Sunday, March 30, 2014

Intentionally Focused, Day 33


This beautiful graphic is by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
Although I've been finished for awhile with the "Intentionally Focused" Bible study I did, I still have a few more days of my study that I'd like to share.  Please bear with me ... I hope these thoughts are an encouragement to someone!

This was from Wednesday, March 5, in the middle of week 7 of the study, which focused on our ministries.  The following verse describes a few ministries that may surprise you!

S [Scripture]= "Well reported of for good works, if she hath brought up children, if she hath lodged strangers, if she hath washed the saints' feet, if she hath relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work."  (1 Timothy 5:10)

O [Observation]= This verse is speaking of the qualifications that must be present in the life of a widow who would be cared for by the early church.  She needed to be a "widow indeed" -- not divorced -- and one who had no family of her own to care for her (verses 3-8).  Then verse 10 sums up the other things that must be true of such a widow.  These things are great ministry goals for every Christian woman:
1) well reported of for good works;
2) having brought up children (and, from what I understand, they need not be her own children);
3) having lodged strangers;
4) having washed the saints' feet;
5) having relieved the afflicted;
6) having diligently followed every good work. 
Much of this involves ministry to others.  And, incidentally, these six goals would seem to me to be fine goals for men also.  It's just that the context here is speaking of women.

A [Application]= I'm thankful for a faithful pastor and good biblical teaching through which I've been encouraged to minister in these areas.  I've "brought up" my own children and have had a part in pointing many others (including my grandchildren) in the right direction.  I've had the opportunity to "lodge strangers", showing hospitality to countless missionary families and ministry teams.  (Some of these folks have become lifetime personal friends!)  I've had opportunities to serve my fellow believers and have sought to do so quietly, believing that cleaning a toilet or scrubbing a sink can be a ministry just as much as teaching, music, etc.  I've been able to "relieve the afflicted" through giving to missions, the local food pantry, charitable organizations, and through helping my own elderly, ailing parents.  I say all this not to "blow my own horn" in any way at all, but simply to look at the variety of ways in which women can and frequently do minister.  We just don't always realize that these activities are ministry! 

I have found, though, that over time it's very easy to become weary in well doing.  I need to look to God for strength to keep on keeping on.

P [Prayer]= "Lord, I do thank You for how well taught we have been in the Christian life.  I thank You for our pastor's faithful ministry of Your Word and for how I've come to see that all of life may be a ministry if we do our tasks as unto You and for Your glory.  I thank You for the countless opportunities to minister and for the strength You have given for each one.  I pray that You will help me not to be weary in well doing but to keep on keeping on because, as one college mission statement says, "life is for service."  Many times I do become weary, so I pray for Your strength to made perfect in my weakness, and that Your joy will be my strength.  I thank You for all You will do and the strength You will give, in Jesus' name, Amen."

Just a few more Bible study posts, I promise...

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Fun with felt!


Library from one of the mats
I posted about this project over on my Christmas blog, but I know that not everyone visits there, so thought I would put up a short post about it here as well.  Back when I was brainstorming with my Nevada daughter about handmade Christmas gifts for their kids, she suggested these Felt Play Mats for use with matchbox-type metal vehicles.  If you go to the tutorial, you'll see that the designer has done some with other themes, like princess, pet shop, and even Gotham City!  Very creative, but I decided that if my Batman fan grandson wanted Gotham City, he could make one himself!

These mats are very cute and I thought they looked easy, so after chatting with our local daughter and getting her take on it, I planned to make two of them.  Let's just say they were not as easy as I thought, but I eventually did complete them ... just not in time for Christmas. 

Here's the first one:

And the second one:

And the local kids getting the first look at theirs:

The kids have been having lots of fun with these, but unfortunately, due to a construction error on my part, they aren't holding up really well.  In assembling the buildings for the mats, I used white glue to put them together and then hot glue to attach them to the actual mats.  Some of the lettering and details are starting to peel off, so if any of you actually try making these, I suggest using either fabric glue, tacky glue, or a small glue gun.  I had just had enough of hot glue and didn't want to use it for the details.

