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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tips on Tuesday: I STILL Choose Joy (part 2)

Last week in my Tips on Tuesday post, I talked about how I've really been focusing in on the idea of choosing joy. The whole idea that Happiness is a fleeting moment in time that once it happens is gone and will never return. Joy is an underlying foundation of feeling where you choose to have joy even when your circumstances (or your feelings) are sad.

I truly believe God agrees with this because when I look up the word Happy in Strong's Concordance, it appears 27 times (approx. 1/3 of one column). When I look up Joy in Strong's, it takes 2 full columns which I estimate to be about 160 times. Then I checked on the word Rejoice (Rejoiced, Rejoiceth, Rejoicing) which take 3 1/3 columns in Strong's.

Which brings me to another thought that a pastor shared with us once. We find happy in the Bible, but there is no word 're-happy'. That goes to the point that happiness is a one time event and the feeling is gone. But joy endures. Not only can you have joy, you can then go back and relive the joy by rejoicing. I believe God likes us to be in joy that He lets us have it again when we rejoice. We learned in school that 're' means 'again' so when we rejoice, we again-joy or joy-again. I hold onto those words in dark moments of dispair and sadness in my life. I remember that God has told us to not just have joy, but to rejoice.

I promised some of my favorite joy scriptures and here are some of them. By far, the one that I cling to the most is: Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, "Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4*  I learned a song as a child at camp that is based on this verse. It is sung in a round so that while you are singing you hear the word Rejoice, Rejoice over and over. Call me up and I'll teach it to you if you don't know it. It runs on the repeat track of my brain many hours of many days.

Probably my second favorite joy scripture is the second half of Psalm 30:5: For His anger endureth but a moment, and in His favor is life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

I cling to that thought--weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. (I know a song for this one, too--big shock, I'm sure.) The song "I'm Trading My Sorrows" speaks to this. It says I'm trading my sorrows, I'm trading my pain, I'm laying them down for the joy of the Lord. Think about that--we can choose to lay down our sorrow, pain, sickness, shame (those words are later in the song) and have the joy of the Lord.

I find some of my least joyful and most unhappy moments are in the middle of the night. I have spent the wee hours of the night crying out to the Lord and repeating to myself over and over, "Joy comes in the morning." And you know what? When the sun rises and morning breaks, it creeps into the darkness of the night and into the darkness in my soul to bring that joy that comes from the light and the love of God.

Here are some of my other favorite joy scriptures:
The joy of the Lord is my strength. Nehemiah 8:10

This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil, but to the counselors of peace there is joy. Proverbs 12:20

His lord said unto him, `Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy lord.' Matthew 25:21

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (NLT) Galatians 5:22

I hope you can take these verses (or some of the hundreds of others in the Bible) and make them your own. Hold tight to your joy. Let happiness fly away because happiness won't last....but joy will endure forever and ever.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say REJOICE!

*All scriptures quoted are from the 21st Century King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter 2011

Jesus cried out, “It is finished.”

Darkness fell over the whole land. The veil in the temple was split from top to bottom. The earth shook.

“Certainly this man was innocent.”

“Woman, why are you weeping?" She turned and Jesus was standing there.

“Peace be with you.”
He showed them His hands and His side. “Blessed are those who did not see, and believed.”

“Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”
“For by grace you have been saved thru faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” Ephesians 2:8

Jesus was crucified on the very cross that He carried.
He allowed it.
He allowed it for you.
Jesus rose from the dead.
He rose for you.

Believe Today.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments that take our breath away.

Sean & I sent out Nathan & Rebekah to get in the car and get buckled. First off, we thought they would get into my van (as is the normal protocol) and buckle in. When we came out, we see these two monkeys in the front seat of Sean's van 'driving' themselves around the imaginary town.

Nathan had to check himself out in the mirror on the sun shade.

Rebekah looks bored with Nathan's driving. Ha ha!

We got them into their seats (in the back) and buckled in so we could leave. Probably should have scolded them, but we were laughing too hard.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tips on Tuesday: I Choose Joy

Recently I've been focusing on finding joy in all things. I have been meditating on scriptures referencing joy and a few seminars I've recently been to indirectly shed more light onto the subject of joy.

One of the biggest 'Ah-ha' moments has been realizing that happiness is not the same a joy. Happiness is an isolated event or moment in time. When that moment or event is over, the happiness is gone.

