Monday, February 27, 2012

He Acts Just Like His Mother... oh, that would be me

Did you ever have one of those moments when you don't know what to say?  When all you can do is stare at someone and mentally try to figure them out?  

That's how I ended up at supper tonight. My gang and I were having one of our typical family dinners: three conversations at once and general silliness running rampant.  I don't remember what Matthew said but I remember it involved the movie "Aliens".  

Matthew is usually the most laid-back of my kids, quietly observing and making conversation or talking non-stop about technical things.  

His comment on that movie threw me for such a loop that I could only look at him .... and look at him.  After a few minutes Amanda handed him the camera and he took my picture.  

He was laughing at my expression... I was trying to figure out where that thought came from.

Should I worry that my children have inherited my ... oddness?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Yay!!! It's Eat Chocolate Without Guilt Day!

Yup, it's that day.  The day when we not only can eat all the chocolate we want, but when our loved ones actually go out and BUY IT FOR US!!!  How sweet is that?  If you're lucky, you might even get some roses.  The questions remains, which is better? Real roses or bacon roses?  Hmmm... tough one...

My Sweetheart and I won't be together for Valentine's Day.  I would love to be with him but I can guarantee that he and I will be engaged in longer and more meaningful conversations than most couples.  This is one of the benefits of a long distance relationship... talking so often about so much that we know each other better than couples who have been together for decades (we know this from experience).  One of the side-effects is that we talk A LOT!  Johannes is a gabby person and I am Irish - 'nuff said.  We can talk for hours...and hours... and hours.  

And we do.  

Sleep is for little people anyway.
Sidenote - Do you ever wonder how this day went from children making adorable little valentines for their classmates to men deciding the perfect gift "for their spouse" is this:


Really, how is this OUR gift?

And now for some interesting tidbits I found over at "It thing".
1. In reality, there were actually three St. Valentine’s. One was a priest, one a bishop and one little is known about except he was a martyr. The stories of the priest’s and bishop’s martyrdom are so closely related it is difficult to tell which St. Valentine the Holiday is named after.

2. According to legend it was St. Valentine himself who sent the first valentine in the form of a letter to his jailer’s blind daughter with whom he had fallen in love. Just before he was put to death at the hands of King Claudius II for marrying the kings soldiers without the king’s permission he penned a note to his love and signed it: From your Valentine.
3. It is believed that a mount Holyoke college student by the name of Ester Howland created the first lace valentine in the United States from lace, ribbon and colorful pictures. She has become known as the Mother of the Valentine.

4. Teachers receive more valentine cards than anyone else, even children.
5. More than 650 million valentine cards are exchanged by children from ages 6-10 each year. Most of these cards are bought in the last 6 days leading up to Valentine’s day.

6. Each year the city of Verona Italy receives more than 1000 valentine’s addressed to Shakespeare’s Juliet. It really is amazing how much affection a dead fictional character can attract.
7. It was once believed that if a woman saw a flying robin on Valentine’s day she would end up getting married to a sailor. If a sparrow was the bird she saw she would end up marrying a man that was poor and live a happy life, if she saw a goldfinch then she was to marry a man that was a millionaire. One can only wonder who she would marry if she saw a crow.

8. In 1929 at the height of prohibition Al Capone ordered the killing of members of a rival gang run by Bugs Moran in Chicago on Valentines Day. Authorities were unable to find any real evidence to tie Capone to the crime and he was never arrested or tried for the murder of these seven men. Instead he served his time for tax evasion.
9. More than 9 million pet owners buy gifts for their pets for Valentine’s day. Now that is what can be called real puppy love.

Valentine's Day Monkey Amigurumi
Isn't it adorable?
10. It is estimated that 15% of the women in the United States who receive flowers for Valentine’s day send them to themselves. There are no figures that tell how many of these women are married, single or in a relationship.

The Love Dare - Day Forty

Love Is a Covenant

Congratulations.  You’ve reached the end of the Love Dare – the book.  But the experience and challenge of loving your mate is something that never comes to an end.  It goes on for the rest of your life.

This book may end at Day 40.  But who says your dare has to stop?  And as you view your marriage relationship from this point on, we challenge you to consider it a covenant instead of a contract.  These two words sound similar in meaning and intent but are in reality much different.  Seeing marriage as a contract is like saying to your spouse, “I take you for me and we’ll see if this works out.”  But realizing it as a covenant changes it to say, “I give myself to you and commit to this marriage for life.”

There are many other differences between covenants and contracts.  A contract is usually a written agreement based on distrust, outlining the conditions and consequences if broken.  A covenant is a verbal commitment based on trust, assuring someone that your promise is unconditional and good for life.  It is spoken before God out of love for another.

