Saturday, August 31, 2013

Guest Blog: Wales & Worship

This article by Jen Wilkins is very thought-provoking. Many of you will be worshiping in church tomorrow, so read this article and then think about your church. Also pray for your music minister, that God will lead him as he leads you in worship. It's a big responsibility! - Rejoicing in the Present

Two different incidents are swirling around in my head right now. The first involves a killer whale and Josh Groban. The second involves a discussion in my home group, where we are reading Bonhoeffer’sLife Together”. The discussion centered around this quote concerning worship through corporate singing:

“All devotion, all attention should be concentrated upon the Word in the hymn…the music is completely the servant of the Word {Scripture}. It elucidates the Word in its mystery.”

We asked each other, is this true of church music today? Can we say of modern worship songs that the music serves the words of Scripture? Or do the words of our worship songs serve the music? Can we say that we, the worshippers love the words more than the melodies? How can we tell?

Which brings me to that killer whale incident. I’m going to confess something completely humiliating here: I absolutely love “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban. On a trip to Sea World a few years back, we watched a Shamu Show choreographed to that song. Every time Josh hit the chorus, Shamu would erupt out of the water, launching his trainer thirty feet into the air off the tip of his snout. Raising him up. To more than he could be.

Tears. Streaming. Down. My. Face.

So, let’s just take a look at those gorgeous, impactful lyrics:

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up... To more than I can be.

I mean, just revel in that. That’s some powerful stuff - powerfully cheesy. But between the soaring instrumentation and the velvet voice (and the orca) I sort of lost track of that. Do you think I’m pathetic? Try it yourself - just Google the lyrics to your favorite song. Try reading them without melody and instrumentation. Do they move you? Are they memorable? Do they even make sense?

With a pop song, who cares? There’s not a lot at stake if a music-less read-through of the lyrics reveals that the message is a little ridiculous. But with worship music, the stakes are higher. I believe this is what Bonhoeffer wants us to understand. Himself a musician, he would have known what every musician, every writer of movie scores, every marketer, every Shamu choreographer can tell you: Music has the power to move us in and of itself.

the powerful pull of music

Imagine the Harry Potter movies with no themed score running behind the scenes. The musical score alone, existing independently from words or images, would stir our emotions. Combined with them, the effect magnifies. Even a movie as well-written as Harry Potter would feel dull and flat without a soundtrack.

Bonhoeffer’s point is simple: When the words serve the music, we gratify self. When the music serves the words, we glorify God. In a culture that consumes music on an unprecedented scale, the church faces an uphill battle to maintain the high ground that the music must serve the words. Ten years ago, contemporary worship songs were plagued with the “I-Me-My-Mines”, every line filled with the knowledge of man. We have come some distance since then, praise God, with a shift back toward lyrics that extol the character of God. But we have further still to go.

If I supplied you with a copy of the lyrics to the 6500 hymns of Charles Wesley, two things would happen to you as you read it. First, you would be deeply moved by the truths the lyrics contained, whether you knew the melodies associated with them or not. Second, you would know your Bible better. Could the same be said if you read through the lyrics of our modern worship offerings?

Wesley composed his hymns during a time in church history when the music served the words, or more precisely, the Word. We live in a time when music, church or otherwise, serves our personal taste, and where lyrics are often an afterthought. Combine this with rampant Bible illiteracy, and we find congregational Shamu shows so glutted on the wealth in their melodies that they ignore the poverty in their lyrics. A worship song is “anointed” if it moves us deeply, whether the words communicate anything coherent or not. Don’t make me give you a sloppy wet example.

preparing heart and head

What Bonhoeffer and Wesley would say to us is that church music must do more than move the emotions: it must feed the understanding. In doing so, it accomplishes its purpose of preparing our hearts and minds for the pinnacle of the worship service, the proclamation of the Word. We wrongly believe that the worship set should fill our hearts and the sermon should fill our heads. Corporate worship should enliven both heart and head, preparing us for a sermon which does both as well.

