Friday, March 7, 2008

People We Know - Jenae

Sometime around the end of highschool or the beginning of college, I started watching a family of 4 kids, with Jenae being the oldest. I really can't describe her without talking about her family.

After watching her and the other kids for a while I became part of their family. It was no longer "meet our babysitter" but rather "well, she's like a sister." Besides making a couple bucks watching them every once in a while, I'd read to them for school (Liberal Studies!), go to soccer games, swim meets, school programs like circuses, birthday parties, graduations/promotions, see them off for homecoming, go on road trips, and just hang out.

These kids are a crack up! We spent an entire afternoon getting a sticky heart (it was from one of those quarter machines at the supermarket) off the ceiling. I can't remember if it was Mary or Michael who first threw it up there, but I got the idea that we'd put together a bunch of stick items, the last one being a plastic back scratcher with a hand at the end, and try to get it down. Once it was down the kids decided the fun wasn't over and threw it up again. We did this at least 4 times! Here's a video of Jenae working on the heart:

I used to call myself the human jungle gym as every time I entered their door the youngest kids would crawl all over me. One would climb up my back and the other up front. I was even treated as a pet:

These kids have had a huge influence on my life. They are the reason I quit smoking. I only smoked for like a month (call it "experimenting", "rebellion", whatever!). Knowing they looked up to me as an example put the pressure on for me to set the example.

Jenae was the first of the kids I really started hanging out with and somewhat mentoring. We would go out to eat, shop, and even went frisbee golfing once.

She has always been soft spoken and she has an extremely kind and submissive heart. As her dad and mom shelter her, she's a bit naive, but it's good because it's kept her pure - both physically and at heart. She would start and join in any size dog pile all of us could make. I love this girl!

For her 16th birthday party she had an "I Love Lucy" theme. The games were hilarious! Like, "who can eat the most chocolate kisses", and "who can keep the straightest face while drinking some nasty concoction."

Anyway, the reason I'm writing about Jenae is because I am heart broken and need somewhere to organize my thoughts. In watching her grow up and become an adult, I've seen her on fire for the Lord, trying to convert her dad, quoting scripture, and simply maturing in her relationship with her Maker. She's been an inspiration for me.

Well, about a year ago she met her biological father for the first time and made a hasty decision to move in with him, states away, in order to work on having a relationship with him. I know her heart has always wanted to know her father so I can't question her choice.

Since she's been there she hasn't been going to church and her dad has been stating all his non-biblical ideas as fact. When I talked to her today, I asked if she'd found a church. In short, no, and she isn't looking because she's mad at God. She doesn't want to deal with Him right now.


She asked what I felt about that (as tears were welling up in me). What do I think? I wonder if I should have called her more often to encourage her to press into God instead of run from Him. At that moment I wished I had the perfect God-given words to remind her of God's love and heart for her and to knock some sense into her. I somehow felt like I failed her.

Lord, I don't know what to pray as I have no idea what needs to happen to draw her back to You. Light her fire again! Help her stand in this testing of her faith! Give her wisdom and knowledge to combat the lies she's being fed. Hold her in Your hand, sit her still in Your lap. Give her friends and family who truly wish the best for her and who will love and encourage her in her relationship with You. Knock her upside the head! Get her out of the situation she's put herself in. Surround her with Christians. Give her dreams and visions of You that she can't deny. Lord, if she simply has questions, answer them...and if not, remind her that YOU are God - the Maker of heaven and earth, the One Who told the waves they could only go so far, the One Who loved her enough to sacrificed Your Son, her Abba, Daddy...I know this is a crazy season of her life. Let her turn to You in it and know that You orchestrated things the way they are for a reason. Draw her unto Yourself! Fix this!

She's Been Doing this All Morning!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Karrots vs. Avocados II

I gave Karrots some more avocados last night and, as you can tell, she enjoyed them. I'm still feeding her with my finger as the spoon seemed to make a bigger mess as she could grab it and fling it around easier.

I've been given advice to strip the baby down to her diaper for feedings because it will get messy. Babies have a need of sticking their fingers in their mouth to help them swallow so it tends to spread the food around. Well, this little girl figured she'd stick other little parts of her body in her mouth instead...that's right! Toes! And boy were they yummy!! She also tore her bib off in the middle of the feeding session.

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Mocha Parfait!

Going through some OLD recipe books, I found a recipe for ribbon mocha parfait. As it was QUITE outdated, I changed it up a bit. Here's my version:

1 package of chocolate instant pudding mix (serves 6)
3 Tbl. instant coffee (less if you're not a huge coffee fan!)
3 cups milk
2 egg whites
Cool Whip (or any other dessert topping)

In a pan, combine your pudding mix and coffee. Add milk slowly. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Place wax paper over pudding until it return to room temperature. Add in egg whites and 3/4 cup Cool Whip. In goblets or flutes, layer the pudding mix with Cool Whip and chill until ready to serve! I added a mint Milano cookie for fun, but you can also add mint leaves with raspberries or whatever suits your fancy.
I made so much of it that we put it in bride and groom flutes and other goblets for our neighbors.

