Monday, May 2, 2016

Turn Off The Noise Of The World

It all starts with the alarm going off.
Then the radio as you're getting ready.
The husband, kids, dogs, other members of the household.
The CD in your car.
The traffic noises.
The music on the store's sound system.
The sounds your phone makes for texts, calls and emails.
The constructions workers you drive past.
The television.
The birds, bugs frogs and dogs making their various sounds.
The telemarketers making your phone ring.
The knocks at the door.

You get the idea. Our day is filled with noise, no matter where we go. We're bombarded with people trying to get our attention — they want to change our opinion, sell us something or fill our minds with whatever message they have for the day. And it's never-ending noise. Unless you wear earplugs and never leave the house, you can't get away from it.

And we wonder why we're on overload all the time.

How can we expect to have peace, joy and calm in our lives when our ears are attacked from every side? How can we hear the voice of God over the soundtrack of daily living?

Jesus gives us our example repeatedly in the gospels.

And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. Luke 6:12

When He was surrounded by enemies, He went out to be alone with God. When the people were pressing in, He went to spend long hours alone with His Father. When it seemed like He was being bombarded from every side, He took it to God in prayer.

Can it really be that simple? It is just a matter of getting away and spending time in prayer?

Jesus Himself said it was.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. Matthew 6:6

Turn off the noise, get away and take it to the Lord in prayer.

Why do we make it so complicated? Think about what you do when you're driving to a house you never been to before. You're trying to concentrate and look for house numbers, so what do you do? You turn down the volume on the car radio. You don't want to miss it and drive right on by, so you get rid of that distraction for a few minutes.

And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. Mark 1:35

The verse right before this one describes how busy Christ was in His early ministry. He healed many and cast out many devils — not just a few but many. So what does Jesus do immediately thereafter? He gets up early, before the noises of the day began again, and went to be alone with God.

There were many, many times when Jesus had given just about all His human body could give, and He's ready to just be still for a while. To do so, He leaves the world behind, finds a solitary spot and fellowships with God.

Our perfect example here is that we're allowed to turn off the noise of the world. It's OK to focus our attention on just one thing for a while. And it's definitely necessary to shut down and reboot in the presence of God. He expects it and delights in it. Sometimes it's the only way you're going to hear His still small voice, so He's counting on that time with you.

So when the noises of the world are pressing in, turn down the volume, find a quiet spot and listen for the voice of God. He's waiting for you.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Sunday Sketch

Today's sketch will be the perfect layout for the Mother's Day card you'll be making this week. Because you will be making a card for Mother's Day, right? Was that subtle?

Two beautiful patterned papers, two large images and a lovely sentiment will be the perfect combination for making your one-of-a-kind message special.

One patterned paper will be your background, while the other will be a large overlapping circle in the bottom corner.

Tie your focal points together by matching the colors and theme of your papers. You can get incredibly creative here and use die cuts, stamped images or even small photos.

Add a Mother's Day sentiment in the bottom corner and you'll be ready to make her day.

For my card, I started with a bright pink card stock and matted a coordinating pink flowered paper onto it for my background.

I cut a large circle out of a coordinating pink and green flowered paper, adhered it and trimmed off the overhanging edges.

My two large images are both stamped and hand-cut, one on another flowered paper from that set and colored with glittered gel pens, and the other on a metallic pink and silver handmade paper.

The hand-stamped phrase ties my beautiful pink card all together.

For more great cards, layouts other paper crafts and gift ideas, come visit my Etsy shop. You'll find one-of-a-kind greetings for every occasion, each with Scripture tucked inside.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Weekend Of Spring Cleaning

I'm three weeks into spring cleaning. It feels like three months, but only because so much is getting accomplished. I have a dear, sweet friend who has been helping me with the big tasks, and then it comes down to the detail work.

What details? No one can help me file paperwork, sort my closet or organize the craft room. While I'd like to delegate the scrubbing of dog bowls or the cutting out and organizing of more than three years worth of newspaper articles, it still rests on my shoulders.

After a full day of work inside, moments like the one pictured here make it all worth it. My home is clean (or getting there), it's welcoming and it still has the most special place in my heart. Cleaning and organizing make you see your home through new eyes —  in a way you would never experience it if you weren't intimately aware of its every nook and cranny, for better or worse.

