Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thankful Thursdays

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
- James 1:27

One character trait that I've prayed for many times is compassion. I admit I'm not a compassionate person. If you tell me your sad story with tears streaming down your cheeks, I probably won't cry with you. I will most likely just listen, hold your hand if you'd like, and give sound advise if requested. For some people that's more than enough; for others I come across as cold and a bit heartless. It isn't my intention. I'm like my mom - a very matter-of-fact type of person who's always looking at things on the practical side rather than the emotional side. I know God made me that way, but I also ask Him to teach me ways that I can show compassion to others. Once again, He delivered.

My oldest son has a friend from high school that's going through a rough period in his life (as many are these days). He's 23 years old, his parents died when he was young, and his adoptive parents moved some years ago to Peru, leaving him with no family here. He lost his job some time ago and has been trying to find work like over 10% of Floridians. Thankfully it looks like he'll start working tomorrow. In the meantime, however, due to circumstances out of his control, he was kicked out of the place where he was living, and had no place to stay till the weekend. In desperation he called my son and asked if we would let him stay with us till his new place was ready.

Now, my husband is currently out of town, and bringing a young man into my home when my husband isn't here makes me a bit uncomfortable. Not that this young man has ever behaved in any way that troubles me; he's a quiet, respectful young man who looks very sad most of the time. Still, it was a concern that I needed to pray about. I left it in God's hands: I told my son if his friend found no other place to stay he could come to our house. My son told me he'd tried to find another place and was considering a homeless shelter. Our home was his last resort. I was pained in my heart to think this young man, an orphan with no family, would have to stay in a place with alcoholics, drug addicts, and who knows what else because no one would extend a helping hand. God impressed upon me that this was my opportunity to show compassion, and to speak to someone about His mercy and grace. So I agreed to let him stay with us. He was so grateful, and he thanked me with tears in his eyes. Nope, I didn't cry. I told him that strength comes from difficult situations, that living through this would teach him to have compassion for others, and that God is trying to get his attention. It gave him something to think about. Now I have someone to lift up in prayer each day and night as I learn to help others in need.

So, that's what I'm thankful for today. I'm thankful for the opportunity to help someone, to share Christ with someone, especially someone who is an orphan. There really is more joy in giving than in receiving.

Wanna join in? Click on over to Grace Alone. God bless.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Health-Wise Wednesday

Topic: Sodium Intake

As I mentioned last week, my goal with watching what I eat has to do with getting healthy, not losing weight. Still, I am happy to report I've lost 1.8 lbs. this week. Not bad, for someone who's not really trying! There are several factors in this number, which I'll be going over in the next few weeks. Changes that appear slight, but are having a major impact.

I'm using the website My Fitness Pal to help me monitor what I'm putting into my body and in what quantities. I like the fact that I can adjust it to fit those areas I'm concentrating on. At first, I wasn't going to keep track of my sodium intake because I didn't think I needed to. Still, I decided to keep it and see what my numbers were like. Boy, was I ever surprised!

My mom taught us to cook the "old fashioned way". As a young girl she grew up on the island of Puerto Rico. Many people there, including my grandparents, grew alot of what was eaten in the home. They didn't have much money, and during WWII food was limited. Mom learned to make do with what was available, and to cook from scratch, since processed foods were either non-existant or too expensive. We learned to cook Mom's way, with fresh ingredients and very little salt. There was never a salt shaker on the table; whatever salt was used in the food was considered more than enough.

As the years have gone by, I admit I've turned to processed and packaged foods for convenience. Mom never worked outside the home after I was born, so cooking from scratch wasn't an issue; she had plenty of time to do it, in my opinion. I was a working mom, and therefore had much less time to spend in the kitchen. I felt justified in using packaged foods for some of our meals as long as there was always something fresh on the table alongside it. The items I prepared had little salt, and just like at Mom's house there was no salt shaker on the table, so I felt sure I was doing OK in that department.

I began plugging in my numbers on MyFitnessPal, and my daily goal totals came up. I was allowed 2500 mg of sodium per day. I laughed; I knew I wasn't even going to get close to that number. Imagine the look on my face when, at the end of the day, I had consumed 2,152 mg of sodium! Wow, that was much more than I'd expected. The next day was an even bigger shocker: 3,243 mg! What was going on here?! Suddenly the one thing I was unconcerned about took first place on my priority list. I started going over the foods I'd eaten and what the sodium content of each of them was.

I could see immediately what had brought me down on Thursday. It was my husband's birthday, and he'd been wanting to eat ham steaks with pineapple. They were on sale at Winn-Dixie, so I prepared a couple of Smithfield's Hardwood Smoked Center Slice Ham. I ate a small piece, 4 oz. worth, which totalled 190 calories. Not bad, but the sodium content was 1,180 mg! That alone was almost half my allowance for the entire day! I also had some green beans from a can. Should be healthy, right? How's this: 20 calories, 380 mg sodium. Not so healthy after all! It was a big wake-up call. Typically I don't look for the "no salt added" variety of canned foods because I know I add little to no salt when I'm cooking, so I thought the salt that was already in these wouldn't make much of a difference. I was very wrong, indeed.

