Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tasty Tuesday: Salsa Beef Skillet

This is a very tasty recipe. It is extremely simple. The main thing to remember is that you need to have time (about 2 hours) to let everything simmer.

Salsa Beef Skillet

1 boneless chuck roast (2 -2 1/2 pounds) cut into 3/4 inch cubes (I use stew meat)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 jar (16 ounces) chunky salsa
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro or parsley
2 tablespoons lime juice

Hot cooked rice

In a large skillet, brown beef in oil; drain. Add salsa, tomato sauce, garlic, brown sugar and soy sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 2 hours or until meat is tender. Stir in cilantro and lime juice; heat through. Serve over rice.
Yield: 4-6 servings (unless your husband loves it like mine)

Just a little note: For anyone who thinks I am hopelessly addicted to blogging... well, you are right. I also use the blogger option to schedule posts. (So, no, I didn't bring recipes on my trip just so I could blog.)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mom Moment: I am going to miss security blankets one day

My 4 year-old son has a sleeping buddy. His buddy, Bobby, is a blue lion that has a stuffed head and a blanket body. Every night, my son spreads him out just right on his pillow so he can sleep. He will only sleep on one side of Bobby. He says it is the cooler side. We make sure that Bobby is with us if there is a chance for sleep (nap or nighttime - Bobby is a must).

When we got ready for our vacation, we made sure Bobby was packed. During the hour and half drive to the airport, my son asked for Bobby. He was tired already. My husband told him that Bobby was packed but that we would get him out of the suitcase when we got to the airport.

There was a lot to do at the airport. The kids were excited. People were everywhere. We had to check in. We took our bags to luggage check-in and then we waited in line to go through security. My son was tired. He complained about not wanting to stand in line. He wanted someone to carry him. He wanted Bobby. My husband gave me a look and, in an instant, I knew we were in trouble.

We broke the news gently that Bobby was still packed in a suitcase. My son's heart broke. We assured him that we would get Bobby as soon as we landed and got our bags. He cried and cried and continued to cry. He cried for an hour as we waited to get on the plane.

The trip was long. We had one 4 hour flight, an hour lay over, and then a 45 minute flight. We were tired (especially me) when we arrived. I was standing with family watching the kids run around when I heard the announcement for anyone missing luggage to report to the airline desk. I watched my husband come get his ticket and I asked him if we were missing bags. He said, "Only one" and he gave me that look again.

Sure enough, all of our bags made it except the bag with Bobby.

That night, my son handled not having Bobby like a champ. He was extremely tired and happy to be with family. As I helped him fold a blanket and place it on his pillow, he said, "Momma, this doesn't feel like Bobby."

The whole situation squeezed this Momma's heart.

Our bag was returned. I felt like a hero when I handed my son his treasured Bobby.

I know I am going to miss his love of Bobby one day.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thursday Thanks Tank #93

Oregon is one of 2 states (NJ is the other one, I think) where you are not allowed to pump your own gas. You pull up to the gas station, the attendant comes to your car, you provide your payment and specify what type of gas and how much you want, and then you wait in the car. Most of the time, after the gas automatically shuts off, the attendant say, "Do you want you me to top that off for you?"

My Thanks Tank was "topped off" today. We are enjoying a rare treat: visiting our families. I am happy and extremely thankful for this visit to see our families. I am just going to make the list about our trip even though I have much more to be thankful for this week (It is quite late here in the Eastern Time Zone. Oh boy, I wonder how long it is going to take for me to adjust.)

I am thankful for:

A safe flight: Flying makes me nervous. It isn't the plane or a fear of heights. It's the smell of the complimentary peanuts handed out on the plane. We made it safely with no reactions. Here's a (not so flattering) picture of my crew (no, he isn't picking his nose and, yes, I dressed them all in red so I could spot them easily)

Clothes handmade by Grandma: Isn't she precious?

Cousins Swimming (and playing) Together: On one side of our family, there are 11 cousins. Here's a picture of 8 of them swimming. The three youngest weren't in the pool at the time.

Cousins playing dress-up together: It is so delightful to see my little girl following her girl cousins around.

Getting to hold my newest nephew: He's 4 months old and he is one sweet little man.

Delayed luggage as opposed to lost luggage: ONE of our bags didn't make it to our destination when we did. Sure enough, it was the bag with my 4 year old's sleeping buddy. I cannot even begin to tell you how afraid I was that this bag was lost. Thankfully, we got the bag tonight and everyone was able to go to sleep happy.

