Tuesday, April 29, 2008


i have seen these necklaces on several women and thought they were SO cute! not only are they attractive and unique...they actually commemorate most special people in your life. you can get them to read with any name or sentiment and then with a picture stamp or a date (birth date, anniversary, death, etc).

i have always loved the theme of remembrance in God's word. he commands his children over and over to "remember", to set up stones at places of significance so that when their children asked why the stones were there they would be prompted to pass on the heritage and stories of God's faithfulness to the next generation and remember themselves what God has done and in turn who he is. all of the things he did in old testament times, new testament times, and during the church age, even last week, whether in your life or another's proves who he is for you today and will be in the future. he doesn't change so you can count on the character he showed for abraham to be the character that he will show for you.

remember your own story. think of it, tell it, revel in it often. i have tried to think of different ways to "set up stones" in my own life (scrapbooks, journals, home movies, traditions) and thought these pieces of jewelry were a great way to do that. i know the tatoo issue is one of controversy so here is a "removable" way to wear on your body the things God has done.

Monday, April 28, 2008

ever played for rice?

Help end world hunger
i know this has been around a while, but for those of you who managed to miss it...this is fun! i tried it, and got hooked. it also looks really legit. the site takes the money from the advertising you expose yourself to on the bottom of the screen while playing and improving your vocabulary and then buys rice for people who are hungry....cool, huh? let me know how you do:)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

olive-y goodness

the fun reason to love olives
the statistical reason to love olives

Saturday, April 26, 2008

tale of the poisonous yuck-bugs

there are very few products i get really excited about so when i find one i will pass it on to you! this one is so great cuz it's not just a product that makes life easier or food more yummy or something temporal like that. it actually helps children understand an important concept in God's word and even better, it is written in such a way that it would be acceptable to use in a secular setting!

the book is called Tale of the Poisonous Yuck Bugs and was written by Aaron Reynolds. it is based on Proverbs 12:18, but as i said, if you don't read this verse on the title page, the rest of the story does not refer to anything religious and would be acceptable almost anywhere.

it uses a concept interesting to kids (bugs and venom) and the illustrations are impossible not to look at. these bugs "infect" all those around them with their poisonous words until one day they unleash on each other and feel the effects of their tongues. they add insult to injury and sink deeper into ill health until a "watch-what-you-utter-fly" comes and starts spewing her words of affirmation and kindness. not only do the bugs not feel worse, they actually start to feel the effects of the poison lessening.

i have used this book with my own children, with children i baby-sit, and even in my work setting. for some reason it always holds kids' attention and they seem to grasp the concept more than just rote memorization of it.

my son asks me frequently now if something he just said was a "yuck-bug" word or an "utter-fly" word and wants to administer the antidote when one of the yucky words hurts someone else.

click here to check out this book. there are two others in the series that we own and enjoy, but this one is definitely our favorite.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

letting it all hang out

i haven't purchased a swim suit in ten years. i only did it then because i had to for my job (no-not sports illustrated; i was a junior high youth group intern for the summer...lots of beach trips and water park events). tonight i actually took home the suit you see here. i haven't tried it on yet, but it is in my posession.

i bought it during a moment when i was convinced it was more important to be with my children this summer (in the pool, not on the side) then to hide whatever i may be embarrassed of. of course i am not believing any such nonsense right now, but maybe by the time it heats up i'll think it once again.

of course, first i have to try the thing on....

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

it's only fair

so we were shopping and i told the boys we should start thinking about what we wanted to get daddy for father's day. immediately ari said..."we should get him a vacuum". i was a bit perplexed by this answer, but thought....well, noah got a toy vacuum for sinterklaas day so maybe ari thought along those lines, but....hmmmm..... so i asked my son-"how come you want to get daddy a vacuum, honey?" his matter of fact reply was "well, you always get to vacuum and daddy never does, so i thought we should get him one."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

the big green and real problems

so i whine a lot. the person who hears the most of it is my mom. i try to shield sonny from some of it, at least, and the rest of the general public just doesn't want to hear it. well, neither do sonny or my mom, but they're stuck with me.

i don't even remember the subject of my whining that day. it was probably our over $11,000 tax bill that came a few weeks ago (ouch!) or some other financial woe. my mom imparted these words that she heard recently and have been steeping in my brain ever since...."if it can be fixed with money...then it's not really a problem." wow. think about it. think of all the incredibly wealthy people who could have made my little tax debt disappear like it was throwing a penny in a wishing well. that is not REAL pain. true pain is the stuff that NOTHING can fix (except the grace of God). the ache in your heart when relationship is broken, illness looms, death steals, your child suffers. that is a real problem.

not only did these words help lessen the blow of my "tragedy", and give me a new appreciation for what i have, they also put life into perspective a bit. if the "problems" i don't want are the ones money can't fix; then why do i spend so much time and energy trying to have money and neglect the things that are unfixable by it? does that make sense? why am i spinning my wheels to make more money (not that financial wisdom isn't good) to the detriment of my relationship with my husband and children? why would i let my child be raised by strangers so that i could have more financial freedom, but later be devastated by regret and possible negative consequences on my children from my lack of involvement?

money can solve a lot of things and for that i'm grateful. i want to focus my life on the things it has no bearing on.

hmmm....does this remind anyone of something Jesus said? difference between earthly wealth and heavenly treasures? i don't know.....

