Thursday, July 31, 2008

Battle of the Bands

While at Toys 'R Us spending some birthday cash, my family was sidetracked by several rounds of Guitar Hero. Of course, the hubby beat us all - hands down. (Hardly a surprise.) Despite my lackluster performance, it did create a stirring.

I want to have a good old-fashioned Battle of the Bands. (Granted, we'd need to purchase the game first but, hey, I'm dreaming here.)

First things first, we'd need a BAND NAME. Believe it or not, there is even a "Band Name Generator" website (click HERE to try it out for yourself). Below is a listing of our top picks:

  • Reverent Vega And The Cult
  • Dejected Vega
  • Sublime Vega And The Grinding Logic
  • Vega Fright
  • Herbal Vega
  • Vega Branch And The Pudgy Cheetah
  • Vega Pineapple Of The Chosen Native
  • Vega Yogurt And The Creature
  • Vega Core
Decisions, decisions. Then, of course, we'll need to have other bands to battle... I'm already counting on Tilly and her family, Amy and her family (though they are MONTHS ahead of us in practice - this could be a problem), and perhaps Pippy's family.

Can you tell I've really been thinking this through?

There's one problem though (two, if you count the fact we don't yet own the game) - someone has to sing. Ren has already claimed bass, Meeley wants to play drums, the hubby is a shoe-in for lead guitar... what's left? SINGING. And all of you faithbookers know how I feel about singing. (I can only do it when the music is loud enough to drown out the sound of my voice.) I told the hubby we might just have to hold band tryouts to see which role we are each best suited for.

Because I'm sure mine is not singing.

If you're interested in duking it out in a future Rock Band competition, let me know! Oh, and I'll be sure to let you know when we've chosen our band name. And purchased the game. And I've completed singing lessons.

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can you say "CONVENTION"?

It's just around the corner. You know what that means...

(Oh yeah - and new products as well.)

I forgot to mention in my Mall of America birthday extravaganza post that we saw an American Girl store in the works. I might need to borrow a girl so I can go.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

God means to be noticed and wants to be remembered.

A fellow cropper/blogger/faithbooking friend Mellissa posted an entry late last night requesting prayer for her pregnancy and unborn child. (You will find her prayer request HERE.)

While preparing dinner, I began flipping through my daily calendar after realizing I'd missed a couple of days. It opened to tomorrow's date and this is what I saw:

It echoed my comment to her almost word for word, including the verse! (Just click on the photo to enlarge.) Coincidence? No way. It was a God Moment - a tangible reminder of His loving and unfailing presence.

He IS in control, Mellissa.

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Here's a hint for the August Faithbooking Crop:

Our next Faithbooking Crop will be on Saturday, August 9 from 9:00 am-4:00 pm at Hosanna Lutheran Church in Lakeville. The crops are FREE and include snacks, beverages, and make-and-take supplies. Feel free to work the crop around your schedule, just let me know if you plan to attend and I'll be sure to have a spot ready for you.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: The next Faithbooking Crop will be on Saturday, November 8 from 9:00 am-4:00 pm (or until 9:00 pm, if you choose). The crops in September and October have been cancelled.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

my kind of toys

Note: the small child on my right has his mouth on a whoopee cushion. (Yes, this is my child.) Ren asked me to play LEGOS and I somehow ended up dueling with a lightsaber and defending myself against a rapid assault of Nerf darts.

NOT my kind of toys. (I prefer a quick but intense round of Gobblet or a rousing game of Bed.)

Speaking of fun, football allergy season is upon us. After our harrowing experience with Singulair last year, I set out to find an effective yet not-so-scary replacement. We've already tried three different kinds to no avail. If you've had a positive experience with over-the-counter allergy medication, please let me know!

Too, I forgot to share some scrapbooking resources with you after the last crop. Mary introduced me to a couple of new books:
The second is written around digital cropping and has some great ideas for creating hybrid pages. I can't wait to order them for myself!

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Monday, July 28, 2008

munchy is eight

Today was The Big Day and we celebrated (again) with our traditional birthday breakfast (which included a small gift) and by measuring Ren on the garage wall. He grew two full inches this year!

We spent our day at grandma's pool and celebrated (again) with Grandma Pat, Auntie Stacey, Auntie Amy, and the cousins. There were more presents and candles to blow out. The little guy was wiped out tonight - probably from all that blowing!

