Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 4 comments

It was quite the day.

Yes, one of THOSE days...

My morning started off well enough, then like an avalanche life started crashing around me. 

  • The friend helping me with my computer had to leave, and by the way, my calendar was erased.

My calendar was erased?  Seriously?  That's a bigger deal to me than the issues I needed help with in the first place!  Let me say, this is no small matter to someone as technologically challenged as myself, though at this point I was more frustrated at the inconvenience than I was worried.  At least I still had my calendar on my i-pod for back-up. 

  • I went to sync my i-pod with my computer, and instead of my data being imported to my computer, my computer erased the calendar on my i-pod.  

Okay, now I'm worried!

  • Upon further investigation, my contacts were also erased in both places, as were my notes.  Great...

I must interject here that it was now 5:00 p.m. and I had guests coming at 6:30.  Did I mention I'm also watching my 9-month-old grandson today?

  • Normally Adam's being picked up about now, but it had slipped my mind that I had agreed to keep him until 8 p.m. tonight. 
  • My husband Bob then reminded me he had leave for church at 6:00 p.m.

Okay, I can do this!  While my instinct is to be obsessed with my now missing data, I had to focus on getting Adam fed - as well as Bob and I -plus take care of some last minute preparations before juggling my grandson and guests. 

Feeding my Adam took longer than expected.  We made it through the jar of vegetables but halfway through the jar of fruit I gave up because he was just not interested.  Since he was a little fussy I laid him down in the crib I keep in my study.  Bob grilled the meat that I had prepared earlier, so I just needed to make a few copies and then we could quickly eat.

  • I walked into the room as Adam began projectile vomiting.

He's not old enough to know to turn his head, so I stood him up.  Peas were the vegetable of the day, and they flowed from his mouth like a torrent from a fire hose.  I was amazed that much fluid could fit in such a small body.  Poor baby!

At 5:45 p.m. - upon viewing me holding Adam, who was covered with and standing in a pool of green peas - my wonderful husband decided to stay home rather than go to choir practice.

Good call!
  • I now had a baby to wash,
  • and a load of laundry to do,
  • and dinner to eat,
  • and guests coming in 45 minutes.
And I was still in one piece.  Amazing. 

Absolutely amazing!

Habakkuk 3:17-18 came to mind:
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

Though it sounded more like this:

Though my calendar was erased
and all my contacts have disappeared,
though my notes are gone
and the baby is sick,
though peas are everywhere
and the deadline is closing in,
YET I WILL PRAISE THE LORD!
I WILL BE JOYFUL IN GOD MY SAVIOR!

And in the midst of this I marveled,  "This is Lisa, not freaking out!"



I wish I could tell you the day got better.  It didn't.



But I'm better. 


Many times it feels like I'm not making any progress in this walk of faith, but days like this show me that those thoughts are wrong.   I am being transformed, little by little, into His likeness.  Finally, I'm gaining more of an eternal perspective

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. " ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

Father, I thank you for patience, not only the patience you're developing in me but also the infinite patience you show me.  May I continue to keep my focus on you rather than on the way I think things should be!


Lisa
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 11 comments


Today I'm linking up with Chrysalis for Marriage Monday.  This week's topic is romance. 

What comes to mind when you think of romance?  For me the word brings a picture of a tall, dark, handsome man seated on a white horse with wind-blown hair, ready to come to my aid.  (Sounds like the cover of a romance novel, doesn't it?)


Thoughtfulness

Closing in on twenty years of marriage, my definition of romance has evolved greatly from the expectations I had as a newlywed.  I'm certainly not opposed to candy and flowers, but superficial gifts such as these don't move me like acts of thoughtfulness do.

  • Opening the door for me
  • Carrying my burdens (physically and emotionally)
  • Stepping in when I'm worn out
  • Making me a priority (such as cancelling his plans when I need his help)
  • Coming to my defense

I think to be romanced is to feel loved.  More and more, I find myself spelling "love" H-E-L-P. 


Mutual Respect

We make time to spend time together, even if it's just a run to the Home Depot!  Bob's been to the fabric store with me; I've gone to the (world's longest!) tractor show with him.  Just recently we tacked a trip to Frederik Meijer Gardens on to Bob's dentist appointment that was up in that area.




Bob is tall, his hair used to be dark, and in my eyes he will always be handsome.  I even saw him seated on a horse once, though it wasn't white.  While I feel loved and cherished by Bob, I can't expect him to be my everything.  That's the job of my One True Love, who one day will come riding a white horse.

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself." ~ Revelation 19:11-12

Jesus, thank you for a husband who shows me he loves me on a regular basis.  Help me focus on who he is rather than who he is not, remembering that ultimately You are the one I need to rely on.

