Memorial Day ~ Remembering Robert Romero

 

 

This is my Grandpa–Merced Ralph Romero, though he went by Ralph. He served in the Army.

 

Actually, there were five boys in the Romero family, and every single one of them served in the Army.
Including Robert.

 

This is my great uncle Robert Romero. He was just a kid from Wyoming, until the Vietnam War that is. Then he was flown far away, far overseas, far from the mountains of home and plunged into the jungles of a strange land. He served as an E-4–about as low on the totem pole as you can get.
He was a combat medic, and on December 3, 1969, he was killed in action.
Just a 21 year old kid from Wyoming–who died because he was helping other soldiers. It was the very act of helping them that caused him to give his life–and for this he was awarded the Silver Star Medal–our nation’s highest awards for valor in combat given in Vietnam.
Just a Wyoming kid, just my uncle I never met, just a guy who gave his life so that you could live yours.
My Uncle Don died when I was just a tiny girl, then Grandpa passed away last year, so did his brother Roy, now only my Uncle Ren is left. If we don’t remember, if we don’t pass along these stories, if we don’t remember the people behind the names these boys become statistics.
Just numbers of casualties of war.
Just names carved into a big black wall that some people don’t even bother to go see in Washington DC when they visit because “it’s not a big deal” to them.

 

 

But if we remember, if we realize, if the tears come for the sacrifice of those who loved us with the greatest love though never met us…..
Then we honor them, and we honor the day.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

Noble the Movie

 

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The movie Noble is about the life of Christina Noble, an Irish woman from the mid 1900’s, who has had a very difficult and trying childhood and life growing up in Dublin and then moving to England, but throughout it all she holds onto, even if just by a thread of hope, her faith in God.

In the midst of her suffering and crying out to God for understanding and beseeching Him with questions about if He has forgotten about her, she has a vision of children from Vietnam consumed by war and devastation that their little innocent hearts does not deserve to have to endure through. She dreams of children, who are desperately in need of love, protection, and help. She vows that one day, somehow, she WILL go to Vietnam and carry out her vision that God has placed within her heart. The movie goes through her journey in Vietnam in 1989, as she is trying to set up a home for the street children so that they can be safe, loved, nurtured, educated, and receive any medical care they need.  The movie also has many flashbacks about her life as she was growing up and all the intensity and sorrows she went through to make her into the woman she was destined to be.

Her spirit is one truly comprised of gold to go through all the pain she went through, and yet to still have a song on her lips, radiating joy in her heart and love for the “least of these”, the poor and abandoned children, in abundance. She is such an inspiration in how she pours and selflessly gives out of herself to these children in desperate need on the streets of Vietnam. She is as bold as a lion, and in the movie, she even rescues some young girls from being preyed upon by evil predator type men who have nothing but the vilest intentions with these young girls, which adds for quite the dramatic plot twist as she “storms the castle”, so to speak, for these young souls. She is a hero in the truest form of the word, in my humble opinion.

The movie was such an inspiration and very moving.  I found this movie to be quite surprisingly splendid and refreshing because sometimes, with more feel-good/faith films, they can be quite cheesy and low quality, but this movie was quite the opposite. I loved the more serious parts, and how they were expertly broken up by little scenes of humor and amusement that left me giggling and smiling.

The actress who portrayed Christina Noble, Deirdre O’Kane, was delightful! She had such a passionate and vibrant acting personality, and the Irish accent in her voice, both singing and speaking, was beautiful to watch and hear!

In this movie, I laughed, I cried, I was, to say it again, very much moved by this movie.

Watching Christina’s story drew something out from within me, it reignited a passion, so to speak. Children are the future, and we are called by God to love the children, widows, and orphans (James 1:27 and Psalm 82:3 in the Bible), and for someone to embrace that divine calling so selflessly and fully with a wide open heart and boldness of a lion…that is true faith and religion in my opinion. Serving with abandon and loving everyone you come across with and protecting them from themselves even. There is no greater calling, than to be NOBLE and BRAVE and to LOVE, no matter the personal cost (John 15:13)!

Have you seen this movie yet? What were your thoughts on it?

Beloveds, my ending question is one that convicts me to the core and puts my priorities in alignment, and that is: What is something both noble and brave you would accomplish with your life if you were guaranteed NOT to fail because God was on your side?????

