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Showing posts from July, 2010

Water Dogs

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One of our decorations for Vacation Bible School last week was this kiddie pool. We filled it with sand and plastic frogs...so much fun for the Quicksand Cove!

Needless to say, I just had to have it for my girls after the week was over. With two black labs in the house, I was convinced we'd have a blast in the back yard during this oppressive heat.

Unfortunately, nobody told Bailey and Sadie that they're supposed to be water dogs. This was about as close to playing in the pool as we got. Now anywhere you look you'll find the words "love water" in the description of a Labrador. Bailey will jump into any river, pond or puddle along the way, but when it came to this cute little pool, she wanted nothing to do with it.

Sadie on the other hand hates water to begin with. She's very particular about getting her feet wet and despises the bathtub. I had hoped that the warm temps would drive her to it just for a little relief, but she wouldn't come within 10 feet of i…

Never Pay Retail Again

Part of being a good steward of the money God has given us is finding the best prices on the things we buy every day. Some people have the resources to buy whatever they want whenever they want, but many of us are in lean times right now. The Lord may provide for our needs, but we also have a responsibility to keep our home in functioning, working monetary order.

There is absolutely no reason why we should ever have to pay full, retail price for our daily purchases. With a little planning and a little knowledge of the stores we shop in, we can find good uses for each dollar.

1. Make use of the Internet. With computer access, you can find hundreds of coupons, frugal living web sites and sale notices every day. Many stores and businesses have discount racks online that cut prices from what you'll find in stores. Do a little browsing and see what kind of savings you can stumble across.

2. Understand the seasons. Early in the summer isn't the time to buy bathing suits or outdoor furn…

Birthday Monkey Bread

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Apparently we're terrible around here about keeping birthday secrets. I found this gorgeous monkey bread mold at Williams-Sonoma this weekend and instantly fell in love. Instead of going back later and hiding it until my birthday today, Danny let me take it home with me right then.

So to celebrate my birthday (which is today) and Danny's daughter's (which is over the weekend), we made monkey bread! It takes several hours of preparation and baking, but once it's started, the smell keeps you going!

Monkey bread is a wonderful pull-apart bread/cinnamon/sugar/glaze creation that gets all warm and sticky while it bakes. I even burnt my finger in the excitement to get a fresh gooey piece.

You can find recipes everywhere for this wonderful monkey bread, or you can buy it in a mix from places like Williams-Sonoma. The hard part will be having enough on hand - it will go fast!

Sea Shells In Glass

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We came back from Myrtle Beach yesterday and I had the urge to change out the sea shell display in our dining room. After several trips to the coast in the past few months, there were definitely plenty to play with.

I have tons of these glass pebbles around the house, and you can find them at the dollar store by the bag-full. The tall glass box came from the thrift shop, so all of the parts to make this display were found on the cheap.

Start with a handful of pebbles at the bottom of the jar, then press each shell against the glass facing outward. Fill in the spaces with more pebbles to hold them in place. Alternate pebbles and different sizes of shells up to the top, covering the opening with pebbles to finish it off.

You can do the exact same thing with sand, rocks or other tiny bits to create different looks. Adjust the colors and sizes to fit your home's decor or color scheme.

Praying In Real Life

Eating at a restaurant the other day, I heard two women pray over their meal. Since I rarely see that anywhere, I thanked the Lord for their devotion.

Then I heard how they prayed: Thank you for the food. Amen.

Now, I know that the Lord is pleased with any conversation we have with Him, but this seemed a little less than heartfelt. Praise His holy name that I don't have to try and judge the condition of women's hearts, but we have to realize that we are being watched by God and other women alike.

I don't ever want to rush through prayer because I'm in a hurry to get back to my own conversation. I want to put my gratitude to the Lord for His provision before all else. And if someone does happen to hear or see me, I want them to be convicted themselves of how they speak to the Living God.

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I sa…

Sadie's Spot

Each of our pets has her own personality. Even brothers and sisters may look alike, but they're each their own creature. Bailey and Sadie may look like siblings, but Bailey is four months older. They came from different shelters in different counties, but they've become closer than many human sisters I know. They're sisters at heart.

One of the best parts of Sadie's personality is her gullibility. (She believes the word "gullible" itself isn't even in the dictionary.) She's the kind of puppy that will go chase the invisible ball when you pretend to throw it. She'll head to the door barking if you tell her someone's there, even though she didn't hear anything. She's just fun to play with.

