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Showing posts from August, 2015

What She Might Be Going Through

She may be dressed very well, but inside she's battling with trusting God to handle her home and financial difficulties.

She may be outgoing and bubbly, but inside she is fighting fear and doubt.

She may be active in her church and community, but inside she's struggling to find God's purpose and plan for her life.

You can't look at another woman's outside appearance and know everything that's going on in her heart.

Many of our spiritual battles take place in our deep, quiet recesses. No one will see the battle and struggle going on when we're out of the public eye. Even our close friends may never know the prayers and the tears and the cries to God for grace and mercy.

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and glamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32

It's so easy to judge the cover of th…

Sunday Sketch

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There's nothing more fun than receiving a handmade card in the mail - unless it's a unique card that doesn't do exactly what you expect!

Today's sketch will have you thinking outside the proverbial box with a different fold and a special detail that you won't find on a store-bought card.

Make your card long horizontally with the fold on the short side on the left. This may be quite different than the way you're used to laying out cards.

Then layer your card like normal with a solid color and patterned paper for your background. Once you've got your paper in place, use a circle punch to take a half-circle out of the top layer ONLY on the right hand side. You want the back layer completely intact because you're going to add a special embellishment.

For my card, I folded it to measure 5.5x4.25 inches. Then I layered a pretty floral pattern on top of a marbled blue paper.

To make the notch, I used a 1-inch circle punch to take out that half circle. This go…

A Weekend Of Staying Little

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Size is a relative term. In order for something to be small, there must be something large next to it. And if something is called large, there must have been something small next to it.

Compared to the trees and the hill next to it, the deer is very small. We have to use binoculars or a zooming lens on the camera to see it in any detail. Otherwise we just have to recognize its shape to know that it's a deer.

Do you consider yourself large or small?

He must increase, but I must decrease. He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. John 3:30-31

John the Baptist knew who was large and who was small in his family. Already having a ministry himself, John knew in his heart that he was just the one preparing the way of the Lord. When his cousin Jesus came upon the scene, John was more than ready to step back and allow the spotlight to shine where it was meant to shine.

The deer doesn't…

Ranch Taco Slow Cooker Chicken

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Combine four ingredients in a slow cooker and leave it alone for the day.

Sounds like a recipe we could all use!

I love being able to use our slow cooker and take a few steps out of making our evening meal. We always buy frozen chicken when it's on sale, so this dinner is also incredibly affordable.

Ingredients:
1 2-1/2 pound bag frozen chicken
1 envelope dry Ranch dressing mix
1 envelope taco seasoning
2 cans chicken broth
taco or wrap fixings as desired

1. Thaw the chicken in the refrigerator overnight.

2. Place thawed chicken in slow cooker. Add both envelopes of mix and seasoning. Pour in chicken broth. Add enough water to cover chicken if necessary.

3. Turn slow cooker on high for 1 hour, then reduce to low for 6 hours. You can also turn on low for 8-9 hours if necessary.

4. When cooked through and tender, shred chicken and toss with 1/2 cup of the broth/seasoning mixture. Serve in tacos or on wraps with veggies, salsa and cheese.

Words For Wednesday

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Upcycled Tin Prayer Box

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The more we watch how we spend our money, the more opportunities we see to save, reuse and upcycle. So when something as simply (and as neat) as a tiny tin box is emptied, it's definitely an opportunity to get creative. They're perfect to give as a gift or keep for yourself as a reminder of your prayer requests.

In addition to your empty tin, you'll need two coordinating papers, embellishments and white card stock.

Trace the top and bottom of the tin with pencil onto the back of your decorator paper. Then cut just inside the line so it's slightly smaller than your box. Then distress the edges for a slightly worn look.

Embellish the top as you'd like. I used inked foam letters and tiny colored gems for the centers of the flowers.

To complete your prayer box, measure the inside of the box and cut the card stock slightly smaller so they will fit easily. Use a corner rounder punch on each one and embellish them with coordinating images, like my glittered butterflies a…

A Great State Fair

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 We finally had a weekend with no plans, so we had a special Date Day at the Iowa State Fair. It was the last Saturday of the fair, so it was pretty crowded, but we had such a good time together.

My favorite building on the entire fairgrounds is the baby building. They showcase all the animals that had babies while at the fair. These were the week-old piglets. Their coats were still all shiny and silky. (Their cuteness almost overcame the smell.)