As the days past I looked at my sodium intake more than anything else. I realized I need to change not only my eating habits, but my shopping habits as well. I have plenty of packaged foods in the pantry that need to get used up before I can replace them, but when I do it will be with items that are no salt or at the very least reduced salt. In the meantime I'm being much more cautious with my foods and and the amount of sodium they contain. I know I can't completely eliminate salt from my diet, and I don't want to. Salt is God's natural preservative, used for centuries to keep foods from spoiling. It's a better preservative than many of the chemicals used in foods today. But everything must be done in moderation, and it's clear to me my salt intake is way above moderate, which means my family's salt intake is also too high. My hubby has had issues with high blood pressure, so this is a concern for him as well. The message to me is clear: it's time to go back to that "old fashioned" method of cooking. It's time to do it Mom's way.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today, April 26, 2010...

Outside my's hot, muggy, and dark. Storms are approaching. Menacing storms and tornado watches. A good day to stay indoors.

I am thinking...about my son who is on his way to work. May the Lord protect him.

I am thankful for...a roof over my head during stormy weather.

I am stay home and clean.

I am wearing...the same navy blue polka dotted blouse and jeans I was wearing last week, but this time I'm wearing a pair of sandals I got at Walmart for $10. Very comfortable and cute!

I am 10 yr old son's word's during Bible time last night. He said, "We're like a machine, and God is the electric socket. Jesus is the cord that connects us to the power. Without Jesus we can't get power from God." I was amazed at his understanding.

I am my son's bedroom hearing the lightning alarm in the park. Oh yeah, that storm is really close.

I am reading...Esther for morning devotions, still working through Having a Mary Spirit, and I found another Sherlock Holmes book at the library.

I am hoping...we stay safe and have no actual tornadoes or hail during the storm.

On my fitness journal.

From the learning rooms...E finished a diorama of a hurricane. It has a picture of Hurricane Katrina, a little house with a tree on the roof (weed from the front yard), some upside down Matchbox cars, and a lot of debris (dried leaves). Came out pretty well.

I am pondering these words..."You are stronger than the storm. You are reigning over all. Faithful God You’re always in control. You’re the anchor of peace for our souls." - Stronger than the Storm, by Vicky Beeching.

From the kitchen today...sloppy joes. E asked for them specifically.

Around the house...gonna be cleaning floors today, and finishing up the laundry.

One of my favorite being a mom.

A few plans for the rest of the week...maybe I'll be able to get some scrapbooking in? I'd really like to get a page or two done.

Wanna join in the fun? Visit Peggy at the Simple Woman's Daybook. God bless.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Observing My Senses

For Today, April 24, 2010...

I am seeing...sunshine and blue skies with puffy white clouds. It's a beautiful day.

I am two boys chatter.

I am feeling...some concern at the way I've been eating. I thought I had a healthier diet. I need a food make-over.

I am tasting...Tony's pepperoni pizza, because it had the least calories and sodium of all the pizzas in the store. And it's the cheapest. Go figure.

I am smelling...pepperonis. Love 'em!

It just takes a moment to see what's going on around you. Won't you join me?

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Day In The Life

Yesterday, as part of Take Your Child to Work day, my son E had to write about what his parent (in this case, me) does on a daily basis. So I went ahead and drafted a timeline for him as we went. He only wrote about the things that he did with me, but it gave him (and me!) an idea of what a typical day is like. Of course this isn't a stereo-typical day - we don't have birthdays at our house every single day. Still, it's a photograph into a busy wife-mom-homemakers life that I wanted to share. Especially for those who think that staying at home equals a life of leisure - think again!

My day, April 22, 2010...

7:00am Got up, ironed shirt for hubby
7:15am Washed up, got dressed
7:30am Emptied out dishwasher
7:40am Started breakfast
8:00am Breakfast, Bible time
8:20am Fixed bed
8:30am Baked cake with E for Dad's birthday, from scratch
9:15am Cleaned up kitchen while E Swiffered kitchen and family room floors
9:30am Sorted clothes for laundry while E shredded old papers
9:35am Put one load in wash, folded one load
9:45am Took out trash, swept floors
9:55am Transferred clothes to dryer
10:00am Snack time
10:15am Removed cheesecake from oven
10:20am Yard work
11:15am Began preparing lunch
12:25pm Lunch (yellow rice w/pigeon peas, ham, salad, green beans)
1:00pm Cleaned up kitchen
1:10pm Folded laundry
1:30pm Paid bills, organized receipts
2:15pm Dad came home for lunch - spent birthday time with Dad
3:00pm Cleaned up kitchen
3:20pm Company - oldest son's friends came over
4:00pm Reading time
4:45pm Started dinner
5:20pm Dinner
5:35pm Posted blog entry
6:00pm Showered and dressed for cub scouts
6:20pm Rushed E into shower for cub scouts
6:35pm Helped E with homework
7:05pm Cleaned up kitchen
7:20pm Left to cub scout meeting
8:40pm Came back home
8:45pm Bible time with E
9:00pm Bed time for E
9:20pm Good night!

