Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I'm Dating My Husband, Again!

Before marriage, my future-husband at the time, and I had the most romantic date nights, as I can guess most couples in love would have. We lived in New York City and enjoyed Manhattan together. Once married we continued to go to little bakeries, long walks and quiet evenings at home. Then children came...(You do hear the impounding music with those very words, right?)

With our first baby, it was hard for us to leave him because he was our first, but especially because we had just moved into an area where we didn't know any young people well enough to be our sitter. With our second child, who was born sickly, it was definitely hard to leave her. Then with our third pregnancy we found we were having twins! I tried a few, different, young girls to babysit our four children under four years old and for some reason, they were always busy when we needed them. =S

It's been a struggle. A big struggle to find someone who was mature enough to handle four young children and still not charge too much. We found that after paying a babysitter, there wasn't much money left to do anything fun or romantic. Our dates ended up being long walks- not my favorite. What I really wanted to do was get dressed up and have a special night out at a restaurant or go somewhere special, but with our budget it just wasn't going to be. We eventually had more children and of course to pay someone to watch six kids was out of the budget. So, eventually, our date nights became pretty much obsolete. What started as a date night in our early marriage, of once a week, moved to once a month, to finally once every three months. After many years of this inconsistency, we really just forgot about dating each other and the importance of it.

Our marriage needed quiet, consistent date nights. I needed a time where I knew I could have my husband's undivided attention to talk. I needed to share with him what was going on in my heart and mind all week long. I wanted to talk about the trillions of things that seem to happen every day. I wanted to hear about his job, his thoughts, fears, prayers, concerns, joys, et cetra. Waiting weeks for that one opportunity to really talk and be alone wasn't working. I began to feel unimportant, and unheard. I felt that I had to store it up for the one night out, but by the time the date rolled around some things resolved themselves and some things didn't seem worth talking about. I began to feel like he didn't know me because I wasn't able to share with him, big or little, the things that were on my heart.

Well, I am happy to say, that after eighteen years of marriage, we have figured it out. We have had consistent dates every single week for the past three years. Every Saturday night we are alone together. No children around. It is quiet. Did I say, we are alone? When we started this, three years ago, our oldest was still too young to babysit all of his siblings and we still couldn't afford a babysitter, so we decided that if we really wanted a date we had to stay home.

So, this is what we do: Every Saturday evening we feed the children dinner, have them shower, get ready for bed and put the littlest two to bed early. The other four are sent upstairs at seven-o'clock and are required to stay upstairs until their appointed bedtime. The children know they are to be quiet, read or play nicely until their bedtime. They are not to disturb our date. At seven-o'clock we kiss them all goodnight, go downstairs and have our date night together.

I know some of you are thinking, "I could never get my kids to be quiet and put themselves to sleep on their own." Remember, everything we want to teach our children takes training. ("Train up a child in the way he should go...") Train them. It doesn't happen over night, it takes time and training. My husband and I talked for weeks at the dinner table about our Saturday date nights. We shared with them what was to be expected. We shared with them that it was our special time together and it was only going to happen one night a week. There were questions. There were problems that arose, but after about four date nights the children understood what we expected and were able to obey. If you really want something you fight for it-right? Well, I'm telling you, that this is worth fighting for.

After kissing them goodnight, we go downstairs, and we have the whole main-floor to ourselves. We usually make a nice dinner for two, and talk. Once a month we order Chinese food, and rent a movie. We spend about fifteen dollars a month, total, on our date nights. It's not about spending money to have a good time. It's about having our night to be together. To talk. To catch up. To just have peace and quiet.

It has made such a difference for me. I used to feel frustrated, even resentful, that we couldn't have a date night. I needed it. I really needed to talk to my husband, my best friend, and share my heart with him. Now, I know that if the week is busy, hard, difficult, whatever, I have Saturday night to be alone with him to unload, and recharge.  After eighteen years of marriage we are falling in love all over again.

I really encourage all the married couples out there that have forgotten to have time alone with their hubbies each week, to talk about how you can have a special time together each week.  Marriage is work, so we need to remember to put 'fun' into it somewhere. We need to find a time to remember why we are in love. I know for me, I have learned so many new things about my husband. Things that have changed in the way he looks at things or feels about things and I didn't even know had changed. It's been exciting to feel close again. I just wish I had thought of this or was advised years and years ago. Date nights are important for both of you- I encourage you to fight for it, it's so worth it!
 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Little House on the Prairie: Chapter 7 & 8

Little House on the Prairie: Chapter 7 & 8
The Wolf Pack and Two Stout Doors
 
Chapter seven tells the story of how Pa was followed by a pack of wolves,
and how the fifty wolves surrounded their home all night long!
I borrowed a few books on coyotes and wolves to learn about the
two kinds of animals that Pa encounters.
 


