Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mom of the Month: December

Mom of the Month: December
Yesenia Jamison

Who is in your family? 
My husband is Vincent Jamison and he is an Estate Planning attorney here in Modesto. We have been married 8 1/2 years and have two beautiful daughters Gisselle Rihanna, 4, and Stella Rose, 2.

What is your favorite childhood holiday memory?
I am full Mexican and was raised in a Catholic home. Our tradition was to stay up until past midnight and welcome Christmas Day as a family. We were able to open our gifts at midnight, which my parents did only things we needed as gifts, so yes underwear and socks were a signature gift, except we did get a bike one year. We then hurried off to mass at 12:30am. I loved this, as Christmas Day was not about the gifts but about Jesus' birth.

How will you be spending your Christmas holiday this year?
For the first time since my mom was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, she was feeling well enough to travel to Mexico to see family, so our Christmas will be spent at our new place on Christmas Eve with my brother and his family, as we stay up until midnight to welcome Christmas Day. On the actual Christmas Day we will be making memories with our little ladies in the morning and then heading up the road to my in-law's house to celebrate with my husband's side of the family.

What is your favorite "me" time activity?
My favorite "me" time is going to Starbucks or lunch by myself...I can check my Facebook, Pinterest, etc. without a little one asking me to play a game on my phone, feed them, or have to stop a melt down. It is amazing how much food I can eat when I can actually sit down and do it! I am also a big thrift store person, so I try to sneak that in every time I get my alone time.

What bit of advice or encouragement can you offer the other Mommies in our group?
I am so new at this mom thing that I am not sure if I can give sound advice. I can tell you what has worked for me...

I make sure I make my kids belly laugh every day, there is something about them laughing that energizes me and them as well.

I have seen in my personal life how things can change dramatically from one day to another, so I try to live today as best as I can, as tomorrow is not promised.

Lastly, I try to be as real with my children as possible. My husband and I don't try to show our kids a perfect marriage because one does not exist, we are honest about our mistakes and when needed I go and apologize to my kids when I loose my temper. I love their daddy in front of them, as well as show them at times sin can enter our home and turmoil will arise. It is important to me that my kids see our "perfect" mess, that way they will know as adults how to deal with the good times and bad times.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pit Stops: Finding our Rest

Pit Stops: not to be confused with "pit stains" or "potty stops" -- more familiar terms perhaps to a speeding mommy.

Pastor Rick Countryman spoke at this weeks MOPS meeting, and though I know he talked about a few great topics, what I focused on was this verse he shared, Psalm 127:2 (LB)

"It is senseless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, fearing you will starve to death; for God wants His loved ones to get their proper rest."

Resting is good. Resting is not something to be ashamed of or something to apologize for. God wants us to rest. He wants us to be healthy and happy, and let's face it ladies, without a "mommy time-out" we often find ourselves very UN-happy and UN-healthy.

As I write this, I feel like this busy week of driving kids back and forth from school, preschool and multiple activities has all caught up with me, and I'm fighting a sore throat and a cough. My typical "rest" time has been cut short, and naps are so foreign to me at this point, I'm not even sure how to do that sleeping in the day thing that other people talk about.

Our time at MOPS was just what I needed, and I felt giddy being with friends and eating yummy food, and seeing everyone with their "ugly" get-ups was just good Christmas-y fun, wasn't it?

It almost made me forget about the family pressures, gift-buying, and baking that I "need" to get done, as well as the parental responsibility of making Christmas magical and special for my little ones.

That last task is the most weighty it seems to me. But how do I make Christmas sweet and special for my kids, when I'm going so fast and so hard that I don't have time for it?

I think resting during this season often means taking a break from the "should" and "have to" -- and instead doing the "want" and "it would be fun to."

When my 6 year old asks for a day off of school, or my 5 year old asks to watch Charlie Brown's Christmas for the 17th time, or my 3 year old wants to make cookies with me, I often say:

"We can't."

"Sorry, we don't have time."

"Maybe later."

But it's time to see Christmas like I'm a kid again. I'd like to do fun things because I want to, with my kids, enjoying them and their oooh-ing and awe-ing, and how they see Christmas decorations as magical, and appreciating their love for the Christmas tree, and the smells and the sounds.

I'm tired of being tired. So today is a day off. Today (after school) we watch Christmas movies and maybe bake cookies if we feel like it. But definitely mommy will be curled up on the couch with a blanket and a cup of tea.

The vacuuming and the dusting and the laundry can wait. Today we rest, and we enjoy, and we cuddle.

It won't always be like this. And life isn't a guarantee. So be in the moment this season. And, of course, take a nap if you can.

Monday, December 2, 2013

It Works For Me - Megan Barr's Table - November

It Works For Me

Megan - Uses magnetic picture calendar to avoid the continuous question "What are we doing today/tomorrow mom?" Here is the link that Megan provided on our MOPS Facebook page for a great example.
Heather - uses Lysol spray to take care of any pests that are keeping her girls awake or scaring them...including spiders or monsters that may be under the bed or in the closet.
Melissa - Uses plastic placemats that can be trimmed to customize size to line shelves in her fridge
Jodie - Doesn't iron, but uses Downy wrinkle releaser to take the place of ironing.
Sophia - Created a scavenger hunt game for her kids to play with objects that are located in the house to give her a few minutes of free time. Puts pictures of items in the house on cards & then places the cards under those certain objects in the house for the kids to follow the trail & find the next item. Give them a small prize at the end of the hunt.
Connie - In order to keep feet nice & moisturized and not dry & scratchy, put lotion on your feet at night, wrap a plastic bag around each foot & then pull on socks over bags. Do this one night a week for amazingly soft feet.

Thank you girls for all of your great tips!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Life is What Happens When We're Busy Making Other Plans

It's been a looooong three weeks since our last meeting, and it was so nice to spend time together!  As much as I was looking forward to hanging out, I knew the topic would be heavy, and could bring up some painful personal experiences for many of us (myself included).

If you've read the most recent post on my personal blog, you learned from Kathi Lipp that it's not enough to just share your story with someone else.  You must take it one step further and share what God has done with that story because that is where ministry happens.  She noted that "the thing that nearly killed you can be used to save someone else's life."

That's exactly the kind of ministry Bridgette Eilers shared with us.

