Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 4 comments


ORGANIZING

Tips for Tuesday


Here's a chicken marinade that's quick, easy and delicious! 


LIME CHICKEN MARINADE

         1/3 cup olive oil                            ¼ cup lime juice
         4 cloves garlic                               1 teaspoon dried cumin
         1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes       1 teaspoon dried oregano
         ½ teaspoon salt                            ¼ teaspoon pepper
         4 – 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts


All you need to do is mix all the ingredients in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag.  Refrigerate and marinade overnight. 


I usually make several batches at once and freeze the chicken right in the marinade. Then on those busy days, all I need to do is just thaw and grill!

Linking up with Tasty Tuesday

Lisa
[ Read More ]

Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 1 comments

Wishful thinking.  Hoping for the best.  Unrealistic expectations. Pie in the sky dreams.  Those who don't know God may use words like these to describe faith.

What is your definition of faith? 

For many of those familiar with Scripture, the words of Hebrews chapter 11, verse 1 come to mind:

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (NIV)

If you're not familiar with the Bible you may be thinking, "Huh?"

We all have a need for faith.  We all (whether we admit it or not) have a deep-seated need to know:

      1. God exists.  There really is a Creator with a grand design.  Nothing and no one happens by chance.  You are not an accident or a fluke of nature. 

      2. God loves me.  God is not out to do you in or set you up to fail.  He's not keeping track to see if you mess up more than you get it right.  He has your best interests in mind regardless of how things might look at the moment.

      3. God can do the impossible.  If you could comprehend everything God is capable of, what kind of God would He be?  He can do far more that we could ever ask or imagine.

To describe faith another way:

"Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen." (HCSB)

This verse illustrates the benefits that come from using more than one Bible translation.  I never thought I'd switch allegiances, but more and more I'm appreciating the accuracy and clarity of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB).

In my experience, there's a big difference between "being sure" and reality.  Looking out my window I can be sure it's a beautiful day because I see green grass and blooming flowers illuminated by the brilliant sunshine, but the reality of today is that the cold wind cut through me like a knife! 


There are a lot of human elements to "being sure," but reality is, well, reality. "Reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined...reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible." (Wikipedia)

Faith is the reality that God exists, that He loves each one of us and He can do what seems to us to be impossible.  Faith begins by accepting the Bible is God's love letter to us and everything in it is true because that's the reality. 

Lord, thank you for allowing me to understand that faith does not rely on my understanding, which can change like shifting shadows, but that faith is based on your reality.  It's comforting to know that regardless of how crazy life might seem, You have it all under control!
Lisa


[ Read More ]

Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 3 comments

The July heat's unexpected arrival in March awakened the flora with a shocking jolt.  Shaking off their slumber, fearing their time had past, they burrowed furiously toward the light.  


Bleeding Hearts daintily dangling  




 Bountiful Buttercups


 Wild Geraniums in a light lavender 


 Fiddleheads unfurled


 Waves of Wood Phlox


and the star of the show...

Trillions of Trillium


For some reason they favor tumbling down the banks




Looking here, it's hard to believe they're in need of protection...


 Two weeks before their expected arrival and they're already fading fast...


Welcome to Spring in my neck of the woods!  Our best efforts don't hold a candle to God's handiwork!

Blessings,

Lisa


[ Read More ]

Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 1 comments

Woo Hoo!  I finally finished cleaning out my "catch-all" closet!  Even though it had been organized before, somewhere between the LEGOS and the storage bins (purchased to use as a giveaway the next time I speak on organizing) I lost control.


Once items start spilling onto the floor, it's only a matter of time before there's nowhere left to walk.


I followed my "Empty Everything" rule, but because this is such a large area I implemented it one section at a time.  Working in segments, it took me about a week to complete this task.

Obviously, in order to eliminate clutter, some stuff had to GO!  There's comes a time when you have to admit you're never going to do anything with those things you might need "someday" and say, "Goodbye!"

Front and Center


When it comes to deciding what goes back where, I give the most-used items the positions at eye level in the front of the shelf, making them easy to access.  The things I'm just storing or don't need often are placed in the back.

Divide and Conquer

                                      

I utilize containers wherever possible.  That way if I need to get to something stored in the back, I only have to move one bin verses numerous individual doo dads.  They also keep things from getting dusty.  While I use whatever I have available, I prefer clear bins so I can easily see the contents.  Labeling is especially important for those containers I can't see through.





The zippered bags linens come in are also great for storage!
 

