November 15, 2016

Give Thanks In The Midst of Circumstances

"Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
 
I was looking through my son's old Bible studies this week, the ones I compiled when we first began homeschooling and I read this verse again. I've  always have had trouble wrapping my head around one part of these verses -- "give thanks in all circumstances." So as I was thinking about it, I prayed about it.
 
So here's how the conversation went in my head:
 
"God,  help me understand, because I've never been able to give thanks IN all circumstances."
 
"Notice, Dolores,  it does not say give thanks "for" all circumstances. It just says "in" all circumstances."
 
Suddenly the light bulb went on and this thought came to mind -- "Oh, so I can give thanks IN THE MIDST of my circumstances, not necessarily FOR THE circumstances. Ah ha! So despite the fact that my beloved PT cruiser 2nd engine that was only a year old blew out a month or so ago and my husband's bank account was hi-jacked by a kid who loves to play computer games this weekend, I don't have to give thanks for those things, but I can still give thanks during this difficult time, right?"
 
"Right!"
 
Two years ago when I read Stephanie's ten years of blogging, I saved quotes she liked and things she wrote that spoke to me, I found one she had saved that fit this conversation by Albert Schweitzer who was a missionary in Africa. He said:
". . . our inner happiness depends NOT on what we experience but on the degree of our gratitude to God, whatever the experience."
So as I was coloring today for Kathy Racoosin's 30-Day-Coloring Challenge, I added this quote to the back of one of the four monthly dividers that I was working on as a reminder to  give thanks in all circumstances!
 

 


November 06, 2016

Hospitality Unit Study

This month's theme word is HOSPITALITY in Documented Faith and I found a unit study I compiled when we were homeschooling for the month of November. It's a short little study and after it was over,  I was so proud of my son when he remembered to offer his friends or his grandparents  something to drink when they came over and he still does that to this day.
Hospitality Unit Study

"Come and share a pot of tea,
My home is warm and my friendship's free."
~ Emilie Barnes.
I. Adult Study Guides =

  1. The Joy of Hospitality: Recovering a Lost Art. By Dee Brestin. 1993. (This women's Bible study guide can be used for your children's study guide if you reword it a bit.)
  2. If Teacups Could Talk: Sharing a Cup of Kindness with Treasured Friends. By Emilie Barnes. 1994.
  3. The Spirit of Loveliness: Bringing Beauty, Creativity, & Order to Your Life. By Emilie Barnes. 1992.
  4. No More Lone Ranger Moms. By Donna Partow. 1995.

II. Reference Guides = (For practice with and between your children, any book on etiquette and manners in which good host/hostess and guest manners are given.) I have: Vogue's Book of Etiquette and Good Manners. By Conde Nast Publications. 1969, in my home library.


"Friendship by its very nature consists in loving, rather than in being loved. In other words, friendship consists in being a friend, not in having a friend."
~ H. Clay Trumball.

III. Ingredients of Hospitality Vocabulary = befriend, cheerful, communion, disciple, encourage, etiquette, generous, grace, haven, honor, hospitable, inviting, love, minister, modest, nurture, service, thoughtfulness, welcome, wisdom


Sign Outside My House:
"If you came to see me, Come on in!
If you came to see my house,
MAKE AN APPOINTMENT!

IV. Models of Hospitality =
A. Biblical Models =Abigail, Abraham, Aquila & Priscilla, Boaz, Elisha, Elizabeth, Jesus, Jonathan, Joseph, Mary & Martha, Queen Esther, Shanammite Woman, Tabitha, etc.

B. Biographies = Dollie Madison, Corrie ten Boom in the Hiding Place
C. Storybook Welcome =

  1. "The Lame Squirrel's Thanksgiving" by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey. The Bumper Book. Edited by Watty Piper, Platt & Munk. 1961.
  2. Wind in the Willows. By Kenneth Grahame.
  3. Little Women or Little Men. By Louisa May Alcott.
  4. The Little House on the Prairie series. By Laura Ingalls Wilder.
  5. Anne of Green Gables series. By Lucy Maud Montgomery.
  6. Anne and the King of Siam. By Magaret Landon.
  7. A Cup of Christmas Tea. By Tom Hegg. 1982.
  8. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. By C. S. Lewis.
  9. The Hobbit. By J. R. R. Tolkien.
  10. A Christmas Carol. By Charles Dickens.
  11. Tara's Healing. By Janice Holt Giles. 1951.
D. Poetry =
  1. The Divine Office of the Kitchen. by Cecily Halleck.
  2. The House By the Side of the Road. By Sam Walter Foss.
  3. I Shall Not Pass This Way Again. By Eva Rose York.
  4. The Great Guest Comes. By Edwin Markham.
"Martha, Martha -- ignore the mess,
and pay attention to your guests!"

V. Creative Hospitality Studies = Hospitality Etiquette around the world, Card Ministry, Caring and Sharing Ministries, Christmas Baskets, Secret Sisters/Pals, Neighborhood Block Parties, Family Celebrations, Round Robin Fellowship Circles, Tea Parties, May Baskets, Support Groups or Co-ops, Creative Cooking, Creative Crafts such as flower arranging, etc.
" A Walmart Welcome"


 
IV. Discussion Terminology & Conclusion =
Question: What might be meant by these terms in the light of what we have learned about hospitality?

