Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Lesson in Winning... Super Bowl Champs

Yesterday it rained...


and for the life of me I couldn't figure out why the coach didn't cancel practice
(I thought he should have canceled practice)

so I called my hubby at work just to be sure

My 11yr-old said

"Mom, it's football.  We still play even when it rains."

So much to my chagrin, my daughter and I bundled up to drive him
to the High School Football field for practice in the pouring rain

I was secretly hoping they would cancel practice once we got there, but was quickly informed...

"It's the Super Bowl.  We still have to practice because tomorrow
we're playing the team that beat us last year... in the rain"

So they practiced...

as it rained...

for two and a half hours

After practice the coach called all of the parents over and asked us to stand with our kid

He said

"Everybody link up"
"Take a knee"
"Look at me"
"Arrive on time tomorrow"
"Leave it all on the field"
"Play smart"
"Play clean"
"Play like big boys"
"Have fun"
"Let's win"

Then just as I thought he was finally finished he said...

"Let's go watch film"

(which meant another hour and a half of)

watching past games from the opposing team's season

He said that while it is important to

hone our skills

we can't stop there, we must also know our opponent

"Watch their plays"
"Spot their weaknesses"
"Build on our strengths"

to put together a winning game plan

Yesterday it rained...


But today...

the sun shone bright
we played the game
and won!

And I learned that...

Winning is not just the outcome of the game
Winning is also everything else that leads up to it

because in order to be a champion

you must first


like a Champ!

Carson Colts Blue
Jr. Pee Wee 2013 Super Bowl Champs!

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Same Black Dress... and a Sweater

It takes a while for the weather to cool here in Southern CA, so even well into November,
it is not uncommon to see people still walking around in shorts and sandals

As for me?

You'll catch me in my...

Only now, also with a sweater!

The New Black Dress


The Same Black Dress

My daughter asked one day if she could choose how I wear my black dress...

So next time, I will be "Styled by Mo"
(click here see what my little 9-yr. old fashionista came up with!)

Monday, November 25, 2013

"APFLH" Children's Art Studio- Flavors of Fall (Mosaics)

I am quickly learning that the Children's Art Studio is not just for kids...

In fact, we had so much fun last week with our

"Flavors of Fall" 

that I could hardly wait to get back in the studio again! 

This time the children and I sat down and created our masterpieces
with supplies that we already had...

Bean Mosaic Art
cardboard pieces
beans, seeds, or other choice items

First we sorted black beans, pinto beans, and navy beans...
Split Peas

Bird Seed

Red Beans

Black Beans

Pinto Beans/Navy Beans

Organized the beans into separate containers...

Traced our designs and glued beans onto cardboard...

and ended up with these final designs...

"When you use what you have
to do what you love...
That my friends,
is true art"
-Tondra Denise

(Flavors of Fall studio time will culminate with... "Water Colors and Print Painting")

Saturday, November 23, 2013

He Opens Doors

"I'm in sixth grade now"... he proudly proclaimed upon seeing her again

Micah and Mrs. H- September 2013
I watched the two of them as she stopped to look at him, shaking her head in disbelief

"Wow, sixth grade already?  It seems like just yesterday I tested you for Kindergarten!"

She looked at me smiling and I knew what was coming next as she directed her attention back to him...

"I'll never forget that as we were leaving the testing room you said,
'Let me open the door because that's what a man does for a lady.' 

She had never heard a five-year-old speak in that manner and

6 years
3 months and
150 students later

she was still talking about him

There are few things that make such a lasting


but some things touch us so deeply
that we remember...

We remember that

After the time of testing, He opens doors

opens doors
while reminding us that He is the Door
perhaps really saying

After the test, I will open myself to you

open myself
reveal myself
allow myself

to become transparent enough for you to see


And His Word leaves

an impression
an indention

reminding us to thank Him

for fond memories
completed tests


opened doors

Mrs. H and Micah- June 2008

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Child's Lesson... Family Encouragement and Graffiti

I stumbled across something interesting the other day while reviewing old conference notes...

The "Four Directions of Family Encouragement" Model
which suggests there are four effective forms of communication within a family

downward- (parent to child)
upward- (child to parent)
inward- (to oneself)
across- (parent to parent, child to child)

our gallery wall before our house flooded

our gallery wall after the "2014 house flood"

As I stopped to review the notes, I thought about what this looks like in my own


and realized that following the path...


leads right back to the cross!

Then my 11-yr. old son helped me understand it even better one day
as he explained something to his little sister

She had asked why people draw graffiti, and I listened quietly as he broke it down for her

He said...

"I completed an assignment in 5th grade about three pegs

a circle peg
a triangle peg
and a peg in the shape of a cross

No matter how hard you try to fit the circle peg into the cross peg hole
only the cross peg will fit
That's how it is in life... 
We are all born with a hole in our hearts the shape of the cross

but sometimes we try to put other stuff in that hole like

or other bad things

but the cross is the only thing that will really fit there
We have to put Jesus in that space 
Well maybe that's why people draw graffiti... because they're trying to fill a hole."

And his answer sufficing her, made me smile, as I realized that

the path
the protocol
the pattern

for family encouragement had been laid

and that God is always graciously willing
to use any one of us...


to lead


right back to the cross!

Has your heart been filled?

