Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Weekend of Standing

When the deer come through the yard to have their breakfast, they never really stand still. They're always on the move, grazing from one side of the yard to the other, always in motion and always watching.

There is one deer who has injured one of his back legs. He won't put it down, but he can move just as quickly and easily as the others. It's clear, though, when he tries to stand still and eat from the ground that he has a serious problem.

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. 2 Thessalonians 2:15

We are called to stand firm in the Lord, holding on to what He has proclaimed as right. We can't be like the deer, constantly moving from one belief to another, from one fleeting thought to another. We can only be victorious in our Christian walk when we're standing rooted in the Word of the Lord.

Make this a weekend of standing - standing firm, standing grounded and standing fast in God.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Scripture Reading

And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD. 2 Kings 23:2


This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me. Psalm 119:50


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


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1


All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16


Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men. 2 Corinthians 3:2

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Puppies Love Autumn, Too!

Fall is a beautiful time in Iowa - and I'm not the only one who thinks so.


During our incredibly long, hot, dry spell this summer, everyone (man and dog alike) was cooped up inside. Now that it's autumn, we're all able to spend more time outside.


This is especially wonderful for the girls, because we were starting to have a little too much energy. They're both 10 years old now, so they can't run all out like they used to. But they still love to track things and follow whatever they find through woods.


The fall colors make it even more wonderful to spend a morning out with the puppies. We didn't get here until the tail-end of autumn last year, so we never saw the property afire with yellows and reds like it is right now. I'm happy to walk just about anywhere if it's this pretty.


Bailey likes to use every single one of her senses when she's out for a walk. She can finally investigate all those sounds she hears from the house. Her nose leads her all over the place, smelling who-know-what and following it in and out of the trees. Her eyesight isn't the greatest, but she'll see something move and think it's absolutely necessary that we go check it out.


Even when it's time to head back to the house, they're still in the lead, getting in a few more sniffs and runs in before we're all done for the day. Fall is a great time to be a puppy!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Prayer Bench - By The Water

Danny moved the prayer bench he made me down to the pond.  It's in the most perfect spot, right in the middle of a grove of trees and right next to the water.

This is exactly what I wanted - a spot to sit and have undisturbed time with the Lord. I can't even hear the traffic from the road when I'm down here. The woods muffle all the noise and leave nothing but birds singing and leaves rustling in the breeze.
And this is what you can see from my very perfect bench spot. The leaves are just starting to change in bursts of fall colors, and you can see every one of them from here.

There is no better place to have quiet time with God than out here.

It has been the most wonderful gift my husband could have given me - a place to go and pray away from the hustle and bustle of the day. My heart is blessed that my husband loves me so much that he gave me a special place to be with the Lord.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fall Photography

It's fall in Iowa!

It's just beginning, but the colors are already starting to pop out on the trees. The girls and I went for a walk yesterday and enjoyed the first hints of real fall.

Fill your scrapbook pages and photo albums with some great autumn snapshots this year. Here are some seasonal ideas to get you started.

Outside:
* Piles of leaves
* A basket of fruits and vegetables
* A series as the colors in one area change
* The sunset
* Your front door
* Wildlife
* Initials carved in a tree
* Fall colors through the window

Inside:
* Things you're thankful for
* The table set for dinner
* Fall food and desserts
* Autumn crafts
* Home decor
* Crisp apples
* Favorite sweaters
* Curled up under a blanket
* Fall traditions

Monday, September 24, 2012

Wonders Among You

The Lord spoke in the first chapter of the book of Joshua, telling the new leader to have courage - the people would cross over the river and enter the Promised Land. They would receive the blessings of their inheritance and have rest.

Can you imagine what the night before they crossed over must have been like?

And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you. Joshua 3:5

They were to prepare and make themselves holy that night, preparing for the wonders that would come in the morning. Joshua knew the time of God's miracles was at hand, and he wanted the Israelites to have a right standing with the Lord before that moment.

Unlike Joshua, I have absolutely no idea what tomorrow holds. I have a to-do list and some fun plans, but there is no way I can know what the next hour holds, let alone the next day or week. That's why prayer and listening to the urging of the Holy Spirit are so vital in our daily lives. That's where God speaks to us, as He spoke to Joshua, giving us guidance, direction and encouragement for the day ahead.

With a clean heart, a fresh mind and a trusting spirit, we can face whatever comes today. The Lord has promised to do wonders among us today - are you ready for them?

Listen to His still, small voice and be prepared for wonders more wonderful than you could ever imagine.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cornbread-Crusted Chili

Now that the temperatures are falling and it's getting darker earlier each day, I'm in a chili kind of mood! We've had three different kinds in the past two weeks.

But this one was my absolute favorite. It's crusted with cornbread stuffing and set under the broiler for just the right amount of crunch. I'm sorry that you only get a partial picture of it, but this was all that was left after we both attacked it.

Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
1 15-oz can chili beans with gravy, slightly drained
1 16-oz jar salsa
1 cup frozen corn
1 package cornbread stuffing mix
6 Tbsp melted butter

1. Preheat broiler.

2. In a large boiler-proof skillet, preferably cast iron, brown the beef. Drain. Stir in the beans, salsa and corn. Heat through.

3. Melt the butter in a bowl, then add the stuffing mix. Sprinkle evenly over the beef mixture.

4. Broil 3-4 inches from the heat, about 2 minutes or until the top is browned.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Handmade Fall Card

The night times have been so cool this past week that it must be true - fall is in the air!

With the autumn season in mind, a beautiful card like is sure to brighten someone special's day.

If you don't have the words you want in letter stickers or in stamps, you can always make your own on the computer. It's very quick and simple - it only takes a couple of minutes and one piece of paper.

1. In your word processing program, type out the words you want. Format them in a fun and interesting way.

2. Print it out on a piece of white paper. Without cutting it, measure the phrase against your card and see if it lays out the way you'd like. If not, play with it a little on the computer and print it out again.

3. Choose the paper you'd like to print on - something that coordinates and looks better than plain white. Tape it at the very corners and tack it down on top of the words you printed on the white piece of paper.

4. Run the white paper, with the decorator paper taped to it, back through the printer. Print the document again, and this time it will print in the exact same spot but on the decorator paper this time.

This is the easiest way to center phrase the way you want, have it printed on smaller scraps of decorator paper and manipulate it to fit your card.

This card, plus many other cards and paper crafts, can be found in our etsy shop: www.stufffromtrees.etsy.com

Monday, September 10, 2012

Temptation to Conform

It seems harmless - a few girls sitting around talking at work. But soon the conversation turns to gossip. Do you join in, sit silently or walk away?

Someone starts a conversation about what they did over the weekend - things that aren't appropriate for a believer in Christ to do. Do you smile and nod or change the subject?

Everyone else is buying things, watching things, talking about things and sharing things that go against what you've believe. Do you buy, watch, talk about and share them too, or do you try to do what you know is right?

There is often a deep-seeded fear in the heart of a Christian. We're trying to balance our walk with God and our life in the world. This is a dangerous tight rope to walk when everyone around you is complaining, gossiping, watching television and using worldly language.

We're afraid that failing to compromise our standards means we'll fail to fit in. We'll be seen as nuts, religiously fanatical or, worse yet, unworthy. There are times that we're so desperate to be part of something that we'll change our ways, say things we know we shouldn't or shift our views just a little so we're not quite so different from everyone else.

What will other people think?

But compromising our standards isn't the issue - it's about trivializing God's standards. He is unchanging, uncompromising and unwavering. The world's perception of these traits is very different - He is inflexible, unaccepting and old-fashioned. What use is there for His views in our modern world - they just don't see His power and the change He has made in our lives.

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Psalm 121:1-3

Now think about those standards our Heavenly Father has lovingly wrapped around us:
* He wants us to be focused on Him, not the world.
* He wants us to walk on His path, not the trail the world has carved.
* He wants our thoughts to be pure and holy, not fleeting and perverted like the world.
* He wants our words to be kind and loving, not harsh like the world's.
* He wants us to reflect His purity, not the filth that the world has to offer.

What will conformity truly bring to our lives? What will we achieve by compromising our Christian standards and beliefs? Friendship for a moment? Fleeting praise from the world? A few minutes of closeness with people who have different priorities than ours?

Compromise is easy - standing firm is difficult.
Conformity is simple - having confidence is hard.
Going along with the world seems harmless in the moment, but what is the impact on eternity?

Whose devotion and love would you rather have - a few people here on this earth or the God Who made all earth and heaven? How can we compare the momentary devotion of a human being, which can change in a heartbeat, to the eternal, unending, unchanging love of God?

Doesn't that make conformity seem unnecessary?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Weekend of ... Nothing

If you could take one thing out of your weekend plans and not feel guilty about it, what would it be?

If you could say no to something and have some quiet time, what would it be?

If you could remove one activity from your to-do list that just drains you completely, what would it be?

If you could go back and change one plan you made for this weekend so you could relax a little more, what would it be?

Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. Psalm 25:5
Make this a weekend of nothing. Forget the guilt, the busyness, the draining and the hurry. God has blessed you with a single moment to live for Him - this one. Wait on Him to show you what needs to be accomplished and what doesn't.

I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I know the Lord holds tomorrow. Just for the moment, rest in Him. Everything else can wait.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Doubt and Pride

When I'm at work, I tend to think about things at home. Did that bill get paid? When can I find time to clean? Should I have done those few chores before I left this morning?

