Saturday, July 30, 2011
Investigate your devotions.
Investigate your motivations.
Investigate your heart attitude.
Investigate your wants and needs.
Investigate your many daily blessings.
Make this a weekend of investigating how you appreciate the important things in life - those that center around the Lord.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. Revelation 22:14
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Matthew 7:13-14
Thursday, July 28, 2011
God gave us the sweetness of natural honey and the sugar cane. They will tame our sweet tooth for a little while, and then we start craving more.
My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off. Proverbs 24:13-14
The Lord says that knowledge and wisdom will be even sweeter than the sweetness of the honey comb. The craving to be immersed in God's Word should be just like the fleshly desire for candy and cookies.
But what about the other stuff - the artificial sweeteners. They don't occur naturally, but are created by man to be a substitute for the sweetness of sugar. Open a little packet and you have instant access to something sweet.
We try to do this with our wisdom, too. Isn't it easier to hear someone else speak about God's Word than to put in the study time ourselves? Isn't it more convenient to listen to someone else's prayer and say, Yes Lord, than to find our own words?
This is substituting the real sweetness of God with something man has made. There is nothing sweeter in this life than intense personal fellowship with the Lord. Nothing artificial can ever take the place of His communion.
If we've been trying to find an easier way, a different way or an artificial way to find wisdom, then we're only getting the pink stuff. Let's make today the day we purge the cabinets of our heart and throw out anything that isn't the real, pure sweetness of God.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Upon closer inspection, most of it wasn't grass at all. A fluffy weed had traveled across the yard, leaving an expanse of leaves and green in its wake. The more it wandered from its original planting spot, the thicker it became.
And nestled in among the tangle of weeds was a single, dark red berry. It wasn't just any weed spreading over the property, but wild strawberries! In the middle of this lush, winding weed was a small touch of sweetness.
I probably would have overlooked this beautiful little fruit if I hadn't been working right alongside it. But it was so tiny and so perfect that it caught my attention. It looked like it was thriving among the healthy plant it was surrounded by.
Imagine your heart as that yard of weeds. From the outside, from a distance, it may look wonderful and full. It's the right color, the right texture and the right amount of growth. But when you get closer, you'll start to see the imperfections, the rebellion and the weeds that you've allowed to grow in the heart God cleansed just for you.
But before you get too disappointed in yourself, look closely. There's that one perfect little fruit poking out of the weeds. There is hope in that berry because it means life and growth, even when other plants try to crowd it out.
In your heart, that hope is the love of Christ. Even when we're clogged up with weeds and creeping vines, His love will remain firmly planted for all eternity. It's our joy and our responsibility to do some weeding and clear out the space around our heart. Then that little hope can grow into a bright beacon for everyone to see.
So...how does your grass grow?
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Most of our country's roads are bordered with wall-to-wall billboards. Advertising everything from food to shopping to the next gas station, it's impossible to ignore them. This is how businesses attract your attention and draw you into their establishments.
Before I even left town - I hadn't even been in the car for half an hour yet - a sign caught my attention. It was for a restaurant chain and it read: "Deep breaths. We're closer than you think." The restaurant wanted the billboard readers to get to their establishment quickly and satisfy their cravings for food.
Since I don't particularly like this type of restaurant, I didn't stop. In fact, I probably sped past and didn't even realize it. The truth is that I was thinking about that sign in an entirely different way.
Perhaps it was because I had been praying for traveling mercies all day, so I was in a God-centered state of mind. When I saw those words, "Deep breaths. We're closer than you think," I immediately thought of Scripture.
And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. Genesis 28:15
That restaurant was closer than I thought, but my Lord is closer. I don't have to hyperventilate over not having their food handy, but I also don't have to panic because my God is never going to leave me. I might be able to drive away from the store, but I'll never be able to leave God's presence.
So no matter what's got you breathing funny today, take deep breaths. God is closer than you think, and He's promised to stay right there.
Monday, July 25, 2011
People in the neighborhood have loud parties until late at night. Other cars ride your bumper because you're not speeding like they are. You have to listen to crude conversations every time you venture out in public.
It honestly makes you want to become a hermitess and move far away from eyes and voices and noise. Wouldn't it be nice to only hear your music, have silence whenever you want it, and not have to worry about who's doing what to whom and how many times?
But our Heavenly example, Jesus Christ, placed Himself right in the midst of people. He had numerous situations when people were disrespectful, spoke with evil words and questioned His every move. Of all people, Jesus had every reason to hide Himself away and be away from people.
Praise His holy name that He didn't.
