Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

I Corinthians 7:17,24. ~

"Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him...Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to."

If only my children acted like Sue’s children, then I could be patient.  If my husband was like Jane’s then my marriage would be great!  If I had a job that paid more then I could be relaxed like Jennifer.  If my situation would change, then I would be able to trust God.


Do you fall into this trap at times?  Do you wish things were different in your life?   Do you think that if your situation were different, then you would be different?  Are there days when you want to give up?  Are you in a situation that you wish would change?  

I think we all experience this from time to time.  Yet, the Lord wants us to be content with the circumstances and situations that He has allowed in our lives.  He wants us to rely on Him no matter what is happening.  He wants us to live for Him no matter what our husband, children, job, financial situation, or other situation is like.

Contentment is a choice.  When I choose to be dissatisfied and upset about my life circumstances, I have a tremendous amount of stress.  That stress then just continues the cycle of depression, anger, resentment, and sinfulness.  When I deliberately choose to be content, I feel at peace. 

Contentment comes from trusting God.  God has things in control.  He has a plan for your life.  He is working all things out for your good.  When I choose contentment, I am saying that I trust God.  I’m putting my life in His hands and letting Him do what He wills.  I am not trusting in God if I believe that things have to be going well first.  Trust happens by following Him when I can’t see the end result.   Trust is following Him in the darkness and when things look hopeless.

As you go through your week, remember to thank the Lord for your circumstances. Instead of looking at them with discontent, praise God for allowing you to grow through them.  Take it one minute at a time and one hour at a time and one day at a time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tweaking

There are so many times in my life when I have a plan and a goal in mind and am determined to accomplish it.  Yet, as I go on, I find that a particular thing doesn't work or I need to adjust something else, and I have to tweak my plan.

One of the things I wanted to do with the new shop is have homemade bread for sale each week.  Since I'm closed on Tuesday, I thought Wednesday would be a good day to have it so I'd have time to bake.  Last Tuesday, I spent the afternoon baking and went off to the shop on Wednesday morning with 8 loaves of bread.  Wednesday afternoon I came back home with 8 loaves of bread. :-) 

It's going to take time to get the word out.  I'm also not so sure I want to spend precious time I do have at home, baking tons of bread.  So I tweaked my plan, put the word out on Facebook that I was taking orders.  This way, if someone wants something I'll know exactly what to make and can bring that. 


For those of you with children who have some disabilities, you know that sensory issues can be a problem.  Many struggle with getting their children to make healthy choices, especially when left to themselves.  My son, Nathan, works from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Which means by the time he gets home from work and gets settled, it's almost 3 a.m.  He has trouble getting to sleep, and because of his allergies, has issues with getting enough oxygen into his lungs.  This has been an ongoing problem for years. 

He sleeps to almost noon, and has just a few hours before he has to go back to work again.  His tendency is to grab the most unhealthy things to eat.  He gravitates towards junk food - McDonald's, salty snacks, etc.   Left to himself, he just won't eat well and I am starting to see his health deteriorate.   The problem is that I'm gone when he gets up and the 4 days I'm at the shop I barely see him.  Last week I realized that he was buying himself ramen noodles and that was all he was eating for about 3 of those days, even though there were other choices in the house.

So I tweaked.  I'm trying to prepare some healthy meals ahead of time and leave them for him.   The days I am home I am making sure that he is eating something healthy and a big meal before he goes to work.   It actually is helpful for the whole family because I generally don't get home until about 5:30 and I love having my meal already made!  When I make Nathan's meal, I just make sure there is enough for the whole family and we reheat it later.


I'm the church secretary and there is quite a lot involved in that.  Because I knew opening a shop was initially going to be a lot of work, I tweaked and asked someone else in the church to take over the responsibility of doing the bulletin for the month of September.  The burden of having to get that done each week has lifted.  I know once I settle into a routine it won't be a problem.

