Monday, December 14, 2009

The Christmas Orange

I just found this story (along with a plan for a family night activity) here.

The Christmas Orange

I'd like to tell you a story my grandmother told me when I was six or seven years old. We had gone to her home for Thanksgiving dinner and the drive was rather a long one. I had filled the time with making a list of all the things that I wanted for Christmas that year.

Later that evening after I was ready for bed, I showed the list to my grandmother. After she read it, she said, "My goodness, that really is a long list!" Then she picked me up and set me on her lap in the big rocking chair and told me this story:

"Once there was a little girl who came to live in an orphanage in Denmark" (Now my grandmother was from Denmark, so this story might even be true.) "As Christmas time grew near, all of the other children began telling the little girl about the beautiful Christmas tree that would appear in the huge downstairs hall on Christmas morning. After their usual, very plain breakfast, each child would be given their one and only Christmas gift; small, single orange."
At this point I looked up at my grandmother in disbelief, but she assured me that was all each child would receive for Christmas.

"Now the headmaster of the orphanage was very stern and he thought Christmas to be a bother. So on Christmas Eve, when he caught the little girl creeping down the stairs to catch a peek at the much-heard-of Christmas tree, he sharply declared that the little girl would not receive her Christmas orange because she had been so curious as to disobey the rules. The little girl ran back to her room broken-hearted and crying at her terrible fate."

"The next morning as the other children were going down to breakfast, the little girl stayed in her bed. She couldn't stand the thought of seeing the others receive their gift when there would be none for her."

"Later, as the children came back upstairs, the little girl was surprised to be handed a napkin. As she carefully opened it, there to her disbelief was an orange all peeled and sectioned."

"How could this be?" she asked.

"It was then that she found how each child had taken one section from their orange and given it to her so that she, too, would have a Christmas orange."

How I loved this story! I would ask my grandmother to tell it to me over and over as I grew up. Every Christmas, as I pull a big, juicy orange from my stocking, I think of this story. What an example of the true meaning of Christmas those orphan children displayed that Christmas morning. How I wish the world, as a whole would display that same kind of Christ-like concern for others, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Husband Is an Overbearing Jerk … and I’m a Pouty Little Snot

This is a really good article that I just read from Family Life. Check it out. :)

P.S. My husband isn't an overbearing jerk, but he does have his faults, just as I have mine. I am thankful for my husband - like the song says that was sung at our wedding... I tip my hat to the keeper of the stars; He sure knew what He was doing when He joined these two hearts.

The Family Room archives -

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

K-Love's "Making a World of Difference Campaign" OR "Thank You, Pastor!"

This week, our local radio station, KLOVE, is having a contest in which they ask you to share your story about the first person who truly let you know "Jesus Loves You." Below is the story I submitted.

Although many Sunday school teachers were instrumental in teaching me "Jesus Loves Me," I would have to give honor today to my current Pastor, Kenneth Sullivan. Pastor Sullivan truly lives his life in a Christ-like manner. He is merciful and compassionate, and strives to teach his church to be the same. He is always preaching the power of the cross and forgiveness, stating that although most everything in this life will fail us, the power of the cross can never fail. Since being under his leadership, I have noticed that I am more compassionate and merciful. If someone treats me badly, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt. I am so thankful for the mercies of Christ which are new everyday, and which Pastor Sullivan, teaches to us often. He truly leads by example, and I am so thankful that God brought him to our church three years ago when our former pastor retired. I give honor to all of the church leaders in my life, but feel that Pastor Sullivan has been the most instrumental in teaching me how to be Christ-like and let His light and love shine through me. Thank you, Pastor Sullivan, and your wonderful family, for being examples of Christ, and for your servant-like leadership style.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Guest Post - Walk into the Extraordinary

I "borrowed" this article from a weekly e-newsletter that I receive from SISTERS.

I found it uplifting and encouraging, and wanted to share it with you.

Walk into the Extraordinary

By Bonnie Peacock

It was a day just like any other. As Gideon threshed wheat near the winepress, the unexpected happened. An angel appeared before him, "The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour" (Judges 6:12).

