Tuesday, January 31, 2012

An Interactive Valentine

So, enough of the simple for the moment. As much as I thrive on finding simple, fun ways to put craft projects together, sometimes we need to expand and do something with a few more steps. 

This gorgeous interactive Valentine's Day card is the perfect way to do just that. What looks like a lovely heart-covered card...

...contains a hidden message of love and devotion. How sweet!

Start by making a cover for your card, slightly smaller so you'll have a pretty white border. DO NOT attach this piece to the card itself. Decorate it as you wish.

Stamp the large heart, cut it out and then cut it in two. How destructive we must be in our creative pursuits!

Make a short saying to be hidden inside the heart. You can stamp something, print something or use a transparency like I did here. Trim it as close to the words as you can. Then cut a slit just above the heart-half that is slightly larger than the width of the message.

Mount the phrase on a piece of card stock, then eyeball a long letter T around it. These little tabs will keep the phrase from coming completely out of the heart.

Use two pieces of 3D adhesive to catch the tabs at the exact point where (on the flip side) you can read the entire message. If it's not in the right ending place, the motion won't stay hidden behind the decorator paper.

Attach the cover to the card with several more pieces of 3D adhesive. This will allow the motion of the message to remain hidden. Then flip the card over and attach the top of the heart to the end of the message. Trim off any card stock that sticks out.

It's adorable, it's interchangeable with design possibilities and it's perfect for a one-of-a-kind valentine. Have fun! This one's a keeper!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Helping the Devil

In The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, there's a heart-wrenching line that should shoot straight to the core of any Christian. Edmond is defending the purpose of the final battle against evil when his older brother wants to send his younger siblings home.

"I've seen what the White Witch can do. And I've helped her do it," Edmond says.

Even when we're blinded by pride, anger, bitterness or jealousy, we generally know when we're helping the devil with his plans for the day. It definitely isn't of God when we apply those evils, hurting those around us and ultimately ourselves.

Oh, the devil hasn't used me for any of his schemes. I'm too mature of a Christian for that.

But have you ever:
* Said something nasty out of anger?
* Accused someone without knowing all the facts?
* Neglected someone's needs even though you knew about them?
* Said, Just this once?
* Treated a loved one disrespectfully?
* Done your day-to-day tasks with less than your best?
* Set someone else up to fail?
* Used words that aren't uplifting and edifying?
* Took someone special for granted?
* Ignored the leading of the Holy Spirit?
* Chosen selfish pursuits instead of following God's Word?

We can all answer yes to some of these, and probably to many more. When we're not solely focused on doing the work of our Heavenly Father, the devil finds ways to use us for his plans. A little nudge there or a little prodding here and soon we've gone down a road we never planned to travel.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 1 Peter 5:8-9

I pray today that we'll be on the lookout for the devil's evil tactics, staying as close to the Lord as we possibly can. The opportunities will arise, as they always do, to be used for something ungodly. That's when we stop, pray and listen for the guidance we need to stay far away from circumstances better left untouched.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Weekend of Pressing On

In the middle of winter, it's easy to stay inside where it's warm and cozy. Why venture out if it means getting chilled to the bone?

But if you stay inside, you'll never see the beauty of the world around you. Even on the coldest, darkest winter days, the sun will still rise and add color to everything.

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

We have the same choice Paul did - we can stay exactly where we are or we can press on toward the mark.

Make this a weekend of getting out of whatever walls are confining you from being completely committed to your Father's business. Press on instead of pulling back and experience the breathtaking beauty of God's work.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Grooming The Girls

 This is my Bailey dog. Please notice that her fur is all thick and clean and healthy.

This is my Bailey dog's fur. It comes out in great big clumps if she isn't groomed regularly and thoroughly.

This is the Bailey dog after her grooming session. She will sleep quite peacefully for the better part of an hour. She's been bathed, groomed and tucked in for a nap. And that's why we groom our pets.

