Thursday, December 06, 2007

My "Lucky" Day

Emma and my mom have this adorable thing where they say, "It's my LUCKY day!" Now, for the record, I have said many a time that I do not believe in luck...I believe in grace. I really like American Heritage Dictionary's definition (one of quite a few!):
A favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence.
So, with that...I am about to make a short story long. Last Christmas, Ben and I each got an Ipod Nano for Christmas. I was new to this technology, but it came at a great time since our radio in our car doesn't work well, and our CD player no longer works. It doesn't take long to get used to that cool little gadget, not to mention that it is nice for Ben out on his own all night when he works night shift. Anyway, before we moved, some teenagers (sorry for the stereotype!) moved in down the street, and one day our Ipods were gone. Now, I do not know that it was the teenagers who did it, so I am not going to say for sure that they did. And it is mostly my fault anyway because I left the car unlocked. But, it was a bummer.
So...fast forward. KDAR (the Christian radio station) announced that Adventures in Odessey (a children's audio program) was giving away 3 Ipods a day for 12 days. It comes pre-loaded with Adventures in Odessey Christmas editions, and it is a "big" Ipod (30 GB?) So, I entered the contest each day, until I finally read the rules stating that you had to be the first entry received by 1) 7 am, 2) 10 am, or 3) 6 pm. So, Saturday, I filled out the entry form, then set out to do Emma's hair. I set the timer to beep at 9:59am, so I could come and send my entry. The timer went off, I came and sent the entry, then my computer took FOREVER. So long that I left to finish Emma's hair. When I came back to the computer, there was an error message so I assumed that the entry didn't even go through.
Saturday night Ben and I went to Aera's Christmas party. They were raffling off a bunch of prizes, the grand prize being a 32 inch LCD HD TV. During one of the raffles, we won a GPS system for the car. Then, they were drawing the name for the TV...you guessed it, BEN HESTER. Finally, towards the end of the night they called us again and we won a garage light?? I'm not really sure what it is, but I am sure Ben needs one, because he doesn't have much!
So, Monday morning I am getting ready to enter the IPOD contest again. While I was waiting for the right time, I clicked on "Contest Winners." It showed on Saturday, 12/1/07, that there was a "Lisa H. from CA". Now, I know there are a million Lisa H.'s in Ca, but still, you gotta wonder! So I called them to see if that was me!! That must have thought I was a kook!! They said that if I had won, I would have received a phone call, and I hadn't. So, I hung up the phone, the kids and I went on with our day and we were saying our morning prayers (no, I didn't mention the Ipod in our prayer!) Not even a minute after we finished praying, my phone rings, and it is Focus on the Family, calling to tell me that I won the Ipod. Seriously. I almost fell over, somewhere between laughter and tears. I thought, O Lord, this is just too much!! But thank you!!
So, some would say Saturday must have been my lucky day...But I would just have to say that the Lord was ever-so indulgent on my behalf.

Monday, December 03, 2007

P.S. on the vinegar/baking soda

Becky! These articles were also very helpful as far as how much, etc.
Baking soda:http://www.thenewhomemaker.com/bakingsoda
Vinegar:http://www.thenewhomemaker.com/vinegar
Happy Cleaning!
P.S. Does anyone remember the episode of Punky Brewster, when Punky's friend and sibling are at the house, and the sibling drinks some of a product under the sink, and the friend doesn't know how to help because she can't read the label?? Anyway, I was thinking about that, it obviously made a big impression on me...

Friday, November 30, 2007

The hair

She is only four, and it's already begun. Emma's really been wanting me to curl her hair. Well, 99 cents only had some rollers. So, I got them, and Emma stuck it out through the combing through, the rolling up, and EVEN the sleeping on them (which was a shocker). But, you gotta admit, it is adorable...(Poor Ben wouldn't get to see, so I promised I would take pictures as soon as I took the rollers out)

New Things in Our Life

When I went to San Francisco, I attended the Green Festival. It is essentially a gathering of companies who support sustainability. I learned a lot, and saw some great companies represented. I was a little saddened, that using our resources wisely is not necessarily something that the Church, or Christians, are particularly known for. However, I recognized a LOT of areas in my own life that could use some improvement. And, sometimes the change is slow...I have 5 reusable grocery bags that I have forgotten to take with me to the store TWICE. So, yeah...but, for me, it is not about being "green" or "eco-friendly" or hippie, or any of that. It is about trying to be faithful. Interestingly enough, the kids' Bible verse for yesterday came out of this passage of Scripture, God's gentle reminder to me again!:
"If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people's things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?" Luke 16:10-12

These are not all things even from the Festival, but just new things in our life.
G Diapers-They are a cotton outer pant, with a flushable insert. They take 50 days (instead of 500 years) to decompose, and if it's just wet, you could even compost them.

Quinoa- pronounced "keen-wa". It is often called a grain, although I believe it is really a seed. However, it has more protein than any of the grains, and it cooks just like rice. Here's Lisa's Quinoa recipe:
1 cup cooked quinoa (bring 1 3/4 cup chicken broth to a boil, add quinoa, cook 10-15 min.)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (or 1-2 cups cooked black beans
1 red bell pepper (seeded, chopped, sauted in a litte olive oil)
1/2 a jalapeno (also seeded, chopped, and sauted with the bell pepper)
Season with salt, pepper, and some chili powder and cumin!
The bulk bins at Lassen's
Now as a whole, Lassen's is really expensive. So I don't normally shop there. But the bulk bins are great!! You can get organic quinoa for less than a $1.00 a lb., as well as organic rolled oats for like $0.60 a lb. You can get black beans, split peas, split yellow peas all for under $1.00 a lb. And they have a variety of granolas for a reasonable price also. You just have to watch because many of them have a lot of sugar!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Before I Forget...

So, every night before bed, we do our "thankfuls". Everyone picks between one and three things that they are thankful for. The kids have heard us say various things, so I am sure that their answers reflected some of what they have heard over the past year from us. But, over our thanksgiving meal, we each went around and told what we were thankful for.
Caleb's answer: I'm thankful for a good dinner!! (Belch!!)
Emma's answer: I'm thankful that God never gives up on us.
Yeah, there you have it, boys...and girls. =)

Tonight, over turkey and black bean soup (there was polenta in the bottom)
Emma: "Mommy, what is the yellow?"
Me: "That's polenta."
Emma: "It's not sweet or anything."
Me: "Well, it's not really supposed to be sweet..."
Emma: "Well, it really doesn't have a good flavor."
Well then...better luck next time. =)

Clean has no smell...continuation of the previous post...

It is quite cheap!! You can get a gallon of vinegar for $1.99, and a 4 lb. box of baking soda for $3.29, and a spray bottle for $1.99 at Smart & Final. You can get smaller quantities of baking soda (a regular box for $0.59) and I'm not sure the size of the vinegar at 99 cents only. You know what is the hardest part for me?? (Confession: I LOVE cleaning products, especially ones that smell good...) But someone reminded me that Clean has NO SMELL. I know. It's so hard...but a good reminder.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Organic Cleaning

Here is a link to a great little video clip...After a discussion with some very experienced and smart women, I found that yes, you can clean your entire house with baking soda, and vinegar (and sometimes a little squirt of dish soap). Even hard wood floors. So, seeing as how this is much safer for a toddler crawling and cruising around, as well as young helpers doing chores, and helping clean...it seems like a good idea for us. Enjoy!
http://www.parents.com/parentstv/?lid=987353750&tid=992358697&cid=901546021

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Redeem

Redeem:
1. to buy back
2. a. to free from what distresses or harms, b.to free from captivity by payment of ransom, c.to release from blame or debt
3. to change for the better : reform

Oh, Lord, I can only thank You that my life is not what it once was. Thank you that You provide freedom from captivity, from what distresses, and what harms. This amazing thing you have done for Your people is indescribable...Thank you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A quick note about super-daddy

Okay, I have a ton of posting catch-up to do...but I need to go to bed soon, so I just wanted to post really quickly about the wonder that is super-daddy. I went to San Francisco this past weekend (more on that later). So, Ben was going to have the kids all weekend, by himself. Now, keep in mind that up until 8 months ago (at my sister-in-law's baby shower, I had Noah with me) Ben took Emma and Caleb by himself to the beach to ride their scooters and play on the playground. That was the first time he had ever taken the kids anywhere by himself. And I am not really sure that he has done it since then! But, he was more than willing to let me go away. So, he calls me Saturday to ask casually, "What size diaper does Noah wear?" I say, "Five...why?"
Then he proceeds to tell me that they:
1. Went to The Point (the beach promenade) to go jogging. Ben had Noah in the backpack as he walked (quickly!), and Emma and Caleb jogged. For a good 1/2 hr or so!!
2. They went to Target to get diapers and trash bags.
3. They went to the Mall to try and find running shoes for Caleb...no luck.
4. They tried Mervyn's just in case, no luck there either.
5. They went to Trader Joe's to pick up a few things.
AND!!!
When he was in Trader Joe's he probably gave an older couple a heart attack since they gave him the usual line,
"Oh, you have your hands FULL!"
And he responded,
"Yep, it's just about time for number four."
So there, I am so thankful and amazed at my husband. Yeah! I knew it!
P.S. Tons more later, but I did end up coming home early from my trip.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

New Shoes and New P.J.'s


Emma must have had another growth spurt! She was really in need of some new tennis shoes, and especially since she has been kicked out of the jogger, she has to be able to walk as far as I want her to, so she needed some good running shoes. She loves them!
And, Noah got new pajamas from his Uncle Scott and Aunt Cher-Ami.