Lisa

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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 1 comments



ORGANIZING

Tips for Tuesday

Today our focus is on the bathroom.  As with cleaning any room, the first step is always to empty everything. Take it one drawer or shelf at a time so you don't take apart more than you can tackle. Once a particular area is emptied, clean the surfaces and allow them to dry while you sort out the contents. 

Place the items into one of three categories: "stay", "go", and "I don't know."

Medications
Check expiration dates! Its probably been longer than you think since you've really gone through things.

For information on the proper disposal of medications, you can check the FDA website here.

Makeup
Discard anything that is caking, cracking, separating, drying out or older than your children!

I found these guidelines for when to replace your makeup at bellasugar.com:

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Toss it...
Mascara
Every three months (or after an eye infection)
Foundation
One year
Concealer
12 – 18 months
Powder
18 months
Blush/Bronzer
18 months
Cream blush
12 – 18 months
Eye shadow
18 months
Eyeliner
18 months
Liquid eyeliner
6 months
Lipstick / lip gloss
18 months
Lip liner
One year
Nail polish
One year
Makeup sponges
Wash after each use, then throw away after a month.
 
To help your makeup last longer, wash your face before applying. This helps keep the oils from your skin off the product.


Replace

Once whatever is outdated or unused is pulled out of the mix, the next step is to find a place for the items you use or need the most. 

I like to use boxes and tops (jewelry boxes are a nice size for bathroom drawers) to keep things from getting all jumbled up.  Not only is this neater, but items are easier to find which makes it more efficient.



Try to think outside the box and repurpose containers.  I've since discovered that the little plastic boxes some baby food comes in are just the right size for bobby pins.

The box I keep my earrings in was originally designed for DMC floss, so they can be found in most craft stores.  It's fairly airtight, so I don't have a problem with tarnishing on the few silver pieces I have.

Remainder

You've discarded unused and expired items and replaced those things you use on a regular basis.  Still have items left?  Place these in what I like to call the "holding area."

The "holding area" is a container that houses the items you're not sure if you'll use or not.  Mark the container with todays date and place it somewhere inconspicuous within the room.  If you find you need an item, it's right there.  Whatever is left in there after a month or two is probably not something you use and you can dispose of it accordingly.

There!  Doesn't that feel better?


Lisa
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 3 comments


Welcome to my second installment from the "Butterflies are Blooming" exhibit at the Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan!


Unlike our first visit at the end of the season several years ago, this time there were butterflies (plural) and they were indeed "blooming."


That being the case, you may be wondering why I took so many photos of a dull brown butterfly when there were so many bright, bold, vivid ones flitting around...



This photo gives just a hint...can you see it?



Far too often we make judgments based on first impressions. 


We decide to read a book based on a glance at the cover.

We choose to purchase a product based on a thirty second commercial.

We place our order based on a picture in the menu.

We buy clothing based on what we saw in the window display.

We decide which people we're going to give the time of day to based on how they appear, or what we've heard about them.


YIKES!


How often do we do that - draw conclusions about someone based on some very brief and circumstantial evidence?

Or gravitate toward the well put-together, the extrovert, the flamboyant...

"The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” ~ 1 Samuel 16:7

We're going to miss out on some great people if we make snap judgments.

I just finished taking a nutrition class, and since there were only a dozen of us I had a chance to get to know each of my classmates to various degrees.  "Amy" is very gregarious and spoke with me at length while her friend "Betty" stood silently at her side. I became convicted that I wasn't making more of an effort to include "Betty" in the conversation and set out to change that. 

"Encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone." ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:14

I've been on the lookout for people that may have trouble connecting.  Lately I've made it a point at church to introduce myself if I see a woman sitting near me that I haven't met before.  I'm an introvert myself, but what better place to take a step of faith than in church!  
  

I could have passed over that bland brown butterfly for one flashier, but I would've missed out on the biggest, bluest butterfly I've ever seen!  It was absolutely gorgeous and literally as big as my hand. 


I want to challenge you to speak to someone new this weekend.  You may just find something beautiful when they open up!



Here's a close-up of the butterfly with its wings spread open.

 



Lord, I thank you for allowing me to capture a fleeting glimpse of this magnificent butterfly in flight, and thank you for the beautiful women you've allowed me to see as I've given them an invitation.  Help us all to have the courage to step out of our comfort zone and invite others to open up to us. 


Lisa


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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 4 comments

I thought I'd share tonight's dinner with you - a tasty salad that's good for you too!  I found this recipe a while back in a mailing from the American Institute for Cancer Research. 