  1. "being a vehicle of grace" or a "blessing" to someone
  2. "putting out the welcome mat" or "rolling out the red carpet"
  3. "breaking bread" or "breaking the ice"
  4. "an act of worship"
  5. "no strings attached"
  6. "a chain reaction" or "domino effect"
  7. "to give your brother (or sister) a hand up, not a hand-out"
  8. "gracious living"
  9. "Good manners must come from the heart."
  10. "Like charity, good manners should begin at home."

Thank You. I bid you adieu.
~~ <> @ <> ~~
Here's my scripture sheet for the month of October.
I'm doodling more and more, but forgot there was a fifth week in the month of October so the scripture that should have gone in that last block is on the back because I filled it in beautiful doodled flowers. I was looking over my scribbles since January and I've come a long way. I'm feeling more confident about it thanks to Stephanie, because I've learned not to discredit my creative style,
but just have fun
with it.


 
  
~~ <> @ <> ~~
And last, but certainly not least,
my friend, Karen, crocheted a poncho for me which keeps me warm as toast.
It's a lot easier to throw on when my shoulders and arms are chilly rather than trying to keep a blanket up over my chest as I'm typing here at the computer.
Thank you, Karen!  I've enjoyed wearing it several evenings
since the weather has finally begun turning cool!

October 22, 2016

Gratitude Potential

A gift I gave one of my nephews for Christmas stands out in his memory. He had been giving his folks some grief that year and while I meant his gift topper as a joke, he thought I was being MEAN and he said it was the worse Christmas he ever had and to this day, points me out as his MEAN OLD AUNT. I made him a bundle of sticks.
 
One of my best Christmas gifts was a big box of craft goodies that I was supposed to share with my sisters and brother. At first, I was resentful that I had to share, but they could not see the fun to be had in dumb ole school supplies such as a paint box, crayons, scissors, construction paper, paste, coloring books, etc., so eventually they left the box for other playthings and I was able to create with them all by myself.  Like my ungrateful nephew, they could not see the potential for fun in my parents' gift.
 
I don't remember what I created from the items in that box, but I do remember the delight in crafting. You could say that I had the creative bent even then. I asked my nephew what he did with the sticks and he said he threw them away. Just think of opportunity he tossed out.  He could have gained new skills as he MacGyver'ed  new things from those sticks -- he could have drilled out the center and made hillbilly pens, sold them and gained pocket money for what he wanted to buy; he could have carved them into miniature chains, beads, or made jewelry as novelty gifts; he could have made a whistle with them, he could have made drumsticks or toothpicks with them, and so forth. It's all in how you "see" things.
 
Gratitude is like that. Sometimes it's a real struggle to see what we have to be grateful for. We have either never been able to see the gratitude potential or haven't trained ourselves long enough to see it. I think that's part of the struggle I've had this last year. I was stretching for fantastic things to be thankful for and couldn't see any. I was ungrateful for the ordinary things I was taking for granted.  I realized that Sunday, when my pastor read out of 2nd Timothy 2:1-4 -- "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone--for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God Our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."

While everyone is out there mudslinging about the next President-elect and other officials, who should we be grateful and praying for now? For the hearts and minds of our present elected authorities, the ones we already have and for the people under them -- that we behave ourselves, live in harmony, and make their jobs easier as overseers. Some day they will have to give an account as to how they ruled over us, just as we have to give an account for how we spent our lives to God.  But since everyone has a free will, some may not say yes to God, but then again some might and even though we might never know in our lifetime who has, that doesn't mean we shouldn't pray for them anyway.  Lord, help us to "see" the potential here, turned around hearts because we  prayed  grateful intercessory prayers.  Amen!


 

October 10, 2016

October is Pastor Appreciation Month!

Pastor preached out of 1 Timothy, chapter 1 yesterday and since I've begun this blog, I notice that I tend to zero in on the gratitude verses in any chapter and yesterday was no exception. grin! Since I "found" this verse, I decided to doodle it and here is the result.

 
Perfect verse for Pastor Appreciation Month, don't you think?
 
I really like Stephanie's doodled cross, although mine seems a little short. It's a learning curve on how to balance out the doodles and the lettering without measuring anything, although now, since I draw my doodles in a spiral graph book, I can almost
visualize the space now.
I'm thankful Stephanie offered this online doodling class.

I've also been working on a new musical playlist for Pastor Appreciation Month. I'll link it into my link list as soon as it's completed.
 
What do you do to show your Pastor how much you appreciate them?
Both our Pastor and his wife have their birthdays in October, so we celebrate
Pastor Appreciation and their birthdays with a harvest chili cookoff!

September 28, 2016

I Was Amazingly Created, Thanks to God!

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully made;
your works are wonderful . . .
~ Psalm 139:13-14.
 
