Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Week #2

So today, I got to make two different gifts.  One for Katelyn's school teachers and another for Caroline's Mom 2 Mom teachers.  Every Tuesday I get the chance to go to Mom 2 Mom which is a Bible study/mentoring program our church offers.  If you're not in the Jacksonville area, you should look for a Mom 2 Mom meeting in your area.  Anyway, included in the yearly $60 fee is childcare.  So, I get to drop Caroline off in the nursery at church and head upstairs to my group.  It's such a wonderful program, but that's another post.  :)  Caroline has two of the sweetest ladies that take care of her, Mrs. Kathy and Mrs. Ashley.  I love them and I'm so thankful for both of them.  Since today was the last Mom 2 Mom until September, I wanted to do something to say Thank You.

Again I am stealing from eighteen25.  I love this site!  You should definitely check it out!  For Katelyn's teachers, I had bought 2 small Yankee Candle jars when I had a BOGO coupon awhile back so I pulled those out and they were perfect.  I cut out on of the printables from the site, glued it on pretty pink paper and taped it on the back.  Then I just tied a simple silver curling ribbon bow and Wah-La!  Two cute teacher gifts!

For Caroline's teachers, I cut out a another saying from the same eighteen25 printable page, glued it so some black cardstock and threaded it onto a piece of silver curling ribbon.  I then took a snack size baggie, filled it with candy and threaded it onto the ribbon as well.  I then wrapped it around an AW Root Beer and there you have an "AW"esome teacher gift!  Hope you're enjoying this and getting some good ideas!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Week

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week at Katelyn's school.  I'm excited number one, because I really do believe Katelyn has the best teachers, and number two, I get to put some of my "copy-craftiness" to use!  A friend introduced me to a new blog last week called How Does She?  I've had so much fun looking through the site and getting some great ideas!  When you sign up for weekly email, she sends you a link to some free printables.  They have birthday, holiday, and even teacher printables.  You should check it out! 

Anyway, from that blog I found another blog called eighteen25.  They also have some really cute free printables, specifically for Teacher Appreciation gifts (though they really could be used for any kind of thank you gift.  This site gave some great ideas for inexpensive, yet creative gifts using things you might already have at home.  Today's gift idea come from eighteen25

I found the "fish" printable on eighteen25 and printed it on card stock I already owned then, using the bottom of my Starbucks cup, I traced a circle around the words and cut it out..  I looked in my bag of ribbon and found a cute black one.  I sealed the ends, hot glued the ribbon onto my red card stock then hot glued my circle on top.  I taped the whole thing onto a bag of Goldfish, again already in my pantry, the hot glued a bow I made out of the same ribbon as earlier and wah la!  A very cute, yet inexpensive gift!

I found some other great ideas that I will be attempting to make later this week!  Keep checking back to see what I'm going to do with root beer!  :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

One of Those Days

Have you ever had one of those days?  Well, I did yesterday.  It started out with so much promise!  We were staying at my parents house while they were out of town visiting some family.  Dan has had to leave early every morning for the middle school's Super Servant Spring Break at church so I was still in bed.  About 8am both girls come padding into the bedroom and climb into bed with me.  We laid there and snuggled while they watched Mickey Mouse on the TV.  It was so sweet!

When we finally got up, we remembered it was a special day!  "Tangled" came out on video!  Katelyn and I had been looking forward to it for a while now.  Mimi had left their pre-buy receipt for us so we could go pick up their copy for them.  We were more than happy to oblige!  This was the beginning of the slippery slope of doom.

We get to the mall and head towards the Disney store and all is well.  We stopped at Charming Charlies, because what trip to the Avenues is complete with out a CC fix.  They were so cute pointing things out they liked or thought was "pity."  After CC, we got to the Disney Store.  The girls were playing with the little toys by the register while I waited in line to get the movie.  With movie in hand, we were trying to make it out the door to the play area when Caroline began to pitch a crazy fit.  I guess she wasn't ready to leave.  As I calmly tried to pull my stroller off to the side of the store with one hand while holding a convulsing 2 year old in the other, the looks I got from other people were not at all encouraging.  Many looked at me with those condescending stares like they had never had a screaming 2 year old.  I truly think people forget how it is to have small children. 

