Join me in my daily walk through the joys and struggles of parenthood. Share a word of encouragement or be encouraged. Cry a little, laugh a lot, but know it is all in divine order.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Finding joy in times of trouble

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 (New International Version)

Photo from Google Images

I experienced a discouraging situation today. Someone stole my cell phone when I turned my back for four minutes. I sat my phone down so I could help a coworker hand out snacks to a group of people.

I didn’t have the phone attached to me because I was wearing a dress. I was holding the phone because I was getting ready to call my son. I refused to believe someone took my phone that quick.

I turned in circles, I retraced my steps. I even checked the fridge to make sure I didn’t set the phone in there when I took out snacks. No phone. My feelings were hurt, not just because my phone was gone, but my coworkers and I were going above what we needed to provide.

Some of the people present were familiar to us, but there were also new faces. I couldn’t understand why someone would take a phone that would be shut down as soon as I realized it was missing. I also had a code on it. All I could say was “wow.”

I had bigger issues to deal with at the moment. I realize that life can’t stop because I’m frustrated. My son still had to get to a basketball game. My grandfather’s funeral is coming up in a couple of days. And our day camp program is starting on Monday.

It was several hours later before I was able to get over my feelings of disappointment and discouragement. Now I can say I still have joy. I reflected on my first speaking engagement from last month, where part of the theme was “having joy.”

If you want to learn about having joy, read the book of Philippians. As I prepared for the speaking engagement, I learned a lot about joy. Below is a recap of what I spoke about.

When we think about Paul’s message to the church at Philipi and how the book of Philippians stresses having joy, does it make you wonder how can they have joy? And where can I get some of that joy?

How can we have some of that joy while going through challenges?

For one thing…I Corinthians 4:16 says, “Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.” You see when we follow Jesus, we’re following the right one. It’s like the old Pepsi commercial, “you got the right one babyyyy.”

How many of you know there is purpose in our trials? Somebody reading this may be going through something. Somebody doesn’t know how their bills are going to be paid next week, how they’re going to put gas in their car, worried about their kids or parents. There’s trouble on the job, there’s job loss. All kinds of trials going on, but nothing is too big for God to work out.

When you have joy, the Lord will strengthen you. When you have strength….guess what? You can move forward. Joy is an obligation and something we should have despite our circumstances. Joy comes in our lives because of our relationship with Christ.
The gospel singing duo, Mary Mary said you can’t get mad at the things you been through it builds your muscle. Your faith is NOT small.

Don’t let anyone still your joy! Rest, regroup and keep moving forward.

Have you experienced a time when it was difficult to find joy in a situation?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Write on! – Using props to stimulate creative writing (and thinking)

I have the privilege of teaching a creative writing mini camp this week to first through third graders. The kids are having fun and it is a great experience for me. There are a wide range of levels that make up the class.
Some of the kids read well, others are just learning and one group prefers to act out their stories. All of them worked together in their individual groups. Their teachers would be happy to know they are retaining the information they learn in school. I asked the kids “What three things should all stories have?”
One girl waved her hand excitedly, and when I called on her she said, “A beginning, middle and an end.” It was my turn for untamed excitement, “YES.” Since we were off to a good start, I jumped right into the lesson. We discussed the tools that are needed to make a silly story (our topic for that day)…characters, plot, exaggeration, etc.
On the first day the kids decorated masks and used them as a character in their story. These were the same masks that my kids had fun playing with in the store before I purchased them (the photos from my last blog).
The next day the kids made paper bag puppets. I wasn’t sure if this age group still liked simplistic crafts such as this, but had a blast. In addition to the puppets, each group had a set of guidelines they had to following creating their stories.
Each group was given a different setting, plot, and character to use in their story. For example:
  • Setting – a dark cave
  • Character – a queen
  • Plot – character is going to meet friends
Toward the end of each class session, the groups read and/or acted out their story. Take a look at the photos from our second day of class (Parkridge Community Center).

Acting out their story.