To find and connect with other “noble” women, search the hashtag on your favorite social media “#sheisnoble”.

Now may I add this as a follow up to that question?

GREAT NEWS!!! He IS on your side, and if He has placed a dream within you…no matter how huge or minuscule, if it is from Him…NOTHING can get in your way. Fear has no place where love is (1 John 4:18), and God LOVES you and is FOR YOU! Go be bold and brave like Christina, and do great things for the Kingdom and for His glory alone! You are VICTORIOUS in Jesus!!!

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Now for some homeplay (homework but better):

Here is the trailer for the movie and a link to their phenomenal, beautifully done website! Go check them out and give them some lovings and go watch this movie!

Here is the official synopsis from their website:

“They broke everything but her spirit. They took everything but her dream. NOBLE, the award-winning feature film, is the incredible true story of a fearless Irish heroine driven by her daring vision to escape the slums of Ireland and risk everything on the streets of Vietnam.

Winner of six U.S. film festival awards, including the Panavision Spirit Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the powerful biopic drama written and directed by Stephen Bradley is heralded by critics as “raw and genuinely powerful,” “captivating” and “moving.” The Hollywood Reporter calls it “a joyful and rousing affirmation of the human spirit that will resound widely.”

With great affection, as always,

Rebekah M. Clark

“Nothing” Free Printable Art!

Yay for round two of free art! This original lettering is super easy to get into your hot little hands– Just click “Download Printable Here!” below, and the full-size 8 1/2 x 11 printable PDF will be saved to your downloads! This can be framed in a cute, cheap frame or hung on your fridge for a visual pick-me-up in your kitchen! Can you think of other ways to use/display printable art?
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Download Free Printable Here!

I don’t think I’ll even ask if you’ve ever felt this way, because I know it’s not uncommon. Lately, personal flaws, physical pain (pregnancy… gah!), and financial uncertainty have been weighing me down. Working on this lettering piece helped me dwell on the fact that all things work together for good. 🙂 I don’t have to worry that these trials and discomfort are worthless because I know that they are valuable for my learning and growing in Christ! And pregnancy?! We all know that ends well! Haha. Life is good, and I hope this art reminds you that your hard work and struggles are taking you somewhere better!

 

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Want to follow along on my art journey? …and see cute pics of my toddler, my husband, and adventures? Click the image to redirect to instagram! 🙂

Please let me know if you download this printable– and how you decide to display it!

Love,
Brianne

The Most Delicious Mini Strawberry No Bake Cheesecake Recipe

This shop for The Most Delicious Mini Strawberry No Bake Cheesecake Recipe has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #EffortlessPies #CollectiveBias

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Hurray, it’s May!!!!!!

This month is going to be one HUGE celebration here in the Elliott household for so many reasons! The biggest of which is that after 3 1/2 long years of non-stop college courses my hubby will be graduating this Saturday at the TOP of his class with a Bachelors Degree in Electrical Engineering with a Minor in Math. If that wasn’t reason enough to celebrate (which, I mean, it obviously is) we have even more cause to celebrate since hubby was also offered an amazing position with a government contracting company in Greenville, TX — just one hour away from where we are right now, which means we’ll get to stay close to his family, and still get to be in the East Texas that we’ve come to know and love.

Sandwiched in between all the joy is Mother’s Day, which is always meaningful, but especially this year because…..

My parents  (including my dearest mom!!) and sister (who is also graduating this weekend with her Bachelor’s degree) are coming to visit us here on their way back from her graduation. It’s been nearly a year since I’ve gotten to see them, so to say I’m thrilled is probably understating things.

The cherry on the top of it all (or in this case strawberry 🍓) will be the kid’s last days of school towards the end of the month, and all the fun things like Field Day, Field Trips, Color Runs, and Class Parties that go along with the last month of elementary school.

So yeah….one ✨✨BIG HUGE PARTY✨✨ all May long over here!

You all know how much I love to bake, but not during times like these! During all these celebrations, I’m going to want to be spending time celebrating and enjoying the events and our visitors, not stuck in the kitchen. That’s why I knew that Effortless Pies would be the perfect option for all these celebrations.  I was the Campaign Leader for the fall rounds of these amazing little better-for-you dessert options and after drooling over so many amazing different twists on them I went out and made them for us several times! These are seriously SO easy–here’s all you need for the basic Effortless Pie:

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  • Reddi-wip®
  • Dannon® Oikos® Key Lime Greek Yogurt
  • Keebler® Ready Crust® Mini Graham Cracker Pie Crust

 

Seriously–3 ingredients is all you need to have the easiest, better-for-you dessert ever! These are so easy Amber and Tyler can even create their own, and since it’s just graham crackers, Greek Yogurt, & Reddi-wip® it’s perfect for a daily dessert for them after dinner. Just spoon the yogurt into the crusts, top with Reddi-wip® and enjoy!