 

Because the shelves are deep and I can't see what's stored toward the back, I jot down a list of the contents as I'm arranging the shelf.


When I'm finished, I tack the lists to the trim alongside the corresponding shelf.  With a quick glance I know exactly where to find everything!


Presenting...the floor!  Ta da! 

Lisa


[ Read More ]

Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 2 comments

If you haven't joined me yet for *She Sparkles* A to Z Scripture Memory Challenge it's never too late to jump in!  The way I see it, any Scripture you have memorized is a bonus, so why not start now with "H"! 

H - How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the Earth! ~ Psalm 47:2

Memorization comes easier to some than it does to others, but God calls each of us to hide His Word in our hearts.  I'm definitely in the "others" category here, so I can relate with those of you who struggle. 

Maybe you're in the same boat thinking, "I'm no good at that."  Good news!  You don't have to be good at it because God is good at it! 

"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 

If we make the effort to learn Scripture, the Holy Spirit will help us remember it.  How great is that? 


Perhaps time is the issue.  Since I don't have any empty blocks of time just waiting to be filled up, and I'm sure you don't either, that means I have to be creative with the time I do have.  As King Solomon said (Ecclesiastes 1:9), "There's nothing new under the sun."  Time has always been an issue. 












"These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. ~ Deuteronomy 6:6-9


I'm not always a fan of multi-tasking, but I make an exception when it comes to memorizing Scripture. 

     * I keep verses on the bathroom mirror so I can go over them while I wash my hands.

     * I'll print out a verse or passage in a large font and glance at it while I'm cleaning the floor or weeding a flower bed. 

     * I leave the ipod at home and go over memory verses as I walk.

I never walk alone.  If I'm not walking with another person, I'm walking with God.  I find it's a great time to pray, go over a lesson I'll be teaching, or work on the verses I'm memorizing.


I took my grandson for a walk this week, and discovered the cupholders on his stroller are a great place to hold my verses!


Added bonus: Adam gets to start hearing God's Word at an early age.


 Well, I wore him out on this walk, but who knows, maybe some of it is even sinking in subliminally while he sleeps!

Lord, I thank you for making the impossible possible.  Thank you for giving us the ability to memorize scripture no matter what our circumstances.  While it takes effort putting it to memory, it's such a blessing to have it come to mind just when I need it!

Lisa



About the title of this post - pushing the stroller somehow became "strollin'" and even though I've never watched the show, the theme from "Rawhide" became stuck in my head.  Listen at your own risk!


Linking up with Faithfully Parenting Fridays, Women Living Well
[ Read More ]

Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 9 comments

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

Since I read one of the writing prompts asking for God's supernatural provision and another regarding giving, the same illustration keeps coming to me so that's where I'm going to start. 

My husband worked for what used to be one of the best companies in town before wage freezes, reduced hours and massive layoffs were ushered in.  Back in 2005 he received the dreaded "Warn Letter" notifying him that in 60 days he would no longer have a job.  The situation looked bleak to say the least.  It would take a miracle, seventeen people with more seniority than him accepting the buyout and voluntarily leaving, for him to keep his job.

If this were not enough, it also coincided with our making a commitment to go on a mission trip to Kenya - pricey to say the least!  I have to be honest here and tell you that finances were the least of my worries.  I went to the informational meeting for the trip thinking once I explained my physical limitations I would be politely rejected.  Since we're now planning trip number five, obviously this has been more than the one hour out of my life that I planned on investing. 

While I was praying like crazy (again, to be honest), "God, make it clear this is NOT what you want me to do!"  Bob was also praying like crazy to make sense of things from a financial standpoint.

It never did make sense.  Bob was loosing his job and God was calling us to go to Kenya.

"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
Neither of us had a clue what we were going to do long-term, but we proceeded to make plans to go to Kenya since, despite my prayers to the contrary, that was the one thing God was clear on.

By trusting Him and staying the course, rather than taking matters into our own hands and doing what made sense to us, we were able to experience a miracle. 

Through what little we had and the generosity of others, we were able to pay for the trip to Kenya. 

When we returned home, Bob still had a job!  He needed seventeen people with more seniority than him to leave and eighteen did, putting him one man up from the bottom!

Get on the same page

Of course, in order for us to be able to handle this stressful situation successfully, we had to be on the same page.  Because of traits learned from our family of origin and personal spending habits I doubt any married couple starts here, but by God's grace we can all get here.  But how?