I think the last sentence of my son's report says it all: "I learned that even though my mom stays home, she works a lot." That made my day worthwhile.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thankful Thursdays

Okay, this may sound weird to some, but I'm thankful that I grew up poor. Yep, that's right, poor. We lived in the Bronx, also known as the ghetto, in rat and roach infested apartments, with lots of hand-me-downs and second hand furniture. We actually were glad when we finally moved into the projects; it was an upgrade from where we'd lived. But I'm thankful because it taught me to appreciate. Every little thing I have now I'm thankful for, and everything I can give my children that I didn't have myself as a child brings me joy. It taught me to work hard for the things I wanted, and not to expect things to just fall in my lap because I demanded them. It taught me to be content with less, that possessions aren't what brings happiness, and that playing with my siblings was more fun than playing all alone, even with the fanciest toys.

Sure, there were times when I wished we had more money. I wished we didn't have to always pinch pennies. I will say, though, that while I didn't have the fanciest clothes, the ones I had were always clean and pressed. We didn't eat out very often, nor did we eat lobster and steak everyday, but we never went hungry, not one single day. The most important thing I learned, was to have faith. I couldn't depend on money, 'cause there wasn't a whole lot of it. I couldn't depend on myself, 'cause there was only so much I could do for myself, and then I was back to square one. I couldn't depend on anyone else, 'cause they couldn't do more for me than I was doing for myself. So who could I depend on? The One who can do it all. Jesus showed me that I could experience joy without a lot of worldly possessions. He showed me that I'm a richer person when I give to others. And most of all, He gave me the most precious and priceless gift: life. I may have grown up poor, and I'm not wealthy by men's standards, but I know that I'm the richest I've ever been, and I'm so very thankful for that.

Wanna join in? Click on over to Grace Alone. God bless.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Health-Wise Wednesdays

I know lots of bloggers use Wednesdays as the weigh-in day for their diets. It's a way to stay accountable and be encouraged as they lose weight, which I think is just great. I'm going to use Wednesdays for another reason. I want to be sure I'm staying fit.

At my age (46) and height (5'4") my ideal weight is anywhere from 111 lbs to 146 lbs, and my body mass index (BMI) should be between 19-25. I currently weigh 141 lbs and my BMI is 24.2, which means that I'm within range, though at the higher end of the spectrum. That doesn't bother me, unless I start gaining weight of course. I typically stay between 141 and 143 lbs. My concern, however, is my health.

My father died at age 66 and his mother (my grandmother) died at age 65, both from complications brought on by diabetes. I had never bothered worrying about that, until a few years ago. As a young girl, I had that metabolism so many envy: I ate my weight in food but never gained a pound. At my high school graduation I weighed a whopping 103 lbs. The heaviest I'd been was during pregnancy, and losing the weight had never been an issue, even after my last child when I was 36 years old and quickly got down to 130 lbs. But as the years rolled on I put on a few pounds here and there. I shrugged it off, comparing myself to other women my age who struggled much more with their weight and believing myself to be "just fine". Then one day a magazine came in the mail that talked about diabetes and how a person could avoid it completely through diet and maintaining a proper weight. So I weighed myself out of curiosity, since I was sure I wasn't that overweight. I was shocked to find myself weighing 152 lbs! How had I allowed that to happen? I decided right then and there that I wasn't taking good care of the body God had given me, and I needed to do something right away!

I began eating more sensibly, and watched the pounds disappear. One pound, two, then four, then six. I was thrilled! I cut down on the small amount of food I was eating, and lost 6 more. Yes! Then I stalled, as most dieters do. I stayed at 140 lbs. I looked and felt much better than I had in a long time. I wasn't the only one to notice, either. My family, friends, co-workers, all complimented my new slimmer and trimmer look. I won't deny that their words went straight to my head. If I could just lose a few more pounds, I'd really be a knock-out! So I reduced my food intake even more. I was eating toast and coffee for breakfast, a granola bar mid-morning, a regular size lunch, and either a small salad or Slim-Fast for dinner. If I got hungry during the day I would eat ice to trick my body into thinking I was eating and filling up on water instead. It worked; I was able to get down to 134 lbs and into a size 4. Wow! What an accomplishment! Or so I thought.

Not long afterwards, I became very sick. I had bronquitis so bad I could hardly walk without having to stop every 3 steps to catch my breath. I went to see my doctor and explained my symptoms, especially the fact that I was so weak. I figured it was because I wasn't breathing normally, but Dr. K decided to check something else. She took a blood sample and found I had severe anemia. Instead of hemoglobin levels 12 and above, mine was down to less than 8. That was a serious wake up call. My focus had gone from getting healthy to looking good, a huge mistake. My doctor put me on iron fortified vitamins right away.

This led to me gaining some of the weight back. I got to 145 lbs in no time, because the vitamins made me hungry. So brilliant me stopped taking them and decided to just try to eat better. My weight got back down to 140 lbs, and I thought I had it all under control. Nope. Once again the anemia returned, and I had to face the fact that my body doesn't absorb enough iron just from food. So for the last year I've struggled to keep healthy while not putting on extra weight.

Enter My sister introduced me to this FREE website that helps count calories through a simple to use, simple to follow daily food diary. It helps me to see what I'm eating, how many calories I'm taking in, and it helps me to track weight loss if I want to do that. More importantly, I can adjust the settings so I can see not only my calorie intake, but also carbohydrates, protein, sodium, fiber, vitamins, you name it. It's just what I need to educate myself about eating what is right so that I can be healthy. It even has an exercise tracker that lists cleaning as exercise. Thank God! After I've been cleaning all morning long, I'm too tired to get on a treadmill or exercise machine. I'm glad someone recognizes housework and cleaning as calorie burners!

