Friday, February 28, 2014

Where Is Your Focus?

On the days when I'm so busy I can hardly breathe, the very last thing I want to do is hunt all over the house for a pencil.

Yes, it's the home of a writer and I couldn't find a pencil anywhere!

I found a couple of pens, but they were both out of ink. The first pencil I found wouldn't even write for need of a pencil sharpener. I was 0-for-3.

So in my frustration I dug around in a box that I thought had a pencil sharpener and came across this funny shaped pencil. I might as well have been slapped upside the head. It's in the shape of eye glasses and says "Turn you eyes upon Jesus."

In the midst of my busyness and rush, I realized that my head has been in the wrong place. I've been so focused on getting things done that I've taken my eyes off Jesus. That's why I'm so frazzled and crazed. My eyes are in the wrong place and on the wrong people.

Our God is not the author of confusion - that's a Biblical truth. So when you feel like the proverbial chicken without a head, that's the time to do an eye exam and see what you're actually focused on.

Sometimes it's a simple thing that brings your focus back where it belongs. I pray it stays there - on Jesus Christ.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pineapple Angel Food Cake

When there's a recipe all over the Internet, you just have to try it.

But this isn't actually a recipe. It's two ingredients combined and baked.

You take a box of angel food cake mix and add a can of crushed pineapple. Stir it up and bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Follow the baking directions on the box to be more specific on time.

The result is the sweetest, moistest, most lovely cake I've eaten in a very long time. It's almost like eating candy in a cake, and that's dangerous. Add these two ingredients to your shopping list immediately and try this out.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Special Restaurant Guide

 For Valentine's Day this year, I didn't want to get Danny "stuff." I'm sick of "stuff." We have too much "stuff." Don't you love the word "stuff?" It's a great Bible word.

Instead, I gave him something we can experience throughout the year. I put together an Ottumwa restaurant guide - it has individual pages with about 25 of places we can go eat and enjoy the evening together.

Some of them are favorite restaurants, places we love to go and mean a lot to us. Others are places we keep talking about but never go visit. Now there's no excuse. Better yet, there's no asking "So where do you want to go?" I don't know. Where do you want to go?" "I don't know ..."

To put it together, I cut an 8 1/2x11 piece of paper in four. My cover is just a quarter of an inc bigger on each side, just enough to overlap the edges and hide them.

Then I punched holes through the whole stack and tied it up with a pretty ribbon.

Inside, each page has the name of a restaurant, the address and a big box to check off and write the date we went to that place.

Now we're excited to go out to eat and try some new flavors in our community.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Desire Accomplished

 I've been glued to the NFL scouting combine this weekend. It may sound silly, but I'm fascinated by the skills these young men have, the college football players who are looking to start a professional sports career in the NFL.

Before you get worried that this will be a boring football analysis - it's not. But while watching the combine Sunday afternoon, I saw a tattoo on one young man's arm. All it said was Proverbs 13:19, with no words. Whenever I see someone with a Scriptural tattoo, I immediately look it up to see what was so important that they inked it on themselves.

The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil. Proverbs 13:19

I've read this chapter of Proverbs dozens of times (Read the corresponding Proverb for whatever day of the month it is.) and I honestly don't remember ever reading this verse. I absolutely adore it.

When you break down the first half, I understand why an athlete would choose this as a life verse.

1. The desire is for what God wants. It's not about my goals or my expectations. It's all about focusing on God's plan for my life. (My day, my week, my year.)

2. The accomplishment is supplied by God. I'm not going to achieve anything in this world under my own power. Success and accomplishments come directly from the Lord for His glory and His honor.

3. The sweetness is God's true sweetness. Sin may give pleasures for a season, but the sweetness of the Lord is all the milk and honey you can stand, overflowing into your cup. It satiates, fills and satisfies like nothing else can because it's perfect and created just for you.

4. The soul is blessed, not the flesh. This the difference between the eternal and the temporal. There's nothing better than laying up treasures in Heaven, knowing that everything you do on earth will be waiting for you down the road. That outweighs a little happiness or pleasure here.

The opposite of this beautiful picture is the second half of the verse. How sad that there are people "happy" in their sin. This seems so mediocre and so lazy. They see getting right with the Lord as "abomination" when that's exactly how God sees their sin.

This verse has special meaning for me now. I'm not an athlete, but I love the thought of God blessing me with the desires of my heart when I'm living for Him. How sweet that is to my soul!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Sketch

I've been having so much fun with this sketch this week.

This sketch is a great way to play with your embellishments and some of those great fibers I know you have tucked away. I could probably make this card a hundred times and it would never look the same way twice.

Yes, that speaks to my craft supply hoarding tendencies. Please don't judge me.

Before attaching the top layer of background paper, adhere the ends of the fiber to the back. This will hide the ends quickly and easily without a whole lot of bulk.

Then the phrase, image or embellishment can be matted in the bottom corner to offset the embellishment on the fiber.

For this example, I used some great coordinating paper and a coordinating button. The fiber has some sparkle in it, so it really stands out from the darker paper behind it.

A small, simple phrase in the bottom corner balances everything out perfectly.

So start using your imagination - play with paper combinations, different buttons or images on the string, another image instead of a phrase in the corner. I love all the choices this sketch has in it.

This card, along with many other cards and gifts, can be found in our Etsy shop. Come visit us at www.stufffromtrees.etsy.com.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Weekend of Overflowing

This picture is a bit deceiving. It looks like there is still some ice in the middle of the pond but the edges are melting. Actually, this is what happens when we have torrential rain after weeks of freezing cold. The water pools on top of the ice and eventually pours out over the banks of the pond.