If your child likes making craft projects, feel free to use the things discussed in this blog. Other projects planned for the kids this week include:
  • Cereal box journals
  • Paper plate bugs
  • Create stories using pictures from magazines

What ideas do you use to get kids to have fun while they’re also learning something new?

Monday, June 25, 2012

A picture is worth a thousand words – capturing kids in candid photos

I had to go to JoAnn’s (fabric/craft store) to purchase a few items for a class I was planning to teach. My kids think it’s a fate worse than death to go with me to JoAnn’s. The moans of agony began as soon as we pulled into the parking lot. “Do we have to go? How long are we going to be in here?”
This trip was different than my typical shopping for material to make a throw blanket or article of clothing. This time I only needed craft supplies. Luckily for me and the boys there was a $1 bin near the front of the store.

There was a variety of masks on sticks that kids could decorate. Of course my kids had to try them out and take pictures of each other.
Once we left the $1 bin, there were more treasures to be found in the back of the store and more opportunities for crazy photos. I don’t think my kids realize that I save all of their photos and I plan to use them when they graduate from school.

The photos also create memories that will last a lifetime. Photos from our shopping trip to JoAnn’s are below.

Chef "Homeboyarde" -  He gave himself this name.

I’m surprised we didn’t get kicked out of the store.
Have you ever caught your kids doing something silly? Your challenge this week is to capture your child doing something silly or funny and report back next week. Tell how it made you feel…did you laugh, scream, join them?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Feel Good Friday – Faith

Faith – “…the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

What does it mean to have the faith of a mustard seed? Just think of how tiny those mustard seeds are, smaller than a green pea. If we have just a small amount of faith, wonders can happen. The faith of a mustard seed is stronger than a mountain of doubt.
I hope you enjoy this poem about mustard seed faith and find it encouraging.

Faith of a Mustard Seed
by Karen Chalfant
Rise and go to Jesus
With your heavy laden heart,
And know that you don’t have to carry it
For mercy He will impart.

Let Him lift your burdens
As a bird lifts his wings in flight,
Knowing that He is faithful
To lift your soul to great heights.

Don’t let your troubles rule you
For all these things shall pass,
And greater things await
The greatest of which will last.

Find that mustard seed of faith
That lies within your heart,
And take it to your Savior
Whose faithfulness is only the start.

Have you ever encountered a situation that required you to lean on faith?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tips to make eating healthy a little easier and a few recipes to get you started

My version of Olga's Chicken Blue Cheese Salad - minus the walnuts (didn't have any on hand) and added Craisins.

Summertime is a great time to experiment with meal preparation. Whether it’s in the kitchen or on the grill creating something new can add a spark to your routine meals. When it comes to cooking I can’t compete with Betty Crocker, Martha Stewart or Emeril, but I don’t mind trying something new.
One of my favorite foods to eat is a salad. When I come across a great salad I try to re-create it at home. Sometimes I make additions of my own. Olga’s Kitchen used to carry a Chicken Blue Cheese salad that I was hooked on. Below is my replication of the Olga’s salad and other tips to making eating healthy a little easier:
  • Keep it simple – It has been said by many experts that when we skip meals or wait too long to eat, we’ll grab the first thing we can get our hands on. Why not keep a few healthy foods on hand that can be prepared quickly. Here is my recipe for a quick salad (see photo above).
Spring Mix lettuce
Grilled chicken (optional – not in photo of salad)
Mandarin Oranges
Blue Cheese
Glazed Walnuts or Almonds
Raspberry Vinaigrette (Lite) dressing

  • Prepare a fun snack or meal – Making an occasional fun snack is also something that the kids can help with. Fruit Smoothies are a real treat and don’t take long to make.
Strawberry Banana Smoothie
3-4 Strawberries
1 Medium Banana
1 Cup of Cranberry juice
4 Ice Cubes
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend. Pour in a glass, add whip cream (optional), and sip through a straw. Aaahhh.

