I have a pair of shoes. 

One is called “hope” – the other, “dreams.” 

I put on these shoes every day 

They are still my favorite

They go with every outfit

They are just broken in enough to fit me comfortably every time I slip them on. 

When I first got them, they were shiny and pretty 

And I couldn’t wait to show them to everyone

Their heels clip-clopped on the floor as I walked,

Loud enough that everyone knew I was coming.

Now, they make a dull thudding sound instead.

I still love them, but they are faded at the edges.  

Perhaps I love them even more today because of it.

They feel less pretentious now. 

It’s easier to fit in when your shoes don’t blind people with their shine.

Sometimes people talk about my shoes

I think their heels are probably too tall for me, 

I don’t like to tower over others

It’s very grounding to have to look up.

So, sometimes I take them off

And I feel a bit freer

But something about being barefoot makes people uncomfortable as well

So, I always put them back on – worn and tattered though they are. 

They are good shoes. 

They support my weight and compliment my appearance

They’re good shoes.

 I remind myself of this as others remind me, too.

Then, one day I realize the heel has worn down to the metal of “hope.”

I hear clip-clopping again as I walk – but now it’s an obnoxious grating sound of metal against concrete, and not the comforting echo it once held.  

Soon after, I notice the front of the sole has come away from the leather upper of “dreams”.  It makes a “flip-flop” sound as I walk.

 It’s embarrassing. 

I find myself instinctively dragging that foot as I walk

and tucking it behind me to hide it when I sit down. 

No one wants to see floppy dreams. 

But I keep wearing them.  They are so comfortable. 

Those who love me are starting to ask if I really should be wearing them still.  

I don’t listen. 

I shove my feet into them daily like a binged pizza into an addict’s mouth, and oh the rush of relief I feel when I realize they still give me the same high they did when they were shiny. 

Then, one day they start to bother me.  

The insoles smell and are in tattered shreds. 

I remove them and pretend the shoes are still great.  

No one knows that inside I’m walking on rubber and penny nails. 

My pinkie toe gets sore every time I wear them now.

I start to dread putting them on, and I long for the evening to come, 

so I can take them off. 

They don’t fit anymore.

 That’s the truth.

“Dreams” is giving me a limp, 

and there is now an actual hole in the sole of “Hope”

I pray every day it doesn’t rain.  Because, when it rains, the foot inside “hope” gets so dirty and cold that I’m bitter for days about it. 

And then one night, I have a dream.  

Jesus asks for my shoes. 

I hold them tightly and shake my head violently.  

They are my favorite, I say. Please don’t take them. 

He tenderly places his hand on my shoulder and promises that he knows.

His eyes are so kind, and his touch so gentle.

I hand them over to Him and He disappears from view. 

I feel like years go by, and I’m so worried I’ll never get my shoes back, 

but when I awake – it’s just now morning. 

The sun is peeking its pink and orange freshness over a crisp fall day. 


It rains a lot in fall.  

Muddy leaves. Bare trees. 

My favorite shoes were always there to weather this season…

until they weren’t. I’m glad I won’t have wet feet today…but…

I wish I had my shoes. 

And then, I see them.  

Tucked under the bed – my place of rest. 

Their shine blinds me for a moment 

as the morning sun glints through the window and spills its light onto them, 

But as I slide them out from their hiding place, I see what He has done. 

A new sole. 

No more fear or shame that people will see it flopping.
I can walk without dragging my dreams now.  

The heel is replaced. 

The sound of hope has the comforting and familiar echo again. 

The edges look tidy – the faded leather, somehow has a new tint…it’s so similar, but so much richer and warmer than the tint it had before.  I like it so much better. 

The insoles are lambswool….and my feet feel just as free inside these shoes as they ever did barefoot.  It’s unnerving. 

And there is something else…. laces.  

That’s new.  

My shoes didn’t have laces before. 

They were the kind of shoes you could slip on without hands. 

But, as I reach down to thread and loop the laces, I realize I feel so very secure in these shoes, and I know that lacing them up every day will remind me of how wonderful and strong they are.  

What a smart idea – these laces.  

I get dressed for the day, and the shoes look better than ever – not blinding in their shine, but just enough glint to catch your eye and make you ask – “Who made your shoes?”  

I happily tell everyone about the day I gave my favorite shoes to Jesus and he gave them back to me better than ever. Everyone is impressed and they all want to know how to find him…because they have favorite shoes, too.

I tell them he came to me as I rested.  

I tell them to put their shoes under their bed and just rest

and I promise he will meet them there. 

He will. 

Burrito Blessings

A few years ago, I was walking through some pretty major depression and darkness.  I was perpetually discouraged and feeling like the things that God had equipped me to do – my gifts, talents, skills, and maybe even my actual PURPOSE were being buried under a great big pile of…circumstances, mostly.  

