Monday, August 26, 2013

A Tree Planted

Even though we haven't had very much rain this summer, our ponds are still high and absolutely gorgeous. Everything is green and lush, and if you put on a little bug spray, you can spend hours down by the water.

It reminds me of that beautiful verse from Psalms:

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

We are so blessed beyond measure to have a God Who loves us enough to prosper us. I'm not just getting by - I'm spilling over with an abundance of blessings! That green tree there in the picture - that's me!

But if you turn around from that exact same spot, you'll see this tree. It's just a little set back from the water, but it is completely dead. It's one of our projects to get this tree down before the beavers do.

The tree was attacked by a disease and it couldn't fight it. Now it's just dead and decaying, falling apart from the top down. It's sad to see when there are so many green, healthy trees right around it.

That can happen to us, too, if we let it. We can be close enough to the water to reach out and touch it, but we allow the diseases of the world to eat away at us until we can't survive. Then we wither up and die like the tree did.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather be the tree planted by the rivers of water, bringing forth an abundance of fruit and enjoying the prosperity of the Lord. That's the life we were given to rejoice in.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Day at the Fair

I can't believe the week AFTER the state fair is already over. It seems like we were just there, and now it's been seven whole days, and I'm just now sitting down to look at our pictures. That must mean I'm way too busy.


We had a fantastic time at the fair this year. It was the first year Danny had been, and it was the first time we'd been able to spend an entire day - just the two of us - all day with no interruptions. We had been planning this for months, and it was an amazingly wonderful, special time together.

There are so many wonderful parts of the Iowa State Fair. I can't begin to cover them all or show you all the pictures, but I'll give you some of our favorite highlights. 

The chainsaw woodcarvers were amazing. We weren't able to catch one of the shows, but they had several works-in-progress and many finished pieces on display. They were all auctioned off on the last day.


The first building we went into was the agriculture building, and there were so many families there, especially those with little children. All of the baby farm animals were on display - and they were adorable! The baby ducks had apparently been busy already that morning because they were quite tuckered out. They couldn't even stay awake to have their pictures taken!


One of my favorite parts of the day took place at the other end of this building. We were drawn to the pen with the rest of the crowd because the fair vet was helping a cow deliver her baby! We got to watch and applaud as this little boy was brought into the world. (Yes, I cried. I'm a crier.)


They were still doing animal judging that day, so we got to see the competitors in horse, goat, sheep, cow and chicken contests. The prep areas are all open, so you can walk right through, talk to the owners and scratch a few sweet noses.


We even got to see the largest ram and the largest hog. There are some amazing animals in our state, and this enormous sheep is just one example.


But all Iowans know that the fair wouldn't be the fair without the food! We had a light breakfast so we could start tasting our way through row after row of goodies. These were the fajita pitas in steak and in chicken. They were phenomenal!


And the best things at the fair come on a stick! This is the fried brownie - I honestly have no words to tell you how good this was. Danny had the fried Milky Way bar, and it was also all sorts of wonderful.

We're excited to see how they'll top all of this next year. And what they'll try to put on a stick!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Remaking the Slow-Cooker Chicken Recipe

I found an amazing recipe online this week, and I was so excited to try it. I'm always looking for great slow-cooker recipes that I can have ready at the end of a long day or when we get back from church. This one looked perfect.

Then I read the reviews. It received just about the lowest ratings possible, and one reviewer even asked if they could use negative numbers.

The main problem was that the sauce as too runny and it didn't stick to the meat. The small pieces were overcooked, even when put on low and for a shorter period of time.

I was so disappointed, and I told Danny that I would just try something different. He asked to see the recipe, so I gladly handed it over.

After about 30 seconds, he looked up and said it was doable - the ratios were just wrong. Too much liquid and tiny pieces of chicken made for a terrible combination. All I had to do, he explained, was change it up a little and it would be perfect.

Here is that altered recipe.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 pounds chicken breasts, cut in 1 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Combine all ingredients in crock pot and stir to combine.

Cook on low 8-9 hours.

Serve over rice or stir-fry veggies.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Back to School Time

Can you feel the excitement in the air? School starts next week, and the countdown has begun to get ready to go back to class.


We're celebrating in our Etsy shop, too. We've added several back-to-school cards full of great Scripture, reminding your student to follow the Lord's guidance and trust in Him.