Fruit Kabob
Poke fruits onto a skewer and they're ready for the palate, Kids love this part...putting the fruit on the and eating it.
  • Prep foods in advance – cut up a bowl of fresh fruits and/or vegetables so they are handy when you get hungry.
One of my kids’ favorite things to make is to pour their favorite drink in an ice tray and let it freeze. Once the ice cubes are frozen they put them in a glass and pour a different beverage over them. I call it a mess, but they call it a creation.
What foods are on your list of healthy things to eat during the summer or anytime? Do you have any tips that make it easier to eat healthy?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Schools out, what will the kids do for the summer?

On the last day of school my son came home with a drawstring bag full of books. Well, there were eight paperback books, but in his eyes there were a million. The school gave some of the kid’s books to encourage summer reading.
The books came with a suggested plan of action for completion, “read one book per week.” My son said, “They must have given these books to the wrong kid. I don’t like reading that much.”

We are working on a compromise. Sometimes I wonder why I even enter into negotiations with a 12 year old. I think it’s because listening to my son’s rationale is always entertaining. He thinks he should receive a reward for everything he does. 

Example: “What will I get if I clean my room and the living room?” or “If I do all of my chores without you asking, will you buy me something at the store?”
Needless to say, I have my work cut out for me. So, for the summer there will be reading accomplished in some form. I have registered both the boys (and myself) for the summer reading program at our local library.

The library’s program DOES offer rewards for reading so many minutes (younger kids) or for reading so many books (adults). We’ve already cashed in on the free ice cream cones just for registering for the program.
As far as “fun” things for the kids to do, we’re always in search of inexpensive outings. The kids are already looking forward to spending as much time as possible at Rolling Hills Water Park. They are really encouraging begging me to get a season pass.
Doing a hand stand...are his legs supposed to be straight in the air?

My kids love the water.

If you’re in the Ann Arbor area, there is a Summer Carnival at Pioneer High School coming up, June 20-24. The Ann Arbor Mom Blog lists this and other inexpensive family outings.

Photo courtesy of Ann Arbor Jaycees

I like carnivals as much as the kids do, so I’m sure we’ll show up at one somewhere this summer.

What are your summer plans with (or without) the kids?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Celebrating Father's Day – What are your fondest memories?

Artwork by my dad- Ron Scarbough

As a child I remember making pictures and signing Father’s Day cards for my grandfather, affectionately known as Daddy Bob. His gifts included the typical monogram handkerchiefs or a tie.
Some of my fondest memories with Daddy Bob are milestone times in my life. Occasionally he drove me to school during my middle school years. He let me drive his Cadillac during high school. He drove me back to school during college years, and he walked me down the aisle at my wedding.

It wasn’t until later years that I established a relationship with my father. It was a great treat to have him make my wedding cake. Some of my creative juices come from my father, as he is an artist by profession. I should clarify by saying I don’t draw, but I do have a passion for writing and other forms of art.
Today I send out words of gratitude to all of the special dads (grandfathers, husbands, brothers, uncles) for all that you do.


God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,

The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagles flight,

The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,

Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew his masterpiece was complete,
And so, He called it ... Dad

Author Unknown

 What are your fondest memories of spending time with the father figure in your life?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Confessions of tired mom

Photo courtesy of nafbm.org.

Does it seem like sometimes one day just blends into the next? The kids have homework, practices, you have to make dinner and the list goes on. Then you start again the next day. Have you experienced a time when you have had so much to do that you forget something or just don’t have time to do it?
In a previous blog post I wrote about how I can fall asleep anywhere when I’m tired, well my story doesn’t end there. I have many confessions of things that don’t get done because I am too tired.

  • I have let my son go to bed without brushing his teeth because I am too tired to struggle with him about it. The battle would be a true a story of man versus man.
  • My kids eat food from a can (with a pop top, no can opener needed) if I am too tired to cook. The positive side is they are old enough to prepare a few things themselves. I am beginning a routine of having the kids prepare a meal one night a week.
  • Trying to keep kids schedules coordinated can sometimes lead to memory lapse. A mom in my carpool asked if I need her to pick up my son on the last day of school. Neither of us knew if the last day was a half day, so I said I would call the school. I also wanted to verify that Wednesday was the last day of school and not Thursday as I thought.

