Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One Word...

From Ali Edward's Blog:
Can you identify a single word that sums up what you want for yourself in 2009?

It can be something tangible or intangible. It could be a thought or a feeling or an emotion. It can be singular or plural. The key is to find something that has personal meaning for you. This is not your mother's word or your spouse's word or your child's word - this is YOUR word.

One little word can have big meaning in your life if you allow yourself to be open to the possibilities. And here's one thing that is totally interesting: sometimes a word will pop into your brain and it will not make any sense to you right now. Give it some time. Let it percolate a bit. I have often found that our hearts speak to us in very unique ways. Maybe this is a word you need to hear but just aren't ready for it yet. Again, be open to the possibilities.

I can't wait to see all the words for 2009.

So, I thought long and hard when I saw this. I love a challenge and I thought this would be a great way for me to go through my new year. Many words came to mind. I thought of words like: Trust, Accomplish, Believe... all great words, right? They just didn't seem to cover what I was hoping for 2009. Oh, how about HOPE? That's a good's gotta be better than that. Marco even has a word (theme) for church and that is FLOURISH.... I need a word.
Got it. Got my word.
fo·cus [ fṓkəss ]
1. main emphasis: concentrated effort or attention on a particular thing
The committee's focus must be on finding solutions to the problem.
2. (plural fo·cus·es) area of concern: an area of concern, responsibility, or investigation
an inquiry with a narrow focus
3. concentrated quality: a concentrated and unified quality
to bring focus to the problem
4. sharpness of image: the quality that makes an image sharply defined with clear edges and contrast
5. sharpness of vision: the condition of seeing images sharply and clearly
You know, like many of you, I have the best intentions. I want to do so many things and do them right. I want to be organized, honest, loving, efficient...the list goes on. However, I end up losing my focus. I get easily distracted by the smallest things.

I want to FOCUS on:

1. My faith - I want to know my Savior more than ever. I want to trust and believe. I want to praise and worship. I want to be a living testimony.
2. My family - I want to be a better wife and mother. I want to be more patient and loving. I want to be a better example to my children.
3. Myself - I want to take better care of myself. I want to make time for myself, so that I can give to others more.
4. My church - I want to be more thankful for the church family. I want to minister more to them. I want to be creative for them.
5. My responsibilities - I want to be more organized. I want to be a better teacher to my children. I want to be better with money and business.

I like the idea of having a word to FOCUS on for the new year. A theme is a great idea. What will your word be?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Choosing Joy: Some Sherry Time... =]

(Unfortunately, not my feet - LOL)
Once, my husband and I were watching a show called Top Chef and there was a guy named Mike on it. He was quite the character. Big, sloppy, funny guy, but man, he could cook! He was having some difficulties with a toothache, he had a cold sore, he was missing his wife (he was a newly wed)...not having the best day. Well, the winner of that day's challenge was going to get a FREE day. A day to do whatever he wanted. During one of the interview shots he looked right at the camera and said, "I could really use some Mikey time"...I know you're not cracking up like we were at the time, but it was great! We often use that term now when we are feeling run down.

So, I got some Christmas money and although I didn't get a whole day off, I had some "Sherry Time" and got a pedicure. Ahhhhhhhh....nice. I'd post a picture of my perfectly polished red toes, but I think I'll just let you imagine what my cute little piggies look like for now! =]

Monday, December 29, 2008

Choosing Joy: Getting Back to "Normal"...

So, we had to take grandma to the was time for her to go home. =[ The kids were really sad, but we were thankful for such a great visit. I know she'll miss us, but I also know that it'll be nice for her to get back to her home. She is so laid back, she never complains and always goes with the flow...but now she can sit in her special chair - it's high enough that she doesn't have to struggle to get up or down from it, she can get back to Daisy - her dog and she will be with Aunt Lu who is not only her daughter, but probably her best friend.

