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My “But. First. God.” Planner Layout

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When you have a super-busy week coming up, the most important thing you can do is remind yourself that God comes first. It can be difficult to find time to be in God’s word, to pray and especially study a topic or passage. It can be difficult to prepare your heart for the day, God’s way, first thing in the morning. But since my planner is always open and always in front of me, this week’s layout puts my priorities in perspective in a fun and creative way.

I have several books of faith stickers, so I went through and found all the phrases that were specifically about God - who He is, what He does and how important He is to my daily life. Lots of the stickers were about me - my faith, my actions and my thoughts - but I really don’t want it to be about me this week. I want to to be all about God.

I also didn’t want a lot of clutter (if you can call embellishments clutter, which is arguable) because it’s going to be a busy week. I’ll need lots of space to document all I accomplish and pl…

My Little Golden Book Collection Just Grows

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When we had a teen girls Bible study every month, we had several projects that we used Little Golden Books for. We made pennant banners, some notebooks and I had plans drawn up to make birdhouses with the covers, even though we didn’t have a chance to make that one.

We asked our church congregation to donate books for these projects, and they delivered. We had stacks and bags of books brought for many weeks in a row, and we used every single one of them for something. We were blessed beyond measure by the generosity of our church family, and we had so much fun working on those projects together.

After creating with all those Little Golden Books, I fell back in love with them. I had many, many of them growing up, and I definitely had my favorites. I remember the animals counting book, We Like Kindergarten and ALL of the Christmas books. I still had a couple of them from my growing-up years, and I began to add a few here and there as I found them at sales and antique stores. Yes, books…

Let’s Party Like It’s 1935!

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This little 24-page book was just waiting for me at one of our favorite antique stores in Iowa City. A marketing piece for the Staley Manufacturing Company in 1935, the party book was designed to give “all growing boys and girls” a celebration that was delightful and fun. The ideas inside are “easy to prepare - and not expensive!” Ok, so they had me hooked.

First of all, the illustrations are beautiful! They show each of the table arrangements and games described for that party theme, and the colors are stunning. Please note, the small children are playing a game that requires a table full of candles. Apparently children were a little more careful and less likely to set things on fire in the 1930s.

I wish I had read through this book more closely two weeks ago because I would loved to have used one or two of these Valentine’s ideas with the youth group. They have some beautiful suggestions for the tablescape, including a decorated box that can be embellished with just about anything.…

Setting Yourself Up For Creative Success

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Yes, these are Valentines. And yes, the picture was taken just a couple of days ago. And yes, there is a method to my madness. I promise.

In the past, when the time for buying a certain seasonal card or gift passed, I would tuck away all the supplies I used for that season. Then, a few months before that holiday or when people would be ready buy that season, I would pull it all back out and make cards and journals and paper crafts until the season was over.

That was a lot of words to explain that I still have Christmas paper from approximately 10 years ago in a box in the craft room. I’ve never used it, I want to use it but there never seems to be a way or a time to use it.

So I’m stopping this trend with Valentine’s Day. I already had paper, stickers, embellishments and other Valentine goodies out on my work table from when I was creating and listing for our Etsy shop. Timing is super important online because, especially with cards, there is a very definite window of time to buy and…

Words For Wednesday

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Peanut Butter Cookie Logs

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During the months of January, February and March, our church switches up its service schedule. Instead of coming back for a night service when it’s cold and dark in the middle of winter, we have a morning service after Sunday school, then have a fellowship lunch followed by an afternoon service. We stay there for more than four hours, and it is absolutely the most perfect way to start the week!

I also love having a fellowship lunch because I can try new recipes and share them with our church family. This cookie recipe is one of the experiments I tried lately, and I love the way it turned out. Apparently they did too, because there were none to bring home. So glad I save four back.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Crisco
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Melting chocolate
Crushed peanuts

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine Crisco, peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar and egg. Mix un…

The Kindness Of Prayer

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“No man can do me a truer kindness in this world than to pray for me.”

How often do we tell someone “I’ll be praying for you,” in an off-hand sort of way? We might be well intentioned, but somewhere in the busyness of life we drop the ball. We either quickly ask God to be with that person in a special way or we decide to pray later and end up forgetting about it altogether. Then we hear that name again on Sunday morning during prayer time and cringe inside.

Charles Spurgeon was a praying man himself. He had seen what God would do in the life of a man who spent time on his knees, so this quote came from experience as the person praying. But he also knew exactly what prayer could do in his own life when other people prayed for him. Prayer isn’t the least you can do ... it’s the most powerful thing you can do.

You can be nice and bake a cake, drop off a meal or put a card in the mail. But true kindness stops whatever they’re doing, enters the throne room of heaven and takes that person …

My “Bright, Cheery Flowers” Planner Layout

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Taking into consideration that high temperatures were in the single digits this week, I desperately need this layout for the next seven days. A sheet of vellum flower stickers has been in my planner collection for just such an occasion! 

