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Showing posts from November, 2012

Another Year of Bible Study

If you've been keeping up with the daily devotion on the left-hand side of this site, you'll notice that today we finished the last chapters of Revelation. That means in just 11 months, we've read through the entire Bible.

But chances are, if you're anything at all like me, you weren't perfect. While I read many, many of those days, there were some when I didn't. Either I thought I was too busy, I didn't feel well or I just got distracted with the stuff of the day. If this sounds familiar, know that you're definitely not alone.

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Acts 17:11

Some days I have great readiness of mind and I'm delighted to search the Scriptures. But there are others when it's a struggle and a difficult mindset to focus on the Word of God.

Does that mean that God doesn't have anything for me on t…

Some Rare Puppy Playtime

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It's not very often that the girls actually play together. Apparently they're both a very mature 10-going-on-11 years old now, and that means that they don't "play" anymore. But this week I caught them romping on the living room floor and had to take some pictures.

Well, hello there.

The upside-down big dog.

Whatcha doin'?

Is she still there? She's still there, isn't she?

The Bailey dog poses for beautiful pictures.

And Sadie gives me this...

There's nothing sweeter than a little snuggle time. Glad I got to be in on it before they're off and running again.

Danny's Slow-Cooked Lima Beans

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A note from Laura: This recipe is all Danny's! So I thought it would be neat to have him tell you all about it. Enjoy!

One of my all-time favorite meals is beans and cornbread. I remember when I was growing up and we'd go visit my grandparents in Alabama. They'd always have black-eyed peas or butter beans and pones of cornbread and onion slices - not to mention any other type of southern comfort food you can think of. Mmmm ... good!

Well, this recipe is inspired by those childhood memories. Hope you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed sharing it!

Ingredients:
2 1-pound bags of large Lima beans
2 32-ounce boxes of chicken stock
1/2 pound (or so) of bacon
1 onion, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes (there are different varieties available, so pick your favorite.)
course-ground black pepper to taste
few dashes of paprika
little bit of basil

1. Soak the beans according to package directions. I used the overnight method, but actually started in the morning so the beans soaked during t…

Christmas Countdown Calendar

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Can you believe that Saturday will be the first day of December? I'm not exactly sure where this year has gone, but the Advent season is just a few days away!

So I've been getting into the Christmas spirit. This adorable Christmas countdown calendar is the perfect way to build anticipation for Jesus' birth. Just a few pieces of paper, stamps, embellishments and a secret ingredient, and you've got a great gift - if you can part with it.

I matted my piece of background paper on a piece of cardboard for extra durability. Then I layered ink-distressed card stock and decorator paper and added two acrylic ornaments. The word Christmas is hand-stamped, and since I couldn't find letters small enough, I hand-wrote Days Until.

And the secret for a great perpetual calendar - velcro dots! One on the back of each chipboard number and you can interchange them easily every day. Plus they act like 3D adhesive and give the project a little added dimension. The whole thing is 5 …

Keep Asking

As I read through the life of Abraham in the book of Genesis, I am amazed at the fellowship he had with God. He is called the friend of God, we watch the Lord tell him things close to His heart and time and again God blesses Abraham simply because Abraham believed.

Genesis 18 is one of those special chapters on faith and fellowship. God decides to share with Abraham the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. There has been so much sin in these places that the Lord has had enough. There will be destruction and death as a result of that sin, and Abraham learns the full extent of God's plan.

His response is part of what amazes me.

And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD. Genesis 18:22

When the days get dark, do you turn to your husband, your girlfriends or your mother - or do you choose to stand before the Lord? Who among these can actually answer your questions and give you perfect peace?

Then Abraham goes one step further.


And Ab…

Offer Your Thanks

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Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High. Psalm 50:14

 And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small. Jeremiah 30:19

But thanks be to God, which giveth the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57

In every thing, give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Record Your Thanksgiving Blessings

If God has richly blessed you this year, and I can guarantee that He has, use this Thanksgiving gathering to record some of those blessings.

While you have everyone gathered, take turns sharing what God has done in your life. Choose one of the ideas below or come up with your own way to record them and look back next year at how He has done exceeding abundantly above all you could ask or think.

* Leaves: Give everyone a construction paper leaf and have them write out what they're thankful for. Then combine them all for a gratitude tree or a table decoration.