We will also try to get back into some sort of routine. I've already begun to take the Christmas decorations down. Put the couch back where it goes...started thinking about the girls and their second sememster schoolwork. *sigh* Ah, yes...a new year is coming and I have intentions (as always) to make it the best ever. =]

Naomi cried when I started packing the ornaments. She didn't want me to "put away Christmas" as she says. I told her that the ornaments are not Christmas, that Jesus is Christmas and that we always have Him. Um, yeah. Sounds nice and spiritual, but this 3 year old was not having it. She cried and clung to the mobile Winnie the Pooh that we had out. Oh, well. She'll be alright. It brings me joy to clean up and get my family back into some sort of routine...hopefully, we can stick with it! =]

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Choosing Joy...Just "being"...

We went to church today and had a wonderful lunch at the Korean BBQ place. I told grandma that it wouldn't compare to my mom's food, but at least it was yummy Korean food! It was great and we ate just enough!
We went home to relax and I ended up just staying home that evening with grandma. Marco and the two older girls went to the evening service at church. Later on, Marco asked what we did and what we talked about. I told him - not much. Seriously - we didn't really do anything. We started to watch a show and I snuggled up next to her like I used to when I was little and we both fell asleep for a while. The babies were already sleeping, so that was good.
I just enjoyed being with her. I have so many sweet memories of my grandmother and I will cherish every memory I can make with her. She's an awesome woman and I've learned so much from her. She is so selfless. She may have lots of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but she is MY grandma. =]

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Choosing Joy...In the kitchen with Grandma!

My girls were really looking forward to spending some time in the kitchen with Grandma. My grandmother is one of the best cooks I know. Today, it brought me great joy to watch my girls - especially Taryn (I was the same age as her when I lived with my grandmother) - in the kitchen with her. They baked some Scotties - THE BEST COOKIE EVER - they are kind of like brownies, but not...LOL, they baked some Christmas sugar cookies that are so moist and cake like (secret is the sour cream) and she even made dinner. Grandma's famous fried chicken. Mmmmm... Life is good!
I thought I'd share the recipe for Scotties...if you make 'em - let me know!
1/2 cup Butter
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup White Sugar
1 Egg
1 cup Flour
1 cup Chopped Walnuts
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 Tbsp. Baking Powder
First melt butter and both sugars in a sauce pan (about 5 minutes) being careful not to burn it. Let cool for about 10 minutes.
Add to mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients.
Stir until mixed thoroughly.
Line an 8x8 square pan with foil. Make sure it's long enough so that you can lift the edges (see picture).
Pour the batter and make sure it is level.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Check with a toothpick - done when it comes out clean.
When it has cooled, pull it out of pan using the foil and then cut into squares and enjoy!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Choosing Joy: Family Time

Grandma always had a tradition of taking the grandkids to the movies the day after Thanksgiving. Since we weren't with her for Thanksgiving, she wanted to take us the day after Christmas. We dropped little Marco off at the babysitter's...he's not quite ready to sit through a whole movie...ANYWAY, we went to se The Tale of Despereaux. It was a really cute movie. I had looked forward to seeing it after reading the book.
It was great to spend time together and most of all to continue in a fun "tradition".

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Choosing Joy: Christmas Morning

See that kitchen that Santa brought?, um I mean he bought the display (last one left) and got it for $30 instead of $80. =]

Daddy still has puffy eyes from waiting on Santa the night before -hee hee.

Checking out the stockings. Even Grandma got one.

For her kitchen.

These are the UGGly boots that everybody is wearing...well, these are the Kirkland Costco brand, but you get the point... =D Thanks, Santa!

Okay. Naomi LOVES this doll baby. I ordered it about a month ago. It is a hand made stuffed doll made by an 11 year old. At least, I think she is about that age. Anyway, it is just adorable. It even has Naomi's initials embroidered on the chest and came dressed in the adorable outfit. I will post a whole separate post about it. You know how I am when I find something I like. =]

Oh, my goodness. Whose idea was this? Oh, mine? Great idea! Look at him. He's all into it. Look at his tongue.

