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Carpe Diem

"Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone," Colossians 4:5-6.

Carpe Diem...Seize the Day, in Latin. Is anything really a coincidence in this life, or is it a "God-incidence"...a divinly orchestrated moment? As followers of Christ we must be ready to seize the day and tell others about how Jesus has become Lord of our lives.

A certain situation at work had left me alone in a car for at least a half hour drive with a much older man. He's a little on the akward side and maybe even what some would call "nerdy". As I got in the car, the casual, "Hello, how's your day going?" seemed to be drowned out by a cd playing in the back ground. Not music, but more of a book on tape.

As I began to pay close attention, it was clear what he and now I were listening to: "Why I'm an Atheist". All I needed was a pulpit, because I practically began preaching to the man! I told him how a mere two years ago, I had left religion for relationship and found the love of my life; Jesus Christ.

Although he thwarted most of my statements and questions with "scientific facts", I gave my account. When we parted ways, he told me he envied my faith, but said he was never willing to "go back". He was once a believer and the cards dealt to him had made him decide to leave it all behind.

Whatever the result, I knew I had planted a seed and seized the moment.

What's the latest "coincidence" you've had?

 

Heavenly father,

Help me not to judge, but show others how you've changed my life. Help me to always be ready to give an account.

When I speak about you, keep my words light, yet impactful.

I love you for who you are and everything you do!

1 Peter 3:15

"...And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way..."

Claiming an Orphan, Gifted a Daughter

When my husband and I were in the midst of the adoption process, I recall my heart being struck at the revelation that orphans are a people who have no one to claim them, no one that ever says, “That kid over there, he/she belongs to me.”  

I grew up with a set of parents who worked tirelessly to secure our futures. Now, more than ever before, I am deeply impressed when I recall that I never, ever questioned that Mom would be everywhere she said she would be. She was everywhere for us. I distinctly remember her sitting in her car outside the dance studio, waiting for me, as I practiced most days of the week. As certain as I was that the sky is blue, is as certain as I was that my parents (especially Mom) would be there for me, every day. Her schedule and life were built around ours, not the other way around. Her presence, her promise, like a protective wall around my life.

 

We have two daughters adopted from Haiti, where they lived in an orphanage for six years.  We brought them home in October 2009 at the ages of 16 and 10. (Crazy, bringing home a teenager and a preteen - you betcha!) Of all they things I see in them, one of my favorites is their reaction, when Grandma sends care packages, or an auntie calls for them, or I tell them that someone in the family asked about them. They love the gifts people send (especially Grandma) but the gift itself is secondary to knowing that someone cares about them, thinks about them, and she’s their Grandma for as long as she is with us.

They are no longer two of sixty plus children, well cared for, but claimed by an institution and cared for by an organization. Without a word uttered, their glowing faces communicate vividly, their burning, God given desire to be claimed, to belong and know that someone has established and declared, “You belong to me.”

 

 

I am a wife, full time working parent, step mom to Conor and Jessica, and adoptive mother of two Haitian-American daughters, Fabiola and Fabien.

I love to laugh and my favorite TV show is So You Think You Can Dance. My dream is to spend my retirement years in a third world country, with respite taken often on an American beach.

We live in North Carolina where I hike the Eno River Trails several times per week. I love to encourage people. I love fashion. And on occasion, am accused by my family of being "bossy."

Summer Fun Family Style

Friday will mark the last day of my kid’s 2010-11 school year. While my car is sure to have the stereo blasting “schools out for summer” at pickup on Friday. A little planning ahead can help sustain this anthem and keep any of us from singing or thinking, “we ‘re on a highway to hell” by summers end. Now don’t get me wrong I am not one to make an itinerary for the summer. However I do like to have a few tricks up my sleeve if for no other reason than to keep my kids on their toes. It may be as simple as Sonic fountain drink happy hour just to mix up the day or as complex as a surprise GEOCACHING adventure. Here are just a few thoughts that keep our family’s summer fun.

Be cool: neighborhood sprinkler parks or pools or the beauty of Barton Springs water is one way to please all the whole family. Another cool place for our gang is the movie theater. This summer will offer a variety of blockbusters. There are also great alternatives as well, like Alamo Draft House’s family friendly movie day.

