Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Weekend of Amazement

I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how He could love me, a sinner, condemned, unclean.

How marvelous! How wonderful! And my song shall ever be ... How marvelous! How wonderful! Is my Savior's love for me.

This is my favorite hymn in the history of hymns. I woke up singing it this morning, which means it will be with me all day. And I can't think of a better song to have running through my head.

And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day. Luke 5:26

I am absolutely amazed by the Lord, and I am even more amazed every time I look out the window. Just a few weeks ago, our property looked like this photo. There were vibrant colors everywhere, and it was truly a sight to behold. Now it's bare and covered with ice, but it's still an amazing, God-given blessing.

You don't have to live on a wildlife preserve to be amazed by the world around you. God is doing amazing things every moment of every day - we just have to open our eyes and look around.

Make this a weekend of amazement. Look for all those little bits of wonder that the Lord is placing in the world around us. They all add up to a truly amazing life. This weekend, let's take notice and thank Him for every one of them that we see.

Friday, November 29, 2013

BBQ Shrimp

Chances are, if your freezer is like ours, you have a bag of shrimp in there somewhere. This is a great recipe to use it up and try something completely different and completely delicious.

Ingredients:
1 bag of cooked shrimp (whichever size you choose)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 bunch green onion, chopped
2 oz dry white wine (can substitute apple juice or cider)
1 tsp chopped garlic
4 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp hot sauce
cayenne and paprika to taste
1 stick of butter

1. Thaw shrimp while preparing the rest of the meal.

2. Heat oil in a cast iron skillet. Add green onions and cook for one minute. Add wine and simmer until reduced by half.

3. Add garlic, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, cayenne and paprika. Heat through and reduce to low.

4. Add the butter in small chunks and melt. Stir to combine. Add shrimp and mix to coat. Heat through.

I served this on stir fry vegetables, which I heated while the shrimp was cooking. This would also be great on rice or noodles.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Action of Thanksgiving

There are around 100 verses of Scripture than use the words thanks or thanksgiving. At this time of year, each one has even more important meaning than ever.

If you read these verses through one at a time, you'll notice all of the words that are associated with thanks:

* Offer
* Sacrifice
* Publish
* Magnify
* Come
* Enter
* Sing

And over, and over, and over again ... Give.

Thanks is not a passive word. It isn't something that just happens. Thanks is something that has to be done - actively and on purpose. It is not natural for thanksgiving to just ooze out of us. It is actively given, offered and sung.

So while you celebrate Thanksgiving today, remember to give thanks. Not just at the meal, but all day. If you are alone or with friends and family, give thanks. When you are aware of one of the many blessings in your life, offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Make a conscious effort to magnify the Lord by giving thanks.

Actively praise the Lord for all His great and mighty works, today and every day!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Rustic twine flowers


Here's fun and easy project that you can use for many different crafts. These rustic twine flowers can be attached to cards and scrapbook pages or arranged on a table for a party.

  

Using a circle cutter, make a 3-inch diameter circle out of the corrugated cardboard. You'll also need eight toothpicks, twine and a yarn needle. 


Place the toothpicks into the circle equally spaced. You'll only use the actual holes in the cardboard at the top and bottom. All of the others will have to be pushed through, making their own holes.


Starting with the top toothpick, wrap the twine from left to right. Hold the twine in the center with your thumb. Then wrap it around the bottom toothpick and bring it back to the center, holding it with your thumb. Turn the circle so the next toothpick to the left is at the top and keep wrapping the top and bottom toothpicks.


This will create the first eight petals for your flower. Wrap each one a second time and you'll end up back where you started.


To make the center of the flower, you'll actually tie them all together. Now you're going to back stitch around the center. Cut a long length of the twine and put the needle on the end. Start stitching by going underneath the top two petals. Pull down and tight to the middle. 


Now you'll put your needle between the first and second petals and go underneath the second and third petals. Pull the twine tight to the middle. Continue all the way around the flower, stitching the next two petals together each time.


This is what it will look like when you've stitched the full circle. Pull out the toothpicks, releasing the flower from the loom. To tie it off, put your needle through the center of the flower and pull through to the back. Repeat a couple of times from between different petals. End up on the back and tie a small knot to finish.


Now you'll have a rustic, finished flower. You can use it for all sorts of crafting and decorating projects.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Layer of Ice

For the first time this season, the ponds froze over this weekend.

They are absolutely beautiful when they're like this - just a sheet of glass over them to sparkle in the sunshine.

In a few weeks, the ice will be so thick you could easily walk from one side to the other without that terrible cracking sound under your feet. But right now, even a leaf falling on it would probably break through that thin layer of ice.

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 2:12-13

Our hearts work just like that layer of ice on the pond. A few thoughtless words said by someone in haste forces us to put a thin layer of hardness over our heart. We think we're protecting ourselves, but we're actually doing more harm than good.

Missing a few days of Bible study will thicken that layer of cold ice, too. So will not helping someone in need because we're too busy. Or not forgiving, giving up your prayer life or even not doing good when the opportunity arises.