Grandma got a nice sleeveless fleece jacket.

It's Christmas morning and all is well. Children are happy and Grandma, Marco and I are pleased to see the children so excited.
We started our morning with Marco reading the Christmas Story from the book of LUKE.

Then we all checked out our stockings. We have always exchanged ornaments with each other and try to get a new one for each of the kids every year.

Then it's on to the "Santa" gifts - aka the one big gift from Mom and Dad. Every year, we look for the best deals (of course) - but this year...this year I KNOW God's hand was in it. I know some of you might think that I am taking it too far. God helping me to get a "good deal"? Um, yes. Guess what? He even gives me a great parking spot when I need it. =]
Anyway, this year Santa came in the form of a very loving family, my parents and friends from church. We are truly blessed. I know I've mentioned this in my blog before, but guess what people? God IS good. =]

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Going to the Lights...Mission Inn of Riverside

The entry way...

Taryn: appreciating the violinist

There were giant nutcrackers at every entry.

These painted oranges were all over Riverside at one time for a special display. There were different artists that were asked to do each one. You can read more about it HERE. This is the Mission Inn orange.

This was in front of the giant tree in the Inn. Absolutely stunning - every year!

Taryn is enjoying the hot chocolate.

It's not CHRISTmas without the Crèche. I didn't even know what a creche was until I read The Christmas Cross by Max Lucado.

Lights were wrapped all the way around the Inn.
After dinner, we went to see The Lights at the Mission Inn. The weather was perfect and we had a wonderful time looking at all the lights and the beauty of the Mission Inn. We were afraid it would rain, but other than a few drops here and there, it stayed dry. We had some mochas and the kids had some hot chocolate. We saw Santa for like a second and started to get in line for a picture, but he was finishing up with his last guest. BOO! Something about he had lots of work to do tonight and had to leave early. Oh, well. That's fine. Speaking of that - we still had lots to do at home too, so we did not stay very late either. What a lovely, memorable night!

Choosing Joy: Christmas Eve

So, how hard is it to choose JOY on Christmas Eve? I know for some, that it is very hard. I know that there are people all across America that are having a difficult time and this is hard for them. They are in my prayers. A friend that is in Africa, happy to serve - but missing her family, a friend that lost her little boy this year and won't be putting those extra things out for him, a friend that laid her mom AND dad to rest this year who will have to do without all the special things her sweet mother did for everyone during this time of year, an elderly man that lives across the street who is remembering the first Christmas without his beloved wife... I know that there are a lot of you out there - you are in my prayers.

I am thankful to not only have my Grandmother here with me, but to be able to watch her with my children. I remember Christmas' past that I spent with her when we lived near her or the Christmas when I lived WITH her. She is such an incredible woman. She's been through just about everything and still has a sweet, strong spirit!

We had a great Christmas Eve dinner (we are having a Christmas dinner at my MIL's) of turkey, ham, green bean casserole, rolls, cranberry sauce, watergate salad, mashed potatoe stuffing and gravy. Afterward, we went to the historical Mission Inn in Riverside to see the Christmas Lights. I will post that separately. I have much to be thankful for - I will not forget it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Choosing Joy: Bellies up in the air...

So, today we basically laid around "with our bellies up in the air" (I love to say that). Grandma got here yesterday, so we spent the good part of the evening talking and catching up. Today there were no plans until our church service at 7 p.m. We normally have church on Wednesday, but we moved it up a day so that families could be at home with their families on Christmas Eve. The service was very nice. I took pictures of each family that came and offered to bring a 5 x 7 for each of them on Sunday. They liked the sound of that!

Then, when we got home, I had more gifts to make in the craft room. I didn't get very far 'cause I just wanted to be with my that so bad? I had one more day left to make gifts! LOL All in all, it was a great joy to just do nothin'. I rarely get to do just "nothin'" and it kind of left me with a headache at first. Too relaxed maybe? I don't know, but I just enjoyed being with family and friends. Choosing Joy was easy today!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Choosing Joy: Grandma's here!

