child

The Shark Tank

“In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy.  And if they don’t have the first one, the other two will kill you.”   - Warren Buffet Last week as I stood in line at Target I chatted with a woman who was shopping with a daughter the same age as mine.  After a few minutes she asked where I worked and without thinking I answered, “A Shark Tank.”  We laughed and continued our conversation about snacks, short shorts and the long lines that seem to plague all California retailers.

I’ve only been in my new job for 6 months and while I’m enjoying the change of scenery, the change of pace and the new challenges my job has presented; this office has already left a bad taste in my mouth.  One of my first observations when I got here was that everyone was smart and ambitious, just like me.  However, there is a trait missing amongst some of my colleagues – integrity.

Trust and integrity take years to build; projects completed on time, fair prices and billing, promotions for those that work for you.  All it takes is one lie, one bad choice to destroy it all.  Having an “end justifies the means” mentality may get you the result you need in the moment but it could also be beginning of the end.

“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” Proverbs 10:9 (English Standard Version)

I see some of these people rewarded and I know who they have stepped on and over to get their results.  As much as I would love my share of the limelight I know that it’s a path I cannot choose.  When I first decided to take this job I’ll admit I was enticed by possibilities of promotions, new titles and more money.  I will always strive for more, to be better, to grow – it’s who I am, but it’s the path we choose that sets us apart.

“Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.”  Proverbs 28:6 (English Standard Version)

It may take me longer to get where I want to be, but I have faith that things will happen as they should; and I can’t put a price tag on the example I set for my daughter.  At the young age of five, she sees, hears and absorbs everything.  When she is an adult I hope she can be proud of the decisions I’ve made and understand why I made them.

“The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him!”  Proverbs 20.7 (English Standard Version)

Stoplight Prayer:  Father in Heaven, Thank you for making me who I am and giving me direction and correction.  Help me to be a woman of integrity, a woman who lives her life in private the way she lives in public.

Stay In Your Lane

  Several weeks ago I was playing with Wii bowling with my daughter.  The best part of electronic bowling is that it’s impossible to be really bad.  You might get a few gutter balls from time to time, but at least you’ll always stay in your lane.  We were neck in neck as she proudly announced, “I’m a great bowler.  Right Mommy?”  I happily agreed.

After our game was over, she opened her box of Bob books and began reading to me.  “Mommy, I’m a really great reader.  Right?”  Again, I happily agreed.

Twenty minutes later we moved onto singing and dancing to Ava's jams.  She climbed onto the coffee table, microphone in hand, and began singing “All Star” by Smash Mouth at the top of her lungs.  “I’m a great singer.  Right Mom?”  This time I froze.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.  1 Peter 4:10 (New Living Translation)

It’s a natural response to tell your children that they are great at everything they do and that they can be anything they want to be, but there comes a point when you realize that might not always be the best choice.

God gave each of us special gifts and talents that he intended for us to use.  When I was younger I wanted nothing more than to be an actress.  As I grew older, I still wanted to be an actor, but I wasn’t interested in being a starving artist in Hollywood.

I found way to use my gifts working for a non-profit organization.  For a time I traveled the state of Texas doing drug and alcohol prevention school assemblies, it was then that I met a cute teacher who would later become my husband.

While it is good to stretch yourself and grow in the areas you’re not so great at, I encourage you to incorporate your gifts.  Stay in your lane; you never know what kind of surprises He has in store for you when you operate within your gifts.

As for Ava, I told that she was great at a lot of things and that as much and Mommy and Daddy loved to hear her sing there were other things she was so much better at like drawing and making up great stories.

Stoplight Prayer:  Father in heaven, thank you blessing me and making me special and unique.  Please open to door for me to share my gifts with those around me.

Homemade Flour Tortillas

In just a few weeks, summer will  be in full swing.School will be out and summer  camps, swimming parties and sleepovers will begin. As a child ,my siblings and I always spent part of our summer break with our grandparents and that meant antics with the cousins, evenings in the back yard gazing at the stars and of course, family dinners. Flour tortillas, made daily, were served with every meal and younger women learned the art of kneading and rolling from the older women.

