Friday, August 28, 2009

Chicken Fingers, Mac & Cheese

I’m going on a date with my husband tonight. I get so jazzed when we actually go out to a restaurant, and I can enjoy conversation with my Larry without having to subdue my Luke every five minutes. Seriously, the restaurants have a good idea going with the crayons and fun place-mat drawing…..but it doesn’t last longer than 7.5 minutes. I’m hoping this is the standard attention span for a three year old and not an indication of early on-set ADD. Oh the horror….one person in the family is enough.

But I digress.

His favorite bedtime story lately is a book I picked up last year, called Why do you Always Have to Say Please? This book one of the cheesiest books I have ever read. It makes many desperate, far-fetched attempts to rhyme; for example:

“Don’t throw food because it could get messy;
If you are in a restaurant, you could hit someone’s Aunt Tessy.”

How dumb is that?

But, Luke loves it. He especially likes it when his Daddy reads it to him because Larry has a way of making books more enjoyable. Mommy is the serious reader; Daddy reads to make it funny. And depending on Luke’s mood, he’ll let us know whose turn it is to read.
But back to this silly book: it’s a book where these two kids are dining at a restaurant with their parents, and its purpose is to teach “restaurant manners.” I have to say that it must be soaking in because last night we went to dinner with friends, and not one time did he squirrel out of his seat. He must have remembered:

“No whining when dining,
And remember where to keep your hiney.”

Why did I buy this book? Did I just like the title? Who knows…..but if it keeps Luke in his seat, it was worth the $4.99.

That’s it for Friday, friends. I’m ready for my date tonight!

Until next week, remember, “Chicken Fingers, Mac & Cheese, never forget that it’s nice to say ‘please’.”
Bookmark and Share

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Give me some WISDOM

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” ~James 3:17 NIV

I have been thinking often about wisdom lately. What is it? How do I truly live wisely? Do I just need to memorize proverbs…..or is it more than that?

Wisdom is that piece of character that resides outside of the emotions. As a woman – I am so prone to fly by the seat of my pants……constantly directed by my feelings. I can use me some wisdom: not only in teaching my child how to love or in living frugally, but also in my work life. I am a manager for goodness’ sake, and I cannot make business decisions based on how I feel! Because more often than not – I don’t like my employees. That’s horrible to say. I try so much to love them and be a joy in their lives……but that isn’t always how it stacks up. However, regardless of how I “feel” about them personally, I cannot make decisions for their career based on my emotional status. I NEED WISDOM.

And you want to know something ironic? Larry and I have been asked to teach a Sunday school class at our church for recent college graduates. After praying about the direction to take the class, wisdom has repeatedly raised its hand. Funny how the Lord lays something on your heart that you need to work on……….and then calls you to teach it so that you really have to study it. Thank God He is always purposeful in my life. He knows what I need and He makes sure I find a way to get it.

So Lord, here I come. You told me to ask you for wisdom; and when I ask, You have promised to pour it out freely.

If any of you have ever done a great study on wisdom that truly impacted you………..or have any ideas for a study……….leave a comment for me.
Bookmark and Share

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Trying Times of Toddlerhood

Give me a break! Please, sweet Jesus, just HELP me here!!
All weekend long, I have been struggling (yes, struggling to the uttermost definition of the word) with my sweet Luke.

He has attitude! And when I say "attitude", I'm not talking about a calm, precious, peaceful personality. Certainly not the kind Paul talked about when he told us our "...attitude should be that of Christ Jesus," Phil 2:2-4

Luke's attitude of late is one of defiance. stubbornness. ugliness. Anything BUT lovely.
And I, as his mother, have also failed to exhibit the patience the Bible calls me to have.

Why must he press me to the limits? Why does he act like a rebellious teenager when he hasn't even had his fourth birthday? I'm happy for the Amazon buy-with-one-click, because James Dobson's The Strong-Willed Child was purchased earlier today during the midst of a Luke Dalke Meltdown.

I want to be a good mother (as we all do).....and I somehow had this notion that motherhood is all pony-ride birthdays and playground bliss. Until, I heard my own mother's voice come out of my mouth two days ago as we were driving to the grocery store. The aforementioned strong-willed child was doing his thing in the backseat......throwing a fit that should have been filmed and submitted to the actor's guild. It was definitely one for the Oscars.

