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I have to hand it to the people at Nintendo. I never would have guessed I'd be buying a gaming system at my age, but just over a year ago we were able to borrow someone's Wii.  I faithfully used it to exercise with several times a week, so when it came time to give it back we decided to purchase one. 

I thought "The Biggest Loser Challenge" looked like it had potential, so my son bought the program for me as a Christmas gift last year.

Don't buy one.

I'd say it has more glitches than any program I've ever used, but since I've only used maybe three that statement probably doesn't carry much weight. (Weight...Biggest Looser...grin)



I have to say though, it did give me a very helpful fitness tip: The first thing you should do each morning is to drink a large glass of water.  The reason?  Your body gets dehydrated overnight and needs to have an infusion of water to function properly. 

It makes sense when you think about it, doesn't it?  It's simple enough that I found it easy to incorporate it into my daily routine. 

I think the same concept can be applied spiritually.  I just finished my chronological Bible this morning and read, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." ~ Revelation 22:17

Just as our bodies needed to be physically hydrated with H20, our souls need a DAILY infusion of Living Water to be spiritually hydrated.

Do you take a long drink every day?  A small sip?   Or are you parched?


Did you know the events depicted in the Bible are not in chronological order?  I was surpised at just how much it jumps around, but I have to say I really enjoyed reading the events in the order they occurred.  Then again, I am a chronological kind of gal.  I've read through "The Daily Bible" a few times now and I highly recommend it!

This particular version combines duplicate passages (as is found in Kings and Chronicles, for example) and lists the Scripture references in the side margin.  The Psalms, for the most part, are interjected into the events about which they were written.  For me, reading the four Gospels meshed together was the feature I appreciated the most. 


This year, I'm going to give a new chronological version a try (also a Christmas gift from my son - such a nice boy!) 


"Reading God's Story" doesn't have the date at the beginning of each day's reading like "The Daily Bible" does but is instead divided into 52 weeks, each broken down into seven daily segments.  Every day has a check box to mark as you complete it.   

This Bible is divided into three acts: 

Act 1: God's Plan for all People (Creation, the fall, and the flood)
Act 2: God's Covenant People (divided into 9 scenes)
Act 3: God's New Covenant People (the New Testament)

This year I hope to focus on the New Testament, and plan to read through Act 3 at least four times, hopefully five! 

What's your plan?  Unlike "The Biggest Looser," you have everything to gain and nothing to lose!

Lord, thank you for your Word!  Increase my capacity to absorb all you have to say to me!  I regret all of the years I foolishly neglected it and praise you for being the God of second chances.  I pray that you will work in the hearts of all who are reading this and give them an unstoppable desire to immerse themselves into Scripture daily.




Lisa
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My friend Cindy Bultema has put together a challenge to memorize 26 verses of Scripture in 2012.  That's only one verse every-other week!  I told her to count me in - the question is, who else is with me?

Before you start telling yourself why you couldn't possibly do this, let me share my experience with Scripture memorization.

I wish I could say I started memorizing Bible verses as a child (because I think the younger your brain, the easier it is) but I was close to thirty years old before I started even reading Scripture (and that was sporadic, at best). 

Back in 2004 I was blessed to attend a lecture series given by one of my all-time favorite Bible teachers, Ray VanderLaan.  Throughout his lecture he'd be rattling off Scripture from memory, and I loved to hear the Word spoken as opposed to read.

Then, the unthinkable happened.  In the middle of his lecture, mid-verse, he lost his train of thought.  He took a moment, but never did get back on track.  I was very new at teaching, and this was one of my greatest fears, but it didn't seem to faze him a bit.  He said something like, "Well, I guess that's gone" and continued with his teaching. 

His stumble actually gave me confidence, because I thought if he can act like forgetting part of a verse isn't a big deal while in front of this large crowd, then it shouldn't be a big deal if it happens to me in my little class. 

I was scheduled to teach a series of classes on John 15, and with this new confidence I decided to memorize that chapter.  It was a bit more of a challenge for me, however, because just a few years earlier I suffered a closed-head injury.  I had a hard time finishing my own sentences, let alone someone else's. 

It took me a year (remember, I was working with half my brain tied behind my back) but I eventually memorized the entire chapter.   

