Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gratituesday: Oh, how he LOVES Us!

My favorite stories are stories of how God continues to remind us of how much he loves us.  In the big and in the small he sees our earnest desire for all the little things that make us uniquely his!

I have been on a blog hiatus taking care of so many things.   One was an opportunity to host a garage sale to benefit my brother Sean's family and his son Carter.  I jumped at the chance as that is my thing!  In the midst or organizing that, teaching my kids, feeding my family, etc. we got a call that gave us pause on everything.

Before I proceed, let me preface my story by saying everybody is fine. I am also the type of gal who once faced with a dilemma isn't keen with completely leaving it up to God.  He always trumps me, but I entertain the idea that if I don't act he can't work.  Ha, jokes on me!  I'm constantly in awe how God doesn't just fix a problem, he uses the most unlikely sources and links hearts and lives together.

That being said, Sunday August 8th, my Sister-In-Law, Chelle calls my husband to ask some AC repair questions and in the process let's us know that their AC went out.  To those reading who are not from Texas, our summer heat is brutal and we have been topping off most days in the 100's.  My heart started to race and I began to panic as I thought of Carter enduring that heat...inside!  Long story short they ask that we keep it between ourselves and we get off the phone.  If I was in a financial position to replace it that would have been that.  But we are not, not even close.  As we talked, I cried and prayed my Hubby remembered his uncle had a portable AC.  We worked out the details and hit the road to literally hook them up.  When we got there, their house felt like a sauna.  After running all the errands that included air conditioning buildings they retreated to their front yard and filled the kiddie pool to kill some of the heat.  Luckily, they had another AC from Chelle's Dad and together they lowered the inside temp by about 5 degrees.  For real!  With nothing left to do we said our goodbyes and prayed it would cool over night.  It did not and they retreated to a hotel we would later learn.

By Monday night  I was out of ideas and I broke my promise to Chelle and called my sister.  Hoping her and her husband knew someone or a possible avenue to take that would fix this situation.  I figured at least that was two more people praying and that counted for something right.  Well, my Brother-In-Law has more guts than I have.  As he brainstormed what to do he came up with an idea.  He emailed Mark Cuban's assistant!  The name Mark Cuban may not ring a bell, but prepare to be impressed...he is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks professional basketball team.  Nothing like going for it...I mean 'no' would leave us in the same position anyway.  Fast forward he not only agreed to help he PAID for a NEW AC!  And then touched by Carter's story the AC company, Crow Heating and AC PAID for a NEW FURNACE and ALL THE LABOR!  There are many more details to this story that you can read at Carter's site.

So now that the AC was taken care of we could move on to the Garage Sale.  Sean and Chelle had asked several weeks prior to come home for a Garage Sale.  We finalized a date and I set out to get donations to hopefully get a few more things to sell for them.  I sent out two emails.  One to close friends and one to our local Homeschooling Group.  I was blown away at the generosity of others.  Between pick up and drop offs from family and friends we had 11 families give out of their abundance to help mine!  Two families from our Homeschool Group, that I hardly know...as in met once, brought car fulls.  My garage, car port, living room and porch were spilling over with donations before Sean and Chelle ever made it to town.  Along with donations, my sister and Mom made baked goods and the local paper ran an additional small write up to advertise the garage sale and Carter's site.

I was so blessed by the generosity of others that I almost missed it.  While each precious person was so appreciated who gave no matter how big, small, in kind, in prayer, in hugs, or financial donations, it was the fact that each was a physical example of the Father's love for US.  I was blown away that not only were my prayers answered, he loved me extravagantly through each small gesture and detail.

This lesson will be one that I treasure for years to come.  I love when God shows up and shows me up....he was there all along.  While He still calls me to be obedient He is still in control.  So many lessons to cherish.

If that wasn't enough I was able to get in lots of Carter snuggle time and my ginormous family got to take a family picture complete with grand babies.  We were missing three members, but for this brood that was pretty good!

On a not so happy note, our life is never short of a dull moment.  In all the cousin fun, Carter fell Sunday.  He apparently fell in such a way on his knee that he fractured his femur.  This poor little guy had to cast up his entire leg and will have to have it in a cast for 7 weeks.  With Carter's in and out hospital visits and stays he has still not mastered walking independently.  Please pray that he would heal quickly and accurately and that it would NOT pose any obstacles for the future.

Please continue to pray for Sean to find a job and if you feel lead please visit Carter's site for a link to their personal paypal account for donations.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

CSN Review #2

I blogged about an opportunity to review an up and coming site, CSN back in May and then I posted a follow up in July.  My experience was bittersweet.  I loved the site, I loved the customer service reps, I loved the product I chose...but some of the policies were a little wonky and that frustrated me a bit.  Always one to give some one another a chance I was eager to give them another try when a CSN rep contacted me to do another review.

