12.29.2010

Here...in the now

What a profound impact words can have on us.  A few words carelessly thrown around can wreak a lifetime of pain and havoc just as an equally few loving, well-placed words can produce years of joy.  The blog A Holy Experience sends out powerful words that carry lifechanging potential.  Please prayerfully consider a short selection from today's post The Only Place to Really Live.
 
 The snow's falling and my mind's racing ahead with all of the things that need to be done and there's still the pots and pans soaking and the laundry to be switched over and learning plans to be sketched out for the new year and how many emails that should have been responded to last week because there are real people that I really care about at the end of those notes and I have to get to the post office today and the calendar squares are fattening a year that isn't even born yet and I am only a little bit terrified of how to live.
The snow's so quiet, coming straight down… knowing where it's going.
I'm wiping off the table. It strikes me: I am not here. My mind's lunging ahead, already dashing onto the next and the next and the next, tripping over this and that and falling all over the future that isn't.
I profane this moment when I won't stay in it.
I desecrate now when I dismiss it in my push for the next. There are snowflakes sticking to the glass of the window.Right there at the table's edge I can see them clustering together, piling, melding on the pane. I almost missed it.
I miss living this moment because my head's already moved into the next moment — the one that isn't even here yet — and when I am not in this moment but trying to shove into a moment that doesn't even exist — I miss out on living at all. I may bodily be in this space but I am not even alive.
Could I be walking through the years but not even be alive?
 
"When I am present to the Presence of God meeting us in this moment, I am not worrying, I am not regretting, I am not chaffing, griping, fuming, fretting.
Be all here: and be holy.
Be all here: and be happy.
Because the Presence of I AM always fills the present moment.
Be all here and be at peace… content… awake —- Alive. When I am mindful of this moment, the mind fills with God and the heart fills with peace and joy-thanks fills the prayers and isn't the only way God can come to us is through the door of this moment? Here.
The flakes are larger now. Lingering. Their lacy edges entwine. This is the thing, the real thing of living —- Notice now: and you win joy. God is beautiful here.
I say yes to Him and the year of here and press my hand against the cool of the window.
Joy's a snowflake on the sill — it lives only here in this moment."

 

The statement that says "I profane this moment when I won't stay in it."  really grabbed my attention.  How many moments of every day do I profane?  How many sunrises, sunsets, and other brief moments my loving Heavenly Father intends as surprise blessings for me each day whoosh by completely unnoticed as I lunge ahead missing the beautiful gift of now. 
 
Making resolutions and setting goals each year aren't something I usually do.  I get tired of missing the mark and being disappointed so I just skip the entire process.  Yet something about this writing today has drawn me to contemplate the coming year with a greater determination.  This determination is starting to encompass a number of aspects in my daily life.  As the new year comes to us in that swift way it has, may we spend the few days remaining in this year living in the moment called now, embracing the wonder of today. 
 
"So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom.  Let Your work [the signs of Your power] be revealed to Your servants, and Your [glorious] majesty to their children.  And let the beauty and delightfulness and favor of the Lord our God be upon us; confirm and establish the work of our hands--yes, the work of our hands, confirm and establish it."  Psalm 90:12,16,17
 
"So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own.  Sufficient for each day is its own trouble." Matthew 6:34

--
 

12.27.2010

Warmth of Love

The warmth of the sun permeated the vehicle as we made our way home following a visit with loved ones.  After several days of overcast skies and cold temperatures, the sun's brightness and warmth were eagerly welcomed.  Wonderingly, coats were removed, extra sweaters shed, and windows opened periodically to "let in some fresh air".   How could just a few miles make so much difference?  As I think about the drastic difference between the weather at the start of our trip home and the weather at it's end, I can't help but consider the effect of God's love on our hearts and lives. 

Talk about a drastic difference!  Without God's love in our lives, our hearts are cold, bruised, broken, and weary, much like the bitter cold of an overcast sky.  Our viewpoint is focused solely on ourselves.  When the warmth of God's love enters our heart, however, His love does more than merely warm the cold places.  It heals our bruised and battered lives and infuses us with a mighty strength that only the Father can give.  We find ourselves considering others instead of ourselves, and everyone around us can bask in the Love of God shining out from us.  Not only are we healed and made whole by His love, but those around us can receive a healing touch by God through us.  God's love doesn't stay hidden inside of us.  It fills us up and runs over onto all those around us.  People who come in contact with us each day can experience the infusing warmth of God's love as it begins to permeate their lives.  Just as the sunshine's warmth permeated our vehicle yesterday, the warmth of God's love will permeate those around us and bring a healing touch to their hearts and lives.

Oh dear Lord,
I pray that everywhere I go, every word I say, and everyone I come in contact with today will be able to experience Your love flowing out from me to them.  May Your healing touch heal their broken hearts, bruised and battered spirits, and may others know of You and Your intensely extravagant love for them.  As the warmth of Your love fills me to overflowing, may the overflow touch someone's life today.  Thank You for the healing warmth of Your love, In Jesus' name, Amen.

12.15.2010

Have You Ever...

OK, I was going to concentrate really hard on enjoying the Christmas season with my family and not post much.  However...an "event" last night left me with no choice.  I  had to share yet another "Have You Ever...?" saga in my life's story. 

Last night was the baby shower of a dear friend.  Having received the best-ever receiving blanket after the birth of my last child, I now think that everyone else having a baby must receive one too.  So, as usual, instead of sewing these gifts as soon as I learned about the upcoming shower, I waited until the afternoon of and put together a couple of all-purpose cloths and one of the best-ever receiving blankets.  All went well except for the fact that after arranging everything nicely for wrapping, a little something else was needed---something like a cute little pink bunny.  No problem.  There's still a fair amount of time left, ok maybe just a little bit of time.  Anyway, the bunny is put together and stuffed.  Only there isn't time to stitch the face and sew the opening up both.  Well, reasoning that stitching the opening would be easier to do in a moving vehicle by booklight than embroidering the face, I pin the opening and stick it in the bundle just to see how cute it all looks together. 

Now things are hectic.  We need to leave in 15 minutes, I'm not dressed or fixed up, and the gift needs to be wrapped.  What does anyone reasonable woman do in a situation like this?  They do one thing at a time of course.  So I request that one child grab the wrapping paper in my room and another one grabs some ribbon.  I slap carefully place the gift bundle inside the paper, tape it up, tie on the ribbon, slip in the tag, change my clothes, throw on my face, and away we go!  Have you noticed the problem yet?  Uh-huh, in the frantic dash to get out of the door on time, I totally forgot I was going to finish sewing the bunny on the way to town.  Said bunny is now safely bundled up in an already wrapped gift.  

Imagine my horrified surprise when my friend unwrapped her gift, exclaimed over the cute bunny and pulled it out---pins and all.  AND of course I couldn't just sit there quietly and tell her about the mistake later.  Noooooooooo, I burst out "I forgot to finish sewing it together!  Oh my goodness!  I left the pins in!"  for all of the other shower goers to hear, as if they couldn't see for themselves.  Thankfully I was among friends and we all laughed together.  It was only in my wildly imaginative mind that I could hear them wondering how on earth anyone could possibly do something like that.

Oh well, I happen to know that there are still a couple of other "Have You Ever...?" stories running around out there.   Besides, I'm just adding to this year's Christmas Cheer.