Peter Parker


Caleb and Emma were allowed to wear their costumes to gymnastics.


Me: Come on Spiderman, let's go!

Caleb: I'm Peter Parker, I don't have my mask on.

Me: You're what? (I am thinking, I must have heard him wrong...neither of my kids have seen Spiderman the movie...)

Caleb: I'm Peter Parker, I got bit by a radioactive spider.


(It then occured to me, that we have 4 Spiderman books that I had gotten at the 99 cents only store. So, yeah...that's where he must have gotten it!)

Catching Up...

It seems like I always end up playing catch up!! I don't yet know what to say about Halloween, because we haven't quite figured out how we will handle and teach regarding that as our little family unit. But I will say that I am thankful for the Fall Family Festival (I think that's what they call it) because I think it's a great way to reach out to the community and provide some fun for the kiddos. They had a blast! (Katie, please don't shoot me for posting your picture, you looked so beautiful, I couldn't resist!)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween Sneak Peak

Well, we won't be home on Halloween, we are going to the church for the Fall Family Festival. We are just hoping that a nice note on the porch inviting trick-or-treaters to join us will keep them from doing anything mean (like eggs) while we're gone...

Anyway, I don't have a picture of Noah yet, but here is a sneak peak of Emma and Caleb's costumes:

Firsts...

Well, this past weekend was full of firsts. Noah had his first birthday!


We had our first fire in our fire place! And Emma read her first book! (It was only 22 pages, a beginning reader with small words...but still, she did it all by herself!)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fire

Well, there are fires all over California. So I am trying to remember all these people, their homes, and these firemen in my prayers. I have a brother in San Diego, which may be getting the worst of it right now due to winds. And, our little cabin in Crestline is only a few miles away from the Lake Arrowhead fire. All roads up the mountain are closed, so no one is getting up there for now. The area where our cabin is located is under voluntary evacuation as of this afternoon, and last I checked all of Crestline was under voluntary evacuation. We do know many people with homes in Lake Arrowhead and the surrounding communities...please be in prayer for them, as many homes have been lost although there is no current information as to which homes have been lost and which are just in big trouble.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Just too Yummy...

Okay, I just have to gush a bit about Trader Joe-San's Lightly Salted Cruncy Green Beans. They are so tasty, you could easily eat a bag, so you have to be careful. Now, I recognize that this form of intake will not give you the optimum level of nutrients from the green beans, but, if you have had a particularly long day and are exhausted (which I am, but it was a great day!), then it is an easy way to get a veggie in with dinner, and the kids eat them up because they are so tasty...like a snack. So anyway, to all of you who are really tired and it's dinner time, make sure you grab a bag of these tasty treats!!
P.S. Becky, you should e-mail me your address again, and maybe (if I can remember!) I could send you a bag!! =) Yes, they are that good.
P.S.S. Ingredients=green beans, canola oil, dextrin (corn) and salt.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Long Time Coming...

Okay, I don't know if you remember this song, but Emma's Sunday School class was singing it a couple of weeks ago:

"My God is so great, so strong and so mighty, there's nothing my God cannot do!"

I found it entirely appropriate. We have been very busy, but also, sometimes God does something, and you are in such awe, such amazement, that you have very few words. This has been my state. I do not know how to describe it, I do not know how to tell it in a way that will do Him justice, and give Him all the honor and praise that He deserves. My heart cannot even contain...I walk around in a daze thinking of my God, "I can't believe you did this!!" And yet I do believe it, I think it is more that I cannot believe He did this on our behalf, when we are so undeserving, and so unworthy.

I remember on several occasions saying that we would never buy a house in Ojai. Ben now tells me he has a list of things he would like me to declare that over, just in case it changes them...(like, "Ben will never become a pro surfer at age 30!") But the point is, that nothing is impossible with God. And what I thought impossible was very easy for Him. To be on the receiving end of this lavish love and grace...well, it's almost more than I can bear. And yet, His most lavish expression of love and grace came in the blood of His Son. He accomplished the impossible...sinful man able to commune with Holy God. My heart cries out, "Holy, Holy!" and yet with my hands I desire to cover my face because I am so unworthy to even look upon the holiness which I am in awe of.

I know my heart, so prone to wander. I pray that this house would serve as a reminder to me that God is faithful even when I am not. That God is truly the giver of every good and perfect gift. That I have done no good thing, I am simply on the receiving end of lavish grace. That this house does not belong to me...I am only a steward. So, with that, any of you reading this...you are welcome to this home. Come by, eat with us, and it is my prayer that all who come here will be blessed in some way by the same God who has just rocked our world with His goodness. Again.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bakersfield

Ben is in Bakersfield for safety training...He left Sunday night, and will be back Wednesday night. The kids are really missing Daddy, but only one more day (after today) to go!!
P.S. This is his night shift week, so they probably wouldn't have seen him a whole lot anyway...We are just thankful that this training is not in addition to his normal work week!! =)

The "Dora" Game

Kids love Dora. The other morning, Emma was wanting to watch Dora. I asked her why she liked watching it so much, and she said, "It's just fun!" I asked her, "What is fun about sitting and staring at a box?" She thought that was funny, but anyway, I decided that instead of watching Dora, we would play the Dora game. They were intrigued. We do have a Dora matching game, and a Dora version of Candyland. But no, this was going to be even better.
So, I took a toy and hid it.
Then, I drew a map!
Then, we repeated the three places that we needed to go to find the treasure.
Then, they went to the three places and ended up finding the hidden toy. Needless to say, I think they like this game even better than watching the little box. However, I think I will have to get more creative and better at drawing maps in order to make it more interesting. And of course, I never really watched "Diego", but I think Caleb is a little tired of being "Boots" for Emma, so I think we will have to make up an animal rescue game too. I'm open for suggestions!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lots of Catching Up To Do....

THE HIKE
We took the kids on their first hike...well, first walking hike. They have been on various hikes in other ways, like in the backpack, front pack, and oh yes, my belly. Anyway, with Noah in the hiking pack, we took Emma and Caleb to Pratt trail. They rocked it! We hiked about an hour, and they had wanted to go longer, but we thought it best to limit it. They had an incredibly pleasant discussion about how Jesus is God (it was so amazing for Ben and I to listen as they expounded on their 3 and 4 year old theology...it is so neat how kids just take things at face value. No complicating it, like we so often do).
The next morning, Ben and I both mentioned being a little sore. At lunch, Caleb said his mouth was hurting. Inside, he had a tiny little canker sore. I told him it just needed some time to heal. Emma said, "Oh, Caleb, it must be from the hike." I said, "Huh?" And Emma replied, "Well, you said he had a sore." So, yeah, then I had to explain the difference. =)


BUTTERFLIES
That same evening, we had heard about the big, huge beached whale out at Rincon Parkway. We went to go see it, but they had already cut it into pieces and burried it. It is still pretty smelly for sure! Anyway, we drove back down toward Emma Wood, and had some beach fun:

Emma's Butterfly


Ben's Butterfly




CHILDHOOD SENILITY

Caleb came in crying this afternoon, "Mommy! I lost my underwear!"

I tried to console him, and told him I would help him look for them. As we were walking to the bathroom, and I am thinking, "Where in the world could they be???" I pulled up his shirt and there they were! He just looked and said, "Oh."

P.S.

Oh yeah, we are in escrow on a house here in Ojai, over behind Vons. We are excited, and it is totally a God thing...but I don't have the words to describe or explain it all. More to come on that later. But yes, we are moving again...this makes number eight.

Friday, September 14, 2007

A psychotic moment....

I don't know if any of you got those coupons...but I did. They seem harmless enough. I get coupons all the time, and I just throw them away. But for some reason, I kept these. It must have been the larger-than-life pictures of Oreo Sundaes everywhere...beckoning all to come to Baskin Robbins. Now, let me first say that I don't even really like ice cream. And I definitely don't like paying exhorbitant amounts of money for ice cream!! I don't know if it was hormones, the heat, or just a lapse in my normal disciplined judgement, but I just felt in the mood for ice cream all of a sudden. So, we went. The first coupon was buy one sundae get one free, so for two two-scoop sundaes (one for my mom and I to share, and one for Emma and Caleb to share), it cost about $3.59. Not bad, I was thinking. So then, the other night, after Ben's long week of day shifts, we all decided to go for ice cream. AGAIN. Now, on the way I begin thinking, "AAH! Ice cream twice, in one week? What will become of the kids? Did they eat enough of their dinner tonight? Have they had enough nutrition this week to warrant two trips for ice cream?" As if my psychosis was not enough, then images from those commercials about childhood obesity come flying through my brain, until I am completely overwhelmed by the thought that I must be utterly ruining my children. I take a deep breath, we go into the ice cream store, and we get our ice cream. Ben and I share two scoops, and the kids share one scoop. I watch their tongues turn a darker and darker shade of blue, and I hear them delightfully giddy in between bites. You know, I think we are going to be okay. =)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Heat Wave, and Other Fun

So, what do you do without air conditioning of any kind when it is 110 degrees??? Well, this is what we did to help everyone get some sleep:


We pitched two tents in the backyard...one for the kids, and one for Ben and I. (Noah has a window air conditioner in his room, so we let him stay in his crib.) Anyway, it helped us to get some sleep and it was very exciting too.