If you want to walk to the other side of the pond, a hard layer of ice is a very good thing. But if you want to walk from one end of your life to the other, you'll want a warm, soft, loving heart that will be the perfect vessel for the Lord's use.

So break through that layer on your heart today. Then keep a close watch around the edges so you can break through again if you see your heart beginning to harden.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Tortillas

Simple is the name of the game these days, and this slow cooker recipe is a great way to do just that. With about five minutes of prep, you can have an amazing meal by the time you get home in the evening.

Ingredients:
6 chicken breasts
1 can kernel corn, drained
2 cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 can black beans, drained
1 cup chicken broth
1 package taco seasoning
1 package small whole-wheat tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Spray inside of slow cooker with nonstick spray.

2. Place chicken breasts in a single layer on the bottom of the slow cooker.

3. Mix corn, tomatoes, beans, broth and seasoning together. Pour over chicken.

4. Cook on low 8-9 hours.

5. Using two forks, shred the chicken while still in the slow cooker. Mix the shredded chicken into the veggie mixture.

6. Using a slotted spoon to drain the juices, pile chicken mixture onto a tortilla. Top with shredded cheese.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Fall Leaves, Jesus Doesn't

Lots of things change during the fall season - the colors darken, temperatures get colder and the winds get more brisk. And most noticeably, the leaves change color and fall off. This is one of the

Once those leaves drop off, the trees are left bare. The leaves themselves shrivel, decay away and disappear. Those leaves will never come back, even though the tree will grow new ones in the spring.

Fall leaves - but Jesus doesn't. This is one of my favorite fall bulletin boards ever. Many, many things in life will change, from the leaves to the people we're around to the situations we're in. But one thing is forever constant - Jesus is in the midst.

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Hebrews 13:8

How much more simply could God's Word explain it? The Lord that we read about in the Bible is the same Lord that lives in us today. The same Jesus that healed the sick, gave sight to the blind and made the lame walk is the same Jesus Who leads, guides and directs us today. He has not changed one little bit. The same yesterday, today and forever.

As you go about your week, things will change. You, your family and the world around you will be different on Friday than you are today. Maybe that will be for the good and maybe it will be in ways we never imagined. But I pray that you will see the consistency in the Christ we serve. No matter what changes - and many things will this fall - Jesus doesn't.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Sketch

Layers are incredibly important in paper crafting, but so are color combinations. There are many different ways to combine colors and patterns, but it's not always easy to make it look like anything more than a jumbled mess.

In this sketch, you'll see the first way is to start with a solid base and then layer a coordinating pattern on top. There are lots of paper sets out there now, so you don't have to guess which will go together well.

Next is another solid color, alternating color and pattern. Varying textures helps, too, so tear or use edging scissors to do something interesting.

Another pattern comes next, and then an image and phrase. Placing this box in one corner will allow you to see the pattern in the background.

So here's the Praying For You card I made with this sketch. I adore the brown and green color combination, and the patterns just scream autumn.

The papers came from a pack, so they're already coordinated, which makes things much easier. The die cut even came with it, so little thinking is necessary - I like that very much.

The hand-stamped phrase and ink-distressed edges complete the card with a couple of special touches.

This card and many other paper and wood crafts can be found in our Etsy shop at www.stufffromtrees.etsy.com.

What colors and papers do you have in your collection that would work with this sketch?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Weekend of Time Alone

It's a dark, cloudy morning in southern Iowa today.

On one side of the house, I watched six enormous turkeys run for their lives across the driveway. I'm not exactly sure what they were running to or from, but apparently they were just panicked enough to head for the hills - literally.

On the other side of the house, though, it was an entirely different story. There was one lone turkey, taking his time and scratching for a little breakfast. He wandered around the small pond, and in a few minutes he ambled up into the trees.

Now, I don't know a whole lot about turkeys, but I see a lot more running around the crew on the driveway tan I do the one who was making a day it of it. It seems as though the scared, hurried mentality is more prevalent than the serenity.

Unfortunately, I am guilty of the same thing.

And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. Matthew 14:23

Jesus wasn't escaping from anything - He was headed for something. After a busy time in the multitudes, He was looking forward to time alone with His Father. He left for the mountain alone so that He could rest and rejuvenate, sure, but there was a need to be alone and pray. That's what would refresh Him more than anything else.

Make this a weekend of time alone. Carve out a few pieces of time that are specifically for you alone. Don't think about running away or escaping the world. This isn't about other people - it's about you and the Lord.

Find what you need in Him. That's what happens in your time alone.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Danger of Comparison

I walked into the gym Saturday morning and got ready to do my cardio for the weekend. At about 7:30 in the morning on a Saturday, there are very few people there. (I hope I didn't just give away a huge secret.) There were only two other people in the room, so I got down to work.

Combine fibromyalgia and asthma, and I don't go very quickly on a treadmill. It felt wonderful, though, to have as much time as I wanted to just walk, think and talk with the Lord. I also had time to just let my mind go numb and not think about anything for a while.

That's when I noticed the woman beside me. She was older than me and shorter than me - and she was going much, much faster than me. Suddenly, I started thinking that I could probably go a little faster, just so I wouldn't look like a tortoise next to her hare.