A contract is self-serving and comes with limited liability.  It establishes a time frame for certain deliverables to be met and accomplished.  A covenant is for the benefit of others and comes with unlimited responsibility.  It has no expiration date.  It is “til death do us part.” A contract can be broken with mutual consent.  A covenant is intended to be unbreakable.

And then there’s marriage – the strongest covenant on earth between two people, the pledge of a man and woman to establish a love that is unconditional and lasts a lifetime.  In marriage, your wedding ring represents your covenant vows – not merely commitments you hoped to keep but premeditated promises, publicly spoken and witnessed by others.

As you’ve read numerous times in these pages, keeping this covenant is not something you can do in your own strength. There’s good reason why God was the One who initiated covenants with His people.  He alone is able to fulfill the demands of His own promises.  He alone is able to forgive the receivers of His covenant when they fail to uphold their part of the agreement.  But the Spirit of God is within you by the virtue of your faith in His Son and the grace bestowed upon you in salvation.  That means you now can exercise your role as covenant keeper, no matter what may arise to challenge your faithfulness to it.

Especially if your spouse is not in a place of receiving your love right now, the act of covenant keeping can grow more daunting with each passing day.  But marriage is not a contract with escape clauses and exception wordings.  Marriage is a covenant intended to cut off all avenues of retreat or withdrawal.  There’s nothing in all the world that should sever what God has joined together.  Your love is based on covenant.

Every marriage is called to be an earthly picture of God’s heavenly covenant with His church.  It is to reveal to the world the glory and beauty of God’s unconditional love for us.  Let His words inspire you to be a channel of God’s love to your spouse.

The time is now, man or woman of God, to renew your covenant of love in all sincerity and surrender.  Love is too holy a treasure to trade in for another, and too powerful a bond to be broken without dire consequences.  Fasten your love afresh on this one the Lord has given you to cherish, prize, and honor.

Your life together is before you.  Dare to take hold of it and never let go.

We dare you.

Today’s Dare

Write out a renewal of your vows and place them in your home. Perhaps if appropriate, you could make arrangements to formally renew your wedding vows before a minister and with family present.  Make it a living testament to the value of marriage in God’s eyes and the high honor of being one with your mate.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Love Dare - Day Thirty-Nine

Love Endures

Of all the things love dares to do, this the ultimate.  Though threatened, it keeps pursuing.  Though challenged, it keeps moving forward.  Though mistreated and rejected, it refuses to give up.

Love never fails.

Many times when a marriage is in crisis, the spouse who is trying to make things work will go to the other, declaring in no uncertain terms that no matter what has happened in the past, he or she is committed to this marriage.  Their love can be counted on to last.  They promise.  But not wanting to hear this yet, the other spouse holds their position.  They still want out. They don’t see this marriage lasting long-term.  Nor do they even want it to anymore.

The partner who has just laid his or her heart on the line, extending the olive branch, can’t handle the rejection.  So they withdraw their statement.  “Fine.  If that’s the way you want it, that’s the way it’ll be.”

But if love is really love, it doesn’t waffle when it’s not received the way you want it to be.  If love can be told to quit loving, then it’s not really love.  Love that is from God is unending, unstoppable.  If the object of its affection doesn’t choose to receive it, love keeps giving anyway.

Love never fails.


When you have done everything within your power to obey God, your spouse may still forsake you and walk away.  But if your marriage fails, if your spouse walks away, let it not be because you gave up or stopped loving them.

Love never fails.

So today your dare is to put your unfailing love into the most powerful, personal words you can.  This is your chance to declare that no matter what imperfections exist – both in you and in your spouse – your love is greater still.  No matter what they’ve done or how often they’ve done it, you choose to love them anyway.  Though you’ve been far from steady in your treatment of them over the years, your days of being inconsistent in love are over.  You accept this one man or woman as God’s special gift to you, and you promise to love them until death.

You’re saying to your spouse, “Even if you don’t like what you’re reading – even if you don’t like me – I choose to love you anyway.  Forever.”

Because love never fails.

Today’s Dare

Spend time in personal prayer, then write a letter of commitment and resolve to your spouse.  Include why you are committing to this marriage until death, and that you have purposed to love them no matter what.  Leave it in a place that your mate will find it.

The Love Dare - Day Thirty-Eight

Love Fulfills Dreams

What is something your spouse would really, really love?  And how often do you ask yourself that question?

Common sense tells us we can’t give our wife or husband everything they might like.  Our budgets and account balances tell us we probably couldn’t afford it anyway.  And even if we could, it might not be good for us.  Or for them.