I never use the labels that come on the left hand page of my planner, so covering them with some inspirational phrases and coordinating letter stickers makes them journaling blocks that I will actually use. And I just moved a little and saw that the flowers are metallic, so they sparkle and shine! Added bonus!

The two phrase stickers on the right hand page are going to keep me going through another long week - Glory to God and Make Today Great. There are no better motivational messages than these, and they’ll keep me focused and centered in the days to come. I pray your week will be just as blessed as I know mine will be - to God be the glory, great things He has done!

Have We Trained The Puppies, Or Have They Trained Us?

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It’s hard to admit, but the puppies have us trained really well. And by “us” I mean “me.” They turn those big brown eyes on and I melt. When I’m about to leave for work, both first thing in the morning and at lunchtime, they gaze longingly at me knowing I will give them goodbye treats. Yep, you know the look.

And when it’s cold outside, the look is even more intense. We compare it to those heart-breaking commercials about puppies in need, only ours are neither abused nor neglected. Definitely not. But again, they have me trained - they wait for me to sit down in the evening and then pile on top of me. It’s like those videos of the newborn puppies all tangled up together while they sleep. It’s like that ... only bigger and heavier. Much, much heavier.

But they are still Pavlov’s dogs in many ways. As soon as they hear Danny’s big black truck coming up the driveway, they’re at the door. I’ve been working with them not to bark when someone’s coming to the door, and it’s beginning to wor…

Praising God This Valentine’s Day

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Scriptures And Phrases For Valentine’s Day Cards

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You have your card - either a handmade one or one from the store that had the perfect picture on the front. It probably has a cheesy poem on it, or maybe just loads of glitter and ribbon.

But now what? What do you write inside? You want something meaningful, but it also needs to be personal and creative.

Here are just a few Scripture verses and sentiments that you can personalize and make perfectly appropriate for that special someone!

* I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine. Song of Solomon 6:3

* Sending a little love your way!

* Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it. Song of Solomon 8:7

* Two hearts, one love

* Love beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7

* May everything beautiful about God’s love be yours today.

* This is my beloved, and this is my friend. Song of Solomon 5:16

* There are so many reasons I thank God for bringing us together.

* And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three;…

Words For Wednesday

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Mini Folding Valentine’s Day Card

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Ok, so this is possibly the cutest, tiniest, most adorable Valentine book ever. With so many little pages to embellish and put hand-written notes on, you’ll have so much fun putting it together.

And when it’s all tied up with a bow, it will be a forever keepsake for the recipient. Now that’s love!

You can make this book whatever size and shape you want, so I began mine with these stickers. Their color scheme is how I chose my card stock, decorator paper and other embellishments.

Their size and shape gave me the dimensions for the center set of pages. I trimmed card stock to fit one rectangle sticker on each page and three pages to each section.

I cut the next strip and color of card stock to wrap around the center pages so the panels open on the opposite sides as the first one. Ultimately, they will alternate every time and create a staggered, flower petal-type look.

Cut and fold, turn the card and repeat. 

The four colors of card stock each have three panels, and they alternate top …

What Is Love, According To Scripture?

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Love.

There have been poems written about love, songs sung about it and movies made about it.

We love everything about love.

If you type it into a Bible program on your device, you’ll find 281 verses that contain the word love. How wonderful our faith must be for God’s word to talk about love so much!

But let’s dig a little deeper. If you pull out your concordance - you know, that big book on the shelf that you probably haven’t used for a while - you’ll find those same 281 verses with the word love in them. Again, how wonderful Christianity is to talk about love so much!

Now look closely at the numerical references for each of those verses. If love had just one meaning, all of the numbers would be the same and the writers could abbreviate that section of their concordance. Talk about saving space!

But there isn’t just one definition of love in the Bible. There are actually 8 Hebrew and 9 Greek words that all translate to our English word, love. When I typed out the numbers and their …

My “Valentine’s Week” Planner Layout

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It’s Valentine’s Week! Can you believe it’s the second full week of February already? I really enjoyed pulling out the Lovey-Dovey box from the craft room lately and make some very special things to show you overt he past few days. That included package after package of heart stickers, heart die cuts, heart buttons and heart ... you get the idea. Several of those made it into this week’s planner layout.

Just like last week’s layout, I’ve tried to be very subtle with the Valentine’s Day theme. It’s subtle, right? (Wink...) I use up each of these spaces on the left page with lists and notes from meetings and Bible study throughout the week. It’s fun to go back later and see how I documented the events of each week. I’ll probably add some hearts down the “food” section to change those days of the week to match the right hand page.

As always, my right side page leaves lots of room for the things I hope to get done and the things I actually get done. It’s going to be a great week, and I n…

Valentine Cake Cut-Out Hearts

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Need a last-minute treat for an upcoming Valentine’s Day event? Pick up a store-bought cake, some frosting, sprinkles and a cookie cutter for the perfect snack of all sizes.

