Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Finding Joy as Satan is determined to take it

"Shucks, you were going to have a swingset in your yard for the boys to play in all Christmas Day?"

"You mean you still don't have time to buy another?"

"You know you can go and just get a cheaper playground because you want the boys to have a fun-filled Christmas!"

Satan is a good liar! He likes whispering these things into my head as we walk past the toy aisle in Wal-mart. He loves trying to replace my joy with sadness, and every split second that I get just a little teary eyed I let him win that time frame. It's upsetting that the human mind can betray itself especially when you think you know yourself. I went back to my previous post and just reflected because I know that everything I wrote was true!

"Shucks, you were going to have a swingset in your yard for the boys to play in all Christmas Day?"
Sure, but you know what! As Reson pointed out we can take them to the park. Yea, I live in a country that offers playgrounds free to the public.

"You mean you still don't have time to buy another?"
Sure, I do! But then I wouldn't be following my heart of  "Whenever Christmas begins to burden, it's a sign that I've taken on something of the world and not of Christ."

"You know you can go and just get a cheaper playground because you want the boys to have a fun-filled Christmas!" Yea, I could, but then if Luk wants to buy:

a cow, 

or 20 mosquito nets, 

or 17 soccer balls, 

or 15 Chickens, 

or 10 Baking Supplies, 

or 8 Vaccinations, 

or 6 Educational Supplies, 

or 5 Kits for New Moms,

or 4 goats, 

or 4 water filters, 

or 4 beauty trainings, 

or how about 3 Bakeries, 

or even 2 Small Businesses,

or even a mechanics workshop 

 through Compassion. If I spend my money on a swingset, I couldn't do this for him.  I would be saying, "You know Luk, I told you we would be doing this, but you know, I really don't care about others in poverty I wanted to get Logan and you a swingset.

What kind of example is this? No, Satan my sad heart will not allow you to do this, to remove the joy that I have been having over this loss. No, because it has been a joy focusing on God and what he has graciously given to me and my family. We are blessed beyond measure, and it is our call to give to others that are not as fortunate. Christ came for the lowly, and he wants us to experience a sense of lowliness.

So... I'm thinking instead of a swingset we may invest a cow for a village in Kenya
and Luk... well, he told us he wanted to get the mosquito nets.
You want to know why? He relates to it. When he goes outside in the Florida heat, he and I both get eaten alive by those darned bugs. He and I both know that we would hate to try sleeping with that happening. Imagine it... being bitten all night long... with no relieve... you wake up every morning and you can't even tell where the new bites are because you have bites all over you anyways. My heart feels a conviction to get the water and kit for new moms. Why? Have you ever thought about what you live would be like without clean water, an element you need for survival. You would be sick all the time due to contaminates, you would be malnourished, and you may even die. A new mom, a small baby, no clean water, not enough food, no breastmilk flowing. You have NO idea how to keep your child alive because no one near has been able to do it.  This village would have clean filtered water, this new mom would have a Dr/Nurse to give health visits, vaccinations, and help to give this child a future.

These things are all more than I can give by giving my boy's a swingset. So, as Satan tries to create sadness in my heart, give me a bad day, I immerse myself in these things. If I didn't my heart would become hardened, my soul would begin to ache as my selfishness takes over. Is today a day, yes. Do I want to scream, yes. However, I will not let my joy be taken. I will sit for a bit, reflect, breath deep, and be joyful through it because I'm getting a cow for Christmas... it's just going to be living in Kenya it's whole life. Maybe one day I will meet it. =D

So... I ask you, what can you give this Christmas that means more than an iPod, or watch, or swingset? I don't know, you tell me because there is whole list stated above that can change a whole generation!

Friday, December 17, 2010

It could be worse...

I open the refrigerator. I take the chicken eggs out, and continue to take out the prepackaged already sliced pig bacon. I turn on the electric stove remembering I forgot to take out the already churned flavored and spreadable butter. I read two blogs that give me daily doses of reality and conviction for my own habits. The one prompting the above is called Sit a Spell, and how we really don't appreciate the things that we have on a daily basis. It was while doing breakfast that this reality was really hitting hard this morning. I was telling Luk how if we didn't live here in the United States that we would be hoping that our chickens laid eggs, that we even would own a pig to get pork meat, etc. He doesn't grasp the hardship that would be. I show him pictures, but he doesn't SEE it. So, I have to try to show him in some way.

