Monday, February 28, 2011

The 31-Day Greeting Card Challenge

Yesterday we attended the seventh funeral in our church since Thanksgiving. It has been a heart-breaking time of loss, memories and home-goings. What a meeting we'll have in the air when Jesus returns!

In between visitations, funerals and graveside services, I keep having the same thought: Did I say the right things? When we speak from the heart, God will give us the words to say to family and friends who are grieving. Sometimes all they need to hear is that we love them and are praying for them. Those words can mean the most of all.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Proverbs 18:21

Or will we say anything at all? Words have the power to wound and the power to uplift. Not saying anything can be just as destructive to someone's heart as saying the wrong things. I'm ashamed to say that I haven't said things that could have (or should have) been said, and now it's too late.

That's why tomorrow I'm starting a 31-Day Greeting Card Challenge. Each day for the entire month of March I'm, going to mail one greeting card every day. Some will share love and update on the latest news. Others will share my heart and how I'm praying. And some will be for very special birthdays!

I pray that you'll join in this sharing of words. There may be people in your life that never hear from you. Or they may be struggling and one pretty card form you can make all the difference. Don't have those same sad feelings when you're sitting in a funeral service, wishing that you'd said those things when you had the opportunity.

Take the opportunity for the next 31 days. Or once a week for four weeks. Or just once in that month. It doesn't matter how often, it just matters that you make the effort to share words with someone who needs them.

Maybe you need to show some appreciation that is long overdue.

Or perhaps there's someone on your heart that needs to know that you're praying for them.

Someone may need some encouragement on their walk with God this week.

Or someone might be in the hospital, headed to the hospital or just home from the hospital and need some uplifting words.

We all know 31 people, and this could be the bonding experience you need to grow your circle of friends. Don't sit around waiting to hear responses, but rejoice in the blessings of the Lord if and when you do. My goal for the next 31 days is to share God's love with as many people as I can and let Him handle the rest.

If you're looking for some beautiful cards with great KJV Scripture in them and on them, head to our etsy shop: http://www.stufffromtrees.etsy.com/. We're open 24-7 so you can share God's love.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Weekend Of Prayer

Choose to make the focus of this weekend prayer.

Our prayer life is the most important connection we have to the True and Living God. The stronger that communication is, the stronger we are as a Christian woman.

What is on your prayer list this weekend?
Peace?
Healing?
Revival?
Strength?
Traveling mercies?
Comfort?

Make sure that your prayer time always begins and ends with thanksgiving. No matter what the circumstances may be at this moment, there are always more blessings in our life than needs.

And remember the lost. Pray that God will save souls this weekend. He can save just as easily on a Saturday afternoon as He can on Sunday morning.

Let's spend our weekend in fellowship with the Lord. Enjoy your prayer time and make it special.

Friday, February 25, 2011

God's Gift Of Clouds

Whether they are thin wisps of white that streak across the sky, or huge fluffy polka dots on a sea of blue, clouds have a special place in God's heart.
And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. Genesis 9:16


And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night. Exodus 13:21


And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents. Numbers 9:17


While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. Matthew 17:5


Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:17


Might today be that day? Might this one be that cloud?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dog Show Worthy

It was so interesting to watch the AKC dog show last week. There are so many beautiful dogs in this world and such sweet personalities to go with them. What a blessing it was when God created our four-legged friends.

And sitting through a show like that makes us appreciate our own dogs even more. They may be a mixed breed, but that's made them all the more lovable. It didn't take long before we were on the floor with them, cuddling and playing, while the show was playing in the background.

Sadie is such a hoot - she knows the command to "watch the puppies on tv." She'll turn to the television screen, mesmerized by whatever the dogs are doing. She won't do it with people or nature - just dogs. So she was glued to the dog show, watching the puppies do interesting things in the ring.

I'm convinced that our girls could win a dog show. I know they're not purebred anything, but they have shows for mixed breeds. They are both absolutely gorgeous (no bias here) and they'd win over the judges heart in a moment. Sadie has an arsenal of tricks she can whip out and Bailey would just turn those soulful eyes up and watch everyone melt.

Seeing the multitude of choices in dog breeds, temperaments and grooming regimens out there draws us closer to our own pets. Even with other options out there, our girls are perfect for us. Perhaps that's how we ended up together, playing on the floor, watching the dog show together. Sounds perfectly perfect to me.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars

Just the name of the recipe reels you in, doesn't it? Combine two of my favorite desserts and you've got a creamy treat that's just incredible. Be careful that you don't eat your way through the entire pan!



