Tag Archives: Toddlers

A Ladybug & a Laptop

Deeply broken then made whole
beaten and weary
life knows how to take its toll.
And still there is truth
there is hope on even the darkest night
for there is a purpose
found in God’s light.

The world tugs
and tries to convince us to flee
to give up and in
but that’s not who God wants us to be.

The worries knock
and they pound to get in
but God’s word reminds us
this is a victory He will always win.

So as they shout
and even through each doubt
God has a purpose
greater than what the world says it’s about.
So don’t run from it
don’t hide or flee
for you are God’s handiwork
created so wonderfully.
So trust and become-
all God created you to be.

🐞 For a few days now, there’s been a ladybug in my bedroom. I noticed it first on a part of the ceiling where I can’t reach. Then the day started and online teaching began, and it was something I no longer noticed. Then the next morning I noticed it again but in a different spot. Once again I could not reach it so it was soon erased from my sight and mind. But then yesterday morning as I woke up and went to get up, I noticed that this lady bug was no longer on my ceiling. Instead it had landed right on my laptop on the decal “Just be Who God Made You to Be.”

🐞 And that moment hit me like it was a way to slow me down and bring me back to the basics… to who I am… to who God created me to be.

🐞 We are all created with a distinct purpose. We are all God’s handiwork. We are born that way and yet from an early start the world throws challenges and distractions at us that can make steer away from that purpose. It can make us think that we must be who the world wants and needs us to be. And in that, everything can become confusing.

🐞 But God’s word and purposes are true and clear. They do not bring confusion.
They bring clarity.


So we must pray to God for it.

🐞 We must pray for those God-given purposes to be revealed, sharpened and used. We must pray to stay aware, connected, and aligned with His wisdom, direction and strength with it. And we must stay aware that the reminders will come when we need them.

God knows what we need.

🐞 We must just be open and ready to see and more importantly, accept them, swallowing away the pride and making the changes we need to make. We must use the reminders to bring us back to reality… to bring us back to what God has created us to be.

🐞 So be ready for those those moments that stop us. No matter how big or small they are, you’ll know them when they come. Pray for the wisdom, acceptance and obedience to be renewed by them too. For God is trying to do such a great work in you.

🐞 And much like that ladybug who held on tight as I walked the laptop downstairs and outside to set her free…
we must hold on tight to God’s word…
for it too will set us free.

Fun Fact: l always assumed a ladybug was a beetle that got its name because of his polka dots. The polka dots leaned towards a female and thus it was a LADYbug. I was wrong in my assumption. Instead, ladybugs are named after one amazing lady, Jesus’ mother Mary. While it is unknown for sure why, many theories state it symbolizes the red cloak Mary is often seen wearing in paintings. There are other theories too related to Mary. Those theories all point to being a gift from God. I always thought ladybugs were pretty but now their beauty has taken a whole other beautiful meaning. 🐞


“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians‬ ‭2:10‬ ‭NIV)‬‬

Prayer:
Dear God,
You created it all for a purpose. Your purpose reigns above it all. Forgive us when we steer away from what you created us for. Empower us with the Holy Spirit and fill our lives with wisdom, direction and clarity on our purpose. I pray for the courage to be obedient to it today and every day. I pray for a world where more and more people learn to do this too, all for your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Kindness is Strength

Kindness is attractive.

It is contagious.

It is brave.

It is strength.

Yet, kindness is not always seen this way. The misconception is that it is the opposite. That strength develops from others’ weaknesses and that being kind is not having a backbone. That the only way to get ahead in life is to be cruel, stomping on others, making everyone in your way know who is boss.

But true strength has nothing to do with that. It has nothing to do with the hatred that is often so much easier to throw out during the day. It has no comparison to what bringing light to the positive could do instead. For when strength is gained in the midst of kindness, it is beyond empowering to the body and to others. When kindness is used in its true essence, it changes people’s days, it changes lives, it changes the world, it changes you. And while it can be argued that it starts from within, much of it truly begins to surface with our words.