I thought I'd introduce you to their new Build-A-Bear critters (we had a little photo shoot this morning):

And of course, what would a photo shoot on THE WALL be without a jumping shot?

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chaos was once my frenemy

Years ago my life was much like the scene at this bumper car track - spasmodic, intense, and disordered. Looking back, I can easily see how almost every problem I faced was due to a foolish choice I'd made. God has worked me over in this area and has thankfully given me a supersensitivity to this former frenemy. Chaos no longer has a place in my life.

At the time, many of the foolish decisions I made even appeared sound. But I was swimming in consequences - bill collectors and bankers were hot on my tail, relationships around me were crumbling, and I was restless and discontent. Deep, deep down I knew something was amiss.

Over the years, the Lord has given me several decision-making "guidelines" that have dramatically changed my life. Most of them center around this verse:
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure (undefiled); then it is peace-loving, courteous (considerate, gentle). [It is willing to] yield to reason, full of compassion and good fruits; it is wholehearted and straightforward, impartial and unfeigned (free from doubts, waivering, and insincerity). James 3:17
The Bible tells us that true wisdom comes from God - it carries with it certain characteristics and produces fruit. When making a decision (whether it be how I'm spending money, committing time, childrearing, or anything else), I do the following:
  1. Pray and ask God for His wisdom and guidance.
  2. Use common sense; it must yield to reason! God will not tell me to do anything that causes me to accumulate debt nor will He put anything before my husband or family.
  3. God will never contradict what He has said in His Word. (He will not direct me to lie, cheat, steal, or have an affair; He will not tell me to carry a grudge or seek revenge.)
  4. Is it simple or complicated? The verse above tells me that His way is pure (which according to my thesaurus also means modest, plain, simple, sheer, undiluted, true, straight, perfect). His way is straightforward.
  5. His way is peace-loving, which also means: tranquil, peaceable, and quiet. God is not the author of confusion in my life.
  6. His way is courteous. It takes others into account; it is respectful, attentive and full of police concern for the well-being of others (my thesaurus also describes it as being sympathetic, careful, kind and generous).
As I mentioned above, using these guidelines has dramatically changed my life and given me a great deal of peace regarding some of the more difficult decisions we've faced. I can promise you this my friends - His way works!

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

not your typical block party

The kids made ice cream. And slime. There was even some sort of experiment involving crystals. Several of the adults were even a tad envious.

I guess it helps to have a chemistry teacher in the neighborhood! It's amazing how much you can learn while having fun:
  • Did you know that barium is used to create green colors in fireworks? Or that copper compounds create blue?
  • Did you know that eggs act as an emusifier in ice cream and that without it, your ice cream would be icy instead of creamy?
  • Have you ever heard of strontium? Apparently, stontium salts impart a red color to fireworks.
Perhaps a weekly lesson is in order...

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i want to be more than a godly wallflower

How many of us go to church and Bible study, attend Christian conferences, read Christian books and yet somehow still remain on the sidelines? We may even consider ourselves "godly" in these practices but the truth of the matter is, God's Word calls for action:

…The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you… (Luke 10:2-3)

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25)

Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete." (Luke 6:46-50)

The Lord recently placed an opportunity before me, something beyond my reach and well outside my comfort zone. Despite the fact I'd just completed a 6-week Bible study on obedience, I told Him I wasn't ready. I was filled with doubt, questioning whether or not what I'd heard was indeed from Him.

It got me thinking.

I woke up this morning to have a little time with God and when I opened my latest Joyce Meyer magazine, I found this:
Have you ever felt like you missed out on something great? Sometimes out of fear, laziness, passivity, irresponsibility, or wrong thinking, we can miss out on opportunities that God puts in front of us.

Many people sit in church afraid to get involved because they're thinking if they get involved, they could get taken advantage of or hurt. Or if they start helping, they'll be asked to do everything. By faith, we can learn how to say yes and how to say no.

All of us want to hear from God, but we don't have to sit around and pray for six months over every little thing. Sometimes the only thing we can do is try it. Just try it. When we have opportunities, let's take them.
Stunningly, it echoed the very same words my mom had spoken to me only yesterday. Talk about a God Moment. So instead of simply thinking about it, I acted and filled out an application to be an NILMDTS photographer. Now it's in His hands. If I am called to serve, I need to trust the Holy Spirit to give me the grace I need to do so. Despite the doubts. Despite the fears.