Here are four generations of women in our family (circa 1984). On the left is my Mom ,Sarah, holding Karah. I stand behind pig-tailed Kala and Grandma Dora is on the right. Her kitchen was the center of the home and where I learned that food has the power to pull people together.

Fast forward 25+ years. Kala is no longer wearing pigtails but holding her baby girl, Ava ,who was 18 months old when we started teaching her how to maneuver around the kitchen.

Ingredients

4 ½ c. flour

2 t. baking powder

2 1/2 t. salt

1 c. shortening

1 c. hot water

Just a few weeks ago she had her first experience with a rolling pin.

Step 1

Place all dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Add hot water slowly and knead  to make a large dough ball.

Pinch off pieces almost the size of golf balls and create small dough balls. Click here to see a video of this process.Lay each piece on the counter and roll back and forth, then lift, make a 1/4 turn, lay on the counter and repeat 2-3 times until your raw tortilla is more or less round (this takes practice) and no thicker than 1/4 in.

Place on a preheated griddle and cook on either side until light to medium brown spots are visible.

Ideally, you should cool them on a rack. When they're completely cooled off, you  can store them in a large ziploc bag and they won't stick to each other.

Food=family and family =love

I'm a fan of  traditions. They make people  feel safe because they are reminders of WHOSE we are. You can leave your Fingerprint on the lives of others by keeping traditions alive with your biological family, a neighborhood  or workplace family. The important thing is to give life to traditions that create memories of love, laughter and truth.

Mood Lighting

Recently we were going to have a rather large get together in our home and I was a bit worried about how some of the guests would get along. Since the event was at our home I felt a little bold and resolved that since it was at my home it was up to me to set the mood. I was determined that as much as it was up to me I would include everyone. I wanted a spirit of unity among all of these beautiful people that I love so much. Thankfully that is how the night went. Something shifted in my thinking after that. The lighting of a room can set the mood, but the light in the room can shift the atmosphere. Two scriptures come to mind for me

Romans 8

12Jesus once again addressed them: "I am the world's Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in."

Eph 6

12For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.

None of us has the ability to control another person but we do have the choice of what we will agree with. I want what I bring into every situation to be in agreement with what God is wanting me to do. Without a doubt His heart for me is to show His love, His compassion, His grace and mercy. When I bring that atmosphere with me into any situation it can only brighten things up.

This new way of thinking has allowed me to really take notice of whats going on around me. If the mood is yuck I want to shine the opposite in the room. Bringing hope to the hopeless, comfort to the hurting, peace to the weary. The last thing I want to do is go into a room full of worry and agree with it. No I acknowledge it's there and consciously choose not to agree with it but ask God what He wants shining in the middle of it.  I only want to partner with what He is wanting to do not add to any negative mood that's there.

 

Do you find yourself taking on negative attitudes easily?

Consider asking God about those ideas before adopting them as your own.

 

God,

Thank you for your wisdom in this area.

Amen

 

 

Invitation

Romans 4:19-25

 

 Abraham didn't focus on his own impotence and say, "It's hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child." Nor did he survey Sarah's decades of infertility and give up. He didn't tiptoe around God's promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said. That's why it is said, "Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right." But it's not just Abraham; it's also us! The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless. The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God.

 

On the Saturday before Easter I find myself not looking back at the cross of Good Friday but, my thoughts are pulled forward to the celebration of the empty tomb that waits on Sunday morning. Yes, the cross is where His precious blood flowed and, I was made right in His death. “It is finished.” The cross on Friday sets my mind at ease that my debt is paid. However it is the emptiness of the tomb that inspires me to believe for more than simply being in the clear. It dares me to believe for the impossible.

Jesus paid this price and, that seems a waist to me if I only spend my life looking at all I have done and will do wrong. Especially if I focus only on how much I need His redeeming love every day but, never look forward to go after what God's inviting me to do with the new life. This requires that I take my eyes off of my sin and all it cost. In order to look, with a grateful heart, to a living God for what He's saying is possible. This invitation is to a life lived not in fear of sin but, rather with excitement. About a life with a God who has a plan for me. Who wants me to be in His story and, it’s far bigger than what I could've ever imagined for myself. What I would have called myself unqualified for or, would say that my sin had disqualified me to do. God calls me overqualified for because of Jesus.