Then, in 2009, I knew I'd be teaching a 9-week series on the book of James.  In early June I felt called to memorize it, so I printed out the verses and had them with me everywhere - while scrubbing the floor, out for a walk, wherever!  Three months later, when the class was ready to start, I had memorized the whole book - five chapters!

If I'm introduced to you, I'll probably need to hear your name twenty times before I remember it, but by the grace of God (and much repetition) I can memorize Scripture.  (And if I can do it, what's your excuse?)

"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." ~ John 14:26
I think this is one of the most exciting verses in the Bible!  God has given the Holy Spirit all the work!  I just need to get the verses in my mind, and then He will remind me of what I need when I need it!  How cool is that?

So...who's with me?  I'd love to know who's taken up the challenge, so please leave a comment if you choose to join me!

You can find more info on the challenge by clicking on Cindy's button here:


She Sparkles Scripture Memory Challenge 2012
Blessings,

Lisa

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ORGANIZING




Tips for Tuesday


For many of you, the Christmas celebrations are over and now you have the daunting task of dealing with the aftermath.  If your household is anything like mine, everything has been carried in from the car to the kitchen where it is now congregating on the table. 


Rather than looking at this pile as a chore, try seeing it as an opportunity to bring some order to a few more areas in your house.  (I know it's a stretch, but work with me here!)

This is a great time of year to find good deals on containers and organizers, or perhaps you already have something around the house that can help you with this task. 

I have a room upstairs that was supposed to one day be a bathroom, but after almost thirty years I'm thinking that's not going to happen.  For now its been converted into a storage space full of shelves.



It's difficult to see in this photo, but I used a vertical sorter (the kind used on an office desktop) to hold all my shirt boxes that are reusable.  I have them in order of ascending size to make it easier to find what I need the next time I go to use one.  On the left I have gift wrapping supplies such as tape, scissors and ribbon in the top container and bows in the lower one.  I prefer the clear containers since it's easy to see what you have in there, but I'm all for using what I already have around the house rather than buying new, which is why my containers differ.


Here I used a step file to organize my gift bags, though I think the vertical sorter works better because you're not loosing height with each section.

As you put away new clothing, remember the moratorium on hangers we talked about last fall.  Retire one item you no longer wear to make room for each new item you have to find a place for.  (This method also works great for toys, and it's easier to get your kids to part with something old when they have something new in their hands.)  If you turned your hangers around, this task will be a cinch!  If you haven't done this yet, there's no time like the present!

Lisa
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We often get so caught up in our holiday traditions that we don't spend any time thinking about the real reason for our celebration.  I know you've probably heard this before but the real question is, have you ever acted on it?  Have you ever stepped back from the busyness and taken a moment to ponder the Christmas story?

Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  ~ Luke 1:4-5

Scripture tells us that Joseph (and Mary) were in David's lineage.  This was an important pronouncement because it had been foretold that the Messiah would be a descendant of King David.

In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it — one from the house of David — one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness. ~ Isaiah 16:5

Many years ago I realized that Jesus was not actually a blood relative of Joseph, and more recently it occurred to me that He probably wasn't biologically related to Mary either. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning. ~ John 1:1-2

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. ~ John 1:14

Jesus is the Word made flesh.  If He has always existed - and Scripture tells us He was present at the beginning - then He could not possibly be Mary's biological child. 

Am I the only one who never considered this before? 

It makes perfect sense to me that if the Holy Spirit has the power to cause Mary to become pregnant, He also has the power to place Jesus in her womb, the Jesus who has existed from the beginning.

Have you ever stopped to imagine what this must have been like for God the Father?  If Jesus was taken from heaven and placed in Mary's womb, wouldn't this be the first (and only) time in the history of the universe that the members of the Trinity were separated?

It puts John 3:16 into a whole new light.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

This is one of those verses that we as Christians can rattle off without even really thinking about it.  Is that a good thing?

God so loved the world that He was willing to be separated from One He had never been apart from in all eternity.  Many of us have suffered from separation and loss.  Did you ever stop to think that God knows exactly how you feel?

God so loved the world that He was willing to allow His Son to be born into poverty rather than riches, not only so we could relate to Him but so we understand that He can relate to us.


