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Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Wizard of Oz" Going Away Party

Saying goodbye - especially to good friends - is never fun, but having a party is ALWAYS fun.  And this party was extra-fun because this couple (especially the wife) happens to be a HUGE "Wizard of Oz" fan!
The only person I knew that had lots of WofOz decor was my friend, so of course I couldn't ask to borrow it. I wanted the party theme to be a surprise, and it was already packed up anyway.
 For the lion's "courage", the guests at the party wrote notes of en"courage"ment to the couple.
 A "Yellow Brick Road" led the way from the entry door to the reception table.  I didn't have time to draw bricks, but my son who helped by taping down the road decided that the folds in the plastic tablecloths were brick shaped, anyway! Works for me!
After Christmas during Walmart's "day after Christmas sales", I bought some neat little plastic appetizer containers.  I used them, plus some other little plastic containers I had to make these "Over the Rainbow" Layered Jello Snacks. It took a while to do, but was totally worth the extra effort!
 I'm not sure how the kids managed to eat this tall ones, but I know they did! Maybe they had long tongues because the spoons wouldn't have gone down the skinny cylinders! Maybe they used the handle of the spoon.
 I found the Oz picture at Kirkland's! I'm so thankful I stopped by there quickly that day! The Dorothy dress is a friend's, and has been worn by many little girls over the years - even by my daughter about 15 years ago!
I saw an idea for "Melted Wicked Witch Punch", so that was really fun. I also had an antique green punch bowl that I didn't even remember I had, but fit perfectly with the punch!
 Toto's Puppy Chow is always a hit.....
 Over the Rainbow cupcakes.....
 Ruby Red Slipper Sugar Cookies....
 Munchkin Snack Mix (recipe is on my recipe blog at today)...
 The scarecrow needed something named after him so this "If I Only Had a Brain" Toffee Crunch Crockpot Candy was the perfect match....
 And these "Tin Man's Heart - Butter Cream Wafers" are my absolute favorite!
 We're going to miss you, Gray & Teresa! Thanks for your friendship and love for us and others!  May God bless you in this new endeavor!
Gray & Teresa have been houseparents at the Children's Home where my husband works. They will be houseparents at another Home and will continue to do what they do best - love and care for children. This little boy wrote the sweetest note to them. It melted my heart!  :)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Love Makes the Journey Worthwhile

I really like the quote on this new picture I got recently: Life is a Journey and Love makes that journey worthwhile.  That's not a new concept at all. From the beginning of time, love was the premise of all creation.  God loved us from the beginning, and He will love us for eternity.

The Bible has hundreds of scriptures about love.  It tells us what love is, who we are to love, and what not to love.  Here are just a few of the "love" scriptures:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:14

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17

LOVE is what makes our life's journey worthwhile. Don't waste time being unloving.  Spend today, and every day, loving God, loving Jesus, loving others, loving yourself, and loving what God loves.  

Monday, January 27, 2014

Trust In The Lord - Even When You Feel Like You're Drowning

 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. 
Proverbs 3:5-6

This is my very favorite scripture, so when I found an app that allowed me to make shapes with words, I thought that this would be a great way to use part of this scripture in a heart shape.  A friend also took the picture to use on Facebook for her page, and she told me an illustration the other day that fit perfectly with this story.

My friend and her family have been going through several trials in their lives for the past several months.  It would have been easy to get down and depressed, but she didn't - they didn't. And they didn't because of their faith in God.  Her older child, now living in another state with a husband and child of her own, asked how she was doing she was surviving with all of these trials in life.  The mother, my friend gave this illustration:

"When you feel like you're surrounded by water and feel like you could drown, keep your faith. Use that time to look around at all you see when you're under the water.  There are different fish and sea creatures under the water that you can't see when you're above. Look at the pretty colors.  Look at all of God's creation that you don't typically get to enjoy.  Finding those things - those good things - will help you get through the times that you feel you might could drown."

Oh, I loved her illustration!  She put into words exactly what this scripture is saying!  She was acknowledging God through her trials and He was/is making her paths....and her families' paths.... straight!  She was finding good through the bad. She was staying positive instead of getting pessimistic.

My friend is finally beginning to come up to the surface, after these three months of being under the water. God has blessed her and her family and she is confident - and I am confident - He will continue to do so.  But things will be changing as a result of this blessing.  My friend and her family will be moving.  That's the part that saddens me because I'm selfish, but the part that shows me that God's plans are higher than our plans.