This was a fun project, all in all, more fun to design than it was to assemble.  I used many of the ideas from the tutorial and came up with quite a few fun ideas of my own.  Maybe some children in your life would like a Felt Play Mat too!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A nice asparagus recipe for Spring


Photo by Taste of Home
Spring will come.  I am sure of it, for the Bible states in Genesis 8:22,
"While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."

But right now, it just doesn't seem too likely up here, regardless of what the calendar may say.  Still, as I read in our daily newspaper yesterday, one sure sign of spring is the appearance of bunches of asparagus in the supermarket.  I bought one a couple of weeks ago with no clear idea of how I would use it.  I looked through my cookbooks a bit and found this wonderful side dish recipe: Parmesan Asparagus.  I didn't have any shredded Parmesan cheese on hand, and didn't think the grated type would work that well, so I just added a small amount of salt with the pepper instead.  I have some shredded Parmesan now, so will definitely try it that way too.

Another change I made was to break the stalks in half rather than leaving them whole; I thought they would be easier to eat yet still look nice.  That proved to be the case.  This would be a lovely side dish for Easter dinner!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Intentionally Focused, Day 32


I'm continuing to share, sporadically, from the "Intentionally Focused" Bible study I recently finished up.  This is from Week 7 which had to do with our ministries as women.  I found each of the studies that week to be very meaningful, and would like to share them with you.  Here's my study from Day 32:

S [Scripture]= "She  looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness."  (Psalm 31:27

O [Observation]= This verse is part of God's portrait of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31:10-31.  This particular verse is a great reminder that as women we also have a ministry at home, in addition to whatever other ministries we may be involved in.  In this part of our ministry, we are to do something and not do something.  God's ideal woman does look well to the ways of her household -- not just to the place and the routines of caring for it, but also to the comings and goings of the people within her household.  And God's ideal woman does not "eat the bread of idleness." She isn't lazy or sluggish and does not live an idle life focused on food and drink.  There's no place for idleness in her busy schedule -- and, if she is properly watching over the ways of her household, she just won't have time to be idle.

A [Application]= This verse has long been a rebuke and challenge to me.  I know well that looking to the ways of my household is a ministry.  I enjoy cleaning in many ways, and I have a real, sincere desire to look well to the ways of my household.  I have routines that work well for this when I find time to keep up with them.  Part of the problem -- the biggest part -- is that I am trying to keep up with the ways of two households -- ours, and an elderly parent's.  I have so much to do that it could literally be a full-time job, allowing for nothing else in my life.  And I know that God would have me to live a well-rounded, balanced life, so I need to keep trying to aim at that while continually working at looking well to my household(s).

P [Prayer]= "Lord, You know my heart.  You know that I desire for my household to be clean, organized, and orderly -- that I realize my care of the house is in itself a ministry, just as the home is a place of ministry.  Lord, in Your omniscience You also know that I have two households to look after.  I pray that You will help me not to be idle or lazy or sluggish, but to do my work each day as unto You, seeing my tasks as a ministry.  Give me wisdom in ordering my days as You would have me to, I pray.  In Jesus' name, Amen."

I hope these thoughts encouraged someone else as they did me!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Snow! Snow! Just look at the snow!


Graphic from Baptist Bible Hour
My kids used to love a library book which contained the above line.  I have read it aloud countless times and it is permanently ingrained somewhere within my brain.  And so it came to mind immediately as a title for this simple post. 

Last night a few lazy flakes began drifting down as we ate supper.  Just a snow shower, we thought, though it had begun to snow much more heavily as we headed off to church.  By the time we returned a couple of hours later, there was close to 6" of snow on the ground.  One very interesting thing in this snowstorm was the presence of "thundersnow", which I had never heard of before.  We did see lightning three times in our travels, and figured it might be thundering but we didn't hear it due to the noise of our tires on the unplowed road.  A friend told me that thunder and lightning in winter is often followed by large amounts of snow.  That proved true in this case.  By this morning, there was over a foot of snow!