TURKEY SALAD with CRANBERRIES and PECANS
2 cups (8 oz.) diced cooked turkey breast
1 small Granny Smith apple, diced
3 Tablespoons dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons chopped pecans
1 can (11 oz.) mandarin oranges, drained and cut into small sections.
1/4 cup fat free plain yogurt
1 Tablespoon reduced fat mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons brown mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper
8 Boston lettuce leaves


In a mixing bowl, combine turkey, apple, cranberries and pecans.  Add orange sections and set aside.


There is a fair amount of chopping involved.
(Quite often I substitute according to what I have in the house.  I added a Red Delicious apple rather than a Granny Smith, and instead of the turkey breast I used leftover rotisserie chicken.  Greek yogurt adds quite a bit more protein than traditional yogurt and I substituted spinach and chopped lettuce for the Boston lettuce.)

In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, mayonnaise and mustard.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Drizzle dressing over turkey mixture while using a fork to gently mix in.  Arrange two lettuce leaves on each of four salad plates.  Mound one quarter of salad on top of lettuce and serve immediately. 

If you do happen to make this according to the recipe, here's the nutrition information per serving (4):
Calories...........203                         Protein..........19 g (more w/ Greek yogurt)
Total fat.............6 g                       Dietary Fiber... 3 g
Saturated Fat......1 g                       Sodium.......391 mg
Carbohydrates...20 g

Lisa

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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 0 comments

A few years ago Bob and I went to see the "Butterflies are Blooming" exhibit at Meijer Gardens, but unfortunately it turned out to be a big disappointment (at least as far as butterflies were concerned.)  Since our visit took place in late April we were only able to see the butterfly (singular), so this year we thought maybe if we made our visit earlier we'd have a better chance of seeing butterflies (plural).  Bob had a dentist appointment in that area this past Thursday, so we decided to swing by and see if we fared any better.

This time, we were not disappointed.  The butterflies were in full bloom and could be spotted in all shapes, sizes and stages of life.  One that particularly caught my attention was in the process of exiting its cocoon.


The topic of struggles had come up during Bible study that morning, and here was an example of struggling right before my eyes. 

It brought to mind a story I read a while back about a man who thought he'd help a struggling butterfly out by clipping off the remainder of its cocoon. 

But it really didn't help.

Yes, the butterfly was free, but its abdomen was swollen and its wings were shriveled.  Without the struggle to get out of the cocoon, the fluid from its body was never pushed into its wings.  In its distorted state, the butterfly was never able to fly.  The man's intention was to help, but in reality he hindered. 

If butterflies struggle for a reason, then surely there's a reason for the struggles we experience.  Here are some I came up with:

Struggles develop perseverance.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." ~ James 1:2-4

Struggles perfect our faith.
“We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said." Acts 14:22


Struggles prepare us for battle with the enemy.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” ~ Luke 22:31-32

Struggles deepen our trust in God.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." ~ Philippians 4:6

Struggles draw us into a closer and deeper relationship with God.
"But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction." Job 36:15

Struggles remind us it is God who is in control.
“all things were created by him and for him.” ~ Colossians 1:16

Struggles give us the opportunity to experience victory!
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." ~ Romans 8:37

 
Struggles come in all shapes and sizes.  This quote from Oswald Chambers spoke to the struggles I'm facing today.

“God gives us a vision, and then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of that vision.  It is in the valley that so many of us give up and faint.  EVERY God-given vision will become real if we will only have patience.  Just think of the enormous amount of free time God has!  He is never in a hurry.  Yet we are always in such a frantic hurry.  While still in the light of the glory of the vision, we go right out to do things, but the vision is not yet real in us.  God has to take us into the valley and put us through fires and floods to batter us into shape, until we get to the point where He can trust us with the reality of the vision. 
~ My Utmost for His Highest Oswald Chambers, 6 July

Lord, You know that given the choice, I'd skip the struggles every single time.  Thank you for not allowing me to have my own way and take the easy way out. Because of the difficulties I've faced I've grown closer to you and come to trust you more, and I wouldn't trade that for anything!  As I stand in uncertainty, help me remember that You know the way;  my job is just to trust and follow You.  
 
Lisa
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Tips for Tuesday

Being newly gluten free (and feeling marvelous!), it can be a bit of a challenge sometimes to find things that are okay for me to eat, especially when I'm not at home.  The first week of Bible study, my friend Shelley R. brought these Powerball Cookies.  Yay!  Something I could have, and yummy too!

I asked Shelley for the recipe and made a batch to bring to Bible study last week - and they were so good everyone ate them up!  I just made more yesterday so I could have some at home.  So for all you who asked, here's the recipe:



Powerball Cookies

1 cup peanut butter                                        1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1 cup honey                                                   1 cup chocolate chips
3 cups old fashioned oats                                1 cup fruits/nuts combo

Mix together peanut butter and honey; stir in flaxseed and then gradually add the oats.  Stir in chocolate chips (I used 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips) and fruit/nuts combo (I used 1/2 cup chopped pecans and 1/2 cup chopped Craisins.)