God so loved the world that He was willing to allow His Son to be persecuted and abused, to the point of death, to pay the penalty for our sins.   I have to be honest, if the fate of humanity depended on me sacrificing my son, the world would be in big trouble. 

We hear "the world" and it sounds so impersonal.  It's important to remember that God doesn't think of a bunch of nameless, faceless individuals when He speaks of "the world;"  He thinks of YOU, and me, and each one of us, whether we think of Him or not. 

Instead of "the world," insert your name:

For God so loved me that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Father God, I pray for each one reading this, myself included.  Help us to step back from the busyness that presses us from every side and stop to ponder the miracle that is the cause for celebration.  May this be a Christmas like no other - one with Christ at the center!


Lisa




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Instead of dog tags jingling, I wake to silence. 


There's no one to trip over every time I turn around;


No enthusiastic greeting when I come through the door.


Food falling on the kitchen floor no longer disappears in an instant.


There's no alert each time a squirrel dares enter my yard. 


No one tries to beat me up the stairs.


I walk to the mailbox, alone.


It's quiet . . . far too quiet.



On December 9th I said goodbye to my constant companion of almost thirteen years - my faithful sidekick, Daisy May (she came to live with us on May 1, 1998.)  A.K.A Daisy the Wonderdog.  Lazy Daisy.  Daisy Crockett - the dog with the wild front ears...


God is constantly teaching me, but all too frequently I'm too busy to notice.  I seem to hear Him most often and most clearly when I'm away from the house, whether it be at a conference, retreat, mission trip, or just out walking with Daisy.  I've learned many lessons through her over the years, perhaps because we spent so much time together.  That, and I don't listen to music when I walk, I listen for God.  Seldom does He disappoint! 


We went for what would be our final walk just a week before her parting.  Daisy loved going outside...and woe be it to anyone between her and the door!


While I was out there to exercise, Daisy appeared to be there to leave her mark on the world.  About every three feet of it, or so it seemed.  Just as she was marking her territory for the umpteenth time and I was beginning to lose patience, God pointed out to me that we all do the same thing.  We want to leave our mark on the world.  We think we're doing something grand, but God is as impressed with our marking as I am with Daisy's. 


Ouch!


You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." ~ 2 Corinthians 3:2-3


Any monument we build to ourselves is sure to topple into a heap of rubble.  The only mark any of us can hope to leave is what we write on the hearts of those whose lives we touch. 


The question is, what kind of mark will it be?  One that builds up, or one that tears down?  One that points others to Christ, or one that points anywhere else?


Lord, thank you for the many years I've spent with Daisy and the many lessons You've taught me through her.  May the only marks I leave be arrows that point directly to You!


Lisa

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This season marked a milestone for my husband Bob.  He had his first-ever "Black Friday" shopping experience!  And no, we did not camp out.  We did, however, get up early and get in line at 5:15 a.m., waiting for the store  to open at 6:00.

Actually, Bob got in line.  I don't do lines.  Instead, I went to the nearby grocery store and bought supplies for the next day's baking marathon.  This is possible only when you follow my shopping strategy - go where everyone else is not (i.e. stay away from the mall!)

What motivated Bob to go to the store that morning (and if you know Bob you know that it had to be some pretty strong motivation) was the hope of a new computer at half the going rate.  Our desktop was over ten years old which, I'm told, in the world of technology is considered ancient.

I returned from getting groceries to find a happy husband.  Bob had managed to get the last ticket for the computer he wanted - and there were only three in the store! (See what I mean about no one being there?)

While he was focused on a computer, I was focused on somthing else.  One word, actually - FREE!  If it's free, count me in!  If I can't use it, I'm sure I know someone who can.

The free items offered that day were actually very practical - mainly batteries and computer labels - but they came with a catch:  I had to pay for them at the store and then claim the rebate. 


You see, showing up at the store isn't enough.

Just giving them money isn't enough.

Simply believing the rebate exists isn't enough. 

If I don't personally go through the process of claiming the rebate, I won't receive the promised reward of my money back. 

We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:20-21

The same is true for salvation.  Yes, it is a free gift given to us by God, but those who don't go through the process of claiming it as their own won't receive the promised reward of an eternity with God in heaven. 

You see, merely showing up at church isn't enough.  (Ask yourself, "Am I standing on the promises or sitting on the premises?")