So that's my goal: healthy eating. Because I'm already beautiful ;-), I want my insides to match my outsides. I'll be monitoring my eating habits and looking for ways to improve and become a healthier me. Just another way to honor God for all He's given me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Devotion on Boundaries

Moms (and even those who aren't moms) have seen this before. Your precious 2 year old is reaching for something you don't want him/her to touch. So you call out, "No no, mustn't touch." And what does that precious little angel do? That darling, innocent child will look you straight in the eyes, while stretching a tiny little hand towards the object he/she knows is forbidden. And your baby, your sweet little one, will continue to defy you until you call out once more or take a step forward. You suddenly realize this child is not as innocent as you once thought. Secretly, you hope the "terrible twos" and even more "terrible threes" go by quickly, because this is what toddlerhood is all about: seeing how far they can go before Mommy or Daddy stops them.

We're not much different from toddlers in God's eyes. We like to test our boundaries and see how far we can go before we actually sin.

Take drinking, for instance. We know Scripture tells us we shouldn't get drunk (see for instance Proverbs 20:1, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:18). Rather than look for ways to keep away from drunkenness and avoid sin, many will ask, "How much can I drink before I'm considered drunk? Is it okay to feel buzzed? Is being tipsy the same as being drunk?" Basically the question is, "How far can I go before God tells me No?"

Clothing is another bone of contention for many. The Bible speaks of being modest (1 Timothy 2:9), but doesn't go into specifics. So the question becomes, just what is modesty? "As long as I'm covered I'm being modest. How tight my clothes are shouldn't matter." Or another popular excuse, "I'm not being immodest, I'm just dressing like everyone else. I don't want to stand out because I'm so different. Even Jesus dressed like all the other Jews."

Or what about flirting? "Is it okay to flirt if I don't go all the way? If I just bat my eyes or show a little skin, that still fornication/adultery?"

Jesus was very clear about boundaries. He wants us to stay away from "the edge", the precipice, that area where we're just shy of sinning, because He knows that's a dangerous place to be. You don't let your children walk on the edge of the highway, do you? Even if they aren't in the path of an oncoming car, they're close enough to fall at any moment. No loving parent would allow their child to take that kind of risk. Our Heavenly Father is an even more loving parent than we are.

Consider Jesus' teaching when it came to the meaning of adultery: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27-28). To Jesus, the actual act alone wasn't the only sin. Thinking about sin leads to it, so it's important to keep our minds clear of sin as well as the rest of our bodies (Philippians 4:8).

Rather than test our boundaries, we should run from sin. "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts." (Romans 6:12). The closer we choose to play near fire, the more likely the chance we'll get burned. Similarly, the closer we choose to play near sin, the more likely the chance we'll fall into it, and we can't blame anyone but ourselves once we're in that position. "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries." (Hebrews 10:26-27).

How do we combat this desire to live on the edge? By being drastic. If the thoughts come into your head, that's an indication it's time to run.

Say you're out with friends and the topic of having a couple of drinks comes up. If you feel the need to count and try to determine how many drinks are acceptable and how far you can go before you've gone too far, if your mind is so occupied with how close you can get to sin before you fall into it, walk away. It's better not to even start drinking so you don't have to decide when to stop. That may sound too drastic for some, but consider Jesus' words: "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell." (Matthew 5:29-30). I can't think of anything more drastic than removing body parts. Now, Jesus isn't saying you need to literally cut off a hand or pull out your eyes. What He is saying, is that whatever you might lose isn't worth more than your life. So what if your friends think you're dull because you won't have a drink with them? So what if you're considered a prude because you dress modestly and cover up more than others? So what if everyone else is flirting with the new co-worker except you? You don't miss out on anything by avoiding evil. Keeping our minds and bodies pure is a much better, safer, and healthier choice. And most importantly, it's what honors God.

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
- Romans 12:1-2.

Tackle It Tuesdays

Today I'm gonna tackle those bathrooms. I've kept them semi-clean for the last week. You know, a quick wipe down with glass cleaner and nothing more. My sciatica was bad enough that I didn't want to over-do, so I kind of let the bathrooms slide. Today I'm feeling much better, and it's time. So long scum, hello shine!

Tackle It Tuesdays is hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom. God bless.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today, April 19, 2010...

Outside my window...the sun is back after a day and a half of almost non-stop rain. I bet my flowers are happy to see the sunshine after getting drenched.

I am thinking...of wrapping a gift for my hubby before he starts snooping around the house and finds it.

I am thankful for...the rain, the sun, and the springtime.

I am dry and style my hair.

I am wearing...a navy blue blouse with light blue polka dots, jeans and sandals. Oh, and a towel over my wet hair.

I am remembering...a really good sermon on idolatry.

I am currently...working on a devotion the Lord has put on my heart. Stay tuned for that sometime this week.

I am reading...Ezra for morning devotions, and I'm gonna start another Anne of Green Gables books, this one is Anne of the Island.

I am make a scrumptious cheesecake for my hubby's birthday. It's his favorite.

On my mind...staying healthy.

From the learning rooms...this Thursday is Take Your Child to Work day. It's also Daddy's birthday. E is going to stay home and help prepare for this special day. His teacher said it's okay to stay home with mom if she doesn't work outside the home, because being a homemaker and mom is work too. I really like E's teacher!

