A Brownie Mix and Candy - Making It Easy

Don't ask why, I don't know. I just have brownies on the brain lately. Here are few easy variations to try using a boxed brownie mix and a mini muffin pan.

Place mini paper liners in the pan. Mix brownies as directed on box. Could use favorite from scratch brownie recipe if you prefer. Fill each liner half full. Using small candy of choice, push one piece of candy down into middle of muffin. Bake at suggested temperature for appropriate time listed for the pan. Rolos candy are so good. Unwrapping each one, not so fun. If you have children who like helping, that would make the unwrapping go much more quickly. Miniature peanut butter cups, caramel cups, and other smaller candies would all work well. There are several mini candy bars that have delicious potential.

Having only done this with a mini muffin pan, I don't know whether it would work in a regular-sized muffin pan or not. I do think that another option would be to use a regular baking pan and gently press down chopped pieces of candy into the batter. Of course brownies baked in a regular pan and cut into squares would probably taste best when eaten warm and topped with ice cream, maybe homemade ice cream. OOOOOOH! Homemade ice cream! Have you made any this year? Someone mentioned the possibility of trying new homemade ice cream recipes this Summer. Has anyone done this? How is the taste-testing going? Do tell, do tell. We all want to know.


Children, Creation, Summer

Couldn't resist this picture. Can't help but wonder what these children are attempting to catch either. If they were at our house, they would be stalking a frog or maybe a granddaddy of a fish. So far this summer I have had a frog and then later a toad in my kitchen sink. No, I am not the one who put them there, and the fact that one of them got out of their container when I was looking at it does not mean I put the animal in the sink, no matter what anyone says. LOL!

Exploring the great outdoors is an unspeakable blessing. No time is it quite as easy or enjoyable to do so as in the Summer. How much fun it is to see all of the baby birds scurrying around close to their nests and to watch the goslings that swim on the lake and nibble our lawn down by the water grow from day to day. Being very stealthy when walking up to the water's edge in early Summer allows us to peek at sunfish fiercely guarding their nest of eggs. Later on in the season, if we look very quickly, we can catch glimpses of the hatched minnows zipping about here and there. Even small pools/puddles of water provide opportunities to observe new life as small tadpoles snuggle down in the soft mud with frequent trips to the top. It's a Life Science lab come to life before our eyes every day.

Even moving cattle opens up possibilities for studying small things up close. Horsegirl was encouraging a wayward bull to move along this morning when she noticed a baby bird scurrying around close by. Unnoticed by the bull, the small bird was feverishly working at getting closer to its mama when it was toppled into the water as the bull passed where it was. Horsegirl rescued the sweet thing, it wasn't a swimming water bird, and returned it to the area it had originally been. We all hope that all is well for the wee baby. It was so tiny; a couple of pompom puffs with a beak and two feet that were all very large in comparison to the size of its body.

Somehow this picture of the children by the water, in the Summer, made me think of Horsegirl's rescue efforts and nature and children and Summer and well, you already know the rest of the story for I already told it to you. Summer, creation, children, opportunities, observation, are all perfect combinations no matter where one lives.


Living Real

"Many of us have forgotten that we really are children of the Most High God. We have allowed lies to remain embedded and unchallenged in our lives. We have created a performance-based relationship with the Grace-Giver. We live in fear of failure, and so we avoid stepping out in faith, thinking that failure means rejection. Some of us are afraid to move forward in boldness because we still believe that God can only love us if our performance is without fault. " Garry Elkins

These words are grabbing my attention this afternoon. It is as if they have taken the message from Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman and are walking hand in hand through my mind. "We have allowed lies to remain embedded and unchallenged in our lives." How true, how true. God has been revealing these lies that have been embedded and unchallenged in my life. One by one these areas of unchallenged falsity are being challenged with the Truth. Life is springing up in places long thought dead.

All around us the world and it's way of doing are falling apart. American's everywhere are beginning to waken to the fact that life as we once knew it is over. It's not ever going to be quite like it was. As followers of Christ we are being given a gift, an opportunity to live the faith we profess to believe, to be doers of the Word and not hearers only.

Many people who don't know Jesus and the promises in His Word need the Hope we possess. Yet how can we share something with others that we fail to live in ourselves? The answer is simple. We can't. We cannot live in constant fear and almost panic ourselves then try to comfort another with the love of God. Why? Because the love of God drives out fear. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. That is what God says. That is truth. I have made a conscious decision to belief truth, God's truth, His Word.

Contrary to popular belief, Christians do not have to fall prey to a spirit of fear, confusion, doubt, or any other negative emotion currently bombarding the world. They do not have to be worried, anxious, worked up, irritated. As a matter of fact, God has instructed His children not to be any of those things. He has commanded us to not allow ourselves to get worked up. He is not a hard taskmaster giving out commands that are impossible to keep. Nor is He a drill seargent barking out orders. He is a loving Heavenly Father telling His children the way to live fully in Him. His yoke is easy. His burden is light.