So, to my fellow worshippers, let's consider together whether our adoration is given to music or through music. And to those worship leaders composing church music today, God bless you – you endure enormous pressure to create "worship experiences". Consider Bonhoeffer’s message: whether your gifting runs toward hymnody or poetry, write lyrics that teach so much truth they can stand on their own. And then set them to music that magnifies their beauty. We, your congregants are slaves to our personal tastes. Teach us to crave corporately the better thing - the Word rendered luminous by song, confessed by a thousand tongues.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Cooking W/ Brandy - Teriyaki Chicken

This is the last of the yummy, yet easy, yet convenient, slow-cooker meals.  These are good for working moms, full Sundays and busy lives. 

What is REALLY neat is that these recipes are also freezer meals.  So you can prepare these meals, freeze them and then on the day you want them, you get them out and throw it all in the crock pot.  HOW COOL!!!!!  So it's easier then just easy!

What you need:
  1. 1 cup of Soy Sauce
  2. 1 cup of sugar
  3. 1tsp of garlic salt
  4. 1/2 onion chopped
  5. 1 1/2 lbs of chicken
What you do:
  1. Place all the ingredients in a freezer-safe gallon size bag
  2. Mix well
  3. Place in the freezer
  4. When you are ready for it, get it out of the freezer and thaw for 24 hours
  5. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 7-8

Serve with:
  1. Rice
  2. Green Beans

YUM - Brandy O

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Chasing Love by Michael Brezau

With a big cheerful smile, my little eighteen-month old daughter began twirling around in the center of our living room floor… all the while watching her skirt flutter in the breeze.
Suddenly, she paused and gently looked up at me with her big, sparkling brown eyes as if to say, “Am I beautiful, Papa? Do you love me and think I’m special?” Her two little fists held her skirt out so I could see the print on it, “Pwetty? Pwetty, Papa?” She softly squeaked.
I looked intently into her beautiful eyes…broke into a smile, picked her up, and swung her into my arms, gave her a kiss on her smooshy cheeks, and then said, “Yes, Everlynn, you are pretty and I love you more than any other little girl in the world.”
Even though she doesn’t quite know how to return the verbal exchange, “I love you,” she responded with more than words can convey with a warm, cuddly hug around my neck. She nestled her head next to mine. I could feel her take a deep breath…calm, content, loved.


Miley-Cyrus-youngMeanwhile, on the very same night there was another daddy’s girl out on a stage at the VMA awards, in front of millions of viewers, frenetically vying for attention and screaming for someone to call her beautiful.
Miley Cyrus tried every move imaginable to mankind in order to get someone to look… and she did. Heads turned. Heads rolled. And most heads shook, at first, with disgust, and then with deep sadness. Gone was the rather innocent girl, Hannah Montana, who drew massive crowds of mimicking pre-teen girls. Gone was the bright, happy smile. Gone was the calm, content, and loving picture of Billy Ray Cyrus with his sprawling family in tow. Gone.
And somewhere there is still a little girl looking for love, hoping for peace, and waiting for a daddy to call her beautiful. The streets of Hollywood, New York, and Las Vegas are not the only strips of concrete where one-time little girls go wandering out to find love through showing off the square-footage of their skin. Every single city, town, and village across the globe is filled with little girls who need their daddy’s and mommy’s to call them loved and beautiful.
Now, don’t misunderstand me, I’m not pretending to know the inner-workings of the Cyrus family, nor am I claiming that Billy Ray doesn’t love his daughter, Miley. But what we all know is somewhere past all the spandex, glitz, gold, dance moves, and blaring music, is the heart of a girl who is still vying for attention and looking for love…on all the wrong stages.

Looking for Love

Perhaps some of you reading this article are still deep down inside that little girl who never heard her daddy say, “I love you.” Maybe you did hear your daddy say those words, but you always knew it was conditional – if you wore the right clothes, if you got the right grades, if you scored enough goals, if you said the right words, if you looked just right, and on the list goes. And so you’ve been in a mad race of chasing after love and never really finding it.
And right now, in this very moment, I want you to know this: God the Father loves you completely and unconditionally in Jesus Christ. There is real love: “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 HCSB). Even if every kind of human love has failed you, God’s love for you does not hinge on the basis of what you say or do – His love is complete in Jesus, and He wants you to receive His love today.

