Thursday, September 30, 2010

Best Popovers Ever!

The only magazines I subscribe to anymore are either food-related or business-related. While one is informational and productive, the other is pure escapism!

In a recent issue of Country Living, I found this amazingly simple, incredibly tasty popover recipe. It was a reader submission from a woman in Connecticut and I fell in love with it!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
4 tbsp unsalted butter

1. Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Beat eggs and milk in a separate bowl. Slowly pour the wet mix into the dry and stir until combined and just slightly lumpy. Let sit for 30-60 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place one small pat of butter into the bottom of a 12-cup muffin pan or two 6-cup popover pans. Heat pan until butter is melted, just a minute.

3. Fill cups 3/4 full. Bake about 20 minutes, until they are puffed and golden. Serve warm!

I actually used almond milk for our recipe because that's all we drink now. They turned out a little less puffy, but super-duper moist. If you want to cut down on grease, use just enough butter to coat the bottom of the muffin cup.

Thank you, Country Living, for a new staple in our recipe book!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Personalized Switch Covers

Part of the fun that comes with keeping a home is being able to add all the little touches. With the first full week of Autumn behind us, it's time to add a fall feel in some small ways.

This light switch cover is the perfect way to start. While you can use any theme you'd like, I'm ready for some signs that it's almost October.

Start with an inexpensive, plastic cover. I chose ivory to offset the fall colors I was using. You can find them in the home improvement section of any department store for less than a dollar.

Choose your embellishments wisely. Remember that the piece will be hanging vertically on the wall, so heavy pieces or anything not securely attached will fall with gravity. You also want to be very careful about overlapping anything onto the back of the cover. In case of a spark from the light switch itself, you don't want anything back there that could catch fire.

So I used lots of rub-ons, sticky embellishments that add some dimension without creating bulk or weight. First were the borders across the top and bottom. Then I added some random scrolls, pine cones and leaves.

A 3D chipboard scroll in the top corner adds some great texture. And most important: the Worship The King label across the bottom fit perfectly. Then use the included screws to attach it over the switch, being careful not to scuff or tear the embellishments.

These make great gifts - coordinate a light switch and outlet cover set. Make a princess one for a little girl, race cars for a boy or plaid and paisley for teenagers. For more sophisticated rooms you can match colors and patterns from the furniture or change them with the seasons.

This light switch cover, along with many other gifts and cards, are available for purchase in my etsy shop. Come visit at www.stufffromtrees.etsy.com.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Protecting The Eye Gates

Has God ever showed you something that He'd like you to work on in your spiritual life? It might have been some sin, or something you've overcome that you can help others with, or maybe you've been given a burden for someone or some issue.

So when you see other people committing that sin, it should rub you the wrong way. If God helped you overcome alcohol abuse, watching people purchase liqueur at the grocery store should bother you. If you used to use foul language, hearing curse words should make you bristle. If the Lord helped you through living in an abusive home, it should make your skin crawl hearing about child abuse.

Now, it takes quite a bit to make me angry, but I was furious while we were driving on our recent trip to Houston. It's terribly difficult for those of us who are trying to keep our eye gates pure when you're traveling. In one stretch of road in particular I was fuming – Danny saw me in the rear view mirror and said I looked fit to be tied.

It started with a whole series of billboards for an adult store – advertising in big, bold letters what they had for sale. In between those was a sign for a telecommunications company, with a bikini-clad girl holding up the product for all to see. Then came ads for alcohol and tobacco products with the same type of revealing proclamations.

Then a car pulled over into the lane in front of us, forcing us to read the name of a nasty web site for several minutes. That name is now burned into my brain, regardless of what I wanted.

Flaunting sexual sin is nothing new, but it's like a blinking neon sign when it's something God has called you away from in your own walk. I cherish my relationship with Danny. My husband and I are working every day to grow a tight, committed, loving marriage, and that is severely tested when temptations are everywhere. Even if trust and devotion aren't in question, it's a struggle to protect your eye gates from sin.

Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. Proverbs 5:15

It's such a challenge to keep focused and pure when you're faced with temptation constantly. We can censor what comes into our homes and we can be cautious about where we go. But when someone else places words and images in front of us, it can be frustrating and discouraging. The devil just loves to wreak havoc on your mind, making you think and question and stew on things.

I have learned the hard way that ignoring those evil thoughts is one of the hardest things a woman has to do every day. We fight a battle of the mind continually to think on those things that are good and pure and true. Bombarded with evil, our eyes gates are attacked whether we want them to or not, and the same goes even more so for our husbands.

Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied. Proverbs 27:20

Despite all the wickedness we will be forced to see, God gives us the strength and endurance to live a life pure and holy for Him. If our eyes are on Him and in the Scripture, the attack won't seem so devastating. If our eyes are focused on our husbands and growing that relationship, there won't be room for hurt and misunderstanding. If our eye gates are locked to those evils we can control, we'll be more equipped to fight the ones we can't control.

The Lord said in Scripture many times that life on this earth would be a battle. He inspired Paul to write about the whole armor of God that would protect in any situation. His defenses are sufficient.