This is my favorite game Sadie plays. Enjoy a rousing game of "Take the Spot!"



Some days it takes so little...

My Proverbs 31 Woman Project

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If you've ever read Elizabeth George's book Beautiful in God's Eyes, then your familiar with her concept of the Proverbs 31 Woman Project. She uses verse 16 as a motivator to create a vision for your home, life and finances.

She considereth a field and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she plantheth a vineyard. Proverbs 31:16
In addition to her daily household chores, the lovely Proverbs 31 woman created two of her own businesses and was able to add to her family's monetary resources. By devoting ourselves to God's goals for our life and using the creativity and ingenuity He's given us, we can do the same thing.
A couple of years ago when I first read this book, I had just finished teaching a year-long series in our Ladies' Sunday School Class called The 12 W's of the Christian Woman. I also called it The Lesson That Blew Up. I had every intention of teaching one lesson with just a handful of words that all started with the letter W. But by the time I…

Turkey BLT

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During the broiling evenings of summer in South Carolina, there's nothing that makes us sag even more than the thought of heating up the oven to make dinner. Adding heat to more heat just isn't a pleasing proposition.

In that train of thought, one of the most classic of sandwiches can be the perfect alternative to long, warm baking times. This turkey BLT is a great twist on the popular meal.

The bread: If you're a traditionalist, the only bread you can use for a BLT is standard white. It's what we had when we were little, so it seems appropriate. If you're willing to veer away from the norm, use a thick, whole grain bread for texture and taste. My favorite, though, is a toasted English muffin.

The sauce: Most people use mayo, especially light or fat free if they're trying to stay somewhat healthy. In reality you can use whatever condiments you like to add some zing or to tie everything together. Use sparingly so none of the other flavors will be overpowered.

The le…

Altered Board Book

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I love being able to re-purpose things for my crafting needs. Not only is it being a good steward of the things God has given me, but I can practice being creative, thinking up new uses for old pieces.

This board book is the perfect example. Its shape and size caught my eye first, and then I realized what it could become. And Psalm 100 is just the right length for a book this size!
Here's the before and after:

There are all kinds of books and objects out there that you can turn into your own album or Scripture book. All you have to do to make your own is cover each half of the page individually with decorator paper, and then embellish. I added computer-printed Scripture so I could make them the size I wanted. Keep the 3D elements out of the areas where the pages overlap or you'll squish them.This altered board book, along with many other Christian gifts and cards, can be found in my etsy shop. Go to www.stufffromtrees.etsy.com.

An Important Talk With Your Husband

It's become quite clear over the past weeks and months that the devil is actively attacking families. We've seen more arguments, fights, separations and divorces recently than ever before. This is a sad, scary battle that we have to fight just as ferociously.

One component of married life that he would like to destroy most is conversation. I don't know about you, but Danny and I don't get to talk as much as I'd like. As the wife of an undertaker there are probably times when I don't particularly need to hear from him at work, but the more we can talk with our husbands, the tighter the hold God can have on our lives.

A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good it is! Proverbs 15:23

The Scriptures are chock full of God-inspired instruction on how to use our words. The first and most important person we should be using this godly speech with is our husband. Think of the joy you can bring into your home with just a spoken respo…

A Tisket, A Tasket

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Is there such a thing as too many baskets in one house?
I sure hope not because there are many, many baskets in ours. Our Ladies Sunday School class started a missions basket project several years ago, so I started basket shopping. We load them up with all sorts of toiletries and small goodies for preachers' and missionaries' wives as they're passing through one of our services. I wanted certain kinds of baskets, but found all kinds for other uses along the way.
The long, heavy ones are great for collecting up all the supplies you need to have readily accessible. This one, for example, is where I keep those scrapbooking tools that I need handy. I can grab it quick and move it wherever I want, plus I don't have loose pieces all over the table, the room, the floor, the house...
The big tall baskets are perfect for books. This one is in my prayer closet, right next to my chair. I can pile in my Bible, prayer list, praise journal, study books and other notebooks I'm wri…

Spiritual Nutrition

I've been doing a lot of reading and research lately about feeding both the body and the soul. For some reason I've been extremely hungry for the Word lately, and I've spent a lot of time in my Bible and reading what other Christian women are doing to feed their soul.

So my questions for you today are: What do you do or where do you go for spiritual nutrition? When you're feeling hungry and empty, how do you find the satisfaction from God you need? If you could spend your time this week feeding any way you want, what would you choose?