Anyhow, I pulled to the side of the road and my mother said, "Luke Philip Dalke, I will pull this car over, and I will wear your tail out and it will hurt." Except - it wasn't my was ME. I said it. I did one of those "things" I swore I would never do as a mother.
And there went the dream of being the perfect mom. Out the window with my sanity.

Now I have realized that there is no such thing: No One has attained the crown of "Perfect Mother". And thank goodness! Because then my competitive nature would surely drive me over the edge to beat her record.

Thank God for GRACE. I am now convinced that there is more grace for mothers than there is for everyone else. There just has to be based on the law of physics.....or something like that.....because we NEED it desperately. All moms blow it. Every woman who has given birth to an innocent, lovable infant who has then turned into a toddler has thrown her hands up in exasperation.

And so now, after (1) a dinner where there were burps with no "excuse me's", (2) where there were two legs that kept finding there way out of their chair, and (3) where there was an ugly "I don't have to" attitude - - we are sitting in the living room watching the movie Cars. Both of us have a chance to redeem ourselves, and as I look down at this once again sweet little boy......I know that I wouldn't change him for the world.

And there will be more weekends like can just ask my mom.

Dear Mom,
Wow. You had THREE of us. I'm so sorry.....but I get it now. I promise that I have more love and respect for you than ever. I know you just always wanted to be the perfect mom. And you know what? You did the best you could with what you had to work with!
I love you,
Bookmark and Share

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Faves....

I'm joining Missy at "It's Almost Naptime" in posting my Friday Faves.

This weeks' topic is "What is your favorite music that you listen to in your car?"

I spend an inordinate amount of time in the car (driving to and from work), so I have either my iPod, a CD, or the radio going at all times.

My recent go-to music in the car is Christy Nockels' Life Light Up album. The entire cd is awesome (or in the words of a teenager, epic). The lyrics that "light me up" are:

I may live and I may die

Either way You're glorified

Bless the day I give my life away!

My "other" greatest-favorite in the car is Travis Cottrell's Jesus Saves Live.....Mercy Seat....enough said.

Luke's favorite is Seeds Family Worship. This is scripture based music that actually helps you (and your child!!) memorize verses! I love it because Luke is listening to the Word of God in the car....and he'll tell me to play it over and over. So literally, while we are driving, seeds of the WORD are planted into his mind. I highly recommend this to anyone with children. And Missy, I was turned on to this by reading a post you had written about it several months ago.
Thank you for the suggestion!

Lastly, Larry's favorite drive-time listening is talk radio.....and occasionally the classic rock station. :)

Pop over to Missy's site for links to other Friday Faves: It's Almost Naptime!
Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Scene in my kitchen on Sunday afternoon:

*One toddler size 9 shoe on the floor (who knows where its mate was)
*3/4 of a Transformer toy near the island
*One cap gun on the bottom shelf of the baker's rack
*6 crayons scattered around the breakfast bar
*1 very loved dog toy resting next to the back door

Everything was out of place except for the partridge in a pear tree.....and that's only because we don't have either.
Just shy of being anal retentive about organization, I like my house to be clean and put-together.
Clutter does not lend itself to my sanity. Suffice it to say that with a 3 1/2 year old boy and a 16 year old girl at home, I am insane at least 42% of the time.

Every other Wednesday when I come home from work, I breathe in the smell of clean Fabulosa floors and Windexed mirrors. These are the days a sweet lady cleans my house. Oh such days should come around more often, but that would cost more so I deal with it.

As I was surveying the madness that was my kitchen, I decided to just clean it up on my own instead of waste my breath trying to teach Luke a life-lesson about picking up after yourself. As I knelt down in disgust at the disarray, the thought struck me that my soul gets cluttered just like my house.

*Bad attitude in the long check-out line ("hurry-uuuPP muttered under my breath)
*A sharp tongue unleashed out of frustration at an innocently energetic 3 year old
*Ugly words spoken about an imperfect boss (by an imperfect employee)
*Selfishness in wanting what is mine to remain mine
*Fear of "what will happen" if I obey God in a certain matter

This is just a sample of the clutter that piles up in my heart like dirty laundry.

My soul needs to be de-cluttered every single day. A twice a month house cleaning by a hired service just won't be sufficient. Bringing my heart to the Lord daily and truly listening (that's my issue) to what He's telling me to weed out is a necessity. Otherwise pride and greed can build up and erode our intimacy.