To further her illustration, I thought about being under the water and resurfacing to find that the land had changed. Where you entered the water may not be where you come up from the water, and sometimes that coming up results in change.  Maybe it's people who have changed, maybe your surroundings changed, maybe the circumstances changed, but maybe, like with my friend, your land has changed.  If so, hold tight to this scripture: Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Repeat it over and over again.  And He will, without a doubt, make your paths straight....even when you feel like you're drowning.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thick Skin and Shattered Glass

Last week I was cleaning out the refrigerator.  My husband came in while I was getting everything out and started washing the shelves for me. (Wow, that was so nice!!!)  As we were talking and working, Joe was holding one of the glass shelves. It shattered in his hand, into what must have been thousands of pieces!

We were shocked! He hadn't done anything to cause the glass to shake. The temperature of the water wasn't too extreme. The temperature of the air wasn't too extreme.  He wasn't putting any pressure on it at all. He was just holding it and it basically blew up!  We began the clean-up process.

As we were cleaning up the pieces, I thought about the differences in shattered glass. What makes some glass shatter more than others? Why was this one in thousands (it seemed) of pieces? I also thought about how our lives are like that glass. Something comes along in our lives and it may "shatter" us into many pieces, but then other things may come along and seem they would be just as hurtful to us, but we're not shattered to the same extent. What makes the difference? In glass, the thickness of it seems to make the biggest difference. So, is it the thickness of our skin that makes the difference in our lives?

I used to have a boss that thought it was fun to make me cry. I would cry very, very easily. He would tell me I was thin-skinned and he actually delighted in that fact! Another co-worker would say the same thing.  And I think they were right - that I was thin-skinned. I hadn't ever had anyone treat me that way, and I sure wasn't used to it, but, as I got older and matured, those types of things didn't bother me any more. I became more "thick-skinned" and learned to control my response towards others and towards certain situations.  I still wouldn't want to be around someone who took delight in hurting me, but perhaps the thick skin wouldn't allow me to be hurt quiet as easily.

Maybe having thick skin does help when our world is shattered, but I believe it has more to do with our faith. The "thickness" or "deepness" of our faith in God will help us when everything seems like it is falling apart. God will get us through those rough, broken times if we will put our faith - our total faith - in Him.

Take a moment to reflect on this comforting passage:

"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

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ask. Seek. Knock.

In our family devotional this morning, the author talked about how we should be led by God's Spirit in everything we do, and not by our own will power, because we can't get by very long on our own will power.  That is so true.  God's Spirit will sustain us long after our own will power has left.

I think of the example of me liking Dr. Pepper.  I knew that I could give it up whenever I wanted to, but I didn't WANT to! I knew if I prayed to God for help in not wanting it, He would help me, but I didn't WANT HIM to help! (Sad, yes, I know.)  But after the first of the year, when the kids went back to school, I did pray about it, and I easily stopped, except for allowing myself one on the weekend.  I didn't crave them. I didn't have headaches from giving them up.  I didn't miss them, for the most part. Every once in a while, I missed having one, if I had eaten something really salty, but it wasn't enough to make me want to get one.  I actually gave up flour and sugar all together, except for one meal on the weekend, so it was more than just about Dr. Peppers, but that was the main thing.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

God will help us when we ask for help, but many times we're stubborn, like I was, and don't want his help. We want to hold on to whatever is keeping us down.  We want to hold on to whatever is setting us back.  We don't want the freedom that He gives.  Why is that?  Because sometimes our sin is enjoyable, and we don't want to let it go, even when we know we need to!  It's as simple as that!

The Holy Spirit will help us, but only when we allow it to.  When we realize and recognize sin, or addictions/habits, in our lives, we must give it up.  Anything that has a hold on us is wrong. Anything we are putting in place of God is wrong. We may not realize it is for a while, but it is. And once we realize it, we must allow the Spirit to help us rid our lives of it, or at least make it less of a habit/addiction.

Ask.  Seek.  Knock.  It's that simple!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Finding Joy by Seeing God in Everything

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

When I first started this blog, my goal was to see God in simple, ordinary things.  It was a way to come up with blog posts, yes, but more importantly, it was a way to keep my mind focused on the spiritual side of life as much as possible. Some days that's easy. Some days that's hard.  But, it has made me more spiritually minded for the most part.

Last night in my ladies' Bible class, we finished up a lesson about being joyful. There was a quote that really caught my attention (Sorry that I don't have the name of who wrote it. I'm bad about not listing sources on my lessons.) Joy is the flag that flies over the castle of our hearts announcing that Jesus is in residence today. I love this!!  We can learn to see God in everything - we can learn to have JOY, when Jesus is in our hearts.  We can fly that flag showing who is in residence there.  What a wonderful thought!!