That and to keep all of that fur off the carpet.
And the furniture.
And the hardwood floors.
And the bedspread.

Grooming is good.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

So, What Is Eating Healthy?

The focus everywhere right now, thanks to New Year's resolutions, is living healthy. People promise themselves that they'll eat better, exercise more and live as healthy as they can.

But what does that really mean? When it comes to food, we get bombarded with hundreds of different diets, meal plans and fads that don't last very long. How do you sort through it all and find what's truly healthy?

Let's break healthy eating down to a few really, really simple ideas.

1. Portion control. When I go to a church fellowship, I sample everything on the dessert table. (Yes, I love sweets.) But I don't get whole pieces or large spoonfuls of each treat. I limit myself to one or two bites of each one. Then I get a sampling and don't walk out feeling like my skirt is a tent. Enjoy the food you like, but cut down how much you have at a time.

2. Walk the edges of the grocery store. I've heard this several times lately and I think it's a great idea. Limit your grocery shopping to the produce, meat and dairy departments, doing little shopping from the inner aisles. The fresh foods from the outside edges of the store are much more beneficial to your body than the processed, man-made foods in the middle.

3. Self-control. I've used this word with several people lately and they've all said the same thing. Yeah...that's a problem. I don't know why this lovely fruit of the Spirit is so difficult, but it's one that has to be tamed to eat healthy. If you're prayed up about controlling your mind and your cravings, you can accomplish anything - through Christ which strengtheneth you!

4. Common sense. Fast food every day or a cozy, home-cooked meal? Half a dozen cans of soda or one can and two bottles of water? Greasy pizza or a steak salad? We know the answers, or at least we should by now. The turning point in eating healthy comes when we use the common sense God gave us and make wise decisions.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Valentine's Gift Box

As unbelievable as it is, there are only three weeks left until Valentine's Day. That's plenty of time, though, to put together a lovely, handmade gift for that special someone.

For example, this gift box was made completely with dollar store finds and scraps from other projects. But the recipient will never know because it's a precious presentation piece for your other gifts.

You'll need:
* Chinese take-away box, or other gift box
* decorator paper
* coordinating card stock
* piece of ribbon
* letter stickers

I found these Chinese take-away boxes at the dollar store in packages of 4. So now I have them in both gold and silver. You can start by looking in the holiday section and then check in the party goods aisle.

1. Cut a piece of card stock to fit one panel of the box. You can do both sides if you like and have enough paper.

2. Mat the decorator paper inside the card stock square.

3. Use your sticker letters to spell out your message. Be as simple or elaborate as you'd like.

4. Attach the square to the side of the box.

5. Tie a short piece of ribbon to the handle of the box. Cut the ends to a point.

And now you've got a beautiful little gift box for your Valentine. You can fill it with other dollar store finds, too. Use tissue paper or basket fill for the packaging. Top it with candy, erasers, candles, notepad and pens, small toys, new MP3 headphones or any other treasures you might stumble upon. Just make it personal and from the heart.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Undertaker's Wife

I adore being the undertaker's wife. It touches my heart that my husband and I can be a blessing to people during the most difficult times of their lives. Death is not an easy subject for most people, but comfort and encouragement can heal even the most shattered of hearts.

God's Word is the only comfort and encouragement that can do that type of healing. Whether you're going through a death in your family, struggles in your personal or professional life or any other difficulties, Scripture is an everlasting comfort when you need it most.

Here are a few of my favorite verses of comfort and peace.