The rise of violence and the tolerance of evil in my nation grieves me. Yet Jesus bore my griefs and carried my sorrows.. I don't have to sorrow as one without hope. The God of the universe busies Himself with my every step.(Psalm 37:23) He has good works planned in advance for me to do.(Ephesians 2:10) I can't do the work of God if I am not confidently trusting in Him. Psalm 37:28 says "28 For the Lord delights in justice and forsakes not His saints; they are preserved forever, but the offspring of the wicked [in time] shall be cut off." If I believe these words, I will live confidently, do confidently, speak confidently of the One who is in all, through all, and made all. I have cast my cares on Him for He cares for me.(1 Peter 5:7) Our family has taken Him at His Word in 2 Chronicles 7:14. We His people who are called by His name have humbled ourselves and prayed. We sought His face and turned from our wicked ways. We have done the If portion of that scripture. Because He is faithful and true, God will fulfill the Then portion. He will hear from Heaven. He has forgiven our sins. He will heal our land.

It is time for God's children to live as chidren of the Most High God. It is time to unbed and challenge the lies that have kept us from walking in the boldness of the righteous. It is time to realize such lies exist. It is time to live what we believe, all of it, every little detail. As believers there must be a "no tolerance" policy for sin and evil in our lives. God is speaking to His people. He is speaking to His church.

Can you hear it? I hear a roar, a mighty mighty roar. It's a magnificent sound roaring through the atmosphere. It's the sound of praise to the Most High God being lifted high. God's children are rising up. The church is wakening from her slumber. The bride of Christ is preparing her robes. She is allowing herself to be made spotless and pure. This isn't a promo for a brilliant sci-fi movie. This is reality. It is what is going on right now, even as we speak. The things which are temporal are beginning to pass away so that which is eternal might come. The world's system is falling apart. This must happen. Have no fear. It isn't disaster for followers of Christ. It is necessary preparation for the establishment of Godly rule and government.

Psalm 37 is filled with promises from God to His children. May our hearts be encouraged through its words. May they be life and health to us, strengthening and healing as we speak them out in prayer. Each of us prays as God leads us. However, sometimes praying scripture is a new practice for believers. I'll give a small example of how I pray the Word of God. It is just an example to help explain what I mean when I speak of praying the Word. It is not an absolute, one and only way, only an example.

Here's the example: I would begin in the first verse and using the verse, personalize it.  "I fret not because of evildoers, I am not envioius against those who work unrighteousness that is not upright or in right standing with God. I trust, lean on, rely on, and am confident in the Lord and I do good. I shall dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and I shall be fed. I delight myself in the Lord. He gives me the desires and secret petitions of my heart." and on I would continue throughout the rest of the chapter. Practicing the habit of praying the Word of God is very encouraging. It is very powerful, especially when spoken out loud. Worrisome and troublesome thoughts can't torment when I am speaking out loud. With love dear ones, be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. In Jesus' name, amen.

Psalm 37

[A Psalm] of David.

1 Fret not yourself because of evildoers, neither be envious against those who work unrighteousness (that which is not upright or in right standing with God).
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
3 Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.
4 Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass.
6 And He will make your uprightness and right standing with God go forth as the light, and your justice and right as [the shining sun of] the noonday.
7 Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him; fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass.
8 Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not yourself—it tends only to evildoing.
9 For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait and hope and look for the Lord [in the end] shall inherit the earth.
10 For yet a little while, and the evildoers will be no more; though you look with care where they used to be, they will not be found.
11 But the meek [in the end] shall inherit the earth and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
12 The wicked plot against the [uncompromisingly] righteous (the upright in right standing with God); they gnash at them with their teeth.
13 The Lord laughs at [the wicked], for He sees that their own day [of defeat] is coming.
14 The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to cast down the poor and needy, to slay those who walk uprightly (blameless in conduct and in conversation).
15 The swords [of the wicked] shall enter their own hearts, and their bows shall be broken.
16 Better is the little that the [uncompromisingly] righteous have than the abundance [of possessions] of many who are wrong and wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the [consistently] righteous.
18 The Lord knows the days of the upright and blameless, and their heritage will abide forever.
19 They shall not be put to shame in the time of evil; and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
20 But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs [that is consumed in smoke] and as the glory of the pastures. They shall vanish; like smoke shall they consume away.
21 The wicked borrow and pay not again [for they may be unable], but the [uncompromisingly] righteous deal kindly and give [for they are able].
22 For such as are blessed of God shall [in the end] inherit the earth, but they that are cursed of Him shall be cut off.
23 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].
24 Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps his hand in support and upholds him.
25 I have been young and now am old, yet have I not seen the [uncompromisingly] righteous forsaken or their seed begging bread.
26 All day long they are merciful and deal graciously; they lend, and their offspring are blessed.
27 Depart from evil and do good; and you will dwell forever [securely].
28 For the Lord delights in justice and forsakes not His saints; they are preserved forever, but the offspring of the wicked [in time] shall be cut off.
29 [Then] the [consistently] righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it forever.
30 The mouth of the [uncompromisingly] righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks with justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.
32 The wicked lie in wait for the [uncompromisingly] righteous and seek to put them to death.
33 The Lord will not leave them in their hands, or [suffer them to] condemn them when they are judged.
34 Wait for and expect the Lord and keep and heed His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land; [in the end] when the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.
35 I have seen a wicked man in great power and spreading himself like a green tree in its native soil,
36 Yet he passed away, and behold, he was not; yes, I sought and inquired for him, but he could not be found.
37 Mark the blameless man and behold the upright, for there is a happy end for the man of peace.
38 As for transgressors, they shall be destroyed together; in the end the wicked shall be cut off.
39 But the salvation of the [consistently] righteous is of the Lord; He is their Refuge and secure Stronghold in the time of trouble.
40 And the Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they trust and take refuge in Him.