And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan. And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them. Matthew 4:25-5:2
But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all. Matthew 12:15
The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. And he spake many things unto them in parables. Matthew 13:1-3
And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. Matthew 14:14
And that is just a portion of one book of the Bible. Jesus chose to be in the midst of multitudes of people because that was where the needs were. What kind of loving Savior would come to save the world, but never speak to it? What kind of gracious Lord would be willing to die on the cross for our sins, but not be willing to be present in their need?
We have this same calling from our perfect example. Yes, it would be easier and less of a headache if we stayed inside all the time. It would be more peaceful to not fight traffic, endure the noise of the world and listen to rude conversation. But that is the easy road, one with no opportunities.
I pray we will have the courage and strength to face the lost and dying people around us. Each is a soul that God would love to claim for His own. And we might be the tools He uses to complete His bride! That's precious motivation to go out into the midst of people!
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Have you ever been dissatisfied with frozen foods? They're overly processed and they never cook up to the right texture. You can tell they're fried, whether you like it or not.
In less time than you can thaw and cook up frozen mozzarella sticks, you can make your own. Not just ready in three steps, they're also fabulously delicious!
12 pieces Mozzarella cheese sticks
Italian bread crumbs
marinara sauce for dipping
1. Cut each cheese stick in half so you have 24 little pieces. Place them on a plate and put them in the freezer for about 2 hours.
2. Set up your breading station. Bowl one: flour and Italian seasoning. Bowl 2: two beaten eggs. Bowl three: bread crumbs and more Italian seasoning. (I like seasoning!) Dip and bread all 24 sticks before beginning to fry. They'll go quickly.
3. Heat enough oil in a skillet on high heat to half-cover the sticks. Add coated cheese and pan fry, turning once. Serve with marinara sauce for dipping.
Freezing the sticks before frying is incredibly important. This will keep the cheese from oozing out before they're done frying. When breading, use one hand for dry ingredients and the other for the egg. This will keep wet clumps from forming in the dry bowls.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
For example, this is my springtime floral centerpiece. I love these flowers and the rocks made the perfect "bring the outdoors in" piece. But it's really heavy for summertime.
So to change it up, I just switched out the dark rocks for some aquamarine glass pebbles. They're clear so they feel much lighter, and the color looks just like the summer beach. Thirty seconds and you've got a fabulous summer decoration.
Some other changes you can make for summer home decor:
* Exchange your heavy comforter for a lighter quilt or throw.
* Trade thick fabrics for brighter colors and transparent cloth.
* Fill your home with plants and flowers.
* Focus on natural lighting, natural color combinations and nature in general.
* Choose prints that fit your summer theme: think patriotic, nautical and bright whites.
Monday, July 18, 2011
A businessman was standing in line waiting to order when a soldier in uniform came in behind him. Being married to a retired Army bandsman, I notice anyone in ACUs. I just smiled at him as he walked past and went back to typing.
The businessman was ordering when he saw who was behind him. Without hesitation he added, "And then whatever this man is having, I'll pay for that, too." The checkout girl smiled and turned to the soldier. I wouldn't way he was astounded, but he was definitely surprised. I know I was.
As they stood together waiting for the bill, the businessman held out his hand and thanked the soldier for his service to our country. Several other people in the room saw and were smiling, too. It was a joy to see the honor they were willing to give to someone in our military.
I tried not to stare at them through my tears, but my heart was overflowing with gratitude to our Lord. This is what we're all supposed to be doing to everyone, all the time, everywhere. Maybe not buying coffee for everyone in the building, but showing our appreciation when it's needed. Being willing to do something special when we're led to. Opening our hearts to a complete stranger, because this is the way to share God's love.
I have no idea if that man was saved, but he was showing the compassion Jesus Christ described to His followers.
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Matthew 22:37-39
We could all probably quote this Scripture by heart, but when was the last time we put it into practice? God's Word is wonderful and powerful all by itself, but it means even more when we're using it and applying it in daily life. It wasn't meant to be locked up between the covers of the Bible, but taken as instruction for how to live and how to think.
Now I'm just looking for opportunities to be like that businessman and share God's love. Maybe it will be the tool God uses to save the lost, to inspire someone else or to change someone's day for the better. Any of those outcomes is fantastic - just think about bringing honor and glory to God through your actions!
And getting a cup of coffee at the same time! Talk about the desires of your heart.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel. Isaiah 44:23
Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. Matthew 12:33
Thursday, July 14, 2011
The little storms we do have last just minutes. The ground only has a brief moment to take in all it can, while it can. We never know when the next quick storm will stop overhead.
But these short showers are enough to wash away the grime that's been collecting on everything. The strong rains and powerful winds take care of the dust that's clinging to everything for the day.
Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Psalm 51:2
My heart understands what the ground must feel like. I just need a good, strong shower from the Lord and I can be cleansed again. The grit and grim of the world are purged and my soul is renewed by His power.
South Carolina may have to wait for the cleansing storms to come through again, but I can go to the Lord any hour of any day. And He is faithful to both cleanse and forgive - better and deeper than any storm cloud.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
1 bag broccoli and carrot slaw mix
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
Rosemary, thyme, garlic powder and Chinese five spice, to taste
4 whole wheat tortillas
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add slaw mix and spices. Continue to stir fry until it reaches the desired consistency.
2. Warm tortillas. Divide slaw mixture between and wrap up. Quick and easy!
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
This textured, multicolored stone mat cost me just $4 to make and it looks absolutely beautiful on our wood dining room table. It's not designed to lay anything on top of it, so you can appreciate all of the different stones and patterns in it.
All you need is:
* a sturdy place mat
* two bags of river rocks
* a tube of heavy-duty adhesive
And all of those things can be found at the dollar store. If yours doesn't have a strong-enough glue, one that's made for something heavy like rock, check the hobby store and hardware store. You'll appreciate having it later.
Starting in the middle of the mat, start laying out rocks. You can decide your own personal taste - you may want them very close together or you may want some of the mat showing through. My circular place mat is made of bamboo, so it looked better to have a little showing through. Plus, that saves some time, unless you're super particular about order and presentation.
From there, work in a random pattern until the entire place mat is covered. Follow the directions on your adhesive packaging to the letter. If it says let it dry a little and then attach, do it! If it says to wait 24 hours before you move it, do it! Not speaking from experience or anything...
You might even want to create a design within your rocks, like circles or a giant spiral. While I was working on mine, I could picture these as centerpieces at a wedding reception with the new couple's initials written in rock. Perfect for a summer or outdoor wedding.
When you're finished, it will be very heavy and probably very wet. Remember what the directions say and let it dry thoroughly. It will be a lovely addition to your table, but only if half of it doesn't end up on the floor.
Monday, July 11, 2011
A rushed, loud voice on the other end introduced himself as calling on behalf of one of our local rescue departments. It's a group we have supported financially in the past, and were on their call list. I knew immediately that he was calling to ask for donations to this year's drive.
Unfortunately I also knew that we couldn't afford to give this year. All of these thoughts were going through my head as the caller rattled off his written-out script. He took no breaths and allowed me no time to get a word in.
Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Ephesians 5:6
As he finally wound down, he asked if this large amount of money - larger than we had ever given - would be acceptable to sign us up for. With the most polite voice I know how to muster I said, I'm sorry but we're not able to afford a donation this time. But please keep us on the calling list for next year.
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14
You could hear him scanning through he prepared piece and he continued on. Well then, there were other options, so would we like to give this slightly smaller amount instead?
Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? There is more hope of a fool than of him. Proverbs 29:20
With a deep breath and all the patience I had, I replied, I hate to repeat myself, but we're just not able to afford a donation this time. But please keep us on the calling list for next year.
A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good it is! Proverbs 15:23
Without a moment's hesitation I heard I deep sigh and then, OK. Fine. And then a click. I had been hung up on by the caller who called me. He wanted my money, and when he knew he wasn't getting it, moved on to someone else. There was no thank you, I understand or have a nice day. He was done.
The heart of the righteous study to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things. Proverbs 15:28
I pray from the bottom of my heart that I never speak to anyone the way this man spoke to me. I knew from the moment the conversation began that I was not important. He showed no respect for me, my money or my time. And then he laid our conversation aside as if it had never happened.
Even more unfortunately, this man also reflected poorly upon his organization. I appreciate this law enforcement group and will be glad to support them in the future. But now the memory of this poor conversation will always be connected to them.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Proverbs 18:21
Saturday, July 9, 2011
We can all admit to not doing enough to fill the pews when the church doors are open. Some days it's enough to get ourselves around and ready, but that's no excuse. We can support our sisters in Christ and encourage all of our church members to be in their place.
And gather thou all the congregation together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. Leviticus 8:3
Make this a weekend of gathering - do whatever it takes to bring your own congregation to the door of the church house. Make phone calls, offer to pick someone up and have your own family ready to worship this Sunday morning.
Gather the people together to worship the Lord.
Friday, July 8, 2011
My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off. Proverbs 24:13-14
And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat. Genesis 18:8
Thursday, July 7, 2011
But that gets old after a while. So one day I hooked up our brand new garden hose to the sprinkler and put the girls out back. They're both mostly black lab, and what lab doesn't like water?