I called the school when the secretary answered I asked, “When is the last day of school for the kids?” In a high pitched voice (not my normal tone), I also asked, “Is it a half day?”

She responded by saying, “Mrs. Verges, you can’t disguise your voice, I know it’s you.” I was busted. I just started laughing. I told her that I really didn’t want her to know that I didn’t know when school ended. Obviously I spend too much time at the school if she recognizes my voice.

  • I let the kids play longer than they should, instead of getting their chores done. Some days the kids get away with a lot more than they should because I don’t feel like standing over them to be sure the tasks are done.
So what is the solution to being overworked and too tired to do anything? Eliminate some of the things that you are doing. I am learning to say no to a few things. You can’t be everywhere, all the time and not expect to be tired.

You also have to make time for yourself and know that you are not being selfish. Do something that you find relaxing or invigorating. It doesn't have to be anything extravagant. Sometimes it's the little things that go a long way.
What do you do when you feel overworked? How do you rejuvenate?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Live out loud – do something that you’ve never done

“If you want your life to be a magnificent story, then begin by recognizing you are the author & every day you have the opportunity to write a new page.” By Mark Houlahan.

 I came across the above quote and it made me stop and think about the daily routine of parenting. Although there are things that have to be accomplished each day, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up over the things that don’t get done. We have the opportunity to start over the next day.
As parents we often put our needs and wants on hold to take care of the needs of our children. Is there something that you have always wanted to do, but never got around to doing it? Perhaps the time is now to write a new page in your life. You don’t have to wait for New Year’s resolutions as your starting point, be like the Nike slogan and Just do it!

Live out loud and try something you’ve never done before or haven’t done in a long time. I used to be a hula hoop champion in fifth grade and yes I remember back that far. The kids at my job had the hula hoops out one day and I decided to join them. The hula hoop went around my waist one revolution before it hit the floor, but I can still keep it going around my arms.
Trying something new may require you to step out of your comfort zone. Sometimes we have to do this to realize opportunities that are placed before us. Don’t miss your opportunity.

Make a resolution this week to do something different or start something new. Add a new page to your life using brilliant colors. What would your new page look like?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tips for keeping a prayer journal

It doesn't take much to begin your prayer journal.

I recently read an article titled, Tips for keeping a prayer journal and thought I would share this with you. I have always been a journal keeping kind of girl, but I have not specifically had a prayer journal. The article indicated that a prayer journal is a good way to deepen your faith and to spend time with God.

The tips given for keeping a prayer journal include the following:

Write down your prayer requests
“Instead of worrying about everything, pray about anything.” It doesn’t matter how large or small anything can be taken to God in prayer. Many times I pray for my kids and they don’t even know it. It could be a prayer about their day at school, behavior situations or their safety.

Praise God for His blessings
Think of things that you are grateful for. We can thank God for the basic blessings that define our lives, like family, food and friends. The author of the article said, she writes down 5 things that she is thankful for. She included things like – “I am thankful for the funny email received from a friend. It helped me start my day with a smile.”

Write down a scripture
“The prayer journal isn’t just about you talking to God, but you listening to Him and waiting on His word.”  As you write down scriptures, this helps to deepen your faith and can also be a point of reflection later.

To view the full article visit www.o5.com/tips-for-keeping-a-prayer-journal/.

What tips do you have for starting a prayer journal?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tips for teaching kid’s tact and diplomacy

The dress my son calls my
"Skittle" dress.

Have you heard the sayings, “out of the mouths of babes” or “kids say the darndest things?” The quirky things kids say when they are young are cute. However, when they’re 12 years old or older it may not be as cute.
My realization that kids (my kids) need tact and diplomacy came when I decided to have a mommy makeover. I had my hair highlighted for the spring. When I picked up my son from school he looked at me and said, “What happened to your hair?”

I responded by saying, “I changed my look.”
As my son raised his eyebrows he said, “You should change it back.”

I looked at him and said, “May your children be just like you.”
My son likes to joke around, but I have to make sure he knows what is appropriate when joking with other people.