There is a catch to being able to fly that flag. The only way to experience the fruit of joy is to be obedient to Christ and submit to the Spirit on a daily basis. To discover joy we must quit searching for joy, itself, and go looking instead for the ONE who IS joy - JESUS! And by learning to see God in everything, we will learn to be obedient to Christ and learn to submit to His Spirit.  We will find, that along the way, we have found true joy.

“If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”  John 15:10-11

 “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
John 15:4

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Nutcracker "ICE!" at Gaylord Texan Resort

It was a beautiful site to see more than 2 million pounds of ice formed into the beautiful creations making the story of The Nutcracker come alive at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, TX.
Forty amazing artists from China came to the Gaylord to carve and sculpt the ice over a period of a little over a month.
The temperatures inside the exhibit were 8 degrees, so they gave us these beautiful coats to wear.  I had gloves on, but still, my thumbs were freezing by the time we got out!
See the candy cane stripes going up each side?  Those are staircases leading to the top of an icy slide!  I didn't slide because we had come from worship and a dress isn't good for ice sliding :).  But the kids sure had fun!!  
And extra addition to The Nutcracker display was a scene from New York City. Lady Liberty looks great in ice and a Santa hat/coat!
And, of course, a yellow taxi cab had to be in the mix!
This Nativity scene was more beautiful than this picture shows. It was clear ice and Mary and Joseph were lit up from behind.

This went along with the whole "Frozen" theme we had experienced during the holiday season. First, we had real ice around Thanksgiving and after. Then we saw the movie, "Frozen", had a winter wonderland Christmas party for the kids at school, and then this very cold, but very cool, ICE! show.  It was SPECTACULAR!

Monday, January 13, 2014

God's Co-workers

As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says,
“In the time of my favor I heard you, 
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:1-2

As God's co-workers......I like that!  Most of the more modern versions say co-workers. The KJV says, "workers together with him", so it means the same thing.

Paul is saying that God, as our Heavenly Father, has a plan for His children, and that is to help Him bring others to Him.  We are workers together in His Kingdom. We are co-heirs with Christ.   He doesn't need our help. He's perfectly capable of doing what He wants done and needs done without any help from His children, but He wants us to help Him because He knows it will be good for US.  It helps us grow in our faith. It helps us rely on Him. It helps others come to know Him by our encouragement.  

The word, 'favor' here, is not translated properly, but I used this version because of the use of co-workers.  In both places where favor is used, the Greek meaning of the word is accepted or acceptable.  (Check it out yourself on The excerpt in parenthesis is from Isaiah 49:8.

This passage is saying to not just accept God's free gift of grace and be on our merry way - living life for our entertainment and pleasure. He's saying (paraphrased), "I've given you this gift, and I've given you a job to do. The time is NOW to get it done! The time won't be forever!"

What kind of co-worker are you for God?  A good one? A bad one? A hard-working laborer? A lazy worker?

God needs you and I to be there very best co-workers for Him that we can possibly be! It's quite possible that He is trying to use you to bring a certain someone to Jesus....a certain someone that only you can reach out to.  He may be waiting for that one person and waiting for you.

I can't help but sing the song, "To the work, to the work, we are servants of God!"  I'd better get to work!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Why You Can't Say No To Religion

Why, you ask?  Because the Bible says to put your religion into practice.  So, for that very reason, as a follower of God, His children must follow the teachings in His Word.  And, His Word says that you can't say no to religion....although it is being taught in many places all over the world.  Religion simply means our external worship to God.  When you say no to religion, you're saying no to the external worshipping of your Heavenly Father.  But a child of God just can't keep it all to herself/himself! She/He must let her/his light shine!   

(Check out Blue Letter Bible to look up the original meanings of words. This is the link:

What those who debunk religion may be opposed to the church organized to have worship together.  It's just a ritual to them, maybe.  Of course, that's possible.  We can make it a "going through the motions kind of thing", if we're not careful. We also have to be careful that we don't become selfish in our thinking, and believe that worship to God is all about how "I" feel and what "I" get out of it, instead of concentrating on worshipping the Father!  Yes, we can encourage one another when we meet together, but the absolute primary goal is glorify God, not self!

Others may dismiss worship as meaning not be a Pharisee, as Paul was before he was blinded by the light - the BRIGHT light! Paul was an "all rules, no grace" man of God until He was struck with the truth - that Jesus did away with all of that.  Obedience is still in effect, but not so that one can just check of a "do to" list and call it good.  We aren't to be like the Pharisees, legalistic in our thinking.   
    “The Jewish people all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that I conformed to the strictest sect of our religion, living as a Pharisee.  Acts 26:40-5
Paul (then named Saul) learned the truth. He realized he had been in error, living as a Pharisee and as a persecutor of Christians and Jesus, himself.  The Lord told him what to do to restore his eyesight.  Immediately after, he was baptized.  Not only was Paul's name changed, but his heart was changed!

