Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Weekend of Beholding the Breathtaking

Oh my, what we miss when we put our blinders on and plow through the day.

God showers us with blessings every day, even on the road when you're headed to church. While a sunset might be an everyday occurrence, we take its beauty and its splendor for granted.

Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD. Psalm 150:6

Make this a weekend of shedding the blinders and beholding the breathtaking wonders God has created. They're just for you, just for today, just because He can.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Waters

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. Genesis 1:2


He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. Luke 6:48


And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Psalm 1:3


Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. Isaiah 12:3


The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters. Psalm 29:3

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bird Nest Cupcakes

Upon first inspection, this appears to be an ordinary carton of eggs. But that's the idea!

Inside is a set of 18 lovely little bird nest cupcakes. Each one is a lemon cake covered with frosting and toasted coconut, then topped with a robin's egg candy. This is the perfect treat for spring, and even though it looks time-consuming and complicated, it's definitely not.

Ingredients:
* 1 box of lemon cake mix
* egg, oil and water as directed on the box
* 1 package coconut flake
* 1 container whipped vanilla frosting
* 1 package robin's egg candy

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line mini muffin tin with paper liners.

2. Fix cake mix as directed on the box. Divide into mini muffin tin lined with paper liners.

3. Bake at 350 degrees for 13 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool completely.

4. Turn oven down to 300 degrees.

5. Line an edged baking sheet with foil. Cover foil with a dingle layer of coconut. Place in oven, watching carefully. The edges will begin to turn brown and then the whole thing will go very quickly. Remove when about half is toasted. This gives you the combination of brown and white in the bird nest. Put toasted coconut in a bowl and continue with rest of the bag.

6. Liberally frost the cupcakes and twirl in the bowl of coconut to cover completely. Use a tiny dollop of frosting to attach the egg to the top of the cupcake. 

Each box of cake mix will make 65-70 mini cupcakes. Any leftover toasted coconut can be used for other baking or for ice cream topping. Hmmm....two goodies in one!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring Means Repotting Plants

OK, truth be told, you can re-pot plants all four seasons of the year. But it's spring and I'm re-potting a plant, so it makes sense, right?

The real reason that this is a big deal is because of my thumb. You probably can't see it from where you're sitting, but my thumb is very, very brown - not a hint of a green thumb anywhere on my body.

When I was in college, I killed a cactus.

So for any plant of mine to get to the point of needing to be replanted into a larger container, it's really a cause for celebration.

I bought this plant as one of four from the grocery store florist. They were adorable, little plants wrapped in brown paper. This is the only one that survived, so I'm being very, very careful with it.

I had an idea of what I wanted for a new planter but couldn't find it. I had seen some lovely planters made from the inserts of old slow cookers, and I thought that would be a great planter for my dining room window. Well, would you believe that none of the thrift shops in town had old, broken slow cookers for sale? The ones they did have were all one piece, and I really didn't want a whole slow cooker in the window. A little weird...

After a week of shopping from store to store, I finally resigned myself to waiting. Surely the little plant would live a few more days until I could find the perfect planter. And then I found it ... in my own collection! This metal dish has held everything from chocolates to Christmas ornaments to starter logs for the fireplace. And now it's the perfect size for my plant!

A few rocks in the bottom, half a bag of potting soil from the dollar store and plenty of water. Now the roots are all cleaned off and they have plenty of room to grow. I trimmed the tops off last fall, so the new white buds are coming back in a multitude - so pretty to see.

I'll have to remember to show it to you again in a few weeks. It's like baby pictures, only in green! And pray for my thumb, OK? Thanks.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Secret Little Spot

Up the hill and off towards the road stands this beautiful old tree. It's my favorite tree on the entire property. It has a lovely secret that you can't see from anywhere, at least not until you're right upon it.

The entire base of the tree is hollow. Not being a tree expert, I don't know if it grew that way, became hollowed out over time or was cleared out by animals or bugs. All I know is that it now has this special trait that separates it from all the other trees in the woods.

You can tell when you get close that it has been home to many generations of ... something. It's fun to think about lots of babies being born in that tree, it being used as a safe haven from predators and a lovely place for a summer's afternoon nap.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Psalm 91:1-4

There is a secret place that is even more special than this tree. It's in the presence of the Lord, and not everyone has trusted that it's there. That's what makes it a secret for those of us who have been there.