12.12.2010

A Great, Comforting Word


Francis Frangipane:
He Sees the End from the Beginning and He Will Make a Way
Taxes, threat of terror attacks, illness and aging, finances, political conflicts, family relationships, church struggles, fears, insurance issues, air travel impositions, job loss, gasoline prices, war, injustice, death – these are just a few of the enemies most of us face daily. Yet, let me also tell you what the Lord has spoken to my soul:
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
The Lord doesn't want us to simply possess a generalized peace, based on having no particular problems; nor does He plan to give us a slightly spiritual, yet human-sized kind of peace. If we follow the sequence of obedience He presents, His intention is to shelter us in His very own peace: the imperturbable peace of God.
The peace of God is the deep calm that envelops the thought processes of the Almighty. He is never anxious, always in command, never without a remedy. He sees the end from the beginning and views the needs of man from the position of unlimited resources and capabilities. He perceives the needs of His children with both compassion and confidence, for all things are possible for Him.
The peace He gives is not only from Him, it is an extension of Him – it is the very substance of His peace. It is God-sized peace. It is this divine fabric that He says will "guard [our] hearts and...minds in Christ Jesus."
Amazing.
Many Verses Same Promise
Some may challenge my interpretation, but remember the Savior's promise:
"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful" (John 14:27).
Again, Paul says,
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful" (Colossians 3:15).
These Scriptures and others reveal that there exists a place of refuge for us, a dimension guarded by God's very peace, where we can abide. As we enter this realm of trust, the God of peace promises to actually crush satan beneath our feet (Romans 16:20).
Give Peace A Chance
Of course, we must decide what realm shall preside over us. Thus, the Scripture says, "Let the peace of Christ rule," and "Do not let your heart be troubled," and "Let your requests be made known to God." The word let speaks of choices we can make with realities that are at hand. Remember, even as circumstances begin to trouble your heart, you can retreat from fear. For the peace of God is also accessible. Take authority over your fretting, worrying attitude, for "it leads only to evildoing" (Psalm 37:8). Stand, instead, in faith upon the promises of God.
Peace is our shield and the Word of God our weapon. Therefore, capture negative, unbelieving thoughts that would magnify problems rather than magnify the Lord. Our Father knows what we have need of before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8).
Cease striving and know that He is God! If you are weary, come to Him and take His yoke upon you. You will find rest for your soul. Finally, recall Paul's words to make our requests "with thanksgiving." Many have been thinking too much and thanking too little. Therefore, let us cast our burdens upon the Lord, for He indeed cares for us. He will make a way.
Francis Frangipane
Ministries of Francis Frangipane
Email: francis1@frangipane.org
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12.09.2010

200 POSTS!!!

200 POSTS!  Can you believe it?  200 times I have sat at this computer and posted something to this blog.  Wow!  That's a lot of posting, and that's a lot of time.  Wow.  This post is beginning to sound like a broken record.  Sorry about that.  200 posts just seems so much more than 100 did.  OK, enough about that topic.  Let's move on.  HOPEFULLY...by the time we have completed our visit, Colonel Redeemed (16 yrs. old son) will have ceased making a comment on every single sentence I type :)  He's "spending time with his mother".  We won't tell that this is something he is supposed to do for a youth assignment.  Oops, too late.  Sorry, Colonel Redeemed. 

Speaking of Colonel Redeemed, I am so thankful for the children God has rewarded me with. (Psalm 127:3)  They are a ton of fun!  No, they are not always fun, but they are fun a lot.  THAT is the part I am thankful for this day, the fun part.  Laughing together is one of my favorite things about our larger family. 
When I was a child growing up with the dream of someday being a mother, the greatest blessings of motherhood never even crossed my mind.  My sweet, little childhood dream of motherhood didn't hold a candle to reality.  The joys are infintely greater, but then again, so are the sorrows.  Everything about motherhood is greater.  Actually, everything about life is magnified when compared with what I dreamed it would be. 

As a result of it all, good or bad, gain or loss, I am a better person.  I am less selfish, more observant, less critical, more patient.   I see things I wouldn't have ever seen by myself, and my family has experienced things they wouldn't have without me.  Together we are stronger, happier, and better than any of us would be alone.  One of the greatest blessings in my life is being a part of WE rather than merely being ME. Thank you Lord for the WE that keeps me from majoring in ME.  May WE together always look unto THEE.  In Christ's name, Amen.

On my way out the door, I want to tell you about a couple of really fun things going on.  First things first.  I'm not sure I've ever done this before, but I'm mentioning a TV show that might be enjoyable.  It is on Mondays and Wednesdays, 8 p.m.CT.  The show is titled The Sing Off.  It features several groups of singers who perform songs from various genres and eras acapella before a panel of three judges and an audience.  That's right, everything must be done acapella. The show is similar in form to American Idol, but much, much better.  Each time, two groups are voted off with the remaining groups continuing to compete for a $100,000 prize, recording contract, and something else I can't remember right now.  The musicality in this show is OFF THE CHARTS!  The Sing Off  is my new favorite TV show.  Considering how much I enjoy some of my other shows, that is saying something.  Also, I realize that there are many,  many varying opinions on television out there.  For those who are of the "It's evil.  Don't watch it." camp, please don't send me any negative emails or attack comments.  Those who do enjoy TV, I hope you like the show too.  It would be really fun to have more like this aired. 

Well, I guess I only have one really fun thing to tell you.  I forgot the other.  Need to drink more water.  It's supposed to help with that forgetting thing.  Until our next visit, keep on having a Merry Christmas season!

12.08.2010

A Branch Shall Grow Out of His Roots

"There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots." Isaiah 11:1

Jesus is that Branch! He is the One who was born in the city of David a Savior, Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11) Here at A Mother's Rewards we are doing something brand new this Christmas season. We are creating a Jesse Tree.

A Jesse Tree can take many different shapes and forms. Some may be sewn of cloth. Others may be constructed of paper. A Christmas tree, branches, whatever a person is able to use works just fine. Each day of the advent season we read a devotion and put an ornament that represents that day's devotion on our tree. The devotional we are using came to us by way of http://www.aholyexperience.com/. A Jesus Advent Celebration...every day unwraps more of His love ~ Jesse Tree Journey by Ann Voskamp and Nancy Rodden is the ebook devotional that is becoming one of my new favorite parts of the Christmas season. Each day I am refreshed and my focus is redirected towards Christ. The peace that renewed focus brings is a gift beyond compare. I've said it before, and I'll probably say it again "I am one Blessed Mama", and it's all because of Jesus.

Time is rapidly speeding by. It won't be long until Christmas has come and past. Long after the lights have been dimmed and the wrappings thrown away the love of God through Christ will still be flowing through those who know and love Him. May the blessings of Christmas be yours in greater measure.

12.07.2010

Better Late Than Never

"

When reading through my emails this morning I came across something that touched my heart like nothing has for a while, One Thousand Gifts. It isn't Monday, but after reading the post from http://www.aholyexperience.com/ I had to begin my thousand gift list. The gifts simply won't wait to be listed. No. 1-20

* children's laughter
* beautiful piano music providing the perfect backdrop
* the jingle of Christmas bells on the door
* the crispness of white paper
* the songs of a four-year-old
* a little brother's concern for his "big" sister
* the rattle of teaspoons in the kitchen
* food in the pantry
* Christmas gifts that are almost complete
* Secret blessings for others
* whispers between sisters in the dark
* children playing and working together
* hazel-green eyes shining up at me
* requests for "another book?"
* sunshine shining on the frost
* a warm fire in the stove
* a child's desire to give to others
* warm embraces of love
* the symphony of nature outside my door
* the nudge of my dog's wet nose looking for attention

Thankfulness is contagious. I want to catch it still more. How about you? Willing to join me in counting one thousand gifts? Let's not stop at merely one thousand. Let's continue counting on and on and on.

12.04.2010

Settling Down and Earning the Bread We Eat

Recently while reading an article in a book on mothering, I came across this advice given by Judge Phillip Gilliam of Denver, CO.   Apparently some of the young people in his city had been asking what there was to do.  Here is the Judge Gilliam's reply:

"Go home! Hang the storm windows, paint the woodwork, rake the leaves, mow the lawn, wash the car, learn to cook, scrub the floors, repair the swing, build a boat, get a job, help the poor, study your lessons...and when you are through and not too tired, read a good book!"