Just dropping your money in the collection plate isn't enough.

Simply believing God exists isn't enough.  The demons believe that and they will be spending eternity apart from God in hell.  James 2:19, Matthew 25:41

Yes, Scripture says, "If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" ~ Acts 10:9 but "believe" doesn't merely mean you agree that the statement is true. 

Believing requires action.

        Are you living like everything Scripture says is true? 
        Do you read the Bible on a regular basis so you know what Scripture says?

Believing requires trust.

        Do you trust in God's leading even when it doesn't make sense to you?
        Do you spend time seeking God's direction?

Jesus, thank you for paying the penalty for my sins so that I may spend eternity with you.  Lord reveal to me when I am just going through the motions so that I can live with a vibrant faith that points others to You!


Lisa



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ORGANIZING

Tips for Tuesday

When it comes to organizing, there are some things that I'd just rather avoid.  Like that large stack of boxes and containers looming under my basement steps...


YIKES!!!

If you're like me, the only time you come into contact with your Christmas decorations is when it's time to put them up or take them down.  Why not make things easier on yourself next year by paring down your holiday paraphernalia while you're into it anyway?


This is the perfect season to donate those unwanted Christmas items- while there are people out there looking for them.

Why not take a look into each box and take note of the things you're not putting out this year.  Ask yourself these questions:


Does it have sentimental value?

Is it a family heirloom?

Do I like it?

When was the last time I used it?

Does it still serve its original purpose?

Do I have any idea where it came from or why I have it?

Is it still in its original packaging?

I have some ornaments that my children made back in elementary school, and some that belonged to my husband's family when he was growing up.  For me, those are keepers.

I also have some decorations that I'm sure I got a good deal on at an after Christmas sale, but I've never used them.  Those need to go. 

Then there's the artificial Christmas trees.  Yes trees - plural.  We have two bay windows at the front of our house and at some point in time (probably when I didn't have anything better to do) I set up a tree in each.  Now I hardly have the time or inclination to put one up, but I'm not ready to get rid of one just yet either.  One tree is smaller - and therefore quicker to decorate - while the larger one has been in my family since I was in the 5th grade and is still a very nice tree.  I may need to think on this one for a while, and that's okay. 

It's also okay to take a pass on decorating.  It's not mandatory - it should be something you enjoy.  I didn't have a tree up for several years (my kids were grown, which made it easier) because of mission trips just before and just after Christmas. 

For you parents with an artificial tree, here's a great hiding place for your children's gifts!  Put them in the empty Christmas tree box or in the tubs that held your other decorations.  Kids never think to look in there because they saw that they were empty when you put the boxes away.

Happy decorating (or not!)

Lisa






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Most of the response I got from part one of this story, "GOD SHOWED UP AT P.F. CHANG'S" included disappointment in the fact that I did not describe the food! 

I was trying to be nice, but you asked for it...

                        

We began our dinner the way any meal should start at P.F. Chang's, with Lettuce Wraps -  a stir-fried mixture of chicken, mushrooms, green onions and water chestnuts over crispy rice sticks that you place in a crisp piece of lettuce, roll up and eat.  Yummy!

Since it was still happy hour and appetizers were half off, we also ordered the Crispy Green Beans.  These were battered, deep fried, and came with a spicy, tangy, dipping sauce.  They were good, but if I was only going to get one appetizer I'd definitely stick with the Lettuce Wraps.

My choice for an entree was the Sweet & Sour Chicken, stir fried with pineapple, peppers, onions and ginger.  It was delicious, with a serving size big enough to share and still have some left to take home.

Because we were sharing (like all good Christian girls do) I also sampled several other entrees, all of which I would order myself if given the chance.  (And if my husband is reading this my chances should be looking pretty good!)

Chang's Spicy Chicken was not too spicy, and personally I like it that way.  If you're looking for something hot, this isn't it, even if it does have the little hot symbol next to it. 

The Mu Shu Pork consisted of pork loin, egg, mushrooms, bean sprouts and onions.  I only tasted the filling, but it's served with Chinese pancakes that the waiter will wrap it in. 

Even the Almond & Cashew Chicken, which I've had at other restaurants and never cared for, won me over!