So, we've been talking to the kids about how we will probably be moving again soon (more to come on this subject). So, as we put the kids to bed the other night in their tent, Caleb asked, "Mommy, is this our new house?"

Emma was coloring a page, paying close attention to staying in the lines, etc. She looks at me and says, "Genius!" (speaking of herself). Now, I am sure she's heard my mom and I say that of her, but I asked her if she knew what that word meant. She replied, "It means I can color GOOD!"

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Proud Mama

*NOTICE* My blog is full of many different posts, but since I am really lacking in the whole baby book department, I record momentous occasions, and milestones here as well. So, this post is the result of my amazement with Emma Faith...


Okay, Emma has been so anxious to start "homeschool". I tried to explain that homeschool just means learning at home, and we do that all the time. But, to satisfy her, we did some more worksheets today. Now, today, she had to write the word to match picture. I had planned on sounding it out for her to help, but she immediately insisted that she could do it all by herself. Evidently, she was right:

Monday, August 27, 2007

My favorite


I forgot to post my favorite picture from the park, so here it is. It is a rare occasion that we have a picture with Ben or I in it, let alone both of us. =)

Self-Control, or Lack-There-Of

Okay, Emma got up two nights in a row to go potty at about 11pm. Normally, this would not be much of a problem, however, I had gone to bed only a half hour or hour before. I was so startled when I awoke (and had so much on my mind) that I couldn't get back to sleep for many, many long hours.
It just so happens that I never did read Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (I do not know how to underline!!), so I had checked it out from the library. After two nights of not sleeping (plus, this is Ben's night shift week, so my husband is sort of non-existent) the wise thing to do would have been to go to bed early last night, and get a good night's rest. I did not make the best choice. But I did finish my book about midnight, and although it did produce some amount of satisfaction, I am not sure it was enough to inspire a cheery disposition at 6am this morning. But, we made it, we had a good day, and here it is 7pm....and I am feeling pretty sleepy. =)
I am hoping to now get Emma from the library, but perhaps I should work a bit on self-control before I dig myself deeper into the hole of exhaustion. I have decided upon my discipline for my offense...I must go to bed early!!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Just Hanging Around

It is so cool to be so close to the park. Thought I would take pictures just in case it is not always the case.



School

Emma says to me this morning, "Mom! When are we going to start my homeschool?"
(I am thinking, what do you think we've been doing all these years of your life??)
Then she says, before I can respond, "I really want to start kindergarten (Somehow meaning that she should be doing kindergarten with me)"
(Now I am thinking, where did you hear about kindergarten, and OH YEAH, you're ONLY FOUR!!!)
And then (again without me responding yet...) "Can I do a worksheet?"
ME: "Okay."

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ranch Dressing...

Okay, so my husband has been on board with all of our quests to eating healthy food, because he is also very conscious of what we put into our bodies, and how we feel as a result of what we have put in. His weakness comes in several forms, but two on the top of his list are: Fiery Habanero Doritos (yes, MSG) and Ranch Dressing (yes, MSG). I try, however, to not take away anything of this great importance until a suitable substitute has been found. Now, of course, Trader Joe's does have an Organic Creamy Ranch Dressing, and it does not contain MSG. However, a friend shared this with me, and it is MSG free, as well as amazingly cost effective. Two of my favorite things.
So, the following is a mix for a powder to make ranch dressing. This recipe makes enough to last a long time...and can be stored up to a year in an air-tight container. (Recipe compliments of Everyday Cheapskate)

15 Saltines
1/2 cup dry minced parsley flakes
1/2 cup dry minced onion
2 Tbspn. Dry dill weed
1/4 cup onion salt
1/4 cup garlic salt
1/4 cup onion powder
1/4 cup garlic powder

Put saltine crackers through blender or food processor until powdered. Add parsley, minced onions, and dill weed. Blend until powdered. Dump into bowl, stir in onion remaing ingredients.

To make ranch dressing, mix 1 Tbspn (YES, just 1 Tbspn!) of the powdered mix with 1 cup mayonnaise (I use light) and 1 cup buttermilk. Makes 2 cups ranch dressing.


Also, if you mix 1 Tbspn. of the powdered mix with 3 pkg. of cream cheese, you can use this as a yummy spread for wraps, or roll it in nuts to make a cheese ball.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Long Overdue....

Okay, so for our wedding, Ben and I received a cookware set that we have been using for...let's see...seven and a half years now. It has served us quite well, although, in the last year or so, I started noticing that the lovely nonstick coating inside our pots and skillets were getting scratched, and on some pieces, even peeling. This made me wonder, "Does it do any good to eat organic, healthy, or anything good for that matter, if it is mixed with small pieces of nonstick coating?"
Anyway, Macy's had a sale this past weekend and so we finally broke down and went to get a new set. It is so pretty....It is a stainless steel set by Cuisinart, almost too heavy for me to lift. I will have to work my muscles!! But they are wonderful, and I am so absolutely thankful. Of course, I didn't want to spend the money, so once I decided upon the set, I then argued with Ben for some time that we should put it back and wait for another time. He sent me and the kids off to wander while he purchased the set. So, tonight I am doubly (is that a word?) thankful. Thankful for our long overdue new cookware, and thankful that my husband knows me well enough to know when he needs to disregard my input. =)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Exposing the Blue Box

Okay, so we all grew up on KRAFT Macoroni and Cheese. It's the best, I know, we all generally feel that it is the best (except those that prefer the shells and cheese, which incidentally is also made by Kraft). Anyway, on my path to trying to be more careful about what we eat, etc., I discovered that most packaged foods (of the savory genre), or processed foods in the United States contain MSG, or monosodium glutamate which is a flavor enhancer. Not everyone has any reaction to it, but for some it can cause chest pain, stomach issues, etc. Anyway, the point is, once I discovered this information, I started noticing just how many products contain this additive. Yep, you guessed, the blue box contains it, as does Ranch dressing. I know. It's use is so prevalent, it is amazing. So, the link is to an interesting article about MSG.

Back to the point. So, I, trying to be health conscience, and give my children yummy, good-for-you food, spent about three times the amount of time it takes to fix the blue box, making macaroni and cheese. With GOUDA. Not just some whatever cheese, the good stuff. You guessed it, they don't like it. Well, they ate it, or at least a good amount of it. And who knows, maybe the whole wheat pasta increased their dislike, but they always eat whole wheat pasta, so I am thinking that is not the case. I thought it was good. But it occurred to me while eating it, "What has happened to us, as a society, that we now prefer the taste of chemicals dyed orange over real, good, yummy cheese?"
Oh, so sad.
Well, little blue box. You may have won this small taste-test battle, but you will not win the war!!!
Unless they have lunch at grandma's. =)

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Kids...

I could overhear Emma during her "rest" time, and this is all I could make out...
"Yes, I am going with John. (I'm thinking, "What??? WHO is John?")
"Okay, yes, John the Baptist is coming with me."

(I was laughing so hard I almost fell over.)

Emma: I have a joke. How about, you have cereal, then pour juice on it and it gets wet and you eat it!!!

Caleb: I have a joke. How about, cereal, then salad, then tomatoes, then a spoon!!!

2 for 1

Okay, in case you hadn't noticed, food is on the tip of my brain. It usually is, between cooking meals, snacks, and dishes, I spend at least 75% of my day in the kitchen. Anyway, here is a yummy meal that makes two dinners!!

I get Trader Joe's All Natural boneless, skinless chicken breasts. They usually come with 2-4 breasts in a package, but they are very large. With no added hormones or antibiotics.
Anyway, I put the chicken in the crock-pot with Trader Joe's All Natural Bar-B-Q Sauce.
Then when it's done, I shred all the chicken. The first night we have chicken sandwiches, usually on buns with cheese and extra Bar-B-Q for dipping.
I save the rest of the shredded chicken for the next night, PIZZA!
I use the Trader Joe's Garlic and Herb Pizza Dough, regular tomato sauce (but I add Italian Seasoning), then Mozzarella Cheese, the shredded chicken, and this mixture:
1 can organic black beans
1/4-1/2 bag frozen organic corn
Seasoned with chili powder and cumin, and salt to taste (about 1/2 palmful of chili powder and cumin)
It's like a mexican pizza, and sour cream is a great condiment for this one. So yeah, the chicken is about $6 a package, but since you can use it for two meals, it is totally cost effective!!! Okay, my chicken is almost done and ready to be shredded....