Ephesians 5:26 says, " make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,"
A scholar could go several different directions with this, but one thing is clear to me: my spiritual house is cleansed by drenching myself in the Word of God.

Oh that we would all be as diligently clutter-free with our souls as we are with our physical homes. Well, unless you are the aforementioned 16 year old girl.....and you could use some (encouragement?) in being more concerned about the cleanliness of the physical, too.

I want that Wednesday-afternoon-clean-house happiness to be experienced in my "spiritual house" daily.

Thank You, Jesus for the power in Your blood shed on the cross for me. I am hopeless and helpless without You as my cleansing agent.
Bookmark and Share

Monday, August 17, 2009

Scripture Memory Verse 16

"Do not let kindness and truth leave you;

Bind them around your neck,

Write them on the tablet of your heart."

Proverbs 3:3 NIV

I have just completed Week One in Jennifer Rothschild's Me, Myself, & Lies bible study, and I have been blown away to recognize where my mind spends most of its time. My thought closet is jammed full of fears and worries and generally negative thinking. Wow, I don't even like to admit that. But thank God, He has opened my eyes to this so that He can transform my mind by the power of His WORD. I don't think it's ironic that a couple of months ago, I posted about my mental rat-race.

Jennifer said at one point in the first week that "....worry filled meditation never leads to liberty. It turns your thought closet into a prison filled with life-choking weeds..."

My 16th verse for 2009 is Proverbs 3:3 because I need to plant that truth where the yuck has been.

Christ is grace and truth, and He is my standard.....

Bookmark and Share

Friday, August 14, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things.....

It's Friday, so I'm naturally thinking happy thoughts. Since I'm thinking such happy thoughts, I decided to post about things that make me happy!

Here is my Top Ten (keep in mind that these change at a moment's notice, depending on what mood I'm in; what time of the month it is; or whether or not my child just decided to color the carpet in his bedroom.)

In typical David Letterman backwards countdown style:

(10) Books. I love to read. And Karen Kingsbury is my all-time favorite Christian fiction author. I love how her characters become my own family (I'm not joking, I totally feel as though the Baxter's are my cousins). Every time I read one of her books, I sense my own relationship with the Lord growing deeper.....and that's pretty powerful y'all.

(9) Coffee (I particularly like the kind from convenience stores). Here is my recipe, tried and tested each morning for the past three years:

  • 20 oz. cup

  • 3 sweet-n-lows (or splenda)

  • 1 french vanilla creamer

  • Mix the creamer with the 3 sweeteners

  • pour roughly 3/4 a cup of coffee

  • top with the machine-made cappucino

This is a no-fail recipe for a DELICIOUS cup of coffee. If, however, you are driving on Hwy 69 in southeastern Oklahoma - - you are probably better off grabbing a McCafe at the nearest McDonalds.

(8) Maxi Dresses - although I have lusted after these in windows and catalogs all summer, I finally bought one for myself last weekend. It's literally the most comfortable thing I have ever worn.

(7) Plato's Closet - brand-name-gently-used clothing. I'm not much for buying tanks or t-shirts or shoes at resale shops.....but this place has been a wonderous discovery for my personal jeans selection. I have purchased Citizens of Humanity, Seven for all Mankind, and Joe's Jeans at very low prices (the most I have paid for one pair is $35).

(6) Lessons I learned in the Dark - by Jennifer Rothschild - I heard Jennifer speak at She Speaks, and she is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. She has such a beautiful faith, and her love for Jesus is written all over her face. I started reading this book on an airplane last weekend. Her words and encouragement just drove me to the feet of Jesus....right there in row 8C.

(5) Weekend morning breakfasts with my husband. There are fewer things I enjoy more than a)my husband and b) peanut butter and jelly toast.

(4) Jillian Michael's 30-day-Shred - those who know me, know that I really-really-really-really love to exercise. And this, my friends, is the work-out DVD of the year for me. To quote Miss Jillian, "you don't have to spend hours phoning it in at the gym..." I have sincerely seen a difference in my body after using this.

(3) Scentsy! Okay - I may be a little bias because I sell this stuff. But it's awesome! Scentsy is a line of wickless candles, where highly scented wax is melted by a 25-watt bulb in a decorative warmer. Sound confusing? Check out my website: There are over 80 scents and 50 warmers to choose from. There are also plug-in warmers that fit perfectly in bathrooms or hallways. I actually keep one plugged in 24/7 in my son's room....because it not only makes it smell better, it is his night-light!