Well, now that I'm ready to leave this computer and head on over to Chang's, here's part two of our story:

After taking ample time to marvel and praise God for providing us with a table, our team got down to work reviewing feedback and other information from the "Imagine Me...Set Free" conference.

Our waitress - who we later learned was a Christian - inquired as to what the papers covering the table were, giving us the opportunity to tell her about the conference.  Our conversation with her continued periodically throughout the meal.

When it came time to start clearing our plates, our waitress asked if we could tell her one story from the event. 

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect," ~ 1 Peter 3:15 

Because we didn't want to betray any confidences, the story we told was that of Pat Layton, the speaker, who had openly shared about poor choices in her past, one of which was an abortion.  

When the waitress told us she had a friend she has been trying to minister to who has had several abortions, we knew that this was why we were there.  Two of the women at our table lead post-abortive recovery groups! 

So, not only did God provide a table for us when there was none, He also brought us at the right time and sat us in the right section so we would have the waitress we did!  We exchanged contact information and committed to pray for her and her friend.  Who knows what God will do through this divinely arranged encounter?

Lord, thank you for caring about even the smallest details in our lives.  The lengths you go to to give us the opportunity to minister to others never ceases to amaze me! Give us eyes to see where you are working and the courage to proceed in obedience when opportunities present themselves.

Lisa
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Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the blessings God has given us and express our gratitude for them.  Most of us are good about thinking of the things we have to be thankful for, and some of us even take the time to say a prayer of thanksgiving, but does God expect more? 

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. ~ Luke 12:48

If anyone has been given much, it is us. 

Do you think God is more pleased when we say, "Thank You" while grasping our blessings tightly, or when we follow His example and freely give what has been given to us?

My husband and I have been sponsoring needy children in various programs for as long as we have been married, and over the years we began supporting missionaries in addition to giving at our local church.  A couple years ago we had been notified that one child we sponsored had aged out of the program. Our finances had been a tight for quite some time, so our first thought was that God was releasing us from this obligation.  

Recognizing that our first thoughts can be just that, OUR thoughts, we decided we needed to pray and ask God if this was indeed what He intended.

In a very short period of time, two different members of our church announced they were being called into the mission field and would be leaving as soon as they could raise the necessary financial support.  God made it clear to us that we were to be among their supporters.

While we were thinking it would make sense for us to drop a committment at this time, God was saying, "No, don't drop it.  Double it!"

Really?

With all the uncertainty regarding my husband's job and all my pay coming in the form of jewels in my crown, lowering our financial obligation made sense to us.  Doubling it did not. Then again, God's math never does seem to make sense when looking at it from an earthly perspective.


It's been almost two years since we took the step of faith of supporting these two missionaries and raising our financial obligation rather than lowering it.  During those two years our income has remained the same while everything else has gone up in price, and yet somehow we have always had what we needed.  But then again, that is how God said it would work...

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.  Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." ~ Malachi 3:10

Father, thank you for always providing what we need, even when it doesn't come in the form we expect.  Open our eyes to the needs around us and allow us to experience your miraculous provision. Thank you for allowing us access to your vast storehouse so that we may give out of your abundance!


Lisa

Learn how you can provide food and education for a needy child in Kenya by clicking here.





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ORGANIZING

Tips for Tuesday

In my Closet Cues post a few weeks ago I suggested putting a moratorium on hangers to prevent your closet from filling with clothes you no longer wear.  I would like to suggest you use this "hanger principle" in other areas of the home as well. 

I think it's fair to say that most of us have too much stuff.  By examining the contents of your home and donating what you don't need to someone who can use it, you not only help others but help yourself as well.

How?

The fewer things you have, the easier it is to keep things organized. 

The less stuff you have, the less time you have to spend taking care of it and the more time you have for other things. 


Even though we're entering a busy time of year, we can still weed out our unused possessions in the course of our everyday activities.  For example:

  •  If you have children, you could have them select one or two things to give away each time they put away their toys. 

  • When you go to get out your holiday decorations or do your baking, take those items you no longer use out of the mix.

  • As you put away gifts, take out one old possession for each new one you've received.

Let's make this truly a season of giving!
Lisa

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Isn't it wonderful when God shows up?  I think the moments most extraordinary are those when you least expect Him.  Such was the case this past Tuesday.