While most cannot directly relate to her personal cancer diagnosis, I'd be shocked if there was a single woman in the Venue on Tuesday who hasn't been touched in some way by infertility, miscarriage, cancer or some other form of loss or chronic illness.  However, I'm confident that we can all relate to thinking we have our lives under control.  We've all been lulled into believing that our plans will come to fruition exactly as we imagined without a single bump in the road, even if it has nothing to do with anything major.

BUT... God says, "I know what I'm doing - I have it all planned out.  Plans to take care of you, not to abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for." (Jeremiah 20:11, The Message)

We've all run into something we couldn't fix - something we had no control over.  That's not the important part.  What really matters is how we respond to our trials.  Do we continue to battle with God over control, only to end up frustrated and exhausted?  Or do we offer our lives to Him, submitting to His will, even if it doesn't fall in line with what we thought our lives would look like?  Do we desperately search for peace in the world only to fall short and remain desperate?  Or do we fall into the loving arms of the only one who can deliver true peace?

"I am leaving you with a gift - peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don't be troubled or afraid."  (John 14:27)  Also, 2nd Corinthians 1:3-4 reminds us that God is the source of our comfort, and The Message version adds "He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us."

So I guess MOPs is on to something this year... Share your story.  Be authentic.  And show how God has used your situation to minister to someone else.

After my first (very public) miscarriage, I was shocked at the number of women who came to me and admitted - with darting glances and hushed voices - that they'd lost babies as well.  My first thought was, "Why didn't anybody tell me this could happen?  Why is it such a big shameful secret?"  Our silence simply perpetuates the toxic lie that starry-eyed brides are led to believe - that pregnancy is plannable (is that a word?) and easy and glamorous.  And for some, it is.  But for those who have struggled or lost or dealt with a tough diagnosis, I believe we have a responsibility to be honest about our struggles - if for no other reason than to bring glory to the One who brought us through the junk, offering comfort and peace.

This doesn't mean that our meager words will fix or prevent someone else's problems.  But we can provide some hope.  We can use our personal experiences to assure our fellow sufferers that they won't be left to muddle through the hard stuff alone.

Bridgette used the "thing that nearly killed her" to provide comfort in someone else's life by developing a non-profit organization called The Chemo Crew.  This group offers help and hope to cancer patients and their families by assembling and distributing Chemo Crew Kits filled with books and informational resources as well as comfort items like hard candy (to help with metal mouth) and hot/cold rice packs (to soothe sore spots) and water bottles.  Visit their website to find out how you can donate items for these kits, or volunteer in another capacity.

You don't have to start a full-fledged organization to offer support to someone.  You can bring them a meal, or meet for coffee and let them cry on your shoulder, or rake their leaves, or send them an encouraging card in the mail, or pray with them.

You can share your story... and use it to demonstrate God's love.

Whether we're dealing with cancer or the terrible two's, the truth is that we're not alone.  Turn your sob-story into a testimony, and be a part of God's plan for someone else's life by showing them that they're not alone either.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mom of the Month: November

Mom of the Month: November
Brittney Burrow

Who is in your family?
My husband is Josh and we have two beautiful boys together. Benjamin just turned 3 and Andrew is 6 months old.

What is your favorite childhood memory?
My favorite childhood memory is of making mud pies outside! My mom would give me her old pie tins and I would make mud out of water and dirt and fill them up. Then I would decorate them with rocks and flowers. My mom was a good sport because she allowed me to put them in our refrigerator when I was done!

If you had  a free vacation anywhere, where would you go?
If I had a free vacation I would love to go to Italy! I would love to see all of the iconic landmarks and enjoy the food with a glass of wine.

What is your favorite "waste of time" or Pinterest find?
My favorite "waste of time" is reading. Thank God for the Kindle app on my phone! My favorite Pinterest finds are the free printables. They are a great way to add character to your home decor or for holidays! I have a few in our playroom too.

What bit of advice or encouragement can you share with the other moms in our group?
It feels odd for me to offer advice to other moms because I feel like I'm the one who needs advice and encouragement! What I have been working on lately is to enjoy the moment because it will pass in the blink of an eye. I am realizing my kids are growing so fast and even though some of our moments feel stressful and out of control, I know that years down the road I will look back and miss those moments. I do not want to look back  with regret and remember feeling frustrated and stressed. I want to smile and remember laughing and enjoying my boys.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It Works For Me - Sarah Crowell's Table - October

It Works For Me - Sarah Crowell's Table

Sarah C. - Give your child a few sprinkles (let them pick which kind) to make getting allergy shots, medicine or potty training easier.

Sue - Interrupt Rule: teach children not to interrupt by having them put their hand on your arm or leg to get your attention when you are mid-conversation or on the phone, acknowledge them by putting your hand over theirs and then when you have a break ask what they would like to ask you or tell you.

Jill - In order to get your children moving in the morning when they don't want to wake up, tell them they need to get up and use the bathroom and then they can lay down for another 10 minutes when they are done...usually by the time they are done in the bathroom they are awake enough to not want to lay down again.

Christina - When your kids ask for a soda, mix together sparkling water and a little bit of juice.

Emily - To avoid forgetting to bring diapers and pajamas into bathroom for after bath time, store a few sets of pj's and some diapers right in the bathroom.

Amy - "Happiest Baby On The Block" is a great book when you are raising young children, suggests using white noise to help your child sleep - Make a CD with hair dryer noise.

Yesenia - Teach your child to say "No Thank You" when they don't want to do something or play with someone, it sounds much more polite. Use a "No Thank You" spoon at the dinner table: if your child doesn't want to eat something that you are serving they may say "No Thank You" to that specific dish and then they still get a teaspoon size serving...mommy and child both win!

Grace - If you bring your husband lunch now and then or even make him lunch to take with, put love notes or encouragement notes in with their lunch to brighten their day. When your kids are having a rough day with their behavior, give them hugs and kisses anyway and tell them you love will make them want to do better.

Della - To help prevent diaper rash, keep a blow dryer next to changing table and shoot a blast of cold air on their bottom before you put the new diaper on to get rid of the moisture and avoid accidents while you let them run around the house to try and air out their bottoms with no diaper on.

Thank you ladies for all of your great tips!

Controlling Your Emotions (this is not a joke)

Oh, the irony. 