 

Do you allow yourself to dream big?

Have you ever asked God what His dreams for your life are?

 

 

Jesus, Thank you for the cross .

Thank you God for the empty tomb.

Holy Spirit, open our eyes to what both of these mean.

Amen

 

 

Love is a Choice, not a Feeling

Take a stroll with me into the life of a busy woman.

  • It's 6 A.M. The alarm clock goes off. Do you feel like getting out of bed?
  • It's 7:30 A.M. Do you feel like going to work in all that rush hour traffic?
  • It's 5 P.M. You've had a hard day at work. Do you feel like coming home and preparing a meal for your family?
  • It's 9 o'clock P.M. Your child says: "Mommy, I need you to bake 2 dozen cookies for the bake sale at school tomorrow." Do you feel like baking at 9 o'clock at night?

If you're like me, you answered "no" to each of those questions. I think we all agree that we have to do a lot of things we really don't feel like doing. There's one more "feeling" question that I'd like to ask you. It's plagued my mind lately.

Do you feel like loving that person that is so unlovable?

I confess that I find it easier to work from 9-5 and bake cookies late at night than to love someone that just rubs me the wrong way. You know the kind of person I'm talking about. They're loud, they talk too much, and they're sort of rude and down right obnoxious.

Recently, as I was pondering my feelings about how to love those kinds of people, I was brought back to an old hymn of the church that describes that fateful but victorious day in the life of Jesus. As you read these short verses, try to picture the scene in your mind as it's happening.

They bound the hands of Jesus in the Garden where He prayed.

They led Him through the streets in shame.

They spat upon the Savior so pure and free from sin.

They said, "Crucify Him, He's to blame."

Upon his precious head they placed a crown of thorns.

They laughed and said, "Behold the King!"

They struck Him and they cursed Him and mocked His holy name. All alone, He suffered everything.

Whey they nailed Him to the cross, His mother stood nearby as He said, "Woman, behold they son!"

He cried, "I thirst for water," but they gave Him none to drink. Then the sinful work of man was done.

To the howling mob He yielded; He did not for mercy cry. The cross of shame He took alone.

And when He cried, "It's finished," He gave Himself to die. Salvation's wondrous plan was done. He could have called ten thousand angels to destroy the world and set Him free. He could have called ten thousand angels, But He died alone, for you and me.

Aren't you glad that He said "NO" to his feelings that day and

didn't call angels to save Him. But He chose to love us just the way we are.

Mean Girls, Not In My House

While the movie is truly hysterical to watch (Mean Girls 2004), the theme is all too real for girls today and yesterday for that matter.  We are always trying to remain fashionable, wear nothing larger than a size 5-6 and have the right friends.  It’s unfortunate, but the reality is that many girls, to make sure that they feel good about their situation, will find someone worse off than them and make sure they know it. My daughter is only 4 years old, but as I watch her play on the playground at the park I can already see the beginnings of cliques forming.  The adorable little boy with the glasses swings alone, the girl with un-brushed hair tries desperately to make it pretty with her little fingers and still none of the kids go near her.  It’s sad to watch them draw these lines for themselves at such a young age but it’s worse when their parents do it for them.

Several months ago during a Mommy’s night out, a friend shared a story of how another parent had rudely snapped at her in the school parking lot.  After hearing the story I was appalled.  What gave this woman the right to snap at my friend for a reason that was none of her business?  I wanted so badly to never speak to her during pickup or let my daughter anywhere near her child again.

The next couple of times I saw her I found myself being short and abrupt, and then I realized what I was doing.  I was behaving like a child!  “You’re mean to my friend so I’m going to be mean to you”… what kind of example was I setting?  It wasn’t until a birthday party several weeks later that I found out her mother had been battling the final stages of breast cancer while she was working over seas for extended periods of time.  In fact, her mother had passed away only 2 days before.  I pray I never find out how I would behave if faced with a similar situation.

We all do the best we can for our children and for now I refuse to let my 4-year choose all of her friends.  My mother used to tell me “I can see farther than you,” and she was right.  When she’s older, I hope that her exposure to people of different colors, sizes, religions and economic backgrounds will give her the wisdom to surround herself with diverse friends.  The last thing I want to raise is a Mean Girl.