Digital Cameras: I took 56 pictures today. This was the 1st day of our vacation. We have so much more family to see. I LOVE my digital camera.

Take time to be thankful. Take time to appreciate your family. That's what I am doing today.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Rock

A few months ago, I went to the coast. I took a walk on the beach and soaked up the sights and smells. I was amazed by the beauty of nature. I found myself fascinated by a bird on a rock. Waves crashed in around the bird. The bird stood still. The tide was coming in. As I watched, the splash of the waves got bigger. The bird was not startled by the force of the water. The bird continued to rest on the rock. Another bird flew by. The bird stayed.

I watched the bird for a long time. I was reminded of how easily my circumstances can rattle me. I was reminded of verses that refer to God as our Rock.

Psalm 19:14
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 78:35
They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer.

I cannot shake the image of the bird from my mind. It challenges me. When my daily grind gets on my nerves, when I am too busy, when people I know do things that baffle me, when I don't have a good attitude, I must remember my Rock.

I must remember to spend time -in my solitary place - talking to God and reading my Bible.

Then, when the world swirls around me, I can stand strong.

Monday, June 22, 2009

What my 4 Year-Old Thinks

For Father's Day this year, we made Daddy a book. It was complete with a letter from me, pictures from the kids, and interviews from each of the boys.

My 4 year old's answers to my "What I think about Daddy" Interview:

1. What is something daddy always says to you?

I love you.

2. What makes daddy happy?

Sometimes when I say I don’t love you and then I say, I really do love you.
He just tickles me because he likes it.

3. What makes daddy sad?

When I hit him in the eyeballs or in the tenders

4. How does your daddy make you laugh?

He tickles me.

5. What was your daddy like as a child?


6. How old is your daddy?


7. How tall is your daddy?

Tall as a house maybe

8. What is his favorite thing to watch on TV?

The news

9. What does your daddy do when you're not around?

Watch the news or something. I don’t know.

10. If your daddy becomes famous, what will it be for?

Carrying a big thing

11. What is your daddy really good at?

Carrying something very, very heavy

12. What is your daddy not very good at?

Carrying a GIANT thing

13. What does your daddy do for his job?

I don’t know. He works at Target.

14. What is your dad’s favorite food?


15. What makes you proud of your dad?

When he draws something for me.

16. If your daddy were a cartoon character, who would he be?

Tom (from Tom and Jerry)

17. What do you and your dad do together?

I ride with him in the front of the truck sometimes.

18. How are you and your dad the same?

We are both boys.

19. How are you and your dad different?

He has a beard and I don’t.

20. How do you know your daddy loves you?

Because he tells me.

21. What does your dad like most about your mom?

He likes watching movies with you.

22. Where is your dad’s favorite place to go?


Hop over and check out the cute pictures my kids drew for the book: Father’s Day 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lovin' My Dad

Daddy, I love you.
I love you for all that you do.
Not for all that you did.
I love you for what you gave me.
I love you even more for who you are to me now.
You gave me life, you gave me faith, and you gave me love.
You sent me out with open arms
So that when I looked back, I could run back to you if I needed to.
Daddy, I love you.
I love you for your constant presence in my life.
I love you for the way you encourage me as a parent.
I love you for your prayers – the requests and the prayers lifted up for me.
You make me smile, you make me proud, and you motivate me to be the best I can.
You give me a glimpse of what God’s love is like.
Daddy, I love you.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Garage Sale Lessons Learned

I had a garage sale today. The last one I had was about 9 years ago and that one was before I had kids.

Here's what I learned today:

Sitting on a chair in your garage for half of the day, sipping coffee and chatting with strangers can be quite relaxing when you are used to taking care of 4 kids.

Listening to the lady that is telling you every last detail about the car trouble she has had for the last 5 years might be exhausting but also might be worth it (she spent $50!)

Putting a few guy things (such as car accessories, tools or old army gear) up close to the road, really works. It draws the husbands in, and then the ladies walk around and buy stuff.

Neglecting to clean your kitchen the night before the sale is not a good idea. No matter how helpful your spouse is (and mine was really helpful with the kids and the sale) the mess will most likely still be there (and be doubled) after the sale.

Getting pizza for dinner after a garage sale is pure genius.

