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Words For Wednesday

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Just A Few Things God Can And Cannot Do

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What God Cannot Do:
1. God cannot lie.
2. God cannot change.
3. God cannot recall our sins after we've asked for forgiveness.
4. God cannot be the author of confusion.
5. God cannot leave us or forsake us.
6. God cannot go back on His promises.
7. God cannot revoke His gifts.
8. God cannot be pleased without faith.
9. God cannot be defeated.
10. God cannot be too big for our problems.
11. God cannot be too little for our problems.
12. God cannot prefer one person over another.
13. God cannot break His covenant.
14. God cannot revoke His calling.
15. God cannot be unjust.
16. God cannot do anything contrary to the Scriptures.
17. God cannot bless a lie.
18. God cannot love sin.
19. God cannot give anything to a double-minded man.
20. God cannot be forced into an impossible situation.
21. God cannot ignore the praises of His people.
22. God cannot be our problem.
23. God cannot be overcome by the world.
24. God cannot be late.
25. God cannot be neutral.
26. God cannot be weak.
27. God cannot bless doubt.
28.Go…

Cheeseburger Pizza

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It's always fun to challenge yourself in the kitchen, and pulling a refrigerator raid can jumpstart your creativity.

In an effort to use up the food we have in the house without having to go to the grocery store this week, I put together my version of a local pizza restaurant's cheeseburger pizza. Every ingredient was already in our freezer or pantry, and it took only a few minutes to put together.

What's in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer?

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 pizza crust (I used a pre-made crust)
1 can pizza sauce
1 bag Italian mix shredded cheese
1/2 cup bread and butter pickles, diced

1. Preheat oven according to crust directions. Mine was 450 degrees.

2. Brown ground beef in a skillet.

3. While meat is browning, place crust on baking stone and brush with olive oil. Spread a thin layer of sauce over the crust, then sprinkle with half the bag of cheese.

3. Drain the browned meat and stir in the remaining pasta sauce. Pour mixture onto crust.

4.…

What's Living Inside?

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As crazy as this may sound, our trees are full of holes. In the yard between our house and the barn garage, there are half a dozen trees with massive holes in their trunks. Every now and then it's fun to see what's inside them.

It's not difficult to imagine fuzzy neighbors curled up inside, getting out of the weather.

Some are full of leaves and twigs, making an insulated place to sleep and raise baby creatures.

Others are just falling apart, leaving huge gaps in the wood.

The woods here are changing every day as animals make, fix and leave their tree-trunk dens. That means there will always be something new and interesting to look at as we walk around the property.

Sunshine Behind The Storm Clouds Of Life

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For some reason, spring is elusive in southern Iowa this year. We've had so much rain and so much snow that we feel like it will never end. Whoever is holding the snow globe we're living in ... please stop shaking it. We're ready for blue skies and warmer temperatures!

Unfortunately, there have been more cloudy, stormy days than usual. At least it seems that way. We've been more apt to wake up to a dark sky, like the one pictured here, than sunshine. We know it's back there, though, even in the midst of the storm.

Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He taketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. Psalm 107:28-30

So many people we know are going through storms right now, and not just the thunder-and-lightening kind. They're facing illness, sadness, death, financial difficulties and fear of the unknown. T…

Booth Brothers

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We were so blessed to be able to attend the Booth Brothers' concert in Pella last weekend. It had been at least three years since we'd seen them in person, and their music touched our hearts in so many different ways.

I have always loved their song "The Blind Man Saw It All," and hearing it in person is amazing. "A Moment Of Grace" meant a lot to us this year as a couple, and being invited to sing with the Booth Brothers on several hymns was the icing on the cake.

While the songs were a testimony in themselves, we were also moved by the preaching between songs. One nugget in particular was especially powerful.

Even knowing that I would sin, God created me anyway. He knew where I would reject Him, walk away and do incredibly selfish things, God decided there needed to be one of me in the world. And because those sins would separate me from Him, He sent His Son to die in my place. That kind of love will never be found here on earth, but we'll lavish in i…

Sorry, You'll Have To Take The Financial Staircase.

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Wouldn't it be wonderful if there was an escalator that would whisk you away to your financial goals? You just step on, hold tight and arrive in your desired location. No mess, no hassle, no fuss. Then you could reap the benefits of being financially stable.

This is where I pinch you so you'll wake up.

Financial security isn't something to which you arrive, but something you work toward.

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? Proverbs 27:23-24

Diligence means taking your financial journey one step at a time. No fair skipping steps or trying to find the escalator. There are no shortcuts in this trip.