There's a feeling of safety in the shadow of God, when we're resting in the refuge and fortress of the Almighty. It's a place to be separated, quiet and covered - protected from the noise of the day. The Lord offers His love and peace while He's keeping up the defenses.

Have you found your secret place yet? Is there somewhere God has given you to be a secret place of refuge? Has He given you a spot of total peace and comfort? Have you been there lately?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Weekend Of Reclaiming Joy

The week tends to get all cluttered up with work, chores, responsibilities and all the extra stuff that we heap upon ourselves. And then the weekend comes and we think we need to get even more done while we have some spare time.

That doesn't give us much time, does it? Or much joy in the doing?

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. Habakkuk 3:18-19
 
Make this a weekend of reclaiming the joy that God has richly blessed you with through His salvation - whatever it takes and however long it takes. The joy of the Lord truly is our strength.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Drawn To The Light

They beat their little wings against the window pane every night. They can see the light through the glass and they are drawn to it...like a moth to the flame.

They are moths, and they are drawn to the brightest of lights. You can find them around the security light, the street light and the living room light every single night.

We often describe moths as robotic, mindless creatures, following the light like zombies. Maybe in a sense they are and do...but don't they really have the right idea?

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. John 8:12

The moth is simply following the light like it has been programmed to follow. As Christian women, we have also been reprogrammed to seek the Light, the Light of Christ. As the Light of the world, Jesus Christ is drawing us closer and closer to Him, motivating us to follow Him wherever He will lead.

So it's never wrong or robotic or mindless to be drawn to the Light. We're not brainwashed if our only desire is to be in the presence of the Lord. It's perfectly natural, once you've seen the Light, to want to be near the Light.

Are you drawn?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Day Of Letting Go

It's finally spring in Iowa and our entire household has been cooped up for too long. We were all tense, anxious and ready to let go of some built-up tension.

So I opened the back door and released the hounds.


Bailey headed down the path between the ponds and was in the water before I could even get off the porch. Her sister wasn't far behind her. Then they ran, and they ran, and they ran. And when Sadie couldn't run anymore, Bailey ran and ran and ran some more.


Soon she was all tuckered out and soaked through. I think she explored about half of our 33 acres and would have kept going if she could.


She was too tired to run anymore, so she decided to help Danny fish the big pond. Although her idea of helping was to swim in exactly the spot he wanted to cast into. I don't think he ever caught anything in that area. Silly puppy.


Sadie and I were happy sitting on the bank watching them. After just a couple of hours we were all unwound and ready to go take baths. It was the perfect way to let go and enjoy the new property. And scare a few fish.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Breakfast For Supper

What is it about having breakfast foods for supper that seems so wonderful and decadent? Often we'll rush through the morning and have a little cereal or a protein bar and won't sit down long enough to do more.

But come dinnertime, we love those special breakfast treats that we didn't have time for in the morning. Danny gave me a waffle maker (the spinning kind like they have at the hotel) for Christmas, and I'm absolutely in love with it! Even better than the restaurant, I'd say.

So why is breakfast for dinner so special?

* It's a comfort food. After a long day out in the world, what really compares to waffles and warm syrup, crisp bacon and gooey eggs?

* It's out-of-the-ordinary. Sometimes having "the usual" at an unusual time gets us out of a rut, lets us have a little fun and makes us feel like a kid again.

* There's actually time to enjoy it. I don't know about you, but we don't normally have time to pull out the waffle maker or fry bacon before Danny goes to work in the morning. But in the evening, it's a little more relaxing and we can make it an event.

So what's your favorite breakfast-for-dinner meal? There's lots to choose from!

* The traditional: bacon, eggs, pancakes, waffles
* The sweet: doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, powdered sugar on everything
* The elegant: quiche, fruit
* The old-fashioned: monkey bread, eggs-in-the-hole, sausage bake, coffee cake

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Easter Card Ideas

Can you believe that it's less than three weeks until Easter? Spring has sprung and it's time to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior!

If you're looking for some crafty ideas for this year's Easter cards, please check out the etsy treasury my friend Katie made. You'll find it here. She's found tons of examples of handmade cards that just scream spring.

Now go out and get creative!

Monday, March 19, 2012

When You Feel Like You're About To Topple

This is exactly what I've felt like for the past couple of weeks. Instead of dropping my baggage at the footstool of the Throne of Grace, I've held on to it. Instead of casting all my cares, I've tied them on a little tighter.