(2) Stella & Dot jewelry - My friend Kimberly just started her own business, and oh-my-gosh, this jewelry rocks! It's very reasonably priced....and what's not to like about jewelry that is sported by everyone from Paris Hilton to the Bachelorette Jillian??

(1) My FAMILY.

My family makes me so happy. They make me laugh, they make me cry, and I am humbled when I step back and think about how much God has graced me with these.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

That's just UG-ly

I haven't posted in five (six?) days because someone chewed my laptop power cord. That certain someone will not claim the blame....primarily because they cannot talk. I initially blamed Kathryn, my 16 year old stepdaughter for the incident; but then I realized she doesn't have a habit of chewing on power cords. So, it must have been the cat.

We just got back yesterday from a wonderful mini-vacation to Los Angeles. When I say "mini", I really mean 3.5 quick-not-long-enough days.

Larry and I took Alex, Kathryn, and Luke to Los Angeles to spend time with Lauren; and we squeezed every drop out of those few days. Disney Land, Venice Beach, shopping on Melrose Avenue and shopping at the Grove were just a sample of our adventures.

Luke just totally turns his show on when he's around his brother and sisters. This 3 and a half year old child evolves into a comedian when he has an audience. He even said "your mudder" (translation: your mother) to Alex in the perfect context when Alex was teasing him. Not that I am pleased that he is so quick with such an inappropriate retort, but it was pretty funny. Much of Luke's comedic behavior is a product of staying home this summer with his big sister, Kathryn, instead of going to Miss Dorothy's as he normally would. I am reasonably sure that Dorothy does not hold Michael Jackson video viewing parties or teach the kids rap songs off of her iPod. I'm just praying that when someone at pre-school takes away one of his crayons, he won't start talking about their mom.

So back to my original point for this post (which, I never started telling...!).

I had to discipline Luke several times during our trip for his ugly mouth and/or snotty behavior. He would back-talk me and just blatantly do things he knew were not acceptable. He even picked a burger (translation: booger) and put it in Kathryn's purse! Gross!

I felt like a parrot constantly repeating, "Luke, that's ugly; we don't act that way." I swear I said it twenty times in a half hour period.

I was lying in bed on Saturday night, praying before I went to sleep. In the midst of confessing a situation(s) where I responded to Larry with a bad attitude, I was reminded of my words.....only this time it sounded like, "Oh Amy, that was Ug-ly." It struck me that God would use the same words that I had spoken to my child - to convict me of an ugly attitude. Is He not the perfect parent, though?

It blows my mind that my love for Luke doesn't even come close to God's love for me! My finite mind just cannot take it all in. I am praying today that God will help me to know His love that surpasses knowledge, that I may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19)

And Lord, help me not to act ugly (especially because I have a precocious child with a sponge-like mind, who repeats everything he hears...)


Bookmark and Share

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Waking up Late Messes with my Head

I woke up late today.

Too late to have my "quiet time"....and so late that I didn't have time to dry my hair before leaving the house.

My sweet Larry doesn't fare well on those days that I hit snooze, because I generally treat him like it's his fault. For example, today, my coffee didn't taste right (his fault); his attempts at humor were met with an annoyed eye roll; and each time he tried to make me laugh, I acted like "that was the dumbest thing I have ever heard".

Ewww.....when I don't spend quality time refreshing my mind in the Word FIRST thing in the morning, I am yucky.

On the way to work (we rode together this morning), I read Lysa Terkeurst's Proverbs 31 devotional aloud. The basic point was that we should allow the peace of Christ to rule our hearts - - and in doing this, we must make the choice to overcome petty aggravations and disappointments. I love the statement she used, "If this is the worst thing that happens to me today, it's still a pretty good day."

After I finished reading the devotional, Larry grinned at me and told me that I could just dust myself off and say, "If bad tasting coffee is the worst thing that can happen to me today...then it is still a pretty good day".

I had to smile; and when I dropped him off, I drove through Starbucks. :)

Colossians 3:15-17, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (NIV)
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What is in a Brand Name?

I have always loved brand names.

From the time I was in third grade and all my friends wore Keds, I have been aware of the power of wearing a "name".
My mom didn't want to spend the $25 on real Keds - so instead I wore the Payless version, which didn't have a blue tag on the back. This made my eight year old heart feel a bit "less than" the cool kids.