Here are some pictures from around our yard.  I must note that we already had a lot of snow prior to this snowfall, so what you see is more than a foot deep, obviously.
Out back (taken through a window) -- toward the center of the picture you can see a small peaked roof.  That is the kids' tree house.

Plowing the snow was a must both last night and this morning!
Heavy snow like this can cause power outages and downed trees.  So far, so good!
Snow outlining the limbs of hardwood trees
It's deep!
Edge of the driveway
More plowed-up snowbanks
Looking down at the road
Looking toward the end of the driveway
Taken through the back door.  Triangle shape toward the right at the edge of the woods is the tippety-top of our swimming pool ladder.  Above ground pool is completely filled in and covered by snow.
Hope you have enjoyed this look at our March snowstorm!  And if you happen to live in this area, I am sorry for reminding you.  You've probably seen enough snow.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Intentionally Focused, Day 31


The lovely graphic is by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings!
The "Intentionally Focused" Bible study from Good Morning Girls is technically finished, although I do know some people are still working their way through it at their own pace.  And I should note that I simply meditated on the verses using the SOAP method, and did not actually answer the questions in the study guide as such.  However, as I looked again at those questions, I realized that I had pretty much answered them as I SOAPED the verses.  Week 7, which focused on our ministries, was a week of study which really spoke to my heart, so I will probably be sharing my findings from each day.  Here is the first one:

S [Scripture]= "Use hospitality one to another without grudging.
"As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."  (1 Peter 4:9-10)

O [Observation]= Scofield points out that the epistle of Peter is "the fulfillment of the commission given to Peter by Christ" in Luke 22:31-32 -- "when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."  Peter's writings certainly have accomplished that over time.  Scofield titles this part of 1 Peter 4 in this way: "Christian conduct in the light of the times in which we live."

Some of that teaching is here in verses 9-10.  Believers are:
1) to show hospitality to one another without grudging;
2) to use our God-given spiritual gifts to minister one to another;
3) to use these gifts as good stewards of the multi-faceted grace of God.

Concerning this manifold grace, Scofield defines it as "the method of divine dealing in salvation, and in the believer's life and service".  Once we are saved, "God ceaselessly works through grace, to impart and perfect in [believers] corresponding graces [such as the fruit of the Spirit].  Grace, therefore, stands connected with service, with Christian growth, and with giving."

A [Application]= So then, I need to show forth ungrudging hospitality, first of all.  I need to stop thinking, "There go all those expensive groceries I bought yesterday!" or "I'll have to vacuum and mop after they leave", or "I'm too tired to cook tonight", and so on.

Then, I must be a good steward of the spiritual gifts I've been so graciously given.  I need to recognize these gifts, nurture them, and use them to the glory of God and the encouragement of others, seeking to strengthen my brothers and sisters in Christ, just as Peter did with his epistles.

P [Prayer]=  "Lord, I thank You so much for the practicality of Your Word.  I know that You want me to bless and edify others for the use of all You have given me.  None of it is really mine. 
"Lord, You know that my husband and I delight in showing hospitality to Your people.  Yet, I'm sad to say, there have been times when that hospitality was somewhat grudging on my part.  I pray that You will help me to remember that You want me to show generous, ungrudging hospitality, at every opportunity.  I pray, too, that You will help me to be a good steward of the spiritual gifts You've so generously given me.  It would be more than enough to have my sins forgiven; more than enough to have a home awaiting me in heaven -- but to be given gifts, to be actually used of You in the lives of others, is just the incredible "frosting on the cake".  Help me to be faithful in cultivating and using these gifts to bless others and to glorify You.  I thank You for all You've given me!  In Jesus' name, Amen."

I hope this little study is an encouragement to someone else today!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Gluten-free Irish Soda Bread


Photo of regular Irish soda bread from Taste of Home
 (or muffins, as the case may be).
I promised to share the link to the recipe I used for this, so here it is: Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread.

