Christmas time! I love this time of the year! I cherish all the family gatherings, the gift exchanges and the memories we make! This Christmas, beyond the toys, jewelry, clothes, and gift cards, I want to encourage you to give your loved ones gifts that will continue to give all year long. My prayer is that these gifts bless your home like they are blessing mine.

The Gift of Priority

The first gift you can give your family is the gift of priority. God found the home to be of such value that it was the first institution he created. Adam and Eve were the first husband and wife. Before any church or any career, there was family. Jesus also performed his very first miracle at a wedding.  I'd say God places a high value on the home.  I Timothy 3:1-5 is talking to those that aspire to serve in the church in leadership. It caught my attention because of the emphasis on the home. It says if you want to serve outside of the home in a position of leadership, make sure you don’t lose the focus of your home. They are your priority. They are valuable. Our loved ones need to know that they are the most important thing to us. The way we show them is by choosing them above career, ministry and hobbies. When we say no to those things because we already had an event with our family we are sending our family a strong message that they are a priority. This Christmas, commit to place those boulders that consist of family events on your 2014 calendar that cannot be moved. Give your family the gift of priority. They will notice.

The Gift of Honor 

Another priceless gift is the gift of honor. Honor defined is to hold in high esteem; respect.  When we honor, we are protecting and nurturing our connections with each other.  Our goal in giving this gift away is to maintain a connection with our loved ones, not dominate them. So what does that look like? Basically, there is no mistake, no accident, no tantrum, no disobedience, no sin that stops me from connecting heart to heart with them.  The gift of honor allows you to use kind, loving words to protect your heart to heart connection!

Father's Day is just around the corner. I love the feelings it brings in my heart.  Growing up in a home where my father's love for me was never in question was so wonderful! It helped me feel confident, made me believe I could do anything, and kept my heart committed to my dad. I never wanted to do anything that would displease him. The truth is I did do things that hurt my father, but my dad, although hurt, always loved me and made me feel completely safe and accepted in our relationship.  I knew I was loved unconditionally. 

I recently saw this quote, "The only thing better than having you as my Dad is my children having you as their Papa" and instantly related to it.  The way my dad looked at his grandchildren still captivates my heart today. That look of total tenderness and complete love still blesses me. I am blessed because I know my children have been impacted by his love as well.

My dad died in 2009, and although the only thing that separates us is time, I am grateful for the years I had with him this side of heaven, and the years my children had with him, although not long enough. His life and his love opened the door of my heart to an even greater love, the love of my Heavenly Father.  I now know that all along what my dad was doing was allowing the love of God to flow through him to others. So for me, although my dad is not in front of me, the love he gave is because it was God's love all along. He left me with an inheritance that I intend to pass on to others daily, an inheritance of love. 

I see that same look in my husband's eyes towards his children.  It was that familiar look that prompted me to write this post. My husband's eyes were beaming with love just last night as he listened to our three year old explain how he slipped and got hurt. Our youngest never had a chance to meet his Papa, but he also is encountering that same love. Not only do my children have a daddy that is passing on that same inheritance, but there are others that carry that same look. It's God's love, and if you have encountered it, you know what I am talking about. 

For any dad out there that dares read this mom blog, I want you to know that the very best gift you can give your children is to demonstrate the love of God to them. Maybe you never experienced God's love, maybe you had a terrible childhood, to you I would say to dig into the very heart of God and encounter the love that He is longing for you to receive. Then you will be able to pass it along to your children. It was never God's intention for a father to demonstrate anything other than unconditional love to his kids. Instead, it was always his plan for fathers to be an extension of His love to them. 

Here is a sample of what God's love looks like. You can replace "Love" with "A Dad" to get a better understanding of the love I am talking about.

I Corinthians 13:4-7 "4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." (NLT)

As you allow this love to manifest through you, your children will be transformed! I am living proof!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I want to leave you with a few (women need to speak at least 20,000 words so I gathered enough pictures to speak that amount..hehe). Look into my dad's eyes and see the love of God flowing, then go to your children and do likewise. :) Papi, thank you for leading me to the love of God. I now understand that all along you were leading me to my Heavenly Father's unending love. I am secure in His love because of your example. Miss you, Papi! 

