It’s Nearly Time to Hunker-Down

We are in hunkering down mode. 

This is an official and technical Texas hurricane term for hiding your entire family in the laundry room with a mattress over your head.
Because we are prepared like that.
We are in the path of Hurricane Ike (although not in a mandatory evacuation area and were told to stay put, so Galveston residents could get out) and the weatherpeople are predicting some very fierce winds, tornadoes and all matters of scary weather.  They are also saying possible power outages for up to two weeks. 
And, sad to say, I thought of my blog. 
But only after I panicked and stood in line for an hour at the packed grocery store with my toddler. I got lots of chocolate, a new book to read and nail polish. I’m all about survival.  We made it through the long lines by eating halloween candy from an unpaid for bag.
Because we are prepared like that.

I spent yesterday making some homemade ice cubes because the store was out. 
And people think I can’t cook.  Ha!
My hubby worked on tying things down outside.
And my son? He helped.
Yes, that is a vine he is tying to our overturned patio table.
After I explained the reality of Hurricane Ike, this is where I found him:
Perhaps, I should have left out the google search.
So, I have a few posts on auto-schedule, but if you don’t hear from me after Monday, send your prayers and electrical currents this way.  We’re going to need them.
I’ll be twittering until we lose power.  
Be safe.

And They Say Money Can’t Buy Happiness

My son bought this enormous baseball trophy at a garage sale for $1.00.
It is proudly displayed on his messy dresser.
When I asked him, “Why?  Why do you want to buy this with your allowance?”
He said, “Mom, it’s so much easier than trying to earn one.”
That’s my frugal, corner-cutting boy. It makes a Mom proud, ya know?

Sincerely ‘Fro Me to You-If Darth Vader was Their Father

*UPDATED TO ADD* I forgot to mention that you don’t want to miss next week’s ‘Fro Me To You because I have an AMAZING giveaway from the blessed 80’s.  I’m SO excited about it.  And it’s just for linky participants, so your odds are very good!
Thanks for joining me today!  Some call this a circus, others call it being thrown under a bus, I call it home (a.k.a. Sincerely ‘Fro Me to You.) Read guidelines for joining here.
A year ago, we visited California on a family vacation.  We visited the beautiful beaches and the streets of Rodeo Drive. We also visited Disneyland.
And although I have dozens of ‘Mickey and me’ photos, there is one that I hold dear.  This framed picture graces both of my children’s dressers. Because I don’t want them ever to forget—–how they would look if they had been born to Darth Vader:

While I held our baby, my hubby and older kids stood in a long line to to ride the Star Wars ride.  Santa brought all six movies a couple of years ago and so you could say there are some avid Star Wars fans in our home.

I waited in the gift shop since the ride emptied there (very clever marketing).  I couldn’t help but watch people line up behind the camera with the blue screen in the background to see what they would look like as Star Wars characters.  It was so fun.
So, of course, my kids wanted to give it a shot.
You don’t even want to know how much we paid for those little souvenirs!
But as you can see, it was really priceless. And I think my Princess Lea and Luke Skywalker are better than the originals!

Grace-Based Parenting Tip & Giveaway!

*Update* Congrats to Tara. I will email you!

A key element for raising great kids is establishing an atmosphere of grace in your home.
What is the atmosphere in your home?  Is it cold, harsh, rule-oriented?  Or is it wild, rule-free and chaotic? Grace-based parenting is the balance between grace and truth. 
I’ll just give you a little hint about last night’s atmosphere in our home:  it starts with ‘un- and ends with- ruly’.
A grace-based home creates an atmosphere that allows kids the freedom to be different, vulnerable, candid and to make mistakes (Dr. Tim Kimmel elaborates on each of these points in his book, Grace Based Parenting).
I heard Dr. Kimmel share the following story at Family Camp in describing vulnerability.  It really moved me:

“KIMMEL, TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES, leave on your socks, climb up on the trampoline, and follow my instructions,” the coach instructed the 9th grade boy.

He quickly untied his shoes and climbed onto the trampoline for the demonstration.  As he did, he noticed holes in both of his socks.  It wasn’t a big deal until a classmate yelled, “Check out the holes in Kimmel’s socks! Hey, you want to borrow a pair of mine? I’ve got plenty. Or maybe we should take up a collection after class!”

“Knock it off!” the coach commanded, but the damage had already been done. The guys had a good laugh, and they continued to have a good laugh even after the coach told them to be quiet.