As I mentioned yesterday, I opted to make this into muffins.  I was in a hurry.  I don't know why I can't learn and retain just how long certain kitchen tasks are going to take me.  I have been cooking for well over 50 years, having started young.  So I reasoned that since I didn't have time to cut margarine into the dry ingredients, I would just use oil and make these into muffins, shortening both the prep time and the baking time.  I baked the muffins for 20 minutes at 375ยบ, but do test them to be sure.  That was just about right for mine, give or take a minute.

I don't care for caraway and didn't have any orange peel,  so I used a scant half-teaspoon of orange extract.  If I had an orange on hand, I would have used the peel.

The muffins were delicious!  In fact, they were so good that I might bake another batch today.  Not very sweet, so they are good with hearty dishes like the Irish coddle I made last night.  Good with coffee too, and I imagine they would be top-notch with tea!

Not gluten free?  You are blessed.  Sometimes I look at all of my old, beloved bread recipes and nearly cry,  thinking how good they were.  (Although thankfully, there are some wonderful recipe sites out there to make up for it.)  But anyway, if you just want a regular, and very good, Irish Soda Bread, this is the one in the picture.

Linking today with Gooseberry Patch's St. Patrick’s Day recipe round-up.
 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day


... a little late!

I prepared a slightly Irish supper, but that's as far as we went in celebrating.  I didn't even think to wear green.  For supper, I made Irish Coddle, considered a true Dubliner's supper dish, according to my sources.  It's essentially a flavorful combination of sausages, bacon, onions and potatoes.  Very good.  And then I tried a recipe for gluten-free Irish soda bread.  I'll try and share the link tomorrow.  I was running short on time -- seems like I never allow enough time to prepare supper! -- so I turned it into muffins instead.  They came out excellent and I will be making that recipe again and again.  The muffins are not overly sweet and so would go well with soup.

And now, goodnight.  Hope you all had a lovely day!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Intentionally Focused, Day 30


Graphic from CrossCards.com
Okay, so I just had to share one more session from Week 6 of the "Intentionally Focused" Bible study from Good Morning Girls.  To be perfectly honest, I hadn't expected quite so much from this particular week, since it had to do with children.  I have no young children at home and, at this time, am not ministering directly to children, so -- although I studied these Scriptures dutifully, with my grandchildren in mind, I wasn't expecting a lot.  I was quite surprised with how the Lord spoke to me through week 6.  I will just share the study from that Friday:

S [Scripture]= "And that from a  child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
"That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." 
(2 Timothy 3:15-17)

O [Observation]= This second letter from Paul to Timothy is far more personal than 1 Timothy, and is probably the last letter Paul ever wrote.  He is encouraging Timothy to keep standing fast in the sound doctrine that he has learned.  I verse 14 he exhorts Timothy. "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of", even in the face of persecution, evil, and false teaching.  He reminds Timothy that he has known the holy scriptures since childhood, and that scripture makes us "wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable:
1) for doctrine
2) for reproof
3) for correction
4) for instruction in righteousness.
Applying scripture to our lives in each of these ways will lead to spiritual maturity and prepare us for the good works God has for us to do in His service.

A [Application]= Things are growing worse and worse in our world, just as they were in Timothy's day.  In the face of this, I am to do just as Paul counseled Timothy and continue in the things which I have learned and have been assured of.  Evil abounds, false teaching is out there, and persecution could be just around the corner.  Yet I need to keep on keeping on, standing fast on the Word of God.  I've learned sound, solid doctrine, and I can be in God's Word every day to be reproved, corrected, and instructed in righteousness.  As I do, I'm equipped to serve God in every area He calls me to, and I become spiritually mature and settled.  And surely part of the work God has for me is to instruct -- both by word and by example -- the children in my life, so that they will come to faith in Him and then grow spiritually strong.  They are facing an increasingly evil world and it's more important than ever to provide them a firm foundation they can build their lives on.