Ingredients:
2 packages (18 ounces each) refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 13X9-inch baking pan. Let both packages of dough stand at room temperature about 15 minutes.

2. Press 1-1/4 packages of the dough evenly onto bottom of prepared pan. Lay aside the remaining 3/4 package of dough.

3. Combine cream cheese, sugar and eggs in large bowl, beating until well blended and smooth. (This will take a little while.) Spread cream cheese mixture over dough in pan. Break reserved dough into small pieces and sprinkle over cream cheese mixture.

4. Bake 35 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.

These are amazing both warm, right out of the oven, or after they've been chilled in the refrigerator for a little while. Combine with some milk and you're set!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fun Spring Flowers

Even if your weather doesn't scream "Spring" yet, you can still add a little warmth to your craft projects. The flower for this Spring card is super-easy and super-versatile. With just a couple of leftover paper supplies you'll be making flowers for everything!



1. Cut or punch a 1.25 inch circle. Place a floral design in it using a stamp, die cut or sticker.
2. Cut a 1.5x12 inch strip of decorator paper. On the back, mark it at the .25 inch point with a pencil. Fold it accordion-style with that first fold as your measure. If you have a scoring blade for you paper trimmer, you can use that the entire length of the paper.



3. When you've accordion-folded the entire length of the paper, adhere the two ends together, printed side out, with double stick tape or your favorite adhesive. This will make a funny little circle.


4. Push gently on the top edge of this circle to flatten it out. That top edge is now the center of your circle. Lay two small pieces of double stick tape over the hole to hold it in place.

5. Adhere your cut circle securely to the center where the double stick tape is.


This flower can now be used for a number of different projects:
* homemade cards (the hand-out kind, not the mailing kind)
* scrapbook pages
* put them on a straw or skewer for plant stakes
* make several for a table centerpiece
* scatter them around the middle of the table for party favors
* Attach several to a picture frame for instant art work
The possibilities are endless!
More handmade cards and paper gifts can be found in our etsy shop at www.stufffromtrees.etsy.com.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Reason For God's Miracles

In Sunday School yesterday, we talked about God's miracles - at least all the ones we could squeeze into 30 minutes. There are powerful and mighty miracles on every single page of God's Word, and narrowing it down was so difficult. How could we not mention some while choosing to talk about others? They all bring joy and share the love of our glorious Creator.

Just rejoice over these few:
* God speaking to Moses out of the burning bush
* Parting the Red Sea
* The walls of Jericho falling at the sound of trumpets
* David and Goliath
* Job's restoration
* The three boys in the fiery furnace
* Jonah in the belly of the whale

And Jesus so wonderfully:
* walking on the water
* calming the sea
* healing the blind
* raising the dead
* turning water into wine
* feeding the five thousand

But in the end, one blessed my heart more than all the others.

Luke 18:35 And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging:

Luke 18:36 And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant.

Luke 18:37 And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

Luke 18:38 And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

Luke 18:39 And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

Luke 18:40 And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him,

Luke 18:41 Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.

Luke 18:42 And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.

Luke 18:43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.

This miracle isn't just a Bible story, to be remembered as a fable or an old wives' tale. Our precious Savior stopped and took the time to restore this blind man's sight. Nothing with the Lord is ever random or done on a whim. He has already seen the end result of every action and knows what our reaction will be.

And I believe with all my heart that verse 43 is the very reason He healed this man. He knew that when the man's sight was restored, He would follow Him and glorify God. This miracle was so powerful and so personal to him that He had no choice but to give all the glory back to the Lord.

Plus he became a witness to the people around him. They couldn't help but notice that the now-not-blind man was able to see. He wasn't begging anymore, but rejoicing in that man named Jesus! God's power was shining in Him, and that deserved their praise!

God doesn't give miracles simply to make our lives better. Of course He performs some type of miracle for us each and every day, and they do make a profound difference. But He only does them so we will have the same reaction as the blind man - glory and praise.

Even as you read this, God is working miracles in your life. He is cleansing you, defeating enemies, turning sorrow into joy, saving lost souls and providing exceeding abundantly above for our every need.