I wish you could hear the creek rushing on the other side of this levee. We're warming up a little bit here in southern Iowa, just enough to start melting and make the water gush through the creeks and rivers in dramatic fashion.

Is that how your heart feels today?

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Psalm 23:5

Make this a weekend of overflowing. I don't know about you, but God has blessed me so exceeding abundantly above all I could ask or think. I am absolutely overflowing with all the greatness of the Lord, and I'm excited to share that excess of goodness with everyone around me.

How about you? You've been blessed the same way - are you sharing that abundance with others?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Weekend of Bundling Up

It was 5 degrees when we got up this morning.  And, of course, the girls needed to go outside. Apparently they can only hold it for 12 hours at time. Hmppph.

So I put on six layers of clothes and we braved the cold. Thankfully there wasn't a lot of wind, but the cold still permeated to my very core.

That's the way I've felt lately, just being out in the world. There are many, many things that I can't control - someone's language, their attitude, their beliefs, their hate, anger and depression - and those things weigh on me and try to bring me down with it. This affect on the center of our being then changes how we perceive the world, interact with other people and relate to the Lord.

Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:6-10

Make this a weekend of bundling up spiritually. Sure, we can put on more layers of clothes to keep warm in the depths of winter, but what are we doing to bundle up against the cold of the world around us? Use the next two days to fortify your heart, your soul and your mind with the Word of God and the truth He gives to prepare yourself for going back out there.

The cold may get in sometimes, but how we warm back up makes all the difference.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

My Pallet Wood Sign

I have been wanting to make one of these pallet signs for ages! I finally got a couple of pallets from my newspaper office and made it happen.


I wanted a really great Scripture for it since we decided to put it in our bedroom, and Danny suggested I start looking  in 1 Corinthians 13. From there, it was easy to choose this verse.


 Danny deconstructed the pallets for me and removed all the nails. To keep it rustic looking, I only lightly sanded the side I would be painting on.


I found an adorable stencil set that just fit inside the width of the pallet board. Then I did a little practicing to find out what I could do and what looked the best. The A is just in pencil.


For the B, I outlined the stencil with a Sharpie marker.


I wood burned the C.


Then I started playing around with paint to see what colors would show up the best and which outline would give me the look I wanted. The D is just painted through the stencil with no outline.


I outlined the E in pencil and painted it, but it was very difficult to stay within the lines.


For the F, I outlined it in Sharpie marker and painted. This was the easiest one for me to both draw and paint.


I woodburned the G and then painted, which was really nice, but more rustic than the "rustic" I was looking for. I'm definitely going to do this for another project.


When I was done, Danny cut them down the rest of the way and screwed on two small pallet boards on the back. Next time, I want to try doing this part by myself, too.


Then he added two eyelet screws and wire from a picture hanging kit. We had to find something strong enough to hold up that much wood.


I'm so happy with the way this sign turned out. It's amazing to wake up to in the morning - what better way to start the day?

Monday, February 3, 2014

TGIM!

Thank God it's Monday!

Does that seem a little weird? Usually we look forward to the end of the week, not the beginning of the week. We spend an awful lot of time each trying to get through the five-day work week in an effort to get some time off over the weekend.

But what if we rejoiced in today? Thank God it's Monday! Here's a wonderful, brand-new day at the beginning of a brand-new week. We can start afresh and make today the best day of the week - not just the first in a string of "getting through" days.

And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you. 1 Thessalonians 4:11

Paul instructed the church at Thessalonica to cultivate a calm, quiet spirit and to focus on their own work. Nothing distracts us and shakes us up more than looking around to see what everyone else is doing. We are called to do certain work (at home and on any outside job we have), and this Scripture reminds us to be diligent in that work. This means having a great attitude along with that calm spirit from the beginning of the week to the end.

And how do we do that? By staying in God's Word each day and following through on the instructions He gives us.When our eyes are on the Lord, we have peace of mind and a calm heart. Only then can we have a victorious week, not just an ordinary week.

Thank God it's Monday!


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sunday Sketch

This is a fun sketch with lots of possibilities.

You can use as many layers as you'd like and combine card stocks and patterns. This layout just begs for some amazing contrasts because you're not using that many papers.

You're also lining up three large focal points in a column on one side of the card. This, plus a great verse offset on the other side, make this a very dramatic piece.

I left the inside blank, but feel free to pick a great verse or phrase for the inside, too. You can always start a verse on the phrase block outside and finish it on a matted piece of card stock inside.

The plain, though bold, colors in my card are a great contrast to the pink flowers on a white background. Some decorative scissors make the pink card stock mat make it stand out and set off the flowers on top.

A great vellum phrase makes this card easy to coordinate. You can also stamp something onto coordinating card stock for effortless matching.

This card, along with many other paper crafts and wood gifts, can be found in our Etsy shop. Come visit us at www.stufffromtrees.etsy.com.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Weekend of Reflection

This week has been very long, very busy and very stressful. But it's also been a great week filled with God's blessings in abundance. It's interesting how those two go hand in hand.

Here are just a few of the things that I've learned over the past few days:

* Choose compassion and compromise over division and destruction.

* Your reactions and responses truly do affect everyone around you.

* Multitasking when you're already busy makes things exponentially worse.

* Be a calming presence for others, the way concerned and caring people are to you.

* God's Word at the end of the day is the only way to cleanse your brain and your soul after so many hours in the world.

* Relaxation isn't lazy - it's necessary rejuvenation.

I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high. Psalm 7:17

Make this a weekend of reflection. Look back on the things you've learned this week and thank the Lord for all He's done. Whether it's been a tough one or a great one, He's been beside you every step of the way. Spend the next two days praising Him for that.