P [Prayer]=  "Lord, how I thank and praise You for Your Word!  It brings us to an understanding of salvation, but it doesn't stop there.  It reproves, corrects, shows us sound doctrine and instruction in righteousness -- all for the purpose of equipping us to grow spiritually strong and to serve You.  How thankful I am to own a Bible in my own language, and to be able to read and study it each day.  I pray that you will help me to faithfully read, study, and apply Your Word to my life.
"And I pray, too, Lord, that You will help me to keep the Bible before the children in my life, and to help them grow in You.  Give me special insight and strength for this task, especially as I prepare this year's summer devotional book.  I thank You for all You will do and the strength that You will give.  In Jesus' name, Amen."

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Simply random mid-March thoughts


Just a few random thoughts and happenings from the week ..

  Snow is probably the big story here.  Big storm on Wednesday, lots of snow, cold, ice, and wind.  Sometimes it seems as if this winter is going on forever.  (And there *was* once a time in our state's history, sometime in the 1800s, when there was a frost every month of the year, so I guess it's not impossible.)  On the other hand, as my husband says, if it all melts at once, we are in for a lot of flooding. 

I do enjoy watching the snow fall, as long as I don't have to drive in it.  And it is pretty to see a clean layer of white, looking like meringue or 7-minute icing, covering everything once again.

It's also nice to see the longer daylight, even though daylight saving time in mid-March still seems a bit odd.  And the higher, brighter winter sun feels good, although I'd rather not see all of the cobwebs, dust and crumbs it tends to reveal indoors.

Does anyone else have those strange little spiders that look like miniature daddy long-legs and leave drifts of webs everywhere?  The webs look sort of like cotton batting to me.  They are dense and white.  I've seen a few of these at church, so I can't blame it on the wood in our cellar which might be the natural guess as to why we have them.  They seem able to spin these webs very quickly and it's impossible to stay ahead of them. 

This is Zone 3 week in FlyLady's system ... the bathrooms.  Yesterday I scrubbed the tub and shower using my favorite homemade Tub and Shower Magic.  It works great on bathroom sinks and countertops, too.  If you've never tried this, you might like to give it a try.  I find that by using this once a month, and maintaining by use of Tilex Fresh Shower every day, the tub and shower stay looking fairly decent in spite of our hard water. 

I've been working at trying to reduce our grocery bill, and this week I actually succeeded.  It's still not low, but we spent about $15 less than the previous week.  I've made a number of meatless meals from some of my favorite basic cookbooks -- More-With-Less Cookbook; Jane Brody's Good Food Book
(Lentil Soup; Rice, Corn and Cheese Casserole); and Jane Brody's Good Food Gourmet (from which I plan to make Lentils Ole this week, to serve over baked potatoes with taco toppings.  Any of these books will give you some good ideas for inexpensive, nutritious meals that taste good.
Another thing I do to save money is to make a lot of my own spice blends, onion soup mix, taco seasoning mix and so on.  Many of these recipes I've found in More Make Your Own Groceries by Daphne Metaxas Hartwig, and its predecessor, Make Your Own Groceries, which is hard to find at a reasonable price.  Check in local used bookstores, thrift shops, etc. and I hope you will find one!  More great recipes for this type of thing can be found here: 100-plus Recipes for Homemade Mixes and Seasoning Blends.

If you are interested in more homemade ideas, check out the "homemade life" label in the label cloud to the right.  There are quite a few of them there, from bagels to swiffer refills!




Today I have corned beef in the slow cooker, along with carrots and potatoes, to serve with homemade baked beans for supper tonight.  This is my go-to recipe for making corned beef in the crock pot: Glazed Corned Beef Dinner.  At the end of the cooking time, one transfers the meat and veggies to a baking dish and adds the glaze, cooking it in the oven for the last half hour.   I recommend it!

I probably had much more to say, but this is our day to clean the church and so I had better have lunch and get ready to go, since Mr. T is now home from work.  Enjoy the randomness!
** This post contains affiliate links.**


Thursday, March 13, 2014

A colorful salad to enjoy!