I am pondering these words... "God You know where I've been, You were there with me then. You were faithful before, You'll be faithful again. I'm holding Your hand." - Let the Waters Rise, Mikeschair

From the kitchen today...chicken breast, yellow rice with corn and pink beans, ripe plantains, salad.

Around the house...everything is pretty neat, just have to do the bathrooms tomorrow.

One of my favorite baking birthday cakes for my family.

A few plans for the rest of the week: library tomorrow, Awana on Wednesday, Daddy's birthday on Thursday.

Wanna join in the fun? Visit Peggy at the Simple Woman's Daybook. God bless.

Move It Monday

Move It Monday is sponsored by Kristilea at In The Lord's Path.

I'm a bit late posting today because I've been busy MOVING IT!! That's right, I've had a busy Monday. My hubby's birthday is this Thursday, and I went shopping for his present (no peeking!). I love having something to look forward to, and a birthday is so much fun (so long as I'm not the one getting older, LOL!!). For his birthday cake, I'll be baking his favorite: cheesecake. What's even better, this Thursday is Take Your Child To Work day, so E has no school. He'll be staying home with Mommy (that's right, because stay at home moms work too) helping to make Daddy's birthday dinner and dessert. I'll be picking E up from school in a little while, and we'll wrap up Daddy's present and hide it. Aren't surprises F-U-N?!?!

Hope your Monday is a great day too!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Observing My Senses

For Today, April 17, 2010...

I am overcast afternoon. It has looked like rain all day so I haven't watered my plants, but not a drop has fallen as of yet.

I am son laughing and singing along with cartoons.

I am a nap right now would be sweet.

I am, from Costco, with the hugest pepperonis I've ever seen.

I am smelling...Murphy's oil soap, which I use to clean the floors.

It just takes a moment to see what's going on around you. Won't you join me?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thankful Thursdays

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
- Isaiah 53:5

Today I'm thankful for all the prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus. Did you know there are at least 300 specific prophecies recorded in the Old Testament that point to Jesus as the Messiah? The probability of just 8 of those prophecies being fulfilled in one person is 1 in 10 to the 17th power. Yet each and every one of them was fulfilled in Christ Jesus our Lord! That means He really is the Messiah! And that means His promise to return for His church is true as well. Amen, come Lord Jesus!

Wanna join in? Click on over to Grace Alone. God bless.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tackle it Tuesdays

This is actually what I've been tackling the past 3 weeks: gardening. We had an unusually cold winter for South Florida, and our plants suffered greatly for it. I've been desperately looking forward to replanting and making our front yard look Floridian once again. It's nice to drive up to a colorful yard once more.

This may not look like much, until you consider this: The only thing that was there last year was the palm tree (which you can only see the trunk of; it's pretty tall). Everything else was planted within the last month.

This is the view as you're walking up to the front door. That's the living room window. The statues I already had, I just moved some around to give it a newer look. I love the flowers. In the raised garden I've planted a couple new plants which will have to grow before they make an impact. That's okay, I can wait.

Here's my $9.99 bird of paradise. Isn't it lovely? We've gotten rain the past 2 days, and it's very bright and sunny today, which I'm hoping will make this lovely tree feel right at home.

Here's another view. I've also got a potted bird of paradise that I'm thinking will be moved to the back yard sometime this week. I've got to get some rocks around my first bird of paradise, but with the rain and my sciatica acting up it's taken a back seat. I should be able to work on it sometime this week.

This is a better view in front of the living room window. I love my little froggie statues, so colorful and fun.

This is what you see when you walk out the front door, to the left. I know it's not very lush right now, but once these plants start growing I know I'll have a beautiful front yard once again. I'm so thankful it's spring!

Tackle It Tuesdays is hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom. Have a blessed day.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today, April 12, 2010...

Outside my window...the sun is shining again, after a day of clouds and rain. Much needed rain, I might add.

I am thinking...about my uncle and the surgery he had today. Thankfully all went well and he's back at home.

I am sciatica is getting better. Just need to take it easy.

I am take a shower after I finish this post.

I am wearing...2 tanktops layered, one mint green and one teal, a teal skirt, and no shoes.

I am remembering...Life. The show on Discovery Channel with all the animals. Really good stuff.

I am currently...resting.

I am reading...2 Chronicles for morning devotions, and Having a Mary Spirit for personal study. I need to go to the library tomorrow and get more books.

I am sciatica continues to get better without medication. I hate taking medicine.

On my daughter's best friend who is having a birthday on Sunday.

From the learning rooms...mostly review, since all the exams have been taken.

I am pondering these words... "I'm waiting. I'm waiting on You, Lord And I am peaceful. I'm waiting on You, Lord Though it's not easy. But faithfully, I will wait, Yes, I will wait."
- While I'm Waiting, John Waller

From the kitchen broil in the crock pot, rice, beans, salad.

Around the house...thankfully it's clean and just needed the basics. I can take care of that.

One of my favorite my new garden. That's what my son calls the front yard. It isn't that elaborate, but it does look pretty.

A few plans for the rest of the week: library, Awana and Bible study, cub scouts, the usual.