Fun in the...sink?


Well, Emma asks me pretty constantly, all day, every day, "What are you going to do with us?" I knew I needed to get some dishes done, so I told her that she was welcome to do dishes with me. So I got her out a bin of warm, soapy water, and set her to work on all the kid's plastic type dishes and cups. She spent a good 15 minutes washing dishes, and then Caleb came in and saw all the fun she was having. "I want to wash dishes too!!!" So, Caleb got a turn too. So it turned out to be educational, productive, and even fun...
P.S. Caleb did wind up soaking wet, just in case you decide to try this at home. Emma wasn't wet at all.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Happy Tummies

Well, this dinner does not make my husband as happy as the other, but it did just fine. And it made him happier when I reminded him how cheap and healthy it was!!

Tofu Stir-fry
(Organic tofu from Trader Joe's comes in a two pack for 99 cents! So I make both packs and keep the leftover in the fridge for Noah, he loves it!!)
I slice the tofu into rectangles and grill it on the George Foreman.
Trader Joe's Stir-Fry Veggie Mix--Napa Cabbage, Bok Choy, Celery, Carrots, Broccoli, and Snow Peas, fresh and washed, ready to use (under $2 for the bag, which could also last two meals)
Crimini Mushrooms
Sesame Seeds
Slivered Almonds
Rice

Sounds yummy to me!! I just saute the mushrooms and sesame seeds, then add the veggies and almonds and tofu, and splash in some sesame oil, rice vinegar, and tamari (dark soy sauce.) Little bit of salt. The kids liked it, Noah loved his tofu, and Ben said it was "pretty good". He likes tofu just fine, but stir-fry is not his favorite. I asked Ben to rate it...He said, "when I saw it, a five. When I ate it...at least a 7." There you have it.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Yummy Dinner

Well, going organic can get very costly, especially on certain items. So, we just can't afford to do everything. In fact, we have significantly cut down on the amount of meat we are eating, just because it is very expensive, even the hormone free instead of completely organic. But, we seem to be getting along just fine, and it feels good to have good food in our home.

So, last night's dinner:

Artichokes+Stuffed Mushrooms+Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Salad=Happy Husband. Yeah!

Friday, July 27, 2007

5 Reasons Why I Love Jesus

This is so cool. My friend Matt Kingsley did this, and I loved reading the answers. Mine is not quite as eloquent or, um, (what's a smart word for smart???). But my heart was genuinely excited in writing out just 5 of the many reasons why I love Jesus.

1. His ability to redeem the most unlovable, pitiful creatures. It still amazes me that even knowing Judas was in the process of betraying Him, He still called him "Friend." I am amazed that He counts me worthy of redemption.
2. His power. He speaks, and the wind and waves obey. He calls, and the dead come out walking. He touches, and healing is present. He is the only one with the power to transform us into something God can use.
3. He knows perfect balance. He knew how to honor God's holiness, yet temper it with grace. He knew how to care for physical needs without losing sight of the true spiritual need. He knew how to live on earth, yet be consumed with the heavenly, the eternal.
4. He knows how to see potential. He is not discouraged by what is--He has the ability to see what is possible, and then the power to bring it about. He sees beyond sin and failure, to redemption, new life, and transformation.
5. Jesus suprises people. Even now.
They're expecting an end to Roman oppression. Instead he ends the oppression of sin and death (they set the bar too low!)
They're expecting the Messiah to conform to the man-made additions to the law. Instead He fulfills the requirements of the law and makes it all an issue of the heart.
They expect him to associate with the more important members of society, and then he welcomes the children and has the audacity to tell them to become like these little ones.
We think we have to kick and scream to be first, to be recognized, to be appreciated...Yet He gently reminds us to serve and to be last.
We think we have to fix ourselves to come to Him, yet He still beckons, "Come to me, all who are weary and burdened."

Perhaps one of my favorite books is Hind's Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. (Sorry about the book title, I can't underline??) Most of you who know me well, know that it is a favorite of mine. But the main character says of her shepherd something that is forever engraved on my heart,

"I cannot live without loving You."

Much like when Jesus asked the Twelve, "You do not want to leave too, do you?"
Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." John 6:67-68

This is my heart tonight...Without Jesus, I am sunk, I am lost. I love him because I cannot live without loving Him.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Long Time...and oh yes, Frozen Peas

Well, sometimes life gets so crazy that you don't really have time to stop and say much about it. Or sometimes, life gets so heavy that you just don't have any words to describe it. I am not really sure what category I fall under anyway, but I haven't had many words, or the time to use them if I did.
Needless to say, I do feel like the Lord is at work, in our life, and in my own heart...gently convicting, bringing to mind a few things that He is changing my perspective on. But, I am not exactly sure what it will mean, or where it will take me. So I am just quietly waiting, to see what it is that God is up to.

The only news I really have to report is that Noah's doctor thinks he will be at least 6 foot 2 inches. So yeah, that's just crazy, but we do have my brother (who is 6'5") and Ben's brother (I think 6'2"), so we definitely have some height in the genes.

So, about the Frozen Peas...
I had forgotten that a good friend of mine had told me when Emma was young and teething, and already eating many table foods, about Frozen Peas. She used the petite ones. Anyway, Emma had loved them! And of course, that had carried on with Caleb. Somehow, I had forgotten about them, until my friend again reminded me for Noah. (Side note: Noah really doesn't eat any baby food, except that which I make like mashed potatoes. He just wants table food...) So tonight for dinner, we were having fish, and I realized that somehow I had forgotten to make the salad to go with it. Ben had already left for work, so I really didn't want to make a big salad, even one head of romaine lettuce worth, for just me and the kids. So, I got some organic frozen peas out for Noah to munch on while I tried to figure out what to serve the kids with the fish. They were so excited about Peas, begging me for them, and yup! They wanted them frozen!! I was so thankful in my heart, because they got a vegetable, it required very little work from me, and everyone was happy. Phew...I needed that. I am tired tonight. Thank you God, for frozen peas.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Good intentions, Banana Bread, and Vacation Bible School

Well, Ben had his first week off last week. I had had a couple of people suggest that during some point of his seven days off, I might start wanting him to go back to work!! Yeah, they were wrong. In fact, I kept thinking how fast the time was flying. He did get to go fishing and surfing (yes, surfing on his bad knee.) So, I think he really enjoyed the time off. But he is back to working his nights, trying to sleep during the day.
This week is Vacation Bible School, and I am teaching Caleb's class, which technically is not a class, so much as childcare provided for workers of VBS. However, if any of you know me, you know that it is not often that I "babysit", so much as have structure, routine, and guided activities. So, yeah...we are having a pretty good time, and the kids are doing very well. But it does make for a very busy week. In fact, I have already contemplated several times staying home a day, because Little Miss has already shown some wear from doing so much. I think that, like mommy, she is an introvert. So all those people all the time sort of wear her out. I have noticed her attitude struggling a bit, so we will see if we make it all week. She does enjoy the music most of all.
So anyway, Jonah (my best friend's little boy) has been a guest of ours this week. Now Becky, (his mommy, my best friend) told me that Jonah does not take naps. Well, I put Noah down in our room, Caleb on the floor in Noah's room (because I am not sure I trust Caleb to stay out of trouble in our room), and Emma and Jonah in Emma and Caleb's room. The first day they had some quiet play time, and all was well. Yesterday, Emma was getting a little restless, so I asked her to come and lay on the floor of the living room where I was...When I went to check on Jonah, he was fast asleep. So, Emma and I made some banana bread while the boys slept. There were two loaves, so I figured I could send one home with Jonah. It made a very nice snack for the kids when the woke up, and then Ben took some to work...well, needless to say, the banana bread didn't make it home with Jonah. Two loaves, almost all gone now. But, yeah, my intentions were good, just not good enough to overcome my urge for just one more piece....=) Maybe next time.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Update

Quick update...

The night shift has been pretty rough on Ben. However, the first three or four nights were the worst, and these last three or so have been much better. His knee is okay, he can walk and do most normal things, he just can't do the things he really loves...like surfing. He is going to see an orthopedic surgeon as soon as possible to try and schedule a surgery for one of his off weeks. This surgery should have a relatively short recovery period...

Ben's truck is totaled, so there is a 4 runner in our carport that is very smelly and essentially has no right half of an engine, only copper wires with lots of charcoal. The fire also busted through to the passenger side of the car inside, but didn't get too far into the car. Ben loved getting to go to work, and having to ask for a new pager. When they asked him why, he said, "Oh, my pager got destroyed when the fire department was spraying their chemicals to put the fire out." Good for shock value.

Caleb seemed to thoroughly enjoy his birthday. He asked me this morning, again, very groggy, "Mommy, am I still three?" We have assured him that there is no turning back!!

Here is a picture of a really sad attempt at an elephant on the cake. Elephants are Caleb's favorite animal. But just so you know, art is not one of my strong points.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

A Wonderful, Crazy Day...

