Friday, December 31, 2004


Happy New Year!!Many of you have asked me about how our 'date' thing works so, rather than the usual flowers you are getting a different kind today. I hope that it will inspire you to spend time with someone! My husband and I have surely come to appreciate whenever we receive a gift that comes in the form of time spent with us, our kids or enabling us to spend time together or with our families. This idea can certainly be adapted to a spouse, a friend, neighbor or as we use it, for our kids.

Having 5 children and running a business sometimes makes itdifficult to spend time one on one with our kids. At first we thought we would just take them out once in awhile. Unfortunately,we found that without a concrete plan those dates didn't really materialize. We decided that we needed to do something a little more deliberate. We plan a particular event to do with each child each month. We set a limit on the amount of money spent (if any) and also decide who will take them on that particular date. Obviously Dad gets to do some of the more 'guy' things to do with his boys. Fortunately for us our boys also like to do artsy things so mom gets to do those kinds of things with them. This year we will also be employing a new twist with our oldest son who is 8 1/2 - gentleman lessons! Dad will take him out and help him plan out a 'date' that he needs to execute, it will involve planning, budgeting and escorting mom out to some kind of activity. Dad will coach him through the various aspects of how to treat a lady, good manners and chivalrous behaviour. Then he gets to practice on mom. We figured that the sooner he gets good at treating the female gender with respect and courtesy the better. We'll see how that goes.

Now we weren't perfect with getting every single date in, some ofthem were very weather dependent and our weather wasn't so great this year. But over all the kids figured it was the best present they got last year and we enjoyed it, too. It was a gift that kept giving all year and they are eager for this year's dates. As I said earlier, this could easily be adapted to fit for a spouse, or a friend, you just need to change the events! Here are some ideas of dates that you could use!

bike ride
movie and popcorn
breakfast (or any other meal)
picnicplay time at a park (with just you)
breakfast in bed
pony ride (if you know someone who has a horse)
ice-cream date
tea party with all the fixings(dressed up really fancy, too)
we have a store here where you can make beaded jewelry so each of thekids got to make a necklace with their name in it
I am a member of a scrapbooking store - we'll be making trips there this year
spray parks in warmer weather
maybe there is some special entertainment that is appropriate that you could work in if you know it in advance
special request dessert or meal

If any of you have other ideas that could be added to the list add them into the comments. If you don't have a blogger account, you can comment using the 'anonymous' button.

Friday, December 24, 2004

You Give and Take Away

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope that Christmas Eve finds you having a stress-free day, enjoying friends and family. If you’re one of those dear people who helps keep things running on Christmas day, then blessings to you as well! In this season of giving and receiving I was reminded of a song that we sing frequently in our church. There is a line in the song that comes from Job’s experience that goes, “You give and take away, you give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord, Blessed be Your name.” One day as we were singing that song I was contemplating that phrase. We usually think of God taking things away from us in a negative sort of way, as in loss of something or someone that we love. That of course, is the context of Job’s cry – he had just lost his home, his business, his health and his children. His wife encouraged him to curse God in his grief. Job refused and that is where that famous line comes in.

In my contemplation of that line I reviewed all of the things that God takes away from me that I am really glad He took away. Here’s the beginning of my list – I’m sure there is more to be added to it.

God takes away:
- my sin
- my guilt
- my shame
- my loneliness
- my blindness
- my tears
- my pain
- my sadness
- my incompleteness
- my imperfections

He gives me instead:
- His joy
- His peace
- His completeness
- His freedom
- His Son
- His perfection
- His love
- His gifts
- His Holy Spirit

As you give gifts and as you take some away this Christmas, remember that our loving heavenly Father gives and takes away, too. Sometimes those losses are painful, but not always, we have much to be thankful for. I have tried to teach my children that we need to keep focused on what we have, or what we can do not on what we don’t have or what we can’t do. In all of those circumstances let our hearts choose to say, “Lord, Blessed be Your Name.”

Friday, December 17, 2004

now you see it, now you don't

I’m glad I can’t see too far down the road, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know about all the things that are going to happen in the next year or my brain and body would go into immediate overload. On the other hand I am so thankful for a dear sister in the Lord who is helping to equip my husband and I in our home and business to plan ahead and mark out the steps to achieve that plan.

A friend and I were talking this past week and she was wishing that God would just show her what 2005 would look like because she wasn’t too jazzed about what 2004 had been. I said to her that I was pretty sure she didn’t want to know. At first she was a little puzzled but then I explained to her what I meant. If I had been able to see into the future a few years ago I would never have gotten out of bed. If I would have known what a roller-coaster beginning your own business is, that I would have a child with serious health concerns, that there would be difficult issues to face in my family, I would not have signed up for my life. At the same time, when I look back and see the changes that God has made in my life and the positive ways that I have been strengthened and encouraged through all those difficulties I wouldn’t change one thing.