Tim Kimmel couldn’t concentrate the rest of the class.  All he could think about was mending every sock he had as soon as he got home. The teasing had drawn attention to his family’s economic status.  “We were a family on the lowest rung of the middle class…”

When class was over, the PE teacher dismissed the kids and Tim put his shoes back on.  On his way out, the PE teacher called his name.  “Tim, I wanted to tell you why I called on you to do that demonstration in class today. It’s because I think you’re the most agile student in my class.”  Then he untied one of his shoes and pulled it off, to reveal two of his toes poking thru a large hole.  “Us agile guys are tough on socks!”

As Tim walked away, he found a dictionary and looked up the word agile:  “moves with speed, ease, elegance and liveliness; mentally alert and quick-witted.” 

This changed his life. (He wondered if the coach had acutally cut those holes in his socks to show him it was okay to be vulnerable).

Grace-Based parenting says we need to give our children the freedom to be different.  They need the freedom to be vulnerable and we need to extend grace to them when they are vulnerable. Our children need the freedom to be candid and the liberty to make mistakes.

I love this quote from the book:  

You have been singled out to do a favor for God. He is asking you to be His representative to a small but vital part of the next generation. He needs someone to be His voice, His arms, and His heart. 
He chose you.

We are learning what this looks like in our home.  Allowing our kids to be more candid in sharing their hearts (without being disrespectful) was the first step we made.  I’m also trying not to fix all my kids problems by letting them learn from their mistakes.  (T
his is much harder for me then for them).
Letting my daughter be herself by not controlling her appearance is not easy for me. (I’m thinking her teachers were wondering about her hair choices this morning). But I’m learning that she has unique style and just because it’s different than what I would choose, doesn’t make it wrong. 
And when we see them struggling with school issues or things at home (like the nearly daily after-school meltdowns we’ve been experiencing), we try to remember their need for vulnerability and even attempt to make ourselves vulnerable by sharing our own struggles.
Most of all, we are still learning what a grace-based home looks like!
Today, I’m giving away the audio CD entitled, “Grace Based Parenting.”  If you’d like to have it, please leave a comment. I will choose a winner by 10 pm (CST) Wednesday night.
For other great tips, visit Works for Me Wednesday.

How the Persecuted Church has Changed Me-Part 4

Last week we hung curtains together, laughed over homemade pizza, visited a church clothing-ministry, swam in my parent’s pool and chatted on the phone.

My life has become slowly intertwined with those from The Persecuted Church. It is an adventurous road I never dreamed my family would travel. 

And yet every cell within me knows that this is right.
There are only a handful of decisions in my life that I knew were right, were my destiny, the moment I made them:  going to Bible College instead of a traditional university, marrying my hubby, moving back to Texas, and befriending Russian refugees from The Persecuted Church.
It is in my nature to fix problems.  I work my to-do list like a pro.  I made a mental list of this family’s needs and have determined to tackle them. The Church is more than just a building, it’s made up of ordinary people like me and I can’t wait around for others to act.  And many of you are helping…
And while my hubby and I feel compelled by God to help them, this persecuted family is changing me. 
When we moved into our current house three years ago, we moved from a very small rented townhome a few miles down the road.  That simple townhome was a step up from our deteriorating dwelling in Florida.
Our current home is nice.  I think it is beautiful and adequate and a gift from God. But in my town, it is considered a starter home.  Many people in this area live in houses 2-3 times the size.
It’s funny how quickly you forget how far you’ve come.  In the past, when friends have visited, there have been moments where I’ve wished for a grander home.
The other day, Katerina was stopping by for a visit, for the first time.
And I was actually tempted to un-decorate my home. Because suddenly, I saw it thru her eyes.
My eyes were drawn to all my fussy, unecessary decorations.  I felt guilty thinking of her beautiful, but sparsely decorated home.  When I opened my closet full of clothes, I couldn’t help but remember her one pair of shoes and 3 or 4 shirts.
We are supporting this family monthly and helping with some of their more urgent needs. (And on Friday, I met her at a Kid’s Resale Clothing Sale and gave her the $125.00 from your Paypal donations! A little more has come in since then and I’ll give it to them this week).
But I’m struggling with balancing who I am and what I have with what I see in them.
When I look at this couple and their young children, I see one thing.
I see Jesus.
It’s that simple.  It’s that profound.
I can’t explain it any other way.  We’ve sat around for hours listening to how they risked their lives to smuggle 500 Russian Bibles across armed checkpoints in Uzbekistan.  I’ve listened in awe as they shared that the bed they are now sleeping in, is the first real bed they have had in their 5 years of marriage.  
God is changing me.  I still love home decor and I know I can’t change who I am and what I love. But my perspective is changing.  My wants and my needs are more defined. 
God is reminding me that my clothes dryer breaking this week and our sprinkler system coupled with a lower-than-expected paycheck aren’t insurmountable problems.  I’m learning to let go of my tight-fisted grip on our bank account and I’m seeing my life through new perspective. I’ve been reminded that I have more than enough.
And what I don’t have? Well, if I follow Igor and Katerina’s lead, I don’t have to worry about it. Because every time I see them, they weave these words into the conversation:  “Our hope is in Jesus.”   
And I think that’s one reason they don’t feel needy, they feel blessed.
Because He is enough.
Just yesterday, my daughter and I were talking about The Persecuted Church and she summed up how I feel:  “I’m glad Jesus chose us to help them.”  But we both know, they aren’t the only ones being helped.
If you’d like to help them too, please click below.

