Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fall Flowers From The Dollar Store

I'm beyond ready for fall. It's been a fairly cool summer, but it would still be nice to feel that chilly bite of autumn first thing in the morning.

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the colors and I love all the things that happen in nature when it starts getting cold.

I started my autumn decorating this weekend with a very simple floral arrangement - and it's even better because everything I used in it came from the dollar store.

If you're choosy, you can find some really great bargains at the dollar store. The home decor section is one of them, but you really have to pay attention. The flowers themselves can be a little beaten up because they're made of lower quality fabric. They look great, so pick ones that aren't bent or misshapen. Also make sure everything is intact and accounted for.

For my arrangement, I picked out three flower stems, each one with two different kinds of flowers on it. They're a mix of plain flowers and some berries and leaves. Look for those instead of plain flowers because they're better for mixing and matching.

I also got a metal bucket and some moss. I already had some floral foam at home, so I just broke it up and put it in the bottom.Then I put a layer of moss in and started with my flowers. I always cut them off the thick bottom stem so I can do more with them. There's nothing sillier than a stem of flowers stuck in a vase.

So this adorable little autumn floral arrangement cost me a total of $5. I love it!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Grumbling And Complaining

Please, Lord, forgive me for the times when my response to your prefect will is complaining. Instead, instill in me a heart that sees your hand moving across everything that happens in my life.

There are days when I wake up bitter and with grumbling in my heart. Make those the days that I seek you from the very moment my eyes open. Help me cling to you when bitterness seems easier.

Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Philippians 2:14-16

It's easy to murmur, Lord, just as it was for the people of Israel in the desert. Please remind me of how toxic complaining is and how that must be removed far from me to ensure close fellowship with you.

Help me not to allow grumbling and complaining to ruin my testimony.

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Strengthen me and give me wisdom, Lord, to turn my complaining nature into one of rejoicing and praise. There are more blessings in my life than I could ever list, simply because you delight in me.

Make the first thoughts I have each day be of you - how you have provided, blessed and worked in great and mighty ways once again. This is the moment that you have given me - I will rejoice in it.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. Philippians 4:11

The desire of my heart, Lord, is to purge my heart of grumbling and complaining and replace them with joy and praise and laughter. You delight in me - I want to delight in you.

Your promises are new every morning, and I will rejoice in how you make them come to pass.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Weekend of Recognizing Your Blessings

There are people in our community that don't have a home. I know because I read the public records every day as part of my job. There are children who live in shelters, their family car and the park instead of a house. There are people living under bridges and those who don't know where they'll sleep tonight.

Right here in our own backyard.

This makes me acutely aware of the blessings God has given me. I have no right to take my home for granted when others have none. I have transportation, food, clothes, lights, heat and air conditioning. All of my comforts are taken care of, as are all of my needs. This is simply by the grace of God.

Beyond that, I have more good health than many people I know. I have been blessed with family while others are alone. God has given me more than I could ever have asked for and more than I ever deserved.

For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses. Isaiah 44:3-4

Make this a weekend of recognizing your blessings. We are blessed beyond measure by a God Who is able to do exceedingly above all we could ask or think. When you're tempted to be discouraged or complain, take two minutes to look around you and name the blessings the Lord has rained down on you.

It will change your perspective on everything.

God is good. All the time.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Standing Out In The Crowd

While at a meeting last week, someone raised the shades on the window. Glancing out into the bright, sunshiny day, this tree grabbed my attention.

And you can see why. It's taller than the others. It's a different shape and completely lacking what all the others around it have - leaves!

I don't know if anyone else in the room noticed this tree, but I definitely did. It stood out in the crowd like no other could.

Someone else might look at it and say it's just a dead tree. It does look much like the Charlie Brown tree in that classic Christmas show. They might even go cut it down to make that area look prettier and more well-kept.

What is there in you that makes you stand out in the crowd? Nothing naturally. That's why the world is so intent on looking like everyone else - so you won't stand out, be ridiculed or noticed. Just blend in. Be like your friends. Be careful not to be too different.

That's a sad way to live when Scripture tells you you're special.

And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. John 17:13-18

When someone is different, they stand out. When someone has something different, they stand out.

You and I have something inside us that is completely different from the world - Jesus Christ. That's why we can't fade into the wallpaper or blend into the carpet. We will be noticed - not because of who we are, but because of Who lives inside us.

I don't mind looking like the giant, bare tree in the middle of the green forest below. As long as my Lord is the One being reflected, it's alright to be front and center.

Then I can give Him all the glory and honor and praise. He is so worthy.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Amish Cinnamon Bread

I saw this several times on Pinterest recently and had to give it a try. It was pinned by several people from several different websites, so I'm not sure who to credit - but thank you!

This is an incredibly easy, incredibly tasty recipe. It's moist and sweet - the perfect combination. Serve it just slightly warm and you'll probably make it through a whole loaf before you realize it.

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
4 cups flour
2 tsps baking soda
2/3 cups sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9x5 loaf pans.

2. Cream butter, sugar and eggs. Add milk, flour and baking soda.

3. Mix 2/3 cup of sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl.

3. Put 1/4 of the batter in each loaf pan, then split 3/4 of the cinnamon-sugar mixture between the two pans. Split the rest of the batter between the two pans and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-sugar mix.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

5. Cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing.