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Showing posts from September, 2018

God Loves That Person, Too

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You know that person who annoys you beyond all reason? God loves them just as much as He loves you.

And that person who has hurt you and made you cry more times than you can count? God loves them, too.

The person who has turned their back on God over and over again? God loves them regardless.

What about the young people who are choosing their own wants over the desires of God for their lives? God loves them so much.

That person who struggles with circumstances we'll never know about? God loves them endlessly.

The person on their knees in prayer every day for their loved ones? God loves them with an everlasting love.

How about the people who have committed what we believe to be unforgivable sins? God loves them just as much as He loves anyone else.

And you today? God loves you beyond measure.

God's love has no conditions, no limit and no strings attached. The same love that showers blessings on you, rains on every single person you will meet in the course of your day today.

The…

Five Ways To Celebrate National Coffee Day

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Happy National Coffee Day! As if we needed another reason to drink coffee today, right?

So what can you do to turn this ordinary Saturday into a true coffee-flavored holiday?

1. Text your favorite coffee drinker one of these fun phrases:
- With this coffee, and many refills, I will take on the day!
- I love you more than coffee. And I love you more after coffee, too.
- Coffee: Because morning people can't be trusted.
- A day without coffee is like...well, I don't actually know what that's like.
- First I drink the coffee, then I do the things.

2. Try a different coffee maker. If you normally use coffee pods, make some in a drip pot. If you've never used a French press, try it once. Experiment with new creations at the local coffee shop and see what's out there.

3. Bake something with coffee in it. A couple of my favorites are Chocolate and Coffee Donuts and Chocolate Cappuccino Overload Crinkles. Get creative and see what else coffee would taste great in.

4. Give …

When Dogs Decide To Photobomb Each Other...

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This is our Molly dog. She is very sweet and very pretty. She's also very photogenic.

The tiny boy dog, Diesel, also likes to have his picture taken.

When the camera comes out, so does that silly tongue.

And he gets to that perfect spot, where you can capture his good side. (Which is actually all his sides.)


When Diesel is the center of attention, he is at his happiest. See the grin?

 And there is the essence of his personality. Our sweet boy.

Homemade Whole Wheat Crackers

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Fall is the perfect time of year for certain flavors - pumpkin, cocoa, caramel, apple, pecan. Let's add whole wheat to that list with this simple cracker recipe. Pair them with your favorite dip or salsa and you'll want to share them all season long.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
4 Tbsp salted butter (1/2 stick)
1/3 cup water
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pull out two baking sheets.

2. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt and paprika.

3. Use a fork to cut cold butter into the flour mixture. It will turn into large crumbs.

4. Mix water and vanilla, then pour into the flour mixture. Use your hands to combine all ingredients into a dough.

5. Tear a piece of parchment paper into the size of your baking sheet. Place it on your work surface and dust with flour.

6. Roll out half the dough on the floured paper as thin as possible - about 1/16 of an inch. If it's not this thin, your crackers won't be crispy.

Words For Wednesday

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Scarf Storage That Isn't A Hanger

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When I heard the crash, I had no idea what it could be. The dogs were all in the front of the house with me, so it couldn't be them. (A surprise, I'd have to say.)

A quick trip to the walk-in closet showed exactly what happened. One of the hangers I used to organize my scarves had broken, and the other one was cracked and about to break, too. The crash happened when the hanger gave way.

Suffice it to say, I have a lot of scarves. This was the first week it was cool enough to wear one, and I practically kicked up my heels. I could go for several weeks and not wear the same scarf twice. It's not an obsession, I guess, just something that makes me happy.

But what didn't make me happy was cleaning up a pile of scarves off the floor. Using a hanger obviously wasn't working that great, so I headed in a different direction.


We are in between craft shows, so I used two of the small crates from our display to get all those scarves organized again. They were the perfect siz…

See-Through Glass Framed Fall Leaves

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Are the leaves changing in your neck of the woods? Let's save some of them and turn them into handmade art! With this glass framed piece, you can see right through it to the surface behind it.