Easy Peasy Recipe...Kabobs

Fourth of July holiday found us having our annual BBQ. This year we added something new to the menu, kabobs. They were easy, very easy. So simple and delicious that I can't wait to try new combinations of meat and vegetables.

The afternoon before, I cubed a top round roast as well as several colors of peppers. Placing the meat in a separate container, I coated it with BBQ sauce, covered, and placed in the fridge. Then I placed the cubed peppers, pearl onions that had been peeled, mushrooms, and grape tomatoes in a second container and coated them with BBQ sauce. The veggies were covered and placed in the fridge too.

The evening of the gathering I threaded the meat and veggies on skewers. Wooden or bamboo skewers need to be soaked in water prior to grilling. This prevents burning of the skewers. Some of the kabobs were all meat with others being all veggie. My Beloved grilled the kabobs alongside of the smoked sausages and franks. Both meat and veggie lovers were happy. For variety, I substituted smoked sausage chunks for the beef. This was good too.

Future variations we are looking forward to trying are a meat, potato, and onion along with a polish sausage, potato, onion and even a meat and potato only combo. Kabobs are one of my new favorite foods. They would be a great way to reinvent leftover bits of this and that from other meals. Those kabobs that were uneaten were stripped of their meat and veggies. The yummy morsels were reheated in a hot pan, stir fry style, and eaten a top rice. Yum, yum, yum! Frugal, easy, delicious. Kabobs.


Living In the Green Light: "What Are You Waiting For?"

The Elijah List website features daily prophetic words from mighty men and women of God worldwide. It is a source of blessing, encouragement, truth, and insight for our entire family. The following word was sent out Tuesday, July 10, 2012. While reading it I was overjoyed. This one, single message says everything God has been placing in my heart to say but couldn't figure out how. Ah, He leads me beside still waters. I didn't need to figure anything out because He had already given it to another. All I had to do was share what He sent. Please read the following message prayerfully and expectantly. It is a now word for a now time. Blessed Mama
Garris Elkins:

Living In the Green Light: "What Are You Waiting For?"

Several years ago, Jan and I had the privilege of having lunch with David and Deborah Crone who pastor The Mission, a church in Vacaville, California. When I get together with leaders like the Crones, I often ask what guides them in their ministry. When I asked David this question, without hesitation he said, "We live in the green light of God."

David's words deeply impacted my spirit. An adjustment of my life paradigm occurred as David's words hung over the lunch table. Deborah added to David's comment by saying that God is faithful to give us the red lights when we need to stop if we will simply live in His green light.

As Jan and I drove home after lunch, David's words began to rearrange certain areas of my life and ministry. I knew I had received an impartation of truth.

"What Are You Waiting For?"
Some of our lives resemble beautiful and powerful automobiles that are running at idle while waiting at an intersection, even though the light is green. It has been "green and go" since the Day of Pentecost, yet some of us still wait, continuing to idle and going nowhere. I sense that God is asking His Church, "What are you waiting for?" The reality is that the Heavens are open, and the Spirit has been given to us. We are seated in Heaven at the right hand of the Father on purpose. The green light of God is present in His people. It is time to invite the Holy Spirit to reveal why some of us are stopped instead of moving forward. It is also time to renew our minds and live as people positioned by God to do more than just wait at intersections and idle our engines of faith.

Many of us have forgotten that we really are children of the Most High God. We have allowed lies to remain embedded and unchallenged in our lives. We have created a performance-based relationship with the Grace-Giver. We live in fear of failure, and so we avoid stepping out in faith, thinking that failure means rejection. Some of us are afraid to move forward in boldness because we still believe that God can only love us if our performance is without fault.

This fear has immobilized the prayer of faith in some; it blinds us to the green light and keeps us from pressing down on the accelerator pedal and moving forward. We displace this lie by remembering that we are loved, not as the result of our performance, but out of the very nature of God. He can only love. He is love. He is unchangeable in His love.

Fear of failure and rejection can redirect the focus of our prayer back onto self, and when this happens we become the ones responsible for the results of what we have prayed. We take on the burden of outcomes.

"What if I pray and the person is not healed?" "What if I turn to the table behind me, say the word God asked me to give, and they reject it?" If we feel that we are responsible for the results of our faith, we will inevitably live in the prison of performance, because the perceived power source is with us and not with God. This prison holds our life and faith captive to personal doubt instead of the open road of freedom that comes from living in the green light of God.

Are You a Friend?
In John 15 Jesus said that He would no longer relate to His disciples as servants. He would now relate to them as friends. The shift here was not simply about using a new word to describe their relationship but rather how being a friend would radically change the way the disciples would relate to Jesus in the future.

Remember: servants live with a list of things to do. Servants execute lists of performance, and when they are done performing, they go back to the servants' quarters. A friend is different. A friend lives in anticipation of what their friend desires. They have a relationship that is powered by intimacy and union. They see an open road and the green light of relationship and freedom.