Sometimes I think God is really funny; or clever. Probably both. Definitely both clever and funny, and also he must love me very much to give me a topic called "Controlling Your Emotions" exactly one day after probably one of my worst mommy-fails ever.

Let's start with this week's meeting. So, I really look forward to MOPS, initially because I never buy donuts, and there are usually donuts there. And now that I'm pregnant, it's become very important for me to be near the front of the breakfast line, in order that I get first pick of the donuts.

I would have taken a picture of my plate full of wonderful yummy goodness, but I ate very quickly. So here's a picture of my empty plate. You'll notice I did choose a little bunch of grapes; for the antioxidants.

So that morning we watched a MOPS video, with Lisa TerKeurst as the speaker. The topic was on controlling our emotions. I know we already covered that, but I wanted to refresh your memory after the donut discussion.

Lisa talked about 4 different ways we tend to (mis)handle our emotions, or react, to conflicts that may arise.

These reactions are Exploders Who Blame Others, Exploders Who Blame Themselves, Stuffers Who Build Barriers, and Stuffers Who Collect Retaliation Rocks (I just love the name of that one, it's cool).

So let's go back to my Monday morning of this week. And let me also tell you, that with my kids, I tend to be an "Exploder Who Blames Others." They bring this out in me, I tell you.

Anyway, we'd just had a week off of our normally scheduled programming, aka "fall break," and no one wanted to be getting up at 6:30 to eat breakfast and get dressed for school. I was cranky, my daughters were moving so slow... so, sooo slow... and my lack of sleep contributed to my very yelly attitude that morning. Pretty much everything set me off. They weren't listening to me: "Why is NO ONE LISTENING TO MEE!!!" They didn't eat their breakfast fast enough: "Eat your FRICKING BREAKFAST!!!" And at the end of all this, they were sitting on the floor, trying to find which shoes go on which feet, all while bickering about something I don't even remember, and I yelled, "Everyone SHUT UP!!!"

Now, we don't say shut up. I teach my kids, saying shut up is rude, and we don't tell each other to shut up. But at this moment, it was my emotional reaction.

I liked how Lisa explained that these out of control emotional reactions tend to pop up when something/someone either "exposes" us, or "opposes" us. Upon first glance, I was feeling opposed. I needed the morning to go as planned, as I had planned it, so we could get out of the house at the planned time.

But, when I thought about my temper tantrum later on, and remembered how I'd ended my tantrum in a heap of tears -- upset that I couldn't find any of my older daughter's water bottles because she'd lost them all at school -- I realized I also felt very exposed that morning. 

Do you often catch yourself yelling or criticizing your kids, and a little part of you realizes you're actually yelling at yourself? It's not them that's failed you, you feel as if you've failed yourself? You haven't met your own expectations?

Monday morning, as I apologized to my 6 year old before dropping her off at school, I recognized that I was angry at myself that morning. "I should have's" had been running through my head all morning. I should have found another water bottle for my daughter to use, I knew they were missing; it was a mommy-fail on my part. But instead of accepting that and moving forward, I exploded in rage and blamed my daughter for her carelessness. She's 6. She loses stuff. Duh.

I also was angry at myself because my kids were still acting "coughy" after having been sick over vacation, and I was feeling like a failure. "I should have" made them go to bed earlier, given them cough syrup the night before, put a humidifier in their room... I could keep going. But the fact is, kids get sick, and they have residual coughs, and instead of accepting that, I got angry. And it all came out towards them.

So, coming back to Lisa's talk, she has some suggestion for people like me, us "Exploders." 

She asks us to bring PAUSE. To think: am I about to attack or address the issue? I guess apparently there's a moment between our emotions and our reaction. I have a hard time finding that moment, but I'm going to try. Anyway, it's in that very brief moment, that we must think. We must pause. It's healthy to address the issue; it's unhealthy to attack the people we love.

I'm very blessed that when I said, "Bella, I'm so sorry mommy was so cranky to you this morning." She, without any hesitation, said, "It's okay, Mommy. I forgive you!" (And I cried behind my sunglasses because how humbling is THAT?)

I really don't want to put her in that place very often. When I mess up, I've made it a point to apologize to my kids; but I hate having to do it. Because that means I did something awful. And they don't deserve that. And I want them to be able to see how I react to life, and have it be a good example. I don't want this short time to go by and have it all be a lesson in "What not to do's."

So here's to learning how to control the Beast. We are tired, emotional, hormonal, guilt-ridden mommies; but through Christ who strengthens us, we can do this. 

Let's do this thing! 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Finding Balance - Photographically Speaking

Picture this... 
You and your little one are hanging out at home, and she does something particularly adorable.  You run away briefly and return with your fancy camera, trying everything in your power to get her to be adorable again so you can capture the moment and savor it over and over again.  The problem is, your tiny tot is no longer in the mood to perform, and now everyone's frustrated.

Or perhaps you've forgotten the aforementioned camera on a once-in-a-lifetime trip and now you'll never forgive yourself for not being able to zoom in just so to create the clearest, most detailed picture of your children the world has ever seen.

Jerad Hill, our speaker at today's meeting, encouraged us to forget about perfection (because there are apps for that!), and stop lugging our giant camera bags around because "The best camera is the one that's with you."
With the advent of social networking, our culture is bent on preserving every detail of our lives in photographs.  But how much are we really able to experience - in living color - if we're focused on viewing our lives through the camera lens?  And what are we teaching our children?    

I loved hearing Jerad's thoughts because he has the experience of a professional photographer, but also the perspective of a loving father who wants to participate in his young boys' lives.  He challenged us to find a balance between capturing memories and taking part in them.  

Save the editing for when the kids are in bed.  The world can wait to see your son's newest trophy till morning, but your son wants to see the pride on your face - not the camera that's covering it up.  Your daughter wants to see that her dances delight you, even when the camera is safely stowed in your purse.

And let me encourage you to also remember to include yourself in some of these photos.  As moms, we tend to do most of the photography, and our children's scrapbooks are filled with photos of everyone but us.  

By using your smart phone and a few easy-to-use apps, it's possible to effectively capture snippets of your family's adventures, and then tuck it away so that you can really engage in what's going on.  Jerad introduced us to Camera Genius, which is a photo-taking app, and several photo editors including SnapSeed, Diptic PDQ, Photo Editor by Aviary, Afterlight, and Visco Cam.  And he suggested using as an easy way to turn your photos into a slideshow.