Monday, April 21, 2008

"Well Done"

it isn't often that i use cliches as they are so....cliche. but, today i make an exception for an exceptional woman. Susan DeVora Perez was celebrated and her earthly body was buried today. Susan was born second of ten children in poverty in bakersfield, california. she knew pain well beyond her young years when she came to Christ. she came to him and never looked back. after completing her studies at Latin American Bible Institute with her husband Victor they embarked on the next three decades of faithful service. not the kind of service that takes place in a church building or a para church organization, although plenty of that went on as well. the ministry i'm most changed by is the one that took place in their little home (with more additions and room partitions that can be counted to accommodate all those they took in). they became "mom and dad" to literally hundreds of foster children "officially" and so many more "unofficially". my husband, susan's nephew, was one of those children. they took in addicts, homeless people, alcoholics, ex-cons, and anyone "undesirable" to the society around them. they walked into the Perez home and felt not only desired, but loved, cared for, fed with physical food and nourished with spiritual food as well. they were crowded, inconvenienced, unappreciated, irritated, and taken advantage of. they pressed on in the name of the One who saved them and their door was always open. susan literally poured out her life as is described of Christ. she is now in her glorious body with no more pain, no more heartache, and as Sonny said...."a big, fat, well-done".

Friday, April 18, 2008

dad keeps his cool

so you're 18, just got your learner's permit, you're leaving the mini-mall and dad says "hey, wanna give the car a spin?" you excitedly catch the keys he tosses you and hop in the driver's seat. ready to prove yourself you put the car in reverse and confidently step on the gas. instead of backing out smoothly you find yourself (and your dad and his suburban) catapulted into the baskin robbins in front of you...right through the glass of the store window. as you stare at the signs for brownie sundaes and cappuccino shakes now plastered to the front window of the vehicle, what do you suppose may come out of your father's mouth at this moment?

"wanna get some ice cream, son?"

what an incredible choice that dad made. he chose to give life, to communicate value and significance to his child. he fought the temptation to berate and lament the cost, inconvenience and sheer stupidity of his son's actions. he chose grace and i know his son will never be the same because of it.

the story in the vancouver sun

Thursday, April 17, 2008

marriage is work?

You've heard of the unity candle and jumping the broom , but maybe not this wedding tradition...

"Nothing like a little hard labor to get a marriage off on the right foot. The Italian custom of sawhorsing holds that neighbors must set up a log, sawhorse, and double-handled saw for newlyweds, who halve the log together. The thicker the log and duller the saw the better; the arduousness of sawhorsing symbolizes the equally mundane tasks a couple will have to endure together throughout their married life."
Scatterbrained by Ransom Riggs, Will Hickman, and Hank Green

would divorce rates go down if this was a part of the american wedding ceremony? wait, no, it would probably mess up the bride's hair.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

watchin' the numbers go down

i am embarking (again) on a weight loss journey. in the interest of disclosure as a form of accountability and transparency i will be tracking my journey this time on the world wide web.

over the past year i've lost 35 pounds and recently gained 15 of it back. before i get back to my original weight (and surpass it) i am embracing the principles of weight watchers that aided me to sucess originally. so far i've lost THREE POUNDS! i will continue to track my ups and downs (hopefully more downs than ups:) in this public forum with hopes of added motivation for my efforts.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

sip coffee, view art

my friend, joanna panter, is displaying some of her creations at the beaumont starbucks now through mid-may. check it out!

4633 NE Fremont St 97213

Saturday, April 12, 2008

future mrs. varela

sonny: (kristal enters the car) "so ari was just telling me about his wife..."
kristal: "oh, really?"
ari: "yeah, she might have short hair like you, or maybe long hair"
kristal: "mmm..."
sonny: "what color eyes will she have?"
ari: "like mom's"
sonny: "how tall will she be?"
ari: "as tall as mom"
sonny: "will she be fat or skinny?" (don't worry...i'll talk to sonny about this question later)
ari: "just like mom" (good answer, son!)
"actually, mom-i can't think of any girls like that so could you just come live in my house and be my family?"
sonny: "what would i do, buddy?"
ari: "you could find a new family...i would help you....i could call some people on my iphone and then they could come live with you"

Friday, April 11, 2008

they said "please don't go girl"

we never left.

girls with big bangs are very loyal.