Complimenting a man on his truck is a great way to start a conversation. Have your husband talk to him about his truck, too, and he will hang around until his wife arrives from the garage sale down the road. This is a great way to make your husband happy, learn about the community, and ensure a sale.

Meeting a neighbor for the first time and then watching him try on a shirt that is quite a bit too small leaves quite an impression.

Letting your kids sell lemonade at a lemonade stand is really cute. Letting them have a video game Saturday is really smart.

Having a garage sale a few days before you leave on a big trip is perfect because when the sale is done you can move on to your next To-Do list instead of relaxing. Or... not so perfect... but at least I have some money for those last minute trip purchases.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thursday Thanks Tank #92

Here is what is filling up my Thanks Tank today:

Summer break: Our summer break started this week. I love having all of my kids home and not having to get up early.

Relaxed Weekends: We had such a nice weekend last weekend. My 4 year-old taught me how to play Indiana Jones on the Wii. I watched a movie with my hubby. I got a massage... ok, I can't remember much else after that.

Friends that will watch my kids at a moment's notice: One afternoon I got an appointment scheduled with the principal of my son's school for the next morning. I am thankful for friends that I feel comfortable to ask to watch my kids at a moment's notice.

Planning ahead: I am thankful for the plans I am making with the school for my son to start kindergarten. The meeting with the principal was very helpful. We worked on the timeline to get provisions in place (letter to parents, setting up peanut-free table, educating students, etc).

Baseball: Two of my boys are playing baseball (coach pitch and t-ball). We have had beautiful nights for the games. It is crazy making it there on time but once we get there, it is just really nice.

Garage Sales: My neighborhood is having a neighborhood garage sale this weekend. Boy, oh boy, I am thankful for that! I have been cleaning out all week and it is wonderful to be decluttering. I don't know if I will make very much money and I don't really care. I am really excited about getting rid of stuff I don't need or use.

Family and a Vacation: I am getting excited about our upcoming vacation to see our families. I am incredibly thankful for my family. I feel very blessed to be able to make this trip. (And, yep, I am so excited I am not even thinking about how challenging it might be to bring my crew across the country.)

Tadpoles and Newts: A few minutes ago my oldest brought in some tadpoles and newts. He is SO excited about catching these little guys. I am thankful... just because... it means I am a mom of an 8 year-old boy.

Look how proud he is of his catch:

That's a sampling of my thankful heart. I am off to finish dinner and get ready for a T-ball game.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Words-I-Wish-I-Didn't-Hear Wednesday

Just loud enough so that everyone watching the game could hear

Hey, Momma, look at my boobies!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I'm sitting

I received devastating news this morning.

A friend of mine lost her child. My heart broke for my friend when I got the news. I cried. My friend lives in another state. I can't go there. I can't give her a hug. I can't be with her. I can't even gather with friends to support her. I can't provide meals or childcare for her children or... anything.

My heart is broken for my friend. I prayed immediately after getting the news. My whole being was (and is) consumed with empathy and sorrow for my friend. I cannot stop hurting for them and praying.

I went church this morning. It was hard to worship. It was hard to think about the lesson being taught. It was hard to think about surrendering hopes and dreams to God. At one point, I had to walk out because my emotions were too much. It was difficult to think about God's promises and how he sustains us in hard times.

These words were shared this morning at church.

"We often think of prayer as what people do who can't do anything else. But this story (David in 2 Samuel 7) turns that kind of thinking on its head. Prayer isn't resignation and inactivity. It is attention given to God whose activity is far bigger and more powerful than our own. Prayer is sitting and listening and speaking to God so that we can get in on what it is that he's doing, that our action might join his action. If we don't stop and take time to pray, we just might find even our most well-intentioned actions going directly against God's actions."

The words gently and powerfully reminded me that prayer is where we join with God.

"Prayer is sitting and listening and speaking to God."

I am sitting with him talking to him about my friend Michele. She was 38 weeks pregnant when her baby boy Jesse died. Please say a prayer for her and her family right now. Instead of celebrating his arrival, they are saying good-bye.

Sit with God. That is what I am doing today.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thursday Thanks Tank #91

Every Thursday I take time to be thankful. Thursdays have become one of my favorite days for this reason.

I am thankful for:

1. Good Teachers: I am incredibly thankful for my son's 2nd grade teacher. He happened to have her last year, too (she had a 1st-2nd grade split class last year). She brought him from struggling to read to constantly having his head in a book. He loves to learn. She is a big part of the reason.