 

At the moment I was conceived, I was miraculously primed for the following:  
 
 
a thinking brain. Sometimes it goes on automatic pilot, but it's still the organ, according to doctors, that may think up to 30 to 40 thoughts a minute. I'm thankful I can reason.
 
 
a beating heart. It beats 100,000 times and pumps around 7,571 liters of blood through my body every day! I am grateful for my heart!
 
 
bones and marrow; legs and arms. The Bible says that God made the first man in his likeness (Genesis 1:26) from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7) and his woman helper (Genesis 2:18) was made from his rib bone (Genesis 2:22) which had nestled close to his heart under the protection of his arms. I sure enjoy those ticklish rib bones in my man! grin! Thank you, Lord, for my man's bones!
 
 
a digestive system. My body produces both acid and alkaline substances. One dissolves the food I chomp every day into basic elements that my cells can absorb in order to function and the other coats the lining of my stomach as a barrier to prevent the acid from dissolving it too. I'm grateful for my gallbladder, intestines, liver, stomach, and teeth.
 
 
two eyelids,  eyeballs and optic nerves. God provided protection for my eyeballs with eyelids that blink about 29,000 times a day to distribute tears that wash away the dust that the hair in my eyebrows and eyelashes wasn't able to fully filter.  I'm thankful I can see!
 
 
hair. The Bible says that the hair on my head are all numbered. (Matthew 10:30a). That includes the hair on top and all around, in my ears and nose, over my eyes and mouth, and under my chinny-chin-chin. I'm thankful it grows on top. Think of how many childhood scissor or gum disasters that have finally grown out! grin!
 
 
two kidneys and a bladder. I've heard that if you aren't born with a bladder, you won't survive birth for more than a few minutes. The kidneys filter blood and the bladder, as a holding tank, flushes toxins and excess waste out, about 1.4 liters of fluid. I'm most grateful for clean water to make delicious drinks like sweet tea to replenish it every day!
 
 
an immunity and lymphatic system. My heart not only pumps  blood, but also a nourishing fluid filled with enzymes and white blood cells that attack germs and cancer causing cells. I'm thankful for good health!
 
 
a multi-purpose mouth. With it, I can barf, breathe, burp, drink, drool, eat, kiss, suck, talk and taste with it! Thank you, Lord, for your wisdom in designing my mouth!
 
 
a nose and two lungs. Scientists say I take in about 17,000 aromatic breaths a day without thinking about it. I'm grateful for my ventilation system!
 
 
skin. God gift wrapped a package of organs for me. He saw to it that it refreshes itself automatically by shedding old skin cells, a staggering million everyday, regenerates more, and patches holes, and prevents most bacteria and bugs from entering his precious child. Thank you, Lord, for your gift!
 
 
sweat glands. The food and fluid I eat and drink helps to provide energy for my body which in turns produces heat which helps my body to function. I put off excess heat through the fluid that comes out of my sweat glands. You know, the old saying, horses sweat, men perspire and women glow! I'm thankful for  soap and antiperspirant! grin!
 
 
If you don't think you see miracles these days, look at yourself in a mirror or at a new baby. We are each living, breathing, created miracles of God! He don't make no junk!
 
 
Every day I will praise you!
~ Psalm 145:2a
 



September 14, 2016

Stephanie Ackerman's Online Classes

I've been doodling all week. No, it's not a dog, but a cartoonish type of drawing made easy by Stephanie Ackerman. Thanks to her discount to Documented Faith-booker's, I had the opportunity to take one of her online courses and make not one, but TWO projects. One was an artist's sketchbook that's crammed full of doodling ideas and an alphabet and the other is a painted canvas to hang on the wall or give as a gift!
 
I completed a doodling project for my faith-book group friends last night -- (shhhh! it's a secret -- don't tell) and have a couple more in mind to make, one being a doodled page with Stephanie's cookie recipe on it. But I've been able to finish a couple of my faith-book pages that needed some sort of art journal idea to finish them off! One was a divider page from last month that I doodled on, watercolored and laminated and the other was my scripture page that I was able to complete making pretty too!


There are several things that Stephanie said in videos and through Documented Faith that resonated with me this last month as well as a few others shared by and with friends.

And here is my scripture page that got prettied up with flowers. Love the ones in the lower right hand corner, don't you?

I even made 18 artist trading cards to swap with the atc club I joined last year. Artist trading cards or atc's as they are commonly known, are miniature works of art (2 1/2" x 3 1/2" in size) that you trade (never sell) with friends and other paper crafters. I quoted Stephanie when describing this atc in our meeting -- "A doodled house is just a square with a triangle on top and a heart in the middle (because a house is not a home without a heart)!" Amen, to that, sister, esp. a heart that's been made clean by Jesus!
 

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, RoOTeD and BUiLt up in him, strengthened in the FaiTH as you were TaugHT, and overflowing with THANKFULNESS." ~ Colossians 2:6-7.

September 11, 2016

God's Going to Fix It!

Ever since I was little, when my feelings would get hurt, I would go into my bedroom and listen to my record player that I received for Christmas one year. I didn't own too many records, but was allowed to play my mother's southern gospel ones. I learned many of the words by heart, listening to and singing with them over and over.
 You see, when I was hurting, I needed a refuge from a world that had too many prickles.
I would find solace in God's lap, 'cause not too many people saw my heart,
and loved me despite my different self.
I would lay all my problems in his lap, and in no time I would feel better
because I knew he could Fix It!
 