1. Be honest about your concerns.
I have an accounting background and balanced my checkbook to the penny.  Bob never wrote anything in his register, which I knew would drive me crazy (I later learned, much to my relief, that he did keep track on the computer.)  Our solution was to keep both checking accounts, adding the other's name to each, so we could each continue in the way we were accustom. 

2. Be considerate when it comes to spending.
Early on, we set a limit on individual expenditures.  Anything costing more than the amount we agreed on we would discuss before making a purchase.  Not only does this give both parties input, it also eliminates any major impulse spending.

3. Be responsible with God's money.
Yes, I said God's money.  "the world is mine, and all that is in it." ~ Psalm 50:12  When we tithe we're not giving God 10% of our money, He's allowing us to keep 90% of His money.   Yes, money is a tool God gives us to use, but I don't believe His intention was for us to use it all on ourselves.  Do you really need a new electronic gadget just because a new one came out?  Just because we can afford something doesn't mean we should buy it.  Before spending anything, think of how you'd feel if someone else was using your money that way.

4. Be content with what you have.
"The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble." ~ Proverbs 19:23 Honestly, the less stuff you have, the easier life is.  Ask yourself, "Do I own my possessions or do my possessions own me?"  Simplify, simplify, simplify!

Lord, I thank you for bringing Bob and I to the place where we can be of one mind (most of the time!) when it comes to finances.  Thank you for your gracious provision.  Help me remember that all we have is really yours and enable us to use our resources in a way pleasing to you.



Lisa




[ Read More ]

Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 2 comments

One of the things I love about learning is getting to see God put all the pieces together.  I had that experience recently while reading the novel, "Safely Home" by Randy Alcorn. 

The book is set in modern day China and chronicles the reunion between college roommates Quan and Ben.  At one point in the story, Quan shows Ben how Christianity has been imbedded into the ancient Chinese language. 

Randy Alcorn is primarily an author of non-fiction, and one of the things I've enjoyed about his fiction is the amount of spiritual truth woven into the stories.  Because of this background, I have good reason to believe the information about the Chinese characters was factual, and further search on the internet seems to confirm this as well. 

According to Bible Probe, the Chinese language predates Biblical Hebrew anywhere from 700 to 1700 years.  This is the only ancient language still in use today!


The word meaning "to create" is translated, "from the dust, by the mouth was breathed life, and it walked."



Compare that with this verse from first book of the Bible. “The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” ~ Genesis 2:7



There are two trees at the top of the character that means "to warn" or "forbidden" and an abbreviated form of God at the bottom.  The hook (bottom center) changes the meaning of the God character to "God commands or notifies."  Scripture records God giving warnings about two trees in the book of Genesis.

And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” ~ Genesis 2:16-17

The second warning concerning a tree is found in Genesis 3:22, after Adam and Eve have sinned: And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”




"Tempter" is a complex word, and within this character we find the devil. Figures, doesn't it? The devil is secretive and approached Eve in the garden disguised as a serpent but using the voice of a man. He tempted Eve under the cover of the trees.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” ~ Genesis 3:1



We see the two trees again - along with a woman - in the word meaning to desire or covet. The woman did not heed God's warnings and began to desire the forbidden fruit.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” ~ Genesis 3:6

I think "boat" is really fascinating.  The word for boat is a combination of three characters: vessel, eight, and people.  The vessel makes sense, but why eight people? 

“Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.” ~ Genesis 6:10 7:13

“…you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you.” ~ Genesis 6:18

Noah + his wife (my dad always claimed her name was Yes-ah) + 3 sons + 3 daughters-in-law = 8 people on the ark.
  


Finally, we have the character for righteousness.  The upper part of this character is the word "lamb" while the lower part is "I" or "me."  There are a lot of different ways to read this one:  I am righteous under the lamb; the lamb over me is righteous; the lamb above changes men below. 

John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! ~ John 1:29


The information in this post is based on "Safely Home" by Randy Alcorn.    Photos of the characters came from "Answers in Genesis," and many sources reference "Discovering God in Chinese Characters" by Shirley Eu.



Lisa
[ Read More ]

Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 3 comments


ORGANIZING
Tips for Tuesday

Since I was able to finish up my big closet organizing project last week (WOO HOO!), today I was able to help out my friend Shelly over at Shizzle.  Over the weekend her workspace got a makeover, but in the process all her supplies were jumbled and ended up filling her garage. 


My job was to bring order to it all and leave her with a functional workspace (not to mention a parking space in the garage.)

Before we tackled the big things, we took care of the small ones, like only keeping pens that actually write!