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:14-17

So put on the armor, the whole armor, of God and He will give your eyes gates what they need to be protected. Trust in Him when you can't trust in the ways of the world.

Monday, September 27, 2010

For The Love Of The Game

September is my favorite time of year. Not only is it cooling off a little and nature is starting to turn colors, but baseball season and football season overlap. There's so much sports action that you can get swept away for hours watching your favorite teams and players.

I grew up in a Yankee-loving home. When I saw the Dream Team win the basketball gold medal in the 1992 Olympics, I knew I wanted to do something sports related. I have fibromyalgia so playing was out of the question, but journalism was the perfect place for me.

Since then I've written about sports for newspapers, I've called games on the radio and I've worked in sports information at two colleges. Sports allowed me to combine my love of writing and my enjoyment of competition. Safely. Without spraining anything.

So fall comes along and I can get a healthy dose of games. There's the Braves in a heated battle to win their division. There's the Alabama football team defending their national championship. It's exciting, it's fun and it's time set aside to be with my husband.

Do I agree with all of the attitudes and advertising in sports? No, I don't. Do I agree with giving all young athletes trophies and ribbons so everyone feels like a winner? No, I don't. What I do enjoy about sports is setting a standard and expecting your team to reach it. Yes, there is disappointment when you watch and when you play, but that's part of the game. There will always be winners, losers, terrible efforts and tremendous performances.

The danger in sports is when the Christian allows the game to take over everything. I've seen sports become more important than family, than friends, than God Himself. When a game becomes an idol rather than a pastime, it's beyond time for a heart-attitude check up.

It is fine to enjoy sports, to be knowledgeable about sports or to support certain teams. The problem is that there are people who can rattle off statistics, but can't name the books of the New Testament.We get out of balance when more of our time is spent watching or playing sports (or some other activity), but we don't spend more than a few minutes a day in prayer or in Bible study. Our priorities in life should be glorifying and honoring to Him.

But if I'm balanced, honoring God with my time and not neglecting my service to Him, there are many opportunities to relax. Enjoying sports is a fabulous entertainment outlet, in moderation. I'm looking forward to a few more weeks of baseball and watching my Tide roll over the competition. For the love of the game...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Productive Time vs Personal Time

Have you found yourself in a rut lately? Feel like you're doing the same things repeatedly without any real enjoyment?

A preacher we know says that a rut is just a grave with the ends kicked out. That's not the place I want to be in my life, so there comes a time when you have to kick yourself out of your rut.

Usually I press through my day to get as much done as I can - I feel most productive when I'm crossing things off my to-do list. I have set priorities for the day so that the most important things get done first. When trying to run a home business, teach piano lessons, serve the church and take care of my home and husband, lists and priorities are super important.

But when I get up in the morning tired and cranky and not in the mood to do much of anything, that's when I realize that I'm in a rut. You must know that feeling, too, because everyone goes through them. We push ourselves to the limit to be productive and then burn ourselves out.

Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. Psalm 116:7-8

There's a precious balance between serving the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul, and doing things just to be productive. The sweetest times I have are when I'm in Bible study and journal writing - quiet time with the Lord, not busy time with my calendar and to-do list.

Yes, there is much to do, but there is also much time to do it in. Have you ever considered scheduling in some personal time just to break things up and keep yourself sane? Put it down in writing just like you would pencil in a doctor's appointment or a trip to the post office. Hold yourself to that time just so you have a chance to recharge and prepare your mind and body for the next leg of the race.

What do you do for personal time when it comes along? Do you enjoy reading? Crafting? Long walks with your dogs? Family time? Choose something out of the ordinary and completely refreshing, even if you only have a few minutes. That "me" time can pull you out of your rut quickly and put you back in step with God's plan for your day.

He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me. 2 Samuel 22:20

God enjoys us. Are we enjoying Him? The Lord delights in spending time with us, watching us grow and serving Him to the fullest. But imagine His disappointment when we're working at the grind stone and not enjoying what we're doing. Sometimes the only solution is some personal time with the Lord to pray, to read His Word and to reconnect with His desire for our lives.

If we plow through the day trying to be productive, we'll miss the delight that God has placed along the way. Our walk with the Lord is more precious than anything, and sometimes a planned rest stop along the journey puts it all back in perspective.

So go read a book, bake your favorite goodies, give yourself a manicure, listen to your favorite music or do a really great craft. Turn off your mind for a while, let God have His way in your heart and recommit yourself to serving Him. It's not about the quantity of productive time you have, but the quality in the balance you create.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

When Is It Time To Call The Vet?

If I took my little dog to the vet every time she had an upset stomach, we could take out stock in that man's office. Sadie has an insatiable appetite, swallows most of her food with barely a chew and doesn't mind eating an entire stick while we're sitting outside. After the tummy grumbles go away in a day or two, she's back to her normal self.

Bailey, on the other hand, is the picture of health. She loves to run, will curl up at your feet all day and can't wait for our morning walks. If she doesn't feel good, you definitely know it.

So when is it time to call the vet's office? It's not always clear if your pet is having a little irritation or a serious problem because they can't communicate verbally how they feel. (Unless you have a breed that howls and cries about everything.)