There are some great notebooks and other gifts, including this one with all its bright colors and school designs. Can't you just picture a child going back to class with this on their desk?


To see all the great school-themed cards and paper crafts in the shop, visit stufffromtrees.etsy.com.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Standing Out In The Crowd

As far as the eye can see, there's just green. There are different shades of green, different shapes of green, but still green. The green all runs together everywhere you look.

And then, all of a sudden, there is a splash of yellow. This bright, shining flower is like a beacon, drawing your eye to it because it's so very different from everything else around it.

This is what we're called to be in the world - every day, every week, every situation we find ourselves in. We're do be like this vibrant flower, standing out from the rest.

Everything in the world around us is that green color - but we don't have to be. We're different, special, called out by God to serve His purpose. We can't do that if we're blending in with our surroundings.

For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 1 Corinthians 1:21.

The things of the world and the things of God don't mix. Fleshly wisdom is going to be in conflict with God's wisdom. That's why someone firmly rooted in Him will shine like a single yellow flower against a sea of green grass.

If we're living a life focused on the Lord, we're going to stand out. We're going to shine a little brighter and be a little different.

Don't be a sea of green today. Shine like the flower God created you to be.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Weekend of Unrushed Time

If I'm too busy to stop and talk to the post office worker when I mail my packages, then I'm too busy.

If I'm more concerned with getting the work done instead of doing it well, then I'm too busy.

If I find it hard to breathe at the end of the day because I've rushed through it, then I'm too busy.

I'm not finding time for the people and things that I love, then I'm way too busy.

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. James 4:14

Make this a weekend of unrushed time. Just because we've got things on the schedule doesn't mean we have to hurry and get them all in. We can find peace and calm in the midst of the busy - and the time we need to recharge and recuperate.

Being too busy gets us nowhere.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Walking the Property

 The girls and I spent some time Saturday afternoon walking the property. Well, I walked the property - they ran, trotted, sniffed and explored the property. There's a difference.


This is the face of a happy dog, knowing she's about to get taken off the leash. 


We still have to practice our manners, so Bailey has to sit very still and wait to be released. The older she gets, the better this works.


In the space of time it took to click a second picture, this is how far she had run. And she always goes to the same place - the far corner of the big pond. I think it's because that's where the beavers live. 


Sadie and I followed behind her and took in the sights. Sometimes I take for granted how beautiful our property is, so then I thank God several times over.


It was warm that day, but it was absolutely beautiful in and amongst the trees. You can't see the girls because they're already so far down the path. They'll come back every few minutes to check on me and make fun of me for not keeping up.


Kitty came with us, too, but he really just wanted to talk. He likes to hear the sound of his own meow, so he'd walk a ways, cry, sniff something, cry, chase the girls, cry, curl up and look handsome, cry. Do you see the pattern?


Just over this tree line is the highway, which is the edge of our property. The girls know that when we get back here, it's time to go home. I was ready to walk a little more and check out the berry bushes on the ridge, but Bailey ran ahead and waited at the front door to go in. Apparently that's my clue.

Monday, August 5, 2013

How Big Is This ... Really?

I saw an amazing poster recently. It had a giant ruler down one side, and down the other side it said:

On a scale of one to God, how big is this problem?

I stopped in my tracks.

It's so easy for me to get wrapped up in the circumstances of the day. It's simple to go along with the crowd, grumble, groan and complain about how difficult things are.

But to my God, it's a tiny thing.

The money may end before the month does, but my God is bigger than finances.
People may be angry, hurtful or hateful toward me, but my God is bigger than everyone else.
Today may be filled with changes, obstacles or death, but my God is bigger than one moment in one day.
It may seem like a mountain is standing in my way, but my God is bigger than a silly old mountain.

And He's the only One able to move that mountain.

I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings. Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God? Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people. Psalm 77:11-14

Maybe by remembering the great and wonderful things God has already done in our lives, the problem before us won't look so huge. He has already allowed us to overcome so many obstacles in our walk with Him, and those memories should cloud out all the others.

Whatever you're facing today has not come as a surprise to God. He has allowed it to come through His filtering hands, and He will provide the strength, courage and stamina to make it through.

One a scale of one to God, how big is this ... really?
My God is bigger than this, too!