Cheddar Chicken

This is a great child friendly recipe that is also sure to impress the adults at the table.  Seriously who doesn't love cheese & crackers?  

Prep Time is about 30 minutes so it's great for busy Moms, cook time is 35 minutes and it serves 3 adults comfortably.  I recommend serving with your favorite vegetables and cous cous.

Ingredients:

1 package of chicken (3 breasts)

2 gallon sized freezer bags

1 1/2 teaspoons Braggs Amino Acids OR 1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 teaspoons Pinot Grigio Vinegar

1 egg

30 Ritz crackers

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons butter

 

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Trim your chicken and cuts the breasts in half (not filleted) and put them in a gallon sized freezer bag.

3. Add Braggs, vinegar and egg.  Seal the bag and make sure you've squeezed the air out.

4. Squish the marinade thoroughly in the bag.  Using a kitchen mallet, flatten the breasts so that they are about 3/4 of an inch thick and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

5. While the chicken marinades, fill the other plastic zippered bag with Ritz crackers.  Use a rolling pin to turn the crackers into crumbs.  Pour onto a plate, add cheese and toss with fork.

6. Dip each chicken breast into the cracker and cheese mixture and place onto a lightly sprayed pan.  The bottom doesn't need to be thickly coated, just the top.  Sprinkle remaining mixture onto the breasts.

7. Sprinkle minced garlic and pour melted butter across the breasts.

8. Bake for 35 minutes.

Serves 3

On a side note, I usually skip the butter and just spray with a little olive oil to make the crust stick but last night I treated the family to a little extra fat and boy did it go over well.  I believe my husbands response was, "Dang Baby, this is awesome!  What did you do different?"  While there are ways to "health" this recipe up, it sure is fun AS IS!

Fashioned From the Inside Out

It was Easter Sunday as I dressed my two little girls, ages 3 and 7, for church.  It was the 70’s and Winnie the Pooh dresses, a frilly Easter bonnet, and white patent leather shoes were in style.  At last we were ready to put our hats on and leave for church. That’s when the fight with my three-year-old began.  “I not wearing dat hat,” she loudly proclaimed!  “Of course, you are wearing this hat; this is what I bought for you to wear;  please wear it for Mommy!”   “NO!”  “I don’t like it, I don’t like it,” she screamed.

I couldn’t believe I was having a FASHION tug of war with my three-year-old on Easter Sunday of all times. Thirty minutes later, off to church she marched in the Winnie the Pooh dress, minus the Easter bonnet.  Little did I know that this episode was the beginning of many tug of war matches the two of us would have in the years to come.

The 80’s came along and with them came “the fly bangs.”  “You’d look so cute with straight bangs and a long pony tail,”  I insisted.  “NO!  I want fly bangs.”  And so, I stood back and  cringed as I watched her brush those bangs to the left and right, and then plaster them down with hair spray.  She’d then march out of the house; a very confident eight-year-old that she was in style.

As a parent, I thought it was my duty to introduce her to activities that would enrich her life, as well as prepare her for adulthood.  Thus, I enrolled her in piano lessons.  “NO!”  “That’s not what I want to do!”  “I want to take dancing lessons,” she protested.  Again I insisted, “You need to learn to play the piano so you can be the church pianist when you grow up.”  “Besides, I’m afraid if you learn to dance, you might go to un- Godly places.”  “But,  Mama, I don’t want to be a belly dancer, I just want to dance!”  Of course, she won again.

By eighteen, it was time to think about career options.  Being a schoolteacher myself, I thought it was the perfect job for a woman.  I just knew this child of mine who had been protesting everything I had ever suggested for her to do, starting with the Easter bonnet, would love teaching.  Can’t genetics spill out from me just one time in my life to this child?  But, the all familiar protest of  “NO,  I want to major in Fashion Merchandise.”

And with that, I finally gave up trying to be my daughter’s Fashion Designer, both Inside and OutShe had a mind of her own of what she wanted to wear, as well as what she wanted to become.  But in the process, I learned a very valuable lesson from those tug-of-matches.  The way the limb on a tree is bent, is the way it will grow.  You can’t unbend the limb and make it grow in the opposite way that it was formed.

