.

It can't be.

Sure enough, there in the pot is evidence of a gorgeous petunia bursting forth.

And it was almost like God said, "Nothing is ever beyond redemption to me."

Smiling, I gave the flower a drink and began attempting to make what was once dead vibrant once more.

As I put the watering can down, I wondered what our lives would look like, how we would feel, if we truly believed God could do the same for us.

Have you ever felt weak, worn down, or lost? Has a decision you've made or something that has happened in your life caused you to spiritually wilt or emotionally die?

There is good news for all of us. The same artistic God that made the beautiful blossoms also created a depth of beauty in you. Your uniqueness steals His eye and He will work to bring forth new splendor when the furnace of life threatenes to steal your God-made glow.

We are works in progress always loved, always nurtured, and always filled with potential to live redeemed, vibrant lives.
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