Four cows had given birth, including this adorable little guy. He was only a few hours old, so he didn't care about us much, but his mama was sure keeping an eye on things.

Who says Iowans don't have a sense of humor? Get it - kid? There were two sets of triplet goats and a set of twins. The vet techs were holding up a couple of the calmer ones so we could pet them. Yes, I fell in love.

We also go through the show barns every year. You can see the biggest hog, the biggest bull and the best in every animal category. We always enjoy th…

What's In My Bible Bag

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I love to sit at the dining room table every morning and have my quiet time. I'm blessed beyond measure to have all the time I want for prayer and Bible study, and I've learned so much over the past few months.

On the flip side, I also hate clutter, so I decided to put all of my study tools in one bag. Now it can be moved from room to room and everything is tucked out of sight. It's also all in one place so I don't have to wander all over the house gathering up the things I need.

I also started setting everything out on the table the night before. It's the same mentality as putting your workout clothes on as soon as you get up in the morning - the less work and thinking you have to do, the more likely you are to do it.

My Bible goes with me from room to room as I write devotions, study passages and look up Scriptures. It's usually the last thing I put in at night and the first thing I pull out every morning. I started a new Bible in February, and it's been …

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Fudge

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Fudge is one of those delicacies that I never really attempted. You hear horror stories about failed attempts, so I just stayed clear of it and enjoyed other people's successful results.

Now, though, I think I could make fudge every day!

Especially when it's full of peanut butter and marshmallows. Oh. My. Goodness.

Make sure you have parchment paper and a candy thermometer before giving this recipe a try.

Ingredients:
2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup whole milk
2 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup peanuts

1. Line an 8x8 or 9x11 baking dish with parchment paper.

2. Combine sugar, corn syrup, salt and milk in a pan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Continue boiling until a candy thermometer reads 235 degrees (soft ball stage).

3. Remove pan from heat and stir in 1 cup of the marshmallows. Stir until they're all melted in.

4. Add in peanut butter and stir until smooth and creamy.

5. Fold in one more cup of marshmallows and the peanuts.

6. Pour mixt…

Words For Wednesday

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Upcycled Cappuccino Can Caddy

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As you can tell from the cans in this picture, I love cappuccino. It's my morning, quiet time drink while I'm doing my Bible study. You know, a little kick to start the day.

I felt bad about just recycling the cans or throwing them away, so I turned them into a neat caddy that can be updated and embellished for whatever occasion I'm using it for.
You can easily make one yourself with whatever sizes of cans you have empty.

To start, measure a piece of scrap wood and cut it to the length of three cans and just taller than the cans. Spray paint everything in the same color or coordinating colors.

Once they're dry, use hot glue to secure the cans to the wood. Let it dry completely.

I didn't like any of the white handles at the hardware store, so I found a black one that I liked and spray painted it to match. Then just attach the handle to the wood with the included screws. Danny drilled two holes for me to get them started.

Then you can tie them up with yarn, ribbon o…

The Blessings Of Someone Else's Salvation

Last night, I had the extreme honor of leading a friend's young daughter to the Lord. Still in elementary school, her eyes lit up as we walked the Romans Road. She tenderly asked the Lord to come into her heart and love her and save her. I've led adults to the Lord before, but there is something special about watching a child make that decision.

From that moment on, she spent the evening glowing. Everything about her spoke of joy and freedom. It was a beautiful thing to see. She told everyone she could that she'd gotten saved and that Jesus now lived in her heart.

It was incredibly contagious. People who had come back for the evening service tired and grumpy couldn't help but smile along with her. Those dreading the end of the weekend felt a little lighter as they watched her bounce and bubble over with her new-found relationship with the Lord.

And now today, I have a little of that glow as well. Seeing her excitement and enthusiasm helped me remember what's most i…

16 Things I've Learned From 22 Years With Fibromyalgia

For more than 20 years, I have had a daily relationship with the physical, mental and emotional difficulties of fibromyalgia. The crazy disease that doesn't fit into anyone's categories of health problems touches every aspect of your life, but it doesn't have to take over.

These are just a few of the things I've learned from living with chronic pain. It's not an exhaustive list, but it covers many of the things that are important to my well-being.

1. Chronic pain is not a curse or a punishment. Even Paul had a thorn in the flesh, but he left it in God's hands. So should you.