What marvelous advice!  Some days I need to remember Judge Gilliam's advice myself.  Most days find me beyond happy and content at home, but sometimes...thoughts of how much more time I would have if I didn't homeschool and other discontented nonsense waft through. Those days when my thoughts begin to drift out towards the sea of discontent, I need to "Get back home! to the Word of God with my thoughts.  2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 says this "We hear that some among you are idle.  They ar enot busy; they are busybodies.  Such people we command urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat." 

So often in our society, we develop an attitude that each of us has a right to be entertained and provided with pleasant activities with which to occupy our days.  How much happier many would be if they discovered the hidden joy of being busy at home.  Even simple, humble tasks can produce great satisfaction and happiness.  If only more people in positions of authority would share such wise advice as Judge Gilliam has, what a difference would be seen among the youth.

12.01.2010

Travel Kits - A Great Gift for Anytime

Good Afternoon!




Blessed Mama here with a fun idea for gift-giving any time of the year---Christmas too, Travel Kits. Travel kits are a fun and unique way of blessing others---or your own family. They are special gifts filled with fun little treats and/or activities to make travel time more enjoyable. While small children (and their families) would obviously benefit from such a thoughtful gift, travel gifts are for any and every age of traveler. Imagine the fun opening little surprises throughout a trip would bring. I’m sure that many a mama fills a special bag with activities and treats to occupy her children during travel, but imagine receiving such a bag from a friend where each item was boxed up or wrapped in a special way. Just opening each item would provide oodles and scoodles of fun. Receiving such a surprise would be great, now think of how much more fun such a treat would be to give. Not only are travel kits tons of fun, they can also be assembled in fantastic frugal fashion.



Travel kits are also one of the featured ideas found in the December Molly Membership Resources. Molly Members receive a free ebook on creating travel kits in December. If you haven’t signed up to become a Molly Member, this month would be an excellent time to do so. December’s Molly’s Digest can be purchased for $4.95 OR anyone can sign up for a monthly membership and receive the digest and membership resources for just $3.95. The Travel Kits ebook in December’s resources provides enough gift-giving ideas to pay for the cost of monthly membership several times over---and there are more resources besides! If for any reason a person wishes to cancel their membership, they may do so with no hassle--nada. Each month’s digest contains a weekly menu with recipes and grocery list included for printing out, printable forms for household organization, and many more frugal ideas for fun, decorating, and family time. As if all of that weren’t enough, Molly members also receive bonus resources for FREE pertaining to each month’s topic. What a great gift to yourself or someone else Molly Membership would be.



Travel Kits are a great example of Living Large on Less. However, if a person’s budget doesn’t require Living on Less, assembling Travel Kits would still be fun. Yes, A Mother’s Rewards and Living Large on Less are affiliates of Molly’s Digest, however…even if we weren’t, we would still be spreading the news about Travel Kits. We can’t wait to put some together ourselves. If you catch the Travel Kit bug too, please send us an email along with pictures at amothersrewards@gmail.com.  We'd love to share in the fun.

11.27.2010

Season of Love

The holiday season is a time for celebrating, a time for togetherness, and a time for joy.  However...it can also be a time of intense stress.  Family gatherings have a tendency to bring out the best and the worst in people.  There's always someone, somewhere wanting to know all the knitty gritty about something that is none of their business, and the children...the poor children.  Between the lack of schedule, sleep, abundance of treats, and the stress of adults,  it's nothing short of a miracle when any of them behave somewhat normally. 
 
How do I combat what can only be termed blessedly wonderful chaos, Lord?  As I go before the Father to prepare for the approaching holidays in prayer, He whispers in His still, calm voice "learn of Me."   "Learn of Me.  I am Love. Learn of Love. Learn of Me. Abide in Me. Follow the way of Love.  Follow Me." *
 
 Aaaahhhhhhhhhh, He's done it again.  In HIs still, calming way, God the Holy Spirit has led me in the way I am to go.  How He does it, I don't know.  I'm just ever so glad He does. 
 
It's Christmas time, but a song of Easter is singing through my heart.  "Christ the Lord is risen today,  Al-le-lu-ia!  sons of men and angels say: Al-le-lu-ia! Raise your joys and triumphs high, Al-le-lu-ia!  Sing, ye heav'ns and earth reply, Al-le-lu-ia!"  It really is ALL about Jesus.
"Lives again our glorious King: Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Dying once, He all doth save: Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!
 
Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won: Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids Him rise; Alleluia!
Christ has opened Paradise. Alleluia!
 
Soar we now, where Christ had led, Alleluia!
Foll'wing our exalted Head; Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise; Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies. Alleluia!"
Charles Wesley
from Lyra Davidica
 
 
*Some of the scriptures related to Word in post: 1 John 4:8, John 15:9,10, 1 Corinthians 13, 1 Corinthians 14:1, Luke 6:27, Romans 12:9,10, Galatians 5:6,13, Ephesians 3:17-19, 5:1,2, Philippians 2:2, 1 Thessalonians 4:9, Hebrews 13:1  
 
 
 
 

What is my life saying?

Christmas season has begun!  Black Friday deals abound both online and in stores.  For those who plan ahead and already have their Christmas shopping complete, now is the perfect time to utilize price reductions and restock the pantry and/or replenish the gift stash for other celebrations throughout the coming year.  Do your children get invited to a lot of birthday parties for their friends?  Now would be an ideal time to stash away some little gifts just for that purpose. 
However, not everyone is able to stock up or stash away right now.  Some may not be sure Christmas will even happen at their house this year.  Still others are just praying they have a house to live in come Christmas.  Living Large on Less has "been there, done that", and we want to send encouragement to anyone who may find themselves in a season that is lacking financial abundance.
Christmas is about much more than gifts and extravagant abundance.  The sights and sounds all around us sometimes scream so loudly that the true meaning of our holiday celebrations is all but drowned out.  As with every decision when living a Living Large on Less lifestyle, a person must first determine in their heart and mind a course of action.  I personally have found celebration to be an attitude of the heart that manifests itself in physical acts.  How, when, and where this attitude of celebration will be revealed is up to each person or family individually.  
Today's idea is one that practically anyone can use.  It is extremely versatile using supplies that can be adapted according to individual situations and budgets.  This simple activity can be done singly or in a group by anyone from one to 101!   Supplies used are varied ranging from the simplest of simple to elegantly extravagant.  When I say that this is an activity everyone can participate in, it's the truth---honest!  So what is this amazing activity?  Making paper snowflakes!  Calm down, calm down.  I can hear the groans from here - seriously I can.  Oh wait!  That's the wind.  Sorry about that.  My mistake.  Please don't close the blog down yet.  You'll be missing out if you do.  
Let me assure you that ANYONE can learn to make a paper snowflake.  I finally did, after I had children of my own.  The memories of misshapen, ugly cut up pieces of paper I crafted in grade school are nightmares of the past.  Now, snipping paper snowflakes out of copy paper has become a personal tradition that I eagerly anticipate.  It's a sure sign that Christmas is coming when Mama starts making snowflakes.  
Don't have copy paper? no problem.  Pages from old magazines (please make sure the magazine isn't being saved by anyone and everyone has read it), old newspapers, colorful flyers, scrapbook paper, construction paper, paper bags, photocopies of music, wrapping paper, pretty much any kind of paper can be used.  Not only does color and texture not matter, size of paper can vary as well.  Just remember that the smaller the piece of paper, the smaller the snowflake and more difficult the cutting.  
A large variety of how-to tutorials can be found online.  I've included a link to one of my favorites right here.  As one of the how-to articles I read says, all that is required is paper, scissors, patience, and creativity.  Grab some paper, your scissors, and let the paper snippets fly!
OK, now that you have dozens of these flaky critters surrounding your house, what do you do with them?  Whatever you want!  Seriously.  They can be arranged on top of a dark colored tablecloth and covered with a layer of sheer fabric for an elegant tabletop.  Snowflakes can also be attached to ribbon and hung at the window.  Using varying lengths of ribbon enhances this look.   A whimsical "curtain" can be crafted by stitching snowflakes together like this talented crafter did here.  Snowflakes can also be mounted on a dark background and placed in a frame for inexpensive, yet elegant seasonal art.  Grandparents would treasure such a gift for years.  Snowflakes can also be used as doilies on serving trays and under dishes at a Christmas/Winter tea/special gathering.  Need a background for a scrapbook?  Adhere paper snowflakes to black scrapbook pages for instant WOW.  The uses of snowflakes are practically endless.  I have some scraps of black velvet that just might be calling out to some snowflakes to join them in becoming new Winter art.  
Here's the newest member of our snowflake family!  I made my first one last night and have the paper cut out for a small one to put together later.  Through the years we have crafted many different snowflakes.  Windows of four different houses have had snowflakes hanging in them.  Some of the snowflakes have been elegantly glittered with opalescent glitter, some have hung among glittered styrofoam "snowballs".(Christmas lights reflect beautifully off of opalescent glitter)  No matter the size or shape, paper snowflakes are one of our family's most loved signs of the season.  I'm sure they can become one of yours as well.  Have fun!  Abundantly Blessed --

