When I was growing up, our family rarely went to church, except for Christmas Eve and Easter.
We didn't own a Bible. We didn't listen to gospel music. I had not the slightest clue why Jesus died and rose again, and I doubt the rest of my family did either. We never prayed, never said grace before any meal, and God was simply never mentioned in our home. Not that we had something against Him, but we clearly did not give Him any importance or acknowledgment.
Despite that, I know that God never gave up on me, and I'm so glad about that!
Of course, He gave me plenty of struggles, as I now know they are part of His plan and He knows better than me why He has given me great joy in certain aspects of my life and sorrow in others. But despite the difficulties, I am certain that God is by my side and is the perfect Healer.
I haven't always known that, as I've mentioned. I lived my life my own way for a very long time with lackluster results. Until one day, I decided I should pray.
By then, I was in my late thirties, I hadn't gone to church in at least 10 years (not even on Christmas Eve and Easter as I had done as a child), and found myself in a hopeless situation.
I had lost my voice.
Not just for a couple of days but for good. Several years earlier, I had been diagnosed with a medical condition that made me lose my voice. I had gone through a few doctors and a few surgeries, some resulted in a little improvement and some in no improvement at all. Then, I found a wonderful voice specialist who treated professional singers and even royalty from overseas. He had the best credentials and came very highly recommended.
I was so thrilled after he performed the surgery and I finally had my voice back! It was crystal clear and what a wonderful feeling it was to be able to speak again! My little boy was just 3 months old and finally, he would be able to hear more than a whisper from me. I could sing lullabies, I could talk to him, play with him, it was wonderful!
Until a couple of years after that when, once again, my voice went away and I was down to merely a whisper. I could not even read him a bedtime story because I had barely anything left.
I went to my doctor and he performed surgery on me again. At least, I knew I was in good hands and he would give me my voice back as he had done a couple of years earlier.
But this time, my voice didn't come back.
I was in shock! I panicked, I worried, and I cried. But, not to worry, I was soon again on the operating table ready to have yet another surgery and this time, it would definitely be a success as my doctor would perform a slightly different procedure in order to heal my voice and the scar tissue on my vocal cords.
But, sadly, despite these two surgeries back to back, my voice was still gone with no sign of coming back.
I couldn't believe it! Here was the highest-skilled doctor in this part of the country, he had all the newest tools and used the most innovative techniques. Other doctors from all over the world come to him to get trained. I know he could give me my voice back, so why on earth couldn't I get it back?!
I was in despair. Everywhere I went, I had to bring a pad and paper and write what I wanted. If I stopped at the deli, I would hand out my order on a piece of paper. If I went to the coffee shop, I would write down my order as well. Phone conversations were impossible. Many times, I had to have my husband speak for me because people couldn't hear me. I avoided people and socializing in general. I couldn't be heard in busy places so I stayed home mostly and got together with my girlfriends at home or in a quiet corner of a coffee shop.
Little by little, I became filled with hopelessness. And that's when I started to think about God.
One night, I went to bed filled with despair. I just couldn't handle it anymore and since I believed in God (although I paid Him no attention), I knew in my heart that if I actually prayed to Him, He would hear me.
So, I began to pour out my heart to God. I told Him how sad I was to have lost my voice and not been able to get it back despite being treated by a very capable doctor. I remember telling Him that I knew everything I had was His, including my voice, and for Him to do with it what He wanted. I was surrendering. Tears flew down my face and didn't stop. I cried myself to sleep that night. Then I woke up the next morning and I felt at peace about coming to God. I knew it was the right thing to do.
Then I got out of bed and started getting ready for the day. I opened my mouth...
And my voice was back!!!!!
Immediately, I thought "God was here! He heard me and He healed me!". Everywhere I went, people were shocked and asked me what happened. I told them that I started praying! Ever since that day, I have been giving thanks to God for giving me my voice back. I know that He took it away for a reason, and I appreciate it so much now.
O Lord my God, I cried out to You, and You healed me. Psalm 30:2.