So be kind today. Make a conscious effort to be kind. No matter what the world tries to tell us, Toby Mac has it right with his quote, “Kindness is always in style.”

Wear Those Hats Proudly

This morning as my daughter was getting ready for school, we almost forgot that it was Hat Day! Therefore at the last minute, we searched through her closet and found several options to choose from. From a beach hat to a few wool ones to the princess cap that she picked, they were all right there. She did not need to carry a bag full of them to school or pile them all upon her head. Instead, she picked one and went off to school. I could not help but reflect on the simplicity in that and how life these days has become quite the opposite. Our days seem to be full with a large arrange of hats to wear and roles to fill with no choice on the table but to wear them all.

For most of us, 2020 has given us so many more hats to wear. From wife to mother to teacher to therapist to technology support to coach to comedian to detective to motivator to entertainer to EVERYTHING ELSE, this year has given us all so many more roles to play. And that alone is exhausting. I don’t know about you, but I was exhausted before 2020 even hit.

Still, it came and continues to challenge us to the core. 2020 has challenged us out of our comfort zones and into uncomfortable places. And while most of us do not like to be uncomfortable, it is in the discomfort we grow. It is in the discomfort we learn. It is in the discomfort we are challenged. It is in the discomfort we step into more. It is in the discomfort we become everything we were created to become. It is in the discomfort that God is working and right besides us. So, embrace God during this time and even if it all feels so heavy and like nothing makes sense, lean into Him and trust. Make room for Him. Put it all into His hands. Then, use those emptied hands to grab a hold of His word and His promises. Then together with Him, embrace those hats and wear them all proudly and boldly, knowing that there is a whole world out there, out of our comfort zones, waiting for us.

So, while there may be a lot of suffering, pain and discomfort, choose to trust and believe that with every step you take in and through it, God is using it to make you stronger…because YOU were made for more.

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

So wear those hats proudly and wave them boldly through the raging storms. Celebrate all that you are growing into…and the strength that is being uncovered within you… because it is something truly amazing! Most importantly, use your gifts and embrace the most important hat we all have access to… being a believer and child of God.

BROKEN TO LIFE

The rays blind my eyes
and still I see your face
trying to slow me down
and restore my pace.

The heat of the days
as the sun reveals each thing
needing to be repaired
in order for love, to truly sing.

And even through the darkness
or the sun of my broken parts
the moon beats the light
into such broken hearts.

So wherever I am
whatever part of day
or even of the night
though I am broken
God wants to fix
He wants to restore
through defensive walls and ways
He wants us not to fight.
He wants us to invest in His word
and also His love
He wants to shine His light.

For what is now broken
can always be
broken into life.

REFLECTION:

When something in our house like a washer or refrigerator is broken, we look to fix it. And when it is thought to be unfixable or unrepairable, we invest in a new one. The same goes with ideas. Sometimes, our ways become broken because we are broken. We are imperfect people with imperfect ways. But that doesn’t mean, we should allow guilt, shame or fear to keep us there. Instead, God loves us each so dearly and deeply no matter what. He wants to grow and teach us to become more and more like him. He wants to do that through these broken areas and ways. And he makes it all possible through him. Therefore, let us reflect on what is broken today and turn to Him, the only one with all the true answers, to guide us how to fix it. And if he says it is not fixable in this way, just maybe he is calling us to turn to Him to invest in a new way. Not everything that is broken needs to be fixed. Instead, sometimes, it is leading us to invest in new ways, new options, new ideas that help to truly break us free.

Whatever is it God is doing, it often cannot be figured out. We cannot put our God and His plans into a box. It’s too big and beyond our understanding to do that. Instead, we must press in and pray for Him to reveal what in our lives is broken and needs to be invested in.

No money in the world can compare to what happens when we invest in love.

Nothing in the world compare to what beauty is grown and even restored when we invest in love like Jesus.