Another friend, the one who is helping us with getting our time frames in order was also over this week and working with us. What a blessing it was to look forward and see what we would like to accomplish in the next year and how we’re going to work toward that. I’m guessing that 2005 may be a little less bumpy in our business and home than 2004 was. A dear lady that I have gotten to know through the wonder of the internet has written a little book called “The Treasure of Careful Planning” (Donna Kauffman, the book is available through her website Careful planning is just that, a treasure. Seeing what lies before you and laying out the steps to get to where you want to go gives you a path to run on. Proverbs 15:22 says that plans fail for lack of counsel and Proverbs 20:18 says to make plans by seeking advice. We aren’t islands and we need to look ahead.
Back to the other hand, we can make all the plans we want but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21). Even though we don’t see what’s going to come in the midst of all our planning we can trust that God, the very most careful planner has plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future when we seek Him with all of our heart (Jeremiah 29:11). So now we see it (the plan) and now we don’t, but rest assured God is in control of all of it and will not give us more than we can handle, even though it might feel like it at the time! When you look back and see what God has done you will find that there are precious gems that have come to light in your life that were probably just rough rocks before. He’s polishing us up as jewels in His crown. Plan ahead and look for the Lord’s plan at the same time, they may seem to be in conflict with each other but they aren’t. As we are fond of saying in our church, God is good all the time and all the time, God is good.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

King of All Creation

We just released our first full length CD called King of All Creation!! It has been, and continues to be quite a ride. If you want more information go to our website at or go to Blessings or Parable or Cafe Vivant and buy it!!!!

Another new family member that I didn't mention in my last post is:

Gage - my brother's foster son

Friday, December 10, 2004

new family members!!!

Just gotta tell the world about all our new family members this fall!!

Shoko - is a Japanese exchange student living with my sister for this year!!

Rachel Dara Joy Braun - was born to Kelly's younger sister Sonya and her husband Rod on October 12

Cody Wade Larry Wanner - was adopted by Kelly's older sister Tamara and her husband Bill on December 9

remember mercy

We hear a lot of cries for mercy in our household. I'm guessing thatwe'll hear plenty more. As a parent it is difficult at times to knowwhen to extend mercy and when the judgement needs to come down. Myhusband struggles with this particularly because he has a huge heartof compassion. He greatly desires to give every possible opportunityfor a change of heart. Over the last number of months as he hasundergone some heart changes himself and learned more about holdingup authority he has had to look closely at this balancing act betweenmercy and judgement.

Christopher gives us plenty of opportunity to practice on theparenting balance beam. He has become an expert at pleading formercy, asking for the 'second chance', not only for himself but forhis siblings, too. It makes for some interesting conversations inour home as we have to explain why kid #1 is experiencing judgementright now because of their actions and kid #4 is getting mercy. Wetry to extend mercy when we can and one day Christopher tookadvantage of it. He figured he had gotten away with whatevermisdemeanor that had occurred and was gloating a little over it. Hewas pushing the envelope a little far and suddenly Kelly told himvery sternly, "Don't take my mercy lightly." We were all a littlestunned by the impact of that statement.

Later as we unpacked the situation we were overcome by our Daddy'smercy towards us that we take so for granted. God has extended mercyto us far beyond where we deserve. He is holding back His judgementbecause of His huge heart of compassion to see that change of heartin each of us. His mercy is extremely costly to Him, a very valuableand precious commodity. As we approach the time of rememberance thatwe set aside for celebrating the gift of Jesus, let's take time toremember what this gift actually cost. Remember mercy.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

low cost and/or clutter free gift ideas

Dear flower friends,

After my 'spiel' on stuff-mart I thought that it might be a good idea to give you some ideas for low cost/clutter free gift ideas.
A couple of websites that speak to these issues are: (think it's obvious what they're about) (lots of clutter-free gift ideas)

Here are a few that I've gleaned or come up with on my own. Feel free to comment and post some of your ideas (if you don't have a blogger account - post under 'anonymously' you can include your name in your comment).

1. For the kids - Dates!! - truly the gift that keeps on giving. We just started this last year for our three oldest kids and they told other people it was the best present they got. We planned dates that were age/gender/weather appropriate that they would get each month with either mom or dad i.e. bike rides, picnics, swimming at the pool, going out for breakfast, etc. The anticipation for each month has been great and it's been a lot of fun taking them out. We'll be adding #4 boy to the dates this year and the kids are eagerly anticipating a new pile of them.

2. Family coupons - make sure whoever you're giving them to actually uses them. We've loved receiving coupons for babysitting, tickets to the theater or some other event, housecleaning - use your imagination and make sure it's applicable to the person who's getting it.