I was one of five women on the team that brought Pat Layton's "Imagine Me...Set Free" weekend to town last month.  Now, it is no easy task to get five women's schedules to coordinate, but we never seemed to run into a problem while planning the conference.  Trying to get together afterwards, however, was a different story.

We finally agreed on a date to debrief six weeks after the conference.  Since we're spread out from Rockford to Wayland we decided to meet in the centrally located Knapps Corners area. 

P.F. Chang's was our meeting place of choice. To be honest, I don't really pay that much attention to what goes on at the other end of town so I had no idea that the eatery hadn't opened yet. 


Upon learning this fact we picked an alternate restaurant, only to discover that P.F. Chang's was in fact opening the day before our scheduled meeting. In our naivety we went back to plan "A", never stopping to think that perhaps everybody and their brother would be wanting to eat there too. 

I car-pooled with two of the other women, and we had almost reached our destination when we received a call from the first to arrive.  She put her name in for a table and learned the wait would be 1-1/2 hours.  We all agreed we didn't have that much time to spare and concluded we would return to plan "B". 

Not only being prompt but also courteous, our friend decided it would be rude to leave P.F. Chang's without informing the hostess.  We had no more than pulled into the parking lot of the alternate restaurant across the street when the phone rang again.  Because she had chosen to go back inside, our friend learned that a party of five had just cancelled their reservation and we could be seated immediately!

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights..." ~ James 1:17

This could be nothing other than a gift from God!  When we mentioned that we should've thought to make reservations, we were told they were booked until January!

Lord, you never cease to amaze me! As if it's not enough that you not only control the entire universe but care for each and every one of us as individuals, you also are concerned with the smallest details in our lives.  I am so thankful to be called yours!

Lisa

That in and of itself would be a terrific story, but God was just getting started.  Read part two here!
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ORGANIZING

Tips for Tuesday

We're going to depart a bit from our normal organizing tips so I can share with you an easy gift idea made with items you may already have in your house. 

I wish I could give you a legitimate reason why I have so much chocolate on hand, but unfortunately I can't.  It's not like I eat it all, evidently I just like having it around.  If there's a sale and a coupon, I just have to take it home with me!

A while back, I saw the idea for a candy bar birthday cake in an issue of "All You" magazine (great for coupons too) and thought this would be perfect for my nephew's birthday.  He's fifteen and skinny as a rail, so he can handle the calories.  That, and being the youngest of three boys, I'm sure he won't have it all to himself, even if it is his birthday.


I stock up on school supplies during the summer when they're at rock-bottom prices, so I was able to make this using items I already had on hand.  (And I still have chocolate left over.  I know, I know, that is so not good, but if you come for a visit, I'll share.)

So, here's how I did it:
  • 15-20 candy bars (the number depends on the widths)
  • Cut a circle, 6 inches in diameter, from foam core (or styrofoam)
  • Trim a piece of poster board into a strip 4 1/2 inches tall and 21 inches long.
  • Approximately one yard (36 inch) of 2-1/2 inch wide ribbon.
  • 3 or 4 sheets of tissue paper
  • Curling ribbon - I used blue and white
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Hot glue gun (or a high quality sticky glue)
1. Draw a horizontal line lengthwise down the middle of the poster board (4-1/4 inches from both the top and bottom edges.

2.  Place a drop of hot glue on the line at one end of the poster board and attach the foam core.  Continue placing glue on the line and rolling the foam core until the poster board is completely wrapped around the foam core.  There should be a bit of overlap.  This will give you a cylinder with the foam core in the middle stabilizing it. 

3. Attach the candy bars around the cylinder by putting a couple dabs of glue on the posterboard and letting it cool a few seconds before adhering the candy so you don't melt the wrapper.  Continue this process until the entire cylinder is covered.

4.  Crunch up the tissue paper and use it to fill the top of the cylinder.  Cover with gum, mints and snack size candy bars.

5.  Make ribbon curls and tuck in the empty spaces.  Tie the wide ribbon around the outside of the "cake." 

Happy crafting!

Lisa
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ORGANIZING

Tips for Tuesday

If you read my Closet Change-Up posting last week, hopefully you were able to at least get your hangers turned around.  This will make thinning out your clothes easier when spring rolls around.