For me personally, I love to curl up in my prayer closet and read - the Bible for starters, and then biographies of Christian women, commentaries on God's Word and blogs from women who are living everyday lives for Christ. That's how I get the nutrition I need to keep going in my service for the Lord.

Take some time to think and pray about these ideas, and then leave your thoughts for us all to share and feed on.

A Forever Home

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We took Cayenne back to the shelter yesterday, and I sneezed almost the entire time we were there. I'm sure the sweet woman who greeted us at the door had no question why we had to bring her back. And she was fabulous about letting me hug her one more time, and then she shooed us out the door so I wouldn't cry right there in the shelter. So I waited until we got out the door...

So we are a four-member family again. As heart-breaking as it was at the time, it was nice to sleep until the alarm went off this morning. True, there were no purrs at my feet, vibrating me awake, but that's something to get used to. There is joy in God's mercies every morning, and that is where my joy comes from.

So here are a few of my favorite Cayenne pictures, just so I can remember for a few minutes.







She's not dead, she's just moving on the the next stage of life like we are. I know she's getting ready to go to her forever home, so that makes me happy. And I will never forget the t…

Don't Let Debt Distract You

Society has instilled in most recent generations that debt is normal. College kids are signed up for credit cards before they even know the basics of budgeting and saving. Young couples want the things their parents have without going through the decades of work to get them. Credit makes debt easy, which can be incredibly dangerous.

The devil can use debt and money worries as a ball and chain to keep us from serving God with all we have. How can we tithe if there's no money in the account? How can we support missions if we're waiting for payday just to keep our head above water? How can we keep our homes the way the Lord has planned when our thoughts are consumed with debt?

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Matthew 6:24

If a Christian woman can be torn from completely focusing on God's plan for her life, she can't be serving with all her…

Say Sushi Chef Five Times Fast

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Danny treated me to lunch at my favorite sushi restaurant yesterday. In the very near future I'll tell you why. (If that doesn't keep you reading, I don't know what will.)
We've been thinking about making sushi while we have company around next week, so this trip was a little recon mission. We made some about a year and a half ago and it was so much fun!

Sushi is one of my all-time favorite foods - one of those I could have every day if it were physically possible. We experimented with some flavors and made some combinations that may not be known to other sushi chefs.
If the thought of eating raw fish worries you, just remember that only a few sushi rolls actually contain raw fish. Some contain fully cooked fish, or none at all. And you can substitute any ingredients in a roll if the rest sound really great.As you can see, ours didn't turn out in the perfect shape, but they tasted fabulous! One of my favorites was topped with kiwi fruit slices...not culturally accur…

A Love of Layers

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I can always tell when my paper-crafting creativity has all flown away - I find myself slapping a sticker on a piece of paper and calling that good. It looks like something I made in kindergarten, and then I feel silly and start over.

The key to making any project, paper crafting or otherwise, look finished and put-together is to build up its layers. We put pillows on a couch, we hang pictures over the wallpaper and we layer towels on the rack in the guest bathroom. The same concept applies to crafting.

Add layers gives depth and dimension. I could have used paper here that already had this pattern on it, but it have been flat and very boring. By layering the circles and adding a metal buckle, each layer can pop off the page.



Dressing up something plain with a tiny embellishment can make all the difference. Yes, this photo mat would have looked just fine with two layers of paper, but adding one more layer - the metal brad - makes both contrast and added dimension.


Creating layers draws th…

She Strengtheneth Her Arms

I am now in the third week of my fifth time through the P90X workout program. By following their 90-day exercise schedule, which includes weight lifting, plyometrics, yoga and kenpo karate, along with their nutrition plan, you can see drastic changes.

But why would I put myself through all that? Some women tell me that they'd never want to sweat like that, or they just don't have time to exercise to that level. And no, I never say it's so I can show off my "guns" or go run a marathon. The reason I exercise is simple:

She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. Proverbs 31:17

In that picture of the perfect example of a woman God lays out in the book of Proverbs, she is busy all day and through part of the night. She cares for her home and her family, she runs two businesses and she handles a staff and the shopping. Sound like anyone you know personally?

If I want to be able to serve God to the best of my ability, I have to have strength and stamin…

Keep A Well-Stocked Medicine Cabinet

We were both a little under the weather over the weekend. I woke up one morning with a terrible sore throat and Danny spent most of Sunday nursing a migraine. We were both so pitiful, but blessedly not at the same time.