* Genesis 9:11-17 (The covenant with Noah)
* Exodus 3:13-14 (I AM THAT I AM)
* Numbers 13:25-30 (We are well able to overcome it)
* Deuteronomy 4:30-31 (He will not forsake thee)
* Joshua 1:6-9 (Be strong and of a good courage)
* Ruth 3:11 (Now, my daughter, fear not)
* 1 Samuel 1:19 (And the Lord remembered her)
* 2 Samuel 22 (David's song of praise)
* Job 19:25 (I know my redeemer liveth)
* Psalms (Yes, the entire book!)
* Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (To every thing there is a season)
* Isaiah 30:18-19 (He will answer thee)
* Jeremiah 29:11-13 (thoughts of peace)
* Lamentations 3:20-26 (the Lord's mercies)
* Ezekiel 34:11-16 (The Good Shepherd)
* Daniel 6:26-27 (the power of God)
* Joel 2:26-27 (He hath dealt wonderously with you)
* Jonah 2:7 (I remembered the Lord)
* Habakkuk 2:14 (the glory of the Lord)
* Zechariah 10:1 (Ask ye of the Lord)

* Matthew 5:1-12 (The Beatitudes)
* Mark 4:35-41 (Why are ye so fearful?)
* Luke 12:22-34 (Fear not, little flock)
* John 3:16-18 ( For God so loved)
* Acts 1:11 (why stand ye gazing up into heaven?)
* Romans 5:1-5 (we have peace with God)
* 1 Corinthians 9:24 (run the race)
* 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (the God of all comfort)
* Galatians 2:20 (I am crucified with Christ)
* Ephesians 6:10-20 (the whole armour of God)
* Philippians 1:20-26 (To live is Christ, to die is gain)
* 2 Thessalonians 2:15-17 (comfort your hearts)
* 1 Timothy 1:14-17 (I obtained mercy)
* 2 Timothy 1:7-12 (I am persuaded)
* Titus 2:11-15 (the grace of God)
* Hebrews 4:14-16 (our great high priest)
* James 1:17-18 (every good and perfect gift)
* 1 Peter 2:21-25 (Christ, our great example)
* 1 John 4:18-19 (no fear in love)
* Revelation 22 (Yes, the entire chapter!)

What are you favorite Scriptures of peace, comfort and encouragement?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Weekend Of Thirsting

This is the first green plant that I bought for our new home. When I picked it out it was all green and full and vibrant. I knew this bay window was the perfect place for a plant so lovely.

Now, there's no picture of my thumb because it is definitely not green. After just a couple of weeks my poor plant was droopy and sad...not the vibrant plant I brought home. I watered it ever few days, but it just wasn't making it.

So I started watering it more. You could practically hear it slurping up the water through its little roots. Apparently I was doing the right thing, just not enough of it.

My beautiful plant gets watered just about every day of the week now, and it's even greener, fuller and more vibrant than when I found it.

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. Psalm 42:1

Make this a weekend of thirsting for God. In the way both the deer and the green plant long for water, we should be panting, thirsting, longing for the presence of the Lord. Let's lay aside the temporary, worldly things that have us all tied up in knots - that will leave us open for the Living Water that will quench our thirst.

Friday, January 20, 2012

For The Beauty Of The Earth

And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. Genesis 8:21-22

Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine. Exodus 19:5

O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! Psalm 8:9

The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Psalm 24:1

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Happy Popcorn Day!

January 19 is set aside as National Popcorn Day. So sit down tonight with a great movie and a special bowl of popcorn.

Looking for something a little different? There are many options to choose from.

* Microwave
* Stove top
* Air popped

* Butter/light butter/no butter
* Kettle corn
* Salt/lightly salted/no salt
* Caramel club

* Chocolate pieces
* Any kind of cereal
* 2 Tbsp sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon
* Grated cheese
* Nuts
* Chopped, dried fruit
* Mini cookies
* Mini marshmallows
* Mini candies
* Any variety of spices

Enjoy your own personal Popcorn Day!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Falling Through The Cracks

What do you notice first when you look at this picture - the snow on the deck or the cracks where the snow has fallen through?

Some days I feel like the pretty white, drifted snow that's gracing the world around me. I'm at perfect peace, I'm walking close to the Lord and I feel like I'm right in the middle of His perfect will. Those are the days that it's easy to witness, live for God and shine a light for those around me.