3. For all those teachers - get (or make) a gift for the classroom rather than individuals. This was the teacher isn't getting yet another bottle of something or other or another ornament. I've seen pretty storage boxes given, coupons for the local learning store, encouragement cards that the teachers can give out to students, maybe a welcome sign for their door - take a look around and see what is truly needed.

4. Write a letter of appreciation for your child's teacher and give it to the principal of your school.

5. If you have a particular gift or talent why not make that your gift. My husband and I have a music school, are musicians, etc. one of our gifts this year will be the recording that we just completed. Another gift will be recording time for one of my husband's sisters - yes it will cost us time but you're also building relationships. Maybe you sew, clean, are good with cars or home repairs - think about what you do well and give it away.

6. Here's a fun idea for pre-schoolers that I got from our pre-school teacher. It's for a 'fleece-board'. Get two pieces of strong cardboard (the sides of a banana box work well). Duct tape the two together on the long sides so that they are hinged and fold up like a book. Poke two holes about half way up on each side and thread some yarn or string through leaving the loose ends up. Purchase about a meter of plain colored regular fleece. Lay the cardboard'book' on the fleece with the loose string ends up. Fold the edges of the fleece over the cardboard and duct tape it down securely. Flip it over and draw your loose string ends together tying them where it will make a good tent. Get some felt and cut out shapes, numbers, letters, etc. A good way to do that is to draw out your stuff on the dull side of freezer paper, iron it onto the felt and it will be very easy to cut out, when you're done just peel off the freezer paper - you can re-use it a couple of times before it won't stick anymore. Tada!! you have a two sided 'fleece-board' and pieces that your pre-schooler will love.

7. Rather than buy a bunch of presents, take your family on a 'night on the town' go to a hotel, eat out, or do whatever you love to do together as a family. Our kids opted for this this year, they are getting only one present under the tree and we're going water-sliding at a local hotel.

8. I heard this one on the radio. You would want to do this a little in advance. A lady took out a single portion serving and set it aside in a freezer/microwave container and froze it as she prepared meals for her own family. Then she gave all those meals (about a month's worth) to her elderly grandmother making sure they all had wonderful gourmet names on them. Grandma got lots of healthy, home-cooking for a whole month.

9. Do baking for people who don't. (Like me for instance :)!!)

Hope that gets you inspired to do some thinking before the day arrives.

Merry Christmas Lani

Friday, December 03, 2004


Last week my daughter who is 4 1/2 and I went out on a date. We were having a lovely time at a little shop where you can make beaded jewelry, we got her some pretty tights and watched the fish at the aquarium store. We were having a splendid time when something nasty grabbed hold of my beautiful little girl and turned her into a pouting, whining, ungrateful little girl. Her cry was, "I want more stuff!" That's a literal interpretation, that is exactly what her words were. I was horrified, appalled, saddened by the change that occurred. We tried to reason with her, pointing out that she had received four items already that day, it wasn't enough. We tried to explain that if she wasn't happy with what she had nothing would satisfy her. Her cry remained, "I want more stuff!"
I began to feel physically ill as I listened to my daughter's cry. I was sorry I had taken her out. Of course, I didn't think that things would go this way when we went out. However, on a previous errand run that week she had wanted everything in site and we had a similar experience (except that time she got absolutely nothing). I told my husband about feeling ill, telling him that what she was saying was just making me sick. He turned to me and said something very profound. "This is the cry the God hears over our nation every moment of the day - we have exported that noise all over the world. How it must grieve His heart." I had to agree. While I ran an errand he started praying over this matter and by the time I returned to the van my little girl had been restored to a grateful, thankful heart.
Dear friends, this is the season that 'stuff-mart' takes over more people than any other. Let us not give way to the perceived 'need' to give or collect more 'stuff'. As Madame Blueberry learns in the Veggie Tales show, "A thankful heart is a grateful heart and has everything that it needs." There are many websites with ideas for focusing on the season and the people rather than the stuffI would encourage one and all to check them out.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

more coffee comments

I find writing about coffee seems to get response!! I was visiting Mary Hunt's website and she was giving tips on thinking 'less'. (She's a financial guru that helps to get you out of debt and debt-proof yourself). So she was talking about the expensive habit of Starbucks latte's. They are almost $4 for a cup (that is totally ridiculous for hot liquid and milk in my opinion). So if you get a super strong plain coffee (about half the price) and sidle on over to the flavored creamers, sprinkles, etc. you can get yourself a 'do-it-yourself' latte for a lot less (if you like that sort of thing - which I don't)!!


My honey and I were having a conversation late in the evening discussing our vision and our finances. Gnashing our teeth a little on the need for seed!! So we started praying about that and claiming God's promises for provision when suddenly my DH had a little revelation. God IS pro-vision or for-vision. He gives the vision and he provides for it and he is for it.