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The amazing thing about these is that you can do the 3 ingredient version, or you can add any number of mix-ins, toppings, or even turn it into a complete (but still effortless) recipe. Today I’m sharing my favorite variety so far–but once you’re done here be sure to check out all the other Amazing Effortless Pie Recipes! You can pick up everything you need for this recipe at Walmart, of course, I got all mine during my weekly grocery shopping! You can get an awesome Ibotta offer right now to make these even sweeter (because who doesn’t love saving money?)

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The Most Delicious Mini Strawberry No Bake Cheesecake Recipe

Makes 6 perfect mini-cheesecakes

Ingredients

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In a medium sized microwavable bowl heat the white bakers chocolate about 30 seconds and stir.

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Take the cream cheese and Dannon® Light & Fit® Strawberry Cheesecake Greek Yogurt and put them into the bowl with the melted chocolate. It’s important for the cream cheese to be softened so that everything will blend together well. When you’re scooping the yogurt in I like to use a small spatula so I can be sure to get every bit! The fact it’s already Strawberry Cheesecake flavored makes it sooo tasty!

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Using a blender mix these ingredients together until well blended and smooth–you don’t want any lumps!

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Measure out 1/3 Cup of Reddi-wip® — I love using this wet/dry measuring tool–it’s so handy because it pops the entire amount out so you don’t lose any of that delicious cream!

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Using a spatula gently fold the Reddi-wip® into the Yogurt mixture until well combined but light in texture. Now you’ll want to set this mixture into the fridge while you prep the berries!

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Use a blender and mince 1 cup of raspberries. For more of a frozen crumble bottom use frozen berries and for more of a compote feel use fresh–either way it’s delicious! Place a thin layer of this on the bottom of each Keebler® Ready Crust® Mini Graham Cracker Pie Crust.

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Next, spoon your yogurt mixture into your crust.

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Slice up fresh strawberries and add them on top in a star pattern.

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Melt the dark bakers chocolate in the microwave (again, about 30 seconds) and drizzle on top.

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Top with a generous helping of Reddi-wip® and enjoy!!!

If you need to make these ahead of time (which is great to do for celebrations) you can make everything up to the strawberry part. Just stick the pies in the fridge or for several days in advance in the freezer and then move them to the fridge a day ahead of time. This makes them delightfully firm with a true cheesecake texture, too!

The perfectly easy, and perfectly portioned dessert that will be a smashing success at all your upcoming celebrations!

Check out all the other amazing Effortless Pie Recipes Here–trust me, you’re going to want to pin them all!

 

How to Decide if Your Child is Ready for Music Lessons (and how to inspire your child to practice)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and it advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SongsToShare #CollectiveBias

practice box, ad, ready for music lessons

After high school band class one morning, I heard some girls talking about a cute saxophone player. I knew who they were talking about but that was the first day I really noticed him. Fifteen years later, that cute saxophone player is my husband and father to my three kids. It’s hard to believe that some of the most amazing parts of my life started with high school band class!

Taking music lessons, first piano and then guitar, has added so much to my life over the years. As a child and teenager, music helped me learn to set goals, work toward those goals and face the fear of performing in front of a group of people. The aspect of music I enjoyed the most as a young person was the relationships I developed. Some of my best friendships (and my marriage) were developed through the common interest of playing music. Beyond my personal experience, there is a large amount of research on the benefits of children learning music.

I want my kids to have the chance to experience the personal and relational benefits that being involved in music can bring to their lives. When my kids were infants and toddlers I focused on exposing them to music through singing and allowing them to play with kid friendly instruments. I have also always allowed them to play on the real piano, as long as they did not get too rough. With my oldest son I debated about when to start him in private music lessons. Here are a few things I learned about how to decide if your child is ready for music lessons and how to inspire your child to practice.

