Monday, August 20, 2012

A No-Tech Week

My computer has taken its final breath this weekend.

I'll be spending this week finding out if it can be rebuilt (for less than $6 million), or deciding if I will buy a new one.

So this will be a no-tech week. I'll not be posting until next Monday, but please reread your favorite posts, try a recipe from the cooking section and say an extra prayer for me.

I'm excited to see what the Lord has in store for me between now and then.

Joy In the Moment

As soon as _____, then I'll be happy.
If only I could _____, I'd feel better.
When _____, everything will be alright.
Someday I'll be able to _____, and that's when life will be perfect.

As soon as.
If only.

Do you ever hear these words and phrases rolling around in your own head? Do you think about whatever circumstances will make your life better than it is right now?

Well, join the club. We're all dissatisfied with something in our lives, whether it be our relationships, our finances, our living situation, our job or our spirituality.

But that would all change and I'd feel wonderful ... if ...

Some searching is OK. We're not to be satisfied with the things of earth because we know what we're going to receive in Heaven. This kind of longing for something new and different was planted in us at salvation. This is the reaching out for something better that is rooted and grounded in God.

The difference between healthy and unhealthy dissatisfaction is losing your joy for the moment. Things won't be wonderful until ... is a scary place to be.

I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 16:8-11

In the presence of the Lord, there is joy, gladness and pleasures. That moment is now, not somewhere down the road when something else happens, which leads to this circumstance which will finally make things right. This kind of thinking sucks all the joy out of this very moment, the moment God created just for you.

On the path of life, God's special path carved out just for you, He has promised to walk right beside you. He's already seen each curve in the trail and knows exactly what you'll need to make it through safely. This is why you can sit right here in this moment, be still and experience a fullness of joy that is unexplainable. Nothing else is necessary because the Lord has given all He has for this very moment.

Nothing is held back. The pleasures have always been there. You can rest in hope knowing that this moment, this very moment in time, is perfectly designed to be just what you need.

What is the joy in your moment, your right-now moment?
Whatever it is, it's from God for your joy and His pleasure.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Weekend of Softness

This is one of the two blankets that I made. It is the very softest thing I have ever felt in my entire life. It is very heavy and perfect for the chilly winter months, but I keep it out all year just because I enjoy feeling its softness.

Even softer than this yarn is the sweet words God gives us when we need them. Scripture tells us all about how softness can combat the hardening of hearts, of minds and of the things we say.

Make this a weekend of finding some softness. Read Job 43, Proverbs 15 and Proverbs 25. Pray that the Lord will remove anything hard from your life and replace it with the joy of His softness.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Work Days On the Property

Praise God, we've finally gotten some much-needed rain! They say that we won't be fully out of our drought until at least November at this rate, but what a lovely, cleansing few days we've had.

The rain has greened everything up, and the grass is even starting to look healthy again. The browns and dark colors of drought are slowly being replaced by those cool shades of green that make you smile a little when you haven't seen them for a while.

And that means we're having work days on the property! There hasn't been much reason to mow or trim until now. And a couple of days off means I can get caught up on the inside work, too. It feel so good to be productive.

I pray your week will end with joy, peace, answered prayer and some extra-special blessings.

Enjoy the day! Time to roll up my sleeves!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

How Many Tennis Balls?

Do you remember the old commercial where the little boy asks the wise old owl how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?

I have a more pressing question.
How many tennis balls can one dog play with?

One tennis ball?

Two tennis balls?

Three tennis balls?

Four tennis balls?
I feel like The Count on Sesame Street...

Five tennis balls?

Six tennis balls?

How many tennis balls can one dog play with?
The world may never know.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bell Pepper and Tomato Salad

This refreshing summer salad is fabulous on its own as a side dish. We've also had lovely results this week mixing it with chopped-up chicken and chicken Parmesan. Not only is it super easy, it's also incredibly tasty and versatile.

1 each yellow, red and green peppers, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1 cup zesty Italian salad dressing

1. Chop the peppers.

2. Halve the tomatoes.

3. Combine them in a bowl.

4. Add the dressing and mix well.

5. Refrigerate for at least a few hours before serving. This will give the dressing a chance to really sink in.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

An Elegant - And Fun - Gift Jar

We're doing our best to eat healthy - the goal is nine days with as much nutritional food as possible.