That was 5 years ago, and although I lost it again a couple of years after that, I went back to my doctor and it was restored again. This time, I didn't rely only on my doctor but I actually prayed that God would guide my doctor's hands and give him the wisdom to know exactly what to do. And sure enough, I have now been able to keep my voice for over 2 1/2 years, which is the longest that I have ever kept it after surgery without losing it again so that is a new record for me! I pray that I won't lose it again, but if I do, I know it will be part of God's plan and I will definitely depend on Him to be in the surgery room overseeing each move that my doctor makes.
I know God is the perfect Healer and there is nothing too hard for Him. We just have to stop counting on man alone for help and turn to Him instead. He has perfect strength and wisdom and power, and I am actually grateful that God took my voice away when He did in order that I could come to that realization and have a relationship with Him.
If you need healing of any kind, turn to God. You won't find a physician with credentials that come anywhere close to His!
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. James 5:13-15.
I don't know about you but I sure am seeing pink everywhere lately, and it's a great thing! The best part about it is that it's all for a great cause: breast cancer awareness.
It seems that more attention is paid to it this year than in years past although some of the same promotions have been around for quite a number of years. The pink Yoplait lids are one of them.
I have some Yoplait yogurt in my refrigerator right now and I'll be sure to mail the lids in to Yoplait. For every one of their pink lids that they receive until December 31st, they will donate 10 cents to the fight against breast cancer. It may not seem like a lot but I believe the minimum donation is $500,000 dollars. Not bad!
Also, Saks 5th Avenue is doing its Key for the Cure T-shirt promotion again and this year's t-shirt was designed by Donna Karan. The t-shirt will be available at Saks later this month but only for a short time. Here's a sneak peek:
Yes, that is Uma Thurman and yes, she could wear a rag and look fabulous. :)
The pink ribbons and pink bracelets are everywhere too.
All that pink inspired me to bake some chocolate cupcakes. What does pink have to do with chocolate cupcakes you ask? Well, the pink frosting of course!
Doesn't that look good! That's the kind of look that I was going for... although I had to settle for a plainer version. I'm not quite the expert when it comes to making food look irresistible! Here are mine:
I packed almost 2 dozens to give away and kept a few "extras" at home, which we enjoyed.
My camera doesn't do the pink frosting justice. It was actually vanilla frosting with a couple of drops of red food coloring which gave them a nice soft pink color. They were good, I can tell you that!
You know, most of us women tend to take care of everyone else before ourselves so let's make an effort to be vigilant about monthly self-exams and if a mammogram is recommended, let's not put it off.
I am due for one this year and although I can't say it's something I'm looking forward to, I will get it done. One diagnosis is one too many.
Wishing you a wonderful week ahead! May you see lots of pinks everywhere as a reminder for you to take care of yourself.
Each year, shortly after the start of the new school year, I promise myself that I will get organized. I will tackle the new school year head on and tell the massive amount of paperwork that comes with it exactly where to go. By that I mean I will have a specific place for it to go! There will be a home for every piece of paper that seems to pile up higher and higher each time I look away.
I will neatly file all the graded homework that comes back home, I will find the perfect place to display all of the artwork that Sweet Cheeks does at school, I will have the perfect place to keep all the teacher's notes, weekly calendars, special assignments, spelling lists, school announcements, and so on. I can only fit so many things on my refrigerator door, you know!
Yes, all this organized bliss will be my gift to myself!
And before September is over, I can see all my good intentions flying out of the window!
But I think for now, I will give myself permission to do my best, even though it may not be as good as I would like it to be. I will simply keep searching for the perfect solution to getting myself organized the way I really would like to, even if it takes me a little while.
In the meantime, it's been a while since I shared some of my baking with you and speaking of school, I'll leave you with one of my favorite after-school snacks.
As you can see, I made a huge batch so stop by anytime. I always have cookies to share with a friend!
Lately, I have been very busy, as always. It seems free time is something I don't have very much of, but that's ok. I prefer that than to be bored with nothing to do, don't you?!
One of the many things that keep me busy is our son's sports activities. Actually, it's a family affair since my husband doesn't just watch the action from the stands like I do but he coaches our son's baseball and football teams. The sports here are year-round since we don't get winters. Well, we don't get cold winters I should say!
Last weekend, the baseball team (8 and 9 year olds) traveled to participate in a tournament at ESPN's Wide World of Sports on Disney property. It was 4 days of baseball games where all the boys and families had a chance to spend some fun times together and where great memories were made.