Despite the discomfort.

He's taught me to follow Him no matter where it leads and He has never let me down. Starting up a home-based business. Letting go of my desire for more children and trusting His plan. Public speaking, and with a microphone nonetheless! Taking on the task of a BLOG and talking about Him of all things on it. And then there's the whole photography-thing.

All are things outside of what I ever pictured for my life. All are things that pushed me outside of my comfort zone. Yet, believe it or not, I still waiver despite the many times He's proven Himself faithful! Thankfully, He understands.

The Lord said to Moses, "Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say." Exodus 4:12

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

that's what friends are for...

Do you remember when Pippy invited my son Ren to celebrate his birthday in a very special way? Ren enjoyed himself so much he wanted to copy the celebration - activity for activity. So we ventured out to the Mall of America this morning, with Pippy in tow.

Here we are at Nickelodeon Universe; I lost a coin toss with the hubby.

The boys had a blast. I left feeling like I'd been in a car accident.

We moved on to less dangerous activities. Each of the boys adopted a pet from the Build-A-Bear Workshop and we ended our day with lunch at the Rainforest Cafe.

Now THAT was awesome.

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angie's most recent post...

Just beautiful; be sure to read it. (Click HERE for a direct link.)

Too, I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with Amy Taylor's heartwrenching story but she was featured on a local news channel this week. You might want to begin with an article featured in our local newspaper last year (click HERE) before viewing the recent video footage from Kare 11 News. (Click HERE; the video clip is on the right side of the page.)

What has pulled from from the beginning with Amy's story is her passion for living and the legacy she is striving to leave for her family. It's beautiful and inspiring despite the painful circumstances. I think it goes very well with Angie's post above.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

let's paaarty!

Grandma Lita took us to lunch today in honor of Ren's upcoming birthday. After checking out the sidewalk sale at Wet Paint (which, by the way, is where I found THESE VERY COOL JOURNALS), we dined at the Coffee News Cafe. With breakfast available until 2:00 pm, the boys were able to order eggs, toast, and pancakes while Lita and I chose one of their many delicious sandwiches. (You should have seen the desserts!)

Afterwards, we stopped by Lita's place for presents and cake. (Or is it cake and then presents? Questioning the order of things is an ongoing Vega tradition.)

Let the birthday partyin' begin!

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the road before me

As most of you know, the family and I recently returned from a trip to Illinois. What I failed to mention was the blessed usefulness of my hubby's GPS receiver, which we have named Curt. Curt and I have a love-hate relationship; nine times out of ten, I find "him" to be extremely annoying. Why? Because I don't always agree with his timing or direction. But while on vacation, I found myself relying on Curt more and more. As we traveled through unfamiliar territory, I was grateful for his guidance and GPS wisdom. With his assistance, we were even able to make a few spontaneous detours with ease (A&W, Hobby Lobby, and IHOP).

The hubby's GPS receiver: it's a good thing.

I can't help but think of my life. Looking ahead, I wish I had at the very least - a detailed road map. I don't. (Even if I did, there would likely be detours beyond my control.) Thankfully though, I do have a Navigator and He has the map. And just like our road trip to Illinois, I don't have to see the map - I just need to trust the Navigator.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah 30:21

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go," says the Lord. Psalm 32:8

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Psalm 25:4-5

During seasons of uncertainty and change, it can be very easy to get focused on the map. Though God has a perfect plan for our lives, He wants us to chase after Him - not His plan. Instead of "turning Him off" and proceeding on your own, allow the challenges to draw you closer to God by spending time in His word and in His presence. He'll guide you through one step at a time.

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Mighty to Save

I'm most familiar with Hillsong's original but our local station has been playing a new version by Laura Story. With a name like that, you JUST KNOW there must be a story... lo and behold, there is! Here's Laura's story:

She is also the artist who wrote "Indescribable" which Chris Tomlin recorded a few years back.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

oh how i love this!

I had the opportunity to see my sweet nephew again this morning and, of course, had to snap a few shots. He's just precious. (What I really wanted to do was pose him. And use baby props. But I restrained myself. Until next time. I'm hoping to first "woo" my sister with these shots.)

I really need a baby to play with. Perhaps it's time for another free photo shoot...