There are a few sure signs that professional treatment is necessary, so look for them closely.

* Extreme temperature change, from weather or exposure
* Cuts or wounds that are open and bleeding
* Broken bones, possible trauma or other accidents
* Breathing difficulties like chronic coughing, gasping or inhaling water
* Difficulty urinating and defecating
* Eye injury, irritation or discharge
* Excessive vomiting or diarrhea - anything more than two or three times an hour
* Seizure, fainting or collapse - anything where they are unresponsive
* Allergic reactions, swelling or color change
* Ingestion of anything not normally "pet food"
* Any animal, snake or spider bites
If there is any question in your mind about whether it's time to call the vet, call. They're the professionals and can give you the best guidance. When in doubt, side on the side of your pet's health.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Coupons, Coupons Everywhere!

If you're like me, anything that saves you a little more money at the grocery store is a fabulous idea! It's where we spend a bulk of our weekly budget, or more often depending on your cravings, so a few dollars here and there can really add up.

Our Food Lion installed this coupon machine at their front door a few weeks ago. I don't know if they're everywhere else already and we're just now getting one, but they are incredibly wonderful. You just scan your frequent buyer card and it prints out coupons that coordinate with what you normally buy.

You can save anywhere from 50 cents to several dollars based on the sales they're having. The items change frequently, so the coupons are different every time you go in. The coupon is also good for just that day, so you'll find extra coupons around the store that other customers didn't use.

Check around and find out if any of your local stores have this same coupon machine. Sometimes it can be worth it to buy certain items in certain stores if you can combine coupons and sales. A lot of stores are trying desperately to help you save money, and then they can keep your business. This is one of those ways that benefits them and your wallet.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fall Baking

I've heard this wonderful rumor that fall is here...somewhere. Here in South Carolina we're still celebrating mid-90's every afternoon, but some of the trees are making fun of us. On our morning walk yesterday I realized that several of them were changing color and dropping their leaves - they're going by time of year and not temperature, apparently.

Wherever you are today, you can celebrate the ushering in of fall with some typically autumn treats. Fall baking pans, cupcake liners, gelatin molds and other once-a-year items are out in abundance, so look for something special.

I found a leaf-shaped Nordic mini-cake pan on sale after the fall season last year, so I had just had to pull it out. Combine that with cupcakes in my Lodge muffin pan and we were set for a while. There's something about seeing leaves and tiny cupcakes that makes it feel a little cooler - maybe it was just the air conditioner turned down a little more.

I used a box spice cake for both kinds of treats, but you can always pull out one of those great old recipes from those dusty cookbooks. (I have many of them in that condition, so I will assume that you do, too.) The butter cream frosting was the perfect finishing touch, and these cakes were so little that there was plenty to pile on. So much for my P90X nutrition guide for a day!

So I wish you a happy fall and great baking! Even if the outside world doesn't seem like autumn, we can make it smell that way in the kitchen.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Prayer Journal

This is by far my favorite item to make and sell in my etsy shop. All of my pieces are special and important in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but there is just something about a prayer journal that touches my heart.




1. Wrap decorator paper over the top of the notebook, covering the advertising.

2. Cut the short side of an 8.5x11 piece of card stock to fit the height of the notebook. Adhere the notebook centered right side of the card stock with the strongest adhesive you have.


3. Fold the left edge of the card stock over, creasing it along the edge of the notebook to create the cover. Mark and trim off any overhang on the right side.





4. And now comes the fun part! Decorating the cover with layers of decorator paper and embellishments is truly my heart. And this is my favorite Scripture to use for a prayer journal - one of two or three that I love.

This journal even has a special 3D name plate on the bottom band for you to write the recipient's name. I love that special touch for a gift!

This prayer journal, along with many other cards and gifts, can be purchased in our etsy shop: http://www.stufffromtrees.etsy.com/.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

An Old-Fashioned Bouquet Service

We had the most wonderful day of services on Sunday. Our preacher had the liberty to preach all day and really got our minds working and our hearts stirred.

After the evening preaching we had an old-fashioned bouquet service. I had never been in one before, but it was the most fantastic time of love, fellowship and appreciation - we really needed it!

If you've never been in one either, the idea is to share flowers and love now instead of waiting to spend money on a funeral spray, once it's too late. Everyone brings flowers from their garden or a pre-made bunch from the store and they're all cut to be boutonnieres.

The church's Pastor Emeritus had us pin the Preacher and his wife first, and then everyone had the opportunity to take as many flowers as they wanted and pin as many people as they wanted. The beauty of this service was that it became an opportunity to apologize, give thanks and tell someone that needed it how much you love them.

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you. Philippians 1:3 KJV

Our Preacher and Pastor Emeritus were covered in flowers, a true testament to their impact on our congregation. Others had them stuck in button holes, tucked behind their ears and one woman even made some special ones with butterflies in them.

It was such a powerful evening for everyone - no one left without a flower, we made sure of that. Even a young visiting couple received flowers and hugs.
We tend to wait until serious times to share how we really feel, but this bouquet service showed us just how important constant edification and affection are.

I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. Song of Solomon 2:1 KJV

Monday, September 20, 2010

I've Been Hacked!

