Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

Welcome to the Ultimate Blog Party here in my little corner of the world!

I'm delighted you stopped by.  We're starting two new chapters in our life - a all organic lifestyle and a 2-teenage boy household. EEEK!    I'm having lots of fun finding and experimenting with new recipes, and I can always use more Mom-support when my boys drive me crazy.

I'm a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend. I believe in God and strive to live my life in His will, but I'm human and I struggle.   I love chocolate and coffee and caramel, kitties and pit bulls, turtles and lizards.  When I have spare time, I like to read and someday I'll get back to my cross-stitching and crotchet.  You can read more about me here, or you can just follow me and enjoy what looks to be a wild and crazy ride.  :)

I'm heading over to 5 Minutes for Mom to sign up, but please stick around a while.  I'm looking forward to making a ton of new friends this week!

P.S.: If you're not sure if you should join the #UBP11, you totally should!  There's lots of great folks to meet, blogs to find, recipes to try, and PRIZES TO WIN!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Parents - beware the books "Conversations with God"

Today I received the following email, forwarded to me by one of my dearest Sisters.

Most of you have gone past the stage of worrying about your children but remember the next generation are your grandkids so please don't drop your guard. They have taken God out of our schools and now are trying to replace Him with false writings in His name, be aware.

To all my friends who have children and grandchildren.

Beware of this book! Oprah is pushing it. It is scary that someone would be bold enough to write a book from God's point of view contrary to His Word. Please send to all with kids or grandkids.

If you have children or grandchildren, work with children at church, or you have neighborhood children whose parents you know, please take note of the information below and pass it along to others. Schools are distributing this book to children through the Scholastic Book Club. 

The name of the book is "Conversations with God". James Dobson talked about this book twice this week. It is devastating. Parents, churches and Christian schools need to be aware of it. Please pass this information on to church/e-mail addresses, Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, friends. 

Two particular books are, Conversations with God and Conversations with God for Teens, written by Neale D. Walsch. They sound harmless enough by their titles alone. The books have been on the New York Times best sellers list for a number of weeks, and they make truth of the statement, "Don't judge a book by its cover or title."

The author purports to answer various questions asked by kids using the "voice of God". However, the "answers" that he gives are not Bible-based and go against the very infallible word of God. For instance (and I paraphrase), when a girl asks the question "Why am I a lesbian?" His answer is that she was 'born that way' because of genetics (just as you were born right-handed, with brown eyes, etc.). Then he tells her to go out and "celebrate" her differences.

Another girl poses the question "I am living with my boyfriend. My parents say that I should marry him because I am living in sin. Should I marry him?" His reply is, "Who are you sinning against? Not me, because you have done nothing wrong."

Another question asks about God's forgiveness of sin. His reply "I do not forgive anyone because there is nothing to forgive... There is no such thing as right or wrong and that is what I have been trying to tell everyone, do not judge people. People have chosen to judge one another and this is wrong, because the rule is "'judge not lest ye be judged."

Not only are these books the false doctrine of the devil, but in some instances quote (in error) the Word of God.

And the list goes on. These books (and others like it) are being sold to school children through (The Scholastic Book Club), and we need to be aware of what is being fed to our children.
Our children are under attack. So I pray that you be sober and vigilant about teaching your children the Word of God, and guarding their exposure to worldly mediums, because our adversary, the devil, roams about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). We know that lions usually hunt for the slowest, weakest and YOUNGEST of its prey.

Pass this on to every Believer you know. God bless. And, if you are in doubt, check out the books yourself.

I have personally never even heard of this book even though it has 3 sequels and has been around for decades. I did my research though and was appalled by what I found. It’s a book that is purported to be answers directly from God but that is in reality a small amount of truth interspersed with twisted lies. From my own research, the majority of the positive reviews are all from new-age spirituality, prosperity preaching websites. BTDT, NEVER GOING BACK!

This book “teaches” that we are all pure gods and goddesses from the moment of creation, equal to God. There is no heaven, there is no before or after, there is only now, and thus we can’t ever be on an incorrect path. There is no right or wrong; they are relative terms we place on things. IMO, this is a great example of that little truth with big lies – while technically correct, where did the original terms come from? GOD told us way back in the beginning of Genesis! According to these books, we are not bound to obligations, situations or circumstances, rules or restrictions, nor are we punishable for offenses because nothing is offensive to God. ????!!!!