Here are a few pictures:
My little guy, "Sweet Cheeks", getting warmed up in one of the batting cages before a game.
But there was a lot more than baseball on the menu for the weekend. One night, we all went to the Polynesian Hotel for dinner with the team. We took a picture of the boys in the lobby. Aren't they cute!
Another night, we went to Lego Land in Downtown Disney where every child can find any and all Legos their sweet heart desires. (At prices that remind their parents this is Disney World, not the real world!)
The next day, once we were done at the ball field, many of us from the team went to "the happiest place on earth"...
The Magic Kingdom of course!
They had already decorated for fall and as always, their decorations were just beautiful. Right in front of City Hall, we found the Mayor.
And a few others...
It looks like that scarecrow may need a few more catching lessons. ;)
Entering Main Street USA, one of my favorite places to go for a stroll. Since the guys wanted to go on Splash Mountain (not me, thanks!) I decided to take my time on Main Street and catch up with them in a little bit.
Where is this most wonderful smell coming from?
My guess is either the confectionery or the bakery. It could be either of them and the only way to find out is to go in, wouldn't you agree?
So welcoming! She has both doors open for me, how sweet of her. That's probably because after I'm done spending some time in that bakery, I'll need that big of an opening to get out! On second thoughts, I better skip it this time!
The fall decorations were all over Main Street with little touches here and there. On the window boxes...
On window sills...
The lamp posts...
The Mickey balloons were selling like hot cakes on Main Street.
And just as Main Street ended, I arrived at the most famous castle in the world.
Every time I see it, I feel like a little girl again! Cinderella sure lives in a beautiful place.
Speaking of Cinderella, it turns out that she wasn't home at the time because I happened to catch her and her Prince Charming taking part in the parade.
Another famous couple was there too. Don't they look mice? I mean nice!
And there you have it, just a few pictures from our weekend. All the beautiful fall decorations that I saw in Disney World reminded me that I need to start getting ready for fall. They inspired me to make time to put up some pumpkin decorations here and there and even start thinking about Thanksgiving. It will be here before we know it!
Last Saturday, you would have thought that it was Christmas at my house. No, I didn't have any Christmas decorations up or played any Christmas music, or wrapped any Christmas presents. But, there I was busy opening presents that someone wonderful sent me and it wasn't even my birthday either!
In fact, a few weeks ago, I won a give-away. Yes, me! And it was a very special give-away from Sheila at one of my absolute favorite blogs, The Quintessential Magpie. I didn't know what Sheila was giving away because she actually was going to buy something special for me based on the things that I like. She did some snooping around my blog and when she had bought the presents, she emailed me to be sure I was in town before shipping them to me.
I knew that the presents were on their way so last Saturday afternoon, when I saw the mailman park his truck in front of my house and then walk up to my front door holding a couple of boxes, I admit I became all excited!
I brought the presents inside and put down the two boxes. I opened up the first one....
And as I removed some of the packing peanuts, I saw that there was another smaller box inside. I gasped with delight because this is what the box looked like...
An Alice in Wonderland tea-for-one set! I had wanted one for a very long time and I was so thrilled that she knew that this was the perfect thing to get me. :)
I took it out of the box, gently washed it and took it to its new home in my tearoom. Each time I use it, I will think of you Sheila!
Doesn't it look right at home already? A cup of tea in a whimsical teapot and cup like these can't help but brighten up any day! :)
But wait, there's more!
There was a second box, remember?
Right on top was a sweet note that Sheila wrote me. And in the box were two more presents. One looked like this....
Hmmm, what could it be?
A cd of beautiful hymns! I have already played it a few times and love it. It soothes me after a busy day and brings me closer to God. Many of those hymns are actually new to me because I didn't grow up in church so I am mostly familiar with contemporary Christian music, but I truly enjoy them all. I can already picture myself trimming the Christmas tree in a few months while playing this cd. It's just perfect!
You'd think I had been spoiled enough already but there was yet another shiny present to unwrap.
By the way, this was a great job of wrapping and packing. UPS has nothing on Mrs. Magpie!!!
Aaaaah, beautiful plaque, isn't it? The colors are so pretty and the verse always a wonderful reminder of the mighty Savior that we have in Jesus Christ.
