Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ministry Kickoff Party: School Theme

This photo is from a birthday party found on Call Me Martha.  She has SUCH cute ideas, and her attention to detail is amazing. . .

We have a great theme for the marriage ministry in which we co-lead this year:  Wisdom!  We will be going through the wisdom books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon.

We hold a huge kickoff party at our first meeting, which is September 13th, and I am helping our activities lead to decorate the room in a school/learning theme.  We know that knowledge and wisdom are different (one is knowing the facts and one is the application of the facts), but we plan on making that distinction clear with a lot of the decor details and Bible verses.

The group is big--we will be decorating for about 250 people, but we have a new, beautiful, window lined room for the year.  I can't wait to see how it all looks.

I want to keep the decor a surprise until the event, but I'm having fun planning.  Have you ever thrown a school themed party?  I'd love any fun ideas or suggestions!  The centerpieces are finalized, but we are still working on the rest.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Desk Pad Project

Chevron Prettiness

My hubby is proud to see my crafting hobby is bringing in a little fun money through my Etsy shop of scripture signs.  What he wasn't excited about was my computer and Silhouette machine always sitting out on the kitchen counter with paints, canvases, brushes and vinyl scraps. 

We decided I needed a little desk space where I can store my computer and Silhouette, so he cleared out a wall in the office and gave me some work space.  He also gave me our laundry room cupboard space for all my paints, crafts and other goodies.  (He also installed a lot of shelves into our garage to hold all my fabrics and craft supplies I only use occasionally). 

So, I went to Cost Plus and bought a simple white desk.  My husband had a black computer pad from work that he wasn't using anymore that he gave to me so I don't scratch my desk.  Awesome--except for the black, water-stained, plain look to it. 


Double ugh.

I finally took myself on a trip to Hobby Lobby for fabric and got some beautiful gray and cream chevron fabric.  I simply hot glued the fabric to the bottom of the pad and covered it tightly on top.  Gorgeous!

Much better!

In progress . . .

Now I need to find a mustard or gray chair with arms for my desk.  Any leads?  We will also get white shutters for the window soon.  It was trash day, so you couldn't see it, but usually our lovely trash cans are stored right outside and you can see the tops of them as you look out--awesome.  The white shutters will finish the window and hide the trash cans outside.  Add a pop of color in sky blue or mustard on the desktop wth a vase or accent piece and voila!  I'll be sure to show you all the final product when everything is done.  It is a blessing to have a workspace that is just for my computer and stuff!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Little Thank You

I LOVE giving little thank yous and unexpected encouragements.  Whether it is daily notes and doodles on my kids' lunch napkins, texts or notes of love to my hubby, or little gifts of thought, it makes me really happy to do those little things.  It not only is a joy to others, but it blesses me tremendously--probably WAY more than them!  Every time I do something like this, I think, "I need to do this MORE often!"  I can get my kids involved with projects too--always looking for a way to teach them gratitude and thoughtfulness to their daddy, their teachers, their Sunday School teachers or their friends.

We are having about 70 leaders over to our house in a couple of days to have dinner and train for our upcoming year of ministry in our church marriage ministry.  These couples do SO much discipling and give up tons of free time to serve in ministry.  I wanted to have cost effective, cute little notes of thanks scattered around the tables at the training.  It is the little things that add up into big things!  A continual attitude of support, thankfulness and encouragement are so helpful when people are volunteering and serving. 

I bought little clear goodie bags at Party City= 50 for 1.99
I got 2 bags of mini Mounds and 2 bags of York Peppermint Patties= about 3.00 each bag
I bought 10 pages of scrapbook paper for .45 cents each
Finally, using my Silhouette (you could easily print a regular Word Doc and use scissors) I cut out the labels.

Do you have anyone that needs a "sweet", little note of thanks?  If you are only giving away a couple, you can use larger clear bags or cut the top off a sandwich bag and use full size candy bars.

Have fun blessing someone!

The assembly line of goodies. . .

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Another Pinterest Recipe Recommendation: Pan Seared, Honey Salmon

This Pinterest recipe SOUNDS much more complicated than it really is.  I almost didn't make it.  In fact, I even put it off for a night because I didn't feel like major cooking the night I had planned to make it.  Big mistake.

This is SUCH an easy recipe from Cooking Classy.  Honestly, besides zesting a couple limes and chopping up one garlic clove, you don't have to do much prep for this recipe.  The rest of the prep is just pouring, shaking and mixing in ingredients as the salmon cooks.

Besides being easy, it is reaaaaally yummy.  I got a large piece of salmon for Ryan and I, and this recipe was so delicious, that we polished it off completely.  I am talking about lick the plate clean. 