I think one of the points that really got me was the whole restrictions thing. It talks about how nothing is really restricted from us, and that placing a restriction on something gives it life. I can see that as another technical truth. Being restricted from something makes us want it even more. I get that. But while God is probably not going to personally punish me for playing FarmVille every waking hour, God is still displeased with me because (1) I’ve idolized something and He hates idols and (2) I’m neglecting my spiritual relationship with Him, which eventually will hurt me and everyone I come into contact with. I think I’ll stick with my restrictions. The rewards more than make up for the sacrifice.

After reading several pages of quotes from the books, I’m left with a very strong feeling that this is one of the enemy’s most successful attacks and we need to be very weary of it. I just couldn’t believe some of the stuff I was reading. I kinda feel like I should read the book so I’m more aware of the lies the enemy is using, but I think I’d only end up screaming at the book and throwing it across the room in frustration. I don’t think it’s going to make it on my list of future reads. ROFL

Parents, read about these books. Pray about them, and how God can use you to spread the word that these books are not of God and should be avoided. We have an obligation to fight the enemy and preach His Word to everyone that can hear. 

For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”    Romans 10:13-15 (NLT)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Triple Blessed

Our day started extraordinarily early with a knock on the door by Alex and a frantic cry of "Ginny just had a baby!"

We rushed out of bed and into his room and sure enough, there was our almost 4 year old female cat and a brand new and still wet kitten.  I rushed back into the room to find a box big enough to keep the new Momma in while Manny grabbed for towels.

After getting them situated and instructing Alex to pet her and love on her and keep watch over her, I heard Manny mention it was 4:00am.  *sigh*   No point in going back to bed now, as I headed into the kitchen to start coffee.  Google is my friend, especially in the early morning hours when I have no where else to go for advice on laboring cats (which are called Queens, in case you ever wondered).

Ginny and her early morning surprise baby ~ 4:30am 3.28.11

Two pots of coffee later, Manny was waking Andy up (he sure got up quick at the thought of a new kitten!) and I was hopping in the shower to get ready for work.    We were concerned about Ginny, even though she seemed to be doing okay.  She was our bottle-fed furbaby when she was barely bigger than this one and is precious to us.  We didn't have any idea she was expecting, and didn't have any idea of how many kittens we could be facing.  It looked like it was going to be a long day ahead.

Just before I left for work, baby #2 arrived.  After this one was born, Ginny was laying with her back legs on the placenta and couldn't get a good enough grasp of the baby because the first one kept getting in the way.  We moved #1 out of the way long enough to get the new baby and the placenta in a better position for Momma.  That's all it took and she took over from there.

Baby #2 cleaned and nursing for the first time ~ 7:15am 3.28.11

A few hours later, I got the phone call... Number 3 was here.  This one was even more of a difficult birth - the placenta hadn't been delivered and Manny had to take over and help Momma out.  All was successful in the end though, although I worried for the health of this baby b/c it looked so much smaller than the first two.

Baby #3 being cleaned by Momma just after birth ~ 9:00am 3.28.11

In the end though, all the kitties are doing just fine.  God heard our prayers and we have a healthy Momma cat and 3 beautiful little babies.  All 3 kittens have Momma's coloring and Daddy's white markings, although none of them have his cute little black nose.

The new family ~ 6:00pm 3.28.11

Rory, the presumed Daddy

My wonderful big Sister Zee has claimed the oldest baby. Light gray and white, it's already a very pushy cry baby.  That is one little kitty with a very big personality.  God certainly had a purpose for putting the desire for this one on her heart this morning.  

Manny's claimed the second baby, the brown and white one.  He said there is something just so sweet about the little blonde one, and has already chosen to name it Sam - a name of honor among our kitties as this will be the third Sam that has graced our family.  

The third baby is darker gray and white, and is quiet and docile right now.  It just seems to go with the flow, whether it's Momma rolling from one side to the other taking it with her or the oldest always trying to take over whatever place this one happens to be in.  I don't have a taker for this one yet so if you're local and interested, let me know!  LOL   (I do have someone that my gut instinct says may want it, but the person hasn't spoken up yet and I'm not going to say who it is until/unless they do.)  