Mine apparently. Bailey is the first dog in the water if we're at the lake or walking by rain puddles. But this sprinkler totally threw her for a loop. My plan was for the girls to run and jump and play in the water. But what you see is what you get - Bailey stood there getting hit in the face repeatedly as the water spun around.
And you'll notice that Sadie is nowhere to be found in these pictures. She wanted nothing to do with this sprinkler, even with heat and humidity hanging in the air. Instead, she went to lay in the shade and chew on a stick.
Water dogs, my foot!
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
3 Tbsp butter
4 cups miniature marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies
1 pound candy coating
Sprinkles and other themed decorations
1. Make Rice Krispie Treats according to the manufacturer's recipe. But instead of using a 9x13 inch pan, use a 9x7 inch pan. This will make them a little taller. Cool completely.
2. Cut the huge Rice Krispie Treat into 24 squares. Make sure the bottoms are all flat and can stand on their own.
3. Melt the candy coating as directed. Dip the top half of each treat in the chocolate, allowing a little to trickle down the sides. Immediately sprinkle with toppings.
4. As finished, place them on the serving tray or in the carrying container you'll be using. Don't move them anymore than you have to. Then place in the refrigerator until the chocolate is solid.
5. Before you serve them, tuck in your themed decorations.
Imagine these decorated in pastels for a baby shower. Or in red and green for Christmas. Or with little flowers for Spring. Or candy sprinkle leaves for Fall. Pick a season or event and you can personalize these in a heartbeat.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
So I made my own. I wanted one that would count the number of glass of water I drink each day. Popular theory is to drink eight 8 oz glasses of water each day, though the amount really varies by location, time spent outside and the humidity level. So I'm trying to average eight glasses.
Now, I know how to make necklaces and bracelets on jewelry wire, but that wasn't the look I wanted this time. Instead, I found a 2 1/2 inch bracelet with a 2-hook closure. It's the perfect length for my thin little wrist and is a more solid base for the beads.
Then I very carefully unbent one hook to string the beads onto. If you do this too violently or try to bend it more than once, you'll snap the wire. I found some beautiful silver textured beads that were already coordinated, then pulled out eight larger beads. These will be the eight glasses of water. Then I separated them with tiny beads and bent the hook back in place - carefully!
It would have been pretty just like this, but that wasn't my purpose. I needed a way to mark my water intake throughout the day. So I found a darling little charm...one without a clasp. So I bought a package of lobster claw clasps to turn it into exactly what I wanted.
With two jewelry pliers I spread the attached ring and slid on the clasp. It's just that easy to turn any charm into one with a clasp - so simple!
This bracelet can be made to order for just about any need. I've seen them for daily times to feed the baby or take medication. Weekly, they can be for exercise, Bible reading or keeping track of just about anything. Just change the number of beads to represent whatever you'd like!
Monday, July 4, 2011
Recently I was on a professional organizer's web site and I got a revelation. The title of the post was "If It Bothers You...Change It!" I didn't even read the article. I just sat there and meditated on that sentence for several minutes.
I'm really not sure why I had never thought of my organizing in this way before, but it's really very simple. If there's something in your home - a closet, drawer or system - that just gets under your skin, take the time to change it. Usually time is the major obstacle and procrastination gets in the way. But deciding that the bother is worse than the short time commitment changes the way you look at the situation.
But what rocked my world was when I meditated on it further. God opened my eyes to the possibilities "If It Bothers You...Change It" could have on my entire life.
* If your prayer life isn't what it should be... change it!
* If your home doesn't have God's standards all through it...change it!
* If your finances are out of whack...change it!
* If you aren't giving enough to your Christian friendships...change it!
* If your Bible study isn't as strong as it could be...change it!
* If you aren't seeing yourself through the eyes of your Savior...change it!
* If you want to do something differently, in a better way or with a different outcome...change it!
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. Romans 8:13
No matter what excuses we might give, there is nothing in this earthly life that we can't change. God has graced us with His power, the ability to overcome the flesh that says, I guess things have to stay just the way they are.
Whether it's your organizational habits or the amount of quality time you spend in prayer and Bible study, you can change. If something in your life is bothering you, ask the Lord to show exactly how He'd like you to change it. I did, and was truly surprised at some of the ways He showed me to follow His instruction more closely.
So what's bothering you? And how can you change it?
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1
Take time this weekend to remember where true liberty comes from. It's not freedom from a ruling country or the right to do whatever we like. The saved have the liberty of Christ, freeing us from the bondage of sin and death. What a glorious liberty we have received!
Friday, July 1, 2011
Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great. Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip. I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again till they were consumed. I have wounded them that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet. For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me. Psalm 18:35-39