Well, it's not over yet. But anyway, today is Caleb's birthday. This morning, he came in quite groggy, and said, "Mommy....am I three now?"
Ben has been working his night shifts, which has proved quite a challenge. Saturday and Sunday (today) he works an extra long shift, 3:30pm to 7am. So, when he got home this morning he gave Caleb a big hug, watched Caleb open a few small presents, and then went to bed. I was getting the kids ready for church, trying to get there a little early since I was to teach Caleb's Sunday School class. Emma came in and said, "Mommy, it's smokey!!" I thought, "Did I leave the burner on when I lit Caleb's candle this morning?" As I came around into the kitchen, I could see smoke pouring into the back yard and back play room. It soon came to mind that Ben had mentioned his truck was running funny. Well, you guessed it. It was on fire!! Ben ran out, I took the kids to the front, where a neighbor was frantically knocking and ringing the doorbell to tell us that we had a car on fire. Anyway, the fire department was already on their way, I got the kids out and on our way to church, and they put out the fire. So, the car is totaled. We will spend Ben's first week off looking for a replacement or something. But, Ben is okay, the kids are all okay, and the house (which could have very easily caught on fire from the carport) is unharmed. So, we are most certainly counting our blessings, that all the important things remain untouched and unharmed.
This verse has new meaning for us today...
"When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze."
Isaiah 43:2b
And of course, we didn't walk through fire, but we are thankful for His protection none the less.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Amazing...

I have not had many words these week. Nor have I had the urge to post any of the words my children have used or cute things they have done. But this, this is just amazing...You must read this post:
Day 68 by Aaron's Mom
http://aaronboydston.com/
This is such a testimony to God's goodness. Please keep praying for Aaron, his wife Natalie, and their two kids and other family and friends.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Long-Awaited...

Okay, so today we got the plants planted. Now, it is just a matter of how long I can keep them alive...and if they will actually bear "fruit." He, he. I mean vegetables. Anyway, I have never posted pictures on my blog... So, here are some pictures of the garden!!

This is Ben and Caleb digging up the soil under the box. Then chicken wire, to prevent visitors...Then, dirt mixed with organic compost, organic soil booster, and organic top soil.

We planted tomatoes, eggplant, Japanese cucumber, red bell pepper, yellow squash and zucchini. They didn't have all the plants we were planning on, so this is what we came up with. There is also basil, Italian parsley, and sage, which may, or may not get transplanted into pots. We'll see. So, there you go...we'll see what comes of it



Thursday, June 07, 2007

Yummy Lunch Wrap

yummy...and suprisingly filling!

1 large tortilla (any kind, they make whole wheat, sundried tomato, etc.)
Cream Cheese (light if you want, I used the Whipped kind)
Thinly sliced cucumber (placed all over tortilla in a single layer)
One (or two) slice swiss cheese
Three pieces black forest ham (Or turkey, whatever you like)
Two pieces of Green leaf lettuce

Roll up and enjoy!! So good, I sent one to work with Ben today for lunch. And was tempted to eat it. At 6 am. =)

Monday, June 04, 2007

What's for dinner?

Sometimes, it's hard to figure out what to have for dinner. Especially in the midst of a big change, like trying to go organic, etc. Here are some great organic recipes...

http://www.organicvalley.coop/products_recipes/recipes.html

Happy eating!!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Praise, and Disney?

The kids love to sing...
I walked into the room to see Emma and Caleb holding their Bibles, while rocking in their chairs, singing:

Jesus takes our sins away,
He is the one
We should give him back some of our money
And he saves us after all,
It's a small world after all
It's a small world after all
He died on the cross

(Caleb)
He saves us,
Who's afraid of the big bad guy,
the big bad guy,
the big bad guy...

There was a bit more to the song, but they were singing at the same time, so that was all I could make out.

Fun Day?

Okay, so I had all kinds of things on my "To-Do" List for yesterday. But somewhere in the midst of organizing my thoughts, I started thinking that it would be fun to do something for the kids, since it was finally not gloomy in the morning. SO, we finished some chores (Emma is getting very good at making her bed) and decided to get ready for the park (Sarazotti, since it's so close). Then I thought, hey, I should pack a lunch, and take our Bible and we can read a story...Anyway, so we FINALLY got going, got up to the park, and started playing. I was on a time schedule since Caleb is wearing underwear and I wanted to make sure that we got home in time for him to go potty, so I was only planning on a couple of hours. Lunch was nice: peanut butter sandwiches, cheese and turkey, pretzels, and grapes. We read about Jacob and Rachel and Leah. Anyway, just as I was getting ready to start packing up our things, I met a really cool lady with kids about Caleb and Noah's age. So, I thought, okay, we'll just stay for a little while longer. The kids were on the playground, and Caleb announces, "I have to go potty." AH! So, the nice lady says she'll watch Noah, while Emma, Caleb, and I RUN to the potty that I dread with much of my being. But we made it, and he went potty, YEAH! After about another half hour or so, we finally began the process of leaving. We started walking home, and I am thinking, "Wow, nap time is going to be SOOO good!!" Yeah, not so much. Noah slept, but that's about it. So, Emma and Caleb kept getting into trouble, and getting more and more grumpy. Finally I let them out, and was going to let them watch a little video so I could get a shower. Then Noah woke up. So at this point, I am thinking, okay, no shower, but what are we doing for dinner? Ben went to work for his dad after he got done at his new job, so he wouldn't be home. My mom calls just at this moment and asks if we want to come up for pizza. I say no, we don't want to impose, etc. She says, just come...and I am thinking, wow, a year and a half in the mountains and all that time, I never had this option. So, yeah, we went up, the kids played outside and rode their scooters, we ate pizza, came home, had baths, and everyone went to bed. All in all, it was a fun day, although I am pretty sure that an offer to leave our house and have dinner taken care of was the ticket to ending the day on a good note. =)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Plans...

Okay, so I have the best intentions and plans to build our garden. Whether or not it actually happens, we shall see. I think the hardest part for me is that I want to build it NOW, today...but I am thinking...Do we even own a power saw? Or, where do I go to get this stuff? And, do we have the tools I need, and if so, where would I find them in our garage? I guess what I am saying is that I am going to have to have some help on this one. However, Ben is quite busy, working his new job, and then going to work for his dad after he gets off. So, I will either have to get very creative, or...get very creative. Anyhow, here's some helpful articles in case you were planning a garden of your own...:

http://www.bhg.com/bhg/story.jsp?catref=C429&storyid=/templatedata/bhg/story/data/1158091730278.xml

http://www.bhg.com/bhg/story.jsp?storyid=/templatedata/bhg/story/data/1137772891988.xml&catref=C429&psrc=storyrl

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Little Scary...

Well, today, I was a little overwhelmed by something. I have been learning and hearing more and more about different things surrounding the whole organic food vs. traditional. Shopping at Trader Joe's is great, because they keep their standards really high as far as no artificial ingredients, and no preservatives. Also, all of their dairy products, even if they aren't organic, are from cows that are not treated with the rBST hormones. And I know that it is theory, and no one really knows the answers, but I do find it interesting that the incidence of cancer and other disease are so much higher, and the idea of eating food sprayed with a bunch of chemicals has never really sat well with me anyway. The dilema, however, is cost. We will have to find a balance, because at the rate at which we go through milk, I just can't pay $6.50 a gallon!! But, that is for completely organic milk, so maybe I will just have to stick with hormone free for now. We are going to try to start growing some of our own stuff, but I am nervous since my thumb has never been very green, if you know what I mean. Anyway, I desire to eat well, and even more so, to feed my kids well. I would never knowingly hand them something all covered in chemicals to eat...
Anyway, I thought this article would be interesting for some of you...It's about Monsanto, the company who makes Roundup weed killer. My M-O-M (mother-in-law) alerted me to this company that is basically trying to have the monopoly on crops. And evidently, they are trying to develop seeds that will withstand roundup so they can spray everything with it. Anyway, read away!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day...

Okay, so I was so inspired by Amber's blog about Memorial Day that I thought I would do a puppet show for the kids to teach them about this special day. Whenever we do a puppet show, I do the whole thing, then Emma and Caleb take turns repeating what they liked or remembered from my show. Here was Emma's prayer when she took her turn:

"Dear God, thank you for our mommies and daddies. Thank you for this very special day and for making thank you cards and thank you for this very lovely day."

When I had done my puppet show, I tried to explain what this day was about, and we said a special prayer for the soldiers and their families who were fighting or had fought in the wars so that we could have the special freedoms we have in the United States of America.

They always like me to sing during a puppet show, so I sang "America the Beautiful." Then I thought, this is a perfect opportunity to start teaching them our national anthem. (I mean, they're almost 3 and 4 years old, right?) Well, too bad I could not remember it for the life of me. Eventually, I wound up calling my mom just to get, "Oh, say can you see..." So much for my patriotism. Guess I'll be the one needing a puppet show.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Yeah Caleb!!

Well, it is not over yet, by any means...those of you who have potty trained know exactly what I am talking about!! But, Caleb has been wearing underwear and he even wore them today to Life Design. I was very nervous, so much so that I came and took him potty twice during the almost three hours...but he made it! Yeah Caleb!!

God's Goodness...

