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


 

11.05.2010

Being God's Friend

Today is the last day of August. "Being God's Friend" is the final post in our Posts From the Past series. I pray these Posts From the Past have refreshed and encouraged you this month. I also pray that we are able to continue growing together in Love during the coming months. God has good things for us. Such an exciting time to be alive! Now, "Being God's Friend"...

"...and he was called God's friend."  James 2:23

" You [are like] unfaithful wives [having illicit love affairs with the world and breaking your marriage vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world's friend is being God's enemy?  So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God.  James 4:4 AMP

Abraham was called God's friend.  James 2:23 - "And [so] the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed in (adhered to, trusted in, and relied on) God, and this was accounted to him as righteousness (as conformity to God's will in thought and deed), and he was called God's friend."   The old testament says the same thing in Isaiah 2:8 "But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham My friend."  It shows up again in 2 Chronicles 20:7 "Did not You, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham Your friend?"  Abraham wasn't just reported to be God's friend one time in the Bible.  The fact that Abraham was called God's friend was found three times---maybe more than that.  I only had time for a very small search. 

What did Abraham do to be called God's friend?  All I can do is see what it says in Scripture.  The verse in James 2 says that Abraham believed in God; he adhered to, trusted in, and relied on Him.  James 2:23 goes on to say that this was "accounted to him as righteousness".  Righteousness is defined in this verse as conformity to God's will in thought and deed.  I believe in God, but do I adhere to Him?  When something is adhered to another it sticks pretty close, really close.  Do I adhere myself to God?  Do I conform to His will in thought and deed?  My deeds may not be so far off, but my thoughts... Do I conform my thoughts to God's will?  Hmmm, maybe I ought to ponder on a different part of Scripture.  A verse about how much God loves me perhaps.  *smile*  No, I think this is exactly where I'm supposed to be, conforming my thoughts and deeds to God's will is a definite mark of friendship. 

I want to be God's friend.  I want Him to be able to share any and every secret He desires with me.  I don't want to be like the unfaithful wife having illicit affairs James 4:4 talks about.  Being an enemy of God is NOT how I want to be known.  Even more importantly, it's not how I want God to see me.  When He thinks of me, I want Him to be able to call me friend as He did Abraham.  If I'm completely honest with myself, if I look way down deep in the darkest places of myself though there are still areas that resemble the unfaithful wife and enemy more than a friend.  Thank You, Lord for revealing those areas of unfaithfulness so that I can confess them before You and receive Your forgiveness. (1 John 1:9) I am so grateful that You love me so much, that You care enough to correct.  How much better it is to have sin revealed and repented of than to go on through life unaware.  Thank You, God.  I ask, in the name of Jesus, that You would make me a woman You can call Your friend.  May I learn of You and believe in, adhere to, trust in, and rely on You.  In Jesus' name, Amen

"Oh, I want to know You more
Deep within my heart I want to know You
Oh I want to know You
To feel Your heart and know Your mind
Looking in Your eyes stirs up within me
Cries that say I want to know You
Oh I want to know You more."
--worship chorus

11.04.2010

Oh, by the way save your onion skins. In the not too far future there will be a post on using those onion skins.

Pictures of French Fried Onions

Sliced Onions
A few onions in the flour
A batch frying
The finished product!
The homemade french fried onions taste better than the ones you get at the store by far. The bonus is not only are they economical they are much healthier for you too. You can't beat a deal like that!

French Fried Onions

I made French Fried onions for the first time yesterday. They turned out amazing! Here is the recipe, it was so easy. This is a perfect way to use up those onions that might have a bad spot you can cut out, onions need to be used up before too long, an abundance of onions, or to store onions when you don't have space for the abundance of your harvest. French Fried Onions:
  • 3 large onions, sliced into thin rings- a mandolin slicer works perfect for this.
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • oil for frying
  • salt
Soak the sliced onions in the milk for 5 minutes. While your onions are soaking heat the oil in a large skillet or deep fryer. (I added the salt to the flour. You will just have to decide how salty you would like yours.) Take a handful of onions and run them through the flour with a fork to coat.( I separated the rings of onions before I ran them through the flour.) Fry in batches in the oil, stirring as needed to brown evenly. Drain on paper towels and season to taste. Store in an air-tight container. I put some in the freezer so they stayed fresher. Enjoy! For some reason blogger won't let me insert the pictures in the places I want, so I will put them all together in a separate post.-Not of this world

