Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Gentle Jesus

When Peter saw Jesus walking on water, he asked the Lord to invite him to come join. With the invitation, Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on water too but then got afraid. Beginning to sink, he cried out to the Lord Jesus. Our Messiah reached out and saved him then said, "You have so little faith. Why did you doubt me?" Matthew 14:22-36

I've been moved lately to the conviction that Christians in general don't hear or speak enough about Christ. Instead the bulk of our speech and what we are taught is about "right living." I'm beginning to see how letting our conversation be saturated with talk of Jesus is a narrow road and how a focus on mostly "right living" is the broad one. So in our family times, and more in my conversations, I want to speak about him most because he is the Heart of All!!!

Last night during our family devotional, my daughter and I spoke about Jesus and it was amazing! Like many of us who didn't grow up consistently attending church, there is SO much about Jesus she doesn't know and what she perceives isn't biblically accurate. I can relate.

So as she described Jesus to me, and since she's reading through Matthew in her personal times with God, she brought up the story above and mentioned how mad Jesus was at Peter. Is that how you read it too? I remember as a younger Christian reading verses the same way! Do you read scriptures as though Jesus and God are totally frustrated at people all the time? Honestly, many of us do. Consider with me, though, Galatians 5:22-23. In this passage the fruits of the Holy Spirit are described, " love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." These descriptions are of God's why do we so often read Jesus with a harsh or disappointing tone even if he's correcting?

Since the bible is not labeled with emoticons :) my suggestion to her, and to you, is to read Jesus with a fruit of the spirit tone unless there are words written to describe his tone differently. I described the verse above to my daughter again but in the light of thinking about when a child walks for the first time. See the excitement in the parent's eyes with each step the child makes...when they stumble or get scared most parents don't come back with a harsh tone. When a child is experiencing walking for the first time parents try to be there to swoop them up in their arms. So I see Jesus with excitement in his eyes as Peter takes his first steps of walking on water. Then I see him swooping him up like a father would his child in a huge hug when he got scared and began sinking. Then how Jesus spoke about faith and doubt but with compassion, gentleness and understanding.

I think when we see Jesus fully in the light of the fruit of the Spirit, our whole outlook and reading of his life on earth can make our hearts take a beautiful shift! Remember Jesus loves you.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Valentine Day Gift Ideas

Did you realize Valentine's day is only 28 days away. Don't wait until the last minute to plan for your special loved one. Take some time to really make them feel special. LOVE is awesome! Whether you are single, dating, or married the fact is we ALL have someone that we can show love and appreciation to. Here are some quick ideas to spark your mind and heart. Please add your own special touch to these and adapt them. I've started out with some basics and added variations to get your creative juices flowing. Enjoy spreading the love!

Gift ideas for Children
  • Tic-Tacs & Tic Tac Toe board. This is precious, can be fun to play together and not too much sugar. 
  • Make the bracelet above for your kid'o. Here's how: Heart bracelets
  • My dad left for work early before mom and I had gotten out of bed but, even if the holiday fell on a weekend, he always left a red box of Valentine chocolates for my mom and a pink one for me when we woke up. Made me feel super special!
  • Leave surprise notes all over the house for kids to find. On them share what you love and appreciate about them.
  • Consider surprising your child in the morning by hanging hearts in their doorway. (or all over the house) On the hearts, write sweet words of encouragement and love. Check Hearts Galore idea here. (picture below)

Gifts ideas for Women
  • Romantic: Simple wine glass (dollar stores are a great place to buy one) - if it's painted, even better. Fill with chocolate, or hand written encouragement notes. Tie a fancy red ribbon around the base for special touch. ** Variation: buy two and enjoy some wine/sparkling cider with a toast in a location that's special to you both. Add simple grapes/cheeses for an "indoor picnic".
  • Poetic: Buy a small, cute box. Write your own poem(s) or print off some special ones. Roll up like a scroll and tied with a fancy red ribbon. Place some real rose petals or silk flowers inside the box along side the poems. Wrap and give with a sweet valentine card.** Variation: After the gift is opened, recite these poems personally to your special person. If there is a special item mentioned in the poem (like a rose, jewelry, etc) consider handing it to them as you speak those words in the poem.
  • Dreamers: Purchase an inexpensive book that would inspire your special person. Inside write a sweet note of love and encouragement. Consider flipping through the book and marking some pages that you think they will enjoy with heart shaped memos.** Variation: Spend time together flipping through the book or making a dream list. Cozy book stores or in front of a fireplace are great locations for this.
  • Inspiration: On squares of beautiful, valentine card stock, write out inspiring quotes or sayings. Carefully hole punch the left corner of each square and loop all the cards together with fancy red ribbon. Please a few chocolates inside and wrap in a pretty valentine box. ** Variation: make each card have positive affirmations or romantic quotes. You can also write on each card things you love about your special person.
  • Simple reminders: Fill a picture frame (valentine theme a bonus) with encouraging words, favorite poems, funny pictures of the two of you, things you have drawn etc. Wrap in valentine gift wrap and include a sweet card. **Variation: Keep & display items from dates by creating a shadow box and embellishing with hearts inside. Some examples are: ticket stubs, branded napkin from a favorite restaurant, tokens, photographs...etc...
Gifts ideas for Men
  • Are there any successful men or someone he admires? Fill a small photo album with quotes from them. Gift-wrap in valentine style and consider writing to him why he is a man you admire.  
  • Gift him a special valentine card and with it provide a food gift certificate/gas card inside. Guys do enjoy practical things sometimes.
  • Gift him tickets to his favorite upcoming sporting event. Surprise him by placing them in a place he won't expect it.
  • Want a gift that gives on Valentine's day and beyond? Give a food, beer, or wine of the month club gift certificate.
  • Cook him a special or favorite lunch/dinner. If a lunch, consider if there is a way to deliver to him at work. If dinner, set a special valentine atmosphere.
  • Bake him something sweet! Wrap up in a simple valentine box and surprise deliver. Consider sharing with him what you find to be "sweet" about him.
  • Buy an accessory for his favorite gadget. Package in a valentine box. Share with him all the special ways he improves your life and makes you smile. 