2. Dress up clothes: I love seeing my kids excited about dressing up.
After all, what could be better than hugging Elmo?

3. My son didn't get sick on the ride: My 8 year-old rode a ride this weekend that took him really high (about 100 feet in the air), really fast. He's a little squeamish about heights. I have no idea why we let him ride the ride. I am thankful (so thankful) that he didn't throw up.

That's him - the one circled. He looks thrilled, doesn't he?

4. Motivation: I have no idea what's been motivating me but I have been cleaning like a crazy woman all week. I am thankful for that motivation. It was extra nice when I saw a friend tonight and we decided to forgo the McDonald's play land trip tomorrow at lunch and let the kids play at my house. Why not? My house is clean (or mostly) - woo hoo!

5. Baseball fields located next to playgrounds: Two of my boys are playing baseball right now (one in t-ball and one in coach pitch). The teams don't practice on the same days (that's a blessing) or fields. Both fields are located at a park that also has a playground. This is a great arrangement for a family with 4 kids!

6. Lessons in unexpected places: A friend of mine asked for prayer and through her request, I learned a lesson. In other words, I was asked to pray and God taught me through the situation.

7. Thursdays: As lame as this is for #7, I am thankful for my focus on thankful thoughts on Thursdays. I spent the day cleaning and thinking thankful thoughts. Now, I am too tired to make a decent list... but I am thankful for Thursdays.

8 Things You Really Want to Know

Last night my kids went to the park. My oldest was practicing baseball and my other boys played on the playground. They came home excited about playing Star Wars Zombie Tag. I didn't get to see them playing the game, but I heard all about it. They were Star Wars Guys. When they got tagged, the person that was "It" (Luke Skywalker) wrapped them up with toilet paper. Obi-Wan Kenobi's Ghost could unwrap you if you were wrapped up in toilet paper. Sound like fun!? Wonder why my sisters and I didn't play this version of tag when we were little!

Now I am playing blog tag. Carmen over at The Ramblings of Carmom tagged me to reveal 8 things about myself...

8 things I look forward to...

1. my massage (finally using a GC I got for Christmas this Saturday!!!)
2. my next latte
3. my husband getting home from work every day (go ahead, say "awwwww")
4. knowing my son's Kindergarten teacher and working with her to make the classroom safe for him
5. taking my kids to an outdoor pool this summer
6. taking my kids to Disney (Land or World) one day
7. seeing my family this summer (still crossing my fingers that I will get to see everyone I want to see)
8. My Thursday Thanks Tank every week (I'll post this later today -probably tonight after the kids are in bed)

8 things I did yesterday

1. Laundry
2. Made banana bread
3. planted flowers
4. played Concentration with my 5 year-old
5. took allergy medicine
6. tickled my little girl
7. read the local newspaper
8. refereed fighting children

8 Things I wish I could do...

1. Sing beautifully
2. Stay on top of laundry
3. Remember dates easily
4. Draw well
5. Cure my son (and everyone else while I am at it) of his peanut allergy
6. Develop a genuine appreciation for country music
7. Get some grits from the Waysider restaurant in Tuscaloosa
8. Live in a house next to water

8 Shows I watch...
I don't know if this means I am boring or interesting (hopefully interesting) but I don't watch much TV at all.

This past year, I watched one show regularly.
1. 24
I also occasionally watched
2. Numb3rs

Bloggers I Tag...

I don't always participate in these things so I don't expect everyone I tag to do it. That said, I'd love for these bloggers to participate because I want to know 8 things about them (smile)!

1. Jill at Barnes Yard
2. Kim at Hazy Views
3. Samantha at Mommy’s Timeout
4. Sarah at Giampapa Family Giampapa Family
5. Jessica at The Great Northwest
6. Kristi at Word Up
7. Leigh Ann at Leigh_Ann’s Words
8. Ryan Leigh at Mom’s Magic

Carmen did not stop with one tag she added another. She wants to know what I was doing two years ago today.

All of my old pictures are on an external hard drive and I don't have time to get that. (As a matter of fact, this has taken much longer than I expected.) SO, I checked my family blog and on June 8 of last year, I posted a video of Elisabeth crawling. She was just starting to crawl. This time last year I was watching her with amazement as she was learning to crawl. Here's a link to the video: She’s On the Move Two years ago, my boys were playing T-ball for the first time. Here's a link to a slideshow of pictures (and you have time to check that out- you must be family!): T-ball

Let me know what you were doing this time last year (even if you weren't tagged).