(Not beautiful, but SOOOO good! Anyone have any tips on how to make it pretty? All I could figure was stick my finger in the glass and wipe off the sides...I'm guessing that whipped cream would be cleaner as it sprays where you want it to go instead of having to scrape it off the top of the glass.)

Warning: Don't eat right before bed, esp. if you're not ADD and have trouble sleeping after consuming caffeine.
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Home-made Bread

I finally did it! We made our first loaf on Monday. I didn't get a picture of the whole thing as we were a bit hungry, so here's a slice of home-made goodness!:

Morning Giggles!

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Splash Time!

She's learning to have fun in her baths! Tonight, after her "meal" I gave her a bath and she just loved to splash around in it! The floor and myself were rather wet by the time I took her out...

Starting Her on Greens!

Today I finally got around to feeing Karrots avocados. She's had a tiny bit of ice cream, applesauce, rice, and cheese, but never as a feeding. Here are some picture of the big event:

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Monday, March 3, 2008

Justice Loves Babies

I'm not sure if you remember my post on this book, Justice Loves Babies, but their website had mentioned the wrong place to purchase the book. After emailing them I found it's for purchase at It's $20 + shipping, so it totals $25.90.

Hope you're planning on supporting them!

The Grace of Pain

I have a few different podcasts I've signed up for. One of them is Cornerstone Simi, where Francis Chan is pastor. Today I listened to a podcast from Cornerstone by Todd Nighswonger called "The Grace of Pain".

He had three seats on stage, representing 3 groups: one has never embraced faith, one has fully embraced faith, and the other is riding on the coattails of the second. Through out his sermon he continually refers to the group that has fully embraced faith and how it is the best seat to be in.

The majority of us want maturity without pain. An example Todd gave was a friend who wanted to lose weight, but didn't want to pain of giving up Bonbons and watching TV.

As he went on, he asked when the last time was we were totally stoked that God saved us from hell. If the greatest joy we are supposed to have is in salvation, why are we not more excited about it? I live life without thinking about it. I know where I'm going when I die, but it's become ordinary, not extravagant.

In this issue of pain, he asked, "Is it necessary?":
"For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good..." 1Peter 3:17
"Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator." 1 Peter 4:19
"Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief..." Is. 53:10 - The will of God was that Christ would suffer.

Do we believe our pain is for God's glory and our good? If God loved us so much to save us from hell, to forgive us our filth so we can spend eternity with Him, why do we question Him when we believe things go wrong? He doesn't love us any less after giving us salvation.

One of the guys at our church had recently had a stroke and was in the hospital for days. It was brought up yesterday that through it God didn't just heal him physically, but healed his family. It had a greater good that only God could have orchestrated.

"For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us." 2 Corinthians 1:8-10

God is not afraid to take away our everything because He knows HE is enough.

"God has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable [relentless] sense." CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain, 30

"It is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less." CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain, 31

"You asked for a loving God: you have one...But he will make you lovable...To ask that God's love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God: because he is what he is, his love must, in the nature of things, be impeded and repelled, by certain stains in our present character, and because he already loves us he must labour to make us lovable." CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain, 35-6

"When we want something other than the thing God wants us to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy." CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain, 40-41

In speaking on the story of Job, Todd gave an illustration. What do you think Job would have said if he had been there when God had given Satan the right to test Job? With God saying, "Go ahead! Job is my faithful servant!", would Job have said, "Hold up!"

Even so, after losing all, Job notes, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21).

"...that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 1:7

Do you protect your children from the refining pain? Is it not best for them to be in the group who has fully embraced their faith? He mentioned a parent questioning what he was teaching when his son came home saying he didn't want to go to college, but instead felt he was called to live with the poor. Are you willing to let God take control of your child's future for His sake?

At the end he gave a story of a friend who may be battling cancer. He called and spoke to his friend's wife. She told him that they sat their children down and explained what was going on and that "Daddy was designed for this, for God to use him for His glory." Wow!

Since getting married I've been afraid of losing a child; whether through a miscarriage or post-birth. I am honestly afraid of what my response would be to such pain and loss. I pray that God gets my heart and my faith in Him to the point where I would pass such a test and to where I would no longer fear because I would know that it was all for God's glory.

How are you with pain? Do you truly believe God gives us pain for our good? Which seat/group would you be in? Have you embraced your faith?

Hillbilly Math

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Avocados & Babies

In surfing other people's blogs, I came across a mother who starts her children on avocados when they start eating solids. I became curious and have looked up reasons why it would be beneficial:

Home-made Baby Food Recipes :

With its smooth and creamy consistency and delicate, nutty flavour, the avocado should be given the title of 'Nature's Baby Food'. Not only is the taste and texture ideal for a baby food beginner, the avocado is an unrivalled, all-round, complete food for infants - with an impressive list of health-giving properties...