In fourth and fifth grade, everyone wore Guess jeans and Espirit outfits - also something I never owned. And oh, the conflict this created between my mom and me! Still, the underlying issue was that I wasn't secure enough in my own name to hold my head high in my JCPenney clothes.

I still love a designer name on my clothes. From Ralph Lauren to Juicy Couture, I love the confidence booster and status I feel when I wear them.....and don't even get me started on purses and handbags.
The name lust doesn't stop at clothes; I love to dress my home in Williams & Sonoma and Crate & Barrel.

What is up with this?

Not only is this an issue of insecurity, I think it's an identity crisis. See, I have concluded that my love for all things brand name is rooted in the desire to belong.....or to be accepted. By adorning my body, shoulders, or living room with a "name", I am letting people know I belong to the Cool Club.

In Isaiah 44:5, the Lord says, "Some will proudly claim, 'I belong to the Lord.' Others will say, 'I am a descendant of Jacob.' Some will write the Lord's name on their hands and will take the honored name of Israel as their own." (NLT)

This verse got me thinking about my name brand issue....and I plan to dive further into this topic because the very next verse starts the discussion of manufactured idols. Hmm....
It's not that I consciously bow down to Seven for all Mankind jeans, but am I not worshipping these things to some degree? Talk about getting the sharp end of the Sword of the Spirit on this topic! This hurts!

When it comes right down to it, I am a child of the Great Designer of all Creation. He tops Dolce & Gabbana and/or Diane Von Furstenberg in His artistry.....and no pair of blue jeans can wash this deluded heart whiter than snow.

Matthew 2:21 - "And His name will be the hope of the world."
Philippians 2:9 - "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Given the Truth of the verses above, with whom do I truly want to identify? The Maker of the Universe or the maker of really cool handbags? The Ancient of Days or the Hot-for-One-Season scarf?
When I think of it that way - the best choice is obvious.....maybe not so easy at times....but obvious.

Besides that, Jesus picked me and wanted me to belong to Him so much that He has my name written on His hand:

"See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands." (Isaiah 49:16 NLT)

Enough said.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Scripture Memory Round 13

Time for the 13th memory verse of 2009! The regular discipline of memorizing and meditating on scripture has truly done a wonder to the renewing of my mind.

I have been following Beth Moore's Living Proof Ministries blog, and on the 1st and 15th of every month, everyone chooses a new memory verse. I have been toying with the idea of doing something like this on my blog, because I firmly believe that memorizing and applying scripture is the ONLY way to flesh out God's Word in your life. Leave a comment if you think you would be interested in joining me....

My 13th verse is Psalm 16:11: "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand."

And on the scripture memory note, I'll leave you with this: your thoughts direct your as women pursuing Jesus, shouldn't our lives/thoughts reflect the truth of Phil 4:8?

Lord, Thank You for Your great love towards your girls. Thank You that when we submit our minds to you (thought by thought) - You fill our minds with peace and joy as we trust in You. Help us in our pursuit of freedom from captive minds. Transform our minds by replacing the chaos with Your TRUTH.
In the mighty, holy, wonderful name of Jesus.
Amen, Amen, and Amen.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Joy of Doing What God Created You to Do....

What a weekend!

I typically come away from all conferences with a "mountain-top" experience. Somehow, this is different.

Not only did I meet great women and learn new speaking and writing skills, I met Jesus. As women who feel called to speak and write for the glory of God, we were there to gather information on how to effectively communicate with our audiences (I have to grin as I type this....because I don't even have an "audience" yet), how to write book proposals, and/or how to write magazine articles.
Yet the very first speaker, Lysa Terkeurst, reminded us that these new skills are useless without a relationship with Jesus. Not just a "Hi, how are you?" grocery-store-check-out-line relationship.....but an intimate "knowing" of each other i.e. a knowledge that Paul wrote about in his letter to the Philippians. Echoing Paul, I "want to know Christ....I want to progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him; perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly".

True ministry is born out of this relationship with the Lord. It is birthed out of a desperation for Him.
Without Jesus, the words that I speak and the words that I write are somewhat empty.
But when I'm doing life with Him, the fullness of God is in each letter, syllable, and paragraph.
The message inked on my heart is from the Holy Spirit when I tap into His power to write and speak.

Praise the Lord....may the words of my mouth and the words put to paper be authored by the One who created this vessel.

Bookmark and Share