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Two for Tuesday

Here are two posts you should read today.

1. Chosen

This is great post by my husband describing a conversation he had with my 8 year-old last night. I'm biased, of course, but I think it is hilarious.

2. Boy Outgrows His Peanut Allergy, At Least for a While

This is an article in the Washington Post about a boy that had a Peanut Allergy that is now supposed to eat peanuts regularly. (It's written by the 14 year-old.) I am really interested in what others think on this one. He outgrew his peanut allergy. Later, he ate a peanut butter cookie and his throat felt itchy. The blood test came back negative so he was told to eat peanuts. That's pretty scary to me.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Not Me! Monday: Festival Style

Welcome to my version of "Not Me! Monday." This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week. (At the time that I posted this, MckMama doesn't have a Not Me! Monday post up yet. Go ahead and check out her blog and pray for her little Stellan, too.)

This weekend my little town hosted the Strawberry Festival. This is a big deal in our town and this year was the 100th year of the Festival. We went to the Junior Parade on Friday (the kids get out of school early for this), the Grand Parade on Saturday, and the carnival on Sunday.

Here are some things that I did not do during the Festival. If I did these things, I would have taken pictures and I obviously did not do that- not me.

I did not wait until 45 minutes before the Junior Parade to decide if I was going to participate (walking in it with my MOPS group). It had been raining off and on during day and my little girl had shots that morning. I did not make my daughter miss her nap on the same day she had shots so we could walk in the parade. That would be ridiculous. Not me- I was not breathing a huge sigh of relief that she did so well in the parade!

I did not overcompensate for my son’s peanut allergy by bringing a ton of safe candy to the Grand Parade. The people in the parade throw candy to the kids watching. Every time my son didn’t get candy, I didn’t give him some from our stash. I am not responsible for their sugar high - not me!

I did not think that the quilt car was really cool. I mean, I was not stunned when a friend made fun of it on Facebook. I didn’t take a picture of it because I liked it. Nope, it wasn’t for me - I just want to show it to my grandmother. I mean, look at the picture! That took a lot of work. I don't love it- not at all, not me!

I did not jump up and down and scream when I saw my son on his cub scout float in the Grand Parade. I also didn't draw an arrow in this picture just so you can see how cute he was in the parade- nope, not me, I would never show off my kids (or act like a crazy momma!).

I did not have to restrain myself when my son went on “big kid” rides. I did not almost loose it when my 8 year-old looked like was going to loose his lunch on this ride.

Then, after worrying like crazy on that 1st big ride, I did not wait, with camera ready, for my son to come out of the Gravitron, certain that he would throw up. I was not totally surprised when he loved it and rode it 5 times in a row. I am not still shocked it took 5 rides before he needed a break - not me.

I did not catch my husband sneaking lots of sips of the kids’ slushies.

I did not make each of my boys allow me to pour some slushie into my 18 month old’s sippy cup. That wouldn’t be a healthy drink for her. I didn’t- I most certainly wouldn't- not me!

I did not take my daughter out of the stroller every chance I got, even though someone (my helpful husband) kept putting her back in whenever possible. Nope, I didn't notice that at all- not me.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Strawberry Festival Forever

This weekend our town is hosting the 100th Strawberry Festival. Yesterday my kids and I went to the Strawberry Junior Parade. We were in it with my MOPS group. It was a fun parade - not too long for the little ones (and the Momma pulling the wagon!).

Here are my two youngest before the parade started.

Here is a picture of me with my kids before the parade.

Did you notice my oldest son? He didn't want to go to the "Kid Parade." He was trying to pout. He ended up have a great time (and I even got him to admit it later). He just screams cowboy attitude in the picture, doesn't he?

I posted more pictures here: Strawberry Festival: Junior Parade
My oldest son is going to be in the Grand Parade today with his Cub Scout group. He has been looking forward to that parade all week.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Thursday Thanks Tank #90

It's still Thursday. I'm writing this about 11 p.m. on Thursday night. I thought about saying "I am thankful the day is done" and leaving it at that but I can't. Here's a short and sweet Thankful list.

