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Showing posts from January, 2013

Learning the Heart and Eyes of God

Do you remember that Scripture from Monday?

And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them: and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a-whoring. Numbers 15:39

If we rely on our own heart and our own eyes, we will always be deceived.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9

Following our own heart and eyes is like choosing a burnt, rotten cookie when there's a pan of fresh, gooey ones right next to it. Why settle when you can have the real and true?

So how do you find out what God's will really is? It's right there in His Word just waiting for us to find it. It can be daunting to face the entire Bible, but there are some very special tools we can use to get at the center of God's heart for us.

* Chain reference: When you find a verse that speaks to your heart, follow the chain reference i…

A Cozy Desk Space

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Whether you have an office at work, a cubicle or just a computer desk at home, it gets cluttered. This is my desk at work. If I don't have it neat and tidy every day, I literally go insane. My productivity crashes and I'm lost in a sea of paper. Yes, that's a newspaper joke.

A newspaper office is not generally known for its tidiness. If I was to turn in any direction, you would see my point. However, I absolutely cannot live like that.

If tidiness on your own desk matters, keep reading. If you already have a clean desk, keep reading just do see what I do. If your desk is messy and you don't care ... please keep reading. Maybe you'll get inspired.

Instead of having stacking shelves on my desk, I have one magazine file. In it are my current interview notes, projects that are coming up and a week's worth of back issues of the paper. I also put the day's dummy sheets in there at the end of each day. (No, I didn't call anyone a dummy. It just means the diag…

Seeking God Through the Scriptures

Think back to before you got saved - you did your own thing, came up with your own ideas and followed you own set of rules. We all did. And where did it get you? Absolutely nowhere.

Then we accepted Christ and we suddenly had a different perspective - God's perspective. We are now able to look in His Word for answers, go to Him in prayer and ask for guidance in the smallest moments of our lives.

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a-whoring: That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God. I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of…

A Weekend of Letting Go

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This is the tree that Barn Kitty was stuck in. You can see that she wasn't very far off the ground, but she was truly frightened.

For a tiny kitty, it must have seemed like she was on top of a mountain. She just cried and looked at me like I had taken my time getting there. In truth, I had just heard her when I took the girls out for their morning stroll.

As she cried, she moved around a little, as if she was contemplating climbing down, but there was nothing for her to cling to. So she changed her mind over and over again. If she would have just dropped, I would have caught her with both hands and she would have been fine.

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.  Psalm 139:7-10

No matter when we go or …

Heart Attitude

There was a family sitting a little ways away from me in the doctor's waiting room yesterday. We had never met before, but I could immediately tell their heart attitude.

I would never presume to tell if someone is saved or not - that's between them and God. But there are some pretty clear ways to tell what's moving - or not moving - in someone's heart.

Someone in the doctor's office had made a mistake and the family was going to have to wait an extra hour before they could be seen. I don't know details and didn't want to know details.

But that family sure was willing to share them.

They weren't speaking to anyone outside of their little circle, but everyone in the room - possibly the entire floor - could hear them quite clearly. They spoke with anger toward the staff. They used words of discouragement to describe the day. They had resentment toward the entire situation because it wasn't going the way they had planned.

Without regard for the other pe…

Apple Nachos

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Are you ready for an amazingly wonderful treat?

This was our breakfast one morning this week.  They're called apple nachos - think of them like thin chips covered in ooey-gooey deliciousness.

This really isn't a recipe. It's the story of how I made ours, and then you can decide how you want to make your own.

My ingredients for two plates:
1 honey crisp apple
peanut butter
caramel syrup
shaved coconut
walnuts
mini chocolate chips

So here goes - I used the  mandolin to make super-thin apple slices. Use a knife if you have to, but this is much easier. (I say that because Danny did it. Hmmm...)

You're going to serve these immediately, so don't worry about lemon juice or keeping the slices from browning.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter in a bowl. Heat it just until it's runny and then stir it really well. Drizzle it over the apples. It's looking yummy already.

But wait! There's more!

Now drizzle the caramel syrup and add the other toppings. Se…

Live Peaceably

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Romans 12:18

Who? Me?

Yes. You.

That's not very practical, is it?

Of course it is.

But you don't know the people I deal with.

Does that matter?

Have you met my family? Who could keep peace in that crowd?

Not keep the peace. Be the peace.

Surely you don't mean my husband. He's the only one I can be myself around.

"Live peaceably" doesn't have exceptions.

But the people I work with aren't easy to get along with.

Don't just get along. Get things right.

What if they don't care or don't want to hear it?

"If it be possible" - that means try.

Sometimes it's too hard to live peaceably.