I don't know where I would be today if I didn't have Jesus to lean on.
I was feeling low today and this song was a nice surprise to find at Youtube,
sung by my cousin,  Terrill White.  It had to be a God-thing, a Love Note!
Thank you, Jesus!


August 18, 2016

Elizabeth's Gratitude Journal

I'm so grateful to my friend, Elizabeth.
She acknowledged my gift and made something wonderful with it!
A gratitude journal!

 
Enjoy!

July 27, 2016

What is Faith-booking?

Faith-booking, to me, is documenting my faith journey, my relationship with Jesus, with  a combination of a calendar planner  as well as a scrapbook of my spiritual life which may include photos, a checklist of what I've done during the month,  prayer and gratitude lists, sermon notes, quotes and so forth,  along with creating and keeping Christian art, poetry, or anything that speaks to me of Christ's love for me.  I think I'm going start saving encouraging notes and cards there too that I receive from my sisters & brothers in Christ, so when I get down in the dumps, I can re-read for their cheerful messages.
 
Faith is my relationship with Jesus, my lifestyle of living, my belief system. The scriptures says in Hebrews 11: 1, 6 "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.. . And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." and Hebrews 12:2a "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. . ." The daily use of my faith-book (and Bible which is the roadmap) helps me do just that.
 
I've read the Bible from cover to cover like a novel, beginning at Genesis and reading straight through to Revelation, reading about 5 chapters a day. I've also read the Bible by theme, such as Stephanie Ackerman is doing with her thematic scriptures in Documented Faith. A concordance is helpful for that. I've read the Bible devotionally by using Bible study books, however, presently I'm thinking of reading the Bible chronologically which means I'll read it as the events in the Bible really transpired. I found a website called Back to the Bible which lists the daily scriptures that I need to read everyday in order to do that.  They have it set up beginning at January 1 with the first reading, but it doesn't really matter what month and day of the year I begin to read as long as I start at the beginning and read my portion every day.  For instance, I can begin reading January 1's portion today, January 2 tomorrow, January 3, the next day and so forth. I think I will add in the scripture references to my daily planner so I don't get confused.
 
A faith journey is where we live and what we do everyday hand-in-hand with Jesus. It's the small moments and the big moments too! Like going to church with our family, having devotions with the same, visiting places that relate to our faith such as visiting the creation museum (a place on my to do list), Focus on the Family (been there!), or special traveling exhibits like the Dead Sea Scrolls (did this one) or being enthralled by the Passion play (field trip with the youth group), reading about and  recording the lives of saintly people, our heroes of the faith.
 
It  can include playing softball with our church family, supervising a canoe trip with a youth group, teaching Sunday School and eating at potlucks during the year (church people seem to do this one the best!). Throwing a shower for the newest baby in the nursery, sending RAKS (random acts of kindness) to people in need of cheering up and visiting the sick. It can be the traditions and rituals we practice like going to district assembly once a year or camp-meeting or youth camp or participating in a foot-washing service or taking communion. A faith life includes the people we love and sometimes the not so lovely we minister to.
 
It's the relationship I relish the most, being with Jesus in my daily life. He's the lover of my soul. Documenting my faith walk is helping me recognize that my blessings are from the hand of God. I want to walk the walk with Jesus and record it! And I'm committed to that. I've been reading Stephanie's devotionals every week that she sends out by email and keeping my faith-book current as much as possible and watching videos  by other people who are also Documenting their Faith for inspiration. 

A couple of weeks ago we stopped in a Christian bookstore we haven't visited in awhile and I found this little card along with some folded bookmark magnets for the girls in my Documented Faith group. I figured that this little card kinda fits me don't you think? I got the girls various ones for their faith-books for their binder rings although I think it was probably made originally for a keychain to go along with all those little shop discount cards. And they can certainly use it for that if they so desire. I love to share with my girls -- it's my love gift to them and I certainly don't expect anything in return, however, if they feel obligated, I would appreciate a gift of time to craft for our faith-books in exchange! *wink* 

 ~~ <> @ <> ~~
 
I had a dream this afternoon -- We were all sitting comfortably in individual chairs lined up in rows in an old church sanctuary which was covered in burgundy carpet and there were the same deep rich red draperies at the tall stained glass windows which were shining brightly. As we began singing our way through a chapter of the Bible,  a visiting woman to the right of me stood up and soon all of us were standing and singing with joy.  Then we sat back down after some ladies left the sanctuary and one woman began handing out forks, placing them on our closed Bibles still in our hands. I looked up and asked what it was for and she said for the pie supper, of course! We were to have pot pie and dessert pie in a few minutes. And wouldn't you know it,  that's when I woke up!
 
I don't know where that dream came from and I didn't recognize the church as one I had ever been in before, but as I savored it, I realized I was enjoying myself and looking in eager anticipation to the pie supper. I wondered if they would serve it in pie tins to complete the pie theme, but I shall never know.
 