I just returned from our annual FPEA homeschool convention. As a family, we stayed at the hotel the convention was at so we could also make it a mini vacation. The kids just love going! I was able to enjoy the pool a few times, but was mainly on a mission to purchase as much of the curriculum I need for the year as well as attend many of the training sessions. I enjoy listening to all the inspiring speakers and visiting every booth! This year however, there was a particular booth that kept drawing my heart. It was Miller Pads and Paper ( You see, on Wednesday the owner; a husband, father and grandfather died suddenly while setting up his booth.  At a moment's notice, his kids (now grown) flew down to run the booth and be with mom. It was a sight to behold! This family had just lost a father and husband yet with genuine smiles served the Florida community of homeschoolers who enjoy shopping at their booth.  Many did not know what had happened. This family, although broken inside, considered the needs of others above their own without hesitation. I think working the booth for their dad gave them a sense of honoring their father and mother. After the convention was over, we got to be a part of a small memorial service they had right in the convention hall. Many of these vendors travel from convention to convention together and truly become like family. They honored this first-class man with beautiful words and pleasant memories. Randy Miller Sr. was truly a great man who loved God, his family and his friends. It was evident. 

This family was a sweet reminder to me to continue to live and love on purpose. After all, isn't that the example Jesus left us with? Jesus, our source of life, is the reason we live, breath and have our being. I don't want a day to pass without me purposing to keep Jesus at the center of it. I don't want a day to pass without my husband feeling loved and appreciated for being the leader of our home. I don't want a day to pass that I don't let my kids know how precious they are to me. Children are truly a gift from God, and I want to enjoy my toddler, tween and teens (I love saying that) with everything in me. I don't want a day to pass without my extended family knowing they are important to me. I don't want a day to pass that I am not aware of the hurt around me. I want my children to learn to serve others and consider the needs of others above their own. The Miller family, by simply living life, reminded me of that this weekend.  Let's represent God with everything we do, what we say, how we live! Life is simply to short to waste on the fleeting pleasures of this world. It's so much more rewarding to live the life God has called us to live. A life lived with purpose!

Miller Pads and Paper is a family-based business located in southwest Wisconsin. The Miller family has served the homeschool community for over twenty years, providing paper products and art supplies. Randy is survived by his loving wife Renee, four children, and five grandchildren.

Please make a donation to his family through Paypal or support the family business this season by purchasing at a convention (see 2013 convention schedule) or by shopping online.

Proverbs 4:23 commands us to, "guard our heart, for everything we do flows from it." As I think of this scripture, I can't help to think of the female species. God made us to be a bit more emotional than our male counterpart. I want to use that emotional part of me for good.  As women, we have the innate ability to love deeply, hurt deeply, and hate deeply.  Yes, I said it, hate deeply. Though many of us would deny that something so terrible could land in our heart, the truth is that many times our actions demonstrate the reality of our hearts. Hate defined is "an intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury." Wow! Did you catch that? We tend to see a picture of hate as "an intense hostility," but we so often miss the real culprit behind hate; "fear, anger, or a sense of injury." That second part is what I want to dig into.  

As we dig, let's look at James 4:1  "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?"  You see, I often talk about living from a state of a heart at rest.  What exactly does that look like? Simply stated, it's a heart that is completely satisfied in Jesus.  It is a heart at peace because our identity is in Christ. At first, when you are training your emotions to not care about the petty things in this world, it may look like a process of death to self. It is. :-D The beautiful thing is that you can declare with Paul in Galatians 2:20. "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." 

As you begin to view life from an eternal perspective, you begin to let go of the things that created fear in your heart. You begin to relax and take deep breaths to respond as a child of God instead of allowing anger to rule you. You begin to let go of the wounds that could cause bitterness and hatred to dictate your actions. You begin to see others through a new light. When it appears like others are being hateful towards you, you overlook their actions so that you can truly see into their heart. Your heart begins to wonder what fear, anger or sense of injury is behind the hatred being expressed. You begin to see others through eyes of compassion. You begin to desire to please God instead of man. You realize that you have the greatest gift anyone could ever enjoy on earth and in Heaven, the gift of a relationship with the God of the Universe. Selah! Then you realize that in comparison with that, nothing else really matters. That is when you begin to walk with a heart at rest. You begin to not be moved by the spilled milk, or the crying baby in the grocery store, or the loss of a job, or the bad grade, or what people think of you...the list goes on and on. For the first time in your life you realize you have nothing to prove to anyone. You simply want to glorify God in private and in public because you live for an audience of ONE!

Hope you enjoyed this. If you want to hear about specific topics, leave me a comment. I love writing to specific needs! 