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:27

Make this a weekend of spring cleaning. I suggest this for two reasons, the first being that it probably needs it. (No offense.) After being closed up for the winter, it needs to breathe and get all pretty again. Secondly, you can only appreciate your home at the deepest level if you are right there, cleaning, straightening and organizing. Staying on top of things and being proactive in the way your home is run gives you the most amazing perspective on your house and the people who live there.

You'll see things that need fixed, replaced or painted. You'll be aware of what's broken and needs attention and what's dirty and needs cleaned. Use these two days to really pay attention to what your home needs and then give it the TLC it deserves. The house, your family and your cluttered brain will thank you for it.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Candy Surprise Snickerdoodle Cookies

Snickerdoodle cookies are an amazing treat by themselves, but add a candy surprise to the middle and they're out of this world!

They're best eaten warm, so don't worry about how to pack up the leftovers. I think you understand what I'm trying to subtly tell you...

1 bag Snickerdoodle cookie mix
1 stick butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 package of the tiniest chocolate/peanut candy you can find (like Snickers)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.

2. Pour cinnamon/sugar mixture from the cookie package into a bowl and set aside.

3. Combine all ingredients except the candy and the cinnamon/sugar mixture in the cookie package.

4. Wrap each piece of candy with just enough dough to cover it completely, pinching the edges closed. This will keep all of the obey-gooeyness in.

5. Roll the cookie dough ball in the cinnamon/sugar mixture and place on the baking sheet.

6. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes, until the cookies have a slight crust on the outside.

7. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Leave cookies on the sheet for a minute or two to finish hardening, then remove them to the cooling rack. If they last that long...

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Faux Tile Backgrounds For Handmade Cards

Why have a boring background for your handmade card when you can make a faux tile look on any patterned paper in just a few minutes?

Depending on the pattern of your paper and how strong you make your "tile grout," it can be a subtle look or a very dramatic one.

Start with an embossing mat, metal ruler, embossing stylus and your chosen paper. If you don't have an embossing mat, you can easily make light pencil marks on the edges of your paper and erase them when you're done.

Flip your ruler over and use the flat side to line up equal measurements across your paper. Use the largest embossing tool you have to make bold lines, or the smallest to make subtle ones.

Too subtle? There's an easy way to make them stand out more.

 Dab a small amount of chalk in each intersection of lines, then smooth it out and blow off any excess. 

 This will give some dimension to your new tile pattern and make the lines pop off the page.

This card, along with many other paper crafts and gifts, can be found in my Etsy shop. Come visit today for more great ideas and maybe a gift or two!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Are You Asking The Right Questions?

When you do your daily Bible study, are you asking any questions like these?

Am I done yet?
Do I really need to know this?
Why is this even in the Bible?
Does God really mean me here?
Have I read enough for today?
How is this important in this day and age?

If these are your questions, you're probably not getting too much out of your devotion time. It's easy to get distracted and rush through when you know yr to-do list is waiting for you. And besides, you've read this passage a dozen times and know it by heart? Why really study it again?

Well, for starters, the Bible is a living, breathing book inspired by God. You are my the same person (mentally or spiritually) that you were the last time you read it, so God is prepared to reveal new truths and meaning this time through. What a waste it would be if you hurried to get done and missed out on the blessing He had all ready for you.

Also, Bible study isn't just about you. It's about absorbing all you can and hiding it away in your heart. You may think you'll never use that verse, but by tucking it away, God may have just the situation in mind where you can share it with someone else. If you haven't learned it, He can't use you in the same way for His glory. How terrible it would be to miss out on being a blessing because you wanted a few extra minutes for yourself.

So what questions should you be asking as you study your Bible today?

1. What jumped out at you as you read these verses? Was there something new or different that touched you like never before?

2. Do you understand its message well enough to summarize it? Do you know it well enough to explain it to someone else in just a sentence or two?

3. How can you apply this Scripture to your life today? Can you find the truth here that crosses generations?

4. Are there more questions that came up as you read this passage? Do you know where to look to find the answers?

If you take your time, give your heart over completely and search for God's messages in your Bible study time, you'll be amazed at how He speaks to you? I pray today that you will fall in love with the Scriptures as never before, and that you will be encouraged to keep digging into His word to find His plan for your daily living.