Wanna join in the fun? Visit Peggy at the Simple Woman's Daybook. God bless.

Move It Monday

Yes it's Monday, and yes I'm moving it...slowly. Not because I don't appreciate Mondays, but because Saturday left me in some pain. Let me explain.

After a cold winter, my front yard was looking sad. Most of the plants had died, including a small palm tree in front of our glass block window. I was so eager for the weather to warm up, and once it did I began planting new plants and flowers to make the front yard look pretty and inviting once more.

I found some gorgeous bird of paradise plants at Home Depot, fairly large ones on sale for $9.99. I figured this would look nice where the palm tree had been. Before planting, though, I needed to pull up all the roots from the palm tree. I didn't realize how many roots this thing had, nor how deep they went! Between my boys and I we cleaned up and ripped out roots, then planted the new bird of paradise tree. It looks lovely, and I was happy not to have a gaping hole in the front yard anymore.

Next day, however, I was walking like a little old lady. My back was hurting, which was not a good thing since I was teaching in children's church. I took a couple of Tylenol and got through the morning, praise God, but I quickly realized the pain was from my sciatica. So, since yesterday I've been lying down with a heating pad while the swelling goes down. I'm happy to report the pain is much less this morning (thank You Jesus!) but I have to take it easy or else I'll be out of commission again. I was able to get some london broil in the slow cooker so we'll have lunch on time today, and I did a quick clean of the house. Thankfully the laundry was caught up on Saturday so I'm not going to worry about it today.

So, my Monday is a slow day, but it's a great day just the same!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Observing My Senses

For Today, April 10, 2010...

I am seeing...another gorgeous South Florida day, and my new plants enjoying the sun and the breeze. It's so nice to have plants and flowers again after a cold winter.

I am ambulance in the far distance, birds chirping, palm leaves rustling in the wind. A mixture of urban and rural sounds.

I am feeling...lighter. I've lost a couple of unwanted pounds, and it feels great!

I am tasting...pancakes and sausages.

I am smelling...the sweet smell of grass, and that smell in the air right before the rains come.

It just takes a moment to see what's going on around you. Won't you join me?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thankful Thursdays

I'm posting this while at my son's Cub Scout meeting; hopefully my first mobile posting will work.

My sister called a little while ago to tell me she and my b-i-l arrived home safely. I'm thankful for their visit, I'm thankful they had a fun vacation, and I'm thankful they had a good plane trip home. What a blessing to get back together with family. Hopefully they'll be back soon! ;-)

Devotion on Subtlety

Soldiers going out into the battlefield are taught one important fact: Be on your guard. The enemy is looking for a weak spot, and can attack at any moment. For this reason the soldier must be alert and ready at all times. One slip can cost him his life.

Sometimes the enemy attacks head-on. The soldiers are poised and ready to defend because their target is in front of them, clear and in plain sight. Other times, however, the attack comes quietly, from behind, and catches the troop by surprise. These are the dangerous attacks, because they're unexpected. If the soldier hasn't prepared for this scenario, it can be fatal.

Ephesians 6:11-13 says we're soldiers in a battle too, only our enemy is hidden in darkness and evil. The devil is sneaky, conspiring against God's people and using both frontal attacks and subtle schemes. The frontal attacks are easy enough to see. It's the subtle ones that are harder to identify, and why the enemy prefers to use these maneuvers. One example we find in Scripture of just that kind of attack is the life of Samson.

Samson is known as the strong man of the Bible. I think of him as the Rambo of his day.

My husband loves watching Chuck Norris movies. Chuck Norris is The Man, because he can take out an entire Vietnamese army all by himself. I laugh whenever I see these movies, because we all know that's just impossible. Right?

Yet that was Samson.

When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands. He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it.

- Judges 15:14-15

Think about this now: the Philistine army was the strongest army of the day. How could one man kill 1,000 Philistine soldiers without any weapon other than the jawbone of a donkey?! Because the Spirit of the Lord was with him. Frontal attacks weren't going to work on Samson, and the devil knew it. Samson had already killed a lion with his bare hands (Judges 14:5-6) and had also killed 30 men on his own (Judges 14:19). To defeat Samson, a different approach was needed, and the devil knew exactly what to do. How do you bring down a man that can wipe out 1,000 men with a donkey's jawbone? With the strength of one very pretty lady.

Surely when Samson first set eyes on Delilah, he didn't think this was the weapon that would be used to entrap him. He was in love with her (Judges 16:4) and probably figured she was in love with him too. She was in love alright, only it wasn't with Samson; it was with the 1,100 pieces of silver the Philistine lords had promised her in exchange for the secret of Samson's strength. That's not 1,100 pieces of silver total. That was 1,100 pieces of silver from EACH lord. With that kind of money she'd be set for life. That's a pretty strong incentive for a woman, especially when women in biblical times depended on men to take care of them financially. This would make Delilah an independant woman. It's no wonder the devil chose Delilah to do his dirty work. She was beautiful, saavy, and had a heart for silver. How could Samson resist?

The problem, of course, was that Samson shouldn't have been looking at Delilah in the first place. Samson was a man who'd been set apart for God, a Nazirite, since before his birth (Judges 13:2-5). When Samson first fell for a Philistine woman (that's right, Delilah wasn't the first one), his parents were not happy (Judges 14:2-3). That marriage ended in disaster, as chapter 14 of Judges relates. Still, Samson didn't learn his lesson, and fell for Delilah hook, line and sinker.

