Did you know God is a Planner? There are dozens of scriptures in the Bible that reveal the character of God. We can acquire a wonderful picture of who He is and how He operates when we spend time in His presence and read His Word (the Bible). Most of us know He is loving, forgiving and that He cares. But how many of us know He likes order, goals and planning?
Since my two older children are nine days apart, I decided to combine their birthday parties. My daughter, who turned 3, adores Thomas the Train and all his female train friends. My son, who turned 5, has been dreaming about being a pilot for over a year. I thought I could easily put together an airplane and train party (aka a “Things that Move Party”) to appease them both. Thankfully, it did.
We had approximately 75 guests join us at a nearby park. I was hoping to use a local train themed park but since there were none, I opted for a park with lots of space a parking.
The weather was perfect! We had already postponed the party once due to rainy weather, so we were incredibly blessed when we had sunny skies all day.
The only downer was discovering the playground was going to be off-limits for most of the party, since the city was refilling the bark on the playground. Thankfully I had lots of games and activities planned to keep our little guests busy until the playground would be open. Below is an example of one of the crafts I had available. Our little guests were able to create their personal train. At another station, they were able to make paper airplanes and fly them into their international destinations (hula hoops on the ground with stakes indicating country).
In addition to the crafts, for months prior to the birthday party, my son was requesting “old-time” relay races for his party. I had already decided we’d do potato sack races, balloon hops and the “egg on a spoon” relay; but to compliment our theme, I made trains and planes for them to race in. Using the cardboard from large diaper boxes, I cut them according to airplane design I found on Pinterest. I then spray painted them and used electrical tape to shape the numbers. They made the most adorable photos and the kids adored running in them.
For their birthday cakes, since we are healthy eaters and my son doesn’t like cake, I made watermelon cakes. My daughter likes coconut milk, so I added a layer of coconut milk frosting with nuts. She loved it! My son’s cake didn’t look as glamorous but he’s a basic guy. I gave him exactly what he wanted: a watermelon cake with his favorite fruit.
For decor on their present tables, I free-handed the drawings for their “about me” birthday boards. I seriously don’t know what to do with these posters when the party is over but I love them displayed at parties. See photos below to see how they turned out. Along with the boards, I picked up a couple of books from Amazon for our guests to sign. My kids love to read and I think they’ll really enjoy reading notes from friends and loved ones in their favorite books.
For our photobooths, we had rented G & C Party Games’ Thomas the Train Photo Booth, but for our airplane theme, I created a large Pilot License. The Pilot License is made out a foam board with foam stickers. It was very easy to put together and I absolutely love how it came out.
Aside from the clouds I made with balloons bunched up with blow-up airplanes, I decorated the top part of the canopy (park shade structure) with a airplane-banner and departure sign. I loved the idea of a departure poster from Pinterest and I had to customize it for our party. My hubby and I sometimes lose track of time and what needs to happen next at our parties, so it helped us stay on schedule too!
When it comes to most of my parties, I do all the planning and minor details of decor and food. If you haven’t noticed I gather a lot of my inspiration from Pinterest but I also recruit G & C Party Games to help with the food, games and decor. As always, they took my kid’s party to another level. We had onlookers asking about our party as if it was a carnival. My husband and I were very impressed with the way they transformed the park. G & C Party Games provided a Thomas the Train photo-booth, train and airplane table ends (trains were characters from Thomas the Train and friends), an airplane pinata, an Ashima (Thomas’ friend) train pinata, carnival games (golf, toss, and tic-tac-toe), and the main course of our menu. Our friends and family had plenty of food and fun. If you’re in the Stockton, CA or greater Sacramento area, check them out to help book your next event: G & C Party Games. Take a look at the photos below to see the pinatas they made!
Overall I’m incredibly pleased by how the party looked and went. My kiddos were happy, guests had a great time and we stayed within our budget! Whew! For all my party planners, I hope these photos inspire you. May your event be just as fun for you and your guests!
I’ll admit sometimes it’s annoying and other times it’s humbling the types of remarks my husband and I receive. We often hear things like “Your life must be easy, because your marriage is perfect,” or “your children are perfect”. We chuckle because we know WE ARE NOT PERFECT! Although we do aim for perfection because in Matthew 5:48, God tells us too! Side note: God never asks us to do something we cannot do. It’s achievable. The honest truth is we have conflicts in our marriage just like everyone else; we are guilty of yelling at our kids sometimes, getting angry, frustrated and disappointed like everyone else. What gives us this appearance that we “have it all together” is not because we spend countless hours looking for the best posed picture for Instagram or rehearsing how to “act” in front of others; it’s because we work HARD at keeping God the center of EVERYTHING.