So I thought the best way to do that was to start with fresh eyes and review all the site had to offer. To give me some inspiration, I pretended I had money to spruce up my house. If I had some of that pretend money and could change something  about my house I would start with the kitchen.  It's a galley kitchen and a tad cramped.  The biggest hurdle is the tiny space allotted for our kitchen table, which happens to be near the washer and dryer.  Given the space for a larger dining room set, I would be interested in this one.

There were lots of dining room sets to chose from,  but I loved all the details on this one. I love the bench, the criss-cross back of the chairs,  and the fact that it has cushions...which I would recover.

Moving on to the living room, I would replace our TV Stand with an actual armoire

I am in LOVE with this armoire! To be honest if I could afford this beauty I would keep it exactly the same and work my living room around the paint color...this would mean a COMPLETE redo!

And since I have my parents bedroom set from when I was growing up, that would be next on the list.

I would love the ceilings AND budget to afford this one....four poster bed = to die!  Guess I loved my childhood bed more than I remembered!  This set is gorgeous and HUGE... I would definitely need to gut and expand our master to make it work.

Whew, that was quite therapeutic!  Shocking that I was able to window shop without money and enjoy it!  I will be honest and say that given the budget I would probably STILL not have any of those gems as the hubby would surely VETO 'em!
Guess, I'll have to some back to reality with my next CSN purchase, I'll keep you posted with what I pick.

*Full Disclosure: CSN Stores contacted me with this promotional opportunity. I am being compensated for my review concerning my personal experience with CSN Stores.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mommy Time Out

I love the funny quotes from the back of Parents Magazine.  Typically I flip straight to the back to read them. August's issue had one that jumped out at me and sure applies today.

Tone Cold
I was reading a book to my kids and got to a part where I read, "And he spoke with a voice that was sharpish and bossy."  My three year old, Bryce, said, "Oh, like you, Mom?"
Crissy Maurer; Potalnd, Oregon

Ha, ha...but not really. So here's how it applied to today.

I lost it.  Vacation is over, Daddy returned to work, and reality set in.

How can my children love each other so much and yet be so ugly to one another?  Nothing gets me more upset with my kids than when they hit one another.  They immediately blow up and lash out.  What is that about?

Fast forward to the mirror God is holding in front of my face.  Oh, that's right, I set the example.

When I immediately  let my emotion takeover and parent in anger I will always come up short and in turn be anything BUT the example of Christ.  The beauty is that God's grace is sufficient and he's not done with me yet.  Yet, I still hate that after being a Mommy for nearly eleven years I still battle my temper on a daily basis.  And I still apologize to my babies on a daily basis.  I don't want to be that do as I say, not as I do parent.  I want my life to be the example of how to behave, not how not to.

So, how do I get from here to there.  I don't know for sure, but repenting, praying, and giving it to Jesus sound about right.  So here we are again God. Shape me to look less like me and more like you.  Make me to love with compassion, understanding, and grace like you do.  Mold me to be the Mommy you intended me to be and give me the patience for it to happen in your timing.

Maybe then I will hear more of, "Your the best Mommy in the world.", rather than to see eyes filled with hurt.  Better make the best of Mommy time out and pray while they are napping.

Works For Me Wednesday: Prayer


My name is Jenni and I'm a pray-a-holic.  

Remember, Darryl Hannah's character, Annelle in Steel Magnolia's...bad girl gone good?  Mercy, that girl would drop to her knees at the drop of a hat swear word.  Okay, bad comparison, I'm not that kooky or that disciplined.  

I am, however, a rather long winded pray-er (yes, I coined the term). Every night we pray as a family.  Typically it's devotions and then each person takes a turn sharing their favorite part of the day and then prays.  Carlisle order is Bella, Caleb, Mommy, and then Daddy...not birth order (YES I'm older than the hubs, hold the snickers), hierarchy rules our roost.  By the time we get to Daddy, he gives a LOUD AMEN for Mommy cuz I've covered the nation and then some in prayer.  I come by it honestly...I'm a lover!  

I am also a copycat...not to be confused with a thief, cuz I'm gonna share links for you to be a copy cat too!  If you have been reading my blog for any length of time you know my Hubby and I come from BIG families.  Hence, me praying for years at a time each night.  So, to help with that and cover all who we love I borrowed a couple of ideas.

Hubby Prayer Calendar
Kiddos Prayer Calendar
These two calendars are on my fridge...you know a place you frequent throughout the day. *SIGH*  I found these beauties at Inspired To Action.  Kat is my IRL (in real life) friend and not only is she amazing, so is her blog and her wisdom!  I actually spotted them on our mutual IRL friend Kim's fridge and borrowed the background idea from her.  She was able to take the Hubby and Kiddo Prayer Calendars and personalize them with her hubby and kiddos names on each day.  I am not that computer savvy and as many can attest, if I don't run with an idea it more than likely doesn't happen!  So if you are interested in this idea, print each one on (I suggest) card stock. You can either trim as I did and center on a piece of standard scrapbook  paper or you can leave as is and center on a large piece of scrapbook paper (hold in place with tape).  Then laminate and affix a couple of magnets on the back. Viola, pretty and functional!