Anyway, I calmly got in my child's face and whispered to her, "Do you need a pow-pow?  If not, then I would get in your stroller right now!"  Thankfully she calmed enough to get into her stroller.  I should have cut my losses right there and went home, but noooooooo, apparently I was a glutton for punishment that day.  We headed to the play are so the girls could run around a little since it was so yucky outside.  Melt-down number two happened there.  The pay area was packed so neither girl really wanted to play that long.  Caroline wanted to stand by the stroller and watch.  Katelyn got bored so I told them it was time to go.  As Caroline was putting her shoes on, she noticed Katelyn touching her stroller.  Meltdown #2 commences.  Caroline is always funny about Katelyn pushing her in or even touching her stroller.  I think Katelyn does it just to get a rise out of her sister.  So as I dragging both girls and the stroller out of the play area, I am receiving looks of pity at this point.  To be honest, I think those are almost as bad as the condescending ones.  I would just love to be ignored during these incredibly happy times (note the sarcasm).

So, after we go to the potty for bathroom breaks and pow-pows, we head home.  It seemed to go like that all day.  Something was always setting Caroline off.  She had a melt down over me not putting on the diaper SHE unwrapped, though I had her out of her wet diaper, cleaned, and re-panted before she was done unfolding hers.  Literally, that tantrum lasted 20 minutes.  Thankfully Dan got home and took her outside to calm down.  So those times, along with 2 or 3 others and  our 7 trips to the bathroom during dinner at Chili's (which is a whole other horror story), I had had enough. 

Thankfully, my wonderful husband took the girls home and put them to bed and let me be by myself for an hour or two.  I did some shopping for the girls Easter baskets and looked at some fabriC for a new skirt I want to make.  Have I mentioned how amazing and kind my hubby is?

Today has been a much better day.  They have played, laughed, sung songs, and just been overall sweet to each other!  I guess sometimes we need those bad days to truly appreciate the good ones.  Thankfully we have more good days than bad.  Hopefully it stays that way!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Parents

Well, I said I would be better about staying up-to-date with the blog so here I am for the second time this week.  I'll wait while you pick yourself up off the floor.  :)  Anyway, today is a very special day in the life of the Spurlins.  Forty-four years ago, my parents got married!  Fourteen months later my brother, Jeff, was born.  Ten years later came Dean and then another two years later came me.  Aren't you glad they didn't stop at two kids!  :)  Just kidding!  I'm sure there were days they wished they had!

Anyway, so back to my parents.  It is totally a God thing that they are together.  My dad grew up on a farm in Hopkinsville, KY until he left home to go to Austin Peay University in Clarksville, TN.  He majored in Music Education and played percussion in the marching band.  His senior year, he met with a recruiter from Florida who was looking for teachers.  He decided to pick up and move to Jacksonville, FL where he knew no one to start a new life.  He visited First Baptist Church the first weekend he was in town and met a man named Bob Temple who invited him to stay with him until he found an apartment.  He began working for Duval County Public Schools the very next week (I believe-My parents can correct me if I'm wrong).

My mom grew up in Jacksonville, FL with her mom, a registered nurse.  They attended FBC as well.  When my mom graduated from high school, she went to live with her aunt in Pensacola, FL where she went to college to be a dental assistant.  She met her best friend while living there and they would become my parents oldest, and dearest friends to this day (they were my second parents and loved me like their own).  My mom moved back to Jacksonville where she began to work in banking.  She also returned to FBC.  One thing you may not know about my mom is that she is very musical!  She sang in choir at church all through high school and played the piano very well!  That leads to the exciting part!

My dad was at this point involved with the music ministry at the church.  At this time he was filling in as director for the Chancel Choir (he has lead every age choir except 2nd grade.  Just an interesting fact thrown in).  Mary Frances Whittaker was his piano player and one evening she wasn't feeling well so she asked my mom to go and play for the choir during rehearsal.  Needless to say, that was the first time they met.

I love hearing stories of the time they were dating.  Apparently my dad would hang out with other girls, then come watch TV at my mom's house.  :)  We give him a hard time about being a ladies man!  :)  Their first official date was to a parade.  It was a patriotic holiday of some sort (sorry, I forgot).  What I do know is that it didn't take long for them to realize they wanted to get married.  Hence today being their 44th wedding anniversary.

I am SO thankful that God allowed me to be a part of my family.  My parents aren't perfect, but I can promise you that I never doubted that my parents loved me and my brothers.  I am thankful for the example of their marriage.  Through the ups and downs that every couple face, they showed the importance of commitment.  They taught me the value of family.  To this day, I'd rather be with my family than anywhere else.