So tweaking a plan is not a bad thing.  It's just part of life and dealing with the unexpected.  My plan today is to clean my house and hopefully, I won't have to tweak that at all! lol

Monday, September 15, 2014

Blog Hop

I was invited by my friend, Lisa M. Buske, to take part in a blog hop. You can read Lisa's blog by clicking here.   I met Lisa at a couple of women's conferences and then we became friends online. She spoke to the women at our church in 2013 and I never would have thought that a year later I would attend the same church when my husband accepted the call as pastor of New Haven Community Alliance Church.  :-)

Lisa M Buske, author and speaker since 2010, released her first book, Where's Heidi? One Sister's Journey, on the 19th anniversary of her only sister’s kidnapping, April 3, 2014. Lisa’s only sister remains missing, more than twenty years missing, yet Lisa and her family have not given up hope. Lisa uses the gifts God’s given her to share encouragement and hope with her audiences, whether you read her blog and books, or hear her speak at one of your events. Lisa spends her days as a teacher’s assistant in a Kindergarten class and her free time making memories with family and friends. Tragedy teaches an important life lesson, make the most of each day because tomorrow isn’t a guarantee. Lisa’s writing and speaking emphasize this and leave her audience smiling and looking for the rainbow, not the clouds.



It's my turn!

I have been asked to answer the following questions:

1.  What am I working on?

I have a couple of different books in the works that are totally different than my last three.

Throughout my life I've had the most humorous things happen to me and they always center around animals.  So I'm weaving these stories into a book that talks about the humorous side of ministry.  I already have a title in mind, "Bats in My Belfrey."  

Another book is a fictional book for young readers that will leave them with a character trait lesson at the end of each chapter.  It is inspired by five roosters we used to own.  

 
2.  How does my work differ from others of its genre?
 
I have written three books, "Words of Encouragement for a Discouraged World," "One Clear, Still Night" and "Poured Out".  All three of them are women's devotionals and can be found here on my website, as well as on Amazon.  I think they are different than others written because each of the devotionals are written from my own situation, perspective, and struggles.  The lessons learned come from my quiet times with the Lord and the things He was showing me in my own life.  I didn't just sit down and pick a passage of scripture and then write something about it.  As I read each day and lived my life, these devotionals were very meaningful things I learned myself that I chose to share with others.

I've also included journaling lines at the end of each day's devotional so that women can journal their own thoughts and ways that the Lord is speaking to them.


3.  Why do I write what I do?

From the time I came to know the Lord as a young teen I was taught that in order to grow you need to read God's word.  My greatest times of growing and learning and being stretched were when I spent time hearing from Him through His written word.  It's been my goal to pass the desire to soak up the words of the Lord to other women.  I also have found that through my writing many women were encouraged and that is also my other reason for writing the devotionals.  I want to encourage women.

I'm fairly transparent in my writing and I think that helps other women realize that they are not alone in the things they deal with.  Everyone struggles with issues but not everyone is willing to admit they struggle.  I'm not talking about airing all our dirty laundry, but when we constantly feel like we need to put on a fa├žade to the world, it helps no one.  When someone else can see that I have the same struggles they do, but can also see how God's word can help with that particular issue that is when they grow.

4.  How does my writing process work?

This question made me laugh because I don't think I have much of a process.  I have friends who take notes and layout where they want to go with their writing.  I just sit down and start typing.  Usually God speaks to me about something I've read and I mull it over in my brain over the course of days or weeks and then I decided to share it with either the women in my church or on the blog.  So I compose as I go.  Then I look over it and edit it a bit.  I may come back a few weeks later and reread it and think, "Oooh, I need to change this sentence or that word."  However, usually what you read here is the first draft.  Obviously, before any book is published I pour over each devotional and try to clean up the grammatical errors.  If I find a better way to word something I will do that.

Tag, You're IT!

Michele Bowman will be sharing on her blog next week about her writing.

Michele says, "I am a woman living by the grace of God.  Without Jesus, I can do nothing!  With Him I can do whatever He has planned for me.  I am not perfect.  I have bad hair days.  I eat too much ice cream while trying to eat healthy.  I do clean like crazy when company is coming.  I fall short every day.  But I am 'keeping it real' all the time.

Michele will be sharing on her blog, 4 Keeping it Real next Monday.  Be sure to hop on over there to read about her brand new book, When I Grow Up I Want to be a Daughter of the King, and her writing process.

Be sure to hop over to Lisa's blog and visit Michele's blog next Monday when she shares.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Multi-tasking


One of the things I wanted to do from the beginning with my new shop is set up an area for my sewing.  I felt that if I was going to be at the shop 4 days a week I didn't want to just sit with nothing to do while I waited for customers.  I also felt that it may generate business once people discovered I took custom sewing orders.


So I found an empty corner, set up and went to work.  And I've been loving it!  In the 3 days I've been open so far, I've been able to accomplish the following:

* Made two aprons for an order.


* Cut out 30 tea totes to start an order of 60.

* Hemmed curtains for a customer .