April 04, 08
New Kids on the Block appeared together for the first time in 14 years this morning on the Today show to officially confirm their comeback.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

how then shall i live?

in light of what tamara said to me that night (see yesterday's post) i was challenged even more on the fidelity and health of my marriage and family. i have always known these were of utmost importance and have been very active in propagating that view, but in that very intense and emotional moment with tamara and being so freshly wounded by others missteps i was deeply moved. i don't want to simply "not divorce" or "not have an affair". i want to FIGHT for my marriage. i know the picture above this blog may seem a bit extreme, but i think it captures the attitude i need to have perfectly. anything, anything, that is a potential threat to my marriage must be hacked to shreds and this must happen long before the thing has time to grow or have a serious hold. any person, any activity, any ministry, any hobby, any material thing that stands between my husband and i needs to be annihilated. it just is not worth it. my children are worth this fight and if i lose they are are the true victims. not to mention all the hundreds of people in our circle of relationship who would be deeply effected.

if i seem extreme, take a moment to think on the stakes. what is in play here. it is worth nothing less than war.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

dinner and hope

they look like ordinary people, but don't let them fool you. they are ray and tamara lubeck, slowly and profoundly actually changing the world in the name of Christ. sonny and i are literally different people because of the both of them.

they graced us with their presence at my favorite restaurant of late, manzana grill, and let us pour out the things on our hearts. one of the things i brought up was the extent of hurt i feel over all of the men who have "fallen" from their position because of sin in the last year and a half. while ray and tamara were compassionate and saddened by these blows, they would not let us leave without reminded us of the One who will never fail. even though he gives us wonderful people who remind us of him...he is the only one who will never disappoint. never choose momentary pleasure over my well-being. never be unfaithful to his bride. never.

those were words to marinate in and soak up for a long while, but then tamara added something more. she looked me in the eyes and said..."it would crush us if we found out you had broken your covenant. we love you and think so much of you and it would devastate us so much more to hear sonny and kristal had done this than all of the other people you named". some of the people who have let me down were also in the lives of the lubecks. still, tamara chose to look at me with desperation, begging me to understand the impact my choices have on her and so many others. wow. i was still. what truth she spoke to me. what weight my little life has, what gravity my choices hold.

part three coming tomorrow...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"moral failure"

In the past 18 months I have been audience to the “moral failure” speech by six influential and dear men in my life. Not one, or two…which would be a lot…but SIX. How can this be? These are men I deeply respect, have been in their homes and their lives and know they love God. They have shaped how I think of him and now they have devastated me. They have lost position, influence, careers, families, and more. When I saw the Elliot Spitzer case or insert the name of any of the many politicians and leaders caught in “compromising” positions, it didn’t have nearly the same effect as the other six times I’ve heard this news over the past year and a half. Spitzer didn’t invest in my life. Spitzer didn’t inspire me to love God more and live my life in a way that is radically different because of it. I’m slightly disappointed by his behavior as a leader in our country and I grieve for his family, but beyond that, it’s none of my business. With these before mentioned men, it WAS my business. How do I handle this? How does the church handle it? These were all prominent people with positions in the church. God’s greatest agenda, to my understanding from His word and actions, is reconciliation. Shouldn’t this then be my first priority? How do I go about this with someone who has been removed from the church because of his actions? How do other members of the church do it? The pain these men have inflicted is deep and widespread. Oh may we never think sin affects just us. Just the person we have sinned against. Just our immediate family. The wave of impact is great and wide reaching. All who it crashes on will never fully recover in this life even after the Lord’s healing.

I did get to process this with two of the most dearly beloved people in our life. I walked away with hope and with encouragement. Stay tuned…

Monday, April 7, 2008

have you...

tried redbox yet? i highly recommend it for your movie viewing pleasure.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

onions, cake, and parfait....all have layers

i had lunch with my favorite friend today, heather. she continues to amaze me with the courage she shows in peeling back the layers in her life. even though it can be stinky, and it can make you cry, she presses on layer by layer and lets the Great Healer do his work. the best part for me is that she lets me in on her journey. thank you, heather.

SHREK: For your information, there's a lot more to ogres than people think.

DONKEY: Example?

SHREK: Example? Okay. Uh... ogres are like onions.

DONKEY: They stink?

SHREK: Yes. No!

DONKEY: Oh, they make you cry?


DONKEY: Oh, you leave them out in the sun, they get all brown and start sprouting little white hairs.

SHREK: No! Layers! Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. You get it? We both have layers.

DONKEY: Oh... you both have layers... You know, not everybody like onions. Cakes! Everybody likes cakes. Cakes have layers.

SHREK: I don't care what everyone likes. Ogres are not like cakes... You dunce, irritating, miniature beast of burden. Ogres are like onions. End of story. Bye bye. See ya later...