Here are just a few other things to keep in mind:

* Money spent on small things can't be saved for bigger things.
* Figure up your hourly wage, then compare that to the amount you're spending. Is that purchase worth the time it would take to earn that much …

The Animals Are Just Getting Warmed Up

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Nature is coming alive out here on the property as the temperatures warm up. We can look out any window at any given moment and find some kind of wildlife. The puppies are especially suspicious of the shifty squirrels digging in their yard.

This spring, for the first time, we have two pairs of pied-billed grebes. They're small diving ducks that are amazing to watch - they'll flip over and completely submerge themselves to find food under the water. They're very small ducks, and we're on the lookout for their platform nests.

We also have very skittish turtles. It's very difficult to take their picture because they can see and hear everything. We have a great log that reaches from the bank of the small pond several feet into the water, and they line up on it every afternoon to sunbathe.

There is always a collection of beavers, muskrats, otters and other furry creatures around the ponds, too. The beavers we're not too fond of because they're cutting down our …

Words For Wednesday

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BBQ Meatloaf

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Recipe inspiration can come from anywhere. While having dinner with friends recently, we ate an amazing BBQ meatloaf. It was tender, moist and so flavorful. Thinking about my own meatloaf recipe, one I've made dozens of times, I realized I could do something similar and make it my own.

So here's my traditional, go-to meatloaf with an added BBQ twist. What can you tweak in your own recipe?

Ingredients:
2 pounds lean ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup honey BBQ sauce
1/2 cup quick oats
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried oregano

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray.

2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Transfer to loaf pan.

3. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until top is browned and crusty. Drizzle top with additional BBQ sauce. Let stand 5-6 minutes before serving.

You Were On The Mind Of Christ

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On Easter morning, our youth group handed out tags to everyone in the congregation. Each one had a railroad nail through it with the words "When Christ was on the cross, you were on His mind." We hand-lettered each one and tied it up with ribbon. The teens were so excited to be able to share their hard work, and their faith, with the church family.
Before we began, though, I read them something I had written during the week while studying the last days of Jesus' life.
These tags are not just a project to do to take up time. It’s an opportunity to change your life. It’s an opportunity to change someone else’s life. If you understand the words you’re writing on this tag, you can’t have lukewarm feelings about them. Christ was hanging on the cross - beaten, battered, tortured and humiliated - and thinking about you. 
What had Jesus Christ been through?  Matthew 26:50 - laid hands on Him, took Him Matthew 26:67 - spit in His face, buffeted Him, smote Him with the palms of their h…

He Is Risen Just As He Said!

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Smile! God Loves You!

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"Smile! You're on Candid Camera!"

Does anyone else remember this decades-old television show? Hidden cameras would catch unsuspecting people living their daily lives and then do something strange to see how they would react. The caper usually ended with smiles and laughing both on camera and in the home audience.

God's love puts that smile on your face, doesn't it? When the sun is hiding behind the clouds and there's a sprinkle of rain in the air, it's the love of God that wipes the doldrums away. He is really the only reason we're able to smile, regardless of our circumstances.

But what happens if you take away the second sentence? It takes away the reason to smile completely. In fact, it makes it sound as though there is something deep down inside yourself that will help you smile.

"Just smile. No matter what else is going on. You can do it. Smile!"

We all know that's not how it works. You can't summon enough strength every day to…

Words For Wednesday

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My Finished Love Paper Bag Album For Etsy

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It's finally done! I'm so excited to share my finished love paper bag album with you. You can read about the step-by-step process to make it here.

When the folded paper bags are flipped and rearranged, they make a variety of flaps and pockets. 

The small pages make it a great way to feature tiny embellishments.

There are two sizes of tags inside, perfect for wallet-sized pictures and journaling.

Inside the opening of each bag is a large tag, which tucks back inside for a special surprise.

My favorite new feature is the cardboard file folder pages. They're covered with coordinating decorator paper and can be used for larger pictures, journaling or just about anything else your heart desires. If you just have to have this adorable album for yourself or for a gift, you can find it in our Etsy shop. We look forward to seeing you soon!

20-Minute Sweet And Sour Chicken Stir Fry

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This chicken dish is one of go-to meals when we're short on time. Using breaded chicken and frozen vegetables makes it super easy, too.

We get breaded popcorn chicken in bulk from Dutchman's in Cantril, Iowa. The breading they use is amazing, and you can't beat the price. You can get some somewhere else, I suppose, but I never will. If it's this good, why shop around?

Lay the chicken in a single layer on a sheet pan while the oven is preheating to 400 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes, until it's crispy and brown on the outside.