I've had this recipe in my files for many, many years, thanks to my wonderful Spiritual Mama, Dora Pereira.  She is an amazing cook, and with a few slight changes, I've made it organic.  It is the freshest, tastiest salsa I have ever had.  I try to keep this available in my home all the time. It makes a great addition to any meal! Here is the recipe.

1 bunch of organic cilantro
2-3 cans of organic tomatoes (diced)
1 medium organic onion
2-4 organic jalapeños
5 organic cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
Himalayean Sea Salt to taste

  1. Boil the jalapeños until they turn an army green color.
  2. Place quartered onion and garlic cloves in food processor and chop until there aren't any big chunks left.
  3. Add Cilantro, blend well
  4. Add jalapeños (Depending on how spicy you like your salsa remove the seeds.  I usually remove the seeds out of one and leave them in the other.  Gives it a nice kick!)
  5. Add can/s of tomatoes and vinegar
  6. Salt to taste

Enjoy with some Organic corn chips, add it to your guacamole, make a spicy dressing with it or, my new favorite...add some to your Beyond Organic Green Fed beef and make some kicking burgers! The possibilities are endless!  Leave me a note if you make it and tell me how you like it!  

Have you ever had a conversation with your tween or teenager that sounded something like this?

"Hey Baby, how was school today?"
"It was fine."
"What did you do?"
"Nothing much."
"Who did you sit with at lunch?"
"My friends."
"What did you talk about?"
"Uuuh, I don't remember."

Sound Familiar? After having several conversations like this with my oldest daughter, I knew something had to change. I was not going to spend the rest of middle school and all of high school with conversations like this!! Through counsel from those that have gone before me, reading books and seeking God, I felt like I was supposed to lean into my daughter.  I had to create a safe environment for her to share her heart with me. That's when I became a student of my own daughter.  I also underwent some heart changes within myself. Through this process, I realized that my daughter did not feel comfortable opening up to me. The reason? I was parenting out of fear. You see, I would react to things she would tell me (when she did open up) as if she had done bad things she had not even thought of doing. :( I reacted to her statements about boys, parties and even her friends with long lectures. Those reactions/fears stemmed from my own experiences growing up and not from my daughter's ability to make the right decisions today. Basically, I was setting my daughter up for failure as I parented out of fear. 

After digging deep in my heart and asking God for answers, I knew I had to make some changes within me.  As I  searched my heart, I realized that I was more concerned about how others perceived my "good girl" than actually training my daughter's heart.  I was more concerned about the outward behavior than the inward heart condition.  Ouch! Well, once I resolved my own fears, I began to step back, just enough, to possibly let my daughter fail.  As I stepped out of the way, I began to see my daughter step up. Oh! what a moment! I was there just enough to help and comfort instead of trying to control her every decision (major recipe for failure). The outcome of that has been a beautiful picture of a daughter walking these difficult teenage years with confidence, freedom, and security.  You see, as I stepped out of the way, she was able to step up to the plate.  Is she perfect? Far from it. Does she fail, yes, just like her Mommy does. She, however, is making choices that demonstrate to me that she has a good head on her shoulders.  Her convictions go deep, she has a mind of her own and she is not persuaded to follow the crowd.  

So how did I lean in? I leaned in by letting go.  I let go of me trying to lead her by my authority and began to lead her by my influence.  So, instead of jumping to give my opinion and dictating how something should be done or handled, I stepped out of the way.  I began to pursue conversations about silly things with her.  I began to listen without providing a solution. Instead, I simply asked questions that led her to making the right choices.  The results, to date, are a relationship with my teenager that one only dreams about, and a young lady learning to make decision based on her internal government. I am enjoying watching her blossom into this incredible young lady. My prayer is that my relationship with her continues to blossom as she grows in wisdom, stature (actually I think she is done growing in this area), and favor with God and man.  May your journey with your teens be one of joy and complete peace as you entrust their hearts to the One that created them.  

To help you in this journey, there are some books I highly recommend.  They are Age of OpportunityLoving Our Kids On PurposeGirl Talk, and  Grooming the Next Generation for Success. You can find these books in the "Our Favorites" section as well as the Resources section.  

Benjamin, my two year old, has definitely entered the "two's stage."  It's that stage that most people label as the "Terrible Twos." Have you heard of it?  I like to refer to it as the "Terrific Twos" because I believe I will have what I say.  I happen to believe that I will form His future with my words!  So I am watchful what I declare over him. (Proverbs 18:21) Is it challenging? Absolutely! I am always on, but the training is so worth it.  I am molding his character now so I can enjoy the fruit later on.  