2. What you eat, whether you're having a good day or a bad day, will affect you. So eat as well as you can as much of the time as you can.

3. It's OK to say no. People who love you will understand, and people who don't love you will get over it.

4. Instead of overdoing it when you do feel good, work at a normal pace for as long as you can.

5. Understand that it's OK to take …

Chalkboard Clothespin Price Tags

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 It's only five and a half weeks until Walk On Art Street. The time is absolutely flying by, and I'm trying to work on a few last-minute items before we start putting our layout together.

This week I finished up our price tags. I made several out of tree slices last week, and these are just as cute. Clothespins, some card board and chalkboard paint is all I needed.

I cut a piece of card board just larger than the clothespin.

Then made enough for all my clothespins.
I sprayed card stock with four coats of chalkboard paint and let it dry overnight.

Once they were completely dry, I attached them to the clothespins with hot glue. Now they're all ready to go! We can clip them to the baskets, to the shelves and even in the branches of the tree we use to display ornaments.

Words For Wednesday

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Blackberry Cheesecake Brownies

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The last of the blackberry bushes on the property are giving up their final berries, so I'm down to my last recipe.

It's a good thing it's my favorite!

With a box of brownie mix, a tub of cheesecake filling and some fresh blackberries, you can be in sweet-lover's heaven in less than an hour.

You can also make this with brownies and cheesecake from scratch if you're so inclined.

Ingredients:
1 box brownie mix, 9x13 family size
eggs and oil as brownie mix package requires
1 tub prepared cheesecake filling
1 1/2 cups blackberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray.

2. Mix brownie batter according to box directions. Spoon into baking dish and bake as directed on box.

3. While the brownies are baking, combine the berries, sugar and water in a saucepan over medium high heat. Stir frequently and use a spoon to help break down the berries into a puree. This make take at least 10 minutes. (I like a little…

The Learning Never Ends

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Children all across the country are feeling the same twinge in their hearts: school is about to begin.

I always loved school, so the first day back always meant new school supplies, clothes and lunchbox. I never had the dread that some did, watching their summer fade into the background.

Instead, I felt the curiosity of what I might learn next.

Now, in our grown-up years, the learning should never end.

Take fast hold of instruction.

Proverbs 4:13 describes clinging to God's instruction, staying firmly fixed, attached, holding on forever. Dates and places and numbers and formulas will come and go through our memories, but the words of God's instruction book for us shouldn't. He begs us to take fast hold, be so firmly attached to His word that nothing could tear it out of our hands.

Let her not go.

For any reason. Under any circumstances. If you were drowning in the ocean and someone threw you a life preserver, you wouldn't let that thing go until you were safely on shore…

Sunday Sketch

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Pull out your prettiest patterned papers - you'll need several of them for this sketch!

With four panels of patterned paper layered on this card, you can coordinate and mat to your heart's content.

Start with a nice, quiet pattern for your background, then two slightly busier ones for the middle panels and finally a great top layer in your card's theme.

There's a space for a small sentiment, as well as three embellishments on the righthand side.
For my card, I started with a solid colored card stock and matted my polka dotted pattern on top.

Then I cut two pieces of the same paper for the middle panels and matted them on a darker card stock.

On top, I chose my favorite of the patterns and matted it on the same color as the background mat.

The phrase is hand-stamped and matted on the same card stock as the middle panels.

Three purple gems complete the package.

This card, along with many other paper crafts and wood gifts, are available in our Etsy shop. Come visit today …

A Weekend Of Fearlessness

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When you see the storm clouds rolling in, do you immediately turn on the weather report, barricade the windows and head for the basement?

Or do you head to the porch where you can watch the clouds move through the sky?

The fearful heart tries desperately to protect itself. The fearless heart, the one that trusts in God above all else, goes where it can see His mighty works more clearly.

And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.
And his disciples came to him, and awake him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.
And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. Matthew 8:24-26

The disciples were so frightened by the noise and waves around them that they completely forgot Who was in the ship with them. Instead of relying on their Lord to keep them safe no matter what the circumstances, they gave in to fear.

Make this a we…

Rooted And Built Up

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I've been transplanting some plants lately. They've been placed in new pots, bigger pots, so they can grow up big and strong.

Without room for the roots to dig down deep in the soil and have room to spread, the tops will never grow in. They'll look exactly like they do now, and then they'll wilt and fall off.

