Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Our Pathways Magazine Reveal

It's been months in the making - and it's finally here!

On Friday, the Ottumwa Courier's Pathways magazine was revealed. And I'm so excited! It's wonderful to have it in hand and not just talk about it.

Several months ago, I was asked to be the editor of our newspaper's new magazine. I could hire writers, choose the stories and get it all put together. I was thrilled and immediately accepted.

The subtitle of the magazine is winding through southeast Iowa. There are so many interesting people doing exciting things on those back roads and dirt trails around here, and this publication is the perfect way to uncover them. We've got more time, space and color to give detail and show parts of our community you might not normally see.

In this first edition, we've combined history, renovation, revitalization, summer fun and healthy eating all in one magazine. It's so much fun to see it progress from an idea in my head to stories on the computer screen to a finished product.

Plus there are three amazing writers who have agreed to be permanent fixtures on Pathways. I am blessed beyond measure to have people want to be a part of this process. It's so much fun, and I love that other authors are on board.

And truth be told, I've already planned out the August issue. I'm a planner, I tell you, and organizing something like this is a dream come true.

Grab one today and get ready for the next one in the fall. And please keep me in prayer as I try to share the stories of some amazing southeast Iowans.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Faithful Men - Happy Memorial Day!

We had amazing Memorial Day Sunday services this weekend. Personally, they were exactly what I needed to get recharged and ready for the week.

The highlight of the day was the men's quartet, who sang in the morning service. Pastor Mel Kendall, Pastor Craig Knupp, Danny and Tom Boos sang "Faithful Men," a song I had never heard but immediately fell in love with. It's all about following in the footsteps of those who have gone on before us - so appropriate for this weekend.

In the evening, we had a singspiration and testimony service, and it was a moving, powerful time of worship. All music and testimonies, everyone had an opportunity to contribute by requesting songs or sharing a story from their spiritual walk. Just amazing.

As we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country today, I pray you'll find peace and joy in the presence of the Lord and those you love.

Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday Sketch

If you're looking for a fun, versatile sketch for this week, this is the one.

Think about a pocket. Think about an envelope. Think about a napkin or the corner of a bed sheet. This card sketch could easily be any of those designs.

Choose a patterned paper for the background, then offset the corner of a solid color or slightly patterned paper across the top. You don't want two busy patterns together for this one because it just plain won't look right.

Then use the left side of the corner piece for a phrase and the right side for some embellishments - or vice versa. The fun part is that it's completely up to you how it's decorated.
For my card, I used a pretty pink and maroon flower-patterned paper as my background. Then I layered with with the rustic-looking coordinating maroon pattern on top. It was just the right color - not too dark to read the stamped phrase and not so light that the rhinestones wouldn't stand out.

So now ... think about the variations you could do. I've already found some pretty denim patterned paper to make a shirt pocket, and a paper that looks like lace could make a pretty table cloth or napkin.

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, May 24, 2014

A Weekend of Taking Off

It's almost time.

My favorite wren came back this spring to have her babies in the nest over our garage security light. I've been watching her little ones grow and lose their down, and in just the next couple of days they'll take off for the skies.

It's so exciting!

By the way, the little one on the right couldn't stay awake while I took his picture. I think I was keeping him from his nap.

So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. Acts 13:4

My baby birds have an instinct, and a pushy mama, that will get them out of the nest and into the sky.

You and I have a Holy Spirit living inside us that is ready to lead, guide and direct in our everyday lives. The difference is when you release yourself completely and obey unconditionally.

Make this a weekend of taking off. Listen to the Spirit and follow where He leads. God has some amazing plans for your weekend - prepare for the flight!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Softball season starts

After a rainy week last week, church league softball started for Calvary Baptist Church Thursday evening. This is my absolute favorite time of year, and I think Danny would tell you the same thing.

Sometimes it's hard for us to be there because of our work schedules, but it's worth the extra effort. It's a great time to socialize, and Danny's been working out as much as he can so the "day after the softball games" isn't quite so difficult. (But we do have a good supply of pain killers on hand.)

I don't play, but I love to cheer. The guys had two great games this week, winning them both handily, so there was a lot to cheer about.

We took first place last year in addition to the sportsmanship award, so it's already looking like a good year.

So now everyone has a week to recuperate and get ready for next Friday's games. They may need it.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Weekend of Trimmings

There are very few smells I love more than freshly cut grass. My allergies tend to disagree with me, but that doesn't make me enjoy it any less. There's nothing like throwing open the windows after Danny's mowed and breathing in that fresh smell.

What's leftover after the mowing is that long, shaggy grass that was clipped off. It quickly browns and dries while the new grass comes in bright and green.