I am thankful for:

1. Friends that bring me lattes
2. Not getting stressed taking care of 5 boys and 1 girl (3 of the boys weren't mine)
3. The last day of swim lessons
4. My phone playing "Sweet Home Alabama" every time someone calls (love that)
5. Crockpot dinner
6. My husband insisting that I get out of the house
7. A really quiet used book store
8. Singing LOUDLY along with the music in my car and loving being alone (oh, no, it was not something you would have enjoyed hearing)
9. Sweet hugs from my children
10. Plans for a fun (but busy) weekend

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Works-For-Me Wednesday: Summer Soap

Today's Works-For-Me Wednesday over at We are THAT Family is the "Mom I'm Bored" Summer Edition. You really should head over there and check out all of the fantastic ideas to keep your kids from getting bored this summer.

When my kids are bored, I tell them to get creative. I also I tend to send them outside to play. Creativity and outside play often leads to 1 thing - getting hurt. I recently discovered the perfect solution for cleaning cuts and scrapes.

Memorial Day weekend my son landed in a blackberry bush (at least that's what my husband said it was). He had a pretty nice cut on his hand. We were out with friends, it was dusk, and we were getting ready to roast marshmallows over a bonfire. We threw some ointment on the cut and slapped a band-aid on it. My son was almost inconsolable. He hardly ate his s'more (only because I threatened to eat it!). He only stopped fretting about it when he fell asleep exhausted from the fun day.

The next morning I had to clean that cut. He wanted nothing to do with it. He tried to hide. He fussed and whined. He did not want me to even touch his hand, much less remove the band-aid.

Then, I remembered the foam soap I had bought to let the kids play with in the bath.

I brought my son to the bathroom for a "surprise" and then I showed him the foam soap. It took a few minutes for him to warm up to the idea and let go off his fear of anything touching his cut. But, after that, he had a blast playing with the soap. His cut was clean and I was the coolest mom ever.

When I originally bought the Foam soap (at Wal-mart) months and months ago, I let the kids use it in the bath. It was pretty frivolous and they went through it really quick. I didn't envision buying more. That one bottle I had left was worth every penny. I will buy more for this summer - for the season of cuts and scrapes.

Here's my little trooper enjoying the suds.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Catch and Release

Whether it is complaints from our kids, criticism from someone we love, or our own self-defeating thoughts, we are bombarded with negativity everyday.

Whoa, I know what you are thinking, I don't know if I want to read this post. Read on. I have been giving this considerable thought and I hope my thoughts make you think.

A few weeks ago, I spent some time talking to some friends about burdens. We all felt weighed down by stress or worry. For each of us, there was some kind of conflict in our lives -either with someone else or internally. We were all struggling. Someone said something to this affect: "I just don't know how to let go."

We cannot control all of the factors that push negativity our way. Negativity can arrive in the form of complaints, criticism, worry, or self-abasement. We can control what we do with our thoughts.

I don't think controlling our thought process is easy. I do think being proactive in this area will relieve a lot of stress. How often when you think of stress in your life, do you relate it to your own attitude and thinking? We underestimate the harm we do to ourselves with our own thinking.

After all, when I am most content - when I have the most peace of mind- it isn't because of my external situations. My thoughts and attitude are the most important factors to determine my level of contentment.

I believe that I should recognize a negative thought (the catch) and then let it go (the release).

That sounds great - but how do I do that?

I am being challenged by this. I am training my mind. I want to take every thought captive. I am consciously cultivating an awareness of my thoughts. I am convinced that holding on to a negative thought cannot help me in any way.

I don't pretend that I am not thinking negatively. I simply recognize it and determine to let go of it.

Sometimes, I recognize a negative thought and I simply stop myself from thinking that way. Other times, I recognize negativity and I pray over those thoughts. I pray for my concern, the situation, or the person involved. Prayer is an effective way for me to release my negative thoughts.

There are times when I struggle. I know I mentioned that I was "struggling" after David's allergic reaction. I recognized that holding on to negativity (or my anger) could not help me at all but I kept struggling. So, I asked a few friends to pray for me. I struggled and then found a release in relying on friendship and prayer.

There are few things in my life that I can control. With practice, I am gaining control over my thoughts. I am becoming more aware of my thoughts and, as I result, I am more in tune with my emotions. In becoming more aware of negativity, I am turning more over in prayer. The things I cannot control, I leave in God's hands.