Showing Real Love

But maybe you’re a dad like me, but for you, your daughter isn’t eighteen months old; she’s eighteen years old or maybe even thirty-eight. When was the last time you looked directly into her eyes or called her on the phone, simply to say, “You are beautiful – inside and out – and I love you…nothing will every change that.”
Dads, let’s show and tell our daughters they are “pwetty”, beautiful, and unconditionally loved simply because of who they are, not because of what they can do, say, sing, or wear.
Millions, maybe even billions, of little girls are left without a loving daddy or mommy. It is time for you and me to step in and love like God loves. Step across the bridge and share God’s love with someone who’s been chasing after love and has continually come up empty-handed and hurt. Christ’s real, lasting love can radically change hearts, lives, and families…it even changed mine.
Finally, amid all the criticisms and argumentation about the VMA awards, let’s not forget that prayer is the most important action we can take… let’s pray that Miley Cyrus (and the many others like her) will come to know the wonderful depths and riches of God’s love in Jesus Christ and be radically changed into a woman of faith rather than just an object of fame or shame.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Guest Blog: So what is the Dynasty?

Duck Dynasty is taking the world by a duck storm. :-) I personally really like it and others do as well. So, why does everyone like it? What are they selling? Here is a great article by robsumrall...

Duck DynastyPhil Robertson may not appreciate me writing about his business or his family.  I’m what Phil would derisively call a “yuppy.”  I don’t own camo, hunt, or have a beard.  That’s not to say I’m some granola PETA-type; I’m a devoted carnivore who loves gumbo, fried fish, and even the occasional boudin link.  Phil lives off the land and, frankly, doesn’t think very highly of the lifestyle the rest of us non-outdoorsy types choose to live.  I dwell comfortably in the suburbs buying my groceries at Kroger where the butcher kindly dresses my meat.  In some ways, Phil and I have about as much in common as Snooki and the Pope, which is why it may seem odd that I have been sucked into Phil Robertson’s world via the uber-popular Duck Dynasty reality show.
Phil’s story fascinates me.
Decades ago, Phil kicked his wife and kids out of his house in a drunken rage.  Phil was more interested in partying and hunting than parenting.  About three months later, he came crawling back to his estranged wife, Miss Kay.  Phil desperately wanted his family back.  Willie Robertson, Phil’s son and CEO of Duck Commander, writes in his autobiography,
“Fortunately for all of us, Kay was strong enough to forgive Phil and take him back.  But she took him back with the following conditions:  Phil had to quit drinking and walk away from his rowdy friends.”
It was at this rebuilding point of Phil’s young life that other things began to change as well.  Willie writes, “From that day forward, Phil started his study of God’s Word.  He attended church several times a week and started going to Bible study nearly every night. He was baptized at the age of twenty-eight and gave up drinking and partying altogether.” Phil’s newfound faith wasn’t a flash-in-the-pan phase.  He continued to serve the Lord and grow in his faith.  Today, he frequently speaks to men’s groups about Jesus.  True to who he is, Phil wears camo to these speaking engagements.
Phil was blessed with, among other things, an entrepreneurial spirit and a vociferous work ethic.  Forty years ago, he invented a double reed duck call that he would self-market, self-produce, and grow into a multi-million dollar company known today as Duck Commander.  Despite his considerable success in the water fowl hunting industry, Phil and his family are probably better known as TV stars than the hunting world heroes they are.
Last week, 6.5 million Americans joined me as I tuned in to watch the antics of the Duck Dynasty cast.  That equates to the largest viewing audience ever on their host network, A&E!  Duck Dynasty has spawned a burgeoning industry of T-shirts, bobble heads, and other trinkets that are flying off the shelves of the West Monroe, Louisiana company’s shelves.  I’m a proud owner of Uncle Si myself!
Uncle SiDuck Dynasty has become a cultural phenomenon.  Phrases like “Happy! Happy! Happy!” and “Hey, Jack!” have become common vernacular.  We can’t wait to see what crazy stunt Willie is going to pull.  We eat it up when Uncle Si spins his own Vietnam-inspired philosophical maxims.  We love it when Kay and Phil act borderline inappropriately frisky.  My wife, even though she denies it, has a mini-crush on Jase and his dry wit.  Each episode unfolds new adventures of clean fun and insight into the slightly bizarre Louisiana culture that the Robertsons are so proud of.  (Note to producers:  We want more Mountain Man!)