We were talking about this in Life Design, and the girls said it was worthy of posting. First of all, in my other Wednesday night Bible Study, about discerning the voice of God, we've been learning this week that in order to really hear from God, our desires has to be knowing God, more than hearing from God. So many times, we want to know what God requires of us, like the law, instead of just wanting to know Him, love Him, and then out of that to serve Him. Well, the timing was perfect because this week's Life Design study was about the Greatness of God. And Psalm 145 was perfect as just describing God and his amazing character. I am going to write it out here, just because most of the people reading this won't have time to grab a bible...so just read it and take time to think about God, just for who He is:
"I will exalt you, my God and King, and praise your name forever and ever.
I will praise you every day; yes, I will praise you forever.
Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness.
Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power.
I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles.
Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness.
Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness.
The LORD is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
The LORD is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation.
All of your works will thank you, LORD, and your faithful followers will praise you.
They will speak of the glory of your kingdom; they will give examples of your power.
They will tell about your mighty deeds and about the majesty and glory of your reign.
For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. You rule throughout all generations.
The LORD always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does.
The LORD helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads.
The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them their food as they need it.
When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.
The LORD is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness.
The LORD is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.
He grants the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them.
The LORD protects all those who love him, but he destroys the wicked.
I will praise the LORD and may everyone on earth bless his holy name forever and ever."

I know it's a lot of reading, but isn't is amazing? This is our God!! Okay, so back to the point...
The question in our study: If God has proved His goodness over and over again, why do we find ourselves waiting for His goodness to run out?
Well, there are many answers...but mine was because OUR goodness always runs out. No matter how hard I try to be a good wife, a good mom, a good housekeeper...I do well for a while, and then I run out!! But God's goodness has no end, it is not like ours.
So last night, the kids were getting into trouble. Emma just would not be quiet and go to bed, so yes, I told her that if she didn't quiet down I would take her night light. And she didn't, so I did. I know, even I felt bad as she was screaming and crying. But she settled down and went to sleep. Then about midnight, I hear her wake up and start crying. I go in to see what is wrong, and she tells me, "I don't want it to be dark!!" In my mind I am thinking, "Seriously? This is about the night light!!" But, I told her that she chose not to be obedient, blah blah blah. Then I leave the room. Noah wakes up, so I go get him and start feeding him. And it occurs to me, that God absolutely has consequences for disobedience, but His goodness to us still continues. He does not leave us crying in our consequences with no comfort, or no hope. So, I get Noah back to sleep and I go in and pray with Emma, that God's angels would come and watch over her, and help her to not be afraid even though it is dark, and to help her to make a better choice the next time Mommy asks her to be quiet.
God's goodness does not run out...And even though mine does, I am looking to Him, knowing that His goodness will go the distance.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Heart of a Child...

Emma got some money for her birthday. $4.00, one for every year old she is. She hasn't really had money before, except for small amounts. Anyway, I told her that I was going to put her dollars away, to keep them safe, and that we could talk later about how we use our money. She had a lot of questions about this statement, so I explained (thinking that it would be quick, and we would revisit it later) that the first thing we do when we get money is give some of it back to God. This peaked the kids' interest. (The kids' answers are in quotes)
"Where is God?"
Well, he is in Heaven.
"Yeah, and Jesus is in heaven, because Jesus is alive."
Yes, you are right!
"Well, if God is in heaven, then how can we give him money?"
Oh my...well, there are different ways that we can give money to God. One way is to give money to the church, and then they use it to help send people to places where no one has heard about Jesus yet, or they use it to pay for the people who work at the church and help people. Another way is to give the money to people who don't have any food to eat, or clothes to wear, and that way we can help them.
"Oh..."
Then my precious daughter looks at her $4.00 and tells me,
"Mommy, I will give two of my dollars to God and to the people who need help. And then I will have two dollars to keep."
I told her that her heart is so very precious to God at that moment, and that He is so pleased. I also say that we can talk more about the money later, because she can choose to save it, or choose to spend it, etc.
"Oh mommy, I will spend it on a treat!"
Well, you can do that, because it's your money!
"Yes, and there will be one dollar for me and one for Caleb."
Oh honey, you can spend both dollars on you because it was your birthday money.
"Yeah, but I just want to spend some on Caleb."

The really sad thing to me, is that I had already calculated 10 percent, and was trying to figure out how to explain THAT. And in the process, I overlooked the most important things. My daughter's heart didn't need percentages or explanations of mathematical concepts...she just wanted to know what would make God happy.

"I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 18:3
"Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children." Matthew 19:14

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Oh yes...

Well, it wouldn't be complete if I didn't post about our garage sale endeavors. Not much this weekend, however, Ben was thinking about how he will probably be having surgery and will need to do some physical therapy afterwards. He saw a Total Gym on craigslist for $100, but of course, we don't have $100!! SO, this morning, the first garage sale I went to had...you guessed it!! A Total Gym for $10. Yes, that's right, one less zero makes a big difference!! You see, I think God has a wonderful sense of humor, and I am very much a thankful elephant for this find!
P.S. Yes, we did go to the Young Life sale, but we got there late, I think...

God's Provision..The Saga Continues!

We are just amazed at how God continues to provide and take care of us. I don't know if any of you know this, but Ben has had three knee surgeries...two on the left knee (one to repair the meniscus in his knee, the second to remove the damaged part) and then about two and a half years ago, he had a meniscus repair surgery on his right knee. Well, Thursday night Ben went to play softball with the church league...no big deal, just some fun. When he was up to bat, he swung to hit the ball, and felt something funny. When he then went to run to first base, he knew it was bad because his joint locked and he couldn't straighten his right knee. So, he hopped to first base, and then got a runner. As he hopped off the field, I knee it was bad...in fact, I could pretty much tell from the look on his face that it meant surgery. But, there were a few things that made it a little more scary. The first is that we have no health insurance, and so all those bills would be our responsibility. The second is that he is supposed to start his new job a week from Monday and he can't even walk. So, I jogged home to get the car and picked him up to go home. I just decided that the best we can do is to pray for God to heal him, at least enough so that he can go to work because, well, we need him to.
Friday, we spent a good portion of the day at the emergency room, just trying to figure out what to do about his knee. The doctor forgot about us in the E.R. (he came back after about an hour and half and said he forgot us...), but then was very nice to us! He basically said that Ben will probably need surgery, however, there's no way to know without an MRI. But, he also said that the knee will relax, and he should be able to function fairly well in the next couple of days. So, hopefully we can just wait this week until we have health insurance, then figure out the whole surgery situation. And, for now, he is up and about, with a knee brace, just a little slower than normal. But, it looks like he'll be able to go back to work on Monday (yeah God!). After the E.R., we went to Trader Joe's for groceries. While I was in the store, Ben sat out in the car and was watching a movie on the DVD player. I ended up being in there longer than I planned...so yeah, you guessed it, when we went to start the car, the battery was dead. At this point, you really just have to laugh. But, thankfully, Ryan (Ben's brother) was on his way home from work, and we were on the way. So he stopped and jumped the car for us, and we made it home. God continues to provide and be faithful and we are okay. Yeah God!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Are you grumpy?

In our house, we end up spending a lot of time talking about our attitudes. Caleb found a great way to lighten the mood when someone is acting grumpy (or even just to have fun). He says, "Are you grumpy? Are YOU grumpy?" Usually laughing, tickling, and other smiles follow. So, this morning, Ben said to Caleb, "Are you grumpy, are YOU grumpy?"
Caleb's response: "No, I'm a thankful elephant!!"

On that note, we have two books from a series, which has been discontinued. They're neat, though, because they're about the fruit of the Spirit. Anyway, the one about God's goodness ends like this:

So, when I feel grumpy-growly
Here's exactly how I pray
God please remove my badness
And let your goodness stay.

So, we use that prayer to combat grumpy growlies around here. Besides, it is much more fun for everyone involved to be a thankful elephant.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Garage Sales are GREAT!

So, I have still been looking for a dresser, and of course, that is not what I found. What I did find:
A brand new stainless steel tea kettle, $5.00
A skate board for Caleb, $3.00, and one for cousin Ethan (last name NASH) with NASH in letters on the front ($5.00)
A tea set for Emma, $4.00
A beautiful silver plated teapot, cream, sugar, and platter...was for Emma, until I found the other one, then became MOMMY'S treasure...$7.00
Gotta love it.
There was a really neat Family Festival at Libbey Park on Saturday, so we took the kids. Everything was free, they had tons of activities, and the kids got free helmets and toothbrushes. They even got to play at the park and see lots of friends. At dinner time, we were all saying what we were thankful for. What won? The skateboard, the tea set, and oh yes, the new toothbrushes. Life is good. (Daddy being home got honorable mention)

More from my Bible Study...