It's fun to watch the birds fly off with bits of it for their nests, and the wind carries much of it away. What remains is gathered up, piled away or burned so it won't hamper the growth of the new grass.

As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. Psalm 193:15-16

Today is going to speed by, just like yesterday and the day before. Our time will end up as that cut grass, one way or another. Will your life be used by others, blown away or left to smother?

Make this a weekend of checking out your trimmings. God is constantly trimming us, pruning us and preparing us for the coming day. What's left over? How is the Lord planning and purposing to use you and your trimmings this weekend?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Altered Binder Clips

I was looking for a new project, something that would be totally different from what I've been working on lately. I can only do one thing for so long before I go completely insane and don't even want to go into my craft room. That's a terrible, horrible place to be.

That's when I found a package of binder clips at the dollar store. Then my imagination ran wild. There's so much you can do to decorate a simple binder clip. And when they come eight in a package for a dollar, they're well worth it!

To start, I marked off and cut down a piece of notebook paper for a template. Now I can use that rectangle of paper over and over again and not have to measure repeatedly. I'm very lazy that way.

Then I gathered up all those little, 3D, miscellaneous embellishments that have been taking up space in my storage shelves. If you've been crafting for any length of time, you know exactly what I mean - the rhinestones, stickers, letters and ribbons that you don't want to throw out, but they don't really match anything. This is the time to pull them out and use them up.

Start cutting up some of your great paper scraps and mix and match the embellishments. Tie them up with ribbon and they're all set!

And what can you do with these altered binder clips? How about holding recipes in the kitchen, photos on your desk at work or Scriptures as a table decoration at a church banquet? Give them as gifts along with a selection of photos and Bible verses. Or make some for a baby shower or birthday party with photos of the honoree.

Have fun choosing from all the possibilities!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sriracha Chicken Legs

I'm not a huge chicken fan. I'm also not a huge fan of spicy food. That being said, however, I could curl up and live on these drumsticks.

Danny loves sriracha, the hot sauce made from sun ripen chilies which are ground into a smooth paste along with garlic. He uses it on many, many things.

So he asked me to make something special using this great sauce. I was a little unsure about using it, though, because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to eat them because of the heat.

So here's my take on these amazing wings - the longer you marinate them, the hotter they will be. So if you want some kick without making your lips go numb, just marinate them for a shorter period of time. You can also use a little more honey to sweeten the sauce. Experiment a little and see what combination you like.

10-12 chicken legs
1/2 cup sriracha
1/4 cup worchestershire pub burger seasoning
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Place chicken legs in a large plastic bag. Add all other ingredients, then shake bag to cover completely. Refrigerate for an hour.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a glass baking dish with nonstick spray.

3. Pull legs from bag and place in single layer in baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

4. Serve with veggies and fruit.

Monday, May 12, 2014

For The Moment You're About To Complain...

...and we all have those moments. You know exactly what I mean: circumstances are against us, people are rude, if only we had (insert something bigger or better here). Perhaps things aren't going the way you planned or someone didn't follow through with something you think they should have. Maybe they didn't meet your expectations ... or maybe they did and you just don't see it that way.

We were at an event over the weekend that was a fancy affair. Two ladies were sitting at the ticket table and there weren't very many people there yet. So instead of engaging in conversation with the guests, they sat there and complained. And complained. And complained about how much they had to complain. I was grumpy myself just listening to them.

As soon as someone came over to their table, they immediately stopped their complaining, pasted a smile on their faces and spoke in sickeningly sweet voices. They took care of their visitors and then went right back to complaining. I'm not sure if they knew I could hear them, but it left a bitter taste in my ears (you know what I mean) having to listen to them. Being fake and petty only made it worse.

Complaining is easy. Fixing the situation is a challenge. That's why our flesh loves to just sit, stalled out where it is, and complain. God forbid we have to get up, talk to someone, be active in the situation, find our own way around or solve a problem on our own, right?

But as you can guess, that goes against the Scriptures.

But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. James 3:8-12

The same mouth we use to praise and glorify God, we can just as easily use to complain. We have had so many blessings heaped upon us by our Lord that we should never, ever have to complain about anything. But the Bible says here in James that we will and we do. It makes me very sad that the same heart that God has blessed with so much of Himself can still be bitter and full of complaining.

I pray that this week we will each determine in our hearts to put our complaints away. Scriptures say that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh. That means if we're complaining, we've got a heart problem. Those problems are easily fixable when we repent and turn them over to Lord.

After all, what do we really have to complain about? The best is yet to come!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sunday Sketch

When I actually drew this sketch, I had my doubts. In my head it makes sense, but on paper - it's a little different.

Start with two layers of solid colors, then choose a very special patterned paper. Pick one that has something special on the righthand side, a flourish of stars, a dramatic swirl or maybe a sweet picture.

