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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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