Try it.  You won't regret it.  Let me know how much you liked it.  You're welcome.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Greetings from . . . Our Northern California Road Trip

We are taking a late family trip this summer, and we have been driving all around northern California.  We are from south Orange County--about 20 miles inland of Laguna Beach and Dana Point, so we've done all the Southern California spots many times.   Instead of paying for a flight somewhere, we decided to do a road trip north.  We drove almost 12 hours (counting stops) to get up to Redding our first night.

After a night in Redding and temps around 105, we stopped by the Shasta Lake and Dam and walked across the famous Sundial Bridge. 

It was in Redding that we found out the usefulness of the TripAdvisor app on our phones for restaurants in unfamiliar places.  We typed in cheap and casual and found a BBQ place called Fat Daddy's BBQ.  It was GREAT!  We've had several yummy meals on this trip thanks to TripAdvisor app--Renata's Creperie in Arcada, St. John's Grille in Santa Clara, and Pedro's Mexican in Santa Clara.  Add it to your phone before any trips you take!

We then drove from Redding to Arcada and 55 degree temps, which is on the coast and where Humbolt college is located.  It happened to be smack in the middle of the Giant Redwood forests, which is why we visited.  The boys loved the "tree forests" and got squirrel sticks to help with their hikes.  We drove WAY north--10 minutes from Oregon--during our Redwood drives.

After Arcada, we drove to Fort Bragg and stayed on a beachfront hotel.  This allowed us a stopping place and a little beach fun with the boys.  Northern California beaches are beautiful.  I am partial to Southern California beaches for actual swimming and beach days, but the beaches in the north are BREATHTAKING with wild waves and rocky shores.

From Fort Bragg, we drove through the Russian River Valley and Jenner to San Francisco.  We stayed a couple of nights there and did a whirlwind tour of all the top spots with the boys.  Both Ryan and I had been there several times, but it is SUCH a unique, beautiful city.  It was great to introduce it to the boys.

Finally, we drove to Santa Clara to spend a couple days in Great America, a Northern California amusement park, and stop by Santa Cruz.  That is where we are now. 

Here are some top pics from our trip.  I think we already have about 500 pictures!  I can't help myself with all the beautiful things we have seen . . .


Shasta Dam

The Redwoods and the infamous squirrel hiking sticks

Beautiful Northern California coast near Arcata

Founders Tree near Avenue of the Giants

Mini golf with my boys in Fort Bragg--the fog means jackets!

The view from our hotel room in Fort Bragg (morning)
A morning beach walk in Fort Bragg

Splashing in the Russian River Valley

The amazing architecture in San Francisco . . . GORGEOUS

Of course

Trolley ride up the hills of San Fracisco

A very foggy Alcatraz Island in the background

Coit Tower, San Francisco

Chinatown for dinner

The Golden Gate bridge in the morning

The San Francisco Zoo--(and a giraffe above my head)

Great America in Santa Clara

Who has started school already and who is still on vacation?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Fun Bible App for Kids to Memorize Scripture

We are on a roadtrip.  We are on a roadtrip that consisted of 10 hours of driving just the first day.  That isn't counting all the hours we are driving all the days after.  Thank goodness for ipads and iphones.  When I was little, my parents played the alphabet game over and over and we sang along to Kenny Rogers on repeat.  I don't think my boys would go for it.  I did print out some car trip bingo and other family games we can do on the road, but we all know the kids will still want some time with the electronic devices.

In adding some new apps to my iphone, I found a great one.  If your kid is in AWANA or you just want to do fun Bible games with them, look up the app, A Good Word. 

It takes selected verses from the NIV (I know--no ESV--super sad face) and has them catagorized by topic.  When you pick a verse from the list, it gives you a choice of two games . . . hangman or a word search.  It will bring up the verse with words missing, and the player has to either guess them in hangman or find them in the word search.  It is PERFECT for my 1st grader.

AND it's free. 

I know, right?  So add it to your smart device. 

By the way, I used to play "hang spider" with my students when I taught.  It takes almost as long to draw a spider hanging from a web string, and it isn't as morbid.  Feel free to borrow the idea for the class or home.  Have fun!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Basil, Roasted Red Pepper, and Mozzarella Chicken

This is another Pinterest recipe.  How did I meal plan before Pinterest?  It really does make it easy!

The original recipe can be found at Right At Home.  The recipe was straightforward and easy to understand.

I like the idea of this dish because it is fresh, easy and fairly healthy.  I didn't use lowfat cheese, but that would help those of you who are doing low fat diets.