No doubt, Duck Dynasty is at the pinnacle du jour of popular culture.  And I have a theory  as to why.
While I enjoy the zany antics of the cast as much as the next fellow, I believe they are not the primary reason for Duck Dynasty’s popularity.  I imagine that the hunting theme is also not that big of a deal to most viewers.  In fact, the show is really not about hunting at all.  I believe the big drawing card for Duck Dynasty is its emphasis on family.  Almost every episode has a “plot” that revolves around family relationships and the natural tension they create in life.  Whether it be sibling, marital, or parental, these relationships play out before our eyes where people act surprisingly decent and respectful.  I believe America is tired of the  ”Jerry Springer-ization” that afternoon television has wrought upon us.  We are weary of pregnancy tests that tell who the baby’s daddy is and sisters that sleep with their brother-in-law.  Most families don’t need to turn on the TV to see dysfunction played out; it’s happening next door or maybe even down the hall in their own home.  We are exhausted from relationships gone awry, and Duck Dynasty is like some funny, bearded, camouflaged oasis that reminds us that family can work.  The cast remind us that we can resolve our differences without screaming and yelling.  We don’t have to have a revolving door of serial relationships in our lives that leave us emotionally spent and hollow on the inside.  Phil Robertson and his family remind us that family indeed can work.
What Phil would tell you is that family works best when people follow God’s design for it.   That means that, at least for the Robertsons, their faith in Jesus guides them on how they should structure their home life.  Though the show always ends with the Robertsons praying, their faith is downplayed by the producers.  A&E promotes Duck Dynasty with the tag line, “Money. Family. Ducks.”  At the newly-opened Duck Commander store, the word “money” has been scratched off of the posters.  “They give us these to pass out,” Al Robertson, the only Robertson without a beard, said of the posters.  “We ‘X’ out ‘money’ and write in ‘faith.’”  Faith is key in understanding the Robertson mentality and why their families work.
My hope is that Duck Dynasty is only beginning a meteoric rise on the cultural scene.  We need more messages like the one they present.  Numerous shows portray families in non-traditional ways, distorting God’s design.  Each of these sitcoms brings a level of acceptance to culture.  I’ve discovered that people who laugh through what is wrong very rarely slow down and think through what is right.  The Robertson clan gives a much-needed alternative.  The traditional family does work.  They are swimming against the current of culture in a sea of liberal media bias, but, miraculously enough, they are making it.
I imagine that as long as the Duck Dynasty series remains true to its family roots, its ratings will continue to soar.  I have to wonder, though.  Did Phil imagine that when he went crawling back to Miss Kay trying to restore his family, that his journey would lead down this path?  Could he have understood that he would one day have a rare platform to proclaim the benefit of family to culture where families are unraveling faster than a bullet from his favorite rifle?  I doubt he understood all of that back then, but I’m thankful for a bearded man and his family that model faith to a world desperately lacking examples.
It turns out that the most important product Duck Commander markets isn’t duck calls at all – it’s family values rooted in faith.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Adoption, Redemption and Hope

This week, I will be passing on a few popular articles that I have recently enjoyed. You have heard me talk about adoption and so I want to start off with an great inspirational article from

My parents were at the circus when I was born. I’m sure they were having a great time celebrating my brother’s sixth birthday, but I was at the hospital, being born.
I was adopted at birth.

Everything was arranged before I was born, and when I was just five days old, my brother, Jeremy, carried me out with the caseworker to present me to my parents and bring me home. I had spiky hair and I was delivered with forceps, which temporarily pinched a nerve and made my mouth hang down on one side so I had a crooked smile. But when my brother carried me out in his six year old arms, he presented me to my parents and said, “Isn’t she pretty? Doesn’t she look just like me?!”
There are times when God intervenes in our lives in nearly flagrant ways. He interrupts the logical order of things, and turns everything upside down in the best way possible. In my case, He took me from being an unplanned pregnancy, to a pined-after, “chosen child” in a family where I have been inordinately loved.