11.25.2010

Repeat


Note: This is an article that was posted previously. Lately, I've been sensing that some of the posts written earlier on are to be shared again during the few remaining weeks of summer. Please don't forget to join us over at Abundance House blog http://abundancehouse.blogspot.com/  during the next few weeks. We're going to be hosting a new series featuring ideas that cost nothing, that's right nothing. Enjoy the rest of summer. We'll be starting new and fresh in the fall. Harvest is coming. Love & Prayers, Blessed Mama

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Yesterday in church, pastor's message was so good. I wish that everyone could have been there and heard it. The message was on David and Goliath. Life for us in America is changing faster than any of us can comprehend, let alone keep up with. Often these changes and the fear and unrest which bombard us from every side can seem like a giant. In light of this fact, the message God led pastor to deliver yesterday was divinely timed, as usual.


As soon as I realized what passage of scripture the sermon was from, I immediately became excited in my spirit. I love all of God's Word, but if I had to choose one story as my favorite, it would be the one pastor spoke on yesterday, David and Goliath. My most favorite part of the entire story is when David says in 1 Samuel 17:26 "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?" Was David a soldier? No, but he was a warrior. Time spent in the fields tending his father's sheep had trained him and strengthened his trust in the one, true living God. He knew that if God could deliver him from a lion and bear nothing could hurt him. Especially not an uncircumcised Philistine.


How many uncircumcised Philistines do we have lurking in our lives? You know what I'm talking about. Those lies that the enemy loves to hurl at us day after long, tiring day. Insults, condemnation, falsehoods with just enough fact to masquerade as truth. I once heard a teaching that provided great enlightenment for me personally about a particular strategie the enemy uses. It concerned 1 Timothy 2:3 which says to "Endure hardship with us like a good soldier for Christ Jesus." The word hardship in this verse actually translates as a wearing down of the mind as a result of mental attack day after day after day. Isn't that exactly how the enemy does it? Occasionally there will be an all out attack, but usually it is nothing more than little jabs delivered day in, day out for days, months, perhaps years on end. Over time, the mind becomes weary and stressed. Once this happens, the enemy often doesn't even have to attack us. In our weary stupor we open the door wide and invite him in. Sometimes the enemy even receives the royal treatment as in the tiredness of our minds we become deceived and view God incorrectly. If we remain in this condition very long, we find ourselves reverting to former ways of behavior and thought. We return to serving and relying on ourselves rather than our loving heavenly Father. Instead of resting in the promises of God our Savior we roll around in the lying mire of deceipt and error. Before long, truth looks wrong and the F.E.A.R.=False Evidence Appearing Real around us seems to be true.


This is where David's brothers along with the rest of Israel's army found themselves. Day after day out came this heathen giant taunting them. Goliath, one of the giants of Gath hurled insult after insult at the armies of the living God. How was it that one, young shepherd boy stood fearlessly up to this taunting menace when an entire army quivered and quaked? The shepherd boy was more God conscious than evil conscious. The one, true living God, the Alpha and Omega, the deliverer from the bear and lion was greater on the inside of David than the evil, taunting, uncircumcised giant was on the outside. Perhaps we could say that David knew that "greater is He who is in me than He who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).


How secure was David in God? So secure that he can be found encouraging the entire Israeli army in verse 32 of 1 Samuel when he told Saul "Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him." OK, not only is this shepherd boy unafraid, he actually encourages those around him. Now would be a good time for us to recall that the men David is encouraging are experienced soldiers. They aren't other young boys such as he is. These men have fought in the name of the Living God. I'm sure that some of these soldiers have conquered in the name of the Most High God. They may have even experienced great victories in war. Yet here these mighty military men are cowering in the face of such evil opposition. But David...


David, a shepherd boy is firm in his resolve. No matter what argument those experienced soldiers around him give, he continues in his quest. He will not back down. No uncircumcised Philistine is going to stand there and defy the armies of the living God in his presence. No way! Nothing is getting in David's way either. Faultfinding brothers (vs. 28)nor untried armor (vs.38-39) deterred him. David went forth using what he knew (vs.40) and faced that ugly, menacing enemy Goliath. Now, it's about to get really good. As many times as I've heard this story told, I've never heard the next part expounded on by anyone. However, I simply have to bring it out. To me, it's one of the most exhilarating parts! Verses 41-44 tells of how Goliath kept coming closer, measuring David up. He looked David up and down. When Goliath saw that he was being faced down by a boy, he threw a fit. Goliath cursed at David and threatened to throw his carcass to the birds and beasts. Did you catch that? The enemy was insulted! He was totally ticked off! Why? Was it because Goliath was afraid of David? No, it was because Goliath was looking in the flesh, and the flesh can only see the outside. That's all the enemy ever can see. I love it! When God sent his warrior to the battle, the enemy saw a young, shepherd boy and became enraged.


What an insult that must have been to Goliath. Such a giant must have expected to be met by Israel's strongest, toughest soldier, if not the entire army. After days of hurtling taunts and threats the giant was met by one, unarmored boy. Victory didn't look promising for Israel at this point. I'm sure that David's brothers were beside themselves. How many times have you stepped out in faith only to be met by the scorn and criticism of others? How many times did it come from brothers and sisters in Christ? Like David, facing the giants in our lives is often done alone. However we have armor that fits perfectly. Armor which our loving heavenly father so abundantly provides. (Eph. 6:10-18)

OK, here we go, the showdown. David's response to Goliath's challenge never fails to stir up my insides. 1 Samuel 17:45 "Then said David to the Philistine, You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the ranks of Israel, Whom you have defied.
46This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will smite you and cut off your head. And I will give the corpses of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.
47And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord's, and He will give you into our hands." Yes! Not only did David face Goliath head on, not only did he believe God would deliver him from Goliath, but David also believed that he would have victory over the entire Philistine army!