For my hearts, I bought three small loaf breads in lemon poppyseed, orange and cherry along with a tub of pink frosting with sprinkles in the lid. It was one of those special packages for Valentine’s Day, which was absolutely perfect for me.

Most cookie cutters are two inches thick or smaller, so cut your bread into slices thick enough to stand up on their own and thin enough that the cutter will go all the way through. Adjust accordingly.

Slices at the ends of the bread are perfect for a couple of small hearts, and the middle are just the right size for large hearts. My guess is that you have heart-shaped cookie cutters in just about every size, just like I do, so go on an expedition to find them!

Then lightly frost each heart and dip them in the sprinkles. The whole process only takes a few minutes, and it’s ea…

$3 Dollar Store Valentine’s Light-Up Jar

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You don’t have to spend an exorbitant amount of money to decorate and give gifts for each of the seasons. For just $3 apiece, these adorable light-up Valentine’s jars can be used as part of a tablescape, as gifts for someone special or as a little something pretty for your own workspace.

All I needed were these three things, all from our dollar store: a plastic jar, a bag of table scatter and a string of heart lights. Yep, that’s it! Plus batteries I already had.

I started with some table scatter in the bottom, just enough to cover the bottom of the jar.

Then I layered a few lights on the string, scatter, more lights and more scatter.

When the jar was full, I screwed the lid on and kept the batteries in the back. You could tie it to the jar with ribbon, but make sure it’s sheer so you don’t cover up the lights. The jar is too small to have very much covered up.

The finished product is this adorable, heart-filled jar perfect for lighting up the place! And it’s easily switched up for t…

Valentine Guy Gifts That Aren’t Sappy

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I don’t know about your guy, but most men aren’t huge fans of sappy, sentimental gifts. I’m not saying that they don’t want us to put thought and feeling into our Valentine’s Day ideas, but schmoopy-schmoopy probably isn’t on their wish list.

What can you do instead? Try some of these:

* One of our local florists carries candy and snack arrangements that you can give your guy.

* Buy a plant that he can put on his desk, in his office or in his home workspace.

* Make his gift a trip somewhere he loves - a restaurant, a store or a road trip.

* Personalization is fun! Find a keychain, golf balls, coffee mug or watch with names, his favorite team logo or family pictures on them.

* Keep giving all year with a subscription box themed with his personal interests.

* Surprise him with something he’s always wanted! This gift requires listening and planning, so pay attention.

* Give him tickets to an upcoming concert or event, then make a day of it with dinner and shopping.

* Just ask him what h…

Words For Wednesday

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Peanut Butter Cookie Hearts With Powdered Sugar Frosting

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If you’ve ever wanted to memorize a recipe, this is the one. And not just because you only have to remember the word “one,” but because it is the best peanut butter cookie recipe you’ve ever tried.

To make things simple, each large cookie uses one egg, one cup of sugar and one cup of peanut butter. I told you it was easy. The fun part is that you pull the cookie out of the oven while the middle is still a little jiggly, and it will flatten some and create a shelf for the frosting. It’s a little hard to put into words, but you’ll see it when you try it. And you know you want to try it!

Ingredients for cookie:
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter

Ingredients for frosting:
3 cups powdered sugar
A splash of milk
1 tsp vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a heart-shaped baking pan with nonstick spray.

2. In a large bowl, combine egg, peanut butter and sugar. Mix until smooth.

3. Scrape the batter into the baking pan, spreading it evenly.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Th…

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

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When we told our Sunday School class that we would be having a Valentine’s Day lesson next week, you wouldn’t believe the reaction we received.

Oh no!
Not love!
I can’t even watch my mom and dad kiss!
Do we have to?
Arghhh...

I was completely caught off guard. We’ve talked about love in class before without so much as a whimper, but as soon as the word Valentine came up, they wanted nothing to do with it. What I soon understood was they were associating Valentine’s Day with schmoopy-schmoopy love and not a love we can all share amongst ourselves on a daily basis.

The Bible has multiple words that mean love - one for friendship, another for general “stuff” that we like, one for believers to treat one another and one that describes the unconditional love of God. All of these use the same English word “love,” even though the action of love in each case is different.

What our upper elementary-aged students heard was “love,” and they immediately thought of romantic love the way it is prom…

My “Rainbow Of Colors” Planner Layout

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Have you ever had a week that you knew you’d need a little extra color to get you through? The next few days are shaping up to be incredibly busy, and my planner layout for the week is designed to make me smile every time I look at it! The embellishments are all from one set, so their color coordination makes me happy, too.

As a lover and maker of lists, I used small stickers this week to leave lots of room for notes. I’m in the middle of several projects at work, so staying organized is going to be super important. And my favorite part of Sunday afternoon is meal planning, so that box is all set up, too.

I couldn’t believe I found these adorable numbers in my collection of scraps. They remind me of a ransom note cut out of magazine pages, which wouldn’t normally be something to love, except in this case. I’m looking forward to filing in the blanks with this week’s youth group lesson - the second half of our discussion on discerning the voice of God - and a couple of one-on-one mento…