Image courtesy Vintage Holiday Crafts.com
I made a salad for this week's potluck at church that was very good and quite different.  A week or so ago, I had made three-bean salad for supper to go with macaroni & cheese, and used my favorite recipe from the More-With-Less Cookbook, an old standby.  (You can find it here in my A-Store: More-With-Less Cookbook.  Or just go to Amazon directly and do a search).  On the facing page was a recipe for Soybean Salad Special.  It looked intriguing so I decided then and there that I'd try it for the next potluck.

Here's the recipe:
SOYBEAN SALAD SPECIAL
Combine in salad bowl:
1/2 head lettuce, torn in bite-size pieces
1 1/2 cups cooked soybeans, drained
1 fresh orange, peeled and diced
2 T. chopped onion or scallion
Combine in a jar and shake:
1/4 cup oil
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. vinegar
1 T. honey
1 T. orange juice
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
Pour dressing over salad ingredients and toss lightly.

Now, here's what I did.  I used a bag of salad -- it was the Fresh Express "Sweet Butter" which is a blend of green butter lettuce and red leaf lettuce.  And for the soybeans, I used a bag of the store brand steam-in-bag frozen shelled edamame.  For the orange, I chose to use a Cara Cara orange, which I had never tried before, but it sounded intriguing.  My supermarket website describes the flavor as "Exceptionally sweet with cherry undertones and a tangy cranberry-like zing" and the inside of the orange is a pretty pink -- almost like a red grapefruit color -- even though the outside is orange.  It was a great choice.  I didn't have scallions on hand, so just shook some dried minced onion into the dressing.

The recipe also noted that one could mix the dressing in advance -- several hours or overnight -- and marinate the soybeans in it, so I did do it that way.  I'm sure it made the salad more flavorful -- it just made the nice green soybeans not such a pretty color.

The salad was delicious and I will definitely make it again.  Maybe it would perk up your late-winter salad repertoire, too!
**This post contains an affiliate link.**

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Intentionally Focused, Day 29


Image from CrossCards.com
I'm continuing to enjoy the "Intentionally Focused" Bible study from Good Morning Girls and will be sad when the study ends this Friday.  However, they are offering a study with an Easter emphasis which will be starting, I think, at the end of March.  In the meantime, I want to share a few more of my studies from the "Intentionally Focused" readings.  Week 6 was about our children.  Now I know that not everyone has children, and some have children who are grown and gone.  I hadn't really planned on sharing any of the study from week 6 because for me it was quite introspective and personal.  But the particular verses from day 29 could apply to any of us and our interactions with any children whose lives we touch.  The verses we were to SOAP were Matthew 18:5-6.  So here goes:

S [Scripture]= "And whoso shall receive one such little child in My name receiveth Me. 
"But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea."
  (Matthew 18:5-6)

O [Observation]= In this section [verses 1 through 6] of Matthew 18, Jesus is teaching that childlike faith is a necessity for those who would enter the kingdom of heaven.  His disciples had come to Him asking who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  In response, Jesus called a child to Him, set him in the midst of the disciples, and challenged them with the importance of childlike faith and humility.  No one will enter the kingdom of heaven without it. 

In verse 5, Jesus went even further, explaining that when children are received in His name, it's like receiving Him.  There are many ministering to children in His name; it is as if they ministered to Jesus Himself.  What a privilege!  But verse 6 adds a very important and sobering detail.  If anyone causes one of these little ones to stumble, he is a marked man.  It would be better for him to have died.  When you think of how many horror stories we've heart of "missionaries" or "priests" who've abused children while representing the name of Christ ... well, this passage shows us exactly what God thinks about that.  Most sobering.

A [Application]= Over the years, I've had the opportunity of ministering to perhaps hundreds of children, through Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Wednesday Night Bible Club, and while working at a Christian school, not to mention through the written word in devotional books and a novel for young people.  How very exciting and encouraging for anyone who ministers to children that this is like ministering to Christ Himself!

But here's the sobering question for me.  Have I ever caused any of them to stumble?  Certainly not because of any abuse, but what about something as simple as a bad attitude on my part, or an unthinking idle word that I might have spoken?  I pray that this hasn't been the case, and will certainly be more aware of it in the future.  I hadn't ever really thought of it in this light before.