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Acts 9:17-19

So, God doesn't want us to have that Pharisaical, rules-only, strictest religion.  What does He want us to have?  He tells us in the scriptures below:

Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 
1 Timothy 5:1-4 NIV

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.     James 1:26-27

These scriptures say that we should take care of your own families....repay our parents and grandparents for all they have done for us.  It pleases God.  And we should keep a tight rein on our tongues.....and care for orphans and widows....and keep ourselves polluted by the world.  WOW!  That's quite a list, isn't it???!

Different Bible translations have a few more "religion" references in them.  I think Colossians 2 pretty much sums up the whole idea that Paul learned and that God wants us to know about His Son and Our Savior.  It's a life of freedom in Christ, but also striving to be obedient.  It's not a legalistic obedience, but an obedience because of our love for God for what Jesus has done.  

Please take the time to read Colossians 2 in the link below (Bible Gateway, NKJV).  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What Are You Known For?

In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!” 
Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.
Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. Acts 9:36-42

Yesterday I had to go to Oklahoma City. For a small-town girl, it's always exciting to be in "The City".  Lots of places to go that we don't have around here.  As I shopped around and looked.....saw the many, many stores and different places, I got to thinking about all of the things we women can do or may do away from service-type places. This is for women (or men on some) whether in a big city or not, because we can drive to do them.

Besides shopping for clothes, food, or home decor, we can get our hair cut, fixed, and colored; get our nails done; work out at a gym; drink coffee with friends; go to shows, play games, attend sporting events and concerts.  Of course there is work - either at home or away from activities, children's extra-curricular activities, and the work of the church.

Although none of those things is bad, in and of itself, if we're not really careful, we can allow our selves to get so busy with things for "self" and our own pleasure that we don't have time to do anything else.  We will not have time to do things for others, being a servant of the Lord, if we get too involved and focused on self.  

As I thought about this "problem", I thought about Dorcas from the passage above.  She didn't, nor did anyone in Bible times, take the time for "self" that we are capable of doing now. Imagine how different it would be if we read God's Word and all it was about was how they spoiled themselves or entertained themselves with worldly affairs.  Now some did do worldly things and got into trouble because of it, just like we do, but we certainly don't see that from Dorcas, do we?

Dorcas was always doing good and helping the poor. That's what we know about her.  And that's enough to know about her, isn't it?

What will be said about you?  What will you be known for?  How do you want to be known?  Do you want to be known as a selfish, self-serving/pleasing person or do you want to be known as someone who was always doing good?  It's a pretty easy answer for most of us.  Most of us want to be known for doing good.  If we do, we'll have to get rid of self!  So, let's get to work, okay?

Monday, January 6, 2014

What Does the Lord Ask of YOU?

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good? Deuteronomy 10:12-13

Although this was written thousands of years ago, this message is still true for God's people. He still wants His children to fear Him, to walk in obedience, to love Him, to serve Him, and to observe His commands.  And the reason?  It's the same as is stated in this passage: it's for our own good.

God's Word is our guide. It can help us through any and every situation. It can guide us, inspire us, discipline us, and advise us.  It's all for our own good.  Anything we need to know about, we can find help for in God's Word. It is relevant for today, just as it was those thousands of years ago.

This week, strive to live out this scripture.  Strive to fear Him in a way that causes you to realize that He loves you, but will also serve as your eternal judge.  Make it your goal to walk in obedience to Him in every aspect of your life.  Love Him with your whole being...keeping Him in the center of your whole life and never allowing anything to take His place.  Serve the Lord with all of your heart and soul.  Serving Him will mean serving others and putting their needs and His work before your own.  Observe His commands.  Strive to follow His commands....again...putting your own desires on the back-burner. And do it because you know that it is best for you to do so.  He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. He blesses those who strive to follow Him with their whole heart.  But, in doing so, you are being a blessing to others.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy 2014!

I've taken a blogging break during the holiday season, so that my focus and time could be on my family more than my "work".  So, the above photo (from our Parents After God's Own Heart Facebook and Instagram sites) would have been better posted a few days ago, but still is good to think about.
Our family came up with one word we would use as our focus word for the 2014 year.  We each also came up with our own word that would be our focus for the year. I loved this quote from about resolutions.  So many do try to change things for themselves only, instead of trying to be what God wants them to be.  Too many make resolutions based (it appears, anyway) only upon self.  

As you go into 2014, pray and meditate on God's Word.  Strive to listen for His voice through the scriptures.  Strive to become what He wants you to be....and what He knows you can be!

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