Preheat your oven to 375.

First I pounded my chicken breasts flat in a gallon Ziploc bag.

I roasted a red pepper over my gas stove until I got that nice charred skin.

I sliced the red pepper and got ready to assemble.

Take each chicken breast (recipe calls for 4, but I had 3) and lay 3 big basil leaves down.

Lay slices of the roasted red pepper on the basil.

Put about a tablespoon of shredded mozzarella cheese on top of the peppers.

Roll up chicken, place seam side down, and toothpick in place.

Top with plain tomato sauce  (about a cup and a half) and a sprinkle of oregano.

Cook for 30 minutes.

Add mozzarella cheese on the top and cook or broil 5 minutes more.

Remove toothpicks and enjoy!

Our family enjoyed this dish.  It was fresh and light for summer, yet it had a lot of flavor.  I will definitely make it again!

Friday, August 3, 2012

God's Sovereignty and My Kid's Class Placement

This morning I was reading that famous verse in I Samuel 16:7 " But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.'"

The context of this verse is that Samuel, the prophet, is looking for God's annointed king of Israel in the family of Jesse.  God has sent him there to annoint the next king.  Samuel looks with hope at the taller, older, impressive looking brothers, but God tells him to keep looking.  He finally gets to David, the young, ruddy, unimpressive "youth" of the family.  He is the one God has chosen.  He was to be a man after God's own heart.  He was God's annointed who would lead Israel.

There are many eternal truths in this passage:  We need to care more about our holiness and sanctification than our physical appearance or popularity.  We need to look more closely at Christians in light of their character, not their outward trendiness or popularity.  We need to seek God's will in matters, and not make judgments on what appears to be by society's standards or our limited assumptions.

The last point is a hard one, but it is one that has been on my mind as the beginning of the school year looms. 

In our nearby school districts, parents are asked not to make teacher requests and each grade level in the public schools has multiple classrooms.

Every year I am tempted to be anxious about my son's teacher placement.  Who will be his teacher?  Who will he have in his class?  The temptation is to worry, worry, worry.  Right away, I always realize it is a perfect example of God asking me to trust Him.  I see the outward "appearance" of the situation, but God knows all the angles and ramifications. 

God loves me and my son, and His sovereign plan will put my son in the class where he needs to be--especially if I take the time to PRAY about it.  He might not have the popular, "fun", demonstrative teacher.  He might have the almost all girl class (last year), but there is a reason.  God isn't concerned with the parents' views or gossip concerning the teacher.  He sees the whole picture and puts my son exactly where he needs to be for God's will and plan to unfold in his life.

This doesn't mean I am inactive.  If there were a big issue, of course, God wants me to use my wisdom and step in to speak up for my son.  However, such an instance is going to be few and far between with class placement.  I need to make sure it is a valid reason for intervening and not just a preference or opinion.

I was a teacher for nine years.  I am not ignorant that each grade level has a favorite teacher or teachers.  I am also not ignorant that certain personalities don't always click.  One of my favorite students might have a teacher the next year who doesn't find his humor charming or her artistic doodling on everything a blooming gift.  I might get a student that was cherished the year before and who I find disruptive.  Teachers do their best and try to love every child, but there will be challenges with 30 personalities in the room.  We are all different.  There is no perfect teacher for every student, just as there is no perfect student.

So, as a parent, I need to let go of the gossip and popularity contest concerning the teachers.  When I get my son's class assignment, I need to trust God has sovereignly and lovingly placed him under that teacher's care for the year ahead.  It might be to grow him academically, it might be to have him make a certain friendship, it might be to teach him self control in a less "creative" classroom environment, it might be to PROTECT him from a bad influence in another class, it might be to grow my trust and patience, it might be so our family can minister to that teacher during a difficult year.  We don't know.  But we are called to trust.

We are also to realize no school year will be perfect.  All teachers have bad days.  All kids misbehave sometimes.  All classrooms will have some behavior issues.  All teachers have strengths and weaknesses.  Be humble.  Be realistic.  Be dependent on God for strength to traverse the year with righteousness.

So, Christian women, as the school year begins and we all go find out our child's teacher, don't fret or worry about being in the "right" class.  Pray about it ahead of time.  Ask God to put your child in the right class--one that lines up with God's will, not the chitter chatter of the PTA moms.  Don't let the gossip or feedback from other parents get you down.  Smile and thank God for caring about every detail--right down to the teacher your child will have.  Then go meet your teacher and tell him or her that you are thankful God assigned them to your child for the year ahead.

Philippians 4:6-7  "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

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