Get outa here: Riding bikes, renting a canoe at the lake, hiking or our new adventure of geocaching all make for a great adventure. Any adventure pleases the heart of my son. Additionally we enjoy movies in the park as well as Round Rock Express games followed by fireworks on Friday nights.

Life is art: Zilker Hillside Theater host performances of dance, theater, and music. Austin has an abundance of local museums, and Zed’s or Shady Grove offer summer concert series not to mention the Austin Symphony concerts at Auditorium shores.

Use it our loose it: We‘ve worked hard during the school year for our children to achieve there goals so the library and half price books are frequent summer stops for our family. We’ve also worked hard for our marriage. So dates are a must. Taking a salsa class or just stealing an hour for coffee we make it happen. After all our time with each other is how we got our family in the first place.

Keeping these in mind I’m sure my family will be singing “unforgettable” as summer ends.

Memories=Love ....Valentine's Day Ideas

Valentine's Day is around the corner and  there's still time to plan and make the day spectacular for those you love most. Longtime Love

  1. Pull out those photos that are piled up in your desk or displayed on your frig. Put  them in chronological order in a small photo album. Write a sentence or two about the occasion pictured and you have just documented your relationship.
  2. Do the unexpected and plan a date doing something he loves and you generally avoid. Whether it is a weekend camping, a hockey game or an afternoon of ESPN, he will know you care when you give up your own interests for his.
  3. Create a  coupon book he can redeem with coupons that include things he loves like:
  • an hour long massage from you
  • breakfast in bed
  • take his car or truck to be washed and detailed
  • sitting with him and watching the movies he loves and you don't (for me that would be war movies)

Children

  1. Develop a traditional Valentine Breakfast and prepare it each year. I've made individual Strawberry Shortcakes for my family for over twenty years. It's a treat reserved only for Valentine's Day.
  2. Hide some treats in your home, give your children clues and have a scavenger hunt in your own home. Follow this link for great  clues that are already written    http://www.pepperspollywogs.com/blog/index.php/a-valentine-scavenger-hunt/
  3. Teach your kids about loving others. Make or buy Valentine cards and deliver them to residents of  nursing home in your area.

Lonely Loved One

  1. Frame a photo of the two of you together. Attach a note that includes I remember when....... and you made me feel....
  2. Set aside a little time to spend with Lonely Loved One.  Someone who feels alone would probably love joining you as you grocery shop or sitting in the car with you while you wait for your child in dance class.

No matter what you do to celebrate Valentine's Day or whom you celebrate with, keep this thought in mind:

Love does not dominate: it cultivates.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

New Year, New You

Have you seen that insurance commercial where the couple backs into a parked car and the guy wishes for an insurance lady?  He finds his wish comes true instantly so both he and his girlfriend wish for a new boyfriend and girlfriend transforming the other into what is their ‘ideal’ look of a mate is – young, buff, short shorts, and sexy.   Once the transformation takes place, the girlfriend asks, ‘So this is what you want?’ How easy life would be if we make a wish and POOF, there it is.  It definitely would make our New Year Resolutions much easier!  So what if we looked at our resolutions a little bit differently.  Instead of trying to change a little bit here or picking up a new goal there, what about just letting go of some things from 2010 instead?  Deleting an ex-boyfriends number from your cell phone or throwing away a memento that reminds you of  ‘that time’ can be quite a cleanser!

One of my favorite shows had an episode that showed a street scene where everyone was carrying luggage; it was a symbol of the baggage we carry with us from relationship to relationship.  Some have small carry-ons while others need a bellman just to help them down the street.  The point is, we all tend to carry a little something with us from each relationship but it’s up to us to decide how large of a luggage we choose to keep.  Of course, there is some good luggage.  But what do you do with the baggage that’s so heavy you can’t seem to take another step into the future?

2011 might just be the year you need to let go of some of that luggage you have held onto that keeps dragging you down.  Take a little step at a time – don’t light a bonfire ladies!  Cleanse yourselves, or your closets, of old memories that only make you sad.  Love letters, keepsakes, phone numbers and yes, even pictures.  You’ll find that actually letting go of things in the past will allow you to take a giant leap into your future that is so bright!  If you don’t, I have to warn you that you might start dating that bellman that’s willing to carry all your baggage….what does that say about him?!