If I’m honest, it was kind of a “perfect storm” of things – some of which were of my own choosing –  that left me feeling undervalued, unseen, and unneeded, and at the same time, IRONICALLY feeling completely spent, over-expended and exhausted.  My inner ugly spilled out into everything. I was kind of a hot mess. 

In the midst of my darkness, one of my mentors reached out to me. She SAW me and knew I needed…something.  We met for dinner. Truth be told, she dragged me to dinner with her.  She spoke life and affirmation over my giftings and talents and helped me see things I hadn’t seen in myself. (Sidebar:  If you don’t have someone like this in your life, go find one).  

She flipped my perspective that day and gave me three blunt choices;  

  1.  Walk away from it all (she knew I wasn’t willing to do that). 
  2.  Accept the status quo (since we can never change OTHER people)
  3. Change me. 

She asked me if there was anything I could be doing to serve my community that would allow me to flow in SOME gifting that I had, even if it didn’t match all of my…*ahem*…ambitions at the time. 

The answer, she thought, was to lean into my love of hospitality.  I love to feed people, host people, know people, facilitate the knowing of people and all things that make people feel welcome, loved and like they BELONG. 

Sooo…after a little soul-searching (that’s another story), I embarked on a personal, one-woman hospitality mission for our worship ministry team. I serve on a ministry team that is busy together. We serve three days a week together, and sometimes more.  It’s a team that shows up before everyone else to prepare for multiple services. Several of our team members drive from 30-50 miles away to be here or come to serve with us after a week filled with 12-15 hour workdays or late-night shifts. They deserve some love, for sure. 

Something clicked in my soul after that dinner meeting, and I started taking it upon myself to do some simple things in a show of support and affirmation for these – my people and their ministry.  So, I’d do little things, like, make sure that everyone had a fresh cup of coffee at our late night rehearsals if they needed it, or refill their water cup..or remember their birthdays with a cake at practice.  One Sunday morning, I decided to get up really early and cook them a hot breakfast and had SO MUCH FUN serving them a pile of biscuits and gravy and scrambled eggs.  I started bringing a hot breakfast for our team every Sunday morning – usually breakfast burritos of some sort.

 It became a tradition for me – a ritual, really – to stand in my kitchen sometime on Saturday, browning tortillas, scrambling eggs, and folding them into foil packages of love. It became my happy place. And with each burrito I rolled, I began to see the faces of the people – my people – who would eat them the next morning. As I saw their faces, I could feel the spirit of God prompt me with reminders of their lives and stories – and it became my call to prayer – for them, and for us as a community.  Pro Tip: Did you know that burritos taste better when they are prayed over? 

It also became a tradition for us to gather together in between services on Sunday to share this humble meal and, as food often does, it encouraged community and togetherness among the team.  Who knew that so many wonderful moments were hiding in a cooler bag of burritos? 

My bag of burritos has taught me so many things these past few years. God took a small, simple thing that I decided to give out of my emptiness and absolutely poured out blessing over me IN it and THROUGH it. Truly, my cup overflows. 

There have been weeks that I really don’t have time to cook, other weeks that our grocery budget is thin and it seems irresponsible to buy supplies for breakfast for 15-20 other people, and still other weeks that I am bone tired or Just. Don’t. Feel. Like. It.  But, mostly, I do it anyway.  Honestly, I have rarely missed a week in several years. And that’s not a brag, because you see, the blessing of my burritos is really more MY blessing than it is for anyone else. 

I’ll show you what I mean. I believe that naming our blessings is good practice for us and pleasing to the Lord, so I hope you’ll indulge me for a moment as I share with you all of the wonderful ways God has given back to me, ten-fold and more than I could ever give.  It’s true what they say – “You can’t outgive God.”  

Those weeks that I think I don’t have time to do this, or I feel “guilty” spending a few hours in the kitchen, cooking for others instead of hanging out with my boys, inevitably – some *thing* will come up that is a perfect reason that my husband can take the boys out for a few hours, freeing me up to find time for burritos.  Perhaps a friend’s birthday party at a pool or an invitation and free ticket to the reptile fair (totally not a mom thing), or sometimes – just a really dirty car that needs washing in our driveway.  I find a few hidden hours tucked away in the day, and, as an added blessing my boys are spending quality time with their daddy.

Time, multiplied.