I'll do the miracles, God says, and you do the praising!

Let's do the praising!

Friday, February 18, 2011

God's Blessings Make Me Smile

In the midst of life itself, God gives us special blessings. Each and every one of us has those special blessings that God gives just to make us smile.











Take time today to find those blessings that make you smile.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Living On His Bread

Earlier this week I made the most perfect grilled cheese sandwich I have ever made. The cheese was warm and melted and the bread was that lovely shade of dark brown right before the burnt-black stage. It was crunchy and gooey and just the right temperature to be totally yummy.

But just a few minutes after enjoying this lovely lunch, I was hungry again. The sandwich was perfect in my opinion, but it wasn't enough. My hunger came back with a vengeance, and I had to find something else to satisfy it. The bread, though perfect for one meal, wasn't enough.

In several places in the Gospel, the writers of the New Testament tell of a conversation Jesus Christ had with His followers about bread. They question Him about the manna in the desert, and place this miracle above the precious things Jesus was doing in His ministry.

John 6:30 They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?

John 6:31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

John 6:32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

John 6:33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

John 6:34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

We are such a needy people. Besides our physical needs we are spiritually hungry, with desires that cannot be soothed by earthly means. And people look everywhere - television preachers, self-help books and therapists can't give you answers that will give you peace.

Jesus Christ is to be fed upon. He has life, gives life and is life. This is a foreign concept to the non-believer, but saved Christian women can testify that the world has nothing to offer that can satisfy like our Savior. He is a continuous supply for all of our needs, changing His support as necessary to fulfill the desires of His people.

While manna from Heaven truly was a miracle, the Lord continues something even more powerful. He makes dead sinners to live. The great gift of salvation from God is better than daily bread for our physical needs. Jesus Christ will satisfy for all eternity, filling us to overflowing with all we could ever ask or think.

Whatever you feed upon gives either life or death, like the difference between a freshly baked loaf of bread and a cyanide pill. When we choose to feed on the Living Bread of Jesus, we choose the path that leads to fullness of life and deep satisfaction. A sandwich is good for the moment, but Christ is perfect forever.

Feed on Him today. Feed on His Word, on His many blessings and on the joy He brings to your heart. You'll never go hungry again.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Little Chocolate Decadence

While looking for something special for our Valentine evening together, I stumbled across this lovely recipe. Anything chocolate is eye-catching to begin with, but this is something completely different.
This is called sipping chocolate - a rich, thick hot cocoa for grown-ups. It is super-duper sweet and very heavy, perfect for a chilly winter evening.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
4 ounces Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate, at least 60 percent cacao, chopped
- I used their baking chips and they worked perfectly. Use about a third of a bag for deep flavor.

1. In a small heavy saucepan, bring cream and milk to a simmer over medium-high heat.
2. Remove from heat and quickly add chocolate, stirring until melted and very smooth.
3.Return to medium-low heat and warm for 3 minutes or until a bubble or two form on the surface.
4. Pour the hot chocolate into espresso cups. Add a dollop of whipped cream if you'd like (and we did!) Enjoy slowly!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cards That KISS

KISS: As in "Keep It Simple, Sister!"

You don't have to spend a fortune in craft supplies or spend tons of time making projects that mean something. Sometimes a one-layer card can speak volumes. Keep it simple and still show your heart.

* Stamp your way around the edges. Instead of relying on the edges of your paper layers to create a frame around your card, create your own. These stitches are hand-stamped in a contrasting color.

* Make your focal point stand out. The Scripture is the best part of this card and the flowers just draw your eye in. You don't need to raise it to 3D levels to make it pop off the page. On this card I highlighted each line of text with a little yellow chalk to give it a highlighted look.




* For this beautiful tie-dyed look, apply chalk in a circular motion, letting the edges overlap a little. Then use your finger or another cotton puff to blur the lines. There's nothing to distract from the words, but everything works together perfectly.
These three cards, plus many others and great paper crafts, are available for purchase in our shop: http://www.stufffromtrees.etsy.com/.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

What a lovely Monday morning to celebrate Valentine's Day. Danny already has some treats to take to work and we're looking forward to a fun evening. Love is lovely, isn't it?

And more importantly, we are loved by a wonderful and mighty God. That love is stronger, deeper and more powerful than any human relationship we could ever imagine. On this special love day, let's spend a few minutes looking at three great loves.