That makes snacking difficult, so we've cleaned out the sugar and replaced it with more natural choices. Nuts, for example, have become a quick favorite.

So to encourage Danny to choose them over something else, I made a layered gift jar with three of our favorites - walnuts, almonds and peanuts. The decorative vase was something I had saved in the back of the cupboard.

The note is tied on with twine to match the colors of the nuts and make it a little more manly gift. The note itself is made from some scraps of card-making paper and a few stickers. You can leave the back blank or write your own sweet message, like I did.

This makes a great, easy gift. If nuts aren't your thing, consider candy, decorative stones or pebbles, small toys, popcorn, cookies...whatever your gift recipient absolutely loves. Make the note something special and coordinate with your theme.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fighting the Negativity In the Darkness

You don't have to look very far to realize that this world is a dark place. Evil lurks in all the little corners, waiting to jump out and attack Christians. The devil can't have our souls, but he can try to take our joy.

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

It's so easy these days to use words - in person, over the phone, through a text or on social media - to tear someone down. When you're not face-to-face, it's easier to use words that will hurt and hinder rather than build up and encourage.

Be not ye therefore partakers with them. Ephesians 5:7

But that is not our place. We are not to team up with those who speak unkindly, and we are not to stoop to that level of communication.

For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: Ephesians 5:8

We are no longer walking in darkness like those who would destroy and conquer. Jesus Christ has left His light inside us to glow brighter than any darkness the world may try to envelope us with.

(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Ephesians 5:9

We are known by our fruit - by the good words, the righteous words, the true words that we share with others. The love of Christ comes pouring out when we're filled to overflowing with His Word.

Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. Ephesians 5:10

Darkness, hatred and anger are unacceptable to the Lord. Uplifting, edifying and comforting one another with our love through words is all He will accept.

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Ephesians 5:11

This is our opportunity to fight. Not with words that are equally angry and hateful, but with the sword of the Lord and His Word of truth. Loving, caring, kind, soft words can stop the fire before it burns out of control.

For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. Ephesians 5:12

Why should we even try to explain what's been said in anger, what's been shouted in hatred and what's been whispered in evil tones? Repeating those words of evil just keeps the darkness swirling around us.

But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Ephesians 5:13

But the Light is out there. God has placed the Light of Christ in the world to keep the darkness at bay. It doesn't have to swallow us up and steal our joy. The Light is manifest just for us.

Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. Ephesians 5:14

We need to awaken from the sleep of complacency. We should wake up to the truth of the darkness that lives right outside our door. We have to be aware of how the Light can be used to fight the evil that pokes and prods at us day after day. It comes from Christ alone.

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Ephesians 5:15

Be diligent in using words that share God's love. In walking as a testimony every day. In staying as close to the Light as possible so the darkness has nowhere to grab on. This is the wisdom that the Lord shares with us in quiet times, in times of hardship and moments of peace.

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:16

The people who are in darkness, who have never been to Calvary to meet Jesus Christ, will seek solace in their negativity. Nothing will ever be good enough in their eyes because they have chosen to focus on the darkness.

It's our responsibility then to buy back the time wasted in darkness and negativity. We are the only ones who can take the light of Christ in ourselves and share it with a lost and dying world. The days are evil, but God is bigger and brighter than they think.

The Light brings understanding, peace and joy. This is the Light that will illuminate the darkness and drive it away for good.

Rest in the Light.
Enjoy the Light.
Share the Light.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Weekend of Going Home

No matter where we are on the property, when I tell the girls it's time to go home, they know exactly where we're headed. They'll take off and tear up the hill to the house.

Home means more than just food and shelter. It means relationships, comfort, peace and joy. Home is the only place you'll find security and that special kind of love.

I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Revelation 2:2-4

Are you as familiar with your first love as you once were? Is Jesus Christ still the relationship, comfort, peace and joy that He was when you first got saved? Or has the excitement worn off as time passes?

Make this a weekend of going home. Return to your first love and rekindle that relationship with the Lord. Do whatever it takes to get grounded in Him and find your focus again.

It's time to go home.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Few Financial Priorities

He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. Ecclesiastes 5:10

Money is such a difficult, sensitive topic to talk about. We don't have enough, we wish we had more, we don't know how to use what we have or we just spend without a plan.