Joy is a decision and a lifestyle and an emotion that is constant and enduring. Joy doesn't come from a specific event or moment, joy comes from within. Joy is an overlying attitude towards life. I don't have to be happy to have joy. Doesn't that sound crazy?? It sounds ludicrous, but it is absolutely true. I don't have to be 'happy' to have 'joy'. I can be joyful even in the midst of sadness or bad circumstances.

Next week I'll share some of my joy-filled scriptures with you. But for now, I encourage you to think about happiness versus joy. Choose to be joyful in all things--no matter what the circumstances.

Let me know your thoughts on happiness vs. joy.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Zoo Trip with Poppa and Grandma

Here are my monkeys at the zoo.

The new giraffe exhibit was amazing. We got some lettuce leaves to feed the giraffes. Andrew was grossed out by the giraffe saliva (gross spit as he called it), but Rebekah and Nathan seemed amazed by the long tongues.

Daddy holds Rebekah up to feed a giraffe.

Go Nathan, go! Wasn't sure if he'd like feeding the animals or not. He did great. His biggest problem was that he didn't want to run out of lettuce, so he was breaking off minuscule pieces for the poor animals. They'd starve waiting to get enough from him. I finally convinced him to go with larger pieces.

Andrew's last leaf for a giraffe. Too much gross spit.

Grandma almost got a giraffe kiss.

Even Robyn got in on the act.

Cute Nathan climbing rocks.

Mega-watt smile. She loved feeding and petting the giraffes.

Carousel Ride

Too cute for words. Poppa and Grandma holding Rebekah's hand with Nathan scampering ahead.

Finally got all three of them together.

It was a gorgeous day and we had a blast. We covered a lot of ground and saw some animals we don't normally see. Most of all, we got to wander around with Poppa & Grandma and have a great time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Cobra snake & Rebekah - Who is charming whom?

Nathan & the Cobra--he's too cool to be anything but calm.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tips on Tuesday: Scentsy Fundraiser to help Team NATHAN

We are about halfway through Autism Awareness month and as of today, Nathan is in 4th place for fundraising for the Autism Puzzle Walk. We have our eye on 2nd place to win him an iPod Touch. I just learned about all kinds of ways to use this technology to help him navigate at middle school and high school.

In the midst of this, a dear friend contacted me about her Scentsy business. Her daughter and Nathan have been in classes together in the past and Nathan loves her daughter M. They wanted to help Nathan as well and Scentsy has a warmer every April where 100% of the proceeds go directly to Autism Speaks (another organization that the Autism Society is partnering with to help write legislation to help our kids/adults/families). Beyond that, she is setting up an online party where she is donating 10% of her profits directly to Team NATHAN.

Below is a picture of the Autism Speaks Fundraiser warmer. If you've never been to a Scentsy party before, the premise is simple. These are wickless and flameless candles. Everything is done using a warmer and a low-wattage light bulb. From the Scentsy website:
Unique Scentsy warmers use a low-watt bulb to melt the specially formulated wax slowly, maximizing the fragrance time of the Scentsy Bar or Scentsy Brick. With no flame, soot or wick, the Scentsy system is a safe way to enjoy more than 80 Scentsy fragrances.

How to use a Scentsy warmer
Plug it in. Turn it on.
Place one or more sections of your Scentsy Bar into the dish.
Enjoy the Scentsy feeling!

How to change a Scentsy fragrance
Completely melt the wax in the dish.
Pour the melted wax into its original packaging to reform the wax.
Clean dish with a paper towel.
Store used bar in a cool place or discard.
If you've never smelled their fragrances, you are missing out!!! I have a favorite scent in each category. Love the Sticky Cinnamon Bun and Black Raspberry Vanilla and Mediterranean Spa and Lilacs & Lavender.

To order and support Team NATHAN, head over to her Scentsy website and click on the Autism Speaks Fundraiser. Remember, no matter what you order, a portion will be donated to Team NATHAN. And for frugal minded folks, if you live locally in my area, email me directly so we can arrange for you to pick up (or possibly for me to deliver) your order to you so you can save paying shipping & handling.

NOTE: To save the shipping and handling fee, you can not order online, you must email me directly and we'll make the arrangements.

Thank you for your support of Team NATHAN. I hope you'll consider purchasing some Scentsy items for yourself knowing a portion will come back to Team NATHAN.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mini Golf Fun

Spring Break was wonderful!!! Wish it could have lasted forever...
We got to visit our Poppa & Grandma S. and crammed a lot of fun into our time with them. On the way into town, we saw the Statue of Liberty from the road...and a immediately started asking to go to THAT mini-golf place.