Gideon knew immediately that this was one lost and confused angel. Why, he was the youngest of a poor, obscure family. What could he do? He was powerless. How could God possibly use him?

Born into a nation that had walked away from God, attempting to hide wheat from the Midianites was a way of life for Gideon. Tired of living under the heavy hand of their enemy, the children of Israel began to call upon God to save them. Now an angel had come with a message of deliverance, but he had picked the wrong person. Of the entire nation, he had selected a young man with little prospects for the future.

It is easy to relate to Gideon. He had the audacity to ask the outrageous questions that we are reluctant to put into words. "If You are with me, God, why am I in such a mess? You delivered us out of Egypt only to allow us to fall prey to the Midianites. You want to use me to deliver my entire nation? If this is really You, You have to show me a sign!"

The angel did the miraculous before Gideon's eyes, yet he still fleeced God. Not once, but twice. At last he was convinced that he was hearing from the Lord.

With thirty-two thousand men at his disposal, everything seemed promising. But then God began the process of selecting and rejecting until Gideon was left with just three hundred men. God took this small group, armed with only trumpets, pitchers, and lamps (torches) and caused the Midianites to utterly destroy themselves.

What an amazing, wonderful story! From our perspective, we can smugly wonder why Gideon ever questioned God at all. Surely if an angel appeared to us, we would immediately, without
hesitation, obey.

But we all ask questions. God beckons us down a path that we have never walked before, "The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour!" We quake, question, and flea in fear. How can God use us? What if He lets us down? The task is too great! He expects too much of us. Doesn't He know who we are? Isn't He aware of our lack of experience and abilities?
God is looking for those who are willing to obey. Perfection is not a requirement. Self-sufficiency and tremendous confidence are not either. "Peace be unto thee; fear not!" (Judges 6:23) God's reassurance is needed when we stand at the crossroads of the familiar and a new assignment
from the Lord.

Just like Gideon, we are weak, defenseless, and without adequate resources to accomplish what God requires of us. But, "our sufficiency is of God" (II Corinthians 3:5). "The Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon" (Judges 6:34) and he was able to face and accomplish the task that God had placed before him. Without God's assistance, it is impossible to boldly accept the challenges that lie ahead. But it is not up to us! When we face the enemy, task, or ministry that God has called us to do, we too will hear His assurance. "And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left" (Isaiah 30:21).

In the Spirit today, can't you hear a voice gently speaking?
"The Lord is with thee, thou mighty [wo]man of valour!"

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Becca & Jeff's Wedding

What do you get when you cross an overworked, stressed, too much to do, mom with a broken foot for the better part of the summer, and trying to cram in a lot of activities during the last three weeks before school starts, with a person who doesn't have their own computer? You get someone who hasn't blogged in 6 weeks or so! ME! :)

We had a fabulous time driving down to the Pismo Beach area for my sister-in-law Becca's wedding. The event took place July 26th - and it was absolutely perfect. The Gardens at Peacock Farms are so beautiful, and the owner, Jessica, did an amazing job with the flowers and coordinating the wedding. Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the event.

This was the first time I'd seen "unity sand" instead of a unity candle... very neat idea, and as one friend pointed out, a much better visual for the couple sticking together - unlike a candle flame that can burn out or be blown out.

Super cute boys - this is my nephew, Jude, and Jeff's nephew, Vinny

My niece, Hannah, reading from The Love Chapter, 1 Corinthians 13

I thought this was neat - both Mom & Dad walked Becca down the aisle

My husband and girls, along with Grandpa Parker

So beautiful - and scrumptious too! All I know is that the baker was a lady from Paso Robles, CA. The chocolate cake had fudgy filing, and was delicioso! The bottom layer had white chocolate with raspberry, I think.

My mom, sister-in-law Megan, and her daughter, Hannah

The girls with Daddy and Uncle Ben

The fountain is just one of the many places available for portraits at The Gardens

Handsome Jude

This is a pic of my most amazing in-laws. Mom & Dad Parker are simply THE BEST! Too bad they live thousands of miles away! I know the Lord will bless them, though, as they are serving as missionaries to the island of Malta. (Along with several other countries which were added to their job in the last year or so).