Become a New You this year by letting go of that luggage that’s got you down one at a time.  It’s a New Year so start fresh and get back on the road towards becoming the woman you were created to be, now, while you are single!

The Smaller, the Better

The bigger the better! Right? That is what the American culture stands for.  A bigger car, a bigger house, a bigger yard has to be better. Haven’t you wondered why Americans are still gaining weight when there is so much information about good nutrition available to us? Well, take a look at your plate the next time you go to a restaurant. How many portions do you see?  Have you tried to buy a small candy bar only to realize your only choice was the King Size?  It is not the hamburger that is killing us, but the amount that we eat. You are not imagining things.  According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the size of commonly purchased foods and drinks has dramatically increased over the past 20 years. Take a look at the average purchase:                                20 Years ago                                                               Today

Bagel               3” in diameter, 140 calories                            6” in diameter, 350 calories

Hamburger      333 calories                                                     590 calories

Soda                6.5 oz, 85 calories                                           20 oz, 250 calories

Coffee             8oz w/ whole milk +sugar                               Mocha w/ whole milk+ syrup

                             85 calories                                                       350 calories

Shocking statistics to think about the next time you go out with friends for dinner or have a coffee night.

I was amazed just this past weekend at a local restaurant to see the two kids meals I ordered could have been split between a table of four.  I was pleased when my daughter said half way through, ”I’m full, can I get a “to-go” box.” Of course right now she thinks that it is cool to ask the waiter for a “to-go” box. But I think more of us need to adapt that “cool” philosophy.  I know many times, we think that it is better to just go ahead and eat all of it now, because we will do better tomorrow.  However, dispersing those calories over two, or even three, meals would help control our weight better than eating all of it at one time. Chances are the leftovers will be forgotten and eventually thrown away.

So what are we to do with a world who wants to give us more?

The first thing that we have to do is to actually learn what is in a serving size.  We read the labels that tell us how many calories are in a serving, but what do they look like.  I encourage you to measure your food for a day to see if you are eating the recommendations of a serving size.  For example, 1 cup = size of medium fist: serving of meat = medium-size palm. Begin your meal with the appropriate serving.  There is plenty of research showing that the larger the portion served, the more a person will eat. If it is there, it is too tempting to eat it all.

The following tips will help you stay in control of your portion size:

  • Eat on a smaller plate
  • Ask for a to-go box before your food is served and split it immediately
  • Split a meal with a friend
  • Slow down when you eat and concentrate on your conversation
  • Take a break half way through your meal and evaluate your level of fullness

When I think about portion control, I am reminded of the scripture in Lamentations 3:24.

Just as we do not need to worry about “the cares of this world” because the Lord is our portion;

likewise, take the only portion in regard to food that we need and no more.

To learn more about how to lose and manage your weight with your own personal Wellness Coach, go to www.crystalclearchange.com and for more information or to receive a free consultation contact me at crystal@crystalclearchange.com or 409-550-7606.

Single Girls Night Out

Being single has a lot of perks!  I realized that once I got married.  Yes, marriage is wonderful and I have a wonderful husband whom I love being married to; but it was only after I married did I realize how much freedom I really had.  If I wanted to hop in the car to run to the mall or just have a girl’s night out on the town or even girls night in, I didn’t have to ‘clear’ it with anyone.  I’m not saying it’s wrong at all to ‘clear’ it with my husband because I expect the same from him – it’s an issue of respect and we do respect each other.  But to all the ladies who are struggling in their singleness trying to find that ‘man’, I encourage you to remember your freedom!  Enjoy life and don’t wait for it to begin until your married – take those trips, enjoy girls night out, hang out with other singles, or have dinner and movie night at the house sitting in your pj’s and most importantly, don’t pick your clothes up off the floor unless you want to! There is a life before marriage so no more sulking!  You were born to live not wait to live!  We have but one life so no matter what stage of life you are in, live it to the fullest and enjoy ever minute of it taking in all the wisdom that comes through your experiences.  God has a plan and a purpose for you even now while you are single!

For more on living single with purpose, come to Elevate 10 Conference!