It's easy to accumulate far more clothing than we need or wear, so I highly recommend putting a moratorium on adding any hangers to your closet.  That means if you want to add something new, you must first remove something already hanging there.  Because I hung my hangers backwards last spring, I was able to identify and remove a few items that hadn't been worn over the summer, allowing me to start the fall season with a couple empty hangers in my closet. 


As a replacement for the hangers you currently have (remember, no additions!)  I highly recommend these slimline hangers.  They have a flocked surface, which keeps even the silkiest garments from slipping.  The top bar can be used for accessories such as scarves or belts, and the hook can be used for necklaces.  You could also hang another hanger on the hook and allow several of them to cascade, using less room if you have limited space.


These slimline hangers take up less space than their plastic counterparts. I find this beneficial since I like to iron my clothes before hanging them, and having more space available decreases the likelihood of them requiring any touch-ups before wearing.         
I placed coated wire racks on my shelves to help stabilize the folded clothes I place there, making it easier to remove one item without the entire stack toppling over.                                      

Here's to a streamlined closet - emptier and more organized!

Blessings,
Lisa
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My grandson is a cheerful little guy, smiling and cooing almost all of the time.  He's also alert and very curious, always wanting to take everything in. The only instances where Adam seems to get cranky is when he's tired.  Then the battle begins, though it's more within himself than against anyone else.  His body is telling him he needs to rest, but his eyes are fighting to stay open so he doesn't miss a thing.  As a result, the struggle commences.

Do you ever experience these battles within? 

You know you need to be alone with the Lord, but there's just so much to do and so little time. 

These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. ~ John 5:39-40


Adam's mom very quickly discovered the remedy to his dilemma - put a pacifier in his mouth  (he prefers the U of M variety) and his puppy on his head!


Now, this is not any run-of-the-mill stuffed puppy. It has a normal puppy head (if you consider blue to be normal) but it's attached to a little blanket rather than a body.  My daughter recognized the key to settling Adam down is to cover up his eyes.  Once he can't see what he's missing, he quickly becomes still.


“Be still, and know that I am God"
~ Psalm 46:10


Do you have difficulty being still before the Lord?



Are you trying to handle things all by yourself?

"The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14



Are you too busy for a Sabbath rest?

“Be still, for this is a sacred day." ~ Nehemiah 8:11



Is God not moving fast enough to suit you?

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him. ~ Psalm 37:7



I'm sensing a theme here...


Our world is screaming, "HURRY UP!"
but God is whispering, "slow down."

Do you need to put a puppy on your head?

Maybe that means turning off the TV or walking away from the computer.
Maybe it means hanging up the phone or disconnecting the video games. 
Maybe it means giving up on perfection or learning to say, "No."
Maybe for you it means something else.

What do you need to walk away from so you can walk toward Jesus?

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." ~ Mathew 6:33

Father, forgive me for those days when I get so caught up in my own agenda that I don't even consider you.  Help me to make your priorities my priorities and let go of the things that distract me from you.

Lisa
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ORGANIZING

Tips for Tuesday

Like it or not, 'tis the season to pack away your summer clothes and face the fact that winter will soon be upon us.  And while we're at it, we might as well clean out the closet.  If you're ready to run the other direction upon hearing the words "closet cleaning," please hang in there.  I promise to have a helpful hint with the potential to make this chore a breeze!

But first, let me show you that I'm putting my money where my mouth is and actually  doing what I've been suggesting.  As I've said, the best way to get organized is to have less stuff, and the best way to get less stuff is to totally empty out the area you're working on. (Don't run yet, the hint is coming!)  So here's my closet, emptied out. 

If you don't have time to completely empty your closet, break it down into smaller segments -   hanging clothes, shelves, and floor. 

No time to empty out even a portion of your closet?  Make time to follow through on this one tip...


TURN YOUR HANGERS AROUND.


Hang your clothes from the back of the rod rather than the front, as shown in the photo below.

How does turning your hangers around help keep your closet organized?  It shows you what you've been wearing and what you haven't, making it easier to identify those things you're no longer using.

Once you have your hangers turned around, just resume hanging things as you normally do.  By the end of the season you'll easily be able to tell what you haven't worn because those hangers will still be backwards. 

You can use the same method on shelves or in drawers by placing the clean items at the bottom of the stack after laundering.  If you find yourself digging to find something to wear, it's time for the items on top to go!