Today, it is not hard to chose JOY at all! My grandmother is here for a one week visit. I feel so blessed that my children can know their great-grandmother...the grandmother that I am told I take after...the grandmother that I had the privilege of living with for a year and a half as a 9 year old girl.

I learned to love reading and cooking from her. I watched her love and serve my grandfather unconditionally and patiently all the way to his passing. She doesn't forget a birthday...every child, grandchild, great-grandchildren and even the spouses get a card and $5 for the children and $10 for the adults. Guaranteed. Oh, and cookies. Always the best cookies... I am filled with JOY today and I will cherish every moment while she's here!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Choosing Joy: Making Children Happy...

Friends since the infant nurseries! =]

The church crowd starts to settle in and the children are excited about getting their gifts...Hannah is being silly - as usual!

Every year, we usually do a pot luck and gift exchange at our church. This year, my husband and I really thought that we did not want to add any more stress or strain on any of the families. We were afraid that some of our larger numbered families would not attend because they could not afford the expense of all the food and gifts. We wanted the church family to have fun and fellowship, but not if it was going to put pressure on a lot of them.
We decided that we would find a way to provide food for everyone and a gift for all of the children in church. We didn't know how we were going to do it, but as always, God provided a way. Another family and our family went and bought some simple gifts, candies and goodies for each and every child in our church. We even had extra in case we had visitors. Turns out that it was a good idea to plan for the "extras".

We had a great time. The chicken pozole we had was wonderful and we had more than enough. God is good and I hope that others felt His love through our church family tonight. There is joy to be found when you are looking to do for others rather than for yourselves.

***Reminder!!*** This is the next to the last week to post your Choose Joy blogs. The photo theme for this week is FAMILY and next week's is PEACE. Remember, that it is YOUR interpretation. =]

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Choosing Joy: Paying It Forward...

My family and I have been blessed in so many different ways. There have been many instances, as I've mentioned in previous posts, where we were left speechless by a kind gesture or generous gift. I am always thankful, but then I am left with the question of how I will PIF. This stands for Pay It Forward. There are many times, as I read in somebody else's post, that I wish I had an abundance of riches to help those in need around me. Well, that ship hasn't come in yet, so in the mean time, I will do what I am able to do to put a smile on someone else's face!
Today, I had the privilege of making this wreath for someone that mentioned that she'd love to have a wreath, but they were going for $89.99 at Michael's. Well, I couldn't buy one for her, but I knew that I already had the items at my home to make her a wreath. I worried about the colors and then after some sly questioning =], I was able to find out that I had the exact colors that she was interested in. Coincedence? I don't think so!!
So, I put this wreath together, and while I made it, I thought about how special this friend was and I prayed for her and her family. I had my husband drive me out to her house and I even brought a magnetic door hook to hang the wreath! We hung it and drove off as fast as we could! She didn't see it until the next day, but she said she loved it and that brought me joy. I am working on a few other projects for some very special people and I can't wait to "pop" in on them, too!

Something Worth Sharing!

Saw this on Cyn's blog and had to pass it on here. Very Powerful!

There was A blind girl who hated herself because she was blind. She hated everyone, Except her loving boyfriend. He was always there for her. She told her boyfriend, 'If I could only see the world, I will marry you.'

One day, Someone donated a pair of eyes to her. When the bandages Came off, she was able to see everything, including her Boyfriend. He asked her, 'Now that you can see the world, Will you marry me?' The girl looked at her boyfriend and saw that he was blind. The sight of his closed eyelids shocked her. She hadn't expected that. The thought of looking at them the rest of her life Led her to refuse to marry him.
Her Boyfriend left in tears and days later wrote a note to her saying: 'Take good care of your eyes, My dear, for before they were yours, they were mine.'

This is How the human brain often works when our status changes. Only a very few remember what life was like before, and who was always by their side in the most painful situations.