Let them get started with formal education before putting them in private lessons. My son did not go to daycare or preschool, so his first exposure to a structured learning environment was kindergarten. Even for kids who did go to preschool, kindergarten is a big adjustment. It is tiring because there are new things to get used to, so starting music lessons and kindergarten at the same time might be overwhelming. I also found that having some reading skills is very helpful for learning music. At the very least, it is important for children to be able to recognize and identify letters to help them in the process of learning to read music. I started my son in private piano lessons during his second semester of kindergarten and that worked for him. He was used to the idea and role of a teacher and he knew how to read on a basic level. I think that is the earliest a child should start, with few exceptions. I plan on starting my other two children a little later, in first or second grade.

Consider their emotional maturity before starting private lessons. Private music lessons can help children develop many important life skills such as discipline and goal setting. However, children need the ability to think ahead in order to realize the importance of practicing. When children are very young, they live completely in the moment and do not have the ability to understand that their actions now can impact things later. As they mature, children start to understand the concept of cause and effect to varying degrees. If children start private music lessons without fully understanding the benefits of practicing, getting in practices may become a battle.

My son is at the point now, in second grade, where he fully understands that practicing today is how he becomes a better piano player tomorrow. He likes piano lessons and he loves his teacher. However, there are weeks when he does not get in his four practices. He is the type of kid that likes to see evidence of his progress, so I have been trying to think of a way to give him a visual reminder of where he is on his practice schedule. I was recently in my local Brookshire’s  (I’m always in Brookshire’s trying to rack up YourPoints so I can save on gas) and I noticed that the bottle of Coca-Cola Zero™ I was about to buy had the song lyrics ‘takin’ care of business’ printed on it. The music notes reminded me of my son and got me thinking about ways I could get him to ‘takin’ care of’ his practices. I decided to make him a practice box to hold his music and prominently display his total practices for the week and inspire him to reach his practice goal.

practice box, ad, ready for music lessons

I asked my son to help make the practice box so it would be more meaningful to him. I wanted to use music written out in his handwriting to decorate the practice box. I drew out a staff for him and he filled in the time signature, notes and anything else he thought needed to be added.

practice box, ad, ready for music lessons

When he was done, I took the paper and scanned it into my computer as a photo. Once it was a photo on my computer, I was able to edit it like any other picture. I was inspired by the fun “Share a Coke and a Song” bottles to add a very colorful background. When I originally found the “Share a Coke and a Song” bottles, I couldn’t help but turn each bottle around and look at the different lyrics. On one of the bottles, I noticed some song lyrics I didn’t recognize, so I used my Shazam app on my phone to discover the song. Then, I went over to the Coca-Cola™ website to find out what other songs they were using on the bottles. I read that part of their goal in choosing lyrics was to be fun and uplifting. I love that sentiment and decided to use it as inspiration to use fun colors on the practice box.

practice box, ad, ready for music lessons

Once I got the music staff exactly how I wanted it, I gathered up my supplies so I could get to work. I bought a plain magazine file and printed off enough music staffs to cover it completely. I printed off six staffs on 11X14 paper. Other supplies I used include a small chalk board to display the practice number for the week, permanent mounting squares, chalk, chalk holder, scissors, adhesive, and a clear drying sealer.

practice box, ad, ready for music lessons

I cut out the staffs and started attaching them to the magazine file with the adhesive. I did not try to make the staffs meet up in any certain way or look uniform at all. I cut the pieces into different sizes and attached them to the file. Once the magazine file was covered, I put a coat of clear sealer over the entire practice box to protect the paper.

practice box, ad, ready for music lessons

Once the sealer was dry, I attached the chalkboard to the front of the practice box with permanent mounting squares. The chalkboard is there so my son can write down the number of times he has practiced for the current week. I put a little tin bucket full of chalk beside the practice box for easy access.

practice box, ad, ready for music lessons

Once everything was finished, I displayed the practice box on the piano. Now my son will easily see how many times he has practiced when he walks into the living room.

practice box, ad, brookshiresIf you’re looking for the fun Coke Zero “Share a Coke and a Song” bottles, I found them near the checkout of my local Brookshire’s. As I mentioned before, I couldn’t help but turn each bottle around to look at the different lyrics. It was fun and inspiring to see music used in such an unexpected way! Next time you’re in Brookshire’s, check out the new Coke Zero bottles and see how many of the songs you can identify-you can always use your Shazam app if you get stumped!