But on the other days, I feel exactly like those bare spots. The weight of the snow has pushed through, leaving a big, gaping, noticeable crack. I can't smooth over the snow around it to cover up the missing area - it will just fall through, too. I can't even push the fallen snow back up to fill in the empty space.

On those days it's a struggle just to get out of bed, let alone give my testimony. Shine a light? I'm not even sure where the light switch is! The gravity of circumstances, interactions with people and simple humanity pull down the snow and leave huge cracks in our very heart.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

No one knows more about tribulation in the world than Jesus Christ. He sees and feels the evil, hatred and pride more than anyone in history. He went through more tribulation while He walked this earth than many of us will see in a lifetime.

And yet He didn't quit, walk away and go pull the covers up over His head. The temptation is to give up and let the snow fall down through the cracks. But Jesus didn't say, That's fine. Go ahead and turn away from me. I understand.

He spoke of peace. He spoke of good cheer. He spoke of overcoming the world itself.

There are days when the snowfall will be pretty and white. It will cover the world with all of its shine and glitter. Other days it will slip through the cracks and reveal the broken places in our lives.

But regardless of what is happening in the circumstances of the world around us, Jesus Christ overcame the world for just such a moment. With Him in our hearts we have peace and we have good cheer.

The choice is to focus on the purity of the snow and not the cracks where it's empty.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Weekend of Scripture

If you've been following along in the daily devotional reading here, you'll have realized that we're finishing the book of Genesis today. In just two weeks we've read an entire book of the Bible.

That kind of joy should be great motivation to keep reading. We often get bogged down in certain books of the Bible or during different times of the year, but that's natural. The change in our heart attitude comes when we continue on simply to see what God wants to say next.

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

Make this a weekend of searching the Scriptures. Whether you're snowed in like some of us or not, this is the perfect time to search God's Word for the message He would have you hear this weekend and the rest of your life.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Gospel, Delivered By A Child

I had an entire hour to myself. No work, no people, no responsibilities for an entire hour.

Yes, this is quite out of the ordinary, and I was determined to enjoy myself. I had a little walking around money, so I headed to Target to wander the aisles...for an entire hour.

I had already picked up a necessity, a sort-of needed and a completely frivolous by the time I found my way to the movie and music section of the store. I was having so much fun wandering by myself that I didn't even notice him at first.

All I heard was a voice ask, There's lots to look at, huh?

Now, I'm back in the town I grew up in after being away for more than 10 years. I'm not sure that I'd recognize too many people now. But this voice was very, very young for someone who would know me from Eve.

The boy standing next to me couldn't have been more than 12. He was wearing huge glasses, much too large for his face, and was only wearing a T-shirt and jeans. It may be unusually warm in Iowa right now, but I didn't think it was that warm. Although a good shopping run through Target has been known to warm my heart...

Well, I certainly didn't know him, but I was polite and said, There sure is. This is a pretty big store, and they have something for everyone, I think.

Thinking it was just a passing comment, I started to walk down the next aisle and back into the silence of my alone time. Then I heard the little footsteps.

What kind of stuff are you looking for?

He was right behind me, looking up with a half-smile on his face. I couldn't help but smile back.

I'm just wandering for a while. Not looking for anything special.

He reached for the closest movie and held it up. Have you seen this one? It's really good.

Yes, I have...and it is.

What about this one?

No, not that one.

Oh, well, it's not that good.

As he was talking, I was trying to inch my way down the aisle to continue my shopping. For every step I took, he took two to keep up. I wasn't really trying to escape, just keep moving so I used every moment of my precious hour.

What about music? Do you like music?

He asked in such a timid way that I had to smile again. I walked toward that aisle and said, Yes. I do. Many different kinds.

And he listed all the kinds, groups and singers that he had ever heard. I couldn't help smiling at him and asking questions just to hear him keep talking.