 
Then we wrote reports on them!
Three children chose to study the coyote
and two chose to study the wolf.



 
Chapter 8: Two Stout Doors
Teaches us how Pa made the door to the house and the stable
with-OUT nails!
 
We worked together to list, in order,
the steps Pa and Laura took to create the doors.
 
 
 


 
On Friday we talked about the different animals and plant life
across the United States.


   The Tundra, the desert, the forest and the prairie.
 
 
Below is a pocket we made to hold pictures of all
the animals that live on the prairie that Laura mentions.
 
So far we have collected pictures of
buffalo, ground squirrels, gophers, prairie dogs,
and prairie chickens.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Success or Failure?

"Am I a success or a failure?" is a question that has been bouncing around in my mind for a few weeks now. Some days I feel like a success, but honestly, more days than I'd like to count, I feel like a failure. I tried to sit and define what success means to me just so I can better understand why my emotions flip-flop so much.  Many things came to my mind, but the answer for me was this: success means to work hard at something and see it flourish, see it multiply, see it become bigger than what you had originally envisioned. That's success. With that definition in my heart, I now understand why, much of the time, I see myself as a failure. 

Before anyone tells me that I'm not a failure, let me give you a few examples of what I see:

-I wrote a Pre-School curriculum. I worked day and night to complete it. I labored over it and prayed to hear from the Lord as to what children need to learn about God. Result- I have sold a few books, but it hasn't gone anywhere. I have even worked hard to market it, but still nothing.
Analysis: failure.

-I clean and clean and train my children how to keep a tidy home. I work hard, very hard to keep an organized, clean home. I teach and train. I look around my house and I see clutter, dirty floors, walls, and the most unsightly closets.
Analysis: failure.

-I love ministering to women and children. I love this blog. I love sharing my heart on the blog to bring comfort and healing to other women as God has comforted and healed me. I love creating crafts that bring moms and kids together. I've been writing this blog for five years, I still have only twenty-five followers.
Analysis: failure.

-I begin dieting, eating right, excising. I believe that this time I will stay committed, but then something happens, I stop and go back to my old ways.
Analysis: failure.

Success in the Webster's Dictionary says, "A favorable or satisfactory outcome or result. Something having such an outcome. The gaining of wealth, fame, rank."  My children said they think success is "completing something" another said, "completing something well." I thought about all of this and thought, "Yes, completing my book, writing a blog article, cleaning the house does make me feel successful, BUT again there is no continued feeling of success when the book doesn't sell, the article isn't noticed or the house becomes a mess again. I think, "So what was all that work for?

I was beginning to feel like a hamster running on a wheel. I was running and running and working hard, but in all actuality, I felt like I was going no where. I was questioning, "Is all my work in vain? Am I wasting my time?"

Then, I recently re-watched, with my son, the movie, The Blindside. It's about a homeless, black young man who was taken in my a white family. The family took him into their hearts, gave him shelter, food, and an education. They turned his life around simply by being the hands and feet of Christ on this earth. As the credits rolled, tears began to form in my eyes. My son looked at me and said, 'Why are you crying?' I said, "One person made a huge difference in the life of another."

Then I thought about my life. Twenty-one years ago I was a homeless, white girl who was taken in by a black family. They took me into their hearts, gave me shelter, food and a deeper love for Jesus. They turned my life around simply by being the hands and feet of Christ. One person made a difference. I often think that I am doing nothing and I am going no where, but the truth is God uses me to touch the lives of others, when, many times I don't even realize it.

So, what does 'success' mean to me now? Success means to be used by God to touch the lives of others without always knowing the outcome. To be obedient to write books, write articles, pray for anyone He puts on my heart, pray with people-even strangers, in order to touch lives with the love of Jesus. To be His hands and feet on this earth. To love and raise my children to follow after Christ so that someday they will be the hands and feet of Christ to others. To love and cherish my husband so he can go out into the world and impact it for Christ. In loving and praying with others I might not always get to see the effect in their lives- I might not see the 'outcome,' but knowing that I was obedient is where the success lies. If I can do this, little thing, touch lives for Christ, be obedient to God, then I am a success.