We are still doing our study on Discerning God's Voice...which by the way, I recommend to anyone, it is published by LifeWay, and written by Priscilla Shirer. Anyway, this week is about the voice of the Holy Spirit, and I just loved this verse and wanted to share:
"They said to one another, 'Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?'" Luke 24:32
You know that feeling, like your heart is burning within you, either because you've just seen something about God, or made a connection you've never made before? Or because you know the Spirit is leading you to do something, and maybe it seems a little odd, but you just feel your heart burning, giving some seemingly mundane task (call your friend, give her a hug, etc...) a sense of urgency, as if you were being compelled??
Yes, I remember that feeling, and perhaps I have not been so quick to recognize it as of late, but I can't wait...
Now if only I could quiet my mouth long enough to open my ears, and recognize the burning in my heart....
"Speak, your servant is listening..." 1 Samuel 3:10b
From our Bible Reading last night:
"The LORD is king! He is robed in majesty. Indeed, the LORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength. The world stands firm and cannot be shaken. Your throne, O LORD, has stood from time immemorial. You yourself are from the everlasting past...Mightier than the violent raging of the seas, mightier than the breakers on the shore--the LORD above is mightier than these! Your royal laws cannot be changed. Your reign, O LORD, is holy forever and ever."
Psalm 93

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Too many words...

Wednesday nights have been so amazing, we are continuing our Bible Study on hearing God's Voice...the current six-week session is on Discerning the Voice of God. It is basically all about the Holy Spirit, and His work in our lives. The only problem (well, it is actually a good thing, not a problem) is that the more you learn about the Holy Spirit, it seems that the more aware of Him you are. And one of His jobs is to convict us of sin. So, I guess it would seem natural that today I am a bit discouraged, frustrated even, with myself. Why can't I get it right?? I am most frustrated with my mouth. It seems to get the best of me, and runs off ahead of my mind, leaving me speaking before I have really thought. Now, I don't mean that I am necessarily even saying bad things. Just too many!! Information that is not needed, words that are unnecessary. It is hard, because when you spend all your time with tiny people, and then the door opens for you to have a conversation with an adult, well, it can be a little exciting. But, in my specific situation, I have heard the voice of God's Holy Spirit, and I must admit, I was wrong. I said too much. I used too many words, and perhaps information that was not necessary or beneficial.
"Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut." Proverbs 10:19 NLT
Thank you God, for choosing to speak to me, and for making me aware of an area in my life that is not pleasing to you. It just feels good to hear your voice, even if it is to convict!! Change me Lord, place a guard on my lips so that I may only speak what is beneficial and necessary. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord.
"A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent." Proverbs 17:27-28
Yes, this verse was in our Bible reading last night. You'd think I would have gotten the message, but I'm still working on it...

"Monster Mom" Days...

Well, at our Life Design Bible Study, we were talking about having "monster mom" days...you know, the days when you are more easily frustrated, impatient, and just in general more like a monster than a mom. Now, I am definitely not saying that this is the way to go, just acknowledging that we all, in our sinful selves, have those not-so-good days. So, I thought this article was fitting, and very helpful...It always amazes me how it always comes back to keeping in step with the Spirit. The Lord gives us everything we need to avoid these monster mom days, and yet it requires us to choose to submit to the Spirit, MOMENT by MOMENT. I haven't mastered it by any means, so I thought this article was helpful.
http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/heartofwisdom/
The article is called 5 Steps to Preparedness
Enjoy!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Pictures...

So, I had a couple of people ask about pictures for the dresser we haven't started yet. I just wanted to say that I haven't yet figure out pictures, and how to have them. So, I may need help with that....

More Garage Sales, Moving AGAIN, and a Last-Minute Birthday

So, we were searching for a dresser for the kids room, and maybe one for our room. No such luck, but that is usually the way it goes with garage sales...you don't find what you do need, and you find what you don't necessarily need. But, we got a great sand and water table for $8, with all the toys...you know, those fishing poles and fish from Lakeshore, and some other sharks, fish, and things to float. The kids love it!! We also got a Childcraft wooden lego table, you know, the one that stores all the Legos inside, and has the lego top for $20. So, the kids are enjoying it, and as most of you know, I needed Emma's bookcase as clothes storage, so we haven't started repainting or stenciling yet.

We moved again. I had never moved in my life until I got married...which was almost 7 and a half years ago now. In that time, we have now moved for the seventh time. So there you go, you'd think we would be really good at it by now, but I am not sure we are. We are almost settled, but in general it will take a while I am sure. However, all I can say is that I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the way our Lord has provided. Everything has been taken care of...we have a place to live, we have phone service and now internet as of today, and even brand new trash cans because the old ones were really gross, and I figured if we have to pay for trash service I might as well ask for new ones. And they granted my request. So thank you God, for your incredible work on our behalf. Thank you friends and family for your prayers and tears, and for rejoicing with us.

So, we had some family over yesterday for a last minute celebration of Emma's 4th birthday. Caleb's favorite part, "Uh, blowing cakes?" So hey, I only came close to tears once, and that was as Emma was eating her birthday cake, and I was overwhelmed that she is four now...She's growing up and I can't stop it, but I just want to hold her and love her...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Moving away from the materialism!!

Okay, so with the whole bookcase situation with Emma, we stumbled upon an idea that I thought worthy of the blog!! We decided that instead of the normal commercialism that surrounds birthdays and all other present-getting events, that Emma's birthday present will be the bookcase. Well, the present is to do a project, either with Mommy or Daddy, or both. But this year, we happened to already have the project. Next year, we will start early before her birthday arrives. We will garage sale, and treasure hunt, until we find just the right project. So, for her bookcase, I got the paint, and some stencils to put her name and some other decorations on it, and she will get to work on that with me.
For Caleb, we thought that since he loves to help, fix, and build, that he and Daddy will go and choose some wood and build something very basic, like a stool or something. And his present will be to work on a project with Daddy, or Mommy, or both. And so, this year, we will begin a hopefully wonderful tradition in which we can work together to accomplish something, and perhaps that will be even better than Dora, or Disney princesses, or even Spiderman. And, as I realized last night, this will be a wonderful opportunity for me to begin learning to let go, and let Emma or Caleb do things as they want to, even if they "mess it up" according to my sometimes unreasonable standards. I'll let you know how it goes!!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Garage Sale Steals!!

One of the things I love to do is garage sale. For me, it is like modern-day treasure hunting. Before we moved to Crestline, I found this great coffee table for $3.00. It took a ton of work to refinish it, but we loved it so much in the end, that it was one of the few items that has made the numerous cuts we've had to make during all the moving.
Anyway, last weekend, I saw a bookcase, and it was mostly painted pink. I think they must have gotten tired of the project, because it wasn't finished. But it was wood, so I saw some potential. I was thinking a beautiful, sleek black finish for the living area, to hold books, etc. I haven't gotten to it yet, so it is just sitting on the front porch (oh yeah, for $8.00).
This weekend, Ben and I went and scored again. We found another bookcase, type piece that has doors on it, so I thought that might be even better because I could put kid's toys and/or craft items in it, and close the doors!! I also got a killer mirror, which is framed in lime green wood, but will look like it came from Pottery Barn when I am through with it, I hope. =) I got both items for $23.00.
So this afternoon, I began painting the bookcase type thing with the doors black. It was looking pretty nice...Emma came to admire my work and said, "Oh mommy, it is very pretty. Since this one is black, I think you could clean the one in front, and paint it ALL pink, and then it could be mine."
My goodness, I guess it starts young. Then again, maybe she would enjoy helping me with that project. She's almost four, she can refinish furniture, right???

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Agony of a Decision!