My mom is one of the most generous people I know.  She is always giving to others in some way or another.  She is quick to bake her famous pound cake, open her home to our friends growing up, and now to middle schoolers.  :)  She is the epitome of the word loyalty.  Once you are her friend, she is your friend to the end.  She is wonderful at keeping in touch with people and making them feel special.  God has given her a gift with people.  She doesn't always realize it, but she has a way of making people feel special and appreciated.  She prays for people and one of my earliest memories as a kid was walking into her office and seeing her Bible on her desk.  She is a Christian and has never been ashamed to say it.  She is always one of the first people you call when something goes wrong.  She is always proud of me and my accomplishments.  She was ALWAYS at my performances (and there were a lot) and she always invited important people from my life to be there too.  I don't know how many performances Rodney Brooks was at because my mom bugged him to come because she knew it would mean the world to me.  I love you, Mom!

What to say about my dad?  I love my dad!  My dad is one of the kindest, humblest, most gentle men I have ever met.  I can count the number of times I have heard him raise his voice on one hand.  He is so laid back and easy going.  He tends to take life just one day at a time.  Some of my favorite memories with my dad are from those summers growing up.  Since my dad was a teacher, he stayed home with us each summer.  I remember painting our house one year.  As a parent now, I can't believe he let us help paint!  I can only imagine what my house would look like if I let Katelyn help paint!  Yikes!  It would be pink, purple, and yellow!  :)  Anyways, I remember going to pool every day and begging to take a picnic lunch.  Even before that, I remember the countless nights he would rock me to sleep in the rocking chair in the living room.  I remember sitting in his lap and him falling asleep before I would!  I remember him singing "Angels Watching Over Me" every night before bed.  He would braid my hair in the evenings so it wouldn't be all tangled in the mornings (I had very long hair as a kid).  I remember singing with him in different Sunday School classes.  He taught me to use my gifts and talents for the Lord.  I remember thinking my dad could do anything and I still do!  I love you, Dad!

My parents put a high priority on family that I am now seeing the fruits of in my own family.  The love, the time, the energy, the money, and everything else they poured into me and my brothers is now being passed onto another generation.  I know this is long, but I want you to know my parents like I do.  I am beyond blessed and so very thankful for both of them!  I love you both more than I could ever express!!

This is only the beginning of the legacy you are leaving!  We love you!
Williamsburg, Virginia, 2008

Monday, March 21, 2011


Well, the Elkins family has had a fun and busy couple of weeks!  We have had birthday parties, Disney adventures, a beach trip, daddy/daughter dates, picnics, sleepovers at Mimi and Papas, trips to Nana and Grandpa's and overall fun times!  I thought I would share some quick pictures as a picture is a thousand words (or however that saying goes)!  :)

Katelyn riding the horse drawn buggy down Main St. USA at Disney World
 Katelyn and Cinderella, her favorite princess.
 Katelyn and her best friend Haley on our trip to MOSH.  They played in the whale exhibit and the new hands-on exhibit (magnets, force,, pulley, levers, etc).
 Caroline playing with the magnets.
 Katelyn and Elias

 Blake's 3rd birthday party at Ollie Koala's.  Caroline liked the air hockey game.
 We packed a bunch of stuff and took the girls to the beach.  We had fun building sandcastles, picking up shells, and not so much fun running away from the seagulls.
 A rare picture of Dan and I together.  Not the best, but it will have to do.  :)
 Mommy and Caroline.  Caroline sure does like to "Cheese."
 Mommy and my silly girl.  :)
 The whole clan!
 This is what happens when you leave your 2 year old alone for 3 minutes.  She so wants to be big like her sister!
 Katelyn had a farm day at school (which got moved inside the garage due to rain).  She got to ride a horse, pets sheep, goats, a cow, and a bunny!  The horse was her favorite.
 Katelyn's 4 year old choir was singing in church.  She's on the back row with the blue bow.
 I was excited she actually wore pants!!!  Who knew a ribbon belt was all it would take?!  These are two of her sweet friends, Kinsey and Haley.
 Caroline was putting on a show at another birthday party we went to.  "Boo!"
 The whole clan at Pump it Up for Kelsie's birthday.
 The Nocks came over one evening for dinner and fun!  We jumped on the trampoline and decorated cupcake shaped jewelry boxes.
 Best Friends!
 We went up to Savannah to see Nana and Grandpa for St. Patrick's Day.  They put on one of the largest St. Patrick's day parades in the country!  This was our third year going and we're planning on making it an annual trip!  We had so much fun!
 Dan and I waiting for the parade to start.
 Mommy and Katelyn.
 Mommy, daddy, and Katelyn
 Caroline saying, "Cheese!"
 After the parade, we headed to Forsyth Park (a smaller version of Central Park) for a picnic and some playground fun!