My little girl is all grown up now and a Mom herself.  Her name is Heather, the creator of CREATED WOMAN,  which is being viewed by thousands each month here in the United States and several countries abroad.

Heather’s vision for this website is to encourage women to become all that God has created them to be both inside and out.  Included in her vision statement for this site, she states:  “Being a Created Woman touches every single part of the world you live in!  Living out your full potential in every stage of your life whether you’re a teenager, college student, single woman or mom, married with children, career woman or grandmother, your life will leave a legacy!”

I have to believe that Heather’s vision started with her saying “No” to an Easter bonnet that she felt was not right for her to wear, and “Yes” to the call of God on her life as she allowed HIM to Fashion Her From the Inside Out to become what He created and formed her to be in my womb.   [Psalm 139:13-16]

What about you?  What are you saying “No” and “Yes” to in order to pursue the plan and purpose that God has bent, shaped, fashioned, and uniquely designed you to be?

Top Tips for Building Self-Esteem in Children

It was Hannah’s first day of school as a “big second grader.”  It seemed only yesterday that I was rocking “Nana’s Sweet Hannah,” the name I call my firstborn grandchild, in my arms.  My daughter and I shed a tear as Hannah walked out the door with her book bag hung over her shoulder. Behind my computer screen via way of Facebook, I felt compassion for Mothers who were sending their “teenage babies” off for their first day of school.  They, too, couldn’t believe that Father Time had slipped up on them.

In the preceding month before the school bell rang for another year to begin, Moms all across America went into high gear preparing their children for that first day:  orientation meetings were attended, hours were spent buying new clothes and school supplies, the pantry and refrigerator were stocked with lunches.  At last, Mom and child were ready -  let the school year begin.

May I take this opportunity to ask you a few questions about another much needed preparation that might have slipped your mind in the midst of the hustle and bustle?

Did you prepare your child for:

  • the bully they are sure to meet at school or on the bus
  • the time that they are chosen last for an activity or not chosen at all
  • the time that they are made fun of because of a disability
  • the time that they hear a cruel remark about their appearance
  • the time that they fail a test, despite how hard they studie

It is these type of things that can cause a child’s self-esteem to spiral downward, and they cease to see themselves as someone who is loved, valued, and having worth.  Obviously, parents cannot lock their child in a cage and shelter them from the world around them. However, parents owe it to their children to build a self- confidence in them that cannot be shaken when demeaning acts of unkindness cross their paths.

Allow me to offer a few tips for building Self-Esteem in children.

  1. Instill in Your Child the Way God Sees Them - Start each day with scriptures showing him how special he is to God.   1. God’s love for you is higher than the heavens (Ps. 108:4)    2. God created you with a beautiful body (Ps. 139:13-14)    3. God calls you his Friend  (John 15:15)   4. God chose you  (Eph. 4:1)  5. God created you with special abilities (Romans 12:6)
  2. Point Out Strengths You See in Him - Often time’s children do not recognize their own abilities.  Not only tell them things you have noticed they are good at doing, but write them out and pack one a day in his book bag for him to read during the day.
  3. Teach Him that Losing Does not Make Him a Failure - Children love winning.  However, losing is a normal part of life. When he fails a test, seize the opportunity to help him develop better study habits.  When he loses a ballgame, use it as a time of learning about good sportsmanship, not drowning in defeat.
  4. Encourage Him to Help Others - As adults, we realize that one of the most fulfilling moments of our lives is when we help others.  One of the best ways to promote this idea in children is to encourage him to be a friend to:  the new kid at school, the child that is purposely left out of activities, the child with a disability, going with a child who is being bullied to tell an adult.  Not only does this make the “other child” feel accepted and valued, but it makes your child have a feeling of worth, knowing he has helped someone.
  5. Instill in Him an Attitude of Thankfulness - Set aside a time each day for him to give thanks for:  the way he looks, the abilities he has, how much God loves and values him, and most of all teach him to be thankful for “just being me.

One final tip that I am sure you do not need to be reminded of:

 Send your child off to school everyday with a big hug.

 Have a good school year with your child and enjoy the ride before these precious years have passed you by.