Friday, November 27, 2015

Giving Back

There is an expression that I read and hear all the time lately and it's "Give Back."  People, politicians and businesses are always talking about how they are giving back to the community by sponsoring different events.  It may be a food drive or coat drive.  It may be talking about how they paid it forward.  Or some way that they are helping out those in need.

I always struggle a bit when I hear this because it makes me feel as if maybe I'm not doing enough.  There will be times when I get inundated with requests to help out with something and when I can't, I feel as if I'm not doing my part.

But as I wrestled with this, I thought of the following verse...

Matthew 6:1-4 (NIV) ~

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

This is what is bothering me about it.  Our acts of charity are to be quiet and secret.  They aren't to be advertised all over the place.  It shouldn't be "look at what I did or what I'm going to do."  Just do it!

There is much that we've done throughout the years that we don't talk about.  But when I read all these wonderful things people talk about, I start thinking, "I should mention that we did this or that."  My pride starts to get puffed up.  But then I come back to these verses.

None of Jesus miracles and kindnesses were advertised by himself.  He didn't walk around saying, "Look at what I did."  He was quiet and unobtrusive. He touched people's lives wherever he went without pomp and circumstance.

Let's continue to reach out to others and help wherever you see it.  But let's remember the words found in Proverbs as we do it.

Proverbs 27:2 (NIV) ~
Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!
The turkey is in the oven.  The majority of side dishes were prepped yesterday and need to go in the oven later.  My pies and rolls were done yesterday afternoon.  This is shaping up to be one of the easiest Thanksgiving Days I've had.
A friend from church and her son are coming for dinner and it should be a good time of food and fellowship. 
I pray that you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving Day! 
Psalm 145:21 (HCSB) ~
My mouth will declare
     Yahweh's praise;
let everything living thing
praise His holy name forever
     and ever.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

Psalm 104:33-34 (NIV) ~

I will sing to the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
    as I rejoice in the Lord.

I opened my Bible and read these words this morning.  "Thank you, Lord, for all the many things you do for me."  "Thank you for the blessings."  "Thank you for a wonderful thanksgiving service last night."  Hmmmmm,, it really could have used more upbeat music.  I wonder who that person was?  I wish more people would have responded when I asked for words of praise.  Why didn't that person greet me?  Why did this one say that to me?  Why would she think that is acceptable?  I can't believe someone would do that!  Boy, am I annoyed!!!  Oh!  I need to get that bread in the oven.  I need to check on the turkey and make sure it is thawed.  I need to do xyz.....

Sound familiar?  You start out praising God and end up lost in your own thoughts and even walking down a sinful path, thinking critical thoughts about someone!  We have good intentions but get off track very quickly.

I love the verses above.  "Let my meditation (thoughts) be pleasing to God AS I rejoice in Him."  As we offer up our praises to God, let's make sure we take captive every thought.  Let's live in the moment as we praise Him.  That means focusing 100% on praise.  Not focusing on our worries, anxieties and to-do lists.  Give God all of your attention.

I pray that each of you have a joy-filled day, offering up praises to the Lord for all He is doing in your lives.  Let's sing His praises today and every day, not just at Thanksgiving time. 

Give thanks to the Lord today!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV) ~

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Are you overflowing with thanksgiving today?  Are you so thankful for the blessings in your life that it spills out of you?

Let's be known for our thankful hearts.  Let's remember to count our blessings instead of grumbling about our hardships. 

As you go through your day today, get a piece of paper and pen, and see how many things you can think of that are blessings in your life.

Let thanksgiving overflow from your heart today.  Have a thank-filled day!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

365 Days of Praise - January

Back in January, I decided that I was going to find something to be thankful about every single day of 2015.  I started out posting one thing each day on Facebook and it's been such a wonderful exercise in thankfulness.

I decided between now and the end of the year, I would post them here, one month at a time.  That's mostly because no one is going to want and sit and read 365 reasons I'm thankful all at once! :-)

I realized almost from the beginning some of them started repeating themselves from time to time but it's okay.  I'm doubly thankful for some of these blessings.

January, 2015

Day #1 ~ The wonderful spiritual growth I've seen in Stephen the past year.

Day # 2 ~ A husband who helps me through so many of my struggles with encouragement and love.

Day # 3 ~ Nathan got a raise at work and a very good review.

Day # 4 ~ Emily is happy at school and doing well.

Day # 5 ~ Renewed vision and focus

Day # 6 ~ A productive week, and

Day # 7 ~ A brand new year and wonderful possibilities

Day #8 ~ -8 out with a windchill of -23. I'm so thankful for a roof over my head and a warm house.

Day #9 ~ Thankful for the kindness of a neighbor yesterday who surprised us by plowing our driveway and the church drive

Day #10 ~ Thankful for exercising 4 out of 5 days this week. It's a start!

Day # 11 ~  Thankful for a complete day of sunshine; the first in more than a week!Thankful for a complete day of sunshine; the first in more than a week!

Day #12 ~ Being able to open our home to others.

Day #13 ~ Thankful for a father-in-law who truly loves his family and would do anything for them. Praying for blessings on him today as he celebrates his 80th birthday!

Day #14 ~ Flour, yeast, salt and water turned into beautiful loaves of bread.

Day #15 - Thankful for contentment

Day #16 ~ Thankful for beautiful colors in the midst of drab days!Day #16 ~
Thankful for beautiful colors in the midst of drab days!
Day #17 ~ Thankful that I love being stretched and trying new things. If you don't try you'll never know what you can accomplish!