Life Is a Gift

Today Before you say an unkind word - Think of someone who can't Speak.

Before You complain about the taste of your food - Think of someone Who has nothing to eat.

Before You complain about your husband or wife - Think of someone who's crying for a companion.

Today Before you complain about life - Think of someone who went Too early to heaven.

Before Whining about the distance you drive Think of someone who Walks the same distance with their feet. And when You are tired and complain about your job - Think of the Unemployed, the disabled, and those who wish they had your Job.

And when Depressing thoughts seem to get you down - Put a smile on Your face and think: you're alive and still Around.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Some shimmer and glimmer...

Top of the tree...

The WHOLE tree...nice, huh?

This was very shimmery, glimmery in person. =] LOVE those colors!

Her face is all lit up with happiness...can anybody tell me what her face and hand are "saying"?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Choosing Joy: Friends

Isaiah 26:3~"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee."

Sometimes God answers prayer that you have not even prayed. Does that make sense? He knows your needs before you know them. He provides what we need - when we need it. Marco and I have really tried to "teach" others that when you do for someone else in a spirit of love, it comes back to you. The Bible tells us that we are not supposed to worry (Matthew 6:25 - 34), yet I do worry. I am always humbled when He provides and I realize how weak my faith was. He always provides...yet I worry. Didn't He tell us to ask Him for our DAILY bread? (Matthew 6:11)
I have come to realize that I will always need HIS goodness on a day to day basis. My faith is so short sometimes. I need Him to come through for me daily, or I'd probably take Him for granted.
Today, a dear friend came over and made a difference in our day, our Christmas, our YEAR. She said that God put it on her family's heart to make that difference. We will not forget this act of love - ever.
I thank my Heavenly Father for showing me DAILY that He loves me and wants the best for me. It feels my heart with JOY!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Choosing Joy: Family and Fun

This is a banner I made for someone special...Shhhh...I can't tell who it's for yet.
I have been very crazy busy the last few days, because I have been planning a sweet surprise. Along with the help of a few friends, we through a great surprise party for my hubby (Pastor) Marco. We had a cake (Kung Fu Panda - LOL), pot luck meal, and lots of great fellowship. He received some nice gifts, but the one I was most excited about was that a few of us were painting and fixing up his office. It was really bad, believe me, but now - it looks great! Best of all, he knows that we love him and want the best for him. =]
I have also been planning a few other surprises for different people and that brings me lots of JOY. Sometimes, I wish that money was no object so that I could really spoil my friends and loved ones, but then maybe, I wouldn't be as creative about finding other ways to make them feel special. I guess it all balances out, right? Choose JOY - do for others.

Wordless Wednesday: The Last One...*sigh*

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Choosing's a secret... =]

Another long day for me, but it's all worth it. I have been working on a really neat surprise. Can't tell you what it is...yet...'cause it is a surprise! LOL I will get pictures on here tomorrow night. Then I can tell you the secret. Hee Hee...

Anyway, I love to do things for others when it is in my power to do so. I really do get joy from it.

Tomorrow is a week from Christmas Eve. Are you ready? Talk to y'all tomorrow!

We have a winner!

The winner of the awesome chocolates is Cindy S! Email me your address Cindy S. and I will make sure you get your chocolates! Thanks for playing everybody! =]

Monday, December 15, 2008

Choosing Joy...Hectic Day!

Today was such a hectic day that I can't even get into it all. At one point, I even wanted to cry. I didn't cry though, and things got better as the evening progressed. I will share pictures later, but I am going to bed for now. Today, I choose to have JOY even when things get crazy and seem to be out of my control.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

New Members...adding to the family!

My joy today is rejoicing over new members that have joined our church. Our church family is growing and I love it. I say church family because family is what they are to me! Last night I had a Christmas get together with the Ladies Group from my church. This is a group of ladies that meets with me every week for a Bible Study or activity. We have so much fun together and get closer to each other every week - like sisters. I am so thankful for them and they all are my JOY!