Now lets go turn those hangers!

Lisa
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Have you ever had one of those moments when you were really glad there wasn't a hidden camera recording your movements?  I had one of them just this week!

I was visiting a friend's house for the first time, and since I had a long drive ahead of me I asked to use the rest room before I left.  I had no problem finding it, but as I walked in the door and reached for the light switch all I felt was wall.  I know sometimes the switches are just outside the room so I opened the door to look...  No light switches there either.

This was a half-bath in the interior of the house, which means it was windowless and dark. I saw the light fixture above the sink so I knew there had to be some way to turn it on, I just couldn't find it. 

What was known by my hostess was a mystery to me.

My eyes were adjusting to the dark, but just as I resolved to proceed without light I turned around and there was the switch!

Scripture portrays darkness as being anywhere  God's presence is absent, and describes those who don't know Him as walking in darkness.  Their spiritual eyes have adjusted to the darkness of life without God because that's all they've ever known. 

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. ~ Romans 1:20

Scripture tells us that creation itself gives off evidence of God, but what if the evidence is seen but not understood?  As believers it is imperative we remember that many of those around us are walking in darkness, because we are the ones who are called to point out the way to connect to the Light.  The prophecy of Zechariah for his son John is a call to all believers:

"you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” ~ Luke 1:76-79

Father, help me to be sensitive to those around me that are walking in darkness. Give me opportunities to introduce them to your Son, so they may know your tender mercy and experience the forgiveness you have so graciously shown to me.


Lisa
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ORGANIZING

Tips for Tuesday

Because we so rarely clean out anything that can be hidden (c'mon, you know you do this!), items tend to accumulate in closets, cupboards and drawers. One of the key elements to getting - and staying - organized is to have less stuff.  That's the bottom line.  The less we have, the easier it is to keep it under control.   

I mentioned in a previous post the need to tailor our project to what our schedule allows.  Most of us don't have the time to tackle and entire room, but we can find a few minutes to start on one drawer or a shelf. 

Regardless of where we choose to begin, the key is to do the job thoroughly.  That means taking EVERYTHING out of that drawer or off that shelf and starting from scratch.  If we don't take it all out, we end up merely shuffling things around.  By removing everything we can assess each item and determine if it stays, goes, or should be somewhere else. 

Here are the criteria I use for determining whether or not an article is allowed to remain or must find a new home:

1. Do I need it?

2. Do I use it?

3. Do I love it?

If it doesn't fall into one of these categories, it's time to say goodbye!

Lisa


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I knew it was coming.  Common sense said, "Keep your distance," but I went ahead and did it anyway. Now I'm paying for it, but it was totally worth the cost.

I care for my 4-month-old grandson a couple days a week, and he was very obviously coming down with a cold.  Normally I try to stay away from anyone who may be contagious, but I just couldn't help myself.  How could I not kiss this precious little face?

Now we both have a cold.

Love comes at a cost - sometimes for the recipient, but most often for the giver.

A cold is a small price to pay to be with someone you love.



Jesus paid the ultimate price so that we could be with Him for eternity.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. ~ John 15:13


Jesus laid down His life for us before we could be counted as His friends.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8




Salvation through Jesus Christ is free to us, but it cost Him his life.  I wonder if we sometimes take salvation for granted because we weren't the ones to pay the price...

Except that we, too, are required to pay a price.  We like to call Jesus our Savior and then go on living life as we please, but Jesus came to be our Lord and Savior.  We like the idea of having a Savior, but how many actually accept Jesus as Lord of their life? 

Lord - Supreme in authority, controller, master.

The word "Savior" is found 56 times in Scripture; "Lord" 6472 times.  That's staggering!  Do you think God is trying to tell us something here?

Calling anyone "Lord" flies in the face of everything our society teaches us about being in control of our own destiny.  Calling Jesus, "Lord" costs us.  If Jesus is Lord of my life, that means that I am not.  We must relinquish control of our lives and hand it over to Him.

You are my friends if you do what I command. ~ John 15:14

Can you be considered a friend of Jesus?

Jesus, thank you for the sacrifice you made for me.  Forgive me for all the times I've tried to take control of my life rather than submit to you.  Help me to truly accept you as Lord of my life!


Lisa

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