Monday, August 31, 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 the book without ever opening it. We're well acquainted with our own struggles, but we rarely think about others going through similar trials and tests. It's easier to keep our eyes turned inward than lift them up to see what others are doing.

Looking at a woman who carries herself well, is dressed nicely and seems to enjoy fellowship in God's house, we would assume she's victorious in every part of her life. She sure looks like she's got it all together and is walking closely with the Lord.

But do we stop to ask her how she's doing - really?

Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

God's Word calls us to support one another in His love, to carry the load of someone else's burden when it's to heavy for them to handle alone. Even if there's nothing we can physically do to help, we can always be a listening ear, a should to cry on and a prayer warrior in difficult times.

We're intimately aware of the needs in our own life. Let's spend this week getting out of our own heads and getting into the lives of those who desperately need us.

Find out what she's going through and pray her through it instead of assuming everything's just fine.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Sketch

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 goes through the card stock and decorator paper of the front half of the card only.

Because you need the back part of the card intact to add the flower and metal brad like I did. When folded up, you'll see them as part of the front design, but you'll still see them when you open the card.

I finished the card by adding tiny gems as the centers of the flowers and the matted Bible verse.

For more great ideas, come visit out Etsy shop. You'll find many different paper crafts and wood gifts, with a huge selection to choose from.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Weekend Of Staying Little

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 ask to be made bigger so we can see it better across the pond.

John didn't ask to be made bigger so his ministry would rival Jesus'.

Make this a weekend of staying little. Once we take ourselves out of the equation, Jesus Christ can shine more brightly in us and through us. Imagine the changes that would take place in us and around us if we were more concerned about the things of Christ than our selfish desires.

So, are you large or small?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ranch Taco Slow Cooker Chicken

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.

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.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Upcycled Tin Prayer Box

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 and flowers.

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Great State Fair

 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 the largest horses, each with their own personality. You can always find one that just wants love. Maybe we need to get a very large horse to match our very large dog...

There are always plenty of great contests and exhibitions to see, too. This year we saw the weight-lifting competition and the wood carver. I think both events gave Danny some motivation and inspiration.

And, of course, there's the food. We had turkey burgers, Cajun chicken on a stick, turkey tender sandwiches, handmade fries and fresh-squeezed lemonade. I had planned on having the apple pie on a stick, but once we finished off this maple bacon funnel cake, that wasn't happening.

It's only 351 days until the next fair!

Friday, August 21, 2015

What's In My Bible Bag

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 such a blessing. It seems as though there are new Scriptures to find every morning - ones that weren't in the other one! There's something about clean pages and lots of space to make notes that give you new perspective on God's Word.

Inside my Bible bag are two notebooks - one for my daily Bible study notes and one for a master list. I'm currently studying through Matthew Henry's commentary on the book of Matthew, so those notes are in the smaller notebook.

The bigger notebook has an important note or two from all of my daily reading. I have three daily devotionals I'm reading through right now, and I make a note for each one. Then, at the end of the day, I can read back through those notes and refresh my memory about what I read.

This week I'm studying in the devotional from Faithbox (If you haven't heard about them, check it out!), quotes from Abraham Lincoln and the book Having a Mary Heart In a Martha World. They're all fascinating and uplifting, so they're a great way to start the day.

I use several different colors of pens to write out my notes so I can clearly see each thought. Those pens, along with highlighters and pencils, are kept in my Stone&Cloth bag. It was in this month's Faithbox, and I absolutely adore it.

I also have my prayer journal handy, which holds all my permanent prayer requests (friends, family and the church family) and updated prayer lists from the church.

Then there's my iPad and a cup of cappuccino. One is for the commentaries and one for my sanity and clarity of thought. You figure out which one's which!

This is what works for me - what works for you?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Fudge

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.

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 mixture into prepared baking dish. Spread it out smooth, then press the remaining 1/2 cup of marshmallows into the top.

7. Refrigerate for at least an hour, pressing the marshmallows into the top every few minutes to make sure they're stuck in place.