~~ <> @ <> ~~
 
1. Do you look forward in eager anticipation for the opportunity to pray for people? I have had such an opportunity to pray for two people this week -- one who stopped by this blog and left a spammy comment in Arabic script. I checked my stats and somebody had visited me from a closed country -- Saudia Arabia.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to pray for this person's salvation and my church family are praying too.
 
2. The other person I'm praying for is someone at another website that is making my life and other's miserable. This person and other's like him, gives me another opportunity to pray.
And my friends are praying too.
 
3. I've been coloring this month for Kathy Racoosin's 30-Day Coloring Challenge and one of my gratitude coloring sheets was featured in her Sunday line-up. I never thought in a million years she would like my bright water-coloring, but she did. Thank you Kathy!
 
4. I'm thankful that I didn't pass out last week from the fumes when my elbow knocked over a brand-new bottle of ammonia as I was pulling the dryer lint trap out to clean it.  And I'm thankful  my husband was able to come home to help me clean it up.
 
5. And I'm thankful for being able to go to a stamp and scrapbook show with my husband and being able to spend time with our bestie couple friends the next day.
 
Have a wonderful day!



July 16, 2016

The Black Dot

A friend sent me this story via email today:

"One day, a professor entered the classroom and asked his students to prepare for a surprise test. They all waited anxiously at their desks for the exam to begin.
The professor handed out the exams with the text facing down, as usual. Once he handed them all out, he asked the students to turn over the papers.
To everyone's surprise, there were no questions -- just a black dot in the center of the sheet of paper. The professor, seeing the expression on everyone's face, told them the following:
 

 

"I want you to write about what you see there." The students, confused, got started on the inexplicable task.
At the end of the class, the professor took all the exams, and started reading each one of them out loud, in front of all the students. All of them, with no exception, defined the black dot, trying to explain its position in the center of the sheet.
After all had been read, the classroom silent, the professor started to explain: "I'm not going to grade you on this, I just wanted to give you something to think about. No one wrote about the white part of the paper. Everyone focused on the black dot and the same happens in our lives. We have a white piece of paper to observe and enjoy, but we always focus on the dark spots. Our life is a gift given to us by God, with love and care, and we always have reasons to celebrate--nature renewing itself everyday, our friends around us, the job that provides our livelihood, the miracles we see every day.
 
However, we insist on focusing only on the dark spot--the health issues that bother us, the lack of money, the complicated relationship with a family member, the disappointment with a friend. The dark dots are very small when compared to everything we have in our lives, but they're the ones that pollute our mind. Take your eyes away from the black dots in your life. Enjoy each one of your blessings, each moment that life gives you. Be happy and live a life filled with love!

June 28, 2016

Let's Have a Gratitude Praise Party!

Many of you know that I received a "polio" style brace and shoe for my developing drop foot in March and I've been refashioning my wardrobe to go with it. Because  the whole enchilada cost us so much (almost a $1000),  when it began to develop problems, I knew I was in trouble.
 
First, I got my brace caught on the  corner end of a church pew so that the toe end of the shoe sole popped open and began yelling at me, "HEY! Are you trying to rip your leg off?"  I was returning to the pew after communion and I have never been able to accurately ascertain where body parts are in relation to things around me, hence damage to body parts. grin!
 
Next, the toe sides seams were coming apart near the end of the shoe on the inside of the foot. They weren't actually sewn together there, even though it appeared to be so. I guess the Velcro closure on that side was putting extra pressure on the glue holding the layers together.
 
And, then, when I sat on my lift chair wearing the brace, I could sometimes feel my toes swelling (the end of my toes rest against the end of shoe inside with no room to spare) and the shoe leather pressed on the outside corner of my big toe which hurt like an ingrown toenail. Some of you who have experienced that kind of pain will understand what a pain that is! grin!
 
Well, my technician said to come back in anytime I had trouble with the shoe and/or brace. I asked him if I should make an appointment for that and he said no, just walk in, so that's what we did yesterday morning.
 
Because my male technician was busy with another patient, a woman technician saw to me, reviewed the shoes, and got me squared away. She's ordering new shoes, 1/2 size larger, that should come in two weeks and it will take them 2 or 3 days to put my brace into the sole of the new pair and IT WON'T COST ME A THING since the shoes were covered by the warranty! Yippee! Thank you Jesus. Woo Hoo!
 

June 23, 2016

Take Time

I'm so sorry I haven't been writing my gratitude's lately. Been taking a little break because I've been refashioning my wardrobe, watching many sewing tutorial videos and scrolling through Pinterest to find ideas for doing that. While I was at Youtube, I began to compile a new playlist on gratitude tools. It only has 4 videos in the playlist so far, but hopefully it will grow.

Here's some of the gratitude's that I've been writing down on my sermon note sheets in the last few weeks:
  1. Warmth and light
  2. RAKs from friends
  3. his goodness
  4. his provision
  5. creative ideas for clothing to wear with leg brace for the summer
  6. FISH money -- coins picked up off the ground and unexpected money given to us from friends and family -- may God continue to provide!
  7. freedom
  8. the vocalist special in our church service
  9. godly values like patience, stamina, faith, a willing spirit, generosity
  10. offspring
  11. grace
I cut loose this last month and did some artwork in my faith-book. First I used the back of my divider for quotes and doodled some flowers around them. If you want to read the quotes I wrote down, click on the photo to enlarge.