After a few minutes it was time for me to head to the checkout counter. My time was up and so was my spending money for the day. Just as solemnly as could be, he held out his hand and told me his first name. I shook it just as grown-up-like as I could and told him mine.

Then he told me to have a good evening and he disappeared in the opposite direction.

This little boy had me in tears by the time I reached my car. He had completely destroyed my plans for alone time - and I didn't care. He had interrupted my plan for the evening - and it didn't matter. He had even been a little pushy, not leaving my side even as I continued to walk - and it was quite alright.

He hadn't said a word about Christianity, Jesus Christ or God, but I felt like the Holy Spirit had completely washed over me. This child was willing to walk up to a perfect stranger and be friendly. He didn't know a thing about me, but found something fun and interesting to talk about anyway.

Am I like this with the people around me? I think about my family, my co-workers, my church family and the complete strangers who share this town with me. Would I be willing to walk up to someone that I'd never met before and talk to them, just to say hello and have a nice day?

We often think that witnessing to people means quoting Scripture and preaching about hell, and sometimes it is. But this one particular day, God touched my heart through a little boy who just needed a friend.

I pray I was able to show him the Gospel through my words and actions the way he showed me. Whether he meant to or not.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Steak Salad

Would you believe that I had to come back to Iowa to learn how to use a grill pan?

Actually, the two are unrelated. It's just how it happened. When you're in the middle of a land that raises so much beef, you naturally want to get a taste of what is going on around you.

So out came the grill pan and from that came this lovely steak salad. It's one of my new favorites (yes, I know that I have many favorites) and I've been able to change it up a little with different cuts of meat and different toppings.

Begin by heating 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil in the grill pan. Not too much, though, or it will get too hot and the meat will taste oily.

Lightly season the steak with salt, pepper and a little season salt. You can also use Montreal Steak or another of your favorite spice mixes. Just be frugal with how much you apply - you don't want to cover up the flavor of the meat.

Then add the meat to the pan, turning only once, until cooked to your favorite doneness. I don't cover it so I can watch the cooking happen. If you turn more than once you'll ruin those lovely char marks and the meat won't cook very evenly. Plan on 8-9 minutes per side, but keep an eye on the middle of the meat.

When it's finished, remove the meat to a carving board and let it sit for a few minutes. Then cut it into bite-sized pieces. Put together a leafy bed of romaine and spinach and lay the steak on top. Choose your favorite extras like mandarin oranges, raisins and nuts. You'll be eating healthy and you'll have a beautiful presentation.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Next Generation Stamps

 Instead of using two or three different colors of ink for your next stamping project, just use the second generation technique.

For these two flowers, I inked my stamp with a dark red ink. After stamping, without re-inking it, I stamped the second image. This uses the same color, just a lighter shade of it.

This is a great technique for saving time and energy, plus you don't have to color match as you work. Because it's the same color, each generation will be in the same color family.

If you've inked really well, you can even do a third generation, one that's very light and very beautiful. Stamp a couple of times and cut them out, then stamp a couple more on the paper itself. The variety of shades will add some visual interest because they all go together.

This is how I used my second generation flowers - layering them and raising one on 3D adhesive. They will always coordinate and you don't even have to think about it! Yay!

This card, along with many other cards and paper gifts, can be found in my etsy shop: http://www.stufffromtrees.etsy.com/.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Rubber Bands

For the most part, human beings are unyielding, inflexible creatures. We love our structure, our schedules and our routines. We are steeped in tradition and don't bend when circumstances around us change.

I have a bowl full of rubber bands in my kitchen drawer. If I dump them out on the counter, they retain their shape and size. They will just lay there, unchanging, in the same position.

But in that unchanging position, they can never be used. The purpose of a rubber band is to be stretched around something so it can be held together. If that rubber band never changes its shape, never gets stretched beyond where it is right now, it can't be used for its intended purpose.