Today has been a blessing.  God has reminded us that no matter how big the storms may seem, no matter what our struggles and trials are, there is always something good just around the corner when we least expect it.    Tonight, I got to witness God first hand as I watched my sweet Ginger pull her sweet new babies close to her and wrap them up safe in her arms, close to her heart and under her protection.  

I felt God wrap His arms around me Sunday morning, as my heart was torn by the grief I feel for my boys, the uncertainty of their future, but the knowledge that someday they'll find their way into His arms where they belong.

There is a God who loves me
Who wraps me in His arms
That is the place where I'm changed
And that's where I belong

Lord, I pray that I never lose sight of this special moment - this tangible love that You have for me, Your daughter.  When doubts creep in, when worries work free, when all seems dark, You still love me. You are still there for me, and all I have to do is allow myself to be wrapped in Your arms once again.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Purging clutter from our lives

One of the projects I set for myself this week was to clean out my closet and dresser and get rid of everything I don't wear anymore.

Then I came across a blog that linked to a weekly challenge at A bowl full of lemons.  This week's challenge is to  purge the unnecessary clutter from our lives.  How lovely that I've already started this challenge and didn't even know it!

Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time hanging up the clean laundry, taking out what is no longer needed, putting away the winter clothes, and reorganizing the rest.  Then, because I was tired, I decided to take a break and get back to my work later.  It's now 24+ hours later and still the rest of the work remains to be done.  None of the dresser drawers have been cleaned or sorted, nor has the clutter been boxed up to be given away.

As I sat down to write this post, I realized how much we need to purge our spiritual life as well as our physical life.

Purge is defined as to rid of whatever is impure or undesirable; cleanse; purify.  A quick google search of the King James Version reveals the word purge is used 16 times, cleanse 34 times, and purify 13 times.  That tells me this action should be a very important part of our life.

The Lord purged the Promised Land of their enemies when they remain faithful. Priests had to cleanse themselves, purify themselves before they could enter into the Holy Place.  Jesus Christ gave His life for us, allowed His blood to purify us - purge us - of our sins.  Why then do we insist on keeping all this junk in our life?  Why do we hold on to the spiritual clutter that we know separates us from God?

He wants to heal us of our pains. He wants to have a deep and loving relationship with us but time and time again we deny ourselves of the joy that only He can provide by keeping the clutter close to us.   I don't know about you, but I'm horrible about moving clutter from one spot in my house to another, and I'm realizing I do this with my spiritual clutter too.  I sacrifice one thing that is cluttering up my relationship only to pick up something else that quickly becomes clutter.  As soon as I rid myself of the second clutter, I pick up a third.  When does it stop? What has to happen before we say enough is enough?

I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there. You know I have done all this with good motives, and I have watched your people offer their gifts willingly and joyously.   1 Chronicles 29:17 (NLT)

The Lord knows my intentions are good.  I don't mean to pick up a new game when I just got rid of one. I don't mean to put a tv show in place of time reading Your Word, even though my intent was to give up that game to catch up on my Bible reading.  It just happened, and like I always do, I shrugged it off and said I'd do better tomorrow.  That was a lot of tomorrow's ago, but little by little I'm getting better. I'm focusing more the Word, I'm studying it, researching it, not just reading it.  I'm searching out new sources and new studies that can be shared with my friends and family.  I'm leaning on my husband more, relying on him to be the spiritual leader God says he is.  I'm learning that he has to grow and mature in his relationship with the Lord just as I do, and that it's okay if his relationship doesn't look much like mine.  I'm realizing that it's a good thing that our relationships are different because it gives us more to share and talk about, and I know he can always make me see something from a completely different perspective.  Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart.  Psalm 26:2 (NLT)

Life certainly isn't picture perfect though. Our struggles with Andy continue on into the weekend, not very different than they were before the mid-week episode, but he is a little more respectful and a little more willing to do things without as much complaining as before.  We found out Friday that Alex's grades are very low, something that isn't acceptable because it means he's simply not doing his work.    As a mother, my heart breaks for my boys.   From where I stand, it appears that they are so wrapped up in the things of this world that they're not listening for God and they're not hearing Him when He calls to them.  I feel lost for a solution and know all I can do is keep letting them see me live my life for Christ and keep praying for them.  My faith is my only fortress right now; God will give me the strength to get through the struggles of the day.  I have taught my children to love the Lord and to walk in His will for their life and I have to trust in His promise that they will not depart from that, even when it doesn't look promising right now.