On the left, you'll mat the perfect phrase or image on a coordinating card stock to give it some added dimension.

So on paper it may look like a challenge, but it's really very simple.
For my card, I started with two shades of purple card stock and rounded the corners of the top one. Then I chose a purple patterned paper that had butterflies flying up the righthand side. That's the only place they are, so the phrase isn't covering anything up.

On the left, I hand-stamped my phrase and matted it on a darker card stock. I don't always stamp on colored paper, but when I do, it's a very dramatic combination.

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, May 10, 2014

A Weekend of Release

Earlier this week, I had an appointment that I just knew was going to be a challenge. There would probably be a confrontation and maybe even hurt feelings.

Now, normally I would worry about a meeting like this. I would stew and think and plan and rehearse everything so that I could be prepared for any scenario. The planner in me can go a little overboard.

But I didn't.

Did you know that worry is a choice? You don't have to be scared and anxious and bent out of the frame over something that hasn't happened yet.

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:31-33

God has already gone on before - He knows what lies ahead because He has already arranged it for us. The test of our faith is to trust that it's been done perfectly. That means no need for worry.

Make this a weekend of release. Make the conscious decision to leave worry behind, let go and have faith in God's plan for your days. When I did just that, nothing that I imagined might happen happened. There was no confrontation, no words exchanged and no hurt feelings.

I firmly believe that's because I let go and let God handle it all.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

When Danny texts me at work to tell me he has a surprise for me, it makes my day. When it's his day off and he texts me at work to tell me he has a surprise for me, it's even better.

Last week, that surprise was an amazing banana bread adapted from his granddaddy's recipe. Those almost-dead bananas on the counter went to an incredibly good cause.

I'm blessed beyond measure.

This recipe makes enough for two full-sized loaves of bread.

1 cup shortening or 2 sticks of margarine
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten
6 over-ripe bananas
4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2. Mash up the butter with a spoon. Add the sugar, eggs and bananas, using a whisk to mix well.

3. Add dry ingredients and blend well.  Be careful not to over mix.

4. Bake in 2 well-greased and floured loaf pans for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

You can also substitute 1 cup of nuts if you'd rather not have chocolate.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Weekend of Taking Time

It's already Saturday. For that matter, it's already May! Apparently time flies when you're having fun.

They say that time goes faster as you age. I still feel young, but I would have to agree that the days are speeding past at an alarming rate.

... who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Esther 4:14

Make this a weekend of taking time. Take time to pray. Take time to reconnect. Take time to just sit and think. Take time to get out and about.

There are so many possibilities for this weekend. Take the time to make the most of it.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Choose Your Words Carefully

Unless you live in a remote corner of the jungle or stay in your bedroom 24/7, you have some kind of contact with people every day. It may just be a phone call, or it might be interacting with the public each day at your job. What it comes down to is this - you have to speak to them.

In this modern age of texting, email and social media, it is very easy for people to communicate. This is splendid if you're staying in touch with family, want to share an encouraging word or have news to pass along.

But more and more, people are using these types of communication to use language in very negative ways. Words have the power of life and death, the Scriptures say, and from the abundance of your heart come your words. This is becoming more clear every day as you go through your normal, everyday life.

This is scary when you receive an email from someone you've never even met who wants to critique your job. Or you work somewhere you have to answer the phone and talk to customers. Or you just happen to get the cranky clerk in the checkout line. Their words mean different things to you than they did when they were still in their heads.

Harmful, hurtful, discouraging words do nothing. They don't make the speaker feel better and they don't encourage change in the person they were directed to. Getting angry and using negative language doesn't make the other person want to do things better or more quickly or work harder to solve the problem. Instead, they cause hurt and frustration and a stumbling block.

I beg you today - please watch your language. And I'm not talking about swearing or using vile phrases. I'm referring to the tone, meaning and purpose of your words.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Ephesians 4:29

Edifying means lifting up, instructing and encouraging. Forget the negative, "I'll show her who's smarter, better, funnier, cooler, more interesting" language. This serves absolutely no purpose in the Kingdom of God. Nowhere in Scripture can I find verses where Jesus Christ tells us to put other people in their place, make fun of their mistakes or make snide comments. That's not His message.

Minister grace - I love that phrase. Everything that comes out of your mouth should minister grace.

She open her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. Proverbs 31:26

Choose your words carefully. Sometimes it's better to hold your tongue than be a stumbling block for someone else. Sometimes it's better to let it go instead of putting a spotlight on it. And it's always best to have an encouraging conversation, to lift them up when they've been knocked down, than to grind your heel in a little while they're on the ground.

Be mindful of your words today. They can destroy or they can build up. Be a builder.