As my hand was reaching for the speed button, I realized what I was doing. I was comparing my own performance with someone I don't even know. I just knew she was doing something that I would love to be doing - if I wouldn't die for lack of oxygen, even with my inhaler nearby.

I have no idea how long it took for her to work up to her running pace. I don't know how hard she's worked or how many hours of puffing and panting she's put in to be able to make her body go faster than mine. The only thing I know is what I could see.

For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves, and comparing among themselves, are not wise. But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you. 2 Corinthians 10:13-14

Instead of looking at someone else's physical performance, my time would be better spent planning my own workout routine and diet. Instead of looking at another woman's spiritual maturity and wishing I was that close to God, I should be spending my time in Bible study and prayer. And instead of beating myself up for shortcomings and failures that no one else seems to be having, I can wake up tomorrow and know that God's mercies will be new and plentiful.

So I didn't change my treadmill speed. I continued on at my pace - the pace that keeps my asthma and my fibromyalgia at bay. And when I got done, I felt a strength and peace that I haven't felt in a while Those are the types of blessings that God gives us when we're focused on Him and not those around us.

We'll see if I can up my speed a notch or two next week.

We'll see.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Thank You To Our Veterans

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.

Ephesians 6:10-18

Veterans, thank you for your service to our country. It is because of your sacrifice that we still live in the greatest nation in the world.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday Sketch

I'm always looking for ways to use up my ever-growing supply of scrap paper. I think I have more scraps than I have full sheets of paper right now. That's a fun challenge, isn't it?

Here's a sketch that will help if you have a similar, overflowing paper problem. It's also easy to mass produce once you've made your initial measurements.

Choose a patterned piece for the top, overlapping box and you'll instantly have a themed card. The one I chose is for fall, but this layout would be perfect for a birthday or Christmas card, too.

Think about adding some embellishments as well - a wreath for Christmas, some layered flowers for spring or the baby's name for a baby shower card.
The possibilities here are endless. Mix and match your scrap paper and you'll have a variety of cards with different themes and lots of layers.

If this doesn't make you want to go dig through your paper, I don't know what will!

This card, along with many other paper crafts and wood gifts, is available at www.stufffromtrees.etsy.com. Comes see all the new items we've added this weekend.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Weekend of Saying Yes

Say yes and make that phone call.

Say yes and visit someone who needs you.

Say yes and get those chores done around the house.

Say yes and follow through on a promise.

Say yes and write that letter.

Say yes and lend a helping hand.

Say yes and make your walk match your talk.

Say yes and see how much of a blessing you can be ... and how many blessings you'll receive.

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. James 4:17

Make this a weekend of saying yes. When the opportunities to do good this weekend, say yes. When you are needed, say yes. When you might normally back out, say yes and follow through.

Who knows how God can use you when you make yourself available.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tie-On Gift Card

 It's so much fun to create something out-of-the-ordinary every now and then!

I get easily and quickly bored making the same kinds of cards over and over again, so I made something a little different this week.


This card can double as a card and a gift! There are lots of different single-serve tea and coffee packets out there now, and what better way to give one as a gift than to make it part of the card?


Two strategically placed holes and you're done! Keep them close enough together that they won't show on either side of the packet. And using a flat ribbon helps keep the ribbon from making the card too bulky.

I also made the holes one of the top layers of paper so they won't show through the back of the card. Sneaky, huh?

This card, along with many other Christian cards, gifts and wood projects can be found on our Etsy site, www.stufffromtrees.etsy.com. Stop in and visit!

Monday, November 4, 2013

What Are You Reading And Why?

I have many favorite Scriptures. I know what to read when I need some motivation - the Proverbs 31 Woman. I know what to read when I'm a little down - Psalm 5. I can read the story of the crucifixion whenever I start to forget what my Savior did for me. And I love reading Paul's epistles and how appropriate they are for me today.

You have your own favorite Scriptures, too, I'm sure. The ones you turn to when you're in a praising mood, places you go when you're in need, pages that are worn because you've turned there so many times before. There are verse you've cried over, sung joyful melodies to and longed to read again and again. They're your favorites for a reason.

In contrast, there are certain books of the Bible, regrettably, that I only read to get through them. I'll admit that I don't understand some of them and don't thoroughly enjoy them because of that. Instead of gleaning from them, I read the words and not the meaning.

So we fall into the habit of reading to hear what we want to hear instead of studying to learn what God has to say to us. It's easier to read through the 23rd Psalm again than it is to dig into the book of Deuteronomy. But what if the message the Lord has for me today isn't in the book of Psalms at all, but it's deeply buried in the Pentateuch? What am I missing out on if I'm only reading through the passages I like and not following the leading of the Holy Spirit?

How sad to think that I might miss out on the guidance I need for the day because I wouldn't study to hear the voice of God. It might be difficult for the moment, but imagine the blessings that can come when we step out of our Biblical comfort zone and listen for the still small voice of the Scripture.

What is your reading plan for today? For the week? For the month of November?

Why?

Is that where God is leading you to be?