If you're interested in learning more from Jerad, make sure you follow him on Facebook ( and Twitter (@jeradhill) and visit his website (  Also, if you do like to use a "giant" camera, learn how to get more out of it by taking his online course called Ditch Auto ( for FREE and stay tuned for a smart phone version as well.    

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mom of the Month

Mom of the Month: OCTOBER

Melissa Basi

Who is in your family?
Pinder (husband), Me, Mia (10), Kiley (8.5), Jordan (23 months), Bex (12 weeks). We are a blended family, his (Mia), Mine (Kiley), Ours (Bex and Jordan).

What is your favorite childhood memory:
My favorite memories from childhood are from Christmas. This was always a very special time for me growing up with my family and my siblings.

If you had a free vacation anywhere, where would you go?
I would love to visit some place in Europe. I hope one day I can travel to many different countries.

What is your favorite "waste of time?"
I waste a lot of time on Facebook! I do a lot of online shopping too because I don't get out of the house a lot these days.

What bit of advice or encouragement can you share with other moms in our group?
Oh my goodness... I feel like I'm the one that needs advice and encouragement right now! Keep calm and carry on. If anyone needs help getting their baby to sleep through the night (8-12 hours) I'm your girl. I've been successful with all of my babies by 6 weeks and have helped my sister and many of my friends achieve this goal. It's my only claim to fame! lol!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

It Works For Me... Michelle Manuel's table - September

"It Works For Me"

Teresa A. - Use a black sharpie to erase your grey hair

Andrea W. - Cookbook to make veggie purees to mix in with your meals so that your family members who don't like veggies will still be eating them without even knowing it! **I will see if I can get the titles of the books from her and update the blog with them later :) The books are Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld and The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine. Andrea also let me know that they are both available at the Stanislaus Co. Library.

Katie P. - Makes her own coffee creamer to cut down on cost. Mix together one can of sweetened condensed milk and one can full of your regular milk in a shaker, add 2 Tbsp. of flavoring of your choice (vanilla or almond suggested) mix together & keep in refrigerator.

Renee R. - To keep her 22 month old daughter busy in her crib after nap time, she sneaks books into her crib while she is sleeping so her daughter can play with them when she wakes up.

Michelle M. - Use shaving cream to keep your kids entertained. You can squirt some on the bathtub wall to keep them busy or even on toys outside and they can use to clean...makes them smell good too!

Courtney V. - To help kids stay on track and accomplish task of cleaning up toys, use a song they are familiar with and tell them their toys need to be picked up by the end of the song.

Laura B. - Buys frozen chicken at the grocery store, throws in crock-pot on low when she gets home and cooks for approximately 8 hours. Remove from crock-pot and shred, then put into 2 cup portions and store in freezer to have ready for meals during the week.

Cyndi D. - Re-use foaming hand soap dispenser and refill with approx 1" or 1 1/2" of dish soap and then gently fill with warm water and slowly mix together. Keeps cost down and easier for kids to wash their hands.

Lacee K. - Fool proof recipe to make Salmon that she found on Pinterest. Drizzle salmon filet with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, put into a cold oven, then turn on the heat to 400 degrees. Twenty-five minutes later, the salmon is absolutely perfect. Tender, moist, flaky! A no-fail method.

There you go ladies! 

Life is Messy

Emotions were right at the surface yesterday morning as I walked  into the MOPS meeting. Chaos from that morning seemed to follow me in the door and as I said hello to friends I attempted to shake off my Tuesday morning blahs. 

I felt especially hormonal as I tried to keep from a complete emotional meltdown during the Beautiful Mess video that our table leaders so graciously put together.  

I'm the mom that walks into a room where my kids are playing and immediately comments on the mess they are making. Comment is a slight understatement. I get a little irrational about it. Do I see them having a good time? Using their imaginations? Getting along for once? Nope. I immediately see the damage. I see toys, clutter, and bedding -- in all the wrong order. I love order, and I hate disorder. Can you tell? 

Anyway, so the video is playing, and I get it. Somehow in the middle of seeing Amy Powell without her makeup, and a nice view of someone's incredibly messy living room, I got it. I saw it, I should say.

I saw beauty. 

It was real. That seemingly nonsensical "theme" for this year's MOPS was not the lie that this order-lover secretly deemed it. And I cried a little. I wanted to cry a lot but then I might have been labeled the "cryer" at my new table and I didn't need that reputation following me around all year...

And then, as if my mind had not been challenged enough, our speaker was introduced and began to say stuff that I'm sure was because she'd been talking to my husband.

(Right?? Did anyone else feel this way?)

She asked: "What is God teaching you about you, when you can't control everything you wish you could control?"

Well, let's see, Susan. God is teaching me that I lack quite a bit of patience, I have anger issues apparently, and I seem to need my life to look orderly, in order to feel that it is orderly. When in reality, it is very disorderly. 

And then that quiet voice spoke truth to me through Susan's words and my own mind's ramblings; God is there in the mess. He loves the disorder in my life, not because it's chaos, because He does not see it as such. He sees my kids playing, and enjoying the toys and home He's blessed them with, and He smiles.

The chaos that I so often see happening around me is, in fact, not chaos at all. But a beautiful orchestration of God's love for me. My children. My blessings. My joy.

And today I choose to take that truth, and hold it tight. This may have been a lesson that you all have learned a long time ago, but this mother of three is having an epiphany. My sense of control is an illusion. And the "control" and "order" that I so desperately want, is not at all what God has for me. Or what I should seek for myself.

He has something so much better. He has given me life. And life, my dear, is very messy. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Welcome to our New Home!

This is a big year for MOPS @ Big Valley!  We are growing - more tables, more moms, more kids - all able to learn and grow, and be a part of this awesome MOPS community!  We will have inspiring & educational speakers, great topics to encourage and grow us -- and of course, lots of FUN!  

Your new leadership team has been at work already this summer - praying for you, getting prepared for a new year of MOPS.  If you click on the Leadership tab above, you can meet your new leaders!

When we start meeting on September 10th, we are moving into a new venue -- The Venue, actually!  This building is on the Tully side of the main church building, and is easy to find with "THE VENUE" on the outside.  Our little MOPPETS will still be in the main building, in their nursery and Ohana Island rooms.  We are excited to welcome you to our new home! 