Those weeks that I don’t feel like it, or have to really rally myself to do it because I’m TIRED, it seems there is always an extra reason to be grateful that I did it on Sunday morning.  We have a gentleman that comes to our church who is a part of the homeless community in our neighborhood.  It’s my privilege to share a burrito out of our cooler bag with Tony each week when he shows up for church. One Sunday morning, after a particularly grueling week, I ALMOST didn’t cook because…ugh…so tired.  We had a few people from our team NOT make the service that week, and I was left with a bunch of leftover burritos, which annoyed me because I hadn’t even felt like making them in the first place. Tony asked very politely if he could take the extras on his bicycle to a group of friends he knew were living by the creek and could really use the food today. Tears.  “Yes…Yes you can,” I said to him, and silently, “Thank you, Lord for using me IN SPITE OF ME today.”  Another day, I accidentally left the cooler bag at home and came home to a bag full of three dozen still-hot breakfast burritos in my entryway. All I could think about was how annoyed I was that my people didn’t get to eat, and how much my time, money and food was wasted and now….what?  Inspired by Tony, my eldest son and I pulled out the brown paper lunch sacks, quickly printed off a bunch of cards that said, “With love from the worship ministry of Evergreen Valley Church” and bagged them up with a bottle of water in each bag.  It was pouring down with rain that day, but those three hours Luke and I spent on a scavenger hunt, looking for homeless friends in the rain that we could pull over and share some love with were priceless. 

Love, multiplied.

Remember how I mentioned that some weeks, I really *shouldn’t* spend money on this tradition. One week, a man at our church pulled me aside and told me that God had laid it on his heart to thank me for my little burrito ministry and also to give me $100. He had NO idea how much we needed that money that week. It was a direct and overt gift from a loving God right to our bank account. The crazy thing is – this kept – KEEPS –  happening – and not just from that same man.  $20 slipped secretly into my hand and a quick whisper in my ear – “Thanks for the burritos.”  But often, it’s anonymous.  That’s what the photo here is –  yesterday, I got home to empty the salsa jar out of my empty cooler bag, and found it.  $40 cash rubber-banded to the jar.  Believe me when I say that THIS week, that money is literal pennies from Heaven.  

Money, multiplied. 

One more story:  A local grocery store has a policy of offering a weekend pickup of nearly expired or damaged packaging food that is literally going to be tossed in a dumpster.  A family in our church does this every week and then offers a free grocery store on their lawn on Saturday mornings for anyone in the community who needs it.  At the front lawn grocery store, there are women from the portuguese immigrant community who come and load their car to take back and share amongst them, single mamas, out-of-work-for-a-while folks who could use a little help to get by, etc.  It’s a beautiful thing they do.  One week, he invited us to come and see if we could use any of the surplus.  Turns out, there is always an abundance of eggs – usually because the cardboard package is ruined by a broken egg inside.  Guess who gets to collect a big ole’ pile of free eggs on Saturdays?  THIS GIRL.   

Food, multiplied.  

Do you see what I mean when I say, the burrito blessings are MINE?  Like the lyrics to the old hymn of the faith, Great is thy Faithfulness… “blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!”  

I was given the best advice that day at dinner.  It can be said in a variety of trite ways; 

“Bloom where you’re planted…”  

“Be the change you want to see..” 

“Stop sulking, start serving”

But the truth is that pouring yourself out for the good of others brings GOODNESS back to you. It’s a beautiful design by a loving Creator who longs to see his world live in the perfect symbiotic harmony of serving one another.  

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

In my bag of burritos, I found community, joy, love, and purpose. And it all multiplied. 

That jar of salsa made me cry yesterday, (and not just from cutting the onions) and it was the inspiration to share my burrito blessings with you all. I hope the sharing of this testimony multiplies the blessings of my burritos over and over again in your own hearts and lives.  

A salsa jar full of blessing!

The Practice of Pondering: Teaching Children to “Be Still and Know.”

On the surface, it would seem that I’m the least likely person to teach anything to anyone about being quiet.  Or still.  I promise you.  My whole life has essentially been a series of suggestions to “sit still,”  “stop talking,”  “wait a minute,” “slow down,” “take a breath,” “hang on a sec,” or “let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”

I’m a learn-out-loud, talk-it-out, idea person.  My thoughts tend to take u-turns when I don’t verbalize them.  That’s just who I am.

But, I’m learning.  And growing.

And, it turns out, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks, despite the conventional wisdom – especially when we are talking about the Lord.  Because… “He who has begun a good work in me will be faithful to complete it…”  Hallelujah!

A few years ago, God highlighted an innocuous little verse for my restless heart, and it became a clarion call for my life.   “But Mary treasured up all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”    The verse is found in Luke 2:19 right after the telling of the “Christmas Story.”

Picture Mary here, holding her infant child.  Less than a year before, she was just an average girl, but then, she is visited by an angel, told that she has been impregnated by the Holy Spirit, and that the child she is carrying is the Savior of the world!?  Christ is then born in a dirty stable, in a town far away from home,  and soon, strangers suddenly start visiting them – guided to them only by the hand of God, and then they begin worshiping her baby – right there in that dirty stable.

Instead of freaking out, instead of drowning in her overwhelm of the entire situation, instead of emotionally imploding at the sheer weight of God in her life (like MY postpartum self would have done)….. it tells us that Mary “treasured up all these things, and PONDERED them in her heart.”