1. God's love for us.

The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Picture for a moment how God watches us every day. He rejoices as we wake up to a new, beautiful day that He created just for us. His heart overflows as we pray and thank Him for all the blessings we are about to receive. He smiles as He thinks about all the ways we reflect His love throughout the following hours.

No earthly love can compare to God's love for us. We are His special creation, made just for Him. The mighty God of Heaven and earth joys over us with singing, celebrating our very life. We are created in love, for love and to love.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

2. Our love for God.

And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. Deuteronomy 30:6

With all that love spilling over from a filled-up cup, we return God's love back to Him. It will never be equal to His unending, unconditional, eternal love, but what we do give brings Him immense joy. He wants us to remove anything in our heart that would keep us from complete, perfect love for Him. He wants pure, complete love to overflow in our hearts.

Each and every part of our being, our mind and our lives shows our love for God. When we act out of kindness, speak with thoughtfulness and pray with selflessness, we are showing the depths of our love for the Lord. The depths of our devotion reflect that great and mighty love that we're shown with every breath we take.

3. Our love for each other.

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 1 Peter 1:22

Husband, friends, family, brothers and sisters in Christ, strangers on the street. There are so many people placed in our path every day by the God of love. We don't hand out Valentines and chocolate every day, but we do have conversations, keep homes and enjoy fellowship. Each of these moments is an opportunity to share our love, given by a powerful and loving God.

Spend this Valentine's Day sharing the perfect love of God with anyone and everyone. Today will come and go, but the love of the Lord is eternal and perfect.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Beat the Winter Doggie Blues

During those two or three months when it's actually cold in South Carolina, our girls go a little stir crazy. With my fibromyalgia I don't walk well outside when it gets too cold. So they either have to play in the backyard or follow me around the house. Not too exciting, huh?

We've found a handful of indoor games that pass the time, keep the girls entertained and out of trouble. Plus we work on obedience training at the same time - bonus!

* Our favorite is hide-and-seek with treats. I'll lock them out of the living room and hide little treat pieces in all the nooks and crannies. (Little pieces, mind you. The last thing I need are overweight dogs!) Then I release the hounds and let them play detective. This is how I taught Sadie to use her nose and not her eyes.

* Take time to go beyond the basic dog commands. We've taught our girls to "back up" and "wait." Danny's been trying to teach Bailey how to balance a treat on her nose, but that's going to take some time. Dogs love a challenge, so pick some useful actions and start practicing!

* Expand your dog's vocabulary. Lay out her toys and have her only fetch the one you name. Start with one and add more until she can choose from a whole pile. Then work on things that aren't her toys like the newspaper, a magazine or a blanket. (Not recommended for slobbery dogs!)


* Catch up on your grooming. During the winter months Bailey's coat is much thicker and comes out more easily...everywhere. We'll have grooming sessions every couple of days to keep flying fur a t a minimum. Plus it's a great bonding time and she loves her massage! Keep your grooming tools handy so you can groom while watching television, talking on the phone or in the evening before you go to bed.

* Hallway soccer is a great game for more active dogs. Sadie is our ball-dog and she loves this game! The idea is that she's the goalkeeper and I have to get the ball past her - which rarely happens. She'll come running back with it, then I use the "drop it" and "back up" commands to play again. After a while she'll do it on her own, without any commands, just so we'll keep playing.

All of these games translate well outdoors when the temperatures get warmer. Anything that works them out and prepares for a great nap later works for us!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Spring Is In The Air

Forget the winter weather advisories and snow boots for a while.
Signs of Spring are already here!







For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. Isaiah 61:11

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lord, Let Me Have Revival

Where do you turn when you're exhausted, frustrated, pushed around and spiritually drained? Aren't there days every now and then when you're ready to give up, go back to bed and hide under the covers for a while?

We all have times when it seems like our Christian service is going nowhere and there isn't reason enough to keep on working. We're tired of limited results and less-than-helpful co-laborers. There are two choices from there: give up or turn back to the Lord.

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Psalm 51:12

Jesus Christ is the source of all strength, joy and endurance that we need for the moment, for tomorrow and for the rest of our lives. It's the circumstances of the day that cloud our eyes and fog our minds. Our God is the same yesterday, today and forever - the same Lord who walked on water walks beside us at this very moment.