And there’s the Gospel – things were going along one way, but God intervened, and changed everything, not because of anything I deserved as a crooked faced baby with a dent in my head, but because He’s God and He’s good and He’s sovereign.

As I’ve grown up, I have come to bear a striking physical resemblance to my family, and once again, I see the Gospel on display. It’s exactly what God does when he adopts us into his family.  Christ came to save us and bring us to the Father, and when Jesus, our elder brother, presents us to His Father He says, “Isn’t she pretty, doesn’t she look just like me?”  Our Father who loves and accepts us because of what Christ has done on our behalf, begins to see to it that we grow in His grace to look just like our elder brother.

This theme of adoption has become a part of my daily professional life. Having been adopted, I’ve always assumed I survived a near-miss, in that my biological parents may have considered the choice not to continue with the pregnancy.

As I learned more about the circumstances surrounding many unplanned pregnancies, and the seemingly hopeless nature of many of those situations, I felt called to share with women about hopeful alternatives. God faithfully provided an outlet for me to do just that through my work at Heroic Media.

I was born out of what at times may have felt like a hopeless situation, but because of God’s providence in giving my biological parents the courage to give me life, I have had a life defined by hope. I want other people to have that, to see the picture of redemption and hope that is played out in all of our lives as we are adopted by God in Christ.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Cooking W/ Brandy - Creamy Ranch Pork Chops

We are back to our yummy, yet easy, yet convenient, slow-cooker meals.  These are good for working moms, full Sundays and busy lives. 

What is REALLY neat is that these recipes are also freezer meals.   That means you can prepare these meals, freeze them and then  on the day  you want them, you get them out and throw it all in the crock pot.  HOW COOL!!!!!  So it's easier then just easy!

What you need:
  1. 6-8 potatoes
  2. 2 Cans - cream of chicken soup
  3. 2 Pkgs of dry ranch dressing mix
  4. 1 cup of milk
  5. 1 1/2 lbs of Pork Chops
  6. dried parsley to sprinkle on top
What you do:
  1. Place all the ingredients in a freezer-safe gallon size bag
  2. Mix well
  3. Place in the freezer
  4. When you are ready for it, get it out of the freezer and thaw for 24 hours
  5. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 7-8
Serve with:
  1. Noodles or Rice

YUM - Brandy O

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Flower Centerpiece

For our Ladies Tea, I ordered a fresh flower centerpiece. This glass vase is a beautiful antique from my Grandma and so I wanted to display it again.  So, after about a week, the flowers died and I took it apart to see how to make it.  About a month later I re-made it for our kitchen table.  It's super easy.

What you need:
  1. Glass Vase
  2. Flowers
  3. Candles
  4. Foil
  5. Floral Foam
What you do:
  1. Place foil in your glass vase
  2. Then place your foam inside
  3. Put the candle in the center and place the flowers around
  4. You can also place berries or babies breath around as well.
  5. Voila!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Bible

"This summer I had a teenager approach after I finished preaching to thank me for my message. He then asked me a very serious question. "Could you recommend a good book that would help me in my spiritual growth?" "Sure," I responded. I have one that is a best seller and it has helped millions of people." "Awesome!, " said the teen, "what is it?" I looked down toward his side and said, "You are holding it in your hand . . . it is called the Bible."

We had a good laugh together and then I very seriously challenged him. We often are looking for something special to help us grow when we have the most special thing we could ever have at our finger tips. We ignore and under utilize God's direct words to us. So . . . how are you doing with valuing the Word? We can't make it without it. Nothing wrong with other books, sermons, study guides and commentaries, but don't ever neglect the reading of God's Word. It will continually change you and challenge you towards Christlikeness."
- This was shared on Facebook by Matt Herbster.

Psalms 1:1-3 "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

So what about you, have you read the most inspirational, most informational, life changing book today? - Rejoicing in the present.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cooking W/ Brandy - Pineapple w/ Ham

We are back to our yummy, yet easy, yet convenient, slow-cooker meals.  These are good for working moms, full Sundays and busy lives. 