 
I also water-colored my scripture sheet until the last week. I couldn't find my water brush then, so used markers instead. Didn't like the results, but was inspired by Stephanie to make the stripes.
 
Since I had been invited to a shoebox party and Stephanie had sent us an assignment to make a large tag with encouraging words for our faith-books, I used the idea for my contribution to our annual craft day.  I didn't have a large tag die, so instead I found a sack of manila envelopes at a thrift store and prepared the background in advance. All the girls had to do was to glue on the hearts, the little torn scrap of prescription paper, distress the edges with ink and stamp the words from my sample.  Cute little decorated pocket to store goodies in our  faith-books!
 

 
I've been getting nudges from my conscience lately that I need to get back to reading my Bible. I've gotten into a rut of being too busy for God. As I've been thinking about it, I remembered what Dr. Ketterman told us -- every parent needs to teach their child to spend 20 minutes every day in quiet time. It is meant to be used to decompress, to rest, to reflect on the positive attributes of the day, to read from God's word,  to meditate on God's goodness, to pray, and to praise.
 
And as a parent, I couldn't just expect my child to do as I say and not as I do. I had to model quiet time  too! Many of my friends are now becoming grandparents and some of them babysit or are raising grandchildren and getting a second chance to re-parent. They can begin anytime to instill quiet time on a daily basis. Dr. Ketterman said to set the timer for 20 minutes, sit down and read for that length of time or journal and pray. No TV, nor radio unless it is soothing music like classical or instrumental hymns. Make it a priority and teach the children not to disturb each other or mama during that time unless it is an emergency such as blood gushing from some body part. grin!
 
With our son's ADHD like symptoms, this was almost sheer torture for him, because his little body wanted to be active constantly and since my husband had a hard time getting him to go to bed at night (I had afternoon nap duty and husband had evening duty), we instilled the quiet time just before bedtime. My husband began reading books to our son such as an ABC Bible story book and later hubby let the son read to him. After the book reading, then hubby taught him to pray the Lord's prayer.

To have a spiritually healthy relationship with Jesus, I need to read, rest, and reflect. Take time to join me, won't you?

May 23, 2016

Gratitude Coloring Book!

See what I found while I was shopping this weekend at Half Price Books!
 
 
Published in 2015 by Piccadilly (USA).
 
There are gratitude quotes on each page interspersed with doodled images.
For some of the doodles you will need a very sharp colored pencil.
As I'm a paper crafter, I was thinking some of the pages could be used in my
faith-book as artwork; some of the fonts are small enough on some of the quotes that they could be used as card sentiments;
and some of the medallions could be used on cards like digital stamps,
however, the book is bound with sewn signatures inside a sturdy cardstock paper cover.

May 22, 2016

Gripped By Fear?

I've had my own issues with anxiety and fear. I grew up afraid of many things -- nightmares and the dark, sleeping on my side on my ear (I was afraid I'd hear my heart quit beating and you know what that means),  heights and falling, the end times, stinging insects and parasites, bullies and strangers, school tests and failure, medical needles (i.e. shots), snakes,  highway bridges, and so forth. Some of those things seem silly now, but as a young girl  I struggled for many years trying not to be afraid, but it wasn't until Dr. Ketterman, thankfully, prescribed a visit to an endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in glands and their secretions, that I understood some of the reasons for my anxiety and fear -- I had a hormonal imbalance. I'm currently on hormonal replacement therapy and don't experience the gut-wrenching panic attacks that I had then during my feminine cycle.
 
I was thinking about how technology has played a role in my fear and remembered the first time my parents refused to allow me to crawl into bed with them after watching a television movie -- "The Hound of the Baskervilles." I was so afraid that I didn't mind sleeping on the rug next to their bed just so I would be under the umbrella of their protection from the monster hound.
 
When I was little, just after we moved into the our new home, a house this time, we were given strict instructions not to go down to the next street where there were only holes in the ground where basements were being poured. We didn't have fences yet and as the eldest, I was responsible to make sure my younger sister minded the rules, but mind she didn't. In fact, rather headstrong, she argued with me about what our parents had said and proceeded to go anyway -- "just to look." I shudder to think that if I hadn't followed her to the basement shell that day what might have happened to her, as she, in looking over the concrete wall through the window well, toppled in. It had rained the previous week and the basement held the water like a pool which was over her head. I didn't have the strength to pull my wet sister out, so placing her hands on the ledge of the window, I told her to not let go and ran for dad as fast as I could, yelling for him all the way. After that, my father was instrumental in getting all the neighbors to fence in their backyards for the protection of us young children.
 
After we were older, my mother said that she didn't give a thought about allowing us to free-range the neighborhood to play with the other kids.  We had rules of course, that we were to abide by and the other stay-at-home moms watched over all the other children playing with their children, making us mind when we were up to mischief, such as the time a neighbor caught me red-handed throwing down glass bottles on the road to watch them break. She marched right out of her house with a broom and dust-pan and watched until I swept up every bit of glass from the road. Never did that again and my mother reminded me that we always have someone watching all that we do, meaning Jesus, but it didn't hurt her cause to insinuate that she had her spies in the neighborhood too! grin!