Well, that somewhat sums up the last month or so!  I promise to be better about keeping up to date!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Multitude Monday

Well to say I haven't been good at keeping up my blog would be rather redundant.  I seem to say it a lot!  I actually have a lot to talk about, I just have a hard time sitting down and organizing my thoughts.  That being said, lets see if I can at least randomly list some the blessings God has shown me in my life.  Here goes!

76.  The 30 minutes after Dan gets home.  The kids no longer say, "Mommy!"  Now, it's, "Daddy!"  Aaahhhh.  Peace!
77.  flip flop season is back!
78.  Our trip to the beach on Friday afternoon.
79.  Watching Katelyn SCREAM when a seagull came anywhere near her (or really even looked her way).
80.  Watching Caroline play in the sand with an old Starbucks cup.  She was having a blast!
81.  Watching Katelyn and Caroline get excited about climbing and playing on the big painted jaguar and sea turtle in front of Sticky Fingers at the beach.  Oh to be a kid again!
82.  Someone walking by and offering to take a picture of our whole family in front of said turtle.  We don't have many of all of us together!
83.  Relaxing Saturday mornings at home!
84.  Watching Katelyn riding her bike.  There is something about a kid in a bike helmet that is so cute!
85.  Pushing Caroline on her scooter around the block then realizing I'm wearing my slippers! 
86.  Thankful my "block" is small!
87.  Coming home and seeing the chalk art a la Katelyn and Caroline on our driveway.  :)
88.  Celebrating Katelyn's 4 1/2 birthday and hearing her emphasize to people she is now 4 1/2!  That 1/2 is important!
89.  Listening to Katelyn talk to Daddy on the phone when he is away on a middle school function.  She always tells him she misses him and she loves him.  It is so sweet!
90.  Listening to Caroline babble and blow kisses to her Daddy on the phone.  She used to not want to even listen to him talk.  Now she'll talk back some!
91.  Getting to sit in my sister-in-love's Sunday School class on Sunday!  I miss serving with her.  She is a GREAT teacher!
92.  Having a date night with my hubby!
93.  Eating one of the best steaks of my life at Bonefish Grill on said date night.
94.  My parents taking the girls for the night so we could go on said date night.
95.  Spending over an hour at Books A Million reading and talking (and not about kids books)!
96.  Getting my girls back the next morning!
97.  Sunday afternoon naps.
98.  Jamie Vaughn's facebook status updates!  She is so funny!
99.  Not having to wear a sweater!
100.  Listening to my girls giggle in the bath tub (even more so because my husband is one bathing them)!

Join me next week for more of God's little blessings!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Multitude Monday

I have not done real well keeping up with the blogging this past week.  We had our 25th annual Pastor's Conference (I'll talk about that in a later post) and things got crazy!  But, I am back in blogland and ready to go!  So, here's my list for the week:

51.  my hubby being willing to watch the girls so I can go out with some of my sweetest and oldest friends tonight!  Thanks, Babe!
52.  blankets
53.  fuzzy socks
54.  heaters
55.  old sweatshirts that are over 12 years old that are totally broken in and more comfy than almost anything in the world!
56.  warm towels when you get out of the shower (wasn't that sweet of my hubby?!)
57.  putting a towel fresh out of the dryer on my legs as I fold the rest of the laundry (are you guys seeing a pattern here?  I've been so cold lately!)
58.  grilled cheese sandwiches with sharp cheddar cheese!
59.  my free Taylor Swift album
60.  seeing Katelyn get so excited about seeing what today's surprise is on our Valentine's countdown Calender
61.  the joy my kids get from going to check out book a the public library
62.  new free books on my e-reader
63.  reading valentine's books to my girls
64.  Disney World!
65.  Katelyn discovering her love of roller coasters!  She hates It's a Small World, but loves Thunder Mountain!  Go figure!
66.  Watching Caroline see Disney World for the first time and take it all in
67.  Seeing how excited Katelyn got to meet the princesses (Cinderella, Belle, and Aurora)
68.  Watching Caroline eat cotton candy for the first time
69.  that feeling you get when all your laundry is done (not that it happens often, but man, it feels good!)
70.  macaroni and cheese, or Cheez as Caroline calls it
71.  salt.  Have you ever thought about how bland food would be without it?
72.  my insulated Starbucks cup with straw.  I take it everywhere and I love it!
73.  Our new Word of Life preschool daily devotional.  It's perfect for Katelyn and she loves it!  We really have enjoyed doing it with her too.
74.  Disney Family Fun magazine
75.  nap time!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Manilow Concert


Wednesday night, one of my dreams came true.  I got to go see Barry Manilow live in concert.  Loved it!  Our seats were pretty far away but I didn't care.  It was just so cool to see him perform live.  His opening act was kinda lame.  He was the creator of the TV show "The Mentalist."  His tricks were cool, but after growing up going to all the David Copperfield shows, it was all stuff I had seen before.  He was kinda crude too so that didn't help.
Me and my brother, Dean.  Forgive the nostril shot!
Then, you see the orchestra dance out and take their seats then start playing a medley of Manilow hits and I got so excited!  The next thing you know, Barry is on the stage amid the lights and music and it was great!  He sang pretty much all his big hits, "Mandy,"  Can't Smile Without You," "Looks Like We Made It," "I Write the Songs," "Copacabana," and ended the night with my personal favorite, "One Voice." 