I was suddenly so struck by this phrase.   And challenged by it.  Perhaps I could spend more time just”treasuring and pondering”

So, I purposed to start “practicing pondering.”    Just a daily time of quiet thoughts – meditation – about what God is doing in my life.

I know – I said the “M-Word” – MEDITATION.  Cue the patchouli incense and crystals.  Ummm..no.  We are talking here about Biblical meditation.  Psalm 77:12, “I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

Meditation is simply disciplined thought.

As this new habit began to enrich my life, I quickly realized that my kids needed a dose of this as well.  But, teaching kids to “meditate” quietly isn’t easy.  I needed some practical tools, so I set out to find some.  I’d like to share what I’ve learned in the hope that you can use it to teach the children in YOUR life the art and discipline of quiet time.  Or maybe you need these tools for yourself!

First, we must understand that children crave time to be quiet and still.  They NEED it to mull their BIG thoughts about God.  Having a practice of meditation as a child is a great navigational tool for relationships as well.  There are many studies that demonstrate its lifelong benefits.

In the beginning, the empty quiet space feels like eternity.  One way to help define this time for children is to use music.  Choose a 2-3 min hymn or inspirational (but low-intensity) worship song, and have children find a comfortable spot on the floor to “think” about God while the song plays.  After the song, simply ask them what they thought about.   Don’t be surprised or discouraged if it’s NOT God at first, just keep encouraging them.  Children love routine and the consistency of the familiar, so consider using the same song every time for a while, but eventually you can choose longer songs or two songs to extend this time.

Any good teacher will tell you that “prompts” are another great tool.   Each night before bedtime, we started giving our kids a high/low prompt.  It’s a simple way to get their brain reviewing the day and thinking about moments and experiences, and the feelings they associated with them.  It’s a very simple concept – “Take a moment and think about your day.  In a couple of minutes, I am going to ask you to tell me about your high moment and your low moment today.”  What was the best thing about today (high)?  What was the worst thing (low)?

One of my favorite prompts came from a VBS that my kids attend every year.  It is the “God-Sighting” prompt.  They give all the kids a silicone bracelet with the words “Watch For God,”  and each morning they ask kids to recall “God-sightings” from the day before.   It’s so great!   I always stay for this part of the VBS morning, and it makes me cry EVERY.TIME.  Hearing kids talk about the rainbow they saw, or the friend who sat with them…or whatever little pint-sized anecdote they come up with to illustrate where and how THEY saw God in their life is so heartwarming.   We’ve adopted this in our lives.  It’s as simple as a morning reminder to “watch for God” today.  And an evening moment to stop and think for a few minutes (ponder), and then let’s talk about your God-sightings for the day!   (HINT:  if your kids take showers or baths unsupervised, that’s a great time to encourage them to do this!)

Finally, and unsurprisingly, consistency is key, like anything with children.   Find a time or two that makes sense in your family’s day,  and implement one or two of these ideas daily.  I think you will be encouraged by it.   Try it for a week, and then share how it has worked for you.  Share with your child’s Sunday School teacher, your small group, your church elders and pastors, or on your church social media pages.It’s a great way to testify of the work of God in your family and encourage others in the process.

Real talk on Religion with Bristol Palin

Ok, I’m not talking WITH her, I’m just talking TO her.

Bristol Palin is pregnant again.

However, lest any of you judgy-mcjudgerson’s want to pass a verdict down from your lofty bench of responsibility, abstinence, or safe sex-i-ness, she planned the pregnancy this time.

So there!

She doesn’t want your lectures or your sympathy, and she cares “this much” about negativity. In fact, if you don’t like her choices you should just “deal with it.”
What she presumably DOES want, however, is for you to continue reading her blog on “faith and being a mom,” buy her book, and watch her on reality shows– (she relied on her faith to get her through Dancing with the Stars). Oh, and also, support her in her important causes (for which she is paid), such as preventing unplanned (teen) pregnancy.

*blank stare*

Here’s the thing: If Bristol were the “single mother who lived next door to me, ” I like to think we’d be friends. I bet she’s fun. I like her tenacity and boldness, and I resonate with her desire to speak her mind. Alas, we aren’t neighbors or friends. But as a woman, a mother, and a Christian, I am her sister.

So, I am left with saying this here; Bristol, Please stop it.

Please stop publicly using your faith and projected moral superiority, as a reason that no one should judge you, all the while judging other people.

Please stop standing and shouting on the moral high ground when you’re knee-deep in a pothole.

If you are going to make a living out of broadcasting your life and your faith to the world, please stop being confused and frustrated when others have commentary on it.

The problem with a “deal with it” attitude is that it paints Christianity in an ugly light to the rest of the world. The beauty of our Christian faith is that we get to be gloriously imperfect, and ugly, and still redeemed. A little humility, particularly at this juncture, would go a long way toward endearing others to you, but also–and more importantly, to me–in drawing the world to God. “Christ came to save sinners, of whom I am chief “- you know, that kind of preaching.