All of God's promises are "yes" in Jesus.
As surely as God is true, I am not that sort of person. My yes means yes because Jesus Christ, the Son of God, never wavers between yes and no. He is the one whom Timothy, Silas, and I preached to you, and he is the divine Yes – God's affirmation. For all of God's promises have been fulfilled in him. That is why we say "Amen" when we give glory to God through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:18-20
This kind of friendship with God that Paul described, and its resulting prayer, looks reckless to people who have yet to realize His friendship. Friendship with God looks reckless because you end up blasting past people who are still parked at the intersection with their foot on the brakes. Friends of God travel right through intersections because they are fulfilling the anticipated desires of the Master: living in the green light of God.

In the area of Oregon where I live, the police and fire vehicles are equipped with transmitting units that send signals ahead of them to change traffic lights from red to green so that the responding public safety personnel can reach the emergency site unimpeded. The vehicles carry with them the ability to change the function of the traffic light. You and I carry the presence of Jesus Christ. That presence changes everything.

  Followers of Jesus Christ live in the green light of God's promises. All of God's promises are "yes." "Promise" is a word that can be translated "to announce upon." Jesus told the disciples in Luke 24:49, "And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as My Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from Heaven." When Jesus said these words, He was assuring His disciples that in the near future God would "announce upon them" the Spirit.

The prophet Joel announced the promise of the future outpouring of the Spirit in the latter days. On the Day of Pentecost, timeless eternity announced the reality of Joel's prophecy down upon earth.
Right now, God is announcing His promises upon the earth through His Church. This really is a new day. The fires of revival are sparking and igniting upon the earth on every continent. The promise of God has been announced to us, His friends, and we are the chosen voices of Heaven to speak truth into our world by believing that all the promises are "yes" in Christ and by speaking that "yes" into a fearful and hesitant world.

We live in the green light of God.

Garris Elkins, Senior Leader
Living Waters Church - Medford, Oregon
  Email: prophetichorizons@gmail.com
Garris Elkins' ministry, Prophetic Horizons, is a ministry of teaching, writing and prophecy committed to raising up a prophetic generation to speak to the cultures of our world with the empowered voice of Heaven. Garris and his wife, Jan, are the Senior Leaders of Living Waters Church in Medford, Oregon, and have two grown children, Anna and David.


Reading What? A Summer's Stack of Books

Too hot to work? Grab a book and read. Summer is perfect for reading. Alright, alright, all the time is perfect for reading. I'm not the only person who thinks so either. According to the number of page views, our conversations about the latest books we are each reading are some of the favorites here at Abundance. There really hasn’t been much discussion about what books we're reading this summer. Let's fix that today, right now even. It will be a lot more fun if everyone joins in and shares their favorite, or most anticipated, summer reads. Feel free to pop in anytime! Just leave your thoughts as a comment or in an email at

Some of the books I am reading, are the same ones I was reading last time we talked about reading. I am still working at finishing several too. It isn’t because I haven’t been reading; I have. It’s because I have been reading other things as well. Thank you for overlooking any that might be repeats.

* The Holy Bible - amplified

     ~ This is my out and out favorite book of ALL TIME!!! I cannot get enough of this book!

* Unleashing the Beast by Perry Stone - getting ready to begin this soon - chipped a contact yesterday so won't be reading anything for a bit

* Time to Defeat the Devil: Strategies to Win the Spiritual War 
by Chuck D. Pierce - Read this. That’s all I’m saying.

* Instructing a Child’s Heart by Tedd & Margy Tripp - Kindle edition - full of practical, godly wisdom

* Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp - the reason I was excited to read the book above

      ~ This and Instructing a Child’s Heart would make one of the best new parent gifts I can imagine

* Indescribable by Louie Giglio & Matt Redman

     ~ Full of pictures that testify of God’s greatness like nothing else could. Looking forward to reading this aloud.

* Uncle Wiggily’s Adventures by Howard Roger Garis

     ~ Even Mighty Man of God sits still for this treasure.

* Precious Promises of the Blood of Jesus a 30 day devotional by Gregory Dickow

     ~ Short snippets of truth that take less, much less, than 5 minutes a day

* The Authority of the Believer by John A. MacMillan

    ~ A read that got my attention, made me think, then caused me to dig into the Bible and find out for myself. Could read it again and again always discovering something new to search out further.

* Disarming the Devil’s Assault Weapons by Paul Conger - haven’t started this yet - it's still waiting

* Breaking Christian Curses: Finding Freedom from Destructive Prayers by Dennis Cramer - whoa. Can’t argue with someone’s personal experience - yes sirree, this book is needed. Haven’t read it? Consider it seriously.

* The Blood and the Glory by Billye Brimm - I read this book a long, long time ago. It is in my section of the shelf waiting for me to read it again. It came to my attention again recently when offered as a package deal with The Authority of the Believer by John A. MacMillan. I am curious to see the difference in the reading experience since it has been years since I read it before.