SCRIPTURE:

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Instruct and teach the people all that I’ve taught you. And don’t be intimidated by those who are older than you; simply be the example they need to see by being faithful and true in all that you do. Speak the truth and live a life of purity and authentic love as you remain strong in your faith. So until I come, be diligent in devouring the Word of God, be faithful in prayer, and in teaching the believers.”
‭‭ – 1 Timothy‬ ‭4:11-13‬ ‭TPT‬‬

“Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
‭‭- 1 Timothy‬ ‭4:11-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Dear God,

You do not fit in a box. We cannot put your love or any of your will in a box either. Forgive us when we do that. Help us to see within though. Reveal how we can grow our broken parts to be more like you. And reveal to us also when we need to invest in new ways that are more aligned with You. God you are so good and whatever you are in the midst of, is so good too. So I pray today you refresh us and make us afresh and anew. So that whatever we do, you shine through and that we become vessels of integrity, truth and love. I pray that despite whatever you show us and are changing within us we find peace in you and in the everlasting love you have for us despite our flaws, sins and broken ways. Thank you for loving each of us the same and help us to humble ourselves enough to grow and learn and see what you are showing us. Help us to go where you are taking us, invested in love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT…

We all are broken and need repair. God is the only one who can truly bring that. Let us pray that He reveals what needs to be repaired or even replaced within our lives today. And when He does, let’s pray that we continue to invest His word and love into these new ways and restored parts.

© Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House (theartofamessyhouse.com), 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Lion and The Mouse

A mouse and a lion are very different

from the outside

their lines trace them out to be that way

in fact they define opposite

-the world would like to say.

They would say

they are too different

from their creases to the way they walk

to how loudly they shout

or how quietly they talk.

From even how dull their pasts reflect

or how bright their scars shine.

Our world likes to do it that way

they divide and build borders –

for this is yours,

and this is mine.

They tell me that a thousand likes

or a dozen comments and words

are the way to succeed and dream,

but through the eyes of each heart

even a lion and a mouse

are more alike than they seem.

For when we strip away each layer,

when we peel back each scar,

revealed becomes each heart

and we see how similar

we really are.

When we forget how they live or look

when we let go of what we have been told

when the crowds cannot gather

and the events are put on hold,

when we forget what they say

though so much has changed,

we start to see people

in this new and beautiful way.

Change is happening.

Differences do exist,

but when it becomes about each heart

love doesn’t just conquer, it really can persist.

And that is where we realize

that like the mouse and the lion

we need each other

not the competition or fame

not the “he said, she said” game

because despite our beautiful differences

we

are all

very much the same.

Anniversaries

We must celebrate relationships in our lives and anniversaries are a perfect time to do that. Even though it is just one day of the year, it is often difficult to find time for even the people who mean the most to us. My husband is my rock and while it has been 14 years since we met and 10 years of marriage, he continues to be the best decision I ever made.

I was 27 years of age when we got married and still really relied on the opinions of others at the time. The beach wedding I wanted was frowned upon and even the fitted dress I wanted received those frowns too. Therefore, to steer clear of any more added drama on our special day, I made decisions based on others not completely on what my heart was telling me. Still, we had a perfect day, truly one of the best days of my life.

A few years after our wedding, I told my husband that if we ever remarried (of course to each other), I would do things the way we felt was right for us, not what was right for others. I then forgave those people and even myself for that time, acknowledging how much I had grown. It was then we also came up with a great idea: we would renew our vows at 10 years on the beach in the town where we met!

So two days ago we did just that! We renewed our love with personally written vows to each other’s and engraved wedding bands. We brought our children, parents and aunt to come to the beach where it all started 14 plus years ago. (I even got to wear a fitted white dress.) It was beyond special and perfect! God even held the rain until right afterwards.

Life is about these moments. In life, it is often easy to celebrate the big ones like weddings. However, we must make the time for the smaller moments too. They deserve to be celebrated too!

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

https://www.bible.com/111/ecc.4.12.niv

Though my husband and I are there to support and defend each other, it really helps having God as the first strand in our cord of three. “A triple braided cord is not easily broken.” Life is filled with highs and lows, mountains and valleys. However, it is with that added support of faith that we can better climb together tied to the strongest rope possible for when we fall. I know it is hard to take a single hair band out of my daughter’s curly hair as it can easily get tangled. We are like that single band when we stand alone. God must come first. And even though I fought that for so long, His undeserving grace led my husband and I together over fourteen years ago.