Yesterday, Reson and I got back from a vacation. It was one that we didn't know we were going on, but it's funny how those unexpected things happen in your life. Scroll down to see the awesome postcard we picked up on our way back.

Isn't that great!? I'm sure by now you can sense the sarcasm in this part of my post. Yep, we are victims of a scam. A well done one if I may say so. Isn't that great? Actually, YES! There were a few things that I took from this experience. First, I want to clarify that my only heart ache is that I did involve someone else in the "deal" because I didn't want them to miss out on such an opportunity. I am grateful that they are God loving people who see that really it's a "that sucks" situation.

So, what did I get from this: ALOT!
1) It's interesting that I never even thought, "my poor boys, their Christmas is ruined!" No, I was upset that I let another group of people down with my judgment. What I got? I got that when you surround yourself with people that you care about that love you back you care about their feelings. It was actually an overbearing feeling. I bawled my eyes out thinking about it.

2) The second blog I read posted this yesterday (the day we found out it was scam), "Whenever Christmas begins to burden, it’s a sign that I’ve taken on something of the world and not of Christ." Enough said, really. This year we were pretty minimal in our spending compared to last year. The scam did involve the big gift for the boys. I could have thought many things to get angry about it. I did get angry, but it wasn't a "how dare you" anger. It was referring to the anger that stemmed from the crying for what I wrote above.

3) On the scam-side: always go to a place like www.godaddy.com search out that website and see who it belongs to. If it says this: N4892 Nassau Bahamas Tel: +852.81720004 = SCAM. You put the URL in make a domain bar, it will say it is used, but you will see where it says "more info" click there and you will see where the domain came from. The site will look legit, have FAQs from customer, payment details to the last "T," and they will even put the pretty "secure site" logos on there.

4) Report it! www.scamchecker.com is a source that you can find scams or report one. I encourage you to do it.

5) Finally, one other person posted a report on the same scam. It was actually the same the day. She went on a tirade on how this ruined her kids Christmas, that they didn't spend the money on taking their children to some dance competition, and that how could these people do this to children, etc. I am again reminded that so many people in this world care to much about materials.

Final thoughts (this will be lengthy as this is my full reaction to the whole process):
I'm sad that people think that this is okay to do. I'm sad that I got someone else involved. I am, however thankful. I still have a home; I still have money for groceries; I still have two happy little boys that have NO idea that they were getting this gift, and lastly our year of minimalizing began NOW!

God has never hesitated on taking things away from Reson and me to show us that we need to refocus. Why were we waiting until next year to do our Christ-centered Christmas? Why did we purchase an expensive item when we wanted to be Christ seeking people all year round? I believe God was telling us no, you are going to seek this new traditional NOW! With that I am repentant that I thought next year was a good time. I am reminded again that God's time is the right time. We do already have six gifts for both boys. The full blown tradition will be three gifts, and looking through our Compassion Catalog to buy something for people who find JOY in God, health, family, food, and friendship. We are going to do the Compassion gifts this year, too.

We have our Jesse Tree going strong, and everyday we are reminded that God is control and His plan is the best plan for our lives. I lost money. It was basically like handing it to someone, and walking away. Deep down I'm hoping that they are using the money to help the people in their country, but the pessimist me knows it is mostly likely not. I could get angry. I could cry that it ruined my boys' Christmas, but I can't because it didn't. It didn't ruin my Christmas. I look to what Ann Voskamp wrote, "Whenever Christmas begins to burden, it's a sign that I've taken on something of the world and not of Christ." I look beyond Christmas though. If there is anything in this LIFE that can burden me, then I am surely looking to the world and not to Christ.

I have decided that I am upset that I didn't get a tan while on vacation in the Bahamas. Reson was upset that he didn't get to take photo while there. In all, we will not be going back to the Bahamas EVER, however something tells me if I say that God will find a way to put me there. So... I leave with saying I will not be going to the Bahamas if I had choice, but if be God's then I guess I will. =D

Merry Christmas! "Whenever Christmas begins to burden, it's a sign that I've taken on something of the world and not of Christ." I leave with us as we are today, JOYOUS!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Cards 2010

A sneak peek... if you get one the inside holds a sweet treat!

Family Wall Noir Christmas 5x7 folded card
View the entire collection of cards.

Monday, December 13, 2010

One Week...