I'm not going to lie and say that it wouldn't be nice to see my book published, -it would. Or to see my blog take off! -it would. But, all the recognition from this world, or lack of, doesn't make me a success or failure. Helping another fall in love with Jesus, giving them hope, doing for others what was once done for me is all the 'success' I really want.

Lord,

Help me to be content in my obedience to you. Help me to be your hands to touch, hold or bring healing to others. Help me to be your feet to walk and go where others are hurting and need you. Help me to touch lives in your name. Help me to deny the worlds definition of success and take up what you deem is successful in my life. I release my book, writings, house, dieting, and more, into your hands.
Thank you for agape love through my time of frustration and confusion. Thank you for using me even when I saw myself as a failure. Thank you God for comforting my heart and helping me to see the true meaning of success. Help me to never forget it again.
Your girl,
Ellie

Monday, February 16, 2015

"Gifts from God" Birthday Party Theme

For my daughter's 13th birthday we tried to think of a special theme.
She loves all forms of art-
She loves dance-
She loves playing the piano-
and the list could go on.
Not one idea felt right to be the theme for her 13th birthday.
Then it came to me,
all the things she loves to do
are Gifts from God.
The theme was set -'Gifts from God.' 
 
My daughter and I began making paper
presents for the decorations.
(She adores the chevron pattern).
I made the labels.
 






 






 

 The decorations were taped to the windows.
 
 
So, with the theme, "Gifts from God,"
the cake had to be a present!
 
It's a six layer cake!
I've never made one before
and I haven't worked with fondant in years,
but she was so happy!

 

 


With each child's birthday,
we begin our time together with worship and prayer.
The birthday child chooses the worship songs
and when we are done we all gather around the child
and pray a blessing on them.


 
 My littlest loves to dance while we sing!

 
Here's the inside of the cake-- half eaten!


It was a wonderful birthday because the focus was on how much the Lord has blessed her and wants to use her gifts for His glory and to touch the world.  We also gave her thirteen presents that I coordinated with Scriptures that we wanted to use to speak into her life. I really believe and it is a birthday that she will not forget.


 


Saturday, February 14, 2015

13 Presents-13th Birthday, for my Daughter!

 A few years ago I wrote,
"13 Birthday-13 Presents."
It was an article where I put together thirteen presents
for my niece, whereby each gift correlated with the Scripture
that I wanted to use to speak into her life.
Well, it's MY daughter's turn!

Before I begin I just want to take a moment and say
that thirteen presents can be purchased at a dollar store
or with the coupons, or throughout the year to save money.
It doesn't have to be an expensive, overwhelming project.
My husband and I know our daughter loves art and crafts.
We bought everything you will see over a year's time
using 50% off coupons. It can be done =)

Present #1:
  "How beautiful on the mountains
    are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
    who bring good tidings,
    who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
    “Your God reigns!”(Isaiah 52:7)

I love this Scripture.
I want to impress on my daughter's heart
that every step she takes can be used as an
 opportunity to share the Love of Jesus with others.
I bought her, her favorite kind of socks!
 
Here it is wrapped with the Scripture posted to it...

Present #2: 
"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
(Proverbs 31:30)
In her teenage years and beyond
I want to remind her that
God loves her, not for her beauty, but for who she is.
Wearing make-up and doing her nails is innocent fun,
but to always remember what is more important -
 her relationship with Jesus.
We got her nail polish.
Here it is wrapped with the Scripture posted to it...
 
Present #3:
 "But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives
 in Christ’s triumphal procession and
uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere."
(2 Corinthians 2:14)
 
Our walk with Jesus should be a beautiful aroma to all those around us.
People should want to be near us because
they can 'smell' the love of Jesus on us
and want to know Him for themselves.
We bought her body lotion and body sprays.
Here it is wrapped with the Scripture posted to it...
 
Present #4:
"Gracious words are a honeycomb,
    sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."
(Proverbs 16:24)
 
My daughter LOVES and I mean LOVES Candy!
And as much as I want her to be 'sweet' for Jesus,
I really want to remind her that as that candy touches her tongue
and she tastes it's sweetness,
allow the Holy Spirit to touch her tongue and make it sweet.
Don't use your tongue to tease, or to hurt people with mean words.
We bought her lollipops and angel chocolates.
 Here it is wrapped with the Scripture posted to it...