I don’t blame you completely, though. The faith community is obsessed with public displays of faith in the sense that we love to relate to someone in the public eye – and we often have the mistaken idea that somehow being famous makes those people a “better” advocate for our faith. So, we repost their quotes, blog posts or speeches, as if somehow by osmosis, our religious purposes will be accomplished. I can’t tell you how many Facebook memes I see daily with “Christian” quotes from celebrities or politicians, coupled with a proverbial “Amen” from the posting party.

If you asked the human brother of Jesus Christ what “real” religion is, you might have heard him say this:
True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties, and to keep the world from contaminating us. – James 1:27

I have a friend. He’s not famous. He plays basketball with prisoners at a large prison most weekends, and loves them in their brokenness. This is pure religion. Another friend collects coats and blankets for the homeless in our city, and hand delivers them with love and prayer. Another friend organizes backpack drives for foster children. Yet another friend works tirelessly to eradicate juvenile sex trafficking. None of these people have a national platform, but if they did – I’m pretty sure they would use it in the good cause of “pure” religion.

Instead of being snarky to your critics, I suggest you welcome them, Bristol. Don’t blow them off with smug pictures and trite sayings. BE about what you talk about. And use your public platform at this pivotal time in your life to affect some real change in the world, and not just spare change in your pocket.

I write this to encourage Bristol Palin and other public people of faith; Instead of talking about your faith and cloaking your public persona in it, and then being annoyed when others use it against you, WORK out your own faith with humility in the public square. It’s pretty hard to criticize someone who is in the trenches doing the good work.


Do you Believe in Magic?

Do you Believe in magic?

Can I tell you a secret?  It’s really NOT a secret, but it seems to escape so many people, that it almost feels like inside information.

Serving others is a balm for your soul.

Seriously, it’s the “magic” cure for a complaining spirit.

The day after the U.S. presidential election I woke up with a political hangover.  After staying up all night to watch the election returns, and listening to the pundits and so-called “experts”  discuss the ins and outs of the political game, I was feeling very…umm….introspective – just a little downhearted about the spirit of division, and the philosophical divide that separates “right” and “left” in this country – and what that says about the state of our union, and more importantly – our hearts. I was concerned for the future – for my children’s  future, and my family’s future.  I was frustrated about the gloating and moping I was hearing/reading from my friends whose candidate had won or lost. And I just felt blue.

But, life had to go on.  I had a busy day scheduled.  On my crazy agenda for the day was;   1.) Home school my boys  2.) Clean my house  3.) run errands 4.) Direct a public school Christmas choir rehearsal 5.)  Make AND deliver beef stew and french bread to a church member recovering from surgery, and 6.) Host three families and their children in our home for dinner and a Bible study/discussion about parenting in today’s world.  I’m tired just typing all that.  🙂

After the last person left my house, and my husband and I managed getting our hyped-up boys to bed, (much too late),  I sat down for the first time since morning.  And, yes – I’m tired…but I’m just sayin…..I feel better.  Less worried.  Less despondent.  Less discouraged.   Instead, I feel renewed.  I feel energized.  And I feel a sense of hope in the power of real and true relationships with others – the kind Jesus taught us about.

For even the Son of man came not to BE served, but to serve others, and give his life a ransom for many.  (Matthew 20:28)

There’s just SOMETHING about serving, and physically DOING things for others that makes you feel better.   I promise.  Try it sometime.

In this broken world, it’s easy to be discouraged about things.  Wars, rumors of wars, and natural disasters surround us.  Just this past week, we’ve seen the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast part of our country.  Many struggle with debt, or are having to work harder and harder to make family life work – spouses are traveling and working more, mommies who previously stayed home full-time  are having to get jobs to make ends meet, and culturally, it often feels that the onslaught of values which don’t match mine come from every angle.   In this world, it can be an easy to fall into the trap of our emotions, and get downtrodden and disheartened.

I’m suggesting a better way.

When you have that moment – that feeling of doom and gloom – stop looking down, and look around.   Find someone to serve. (You won’t have to look very far).   Purpose to do something for the good of another.  The world will instantly become a brighter place.  I love the quote that says, “Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves.” (James Barrie – creator of Peter Pan.

It’s like magic.  Good, Old-Fashioned “magic.”

That Jesus guy knew what he was doing.

Eating Bon-Bons all Day!

As a stay-at-home-mom, I’m often teased with the proverbial, “oh, it must be nice to stay home and eat bonbons all day” line.  Now, of course, any of you who have ever actually SPENT an entire day at home with small children knows how laughable that line really is.  Alas, the stigma remains.  So, in the spirit of “if you can’t beat em’, join em’,” I decided that I should AT LEAST know how to make bonbons – even if I never really get to spend time eating them.    So, here is a fabulously easy recipe for Ice Cream Bonbons.