Too many times my spirit becomes dulled and insensitive to the Lord as the world around me heaps change after ungodly change much like the insults of Goliath were hurled at Israel. Yet the Lord of hosts, the God of the ranks of Israel is no respector of persons. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is God and He changes not. If He be on my side, who can be against me? He has said in Isaiah 54:17 that no weapon formed against me shall prosper. He has promised to never leave me or forsake me. Luke 10:19 tells me that I have been given authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy. That nothing shall harm me. (emphasis mine)


Do I live like God's words are true to me? Am I resolved like David? Do I look at the deceiving lies of the enemy and say "Who is this that they would defy a child of the living God?" or like the army of Israel do I quiver and quake in the face of hurtling insults and threats. When the world's threats of economic failure, sickness, disease, famine, this, that, and the other thing are hurled at me from every side, who am I? Am I a warrior of the most high God or a quaking soldier cowering in F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real?


As we endure the hardships like good soldiers of Christ Jesus let's remember David, the shepherd boy of the most High God. Let's remember that just as God delivered David from the bear, the lion, and the giant, He will deliver us from whatever giants we face. Let's put on our armor and stand knowing that Psalm 91 and other scriptures of protection and provision are no less true today than they were last year. Nothing that affects the children of God has changed. We are still His children. He still loves us. He still cares for us. He still knows the hairs on our head. He still has thoughts of good towards us. (Psalm 139:17-18) If we have accepted Jesus as Savior, we are still healed, delivered, and saved. (Isaiah 53:4-5) May we not quiver and quake in fear, but may we stand resolved in total God confidence. "I pray that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God." (Philippians 1:9-11)

11.22.2010

Prophetic Word to Encourage

Every so often there is a prophetic word that simply must be shared.  The following word from Bobby Conner is one such word!  I pray you are encouraged and strengthened in your inner man as you prayerfully read the following message.  Giving Thanks to the Father for His mercy and love, Abundantly Blessed

The Elijah List & Breaking Christian News
http://www.elijahlist.com

Bobby Conner:
A Defining Time – Revealing True Champions
Deep within the beautiful woods of East Texas, sitting on my porch at the River House, a quaint little cottage nestled near the Angelina River, I commence to write this Shepherd's Rod 2011. Amazed at the magnificent trees, these huge oaks, soaring well over eighty to a hundred feet, are making a perfect canopy providing a shelter. It seems as if I am sitting in a Divine Sanctuary.
In the twilight moments, before sunrise, there is a stillness that is absolutely breathtaking. I've had the privilege to preach the Word of God for over four decades, yet there is deep within my soul a stirring to know God on a more personal intimate level than ever. Holy Spirit has stirred within me a holy hunger, my soul thirsts for God, for the Living God:
"O GOD, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is. So I have looked upon You in the sanctuary to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You."—Psalm 63:1–3 AMP
Brilliantly the morning sun slowly arises, the Eastern sky responding with a warm, welcoming glow. The rising light is gently beckoning the entire atmosphere to awake and experience the joy of the dawning of a new day.
Scores of songbirds, as if directed by a master conductor, respond on cue. Their songs are magnificently clear with amazing harmony; it is certainly supernatural. Their sound of celebration ignites feelings of gratitude deep within my soul, my spirit is refreshed and stirred listening to their timbre; it is as if I am listening to a fine-tuned symphony. My heart is filled with the passage, "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord" (Psalm 150:6).
Far in the distance, high in the sky, I hear the unique calls of huge flocks of geese, winging their journey south, signaling the change of the season. We too must grasp the changing tide before us, preparing ourselves for swift shifts and turbulent turns.
Learning to lean upon the guidance of Holy Spirit to navigate these days, we can walk in bold confidence, knowing God is in total control.
None need to stumble about in darkness and confusion, we can walk in total confidence, directed by God and His unchanging word:
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold; yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward.—Psalm 19:7–12 NKJV
This is the Season to Be Still and Know God
As the warm sunlight slowly caresses the huge trees, it reveals they are dressed in their magnificent fall leaves displaying colors so vivid and stunning no artist could paint. Each leaf is finely decorated in exquisite, vibrant color; they are extremely still, the peacefulness is truly tangible. In such an atmosphere it is easy to experience the God of the universe.
Peace can be discovered in some of the simplest settings. Christ Jesus is the Prince of Peace; He offers each of us lasting, abiding peace if we yield our life to Him.
In this fast-paced culture, it is sad to see multitudes so busy seeking to obtain happiness in every way except experiencing the pleasure of knowing God. Make up your mind right now: you are going to take time to get to know God in a deeper, more meaningful manner. It is in His presence fullness of joy is found (Psalm 16:11).
Never get so busy attempting to make a living that you forget to have a life. It is as we seek first God's Kingdom that all the other things are added to us.
But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His Kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.—Matthew 6:33 AMP
In the realm of the Spirit each of us can take full advantage of the dawning of a new day; this is the season to be still and know God.
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah!—Psalm 46:10–11 NKJV
This Will Be a Season of Divine Light
Please hear this: This will be a season of Divine Light. Even in the midst of chaos and confusion, the peace of God will keep all hearts that are casting all their cares upon the Lord.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]
Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.
For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.—Matthew 11:28–30 AMP
Embrace Christ's promise of rest and relief from the pressures and stress of this life; cast your cares upon HIM. This occurs when we take time to be doers of the Word, not just those who hear (see James 1:22).
Peace and tranquility of soul is found when we focus our entire mind and soul upon the Lord, then His surpassing peace keeps our mind bathed in blessed peace.
You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].—Isaiah 26:3–4 AMP
The battlefield is your mind, set your heart and mind upon good godly thoughts.
Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.
And God's peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]. Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace (of untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you.—Philippians 4:6–9 AMP
Get it settled in your heart, make this decree: "I choose to live a life of peace!" For those attempting to walk by the light of their own desires, this will be a time of torrent trouble.
Look, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with sparks: Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled—This you shall have from My hand: You shall lie down in torment.—Isaiah 50:11 NKJV
The choice is ours: We can attempt to direct our own path or we can surrender to the guidance of God and let Him have His way with our life. Make the wise choice of yielding control to Christ; after all, He is the Prince of Peace. Jesus admonishes us to let His peace control our life in John 14:1, "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me" (NKJV).
Swift Shifts
It is amazing how swiftly our world is changing, however in a changing world there is an anchor that is steadfast and sure: Christ Jesus. Know this change is now. Know for certain that your future will not look like your present (see Jeremiah 31:17). It is the will of God to transform each of us into a more detailed likeness of Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18 and Romans 12:2).
This is a time of defining, revealing the true champions of the Cross! In this time of confusion and chaos this could well be our finest hour. All over the earth people are seeking answers groping desperately for hope. We must seize the day, let our words be filled with the wisdom of God.
[The Servant of God says] The Lord God has given Me the tongue of a disciple and of one who is taught, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He wakens Me morning by morning, He wakens My ear to hear as a disciple [as one who is taught].—Isaiah 50:4 AMP
Ask God to give you the tongue of a taught one, knowing how to answer the tough questions people are facing. Now is our time to arise and boldly reflect the radiant splendor of Christ, shine forth the Light of God's great love.
ARISE [from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept you—rise to a new life]! Shine (be radiant with the glory of the Lord), for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you! For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and dense darkness [all] peoples, but the Lord shall arise upon you [O Jerusalem], and His glory shall be seen on you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
Lift up your eyes round about you and see! They all gather themselves together, they come to you. Your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried and nursed in the arms.
Then you shall see and be radiant, and your heart shall thrill and tremble with joy [at the glorious deliverance] and be enlarged; because the abundant wealth of the [Dead] Sea shall be turned to you, unto you shall the nations come with their treasures.—Isaiah 60:1–5 AMP
It is my earnest prayer that you will be enlightened and greatly encouraged by God's truths revealed in these pages. They serve only as a catalyst to ignite a deeper desire to know more concerning the ways and works of God.
You are not alone in your quest, for the Spirit of Truth will guide you. Christ Jesus states in John 14:26, "But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you" (AMP).
The Holy Spirit will direct you as you seek to walk in the Light of God.
You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and withheld not Your manna from them, and gave water for their thirst.—Nehemiah 9:20 AMP
Don't Draw Back, Be Bold and Very Courageous
May God bless you with courage to face the future with hope, confidence and unspeakable joy, full of His Glory and walking daily in His abundant mercies, revealing the truth if God be for us who can be against us. Even in the times of trouble, we are more than conquerors:
Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.—Romans 8:37
Don't draw back, be bold and very courageous, knowing that you are not facing any situation alone, Almighty God is with you; it is His presence that guarantees your success.
Have not I commanded you? Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.—Joshua 1:9 AMP
The Spirit of Truth will teach us the vast difference between fleshly arrogance and true Holy Spirit confidence. In our own fleshly power we can do nothing lasting for the Kingdom of God.
Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.
I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.—John 15:4–5
Amen!
Bobby Conner
Eagle View Ministries
Email: manager@bobbyconner.org
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11.15.2010