But perhaps you’ve let “no” become too quick a response. Perhaps you’ve let this negative default setting become too reasoned and rational, too automatic.  What if instead of dismissing the thought, you did your best to honor it.  What might happen if the one thing they said you’d never do for them became the next thing you did?

Love sometimes needs to be extravagant.  To go all out.  It sometimes needs to set aside the technicalities and just bless because it wants to.

Well, how about putting your heart in it.  How about developing a new level of love that actually wants to fulfill every dream and desire you possibly can.

Not everything your spouse wants has a hefty price tag.  Not everything he or she desires can be bought with money.  Your wife may really want your time.  She may really want your attention.  She may really want to be treated like a lady, to know that her husband considers her his greatest treasure.  She may really want to see in your eyes a love that chooses to be there no matter what.

Your husband may really want your respect.  He may really want you to acknowledge him as the head of the house in front of the children.  He may really want you to put your arms around his neck for no apparent reason, surprising him with a long kiss or a love note when there’s not even a birthday or anniversary to justify it. He may really need to know that you still think he’s strong and handsome, the way you used to.

·        Dreams and desires come in all shapes and sizes.  But love takes careful notice of each one.

·        Love calls you to listen to what your mate is saying and hoping for.

·        Love calls you to remember the things that are unique to your relationship, the pleasures and enjoyments that bring a smile to the other’s face.

·        Love calls you to give when it would be a lot more convenient to wait.

·        And love calls you to daydream about these opportunities so regularly that their desires become yours as well.

We dare you to think in terms of overwhelming your spouse with love.  To surprise them by exceeding all their expectations with your kindness.  It may or may not be a financial sacrifice, but it needs to reflect a heart that is willing to express itself with extravagance.

What is something your spouse would really, really love?  It’s time you started living out the answer to that question.

Today’s Dare

Ask yourself what your mate would want if it was obtainable. Commit this to prayer, and start mapping out a plan for meeting some (if not all) of their desires, to whatever level you possibly can.

The Love Dare - Day Thirty-Seven

Love Agrees in Prayer

If someone told you that by changing one thing about your marriage, you could guarantee with near 100 percent assurance that your life together would significantly improve, you would at least want to know what it was.  And for many godly couples, that “one thing” is the daily practice of praying together.

To someone who tends to devalue spiritual matters, this sounds fairly ridiculous.  And if told that shared prayer is a key ingredient in marital longevity and leads to a heightened sense of sexual intimacy, they would think you had really gone too far. But the unity that grows between a man and woman who regularly pray together forms an intense and powerful connection.  Within the sanctuary of your marriage, praying together can work wonders on every level of your relationship.

When you were joined together as husband and wife, God gave you a wedding gift – a permanent prayer partner for life.  When you need wisdom on a certain decision, you and your prayer partner can seek God together for the answer.  When you’re struggling with your own fears and insecurities, your prayer partner can hold your hand and intercede on your behalf.  When you and your spouse are not getting along and can’t get past a particular argument or sticking point, you can call a time out, drop your weapons, and go with your partner into emergency prayer.  It should become your automatic reflex action when you don’t know what else to do.

It’s hard to stay angry long with someone for whom you’re praying.  It’s hard not to back down when you’re hearing your mate humbly cry out to God and beg Him for mercy in the midst of your heated crisis.  In prayer, two people remember that God has made them one.  And in the grip of His uniting presence, disharmony blends into beauty.

Praying for your spouse leads your heart to care more deeply about them.  But more importantly, God is pleased when He sees you both humbling yourselves and seeking His face together.  His blessing falls on you when you agree in prayer.  It pulls you both back toward your real center.  It places you on common ground, face-to-face before the Father.  It restores harmony in the midst of contention.

But prayer is for a lot more than breaking up fights.  Prayer is a privilege to be enjoyed on a consistent, daily basis.  When you know that prayer time awaits you before going to bed, it will change the way you spend your evening.  Even if your prayers together are typically short and to the point, this will become a standing appointment that you can orbit your day around, keeping God in the middle of everything.

It’s true that beginning a habit like this can initially feel awkward and uncomfortable.  Anything this powerful will surprise you with its weight and responsibility when you actually try doing it.  But bear in mind that God wants you to engage with Him – invites you, in fact – and He will grow you as you take it seriously and push past those times when you don’t know what to say.

You’ll look back at this common thread that ran through everything from average Mondays to major decisions and be so thankful for this “one thing” that changed everything.  This is one area where it’s imperative that you agree to agree.