There are still some fun summer playdates & a great girls night at the end of the month!  Come out and join the fun - and we will see you ALL on September 10th in The Venue! :)

Please let me know if you have any questions - I'm excited to meet you!!
~Heather Blass

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Beautiful Mess

Oh boy.   I had been pondering a way to introduce this years theme, and write a blog post for you all....and then tonight happened :)

My kitchen counters/workspace (for lack of an office) looked like this.....

I couldn't handle it anymore, so I started plucking away, washing dishes, organizing my clutter - really it could have taken me all day.  I realized time was getting away from me and dinner was coming, so I took out the pizza dough to rise, and pre-heat the oven.  Continuing to clean up my mess, Kaelyn, my three year old yells from the bathroom....uh oh.  The clogged toilet had been flushed some time ago and now there was water evvvveryyyywhere.  Fun.  The big girls hunted down towels for me (hard to find, cuz most are in the middle of being washed) and we managed to mop it up, mostly...until...

...I heard "Mom, Smoke!!!"  The oven was pre-heating and something apparently dropped on the bottom the last time I used it, so now our kitchen was not only filled with clutter, but smoke as well.  My kids are super freaked out by the smoke detector, so we worked quickly to avoid the crazy loud beeping.

*picture of oven, no smoke....note, oven also needs cleaning* :)

Towels left on the floor (they're actually stilllll on the floor), I went to work on the pizza, attempting to get dinner on the table before bedtime  (didn't succeed :) )  Rolling out the dough, as I have many times before, my end result looked like this....

Fabulous.  An odd, long pizza with a giant hole in the middle.  My patience was done.  Nothing was working.  I was exhausted, kids are starving....just too much for a tired mom to handle within a few moments after a long day.  I almost just took the kids to McDonald's, except we've already been there today.

So, I worked on the dough, trying to shape it into an edible pizza, trying to patch the hole.  Ehh, it would do.  

Then, I started to spread the sauce.  And what I saw, truly brought tears to my eyes.

A heart!!  Oh my!  ---Literally, a beautiful thing came from my mess of a pizza....and boy did I need to see something beautiful.  I was tired, kids fighting in the background, still towels to mop up in the bathroom and don't forget those counters, but the mess of a pizza turned into a heart!  Thank you Lord for giving me something beautiful amongst my crazy.  How could he turn something so frustrating into something so beautiful? 

(Actually, my pizza ended up looking like this since my oldest doesn't like cheese on it :) )

Still beautiful :)

Us moms, we are in the thick of it.  Laundry, diapers, potty training, bottles, post-baby bodies, dirty ovens, messy carpets, checkbooks that won't balance, responsibilities, goes on and on....and it's all messy.  But you know what?  Out of the mess is something beautiful!  Motherhood really is beautiful - loving these children with a love we never knew we had.  Watching milestones come to pass.  When they finally sleep through the night, or say "thank you" without being prompted...or that first "I love you, mommy."  Ohhh be still my heart.  These things come out of our mess and they are beautiful.  And furthermore, life is hard - we have pasts, full of hills and valleys....and out of our bruises is God's redemption!!  I am forgiven even though I lose patience with my children, even though....lots of things!  I am loved, and forgiven for all of it.  

This year's theme verse is Ephesians 2:10  -- "For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."

Amidst it all, God has planned GOOD things for me....and I am His masterpiece! - and you are too! :)  

This is going to be a truly amazing year at MOPS @ BVG .... I know this because you are all a part of it!  And great things are happening!  And with a theme like this, that we all can relate to, understand and get behind (we all have messes, yes? .... right?? :) ) I know we are sure to grow on a great journey together this year.  I look forward to growing as a woman and as a mother while in community with you.  

On your end-of-year evals from May, your #1 Need was "Community" -- I totally get it!  I am with you!  Mothering is SO much better when we are doing it with others -- with growing friendships and others who help us know we aren't alone.  SO many of you talked about loving MOPS because "I know I'm not alone."  We need to know that our feelings, and our kids' stories aren't wacky - that someone else understands.  I'm so glad you are finding that at MOPS, and I know we will find that again this next year too.  One of you asked "Who can come to MOPS?" and if they could invite anyone - YES!!!!  Absolutely!  MOPS is for EVERY mother of preschoolers, no matter her circumstance, life, beliefs - MOPS reaches every mom because we all need to know we aren't alone!  

We are so blessed to be able to open up registration again for this fall.  So, if you come across a mom at the park, or at Target, and you love MOPS - tell her about it!  We'd love to have her!  You can email to get registered. 

I hope my messy story brought you some relief, to know that you aren't the only one with a messy oven, an overflowing toilet, bickering children, and dinner that just didn't come out quite right.  We are in this together, mamas!  I love you all! :)


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

End of Year MOPS Meeting

We had lots of fun at our meeting today, we plunged, we played, we laughed & we cried! We are sad to lose those of you who are moving on...we know that God has plans to use you in other ways, but we will miss you dearly. However, we also look forward to the new moms who will be joining us in the fall. We look forward to meeting you and welcoming you! (please check out our summer activities calendar and come join us for some fun!)

Two years ago my friend Dana Mensonides, who is in my small group, mentioned MOPS to me and told me that I should check into it. I really wasn't sure what to expect, but in every area this group has exceeded my expectations.

 I have to admit that at this point I felt like I was lost & lonely in a sea of people at Big Valley...I only knew a couple of moms at church and was having a hard time getting connected. You see, I grew up in a much smaller church and had attended that church my entire life & knew each person there by name (many of whom were related to me) it was quite the adjustment when my husband and I decided to call Big Valley Grace our home church. Also, the friends I had at my old church were in a different stage of life, so when we switched churches I didn't have any mom friends to connect with.

Dana's invitation couldn't have come at a better time! I am so grateful for everyone who is involved with the MOPS ministry and committed to providing a place for us moms to support each other and become a community. Those of you who have extended friendship to me, thank you so much! I have enjoyed getting to know many of you so far and look forward to the lasting friendships that MOPS creates.

I was definitely challenged this year when I was asked to be a part of the blog team. You see, I have no background in writing and honestly didn't feel like I had much to give. I have slowly grown to enjoy writing the recaps of our MOPS meetings as it is a way for me to take to heart some of the lessons and advice from our speakers this year.