While the chicken is baking, heat frozen stir fry veggies in the microwave. Toss the heated veggies with a drizzle of soy sauce. Cover with a towel until you're ready to serve it.

As soon as you remove the chicken from the oven, transfer it to a large bowl and toss with sweet and sour sauce. Serve immediately on a bed of stir fry veggies.

And it's that simple. If you're feeling adventurous, experiment with different sauces and veget…

When Someone Says 'I Don't Go To Church'

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Every week at the end of our Sunday evening service, our church family prays for boldness and opportunity in the coming week. We want to be ready, willing and able whenever God puts a witnessing moment in our paths. It's a deep desire to be aware of the needs around us on a daily basis.

Recently I stopped at the grocery store early on a Sunday morning, which I rarely do. But on this day I needed some fresh produce that I didn't want to get the day before. I would hate to arrive at our noon fellowship with stale food. (shudder)

As I took my fruit tray and creme cake to the checkout, several young clerks were gathered around the checker's station. They were all young women, and they were talking and laughing like they didn't have a care in the world. This wouldn't have been memorable if one of them hadn't loudly announced, "I wouldn't know...I don't go to church."

This one statement threw me for a loop. What do you say when you'd rather be …

A Creative Sunday School Environment

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We had a busy week last week. In just two days we completely changed our Sunday school classroom from a boring, white box to a place we're all excited to learn in.

This before picture makes me very sad. The church basement had a flooding problem and all of the carpet was removed. This was actually a blessing in disguise because we were motivated to get the painting process started so the new carpet could be installed. 

Before the carpet installation, we gave all four walls a sky-and-grass paint job. Danny was amazing, doing everything but the touch-ups himself. He created the green hills by hand, taking what was in his head and transferring it to the walls. It's another one of his incredible, God-given talents.

Now that the carpet is in, it looks exactly like the ground! The fabric has several different colors of thread in it, making it look like concrete or gravel. Perfect for our outdoor room.

We attached boards to the bottom of the wall and ran rope across them to make the…

Asleep On Your Feet... Or ... Why Chick Days Are The Best!

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I love living in the Midwest at the beginning of spring. There's one specific sound that lets me know the change of seasons is near, and I hear it when I walk into any of the local farm supply stores.

Chick days!

Hundreds of baby chicken and ducks sing the songs of their people, luring cuteness-lovers from every corner of the county. They're easy to fall in love with when they're tiny balls of fluff that move on itty-bitty legs.

Except for the guy in this picture. He was standing at the back of the cage, slightly distant from the others. He was full from the feed in the trough, he was warm from the heat lamp and he was ready for his afternoon nap. His little eyelids were fighting sleep, but eventually he succumbed and drifted off. He didn't fall over - he just fell asleep on his feet. Can you relate some days?

Perhaps they have always been there, but this was the first time I noticed signs regulating the purchase of chicks, ducks and rabbits. They won't sell them …

Words For Wednesday

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Words For Wednesday

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Words For Wednesday

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Words For Wednesday

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Puppy Personalities Shining Through

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We've had the new puppies for almost two months now, and it's so much fun to watch them grow into their personalities. It's much like meeting new people - the more time you spend with them, the more you get to know all the little things about them.

Danny always says they get their subtlety from me. This look says "Mama...you do understand both of my bowls are empty, right?" Yep, not difficult to translate.

There's a special time at night when they all give up and crash. Hard. This is the best cuddle time of the day, mostly because they've stopped running. And chasing. And chewing. And barking. Everything except breathing and snoring.

And it's during those times we can get some one-on-one time in with each of them. Until they doze off in these adorable positions.

But once they're awake and going again, their personalities shine through. The babies love to do everything together, and if one has something, the other one needs to have it too. They ha…

Words For Wednesday

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Lovin' This Love Paper Bag Album

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My last trip to the local craft store was specifically timed for the day after Valentine's Day. I don't normally go there by myself - for obvious reasons - but this time I wanted to check out the after-holiday specials. I walked away with some beautiful papers, stickers and embellishments to turn into this one-of-a-kind paper bag album.

It's a work in progress, but I've already attached the patterned papers to each page. When you fold the bag in half like this, the bottom of it makes a flap that's perfect for decorating.

One new idea I had for this album was a few file folder tab pages spread throughout. This gives front and back spaces for more pictures and journaling, plus room for two more patterns of paper.

To make the file folders, I cut a piece of cardboard slightly smaller than the paper bag page.

With a pencil, I drew two lines to make the shape of the tab.

You can freehand it if you want, or you can copy it from one of the folders in your filing cabinet.