The joy of salvation was planted in our hearts at that glorious moment that we accepted Christ. It hasn't gone anywhere, changed position or disappeared from view. We just need times of revival and rejuvenation to allow Him to remove the cover we've placed over it. He is faithful to forgive, cleanse and renew when we're humble enough to ask.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Galatians 6:9

We get weary because we're trying to carry the load by ourselves. The Lord never planned for us to shoulder the burdens of this life on our own shoulders - that's why He instructed us to cast all our cares upon Him. We're neither designed nor equipped to do anything on our own. But He is.

Life isn't a sprint to the finish, but a marathon that brings joy to the runner and glory to the Savior. If we endure through the trials and tribulations life has promised us, we'll be one day closer to our heavenly reward and time we see our Lord face to face.

And what a day, glorious day, that will be. So persevere one more day and seek His face when the weariness sets in.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tuna Pita Pockets

While clearing out the kitchen cupboards during our recent home detox, I found one lonely can of tuna. In the interest of following my own advice and using up what we have before making another shopping trip, I decided to put this can of tuna to good use.

When you go to a company's website, you can find tons of great ideas and recipes specifically designed for that product. In a matter of minutes I had over 50 tuna recipes to choose from and one was absolutely perfect. I had picked up some pita bread for hummus later in the week, so these tuna pita pockets hit the spot.

You'll need:
1 can tuna, drained and flaked
1/2 cup diced tomatoes (I used the ones with green chilies for extra flavor)
1/2 cup shredded carrot
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 pita bread
4-5 leaves of lettuce

1. Mix the tuna, tomatoes and carrot in a medium bowl. Season to taste. Drizzle olive oil over the mixture and stir until just moist.

2. Cut the pita in half to make two pockets. Layer the lettuce, half in each pocket.

3. Spoon in the tuna mixture. Serve with crackers, cheese and some fruit.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Personalized Notebook Cover

Sometimes you need a special gift or decoration and can't find exactly what you want. Take this notebook for example. I wanted something this shape but didn't like the design on the cover. Using a little creativity and a cute pair of pliers, you can change any notebook cover to fit your needs.



This 5-inch notebook was at the dollar store, just begging to be altered! If you check the spiral that holds the pages together, you can tell immediately if it will open easily. Some are one continuous loop that runs the entire length, but this one opens at each hole. Use a small pair of pliers (or just your fingernail) to open it up and remove the cover pages.


Use your favorite adhesive around the edges of the cover and attach your background paper. Then use a paper punch of the same size as the holes to make new holes in the background paper. If you're going to cover both sides, make sure you punch your holes after you've attached the first sheet, otherwise you'll cover up the holes and it will be harder to find them.


Once covered with decorator paper, slip the covers back onto the prongs and use your pliers to push them back together.

Now the fun part - decorating! Don't use embellishments that are too bulky so the cover will fold back properly. Decorate this like you would any other paper project, and don't forget about the insides and back. You can even add a journal block on the inside cover to write a special note, if you plan to give it as a gift.

This notebook, along with many other cards and gifts, can be found in our etsy shop: http://www.stufffromtrees.etsy.com/. Come by and browse!

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Great Physician

For the past several days I have been incapacitated with a sore back. When your back hurts, it affects every other inch of your body - there is no way to compensate or change the way you move because your back is connected to everything else.

The only answer is to become immobile. I lived in the recliner for three days, even sleeping there one night. When I finally got to the doctor's office, he couldn't even touch my back because the pain was so intense. The pain killers and muscles relaxers finally did their job and I have pretty good range of motion again.

While the medication did its job and the heating pad helped, the real healing came from the Great Physician. I know that there were many people praying for me and I spent much of my on-my-back time in prayer. The only reason my pain went away was because God removed it from me.

Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise. Jeremiah 17:14

I honestly believe that sometimes God knocks us off our feet on purpose. We need to slow down, be quiet and listen so we can fully comprehend what He is trying to say. There are times when we move so quickly through life that we take no time to hear God's instruction. So if a little pain will stop us in our tracks and get our attention, that's the tool He will use.

Medicine can mask or dull the pain in our body. Exercise can strengthen it and prevent injury. Eating right can grow us and give us energy for the day. But the Lord has complete control over the health, sickness, weakness and strength of our human vessel.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Luke 4:18-19

And the true joy of the truth: Jesus Christ came to earth not just to heal bodies, but to heal hearts. We read account after account of how He healed the lame, the blind and the dumb. But the healing of the body was always the path to healing the soul. Those who were healed physically were always healed spiritually as well.