What is REALLY neat is that these recipes are also freezer meals.  o you can prepare these meals, freeze them and then on the day you want them, you get them out and throw it all in the crock pot.  HOW COOL!!!!!  So it's easier then just easy!

What you need:
  1. 4 thick slices of boneless ham (fully cooked)
  2. 1/3 cup of brown sugar
  3. 1 -20oz can of crushed pineapples (do not drain)
  4. 2Tbsp of  Dijon Mustard
What you do:
  1. Place all the ingredients in a freezer-safe gallon size bag
  2. Mix well
  3. Place in the freezer
  4. When you are ready for it, get it out of the freezer and thaw for 24 hours
  5. Cook on high for 3 hours or low for 5-6
Serve with:
  1. Cheesy Potatoes
  2. Fruit Salad
YUM - Brandy O

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Disney Vaca '13 - Magic Kingdom

If you go to Orlando, you must go to the Disney parks.  They are expensive but a lot of fun.  These parks are great for the whole family and are a must for anyone with children.  I won't go into a lot of detail but I will give you a few apps and websites to help you through these fun YET stressful park days. 

Here are some apps that might help your experience...
  1. my-disney-experience/mobile-apps/
    1. This gives you lots of information
  2. Touring Plans - This one is REALLY COOL
    1. We created Lines to figure out where to go and what to do during your Disney vacation. No other app – even Disney’s official app – gives you as much unbiased advice about the Walt Disney World parks.
    2. See FASTPASS And Character Greeting Times That Disney Doesn't Tell You

    3. Menus and Prices for Every Disney World Restaurant

    4. Pick The Best Disney World Parks To Visit - Avoid The Worst. We'll give you the next ten days of our Disney World Crowd Calendar and tell you which parks will be the least and most crowded. We also list Disney World park hours, Extra Magic Hour schedules, and parade and fireworks times
Other Helps and websites...
  1. 2. 101 Great Disney World Tips - When visiting Walt Disney World, there are a lot of things that can save you time and money, or improve the quality of your vacation. Here are 101 random tips based upon our experiences in years of traveling to Walt Disney World. Some of the things are simple and easy to–like standing in a different spot than you normally might for the parade or fireworks. Other things require a bit more effort, but will similarly make the trip more enjoyable. There’s really no rhyme or reason to the order, it’s basically just what popped into my head as I started writing the list. If you’re looking for Disneyland tips, check out our 101 Great Disneyland Tips post.
    Not all of these tips will be applicable to everyone (if you’re already married, the tip on proposing probably won’t be of much use), but there should be something for everyone here. Whether you’re a first time planner or a weathered veteran who still has nightmare-flashbacks to that Castle Cake of ’96, there are tips for you here.

    2. Mouse Hints - Check out this website  - Here is a collection of the best Disney World tips, gathered into one clear and concise list. We going to keep this page updated as tips roll in from readers!  If you have any tips that we missed, please share below.

    3. Mouse Savers - I've heard GREAT things about this website.

    There is so much information out there, that I really can't add much.  Take the time and leave a comment about your experience to Disney.  - Rejoicing in the present.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Disney Vaca '13 - I-Fly

My husband and I had been interested in the indoor sky diving program for a long time.  In fact, we had looked into doing it in the past but just never got around to doing it.  When my parents asked for suggestions for the trip, we immediately spoke up about I-Fly (indoor skydiving).  My parents looked into it and then booked it for the family.  Unfortunately, due to my neck and back issues, I was not able to participate BUT I heard good response from everyone.  Most of the family (including the children) did it and EVERYONE loved it.

You can check them out, here...

So what is iFly?
"iFLY is an indoor skydiving experience that creates true free fall conditions, just like skydiving, without having to jump out of an airplane. iFLY Orlando's 1,000 hp vertical wind tunnel generates a wall-to-wall cushion of air, on which you safely float. There’s no parachute, no jumping, and nothing attaching you to planet Earth. It’s just you and the air, it’s the most incredible adrenaline rush."