Present #5:
"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,
who gives generously to all without finding fault,
 and it will be given to you." (James 1:5) 
 
One thing that I wanted to remind her or encourage her about is having a teachable heart. So many times, throughout my life, I was too insecure (prideful) to listen to a word of correction. Sometimes I was too afraid of change and wouldn't allow myself to be taught. Having a teachable heart is so important. God has placed certain people in our lives that He wants to use for our good. My heart is to encourage her to be teachable all throughout her life,
so, I bought her a chalk board
(I think she will decorate and design it herself).
Here it is wrapped with the Scripture posted to it...

Present #6:
"But Jesus called the children to him and said,
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
(Luke 18:16)
I know my daughter is growing up and wants to be an adult,
but I want to remind her to stay a 'child' in her faith.
We bought her a penguin (her favorite animal) child's bowl
and a penguin cookie.
 Here it is wrapped with the Scripture posted to it...
 
Present #7:
"If we confess our sins,
he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins
and purify us from all unrighteousness."
(1 John 1:9)

My daughter has just begun her life- she is going to make mistakes. The important thing I would like her to remember is that Christ died for us and has taken our sins away. We need only confess our sin and we are forgiven . I want her to know that in Christ there are no regrets. I want her to remember to not allow her past sin to hold her back from moving forward with God.
We bought her a huge eraser.

"Come now, let us settle the matter," says the LORD. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool."
(Isaiah 1:18)
God makes us white as snow-
We also bought her 'white out.'

 
Here it is wrapped with the Scripture posted to it...
 

 


Present #8:
 "In the same way, let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
(Matthew 5:16)
My daughter is an artist.
When I found this 'sparkle set' I knew it would be the perfect
gift to go with this Scripture and something she would love!
As she creates and designs her art
and it 'shines' or glitters
remember to give God the glory for all He has done in your heart
and in talents.
We bought her a Sparkle Kit.
Here it is wrapped with the Scripture posted to it...

Present #9:
"This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2
 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says:
‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you. "
(Jeremiah 30:1-2)
 
My daughter loves to write...
Write letters, creative stories and
children's books!
But I also want her to begin writing down
or journaling the things the Lord is speaking to her heart.
I want to encourage her to begin
doing creative Bible Scriptures or journal writings.
We bought her gel pens.
Here it is wrapped with the Scripture posted to it... 
 
 
 
Present #10:
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
 as working for the Lord, not for human masters,"
(Colossians 3:23)
 
With all of my daughters gifts or talents
I want to remind her to do it all, with a full heart,
for God and not to impress friends, or family.


My daughter loves to dance.
She has been asked to be a part of a
fine arts competition in Maryland.
We have prayed about it, but have not told
her that we are allowing her to go.
Her gift is a certificate saying that
it is paid for and we give our consent for her to perform
in the competition.


 
 
Present #11:
"For just as each of us has one body with many members,
and these members do not all have the same function, 5
 so in Christ we, though many, form one body,
and each member belongs to all the others."
(Romans 12:4-5)
My daughter has been blessed with many gifts-
no pride here-God has done it, not me.
We bought this art set for her to remind her that
she is part of the body of Christ and to use her gifts
 to help the body, not just for herself.
We bought her a complete art set.

 
 
 
Present #12:

I thought to give her a new Bible, but when I asked her about her current one she expressed a deep and true love for it. Her father and I bought it for her when she was turning ten years old and she cannot part with it. So, that left me to look for a devotional. I found this one.

 The Scripture I used is found in Luke 11:28 (NIV)
"He replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and obey it."

I pray, as the world tries to pull her every which way, that her feet will be grounded in her love for Jesus and more importantly, His love for her.
 
Present #13:
"My son, keep your father’s command
    and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
21 Bind them always on your heart;
    fasten them around your neck.
22 When you walk, they will guide you;
    when you sleep, they will watch over you;
    when you awake, they will speak to you.
23 For this command is a lamp,
    this teaching is a light,
and correction and instruction
    are the way to life,"
(Proverbs 6:20-23)

I knew I wanted to get her a necklace to match this Scripture.
When I found this one I was so excited.
It has one birthstone for each month.
I thought she could place her birthstone inside the heart
along with mine and her father's.
I want her to remember that we are always here for her
and that although there will be many views, or  beliefs in the world
that will try to pull her away from God,
to remember there is only One True God, Jesus Christ.

 Here it is wrapped with the Scripture posted to it...
 
She was one thankful girl...