Live on stage (yes, that white speck is him).

That song brings back some awesome memories for me.  At my high school, Douglas Anderson, we put on a show every year called Extravaganza.  It's kind of a showcase of the best of the best from each arts area.  My sophomore year they celebrated the tenth anniversary of Extravaganza so they wanted to do something special to commemorate the occasion.  Each year they do a big finale and the first year they sang "One Voice."  So, they decided to revisit it for the tenth anniversary.  In case you haven't heard the song, it starts out with one accapella voice, then steadily grows with voices and instruments as the song goes.  The song talks about the power of one person speaking out because if one person speaks, then others join.  Go listen to it on iTunes if you've never heard it.  It's great!  Anyway, the performance at DA started with one guy all alone on the stage back lit with a spotlight so you only saw his silhouette.  He was then joined by an ensemble, then the orchestra pit ascended, carrying a group of about 100 singers, of which I was one, right in the front row.  It was just a really cool effect.

I can't believe what a smooth voice he still has at the age of 68.  Beautiful!
So back to Wednesday night.  The concert was coming to a close and he has already done 2 encore numbers. I was starting to worry.  He came back out and said he had one more song.  I looked at my brother Dean and said, "I really hope it's One Voice.  I really want to hear it live."  He begins to tell a story of how one night he got up in the middle of the night and recorded a melody in his sleep.  He woke up the next morning and pushed play and he heard the melody.  He immediately started to sing, "One Voice, singing in the darkness.  All it takes is one voice singing so they hear what's on your mind and when you look around you'll find there's more than One Voice..."  I looked at Dean, hit him on the arm multiple times and jumped up and down.  He was singing my song!

Anyway, one of my dreams has come true.  :)  I sat in the concert and literally said, "Thank you, God that I have the opportunity to fulfill one of my silly dreams."  I am so thankful that my God cares about my silly little desires and give opportunities for them to happen.  How great is our God!

"When October Goes"

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Yes....I'm a Fanilow!

Okay, so I have been awaiting tonight for many months.  Back in September or October, I happened to go to Jacksonville.com, which I rarely ever do, and saw a banner for an upcoming concert.  It said tickets went on sale the next day and I literally jumped out of my chair and did a little dance.  You see, I LOVE Barry Manilow!  Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved his music.  The stories, the melodies, etc.  I love it all.  Some of my favorite memories are family sing-alongs in the car on long road trips.  The Lettermen, Barry, Garth Brooks, and the Cathedrals are only a few of our favorites.  I think I learned the words to Copacabana around the same age I learned "Amazing Grace."  Okay, well probably not but it was pretty close.

Soon after Dan and I got married, he became the MS youth pastor at our church.  About 3-4 months after that, I learned Barry would be in Jacksonville.  I am sure I did the little dance of joy that time as well but, there was a problem.  He was scheduled to come on the same Friday night as our middle school Guys and Girls retreats.  This was a huge problem.  I couldn't miss the retreat.  I had promised I would go, and even if I hadn't, I didn't have anyone to go with.  Dan would NEVER have missed the retreat, especially for a Barry Manilow concert.  You see, Dan does not share my love of all things Manilow.  He tolerates him for my sake but would never choose to listen to his music. 

So, back to a couple months ago.  After I saw the ad and did my little dance, I sat back down and immediately sent an email to my mom, Dan, and my sister-in-love, Tiffany.  My idea (actually more of a command) was for them to buy my brother and I tickets for Christmas and we would go together.  I mentioned before Dan is not a huge fan, but even less of a fan is Tiffany.  She hates him with every fiber of her being (well that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but not much).  So, this would save Dan and Tiff both from having to go.