You’ll need:

1 pint of Ice cream – any flavor  (My boys love Mint Chip.)

¼ cup of sprinkles   (or crushed nuts)

½ lb (8oz) semi-sweet chocolate – you can use the bulk chocolate bark bars and grate it (preferred), or buy chocolate chips or even candy melts.  (Also, you can definitely vary the flavors by changing the outer coating – white chocolate, peanut butter candy melt, peppermint candy melt, or dark chocolate would all work)

1 TBSP of Vegetable Shortening. (Such as Crisco)   – Yes, there are probably healthier ways of doing this….feel free to enlighten me!

Start by scooping out your ice cream.  You’ll want a SMALL ice cream scoop, and you should be able to get about 12-15 scoops out of your pint.  Divide these onto two parchment-lined, baking sheets, and cover with plastic wrap.

Freeze the scoops till very firm – best if you freeze overnight.

Next, combine your coating chocolate and shortening in a double boiler.  You can fashion a “makeshift” double boiler by using a heatproof bowl and setting it over a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water.  Make sure the bottom of the bowl does NOT touch the water.  Simmer over low heat – do not boil.  You’ll want to stir often until the chocolate coating is smooth and glossy.  Remove from the heat, and let cool SLIGHTLY – so that it’s warm, but not hot to the touch.

For step three, you’ll want to work quickly.  Prick a frozen ice cream ball with a fork, and hold over the chocolate bowl.  Using a large spoon, spoon chocolate over.  Let excess chocolate drip back into bowl, and then follow with sprinkles.  Now, if you are quick and nimble enough, you can TRY dunking the ice cream balls into the chocolate bowl and then likewise through the sprinkles bowl.  But if you’re not fast enough – you’ll just make a big ice-creamy mess, so keep your spoons handy.

When coated, place back on baking sheet and re-freeze until ready to serve.


Today, I think you SHOULD eat bonbons!!

Thoughts on Motherhood

 Being a mother takes sacrifice. 

I have given up so much.

From the moment of conception, my body was given away for the pleasure, purpose, and enrichment of someone else.   Thus began my journey of complete sacrifice.  

When I became a mother, I surrendered – body and soul. 

My womb became a shelter for a growing life, protecting it from the evils of this world.

My hands became tools to change diapers, to clothe, to bathe, to rock.

My bosom became an endless buffet of nourishment for a hungry child.

My feet became instruments to carry me up and down the halls, walking until the colicky cries subsided.

My shoulders became pillows for a weary toddler head.

My knees became hinges to both rock my body, in a mothering dance, until sleep overtakes the weary one, and to bow my body in fervent prayer for a watchful charge of angels to stand in my stead over his bed.

My voice became an all-night radio of lullabies.

My fingers became safety bars for a wobbly toddler, and the feathery stroke of comfort on the cheeks of a feverish child.

My ears became sonars, intently tuned to the frequency of small sounds in the night; a wimpering baby, a thirsty toddler, a fearful child, and someday, I’m sure – a tiptoeing teenager.

My eyes became x-rays – observing everything – seeing past surface awareness and assessing scenarios like only a mother can – with the keenness of a secret agent.

My mind is captive to thoughts of my children – no daydream is complete without a wandering to thoughts of them.

My heart is held prisoner by their love. 

Everything I am is now punctuated by this first and noble role, and I will never be the same. 

Yes, I have sacrificed a lot.

I have given away every part of me to fulfill this purpose, but in the beautiful way he always does, God gives it all back ten-fold. 

When pudgy hands reach out to hold mine, my hands are mine again – better hands than before.

When I dance around the living room, with his little feet on mine – my feet are mine again – better feet than before.

When he runs to me with open arms to fling around my shoulders and climbs on to my knees for a story and a snuggle, my shoulders and knees are mine again – better shoulders and knees than before.

When he whispers, “I love you mommy.”  And I whisper back, “I love you too.”  My ears and my voice become mine again – much greater ears, and a much greater voice than before.  

When I became a mother, every sense was heightened. 

Awareness was elevated to a new level. 

Pleasure and pride became a euphoric bursting in my chest.

Pain and anguish became agonizing depths of desperation.

Peace and comfort became abiding .

Love multiplied like sunshine on mirrors.

As I reflect on the things I have “given up” to be a mother, I am reminded that whatever God asks us to give away, he returns to us in greater measure than we could ever imagine.  I purpose to live my life looking expectantly in faith for those moments of return on my investment.   I know they will come, and they will be many. 

Mothers, I leave you with these encouragements from the words of God…”Give and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over…”

“Therefore, Be not weary in well doing, for in due season, ye shall reap, if ye faint not!”

What moments can you point to in your mothering journey when you recognized that God has given you back “above all that you could ask or imagine,” and the sacrifices you made that seemed so great at the time, became small in the light of the blessings you have received. 

I don’t know about you, but my cup runneth over!