God is the center of our marriage, parenting style, self-care, friendships, work, everything! We use His Word, the Bible as our instructional manual. We constantly turn the pages of the Bible looking for guidance, strength or direction. We’ve learned that when we seek God’s wisdom, we find a path that’s error-proof. It so happens, that when anyone seeks God, He gives grace and glory as a bi-product (Ps. 84:11). What people observe in our lives is not the greatness of Juan or Angelita. It’s the greatness of our God and what He can do in a family.
One early morning, while I was in prayer, I began to thank God for all the blessings He’s given me. If you’re new to prayer, always start with thanking God for your blessings. Ps 100:4 says you enter God’s gates with a thankful heart. In that moment of thanksgiving, I thought about my life without him. Immediately I felt prompted to write this blog…”What would my life be like without God?” Truthfully, because I know how to recognize God’s hand in my life, I can easily write all day what He has saved me from, healed me from, redeemed from, delivered my from… you get the picture. I’m going to do my best just highlight a couple areas of really what my life would be like without God.
My Life Without God…
I would not have been married, but bitter and full of hurt. Because I struggled so much in my adolescence fighting against God’s love and will, I dealt with rejection after rejection in my relationships. While God was trying to keep me from hurt, it was like I was running to it. It didn’t take long before I felt battered and broken.
Even early in Juan and I’s relationship, we had conflicts in our beliefs and how to live our lives. Outward influences constantly put roadblocks in our relationship. Not to mention, we were immature. We had no idea what healthy dating looked like or even what a healthy marriage was supposed to be. There were times we hurt each other so deeply, recovery looked impossible. We struggled with trusting one another, validating each other and managing conflict. It’s without a doubt if we didn’t have God, we would have never married! I would have never fought for our relationship through prayer. I can’t number the times I cried before God for my husband, my heart and our relationship. By God’s grace, He led us to a church that would show us how to be a husband and wife and teach use how to have a healthy marriage.
I would have had poor eyesight and Scoliosis. I recently shared with a friend when I was in sixth grade I had really bad back pain. I always assumed it was due to a bad fall. Until one church service, right before a minister prayed for me, I discovered I had one leg longer than the other. I had scoliosis. The man called my mom to witness and before our very eyes, God stretched out my leg to align with my other leg. In that same week, God healed my family’s eyes (we all wore prescription glasses) and he filled my Dad’s cavities (at that time we couldn’t afford to go to the dentist and my dad desperately needed fillings). I am convinced there’s nothing God cannot do!
I would have had chronic stomach pain. When I was in high school, for years I had chronic stomach pain. After countless examinations, tests and diet suggestions, the doctors were never able to identify the onset of my terrible pain. I remember crying night after night in horrible pain, until one night I cried out to God. I fell asleep and the pain never returned.
I would have been dead. Honestly, God has saved my life more times than I can count. One day I dropped off my husband at work and I wasn’t feeling well enough to drive. Despite my condition, I persisted. I was driving to Sac City College to double up my load while attending CSUS. I didn’t make it. I made a wrong turn and I ended up driving my little old sports car right under a 4X4 truck head on. My car was completely smashed. I walked away sore but without a scratch.
I would have been mentally unstable and socially scarred. At four years old I was molested by my Uncle. It went on for a while until one day my mom confronted me about my suspicious behavior. I was trapped in fear for so long and completely ignorant about the severity of the situation. After the truth had been revealed, so much division came upon my family and relatives. The situation haunted me for years, it distorted my relationships with significant others and effected my view of intimacy until God healed my brokenness.
I would have been depressed with a broken heart. My brother and I had a very close relationship to the point when I was in high school and going through some really tough times, I literally told God, “I don’t care if any one dies but please don’t ever take my brother.” I was ignorant, full of hurt and didn’t know God’s character as much as I do know. God doesn’t “take”, he “gives”. Yet here I was less than four years later after uttering those words, hearing the one person I didn’t think I could live without was no longer alive. My whole life felt crushed. I can remember my boyfriend (now husband) practically carrying me to the car as we left the movie theater. I happen to take my mom’s call during the previews. She told my boyfriend the news to prepare him for my reaction. A moment later she told me what had happened. Juan helped me out of the theater while I wailed. I’m surprised no one stopped him to see what had happened to me. God met me in my distress. He picked up the pieces of my broken heart, mended and healed me of my wounds. At that point in my life I had to know God was real. Church couldn’t be an event and faith couldn’t be a fad. I needed to know God as my Comforter. I had to trust Him like never before. Like a loving Father, He began to reveal to the answers to my questions, comfort my heart and hold me when I felt alone. I’m forever grateful for God’s love and the promise I have to see my brother again.