I look forward to seeing you at some of the play dates this summer & also in the fall when we start our new MOPS year!


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mom of the Month!!

Dana Dabney

Jack-2years, Noah-5months
Most disliked chore on the household chore list?
I really, really dislike washing windows, so don't look outside when you're in my house.
Tell us about your first road trip in your first car.
Well, since my first car was a 1934 Chevy pickup I couldn't really go on any "road trips." Every ride was an adventure though, thats for sure! When I turned 16 my dad was fixing up the old truck and it was the only spare vehicle at the time, so my parents let me drive it. Nothing like going down the road seeing a 16 year old girl in an old man Hot Rod ;) The only problem was that my mom wouldn't let me drive in the rain because it didn't have windshield wipers.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Childbirth (no explanation needed).
Name 1 thing you miss about being a kid.
Growing up I lived in the country and I LOVED playing outside, I could be out there all day (everyday). My imagination would just run wild and I would have so much fun exploring without a care in the world. Sometimes when I look back, I really miss those days.

One piece of encouragement or advice to share with other moms.
My advice to moms is something that I have to remind myself of everyday. Be the same person at home as you are in public. In those moments when you've lost all of your patience and you know you're about ready to explode, try to calm yourself by thinking: "ok...what if other people could see me right now" (when in reality...your children ARE people and they are watching (and learning)). Scary, right? So, I always try to be the same person in the car on the WAY to church as the person who I am IN church (the key word is "try"). I don't always succeed, but that's my hearts desire.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Men's Perspective

I was away this weekend for a little rest & relaxation at the Big Valley Women's Retreat (if you have the opportunity to go next year I would definitely recommend it!), and I must admit it's been a little challenging to get back into the swing of the morning routine which has lately involved way too many appointments and shuffling my two girls back and forth between the two Grandmas.

I am grateful however that I was able to get things together enough this morning to make it to MOPS! I always love my MOPS mornings, the breakfast is the best, but I especially love the wonderful moms whom I get to connect with and the speakers we have the privilege of listening to and learning from.

Men's Panel:

Bobby Kirchner - Superintendent Big Valley Christian School
Jim Jesse - Husband of Mentor Mom Allison
Scott Stubbert - Pastor of Recovery & Single Adult Ministries
Rick Thompson - Pastor of Connect & Grow

A few tidbits they shared with us include the following:

Things men struggle with in marriage...Selfishness, insecurity, priorities, contact with worldly things...Give your husband time and a little slack and PRAY for him like crazy.

When your husband walks in from work...make an effort to give him a minute or two to say "hi" see how his day was and let him decompress for a few minutes so he might be able to switch gears and fully engage with the family.

Try to make an effort to make your husband feel special by leaving little notes or sending a text.

Make date night a priority in your marriage.

Plan times to engage with your spouse...spend time getting to know one another, find mutually interesting subjects.

What will motivate a man to put his family first? Refer to 1 Peter 3 and Ephesians 5 (both relate to the relationship b/w husband & wife), Paraphrased by Rick: Live your life in such a way for your husband just as you would for the Lord...You can win your husband over for the Lord's highest purpose.

If you want to encourage your husband to help out at home...look at your expectations, let them do it their way and try not to criticize their help...they are more likely to help if you release control. Acknowledge their help and let them know you appreciate it.

Advice the men would give themselves if they could go back knowing what they know now...Present is good, but engaged is so much better. You don't have to solve all of the problems on your own...let your spouse help, you are a TEAM.

How to get through Peaks and Valleys in marriage...Matthew 6:33 - Put God first, everything else will follow. When tough decisions or situations arise...Lord, help me right now.

Present a united front, deal with differences once the children are gone and you can discuss the situation with just you & your spouse. Don't belittle each other in front of the kids and don't let kids disrespect the parents.

Husband as the spiritual leader in the as if he already is and that will give him the desire to be that, encouragement in that direction...not a direct command. RELEASE CONTROL and learn to FOLLOW.

What they have learned about marriage and would like to share:

  • The more I pursue Jesus, the better father I am
  • Invite male mentors into my life
  • We're on the same team, and committed to this
  • Rip the word DIVORCE out of your dictionary
  • Put the Lord first
  • No secrets 
  • Seek Godly counsel

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

How Cookies Apply to My Life (And Yours Too)

I was so glad to make it to MOPS yesterday. Last time my second daughter had a fever (story of my life it seems...). So I showered for you all and showed up clean, dressed and high on the anticipation of adult company.

I've been on a weird (when I say weird I mean horrible) diet lately: no sugar, no wheat.  So when our lovely speaker, Deby Turnrose, started talking about cookies I wasn't sure how I felt about that. Were we really going to talk about the history of the chocolate chip cookie? How did this apply to me? Not only was I living life "sans cookie," I was also really needing a good Mom-to-Mom talking to -- you know?

But then it happened. She started talking to me, not about cookies, but about life. And metaphors. And being an English major myself, I do speak her language quite well.

Deby took us through the ingredients of the cookie, some of the clever "metaphorical" aspects of each ingredient: the flour is the "blah" stuff, it just needs to be there; the sugar is the sweet stuff in life; the eggs are God (3 in one, get it??) Who binds everything in our lives together; the vanilla is the cool stuff -- the creative parts of life, the "extra"something that makes the day worth facing (that's my take on it at least).

But what really made me nod my head in agreement was her take on the salt. Salt is the bitter, sour, ugly things in life. The happenings that make us ask "why??" and maybe challenge our faith at its core.   The things we are certain life could do without. Or could it...?

Deby shared some parts of her life experience with us so openly and graciously, and I was awed by how God took this girl with some really hard stuff to deal with, and turned her into a woman who is clever and bright and talented and has a really wacky sense of humor. I laughed quite a bit, as I'm sure did you.

And so the salt is necessary in the chocolate chip cookie. It makes the sugar sweeter, so our speaker says.

If Deby can say that, then I will try to accept it. It's hard to accept, isn't it? Do the stupid, ugly, "salty" things really need to be in my life? In my past? Or would erasing those experiences only erase something that makes life more beautiful? Am I better for those things? Are you?

The topic definitely leaves us with some food for thought. And Deby left us with that a metaphor?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Mom of the Month!