You and I are exactly the same way. We may think it would be wonderful to stay exactly the same for the rest of our lives, never having to change or adapt. We get comfortable and stable in the moment we're in right now - why change that?

Because God has a purpose for us, just like we have a purpose for that rubber band. If we don't get stretched a little, forced to change a little, He can't use us for our intended purpose. Yes, this moment may be happy and comfortable, but we'd be useless to God without a little stretching.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

Our human minds may never understand the purpose behind the stretching and changing we go through in this life. But the thoughts and ways of God are perfect and higher than we could ever imagine.

What is God asking you to yield to today? Are you being asked to stretch beyond what you think is your capacity? I pray we will each remember that our comfortable shape is being changed for a purpose - the Lord's purpose.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Weekend of Observation

I wasn't even paying attention.

I know that sounds terrible, but I was busy juggling three different projects and it wasn't going well. The girls were out of sight and I was bustling around in the back of the house.

And then I heard it. The scariest growling I've ever heard in my life. However, I happen to hear that growl on a daily basis - from my Bailey dog.

So into the kitchen I ran to see what she had discovered. She was standing in the dining room looking out the bay window, growling like there was a masked intruder about to take off with me.

But it wasn't an intruder, just half a dozen deer on the lawn. They were making their way up the driveway and over the yard to the woods. Without so much as a "How do you do" they were eating breakfast as they went...whatever they could find in the grass.

The three of us sat at the window for almost half an hour, just watching the deer eat, look around and perk their ears up at little sounds. It was such a beautiful, peaceful moment. One that I would have missed if Bailey hadn't been so observant.

What blessings from God Himself have we missed out on because we're too busy to be observant? I often wonder if our rushing diverts our attention from the still small voice that shows us the joy, peace and love of God.

Make this a weekend of observation. Shut everything else off and just observe your surroundings: the people, objects, places and things that make up the world around you. You might be surprised by what God has placed there, just for you.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Happiest Dog In The World

I just had to share our "Happiest Dog In The World" moment with you. Isn't Bailey beautiful?

She is my runner. If you let her out without a leash on she will run...and run...and run...until she literally can't run anymore. On several occasions when we were living in the city, she would escape from the house and travel the neighborhood for ages. She's very fast and she loves to stretch her legs.

But now we have acres and acres of our own land for her to run on. We just hadn't let her yet. Basically I was afraid that if I let her go, she'd end up out on the highway or through the fence onto someone else's land.

But two days after Christmas was Bailey's birthday. To celebrate, she got to run. I let her off the leash and walked out out the door with her sister firmly in tow. (Little Miss Hip Displaysia doesn't get to run full out anymore.)

Bailey looked at me, looked at the ridge in the distance, looked at me again...and smelled her freedom.

There is nothing more beautiful than a dog running through the woods. She found the trail that leads over the ridge and then found another trail. That one winds around to another trail. And another one. By the time Sadie and I caught up, she was at full gallop.

I have never seen a happier dog than this one. She was trailing the deer and turkeys that she only gets to see from the window. She was looking and sniffing and listening the way a dog is supposed to. It's a glorious sight.

And she actually came back to me every time I called her. This is a first in her entire 10 years of life, so that was her birthday present to me. When she was finally winded, I put her leash back on and we headed for the house. This picture is the result of more than half an hour of running her tensions out.

You can't ask for a better birthday present than that. And guess what we'll be doing again today?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy Bird Day!

That's right! Today is National Bird Day - I'm sorry I didn't bake you a cake, but...

Instead, I'll share some amazing bird-related Scripture for your studying joy. May you truly be blessed by what God's Word says about these adorable creatures.

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. Matthew 13:31-32

Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? Luke 12:24

And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth. Genesis 8:11

Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Exodus 19:4

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God. Psalm 84:2-3

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Matthew 10:16

Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove: mine eyes fail with looking upward: O LORD, I am oppressed; undertake for me. Isaiah 38:14

The trees of the LORD are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted; Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house. Psalm 104:16-17

As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it. Isaiah 31:5

Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south? Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high? Job 39:26-27

Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Psalm 124:7

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Butterscotch Bars

Christmas is the perfect time to get all sorts of nostalgic - and these butterscotch bars are a central part of my childhood memories.

