Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 18 comments

O.K., not that Bob, my husband Bob.  We just celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary last week, and prompted by a post from A Proverbs 31 Wife, I thought I'd share some of the things I love about Bob.
#1.  He's a great provider, even willing to work overtime when it becomes available. 
#2.  Bob is (almost) always in a good mood despite working crazy hours.  I know if I kept the hours he did, I wouldn't be fit to live with.
#3.  After working all night on his "day off", rather than going to bed, Bob picked up a sofa for his sister and brought it up to Lowell to be used on the set of a play she's going to be in. Not only was he sleep deprived but his truck had been in storage, which meant reinstating the insurance and putting the license plate back on.  (He was going to have to do this anyway, but still...)
#4.  Always willing to lend a helping hand, after just a few hours sleep Bob went to pick up and deliver a dresser our daughter had purchased while we were out that morning shopping at garage sales.
#5.  A handyman at heart, he can build or fix just about anything.  The dresser had a drawer in need of repair, so he brought the drawer home to mend it. 
#6.  I joke that if Bob was any more laid back, he'd be in a coma!  But his flexibility really is a blessing.  Our anniversary was actually on Tuesday, but I was so worn out from watching the grand babies (now 15 months and 2 months old!) I had to ask for a rain check. 
#7.  Ray Vander Laan is one of my favorite Bible teachers, but his lectures have been few and far between.  I heard on the radio that he would be teaching this past Saturday and Bob willingly agreed this could be our date night.  We were not disappointed!
#8.  Bob is not critical.  If I never cleaned the house again, I doubt he'd say anything.  It would drive me insane, but it wouldn't bother him in the least.  Good thing, because now that I'm watching babies four days a week, I'm not getting anything else done. 
#9.  More than once (ok, probably a lot more than once) I'll say, "I'll be there in a minute, I just need to finish this fill in the blank".  It's never just a minute, but he's always patient with me. 
#10  Bob is an amazing grandpa.  He stops by to pick up the boys after work, then stays up to help me feed them breakfast. 

#11.  (I just can't stop at 10!)  Bob has a sense of adventure and continues to move me out of my comfort zone and bring me along for the ride!  He's the reason I ended up jumping off a cliff in Maui (and yes, I'd love to return to Maui; no, I never want to jump off anything ever again!) and how we managed to have a school in Kenya.  (Yes, those are elephants in the background!)
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 10 comments

Last weekend I went with a group of women people to attend the True Woman conference in Indianapolis, which is a 4+hour drive from our homes in West Michigan.  Following the directions given by the GPS voice we first located the convention center, then proceeded to our hotel less than a mile away.  Our plan was to park at the hotel for the weekend and walk back and forth to the conference. 

Photo courtesy of uinsteadofme and Photobucket
Unfortunately, the GPS didn't know about the one-way streets that were all going the wrong way, or the entrance to a parking ramp disguised as a street!  Not only did we not have a clue as to where we were - except that we had to be close - the GPS actually showed the vehicle spinning around.  So much for any assistance from the GPS!
Crunched for time, our driver decided to go back to the convention center and park in a ramp.  Pulling in, she our driver slammed on the brakes, remembering in the nick of time that our luggage was riding above in a car carrier and would not fit under the low deck.  Whew! (Personally, I was quite impressed.  I had totally forgotten we had anything up there.)
With no other parking to be had, we had no choice but to go back to the hotel.  Looking on the bright side, everything looked more familiar the second time around...  We soon learned we were less than two-tenths of a mile away from the hotel when we had given up the first time. 

We were so close, but quit just short of our destination.  

The building was actually in sight, we just didn't recognize it because the sign was blocked from view. 

We wasted time scurrying around when, if we would have just continued on, we would have quickly reached our goal. 

I wonder, how often we do this in our prayer life?

Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. ~ Luke 18:1

We quit praying because we feel we're not making any difference, when in reality nothing could be further from the truth.  For most of us, we give up far too easily. Could it be that God is answering and we just don't recognize it?

How often do we grow impatient and choose to take matters in our own hands rather than wait on the Lord?  We end up on a circuitous route that takes us far longer than if we had just stayed the course.   

God has the power to answer our prayers immediately, but in my experience this is far from the norm. While we are obsessed with time, God is not bound by it. Looking back, I think delays are actually to my benefit.  Quite often God uses the waiting time to make me into the person able to handle the answer. 

What are your experiences with prayer?  Are you perseverant, or impatient?  Do you take matters into your own hands?  Feel free to leave a comment.  I'd love to hear from you! 

Lord, Your answers to my prayers are often very different than I've envisioned them, and Your timing is rarely mine.  I wonder how often, in my impatience, I've rushed right by an answer to prayer, not recognizing what it truly was.  Help me to wait on you, and give me eyes to see the truth that you've placed before me. 