This picture is for my friend, Sonia. This is Aida, Jeff & Becca, and Aida's daughter, Cat. They are long-time friends of Sonia (a mutual friend), and Aida helped me book our hotel room for the stay - which was a miracle, since all of the hotels in the entire area were booked completely due to the Pismo Beach car show that weekend.

This is my absolute favorite shot of the wedding - I stole the idea from their phenomenal photographer, Sam Hassas. You can check out his amazing portrait artistry here.

The flowers were so gorgeous! And these arrangements in the urn were actually free. They were left over from a wedding the evening before, and Jessica, the flower-artist, and host of the Gardens, removed the purple flowers and put pink ones in their place for Becca's wedding.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cell Phone Karma

A coworker sent this to me - and yes, I chuckled! :) What about you? Do you find people who must always have their phones on annoying? How would some people today have survived if they lived 40 years ago?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Old Sacramento & Photography

Again - it's been a long time since I've blogged - I'm issuing another "sorry" to my readers. :) Also, I owe a big apology to my dear friend, Staci (yes, my baby's namesake). In the 100th time I tried to post my last blog post, I neglected to mention how wonderful Staci was in visiting me, helping me assemble a jigsaw puzzle, and bringing me much-needed reading materials for when I was first down with the broken foot. Staci you are a terrific true friend - and I'm sorry I skipped over you on my last post.

Here's today's new post:

After seeing the amazing pictures that were taken for my sister-in-law Rebecca and her fiance Jeff at Hassas Photography I was inspired to try my hand at getting "new" shots of my girls instead of the 'same-ol, same-ol'.

We headed to Old Sacramento to see the traveling Disney's A Christmas Carol train (that was the reason for the girls, but my reason was to take pictures. ) When we got to Old Sac, the girls weren't all that interested in the Disney thing ... Shauna's main concern was whether or not she'd get to go to a museum. She wanted to go to the Railroad Museum (which train buffs have told me is one of the best in the nation) or the Schoolhouse Museum. Since we'd been to the train museum before, and the schoolhouse museum was free, we chose the schoolhouse.
The girls were both enthralled with the "teacher." She is a teacher by occupation, but Staci didn't grasp the time concept, and asked if she really taught "way back then"

I love this flag salute - and that it proclaims the truth - One God!
Staci does "okay" on writing her name
Shauna can write her name in cursive very well.
I'm proud of my first-grader - she is an excellent reader! "Class, turn to page 37" she told those in attendance at the museum.
And, here are my "Hassas-type" photos of the girls:

Friday, July 3, 2009

Can You Feel The Love?

To my faithful followers - I've missed blogging so much! I can't wait until I can get a new laptop and better internet service. Ours has been down for the last few days, and I tried about 10 times before that to get this post done. Hopefully it will work this time!

I have many pictures to show you from the last month or so - but for this post, I don't want another day to go by without saying THANK YOU to some super special people.

First, I want to thank my daughters for their love and support while I've been hobbling around with my broken foot. Shauna drew this delightful picture for me in church one night. I especially like the way she got my purple clothes that I've been wearing to match my purple cast and that the "after" picture shows me wearing a more colorful rainbow shirt. :) Staci pointed out that the cast is on the wrong foot - I hadn't even noticed that; but I think the picture is wonderful anyway. The girls have also been helping me with the laundry. Shauna can put the clothes in the washing machine and start it - Staci's not quite tall enough to reach in, so I have her help me remove them from the dryer.
Also, my mom has been super wonderful - she's been my morning chauffeur - she wakes up VERY early so that she can get to my house at 6 am - we try to get the girls dropped off at daycare at 6:30, and then she takes me to the bus stop after that. It makes for a long day for her - by the time she gets back to my house after work, it's 6 pm. Then, she takes me to do other errands. If anyone has some great ideas for a thank you gift for her, suggestions are welcome. My husband has been picking me up after work; and my sister drove me to work the first week. I'm so thankful I have other people willing to drive me, but I am SO looking forward to driving myself again soon. (I used to take that for granted; no more after this).
Also, my dearest, best in the whole world, in-laws, have been sending cards and emails, as well as my sister-in-laws. I do appreciate all of the love and support, and want to say


The second group of people I need to thank is my dear church friends. The first week of my broken foot, a family from church delivered dinner to our house - chicken alfredo, salad, and french bread - delicious! Then, a few weeks later, we went to pick up the girls from daycare, and were delightfully surprised with a full dinner. Sis. Connie, the school principal, who is also our church drummer, had made chicken noodle casserole (so yummy) and Sis. Sullivan, our pastor's wife, had made a home-made apple pie for dessert. There was also a fresh green salad, homemade dinner rolls, and strawberry lemonade.