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5

So how do you handle your finances in a way that would be pleasing to the Lord? How can you be a good steward of all He has blessed you with?

* Old before new. We bought new living room furniture in the spring, and that made me want to get new furniture for the sunroom. Before I paid off the living room. But then I would have wanted the new bedroom furniture, too. Before I paid off the living room or the sunroom. This spiral of not paying for the old before you get more new is how debt snowballs. Be patient, buy one thing at a time and be content with what you have at this very moment.

* Cut out the small stuff. This is my downfall because I love little things. But a dollar here and a few cents there add up very quickly. Even a cup of coffee at the local shop every day can eat away at your financial goal. For a brief time - try a week or a month - cut out anything that's not essential and see how much you can really save.

* Be prepared. Putting money into savings may not be a priority for you right now, but it should be. Again, a little bit adds up, and you never know what God has planned around the next corner. When I dropped my computer and it went all wacky, I was able to use my savings to get a new one instead of budgeting, waiting for the next payday and bills to be paid. Now if it had truly been an emergency, not just a computer problem, we would have been even more grateful for some money set aside.

* Is this a need or a want? If you're serious about setting some financial priorities, this may be a difficult question to ask yourself. Before you buy anything, from a pack of gum to a new house, you have to ask yourself if this is a need or a want. I don't need new clothes, a vacation or more scrapbooking supplies. What I do need is to pay off bills, put food in the kitchen and have the cars serviced. After the needs are taken care of, the money is available for savings, taking care of some fixing up around the house and other projects that will soon need attention. I'd much rather have a new roof on the barn than a full closet or time on the beach.

* Take time to save up. Debt has been a serious issue in the American home for ages. If you're in debt, it's time to get out - it's a great goal in being a good steward of God's money. If you're not in debt, that's wonderful - now stay that way! Take the time to save up for your next major purchase and pay in cash. This will keep you from going into debt in the first place. And during the time you're saving, you may realize you really don't need or want that item after all, saving you from buyer's remorse.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Mayfly - Bane of My Existence

These yellow-winged insects are called mayflies. They resemble drawings of prehistoric creatures with horns and forked tails and nasty little eyes. That's why you will not be seeing an up-close picture of them today. That's how much I love you.

I wouldn't trade my ponds for anything, but that is where these bugs breed. That's why we have them in multitude on the property. Apparently we're a lovely mayfly nursery - lucky us.

You don't really see the flying around, mostly because they attach themselves to every surface of the house. They seem to love our front door in all its pretty maroon and glass. For a while I let them stay there just because they're God's creatures, but it didn't take long for me to get past that.

If they weren't such revolting-looking creatures, it might not be so bad, but I can't help thinking about horror movies where the infestation starts innocently enough, and then small children are being carried away to the mountains.

Mayflies only live for a couple of days in their adult form. This is a pretty good thing, in my opinion. But before those two days, they shed their skin like a snake. Then you have twice as many little things clinging to everything - including the screen to the deck.

Now, this is where I draw the line. The patio door is the largest window we have and it overlooks the ponds. This view is one of the major reasons we bought this house. I refuse to have my joy stolen by little winged creatures that stare at you and twitch their little forked tails.

So, when the rains were coming yesterday, I carefully (well, not really) brushed them all off. I thanked God for the robin that I saw dining on one of them. The rain carried off many of the rest.

Now, I feel no shame or guilt for this because they would have been gone today anyway. I'm sure the Lord created them for a reason, but it wasn't to be decoration on the side of my house. I'm just encouraging them to get out and explore the world in the short time they have here on earth.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Roasted Chicken Wings With Sweet Potatoes and Asparagus

I'm fascinated by any recipe that allows you to cook everything together at once. One-pan dishes and all-in-one meals always grab my attention.

That's why this roasted dinner is a favorite in my book. The chicken and sweet potatoes go in first, then you add the asparagus at the last minute. They're all so sticky sweet and tender by the end that you wish you'd done four pans and not just two.

* 1/4 cup soy sauce
* 1/4 cup honey
* lime juice
* 2 Tbsp minced garlic
* 2 sweet potatoes
* 20-25 chicken wings
* 1 bunch of asparagus
* seasoning salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover two baking sheets with aluminum foil. Spray with non-stick spray.