It amazes me what lengths man will go through to be evil.

Danny got an e-mail from me the other night that I did not send. He knew I did not send it because I was nowhere near my computer when it was sent. This is a very scary feeling, not knowing what's being done in your name.

When I signed into my e-mail, it was clear that someone had hacked into my account and sent a link in an untitled e-mail message. And because they could get into my contacts list, they sent it to about a dozen random people - relatives, friends and even a former boss.

I refused to click on the link to see what it was - that's just opening a can of worms...possibly literally. So I quickly sent my own e-mail warning my entire contact list not to open this e-mail or any others that appeared fishy. Then I canceled that account, one that I had for many, many years. I think that irritated me as much as anything.

I beg you to be careful about what you do and don't do online. There is so much potential for evil through the computer, and this is just a basic example.

* Please, let everyone you send messages to know that you won't ever send them e-mails without a title or strange links with no explanation.

* Please, use the software your computer has to identify any places that are susceptible to hacking. You can check for spyware and adware and all kinds of nasty, evil lCheck Spellingittle things lurking on your system.

* Please, don't go on any weird sites that might even possibly be attached to anything. If you do a search on some topic, don't go to web address that you aren't very familiar with. That's where hackers hide out looking for new computers.

* Please, log out of your account when you're done sending messages. It's like leaving the door open at night with the light on. It takes two seconds to log back in.

* And please, report any suspicious e-mails to your account host. They need to be aware of what's happening on their site so they can stop it.

Protect yourself now so you don't have to try and fix a situation later. Believe me, it's not a fun way to spend the evening.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fight Neglect, Use Your TIme For Sweetness

Everywhere you look you'll see how the devil is trying to destroy marriages. He'd like nothing better than to breed neglect and apathy in our relationships with our husbands. If they wither away, we can't serve the Lord as a team in the ways He has planned for us.

Did you realize that in just five minutes a day you can support your husband, give him your love, make him laugh, and solidify your relationship? Here are 30 ideas for how to do all those things - use one a day for the next month and see how your marriage can blossom.

1. Write a love note. Tuck it in his wallet, sock drawer or computer bag.

2. Send an e-mail with a cute cartoon attached.

3. Surprise him with a phone call at work. Make sure you leave a message if he can't answer.

4. Offer an evening foot rub. Believe me...this works wonders!

5. Turn off the television and eat together at the table.

6. Cook a favorite meal that you haven't made in ages.

7. Hold his hand as you walk through the parking lot.

8. Say something sweet about him to your friends and let him overhear you.

9. After you say goodbye in the morning, wait at the door and blow him a kiss.

10. Do one chore around the house that he's mentioned frequently.

11. Go for an evening walk together.

12. Scan the newspaper ads for something fun and different to do together.

13. Rent his favorite movie - then actually watch it with him, even if it's not your favorite.

14. Send him a text message that you're praying for him.

15. The next time you order pizza, rearrange the pepperoni in the shape of a heart.

16. When he comes home from work, drop whatever you're doing and greet him with a kiss.

17. Write "I love you" on the bathroom mirror with a little soap. It will suddenly appear with the steam from the shower.

18. Make a batch of cookies, brownies or cupcakes for him to share at work. He'll be thinking about your kindness all day.

19. Present him with a bowl full of Hersey's Kisses. Then he gets one from the bowl, and then a real one from you.

20. Before he leaves in the morning, ask if there's anything he needs you to do for him today. Or anything you can pray about for him.

21. Burn a CD of his favorite songs. Put it in the car's CD player so it will play when he starts the car in the morning.

22. Go somewhere outside of town and watch the stars come out.

23. Add something to his collection - whether it's books, CDs, ball caps or computer software. He'll appreciate that you understand him.

24. Have family altar time together.

25. Print out a great picture of yourself, the two of you together, or the entire family for him to carry in his wallet.

26. Run by while he's at work and secretly leave a flower and love note on the car seat.

27. Have an "unplugged" evening together. No phones, no television, no computers.

28. Put together some traditional sports food and watch his favorite team with him.

29. Find out what his favorite childhood dessert was and surprise him with it.

30. Scan your wedding photo and set it up as his computer wallpaper.

The time these ideas take doesn't matter - it's the effort that means everything. And remember that love and kindness aren't part of a to-do list, but an expression of your heart.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Bounce In Her Step

I've been walking my dogs for over 8 years now, and I had never noticed this until recently. Watch Bailey's ears while she trots...cutest thing ever!

video

Friday, September 17, 2010

Why Is Money A Touchy Topic?

Money is a difficult subject to discuss, especially in a poor economy. We're all looking for ways to save money, spend less and find ways to be prosperous financially. However, when advice is given and suggestions made, our defenses go up.

We're constantly talking about spending habits, giving encouragement to be better stewards of the money God has given, and we listen to preaching about tithing. Then the rubber hits the road and follow-through isn't so easy. We try to rationalize and work around the knowledge we're given because it doesn't suit how we picture our lives.

There's something special about leaving home as a young adult and finally getting to spend money on what we want. There's no one standing over us regulating our purchases or handing out an allowance. There is freedom in our finances, but we're not always equipped with the information necessary to be satisfied and financially sound.