This fudge needs to stay refrigerated, so store it there in an air-tight container. If it lasts that long.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Upcycled Cappuccino Can Caddy

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 or any other coordinating embellishments. I chose a neutral color so I can change everything out as needed. I'm thinking about adding chalkboard tags to the top half of each can for labels. The possibilities are endless!

Monday, August 17, 2015

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 important. Some of the weight of the week has fallen off, and I looked forward to my quiet time to start the day.

But as time passes, the newness of that joy tends to wear off and we become complacent in our Christianity. We get stuck in a rut and things don't seem as new and sparkling as they did those first days after we got saved.

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Psalm 51:12

It's not my salvation - it's God's. It's a precious gift that He gave through His Son, and it instills the most perfect joy in our hearts. Instead of diminishing as days pass, the time we spend with the Lord should increase that joy exponentially. Imagine having even more joy in your heart today than you did on the day of your salvation!

I hope that today you'll pray as David did, that God will restore unto you the joy of His salvation. What a wonderful day it could be if we were all overflowing with joy like my young friend is!

Friday, August 14, 2015

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 breaks. Pushing through will often make you feel worse than if you'd taken a quick nap or read a chapter of a book.

6. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was your life. You don't have to be perfect at everything today. This is especially true when fibromyalgia makes you feel like you have no control over anything.

7. It's OK to ask for help. It's not giving up and it's not being a baby. It's giving someone else an opportunity to be a blessing when you truly need it.

8. The hardest, most painful moments are best spent with the Lord. The times I can't even get out of my chair are the days I choose to spend in prayer and Bible study. When there's nothing I can do to stop the pain, I can still feed my soul.

9. Exercise is important, even when you hurt. Gentle stretching and a little light yoga can make all the different in your body.

10. Make sure your to-do list is God's to-do list. When I'm planning my week, I have myself running non-stop, and I'll probably pay for it later. But by listening to what God's plan is for my day, I'm sure to have just enough time to do everything He wants me to accomplish.

11. You don't have to give an excuse every time you don't feel well. If you can't do something, you can't do it.

12. When you don't look sick, there will always be people who question you. When they ask why you can't do something, if there's really something wrong with you or what's wrong with you this time, just be honest, polite and firm.

13. Don't cut yourself off from the world. It's easy to hide yourself away when you don't feel well, but that means you see the same four walls all day. Go see something different, even briefly, and interact with other people.

14. Be open-minded about new doctors, medications or ideas. When you're in a rut of thinking "this works for me and that doesn't," you might miss out on something wonderful that gives you some relief.

15. Other people want to help, they may just not know how. If someone asks if there's anything they can do, don't brush them off. Even if it's just asking them to pray with you, there's always something they can do for and with you.

16. Be honest about how you feel. We're taught to be strong and independent, but there's a point where that's just fake. If you hurt, say so. If you're having a good day, say that.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Chalkboard Clothespin Price Tags

 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.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Blackberry Cheesecake Brownies

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.

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 of the seeds left in my blackberries, but you may not. Cook for longer if you want them all gone.)

4. Once the puree is smooth, strain the juice using a fine-mesh kitchen strainer. Squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can. Leave it to cool to room temperature.

5. Once the brownies are completely cool, spread the cheesecake filling on top.

6. Drizzle the puree over the cheesecake and swirl with a knife.

7. Cut and devour!

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Learning Never Ends

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. Maybe not even then. God's inspired words here paint that same picture - hang on to that wisdom with every last ounce of strength you have. It is the life preserver of your soul.

Keep her.

Don't give it way. Don't trade it in. Don't sell it for any price. Keep it, love it, learn it and tuck it away in the depth of your heart. There is too much in life that is temporary, but God's Word will last for all eternity. Keep it, protect it and let it grow in your heart and mind. The Lord will use it as He sees fit every day for the rest of your days.

For she is thy life.