*UPDATE* $230.00 has come in TODAY! Plus many of the things are being scratched off the list below.  I’m going to speak with them about registering at a store…will let y’all know!

Thank you so much if you’re able to give, if not, your prayers are just as valuable!

I asked them to share their prayer requests with us:

1) Pray that we can go forward for new victories in Christ and never live by our victories from past. 
2) Pray that Holy Spirit will guide us every day toward accomplishment of God’s vision like in time of Paul. 
3) Pray that God will protect us from evil people and bad things. 
4) Pray for success in ministry of Revival Sport and Treasure House. 

Some of their personal needs:
(They attached this note, “I will write a list of things, but of course we can live without them”)

1) big rug for living room
2) the sets of spoon, forks, tea spoons and knifes.
3) scale
4) clothes for children for fall-winter season. (2T, boys, 4T, girls)
5) adults shoes (man -8,5 women -6,5 size) for fall – winter season. 
6) vacuum cleaner
7) tools to fix car or other stuff
8) lawn mower
9) shovel
10) office chair
11) 2 bar stools
12) Adult ladies bike
13) Weed eater
14) Home decor

I’m Unworthy

This was sitting on my bed when I got home. 

I seriously don’t think I deserve my man, y’all.  
He bought lovely coordinating pieces from my favorite store, in the correct size and on clearance! (Nothing in that bag was over $6.97).
I am unworthy.
And I am in trouble.  My hubby’s birthday is in about a week and a half. And I need help!
I really want to knock his socks off with a creative, affordable gift.
Got any ideas?

THAT Family Tree Society-Issue 8

THAT family photo of the week:

The Week in Review: My toddler found the sprinkler that was trying to save a parched piece of grass in our backyard. She lost her clothes somewhere along the way.  It’s been an exciting week at our house:  a broken clothes dryer, a broken sprinkler system, two doctor visits and an ant infestation.  I’m looking for the partridge in a pear tree.

I’d like you all to help me welcome Crystal of Life At the Circus to our sweet Society.  Crystal submitted this post as proof of her family tree, “What’s up Doc?”

1. Tell us a little about your blog: 

I am Crystal and my blog name is Life At The Circus.   My roles as wife, homemaker and mother of 3 feel much like a circus with 3 rings constantly vying for my attention. 

I blog for many reasons.  The main reason is because I desire to keep my life very real.  I want people to see me for what I am, a wife and mommy saved by God’s grace and desiring to glorify Him with her life.  I do not have it all together nor do I want people to think I do.  On most nights my sink is full of dirty dishes and our laundry is typically sitting in the basket not folded and put away.  Blogging has provided me with an outlet I didn’t know I needed.  I greatly enjoy writing about the humor I find in our everyday life and am ecstatic when someone cares enough to read about this chaos.  I enjoy reading and responding to the friends I have made in the great big “blogosphere.” 

2. How long have you been blogging? 

I have been blogging since March 31, 2008.   

3. How would you define THAT family?

THAT family is the family that people stare at when you are out in public, the ones who don’t have it all together, the ones who make me sigh with relief and say, “Whew, it’s not just me.”  

4. When did you discover you were a part of THAT family?

I first realized I was a part of THAT family in October of 07 when we took our three kids on a cross country flight and camping trip in Ca.  As we waited in line in security with our then 3 mth old, 18 mth old, and 3 and 1/2 year old, I saw the looks on the people’s faces in line… the ones that said, “please let them NOT be on my plane!”   Then when we boarded the plane and my baby had a blow out poop and my husband sat in the aisle changing her diaper while the nice lady beside him handed him baby wipes… it started to sink in a little more.  Later when we arrived at the airport with my naked child (b/c of course I didn’t bring any spare clothes on my flight) and we sat in the baggage claim office filling out the paper work for our car seat that did not arrive in CA and I changed my baby on the floor of the office while my other two children ran around me in circles singing at the top of their lungs, it REALLY sank in.  Oh my, I thought “we are THAT family.” 

5. Where can we find your blog?

You can find my blog at