We can also feel like we're being analyzed or judged, even in our own household. Too often we aren't on the same monetary page as our husband, so communication about finances is difficult. Without a soundboard and accountability partner, money flies out of the house as we don't even realize how quickly it's happening. That leads to being defensive about the choices we make and frustration when there's little money left at the end of the month.

What excuses would you try to use when you stand before God and explain how you used His resources? But Lord, I just loved those clothes and jewelry. I just had to have that new furniture, car, house, boat...whatever the case may be. We don't want to be told how we should be using that money, but God will look at the impact that spending had on your family, home and relationships.

In God's greater plan for our lives, money and finances are only important on one level. We can be as touchy about how we spend our own money as we want, but God will look at how we used it for His glory.

Having a positive attitude toward whatever you have been blessed with can drastically change the way we look at someone's advice, the amount of money we determine to save and how we choose the purchases we make. Satisfaction in God's blessings can change the way we look at the job we have, our husband's income and the cash flow of our home.

There may be times in the upcoming weeks and months when money is tight and we get frustrated. There may be pay checks that won't cover everything we had planned. There may even be days when we don't want to think about money at all. Those are the times when we need to fall to our knees and thank the Lord that His provision is always there. Money is a tiny thing in the grand scheme of things, especially when compared to His marvelous blessings.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Protein Pizza Muffins

This is currently my favorite Beachbody recipe! I'm back in the swing of P90X, so nutrition is of utmost importance for refueling. This pizza muffin recipe is perfect for an afternoon snack or for a meal to watch your portion control.

Ingredients:
1 whole-grain english muffin
tomato sauce
mozzarella cheese
grilled chicken, sliced
Italian seasoning

1. Slice the english muffin and lay flat on a nonstick baking sheet.

2. Top with tomato sauce, seasoning, chicken and cheese to personal preference.

3. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, until cheese is browned.

You can always play around with the toppings for this recipe. This week Danny made them with BBQ sauce and different cheeses, plus your choice of spices can make all the difference. I used leftover chicken that I cooked with onion powder, paprika, rosemary and course black pepper...yummy! Have fun experimenting!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bears and Their Chairs

Believe it or not, these adorable chairs are an answer to prayer. Danny surprised me with them the other day in two different ways. The first was that I didn't know he could make them, and the second was that he wanted them put in our etsy shop.



That was the answer to prayer part of the day. When we first opened Stuff From Trees, we were going to make it a collaborative effort. Danny does amazing work in his wood shop and I wanted to make cards. Both wood and paper come from trees, hence the name.

Well, when you're a funeral director and embalmer, spare time for hobbies is hard to find. I went ahead and built up our shop with paper crafts, still praying that God would bring our dream of a couple's project to fruition.

So when Danny brought these two tiny chairs into my craft room, I immediately sent up a thank you prayer. We now have something together that can strengthen us as a couple and grow our etsy shop. All in one little wooden chair.


These chairs are one-of-a-kind pieces that we will have available for special order. You let Danny know what size you want and he'll custom-make it just for you (or your bear, whatever the case may be). Go to http://www.stufffromtrees.etsy.com/ for more information.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

And He Took Him Aside

Sometimes I just want to get away from everything - just put the world on hold for a little while and regroup. Life itself can be overwhelming some days and there's nothing I can do on my own to get out from under it.

And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. Mark 7:32-35

The deaf mute was overwhelmed by his physical disabilities, and his friends knew that Jesus Christ was the only one who could change his life. They begged Jesus to work a miracle and take away his physical bonds and heal him.

But notice that Jesus didn't stand up in the midst of the crowd and announce that something miraculous was about to take place. He didn't advertise a healing or post an invitation in the town square. In fact, He did the exact opposite.

Jesus Christ took the man away from the multitude so they could be alone. This intimate, precious time with the Lord is what we crave right now when life gets overwhelming. The deaf mute didn't need an audience or the cheering crowd because it wasn't necessary. All he needed was a few moments with the Son of God to make everything clear again.

That same miracle is my prayer for today. I'm tired of going through life deaf and unable to speak. I need my Savior to take me aside, away from the multitude of the world, and touch my very soul. Everything that I need can be found in my private time with the Lord.

We don't need mega-churches or other large gatherings of believers to find God's peace and joy. We don't even need another human being to be content. All we need is the willingness to let Him lead us away for a while and find that spiritual renewing He loves to provide. Then we can return to the throng of daily life and tell everyone we meet what the Lord has done in our hearts.

Monday, September 13, 2010

God's Word In Plain Sight

One of the things God has convicted me of recently is having His Word in plain sight. My Bible time is powerful each morning, but there are so many times throughout the day when I need to be fed a little more. Having Scripture and other words of God's love surrounding me, my husband and anyone who enters my home is of eternally importance.


When you first walk into our home you'll see this plaque above the facing door. I got it for Danny the week after he got saved and it has had a special place ever since. I want to have those words hit my heart from the moment I come home.

My favorite souvenir from our trip to Mongolia, the script says: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles. Isaiah 40:31. Danny's parents are missionaries in Mongolia, so it has twice the meaning.