Happy Mother’s Day to the beautiful women in my life who continue to teach me what being a mother really means.  With special love and a grateful heart to my own mother, Kathryn Maldonado, whose sacrifices for me were greater than most.  

With love,


Mother to Luke – age 5, and his brother – scheduled to arrive in this world on June 18th.

Repurposing Plastic Easter Eggs

As the impending giant community  Easter Egg Hunt draws near, I’m already seeing mounds of multi-colored plastic bubbles in my sleep.   I don’t know about you, but at our house, those things NEVER seem to disappear. They lie, in wait, in the darkness of my hallway, just outside the bathroom, so that my middle-of-the-night, jammie-clad trek to the “facilities” is interrupted with either; the obnoxious sound of a crunched plastic egg piercing the peacefulness of the night, or the slightly more obnoxious sound of my muffled scream as said egg pierces the tender skin of my recently pedicured, statue-esque feet.  (Okay, fine…truth be told, my feet are more like Hobbit feet, but you get the picture!)

But I digress…

Anyway, long after the masses of freckle-faced children in pigtails and denim overalls (yes, I live in Mayberry in my head), leave the carnage of their epic hunt behind on the grass, and long after your little angels have eaten their fill of “individually wrapped, non-melting” sugar bombs, YOU will be left picking up the plastic, multi-colored pieces. 

Never fear…..Corrina is here! 

When I took acting improvisation classes, we played a game called, “What is it?”  An everyday object is tossed around a circle, and each person must come up with a new idea for what the item is.  (Simplified Example:  A paper towel roll becomes a telescope…etc)  I found it very stimulating to make my brain do this, and I have compiled this list for you, in hopes that you will be inspired to think about everyday objects in a new way as well.  It can be a frugal, GREEN (yes, I said it), creative and fun way to engage your family and be better stewards of the things you have at home.  I have included ideas for learning tools – either for home or classroom – as well as household uses.  If you have other ideas for creative repurposing, please submit them in the comments section below!  

So without further adieu, here’s the list:

Using Plastic Eggs as Learning Tools:

1.       Resurrection Eggs – An Easter Advent calendar.  For the 12 days, leading up to Easter, have children open one egg each day.  Contained inside is one item representing an element of Passion Week – i.e., a nail, a sponge, a cloth, a rock, etc.  Here’s a link to a great demonstration of how to make Resurrection Eggs.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YZZKe73_-8

2.      Spring Advent Eggs – A less religious version of the above, you could substitute items representing new birth, such baby chicks, flower seeds, etc to countdown the days until the first day of spring.  (This obviously may fall before Easter, so save the eggs, or plan ahead)

3.      Vacation Eggs – Same idea as above….getting kids to countdown to vacation with small items representing the trip in each egg.  You could also include “coupons” for things to redeem whilst on vacation if your child will need extra incentives to behave or participate.  For example, you could offer a coupon good for a “before dinner ice cream cone,” to be redeemed after child has successfully carried their own luggage through the airport….or whatever works for your family. 

4.      Math Eggs – There are many variations on this idea, and it can obviously be adjusted based on the level of your child (mine is a preschooler), so think outside the “egg carton.”  Here’s a few;  1.) Using a marker, write a number on each half of the egg. These two numbers will be added together. Give the child dried beans or jellybeans to use as manipulatives, and have them put the “answer” inside the egg.  2.) Same as the addition, but start with the largest number of beans already in the egg.   They then subtract the smaller number to leave the answer.  After child has completed the dozen, have them write out each sum in long form with the answer, and then recite them to you out loud. 3.) Here’s a different twist as they get better at “head math.” Break the eggs apart completely. Write out a sum on one half of the egg, and the answer on another half (keeping the halve colors the same will give help, so adjust accordingly).  Have the child match until the dozen is complete.  4.) For young children, you could draw dots on one end of the egg, and have the numeral on the other half for matching.

5.      Language Eggs – Thinking just like the math concept, you can do; 1.) Rhyme matching, 2.) Uppercase/Lowercase matching, 3.) Synonym/Antonym matching, 4.) For young children, a sticker with the “first letter” – i.e..(Ant picture with an “A”) 5.) Sentence making – this is a longer, more independent activity, and can be adjusted to the difficulty level.  It does require some prep on an adult’s part.  Have parts of speech (pieces of a sentence) in each egg.  The children can hunt for the eggs first, and then put the pieces in order to make a sentence.  This activity can be expanded for a classroom setting, or over the course of a week if needed.  In a classroom, you can divide into groups and have each group come up with the parts of speech, and then hide the eggs for the other group.  Make it a race.  To expand further, make it a paragraph with multiple sentences, and require the story written out with illustrations to be complete. This can be really funny if you use silly verbs (think Mad libs), and have interchangeable options for the story. 6.) Foreign language Eggs – Useful for drilling vocabulary.  Have the English word on one half, and the translation on the other half.  Make it a timed drill. 