To start these amazing leaf frames, gather several sizes, shapes and colors of leaves. Place them in a single layer between wax paper and close them up in a stack of heavy books. This will get them dried and flattened when they've been in there for a few weeks.

I used two dollar store frames for each artwork. I took everything out of each frame, then put one piece of glass back in.

This is just one arrangement of the dried leaves on the glass, putting the prettiest side down, and making that the front of the frame.

I printed out one of my favorite fall Scriptures and matted it on a dark piece of card stock.

Again, since this is the back of the art, the writing goes face down on the frame. Pretty side down, back side up.

Then I took the piece of glass from the second frame and secured it…

Lessons From Job: Lying And Hypocrisy

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As Danny and I have been leading our youth group through a study on the book of Job, we've gotten through an in-depth look at the first 17 chapters. We read almost verse-by-verse through each section, looking at the underlying themes and problems that happen in the storyline.

One that really stood out to everyone recently was the theme of hypocrisy. Or the lack thereof, when it comes to Job's life.

Our youth group has a group text that we use to let everyone know important info during the week. This particular Wednesday I texted them to look up the word "hypocrisy" and be prepared to define it and explain that definition in their own words. It was the first time we had tried this, and it worked even better than we'd hoped.

Hypocrisy is putting on a false appearance of virtues, morals or religious beliefs. In other words, you expect other people to follow your standards, but you don't follow them yourself.

My example for this concept was this: If I told you t…

Happy First Day Of Fall!

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I don't know what it's like where you live, but here in Iowa we went from summer to fall in about 12 hours. One day we were sweating and praying for a cool breeze, and the next day we were pulling out long pants and looking for long sleeves.
Iowa in September. That says it all.
In celebration of the first day of fall, here is a checklist for some great autumn activities. Print it out, cross them off and have fun!

Words For Wednesday

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Update Your Scrabble Game With Washi Tape

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For the past few months I've been using wash tape in my journaling Bible. It's one of my favorite decorations, and you can find it fairly inexpensively just about anywhere. Today I'm spreading my washing tape wings and adding it to one of our Stuff From Trees lines - the Scrabble trays!

Using my steadiest hands, I run a piece of thick wash tape across the curved part of the tray. This puts one edge under the tray and the other edge in the crease of the tray. A sharp pair of pointed, nonstick scissors makes cutting it evenly much easier.

Then I repeat the process, matching up the edges of the tape and its pattern, until the tray is covered.

I use hot glue to carefully attach the letters to the covered tray. A toothpick is the best tool for cleaning up any stray globs of glue.


I use the blank tiles as a blank canvas for decoration on some of the words. A few adorable stickers or images accent the finished piece.


It's so much fun to mix and match patterns and colors of w…

Tater Tot Casserole

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This casserole will put you in the mood for fall in a flash - and it combines many of our favorite comfort foods all in one pan. Sounds like a winning situation to me!

The added bonus for a household of two is that this dish lasted for three days. We were able to stretch our grocery budget a little farther and enjoy an amazing meal.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 1/4 cups water
2 packets sloppy joe mix
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1 large bag frozen mixed vegetables
1 4-oz can mushroom stems and pieces
1 package frozen toter tots
1/2 bag of shredded cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 13x9 baking dish with nonstick spray.

2. In a large cast iron skillet, brown the ground beef and drain the fat.

3. Add water and sloppy joe mix. Stir until combined, then allow to come to a boil. Simmer uncovered until mixture thickens, stirring occasionally.

4. Add tomato paste and stir until combined. Add vegetables and mushrooms,

5. Pour mixture from skillet to baking dish. Spr…

Show packing

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Tomorrow is Ottumwa's Walk on Art Street, and it's one of our favorite shows of the year. Since we're down to the wire, it means packing up everything we need to take with us has to be a priority.

To make the task of packing a little easier, I made a list. (I know, I love lists. This is just one that I never made.) It breaks down each category of the show and makes getting everything gathered so much smoother. No more running around like a chicken with my head cut off...

The list begins with all the physical needs of the booth: tent, tables, etc., so they get pulled out first. The big pieces are all in the garage, stacked up and ready to go.