My grandmother always had this plate hanging in her kitchen and I remember from being a little girl. I always hated doing the dishes (still isn't my favorite chore) but I would look at this and get revived. It reads: Thank God for dirty dishes, they have a tale to tell. While other folks go hungry we are eating very well. With home, health and happiness we shouldn't want to fuss. For by this stack of evidence, God's been very good to us. Makes you stop to think.


My sweet friend Renee is always finding cute gifts for me, but this is one of the best. The flower is solar-powered and does a little dance when it's all charged up. Under the word friend is Proverbs 17:17:
A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. The most wonderful gifts have God's Word attached.


Danny was an Army trumpet player for over 20 years, so this picture has extra-special truth behind it. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Psalm 100:1. Even on the days I feel like just a noise, I can still be joyful in my Lord.


This was my gift to Danny on his first spiritual birthday. Jeremiah 17:7 reads: Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. I specifically put this right outside our bedroom door so he (we) have to see it anytime he comes and goes.


I adore my Boyds bears, especially the ones with chocolate! I have military bears, piano-playing bears and even a bear in a typewriter, but the ones that mean the most have God's love written all over them. I have the plush one you see here, and the matching resin piece, both in places I can see whenever I need a moment with the Lord.


I would love to do a Sunday School lesson based on this ornament. It's a Christmas piece but I leave it up all year 'round. The words down the front of the hearts are faith, hope, love, joy, peace and Jesus. On the back are the coordinating Bible verses: Galatians 2:20, Romans 15:13, Romans 5:5, Nehemiah 8:10, John 14:27 and Philippians 2:9-11. These words are precious 365 days a year.
Do you have God's Word in plain sight around your home? What are your favorites? I'd love to know what is precious and joyous to you.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Oh, I'd Make Time For THAT!

Have you ever heard yourself say, "There's just no time left in the day!" and then actually looked at your schedule? I've noticed in my own life that there are lots of things that I'll definitely make time for, even when I'm beyond busy.

We complain that there's no time to get all the housework done, but how much time do we spend shopping for clothes?

It seems like there's no time to squeeze in Bible study in the morning, but there's plenty of time to get on the Internet for a while.

Maybe we don't correspond with friends and family like we should, but we can spend several hours in front of the television each night.

The piles of papers around us continue to grow, but we're busy on the phone with our friends.

Our family never spends quality time outside of the house, but there's time to take on one more extra-curricular activity.

We tend to make time for the things we feel are most important, whether they truly are or not. I don't want to be the kind of woman who sits in front of the computer or television when there are things that need to be done. I pray that I'll balance out my schedule between the have-to's and the want-to's just so they all get done.

So what do you have in mind for your schedule this week? What are you willing to make time for to follow God's calling in your life? It may be rescheduling what you've got written in ink in your calendar, but the eternal benefits are worth it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

It's All About The Time

We were traveling for five days last week, and apparently that had a real affect on the girls, Bailey in particular. They stayed home with our house-sitting friends, and they weren't thrilled that we were gone. I'm terribly sorry that it wasn't more pleasant than it was, but everyone survived and the house is still standing. The girls get extra treats for that one.

So we'd been back in the house for about 10 seconds when it became clear that all our dogs wanted was our time and attention. We were still trying to unload the card and get settled in for some Chinese take-away, but two 55-pound black labs had other plans for us. I was "forced" to rub bellies, allow for the sniffing of clothes and get covered in puppy kisses.

And life couldn't be any sweeter.

It was a long five days being away from the dogs, but it must have been even longer for them. Danny asked if maybe the dog years theory works on time, too. If we were gone for five days, did it seem to them like we were gone for 35 days? Talk about separation anxiety!

And for them it wasn't about bringing them back a T-shirt or sending a post card from another state. All they wanted was some cuddle time and a couple of treats. Apparently the mindset of a puppy says that this moment, this very minute that we're living in right now, is the most important one ever. There's no past trauma or future concern like we humans have. It's just this glorious moment right now.

We walked yesterday morning for the first time in a week. You'd have thought they'd never been out of the house in their 8 years of life! That's when it really hit me that this was probably the best walk they'd ever walked, simply because it was the walk we were on right now. When we got back, we cuddled - probably the best cuddles we've ever had because they were the current, loving cuddles of the moment.

For our pets, it's all about our time and our attention. So let's share it in abundance today.

Friday, September 10, 2010

God Is Good...

...all the time!

Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. James 5:14-15

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for you prayers, notes and love this week. Danny's mother is doing wonderfully well, praise the Lord!

The surgery was a little shorter than they expected, but very thorough. They only had to remove the lump and one lymph node for testing - no mastectomy necessary! So far it looks like they took everything, but will do more testing in the next few days to make sure. She will have to go back in a couple of weeks for a radiology consultation, so we continue to pray for that.

The best part of the entire day was when we got her back to her hotel room that evening. She was still a little loopy from the medications, but she was up singing hymns and gospel music at the top of her lungs. Even on the worst of days, it's a blessing to see someone praising the Lord. (She even did a little two-step around the room, but don't tell her doctor.)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Do You Eat Differently When You Travel?