Linking up with "Write on Edge", "Spiritual Sunday", "Weekend Whatever", "On, In, and Around Mondays"
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 1 comments


Tips for Tuesday

How do you feel about FREE stuff?  How about FREE stuff you can choose for yourself?  If you like FREE, you'll love Swag Bucks!  Maybe you've never heard of it, or maybe you've seen it on Facebook or received an email invitation but have not idea of what it is. 

Search & Win

Let me clarify things for you.  "Swag Bucks" are digital dollars you earn in various ways and then redeem for items or gift cards.  If you EVER go online, you need to sign up for Swag Bucks
You can install the Swag Bucks toolbar and earn one Swag Buck each day you go online.  How simple is that?  The toolbar is used to do internet searches; it's like Google except that Google never gave me anything.  (If you'd rather not install the tool bar, you can sign up and then go to the Swag Bucks site and do your searches from there.)  Swag Bucks randomly awards "bucks" as you search the internet.  Those "bucks," in turn, can be redeemed for prizes or gift cards. 

There are hundreds of gift cards to choose from, but my favorite is the $5 Amazon card since with that I can buy just about anything.  The Amazon card "costs" 450 Swag Bucks, which sounds like a lot, but they add up pretty quickly.  I'm not online a whole lot, but I've already received over $50 in Amazon gift cards and have purchased a bounce center for my grandsons

 and some books, including

Once you sign up, there are other ways to earn as well.  I don't do surveys or play games, but I do use coupons.  Every coupon I print through Swag Bucks and USE eventually nets me 10 Swag Bucks. 

Through their "Daily Deals" tab, you can purchase great deals through Groupon or Eversave and earn Swag Bucks as well. 

If you decided to sign up, you can click here or sign up under a friend.  By signing up under someone you're helping them earn Swag Bucks.  For every Buck you win searching the internet, they win the same number of Bucks, up to 1,000.  The same is true for you.  Once you sign up, you can invite your friends and when they win, you win!


Linking up with: "Soli Deo Gloria", "Teach Me Tuesday", "Titus Tuesday", "Call Me Blessed", "Creative at Home Wednesday", "Say G'day", "Weekend Whatever"
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 18 comments

Do you ever find your mind caught in a rut? All you can think about is

- those bills that need paying...
- all the things you should do...
- that relationship that's not going the way you'd like it to...
- what you're going to do about that nagging situation...

Now, we all need to address things at one time or another.  What I'm talking about is your mind being fixated when there's really nothing you can do. 

If you've read my blog before you may have already heard me say this, but it bears repeating:

What I focus on gets bigger!

It's true, isn't it?

So how do we change our focus to something healthy rather than obsessing?
Photo courtesy of stock.xchng and k_r_anoop
The answer is found in our "S" Scripture verse!

Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. ~ Colossians 3:2

When we focus on God, He gets bigger and the things of this world get smaller!  And one of the best ways I've found to focus on God is to memorize Scripture. 

I've memorized Scripture before, but I have a hard time going over the verses I've already learned without my list handy because I can't recall which ones I've already comitted to memory.  One of the benifits to memorizing a verse beginning with each letter of the alphabet is having a prompt for the next verse.  If I have a hard time sleeping, I start thinking of our "A" verse and work my way through the list.  Sometimes I even start at the current verse and work my way back to "A".
If you're participating in the challenge, I'd love to hear from you!  Please leave a comment with what letter you're on and anything else you'd like to share.  Haven't started yet?  It's never too late to join in the "She Sparkles" A-Z Scripture Memory Challenge.  Why not start today?

The A to Z Verses we’ve learned so far
  • A - As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15b
  • B – Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. Acts 16:31
  • C – Create in me a pure heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
  • DDevote yourself to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2
  • EEvery good and perfect gift is from above James 1:17
  • F – For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
  • G – God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
  • H – How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth. Psalm 47:2
  • I – It is for freedom that Christ has set us free! Galatians 5:1
  • J – Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6
  • K – Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Psalm 34:13
  • L - Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30
  • M – May Your unfailing love be my comfort. Psalm 119:76
  • NNothing is too hard for God. Jeremiah 32:17b
  • O – O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Psalm 8:1
  • PPut on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Eph. 6:11
  • Q - In quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15b
  • R - Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.  Exodus 20:8
Linking up with "Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday", Spiritual Sunday, "Inspire Me Monday", "Say G'day Saturday", "Sharing His Beauty", "On, In, and Around Mondays", "Let Me Tell You a Story", "Multitudes on Mondays", "Titus 2sdays", "Call Me Blessed"
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 1 comments