Many of the lessons we learn in school will remembered just long enough to take the final test. God's instruction is the very essence of our faith in Him, and learning about His Son's sacrifice on the cross is what gives us eternal life. Without instruction we are nothing, but with it He shares everything He wants us to know. About Him, about Jesus Christ, about the Holy Spirit, about our relationship with Him and those around us. That is what life is all about.

Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life. Proverbs 4:13

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sunday Sketch

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 for more great ideas and a gift or two.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A Weekend Of Fearlessness

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 weekend of fearlessness. The Jesus Christ who was in the boat that day is the same today in your own life. Take a deep breath, step out the door and face the storm knowing that the Lord is faithful in all His promises.

And enjoy the beautiful view while you're there.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Rooted And Built Up

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 feed it. There have to be solid roots.

And you can't build up until the roots grow down. Rooted. Grounded. Solid in Christ.

We heard the truth - that's why we accepted the gift of salvation. That's the baby roots. The little roots that just barely reach down into the soil. From there, they grow deep in doctrine, grounded in Scripture and established by the way the Lord moves in our lives.

The more closely we walk with Him, the deeper our roots grow. Day after day. Year after year.

Paul knew the church knew the truth. They knew how to live for Christ. Now they were being reminded to walk like they knew. This walk was their manner of living. He was simply telling them to let the truth take control of the entire life.

Let those roots dig down deeper and deeper.

When the roots are grounded and solid, spreading out far and wide and deep, then the top of the plant can grow. It can be built up, bearing much fruit in the world.

You can't be built up until the roots grow down.

Nothing will happen on top of the soil if there's nothing happening beneath.

Like so many other parts of life, getting your heart rooted in Christ is a decision. An every-day decision. A moment-by-moment decision sometimes.

You choose to walk. You choose to walk with Christ. You choose to continue on when everything around you says to give it up.

And then you say thank you.

And the words will never be enough.

When you're rooted and built up in Christ, the thanksgiving inside you overflows. It's abundant in you because of all He has done.

You abound in gratitude as you grow in grace.

Keep walking.
Keep digging down deep.
Keep building on up.
And keep thanking the Lord every chance you have.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Chalkboard Tree Slices For Price Tags

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 perfect! I'll have them laying and propped up around my displays to let people know the prices of different items. I will be doing the same thing with some scrap wood for larger signs.

Too much fun!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Cool Ranch Doritos Chicken Salad

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.

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 cranberries.

You can also make them as chicken tenders, and change the cooking time to 20-24 minutes.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Is That Your 'No Trespassing' Sign?

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 the same way. If it was possible, we should have a large, yellow sign on our hearts that says "No trespassing! No one allowed here without permission!"

What generally happens is we let a little of the world into our hearts when we watch television. We let a little in when we read ungodly books and magazines. We let a little in when we're looking at ungodly sites on the Internet. And we let a little in when we interact with unbelievers in the course of our day.

By placing a No Trespassing sign on our hearts, we are reminded that nothing comes in that we don't allow. We actively and consciously choose what to watch, read and hear every day.

And it's not only a reminder to us, it's a warning to those around us who would love to see our hearts and minds polluted with the garbage of the world. They might think twice if they knew we were standing guard at the path's entrance.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

Scripture says that if we don't keep our hearts diligently - purposefully and continually - that we'll end up contaminated and discouraged. By putting out our No Trespassing sign, we're more aware of what gets all the way to our heart. God has given us a great responsibility, the keeping of His vessel, and we must restrict all that comes in.

Trespassers of the heart are everywhere, but God's wisdom and discernment help us cut off the path, put up a wall and post clearly that no one is allowed in without permission. If we follow through, we will able to present the Lord with issues of life that were lived just for Him, giving Him all the glory and honor for the condition of our hearts.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sunday Sketch

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 dimension.

This card, along with many other paper crafts and wood gifts, is available in our Etsy shop. Come visit today for more great layouts and a gift idea or two.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Weekend Of Anticipation

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 bless you.

So stand at the window of your heart, press your nose against the glass and be ready to give God your attention and love while you're in His presence.

He's waiting for you, too.