It has been one week without yelling at the boys. I know this seems like a weird thing to bring up, but what a celebration! Over a week ago our days went something like this...

Logan is screaming his death defying holler, reaching for me to pick him up while I'm trying to carry the load of laundry to the laundry room. At the same time Luk is screaming I wanna do this, I want this, can I have this... and BOOM!!! I EXPLODE!!! All I want to do it be able to carry the load of laundry to the washer without hearing that screech that is like a thousand nails scratching a hundreds of black boards or without hearing Luk complain that he wants a snack (when he already got the answer "no").

The days were like that all the time. If I wasn't doing laundry, I was trying to get something done for the husband or even trying to do school with Luk. Logan would be screaming, and for Luk that gave him the excuse to goof off and not answer the questions to his work. BOOM... EXPLOSION!!! I was sick of yelling at them, and I hated it! So, last Monday I made a pledge no more yelling!

This has almost become a detox phase, really. =D I'm used to yelling. Did you ever watch "My Big Fat Greek Wedding?" Just turn that into Cuban and that is what I'm used to. When Reson and I got married, and we moved to Louisville, and I got used to talking in a whisper to the point that when my mom visited she couldn't hear me. Well, needless to say when we moved back the yelling commenced.

With this in mind, the detox of yelling has been almost like trying not to stick that piece of yummy chocolate cake when you already had one slice. However, I have caught myself before doing it, and my conviction has been one with sincerity. So, it has been one week with no yelling for me, and I must say I can thank God for giving me the self control to maintain this.

Proverbs 16:32

  Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
   and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

I want to my boys to know that their mother is one that wants to talk it out not shout it out. Today was a true testament, and I didn't realize it until, now. Let me explain why. Today, I packed away FOUR bags of clothes that the boys out grew, reorganized their FIVE shelves of books, and reorganized their TWO bins of toys. They had their moments of screaming, crying, and asking questions, but God certainly gave me control when I wasn't even trying to do it. I didn't have to stop myself from yelling because I didn't have the desire to do it.

I praise the Lord for helping me this week, and I pray that He continues to transform me into a Proverbs 31 woman of God!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Wake Up Call

As I lay in the bed slowly waking up, I hear Logan "talking." This is usually a great morning because usually he just cries, and is ready to get out of that crib! However, days like today come few and far between as my little man was just cooing, calling out Mama, ba-ba, and laughing. When Luk was this age, I would give him about twenty minutes to a half hour to just chill in the morning and play. He was an early riser, and this helped me get focused on the day ahead. Luk, now, will sleep as late as Logan will let him, which is usually 8:00ish. Unfortunately, my four year old didn't think that Logan's talking was enough to get my attention. So... the sweet sounds of Logan's chit chat turns into hearing Luk saying "cry, cry, cry, cry, cry, cry, cry!" Do you get the picture?

Inside Head thought:
Shocked, maybe. He was going to some great length to make him cry in my book.

Sure enough the water works descended, which for Logan Tender-Heart is not very hard to do. He is 100% Momma's boy, and he is ultra sensitive. Example- loud noises (vacuum, sirens, etc) tears start flowing. I leave the room, or try to hand him over to dad; tears. So, is the beauty of Logan's heart. With the chanting of "CRY!" from Luk, I enter the room. Luk immediately silenced. He knew he was in for it.

Dialogue between me and Mister Let's make my brother scream:
M: L, why were you screaming, "CRY!"
L: Because... (looks away as if ready to lie)
M: You know that if you lie to me you will get into more trouble than if you tell me the truth?
L: Yes, Mama. I'm going to tell the truth.
M: Okay.
L: Well (this is he catch phrase at the moment), I wanted him to cry so that I could get up and play.
**side note** Luk knows that in the mornings once Logan is awake, he can play with Logan and his toys.
M: You know you are allowed to get up and play once Logan is awake, so why are you doing that?
L: Well, I don't know.
M: Logan is your brother. You are to love your brother, and you making him cry and yelling at him is unacceptable. I am upset that you were doing that to make your brother cry. God did make you to be ugly and mean to your brother and to others. I want you to repeat after me: "I will not say mean things." I want you to say that three times.
L: "I will not say mean things. I will not say mean things. I will not say mean things."

Surprisingly, Logan stayed quiet and just watched. Luk later yelled something to me, and quickly said, "I will not yell. I will not yell. I will not yell."