* Approx. 8 Christian novels - some were really short reads

* The Nesting Place blog

* Chatting At The Sky blog

* Lifen blog

* Glorious Treats blog

* Relish Your Life blog

* French Country Cottage blog

* House of Fifty ezine

* Post Road Vintage ezine

* Other random enewsletters, blogs, articles, etc.

Wow! What a list! It’s been hot, and I have this tendency to slip into reading mode easier during the summer. Maybe it’s a throwback from childhood summers where I would check out 5-6 large books at a time from the library and try to make them last at least a week. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just because I really like reading. Whatever the reason, don’t forget to share about your summer reading by leaving a comment or sending an email to
amothersrewards@gmail.com. We’re going to have so much fun!




Making Your Own...Education

Education, learning, acquiring knowledge, putting knowledge to use, these are topics near and dear to my heart. I have always enjoyed learning. Note, I did not say that I have always enjoyed school. Learning, learning is what stirs up a fire inside. I love to learn. I want to know everything, truly everything. I want to know how things work. I want to see the inside of any and almost everything. It truly doesn't matter if it is the toaster or a fish being fileted for dinner. Yes, I am the one who would willingly and enthusiastically sit still, for a few seconds anyway, to watch a turtle lay eggs. I would also be the one enthusiastically telling you about it afterwards. I find learning thrilling.

It is no wonder when lesson planning time rolls around each year, the most difficult task before me is to reduce the lessons to fit in one year. There are so many marvelous things to learn! I would make a great delight-led teacher. Were it not for a legally required summary each year, our family could take off on the education journey of a lifetime. Oh well, order is good too, very good.
from The Graphics Fairy LLC

At last we have arrived! We're at the point of this visit:) Sorry, I took the long way around. Learning and education are not only for school-aged children. Nor are they topics to be considered exclusively by those who homeschool. Learning and education are a way of life intended to be begun at birth and continued until our life on earth has ended. Each one of us is learning; every one is being education in one way or another. What are we learning? What sort of education are we receiving? Is it an intentional path or one being taken by default? Do we know where we are going and why?

We need a map. Writing or typing such a map out is optional. Having one, however, is a vital necessity. Without a map, a chartered course, I might end up knowing a whole lot about nothing and nothing about a whole lot. Truths of eternal importance may very well be overlooked as trivial matters of the everyday breathlessly push me along. Please understand, the education and learning experiences I am referring to are not a college education, though that might be part of life's chartered course. This education is that which comes through the living of life.

Maybe it is simply another way of being intentional in everything I do and say. Being intentional is definitely required if I am going to map out my own education. While considering the importance of a life's education, the similarities to making a map became obvious. So much so that I simply had to start a personal education map in my journal. Here are some of the questions I am using to begin mapping:
  • At the end of my life on earth, what do I want to know and live? What truths, skills, character traits, habits, speech, actions?
  • Of all the "things" I could learn while on this earth, which will be most valuable to me and those I leave behind?
  • What and how do my children and grandchildren need me to know and live, both now while I am here and after I have gone?
  • Looking at all that is important to me now, is it really important? Does it possess eternal value?
Days, months, even years pass rapidly by. It seems that just last week my four oldest children and I were having daily read alouds after lunch. I was reading, rocking one child, pushing the baby swing with a foot that was draped over the arm of the chair, and two other children were lying on the floor quietly listening. Every time I would rock, my foot would push the swing. Somehow in the proverbial blink of an eye, the two children quietly listening are now out of formal school and responsible for themselves. The one being rocked is in high school. The one in the swing, an eighth grader doing ninth grade work. Daily read alouds happen less frequently and two other small children are here now to listen, though not always quietly.  

In a short, short time life has happened, and I? I have realized a need to be intentional. There are truths I must not only know but live. My husband, my children, and I need me to do this. It is a powerful thing, making one's own education, mapping it out. Powerful and vital. What do I know? What do I need to know? What do I want to know? How do I live? How do I want to live? How should I live? How will I live?

Oh, how will I live. Yes, it really is all about will, my will. What will I do with this will of mine? The answer to this one question determines the course my life's education takes. The answer I am writing in my journal is one that Joshua spoke so long ago. "as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15 I am exchanging my will for His and listening for the Holy Spirit's voice to lead, teach, and guide me along the good path God has chartered out for me to live. (Psalm 139:16, Jeremiah 29:11, Ephesians 2:10)

Perhaps some have been making their own education map already. What are some of the questions you ask yourself? What do you consider essential to your life's education? Are there areas where "being intentional" is new? I'm looking forward to continuing our "visit" in the comments. Sharing with each other is one of the nicest gifts blogs offer. Please, join in. Our visit will be liberally laced with loving grace, mercy, and understanding. We're real people living our real lives; let's do it together. Love to you!



You Are a Blessing

from The Graphics Fairy LLC

Visitors are important here at Abundance. They are valued. Everyone is super busy these days, and I am so honored when someone, or several someones, take the time to visit. Realizing that every second anyone gives of their time is a true gift, I just had to send out a great big Thank You to everyone who comes over and visits the blog. Thank You. You are appreciated. You could have spent these moments anywhere else doing anything else and yet, here you are. Thank you, thank you, thank you. My prayer is that your time here is a blessing and that, in some way, your life is better for having come.