Another part of my makeover included buying a new outfit. My son happened to be with me as I tried on dresses. I exited the fitting room and asked what he thought of the dress. “It looks like a pack of Skittles.” I purchased the colorful dress anyway.
As I was paying for my dress, a customer in line next to me said she wanted to see the Skittle dress. She had overheard my son’s comment. I showed the dress to her and she happened to like it.

So how to you teach kids about tact and diplomacy? Discuss the tips below with your child.
    1. Don’t blurt out the first thing that pops in your head. Kids need to know there is a time and place for everything. For example, they shouldn’t blurt out, “This food is nasty,” while at a party. Even if he thinks the statement is true, there is a better way to express thoughts where no one feels offended.
    2. Be aware of other people’s feelings. Sometimes kids don’t know when they’re hurting someone’s feelings. Kids may tease each other or their siblings, but not realize when the joke has gone too far. We see this all the time in schools in the form of bullying.
    Social behavior is learned. Kids have to, “develop the ability to decode body language and facial expressions, and know when to stop. It’s one of those life tips that they learn only with guidance.” www.o5.com/how-to-teach-kids-to-be-tactful/.
    1. Get used to doing things the correct way at home.  I always tell my kids to practice doing things the right way so that when they go out in public they don’t look bad or make me look bad. I am usually referring to etiquette things like stuffing their mouths with food, or belching at the dinner table etc. However, practicing tact and diplomacy at home can apply to any situation.
    What tips do you have for teaching kids how to be tactful?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday Musings – Trivia – Can you identify products/electronics, games from the past?

 Do you remember when all T.V. shows ended by 2:00am? There was no flipping through channels after 2:00am. Test your knowledge or memory by looking at the items below to see how many you can identify. The answers are at the bottom of the page (don’t cheat).













 Bonus questions (s) – Do you remember the theme song to any of the following T.V. shows

  • The Brady Bunch
  • Gilligan’s Island
  • The Jefferson’s
  • The Addams Family
In the TV show, The Munsters, what was their home address?

1. Eight Track Tape
2. Cassette Tape
3. Vinyl Record
4. Easy Bake Oven
5. GI Joe
6. Rotary Telephone
7. Record Player
8. Super Friends (including Aqua Man)
9. School House Rock
10. Soul Train dance show
11. Hong Kong Phooey - cartoon  (dog) detective/police
12. Lawn mower - the kind my grandfather still has...he's 95 yrs old
Answers to bonus questions

The Brady Bunch - "Here's the story of a lovely lady, who was bringing up three very lovely girls. All of them had hair of gold, like their mother...the youngest one in curls..."

Gilligan's Island - "Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a faithful trip...that started on a tropic Isle aboard this tiny ship..."

The Jeffersons - "Well' we're movin on up to the east side, to a delux apartment in the sky..."

The Addams Family - "They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky. They're altogether ooky, the Addams Family..."

How did you do? If you got all of the bonus trivia correct, you watched a lot of T.V. as a child (so did I). Did the trivia challenge bring back memories?

What items do you remember playing with as a child or what T.V. shows did you watch?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Feel Good Friday - What makes you smile or laugh?

If you take a minute to think about the last time you smiled or laughed out loud, what was the cause of your joy? What kind of things put a smile on your face?
Below is a short list of things that brighten my face with a smile.

  1. Eating a grape Popsicle in the warm sunshine.
  2. My son trying to dance (off beat).
  3. My husband telling a corny joke, and laughing like its funny.
  4. Watching kids open gifts.
  5. Fitting into an outfit that I haven’t worn in a long time (because it was too tight).
  6. Reading a good book with a satisfying ending.
  7. When kids do something nice when its least expected.
  8. Spending time with friends.
  9. Making someone else smile.
  10. Knowing that God’s got my back. He can do anything, but fail. He can make a way out of no way. He is the Alpha and Omega. Wait, am I preaching? Oh well. It’s still good to have God’s divine intervention.
Find a reason to laugh out loud today and share the experience.