What you do...
  1. Arrive an hour before your flight time to check-in, complete your waiver, attend your training session, and change into your flight gear (all included)
  2. Your personal, highly-trained and accredited instructor guides you through the entire experience
  3. The whole experience lasts about 1 hour and each flight is the equivalent of one and a half skydives
    1. I believe the hour includes the training and prep.
 THE ONLY COMPLAINT...that it was too short
  1. I believe they were only in the wind tunnel for a few minutes (twice)
It was a lot of fun for all, and a family activity ,but it was a bit pricey and they only blew around for 1 minute.  I'm not sure if that is the way it is for everyone, but I know that it was that way for my family.  So, if you have the extra cash and you are up for an adventure, give it a try!- Rejoicing in the present

PS. Pictures are of 1. my crazy brother flying and 2. the men in my family before they flew.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Disney Vaca 13 - Quick Service

We had the Quick Service Plan and I would recommend it for EVERYONE, especially if you are staying at a Disney World Resort.  It's a MUST!!!!
  1. Included (daily)
    1. 2 meals with a drink and dessert
      1. entree - average size
      2. dessert - large
      3. drink (bottled)
    2. 1 snack
      1. Anything from popcorn to fruit to ice cream
      2. ... and CANDY!!! This includes the Ghiradelli Store at Downtown Disney and the other candy stores (I must admit I'm a bit obsessed with candy.)
      3. Anything under $5
    3. Most meals were sized fairly well.
  2. Good??? Bad??? OK???
    1. GOOD!  If you are staying at a a resort and eating at the Disney parks, THIS IS A MUST. It will save you $$ and will be the better option.
    2. BAD?? - I didn't really find anything bad, other then there is no meal plan for those under age 3.  Having a baby who loves to eat can be a little frustrating as he wants to eat my food.   But we were given some extra $$$ to supplement the little ones and ourselves if we needed a bite.
  3. Quick - It's all in the name
    1. Because it's quick serve, we didn't have to wait to be served and so it was a lot quicker and there was no waiting around to eat.
  4. Options
    1. A TON...we could ate at a variety of different restaurants and we did! There was something for everyone.

The Invisible Mother

Dear Momma's,
You may feel like you are invisible sometimes but you are just constructing the foundation for them to build their lives on. BE ENCOURAGED!!! ...

The Invisible Mother

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I’m thinking, ‘Can’t you see I’m on the phone?’
Obviously not; no one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I’m invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?? 
Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, ‘What time is it?’ I’m a satellite guide to answer, ‘What number is the Disney Channel?’ I’m a car to order, ‘Right around 5:30, please.’
Some days I’m a crystal ball; ‘Where’s my other sock? Where’s my phone?, What’s for dinner?’
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history, music and literature -but now, they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’s going, she’s going, and she’s gone!
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . She had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when she turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, ‘I brought you this.’ It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: ‘With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.’
In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: 1) No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have no record of their names. 2) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. 3) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. 4) The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything. 
A story of legend in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, ‘Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof, No one will ever see it And the workman replied, ‘Because God sees.’ 
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was Almost as if I heard God whispering to me, ‘I see you. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.
No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, no Cub Scout meeting, no last minute errand is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.
I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree. 
When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, ‘My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table.’ That would mean I’d built a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, he’d say, ‘You’re gonna love it there…’ 
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.

Thanks to "The Invisible Mother" by I could not have said it any better... - Rejoicing in the present

Monday, August 12, 2013

Disney Vaca '13 - Accommodations

My wonderful parents organized and put together a lovely gift for our family.  They gave us our 1st family vacation since we have all been married. It was an AWESOME, crazy, relaxing, yet all together nice time together. So this next week, I'm going to tell you about our vacation. I'm also going to give you my opinion and feedback, so that if you take your family to Orlando, you will have some ideas of what to expect.