6.      Social Studies – 1.) Label an egg carton with the name of a president (or other historical character).  Have facts about that person written on slips of paper inside plastic eggs.  This works best if you have either; more than one character to work on, or more facts than are true for the one character.  Have the child correctly place all the “true” facts about the character into their egg carton.  2.) Timeline Eggs – Have important events inside each egg.  Number the inside of the empty egg carton 1-12, have the children place the eggs in chronological order.

7.      Science Eggs –Just adapt the concepts in the other subjects to fit. Here’s a couple of quick thoughts; 1.) Phases of metamorphosis, 2.) Scientific names of plants or animals matched with layman names, 3.) What’s Inside?  Fill each egg with a different substance. (Dried corn, oatmeal, flour, beans, Jell-O, etc.)  Make sure you use different weights, sounds, textures, etc.  Have all the items available to look at, and using only feeling and listening, the children must guess what’s inside. 

 Using Plastic Eggs as Household Tools:

1.       Store pantyhose

2.      Store individual necklaces to keep from tangling.  (Especially useful for trips).

3.      Fill with Potpourri, and place in a drawer, or the bottom of a trash can for freshening. (Be sure it’s the type with holes, or you’ll need to poke your own holes in it.)

4.      Fill an egg with sand and use in the bottom of a “too light” gift bag.

5.      Store crafting supplies or beads.

6.      Store small hygiene items such as tweezers and nail clippers in eggs in your bathroom drawer for ease of finding.

7.      Strings eggs together and make an Easter garland for the mantel or as a window decoration during Easter Season.  Also consider turning those Fichus in your house into an Easter Tree.  Decorate it like you would your Christmas tree – ribbon, garland, eggs etc.

8.      Store spare buttons.

9.      Make your own mini travel sewing kit.  Store some thread, safety pins, and a small piece of sponge with a couple of needles poked in it. 

10.   Make your own mini first aid kit to store in the glove box or purse.  Include Band-aids and a mini tube of Neosporin.

11.   Store USB or SIM cards inside an egg in your desk drawer.  Keeps them protected, and easy to find when you need them!

12.   When traveling, store cotton swabs or cotton balls in an egg to keep them clean and ready.

13.   Use to hold small “servings” of play-dough.  Take a few in your bag – great for restaurants and waiting rooms. 

14.   Use to hold single servings of snacks – for you or the kids.  Keeps the portion size right and its fun to hand an egg full of cheesy fishes to the back seat when needed.

15.   Use as reinforcement for good behavior. Fill with surprises and give one to your child when deserved.  EXCELLENT for plane travel or long car trips.

16.   Homemade Croquet!  Use sticks and plastic eggs, and fashion makeshift goals in your yard for a quick family game!

17.   Decorate with ribbon and lace and fill a basket for your table.

18.   Decorate eggs with googly eyes and felted features, glue to a popsicle stick and have a puppet show!



Homemade Donuts: Regular and Gluten-Free!!

Thanks to my friend, Amber, I’m making the world’s intestines a little calmer with this gluten free donut recipe.  I can attest to the yummy-ness factor of these donuts.  Some of the best homemade ones I’ve ever had – and if she hadn’t told me, I would NEVER have guessed that she had made me the gluten-free version!!   It’s a rainy weekend in my part of the world, so this is a great family activity with yummy rewards!

 Happy Baking!!

Regular Recipe:  (gluten free subs below)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tsp salt

…1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon(although I use a full tsp.)

dash ground nutmeg(i use about 1 1/2 tsp.-makes them taste better!)

2 tablespoons melted butter

1/2 cup of milk

1 egg, beaten

1 quart oil for frying

Heat oil to 375. In a large bowl sift together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg . mix in butter until crumbly. Stir in milk and egg until smooth. knead lightly, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. roll out to about 1/4 inch. cut with doughnut cutter. carefully drop into oil. fry for 3 minutes(turning them over half way) or until they’re golden brown. drain on paper towels and when they are cool melt chocolate, or make a glaze to pour over.

for it to be gluten free:

replace the all-purpose flour with bob’s red mill gluten free all purpose flour.

add 1/2 tsp xanthum gum(it replaces the “elasticness” that gluten has.

Then follow the recipe. you wont need to knead it, because gf dough is super sticky. i use about another cup of GF Flour to roll it out with my hands. then i dip my doughnut cutter in the flour every time i cut out a doughnut-then it doesn’t stick to the cutter.

Thanks, Amber!

Custom Baby Set Giveaway!

One of my favorite crafters of handmade bags, Bekah of http://www.leidibird.com is giving away a Custom New Baby 4 Piece Set, which includes a quilted changing pad and 3 coordinating burp cloths in your choice of a custom fabric! TODAY is the LAST day to enter, so head over to her blog at http://www.leidibird.com/blog/ and check it out!

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