Form into Ping-Pong sized balls.  (I used gloves for this so it wouldn't stick to my hands.)  If I'm taking them somewhere, I place each ball into a mini cupcake paper; otherwise I just place the balls in an airtight container. 

Refrigerating the Powerballs overnight keeps them from being sticky.  These also freeze well.  Makes about 3 dozen, depending on the size of the balls.


Lisa



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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 3 comments

If you were offered one of these two gifts, which would you choose...
Photo courtesy of irum and sxc.hu
 this one?


Photo courtesy of mm904ut and sxc.hu
or this one?


I don't know about you, but I'd go for the pretty one. 

Every time. 

Why is that? 

Perhaps I subconsciously think that a lot of effort spent on the outside indicates a lot of effort invested in the gift on the inside, but of course that's not necessarily the case. 


In my last post I dissected our "D" memory verse:

"Devote yourself to prayer, being watchful and thankful." ~ Colossians 4:2
typed from memory :)

I think our "E" verse could run right into it:

"Devote yourself to prayer, being watchful and thankful."

BECAUSE

"Every good and perfect gift is from above..." ~ James 1:17
also typed from memory :) - still there from the summer when I memorized James. Woo Hoo!

This verse is a great reminder because, unfortunately, not every gift from God seems good or perfect.  I received the story below in a forwarded email last week.  (I didn't write it, and unfortunately I don't know who to credit.)  I'm sharing it with you because I think it speaks to our perception of God's gifts.


Me (in a tizzy): God, can I ask you something?
GOD: Sure.

Me (frustrated): Why did you let so much stuff happen to me today?
GOD: What do you mean?

Me: Well I woke up late,
GOD: Yes

Me: My car took forever to start,
GOD: Okay....

Me (growling): At lunch, they made my sandwich wrong and I had to wait
GOD: Hmmmm..

Me: On the way home, my phone went dead, just as I picked up a call
GOD: All right

Me (loudly): And to top it all off, when I got home, I just wanted to soak
my feet in my foot massage and relax, but it wouldn't work. Nothing went
right today! Why did you do that?

[This is me interjecting here] Can you relate?  Just this week I had one of those days where I just couldn't win for losing.  By noon I was ready to call it a day and start over!

GOD: Well let me see..... the death angel was at your bed this morning and I had to send one of the other angels to battle him for your life. I let you sleep through that.
Me (humbled): Oh...


GOD: I didn't let your car start because there was a drunk driver on your route that might have hit you if you were on the road
Me (ashamed): ............

GOD: The first person who made your sandwich today was sick and I didn't want you to catch what they have.  I knew you couldn't afford to miss work
Me (embarrassed): Oh.....

GOD: Your phone went dead because the person that was calling was going to give a false witness about what you said on that call, I didn't even let you talk to them so you would be covered
Me (softly): I see God

GOD: Oh and that foot massager, it had a short that was going to throw out all of the power in your house tonight. I didn't think you wanted to be in the dark.
Me: I'm sorry God.

GOD: Don't be sorry, just learn to trust me.........in all things, the good and the bad
Me: I WILL trust you God

GOD: And don't doubt that my plan for your day is always better than your plan
 Me: I won't God. And let me just tell you God, thank you for everything today.

 GOD: You're welcome child. It was just another day being your God and I love looking after my children.


How often do we act just like this?  Things don't go our way so we automatically think God is out to get us, but that's just not how God works! 

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!             ~ Matthew 7:11

God loves us and wants what's best for us.  Sometimes what is best comes in a beautiful package we immediately recognize as a gift, but there are other times when it doesn't appear to be a gift at all. 

I struggled with constant pain for well over a decade, and for a long time I didn't have one good thing to say about it.  Now I can look back and see that time as a gift, because those difficulties drove me to God.  I know I wouldn't have the close relationship with Him that I do if I had been allowed to go my merry way.  He knew He needed to remove just about everything from my life to get me to focus on Him.  It's not something I'd care to go through again, but I'm thankful now that God didn't give me what I wanted but instead gave me what He knew I needed.


Will you join me in asking God for eyes to see His good and perfect gifts?

Lord, I thank you for always doing what's best for me.  I'm so sorry for all the grumbling I've given You in return.  Help me to be thankful for EVERY gift you give, especially those that don't seem so good to me at the time.  When things don't seem to be going my way, help me remember that your plan for my day is ALWAYS better than my plan.

Lisa

And the winners of my first ever giveaway:

Jill received the Versability Versepack

and

Phis received the Versability Versebook

Congratulations Ladies!
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