We stayed at the Port Orleans-Riverside Hotel

  1. Service - Good
  2. Food Court - not a huge selection but tasty
  3. Rooms - SUPER CUTE!!!! I loved the way they decorated them.
    1. We stayed in the Alligator Bayou and they had 2 queen size beds and a trundle that pulled down from the wall.
    2. + Internet, Refrigerator, Ironing board and Iron, Table and Chairs, Good Air Conditioning
    3. Bed were comfortable
    4. Decorations: very kid friendly
  4. Entertainment
    1. 5 Pools + a water slide
    2. Children's activities throughout the day
  5. Mugs
    1. We both received Disney mugs which we could use to refill with limitless soda, juice or coffee the whole week we stayed there.
  6. Transportation
    1. Ferry or Boat to the parks and Downtown Disney
    2. OR free parking at the park
Overall 4 Stars for me - Rejoicing in the Present

Friday, August 9, 2013

HEALTH: Coconut Oil

I love coconut oil.  There are soooooooooooo many AMAZING uses for it.  Recently I stumbled upon this and HAD to share.

Thanks to deliciousobsessions for 52 Uses for Coconut Oil...

  1. Eat a spoonful when you need an energy boost.
  2. Use it as the base for a homemade body scrub
  3. Use to condition your wooden cutting boards.
  4. Use as a super conditioner on your hair (apply to dry hair, leave in as long as possible and then shampoo as normal).
  5. Use as a styling agent if you have really dry hair. Just rub a tiny bit on your palms and apply to your hair and style as normal.
  6. Keep a little container in your purse for lip moisturizer. 
  7. Add a spoonful to your dog or cat’s food. CO is great for our furry friends!
  8. Replace nasty, unhealthy vegetable oils in your cooking and baking with CO.
  9. Make healthy Magic Shell ice cream topping.
  10. Use it for oil pulling (learn about oil pulling here).
  11. Use a tiny dab on your underarms for a natural deodorant.
  12. Use coconut oil instead of shaving cream.
  13. Add to your bath tub for a moisturizing soak (a couple drops of peppermint oil is wonderful!).
  14. Use as a makeup remover.
  15. Use it to help sooth chicken pox, shingles, or other rashes or skin irritations.
  16. Use it to treat athlete’s food, ringworm, or other fungal or yeast infections.
  17. Take a spoonful with your vitamins to help improve absorption.
  18. Spread a thin layer on cuts or burns to speed up healing.
  19. Take up to 5 spoonfuls per day for improved thyroid function.
  20. Add a spoonful to your smoothies for extra nutrition and flavor (here, here, and here).
  21. Use on the delicate tissue around your eyes to help prevent wrinkles and sagging.
  22. Use as the base for homemade toothpaste or lotion.
  23. Use in place of massage oil.
  24. Use on your baby’s diaper rash or cradle cap.
  25. Use to help reduce visibility of stretch marks or to prevent stretch marks.
  26. For nursing mothers, use coconut oil on your nipples to prevent cracking and irritation.
  27. For nursing mothers, consuming coconut oil will help increase your milk flow.
  28. Apply to bee stings or bug bites to soothe and heal the wound.
  29. Women can use in the nether regions to relieve yeast infections, dryness, and/or discomfort.
  30. Eat a spoonful with each meal to improve digestion.
  31. If you’re prone to nosebleeds, coat the inside of your nostrils with coconut oil regularly.
  32. Helps soothe and heal hemorrhoids.
  33. Take to help reduce or eliminate migraines.
  34. Use as the base for homemade vapor rub.
  35. Mixed with peppermint, lemon balm, rosemary, or tea tree oil makes an excellent insect repellent.
  36. Mix with baking soda for a non-toxic “Goo Gone”.
  37. Use to help detox the body during a cleanse or fast.
  38. Use as a metal polish, but always test a small area first.
  39. Use as a leather moisturizer.
  40. Season your cast iron pans.
  41. Use to oil your pans and baking dishes instead of pan spray.
  42. Got gum stuck in your hair? Try using coconut oil to remove without cutting your hair.
  43. Use instead of WD-40.
  44. Use as a personal lubricant (not safe with latex).
  45. Take a spoonful to help with heartburn, acid reflux, or indigestion.
  46. Use as a natural sunscreen.
  47. Mix with a tiny bit of fresh lemon juice and use as a furniture polish (always test a small area first!).
  48. Mix with butter and toss your popcorn in it.
  49. Use on cracked or rough heals to help smooth them out.
  50. Massage into your nails and cuticles to help strengthen them.
  51. Use as the base for homemade chocolate candy (like peanut butter cups).
  52. Take a couple spoonfuls every day to help overall immune function.