And this is the result of holding and tightening and keeping. You get top-heavy and eventually topple over.

The inside of this tree was all empty and weak because there was too much at the top, pulling it over. Have you ever felt that way? Are you feeling that way right now?

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

We were never meant to carry the weight of the world around with us. We were never meant to be so overloaded that we reach our breaking point. That is what our relationship with the Lord changes.

He calls us to come to Him, to meet Him at the place where it's safe to drop everything we're carrying. We labor and become laden down with life, but in the presence of God we're able to find perfect rest and peace.

Are you about to topple? Have you labored so much that you're top heavy and about to keel over?

Find time to be in the presence of the Lord today and savor the rest you'll find there. Do it now before you snap. He's waiting for you.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Memory Verse Scripture Cards

My chiropractor offers Scripture while he's adjusting your spine. While things are popping and cracking and creaking, he'll ask if you'd rather hear Ephesians or 1 John. I always leave feeling not only physically better, but spiritually renewed as well.

He has most of the New Testament memorized and presents it with meaning and understanding. I walked away from my appointments this week with renewed desire to work on my own Scripture verses again.

I've been trying to memorize several sections of "women verses" from my favorite sections of the Bible. The only way I can accomplish that, thanks to my terrible, horrible short-term memory,  is to have it continually before my eyes. That's why I made these memory verse cards for my desk at work. I want desperately to memorize the Proverbs 31 woman, so each of my cards has one verse on it. Then each day I add a new one to the ones I already know.

To make my memory verse cards, I used an old pack of playing cards and covered each side with pretty decorator paper. Then I formatted and printed out the verses on my computer. (I wish that was my handwriting, but no.) A couple of embellishments and I have a beautiful way to have God's Word with me all day at work. I just slide it into a jumbo paper clip and attach it to the organizer on my desk.

How do you work on memory verses?

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Robin's Foundation

I watched the little robin as he tried to make headway across the yard. He had a terribly strong wind to contend with and he was having problems keeping forward momentum. He had to walk because flying was out of the question with so much working against him.

The winds have been incredibly strong here this week, and he was such a tiny little thing. I'd had trouble just getting the car door open because of the wind, so I couldn't imagine how he would be able to fight it.

And then I understood how he was progressing. He would walk until the wind picked up, and then he would plant his little feet as firmly into the ground as he could. He tucked his little chin down and braced himself against the gale while his feathers ruffled and the leaves whizzed past.

Once the wind died down, he would fluff himself and walk a little further. When it turned from breeze to forceful wind again, he planted himself, tucked his head and waited. Otherwise he would have ended up in the next county, far away from home.

This little robin is the answer to making it through the hurricane of winds in our lives. We can't try to fly away or push against everything that comes our way. We have to ground ourselves firmly in the Lord, tuck our heads against the gale-force winds and wait them out. To do otherwise would be attempting to change our circumstances ourselves, and that just isn't humanly possible.

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:
Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. Colossians 1:22-29

So are you grounded in Christ, or are you struggling against the wind of circumstances?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Weekend of Lifting Up

When the moon is this close and this bright, you can't help but look up at it. It draws and keeps your attention, turning your eyes upward.

And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Nehemiah 8:6

Make this a weekend of lifting up eyes to Heaven and hands in praise. But also make this a weekend of bowing and worshiping, too. Our Heavenly Father deserves both.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

If My Girls Were Dalmations...

 ...then this is what they'd look like! Or maybe reverse Dalmatians. I'm not sure.

It had been cold and snowy for many days in a row, and then we enjoyed a few days of what felt like summer because of the sunshine.

And then we had this freak day of snow. Danny had driven north about two hours for work and they had nothing. Apparently it was centered over our town and dumped all it had. But it had been so warm that it was gone by suppertime.

Weather in Iowa is weird! As I write this post, it's almost 70 degrees. But I've seen the forecast and we're to have more of the white stuff in the next day or two.

So the girls will go out and play in it, look like Dalmatians for a little while and then track it all inside. It's a good thing they're trained to give me each foot to be toweled off.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Quick and Easy Meatball Calzones

This is one of my favorite alternatives for "pizza and a movie night." With just three (or four) ingredients, you can have a hot snack that's something out of the ordinary.