During those days I couldn't move, I found myself drawn to the Scriptures. I spent my time reading, studying and writing - things I probably wouldn't have spent as much time at had I not been so sore. These were precious moments that I was given by my Lord for His glory. And they gave me the desire to read more and learn more, even now that I'm up and around again.

God may not choose to take away my pain the next time. His plan may be for me to have a physical hindrance like Jacob's limp. But there can still be joy in our hearts and we can still be in the perfect will of God regardless of our physical condition. The Great Physician will do as He pleases, because it is always for our greater good. Look beyond the physical and see what work He is doing in your heart.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Detox Your Home Office

As we wind down our detox process, you may have already have tackled your home office space. It may be tucked into the corner of another room or just at a table in the kitchen. If you're truly blessed you may have an extra room that serves as your computer/bill paying area.

No matter where your office supplies are physically, they still need to be cleared out and organized. You can save yourself tons of time and energy later by having your paperwork and bill-paying needs all in one place.

1. Tackle the paper. Yuck...yuck...and more yuck. If you're like me you have plenty of paperwork that needs to be kept and a whole bunch that needs to be shredded and discarded. Before you do anything else, sort through those stacks and files and do some serious purging. You may need to set up a new filing system, but a better idea is just to slim down what you have on-hand. This may be a whole day job, or you might decide to spread it over a few days so you won't get burnt out and never finish.

2. Gather all those bits and pieces. If there's one thing that annoys me it's having to run all over the house to find the little things I need to accomplish one task. You can save time, energy and frustration by filling a central location with everything you need for those office-related tasks. Think about it: envelopes, stamps, the budget book and address labels are all in one place. There are business cards, addresses, phone numbers and other contact information, and plenty of space for all those tiny bits - paper clips, safety pins, markers, pen and pencil, plus some extra odds and ends that just needed a home.

3. Clean and organize. Find a place where you can store everything, have it handy and have the workspace necessary to get your work done. Clean the furniture around the office area, get new supplies if you need them and then re-plan how to restock the area.

And in three simple steps you've detoxified your home office area. Some parts may be time consuming, but the effort is worth it in the long run.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Detox Your Body

We tend to think that just because God bestowed free will upon us that we’re entitled to do anything to our bodies that we want. That’s how the world ends up with drug addicts, alcoholics and 900-pound people, right? God’s view is completely the opposite.

Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3

We had nothing to do with the creation of our physical bodies, but we seem to think that because we’re in them 24/7 that we have supreme control, and that just isn't true. We do make the choices of what foods we put in them, how we exercise them, how much rest they will receive, but ultimately God is the only one who determines how they function, how well they function and how long they will last.

God only gave us this shell for the short while that we’re here on earth, and as temporary as it is, it’s still His creation. From that first breath of life in Genesis 2:7, God uses these human vessels as transportation for His creation. Even as we wear out and break down, our body is a glorious gift.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

What is a temple used for – worship. And think about how your behavior should be a little different in the house of God – a little more reverent, a little less distracted. Imagine being that way with your body. Being more aware of the things you eat, how much you eat, how much sleep you get, how much time you spend on the couch, the way you medicate, simply because your body is a gift from God, a temple given by the Creator.

There are no magical ways to detox your body, no get-healthy-quick schemes that will have you feeling better and moving better in just minutes a day. The not-so-secret secret is always found when you're in the presence of the Lord.

My son, attend to my words; incline thy ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Proverbs 4:20-22

Life and health from the reading of the Word. Here’s just another benefit of daily Bible study. Imagine what all we can find day after day, week after week, year after year on any number of topics just looking through God’s Word. He put here for us to have access to it, for it to be a lifeline, we just have to take the time to look for what we need. There is always something new in the Word of God, something you see differently or understand that you didn't before. That’s motivation to continually be in the Word to feed both body and soul.

All of the answers we need for getting all of the contaminants and toxins out of our bodies are found in Scripture. Reset your mind to think of your body as a temple and then make everything you do with that temple into a contract with God. Then study His Word and learn day by day how to feed that temple, exercise that temple and rest that temple. It may not add years to your life, but it will add joy to your life.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Detox Your Attic/Basement/Garage

By now we're getting pretty good at the detox/sort/get rid of stuff process. And it's a good thing that we're all practiced and ready because this next step is a big one!