God says it's possible.

But I wouldn't know where to begin.

God gives you the tools.

This seems too hard.

God said it might take all that is in you.

What if I can't do it? What will God say then?

He didn't say you could. But He can do it through you.

All men? Everybody?

Everyb…

Five Hobbies In One Day

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I was blessed beyond measure on Saturday. I was able to spend the entire day enjoying my favorite hobbies. Normally I'm lucky to do a little of one for a little while. This weekend I was able to take on five!
I spent the entire morning in my craft room! It's one of my favorite places to be - doing paper crafting and getting some things ready to put in our Etsy shop. Check it out this week - it will make you feel like Spring has sprung!

And the Danny and I had date night. It was the most wonderful evening, and it began with sushi. I adore sushi more than any other food on this planet. It was the first time in more than a year that I'd had any, and I was happy to drive to Fairfield to get it. 

Next was a trip around the corner for coffee and sweets - two more hobbies that I love. And I was perfectly alright with someone else making them for the evening. It's a treat to be treated.

Then I relearned how much I love live concerts. We went to the Sondheim Center for the D…

A Weekend of Glare

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For about an hour every afternoon, the sun reflects off the pond and causes a terrible glare in the kitchen. You can't look directly at the floor or the sliding door because it's so bright. You even have to squint as you walk through.

The other issue is that the glare hits the counter top and shows every single crumb and smudge you've made. It's like its own little spotlight, highlighting everything you didn't get cleaned up.

I guess this is the perfect time to clean because I can see all the little messes I didn't even know were there.

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 1 John 1:5-7

Make this a weekend of looking through th…

Communication 101

Take 30 seconds to think about all the people you communicate with in just one day.

- Your husband
- Your family
- Co-workers
- Clients
- Strangers at the grocery store, doctor's office or coffee shop
- On the phone
- Through email
- Facebook

The number adds up so quickly, and then you realize that you spend most of your day communicating in some way or another.

But how well are you doing? We may not think about how the message we're trying to send is being received. Or if it's being received the way we intended.

Just a couple of nights ago, Danny and I had a complete miscommunication situation. He knew what he meant and I knew what I meant. However, for several reasons, the two didn't mesh. It wasn't a serious problem, but it could have been. That's why communication is so critically important.

* Be Pacific ... I Mean Specific
When I assign stories at the newspaper, I explain exactly when they're due. I give a specific deadline for one reason - because if …

Walking On Thick Ice

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It's winter in Iowa. Can you tell? The snow is almost all gone now, but it's still amazingly cold. The ice is still on the pond, so that's a pretty good indication of how cold it is.

I had never been out on the pond when it was frozen before, so I sent Danny and Bailey out first. I figured if it would hold the two of them, it would hold me. Sadie has absolutely no interest in this activity, so she stayed on the bank.

I never would have guessed that there would be so much to look at. The air bubbles were frozen in the ice. The cracks through the middle looked more like jet trails than broken, jagged lines. 

Just imagine those fish in there hibernating. Or maybe they're only half asleep and making fun of us as we walk across the ice. "Silly humans."

These are my lovely snow boots, and they are perfect for walking on the thick ice. Winter in the Midwest is good in small doses, and ice walking is one of my favorite parts.

A Friendship Care Package

I'm putting together a special care package. There's a friend that I have been remiss in staying in contact with, and I'm pretty sure she thinks I've fallen off the face of the earth. That's unacceptable, I'm thinking.

So I've been working on a collection of things that will catch her up on what's been happening around here. When they're done, they'll all be tucked in an envelope and SWAK!

So far I've got:

* A handmade card in which I beg forgiveness for being a lazy friend.
* A long, typed letter that chronicles what's happened in my life since we last talked. Did I mention that it's a long letter? It's long.
* A recent picture of Danny and me.
* A bookmark I made with a favorite Bible verse.
* A handmade magnet that she can put in a special place.
* A Scripture study book that I think she'll love.
* All of my business cards, just so she'll always be able to get in touch with me.

Lord willing, it will be on its way the f…

A Weekend of Fighting Back

Think about the soldier, poised on the battlefield. His uniform is worn from wear and his weapon is a little dull from use. As he stands, waiting, he looks up and sees the enemy before him. He looks around and realizes that he is, in fact, completely surrounded.

If this was you and your situation, what would you do? Fall to your knees in surrender? Try to fight your way out? Call out for help?

Right now I feel just like that soldier, weary from the battle but ready to continue the fight. But it's difficult when the enemy surrounds you and you stand alone.

But Scripture tells us that this isn't our fight. Sure, we're the ones wearing the whole armor of God  that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. We're poised on the battlefield, ready to take on whatever comes our way.