P [Prayer]= "Lord, I thank You so much for Your Word and its effectual working in our hearts and lives.  I thank You for the opportunity to minister to children, not only in the home but in many other venues over the years.  What a privilege it has been to be involved in their lives!
"Yet, Lord, as I consider the sobering words in Matthew 18:6, I pray that I have not ever caused any of them to stumble in any way.  Certainly that would never have been my intent, but I realize now that even attitudes or tones of voice could have contributed to that happening.  Now that I'm aware of this, Lord, I pray that You will help me to set a consistent example for all the children whose lives I touch.  I thank You for all You will do.  In Jesus' name, Amen."

So that was my study for Day 29.  A bit heavy, perhaps, but that's how it spoke to me.  Something to consider, for sure.

My next "Intentionally Focused" posts will be on ministry, I think -- although I may do just one more concerning children.  We will see!


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Some "worth the read" links

This wonderful graphic is by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings.
 From time to time, I read some blog posts that really speak to me.  I subscribe to a number of blogs via email, and so I can read the posts as I have time.  Sometimes that might be days or weeks after they were originally posted, but good writing stands the test of time!  Often I will pin such posts to my "Worth the Read" Pinterest board, and sometimes I share the links here at my kitchen table.  Today I would like to share a few links with you!

One of the best posts I have read in a long time is Spring Cleaning the Soul by Sarah Beals at Joy-Filled Days.  Yes, just as our homes here in New England need cleaning after a long winter of cobwebs, tracked-in mud,  and wood ashes, our hearts need a thorough going-over, too.  I think Sarah is one of the best Christian bloggers out there.  She is "iron sharpening iron" for me (Proverbs 27:17) and her posts never fail to encourage or challenge me in some way.

This post -- 4 Ways to Cultivate Margin and Breathing Room in Your Life -- by Crystal Paine was so helpful to me.  I need to go back and re-read it.  Crystal's book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode is also well worth the read and re-read. "Balance" is my one word for 2014, but so far I'm not doing too well putting it into practice.  I hope that Crystal's book is going to help me a lot with that.

Last week the "Intentionally Focused" Bible study from Good Morning Girls was zeroing in on our ministries.  I intend to blog about each of the days, because the study was just so good and I got so much out of it that I just have to share.  One ministry we all should pay attention to is hospitality.  I feel so strongly about this that I have an entire Pinterest board about Hospitality.  This post: God Changes Lives when We Open Doors will bless your heart and possibly change the way you view hospitality.

Some times and seasons of life are very, very hard.  Although I don't have young children in the home on a regular basis, I can remember those days well, and this post -- Your Parenting Struggles are Opportunities to Choose -- by Sarah Beals might encourage you if you happen to be in this season of life.

If you are facing or living through some hard things right now, be sure and read Life is Hard.  God is Good. by Diane at An Extraordinary Day.  You will be blessed and encouraged!

Remember, "The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him."  (Nahum 1:7).  God is good, and He will always be good.  All the time.

Just one more.  We all have a story.  A story of childhood and growing up, a story of how God worked in our lives to bring us to salvation, a story of how He has sustained and led us since that time -- even stories of hard times He has brought us through.  Read Redeeming Your Story by Brenda at
Coffee Tea Books and Me and be encouraged today to share your story with others.

I hope that these posts will encourage others as they have me!

Monday, March 10, 2014

A busy week indeed


Graphic from CrossCards.com
"You must have had a busy week!" commented my pastor's wife yesterday.  It took me a few seconds.  How did she know?  Then I remembered -- she reads my blog.  And I hadn't posted anything new since March 1.  She was absolutely right.  My week was busy, crazy, stressful, and any other synonym that fits.  I was out of the house a LOT.  So much so that ... well, try to imagine the following scenario:

An appliance -- let's say it's the washing machine, because that's what it was -- breaks down.  Not at your house, but at your elderly parent's house.  After having the situation assessed by a knowledgeable handyman (your husband, in this case) who says it would best be handled by a professional, you call Sears to schedule a repair appointment.  And the person on the other end gives you a time next week -- next Thursday, to be exact.  (In the meantime, of course, you are doing your parent's laundry at your own home.) 