Honestly, I could never imagine the fullness of my life without God. Life without Him is inconceivable. He is the air the breathe. He is my source of strength and peace. He is my hope when I feel all hope is gone. He is my help when I don’t see a way of escape. My heart grieves for those that don’t know Christ. I couldn’t endure the weight of this world and all of its turmoil on my shoulders. God knows no can, which is why He had to send us Jesus.
So when people admire my family, my marriage or my life, I can’t accept the credit. What they are all seeing is the light of God within us and what He can do in a surrendered heart. There is no darkness too deep, He cannot deliver you out of. No act too horrible, He cannot forgive. No brokenness too scattered He cannot mend and heal. God is able to help, heal, recover, mend all who are willing to allow him to. He loves us all. There’s nothing we can do to change that fact. Still we are all given a choice. A choice to receive His love or reject it. I’m praying you receive His love. Believe me, you won’t regret it. As my Pastor says, “Life goes better when God is first.” I know it to be true.
Praying for you,
I love you. Although we say these words to each other at least once a day, and hundreds of times throughout the year, I never grow old of hearing them from your lips, nor saying them to you. In fact, every time they’re spoken, they’ve grown far more meaningful throughout the (almost) twenty years we’ve been together.
Of course we can get on each other’s nerves or frustrate one another. We always love each other, but sometimes we don’t like each other. There are times were I can get too emotional and times where you need to let me talk. Still, I choose you. I still choose to love you forever, my Valentine.
I’ve been a mom of three kids (4 years and under) for only four months and I can’t believe how much my life has changed for the better! Honestly the idea of 3 kids all under school-age did have my heart skip a beat. Since I have that A-type personality, I adore organization and order in my home. Yet with three munchkins, I kept thinking of how I was going to maintain what I hold dear. Nevertheless, I’m happy to share how expanding my family has been far more of a blessing than just added “stress”, like some might think. It has changed me.
Just as you would protect your valuables, your marriage should be protected too! We often focus our attention on the things that are clearly visible. For example, our kids need new tennis shoes, the car in the driveway needs to be clean, the living room needs a new paint job, the water filter in the refrigerator needs to be changed and so on. Life can be so demanding, we can forget about the things we cannot see or touch, like our marriages. Yet, marriage is one of the most valuable parts of our lives and the infrastructure of our home, it needs protecting. Continue reading “Fortify Your Marriage Before It Decays”
We had been dating for four years and we were in our last year of College, scheduled to graduate in the Spring of 2003. Although Juan often expressed interest in getting married while we were in College, I often turned down the idea. I didn’t want to be married until we graduated. I had big dreams and I desperately wanted to stay focused on them. Despite my hopes of getting a doctorate degree and my desire for a house to call my own, Juan knew I wanted a long engagement. Time was ticking so he began planning his proposal and working two jobs to pay for my engagement ring.
Last year I started a new tradition in our household. I incorporated random acts of kindness with our advent calendar (or countdown to Christmas). As we countdown the days to Christmas, beginning December 1st, we do one random act of kindness each day until Christmas morning.
On my birthday, my husband hacked my personal Facebook page and left the most beautiful, uplifting post about me. It was a message that probably gave the impression that I am a perfect woman. Which I am not! Regardless, he went on describing how I am this “superwoman” doing all these amazing things. As I read his post I kept thinking, “How is this me? I am in no way the woman he is describing!” Although his message was sincere and sweet, I had the hardest time reading it. My judgmental radar was up and I began to criticize every word he wrote. I wasn’t looking for any errors on his part, rather it was I who was on the surgery table to be scrutinized.
On Sept. 11th, I started my countdown to Maciella’s arrival. She was already 4 days past due, and although I had not felt anything but Braxton Hicks contractions; I was definitely sensing she was going to be making her appearance soon. However, if at all possible, I really didn’t want my baby girl to be born on a day our nation mourned. I wanted her to be free to celebrate her birth without the pull to memorialize the tragic event of 9/11.