In the meantime, I'll continue to efforts to declutter my spiritual relationship and my home, even if I can only manage a little bit each day.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The worst night of my life

Last night was the absolute worst night of my life.   Rather than take responsibility and face the consequences of his actions, my 12 year old son chose not to come home from school. 

He should have been home around 4:30.  When he hadn’t made it home by 4:45, we started searching for him.  Alex rode his bike up and down the streets of our subdivision and the one next to us. He searched the library and the tennis courts, the parks, and the local shops where Andy might have gone.  I drove around the back streets of the neighborhoods, checking the beach and the skate park, and double backing to them later when I got there again.  I called the transportation department to see if Andy had been on the bus that afternoon.  I went to the school in hopes that he’d stayed late for tutoring – without our knowledge – only to find out he’d told them he had his bike that day and would ride it home. 

He’s not allowed to ride his bike to school. It’s old and rusty and doesn’t have reflectors, and it needs to be replaced.  He’s not even allowed to ride it anywhere by himself in case something happens.

The transportation department confirmed he wasn’t on the bus, Manny confirmed the bike wasn’t at home. By then it was almost 5:30.  Where ever Andy was, he had almost 1.5 hour head start to get there.

By 6:00, Alex was home waiting while Manny and I sat in an interview room with a photograph of our youngest son, listening to a very nice police officer explain that our son would be listed as a runaway, and he’d most likely show up when it got dark and we should just go home and wait. We listened as he explained they really couldn’t escalate it to a missing person case unless he was still missing today. 

With family and friends praying and asking what they could do to help, we left the police station and drove around some more. Further than I thought it was even possible for him to have gone but I had to check anyway, just in case he was there.

We drove until it started getting too dark to easily spot him, and then returned home as we’d been told.  I gave Alex his brother’s cell phone and told him to start calling everyone in the phone book.  I pulled up our cell phone bill and started calling the most frequent numbers.  I prayed we’d reach a friend that knew where he was, or could tell us he’d said something about going somewhere after school.  Most numbers were not working or not answered.  I got on Andy’s facebook account hoping some of his friends were online and could help.  Two of them were online and did help, but they didn’t have any better luck than we did.

Two police departments were looking for him as they patrolled the city streets.  His principal called together a group of her staff and teachers and they started driving around looking.  Our church family was on the lookout for him as they headed home from the Wednesday night meeting.

I wanted to be out there looking some more, but knew I needed to stay put just in case.  I wasn’t in any real condition to safely drive anyway.  I was worried about my boy, scared for him to be out there after dark by himself, not knowing where he was or who he might be with. Was he safe? Had something happened to his bike and we didn’t know? Even worse, had someone snatched him?  I was sick to my stomach with fear and terrified I’d never see him again. All I could do was keep praying.  God, protect him and keep him safe and bring him back to us.  That became my mantra as I watched the clock keep ticking away.  I gave myself a deadline of 10:00. If he wasn’t found by then, I was calling the very nice officer and doing whatever was necessary to escalate the search. 

Just before 9:00 the call came in.  “We found him,” they said.  “Thank you, God,” I said.  He’d been spotted by a teacher a nearby pizza place and they were keeping him there until we arrived.   Five minutes later, my boy was safe and sound in my arms.

We talked with the junior high staff for a little bit. They talked to Andy for a little bit.  Andy said he was at a friend’s house – he never left our little part of town – but admitted he didn’t plan on going home.  He knew Dad was angry and he didn’t want to face him.   I called and texted pray-ers and searchers to let them know he was safe.  Then we headed back to the police station. The officer met us there and, with our permission, read him the riot act. He explained to Andy the potential impact this could have if he has further negative issues with law enforcement, that we have the legal right to discipline him as severely as we wanted as long as it was justifiable – and that this certainly fell within the realm of that justification. 

I think Andy was just as scared as we were.  Some part of me hopes he was because I hope it will ensure it never happens again.  I pray he fully understands his actions were not the right ones to have taken. I pray he understands it’s better, and easier, to be truthful and take responsibility from the very start.  I pray this will be part of his “rock bottom “and he’ll only go up from here.

He was honest with us when he got home. He admitted he’d found the lighter, taken it to school, and burnt the paper.   He has 2 days of out-of-school suspension which translates to hard labor at home under Dad’s supervision.  Right now he should still be cutting grass with scissors.  I don’t know what else is on the agenda but Manny’s very creative when he wants to be.