I think this was THE BEST meal we've eaten since the accident

You ladies are awesome!


I also have a few other dear friends, Amy (another gracious driver), LaNell, Pat, and Jennifer, who have been super supportive as well. And of course, I cannot forget to thank you, my dear blog readers and followers, who have left comments. Thank you all!

P.S. As I was typing this, a dear friend from work, Victoria, told me she brought me some leftover steak and corn-on-the-cob from her barbecue because she knew I didn't have yummy food for the 4th of July. Thank you, too!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Give Them an Inch and They'll Take a Mile

A week or so ago My mom and the girls and I went to Round Table Pizza for their family night. They have the pizza and salad buffet, games, balloons, and face painting. I usually don't allow my girls to get their face painted, but thought - it's summer time, there's only a handful of kids at the daycare, the Round Table employee doing the face painting looked bored as she had no customers - so I figured this could be a small summer treat for the girls. I expected them to have a little flower or heart on a cheek, and that would be that. I let the girls know they could do it AFTER they ate their food. :)

The next thing I know, I look over to where the face painting is happening and can't believe my eyes. Shauna looked like Jezebel! I was completely shocked and actually surprised that the worker did a full face painting without asking me first. However, the thing that really made me angry was the black eyeliner around the eye. She's 7 years old for goodness sake! And Shauna has sensitive skin - I don't see how this could be good for her face. After Shauna was done, I told Staci to just get something small; of course, she wanted to look like her sister, so I said "just the eyes, but not the black liner." You can see from the pictures that she didn't listen.

As soon as this happened, I thought - what a good blog post that would be - it's true what they say - "Give them an inch, and they'll take a mile." It also reminded me of a church sign quote I've read before: "Never give the devil a ride, he always wants to drive."

My pastor is always preaching about how we need to be careful what we do and allow into our lives - it may be something that seems insignificant and small, but it can have profound effects that we can't even begin to fathom.

Have you ever allowed your kids to do something, and then regretted it? Well, I certainly did in this case.

So, what did I do - I said "as soon as we get home, I'm taking your picture, and then we're washing it off - and DON'T go in the house and let Daddy see it." So, what do you think happened the second we pulled into the driveway - Staci jumps out of the car, runs into the house and says "Daddy, look at us!"

Well, Daddy wasn't too happy either - and the faces were immediately washed off. The girls were sad that they couldn't wear their face painting to daycare, but oh well!

I know this really wasn't that huge of a deal (at least I hope so), but it certainly gave me food for thought to be extremely specific the next time they want to do something.

It's also a reminder of the importance of good communication. If I had specifically told them ahead of time = you can get a small heart or flower on your cheek, and that's it - then we could have avoided the entire drama! :)

That's my thought for Friday. May you all have a blessed weekend!


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Baby's A Kindergarten Graduate!

As some of you already know, I got behind on my blogging when I broke my foot the end of May. So, although it's been three weeks since June 2, I wanted to show off my little graduate. Staci is 5 1/2 years old - with her birthday being November 28, she is the youngest person in her class, making the December 2 enrollment cut-off by only 4 days. She is a super bright student who already loves reading and spelling. She likes to say "Is it time for l-u-n-c-h?" and things like that. There's no tricking this child from hearing what you don't want them to hear by spelling the words! :)