Day #18 ~ Thankful for a wonderful church body that loves each other, supports each other and prays for one another.Day #18 ~
Thankful for a wonderful church body that loves each other, supports each other and prays for one another.
Day #19 ~ Thankful for a wonderful 5 weeks with Stephen home from college. Prayers appreciated as Dan takes him back to Nyack this morning and then travels back this afternoon. It's a 10 hour round trip.

Day #20 ~ Thankful for the reminder I've had that when God calls you, He also equips you and is beside you so there is no need for fear!

Day #21 ~ Thankful that there was a change in our insurance for the coming year and it looks like it will cover many more things, including dental.Day #21 ~
Thankful that there was a change in our insurance for the coming year and it looks like it will cover many more things, including dental.
Day #22 ~ Thankful for a husband willing to hold down the fort for 5 days while I'm away and encouraged me to go and not worry about things here. He's a gem!

Day #23 ~ Praising God for mothers. So thankful I'm spending time with mine.

Day #24 - Blessed to have time to curl up with a good book. I read a book and a half yesterday. I can't remember the last time I had time or concentration to read. Yay!!!

Day #25 - Thankful for the opportunity to speak to a group of ladies at Fayetteville Baptist Church this morning. They were a blessing to me!

Day #26 ~ Thankful for a very sweet lady from my mother's church who offered to drive me the hour and half to the airport since my parents are sick.

Day #27 ~ Thankful for a comfortable bed, warm blankets and a soft pillow.

Day #28 ~ I'm thankful when my body decides to do a 3 a.m. wake-up call and I don't feel good that I have a flexible schedule that allows me to go back to bed for a couple hours.  I know many do not have that luxury.

Day #29 ~  Thankful for customers who purchase my soaps and craft items.  Every time I sell something it feels like Christmas!

Day #30 ~  Thankful that my husband is a great father.  Reliable, trustworthy, loving, provides for his children and loads of fun!Day #30 ~

Day #31 ~  A date with my husband last night.  I always enjoy those times to reconnect without distractions.

I like looking back over the year this way and seeing how blessed I truly am!ankful that my husband is a great father. Reliable, trustworthy, loving, provides for his children and loads of fun!
Day #30 ~Thankful that my husband is a great father. Reliable, trustworthy, loving, provides for his children and loads of fun!Day #30 ~Thankful that my husband is a great father. Reliable, trustworthy, loving, provides for his children and loads of fun!Day #31 ~ A date with my husband last night. I always enjoy those times to reconnect without distraction

Friday, November 20, 2015

Wake-up Calls

William Arthur Ward~

"Blessed is the woman who has a smile in her voice, a sparkle in her eyes, a song on her lips; a spring in her step, a warmth in her touch, a depth in her beauty, a purpose for her life, a joy in her faith, a hope in her breast and a love in her heart."

I've always loved that quote above and in fact, it's been on my sidebar for years. It's something I've tried to live by though I haven't always been successful.  And lately, I have been realizing how far short I actually fall. 

It's so easy to write one thing and live another, isn't it?  And yet, I don't want to be a hypocrite.  I want to live out what I actually say.  So I'm constantly working on having a repentant heart and walking my talk. 

This week was one of those wake up calls.  I woke up as I heard the frustration and pain in my son's voice as he is struggling to relearn some math for an employment test and yet, I was too distracted with business and social media to help him.  I woke up as I realized it had been almost two weeks since I had reached out to my other child who is away at college.  I woke up as my daughter retreated into herself and I discovered she was hurt over something I had said in my haste and hurry. 

I often put family down on the bottom of my priority list because I get wrapped up in other things.  I can be joyful and happy with the rest of the world, but a total grouch at home.  I can be patient, kind and sweet to others but impatient, mean and harsh with my family.

Those wake-up calls that God sends me from time to time really hurt.  But I'm glad I get them.  Yesterday, Dan and Nathan went to pick up Stephen from college.  I spent the day cleaning my house and making order from the chaos.  I canceled a couple of things that would have pulled me further away.  I spent time in prayer for my husband and children.  I made phone calls that I had been putting off but were necessary to help my son.  I worked on restoring my relationship with my daughter, as we talked and baked cookies together.  I was joyful, upbeat, happy and "in the moment" with my family.

We all went to bed cheerful and at peace and the benefit was I slept soundly all night long.  And that was a first in a long time because I had been getting those little nudges from the Holy Spirit in the middle of the night lately.

Wake-up calls are a good thing, aren't they?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Christmas Cookies

I realized yesterday that I need to start thinking about my Christmas baking.  In years past, I started in October and started putting the cookies in the freezer.  However, we just don't have the freezer room and I've been busy, so I haven't done anything yet.

Stephen comes home tonight for Thanksgiving and we always decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving, so I wanted to have a few family favorites ready.

I try to do a new cookie each year, but I think I'm going to stick to the old favorites.  They are used not only for us, but for church and various events and gifts.

Here is the plan this year: 

Cinnamon pinwheels
Peppermint chocolate crunch cookies
Swedish ginger thins
Andes mint cookies
Chocolate candy cane kiss cookies
Brandy snaps

Christmas meringues

When Emily gets home from school today, I'm going to rope her into helping me with a batch.  My girl has been off lately and I'm hoping this will restore her good spirits. 

How can cookies not make you smile. :-)