2. Combine the first four ingredients in a large bowl. Cut sweet potatoes into cubes and toss with the mixture. Spread in the center of the two baking sheets.

3. Toss the wings in the mixture and line the edge of the two baking sheets.

4. Roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn chicken and brush with remaining mixture. Stir the potatoes a little. Roast for an additional 15 minutes.

5. Add the asparagus and sprinkle everything with seasoning salt. Continue to roast until chicken is cooked through and asparagus is tender, about 10 minutes.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Summer Scrapbook Challenge

Summer has been so busy that I've fallen quite behind in my scrapbooking. OK, truth is, I'm so far behind I may never catch up.

So I challenged myself to a "farewell to summer" scrapbook page. A few of my favorite summer pictures, some typical summer colors and a couple of great images. Add a little journaling and some pretty patterns and I had a great summer wrap-up page!

Now the challenge is yours. Pull out some of those summer photos and find the summer-themed supplies I know you have stashed away somewhere. Put them all together and see just how much fun you've had over the past few months.
Here are some ideas to get you started.

* ladybugs
* sunshine
* picnics
* ice cream
* sunflowers
* flip flops
* sports
* watermelon
* fish
* butterflies
* paper lanterns

* fluorescent shades
* red, yellow and orange
* bright greens
* deep blues

Monday, August 6, 2012

Lies We Tell Ourselves

Just as our bodies get overloaded during the week and need a chance to reboot, our minds get just as cluttered. The enemy would like nothing more than for us to believe the confusion and the lies that he so subtly places there when we're tired and overflowing.

But the truth of God's Word will always hold the power over our lives and our minds.

Do any of these lies sound familiar in your own mind?

* The lie: I'm just worthless.
* The truth: For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. 1 Corinthians 6:20

* The lie: Tomorrow will be just like today.
* The truth:  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matthew 6:33-34
* The lie: I must be lacking something.
* The truth: And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power. Colossians 2:10

* The lie: I'll never have a real purpose in this world.
* The truth: But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. 1 Peter 2:9

* The lie: I'm so unloved.
* The truth: But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7

* The lie: I just can't do anything right.
* The truth: Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:11-13

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Weekend of Stillness

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. Psalm 23:1-2

How long do you think you could sit still?

For some people, this might not be so difficult. They can think, observe, wait and be calm just sitting.

I sure can't. Doing nothing brings only boredom and depression. I'm a doer not a sitter, and I know now that's what makes me happy and productive.

However, that's not what Scripture tells us about our heart condition.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10
We can't hear or focus when we're moving at a hundred miles an hour. The Lord is quietly calling us to be still and be overwhelmed with nothing but Him.

Make this a weekend of stillness. Wipe your schedule and your scoreboard clean - take whatever time is necessary to remember how to be still and listen to the Word of the Lord.

Friday, August 3, 2012

I Go to the Rock

Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. Deuteronomy 32:3-4

And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. 1 Samuel 2:1-2

And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence. 2 Samuel 22:2-3

I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. Psalm 40:1-2

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

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Lemonade Pie

There's not much better than lemonade in the heat of summer. Our temperatures are a little cooler this week, but this Lemonade Pie is still a breath of fresh air on an August day.

1 6oz can of lemonade concentrate
1 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1 12 oz container of whipped topping, divided
1 pre-made graham cracker pie crust
lemon zest, if you like

1. Combine lemonade concentrate and sweetened condensed milk in a bowl.

2. Add 2/3 of the container of whipped topping. (Just eyeball it.) Save the rest for garnish.

3. Pour mixture into the pie crust. Put the cover on and refrigerate for about 12 hours. (Overnight, or make it early in the morning for an evening treat.)

4. Garnish with the reserved whipped topping and a little lemon zest, if you like.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Dog Treat Catapult

At the bookstore the other day, Danny found this adorable tabletop catapult kit. He decided to put this together and see what all he could launch with it.

After trying a Hershey's Kiss, which I appreciated, we quickly changed to puppy treats.

Not only do they launch significantly better, it was a riot to watch the girls react to the incoming edible missiles.

Suddenly our lazy, sleepy dogs were all kinds of alert and full of love and attention. The building part must have been fun, but seeing the girls' eyes light up and ears perk up was the best part.