Today’s Dare

Ask your spouse if you can begin praying together.  Talk about the best time to do this -- whether it’s in the morning, your lunch hour, or before bedtime.  Use this time to commit your concerns, disagreements, and needs before the Lord.  Don’t forget to thank Him for His provision and blessing.  Even if your spouse refuses to do this, resolve to spend this daily time in prayer yourself.

The Love Dare - Day Thirty-Six

Love is God’s Word

For some people, the Bible seems just too big to understand.  It’s like an impossible challenge.  They don’t know where or how to begin.  But as a Christian, you’re not left alone to try grasping the major themes and deep meanings of the Bible.  The Holy Spirit, who now lives in your heart by the way of salvation, is an illuminator of truth. And because of His internal lamp, the Scriptures are now yours to read, absorb, comprehend, and live by.

But first, you’ve got to commit to do it.

Be in it.  If this is not already a habit of yours, now is the time to begin reading a portion of the Bible every day.  Ideally, read it together as husband and wife – in the morning, perhaps, or before bed. 

Stay under it.  You’re right; the Bible can be deep and challenging.  That’s why it’s so important to be part of a church where the Word is faithfully taught and preached.  By hearing it explained in sermons and Bible study classes, you’ll get a broader, more balanced view of what God is saying through His Word.  You’ll also get to join with others who are on the same journey you are, wanting to be fed by the truths of Scripture. 

Live it.  Unlike most other books, which are only designed to be read and digested, the Bible is a living book.  It lives because the Holy Spirit still resonates within its words.  It lives because, unlike the ancient writings of other religions, its Author is still alive.  And it lives because it becomes a part of who you are, how you think, and what you do.  

Jesus talked about people who build their lives on sand – their own logic, their best guesses, the latest reasoning.  When the storms of life begin to blow (which they always will), foundations of sand will only result in total disaster.  Their houses may light up and look nice for a while, but they are tragedies waiting to happen.  Ultimately they collapse.

When your home is founded on the rock of God’s unchanging Word, it is insured against destruction. That’s because God has the right plan for everything, and He’s revealed these plans in His Word.  They’re right there for anyone who will read it and apply it.

Every aspect of your life that you submit to, God’s principles will grow stronger and more long-lasting over time.  But any part you withhold from Him, choosing instead to try your own hand at it, will weaken and eventually fail when the storms of life hit you.  It may, in fact, be the one area that hastens the downfall of your home and marriage.

Wise couples build their houses on the rock of God’s Word. They’ve seen what sand can do.  They know how it feels when their footing gets soft and the foundation gives way.  That’s why must determine to build your life and marriage on the solid rock of the Bible, and then you can plan on a stronger future – no matter how bad the storms get.

Today’s Dare

Commit to reading the Bible every day.  Find a devotional book or other resource that will give you some guidance.  If your spouse is open to it, see if they will commit to daily Bible reading with you.  Begin submitting each area of your life to its guidance and start building on the rock.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Blooming Lollipop Card

I found this cute idea at Homemade Simple. I thought these  three-dimensional paper flower cards  are so adorable and wanted to let those with children know about it.  I know my kids would have loved this when they were younger. 

Downloadable templates 
Scrapbook paper
Craft paper
Glue stick
Pen, paint pen or marker


  1. After cutting out the two templates, lay the larger of the two on a piece of solid-colored craft paper— pink and red are perfect for the occasion—and trace the outline onto the paper. Cut out the shape.
  2. Trace the outline of the smaller template onto a piece of Valentine’s Day patterned scrapbook paper and cut out the shape.
  3. Use a glue stick to apply a coat of glue to the back of the patterned craft paper cutout (the smaller piece). Glue this on top of the larger solid-colored cutout so that the smaller cutout is now perfectly centered within the larger one.
  4. At this point, have your child write a special Valentine’s Day note to a friend or classmate. This can be done on the petal of the card or you can glue a strip of paper to the lollipop with a personalized message.
  5. Poke a hole in the center of the paper heart petals and push the stick of a lollipop through it to act as the stem of the flower.
  6. Bend the petals of the flower upwards using the dotted lines from the petal template as your guide, and your card is complete!
Tips for Personalization:
  • To make each card unique, purchase a variety of seasonal scrapbook papers and lollipop flavors so that no two cards are alike. Feel free to repurpose materials like newspaper and book pages as substitutes for craft paper.
  • Metallic pens, paint pens and markers are great for letting kids personalize each card with a special message. Try using a variety of colors like white or pink.
  • Consider making your cards shimmer with glitter glue, or add texture with puffy paints. Try using a yellow puffy paint to add a polka-dot effect to the petals of the flower.