Thankfully, they heeded my advice and bought us tickets and tonight is the night!!  I am super excited!  It is the first time I'm getting to see him live and from what I hear, he puts on a good show.  I am going to try to take lots of pictures (if they let us) and I'll post some tomorrow.  I AM SO EXCITED!!!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Multitude Monday

So after my Thankful Tuesday last week, my friend Jill told me about Multitude Monday on a blog called A Holy Experience.  It is by a lady named Ann Voscamp.  She wrote a book called, "One Thousand Gifts."  I have not read it but I like the concept.  She talks about finding the everyday blessing of God and His grace through being thankful.  You can read the first chapter here. So, I am jumping on the bandwagon and adding to my list of blessings from the Lord.

25.  My Sunday school girls who listen, love me, and challenge me to look deeper into scripture.
26.  Diet coke with dark cherry syrup from Starbucks.  :)
27.  Quiet moments with Caroline after Dan and Katelyn have left for school and work.
28.  Time I get to hang out with Katelyn by herself.  Taking her to get her haircut last week was so sweet!  We just talked and giggled.  It was so much fun! 
29.  Pastor's Conference at FBC.
30.  Meeting and spending time with pastors, pastor's wives, and lay people from all the country (and even the world) and being able to encourage them and love on them.
31.  Being a part of corporate worship with a large group of men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving Christ.  It's electric!
31.  My husband and the ability he has to speak to parents and convey his love for them and their students.
32.  The time and effort he puts into preparing anytime he speaks.
33.  The way he constantly pushes himself to be a better youth pastor.
34.  The way he leads our family in every aspect of our lives (spiritually, financially, etc.)
35.  Our pastor, Dr. Brunson, for seeing the importance of tradition but not letting that hold him to past. 
36.  For Dr. Brunson pursuing Christ and His vision for our church, even when faced with criticism and indifference.
37.  Digital thermometers
38.  Magnetic dinner planners that go on the fridge
39.  Chips Ahoy Chunky cookies.
40.  Groupons for The Dreamette
41.  Large desk calenders that keep our lives some-what organized
42.  Dishwashers, though I realy wish they would invent one that unloads itself for you.
43.  The Married to Ministry blog roll.  It's nice to know you're not alone out there!
44.  Yahtzee app on Dan's iPhone.
45.  Little kid's birthday parties.  I don't know why, but I love them!
46.  My parents gave us Disney World tickets!  Can't wait to use them and take the girls!
47.  Lunches at PF Changs with my parents.  Yummy Honey Chicken with egg drop soup!
48.  Watching my daughters eat a banana.  they each have their own way they do it.  It's too funny!
49.  Seeing Katelyn and Caroline get so excited about going to the library to pick out a book.  Babie for Katelyn and Barney for Caroline.
50.  Grocery stores.  It's nice to be able to go to one place and get all the food items I need (and other things as well).  How convenient. 

I always feel somewhat random with my lists, but that's okay I guess.  God has blessed me in so many ways!  How about you?  How has God blessed you this week?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thankful Tuesdays

I've been inspired by my friend Jill to take the time to list some things I'm thankful.  She calls it Multitude Monday (which I believe she got from somewhere else, but who knows?).  She is taking time to list 1,000 things she's thankful for.  Growing up, my pastor, Dr. Lindsay Jr., challenged us every year to make a list of 100 things you're thankful for.  I don't know if I ever did it as kid, but I have as an adult.  When I journaled in college, I always took the time to list 5 things I was thankful for each day.  It's cool to look back and see what they were.  So, I am stepping up to the challenge.  I always want to thank God for even the small blessings in my life!  Who's going to join me?

1.  Time to spend with just Dan and the girls
2.  My daughter's laughter
3.  Massages  :)
4. Pedicures and cute toes (which I do not have right now!)
5. Date nights with my wonderful hubby
6. Cuddling on the couch with my whole family, feet in my face and all
7. Sunday night dinner with friends after church
8. Emperor's Bride tea from The Tea Room in Savannah
9.Extra-firm, yet soft pillows
10. Time to be by myself to read
11. Mom 2 Mom group discussion time
12. Comfy yoga pants
13. Hoodies
14. Disney vacations
15. Times when Katelyn gets excited about the Disney Village, thinking it's just as great as Disney World itself. 
16. Hearing, "I love you"
17. Victoria Secret Love Spell lotion
18. Amish Friendship Bread
19. Romantic Comedies (especially ones with Julia Roberts)
20. Watching Survivor and then discussing strategy
21. Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice with whipped cream and caramel sauce.  Yummy!
22. Karen Kingsbury books
23. Tape: scotch, making, packing, duct, etc (Have you ever thought about what life was like before tape?)
24. My new sewing machine and the fact that I actually figured out how to thread it!
25. The Generous Giving seminar this past Saturday.  Tim Keller rocked my world!