My blue eyed dream come true.

My answered prayer.

“You and me together
Through the days and nights
I don’t worry ’cause
Everything’s going to be alright ” – “No one” by Alicia Keyes

But remember anniversaries only come once a year, we must try to make the time to celebrate the important people and relationships we have throughout the year too.

Love always finds a way… if we let it.

Love is always the answer.

So I’m striving to continue to make sure my priorities are in order and to value my friendships and relationships even more.

My goal is to celebrate my marriage by making the time for it each day … even if that means that some nights the kitchen counter id let an unorganized mess.

Peach Cobbler Cookies (Dairy free, egg free, peanut free)

 Who doesn’t love a good cookie? Cookies are one of my favorite types of desserts to eat and also experiment with. This summer when I was looking for something new to bring to barbecues, I stumbled across some recipes for peach cobblers. Since my son has dairy, egg and peanut allergies, he cannot eat dessert unless it is made by us or purchased from one of our reliable companies. Therefore, I tend to like to bring desserts to events so that he can be included too. Everyone deserves to be included!

The following recipe is a play on peach cobbler. It is dairy, egg and peanut free as well! Add some ice cream to the top or sandwich it in between two cookies! You will want to put those summer diets aside for this one.

However you decide to eat them, they are promised to be delicious and totally worth the mess on the counter.

 

INGREDIENTS

1 cup Vegan butter

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup applesauce

1.5 teaspoons vanilla or almond extract

2 Tablespoons dairy-free milk (We used almond, cashew, pea called Protein Milk by Silk because of its thickness and richness)

3 cups flour (We used organic, whole wheat but it can be substituted for a gluten free one)

1.5 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup chopped peaches (skinned and cut into tiny pieces)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Skin and cut the peaches into tiny pieces.
  3. Mix melted butter and sugars in a bowl.
  4. Add the extract, milk and applesauce.
  5. Add flour and the rest of the ingredients into another bowl.
  6. Mix both bowls together.
  7. Stir and fold in peaches.
  8. Grease trays with non-dairy butter.  Press cookie circles down with a fork. We made them about 2 inches in diameter.
  9. Bake for 16 minutes.
  10. Enjoy by themselves or with some dairy-free ice cream.  Our favorite to eat it with is vanilla cashew ice cream by So Delicious.

Puppy Love

We were married for over five years before we had kids. Honestly, I’m not sure why it was that way other than it took me awhile to be ready. We traveled a lot and worked a lot. And the truth was… kids terrified me.

So of course to test our responsibility waters a bit before jumping to the chase, we did the only responsible thing a couple do … We got a puppy!

Now, Bailey was the cutest puppy ever. I know we were biased of course. But he really was. We did everything for and with him… he slept with us… he traveled with us … he had puppy play dates … daily walks… we played… we swore nothing would change!

Until kids came…

Recently, when I was reflecting back to those days, I started to get a bit sad about it all. He is still the first one to greet you beyond enthusiastically when you come home, even if it involves a bit of an aggressive butt sniff. He is still the one who comes over when you are upset to comfort you and he is the first one to greet you in the morning. I am not sure if that’s a positive thing being that he wakes at 4 am every day of the week looking for breakfast.

However, he was our first and although I must admit that when I’m unloading the groceries or when I’m unpacking and repacking backpacks while cooking dinner and I trip over Bailey rummaging for food, I do find myself getting annoyed. When the kids are screaming and insurance has you on hold again for the tenth time, it’s so easy to take out our frustration on the person or furry companion that we know will not judge us. It’s the truth and it’s why I promise myself I would put an end to it starting this week.

Sure, Bailey is a bit inappropriate with the butt sniff he greets everyone with. He barks up a storm for anyone who parks or walks near our street especially if they have a dog. He is constantly looking for food scraps and sure gets enough of them now that my kids have learned that. He may snore like it is his job. But he is a good dude… the perfect companion who will never judge us … and that is pure love!

Therefore, we’ve added in a few ways to show him our appreciation.

like always, we never leave without hugging and kissing him goodbye. And we never come home without doing the same. After the kids go to sleep, I spend some time just patting him and loving him up. When we make our stop at Petco every other week to look at the kittens, fish and other pets, we also pick up a special treat for Bailey, even if the chance of him destroying it within ten minutes is high.

I want to teach my kids the love of a pet so that they can carry that over into their grownup lives. So Bailey I do apologize if babies got my brain for a few years, but I promise you your time and that you will always get fed as soon as we get home from school/work even if it means the bags and lunches remain unpacked a little longer.

Legos For Days

It’s so incredible to watch the personality, gifts and talents of a child unfold. All are so distinct and special from each other, a great reminder of how each of us is our own unique person, even at a young age. A great reminder that all of us have our own God-given gifts and purpose.

As a special education teacher, it is my job to discover and teach to each individual student’s own talents and strengths. It is both my privilege and obligation to empower them against any challenges they may have or face. It’s part of my nature now to do this in the classroom. However, in the home, it is a bit more complicated at times.

Both my husband and I played sports for most of our lives and assumed that our children would want to too. And even though they are both so young yet at the ages of 2 and 5, their little but LARGE personalities and interests are already shining through …

I first saw this with my son. He may not be asking to go throw a football right now; but he is following in my husband’s footsteps of loving Legos. Since the age of 2.5, TJ has loved puzzles, activity sticker books, creating, building and taking objects apart. Literally, he could spend hours, and even days partaking in these activities. Proud Mama over here when he turned four and started to tackle legos made for as high up as 10 years old and older.

It’s all fun and games until you have 10 boxes of Legos and pieces all over the place.

That is when we created TJ’s LEGO room. While it now holds 40 sets and counting, it is much more organized these days, even if TJ takes it apart five times a day.

So while I can’t help but to be a little sad as we transform his room from baby giraffes and elephants to Legos for days, I also can’t help but to be proud of the amazing person he is and continues to become. A nice organization system amongst the mess helps the transition as well…

Madi wanted in on the fun too…

Slow Cooker Sweet and Tangy Chicken

I have always loved to cook and bake for parties.  I have always loved to host parties.  After food allergies came into our lives, I became a bit apprehensive in this area.  However, with time and healing from the post traumatic stress of TJ’s first anaphylactic reaction, I embrace them again.  I also embrace a tasty new allergy-safe recipe that could be used for the parties we now host again.   One example of this was a chicken recipe that we made for his third birthday party, sweet and tangy chicken.

 

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So here it is:

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 bottles of sesame teriyaki sauce or a sauce of your choice(We used Organicville brand) Sauce Website
  • 1-2 cans of organic pineapple chunks with juice or a fresh pineapple (chopped up 3/4 of the pineapple and put the other 1/4 of it in the Vitamix or blender of choice to make your juice
  • 1 green or red pepper chopped
  • 1-2 onion chopped (I like onions and usually had some extra
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 8 boneless skinless organic chicken breasts

Directions:

  1. Mix teriyaki sauce with pineapple chunks, juice, pepper, onion and garlic.
  2. Place 4 pieces of chicken on the bottom of the slow cooker
  3. Pour half of the sauce over it.
  4. Place the other four chicken breasts on top.
  5. Pour the rest of the sauce.
  6. Cover and cook on low for 9 hours.
  • Start with one bottle of the sauce when cooking.  Then, add the second bottle to taste.
  • Note: This sauce has sesame.  Sesame is the 9th most common food allergy in our country and now an allergy in our house too.  Substitute with a sauce that will work with your family and their needs. We know we will be doing just that the next time we make this so that Madi can enjoy too.
  • Note 2: Always make sure to check and double check every ingredient to make sure it is safe for you and your own family. Remember to label read even if you have already used the product before. Companies do change the make up of their products sometimes so it is in the best interest of everyone to always check.

What a simple, but tasty recipe that all guests will devour. It may even give you some extra time out of the messy kitchen, to mingle and enjoy too. This is an area I’m still working on…