Tips for Tuesday

"She looks organized."
"I wonder what's in there?"
I've heard these comments while at a conference last year.  Since I'm getting ready to go to the True Woman conference in Indianapolis this weekend,  I thought I'd share my preparations with you. 
I like to have what I need and I like to be able to find it, but I don't like having to carry any more than necessary, so this is what I came up with.  Rather than carrying my purse and still having to juggle other things, I opted to use my basket from Kenya.  If you have a large tote bag, that will do the trick as well.  My hip and back aren't happy when I sit too long, so I have a small travel pillow I bring along with me. 
But the first thing to go in my basket was this "Pouchee" - one of the best purchases I've ever made.  (I've seen patterns to make your own, too.) I put my cell phone in one of the large pockets on this side...

 while the other side has slots for business cards, ID, etc.

Inside I put items I like to have on hand just in case - ink pens, tissue, lip balm, gum, hand sanitizer, toothbrush & paste, etc.  There are a few dividers inside the Pouchee that help keep everything organized. (When I'm not using it for a conference, I keep it in my car.)

My glass case even fits in there!  This case works great for me because I can keep my glasses on one side and my contacts and other supplies on the other.  I believe this case is made by Avon.  I know I found it a couple years ago on ebay.

I used to take notes while at a conference only to misplace them when I got home.  Sound familiar?  Now I have what I call my "Conference Notebook".  This one has a sturdy cardboard cover and is almost an inch thick.  I've been using it several years already, so now when I want to go back and look at something I know exactly where to find it!

I begin by writing the name and the date of the conference at the top of the page and then abbreviate it on subsequent pages noting the speaker and other pertinent details.  Here you can see I've written my first and second choices for the breakout sessions so I don't waste time trying to make a decision once I'm there. 

A friend who was coming to the conference with me can no longer attend and would like to sell her ticket.  If you are interested in coming, please send a message through the "contact me" tab above.


Linking up with "Teach me Tuesday", "Domestically Divine Tuesdays", "What I Learned this Week", "Works for Me Wednesday"
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 9 comments

Following this writing prompt from "Mama's Losin' It": Share a day in your life represented only in pictures and the time the pictures were taken.  There's a reason I'm a blogger and not a photographer, but here goes!

7:30 A.M.

7:55 A.M.

8:43 A.M.

9:45 A.M.

10:07 A.M.

10:56 A.M.

11:10 A.M.

11:15 A.M.

11:40 A.M.

11:48 A.M.

11:55 A.M.

11:58 A.M.

12:00 P.M.

12:10 P.M.

12:14 P.M.

12:24 P.M.

12:27 P.M.

12:32 P.M.

2:30 P.M.

3:51 P.M.

4:07 P.M.
4:23 P.M.

Whew!  Grandma is exhausted!


Linking up with "5 Minutes for Mom", "Create with Joy", "A Renaissance Woman", "Parenting by Dummies", "Live, Laugh, Rowe", "Weekend Whatever"
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 5 comments


Tips for Tuesday
I think my favorite season may be the one coming up next, unless the next season up is winter.  If winter could start December 15 and end December 31, I'd be good with that!  It's been a hot, dry summer here in Michigan, so I'm looking forward to fall and a break in the heat.
I've also been looking forward to squash, specifically spaghetti squash.  Since going gluten-free last December, I've been missing pasta (among other things) but then I discovered spaghetti squash.  The first time I made spaghetti using spaghetti squash I "neglected" to mention to my husband that he was eating a vegetable rather than pasta, and he didn't even notice!  That's quite a testimony coming from someone who's not a fan of vegetables!
The squash I found at the store were on the small side, so I purchased two totalling 3.75 pounds.  One, just under two pounds, was actually enough for both of us but we like leftovers so I made them both at once. 

The squash I bought came complete with a sticker containing baking instructions:
1. Cut squash in half.
2. Remove seeds.
3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.
4. Remove strands with a fork.
Since I'm watching my grandsons, ages 2 months and 15 months, I don't always have a lot of time for prep (or anything else for that matter) so I opted to cook the squash in the microwave.  There are several different methods I found online, but the one I like best does not require you to remove the seeds before cooking.
Microwave Squash (I cook Butternut Squash the same way)
1. Wash the squash.

2. Puncture with a knife.  (You want the punctures to be deep so the steam will escape and the squash doesn't explode!)  You need at least 5 punctures, but I put a puncture about every inch-and-a-half; the more punctures, the less cooking time.

3. Place on a couple paper towels (to catch the drips) and microwave on high for 6 minutes.  Flip (and turn if your microwave doesn't have a carousel) and cook for another 6 minutes.  (Time may vary depending on the size of the squash.)