Were there no signs that Delilah had bad intentions for Samson? Consider Judges 16:6 - "So Delilah said to Samson, 'Please tell me where your great strength lies, and with what you may be bound to afflict you.'" That you may be bound to afflict you? Seems to me that should have raised some red flags. But instead, Samson decided to play some games with Delilah, and give her false information in a sort of cat and mouse chase (see Judges 16:7-14). What Samson obviously wasn't prepared for, was the type of attack a woman like Delilah would bring against him. Samson was used to brute strength to fight off his enemies, but Delilah used feminine wiles to get her way:

"Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and have not told me where your great strength lies.” And it came to pass, when she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death."
-Judges 16:15-16

Samson never stood a chance. The Philistines got their prisoner, Delilah got rich, and Samson learned a hard lesson: not all enemies are easy to see and defeat.

How does this apply to us today? Very simply: the enemy still uses subtle attacks against God's people. After all, if it worked on Samson it'll work on anyone. The enemy still uses lust to woo the hearts of Christians away: lust for the opposite sex, lust for money, lust for material possessions, lust for power, popularity and acceptance. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." Lions are very sly; they hide in the brush and move in slowly, so that when they attack, their prey has little to no chance of escape.

Sounds like a losing battle? It isn't. God has given us an arsenal to keep us protected against the enemy.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.
- Ephesians 6:14-18
When we stay alert by immersing ourselves in God's word, we strengthen ourselves with wisdom, righteousness, truth and faith. Prayer keeps us in constant communication with God, and helps us stay vigilant. Then, and only then, can we stand and defeat the enemy in this war.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Move It Mondays

Kristilea over at The Lord's Path has started Move It Mondays, to get people looking forward to Mondays rather than dreading the first day of the week. I have to confess, I needed to think about this one alot. So much so, that I waited till Tuesday to get my first post in :-).

See, it's like this: I actually like Mondays! It's the start of a new week, a new beginning, a clean slate so to speak. After resting on Sunday, I feel recharged and ready to go on Mondays. I plan for the week and look forward to each day the Lord gives me.

I know many people dread Mondays, and for different reasons. Some people like to sleep in, which they get to do on the weekends, and hate having to get up early again on Monday. That's not a problem for me; I'm a morning person. Others hate their jobs and don't even want to get out of bed on Mondays. I enjoyed my job and my co-workers, and now that I'm a stay at home mom I love my job even more! I guess I've been blessed more than even I realize.

But of course, the idea of this meme is to encourage one another into finding a reason to look forward to Mondays. So, I'll be thinking of something to make me say, "I can't wait till Monday!" Let's see how that works out.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today, April 5, 2010...

Outside my window...the sun is still shining even though it's almost 6:00pm. The weather has been so perfect, warm and sunny with just enough sunshine. Love it!

I am thinking...about a tree in our yard that's gonna have to come down. My mother-in-law gave it to us and it's the cutest tree, but we've just found out it's a rubber tree that gets very large and is invasive to plumbing. Not a good thing.

I am thankful...for a Savior who gave His life some 2,000 years ago for my salvation.

I am have my car checked on this week. It's been acting weird, and I'm concerned it may be transmission trouble. I sure hope it isn't.

I am wearing...a t-shirt, jeans and sandals.

I am remembering...a good deed I saw yesterday. A car was stopped at a traffic light, and a woman in a wheelchair was trying to cross the street. A young man jumped out of the car, helped the woman across 6 lanes of traffic, and jumped back into the car. It totally warmed my heart.

I am currently...planning for the week.

I am reading...1 Chronicles for morning devotions, and Having a Mary Spirit for personal study. Finished Sherlock Holmes, so a run to the library is in order.

I am hoping...I can squeeze in some scrapbooking time this week.

On my mind...I need to spend more personal time with God. As in, not letting other things get in the way. Getting my life in balance.

From the learning's back to school tomorrow after a week of spring break.

I am noticing...the enemy loves using busyness to get our priorities out of whack. Thankfully the Holy Spirit is whispering in my ear, reminding me what's really important - time in the Word.

I am pondering these words..."Give me a revelation, show me what to do, 'cause I've been trying to find my way, I haven't got a clue. Tell me should I stay here, or do I need to move? Give me a revelation, I've got nothing without you." - Third Day, Revelation.

From the kitchen today...spaghetti and meatballs.

Around the house...there's plenty to do, but I'll start tomorrow when the boys are in school.

One of my favorite ice cold lemonade on a hot day.

A few plans for the rest of the week...housework that didn't get done last week.

Wanna join in the fun? Visit Peggy at the Simple Woman's Daybook. God bless.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Week in Review

And what a week it was! I don't think we stopped for a second, but we enjoyed every minute of it. My sister and brother-in-law came for a visit from New York - a long awaited visit that should have happened last year, but didn't because my brother-in-law was hit by a car. Praise God for His goodness, my b-i-l suffered no broken bones, but he did have a concussion and lots of bruising, plus a badly banged-up knee. He's getting stronger each day, and was able to enjoy all the activities of this week.