God Provides---Everything

For many in our nation, life has taken a turn; probably not what most would refer to as a good turn either.  The prophesied economic downturn has indeed hit the nation in a number of areas.  What does this mean for Christians, for believers in Jesus Christ?  Absolutely nothing.  I mean that quite literally.  Nothing, absolutely nothing.  If you are a believer and your family is in the middle of a new season of life, please don't take offense at the words just written.  They are true---just please hang in there.  I have a story to share, one that may take a while.  Maybe several days.  We'll just have to see how the Father leads.

Throughout our married life, My Beloved and I have lived by Faith in more seasons than not.  When I say "By Faith"  I mean literally and totally "By Faith" (utter and complete reliance and trust in the supernatural provision of God).  Now, for the sake of clarification, I will state that at times we were living by faith due to nothing more than the foolish decisions of youth.  No matter the reason, after gazing upon the balance in the bank account, supernatural provision from God was our only resource available to us time and time again.  Time after penniless time the only comfort we had to turn to was our belief and trust that Philippians 4:19 "And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus" was true.  The more arrows (children) the Lord added to our quiver (family), the more provision we found ourselves trusting for. 

At first, we did what any hardworking, independent set of young parents with two babies would have done.  We tried to figure it out ourselves.  Yeah, well, let's just say that a couple years of that approach were...well...less than successful.  As a matter of fact, we have only finished paying off the credit card balance from those early years within the past five years.  Word to the wise:  DON'T LIVE OFF OF YOUR CREDIT CARDS!!!  IT WILL NOT WORK!!!  Not to mention, God's provision is SO much better.  How do I know this?  I know this because I have been living a lifestyle of financial trust in God for many years.  Now a mother of six arrows in the quiver I have long since given up trying to figure out how to fix situations, circumstances, or people in my life.  I'm learning to live in a level of trust that was completely unknown to me all of those years ago.  God has been and always will be so good.

Financial trust in God doesn't happen overnight.  Trust must be learned.  To quote an evangelist I once heard "You can't trust someone you don't know, and you can't get to know someone you don't spend time with."  Yes, this applies to our relationship with God.  Ouch!  I know.  The truth of how little time I actually spend with God each day is a great concern of mine.   But what does trust have to do with getting by on next to nothing, nothing at all, or finding a new job?  Everything!  Let's visit a little longer, and I'll tell you more of my story.  Then I think you will be able to see.

One of the first steps toward financial trust in God was learning who God is and that He is good---all the time.  This isn't about adopting a religious cliche' thrown around among Christian circles several years ago.  It's about really, truly knowing God as He is rather than as He has been portrayed.  No, I'm not going off on some whacked out tangent.  Don't worry.  My story is biblically sound.  However, it may stretch a bit, and I definitely pray it will attack any and every religious attitude, thought, and opinion that has implanted itself in any brother or sister in Christ.  Not only do I pray that all religion is attacked, but I pray in the name of Jesus that all deception and false theology be broken off and removed.  Christianity is NOT a religion it is a relationship, and relationships must be nurtured.  They require the utmost care and attention, even devotion.

It is a sincere desire of my heart that somehow the depth of freedom our family experienced upon learning of God and the immensity of His love towards us be accurately expressed.   The more we learned of God's grace, His love, His truth, the more scale after ugly scale of deception fell away from our ears and eyes.  Step by glorious step of faith we were being set free from the bondages of religion!  Our loving heavenly Father kept bringing articles, magazines, teachings, and meetings in our lives that taught us His Word in its entirety.  We had both been raised in church.  Both of us were saved, Spirit-filled believers, but never had we experienced the Love of God like this before.  Like a hungry sponge I faithfully watched men and women of God on television every day.  I took notes and shared the truth from the Word of God with my small children as I learned it myself.  When My Beloved came home after work each day, he eagerly wanted to hear what had been learned that morning.  Often we would watch even more teachers at night.  We just couldn't get enough of Jesus.  For you see...we were desperate.  Church as usual just wasn't going to cut it for us.  It simply wasn't enough.  We needed more.  God either had to be exactly who He said He was in His Word and do exactly what He promised to do for His children in our lives or we were sunk.  We didn't have the luxury of following the Christian crowd.  We needed a miracle, and we needed it right now.

The phrases and words I'm using to tell my story may sound a bit dramatic, but storms and trials tend to be dramatic seasons in our lives, both physically and spiritually.  My Beloved and I were young, fiercely independent, and passionate.  We weren't the kind of people to do things half-way; it was all or nothing.  Learning about living by faith wasn't any different.  Over fourteen years have passed since the first sack of magazines about faith were given to me.  Fourteen years of trials, storms, and testings in the body, the soul, and the spirit.  Fourteen years of supernatural provision, healing, leading, and loving.  Fourteen years of blessing after glorious blessing.  When I look back at those fourteen years I wouldn't believe so much living could be packed into that amount of time, if I hadn't lived it that is.  God is SO good!!!