Click to read... A Lesson at Lunch

Monday, November 18, 2013

"APFLH" Children's Art Studio- Flavors of Fall (Collages)

I love how Autumn has a way of awakening the senses with
the coolness
the crispness
the colors
and smells

the rich flavors that seem to bring back a flood of childhood memories...

My favorite part is being reminded to

slow down
give thanks
and spread joy

spending time with the ones that I love

This November we opened the Children's art studio and invited friends to share their favorites with...

Gratitude Collage Art

child friendly magazines

Children were prompted with... "what are you thankful for?"
and glued magazine cutouts to create their "Gratitude Collage Art"

I have experienced

so many blessings
so many lessons

that it was impossible to fit them all onto one collage board, but I started with

"I'm thankful for..."

restorative gifts
the smell of fresh brewed coffee
the gift of humor
music and singing
believing the Bible
my friend. my rock
bare feet
and I couldn't forget to add that I'm also thankful for me!

What are you thankful for?

(Join us next time as Flavors of Fall continues with... Mosaics)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Freedom Ain't Free

I walked into the room as my son sat typing his first History report. 

I smiled as I saw the telephone propped up next to the keyboard,
and heard that familiar voice coming out of the speaker

He had called his Papa, my dad, to interview him for his paper on the Vietnam war

I looked over his shoulder and read what he was typing

"...he turned 21 in Vietnam, so his mom sent a cake to the jungle."

I stopped and remembered the story that I have heard many times before...

about how our great aunt, the woman who had raised him, "Mom"
asked our Aunt Gladys to make a German chocolate cake for his 21st birthday

He continued typing and for the first time I stopped to think about
how strong a woman must have to be

to send her child to war
ask her sister to bake his favorite cake
to send to him on the other side of the world

...for his birthday

Breathe, Tondra

I remember hearing her talk of how before he left

she had prayed
asking God to get him out of it...

but God answered that he still had

to go
to learn
to fight

I remember hearing her talk of how once he was gone

she prayed
asking God to bring him home...

and God answered by bringing him back

to her
safe and

I have heard these stories before, but as my son sits typing, for the first time I realize

that even though she never left home...
she fought in the war too!

Which immediately reminded me of the words
embroidered on a blanket in my parent's family room...

"Freedom is not Free"

And as I think about it
I realize that freedom definitely costs...


and freedom ain't cheap

because its costs often lead all the way up

to loss

of life
and limb

And if we are to truly enjoy freedom
it will cost a life of...


God sacrificed the life and limb of His own Son
in order to gain my freedom

and even now

as I rest free in Christ
I acknowledge that if I am to remain free

I will have to

give something too
sacrifice something too

because He expects nothing less than the same in return

which is

the surrender

of life
and limb
dedicated to His service

So today I peacefully surrender


the "freeness" of freedom...
(while also fully aware)

that freedom

ain't free!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Fear is Not a Factor... A Christian Halloween Party

Halloween was approaching and I had recently read
the Apostle Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus

(reminding me of an old episode of "Fear Factor")


you have fought a good fight
you have finished your course
you have kept the faith

Fear is obviously NOT a Factor for you!

And that's when I decided to host a "Fear is NOT a Factor" Party

invite a few of our friends
grab some candy and
plan a few games

to remind everyone that we have absolutely nothing to fear...

Baby Food Tasting and Identification
Contestants were to taste and name the two ingredients in each section
(1.Sweet Potato/Corn  2.Apple/Cherry  3.Pear/Pineapple)

Eat a Cricket

The contestants used the popper to get a number...

1, 2, or 3
Eat that number of crickets

4 or 5
Try again

Skip the cricket table altogether!

After the initial shock that they were eating actual crickets, contestants agreed
that they tasted similar to sunflower seeds and this game was the hit of the party!

Next, it was time to give the kids something to wash down all of those crickets and baby food so we...

-set out cupcakes for them frost and decorate
-headed outside for glow-in-the-dark bowling and
-listened to a fireside story while warming by the outdoor fire pit

Then it was time to head back in for more games...

Pasta and Skeletons 

Small rubber skeletons were buried with
cooked bowtie pasta and placed in a sensory table  
The table was covered with a black table cloth, contestants spun the wheel, and
were given one minute to reach in and save a life or two...or whatever number they had spun 

(Contestants who pulled out pasta instead of a skeleton were disqualified)

Hand in Ice 
Contestants were instructed to hold one hand in ice water for 2 minutes
(Remove your hand and get disqualified)

And I am so grateful that our...

"Fear is Not a Factor" party
had so much teaching potential

and the children
had so much fun proving

Halloween is more than candy and costumes, but
can also lend itself to lessons in gratitude and grace

So what did we learn in all of this?

Let's recap...

Baby Food Tasting and Identification taught us to distinguish flavors.  We come into this world ignorant to God and His plan for our lives, but when we learn to eat at His table and appreciate the nourishment He provides, it allows us to mature in Christ.  Then we learn what we should and should not eat and can distinguish the flavors set before us.

Eat a Cricket shows us that life is full of trouble, but Jesus has already tasted death for every one of us.  Abide in Him and some of us will even get to skip the cricket table altogether!

Pasta and Skeletons were used to remind us that once we become alive in Christ, God uses us to go back and get others.  We become fishers of men as we attempt to pull other dead men and women out of the black hole and bring them into the light.

and finally...

Hand in Ice is a testament that although life can be cold sometimes, there is a reward waiting for those of us who endure