Now, what about you?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Caroline

Dear Caroline,

How time flies!  It seems like just yesterday we were headed to the hospital to meet you for the first time!  It was an exciting night and it's been exciting ever since!  You are so full of life and excitement.  It's such a wonder to look at the world through your eyes.   You have such a cute smile and it lights up the room!

Right now, you are totally in love with Barney!  Who knew that a little person could love a big purple dinosaur as much as you do.  You love to sing along and dance.  My favorite is when you shake your booty!  :)  You ask for Barney as soon as you wake up and always when we eat lunch. 

You are saying all sorts of fun things now too!  Mama and Daddy are still your favorite words with Sissy right behind it.  You say "up" whether you want up or down.  :)  You love juice and get really annoyed when Mommy tries to give you water or milk instead.  You love hot dogs, mac n cheese, shrimp and ice cream.  Chick-fil-a is your favorite restaurant.  You ate clams for the first time this weekend and loves them (though it made Mommy a little sick to my stomach).  You love to dance, sing (especially in the car), and play in your playhouse in the back yard.  You're trying to figure out the whole trampoline thing too.  You're not quite sure how you feel about it.  You still cry every time Mommy or Daddy drops you off in the nursery at church but you're always grinning ear to ear when we pick you up.

Mommy cannot believe what a big girl you have become.  It seems like you grew up overnight!  I love you and can't wait to celebrate many more birthdays with you!  Mommy, Daddy, and Sissy love you very much!!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


This morning our church had a leadership breakfast and our foundation brought in a guy named Dan from an organization called Generous Giving to speak to us about generosity.  I was looking forward to the free breakfast and a time to talk to some friends, but boy did I get so much more.

I have always thought of myself as a giver.  I always score high on the giving section of the spiritual gifts test, I have always tithed, I give my time at church, we consistently give to the building fund at church, etc.  I know I have selfish tendencies, as do most of us, but I almost took pride in the fact that I love to give.  This meeting challenged everything I had thought about myself in regards to giving and being generous.

First off, one of the things I heard was you can be a giver without being generous.  How many times have we given someone a dollar, not because they need it, but because of how it makes us feel and look to other people?  How many times have I volunteered for something at church so people will say nice things about me?Being generous is more than the action of giving.  It goes much deeper than that. It's a heart issue and a true desire to meet a need without looking for anything in return.

The last few verses of Acts 20 is Paul's closing statement to the church of Ephesus and the main things he wants to get across are to 1.) Believe the Gospel and 2.) Live radically generous lives.  On one of the videos, Tim Keller, links those two and says the are inseparable.  If you believe the Gospel, you will give.  Giving is at the heart of the Gospel.  "For God so loved the world that He GAVE..."

The thing that impacted me the most was when Tim was talking about treasures and how we make them idols in our lives.  We will do anything to obtain or hold on to those things we treasure.  The end up enslaving us.  He said, "Every other treasure will enslave you, but Jesus.  Jesus did everything to purchase you yet every other treasure expects you to lay down your life for it"  We are more valuable to Jesus than His glory because He gave it up for us when He came to earth.  We are more valuable to Him than His life, His comfort, His power, etc because He gave it ALL up for us on the cross.  He even gave up the relationship with God the Father.  I had NEVER thought like this before.  When I put something in front of my love for Christ, I am slapping Him in the face.  What a thought!  Then I think of all Christ gave up for me and then I thinkabout what I'm unwilling to give up for Him.

While watching that certain video of Tim Keller sharing all this, God spoke right to my heart in such a clear way.  He told me you take pride in not needing "stuff" but you are holding so tight to you comfort that there is no way you can be holding onto Me too.  WHAT?!  Comfort as my treasure, my idol?  The thought had never crossed my mind before but as I've thought about it today...a lot...it is so true!  What keeps me from sharing my faith and living out the Gospel to those around me?  Stepping out of that comfort zone of friends and church is scary!  What keeps me from being generous with my time?  It might inconvenience me or make me miss something I really enjoying doing.  What keep me from being generous with my money?  Fear that a comfort item or items will be taken away.  Fear that I may have to give up something for someone else.  It is like God has hit me with a Mac truck!