  • Did God supply our needs every, single time?  Yes He did---every, single time. 
  • Was it always in the way we expected?  Rarely, if ever. 
  • Did the provisions arrive on time?  Yes, according to God's time they did.  Were they ever late?  Not according to God's timing. 
  • Did you ever go without?  We have NEVER had to go without ANYTHING that we needed.  Learning the difference between want and true need is a lesson we have learned repeatedly in varying situations.  Often we have been unexpectedly blessed with our hearts deepest desires.   Even more often these blessings come from unexpected, almost ridiculous sources.  For example, while living in another town, a mother of 15 children brought us groceries every Friday.  15 children!  It simply does not make logical sense that a mother of 15 would be bringing a family of (then) 6 groceries, but that's another lesson we've learned: God rarely makes logical sense. 
  • Has learning to walk by faith been easy?  Not easy, divinely blessed.
  • Have all of the lessons learned been spiritual?  No.  Many practical, hands on tips and ways of living on less have been acquired as well.
  • Does it ever get easier?  Yes, it does.  There are still times when discouragement attempts to sidetrack us and make us loose focus, but when it does, we are able to defeat it and send it packing much more easily and rapidly than before.   
  • Any regrets?  Only that I didn't trust God more completely more quickly. 
  • Has it been worth it?  Yes, every step, every prayer, and every tear. 
  • Did you ever dream you would say that it had been worth it?  No, I never did. 
  • Is there ever an end to living the life of faith in God?  No, there is no end.  Only new beginnings, deeper revelations into who God is and the desires of His heart.
  • How did your family break out of the box of self-help and begin living a life surrendered to Jesus Christ?  By taking God at His Word.  We devoured the Bible like never before, and we had both been faithful readers and memorizers of the Word of God.  If God said it, we believed it.  Sounds simple, but it's not easy. 
  • Don't you worry about being misled by "faith preachers or prosperity preachers"?  No, not at all.  Some ministers are easier for us to understand and are more pleasant to learn from.  However, after listening to several ministers of the Gospel who have been labelled by many believers as "not OK", fourteen years later, we have yet to be taught anything that is any more out of context with the Bible than any other preacher.  Every minister makes mistakes.  Every minister incorrectly quotes the Word of God at some time or another while ministering.  Every minister learns, matures, and grows.  That's just something those who attend church are aware of.  We are listening to the Holy Spirit and following His guidance.  As long as the gospel isn't being compromised, we don't feel that merely human mistakes, such as any minister might make on any given Sunday, should be grounds for blackballing.  We haven't quit attending church at our local house of worship because of misquotations.  We know that the Holy Spirit is Faithful, and He will lead us safely.  I shudder to think of where we would be if it weren't for those Faith preachers and their prosperity messages.  If it weren't for the Love of God which they taught and their faithfulness to teach the Word of God in its entirety, even the hard stuff most ministers won't touch, I'm honestly not certain our family would still be in church today.  The toughest, most challenging messages on selling out to Jesus, denying ourselves, and crucifying our flesh for the purpose of obeying the Word of God we've ever been taught have come from those "nasty, wicked, materialistic" prosperity and faith preachers.  Thank God for prosperity preachers and men and women of Faith in God!  God has used them to save our lives and our family over and over.  Yes, I do feel this intensely.  God is a God of prosperity.  Knowing that the unity among the believers which pleases God so much isn't being fully realized simply because some of the body doesn't want to be associated with another part of the body of Christ saddens me.  Together there would be so much healing, comfort, and blessing to extend to a lost and dying world in desperate need of a Savior.  Hundreds, if not thousands, of Christians need freeing.  United together with the heart of Christ, fellow brothers and sisters could be freed to serve Jesus fully in wholeness.  Think of the miracles such unity would bring forth!  MOST importantly, it would please our Heavenly Father.  This isn't part of my story though, is it?  Sorry for that sidetrip.
This is all of the story I'm supposed to tell today.  It's just too big of a story for one blog post.  Before I go, I want to share some of the scripture verses our family has stood on in our journey of walking by faith in God.  There have been times when all we knew to do was go to God and remind Him of His Word and stand fast in faith believing.  These verses have literally been lifelines for us time and time again.  Galatians 6:17 says that the Word of God is the sword that the Spirit wields.  Sometimes circumstances have seemed so desperate and the intensity of the battle to "stay in faith" has been so great that I have literally had to stand up in a fighting stance, make motions as if I am drawing a sword and began swinging that "sword of the Spirit" as I quoted the Word of God out loud.  Often I have prayed out loud and stated that "I take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and I slash through these circumstances right now in the name of Jesus...." and off I go quoting whichever scripture slashes through the lies of the enemy presenting themselves at the time.  Whatever works...that's another lesson.  (as long as "whatever" lines up with the Word of God, of course)

Here are the scriptures:
  •   The Lord knows the days of the upright and blameless, and their heritage will abide forever. They shall not be put to shame in the time of evil; and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied. Psalm 37:18,19
  • The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step. Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps his hand in support and upholds him. I have been young and now am old, yet have I not seen the [uncompromisingly] righteous forsaken or their seed begging bread.  All day long they are merciful and deal graciously; they lend, and their offspring are blessed.  Depart from evil and do good; and you will dwell forever [securely]. Psalm 37:23-27
  • pretty much all of Psalm 37:)
  • Psalm 91 - read it out of the Amplified Bible.  Check out verse 8--we're inaccessible!  Hallelujah!
  • To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion--to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit--that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.  Isaiah 61:3
  • Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5
  • So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11
  • Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 3 John 2
  • Malachi 3:10-11
  • Deuteronomy 28:2, 11-13
  • He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully...And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
  • Psalm 23:1
  • Deuteronomy 8:7-10, 18
  • Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. Psalm 34:10
  • Luke 6:38
  • For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness,...2 Peter 1:3
These are but a few of the many, many scriptures the Lord has led us to stand on during times when we seemed to be in lack and need.  May any who may find themselves in a new, not very enjoyable, season right now be blessed and strengthened through the Word of God.  He is Love and He has given us everything we need for life and godliness.  Our salvation through Christ is complete.  Through Jesus we have been given peace = nothing missing, nothing broken, literally.  God is faithful and true, and we can lean on, rely, and confidently trust in His faithfulness to us.  In Christ's Love, rejoice at the harvest of blessing He has in store for you. 

What's On Your Plate?

Sharing a little bit of Autumn Love

As I See It Photography copyright 2010

Thankfulness:  Posts from the Past
This post was previously shared in August of 2009.


"Behold I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:19 NKJV
Have you ever needed a new thing? In the midst of the fray of daily life have you ever had the thought "there has got to be a better way" pass through your mind? Does it seem as if you are having "one of those days" everyday? Perhaps you have an inner conversation like I do. One that goes something along these lines.
"This is NOT what I signed up for," I inwardly huff.
A still, small voice replies "Oh, did you sign up for something?"
Settling down somewhat, yet still in a huff I answer "No, but if I had , it wouldn't have been this."
"A covenant isn't signed up for, it's entered willingly. That you did do." the still small voice gently reminds me. "You asked for and even desired this, remember?"
By this time, the gentle, loving kindness of the Holy Spirit has begun to soothe and calm. With a sigh and often tears of repentance for losing focus, I reply "I know. You're right, and even though right now it all seems bad, I know it isn't. I'm not moved by what I see, feel, or hear. I'm moved only by what I believe, and I believe the Word of God. Thank you for loving me. I'm so thankful that You don't give up on me or leave me in the mess I get myself into." "Lord you are good and your mercy endureth forever."
As I pick up the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and begin to slash through the enemy's "yuck" with it, what seemed so awful has vanished and a "new thing" is done. A road in the wilderness of my mind is made. Thankful praises to God for His faithfulness flood my being and a river in the barren desert of my heart is formed.
A new thing. New things are good. Sometimes they are very, very good.
Heavenly Father, I pray for the person reading this right now. In Jesus' name I ask that you would make yourself more real to them than they've ever known you to be. May their desire be for You and Your ways. May they be led down the paths of Your choosing and not be sidetracked onto roads out of Your will. May they not be led by their own understanding, but by you Holy Spirit. Just as your Word says, may their ears hear a voice behind them saying "This is the way, walk in it," Whenever they turn to the right hand or to the left. (Isaiah 30:19) I thank you that You lead them and guide them, that you never leave them or forsake them. I pray that they allow you to reign as LORD in their entire life. In Jesus' Name, Amen
"Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever." Psalm 118:1 NKJV

11.12.2010

Fabulous Art for Fabulous Friday

With the holidays rapidly approaching, the thoughts of coming houseguests may cause many a thoughtful eye to be cast around our homes. Exactly how would this house look through the eyes of a guest? Of course with gifts to purchase/create noone really wants to spend very much, if any, of their financial resources on eye candy for the house. Today's post provides a great example of quality art---for less.

Using frames, patterned scrapbook paper, extra stamps from a stamp collector's stash, a butterfly from a bug collection, foreign currency sent in the mail as a sample for collectors, and repositionable adhesive already on hand (yes, all of it), 14-year-old Mustard Seed was able to create quick and easy art for a rapid-redo done on her bedroom one afternoon. Yes, that is correct, one afternoon.