I was also blessed to find headache medicine in the cabinet. We're never really sure if it helps, or if it's the sleep and cold compress that do the trick. As for me, I found a couple of throat drops in there too, but they weren't the kind I thought we had. That, along with finding several things I didn't know we still had, opened my eyes to the importance of having what you need in the medicine cabinet.

For emergencies:
* pain reliever
* band-aids of several sizes
* hydrogen peroxide or other cleaner
* ice packs
* Neosporin or other salve
* cotton balls and Q-tips
* medical tape
* tweezers
* burn cream
* butterfly closures
* liquid bandages

For those little health concerns:
* thermometer
* throat drops
* sore throat spray
* medicine for nausea
* an allergy medicine
* cold…

Time Well Spent

If your life is anything like mine this summer, you're just as busy now as you were the previous six months of the year. We're jam-packed with visitors and vacations and the normal everyday things that keep us busy and tax our minds.

* Cleaning the house every day is hard work, and it takes some time.

* Planning meals and shopping for food is hard work, and it takes some time.

* Keeping up my creativity and running a home business is hard work, and it takes some time.

* Maintaining my Bible reading and prayer schedules is hard work, and it takes some time.

* Staying in touch with friends and family is hard work, and it takes some time.

* Writing checks for the 106 missionaries that our church supports is hard work, and it takes some time.

* Running around the neighborhood every day with the girls is hard work, and it takes some time.

* Exercising and taking care of my body is hard work, and it takes some time.

* Providing for my husband's needs and wants is hard work, and it takes …

Celebrate Summer On The Cheap

We all have plans for the summer months - barbecues, travel, stay-cations, decorating and play dates in the back yard. The high temperatures seem to drive us to be busier in the name of summer fun.

And then comes the reality of summer spending. We have to have new this and that just to have a little fun. There is our summer reading list, vacation expenses and the need for summer clothes. Not to mention what you'll spend if you want to entertain.

Instead of shelling out tons of money for your summer plans, hit the right stores and you'll clean up on all your activities. Check the library for your favorite books. Look at the clearance racks before you look anywhere else. Make use of those coupons that you get the in mailbox.

Then there are my two shopping staples: the thrift shop and the dollar store. Keep your spending to a minimum by checking them first, and then head elsewhere. The following is just a sample of what I found available this week.


Thrift Shop:
* Luggage
* Clothes
* Pho…

A Little Inspiration

This weekend my friend Renee took me to Laura's Tea Room in Ridgeway, South Carolina. For pictures, directions and schedules, go here: http://laurastearoom.com/ It was some much-needed girl time and exactly what we needed. It's a sweet shop on the corner of a picturesque town, and the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of capitol city living for a while.

But what I didn't realize was that I would get a jump-start to my culinary creativity.

If you're searching for some great, fresh ideas for cooking, decorating and entertaining, look no further than your favorite restaurants. While we were out this weekend, I noticed that the most memorable, special places we go are the ones that make the dining experience fun and extraordinary.

There were several tables in the tea room, none 0f them alike. Each one was color-coordinated and everything matched like they were designed that way. We were served on antique dishes, with matching napkin rings and silverware. There we…

Egg Carton Cupcake Gift Boxes

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This weekend I needed a great gift idea. My dear sweet friend Renee took me out for a girls' day (more info on that tomorrow), which was desperately needed. So to say thank you, I made her these mini cupcakes in a very special carrying case.

If you use a mini muffin pan, one cake mix will make around 60 tiny cupcakes. Only bake for about 15 minutes so they don't over bake and disintegrate.

While the cupcakes are cooking away, clean and dry two empty egg cartons. Decorate them for whatever theme you're planning. I hand-stamped my favorite friendship verse on the top and accented them with layers of paper flowers and a metal brad. Around the edge are coordinating stickers that cover up all the egg-related verbiage.

When the cupcakes have cooled, load them into the egg cartons. Decorate them inside the case so you don't have to try and move them, unless you really want messy cakes and frosting on your fingers. (Hmm...no.) For these cupcakes I used the Pillsbury frosting in a…

Our Titus Older Women

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Our Ladies Sunday School class has been going through the most wonderful series of lessons for the past several months. Instead of the same teachers teaching in rotation, each member of the class has been standing up to give her testimony. Some are only a few minutes, while others take the whole class time. Regardless of the length, these are the most beautiful stories ever told.

Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the LORD. 2 Kings 22:19

One of my beautiful Titus older women is our former pastor's wife, Sister Onie Fleming. She served by her husband's side at Alpine Baptist Church in Columbia, South Carlina, for 36 1/2 years. But when she told her story this Sunday morning she didn't tell church stories or recount all t…

Keeping Your Home's Cool

It seems like just a few weeks ago we were wearing sweaters and cuddling under the comforter at night. Now we've changed to the summer quilts and short sleeves. And if you've looked at your last couple of gas and electric bills, you've seen a difference there too.

So what's a conscientious woman to do to both cool the house and save some money? While a trip to the Antarctic sounds good right about now, there are lots of tricks to staying cool in your own home.

Outside:
* Use awnings on the west, east and north sides of the house.
* Find out of all your insulation is in good shape and up to date.
* For the long-term, plant a tree. It will take a few years to completely develop, but great landscaping can help you cool your home tremendously.
* Have an expert come and inspect your air conditioning unit's effectiveness.
* Check for leaks around the doors and windows.

Inside:
* Use window coverings. Especially during the hottest hours of the day, keep shades and blinds pulled.
* …

In The Dead Of The Afternoon

One of the joys of how God created woman is that we're pretty in-tune with our bodies. We quickly learn what foods give us energy, when the best times to get up and go to bed are, and how to exercise to reach our full potential.

We should all become familiar with how our body rhythms affect our day. It's not new-age mumbo jumbo - it's simply understanding when you are at your most productive. If you pay attention for a few days, you'll clearly see the patterns of energy and mood in your own body.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I don't function well early in the morning, so I wait until later to write or craft. Instead, I will do laundry and clean - things I can do without too much thinking. I also know that I need a high-protein breakfast or I will fade quickly. It doesn't make much sense to try and push my mind and body to go beyond what they're capable of. Instead I can wait for a better time when my body rhythms are more suited for thinking and act…

Treating Cay's Ears

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The poor Cay-Cay kitty has been traumatized lately. She's made three trips to the vet's office in two weeks. She knows now that every time the cat carrier comes out that she's headed somewhere she doesn't want to go. She's a cat, not stupid.

Cayenne has had an ear infection for a few weeks now. It was nothing to be concerned over, but we needed to have it taken care of. The combination of my allergies, Sadie's allergies and some family members' allergies have made it necessary for us to return her to the shelter we got her from. It has been absolutely heart-breaking, but for the health of all involved, it has to be done.

So we had Cay's physical done and got all check marks on everything except her ears. She has always had some build-up in them, but she doesn't scratch them or clean them too much. If you didn't see it when you're cleaning them, you'd never know she had a problem.

But in order to accept her back, the shelter said she had to …

Making A Deposit In Your Memory Bank

Money concerns are everywhere - do we have enough to cover bills, how can we afford what we need, will there be anything left when we retire? And there are so many places to turn to try and find ways to save, to invest wisely, to be good stewards of God's money and to make sound financial decisions.

But I want to step away from all of that money talk for a minute.

Are we so wrapped up in finances and the future that we're forgetting to enjoy the present? I don't know about you, but money is tight right now. Yes, there are some immediate concerns and there are more on the way, I'm sure. Our financial situation is near the top of my prayer list every morning. I know that if I don't turn it over to God right off the bat, my day will be clouded with thoughts of bank accounts and debit cards.

I'd really like to do a 180-spin. I want to be so focused on God's immediate plan for my life that there's no time to think about our lack of "things." If I'…

Make Use Of Your Leftovers

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Danny and I have both started back on our workout plans this week, which means replacing all the food in the house with the stuff we should have been eating all along. It also means rethinking the way I cook and use the ingredients around the house.

One evening I made a fabulous throw-together dinner with just four ingredients - all of which were leftovers from the past two days. All I used was rice, mixed vegetables, diced chicken and Zesty Italian dressing (just enough to taste). It fits everything in our nutrition guide and tasted wonderful.

After mixing them all together and heating them up, I was able to wash up those four plastic containers, freeing up tons of space in the refrigerator. Plus I didn't have to use a single pot or pan, and since I used the microwave to reheat the leftovers, it was just in minutes and I didn't heat up the oven for anything. That's the way to cook on a hot summer evening.

So what's in your fridge this evening, just waiting to get mixed t…