Weeping With Those Who Weep--and praying for them too

Good Morning Dear Ones,
 
I have just found out about a sister-in-Christ who has received some news.  It is the kind of news that so many are hearing right now.  This is the time for us to rise up and surround each other with prayer and love.  Feel free to head on over to the Far Above Rubies blog and bless our sister, Jasmine.  I haven't ever met Jasmine, never even heard of her before this morning, but that doesn't mean I can't encourage and pray for her and her family.  Please visit Far Above Rubies and read the beautiful tribute to her husband and how she affirms him.  It is a marvelous example of Jesus for us all.  Reaching out in the Love of Christ, Blessed Mama

--
 

Closer Than A Brother

"...but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
Proverbs 18:24

"No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.
You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do.
I do not call you servants (slaves) any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing (working out).  But I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father. [I have revealed to you everything that I have learned from Him]."
John 15:13-15

"You are my friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do."   These are the words Jesus spoke to His disciples shortly before He was taken up to Heaven.  Jesus was preparing them for the time when He would no longer be with them face to face, just as I talk with and prepare my children whenever I am going to town without them.  As I read this portion of scripture I can't help but compare it to the lists I often leave on the counter for my own kiddos.  The lists I leave contains a miscellaneous combination of instruction, reminders, and love; so does the one Jesus left behind for me. 

My children work very hard to fulfill the responsibilities I request of them.  They work and work until each task is completed---in the manner I prefer.  Why?  They want to please me.  The question I'm asking myself right now is this...am I working to complete each task Jesus has left for me to do?  When I do the things Jesus has commanded, am I doing them in a manner that He would prefer?  Or am I so busy trying to manage my own affairs that the Lord's desires are left unread and undone?  Jesus doesn't say that I am His friend if I work at the things He has commanded me to do once in awhile, here and there.  He says "if you keep on doing the things which I have commanded you to do."   Am I keeping on?

Jesus laid His life down for me.  John 15:15 tells that He calls me His friend.  Jesus also says He has revealed everything that He has learned from the Father to me.  Now that's friendship!  Yesterday, I shared memories of my mother and her friend visiting in the kitchen.  I don't know for certain (I didn't eavesdrop) but I would imagine that mixed in among the laughter they shared were secrets, dreams, and heart desires.  According to the verse in John 15, that is exactly what Jesus has done with His friends, He shared everything the Father revealed to Him.  That's what friends do, they share with each other.  A hymn is running through my mind again.  It says it all so well.

"Friendship with Jesus
Fellowship divine
Oh what blessed sweet communion
Jesus is a friend of mine

A friend of Jesus, oh, what bliss
That one so weak as I
should ever have a friend like this
To lead me to the sky

A friend when other friendships cease
A friend when others fail
a friend who gives me joy and peace
A friend who will prevail

A friend to lead me in the dark
A friend who knows the way
A friend to steer my weak, frail bark
A friend my debts to pay

A friend when sickness lays me low
A friend when death draws near
A friend as thro' the vale I go
a friend to help and cheer

A friend when life's rough voyage is o'er
A friend when death is past
A friend to greet on heaven's shore
A friend when home at last.

Friendship with Jesus
Fellowship divine
Oh, what blessed sweet communion
Jesus is a friend of mine."

11.03.2010

New Look For the Colder Months

Brrrrrr!  There is a cold north wind blowing today.  A fire is radiating warmth through the house, and I thought it the perfect day to get A Mother's Rewards ready for the coming winter.  By the way, the background is coffee beans NOT the pile of manure one of my children thought. (just in case anyone had similar thoughts)

When images of friends gathering together for conversation fill my mind, cups of steaming coffee, cocoa, or tea are almost always in the picture.  Visions of dear friends sharing everything and nothing all at the same time immediately kindle up a warmth within.  Without effort I am instantly transported back in time to mornings and afternoons spent playing with my best friend as the sound of our mothers' laughter rang throughout the house (there may have been a few snorts scattered throughout that laughter too).  I am so blessed to have these precious memories of a time when little girls played together and their mamas visited over coffee and tea.  Without a doubt, the very best of times were those extra long visits we received whenever one of our mother's hair was in need of perming.  Perms take time, and time is exactly what two little girls long for when playing together.  

Being a firsthand witness to the rare miracle of true friendship, I learned early on that friendships are important.  They are something to treasure.  Somehow a masterpiece is created when God takes two (or more) people, adds a unique collection of talents, giftings, and interests, throws in a ton of laughter, snorts, tears, and prayer, and sprinkles it all with His Love.  Nothing and no one can take away the bond of friendship.  Years pass by and friendships remain.  True friendships that is.  Thank You, God for friends. 

11.02.2010

Have You Ever....Worn Two Different Shoes?