So our first full day found us mini-golfing. We meant to get back, but weather conspired against us when we had planned to return. We did wonders around the world.

Sean putts through the 'guards' who did a lovely job of marking the entrance.

Then Rebekah stood for a brother salute.

Go Rebekah, Go!!!

Grandma joined Rebekah under the elephant. In summer, you couldn't get so close to the pachyderm as it would be standing in a big water hazard.

Rebekah & Mom at the Statue of Liberty.

Poppa and Nathan wait their turn.

We had an excellent time and everyone (even Rebekah) managed to get one hole in one. Loads of fun in the sun.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Boysterous Toys Review and Giveaway

Long time, no blogging. It's been a crazy month so far kicking off Autism Awareness. More of those stories to come later this month. Today, I get the opportunity to share an amazing product with you. My second child, Nathan, was selected to test out some toys from the Manhattan Toy Company. They have some great toys that are focused on letting kids use their imaginations.

I knew we were getting an action figure, but that was all the information I really had before receiving the toys. When the package came, I waited for Nathan to get home from school and we opened the mail together. As fast as we pulled out the toys, he was ripping them out of the packaging to play with them. (Note to self: should have gotten photos of the toys before they were opened.) First we pulled out Goalie Gavin. His arms and legs are movable and poseable. His feet (and the soccer ball) have magnets in them so he can stop the ball with his foot.

Next came Shreddin Sean. He's a snowboarder with a snowboard. He's totally rad. Again, his arms and legs are movable and poseable and his magnetic feet really stick to his snowboard enabling him to stand and snowboard down the slopes (or the steps) with ease.

Part of Nathan's (and Rebekah's) imaginations came into play right away. They set up a soccer match between Gavin and Sean. Then Gavin tried out the snowboard to practice his skills on the slopes.

We also got the Extreme Sports Zone. This toy was the best from the mother's perspective. It zips and velcros shut and holds the action figures and their accessories. Carry handle on the top makes it a snap for the kids to clean up their own mess and carry it and put it away. The Extreme Sports Zone is a multi-purpose unit that works with all of the Boysterous action figures. It is a soccer or football field, it's a court or a's as versatile as your child's imagination. The kids keep setting up the Extreme Sports Zone in unique ways (off the bottom step on our staircase, coming down from the couch, etc.) seeing how large of a tilt Shredding Sean can hold onto with his board. The soccer games with Gavin get pretty intense, too.

Check out how cute (and easy) it is to put away and carry your toys.

I will mention that these toys are best for ages three and up because of the small parts that could pose a choking hazard. The target ages are 3-8. Rebekah and Nathan have both been playing with these toys ever since we got them. They have held up well so far under intense usage (and snowboarding down flights of stairs).

Would you like to win one action figure for your child?

**Mandatory Entry**
Head over to the Manhattan Toy Boysterous Line and tell me which action figure you like the best.
PLEASE NOTE: You do not have to be a blogger to enter this contest, but you must leave a way for me to contact you. Use the anonymous comment form to enter and leave an email.
*You MUST do the mandatory entry! All bonus entries will be deleted if it's not done first!*

**Bonus Entries**
{Leave separate comments for each entry}
1. Follow me publicly on Google Friend Connect (current followers, too) {1 entry}
2. Subscribe to my blog {1 entry}
3. Follow me on Twitter {1 entry}
4. Follow me on Networked Blogs (Button on right sidebar) {1 entry}
5. Follow me on Facebook (Button on right sidebar) {1 entry}
6. Follow Manhattan Toy on Twitter {1 entry}
7. Follow Manhattan Toy on Facebook {1 entry}
8. Add my blog to your blog roll/sidebar {1 entry}
9. Email three friends with the link to this giveaway inviting them to enter. Remember to cc me at coolestmommy2000 at gmail dot com {2 entries}
10. Tweet about this giveaway {can be done once per day} {1 entry per tweet} You can use this:

@Coolestmommy has a #giveaway of an action figure for boys that you can #win. Ends 4/18

•Giveaway ends Monday, April 18, 2011
•Winners will be chosen via Random.Org. and contacted by email
•Winners will have 48 hours to respond to the email or another winner will be chosen
• Open to addresses in the United States.

This is a Mama Buzz review. The product was provided by Manhattan Toy for this review.
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