All of our inventory has its own labeled drawer for simple transportation. We've tried so many different combinations of boxes, crates and containers, and this is by far our favorite. The crates we use for display pieces on the tables carry any overflow back and forth, making them both attractive and useful.
We'd love to see y…

5 Ways To Destress Fast

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Does your day have you feeling as grumpy as this bird looks? Are you tired, frustrated, impatient and a wee bit on the cranky side? If you answered yes to any combination of these, it's time to destress!

We all know that if you let stress build up, awful things happen. And they're usually directed at innocent bystanders who made the mistake of stepping into your path.

But we can combat that internal volcano with just a handful of stress-defeating ideas.

1. Unlike our grumpy hummingbird (I call Him Brutus), being outdoors for a few minutes can drastically change your outlook on the world. It won't change the circumstances inside the house, but soaking up the sun, listening to the birds and enjoying the breeze can make a huge difference in your attitude.

2. Check your breathing. Chances are you're taking a bunch of quick, shallow breaths because you're all stressed out. Slow down by counting: inhale for 4 seconds, exhale for 6 seconds and then repeat as necessary.

3…

How To Be An Encourager God's Way

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Did you know that today is the national Day of Encouragement? It was designed to give people a whole day to focus on kindness, uplifting others and creating some peace and harmony in the world.

But God told us that every day is a day of encouragement.

Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Christians don't need a nationally sanctioned day to encourage others. We've been called to be uplifting every single day. Our words and our actions need to be full and overflowing with God's message of love and support.

Words:
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom. Proverbs 10:21

The words of a man's mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook. Proverbs 18:4

She openers her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindn…

Holland Creme - That Amazing White Stuff In Donuts

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I remember going to the grocery store every Saturday morning when I was growing up, and my favorite place in the entire store was the donut case. All the glazed, powdered and filled baked goods drew me like a magnet.

My favorites, far and away, were the ones filled with that beautiful white, fluffy creme. At the time I didn't know it was called Holland Creme - I just knew it was the most amazing concoction ever.

Ever.

Here is my version of this sweet treat. You can make your own fried donuts and fill them, or like I did here, you can cut a crevice into store-bought donuts with a knife and fill them with creme in a piping bag. Either way, you're going to love it.

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup shortening
1 cup butter
1 Tbsp vanilla
7 cups powdered sugar

1. Make a simple syrup by combining sugar and water in a sauce pan over medium heat until boiling, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely before contin…

Why We All Need To Renew

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This weekend six ladies from Calvary went to the Iowa Regular Baptist Camp 2018 Renew Conference. It was an incredible two days of studying, learning, sharing, worship and lots of fun.

More than 500 women from across Iowa and several surrounding states gathered for music, worship and workshops. Everyone had God-bumps as we sang together in harmony. The chapel was a beautiful setting for our sessions.

The camp is located right on Clear Lake, and the mornings are absolutely beautiful. 

New this year was a walking path with prayer stations. We were given a booklet with prayers, Scripture and prompts to focus completely on our relationship with God. It was a great way to start the day.

We also got spoiled - big time. After arriving and registering, we were treated to a popcorn bar with lots of sweet treats.

And the crafty folks among us made wood pumpkins with a gorgeous fall theme.

And then there's the fun stuff! Right in the middle of camp is the tower, which has rock climbing on o…

How To Get Your Teens To Dig Into Their Bibles

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This is one of the best ways we've found to get our youth group to really dig into their Bible. Once they know the basics of the activity, they can use the same techniques and applications in their personal Bible study.

While there is a solid argument against letting teens use their phones in church, most of ours have Bible programs on their phones. Instead of telling them they can't use this powerful learning tool, we're showing them that there is a time and a place for it.

It comes down to this - their phone is a study tool that allows them to carry a Bible with them everywhere they go. Let's teach them how to use it!

Start by choosing a few words that can be found in numerous places throughout the Bible. We used a mixture of well-known words and some that would be a little more challenging, and we wrote them on different colored index cards.

Each teen gets a card and their instructions:
1. Do a search in your Bible program for each of your words.

2. Choose one of t…