Sheila, if you stop by, please know how much I appreciate you blessing me this way with your generosity, thoughfulness and kindness. I have a note in the snail mail on its way to you and even though I've already told you that all your lovely presents made it to my home safe and sound, I wanted to show you just how much you indeed made my day... and week!
Have you watched the news lately? Sometimes I think I may just have to stop. Why? Because it's difficult to see all the bad news that there is to see night after night. It's difficult to see the state of our economy not getting a whole lot better. It's difficult to see people and places being destroyed by fires, earthquakes, floods, and by the enormous amount of oil that spilled in the gulf.
As a Christian, I find myself being asked by unbelievers "where on earth is the goodness of God in all of this? What kind of God lets terrible things happen?". Of course, I know that God is good all the time. I know that God doesn't delight in the affliction that so many suffer and in the slow but steady demise of our planet. But, how do I explain to an unbeliever that God is here, that He sees what is happening and is saddened about it? How do I explain that He cares about and loves all of us? How do I explain God's will to an unbeliever?
Today, I found a great excerpt from C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. He puts it in a context that is quite easy to understand. He writes:
"Christians believe that an evil power has made himself for the present the prince of this world. And, of course, that raises problems. Is this state of affairs in accordance with God's will or not? If it is, He is a strange God you will say; and if it is not, how can anything happen contrary to the will of a Being with absolute power?
But anyone who has been in authority knows how a thing can be in accordance with your will in one way and not in another. It may be quite sensible for a mother to say to her children, "I'm not going to go and make you tidy the schoolroom every night. You've got to learn to keep it tidy on your own". Then she goes up one night and finds the teddy bear and the ink and the French grammar all lying in the grate. That is against her will. She would prefer the children to be tidy. But on the other hand, it is her will which has left the children free to be untidy."
This certainly makes sense. God has given us the freedom to live our lives as we please, but God's will is His perfect plan for our lives. It's to give us hope and a future, not to harm us.
I hope I keep this in mind the next time I have a pity party and feel like asking God "why me?". (It does happen!)
Thank you for stopping by and may you and yours be blessed today and always.
This past weekend, we had such gorgeous weather and we took advantage of it by going for a boat ride. Our little boy (a.k.a Sweet Cheeks) asked if he could bring a couple of friends along for the afternoon and of course, we said yes.
Now, why don't you go grab yourself a nice cuppa and join us for the ride? There's always room for one more!
These were some of the houses that we passed by on our way to the (Atlantic) ocean. They are all very nice but I wonder how early I'd have to get up to clean my house if I lived in any of these. ;)
Now there's something you don't see in many people's backyard. All aboard!!!
You don't see too many of these either, at least not this tall. Beautiful blue!
All right, I can almost smell the ocean now... we're almost there!
This guy might take a while to get there but what a workout that must be.
Call me lazy, but I'm pretty sure I'd rather get there in something like this....
Put my feet up and enjoy the ride! Who's with me?
Is that a sailboat in the distance? Looks like we made it to the ocean!
Who's going first?
Sweet Cheeks gets ready to jump...
And there he goes!
What's that I see up above? Two people who aren't afraid of heights, evidently.
I suppose the view is amazing but I'm willing to take their word for it.
After a swim in the ocean, it's time to start heading back.
Oh look - a vacant lot. With your own beach right out back, that's what I call prime location!
And speaking of location, I can think of worse parts of town for someone to go to church!
This one was getting ready to go on a voyage to Bermuda. We ran into the owners while we stopped to gas up. I hope they had a safe journey!
Barking dogs are not very common on the water so I looked around to see who it was coming from. And there he was, just a little bit ahead of us.
And what was he barking at? You might have guessed it, two of his kind relaxing nearby!
Speaking of animals, I don't think this house is in danger of being burglarized with one of these keeping guard...
He's not exactly the real thing, but he sure looks like it, right?
That's it for now but I hope you enjoyed the boat ride. Let's do it again soon!
Welcome! I am a Christian wife, and a mom to a very active boy. I love to bake, drink tea, sleep in on the weekends but more importantly take care of my family and home. I find that each day brings cleverly disguised opportunities for learning, for sharing, for loving, and for growing closer to the Lord. I hope you'll be blessed by your visit!
"For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody." Isaiah 51:3