My sister and b-i-l arrived Saturday afternoon, just in time for my son R's birthday cake. My son is 23 years old now, officially half my age. We were thankful for R and for sis and b-i-l being on hand to celebrate such a special day. We were also thankful because my daughter came down for the weekend, so we were all together like my sister wanted. It was a real blessing.

Sunday we went to church, then to Denny's for lunch. We chatted, laughed, and had a great time catching up with everything going on. Then we came home and relaxed with some board games. My sister complained that she never wins at board games, but she did really well. The only reason she didn't win was because we were helping E get some of the answers which pushed him ahead. We had a blast! We said goodbye to my daughter A as she went back to school, but thanked God she was able to join us for the weekend.

Monday was the only rainy day we had, so we went to see the movie "Diary of a Wimpy Kid." What a nice movie! The main character, Greg, starts middle school, and is intent on becoming popular - so much so that he forgets about his friend, about being truthful, and about being himself. There are lots of great lessons to be learned. My son E is reading the books and the movie was very accurate in following the storyline. I recommend this movie for older kids; the younger ones might not understand it as much. Afterwards we came home and played more board games. Yes, we're a game loving family!

Tuesday we went to visit my aunt and uncle. This is my mother's older sister. It was great to see them and their oldest daughter. My aunt made lunch for us which was D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!!! My cousin barbequed the steaks - I can still taste their juiciness! My son E was the only one to join us, since R had classes and daddy had to work, but E had fun playing with my aunt & uncle's dog. I'm glad we went to see them. My aunt and uncle are getting up in years, and they really appreciate having people come visit. It's an hour drive to their house, but well worth the trip.

Wednesday we went to a local outlet mall because my sister wanted to find a pair of sneakers. She's been to this outlet mall before and knows prices in Florida tend to be much less than New York, so off we went. She was looking specifically for some Skechers Shape-ups, a new kind of sneaker that helps with posture and is a good walking sneaker if you're walking for exercise. She had seen them in NY for $130 but couldn't find them in her size. Before we left she mentioned she couldn't buy too much stuff because of the weight limits on luggage at the airport, so I figured she would buy one pair of shoes at most. Sis was totally thrilled to see a Skechers store at the outlet mall that had the shoes she wanted for $99. Before I knew it, she'd picked out 3 pairs of shoes for herself and 2 for her hubby! She assured me she would fit them in their carry-on luggage, but she couldn't pass up the prices at the store. I was able to get sneakers for E who has an aversion to shoe shopping. Every shoe he tries on is too tight, or feels strange, or has some problem or other. He found a pair that fit right and that he liked, which made me happy because his current shoes desperately needed replacing!

Thursday R had no school, so we went bowling. Boy, did we have a ton of fun!! My b-i-l is in a bowling league in NY, so he gave us some pointers. R had bowled before, but E never had, and I hadn't since I was a teenager. Sis didn't play because of a bad shoulder, so she was on camera duty. My b-i-l said he enjoyed this game so much more than usual. I pointed out that we weren't playing as a competition but instead it was just for fun. That made all the difference. Of course, playing with people who love you doesn't hurt either, and my b-i-l is one in a million. I thank the Lord my sister married a man who is so loving and considerate. He is a model husband.

Friday we went off early to the western side of Florida to visit a zoo. R had no school or work so he joined us for that also. I love trips that are fun and educational, and this trip didn't disappoint! We got lots of exercise, and the day was splendid. The skies were blue, the sun was shining, and a cool breeze with no humidity meant the animals were up and about, and we were able to see many of them up close. What a treat! Seeing God's creation emphasizes that only an Intelligent Creator could have made all these amazing animals. Especially when we realize how they live together, how each animal has its own habitat, its own way of finding food, of preserving its life, it's pretty clear this couldn't have happened by accident.

This is the leopard - see how close it was to the glass? I was totally in awe of its beauty.

Friday night we said our goodbyes :-( but I'm still thankful that we were able to spend such a fun week together. Now they're off to Disney World and a weekend with my daughter and her best friend, so rather than selfishly wishing they were still here, I praise God that my sister and her dear hubby are able to continue their vacation.
Today my son E and I washed the car. Driving to the zoo we encountered many a bug head-on, and they were all over the windshield and the front of the car which was rather disgusting. While we were at it we washed R's car too. The weather has been phenomenal (thank You Jesus!). I'm also preparing for tomorrow - I am grateful to the Lord that He chose me to teach the children the story of the Resurrection tomorrow. This is what it all comes down to: He is Risen! To be able to tell the children about Jesus' death and resurrection is an honor that I don't take lightly. If you think about it, please pray that the Holy Spirit would give me the right words so that the children understand the importance of Easter Sunday. Thank You Lord Jesus, for the greatest gift of all - forgiveness of our sins, and life everlasting with You!
God bless, have a beautiful and memorable Resurrection Sunday.

Observing My Senses

For Today, April 3, 2010...

I am absolutely gorgeous day through the blinds in the windows. Sunshine, baby blue sky, puffy white clouds...God's creation is amazing!

I am hearing...the birds chirping, and the swish of the neighbor's pool.

I am many emotions this day before Easter. Thank You Lord Jesus for the best gift anyone could ever receive - forgiveness.

I am tasting...buttery biscuits and my morning coffee.

I am smelling...laundry detergent. It never ends.

It just takes a moment to see what's going on around you. Won't you join me?