We're spending the last of our marathon days in the car today. We're only stopping to eat, stretch, use the facilities and get back on the road. It's good to travel and it's wonderful to come home. Just a few more hours!

The tricky part of the stopping to eat part can be deciding where. The first two meals we ate were at chain restaurants where we might have gone if we were back in South Carolina. N0thing special, just something we were craving.

Later we had a huge buffet dinner at the hospital's restaurant. We don't normally eat that way, but it smelled so good, and that was the family decision. They had a wide assortment of carve-while-you-watch ham and beef, beautiful fresh fish and the most wonderful dessert table. I tried to camp out by the brownies, but there's some silly rule...

Breakfast at a hotel usually means eating food that you don't normally make at home. You can find some pretty healthy meal choices, but there's also the temptation to overindulge or load up on something just because it's there and it looks good.

Do you eat at any of the local spots or stick to what you know?

Do you keep your normal eating schedule or do you eat whenever time allows?

Do you watch what you eat or is traveling a time of indulgence?

Please pray for our traveling mercies the rest of the day. And for where our next meal will be.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Stained Glass Window For Paper Crafting

One of the greatest parts of cleaning out your clutter is finding things you forgot you had. When I emptied out my craft room a couple of weeks ago, I found stamp sets and idea books that I hadn't seen in years - even moving boxes full that hadn't been opened, and we've been in our new house for almost a year and a half!

One of those sets was this beautiful fall Thinking Of You set that just looked to me like stained glass windows. This is one of those techniques that I've always heard about but never tried, so this set was the perfect opportunity.


1. Stamp the image with embossing ink. Use black embossing powder and heat emboss.



2. Color the image with colored pencils or watercolor pencils and a blending pen.


3. Cover the image with Liquid Glass. Let the image dry and then cut around the edges.

The finished pieces of stained glass can be used like any other 3D embellishments and adhered to the page using strong adhesive.
This card, along with many other cards and gifts, is available for purchase in my shop. Visit at http://www.stufffromtrees.etsy.com/.

Monday, September 6, 2010

We Covet Your Prayers

This week we are traveling to Houston to be with Danny's mother. She is having breast cancer surgery at the MD Anderson cancer center tomorrow, the second time she has had this done. She is a cancer survivor, and we are praying this will be double-true in a couple of days.

Please pray for Charlotte Carrell over the next few days. She is a missionary's wife and the sweetest mother-in-law ever. Pray for the family as we gather to support her, and pray for traveling mercies for all involved.

Have a fabulous day in the Lord and say a prayer for us every time we cross your mind. Thank you in advance!

I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers day and night. 2 Timothy 1:3

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Taking Time To Get Refocused

When I was in the second grade I got my first pair of glasses. I'd done so much reading in the first few years of my life that I was already near-sighted. The chalkboard was a little fuzzy, so off we went to the eye doctor. And I've needed them ever since.

Recently I took the leap and got contacts. Yes, a 33-year-old woman finally got contact lenses. It was definitely an adjustment because they're a little extra work than throwing your glasses on and forgetting about them. The contacts are weighted, and that took some getting used to. Since I very rarely get them in straight to begin with, it takes a little while for them to get centered. In the meantime everything looks a little hazy around the edges.

Isn't that how we head out into the world most days? We're in such a rush that the morning is still a little fuzzy...but that's alright. We'll manage, right? Just like my contacts, the world will get refocused at some point while we're hurrying through it, won't it?

Have you ever started a day...

1. Without prayer. Not spending time one-on-one with the Lord is like facing the day with just one contact lens in. You can struggle, you can close the other eye and try to focus, and you can even give up altogether. That's the hardship of a Christian woman without a prayer life. Taking a few minutes before the day starts puts everything back into focus and allows God to give direction and meaning. That should clear that vision right up!

2. Without a plan. Do you know everything that needs to be done this week or are you just going to wing it? You may have a general idea but the specifics are a little hazy around the edges. How can we be effective servants for the Lord if we're not even sure what needs to be accomplished today. Again, our prayer time will shed some light on the subject, but there's nothing quite so simple as a plan of attack.

3. Without a positive attitude. Stupid chores, silly errands, difficult people, cancel today for lack of interest. Yes, that's the attitude I'd like to contribute to the world today! But if each one of us can confront each situation of the day with God's love, we can have a profound impact on the people around us. Nothing takes away that morning fogginess like focusing on other people.

4. Without a partnership. But not with your husband, your family or your sisters in Christ. The only partnership that is truly going to matter today is the partnership with the Lord. Things are going to happen this week that will throw your vision out of focus. When you start to look a little cross-eyed at the world, rest in the partnership you have with God, listen to how He's directing your path and look at each situation through His eyes. Only then can you see things with crystal clarity.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Disrespectful Owner Situation

The morning routine around our house is pretty typical. Danny leaves for work by 7:30, and the girls and I walk him to the car. Then we continue on our walk for 15-20 minutes or until Sadie says it's time to go home. Hip Dysplasia out-votes everything.