Emily Haley

I have 4 kids!!! Leandra-14, April-10, Dylan-8 & baby Rhett-8 months

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?:
I feel like I should have some great thing to say, but I really don't! I'd like to know how to fashion design and sew!
If you could stay a certain age forever, what age would it be?:
Honestly, I really enjoy being 30 and would love to stay this age forever!
What are your 10 favorite things?:
My 10 favorite things: God, my hubby, my babies, reading, dancing, eating, travel, shoes, jewelry and the beach!
One piece of advice or encouragement for other moms?:
My advice and encouragement for other moms is to not compare yourselves to other moms. I spent a good 6 years striving to be like "so and so and so and so...". This did me no good and caused much disappointment. I've learned to embrace the type of mother and woman I am and focus on improving myself to be who God created me to be- my unique self with unique qualities. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Everywhere we look we are surrounded by the promise of new life.  Trees, once seemingly dead, are now covered with beautiful blossoms.  The cold, infertile land of winter is giving way to a warmer, greener land of hope.  The hope of bearing fruit and reaping harvest.  The hope of taking a life seemingly barren and making it beautiful once again.  This is what spring offers us every year. Her colors amaze us, her beauty inspires us, her new life refreshes us.  Spring is truly a gift from God; it reminds us that He never leaves us the way we are.  God is always about resurrection and new life, the seasons are a constant reminder of this truth.  God uses the barren times of our lives to shape us into the people He knows we can be.  When our lives feel like winter and our future seems bleak, remember spring is coming.  God isn’t done with us, He hasn’t forgotten us, but rather He is perfecting us.  Making us ready, so when our spring comes, we will be healthy enough to bloom.

 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


I am so thankful for the transparency of our speaker Pastor Bobby Fisher this morning. What a wonderful testimony of God's grace and redemption. I am in awe of how God's plan is so perfect and how He guides us through our darkest days, and is also there to celebrate with us our greatest joys! God's protection was upon Bobby through his homelessness, drugs, alcohol, anger which led to abuse along with the many other trials he went through. There was a perfect plan in place to bring Bobby & Jill out of their struggles and into God's light.

I loved these thoughts on prayer that Bobby shared with us this morning:

  1. Prayer doesn't change God, it changes us.
  2. Prayer doesn't empower us, it empowers God to work through us.
  3. Prayer isn't measurable, it's mystical.
  4. Stop telling God what you want Him to do and let him work through your prayers.

Here are the 3 questions Bobby asked us this morning:

  1. Are you praying? on a regular basis, 10-15 minutes specifically spending time praying
  2. What are you praying for? God, what do you want to do in my life? 
  3. Who are you praying with? Make a commitment to pray for each other

Just this morning one of my friends at MOPS gave me her copy of "Praying God's Word For Your Husband" by Kathi Lipp. I look forward to learning how to pray more effectively for my husband and to experience God's power through prayer. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Friendship: The Saving Grace of "Me Too"

I don't know about you, but for me yesterday was one of those mornings where I woke up and wasn't sure I would even going to make it out of my PJ's, let alone make it out of the house and to that much-needed MOPS meeting. Here's how God got me over my hurtles on Tuesday:

I woke up to my husband saying "It's 8 o' clock" after having been up most of the night with my youngest daughter who had come down with a high fever.

God-solved: my husband offered to work from home so I could leave my sick kiddo at home.

Next, that darn Daylight Savings time-change has made my morning an hour shorter and I've not had a shower in 2 days and haven't had much sleep to compensate for that.

God-solved: I had a really great hair morning (probably because I didn't sleep much on it) and I decided it didn't need to be washed to be presentable (this doesn't happen very often!).

And also because of the time change, I didn't have time to bring my craft (being the craft-leader and all), or the fruit I should have brought for breakfast sharing, and (gasp!) I didn't have time to make coffee.

God-solved: I let go of the "shoulda's" for the morning and instead put on a dress, slapped on some deodorant and got myself to the nearest Starbucks drive thru. They were so fast getting all the caffeine-starved customers through the line that I was only 5 minutes late for MOPS (score!).

Then I was able to forget for 2 hours that my daughter had a fever, or that I needed a shower, and instead had breakfast, laughed, and shared some great "me too" conversation with my table ladies. 

That video of that speaker I can't remember the name of (because I'm sleep-deprived, remember?), was so great, wasn't it? Friendships, and having girlfriends to share our not-perfectness with, and opening our lives up to women who really care about us is such a gift. My major "God-solved" moment on Tuesday wasn't the hair, or my husband (though I love him!), or the Starbucks I had. It was that I got to MOPS and told my friends about my morning, and what I was going through, and how I had failed to meet my own expectations of myself; and they said "me too." And then we took pictures with cool props and were silly --- and who doesn't need to just be silly every so often??

I'm not alone; you're not alone. Take a risk, take a chance and trust someone with the stuff you wish you weren't dealing with. Chances are, they will welcome your openness and you both will be blessed when she says, "Me too!"

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Foster Care & Adoption - Feb 26th

I am so thankful to the Pishney's for joining us at MOPS today and sharing their hearts with us about Foster Care & Adoption. I feel like we were given some very good information today on what the process of being a foster family or a waiting family for adoption looks like & how every situation is different.

Let me give you a little background on my experience with Foster Care...When I was 10, my parents made the decision to be Foster Parents through Bethany Christian Services and they have been involved in that ministry ever since. I grew up being very aware of the blessing that Adoption & Foster Care can be (I also have 2 cousins who were adopted), but I also remember many of the questions and comments along with the looks. They assumed that I was the mother of the infant we were caring for and in my early teens with a baby of a different ethnicity. It was never a negative experience as we would just explain that we did foster care or just smile and continue on our way. For my family it was just like having a new brother or sister in the family for awhile, usually a few days to a few months. I also got some very good experience with newborns which was very useful when my girls were born :)

 I now have a few friends who are on their own path of Foster/Adoption, and am very thankful to Jeff & Karen for putting together the following information on understanding the process and being supportive to those going through this journey and what we can do to help and encourage them or just know what the best way might be to converse with them about their Foster/Adoption story.

Understanding the Emotional Toll - What do you wish people would understand about Foster Care?