* Sewed 6 tissue holders.

* Sewed 20 tea totes


I'm loving the productivity and multi-tasking!    I received another order for an apron and will be starting on that as well as making some placemats.

It makes the days go by quickly and I'm getting a lot more sewing done than I did at home.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

3D Living

We live in such a hurry-scurry world and in our frantic pace it's so easy to lose sight of what's important.  We can live our lives in sound bytes and facebook updates and forget to step away from that and live our lives in the real world.
 

We feel the need to record every moment with a status update and blog about every experience.  We measure our success in friend requests, liked status updates, and blog followers.  We tweet every little thought that hits us and as much as I love social media, it can be exhausting.  It can also make you feel like you are on the outside looking in.

My house isn't as beautiful looking as Sue's.  My children aren't as talented as Mildred's.  My meals are plain compared to Gertrude's meals.  I can be left with an inadequate, incompetent, not-good-enough feeling and the feeling that my life is in competition with others.


We forget that we are looking at another person's life through a camera lens and very carefully chosen words.  I am not suggesting that people are lying.  But it's so easy to paint our lives with the very best brushes.  We can pick and choose what we want to share.  We can crop out the ugly and leave only the beautiful.


I'm learning to live in the moment.  To enjoy the here and now.  To focus in on what's happening right this very minute in my own home.  It doesn't matter what Lois from Tennessee is making for dinner.  What matters is what my husband and children need from me at this moment without sharing it with the world. 

Yes, I do like social media and for me it's a way to stay in touch with people.  It's very useful for building my business.  It's an outlet for my writing.  I've met wonderful people through this blog and Facebook.  But the problem comes when I constantly think, "Oooh, I need to post an update on this or write a blog about that."  When a day goes by and I can't go through it without checking social media, then I think I may have a problem.

Look up from your screen and look your husband and children in the eye and really listen to them.  Let them know by your attention that you are interested in them FOR them, not for a neat status update!  Invite a friend out for coffee, shut off the cell phone, don't take a selfie to post and just connect.

Let's do some 3D living today!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Amazing Grace

One of my favorite hymns is Amazing GraceIt was written by a slave trader, John Newton, who cried out to the Lord in a severe storm at sea and saw his life changed.  He decided to become a minister and penned these beautiful words of redemption.  Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound.  That saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost but now I'm found; was blind but now I see.

Grace - Generosity of spirit: a capacity to tolerate, accommodate, or forgive people

I stumbled upon this definition of grace recently and it struck a cord with me.  Mostly because I have seen so many Christians are ungracious in their speech and attitudes. They tear apart others with their mouths.  They criticize and critique and complain.  And yes, I've been so guilty of this at times too. 

And yet, my friends, this is unacceptable.  How in the world can we profess Christ and accept His wonderful grace in our own lives and yet, never extend that grace to others?  How can we say we love the Lord and at the same time rip apart another person's character with our mouths?  As believers we are to extend grace to others. 

James 3:9-12 (NIV) ~

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.  Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?  My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

God's grace is amazing and yet how amazing is it if we never show it to another?  I don't want to praise God on Sunday and then pick apart people the rest of the week.  And yet, I fail quite often.  But the wonderful thing about God's mercies is that they are new every day.  I may fail today, but God does forgive.  And that is what the wonderful, freeing concept of grace is all about!

Let's live up to our name of Christ-follower. How do we do that?  Extend grace to others.  Overlook mistakes.  Don't feel the need to point out every flaw that another has.  Show love.  Live out your salvation by showing that you are a changed person. 

Work on changing you and let God worry about everyone else!  Then we can truly say, "Amazing grace; how sweet the sound.  That saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost, but now am found.  Was blind but now I see."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Cranberry-Orange Scones


I made cranberry-orange scones for the farmer's market yesterday and I think they were the best I've ever made.  I thought I'd share the recipe here today.  I know a lot of people add glaze to the top of the scones but I never do.  Traditional scones are sweet but not loaded with sugar and glazes.  These are perfect with a cup of tea.

Ingredients
2 cups all purpose flour
7 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup cold butter
1 Tbsp. grated orange peel
1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup half and half
1 egg, beaten

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and soda together in a large bowl.  Cut in butter until it resembles course crumbs and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together orange peel, cranberries, orange juice, half & half an egg.  Add to flour mixture and stir until a soft dough forms.

Turn out onto a floured surface and gently knead 6-8 times.  Pat into an 8" circle and cut into 10 wedges.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.