One of the things I like to do is impart scripture into his little heart so he learns to be governed from the inside out.  So, here are a few things I do.  In the midst of him having one of those tantrums, I get down at his level and with the most gentle, yet firm, tone, I say, "Benjamin, you have an excellent sprit (Daniel 6:3).  You are an obedient boy, and you obey Mommy." (Ephesians 6:1)  Nine times out of ten, he puts his head on my shoulder and calms down.  Proverbs 15:1 says, "A soft answer turns away wrath."  It is so true!  The word of God is alive and active! (Hebrews 4:12)  When imparted into others it will bring forth good fruit.  For those of you wondering what Benjamin does that 10% percent of the time, he simply looks at me straight in the eyes and yells NO! LOL!!  Have you heard that word before from your two-year old?  At this point, I either continue with my gentle tone and pick him up and love on him so he knows he is completely loved and safe, and say, "Obey! You walk in obedience Benjamin." OR, there are other times that he is not budging and simply needs a break from the rest of the world and gets put down for a nap or time alone in his crib.  The bottom line is to always maintain control and to catch the problem earlier rather than later so that as the parent, you stay in control of your emotions.

I think one of the mistakes we moms make is that we try to change our children from the outside in.  We try to control their behavior so they don't embarrass us.  I was there, and sometimes fall in that trap of parenthood. As I get older, I tend to care less (I say that in the most respectful way) what others think and care more about training my children's heart.  So, instead of taking him to the bathroom at the grocery store to spank him for embarrassing me (I think we do this more than we realize),  I take him to the bathroom to see why his heart is so upset.  Then I speak to it. Usually he has felt threatened by a sibling or not heard or simply did not get what he wanted.  Whatever the reason, make sure you have your heart in check and focus on your relationship with your child rather than what man might be thinking about your parenting skills. Your child's heart is the one thing you want to train, and the earlier you start the better it will go, down the road. The goal? To fill that little heart with the Word of God so they can pull from it as they grow up.

Here is a great place to start Scriptures from Proverbs to impart scripture into your children.  Also, I HIGHLY recommend a few books. They are Sheperding a Child's Heart, Grooming the Next Generation for Success, Loving our Kids on Purpose.  These are great foundational books that will transform the parent's heart so they can mold their child's heart!  Check them out in the "Our Favorites" section of my website, along with the many others on there.  

It's Summertime everyone!  Let's create summer memories with our kids!! I am a firm believer that one important role in parenthood is to fill their tank with fun childhood memories. After all, it's our grandchildren they are going to tell these stories to. ;)  There are many ways to establish memorable traditions, and I will share other ways in a future post.  For this one, however; I want to focus on Friday Fun Day! 

When it comes to summertime, many families go on vacation. Whether you go on a summer vacation or not, one thing my kids look forward to every summer is our weekly Friday Fun Days. You can choose any day that works for your family. :) The point is developing memories! So let's start a list so everyone can benefit from this! I'll start with...
  • Picnic at the Park
  • Parks with splash pads - kids of all ages like this!
  • Movie Theater 
  • Pool Day
  • Science Center (family annual tickets are usually very reasonable)
  • Lake
  • Water Park 
  • Theme Park
  • Go out for Yogurt or Ice Cream

If you live in the Orlando area:
  • Tubing at Kelley Park
  • Sorrento Park
  • Wekiva State Park
  • Downtown Disney
  • Beach Trip
  • If you have annual tickets to Disney, Seaworld or Univeral, these are great times to use them.
  • Picture Show Movie Theater ($1.50 theater)
  • Splash Pads around the city
  • Moss Park
  • Bike trails

I am sure there are so many more spots, so if you know of more ideas, will you please post them in the comment section.  Let's make Friday Fun Days a summer tradition in our homes!  
What exactly is Home Management? To answer that, I looked up the word manager, and I found just what I was looking for...

manager |ˈmanijər|noun 
  • a person responsible for controlling or administering all or part of a company or similar organization (Our homes)
  • a person who controls the activities, business dealings, and other aspects of the career of an entertainer, athlete, group of musicians, etc. (Our children and spouse)
  • a person in charge of the activities, tactics, and training of a sports team (Our children)
Ladies, we are Home Managers! As the managers of our homes, we are the ones responsible for all the happenings in our home.  You might be thinking, wait a minute, isn't that the husband's role?  No, actually it is not.  He is the President of the organization. :) As managers, the responsibility of all the daily happening is on our shoulder so that our husband is free to do what only he can do. He does not need to nor does he care to decide what days the laundry will get done or who has to empty the dishwasher tonight. He has much more important decisions to make that I don't want on my shoulders. :) I'm happy running my home organization. :) 