* Photo mat: Set the timer on the camera and take a group photo. Have each person write their blessings on an over-sized photo mat and add the picture later. You'll have a conversation piece all year long once you hang it up.

* Mini-album: Make a small album with each person's picture in it. Then they can write and decorate it with their words of thanksgiving.

* Turkey feathers: A great one for kids. Everyone gets a pa…

Let Your Light Shine

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Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

I was thinking about these verses yesterday as I reached the top of the hill on the highway before you get to our house. Danny had finished putting the Christmas lights up, and they can be seen from about a quarter of a mile away. They shine so brightly through the bare tree branches that there's no mistaking where home is.

I pray that as we begin this brand new week - Thanksgiving week - that we'll allow Jesus Christ to shine so brightly through us that there's no doubt of His light. Be the light on the hill that glows as a beacon for those around you.
Shine, little light! Shine!

A Weekend of Freeing Your Roots

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The plant in the dining room bay window was dying.

The leaves were turning yellow and folding up on themselves. I tried watering it, not watering it, turning it to give it better light - nothing worked. It was just fading away.

And then I bought a new hanging pot for it. It took at least five minutes to release my plant from its plastic container, the one that it came in over a year ago.

This picture is what it looked like when it was finally free of that strangled pot it was living in. The roots are huge and they were trying desperately to find somewhere to go. Instead, they had to wrap up and strain against the sides of the plastic looking for room to grow.

I feel like this some days. I've pressed myself down into the little container of day-to-day living, and I end up stunting my own growth and forcing the roots of my soul to struggle to breathe.

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. John 8:36

Make this a weekend of getting out of your little pot. F…

The Sweetest Sandwiches Ever!

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They're the sweetest sandwiches ever because they're made of cake and frosting!

This is a very simple, very sweet idea that will get you through the entire holiday season.

Make a pan of miniature shapes that corresponds to the holiday. This leaves, ornaments, snowflakes, stars, even hearts and flowers after the first of the year.

Once they've cooled, slice them in half across the middle. You may need to shave a little off the back side so they're flat, too.

Then spread or pipe frosting onto the bottom layer and put it back together. Simple, but yummy and adorable!

For these fall leaves I used a spice cake with buttercream frosting in the middle. And yes, I actually had a few left to share after I got done taste-testing them.

Let me know what shapes, flavors and combinations you choose!

A Call To Memorization - Verse Cards

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I've been working on an amazing special order for the etsy shop over the past few days. A Thirty-One consultant contacted me and asked if I could do two sets of Proverbs 31 Woman memory verse cards in very specific colors. She needed pink and black with some silver.

 Can you believe how amazingly beautiful that color combination turned out? And I had just enough supplies to complete both sets, and I have about three scraps of decorator paper left over. Perfect!

And now my heart has been convicted to work on Scripture memorization again. It's time to make another set of my own - so much fun! The hard part is deciding which portion of Scripture I want to start with.

Be An Example

Don't you just love it when God spells out exactly what he expects of us - in simple language with no question as to what He means? Some days I think He understands how thick-minded and stubborn I can be. Those are the days when He gives it to me as plainly as possible.

When I struggle with the endurance to keep up my witness and my testimony, the Lord gives me this simple Word that gives an outline for how to live in the world.

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

Speaking through Paul, God gives us a list - an actual list - of how to be an example that reflects Him.

- In word: everything that comes out of our mouth should reflect the Spirit living inside us.
- In conversation: the way we live and the choices we make, even in the little things.
- In charity: love that is patterned after the love Christ showed.
- In spirit: our very essence and temperament, now cha…

This Week On The Carrell Wildlife Refuge

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We knew we had deer. And lots of turkeys. And squirrels, birds and rabbits. There was a shrew in the entryway a couple of weeks ago. And I've seen more creeping, crawling, slithering things than I ever imagined. Plus there was the surprise of our coyotes - my sweet nursery of babies still practices howling every night.

 The newest addition to the Carrell Wildlife Preserve is our clan of beavers. They've built a couple of dens in the bank at the far end of the big pond, and they're incredibly impressive.

 However, they're in the process of preparing for winter. We never see them, and I've never heard them, but they're systematically piling up trees from our woods. We've got plenty, but I wasn't really planning on sharing them.