4. Remove from microwave and cool 3 to 4 minutes or until the squash is cool enough to handle.

5. Cut squash in half and remove seeds with a large spoon.

6. Using a fork, pull the flesh into strings (it will naturally break apart this way.)

Now that you have your spaghetti, top however you would pasta, and viola!



Linking up with "Better Mom Mondays", "Teach Me Tuesday", "Live, Laugh, Rowe", "Weekend Whatever", "Funky Junk Interiors", "Mrs Happy Homemaker"
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 6 comments

The list of things an infant is proficient at may be quite small, but one thing definitely on the list would be holding on.  Have you ever noticed how even a newborn will grasp your finger if placed in his hand? 
At this age, holding on is a reflex; it's the letting go that needs to be learned. 
So, how are you doing with that?
It seems that learning to let go is a lifelong process.  Regardless of the stage of life we're in, we're in the position of letting go of someone or something, whether it be letting go of that toy that seems soooo much better than the one we have (or car, or house, or job, or...) or letting go of our children as they go off to pre-school (or get their driver's license, or go to college, or move out, or marry, or...).  The list goes on and on.
I don't know about you, but I'm not a big fan of change.  I like routine, and order.  I like to know what to expect. The hard (at least for me) truth is, change is a part of life and we often have little control over our circumstances. So how do we navigate through the times of transition?

1. Recognize that change is an inevitable fact of life.

Why is it I'm surprised when something comes to an end?  Life is fluid - children grow up, people move, jobs change, relationships end.  Change can be healthy and is definitely not unusual. 

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

2. Believe that "different" may in fact be "better"!

What we focus on gets bigger. Those words have made a tremendous difference in my life.  If I look for things I don't like, I will succeed in finding them.   But regardless of the circumstances, if I look for the positive that is what I will find.


3. Choose to embrace the season of life you're in.

When I spend my time and energy trying to cling to what is past, I'm actually fighting what God is doing in my life. God gives his children good gifts and works everything out for our good, even if appearances say otherwise. It's important to trust God and remember that He always has our best interests in mind.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

Lord, give me eyes to see You in every circumstance.  Help me to focus my attention and energy on what You are doing right now rather than groping for the past or rushing for the future.


Linking up with: "Womanhood with Purpose", "Spiritual Sunday", "Tell Me a Story", "Soli Deo Gloria"
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 3 comments

I have to admit; when it comes to resting I'm pretty lousy at it.  It seems as though there's much more to do than I have the time and energy for, causing me to feel perpetually behind.  I know that my value is not in what I do, yet because the opposite message was ingrained in me from a very early age I continue to struggle to get that truth from my head into my heart. 
Just two weeks ago I had surgery, and since it was outpatient I cleared my schedule for a week to give myself time to recover.  So far, so good.  But then I found myself getting frustrated because I was getting absolutely nothing done.  I felt surrounded by so many things screaming for my attention  and there I was, sleeping about 20 hours a day.  Hello!  I was recovering from surgery! 

A week after my surgery I was able to drive - but still not much else - so I decided to join a group of friends who had rented a cottage for the week.  Though only for the weekend, it was a tremendous help for me to get away from those things I felt I "should" be doing!

I relaxed in a lounge chair in the sun for the FIRST time of the summer - it was the end of August! - read a novel for the first time in I don't know how long,

and enjoyed the view from the hammock as a cool breeze made the hot day bearable.
My getaway is a perfect fit with the next verse in She Sparkles A to Z Scripture  Memory Challenge. (You can find the verses we've learned so far at the end of the post here.)

R - Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  ~ Exodus 20:8

God gave us the Sabbath as a day of rest; a day to spend with Him, worshipping Him and remembering all He has done for us.  God set the example by resting on the seventh day of creation.  He didn't need rest, but He set the example because He knew we need it. 

The word that really jumped out to me from this verse was "by."  We remember by doing.  I used to be under the impression that rest came after work.  Once all your work is completed, then you rest. That sounds right, doesn't it?  But as a wife, mom and grandma I find my work is never done.

I went to a Bible study, Living Balanced in an Unbalanced World, this summer, taught by my friend Cindy Bultema, and she said something that has been transformational for me.  "Rest is not the reward for finishing everything, but the break you take in the middle of your work."  Resting doesn't mean you're done; it means you're not done.  That's why you need rest!

Even though we had to be out of the cottage by 11:00 a.m., we had a refreshing time of remembering the Sabbath.  First we prepared our hearts for worship by listening to the soothing tones of the dulcimer...

then I was able to share a lesson, prepared this summer before my trip to Kenya, with our outdoor "congregation."

Father, I thank you for this time of rest and recovery.  Help me to be faithful in keeping the Sabbath and find this peaceful rest regardless of my surroundings.


Linking up with "Thought Provoking Thursdays", "Grace Cafe", "Weekend Whatever", "Womanhood with Purpose"
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