We’re still waiting for a decision from the school on whether this most recent act, combined with several other acts of insubordination earlier this school year (the most recent one just 2 weeks ago), will result in him being recommended for alternative school placement.   We’re still in prayer over our response, should that recommendation be made.  

Part of me thinks the more rigid, formal structure might be good for him for a few weeks; that he’ll see the other kids there and realize his life and his problems aren’t as horrible as he thinks they are, and it’ll give him the self-encouragement he needs to change things for the better.  But part of me thinks it could have a negative effect on him; that if he goes there he’ll decide that since he’s already there, what’s the point of even trying anymore.   Homeschooling may also be an option.  

I told my best friends this morning that everything at work is so normal but I still feel like my world is upside down, and it’s really weird.  One said it was such a terrifying situation for us that we may feel like this for a while.  The other said it was a huge scare and a reality check, that our time here is fragile. She pointed out that this is one of those things that happen to OTHER families, and she’s right. I thought about this morning.  I sympathize with the parents on the news when their child goes missing, but I never dreamed one day it would be MY child and MY family. But it was, and there was nothing I could do but lean on my faith in my Lord and pray for my son’s safe-keeping and return.

I thank God we strive to live our life in His will, and to raise our boys to do the same, because I know it was His power that kept me sane last night and that is keeping me strong today. It is His power that will give me strength in the days to come as we pick up the pieces of our messy life.

I thank God for watching over my son, His adopted son, and keeping him safe and sending him back to us.

I thank God for whatever purpose these trials have and that someday we will see and understand the fruits of Andy’s testimony.

I thank God for family and friends that love us and that prayed for Andy, believing He would watch over my child.

I thank God for living in a small(ish) community where a missing child, even a willful runaway, is a priority.

I thank God for police officers that look for a runaway child on their patrols.  

I thank God for teachers and school staff that care enough about their students to take time from their evening and their family to help find my child.

I thank God for loving me, because without Him I do not even want to imagine how last night could have turned out.

In the words of one my favorite artists, Francesca Battistelli:

This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff that's getting to me lately
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I'm blessed
This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing
It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use

Monday, March 21, 2011

Three weeks and counting...

We are now 3 weeks in to what I’ve lovingly decided to call our “birthing pains of a new lifestyle”. 

In other words, now that Manny is feeling a zillion times better with an all-organic diet (to the point that we cleaned out the cupboard and donated 3 bags of non-organic food to the church, along with an apology for giving it to them LOL) his eyes have been opened so-to-speak and he’s seeing what’s really going on around him.  And it’s not been entirely pretty or pleasant as he realizes how much the boys take advantage of us and his inability to do/react to stuff going on around him.  I’m just trying to go with the flow because I understand what he’s doing and why, and most of the time I’m in agreement.  (Yes, I do tell him when I think he’s gone too far.) 

It’s not entirely backfiring on us though because the boys are starting to listen a little more and mind just a tad bit better, esp now that they have a better understanding of why he is the way he is.  They’re fully on the organic bandwagon with us and our kitchen gets really crowded with 4 people in there trying to cook or make something, so it’s a good family time. 

God is taking us to an entirely new level in our relationships with Him and in our family relationship, and the enemy is trying to take advantage of the changing dynamics to attack.  As long as we see it for what it is and don’t let him take advantage of us, we’ll be victorious.

My eyes are always looking to the Lord for help, for he alone can rescue me from the traps of my enemies.  (Psalm 25:15, NLT)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Do you know what you're eating?

The link below is an up-to-date guide that gives quick facts and figures about the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) manufacturers are putting in our food.

There’s a link at the end to another site where you can download or view online brands that voluntarily participate in the Non-GMO Project as well as a list of the “invisible ingredients” that GMOs may be called on food labels.

As a personal testimony, I can honestly say that just with the few things we’ve changed to organic sourced foods has already had a significant improvement in how Manny feels on a daily basis and a significant decrease in my allergy/sinus problems.   Bad days for both of us have been directly traced back to times where we’ve frequently eaten out (esp if it’s fast food) or have been eating higher amounts of processed and junk foods.  I will gladly trade a higher grocery bill for the improved health of my family.   Don’t just take my word for it though. Do the research and inform yourself, then help spread the word.
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