Staci and the best kindergarten teacher ever, Mrs. Riddlesperger

Staci, the night of graduation

Staci with our pastor's wife, Sister Sullivan

She is also one of the best readers in her class. Her teacher said that she's always had good readers (my oldest daughter was also a "reader" at her kindergarten graduation), but that Staci has the best expression of any kindergartner she's ever taught (and she's one of the oldest teachers at her school). Each year at Faith Christian Academy, the graduation is an involved performance where each class demonstrates something they've learned through the school year. They start with transitional kindergarten (the 4 year olds) who recite the books of the Bible and read some blends and simple words. The t-K's get their diplomas to graduate to Kindergarten; and then it moves on to the current Kindergarten class. The K class recites a Bible memory verse for each letter of the alphabet, and counts by 2s, 5s, and 10s to 100. Then, two readers are chosen to show how they learned to read in Kindergarten. Staci was the second reader. She only made one little mistake (left off one word at the end of a sentence). I was actually a teeny bit disappointed because Staci thought she would get to read a story that had exclamation points so she could show off her expression, but a different story was chosen for her to read at graduation. So, although she has great expression, you can't tell from this video clip. (side note - YES, I bought a new camera to replace my lost one - and it can record video; this is the first video I ever recorded in my life. HA HA!). After the Kindergartners get their diplomas, the rest of the grades do their performances, then the 8th-grade valedictorian gives their speech, and the 8th graders get their diplomas. All in all, it's about a two-hour long performance. The children always dress nice and do an excellent job. I'm very thankful that my girls have a positive, Christian learning environment!

Here is the video clip of Staci reading (the very end is cut off - I'm sorry; I guess when the clips upload to YouTube, it cuts off a few seconds at the end). Click here to view the video.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More From "Squids Will Be Squids"

Shauna's favorite story in the book is "Horseshoe Crab & Blowfish."
The moral: It takes one to know one.

Staci's favorite story in the book: "Straw & Matches."
The moral: Don't play with matches.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Monday Musing ~ Mrs. Octopus and the Flip Flops

This story was written by my 7-year-old, Shauna, on April 23, 2009 as part of a class assignment. We all thought it was funny, and wanted to share it with you.

Mrs. Octopus and the Flip Flops

One day I saw an octopus in the shoe store.
The octopus was looking for a pair of shoes.
She couldn't decide which ones she wanted.
Suddenly her money started flying everywhere!
Mr. Snail the cashier started saying "I'm rich! I'm rich!" but Mrs. Octopus quickly put it back into her purse.
Finally she decided which shoes she wanted
the pink flip flops.

My husband asked me to type this up and email it to my mother-in-law, but since she reads my blog, I thought I'd go ahead and post it here for your reading pleasure. :) We're pretty sure that the inspiration for the octopus shopper and Mr. Snail as cashier came from the reading of "Squids will be squids." If you haven't read this book, and have school-age children, we recommend it. It has several short stories and they usually have a moral at the end of them.

Here is an excerpt from one of the pages - this story is "Grasshopper Logic":

And you can read a review on Amazon by clicking here

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fabulous Friday! Thank You Jesus and fellow bloggers!

Thank you so much to my fellow bloggers who left encouraging comments regarding a speedy recovery for my broken foot! I am so THANKFUL to Jesus Christ. I was able to do a limited amount of walking last night, and my foot did not throb as it had done before. Also, I slept better than I have since the injury. Thank You, Jesus! God is so good - and we really can have things go so much easier when we maintain a happy, positive, thankful attitude.

I've been having fun "scooting about" on the knee scooter that I rented from Carol at - what a great invention this is! It is SO much easier than using crutches. I've been able to take the bus and light rail train to get to work, and I can carry my lunch bag and shopping bags on the handlebars! By the time my cast gets removed, I won't have any calf muscle in my right leg, but my quads and thighs should be super muscular!

Have a fabulous weekend!


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Update on Me and My Attitude (and a Broken Foot)

Dirt road leading to the trail - I love the beautiful blue sky!
The start of our ride ~ this trail is really neat; over 30 miles long with many different access points

New friends: Sheldon, Alex, Tristian & Katti

Me and my beautiful daughter Shauna. She wasn't too thrilled about being near the river and not able to go into the water (we didn't have any life jackets with us)

Documenting her "first solo ride" on the trail

My sweet Shauna doesn't like her helmet, but hey, it's the law!