Fabulous Friday - Doing Your Own Nails

It's been awhile since we had an actual "Fabulous Friday" post. For some reason, I'm in the mood for a Fabulous Friday. Previously, Fabulous Friday posts were the posts that featured ideas for free, or practically free, decorating ideas etc. Basically anything I felt was fabulous.

This week our time together has been spent sharing tips, recipes, and how-to ideas for flavored coffee and syrups, along with a Meditating Monday type conversation about grace. I'm sitting here thinking about what would be fabulous. Yeah, that's right. I didn't have a clue what was going to be fabulous. I just wanted to write a Fabulous Friday post. Silly but not at all unusual for me.

I've got it! I know what is perfect for Fabulous Friday! Nails! Fingernails! Maybe it is because we have five girls in the house, including me. Maybe has something to do with it being summer and our feet showing more. Maybe it is just because we were needing something new and different to try. I don't really know the why. I just know that we have been "in" to all things nail lately. We even co-hosted a party for jamberry nail shields. Seen them? They are way cool. Their spring/summer catalog can be seen online. A search for jamberry nail shields will pull their website right up.

Nail slicks are really fun too, especially the zebra stripe and pink camou. As much fun as the slicks and shields are, we are having fun with plain old polish as well. I'll share a few of our newest favorite techniques. Scotch tape. Not necessarily the Scotch brand, just that type of product. Use it for clean edges when painting nails with more than one color. Steady hands aren't necessary when using the tape. Have any craft scissors that give paper a fun edge? Use them to cut the edge of the tape then place tape on nail to provide a patterened edge. It's a mini stencil. I am sure that smaller craft punches would work to create a stencil for a specific shape. That's what Not of This World needed for her silver stars on the Fourth of July. Super fun - and easy.

For creative ideas, do an online search or visit Pinterest to glean from the creativity of others. We have seen cupcakes, watermelons, strawberries, ladybugs, bees, and many other ideas for summertime nail fun. Once your polish is dry, take a pic and send it to us at amothersrewards@gmail.com. We'd love to see them. Earlier this spring, Not of This World painted her toes a beautiful deep red, or was it burgundy, and then superglued a tiny rhinestone in the center of each nail - lovely. Some of the ladies at Encounter wanted a picture of them to remember the idea. So please share your ideas with us. Let's have some Fabulous Friday fun! Love you and Have a great weekend in Jesus!


Making Your Own - Flavored Syrup & Comfort

As promised, here it is, the how-to of making your very own flavored syrups for coffee and other drinks. Ready for this? It’s just too easy. Honest, it really is.

First, you make a simple syrup. This is done by taking equal parts sugar and water and bringing to a boil. Once the granules of sugar have completely dissolved, add your flavorings. Extracts, flavorings, even ground spices can all be used to create the flavor of choice. If you have vanilla beans, you can scrape them and add directly to the syrup.

Now the fun part, place into container of choice. I use a miscellaneous collection of glass vinegar cruets and decanters, just because I like things to be pretty as well as functional. Any number of containers will work. I would avoid metal though, for safety’s sake. The container also needs to pour well. We don’t want to lose any of our special treat to dripping. I also put the sweetened condensed milk for my iced coffee into a cruet. I do keep the sweetened condensed milk in the refrigerator between uses, when I have it on hand. Sweetened condensed milk is a special treat that usually shows up at Christmas and branding time. Simple syrups don‘t always require refrigeration.

Possible flavor combinations are practically endless. Whatever flavor you enjoy is a flavor to add, maybe not all at once to the same syrup though. Another fun variation that I am going to be trying soon is the use of brown sugar instead of white in the simple syrup. Can you imagine chocolate extract with the rich brown sugar? What about vanilla? Wouldn’t that be so warm and cozy?

Right now we are thinking of cold drinks such as iced tea and/or lemonade. Flavored syrups can be used to create refreshing flavors for the warmer months too. Mint anyone? Strawberry? Raspberry? Let’s stop for a minute and picture ourselves sitting outside with a warm breeze lightly brushing our cheeks as we visit with a friend and sip an iced tea or lemonade. Shall we? Did you find yourself letting out a big, old sigh of enjoyment? I did.

A few things from the survivalist information I have been reading and hearing about have really stuck with me. The most surprising thing I learned from Les Stroud on his television show a few years back. The television show Man, Woman, Wild also taught the same thing in one of their episodes. What these survivalists taught is to create a sense of comfort, even a teeny tiny one. That doing this strengthens one emotionally which in turn strengthens physically. For instance, during one episode of Man, Woman, Wild, they brewed tea from Pine Needles. For Les Stroud it was obtaining a warming fire.

An indulgence that evokes a feeling of comfort will vary from individual to individual. No matter what one chooses to always keep on hand, the principle is the same. Even the tiniest bit of pleasure comforts, strengthens, and encourages in the face of extreme hardship and difficulties. If one is in the middle of serious financial lack, flavored syrups may seem a ridiculous luxury. Maybe they are. Perhaps though, they are just that little bit of cheer the situation needs.

Flavored syrups also make lovely, inexpensive gifts. A variety of syrups, some flavored coffee, and biscotti or shortbread might be just the gift to warm up a friend(s) this winter or bless a special Valentine. Naturally, they would enrich time spent with a friend(s) too.