They were one of my family's favorites. My grandmother always made them with coconut because that was one of her special ingredients.

Even the smell alone brings back floods of lovely memories for me. I pray you can have the same memories, or make some new ones, with this treasured recipe.

2/3 cup unsalted butter (softened VERY well)
1 pound light brown sugar
3 eggs
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
splash of vanilla
1/2 cup coconut
1 package butter scotch chips

1. Set out the butter to soften. It must be VERY soft or it won't incorporate into the dough very well.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

3. Lightly spray a cookie sheet (the kind with high edges) with nonstick cooking spray. For more cake-y bars, spray a 13x9 glass baking dish.

4. Mix all of the ingredients except the chips in a large bowl.

5. Spread the mixture in the cookie sheet - it will be very sticky. Cover the top with the chips and press them in gently with your fingers.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Check on them towards the end of the half hour. Those in the cookie sheet may be done a minute early, while the ones in the glass dish made need a couple of extra minutes. Check for a light brown color (like they've been toasted), because the middle will probably be a little smooshy.

7. Set on a cooling rack. Cut into bars when completely cool. Store in an air-tight container, if they last that long. I ate two just removing them from the pan!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Changing From Christmas To Winter

This weekend began the slow process of taking down Christmas decorations. This time always depresses me a little because even though the Spirit of Christmas remains all year long, the baubles and sparkles get put away into plastic boxes.

So that's when I started thinking about re-purposing some of our Christmas pieces for the winter season. Blue, gold and silver are all great winter colors, too, so they can stay out until temperatures warm up.

Here's another example. I adore this wood serving tray, but I don't want to ruin it with food residue. During this Christmas season I used it to hold a collection of inexpensive ball ornaments. I really like they way the lights from the chandelier and the large windows shine on the ornaments.

For winter, I just traded out the ornaments for battery-operated tea lights and glass pebbles. They remind me of how the ice on the ponds shine when the sunlight hits them. The tea lights are even more dramatic in the evening, when the lights are low. Use twinkle lights - trust me!

Before you get all of your Christmas decorations put away, what can you find to use for another purpose? Baskets? Crates? Frames? Garland? Ornaments and other decorations?
So many ideas, so little time!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Cherish God's Gifts

Yesterday was our very special sixth anniversary. We chose New Year's Day for two reasons: so we'll never, ever forget the date, and so the whole world can celebrate with us.

This year for my anniversary/Christmas/Valentine's Day/every-other-holiday-for-the-coming-year present, my husband did the very sweetest thing. I saw this painting at the local Christian book store and fell wildly in love with it. I had been looking for something very particular to go on this wall space in our dining room. You can see this wall from the driveway, so the first thing you would see as you pulled up to our house is the artwork we chose for this special wall.

The colors were perfect, the flowers were exquisite and the writing spoke to my heart.
And it was gone.
When we went back to buy it, it wasn't there. Someone else in our area has this beautiful painting hanging on their wall. A little disappointed, we left to shop another day for something else.
Little did I know that thoughts were already circulating in my husband's head. (No jokes are allowed to be inserted in this space.) He went back to the store without me and asked about this painting. They didn't have any more, but their sister store an hour away did.
So my wonderful husband took me out to supper that night, sent me back to work and drove that hour to quietly buy me this reminder of God's gifts. He was willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to place the love of the Lord in front of my eyes every day. All secretiveness aside, it is one of the most loving acts I have ever received.
Now I have not only the beautiful painting that touches my spirit every time I see it, but I have the special memory of the loving husband who wants to surround me with God's Word.
Happy anniversary, Sweetheart. I love you.