I've always wondered how others conquered their fear. I read about the early persecuted Christians who began to scratch a fish symbol (it meant Christos) in the dirt when meeting a new person. Friends, recognizing the question, would finish it and if the person didn't recognize it, then the Christians knew to be careful as they never knew who would betray them to the authorities.

When we'd go visit my grandparents while on holiday from school, my paternal grandmother who had a heart for missions, filled her bookcase with books about missionaries that I loved to read. I remember reading a story about one of them praying for protection and later, the natives, after salvation, were asked, when they learned that they were going to attack the missionary and rob them, why they ran away. They said it was because they were afraid of the strong armed men they saw surrounding the missionaries on their knees. I remember reading about Corrie ten Boom helping a few Jews hide from the Germans, knowing if they were ever caught, it might mean death, but they did it anyway. I read about Elizabeth Elliot who went to the same tribe of South American Indians who had killed her husband and his friends, and Brother Andrew Womack who secretly carried Bibles into closed countries. It was a puzzle to me how they conquered their fear of the consequences if they were ever caught.

I was puzzling over that very thing today and it seems to me that many people may be gripped by fear so paralyzing it keeps them from reaching out to others. That seems to me a self-imposed prison.  The news media tends to inflate and exaggerate the awful things people do, so that we, like the persecuted Christians, don't know whom we can trust. Under the guise of "protection," our freedoms are eroding right under our nose because a vicious cycle of fear distracts us and keeps us in our place. And who is the author of fear? You guessed it! The devil. He delights in it.