There are several places throughout the woods that look like this - you can actually see the tooth marks in the stump. I think it's fascinating that they've chosen our property for their home, I just didn't realize exa…

The No-Television Anniversary

The companion change to moving into our new house a year ago this week has been just as wonderful - in my mind anyway.

When we left the hotel and moved into the house, we left television behind. We've chosen not to have any type of TV hookup in our house at all. So it's been a year today since we've sat down to watch commercial television.

I did watch a little of the Olympics this summer, and I can hear some of the sports that the guys have on in the newsroom every night. But that's literally it.

Can I tell you what it's been like?

Would you believe that I don't crave it one bit? It's not the least bit like giving up chocolate or something else vital to human existence. There haven't been dramatic withdrawls or threats to call the cable company the next morning. It's honestly not been that big of deal for either one of us.

But can I tell you the one thing I miss?

Sports.

We both love football - Roll Tide!!! - and baseball. So not having sports chan…

Home - One Year Later

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A year ago today, we moved into our new home. After a little-longer-than-expected stay in a hotel, it was such a blessing to move into this blessing straight from the Lord.

For the anniversary of our home, I could have used a picture taken on a bright day with lots of sunshine and pretty colors. But I didn't.

With all that is going on in our world right now, we are blessed beyond measure to even have a home, let alone one with power, running water and a sturdy roof. We're safe, dry and warm. And we're full of joy and thanksgiving for all God has done during this year that has been exceeding abundantly above.

While I rejoice on the days that the sun shine brightly on our home, there are also days when the storm clouds hover overhead. They're dark and ominous, full of rain, lightning and rumbles of thunder. You can see them coming from miles away when you're up on a hill like this.

But praise God's holy name - we have a home, one built on a solid foundation. Two…

Looking A Lot Like Christmas

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I've been very focused for the past couple of weeks. It may not seem like it's time for this already but ...



I've been making Christmas cards!
I had a special request through my etsy shop to make 200 personalized Christmas cards for a lovely lady and her family. You'd better believe that I jumped on the opportunity to create these for her!


They turned out beautifully - and no two are alike. Everyone she sends a card to will have a very special message from the Scripture. I think that's what I love most about our shop.
So, what season are you in this week? It's Christmas at our house!

Reading For What You're Needing

The truth of God's Word is perfect in every situation you're experiencing. You may need something different today than you did yesterday, but it's all right there in Scripture just waiting for you.

On the days you wonder if anyone sees your testimony, read Genesis 26:27-28.

When you're feeling your age, read Psalm 71:17-18.

For a reminder of Christ's sacrifice for you, read Matthew 27:27-56.

To celebrate the grace and mercy of God, read 1 Timothy 1:12-17.

If you're spilling over with joy, read 1 Thessalonians 5:16.

When times seems a little shaky, read Psalm 31:14-16.

To see who's praying for you right now, read Luke 22:32.

During those moments of discord with someone else, read Romans 12:16.

Right before your prayer time, read Daniel 9:3-4.

If you wonder whether your dedication means anything, read Nehemiah 4.

For the moments when you're feeling small and unimportant, read 1 Samuel 17:45-47.

What would you add to this list based on your personal readin…

Happy Birthday Danny!

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This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Today is a very special day! The sweetheart, love of my life was born on this day. God truly blessed the day He made Danny, and I thank Him for that every day - especially today.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

Happy Birthday, Danny! I love you!
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17

Blackened Tilapia

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There are certain cooking terms that frighten me.

Not frighten as in "my hair stood on end and my face turned white as a sheet." That would be weird.

I mean that there are some techniques, tools and menus that seem more daunting than others.

Blackening was one of them. Then I tried it, and now I'm hooked!

That was a pun. Hooked. Tilapia. Got it.

To make this amazing fish, you'll need four tilapia fillets, about 6 oz each. If you get a bag of frozen tilapia, they'll probably be individually wrapped, and you can just thaw as many as you need each time. If you put them in cool water for a few minutes, they'll be ready in no time.

There are a lot of blackening seasonings out there, so check out the spice aisle of your grocery store. I personally love the Old Bay blackening seasoning because it has Old Bay's spices already in it, too. The whole point of blackening is to make a deep, dark crust around your meat, and this combination of spices fits me perfectly…