The past couple of weeks have been a challenge for that walk time, though. At the far end of our street is a home that lets their dog loose to roam every morning at about the time we set out. Several times this big black dog has charged my girls causing all sorts of growling, barking, pulling and general confusion. One time we walked/pulled/trotted past as quickly as we could, and another we turned around and came back to the house.

Danny suggested that we take a different loop, heading the other way to circle around the conflicted area. This was a fabulous idea and we've done it several times, but it doesn't alleviate the problem. The dog is wandering further down our road now - I saw the neighbor across from us chasing him back down the street the other morning. If it's all the way down here now, who knows how far he'll go. And one morning this week I saw him running with another black dog - I think they're building a pack!

I have no idea what house he belongs to, I'm scared to take my girls down that direction and I'm a little tired of altering my route to appease someone else's pet. It may seem like a little thing, but I have to protect my girls if this dog's owner isn't going to take responsibility for his pet.

Do you have thoughts on the subject? What are your ideas for solving this annoying problem...no, drugs, guns and chemicals cannot be used. Please help us have pleasant walks again!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Curb Your Weekend Spending

The weekend is upon us, as Pay Day might also be. Most women will admit that these two events and SPENDING go hand in hand in hand. We've worked hard all week to rein in excess spending, but when the weekend hits we wreck all that effort.

So how can we combine self-control with some weekend R&R?

1. Fun doesn't mean mega-bucks. It means finding things to do that will draw your family closer together. Does spending money seeing a movie at the theater outweigh an evening camped out on the living room floor watching a movie? The treats are less expensive and you can take a bathroom break whenever you want. Check out local art museums, the park down the road or your own back yard. You'd be surprised at how much there is to do that doesn't cost a thing.

2. Take a break from window shopping. "I'm just going to look." How many times have I heard those words flowing freely from my lips...and then came home with two or three little bags? If you want to maintain your bank account you have two choices: don't shop or don't spend. If you don't have to go shopping, then don't go. If you want to go look, leave your pocketbook behind and just enjoy the experience without the temptation.

3. Plan your meals now. Instead of calling out for pizza or running to the Chinese take-away as a last-minute option, plan some meals for the weekend that will create lots of great leftovers. You'll have plenty for lunches both days, and then something to take to work and school on Monday. It's a lot more cost-effective and much tastier!

4. Instead of meeting friends or family at a restaurant, host a pot luck. Have everyone bring their favorite covered dish, you provide the lemonade and coffee, and you'll have an inexpensive, memorable evening with the people you love.

5. Set a spending limit. Since you probably don't want to be cooped up in the house all weekend, reserve a certain amount of money for your "running around money." Take cash and when it's gone, it's gone. You can still do a little browsing, get that cup of coffee or buy a new book. It's all about moderation and enjoying the time you spend out and about...not trying to balance the checkbook later.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The French Press

I made the decision several years ago not to drink coffee anymore. I was a newspaper reporter and had basically pumped coffee into my veins to keep me going. I wouldn't say I was addicted, because that reporter/coffee relationship just seemed natural.

Then I married a man who lives on coffee and it was harder to not indulge every now and then. I've always enjoyed the aroma as it brews, and the smell usually led to a taste once in a while.

And then we got a French Press. I had heard about them and knew they created a richer, fresher coffee than a drip brew coffee pot, but the whole process is truly fascinating.

Coffee is brewed by placing the coffee and hot water together in the glass container, stirring it and leaving to brew for a few minutes. It's really a very speedy process. Then you push the plunger down to trap the coffee grounds at the bottom of the beaker. Simple!

And fabulously tasty! You use a courser-ground bean in a French Press, you get a stronger, thicker, more flavorful brew. It's dandy first thing in the morning when you need a kick, or right after supper to get you through until bedtime.

If you're looking for a great Christmas gift idea or just a treat for yourself, this is the one! They are small and portable, and there are even travel mug versions out there. Coffee lovers of all levels will thoroughly enjoy using a French Press, and might even consider sharing some with others...maybe.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Happy Blogiversary To Me!

A year ago today I wrote a few words on an otherwise empty blog page. I felt convicted by the Lord to put the thoughts He was giving me down in writing for other Christian women to read. They were helping me to live as a victorious Christian woman, and He moved me to share them however I could.

This is just a portion of that first post:

I am committed to the notion that Christian women can be whole, happy, content and busy, all at the same time. There are times when we all feel overwhelmed by the burdens of everyday life, but our circumstances should never steal away the joy of our walk with God. We can live a victorious Christian life no matter what comes our way.

Psalm 51:12 says: "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit." Often the reason we feel weary and depressed is because we're not relying on the Lord to feed us daily with the joy and strength that come only from Him. My greatest joys in the day are when I'm in Bible study, when I'm journaling and when I'm on my knees in prayer. The closer we are to God, the more we will feel His comfort and power while we go about the routine of the day.


Many things have changed and many things have happened in the past year - I'm sure you can relate. There have been highs and lows, but one thing has never changed. My God is the same yesterday, today and forever. I am still just a sinner saved by grace, and I rejoice in His mercies that are new every morning.

I invite you to join me in the upcoming year and continue to learn about this victorious Christian life God has blessed us with. It's quite a journey, and it's always a blessing to travel with friends.