Just like we will without being firmly grounded in Jesus Christ.

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7

Paul knew exactly what the church at Colosse needed. He wasn't there with them in person, but he knew their hearts and knew how they would grow and flourish as believers.

They had to get rooted so they could be built up.

It doesn't matter what happens on top if there's nothing going on below. A weak root system will kill a plant quickly, as there's nothing to hold it in place or fe…

Chalkboard Tree Slices For Price Tags

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I took a break this week from making items to sell at September's Walk On Art Street and worked on a project I've been looking forward to for ages. Danny cut some tree cookies for me so I could turn them into adorable price tags for the art show.

They turned out exactly how I pictured them in my head - which is a rare and beautiful thing! (That they turned out, not that my head is rare and beautiful.)

I started by spraying them twice with a clear coat of sealant. This makes sure that the chalkboard paint won't seep into the wood and make it difficult to write on.

Then I sprayed my chalkboard paint onto a paper plate and used a sponge brush to paint just on the inside of the bark. If I had sprayed it straight onto the cookie, it would have gotten all over the bark, which I didn't want.

And yes, I could have used chalkboard paint from a can, but the spray was what I had on hand. I didn't want to go out and buy something new just to save one step.

And now they're …

Words For Wednesday

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Cool Ranch Doritos Chicken Salad

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I'm always looking for something new to do with chicken.

I'm also always looking for something new to do with salads.

Combine the two and you've got a new family favorite - Cool Ranch Doritos Chicken Salad.

Ingredients:
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup buttermilk (a small container)
8 oz Cool Ranch Doritos (half a normal-sized bag)
1/3 cup flour
1 package dry ranch dressing mix

1. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and place in large zip-top bag. Add buttermilk and let marinate overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray.

3. In a large bowl, crush the chips until almost a powder. Add flour and dry ranch dressing mix.

4. Drop the chicken by handfuls into the dry mix and turn to coat. Spread out on sprayed baking sheet.

5. Bake at 400 degrees for 16-18 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

For my salad, I used romaine lettuce, mozzarella cheese, tricolor tortilla strips and dried cra…

Is That Your 'No Trespassing' Sign?

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At the very front of our property is a trail that winds around to an old deer blind. Almost immediately after we moved in, we noticed tire tracks around this trail as though it was being used regularly. This was really an issue for me because I didn't like the thought of someone I didn't know being on the property. And I never would have known they were there because you can't see that trail from the house.

So Danny put in some posts to keep vehicles from going back there. We also let it grow up so you can't even see the trail itself any more.

But most prominently, there is a bright yellow sign. It catches the eye immediately and lets everyone know that they need our permission to be on the property. This not only protects us from unsavory characters on our land, but it also protects us from having someone get injured while on our property without our knowledge. It's safety as much as knowing who's around.

Christian women should protect their hearts in exactly …

Sunday Sketch

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This sketch is a great way to use up some of your scraps and embellishments. You know the ones - we all have a pile and drawer full of bits and pieces that are leftover some some wonderful project. Pull them out and get started on using them up.

The three panels run down the vertical card from top to bottom. Choose three different patterns or make them all the same for two completely different looks.

The embellishments need to be small to fit into the empty spaces on the card, so choose carefully. Coordinate their colors and shapes to match the patterned panels.
For my card, I chose a fall theme because we released our new fall line yesterday. The background is matted twice - two solid colors and one pattern, all in-distressed.

The three panels are also matted and ink-distressed, each from the same paper, just different parts.

The embellishments are three flea buttons that I have had for the better part of a decade. I tied knots of twine through them to give them a little more dimens…

A Weekend Of Anticipation

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This is the look of a dog who's waiting for something.

Someone, actually. This is what Molly does every time Danny goes outside. Without her. By himself. To do anything.

She puts huge nose prints on the window and whines like a puppy. She watches his every move and shakes with anticipation when she sees him coming back to the house.

Then she lavishes him with attention and love and kisses. And that's a lot for a 160-pound Great Dane.

Do you wait for the Lord like this or do you wait like you're in the doctor's office waiting room?

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Romans 8:24-25

Make this a weekend of anticipation. Wait on the Lord like it's Christmas morning - with all of the excitement and joy and hope you have inside you. He is planning something amazing for your day today, and all you have to do is wait on Him to b…