But when I'm at home, I tend to think about things at work. Will that source be available for an interview on Monday or should I have done it before I left? Did I make all the corrections in that story or did some slip through? Was my writing good enough this week to prevent anyone from being disappointed?

This cycle of thinking, worrying and doubting is a dangerous, ugly place to be. It's unproductive and spirals into nothingness - literally. It doesn't help you come up with new and wonderful ideas. It doesn't help you remember what needs to be done. And it definitely doesn't help you feel better about what you're actually accomplishing during the day.

God never intended for our brains to be whirling constantly. This is self inflicted and pointless for the task at hand. How can we give glory and honor and praise to the Lord when we can't even shut our minds off for a few minutes to focus on Him?

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

Anything beyond these two instructions is vanity, writes the author of Ecclesiastes. It's futile and destructive and prideful. So here's what all this thinking in circles comes down to:  

1. Worry leads to doubt, and doubt destroys whatever common sense you might have.

2. Self-doubt goes against God's view of you because He delights in you.

3. People-pleasing is a poor position. You can never accomplish it, no matter how hard you try.

4. It all comes down to pride, that nasty, icky word. Pride tells us we have to be better, stronger, faster, more efficient in all things. Scripture doesn't say that, God doesn't say that and we shouldn't be telling ourselves that.

But if we peel away all the extra stuff, all the thinking and worrying and being prideful, we actually end up with those two instructions flashing at us in neon.

Fear God and keep His commandments. If we're spending time in study, we'll understand His expectations and know what those commandments are. And if we're spending time in prayer, building a relationship with our Heavenly Father, we'll understand the healthy fear of reverence before an omnipotent God.

These two thoughts can fill our minds, driving away all the doubt and pride that clutter up our daily life.

What a peaceful place it is in the presence of God.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ice Cream Sundae Sauce

I will never, ever buy ice cream sauce ever again. Not because I've sworn off ice cream - perish the thought.

This recipe for quick-and-easy, do-it-yourself sundae sauce will knock your socks off. Just pick your favorites and enjoy!

1/4 cup of your favorite jelly or jam (we used strawberry)
1 cup chopped fruit (we used strawberries, kiwi and blueberries)
your favorite ice cream
4 fresh cookies for garnish
1/4 cup honey-roasted peanuts, optional

1. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the jelly in 20-second intervals, stirring in between, until liquid and warm. Stir in the fruit.

2. Serve over ice cream. garnish with cookies and nuts.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Shadow Box Picture Frame

Did you realize that in the 10 seconds it takes to remove the glass from a dollar-store picture frame, you can have an elegant shadow box?


Taking the glass out creates endless possibilities for what you can use for embellishments. I've been wanting to use these larger chipboard stickers for ages, but they are a little chunky for my scrapbook pages. They also don't lend themselves well to cardmaking because they're heavy and bulky in the envelope. So they've been sitting in a drawer, waiting patiently.


This shadow box was the perfect way to use some thicker embellishments and create a 3D look that you can't get from regular stickers. You can even branch out and use memorabilia like award ribbons, graduation tassels or tokens. Because the glass is gone, you don't have to worry about things getting squished or ripped being put into the frame.


The possibilities for this shadow box are endless. This about it: wedding displays, bridal and baby showers, graduation parties, birthdays, church and family events. Each one will only cost a couple of dollars, and you'll have a bunch of glass leftover ... for something. And you'll have a lovely display piece that you can keep for years to come.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Third Blogiversary to Me!

Three years ago this weekend I wrote my very first blog post. That seems about a lifetime ago, not just 36 months.

Here is a snippet of what I wrote:

"I am committed to the notion that Christian women can be whole, happy, content and busy, all at the same time. There are times when we all feel overwhelmed by the burdens of everyday life, but our circumstances should never steal away the joy of our walk with God. We can live a victorious Christian life no matter what comes our way.

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Psalm 51:12

Often the reason we feel weary and depressed is because we're not relying on the Lord to feed us daily with the joy and strength that come only from Him. My greatest joys in the day are when I'm in Bible study, when I'm journaling and when I'm on my knees in prayer. The closer we are to God, the more we will feel His comfort and power while we go about the routine of the day.

Today may be a tough day from the world's prospective, but in God's eyes it's just another opportunity to serve Him, to praise Him and to share His Gospel with someone. Everything else He blesses us with is just icing on the cake.

My intention for this site is to edify any Christian woman who comes to visit, giving her a place to go daily and be fed from God's Word. Along the way I will share with you some ways we can all live as a Victorious Christian Woman."

These words are just as true today as they were when I set out on this journey. I've learned a lot about myself, God's plan for me and the women around me, Scripture and the world outside my four walls.

And I'm excited to see what the Lord has planned for the next three years.

I pray you'll continue to join me for the trip.

Praise ye the Lord!