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Hearts at Home

The annual Hearts at Home Conference is just around the corner, so whip out those calendars girls! Though I've not yet attended, many of my faithbooking friends have and give it rave reviews. (Click HERE for conference details.) Kirk Weaver, author and founder of Family Time Training, will be teaching two of the sessions (Deepening Your Child's Faith and Fun & Exciting Family Time). I'm a huge fan.

One conference will take place in our area (Rochester, Minnesota) on November 7-8, 2008. You can register online by clicking HERE. In addition to those mentioned above, session offerings include the following and more:
  • Helping Your Kids Make the Next Right Choice
  • Do Your Kids a Favor... Love Your Spouse
  • Teenager... It's Not a Disease
  • The Great American Supper Swap
  • Surviving Motherhood Without Losing Your Cool
  • Keeping Your Ducks in a Relative Row
  • Worn Out Moms
  • But Mom, I Don't Want to Move!
Are any of you mommas out there planning to attend?

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

they say it's her birthday

and I guess it really is! Happy Birthday Mom!!!!

Five posts in 24 hours... I think that's a record. Have a great day everyone (especially you, Mom). I'll keep my bloggy mouth quiet now.

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the song

2000 Years by Travis Cottrell

(The man even has a blog. And if you're a fan of Boomama, you might have already heard about his wife's jeans.)

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Here's what ya'll have been waitin' fer...

In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through — all that bloodshed! So don't feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?

My dear child, don't shrug off God's discipline, but don't be crushed by it either. It's the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects. God is educating you; that's why you must never drop out. He's treating you as dear children. This trouble you're in isn't punishment; it's training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God?

We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God's training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God's holy best. At the time, discipline isn't much fun. It always feels like it's going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it's the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.

So don't sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!

Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you'll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God's generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time.

Hebrews 12:4-15 (MSG) [emphasis mine]

The concept of "Between a Rock & a Hard Place" is something all of us can relate to because we all have trouble. All of us. Jesus even makes mention of this in John 16:33: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 [emphasis mine]. Beth was specifically addressing those times when we feel stuck between a rock and a hard place - when you feel caught or pressed in on every side.

As Christians, we may experience this a few different ways:
  1. When we've made a mess in our lives and we're dealing with the consequences.
  2. Perhaps by having a faith crisis with God Himself.
  3. We're changing (i.e. growing) and someone around us isn't.
In dealing with Issue #1, Hebrews 12:5 is our encouragement (just click on the orange link to see the verse). Chastisement for a child of God is not simply about the consequences. The word "discipline" in this verse is derived from the Greek word paideuo, which is defined HERE. Thus, to be disciplined is to be well-taught. God is not after pain, He is after us "learnin' the thing." He wants us to learn from our mistakes because He loves us and wants the very best for us. So when discipline comes, humble yourself and receive it!

In dealing with Issue #2, we need to remember that Satan's goal is to get us to shrink back from God (to draw back, avoid, backoff). Ladies, we need to hang onto God with everything we've got!!! No matter how difficult it gets, do not turn your face from Him. Keep an open dialog, even if that means pouring out your hurt and anger to Him - there is great intimacy to wrestling with God.

In dealing with Issue #3, when you are dealing with a difficult relationship in your life there are a few key things to remember:
  • Consider things from their perspective.
  • Do not let it steal your joy.
  • Your "job" is not to fix everyone around you, it's simply fixing your heart before God.
This is just the tip of the iceberg! She went into each issue with great depth and also touched on the topic of bitterness and the danger it can present. (Hebrews 12:15). Good teaching, my friends. Because there was SO MUCH in the way of spiritual nuggets, I'm sure you'll find bits and pieces of the conference laced into future posts as well.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

speaking of sharon...

Guess who I saw today?!! I grabbed a Caribou to go and met Sharon and her daughter at my mom's pool. (What can I say... it's summer.) She really put the pressure on for highlights from the Beth Moore conference. (What can I say... it's summer.) I'm finishing up a 6-week Bible study tomorrow and then the highlights will follow. I hope.

What can I say... it's summer!

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the pink ladies even made it to video!

LPL Minneapolis from Rich Kalonick on Vimeo.

For those of you still waiting for the "highlights" post, here's a wonderful video (with a beautiful song by Travis Cottrell.)

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