  • That you are very vulnerable during this process
  • So many of the details are out of your control / unknowns
  • All of the emotions that come up during the process, paperwork and interviews
  • Delays and health concerns - trying to get the child the services they need(working with many different social workers, counselors, doctors, etc...)
  • Child's emotions and adjustments 
  • It is/can be a very lonely journey
  • Communicating about the process without sharing too much or sharing too little and confusing friends and family
  • Answering random questions from strangers
  • Birth parent visits are the toughest days and can take days to recover from

What to say or not to say:

  • Don't ask details about the child's past
  • Don't ask why the child was taken away from his/her parents
  • Don't scrutinize the child looking for signs of drug use by birth mom or fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Don't try to find something wrong with the child
  • Don't assume the child will be less smart because he/she was adopted
  • Don't share your horror stories
  • Don't label the child(labels do much damage & last a lifetime)
  • Don't compare stories 
  • Why would you ruin your own kids by doing Foster Care or Adopting? God didn't care any less for the child because he/she is adopted or in Foster Care. God has a specific plan for each of His children
  • Ask about the child's present likes/dislikes, favorite things or activities not their past experiences
  • Birth child / Biological child
  • Birth mom / Biological mom
  • What is their ethnicity (not where did you get them from, where did they come from)
  • Did you adopt internationally or domestically? Instead of where did he/she come from?
  • The foster/adoptive parents aren't lucky to have missed out on the rough newborn phase w/little sleep etc...The child isn't lucky to have gone through all of the hard stuff.
  • Don't keep reminding the child that he/she is different
  • A good thing to say would be "Your family is beautiful" or "We're praying for you"

What you can do to help:

  • Pray
  • Be genuinely interested
  • Focus on the present or future
  • Be encouraging, make phone calls, bring dinner, send text messages, offer childcare, listen, or just let them cry, be a good friend, don't judge
  • Rejoice with them
  • Be sad with them

We can all do something to help care for the orphans...

Contact info:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Me and my BFF

This picture makes me smile.  It’s not the greatest picture of Jim, and you can hardly see the view that we had from the top of the mountain overlooking the hills and the ocean, but it reminds me of a great day and a beautiful gift from a loving Father.

Jim woke me up earlier than I would have liked on Saturday morning.  He handed me a coffee and instructed me to brush teeth and throw on some clothes—we were off to Coastanoa.  I rolled out of bed and we headed out on the two hour drive to our favorite hiking spot.

This time of year has always been a struggle for me.  The post-holiday let down followed by a month or two of cold, wet days leaves me feeling a little blue and not very motivated to do much.  I appreciated Susan’s talk about depression last week—it was so informative.  I’m not sure if my blues have ever turned into depression, but I do know that they have occasionally stolen my joy and made me lose all perspective.   With Ivey back at college, it seems that this year has been especially hard for me. 

We drove to Half Moon Bay and stopped at the local grocery market for a picnic lunch.  We have this down to a science after five years—fresh bread, smoked salmon, sliced cheese, and some fruit.  We got a warm juice and a wheatgrass shot for energy and drove to the trailhead.  As we parked and began our walk, I could feel the tension and sadness beginning to fall away.  After 2 hours uphill through grassland, and then thick forest, we reached the summit.  The sun was shining, the wind refreshing, the smell intoxicating, and the endorphins from the climb exhilarating.   I felt so free and energized for the first time in months.

However, the most beautiful thing about this day was not the view or the endorphins, but that my best friend knew just what I needed and he dropped everything to make it happen for me.   

He knows my limits and he saw me getting to the edge of them.  He also knows that I can breathe better surrounded by trees, and that sometimes I need a push to get me there.  He is patient and loving as I wake up from my sluggishness and begin to feel alive again.  He knows every part of me and he loves me anyway.  He always waits and hopes for the best me to show up again.  He draws me out and lifts my eyes back to Christ and the marvelous healing light He offers.  He makes me remember how grateful I really am.  He is a beautiful husband, a loving dad to my girls, and my very best friend.

We began our lives together as friends my first year of college.  We gradually grew from best friends to dating, and then marriage followed 4 years later.   I am so thankful that no matter what has happened in our lives, through all the stages we’ve gone through, we have found a way to nurture our friendship.   I’m not saying it’s always been easy and I’m not saying we haven’t had our struggles, but there has always been a clear vision of who we wanted to be for each other, and we have worked hard to make that a constant in our lives.   

I am not sharing this with you to brag or somehow say that our marriage is perfect.  It isn’t.  But it is real and it is strong.  We haven’t figured it all out, but as I pray for you and your marriages, I want to share what we have learned:

We have learned to put our guard down and be totally transparent, trusting each other to handle what we are given gently and with great care. 
We have committed to praying for each other and trusting as God works in our marriage to make us stronger and to help us love each other more.
We try to be slow to criticize and quick to find good. 
We try never to manipulate and we try never to assign motive or intention. We always hope for the best from each other.

These are our goals as we do life together and though we often fall short, we are constantly growing closer and closer to each other along the way.  Whether you are already there, or feeling like you don't know where to start to even become friends again, here are some practical tips that may help foster the friendship:

1.  PRAY PRAY PRAY for your spouse.  Prayer builds love and intimacy.  Never underestimate the power of prayer--especially for the ones that God has placed in your life.
2.  Can you remember a place or an activity that gave you the feeling of freedom and joy?  Even if it seems silly or impractical--go for it.  Share it with your husband and let him see that side of you again!
3.  Find some way everyday to encourage, support, or build up your husband without expecting anything in return.
4.  Hold hands whenever possible.
5.  If you have to talk about something difficult or challenging, talk while you walk and walk side by side. Refer to #4  :)
6.  Share something with your husband that he might not know about you, and ask him questions that let him share himself with you in the same way.  It could be something small like a favorite place, or something big like a dream that is growing in you.  Play top 3 (top 3 favorite desserts, top 3 favorite vacation spots, etc.) You never know—tastes change with time!
7.  Never stop finding the humor in daily life and share it with each other.  There is nothing more fun than laughing.  Well, almost nothing...

"Love is patient and kind, not jealous, not boastful, not proud, rude or selfish, not easily angered,and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not gloat over other people’s sins
but takes its delight in the truth.  Love always bears up, always trusts, always hopes, always endures."  1 Cor. 13:4-7

"His words are sweetness itself; he is altogether desirable. This is my darling, and this is my friend..."  Song of Solomon 5:16

"Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel."  Prov. 27:9

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17