Where is your storage place? Where is that one room that gets all the leftover boxes, shelves and piles of stuff that don't go anywhere else? Do you tuck them up in the attic? Down in the basement? Or maybe out in the garage? Perhaps the thought of tackling this project scares the daylights out of you, so let's take a look together.

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. Ecclesiastes 9:10

It's human nature to employ the "out of sight out of mind" technique for things we don't want to deal with. If I put boxes in the attic, I may never see them again...which is a pretty tempting thought. If I only go out to that shed when I'm putting something new in, I won't have to think about it. Sound familiar?

And that's the problem with storage areas. We get lazy and just add to them as the need arises. The attic, basement and garage aren't places we can sort and organize in the same way as other parts of the house. (Unless you have endless days and don't mind junking up the rest of the house with all of that stuff. Then, more power to you.)

Instead, we'll clear out these areas little by little. This isn't a project for an afternoon or even a weekend. Start with one box, bag or suitcase near the entrance. Open...sort...organize...find a home. This may mean practicing your paperwork skills...or making decisions about Christmas decorations...or clothes you haven't worn in years. The possibilities are endless, but the techniques are the same.

The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust. Ruth 2:12

It may be that many of the things in these locations aren't yours personally. The garage is my husband's domain and his Army uniforms take up several boxes in the attic. I would never think to sort boxes or tools without his permission and presence, and your house is no different. Even if your husband is the root of all disorganization issues, work together to get the situation under control.

That one box or bag may be all you have time for right now, or patience for right now. That's fine. But see that one box or bag through to the end. Recycle it when you're all done as a victory dance! It may be tomorrow before you attack another one, or maybe a week or two, but remember that this is a detox process. Organization and cleanliness won't happen overnight, but they will happen. One box at a time.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Detox Your Finances

Over the past few weeks we've cleaned, organized and detoxed so much - our homes, our hearts, our priorities. Now how about something incredibly practical like your finances? They get stuffy and cluttered, too, and that makes it difficult to be good stewards of the money God has given us. This is the perfect time to take a look at your spending, saving and investing to see what needs to be cleaned up and what needs to be throw out.

1. Analyze your money flow. Sit down with your husband and all of your monthly bills. Prayerfully consider where and when your money is leaving the house and when pay checks are coming in. If you go over your finances with a fine-toothed comb, you'll find plenty of ways to plug up leaks. And working together as a couple will strengthen your marriage and allow you to discuss some money issues that you've never addressed.

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? Proverbs 27:23-24

2. Organize your files. This may be a scary proposition for some of us as we dig into the piles and folders. Only keep a year's worth of pay stubs (once you've gotten your W2's for the year you don't need them anymore) and keep only the last statement from your bills. Shred everything else and then figure out a great filing system that you can actually keep up with.

3. Set up online bill-pay. Get rid of the paper all together by using the bill-pay services your bank may offer on their web site. We pay almost all of our bills through our bank's website now, so we only write checks for the rent and our tithe. This makes it easier to pay on time and keeps checks from getting lost in the mail - save time, energy and peace of mind all at once!

4. Design a debt payment plan. Now that you're all organized you can begin to focus on the problem areas. If you're not in debt, keep it that way. If you do have debt, look over your monthly income and see how much of it can be used to pay off debt. This means more time with your husband, more number crunching and more decision making. The important part is spending within your means and using what's left over to get back on track.

For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Luke 14:28-30

5. Clean up your credit. If you have great credit, keep it that way. If it's not so great, make sure you're paying bills on time, paying down your debt and using credit cards wisely. Look over your interest rates and negotiate better ones if you can.

6. Check in with your investment advisor. If you have any kind of investment, even if it's just a retirement account, take the time to talk with your adviser. Things change rapidly in the financial world, so she could be able to do some great things to help your money make you more money.

7. Put your house in order. If you were to die and meet the Lord today, where would your money go? If you put in all of this work to spring clean your finances, wouldn't you like to have some comfort in how they'll be used after you pass away? See a lawyer or JAG office the first chance you get to see about wills, living wills and Power of Attorney. Don't take chances with your money when you can take care of it in one afternoon.

Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right. Proverbs 16:8