It will tell you a great deal about the busyness of my week when you learn that my response to this week-in-the-future appointment date was, "That would be great!"  The man on the other end sounded a bit surprised.  I almost think he said, "It will?"  He probably doesn't get that response very often when he mentions repair dates over a week away.  But I was just. so. relieved. that it wasn't last week.  The Lord knew I didn't need to add another thing to that week.  I'm so thankful that our times are in His hands!

"But I trusted in Thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God.  My times are in Thy hand ..."  
(Psalm 31:14-15a)

Saturday, March 01, 2014

March Goals


Maple sugaring in 1956
A new month, and time to set some new goals!

* Read through the March  portion of the One-Year Devotional Bible.
*  Read 4 chapters in The Power of a Godly Grandparent
* Write and send a newsletter to grandkids
* Finish reading Say Goodbye to Survival Mode
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses and review some older ones.
* Add 4 pages to my "What Do I Know About My God?" Scripture notebook
* Continue with "Intentionally Focused" Bible study
* Keep up with my Sunday School study -- The Heart of a Woman Who Prays
* Exercise at least 20 times.
* Get to bed by 9:45 pm each night.
* Limit sugar.
* Drink enough water each day.
* Keep up with Kelly's missions in homemaking zones of the week.
* Take an overnight getaway with my husband
* Watch grandkids so their parents can get away
* Post in both of my blogs as often as possible
* Reduce grocery bill by $5 per week (just a place to start!)
* Spend several hours updating my A-store.
* Do research for setting up an Etsy shop (I've already joined Etsy)
* Make at least a dozen items for sale at craft fairs.
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family.
* Clean church and set up for potluck meal
* Make some winter banners
* Make gift tags from last year's Christmas cards.
* Complete several handcrafted birthday gifts for March and April birthdays.

MARCH'S HEALTHY HABIT:  Exercise
WORD FOR 2014: BALANCE

And here's how February went:
FEBRUARY GOALS
* Read through the February  portion of the One-Year Devotional Bible  -- DONE!
*  Read 4 chapters in The Power of a Godly Grandparent -- not done (sidetracked by another book)
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses and review some older ones -- DONE!
* Add 4 pages to my "What Do I Know About My God?" Scripture notebook -- DONE!
* Continue with "Intentionally Focused" Bible study -- DONE!
* Keep up with my Sunday School study -- The Heart of a Woman Who Prays -- DONE!
* Exercise at least 20 times -- not done
* Get to bed by 9:45 pm each night -- not done
* Limit sugar -- not done enough
* Drink enough water each day -- not done enough
* Keep up with Kelly's missions in homemaking zones of the week -- not fully done
* Plan an overnight getaway with my husband -- not done
* Post in both of my blogs as often as possible -- DONE!
* Check out airline tickets for trip to NV -- DONE!
* Reduce grocery bill by $5 per week (just a place to start!) -- not consistently done
* Spend several hours updating my A-store -- not fully done
* Do research for setting up an Etsy shop (I've already joined Etsy) -- not done
* Make at least a dozen items for sale at craft fairs -- not done
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family -- DONE!
* Clean church and set up for potluck meal -- DONE!
* Finish some UFO Christmas gift craft projects -- DONE!
* Design and make some winter banners -- found a pattern, but they're not done
* Make gift tags from last year's Christmas cards -- not done
* Start several handcrafted birthday gifts for March and April birthdays --  not done

FEBRUARY'S HEALTHY HABIT:  Exercise -- a dismal failure!  Life became so busy with so many snow days for grandchildren and with appointments for my dad, and then I got a cold.  Our road is not safe to walk on due to ice underfoot and high snowbanks which obscure visibility, so I can't say that I even went for a walk, other than parking at a distance at Walmart and the grocery store!

I am certainly hoping that March will be better as far as accomplishing my goals.