Have you ever slipped on two entirely different shoes and walked around the house for at least an hour before noticing?  And then only because you happened to glance down at your feet!

 

I have, obviously.  When I discovered what I'd done, I laughed hysterically on and on until my children and husband began to question my sanity.  My son, then approx. 8 yr. old was honestly really, really worried about his mama because she just laughed and laughed and laughed with tears running down her face completely unable to communicate due to incontrollable laughter.  Whew!  What a release that laugther was.  I could use a laugh like that every so many months.  By the way, this is the very incident that broke me of slipping my shoes off during the meal and leaving them under the table.  This would never have happened if there hadn't been more than one pair of shoes under there, and what if I had gone to town like that?  It's been at least eight years since this happened and the older girls still remember their mama laughing until brother was worried. 


 

11.01.2010

Freezer Cooking

We've mentioned it before, but now we've actually tried it for a while.  It's one of our new best, best friends.  Well, that and home-canned soups and beans.  After receiving many, many potatoes, we took an entire day and washed, peeled, shredded, blanched, and bagged.  Many things we would do differently next time, but one thing we know...having food ready to cook in the freezer is WONDERFUL!  The time saved by having even a portion of a meal already prepared and in the freezer adds up to lots of time left for other activities, and who couldn't use a little more time in their day?  So...freezer cooking, try it!  It's truly Living Large on Less!  Blessed Mama

Here are a few tips learned by experience:
  • Plan ahead!  Know what you are going to cook and have the necessary ingredients, supplies, and containers gathered BEFORE cooking begins.
  • Choose recipes that utilize weekly sales at the local grocer.  For instance, if chicken pieces are at an all time low sale price this week, prepare recipes that use chicken.  If flour is on sale, then this may be the time to have a baking session for the freezer. 
  • Personalize the cooking session to work smartest for your own schedule and budget.  Cooking days don't have to last an entire day, nor must they be held on a weekend.  If the time you have available is a weekday evening, then by all means, spend an evening cooking. 
  • Freezer cooking works just as beautifully for singles as it does for families.  Everyone benefits from savings of time.  I can already hear the laughter and fun a group of singles would share spending an evening together cooking.  An entire day?  Now THAT would be a riot! 
  • Have music playing in the background that will motivate, inspire, and energize.  Impromptu dancing sessions while using a wooden spoon as a microphone are great fun and keep those with an intense bent from getting too...well...intense.
  • Gather friends and/or family together and have everyone do their own freezer cooking together.  "The more the merrier" perfectly describes freezer cooking days.
  • Don't forget to have snacks, drinks, lunch, and supper ready to go BEFORE cooking begins.  If the budget allows, this may be the ideal day for the pizza delivery person to show up!  If not, a baked potato bar, help-yourself-salad bar, or other slowcooker meals provide delicious eats without extra fuss.
  • If little ones are going to be around, plan age appropriate "jobs" for them to do.  How important they feel when they have contributed to the effort.  Don't underestimate their abilities.  Our 4-yr-old rolls the best meatball in the house and loves to peel potatoes.  Just make certain the utensils little ones use are safe for them to use.  We have a special potato peeler ours use for the very reason that it is safer. 
  • Also, have other non-working activities planned for when little attention spans wear out.  If you have been saving back a special movie, game, or coloring book, this would be a good opportunity to bring it out.
  • Wear comfortable clothing, shoes, and pull long hair back, up, and out of the way.  Oh yes, if the dishes you are going to prepare are messy, wearing short sleeves is ideal.  Nothing gets as old as having to stop what you are doing and ask someone else to pull your sleeves up.  
  • Aprons are not only fun but useful as well.  Flour tends to settle on the parts of us that stick out closest to the work surface.  If you have ever been embarrassed by obvious flour spots on the front of you, you won't hesitate to throw that apron on.
  • Last but not least, take advantage of the experiences of others.  Search around online and read the advice, tips, suggestions, and recipes of people who have been doing this for years.  People love to help and experience is the best teacher.  Free yourself to learn from "those who have gone before" in this area.  Some generous individuals offer tried and true recipes that work especially well for freezer cooking.  Still others offer individual breakdowns for various serving sizes along with shopping lists.  Does it get any easier than that? 
More than likely, the longer we at Living Large on Less practice this, the more tips and suggestions we will have to share with you.  We're just taking our first baby steps.  From where we stand right now though, the future's looking good.  Freezer Cooking, one small way to Live Large on Less.

Comments Appreciated

Comments aren't publishing as they ought to.  Until a solution can be found, know that your comments are welcome, have been received, and are greatly appreciated.  Thank You - Blessed Mama