We are starting the day off pretty good. I hate to yell at Luk, and it seems that it happens everyday at some point. Logan is attached to me. If I try to put him down to laundry or anything he will literally cry and following me pulling my pants. In addition to that, Luk is asking redundant questions after he has gotten the answer "no." So, I decided I needed a change in action, and it has worked today. We will see how it goes. I know that everyday will not be like this, I know that I will have to practice self-control when it comes to raising my voice, but I am happy to see that Luk is getting it.

As he begin his segment of ask mom the same question over and over again. I said to him, "Luk are you obeying and listening?" He said, "No. I will be a good listener. I will be a good listener. I will be a good listener."  It is nice that without prompt he knew that I was going to say something about it. He is practicing his self-control, which has led to a pleasant morning. Thanks to Tristan for posting on "Taking Emotion Out of Discipline" over at Our Busy Homeschool, she reminded me that I wanted to implement some of these things after reading Duggar House Guidelines.

Friday, December 3, 2010

"A Jesus Advent Celebration" by Ann Voskamp

At the Homeschool Convention this past May, I bought Binding Books Beautifully Kit. I had seen the kit the year before, and I had talked to my husband about it. So, we bought it this year. I have yet to make a book yet, however when I came across this Jesse Tree Advent Devotional "A Jesus Advent Celebration" by Ann Voskamp I knew I need to bound this thing. It is free with subscribing to her updates (which is free, too). Here blog, A Holy Experience is one of wonderful experiences shared, and how she and her family celebration their traditions. The other beauty to this book is the pages that talks about Compassion, and the gift of giver verses receiving. The devotional is 80 pages long with eight pages that have the ornaments you need for your Jesse Tree.  What I love most about this project was that I can see it being something that my boys will want to continue with their families as they become adults.

Binding Kit

The Pages

Pages are divided into equal parts. The pages are put into the BBB wooden binder tool. 

The directions in certain areas are a bit ambiguous, but like I told my husband, "They expect us to be smart with this!" =D We started by only doing every other nail because the space is just close enough to make it difficult to hammer it straight.
The pages need to be clip on the other side for the process after this.

Once it is all nailed. The nails need to come up, and the holes will be perfect to sew.

Reson did the first half while I began sewing the bottom half of the pages.

Here is where the directions are quite ambiguous again. You need to savvy in reading/looking at picture to figure out the sewing pattern. I used a crochet thread for this because I knew that it was going to be a big book. When doing a smaller book you can use dental floss or thread doubled.

Another area that seemed vague was the book cover. I recommend you doing AFTER you have sewn the pieces together. We did it before and it was too big even though we measured it. So, do it afterward, and you will get better results.

Book Board (not card board) with a spine.

This was the most time consuming part. If you look closely you will see next to the white paper that there is masking tape. that space is where the needle goes through to connect the pages to the cover. It was very tedious and time consuming being it such a large book. Reson and I joked that the directions say to do your first book small, but why do that when you can do it BIG! LOL.

Here she is all done:

The beauty of this book is how you learn that the story of Christmas came from the very beginning when there was a universe of nothingness. It is beautifully written and deserved to bound. I hope that this will be a wonderful keepsake for our family. I want it to be a tradition that my boys will grow to cherish doing year after year. Here is our Jesse Tree with the ornaments that we have done so far. Today we went over December 3.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Story of Christmas

We don't do Santa at our house, and guess what it doesn't ruin Christmas! Amazing! Luk knows the story of St. Nicholas, why there are Santas in malls, etc. We still enjoy the Santa movies and the spirit that the Santa story brings. We just have chosen not to do the pretend thing. We are open and honest with Luk about everything else, why would we start "lying" now with something so big that could last years. Yes, "lying" is a harsh word, but in truth that is the correct word. I was told about Santa. I have no problem with those that do. I respect that decision, and we tell Luk regularly not to share this fact with others especially when there are children around.

With that, I get daily newsletter from a wonderful website called iMOM. It gives some great insight to situations, resources, and tools to dealing with being a Christian mom. This is mom site to Tony Dungy's All Pro Dad, Family Minute, and Family First. Today, they gave resources to The Story of Christmas, and I was on top of it. The figures are playful and professional looking. The story is straight from scripture. The best part is it's free.

 Speaking of telling Luk all about truth... I will have to post later today what happened when we discussed that women need men to have babies. Yep, that one was fun. =) This is were I have to make it very clear that truth in moderation and age oriented is very important. LOL