Flavored coffees and syrups can be expensive to purchase. However, with recipes and how-tos for making your own, they become inexpensive gourmet gifts with which we can bless others. If we pay attention to sales and utilize coupons/special offers, we will be a blessing to the budget also. There is some serious love and warmth brewing here at Abundance. Drop in anytime. Bring your friends. Invite them all. The coffee pot’s on, the ice tea is brewed,  and the love’s flowing strong.


Flavored Coffee and Tea - Making Your Own

I feel almost guilty even sharing this. It is that easy. However, until I read how for myself, I did not know. I am thankful that someone else shared their knowledge with me so I am passing on the love. The fact that it is easy just makes it richer. Right?

Flavored coffee and/or tea. Expensive to buy. Easy to make your own, less expensive too. Now, to be honest, this is not cheap to make, just less expensive than if one were to purchase it from the store. However, a grocery store’s going out of business sale did bump this into the cheap category for me. So, look around and see if you can scout out some big sales in your area too. In addition, this recipe can be adapted to tea if coffee is not your drink of choice. Just omit the grinding of the coffee beans step.

Needed ingredients:Coffee beans (choice of roast) or tea

Flavorings desired (spices, whole ingredients, extracts)

Instructions:Place desired amount of coffee beans and flavorings in coffee grinder and grind to your choice of coarse, medium, or fine. ALTERNATIVELY, Place non-liquid flavorings and/or spices in blender and grind. Once ground, add to ground coffee or tea. Use to make coffee and tea as normal. Note: Liquid flavoring(s) or extracts can be added to ground coffee and/or tea when preparing to brew. DO NOT PLACE IN COFFEE GRINDER.

Seriously, that is it. Can you believe it? So easy. Not only that, real things can be used for flavoring. This eliminates any gross artificial aftertastes sometimes found in already flavored coffees. Maybe you don’t have coffee beans. Maybe they aren’t even close to being in the budget anytime soon. That is ok too. Extracts and ground flavorings such as orange zest, vanilla, apples, cinnamon, can be added to already ground normal, everyday coffee AND/OR tea. Consult your taste buds and allow your imagination to soar.

Been wanting to have some friends over but didn’t think you had anything special to serve? Think again. Throw the flavorings of your choice into the blender, grind them up, and mix them in with either coffee or tea prior to brewing. An evening of good friends, better conversation, and gourmet style flavored coffee and/or tea awaits. Some biscotti and/or shortbread would only enrich the experience, but those recipes are for another visit. Remember to come back and bring a friend. The coffee’s on, and the love’s flowing strong!


Grace Says...

Go here to read the post that reached out and grabbed me with the following quote. 

"But why do we, a people who celebrate a risen Christ, insist upon living like he is still dead? Why do we try hard to pay for our own sin (and expect others to try-hard to pay for their sins against us?) We live with veils over our masks over our painted up faces." Emily Freeman, author of  Chatting At The Sky blog and Grace For The Good Girl.

Grace For The Good Girl, have you read it yet? Here I am over six months later. It is still impacting my life. This journey to letting go of the try hard life and embracing grace is leaving no stone unturned. Everywhere I go, everytime I turn around, there it is...grace. Grace is essential; grace is key. For it is by grace I am saved and that not of myself. It is the gift of God lest I should boast. (Ephesians 2:8,9) Another version says that it is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself. It is not of our own doing, it came not through my own striving, but it is the gift of God.

A dear friend sent a video via email this week. The minister in the video made a statement that has been returning to my thoughts over and over again this week. "Religion says do. Grace says done." Jesus did it all. There isn't anything left for me to do except to receive what He has already done, by faith. Without faith, I can't receive grace. The last portion of the quote "Grace says done." takes me straight to the words of one of my favorite songs. 

It Is Finished
by Sarah Hart Pearsons

Grace says "You are loved"
In response I say, "Thank You, thank You Lord"
This is sweet salvation, this is sweet salvation
Grace says, "You are healed"
In response I say, "Thank You, I receive"
This is sweet salvation, this is sweet salvation

I believe because You said it
But I trust because I know You

It is finished, it is done
You have risen, I have won
It is finished, it is done
Now I'm singing hallelujah

Grace says, "You're redeemed"
In response I say, "Thank you I believe"
This is sweet salvation, this is sweet salvation
Grace says, "You are cleansed"
In response I say, ""Thank You I forgive"
This is sweet salvation, this is sweet salvation

Grace says, "You are loved"
Grace says, "You are healed"
Grace says, "You're redeemed"
Grace says, "You are clean"

It is finished, it is done
Jesus said it, the work is done
It is finished, it is done
Now I'm singing hallelujah

from the album
Strength & Beauty
in the presence of The Healer
Sarah Hart Pearsons


Christmas Posts Next Week

A quick note to let everyone know that next week "Christmas in July" posts will be posted on Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday. You won't want to miss these posts, especially if you have already begun planning and preparing for Christmas. "Christmas in July" posts will be popping up throughout the month. If you haven't signed up to receive posts directly in your email inbox, now might be the perfect time. Posts arrive free of charge eliminating the hassle of checking in each day. No post will be missed. Signing up costs nothing and requires little time or effort. Thank You for taking the time to read Abundance. You are appreciated, prayed for, and loved.