That's when the still small voice reminds us of our position in this chain of command.

Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salva…

An Example of Love

Danny and I actually went out to eat together before church last night. This is a miracle for several reasons, including our conflicting schedules, his on-call status and the need to be frugal with our finances.

But there we were, and I loved every minute of it. We even used the few minutes we had to stand in line waiting for our food to hold hands and talk. That's my favorite part of any day.

A woman stepped up to us while she was waiting and said, "Don't ever stop doing this. I buried my husband last February after 48 years of marriage. Don't ever stop doing what you're doing."

Danny told me later that he had been on that funeral service and remembered her. I was absolutely without words. Something that I had been in desperate need of - time alone with my husband - she would never have again this side of Heaven.

I was heart-broken for her, thinking about nearly five decades of loving, caring, living and working together with the same person. That just made…

What's In Your Closet?

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Organization is a huge building block that I'm working on right now. And I'm doing it one closet at a time.
Every week, I get to write an article for the paper's real estate page. I tour a local home that's up for sale and write about all of its wonderful features. I adore this because I get to see the insides of houses I pass by every day.
It may be a little telling, but I love to peek into the closets of some of the fancier homes I tour. And would you believe - they all look the same? We all have stuff to hide away out of sight, and everyone has closets where we tuck it all away.

I won't deny that I'm ashamed of this picture. When we moved over a year ago, this closet received all the "stuff" that I knew should be in the entryway. However, you can tell it wasn't done in a very gentle, loving, organized manner.
Do you have any closets that look like this?

This is my favorite part of the closet-cleaning-out process. This is the stage that comes …

Yet Not I, But Christ

We get too stuck on ourselves. Who am I? What is my purpose? Am I doing everything I'm supposed to be? How can I be more ... better ... all ... and so on.

Did you realize that Scripture tells us exactly who we are - and it has absolutely nothing to do with us?

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Once you're saved, it's not your life anymore. You're not the one shining through everything you do - it's Christ. You are not your own - you're His.

If you take yourself out of the equation of life, all of the focus goes to Jesus. We waste a lot of time looking at ourselves through our own eyes. That's pretty pointless.

Instead, let's look at what God's Word says about how Christ lives through us. Have your Bible handy and get ready to do some study.

I can do all things - thro…

A Year of Building

One of my favorite books of the Bible (yes, there are many favorites in my life) is the story of Nehemiah. I am fascinated by his desire to leave his life as the king's cupbearer and go rebuild the city of Jerusalem.

This building process was not an easy one. There was much physical labor to do, putting the wall back up around the city. But there was also mental and spiritual labor, resisting the harassment by the local enemies that would see their work halted.

Doesn't this sound like your own life? I know in my own daily walk with the Lord, I want to build. I want to grow in knowledge of the Scripture, lift up everyone I come into contact with, build my home and strengthen my spiritual life in so many ways.

But building is a daunting task. Think about those people staring at the city and thinking about the work involved in rebuilding. The only way they were able to attempt the task was to concentrate on their own portion of the wall.

Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with…

A Weekend of Exploring

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This is the perfect time of year for some exploring. We put the girls on leashes this morning and headed off into the woods. I think we all needed it.

We found snow and ice and animal tracks in all shapes and sizes. We even went down a path I'd never been on, and I found a whole new part of the property that is absolutely gorgeous. All because we went exploring.

Make this a weekend of exploring - snow boots are optional.

Maybe you want to explore some Scripture.
Or explore the depths of a relationship.
Or explore the library.
Or explore some Biblical commentaries.
Or explore a long-forgotten corner of the house.
Or explore some time of relaxation.
Or explore a hobby you haven't had time for lately.

Just go exploring this weekend and see what you'll discover.

Turning Your Mind Off

Sometimes I just can't turn my mind off.

Please tell me you have days like that, too. I'd hate to be alone in this one.

And I can't blame it on the devil or anyone else this time. My thoughts are my own, and I'm the one in control of them.

So why do they get so out of control sometimes?

An otherwise peaceful day is cluttered with the busyness of thoughts. Maybe they're not even bad - they're just there. Constantly. Reminding you of things. Trying to keep a mental list. Or rehashing old stuff. Or preparing for something that hasn't even happened yet.

Or maybe they are discouraging thoughts, thoughts that you really don't want to entertain but they arrive anyway. Then you make the mistake of rolling them around in your mind a little - and a little more - and soon you're not just listening, you're worrying.

Thoughts don't seem like such a terrible thing, but they can be if they're not dealt with properly. And that means shutting your mind o…