Now, I don't know what all this will look like in my life, but it's a starting point for me.  I know I have never regretted giving money or time to the church or friends or family, but I want to be one who is GENEROUS with my life.  I don't want to hold so tight to my comforts that I miss out on being an instrument of blessing from God to someone else!  Dan made a statement that stuck with me and it's, "God gives seed to the sower."  God is looking for those who are already busy working.  I want to be that person God blesses so I can turn bless someone else.  Pray with me as I seek what this looks like in my life and the life of my family!  I pray you all will be a generous people as well.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pizza Night

Well, we Elkins love pizza! Ham and Pineapple pizza to be exact. Dan and I have a tradition that whenever we move into a new home, we order a Ham and pineapple thin crust pizza as our first meal in that new home. Katelyn has continued the tradition of loving this pizza, but she is fine leaving out the ham. She just wants the pineapple, and the pineapple of mine, and daddy's and...you get the picture. She loves pineapple pizza! Caroline doesn't really care what's on it, she just loves it. With that being said, we decided we were going to make our own pizzas.

I bought some dough (not quite ready to make my own yet) and english muffins and all the fixings. We all had a blast making the pizzas and even more fun eating them! Here's some pictures of the process and final results.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A New Dinner

I will preface this entry with saying I am not the best cook. I don't really like to cook all that much so I am always looking for quick, easy meals to fix for my family. To help me save money when I go to the grocery sore, I have been trying to plan out our weekly meals and buy only what we need (plus some lunch stuff, a few snacks, etc). Some days I do really well and others...not so much. I found this website on facebook on a thread one of my friends started and it's pretty neat! www.monthlymenuplanner.com It has menus and recipes for each day of the month. I know they have January and February up but I haven't looked much farther. I tend to get into a rut with the meals I plan so I was looking for a little variety. I have not used their exact meal plan but I have definitely taken some of their meals and made them, or tweaked them to where my family would like them.

Todays dinner, Chicken Stuffing Casserole was straight from the website. It was super easy and my family loved it! Caroline ate all hers and asked for more and Katelyn, who we normally have to coerce, ate all of hers without us having to say anything to her! That constitutes a success in my book! So, in case you are interested, here is the recipe:

Chicken Stuffing Casserole
by Karen Barton
serves: 8

1 lb cooked and shredded chicken
2 box stuffing
2 cans cream celery
1 c milk
2 cans corn
2 cups shredded cheese

Prepare stuffing and set aside. Mix soup and milk together. Spread stuffing in pan; layer chicken, corn, soup mixture. Top with cheese. Bake 350 for 40 minutes.

I actually cut the recipe in half, put in an 9x9 pan and baked for 30 minutes and it worked great! I added a salad for the adults and we were set. I hope you guys will enjoy it as much as my family did!

Friday, January 7, 2011


If you know me at all, you know I love to read! Reading is kind of my escape. I like to read mostly Christian fiction, though I do enjoy Danielle Steele, Nicholas Sparks, and a few others. I don't want to have to think a lot when I read, so I don't read a lot of non-fiction. I should probably read more that challenges me to live a better life and to be closer to God but I'm just not that kind of reader. Maybe one day though! :)

I actually have quite a few people ask me for advice when they are looking for a new book to read. I am so thankful that our church has a pretty nice size library and that I'm able to check out many books. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to read many books by many different authors and a few have really stuck out to me. So, here's a few of my recommendations:

1. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers; This book is AMAZING! It is the first book I always share with people. I have given this book to many people as gifts and I always get the same reaction, they LOVE it! It is the story of Hosea and Gomer and the love God has for us. Amazing read! If you never read another book, PLEASE read this.

2. Divine by Karen Kingsbury; Another one of my favorite books. It is a modern day story of Mary Magdalene. I was crying by chapter 3. It's heart breaking but will change how you see trials in your life.

3. Unveiled by Francine Rivers; This is the first book in a series by Rivers of 5 women in the Bible (Tamar, Mary, Rahab, Bathsheba, and Ruth). It is based on scripture but it's important to understand it is not scripture. Rivers uses all the facts that scripture gives along with historical facts, but puts her thought in the stories. She takes you inside the minds of these women and what they may have thought and felt. Makes you think!

4. After Anne by Roxanne Henke; This is the first of 5 in a series of different women who are all connected in some way. I love the way these books are written as each chapter is written from a different character's perspective. It jumps around so it keeps you interested. It's cool to see the same situation played out in different people's perspective.

5. You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes by Lisa McKay; Now this book is a non-fiction book but reads so easily! It is written by the wife of a pastor for pastor's wives but I think any lay woman would glean lots of wisdom from it as well. She talks about many of the problems and issues many women face but coming at it from the pastor's wife perspective. Loved it!

Well, hopefully this will be a help to you as you choose a new book to read. Many public libraries carry a christian fiction section and you can download many of these books at amazon or another website where you can read them on your computer. Our public library now has it where you can "check out" digital copies of book for 2 weeks. Haven't tried it yet but it sounds cool! Happy Reading!