Ingredients:
1 can (13.8 oz) refrigerated pizza crust
1 jar (24-26 oz) mini meatball pizza sauce
or
1 bag frozen mini meatballs, thawed
1 jar (24-26 oz) pizza sauce
1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with nonstick foil.

2. Unroll crust on cutting board and stretch to a 12-inch square. Cut into quarters and move to baking sheet.

3. Cut meatballs in half and pile at one end of the square. top with a handful of cheese and then cover with sauce. Repeat for all four squares.

4. Fold over and crimp the edges closed with a fork.

5. Bake at 425 degrees for 10-13 minutes, until crust turns golden. Heat remaining sauce and serve on the side.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Congratulations Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Milani for winning the prayer journal giveaway this week!

She was randomly chosen to receive this handmade prayer journal from the Stuff From Trees etsy shop. Here's how she'll be using this journal in her daily walk with God.

Hi!

I will use it for my mentoring of my 12 youth leaders.
Devotion or journaling is one of our core values in our Church... "no devotion...... no breakfast, no devotion........ no bed."
Devotion or journaling is part of our everyday life, as what the Bible tell us .... meditate on it day and night...
.....it will make more inspiring to write if i will use your journal!!!
Thank you and God bless.

For more information about the Stuff From Trees shop or our line of prayer journals, please visit http://www.stufffromtrees.etsy.com/.

Congratulations Milani!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Why Can't I Relax?

The mornings are the worst. I work nights at the newspaper as a copy editor, so early mornings are pretty difficult. But those few minutes I have with Danny before he goes to work are extremely precious, so I gladly roll out of bed to be with him.

Lately, though, I've been waking up with every muscle in my body clenched. From my neck to my shoulders to my lower back, I'm just as tight as can be. Perhaps I was alligator wrestling all night. Or maybe I'm just having problems relaxing. Sometimes I think I'm putting in a full day's work and then trying to accomplish some more while I sleep.

It's not like I have stress in my life ... note the touch of sarcasm ... like we all do. Balancing home, husband, work, family and the extra stuff isn't easy. God never said it would be. And we think we have to function at some super-hero level that wins us awards and accolades. But God never said we did.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

The whole duty of the day is boiled down to two points: fear God and keep His commandments. Everything else, anything else that we add in ourselves, is just extra. We're only called upon to do these two things with all our heart, with all our mind and with all our soul.

The stress of the day will come, and I will probably add to it myself. But the conclusion of the matter is that we're to spend the day is righteous, holy fear of the Lord and do everything in our power to keep His commandments.

And then we can relax, thanks to the blessings of God.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Weekend Of Praising Him More

The longer we spend on this earth and the more goodness and mercy we receive from the Lord, the more we should be praising Him.

Whether it's the beauty of a snowy day, a moment of joy in a sorrowful time or forgiveness when we need it most, we have countless reasons every day to lift our voices in praise.

But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more. Psalm 71:14

David knew exactly what we know now: God is great and greatly to be praised. We have more to praise Him for today than we did yesterday simply because of His greatness.

Make this a weekend of giving up complaining, bitterness and self-pity. Let every single word that comes out of your mouth offer up praise to our God, for He is worthy of praise.

Friday, March 2, 2012

We Are The Branches



Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. John 15:2


For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Job 14:7


Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine; And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that thou madest strong for thyself. Psalm 80:14-15
 

He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch. Proverbs 11:28
 

Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. Isaiah 60:20-21
 

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:5

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Have You Been Honking?

Now that warmer temperatures are setting in, the ice on our ponds has broken up. Apparently that is an invitation for all of the local geese to join the menagerie on the property.

At first there were just two and they were a pretty pair to watch on the water. Then two became four ... and then seven. Now I think there are five or six pairs on the pond at any given moment.

This wouldn't be so bad if they weren't noisy as all get-out. They'll start honking for no apparent reason, and then they all have to join in and complain. It goes on most of the day, but it's especially bad about 10 minutes before the alarm goes off in the morning.

I think about Christians when I hear the geese honking. We squawk about the circumstances of the day. We raise our voices over how people are supposed to (or not supposed to) act, talk or think. We might even honk in frustration to God over the little things.

... but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing. 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12

If we're lifting our faces to God and lowering our eyes to the Bible, we won't have the peripheral vision to focus on anything else. The peace of God's presence and the joy in His mercy is more than enough to keep us quiet and fixed on Him.

Have you been honking lately?