So, Ben has been working for his dad's company, and enjoying his work...He feels good being a part of the family business, and likes knowing that he is helping the family, so to speak. He had been waiting to hear from a job with Aera energy, an oil company here in Ventura. It was taking them so long, though, and finally, Ben's dad just needed to know if Ben would stay or go. So, Ben made the decision to stay.
The next week, Aera called and offered Ben the job. Ouch. That hurt...but, right away, Ben said that he was not going to take the job because he had already made a commitment. So, that was fine, the decision was made.
Then, Ben's dad said that he was changing the health insurance, so Ben got all the paperwork, brought it home and we re-worked the budget with the new numbers. Uh-oh. I know, it sounds crazy, but yes, it made such a difference that we weren't going to make it. I don't mean, oh, it will be tight, not going to make it. I mean, no cable, no internet, cut our food budget $60 a month, and still can't afford diapers type of situation. Anyway, then the agony began. Ben talked to his dad, who was INCREDIBLY gracious and wonderful, but that didn't make it any easier on Ben because he didn't want to disappoint anyone or let them down.
Then, a few days into it, I had a little epiphany: if Aera had called a week earlier, it would have been easy, he would have taken the job. If the insurance situation had come up a week later, it wouldn't matter because he would have already past the deadline for accepting the job with Aera and it would be easy. But could it be, that instead of an easy decision, the point of all this was just so that we would seek God, desperately, diligently, relentlessly until we had an answer? Could it be, that over the last two years, we had let the thought creep into our theology that God didn't really care what we did as long as we were obedient, and our hearts were right (which is not completely wrong), but that He didn't really have a specific plan for us, and that He wouldn't speak to us?
Thus, began our pursuit....we cried, we prayed, we read God's Word (at the end of twelve hour work days) until we couldn't keep our eyes open. I know it sounds weird, but we LABORED over this decision. Seriously, at some points during this, I would have picked actual, child-birth labor over this. But we prayed, and we said that we needed to hear from God, and that we could no longer live with God's general but needed God's specific plan. We needed to hear God's voice.
Now, I am not saying that God opened heaven, and we heard him audibly tell us what to do. But he carried us through and this is what happened.
I had prayed that God would send some prospective workers, since that was a source of pressure, already being a bit short handed. There are two prospects, so we are continuing to pray that at least one of them will work out.
My friend Amber (THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!) said she would be praying for Ben's dad, that he would "release" Ben from his commitment more forcefully, so Ben would really know that it was okay. We had sought advice from a couple other sources...And within two hours of me talking to my friend Amber, Ben's dad called him and said just that, "I RELEASE YOU."
This by no means made the decision, but it helped.
We read much of God's Word, but didn't sense a specific direction, only encouragement:
"The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you." 1 Samuel 10:6-7
So, finally, Ben made the decision. He called Aera, and he was already a day late sending the acceptance letter, so he didn't even know if he could still have the job. And when he called, no one was there, he had to leave a message. But he sent the letter, and then called his dad. Anyway, his dad was so kind and so encouraging, and although sad to see him go, he even said it might work out better in the end for him. And some other details went according to the way we had prayed, and then Aera returned his call and said that they had actually been waiting to see if Ben would accept the job and that they were so please that he did!! And so, the Lord has acted mightily on our behalf.
To tell you the truth, at most points in all this, I didn't even care what Ben decided, I just wanted to be done with the decision. And yet, the agony, that is what is the most exciting thing to me in all of this. GOD IS NEAR TO US!! GOD DESIRES TO SPEAK TO US!!! It is my responsibility to know my Shepherd's voice, but you better believe I am ready to get to know it for sure!!!! And if God is near to us, if God speaks to us, and if God has a specific plan for us (WHICH HE DOES!!!) then life has meaning, then there is boundless amounts of hope and joy even IN THIS LIFE!!! GOD IS NOT IMPERSONAL!
Oh, so about the job....
I am not exactly sure what Ben will be doing, except making sure those oil-pumping machines off the side of the freeway work. But he will work seven 12 hour days, then have 7 days off. Then he will work seven 12 hour night shifts (6pm to 6am) and have seven days off. Our insurance is great, and he will have a pension and 401K. I am not really even sure what all of that is...but, they also have some educational incentives, and I thought, hey, 7 days off is perfect for trying to finish that degree he's been talking about....or surfing, or studying God's word and laboring with me over the next decision we face. Only next time, we will even start off in a better place, because we know and believe that He will speak to us, and He does have a specific plan for us.
P.S. Interestingly enough, my Wednesday night Bible Study, which started about 3 hours after Ben made his decision is about Discerning God's Voice. I CAN'T WAIT!!!
Please pray for us, with moving soon, and the change in jobs, and Ben's new schedule...we can't wait to see what God will do!

Some Catching Up To Do...

So, the last two years have been a little rough for our family. And it usually has left me in one of two places: either in tears as I attempt to talk about it, or just speechless. Which is sort of how I have felt in the last few weeks. Speechless. Which is also why this past year, I didn't send out the Christmas letter that I always send out, the one that Ben's family always tell me they're so glad I send because it's the only way they can keep up with us and remember who we are...yes, that Christmas letter. I couldn't send one because I simply had no words. There are no words to describe when you are in the midst of the situation, and without knowing it, you have somehow come to a place where you think that the God of the Universe, who not only created you but redeemed you, is far away, and just maybe, has forgotten about you. I wouldn't have admitted it, even to myself, but I think that's what I was feeling, that God had become impersonal. That he didn't have a specific plan, but just a general plan for my good, and that I would just have to figure it out and suffer the consequences if I got it wrong.

Well, let me just say though, that this is a terrible place to be. Really. But there was a part of me that held out hope, because I knew I had heard God's voice before...it had been a while, but I knew that I had experienced God's SPECIFIC plan for my life, not just some general, yeah, God has good plans for me. I knew that God had to love me, and He had to be very near to me, because that's what His word says...and yet, I had started to wonder.

There are many things for which I have no answers for, even still, but there is one thing I know and I wish I could shout it from every roof top...I am no longer speechless...
"I KNEW IT!!! GOD DOES LOVE ME!! GOD HAS A PLAN, SPECIFICALLY FOR MY LIFE, AND HE DESIRES TO SPEAK TO ME!!!!"

So, here is the summary of the events, and I will describe with more detail in another post.
Ben and I are moving to a super cute three bedroom house here in Ojai, sometime in the next two weeks or so.
Ben will be staring a new job working for Aera energy (an oil company in Ventura) in the next three weeks or so.
The Lord has proved Himself mighty and faithful on our behalf, and we are rejoicing simply in the fact that God is very near to us!!!

"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being." Acts 17:24-28

Monday, April 02, 2007

Cadence Taylor Hester

Yeah! Cadence Taylor Hester was born March 22, 2007 at 6:53pm to proud parents Ryan and Kelly Hester. She was 7lbs., 4 oz. and 19 1/2 inches long. Kelly is such a trooper...she was in labor all day! Kelly and Cadence are enjoying some time at home, and Ryan is already back to work. Cadence is a beautiful, petite, precious little blessing, and she is healthy and doing great!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Pray for Kelly!

My sister-in-law Kelly is going to be induced tomorrow...I am so excited!! This is their first baby, and they are so excited to welcome their precious little girl! Please pray for strength and endurance for Kelly, and that everything would go well, and quickly! And pray for both her and Ryan as they prepare for the excitement and changes ahead!!

Little Colds...And God's wisdom

Well, I haven't been much of anywhere for a couple of weeks, mostly due to a cold and cough that has worked its way through the kids. So, I didn't post last week about Life Design, and I missed this week too. Also, I started a new Bible Study at my church on Wednesday night...I was so excited about it, but I haven't been able to go since that first meeting a couple of weeks ago. But anyway, here's some food for thought:

Ephesians 5:1-20
We were discussing walking in the light/being wise how you live.
Which interestingly enough corresponded with the first week's lesson in my other Bible study.
How can we become more wise?
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Prov.1:7) and "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." (Prov. 9:10)
Which, in my own little paraphrase becomes..."Respecting God is the starting point of wisdom." The more we respect God, the more we trust him. The more we trust Him, the more we obey Him and actually put our knowledge of Him into practice.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 (my paraphrase here...)
"Respect God and obey Him--this is the whole job of mankind."

Then, this week's lesson in Life Design was about yielding, most specifically within the husband/wife relationship.
My dictionary defines yield as:
1. to give forth by a natural process
2. to surrender, to give way
3. the profit obtained from an investment (a return)
This was so absolutely interesting to me, because I noticed that the times in my relationships (marriage, friendship, or as a mommy) when I received the greatest return (definition #3) was often when I yielded the most (#2).

And oh yes, from my other Bible Study, God spoke most clearly to my heart through the words Jesus spoke to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:25-26...(my paraphrase)
You should be more concerned with what's truly in your heart, rather than how you appear in the eyes of others.

So, hey, that is so amazing...The Lord can speak to us in our hearts, gently correcting and rebuking without you ever having to leave the house. Hopefully I will leave the house soon, so I can put this all into practice. Of course, I have three (and sometimes four if Ben is home) great test subjects always at my disposal!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Where Daddy Lives...

Today, the kids and I ventured out to meet a friend down at the Point in Ventura. It was such a perfect beach day....Blue skies, not a lot of wind, but just enough of a breeze. We walked along the water towards the playground, the kids played to their heart's content (or slightly less perhaps), and we enjoyed a snack. We thanked God for such a beautiful day and a chance to play and enjoy His beautiful creation...

Then Caleb said enthusiastically, "Oh Mommy, this is where Daddy lives!!"
Before I could explain...little Miss Emma, "No Caleb, this is where Daddy swims and surfs, in the ocean."

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

More from Life Design...

Life Design is the Bible Study that I attend on Wednesday mornings. I enjoyed posting when we were discussing mercy, so I thought I would try to continue posting and letting people know what we were focusing on during that particular week. Of course, that was 4 or 5 weeks ago, so I have missed a few. Anyway, this week, we were basically discussing Ephesians 4:17-32...which covers quite a bit, including the old self vs. the new self, and how we use our words. Ouch. It is a little ironic, since I spend quite a bit of time during the day saying, "Let's use kind words" or "God wants us to speak kindly to others". And yet it occurred to me during this study how carelessly I use my words sometimes. Not that I am even being mean (or at least not trying to), but using more words than necessary almost always gets us into trouble.
So, here were some of the verses that the Lord is using to remind my heart to be careful, and to think before opening my mouth:

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29

"The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life..." Proverbs 10:11a

"Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning..." Proverbs 10:13a

"When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise." Proverbs 10:19

"The lips of the righteous nourish many..."Proverbs 10:21a

"The lips of the righteous know what is fitting..." Proverbs 10:32a

Of course, there are many, many more. But that ought to be enough to keep my mind meditating and my mouth quiet, for a short time, anyway...