Here's an idea of a funny, homemade 3-D card. I thought this was priceless and perfect for all those in love! Origami Valentine

 Pop-up Cards instructions:

  • Fold a colorful sheet of paper in half vertically.
  • On the fold, cut four short lines near the middle of that fold.
  • Push the two “flaps” these cuts make towards the inside of the card and make a crease.
  • With construction paper cut out balloons, flowers, or letters spelling your message.
  • Tape or glue these items to the “flaps” inside your card. (make sure these items do not stick out when the card is closed)
  • Glue another piece of paper around the edges to the outside of the card.
  • Write any further messages. (design and date the back)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Victory Jar 2014 & Adoption Day!

This morning I'm reading all my victories that I recorded in 2014. It's amazing how many of these I forget as the year passes. These are not only my personal victories but beautiful things that happened which made me feel special and loved. Of course, our "gotcha day" was the biggest so I'll finally be able to share pictures now that it's done. They are at the end of the post. Anyway, I'm so grateful I had these written so I can remember and smile! Random order...
  • Began visiting a nursing and rehab facility in my neighborhood to encourage the residents there 
  • Completed some projects at work that went wonderful and received praise from my boss
  • Had my first respite visit and was able to love up on a young sibling group from foster care
  • Worship God at night under the stars
  • Memorize a new poem
  • Completed my photo album for the adoption agency and began submitting homestudy for potential children
  • Enjoyed the company of two best friends who came over with dinner and prayed with me during an extremely challenging time this year 
  • Secret serving of another
  • Began zendoodling 
  • Planned a wonderful "Strength Weekend" for me and some close friends to get away and get closer to God
  • Met my daughter for the first time...
  • Received gift from church for my daughter to attend teen camp and a teen weekend
  • Put a hybrid exercise machine together by myself
  • Made dinner for a couple and served them in my home
  • Had an funky and unique 40th birthday party at a spa & trendy hotel with friends
  • I was called "Mom" for the first time by my girl.
  • Followed God's spirit and left an ill-fitted group at church
  • Connected with several parents who foster teens
  • Joined an amazing family group in my church, in my area - their support this year has been incredible
  • Finished ALL that paperwork for the adoption
  • Successful sweet 16 birthday party for my daughter :)
  • Had an amazing July 4th and family reunion to introduce my potential daughter to extended family
  • Terrific "girls weekend" with my momma
  • Enjoyed a segway adventure and David Garrett concert with my folks
  • Joined a parenting/teen class with my girl
  • Challenged a book in the library of my girl's high school and WON! They reviewed it and decided it's subject matter was too pornographic and pulled it from the shelves
  • Got a wonderful new treadmill to exercise
  • Opened up and shared deeply with friends about some fears and hurts from others
  • Finished Christmas shopping early to help my budget
  • Started a prayer journal to widen my prayer life
  • Heard a great message about embracing the full ministry of Jesus "The Great Compassion" 
  • Survived cat dental cleaning and other cat health issues - ha
  • Great friend traveled to my job several time to have lunch with me and encourage me
  • Coworker praised me to my boss
  • Asked my girl if she would be open to us "adopting" each other - she said yes!
  • Planned annual trip to hometown and got to see an answered prayer of my daughter seeing the passion play with me that I watched as a teen!
  • Completed the sponsorship of a teen in the Compassion program - Chidodolo graduated on to police school
  • Enjoyed a day of "healing" - rain, butterflies and special time with God
  • Decorated for the holidays with my daughter and enjoyed seeing things as she experienced it
  • Amazing family photo session to celebrate my new family
  • Adoption Day! Family, friends, laughter and so much joy
  • Began new family, new traditions, new life!
I'm certain more things happened during the months before the adoption but that I was just too busy to record them. Ultimately this has been a life changing and amazing year! I'm so grateful and in awe. Life is good and God's plans are best. 

Introducing my new smart, funny and beautiful daughter. :) 

My best friend support team! 

The moment after the judge granted our adoption.

My amazing parents! I'm so grateful for their support.
Would have been tough without this crew as our support.

The one who calls me Mom. :)