Some of you may have been wondering why I've been moody/depressed lately, and why I haven't felt like posting much. Well, it all has to do with MY BROKEN FOOT. That's right. On Saturday, May 30, Shauna and I went to the American River Bike Trail with a family from church. It was a glorious day - perfect weather, good company, a nice little breeze; it was wonderful. This was my first time being on the bike trail in about 3 years, and Shauna's first time riding on the trail, as the last time I went, she was pulled in the bicycle trailer behind me. I was so proud of Shauna! She did not complain about being tired or her legs hurting the entire time we rode - and the most she'd ever ridden before that day was about 1/2 a mile to the school down the street from our house.
We rode about four miles, and were debating amongst ourselves whether or not we should continue on to the Nimbus Fish Hatchery, which would have been about another mile or so east. I joked that I didn't know if I'd have the energy to make it all the way back, and that we'd have to send Alex (the husband in the family from church) back to the truck to come get us. We decided to head back west on the trail. After only about a half-mile into our trek back, I sped up as I approached a hill, and went to pass Alex's seven-year-old son on the left. Unfortunately, his bike wheel decided to turn to the left at the same time, and as our wheels touched, a crash was imminent. I veered my bike to the left so as not to fall on Sheldon, and then fell off on the right side of my bike, my right foot twisted inward, and then my overweight body landed on my foot. I immediately knew it was broken. Since Sheldon was understandably terrified (his left ankle was a little bruised and minorly sprained), I just sat on the bike trail and tried to take deep breaths and keep myself calm. It was just a freak accident; nobody's fault - just something that happened. The funny thing about it is that I was trying to avoid riding close to my own child, as she was a little wobbly. :) Anyway, Alex did end up going back to get the truck. We had to ride about another half-mile to get to the vehicle access lot, so I got back on my bike and pedaled with my left foot. I guess I could have been a DRAMA QUEEN and freaked out myself and called 9-1-1 to have the paramedics come carry me off the trail, but that's just not in my nature. HA HA!
Immediately I was very thankful - because things could have been so much worse. As we were heading east on the trail earlier in the day, there were very many serious cyclers on the trail. However, at the time of our accident, heading west, there was no one on the trail behind us for a good 5 minutes or so. I was also thankful because Alex had a big enough truck that he was able to get us all and then he drove us back to where we had parked, and Katti drove me home while Alex drove my truck home. Then, Alex went to his house and brought me by some crutches so that my husband Matthew could take me to the ER. When we got home around 3, I told Matthew to go ahead and do his errands because it didn't matter if we went to the ER at 3 or at 6 pm, because it always takes forever (like a 3 hour wait) at the ER if you aren't seriously dying. Here I had another reason to be thankful, we were able to get in touch with my mom and my sister, so they watched the girls for us while we went to the hospital. When we got to the ER, there was practically no one there! Kaiser had some sort of fast track process, and we were in and out of the hospital within one hour (x-rays, splint, and everything). I was really amazed and thankful.
I hate to admit this, but unfortunately my thanks did not last very long. I am not a homebody, and I'm a melancholy personality, so being unable to drive has been very taxing and depressing. I am on day 19 of this injury, and although I still have pain and am unable to put weight on my right foot, I'm actually doing okay physically, but not so swell mentally and emotionally.
I think what depressed me the most about this whole situation is the timing of the event (Shauna feels I've ruined her summer plans as I nixed the Disneyland trip for the end of this month and we won't be able to go to a water park any time soon) and the fact that it seems like I'm having a very hard time exercising.
In March I decided it was about time I put some emphasis into working out and losing weight. I went back to Curves after a long absence and went for about 3 weeks. In mid-April, my back went out. The pain was so bad that I went to the chiropractor for the first time in my life, even though I was terrified. This put me out of commission regarding exercise for about one month. I had been feeling great for about one week before the bike ride, and thought what great exercise this would be. I envisioned myself riding weekly and losing a lot of weight. :) Well, so much for that great plan. HA HA!
I know that there is a purpose to everything and I'm trying to maintain a positive attitude. I appreciate all of your prayers in this situation.