With that said, As we enter the summer season, there is no better time to train your children in their daily, weekly and monthly chores.  I have been receiving texts, emails and calls recently asking me for some of these files so I figured that many more moms must be planning a summer routine. I have just updated my Home Management section with FREE documents for you to download and edit to your liking. I will be adding more soon! My prayer is that as we use these strategies in our home, every home would flow beautifully, with less stress and more joy and peace. That way we are free to do the important things in life...spend time with our children imparting God's word in them as we walk, sit, swim, shop, and play! (My version of Deut. 6:6-8) :)  We'll talk about having fun with our kids this summer on my next post! BTW - if you want more of these, hit the like button below so I know you are reading these!!  LOL!!

My Mom with all the grandchildren!  Happy Mother's Day Mami!
My mom with all her grandchildren! I love you, Mami!
It's Mother's Day weekend, so I wanted to take the time to honor a few moms that have made an impact in my life!  
  • First and foremost, my mom, Millie Caballer.  Mami, all my life you have been that nurturing mom that every girl needs!  I have great memories of an amazing and a secure childhood.  I still remember the wonderful road trips and the many camping trips. Those were some great times!!  I don't know how you did it, but you made motherhood look so easy.  I still don't know how you would wake up every single morning without fail and have our breakfast ready before school, and now that I know you are not a morning person, it means so much more than you know! Thank you for that simple, yet sacrificial gesture. I am so blessed to call you mom. As a mom of four, I always hear your voice that reminds me that my children are my priority and every other external demand can wait.  Thank you for instilling that deep within me. Te Amo!
  • Mildred Rivera-Hess (Super Grandma) - You are such a wise woman!  You have always had a way of giving advice that just sticks!  From not bringing down a fever to never leaving the marriage bed, you have passed on great advice to your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren! I love you and admire you so much! You are a strong and noble woman. Love you, Grandma!
  • Vanessa Morrow - Tata, you are such a caring mother!  You want the best for your boys and that shows by how you bend over backwards for their success!  What I love most that you do is that you celebrate your nieces and nephews!  You are so good at that!  There is NO question in my kids heart that their Titi loves them!  Thank you for your heart for others!  You are making a difference! I love you!
  • Dora Pereira - You are forever engraved in my heart as my Spiritual Momma. I am so thankful that you invited my parents to church, and as they say, the rest is history! Because of YOUR obedience, our lives were transformed and our eternal destination was secured!  Thank you for loving us enough to reach out.  You are so special to me. :) On a more down to earth note, thank you for those amazing Mexican recipes!  I get asked for my Mexican dishes all the time, which are actually yours, but we'll keep that our secret. ;).  I love you!
  • Gina Munoz - Thank you for raising a man that is courageous, a great provider, a wonderful husband and an amazing father!  You did a great job with him.  I want you to know that you are a wonderful mother-in-law and grandmother!  I love how you demonstrate such intense love for the kids every time you see them.  Thank you for caring so much and always being a supportive mother and grandmother.  Te amo!
  • Judy Clattenburg - How does a woman come from brokenness and bring healing to so many, beginning with two beautiful step-daughters, who had lost their mom a few years earlier, and flowing down into a church?  Only by the love and grace of God.  You exude God's love, Judy.  Your genuine love and sincere caring for others is how Jesus shines through you! You make the person in front of you the most important. I love that about you! Thank you for always being the real deal! I am honored to call you my Pastor! I love you!
  • Becky Grothe - Talk about legacy! You don't know this, but your family has impacted mine forever.  I watched your kids grow up and have their own, and do it well.  You and Pastor Dave have painted a beautiful picture, through your life, of how to raise children with godly standards, and who are, in turn, raising their own to do the same.  Congratulations on ALL the beautiful grandchildren.  I know there are still more to come!  Thank you for living your walk as true Christ-followers.  The Grothe's are shining by simply living their lives with integrity, unity and love! I love you! Happy Mother's Day to Jessica and Christine too.
  • Josefina Garnica - Mamita, my dear sister in Christ, you are a mother to two beautiful daughters that are the real deal.  I have loved watching them grow up and be bold for Jesus!  You have taught me to always believe the best, hope for the best and expect the best out of our biological children and those that God has entrusted us to mentor.  You are one of the wisest women I know, and I am honored to call you friend.  Te amo!

Created with LOTS of LOVE!