Small Plug...If you haven't linked from the icon on my page to get Kat's ebook, Maximize Your Mornings, you are seriously missing out.  Go get it!

This bad boy, is all me!  Very sad, but it does the trick.  You know when you tell some one about your life and they tell you they are going to be praying for you.  Well, I mean it.  I have a terrible memory...the kind that if it's not written down you might as well forget it!  To beat the lack of memory I started using the dry erase board I kept on my fridge. I have wrote, erased and rewrote SO MANY desires of friends and families hearts on that board.  Whole generations have been poured over in prayer because of that board.  I in no way want to imply that has anything to do with me.  There is a connection that happens when you pray for one another.  Relationships have been made through seasons of prayer.  

One such prayer request is for a friend from high school, Julia, that just so happens to be my husband's ex girlfriend.  I know to others that seems unusual, but I cannot explain the deep love I share for these two people who earnestly desire to be parents.  Please pray for the miracle of a baby for this sweet couple!

This is another borrowed idea from Julie at Joy's Hope, only it was a guest post from Kristin.  I LOVED this idea the moment I laid eyes on it....isn't it pretty!  I encourage you go take a look at the link as I did a watered down option using mostly what I had on hand.  The only thing I purchased was the tin in the dollar bins at Target.  Then the kids and I just cut and tied the ribbon to the pail handle.  When we finished the pail part we wrote down all our families names (one depressor per family, no matter the # of family members), close friends, and organizations/ministries close to our heart. I then split the list and had the kids use markers to write each name on tongue depressors.  The running joke is that God apparently wants to move in our hearts (or theirs...both maybe) for my sister-in-law's family, as they get 'picked' ALL the time!  The idea for us is to cover everyone in our family throughout the course of the week without having a prayer vigil everyday (not that there is ANYTHING wrong with that).

We also used this idea for chores...same idea just comply a list of chores that are age appropriate for your children.  Since ours are close in age, they are equally responsible and capable.  When we use this method (sometimes Mommy just doles chores out) I have them pick three each for the day.  This eliminates complaining or the inevitable 'picking' of the more desirable chores and everyone gets their fair share of scrubbing toilets.  Yes, you read that right...my 8 & 10 year old's scrub toilets!

Another shameless plug...if you like to SAVE MONEY, check out my sister-in-law, Missy's blog!

This last one I borrowed from one of Kristen's post @ We Are That Family.  This is actually part of the curriculum we chose this year, but not for the 4th grade curriculum.  I have a slight book addiction, so this was a perfect excuse reason to purchase it!  I haven't quite put this one into motion, but I think I'll copycat that part too and start by using it at the dinner table, as well.

I hope you are able to find some prayer ideas to borrow for your family too.  There is nothing like praying with your kiddos and then experiencing the fruition of those prayers coming to pass!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gratituesday: Crystal Blue Water and White Sand

So with my hit and miss blogging I'm sure no one noticed the absence...however, we got back Saturday from a week long break in the Florida sun.  Well  half of us did.  Bella and I spent the week with some of the Carlisle ladies in Florida, while the boys roughed it in some crazy heat in Alabama with some of the Carlisle boys.  I was definitely homesick from my boys, so I was thrilled when they met up with us Thursday night to finish our vacation together and the trip home.

The boys stayed at my Father-In-Laws property in Alabama, camping camper style.  Caleb and his cousin Zac, however, wanted a chance to experience  some real camping and spent one night in a tent.  They spent quite a bit of time talking into the night with flashlights.  I did say ONE night, as they soon realized it was too hot for that!  They also had a chance to fish, nearly every day and you bet Caleb was ALL over that!  And, it wouldn't be a Man's camping trip for my Hubby without bringing the guns along, so they each took a turn at that as well.

First Catch

Kiss for LUCK!

Camping out with flashlights!

Target shooting with the boys!
We were hardly roughing it!  We met my Mother-In-Law's sister and some of her family at Ft. Walton Beach, right next to Destin.  We each had a condo overlooking the breath taking ocean.  The comparison to our muddy Texas gulf water and and less than desirable beaches was night and day.  (Don't believe what you 'see' on TV folks, Florida beaches are BEAUTIFUL and OPEN for business!) Just so we are clear I love Texas and we had a blast when we were at Mustang Island last year, but you CANNOT beat white sand and crystal blue water.  To be completely honest a storm blew in some murky waters with seaweed, but it was still beautiful.  We also saw a few tar balls, but they were more or less pebbles in size and in no way affected our beach time!   We did our fair share of site seeing and shopping, but the best view was beach side.  We also lucked out with a pool, when we decided to forgo the ocean.

Balcony Beach Shot

Hermit Crab Hunting
Bella Boo Boogy'n
Boogie Board Battle
Sand Castle
Suntan anyone?
My Honey and I
My Babies!
We were so thankful for our getaway!  We will treasure our break from reality and the memories we made!  We did learn however, that we are creatures of habit and while we LOVED our trip we were also ready to be home and back to our 'routine'.  Nothing beats quality time with family!