Getting the hormone replacement therapy has helped a lot with some of my panicky fear, but praying and reading scripture has also. I have  placed dots next to scripture references in my concordance that has meant a lot to me.  For instance:
~~~~~
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you, wherever you go." ~ Joshua 1:9
~~~~~
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies." ~ Psalm 23:4,5a
~~~~~
"I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears." ~ Psalm 34:4
~~~~~
"An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up." ~ Proverb 12:25
~~~~~
"Fear of man will  prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe." ~ Proverbs 29:25
~~~~~
"The Lord spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people. He said: 'Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it." ~ Isaiah 8:11-12.
~~~~~
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble; but take heart! I have overcome the world." ~ John 16: 33
~~~~~
"the mind controlled by the spirit is life and peace. . . for you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship [in my case, I'm an adopted daughter, a Princess of the Heavenly King]." ~ Romans 8:6, 15 
~~~~~
" in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God, that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." ~ Romans 8: 32-39
~~~~~
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." ~ Philippians 4:6-7.
~~~~~
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." ~ 2 Timothy 1:7
~~~~~
 "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved." ~ Hebrews 10:35-39.
~~~~~
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. . ." ~ Hebrews 12:2
~~~~~
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." ~ 1 Peter 5:7
~~~~~
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love [Jesus] drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.[yet]" ~ 1 John 4:18.

April 25, 2016

Busy Bodies

Do you know a  busy-body? We all know or have met at least one I think.  My dictionary defines a busy-body as "one who obtrusively meddles in the affairs of others."
 
My Bible says this about busybodies:
 
" We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busy bodies.
Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down
and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers,
never tire of doing what is right."
~ 2 Thessalonians 3:11-13
 
"They get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to. I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes, and to
give the enemy no opportunity for slander."
~ 1 Timothy 5:13-14

 

I recently read an online parenting article that said calls to local children welfare departments have more than doubled since the scandal of the "free-range" parents hit the news. While there are genuinely toxic families out there, in my opinion, some of these calls may be of the busy-body type. It's a hard judgment call to report the real cases of abuse, but some of these "tattle" calls may crash the child welfare system. Social workers face constant criticism and immense public pressure and some children may fall between the cracks.  
 
Parenting is one of the hardest jobs I have ever had. Children aren't born with an instruction manual and I was so focused on being a good mom and wisely parenting our son that I about drove people crazy asking for advice before we got hooked up with Dr. Ketterman.  I loved practical advice from other parents who told me what worked for them and who to read. I soaked up their praise when they told me I was a good mom! Once when we went on vacation to visit military friends, we stopped at a gift shop near their home and even though we didn't have much money to buy souvenirs on that trip, I had to have a plaque that I saw there (it's still hanging in my kitchen). I stood in the store and embarrassed everyone around me by crying  like a baby as I read it. grin!  It was a lovely touching God-gift during a moment I was feeling pretty low about my abilities as a parent. It said:
 
A Special Housewife
Though you think your career is less fulfilling than those with a business life, it takes a lot of love and stamina to shape a little one's life. You teach your children about the Lord;
you lead them in His ways, and little can match the undying love of a faithful mother
who prays. And when on that final judgment day the saints gather
around His throne, it's little wonder that many will say,
"I'm here 'cause Mom stayed home."
~ DEXSA, The Giving Company, Lakeland, MN.
 
I washi-taped a quote of  Stephanie's to the back of my February divider in my Documented Faith-notebook. The theme was LOVE and she said: "When I begin to feel critical of someone I must IMMEDIATELY STOP and make a list (in my head or maybe on paper) of those person's positive qualities. Again, every single time I even start to have a critical thought I must STOP and correct my thinking. Remember that we are here on earth for a reason. To love God and to love others. Let's all make a conscious effort from this day forward that we treat others the way we want to be treated and then . . . ask yourself what you want from people and then do it for them!"
 
Imagine what would have happened if the callers in the above article had stopped for a moment to think how their report might impact everyone's lives?  It is easier to anonymously tattle (which is a spiteful desire to hurt someone) rather than making an investment of time in building relationships with people. What if . . . they had tried to find something good to praise their neighbor for first instead of reporting their poor parenting to the authorities? Wouldn't that be amazing? I know I would have been thankful for a wise neighborhood friend who had noticed we were trying to be good parents. As it was, we lived in almost constant dread of, before our son was diagnosed with ADD/ODD, that a misunderstanding neighbor would call the child welfare system on us. I truly believe that God protected us from that.
 
And speaking of gratitude, I have much to be grateful for, but here are a few for today:  
  1. My heavenly Father - he's the perfect Daddy!  He is ever loving (the friend who just stands by) and is never too busy for me and my questions or petitions. He's also a great hugger when I'm needing some comfort. He has loads of parenting wisdom and much of it can be found in the Bible.
  2. My co-parent, my husband. He stood by me when I miscarried our much wanted first baby and occupied our son when I needed to wind down from a hard day with No. 2 child. My hubby has the patience of Job; he learned how to consistently discipline our son and to close ranks with me when the boy wanted to play us against each other. I felt cherished and important to him by his actions (he was rewarded $$ in the love bank of our marriage! grin!).
  3. Creative ideas for a refashioned wardrobe to go with my new leg brace found at Pinterest. I'm loving the lagenlook style of clothing with leggings.
  4. a RAK from a friend across the pond that shall go into my FISH money because it was unexpected and a penny found on the sidewalk in front of a clothing store.  
  5.  hearing from old friends.
  6. Sunshine and rain.
  7. A free pass in the snail mail to the Kansas City zoo (we went Thursday -- I was thankful for my rolling walker with a seat and the amazing variety of critters God has created. He must have had fun designing!)
  8. Other goodies in the mail = a gift card from Cenex  (Cenex has a nifty program called "Tanks of Thanks") and a restaurant gift card from 54th Street Grill which we have yet to use.
  9. New information on my 3rd great-grandfather from the Primitive Baptist church archivist.
  10. My faithful readers & new visitors. This month is my gratitude journal's 3rd anniversary and I've had visits from these countries (in order of no. of visits) = United States of America, Russia, Malaysia, France, Germany, Ukraine, Poland, Canada, China, Australia, France, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, Argentina, Brazil, Cyprus, El Salvador, Switzerland, and Thailand.
 
And finally, after four months of taking sermon notes, my note-sheet is beginning to form itself into sections. I've begun to fold a 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper this way.
 
  1. Worship details = date, pastor/worship team, sermon title and scripture reference.
  2. Gratitude notes = things I cull from songs or think of during the service that I'm thankful for
  3. Sermon Notes
  4. Scripture text references or people to pray for
  5. Sermon Notes 
  6. Art Spot = illustrations or ideas that come to mind
Here's what today's notes look like (I erased names in this copy to protect the living):
 
(to read: click on image to enlarge)
 
On Sundays after church, I have been adding in important dates from my sermon sheet and the church bulletin into my faith-book calendar while our dinner is baking.  Then I check my email for Stephanie's scripture for the week and add it onto my scripture sheet that's hanging in my kitchen.
 
It's interesting the verse she picked in two different Bible versions to go with our monthly theme word ENCOURAGE this week =
 
Learn to do what is right. Treat people fairly. Help those who are treated badly. Stand up in court for children whose fathers have died.
And do the same thing for widows. ~ Isaiah 1:17 NIRV

 
Learn to do right; seek justice. Encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.
~ Isaiah 1:17 NIV

It appears as though Stephanie and I are at odds with one another, however, God doesn't contradict himself in scripture. First of all you have to read all  the verses in context -- read the whole chapter of all three books where the scriptures are found. Next you need to pray and ask God for discernment. What is he really saying to the both of us? Then if you continue to have difficulty understanding, look up the verses' key words and their definitions  in your dictionary/thesaurus.
 
 The first thing I noticed when comparing the two thoughts is that one, being an encouraging mentor takes time and effort. You have to be willing to be a supportive, praying friend.  
Busy-bodies can't find the time because they are too busy playing the blame game. They are spiritually powerless because they would rather hurt  someone to make themselves feel more important than to make others feel good about themselves. Earlier in the chapter of Thessalonians, it says to stay away from every brother who is idle. After listening to our pastor today telling the story of Abraham rescuing Lot by going to war with his allies (Genesis 14), I realized, basically,  busy bodies are selfish people who cannot be trusted to personally fight for me or others nor would they make a good ally at my side.
 

So knowing all that, go out and be a blessing to someone this week! Okay?