Although avocados have a higher fat content than most other fruits (around 20 times the amount, on average), they actually contain health-promoting monounsaturated fats.

These fats are needed by your baby's body for the healthy development of his brain and central nervous system...

Not only is avocado baby food highly nutritious in its own right, avocado actually helps your baby's body more efficiently absorb the nutrients from OTHER fruits and veggies he eats them with!

Back in 2005, an interesting article about avocado was published in the Journal of Nutrition. It revealed that tests had shown how adding avocado to salad and salsa

"...significantly enhances carotenoid absorption"

and that

"...adding avocado fruit to carotenoid-containing meals as a lipid* source can facilitate carotenoid absorption while offering additional nutritional benefits"

...Many parents and some pediatricians question the nutritional value of infant rice cereal - and parents often find that it leads to constipation in their babies. It is now being recognized that there are other nutritious foods that may be better suited to the role of 'baby's first food'.

Without a doubt, the avocado fits that role perfectly - and can be introduced to your baby from 6 months of age. (no bias, I'm sure!)
The avocado's smooth, creamy consistency makes it one of the first fresh fruits a baby can enjoy. Sodium- and cholesterol- free, avocados contain valuable nutrients including 8% of the recommended Daily Value (DV) for folate; 4% DV for fiber and potassium, 4% DV for vitamin E; and 2% DV for iron. A serving of avocado also contains 81 micrograms of the carotenoid lutein and 19 micrograms of beta-carotene. Per serving, avocados have 3.5 grams of unsaturated fats, which are known to be important for normal growth and development of the central nervous system and brain.

...For variety, avocados can be mixed with apple or pear sauce, cooked squash or sweet potatoes.

A blog mentioned this site which explains more benefits.

There's even a book called Avocado Baby:

The Hargraves want their new baby to grow up big and strong, but the puny mite will hardly eat a thing. One day Mrs Hargraves finds an avocado in the fruit bowl and the baby gobbles it up. Soon, the strangest things start to happen.

As I love avocados I find this a great excuse to buy them!

SEARS Photo Studio

We took family pictures for my side of the family yesterday. My dad and my brother actually showed up! We're supposed to be taking family pictures with Big Red's side of the family in May, so here are some things I learned during our time there yesterday.

The guy explained that the price of a Portrait CD went down depending on how much you spent on photos. Without purchasing anything else, it's $119.95. With a purchase of $50 or more, it's $79.99. With purchase of $100 or more, it's $39.99. With purchase of $150 or more, it's $29.99.

What WE did was purchase their cheapest collection, bronze, as it was $10 more than the CD by itself. We liked the idea of having the CD to make as many prints we wanted and being able to manipulate the shots on our own. It was $129.99 for 8 sheets (choose whichever combo you want between 1-8x10, 1-8x8, 2-5x7, 2-5x5, 4-3 1/2x5, 8-wallets) with free enhancements if wanted, the Portrait CD (the guy said it was very good), and 1-10x13. With the coupon we had, he waived the $14.99 session fee and we got a free 10x13. On the CD he also said the greeting cards weren't included, but I figure if we were going to do cards it would be through Snapfish or somewhere we'd be able to make them.

The next collection up was 10 sheets, 1-10x13, 2 collages and the CD for $159.95, so you'd get 2 more sheets and the 2 collages for ONLY $30 more. (I laughed as I mentioned that with purchasing the CD in the other package that we'd be able to do what we wanted with them and make our OWN collages, saving $30.)

The guy also talked my mom into buying a smile station membership which is $5 for the year and you get no session fees and 25% off framed photos. (Like it wouldn't be cheaper to just use a coupon for the session fee and buy a frame at Target...or just go to Target!)

I found the guy a bit annoying as he kept trying to upsell us. "Before you decide, let me show you this package that costs more and tell you how much you'd be "saving" by giving us more money and just not printing the photos at home." Next time we just want one shot I'm hoping to have the gall to speak up and only let them take various shots of the poses we come in wanting so as not to be tempted to purchase more. The guy also only took two shots of the family as a whole (which was the whole reason we were there) so there were only two to choose from, both with my brother not smiling. (Bro - Don't tell me you never smile as we have evidence in our CD that you smiled while holding Karrots!)

Another option without the CD is $7.99 for the first 6 sheets and $2.99 for others (after a coupon), which don't include enhancement prices, which are $7 more each sheet. This option could also be used with the coupon for the free 10x13 and no session fee.

There's also a package which is $9.99 for 36 portraits (1-10x13, 1-8x10, 2-5x7, 16 wallets and 16 minis). This, of course, is for one pose.

I think I will have to get with my sister-in-love to see how exactly they take their photos as most are done at home. Throwing up a sheet as a background I understand, but what about lighting? Anyone have any tips?

Tip: If you are picturing something specific for a shot, mention it. Our photographer only took landscape oriented shots of the family and I had been picturing portrait orientation. Oh well!