A Great Host

Psalm 68:11
11 The Lord gives the word [of power]; the women who bear and publish [the news] are a great host.

Not wanting to take scripture out of context, I want to clarify from the beginning that I am NOT saying the above verse refers specifically to women bloggers. Everyone clear on that? That is NOT what I am saying.

It does make me think of bloggers though. The first time I read it, a flash of wonder zapped through me. "That's what bloggers who are followers of Christ do! They publish the news of the Lord and His goodness, and they are indeed a great host." Not every blogger is a disciple of Jesus, and not every professing Christian publishes the news of the Lord. However, there is a great and mighty army of women, and yes men, who regularly pour the heart of God out into the whole world over. Mighty men and women of God hidden in the unexpected places of the small and insignificant publish the deep hidden truths of God's Word day in and day out. Blogs such as A Holy Experience by Ann Voskamp and Chatting At the Sky by Emily Freeman along with a host of others pour their lives out as a living offering to Jesus through the typed word.

God's Word is offered in many more locations than blogs. Has there ever been a time in the history of mankind where the teaching, even preaching, of the Word of God was as available as it is today? Once upon a time, in the not so distant past, a person who lived in a remote area had few opportunities to hear the Word of God preached. Ministers of the Gospel of Christ ministered by traveling throughout the countryside on horseback. Services were scattered and infrequent. Today, this is not so. Through internet and satellite television, books, and radio, spiritual food abounds. Bloggers are a part of God's rich abundance. What a humbling responsibility to be a blogger for Jesus.

Not only is the preaching of the Gospel's Good News available for all to receive, fellowship with other believers thrives online as well. Remote locations need not result in isolation. Followers of Christ need not starve from the lack of fellowship with other believers. Refreshing streams of fellowship can be found springing up all over the internet. Encouragment, teaching, training, mentoring, godly conversations, prayer, support, are all available for all who choose to participate.

There is a question that won't go away and leave me alone though: In the abundance of ministry and spiritual food, do I appreciate the banquet that is available? OR Have I gotten fat and lazy, expecting to be ministered to, even viewing it as "my right"? Have I remembered that I am not to consume only but to also serve the bread of His Word to others? (Matthew 20:26) To whom much is given, much is required. (Luke 12:48) Oh Lord! I have been given so much. May I not become a spiritual glutton, regularly partaking of Your Word yet failing to share it with those around me. In Jesus' Name, Amen - may it be so.


Tip For Tuesday

Today's tip is for married folk, women in particular: Wives, if you have children, don't forget that you were most likely their father's wife before you were their mother. You will hopefully still be his wife when they leave to establish homes of their own. So please take a gentle, loving tip from someone with 21+ years of marriage experience. Hold your husband close and your children loosely. Knowing that someday, the children will be leaving. Your husband, we sincerely pray, will remain. Children are treasures and rewards. They are however treasures and rewards that are going to leave home. Running and controlling the home is not their intended purpose or task.

Not only will your husband be blessed but your children will be strengthened and loved by this as well. Nothing is more comforting to a child than to know that his/her parents love not only him/her but each other as well. Knowing that their parents are truly one provides a security like none other to children. Making our spouses a top priority, second only to God Himself is a tip that offers potential for tremendous payoffs, blessings even. Abundance in the marriage,  Abundance in the home, what a delightful decision.

It's supper time! I get to put this tip in use! If I look, there are probably hundreds of opportunities to practice this tip, every day. Bye! Have a Blessed and Happy Fourth of July! I am praying for the freedom found through Christ to become an ever increasing reality the entire world over.


Monday's Meditation and Fresh Summer Flavors

Here is another portion of scripture to meditate=utter, mutter, and ponder on this week! "But offer and yeild yourselves to God as though you have been raised from the dead to [perpetual] life,...presenting them as implements of righteousness." reached out and especially caught my attention. Do I live as thought I have been raised to perpetual life? Perpetual never ends. Oh there is just too much in these verses to talk about in one setting. I am definitely going to be uttering, muttering, and pondering on these.
Monday's Meditation
"Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, Because we know that Christ (the Anointed One), being once raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has power over Him. For by the death He died, He died to sin [ending His relation to it] once for all; and the life that He lives, He is living to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him]. Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore rule as king in your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies, to make you yield to its cravings and be subject to its lusts and evil passions. Do not continue offering or yielding your bodily members [and faculties] to sin as instruments (tools) of wickedness. But offer and yield yourselves to God as though you have been raised from the dead to [perpetual] life, and your bodily members [and faculties] to God, presenting them as implements of righteousness. For sin shall not [any longer] exert dominion over you, since now you are not under Law [as slaves], but under grace [as subjects of God's favor and mercy]."
Romans 6:8 - 14

If you haven't tried them yet, these extra hot days are ideal for the refreshing drinks featured in earlier posts. Feel free to visit the archives and look them over. Another quick idea is to pop some fresh fruit in a glass of ice water and enjoy the refreshing flavor. Hint: An especially pretty glass or quart canning jar might make your drinks taste better too. If you use a striped straw and a sprig of mint, it will be even more delicious. Go visit Sugar Pie Farmhouse blog and see what I mean.