Here's how:
  • Take back off of frame and remove backing
  • Select scrapbook paper in pattern of choice
  • Trace around back of frame onto scrapbook paper and cut out
  • Using repositionable adhesive, attach objects of choice in desired position
  • Place in frame
  • Replace back of frame
  • Hang or display where desired





This project is super easy, super fast, and super, duper fun!  Even the littlest members of the family can be artists with this project.  Black and white or sepia copies of favorite photos would be spectacular displayed in this manner.  One of my favorite things about this project is the repositionable adhesive that allows for the rearranging of objects while deciding on a final placement.  Love it, love it, love it.

Don't need new art for the home?  Go ahead and scrounge through your collections anyway.  There is gift potential galore here!  Some of our favorite ideas for variations are included below.
  • Memories: Using copies of photos, receipts, recipes, ticket stubs, letters, buttons,  and other momentoes, create a memory in art. 
  • Fabric collage: Instead of scrapbook paper, gather random pieces of fabric and trim, arrange into an eye-pleasing collage.  Buttons could be attached here and there using glue dots or hot glue.  Photos of your favorite seamstress and/or scraps of journalling containing your favorite memories of the person pictured would create a personalized memory and/or gift.
  • Vintage pictures arranged collage style
  • Silhouette layered on top of scrapbook paper or fabric.  Silhouette could be crafted from paper/fabric that is either plain or in a coordinating pattern.
  • Hand-crafted serving tray: After creating art, attach handles to each end of picture frame to create a personalized serving tray that would be perfect for serving holiday treats or look lovely on a ladies' dressing table.

A Mother's Reward

This Thanksgiving Season, A Mother's Rewards will be looking back to where we've come from with gratitude and Thankfulness for where God has brought us to now.  We hope that your hearts are touched and blessed by shared memories of "posts from the past".  Blessed Mama


1 Corinthians 14:1a
"Pursue love...." NKJV
"Follow the way of love..." NIV
"Love should be your guide,..."CEV
"Eagerly pursue and seek to acquire this love[make it your aim and great quest]..." AMP
Colossians 3:14
"But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection." NKJV
     Yesterday afternoon while in the middle of a "domestic crisis" involving attitude upon attitude (not good ones either) I flung a desperate SOS to the Lord.  1 Corinthians 14:1 came to mind--pursue love.  Ahhhhh, yes, pursue love.  Remembering when a pastor's wife gave this portion of scripture for me to meditate (utter, mutter, and ponder) on, my soul was immediately calmed and other verses began to come to mind.  Not surprisingly, each of the verses also dealt with love and bearing with one another.  Perfect!  Thank you Holy Spirit for teaching and leading me.  Not only was the atmosphere of our home changed, but my children were able to experience the changing power of God's Word for themselves. 
     As each child sat down and wrote out their individual portions of scripture, her countenance was altered.  Selfishness and complaining were defeated as the Sword of the Spirit, God's Word, slashed through the yuck! of attitudes.  God's love was allowed to enter our home.  In just a few minutes, peace permeated the entire house.  A huge sigh of thankfulness and relief signaled the end of the battle.  God's love reigned supreme! 
     Even as I gave God thanks for the victory, I wondered why I don't pursue love everytime a "domestic crisis" rears its ugly head.  God is always faithful.  He is always waiting to show Himself strong in my weakness.  He made these children.  Not only that, he made them to be my reward (Psalm 127).  Everytime I go to Him He answers.  So, why don't I go to Him? Time after time instead of asking for help, I just plow in and handle it myself.  The results?  Let's just say that God's way is the best way.   
     Today is a new day.  God's love endures forever and His mercies are new every morning.  May this be the day that Love is pursued and followed all day long.  May yesterday's victory herald the beginning of a new era of love in my home. 
Colossians 3:12-15 AMP
"Clothe yourselves therefore, as God's own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper].  Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive].  And above all these [put on] love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness [which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony].

11.11.2010

It's a New Season

"It's a New Season, It's a new day, fresh anointing, flowing your way, It's a season of power and prosperity, it's a new season, coming to me."

The words of one of my favorite worship choruses began running through my mind as soon as the title was typed in.  Typing is a little tricky when you're singing in your head.  This morning is a new day.  Every morning is the beginning of a new day; a new day for each of us to use for Jesus in whatever way He leads us.  That being said, A Mother's Rewards wants to thank each and everyone who has taken the time to spend a portion of their days visiting here at the blog.  Our little visits and not so little chats have brightened many a day at our house.  Hosting a blog is one of the most enjoyable, even fun, things our family has done in quite a while.  As a matter of fact, it could become addictive.

As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, we want to say THANK YOU to all of our readers.  We are so thankful for every comment, and every word sent to encourage us.  You have often heard it said that "I Am One Blessed Mama"; how true that is.  I am indeed blessed; blessed with love, family, and friends who love, pray, and care for me (and my family) extravagantly.  Honestly, I just don't know how else to say it "I am so blessed!"  Seasons come and seasons go.  With each season, changes take place.  A Mother's Rewards also experiences its share of change.  Some of the changes come because Blessed Mama can't go very long without "rearranging the furniture".  Others have been natural responses to the real life our family is living.  No matter the season, thankfulness for readers of A Mother's Rewards has remained constant. 

Having previously been somewhat of a "fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants" sort of girl who viewed organization as something for "others who are into that sort of thing", I have spent the past few years in an almost constant state of wonder at the freedom organization can bring to a home.  Now please don't mistakenly think that all of my life has been somehow miraculously transformed into organizational bliss, it hasn't.  There have been enough significant adjustments, however, for even an artsy-type crafty lover of piles individual like myself to notice the change.  As weird as this sounds, I'm not really sure how this shift towards organization took place.  I realize that it didn't "just happen", but it kind of seems as if it did.  All I know is when it began.  It began with the addition of not one, but two unexpected blessings to our home.  Trust me when I say that there is an entire universe of difference between four children and six children---at least there was for me. 

So, here we are, real people living real life, and being really blessed by God.  Thankfulness to God our Father for His bountiful grace and mercy through Jesus and to the Holy Spirit for His comfort and guidance pours forth from our hearts day after day.  "Through many dangers toils and snare we have already come.  'Tis grace that brought us safe thus far, and grace will lead us home."   Thank You for being a part of our grace-filled journey called life.  I pray that as you walk through your days you find your heart singing along with ours these words "O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!" Psalm 107:1

11.10.2010

Have You Ever....?

Have you ever squeezed a bottle of mustard so hard that the top popped off and mustard shot all over the kitchen...as well as your dear spouse sitting across the table from you?  

 Thank You, Tim for sharing this "Have You Ever....?" story.  Even though it wasn't you who squeezed the mustard or received the shower of the yellow stuff, the story needed telling.  Maybe the entire story with all of its details will get out there someday. 

A Wordless Wednesday

Rosehips by the way. Copyright As I See it Photography 2010

11.08.2010

Fwd: Have you ever?

HAVE YOU EVER....been here? 

 A group of us were traveling to Colorado for a conference. We had stopped and eaten breakfast. Before heading on the journey my friend and I went to the ladies room. Upon entering our respective stalls, my friend said "Oh, no. There aren't any paper covers for the stool in here." I said, "Here I will hand you one over." Which I did. Then I sat down and discovered there was no toilet paper in my stall. I said to my friend, "Please pass me some toilet paper." She handed it under the stall. In a few moments a sweet little voice said to us, "If you ladies don't need anything else now, I will go." It was then we discovered we hadn't been beside each other as we had supposed.  Someone else had been in between us passing the seat covers and paper back and forth to us!   The only thing we could do was break out in laughter.  Several years later the incident still brings laughter.  I am sure the lady who helped us out will always remember us.
 
 
I don't know if the author of this "Have You Ever....?" story wants to be identified so I'll send an anonymous "Thank You" her way.  This has to be one of the best stories EVER.  I only wish you could all hear it told in person.  It's just way too funny.  Love to laugh, Blessed Mama