Shelly built a trough that fit under her window to store all her writing utensils, screwdrivers and other items she wanted to keep at her fingertips.


She put vertical dividers along the length of it to keep everything standing.

I sorted containers...


and we found a handy place to store them, easy to access.


As we started filling the small drawer unit with supplies, we listed the contents of the drawers on labels.


We used lots of clear plastic tubs, which will also get labels.

Here's where we started...


and here's where we wrapped it up for the day...


Shelly ended up removing the lowest shelf and put more distance between it and the shelf above so she could fit the drawer units on it.  Keeping them at eye level makes it much easier to utilize.  No more bending over!


She also inserted a panel at the end of the shelving unit and hung up her paintbrushes, scissors, and other tools... 


while the levels were hung along the door.


We utilized ALL available space, making sure the items she used the most were in the spots easiest to access.  There's still more work to be done, but the space is organized and contains everything she needs to get started, so she's ready to create, create, create!
Blessings,
Lisa
 





[ Read More ]

Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 3 comments

The more I read Scripture, the more I realize there is no such thing as "perfect Bible people" except, of course, for Jesus Himself.  The disciples, for instance, were all people we can relate to in one aspect or another. 

Thomas was full of questions. (John 14:5, 20:24-25)

Peter caved under pressure.  (John 18:15-27)

James and John jockeyed for position (Matthew 20:21) - though they were by no means alone in this. (Luke 9:46, 22:24)

But can we relate to Judas?  Our first instinct would be to say, "No!" but would that be accurate?

Photo courtesy of ruby_fire and photobucket
Today, we define a Judas as "one who betrays another under the guise of friendship." (www.answers.com)

We think of Judas as evil incarnate, and he certainly was when satan entered into him (Luke 22:3), but what about before that?  When Jesus announced to his disciples that one of them was about to betray Him, all eyes did not immediately turn to Judas.  Instead, "they began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this." ~ Luke 22:23

Imagine living back in Jesus' day. The Jews were looking for a king, a military leader, someone who would overthrow the oppressive Roman regime. The disciples knew better than most that Jesus was the ideal candidate for the job. After all, they had seen Him feed thousands of people with the lunch of one boy (John 6:5-15) and bring the dead back to life (Luke 7:22, John 11:43-44). No wonder many thought He would be the ideal commander-in-chief. With a leader like that, the Romans wouldn't stand a chance.

 

The remorse shown by Judas after learning Jesus was condemned (Matthew 27:3-4) makes me wonder if harming Jesus was never his intention.  Could it be that he just wanted to force His hand by putting Jesus in a position to defend himself (and reveal himself) when confronted by the Roman army?

Did Judas start out just being a guy who thought his way was better than Jesus' way?

Perhaps Judas was a take charge kind of guy who was going to make things happen when and how he thought they should happen.

Maybe he was an impatient guy who didn't want to sit around and do nothing while waiting for Jesus to act.

A man with a plan.



Yikes! Now I can relate.  How about you?



How often have you become impatient waiting for God to move?

When have you taken matters into your own hands - "helped God along" a little bit?

Do you consult God before making plans, or push ahead with your own agenda and invite God to catch up as an afterthought?

God knows absolutely everything.  Relatively speaking, we know nothing so why do we think our way is going to be better than God's way?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.  ~ Isaiah 55:8-9

Judas is an extreme example, but an example nonetheless.  The next time I feel impatient with God's timing, I'm going to remember how that worked out for Judas.

Jesus, I can't begin to thank you for the work you did on the cross, paying the penalty for my sins.  Forgive me for my impatience and help me to trust you and wait on your perfect timing. 


Lisa



[ Read More ]

Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 2 comments


ORGANIZING

Tips for Tuesday

Oh happy day!  My sister pointed out to me that Monster Cookies are gluten free.  Since I wanted a picture for you, I just had to whip up a batch!




MONSTER COOKIES


6 eggs                                                  ½ teaspoon vanilla
2 ½ cups brown sugar (1 pound)                        9 cups quick oats
2 cups white sugar (1 pound)                 1 ½ pounds peanut butter
½ pound REAL BUTTER                        ½ pound chocolate chips
4 teaspoons baking soda                      ½ pound M&M candies



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix ingredients in order given.  Drop by large tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Put 6 on each cookie sheet and flatten with dampened hands.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Do not over bake.  Do not use substitutes for real butter. 

I say, why eat chocolate chips when there's M&M's around, so I skip the chips and use the entire 1 pound bag of M&M's!

Enjoy!

Lisa
[ Read More ]